Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A little love to the atheists out there

Big fat hat tip to Truth Unites... and Divides:

I read the following article by Avery Dulles earlier this year and it would seem to have adverse impact on the doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus. An excerpt: "Who, then, can be saved? Catholics can be saved if they believe the Word of God as taught by the Church and if they obey the commandments. Other Christians can be saved if they submit their lives to Christ and join the community where they think he wills to be found. Jews can be saved if they look forward in hope to the Messiah and try to ascertain whether God’s promise has been fulfilled. Adherents of other religions can be saved if, with the help of grace, they sincerely seek God and strive to do his will. Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice. God’s saving grace, channeled through Christ the one Mediator, leaves no one unassisted."

From
Who Can Be Saved?

...


According to Wikipedia, Cardinal Dulles is quite the Catholic theologian:
"Cardinal Dulles served on the faculty of Woodstock College from 1960 to 1974 and that of The Catholic University of America from 1974 to 1988. He has been a visiting professor at: The Gregorian University (Rome), Weston School of Theology, Union Theological Seminary (New York), Princeton Theological Seminary, Virginia Theological Seminary, Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Boston College, Campion Hall, Oxford, the University of Notre Dame, the Catholic University at Leuven, Yale University, and St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie. Cardinal Dulles is the author of over 700 articles on theological topics, and has published twenty-two books. Past President of both the Roman Catholic Theological Society of America and the American Theological Society and Professor Emeritus at The Catholic University of America, Cardinal Dulles has served on the International Theological Commission and as a member of the United States Lutheran/Roman Catholic Dialogue. He is presently a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. He has an impressive collection of awards, including Phi Beta Kappa, the Croix de Guerre, the Cardinal Spellman Award for distinguished achievement in theology, the Boston College Presidential Bicentennial Award, the Christus Magister Medal from the University of Portland (Oregon), the Religious Education Forum Award from the National Catholic Educational Association, America magazine's Campion Award, the F. Sadlier Dinger Award for contributions to the catechetical ministry of the Church, the Cardinal Gibbons Award from The Catholic University of America, the John Carroll Society Medal, the Jerome Award from the Roman Catholic Library Association of America, Fordhams Founders Award, Gaudium Award from the Breukelein Institute, and thirty-three honorary doctorates.

Many thanks to Truth Unites...and Divides for the highly interesting piece of work. 'Course, I kinda don't think that the atheists I usually talk to online are all that interested in the Christian heaven...

70 comments:

Carrie said...

That was a great find by TUAD!

As I said over at Triablogue, I heard Jimmy Akin say essentially the same thing on a Catholic Answers broadcast - that an atheist can be saved. Luckily I wasn't hurt when my jaw hit the floor.

I was planning on transcribing the CA broadcast, but now I don't have to thanks to the Dulles article.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Thanks for the hat tip and the warm kudos Rhology and Carrie!

I have engaged the topic of extra ecclesiam nulla salus several times with Catholics and how Cardinal Dulles' article effectively hollows out and eviscerates their doctrine of EENS, and yet none of them will repudiate Dulles and his article. Instead they'll engage in ad hominem attacks on me for quoting Cardinal Dulles.

How dishonest is that?

P.S. I am deeply honored to help out a teammate of James White. I hope that I may be of further assistance and service in the future.

Peace and Blessings,

A 5-Sola Christian with the blog handle "Truth Unites... and Divides"

BillyHW said...

You guys shouldn't go around disparaging the Catholic doctrine of Invincible Ignorance. For some of you it'll be your only hope!

:)

Rhology said...

I am deeply honored to help out a teammate of James White.

Well, that'd be a teammate of a teammate of James White. Just so we're being proper. ;-)

Turretinfan said...

"You guys shouldn't go around disparaging the Catholic doctrine of Invincible Ignorance. For some of you it'll be your only hope!"

I suppose we also shouldn't go around disparaging the Muslim doctrine of arbitrary divine forgiveness, for the same reason.

Actually, the latter example is more persuasive. For if God were as described by the Vatican, we'd be better off being consistent Reformed believers than inconsistent Reformed believers. Contrariwise, if God were as the Muslims described, we'd be better of trying to find ways to avoid upsetting him.

So, no. The doctrine of "Invincible Ignorance" is just a man-made doctrine. It's not exegetically derived from Scripture. It's not something to be believed by the faithful.

In fact, it is contrary to Scripture. Nevertheless, the fact that it is not taught by Scripture is a sufficient ground for its rejection as dogma to be believed.

The same, of course, goes for the Muslim view of God that suggests that God forgives sin arbitrarily, without satisfying his justice.

-Turretinfan

BillyHW said...

How do you tell the difference between a doctrine that is not found in the Bible vs. a doctrine that you are merely incapable of finding in the Bible.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Well, that'd be a teammate of a teammate of James White. Just so we're being proper. ;-)

My bad. I initially thought you were James Swan!

No matter. I'm happy to be the waterboy for a teammate of a teammate of James White as we all serve our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.

BillyHW: "How do you tell the difference between a doctrine that is not found in the Bible vs. a doctrine that you are merely incapable of finding in the Bible."

Are you referring to RCC doctrines?

BillyHW said...

Well I was asking turretinfan, but if you want to chime in a well, you are very welcome.

How can you tell the difference between a doctrine that is not found in the Bible vs. a doctrine that you are merely incapable of finding in the Bible?

I am referring to any proposed doctrine, from any party.

Turretinfan said...

BillyHW:

We place the burden for demonstrating the Biblical status of a doctrine on the proponent of the doctrine.

If they cannot demonstrated from Scripture, then we reject them as dogma.

-TurretinFan

Alexander Greco said...

Turretinfan, first you must demonstrate that the bible teaches that all doctrines must be demonstrated out of the bible. Hopefully you will do a better job with this than you have with our debate on natural law and contraception.

Paul Hoffer said...

How ironic! Protestants, here no less, preaching "Extra ecclesiam nulla salus". I have printed this out and will store it for later exposition. Thank you!

Of course, you only provided the conclusory paragraph of the article leaving out a significant portion of Cardinal Dulles' discussion and the bases upon which he bases his conclusion. Such editing creates a false impression thereby uncharitably distorting what the Catholic Church teaches. This is an unfortunate habit of the posters on this blog which is further exacerbated by failing to provide links to the article being commented on so the reader is left with no ability to form their own impression. So much for your faith in private judgment and discernment.

Rather than argue with such tactics I will let the reader read the article for himself:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=6126

After going through a number of scripture passages demonstrating what the Church teaches, Cardinal Dulles summarizes his view of its teachings as follows:

"From these and many other texts, I draw the conclusion that, according to the primary Christian documents, salvation comes through personal faith in Jesus Christ, followed and signified by sacramental baptism."

Only after stating this summary of what the Catholic Church teaches, does he go on to answer the question why it may be possible for someone outside of the Church, whether they be atheist, pagan, Moslem, Jewish or Protestant, can be saved. The bottom line is this: what goes for an atheist here is applicable to a Protestant in Catholic teaching. It may be possible for a person to be saved outside of belonging to the Catholic Church no matter how many times you folks here claim the Catholic Church teaches otherwise. I have argued such here before in defending the fact that the Catholic Church does not even claim that Martin Luther is damned to hell despite Mr. Swan's insistence to the contrary.

Cardinal Dulles expresses his reasons for this view:

"We cannot take it for granted that everyone is seeking the truth and is prepared to submit to it when found. Some, perhaps many, resist the grace of God and reject the signs given to them. They are not on the road to salvation at all. In such cases, the fault is not God’s but theirs. The references to future punishment in the gospels cannot be written off as empty threats. As Paul says, God is not mocked (Gal. 6:7).

[However] we may conclude with certitude that God makes it possible for the unevangelized to attain the goal of their searching. How that happens is known to God alone, as Vatican II twice declares. We know only that their search is not in vain. “Seek, and you will find,” says the Lord (Matt. 7:7). If non-Christians are praying to an unknown God, it may be for us to help them find the one they worship in ignorance. God wants everyone to come to the truth. Perhaps some will reach the goal of their searching only at the moment of death. Who knows what transpires secretly in their consciousness at that solemn moment? We have no evidence that death is a moment of revelation, but it could be, especially for those in pursuit of the truth of God.

Meanwhile, it is the responsibility of believers to help these seekers by word and by example. Whoever receives the gift of revealed truth has the obligation to share it with others. Christian faith is normally transmitted by testimony. Believers are called to be God’s witnesses to the ends of the earth."

Personally, I think one can start out being one of God's witness, is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

God bless!

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan, first you must demonstrate that the bible teaches that all doctrines must be demonstrated out of the bible."

Really? Says who? You?

-TurretinFan

BillyHW said...

Nice cop-out turretinfan.

Carrie said...

Of course, you only provided the conclusory paragraph of the article leaving out a significant portion of Cardinal Dulles' discussion and the bases upon which he bases his conclusion. Such editing creates a false impression thereby uncharitably distorting what the Catholic Church teaches.

The original article is linked from Rhology's link to Triablogue. Two clicks instead of one.

And I see no "false impression" made by just listing the conclusion of the article, the point of the article is "who can be saved"? The final conclusion in Catholic theology is that anybody can be potentially saved, even atheists.

That is not a scripturally-based assertion, it is just a comfortable way for modern Catholicism to answer the "what about...?". Of course, you might want to ask yourself why God can grant some type of grace to an atheist that they can "work with" to enable them to be saved w/out faith, but he can't grant them the grace to believe in Christ and/or get the gospel to them.

But the more important point is that you will never find this loophole of faithless salvation in scripture.

Personally, I think one can start out being one of God's witness, is telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Telling anyone that they can be saved without faith in Christ is not the truth and it is no witness whatsoever.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

BillyHW: "How do you tell the difference between a doctrine that is not found in the Bible vs. a doctrine that you are merely incapable of finding in the Bible."

Does Carrie's comment help answer your question, BillyHW when she wrote (in reference to Dulles' article): "Telling anyone that they can be saved without faith in Christ is not the truth and it is no witness whatsoever."

Alexander Greco said...

Actually Turretinfan, by logical implication, it is you who are proposing via your own standard that you must demonstrate that the bible teaches that all doctrines must be demonstrated out of the bible. Is sola scriptura not a doctrine? I'm disappointed that, similar to our natural law discussion, you refuse to engage the argument.

Alexander Greco said...

"Telling anyone that they can be saved without faith in Christ is not the truth and it is no witness whatsoever."

So a child cannot be saved?

Turretinfan said...

BillyHW,

It's actually not a copout, although might look rather like one. You see, if it's just your opinion that I should do that - it's no big deal. Greco has a better answer, which I'll address next:

"Actually Turretinfan, by logical implication, it is you who are proposing via your own standard that you must demonstrate that the bible teaches that all doctrines must be demonstrated out of the bible. Is sola scriptura not a doctrine?"

We hadn't really gotten to the entire question of sola scriptura. But actually there is reason why it does not follow by logical implication.

It would help if we changed to a less controversial subject like Scrabble. Hopefully you're familiar with that game.

Suppose that I commit myself to the standard that if a word is not in the scrabble dictionary, it is not a valid word. Then, if someone plays a word, I can challenge it, and ask them to demonstrate from the Scrabble dictionary that it is a valid word. Indeed, that's fairly close to how Scrabble works.

Now, it would be absurd to require the Scrabble dictionary itself to say that if a word isn't found in it, it shouldn't be accepted as valid. After all, some people don't buy the official Scrabble dictionary, they just whatever dictionary they have lying around the house. That dictionary is definitely not going to contain the standard.

It's a little different here - of course - because you want to view Sola Scriptura as being analogous to just another word.

But what if Sola Scriptura is essentially a presuppositional acceptance of the truth of Scripture? We believe whatever the Scripture says as a presupposition.

Then, for whatever reason, we have doubts about some doctrine that is presented to us by someone. Where are we going to go? To the source we trust, of course: to Scripture.

That's ultimately how it works: we know we can trust Scripture: but this "John Doe" guy or this "TurretinFan" -- we've never heard of him! So if TurretinFan suggests something, we turn to something we trust to see if he's right.

I submit to you that the standard itself is rather different than the doctrines taught by itself. In short, it's not just another word - not just another doctrine. So, ultimately, the logical implication is not quite as you seem to think.

-TurretinFan

BillyHW said...

Ah yes, the famous argumentum ad scrabbulum defense. Triple Word score!

Paul Hoffer said...

Hello Carrie,

I appreciate the fact that you pointed that one may find a limk on another blog. It would have been nice if the article here said that. However, since it is hidden in there, I accept your gracious chide with due humility and will remember in the future when I visit again that I should expect to play "Where's Waldo" to hunt for those kinds of things before I comment on same. I apologize that I was not very good at playing that game with my children.

Regardless of how you may wish to interpret Cardinal Dulles' words or how you may wish to interpret and judge what Scripture says, for that matter in your own private fallible way, Cardinal Dulles' views proves the point that I and other Catholics have argued here before~that God reserves the right to judge whom He will, how He wills. While we are taught that the only means of salvation is through Christ Jesus and being marked as His through Baptism, God is free to choose how and to whom He extends His mercy and salvation. Isn't that the best example what you Protestant folk are saying when you talk about God's all-encompassing Sovereignity? Why do you deny Him the right to actually exercise it how He chooses to do so?

Regarding the atheist-can-be-saved part, read closely what Cardinal Dulles said:

"God wants everyone to come to the truth. Perhaps some will reach the goal of their searching only at the moment of death. Who knows what transpires secretly in their consciousness at that solemn moment? We have no evidence that death is a moment of revelation, BUT IT COULD BE, especially for those in pursuit of the truth of God". (Emphasis mine)

Thus, what Cardinal Dulles is saying is that is possible at the threshhold of a non-believer's death, which would include atheists, God could call to them and extend to them His salvific grace to allow the non-believer the opportunity one last time to accept Christ and be saved. Notice what he did not say: that an atheist can somehow earn his way to heaven because he was a nice guy or did good works.

God has revealed through the Word of God and (if you are Catholic) through His Tradition that the only sure means of gaining heaven is through Jesus Christ and His Church to which we become members by baptism. Both Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church makes it plain that this is the only assured means of salvation. Moreover, it is also incumbent on each Christian to share the truth of Christ Jesus with all others as best as we are able so as many as possible can be saved.

However, it is plain from Scripture that it is not for the Catholic Church, humble me, or even Popette Carrie the First in an exercise of infallible judgment, to decide who goes to heaven or to hell. God alone has that perogative and right. See, Mt. 7:1-5; 1 Cor. 5:13. If you were to learn at final judgment that Cardinal Dulles is right and you were wrong here and God, in His infinite mercy, did choose to spare some who you would not have regarded as being among the "elect" or "saved" would you rejoice at His mercy or would you be mad with God because He didn't reveal to you all of His plans first?

I guess what I must ask is this: Is God not allowed to do what He chooses with what belongs to Him? Or do you begrudge God's possible generosity of saving those outside your particular brand of Christianity? I know what the answer is, do you? Hint: Mt. 20:1-16.

God bless!

Paul Hoffer said...

I apologize for the poor grammar and spelling. It's 2:00 in the morning and my cats decided to be distractions because they are annoyed with me for not being in bed so I can be their pillow.

Turretinfan said...

"Ah yes, the famous argumentum ad scrabbulum defense. Triple Word score!"

