Protestant Pastor Aeternus?

A corner of the Christian blogosphere has recently been convulsed by the subject of resolutions. The resolutions in question are an Ohio Bible Fellowship statement against the peril of reading New Evangelical authors (Remonstrants and subsequent posts), and a proposed Southern Baptist Convention resolution regarding the disciplined maintenance of church membership roles (Founders and Immoderate). Many questions have been raised, and some answers offered. One question I have not seen is, “Why does a group that holds to the authority of Scripture alone for matters of faith and practice need such statements?”

In the case of the OBF resolution, I wonder why not just quote verses like Philippians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 10:5, and, as apparently deemed necessary, 2 Thess. 3:6; Romans 16:17 etc.?

In the case of the SBC resolution, I wonder why not simply quote Heb. 10:24-27; 1 Cor. 5; Matt. 18:15-17 etc.? Or, in the case of the ill-fated resolution on home schooling a couple years ago, why not simply proclaim Deuteronomy 6?

Either the Bible is sufficient, or the Orthodox and Romanists are correct: we need tradition too. Resolutions along these lines sound like that frazzled parent begging/pleading/scolding his child, “I’m going to count to three…this time I really mean it!” Or, perhaps worse yet, the constantly rebellious child who promises, “This time I’ll obey… I really mean it.” If the problems in the OBF and SBC a so severe that such resolutions are needed, what causes anyone to believe the words of man will be of any influence if the clear statements of Scripture have proven impotent?

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7 thoughts on “Protestant Pastor Aeternus?

  1. Either the Bible is sufficient, or the Orthodox and Romanists are correct: we need tradition too.

    I am not sure it’s either/or. Everybody says they believe the Bible. This why creeds, confessions, covenants, and, sometimes (done rightly), even resolutions are good and necessary. You could just as easily ask, “why didn’t the church of the 4th century, instead of citing the Nicene creed, just quote John 1:1 (et al)?”

    I am not arguing whether or not the SBC or OBF needed resolutions in these instances, or even that they are good resolutions. I think extra-Biblical statements, including resolutions, are perfectly warranted by the people of God.

  2. This is true. Obviously the Word needs to be exegeted, exposited and proclaimed. But you have to admit there is a difference between the historic creeds and the contemporary resolutions. The creeds were by and large statements clarifying belief.

    These resolutions, and others like them, seem to be saying, “We know what the Bible says, but now we really want to obey it.” Given their nature and lack of authority they just seem to be full of sound and fury signifying nothing. Is the OBF going to start searching houses for banned books? Is the SBC going to establish a Committee of Membership to purge the roles?

  3. The OBF resolution is bad.

    The SBC is hosed. This is a group of men trying to get things back to the way they were in historic Baptist life. Whether or not a resolution is the best way to do that or not, I am not sure. I can at least applaud their efforts.

  4. The SBC is hosed

    Not sure if you mean the rsolution or the convention. I would definitely agree if you are speaking of the resolution. (I’d have to give thought to the denomination.) While living in Greenville for three years I served in a SBC church with a “Founders-friendly” pastor. He mentioned to the deacons doining the very thing the resolution suggested. He might as well have suggested using the Koran instead of the Bible.

    The SBC definitely has issues, but I too am thankful for the efforts of some to chart a biblical course.

  5. I’m confused. You say both “Either the Bible is sufficient, or the Orthodox and Romanists are correct: we need tradition too” and “the clear statements of Scripture have proven impotent.” The latter statement is in an “if” clause, but in the context, you seem to accept it.

    But if “the clear statements of Scripture have proven impotent,” does not that make them necessarily insufficient? And if the Bible is insufficient, then by your own admission, does not that mean that “the Orthodox and Romanists are correct”?

    It seems to me like you need to either reject your own argument or adopt one of the following positions:

    1. The clear statements of Scripture have not proven impotent, despite the evidence to the contrary that this post is based on.
    2. The clear statements of Scripture have indeed proven impotent, but that does not make them any less sufficient.
    3. Christians need tradition, and I am ready to join “the Orthodox and Romanists” (or, perhaps, one of the two).

    The first two options seem to involve big inconsistencies, but you don’t seem to be taking option 3. What gives?

    Also, what’s up with calling them “Romanists”? If you want to disparage them, why not just go all out and call them “Papists”? And if you don’t want to disparage them, why not stick with the normal term “Catholics”?

  6. Andrew,

    Thank you for replying to a rather old post. I do not have a lot of posts covering the same subject matter, so that lack of context probably contributes to some of the confusion you mention.

    May I work backwards in your reply?

    I agree, Papists might be a clearer term than Romanists. I try not to refer to members of the Church of Rome as Catholic for the same reason I try not to refer to the Church as the Roman Catholic church: because I believe in one, holy, apostolic, catholic Church. The difference between catholic and Catholic is not recognized by many lay Protestants and since I do not believe the Roman church is catholic, to avoid confusion, I do not refer to is as Catholic, But that just opened up a whole new can of worms, did it not?

    As for your three positions I would say you have read the post pretty well. Not to be coy, but as has been said, “When you have eliminated all the impossible solutions, the only one left must be right. However improbable it may seem.”

    If the maxim is true that every heretic has his text, where is the battle to be won? In the statements of Scripture? Or in their right interpretation?

    I actually think you have a pretty good handle on what I was trying to say in this post. In the latest Christianity Today, Kallistos Ware is interviewed and states, “Tradition is not a second source alongside Scripture; clearly normative for us Orthodox us Scripture as interpreted by the seven ecumenical councils. But tradition lives on.” I think Protestants fundamentally have the same position- they just replace the councils with conventions. It might be helpful if they would admit this.

    Hope that helps.

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