Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Rube Goldberg prooftexting

“It's still A definition which is used by some Protestants.”

i) If Scott is attacking, say, the Reformed doctrine of sola Scriptura, then, at a minimum, he should cite a formulation of the doctrine from some recognized source, like the Westminster Confession, Turretin, &c. That would at least supply a respectable starting point.

For example, the Westminster Confession doesn’t use the word “only.” Rather, it refers to the supremacy and sufficiency of Scripture.

ii) Let’s also keep in mind that 16-17C theological formulations reflect the state of the debate at the time of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation.

They were not designed to address or anticipate unforeseen or unforeseeable objections which might crop up at a later date.

It’s possible that Catholic epologists like Francis Beckwith are raising a more specialized objection than traditional formularies take into account. In which case we’re at liberty to refine the formulation–if need be.

Francis Beckwith isn’t Robert Bellarmine. Polemical theology always adapts to the challenges of the moment.

“Scott responds: And? Here we sit waiting for the evidence to support this threefold allegation and...??? Silence.”

I’ve produced copious documentation concerning the intratextual, intertextual, and paratextual evidence for the canon of Scripture. This is in the public domain.

I’m not obligated to give Scott a private tutorial. If he presumes to oppose my position in studied ignorance of what I’ve already written on the subject, that’s his problem, not mine.

Remember, he initiated this debate, not me. He responded to something I wrote, not vice versa.

“Sure, some books are mentioned by other books, some passages can be identified as quotes from other passages - but there is no set list - nor is it even possible to establish one based on Scripture Alone.”

Long on assertion, short on argument.

“Well, I'm sure you could come up with some sort of list, but not one with precisely 66 or 73 books in it.”

Of course, I’ve addressed the Apocrypha on numerous occasions.

“That statement flatly denies the ‘sola’ in sola scriptura.”

i) Of course, that’s illogical. If Scripture itself has a doctrine of providence, then it hardly violates the primacy of Scripture to consider extrascriptural data which Scripture implicitly warrants.

ii) For example, Scripture takes for granted the use of logical inference and sensory perception to process and interpret Scripture.

It’s not as though 16-17 theologians who hammered out the formulation of sola Scriptura ever intended to exclude those “extrascriptural” factors.

Sola Scriptura involves a more restricted claim than what Catholic epologists are straining to contrive.

“Scott replies: I'm sorry, but the fact is you don't have to interpret every statement (beyond a linguistic level of interpretation). Certainly some level of interpretation CAN take place, even in very clear statements - like ‘thou shalt not kill’ - this can be taken many ways beyond the basic, ‘don't kill.’ Jesus tells us that if we are even just angry with our brother without cause, or if we call him a fool that we've already committed the sin against him and stand in danger of hellfire (Matthew 5:22). Now does this interpretation lessen that which is originally stated?”

Well, that’s an ill-chosen example to illustrate Scott’s contention since, as one leading commentator points out, Jesus’ comparison is hyperbolic. Cf. R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, 200-202.

“That being said, let us not be diverted here! This discussion is about sola scriptura, a statement like ‘you're no better’ than we are is not a defense of sola scriptura (even if the statement were true).”

i) Scott is the one who’s diverting the discussion, not me. He does a bait-and-switch as he baits the trap with the allegation that sola scriptura is logically self-refuting, then switches to the claim that if sola Scriptura is implicitly taught in Scripture, then that’s subject to interpretation.

But whether or not it’s subject to interpretation is hardly equivalent to self-contradiction.

ii) Let’s also keep in mind that I’m not attempting to defend sola Scriptura, per se. Rather, I’m responding to the specific objections of Scott. And I’m also doing my best to keep the discussion on track. The specific point at issue is whether sola Scriptura is internally inconsistent.

“I beg to differ. Reliance upon implicit teaching (the point Mr. Hays is responding to now) also relies wholly upon interpretation, whereas if it were explicitly taught - that leaves less room for variations of implication.”

i) Keep in mind that I reject his assumption that sola Scriptura is self-refuting unless Scripture itself teaches sola Scriptura. That commits a level-confusion–by conflating a criterion with the objects of a criterion.