You've got panache, I'll give you that!

-Turretinfan

Matthew Bellisario said...

Quoting Turretin fan, "It would help if we changed to a less controversial subject like Scrabble. Hopefully you're familiar with that game.

Suppose that I commit myself to the standard that if a word is not in the scrabble dictionary, it is not a valid word. Then, if someone plays a word, I can challenge it, and ask them to demonstrate from the Scrabble dictionary that it is a valid word. Indeed, that's fairly close to how Scrabble works."

"That's ultimately how it works: we know we can trust Scripture: but this "John Doe" guy or this "TurretinFan" -- we've never heard of him! So if TurretinFan suggests something, we turn to something we trust to see if he's right.

I submit to you that the standard itself is rather different than the doctrines taught by itself. In short, it's not just another word - not just another doctrine. So, ultimately, the logical implication is not quite as you seem to think."



This is the craziest argument I have ever heard. So, we should all just believe that Sacred Scripture is the only standard by which Our Lord gives us His Divine Revelation , instead of believing God Himself when He said that His Church would be the standard by which we would learn and follow Him. So, its the Scrabble doctrine or the Jesus doctrine, which should we follow. I wonder if Jesus played Scrabble?

Turretinfan said...

"This is the craziest argument I have ever heard."

Maybe you aren't as well read as the backdrop to your videos would suggest. Or maybe you're just trying to add some rhetorical flourish. Calling the other side (or their arguments) "crazy" does not, in my experience, endear you to them. It also doesn't refute them.

"So, we should all just believe that Sacred Scripture is the only standard by which Our Lord gives us His Divine Revelation , instead of believing God Himself when He said that His Church would be the standard by which we would learn and follow Him."

That's certainly not my argument.

"So, its the Scrabble doctrine or the Jesus doctrine, which should we follow. I wonder if Jesus played Scrabble?""

If my argument depended on Jesus playing Scrabble, I think you'd have me.

And, of course, if Jesus said what you are asserting in Scripture then there is really no reason for there to be conflict between the Scrabble illustration and Jesus' supposed teaching.

But if there is no conflict - why the vehement opposition?

-Turretinfan

Carrie said...

So a child cannot be saved?

Was Dulles talking about child atheists?

I don't think so, so don't move the goalposts.

Carrie said...

While we are taught that the only means of salvation is through Christ Jesus and being marked as His through Baptism, God is free to choose how and to whom He extends His mercy and salvation.

Then perhaps you should stick to what is actually taught instead of promoting a false gospel of speculation.

Thus, what Cardinal Dulles is saying is that is possible at the threshhold of a non-believer's death, which would include atheists, God could call to them and extend to them His salvific grace to allow the non-believer the opportunity one last time to accept Christ and be saved. .

I suggest you read the article again. Dulles says:

"Adherents of other religions can be saved if, with the help of grace, they sincerely seek God and strive to do his will. Even atheists can be saved if they worship God under some other name and place their lives at the service of truth and justice."

That is salvation through grace-assisted works minus faith in Christ, not faith at the moment before death. You also seem to be moving the goalposts.

Is God not allowed to do what He chooses with what belongs to Him? Or do you begrudge God's possible generosity of saving those outside your particular brand of Christianity?

Of course God can do whatever he wants, but he has revealed his intents through scripture. Scripture talks about salvation through faith in Christ, there is no loophole mentioned. You imply God is playing some sort of shell game telling us that faith in Christ is required for salvation, but back-dooring others in without faith.

If you want to make the argument for a faithless salvation, you'll need to make a scriptural one, not a philosophical one.

Rhology said...

One click, people. The link has been on the page from day one.

Rhology said...

Was Dulles talking about child atheists?

Same ploy pulled by Rutland in his debate against James White. He kept trying to shift the terms of the debate. And then he started asking about how believers in the OT were saved. [sigh]

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Speaking of moving the goalposts...

Paul Hoffer writes: "God has revealed through the Word of God and (if you are Catholic) through His Tradition that the only sure means of gaining heaven is through Jesus Christ and His Church to which we become members by baptism. Both Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church makes it plain that this is the only assured means of salvation.

Seriously, the doctrine of EENS is doctrinal jellyfish. And Carrie is right: the goalposts have moved throughout history. And Cardinal Dulles has also moved the goalposts and intellectual honesty and theological integrity require that his article is historical revisionism of the doctrine of EENS. There are honest catholics who will acknowledge that the goalposts have moved on this doctrinal jellyfish.

"The Catholic Church, which teaches that it is infallible, has had difficulties with this teaching. Critics claim the Church has contradicted itself in its teachings on faith and morals. The statements from the middle ages leads one to believe, on their face, that no person could possibly be saved as not a member of the physical Church on earth. While the current Church might teach that the statement should not be taken positively literally, critics suggest that a strict teaching was what was intended by the middle age popes. Also, critics point out that no lenient passages apparently exist, from those same strict sounding popes or notable individuals from those times, that would indicate that the Church was not truly intending to convey a strict understanding. In fact, that people like Father Leonard Feeney and traditionalists believe a strict interpretation, indicates that perhaps they are not just mistaken on the original doctrine. If the Church now taught that the salvation of non-Catholic would be possible, that would contradict its earlier teaching, and Church infallibility has been proven to be false."

From: Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus

"However, it is plain from Scripture that it is not for the Catholic Church, humble me, or even Popette Carrie the First in an exercise of infallible judgment, to decide who goes to heaven or to hell."

Also, I really don't appreciate this ad hominem insult and caricature of Carrie. She has never said that she was infallible, nor did hold herself out in any way whatsoever to be mocked as "Popette". Shame on you. And you owe her a sincere apology.

Rhology said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhology said...

A ludicrous caricature like that is illustrative of the idea rampant among RC epologists, that it's either infallibility or complete inability to interpret the Scr correctly. It's a false dilemma and a pernicious one.

It also conveniently sidesteps the need to present an exegetical counterargument.

Matthew Bellisario said...

TurretinFan says, "And, of course, if Jesus said what you are asserting in Scripture then there is really no reason for there to be conflict between the Scrabble illustration and Jesus' supposed teaching.

But if there is no conflict - why the vehement opposition?"

-Turretinfan

Of course your position is in conflict with the Gospel since the Gospel is the living Word of God, which contains Scripture, but not Scripture alone. Jesus never said the Sacred Scripture alone was His Divine Revelation alone, but He did say the Church is the bulwark of truth, and He also sent the apostles guided by the Holy Spirit in which He directly said, he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me. The reason I called your Scrabble analogy crazy, is because it makes no sense, and therefore in the true sense of the word, crazy can be applied here. I never referred to you or the other side as crazy only your argument, so you have misquoted me directly by saying "Calling the other side (or their arguments) "crazy" does not, in my experience, endear you to them." I never called the other side crazy, please quote me correctly next time and there is no need to embellish your response. I only referred to your argument. As far as being well read, we will continue this further here in about a week when we place our opening statements on this very topic. In the forthcoming months ahead we will indeed see that Scripture alone is not a Christian doctrine, nor has it ever been.

Turretinfan said...

"Of course your position is in conflict with the Gospel since the Gospel is the living Word of God, which contains Scripture, but not Scripture alone."

There are two assertions there: (1) That my position conflicts with the Gospel, and (2) that the Gospel is more than just Scripture.

You haven't established either of them. Of course, perhaps you intended to do so during the upcoming debate - so I don't mean to suggest you have to put all of the cards on the table now.

"Jesus never said the Sacred Scripture alone was His Divine Revelation alone ..."

I hope you're not intending to suggest that it is my position that there is no revelation outside of Scripture. That wouldn't be an accurate picture of my position at all.

"...but He did say the Church is the bulwark of truth,"

I suspect you're mistaking Paul for Jesus ... not that it would change the truth of what Paul said.

"... and He also sent the apostles guided by the Holy Spirit in which He directly said, he who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me."

The significance of the sending of the seventy others (not the 12 apostles) with that may be of interest to the debate - or perhaps not, we'll have to wait and see what you make of it.

"The reason I called your Scrabble analogy crazy, is because it makes no sense, and therefore in the true sense of the word, crazy can be applied here."

I doubt you call every analogy that does not make sense to you "crazy." It's rather extreme rhetoric, as I think everyone recognizes.

After all, craziness is ordinarily a characteristic of people, and is applied to their words, behavior, etc. by virtue of the source. Yet, you admit that you did not intend to call me crazy - just the analogy.

"I never referred to you or the other side as crazy only your argument, so you have misquoted me directly by saying "Calling the other side (or their arguments) "crazy" does not, in my experience, endear you to them." I never called the other side crazy, please quote me correctly next time and there is no need to embellish your response."

I quoted you verbatim and responded. "Misquoted" is a mischaracterization. I was hoping to appeal to your prudence by pointing out the generally ineffective technique of calling arguments "crazy" rather than refuting them. Anyone can do the former.

"I only referred to your argument."

Which was apparent from the quotation I provided - and which I provided first, before commenting on it. Apparently you are concerned that someone may have gotten the wrong idea from my appeal to the general principle that calling people (or their arguments) crazy is not likely to win them over. Well, now you've clarified.

"As far as being well read, we will continue this further here in about a week when we place our opening statements on this very topic."

No, no. I did not mean to make this an argument about whether you were actually well read. That would be an ad hominem. I was pointing out the absurdity of your use of the superlative ("-est"). Even if your opinion is that the analogy doesn't make sense - and makes so little sense as to be "crazy" - one would think you must have heard even more "crazy" arguments (referring, of course, to your own standard of what makes something "crazy").

It doesn't matter to me or to our arguments whether you are well-read or ill-read. It would, of course, if your argument were goign to consist of you giving your opinion about the quality of the arguments from other side -- but I don't think anyone would be particularly interested in that type of debate.

Here - where you gave your opinion about the quality of the analogy (rather than refuting it) - and did so in such colorful and superlative terms, you opened the issue of your qualification to give that opinion.

"In the forthcoming months ahead we will indeed see that Scripture alone is not a Christian doctrine, nor has it ever been."

Well, please do not hold back when it comes to setting forth the arguments in the debate. Give it your best shot. I don't plan to go easy on your arguments. If your position is the truth, I hope you'll make every effort to demonstrate that to us. I believe that the position I will be advocating is the truth, and will make every effort to persuade you of that.

-TurretinFan

Carrie said...

One click, people. The link has been on the page from day one.

Oops, I missed it also.

The link isn't set apart by color or underline so it was easy to miss.

Matthew Bellisario said...

Turretin, as to why your Scrabble analogy is a bad one, we can see that even Scrabble has its own set of rules telling you that you need to use the "Scrabble" dictionary.

"Any play may be challenged before the next player starts a turn. If the play challenged is unacceptable, the challenged player takes back his or her tiles and loses that turn. If the play challenged is acceptable, the challenger loses their turn, and points scored. Abbreviations and Proper Nouns are not allowed. Please consult the Official Scrabble Dictionaries if you are in doubt."

In order for your analogy to be a correct one you would also need to show us where you are getting your reference from that tells us to use the Sacred Scriptures as the rule or standard of authority. Even in Scrabble it has its own set of directions for the game. We too have directions and it is from Jesus through His Church which says that no, Sacred Scripture is not the only authority.

Turretinfan said...

The rules of Scrabble have evolved. The older sets did not come with an Official Scrabble Dictionary, nor did they presume one was available. That's really moot, though.

Let's consider your comment:

"In order for your analogy to be a correct one you would also need to show us where you are getting your reference from that tells us to use the Sacred Scriptures as the rule or standard of authority."

Really? Why must I show you that? What's wrong with me simply telling you that I am willing to trust Scripture as a standard or rule of authority?

"Even in Scrabble it has its own set of directions for the game."

Yes - and like almost all directions - they are in writing. But I was actually dealing with a more interesting specialized part of the game - the rule relating to valid words.

"We too have directions and it is from Jesus through His Church which says that no, Sacred Scripture is not the only authority."

We have directions in the form of writings - Scripture. You don't, as far as I know, deny that. On the other hand, you seem to imagine that there are some additional directions that we have. I'm not so sure I can, or should, trust those other directions that you're claiming are of divine authority. I don't see why that requires me to prove anything - except that you say so.

-TurretinFan

Matthew Bellisario said...

How can I be sure that your directions are from God, aside form the fact that you say so? How do I know that the Sacred Scriptures are the only authority, aside from your mere personal opinion? The Scrabble analogy assumes that there are directions telling us to use the dictionary, otherwise everyone can come up with there own words. The analogy you used is not a good one, and does not make any valid points. that is why I called it a crazy argument. It is assuming another authority higher than the dictionary, telling you that the dictionary is the rule of authority for this particular situation. Do you understand this?

Alexander Greco said...

Carrie: "Was Dulles talking about child atheists?

I don't think so, so don't move the goalposts."

Me: Carrie, I think that before you make a comment, you should read the context of my comments> I was responding to this:
"Telling anyone that they can be saved without faith in Christ is not the truth and it is no witness whatsoever."
So my question was, can a child be saved? There is a point to my question which is entirely related. If you are unable to answer it, then don't. The fact is, it is related to the topic at hand.

Turretinfan said...

"How can I be sure that your directions are from God, aside form the fact that you say so?"

Aren't you already sure that Scripture is from God?

"How do I know that the Sacred Scriptures are the only authority, aside from your mere personal opinion?"

That's not my argument - so you don't even my opinion on that.

"The Scrabble analogy assumes that there are directions telling us to use the dictionary, otherwise everyone can come up with there own words."

Actually no. It assumes this, (quoting me, the author of the analogy): "Suppose that I commit myself to the standard that if a word is not in the scrabble dictionary, it is not a valid word."

"The analogy you used is not a good one, and does not make any valid points. that is why I called it a crazy argument."

Yes, I think everyone recalls your statement of your opinion.

"It is assuming another authority higher than the dictionary, telling you that the dictionary is the rule of authority for this particular situation. Do you understand this?"

See above. The analogy actually assumes what it says it assumes. It assumes I commit myself to the authority of the Scrabble dictionary.

But, of course, even if it DID assume an authority higher than the dictionary - that is no problem for the analogy: for Scripture's authority comes from God.

For, indeed, the appeal back to the rules doesn't solve anything. Does the rulebook have to say "if it's not in this hear rule-book, it's not a rule of Scrabble?"

I've seen some Scrabble squabbles over the years, but most people agree at least on the idea that if it is not in the rule book, we don't accept it as a rule.

So, pushing things back to the rule book doesn't really help anything from your standpoint.

But the Scrabble Dictionary is more interesting - because there is more propensity for human error. It's possible to overlook words as we are going through the Scrabble dictionary. That's why the person claiming that the word is a valid word has a duty to demonstrate it (if challenged).

That's about all that's happening here. Your church comes up with doctrines, but upon challenge cannot substantiate them from Scripture. They're words not found in the dictionary - they're rules not found in the rule book. They're unsusbstantiated, and so we don't buy them.

-Turretinfan

Matthew Bellisario said...

