"I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." -Cardinal Francis George

Friday, November 19, 2010

Turretin says: "It's all about conscience, dude."

(From my response to Matthew Schultz in the previous post:) Here is the quote from Francis Turretin again for reference. As you put it, he is referring someone who disagrees with the decisions of his local church authority: “...they ought to undertake nothing rashly or disorderly and unseasonably, so as to violently rend the body of their mother, but to refer the difficulties they feel to their church and either to prefer her public opinion to their own private judgment or to secede from her communion, if the conscience cannot acquiesce in her judgment. Thus they cannot bind the inner court of conscience, except inasmuch as they are found to agree with the word of God” (Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 3 [Phillipsburg: P&R, 1997], 284). Refering to my claim that sola Scriptura requires the right of the individual to identify the church You said: "As for the meat of the matter, it is unclear how this "right" is "required" given what you've said. Perhaps it is because your language is confusing given the stage of inquiry in your critique. To say someone has the right to "identify" the Church suggests a time before one has completed such an identification. Do you mean something like re-identify? Or, really, the right to break fellowship with the Church? Yes, both. Although for the Protestant I would put it completely in the "re-identify" category because of the need to identify based on "apostolicity". For the Catholic, with apostolic succession, it is nearly all the former "initial" type with a dash of the latter (keeping on the lookout for heretical bishops that break communion with Rome). I mean, the Turretin quote is really clear on this. He puts this "right" squarely in the hands of the individual and it certainly is required to be in his hands considering that adherents to sola S. disagree on the identity of the church. He comes out and says basically that if your conscience says leave, then leave. As far as I can tell Turretin makes my point for me. Perhaps I am not a good communicator here, because it does just seem very clear and non-controversial. And when you say "the right to break fellowship with the Church?" that is not at all what a Catholic or a Protestant would say. NO ONE would ever think they were doing so. They would think they were moving closer to the true church. This is precisely what Turretin is talking about when he says people should follow their conscience. He is not saying they should be able to in good conscience "leave the church". He is talking about the right to identify the church. I think Arius could fully agree with Turretin and give him a big high-five. I don't see how Turretin could then fault Arius in any way considering the subjectivity in his (Turretin's) statement. You said: "If so, I don't see how that's anything of an "honest" admission, or why it would "influence" your conversion, as if this is somehow damaging to sola Scriptura." I was referring to the Turretin quote, and it was influential, because it is a very clear, concise, and orthodox (for Reformed theology) description of the nuclear fallout of sola Scriptura. (Keep in mind my view of sola Scriptura as a Protestant has been that it leads to an objective identification of the one true church). Turretin is being "honest" in this sense: I don't think he is very exited about the prospect of people doing what he says they are able to do, namely to leave their church to follow their conscience in another branch of the "church". That is something no Protestant likes to think about, but it is necessary to think about it, and Turretin gets down to the "dirty diaper" of sola Scriptura when he points out the fact that the whole thing is totally subjective. The fact that you and Keith use this quote as somehow defending sola S. is something I just don't understand. It is exactly this subjectivity that pushes people like me to the banks of the Tiber. And as for the tu quoque, the initial "identification" of the Catholic Church is just simply an order of magnitude in difference from the subjective "identification" of the church one must by necessity make constantly as a Protestant. Is the Turretin quote damaging to sola Scriptura? No, I found it to be devastating to it. And I spent two days depressed and walking around like a zombie when I realized this. (also Calvin's "let them eat cake" statement where he says a synod of true bishops should be convened to decide matters... uh ok Calvin, how?) Peace, David Meyer

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Catholic Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

