Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sola Ecclesia

(submitted on behalf of Steve Hays)

Several years ago, Philip Blosser wrote a thoroughgoing critique of sola scriptura entitled:

“Philosophical and Practical Problems with Sola Scriptura.”

At a later date he posted his article online:

http://www.lrc.edu/rel/blosser/Sola.htm

I then posted a reply:

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/12/by-scripture-alone_116761459386808418.html

And he, in turn, posted a rejoinder.

http://catholictradition.blogspot.com/2007_01_01_archive.html#116811942690127319

This is my surrejoinder.

It’s not quite as longwinded as it looks, for a fair amount of the word count involves me quoting him quoting me quoting him.

Because our arguments and counterarguments are so intercalated at this point, there’s not much opportunity to cut it down.

I’ve responded to most of what he’s said. I’ve skipped over a few things where I either thought it was becoming redundant or where I felt that we’d pursued a particular matter as far as it needed to go.

I doubt many readers will complain that it should have been longer.

Download the Acrobat PDF or the Microsoft Reader version.

(Future versions of this document, and Steve Hays' other downloadable writings including This Joyful Eastertide: A Critical Review of The Empty Tomb, can be found here as well.)

19 comments:

  1. Forgive me, but Charles Sebold is not a cute pun on Charles The Bold, is it?

    I'm serious though embarrassed to ask...

    Peace,
    ALAN

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have the luxury here of sitting back while two heretical positions duke it out. Still, I can't resist a few comments.

    Blosser puts forward a very well thought out and scholarly critique of sola scriptura. Occasionally tainted by a distinctly Roman Catholic (as opposed to Orthodox) viewpoint.

    In response, Steve weighs in as if in a bar room brawl, throwing wild punches hoping one might hit home.

    Here's where Blosser hits his home run:

    "First, if all bindingly authoritative oral instruction ceased with the death of the last apostle, and if the early churches did not have copies of all the NT books until well after that time, who spoke for the Lord Jesus and the apostles in the interim? Second, how is one to plausibly imagine the transition from the partially oral framework of authoritative instruction (OT + teachings of Jesus and apostles) to a wholly written framework (OT + NT) required by this hypothesis?"

    Steve then goes on to obfuscate about the canon being a tradition (this is becoming quite a pattern).

    >Evangelicals don’t deny that
    >apostolic tradition is
    >authoritative. But we don’t have
    >any oral apostolic tradition. Paul
    >was writing in the 1C. All we have
    >at this stage of the game is
    >written apostolic tradition.

    Ahh, except that the authorship of scripture as apostolic is an oral tradition that apparently Steve finds eminently trustworthy.

    >ii) In addition, how does
    >Catholicism verify that an oral
    >tradition is apostolic or
    >dominical?

    How does the protestant verify the oral tradition as to which books are apostolic and scriptural?

    Paul says to hold to the writings and the oral traditions. The very same argument that causes you to disbelieve oral tradition logically would lead you to abandon scripture too.

    >i) This makes unwarranted
    >assumptions about the rate of
    >dissemination. We know, for
    >example, that Paul had couriers
    >who transported his letters a
    >considerable distance.

    Which is irrelevant. Some traditions have apostles going as far as India and England. If there were formative churches this far out during the apostolic period, think of the consequences. Prior to the enscripturation being complete, churches would have had to rely on the oral teachings coming from the apostles or from other bishops or leaders in the church. This means there would one day have to be the "BIG CUTOVER", where churhes no longer rely on their received oral instructions, cast away anything unscriptural, and move into the new world of sola scriptura. At least that is the picture that protestants paint.

    1) Nobody may ever know when the last apostle died. If they were lucky they MAY have heard a rumour concerning every last apostle. But if one got crucified in some backwater, you never know if they could turn up toting new scripture. Even if you did hear a rumour, are you going to make the big cut-over from oral authority to sola scriptura based on that?

    2) Now the apostles, unless they are stupid, must be aware that (1) may occur. They would have to carefully plan and teach the BIG CUTOVER. Of course this never happened.

    3) You never know when new scripture is going to turn up. For all you know, after hearing a rumor that the last apostle died, someone might turn up from India in a hundred years time with incontrovertible proof that a document unknown in your area is scripture. Don't throw out those icons folks, because the support may turn up any day now!

    4) Even if the written documents got to you fairly soon, it could already be a copy of a copy of a copy down to six or seven generations or more in an outlying church. The oral claim that would go along with the document purporting to be apostolic would also be 6th hand information. It could take many more decades in those outlying areas to even get a modicum of reassurance from a 1st hand source (if they are still alive then) that this document really was apostolic.

    5) Even if they knew it was apostolic in some sense, they had no developed doctrine on anything apostolic being scripture. For all we know, the apostles wrote a bunch of other stuff that God did not intend to be scriptural or infallible. So even if a bona fide apostolic document turned up, it would not necessarily indicate it was an infallible rule of faith, or else you wouldn't know what was the criteria anyway.

    In short, the "BIG CUTOVER" from oral instruction to sola scriptura never occured, it was never taught by the apostles that it should occur, it was implausible that it would ever work, and it was implausible that anybody would know to do it, or know when they should do it. In short, it is game over for Sola Scriptura.


    >"Catholicism denies
    >that a Christian can be certain of
    >his salvation. So the parallel
    >undercuts the very thing it’s
    >adduced to support.

    I couldn't resist commenting on this. Reformed Christians can have no more certainty of salvation than any other kind of Christian. And folks like James White have more or less admitted as much.

    Reformed Christians say that Christians can't fall away. The trouble is, Christians appear to fall away all the time. So reformed Christians say that they were never true Christians in the first place. The next question to ask is if I am one of these pretend Christians that might fall away. At this point, the reformed Christian has to admit that yes, they may be deceiving themselves, and they could actually be a non-Christian. At this point things could become troubling because if they aren't a Christian, there may not be anything they can do about it, since it is God who regenerates, and they don't have a say in it. So at this point, they start thinking to themselves "Well, if I wasn't a Christian, I probably wouldn't be having these worries, thus my concern indicates I must be a Christian". Trouble is, some who have fallen away have also had these thoughts, but fell away anyway. Then if they're struggling with any sins or difficulties, or lack of faith, they might get themselves into a dither about whether they are really a Christian anyway, and if they're not whether they can do anything anyway.

    So don't tell us that reformed Christians have certainty of salvation, because it ain't true.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Forgive me, but Charles Sebold is not a cute pun on Charles The Bold, is it?

    I'm serious though embarrassed to ask...

    Peace,
    ALAN


    Well, he is quite bold, but his name is no mere pun! :-) It (and he) are quite real.

    ReplyDelete
  4. ORTHODOX SAID:

    "Blosser puts forward a very well thought out and scholarly critique of sola scriptura. Occasionally tainted by a distinctly Roman Catholic (as opposed to Orthodox) viewpoint. In response, Steve weighs in as if in a bar room brawl, throwing wild punches hoping one might hit home."

    Orthodox substitutes a tendentious characterization in lieu of an argument. My reply is heavily footnoted with copious references to the relevant scholarship—much of it Catholic.

    "Steve then goes on to obfuscate about the canon being a tradition (this is becoming quite a pattern)."

    Another tendentious characterization in lieu of an argument (this is becoming quite a pattern).

    What I did was to draw an intellectually unimpeachable distinction between internal and external evidence.

    Internal evidence includes evidence for the date, authorship, and intertextuality of the canonical books within the text of Scripture.

    External evidence is a form of historical evidence, which involves several different lines of historical evidence, viz., archaeology, textual criticism, the church fathers, &c.

    Orthodox's complaint is simply an anti-intellectual objection to essential and unavoidable distinctions involving different kinds and lines of evidence.

    "Ahh, except that the authorship of scripture as apostolic is an oral tradition that apparently Steve finds eminently trustworthy."

    A lot of muddled-thinking in one sentence:

    i) I didn't describe the authorship of Scripture as apostolic. Some is, some isn't. Nothing apostolic about the Pentateuch. Or Isaiah. Or the Psalter.

    ii) The apostolic attributions are not due to oral tradition. Rather:

    a) Certain NT books directly claim to be written by apostles (Matthew; John; Pauline, Petrine, and Johannine epistles—as well as the Apocalypse).

    b) External attestation comes from *written* sources (church fathers, Muratorian Fragment, &c.), not *oral* sources.

    "How does the protestant verify the oral tradition as to which books are apostolic and scriptural?"

    i) I already addressed that misguided question (see above).

    ii) And notice, once more, that Orthodox punts the question rather than defending his own position.

    "Paul says to hold to the writings and the oral traditions. The very same argument that causes you to disbelieve oral tradition logically would lead you to abandon scripture too."

    This is an allusion to 2 Thes 2:15.

    2 Thessalonians is generally dated to around AD 50-51.

    This is not a reference to oral *tradition,* but oral *transmission.*

    And it's made with reference to the early NT church.

    To transfer that reference from the c. 50 AD situation of the NT church to a 7C church father like Isidore of Seville or an 8C church father like John of Damascus is grossly anachronistic.

    You couldn't run across a better specimen of quoting a verse out of context. At the very least, the Catholic or Orthodox apologist would need to devote a lot of time and attention to showing that the circumstances were relevantly analogous in time and place.

    "Which is irrelevant. Some traditions have apostles going as far as India and England."

    Traditions or legends?

    "If there were formative churches this far out during the apostolic period, think of the consequences."

    How about some probative evidence to substantiate the "if" clause?

    "Prior to the enscripturation being complete, churches would have had to rely on the oral teachings coming from the apostles or from other bishops or leaders in the church."

    i) He's equivocating. The NT was inscripturated in the 1C. How does one extrapolate from oral teaching in the 1C to the 7-8C?

    ii) And there's an obvious tension in his argument which I already pointed out with reference to Blosser:

    It takes a person to get a NT document in the hands of a church. It also takes a person to orally communicate a message.

    The lines of transmission are identical.

    Therefore, it's nonsensical to insist that the transmission of Scripture would lag far behind the oral tradition or oral teaching.

    If Paul can send a person to speak on his behalf, then he can send a letter by that very same individual, or another individual. Same with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

    It doesn't take any longer to send a person with document than to send a person without a document. So there's no logistical difference between oral and written communication.

    "This means there would one day have to be the "BIG CUTOVER", where churhes no longer rely on their received oral instructions, cast away anything unscriptural, and move into the new world of sola scriptura. At least that is the picture that protestants paint."

    I already addressed this caricature with reference to Blosser. Orthodox is evidently too inept to respond to my argument.

    "Now the apostles, unless they are stupid, must be aware that (1) may occur. They would have to carefully plan and teach the BIG CUTOVER."

    A false forced option. What they would have been careful to plan for is the inscripturation of their essential teachings.

    "You never know when new scripture is going to turn up. For all you know, after hearing a rumor that the last apostle died, someone might turn up from India in a hundred years time with incontrovertible proof that a document unknown in your area is scripture."

    Several issues:

    i) How is that hypothetical supposed to be a problem for Protestantism, but not for Orthodoxy?

    What would the Orthodox do in that situation?

    ii) How does that hypothetical undermine sola Scriptura?

    If a long lost epistle of Paul were discovered and duly authenticated, then it would be incorporated into the NT canon.

    Since a letter by Paul is Scripture, it would in no way undercut sola Scriptura to include a long lost epistle of Paul in the canon of Scripture.

    "Even if the written documents got to you fairly soon, it could already be a copy of a copy of a copy down to six or seven generations or more in an outlying church. The oral claim that would go along with the document purporting to be apostolic would also be 6th hand information."

    How does the parallel between a 7th generation MS and a 7th generation oral tradition support the cause of Orthodoxy?

    "Even if they knew it was apostolic in some sense, they had no developed doctrine on anything apostolic being scripture. For all we know, the apostles wrote a bunch of other stuff that God did not intend to be scriptural or infallible. So even if a bona fide apostolic document turned up, it would not necessarily indicate it was an infallible rule of faith, or else you wouldn't know what was the criteria anyway."

    This ground is been covered many times over in the standard evangelical literature.

    "Reformed Christians can have no more certainty of salvation than any other kind of Christian."

    Even if this were true, so what? Calvinism never says that only a Calvinist can be saved.

    So, in principle, every true believer can enjoy the same assurance of salvation.

    But, at another level, some theological traditions suppress the assurance of salvation.

    "Reformed Christians say that Christians can't fall away."

    Actually, that goes back to the Bible. We simply say what Scripture says.

    "So reformed Christians say that they were never true Christians in the first place."

    Actually, that goes back to the Bible. We simply say what Scripture says.

    BTW, can an Orthodox believer know that he is saved?

    How does he verify that he has received a valid baptism? Or rite of communion?

    "At this point, the reformed Christian has to admit that yes, they may be deceiving themselves, and they could actually be a non-Christian."

    I've blogged on this issue on several different occasions. Orthodox jumps in as if he's raising novel objections which none of us has never encountered before, much less addressed.

    Same way with Paul and James. I've posted material by Moo and Stein on this issue in my debate with Rosa. It's all in the archives.

    Orthodox is a newcomer raising oft-stated, oft-refuted objections.

    "So don't tell us that reformed Christians have certainty of salvation, because it ain't true."

    I didn't say one way or the other in my reply to Blosser since that wasn't the issue. Rather, the issue was whether Catholicism enjoys a superior level of certainty.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Orthodox said:

    "At least that is the picture that protestants paint."

    When you see Orthodox make a comment like the one above, he probably just mischaracterized Protestant belief, so that he could burn a straw man. He does that a lot.

    ReplyDelete
  6. >Orthodox substitutes a tendentious characterization in lieu of an
    >argument. My reply is heavily footnoted with copious references to the
    >relevant scholarship—much of it Catholic.


    Lots of footnotes does not necessarily result in a well thought out coherent treatise.

    >What I did was to draw an intellectually unimpeachable distinction between
    >internal and external evidence.
    >

    >Internal evidence includes evidence for the date, authorship, and
    >intertextuality of the canonical books within the text of Scripture.
    >

    >External evidence is a form of historical evidence, which involves several
    >different lines of historical evidence, viz., archaeology, textual
    >criticism, the church fathers, &c.


    For all the buzzword compliance of the above paragraph, the sum total of the internal and external evidence won't give you any more evidence for the authorship of scripture than you will get for the apostolicity of many Orthodox traditions. If it were we wouldn't have so much modern scholarship challenging the traditional understandings of authorship. Scholarship, whose unbelief, is parallel to Protestantism's unbelief in the apostolic tradition.

    >Orthodox's complaint is simply an anti-intellectual objection to essential
    >and unavoidable distinctions involving different kinds and lines of >evidence.


    It's not anti-intellectual to point out that the hard evidence is no longer extant.

    >"Ahh, except that the authorship of scripture as apostolic is an oral >tradition that apparently Steve finds eminently trustworthy."
    >
    > lot of muddled-thinking in one sentence:
    >

    >i) I didn't describe the authorship of Scripture as apostolic. Some is,
    >some isn't. Nothing apostolic about the Pentateuch. Or Isaiah. Or the
    >Psalter.


    Right, which multiplies the problems for you, because you not only have to identify authorship, but also the apostolic approval of a document such as Luke or Mark.

    >ii) The apostolic attributions are not due to oral tradition. Rather:
    >
    >a) Certain NT books directly claim to be written by apostles (Matthew;
    >John; Pauline, Petrine, and Johannine epistles—as well as the Apocalypse).


    Of course, a claim is pretty worthless by itself given the vast numbers of pseudepigraphal writings in circulation at the time.

    >b) External attestation comes from *written* sources (church fathers,
    >Muratorian Fragment, &c.), not *oral* sources.


    And where did those church fathers get their information? Either it was the oral tradition as I said, or else you simply don't know, which makes it even more worthless from the point of view of someone who is skeptical of the oral tradition.


    >"How does the protestant verify the oral tradition as to which books are >apostolic and scriptural?"
    >

    >i) I already addressed that misguided question (see above).


    This was supposed to be some kind of answer? Being buzzword compliant by name dropping such things as the Muratorian Fragment does not even begin to provide an answer. I mean here you are quoting a particular church father that supposedly disagrees with some Orthodox doctrine as being fatal to the idea of apostolic tradition. But in the next breath you are referring to the Muratorian fragment which, for example, enumerates the books written by Paul and does not include Hebrews, which was traditionally included on the basis of Paul's authority. So to be consistent, Steve ought to be rejecting Hebrews as a probable apocryphal addition to the canon.

    >ii) And notice, once more, that Orthodox punts the question rather than
    >defending his own position.>
    >
    >"Paul says to hold to the writings and the oral traditions. The very same
    >argument that causes you to disbelieve oral tradition logically would lead
    >you to abandon scripture too."
    >
    >This is an allusion to 2 Thes 2:15.
    >

    >2 Thessalonians is generally dated to around AD 50-51.
    >

    >This is not a reference to oral *tradition,* but oral *transmission.*


    The verse refers to "traditions" that were transmitted by "spoken word". That is oral tradition by any definition.

    >And it's made with reference to the early NT church.
    >
    >To transfer that reference from the c. 50 AD situation of the NT church to >a 7C church father like Isidore of Seville or an 8C church father like >John of Damascus is grossly anachronistic.


    If it's grossly anachronistic that the 7th century church could have maintained traditions from the apostles, then it is equally anachronistic that 2nd, 3rd or 4th century church fathers could maintain traditions about the authorship and authority of scripture. But these are the same authorities being quoted as suddenly scholarly reliable historical sources. But as soon as they start talking about the apostolic traditions, they are grossly irresponsible heretics who won't obey scripture.

    >You couldn't run across a better specimen of quoting a verse out of
    >context. At the very least, the Catholic or Orthodox apologist would need
    >to devote a lot of time and attention to showing that the circumstances
    >were relevantly analogous in time and place.


    And such is the typical argument always proposed by the modernists, that such and such a scripture would be anachronistic to apply to their own space and time. Of course, if the burden of proof always rested on someone to prove that an apostolic admonition was applicable to them, we might quite easily dispense with the entire NT, at least until sufficient scholarship is brought forward that we might start obeying it again.

    Of course, the challenge I put forward previously is again ignored. If 1 Th 2:15 is no longer applicable, please tell us what date and what year its applicability ceased, then show us the sola scriptura verse that tells us so. Then tell us how the "BIG CUTOVER" was supposed to work.

    >"Which is irrelevant. Some traditions have apostles going as far as India
    >and England."
    >

    >Traditions or legends?


    Could be either, but unless you can prove them false, the BIG CUTOVER has big problems.

    >"If there were formative churches this far out during the apostolic
    >period, think of the consequences."
    >

    >How about some probative evidence to substantiate the "if" clause?


    It's funny how protestants (witness Josh McDowell of "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" as a high profile example) are quite happy to quote the tradition on what happened to the apostles as an apologetic argument, but as soon as it might pose a problem for them, we have Steve here pretending it's all rubbish.

    Either the information about what happened to the apostles was disseminated and true about these widespread journies (in which case you have the problems I discussed). Or else NOBODY KNEW, which is much much worse for your BIG CUTOVER. Choose your poison.

    >"Prior to the enscripturation being complete, churches would have had to
    >rely on the oral teachings coming from the apostles or from other bishops
    >or leaders in the church."
    >

    >i) He's equivocating. The NT was inscripturated in the 1C. How does one
    >extrapolate from oral teaching in the 1C to the 7-8C?


    My above statement is about the 1st century.

    >ii) And there's an obvious tension in his argument which I already pointed
    >out with reference to Blosser:
    >

    >It takes a person to get a NT document in the hands of a church. It also
    >takes a person to orally communicate a message.
    >

    >The lines of transmission are identical.
    >

    >Therefore, it's nonsensical to insist that the transmission of Scripture
    >would lag far behind the oral tradition or oral teaching.


    False, because churches were set up prior to enscripturation and prior to the completion of enscripturation.

    >If Paul can send a person to speak on his behalf, then he can send a
    >letter by that very same individual, or another individual. Same with
    >Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


    That doesn't get you out of the BIG CUTOVER.

    Firstly, churches were being set up everywhere by many bishops prior to even Paul penning his first letter, let alone the last book being finished. Secondly, even if you got a letter from Paul, let's say Colossians, along with Paul's complete oral teaching, this letter alone is hardly going to be a comprehensive basis for sola scriptura. Thirdly, the lines of transmission for every book and every part of the oral tradition are going to be different. For example, just because Paul never writes synoptic gospel-like material, doesn't mean he wasn't aware of it and preaching it orally to the churches. Some churches may have the entire oral tradition long before having the full written scriptures.

    >It doesn't take any longer to send a person with document than to send a
    >person without a document. So there's no logistical difference between
    >oral and written communication.


    This assumes what you havn't proven which is that Paul always sent people out with every scrap of gospel knowledge that he had. This is not only unproven, it is bordering on sillyness. It means either that Paul wasn't aware of synoptic gospel type material of what Jesus did, or else that he carefully wrote it all down in "the Gospel according to Paul", but it got lost in the early church, despite him apparently sending it to every church he went to.

    >>"This means there would one day have to be the "BIG CUTOVER", where
    >>churhes no longer rely on their received oral instructions, cast away
    >>anything unscriptural, and move into the new world of sola scriptura. At
    >>least that is the picture that protestants paint."
    >I already addressed this caricature with reference to Blosser. Orthodox is
    >evidently too inept to respond to my argument.


    Let's look at this supposed argument:

    >What is ridiculous is the assumption that orality preceded textuality, as
    >if you had to have an oral stage of transmission prior to a textual stage.
    >

    >But orality and textuality existed side-by-side. The Apostles preached the
    >gospel as well as writing letters.

    Of course, this is immediately and thoroughly refuted by 1 Thessalonians 2:15! If the apostle believed that oral tradition was an unreliable witness, and if he also knew that he had passed on the fullness of his knowledge in writing, then it would be redundant, not to say foolhardy, to tell his newly formed churches to hold to an unreliable witness.

    And the even bigger problem is that the NT was not written all in one day. Most seem to date the Gospel of John to 90-100AD. But the Gospel of John is often considered to be the only clear, if not only certain and indisputable witness to the full deity of Jesus Christ. Without this witness, a hypothetical sola scriptura church in the year 70AD could be bogged down in theological arguments at best, or having an even lower Christology than Arius at worst.

    Or what if your church was founded by the apostle James in the far flung reaches of the world, and all he left you with was the epistle of James? Five minutes after he heads off, the church has to abandon salvation by faith for its new sola scriptura, epistle of James gospel.

