But I would like to know what you use to determine what is "orthodox" and what is not.1. Since it appears Touchstone missed it, here's what Gene said in his very first paragraph: "My standards are not at all arbitrary. I have exegetical reasons for holding to a confession of faith that includes Sola Fide..."
In the context of Gene's use of the words, what are "exegetical reasons" based on? Exegesis of the Bible.
And, in turn, good exegesis of the Bible is what good confessions of faith are themselves built on.
2. Now let's ask Touchstone the same question. What is Touchstone's own measure or standard for orthodoxy? Well, at this point it seems to be what he vaguely terms "catholic consensus." As Touchstone puts it, "I offered the 'catholic consensus' understanding, which, by my reading is completely uncontroversial among church historians."
a. First, what does Touchstone mean by "catholic consensus"? Is it the consensus of the entire or at least the majority of the church over a particular period of time? But, for example, as Gene has already noted, the Arians took over after Nicea. Does Touchstone consider the Arians orthodox?
b. Plus appealing to "catholic consensus" actually begs the question. Who or what determines "catholic consensus" in the first place? What is "catholic consensus" itself based on? Is it the "church historians" Touchstone writes about above? If so, which ones, and more to the point, from where do church historians derive authority to define orthodoxy?
3. Gene rightly points out: "The onus is on you [Touchstone] to show why the Ancient Creeds are the ones which are 'the' ones to hold in order for a person to make a credible profession of faith. I'm simply asking you to make good on your claim."
Indeed, that's the real issue. Earlier Touchstone mentions that he holds to the Nicene and Apostles' Creed and that these are what define him as orthodox. But why these creeds and why not others, as Gene has noted? (Let alone whether Touchstone actually does consistently hold to these creeds in his Christian profession.)
Again, and as Touchstone himself asks, what standard or measure does he use to determine what's orthodox from what's not? What is Touchstone's own basis for holding to certain creeds and confessions over others? "Catholic consensus"? Church historians? Bishops and councils? Will he join the chorus of voices which sing sola ecclesia (e.g. the RCC, the LDS)? Himself -- after all, he is a self-proclaimed touchstone? All of these? Some of these? Who/what/how much will he accommodate? Something else entirely?
(I suspect Touchstone is at least partly reluctant to answer with something along the lines of "a fair exegesis of the Scriptures" because he knows if that's the case, and if he has to exegete actual texts of Scripture to prove his point(s), he won't have as much wiggle room in his words as he might've otherwise.)
4. In any case, the more I read him, the more convinced I am that, even at best, Touchstone sadly exemplifies some of the most discouraging and in fact unorthodox aspects and trends of the Emergent Church movement rather than (what Touchstone presumably wants others to believe) its more positive ones. As Al Mohler has said, "Orthodoxy must be generous, but it cannot be so generous that it ceases to be orthodox."