Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"I'm the ultimate arbiter!"

Jonathan Prejean has posted his final reply:

http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2006/12/on-more-personal-note.html

“I can't see excusing the use of an argument that is unsound in and of itself based on its function anything other than sophistry.”

Sorry, but this is just plain silly. Of course I can use an argument I don’t believe in. It’s just a matter of context.

It would be dishonest to use an argument I don’t believe in to prove my own position. And it would be dishonest to pretend to believe in an argument I don’t believe in.

But there’s nothing wrong with using an argument I don’t believe in to disprove the opposing position as long as that’s an argument my opponent believes in.

And no one reading this thread can be under the illusion that I believe in the argument I’m using as applicable to my own position.

One of the ambiguities here is that we’re really talking about more than one argument. In the case at hand, there are three different arguments in play:

There’s Prejean’s argument against Reformed determinism.

And there’s the parallel argument of Perry Robinson and Daniel Jones against any deterministic theological system, which would be equally applicable to Calvinism and Catholicism.

Then there’s my ad hominem argument. My ad hominem argument makes use of the other two arguments. It deploys the Orthodox version of the argument against the Catholic (a la Prejean) version of the argument.

I do believe in my ad hominem argument. But, of course, what makes it an ad hominem argument in the first place is the distinction between Prejean’s argument and the way I turn his own against him.

Prejean’s upset because he thought he had a silver bullet against Calvinism. He’s been firing this bullet at every Calvinist he could find.

But now he’s shot himself in the head with his own silver bullet. For the inner logic of the argument is equally applicable to such Roman Catholic schools of thought as Scotism, Molinism, and Banezian Thomism.

So now he’s in a quandary. On the one hand, he can try to salvage his own position by distancing himself from Catholic tradition.

On the other hand, he can indulge in special pleading by applying a double standard to Calvinism and Catholicism.

Both escape maneuvers are desperate, but because he’s in desperate straits, he has resorted to both.

It’s also embarrassing for him because it exposes a rift between Prejean and his Orthodox homiez.

When push comes to shove, they will defend Orthodoxy at the expense of Catholicism, and if Prejean gets in the crossfire, they will sacrifice his pawn for the cause of Orthodoxy.

Moving along:

“But I am ultimately the arbiter of what I am ‘supposed to believe;’ indeed, I can specify what that term means by ipse dixit. Unless you are interpreting ‘supposed to believe’ in the very way that the person does, then you haven't showed a conflict. At best, you've made an argument for why the label ‘Catholic’ is confusing for others, but that doesn't have anything to do with rational argumentation, so it isn't ‘fair game’ at all. This is why I subjectively consider most Protestant arguments against particular Catholics useless. The Protestants have some idea that Catholicism is a monolith that can be imputed to each individual, but that's not the way Catholicism works.”

“I’m the ultimate arbiter!”

How very Protestant! Sounds just like the right of private judgment.

Eric Svendsen has been saying this about Catholicism for years on end.

No, an individual Catholic qua Catholic doesn’t have the right to define what is Catholic for him.

As soon as he does that, he becomes a de facto Protestant.

He may still be a Catholic in many of his beliefs, but his methodology is Protestant.

At that point he’s only an accidental Catholic. Where his beliefs just to happen to coincide with Catholicism.

If Prejean wants to be a one-man show, that’s fine with me. But it’s really funny to see him accuse me of being unfair because I hold a Catholic to institutional standards of faith and morals.

Prejean’s radical individualism is that very antithesis of Catholic identity—although, as Svendsen and others have long pointed out, it’s unavoidable in practice.

“In particular, there is nothing wrong with saying that even large number of individual Catholics have made mistakes.”

Back to blatant special pleading. If a Calvinist does it, it’s heresy—but if a Catholic does it, it’s just a “mistake.”

Moreover, this is not just a question of what individual Catholics believe. We’re talking about entire schools of thought within Catholic tradition.

And while the Magisterium has never ruled in favor of one, it has never ruled against the others.

If one or more of these schools of thought is even “materially” heretical (another face-saving distinction), then it is the duty of the Magisterium warn the sheep.

Otherwise—what’s the point of having a Magisterium? After all, these positions have been kicked around for centuries.

“Hays is entirely wrong about me wanting to ‘discredit Calvinism as a whole.’ All I want is to know truly and accurately whether certain Calvinist beliefs do or do not entail a belief identified in the historical records as being condemned by the Council of Chalcedon that bears the label Nestorianism. That's it.”

One would have to be very naïve to believe this disclaimer. Why should he care whether Calvinism falls under the condemnation of Chalcedon unless there’s something bad about falling under the condemnation of Chalcedon?

Prejean acts as if his opponent is under a solemn obligation to be gullible. And it would no doubt confer a tactical advantage if he had credulous opponents to debate. But I’m not about to play dumb for Prejean’s benefit.

52 comments:

  1. "It’s also embarrassing for him because it exposes a rift between Prejean and his Orthodox homiez."

    To be fair, this rift has been known for about 3 years, for as long as I have been talking about these issues with Jonathan. So I am not sure how "embarrasing" it is for him. What is embarrasing is Svendsen's explicit advoction of Nestorianism.

    If the accusation sticks against Catholicism, then it would be so.I of course thinks it does. He doesn't and he does have reasons for thinking so.I don't think those reasons have exculpatory value.

    Of course I have yet to see Steve lay out his arguments as to what monothelitism is in detail and how he is not one, and why the Orthodox think that despite official statements to the contrary, they think Rome is, along with her protestant children.

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  2. "What is embarrasing is Svendsen's explicit advoction of Nestorianism"

    A somewhat silly statement, considering Dr. Svendsen has thoroughly laid out a well-detailed argumentation concerning "Nestorianism" found here:

    http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/lessons-in-historical-theology-for.html

    http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/lessons-in-historical-theology-for_16.html

    http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/and-backpedaling-begins.html

    http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/lessons-in-historical-theo_111116913196869837.html

    http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/lessons-in-historical-theology-for_21.html

    Let the reader judge, but I personally would not be embarrassed by anything Dr. Svendsen has written, yea rather proud of his excellent work.

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  3. Master Jedi,

    If you read those and other statements by Svendsen, it is obvious that he advocates Nestorianism, for he thinks that a person is a Nous or Intellect and Jesus is a joining of two of them.

    This is why he accuses Catholics of Apollinarianism and Monophysitism because he thinks that they are committed to saying that if Jesus is a divine person, then either Jesus itellect/nous has been replaced and he is therefore not truely human or there is a confusion between the two natures. In either case, like Nestorius he is confusing the categories of person and nature.

    This is why he defends Nestorius and appleas to Nestorian defending works like Harold Brown's text, Heresies.

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  4. "And there’s the parallel argument of Perry Robinson and Daniel Jones against any deterministic theological system, which would be equally applicable to Calvinism and Catholicism."

    A couple things you'll want to keep in mind Steve:

    a) There is every bit amount of determinism in our view as there is in Calvinism or "Augustinism."

    b) But our point of departure is how we understand person and nature. We believe, quite firmly, that the Christological dogmas of the Church preclude any type of confusion in this area.

    c) Primacy of divine revelation. The person of Christ and the Scriptures are the key to understand all theological questions regarding man. At this point we see no dialectical opposition between scripture and our liturgical worship, and we could even be called "quasi sola scripturists" since the insistence is always on revelation as a source of dogma and not the thoughts of the philosophers and their reasoning capabilities. It should be noticed that where the Fathers sound like "sola scripturists" is primarily in there battle against Hellenism. Are we theologians or philosophers?

    d) Hellenism tells us that two contraries can't be true of the same reality, or the Aristotelian principle of non-contradiction. Where the scriptures affirm contrary properties about the Person of Christ, (finite -- infinite), we affirm both regardless of what reason and the logic of philosophers say. Chris is both predestined man and predestinating God. What is important is in asking the question: What is the source of your predicate? Scripture? All human and divine properties, that can be considered of dogmatic value, are reflections and conclusions after considering the type of operations of the Person of the Son. This is why there is no "natural theology" in Orthodoxy. Or perhaps a "natural theology" can only be worked out in a Christological context, since it is Christ that reconciles all things to Himself (all the general properties of God and man). The projects of Natural Theology assume by dialectical reasoning, which from our perspective is nothing but reasoning as a result of the fall, that what they are saying is true independent of any reference to The God-man. I can't help but think that this is assumed as true and then taken for granted only to be used as a hermeneutic and read back into the scriptures (e.g. Neo-Platonic divine simplicity). I think protestants should re-think how compatible doctrines they have assumed from Medieval Catholicism are in fact compatible with the ethos of sola scriptura (which from my point of view is nothing but a restoration, in a certain sense, of the patristic ordo theologiae). When Calvin decries, "How can the contingent affect the First Cause on which it utterly depends?" betrays his reliance on Hellenistic thinking that he inherited. In some sense, that decry was inevitible based on the Carolingian filioque doctrine and its cultural paradigm that imposed an "either/or" dialectical thinking, some "more" and some "less" of how theological questions were addressed. The debates on the Eucharist played out in similar fashion.

    e) Everyone *must* exercise private judgment, but not everyone has the right to the same degree. It is prudent for one to consider their RELATION OF ORIGIN to the Church's clergy and sacraments and to Christ as head of the Church.

    I hope that helps.

    Photios

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  5. Acolyte4236 said...

    What is embarrasing is Svendsen's explicit advoction of Nestorianism...Of course I have yet to see Steve lay out his arguments as to what monothelitism is in detail and how he is not one, and why the Orthodox think that despite official statements to the contrary, they think Rome is, along with her protestant children.

    *********************************************

    Are you claiming that Calvinism entails both monothelitism and Nestorianism?

    Aren't those tugging in opposite directions?

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  6. Photius said...

    There is every bit amount of determinism in our view as there is in Calvinism or "Augustinism."

    ******************************************

    And how does your Orthodox brand of determinism qua determinism sidestep monothelitism and/or Nestorianism, but Reformed determinism qua determinism does not?

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  7. Photius said...

    I think protestants should re-think how compatible doctrines they have assumed from Medieval Catholicism are in fact compatible with the ethos of sola scriptura (which from my point of view is nothing but a restoration, in a certain sense, of the patristic ordo theologiae).

    ******************

    I'm not opposed to this idea in principle. But I'd note the irony in having Perry say that Evangelical theology is defective because it is too prone to fundamental revision while Daniel says that Evangelical theology is defective because it's in serious need of fundamental revision.

