Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Newman's Doctrine of Development Rests on a Logical Fallacy

One of the best, short, sweet, simple critiques of Newman's Development of Doctrine, was crafted by Dr. William Witt, a professor at a conservative Anglican seminary, here:

http://willgwitt.org/theology/on-the-development-of-doctrine
My own reasons for not becoming Roman Catholic have not changed. It was precisely the problem of doctrinal development that I found unsatisfactory. I believe that J. B. Mozley’s The Theory of Development provides the decisive critique of [John Henry] Newman on development of doctrine. Mozley argues that Newman commits a logical fallacy of amphiboly by not distinguishing between two different kinds of development. Newman is correct that there is genuine development in the early church....the “development” of incarnational and Trinitarian doctrine that takes place at Nicea, Chalcedon, etc., is really simply the necessary logical unfolding of what is already clearly present in the New Testament. If Jesus is fully God, then he must “of the same substance” as God. If the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equally God, and yet there is only one God, then God must be three persons in one nature....

Mozley speaks of this kind of development in terms of what I will call “Development 1.” Development 1 adds nothing to the original content of faith, but rather brings out its necessary implications. Mozley says that Aquinas is doing precisely this kind of development in his discussion of the incarnation in the Summa Theologiae.

There is another kind of development, however, which I will call “Development 2.” Development 2 is genuinely new development that is not simply the necessary articulation of what is said explicitly in the Scriptures.

Classic examples of Development 2 would include the differences between the doctrine of the theotokos and the dogmas of the immaculate conception or the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the former, Marian dogma is not actually saying something about Mary, but rather something about Christ. If Jesus Christ is truly God, and Mary is his mother, then Mary is truly the Mother of God (theotokos). She gives birth, however, to Jesus’ humanity, not his eternal person, which has always existed and is generated eternally by the Father. The doctrine of the theotokos is a necessary implication of the incarnation of God in Christ, which is clearly taught in the New Testament. However, the dogmas of the immaculate conception and the assumption are not taught in Scripture, either implicitly or explicitly. They are entirely new developments.

The same would be true, of course, for the doctrine of the papacy. The New Testament says much about the role of Simon Peter as a leader of the apostles. It does not say anything explicit, however, about the bishop of Rome being the successor to Peter. The Eastern fathers, e.g., Cyprian, interpret the Petrine passages that Rome has applied to the papacy as applying to all bishops.

C.S. Lewis, also in his essay "Christian Reunion," cited this in his decision not to become a Roman Catholic: "to accept your Church means not to accept a given body of doctrine but to accept in advance any doctrine that your Church hereafter produces."

[Edited to correct the spelling of "amphiboly" and provide the link to its definition: Linguistically, an amphiboly is an ambiguity which results from ambiguous grammar, as opposed to one that results from the ambiguity of words or phrases—that is, Equivocation. The fallacy of Amphiboly occurs when a bad argument trades upon grammatical ambiguity to create an illusion of cogency. Amphibolies are often linguistic boobytraps, but less frequently do they occur in fallacious arguments.]

32 comments:

steelikat said...

Regardless of whether you are talking about our common human nature or our individual natures, my specific "Steve nature," or your specific individual "John nature" or what have you, natures are immediately created by God, they aren't given birth to, except in the metaphorical sense that the act of creation can be compared to God's "giving birth."

If you say that Mary didn't give birth to Christ but instead gave birth to his nature, you are either saying she is God or you are saying nothing at all. Or possibly you are using the term "a specific human nature" to mean what is usually meant by a specific being, a specific human person.

It is according to human nature that we come into this world through the process of gestation and birth. But it is not human nature nor even our specific individual natures that are given birth to, it is we ourselves who are given birth to.

That was a good article, though. Thanks!

John Bugay said...

Steelikat, he wasn't giving a theological treatise on "Theotokos," he was making a distinction between the two kinds of things that Newman confused as "development":

Development 1 adds nothing to the original content of faith, but rather brings out its necessary implications.

Development 2 is genuinely new development that is not simply the necessary articulation of what is said explicitly in the Scriptures.


