“Attempting to throw stones over the fence onto us does not result in you having a defensible position.”
i) And, of course, we could say exactly the same thing in reverse, for all he ever attempts to do is to attack our position and then act as if Orthodoxy wins by default.
ii) Moreover, we—unlike him—don’t limit ourselves to critiquing his position, for we present many positive arguments in defense of our own position.
“Show us how the Jews knew the canon of scripture. Did they have an historical methodology that Jason advocates? Were they able to prove that every book from Genesis to Esther to Malachi was both (a) written by a bona-fide prophet and (b) written by who it was purported to be written by? Or did they rely on Tradition?”
i) Now he’s resorting to equivocation. The parallel would only hold if 2nd temple Judaism had the same polity as Orthodox ecclesiology. Since it didn’t, then Jewish tradition doesn’t mean the same thing as Orthodox tradition.
ii) I’d add that the way one person knows something is not necessarily the way another person knows something. Differences in time and place may necessitate a different methodology.
For example, the apostle John knew what he did about Jesus because he was an eyewitness to the public and private ministry of Jesus.
That methodology wouldn’t work for me since, by the same token, I am not an eyewitness to the public and private ministry of Jesus. So I must rely on a difference source of information. I rely on knowledge by description rather than knowledge by acquaintance.
Or, to take a different example, my elderly mother learned the rebel war cry as a young girl from her elderly great aunt Cinderella, who had two brothers who served in the Confederate army.
Does it follow that a modern civil war historian like Shelby Foote either could or should learn about the rebel war cry in the same way?
No, for he may not have access to that kind of direct, oral history. Yet he may be able to learn about the rebel war cry from another source of information.
To say that Protestant historical methodology is false because it doesn’t reproduce the mode of knowledge available to Jews living two or three thousand years ago is nonsensical and unintelligent. Our own methodology will differ to the degree that our historical situation is different. We have a different epistemic access point.
iii) And this is hardly distinctive to Protestant methodology. When a patrologist like Jaroslav Pelikan writes a history of the early church, he can’t write about the life of Chrysostom from the same vantage point as Chrysostom would write about his own life. Rather, he uses the same techniques as F. F. Bruce would use.
“So you have no infallible revelation because there is no divine revelation about what is divine revelation.”
This is a regressive fallacy.
“Amongst all the obfuscation, what we are never told by protestants is what the God-approved method of finding the truth is, whether concerning the canon, or anything else, both for Israel and for the Church.”
i) There are different modes of knowledge for different objects of knowledge. Sometimes a Bible writer will appeal to sense knowledge (e.g. 1 Jn 1:1.ff.).
ii) At other times a Bible writer will appeal to extrabiblical sources of information to supplement the record, such as The Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kg 11:41), The Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kgs 14:29, &c), The Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kgs 14:19, &c.), or The Annals of the Kings of Media and Persia (Esther 10:2).
So there’s nothing inherently unscriptural about consulting extrascriptural records as a potential source of historical knowledge. But that has to be sifted.
“Jason seems to be conceeding that the historical argument was a loser.”
Jason conceded no such thing.
“It didn't work for the Jews, and it doesn't work for the Church either.”
I’ve already discussed his pragmatic criterion.
“If it doesn't work, it can hardly have been God's plan for his people could it?”
i) Assuming, for the sake of argument, that something doesn’t work, how does it follow that something unworkable lies outside the plan of God?
According to Orthodox’s own definition, the world is full of things that don’t work. Are these pointless, unpremeditated events that catch God off-guard?
Is Orthodox an open theist who believes that God is surprised by the future? That God must engage in damage control?
Or is he a Manichean who believes in a good God and an evil God?
ii) Speaking for myself, I believe that everything happens for a purpose. Everything works in the way that God intended it to work. Everything has a function in the plan of God. Everything is in perfect working order, as a means to an end.
But that’s just me. A Manichean-cum-open-theist like Orthodox would beg to differ.
“I can see the Church mentioned in scripture as the pillar of the truth,”
He sees Orthodoxy in scripture because he has Orthodoxy etched on his glasses. I’ve already discussed this acontextual interpretation and misrendering of 1 Tim 3:15 in reference to Blosser. But Orthodox is habitually too dishonest to engage the counterargument. He simply repeats his original, one and a half arguments, as if nothing was ever said to the contrary.