Sola Scriptura would still be valid even if the Scriptural criterion didn’t name itself as the operating criterion, for (a) our source of information regarding a norm, and (b) the norm as a source of information, are two distinct issues. Even if a given norm were the only norm, that doesn’t mean the norm must be self-referential–as if a norm is also a norm for itself.

ii) Assuming that implicit teaching is ambiguous, that cuts against Scott’s position, not mine.

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that sola Scriptura is self-refuting unless Scripture teaches sola Scriptura.

If, however, the self-witness of Scripture is ambiguous on that point, then that would vitiate Scott’s argument. A self-contradiction is a logically stringent allegation. Any ambiguity would invalidate the allegation by introducing a fatal equivocation into the syllogism. If you allege a logical self-contradiction, then you have no wiggle room.

For Scott’s argument to go through, the onus is not on the Protestant to prove that Scripture unequivocally teaches sola Scriptura. Rather, the onus lies on Scott to prove that Scripture unequivocally fails to teach sola Scriptura.

That’s the only way for him to generate a self-contradiction (assuming that we even concede his premise for the sake of argument).

“But, to the point - interpretation of implicit teaching is extra scriptura, yes it is based upon the Scripture at hand, but should not be confused with the actual Scriptures themselves. In other words this alleged implicit self-witness cannot be considered part of Scripture thus it is definitely related to the matter of sola scriptura being self-refuting.”

Well, that’s just plain silly. The implicit self-witness of Scripture would be a part of Scriptural teaching–rather than something apart from Scriptural teaching. There is nothing extrascriptural about the implicit teaching of Scripture–as if the implicit teaching of Scripture is actually The Martian Chronicles.

“Is Steve saying he's never used 2 Timothy 3:16 in an attempt to support the sola scriptura invention of the 16th century?”

My position was never based on discrete prooftexting.

“If the BIPM did claim to be the sole standard and then WITHIN the BIPM it gave another standard - then yes, it would be self-refuting.”

Really? Why would a sole standard have to name itself as the sole standard in order to be the sole standard?

This confuses our knowledge of a standard with what we learn from the standard. The fact that a standard (even a sole standard) is a source of knowledge doesn’t logically entail that such a standard must also be a source (much less the only source) of our knowledge of said standard. That, once again, commits a level-confusion.

I might use a ruler to measure plywood. The ruler might be my only standard of measurement. Does that mean my knowledge of the ruler must derive from the ruler itself? Am I not allowed to use eyesight to find the ruler?

“Scripture itself tells us that Jesus empowered His first bishops with infallible authority and FURTHER states that He sent those bishops out in the same way He was sent out. Since part of the way Jesus was sent included the empowering of these bishops with this authority, then in order to be obedient to His Will and Command, they too would have to select bishops and empower them similarly.”

Only if we cater to his Rube Goldberg “exegesis” of the Catholic spooftexts.

“On this point I was not pointing out the contradiction…”

In which case that’s a red herring.

“…as much as I was pointing out what is lacking and what has to be added to the ‘slogan’ to make it viable.”

Which begs the question of whether something must be added to make it viable.

“Then I point out that if the ‘rule’ were valid - it would be found within itself - unless, of course we're accepting that sola scriptura is a fallible rule of faith.”

i) That fails to distinguish between a fallible or infallible rule of faith and fallible or infallible knowledge of the rule. To say that Scripture is the only infallible rule of faith doesn’t entail that our belief in (or knowledge) of its status as the only infallible rule of faith must, itself, be infallible.

ii) And even if, ad arguendo, the Catholic rule of faith were infallible, this doesn’t mean that Catholics infallibly know their infallible rule of faith. So Scott’s objection can only undercut the Protestant rule of faith by undercutting his Catholic alternative.

“However, if Mr. Hays would like us to focus solely upon the matter of self-contradiction, I would be happy to do so.”

Ahem…that was the issue all along. Is sola Scriptura self-contradictory unless Scripture teaches sola Scriptura.

“However, if Mr. Hays wishes to remain so focused then I would ask he not further challenge me with follow-up questions.”

