Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Gospel According to St Jon

A few posts back, I had an article describing some bombastic and triumphalistic statements that the more ardent admirers of Holy Mother Church make in their ecstatic excitement for all things Rome. It was a somewhat tedious article, merely documenting the evidence- and argument-free sweeping assertions that that particular sampling of internet Roman Catholics made.

Before proceeding further, let's try to clarify. There is nothing wrong with making assertions without arguments and evidence. But if one is attempting to argue one's position against somebody not holding that position, then there is a certain obligation to try to provide some sort of argumentation and such. If I'm dealing with a Romanist, it is pointless for me to make some sweeping claim about the Magisterium that assumes or implies my conclusion without giving some sort of proper argumentation. Similarly, a Romanist who is trying to extol the glory and superiority of Holy Mother Church needs to be judicious in not assuming his point.

In an open forum at Mr David Armstrong's blog dated 12 August, I'll present what will probably be the final example of the Roman triumphalism and name-it-claim-it method.

We have two posts by a poster named "Jon." These are near the end of the combox, btw.
Jon is speaking to a poster named Ken Temple, and a discussion is ensuing there. Jon's first post, cut-n-pasted directly from the combox goes as follows.

Before you get out the pom-poms, Ken, lemme just say that fundamentally, Catholics DO believe that the Gospels' one mission is to prove Jesus was the Christ, while Prots do not. Lemme explain: Catholics don't believe that the Gospels are 'final' revelations about Christ, His mother, the Trinity, the role of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Church, etc. All of those things can be defined EX-evangelium, so long as they do not contradict the evangelium, but those concepts are not necessarily going to be found INTACT in Matt, Mark, Luke or John. Why? Because John said so in chp20:31. Clear, Ken? WE UNDERSTAND what John was talking about in chap21:25—you CAN'T contain everything about Jesus in 4 short books, these 4 short books are merely here to convince you Jesus is the Messaiah. Prots, however, because of their Sola Scriptura nonsense, HAVE to fit their (borrowed) dogmas about the role of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Trinity, the nature of the church, etc. FROM the existing text(s), something impossible to do (which is why they borrowed the ideas they liked in the first place, eschewing the rest). So, fundamentally, even if they SAY they stick to the text and text alone, they don't and can't, as SOOOOOO much of what they believe and practice isn't in the Gospels BECAUSE THE GOSPELS WEREN'T WRITTEN TO GIVE US EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE KNOWN: Sola Fide and Scriptura (and here we go again) for instance—NO WHERE in Matt, NO WHERE in Mark, NO WHERE in Luke, NO WHERE in John. How can this be, Ken? And how can you believe these tenets if, as BenYachov, says above, they can't be proven by their own standards? THAT is the sad state of affairs in our separated borthers' camp(S).

Pulling the cord a few times to start the motor on my Super Mark V Exegete-O-Matic 4000, let's try to unpack at least some of the propositional content of this post.
According to Jon:

(1) Catholics believe that the gospels had but one mission, while Protestants do not. This mission is to prove that Jesus is the Christ.

By way of reply:

(a) Does Jon's copy of the gospels omit Luke 1:1-4? There, St Luke tells Theophilus that he [Luke] has carefully investigated everything and written an orderly account so that Theophilus may know the certainty of the things he has been taught. So Jon's claim is incorrect here if we let Luke speak for himself.

(b) No argument or evidence is given for his claim concerning how Protestants view the gospels. Is he talking about liberal Protestants? Conservative Protestants? Pedantic Protestants?

(2) The doctrines involving Christ, Mary, the Trinity, the role of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Church, etc. can be "defined" outside the gospels, so long as they do not contradict the gospels, but those concepts are not necessarily going to be found "INTACT" in Matt, Mark, Luke or John. John 20:31 supports this contention.

In response:

(a) Jon provides no evidence that representatives of conservative Protestantism hold that the above doctrines are found "intact" in the gospels. I'm taking "intact" to mean "completely stated in the fullest possible form" here.

(b) Here's the text of John 20:30-31: [30] Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. [31] But these are written that you may [or may continue to] believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

The reader will note that in the local context John is not making reference to doctrines, but merely to the miraculous signs of Jesus. The point is that Jesus did more miracles than were recorded, but those that were recorded were done so for the purpose of belief. Wherever is Jon getting the idea that this text supports his claim?

(c) What representatives of Protestantism consider the four gospels as the entire set of texts from whence our systematic theology comes? Let's go to the shelf: Lutheran dogmatics? Nope, it uses the entire NT. What about Grudem's thick and wonderful systematics book? Nope, he uses the entire NT too. What about the Reformed dogmatics? Nope, the entire NT is used.

Jon is like a guy who yells out a challenge to the flying pink elephants he believes are within earshot, and when none appear before him, he concludes that the flying pink elephants must have been scared off by his challenge and declares victory.