The Church doesn't have to substantiate its doctrine from Scripture alone, only you say so, not the Church. The Scrabble analogy is what is whether you are the"author" of it or not. In order for you to assume the authority of the dictionary, and for anyone in their right mind to agree to it as such an authority, you would have to produce the Scrabble rulebook that says so. As far as God being the higher authority of Sacred Scripture, no one challenges that fact, aside from the fact as to means that God tells us the Sacred Scriptures are an authority, and how they are to be held and viewed within the Church. Your opinion is not worthy of anyone believing that the Scriptures are the Word of God, nor how they are to be held or viewed within the Church. We will finish this argument in the upcoming debate.

Turretinfan said...

"The Church doesn't have to substantiate its doctrine from Scripture alone, only you say so, not the Church."

a) "The Church" doesn't speak as such.
b) Your church doesn't have to do anything. But if it doesn't substantiate its doctrines from Scripture, I have no reason to believe them.
c) Substantiating them by ecclesia ipse dixit is not very compelling to me - nor should it be.

"The Scrabble analogy is what is whether you are the"author" of it or not."

Interesting point. Some goes for the Bible, eh?

"In order for you to assume the authority of the dictionary, and for anyone in their right mind to agree to it as such an authority, you would have to produce the Scrabble rulebook that says so."

a) You're looking at my analogy backwards. I'm the one accepting the rulebook as an authority for someone else's word.
b) Maybe they would agree without me looking it up in the rules for them, maybe they wouldn't. I wasn't really talking about them.

"As far as God being the higher authority of Sacred Scripture, no one challenges that fact, aside from the fact as to means that God tells us the Sacred Scriptures are an authority, and how they are to be held and viewed within the Church."

Well - it's good that we can at least agree that Scriptures are an authority.

"Your opinion is not worthy of anyone believing that the Scriptures are the Word of God, nor how they are to be held or viewed within the Church."

Yes, in general, of course. Fortunately, as between us, you already believe that Scriptures are the Word of God, so I don't need to sway you with the weight of my opinion.

"We will finish this argument in the upcoming debate."

Sounds good! I look forward to it.

-TurretinFan

Alexander Greco said...

Turretinfan, while this analogy is somewhat clever, upon further inspection it completely falls apart as an analogy to the topic at hand for your position. It seems to me that your entire point is one of having a standard. However, you claim that your standard is *the standard* but you have failed to substantiate why this is so.

You stated, "Suppose that I commit myself to the standard that if a word is not in the scrabble dictionary, it is not a valid word." Then later, "After all, some people don't buy the official Scrabble dictionary, they just whatever dictionary they have lying around the house. That dictionary is definitely not going to contain the standard."

Here we see the proposition that: a) you hold that if the word is not in the scrabble dictionary then it is not valid because that dictionary is the standard, but b) not everyone will use the scrabble dictionary. Well then, why should they abide by your standard? You have even admitted that the scrabble dictionary itself does not even define itself as *the standard*; therefore, from where did you obtain this declaration? You certainly didn't derive it from the scrabble dictionary.

Obviously you are not playing scrabble by yourself, so how do you resolve this problem between you and your opponent? So far you have no objective verifiable proof that substantiates your position of using the scrabble dictionary as the standard. Therefore, you are either a) desiring that your opponent just take you on your word, or b) engaging in dictionary pluralism. You must be able to prove that the scrabble dictionary is the standard. To do this, you have two possibilities: a) prove this from the dictionary itself (which you have already admitted that you can't), or b) prove it from some sort of rules established by the maker of the game himself. Since you have already admitted that the dictionary doesn't prove this, you must prove it from the rules established by the maker of the game (unless you are a relativist).

At this point you are going beyond your standard to something else. It is highly unlikely that the game maker is going to contact you personally. More than likely you would have to consult an authoritative set of rules which would tell you that your dictionary is the standard which needs to be used for the game of scrabble, and not some other dictionary. These set of rules would have to be trustworthy, and based upon the authority of the game maker himself. If you are not abiding by this, then you are not playing scrabble, but some other counterfeit game.
The game maker disperses his game through an official company, which you can rest assured that if the box of scrabble has their registered name on the box then you know that it is the true game of scrabble and not some counterfeit.

Thank you for your analogy, by it you have defeated your own position.

Turretinfan: "you want to view Sola Scriptura as being analogous to just another word"

Me: No, I want you to prove that Scripture is *the standard*.

Turretinfan: "But what if Sola Scriptura is essentially a presuppositional acceptance of the truth of Scripture? We believe whatever the Scripture says as a presupposition."

Me: But you have to prove this first. Otherwise, what's there to say that I am wrong. You want me to just assume that you are right...I don't think so.

Turretinfan: "Then, for whatever reason, we have doubts about some doctrine that is presented to us by someone. Where are we going to go? To the source we trust, of course: to Scripture."

Me: But you have failed to prove to me that Scripture is *the source* instead of *a source*.

Turretinfan: "That's ultimately how it works: we know we can trust Scripture: but this "John Doe" guy or this "TurretinFan" -- we've never heard of him! So if TurretinFan suggests something, we turn to something we trust to see if he's right."

Me: The problem here is that Scripture is limited in its scope. It does not address issues such as in vitro fertilization.

Turretinfan: "I submit to you that the standard itself is rather different than the doctrines taught by itself."

Me: Yet here you are quite wrong. By definition to state that something is a standard you are establishing a principle of action, a position that must be followed, a doctrine.

Turretinfan said...

"Turretinfan, while this analogy is somewhat clever ..."

Hey ... better than "crazy"! :)

"... upon further inspection it completely falls apart as an analogy to the topic at hand for your position."

I suspect it only falls apart when stretched beyond what it was presented for.

"It seems to me that your entire point is one of having a standard."

Seems like a fair characterization.

"However, you claim that your standard is *the standard* but you have failed to substantiate why this is so."

Did you notice the shift there from "a standard" to "the standard"? I did. Suppose, for the sake of the argument, I'm willing to stand on just "a standard." What then? It is a standard, and it is what I use for the purposes we use standards.

"You stated, "Suppose that I commit myself to the standard that if a word is not in the scrabble dictionary, it is not a valid word." Then later, "After all, some people don't buy the official Scrabble dictionary, they just whatever dictionary they have lying around the house. That dictionary is definitely not going to contain the standard.""

I cut you off - just to agree that I said each of those things. There's a small problem that arises from the combination - which is that you've decontextualized the second quotation. The context of the second quotation was essentially that even if for some reason the "Official Scrabble Dictionary" actually had the standard (I don't know if it does - it really wouldn't need to) we could change to a different dictionary, and that one definitely wouldn't. It was just a takeout of an objection based on the chance that the standard may actually be enunciated in the OSD (I don't have time or interest to track that down). As clarified, let's continue:

"Here we see the proposition that: a) you hold that if the word is not in the scrabble dictionary then it is not valid because that dictionary is the standard,"

ok. Or whatever dictionary I've committed myself to as the standard - whether that is the OSD or Webster's 1828 dictionary.

"but b) not everyone will use the scrabble dictionary."

This is not really part of the analogy itself - just an alternate analogy in case the OSD surprisingly has the standard - to keep the point interesting.

"Well then, why should they abide by your standard?"

You seem to be viewing this backwards - the same way that MB does. The analogy is about me, not them. I am committed to the standard of the OSD (or whatever).

"You have even admitted that the scrabble dictionary itself does not even define itself as *the standard*; therefore, from where did you obtain this declaration?"

Now we are in territory beyond the analogy. Remember that it was an initial assumption of the analogy that I committed myself to the dictionary (the OSD in the main analogy, or whatever is handy in the alternative analogy).

"You certainly didn't derive it from the scrabble dictionary."

Sure - or if someone would claim you did get it from there - then refer to that alternative analogy where you use whatever dictionary you happen to find first.

"Obviously you are not playing scrabble by yourself, so how do you resolve this problem between you and your opponent?"

Again - we are moving beyond the analogy here (not because I was imaigining a single player game, but because the analogy doesn't address trying to persuade one's adversary). Well - if we both agreed on some standard, we could resolve the matter by appealing to that standard. In fact, that's often how its done.

"So far you have no objective verifiable proof that substantiates your position of using the scrabble dictionary as the standard."

I'm sure you mean to say that I haven't provided such proof to you (i.e. to the Scrabble opponent). I suppose I could simply counter that you haven't provided any proof [according to whatever standard I select] that the appropriate standard for me to meet is "objective, verifiable proof" in proving to that scrabble dictionary is the standard.

That kind of debate is ultimately infinitely recursive - unless there is agreement reached.

Why is that so? Because each person is simply moving the question back a step. I say "prove your word is valid from this dictionary" -- you say "prove that's the right dictionary from the rule book" -- I say "prove that's the real rule book with testimony from a Milton Bradley executive from this list of executives" etc etc

It gets much worse when it gets philosophical. Normally players can find some common ground to start from - some standard they will both agree to.

We actually have that in the Bible. There's a standard we both agree is authoratitive. But now you are coming along and asking me to accept an additional authority! Why should I? Ultimately the burden of proof is on you, the proponent of this standard.

"Therefore, you are either a) desiring that your opponent just take you on your word, or b) engaging in dictionary pluralism."

Hehe. "Dictionary pluralism" That's a clever turn of phrase. But - no - my analogy wasn't really addressed to convincing the other guy he's wrong - it was about convincing me that the word is right.

"You must be able to prove that the scrabble dictionary is the standard."

I only have to be able to do that, if the other guy does not accept the authority of that standard.

"To do this, you have two possibilities: a) prove this from the dictionary itself (which you have already admitted that you can't), or b) prove it from some sort of rules established by the maker of the game himself."

Actually, you don't have to prove anything. You just have to convince the other guy to agree to commit himself to the same standard that you committed yourself to. Then, the two of you can play with relative ease.

"Since you have already admitted that the dictionary doesn't prove this, you must prove it from the rules established by the maker of the game (unless you are a relativist)."

This builds on the same false premise that we must prove the matter at all. Furthermore, manufacturer's intent is not a particularly compelling reason when it comes to having fun. But, let's leave that aside. If we took the reasoning to the extreme, you'd be having people running lab technicians through lie detector tests, to confirm that they really traced the DNA on the box back to an employee of Milton Bradley Corp. who worked in the rule's printing division to try to prove that this box really came from the real factory, and was properly furnished with the real rules. What silliness that would be. People don't expect to have everything proven to them.

"At this point you are going beyond your standard to something else."

And we are so far beyond the analogy it's not funny. But of course, even if the standard speaks for itself, the person has to accept the standard in order for it to matter to that person. Otherwise, why not just say "take my word for it." After all, that standard self-authenticates.

"It is highly unlikely that the game maker is going to contact you personally. More than likely you would have to consult an authoritative set of rules which would tell you that your dictionary is the standard which needs to be used for the game of scrabble, and not some other dictionary. These set of rules would have to be trustworthy, and based upon the authority of the game maker himself. If you are not abiding by this, then you are not playing scrabble, but some other counterfeit game."

See above.

"The game maker disperses his game through an official company, which you can rest assured that if the box of scrabble has their registered name on the box then you know that it is the true game of scrabble and not some counterfeit."

And what if the other person is not convinced that the standard should be whether the registered name is on the box? You see - it can head to infinite regression, unless you reach a point of agreement. Of course, if they agree on the box, and that manufacturer's intent is a valid standard, you're well on your way, assuming that they trust you that you didn't print up your own dictionary and put in the box before he came over to play that day.

"Thank you for your analogy, by it you have defeated your own position."

I think you're a little early for declaring victory - given the infinite regress problem with your criticism.

Turretinfan (previously): "you want to view Sola Scriptura as being analogous to just another word"

AG: "No, I want you to prove that Scripture is *the standard*."

Why? You agree that it is a standard, right? If so, then it is really up to you to prove that it is not alone. So far, all we have agreed to is that lone standard.

Turretinfan (previously): "But what if Sola Scriptura is essentially a presuppositional acceptance of the truth of Scripture? We believe whatever the Scripture says as a presupposition."

AG: "But you have to prove this first. Otherwise, what's there to say that I am wrong. You want me to just assume that you are right...I don't think so."

That's my line. You see, we agree on the Scripture, but you cannot give me proof that there is anything else of authority that I will not accept as an authority.

Turretinfan (Previously): "Then, for whatever reason, we have doubts about some doctrine that is presented to us by someone. Where are we going to go? To the source we trust, of course: to Scripture."

AG: "But you have failed to prove to me that Scripture is *the source* instead of *a source*."

The premilinary question, though, is why should I have to prove that to you?

- (a) I'm talking about what I accept, not what you accept; and
- (b) You're the one apparently suggesting there is some other authority out there ... you're its proponent, so the burden is on you.

Turretinfan (Previously): "That's ultimately how it works: we know we can trust Scripture: but this "John Doe" guy or this "TurretinFan" -- we've never heard of him! So if TurretinFan suggests something, we turn to something we trust to see if he's right."

AG: "The problem here is that Scripture is limited in its scope. It does not address issues such as in vitro fertilization."

Let's suppose for a second that it does not. Why is that a problem?

But I think that when you start to answer that question, you'll see that in fact the Scriptures do address the issues. They address them more or less specifically. Obviously, they address issues like the Internet and IV fertilization in more general terms than they address issues like whether it is ok to rescue a sheep who falls into a ditch on the Sabbath.

Turretinfan (Previously): "I submit to you that the standard itself is rather different than the doctrines taught by itself."

AG: "Yet here you are quite wrong. By definition to state that something is a standard you are establishing a principle of action, a position that must be followed, a doctrine."

The standard itself can certainly be considered as a doctrine, but it is still rather different from the doctrines derived from the standard. I had hoped that would be apparent from the illustration - or even from a careful consideration of the matter.

-Turretinfan

BJ Buracker said...

You know, as interesting as all this is, we have devoted a lot of time to debating the standards of Scrabble. I could be wrong, but doesn't this qualify as a thread drift? Or did Cardinal Dulles address Scrabble at some point? :)

Actually, like I said, this has been interesting and fun. I'm just quite amused by the amount of debate going into an illustration.

Peace,

BJ
Stupid Scholar
Daily Bible Reflections

Alexander Greco said...

Me earlier: "It seems to me that your entire point is one of having a standard."

Turretinfan: “Seems like a fair characterization.”

Me earlier: "However, you claim that your standard is *the standard* but you have failed to substantiate why this is so."

Turretinfan: “Did you notice the shift there from "a standard" to "the standard"? I did. Suppose, for the sake of the argument, I'm willing to stand on just "a standard." What then? It is a standard, and it is what I use for the purposes we use standards.”

Me: What “shift” are you talking about? A standard is a standard. Your position is that the Bible is the standard for all doctrine. If it is not found there then it is not a valid doctrine. I am saying that you hold the Bible to be your standard, however, you have failed to substantiate why the Bible should be the standard. Unless you are a relativist, where you might argue that the Bible is your standard, but not necessarily mine as well, I would think that you would hold the Bible to be the universal standard for all to use in order to have sound doctrine; otherwise, as a relativist, discussing this with you would be pointless. I do not hold the bible to be the standard for all doctrine because that is not the intent of the Scriptures (which you have even admitted that the Scriptures does not teach that it is the standard), plus that would be imposing a false dichotomy between Scripture and the Magisterial teaching office of the Church. You are trying to impose this standard upon me; therefore, the burden of proof is upon you. You hold that Scripture is the standard…well then, prove it.