    Or what if your church was founded by the apostle Philip in some far flung corner of the world? Then you are truely out of luck, because he didn't leave any writings at all. In fact of the twelve apostles, maybe only two or three left us any scripture at all. Apparently they didn't subscribe to Steve's idea that if you're going to go set up churches, you may as will tell them everything in writing, because it's just as easy. Or maybe Steve thinks most of the apostles went back to fishing, in which case we'd better get Josh McDowell to reissue his books.

    >"Now the apostles, unless they are stupid, must be aware that (1) may
    >occur. They would have to carefully plan and teach the BIG CUTOVER."
    >

    >A false forced option. What they would have been careful to plan for is
    >the inscripturation of their essential teachings.


    Which apparently most of them didn't do. And that which they did do, they didn't plan very well, because they left too many ambiguous teachings for protestants to argue over later on. God forbid that we should think that they planned to set up a Spirit led Church to guard the entire deposit of faith that would be able to clarify these ambiguities in their written legacy.

    >"You never know when new scripture is going to turn up. For all you know,
    >after hearing a rumor that the last apostle died, someone might turn up
    >from India in a hundred years time with incontrovertible proof that a
    >document unknown in your area is scripture."
    >

    >Several issues:
    >

    >i) How is that hypothetical supposed to be a problem for Protestantism,
    >but not for Orthodoxy?


    Because we assume that the apostles left all the essentials in every church orally. But nobody can claim everything is in any one book of the new testament. As a Sola Scripturist living there in 100 AD confused about whether scripture taught child baptism, you can't rule out that Indian document coming and clarifying the issues.

    >ii) How does that hypothetical undermine sola Scriptura?


    If you were the bishop of a church, an old man, who KNEW that Paul taught you child baptism, but you had to convince your sola scriptura congregation, who didn't believe you, and thought that scripture taught believer baptism, then you've got a problem. You'd have to give in and teach heresy. Thus the mob of false personal interpretation (which you and I both know exists) would have to overrule an eyewitness to the truth. (You can switch "child" for "believer" in the above hypothetical to suit your own prejudices.)

    >If a long lost epistle of Paul were discovered and duly authenticated,
    >then it would be incorporated into the NT canon.


    But you can't practice sola scriptura without the whole canon. What if your congregation is praying to saints because they reckon Paul taught it orally, but you can't discipline them for it, because the hypothetical Indian document might turn up? You could be heretically teaching them the wrong thing to discipline them. You could be teaching contrary to the apostle, which some of your congregation is claiming taught them. So without knowing that you have the fullness of truth, there can't be any church discipline. We believe that the apostles gave the fullness of truth to every church they founded orally. You believe the fullness of truth is in the entire body of scripture. Prior to the canon being finalized, nobody could know the full range of information and teachings that the final canon might contain except if you believe in a fullness of oral tradition too.

    And another problem is that scripture doesn't outline the rationale for what ought to be contained in scripture. There is no scripture that says documents written by apostles or approved by apostles are candidates, and the only candidates for new scripture. So even if you had extensive knowledge in the first century of who wrote what, it doesn't really tell you what is a scriptural source of authority. Thus we had people adding the epistle of Clement and Shepherd of Hermes to the authoritative literature. And we could have had people excluding Luke and Mark because they were only 2nd hand apostolic. The final formula for what makes a good candidate to be scripture is itself an extra-scriptural Tradition.

    >>"Even if the written documents got to you fairly soon, it could already be
    >>a copy of a copy of a copy down to six or seven generations or more in an
    >>outlying church. The oral claim that would go along with the document
    >>purporting to be apostolic would also be 6th hand information."
    >

    >How does the parallel between a 7th generation MS and a 7th generation
    >oral tradition support the cause of Orthodoxy?


    It supports it in this way: Faith can accept a truth passed on through many generations. But someone demanding historically verifiable facts, there is no truth left for you at all.


    >"Reformed Christians say that Christians can't fall away."
    >

    >Actually, that goes back to the Bible. We simply say what Scripture says.


    Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to FALL AWAY from the living God.

    James 5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


    > BTW, can an Orthodox believer know that he is saved?


    How can he know for certain he will never develop an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God?


    >How does he verify that he has received a valid baptism? Or rite of
    >communion?


    I think you're confounding Roman Catholicism with Orthodoxy again.

    ReplyDelete
  7. “Lots of footnotes does not necessarily result in a well thought out coherent treatise.”

    This statement does nothing to refute my reply to Blosser.

    “For all the buzzword compliance of the above paragraph, the sum total of the internal and external evidence won't give you any more evidence for the authorship of scripture than you will get for the apostolicity of many Orthodox traditions.”

    You aren’t giving us any evidence for the apostolicity of many Orthodox traditions. Instead, all you offer us is your ipse dixit in lieu of evidence.

    The internal and external lines of evidence for the canon of Scripture have been presented in many Evangelical monographs.

    Where is your parallel documentation for Orthodox tradition?

    “If it were we wouldn't have so much modern scholarship challenging the traditional understandings of authorship.”

    Challenges to tradition authorship aren’t based on the evidence. Rather, they’re either based on the postulate of orality preceding textuality—a postulate contrary to our knowledge of textuality in OT and NT times—or else a circular claim about “advanced theology,” or else a closed-system worldview which simply denies possibility and actuality of divine revelation.

    “Scholarship, whose unbelief, is parallel to Protestantism's unbelief in the apostolic tradition.”

    i) No, liberal scholarship is based on antisupernaturalism as well as fact-free historical reconstructions.

    ii) Evangelicals never denied apostolic tradition. To the contrary, we affirm apostolic tradition.

    What we deny is unverifiable appeals to oral apostolic tradition.

    “It's not anti-intellectual to point out that the hard evidence is no longer extant.”

    Hard evidence for the canon is still extant. Read Roger Beckwith, E. E. Ellis, Bruce Metzger, John Sailhamer, and David Trobisch—to name a few.

    “Right, which multiplies the problems for you, because you not only have to identify authorship, but also the apostolic approval of a document such as Luke or Mark.”

    i) Which is both doable, and has been done before.

    ii) And there’s not shortcut.

    You yourself can offer no ecumenical council (recognized by Orthodoxy) which gives you an infallible list of the canon—even if we accepted your ecclesiology.

    “Of course, a claim is pretty worthless by itself given the vast numbers of pseudepigraphal writings in circulation at the time.”

    i) As usual, when your original objection is challenged, you change the subject.

    ii) I’d add that the same thing can be said for patristic pseudepigrapha.

    “And where did those church fathers get their information? Either it was the oral tradition as I said, or else you simply don't know, which makes it even more worthless from the point of view of someone who is skeptical of the oral tradition.”

    You try to turn this into an all-or-nothing argument, which betrays a complete lack of rational discrimination on your part.

    One might as well say that we can’t believe anything Tacitus says unless we believe everything Tacitus says.

    Life is not as simpleminded as you would like it to be.

    “I mean here you are quoting a particular church father that supposedly disagrees with some Orthodox doctrine as being fatal to the idea of apostolic tradition.”

    You seem to be confusing something I said with something Engwer said—not that he’s said anything I’d disagree with in the course of this thread.

    “But in the next breath you are referring to the Muratorian fragment which, for example, enumerates the books written by Paul and does not include Hebrews, which was traditionally included on the basis of Paul's authority. So to be consistent, Steve ought to be rejecting Hebrews as a probable apocryphal addition to the canon.”

    i) I already discussed that issue in my reply to Blosser. Thanks for reminding everyone once again of your studied ignorance.

    ii) I’d also add that the absence of evidence in one source does not amount to contrary evidence. And it doesn’t erase the positive evidence elsewhere.

    You lack basic critical thinking skills.

    “The verse refers to ‘traditions’ that were transmitted by "spoken word". That is oral tradition by any definition.”

    You are equivocating over the definition of tradition. Paul, in context, is not referring to tradition in the sense of a diachronic oral tradition which is handed down from one generation to another.

    Rather, he is referring to synchronic oral teaching or transmission. This oral instruction is contemporaneous with the written material.

    Indeed, we only know about this because we have a written record in the form of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

    “If it's grossly anachronistic that the 7th century church could have maintained traditions from the apostles, then it is equally anachronistic that 2nd, 3rd or 4th century church fathers could maintain traditions about the authorship and authority of scripture. But these are the same authorities being quoted as suddenly scholarly reliable historical sources. But as soon as they start talking about the apostolic traditions, they are grossly irresponsible heretics who won't obey scripture.”

    Aside from your trademark use of evasive hyperbole, you are, once again, equivocating and changing the subject.

    The question at issue was not whether it is possible for a 7C church to maintain apostolic tradition.

    Rather, the question at issue is whether it is exegetically responsible to reassign 2 Thes 2:15 to a time and place entirely outside the historical purview and original circumstances of the mid-1C Thessalonian churches.

    “And such is the typical argument always proposed by the modernists, that such and such a scripture would be anachronistic to apply to their own space and time.”

    i) As usual, you’re attempting to weasel out of the original issue by equivocating and changing the subject.

    You are simply plugging *putative* apostolic tradition into 2 Thes 2:15, and thereby backdating legendary material to the NT church. But Paul is talking about *actual* apostolic tradition.

    ii) There is also a fundamental difference between what a verse denotes (the original, intended referent), and its possible, subsequent application. You are reading a possible application back into the referent, as if this is what the verse denotes.

    “If 1 Th 2:15 is no longer applicable, please tell us what date and what year its applicability ceased.”

    i) It ceased to be applicable when apostolic tradition was inscripturated, when those who actually heard the oral teaching of Paul or his immediate deputies (e.g. Timothy, Titus) had died, and when the concrete circumstances of the Thessalonian church which gave rise to this expedience had changed.

    ii) Oh, and please give us the precise dates for all of your Orthodox traditions.

    “Then show us the sola Scriptura verse that tells us so.”

    I’ve been over that ground with Blosser.

    “Then tell us how the "BIG CUTOVER" was supposed to work.”

    What about the BIG CUTOVER when the ecumenical councils came to an end?

    What about the BIG CUTOVER when the patristic era came to an end (with the death of the last church father, be it Latin or Greek)?

    How is the Orthodox BIG CUTOVER anything but purely arbitrary?

    “Could be either, but unless you can prove them false, the BIG CUTOVER has big problems.”

    The onus is hardly on me to disprove the legendary founding of the Indian Church by Thomas—any more than I’m under solemn obligation to disprove the Holy Grail or splinters of the True Cross or reliquary vials of the Virgin Mary’s milk, &c.

    To the contrary, the onus is on you to supply the actual, documentary evidence underlying that legend. Explain the chronological and geographical provenance of that legend, &c. What are your sources? What are their dates? Where did they come from? Have they been redacted?

    “It's funny how protestants (witness Josh McDowell of "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" as a high profile example) are quite happy to quote the tradition on what happened to the apostles as an apologetic argument, but as soon as it might pose a problem for them, we have Steve here pretending it's all rubbish.”

    i) I’m not Josh McDowell.

    ii) And let’s remember that Orthodox is extremely selective in what traditions he credits. He only credits Orthodox traditions.

    What about Gnostic traditions?

    iii) Indeed, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that the Indian church and the Anglican church are, in fact apostolic sees.

    According to Orthodox’s own reasoning, that would put them on par with the Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

    Does Orthodox, as a matter of fact, rank the church of England with Constantinople? Or India with Jerusalem? Hmm.

    “Either the information about what happened to the apostles was disseminated and true about these widespread journies (in which case you have the problems I discussed). Or else NOBODY KNEW, which is much much worse for your BIG CUTOVER. Choose your poison.”

    i) Another mindless all-or-nothing argument.

    ii) In addition, this disregards conflicting traditions regarding the careers of the various and sundry apostles.

    “False, because churches were set up prior to enscripturation and prior to the completion of enscripturation.”

    This is simplistic. Just as NT documents were written at different times, NT churches were planted at different times.

    “Firstly, churches were being set up everywhere by many bishops prior to even Paul penning his first letter, let alone the last book being finished.”

    Notice the anachronistic appeal to “bishops.”

    “Secondly, even if you got a letter from Paul, let's say Colossians, along with Paul's complete oral teaching, this letter alone is hardly going to be a comprehensive basis for sola scriptura.”

    A red herring. What is more, I already address that issue with Blosser.

    “For example, just because Paul never writes synoptic gospel-like material, doesn't mean he wasn't aware of it and preaching it orally to the churches.”

    Another red herring.

    “This assumes what you havn't proven which is that Paul always sent people out with every scrap of gospel knowledge that he had.”

    Yet another red herring. The question at issue is whether orality always precedes textuality.

    >But orality and textuality existed side-by-side. The Apostles preached the _>gospel as well as writing letters.

    “Of course, this is immediately and thoroughly refuted by 1 Thessalonians 2:15!”

    Orthodox suffers from a serious mental block. 1 Thes 2:15 is a textbook illustration of simultaneous oral and written communication. It is a written reference to oral teaching. And the entire letter is an early example of written instruction, contemporaneous with oral teaching.

    “If the apostle believed that oral tradition was an unreliable witness, and if he also knew that he had passed on the fullness of his knowledge in writing, then it would be redundant, not to say foolhardy, to tell his newly formed churches to hold to an unreliable witness.”

    i) A straw man argument. Paul doesn’t believe that his own oral instruction, or the oral instruction of his appointed delegates (e.g. Timothy, Titus), is unreliable.

    ii) That is completely irrelevant to the status of subapostolic tradition 50 years or more down the pike. They were not appointed directly by Paul to represent him. And they were not tutored directly by Paul.

    iii) That is not what 2 Thes 2:15 is referring to. The referent is to his own teaching, either in person, by writing, or by one of his deputized spokesmen.

    iv) BTW, the verse is question is 2 Thes 2:15, not 1 Thes 2:15. Orthodox could at least get the citation of his favorite prooftext correct.

    v) What is reliable in AD 50 and what is reliable in AD 500 are hardly interchangeable. Paul is, indeed, talking about the situation of his “newly formed churches,” and not far distant circumstances.

    vi) Oh, and ironically for Orthodox (as well as Blosser), it is precisely in the context of 2 Thessalonians that the danger of apostolic apocrypha first crops up (2:2; 3:17).

    “Most seem to date the Gospel of John to 90-100AD.”

    I date it to pre-70 AD, in agreement with Robinson and Barnett.

    “But the Gospel of John is often considered to be the only clear, if not only certain and indisputable witness to the full deity of Jesus Christ.”

    This betrays a tremendous ignorance of NT Christology.

    “Apparently they didn't subscribe to Steve's idea that if you're going to go set up churches, you may as will tell them everything in writing, because it's just as easy.”

    I’ve specifically and repeatedly refuted this caricature in my replies to Blosser.

    Apparently, Orthodox has the attention span of a five-year-old.

    On second thought, that’s unfair to five-year-olds.

    “Which apparently most of them didn't do.”

    “Apparently”? Is this the best that Orthodox can do?

    “And that which they did do, they didn't plan very well, because they left too many ambiguous teachings for protestants to argue over later on.”

    i) No, there’s nothing especially ambiguous about what they say. The ambiguity arises from what they left unsaid. In which case, this is a point of liberty.

    ii) And, at the risk of stating the obvious, let’s keep in mind that disagreement is a general human phenomenon, not a Protestant phenomenon in particular.

    Disagreements among Protestants are merely a tiny subset of disagreements among human begins generally and, indeed, universally.

    Human beings disagree about everything. No two people are identical in everything they believe.

    “God forbid that we should think that they planned to set up a Spirit led Church to guard the entire deposit of faith that would be able to clarify these ambiguities in their written legacy.”

    i) Rather, God forbid that we should put words in the mouth of God and sign his name to our own words—like the false prophets of yore.

    ii) And how does Orthodox identify the true church?

    “Because we assume that the apostles left all the essentials in every church orally.”

    “We assume”? Is that the best he can do?

    “As a Sola Scripturist living there in 100 AD confused about whether scripture taught child baptism, you can't rule out that Indian document coming and clarifying the issues.”

    If you want to toy with hypotheticals, then you can’t rule out the discovery of a long lost epistle by Paul which explicitly denies infant baptism in favor of believer’s baptism.

    “If you were the bishop of a church, an old man, who KNEW that Paul taught you child baptism, but you had to convince your sola scriptura congregation, who didn't believe you, and thought that scripture taught believer baptism, then you've got a problem.”

    This is a pseudoproblem generated by a fictitious hypothetical. And, as I just said, we can just as easily dream up hypothetical defeaters for Orthodoxy.

    “But you can't practice sola scriptura without the whole canon.”

    Why not?

    Anyway, one doesn’t have to practice sola Scriptura during the Apostolic age. Sola Scriptura represents the end-stage of God’s revelatory program (as I’ve explained to Blosser).

    “What if your congregation is praying to saints because they reckon Paul taught it orally, but you can't discipline them for it, because the hypothetical Indian document might turn up?”

    What if Athanasius was really a space alien from Alpha Centuri who was conducting a psychological experiment on earthlings?

    “We believe that the apostles gave the fullness of truth to every church they founded orally.”

    Everything but an argument.

    “You believe the fullness of truth is in the entire body of scripture.”

    No. Only as much as God intended for the governance of his people.

    “Prior to the canon being finalized, nobody could know the full range of information and teachings that the final canon might contain except if you believe in a fullness of oral tradition too.”

    So what? By the same token, OT Jews weren’t responsible for NT revelation.

    “And another problem is that scripture doesn't outline the rationale for what ought to be contained in scripture. There is no scripture that says documents written by apostles or approved by apostles are candidates, and the only candidates for new scripture. So even if you had extensive knowledge in the first century of who wrote what, it doesn't really tell you what is a scriptural source of authority.”

    I’ve discussed this sort of thing before—as have others.

    “Thus we had people adding the epistle of Clement and Shepherd of Hermes to the authoritative literature.”

    Thanks for reminding us that tradition is an unreliable guide to canonicity.

    “The final formula for what makes a good candidate to be scripture is itself an extra-scriptural Tradition.”

    Long on assertion, short on argument. Nothing but your ipse dixit.

    “Faith can accept a truth passed on through many generations. But someone demanding historically verifiable facts, there is no truth left for you at all.”

    So how do you know that what is passed on through many generations is a truth or a falsehood?

    “Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to FALL AWAY from the living God. James 5:20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”

    I’ve blogged on the perseverance of the saints many times.

    > BTW, can an Orthodox believer know that he is saved?

    “How can he know for certain he will never develop an unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God?”

    Okay, so at the end of the day, after all your endless carping about how Evangelicalism falls short of certainty, you admit that an Orthodox believer cannot be certain of his own salvation.

    Thus, even if we were to stipulate to all of your naked assertions, the most you could offer is institutional certainty rather than individual certainty. But if institutional certainty can’t translate into individual certainty, then wherein lies the advantage?

    “I think you're confounding Roman Catholicism with Orthodoxy again.”

    I think you’re confounding assertion with reason again.

    ReplyDelete
  8. >>“For all the buzzword compliance of the above paragraph, the sum total of the internal and
    >>external evidence won't give you any more evidence for the authorship of scripture than you
    >>will get for the apostolicity of many Orthodox traditions.”
    >
    >You aren’t giving us any evidence for the apostolicity of many Orthodox traditions. Instead,
    >all you offer us is your ipse dixit in lieu of evidence.


    The evidence is exactly the same as that for the apostolicity of scripture - the belief of the early church. Abandon one and you abandon the other.

    >The internal and external lines of evidence for the canon of Scripture have been presented in
    >many Evangelical monographs.


    The external lines mostly just amounts to the Tradition of the church. The internal evidence, generally amounts to little more than pointing out what the author said that makes us want to think it is who they claim to be. Something that pseudepigraphal writings were quite good at.

    So the historical method for determining canon which is here presented to us as some kind of science is nothing more making up your mind how much you trust the passed down Tradition (which is not at all judging by the folks here) plus how much you trust your ability to spot a forgery versus guessing how skillful a forger you are dealing with.

    This is no basis for authority at all.

    >“If it were we wouldn't have so much modern scholarship challenging the traditional
    >understandings of authorship.”
    >

    >Challenges to tradition authorship aren’t based on the evidence. Rather, they’re either based
    >on the postulate of orality preceding textuality—a postulate contrary to our knowledge of
    >textuality in OT and NT times—or else a circular claim about “advanced theology,” or else a
    >closed-system worldview which simply denies possibility and actuality of divine revelation.


    Nonsense. Utter nonsense. Scholars noting differences in style between say 2 Peter and 1 Peter has nothing to do with orality preceding textuality or denial of the possibility of revelation.

    >“Scholarship, whose unbelief, is parallel to Protestantism's unbelief in the apostolic
    >tradition.”
    >

    >i) No, liberal scholarship is based on antisupernaturalism as well as fact-free historical
    >reconstructions.


    Nobody mentioned liberal scholarship.

    >ii) Evangelicals never denied apostolic tradition. To the contrary, we affirm apostolic
    >tradition.


    Only the bits of it you choose to.

    >What we deny is unverifiable appeals to oral apostolic tradition.


    In that case you have no canon. You have insufficient evidence to verify the books in the canon. This is true for the NT, but is even more true for some books in the OT like Esther.

    >>“It's not anti-intellectual to point out that the hard evidence is no longer extant.”
    >
    >Hard evidence for the canon is still extant. Read Roger Beckwith, E. E. Ellis, Bruce Metzger,
    >John Sailhamer, and David Trobisch—to name a few.


    Whoa, now you're confounding the concepts of recognized canon, and apostolicity of books. Sure we can find out the canon of the church - a tradition. But that does not prove apostolicity. Metzger spends the pages of his book on the NT canon discussing who used what books in the Church. That goes very little way to proving which as apostolic.

    >>“Right, which multiplies the problems for you, because you not only have to identify
    >>authorship, but also the apostolic approval of a document such as Luke or Mark.”
    >

    >i) Which is both doable, and has been done before.


    Nonsense.

    >You yourself can offer no ecumenical council (recognized by Orthodoxy) which gives you an
    >infallible list of the canon—even if we accepted your ecclesiology.


    How many times must I say it? Orthodoxy needs no council to have infallible theology. All the folks here have displayed a gross ignorance of Orthodox theology. That's understandable I suppose, but it ought not be combined with the pride of some here who think they know all about it.