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  8. "And how does your Orthodox brand of determinism qua determinism sidestep monothelitism and/or Nestorianism, but Reformed determinism qua determinism does not?"

    Steve,

    The best way to discover the answer to this question, in most detail, is to see if your theology library has Dr. Joseph P. Farrell's book "Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor." If you can't obtain a copy, I'll try and see if I can get you one.

    "Are you claiming that Calvinism entails both monothelitism and Nestorianism?

    Aren't those tugging in opposite directions?"

    Well, no, the thesis::anti-thesis is Nestorianism and Eutychianism (monophysitism). Both are monothelite though. Pyrrhus of Constantinople put forward both types of argumentation against Maximus. 1) For Nestorianism the monotheletism is had in the "object of the will," that being singular and simple, with one will or operation co-opting the other. With Monophysistism only one manifestation of the nature. Both sets confuse person and nature, so they trace back to the same functional problem (which John of Damascus identified this as the singular problem of all heresy) and their common Hellenistic grid and presuppositions.

    Photios

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  9. Photius said...

    The best way to discover the answer to this question, in most detail, is to see if your theology library has Dr. Joseph P. Farrell's book "Free Choice in Saint Maximus the Confessor." If you can't obtain a copy, I'll try and see if I can get you one.

    *************************

    I see that both you and your Jedi bro. (not to be confused with Master Jedi) have reviewed this book. I also see that it's out of print.

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  10. "I see that both you and your Jedi bro. (not to be confused with Master Jedi) have reviewed this book. I also see that it's out of print."

    Well to be fair, Farrell's more like Darth Sidious than a mere Master. Yeah I know it's out of print just let me know if your library doesn't have it.

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  11. Photius said...

    "just let me know if your library doesn't have it."

    No, I don't have it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I think you're all nuts...what a waste of bandwidth.

    (my reply makes more sense than all the rest of this crud combined!)

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  13. Steve:
    Well, people will either be convinced or they won't, and I'm happy to leave the record where it is.

    I will say, assuming your question wasn't entirely rhetorical, that comparative religions has been an object of intense intellectual scrutiny from well before the time I became a practicing Catholic, as anyone who knew me before then could attest. In fact, I would actually prefer that discussion of these issues NOT get mixed up with apologetics, which is why I have no desire to discuss your characterization of my Catholicism. Unfortunately, I've never found a place to discuss them that didn't implicate apologetics one way or the other.

    MasterJedi:
    I'm a firm believer in "Let the reader judge" as well. In that spirit, here's my half of that exchange, which Svendsen failed to link:
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/02/was-theodoret-of-cyrus-nestorian.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/selective-intelligence.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/room-for-agreement.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/still-waiting-for-dr-svendsen-to.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/you-talkin-to-me.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/regarding-my-laziness.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/guess-thats-it-then.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/03/not-just-nestorian.html
    http://crimsoncatholic.blogspot.com/2005/07/back-just-in-time.html

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  14. Steve,

    My comment wasn’t germane to the question of whether Calvinism entails both monothelitism and nestorianism. It was germane to the fact that Svendsen explicitly advocates the later. I do think that Calvinism does enatil both positions, but that better Reformed theologians will deny both positions. I believe it would be a case of “blessed inconsistency.

    I think that Protestant theology needs to be revised precisely because it at best gives us access to only humanly constructed models which are insufficient to bind the conscience. That is, it needs to be revised because it is wrong. My claim wasn’t that it wasn’t prove to fundamental revision, as if other traditions were acceptable because they were less likely to rule it out. It was that prone or not, it is always in principle possible and this seems to be inconsistent with other widely held Christian beliefs.

    As an aside, you can see some of the same material in John Romanides, An Outline Of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics, regarding Nestorianism and Monothelitism. Its short and cheap.

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  15. Prejean has been spamming every board imaginable since he lost his debate with me--which is a clear indication in my mind that he knows he was made to look foolish and is now desperately attempting to redeem himself. Steve hit the nail on the head when he called attention to Prejean's tendency to shoot himself in the foot, to take a hardline position on an issue, and then (once it is shown his position is untenable) to backtrack and restate his new position as though he's always held it. I have documented this in the past: http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/and-backpedaling-begins.html. He also completely ignores my conclusions here, http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/lessons-in-historical-theology-for_21.html, instead opting to persist in his hollow nestorian witch hunt.

    Prejean has consistently refused to address this issue from a biblical standpoint. He and his cronies would rather engage in speculative sophistry and rely on their own sophist "brilliance" in figuring out the divine than attempt to show how divine revelation supports their views. The reason for this is that they are simply incapable of handling Scripture. They are biblical neophytes, and as such as forced to rely on the wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of God. Watch; you'll see. If they respond to this post at all it won't be with arguments from Scripture--it will be still more sophistry from their dizzying intellect.

    Prejean is a joke of a man. He has been defeated by me; he has been defeated by James White; he has been defeated by Jason Engwer; and he has recently been defeated by Steve Hays. And with each defeat comes an odd triumphalism and appeal to his own authority. Steve has effectively shown that Prejean is nothing more the a magisterium of one--a renegade Protestant who is "catholic" only in name. He represents the belief of no system other than his own; and as such it is a complete waste of time to attempt to reason with him.

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  16. Prejean has been spamming every board imaginable since he lost his debate with me--which is a clear indication in my mind that he knows he was made to look foolish and is now desperately attempting to redeem himself.

    I'd have to be an idiot to advertise my own defeat. If I were "desperately attempting to redeem myself," then I would be trying to provoke some sort of rematch, not simply repeating what I have been saying.

    Steve hit the nail on the head when he called attention to Prejean's tendency to shoot himself in the foot, to take a hardline position on an issue, and then (once it is shown his position is untenable) to backtrack and restate his new position as though he's always held it.

    Which only shows that you and Hays both follow the same pattern: misinterpret me, make statements based on your misinterpretation, and then act as if I changed my mind when you got me wrong in the first place. The funny thing is that neither of you actually show from my words where I contradicted myself; you simply assume that I said what you interpreted me to have said.

    He also completely ignores my conclusions here

    Why would I respond to a summary? The conclusions are nothing other than what you said before.

    Prejean has consistently refused to address this issue from a biblical standpoint.

    And quite proudly I might add. I reject your concept of Scriptural authority, so it would be thoroughly inconsistent of me to debate you on a ground I don't recognize.

    He and his cronies would rather engage in speculative sophistry and rely on their own sophist "brilliance" in figuring out the divine than attempt to show how divine revelation supports their views.

    You call it "speculative" sophistry; Sts. Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril, and Thomas Aquinas would have called it exegesis. This just points to the fact that our concepts of Scriptural authority are fundamentally opposed to one another.

    The reason for this is that they are simply incapable of handling Scripture. They are biblical neophytes, and as such as forced to rely on the wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of God.

    The people on whose interpretation I am relying were hardly "Biblical neophytes." The idea that Cyril or Augustine didn't perceive the wisdom of God in Scripture is certainly a thesis that you can advance, but as between you and they, I'll take them over you. Nothing personal. Besides, if I am a "Biblical neophyte," then that would make you a "patristic ignoramus," so I'm not really sure you want to go here.

    If they respond to this post at all it won't be with arguments from Scripture--it will be still more sophistry from their dizzying intellect.

    The Fathers do plenty of exegesis, and they give plenty of explanation of their concepts of Scriptural authority. It's not my fault that you haven't read it. Someone well-versed in patristic theology would know the exegetical basis for my arguments. My apologies for assuming that you actually were a big enough boy to do your own reading, but I can't really do your homework for you.

    Prejean is a joke of a man. He has been defeated by me; he has been defeated by James White; he has been defeated by Jason Engwer; and he has recently been defeated by Steve Hays.

    Ah, that's mature. Suffice it to say that I don't consider you competent to judge. When I say that you are a "joke," I am speaking of your qualifications in patristic theology, which are laughable. Let's see how well your patristics bookshelf stacks up against mine.

    And with each defeat comes an odd triumphalism and appeal to his own authority. Steve has effectively shown that Prejean is nothing more the a magisterium of one--a renegade Protestant who is "catholic" only in name.

    I'll take your use of the term "odd" as an admission that even you recognize it wouldn't make sense for me to advertise my own defeats. As for the appeal to my own authority, to who else's authority would I appeal? Ultimately, we all reason individually and we all give assent of the will freely; we are the ultimate arbiters of where our will is directed. That's the freedom of conscience affirmed in Dignitatis Humanae. The fact that you and Hays misunderstand what Catholics mean by "authority" doesn't change what it is.

    He represents the belief of no system other than his own; and as such it is a complete waste of time to attempt to reason with him.

    Nobody can represent a belief system other than his own; that's the entire point of what I said to Hays. Catholicism is not a "belief system." It is an assent of the will to the authority of certain living persons (namely, the Magisterium) to speak on behalf of God and a commitment to affirm whatever beliefs are required to the best of that person's ability. This doesn't mean that Catholics can't be wrong, can't make mistakes, can't be materially heretical. It's a fallen world; knowledge is imperfect. Nor does the Magisterium even pretend to be able to change that situation. The goal of the Magisterium isn't perfect knowledge (which can't be achieved) but a concrete manifestation of God's authority.

    The object of submission of the will is the authority of these persons given by God, not a set of particular premises. And we give that sort of assent all the time. For example, we recognize the government and the rule of law without knowing every little detail of the law in all instances. Most people will not know the law in its entirety, but they are "law-abiding" in the sense of doing what the law prescribes to their best understanding of what it requires. "Catholic" is like "law-abiding." Not every person is going to have the same level of knowledge so as to give consent to the law in the same way, but it provides the ability to point to a certain group of people and say "those are the people who speak with the authority of law."

    In Protestantism, of course, there are no such people. Hence, private judgment.

    Anyway, your misunderstanding on Catholic authority is somewhat beside the point. I have nothing to hide; I have never been anything other than willing to yield the field if you want to discuss matters of Biblical exegesis, because I don't share your concept of Scriptural authority. From my perspective, it's about as interesting to me as an argument from the Book of Mormon or the Qu'ran; we might as well be reading different books.

