Perry Robinson said,
“I think the irony in John and the ability to see more and a different meaning in the statements than Caiaphas wished to express show that Caiaphas was wrong.”
Even if we accept your description, how does that follow? For example, when a homicide detective questions a suspect, he’ll try to trick the suspect into revealing more than he wished to express. Likewise, when a prosecutor cross-examines the accused, he will try to trick the defendant into revealing more than he wishes to express.
On the one hand, the intent of the suspect or defendant is to conceal his knowledge of the crime. On the other hand, the intent of the detective or prosecutor is to make him inadvertently reveal more about the crime than he would be in a position to know if he were innocent.
That doesn’t make his unwitting admission false. And that doesn’t make the detective’s interpretation of the statement (or prosecutor’s interpretation) at odds with the meaning of the statement.
Take the classic example of the Freudian slip, where a speaker accidentally says what he really thinks.
Let’s also remember that Gaffin’s formulation is targeting the examples cited by Peter Enns. And, in that context, it’s possible that Gaffin’s formulation doesn’t take an example like Caiaphas into account. Why would we expect him to? Enns didn’t cite Caiaphas.
Suppose there are cases in which there’s a difference between the intent of the speaker and the content of the statement? Unless the examples the Enns is citing, and Gaffin is responding to, belong to that category, how does that invalidate Gaffin’s critique?
In the case of Caiaphas, the irony lies in who is making the statement. It’s made by an enemy of Jesus. And that’s what creates the possibility of a tension between the intent of the speaker and the content of the statement.
But that is not a paradigm for OT prophets. The OT prophets did not intend to speak contrary to divine intent. Their messianic oracles weren’t true in spite of what they intended to communicate. They meant to speak truthfully, and they succeeded.
And, actually, if we were to extend Perry’s interpretation of Caiaphas to the case of OT prophets, then Perry would be taking the position that OT messianic prophecies are false.
Does Perry suppose that what Isaiah meant is the opposite of what God meant when he inspired Isaiah? And does Perry suppose that, given a discrepancy between divine intent and human intent, what Isaiah said was wrong?
How does Perry apply his principle more generally? Does he apply it to OT prophecies? If he doesn’t apply it more generally, then how is that germane to the issue at hand?
“Not to mention the fact that the unjust death of Christ and their apostasy, because they claimed Caesar as king and not Jesus, resulted in their destruction in 7- A.D. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t see the destruction of Jerusalem as something ‘better’ than allowing Jesus to preach.”
Remember that Perry cited the statement of Caiaphas as a counterexample to Gaffin. So this comes down to an exegetical question. But Perry isn’t mounting an exegetical argument for his interpretation.
To raise objections on the basis of judicial misconduct or national apostasy or the fall of Jerusalem tells us what Perry thinks of Caiaphas’ statement, but it doesn’t tell us what John though of Caiaphas’ statement. The outlook of the narrator is what is pertinent to the interpretation of Caiaphas’ statement.
Does John think it would be better if Christ kept on preaching for the next 40 years or so, then died of natural causes? No. For John, Jesus came to die. And, by divine design, wicked men like Caiaphas were instrumental in implementing God’s redemptive plan.
Perry’s evaluation of Jn 11:50 is at odds with John’s evaluation (vv51-52). John takes the statement of Caiaphas as true statement and starting point to make a broader observation.
And, yes, it was beneficial that Jesus die for the nation. Not all Jews were apostates. John was a Jew. Was John an apostate? The 1C church of Jerusalem was a Jewish church. Some (not all) of the Jews who perished in sack of Jerusalem went to heaven thanks to the vicarious atonement of Christ.
Because Eastern Orthodoxy has a deep strain of anti-Semitism, it doesn’t even occur to Perry that Jews might be beneficiaries of Jesus’ death. But the elect includes a Jewish remnant as well.
“As for John thinking that the statement was ‘ironically right’ I quite agree because irony is dialectical, which means that the meaning John saw was the opposite of Caiaphas.”
