Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Heresy of Orthodoxy

I've been tied up with some other things over the last few days, and my intention is to respond to Nick's charge of "Deism" very carefully (because, among other things, he links to the Called to Communion article on "Ecclesial Deism," which I think is very weak because the charge is based on assumptions and not very good assumptions at that, and because Newman's theory of development is involved.)

But in the meantime, I've been reading Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger's (2010) "The Heresy of Orthodoxy" (Wheaton IL: Crossway). While this work discusses the early church in the context of what they call the "Bauer/Ehrman" thesis, it also has (I think) extraordinary implications for people like Nick and Bryan Cross, who want to sweep away any notion that Protestants can lay claim to the early church and early Christianity as their own.

Briefly, the "Bauer/Ehrman" thesis holds that "orthodox Christianity" "developed" (probably in the second century), and defeated "heresies" (which Ehrman might call "competing Christianities," i.e., doceticism, gnosticism, etc.)

Kostenberger and Kruger do several things: they note that Evangelical (and other) scholars have replied vigorously, to the point that Bauer was discredited before Ehrman (popularly) resurrected him.

Second, they also note that both Bauer and Ehrman seem to ignore the actual New Testament texts -- the fact that these are much, much earlier, and they do demonstrate "core component of Christian orthodoxy--the belief in the divinity of Jesus and worship of him as Lord and God--was not forged in the second century on the anvil of various Christians sects. Instead, such a belief dates back to the very origins of Christianity during and immediately subsequent to Jesus' earthly ministry" (65).

This is hardly "deism" or "ecclesial deism" of any kind. The authors root this high Christology, as well as "Paul's Gospel," "Liturgical Materials That Precede the New Testament" (1 Cor 15, Phil 2:6, Col 1:15-20) and even "Apostolic Authority" squarely in the context of the Old Testament covenants and "Redemptive history."

"Authority was not vested in an ecclesiastical body (as Roman Catholics hold) but in the quality of Christological confession made possible by divine revelation (see Matt. 16:13-19) (101, emphasis in original).

Throughout, both the early Christian community and the canon of the New Testament are rooted, early and often, within the structure of God's covenants with Israel. "Canon, therefore, is the inevitable result of covenant." (112)
"written texts [the NT documents] were the central manner in which God testified to the terms of his covenant relationships within ancient Israel, and thus would be the expected means of communication in the context of the new covenant. As soon as early Christians recognized that God's redemptive acts in Jesus Christ were the beginnings of the new covenant--and they recognized this very early--then they naturally would have anticipated written documents to follow that testified to the terms of the covenant. (see Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, 2 Cor 3:6, 14, Heb 7:22, 8:6) (113, emphasis in original).
I'm not finished with this work yet, but my sense is that this study is a kind of manifesto along the lines of Machen's "Liberalism and Christianity." It is short, thorough, well-argued, and thick with the kind of historical and exegetical detail that is lacking in the sweeping generalities of people like Nick, Bryan Cross, and John Henry Newman. And it provides the foundational kind of (covenantal) structure, across the New Testament and the period of the Apostolic Fathers that will give Protestants an effective and biblical way to understand the "developments" of this whole period of time.

That New Testament scholars of the caliber of Kostenberger are turning their sights on these aspects of the history of the earliest church -- including this period of the Apostolic Fathers -- is just thrilling to me. This work is only the beginning; I trust that we will see more. I don't think I can recommend this work highly enough.

40 comments:

Lvka said...

The NT was the collection of books attributed to the Apostles that the Orthodox acknowledged. Other sects recognized other sets of books and traditions as being truly Apostolic in nature, while at the same time denying the Orthodox canon. [See the 'Nag Hammadi library', for instance].

So your observation fails.

Nick said...

I think the Catholic "presumption" can be summed up in the notion that the Magisterium is indefectible (it cannot fall away).

Based on this, Catholics would very much find it reasonable to see a historical presences from the earliest post-Apostolic times of true Christians and Church leadership.

On the flip side, this is *precisely* why you wont find Protestants today saying this or that Church Father was a real "Christian" (at least not in any capacity comparable to today's Christians). Protestantism operates on the assumption the Church visible did fall into severe apostasy, and only (if that) the Church invisible remained in the form of no-name believers scattered about with Ecumenical Councils and such representing apostate "Christendom".