I reserve the right to challenge Scott with follow-up questions when he deviates from the issue at hand. For if he tries to open up another front in his attack on sola scriptura, then that in turn opens up another front in the counterattack on sola ecclesia. It cuts both ways. He exposes his own flank whenever he meanders off course.

“I do not and have not challenged the knowledge of OT Jews and/or NT Catholic evangelists who debated with first century Jews.”

i) So, by his own admission, one doesn’t need a Magisterium to identify the Scriptures–since the Jews had no Magisterium.

ii) There were no NT “Catholic” evangelists.

“I asked about how WE know what Scripture is.”

Which I’ve discussed on other occasions.

“Mr. Hays, if you do not wish to answer the logical progression of the argument, fine - stick to what you perceive to be the only logical discussion.”

There is no “logical” progression to Scott’s argument. To say that Scripture is the infallible source of knowledge (regarding faith and morals) doesn’t not entail that our knowledge of an infallible source must itself be infallible knowledge. That’s a non sequitur.

If Scott is going to argue that Scripture is self-contradictory, then he needs to be logically rigorous. Infallible knowledge of an infallible source of knowledge is not a precondition of an infallible source of knowledge. Scott may regard infallible knowledge of the infallible source as advantageous, but that’s hardly a strict implication. And, frankly, that’s a precondition which Catholics are unable to satisfy.

“When you go into asking follow-up questions to the logical progression and then criticize the progression is a bit of a double-standard.”

I respond to you on your own terms. When you go astray, as you often do, I can both point out your irrelevancies as well as answer your irrelevancies on your own terms.

“Pick your battle. If you wish to remain focused on a tunnel vision approach, fine.”

What I’m doing is to hold you to the terms of your own argument. You say that sola Scriptura is self-contradictory. So stick to your own argument.

The fact that you keep changing the subject to supplement the inadequacies of your central argument is a backdoor admission that your central argument is a bust.

“You lose because Scripture itself points to ANOTHER infallible source of teaching in the authority of the bishops to bind and loose whatsoever they choose to bind or loose.”

i) Even if, ex hypothesi, we granted your spooftexts, that only pushes the problem back a step. An infallible source of knowledge and infallible knowledge of the source are two different things.

You’re free to postulate that the extraordinary Magisterium is infallible, but even if the object of knowledge is infallible, the subject of knowledge is not. What you’ve given us is a fallible subject of an infallible object. Your fallible interpretation of Scripture. Your fallible interpretation of Magisterial pronouncements. Your fallible grasp of historical evidence for the one true church.

ii) Scott’s conflation of these two distinct issues nicely illustrates one of the standing equivocations in the claim that sola Scriptura is self-refuting.

“Back to the point - if sola scriptura weren't so easily defeated we wouldn't have "pat objections" and one such objection is the fact that it is self-contradictory especially when we consider, as has already been pointed out, Scripture itself reveals another infallible authority in Matthew 16:18-19 and Matthew 18:18.”

Among other things, that would only follow if cases of church discipline were infallible. Take the Galileo affair. Was the Roman Church’s condemnation of Galileo infallible? Clearly not since the Roman Church has recently retracted its condemnation.

“That would be fine and good - but we're missing something here, oh yes, where that writer of the last book of the Bible actually closed the canon. It overlooks the fact that throughout the first nearly 400 years of the Church the New Testament canon was anything but closed. Mr. Hays position is historically untenable.”

Scott confounds the constitutive terminus of the canon with the epistemic question (i.e. the formalities of institutional recognition). His position is logically untenable.

“Except of course if it were true what Mr. Hays said earlier, that ‘the canon was closed by writer of the last book of the Bible,’ at that point in time all the ‘raw materials’ would have been available to generate this list - but he (that would be St. John) never put together such a list for us.”

Yet another non sequitur, which is Scott’s modus operandi. John doesn’t have to put together such a list for the raw materials to exist.

“So now Mr. Hays posits the canon was not closed when the writer wrote the last book, and does not even put forth evidence it was ‘closed’ but that it was ‘standardized’ in the second century A.D. I suppose we can accept that as concession of the earlier point.”

i) It’s a pity when one’s opponent is too dull to even follow his own argument. Scott keeps harping on the allegation that the NT canon was unsettled for “400” years. I’m merely responding to him on his own grounds by noting that, based on text-critical evidence, we can halve that figure.

ii) And he continues to confound the constitutive terminus with subsequent recognition.