John doesn’t see an opposite meaning in the statement. The irony lies, not in the statement, but the speaker. What’s ironic is “who” said it, not what he said. What he said was true. It’s ironic that an enemy of Jesus would say it. And not just any enemy, but the high priest.
There are different types of irony. There’s verbal irony, in which a speaker intentionally means the opposite of what he says. But Caiaphas wasn’t trying to be ironic. He isn’t Jonathan Swift.
There’s dramatic irony, in which the listener (or reader) knows more than the speaker. That figures in Jn 11:49-52.
And there’s situational irony as well, where the actions of an agent bring about the opposite of what the agent intended. (A paradigm case is fatalism in Greek tragedy.) That also figures in the Johannine pericope.
So Perry is systematically misreading his own prooftext.
“Your condescending comment about learning how to exegete notwithstanding, I don’t suppose you think Carson needs to learn to do so as well.”
Unfortunately for you, that backfires. Carson doesn’t say or imply that Caiaphas’ statement was false. And he doesn’t say or imply that John thought it was false.
Moreover, you said back on comment #47, “It isn’t clear that Ciaphas has a substitutionary thought in mind.”
But Carson says, “both Caiaphas and John understand Jesus’ death to be substitutionary” (422).
Not surprisingly, you didn’t include that when you quoted Carson.
Carson doesn’t take the position that John means the opposite of what Caiaphas meant. And that’s true of other commentators as well.
“Caiaphas is a case where a person is inspired, but it is not the meaning that they utter via the statement that is inspired so strictly speaking what he said was false.”
So you deny verbal inspiration. Does your general theory of inspiration deny verbal inspiration? Do you limit inspiration to the person, but not the end-product? If so, do you apply that theory to conciliar inspiration as well?
Is Caiaphas the exception or the rule? If the former, how’s that relevant to OT prophecies? If the latter, what about ecumenical councils?
“Furthermore, you inject correspondence as a requirement, which to my knowledge Enns does not.”
Enns is trying to liberalize the traditional, Reformed doctrine of inspiration because he doesn’t think that certain passages in Scripture, like Gen 1 conform to reality (to take one example).
“Prophetic statements can be true without correspondence. I don’t see any reason why they can’t be seen as true on deflationary accounts. Truth is the way things are, but it isn’t at all obvious that ‘the way things are’ entails a congruence relation or correlation between two entities.”
Well, I happen to think it makes a wee bit of difference whether Isaiah 53 refers to Jesus of Nazareth, Bar Kochba, or Menachem Schneerson. So, yes, I think a one-to-one correspondence between the figure denoted in Isa 53 and its historical fulfillment is “reasonable”—to say the least.
“And if my entire point is that inspiration is not limited to or even in accordance with the understanding of the authors your question simply begs the question at issue. And if I do not think that meaning is exhausted by or even entails reference, why would you think I would think that prophetic statements require a future referent to be true?”
Actually, it’s your failure to consistently distinguish between sense and reference that leads to your mishandling of OT prophecy.
Did Isaiah know that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah? No.
What Isaiah gives us is a partial job description for the Messiah. And his messianic job description is reiterated or supplemented by other OT writers.
Isaiah didn’t know who the Messiah would be. He didn’t know the identity of the future referent. But he knew what the Messiah would be like.
The historical fulfillment doesn’t add anything to the *meaning* of the oracle. Rather, it supplies the concrete *referent*.
And messianic prophecies were future-oriented, so it was understood all along that these oracles would have a future referent, even if the prophet didn’t know the actual identity of the future referent.
Since prophecies are future oriented, they require a future referent. And the historic terms of fulfillment must be true to the semantic terms of the oracle.
“I don’t deny that a purpose of inspiration is to secure true statements.”
Really? How can you say, on the one hand, that inspiration secures true statements while, on the other hand, you cite the statement of Caiaphas as a paradigm-case of inspired falsehoods? Which is it, Perry?