On a side note: when someone goes as far as making the term "heresy" a totally relative term ("competing Christianities"), then there really is no gospel to fall away from. The alternative is a magisterium who can define heresy in the first place.

The charge of "ecclesial deism" remains in your case, if you're suggesting the truth was given in the OT/NT periods but then God left men to fend for themself after the Apostles.

So, in the end, it comes down to tracing genuine Christians throughout the centuries. If none exist, especially in the early Church, then the Protestant case is true (despite facing the ramifications). If genuine Christians did exist in the early Church, then Protestantism is refuted.

I've given this challenge for years to various Protestants, but none has been able to rise to the occasion:
Name THREE Early Church Fathers (after the time of the Apostles) you consider genuine Christians.

The typical Protestant answer is "there were none", yet they will reply by saying neither were they "Catholic" - but, regardless, the result and response amounts to a form of deism.

John Bugay said...

Nick -- your statement about an indefectible Magisterium is just an assertion on your part, and a make-believe assertion at that.

"On the flip side," what you say -- Protestantism operates on the assumption the Church visible did fall into severe apostasy -- is clearly not true, and I explained this:

http://beggarsallreformation.blogspot.com/2010/06/answers-for-dozie.html

Don't come here and make unproven, unwarranted assertions.

As I stated, "Even Newman 'concede[s] … that there are to be found, during the 1800 years through which it has lasted, certain apparent inconsistencies and alterations in its doctrine and its worship, such as irresistibly attract the attention of all who inquire into it.'"

So yes, I am willing to state -- and defend -- that the Roman Catholic Church fell into severe apostasy.

But the vast history of the church requires far more nuance than you seem willing to acknowledge here. As I noted in the main post you are fond of making "sweeping generalities" and then not supporting or defending them in the least. Here is another one.

The charge of "ecclesial deism" remains in your case, if you're suggesting the truth was given in the OT/NT periods but then God left men to fend for themself after the Apostles.

I've said many times that God did not leave anyone to "fend for themselves". Note again what the WCF says, for example:

CHAPTER III. Of God's Eternal Decree. I. God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.


Name THREE Early Church Fathers (after the time of the Apostles) you consider genuine Christians.

Clement, Ignatius, and Papias.

What is your next sweeping generality of a challenge, not to be based on any facts of any kind?

By the way, stating that they were genuine Christians in no way implies the existence of an indefectible Magisterium. If you want to say there was one, you have to prove it.


The typical Protestant answer is "there were none"

Name three typical Protestants who say this.


Newman, at least, makes the historical concession of "inconsistencies and alterations." His explanation is wrong. But it is the explanation of these inconsistencies and alterations that will be the discussion of this book and what I write about it.

John Bugay said...

Lkva, buddy, you and I are saying the same thing again -- the authors provide a compelling case that there was not only a need for a New Testament canon, but that there was an early and orthodox New Testament canon, not necessarily "fixed" at the time of the Apostles, but definitely in evidence. And that it was recognized and observed early on by those who held to orthodox Christianity (the core beliefs of which I provided above).

dtking said...

The typical Protestant answer is "there were none"

Name three typical Protestants who say this.


Indeed John, this is why we tend to ignore Romanists who masquerade under the title of "catholics." They make stupid statements and then demand proof from us for their stupidity.

Yes, we do profess, contrary to the lie of this Romanist, that the ECFs were catholic. What the Romanist doesn't understand, and indeed cannot begin to grasp, is that the ECFs were not Romanists. And given the dogmas peculiar to Rome, the Romanist has no rightful claim to the title of "catholic." For a Romanist, all his alleged "catholicity" is found within the communion of Rome which arrogates to itself the right to dictate to the church catholic, contrary to the Scriptures and church history.

But make no mistake, there is nothing "catholic" about a Romanist.

John Bugay said...

Hi David -- And given the dogmas peculiar to Rome, the Romanist has no rightful claim to the title of "catholic."

