Monday, April 30, 2012

Interesting Lectures on Evangelical Tiber Swimmers and the Canon

Justin Taylor posted an interesting link on Saturday, April 28. It is called "On Evangelical (s) Swimming the Tiber".

Listen here:  There are three lectures with some questions and answers in between sessions. They are all in one file at Chris Castaldo's blog.

Sessions include:
 1. Dr. Gregg Allison – The Roman Road, or the Road to Rome? Why Some Protestants Drift to Catholicism.

 2. Rev. Chris Castaldo - Crossing the Tiber: Why Catholics and Protestants Convert.

 3. Dr. Craig Blaising – Does Accepting the Canon of Scripture Implicitly Affirm Rome’s Authority?

 4. Dr. Robert Plummer – Moderator of question and answer sessions in between lectures.

Dr. Gregg Allison has a very good analysis of why some Protestants convert to the Roman Catholic Church.  Dr. Allison has an interesting book on historical theology.  It is on my book list to get soon.

Dr. Allison talks about Evangelical Protestants who convert to the Roman Catholic Church did so out of a shallow experience in an Evangelical Protestant church that caused a dis-satisfaction with their church and then they went on a "Quest for Transcendence" ( In other words, "Mystery" ?)

That quest for transcendence is expressed in four ways:
a.  Desire for Certainty - certainty over what is the right interpretation among all the different interpretations in the Protestant camp.
b.  Desire for Connectivity to the early church, saints, martyrs, medieval theologians, history
c.  Desire for greater Unity
d.  Desire for Ultimate Authority

Dr. Allison demonstrates that the Roman Catholic Church does not really satisfy those desires and that Quest; he responds with a robust biblical response. (For the time slot he has.)

This analysis was similar to a JETS article that Scott McKnight wrote several years ago.

Dr. Craig Blaising's lecture on the canon was excellent and offered some new insights that I had not known or thought about before.

Rev. Chris Castaldo, who has the lectures at his blog, gave the second lecture.  It was interesting, but there was a problem. Let's see who will listen to the whole thing and figure out the one problem I would have with Castaldo's approach. He regularly reaches out to Roman Catholics and eats lunch and dinner with priests and has discussions with them over theology. Castaldo is willing to discuss issues and have meals with Roman Catholics. I think that is a good thing. I think it is good to have meals together and "eat with sinners and tax-collectors" and discuss things with Roman Catholics; and Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, and atheists. He had some interesting facts on John Henry Cardinal Newman and Peter Martyr Vermigli, a Roman Catholic priest who became a Protestant during the Reformation period.
Notice how Peter Martyr Virmigli is pointing to the Bible. 

Castaldo indicates that Vermigli and Thomas Cranmer were the great foundation layers of the Anglican Church; and "historians have proven definitively that Vermigli had a great deal of influence in the modifications of the Book of Common Prayer in 1552."

Five very interesting points that Dr. Craig Blaising made in the 3rd lecture:

1. The reason why the early church did not make an official list of the books that belonged in the canon in first 2-3 centuries was because it would have been easier for the Roman persecutors to identify the ones that they wanted to confiscate and burn.  (though there is some evidence of partial lists of books that follow the criterion/rule of faith; i.e., the Muratorian Canon (about 170 AD), Irenaeus' basic "canon" of referring to most of the NT books in 180 AD; and Origen around 250 AD seems to have the same list of books as Athanasius in 367 AD),

 2. Tradition - "the things handed down" and Traitor - "one who hands over" (the Scriptures to the Roman persecutors) - both come from the same root word.

 3. He says that the famous passage in Irenaeus 3:3:2, that says “every church must agree” (with the Roman Church) meaning is refuted by Louise Abramowski in  a Journal of Theological Studies article in 1977. Abramowski, L. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer. III. 3, 2: Ecclesia Romana and Omms Ecclesia; and ibid. 3 , 3 : Anacletus of Rome .  Journal of Theological Studies. Oxford University Press, 1977. I tried to find the article on line, but all I found was the title in a Pdf of the indexes.

 4.  His comments on Athanasius and his 39th Easter Letter and a section from Orations Against the Arians was indeed interesting!   Athanasius – Against the Arians (Orations Against the Arians) 1:9 – "we take Scripture and put it up as a light on a candlestick" – the Scripture is like light on a candlestick; and he proceeds to expound a great doctrinal passage on Christ, very similar to the "rule of faith" in Irenaeus and Tertullian; and Athanasius also includes "homo-ousios"( 'ομοουσιος) in this segment.

5.  Dr. Blaising did a good job of showing that the "rule (canon) of faith" in both Irenaeus and Tertullian were fed from Scripture and the main reason for discerning the books of the NT was because they contained the rule of faith or compatible with the rule of faith.