“I can agree that the historical events are the way Paul’s statements say they are, but that doesn’t necessarily imply a Correspondence Theory of truth and some ‘matching’ relation.”
How does the veracity of a divine promise not entail a match between the terms of the promise and what actually took place? If God promises Abraham a son, and Abraham dies childless, did God keep his promise or break his promise?
“I didn’t shift the discussion to Lipton. I merely gave an example of where Reformed persons in elucidating and defending the Reformed viewpoint on inspiration are committed to non-biblical and extra-biblical doctrines like created grace. This was in response to your claim that my view was non-biblical. And given that his article was posted here, but a few entries back in support of the Reformed view in light of Chalcedon, it was hardly diversionary for me to make reference to it. You may not be here to debate Lipton’s article, but you did make a claim about Reformed theology having an exegetical grounding. I gave an example where it doesn’t. You have yet to show where the notion of ‘created grace’ is found in the biblical text either explicitly or by implication. So my example stands, Reformed theology has extra-biblical doctrines relative to inspiration.”
i) To begin with, we need to distinguish between Reformed distinctives or Reformed essentials, on the one hand, and things incidentally to Reformed theology qua *Reformed* theology, on the other hand. Perry is equivocating.
For example, sola fide and sola Scriptura are Reformed essentials, but they’re not Reformed distinctives. Conversely, a doctrine like double predestination or special redemption is both a Reformed essential and a Reformed distinctive.
If a Reformed essential and/or a Reformed distinctive were unscriptural, then Reformed theology would be unscriptural. But double procession doesn’t define Calvinism in the way that double predestination defines Calvinism.
If, for the sake of argument, we were to drop the filioque from our creed, what difference would that make to Calvinism? We’d still have covenant theology, TULIP, the five soli, &c.
For a number of years, now, Wayne Grudem has been arguing that we should drop “the descent into hell” from our creeds. But that’s not a debate over the Reformed theology, per se. It’s not like Amyraldism.
ii) Likewise, the fact that a theologian who happens to be a Calvinist takes a position on something doesn’t mean this represents Reformed theology. And here I’d draw attention to Perry’s double standard. When, for example, I quote Bishop Ware on universalism, Perry waxes indignant. He assures me that Bishop Ware doesn’t speak for Eastern Orthodoxy.
But Perry then acts as though, if he can quote something that some Reformed theologian said somewhere at some time, then that’s Reformed theology.
There’s a little bunch of expat, Cameronian wannabes up in Edmonton Canada who imagine that anyone who doesn’t swear by the Auchensaugh Renovation is an apostate to the Reformed faith. Should I feel honor bound by their scruples?
“The onus is on you to respond to evidence and arguments made. Again, you haven’t engaged the example I gave, but merely dismissed it.”
The onus is not on me to debate irrelevant arguments. Lane Tipton is shadowboxing with Enns. Enns’ employed an Incarnational analogy to justify his liberal theory of inspiration. So Tipton is answering him on his own grounds. Fine.
That doesn’t commit me to employ the same strategy. I simply reject the framework.
Enns is trying to steer the Reformed community towards a more liberal theory of inspiration. But that’s inherently controversial. So he cloaks his proposal in Incarnational terms. That’s a smart, tactical move.
It gives his proposal a pious veneer. Indeed, it’s a preemptive move. A way of putting his critics on the defensive. If they take issue with his liberal theory of inspiration, then they’re attacking the Incarnation. They’re crypto-Docetists.
Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t even bother going down that road. It’s a decoy to throw us off the scent.
Bible writers never model inspiration on the Incarnation. So it’s improper to treat the Incarnation as the paradigm around which we must formulate our theory of inspiration. That’s an exercise in misdirection. Rather, we should formulate our theory of inspiration on the self-witness of scripture.
And that, I’d add, is traditional Reformed theological method. To my knowledge, Reformed tradition never framed its theory of inspiration in light of the Incarnation.