Me earlier: "Here we see the proposition that: a) you hold that if the word is not in the scrabble dictionary then it is not valid because that dictionary is the standard,"

Turretinfan: “ok. Or whatever dictionary I've committed myself to as the standard - whether that is the OSD or Webster's 1828 dictionary.”
Me: No, not whatever dictionary you have committed yourself to…you have already stated that the OSD was the standard. So within our discussion, it is either the Bible or it is not. Only a relativist would state: “Or whatever dictionary (Scripture) I've committed myself to as the standard - whether that is the OSD (Bible) or Webster's 1828 dictionary (Koran, Book of Mormon, etc.).”

Me earlier: "Well then, why should they abide by your standard?"

Turretinfan: “You seem to be viewing this backwards - the same way that MB does. The analogy is about me, not them. I am committed to the standard of the OSD (or whatever).”
Me: I think that either you are a relativist, or you are confusing yourself. The analogy is about having a standard in order to see if a doctrine is correct. In order to do this a standard must be universal and a standard for all, not just for you or them. So when I ask you why should they abide by what you declare to be the standard, I am asking you to substantiate why you declare it to be the standard. Simply stating that it is because you have committed yourself to it is not a sufficient reason. Furthermore, unless you can make that substantiation, then you have no ground to say that whatever doctrine I hold to is not a proper Christian doctrine. For you have yet to prove what the standard is for proper Christian doctrines.


Me earlier: "Obviously you are not playing scrabble by yourself, so how do you resolve this problem between you and your opponent?"

Turretinfan: “Again - we are moving beyond the analogy here (not because I was imaigining a single player game, but because the analogy doesn't address trying to persuade one's adversary). Well - if we both agreed on some standard, we could resolve the matter by appealing to that standard. In fact, that's often how its done.”
Me: Then you are a relativist. Scripture is the standard for orthodox Christian doctrine, or it is not. I believe that it is useful, but not the standard, for there are questions that Scripture does not even address, so as a standard for all Christian doctrine it falls short. Obviously then Scripture was never intended to be the standard alone, but merely useful. I have given an example with in vitro fertilization for which you have no answer.

Turretinfan: “I'm sure you mean to say that I haven't provided such proof to you (i.e. to the Scrabble opponent). I suppose I could simply counter that you haven't provided any proof [according to whatever standard I select] that the appropriate standard for me to meet is "objective, verifiable proof" in proving to that scrabble dictionary is the standard.”

Me: That is because you are imposing Scripture alone as the standard upon me…so yes, the burden of proof is upon you to show me why that has to be the standard.

Turretinfan: “It gets much worse when it gets philosophical. Normally players can find some common ground to start from - some standard they will both agree to.”
Me: That is true, and would be useful.

Turretinfan: “We actually have that in the Bible. There's a standard we both agree is authoratitive. But now you are coming along and asking me to accept an additional authority! Why should I? Ultimately the burden of proof is on you, the proponent of this standard.”
Me: Authoritative does not equate into standard. It simply means that what it addresses is reliable. You are taking it too far. So no, I do not agree that Scripture is the standard, it was never intended to be. You are the proponent of that standard, so the burden of proof is upon you.


Me earlier: "The problem here is that Scripture is limited in its scope. It does not address issues such as in vitro fertilization."

Turretinfan: “Let's suppose for a second that it does not. Why is that a problem?”
Me: Because it is a problem of serious moral concern. How do we address bioethical issues such as determination of death, in vitro fertilization, contraception, etc. As a standard, shouldn’t the Bible address issues such as these?

Turretinfan: “But I think that when you start to answer that question, you'll see that in fact the Scriptures do address the issues. They address them more or less specifically. Obviously, they address issues like the Internet and IV fertilization in more general terms than they address issues like whether it is ok to rescue a sheep who falls into a ditch on the Sabbath.”
Me: Yet you have failed to show me these.

Turretinfan (Previously): "I submit to you that the standard itself is rather different than the doctrines taught by itself."

Me earlier: "Yet here you are quite wrong. By definition to state that something is a standard you are establishing a principle of action, a position that must be followed, a doctrine."

Turretinfan: “The standard itself can certainly be considered as a doctrine, but it is still rather different from the doctrines derived from the standard. I had hoped that would be apparent from the illustration - or even from a careful consideration of the matter.”
Me: Well then, you admit that the standard is a doctrine. Where did you derive this doctrine?

Alexander Greco said...

Hey BJ, this relates to the larger issue.

Turretinfan stated, "So, no. The doctrine of "Invincible Ignorance" is just a man-made doctrine. It's not exegetically derived from Scripture. It's not something to be believed by the faithful.
In fact, it is contrary to Scripture. Nevertheless, the fact that it is not taught by Scripture is a sufficient ground for its rejection as dogma to be believed."

Who says that it has to be exegetically derived from Scripture. He is making the claim that it must, presupposing that we must agree with his standard. I disagree with him (I am not saying that invincible ignorance is not found in Scripture either...I would need to do some research on this, but I find it interesting why nobody wants to address my question regarding children).

Turretinfan said...

Mr. Greco,

In response to the first of your two most recent comments.

1) Unless you deny that the Bible is a standard, it is a red herring for you to ask me to prove to you that it is a standard. If you plan to continue this argument, let me ask you the straight question: do you agree with me that the Bible is *a* standard?

2) Now, you may want to say as many times as possible that I need to prove that it is *the* standard, but unless you (or someone else) can establish that there is any standard other than the one standard that we agree exists (at least, as per (1) above, I assume we agree that it exists), then actually that burden is on you to show there is an additional standard in existence.

3) Of course, that doesn't mean that no proof can be provided. It simply means that it's really not up to us to prove the non-existence of other standards. I wonder whether you consistently use this kind of rhetoric in your discussions with agnostics: do you tell them that they have to prove God's non-existence to you? Or do you recognize that logically you have to some how persuade them of God's existence. If you recognize it there, why don't you recognize that here?

4) Calling me a "relativist" is ... well, no generous words come immediately to mind. I'm a zealous advocate of absolute truth. I'm afraid my Scrabble analogy wasn't very helpful to you. So be it. I'm not going to belabor that point further for now.

5) With respect to the IV fertilization, I had asked why it would be a problem, hypothetically speaking, if the Bible did not address the matter. You responded, "Because it is a problem of serious moral concern." If you were to decide what is a serious moral concern based on what people fret about, then you would be a relativist. Given that you seem to try to tar me with the "relativist" label, I assume you are not one. So then, how do we know that the problem is of serious moral concern? The answer, implicit in your remarks, is that the Bible speaks about the importance of preserving life, as well as the importance of procreation. But then you have to see that the Bible does address the matter, at least in general terms.

6) What you deemed to be an admission, really isn't that significant. Where I derive the doctrine that Scripture is authoritative is moot, because you agree (at least I assume you do, see (1) above) that Scripture is authoritative: that it is a standard. So, whether I can prove this point that we agree on is a moot issue. You seem intent on writing the issue as "the only standard" and then asking me to prove the "only" part - when in fact, since you agree it is a standard, it is incumbent on you to demonstrate the further standards.

7) Applying the points above to the "Invincible Ignorance" issue, let me reiterate.

You never got that doctrine from Scripture. You (broadly encompassing the Roman Catholic Church) invented it. It's a doctrine and tradition of men - not of God. It has all the authority (or perhaps not even that - I'll let you decide) of the RCC, but no more. It does not have divine authority. If you disagree, it is up to you to show that your authority is divine, not up to me to prove that it isn't.

I hope that what I'm saying is clear, whether or not you agree. As a matter of fact, we have Scripture as our only sure propositional revelation. In the same way, as a matter of fact, Moses has died, the apostles have died, and we have now not them, but the writings that they were inspired to set down. Proving that Scripture is an authority can be considered a doctrinal question - but proving that it is the only authority we have is more of a factual question. When you combine the two, I suppose you can still consider it a doctrinal question, but you have to be careful not to make the mistake you make above, of assuming some obligation on our part to demonstrate to you a universal negative.

Perhaps we could demonstrate it to you ... but it's really not our responsibility. Ultimately, if you want us to accept doctrines made up by the RCC (like Papal Infallibility or Invincible Ignorance) you are going to have give us a better reason than that the RCC said it. This is a problem for you, though, because there's just no way to exegetically derive Papal Infallibility (or Invincible Ignorance) from Scripture.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

Turretinfan:
I do not wish to rehash the Scrabble debate, and I am inserting myself into the discussion at a late point, but a number of points struck me as I was reading your responses.

Initially, the issue does not devolve simply to the fact that Catholics and Protestants both accept Scripture as "a" standard. The standard in question was not presented to the Reformed as "a" standard by an arbitrary third party; neither do the Reformed pretend that they examined all claimants to the canon and concluded authoritatively which comprised the standard. It was bequeathed to them by the ecclesiastical authorities who also made pronouncements on matters the Reformed reject, so the issue extends further back than you seem willing to allow for. I can certainly understand your desire to obfuscate or dissemble in this regard, but the fact remains that you have to accept an authority (which you also elsewhere reject) for the standard you wish to use to judge the authority (which, again, you elsewhere wish to discredit or reject). You simply cannot say "it doesn't matter how we came to agree on the standard." It does matter. Pardon us for scratching our collective head while you assert a common standard but attempt to use it to disparage the authoritative viva voce through which God gave it to you.

Secondly, the Church did not "invent" the concept of invincible ignorance. CCC paragraph 847 cites Lumen Gentium 16, which see for Scriptural references (Rom 9:4-5, Rom 11:28-29, Acts 17:25-28, as I believe we have discussed before, 1 Tim 2:4, Rom 1:21 & 25, Mark 16:16). The derivation of the concept is far from an invention. By all means, please also read Pius XII's Mystici Corporis Christi for complementary elucidation.

Turretinfan said...

MB: "Initially, the issue does not devolve simply to the fact that Catholics and Protestants both accept Scripture as "a" standard."

The issue of burden of proof does hinge on that fact. Other issues may or may not. You seem to want to raise other issues, as addressed below.

MB: "The standard in question was not presented to the Reformed as "a" standard by an arbitrary third party; neither do the Reformed pretend that they examined all claimants to the canon and concluded authoritatively which comprised the standard."

No - some Catholics pretend that, but the Reformed are more honest in the matter.

MB: "It was bequeathed to them by the ecclesiastical authorities who also made pronouncements on matters the Reformed reject, so the issue extends further back than you seem willing to allow for."

We go to the font. We take the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as the authority for the canonical Scriptures. If you imagine that you go further than that - you have serious problems.

MB: "I can certainly understand your desire to obfuscate or dissemble in this regard,"

Don't confuse my motivations with your own, sir. I have not the least interest in obfuscation or lying about these things.

MB: "... but the fact remains that you have to accept an authority (which you also elsewhere reject) for the standard you wish to use to judge the authority (which, again, you elsewhere wish to discredit or reject)."

I'm willing to believe that your mistake here is an honest one - not intended to obfuscate or dissemble (despite your comments above). Your mistake is in imagining that we accept Scripture on the testimony of a church, but then reject the other teachings of that church.

In fact, though, we ultimately accept Scripture on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, not mere men. We go back to the source - the font, if you will - of Scripture.

Some of us may have received our first Bible from Mormon missionaries, but we don't have believe anything that they teach. It would be absurd to imagine that we must.

But surely you will say that we need to trace history back to somewhere in the middle: to the preservation of Scripture by people who agree with certain things you hold, and disagree with certain things we hold. My response, of course, is to point you to the Jews. The Jews for the most part rejected the Messiah - yet it is they who were the intermediaries to provide us with the Old Testament Scriptures. It would be idiotic to imagine that because we got it from them, we must interpret it with them.

MB: "You simply cannot say "it doesn't matter how we came to agree on the standard." It does matter."

It doesn't matter to the issue that we were considering. It may matter to you, because of your interest in the subject. But if two people agree on a standard, there is no reason for one of them to have prove the validity of that standard to the other person. It's when people disagree that demonstration is required. The question is, by whom. But that would get us back to the issue being discussed betwixt Greco and myself.

MB: "Pardon us for scratching our collective head while you assert a common standard but attempt to use it to disparage the authoritative viva voce through which God gave it to you."

God gave it to us through the pens of scribes. Some were believers, many (especially among the Jews) were not. The living voice whose word it is, is God, not men.

If the Bible were actually the product of the modern Roman Catholic Church - it would still be appropriate to set it at odds with the modern Roman Catholic Church, if only to demonstrate inconsistency.

Of course, however, such is not the case. The Bible is not the product of modern Roman Catholicism.

"Secondly, the Church did not "invent" the concept of invincible ignorance."

Sure it did.

"CCC paragraph 847 cites Lumen Gentium 16, which see for Scriptural references (Rom 9:4-5, Rom 11:28-29, Acts 17:25-28, as I believe we have discussed before, 1 Tim 2:4, Rom 1:21 & 25, Mark 16:16)."

The CCC also cites Scripture for the innovated doctrine of Purgatory. It's all pretext, as the Roman Catholic Church uses those texts to justify the doctrine - it did not derive it from them.

MB: "The derivation of the concept is far from an invention. By all means, please also read Pius XII's Mystici Corporis Christi for complementary elucidation."

A 20th century pope's testimony is not exactly the most compelling way to convince me that this doctrine is not an innovation.

Furthermore, assuming I've found the right document, the one you referenced doesn't (in English) use either the word "invincible" or "ignorance."

That's not to say that my reading his opinions was a complete waste of time. At item 110, he makes the admission that at least pre-V2 Catholics prayed to Mary, "Venerable Brethren, may the Virgin Mother of God hear the prayers of Our paternal heart...."

There's another innovated practice - though clearly not innovated recently.

But perhaps you really should take up this matter with the traditionalist Catholics out there. They are probably more willing to listen to P12, than I am - and they would tend not to agree with "Cardinal" Dulles' teachings quoted above.

-TurretinFan

Mike Burgess said...

TF,
With only brief time at present, I'll respond.

TF:
"No - some Catholics pretend that, but the Reformed are more honest in the matter."

Indeed, some (many?) Catholics do so pretend, to our shame. Not all Reformed and certainly not all Protestants are as honest in this regard. Many more have not considered it.

TF:
"We go to the font. We take the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as the authority for the canonical Scriptures. If you imagine that you go further than that - you have serious problems."

You received the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments from authoritative witnesses in whom the Lord worked and through whom He spoke. You received the witness of the inspiration you are appealing to solely from these, and if you don't see that as defeating your position, you've got bigger problems than you are capable of imagining. Try independently demonstrating, verifying, explaining, convoncong anyone of, or in any other way having "assurance" of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. What method does Westminster, e.g., hold out for determining the inspiration apart from what boils down to the smae thing, ultimately, as the burning in the bosom of the Mormon missionaries you brought into the conversation? Appeals to apostolicity, propheticity, internal coherence, etc., all depend upon the contemporaneous witness from the "fonts" themselves and those who accepted the commission to "faithfully hand on" that to which they had miraculous attestation? You certainly do not have direct attestation; you are millenia removed therefrom and the same standard you are asserting we have in common comes concomitantly with equally authoritative tradition which you reject. You pick and choose; this is definitionally heresy.

