Thursday, August 26, 2010

Today was my first day back at seminary. It's a conservative evangelical seminary of some repute, committed to the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (with no real gripe against other confessionally Reformed documents). I doubt anyone can see my own doubts about Reformed Theology or Protestantism in general. [Well, now they know, idiot.--ed.] Yeah, well. I'm jazzed about my professor for Psalms and Wisdom Literature; I was mad that his Wikipedia entry is threatened with deletion for lack of notability. He's "BA" as my brother would say. I've made friends with some prospective Catholic priests, and their laments about modernism overtaking some of their teachers sadden me. I know if not for that thorny problem of visible communion with the Catholic Church, they would be ridiculously blessed by him, as we are. I don't know whether to root for this or not; obviously, if I did, I would place myself in communion with the successor of Peter. That may well come, but Rome must show the legitimacy of her claims until I cannot do otherwise. Perhaps they understand this, but I fear that many do not. If the Catholic Church is correct in all that she claims, all Christians everywhere must return to her, insofar as we know and understand those claims. That remains highly offensive, but it cannot be ignored. Let me say that again: it cannot be ignored. If we as Christians take another position on some matter of faith, it seems to me it must be principled. And exactly at the point where we tend to make our stand, Scripture and hermeneutics, this is the point where it makes the least sense. We've not bothered to deal with Protestant variance in scriptural interpretation (with some major soteriological implications we just gloss over) though the method(s) and source are the same, nor have we defined what makes a Christian a Christian, though we all seem to know. I can see with the eyes of faith that all who love Christ truly are connected. I know that it crosses boundaries even as significant as justification. I am open to the possibility that I had it right all along, but if so, we MUST solve the issue of subjectivity in the individual interpretation of Scripture. We absolutely cannot simply appeal to the Holy Spirit in each of us, because it does not prevent even the most careful interpreters from 1) significant disagreement; and 2) the possibility of making oneself the ultimate arbiter of truth. A "burning within my bosom" could tell me anything, and who could objectively challenge my deeply held opinion? God in his grace often sees fit to utterly ruin the plans of those who "make it up as they go along," but this isn't always so, as the many wolves in sheep's clothing show us. I recall a post (ah, here it is) from Peter Leithart (yes, Peter Leithart) mentioning disapprovingly an "invisible church" ecclesiology, and what jars me about it is, our half-arsed one-paragraph answers for the Reformation seem to utterly depend on such an ecclesiology! Read the WCF lately? Supposing just for the moment that something of God's people is living outside the Reformed faith, (shocking, I know) what is this "true" religion? In which doctrines exactly does it consist? When do you go from "mixture and error" to "synagogue of Satan?" I'm betting, quite frankly, that the number one synagogue of Satan in their view was Rome, but then again, they don't say. My favorite questions I want to ask, one I asked to my noble friend John H. Armstrong: "Do you stand by your remarks at the end of your book, 'Understanding Roman Catholicism' to the effect that saved Catholics are thus in spite of their church, not because of it?" He truthfully and courageously said, "I don't know" at that time. To Leithart, and not as an accusation: "Why aren't you Catholic?" It would be, I'll bet you, one of the most interesting conversations I've ever had. He's clearly done more than sample the Church Fathers, as I have so far. But obviously, he hasn't swum the Tiber. Don't you want to hear what he says? Still waiting on Keith Mathison's promised response to the provocateurs at CTC. Bryan Cross, this is free advertising. Feel free to send money to...just kidding. I'm open to the idea that they are being unfair. But in my universe, they are simply raising questions that I must answer.

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