So even if, ex hypothesi, Tipton were educing extrascriptural arguments in defense of inspiration, that’s irrelevant to the way in which Reformed theology customarily derives its doctrine of inspiration. Rather, it’s an apologetic countermove to Enns. Answering him on his own terms.
“Further as Lipton notes, Scripture does in part attribute inspiration to the Son for it is the Son who sends the Spirit and the Spirit comes through the Son.”
Now you’re equivocating. That doesn’t justify your attempt to substitute a theanthropic model for a pneumatological model.
“And further, since the Son says that the Spirit takes what is his and teaches the Apostles, then Jesus is active in the inspiration of the Scriptures, even if derivatively speaking. Your compartmentalism here simply isn’t biblical.”
“Derivatively speaking”? So now you have to admit, after your convoluted, face-saving explanation, that you were equivocating.
“And thinking that the Son spoke to Moses and the OT figures…”
i) Now you’re shifting ground. I was responding to what you said in comment #65: “Hence the irony of coming to his own and his own not recognizing him.”
That’s an allusion to Jn 1:11. That has reference to the advent of Christ, not OT Christophanies. So you’re confusing the timeframe.
ii) Moreover, you continue to equivocate. The Son speaking to Moses is not the same thing as inspiring Moses to speak. A really basic, obvious difference.
iii) Furthermore, this also goes to your inability to distinguish between inspiration and revelation. They aren’t synonymous.
A theophany is revelatory. Yet it’s not a case of inspiration. It’s objective to the viewer. But inspiration is a subjective process.
“Your current response on the filioque isn’t an exegetical response and so is another non-answer. ‘Traditionally’ the doctrine was that from the persons of the Father and the Son the person of the Spirit was eternally generated as from one principle. No one disputed the sending of the Son in the economia because that is not the doctrine of the Filioque.”
“Traditionally,” the locus classicus of the Filioque was Jn 15:26:
“proceedth] The original term (ekporeuetai, Vulg. procedit) may in itself either describe proceeding from a source, or proceeding on a mission. In the former sense the preposition out of (ek, e) would naturally be required to define the source (Rev 1:16, &c.); on the other hand the preposition from (from the side of, para, a) is that which is habitually used with the verb ‘to come forth’ of the mission of the Son, e.g. 16:27, 17:8. The use of the latter preposition (para) in this place seems therefore to shew decisively that the reference here is to the temporal mission of the Holy Spirit, and not to the eternal Procession. In accordance with this usage the phrase in the Creeds is uniformly ‘which proceedeth out of’ (to pn. to hagion to ek tou patros ekporeuomenoun); and it is most worthy of notice that the Greek fathers who apply this passage to the eternal Procession instinctively substitute ‘out of’ (ek) for ‘from” (para) in their application of it: e.g. Theodore of Mopsuestia (cat.’ In loco),” B. F. Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John (Eerdmans 1981), 224-25.
So this was employed as a traditional prooftext, by Greek Fathers, for the ontological, and not merely economic, procession of the Spirit. Westcott himself demurs.
“And your answer shows that you either simply do not understand the doctrine in question since the disputed idea was never the economic procession.”
You suffer from a serious case of reading incomprehension. I never said the disputed idea was economic procession. I was opposing economic procession to the tradition dogma, which construed Johannine statements like Jn 15:26 as ontological descriptions of the immanent Trinity. Try to pay attention next time.
“So when you recite the creed with the Filioque you are either affirming a doctrine which has no scriptural support.”
I affirm the filioque in the same sense that I affirm Jn 15:26.
“Or you are reinterpreting the creed contrary to its historical meaning and the meaning given to it by theologians in the Reformed tradition and are therefore making a false profession.”
