Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Theology Fail: Seriously, I love Doug Wilson. He is always interesting, his worldview is outstanding, and he's one of the reasons (Ahem. Rich Lusk, Jeff Meyers, N.T. Wright, "Captain Jack," et al.) that I was proud to be Reformed. But he needs to give the matters raised more thought. It was actually reading Trent (and not just the canons, you bums) that caused me to see what the anti-FVers are so on about. Being Catholic is first and foremost an ecclesial decision, not a doctrinal one, so I respect Wilson and others in their desire to remain separate from the Catholic Church. But the anti-FV position understands what the FV position does not, apparently: The traditional formulations of doctrine for Protestants are what the Reformation was actually about. If you question those, you are by definition questioning the wisdom of the separation itself. [By the way, you didn't read the whole thing, either.--ed.] Yes, but I did read Sessions V, VI, and VII, which are directly pertinent to the Protestant question. [Fair enough.--ed.]
From the other side, you could simply ask, "How can you prove your confessional distinctives?" And, "What is schism?"
But seeing the Council through Catholic eyes, there are only 3 possible responses after its promulgation, (presuming it is understood, which is iffy sometimes, unfortunately): 1) submission, 2) "This Council is not a true council and is not binding" (a simple mistake remedied by investigation) or, 3) "I don't care what the Council says" which is schism.
The problem with Protestantism is that it doesn't tell a coherent story of how we got to be where we are, and it doesn't give you a principled means for determining heresy and schism. The very existence of the Protestant communions was a statement that the Catholic Church had lost an authority that it previously possessed. The fact that at least some of the Reformers would return, given moral reforms isn't negated by the fact that the statement itself is false. But we're so far from that reality that we don't remember it. Trueman calls it "historical amnesia" and he's right.
And that means that we, as Protestants, constructed a whole story of history that is no different than the same story told by heretics ancient and modern. The fact that most Protestants are inconsistent, and live godly, holy lives doesn't alter the falsehood of the story. Mathison sees the heresy and the pride at the extremes, but he doesn't allow the elements of truth in his own practice and faith to re-open the historical question itself!
What we're saying here is that the Federal Visionists are largely right; where they err is in failing to realize the ecclesiological implications of what they've learned. Creedal Christianity either is, or becomes, Catholic Christianity, by the nature of the thing. Retaining the power to "edit" them, is, in the end, to abandon them. You cannot truly submit to the Word of God written unless you are in the community to whom it belongs. Therefore, the question(s) for every single assembly of Christians on this earth is, "Do we have the authority to interpret the Bible?" And, "What is our relation to everyone else who claims the same thing?" Assumption: That true community must be visible. And those relations must be visible. A church of the mind is as useful as the pride of individualism and individual interpretation which gave it rise.

1 comment:

Timothy R. Butler said...

Rats! My reply was lost. I'll have to try again later... Blogger doesn't like me sometimes...