You are absolutely right about this. At some point down the road, my hope is to address the concept of "early catholicism" in the church. Even though Kostenberger and Kruger talk about these things in the context of Bauer/Ehrman, they say the precise things, I think, that need to be said, from a covenantal and historical perspective.

Also, are you familiar with the Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett volumes "Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers" (2005) and "Trajectories through the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers" (2007)?

louis said...

Those books are on my reading list. I take it you recommend them?

John Bugay said...

Louis, I want to get them, and was asking for DTK's recommendation. Some of these books are so expensive these days!

Constantine said...

David notes:

Yes, we do profess, contrary to the lie of this Romanist, that the ECFs were catholic. What the Romanist doesn't understand, and indeed cannot begin to grasp, is that the ECFs were not Romanists.

Amen. And at the risk of introducing an incendiary source, I love the fact that Hans Kueng notes that the very term “Roman Catholic” is an oxymoron, because you cannot have a particual universal!

John,

More great stuff from Kostenberger. Your use of him reminds of Meredith Kline’s “The Structure of Biblical Authority”. Do you know it?

Peace.

John Bugay said...

Constantine -- The authors rely on Kline pretty significantly.

Nick said...

John B,

My comments about indefectibility were not to prove indefectibility, but to show where each of us starts off.

After reading your link about your denial that the Church Visible fell away into apostasy, here are my comments:
(1) Your “Newmanesque” comment was a direct rejection of the notion of indefectibility.
(2) You expressly deny the notion the early Church was "teaching in its substance, the very religion which Christ and His Apostles taught” - which is at least an implicit claim for apostasy.
(3) You said: "The doctrine of Grace is only one doctrine that became corrupted, and that, within just a few hundred years of the Apostles." If the doctrine of grace was lost/corrupted, then that's apostasy by definition, even if you wont come out and say it.

And right on cue, you couldn't (wouldn't) identify any Fathers or Councils you considered genuine "Christian" in your response here or the link you gave - which is, as I've maintained, an extension of the notion the Church Visible fell into apostasy.

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

Pastor David,

You said: "Name three typical Protestants who say this."

They've been mostly no name folks online and in real life. But as of now, I'd add John Bugay to that list, based on your response here I'd add you, and I'd bet folks like James White would concede "there were none" as well.

And the thing is, as soon as you name 3 such Fathers you consider genuine Christians (and stick by that), you're on the road to Rome. Your career as a Protestant would be toast at that point, since I don't believe the burden can be met.

That's why I've said Protestantism doesn't believe there were, since it fits right along with their theory the Church Visible fell into apostasy.

Your response was totally predicted by the last paragraph of my original post.

John Bugay said...

Nick -- My comments about indefectibility were not to prove indefectibility, but to show where each of us starts off.

I don't deny that the one true church won't fail; but I do deny (a) that Roman Catholic Church is the one true church, and (b) that "indefectibility" implies some kind of doctrinal infallibility.

(2) You expressly deny the notion the early Church was "teaching in its substance, the very religion which Christ and His Apostles taught” - which is at least an implicit claim for apostasy.

See above: the authors do demonstrate "core component of Christian orthodoxy--the belief in the divinity of Jesus and worship of him as Lord and God--was not forged in the second century on the anvil of various Christians sects. Instead, such a belief dates back to the very origins of Christianity during and immediately subsequent to Jesus' earthly ministry" (65).

What you haven't done is to show that, if the current Roman church does teach this "core orthodoxy," then you haven't demonstrated that all of the other stuff that Rome teaches is somehow to be included in the "core component of Christian orthodoxy." You are again assuming that it is. Which it isn't.

If the doctrine of grace was lost/corrupted, then that's apostasy by definition, even if you wont come out and say it.

No, it's not apostasy by definition. There had been no "definition" other than Grace as Paul taught it. T.F. Torrance provided a clear exegetical study that Didache, 1 Clement, Barnabas, and others in the early church lost the definition of Grace. I'll provide this for you if you're interested. You continue to read Roman Catholic categories back into the early church. Its anachronistic, and no other discipline would permit such anachronisms. But Rome claims such "special pleading" for itself, because if it had to respond competently in this world, it couldn't do it.

