Friday, August 31, 2007

Bad Cop…I Guess?

Perry has responded. (Acolyte4236, actually. I believe that is Perry…?)

First off, thank you for the charitable reply. If you decide to post another reply and you don’t see anything back from me, then that means that I’ll let you have the last word. I have no intention of continually exchanging 10 page Word documents.

Secondly, I am not a professional theologian, and so, you’ll have to excuse my occasional imprecision in my use of theological language.

Perry:
“One reason is v. 38 which is curiously left out or relegated to some insignificant or trivial meaning.”

Me:
I didn’t relegate it. I simply assumed that those who read my post would understand that vv.37 and 38 are a unit. My purpose in explaining vv.37, 39, and 40 was to show what the will of the Father is for the Son. V.38 simply states that v.37 is the Father’s will. Yes, I know that you want to deal with the Christology in this passage. However, the focus of my exegesis of John 6 was not on Christology. Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to include v.38 in my exegesis by correcting that post.

Perry:
“Secondly, given that the Trinity and Incarnation are the two core doctrines of Christianity, the hinge upon which allother doctrines turn, I can’t see what the problem is.”

Forgive me. I meant the nitty gritty aspects of the Incarnation: the two wills, the two natures, etc. I am NOT saying that Scripture doesn’t teach these things clearly. It does. What I am saying is that these things have limits upon what you can *infer* from them.

I do not have a theology degree, and my knowledge of all the ins and outs of Christology is limited. However, I believe that one can interpret the one person, two natures, and two wills in such a way as to make it fully compatible with Calvinism.

Perry:
“Furthermore, it is not that the Incarnation saves “more” than the Cross but rather it is the foundation of salvation.”

Me:
I never said that it *saves* more. I said (or at least meant) that it was overemphasized so much that the cross was relegated to a small blip on the radar screen of importance in EO theology. It seems to me that EO theology of sacrifice as found in places such as Isaiah 53:4-12 and Hebrews 7-10 is extremely underdeveloped.

On the other hand, your point that I am somewhat ignorant of EO theology is well made. It makes me sick when other people misrepresent my theology, and so, I endeavor not to burn straw-men of other’s. What would be the best one-volume work on Orthodox Theology out there?

Perry:
“And since unlike Protestants and Catholics, we don’t think philosophy is the handmaiden to theology our theology is quite limited.”

Me:
As a presuppositionalist, I agree that philosophy should be subordinate to Scriptural exegesis.

Perry:
“(Where exactly is divine simplicity in the Bible?)”

Me:
As a Protestant, I am not dogmatically bound to divine simplicity. I believe that it is the best descriptor of what is explicitly stated and/or inferred from what Scripture says about God’s attributes. Things like divine simplicity, libertarianism, compatibilism, semi-compatibilism, etc. are all philosophical constructs used to try to describe what Scripture teaches in a more systematized form. I am not bound to any of these.

Perry:
“On the contrary, I’d argue that your theological perspective gives little if any soteriological importance to the Incarnation, far less than Scripture demands.”

Me:
I beg to differ. God assumed human flesh that He might redeem humans and conform them to His image of perfect obedience (though limited to that). I agree that the incarnation was instrumental for all of salvation (and not just justification).

Perry:
“Take a look at Eph 1:10 and tell me what it means and how it relates to the preceding discussion of predestination. Now how are we to make sense of predestination without Christology?”

Me:
Actually, I agree that Christ is the central figure in all of history, and the history of all the things that transpired in heaven and on earth shall climax with His return. This is the central tenet of Calvinism.

Perry:
“From my perspective it certainly looks like the Incarnation is only important so Jesus can get killed as suvordinated to the Father.”

Me:
Again, see above.

Perry:
“As for disputed texts. I am not sure what you mean by that except to say that we are going to differ over their meaning. But since our theological presuppositions fill in and guide our exegesis, this will be true for not just these verses but for every verse, even when we agree superficially on the meaning.”

Me:
I simply stated that they were disputed so that I wouldn’t have to give a full-length exegesis then and there. I recognize that everyone has presuppositions. However, my argument is that your interpretation cannot account for ALL the nuances of the text.

