Monday, May 14, 2007

Sola Touchstonia

First off, I note that Touchstone responded to my last comment, but didn't bother to respond to Peter's (see here; BTW, these responses are worth reading, too). I surmise the reason is because Peter's response, as usual, has entirely overwhelmed Touchstone!

Now, if only I could present the truth as clearly and as intelligently as Peter does, maybe I could frighten Touchstone away, too. But since I lack Peter's incisive intellect, I'll just have to hobble along and do what I can.

Touchstone said:
How does one decide what is "rightly exegeted" and what is not, Patric, so that we may understand what is "orthodox" in your view. Without a way to determine who has "rightly exegeted" and who has not, your definition is useless.
Well, Touchston, er, I mean, Touchstone, as we have pointed out to you time and time again, the Bible is the inspired Word of God. That's the starting point for Christians -- among whom, I might remind you, you profess to belong.

But, stepping away from the Bible for a second, how do you interpret any piece of writing? How do you go about this sort of thing? I suppose there are several possible points of departure. For example, you could start by looking at the genre of a work. A poem is to be understood differently than a novel which in turn is to be understood differently than a work of history. The Bible itself has 66 books which contains genres as diverse as poetry, proverbs, historical narrative, etc. Not to mention subgenres within those genres.

Also, you could keep in mind that the goal of interpretation is to understand a particular book as the original author intended it to be understood by the original target audience.

You could use what you know of the historical background and the cultural milieu of the book in question to aid you in understanding it.

You could google "Grammatico-Historical method" and read up on it.

You could take a look at something like D.A. Carson's Exegetical Fallacies.

And you could use your reason and logic. Or, wait a sec, I totally forgot: you've abandoned using reason and logic in your capitulation to post-modernism. My bad!

Anyway, the broader point I'm trying to make is that the Bible dictates how we interpret it; we do not dictate the way we interpret the Bible. (I realize this is overly simplistic, but I am talking to a simpleton, after all, and making do as best I can.)
If you can't brook that, it's no problem for me. You are your own pope, and you define your own orthodoxy -- you are a canon unto yourself.
Hm, I wonder where I've heard this before? Oh, that's right: from Roman Catholic critics of the Protestant position on sola scriptura.

But I thought Touchstone was a Protestant?

Ah, yes he is! As he says here:
And just so we're clear, I'm not a Catholic, or an Eastern Orthodox. I'm a Protestant, which makes me a pope unto myself just like you. I am the top-most earthly authority on what the Bible says to me. I can delegate whatever interepretational responsibilites to whatever theologians, denominations or snake oil salesman apologists I'd like, but it's still delegation. I begin with the authority, and ultimately retain it; if I don't think denomination XYZ is "rightly exegeting", I look elsewhere for "right exegesis", asserting myself as the final earthly authority on what Scripture says.
So if Touchstone is his own pope, and if what the Bible teaches is adjudicated at the court of Touchstone, then ultimately Touchstone sits in judgment over Scripture itself. Welcome to sola Touchstonia! All hail Pope Touchstone! He is Touchstone, and on this rock, Christ will build his church! Touchstone finally lives up to his name.

Hey, but don't think I'm somehow knocking him. I mean, judging by Touchstone's own standard (there is no other!), at least sola Touchstonia has the merit of being more post-modern (it's all about Touchstone) than Touchstone's previous position, that is, when he was espousing sola ecclesia:
It [doctrine] isn't orthodox because of it's [sic] age or historical status, but, as I've [Touchstone] said several times now, because it represents the formal consensus of the catholic episcopate.


  1. It's just a weird twist on "reformed Catholic" type arguments.

    I still find it strange and weird that T-stone believes it's totally fine to question sola fide and, indeed, to doubt it or throw it aside but believes that YEC is God-dishonoring. The irony is palpable.

  2. Hm, that's a good point, Rhology. Thanks for bringing it out. :-)

  3. Hmm, it seemed to me Touchstone was simply stating that everyone interprets scripture/history in order to evaluate and make a personal judgment on which confession/communion's claims are most reasonable. This is the same argument that protestants make against rc/eo's when they pull out the "you're not infallible so why should I trust your interpretation" card. I mean, interpretation is unavoidable in deciding what church to join and also whether or not to remain in that church (the latter part more applicable to protestants as rc/eo would believe their particular church is infallible as part of their faith - of course rc's and eo's both still leave for other churches sometimes). I don't think touchstone was saying, "I don't care what the bible says, I think this and will conform whatever the bible says to fit my ideas" but that lots of people try to faithfully interpret the bible by trying to let it interpret itself and can still come to different conclusions (I doubt everyone who read Carson's book and applies it are in complete agreement with each other). And so people are going to choose/affirm what most seems reasonable to their interpretation. But that's just like my opinion, man.

  4. The problem here is that he's run to the Ancient Creeds for the "catholic consensus" as his standard for orthodoxy. But how so? Given (a) his postmodern epistemology, how does he know those creeds are definitional for orthodoxy? How does he even know what they mean? Let's take the term "person." From Boethius forward, there have been multiple definitions of the term, and Boethius' leads to tritheism. He's completely oblivious to historical theology in that regard.

    And, if he was to interpret those creeds by the GHM, viz. what they meant to the original authors, then it would be massively inconsistent for him when he exegetes Scripture and doubts or denies Sola Fide. Touchstone has said in the past that Genesis 1 - 10/11 is "allegory/allegorical," but that's not the GHM speaking; that's Touchstone's rationalism speaking. So, in the end, his rule of faith is exactly what Patrick has noted, "Whatever makes Touchstone happy."