And right on cue, you couldn't (wouldn't) identify any Fathers or Councils you considered genuine "Christian" in your response here or the link you gave - which is, as I've maintained, an extension of the notion the Church Visible fell into apostasy.

I named three instantly. You're just not reading.

But as of now, I'd add John Bugay to that list, based on your response here I'd add you, and I'd bet folks like James White would concede "there were none" as well.

You're still not reading, and you're still just making assumptions. You really have no idea what you're talking about.

Nick said...

John B,

I will start off apologizing about your claim you didn't give three Fathers. I genuinely and accidentally missed the rest of your post while in the midst of reading your dozie link and other comments on here.

You honestly and plainly asnwered my original question listing these three: Clement, Ignatius, and Papias.
Again, I apologize for accidentlly not reading the second half of your post.

As for the authors "demonstrating" the "core component of Christian orthodoxy" was present from the start, at most that means that Christ's Divinity is all there is to the Gospel. Further, just what Christ's Divinity meant/entailed was something Christians had to meditate and think long and hard about. Hindsight is 20/20.

Worse yet, if this "core concept" is all there is to "Christian orthodoxy," then the Catholic Church is at least equal to any Protestant denomination, since we all affirm this. But Luther wouldn't go with that, nor would most Protestants.

You said: "No, it's not apostasy by definition. There had been no "definition" other than Grace as Paul taught it. T.F. Torrance provided a clear exegetical study that Didache, 1 Clement, Barnabas, and others in the early church lost the definition of Grace."

The *ONLY* way your argument works is if the correct understanding of grace were non essential to the Gospel/Salvation/Orthodoxy. Right here, you're adamant the doctrine of grace was lost from the earliest "Christian" writings! James White and others deny Catholics the title of "Christian" precisely because we hold a heterodox view of grace, thus at least for people like him, that's a very serious case of apostasy.

Your repeated quoting of the WCF in regards to deism is not properly directed. Sure God ordains whatever comes to pass, but this is in regards to creation in general. It says nothing about preserving His Church. The Church is still basically left on it's own, hence my repeated clarification of "a form of" deism, ecclesial deism.

Nick said...

John B,

Why are Clement, Ignatius, and Papias considered "genuine Christian" in such a way that would exclude Catholics and/or make them "Protestant" rather than "Catholic"???

(You believe Clement of Rome lost the true meaning of grace, so I assume you mean Clement of Alexandria.)

It is my firm belief that any Father/Council you name will not only be perfectly compatible with the Catholic position, but that they will most closely fit the Catholic position, even to the point they teach things considered "heresy" by Protestantism.

Turretinfan said...

"It is my firm belief that any Father/Council you name will not only be perfectly compatible with the Catholic position, but that they will most closely fit the Catholic position, even to the point they teach things considered "heresy" by Protestantism."

What does fitting closely have to do with your religion? Are you allowed to believe most of what your church teaches, but discard what you don't like?

And how do you measure closeness? If they accept the practice of monasticism but affirm the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is that closer to us or you?

-TurretinFan

dtking said...

They've been mostly no name folks online and in real life. But as of now, I'd add John Bugay to that list, based on your response here I'd add you, and I'd bet folks like James White would concede "there were none" as well.

Well, I'll not answer for your lies. But I am thankful for this response in this sense, in that it demonstrates how the Romanist is willing to lie about what Protestants believe, and/or assume a lie even when he has no evidence for his claim.

Again, when one engages Romanists of this stripe, it is no wonder why we yield them no serious consideration.

Nick said...

TF,

You asked: "What does fitting closely have to do with your religion?"

I mean the Father need not speak with a full blown understanding or use of theological terms such as we speak with today. In other words Catholic concepts can be affirmed without using identical language all the time. I wouldn't expect a pre-nicene father to use terms like Transubstantiation or Homoousios yet they can describe Holy Communion or Christ's Divinity in a way compatible to this. This has nothing to do with only believing "some" of the truth/gospel.

You asked: "And how do you measure closeness? If they accept the practice of monasticism but affirm the doctrine of Sola Scriptura, is that closer to us or you?"