The following is Keith Mathison's definition of sola Scriptura.
"The magisterial reformers argued that Scripture was the sole source of revelation, that it is to be interpreted in and by the church, and that it is to be interpreted within the context of the regula fidei."
I found it while reading here. Doesn't this sound a lot like what a Catholic would say about Scripture/Tradition? And if so, is not sola Scriptura just an emasculated Catholic doctrine? Especially if the term "sole source of revelation" is read as Scripture being materially sufficient. I mean, as far as I know Catholics don't deny that Scripture contains everything that Tradition contains and vise versa. I think a Catholic could (with proper qualification) say that at the end of the day the Scripture is his sole source of revelation. And Keith Mathison could (would!) say it as well (with proper qualification.) It is in the qualification that the subjectivity of the Protestant doctrine is revealed. The identity of the "church" is really the key here. Really what the meaty version of sola Scriptura (as opposed to solo Scriptura)is demanding is a subjective identification of what the church is. Of the three points in the statement, a Catholic only has to qualify #1. A Protestant must qualify all 3 and blush at the verbiage required for him to qualify #2 and #3.
1. Scripture is the sole source of revelation 2. it is to be interpreted in and by the church 3. it is to be interpreted within the context of the regula fidei
For the Protestant, #2 is out the window. I mean "in and by" what church? What if I disagree with that "churches" interpretation? Subjective identification (by the individual Christian) of a "church" who will do the actual interpreting mentioned in #2 is critical to the Protestant doctrine. #3 just boils down to a sort of "Vincentian cannon" for the Protestant. Which boils down to a mere Christianity that has every interpretation under the sun. So my question put another way is this: Is it fair to say that (A.) the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura first and foremost requires the right of the individual Christian to identify the church, while (B.) the Catholic doctrine of sola Scriptura (If there could be such a thing) requires a church that explicitly rejects and reverses (A.)? So as Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Luke, sola Scriptura is "true... from a certain point of view." And my main point is that the doctrine as written is not bad, but dies the death of a thousand qualifications as a Protestant doctrine. Not so as a Catholic one. After all, there is a reason why the Scriptural cannon is closed for Catholics. Scripture is complete and sufficient. And of course it needs interpreting... no one denies this. I think there may be a place for a Catholic to sometimes say "yeah, I agree with sola Scriptura... IF it means..." Perhaps granting this "sola" of the reformation in the qualified way I suggest could be way to help Protestants see the faulty assumptions underlying their view of Scripture.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Childrearing advice

You might think hard liquor is a great way to soothe baby. But trust me, they develop a tolerance and soon will drink you out of house and home.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chesterton on Abortion

"Let all the babies be born. Then let us drown those we do not like."

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues?

Chesterton rocks. If you have short attention span, watch this cheesy video. If you just want to read it like a caveman, I include the words below.
What is any man who has been in the real outer world, for instance, to make of the everlasting cry that Catholic traditions are condemned by the Bible? It indicates a jumble of topsy-turvy tests and tail-foremost arguments, of which I never could at any time see the sense. The ordinary sensible sceptic or pagan is standing in the street (in the supreme character of the man in the street) and he sees a procession go by of the priests of some strange cult, carrying their object of worship under a canopy, some of them wearing high head-dresses and carrying symbolical staffs, others carrying scrolls and sacred records, others carrying sacred images and lighted candles before them, others sacred relics in caskets or cases, and so on. I can understand the spectator saying, “This is all hocus-pocus”; I can even understand him, in moments of irritation, breaking up the procession, throwing down the images, tearing up the scrolls, dancing on the priests and anything else that might express that general view. I can understand his saying, “Your croziers are bosh, your candles are bosh, your statues and scrolls and relics and all the rest of it are bosh.” But in what conceivable frame of mind does he rush in to select one particular scroll of the scriptures of this one particular group (a scroll which had always belonged to them and been a part of their hocus-pocus, if it was hocus-pocus); why in the world should the man in the street say that one particular scroll was not bosh, but was the one and only truth by which all the other things were to be condemned? Why should it not be as superstitious to worship the scrolls as the statues, of that one particular procession? Why should it not be as reasonable to preserve the statues as the scrolls, by the tenets of that particular creed? To say to the priests, “Your statues and scrolls are condemned by our common sense,” is sensible. To say, “Your statues are condemned by your scrolls, and we are going to worship one part of your procession and wreck the rest,” is not sensible from any standpoint, least of all that of the man in the street. - G.K. Chesterton, The Catholic Church and Conversion (1926).

