Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Turretinfan Puts Holes in the Argumentation of Roman Catholics and Bryan Cross’ article at “Called to Communion”. (Part 1)



The link to the Roman Catholic article at Called to Communion:
http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/#comment-5362
The article is a whopping 46 pages (12 pt. font) with almost 100 footnotes. The comment box is up to 458, as I write this. The article is a critique of Keith Mathison’s book, The Shape of Sola Scriptura. The Roman Catholics are trying to show that Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura are ultimately the same in principle and that Solo naturally flows out of Sola and increases from it, based on its primary principle as history keeps moving along. The article is heavy on philosophy. We are all still waiting for Keith Mathison’s response.
A Summary of the difference between Sola and Solo:

Sola Scriptura: The Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith; that historical Protestants have followed, those who also believe in secondary authorities such as local church leadership and denominational structures (like Presbyterian sessions and Presbyteries), church counsels, creeds, doctrinal statements)
Solo Scriptura = “me and my Bible in the woods”; modern Evangelicals); no counsels or creeds and constant splitting when an individual disagrees with church leadership and their interpretation.
Tim Troutman, another Roman Catholic at CTC, wrote in the combox, at post 452:
No one has been able to refute this yet and there haven’t been many legitimate attempts.
Turretinfan did answer in depth the main issues of this article. It seems to me that these two posts are indeed a refutation of the article, but Tim (and the other RCs) just keep basically saying, “no one has refuted this”. Turretinfan put enough holes in the argumentation to suffice for now.
http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/12/response-to-bryan-cross-at-called-to.html
http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/2009/12/visualizing-flow-of-communication-and.html
I especially appreciate Turretfan’s analysis of the concept of natural necessity to the world of ideas. Ideas do not naturally come from other ideas like living, organic matter grows. Ideas are not biological life; they are not organic matter like seeds, eggs, acorns, trees, embryos, plants, animals, or humans. They do not have “natural necessity”. Humans can develop ideas any direction they want (under God’s Sovereignty) and react and respond in opposite ways to some ideas. So, the “acorn to oak tree” argument fails; Solo Scriptura did not come out of Sola Scriptura as a natural necessity. What also fails is John Henry Cardinal Newman’s particular form of the doctrine of development theory of how Rome in particular developed its own doctrines and dogmas.
The “natural necessity of ideas” of Bryan Cross and other Roman Catholics at Called to Communion sounds like something I heard Al Gore say when he was running for President: “The Constitution is a living, breathing document.” (I don’t know if he originally came up with that. Maybe he did, like his claim that he “invented the internet”.
Turretinfan wrote:
a. The Concept of Natural Necessity is Incompatible with the World of Ideas
. . .
While it is easy to speak of the nature of an acorn, it is more difficult to speak of the nature of ideas. Ideas lack, for example, interaction with the so-called laws of nature. When we speak of the nature of ideas, we are typically speaking of the definition of the idea. For example, if we say that it is in the nature of "red" that it is not blue or yellow, we are speaking essentially as to the definition of the idea.”
Ideas are not acorns or eggs, or seeds, or human embryos. So no, Solo Scriptura did not come from Sola Scriptura as a natural necessity.
Ironically, see Anthony Scalia's (A Roman Catholic Supreme Court Judge; and in my opinion the best judge of the current court; for he understands "original intent") talk about the dangers of viewing the Constitution as a "Living, Breathing Document":

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imYlSD-2mrk&NR=1

If only Roman Catholic Theologians and Popes in history had understood this principle.

End of Part 1

21 comments:

Alex said...

Actually Scalia does not follow "original intent" but "original meaning."

As to the rest of the commentary, I haven't read either arguments. I must say though that in a certain sense you (or Turretinfan) is correct that ideas are not biological life, but there is a sense that ideas, so far as they adhere to facts and are good, clear, and sound ideas, must follow of logical necessity from acorn to oak tree.

Alex said...

I should be clearer by stating that Scalia is a textualist, so intention is irrelevant to the text that was put into law and the meaning that the text carried.

Alex said...

Textualism and the original meaning of the words vs intent.

Ken said...

What is the difference between "original intent" and "original meaning"?

