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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

OK, two more things: (And Anne Katherine Robinson, you may officially stop reading until the second "thing," because this is about pop music, though the self-depracation and witticism may be worth it. Your choice.) I woke up with a song in my head: "Isn't She Lovely" by Mr. Stevie Wonder. Which was weird, because I have an absolute certainty that I am not father to a daughter. Still, a lovely song it is. And the second song that popped in was "I Can't Sleep Baby (If I)" by R. Kelly. It was a huge hit when I was a teenager. And Mr. Kelly is sadly better known for his legal troubles, and the fact that 87.8% of his songs are about sex. Not relationships, as you may be thinking. Yet this disarmingly simple song is one of those that makes you say, "He sang the #@&! out of that one." It's just criminal how good a voice he has, and he's wasting it, and his life, at least by appearances, in pleasure. He wrote and sang the annoying but memorable "I Believe I Can Fly" for the movie "Space Jam," and I listened to "The World's Greatest" a couple times yesterday. It's a thinly veiled ode to Muhammad Ali, as the video would indicate, which means I'm a fan. :) [You always have smooth-singing black dudes in your head.--ed.] True. It's one of those secular "hymns" that doesn't make any sense, but it's oddly uplifting.

[Oddly Pro-Catholic Insight On Authority and Succession] In the absence of an hermeneutic from scripture alone that gives one distinct, discernable body of body of truth by which traditions can be judged, the fairest thing to do is admit the historical and theological evidence on its own merits. Remember, it was the Reformers who claimed that scripture supported their position(s). If humility demands that we on the Protestant side listen to each others' traditions to avoid reckless overemphasis, it surely demands that same humility to say that rejecting particular Catholic doctrines or authority is not quite so simple as we pretend. Scripture cannot serve as a critique of anything if the precise content of the corrective is not established.

Monday, September 27, 2010

I published some snark in the general direction of Baptists in my "Historic Church Documents" post/rant, whereupon it was contested quite ably and respectfully by J. Patrick Smith, a cousin of "Tbone," which makes him a friend of the blog covenantally speaking :) as any good paedobaptist would do. We'll see if he wants to make the association his own later on. :) In any case, I thought his illustration in the comments was a good one, and framed it in a new way for me. But this provides a delightful segue into another problem introduced by the comment: the appeal to Sola Scriptura. Given the fact that A) both (Protestant) paedobaptists and credobaptists affirm Sola Scriptura (and its necessary corollaries of inspiration and infalliability/inerrancy, and B) both have Scriptural justification for their positions, tell me, who is right? Forget baptism; pick anything you want. Same problem: No obvious means for settling disputes, and no path for eventual visible reunion in the joyous event such disagreements are resolved. Still waiting on Keith Mathison's response in writing to this. On the other hand, I don't know why I should accept the Catholic hierarchy and doctrines as God's appointed answer to the thorny problems. Though admittedly, it is a very alluring answer. No, the worst part of Sola Scriptura is that I could assume complete benevolence on the part of everyone involved in the process (not a good idea anyway) and we would still seemingly be unable to maintain real (read: visible) ecclesial unity, or know when we had come upon the most significant doctrines, contrasted with the less significant. We may share many or most in common if we made a list. But we may well differ. Then what? [Baptism Side-Rant: For instance, I no longer contest the idea that Christian Trinitarian baptism forgives sins. Luther, Calvin, and the Catholic Church all agree, shockingly enough. [People leaving] Yeah, well, read the Bible. You may object that this makes salvation's gate guarded by a thing that can (and often is, many say) be divorced from Christ who saved us. And my only answer is a question: Why are you so opposed to God mediating his own grace and love through material things that you turn the extraordinary acontextual mercy of God into the normative? In practical experience, the people most opposed to so-called "baptismal regeneration" are those who have refused baptism for some dumb reason or other. In short, if you believe Jesus is the Son of God who saves you from your sins by his atoning death and resurrection, just do it. You don't have to understand how it works.] We're often in the business of agreeing on "the essentials" without saying what those essentials are. This is also why "creedal minimalism" fails; Catholics, Orthodox, and Protestants mean very different things when confessing the creeds re: the Church, so it can't unify us (completely) unless somebody bends.