That's a good question and needs to be taken on a case by case basis. I don't believe any of them would believe Sola Scriptura, but affirming a material sufficiency of Scripture would be perfectly compatible with Catholicism, so along with monasticism, I'd say they certainly are more "Catholic" than they are "Protestant." It's really about viewing the Father/Council as a whole, rather than focusing on a single doctrine. And if the doctrine of grace was lost, as John B is contending, then that's a serious blow when it comes to Fathers being assigned as more "Protestant" than "Catholic".

The issue is whether a father can be categorized as a genuine "Christian" testimony for each side.

If you can, please list 3 ECFathers you consider genuine Christians after the Apostolic age.

Nick said...

Pastor King,

I clarified, corrected, and apologized for the honest mistake I made, so that's moot at this point. I am willing and have immediately corrected and apologized for manifest errors I've made, so you have no grounds to write me off as disingenuous or liar.

Your claim that "I'll not answer for your lies" is simply going to be taken by me as a non-answer. For me to say I don't believe you'd answer a question isn't a "lie" or "assumed lie." It's a doubt that can either be further confirmed or overturned.

I still haven't seen you rise to the challenge, but I'm not holding my breath that you will.

Also, I'm awaiting John's clarification on which Clement he's speaking of and why his 3 are genuine Christians in a way that excludes Catholics from the title.

John Bugay said...

Nick -- I appreciate your apology -- but as dtking notes, it does demonstrate how far you are willing to go -- and how quickly -- not to state fairly and honestly what Protestants believe.

at most that means that Christ's Divinity is all there is to the Gospel.

When Paul was with the Corinthian church -- founding it, establishing it -- he was confident to write to them later, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

Now that is a fairly focused accounting of "the Gospel." Somehow we can acknowledge that's a very important component of the "core orthdoxy." Which, we can also assume, included information in all of the writings of the New Testament. But probably not much, if anything beyond those writings. Would you agree with that?

Further, just what Christ's Divinity meant/entailed was something Christians had to meditate and think long and hard about. Hindsight is 20/20.

This is not what the authors are saying. They are saying there was a "core orthodoxy" -- no doubt the actual teaching of the Apostles was very definite, and it didn't require much "further reflection" in order to "develop" properly. In fact, I would say that nothing was lacking from the Apostolic teaching. And I mean, the explicit teaching -- not some imaginary and assumed "implicit" teaching, which you are not capable of providing any evidence for, or of quantifying in any way.

Worse yet, if this "core concept" is all there is to "Christian orthodoxy," then the Catholic Church is at least equal to any Protestant denomination, since we all affirm this.

John Bugay said...

The *ONLY* way your argument works is if the correct understanding of grace were non essential to the Gospel/Salvation/Orthodoxy. Right here, you're adamant the doctrine of grace was lost from the earliest "Christian" writings!

You're reflecting your notion of "doctrine" back on what counted for doctrine in the early church. If we go back to "Christ and him crucified," it is of course important to understand the grace of God that permitted Christ to be born as a man and to be crucified for the sins of "his people."

Torrance's study of Grace in the New Testament speaks of the "initiative in the divine love [that] completely takes man by surprise. God is among men with redemptive purpose before they are aware of it." As well, "the Gospel as Christ proclaims it is directed to the very folk who, it might appear, have the least right to expect it." (23)

This is the Grace of God that Jesus and Paul preached.

Fast forward 70 or 50 years into the future. What did Clement say? "Clement is unable to ascribe saving significance to Christ himself." How's that? "Clement substitutes for the New Testament doctrine of [free] sonship [by adoption], the bare idea of subjection before God.

In fact, Clement holds to a very "Roman" notion of "grace" -- God initiates us in the true relation to God. But "in the last resort, Clement is uable to acribe saving significance to Christ himself." You gotta work for it.

But that "doctrine" of Clement's has nothing to do with the actuality of God's saving gift (a la Paul) to those he would save freely, and "to the uttermost," any of those who come to God through Him. God is not bound by Clement's faulty understanding of His own Grace.

This doesn't make Clement "not a Christian." But it does indicate, not some kind of "development," but rather, a retrogression, from Jesus's and Paul's conception of Grace, to a form of legalism.

John Bugay said...

Why are Clement, Ignatius, and Papias considered "genuine Christian" in such a way that would exclude Catholics and/or make them "Protestant" rather than "Catholic"???

