Friday, May 18, 2018

Marriage to a Praying Mantis

I'll comment on this post:

Protestant ethics was centered on biblical authority, they argued, while Roman Catholic ethics, because of its natural law tradition, was far too enamored with the powers of human reason. Protestants emphasized the consistency of the Bible’s moral teaching, summarized in the Ten Commandments, while Roman Catholics wrongly contrasted the new law of the gospel with the old law of Israel.

In some ways, to be sure, the reformers themselves paved the way for this contrast. While they upheld the traditional Christian teaching that God’s moral will is written on the human heart and in the creation order (i.e., natural law), they expressed fresh skepticism regarding the capabilities of human reason. While they insisted that Christians were to interpret the Ten Commandments in light of the law’s fulfillment in Christ, they downplayed any meaningful contrast between the ethical teaching of the old and new testaments.

1. It oversimplifies the issue to say Protestant ethics centered on the Decalogue. 

i) Does Lutheran ethics center on the Decalogue? Does Anabaptist ethics center on the Decalogue? What about Anglican theology a la Hooker? 

ii) Even in Presbyterianism, there's the general equity of the Mosaic law in addition to the Decalogue. 

2. A common problem with natural law appeals is how Catholic apologists gerrymander natural law to retroactively defend positions that were arrived at independently of natural law, based on ecclesiastical authority. Case in point is the Catholic position on contraception. 

Over time, however, many evangelical Protestants virtually abandoned the concept of natural law altogether, in favor of an emphasis on biblical authority. And because of their emphasis on the Ten Commandments as the perfect expression of God’s moral will, they largely ignored the distinctiveness of the New Testament’s virtue-oriented, Christocentric approach to ethics. Thus one could look far and wide for any meaningful Protestant study of Christian virtues akin to that of Aquinas.

1. I don't object to natural law in principle, but it's usually bedeviled by lack of specificity.

2. Did Aquinas have a Christocentric approach to ethics?

3. The virtue-orientated aspect of Protestant ethics is indexed to a pastoral theology of mortification and sanctification (e.g. John Owen, Richard Sibbes). 

4. The relation between OT and NT ethics is a matter of perennial theological debate. 

5. Does Tuininga think NT ethics is virtue-oriented in contrast to OT ethics? Of course, the Mosaic law is largely a civil and penal code, so it's focussed on behavior. But there's also a recurring theme about circumcision of the heart in OT ethics. 

6. What about classic examples of Protestant casuistry by William Perkins, William Ames, and Richard Baxter? 

Yet even here, as Protestants we have much to learn from our Catholic brothers and sisters. 

Bible scholars like Richard Bauckham, Gordon Wenham, and Christopher Wright have done yeoman work on OT ethics. Likewise, we have fine evangelical ethicists like John Frame, John Feinberg, and John Jefferson Davis. 

For example, the Catholic church has long promoted and protected Christian celibacy as an alternative to marriage, in line with the example and teaching of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. 

The Catholic church has long promoted and protected clerical pederasty as an alternative to marriage, in line with the example of bacha bazi in Islam. 

Likewise, the Catholic church has held faithfully to the sanctity of marriage, insisting that divorce is profoundly incompatible with the sacramental meaning of marriage as an analogy for the unity between Christ and the church. 

Likewise, the Catholic church has skirted the sanctity of marriage through the loophole of annulment. The "sanctity of marriage" in Catholicism is a sham. 

In Scripture, marriage is a covenant, not a sacrament. 

In stark contrast, Protestants have tended to overemphasize marriage as the only ideal life plan for all Christians, while at the same time tolerating and even defending the prevalence of divorce.

In stark contrast, Protestants agree with Scripture that there are justifiable grounds for divorce.  

Protestants also have much to learn from Catholic social teaching as it pertains to poverty and oppression. 

Like how the Roman Catholic church used to oppress theological dissidents, viz. the Inquisition, Exsurge Domine? Like how the Catholic church exploited the poor through the sale of indulgences? 

Classic Christian thought taught that God has given the world to human beings in common. It affirmed the legitimacy of property subject to the requirement that those who have what they need share with those who do not, in order that the poor might receive justice. This has evolved into the modern Catholic concept of solidarity, which calls Christians to bear the burdens of those who are poor and oppressed. 

Poverty isn't always the result of injustice. 

Protestants would do well to emulate the Catholic conviction that the sanctity of life requires vigorous protection at every stage and in every form, like a “seamless garment” from beginning to end.

That's a euphemism for opposition to capital punishment. 

The gospel of the kingdom and its righteousness remains the same as it did one thousand and two thousand years ago…

The NT Gospel remains the same. But that's hardly the Gospel preached by Rome a 1000 years ago, or 500 years ago, or today. Catholicism is a different religion from biblical theism. 

…and faithful Protestants and Catholics of all denominations will increasingly find that, as pilgrims on the same journey, serving one Lord with one faith, they will come much nearer to their goal if they walk together than if they walk separately.

Oh, Gosh, all we need is a picture of a cowboy riding off into the sunset with an angel choir in the background. Catholic theology and Protestant theology represent divergent theological visions. A road sign pointing in different directions. 

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