By deflecting as non-germane the points others raised to you on the basis that neither denies the authority of the standard, in light of the undeniable fact that there are simultaneous claimants to the status of depositum fide with which you disagree and saying that the simultaneously handed on Scriptures are the source of your rejection, you are obfuscating, intentionally or unintentionally, or you are dissembling by presenting your argument and hiding certain facts by way of deflection, willful ignoring, or concealment. I'm willing to believe that your mistake here is an honest one. Even one well-intentioned or motivated by the noble desire to defend the Scriptures and the God Who inspired them through the prophets, apostles, and others and their spiritual progeny.

TF:
"Some of us may have received our first Bible from Mormon missionaries, but we don't have believe anything that they teach. It would be absurd to imagine that we must."

You are correct. You can accept the Bible from them and believe the opposite of what they [presumably] would tell you about it, to wit: it is the Word of God, even conceding their implicit caveats. You are correct that you have to have an other source for your eventual hypothetical belief therein. You are incorrect that you would, as you say, "... ultimately accept Scripture on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, not mere men. We go back to the source - the font, if you will - of Scripture." This is circularity writ large: you are saying that you examine the Scripture you initially do not completely accept (in the sense of faith beyond mere apprehension) by claiming a witness of the Holy Spirit to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit contained in them.

TF:
"It doesn't matter to the issue that we were considering. It may matter to you, because of your interest in the subject. But if two people agree on a standard, there is no reason for one of them to have prove the validity of that standard to the other person. It's when people disagree that demonstration is required. The question is, by whom. But that would get us back to the issue being discussed betwixt Greco and myself."

By whom, indeed. You disagree with the epistemological foundations for accepting the standard, and in so doing present an invalid argument. The tautological, as it were, presentation demonstrates that you have a burden: please illustrate how you know what is and what is not Scripture.

TF:
"God gave it to us through the pens of scribes. Some were believers, many (especially among the Jews) were not. The living voice whose word it is, is God, not men."

A fine admission of the principle of ecclesial infallibility. Thank you.

TF:
"The CCC also cites Scripture for the innovated doctrine of Purgatory. It's all pretext, as the Roman Catholic Church uses those texts to justify the doctrine - it did not derive it from them."

No, the Protestant refusal to accept the context and execute proper exegesis and so on causes you to view the derivation and explication as pretextual.

TF:
"Furthermore, assuming I've found the right document, the one you referenced doesn't (in English) use either the word 'invincible' or 'ignorance.'"

I didn't say it did, I said it could provide you "complementary elucidation." As in, fleshing out and filling in gaps from an isolated reading of the Vatican II document, the piece by Cdl. Dulles, etc. Please don't make me pull out the "trinity or triune are not in the Bible" line with regard to V II or the CCC, either.

The traditionalist Catholics with whom I am close do not have the same problem you all do with Cdl. Dulles (why the scare quotes, by the way? Can we all assume that it's fair game to scare quote "pastor," "Dr.," or "Rev'd." So-and-so Protestant?). They are willing, as I am, (seeing as how I consider myself traditionalist) to understand them in a larger context and not create soundbite controversies. Carrie mentioned (despite her oft-interrupted hiatus) that Jimmy Akin caused her jaw to drop with a broadcast, but I think that reading his piece on moral responsibility and ignorance, both vincible and invincible, etc., would have largely disabused her of her probably unfounded shock.

As an interesting side note, I find it amusingly ironic that you and Gene M Bridges and others are quick to nonchalantly assign dishonesty to me but blanch when your integrity is called into question (and not even, properly understood, denied).

Perhaps you would do better to take up these issues with your Protestant brethren with whom you may or may not have table fellowship and convince them to begin to investigate the questions behind the "honest" admission that you do not have a consistent basis for citing your "font." Many of them would take issue with your admission.

Turretinfan said...

TF (previously): "We go to the font. We take the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as the authority for the canonical Scriptures. If you imagine that you go further than that - you have serious problems."

MB: "You received the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments from authoritative witnesses in whom the Lord worked and through whom He spoke."

The title Lord is not usually used of the person of the Holy Spirit. That seems to be a minor point. God inspired men to write the Scriptures. Who they are is not known in the case of each book.

MB: "You received the witness of the inspiration you are appealing to solely from these, and if you don't see that as defeating your position, you've got bigger problems than you are capable of imagining."

We acknowledge that there are people who testify to the inspiration of the books of the Bible. Ultimately, we don't accept the Bible because of their testimony. We accept the Bible because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit.

MB: "Try independently demonstrating, verifying, explaining, convoncong [sic - convincing?] anyone of, or in any other way having "assurance" of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit."

What "Independently" is supposed to mean is unclear. Ultimately, faith is the evidence of such unseen and unseeable things as inspiration.

MB: "What method does Westminster, e.g., hold out for determining the inspiration apart from what boils down to the [same] thing, ultimately, as the burning in the bosom of the Mormon missionaries you brought into the conversation?"

Mocking the work of the Holy Spirit by comparing it to a Mormon heresy fails to lure me to popery.

"Appeals to apostolicity, propheticity, internal coherence, etc., all depend upon the contemporaneous witness from the "fonts" themselves and those who accepted the commission to "faithfully hand on" that to which they had miraculous attestation?"

That has a question mark at the end, but it looks like a claim. The font is the Holy Spirit. Suggesting that the fonts are those who first received the testimony (or second or fiftieth received it) is to insult the true font.

MB: "You certainly do not have direct attestation; you are millenia removed therefrom and the same standard you are asserting we have in common comes concomitantly with equally authoritative tradition which you reject."

Your certainty is mistaken. We do have direct attestation. The Holy Spirit confirms his Word to us. We don't have direct attestation from the inspired authors beyond the Scriptures - though we do have (at least in the case of some of the books) their direct attestation in writing.

MB: "You pick and choose; this is definitionally heresy."

You may define it that way - but it doesn't make it so.

MB: "By deflecting as non-germane the points others raised to you on the basis that neither denies the authority of the standard ..."

Deflecting? This is the pot calling the kettle black. It looks to me like both your and the other papists have responded to my initial comment about Dulles' doctrine not being from the Scripture, not by defending it from Scripture, but by trying to question whether Scripture is really the standard. If that's not a deflection ... it's simply a red herring.

But pointing out that something is a red herring (which I have done) is only a "deflection" in the same sense that pointing out any logical fallacy is "deflection."

MB: "... in light of the undeniable fact that there are simultaneous claimants to the status of depositum fide with which you disagree ..."

Simultaneous claimants to the "status" (?) of the supposed "deposit of (the) faith"? I'm not sure what that phrase is intended to convey.

There is more than one sect that claims to be THE church (including the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics), and to have some sort of monopoly on interpretative tradition.

"... and saying that the simultaneously handed on Scriptures are the source of your rejection, you are obfuscating, intentionally or unintentionally ..."

Actually, contrary to contention, concisely stating the issue, and dismissing red herrings, clarifies rather than obfuscating. In other words, the situation is just the opposite of what you claim.

"... or you are dissembling by presenting your argument and hiding certain facts by way of deflection, willful ignoring, or concealment."

See above.

MB: "I'm willing to believe that your mistake here is an honest one. "

I'm willing to believe the same thing about your mistake.

MB: "Even one well-intentioned or motivated by the noble desire to defend the Scriptures and the God Who inspired them through the prophets, apostles, and others and their spiritual progeny."

See above.

TF (previously): "Some of us may have received our first Bible from Mormon missionaries, but we don't have believe anything that they teach. It would be absurd to imagine that we must."

MB: "You are correct. You can accept the Bible from them and believe the opposite of what they [presumably] would tell you about it, to wit: it is the Word of God, even conceding their implicit caveats. You are correct that you have to have an other source for your eventual hypothetical belief therein."

Thanks.

"You are incorrect that you would, as you say, "... ultimately accept Scripture on the testimony of the Holy Spirit, not mere men. We go back to the source - the font, if you will - of Scripture.""

Actually, though - not only am I correct - I'm the expert on whose testimony I accept. I think it's fair to say that I know whose testimony I accept better than you do. It would seem presumptuous (at best) for you to think otherwise.

MB: "This is circularity writ large: you are saying that you examine the Scripture you initially do not completely accept (in the sense of faith beyond mere apprehension) by claiming a witness of the Holy Spirit to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit contained in them."

a) That's not circularity in the logical sense.

b) I accept Scripture by faith in the Holy Spirit. That's whether the line starts. There's no circularity there at all.

TF (previously): "It doesn't matter to the issue that we were considering. It may matter to you, because of your interest in the subject. But if two people agree on a standard, there is no reason for one of them to have prove the validity of that standard to the other person. It's when people disagree that demonstration is required. The question is, by whom. But that would get us back to the issue being discussed betwixt Greco and myself."

MB: "By whom, indeed."

I'm glad we can find at least that limited agreement on the subject.

MB: "You disagree with the epistemological foundations for accepting the standard, and in so doing present an invalid argument."

a) Even if it were the case that I disagreed with the epistemological foundation for acceptance of the standard, that would not make the argument invalid. After all, the acceptance of the source is not a fact in dispute.

b) To put it another way, if I accepted the source for an obviously wrong reason (such as because I thought accepting Scripture's authority gave me license to commit sin), it would not invalidate the argument.

c) The reason it doesn't invalidate the argument, is because the argument doesn't on its face depend on how we should properly accept the standard.

d) You may claim that it does depend on how we should properly accept the standard, but then you are starting to make the argument you would need to make, in order to demonstrate that there is some additional standard out there.

e) Thus, your criticism begs the question.

MB: "The tautological, as it were, presentation demonstrates that you have a burden: please illustrate how you know what is and what is not Scripture."

a) What sort of burden is that? The non-existent burden of illustration? Come on. Surely you know better than to suppose that a person has a "burden" of demonstrating how he came to know something that both parties agree is true.

b) Of course, the reason why you would ask for such a burden is becoming clear to those following this discussion. In fact, you want to claim that I should have (or actually did?) gotten the identity of Scripture from an authoritative source other than the one I actually ultimately got it from.

c) That's one of your arguments in your attempt to demonstrate that there is some other standard out there, besides the Bible. But since you are advocating the existence of this supposed standard, the burden is on you to demonstrate it.

TF (previously): "God gave it to us through the pens of scribes. Some were believers, many (especially among the Jews) were not. The living voice whose word it is, is God, not men."

MB: "A fine admission of the principle of ecclesial infallibility. Thank you."

Actually, the scribes made numerous errors in the process (the professedly Christian scribes actually doing a worse job of it than some of the non-Christian scribes. They were not infallible.

TF: "The CCC also cites Scripture for the innovated doctrine of Purgatory. It's all pretext, as the Roman Catholic Church uses those texts to justify the doctrine - it did not derive it from them."

MB: "No, the Protestant refusal to accept the context and execute proper exegesis and so on causes you to view the derivation and explication as pretextual."

a) The category "Protestant" is not helpful or really meaningful to the discussion.

b) Others have done apologetic work (such as debates), which have demonstrated the inability of papists to exegetically derive Purgatory from Scripture.

c) I don't feel the need to repeat their work here.

TF (previously): "Furthermore, assuming I've found the right document, the one you referenced doesn't (in English) use either the word 'invincible' or 'ignorance.'"

MB: "I didn't say it did, I said it could provide you "complementary elucidation.""

Complementary elucidation of what? If its not elucidation of the supposed doctrine of invincible ignorance, then what?

MB: "As in, fleshing out and filling in gaps from an isolated reading of the Vatican II document, the piece by Cdl. Dulles, etc."

"Isolated" reading of multiple documents "and the rest"? Are the gaps being filled in related to a doctrine teaching that atheists can be saved while still being atheists?

MB: "Please don't make me pull out the "trinity or triune are not in the Bible" line with regard to V II or the CCC, either."

I don't think there's any valid comparison, unless you believe something in the document you identified is relevant to the issue of the salvation of atheists who are still atheists. If you think that's the case, given that there are over 100 sections, perhaps you'd be so kind as to identify the section or range of sections that you think fill in the atheist salvation gaps that we somehow missed in our reading of Vatican 2's documents, "Cardinal" Dulles' document, and the rest of the post-V2 documents suggesting that those outside the church can obtain salvation.

As you know, some traditionalists reject V2 because it is in conflict with the earlier teachings (they claim) that salvation cannot be found outside the church.

MB: "The traditionalist Catholics with whom I am close do not have the same problem you all do with Cdl. Dulles (why the scare quotes, by the way? Can we all assume that it's fair game to scare quote "pastor," "Dr.," or "Rev'd." So-and-so Protestant?)."

Those I know do have a problem with it. Evidently we know different folks. But surely we both know of Gerry Matatics.

"Scare quotes"? Please.

MB: "They are willing, as I am, (seeing as how I consider myself traditionalist) to understand them in a larger context and not create soundbite controversies."

See above.

MB: "Carrie mentioned (despite her oft-interrupted hiatus) that Jimmy Akin caused her jaw to drop with a broadcast, but I think that reading his piece on moral responsibility and ignorance, both vincible and invincible, etc., would have largely disabused her of her probably unfounded shock."

I don't see any reason to drag Carrie into this.

MB: "As an interesting side note, I find it amusingly ironic that you and Gene M Bridges and others are quick to nonchalantly assign dishonesty to me but blanch when your integrity is called into question (and not even, properly understood, denied)."

That sort of thing may be fascinating for you, but it has zero to do (whether true or not) with our conversation.

MB: "Perhaps you would do better to take up these issues with your Protestant brethren with whom you may or may not have table fellowship and convince them to begin to investigate the questions behind the "honest" admission that you do not have a consistent basis for citing your "font.""

The issue of this thread is salvation of atheists who are still atheists. That's not an issue that divides Reformed believers. If it did, I would take it up with them.

It is an issue that divides professing Roman Catholics. At least some Roman Catholics recognize that such doctrine is an historical departure. Rather than reject the doctrines of Trent, though, they instead try to reject only modern Roman Catholicism - which can lead to all sorts of what seem like wild conspiracy theories.

Furthermore, as noted above, "Protestant" is not a helpful or meaningful category for the discussion.

MB: "Many of them would take issue with your admission."

As far as I know, I haven't admitted anything that would cause heartburn for any confessional Reformed believer.

Even if I did, though, we have a way of handling those kinds of issues: appeal to the infallible Scriptures.

-TurretinFan

Alexander Greco said...

Turretinfan, first I am going to ask you to refrain from using inflammatory and derogatory terminology by calling us Catholics “papists.” You have requested that the term “protestant” not be used, and yet you have used “papist” a number of times. I have as of yet to meet a Catholic who uses that vulgar term in describing themselves. It does not take any erudition at all to know that it is offensive to refer to someone with disparaging terminology. Hopefully you will acknowledge this, and agree.

Now to our prior discussion.

Turretinfan: “1) Unless you deny that the Bible is a standard, it is a red herring for you to ask me to prove to you that it is a standard. If you plan to continue this argument, let me ask you the straight question: do you agree with me that the Bible is *a* standard?”

Me: I thought that I had made this clear in an earlier post. In order to give you my answer, I believe that it would be best to make further clarification. I stated before that there was zero distinction between saying *a* standard and *the* standard from both the Reformed theological viewpoint, and the Catholic theological viewpoint. Only a relativist could make such a distinction. This is the reason why I stated that you were arguing from relativism.