    I just want you to withdraw the inaccurate historical claims. There is a real historical belief system called Nestorianism, and you hold it. Perry knows it; I know it; why not just admit it? It makes no difference, and the admission doesn't even hurt you because you don't concede the authority of the councils anyway. The only people for whom it matters will be people who already reject your concept of Biblical authority anyway, so what's the hesitation? You lose nothing, and it's not even like refusing to do so will save you, because McGuckin, Russell, McKinion, Wessel, Keating, Gavrilyuk, and others are all out there for the reading. I don't understand what you gain here. If you admit you screwed up, you would at least get points for integrity, even though relying on Harold O.J. Brown has more or less sunk you in terms of accuracy. Isn't your integrity worth anything?

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  17. Benedict XVI12/21/2006 5:23 PM

    Dr. Svendsen,

    You said:

    "They are biblical neophytes, and as such as forced to rely on the wisdom of man rather than the wisdom of God. Watch; you'll see. If they respond to this post at all it won't be with arguments from Scripture--it will be still more sophistry from their dizzying intellect."

    Per the above response from Prejean, your prophetic abilities are impressive. You were exactly right....thanks

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  18. Benedict,
    What arguements from scripture did Dr.Svendsen posit in his post that should have been replied to scripturally by Jonathon?

    You also replied. Where's your scriptural arguement?

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  19. CrimsonCatholic said...

    "Ah, that's mature. Suffice it to say that I don't consider you competent to judge. When I say that you are a "joke," I am speaking of your qualifications in patristic theology, which are laughable. Let's see how well your patristics bookshelf stacks up against mine."

    One difference is that Svendsen can read the Greek Fathers in the original, unlike Prejean.

    To be a competent judge of Greek (or Latin) patristic theology, one needs to be able to study both the primary and secondary literature.

    And, on a related note, let's see how well Prejean's commentary bookshelf stacks up against Svendsen's.

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  20. CrimsonCatholic said...

    "And quite proudly I might add. I reject your concept of Scriptural authority, so it would be thoroughly inconsistent of me to debate you on a ground I don't recognize."

    This is a transparent cop-out, for no one is stopping Prejean from showing us how he would exegete Scripture on his (Prejean's) own grounds.

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  21. This is a transparent cop-out, for no one is stopping Prejean from showing us how he would exegete Scripture on his (Prejean's) own grounds.

    It's been done by many Catholics before me, and whenever it is done, the Catholic gets accused of eisegesis, because we think that a number of external criteria can be used that you do not. It's a pointless exercise to attempt to talk across that gap.

    To be a competent judge of Greek (or Latin) patristic theology, one needs to be able to study both the primary and secondary literature.

    Well, sure, if the issue being judged turns on something in which knowledge of the original language is actually pertinent, but in that case, you have to be far more than simply competent in the language; you have to be a legitimate scholars of the period and that author's writings. So for the purposes that it would matter, being able to read the originals is practically irrelevant (or it gives a false sense of confidence), because even people who can read the language lack that expertise. Moreover, where the reading of a particular passage is controversial, such authors typically show their work in sufficient detail (and opponents explain their argument in sufficient detail) that it is clear why they say what they do. Examining the technical use of terms like energeia isn't going to be helped at all by having a lexicon to tell you what energeia means. At any rate, someone well-versed in the secondary sources is far more likely to understand what is going on that someone who simply knows the language of the primary sources. And that's even leaving aside the point that I'm sure to a high degree of certainty that Svendsen has not read the primary sources in the original.

    And, on a related note, let's see how well Prejean's commentary bookshelf stacks up against Svendsen's.

    Oh, I'm sure his collection dwarfs mine. I have just a few one-volume commentaries and NT introductions. I flip through Guthrie or Carson when I want to know what the Evangelical position is. Contemporary Biblical scholarship isn't a passionate interest for me; I'm more interested in how Scripture has been understood over history than how it was understood at the time.

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  22. This is why he accuses Catholics of Apollinarianism and Monophysitism because he thinks that they are committed to saying that if Jesus is a divine person, then either Jesus itellect/nous has been replaced and he is therefore not truely human or there is a confusion between the two natures. In either case, like Nestorius he is confusing the categories of person and nature.

    Actually, that would have more to do with your sacramentology, or are you forgetting that transubstantiation entails an implicitly monophysitic Christology, the same way that Lutheran ubiquitarianism does.

    I think that Protestant theology needs to be revised precisely because it at best gives us access to only humanly constructed models which are insufficient to bind the conscience.

    But how do you know that Holy Tradition affords the opposite? You're still in the same boat, only you've only moved that question back by one step.

    The Fathers do plenty of exegesis, and they give plenty of explanation of their concepts of Scriptural authority.

    Yes, they do, and considering that they don't view tradition as infallible, whereas you act as if it is, you're quoting men who don't hold a view of Scriptural authority that you affirm.

    Ah, that's mature. Suffice it to say that I don't consider you competent to judge. When I say that you are a "joke," I am speaking of your qualifications in patristic theology, which are laughable. Let's see how well your patristics bookshelf stacks up against mine.

    And where, pray tell, is your Papal Imprimatur? Where is the offical stamp of approval from Rome? Where is your degree, you're a lawyer. Given the choice between your J.D. and your further lack of papal imprimatur and Svendsen's seminary degrees, I'll happily take his qualifications over yours, you who can't read the original Greek and lacks seminary training or, at the least undergraduate training.

    It's not my fault that you haven't read it.

    Then why don't you ask Thomas Oden what he thinks about your views? Oh, but he's a Protestant, that's right.

    Someone well-versed in patristic theology would know the exegetical basis for my arguments.

    But you've represented your views as your own and not those of your communion, so now you're representing them as those of your communion and not your own. Which of them is it? Make up your mind.

    You also seem to forget that the Fathers have to be exegeted as well, so it's not as if appealing to the Fathers solves your problems. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly.

    My apologies for assuming that you actually were a big enough boy to do your own reading, but I can't really do your homework for you.

    Ah, the fruit of the Spirit just drips from your kind words during this Advent season. So much for your respect for Scripture.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Svendsen said:
    Steve has effectively shown that Prejean is nothing more the a magisterium of one--a renegade Protestant who is "catholic" only in name. He represents the belief of no system other than his own; and as such it is a complete waste of time to attempt to reason with him.

    I just have to note ironic bit of projection here -- the "magisterium of one" part. Heh. He follows up by suggesting that because he's really a Protestant, he can't be reasoned with. That's quite an odd conclusion coming from him.

    Also,

    Prejean is a joke of a man. He has been defeated by me; he has been defeated by James White; he has been defeated by Jason Engwer; and he has recently been defeated by Steve Hays. And with each defeat comes an odd triumphalism and appeal to his own authority.

    This just pegs the irony meter, doesn't it, Svendsen pointing at *Prejean's* triumphalism? If I hadn't some familiarity with Svendsen, I'd read this a bit of self-parody. I guess it *is* that, but it seems he's unaware.

    I don't know Mr. Prejean might state things any more clearly. Here and in his blog he has supplied his reasons that a sola scriptura starting point makes an exegetical exercise completely pointless for him. Both Mssrs. Hays and Svendsen appear (reading back to exhanges from 2005 between Svendsen and Prejean) to be unable to think outside their own presuppostions.

    At all.

    If Steve *is* able to get out his own box, ad arguendo, then you wouldn't see him asking for a rationale based on *his* axioms -- grammtico-historical exegesis in Protestant "standalone" mode. But, this is what Steve sticks to, and Mr. Svendsen as well, alas.

    Too bad, as once again an interesting discussion has the wells poisoned by Mr. Hays. Again it's not a discussion that leads to understanding if not agreement. While I don't know that I agree with Mr. Prejean, I *do* understand that he is trying to press a focused, narrowly scoped historical question. Why the man can't get a straightforward discussion on the points that he's raising, I can't figure out.

    Or maybe I can.

    At the minimum, perhaps you might understand a key distinction Prejean makes: Nestorianism and/or attending monothelitism do *not* condemn the RCC in the same fundamental way as it would Calvinism (yes, used as synecdoche!). The theological error may be the same all the way around, but the ramifications for the Reformationists are completely different than they are for Rome; the former has its monothelitism imputed as dogma, and the latter does not.

    Can the "theological experts" here at least agree on that basic distinction?

    Steve's hung up on the idea that if Calvinists have the problem, than so do many Catholics, as if that helped him out at all (tu quoque anyone?). But if understand Mr. Prejean correctly -- and having read through the exchange just once, I'll grant I may be mistaken -- Hays is mistaken in thinking that his "you too" retort is symmetrical.

    It's not.

    Understanding the asymmetry should not be at all difficult here, but it seems lost on Mssrs. Hays and Svendsen.

    Too bad, because I think that asymmetry is the key to an interesting discussion, historical and theological. And it would have the added benefit of actually engaging Mr. Prejean at the level he's approaching this.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  24. Mr. Bridges,

    Before going any further with Mr. Robinson, you may want to know that he's not a Roman Catholic and doesn't give two sticks about transubstantiation and Papal imprimaturs.



    Photios

    ReplyDelete
  25. Actually, that would have more to do with your sacramentology, or are you forgetting that transubstantiation entails an implicitly monophysitic Christology, the same way that Lutheran ubiquitarianism does.

    Forgetting? Hardly. Any Thomist worth the name would rake you over the coals for confusing substantial presence with Lutheran ubiquitarianism. The fact that Luther was a sorry metaphysician for having heard too much Biel and Ockham doesn't really do much to indict Thomism. Your little intra-Protestant squabbles over just how bad you both are don't really trouble me. Calvin's treatment of "at the Father's right hand" is so anthropopmorphic that it's painful to watch.

    Yes, they do, and considering that they don't view tradition as infallible, whereas you act as if it is, you're quoting men who don't hold a view of Scriptural authority that you affirm.

    "Infallible" is an anachronism for these purposes, and I suspect that the way you're using "Scriptural authority" is as well. They thought Scripture could be abused by those who didn't hold to the Tradition, and they thought those who didn't hold to the Tradition could fall away. But I don't believe anything that contradicts this.

    And where, pray tell, is your Papal Imprimatur? Where is the offical stamp of approval from Rome? Where is your degree, you're a lawyer. Given the choice between your J.D. and your further lack of papal imprimatur and Svendsen's seminary degrees, I'll happily take his qualifications over yours, you who can't read the original Greek and lacks seminary training or, at the least undergraduate training.

    You're entitled to do that. There's no accounting for taste, I suppose.

    Then why don't you ask Thomas Oden what he thinks about your views? Oh, but he's a Protestant, that's right.

