Saturday, August 17, 2013

Laying the foundation

My exchange with Justin has outgrown the confines of the combos, so I'll post it here:

"If the function of the apostles and prophets are revelatory, that is, they were inspired witnesses of Christ and the mystery revealed in the gospel, then v.20 does teach a one time laying of a foundation, as the thought doesn't end there. It continues through v.21 and 22 into 3:1-6."

i) In terms of the "revelation" of the "mystery" in Ephesians, that has reference to event-revelation, where the age of fulfillment unpacks the place of the Gentiles in the new covenant. Although there are intimations of that in the OT, how that was to play out awaited the first advent of Christ, and Pentecost. In context, that's less about God inspiring individuals than revealing himself through the historical process. 

ii) By the same token, the apostles–especially the Twelve (minus Judas), function as historical witnesses to the life and ministry of Christ. (And Paul is the exception that proves the rule.) In Ephesians, it's less about what God revealed to them and more about what they saw, heard, and bore witness to. That's the context.

iii) Unlike apostles, NT prophets aren't needn't be "witnesses." They don't have to have that direct connection to the historical Christ.

"If the foundation isn't laid once for all in the coming of Christ and the establishment of His church in the apostles, then you have a continual revelatory function in the Church outside of Scripture."

You're failing to draw an elementary distinction between "This verse doesn't teach X" and "This verse teaches against X."

Did I say the foundation is laid more than once? No. Rather, what I said is that Eph 2:20 doesn't say whether or not laying the foundation is repeatable. That idea isn't broached one way or the other.

Sure, you can say on other grounds that the foundation is laid once for all time, but that doesn't mean this verse speaks to that particular issue. It doesn't affirm or deny it.

Complaining about the consequences is exegetically irrelevant. For instance, it's true that God made the world. And denying that truth has dire consequences.

It doesn't follow that Eph 2:20 says God made the world. You can't make a verse say more than it does just because you want it to. And just because something is true doesn't mean a given verse of Scripture teaches that particular truth.

"No one use the word 'fundamental' until you did. Nor is there any reason that I"m aware of to translate it with those implications."

I'm discussing synonyms. Look it up.

"Pastors and elders aren't mentioned in v.20 ."

I didn't say or imply that they were.

"Prophets, apostles are the foundational offices here with Christ as the cornerstone. Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers aren't mention until Eph 4."

And there's nothing in 4:11 to indicate apostles and prophets are temporary while the other three positions are permanent.

Yes, one can make an argument for the cessation of the apostolate, but that's a separate argument.

"From what I can tell the cessationist argument is simply focusing on the way Paul is employing the metaphor, along the lines that he does so. So the structure is laid, yet Paul makes room for more growth (v.21) and more building by the Spirit in Christ (v.22). Your comment on a 'finished product' is alien to Paul's metaphor."

You're a careless reader. Paul uses mixed metaphors. He alternates between different metaphors to suit the immediate needs of his argument. In 2:19, he begins with a household metaphor. In v20 he shifts to an architectural (i.e. building) metaphor. In v21, he sharpens the building metaphor to make it specifically a temple metaphor, but he also includes a biological metaphor about "growth." In 4:13-16, he makes more extensive use of the biological metaphor.

"Room for growth" isn't part of the architectural metaphor (e.g. "foundation"). Rather, that's part of the biological metaphor (i.e. physical maturation of a human body).

Cessationists arbitrarily separate the "foundational" aspect of the architectural metaphor from the overall image of a temple. Keep in mind, too, that Solomon's temple, which is the template for Paul's metaphor, was a finished product, not a work in progress.

"In context it's both. Apostles, Prophets, and Christ had one thing in common, and that is their revelatory office."

i) One of your defective methodological habits is to disregard the specifics of a passage. You try to invoke your understanding of systematic theology to flatten what a passage specifies. You're the one who brought up Eph 3. Well, in what sense was the "mystery" revealed? There's already a general sense in which 3:6 was intimated in the OT. So what's new?

What's new is the age of fulfillment. The historical fulfillment pencils in details you can't find in OT prophecies. BTW, that's how commentators (e.g. Arnold, O'Brien, Thielman) understand the "mystery" in Eph 3. So my interpretation is pretty mainstream.

ii) Paul doesn't say much about what NT prophets do. He usually gives functional descriptions. The effect of NT prophecy rather than the content. As a result, Pauline scholars resort to word-studies or comparative studies on the nature of prophecy in the Greco-Roman world, Second Temple Judaism, and/or the OT. 

Acts is a more informative source on the nature of NT prophecy, because Acts gives concrete examples. Making vague claims about a "revelatory office" fails to delineate in what sense that was "revelatory"–especially in the context of a particular passage of Scripture. 

"The NT has a progressing revelatory feature as well, and the NT implies that this feature has a goal in founding the Church."

Well, it's not just about founding "the Church." Paul talks about prophets in relation to church planting. Founding local churches. That's ongoing. 

And it isn't just about "founding." In 1 Cor 12-14, it's also about worship. Your analysis is reductionistic. 

"Paul specifically mentions Christ and His Apostles and Prophets here and their purpose for the office. You separate the revelation from the historical process, and you have an ongoing revelatory feature of the church, instead of a building on of what's already there."

Maybe you just lack reading ability. I did the opposite of separating revelation from the historical process. Rather, I pointed out that in Eph 3, the historical process is revelatory. Try to track the actual argument.

