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