Tuesday, July 31, 2007

This is another snippet from the CARM discussion, "Who Gave the Reformers Authority?"


You forget the Church Came before the bible!

No, God is the primary author of Scripture. He is the source behind it. The same Gospel in the New Testament was preached in the Old Testament (Gal. 3:5-14). The basic Gospel truths were based on the Old Testament, and were later inscripturated in the writing of the New Testament. The doctrine was the same before it was written. As William Whitaker pointed out long ago, the Word of God is the seed of the church. The seed is more ancient. For a detailed look at this argument see: David King, Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith (WA: Christian Resources inc, 2001) p.130-136.

How do you know what constitutes the New Testament canon?

Since God is the primary author of his Word, I trust in his divine providence to reveal His word to His church. So, I “know,” because God has spoken.

How do you know for certain that these 27 books here in your New Testament are in fact inspired and should be in the New Testament?

This is basically the question of an atheist. It assumes that God does not have purposes in revealing His Word, and that He is incapable of protecting and preserving that Word. The canon is the result of God’s purposes. It is God who preserves His Word for His church. The Church, or the people of God, hear the voice of God. If the people of God are indwelt with the Spirit of God, would it not make sense that they will hear the voice of God when He speaks?

But this does not mean the people of God must be infallible in order to hear it. The Roman Catholic Church did not have an infallible declaration of the canon until 1546, yet, we find the people God previous to this able to know and use Scripture. In other words, the question assumes the need for an infallible Church to announce the canon, but when this paradigm is used to interpret church history, it fails to make sense of reality.

Also, you may wish to contact Catholic apologist Gary Michuta, a Catholic canon expert. He believes that certain books not included in the current catholic canon, yet included in the Septuagint, may be canonical, or possibly not, because Trent left particular books undecided as to their canonicty. So, according to Michuta, you can’t have certainty even with your infallible interpreter.

And how do you know for certain that maybe some inspired books haven’t been left out of the canon?

Again, another question of an atheist. As Dr. White has pointed out:“The entire idea of ‘lost scripture’ requires us to believe that God would go through the work of inspiring His word so as to provide for His church guidance and instruction and encouragement; but then, having inspired His Word, be shown incapable of protecting and preserving it and leading His church to recognize if for what it is” (Scripture Alone, p.116). So what your asking me is if God is a poor steward of his very own Word. I trust in God’s providence and sovereignty. The Church trusts in God to sovereignly preserve his Word.Usually atheist balks about certainty. If one begins that God does not exist, nothing can be known with certainty. But as a Christian, I begin with “God exists”. Thus, as John writes, “these are written so that you may believe”. God promises that His Word will cause belief. I trust God can do this. Do you?

Where in Scripture do we find some doctrines listed as essential, others as ‘secondary’? The answer is: ‘nowhere’.

Another point of an atheist. This is exactly what an atheist would argue: that God can’t write a decent book. The essential doctrines are about Christ and His work. The entire Bible is about this. All the doctrines about Christ and His work are essential.

Evangelicals and Fundamentalists disagree on central issues such as baptismal regeneration and the necessity of baptism…

This is the self-refuting argument that somehow, Roman Catholics are all unified in belief. They are not. Roman Catholics hold to sola ecclesia. This is their infallible source. It does not provide unity. One can find scores of Roman Catholics disagreeing with each other. Therefore, it is simply ridiculous for Roman Catholics to hold Protestants to a standard they themselves can’t live up to. That some people misinterpret or twist the Bible is not the fault of the Bible, hence not a proof against sola scriptura. In the same way, that I may possibly configure my computer incorrectly is not the fault of the owner’s manual that comes with it. The misuse of a sufficient source does not negate the clarity of that sufficient source.

Rome has only explicitly defined a handful of passages, and allows their theologians to speculate and use their private judgment on the majority of Scripture. What this means to Catholic laymen, is that in actuality, they can’t really know what the Scriptures do mean in most cases. Rome has claimed infallible interpretive rights, but rarely use the right. Catholics can claim unity, but without an infallible interpretation of almost the entirety of the Bible, their balking against alleged Protestant disunity is more a clanging gong or a facade rather than an actual argument.

12 comments:

Carrie said...

