Monday, May 28, 2007

Sippo Quotes Alister McGrath’s book, Iustitia Dei


Catholic apologist Art Sippo recently cited Alister McGrath’s book, Iustitia Dei. This book is a history of the Christian doctrine of justification. Those of you who stop by this blog know I enjoy taking a look at those who cite this book.
Sippo was provoked by someone citing Harold O.J. Brown’s book, Heresies. Brown’s statement inferred Justification by faith alone was “…by no means new with Luther.” Brown didn’t offer proof, but rather referred his readers to a work by Hans Küng for more information. Sippo admits, “…it is true that the term ‘justified by faith alone’ WAS used in the Patristic and Scholastic literature prior to Luther. But not in the way that Luther used it and consequently, not in the manner that St. James condemned it.”
Sippo quotes McGrath stating:
"The significance of the Protestant distinction between -iustificatio- and -regeneratio- is that a FUNDAMENTAL DISCONTINUITY has been introduced into the western theological tradition WHERE NONE HAD EXISTED BEFORE [emphasis by McGrath]."

"However, it will be clear that the medieval period was astonishingly faithful to the teaching of Augustine on the question of the nature of justification, where the Reformers departed from it."

"The essential feature of the Reformation doctrines of justification is that a deliberate and systematic distinction is made between JUSTIFICATION and REGENERATION. Although it must be emphasised that this distinction is purely notional, in that it is impossible to separate the two within the context of the -ordo salutis- [the order of salvation], the essential point is that a notional distinction is made where none had been acknowledged before in the history of Christian doctrine."