    >>“Of course, a claim is pretty worthless by itself given the vast numbers of pseudepigraphal
    >>writings in circulation at the time.”
    >
    >i) As usual, when your original objection is challenged, you change the subject.


    Nonsense.

    >ii) I’d add that the same thing can be said for patristic pseudepigrapha.


    Which is irrelevant. The Tradition is first and foremost living.

    >>“And where did those church fathers get their information? Either it was the oral tradition as
    >>I said, or else you simply don't know, which makes it even more worthless from the point of
    >>view of someone who is skeptical of the oral tradition.”
    >

    >You try to turn this into an all-or-nothing argument, which betrays a complete lack of
    >rational discrimination on your part.

    >

    >One might as well say that we can’t believe anything Tacitus says unless we believe everything
    >Tacitus says.


    Not at all. But you are the one skeptical about legends and oral traditions. These ECFs you look to as evidence of apostolicity never met an apostle. Thus their opinion is worth no more or less than their opinion of apostolic oral teachings, which you reject. I fully acknowledge you can believe an ECF about something they witnessed personally, while rejecting their idea of an oral tradition, but if you're going to reject some oral traditions and not others, it is purely arbitrary and inconsistent.


    >>“But in the next breath you are referring to the Muratorian fragment which, for example,
    >>enumerates the books written by Paul and does not include Hebrews, which was traditionally
    >>included on the basis of Paul's authority. So to be consistent, Steve ought to be rejecting
    >>Hebrews as a probable apocryphal addition to the canon.”
    >

    >i) I already discussed that issue in my reply to Blosser. Thanks for reminding everyone once
    >again of your studied ignorance.

    Thanks for pointing out the worthless "proof" you offered for the canonicity of Hebrews, which amounts to nothing more than that Hebrews name dropped Timothy (typical for Pseudepigrapha), and that he seemed to be Jewish (Whoopeee). If that's your criteria for canonicity, I've got a bunch more books for you to add.

    >ii) I’d also add that the absence of evidence in one source does not amount to contrary
    >evidence. And it doesn’t erase the positive evidence elsewhere.


    If the above is the level of positive historical evidence you have for Hebrews, it would hardly take much to overturn it.

    >You lack basic critical thinking skills.


    Gratuitous ad-hominem.

    >>“The verse refers to ‘traditions’ that were transmitted by "spoken word". That is oral
    >>tradition by any definition.”
    >
    >You are equivocating over the definition of tradition. Paul, in context, is not referring to
    >tradition in the sense of a diachronic oral tradition which is handed down from one generation
    >to another.

    Paul does not limit it to one or the other. He just says to hold to them. When is one generation supposed to end and another to start? That is a completely arbitrary distinction to try and make, akin to the sillyness of the failed BIG CUTOVER.

    >Rather, he is referring to synchronic oral teaching or transmission. This oral instruction is
    >contemporaneous with the written material.


    If he merely wanted to convey the idea of "material" he had emparted to them, he could have said to hold to the teachings. But he specifically used the word Traditions, because this was the way the truth was conveyed. The 12 apostles passed traditions onto them, he passes them onto churches. Traditions get handed down, that is the definition of the word: something that is handed down.

    >Indeed, we only know about this because we have a written record in the form of Paul’s letter
    >to the Thessalonians.


    No we also know it from the rest of the Tradition. It may be the only way YOU know it as a sola scripturalist.

    >>“If it's grossly anachronistic that the 7th century church could have maintained traditions
    >>from the apostles, then it is equally anachronistic that 2nd, 3rd or 4th century church
    >>fathers could maintain traditions about the authorship and authority of scripture. But these
    >>are the same authorities being quoted as suddenly scholarly reliable historical sources. But
    >>as soon as they start talking about the apostolic traditions, they are grossly irresponsible
    >>heretics who won't obey scripture.”

    >
    >Aside from your trademark use of evasive hyperbole, you are, once again, equivocating and
    >changing the subject.
    >
    >The question at issue was not whether it is possible for a 7C church to maintain apostolic
    >tradition.
    >

    >Rather, the question at issue is whether it is exegetically responsible to reassign 2 Thes
    >2:15 to a time and place entirely outside the historical purview and original circumstances of
    >the mid-1C Thessalonian churches.


    At least you admit it is exegesis, now the only question is how "responsible" it is.

    Of course, we're not dealing with an ordinary document here. We're dealing with one that is God breathed that God planned for instruction of the churches. I think a good test of "responsibility" is how an ordinary Christian might hear these words uttered outside of the polemics of a 15th century dogma about scripture unknown to the early church. Another good test of responsibility is how the BIG CUTOVER is supposed to apply and shift from an exegesis being responsible in the 1st C and irresponsible at some arbitrary later time, based on criteria unstated in the scripture itself.

    >>And such is the typical argument always proposed by the modernists, that such and such a
    >>scripture would be anachronistic to apply to their own space and time.”
    >

    >i) As usual, you’re attempting to weasel out of the original issue by equivocating and
    >changing the subject.


    It's not equivocating to notice the parallels between your disbelief and the disbelief of those you criticize. Hypocrisy is fatal to your argument.

    >You are simply plugging *putative* apostolic tradition into 2 Thes 2:15, and thereby
    >backdating legendary material to the NT church. But Paul is talking about *actual* apostolic
    >tradition.


    Legendary in your opinion. However these legends are of the same kind, from the same people and the same sources who say what books are apostolic. There is little objective reason to claim one is more reliable than the other.

    >ii) There is also a fundamental difference between what a verse denotes (the original,
    >intended referent), and its possible, subsequent application. You are reading a possible
    >application back into the referent, as if this is what the verse denotes.


    If that's true you have to supply a plausible transition from the original referent to the later referents. aka "THE BIG CUTOVER".

    >“If 1 Th 2:15 is no longer applicable, please tell us what date and what year its
    >applicability ceased.”
    >

    >i) It ceased to be applicable when apostolic tradition was inscripturated, when those who
    >actually heard the oral teaching of Paul or his immediate deputies (e.g. Timothy, Titus) had
    >died, and when the concrete circumstances of the Thessalonian church which gave rise to this
    >expedience had changed.


    Wow, three complicated criteria there, the third of which is quite arbitrary.

    Now Mr Sola Sciptura man, tell us the chapter and verse that teaches this doctrine.

    No, I didn't think so.

    And for your criteria to have even the slightest credibility as even a theory, you would have to:

    a) Prove the apostles taught these cutover criteria

    b) Prove that all the churches knew when enscripturation was complete.

    c) Prove that all the churches knew who all Paul's deputies were.

    d) Prove that all the churches knew when all the apostles and their deputies were dead.

    e) Prove that Paul's admonition to hold to the traditions was an instruction only meant for Thessalonika and not for say Corinth or India or other places.

    f) Prove what the supposed limited "concrete circumstances" are which limit its application.

    g) Prove that the all the churches could have known all these things.

    Of course you can't prove any of these things, your theory is unknown in the history of the church, its unfactual, its unworkable, its unsciptural and it never happened. In short, its a farce.

    >ii) Oh, and please give us the precise dates for all of your Orthodox traditions.


    What for? First and foremost, tradition is living. Dates are not primary.

    >>“Then tell us how the "BIG CUTOVER" was supposed to work.”
    >>
    >

    >What about the BIG CUTOVER when the ecumenical councils came to an end?


    You can't answer, so now you're trying to deflect back? Sorry, it won't work. It won't work because we don't have to repudiate the authority of ecumenical councils to move into a subsequent age, and more importanty the age of ecumenical councils hasn't ended as far as we know. This century we almost had the 8th ecumenical council, but in the end it came to nothing.

    >What about the BIG CUTOVER when the patristic era came to an end (with the death of the last
    >church father, be it Latin or Greek)?


    There is no such cutover in orthodox theology.

    >How is the Orthodox BIG CUTOVER anything but purely arbitrary?


    Orthodoxy has no cutovers.

    Now will you answer my question?????

    >>“Could be either, but unless you can prove them false, the BIG CUTOVER has big problems.”
    >

    >The onus is hardly on me to disprove the legendary founding of the Indian Church by Thomas—any
    >more than I’m under solemn obligation to disprove the Holy Grail or splinters of the True
    >Cross or reliquary vials of the Virgin Mary’s milk, &c.


    It does matter because if you can't prove what happened to the apostles, you can't know if the early church knew. And if they didn't know, your stated criteria which includes knowing when the apostles died, fails.

    >ii) And let’s remember that Orthodox is extremely selective in what traditions he credits. He
    >only credits Orthodox traditions.


    As you are highly selective in only crediting evidence that supports your canon.

    Of course we all know you didn't get your canon from a dispassionate examination of the evidence, rather you inherited it by tradition and now are backfilling with apologetic from history to avoid admitting to yourself that traditions have authority in your life.

    >iii) Indeed, let’s assume, for the sake of argument that the Indian church and the Anglican
    >church are, in fact apostolic sees.
    >
    >According to Orthodox’s own reasoning, that would put them on par with the Orthodox
    >Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem.

    >

    >Does Orthodox, as a matter of fact, rank the church of England with Constantinople? Or India
    >with Jerusalem? Hmm.


    When the church of England was Orthodox, it ranked highly enough. But since that time the C of E has changed and Constantinople hasn't. That puts them outside of any status.

    >>“Either the information about what happened to the apostles was disseminated and true about
    >>these widespread journies (in which case you have the problems I discussed). Or else NOBODY
    >>KNEW, which is much much worse for your BIG CUTOVER. Choose your poison.”
    >
    >i) Another mindless all-or-nothing argument.


    You are the one who came up with an ALL criteria. When ALL the apostles died, the BIG CUTOVER happens.

    >ii) In addition, this disregards conflicting traditions regarding the careers of the various
    >and sundry apostles.

    Conflicting traditions is poison for YOUR theory that relies on KNOWING when the last apostle died.

    >>“False, because churches were set up prior to enscripturation and prior to the completion of
    >>enscripturation.”
    >
    >This is simplistic. Just as NT documents were written at different times, NT churches were
    >planted at different times.


    How is that different to what I just said?

    >>“Firstly, churches were being set up everywhere by many bishops prior to even Paul penning his
    >>first letter, let alone the last book being finished.”
    >
    >Notice the anachronistic appeal to “bishops.”


    What would be chronistic? If we had this exchange in Greek and I used episkopos? Why a sudden aversion to English translations?

    >“Secondly, even if you got a letter from Paul, let's say Colossians, along with Paul's
    >complete oral teaching, this letter alone is hardly going to be a comprehensive basis for sola
    >scriptura.”
    >
    >A red herring. What is more, I already address that issue with Blosser.
    >

    >“For example, just because Paul never writes synoptic gospel-like material, doesn't mean he
    >wasn't aware of it and preaching it orally to the churches.”
    >
    >Another red herring.


    How is your being refuted a red herring? The fact is, the lines of written and oral transmission were mostly separate by virtue of the fact that it's implausible to say that apostles only taught the things that are in the books assigned to their respective names. (which would mean most of the apostles taught nothing at all!)

    >“This assumes what you havn't proven which is that Paul always sent people out with every
    >scrap of gospel knowledge that he had.”
    >

    >Yet another red herring. The question at issue is whether orality always precedes textuality.


    You're arguing for the indefensible. You're arguing that Paul preached Christ to new churches without telling them even a basic outline of Christ's life. You're arguing that the apostles who wrote no scripture didn't preach at all.

    >>But orality and textuality existed side-by-side. The Apostles preached the _>gospel as well as
    >>>writing letters.

    >>“Of course, this is immediately and thoroughly refuted by 1 Thessalonians 2:15!”

    >Orthodox suffers from a serious mental block. 1 Thes 2:15 is a textbook illustration of
    >simultaneous oral and written communication. It is a written reference to oral teaching. And
    >the entire letter is an early example of written instruction, contemporaneous with oral
    >teaching.


    It's only a textbook example of simultaneous transmission if you believe that everything Paul taught in Thessalonika is contained in the book of 2 Thessalonians. This position is, needless to say, indefensible.

    >>“If the apostle believed that oral tradition was an unreliable witness, and if he also knew
    >>that he had passed on the fullness of his knowledge in writing, then it would be redundant,
    >>not to say foolhardy, to tell his newly formed churches to hold to an unreliable witness.”
    >

    >i) A straw man argument. Paul doesn’t believe that his own oral instruction, or the oral
    >instruction of his appointed delegates (e.g. Timothy, Titus), is unreliable.


    But YOU believe oral instruction immediately becomes unreliable as a source of authority in the church, apparently bacause oral teachings are too subject to corruption. This would make it foolish for Paul to tell the church to hold to it.

    >ii) That is completely irrelevant to the status of subapostolic tradition 50 years or more
    >down the pike. They were not appointed directly by Paul to represent him. And they were not
    >tutored directly by Paul.


    Aka "THE BIG CUTOVER".

    >iii) That is not what 2 Thes 2:15 is referring to. The referent is to his own teaching, either
    >in person, by writing, or by one of his deputized spokesmen.


    The very fact that he calls them "traditions" implies how these teachings are understood to be transmitted.

    >iv) BTW, the verse is question is 2 Thes 2:15, not 1 Thes 2:15. Orthodox could at least get
    >the citation of his favorite prooftext correct.


    Anybody who says that Timothy is mentioned in Hebrews 5:23 ought to be careful before he throws stones. If you're going to make pedanticism your ad-hominem, make sure first that you are perfect.

    >v) What is reliable in AD 50 and what is reliable in AD 500 are hardly interchangeable. Paul
    >is, indeed, talking about the situation of his “newly formed churches,” and not far distant
    >circumstances.


    Aka, the failed BIG CUTOVER that the apostles forgot to plan for.

    >vi) Oh, and ironically for Orthodox (as well as Blosser), it is precisely in the context of 2
    >Thessalonians that the danger of apostolic apocrypha first crops up (2:2; 3:17).


    Good point! Apparently there were folks writing letters "as if from us" (aka the apostles). This does not bode well for your stated methodology of looking to internal evidence which in large part amounts to who a letter claims to be from.

    Dangers lurk everywhere here, and the only solution is not historical analysis but rather belief in the supernatural actions of the mighty God, who can preserve the Tradition, both oral and written including the canon in His Church.

    >“Apparently they didn't subscribe to Steve's idea that if you're going to go set up churches,
    >you may as will tell them everything in writing, because it's just as easy.”
    >

    >I’ve specifically and repeatedly refuted this caricature in my replies to Blosser.
    >
    >Apparently, Orthodox has the attention span of a five-year-old.
    >On second thought, that’s unfair to five-year-olds.


    Nope, no answers, just obfuscation. Now apparently into the gutter of ad-hominem.

    >“And that which they did do, they didn't plan very well, because they left too many ambiguous
    >teachings for protestants to argue over later on.”
    >

    >i) No, there’s nothing especially ambiguous about what they say. The ambiguity arises from
    >what they left unsaid. In which case, this is a point of liberty.


    So liberty about having icons? Praying to saints?

    >ii) And, at the risk of stating the obvious, let’s keep in mind that disagreement is a general
    >human phenomenon, not a Protestant phenomenon in particular.


    All the more reason the apostles should have meticulously planned THE BIG CUTOVER, but forgot to do so. Actually, not only did they not plan the BIG CUTOVER, they forgot to teach what they were cutting over TO. They forgot to tell us "when we're all dead, THEN there will be this new system where only scripture is the rule of faith".

    >>“God forbid that we should think that they planned to set up a Spirit led Church to guard the
    >>entire deposit of faith that would be able to clarify these ambiguities in their written >
    >>legacy.”
    >

    >i) Rather, God forbid that we should put words in the mouth of God and sign his name to our
    >own words—like the false prophets of yore.


    God forbid both. You'd better hope that canon you are peddling is right and that historical analysis you did is infallible, otherwise you're putting words in God's mouth.

    >“Because we assume that the apostles left all the essentials in every church orally.”
    >

    >“We assume”? Is that the best he can do?


    Would an apostle set up a church without the essentials? If we must assume things that seems eminently reasonable to me.

    >>“As a Sola Scripturist living there in 100 AD confused about whether scripture taught child >>baptism, you can't rule out that Indian document coming and clarifying the issues.”
    >
    >If you want to toy with hypotheticals, then you can’t rule out the discovery of a long lost
    >epistle by Paul which explicitly denies infant baptism in favor of believer’s baptism.


    Because tradition is living. This is a problem for you, not me.

    >>“If you were the bishop of a church, an old man, who KNEW that Paul taught you child baptism,
    >>but you had to convince your sola scriptura congregation, who didn't believe you, and thought
    >>that scripture taught believer baptism, then you've got a problem.”
    >

    >This is a pseudoproblem generated by a fictitious hypothetical. And, as I just said, we can
    >just as easily dream up hypothetical defeaters for Orthodoxy.


    No you can't dream up defeaters. Don't try to deflect from the fact that the BIG CUTOVER can't work.

    >>“But you can't practice sola scriptura without the whole canon.”
    >

    >Why not?


    Because when some heretic comes preaching a new teaching supposedly from the apostles, you can't deny it till you have the entire canon in your hands in case it is taught there somewhere.

    >Anyway, one doesn’t have to practice sola Scriptura during the Apostolic age. Sola Scriptura
    >represents the end-stage of God’s revelatory program (as I’ve explained to Blosser).


    Aka, the unworkable, unhistorical, unscriptural BIG CUTOVER.

    >“And another problem is that scripture doesn't outline the rationale for what ought to be
    >contained in scripture. There is no scripture that says documents written by apostles or
    >approved by apostles are candidates, and the only candidates for new scripture. So even if you
    >had extensive knowledge in the first century of who wrote what, it doesn't really tell you
    >what is a scriptural source of authority.”
    >

    >I’ve discussed this sort of thing before—as have others.


    Without an answer no doubt for your advocation that the early church follow some extra-scriptural criteria to find their own canon.

    >>“Thus we had people adding the epistle of Clement and Shepherd of Hermes to the authoritative
    >>literature.”
    >

    >Thanks for reminding us that tradition is an unreliable guide to canonicity.


    Then you have no canon since it is the bulk of your external evidence.

    >>“The final formula for what makes a good candidate to be scripture is itself an extra-
    >>scriptural Tradition.”
    >

    >Long on assertion, short on argument. Nothing but your ipse dixit.


    You can't obfuscate yourself out of this one.

    >>“Faith can accept a truth passed on through many generations. But someone demanding
    >>historically verifiable facts, there is no truth left for you at all.”
    >

    >So how do you know that what is passed on through many generations is a truth or a falsehood?


    How do you know scripture is truth or falsehood? We believe by faith that the Church has (a) copied the scriptures through time sufficiently accurately. (This is an assertion that many doubted prior to the 19th and 20th centuries producing older manuscript evidence). (b) that it has passed on the apostolic traditions through time sufficiently accurately (one tradition of which is the canon of scripture). (c) that the Church is led into all truth concerning understanding any doubtful issues in (a) or (b) (which again includes many things problematic in the canon of scripture).

    Without all these beliefs, which do include having faith in the Church as the conduit of truth, you have no scriptures and you have no canon of scripture.

    >>“I think you're confounding Roman Catholicism with Orthodoxy again.”
    >

    >I think you’re confounding assertion with reason again.

    This is not night school for Orthodox enquirers.

    ReplyDelete
  9. “The evidence is exactly the same as that for the apostolicity of scripture - the belief of the early church. Abandon one and you abandon the other.”

    The “early church” didn’t believe anything since the “early church” is just an abstraction for the beliefs of early churchmen, who did not speak with one voice on all things.

    “The external lines mostly just amounts to the Tradition of the church.”

    Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as the tradition (singular) of the church (singular). Rather, there are traditions (plural) of local churches (plural). Needless to say, there were many regional and chronological variations. Orthodox indulges in fictive abstractions which have no basis in actual, concrete history.

    “The internal evidence, generally amounts to little more than pointing out what the author said that makes us want to think it is who they claim to be.”

    i) Another ignorant statement. Internal evidence also includes evidence for the time and place of writing.

    ii) In addition, authorial claims can be oblique or implicit as well as explicit. The internal evidence is often far too subtle for the purposes of a forger.

    Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (Eerdmans 2006) is a good place to start.

    “Something that pseudepigraphal writings were quite good at.”

    Another ignorant comparison. There’s logical relation between authorship and date. One reason we know that pseudepigraphal writings are pseudepigraphal is because they postdate the life of the putative author.

    “So the historical method for determining canon which is here presented to us as some kind of science is nothing more making up your mind how much you trust the passed down Tradition (which is not at all judging by the folks here) plus how much you trust your ability to spot a forgery versus guessing how skillful a forger you are dealing with. This is no basis for authority at all.”

    Putting aside his tendentious characterization, a fact-free credulity in “the Tradition” is no sound basis for authority either.

    “In that case you have no canon. You have insufficient evidence to verify the books in the canon. This is true for the NT, but is even more true for some books in the OT like Esther.”

    All assertion, no argument. Disregards scholarly arguments to the contrary.

    “Whoa, now you're confounding the concepts of recognized canon, and apostolicity of books. Sure we can find out the canon of the church - a tradition. But that does not prove apostolicity. Metzger spends the pages of his book on the NT canon discussing who used what books in the Church. That goes very little way to proving which as apostolic.”

    No, you’re confusing the two concepts. Apostolicity and canonicity are not conterminous.

    If you want arguments for apostolicity, turn to conservative commentaries, NT introductions, and monographs.

    >>“Right, which multiplies the problems for you, because you not only have to identify _>>authorship, but also the apostolic approval of a document such as Luke or Mark.”
    _>

    >i) Which is both doable, and has been done before.

    “Nonsense.”

    Notice how he substitutes an adjective for an argument.

    As far as Luke or Mark are concerned, a good place to start is:

    F. F. Bruce, The Pauline Circle (Eerdmans 1985).

    >You yourself can offer no ecumenical council (recognized by Orthodoxy) which gives you an _>infallible list of the canon—even if we accepted your ecclesiology.

    “How many times must I say it? Orthodoxy needs no council to have infallible theology.”

    How many times must you miss the point? The question at issue is how you *identify* infallible theology absent an ecumenical council.

    >>“Of course, a claim is pretty worthless by itself given the vast numbers of pseudepigraphal _

    >>writings in circulation at the time.”_>_>i) As usual, when your original objection is challenged, you change the subject.

    “Nonsense.”

    Once again, he substitutes an adjective for an argument. It must be nice to have an unused brain. You should donate it to science when you die—if not before. Someone else could make better use of it than you.