It seems as if your name is "Steve"? If I may ask, what is your background? That is, you seem to be coming from an Anglican background (you were arguing for an early establishment of bishops a while back).

Rhology said...

steelikat,

For an answer to your challenge about the nature of Christ, see here and here.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I never heard of the fallacy "amphibole" before.

Thanks for this post.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

As I'm sure you know, Vox is somewhat confused.

Anyway, I'm sure I don't have to tell you that since Jesus really is God, both the "to be" of predication and the "to be" of identity can be used:

Predication: Jesus is God

Identity: Jesus is God and God (the 2nd person of the Trinity) is Jesus.

And praise God that that is so!

Rhology said...

Um, please explain the statement "Vox is somewhat confused". Sounds like you didn't read his articles very closely.

John Bugay said...

Truth: I never heard of the fallacy "amphibole" before.

Actually, it is spelled wrong in the initial post; it should be "amphiboly". I'm going to correct that in my post. Meanwhile, here's more info on that:

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/amphibol.html

John Bugay said...

Here's how that definition works:

Linguistically, an amphiboly is an ambiguity which results from ambiguous grammar, as opposed to one that results from the ambiguity of words or phrases—that is, Equivocation. The fallacy of Amphiboly occurs when a bad argument trades upon grammatical ambiguity to create an illusion of cogency. Amphibolies are often linguistic boobytraps, but less frequently do they occur in fallacious arguments.

I like that phrase, it "creates an illusion of cogency". That is what Roman Catholicism does -- especially as articulated by Bryan Cross: it creates an illusion of cogency." But once you look more closely at it, you come away with that response, "where's the beef?"

steelikat said...

OK, I'll confess that I'm Lutheran. That doesn't matter though.

As for the presbyter vs. bishop thing, I don't think I made point clear. If it was just a single office in the very earliest church (which seems to be the case), and you are going to identify that office with either the later bishops or the later presbyters, if you are going to CHOOSE one or the other, which choice makes the most sense?

Since the early presbyter/bishops had independent authority, they were not subordinate to anybody, and for other reasons, it makes more sense to identify them with the later bishops. If your pastor has an independent authority and your church does not have what we would call in modern parlance an episcopal structure, your pastor must be a bishop, if he is truly an ordained minister at all.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

Vox said in article one that only the "to be" of predication could be truly meant in "Jesus is God," and that fallacious conclusion is what his 2nd article was based on.

Predication: Jesus is God. Deity is predicated of God; Jesus has a divine NATURE

Identity: Jesus is God. Jesus is identical to God; Jesus is the second PERSON of the trinity.

Both "is's" are true and proper and it is the second use that is applicable in Vox's 2nd article since Moms are moms of PERSONS not NATURES. If I said that my mom was not the mother of Steve but was instead the mother of human nature, or even merely the mother of the individual Steve nature (that which makes Steve naturally different than all other men) I would be attributing divinity to her. She is the mother of the person, Steve, not the mother of his nature.

Rhology said...

Yes, both "is"s are appropriate, IF YOU TAKE CARE TO USE THEM CORRECTLY.
That's the whole point. I'm sorry you're not reading closely, but here again you're showing some unwillingness to raise objections beyond the surface level.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"IF YOU TAKE CARE TO USE THEM CORRECTLY"

Right, and Vox in article 2 does not use them correctly. He attempts to deny that Mary is the mother of God by restricting himself to the "to be" of predication--Jesus's nature, when what is at question is the "to be" of identity--the divine person Jesus.

Moms are moms of persons not "moms of" natures.

Rhology said...

Jesus Christ is a special case. The person preexists His incarnation/birth. Surely you realise that. Moms are moms of persons b/c humans persons with only a human nature actually come into existence when the sperm fertilises the egg. Jesus did not come into existence at that time; His human body/nature did. You're not making the necessary distinction. I suggest you read it again, and stop clawing around in the dark.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

No, (human) moms are moms of persons because the offspring whom they are the mothers of are persons.