For example, the fact that the Samaritans may not have acknowledge the complete OT canon doesn’t mean the OT canon remained open. Likewise, the fact that Bertrand Russell rejects the canon of Scripture is irrelevant to canonical closure.

I said: “Freedman has argued that (except for Daniel), the OT was standardized c. 5C BC. And Sailhamer has supplemented Freedman’s analysis by arguing for the pivotal role of Daniel in the canonization of the OT (in The Meaning of the Pentateuch).”

To which Scott responds: “So now we've extended the canon process out to the 5th century A.D., which is beyond what I have asserted (the councils of Rome, Carthage and Hippo toward the end of the 4th century ‘standardized’ the canon then).”

I see that Scott doesn’t know the difference between “BC” and “AD.” That’s pitifully and hopelessly illiterate.

“Mr. Hays does not seem to understand what a ‘canon’ is. A ‘canon’ is an ecclesiastical form of recognition of a standardized list. ”

i) Tfan has already corrected Scott on that issue.

ii) Moreover, the definition is clearly anachronistic since the Jews didn’t have any “ecclesiastical” form of recognition.

“Steve seems to think the Pentateuch (penta = 5) comprises the entire canon of the Old Testament. The Pentateuch refers to the first 5 books of Moses.”

Scott is such a slowcoach. Was he held back in school?

Why did I cite the Pentateuch? In the context of my response to Scott, the answer should be obvious.

He said: “And then when it was set that same authority which set the New Testament Canon set the Old Testament Canon with seven more books than the Protestant Bibles have.”

So I cite the Pentateuch as the terminus ad quo for the initial installment of the OT canon. I then point out, using that baseline, that according to Scott’s chronology, the Jews didn’t even have the Pentaeuch as part of their canon until the Council of Trent, in the 16C, “settled” the OT canon.

“For Jews the rest of the books, though inspired are not ‘as inspired’ as the Books of Moses.”

Really? Did the Jewish authors of the NT, who cite various books of the OT, regard non-Pentateuchal books as less inspired?

“That being said, the Jews had at least two canons at the time of Jesus and the Apostles - and didn't decide upon rejection of the Septuagint until sometime after Christendom had begun - in case you hadn't noticed, the Jews were no longer in a place to decide upon God's Word - that baton had been passed to Jesus' bishops.”

I’ve addressed the myth of the Alexandrian canon on various occasions.

“I have already stated that the canon was established in the late 4th century by at least three local councils.”

In Catholic ecclesiology, local councils are fallible. So notice how Scott has to downshift to a merely fallible rule of faith. But if, by his own admission, a fallible rule of faith is sufficient, then we can safely dispense with the Magisterium.

“The Council of Trent did not invent something new, it defined for the Church that which it had already accepted for the past 1100 years as canonical.”

If that’s then case, then why was there so much dissention among the Tridentine Fathers regarding the scope of the OT canon? Why did the Tridentine decree on the canon only pass by a plurality vote?

“Oh, Mr. Hays is saying it was Philo, Josephus and Ben Sira, et al who were the authorities which decided upon the Jewish canon.”

Did I say they “decided” the Jewish canon? No. I cited them as historical witnesses to the Jewish canon.

“If anyone doesn't know - these are Jews during the Christian era.”

Really? Ben Sira was a Jew during the Christian era? Even though he lived in 2-3C BC?

Scott is such an ignoramus. Where does he even get his information? From a comic book?

“Steve continues to advertise that he will continue to respond to what he considers side-topics and then criticize the continued discussion. Again, Mr. Hays should decide ahead of time if he's going to allow for logical progression of a position and discuss it, or if he's going to restrict the discussion to just the original premise.”

When Scott introduces side issues, I reserve the right to respond to his side issues. At the same time, I also reserve the right point out that he’s digressing from the issue at hand.

“If Mr. Hays engages the subjects then he is giving tacit approval to the appropriateness of the discussion and has no room for complaint.”