"A fundamental discontinuity was introduced into the western theological tradition where none had ever existed or ever been contemplated before. The Reformation understanding of the nature of justification -- as opposed to its mode -- must therefore be regarded as a genuine theological novum."
Sippo concludes:
So I am afraid that [Harold O.J. Brown] got it wrong. Luther's doctrine was not known or taught prior to his time. It was entirely new: unbiblical, untraditional, and thereby heretical.”
In his usage of this book, Sippo attempts to show that the Protestant understanding of justification was unknown in church history previous to the Reformation. Further, this “fact” is supposed to “prove” that the Reformers deviated from the historical Catholic understanding of justification. Implied in this argument is the proposition that the Roman Catholic Church received their understanding of Justification from the Apostles, and subsequent Church history records the passing on of its understanding to the Church Fathers, and then ultimately to its dogmatic proclamation at the Council of Trent.
Pause for a moment and consider Sippo’s argument and usage of McGrath. Alister McGrath is a well-respected Protestant theologian. His book Iustitia Dei is not the work of someone with a “new perspective on Paul” or from a man who (to my knowledge) would call himself a “Reformed Catholic”. Why in the world would McGrath present argumentation giving historical support to Roman Catholicism? He isn’t. There are many things to keep in mind when Catholics like Sippo attempt to pull this rabbit out of a hat. Indeed, it is deception. It is a misuse of McGrath’s book. Here are some facts, context, and historical points not mentioned by Sippo.
Does McGrath deny Paul taught justification by faith alone? No. McGrath states, “It has always been a puzzling fact that Paul meant so relatively little for the thinking of the church during the first 350 years of its history. To be sure, he is honored and quoted, but - in the theological perspective of the west - it seems that Paul's great insight into justification by faith was forgotten.'” [Alister McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 19].
A key phrase in the above quotes used by sippo is “western theological tradition”. What does McGrath mean by this? I would assume Roman Catholics think it means their “tradition”- that is, the Roman Catholic Church received their understanding of Justification from the Apostles, and subsequent Church history records the passing on of its understanding to the Church Fathers. Luther then came along “out of the blue” and proclaimed sola fide, quite against the "apostolic tradition."
McGrath though begins his book by studying the Pre-Augustinian “tradition”. He states of this period that "For the first three hundred and fifty years of the history of the church, her teaching on justification was inchoate and ill-defined" [p. 23]. And also, “Furthermore, the few occasions upon which a specific discussion of justification can be found generally involve no interpretation of the matter other than a mere paraphrase of a Pauline statement. Justification was simply not a theological issue in the pre-Augustinian tradition” [19]. So, right from the start, McGrath notes 350 years in which one cannot account for what the exact understanding of justifcation was. This compounds the Catholic understanding of justification, because history is supposed to verify their conclusions. Here are 350 years of trouble for Catholics wishing to trace their doctrines in order to validate their doctrines.
McGrath makes the case that Augustine didn't know Greek and the entire direction of the Western Church was redirected away from what the Bible means by justification. Commenting on McGrath’s book, R.C. Sproul notes, “McGrath sees Augustine’s treatment of justification as pivotal to the subsequent development of the doctrine of justification in the Roman Catholic Church..." Sproul then quotes Mcgrath: “Augustine understands the verb iustificare to mean ‘to make righteous,’ an understanding of the term which he appears to have held throughout his working life. In arriving at this understanding, he appears to have interpreted -ficare as the unstressed form of facere, by analogy with vivificare and mortificare. Although this is a permissible interpretation of the Latin word, it is unacceptable as an interpretation of the Hebrew concept which underlies it.” [R.C. Sproul, Faith Alone : The Evangelical Doctrine of Justification, (Grand Rapids: Baker books, 1999), 99]. One must wonder about unquestioned Roman Catholic allegiance to Augustine’s understanding of the term justification. They’re putting all their chips with a guy who didn’t know Hebrew (or Greek on level needed to do Biblical exegesis), and simply used private interpretation to arrive at his etymological understanding.
Was Augustine’s view a “theological novum” (a favorite phrase Roman Catholics culled from McGrath)? Who previous to Augustine understood the term the way he did? Consider what McGrath notes: "The pre-Augustinian theological tradition, however, may be regarded as having taken a highly questionable path in its articulation of the doctrine of justification in the face of pagan opposition" [p. 18-19]. McGrath mentions that "For the first three hundred and fifty years of the history of the church, her teaching on justification was inchoate and ill-defined"[ Ibid. 23]. So, where is Augustine's view in the early church?
McGrath shows that the Reformers demonstrated both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it, and he notes this is true of “all periods in the history of doctrine”[187]. .McGrath notes “The protestant understanding of the nature of justification represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not” (184). Note there are two aspects to McGrath’s point: nature and mode. One aspect was a discontinuity, the other continuity. If one is to use McGrath’s insight, at least use it correctly. Be willing to put forth the actual position he presents. Be willing to admit McGrath says this is true of all periods in the history of doctrine.
There was a great ambiguity as to what exactly "justification" was even at Trent, and this is documented by McGrath:"The Council of Trent was faced with a group of formidable problems as it assembled to debate the question of justification in June 1546. The medieval period had witnessed the emergence of a number of quite distinct schools of thought on justification, clearly incompatible at points, all of which could lay claim to represent the teaching of the Catholic church." [p. 259)]. McGrath goes on to point out "...[T]here was considerable disagreement in the immediate post-Tridentine period concerning the precise interpretation of the decretum de iustificatione" [ibid. 268]. In other words, even after Trent made its decree on Justification, Catholics were confused as to how to interpret it!
Sippo is reading into McGrath what he wants to. McGrath is not arguing for Rome’s view of justification. A great question to ask Mr. Sippo is what exactly was the Roman Catholic doctrine of justification previous to Trent? Jaraslov Pelikan’s book, Obedient Rebels: Catholic Substance and Protestant Principle in Luther’s Reformation, points out:
“Existing side by side in pre-Reformation theology were several ways of interpreting the righteousness of God and the act of justification. They ranged from strongly moralistic views that seemed to equate justification with moral renewal to ultra-forensic views, which saw justification as a 'nude imputation' that seemed possible apart from Christ, by an arbitrary decree of God. Between these extremes were many combinations; and though certain views predominated in late nominalism, it is not possible even there to speak of a single doctrine of justification.” (p.51-52)
Pelikan says elsewhere:
"All the more tragic, therefore, was the Roman reaction on the front which was most important to the reformers, the message and teaching of the church. This had to be reformed according to the word of God; unless it was, no moral improvement would be able to alter the basic problem. Rome’s reactions were the doctrinal decrees of the Council of Trent and the Roman Catechism based upon those decrees. In these decrees, the Council of Trent selected and elevated to official status the notion of justification by faith plus works, which was only one of the doctrines of justification in the medieval theologians and ancient fathers. When the reformers attacked this notion in the name of the doctrine of justification by faith alone—a doctrine also attested to by some medieval theologians and ancient fathers—Rome reacted by canonizing one trend in preference to all the others. What had previously been permitted (justification by faith and works), now became required. What had previously been permitted also (justification by faith alone), now became forbidden. In condemning the Protestant Reformation, the Council of Trent condemned part of its own catholic tradition."[Source: Jaroslav Pelikan, The Riddle of Roman Catholicism (New York: Abingdon Press, 1959), pp. 51-52].
There is also the problem of Catholic apologetic double standards. The Catholic apologists assume Trent was following the tradition of the church, and there was no teaching of “faith alone” previous to Luther. In other words, Luther invented “justification by faith alone”. It didn’t exist until Luther. It can’t be verified in church history. It can’t be true. On the other hand, when the same historical standard is applied to certain Roman Catholic dogmas, like Mary’s Bodily Assumption, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc., this same historical standard is swept under the rug and hidden. One has to seriously question why a standard that Catholic apologists hold Protestants to is not likewise applied to their own beliefs. Wade through the corridors of church history and search for the threads of all Roman Catholic dogma. One falls flat of linking many of them back to the early church, or in some instances, even the Bible.