    Oh, I'm certainly willing to disagree with Oden, Torrance, Brown, and others if I think their opponents have got the better of them. Here's a better question: what do you think Oden would say about Svendsen's Apollinarimonophysitism argument? Come to think of it, why don't we pick a Baptist like Steven McKinion? He *taught* church history at the school where Svendsen got his master's degree, so he ought to know something, right? His book on Cyril is on my shelf, and I would imagine that his opinion wouldn't be all that different from mine. Name-dropping is not going to impress me; I've read them too.

    But you've represented your views as your own and not those of your communion, so now you're representing them as those of your communion and not your own. Which of them is it? Make up your mind.

    I'm talking about making the same specific arguments as specific people. Try to keep up.

    You also seem to forget that the Fathers have to be exegeted as well, so it's not as if appealing to the Fathers solves your problems. This has been pointed out to you repeatedly.

    It's not figuring out what people say to a reasonable degree of certainty that vexes me. It's the reductionist significance and the overbroad authority given to what they say that conflicts with my concept of Scriptural authority. I've pointed *that* out repeatedly, having dedicated a couple of blog entries to it.

    Ah, the fruit of the Spirit just drips from your kind words during this Advent season. So much for your respect for Scripture.

    Having been called a "joke of a man," I thought that was downright gracious of me. I didn't talk about anything but his conduct, and it was actually a compliment, if a back-handed one, to say that I would have expected him to do the reading. At least I give him credit for being negligent rather than incapable.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Touchstone:
    I'm glad to see that someone here knows the score. I'm sure we have some major disagreements, but we're at least on the same planet.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I, for one, have to register complete shock that Touchstone would once again pick the side opposite Steve...

    Totally shocked.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Hey Gene,

    You know what someone who reads the comments here thinks when they see you say something like this to Prejean:

    Ah, the fruit of the Spirit just drips from your kind words during this Advent season.

    and have no such sarcasm for Mr. Svendsen in response to the bile he offered here as his "fruit of the Spirit"?

    Hypocrite!

    I don't think Prejean's comments about reading *were* particularly Spirit filled just there, but let's not try to kid each other: Prejean been much more restrained and charitable throughout than Mr. Svendsen just here. I don't commend Prejean's comments at the end there, but only a hardened hypocrite would take issue with that before taking Mr. Svendsen to task.

    Maybe you just forgot?

    If this is how Christians are -- blind to their own abuses -- then who needs it, right?

    Anyway, you took a long time to respond to Prejean, but from where I stand, in lieu of the rest of the comments, particular from Mr. Svendsen, all you really said was "I'm a hypocrite!"

    Mr. Svendsen, I'm a Protestant, and on the whole I think I would reject Mr. Prejean's thesis. Your attitude in your above comments bring shame on your faith. If this is what your theology produces, it's not worth very much, is it?

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  29. John Paul II12/22/2006 1:14 AM

    Ooooh, a stinging indictment from someone who wants to call himself a Protestant but denies most of the tenants of Protestantism. It seems to me Touchstone will align himself with anyone who disagrees with the T-bloggers. He's like Mr. Blog Spam. A little clue for you Touchstone, there are biblical reasons that we hold to our presuppositions, and we defend our position based upon the biblical basis for our presuppositions. We don't argue a position from someone else's presuppositions. This outlook of yours is why you're blown all over the place...

    ReplyDelete
  30. Benedict XVI12/22/2006 1:26 AM

    Greetings everyone,

    It's me, the Pope, and I just wanted to clear up a few things. First of all, Mr. Prejean has not been authorized by me to defend the Holy Faith. I have to admit I am getting tired of these loose canons running around the blogosphere as if they were sent by me, the BMOC (Big Man of Catholicism). So, as of now, I am calling upon Mr. Prejean to recant of his heresies or we will have to take him down to the basement of the Vatican and "correct" him, if you know what I mean. Well, back to your Protestant bickering.

    Obi Wan Kanobi,

    Benedict XVI

    ReplyDelete
  31. hostus twinkius12/22/2006 1:35 AM

    Listen, I want to agree with something Jonathan Prejean said. I believe that he and Touchstone are on the same planet. It's just not the third one from the sun, you know, the pretty blue one with the swirling clouds...

    ReplyDelete
  32. CalvinDude said:

    I, for one, have to register complete shock that Touchstone would once again pick the side opposite Steve...

    Totally shocked.


    John Paul II said:

    Ooooh, a stinging indictment from someone who wants to call himself a Protestant but denies most of the tenants of Protestantism. It seems to me Touchstone will align himself with anyone who disagrees with the T-bloggers. He's like Mr. Blog Spam. A little clue for you Touchstone, there are biblical reasons that we hold to our presuppositions, and we defend our position based upon the biblical basis for our presuppositions. We don't argue a position from someone else's presuppositions. This outlook of yours is why you're blown all over the place...

    Hm, I agree, it is pretty weird how often Touchstone seems more than willing, and at times even going out of his way, to disagree with what Steve says, for example. But maybe that's because one of his presuppositions is nothing on this weblog could possibly be right. Which stands right next to everything Paul says is mean. And evolution is true ipso facto. And a few others.

    ReplyDelete
  33. JP II,

    I'm not asking for you or any of the (other) T-Bloggers to argue from an opponent's presuppositions. Rather, I'm asking that you acknowledge the folly in asking your opponent to argue his position based on *your* presuppositions. It's unreasonable and disingenuous. As I've pointed out repeatedly, T-Bloggers wouldn't accept that condition from their opponents, so on what basis do they try to impose it.

    Really, there is a very deep seated limitation here on display by the T-Bloggers -- the inability to even *contemplate* things outside of their own paradigm. By that I'm not suggesting a situation where they *accept* or *affirm* an alternate paradigm, or in any way change their own theological position. Rather, I'm suggesting, as demonstrated in this exchange with Prejean, that there is a fundamental inability to communicate and understand beyond the confines of their own boxes.

    That's their right to choose such a disposition, or to just happen upon it because they never learned to get beyond their own boxes, even for the purposes of debate and discussion. But the practical reality is that T-Bloggers (at least the ones I've reacted to) are just a recipe for serial train wrecks when dealing with anyone who doesn't share their axioms. That's not prejudicial as to who's theologically right or wrong. It's simply a lack of execution in engaging in a meaningful debate. Calvindude or whoever can get their blood boiling about Touchstone once again criticizing Steve, but my complaints are of pattern: Steve's just not willing to discuss things in good faith. It hardly matters who "wins" -- it's a moot point; everyone loses when bad faith is powering one or both sides of the conversation.

    As for your clue you are giving me, I appreciate the attempt to help, but I've got a problem with the formulation of your idea. You say:

    A little clue for you Touchstone, there are biblical reasons that we hold to our presuppositions, and we defend our position based upon the biblical basis for our presuppositions

    If there are biblical reasons for your presuppositions, then they really aren't presuppositions, right? I think that's part of what I'm objecting to, this tautology: even your *presuppositions* Biblical based! I believe you sincerely believe that as you've expressed it, although I'm willing to be set straight if you want to rephrase it. But as it is, I think it indicates an acute blind spot in your thinking. You're unaware of the a priori commitments you are bringing to the table.

    This would explain why you would seek to have people like Mr. Prejean operate in accordance with them; they're not just presuppositions, they're universal, objective presuppositions in your view. They are so "obvious" to you that you don't even see them anymore.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  34. Really, there is a very deep seated limitation here on display by the T-Bloggers -- the inability to even contemplate things outside of their own paradigm. By that I'm not suggesting a situation where they accept or affirm an alternate paradigm, or in any way change their own theological position. Rather, I'm suggesting, as demonstrated in this exchange with Prejean, that there is a fundamental inability to communicate and understand beyond the confines of their own boxes.

    Nope, sorry, that's not the problem. Generally speaking, the problem is as follows:

    1. Touchstone brings up certain arguments against a position.

    2. Steve, for example, shows him how his arguments are incorrect.

    3. Touchstone then resorts to tactics rather than argumentation. These tactics include personal attacks (such as against some of the T-bloggers), poisoning the well (such as by implying that YECs are hardly different from flat earthers before hearing out the argumentation), hasty generalizations (such as by attributing YEC to those who do not find evolutionary theory compelling), and shifting the burden of proof (such as when he wanted me to come up with an heuristic for allegorical myth by which to read Genesis when I never made the argument that Genesis should be read as allegorical myth in the first place). And several others.

    4. Steve shows him that he's resorting to debating tactics rather than honest argumentation.

    5. Touchstone proceeds to impute vague ambiguities to Steve. Such as he (and the other T-bloggers) can't think outside his own box. Yet without ever specifying the particularities he has in mind in such a broad-brushed statement. For instance, what "paradigm" does he believe we, the T-bloggers, are working with in Steve's exchange with Prejean?

    6. And/or, alternately, Touchstone begins to play the victimization card. He'll cite how mean and unfair the T-bloggers have been to him, with the implication that he is the victim of their verbal abuse. He'll make an emotional appeal for "understanding" and "sympathy," because, after all, when it's all said and done, it's not about winning or losing (truth or falsehood?), but it's about "getting along well with others." Of course, I don't disagree with the sentiment to be respectful and courteous in discussion and debate -- although that's not exactly what Touchstone has in mind -- but I do find it odd in light of the fact that Touchstone has been at least as harsh towards those with whom he disagrees.

    ReplyDelete
  35. TOUCHSTONE SAID:

    "If Steve *is* able to get out his own box, ad arguendo, then you wouldn't see him asking for a rationale based on *his* axioms -- grammtico-historical exegesis in Protestant 'standalone' mode. But, this is what Steve sticks to, and Mr. Svendsen as well, alas."

    One of Touchstone's problems is that he's jumping into the middle of an ongoing debate, ignorant of its prehistory. Jason and I have argued at length with Prejean in the past over his hermeneutical alternative, or lack thereof.

    "At the minimum, perhaps you might understand a key distinction Prejean makes: Nestorianism and/or attending monothelitism do *not* condemn the RCC in the same fundamental way as it would Calvinism (yes, used as synecdoche!). The theological error may be the same all the way around, but the ramifications for the Reformationists are completely different than they are for Rome; the former has its monothelitism imputed as dogma, and the latter does not."

    I've already addressed that objection. Touchstone is behind the curve—as usual.

    "I'm not asking for you or any of the (other) T-Bloggers to argue from an opponent's presuppositions. Rather, I'm asking that you acknowledge the folly in asking your opponent to argue his position based on *your* presuppositions."

