Monday, April 26, 2010

Arminius Answers Beckwith: Who Knew?

Read it here.

11 comments:

Peter Brown said...

I can't say I know yet. I couldn't make head or tail out of godismyjudge's argument.

Peace,
--Peter

Francis J. Beckwith said...

I couldn't either.

John Thayer Jensen said...

godismyjudge says:

If we cannot recognize God's word, then we cannot have a canon

In a way, this is right. The question is, who does this recognising. The Catholic answer is that the Church does. And that when there is disagreement amongst members of the Church, it is, ultimately, the Church in union with the Pope that recognises God's Word.

It seems to me - as a once-Protestant, now-Catholic - that this is the fundamental problem with so many Protestant claims. When Christian disagrees with Christian - who sorts it out?

jj

eliots4quartets said...

Dear Godismyjudge,

You write: “Each specific book declares itself to be God's word, so God made the canon that we are required to hold to. We know a book to be God's word by its self-assertion of authority, moral excellence, theological excellence, internal consistency and acceptance by God's people. As soon as we know a book to be God's word, we know it to be canonical. So our canon of scripture is derived from scripture alone.”

We could spend days with each criterion offered here, but do you really think we know that each book is canonical because of its theological excellence? Do you really want to maintain that we know theology a priori? I thought we read God’s word to find out what excellent theology is. Isn’t that the whole point of revelation—to give us knowledge that we could not otherwise gain from, say, a study of nature? If we already know excellent theology, what is the Bible for?

I might also add that I’d like to see the quotations from EVERY Biblical book which state something like “this book is canonical and inspired by God.” But I don’t think you will find them any time soon.

Again, you write : “Beckwith's arguments are self-defeating. If we cannot recognize God's word, then we cannot have a canon....”

No, just because “we” (by which you seem to mean “us Christians” or something like that) cannot deduce the canon from criteria of our own making, it does not follow that no fellow Christians in history could have the authority to determine the canon. If councils have authority, as Beckwith and Catholics hold, then SOMEONE could rightfully determine the canon (under the influence of the Holy Spirit).

Please remember that Christ left the first and second (and all generations) the Holy Spirit and a group of authoritative apostles who hold an OFFICE (see Acts 1) instead of a theological book which he could have easily penned. My friend, I know you think that Sola Scriptura MUST be right. You know this because Jesus has touched your life in the Protestant church, I am willing to bet, and because you sense the power of the Spirit speaking to you in the Bible. I truly rejoice for that. But the LIST of books is not self-authenticating. If it was, Martin Luther could never have wanted to remove James from the Bible along with three other books he objected to (at one point in his life).

You seem to find it offensive that God would work through a council (you mention Trent). But this should not be offensive to you. Recall that God works through material means—including men, praise God!—all the time (whether through your pastor or in Christ’s own incarnation). And as you well know, the Scriptures themselves show God working through ordinary men (the apostles and elders) in the form of a council (Acts 15).

While the now-Biblical writings do not derive their inspiration from the Roman Church but from God, please spend some time thinking about how actual flesh-and-blood men had to sit down and actually DECIDE which books would be in the Bible. They were not originally one collection but many letters and books. They were not delivered by a stork as a collection but were read in the early churches along with other letters (e.g., the epistles of Pope Clement).

Lastly, please spend some time thinking about how the “Apocryphal” books just slipped out of the Protestant Bible over time (see F.F. Bruce’s book The Canon of Scripture). They were in Protestant Bibles, though Luther relegated them to an appendix (by what authority, no one knows). If the books of the Bible are self-authenticating, how is it that Luther’s Bible and the original King James Bible and other early Protestant Bibles did not contain the same books as your modern Protestant Bible?

Best wishes,

Logan

Jae said...

@ JJ, you are absolutely right, any written document including the Bible can not make a decision and thus pass a judgment of who got it right or wrong.

When talking to protestants about this they just simply ignore or insist they got it right, funny they didn't realize by doing so they are making their own pope and tradition put together which they abhor the Catholic Church for. sad.

Peace

SemperJase said...

The concluding sentence seems to claim that the canon recognizes which assemblage can be called the church.

That is exactly backwards. The Church came to recognize the canon, not the other way around.

Godismyjudge said...

John Thayer Jensen,

In a way, this is right. The question is, who does this recognising.

I do. You do. She over there does.

The Catholic answer is that the Church does.

The Church is a collection of individuals.

And that when there is disagreement amongst members of the Church, it is, ultimately, the Church in union with the Pope that recognises God's Word.

If the Pope is saying “thus sayeth the Lord”, how do you as an individual know he is right, if you cannot recognize God’s word?

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

Eliots4quartets,

do you really think we know that each book is canonical because of its theological excellence? Do you really want to maintain that we know theology a priori? I thought we read God’s word to find out what excellent theology is. Isn’t that the whole point of revelation—to give us knowledge that we could not otherwise gain from, say, a study of nature? If we already know excellent theology, what is the Bible for?

Theological excellence wasn’t’ the only criteria I cited, but every book of the bible is theologically excellent. No, we don’t know theology a priori, but we do learn some theology through nature and the scriptures harmonizes with and expands upon what we learn from natural theology.

No, just because “we” (by which you seem to mean “us Christians” or something like that) cannot deduce the canon from criteria of our own making, it does not follow that no fellow Christians in history could have the authority to determine the canon.

Please see my comments to JJ.

But the LIST of books is not self-authenticating.

The list is not, the books themselves are.

spend some time thinking about how actual flesh-and-blood men had to sit down and actually DECIDE which books would be in the Bible.

My understanding of Catholic dogma (and correct me if I am wrong) is that the judgments of councils are infallible even the reasoning process in coming up with that judgment was wrong. So why are you asking me to think about their decision? Shouldn’t you be asking me to accept RCC doctrine a priori?

God be with you,
Dan

Godismyjudge said...

SemperJase,

The Church came to recognize the canon, not the other way around.

This seems to imply someone can reject the truths in the bible and still be a part of the church? What if everyone did? Would there still be a church at all?

God be with you,
Dan

John Thayer Jensen said...

@eliots4quartets said:

But the LIST of books is not self-authenticating.

And @godismyjudge responded:

The list is not, the books themselves are.

This seems to me to lead to a radical individualism, almost solipsism. How is this different from the Mormon's claim that the Book of Mormon is self-authenticating - 'burning in the bosom' canonology?

jj

Binx said...

I am reasonably sure that godismyjudge is not Brian Leiter.