19 comments:

Apolonio said...

James,

We already went over this before but it's good to reiterate what has already been pointed out. Sippo uses McGrath's quote so that he can show that the Reformation's doctrine of justification is novel in the sense that no one understood Paul the way Luther did. That's a fact. Christians before Augustine may not use the same language or categories he did, but they were certainly not Protestant. For example, it was clear that they were synergistic. In fact, what is troubling with Luther is not simply that his notion was "novel," but that his doctrine **contradicted** the Fathers. In fact, I would say that Augustine's interpretation of justification as "to make righteous" isn't at all bad.

Showing that the doctrine of justification by the Reformers contradicted the Christians before their time may not absolutely prove that the Catholic Church is true, but it gives one good evidence to 1) reject the Reformation's doctrine and 2) that the Catholic Church's position is closer.

I spent one year studying first century Judaism (not that this is enough) and works of the law and I am increasingly certain that the Protestant's doctrine is plainly wrong. They simply misinterpreted Paul. I already offered a discussion on this subject and I have not heard what your response it. I understand if you don't have time. I don't have a lot of time either. But this subject is something that I would be willing to put time on instead of having free time. Again, the offer is to you or any of your readers.

James Swan said...

Sippo uses McGrath's quote so that he can show that the Reformation's doctrine of justification is novel in the sense that no one understood Paul the way Luther did. That's a fact.

Apolonio,

You’re “fact” demonstrates you have a poor comprehension of McGrath’s book. Roman Catholics like you, Mr. Sippo, and whoever else cite McGrath need to take the time and actually read McGrath.

Have you McGrath’s book? That's a fair question. If you haven't, you really can't know if either Sippo or myself is telling the truth. In other words, you would be in no position to tell me facts based on McGrath's book if you haven't read it.

If you want to dialog with me on McGrath:

First: explain my interpretation of McGrath

Second: Show me where my interpretation of McGrath is wrong

Third: Justify Catholic usage of this text.

If you or Sippo simply rip McGrath’s point of its historical context, this does not inspire me to want to interact with you.

Prove to me you've read McGrath's book.

Apolonio said...

James,

We already went over this before. I've read McGrath and I have already shown that I have read it when we talked about it before. Go to the comment boxes where you talked about me quoting McGrath and you will see that I have fully comprehended his work on this matter. I know his position on Augustine, etc. But that doesn't negate the fact that he said that Luther's interpretation is novel. You're the one who is saying that I am miscomprehending McGrath. Prove it. He says Luther's interpretation is novel. He says that the medievals were faithful to Augustine. Luther was not. Where did I go wrong? What you are arguing against is not what I have argued. I have said over and over again that I have used McGrath to show that Luther's interpretation is novel and that gives a reason to reject the Protestant's view on justification.