"By the way, just because the office has ceased doesn't rule out miraculous healings. It just rules out that no one person has that kind of power at their disposal. Like pulling the Holy Spirit out of their hat. It seems like an unnecessary exercise to attack cessationists here."

i) This is another one of your characteristically sloppy accusations. I'm the one who's repeatedly pointed out that MacArthurite cessationists drive a wedge between mediate and immediate miracles. How did you miss that? I've also pointed out that, having made that dichotomy, they proceed to ignore it. And I've also demonstrated that the distinction is artificial. 

ii) In addition, allowing for the possibility that God still gifts some people with healing power doesn't mean healers have a monopoly on healing. God could still heal people directly.

"According to the NT, the NT prophets were connected to Christ via the Apostles."

i) "Connected" is a weasel word. Many things are connected to the apostles. Church-planting is connected to the apostles. So by your logic, church-planting would cease when the apostolate ceased. Same thing with evangelists.

ii) Elders are more tightly connected to apostles than prophets. The apostles appointed elders, whereas the apostles didn't appoint prophets. Prophets received their revelations direct from the Holy Spirit. So your line of reasoning would be a stronger argument for the cessation of church officers (eldership) rather than charismatics (NT prophets). 

"Whether they were witnesses to Him historically isn't an issue, the issue is whether they have a continuing function."

Of course that's the issue. To be an eyewitness is inherently timebound in a way that prophecy is not. 

"Given that they were side by side with the apostles, with Christ being the cornerstone, with their offices being revelatory."

Elders and evangelists worked side-by-side with the apostles. So by your logic, evangelism ceased with the cessation of the apostolate.

This is your problem. You're trying to invoke a general principle to short-circuit continuationism. But your principle is too general to rule out the continuance of the charismata without ruling out other things you think continue.

"One would need to come up with something better than 'it doesn't have to be like that' because Paul is connecting those offices with that function."

Did I merely say "It doesn't have to be like that"? No. 

"You said the idea isn't there, which is false. The idea is there, and the implication of that idea is that the offices had temporary functions."

Your assertions don't make it true. Wanting it to be there doesn't make it so. 

You can't get that from the actual wording of the verse. Paul says they were foundational, period. Whether or not the foundation was laid "once for all" isn't something that verse states either way. Rather, that's an idea you keep imposing on the text, despite the silence of the text in that regard.

"Unrepeatable, once for all, just like Christ's earthly ministry. There are continuing features, but the Messianic, prophetic, and apostolic offices are closed. That was what I was saying. "

i) I don't deny the unrepeatability of the foundation. But Eph 2:20 doesn't say that. There's no sentence, no word or set of words, which states that or means that. You can't get everything you want from a single verse. 

ii) In addition, your further inference is fallacious. An unrepeatable foundation doesn't entail the rapid cessation of what's founded. For instance, Deut 18:16 marks the formal institution of the prophetic office. But once instituted, it didn't end anytime soon. That institution continued in the life of Israel for centuries. From the Mosaic era through the postexilic era. 

"Well, it isn't affirmed or denied if eph 2:20 is seen standing unrelated to the rest of Paul's thought (in eph 3 and 4)."

Been there, done that.

"If you're a continualist, then I implore you to continue to eph 3! :)"

I'm not a continuationist. Try to occasionally pay attention to my stated position, if you presume to critique it.

"That is their role as holy apostles and prophets. In light of this, would you say that there is a continuing feature in this office? Something that extends beyond Paul's description of the role in the context?"

No, that is one of their roles. For instance, Paul was also a healer.

Likewise, Paul was a church-planter. So should we stop planting new churches after the death of the apostles? 

"But Paul isn't making that point. The translation of foundational is used because Paul's teaching stresses a 'once for all"ness of their office.'"

No, "foundational" is used because that's the metaphor Paul is using: an architectural metaphor.

I know you're stuck on the notion of the 'once for all"ness of their office,' but you're substituting that for what the text actually says, and how that plays into Paul's new temple analogy. Your interpretation becomes an exercise in misdirection, as you shift focus away from Paul's real point to something you desperately want him to say.

"You made a comparison based on a weak translation of 'foundational' to connote a continual feature of the apostolic and prophetic office the same way elders and pastors are. Pastors and Elders, while essential to the Church, don't play the same role as apostles and prophets even though they are essential as well."

No, I didn't use that to connote a continual feature. Rather, I'm simply pointed out that cessationists are arbitrary in their choice of synonyms. 

"Nope, because you are skipping what Ephesians 3 is teaching about prophets and apostles. If there is some other feature of the office, feel free to demonstrate it in light of Paul's teaching."

Been there, done that.

"Both offices were revelatory given the teaching of these texts. So it isn't separate."

You keep using the word "revelatory" as if that's a monolithic concept. But that's simplistic. The oracles in Acts 11:28 and 21:10-11were revelatory, but there's nothing "foundational" about the content of those oracles. Rather, they were topical, ad hoc messages. 

Likewise, prophetic insight in 1 Cor 14:24-25 isn't "foundational." That doesn't establish "the Church." Rather, that facilitates the conversion of ordinary individuals. 

"I don't think the separation is arbitrary Paul mentions Apostles and Prophets in Eph 2:20 as architectural. He mentions them all later as biological, but that doesn't mean all of their offices are open."

i) You can't draw inferences from one metaphor to a different metaphor. Each metaphor has potential connotations internal to the imagery. 

ii) "Offices" typically outlast any particular office-holder. If you're going to cast the issue in terms of "office," that undercuts cessationism. 

No comments:

Post a Comment