Because Scott can’t make good on his original claim, he tries to shore up his failure by dragging in other pop arguments that pop epologists for Rome resort to in debating the canon. I feel free to shoot these down for the benefit of the reader, but I’m under no obligation to do so.

“It is undeniable that Jesus was put to death by the Jews as an impostor and false prophet.”

Scott indulges in classic Jew-baiting smear tactics. Ben Sira lived and died long before Jesus was born. For his part, Philo lived in Alexandria, and died c. 50 AD. So there’s no reason to assume he was even conversant with Christianity, or that his views of the OT canon had any connection with the nascent Christian movement.

Scott is tarring all Jews as Christ-killers, regardless of their historical situation.

“Scott chuckles: ‘Last resort?!’ Mr. Hays, I've not yet begun to fight! That being said, I am not the one who introduced anti-Semite polemical adjectives here.”

Fine. Why don’t we consult a second opinion. Let’s see Scott post the contact information for his parish priest and Diocesan bishop. We will then run Scott’s statements about the Jewish canon by his religious superiors for their evaluation.

Are you up to the challenge, Scott? Do you believe in the Catholic accountability system?

“When push comes to (shove), we do turn to the authority Jesus Christ left to ‘Feed (His) Sheep,’ yes.”

In context, that would be a statement made to Peter, not to Benedict XVI.

“It's just a statement of fact, Mr. Hays.”

It’s a fact that the Vulgate as authorized by the papacy. Such authorization is a circular argument for the Catholic canon.

And Tfan has also corrected Scott on his equivocal appeal to the KJV.

“There is nothing circular about stating the fact that it would not be until the time of Protestantism in the 16th century that some translations would be published without the deuterocanonicals.”

Since Scott doesn’t seem to be very sharp, I guess we’ll have to explain the obvious to him. Scott is citing historical “facts” as if these are normative. But, at best, these simply describe what various people believed at various times. That, of itself, doesn’t confer any normative force on such “facts.” At best it tells you what certain men believed, and not what they should have believed–much less what we should believe just because they believed it.

“This also does not disregard the dissension, largely among Protestants, when Trent was convened and is precisely why Trent addressed the issue with a dogmatic definition to end the debate among faithful Catholics who may have been influenced by protesting heretics of the day.”

I see that Scott missed the point–perhaps out of ignorance. The dissention in view wasn’t dissension among Protestants. Rather, there was dissention among the Tridentine Fathers regarding the scope of the OT canon.

“If it is something Mr. Hays wishes not to discuss, he can choose to stick to only the subject he wishes to discuss! By engaging the discussion he nullifies his complaint.”

I’m sure that Scott would like to see all of his red herrings go unchallenged. The fact that I challenge them doesn’t change the further fact that these are pungent red herrings.

“He stated the Catholic ‘rule of faith’ was dependent upon the Protestant ‘rule of faith’ for validity.”

What does that summary statement allude to?

“Whether or not Newman or Liccione required the Catholic rule of faith to be self-referential is what is truly irrelevant to the overall point Mr. Hays is trying to make.”

The fact that I framed my discussion in explicit reference to the a priori arguments of Newman and Liccione makes it directly germane to my overall point. If Scott is too illiterate to register my explicit reference point, then that’s his problem, not mine.

“Whether or not Mr. Hays has responded to this before is irrelevant to this discussion/debate. If one chooses to engage, then engage - dismissing an argument on the grounds one has responded to it before is an invalid response. Mr. Hays and I have not directly engaged each other previously (that I am aware of) so he does not get a pass on previous responses - especially when he does not even directly cite a single one of them, which would be rather easy to do in this online environment.”

Let’s set the record straight:

i) I didn’t initiate the debate with Scott Windsor–he did.

ii) When he raises objections that I’ve frequently fielded, due to his studied ignorance of my many counterarguments, that’s his problem, not mine.

Since I didn’t initiate this exchange, it’s not incumbent on me to bring every pop epologist wannabe up to speed. Rather, it’s up to him to inform himself before initiating a debate with me.

I’m not responding for his benefit. Regular readers of Tblog already know what I’ve written on the subject. That’s the target audience.

“The Magisterium" is not the subject of this debate.”