Monday, November 1, 2010

When a person is not satisfied with Christ...

TurretinFan to me:
David, You’ve provided an excellent example of what happens when a person is not satisfied with Christ.
Find the exchange here. This is what he is responding to: TFan said: “Instead of having any pope, Christ is the only head of our church. For us, God’s word alone is infallible. Do you think that’s not enough? If so, why?” David M. said: It is not that I think it is not enough, your religion SHOWS me the proof it is not enough. Look around dude, where is your unity? If Protestants were unified (as Luther and Calvin perhaps thought they would be before 500 years went by) your comment here would have some weight, and I most certainly would not have ever dared question sola Scriptura as a Reformed Christian. Its truth would be clearly displayed by its fruit. But its fruit is rotten. You say “Christ is the head” and “his word is infallible”. Agreed. Heretics like Greg Boyd or Ken Hagen or John Macarthur would agree too. For all I know you consider them Christians because they have some similarity to your understanding of the Gospel. (of course you know what a Roman Catholic would be bound to think of them… every Christian would need to personally ask YOU however if you consider them part of the church) Your visible church is a hodgepodge of disagreeing opinions about what they claim the infallible word says. But if I look at the fruit, it is pure disagreement, which means that the supposed “church” that results is by its own definition FULL of error. The book may be infallible, but your church has certainly not been a witness to that by a resulting unity in the truth of Scripture. You guys can say all day that the Catholic “fruit” is evil heresy and such, but instead of the weight of authority behind your claim, it has all the weight of a paper airplane of opinion lightly tossed in my general direction. THEY have the unity. Show me your unity and I will take you seriously when you say Christ is your head. Until that is shown, Christ’s own words in John 17 accuse you day and night. For you to say Christ is the “head” of a church with obvious and serious doctrinal disunity (doctrines your respective church authorities fully admit are disagreed on) just falls flat. Like a politician promising “change” it is just sort of one of those things Protestants say, and is *winked at* when it is known by all too just be viscerally not true. For Protestants, any “unity” spoken of can only be in the distant past or relegated to the far reaches of eschatology in the future. The divisions in the Protestant “church” run deep, are increasing, and the least common denominator of “clear” teachings to agree on to maintain the pretended unity are so watered down there can be only a nominal authority over each watery branch, but none over the Protestant tree. Your church, (whatever it is you describe has THE church, not just your local congregation) by your own admission (correct me if I am wrong) has: (A) Clipped haired female Pastors (B) Grape juice drinking memorialists who vacuum up the crumbs (C) Arminians (those absolutely opposed to pure monergism ala Calvin) (D) Credobaptists And all these areas have the OPPOSITE view accepted as a valid view in your “church”! I know you wish this weren’t so. How could you want this kind of disunity if you (I know you do) love Christ? Think on this sad scenario. Godly leaders in your church wanting to protect the unity of that church admonish someone that he is straying from the Scriptural path, but all he has to say in response is “my conscience is held captive by the word of God” to make their “authority” vanish like the fog at sunrise. AND THEY KNOW IT. I will not even be excommunicated for leaving the PCA. Not that it would matter a wink to me if I was, because I feel convinced based on THEIR authority (Scripture) that I am right and they are mistaken. they self admittedly have no more authority than I do. All they can do is say “we think you’re wrong”. Uhhh, …ok. I think you’re wrong too so see you later. Wow, the hammer of authority feels more like a rubber chicken. TFan, whoever makes the final doctrinal proclamation is the “Pope”. For you that is *you*, informed by other worthy sources like Scripture, tradition and councils of course. For me it is the actual Pope, who is informed by Bishops and the same sources as you. Someone needs to decide what “this is my Body” means. Your Pope decides for you, my Pope decides for me. You submit to your Pope (you) I submit to mine (THE Pope). You can say all day that “Christ is the only head of our church.” but the for you the way His headship is represented here on earth is by your interpretation of His inerrant word. The Protestant fruit I see is division, and Christ is not divided.