“This whole prophesy had ceased theory is more of a later Jewish theory as an apologetic against Christianity.”
Once again, I already discussed this with reference to Blosser. Consult the references to Aune and Ridderbos.
“Had prophesy ceased? Wasn't John the Baptist a prophet?”
An especially bone-headed statement since the status of John the Baptist and, indeed, the resumption of prophecy in the Lucan nativity accounts, signals the dawn of the Messianic age.
“How are traditions, and not just any traditions, but traditions of anti-Christian Jews a THEOLOGICAL guide? Whether prophesy ceased is not an historical question it is a theological question.”
i) No, it’s a historical question with theological implications.
iii) Observe, once more, his Neonazi antipathy to the Jews. Is my opponent a skinhead or an Orthodox believer?
Oh, I forgot—that’s a false dichotomy.
“And why do you believe it anyway, being as it is contained in what you consider non-scriptural books?? Total inconsistency.”
Is Orthodox playing dumb, or is he really that dumb? He’s been repeatedly corrected on his caricature of sola Scripture by Gene and others.
“That's strange because a lot of protestants advise reading the deutero canonicals as a historical perspective on the so-called inter testamental period. And Josephus who you appeal to, uses it as a record just as authentic in his history as the proto-canonical books. But I guess your favourite scholars know all, right?”
Is he trying to be obtuse, or does this just come naturally? The intertestamental literature is not all of a piece. Some of it is pseudepigraphal, some of it is not. Some of it is historical, while some of it is fictitious.
The fact that scholars regard 1 Maccabees as a fairly reliable historical source doesn’t commit them to the same assessment of Bel and the Dragon.
“You've given a method, but then conceeded it doesn't really work very well, especially for Israel. Doesn't sound like the God-inspired method to me.”
As far as that goes, we don’t need inspiration where providence will do.
“I don't deny the concept, what I deny is that it is authoritatively exercised by individuals, as opposed to the body of Christ collectively. If it is by individuals, then we have chaos, and you've got no basis to criticise anybody's canon.”
More chest-thumping bravado, as if all arguments are on a par.
“The evidence is in the bible that the apostles asked the Church to hold to the traditions. Funny that exactly what they asked the Church to do is a method that can work and which the Church actually did. But you know better as usual.”
Yes, we do know better since Orthodox is willing to prevaricate about what the Bible actually says. He’s alluding to a verse by one of the apostles to one local church.
But in order to pad his case, due to insufficient evidence, he changes a singular referent to a plural, as well as morphing a local church into the universal church.
“It's an apologetic, but it's not an authority in the church. You keep appealing to Josephus (mistakenly I believe) and yet you would not consider him an authority in the church would you? Why does a sola-scriptura-ist keep referring to historical sources as if they are some kind of authority?”
Why does a dumb-bunny like Orthodox continually misrepresent sola Scriptura no matter how often he’s been corrected?
“So now some specialist books are the authority in the Church?”
i) I prefer scholarship to non-scholarship.
ii) Notice, too, the habitual duplicity of Orthodox. On the one hand, he will challenge his opponents to document their claims. On the other hand, as soon as his opponents call his bluff, he will dismiss their documentation out of hand.
“So much for sola scriptura.”
So much for dumb-bunnies who would rather burn strawmen.
And, you know, it’s fine with me if he’s going to attack a decoy rather than the actual argument. For he thereby leaves the real position of the opposing side without a scratch. So, by all means, keep training your guns on the wrong target.
“So it's all individualistic. Everybody does what is right in their own eyes. If I don't think Hebrews is scripture, but you do - cest la vie. You do what you want, I do what I want. Doesn't sound like the Church of the New Testament to me.”
He doesn’t exegete NT ecclesiology.
“If there is a Church the apostles founded that has the truth, I can in spiral like fashion hone in on where that church is.”
i) The conclusion is only as good as the premise. He would need to identify the Orthodox communion with the church founded by Christ. This is something he always asserts and never demonstrates.
ii) He would also need to show that the church founded by Christ has the properties he imputed to it. Again, though, he’s all assertion and no argument.