    Another obtuse remark by Touchstone. I already challenged Prejean to offer his alternative exegesis according to his own hermeneutical framework. Not surprisingly, he ducked.

    "If there are biblical reasons for your presuppositions, then they really aren't presuppositions, right? I think that's part of what I'm objecting to, this tautology: even your *presuppositions* Biblical based!"

    Yet another obtuse remark by Touchstone. Although he's been corrected on this point more than once, he continues to confound transcendental theism with an axiomatic system of unprovable first principles. Touchstone can't think outside his little box.

    Touchestone's basic problem is that he's bitter because the initial debate over evolution didn't go the way he was hoping. He had his set of stock objections and pat answers, but they were ill-adapted to counterarguments with which he was unacquainted. Touchstone can't think outside his little box.

    He's been trying to settle the score ever since with ankle-biting complaints. He's never found an enemy of the Gospel he couldn't side with.

    Oh, and let's remember that Touchstone is an alethic antirealistic. So everything he says can be safely discounted according to his own global relativism.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Touchstone,

    I don't expect a debate opponent to argue from my presuppositions or paradigms, but I do argue from them. I'm not blind to my a priori commitments, but I have come to them by studying scripture--not by being raised in the Roman Catholic church and twisting Scripture, or simply rejecting it's authority, to defend my man-made theology. Look at the doctrines the Roman Catholic has to defend because he has departed from Scripture. That aside, you appear to be one that simply likes to "discuss" things, you know, stay up late and talk about God and stuff. There's really no definitive truth to defend, you have your presupps--I have mine, etc etc. We disagree, but hey, no big deal, right bud? We've all read a lot, and we're intelligent, so let's just "share" and "discuss". That's great for Oprah, but I passionately believe the truth. So, I bring my presuppositions to the table. At least I don't come empty handed....

    ReplyDelete
  37. JP II,

    I think this is deadly serious stuff. Eternal ramifications the "late night chit-chat". That's why I object to the persistent struggle to put one's opponent in a presuppositional headlock. It's counterproductive. It speaks badly for your faith, and paints as nothing more than self-satisfying game that makes one look like a jerk.

    If you're actually not afraid to engage, and discuss generously, good things can happen. It doesn't require you to change or compromise your beliefs at all.

    Will there be disagreement? Yes. Is it a big deal? Yes, in that the stakes are high on these issues. But you're way mistaken if you think that your cause is served by demanding that your opponent argue with *your* presuppositions, and refuse to understand that these kinds of discussions are ultimate a competition between sets of presuppositions.

    That's a much more serious take on the situation than is being offered here at Triablogue, at least with regard to the posts I've been dealing with. It's *less* serious to demand of your interlocutor that "it's my axioms or the highway". It doesn't treat the issue at hand with nearly the respect it deserves.

    And you end up with people emerging from the encounter saying things like "That Steve guy is completely unreasonable." Not "I disagree completely with Steve, but he gets his points across well", or "Steve hits hard but gets right to the core issues at hand." Of course Steve is inclined to see this as validation of his "normativity". As just above, such critiques are just so much sour grapes from his pitiable, disgraced victims. He really *did* engage, it's just the depravity of his opponents showing through when they complain about arguments waged in bad faith...

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  38. Steve,

    You said:
    Another obtuse remark by Touchstone. I already challenged Prejean to offer his alternative exegesis according to his own hermeneutical framework. Not surprisingly, he ducked.

    This kind of comment just proves Prejean's point. He's said repeatedly that *his* exegesis isn't relevant here, even under his own view of scripture. It's a *historical* question, Steve. Does the historical exegesis by ECF that gave rise to the condemnation of Nestorianism attach to Calvinist ideas of determinism, or not. Prejean's exegesis doesn't help on that question at all.

    If I misunderstand, I hope Mr. Prejean will correct me. But having read this thread through again, I'm confident that that is one of the thrusts he is making. Your persistence in asking for an exegesis is just proof you're not willing to listen to what he's saying. And you further compound the problem by then suggesting because Mr. Prejean has resisted in indulging your misunderstanding of the question, that he's "ducking" in some way that reflects some weakness of some kind.

    Snap out of it, Steve. As I see it, a Buddhist could be advancing these same questions as a matter of historical interest instead of Mr. Prejean. Would you demand the Buddhist inquirer to provide his own exegesis of scripture? If you can see the folly in that demand, than you can see the folly in yours.

    This is part and parcel why your interlocutors don't see you as just wrong on the merits, but unreasonable, and intransigently so.

    -Touchstone

    ReplyDelete
  39. Touchstone said:
    ---
    Calvindude or whoever can get their blood boiling about Touchstone once again criticizing Steve
    ---

    Once again, Touchstone demonstrates his uncanny ability to read other people's minds. From a single sarcastic statement (ooh, aliteration!), he has decided that I got my "blood boiling" over his siding against Steve once again.

    Unfortunately, Touchstone's mind reading abilities are about as accurate as his conclusions, which is to say they are nowhere near the truth. My blood doesn't boil in the least over this fact; instead, I look upon Touchstone with something akin to amusement.

    By the way, I would also argue that it is Touchstone who is unable to look outside his own box. Presuppositionalists hardly have any problem at all accepting the other viewpoint for the sake of argument, and then demonstrating how the other viewpoint is self-refuting. This is, in fact, what presuppositionalists do.

    Touchstone isn't asking that we accept the opponent's viewpoint; he wants us to accept the opponent's conclusions and pretend that the conclusions are valid (even while denying that that is what he is asking us to do). See, if we argue from the other person's position and demonstrate that it is self-referentially incoherent, then we have by Touchstone's definition not taken the other person's position at all; we are still somehow arguing from our position, even though the very argument we use is predicated upon the acceptance of the very presuppositions of the opponent.

    The logic of this is simply astounding. As astounding as Touchstone's mind reading ablities, come to think of it.

    ReplyDelete
  40. touchstone said...

    "Hey Gene...Hypocrite! But only a hardened hypocrite would take issue with that before taking Mr. Svendsen to task."

    Keep in mind that whenever t-stone makes a claim, there 's an implicit asterisk after his claim.

    For t-stone doesn't believe that objective truth is accessible to you and me. Hence, any assertion he makes is a purely autobiographical and introspective witness to his mental states. It doesn't correspond to any objective fact.

    Hence, his charge of hypocrisy is only as good as his moral relativism.

    "Really, there is a very deep seated limitation here on display by the T-Bloggers -- the inability to even *contemplate* things outside of their own paradigm.That's their right to choose such a disposition, or to just happen upon it because they never learned to get beyond their own boxes, even for the purposes of debate and discussion."

    Remember the asterisk. Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that this allegation is accurate, so what? For t-stone, every paradigm is purely subjective. So what difference does it make whether I stay in my own subjective box or commute to your subjective box?

    Indeed, from t-stone's viewpoint, it isn't even possible for anyone, including himself, to escape the confines of his own box and commute to another. For that would purport an objective fact about someone else's box. So, from t-stone's perspective, I can only see your box from the blinkered sightline of my own box.

    Like every global antirealist, t-stone habitually reverts to a posture which his official position denies.

    "It speaks badly for your faith, and paints as nothing more than self-satisfying game that makes one look like a jerk."

    A more promising candidate for jerkdom would be a relativist who makes absolutist pronouncements about everyone else.

    "Of course Steve is inclined to see this as validation of his 'normativity'."

    i) T-stone continues to reiterate his lie, although he's been repeatedly corrected on this point. It's become a case of legendary embellishment on his part.

    ii) It's not surprising that a moral relativist would be a liar.

    iii) But like a solipsist who's frustrated by his inability to convince anyone *else* of solipsism, t-stone is a relativist who waxes indignant when he can't make everyone else believe that relativism is true.

    "This kind of comment just proves Prejean's point. He's said repeatedly that *his* exegesis isn't relevant here, even under his own view of scripture...Your persistence in asking for an exegesis is just proof you're not willing to listen to what he's saying."

    Like liberals who defend jihadis by speaking on behalf of the jihadis and ignoring what the jihadis have to say for themselves, t-stone's idea of defending someone is to disregard what that individual actually said and substitute something more defensible. This is what Prejean actually said:

    "You call it "speculative" sophistry; Sts. Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril, and Thomas Aquinas would have called it exegesis...The people on whose interpretation I am relying were hardly "Biblical neophytes." The idea that Cyril or Augustine didn't perceive the wisdom of God in Scripture is certainly a thesis that you can advance, but as between you and they, I'll take them over you. Nothing personal...The Fathers do plenty of exegesis, and they give plenty of explanation of their concepts of Scriptural authority. It's not my fault that you haven't read it. Someone well-versed in patristic theology would know the exegetical basis for my arguments."

    So Prejean arrayed Patristic exegesis against Svendsen's own position. Therefore, Prejean did make this an issue of contrasting exegesis.

    Only he *said* it rather than *showed* it.

    "It's a *historical* question, Steve. Does the historical exegesis by ECF that gave rise to the condemnation of Nestorianism attach to Calvinist ideas of determinism, or not...Snap out of it, Steve. As I see it, a Buddhist could be advancing these same questions as a matter of historical interest instead of Mr. Prejean."

    i) Why should I care about a question of purely historical interest unless it goes to an issue of truth and falsehood, right and wrong?

    ii) Answering a historical question requires a mastery of both the primary and secondary sources. Why would I want to debate the historical question with someone like Prejean who can't read the primary literature in the original?

    ReplyDelete
  41. For t-stone doesn't believe that objective truth is accessible to you and me. Hence, any assertion he makes is a purely autobiographical and introspective witness to his mental states. It doesn't correspond to any objective fact.

    Being a scientific (in the modern sense) anti-realist doesn't mean that you have to be a metaphysical anti-realist. ISTM that Touchstone is the former, not the latter. But this is the first time I've ever encountered him, so I can't say for sure whether he is a "global" anti-realist. It would just be weirdly inconsistent if he were.

    So Prejean arrayed Patristic exegesis against Svendsen's own position. Therefore, Prejean did make this an issue of contrasting exegesis. Only he *said* it rather than *showed* it.

    How unsurprising that Touchstone knew what I meant, and you didn't. MY point was solely historical. In response, Eric Svendsen made a gratuitous claim that this was because I had no exegetical basis, and I'm entitled to simply deny it and demand proof, meaning he would actually have to dig into the patristic exegetical arguments and interact with them. As I said, I can't do homework for people; to some extent, they have to be self-motivated if they want to get involved.

    i) Why should I care about a question of purely historical interest unless it goes to an issue of truth and falsehood, right and wrong?