    >ii) I’d add that the same thing can be said for patristic pseudepigrapha.

    “Which is irrelevant. The Tradition is first and foremost living.”

    i) How do you identify “the Tradition”?

    ii) Patristic theology is irrelevant to “the Tradition”?

    “I fully acknowledge you can believe an ECF about something they witnessed personally, while rejecting their idea of an oral tradition, but if you're going to reject some oral traditions and not others, it is purely arbitrary and inconsistent.”

    Really, you think all oral tradition is coequal? Even conflicting oral traditions? Even heretical oral traditions?

    “Thanks for pointing out the worthless "proof" you offered for the canonicity of Hebrews, which amounts to nothing more than that Hebrews name dropped Timothy (typical for Pseudepigrapha), and that he seemed to be Jewish (Whoopeee).”

    You keep making a fool of yourself.

    To mention the name, in passing, at the end of an otherwise anonymous letter, of one of Paul’s protégés would hardly be typical of Pseudepigrapha.

    What would be typical of Pseudepigraphy is a document explicitly named after a one of the Apostles—preferably a big name Apostle like Peter. Or the Virgin Mary.

    Hebrews is anonymous, not pseudonymous.

    What would also be typical is the presence of anachronisms which push the date of the document beyond the lifetime of the putative author.

    Hebrews reflects a pre-70 AD viewpoint. And it intersects with Acts 7.

    “If the above is the level of positive historical evidence you have for Hebrews, it would hardly take much to overturn it.”

    And what evidence do you propose? Or is this another one of your fanciful hypotheticals?

    “Paul does not limit it to one or the other. He just says to hold to them. When is one generation supposed to end and another to start?”

    You might begin with the human lifespan for starters.

    “That is a completely arbitrary distinction to try and make, akin to the sillyness of the failed BIG CUTOVER.”

    You need to brush up on the genealogies of Scripture, which have no difficulty distinguish between one generation and another.

    “If he merely wanted to convey the idea of "material" he had emparted to them, he could have said to hold to the teachings. But he specifically used the word Traditions, because this was the way the truth was conveyed.”

    This is a compound semantic fallacy. To begin with, you are trading on the connotations of an English translation term.

    Second, you are using an anachronistic definition of “tradition,” which you backdate to 2 Thes 2:15.

    “The 12 apostles passed traditions onto them, he passes them onto churches.”

    i) There is no evidence that all 12 apostles were tradents.

    ii) And Paul was not simply a conduit for the “tradition” of the Twelve. Try reading Gal 1-2.

    “No we also know it from the rest of the Tradition. It may be the only way YOU know it as a sola scripturalist.”

    Are you trying to be dense? You were explicitly referring to 2 Thes 2:15. Make more of an effort to keep track of your own argument, however sorry that might be.

    “Of course, we're not dealing with an ordinary document here. We're dealing with one that is God breathed that God planned for instruction of the churches. I think a good test of "responsibility" is how an ordinary Christian might hear these words uttered outside of the polemics of a 15th century dogma about scripture unknown to the early church.”

    No, a good test is what it would have meant to the audience to whom it was originally addressed.

    “Another good test of responsibility is how the BIG CUTOVER is supposed to apply and shift from an exegesis being responsible in the 1st C and irresponsible at some arbitrary later time, based on criteria unstated in the scripture itself.”

    Introducing an extraneous concern like the BIG CUTOVER is not doing exegesis.

    And what about the BIG CUTOVER when the age of the ecumenical councils came to an end?

    And what about the BIG CUTOVER when the age of the church fathers came to an end?

    “Legendary in your opinion. However these legends are of the same kind, from the same people and the same sources who say what books are apostolic.”

    You never name your sources. You simply retreat into the conveniently unverifiable anonymity of “the Tradition.”

    “If that's true you have to supply a plausible transition from the original referent to the later referents. aka "THE BIG CUTOVER".

    There are no later “referents.” Just possible later applications. Pity you don’t know the first thing about linguistics.

    “Now Mr Sola Sciptura man, tell us the chapter and verse that teaches this doctrine.”

    A theological construct isn’t derived by isolated prooftexting. Try to be less simpleminded next time, if that’s possible.

    “Of course you can't prove any of these things.”

    Actually, I don’t need to prove any of these things unless and until Orthodox can prove that I need to prove any of these things.

    So where is your proof that I need to prove them?

    “What for? First and foremost, tradition is living. Dates are not primary.”

    Tradition is “living”? Does it have a pulse? What does it eat?

    This is another example of Orthodox’s substitution of a fictive abstraction for historical evidence.

    “You can't answer, so now you're trying to deflect back? Sorry, it won't work. It won't work because we don't have to repudiate the authority of ecumenical councils to move into a subsequent age.”

    No one said you had to repudiate it. Are you hearing voices again?

    “And more importanty the age of ecumenical councils hasn't ended as far as we know.”

    The Roman Catholics would agree with you on that score, viz. Constantinople IV, Lateran, Florence, Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II…

    Planning to swim the Tiber, are you?

    “There is no such cutover in orthodox theology.”

    Nice to know you think the Filioque clause is valid. After all, you wouldn’t want to invoke an orthodox CUTOVER at this point, now would you?

    “It does matter because if you can't prove what happened to the apostles, you can't know if the early church knew. And if they didn't know, your stated criteria which includes knowing when the apostles died, fails.”

    “They” don’t have to know when an apostle dies. Oral tradition is only binding on those who heard it from an apostle (or one of his deputized spokesmen). It dies with the listener.

    “Of course we all know you didn't get your canon from a dispassionate examination of the evidence, rather you inherited it by tradition and now are backfilling with apologetic from history to avoid admitting to yourself that traditions have authority in your life.”

    This is a really stupid statement. The canon which I “inherited” was the canon of the Latin/Roman Catholic church.

    I, however, reject the Latin/RC canon of the OT, and, instead—go back to the Jewish canon of the OT.

    Ditto: the Orthodox canon of the OT.

    So my canon is not dependent on ecclesiastical tradition.

    “When the church of England was Orthodox, it ranked highly enough. But since that time the C of E has changed and Constantinople hasn't. That puts them outside of any status.”

    Your version of the BIG CUTOVER.

    So much for your faith in “living tradition.”

    According to you, Orthodox churches can become heterodox over time. Thanks for your fatal admission.

    >>“False, because churches were set up prior to enscripturation and prior to the completion of _>>enscripturation.”
    _>_>This is simplistic. Just as NT documents were written at different times, NT churches were _>planted at different times.

    “How is that different to what I just said?”

    Some NT churches were planted before some NT books were written (=inscripturated) while other NT churches were planted after some NT books were written (=inscripturated).

    “What would be chronistic? If we had this exchange in Greek and I used episkopos? Why a sudden aversion to English translations?”

    Because you’re going to plug a later definition into an earlier word.

    “It’s implausible to say that apostles only taught the things that are in the books assigned to their respective names.”

    A straw man argument since I never argued otherwise. Are you hearing voices again?

    And that’s irrelevant to the written record which they chose to bequeath to the church.

    “You're arguing for the indefensible. You're arguing that Paul preached Christ to new churches without telling them even a basic outline of Christ's life. You're arguing that the apostles who wrote no scripture didn't preach at all.”

    Since, in fact, I never argued that thesis, Orthodox must be hearing voices. He should check into a mental ward for his own protection.

    “It’s only a textbook example of simultaneous transmission if you believe that everything Paul taught in Thessalonika is contained in the book of 2 Thessalonians. This position is, needless to say, indefensible.”

    No, what is indefensible is your whole cloth imputation to me of things I never said. You are such a creature of the rote formulae that’s been drilled into you by your Orthodox gamekeepers that you are incapable of hearing or thinking outside your Orthodox headphones.

    “But YOU believe oral instruction immediately becomes unreliable as a source of authority in the church, apparently bacause oral teachings are too subject to corruption.”

    Another ignorant caricature since I explained exactly what I meant in my reply to Blosser. One of your problems is an inability to keep more than one idea in your head at a time.

    >v) What is reliable in AD 50 and what is reliable in AD 500 are hardly interchangeable. Paul _>is, indeed, talking about the situation of his “newly formed churches,” and not far distant _>circumstances.

    “Aka, the failed BIG CUTOVER that the apostles forgot to plan for.”

    Multiplied fallacies in a small space.

    i) Is Orthodox really so gullible as to suppose that oral tradition has absolutely no possible deterioration rate over time. No possibility of legendary embellishment over time. No possibility of fabricated traditions (e.g. the False Decretals) which are backdated to an earlier time?

    Must I disbelieve the whole of church history unless I swear by the annual liquefaction of Janusarius’ blood?

    ii) It would only fail for those who are foolish enough to rely on it. If you drive a 20-ton truck over a bridge rated for 2 tons, it’s your fault that you didn’t bring a life-preserver along.

    iii) Then there’s his sophistical attribution of an unforeseen contingency. Of course, the Protestant position is that Scripture is sufficient for its purposes.

    “Good point! Apparently there were folks writing letters ‘as if from us’ (aka the apostles). This does not bode well for your stated methodology of looking to internal evidence which in large part amounts to who a letter claims to be from.”

    i) What it doesn’t bode well for is your indiscriminate, unrestricted appeal to putative oral apostolic tradition.

    ii) Notice the point blank reversal in Orthodox’s position: from credulity in any and all putative apostolic traditions to incredulity in any and all putative apostolic traditions.

    “Dangers lurk everywhere here, and the only solution is not historical analysis but rather belief in the supernatural actions of the mighty God, who can preserve the Tradition, both oral and written including the canon in His Church.”

    As long as you feel free to indulge your faith in cloud-castles, then there are many other solutions, such as the supernatural intervention of Tinkerbell, the Tooth Fairy, or little green men.

    “Nope, no answers, just obfuscation. Now apparently into the gutter of ad-hominem.”

    “Gutter ad hominem” is precisely what an opponent deserves who demands arguments, then dismisses the arguments he demanded with adjectives (“obfuscation”) in lieu of counterargument after he’s been directed to the very arguments he demanded.

    “So liberty about having icons? Praying to saints?”

    A losing move on your part since Scripture is not silent on these principles.

    “All the more reason the apostles should have meticulously planned THE BIG CUTOVER, but forgot to do so.”

    Another orphaned assertion.

    “Actually, not only did they not plan the BIG CUTOVER, they forgot to teach what they were cutting over TO.”

    Not everyone is as mentally challenged as Orthodox. The spoken word cannot outlive the speaker unless it’s written down or memorized. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature would understand that without having to be told.

    The apostles also “failed” to teach us how to tie our shoelaces or floss our teeth.

    “They forgot to tell us ‘when we're all dead.”

    Yes, such an oversight. For all we know, St. Thomas is still alive and well in a cave on the outskirts of Kabul.

    After all, the apostles would have failed us unless that told us that they would be dead within 100 years of when they wrote (indeed, less time than that).

    If only they’d foreseen that some willful simpletons who take refuge in “the Tradition” of the Orthodox church would be too dim to figure that out for themselves.

    “Would an apostle set up a church without the essentials?”

    Which is exactly what they did by bequeathing to us the NT.

    “Because tradition is living. This is a problem for you, not me.”

    Oh, we can dream up hypothetical defeaters for “living tradition” as well.

    “No you can't dream up defeaters. Don't try to deflect from the fact that the BIG CUTOVER can't work.”

    “Work” as in what? Scripture does exactly what God intended it to do. It works perfectly well.

    The purpose of Scripture is not to make everyone agree. Indeed, Scriptural preaching was frequently meant to be divisive.

    “Because when some heretic comes preaching a new teaching supposedly from the apostles, you can't deny it till you have the entire canon in your hands in case it is taught there somewhere.”

    Human beings aren’t responsible for every possible eventuality. We aren’t called upon to play God. There’s no job opening for “God.” That position is already filled.

    This is God’s world, not ours. We don’t have to be in control all of the time. The results are up to God.

    I’m content to be human. I’m at peace with the inherent limitations of my human finitude. I don’t need to know everything to know anything.

    “Without an answer no doubt for your advocation that the early church follow some extra-scriptural criteria to find their own canon.”

    No. It’s based on OT precedent as well as NT promises. The case has been made.

    I’m not going to reproduce it for you since you show no willingness to interact with the argumentation I direct you to elsewhere.

    “Then you have no canon since it is the bulk of your external evidence.”

    Orthodox is a one-trick pony with a broken leg. Time to put the poor critter out of its misery.

    All he ever does, like a tape-record on playback, is to regurgitate the same pat, stock phrases, even though I and others have repeatedly corrected him on his simpleminded usage.

    “How do you know scripture is truth or falsehood?”

    For a critic of Protestant theology, you don’t seem to know much about the theology you critique.

    There’s a standard body of literature on this subject. But why cite it since you’ve shown no willingness to examine the evidence you demand when your demand is answered.

    “We believe by faith that the Church has (a) copied the scriptures through time sufficiently accurately. (This is an assertion that many doubted prior to the 19th and 20th centuries producing older manuscript evidence). (b) that it has passed on the apostolic traditions through time sufficiently accurately (one tradition of which is the canon of scripture). (c) that the Church is led into all truth concerning understanding any doubtful issues in (a) or (b) (which again includes many things problematic in the canon of scripture).”

    “Believe by faith”? Isn’t that a wee bit circular?

    It’s synonymous with: we have faith in faith; we believe on the basis of belief; faith founded on faith.

    The whole paragraph is pure, undiluted fideism. Hanging on thin air. Never touches base with the messy historical realm of terra firma.

    Indeed, all he does, all he ever does, is to posit his faith. He gives no reason for why what he believes is true. No evidence that this has any foothold in reality.

    And his fideism is, in turn, predicated on radical scepticism. He’s every bit as sceptical of the historical process as Bishop Spong.

    For all his faith, he has no faith in the providence of God. In the God of history.

    He then attempts to use his pathological scepticism as leverage to extort our consent to blind faith in his arbitrarily chosen church, with its arbitrarily chosen tradition.

    This is where the extremes of fideism and infidelity come full circle and meet in the middle.

    It’s a two-step argument:

    i) You should be as hyper-sceptical as I am.

    ii) In your intellectual desperation, you should then take a death-defying leap into the arms of Mother Church.

    And don’t insist on a maternity test. Believe by faith that this is your mother.

    By faith he believes that there is a safety-net to catch his fall, as he plunges into the darkness below.

    Here we see the schizophrenia of the high-churchman, whether Catholic or Orthodox. When, the one hand, he’s attacking the Protestant rule of faith, he assumes the role of über-rationalist by trying to hold the Protestant to a godlike level of omniscience or ubiquitous certitude.

    When, on the other hand, he’s propping up his own rule of faith, he assumes the role of über-irrationalist—in which you don’t need to know anything at all as long as you believe by faith in the infallibility and indefectibility of Mother Church.

    He tears down certainty and probability alike to make room for the great makeweight of ecclesiolatry.

    “Without all these beliefs, which do include having faith in the Church as the conduit of truth, you have no scriptures and you have no canon of scripture.”

    This is how the high churchman always argues—if you can call it an argument. Sheer, airy-fairy apriorism. The premise must be true because we don’t like the consequences if it’s false.

    So let’s *postulate* an axiom with pleasing consequences. And let’s convert this postulate into dogma.

    Orthodox has simply outsourced his religious duties to the lowest bidder, so that he can refer all questions to his spiritual subcontractor while he perfects his golf game.

    Arguing with the average high-churchman is essentially no different than arguing with a member of the Jesus Seminar. They are two sides of the same coin.

    They are equally sceptical about the Bible. They only differ in the conclusion they draw from their hyper-sceptical premise. John Spong is a consistent infidel whereas Orthodox is an inconsistent infidel.

    ReplyDelete
  10. >The “early church” didn’t believe anything since the “early church” is just an abstraction for the
    >beliefs of early churchmen, who did not speak with one voice on all things.


    Wow. Imagine telling the apostle Paul that the church didn't believe anything. Wow.


    >Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as the tradition (singular) of the church (singular).
    >Rather, there are traditions (plural) of local churches (plural). Needless to say, there were many
    >regional and chronological variations. Orthodox indulges in fictive abstractions which have no basis
    >in actual, concrete history.


    The Tradition of the church is that part of the local traditions that was apostolicly taught.

    >>“The internal evidence, generally amounts to little more than pointing out what the author said that
    >>makes us want to think it is who they claim to be.”
    >
    >i) Another ignorant statement. Internal evidence also includes evidence for the time and place of
    >writing.


    Which in the case of a forgery IS part and parcel of the author trying to convince us who they are.


    >ii) In addition, authorial claims can be oblique or implicit as well as explicit. The internal
    >evidence is often far too subtle for the purposes of a forger.


    LOL. Occasionally you read about some great and ambitious crimes. But the truely great crimes are the ones you never hear about. The number of those, nobody can say. The skill of the best forgers, you will never know.

    >Another ignorant comparison. There’s logical relation between authorship and date. One reason we know
    >that pseudepigraphal writings are pseudepigraphal is because they postdate the life of the putative
    >author.


    How do you know when they are dated? From the tradition again? The tradition that you don't believe? You cannot prove that 2 Peter dates from prior to around 60AD when he is traditionally thought to have died. (There's that word again, you don't even know when he died).

    >Putting aside his tendentious characterization, a fact-free credulity in “the Tradition” is no sound
    >basis for authority either.


    It is if God says it is.

    >>“In that case you have no canon. You have insufficient evidence to verify the books in the canon. This
    >>is true for the NT, but is even more true for some books in the OT like Esther.”
    >

    > All assertion, no argument. Disregards scholarly arguments to the contrary.


    There are no scholarly proofs that Esther is God-breathed. How could there be? It wasn't mentioned by Jesus. It is omitted from many early canon lists. All you can do is quote one church father against another.

    >i) Which is both doable, and has been done before.

    > “Nonsense.”

    > Notice how he substitutes an adjective for an argument.

    When something doesn't exist, there is no refutation to be made.


    >> “How many times must I say it? Orthodoxy needs no council to have infallible theology.”
    >
    > How many times must you miss the point? The question at issue is how you *identify* infallible
    >theology absent an ecumenical council.


    Orthodoxy knows where all the churches are, so it can find out what they are teaching. When they agree, it is infallible.

    > >ii) I’d add that the same thing can be said for patristic pseudepigrapha.
    > “Which is irrelevant. The Tradition is first and foremost living.”
    >

    > i) How do you identify “the Tradition”?


    Above.

    > ii) Patristic theology is irrelevant to “the Tradition”?


    Even pseudepigrapha could be part of the tradition if they indicate the historical beliefs of the church. Not all pseudepigrapha was produced to deceive in the way that we would understand that today.


    > Really, you think all oral tradition is coequal? Even conflicting oral traditions? Even heretical
    > oral traditions?


    We have a standard for evaluating oral traditions: whether they are accepted by the whole church. You have no such standard other than faith in your own ability to peer back into the dark reaches of time and pretend you know which books are apostolic.

    >“Thanks for pointing out the worthless "proof" you offered for the canonicity of Hebrews, which
    >amounts to nothing more than that Hebrews name dropped Timothy (typical for Pseudepigrapha), and that
    >he seemed to be Jewish (Whoopeee).”
    >
    > You keep making a fool of yourself.
    >

    > To mention the name, in passing, at the end of an otherwise anonymous letter, of one of Paul’s
    >protégés would hardly be typical of Pseudepigrapha.


    It would hardly be typical of blunt and bad Pseudepigrapha. Maybe this forger is smarter than the average bear.

    In any case, even if really knew Timothy, it doesn't even start to prove it is scripture.

    > What would also be typical is the presence of anachronisms which push the date of the document
    > beyond the lifetime of the putative author.


    Again, you're judging clever crimes by the standard of ham fisted crimes.

    > And what evidence do you propose? Or is this another one of your fanciful hypotheticals?


    Tradition. The church being led into all truth.

    >> “Paul does not limit it to one or the other. He just says to hold to them. When is one generation
    >> supposed to end and another to start?”
    >
    > You might begin with the human lifespan for starters.


    So let me see. Let's say John died in 100AD, and was preaching oral tradition to 5 year olds. Let's say a few of them live to 105, and maybe even become bishops, holding to these teachings. That means the BIG CUTOVER takes place around 200 AD?

    >>“That is a completely arbitrary distinction to try and make, akin to the sillyness of the failed BIG
    >CUTOVER.”
    >
    >You need to brush up on the genealogies of Scripture, which have no difficulty distinguish between one
    >generation and another.


    They don't try and distinguish generations with the exactitude required to make a BIG CUTOVER, and in fact those generations overlap.

    >> “If he merely wanted to convey the idea of "material" he had emparted to them, he could have said
    >>to hold to the teachings. But he specifically used the word Traditions, because this was the way the
    >>truth was conveyed.”
    >
    > This is a compound semantic fallacy. To begin with, you are trading on the connotations of an
    >English translation term.


    No I'm not, I have in mind the underlying Greek terms.

    > Second, you are using an anachronistic definition of “tradition,” which you backdate to 2 Thes 2:15.


    No I don't, I know what the Greek means. He could have used the word didaktikos - teaching. But he chose to paradosis - something which is passed on.

    >
    > “The 12 apostles passed traditions onto them, he passes them onto churches.”
    >
    > i) There is no evidence that all 12 apostles were tradents.


    Yes there is evidence, the Tradition says they were.

    > ii) And Paul was not simply a conduit for the “tradition” of the Twelve. Try reading Gal 1-2.


    I never said he was "simply" a conduit. But he was partially one. "That which I received I passed onto you.... etc".

    >> “No we also know it from the rest of the Tradition. It may be the only way YOU know it as a sola
    >>scripturalist.”
    >
    > Are you trying to be dense? You were explicitly referring to 2 Thes 2:15. Make more of an effort
    >to keep track of your own argument, however sorry that might be.


    No, I was referring to the _teaching_ of 2 Thes 2:15, not the text. I'm not sure why the folks here must be more skillful practitioners of the ad-hominem and pride than their supposed theological prowess. There's no spiritual benefit in having all knowledge but lacking love you know.

    >>“Of course, we're not dealing with an ordinary document here. We're dealing with one that is God
    >>breathed that God planned for instruction of the churches. I think a good test of "responsibility" is
    >>how an ordinary Christian might hear these words uttered outside of the polemics of a 15th century
    >>dogma about scripture unknown to the early church.”
    >
    >No, a good test is what it would have meant to the audience to whom it was originally addressed.