Perry:
“As for circular reasoning, that doesn’t seem like the charge you wish to make. Rather I think you wish to charge such a practice with yielding an unclear meaning which rests on other unclear passages.”

Me:
My point is that if the Scripture that is used to interpret a less clear passage (and I assert that John 6 is not less clear than any others you cited) is shown to not say what you think it says, then your use of it to interpret the other “less-clear” passage fails.

Perry:
“So, do you think that 1 Cor 15 teaches that all who are raised are “in Christ” or not?”

Me:
This is the same as Romans 5. Paul is relating the respective “all”s to their federal heads. Those who are “in Adam” will die (and since all are descended from Adam, they have him as their federal head). Those “in Christ” (in covenant relationship with Christ as their federal head) will be made alive. V.23 makes it clear that he speaking only of believers where it mentions Christ as first and “those who are Christ’s” as second without mentioning unbelievers.

Don’t get me wrong. Unbelievers are raised, but they aren’t in view in either John 6 or 1 Corinthians 15.

Perry:
“And how about 2 Pet 2:1?”

Me:
http://aomin.org/2PE21.html

Perry:
“As for Jesus explaining the unbelief I think he is harkening back to the post-exodus experience. If so, then this means he has redeemed both believers and unbelievers.”

Me:
The analogy only goes as far as the text will allow it. I explained why in my last post. Again, v.35 makes that explicit. To *come to Christ* will satisfy their “hunger” (i.e. eating the “bread” that Christ mentioned in vv.27, 32, and 33 and the same “bread” that the crowd asks for in v.34), and to *believe in Christ* will satisfy their “thirst”. This verse has its direct reference to the “bread” mentioned above in vv.33 and 34. So, unless you are saying that all will come to Christ and believe in Him, then your interpretation isn’t going to work. Not all will eat the bread (i.e. come to and believe in Christ).

Perry:
“I do think that the “all of v. 37 is limited by the scope of belief but not so with v. 39. V. 40 clarifies v. 37 by explicitly giving conditions on belief. V. 39 though indicates a corporate meaning, which I think is why there is no condition on belief there.”

Me:
All three statements (vv.37 and 38 together, v.39, and v.40) use the exact same language and structure of statement. This is especially the case with v.37 and v.39:

“All that the Father gives to me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (v.37)

“…that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing…” (v.39)

All too easily implied:

“All that the Father gives to me…” = “…that of all that He has given Me…” (v.39)

“…I will certainly not cast out.” (v.37) = “I lose nothing…” (v.39)

They are near-identical statements. There is *no reason* to take them as having separate references.

Perry:
“Moreover, v. 39 follows on the heals of v. 38 which you seem to ignore. Why I wonder?”

Me:
See above.

Perry:
“And if Jesus ends up bringing his human will in conformity to the divine, connection could that have to his immediate discussion of the Resurrection?”

Me:
Again, I don’t have any official theological training, but whatever inference you can take from this is limited by the text.

Perry:
“All ate there and some died. All eat here and have the fullness of life.”

Me:
See above.

Perry:
“But given what we know via the analogia fide, using other Scriptures we do know that the resurrection is part of the restoration of all creation. (Romans 8, Matt 19:28) So you seem to me to treat the passage atomistically as if nothing from any other passage can illumine it.”

Me:
No, my argument is that the passage (i.e. John 6) is a specific treatment of the resurrection to eternal life and more specifically, its only cause, belief in Christ.

Perry:
” And it seems odd to me that you wish to preclude me from talking about the restoration of creation in Jn 6 but then you want to talk about the covenants, when the passage says nothing explicitly about them. That doesn’t seem fair, let alone consistent.”

Me:
I never “precluded” you from saying anything. I showed that the topic of the entirety of Christ’s discussion was on the necessity of coming to and believing in Him.

Perry:
“I didn’t see any demonstration that the passages are equivalent. I saw plenty of assertions to that effect but no appeal to their grammatical structure or past historical usage that would imply what you claim.”

Me:
See above.

Perry:
“Now, appealing to “standard consistent exegesis” sounds a lot like “the assured results of higher criticism” to me.”