Let’s begin by defining what we need a standard for, and that is in order to determine orthodox Christian doctrine. We are attempting to distinguish valid Christian doctrines from non-valid Christian doctrines. In order to achieve this we acknowledge that we need some rule or principle (standard) to compare to. Because Christian doctrines emanate from God, the Divine Logos, they must be based upon His Authority, and any standard as such must also be based upon His Authority. As such, God determines the standard, not us. As fallible human beings we could not possibly determine via general consent the standard to be used, for we would be greatly lacking. With our natural faculties we could never distinguish Divine Revelation from mere fantasy. As a standard, in order to distinguish truth from falsehood as it pertains to Christian doctrine, the standard must be a wholly sufficient one. Therefore, our standard must be *the* standard, and not simply *a* standard derived from mutual agreement. Either it is ordained from on High, or it is insufficient.

It is my position that the Scriptures are not the standard because alone they are not sufficient (formally) to be a standard, and I have alluded to moral issues before which are not taken up in Scripture as an example (and which you have as of yet to give me an adequate response). Are they useful? Absolutely! Are they profitable? Yes! However, you have imposed a false dichotomy into the conversation by reducing the standard into a subset of a standard, and naming that the standard, and then falsely saying that we agree that it is a standard. I do not agree that it is. At this point, I would contest that it is almost a standard, but not quite. Without sacred Tradition and the magisterium the standard is incomplete. So by definition, I am not adding to a standard, you are taking away. I believe that you and Mr. Bellisario will be debating this soon enough.

Turretinfan: “2) Now, you may want to say as many times as possible that I need to prove that it is *the* standard, but unless you (or someone else) can establish that there is any standard other than the one standard that we agree exists (at least, as per (1) above, I assume we agree that it exists), then actually that burden is on you to show there is an additional standard in existence.”

Me: As I stated above, there is not an additional…you have made a division.

Turretinfan: “3) Of course, that doesn't mean that no proof can be provided. It simply means that it's really not up to us to prove the non-existence of other standards.”

Me: Again, you are imposing the existence of a different standard. By definition, you have named yourself as “reformed.” Therefore, it is implicit upon you to provide the burden of proof as to why the status quo is in error or at fault.

Turretinfan: “I wonder whether you consistently use this kind of rhetoric in your discussions with agnostics: do you tell them that they have to prove God's non-existence to you? Or do you recognize that logically you have to some how persuade them of God's existence. If you recognize it there, why don't you recognize that here?”

Me: I believe that you (reformed) should be asking yourself this question.

Turretinfan: “4) Calling me a "relativist" is ... well, no generous words come immediately to mind. I'm a zealous advocate of absolute truth. I'm afraid my Scrabble analogy wasn't very helpful to you. So be it. I'm not going to belabor that point further for now.”

Me: I hope that I have explained above why I asked if you were a relativist. If you make a distinction between *a* standard and *the* standard for orthodox Christian doctrine, then you are arguing as a relativist.

Turretinfan: “5) With respect to the IV fertilization, I had asked why it would be a problem, hypothetically speaking, if the Bible did not address the matter. You responded, "Because it is a problem of serious moral concern." If you were to decide what is a serious moral concern based on what people fret about, then you would be a relativist. Given that you seem to try to tar me with the "relativist" label, I assume you are not one. So then, how do we know that the problem is of serious moral concern? The answer, implicit in your remarks, is that the Bible speaks about the importance of preserving life, as well as the importance of procreation. But then you have to see that the Bible does address the matter, at least in general terms.”

Me: Allow me to give you basic Moral Philosophy 101. Human actions are the subject matter of moral philosophy. Human actions, as obtaining qualities that are free, conscious, and deliberate, are moral actions. Human acts are teleological; they are engaged for a purpose, an end. Also, the means used in order to achieve the end also are assessed morally. The ends themselves can also have a moral assessment. The end that is being sought has what is called the character of the good. That good could be either a real good, or simply an apparent good; that is, a real good is truly fulfilling and perfective of the moral agent.

Regarding IVF, which is clearly a human act and as such it is a moral act; the serious aspect of it would be the fact that we are determining the morality of the appropriate means of reproduction. I have yet to find anyone who would state that this is not a matter for bioethical discussion.

Saying that implicit in my remarks: “is that the Bible speaks about the importance of preserving life, as well as the importance of procreation,” does nothing to resolve the matter, not to mention the fact that the Bible goes no where near addressing the morality of IVF…not even in general terms.

Turretinfan: “6) What you deemed to be an admission, really isn't that significant. Where I derive the doctrine that Scripture is authoritative is moot, because you agree (at least I assume you do, see (1) above) that Scripture is authoritative: that it is a standard. So, whether I can prove this point that we agree on is a moot issue. You seem intent on writing the issue as "the only standard" and then asking me to prove the "only" part - when in fact, since you agree it is a standard, it is incumbent on you to demonstrate the further standards.”

Me: I have answered this in large part above; however, I want to reiterate that I have not once questioned the authority of Scripture, only its sufficiency as a standard (and this is the point you keep glossing over so as to avoid proving that it is a standard, Mr. Reformer).

Turretinfan: “7) Applying the points above to the "Invincible Ignorance" issue, let me reiterate.

You never got that doctrine from Scripture. You (broadly encompassing the Roman Catholic Church) invented it. It's a doctrine and tradition of men - not of God. It has all the authority (or perhaps not even that - I'll let you decide) of the RCC, but no more. It does not have divine authority. If you disagree, it is up to you to show that your authority is divine, not up to me to prove that it isn't.”

Me: I admit that I am not presently capable of arguing from Scripture, efficiently, the doctrine of invincible ignorance. I am not saying that it cannot be done; I am also not saying that I am completely incapable of eventually doing it. I could certainly argue it philosophically. I could also make use of it to show you that your own beliefs are contradictory (I’m still surprised that nobody will discuss the eternal destiny of children who are prior to the age of reason with me). Even so, you, oh dear reformer, are making the claim that it is the doctrine of men based upon a standard that I do not hold. If I were an atheist, would you tell me that God existed because the Bible told you so? Why should I believe in your standard? Upon what authority do you speak…Scripture? Where does Scripture state that it is formally sufficient?

Turretinfan: “I hope that what I'm saying is clear, whether or not you agree. As a matter of fact, we have Scripture as our only sure propositional revelation.”

Me: “Only.” Says who…Scripture? Where? When are you dear reformers going to prove this? We, the status quo, the apostolic Catholic Church, have been waiting for quite some time now. The burden of proof is upon you, my dear reformer.

Turretinfan: “In the same way, as a matter of fact, Moses has died, the apostles have died, and we have now not them, but the writings that they were inspired to set down. Proving that Scripture is an authority can be considered a doctrinal question - but proving that it is the only authority we have is more of a factual question. When you combine the two, I suppose you can still consider it a doctrinal question, but you have to be careful not to make the mistake you make above, of assuming some obligation on our part to demonstrate to you a universal negative.”

Me: This is where I beg of you to follow the conversation. I am not asking you to prove a universal negative. I am simply asking you to demonstrate, to substantiate your argument that the Bible is the standard for orthodox Christian doctrine. I don’t need you to prove to me why I am wrong, I have only been asking you to prove to me why you are right…why the obfuscation?


Turretinfan: “Perhaps we could demonstrate it to you ... but it's really not our responsibility. Ultimately, if you want us to accept doctrines made up by the RCC (like Papal Infallibility or Invincible Ignorance) you are going to have give us a better reason than that the RCC said it. This is a problem for you, though, because there's just no way to exegetically derive Papal Infallibility (or Invincible Ignorance) from Scripture.”

Me: Once again, Turretinfan, you are the one proclaiming that Scripture is the standard, not me. Why should I believe you? You have not even tried to demonstrate this. I am waiting.

Turretinfan said...

AG: "Turretinfan, first I am going to ask you to refrain from using inflammatory and derogatory terminology by calling us Catholics “papists.”"

I find it amusing that you find a straightforward description of your dogmatically defined ecclesiology to be both inflammatory and derogatory. I don't mind people calling me a presbyterian, and not too many baptists I know mind be called either that or congregationalists. One would think that you would take it as a badge of honor that you follow a pope, if indeed you do. I am not ashamed to follow the form of church government that I follow.

What's offensive to me is papists calling themselves "Catholics" as though their chuch were THE church: arrogating their church's views, as though they were the universal teachings of the church.

But I don't make a big deal out of it, so I suggest that you reconsider your complaint.

AG: "You have requested that the term “protestant” not be used, and yet you have used “papist” a number of times."

I didn't ask that it not be used. I pointed out that it wasn't a helpful or meaningful category for our discussion. "Papist" on the other hand is a helpful and meaningful category. It is a indisputably factual description of your eccelesiology, and ultimately of your epistemology (given the teachings of Vatican I).

Papists use the term "Protestant" to broadly encompass most of the non-papist groups that label themselves "Christians" (Eastern Orthodox, Copts, and Ethiopians are some notable exceptions). Such a broad category isn't helpful for a variety of reasons, among which are that consistent Reformed believers consider many of them heretics, just as they would be viewed by the historic papists.

AG: "I have as of yet to meet a Catholic who uses that vulgar term in describing themselves."

I have met at least one on-line. I suspect the reason for supressing that description is more a matter of PR than vulgarity. If it vulgar to follow the pope, why do you do it? But if you do it, why do you mind me point it out?

AG: "It does not take any erudition at all to know that it is offensive to refer to someone with disparaging terminology."

There's inherent disparagement in the arrogant title "Catholic" applied to the sect of the papists: as though the bishop of Rome were the head of the universal church of Christ.

But there is no disparagement in inherent in the title "papist," unless your conscience tells you that following the pope is not something to be done.

AG: "Hopefully you will acknowledge this, and agree."

See above.

I'll address the rest of your comments separately, Lord willing, as time permits.

-TurretinFan

Turretinfan said...

TF (previously): “1) Unless you deny that the Bible is a standard, it is a red herring for you to ask me to prove to you that it is a standard. If you plan to continue this argument, let me ask you the straight question: do you agree with me that the Bible is *a* standard?”

AG: "I thought that I had made this clear in an earlier post. In order to give you my answer, I believe that it would be best to make further clarification. I stated before that there was zero distinction between saying *a* standard and *the* standard from both the Reformed theological viewpoint, and the Catholic theological viewpoint. Only a relativist could make such a distinction. This is the reason why I stated that you were arguing from relativism."

It's really your position that there is no difference between the definite and indefinite articles? That argument seems to be inherently self defeating. Maybe you mistyped something, because I cannot imagine any rational basis for your claim that only a relativist would understand the difference between "a" and "the" standard.

Do you understand the difference between "a church" and "the church"? If you understand that difference when dealing with churches, why cannot you understand it when speaking of standards?

AG: "Let’s begin by defining what we need a standard for, and that is in order to determine orthodox Christian doctrine."

As written, we would not object with that description, I think.

AG: "We are attempting to distinguish valid Christian doctrines from non-valid Christian doctrines."

Actually, we are trying to distinguish between teachings of God, and human (or demonic) additions or inventions. Ultimately, we conclude that valid Christian doctrines are those which are God's teachings. So, perhaps this definition is not objectionable, either.

AG: "In order to achieve this we acknowledge that we need some rule or principle (standard) to compare to."

At least one, yes.

AG: "Because Christian doctrines emanate from God, the Divine Logos, they must be based upon His Authority, and any standard as such must also be based upon His Authority."

"Emanate"? God reveals himself. If we want knowledge of God, we must seek the revelation of God. That revelation is found today in Scripture.

Authority is an insufficient basis for selecting a standard. Many things have God's authority: including husbands, parents, and civil governments.

AG: "As such, God determines the standard, not us."

God provides the standard, not us.

AG: "As fallible human beings we could not possibly determine via general consent the standard to be used, for we would be greatly lacking."

Since God reveals himself, it's really moot whether human beings recognize the fact. If no one believed the Scriptures, they would not cease to be true.

AG: "With our natural faculties we could never distinguish Divine Revelation from mere fantasy."

I'm reminded of the story about the broken clock being right twice a day. Humans might be able to distinguish God's revelation of himself from fantasy, but they would have no valid epistemology assurance, if they made that distinction without divine assistance.

AG: "As a standard, in order to distinguish truth from falsehood as it pertains to Christian doctrine, the standard must be a wholly sufficient one."

Actually - that's not necessary. For example, the Gospel of Matthew is Scripture and is an authoritative standard - without regard to whether it is "wholly sufficient." Indeed, the first verse of John's Gospel is an authoritative standard, and it is hard to imagine how one would characterize that lone verse as "wholly sufficient."

But, if John 1:1 is "wholly sufficient" then perhaps I don't disagree with the characterization, it just doesn't appear to have any particular meaning other than meaning that the standard in question is a standard that is truly God's revelation of himself.

AG: "Therefore, our standard must be *the* standard, and not simply *a* standard derived from mutual agreement."

a) As noted above, we can use John 1:1 as a standard, even though it is not the standard: it does not encompass the entirety of God's revelation of himself.

b) The idea of standards being derived from mutual agreement seems to be your straw man, loosely based on the fact that I had mentioned that both the Reformed and papists agree that Scripture is a standard.

c) Agreement is of importance for the purposes of debate/dialog, not of epistemology. If we agree that John 1:1 is Scripture and authoritative, there is no need for me to prove that to you. Likewise, if I agree that the Revelation of John the Apostle is Scripture and authoritative, there is no need for you to prove that to me. You seem to have conflated the issue of debate/dialog, with the epistemology, which is what has lead to your absurd accusations of relativism.

d) The relevant difference between "the" and "a" standard is not how the standard is obtained. The relevant difference is whether what is under consideration is simply one standard of many (as is the case with a particular verse or book of the Bible), or whether what is under consideration is the entirety of all relevant standards. If we agree that John 1:1 is a standard, but not that John 1:2 is a standard, it is John 1:2 that is in issue, not John 1:1. Same goes here: it is not Scripture's authority that is in question, but the authority of the traditions of the Vatican. We deny, you affirm.

e) Of course, if the Vatican's traditions were God's revelation of himself, that would be an objective fact independent of acceptance by us. If they were God's revelation of himself, it would be wrong for us to deny their authority. Furthermore, if they were God's revelation of himself, then our standard (Scripture) would not be THE standard, but simply A standard. I phrase all those things in the subjunctive, because (of course) the traditions of the Vatican are not God's revelation of himself.

AG: "Either it is ordained from on High, or it is insufficient."

I think this comment is already addressed by the remarks above.

AG: "It is my position that the Scriptures are not the standard because alone they are not sufficient (formally) to be a standard, and I have alluded to moral issues before which are not taken up in Scripture as an example (and which you have as of yet to give me an adequate response)."

a) You've stated your opinion as to the adequacy of the response. You have not rebutted the response. We'll leave it at that.

b) From whence did you get the standard that in order to be a standard, a standard must be "formally" sufficient? Who told you that? I don't think you got it from God's revelation of himself. So then, from where did you get it?

AG: "Are they useful? Absolutely! Are they profitable? Yes! However, you have imposed a false dichotomy into the conversation by reducing the standard into a subset of a standard, and naming that the standard, and then falsely saying that we agree that it is a standard."

a) Roman Catholicism does agree that Scripture is a standard, it just denies that it is THE standard. It views THE standard as Scripture + Tradition. So, no, that's not a "false[] saying" of mine.

b) It's not a "false dichotomy." A false dichotomy is when someone claims that there are only two choices when in fact there are more choices (such as the classic: "do you walk to work, or do you carry your lunch?").

c) In fact, there is no issue of the standard including Scripture. The only question is whether the standard additionally includes the traditions of the papists. You affirm, we deny. But the burden is on you to establish the authority of your traditions, not on us to disprove them.