I would be very permissive to say that anyone who names the name of Christ is a Christian.

This would not make anyone from that era "Protestant." But what I would say is, as I said earlier, as Newman suggested in pointing out differences in their beliefs, that there wasn't necessarily either doctrinal or administrative unity.

(You believe Clement of Rome lost the true meaning of grace, so I assume you mean Clement of Alexandria.)

I've discussed Clement of Rome above. And I did mean Clement of Rome

It is my firm belief that any Father/Council you name will not only be perfectly compatible with the Catholic position, but that they will most closely fit the Catholic position, even to the point they teach things considered "heresy" by Protestantism.

The whole character of the church changed after Constantine.

But nevertheless, Nicea only attributed a regional kind of authority to Rome, and it attributed a similar, and one might say an equivalent kind of authority, to Alexandria. This is NOT "perfectly compatible with the Catholic position."

As well, Constantinople (381) and Chalcedon (451) both attributed whatever leadership Rome had to its position as the political capital of the empire.

So your "firm belief" here is significantly challenged.

How about this from Canon 1: But if with the passage of time some sin of sensuality is discovered with regard to the person and he is convicted by two or three witnesses, such a one will be suspended from the clergy. If anyone contravenes these regulations, he will be liable to forfeit his clerical status for acting in defiance of this great synod.

Why has there been, in recent years, such a resistance to “suspend from the clergy” the priests accused of sexual abuse. But why do not the bishops who protect the priests "forfeit the[ir] clerical status" for contravening “these regulations” and hiding said abusive priests?

Canon 10 seems to cancel out the "succession" of the entire middle ages: If any have been promoted to ordination through the ignorance of their promoters or even with their connivance, this fact does not prejudice the church's canon; for once discovered they are to be deposed.

I suspect one could go on and on in this vein.

John Bugay said...

I suppose I should qualify this statement of mine: I would be very permissive to say that anyone who names the name of Christ is a Christian.

We are obviously talking about New Testament times and the sub-apostolic era. Kostenberger and Kruger point to errors that develop later during the Apostolic period. And obviously Paul faced adversaries who called themselves Christian in some way.

I'm thinking of verses such as Acts 16:31 -- "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household." And Romans 10:10 -- "if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

God, of course, is the final judge of whether a person is being honest with that.

Nick said...

John B,

I'd say Christ's death falls more into the doctrine of grace, which you said was lost. Virtually every heretic throughout history believed Jesus died for men...but held different understandings and meanings for that - all having critical ramifications on the doctrines of grace.

If you don't think the further reflection/development was critical to the Gospel, then you'd be part of the Protestants who hold to very broad (some would say watered down) parameters of orthodoxy, since virtually all agree to an unqualified "Jesus is Lord" (even JWs and Mormons).

You said Clement false understanding of grace "doesn't make Clement "not a Christian."" Well, that's your personal take then, since Catholics are not Christian (as White and others say) precisely because our view of grace is akin to Clement's. How can someone deny the sufficiency of Christ, as Clement did, and be an early testimony of a genuine regenerate Christian?

This is the very problem I've been explaining from the start.

And when you go onto explain why you consider them "genuine Christians," it seems you simply look for an appearance of honest affirmation of Christ and not much beyond that. And this is how you say Clement can reject the Gospel of grace and yet still be a Christian.

You said: "The whole character of the church changed after Constantine."

I'd say it depends on what you mean by "character". If you mean a more or less apostate Christendom arose as the Church Visible, I'd deny that and call that an invention of Adventism. If you mean Christendom became more public and "open" to every day life, I'd say that's fine.

As for the issue of Nicea and Rome, I'd point you to the article I posted on the other combox that shows the only logical reading of that is Papal Primacy.

The way you've categorized Clement and the others as Christians, I doubt Pastor King or Swan would be as open to that idea.

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Bugay said...

You said Clement false understanding of grace "doesn't make Clement "not a Christian."" Well, that's your personal take then, since Catholics are not Christian (as White and others say) precisely because our view of grace is akin to Clement's. How can someone deny the sufficiency of Christ, as Clement did, and be an early testimony of a genuine regenerate Christian?