Me:
I made it clear that because of the near-identical word usage and structure of each of the three statements, there is no reason to take them as having separate references.

Perry:
“So to convict me of interpreting the passage in light of my theological presuppositions is just to accuse me of being consistent. My claim is that people like White aren’t consistent with their theological presuppositions.”

Me:
Amen. My assertion is the same (just reciprocal).

Perry:
“Now it is quite possible that I am mistaken, but given the fact that competent readers of the text came up with the same interpretation as I did, on similar grounds, if there is an error, it is not an obvious one, lest we convict such authors as being morons.”

Me:
I never said that they were morons. What I do assert is they had a philosophical and emotional bias against what I believe the text to teach, monergism. A philosophical one in that they read an idea imported from pagan philosophy, autezousia, into the text. An emotional one in that they think it would be unfair for God to choose some and not choose others. The standard non-Biblical criticisms of Calvinism.

Perry:
“Just read some Calvinist commentaries on 2 Pet 2:1.”

Me:
Yes, they are pretty sad. Yet, the fact that most non-Calvinist interpretations don’t take into account that the term for “Lord” in that passage is not kurios but despotes. It makes a BIG difference.

Perry:
“Of course if intellectual activity is what constitutes personhood, you have got a fast track to the legitimacy of abortion, which incidentally was the underlying reason why Protestants by and large considered abortion a “Catholic issue.” It is because they had an implicit adoptionist Christology, Jesus became God when he could reason.”

Me:
When you say “Protestants”, I’ll take it that you mean Baptists. I don’t know all about this, but I believe that one of the main reasons for their abortion stance had to do with their racism and a eugenic desire against African Americans. A sad and evil part of our history, but then again, every worldview has its bad points.

Again, I doubt that their Christology had *anything* to do with it, implicit or not. Perhaps you could claim that it had something to do with their view of anthropology (which in turn would affect Christology), but then, anthropology would be their starting point, not Christology.

Perry:
“1 Cor. 15:22… Now are the two groups different here? Are the wicked not raised? If so, how do you explain Revelation 20? If their resurrection is not part of Christ’s work of redemption, what biblical warrant do you have for thinking it is based in something else other than Christ’s resurrection?”

Me:
I discussed 1 Cor. 15:22 above, and I’ll give a lengthier exegesis of the text at a later date. [Maybe much later due to working demands.] Whatever the basis of the resurrection of the wicked may be (and if I studied more systematic theology, I could probably tell you), the fact that Scripture explicitly teaches it (Daniel 12:2, John 5:25-29, etc.) is enough for me to believe in it.

Perry:
“We are united to God via a created and contingent mental relation, Christ unites us to God, therefore Christ is created and contingent. Sola fide lays the groundwork for contemporary Arianism by virtue of Nominalism. This is why you didn’t get modern Arianism from say Thomism because the Thomists are Realists.”

Me:
I’m not a philosophical theologian, but again, I think that you are inferring too much from Christology (e.g. hidden presuppositions, assigning certain philosophical definitions to “person”, “nature”, and “will”, which end up begging the question, etc.). I believe that it is possible to synthesize orthodox Christology with Calvinism.

Perry:
[Universalism…]

Me:
Universalism, as far as I know, started with Clement of Alexandria (I had said Origen earlier, but after looking it up, I was wrong) who was hardly a Calvinist, and actually, Universalists have the exact same Scriptural hermeneutic as you do. You have the same interpretation of the extent of the “all” in Romans 5:18, 1 Corinthians 5:22, 1 Timothy 4:10, 1 John 2:2, etc. Given that presupposition, they’re just more consistent in their interpretation of those verses than you are.

Also, as to Annihilationism, it has its first appearance in the Christian Church with Arnobius. Again, he wasn’t exactly a Calvinist.

Perry:
“If the Fathers are not of ultimate authority in terms of applying the rule that is Scripture, why think that you are of equal stature with them?”

Me:
Because I am asserting that they had about as much inside knowledge into what the apostle meant as I: only the text of Scripture.

Perry:
“I mean how does that comport with say Heb 13:7, 17?”

Me:
You’re assuming that this refers to every aspect of systematic theology instead of the basics of the faith, the kerygma.