Scott himself has made the Magisterium a subject of this debate by positing the Magisterium as the Catholic alterative to the alleged deficiencies of sola Scriptura. He’s a Catholic epologist. This is all a set-up for “prove” the Roman Magisterium.

“The point was that even by Mr. Hays' ‘rule of faith’ - his premise is exposed as self-contradicting in the fact that Scripture reveals ANOTHER infallible authority. Ignoring this fact does not make it go away.”

i) What Scott is pleased to call a “fact” is simply his tendentious prooftexting. Calling his tendentious interpretation a “fact” doesn’t make it a fact.

ii) And if his interpretation were a fact, then it would only be a fact because his prooftexts were perspicuous–in which case he proves Catholicism by disproving Catholicism.

Scott then spends some more time repeating his tendentious claim as if repetition makes a question-begging assertion true. Moving along:

“I am not overly concerned with Mr. Hays ‘referent’ of Newman and Liccione.”

In other words, he can’t defend the a priori argument of Newman and Liccione. I accept his terms of surrender on their behalf.

As such, he has, by his own admission, miserable failed to rebut my original post. He has to let that stand. Instead, he tries every which way to change the subject.

“Rather the FACT, which he has yet to dispute, that Scripture itself identifies ANOTHER infallible authority thus rendering the concept of SOLA scriptura (as the SOLE infallible rule of faith for the Church) self contradictory.”

I’ve disputed that elsewhere. But I’m not going to let Scott derail the point of my post. I understand why he’d like nothing more than to deflect attention away from the inadequacies of the a priori argument by his Catholic cohorts.

“So looking at the overall picture - Mr. Hays argument falls on its own terms.”

Since I never framed the argument in Scott’s terms, my argument stands.

“Mr. Hays totally ignores the fact that he's built up a straw man argument (one of the common fallacies of debate) and then proceeds to knock it down. The FACT is that 'sola scriptura' is the claim that Scripture ALONE is the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church, if he does not agree with this definition - then I encourage him to let us know what is the particular variation of sola scriptura he adheres to.”

Scott seems to lack the gray matter to follow my argument, even though I’ve spelled that out. Here we go again:

i) Catholic apologists like Newman and Liccione mount an a priori argument for the Catholic rule of faith.

ii) In the nature of the case, this a priori argument doesn’t require the rule of faith to be self-referential. Rather, it enjoys an axiomatic status. A necessary presupposition. Even if it didn’t refer back to itself, you couldn’t do without it, so the appeal is self-confirmatory.

iii) By parity of argument, if the Protestant rule of faith is self-refuting unless it is self-referential, then the Catholic rule of faith is self-refuting unless it is self-referential.

iv) Catholics can only say the Protestant rule of faith is self-refuting on pain of admitting that the Protestant rule of faith is self-refuting.

v) The only way to avoid (iv) is to surrender the a priori argument for the Catholic rule of faith and hope that posteriori arguments can deliver the goods.

vi) And even if they took the (v) route, that would be insufficient to disprove sola Scriptura–for they would also need to demonstrate that our rule of faith is not self-referential.

I’ve bracketed that issue to focus on the a priori argument, and my corresponding argument from analogy.

vii) I’ve also pointed out that the charge of self-refutation commits a level-confusion. As such, it doesn’t even work on its own terms.

“This debate is NOT about whether or not the Catholic Church preaches a ‘sola’ - and the POINT here is that Catholics do not adhere to a SINGLE rule of faith unless one wishes to engage the term of ‘sola ecclesiam’ which is NOT a single rule - but a combination of rules to lead, guide and govern God's People (the Church).”

Scott now equivocates by treating “sola” as a synonym for one particular rather than one of a kind. But “sola” or “only” can also designate a singular class or category of things (e.g. a set of criteria) as well as a single particular.

“I am not engaging Newman or Liccione in how THEY framed the argument.”

Obviously not. And Scott doesn’t get to dictate the terms of the debate.

“Again, I am not arguing against suprema scriptura - but sola scriptura, that being that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. If Mr. Hays does not adhere to THAT definition, then all this has been for naught - as we've then been arguing about two different variations of what is labeled sola scriptura.”

Scott oversimplifies the definition of sola Scriptura.

