Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Prejean's self-destructive apologetics

One can always count on Jonathan Prejean to carry his Catholic presuppositions to their logical absurdity:

“That brings me to my point. Someone who, like an Arian, a Nestorian, a Judaizer, a Pharisee, or a Calvinist, believes something logically inconsistent with Jesus Christ being divine has problems that aren't going to be fixed by appeal to Scripture, even if he ostensibly accepts their authority.”

i) Needless to say, a Calvinist doesn’t believe something logically inconsistent with Jesus being divine.

For that matter, when has Prejean ever attempted to mount a full-blown argument for the deity of Christ? All you’ll ever get from Prejean is a citation from some historical monograph on the finer points of patristic Christology.

But Prejean has admitted in the past that he can’t prove Roman Catholicism. Instead, he retreats into Mormon-style apologetics. It’s something you have to feel via the sacraments.

ii) But more to the point, this is Prejean’s ham-handed attempt at a preemptive strike. He knows that he can never defend his Catholic dogmas on the basis of divine revelation, so he attempts to preempt an appeal to Scripture by these blocking maneuvers.

Of course, to use his own example, imagine a Pharisee using that type of rejoinder when Jesus, the Apostles, NT writers, and NT missionaries appealed to Messianic prophecy to establish the claims of Jesus?

According to Caiaphas, “Someone who, like Jesus, or St. Paul, or St. John, believes something logically inconsistent with ethical monotheism has problems that aren't going to be fixed by appeal to Scripture, even if he ostensibly accepts their authority.”

Back to Prejean:

“Moreover, the very concept of ‘inspiration’ *supposes* an orthodox account of the Trinity. If one does not have a correct and consistent belief in the Holy Spirit and the mediating role of the Son, then how can one have an adequate rational understanding of inspiration?”

So OT Jews, who couldn’t define inspiration in terms of Nicene theology, lacked an adequate rational understanding of inspiration?

Does this mean they were excused from having to obey the Mosaic law or the word of the prophets?

“Certainly, Israel had reasons to believe Scripture on account of a direct, historical interaction, but that was clearly inadequate even on its own terms for all of humanity. The Christian revelation corrected this deficiency; Jesus Himself said this as well.”

So even though the NT commends the faith of gentile Godfearers and proselytes who converted to the Jewish faith prior to the Christian revelation, their reasons for believing the OT scriptures were “clearly inadequate.”

According to Prejean, they should have remained pagans.

“The same can be said of the authority of the Apostles; the reason they have authority for us is *because* they recognized Jesus Christ as God.”

Does Billy Graham have authority for Catholics because Graham recognizes Jesus Christ as God?

“…i.e., they witness what we ourselves have seen.”

i) The apostles witness what we ourselves have seen? Is Prejean having visions of Jesus?

ii) Is that a precondition for believing the apostles? Must every individual have a personal visitation from Jesus before he acknowledges the authority of the apostles?

iii) Of course, if you’ve witnessed Jesus for yourself, then why would you even need the witness of a second party?

“See my comment to David W. above. The problem with sola scriptura as a normative principle is that you can interpret it according to an incompatible Christology, in which case your very concept of Scriptural authority can be defective in the first place.”

Of course, that’s a false dichotomy inasmuch as Scriptural Christology dovetails with Scriptural authority, and vice versa.

“Likewise, if you interpret the Scriptural authors as sharing these defective premises (e.g., that there can be a human person Jesus Christ joined with the Word of God who can be worshipped as the Word of God), then you can arrive at consistent interpretations that are nevertheless wrong. You need more information than the content of Scripture to be able to usefully interpret it, which is necessary for anything to be normatively authoritative.”

i) Why do we need more information than Biblical revelation to have a correct Christology? More information would be something other than revelation. But if our Christology is based on something other than God’s self-revelation, then it’s not a revelation of God. Rather, it only tells us what uninspired men imagine that God is like.

ii) There is also the question of whether our Christology should have lots of nice refinements which go beyond what we can infer from Scripture.

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