    All questions of purely historical interest go to the truth and falsehood of the purely historical claims, so if you are interested in the truth of purely historical claims (as I am), then this would be sufficient motivation. If you are not, then one wonders why you weigh in on my discussion of the matter, given that you have no interest. This is where Touchstone appears to have you pegged. If you considered them unimportant, then you wouldn't address them at all; the fact that you get involved and then try to change the issue makes it appear as if you do consider them important grounds but that you can't speak to them meaningfully.

    On the evolution debate particularly, I have a great deal of sympathy for Touchstone, because he sees his opponents as conceding the importance of the scientific methodology and yet moving to another methodology with no reason within the methodology to do so. It looks like special pleading.

    ii) Answering a historical question requires a mastery of both the primary and secondary sources. Why would I want to debate the historical question with someone like Prejean who can't read the primary literature in the original?

    On the flip side, why would I want to debate someone who knows neither the primary nor the secondary sources? I have no qualms about you questioning my qualifications, although I find it a bit odd that it is coming from someone unqualified when I have had scholars in both history and philosophy indicate that I had a good grasp of the subject matter I'm discussing. But anyway, to be consistent with your reasoning, Svendsen should withdraw his arguments (including Apollinarimonophysitism), Jason Engwer should withdraw his articles as well, and James White never should have said a word about Nicaea. You say you're not a relativist, but it sure seems like you have a "goose-gander" problem here. All I want is a withdrawal of the dubious historical claims. It serves no one to have the scholarship and the historical facts being obfuscated by poor handling.

    And to pre-empt the "Well, what about Catholics who do X?" argument:
    1) If I think a Catholic is making a dubious historical argument, then I certainly will address that. I do it all the time.
    2) I've found that most objections of this sort misunderstand the Catholic claim being made. In other words, the Protestants thinks the Catholic is making a certain sort of claim, but the Catholic isn't. See, e.g., this discussion.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Touchstone said: "If there are biblical reasons for your presuppositions, then they really aren't presuppositions, right? I think that's part of what I'm objecting to, this tautology: even your *presuppositions* Biblical based!"

    Been following this for awhile, and just now was tempted to contribute. I think Touchstone nails it here. The Triabloguers are unable to think out of their own presuppositional box: they ostensibly begin with "exegesis alone," proceed by "exegesis alone" and then, unsurprisingly, come to the conclusion that "exegesis alone" is the sole way to theologize. Hence, they will not accept exegesis that doesn't fit their box, but will instead call it eisegesis. I completely understand Prejean's refusal to argue Scripture: he knows up front (and he's said it many times) that they will reject his Scriptural arguments out of hand because they don't see his hermeneutical and exegetical approach as valid. Why should he bother? They'd want him to prove his exegetical method by exegesis -- can we say, uh, circular?

    This is the problem when all you have to do your theology is a text. You necessarily come to the conclusion that whoever handles the text the best has the truth. This makes a priestly caste out of the textual scholars and commentators, and explains why Protestants of this sort need seventy-three commentaries on their shelves for every book of Scripture: wouldn't want to miss the one who might have it right, now would we?

    ReplyDelete
  43. John Paul II12/22/2006 3:29 PM

    Nice Marmot,

    Prejean doesn't exegete Scripture because he can't win the battle there. His arguments won't hold water, so he resorts to historical sophistry. Of course we insist on exegesis alone, we hold to sola scriptura, why would you be surprised by that? When your exegesis is inconsistent and simply used as a tool to defend your traditions, instead of unpacking what the text actually says, then we must reject your hermenuetical approach, and therefore your argumentation. Even from a historical perspective, note how Tim Staples twisted the plain facts of history in his debate with James White on Papal Infallibility regarding Pope Honorius. You can check it out at www.aomin.org. It's quite embarrasing...

    Touchstone,

    I said:

    "I don't expect a debate opponent to argue from my presuppositions or paradigms, but I do argue from them."

    Then you said:

    "But you're way mistaken if you think that your cause is served by demanding that your opponent argue with *your* presuppositions.."

    See any problem with that response to what I said?

    --JP2

    ReplyDelete
  44. NICE MARMOT SAID:

    “I completely understand Prejean's refusal to argue Scripture: he knows up front (and he's said it many times) that they will reject his Scriptural arguments out of hand because they don't see his hermeneutical and exegetical approach as valid. Why should he bother?”

    Why bother? Because this is not limited to a question of whether Prejean can persuade me or vice versa.

    Rather, this is a public forum. Can he present exegetical arguments which are convincing to various lurkers?

    “They'd want him to prove his exegetical method by exegesis -- can we say, uh, circular?”

    Where did we ever say that? We’ve had extensive discussions with Prejean in the past over exegetical method. We offered non-circular arguments for the grammatico-historical method.

    You might wish to brush up on the prehistory of the debate before you rush in with ill-informed criticisms.

    “This makes a priestly caste out of the textual scholars and commentators, and explains why Protestants of this sort need seventy-three commentaries on their shelves for every book of Scripture: wouldn't want to miss the one who might have it right, now would we?”

    News flash: Roman Catholics write commentaries to, viz. Brown, Fitzmyer, L. T. Johnson, &c.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Well, even my masochism has limits, so I've got to move along to something else.

    And to everyone, even the ones I think can't grasp basic principles of logical argument or historical investigation, I wish you all safety in your travels, peaceful time with your families, and a merry Christmas.

    'Til next time (which I hope never arrives)...

    ReplyDelete
  46. CrimsonCatholic said...

    All questions of purely historical interest go to the truth and falsehood of the purely historical claims, so if you are interested in the truth of purely historical claims (as I am), then this would be sufficient motivation. If you are not, then one wonders why you weigh in on my discussion of the matter, given that you have no interest. This is where Touchstone appears to have you pegged. If you considered them unimportant, then you wouldn't address them at all; the fact that you get involved and then try to change the issue makes it appear as if you do consider them important grounds but that you can't speak to them meaningfully.

    ***************

    i)I was responding to t-stone on his own grounds. He's a relativist.

    ii)Historical theology is descriptive, not normative.

    iii)I address the issue because high churchmen assign an artificial importance to tradition.

    It has nothing to do with my personal priorities, but with their misguided priorities.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Innocent III12/22/2006 3:53 PM

    Ah yes, Mr. Prejean loses the debate and moves along. What a surprise...

    ReplyDelete
  48. Benedict XVI12/22/2006 4:06 PM

    Steve,

    We don't need commentaries, see? If there's any question about what Scripture teaches everyone just asks me. Neat, huh? Yeah, Catholics do write commentaries too, but only the ones who have Protestant envy...

    --Da Pope

    ReplyDelete
  49. “I'd have to be an idiot to advertise my own defeat”

    Well, okay, we’ll go with that explanation then.

    “If I were "desperately attempting to redeem myself," then I would be trying to provoke some sort of rematch, not simply repeating what I have been saying.”

    Why would you try to provoke a rematch if you know you can’t win? The only option you have at this point is the same one that all RC apologists fall back on; simply repeat the same tired arguments over and over again, in the hope that by repeating it enough times it will eventually seem to be a good argument to your target audience. It’s a technique that has been used by RC apologists since the beginning.

    “Which only shows that you and Hays both follow the same pattern: misinterpret me, make statements based on your misinterpretation, and then act as if I changed my mind when you got me wrong in the first place. The funny thing is that neither of you actually show from my words where I contradicted myself; you simply assume that I said what you interpreted me to have said.”

    Is that a fact? Here’s what Prejean stated in one post in our dialogue:

    “To respond to Dr. Svendsen's query of 3/14/05, I refer to my post here, which clearly points out Svendsen's Christological errors (fundamentally based on the complete inability to make a distinction between person and nature, an error that was shared by Arius and Nestorius).”

    Note here that Prejean does *not* say, “an error that was *erroneously attributed* to Nestorius.” He instead says, “an error that was *shared* by Arius and Nestorius.” Then, in a later post, after I corrected him on his understanding of what scholars believe about Nestorius, he wrote this:

    “After having read Dr. Svendsen's first couple of forays into this area, I'm going to say a couple of things strictly in the interest of saving both his time and mine. Everybody with any familiarity in the relevant history knows that it is somewhat doubtful that Nestorius was Nestorian.”

    Here is what I wrote in response at that time:

    “Which will it be, Mr. Prejean? Shall we proceed with the pop-apologetic understanding of the historical events that you undoubtedly possessed before I began posting my series; or with your new understanding of historical events which, forced by my citations of Brown, you quickly acquired when you scrambled to your patristic sources looking for contradictions to my position only to find it confirmed? I am not anxious to waste my time interacting with that kind of disingenuousness on your part; the kind that strongly and consistently asserts an erroneous position about the historical events, and ridicules and derides my comparatively accurate understanding of those events in the process, only to backpeddle once the evidence comes out and then pretends the issue was never about my understanding of events to begin with.”

    Anyone interested in reading the full article can access it here: http://ntrminblog.blogspot.com/2005/03/and-backpedaling-begins.html

    “Why would I respond to a summary? The conclusions are nothing other than what you said before.”