    Oh well then, you most certainly lose, because the original audience had no idea of the pending BIG CUTOVER. All they knew is to hold to the oral traditions.

    >>“Another good test of responsibility is how the BIG CUTOVER is supposed to apply and shift from an
    >>exegesis being responsible in the 1st C and irresponsible at some arbitrary later time, based on
    >>criteria unstated in the scripture itself.”
    >
    > Introducing an extraneous concern like the BIG CUTOVER is not doing exegesis.


    Exegesis involves rejecting absurd conclusions.

    > And what about the BIG CUTOVER when the age of the ecumenical councils came to an end?

    > And what about the BIG CUTOVER when the age of the church fathers came to an end?


    Why do you refuse to listen? The age of ecumenical councils has not ended. The age of church fathers has not ended.

    >>“Legendary in your opinion. However these legends are of the same kind, from the same people and the
    >>same sources who say what books are apostolic.”
    >
    > You never name your sources. You simply retreat into the conveniently unverifiable anonymity of “the
    >Tradition.”


    Neither do you name your sources on how you know 3 John was written by an apostle.

    >> “If that's true you have to supply a plausible transition from the original referent to the later
    >>referents. aka "THE BIG CUTOVER".
    >
    > There are no later “referents.” Just possible later applications. Pity you don’t know the first
    >thing about linguistics.


    Then you know nothing either since you referred to "original intended referents".

    >> “Now Mr Sola Sciptura man, tell us the chapter and verse that teaches this doctrine.”
    >

    > A theological construct isn’t derived by isolated prooftexting. Try to be less simpleminded next
    >time, if that’s possible.


    i.e. instead of proving your assertion, fall back to a vague muttering about prooftexting.

    >> “Of course you can't prove any of these things.”
    >
    > Actually, I don’t need to prove any of these things unless and until Orthodox can prove that I need
    >to prove any of these things.


    Really? I guess I don't need to prove the Tradition as authoritative then.

    > So where is your proof that I need to prove them?


    So we're at an impasse. You have your truth and I have mine.

    > “What for? First and foremost, tradition is living. Dates are not primary.”
    >
    > Tradition is “living”? Does it have a pulse? What does it eat?


    It eats in the identifiable people of God.

    > This is another example of Orthodox’s substitution of a fictive abstraction for historical evidence.


    Apparently you think the church is fictive and an abstraction.

    >>“You can't answer, so now you're trying to deflect back? Sorry, it won't work. It won't work because
    >>we don't have to repudiate the authority of ecumenical councils to move into a subsequent age.”
    >
    > No one said you had to repudiate it. Are you hearing voices again?


    More ad-hominem. I'd rather be wrong in theology than be acting like you.

    You repudiate authority of oral tradition. That's why you need the BIG CUTOVER. We don't repudiate the authority of ecumenical councils, so even if the age has ended, which it hasn't, there is no big cutover. Thus your statement has no merit.

    >> “And more importanty the age of ecumenical councils hasn't ended as far as we know.”
    >
    > The Roman Catholics would agree with you on that score, viz. Constantinople IV, Lateran, Florence,
    >Trent, Vatican I, Vatican II…
    >
    > Planning to swim the Tiber, are you?


    You continue to show your ignorance of Orthodoxy. Is the Pope considering leaving the Roman church because he knows what you don't, that Orthodoxy doesn't believe the age of councils has ended?

    >> “There is no such cutover in orthodox theology.”
    >
    > Nice to know you think the Filioque clause is valid. After all, you wouldn’t want to invoke an
    >orthodox CUTOVER at this point, now would you?


    What? What nonsense is this?

    >> “It does matter because if you can't prove what happened to the apostles, you can't know if the
    >>early church knew. And if they didn't know, your stated criteria which includes knowing when the
    >>apostles died, fails.”
    >
    > “They” don’t have to know when an apostle dies. Oral tradition is only binding on those who heard it
    >from an apostle (or one of his deputized spokesmen). It dies with the listener.


    So Paul passes through Corinth and gives them the Oral Tradition. He then leaves, and the church is left with the Oral deposit. The next day a new church member joins who didn't hear anything from an apostle. He is not bound by anything and can believe, teach, exhort people to do whatever he wants. And nobody can do anything about it, because he is not bound.

    Nope, this is anarchy and chaos. You've shown again how the BIG CUTOVER can't work.

    >>“Of course we all know you didn't get your canon from a dispassionate examination of the evidence,
    >>rather you inherited it by tradition and now are backfilling with apologetic from history to avoid
    >>admitting to yourself that traditions have authority in your life.”
    >
    >This is a really stupid statement. The canon which I “inherited” was the canon of the Latin/Roman >Catholic church.


    Right, you inherited it. Why agree with me, and then say its stupid?

    > I, however, reject the Latin/RC canon of the OT, and, instead—go back to the Jewish canon of the OT.


    You mean the post-Christian canon of the unbelieving Jews. You cannot prove that your canon is that of the pre-Christian Jews.

    > So my canon is not dependent on ecclesiastical tradition.


    Actually its dependent on an ecclesiastical tradition of heretic unbelievers for the OT, and the papists for the NT. But it's still based on two ecclesiastically formed lists.


    >>“When the church of England was Orthodox, it ranked highly enough. But since that time the C of E has
    >>changed and Constantinople hasn't. That puts them outside of any status.”
    >
    > Your version of the BIG CUTOVER.


    No cutover here. Just a group that left the church.

    > According to you, Orthodox churches can become heterodox over time. Thanks for your fatal
    >admission.


    Yes, individual churches can become heterodox. Nothing revelatory here.

    >> “What would be chronistic? If we had this exchange in Greek and I used episkopos? Why a sudden
    >>aversion to English translations?”
    >
    > Because you’re going to plug a later definition into an earlier word.


    Don't try and predict what I'm going to do.

    >>“It’s implausible to say that apostles only taught the things that are in the books assigned to their
    >>respective names.”

    >
    > A straw man argument since I never argued otherwise. Are you hearing voices again?


    Then its time for you to admit your error in claiming that all oral and written transmission followed the same paths.

    >> “You're arguing for the indefensible. You're arguing that Paul preached Christ to new churches
    >>without telling them even a basic outline of Christ's life. You're arguing that the apostles who
    >>wrote no scripture didn't preach at all.”
    >
    >Since, in fact, I never argued that thesis, Orthodox must be hearing voices. He should check into a
    >mental ward for his own protection.


    More ad hominem. At times like this it feels good to be Orthodox.

    You presented the thesis that oral and written transmission always went together. That would imply what I said above. But I guess you're silently backpeddling rather than conceed the least point.

    >> “It’s only a textbook example of simultaneous transmission if you believe that everything Paul
    >>taught in Thessalonika is contained in the book of 2 Thessalonians. This position is, needless to
    >>say, indefensible.”
    >

    > No, what is indefensible is your whole cloth imputation to me of things I never said. You are such
    >a creature of the rote formulae that’s been drilled into you by your Orthodox gamekeepers that you are
    >incapable of hearing or thinking outside your Orthodox headphones.


    More ad hominem. Things must be desperate.

    > “But YOU believe oral instruction immediately becomes unreliable as a source of authority in the
    >church, apparently bacause oral teachings are too subject to corruption.”
    >

    > Another ignorant caricature since I explained exactly what I meant in my reply to Blosser. One of
    >your problems is an inability to keep more than one idea in your head at a time.


    More ad hominem. I'm starting to feel sorry for you that you can't feel secure without an outpouring of abuse.

    > i) Is Orthodox really so gullible as to suppose that oral tradition has absolutely no possible
    > deterioration rate over time. No possibility of legendary embellishment over time. No possibility of
    >fabricated traditions (e.g. the False Decretals) which are backdated to an earlier time?


    What if I did believe it or not? You seem to think that there was very rapid deterioration indeed in the first 3 centuries. What if I applied the same skepticism to say, the Gospel of Matthew? Maybe it was greatly embellished in the same time. Maybe bits were fabricated later. Some have suggested for example that Matthew 28:19 was a later expansion. But without a faith in the Church to convey the truth sufficiently accurately, you have no truth, no religion.

    > Must I disbelieve the whole of church history unless I swear by the annual liquefaction of
    >Janusarius’ blood?


    You can believe whatever you like, but don't try and conn us that there is anything objective about it when you accept one oral tradtion and reject another when both have the same objective level of support.

    > ii) It would only fail for those who are foolish enough to rely on it. If you drive a 20-ton truck
    >over a bridge rated for 2 tons, it’s your fault that you didn’t bring a life-preserver along.


    ?? The apostles were foolish enough to rely on the BIG CUTOVER happening?

    > iii) Then there’s his sophistical attribution of an unforeseen contingency. Of course, the
    >Protestant position is that Scripture is sufficient for its purposes.


    Apparently it wasn't sufficient to cater for the BIG CUTOVER, which historically failed.

    > “So liberty about having icons? Praying to saints?”
    >

    > A losing move on your part since Scripture is not silent on these principles.


    Back to your interpretation, my interpretation. No it isn't silent about icons. The OT commands the Jews to use icons. The Jews used them extensively in that period as we see from archeology and Dura-Europos.

    >> “All the more reason the apostles should have meticulously planned THE BIG CUTOVER, but forgot to
    >>do so.”
    >
    > Another orphaned assertion.


    Why do I have to prove a negative? You show me they did plan it.

    >>“Actually, not only did they not plan the BIG CUTOVER, they forgot to teach what they were cutting >
    >>over TO.”
    >

    > Not everyone is as mentally challenged as Orthodox. The spoken word cannot outlive the speaker
    >unless it’s written down or memorized. Anyone with an IQ above room temperature would understand that
    >without having to be told.


    More ad hominem.

    Spoken words actually don't last more than the fraction of a second they take to dissipate in the air. But Paul said to hold to them. He didn't specify how to store them or preclude you passing them on. That would be pretty ridiculous if Paul preached the gospel and then said "don't tell anyone this, they might screw it up".

    > The apostles also “failed” to teach us how to tie our shoelaces or floss our teeth.


    My theology doesn't rely on flossing my teeth. You must be really desperate.

    > “They forgot to tell us ‘when we're all dead.”

    > Yes, such an oversight. For all we know, St. Thomas is still alive and well in a cave on the
    > outskirts of Kabul.


    Irrelevant. That they are all dead now doesn't make your failed cutover work.

    >After all, the apostles would have failed us unless that told us that they would be dead within 100
    >years of when they wrote (indeed, less time than that).


    Within 100 years? Hard to make the BIG CUTOVER with such a vague concept of when to do it. No wonder it failed.


    >> “Would an apostle set up a church without the essentials?”
    >
    > Which is exactly what they did by bequeathing to us the NT.


    Prior to that they bequeathed it orally.


    > “Work” as in what? Scripture does exactly what God intended it to do. It works perfectly well.


    So perfectly that you don't have any unity with most of the people you consider Christians. (I presume, unless you think your reformed churches are the only Christians).

    >The purpose of Scripture is not to make everyone agree. Indeed, Scriptural preaching was frequently
    >meant to be divisive.


    If it's not meant to bring agreement, throw out your confessions, because they impose artificial agreement.

    >> “Because when some heretic comes preaching a new teaching supposedly from the apostles, you can't
    >>deny it till you have the entire canon in your hands in case it is taught there somewhere.”
    >

    > Human beings aren’t responsible for every possible eventuality. We aren’t called upon to play God.
    >There’s no job opening for “God.” That position is already filled.


    I thought you said scripture makes you fully equipped. Now you're saying it can't help you know how to deal with oral claims until you have the canon.


    >> “We believe by faith that the Church has (a) copied the scriptures through time sufficiently
    >>accurately. (This is an assertion that many doubted prior to the 19th and 20th centuries producing
    >>older manuscript evidence). (b) that it has passed on the apostolic traditions through time
    >>sufficiently accurately (one tradition of which is the canon of scripture). (c) that the Church is led
    >>into all truth concerning understanding any doubtful issues in (a) or (b) (which again includes many
    >>things problematic in the canon of scripture).”
    >

    > “Believe by faith”? Isn’t that a wee bit circular?


    Not when its historically verifiable that our organization continues from the apostles. But your circularity of which scriptures you believe is entirely circular, especially with the poorly attested ones.

    >> And his fideism is, in turn, predicated on radical scepticism. He’s every bit as sceptical of the
    >>historical process as Bishop Spong.
    >
    > For all his faith, he has no faith in the providence of God. In the God of history.


    And you have radically less faith in the providence of God in the Church. You can't even admit the providence of God in having the Church recognize the canon as being authoritative.

    > Here we see the schizophrenia of the high-churchman, whether Catholic or Orthodox. When, the one
    >hand, he’s attacking the Protestant rule of faith, he assumes the role of über-rationalist by trying
    >to hold the Protestant to a godlike level of omniscience or ubiquitous certitude.
    >

    > When, on the other hand, he’s propping up his own rule of faith, he assumes the role of über-
    >irrationalist—in which you don’t need to know anything at all as long as you believe by faith in the
    >infallibility and indefectibility of Mother Church.


    No, just pick a level of faith versus rationality and stick to it. Either have faith in the tradition of the church and accept the canon on that basis. Or else have all your aces in line to be able to rationally prove the canon. The problem is you can't do the latter and don't want to be caught doing the former, and are left in no man's land.

    >> “Without all these beliefs, which do include having faith in the Church as the conduit of truth,
    >>you have no scriptures and you have no canon of scripture.”
    >

    > This is how the high churchman always argues—if you can call it an argument. Sheer, airy-fairy
    >apriorism. The premise must be true because we don’t like the consequences if it’s false.

    >
    >So let’s *postulate* an axiom with pleasing consequences. And let’s convert this postulate into dogma.

    This is your unfortunate predicament. You cling tenaciously to the protestant canon, every last one of the 66 books, waffling on about weak historical evidence because the premise must be true because you can't deal with the consequence you may have to throw out a few books when the evidence doesn't prove complete.

    It's so funny how every complaint you make applies to yourself in spades.

    >Orthodox has simply outsourced his religious duties to the lowest bidder, so that he can refer all
    >questions to his spiritual subcontractor while he perfects his golf game.


    And your lowest bidder are the scholars and traditions that you happen to like, not to mention scripture itself which apparently falls outside of your complaint about "outsourcing" authority.

    >Arguing with the average high-churchman is essentially no different than arguing with a member of
    >the Jesus Seminar. They are two sides of the same coin.


    Jesus Seminar are the ultimate skeptics of the providence of God in the Church, of which you are half way to being.

    >They are equally sceptical about the Bible. They only differ in the conclusion they draw from their
    >hyper-sceptical premise. John Spong is a consistent infidel whereas Orthodox is an inconsistent
    >infidel.


    The only one inconsistent is you, whose every argument cuts off your own legs to spite your face.

    ReplyDelete
  11. After reading this little debate, I can't help but be amazed the lack of interaction, lack of substance, begging the question responses Steve had. His ad-hominems don't help either; he is close, if not already did, commit the fallacy of ad hominem. (I can already predict how he will react to this comment..I don't know, say, "Prove it or give evidence, just don't assert. [add your favorite ad hominem])

    This does not mean that I agree with everything "orthodox" said. There were times when I thought he could have answered things better. And there were times when I thought he didn't interact with some things either.

    Of course if people actually try to understand what the other person is saying or try to charitably interpret each other to bring out the best of the other's argument, it would be a better debate. But you don't find it here.

    I would say, though, that I would probably point this little debate out to people to see how a protestant reacts when sola scriptura is challenged. Sadly, you don't find any substantial responses. It's like drinking a non-alcoholic beverage..you take a lot in but get nothing out of it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Apolonio said:

    "After reading this little debate, I can't help but be amazed the lack of interaction, lack of substance, begging the question responses Steve had."

    This thread began with a link to a document in which Steve argues for and documents his views on sola scriptura at length. Orthodox claimed to have read that document. Why does Steve need to repeat, in this comments section, everything he said, argued, and documented in another document that Orthodox claims to have read?

    "I would say, though, that I would probably point this little debate out to people to see how a protestant reacts when sola scriptura is challenged."

    Why not point them to Steve's reply to Philip Blosser or some other such work that addresses the issue at length with a lot of documentation? In this thread's comments section, Steve has been interacting with an anonymous Eastern Orthodox layman who claimed to have read Steve's lengthy defense of sola scriptura referenced at the beginning of this thread, rarely documents his assertions, often changes his arguments in mid-discussion, makes many inaccurate claims about church history, and frequently ignores or distorts what people write in response to him. To expect Steve's response to such an unreasonable person to be a representative model of "how a protestant reacts when sola scriptura is challenged" is itself unreasonable.

    ReplyDelete
  13. ORTHODOX SAID:

    “Imagine telling the apostle Paul that the church didn't believe anything. Wow.”

    Orthodox continues to peddle equivocations.

    This is a tacit admission that he has no counterargument.

    “The Tradition of the church is that part of the local traditions that was apostolicly taught.”

    Pure assertion. Where’s the supporting argument?

    “Which in the case of a forgery IS part and parcel of the author trying to convince us who they are.”

    Orthodox is now having to amend his original objection.

    In addition, the NT apocrypha do a very poor job of simulating a 1C setting.

    “LOL. Occasionally you read about some great and ambitious crimes. But the truely great crimes are the ones you never hear about. The number of those, nobody can say. The skill of the best forgers, you will never know.”

    1.This sort of hypothetical is just a diversionary tactic which does nothing to address either the internal evidence for the NT or the evidentiary quality of the NT apocrypha.

    2.As I’ve said before, appeal to deceptive hypotheticals is a double-edged sword. We can postulate indetectible Orthodox forgeries as well. Indetectible patristic forgeries. Indetectible conciliar forgeries.

    3.Finally, I’m not responsible for indetectible forgeries, any more than I’m responsible for Cartesian demons. If I’m a brain in a vat, there’s nothing I can do about it. But only a lunatic worries about whether he’s trapped in the Matrix.

    “How do you know when they are dated? From the tradition again? The tradition that you don't believe? You cannot prove that 2 Peter dates from prior to around 60AD when he is traditionally thought to have died. (There's that word again, you don't even know when he died).”

    You continue to peddle your equivocations, although you’ve been repeatedly corrected on this point. You shot your wad a long time ago.

    Not “tradition,” but historical evidence (as well as internal evidence). Tradition is not conterminous with historical evidence.

    How do you know when the church councils were dated? How do you know when the church fathers were dated? Any objection you can raise to the dating of Biblical books will only raise a parallel objection to the dating of Orthodox traditions.

    “It is if God says it is.”

    Which assumes what you need to prove.

    “There are no scholarly proofs that Esther is God-breathed. How could there be? It wasn't mentioned by Jesus. It is omitted from many early canon lists. All you can do is quote one church father against another.”

    The argument for the OT canon doesn’t depend on the church fathers. Aside from internal evidence, we turn to Jewish testimony.

    Christian theology has never been limited to the teaching of Jesus. In includes the rest of the NT as well.

    “When something doesn't exist, there is no refutation to be made.”

    I pointed you to a specific title by F. F. Bruce in which such evidence is given—which you ignore.

    “Orthodoxy knows where all the churches are, so it can find out what they are teaching. When they agree, it is infallible.”

    Once again, all we have is his tendentious faith-claim. No reason is given for why he or we should credit this claim.

    Orthodox has the mentality of a cult member.

    “We have a standard for evaluating oral traditions: whether they are accepted by the whole church.”

    i) Why should we accept your standard?

    ii) How do you define the whole church?

    iii) At what historical point must they be accepted? From the beginning? Or must they arrive at a point of consensus. Your version of the BIG CUTOVER?

    “You have no such standard other than faith in your own ability to peer back into the dark reaches of time and pretend you know which books are apostolic.”

    i) Notice that Orthodox never ever deals with actual evidence.

    ii) He would need evidence to validate his own belief in the identity of the true church and/or the identity of “the Tradition.”

    But he’s impotent to offer anything justification for his faith.

    “Maybe this forger is smarter than the average bear.”

    Maybe the so-called letters of Ignatius were written by a clever forger as well. Ya never know.

    “In any case, even if really knew Timothy, it doesn't even start to prove it is scripture.”

    That was not my only argument. And let’s remember that I was responding to the way in which Blosser framed the issue.

    “Again, you're judging clever crimes by the standard of ham fisted crimes.”

    Do you apply the same hypothetical to Orthodox tradition?

    BTW, There would be no motive to forge 2 Peter or Jude since they say nothing novel or controversial.

    The purpose of a forgery is to backdate some heresy or theological innovation to the Apostles.

    “Tradition. The church being led into all truth.”

    Orthodox is simply a parakeet who quotes the pat catchphrases and stock formulae he’s memorized from his Orthodox zookeepers.

    If he belonged to a ufology cult, it we would get appeals to the Mother Ship rather than the Mother Church.

    “So let me see. Let's say John died in 100AD, and was preaching oral tradition to 5 year olds. Let's say a few of them live to 105, and maybe even become bishops, holding to these teachings. That means the BIG CUTOVER takes place around 200 AD?”

    i) 5 year olds are not reliable tradents of the gospel. And, as I said before, oral tradition would only be binding on the original listener. It dies with the listener. Not with a third-party.

    ii) Also observe that Orthodox doesn’t given us a single historical instance of an actual five-year-old disciple of John who lived to be 105 and became a bishop.

    “They don't try and distinguish generations with the exactitude required to make a BIG CUTOVER.”

    What you’re pleased to call the Big CUTOVER doesn’t require exactitude. It varies with the original listener. Each listener dies at a different time. It’s binding on him, no one else.

    “No I'm not, I have in mind the underlying Greek terms.”

    You’re using terms without exegeting them in context.

    “No I don't, I know what the Greek means. He could have used the word didaktikos - teaching. But he chose to paradosis - something which is passed on.”

    You’re confusing words with concepts, and swapping out Pauline usage for Orthodox usage.

    You yourself equivocate over the meaning of “tradition.” Depending on the needs of your argument at the moment, sometimes tradition means oral apostolic tradition, at other times living tradition.

    “Yes there is evidence, the Tradition says they were.”

    Spoken like a well-trained cult member.

    “I never said he was "simply" a conduit. But he was partially one. "That which I received I passed onto you.... etc".”

    Now you’ve had to modify your original claim. What is more, Paul never attributes this material to “the Twelve.”