Perry:
“Jesus teaches that the church has binding authority. (Matt 18:17)”

Me:
Another eisegeted text. I’m about to do a series on how Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox apologists misuse Biblical texts. Look out for it.

Perry:
“Are you telling me that if the church rejects a teaching that your acceptance of it is of equal normative value?”

Me:
Straw-man. The church is an authority, but it is not an *infallible* authority. To Augustine, tradition played a big role in his theology, but when he clearly could not reconcile it with what he saw as clearly contrary to Scripture, tradition went out the window. During the Pelagian controversy, Coelestius could cite several very highly esteemed church fathers (including Chrysostom) on his side denying that babies had Original Sin.

Perry:
“You need to understand that the idea that no interpretation is infallible has serious ramifications for ecclesiology and Christology. It implies that the powers of Christ are not conveyed to his body. And that raises serious Christological (Nestorianism), if not biblical problems. (Luke 9:32, John 17:5)”

Me:
Again, inferring way too much from Christology.

Perry:
“And even if the Fathers weren’t of greater authority, it doesn’t follow that one can or should dismiss them out of hand. I am not sure why in this case we should prefer modern exegetes over past ones.”

Me:
I never dismissed them out of hand. As to why I prefer modern exegetes, my reasons are found here:
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/consent_church_fathers.htm

Perry:
“Let me ask you this. Between Christ’s two wills, is that monergism or synergism?”

Me:
First of all, Calvinism doesn’t deny that man has a will that freely responds to God (even after a Christian has been irresistably called). Secondly, I believe that you are, yet again, overextending Christology with hidden assumptions.

Perry:
“I don’t have to assume that Tertullian was a recipient of apostolic tradition. To some degree he in fact was. How else do you explain his familiarity with Christianity?”

Me:
Apply this same standard to Origen and all of his theological views: catharsis, universalism, etc.

Perry:
“Moreover, if the Fathers aren’t reliable guides, why trust that they designated the apostolic authorship of the gospels correctly?”

Me:
This is based on history, not Biblical interpretation. Your assuming that the apostles passed down every in and out of their systematic theology to the churches AND that it wasn’t lost or distorted by the outside influence of philosophy, language, culture, etc. That fact that X wrote Gospel according to X is simply a matter of historical record.

Tell me, did the both the Eastern and Western churches have the same soteriology? As I recall, the West seems to have developed its view from Tertullian’s Latin legal lingo, and the East seems to have developed its own path. Are they both apostolic? If one is, which one and how do we know?

Perry:
“And it just seems silly to think that people like Tertullian and Ireneaus didn’t have access to things we don’t.”

Me:
I’m not saying that they didn’t have *any* inside knowledge. However, Irenaeus claimed that Jesus being a little under 50 years of age at the time of His crucifixion was an apostolic tradition handed down from the apostle John. Papias claimed that premillenialism was an apostolic tradition handed down directly from John. Obviously, oral traditions can erode and be distorted very quickly.

Perry:
“As for traditions apostolic in origin, well Basil gives us plenty of examples, which the Orthodox continue to practice.”

Me:
And there are several theological items that the Orthodox practice that were *specifically* condemned by the earliest fathers such as the veneration of icons:
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/rejection_images_icons_1.htm
the practice of private penance:
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/confession_penance.htm
the infallibility of councils:
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/councils_early_church.htm
and especially your view on the nature of Scripture which denies that it is the only *infallible* authority for the Church today. (Notice that I did not say the “only” authority but added the adjective “infallible” for a reason.):
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/perspicuity_church_fathers_1.htm
http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/formal_church_fathers.htm [Note: I am re-writing several of the articles on this site to get rid of a few straw-man arguments. However, I don’t believe that I will need to change much on the articles that I cited.]

4 comments:

Acolyte4236 said...

The good Cop title was to designate that I was being nice and was going to eliminate the rhetoric. I did that for a number of reasons. ONe of which was that I thought dialog withyou might prove to be profitable for you. I am glad to see that you reciprocated.

This weekend, our parish is having its annual festival which is huge. I work at it for basically 12 hours a day for three days and then go back to work on Tuesday. Oh Joy!