    Precisely because it *is* the summary, and precisely because it ties the series together and issues conclusions that reveal the thrust of the point of the series. Since you clearly got my intent for the series wrong, it would have helped you to understand what that intent was. Here is what I concluded:

    “It is my opinion that both councils attempted to explain the inexplicable and went far a field in their dogmatic pronouncements and attendant condemnations. No one can explain the unity of the person of Christ and the relationship between his natures beyond what the Scriptures affirm because it is inexplicable beyond what the Scriptures affirm. The most we can safely affirm is that Christ is both fully God and fully man. But the moment we attempt to explain just how those two statements fit together—or worse, to go beyond that and proclaim Mary as “mother of God” is some kind of ramification of all that, or that it acts as a test of orthodoxy—we end up in error. Why? Because at that point we end up abandoning discussion on the communication of attributes in Christ and start down the path of discussing the communication of attributes in Mary. As I stated in an earlier post in this series, the term theotokos, rightly understood as a Christological affirmation, is not objectionable in itself. It becomes objectionable in the hands of RC apologists who would use it to exalt Mary’s status over against the consistent testimony of the very Scriptures to which they purport to acquiesce in the concilliar definitions of Chalcedon and Ephesus about the person and natures of Christ. Indeed, they eagerly seek to defend the Cyrilline Apollinariani-Monophysite view of Christ’s person and natures from the Scriptures--not so they can uphold the deity of Christ, but as a pretext for finding a basis for exalting Mary by somehow proving from that fact that she’s the “mother of God.” I think that much is self-evident in their writings. But in so doing, they ignore the clear statements of Jesus that such a relationship—even if true—avails nothing. Indeed, I am convinced that they would, if they thought they could get away with it, happily throw out the qualifier of the councils that Mary is theotokos only “as regards his manhood,” and that “the difference of the natures [is] by no means removed because of the union, but the property of each nature [is] preserved and coalesced in one prosopon and one hupostasis,” and use the term in an unqualified way to exalt Mary instead of Christ. After all, that is the sense in which they use the term today, completely oblivious to the fact that the title has a historical context. So are Roman Catholic apologists wrong in their views? I believe so. Are they in Christological heresy on this point? If the councils are to act as our rule of faith, I don’t see any way around it [for the sake of clarification, this is only to the extent that they follow Cyril’s view—which most of them do; this point is affirmed by many scholars, including McGrath, Brown, Pelikan and Kelly]. But Scripture is much more forgiving on this point than are the councils. If Scripture is to act as our rule of faith, I don’t see how any view that affirms the full deity and full humanity of Christ as well as the unity of his person can be labeled as heretical given the fact no one knows exactly how the person and natures of Christ relate to each other, or even whether those categories are ones the biblical writers would deem legitimate in the first place. The councils use Platonic concepts and Aristotelian categories that are foreign to Scripture; and Scripture simply does not bother to elaborate on these things, no doubt because they are inexplicable to finite minds. Hence, my major complaint on this particular issue insofar as Roman Catholic apologists are concerned is not their Apollinari-Monophysite view of Christ; it is the application they think they can make to Mary.”

    As any fair reader can see, the entire point of my series was to address Prejean’s implicit Marian agenda. His charge of Nestorianism was intended solely to bring us back in line with his cyrillene Mariolatry in the hope that we would be forced logically to grant Mary all the perceived attendent privileges of the title “mother of God.” I cracked his foundation, and he has been struggling ever since to overcome that crack. As a result, he has gotten stuck in the mud of Ephesus rather than proceed to his hoped-for Marian ramifications.

    I wrote: “Prejean has consistently refused to address this issue from a biblical standpoint.”

    Prejean responded: “And quite proudly I might add. I reject your concept of Scriptural authority, so it would be thoroughly inconsistent of me to debate you on a ground I don't recognize.”

    This is what is at the core of the issue. Prejean isn’t “proud” he in incapable of exegesis—he’s embarrassed by it. Notice what he’s forced to say here—he doesn’t recognize Scripture as an authority. Yet, at least on paper, Roman Catholicism has always recognized the primacy of Scripture; and it explicitly states that it is subject and subservient to Scripture. And notice I have not asked Prejean to adopt sola Scriptura—I’m merely asking him whether his view is biblical. But for the sake of argument, let’s not grant Scripture any authority. Let’s just take it as a historical document, the same way we take the councils as historical documents. Let’s just see if we can determine what the writers of the New Testament have to say about Mary’s status and role. Is it Prejean’s view they share, or is it mine? I think the answer in obvious, and I think Prejean knows this very well—which is why he is terrified to venture into that arena. He knows he would be quickly cured of his Mariolatry.

    “You call it "speculative" sophistry; Sts. Irenaeus, Athanasius, Augustine, Cyril, and Thomas Aquinas would have called it exegesis.”

    Augustine called your cyrillene concept of the incarnation vis-à-vis Mary’s status “exegesis”? Where? Irenaeus called your cyrillene concept of the incarnation vis-à-vis Mary’s status “exegesis”? Where? Irenaeus expressly denied Mary’s perpetual virginity as well as her immaculate conception and sinlessness. Are you sure you want to go with Irenaeus’ exegesis? Augustine also denied your cyrillene understanding of Mary’s status. Here is what Augustine said:

    "At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity" (Tract. in Ioannem CXIX, 1).

    Here is what Augustine said:

    "It was as if [Jesus] said [in John 2], ‘You did not give birth to my power of working miracles, it was not you who gave birth to my divinity. But you are the mother of all that is weak in me" (Tract. in Ioannem VII, 9.)

    Here is what Augustine said:

    "Why, then, said the Son to the mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come?" Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had. She was the mother, then, of His flesh, of His humanity, of the weakness which for our sakes He took upon Him. But the miracle which He was about to do, He was about to do according to His divine nature, not according to His weakness; according to that wherein He was God not according to that wherein He was born weak. But the weakness of God is stronger than men. His mother then demanded a miracle of Him; but He, about to perform divine works, so far did not recognize a human womb; saying in effect, "That in me which works a miracle was not born of thee, thou gavest not birth to my divine nature; but because my weakness was born of thee, I will recognize thee at the time when that same weakness shall hang upon the cross." This, indeed, is the meaning of "Mine hour is not yet come." . . . How then was He both David’s son and David’s Lord? David’s son according to the flesh, David’s Lord according to His divinity; so also Mary’s son after the flesh, and Mary’s Lord after His majesty. Now as she was not the mother of His divine nature, whilst it was by His divinity the miracle she asked for would be wrought, therefore He answered her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee?" (Tract. in Ioannem VIII, 9).

    “This just points to the fact that our concepts of Scriptural authority are fundamentally opposed to one another.”

    No; what is points to is that one of us is engaging in exegesis, and the other is engaging in eisegesis. Prejean states this as though he can avoid exegesis of the documents of the fifth-century councils. Why are they any more “obvious” in meaning than the Scriptures? Both are historical writings, after all. What makes one comprehensible and the other somehow incomprehensible? The answer is, nothing. The Scriptures are just as plainly written—rather, refreshingly more plainly written—than the convoluted speculations of the men too influenced by aristotelean categories to be of much help in expressing theological concepts in a biblically constrained way.

    “The people on whose interpretation I am relying were hardly "Biblical neophytes." The idea that Cyril or Augustine didn't perceive the wisdom of God in Scripture is certainly a thesis that you can advance, but as between you and they, I'll take them over you.”

    The problem for Prejean is that Augustine did not share Cyril’s view of this. Indeed, Cyril represents a Monophysite (or Apollinarian) school of thought on this that was rejected by many in his own day. Prejean’s attempt to pit some kind of “monolithic patristic view” over against mine fails because there was no monolithic view on this historically.

    “Nothing personal. Besides, if I am a "Biblical neophyte," then that would make you a "patristic ignoramus," so I'm not really sure you want to go here.”

    Yes, I do in fact want to go there, and will. I think it needs to be clarified here that Jonathan Prejean lacks requirement one to speak on these issues. He has no theological training to speak of; he has no patristic training to speak of; he has no knowledge of the primary languages to speak of. He has absolutely no training in any related discipline. Yet I am the “ignoramus,” and he styles himself as some sort of “expert.” Prejean is a lawyer. His area of specialty is patent law. While my field is not patristics, my formal training in biblical exegesis and theology required my immersion in historical texts and languages of classical antiquity. Prejean has no training in this—not even in a related discipline. He doesn’t seem to understand that whatever “exegesis” one uses to understand some historical documents (the councils) must be used to understand other historical documents (the New Testament). One cannot appeal to the “plain teaching” of one historical document (Ephesus) and at the same time appeal to the incomprehensibility of another (the New Testament). But that’s just what Prejean does, and that’s just what makes him a biblical neophyte.

    “The Fathers do plenty of exegesis, and they give plenty of explanation of their concepts of Scriptural authority. It's not my fault that you haven't read it. Someone well-versed in patristic theology would know the exegetical basis for my arguments. My apologies for assuming that you actually were a big enough boy to do your own reading, but I can't really do your homework for you.”

    Once again, we have an appeal to some “monolithic” view of the fathers on this issue as though there is such a thing. And once again we have a view on this issue that is conspicuously ill-informed by Scripture.

    “When I say that you are a "joke," I am speaking of your qualifications in patristic theology, which are laughable. Let's see how well your patristics bookshelf stacks up against mine.”

    What is “laughable” is that these words come from the pen of a man whom I have already shown has zero qualifications to speak on this—not even in a related discipline!

    “I'll take your use of the term "odd" as an admission that even you recognize it wouldn't make sense for me to advertise my own defeats.”

    This is true only if we are dealing with a rational person. There’s no accounting for what some people will do to pretend and convince others that they won a debate.

    “As for the appeal to my own authority, to who else's authority would I appeal? Ultimately, we all reason individually and we all give assent of the will freely; we are the ultimate arbiters of where our will is directed.”

    Exactly; well, at least he doesn’t deny he is Protestant in practice.

    “Nobody can represent a belief system other than his own;”

    And at least we now know that we aren’t here dealing with the RC position.

    “In Protestantism, of course, there are no such people. Hence, private judgment.”

    I guess the apostles aren’t really people. If I were as disingenuous and desperate as Prejean, I think I might use this statement as a full-blown frontal attack on Prejean’s inherent Gnosticism: “Look everyone; Prejean doesn’t really believe the apostles are people—in his view they only ‘seemed’ to be people; hence, he is a Docetist at heart. Therefore, we may rightly reject anything further he might say.” This is just the kind of idiotic, jack-chick style rationale Prejean engages in when he accuses Protestants of denying the incarnation or the divinty of the second person of the Trinity. And it is just the kind of rationale that was turned back on him recently by James White and then by Steve Hays. He rejects the charges against him, of course, but thinks he can still level them against everyone else with impunity.

    “Anyway, your misunderstanding on Catholic authority is somewhat beside the point. I have nothing to hide; I have never been anything other than willing to yield the field if you want to discuss matters of Biblical exegesis, because I don't share your concept of Scriptural authority. From my perspective, it's about as interesting to me as an argument from the Book of Mormon or the Qu'ran; we might as well be reading different books.”

    Amazing. Prejean has just admitted he relegates Scripture to the status of the Book of Mormon and the Quran; and yet he can still call himself Catholic and insist that he shares the views of the fathers. I would contend that this hits at the very heart of the matter. Prejean will gladly throw out and nullify Scripture for the sake of his tradition (Mark 7)—something the early-church writers would not dare do. But that’s just the problem with Prejean’s position. He admits here that there is no biblical basis for it—or at the very least that it’s not important to have a biblical basis for it. This is certainly not the official Roman Catholic view, whose practice of prooftexting these matters (although erroneously) at the very least demonstrates they think it important to have a biblical basis for the belief. Prejean admits he has no need for Scriptural support of his views; his staggering intellect can figure out the divine all by itself.