As many times as I read these same old arguments I remain to be surprised by how Catholics continue to belittle God and can't even see it.

theo said...

James wrote:
"Since God is the primary author of his Word, I trust in his divine providence to reveal His word to His church. So, I “know,” because God has spoken."

Dear brother James

Your reasoning perplexes me. As nearly as I can follow, you say that you know God is the primary author of those books and only those books because you know God has spoken.

As I've noted before, I simply *can't* be understanding this argument properly, as so many very intelligent and reasonable people tell me without guile and in utter candor that they do not see this as a circular statement that could apply to the Deutero-cannon, the Book of Mormon, or "Fred's Holy Book of Revelation and Video Game Hints."

Within five miles of the place I'm now sitting is a congregation that identifies itself as an "Independent" Baptist Church, where they teach that only the four Gospels as translated for the KJV are Holy Scripture. I ask without guile and with no intent other than to try to understand what it is that I simply cannot be grasping properly: how would you tell these people that they are wrong?

With all good will and in your service, I remain your humble brother in Christ,
--Theo

GeneMBridges said...

Theo,

How did the Ancient theologians know which books were canonical and which were not? What was their criteria?

Apostolicity
Orthodoxy,
Catholicity.

The Scriptures' are self-attesting. They make particular claims about themselves. The churches recognized those claims. That is what this means.

If it takes a council to authorize the canon, then how did anybody recognize the canon before Trent, and how did Trent know what to canonize?

Theo said...

Dear Gene,

Thanks for trying to address the question; however, it is James' opinion I'm interested in as it is his thoughts that raised the question. Regardless, please know that "Trent didn't establish cannon," does not answer the question, "How would you tell these people that they are wrong?"

Respectfully and sincerely,
--Theo

Iohannes said...

Have you seen Herman Ridderbos' book on Redemptive History and the New Testament Scriptures? It offers an interesting perspective on the relationship of the post-apostolic church and apostolic scripture.

GeneMBridges said...

Dear Gene,

Thanks for trying to address the question; however, it is James' opinion I'm interested in as it is his thoughts that raised the question. Regardless, please know that "Trent didn't establish cannon," does not answer the question, "How would you tell these people that they are wrong?"

Respectfully and sincerely,
--Theo


Of course, I did not say "Trent didn't establish canon." Once again, you can't seem to follow what I write. I simply asked you a question. Thank you for, yet again, failing to interact with what is put to you.

Given the fact that you can't seem to represent what I say to you here correctly, how am I to trust that you are representing this KJVO church correctly. What is their criterion for canonicity? That's where one would start. In other words, one would first be sure he understand their criterion correctly and then move from there, and, if you'll notice, I gave the early church's own criterion...

theo said...

Dear Gene: I'm sorry that I did not correctly understand whatever it was you were trying to convey in answer to the question. As I noted above, I'm having great difficulty understanding this reasoning.

Regardless, please know that asking "What is their criterion for canonicity?" does not answer the question,"How would you tell these people that they are wrong?" ..or to be more precise, as it appears you require, please recognize that the question I posed is not relative to Catholic doctrine. I understand fully how *I* would answer the question as a Catholic. What I sincerly do not understand is how James or you answer the question. I sincerely ask again, how do *you* answer the claims of this self-described Baptist Church? These folks are *not* Catholic. Imagine: "Yeah, Catholics don't get cannon--so what?--We know that only the four gospels ala KJV are scripture..." How do you tell them they are wrong? (or do you assert they are just as right as you are?) Refuting Catholicism does not clarify a thing for them.

I ask this question, simply and honestly because I don't understand this doctrine, especially as our brother James described it. Humbly I ask that if you wish to continue conversing, please actually address the question asked, rather than change the subject.

As always, I remain ever your humble and lesser servant,
--Theo

Churchmouse said...

Theo,

Then what is the logical alternative? If God cannot provide His word and guide His people because He "spoke it" and "it is." What is the viable alternative?

Jim,

One other thing that Catholics don't seem to get is that the Church doesn't "interpret" Scripture, rather God "enables" the Church to "understand" Scripture. The methodologies used are valid, whether they be hermeneutical, historical, cultural,etc., but these don't usurp what God ultimately is in charge of.

Peace,
Ray

Theo said...

