Friday, June 03, 2005

Going medieval

Enloe says:
<< Episcopacy is too large a subject to try to deal with in depth here, but one thing that is worth pointing out is that whatever problems episcopacy has, it does not have the problem of thinking of truth as a mental abstraction, as something disconnectable from the space-and-time world. In episcopacy (as may be seen from the letters of early Christian writers such as Ignatius and Irenaeus) the center of unity is always a person–particularly a person who bears the ministerial authority of the Person Jesus Christ. Truth in this very personal view is, in other words, not merely a set of propositions which, rattling around unaccountably inside the individual’s mind supposedly “timelessly” connecting it to “objective” reality, relegates to irrelevance flesh-and-blood realities (i.e., making visible unity a sham and invisible unity the real goal of those who love “Truth”). >>

i) So, Presbyterial and congregational forms of polity are somehow mental abstractions--disconnected from the space-time continuum? Did Enloe get this from some old episode of Star Trek?

ii) Does Enloe not believe in “objective” reality? Is he a solipsist? Ecclesiastical solipsism doesn’t sound very “catholic” to me. Ecclesiastical solipsism is hermitic rather than catholic.

iii) Is Enloe’s denial of “objective” reality applicable to his own statement?

a) Enloe says there is no “objective” reality.
b) This statement is, itself, a statement about reality—to wit: there is no “objective” reality.
c) This statement, if true, is self-referential and therefore self-refuting.
d) Ergo, this statement, if true, is false.
e) Therefore, it is false.

<< The denigration of the physical-visible which such a view assumes is radically anti-incarnational, and winds up socially (and ecclesiologically) stating that Docetism and Manichaeanism are the true teachings about Christ and the physical world which He has made. Unity solarum propositionum (”of propositions alone”) is gnosticism. >>

For someone who wraps himself up in the flag of church history, Enloe is awfully fond of citing and applying historical heresies out of context. Docetism is a Christological heresy, not an ecclesiological heresy.

Enloe is playing the same game as the liberal who denies the inerrancy of Scripture on the grounds that inerrancy entails a “Docetic” doctrine of Scripture.

One might as well say that Enloe’s refusal to distinguish between the visible and invisible church reproduces the monophysite heresy.

Instead of playing a shell game with labels you learn in Church History 101, why doesn’t Enloe offer us a serious analysis, if he has one to offer?

After quoting Doug Wilson as follows:
<< This means that I believe in the eventual reunion of all covenantal communions. This extends even to the Jews, as Paul notes in Romans 11. If wild olive branches could be grafted into the cultivated tree and yet grow, what will happen when the natural branches are grafted back in? Life from the dead. The only communions that will not be grafted back into the one olive tree will be those communions that no longer exist. The church in Ephesus had her lampstand removed, and the church is no longer there at all. No one is there except for the tourists among the ruins.

Paul expressly warned the church at Rome that she was vulnerable to the same judgment that befell the Jews, and that she had to guard against the hubris that set the Jews up for their fall. I do not believe they heeded the warning, just as the Jews did not. But this does not slow God down any—let God be true and every man a liar. If Rome was cut out, she can be grafted back in. If Rome was not cut out, but only radically cut back, she will flourish and bear evangelical fruit once again. >>

Enloe goes on to say:
<< I don’t think this needs any commentary, except that I don’t see how anyone, even today’s most militantly anti-Rome type of Protestant, can biblically or historically or practically argue against it. There is nothing even remotely harmful to the Protestant cause in this view of Rome and the Christian future. Indeed, this view of Rome and the Christian future has something marvelous going for it that today’s ultra-pessimistic, historically-reductionistic, biblically-rationalistic form of Protestantism does not:

Well, now, let see:

i) There is the patent equivocation as we jump straight from the 1C church of Rome to the 21C church of Rome, as if these were interchangeable. I’m not sure if Wilson is doing that—but Enloe clearly is.

Other issues aside, there was no 1C church of Rome. What you had, instead, were a number of Roman house-churches (cf. Rom 16). This is a far cry from all the later developments.

ii) Is the Roman Catholic church a covenantal communion?

iii) The argument from Rom 11 assumes a postmil eschatology. Nothing necessarily wrong with that. It has, however, absolutely no traction with premils and amils.

iv) What is more, in his debate with Lee Irons, Wilson seems to endorse a preterist version of postmillennialism—a la Bahnsen, Gentry.

Does Enloe share that view?

And does this mean that Wilson would preterize Rom 11 as well? If not, why not? If so, how does he harmonize preterism with futurism? In what sense, on a preterist version of postmillennialism, does Rom 11 await fulfillment?

v) How does a postmil eschatology entail ecclesiastical reunion? If, even now, Christians can still be Christians although they represent different theological traditions exemplified in different visible denominations, then how would Christianizing the entire world automatically dissolve their theological differences?

vi) Finally, there's the question of which theological tradition, if any in particular, supplies the doctrinal template for reunion? What is the creed of the reunited church? Is it more Lutheran? Anglican? Presbyterian? Roman Catholic? Greek Orthodox?

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