Finally, as for my "poor comprehension of McGrath," I'm not the one who finds his book to be difficult.

http://p102.ezboard.com/Augustine-and-Justification/fntrmindiscussionboardfrm9.showMessage?topicID=1592.topic

For a person to find his work to be difficult, it takes guts to tell someone whom you don't know if he read it or not or that he has a poor comprehension of it.

I'll dialogue with you on McGrath but not just him, but his view that Augustine got it wrong and that a clear reading of Paul's writings shows that Protestants are wrong if you promise that you will be willing. Heck I'll interact with you with everything he says in the book. We'll be as comprehensive as you want it to be. I have the book. I have sources to support or refute what he says. You want an academic analysis of McGrath, I'll do it. You want an academic analysis on Paul? I'll do it. We'll see who has read McGrath or not. We'll see who actually understands him. We'll see who can give a coherent argument for his own view. I just don't want to waste my time with someone who won't be committed to it. You know me, I will retract things or correct my views if I got it wrong. I said something careless about McGrath in the past and I have changed it. But the substantial part of it I still held on. If you don't want to dialogue, fine. Get someone else to do it.

James Swan said...

We already went over this before. I've read McGrath and I have already shown that I have read it when we talked about it before. Go to the comment boxes where you talked about me quoting McGrath and you will see that I have fully comprehended his work on this matter.

If you’ve fully comprehended McGrath, then why in the world would you say “Sippo uses McGrath's quote so that he can show that the Reformation's doctrine of justification is novel in the sense that no one understood Paul the way Luther did”? You would know that this quote, used by Roman Catholics is packed with assumptions, particularly assumptions about the historicity of Roman Catholic doctrine, and to use this quote, without explaining McGrath’s view, is simply….deception. In other words, it doesn’t prove what you think it does, and it attributes a view to McGrath that is slanderous against his work.

McGrath shows that the Reformers demonstrated both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it, and he notes this is true of “all periods in the history of doctrine”[187]. .McGrath notes “The protestant understanding of the nature of justification represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not” (184). Note there are two aspects to McGrath’s point: nature and mode. One aspect was a discontinuity, the other continuity. If one is to use McGrath’s insight, at least use it correctly. Be willing to put forth the actual position he presents. Be willing to admit McGrath says this is true of all periods in the history of doctrine.

You're the one who is saying that I am miscomprehending McGrath. Prove it. He says Luther's interpretation is novel. He says that the medievals were faithful to Augustine. Luther was not. Where did I go wrong?

Here is another aspect to this where I think Roman Catholics overstate their case, and I’ve already pointed this out numerous times via this blog. First you said no one understood justification the way Luther did, and then you add the medievals were faithful to Augustine. Catholics need to be honest and let people know McGrath is speaking about the Western tradition which follows Augustine, and notes the vagueness of the period which precedes it. In other words, the period preceding Augustine is anyone’s guess. When you say “no one”, and you cite McGrath, you need to qualify McGrath’s statement and explain he’s talking about that view which began with Augustine.

This is where I find sophistry at work. It’s a double standard, as I’ve pointed out over and over and over again, Augustine’s view is similar to Luther in that it shows “both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it.” Yet, Catholics are not honest enough to apply the same standards from McGrath to Augustine. It’s simply enough to cite McGrath about Luther without explaining what he means.

What you are arguing against is not what I have argued. I have said over and over again that I have used McGrath to show that Luther's interpretation is novel and that gives a reason to reject the Protestant's view on justification.

Apolonio, be consistent and apply the same standards to Augustine. If you do this, you will be forced to abandon Augustine as well. This is a good lesson for you as a young theologian. This will help you grasp that history does not determine truth. When the same historical standard is applied to certain Roman Catholic dogmas, like Mary’s Bodily Assumption, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc., this same historical standard is swept under the rug and hidden. One has to seriously question why a standard that Catholic apologists hold Protestants to is not likewise applied to their own beliefs. Wade through the corridors of church history and search for the threads of all Roman Catholic dogma. One falls flat of linking many of them back to the early church, or in some instances, even the Bible.

Finally, as for my "poor comprehension of McGrath," I'm not the one who finds his book to be difficult. http://p102.ezboard.com/Augustine-and-Justification/fntrmindiscussionboardfrm9.showMessage?topicID=1592.topic
For a person to find his work to be difficult, it takes guts to tell someone whom you don't know if he read it or not or that he has a poor comprehension of it.