Can you point me to an on line article that discusses the difference and where Scalia demonstrates this?

I sincerely want to know. I was under the impression that they are the the same concepts.

steve said...

Alex said...

"I should be clearer by stating that Scalia is a textualist, so intention is irrelevant to the text that was put into law and the meaning that the text carried."

Really? Just off-hand, I recall that in his judicial options on the 2nd Amendment and sodomy laws, Scalia takes into account Colonial American laws and practices, as well as debates among the framers. What makes you think he construes the text in a historical vacuum?

Louis said...

The terms are "original intent" and "original understanding", and there is a difference. "Original intent" implies an attempt to discern the inner motivations of the legislators who wrote the law. "Original understanding" attempts to discern what the law meant for society at the time, what people understood it to mean.

It might not seem like much of a difference but it is. Original understanding, for example, requires looking more to the text and less to legislative state-of-mind, since the text and what it means on its own terms is what actually matters.

Ken said...

Sound hermeneutics and exegesis means "searching and discovering the author's intended meaning of what he wrote" - ie, the intention of what he had in mind when he wrote that document; what he wanted his hearers to get and understand."

It does not mean searching for "inner motivations" - seems to suggest that these are secret and apart from the final words chosen and historical context and historical background.

Alex said...

Louis, I used "original meaning" because that is also the way in which Edwin Meese and Steve Calabresi reference it along with "original understanding."

Basically what Louis had stated is somewhat true, but it also goes much further than that. I don't have the time to get into it right now.

Alex said...

Ken, what it comes down to is that in Scalia's mind the text is what was passed into law, and as a good textualist you look strictly at the text and what those words chosen meant at the time that the text was inacted into law. More later.

Principium Unitatis said...

Ken,

Do you believe that the actions of Margaret Sanger (in her eugenics efforts) were not the outworking of her philosophical Darwinism? Do you believe that the actions of the Nazis in WWII were not the outworking of their Nazi ideology? Do you think the actions of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had nothing to do with their worldview? Do you think the actions of the 911 hijackers were not the natural outworkings of their ideology? Do you think that this advertisement has nothing to do with David Hume's philosophy?

We ordinarily act according to the way we think. Our actions follow our thoughts. That is why false philosophies are so dangerous. See Ben Wiker's book Architects of the Culture of Death, and David Breese's book Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Moody Press). See also Richard Weaver's classic Ideas Have Consequences.

This notion that philosophies don't have consequences in the world is itself a false and dangerous philosophy. If the 'refutation' of our article amounts to denying that philosophies have consequences, or that there is any necessary connection between philosophies and the actions of persons holding those philosophies, then not only is our argument unrefuted, you've placed yourself in an indefensible and unenviable position, one that is self-evidently false to anyone who has studied the relation of philosophy to history.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Louis said...

Ken,

Perhaps "inner motivations" was a poor word choice, but my point remains. The problem with discerning the author's intent when it comes to law, is that there are multiple authors with multiple intents. Whose original intent matters? The legislator who proposed the bill? The committee who debated and recommended it? The House, Senate? The intentions of the various legislators can conflict, even though they all agree on the bill. Trust me, I write legislation for a living. It's not as simple as you might think.

So, the final words chosen represent a variety of interests, and "original understanding" says they have to stand on their own. That doesn't mean that context doesn't matter, but there is a difference between intent and understanding.

Alex is also correct, as I recall, about Scalia's method. There are nuances to these things.

Louis said...

Bryan,

Ideas having consequences and ideas evolving into other ideas are two different things. Also, even on the former, there is a difference between consistent consequences and necessary consequences.

Principium Unitatis said...

Louis,

Ideas having consequences and ideas evolving into other ideas are two different things.

Our article never claims that one idea evolves into another. Rather, one idea more fully and clearly manifests its true nature over time.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Louis said...

Bryan, have you written a detailed response to TF?

Edward Reiss said...

"This notion that philosophies don't have consequences in the world is itself a false and dangerous philosophy. If the 'refutation' of our article amounts to denying that philosophies have consequences, or that there is any necessary connection between philosophies and the actions of persons holding those philosophies, then not only is our argument unrefuted, you've placed yourself in an indefensible and unenviable position, one that is self-evidently false to anyone who has studied the relation of philosophy to history."