Dear Churchmouse:

I'm sorry that I don't follow your question--not because it isn't well formed, but because I don't follow the original statement that our brother James made or your clarification of it. I don't understand what you mean by "He 'spoke it' and 'it is.' -- or at least I don't *believe* I understand it properly. To me it appears to be mere Gnostic assertion: "The Sovereign God told me what is and is not Scripture." I don't follow how you came by this revelation: by what means you *know* "God said it."

The church I described that teaches only the four Gospels are scripture is not a fiction. I don't understand what makes your revelation about what is and is not Holy Scripture infallibly correct and theirs assuredly incorrect. How do you tell them that they are absolutely 100% wrong? (They are, aren't they?)

Regarding your comment that the Church doesn't "interpret" Scripture, rather God "enables" the Church to "understand" Scripture, I believe you bring up an excellent point, although I'm not in 100% agreement with you. I believe it more accurate to say that while the Church can interpret Scripture, she should remember that it is because God enables the Church to understand Scripture.

Thank you for sharing your insight, Churchmouse. May God bless you and keep you. May He cause the light of His face to shine upon you and give you peace in Christ our Lord, forever and ever.

Humbly, I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo

theo said...

Gene wrote:
"Given the fact that you can't seem to represent what I say to you here correctly, how am I to trust that you are representing this KJVO church correctly."

Dear Gene:

Ah! Indeed I misunderstood not only your original post but also your second! Thus, your question is justifiably asked. Their claim about the four Gospels was something they regularly published in adds they took out in the local newspaper.

Regardless, my own question would remain even had I misunderstood their claim: it would merely be a hypothetical rather than an actual case.


You also wrote:
"What is their criterion for canonicity? That's where one would start. In other words, one would first be sure he understand their criterion correctly and then move from there, and, if you'll notice, I gave the early church's own criterion..."

I don't understand how *their* criteria affect your doctrine of what is and is not Scripture. I surely must misunderstand again.

Still, I do gather that you would make a case based upon the three criteria you outlined. This is at least a start in answering the question. Nevertheless, it is by no means an answer that shows them that your list of books is infallibly correct and theirs is incorrect. If we hypothetically imagine that they likewise claim they used the same three criteria to come to their conclusion, then at this point you and the KJVO church would be on par.

Regardless, I still don't follow how you:

-- infallibly know that each of those three criteria is a correct criterion for canonicity;

-- infallibly know that *only* those criteria are the correct criteria (unless you acknowledge another criterion or criteria);

-- infallibly know that *all* books you call Scripture meet all three of these criteria (For example, Why include Hebrews, which does not claim apostolic authorship, or why include Philemon which seems to lack Catholicity);

-- infallibly know that *only* those books you consider Scripture meet all three of these criteria (For example, why exclude the Gospel of Peter, whose authorship is no more or less authenticated than is 2nd Peter?);

Thank you for helping me begin to understand a teaching that I've always found impenetrable.

With humble thanks to God who alone is perfect, I remain your brother in Christ,
--Theo.

centuri0n said...

Catholic Apologetics: like bashing your hand with a hammer in order to save the life of your infant child. You do it, and you'll do it as many times as necessary, but by heaven, it HURTS.

theo said...

Centuri0n wrote...

"Catholic Apologetics: like bashing your hand with a hammer in order to save the life of your infant child. You do it, and you'll do it as many times as necessary, but by heaven, it HURTS."


Dear Centuri0n:

I'm sorry that my failure to grasp the doctrine of sola scriptura causes pain to some who would explain it to me. Nevertheless, simply saying that trying to explain it "hurts" does nothing to answer the honest and reasonable questions that naturally arise from the explanation thus far. Frankly, I fail to see how "Catholic Apologetics" even relates. The answer ought to be unrelated to Catholic teaching; and ought to be true even if the Catholic Church vanished today.

I'm trying to understand sola scriptura itself. Is it really nothing more than Gnosticism as our brother James' explanation appears to imply? Does it require an infallible Magesterium as our brother Gene seems to suggest? I seriously doubt that you, Gene or James believe either--and thus I end up where I began: perplexed, feeling that I must be misunderstanding this teaching, yet if so, lacking a clue to understand what the actual teaching must be.

With candor and without guile I remain your servant and brother in Christ,
--Theo