Ah, the work of Jonathan Prejean strikes again! You guys crack me up. Indeed, McGrath’s book is a difficult book, and no I’m still not convinced you actually read McGrath’s book. I’ve spent considerable time working it through it, which is why I wonder if you’ve done likewise. If you have read it, you would admit that Catholics continually misuse the book, and you would join me in standing against people like Sippo. But no, you’re over here defending him, which is wrong on a number of levels.

I'll dialogue with you on McGrath but not just him, but his view that Augustine got it wrong and that a clear reading of Paul's writings shows that Protestants are wrong if you promise that you will be willing. Heck I'll interact with you with everything he says in the book. We'll be as comprehensive as you want it to be. I have the book. I have sources to support or refute what he says. You want an academic analysis of McGrath, I'll do it. You want an academic analysis on Paul? I'll do it. We'll see who has read McGrath or not. We'll see who actually understands him. We'll see who can give a coherent argument for his own view. I just don't want to waste my time with someone who won't be committed to it. You know me, I will retract things or correct my views if I got it wrong. I said something careless about McGrath in the past and I have changed it. But the substantial part of it I still held on. If you don't want to dialogue, fine. Get someone else to do it.

The test which you and many other Catholic apologists continually fail is being able to present McGrath’s view on the Luther, and the history of justification. I’ve already laid out what I expect from you:

First: explain my interpretation of McGrath

Second: Show me where my interpretation of McGrath is wrong

Third: Justify Catholic usage of this text (McGrath’s book)
Doing so can really only lead to one honest conclusion: Roman Catholics need to put this book away and honestly tell people that in Roman Catholic view it’s not the Bible that determines doctrine, nor is it history that determines doctrine. It is sola ecclesia that determines doctrine.

L P Cruz said...

McGrath simply missed the evidence. St Clement of Rome and Ambrose are on Luther's side and against McGrath.

L P Cruz said...

PS.

Chemnitz's work shows Luther's JBFA was no invention. Chemnitz showed that when the Fathers wrote in their combative mood, they sounded like advocating works, but when they were in their reflective and devotional moments they are in JBFA.

Would one dare present one's work to God in their death beds? Chemnitz showed that the Fathers (some) relied on Christs work.

James Swan said...

L P Cruz, thanks for your comments. Mr. Latar may have some questions for you.

My bottom line is this: history is interesting, and can be informing, but it does not determine Biblical truth. In other words, I don't really ultimately care who, or who did not, hold Luther's position, or even something similar to Luther's position.

It really ultimately doesn't matter if I were to conclude that sola fide finds no support in any of the Early Church Fathers. Sola Fide is based on grammatical and exegetical work on the Biblical text, not on the testimony of history.

Either the Bible teaches it, or it does not.

On the other hand, I will continue to use McGrath as an opportunity to point out double standards in the Roman Catholic position, and also to expose their unwillinglness to cite McGrath accurately.

Apolonio said...

McGrath notes “The protestant understanding of the nature of justification represents a theological novum, whereas its understanding of its mode does not” (184). Note there are two aspects to McGrath’s point: nature and mode. One aspect was a discontinuity, the other continuity. If one is to use McGrath’s insight, at least use it correctly. Be willing to put forth the actual position he presents. Be willing to admit McGrath says this is true of all periods in the history of doctrine.