If the offspring whom Mary was the mother of is a person, and he most assuredly is--he is in fact the second person of the trinity, she is the mother of a person.

There is no such thing as a nature/body, and while it is true that He acquired a human nature when He was conceived, it is not true that Mary was the mother of Jesus's nature. She was the mother of HIM, she was HIS mother. She was the mother of the person, Jesus. If you said that she was somehow the very "mother" of a nature itself you would be attributing divinity to her. God creates natures immediately by bringing the person into existence natures do not have mothers.

Rhology said...

You're now begging the question. Jesus is not a human person. He is a DIVINE AND HUMAN person, but He was before the Incarnation only a divine person.
Mary is not the mother of a person in the same way as my mother is the mother of a person, b/c I didn't pre-exist my conception. Jesus did, and you need to deal with that.


There is no such thing as a nature/body

What does that mean?



it is not true that Mary was the mother of Jesus's nature. She was the mother of HIM, she was HIS mother.

This is where understanding Vox Veritatis' two articles would come in handy for you.


If you said that she was somehow the very "mother" of a nature itself you would be attributing divinity to her.

I don't know what this means or how it is relevant.

Too bad - you're demonstrating the same muddle-headedness that your Lutheran compatriot Edward Reiss did some time ago.

Rhology said...

Tell you what, if you want to continue this discussion, you may either do so at one of Vox Veritatis' post's comboxes, or at this combox. Just respond to it, linking back here, let me know, and we can keep going. But let's stop hijacking this thread.

steelikat said...

Rhology,

"Mary is not the mother of a person in the same way my mother of a person because I did not preexist my conception."

Existence and preexistence have nothing to do with it since mothers don't cause their offspring to exist. God is the cause and "mother" of existence.

The way in which mary's motherhood is different than your mother's is in regards to the virginal conception. In every other way, as far as we know, she was a mother in exactly the same way that your mother was. As for their sons being persons, they were both mothers in that "way," to. You are a person, and Jesus is a person, though he is a divine person and you are a human person.

"what does that mean?"

Oops, I should have said "body/nature." You said jesus's body/nature came into existence and my response is that I don't think there's any such thing.

steelikat said...

"Let's stop hijacking this thread."

OK!

Rhology said...

steelikat,

See here, please.

Ken said...

Excellent John !
This may be the most important post in Protestant vs. RCC apologetics! (at least for me, in my opinion.) This is a great blessing for me today!

I have missed a lot over the last 2 days.

Thank you so much for this - I think it adds to our Biblical apologetics/reasons for the faith, that there is legitimate doctrinal development and there is illegitimate doctrinal development and the RCC/ Newman thing is clearly illegitimate doctrine development; actually adding and corrupting the meaning of the original faith.

To be deepest in history is to repent of the Newman/RCC theology and come to the true Biblical faith. (But only God can open blind eyes and regenerate the dead. Ephesians 2:1-10; John 6:44; Acts 16:14; John 8:34)

John Bugay said...

Hey Ken, you are right, the distinction is a very important one, but it's one that's just ignored by a lot of people.

I'm glad you found this helpful.

Matt said...

John,

Nice post that makes a good point. Such a distinction is vital to make and keep in mind.

However, it should be noted that the logical fallacy at play here is that of equivocation, not amphiboly. Amphiboly concerns syntactic or grammatical ambiguity. Equivocation concerns semantic or lexical ambiguity. The issue here is not a single syntatically ambiguous statement (which would constitute amphiboly), but rather using a term in two different senses in the same context without differentiating between them (which constitutes equivocation).

I think the critique can be best summed up as follows:

1) Proper Doctrinal Development: the enumeration of those propositions that Scripture entails.
2) Improper Doctrinal Development: adding additional doctrines that Scripture does not entail.

To make an argument for the validity of (2) while using historical examples of (1) to support such a practice, all under the umbrella of "doctrinal development," is to commit the fallacy of equivocation.

John Bugay said...

Hi Matt, thanks for commenting.

I simply passed along the comment from Witt; he brought in the concept of amphiboly.