AG: "I do not agree that it is. At this point, I would contest that it is almost a standard, but not quite. Without sacred Tradition and the magisterium the standard is incomplete. So by definition, I am not adding to a standard, you are taking away. I believe that you and Mr. Bellisario will be debating this soon enough."

Presumably these comments are already addressed above.

TF (previously): “2) Now, you may want to say as many times as possible that I need to prove that it is *the* standard, but unless you (or someone else) can establish that there is any standard other than the one standard that we agree exists (at least, as per (1) above, I assume we agree that it exists), then actually that burden is on you to show there is an additional standard in existence.”

AG: As I stated above, there is not an additional…you have made a division.

I answer: your claim of division is based on your premise that there exists something additional to Scripture that can serve as a standard. You have to establish that premise, before your division claim will work. And, of course, if we accepted that premise we wouldn't be arguing with you - we'd be accepting that "something additional." So actually, as demonstrated above, you are in fact asserting that the standard includes a further standard to Scripture.

TF (previously): “3) Of course, that doesn't mean that no proof can be provided. It simply means that it's really not up to us to prove the non-existence of other standards.”

AG: Again, you are imposing the existence of a different standard. By definition, you have named yourself as “reformed.” Therefore, it is implicit upon you to provide the burden of proof as to why the status quo is in error or at fault.

a) We are "Reformed" for historical reasons. If that name were decisive of a burden of proof, we'd just call ourselves "Biblical." That wouldn't be a very helpful label, but it would avoid a semantic debate.

b) The Reformation had bountiful reason for its existence. Trying to expand this discussion into that would cause this already lengthy discussion to balloon.

c) While changes in policy are normally debated with reference to the status quo, there's no reason to accord such a presumption in debates between people whose respective status quo differ from one another.

TF (previously): “I wonder whether you consistently use this kind of rhetoric in your discussions with agnostics: do you tell them that they have to prove God's non-existence to you? Or do you recognize that logically you have to some how persuade them of God's existence. If you recognize it there, why don't you recognize that here?”

AG: "I believe that you (reformed) should be asking yourself this question."

a) That looks like a deflection. Weren't you criticizing me for allegedly deflecting?

b) We do not (at least not generally, that I know of) require agnostics to prove God's non-existence. So, your attempted turnabout fails.

TF (previously): “4) Calling me a "relativist" is ... well, no generous words come immediately to mind. I'm a zealous advocate of absolute truth. I'm afraid my Scrabble analogy wasn't very helpful to you. So be it. I'm not going to belabor that point further for now.”

AG: "I hope that I have explained above why I asked if you were a relativist. If you make a distinction between *a* standard and *the* standard for orthodox Christian doctrine, then you are arguing as a relativist."

See above. It seems your false claim of relativism is based on your assumption that if something is "a" standard it must be a standard in a relativistic sense: which is not only an unnecessary assumption on your part, but one that doesn't make much sense (especially in view of my clear disavowal of relativism).

TF (previously): “5) With respect to the IV fertilization, I had asked why it would be a problem, hypothetically speaking, if the Bible did not address the matter. You responded, "Because it is a problem of serious moral concern." If you were to decide what is a serious moral concern based on what people fret about, then you would be a relativist. Given that you seem to try to tar me with the "relativist" label, I assume you are not one. So then, how do we know that the problem is of serious moral concern? The answer, implicit in your remarks, is that the Bible speaks about the importance of preserving life, as well as the importance of procreation. But then you have to see that the Bible does address the matter, at least in general terms.”

AG: "Allow me to give you basic Moral Philosophy 101."

a) That doesn't sound the least bit condescending, just as this doesn't sound the list bit sarcastic.

b) Unless you're getting MP101 from Scripture, why would I accept it? More importantly, why should anyone reading accept it?

AG: "Human actions are the subject matter of moral philosophy. Human actions, as obtaining qualities that are free, conscious, and deliberate, are moral actions. Human acts are teleological; they are engaged for a purpose, an end. Also, the means used in order to achieve the end also are assessed morally. The ends themselves can also have a moral assessment. The end that is being sought has what is called the character of the good. That good could be either a real good, or simply an apparent good; that is, a real good is truly fulfilling and perfective of the moral agent."

... no comment needed ...

AG: "Regarding IVF, which is clearly a human act and as such it is a moral act; the serious aspect of it would be the fact that we are determining the morality of the appropriate means of reproduction."

That it is "serious" appears to based (in your opinion) on it relating to reproduction. On the other hand, your foregoing discussion suggests that every human act is moral. Thus, that reproductive acts are "serious" doesn't follow. There's a leap of logic, based - presumably - on your still-unjustified view that moral acts connected with reproduction are "serious."

AG: "I have yet to find anyone who would state that this is not a matter for bioethical discussion."

Remember what you yourself acknowledged about mutual agreement not being itself a standard. But it's moot - since I don't deny that it is a matter for bioethical discussion. It is a bioethical question. So is the question of omnivoraciousness. There are a multitude of bioethical questions. The scope of bioethics definitionally includes topics related to morality and biology.

AG: "Saying that implicit in my remarks: “is that the Bible speaks about the importance of preserving life, as well as the importance of procreation,” does nothing to resolve the matter, not to mention the fact that the Bible goes no where near addressing the morality of IVF…not even in general terms."

Well, if the Bible discusses morality generally, and if the question of IVF is a moral question, it would seem to follow that the Bible has at least some relevant discussion. If you disagree that the Bible discusses morality generally, please say so, as that will determine what needs to be discussed.

TF (previously): “6) What you deemed to be an admission, really isn't that significant. Where I derive the doctrine that Scripture is authoritative is moot, because you agree (at least I assume you do, see (1) above) that Scripture is authoritative: that it is a standard. So, whether I can prove this point that we agree on is a moot issue. You seem intent on writing the issue as "the only standard" and then asking me to prove the "only" part - when in fact, since you agree it is a standard, it is incumbent on you to demonstrate the further standards.”

AG: I have answered this in large part above; however, I want to reiterate that I have not once questioned the authority of Scripture, only its sufficiency as a standard (and this is the point you keep glossing over so as to avoid proving that it is a standard, Mr. Reformer).

a) You haven't established the insufficiency of Scripture.

b) Roman Catholicism generally recognizes that Scripture is a standard, and consequently claims to follow (among other things) Scripture.

c) Furthermore, I know of know prominent papist that would have the temerity to claim that a doctrine could be contrary to Scripture and yet a valid Christian doctrine.

d) Thus, it would appear that in fact (contrary to your assertions) it is a standard - it is simply not THE standard.

TF (previously): “7) Applying the points above to the "Invincible Ignorance" issue, let me reiterate. You never got that doctrine from Scripture. You (broadly encompassing the Roman Catholic Church) invented it. It's a doctrine and tradition of men - not of God. It has all the authority (or perhaps not even that - I'll let you decide) of the RCC, but no more. It does not have divine authority. If you disagree, it is up to you to show that your authority is divine, not up to me to prove that it isn't.”

AG: "I admit that I am not presently capable of arguing from Scripture, efficiently, the doctrine of invincible ignorance."

Fair enough.

AG: "I am not saying that it cannot be done; I am also not saying that I am completely incapable of eventually doing it."

Your disclaimer is acknowledged.

AG: "I could certainly argue it philosophically."

... ok ...

AG: "I could also make use of it to show you that your own beliefs are contradictory (I’m still surprised that nobody will discuss the eternal destiny of children who are prior to the age of reason with me)."

a) The "it" must refer to your arguments from philosophy, as opposed to the doctrine of invincible ignorance.

b) The reason no one will discuss such a thing with you is presumably one of the following:

(i) it's off topic - the topic being the salvation of atheists. If there exists an "age of reason" then children prior to that age are not atheists.

(ii) it's an emotionally charged subject - which tends to distract reason rather than aid it.

(iii) we are interested in the proper application of philosophy to Scripture, but not in philosophy divorced from Scripture.

AG: "Even so, you, oh dear reformer, are making the claim that it is the doctrine of men based upon a standard that I do not hold."

Actually, it is based on a standard that you derogate as insufficient. But your derogation is based on a premise that you haven't established, as discussed above.

AG: "If I were an atheist, would you tell me that God existed because the Bible told you so?"

God is self-existent. To answer the question, yes: I would appeal to the authority of the Bible. I might (and probably would) also appeal to the general revelation of God in nature.

AG: "Why should I believe in your standard?"

Actually, your question should be rephrased as: "why cannot I just add the teachings of the Vatican to Scripture and call that the standard?" The answer is that you haven't a good reason to do so. You certainly haven't given a reason for me to do so. And, if you want to claim that the teachings of the Vatican are of authority, it's on your shoulders to prove that.

AG: "Upon what authority do you speak…Scripture?"

Of course.

AG: "Where does Scripture state that it is formally sufficient?"

a) Suppose for the sake of the argument that it did not state such a thing. It is the Word of God. Is there any reason to doubt its formal sufficiency?

b) More importantly, even if it were formally insufficient, you would still have to establish that the doctrines of the Vatican were the necessary supplement (as opposed, say, to the doctrines of Mohamed or Joseph Smith or Byzantium).

TF (previously): “I hope that what I'm saying is clear, whether or not you agree. As a matter of fact, we have Scripture as our only sure propositional revelation.”

Me: "“Only.” Says who…Scripture? Where? When are you dear reformers going to prove this? We, the status quo, the apostolic Catholic Church, have been waiting for quite some time now. The burden of proof is upon you, my dear reformer."

a) The factual issue of "only" is demonstrated variously. One way that it is demonstrated is by process of elimination. Your proposal of the traditions of the Vatican, unable to stand, has been eliminated.

b) As noted above, the "only" is simply a matter of fact - the result of the non-existence of other standards. Asking us to prove the non-existence of other standards (no matter in what terms you phrase it) is not a reasonable request.

c) Several churches with various doctrinal disagreements among them all claim to be "apostolic." Even the Mormons make such a claim. Claiming it clearly doesn't make it so. Corruption is to be addressed by Reform - as illustrated in Scripture. To be able to determine whether something is corrupt, you need a standard.

d) See below regarding the distinction between a doctrinal and factual question.

TF (previously): “In the same way, as a matter of fact, Moses has died, the apostles have died, and we have now not them, but the writings that they were inspired to set down. Proving that Scripture is an authority can be considered a doctrinal question - but proving that it is the only authority we have is more of a factual question. When you combine the two, I suppose you can still consider it a doctrinal question, but you have to be careful not to make the mistake you make above, of assuming some obligation on our part to demonstrate to you a universal negative.”

AG: This is where I beg of you to follow the conversation."

Oh, please.

AG: "I am not asking you to prove a universal negative."

Asking someone to prove that Scripture is the standard (i.e. the only standard) is asking them to prove that there is no other standard. That's a universal negative proposition. How this eludes you, I don't know.

AG: "I am simply asking you to demonstrate, to substantiate your argument that the Bible is the standard for orthodox Christian doctrine."

See above. That converts to a universal negative proposition, via your use of the definite article to mean "the only" as distinct from "one of several."

AG: "I don’t need you to prove to me why I am wrong, I have only been asking you to prove to me why you are right…why the obfuscation?"

a) Actually, proving you wrong would be a smaller task than what you actually are asking.

b) To prove you wrong, all I would need to prove is that the traditions of the Vatican are not authoritative.

b) But you want me to prove that not only are they not authoritative, but that there is no other authority than Scripture (apparently that's what you want ... given your comments about "only" etc. above).

c) But my position is adequately demonstrated by demonstrating the authority of Scripture and a willingness to address any objections in the form of additional authorities.

TF (previously): “Perhaps we could demonstrate it to you ... but it's really not our responsibility. Ultimately, if you want us to accept doctrines made up by the RCC (like Papal Infallibility or Invincible Ignorance) you are going to have give us a better reason than that the RCC said it. This is a problem for you, though, because there's just no way to exegetically derive Papal Infallibility (or Invincible Ignorance) from Scripture.”

AG: Once again, Turretinfan, you are the one proclaiming that Scripture is the standard, not me. Why should I believe you? You have not even tried to demonstrate this. I am waiting.

Scripture is the word of God. That's why you should accept it as a standard. You (or at least Roman Catholicism) do accept it as a standard. You just claim that there are more standards out there than Scripture. The onus of demonstration of such additional standards is on you, the proponent.

-TurretinFan

Rhology said...

AG: Once again, Turretinfan, you are the one proclaiming that Scripture is the standard, not me.

Thing is, TFan, it appears that our interlocutor friends here use Scr as a standard when it suits them and criticise us for holding to it as a standard when it's inconvenient to them.
They have more in common with atheists than we may have previously realised.

Tim Enloe said...

Hey TF: in some of your remarks you seem to devalue "proximate" grounds for believing in Scripture in favor of "ultimate" grounds. Then you take offense when someone asks you what's the difference between your private claim to having the Holy Spirit witness to you and the Mormon's private claim for his revelation. But if you devalue "proximate" means in favor of "ultimate" means, what rational response can you give to that criticism? If you abandon public criteria of authority in favor of private, you don't have anywhere to go but the inside of your own head - the exact same place the Mormon goes. This isn't impiety at all. The very Reformed Scholastic tradition which you, by claiming to be a "TurretinFan" hold, not to mention the WCF itself in Chapters 1.6 and 31 (whole chapter) have no trouble acknowleding serious place for "proximate" standards.

I'm curious if I've misread your appeals to "presuppositions" or if you actually do devalue every other authority than Scripture.

Turretinfan said...

TE: "Hey TF: in some of your remarks you seem to devalue "proximate" grounds for believing in Scripture in favor of "ultimate" grounds."

I'm not sure what you mean by "devalue." I acknowledge that the Holy Spirit can use various means.

TE: "Then you take offense when someone asks you what's the difference between your private claim to having the Holy Spirit witness to you and the Mormon's private claim for his revelation."

I take offense at mocking the work of the Holy Spirit by comparing it to the Mormon "burning in the bosom."

TE: "But if you devalue "proximate" means in favor of "ultimate" means, what rational response can you give to that criticism?"

I have already responded to that criticism. A mocking comparison is not a rebuttal. We know that it is inspired by the Holy Spirit, by the Holy Spirit's persuasion.

TE: "If you abandon public criteria of authority in favor of private, you don't have anywhere to go but the inside of your own head - the exact same place the Mormon goes."

The answer is not dictated by how the criticism is to be defended, but by the truth of the matter. I acknowledge that the Holy Spirit uses various means to persuade us, but he uses different means for different people. Thus, it is important to go back to the ultimate cause.

TE: "This isn't impiety at all. The very Reformed Scholastic tradition which you, by claiming to be a "TurretinFan" hold, not to mention the WCF itself in Chapters 1.6 and 31 (whole chapter) have no trouble [acknowledging] serious place for "proximate" standards."

I don't have any problem agreeing with Turretin (that I recall) or the WCF (which I'm confident I recall, having both read and posted it lately) on this.

TE: "I'm curious if I've misread your appeals to "presuppositions" or if you actually do devalue every other authority than Scripture."

