Saturday, May 15, 2010


steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 5:41 pm

Bryan Cross said,

“We need to back up and answer a prior question. How do we rightly determine the criteria by which a bishop loses his ecclesial authority? Until we answer that question, we cannot determine objectively whether any particular bishop has or has not lost his ecclesial authority, and we thus run the risk of rebelling against a rightful ecclesial authority. That’s a very serious error that we shouldn’t trivialize or take lightly.”

Needless to say, the way Bryan frames the question is just a charade. That’s because Bryan will simply retroengineer the criterion to conform to his preconceived ecclesiology. For Bryan begins with the unfalsifiable presupposition that the church of Rome is indefectible. And he also regards the papal office as a necessary condition of Rome’s indefectibility.

As such, he’s taken off the table, before he even sits down at the table, any possibility that papal office might lose its ecclesial authority. He may grant the possibility that a particular incumbent could lose his ecclesial authority. But the office itself is immune to falsification. For the office itself is an ultimate criterion in his stipulative, aprioristic scheme.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Andrew Preslar said,

“History gives us the necessary reasons to believe that the bishops of Rome maintained legitmate succession, both in the episcopate (by ordination) and in the Chair of St. Peter (by election). (1) As to the Roman episcopate: The episcopacy in Rome has been objectively maintained through the unbroken laying on of hands from the Apostles, which line of succession has been documented from the 2nd century to the 21st.”

I’ll make two brief comments:

i) Andrew gives a number of reasons in support of his position. However, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So even if most of his reasons were cogent, his argument only had to break down once to vitiate his claim.

Let’s consider the above:

ii) Even if we grant, for the sake of argument, seamless manual succession, this is, at best, a necessary rather than sufficient condition of valid ordination.

Besides the outward ritual there must also be the right intention on the part of the officiate and the ordinand.

However, intent is a private mental state which is inaccessible to historical verification.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 6:26 pm

Keep in mind that whenever Bryan quotes the church fathers, he is playing with loaded dice. What distinguishes a church father from a schismatic or heretic? According to Bryan, the Roman Magisterium makes that determination. To be a church father is to be a father of the true church (i.e. the church of Rome). For that matter, the Roman Magisterium is the authentic interpreter of the consensus patrum. Therefore, the church fathers don’t prove the Magisterium; rather, the Magisterium proves the church fathers. As I say, Bryan always plays with loaded dice.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:54 pm

Andrew Preslar said,

“Again, this is not a description of our position. The sacramental nature of Holy Orders, whereby grace is objectively given, is an essential aspect of Apostolic Succession > ecclesial identity/continuity > ecclesial authority (the subject of this thread) > ecclesial veracity. So anyone who wishes to find the Church that Christ founded must trace the sacramental lines of succession.”

Well, to take just one example, how would an illiterate peasant in 13C Umbria find the church? How would he be in a position to trace valid holy orders for the past 12 centuries?

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Bryan Cross said,

“The Church has understood these promises that the Spirit would be ‘with you forever’ and ‘guide you into all truth’ to be promises that the Spirit of truth would be with the Church to the end of the age, when Christ returns, guiding the Church into all truth.”

And what rescues that statement from vicious circularity?

“However, every Arian in the fourth century could have done the same thing, picking out what beliefs he thinks are essential, and then identifying the Church as those who share those beliefs.”

Not to mention all of the Arian bishops of the Arian episcopate, in apostolic succession, comprising the Arian magisterium.

“One of the ways in which he can determine whether the Church is right and he is wrong, is by examining what Christians have always and everywhere believed about the doctrine or passage or interpretation in question. In other words, he can (and should) turn to the Tradition. If his interpretation is the novelty, then he should humbly submit to the Church, and allow it to correct his interpretation; he shouldn’t presuppose ecclesial deism and some form of restorationism that starts with himself (ala Joseph Smith).”

Can’t you just imagine the Sanhedrin uses the same argument to quash Peter’s interpretation of Messianic prophecies?

And, of course, the comparison with Joseph Smith is inapt since he didn’t confine himself to the Bible. He wrote his own idiosyncratic “translation” of the Bible, and added his own “scriptures” to the Bible.