Dr. Blaising said that Cyril of Alexandria was the main driving force behind the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD.  But Cyril died in 444 AD.  At the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, Cyril was the main force in that council and was very aggressive in condemning Nestorius.  Dr. Blaising meant that his efforts and writings influenced others who later led the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, because they even submitted Leo's Tome to Cyril of Alexandria's writings.


James Swan said...

Dr. Allison demonstrates that the Roman Catholic Church does not really satisfy those desires and that Quest; he responds with a robust biblical response. (For the time slot he has.)

Thanks for the post, I look forward to listening to the lectures.

I look forward to Dr. Allison's comments in this area.

PeaceByJesus said...

Have heard of Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books," 2012, by Michael J. Kruger (

I have only read a small part of it (esp. pp. 44-47) but he seems to take an objective approach to it.

I see Scripture as the wholly inspired writing of God being established like men of God are. Both are of God regardless of the affirmation of men, though that is to follow, but they are established as being such due to their Heavenly qualities and attestation, and thus spiritual authenticity is dependent upon God manifesting it, above and beyond what men may affirm of them, though other true men of God will affirm them.

God takes the initiative in this, as He established the faith and morality of men such as Abraham by supernatural means, as He did to Moses, who thus affirmed Abraham's faith.

And by whom God gave the Law, which becomes the standard for obedience and testing truth claims (and additions to it), and in which we also see the Lord and the holy apostle's authority being established by conflation with Scripture and the type of Heavenly attestation it reveals being given to truth (which the gospel sees) - most manifestly to new revelation.

In making her amorphous tradition equal to the Scriptures, Rome effectively adds to the canon and presumes the place of a Moses or an apostle, but lacks their attestive qualities in text and in power, while effectively presuming supremacy over Scripture, and are more akin to the chief priests and elders who challenged the authority of Christ, who lacked the sanction of these historical claimants.

Ken said...

I just ordered Kruger's book this morning.
He has a great web-site called, "Canon Fodder"

Rhology said...

LOL Canon Fodder

PeaceByJesus said...

It deals with the fundamental question asked of all who did not have the approval of presumed supreme perpetual power, "By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things? " (Mark 11:28)

From pp. 46-48:

Of course, all these concerns simply lead up to the most fundamental concern, namely, whether the Roman Catholic model, in some sense, makes the Scripture subordinate to the church. The answer to that question is revealed when we ask another question: How does the Roman Catholic Church establish its own infallible authority? If the Roman Catholic Church believes that infallible authorities (like the Scriptures) require external authentication, then to what authority does the church turn to establish the grounds for its own infallible authority? Here is where the Roman Catholic model runs into some difficulties. There are three options for how to answer this question.

(1) The church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by (and derived from) the Scriptures. But this proves to be rather vicious circular reasoning. If the Scriptures cannot be known and authenticated without the authority of the church, then you cannot establish the author- ity of the church on the basis of the Scriptures. You cannot have it both ways. Moreover, on an exegetical level, one would be hard-pressed to find much scriptural support for an infallible church (but we cannot enter into this question here). 78

(2) The church could claim that its infallible authority is authenticated by external evidence from the history of the church: the origins of the church, the character of the church, the progress of the church, and so forth. 79 However, these are not infallible grounds by which the church's infallibility could be established. In addition, the history of the Roman Church is not a pure one - the abuses, corruption, documented papal errors, and the like do not naturally lead one to conclude that the church is infallible regarding "faith and morals." 80

(3) It seems that the only option left to the Catholic model is to declare that the church's authority is self-authenticating and needs no external authority to validate it. Or, more bluntly put, we ought to believe in the infallibility of the Roman Catholic Church because it says so. 81

The Catholic Church, then, finds itself in the awkward place of having chided the Reformers for having a self-authenticating authority (sola scriptura), when all the while it has engaged in that very same activity by setting itself up as a self-authenticating authority (sola ecclesia). On the Catholic model, the Scripture's own claims should not be received on their own authority, but apparently the church's own claims should be received on their own authority. The Roman Catholic Church, functionally speaking, is committed to sola ecclesia

PeaceByJesus said...

Live link to source which is an excerpt of about 60 pages out of the 356 page work. Thank God for previews.

Here is the web site referred to:

He is a Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte, NC. and an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church in America

Rhology said...

Those were good lectures. Thanks.

Constantine said...

Hi Ken,

Thanks for posting these lectures. I've enjoyed listening to them.

As to your challenge, I think where you might disagree with Chris is at about 58:27. That's where he says, "The destination of one's conversion is largely connected to the place where he locates Apostolic authority."

This makes covnersion seemly independent of the work of the Holy Spirit...I think.

Thanks, again;