Several problems with this statement:
i) Westcott, for one, thinks the wording of the creed supports an economic import.
ii) More to the point, I’m not duty-bound to affirm the original intent of an uninspired document.
a) Original intent is hermeneutically normative in the sense that the wording means whatever it meant to the author or framers.
b) But unless a document is inspired, original intent isn’t doxastically normative. I’m under no obligation to agree with the framers.
iii) As to “false” profession, that depends on to whom or for whom the profession is made.
a) If I were an ordinand, and I were asked if I affirm the creed, I’d be duty-bound to explain my interpretation.
b) But in a public recitation of the creed, I’m affirming *my* faith, not the faith of the Nicene fathers.
iv) In addition, most laymen, including most Eastern Orthodox layman, have no scholarly knowledge of original intent or the finer points of Cyrillian Christology. Are they also guilty of a false profession? By Perry’s elitist standard, only a patrologist is qualified to truly profess the creed.
“This is why all of your bantering concerning other traditions having non-exegetically derived doctrines is really not available to you as you are inconsistent in not charging them with the same kind of error that you charge others.”
If the only churches were Reformed churches, I might pick on these penny-ante issues—but with such enormous engines of error like Orthodoxy and Catholicism, that’s scarcely a priority.
“Tactics are irrelevant unless you wish to do psychology rather than logic.”
It’s relevant to alert readers to your machinations.
“Furthermore, the designation of the origin of any doctrine isn’t a separate compartment to relative to its justification.”
Depends on the audience. Documenting the self-witness of Scripture is distinct from justifying the self-witness of Scripture. Now, if the audience is Christian, then it will need no justification. It will believe the self-witness of Scripture on the authority of Scripture.
But if you’re doing apologetics, then you’d need to justify the authority of Scripture. Conversely, even an unbeliever can read Warfield and agree with Warfield that the Bible does assert its plenary, verbal inspiration.
So there is a basic difference between believing the Bible and believing that the Bible claims to be inspired.
“As for a divine person dying, as I noted before this functions as a Shibboleth and it seems you can’t make your tongue (or in this case, fingers) bend that way. I asked for a straight answer which anyone conversant with the traditional Chalcedonian reading which the Reformed profess to accept should have no trouble answering in the affirmative.”
Actually, anyone conversant with the Reformed version of the communicatio idiomatum can predict how I’d go about answering that question, were I so inclined.
“You simply dodge the question.”
Just as Jesus had a habit of “dodging” malicious, irrelevant questions. You want to shift the debate from the exegesis of Scripture to the exegesis of the creeds, and then shift the debate from the exegesis of the creeds to the exegesis of your favorite church fathers. I don’t jump when you say, “jump!” Get a dog.
“Which makes manifest your heterodoxy, even by your own tradition’s standards. The only question is which Christological heresy you endorse.”
Notice that Perry is doing exactly what I predicted. In my previous reply, I said, “Perry likes to pose trip-wire questions and redirect the conversation to his own turf. He wants to maneuver the conversation into a debate over the fine points of Cyrillian Christology, then score rhetorical points by accusing his opponents of the Nestorian heresy.”
Since he’s frustrated, because I don’t play into his hands, he now has to tip his hand.
“My question is quite germane since Christ is the center piece and heart of all Christian theology.”
That sounds oh-so pious, but you’re using that as a pretext for sloppy theological method. The proper way to establish a Biblical doctrine, including the doctrine of Scripture, is to turn to those passages which speak most directly to the issue.
It’s improper to begin with a subset of patristic theology, then infer our other doctrines from that point of reference.
“If you have a wrong view about Christ, it not only doesn’t much matter what you think about inspiration, but it is also likely that you have other heterodox views as well, perhaps some that you are not even conscious of or that you inconsistent.”
Except that, for Perry, Scripture doesn’t define what constitutes a right or wrong view of Christ. Rather, he takes his cue from Holy Tradition. And he tries to impose that extrascriptural yardstick on everyone else.
“Since much of the conversation here has been in terms of historical theology I am framing the issue in a way that is relevant.”
Once again, we need to draw a basic distinction:
i) At one level, the Enns’ affair is a case of internal, institutional discipline. Westminster is a confessional seminary. The faculty is hired on that basis.
Moreover, Westminster was founded in 1929, so it’s developed its own history, its own traditions. And that, in turn, is also bound up with the history of the OPC.