Response:
How does McGrath's quote above actually hurt the argument I have been putting forth? If you actually read McGrath's argument carefully, you will see that what we have been arguing is consistent what he said. He says, as you quoted, that the Protestant understanding of the **nature** of justification represents a theological novum. What does he mean by the nature of justification? He quotes Ritschl in saying that there is no theologian in the Middle Ages the Reformation idea of justification, that is, "the deliberate distinction between justification and regeneration...Their deliberate treatment of the idea of justification proceeds rather on the principle that a real change in the sinner is thought of as involved in it--in other words, the Reformation distinction between the two ideas is at the outset rejected" (184). He then says that the way to distinguish whether the doctrine of justification is Protestant or not is "whether justification was understood forensically" (ibid.). He then speaks of Melanchton who tried to defend the "catholicity" of the reformation doctrine by saying it is a legitimate interpretation of the theology of Augustine, yet McGrath says that the reformers clearly departed from it (184-185). He then gives other examples of how a Protestant may argue that there was a continuity with western tradition such as the predestination approach or how the **content** of justification was the same, but McGrath says, "this cannot be regarded as an adequate scholarly foundation for dealing with the relationship between the doctrines of justification of the late medieval period and the Reformation--precisely because *****there exists such significant differences between their understanding of the nature of justification**** that an inquiry into its mode is no longer necessary" (186). Now, what is actually the "nature of justification" understood by Protestants? Briefly, they are 1) justification is understood forensically, 2) deliberate distinction between the concept of justification and sanctification, and 3) formal cause of justification is to be understood as the alien righteousness of Christ imputed to man (182). Speaking of Luther with regards to #3, he says, "he nevertheless introduced a decisive break with the western theological tradition as a whole by insisting that, through his justification, man is intrinsically sinful yet extrinsically righteous" (182-183).

James S says,
First you said no one understood justification the way Luther did, and then you add the medievals were faithful to Augustine. Catholics need to be honest and let people know McGrath is speaking about the Western tradition which follows Augustine, and notes the vagueness of the period which precedes it. In other words, the period preceding Augustine is anyone’s guess.

Response:
Umm...as I said, "no one understood justification the way luther did...the medievals were faithful to Augustine." Notice that what I said says is faithful to what McGrath says and it is a sentence which the pre-Augustine is open. That sentence itself does not misrepresent McGrath nor is it dishonest. And I also added, "Christians before Augustine may not use the same language or categories he did, but they were certainly not Protestant." That sentence shows that I have clearly read McGrath on that issue and that is why I added that sentence (because of his stance on pre-augustine). You need to learn how to interact with the arguments of other people.

As far as the "Assumption, Indulgences, etc" argument is concerned, I have already interacted with that argument in your other posts and I don't need to reiterate what I said.

What's my argument then? As I have said, Showing that the doctrine of justification by the Reformers contradicted the Christians before their time may not absolutely prove that the Catholic Church is true, but it gives one good evidence to 1) reject the Reformation's doctrine and 2) that the Catholic Church's position is closer. I am analytic enough to know that even though 1 and 2 is true, it means that the Catholic Church is the true Church. But if 1 and 2 are true, it is a good reason to reject the Reformation.

So I have interacted with you on McGrath and how it does not hurt my argument. I have shown that I have not been dishonest on using him. Finally, you said,

"Roman Catholics need to put this book away and honestly tell people that in Roman Catholic view it’s not the Bible that determines doctrine, nor is it history that determines doctrine. It is sola ecclesia that determines doctrine. "

Response:
The whole "sola ecclesia" rhetoric. Why don't you look up our past exchanges and actually respond with what I have said on this? You spoke of circularity. I refuted that argument. I don't know of any response from you. Look at all the times I have commented on your posts and you will see that you have failed to respond properly to the arguments I have presented.

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2006/08/infallible-pronouncements-based-on.html

That's just *one*. Sure I understand about your time availability but don't think you can get away with reiterating old arguments that I have already responded to and you have not sufficiently interacted with.

Apolonio said...

lp cruz,

With regards to Ambrose, how can you reconcile his interpretation of Romans 4 regarding David with Luther?

Apolonio said...

by the way James, you still have not answered my offer on this. if we are going to continue, tell me if you're going to be committed to this. i don't want to waste my time nor yours. so again, either we have a comprehensive discussion on this or not.

Apolonio said...

Sola Fide is based on grammatical and exegetical work on the Biblical text, not on the testimony of history.

Response:
Again, if you hold this view, then I would like to see you defend it. You keep saying this but I don't see you defending it. Let's go to Paul. Let's go to Christ. Let's go to James. A comprehensive discussion. We're all busy but since you make so many assertions without defense, I would like to see whether you are actually reasonable in holding those positions.

Apolonio said...

I am analytic enough to know that even though 1 and 2 is true, it means that the Catholic Church is the true Church. But if 1 and 2 are true, it is a good reason to reject the Reformation.