It does not seem to me that the argument is that philosophies do not have consequences. Rather, it is that there is no necessary causation between a philosophy and what one does, or what one's future philosophy is.

For instance, I do not think it is accurate to say that the US Constitution is a *necessary* working out of the Glorious revolution even though there is considerable overlap between the ideals of the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. We can see it is not necessary because Canada has a different political system than we do, one in which the monarch is the head of state, and yet is even more a child of Britain than we are. By the same token, one can see where the ideals of the American revolution could be inspired by the Glorious Revolution. That is not causation or necessity, though. (I think Turretinfan's argument is very subtile and very good, FWIW).

Now, back to "sola" vs. "solo". There is no necessary causation between e.g. Lutheran Sola Scriptura and the "me and my Bible in the woods" argument. In fact, they are different ways of approaching Scripture alltogether. A reading of the Book of Concord would show this to be true. We can see this because, just as with the Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution, not everyone starts with "Sola Scriptura" and then elects himself sole interpreter. And I would think you would have to explain why that is for your point to be correct. The way I see it, you would have to say that you, and not Lutherans (for example), understand what Lutherans mean by Sola Scriptura. That is doable, but very, very difficult.

Edward Reiss said...

"Our article never claims that one idea evolves into another. Rather, one idea more fully and clearly manifests its true nature over time."

Then until time ends, no idea is really manifested.

L P said...

Ideas do have consequences. But a consequence does not always follow from an attributed cause.

Logically we can prove that the conjecture that "solo" follows from "sola" (assumes "sola" is the source) is flawed.

I provide a few cases:
1.) Let us say A implies B, i.e. A->B. Say you have a B, but you cannot conclude you have an A. This is fallacy to do so. Why? Because there could be other forces that can lead to B, for example it may also be the case that C->B. Simply having a B, will not determine which source it came from.

2.) Causation of this kind happens on individuals, it is the person that is the subject of such causation and when all factors are taken together do not lead to the expected or supposed conclusion.

3.) Confessional Lutheranism (CL)is an example where it is false to conclude "solo Scriptura" is the outgrowth of "sola Scriptura". CL up to now deny "solo Scriptura" and affirm that they are not the same as "sola Scriptura".

LPC

Ken said...

Hi Bryan,
Thanks for that post! Yes, of course, ideas have consequences and actions and reactions. Those examples you gave here were actions that resulted from a philosophy, so yes, I would agree with you.

Your article seemed to be claiming that a philosophy (Solo) evolves naturally (like a seed or acorn or embryo) as a necessary consequence of a prior philosophy or doctrine (Sola). You were claiming Solo evolved naturally and necessarily out of Sola, rather than actions resulting from Sola.

R. C. Sproul also has a book called The consequences of Ideas.

Ken said...

LP - good - yes, there are other added factors that contributed to Solo. Turretinfan mentions some of them - that is coming in Part 2!

Ken said...

In the combox, # 441 - Bryan Cross responded to Turretinfan's excellent questioning and it is here where you (Bryan) became more explicit in your "organic natural necessity" of ideas argument.

Bryan wrote:

. . .
One of those other kinds of necessity is called ‘natural necessity’ (necessitas naturalis). For example, that an acorn becomes an oak tree is not a logical necessity, but it is a natural necessity, even though many contingencies could prevent this particular acorn from becoming an oak tree. Given the ordinary conditions, the acorn would naturally become an oak tree. That is the natural end of an acorn, given its nature, and it will necessarily move toward that end, unless other factors interfere. (In that respect, the result does not follow in just the same way a conclusion follows by necessity from premises in a deductive argument.) So likewise, the results of sola/solo (described by Mathison) follow from it over time by natural necessity, because of what it is by nature (i.e. each individual retaining ultimate interpretive authority).


Turretinfan's excellent questioning exposed this hole in your argument.

Ken said...

comment 441 at Bryan Cross' article:

http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scriptura-sola-scriptura-and-the-question-of-interpretive-authority/comment-page-9/#comment-5307