Friday, September 12, 2008

Ersatz ecclesiology


“It is true that house, church, and pillar and foundation do not have articles. While in the case of house the article might have been incorporated into the preposition, the others are predicate nominatives and normally would not receive the article in any case.”

In which case the construction is neutral. You can’t simply assume that it should be rendered “the” church.

“These terms are generics that indicate what the object is, not the object itself…Therefore these generic terms cannot be reduced to the local church at Ephesus.”

True, since generic terms can designate many things beside a church. A Greek temple has pillars. Therefore, is a Greek temple a pillar of truth?

A private residence is also a “house.” Therefore, is a private residence a pillar of truth?

Your argument either proves too much or too little.

“They rather designate the genus to which Ehesus is a species. This is elementary greek logic which Paul would have learned in Tarsus which was a university town only second to Alexandria.”

As we’ve just seen, that inference doesn’t follow from your own argument. I trust that Paul was a better logician than you are.

“Since this is instruction to Timothy and Paul sends him to work in many churches, e.g. 1Thess.3:2, it must be applicable in every place he goes to minister. Ephesus is not the only church so we cannot restrict this terminology to a description of Ephesus alone. I conclude that the pillar is the church as such.”

You’re not paying attention to what I’ve said. I made the point that the referent of 1 Tim 3:15 is the church of Ephesus.

Did I deny that Paul’s imagery is applicable to other local churches? No. But you can’t simply pluck 1 Tim 3:15 out of context and reassign it to the modern church of Rome. That isn’t exegeting the text.

“The church is that body of which Christ is the head (Col.1:18,24) and all baptized people are members (1Cor.6:11,15; 12:13,27).”

Are baptized apostates members of the church?

“This body is one body (1Cor.12:13; Col.3:15; Eph.4:4) and all are members one of another (Rom.12:5). Christ and His Church are thus one whole Christ (see 1Cor12:12-13).”

One of your problems is that you equate the meaning of a word with the meaning of a concept. The “church” has acquired many connotations over the last two millennia. But Paul is using ekklesia as a synonym for the OT congregation (or assembly) of the Lord.

“This body is visible because the sacraments by which it is constituted are visible.”

Even if I accepted your Catholic sacramentology, that has absolutely nothing to do with the exegesis of 1 Tim 3:15.

“The local churches are all parts of one visible church because the bread which they all bless and break is a participation of the Body of Christ, and all who partake of that one bread become one bread and one body.”

Not only is that acontextual, but it’s counter to the text. You’ve now defined the church in sacramental terms rather than alethic terms. Paul said a pillar of truth, not a pillar of the Mass.

“Thus all the churches are one visible catholic church and Timothy is to conduct himself in this way in all the churches that are the church of the living God which is the pillar and foundation ofthe truth.”

Paul says nothing about “one visible catholic church,” so your gloss is superimposed on the text rather than derived from the text.

BTW, why should anyone care how you interpret 1 Tim 3:15? Do you speak for the Magisterium? Did the Vatican appoint you to be its point man?

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    Please excuse my tardiness in replying to your analysis of my response to your interpretation of 1Tim.3:15. Blogger apparently could not recognize my code name and I lost what I had composed in reply. The library was closing and I had no time to troubleshoot. I will try again to respond.

    I do not understand why you considered it necessary to end with an insult. As far as I know I was not in the least bit disrespectful. My only intention was to have a friendly discussion between Christians about the interpretation of a particular passage of scripture. I brought up no distinctly Roman Catholic claims or authoritative pronouncements. I simply pointed to Paul's own account as to what the church of the living God is.

    You make the presumption that I am a Roman Catholic and must be disdained as such. I have not told you what church I go to or any other personal details because I wanted the discussion to be about the text and my argument, not about personalities. The discussion should be about Paul not about me.

    The conception of the church that I presented is not exclusively Roman Catholic. I learned this conception from: Dr. Geddes Macgregor, a Minister of the Church of Scotland, Gustav Wingren, a Minister of the Church of Sweden, Albert Schweitzer, E.L. Mascall, a Priest of the Church of England among others. If my memory is not mistaken, I heard it preached in an Eglise Reforme' church in Macon, France several decades ago. None of these were Roman Catholics and this conception is not necessarily Roman Catholic. Notice that my comment did not mention Rome or the Vatican at any point. It is you that brought them up, not I. That being said, the insult about me being the Vatican's point man is one you have thrown at me and at various Catholic apologists. Unfortunately, it betrays ignorance of Catholic doctrine.

    The Sacrament of Confirmation is among other things a commissioning and empowering by the Bishop to be a soldier sealed to the service of Christ. It gives special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ. "The confirmed person receives the power to profess faith in Christ publicly and as it were officially."

    You ask who cares how I interpret 1Tim.3:15. My answer is that I care and study to make sure that I do so correctly. I consult everybody before I come to my conclusions. I have been reading theology since I was 12 years old. I have ransacked University and Seminary libraries, read thousands of books and discussed the issues facetoface with D.Phils from Oxford and Edinburgh and doctorate from the Sorbonne and Basel besides those with PhDs from Princeton and Yale. I have also discussed theology personally with many current Evangelical scholars and pastors.

    If I only talk to those who agree with me, I will learn nothing. Already in this discussion with you I noticed two things in this passage which I had not seen there before. For this I thank you. It is through reasoning together that we grow in the faith once delivered to the saints.

    I will save my response to the rest of your comments for the next post.

    Yours in Christ,
    Bill Zuck