While I am very generous with the people, (since none of us ever could know Clement personally), I'd be willing to attribute his lack of understanding to something less than sinister.

But I am firmly in lockstep with James White, DTKing, and others who attribute current Roman Catholic teaching firmly to hell.

This seems to be a distinction that has not yet occurred to you.

Nick said...

John,

Don't take this the wrong way, but I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself kicked off the Beggar's All team after this. I've followed this blog long enough to hear and see most if not all of the "team" members say Catholics are not Christian precisely and primarily due to our "denial" of the doctrines of grace.

John Bugay said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but I wouldn't be surprised if you find yourself kicked off the Beggar's All team after this.

You are such a shallow thinker. You don't have any idea what we have been talking about here all day.

Nick said...

Whether someone like Clement (or any Catholic) is saved due to trusting in Christ but making an ignorant mistake on grace is not what I'm getting at since that is a matter of knowing the heart. My point about inquiring about the 3 Fathers you consider Christian was is such a person a public testimony of a genuine Christian. Someone holding to an obvious heresy is not such a testimony.

From White's and King's perspective, if a guy like Clement was saved, it was in spite of his overt/public denial of the doctrines of grace, and otherwise is a terrible testimony for the Gospel and genuine Christian.

John Bugay said...

And if you are to be saved, it would be totally because of God's grace, and totally in spite of the Roman Catholic doctrines you believe. (And if you continue to hawk those doctrines, I'll have less and less confidence in any possible salvation for you).

And if Clement was "saved," it was only because of God's grace -- which would have come to him because of faith in Christ -- and not for any other reason.

EBW said...

Mr. Bugay,
Please don't regard my questions as an attack on your faith in God as laid out in holy scrpt. I think "Ecclesial Deism" arguments have damaging implications for Catholic Ecumenism.

If Authority is vest in the quality of Christological confession made possible by divine revelation, then do you have authority (including Apostolic)?

If Authority doesn't follow, then what about your confession?

What relation would this have to any baptized Christian?

John Bugay said...

By the way, in response to Nick, who said:

Your repeated quoting of the WCF in regards to deism is not properly directed. Sure God ordains whatever comes to pass, but this is in regards to creation in general. It says nothing about preserving His Church. The Church is still basically left on it's own, hence my repeated clarification of "a form of" deism, ecclesial deism.

You are trying to say that God ordains what comes to pass in regard to creation in general, but that the WCF does not have anything to do with what comes to pass with regard to the church?

Why in the world would the Westminster Assembly think this? Is not "the church" a subset of "whatsoever comes to pass"?

I didn't quote the whole thing. This also is contained within "God's eternal decree":

As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath he, by the eternal and most free purpose of his will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore they who are elected being fallen in Adam are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by his Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by his power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

This can only refer to "the church".

Nick said...

John B,

You said: "Why in the world would the Westminster Assembly think this? Is not "the church" a subset of "whatsoever comes to pass"?"

You're misunderstanding my point. God is Providentially guiding everything in the universe, including the church, but the language is about Providence in general, not a special protection of the Church. God is right now Providentially guiding all sorts of corrupt and twisted religious institutions (including even Protestant denominations), yet this Providence doesn't include any sort of protection, merely allowing/ordaining whatever comes to pass in them just as with anything else. So the Providence the WCF is speaking of doesn't include any special protection for the Church, guiding it through the storms of life but rather allowing/ordaining whatever befalls it. It does for elect individuals, but that's the Church Invisible not Visible/Institutional.

John Bugay said...

God is not only "providentially guiding" the church. You seem to think this is some kind of accidental result. He has decreed it, and is continuing to effect his will, in all things, each and every day.

John Bugay said...

EBW -- If Authority is vest in the quality of Christological confession made possible by divine revelation, then do you have authority (including Apostolic)?

You can't confuse apostolic authority with other kinds of authority.

David Waltz said...

Hello John,

Late yesterday afternoon, I finally received The Heresy of Orthodoxy in the mail. I polished off “Part 1” (The Heresy of Orthodoxy) last night and plan on reading “Part 2” Saturday.