    I’ll go farther here. By this statement, Prejean has just defined himself out of biblical orthodoxy. Here is how the apostle John puts it: “We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error” (1 Jn 4:6). Prejean has admitted he just doesn’t care what the apostles have to say. He has admitted their voice is irrelevant to him. He has thereby placed himself in the category of “the spirit of error” and of those who are “not from God.” Hence, Prejean is a heretic, biblically defined; and as such his voice is to be utterly rejected by all truth-affirming people irrespective of denominational affiliation—whether Protestant, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox. He has disqualified himself to speak on these matters.

    But there’s an even more important point in all this. Again, I am not asking Prejean to adopt my view of Scriptural authority—I’m just asking him to show historically that those who walked with Christ on this earth and knew Mary personally affirmed Prejean’s views. He can’t do that, of course, because it is quite evident that the apostles did not share Prejean’s view on this issue. Quite the contrary; they are manifestly “Protestant” in their view. But if that’s the case, then the councils also just as manifestly erred in their definitions because they “ran ahead” of the apostles in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9).

    “I just want you to withdraw the inaccurate historical claims. There is a real historical belief system called Nestorianism, and you hold it. Perry knows it; I know it; why not just admit it? It makes no difference, and the admission doesn't even hurt you because you don't concede the authority of the councils anyway.”

    First of all, I gladly affirm Nestorius as completely orthodox—and always have—as do most patristic scholars and historical theologians, including Kelly, Pelikan, McGrath, and Brown. What Prejean is really asking me to do is concede what he and his cronies inanely and absurdly think are the attendent ramifications of that view, including a denial of Christ’s divinity—something I simply do not do. It is sophistry, plain and simple, that leads Prejean to assert that his ramifications are somehow “necessary consequents” of the view that we risk crossing a bridge too far if we attribute “divine motherhood” to Mary by virtue of her title as theotokos. Nestorius’ burden in his proposed use of the more accurate “Christ bearer” rather than the apollinarian “God bearer” was to promote Christ as God-Man rather than just God—something Cyril was too careless to understand rightly. And just as Nestorius did not concede Cyril’s sophistry, so also I will not concede Prejean’s sophistry in this. Nestorius’ overall position, as reported by mainstream patristioc scholars—was orthodox, and he was mush more biblically careful than Cyril.

    “[Biblical exegesis has] been done by many Catholics before me, and whenever it is done, the Catholic gets accused of eisegesis, because we think that a number of external criteria can be used that you do not.”

    Yes, like anachronistically appealing to a belief defined five hundred years after the biblical writers wrote. That’s somehow hailed as “sound exegesis. Imagine if we treated the Constitution that way—that is to say, the Constitution must have intended to uphold a woman’s right to an abortion because just look at all the people who hold to that view today! Yeah—that’s a sound approach to interpreting a historical document.

    “Well, sure, if the issue being judged turns on something in which knowledge of the original language is actually pertinent, but in that case, you have to be far more than simply competent in the language; you have to be a legitimate scholars of the period and that author's writings.

    Since Prejean is neither, one wonders why he even attempts it.

    “Contemporary Biblical scholarship isn't a passionate interest for me; I'm more interested in how Scripture has been understood over history than how it was understood at the time.”

    And how does Prejean know that contemporary biblical scholarship isn’t part of that historical understanding? For all we know, we’re *still* in the early church age; and someone reading this dialogue ten-thousand years from now may see Ephesus as a blip on the radar screen of theological development. Outside of his gratuitous presup that Rome is somehow infallible, on what basis does Prejean assume otherwise? And what if even those in the fifth-century held to Prejean’s attitiude; to wit, “Contemporary Biblical scholarship isn't a passionate interest for me; I'm more interested in how Scripture has been understood over history than how it was understood at the time.” Obviously, the fifth-century church did not view themselves as the “historic church.” The early church for them was the New Testament. Hence, their definitions are mere commentaries and theological formulations of what they believed the New Testament teaches. To view them in the romantic way Prejean does is to miss the point that these are mere men who did their best to understand Scripture and to put down formerly unknown contrary beliefs of their day, but who could and did err—not so much in their main definitions as in the baggage they attached to those definitions.

    “MY point was solely historical. In response, Eric Svendsen made a gratuitous claim that this was because I had no exegetical basis, and I'm entitled to simply deny it and demand proof, meaning he would actually have to dig into the patristic exegetical arguments and interact with them.”

    Here it is clear that Prejean is confusing exegesis with argument. Cyril and the defenders of his view make *arguments*; but that does not necessarily translate into *exegesis*. One can *argue* about the difference between *homoiousis* and *homoousis*, and he can do so in a biblically informed way; but one cannot *exegete* that difference biblically, because Scripture simply does not address such a thing. Once can argue whether *hypostasis* or *person* is the more appropriate term to use in reference to the union of man and God in Christ, but one cannot exegete that question biblically. One can argue whether the hypostatic union took place “from two natures” (Cyril’s view) or “in two nature” (the Antiochene view), but one cannot prove either one from Scripture. It’s based, rather, on sophist speculation.

    And my assertion that Prejean has no exegetical basis for his idiosyncratic views is far from gratuitous. He has admitted he is uninterested in what Scripture has to say about this matter, and if he were familiar with the biblical exegesis employed by Cyril and company, then why not just cite it? Why instead does Prejean dismiss the biblical evidence as irrelevant? I suspect it is because even if he has read the biblical rationale of Cyril and company, he doesn’t really understand those arguments well enough to reproduce them—and if he does not understadn them, then he cannot claim them as his own by proxy. The onus remains on Prejean to produce an exegetical basis for his beliefs on this if he is to remain within the bounds of biblical orthodoxy.

    “As I said, I can't do homework for people; to some extent, they have to be self-motivated if they want to get involved.”

    It seems this applies to everyone but Prejean.

    “All questions of purely historical interest go to the truth and falsehood of the purely historical claims, so if you are interested in the truth of purely historical claims (as I am), then this would be sufficient motivation.”

    If Prejean were really interested in “the truth of purely historical claims,” why does he consistently refuse to engage the “purely historical claims” of Scripture regarding this issue? After all, the New Testament is nothing if not a historical document, filled with historical claims. Why is this not “sufficient motivation” for him? Methinks he knows what he would find, and that he wouldn’t like it very much. He would then be forced to deal with the very real disparity between the teaching of Scripture and the traditions of men he has been promoting for so many years.

    “But anyway, to be consistent with your reasoning, Svendsen should withdraw his arguments (including Apollinarimonophysitism), Jason Engwer should withdraw his articles as well, and James White never should have said a word about Nicaea. You say you're not a relativist, but it sure seems like you have a "goose-gander" problem here. All I want is a withdrawal of the dubious historical claims. It serves no one to have the scholarship and the historical facts being obfuscated by poor handling.”

    Listen to me very carefully, Mr. Prejean. Scholarship does not consist of ignoring the established, published, and unrecanted views of the heavy hitters in favor of a decidedly partisan work (from what I’ve read of McGuckin, he has a vested interest in exonerating Cyril) that coincidentally—surprise!—happens to support your idiosyncratic views on this. Even Edward Oakes, who is otherwise sympathetic to McGuckin’s thesis, rejects the notion that Ephesus (Cyril) and Chalcedon (Antioch) are in agreement. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary. Hence, he affirms what modern patristic scholarship has always affirmed; namely, that Ephesus is pro-Cyril and Chalcedon is pro-Antioch. Indeed, he goes on to affirm that Cyril’s successors, detecting the pro-Antiochene theology of Chaldedon, rejected the council altogether and became Monophysites—and this is in spite of hs familiarity with the dazzling “unassailable” brilliance of McGuckin’s work!

    Here’s what might convince me of your position, Mr. Prejean: Write to the Kelly’s, the Pelikan’s, the McGrath’s, and the Brown’s of the world to correct their “obfuscation” and “poor handling” of historic facts. Once you do this, and once you secure from them letters of repentance indicating they have recanted their published views, then I will be happy to do the same. At this point, yours is nothing more than a “my scholars vs. yours” argument.

    And then keep in mind that even if you were able to accomplish all this, it proves nothing in regard to my own views. If Protestantism is Nestorian, it is on the Kelly-Pelikan-McGrath understanding of what Nestorius affirmed—all of whom affirm the orthodoxy of that position—not your understanding of it. If your understanding of the views of Nestorius wins the day, your charge is still unfounded since I do not subscribe, nor have I ever subscribed, to what you think Nestorius believed. Hence, whether your view on the history or mine ends up being right has absolutely no bearing on your false charges of Nestorianism. No Evangelical I know believes Christ was two persons (nor, according to most scholars, did Nestorius believe that). Rather, most (like me) simply prefer not to speculate about how the union between God and man takes place in Christ beyond what the Scriptures affirm, because these are areas that are simply not knowable in this life. So you’re left explaining how one is “unorthodox” who refuses to go beyond Scripture in his affirmations about the unknowable. In the meantime, you’ve defined yourself entirely out of the biblical definition of “Christian” by placing the authority and relevance of Scripture on par with the Quran.

    “If I think a Catholic is making a dubious historical argument, then I certainly will address that. I do it all the time.”

    Except that Prejean is completely blind to his own “dubious historical arguments,” such as Protestants deny the incarnation and divinity of Christ. No patristic scholar of repute would ever make that connection. Yet Prejean clearly does. Doesn’t integrity mean anything to Prejean?

    “I've found that most objections of this sort misunderstand the Catholic claim being made. In other words, the Protestants thinks the Catholic is making a certain sort of claim, but the Catholic isn't.”

    Well, isn’t this familiar? Now substitute every instance of “Catholic” for “Protestant,” and vice versa, and you have Prejean in a nutshell—a immenently appropriate place for someone like Prejean.

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  50. Forgive the spelling errors in my last post; I'm well aware they are there.

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  51. Forgive the spelling errors in my last post; I'm well aware they are there.

    If only you could say the same thing about the logical and factual errors.
    Let me give you a hand with that.

    Now, I'm back off to celebrating Christ Incarnate! :-)

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  52. Yep, Prejean's an idiot....

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