(3) Jon claims:
Prots, however, because of their Sola Scriptura nonsense, HAVE to fit their (borrowed) dogmas about the role of the Holy Spirit, the nature of the Trinity, the nature of the church, etc. FROM the existing text(s), something impossible to do (which is why they borrowed the ideas they liked in the first place, eschewing the rest).

We say in turn:

(a) Jon seems to be saying that because of sola scriptura, we have to get our doctrines and such from the existing texts.

And this entails what sort of profundity?

(b) Obtaining doctrines and such from the existing texts --- by this he seems to be referring to the NT --- is impossible to do.

Actually, it isn't impossible, but rather quite possible. I have multiple dogmatics volumes that do this seemingly impossible deed.

This silly claim of Jon's rather undercuts Jon's private appeal to scripture to bolster his points, for, by his standards, it is impossible to obtain doctrines from the existing texts. Jon can kiss Mt 16 goodbye then. Kiss goodbye to the favorite papal prooftext. Smooch smooch smooch!

(c) No instantiations of just what ideas Protestants liked and "borrowed" are given. Big claim. No evidence. No argumentation.

(4) Even if Protestants SAY they stick to the text and text alone, they don't and can't, as "SOOOOOO much of what they believe and practice isn't in the Gospels BECAUSE THE GOSPELS WEREN'T WRITTEN TO GIVE US EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE KNOWN: Sola Fide and Scriptura (and here we go again) for instance—NO WHERE in Matt, NO WHERE in Mark, NO WHERE in Luke, NO WHERE in John."

Note: I was on the fence regarding this part, but all of those extra O's in the word "SO" and the rampant upper-casing of letters pushed me over the edge to see that Jon is right.

Actually, getting serious once again, in turn we say:

(a) Jon gives no examples as to exactly where Protestants "don't" stick to the scriptural texts or "can't" stick to the scriptural texts.

Jon apparently thinks this point is buttressed by his previous gratuitous claims, but those claims too were evidence- and argumentation-free.

(b) Jon makes hay about the fact that the gospels weren't written to give us everything that could be known. Again, Jon cites no representative Protestants or confessions or documents to support the implied point that Protestants do in fact believe that the gospels were written to give us everything that could be known.

(c) Jon claims that sola fide and sola scriptura are not found in the gospels. Jon again, in his evidence-free manner, adduces no mainstream conservative Protestants who contend that the locus of the aforementioned solas is the set of gospel texts.

So the points of Jon's posts are either wrong, or are completely unsupported. A triumphalist tone is once again given in lieu of some attempt at backing up one's claims. How can this be, Jon?

***************

Jon later saw fit in the same combox to share more of his wisdom with the world. Immediately after the post cited above, he wrote:

Just so we're clear: The REASON Prots do not believe that the Gospels' ONE mission is to show Jesus is the Christ is because they think that the Gospels have to show us Jesus was the Christ PLUS everything else in Christianity. Which is why they'll never find the Trinity OR the role of God's wife Mary in the Gospels.

We reply:

(1) The actual reason Bible-literate Prots do not believe that the one sole mission of the gospels is to show that Jesus is the Christ is because Bible-literate Prots, by virtue of being Bible-literate, are literate, which means they can read, say, Luke's prologue, as given above, to see that St Luke's clearly stated purpose was to help Theophilus know the certainty of the things he had been taught.

(2) Does providing evidence for one's sweeping claims add to the duration of one's purgatorial tenure? You'd think so if Jon happened to be your exemplar. Once again, no actual important or mainstream conservative Protestants thinking that "everything else in Christianity" [apart from Christ] must be found in the gospels.

(3) When I look through, say, St John, I find a healthy number of the building blocks of the Trinity.

(a) John 1:1 and 20:28 are clear affirmations of the full deity of Christ. Depending on how one views the text-critical data, John 1:18 also refers to the pre-incarnate Christ as God-begotten. Jesus predicates a property to Himself that only Yahweh can have in John 8:58. So the full deity of Christ is on display.

(b) Christ defers to the Father multiple times in John, which, given Christ's deity, would seem to safely imply the full deity of the Father too.

(c) The Father, Son, and Spirit are all distinguished in John, presented as working on their own ends of the economy of redemption. Yet the oneness of God is upheld.

I thought that RC's such as Jon, having an infallible arbiter and all, would actually be able to read a Biblical text, something that even we benighted Protestants are rumored to do at times.

False statements. No argumentation. No evidence. I don't think that Jon has an inkling of what he speaks in the cited posts. But that's just me.

2 Comments:

Blogger GeneMBridges said...

You forgot:

God's wife Mary

Jon makes God out to be a Mormon...that speaks for itself.

Friday, August 19, 2005 9:42:00 PM  
Blogger Pedantic Protestant said...

I'd imagine the "God's wife" tag could mean just about anything that is thoroughly unbiblical. I didn't comment on that portion because I wasn't sure what he meant.

Saturday, August 20, 2005 6:04:00 AM  

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