Whether you call it amphiboly or equivocation, I think the concept is correct, and I like the distinctions you have made.

Matt said...

I simply passed along the comment from Witt; he brought in the concept of amphiboly.

I know. I nowhere said that someone other than Witt introduced the concept. PhD's are not immune from making mistakes.

Whether you call it amphiboly or equivocation, I think the concept is correct, and I like the distinctions you have made.

I agree that the fundamental issue is ambiguity, and both amphiboly and equivocation are fallacies of ambiguity. However, it is important to use terms that carry the meaning we are trying to express. Even if we communicate the "core" of what we wanted to say, using terms incorrectly leaves us open to ridicule by opponents. I could see a logically-astute Romanist coming along and saying: "Silly Protestants! They can't even get amphiboly and equivocation straight! And they expect us to take their arguments seriously?" Such would be a diversion from the issue at hand, but a diversion that could have (and should have) been avoided nonetheless.

John Bugay said...

Hi Matt, I see that you are Rhology's friend Vox Veritatis. Welcome to Beggars All. (I wish I had a nickel for every guy I've seen on the internet who goes by the name "Matt". It's hard (a) to know who you're talking to in that case, and (b) to keep them all straight!)

You said, … I could see a logically-astute Romanist coming along and saying …

One would expect that if they were "logically-astute," they would see through the contradictions in their religion; but alas this is rarely the case, to the point that "logically-astute Romanist" actually seems very much to be an oxymoron.

I do appreciate the distinctions you are making, and I am in the process of writing a comment to someone who's considering a trip to the RCC, and one critical piece of advice I give them is to "define the terms of the discussion".

That said, I'll tell you I'm an old guy, and any formal education I had is long past. So while I understand and will continue to work with these distinctions (from here out, "Newman is guilty of equivocation"), I am not normally capable of correcting someone like Dr. Witt, and nor am I always capable of spotting (and naming) these logical fallacies without help.

If you have the time and the inclination to do so, I'd like to invite you to hang out here and continue commenting with us.

Matt said...

John,

Thanks for your reply. I didn't mean to cause trouble with pointing out the difference between amphiboly and equivocation, but I think it's important to keep these terms straight, especially when using them to correct opponents.

Here's an example of equivocation (from the Fallacy Files):

1) All banks are beside rivers.
2) Therefore, the financial institution where I deposit my money is beside a river.


Notice that there is no grammatical or syntactic ambiguity here. The issue is that the word "bank" is being used in one sense in (1), and implicitly in another sense in (2). Hence the equivocation. It is semantic, not syntactic.

Amphiboly, on the other hand, is a syntactic or grammatical ambiguity in a sentence (from Pirie's How to Win Every Argument):

I met the amabassador riding his horse. He was snorting and steaming, so I gave him a lump of sugar.

The last sentence contains the amphiboly, as it is not clear what the referent of the pronouns 'he' and 'him' is. There is no semantic ambiguity, as the senses of all of the words are not in question. The ambiguity is syntactic/grammatical, not semantic/lexical.

Amphiboly can be used fallaciously when an argument is made that relies upon the ambiguity. An example is an astrologer who makes a prediction using amphiboly (which can have mulitple possible fulfillments), and then claims to have predicted a specific event at some later date. For example, Croesus is reported to have asked the oracle at Delphi what the outcome would be if he attacked the Persian empire. The oracle replied that a great empire would be humbled. And as it turns out, however, Croesus was defeated, not the Persians. The prophecy was grammatically ambiguous, and thus to claim that the oracle predicted Croesus' defeat would be fallacious.

As for the 'logically-astute Romanist', I would agree that such a term would be an oxymoron if such a person applied his logical prowess to his religious beliefs. Unfortunately, it is quite possible for a person to be a professional logician and remain a loyal son of Rome. A prime example is Harry Gensler, SJ. He is a Jesuit as well as a philosopher and logician, and has written (in my opinion) the best (and most accessible) introduction to formal logic that has ever been published. I have no doubts as to Gensler's logical astuteness, but a Jesuit he nonetheless remains. We should also remember that those who practiced and developed Aristotelian logic in Europe in the Middle Ages were friars for the most part.