“No, I don't need to exegete the ‘Roman episcopate’ - my responsibility in THIS debate is to demonstrate sola scriptura is self-contradictory - and I have done this in showing Scripture itself points to ANOTHER infallible authority.”

All he’s done is to take his interpretation for granted. That doesn’t show what Scripture points to. That merely shows us Scott’s lame opinion.

“The binding and loosing language is that ‘whatsoever they bind (or loose)’ is bound or loosed in Heaven.”

Repeating or paraphrasing the language of the text goes no distance towards exegeting the language of the text.

“This authority was given to a group of men, the first bishops of the Church.”

i) His Matthean prooftexts make no reference to “bishops.”

ii) And even if they did, Scott would also need to show that the Matthean concept of episcopacy is synonymous with the Catholic concept of episcopacy.

All we’re getting from Scott are gaps instead of arguments.

iii) And assuming, for the sake of argument, that his prooftexts mean what he claims for them, then he’s treating his prootexts as perspicuous verses. In which case his appeal to Scripture assumes the perspicuity of Scripture.

He thereby proves the Catholic stem by punching a whole in the Catholic stern. Either way, his ship is taking on water.

“The objective reader can see that I have successfully proven my point…”

Having you ever noticed how losing debaters resort to the handy abstraction of “objective” or “fair-minded” readers who surely take their side–even though the debater don’t actually quote from any representative sample of “objective” readers who say they side with the debater?

“Well I am pleased to see that Mr. Hays has conceded that this authority was indeed given to the Apostles, the first bishops of the Church.”

Scott has now broadcast his monumental ignorance of the opposing position. He acts as though he’s wrung a fatal concession from me by my reference to the epoch of public revelation.

But, of course, sola Scriptura never denied the infallible authority of prophets, apostles, and other inspired writers during the era of public revelation.

And that is wholly irrelevant to whether or not Scripture is the rule of faith after the era of public revelation came to an end.

Indeed, the infallible writings of the NT are the way in which then-living infallible authorities chose to express and commemorate their infallible authority for the benefit of posterity.

Since, by his own admission, Scott desperately refuses to interact with the actual topic of my post, I graciously accept his terms of unconditional surrender.


  1. I've been seeing catholic epologists stating that the question of the canon was unsettled for 400 years, an interesting claim. Where was the pope during all this confusion and anarchy? Vacationing in Avignon?

  2. Actually, we know what the intention of the Westminster divines was with respect to the WCF, for the Westminster Larger Catechism we read...

    Question 3: What is the Word of God?
    Answer: The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, the only rule of faith and obedience.

    And the Westminster Shorter Catechism reads...

    Q. 2. What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him?
    A. The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy him.

    The WCF, WLC and the WSC together form the Westminster Standards.

  3. "Since, by his own admission, Scott desperately refuses to interact with the actual topic of my post, I graciously accept his terms of unconditional surrender."


  4. "Since, by his own admission, Scott desperately refuses to interact with the actual topic of my post, I graciously accept his terms of unconditional surrender."

    I have not surrendered, in fact, I have not yet begun to fight! I was not even aware this "response" was posted. Kindly, while I understand the reason for posting on this blog and not using the combox on mine, please at least post a link/reference on my blog so I know you've responded to what I wrote. I do not believe that is asking too much. I try to keep those to whom I am responding informed that I have made such a response (that is, if their blog allows for comments).

    I will also respond to the other comments in this combox at bit later.

    Earlier Response to Steve Hays

  5. Semper Reformanda wrote: I've been seeing catholic epologists stating that the question of the canon was unsettled for 400 years, an interesting claim. Where was the pope during all this confusion and anarchy? Vacationing in Avignon?

    The pope, for much of that time, was not out making himself a target for the Romans. That being said, just because he DIDN'T do something doesn't mean he COULDN'T and obviously, for the first 400 years, it wasn't as critical an issue as it is for Protestants in the 21st century.

    In JMJ,
    CathApol blog

  6. DTK, thanks for the references.

    TUaD, Mr. Hays portrayal of concession on my part may have been humorous but was, of course, wishful thinking on his part, and the fact of the matter is I did focus on the main topic.

    CathApol Blog