Anyway, wanted to get ‘caught-up’ on this thread, and while reading came across the following that you wrote:

>>But I am firmly in lockstep with James White, DTKing, and others who attribute current Roman Catholic teaching firmly to hell.>>

Me: Interesting…if “current Roman Catholic teaching” is to be attributed “firmly to hell”, then I would say that consistency would lead you to pretty much place the vast majority of Christian thought on soteriology from 100 AD to 1517 into the same category. My thread on Matthew Heckel’s critique of R.C. Sproul (who as you probably know is also in “am firmly in lockstep with James White, DTKing, and others who attribute current Roman Catholic teaching firmly to hell”) is quite revealing (IMO).

Further, more than a few of the brightest Reformed minds, are at odds with “James White, DTKing, and others who attribute current Roman Catholic teaching firmly to hell”. I recommend the following threads for ‘the other side’:

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2009/12/steve-hays-and-jason-engwer-vs-dr.html

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2009/11/catholic-affirmationunderstanding-of.html

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2009/10/james-white-hes-not-really-like-pope-so.html

http://articulifidei.blogspot.com/2009/08/justification-historical-theology-and.html

Grace and peace,

David

P.S. I think you may be interested in my last response to you…HERE.

CD-Host said...

Hi John --

Hoping you still get comments from this older blog. I'm reading your debate from 2010 on CtC and I followed you here to this link. I agree with your basic point that this approach to history is compatible with Reformed theology. But... there are problems with accuracy let me jump in on a sample point:

Second, they also note that both Bauer and Ehrman seem to ignore the actual New Testament texts -- the fact that these are much, much earlier, and they do demonstrate "core component of Christian orthodoxy--the belief in the divinity of Jesus and worship of him as Lord and God

And here I would have to disagree, though I suspect I'm disagreeing with Kostenberger and not you. I think Kostenberger is stretching the point in saying that the New Testament identifies Jesus as God unequivocally (as shown by the Arianist movement). But, what's really key is those were not the areas of debate. The heretics we know of, with the possible exception of the Ebionites.

Ehrman made his reputation with The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture which is precisely about the fact that the deviations we see in scripture imply earlier beliefs in 1) adoptionism, 2) separationism, 3) doceticism, and 4) Patripassianism. In other words in the 3rd century (and possibly the 2nd century) those positions must have existed and been threatening enough to warrant changes to the text of scripture which were defensive. None of those theories contradicts the "core component of Christian Orthodoxy". I'm not sure what Kostenberger thinks the Christian heretics believes but with only a few small exceptions they accepted Jesus as a divine being, worthy of worship and were comfortable with the New Testament texts.

John Bugay said...

Hi CD-Host; I haven't revisited this work in some time, but I don't believe Kostenberger is far off in saying that. Larry Hurtado's "Lord Jesus Christ" presents a great deal of documentation for the notion that there was "an explosion" of Jesus-worship in the 30's-50's (for example), in spite of the Jewish monotheism which would militate against it, and the Greek paganism, which wasn't keen on that kind of exclusivism.

You may want to have a look at this Michael Kruger article, which notes that among all the "gospels" that Bauer and Ehrman cited, only the New Testament gospels were dated from the first century.

CD-Host said...

Larry Hurtado's "Lord Jesus Christ" presents a great deal of documentation for the notion that there was "an explosion" of Jesus-worship in the 30's-50's (for example), in spite of the Jewish monotheism which would militate against it

I think there is a couple assumptions in there like that Jews of the times would have seen Jesus worship as violating monotheism. Why wouldn't they have seen angel worship as violating monotheism? Why wouldn't they have seen Sophia worship as violating monotheism? Why wouldn't they have seen Logos movements as violating monotheism? Why wouldn't they have seen Melchizedek worship as violating monotheism? Because all those things were happening too.

My point is that Jesus worship is completely irrelevant. Bauer and Ehrman never question that there was an active Jesus worshipping movement in the first century and that Christianity emerged partially or fully from them. That's not a point in dispute with them. Proving this doesn't move you one inch closer to disproving anything that Bauer or Ehrman argued for.

And that's a serious problem with Kostenberger in not seeming to understand and/or misrepresenting the argument he's decided to refute.