    “Oh well then, you most certainly lose, because the original audience had no idea of the pending BIG CUTOVER. All they knew is to hold to the oral traditions.”

    A simplistic misrepresentation of what Paul actually said.

    This is not about oral “tradition” generally. This is not about any merely putative oral “tradition.” Indeed, 2 Thessalonians specifically warns them against spurious apostolic claims.

    They are to hold fast to the Pauline teaching which they received direct from his own lips. That’s the context.

    The command involves a direct relationship between the apostolic speaker (Paul) and his immediate audience (the first-generation members of the Thessalonian church).

    In principle, you could extend this to a direct Pauline emissary like Timothy or Titus.

    And they certainly knew that Paul would die some day. And they certainly knew that they would die some day.

    And just in case they thought the Parousia would precede them, that event would be the Big Cutover.

    “Exegesis involves rejecting absurd conclusions.”

    You don’t furnish any exegesis. Hence, you’ve refuted nothing.

    “The age of church fathers has not ended.”

    Name me the last church father. Did he die in the 20C?

    BTW, the Orthodox do believe in their own Big Cutover.

    The early Christians who did not believe in the Bit Cutover were the Montanists. Continuing revelation.

    But unless Orthodoxy is synonymous with Montanism, then Orthodox is committed to the Big Cutover.

    If Orthodox thinks that it’s arbitrary to say when oral tradition came to an end, then it’s equally arbitrary to say when Scripture came to an end.

    So, unless Orthodox happens to subscribe to an open canon, he is committed to the Big Cutover.

    Why is the denial of continuous orality arbitrary, while denial of continuous textuality, in the form of canonical revelation, is acceptable?

    There was also a Big Cutover between the end of the OT canon and the NT canon (the Intertestamental period).

    “Neither do you name your sources on how you know 3 John was written by an apostle.”

    I don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Read Guthrie. Read Carson and Moo.

    “Then you know nothing either since you referred to ‘original intended referents’.”

    Yes, and you said “later referents” as if the existence of earlier referents implies the existence of later referents.

    You still know nothing about linguistics.

    “i.e. instead of proving your assertion, fall back to a vague muttering about prooftexting.”

    I explained my reasoning in my response to Blosser. I’m not going to give you the Reader’s Digest version.

    “It eats in the identifiable people of God.”

    And how do you identify the “identifiable” people of God?

    “Apparently you think the church is fictive and an abstraction.”

    Your concept of the church is a fictive abstraction.

    “You continue to show your ignorance of Orthodoxy. Is the Pope considering leaving the Roman church because he knows what you don't, that Orthodoxy doesn't believe the age of councils has ended?”

    Are you trying to miss the point? Why don’t you acknowledge all the same councils recognized as ecumenical by Rome if you think the conciliar age never ended?

    “So Paul passes through Corinth and gives them the Oral Tradition. He then leaves, and the church is left with the Oral deposit. The next day a new church member joins who didn't hear anything from an apostle. He is not bound by anything and can believe, teach, exhort people to do whatever he wants. And nobody can do anything about it, because he is not bound.”

    i) There’s a difference between *authoritative* testimony and *credible* testimony. Second-hand testimony can be credible without being divinely authoritative.

    If a witness is a credible witness, then it’s reasonable to believe what he relays. But his words are not the word of God. He is not a divine spokesman—unless he’s inspired.

    ii) In addition, the more links you add to the chain-of-custody, the more opportunity you afford for erroneous transmission or even outright fraud.

    “You mean the post-Christian canon of the unbelieving Jews. You cannot prove that your canon is that of the pre-Christian Jews.”

    Once again, I addressed that issue in my reply to Blosser.

    I work with the evidence that God has given us. God is responsible for what evidence he has chosen to preserve for posterity. I trust God, you don’t.

    “Actually its dependent on an ecclesiastical tradition of heretic unbelievers for the OT.”

    Thank you for advertising your antisemiticism. I take it that you mailing address is Dachau.

    “>>“It’s implausible to say that apostles only taught the things that are in the books assigned to their _>>respective names.”__>_> A straw man argument since I never argued otherwise. Are you hearing voices again?___

    “Then its time for you to admit your error in claiming that all oral and written transmission followed the same paths.”

    My you’re easily confused. To say, as I said, that it involves the same mode of transmission in the sense that, in either case, it took a person to convey the message—be it a speaker or a courier—does not imply that the message thus conveyed is conterminous in each case. The spoken word may or may not duplicate the written word.

    “You presented the thesis that oral and written transmission always went together.”

    I said nothing of the kind. What I explicitly said is that it would take a person in either case to convey the message. Whether he’s a letter-carrier or a speaker.

    A letter-carrier may or may not be a speaker, and a speaker may or may not be a letter-carrier. Your lack of logic explains a lot about your devotion to Orthodoxy.

    “What if I did believe it or not? You seem to think that there was very rapid deterioration indeed in the first 3 centuries.”

    I have no general thesis about the rate or extent of deterioration. It would vary from one place to another. It would vary according to the subject matter. It would vary according to the church father in question.

    “What if I applied the same skepticism to say, the Gospel of Matthew? Maybe it was greatly embellished in the same time. Maybe bits were fabricated later. Some have suggested for example that Matthew 28:19 was a later expansion.”

    i) To begin with, the timeframe is hardly comparable. The difference between an interval of 30 years and 300 years is quite significant to the preservation or deterioration of oral tradition.

    ii) And the date Matthew’s source material antedates the date of his Gospel.

    You are indulging in Bart Ehrman type conspiracy theories. This sort of thing has been rebutted by many textual critics and NT scholars.

    iii) Your parallel also assumes that the evidence for Matthew is on a par with the evidence for some 4C ecclesiastical tradition.

    “You can believe whatever you like, but don't try and conn us that there is anything objective about it when you accept one oral tradtion and reject another when both have the same objective level of support.”

    So the Gospel of Thomas has the same objective level of support as the martyrdom of Polycarp?

    “The OT commands the Jews to use icons.”

    I see that Orthodox has a hitherto undiscovered talent for stand-up comedy.

    “Spoken words actually don't last more than the fraction of a second they take to dissipate in the air. But Paul said to hold to them. He didn't specify how to store them or preclude you passing them on.”

    Spoken words exist in memory. The memory of the spoken word may either be committed to writing or transmitted orally.

    The memory of an uninspired listener is not on par with the authority of inspired Scripture.

    “Prior to that they bequeathed it orally.”

    Once again you revert to your simplistic notion that it was all oral before it was all textual.

    “I thought you said scripture makes you fully equipped.”

    Can you quote me on that?

    Scripture equips us for what it was intended to equip us.

    “Now you're saying it can't help you know how to deal with oral claims until you have the canon.”

    There was never a time when Christians didn’t have a canon. To begin with, there was always the OT canon, from which Jesus and the Apostles did their preaching.

    How “I” deal with oral claims? You mean, if I were a mid-1C Christian?

    Actually, we can see how local church issues were dealt with in the Apostolic church from the NT letters.

    “Not when its historically verifiable that our organization continues from the apostles.”

    Everything in the present is traceable by cause-and-effect to something in the past. Mere historical continuity from the apostles doesn’t make anything true.

    “And you have radically less faith in the providence of God in the Church.”

    You equivocate over the definition and identification of the church.

    What I believe about the church is whatever God actually says about the church.

    “Either have faith in the tradition of the church and accept the canon on that basis.”

    Faith in which traditions of which ecclesiastical claimant?

    And faith on the basis of what? Wishful thinking? Make-believe? A church raffle?

    “Because you can't deal with the consequence you may have to throw out a few books when the evidence doesn't prove complete.”

    As a matter of fact, I’ve discussed the consequences. But these are hypothetical consequences contingent on hypothetical defeaters.

    “It's so funny how every complaint you make applies to yourself in spades.”

    Even if that were true, notice, once again, that Orthodox simply punts the objection instead of showing how his own position is invulnerable to the very same objection. His alternative doesn’t “work.”

    “And your lowest bidder are the scholars and traditions that you happen to like.”

    I don’t limit my scholarship to the traditions I happen to like. My tradition is the Reformed tradition. My scholarly resources are by no means limited to the Reformed tradition.

    “APOLONIO SAID:

    After reading this little debate, I can't help but be amazed the lack of interaction, lack of substance, begging the question responses Steve had.”

    Care to give us any concrete examples of my question-begging responses?

    “His ad-hominems don't help either.”

    Actually, Apolonio’s sideswipe is pure ad hominem from start to finish since he offers no substantive interaction, but simply presents a tendentious characterization of the debate.

    Why don’t you lead by example, Apolonio?

    “This does not mean that I agree with everything "orthodox" said. There were times when I thought he could have answered things better. And there were times when I thought he didn't interact with some things either.”

    If you think that you can do a better job, then now would be a good time to start.

    “Of course if people actually try to understand what the other person is saying or try to charitably interpret each other to bring out the best of the other's argument, it would be a better debate.”

    Why should I be charitable to someone who recycles the claims of Bart Ehrman or other standard issue liberals? He tries to sow seeds of doubt wherever he can.

    The Bible is not the least bit charitable about those who try to plant seeds of doubt regarding the word of God.

    “I would say, though, that I would probably point this little debate out to people to see how a protestant reacts when sola scriptura is challenged. Sadly, you don't find any substantial responses.”

    Once again, this is nothing more than Apolonio’s question-begging characterization of the debate.

    ReplyDelete
  14. steve,

    first, it's not ad-hominem simply because i didn't attack you. the reason why im not interacting with your arguments now is because i would rather see "orthodox" and you finish this or keep going. i also don't see why i everytime i assert something, i am obliged in some way to prove it or give evidence. since i did not see this obligation, i didn't provide any examples and not providing any does not necessarily mean the assertion is meaningless. and the fact that you use ad-hominem, whether they be fallacious or not, gives me a (practical) reason not to interact with you. i interacted with paul here and i benefitted a lot. he did not make any ad-hominems. but maybe i'm wrong. maybe you're just using ad-hominems against "orthodox" and would not if you interact with me (although i do remember you making ad-hominems against me before). if so, then i would gladly interact with your arguments. but not now. not at this thread. if you want to email me or give me a call or any other means where i would show you the strength and weaknesses of your arguments, fine. i have also just contacted a well known biblical scholar on traditions to confirm whether i got something right, so maybe your opinion would be of benefit.

    jason,

    the reason why i wouldn't refer steve hay's response is because: 1) it's too long and people don't usually keep up with that and 2) steve and dr. phil got into other topics that were distracting.

    ReplyDelete
  15. >3.Finally, I’m not responsible for
    >indetectible forgeries, any more
    >than I’m responsible for Cartesian
    >demons. If I’m a brain in a vat,
    >there’s nothing I can do about it.
    >But only a lunatic worries about
    >whether he’s trapped in the Matrix.

    Ah huh. Then neither am I responsible for the "indetectible forgery" of apostolic succession being an apostolic tradition.

    Apparently you think the early church was in the Matrix, suddenly, as soon as the apostles died, completely confused about what they had taught (whilst conveniently accurately keeping the actual text and authorship information intact).

    >How do you know when the church
    >councils were dated? How do you
    >know when the church fathers were
    >dated? Any objection you can raise
    >to the dating of Biblical books
    >will only raise a parallel
    >objection to the dating of
    >Orthodox traditions.

    It would be plain foolish to claim that the overall historic picture of church history is wrong. That doesn't mean a number of individual datings or documents are wrong. The overall historic picture is what is useful as an apologetic and a means of assessing Orthodoxy compared to say Rome. However the authoritative Faith, is living in the Church.

    So you are again back to reductio ad absurdum. Apparently you think if there is one problem, everything is out the window. But this exact attitude gives you no canon. 2 Peter is scripture primarily because this is the living faith of the church, and only secondarily because we can show it from the church fathers. But if every church father was burnt tomorrow, and indeed, if every bible was burnt, the Faith would still exist, just as it did prior to the bible.

    >The argument for the OT canon
    >doesn’t depend on the church
    >fathers. Aside from internal
    >evidence, we turn to Jewish
    >testimony.

    Speaking from memory now, there is no pre-Christian Jewish testimony that Esther is scripture. None at all. Nada. So I guess by Jewish testimony you mean the testimony of the unbelievers - those same people who reject the NT canon. Amazing.

    >Once again, all we have is his
    >tendentious faith-claim. No reason
    >is given for why he or we should
    >credit this claim.

    It's not that there is no reason, it's just that you won't accept the reason. Jesus taught Paul. Paul set up churches and passed them the oral tradition. We can document the succession of bishops passing the tradition on all the way back to Paul. Whether you accept this or not doesn't mean you have been given no reason.

    >“We have a standard for evaluating
    >oral traditions: whether they are
    >accepted by the whole church.”
    >
    >i) Why should we accept your
    >standard?

    Why should I accept your standard on the canon?

    >ii) How do you define the whole
    >church?

    If the church splits we look to see who is keeping the faith. I gave you the quote from St Vincent.

    >iii) At what historical point must
    >they be accepted? From the
    >beginning? Or must they arrive at
    >a point of consensus. Your version
    >of the BIG CUTOVER?

    There must be consensus in the body of the church in communion. Since there is consensus by definition, there is no need to plan a cutover.

    >Maybe the so-called letters of
    >Ignatius were written by a clever
    >forger as well. Ya never know.

    Could be. In fact I can point you to some protestant web sites that claim exactly that. Trouble is, the evidence in favour of Ignatius being genuine is far better than some NT books.

    >Do you apply the same hypothetical
    >to Orthodox tradition?

    I can if I feel like it. I can claim that Ignatius is a forgery and it doesn't matter because the faith is Living.

    >BTW, There would be no motive to
    >forge 2 Peter or Jude since they
    >say nothing novel or
    >controversial.

    You can't know everything that was controversial back then. For all you know someone wrote it to refute a particular point with their priest.

    >>“So let me see. Let's say John
    >>died in 100AD, and was preaching
    >>oral tradition to 5 year olds.
    >>Let's say a few of them live to
    >>105, and maybe even become
    >>bishops, holding to these
    >>teachings. That means the BIG
    >>CUTOVER takes place around 200
    >>AD?”
    >
    >i) 5 year olds are not reliable
    >tradents of the gospel.

    Nobody is reliable according to you.

    >And, as I said before, oral
    >tradition would only be binding on
    >the original listener. It dies
    >with the listener. Not with a
    >third-party.

    And this 5 year old *IS* the original listener. That *IS* the premise of the question.

    >ii) Also observe that Orthodox
    >doesn’t given us a single
    >historical instance of an actual
    >five-year-old disciple of John who
    >lived to be 105 and became a
    >bishop.

    LOL, so what? We don't have the names of all bishops. And what if he was a priest, not a bishop? What's the difference? You think by attacking a minor pedant's point you can make the failed BIG CUTOVER work? We can be sure that some of the priests would have been children when John was teaching.

    >>“So Paul passes through Corinth
    >>and gives them the Oral
    >>Tradition. He then leaves, and
    >>the church is left with the Oral
    >>deposit. The next day a new
    >>church member joins who didn't
    >>hear anything from an apostle. He
    >>is not bound by anything and can
    >>believe, teach, exhort people to
    >>do whatever he wants. And nobody
    >>can do anything about it, because
    >>he is not bound.”
    >
    >i) There’s a difference between
    >*authoritative* testimony and
    >*credible* testimony. Second-hand
    >testimony can be credible without
    >being divinely authoritative.

    1) You've conceeded that oral teaching was authoritative to the 1st generation. This is tantamount to admission the apostles didn't teach sola scriptura.

    2) Now you're admitting that oral tradition can be legitimately followed if you find it "credible". So you should have no valid objection if I find certain traditions credible that you don't. After all, there is no final standard of credibility.

    3) Jesus said that we should become like little children in faith. If there is a standard for credulity, this may be it.

    4) It doesn't take a great deal of credulity for a person in the late 2nd century to believe that bishops are passing on the oral tradition.

    5) Now you have proposed a big credulity cutoff. And that is about as arbitrary as it gets.

    >If a witness is a credible
    >witness, then it’s reasonable to
    >believe what he relays. But his
    >words are not the word of God. He
    >is not a divine spokesman—unless
    >he’s inspired.

    What you're doing is equivocating, because for all the waffling distinctions you're trying to draw, you have to admit that these oral traditions had authority in the early church. If they had no authority, you could join the church 5 minutes after Paul left, and cause havoc by denying the credibility of various teachings. So you play around with labels, "credible", "inspired", "divine" till the cows come home, but the fact is they were AUTHORITATIVE, and you must admit this or be an advocate of utter anarchy in the early church, which clearly the apostles were not.


    >ii) In addition, the more links
    >you add to the chain-of-custody,
    >the more opportunity you afford
    >for erroneous transmission or even
    >outright fraud.

    The scriptures come to you via dozens of links of copying. Presumably you still believe them due to them existing in lots of places in the world in substantially the same form. i.e. The exact same criteria Orthodox use to evaluate a tradition - it's existence everywhere.

    >>“No I'm not, I have in mind the
    >>underlying Greek terms.”
    >
    >You’re using terms without
    >exegeting them in context.
    >You’re confusing words with
    >concepts, and swapping out Pauline
    >usage for Orthodox usage.

    Now you're making claims without exegeting them in context.

    >You yourself equivocate over the
    >meaning of “tradition.” Depending
    >on the needs of your argument at
    >the moment, sometimes tradition
    >means oral apostolic tradition, at
    >other times living tradition.

    They are the same.

    >>Yes there is evidence, the
    >>Tradition says they were.”
    >
    >Spoken like a well-trained cult
    >member.

    I guess Josh McDowell is a cult member too.

    >This is not about oral “tradition”
    >generally. This is not about any
    >merely putative oral “tradition.”
    >Indeed, 2 Thessalonians
    >specifically warns them against
    >spurious apostolic claims.

    Obviously. Our difference is in how to evaluate spurious claims. Presumably when evaluating a textual variant in scripture you will give great weight to a version that was used widely compared to one used in only one region. You see we weed out the forgeries the same way as you.

    >They are to hold fast to the
    >Pauline teaching which they
    >received direct from his own lips.
    >That’s the context.

    Actually that is manifestly NOT the context. Paul writes his letter to the church in Thessalonika which has already acquired more members since Paul was there. But Paul doesn't address his letter only to the subset of the church that heard him in person.

    >BTW, the Orthodox do believe in
    >their own Big Cutover.
    >
    >The early Christians who did not
    >believe in the Bit Cutover were
    >the Montanists. Continuing
    >revelation.
    >
    >But unless Orthodoxy is synonymous
    >with Montanism, then Orthodox is
    >committed to the Big Cutover.

    If a commitment to not add to the deposit of faith once for all delivered to the saints is a "cutover" that is the kind of cutover that presents no upheaval at all. Please try to come up with an argument vaguely relevant to the topic at hand.

    >There was also a Big Cutover
    >between the end of the OT canon
    >and the NT canon (the
    >Intertestamental period).

    This is not a cutover.

    >Are you trying to miss the point?
    >Why don’t you acknowledge all the
    >same councils recognized as
    >ecumenical by Rome if you think
    >the conciliar age never ended?

    Because Rome is not in the Church.

    >>“You mean the post-Christian
    >>canon of the unbelieving Jews.
    >>You cannot prove that your canon
    >>is that of the pre-Christian
    >>Jews.”
    >
    >Once again, I addressed that issue
    >in my reply to Blosser.

    ROFLOL. Your response to Blosser was an appeal to "Standard Scholarship" (whatever the hell that is) claiming that the council of Jamnia merely ratified a canon already known to all.

    But there is no evidence of that! There is simply no evidence that the pre-Christian biblical canon consisted of precisely the 49 books that protestants accept. There are a number of books that may not have been in like Esther, and others that may have been in like Baruch. It's simply glossing over the facts to simply assume without evidence that this 49 book canon was ever known prior to Jamnia.

    >I work with the evidence that God
    >has given us. God is responsible
    >for what evidence he has chosen to
    >preserve for posterity. I trust
    >God, you don’t.

    ROFLOL. Did you actually write this? I had to go back and check if it was something I wrote and you quoted, or if you actually said it.

    Apparently you are very selective in what evidence you trust that God has preserved for posterity. You don't believe what was preserved about the apostolic succession for example.

    >>“Actually its dependent on an
    >>ecclesiastical tradition of
    >>heretic unbelievers for the OT.”
    >
    >Thank you for advertising your
    >antisemiticism. I take it that you
    >mailing address is Dachau.

    ROFLOL. I suspect Godwin's law could be invoked any time now.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin's_law

    >>“Then its time for you to admit
    >>your error in claiming that all
    >>oral and written transmission
    >>followed the same paths.”
    >
    >My you’re easily confused.

    More ad hominem.

    >To say, as I said, that it
    >involves the same mode of
    >transmission in the sense that, in
    >either case, it took a person to
    >convey the message—be it a speaker
    >or a courier—does not imply that
    >the message thus conveyed is
    >conterminous in each case. The
    >spoken word may or may not
    >duplicate the written word.

    Which makes your argument completely irrelevant. So information was conveyed by messengers. Whoopee, big insight.

    “What if I applied the same skepticism to say, the Gospel of Matthew? Maybe it was greatly embellished in the same time. Maybe bits were fabricated later. Some have suggested for example that Matthew 28:19 was a later expansion.”

    >i) To begin with, the timeframe is
    >hardly comparable. The difference
    >between an interval of 30 years
    >and 300 years is quite significant
    >to the preservation or
    >deterioration of oral tradition.

    Whoa!! The oldest manuscripts of Matthew and the age of oral traditions about icons are very comparable. So if we're going to speculate about deterioration prior to the extant evidence, you've got just as big a problem.

    >ii) And the date Matthew’s source
    >material antedates the date of his
    >Gospel.

    What has that got to do with the possible corruption of a verse in Matthew, other than to introduce more problems for your faithless "prove it historically" attitude?

    >You are indulging in Bart Ehrman
    >type conspiracy theories. This
    >sort of thing has been rebutted by
    >many textual critics and NT
    >scholars.

    No, it hasn't been rebutted at all. There is both internal evidence (difference in mode of baptism of what Jesus commanded and what the apostles practiced in Acts) and external evidence (Eusebius' history of the church quoting the verse differently) that suggest it could have been changed. The only way around these arguments is to have a pre-existing commitment to the proposition of the preservation of scripture. Without this underlying faith, you are battered again by the winds of the latest theory, one minute baptising in the name of the trinity, the next in Jesus' name only, according to your personal beliefs about the weight of historical evidence.