If you have the time and the inclination to do so, I'd like to invite you to hang out here and continue commenting with us.

I appreciate the invitation, though the issue for me, as always, is time.

The Catholic Voyager said...

Dr. Witt is correct in distinguishing genuine developments from revealed truth and non-developmental "new" doctrines that do not flow from revealed truth.

However, Dr. Witt's critique of Catholicism is wrong on several counts.

1. Ideas like the consubstantiality of the Trinity were not "clearly present" in the NT as Witt claims. The testimony of history makes that obvious. The consubstantiality of the Trinity is not "explicit" in Scripture as he asserts and demands of any true doctrinal development.

2. He simply asserts that the development of the Trinity is good but the development of the Immaculate Conception is bad without expounding on that claim. A Catholic can quite easily cite the typological parallels in Scripture between Mary and Eve, Mary and the Ark of the Covenant, etc... and provide a series of deductions which point to her unstained quality. A Catholic can also cite quite a number of ECFs bearing witness to these ante-types of Mary. The same could be done with the Papacy. A Catholic could draw attention to Petrine headship verses in Scripture coupled with the concept of succession native to sacerdotal offices in the NT and OT. Dr. Witt simply denied that these understandings are fair developments from what has been revealed.

3. He presupposes that all doctrinal development must develop directly from Scriptural text. In other words, he is applying a sola scriptura basis to the non-sola-scriptura idea of doctrinal development.

4. Finally, his rule (which he does not follow as explained in #1) that any doctrinal development must come from Scripture that is already "explicit" is an unfounded rule. He does not explain why Scripture that implicitly teaches something cannot unfold in light of other reasonable developments. In fact, the rule itself does not unfold from explicit Scripture and therefore diffuses itself.

Rhology said...

1) The testimony of history makes that obvious. The consubstantiality of the Trinity is not "explicit" in Scripture as he asserts and demands of any true doctrinal development.

1) "The testimony of history" shows in fact the exact opposite. That's sorta why the Trinitarians came out on top in the struggles throughout history.
2) And this is an argumentum ad populum anyway. No exegesis is offered. Catholic Voyager, have you written a blogpost or something wherein you demonstrate that the Trinity is not explicitly taught in Scripture? Or do you have a Jehovah's Witness article you'd recommend?


2) He simply asserts that the development of the Trinity is good but the development of the Immaculate Conception is bad without expounding on that claim.

Yes, one can only guess as to why a Christian might think that the development of knowledge on the nature of God would be better than the development of a tradition that has nothing to do with salvation and in fact militates against Christian soteriology.



A Catholic can quite easily cite the typological parallels in Scripture between Mary and Eve, Mary and the Ark of the Covenant, etc

Hahahaa, yes, please do. Such things are their own refutation.



and provide a series of deductions which point to her unstained quality.

Easily? Go for it!
Don't forget to use Romans 3:23 in your deductions. And Luke 2:21-22 and Leviticus 12:1-8.



3. He presupposes that all doctrinal development must develop directly from Scriptural text.

Yes, it's much better to just ipse dixit assert one's authority to reveal stuff that's on par with God's own revelation.


4. He does not explain why Scripture that implicitly teaches something cannot unfold in light of other reasonable developments. In fact, the rule itself does not unfold from explicit Scripture and therefore diffuses itself.


When is the last time you read Mark 7:1-13?

Sam said...

Luke 2:21-22 and Leviticus 12:1-8.

(by the way I changed from The Catholic Voyager to Sam)

Most manuscripts in Luke say "they" underwent purification. According to your logic, Jesus must also have sinned. But we agree that is nonsense. This reality shows that submitting to an OT ritual does not mean one had to submit to it. Hence, Luke's phrase: "as required by the Law" instead of "because Mary and Jesus were sinners who needed purification from sin." They went through a legal requirement as inhabitants of the Law. They didn't do it because they were sinners. The OT purification ritual is rather signal of the cleanliness needed to approach God in the NT. It does not mean a woman has committed actual sin just for giving birth.