It’s inevitable that an institution like Westminster will undergo a periodic identity crisis given the turnover in faculty. It’s up to the powers-that-be to decide how much discontinuity between past and present is tolerable. So we get into debates over the relation between Westminster and Old Princeton. Or Westminster and the vision of Machen. Or E.J. Young and Peter Enns. Not to mention the Westminster Confession.
That’s how you’d expect a disciplinary process to proceed. This is not like a debate between Bart Ehrman and William Lane Craig, where we have to defend the faith from scratch, from the bottom up. In a disciplinary process involving a seminary prof., a lot of things are taken for granted.
ii) At another level, though, for those of us who aren’t responsible for policing the seminary, it’s a question of evaluating his thesis. Is it true? That’s a very different question than whether he’s crossed the line of permissible dissent.
Is he right or wrong about comparative mythology? Is he right or wrong about apostolic exegesis? Is he right or wrong about “diversity.”
Historical theology doesn’t answer those questions. History is descriptive. That’s not a way to establish the truth or falsity of his thesis.
“And this is often the path of Christological heretics who wish to trash historical theology to hide their own heretical views behind the shield of biblical theology because they know that if they were to spell out clearly and affirm their views, they get skewered.”
And Perry shows us the path of ecclesiolaters who wish to trash exegetical theology to hide their own unscriptural views behind the shield of historical theology because they know that if they were to spell out clearly and affirm their views, they get skewered.
For Perry, unless you invest your eternal destiny in the blind trust of Holy Tradition, then you’re a heretic. It’s a mark of Perry’s own view of Scripture that he doesn’t think we can out-argue the heretics on the basis of Scripture.
“Furthermore, to argue apologetically I don’t have to do exegesis.”
You have to do exegesis if you wish to establish that your alternative is the true alternative. True to revealed truth.
“Methodologically, I haven’t been doing anything much different than that.”
Methodologically, you like to take shortcuts.
“After a while, I simply have more important things to do than to bang on the keyboard with someone who seemingly has hours upon hours to do nothing in his post middle aged existence than to write on the internet.”
Oh, dear! If I didn’t know better, I’d almost suspect that Perry is resorting to an ad hominem attack. But I’m sure he’d never stoop to that level since he disapproves of ad hominem attacks.
“Now you seem to enjoy citing the Blackwell dictionary and it is a common practice of those unfamiliar with a given tradition and can’t think through the system from the inside out to resort to perceived normative sources or handbook type works.”
I see. So Perry is now going to give us his personal, “insider” account of what really happened at a 13C council. I must say that Perry is very well preserved for his age. Is he a vampire?
But for those of us who don’t enjoy his prediluvian lifespan, we rely on secondhand information about the past.
“If you had read even say Pelikan’s survey you’d probably not used this citation.”
So now the problem is that my secondhand source of information disagrees with his secondhand source of information. Should we flip a coin?
“So far, you’ve acted in typical fundamentalist fashion-pick up some popular works and handbooks and go searching for anything you can whip up into a problem.”
That’s an interesting value judgment. Why would I think the Blackwell Dictionary is a useful reference work? Well, one reason might be that it’s recommended by a Greek Orthodox Bishop. As Metropolitan Kallistos Ware explains in his foreword to the Blackwell Dictionary:
“Over the past fifty years there has been a truly remarkable grown of interest in the Christian East, and a comprehensive work of reference such as the Blackwell Dictionary has long been needed. Here is a book written with clarity, accessible to the non-specialist and the beginner, yet there also is a book in which those already familiar with the Eastern churches may discover much to surprise them and to evoke their sense of wonder” (ix).
I guess that makes Bishop Ware your typical, fundy fuddy-duddy—who doesn’t understand the Orthodox faith from the inside out. Thankfully, we have Perry Robison to set the Right Reverend straight. Why doesn’t Perry just cut to the chase and crown himself the Pope of Eastern Orthodoxy?