    >iii) Your parallel also assumes
    >that the evidence for Matthew is
    >on a par with the evidence for
    >some 4C ecclesiastical tradition.

    It is!! Both the earliest manuscripts of Matthew and the date for teaching of icons and prayer to saints was incontravertibly practiced is very similar. And when the evidence does spring up for both, it is widespread.

    >>“The OT commands the Jews to use >>icons.”
    >
    >I see that Orthodox has a hitherto
    >undiscovered talent for stand-up
    >comedy.

    On the Ark—Ex. 25:18
    On the Curtains of the Tabernacle—Ex. 26:1
    On the Veil of the Holy of Holies—Ex. 26:31
    Two huge Cherubim in the Sanctuary—1st Kings 6:23
    On the Walls—1st Kings 6:29
    On the Doors—1st Kings 6:32
    And on the furnishings—1st Kings 7:29,36

    Apparently your interpretation of the OT differs from the archaeologically verified evidence from the early Jews. Why am I not surprised?

    >Spoken words exist in memory. The
    >memory of the spoken word may
    >either be committed to writing or
    >transmitted orally.

    Un huh. And the command was to hold to them, there was no restriction given on how it could be stored or held to. If I wanted teachings "held to", my inclination would be to preach them as widely as possible and tell them to hold to them as well. This is just common sense.

    >The memory of an uninspired
    >listener is not on par with the
    >authority of inspired Scripture.

    What about an uninspired scribe? You trust them apparently, even though they made mistakes.

    >Once again you revert to your
    >simplistic notion that it was all
    >oral before it was all textual.

    That's what "Standard Scholarship" indicates from their dating of the NT. It came after the church was set up.

    >There was never a time when
    >Christians didn’t have a canon. To
    >begin with, there was always the
    >OT canon, from which Jesus and the
    >Apostles did their preaching.

    Really. Except that all the ECFs differ about that canon as well. How you can functionally have a canon without knowing what it is, I'd be interested to know.

    >Mere historical continuity from
    >the apostles doesn’t make anything
    >true.

    I'll bet the historical continuity of the copying of scripture makes it true in your eyes.

    >Why should I be charitable to
    >someone who recycles the claims of
    >Bart Ehrman or other standard
    >issue liberals? He tries to sow
    >seeds of doubt wherever he can.

    LOL, you have much work to do if you think Ehrman invented the claim about Mt 28:19. For one thing, the problem is raised by the quotes of and ECF, 1600 or so years prior to Ehrman. For another thing (speaking from memory) the issue is I think referred to in NA27, the standard evangelical Greek text.

    ReplyDelete
  16. ok, it's not in NA27, but is widely known.

    ReplyDelete
  17. ORTHODOX SAID:

    “Ah huh. Then neither am I responsible for the ‘indetectible forgery’ of apostolic succession being an apostolic tradition.”

    i) So the best you can do is admit that your objection to the Protestant rule of faith would be, if valid, equally valid against your own rule of faith.

    ii) Since the NT makes no provision of apostolic succession (as you define it), that’s your problem not mine. I’m not the one whose position hinges on the existence of unverifiable oral tradition.

    “Apparently you think the early church was in the Matrix, suddenly, as soon as the apostles died, completely confused about what they had taught (whilst conveniently accurately keeping the actual text and authorship information intact).”

    This assumes that the early church had a uniform ecclesiology. You’ve been repeatedly corrected on that assumption.

    The fact that it didn’t have a uniform ecclesiology turns your own argument against you.

    “It would be plain foolish to claim that the overall historic picture of church history is wrong.”

    As usual, you are having to backpedal from your original claim. You raised an objection to the dating of the NT documents. I draw a parallel with Orthodox traditions. Once again, when your own argument is turned against you, you resort to special pleading.

    “However the authoritative Faith, is living in the Church.”

    You have yet to verify the identity of the true church. If you could, you would have by now.

    “So you are again back to reductio ad absurdum. Apparently you think if there is one problem, everything is out the window.”

    It’s a reductio ad absurdum of your *argument*, not mine. Pity you can’t keep track of your own argument, but then, what else is new?

    “2 Peter is scripture primarily because this is the living faith of the church.”

    No, it’s scripture because it was written by an inspired individual.

    You simply make things up to suit your make-believe ecclesiology.

    “And only secondarily because we can show it from the church fathers.”

    Now you’re confounding the constitutive question of what makes something scripture with the evidentiary question of how we identify scripture. Yet another example of your muddle-headed reasoning.

    “But if every church father was burnt tomorrow, and indeed, if every bible was burnt, the Faith would still exist, just as it did prior to the bible.”

    Prior to what Bible? The NT? The OT? The Pentateuch?

    “Speaking from memory now, there is no pre-Christian Jewish testimony that Esther is scripture. None at all. Nada. So I guess by Jewish testimony you mean the testimony of the unbelievers - those same people who reject the NT canon. Amazing.”

    i) For Jewish attestation to Esther, cf. R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of the New Testament Church (Eerdmans 1986), 79-80; 290; 322.

    ii) News flash: the OT antedates the Orthodox Church. So of course the Jews were the custodians of the OT scriptures. It was to the Jews that God revealed the OT in the first place.

    iii) And all the Jews were not unbelievers. There’s such a thing as a faithful remnant.

    “It's not that there is no reason, it's just that you won't accept the reason. Jesus taught Paul. Paul set up churches and passed them the oral tradition.”

    We’ve been over your equivocations and misinterpretations on this score multiple times.

    “We can document the succession of bishops passing the tradition on all the way back to Paul.”

    I’ve quoted Peter Lampe on that subject in my reply to Blosser. All you’re doing is to recycle your wormy, discredited arguments.

    “Why should I accept your standard on the canon?”

    Who cares? You were the one who initiated the current crossfire, not me. I’m under no obligation to convince you of anything.

    “If the church splits we look to see who is keeping the faith. I gave you the quote from St Vincent.”

    So you take your definition of the church from a fallible, uninspired churchman.

    “There must be consensus in the body of the church in communion. Since there is consensus by definition, there is no need to plan a cutover.”

    All you’ve done is to relocate the big cutover from the time before consensus to the (mythical) time at which consensus was achieved.

    “Trouble is, the evidence in favour of Ignatius being genuine is far better than some NT books.”

    This is an assertion, not an argument.

    And it does nothing to deflect your own doubled-edged sword when it cuts against your own position.

    “I can claim that Ignatius is a forgery and it doesn't matter because the faith is Living.”

    Except that you appeal to the church fathers to lay a foundation for “living” tradition or “living” faith. Your superstructure is no better than your substructure.

    “You can't know everything that was controversial back then. For all you know someone wrote it to refute a particular point with their priest.”

    I don’t have to know everything. I’m not God. I judge by the evidence which God has put at my disposal.

    “Nobody is reliable according to you.”

    Are you trying to play dumb? Do you think that a five-year-old can mentally transcribe the preaching of St. Paul?

    “And this 5 year old *IS* the original listener. That *IS* the premise of the question.”

    It’s fine with me if you want to use a silly example to illustrate your premise. That only serves to illustrate a silly premise.

    Why stop with a five-year-old? Why not a newborn baby?

    “LOL, so what? We don't have the names of all bishops. And what if he was a priest, not a bishop? What's the difference? You think by attacking a minor pedant's point you can make the failed BIG CUTOVER work? We can be sure that some of the priests would have been children when John was teaching.”

    i) There’s nothing pedantic about demanding factual evidence for factual claims. And if you have no evidence to redeem your hypothetical, then it’s worthless.

    ii) Moreover, if you have to resort to the testimony of a toddler who heard one of the Apostle preach to verify the detailed content of oral tradition, then you’re really on the ropes.

    “You've conceeded that oral teaching was authoritative to the 1st generation.”

    No, I was more specific than that. To the actual listeners.

    “This is tantamount to admission the apostles didn't teach sola scriptura.”

    Now you’re reverting to the same anachronistic definition of sola scriptura that I dealt with in the case of Blosser.

    “Now you're admitting that oral tradition can be legitimately followed if you find it "credible". So you should have no valid objection if I find certain traditions credible that you don't.”

    i) Now you’re disregarding my distinction between “credible” and “authoritative.”

    ii) This is not an issue of what traditions *you* find credible. Rather, you are trying to superimpose your credulity on all Christians.

    You are free to be as gullible as you please. But count me out.

    “After all, there is no final standard of credibility.”

    Fine, if you want to place Orthodox traditions on par with Big Foot sightings, you’re welcome to your credulity.

    “Jesus said that we should become like little children in faith. If there is a standard for credulity, this may be it.”

    Which, needless to say, doesn’t mean that we should put our faith in anyone and everyone—from Simon Magus to the Dalai Lama.

    Rather, one should only put childlike faith in a trustworthy source. Jesus was talking about God.

    “It doesn't take a great deal of credulity for a person in the late 2nd century to believe that bishops are passing on the oral tradition.”

    That is no way to verify a historical claim.

    “What you're doing is equivocating, because for all the waffling distinctions you're trying to draw, you have to admit that these oral traditions had authority in the early church. If they had no authority, you could join the church 5 minutes after Paul left, and cause havoc by denying the credibility of various teachings. So you play around with labels, "credible", "inspired", "divine" till the cows come home, but the fact is they were AUTHORITATIVE, and you must admit this or be an advocate of utter anarchy in the early church, which clearly the apostles were not.”

    i) If you wish to be obtuse about the distinction between credible testimony and inspired teaching, you’re welcome to your darkness.

    One doesn’t have to be a prophet to be a credible witness to a traffic accident.

    ii) You keep acting as if “chaos” is the worse-case scenario. Many cults are models of groupthink.

    iii) You also keep ignoring the diversity of Jewish opinion in 2nd Temple Judaism.

    “The scriptures come to you via dozens of links of copying. Presumably you still believe them due to them existing in lots of places in the world in substantially the same form. i.e. The exact same criteria Orthodox use to evaluate a tradition - it's existence everywhere.”

    If you think that’s the only criterion in lower criticism, then you know nothing about textual criticism. Try reading the standard works by Bruce Metzger and Emanuel Tov—among others.

    “Now you're making claims without exegeting them in context.”

    I gave my exegesis in my reply to Blosser. Must you always be such a dim bulb?

    Why many times do I have to refer to my reply to Blosser before the point sinks in? Do you suffer from ADS?

    If you disagree with my reply to Blosser, that’s one thing—but to constantly raise objections which I’ve already answered, and when I’ve repeatedly pointed you to the answers, is symptomatic of your intellectual frivolity.

    What’s your problem, anyway? Do you need the Cliff Notes version? Maybe comic strip animation?

    Can’t cope with that much documentation? Is that your problem?

    “They are the same.”

    You *say* they’re the same, but you don’t *show* they’re the same. And, indeed, they couldn’t be the same.

    Oral apostolic tradition, if authentic, would be static. It would be whatever they said at the time which was passed down. A fixed body of apostolic agrapha.

    If it’s “living,” then it’s undergoing creative redaction, in which case it’s no longer oral apostolic tradition.

    “I guess Josh McDowell is a cult member too.”

    i) This is another one of your dumb little ploys. I’ve never quoted McDowell in a single thing I’ve ever written.

    Even if you could drive a wedge between McDowell and me, that would be completely irrelevant to my own argument.

    ii) I’d add, though, that McDowell’s methodological errors are minor compared to yours. And McDowell, despite his limitations, has done a lot of good for the kingdom while people like you do nothing but harm if you get a chance.

    You drive a passenger bus over a cliff and then pass out Orthodox parachutes.

    “Actually that is manifestly NOT the context. Paul writes his letter to the church in Thessalonika which has already acquired more members since Paul was there. But Paul doesn't address his letter only to the subset of the church that heard him in person.”

    Another textbook example of your inability to do exegesis. You are confusing the letter as a whole with the command in 2:15 which is, by definition, directed to those who actually heard him speak—in addition to his written legacy.

    “If a commitment to not add to the deposit of faith once for all delivered to the saints is a "cutover" that is the kind of cutover that presents no upheaval at all. Please try to come up with an argument vaguely relevant to the topic at hand.”

    You have drawn your own line in the sand over against Montanism. That’s directly relevant to the topic at hand. Sorry if you can’t stand a dose of your own medicine, for there’s more to come.

    >There was also a Big Cutover _>between the end of the OT canon _>and the NT canon (the _>Intertestamental period).

    “This is not a cutover.”

    A curt denial is not a counterargument.

    “Because Rome is not in the Church.”

    Debate that with Blosser. I’ll watch both of you appeal to the “tradition” of “the church.”

    “ROFLOL. Your response to Blosser was an appeal to ‘Standard Scholarship’ (whatever the hell that is) claiming that the council of Jamnia merely ratified a canon already known to all.”

    Another example of your reading incomprehension. I didn’t merely cite scholarly opinion, but scholarly argumentation.

    “But there is no evidence of that! There is simply no evidence that the pre-Christian biblical canon consisted of precisely the 49 books that protestants accept. There are a number of books that may not have been in like Esther, and others that may have been in like Baruch. It's simply glossing over the facts to simply assume without evidence that this 49 book canon was ever known prior to Jamnia.”

    (i) You do nothing to actually refute the documentation I offered; (ii) you do nothing to offer any of your own documentation to the contrary, and (iii) you do nothing to offer any documentation in support of your own alternative.

    You strike out on all counts.

    “Apparently you are very selective in what evidence you trust that God has preserved for posterity. You don't believe what was preserved about the apostolic succession for example.”

    You must mean the evidence against apostolic succession.

    “Which makes your argument completely irrelevant. So information was conveyed by messengers. Whoopee, big insight.”

    Are you trying to be dense? It is relevant to the question of whether the rate or extent of dissemination would differ for written rather than oral teaching. Once again, you can’t even follow your own argument.

    “Whoa!! The oldest manuscripts of Matthew and the age of oral traditions about icons are very comparable.”

    i) Now you’re changing your original argument.

    ii) And, true to form, you make a claim about the date of oral iconographical traditions without presenting any evidence to support your claim.

    “What has that got to do with the possible corruption of a verse in Matthew, other than to introduce more problems for your faithless ‘prove it historically’ attitude.”

    i) Once again, you’re changing your original argument, which was based on comparative dating between Matthew and the church fathers.

    Every time you have to change your argument, that’s a backdoor admission that your original argument was erroneous.

    ii) I own Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Oxford 1993), which, unlike his popular potboilers, was a work of serious scholarship, and he never references Mt 28:19.

    iii) Ehrman has come under sustained criticism on many fronts. Try reading some of the reviews.

    iv) Far from being faithless, I’m following Biblical commands and admonitions like Deut 13:1-5, Mt 25:23-27, 2 Cor 11:4-15; Gal 1:8-9; 2 Thes 2:2, and 1 Jn 4:1.

    “No, it hasn't been rebutted at all. There is both internal evidence (difference in mode of baptism of what Jesus commanded and what the apostles practiced in Acts) and external evidence (Eusebius' history of the church quoting the verse differently) that suggest it could have been changed.”

    More faulty reasoning on your part:

    i) You’re assuming that this was a baptismal *formula*.

    ii) Even if it was a baptismal formula, you are also assuming that there was only one official formula.

    “Both the earliest manuscripts of Matthew and the date for teaching of icons and prayer to saints was incontravertibly practiced is very similar.”

    Now you’re conflating the date of Matthew with the date of the MSS.

    More mental confusion on your part.

    ***QUOTE***

    On the Ark—Ex. 25:18_On the Curtains of the Tabernacle—Ex. 26:1_On the Veil of the Holy of Holies—Ex. 26:31_Two huge Cherubim in the Sanctuary—1st Kings 6:23_On the Walls—1st Kings 6:29_On the Doors—1st Kings 6:32_And on the furnishings—1st Kings 7:29,36

    Apparently your interpretation of the OT differs from the archaeologically verified evidence from the early Jews. Why am I not surprised?

    ***END-QUOTE***

    Another textbook anachronism, in which you retroject the *theology* of iconography, complete with the *veneration* of icons, back into OT texts that is either absent or elsewhere prohibited.

    “Un huh. And the command was to hold to them, there was no restriction given on how it could be stored or held to.”

    i) The restriction is on the referent as well as concrete circumstances which occasioned and conditioned that command.

    ii) And, as I’ve said before, you are also isolating 2 Thes 2:15 from 2:2 and 3:17.

    “What about an uninspired scribe? You trust them apparently, even though they made mistakes.”

    i) This does nothing to undermine the distinction between a credible witness and the word of God.

    ii) Moreover, I don’t blindly trust any old MS. That’s the point of textual criticism.

    “That's what ‘Standard Scholarship’ indicates from their dating of the NT. It came after the church was set up.”

    i) This is another boneheaded statement. Even a high-churchman will grant that not all of the NT churches were planted before all of the NT documents were written.

    ii) And what is the Orthodox dating for the various NT documents?

    “Really. Except that all the ECFs differ about that canon as well. How you can functionally have a canon without knowing what it is, I'd be interested to know.”

    i) Which canon are you referring to? OT or NT?

    ii) And I didn’t mention the church fathers. I’m talking about the NT church, which inherited the OT canon from the Jews. Indeed, except for Luke (who was likely a proselyte), all the NT writers were Jews.

    “I'll bet the historical continuity of the copying of scripture makes it true in your eyes.”

    Another foolish imputation on your part. There are multiple criteria in lower criticism.

    “LOL, you have much work to do if you think Ehrman invented the claim about Mt 28:19.”

    No, the parallel extends well beyond one particular instance. You are pedaling Ehrman’s general conspiracy theories about the textual history of the NT.

    You’re simply a stooge for the devil. You ransack Ehrman and other god-hating, Christ-hating, Bible-hating liberals just like Muslims and Mormons do. You’re just another enemy of the gospel who keeps company with all the other mortal enemies of the faith once delivered.

    ReplyDelete
  18. >“Ah huh. Then neither am I responsible for the ‘indetectible forgery’ of apostolic
    >succession being an apostolic tradition.”
    >

    >i) So the best you can do is admit that your objection to the Protestant rule of
    >faith would be, if valid, equally valid against your own rule of faith.


    It would be if my faith was primarily based on my own ability to discern poorly attested points of history.

    >ii) Since the NT makes no provision of apostolic succession (as you define it),
    >that’s your problem not mine. I’m not the one whose position hinges on the
    >existence of unverifiable oral tradition.


    But your faith DOES hinge on unverifiable oral traditions about which books are God breathed.

    >This assumes that the early church had a uniform ecclesiology. You’ve been
    >repeatedly corrected on that assumption.


    Your sola-scholar-quote rule of faith does not impress me. I guess you have no primary material to back up your baseless claims.

    >>“It would be plain foolish to claim that the overall historic picture of church
    >>history is wrong.”
    >
    >As usual, you are having to backpedal from your original claim. You raised an
    >objection to the dating of the NT documents. I draw a parallel with Orthodox
    >traditions. Once again, when your own argument is turned against you, you resort
    >to special pleading.


    There's a heck of a big difference between relying on a couple of church father quotes as an essential proof of my canon, compared to the overarching picture of the church in history. Again, reductio ad absurdum.

    >>“2 Peter is scripture primarily because this is the living faith of the church.”
    >

    >No, it’s scripture because it was written by an inspired individual.


    False. Not everything Paul wrote is scripture.

    >You simply make things up to suit your make-believe ecclesiology.


    Apparently a 2000 year old church is make believe, but a johnny come lately isn't. Has the world gone mad?

    >>“And only secondarily because we can show it from the church fathers.”
    >

    >Now you’re confounding the constitutive question of what makes something scripture
    >with the evidentiary question of how we identify scripture. Yet another example of
    >your muddle-headed reasoning.

    And I could say you are confusing the categories of scripture and God-breathed. But I fail to see the point of getting into an argument about definitions, much less engaging in ad-hominem on that basis.

    >>“But if every church father was burnt tomorrow, and indeed, if every bible was
    >>burnt, the Faith would still exist, just as it did prior to the bible.”

    >

    >Prior to what Bible? The NT? The OT? The Pentateuch?


    Any or all.

    >>“Speaking from memory now, there is no pre-Christian Jewish testimony that Esther
    >>is scripture. None at all. Nada. So I guess by Jewish testimony you mean the
    >>testimony of the unbelievers - those same people who reject the NT canon.
    >>Amazing.”
    >

    >i) For Jewish attestation to Esther, cf. R. Beckwith, The Old Testament Canon of
    >the New Testament Church (Eerdmans 1986), 79-80; 290; 322.


    More sola-scholar. Why don't you list your PRIMARY sources for Esther being pre-Christian Jewish scripture.

    >ii) News flash: the OT antedates the Orthodox Church. So of course the Jews were
    >the custodians of the OT scriptures. It was to the Jews that God revealed the OT
    >in the first place.


    Big whoopee. Is there a point in stating the obvious?

    >iii) And all the Jews were not unbelievers. There’s such a thing as a faithful
    >remnant.


    Yeah, except that the protestant canon is reliant on the canon of the UNBELIEVING Jews, NOT the faithful remnant.

    >>“We can document the succession of bishops passing the tradition on all the way
    >>back to Paul.”
    >

    >I’ve quoted Peter Lampe on that subject in my reply to Blosser. All you’re doing
    >is to recycle your wormy, discredited arguments.


    LOL, you quoted one of your sola-scholar authorities again did you? Should I be impressed?

    >>“Why should I accept your standard on the canon?”
    >

    >Who cares? You were the one who initiated the current crossfire, not me. I’m under
    >no obligation to convince you of anything.


    News Flash: You start threads on this blog, not me.

    >>“If the church splits we look to see who is keeping the faith. I gave you the
    >>quote from St Vincent.”
    >

    >So you take your definition of the church from a fallible, uninspired churchman.


    Who said that everyone he asked in the church gave him the same answer.

    >>“There must be consensus in the body of the church in communion. Since there is
    >>consensus by definition, there is no need to plan a cutover.”
    >
    >All you’ve done is to relocate the big cutover from the time before consensus to >the (mythical) time at which consensus was achieved.


    A transition to the full understanding of a theological point can hardly be compared to a change in the very source of authority itself.

    >>“Trouble is, the evidence in favour of Ignatius being genuine is far better than
    >>some NT books.”
    >

    >This is an assertion, not an argument.