In any case, I won't be able to reply soon so I appreciate your patience.

orthodox said...

Perry:
“Furthermore, it is not that the Incarnation saves “more” than the Cross but rather it is the foundation of salvation.”

S&S:
I never said that it *saves* more. I said (or at least meant) that it was overemphasized so much that the cross was relegated to a small blip on the radar screen of importance in EO theology.

Orthodox: A small blip? I thought I'd take a quick poll here. The Greek Orthodox diocese in America's web site mentions the cross 17000 times and the incarnation just under 1000 times.

S&S: As a Protestant, I am not dogmatically bound to divine simplicity. I believe that it is the best descriptor of what is explicitly stated and/or inferred from what Scripture says about God’s attributes. Things like divine simplicity, libertarianism, compatibilism, semi-compatibilism, etc. are all philosophical constructs used to try to describe what Scripture teaches in a more systematized form. I am not bound to any of these.

Orthodox: One wonders what is the distinction between being dogmatically bound and simply believing something is. Presumably protestants aren't dogmatically bound to the trinity as long as someone doesn't come up with a better statement of what is "inferred from what Scripture says about God’s attributes".

S&S: This is the same as Romans 5. Paul is relating the respective “all”s to their federal heads.

Orthodox: There is nothing in the context of Romans 5 that limits it thus, unless you import that idea from somewhere else.

Of course this is part of the debate about John 6. You argue that there can only be one group involved because of the parallel of the context. Our side argues that there is a parallel in Ro 5:18 and context. To argue for two groups is to import a presupposition from elsewhere.

S&S:
http://aomin.org/2PE21.html

JW: On the one hand “bought” means “redeem” and on the other hand it does not. Which is it? On the one hand it is said that the false teachers “denied the Lord who bought (yet the term normally implied is redeemed) them” and on the other hand it is implied (and hence the direct object is changed) that they denied the Lord who bought (redeemed) redemption?

Orthodox: I can only assume that James White is again blinded by his own presuppositions.

You see, the Orthodox perspective is that Christ redeemed all, but some opt out of that redemption. It is an opt-out system, not an opt-in one.

So if Peter says that Christ redeemed people who end up not being redeemed because they ultimately end up as opting out, presents no difficulties for us.

On the other hand, because the word bought is a term used to describe what God does to redeem sinners, JW has to wriggle into contortions to avoid the obvious.

JW: Whatever else Peter may be saying, what he is not saying is that these were men who were potentially bought and hence did not belong to the Master at all.

Orthodox: JW cannot escape from his presuppositional distinction between potentially bought and bought. If the bible teaches that you can be bought, but then choose to opt out, who is JW to describe the original buying as mere potential buying?

JW: A couple of terms that need special attention in the understanding of the text are: Master (despo,thj despotes) and bought ( avgora,zw agorazo). The traditional non-Reformed interpretation is that the Master refers to “Jesus” and bought means “purchased” or “redeemed.”

Orthodox: JW never tires of throwing in this factoid. But it is nothing more than obfuscation. Nobody denies that it refers to God, whether it be Father, Son or Spirit. Redemption is a trinitarian act. So how is the actual term used actually relevant? It's not, but JW likes to obfuscate it as much as possible to try and make the passage as muddy as possible.

JW: Is it not the position of even non-Reformed folk that all who are redeemed are also obviously saved?

Orthodox: No it's not! And here is where JW's presuppositions become rather obvious. In fact, JW is yet to even BEGIN to respond to the opposing side, because he hasn't even figured out what the opposing side believes.

JW: Can one provide a New Testament text that supports the position that Christ has redeemed someone who is not saved?

Orthodox: Well Romans 5:18 for starters.

JW: despotes is used about thirty times in the whole of Scripture-twenty times in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament and ten times in the New Testament. But never does it refer to the Father or the Son as mediator unless II Peter 2:1 be the exception.