Even if you want to argue in favor of minority manuscripts without the words "their purification" your logic still fails. Did Jesus need to be circumcised in order to become part of the people of God? According to your logic, Jesus was severed from God, a disgrace, until He was circumcised (Gen 17:14, Gen 34:14). Going through an OT ritual does not conclusively tell you about the status of the recipient.

It's easy to find even other Protestants who think you have an illogical argument here (http://tinyurl.com/2catpad). The rest of your reply is similarly illogical , but this reply should suffice as an example.

Rhology said...

Hello Sam,

Most manuscripts in Luke say "they" underwent purification.

I quoted it in the post:
22And when the days for their purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.

The "they" is Jesus' parents.


This reality shows that submitting to an OT ritual does not mean one had to submit to it.

I think you might have gotten confused in the middle of this sentence, actually.


"as required by the Law" instead of "because Mary and Jesus were sinners who needed purification from sin."

Well, it just so happens that Romans 11:32 says: 32For God has shut up all in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.
It's both, and it's both for a reason.



They didn't do it because they were sinners.

Now all you need to do is prove it!


It does not mean a woman has committed actual sin just for giving birth.

You are perhaps unfamiliar with original sin and with the curse of Genesis 3.


Did Jesus need to be circumcised in order to become part of the people of God?

Please show one single passage in the Bible where circumcision is associated with purification from sin as this sin offering that Mary and Joseph brought to the temple is.


It's easy to find even other Protestants who think you have an illogical argument here

1) And if argumenta ad populum (which you used in your last comment) had any force, I'd be in trouble!
2) The article says: "John Calvin opines that it was the stain of original sin in the offspring that caused the mother to become unclean (as child bearing is not a sin)."

Where does the passage in Leviticus indicate that childbearing is a sin? Why not take the position that childbirth is an opportunity for a woman to offer a sin offering b/c...she's a sinner?


A second possibility put forth is that the mother may have sinned during the childbirth process (by overly desiring a child or in the pain of delivering having a bitter heart) and therefore in need of a sin offering

Indeed. And that hardly renders my argument "illogical". Comes out in favor of it, actually.


The rest of your reply is similarly illogical ,

Reminding you about the testimony of history, that argumenta ad populum aren't any good, and that we should prefer Scripture over what later men say is illogical?

Peace,
Rhology

steelikat said...

It seems pretty obvious and commonsensical that something like the immaculate conception or the assumption is very different than something like the doctrine of the trinity.

I think most of us agree that the two sorts of things are very different. The Trinity is the sort of doctrine that must be defined and dogmatized. Anyone who is not a Trinitatian is not a Christian. The immaculate conception and especially the assumption (an alleged event that supposedly occured AFTER Christ's resurrection) are very different matters. Even if they were true it would be wrong to dogmatize them and anathematize Christian believers who don't accept them.

I think exactly how they are different in that respect remains to be rigorously and definitively delineated, however. Dr. Witt made some headway but it doesn't look like a rigorous definition to me.

Rhology,

Your #2 beginning "and this is an argumentum ad populum..." appears to be a refutation of your #1 "...that's sorta why the trinitarians came out on top..."
Was that your intention?

Since we are after all the Church, I think the collective Christian populus, especially insofar as we tend to agree even in schism, can be taken as a kind of authority. We can apply this to the above examples I gave. Protestants agree with the entire Eastern church in not accepting the I.C. or the Assumption as dogma. The "whole church," that is both the eastern and western churches and within the western church both Rome and the Reformation, rightfully and logically consider the trinity to be absolutely essential to the Christian faith. These examples essentially work, furthermore, regardless whether by "churches" we mean the populi of those churches or the "offical" doctrines of those churches.

Rhology said...

Your #2 beginning "and this is an argumentum ad populum..." appears to be a refutation of your #1 "...that's sorta why the trinitarians came out on top..."
Was that your intention?


Yes, it was my intention. Even if we grant that his argumentum ad populum is valid, his argument still fails.