    This is not really the place to enumerate, but for example, John Chrysostom, out of over 10,000 NT quotes in his writings, never ever quotes 2 Peter or 3 John. But he writes whole homilies on Ignatius, quoting his letters.

    >And it does nothing to deflect your own doubled-edged sword when it cuts against
    >your own position.


    I don't need to believe the church was always right in every place. All I have to believe is the church was led into truth. Without that belief, you have no canon.

    >>“I can claim that Ignatius is a forgery and it doesn't matter because the faith is
    >>Living.”
    >

    >Except that you appeal to the church fathers to lay a foundation for “living”
    >tradition or “living” faith. Your superstructure is no better than your
    >substructure.


    I don't need to believe every last church father to get an overall picture of the faith of the church.

    >>“You can't know everything that was controversial back then. For all you know >>someone wrote it to refute a particular point with their priest.”
    >

    >I don’t have to know everything. I’m not God. I judge by the evidence which God
    >has put at my disposal.


    Ahh, sola-bookmaker.

    >>“Nobody is reliable according to you.”
    >
    >Are you trying to play dumb? Do you think that a five-year-old can mentally
    >transcribe the preaching of St. Paul?


    This is silly. If I change it from a 5 year old to a 15 year old and move the BIG CUTOVER from 200AD to 190AD does it actually help your argument? Talk about attacking like a pedant to distract attention from the fact you are devoid of reason.

    >>i) There’s nothing pedantic about demanding factual evidence for factual claims.
    >>And if you have no evidence to redeem your hypothetical, then it’s worthless.


    Yah, right. It's a way out hypothetical to say that some of John's disciples probably became presbyters. Puhlease. If your theological system can't cope with the possibility that disciples of an apostle become presbyters, you're in a pretty sad situation.

    >>“You've conceeded that oral teaching was authoritative to the 1st generation.”
    >
    >No, I was more specific than that. To the actual listeners.


    Whatever. It was authoritative to those listening to the apostles.

    >>“This is tantamount to admission the apostles didn't teach sola scriptura.”
    >

    >Now you’re reverting to the same anachronistic definition of sola scriptura that I
    >dealt with in the case of Blosser.


    LOL. This is what you call dealing with something:

    "Sola Scriptura is tied to the end-stage of progressive revelation—the point at
    which all revelation to be inscripturated has been inscripturated."

    What on earth is that? Just a stupid protestant bare assertion that has nothing to do with the point at hand. Either the apostles taught sola scriptura or they didn't. Thankyou for admitting they didn't.

    >>“Now you're admitting that oral tradition can be legitimately followed if you find
    >>it "credible". So you should have no valid objection if I find certain traditions
    >>credible that you don't.”
    >
    >i) Now you’re disregarding my distinction between “credible” and “authoritative.”


    Apparently one leads to the other according to you. If a book is "credible" as apostolic, you proceed to elevate it to the level of "authoritative". And if the bishop in your 1st C church tells you something credible that the apostles taught, it becomes "authoritative" in the church.

    >ii) This is not an issue of what traditions *you* find credible. Rather, you are
    >trying to superimpose your credulity on all Christians.


    Oh, and you don't try and superimpose what biblical canon you find credible onto Christians? Yah right. Puhlease. And the 1st C church, prior to scripture didn't try to superimpose their understanding of the apostles' teaching onto new converts? Yah right.

    >You are free to be as gullible as you please. But count me out.


    So who believes more than you is "gullible", and who believes less I guess you would label "liberal". sola-bookmaker.

    >>“Jesus said that we should become like little children in faith. If there is a
    >>standard for credulity, this may be it.”
    >

    >Which, needless to say, doesn’t mean that we should put our faith in anyone and
    >everyone—from Simon Magus to the Dalai Lama.


    But apparently he built a church with presbyters in charge prior to scripture being written.

    >>“It doesn't take a great deal of credulity for a person in the late 2nd century
    >>to believe that bishops are passing on the oral tradition.”
    >

    >That is no way to verify a historical claim.


    As if late 2nd C Christians either were, or could be expected to be wandering around like a scholar verifying every Christian historical claim.

    >i) If you wish to be obtuse about the distinction between credible testimony and
    >inspired teaching, you’re welcome to your darkness.


    Why draw a distinction that has no functional difference? If something is authoritative, it is authoritative, period. Trying to distinguish categories is just navel gazing.

    >ii) You keep acting as if “chaos” is the worse-case scenario. Many cults are >models of groupthink.


    There's nothing wrong with groupthink, if the "think" in the group is the truth.

    >iii) You also keep ignoring the diversity of Jewish opinion in 2nd Temple Judaism.


    Which has nothing to do with the issue at hand.

    >“The scriptures come to you via dozens of links of copying. Presumably you still
    >believe them due to them existing in lots of places in the world in substantially
    >the same form. i.e. The exact same criteria Orthodox use to evaluate a tradition -
    >it's existence everywhere.”

    >

    >If you think that’s the only criterion in lower criticism, then you know nothing
    >about textual criticism. Try reading the standard works by Bruce Metzger and
    >Emanuel Tov—among others.


    Apparently you don't even know what lower criticism is. Knowing whether a book remains in substantially the same state without large corruption is a question of higher criticism.

    >If you disagree with my reply to Blosser, that’s one thing—but to constantly raise
    >objections which I’ve already answered, and when I’ve repeatedly pointed you to
    >the answers, is symptomatic of your intellectual frivolity.
    >

    >What’s your problem, anyway? Do you need the Cliff Notes version? Maybe comic
    >strip animation?


    I thought what you gave us WAS the comic version. I guess I find your sola-scholar approach quite irrelevant.

    >Oral apostolic tradition, if authentic, would be static. It would be whatever they
    >said at the time which was passed down. A fixed body of apostolic agrapha.
    >

    >If it’s “living,” then it’s undergoing creative redaction, in which case it’s no
    >longer oral apostolic tradition.


    Non sequitur. Wrong definition of "living".

    >>“I guess Josh McDowell is a cult member too.”
    >
    >ii) I’d add, though, that McDowell’s methodological errors are minor compared to
    >yours. And McDowell, despite his limitations, has done a lot of good for the
    >kingdom while people like you do nothing but harm if you get a chance.


    LOL, you're happy for McDowell to make an argument if its good apologetics. But if it hurts your position, you don't want to know.

    >>“Actually that is manifestly NOT the context. Paul writes his letter to the church
    >>in Thessalonika which has already acquired more members since Paul was there. But >>Paul doesn't address his letter only to the subset of the church that heard him in
    >>person.”
    >

    >Another textbook example of your inability to do exegesis. You are confusing the
    >letter as a whole with the command in 2:15 which is, by definition, directed to
    >those who actually heard him speak—in addition to his written legacy.


    There is no such definition. He tell the CHURCH to hold to the traditions passed on to them whether by word or letter. Have you thought of making your own bible version rewritten to include your peculiar protestant defintions?

    >Another example of your reading incomprehension. I didn’t merely cite scholarly
    >opinion, but scholarly argumentation.


    Sola scholar. Not an actual argument do you dare to produce. Not a one.

    >>“Which makes your argument completely irrelevant. So information was conveyed by
    >>messengers. Whoopee, big insight.”
    >

    >Are you trying to be dense? It is relevant to the question of whether the rate or
    >extent of dissemination would differ for written rather than oral teaching. Once
    >again, you can’t even follow your own argument.


    Pure speculation. Just because both can go at the same speed, doesn't mean they actually did in the differing political, ecclesiastical and factual situations at the different times. That's like saying that because two messengers go the same speed they must have got to Spain and Moscow at the same time.

    >“Whoa!! The oldest manuscripts of Matthew and the age of oral traditions about >icons are very comparable.”
    >
    >i) Now you’re changing your original argument.


    No I'm not.

    >ii) And, true to form, you make a claim about the date of oral iconographical
    >traditions without presenting any evidence to support your claim.


    I didn't realise you were completely ignorant of church history.

    >>“What has that got to do with the possible corruption of a verse in Matthew,
    >>other than to introduce more problems for your faithless ‘prove it historically’
    >>attitude.”
    >

    >i) Once again, you’re changing your original argument, which was based on
    >comparative dating between Matthew and the church fathers.


    No I'm not.

    >Every time you have to change your argument, that’s a backdoor admission that your
    >original argument was erroneous.


    Every time you make an empty meta-argument or irrelevant pedant argument, that’s a backdoor admission that you have no answers.

    >ii) I own Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Oxford 1993), which,
    >unlike his popular potboilers, was a work of serious scholarship, and he never
    >references Mt 28:19.


    YOU accuse ME of following Ehrman! Now you say he doesn't mention it! I await your retraction and apology.

    >iii) Ehrman has come under sustained criticism on many fronts. Try reading some of
    >the reviews.


    Whoopee. Protestants scholars having fisticufs doesn't prove a whole lot. Ehrman spent a good part of his book trying to disprove verses in Luke that weren't included in standard protestant texts like Westcott Hort, NA-25 and texts based on them. So the pendulum of protestant scholars swing back and forward. How long should we wait till you've figured out the truth?

    >“No, it hasn't been rebutted at all. There is both internal evidence (difference >in mode of baptism of what Jesus commanded and what the apostles practiced in
    >Acts) and external evidence (Eusebius' history of the church quoting the verse >differently) that suggest it could have been changed.”
    >

    >More faulty reasoning on your part:
    >

    >i) You’re assuming that this was a baptismal *formula*.
    >

    >ii) Even if it was a baptismal formula, you are also assuming that there was only
    >one official formula.


    Yes, it's hard to know what assumptions to start out with. That's why there are a bunch of "Jesus only" churches who don't find your assumptions credible. Their bookmakers verses yours.

    >“Both the earliest manuscripts of Matthew and the date for teaching of icons and
    >prayer to saints was incontravertibly practiced is very similar.”
    >

    >Now you’re conflating the date of Matthew with the date of the MSS.


    No I'm not. The issue is dating the earliest evidence of a tradition or fact. In this case, you have to trust the church hasn't changed Matthew, just like you have to trust the Church on icons.

    More mental confusion on your part.

    >Another textbook anachronism, in which you retroject the *theology* of
    >iconography, complete with the *veneration* of icons, back into OT texts that is
    >either absent or elsewhere prohibited.


    So now having been defeated on icons, you're trying to inject veneration.

    Every time you have to change your argument, that’s a backdoor admission that your
    original argument was erroneous.

    “Un huh. And the command was to hold to them, there was no restriction given on how it could be stored or held to.”

    >i) The restriction is on the referent as well as concrete circumstances which
    >occasioned and conditioned that command.


    Nonsense. You're just arbitrarily inserting an artificial restriction, as if I said "love one another" was also only applicable to their "concrete circumstances".

    >ii) And, as I’ve said before, you are also isolating 2 Thes 2:15 from 2:2 and
    >3:17.


    Not at all. I would agree fully that false apostles must be rejected.

    >“What about an uninspired scribe? You trust them apparently, even though they made
    >mistakes.”
    >

    >i) This does nothing to undermine the distinction between a credible witness and
    >the word of God.


    Yes, a particular copy of the word of God (at least prior to textual criticism, and possibly even afterwards) depends on an INDIVIDUAL scribe getting it right.

    But the Oral Tradition is the understanding of the church as a whole, the sum of all credible witnesses.

    >ii) Moreover, I don’t blindly trust any old MS. That’s the point of textual
    >criticism.


    Another artifact of modern scholarship impossible before the modern era. I guess we had to wait for modern scholarship so we could know the Faith.

    >>“That's what ‘Standard Scholarship’ indicates from their dating of the NT. It
    >>came after the church was set up.”
    >

    >i) This is another boneheaded statement. Even a high-churchman will grant that not
    >all of the NT churches were planted before all of the NT documents were written.


    If they weren't planted before all the NT documents were written, why would you label them an NT church?

    >ii) And what is the Orthodox dating for the various NT documents?


    Don't know, and it doesn't matter because I don't have to rely on one particular theory being right to have the correct canon.

    >>“Really. Except that all the ECFs differ about that canon as well. How you can
    >>functionally have a canon without knowing what it is, I'd be interested to know.”
    >

    >i) Which canon are you referring to? OT or NT?


    Either or both, it doesn't matter.

    >ii) And I didn’t mention the church fathers. I’m talking about the NT church,
    >which inherited the OT canon from the Jews. Indeed, except for Luke (who was
    >likely a proselyte), all the NT writers were Jews.


    The NT church inherited the Septuagint from the Jews, which apparently didn't have the OT canon from the Jews, if we are to believe your unproven, totally fabricated claims about what the Jew's canon was. Of course it all depends on what Jews we are talking about. And the earliest church fathers apparently are ignorant of what they "inherited", because they all exhibit differences to the protestant canon of the OT.

    >>“I'll bet the historical continuity of the copying of scripture makes it true in
    >>your eyes.”
    >

    >Another foolish imputation on your part. There are multiple criteria in lower
    >criticism.


    Again you confuse higher and lower criticism.

    >No, the parallel extends well beyond one particular instance. You are pedaling
    >Ehrman’s general conspiracy theories about the textual history of the NT.


    Am I? But I thought you were promoting bookmaker Christianity. Everyone with their own opinion of what is credible in the 21st century, peering back into the gloom of 1st century Christianity. It's not that you don't like Ehrman's methods, you just don't like his odds. You run your own odds ticket.

    >You’re simply a stooge for the devil. You ransack Ehrman and other god-hating,
    >Christ-hating, Bible-hating liberals just like Muslims and Mormons do. You’re just
    >another enemy of the gospel who keeps company with all the other mortal enemies of
    >the faith once delivered.

    I ransack them, because they have so much in common with you. In fact, you are all in the same boat because you all arise from the same errors.

    ReplyDelete
  19. orthodox said...

    “It would be if my faith was primarily based on my own ability to discern poorly attested points of history.”

    In other words, you can’t verify the historical claims of the Orthodox church.

    “But your faith DOES hinge on unverifiable oral traditions about which books are God breathed.”

    Sheer assertion—disregarding stated arguments to the contrary.

    “Your sola-scholar-quote rule of faith does not impress me. I guess you have no primary material to back up your baseless claims.”

    The scholars sift the primary sources.

    “There's a heck of a big difference between relying on a couple of church father quotes as an essential proof of my canon…”

    A straw man argument since Patristic testimony is simply one line of evidence.

    “Compared to the overarching picture of the church in history.”

    Meaning you don’t have a uniform “Tradition,” just an “overarching picture.”

    And what happens when there’s more than one arch, viz. Catholics, Copts, Orthodox, Protestants, &c.?

    “Apparently a 2000 year old church is make believe, but a johnny come lately isn't.”

    You don’t have a 2000-year-old church. What you have is a theological tradition, which you can trace from the present back to the past. The same can be said for Catholicism and Evangelicalism.

    “More sola-scholar. Why don't you list your PRIMARY sources for Esther being pre-Christian Jewish scripture.”

    Because Beckwith exhibits and evaluates the primary witnesses. Sorry you’re allergic to major scholarship. That speaks ill of your position.

    “Is there a point in stating the obvious?”

    For people who ignore the obvious—like you.

    “LOL, you quoted one of your sola-scholar authorities again did you? Should I be impressed?”

    The fact that you’re incompetent to deal with scholarly counterevidence is sufficient refutation of your own position.

    “A transition to the full understanding of a theological point can hardly be compared to a change in the very source of authority itself.”

    To the contrary, you are redefining tradition from oral apostolic tradition to an evolving interpretation.

    “This is not really the place to enumerate, but for example, John Chrysostom, out of over 10,000 NT quotes in his writings, never ever quotes 2 Peter or 3 John. But he writes whole homilies on Ignatius, quoting his letters.”

    Chrysostom is too late to serve as a historical witness to the NT canon.

    “I don't need to believe the church was always right in every place. All I have to believe is the church was led into truth.”

    You have done nothing to historically identify or verify the subset of theological movements which you equate with the true church.

    “I don't need to believe every last church father to get an overall picture of the faith of the church.”

    Back to your face-saving “overall picture.”

    “What on earth is that? Just a stupid protestant bare assertion that has nothing to do with the point at hand.”

    I guess you suffer from short-term memory loss. I presented supporting arguments in my reply to Blosser.

    “Apparently one leads to the other according to you. If a book is ‘credible’ as apostolic, you proceed to elevate it to the level of ‘authoritative’.”

    i) Now you’re changing the subject. Not whether a “book” is credibly apostolic, but oral tradition.

    ii) Furthermore, as I’ve said on multiple occasions, the evidence for the canon isn’t limited to external evidence alone. You really need to work on your short-term memory loss. Would brain surgery help?

    “And the 1st C church, prior to scripture didn't try to superimpose their understanding of the apostles' teaching onto new converts?”

    My you’re think-headed. Well, I guess that saves on football helmets and Harley headgear.

    The 1C church was never prior to Scripture. To begin with, the OT was prior to the 1C church. Sorry you’re too dim to absorb relative chronology.

    In addition, as I’ve said on multiple occasions, it’s not a case wherein all the 1C churches were planted prior to the composition of all the NT writings.

    You’re repeated failure to cope with counterarguments bodes ill for your position.

    “But apparently he built a church with presbyters in charge prior to scripture being written.”

    Apparently, your Orthodox indoctrination filled up every spare inch of room in your cranium so that you are unable to even register a repeated argument to the contrary—much less rebut it. No space left for you to learn anything new.

    “Which has nothing to do with the issue at hand.”

    Once again, are you trying to be a dim bulb? As I’ve pointed out on multiple occasions, the state of 2nd temple Judaism is a witness to how God has chosen to administer the covenant community.

    “Apparently you don't even know what lower criticism is. Knowing whether a book remains in substantially the same state without large corruption is a question of higher criticism.”

    It’s this sort of klutzy, inveterate, unteachable ignorance that ruins your case. Lower criticism is a synonym for textual criticism. The purity or corruption of the text is the subject of lower criticism.

    “LOL, you're happy for McDowell to make an argument if its good apologetics.”

    You continue to make pig-ignorant claims no matter how often you’ve been corrected. As I said before, I’ve never cited McDowell in support of my own position, whether with reference to the canon or anything else.

    “There is no such definition. He tell the CHURCH to hold to the traditions passed on to them whether by word or letter.”

    Sorry you’re impervious to the real life setting. Try starting with 2 Thes 1:1. What’s the letter addressed to? The church of Thessalonica, c. 50-51.

    Not the church in general. Not the universal church. Not the church in every time and place.

    “Sola scholar. Not an actual argument do you dare to produce. Not a one.”

    Once more, are you trying to be obtuse? I produced my arguments in reply to Blosser, among others. This is in the public record. Only a mouse-click away.

    “Pure speculation. Just because both can go at the same speed, doesn't mean they actually did in the differing political, ecclesiastical and factual situations at the different times.”

    Now you’re trying to change the subject—after your initial claim failed. You are the one who insists on the temporal priority of orality over textuality. I merely show that there’s no basis for your insistence.

    >ii) I own Ehrman’s The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Oxford 1993), which, _>unlike his popular potboilers, was a work of serious scholarship, and he never _>references Mt 28:19.

    “YOU accuse ME of following Ehrman! Now you say he doesn't mention it! I await your retraction and apology.”

    Fine, give me the pagination in The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture for his discussion of Mt 28:19.

    “How long should we wait till you've figured out the truth?”

    That depends. For a slow mind like yours, it might take forever for you to figure out the truth. But for those of us who read the reviews, it shouldn’t take very long.

    “In this case, you have to trust the church hasn't changed Matthew.”

    Your monolithic reference to “the church.” The external evidence for the canon is diverse in time and place.

    >Another textbook anachronism, in which you retroject the *theology* of _>iconography, complete with the *veneration* of icons, back into OT texts that is _>either absent or elsewhere prohibited.

    “So now having been defeated on icons, you're trying to inject veneration.”

    You’re a funny guy—albeit unintentionally. An “icon” has a specific definition and function in Orthodox theology. That’s not something you can exegete from the OT texts. And, indeed, you don’t even try.

    The veneration of icons is a basic element of iconography. Something that runs contrary to the OT.

    “Nonsense. You're just arbitrarily inserting an artificial restriction, as if I said "love one another" was also only applicable to their ‘concrete circumstances’.”

    Elementary linguistics.

    And no, not everything that’s true for one church is true for every other church. What is true of the Galatians isn’t necessarily true of the Philippians. What is true of the Corinthians isn’t necessarily true of the Ephesians. What is true of the Laodiceans isn’t necessarily true of the Philadelphians.

    “But the Oral Tradition is the understanding of the church as a whole, the sum of all credible witnesses.”

    This is a big, fuzzy, amorphous, intangible abstraction. Let’s see some detailed documentation.

    “Another artifact of modern scholarship impossible before the modern era. I guess we had to wait for modern scholarship so we could know the Faith.”

    i) It’s possible for an individual to have a true belief, even if his believe is accidentally true, or even if he couldn’t prove it.

    An individual Christian can have a reliable, critical edition of the NT even if he is not a textual critic in his own right.

    But if we’re going to get into a debate over rival religious claimants like Catholicism, Evangelicalism, and Orthodoxy, then there’s no substitute for reason and evidence.

    ii) And there’s nothing novel about textual criticism. The Massoretes were textual critics. Origen was a textual critic.

    “If they weren't planted before all the NT documents were written, why would you label them an NT church?”

    Now you’re equivocating. They are instances of the new covenant community.

    >ii) And what is the Orthodox dating for the various NT documents?

    “Don't know.”

    So you don’t know your own tradition.

    “The NT church inherited the Septuagint from the Jews, which apparently didn't have the OT canon from the Jews, if we are to believe your unproven, totally fabricated claims about what the Jew's canon was.”

    I cited evidence in support of my claims, you haven’t. So what’s the basis for your belief? More of your fact-free wishful thinking?

    “But I thought you were promoting bookmaker Christianity. Everyone with their own opinion of what is credible in the 21st century, peering back into the gloom of 1st century Christianity. It's not that you don't like Ehrman's methods, you just don't like his odds. You run your own odds ticket.”

    Once again, are you trying to play dumb, or does this just come naturally?

    Some arguments are better than others. Not all evidence is equally good.

    If you think otherwise, then you can never verify the Orthodox tradition over against rival claimants.

    Come to think of it, you never have. Well, at least that makes you a consistent sycophant. Your bishop winds you up like the good little toy soldier your are, and you march dutifully over the cliff, to his drumbeat.

    ReplyDelete