“But if there is no authority, if authority ceased with the apostles, then everything is always up fro grabs, every point, every book everything can be disputed.”
i) Notice the purely armchair character of the argument. State what you believe to be an unacceptable consequence. Load it up with hyperbole. Don’t offer any supporting argument that said-consequence is, in fact, unacceptable. Then postulate an imaginary polity which will avoid said-consequence.
The whole exercise is nothing more than a thought-experiment from start to finish. A hypothetical faith in a hypothetical church.
“And in fact, by doubting one thing, the entire fabric can become unglued because there is no certain platform in your entire theology.”
i) Other issues aside, notice how a metaphor is doing the work of an argument. The metaphor of a platform. And if the platform is unstable, then the superstructure is unstable.
That maybe so, but it’s a logical inference, not from a truth of fact or reason, but from a metaphor.
ii) And even at the figurative level, other metaphors are available. There are philosophers like Quine, Swinburne, and Helm who prefer a different metaphor—the web of belief. If a platform collapses, the superstructure collapses. By contrast, if a strand of a spider web snaps, the spider web remains intact. Why should we prefer an architectural metaphor to an insectile metaphor?
“It's too subjective for individuals, because the heart is deceitful.”
Orthodox is extremely sceptical about human reason. But there are two problems with this:
i) Where does reason come from? Isn’t this a gift of God? Hasn’t our Creator endowed us with a faculty for abstract reason? So why should we be so utterly distrustful of our critical faculties? Why should we refuse to rely on something that God has given us to use?
Can reason deceive us? Yes. Can our senses deceive us? Yes. Does Orthodox therefore refuse to use his five senses?
ii) His distrust of reason undercuts his own faith in the Orthodox tradition. Maybe his deceitful heart has misled him into Orthodoxy. Hyperskepticism is a form of mental illness—like men and women who really believe they’re trapped in the Matrix. Orthodox might as well be Renfield’s cellmate.
“But the church, the entire company of the saints, is a far surer barometer of what the Spirit is doing in the world than a prideful individual.”
Other issues aside, he has a very selective and one-sided definition of “the church.”
“Wrong, the divine Jesus Christ set up a Church. And that is the end of the Turtles. Jesus Christ, the apostles and the church they set up.”
How does he individually know this? How does he individually identify the true church?
“We don't question each individual point all the time as if 2000 years of the chronicles of the people of God never happened.”
His default appeal to 2000 years of Orthodox church history merely begs the question in favor of Orthodoxy. He assumes what he needs to prove.
“They found the true people of God and the followed them.”
This glosses over disputes about who was a true Jew. The Pharisees? The Sadducees? The Essenes? The Zealots? And so on and so forth.
“But why believe you are better at Spiritually discerning the canon than someone else? You must feel certain that you are more spiritual than say Augustine then? Quite a claim. Quite a lot of pride.”
And who was more spiritual—Jerome or Augustine?
“You have no apostolic teaching on what teachings are certainly apostolic.”
Back to the infinite regress.
“You can doubt if you want that Orthodoxy is that authority, but to doubt that the apostles left an authoritative organization to guard what is certainly apostolic, you have nothing at all but thousands of various truth claims from which you can pick and choose a cocktail of your own choosing.”
i) Notice, once more, his constant repair to a consequentialist argument. If you believe in X, then that commits you to a certain consequence. Given the consequence, X is false; therefore, Y is true.
This is illogical from beginning to end. Even if the Protestant rule of faith had the dire consequences that Orthodox hyperbolically imputes to it, that fails to establish either:
a) The falsity of sola Scriptura, or
b) The veracity of the Orthodox alternative.
ii) According to Orthodox, sola Scriptura results in “chaos.” And, for him, this isn’t merely a possible consequence, but an actual consequence.
Suppose, for the sake of argument, he’s right? What then?
This is God’s world, is it not? Is “chaos” an unacceptable consequence to God? If so, why does he allow it?
Why is “chaos” intolerable to Orthodox, but tolerable to God?