Response:
Ooops...that should read, "i am analytic enough to know that even though 1 and 2 are true, it does not mean that the CC is true."

L P Cruz said...

James,

I agree with your logic. But our case that the Fathers believed or used the principle of Sola Scriptura as a theological method is a lot stronger than that.

Hence from principle of Sola Scriptura, it does not matter if the Fathers did not articulate JBFA although I believe some did.

From Sola Scriptura, the Fathers subjected themselves to the same rule as they subjected others Fathers like them. So one can quote all the Fathers they like and even Confusius and so what? Are we arguing by authority? Fine, one's authority or scholar I just simply subject to Scripture and see where it stacks up.

Apolonio,

Amigo mio,

As to Ambrose on Rom 4, it would be good to see a passage we can both exegete. Give me something specific that you are referring to.

tu compadre

Lito

pilgrim said...

So who dies and made McGrath pope?

Apolonio said...

lito,

is that spanish? I don't remember using those words in tagalog. Maybe you're speaking in a different dialect? Anyway, the Ambrose passage I am referring to is Concerning Repentance ch. 5.

GeneMBridges said...

Let's go to James. A comprehensive discussion.

YAWN. A good place for you to start would be exegetical fallacies. SEMANTIC INFLATION

The disputant will equate the mere occurrence of a word with a whole doctrine associated with the word.

For example, a Catholic will compare and contrast Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. But the mere fact that James uses the word “justification” doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument. Words and concepts are two different things.

Further, to compare and contrast James and Paul or to use James’ use of “justification” ito reinterpret Paul’s usage—and thereby disprove sola fide is a classic example of Semantic Incest.

James Swan said...

Apolonio,

I was out all day on Monday, I will be out all day today. By "all day", I mean, "hours in which the sun shines". I only skimmed through the first of your comments.

I'm only interested in making sure McGrath is quoted accurately by Roman Catholics. Whether that is worth your time or not, is up to you.

I will be focusing on this only. In other words, if you present unrelated material, I will not be responding to it.

Keep in mind, for Roman Catholics to quote McGrath's book accurately, they must put the comments they love to cite from him in the context of his book. I posit, that when this is done, no wind will drive the sails of the Catholic apologetic cruise ship to infallible certainty.

Apolonio said...

james,

take your time. it's better if we get this accurately and rigorously. take a couple of days to think about the issue.

ill be going to new hampshire until sunday. ill check it when i come back.

David Waltz said...

Hello James,

You posted:

James:>>One must wonder about unquestioned Roman Catholic allegiance to Augustine’s understanding of the term justification. They’re putting all their chips with a guy who didn’t know Hebrew (or Greek on level needed to do Biblical exegesis), and simply used private interpretation to arrive at his etymological understanding.>>

Me: Catholic theologians are not ‘slaves’ to the thought of St. Augustine; though Augustine is highly respected, his not considered infallible. Yet, Protestants should not lose sight of the fact the Augustine has heavily influenced virtually ALL of Western Christianity (excepting those who reject have rejected the great ecumenical creeds—e.g. Socinians, neo-Arians, Unitarians, etc.). Perhaps we need to reasses Augustine’s significant impact on Trinitarian thought given his weak language skills?

James:>>Was Augustine’s view a “theological novum” (a favorite phrase Roman Catholics culled from McGrath)?

Me: You bet is was; and so was his understanding of the Trinity! (Which, BTW, is by far the dominant view among Evangelicals.)

James:>>So, where is Augustine's view in the early church?>>

Me: Same place as his Trinitarin view…

James:>>McGrath shows that the Reformers demonstrated both continuity and discontinuity with the period which immediately preceded it, and he notes this is true of “all periods in the history of doctrine”[187].>>

Me: McGrath is spot-on! He is stating a dictum I have embraced for well over 2 decades now. Now the next question should be: how does one know if and when a theological development/novem is the correct one? What happens when the Biblical evidence can be read (and consistently so), more than one way?

James:>>Be willing to admit McGrath says this is true of all periods in the history of doctrine.>>

Me: I do, and I have consistently have done so for quite some time now. Unfortunately, it has been my experience (with both Catholics and Protestants) most give mere lipservice to McGrath’s important dictum—including McGrath himself!

Grace and peace,

David