Friday, December 11, 2009

Before we get to the list, let me say that I think Steve Wilkins is really on to something with his version of the Federal Vision, as are most of its advocates. I recall reading a moving description of what worship is like at Auburn Avenue Pres. by my friend John Armstrong of ACT 3 several years ago, and thinking, "Wow, I want to worship there, and meet those people." When a friend of mine in a seminary class we shared defended Wilkins and the other FV advocates quite passionately, I decided to go to Auburn Avenue's website to find out what this was all about. I read the summary statement by its advocates--and Wilkins was one of the signatories--sensing nothing obviously amiss at the time, with respect to Reformed theology as I had lived it, and as one being trained in it to the present day. Many of these men have written or spoken truth into my daily life, helping me to see the act of submission to the Church (and to her life) as one and the same act as submitting to Christ Himself. Further, I found the "I Support Steve Wilkins!" group on Facebook, and began reading the charges against him, as well as a good bunch of his answers to specific questions put to him by his presbytery. I could see no glaring inconsistencies in his answers with respect to the most relevant texts, the warning passages in Hebrews. It may well bring out inherent tensions in Reformed theology in terms of understanding how the biblical texts square with traditional Reformed formulations of salvation, grace, and security, but that's not his fault, nor anyone else's. What the Reformed must decide is whether we/they really believe in "always reforming," and if there can be some objective criteria for determining what Reformed theology is and will be. And with that:

5 Semi-Snarky, Hopefully Useful Comments About Steve Wilkins's Mary Post (and the comments)

5. I think the Protestants and Catholics are talking past each other a bit. The Catholic says that he doesn't necessarily need blatant scriptural warrant for every doctrine in its full flower; the Protestant sees only accretions when those Catholic doctrines are fully articulated, because Tradition is not a valid source of proof.

4. By what means does one judge Catholic distinctives here as unscriptural? How many people are required before my exegesis passes from unreasonable subjectivism to acceptable interpretation? What if I don't read Mark 3 the same way?

3. Whether one judges especially liturgical or devotional practices to be biblical may depend on the use of typology. That is, one's hermeneutic may allow for scores of practices to be biblical that others may view as an appeal to tradition. I attended Dr. Feingold's lecture on the Fathers with respect to Mary as the new Eve, and it was fantastic. I can at least say that I can see why Catholics view Mariology as part of Christology. And Scotus definitely deals with the most pressing problem in a coherent way.

2. Presumptuous of us to assume that any of us are part of the Church, properly speaking, because in this case, the marks of the Church are precisely what is at issue. The Catholic claim is that Protestantism fails on at least 2 of the 4 traditional marks: “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.” Namely, “one” and “apostolic”. Personally, I can’t give myself a good explanation for why ordination is not a sacrament in the non-Catholic world. Even using our own definition, something like, “A sacrament is a holy ordinance instituted by Christ, as a sign and seal of His benefits,” (WCF paraphrase) it’s really hard to see how you come out with only 2. It should be blindingly obvious that the church of the first 5 centuries did not view succession from the apostles as incidental to the preservation of orthodoxy. Thus, it strongly occurs to me that we need a powerful reason to deny ordination as a sacrament, and to deny that succession.

1. I have yet to see how Sola Scriptura as a principle issues forth in anything but subjectivism. The only way around this is to affirm an invisible church with visible manifestations that have no coherent relation to each other. I’ll let Mathison make his case, but that’s a tough one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

5 Thoughts After Reading the First 83 Pages of Mathison's "The Shape of Sola Scriptura"

5. To "win" this argument, you must prove 2 things re: Tradition; first, that the Roman Catholic use of it is not substantially of the first type, and second, that any instances of the second must be accretions.

4. I definitely want to hear more about the rebellious Franciscans who defined papal infalliability...while disobeying the pope.

3. As I understand it, finding an instance of a church leader who denied a currently defined dogma of the Catholic Church doesn't prove anything; it may have legitimately developed later, or been so defined after that person lived. (Or, of course, they were in error)

2. If you happen to win the Tradition argument, Keith, you also have to prove that your ecclesial community is part of the Church within which the Scriptures may be rightly interpreted. Boy, these Catholic apologists are clever, aren't they?

1. This is a hugely important book that, I can already tell, will be read and discussed for generations.

Monday, December 07, 2009

5 Random, Disconnected Thoughts for Today

5. The English usage of the word "ambulance" is more than a bit unclear, given the origin of the root.

4. Maybe Brett Favre can't win road games anymore.

3. "I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that this Coke is refreshing and delicious...but after nine years, you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss." No, actually Coca-Cola is fantastic.

2. I don't actually like a good beer buzz early in the morning, but you're right, Sheryl: Peeling the labels off anything is irresistible.

1. Happy Birthday, Allison Starr Meek.