Grano: Good lord, one hardly knows where to begin...
SH: That’s one thing we both agree on.
Grano: First of all, as Chrysostom’s reading of St. Paul is readily available in his homilies on Paul's epistles there's no need to rehearse it here. If you don't believe it differs from St. Augustine's, look it up.
SH: You miss the point. The question at issue is not whether Chrysostom’s reading differs from Augustine’s.
Rather, the question at issue is whether his interpretation is correct. What’s the supporting argument for his interpretation?
Why should we prefer Chrysostom on John or Romans to Carson or Schreiner?
Grano: Same holds for the other Church Fathers -- their writings are easily obtainable and consultable. The Patristic evidence comes down starkly against Calvinistic notions of total depravity, limited atonement, irresistable grace, etc. If you bother to read them, you'll see it (unless of course you read the Fathers with your Calvinist template attached.)
SH: Once again, Grano misses the point. To compare and contrast one position with another doesn’t tell us which position is right.
Where are the supporting arguments?
There’s a difference between a true description and a description of what is true.
Grano [quoting me]: "Exegesis never proves anything? So Gnostic or Arian exegesis is just as good as patristic exegesis?"
You left out my "in and of itself."
As early as St. Irenaeus, Christian teachers understood that the heretics could wield the Scriptures too. This is why they seldom, if ever, argued by exegesis alone, despite their very high view of the Scriptures. See how St. Irenaeus refuted the Gnostics (exegesis based on "the rule of faith," i.e. the mind of the Church.) A chief argument of St. Athanasius against the Arians could be summarized as, "Sure, you've got some Scripture passages to back you up, but where's the pedigree for how you interpret them?" -- "Where are the fathers for your beliefs?"
1.So, according to you, patristic exegesis isn’t any better than Gnostic or Arian exegesis.
Rather, the church fathers bring in the makeweight of hermeneutical pedigree to shore up their lack of exegetical superiority.
2.What’s your criterion for a church father?
3.What’s your criterion of the “mind of the Church”?
Grano: And St. Basil argued for the full divinity of the Holy Spirit based not on Scripture alone but on the liturgical tradition of the church. See his "On the Holy Spirit."
SH: So his pneumatology isn’t based on divine revelation alone, but revelation plus liturgical tradition.
Once more, Grano is admitting that Orthodox theology is underdetermined by divine revelation. That it goes beyond what can be inferred from the text of Scripture.
Grano: One exegetes the Fathers and the councils by the same methodology as above. By the power of the Holy Spirit the teaching of the Church, the body of Christ is of necessity self-correcting. This is the way that the Church understands Christ's words that "when the Holy Spirit comes he will guide you (plural) into all truth."
1.Do you think that Orthodox believers have an exclusive contract with the Holy Spirit, or is the Holy Spirit also on speaking terms with Evangelicals like Thomas Oden?
2.The Montanists would appreciate your pneumatic criterion.
3.What’s your criterion for the identity of the true church?
4.Jn 16:13 uses the plural form because Jesus is addressing the twelve in the upper room.
5.Notice the vicious circularity of Grano’s argument: the Church is empowered by the Holy Spirit to discern that the promise of the Holy Spirit is indexed to the Church.
So his interpretation of Jn 16:13 presupposes ecclesiastical authority even though Jn 16:13 is cited to authorize the teaching ministry of the church.
6.”Self-correcting.” What does this mean? That the Church first makes a mistake, then corrects it? Is that how the Holy Spirit guides the Church? He first leads it into error, and then leads it out of error?
7.Is the Church of Rome self-correcting as well?
Is so, why should we be Orthodox rather than Romanist?
If not, why not?
8.How, exactly, do you think the Holy Spirit teaches the church? Do you have an open canon? Continuous revelation?
Grano: I asked, "Out of the 8,000 commentaries floating around out there, how do you know you've got a ‘good’ one?”
Steve's response: "By sifting the quality of the argumentation in support for any given interpretation."
So whoever Steve thinks makes the best arguments is the best interpreter? Puts an awful lot on one's shoulders, I'd say. Every man has indeed become his own pope.
1.How did Grano come to the conviction that the Orthodox communion is the true church? By flipping a coin?
Or by exercising his private judgment? If the latter, then I guess that makes him his own pope.
2.Orthodoxy simply canonizes the private opinions of a few select church fathers.
3.We don’t have the right to shift the burden to a second party.
Grano [quoting me]: "Modern commentators know far more about ANE history, 2nd Temple Judaism, and 1C Greco-Roman history than the church fathers."
In a sense this is true, but in another sense they are further away from the reality -- the Fathers were closer to the source, not just chronologically but culturally and in terms of the spiritual milieu.
SH: That’s very vague. How is a 5C AD church father culturally and spiritually closer to the Pentateuch than an Egyptologist or Assyriologist?
How is a Greek Father, tutored in the Classics, closer to the cultural or spiritual milieu of Matthew’s Gospel than, let us say, Jacob Neusner?
Grano [quoting me]: "Later commentators have the benefit of earlier commentators. Knowledge is cumulative."
This is only true if one denies the existence of possible error accumulation.
SH: Oh, I don’t deny the possibility of cumulative error. That’s why we had the Reformation.
Grano: Don't quite get all the list of all the OT events. Is Steve perhaps positing that Calvinism is to Patristics as Patristics is to the OT? This brings new meaning to the idea of "development of doctrine." There is in fact an organic unity between the Orthodoxy of today and the Orthodoxy of the Patristic age -- it is a continuation of the same "mind." Which is why we Orthodox are so wary of innovations.
SH: What is there not to get? You appealed to historical theology to validate Orthodox theology and invalidate Reformed theology.
By that same criterion—which is your criterion, not mine—historical theology thereby invalidates Orthodox theology since Orthodox theology lacks the historical validation of 2nd Temple Jewish theology, or Intertestamental Jewish theology, or postexilic Jewish theology, or exilic Jewish theology, or preexilic Jewish theology, &c.
If you’re going to argue that Calvinism is false because Calvinism is new in relation to Orthodox theology, then Orthodoxy is false because Orthodox theology is new in relation to pre-Christian Jewish theology.
Your historical criterion is a double-edged sword. If antiquity is your yardstick, then Orthodoxy comes up short in relation to Jewish tradition.
You seem to lack experience in debating with those who don’t already share your question-begging assumptions.