Again, I'm not sure what you mean by "devalue." The authority of God is inherently higher than any human authority - even the authority of such frequently reliable sources as our senses.

There's a logical problem with trying to pull authority up by the bootstraps so as to determine (ultimately) divine authority by mere human authority. Of course, practically speaking, our senses, our church, and the church as a whole can play a role in the Spirit's persuasion.

I'm not sure if that address your devaluation comment, partly because I'm not sure what you intend by it.

I hope it does, but feel free to clarify.

-Turretinfan

Matthew Bellisario said...

Rhology said...

AG: Once again, Turretinfan, you are the one proclaiming that Scripture is the standard, not me.

Thing is, TFan, it appears that our interlocutor friends here use Scr as a standard when it suits them and criticise us for holding to it as a standard when it's inconvenient to them.
They have more in common with atheists than we may have previously realised.

10:53 AM, May 27, 2008


What a chuckle this is. Now comparing Mr. Greco to an atheist. This just gets better and better, will the personal attacks ever stop? The Word of God, the Holy Gospel is what the Church uses as its grounds for all teachings of the faith, which happens to include Sacred Scripture. It is not matter of using the Scriptures as a matter convenience or not, but accepting the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Jesus Himself that is the question. This whole business is of a "standard" is nonsense. The question at hand is, what is the Gospel, and how is it revealed? The interlocutor here would be the one who cannot distinguish between the true Gospel and the false, and the one who thinks they are an authority and are not, I don't think that is Mr. Greco, or myself. Why not stick to the argument instead of racking up the personal attacks Rhology?

Turretinfan said...

Getting right to the substance:

"The Word of God, the Holy Gospel is what the Church uses as its grounds for all teachings of the faith, which happens to include Sacred Scripture."

We agree (both you and I) that the Word of God includes Scripture, but we disagree over what else it includes. We may also disagree over conflating the Word of God and the Gospel - but that might be a semantic difference ... I'm willing to wait to see how it plays out.

MB: "It is not matter of using the Scriptures as a matter convenience or not, but accepting the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed by Jesus Himself that is the question."

That would be how you might view it - and we would view it contrariwise as a question of adding to the word. The agreed upon portion (if you will) is Scripture. The part in dispute is the tradition of the Vatican.

MB: "This whole business is of a "standard" is nonsense."

It's much easier to call something nonsense than to demonstrate that it is nonsense.

MB: "The question at hand is, what is the Gospel, and how is it revealed?"

That is an interesting way of wording the issue. I look forward to exploring it with you at greater length.

-Turretinfan

Rhology said...

Mr Bellisario, you're a little high-strung. Maybe you could deal with the substance of what I said instead of whining about it.

Peace,
Rhology

Matthew Bellisario said...

Turretin, you said, "The agreed upon portion (if you will) is Scripture. The part in dispute is the tradition of the Vatican."

No, I am not agreeing on any, "portion". There is no difference between them. I will clarify soon in the debate.

Turretinfan said...

Bellasario:

I wish you well. It looks like an untenable position from here, but perhaps with clarification you can make sense of it (to me).

-TurretinFan

Tim Enloe said...

Well, TF, I'm just trying to understand if your position on "presuppositions" is actually classical, magisterial Protestantism's sola Scriptura principle or if it's the common Evangelical "Bible Only" view that causes so much confusion in discussions like this.

You say you acknowledge that the Spirit uses different means to persuade people. That's good, but as I've read your various postings here it often seems as if you want to just skip over other means of persuasion and, as you just said to me, go to the ultimate means. But in this case, the ultimate means is something private (the internal witness of the Spirit to your personal, private heart), and this doesn't work as a public standard. Arguments are carried out in public, so public standards have to be used. Half the problem with typical Protestant arguments with Catholics is precisely the baneful influence of "Bible Onlyism," which traps the Protestant inside his own head and renders him unable to really understand the Catholic side and effectively publicly prosecute his case.

The magisterial Reformers didn't hesitate to use other sources of authority in their arguments - and in fact, to avow them as genuine, and generally trustworthy authorities. Their numerous cautionary remarks about said other authorities are just the products of the fact that they were fighting fanatics in an intellectual situation where the very doctrine of "tradition" itself was unclear.

In a sense you are pointing to a public standard when you ask the Catholics to simply own up to the fact that they too accept Scripture as "a" standard. This is an appeal to the public witness of the Church, which is quite proper in a Christian context. But I'm not sure where you go from there, because you seem reticent to engage questions from them about how you adjudicate disputes about Scriptural interpretation. They say they have an infallible Tradition (which is, of course, wrong), but you seem to think merely quoting Scripture solves everything - as, e.g., your remark above that when Protestants disagree the appeal for judgment is simply made to the infallible Scriptures. But this is just begging the question, since disagreements about what Scripture means can't be solved merely by quoting Scripture - that's exactly what's in dispute! This sounds like Bible Onlyism, which is an incoherent position and no part of classical, magisterial Protestantism.

I don't know you or the body of your work. I'm just trying to understand your position as I read through your comments to the Catholics. It's a bit disturbing to read you say that "The authority of God is inherently higher than any human authority - even the authority of such frequently reliable sources as our senses", because all you have to work with in approaching and interpreting Scripture is said "frequently reliable sources." If the senses are fundamentally unreliable, forget about pointing to that Bible on your desk - it's possibly not even there. If yoru reason is fundamentally unreliable, forget about even trying to distinguish between "true" and "false" and thereby to interpret Scripture. Nothing is solved by bypassing other authorities and claiming to go "directly" to God Himself. This position has already been dealt with thoroughly by Medieval Augustinians who recognized that to dichotomize God's Word from God's world was to fling wide the door to skepticism. Bible Onlyism is ridiculous and anti-Reformational, and I'm just really hoping that that is not your position in this debate.

Turretinfan said...

TE:

Thanks for the clarification.

Hopefully there will be meaningful interaction between Mr. Bellisario and myself in the upcoming debate that will cause the necessary issues to bubble to the forefront.

I appreciate your comments and concern.

-TurretinFan

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

When is the upcoming debate? What will be the debate topic(s)? Who are the debaters?

Turretinfan said...

TUAD:

See here:

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

Please post the info again TurretinFan.

Turretinfan said...

The address is
http://turretindebate.blogspot.com

(let's see if it works this time)

Turretinfan said...

Actually - something very irregular happened in that original comment - if you click on the date/time for the comment, you reach the intended link...

I must have used the wrong closing tag or something like that.

Sorry!

Mike Burgess said...

I've been out of town and quite busy, but I believe TF deserves a response to his latest comment directed to me.

TF: "The title Lord is not usually used of the person of the Holy Spirit."

It is in the Scriptures, the Creed, and the Liturgy. Can't do better than that. Sorry if your local congregation doesn't follow suit; I well remember the title being "normally attributed" to the Holy Ghost (as we were wont to refer to Him in our Presbyterian churches all those years ago) and explicit reference given to Scripture and the Nicene Creed, which, last I checked, were both still authoritative for you.

TF: "That seems to be a minor point."

Only if theology is constituted by lots of such minor points.

TF: "We acknowledge that there are people who testify to the inspiration of the books of the Bible. Ultimately, we don't accept the Bible because of their testimony. We accept the Bible because of the testimony of the Holy Spirit."

You accept their testimony about Who inspired the Scriptures. More on this momentarily.

Me earlier and your response:

MB: "What method does Westminster, e.g., hold out for determining the inspiration apart from what boils down to the [same] thing, ultimately, as the burning in the bosom of the Mormon missionaries you brought into the conversation?"

TF: "Mocking the work of the Holy Spirit by comparing it to a Mormon heresy fails to lure me to popery."

I wasn't mocking the work of the Holy Spirit. I can't imagine why you'd get that out of my criticism of Westminster. Neither of us believe Westminster was inspired.

Tim Enloe already addressed the real point of my criticism before I could get to this response, and I note you didn't answer him, either.

TF: "That has a question mark at the end, but it looks like a claim. The font is the Holy Spirit. Suggesting that the fonts are those who first received the testimony (or second or fiftieth received it) is to insult the true font."

Then you insulted Him before I did; on the one hand you said He is the font and on the other you said the Scriptures are the font. The two are not the same. He is a divine Person of the Holy Trinity, they are the words He inspired certain human authors to write.

TF: " Your certainty is mistaken. We do have direct attestation. The Holy Spirit confirms his Word to us. We don't have direct attestation from the inspired authors beyond the Scriptures - though we do have (at least in the case of some of the books) their direct attestation in writing."

and "Deflecting? This is the pot calling the kettle black. It looks to me like both your and the other papists have responded to my initial comment about Dulles' doctrine not being from the Scripture, not by defending it from Scripture, but by trying to question whether Scripture is really the standard. If that's not a deflection ... it's simply a red herring.

But pointing out that something is a red herring (which I have done) is only a 'deflection' in the same sense that pointing out any logical fallacy is 'deflection.'"

and "I accept Scripture by faith in the Holy Spirit. That's whether [sic] the line starts. There's no circularity there at all."

The problem is, you initially start with the premise that the Scriptures do not have to be what the presenter (Mormon, Catholic, or Nazarene Holiness layman) claims they are. For where did you already tell us we have to get what we can know about God from? Those self-same Scriptures. And they're what tell you about the Person, work, and witness of the Holy Spirit... Who... inspired them... and then gives us... confidence in their message... in part, about... um, Him.

That's what the whole "circularity" thing was about.

So, your chain starts at the Holy Spirit's witness, but He only reveals Himself in Scripture, and you have to appeal to Him to verify your faith in the Scriptures by which you learn about Him. Okay, I'm actually fine with that, because ultimately it is a question of faith, and "faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." (One wonders how anyone can "hope" for this unseen Holy Spirit without being "open" to Him; I mean, is it or is it not in some sense an assent of the will to the Scriptures and the attendant "hope" derived therefrom which you are on about? I digress, I suppose. One also wonders how your side avoids Gene M. Bridges' charge of fideism leveled against me, but again, I'm sure I digress.)

TF: " To put it another way, if I accepted the source for an obviously wrong reason (such as because I thought accepting Scripture's authority gave me license to commit sin), it would not invalidate the argument."

But it would if you accept it while acknowledging the simultaneous authorities who hand it on to you while then using it to discredit them, for then you've effectively discredited them altogether, and thereby discredited your own argument.

TF: "What sort of burden is that? The non-existent burden of illustration? Come on. Surely you know better than to suppose that a person has a "burden" of demonstrating how he came to know something that both parties agree is true."

I'm not so sure that I should concede that you do accept the authority, for the sake of the argument. I just pointed out your self-defeating argument for it; make me a case that I can agree gives you license to claim we both accept it.

TF: "In fact, you want to claim that I should have (or actually did?) gotten the identity of Scripture from an authoritative source other than the one I actually ultimately got it from."

You got it from the Holy Spirit through the men He chose and through the men they chose to hand it on, and so on. That's how He worked; it's how He works still.

TF: "That's one of your arguments in your attempt to demonstrate that there is some other standard out there, besides the Bible. But since you are advocating the existence of this supposed standard, the burden is on you to demonstrate it."

I have already started to do so on my own blog; for background, please visit my site and catch up. There's a lot of supplementary reading listed from scholars light-years above my pay-grade.

"Actually, the scribes made numerous errors in the process (the professedly Christian scribes actually doing a worse job of it than some of the non-Christian scribes. They were not infallible."

Oh, so you don't have infallible Scriptures? Or did you just mean that errata have no bearing on meaning, because it's the meaning that we're left to contend with, not spelling and such? Thought so.

Earlier:

TF: "The CCC also cites Scripture for the innovated doctrine of Purgatory. It's all pretext, as the Roman Catholic Church uses those texts to justify the doctrine - it did not derive it from them."

MB: "No, the Protestant refusal to accept the context and execute proper exegesis and so on causes you to view the derivation and explication as pretextual."

TF: "a) The category 'Protestant' is not helpful or really meaningful to the discussion.

It is as distinct from Catholic.

"b) Others have done apologetic work (such as debates), which have demonstrated the inability of papists to exegetically derive Purgatory from Scripture."

And I have heard and read much of the "best" and reject it for a variety of reasons, but also for historical and other reasons. You brought up Purgatory; I was showing you Scriptural citations the Church uses to show the derivation of the concept of invincible ignorance, the very thing you said we didn't do.

"c) I don't feel the need to repeat their work here."

Good. It's tiresome and irrelevant.

TF, variously: "? If its not elucidation of the supposed doctrine of invincible ignorance, then what?" and "'Isolated' reading of multiple documents 'and the rest'? Are the gaps being filled in related to a doctrine teaching that atheists can be saved while still being atheists?"

The complementary (look up the word, please) elucidation in Pius XII's teaching to which I referred exists in part here
" From the outset it should be noted that the society established by the Redeemer of the human race resembles its divine Founder, who was persecuted, calumniated and tortured by those very men whom He had undertaken to save. We do not deny, rather from a heart filled with gratitude to God We admit, that even in our turbulent times there are many who, though outside the fold of Jesus Christ, look to the Church as the only haven of salvation;"

and here:
"For We know that if all the sorrows and calamities of these stormy times, by which countless multitudes are being sorely tried, are accepted from God's hands with calm submission, they naturally lift souls above the passing things of earth those of heaven that abide forever, and arouse a certain secret thirst and intense desire for spiritual things. Thus, urged by the Holy Spirit, men are moved, and as it were, impelled to seek the kingdom of God with greater diligence; for the more they are detached from the vanities of this world and from inordinate love of temporal things, the more apt they will be to perceive the light of heavenly mysteries."

and here:
"Moreover, We trust that Our exposition of the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ will be acceptable and useful to those also who are without the fold of the Church, not only because their good will toward the Church seems to grow from day to day, but also because, while before their eyes nation rises up against nation, kingdom against kingdom, and discord is sown everywhere together with the seeds of envy and hatred, if they turn their gaze to the Church, if they contemplate her divinely-given unity - by which all men of every race are united to Christ in the bond of brotherhood - they will be forced to admire this fellowship in charity, and with the guidance and assistance of divine grace will long to share in the same union and charity."

This, unless one obstinately persists in ignoring the obvious, comports with the words of Cardinal Dulles, to wit: that those who call themselves atheists, if they worship God without using that name, and if they attempt to live according to the natural law (given by Him and only possible by His grace, I hasten to add), may be saved. And this points out the folly of your words, "as atheists," for that is not what was said and that is not what any of us argued for.

TF: "The issue of this thread is salvation of atheists who are still atheists. That's not an issue that divides Reformed believers. If it did, I would take it up with them."

No; it is made to seem that way by those wishing to twist Cdl. Dulles' words; that doesn't make it so. See above.

Furthermore, I know for a fact that this issue and the larger issue of invincible ignorance and the status of the lost souls of times past not reached with the Gospel while they were on earth, the possibility of salvation of the heathens yet unreached, and so on, do divide Reformed believers. I'll be happy to give you particular instances. I've been privy to some mighty vociferous discussions which would tend to make observers call into question quite a number of issues, not least of which is the "communion" of the debaters.

TF: "Even if I did, though, we have a way of handling those kinds of issues: appeal to the infallible Scriptures."

Quoth the man who has to go to Session and Presbytery to determine between his and his opponents' interpretation thereof. Irony fairly drips.