But what about Mormonism? A Mormon could also use Bryan’s circular arguments. Just imagine what fun a Mormon could have with Bryan’s ecclesiological gloss on Jn 16:13.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Sean said,

“By all means, please start quoting schismatic ‘church fathers’ to supplement your claims. Why don’t you make a list of ‘real’ church fathers and we will only quote from those?”

I see that you’re slow on the uptake. Nothing new.

I don’t rest my argument on the church fathers. I was responding to Bryan on his own terms.

Try to do better next time.

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Perry Robinson said,

“I am wondering, is there such a thing as presuppositionally neutral dice to play with?”

So, Perry, are you admitting that you cheat at the tables?

If everybody plays with loaded dice, be it the Catholic apologist, Orthodox apologist, Lutheran apologist, Reformed apologist, &c., then is that a tacit concession on your part that all your arguments for Eastern Orthodoxy are viciously circular?

steve hays said,
May 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Perry Robinson has been equivocating in his replies to TFan.

1. Perry is equivocating, as if this is an all-or-nothing issue. Scripture doesn’t have to exhaustively list what beliefs are necessary for salvation over against what beliefs are damnatory–to list some from either or both categories.

2. There’s no antecedent reason to assume there would even be a fixed number. To some extent that might well be person variable, given the Biblical principle that to whom much is given, much is required.

For example, what might be an innocent mistake on the part of a layman might be culpable on the part of a Bible scholar or theologian.

3. Because we subscribe to sola Scriptura, we’re under no obligation to answer questions unless God has answered those questions in his written revelation.

Perry is trying to put Protestants on the defensive, as if the onus lies on us to answer extrascriptural questions. But there’s no reason why we should grant his burden of proof.

That’s his man-made burden of proof. But what matters is what God requires of us, and not what Perry Robinson requires of us. If it wasn’t important to God to answer certain questions, then why should that be important to us?

He acts as if our position leads to unacceptable consequences. But the consequences of sola Scriptura are only unacceptable in case they are unacceptable to God. Just to say that, given our position, it’s up to each individual or group, as if that’s a consequence which should bother us, begs the question.

4. Moreover, in Reformed theology, it’s not just up to the autonomous individual. Sola Scriptura doesn’t exist in a vacuum. For what each individual believes is ultimately up to God, according to his decree, and providential disposition of history.

5. “Most of the critiques by Reformed and non-Reformed writers of Open Theism, divine simplicity comes up fairly often.”

I haven’t seen that myself. Perhaps he’d like to list the Reformed and non-Reformed critics of open theism who bring up divine simplicity “fairly often” in their critique of open theism.

What Perry is really doing is just a polemical ploy. He’s attempting to drag the issue of divine simplicity into the debate by hook and by crook.

6. “So a defense of omniscience, will entail some kind of defense of simplicity.”

Wrong. All we need to defend omniscience is to show that that Scripture teaches omniscience, and also show that open theist prooftexting is erroneous.

But, of course, Perry avoids exegesis. He wants to debate the history of ideas.

steve hays said,
May 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

It’s important to be aware of Perry’s methodology. Notice what is missing from Perry’s argumentation. You don’t see Perry attempting to show that he is right and we are wrong. He doesn’t make a positive case for Eastern Orthodoxy. He doesn’t demonstrate that Calvinism is false.

Taking his handling of sola scriptura. He doesn’t try to show that sola Scriptura is wrong. He only tries to show that Calvinists are inconsistent in their application of sola Scriptura. But he doesn’t show, or even attempt to show, that sola Scriptura itself is mistaken.

Likewise, he doesn’t try to show that TULIP is wrong. Or sola fide.

Instead, Perry tries to win little tactical skirmishes. Proving that what one Calvinist said is inconsistent with what another Calvinist said.

Up to a point, that can be a valid opening move. But there ought to be more to polemical theology than tactics. Tactical maneuvers are not an end in themselves.

At the end of the day the only important question is whether we lead God-honoring lives. Do we worship the true God? Do we conduct our lives in a manner pleasing to God?

That’s the consistency which matters. To live in consistency with God’s revelation for man. That’s how we will be judged.

But Perry doesn’t get around to that. He doesn’t debate truth and falsehood. He reduces the Christian faith to a game of checkers. Did you play by the rules?

Unfortunately, this reflects the outlook of someone who’s lost touch with the reality of God.

For Perry, it’s all about moves and countermoves in a game of checkers. Let’s play checkers on our deathbed while our immortal soul hangs in the balance.

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