At worst, “chaos” would be a divinely appointed means to a divinely appointed end.
“Because you only have a dead authority, who can't speak to you in the current age. You can't speak to an apostle to tell you what he really wrote or what he really meant.”
That’s true. We can’t channel the Apostle John. Apparently, though, the Orthodox communion has been holding a series of séances with the departed apostles and prophets for the past 2000 years. The Ortho-Psychic Network. Does Orthodox have Dionne Warrick on speed dial?
“But you can't logically have a belief system, all you can have is a collection of beliefs, that are always up for grabs with a new historical insight. You have your canon and your doctrines, and its only by lucky happenstance if what you believe happens to coincide with someone elses.”
Does the Orthodox tradition have an official canon? Or is that up for grabs?
“It's a completely different thing. Orthodox exercise their discernment to retain their belief in the reality of a continuing unity of Tradition through time and space. That's why Orthodoxy is one church after 2000 year.”
This is nothing more than make-believe and wishful thinking.
“Now for all the problems I may have in figuring out who is the real Church, at least there is an unbroken chain of authority within my theological system between Jesus Christ, and my current source of authority.”
Other issues aside, he would only know that “there is an unbroken chain of authority within his theological system between Jesus Christ, and his current source of authority” if and only if he could initially overcome “all the problems he may have in figuring out who is the real Church.”
“Which is fine, because I have a living church which is authoritative on any issues to do with the canon.”
Something he always *says* and never *shows*.
“Let me repeat it again. For all the obfuscation that goes back and forward here THERE IS NO LIST. The Protestant canon is purely derived from a particular later remnant of Jews whose claim to fame is they rejected the New Testament. There's no compelling reason to think their canon has anything to do with that of the Jews of Jesus' time, and a number of reasons to think it didn't, such as Josephus' equal treatment of 1 Maccabees within his Antiquities.”
He’s been repeatedly correct on this point, but he’s too much of a dim bulb to absorb the point.
One doesn’t need an explicit list, given at one time and place. Rather, one can reconstruct a list on the basis of both external evidence and internal evidence.
“Would you still have a canon? It's hard to think of a book of the NT for which significant objections have not been raised. I once met a Christian of otherwise apparently conservative disposition who seemed to have such a low opinion of Paul as to consider him not really an apostle, and that he had highjacked Jesus' message. You could appeal to 2 Peter's opinion of Paul, but then that is uncertain. You could appeal to Acts, but then Luke is Paul's propagandist. It would be quite easy to write Paul out as a false apostle who corrupted the message. You lack the necessary documentation, and an infallible link between Paul and the Twelve original apostles, because you rely on Paul's own testimony.”
i) Orthodox is a 99% purebred liberal. You might as well be debating Bishop Spong. Same pathological scepticism. Same farfetched, far-left assumptions and assertions.
ii) But then there’s the 1% of fideism which rushes in at the tail end. His strategy is to destroy historical knowledge to make room for faith—boundless faith in the true tradition of the true church.
Orthodox is an infidel to the bone, with a skin-deep piety—as if a last ditch, last minute appeal to Orthodoxy will compensate for terminal, stage-four scepticism. But Orthodoxy is an anodyne, not an antidote. The Orthodox church is a hospice, not a hospital.
iii) For we could turn all the same hyperskeptical arguments against the Greek Fathers and ecumenical councils. Hyperskepticism is a universal acid which will dissolve appeals to church history just as rapidly as appeals to Bible history.
“This is what I mean when I say if you doubt one thing, the whole fabric can become unglued. If your criteria is what you can prove historically there's no telling where the madness can end. Everything is up for grabs. Every little thing has to be proved separately before you can get to first base. You complain that I put before you these challenges, but it is your ecclesiology that demands it.”
He keeps appealing to ecclesiastical authority, but as I documented from Orthodox sources, appeal to ecclesiastical authority is rife with its own uncertainties:
“One of the criteria the early church used in forming the canon was simply Tradition: if it was used in all the Churches, it was included in the canon.”
Really? All the books of the Orthodox canon (whatever that is) were always in use by all churches at all times?