Orthodox: A common trick of those trying to wriggle out of a plain meaning is to set up a false dichotomy or a false set of distinctions. Here we have the attempt to set up a distinction between God as mediator, and God not as mediator, and then tempts us to try and classify all references to God into these two categories. If this is a sound exegesis there is no telling what we could prove. Imagine, we could go through the bible and suggest theories that certain titles of persons can't be used in conjunction with certain activities, and turn the entire text on its head.

S&S: I never said that they were morons. What I do assert is they had a philosophical and emotional bias against what I believe the text to teach, monergism.

Orthodox: Even if our side accepted everything you say about the actual text it would not prove monergism. Because there is this other little thing called compatibilism. What you are saying is a bit like pointing to God hardening Pharoah and jumping up and down shouting "monergism", and then ignoring the passages where Pharoah hardens himself. If we accepted that John 6 speaks of God doing stuff it would not show that man is not doing stuff. Thus there is no monergism here. In fact there is no monergism anywhere in the bible. Everywhere the bible speaks of the cooperation of God and man in a way that is not neatly separated by the theologians.

S&S: A philosophical one in that they read an idea imported from pagan philosophy, autezousia, into the text. An emotional one in that they think it would be unfair for God to choose some and not choose others. The standard non-Biblical criticisms of Calvinism.

Orthodox: Well, you assume that the other side is importing paganism and emotionalism and is non-biblical. No one wants to believe that they are the ones importing anything.

S&S: Yes, they are pretty sad. Yet, the fact that most non-Calvinist interpretations don’t take into account that the term for “Lord” in that passage is not kurios but despotes. It makes a BIG difference.

Orthodox: No one has been able to explain why it makes an iota of difference. Nobody disagrees who it is referring to.

S&S: During the Pelagian controversy, Coelestius could cite several very highly esteemed church fathers (including Chrysostom) on his side denying that babies had Original Sin.

Orthodox: Are we talking about the Western Original sin that babies are already guilty before they do anything good or bad? What is the verse that supports that again, seeing as you are promoting it?

Perry:
“Moreover, if the Fathers aren’t reliable guides, why trust that they designated the apostolic authorship of the gospels correctly?”

S&S:
This is based on history, not Biblical interpretation.

Orthodox: What you call "history" is actually information passed down through the Church. i.e. It is not theologically different to any other tradition.

S&S: Your assuming that the apostles passed down every in and out of their systematic theology to the churches AND that it wasn’t lost or distorted by the outside influence of philosophy, language, culture, etc. That fact that X wrote Gospel according to X is simply a matter of historical record.

Orthodox: You don't explain why one category is mere assumption and the other category is historical record. Take one example. We might reasonably assume that the apostles held a particular view on credo vs paedo baptism. We might say that which of those views they held to is a matter of historical record, in that the correct view was passed down in the church. There is nothing factually different about this proposition than the proposition that Peter wrote 2 Peter.

S&S: Obviously, oral traditions can erode and be distorted very quickly.

Orthodox: Traditions can erode. The question is whether the Church is guided into truth on true traditions or not. If not, then the tradition of which books are authentic can be "easily eroded" too. Not to mention the question of paedo vs credo baptism.

Tim said...

JW: Can one provide a New Testament text that supports the position that Christ has redeemed someone who is not saved?

Orthodox: Well Romans 5:18 for starters.


Tim: Orthodox--should I call you Orthie? Doc? :)--I'm curious about your view of Romans 5:18.

From the NKJV: "Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life."

So specifically, Paul is discussion justification. Are you saying that all men are justified, but some opt out of that justification? If so, you seem to be saying we're not justified by faith (or faith+works in whatever sense James meant)--rather, we remain in justification through faith, but we don't have to acquire justification at all. All men have justification by default, but can then "push it away", as it were.

Actually, I'm also curious what you think of Romans 5:15, which says that "the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many."

The Predestined Blog said...

Thx for the comment and helpful advice.

But looking at your links i think we have a couple in common, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I have Dr. Sanford and Walter Remine's Biotic Message sitting in my Amazing wish list for sometime now!

I'm currently reating Aland's The Text of the NT and have Confessions by Augustine and The Many Faces of Evil on que on my reading list. So, it may be a while till I pick up those books -
Btw if you have read both which one do you recommend (btwn Sanford and Remine)

Keep up the good fight!