Otto Weber and John Calvin on Roman Hubris (and me on Evangelical Insolence)

According to the Roman Catholic view, Jesus is the Lord in the Church and through the Church, but not over the Church in the sense that he alone defines the word of the Church through the apostolic witness and makes this word secondary to that witness.

Otto Weber, Foundation of Dogmatics, vol. 1, p. 40

It is easy to simplify things and state that all the differences between Rome and Christianity come down to authority. Nevertheless, all differences must at the very least start there. Until this issue is resolved, there can be no meaningful rapprochement with Rome.  Rome says that what the Church says about the Apostolic witness is more important than the witness itself. Jesus may help and guide the Church in her dogmatic decrees, but her decrees always take precedence over whatever Jesus or the apostles have decreed.

This should not be taken as an assertion that Protestants have it all together. We may have a better creed, but for many it is little more than that: “I believe,” but not “I do.” Sola Scriptura and Regula Fidei are nice slogans to sling around, but they have little bearing on how we relate to God, society, or one another. The arrogance of Roman autonomy is little better than Evangelical insolence.

 …in mysteries of the faith common sense is not our adviser, but with quiet teachableness and the spirit of gentleness (which James commends) we receive the doctrine given from heaven.

John Calvin, Institutes, 4.17.25

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The Presbyterian & Reformed on Creation: Slouching toward Evolution

I am neither Presbyterian nor Reformed, but I continue to gain much and have much of my thinking shaped by those who are. But there is a current of thinking swelling up that I hope to fall into. Certain people with a platform continue to dismiss the historical reliability of Genesis 1-11. They continue to question the Church’s traditional, literal, young-earth, interpretation. As this post links too, William B. Evans is another who has laid his cards on the table. Men like Evans make intellectual appeal to science and ancient literature and tell us that our interpretation must take these things into account.

Carlton Wynne eviscerates such thinking:

The need of the hour, it seems to me, whether we are discussing the relative merits of competing creation views, confessional subscription and interpretation, or any other related issue, is to state as clearly and as boldly as we can that the authoritative nexus of meaning–the divinely sanctioned access point for the meaning of a biblical text–lies within the canon of Scripture itself and not in reference to anything extra-biblical, especially apparent similarities with ANE literature. This is an indispensable corollary to Scripture’s authority and sufficiency that we lose to our epistemological and hermeneutical peril. On a related note, however informative ANE literature may be for studying isolated texts, we cannot allow it to norm our reading of Scripture nor determine what Scripture, as a whole, is. The book of Hebrews alone, with the scant authorial and extra-biblical contextual evidence available to us today, ought to check our dependence on background studies for interpreting the Scriptures and lead us to read it, and every other biblical text, ultimately in light of its canonical perspective and place in the unfolding organism of special revelation.

The denial of the plain meaning of Genesis 1-11, the denial of the Church’s historical understanding of Genesis 1-11, is a denial of sola Scriptura. I am not sure how Wickipedia can understand sola Scriptura- “Sola scriptura is the teaching that the Bible is the only inspired and authoritative word of God, is the only source for Christian doctrine, and is accessible to all—that is, it is perspicuous and self-interpreting“- and men like Meredith Kline, Bruce Waltke, Tremper Longman, and William B. Evans cannot. Is the Bible able to stand on its own? Can the Bible offer its own authoritative interpretation? That is the question here.

Evans and his cohorts say Moses was only using faulty ancient tradition. Evans and his cohorts say the Westminster divines were relying on faulty science. I heard the exact same thing in 2009 when I was involved in a reading group of Calvin’s Institutes: passages in which Calvin clearly demonstrated a belief in a young-earth, 6-day creation, were acknowledged with the comment that Calvin was only depending on the science of his day. Apparently Moses was proficient enough to write Scripture, but not truth. Apparently Calvin was discerning enough to see errors in Rome, but not the “science of his day.” The Westminster Assembly was able enough to set creedal standards that guided a denomination for 350 years, but not able to know what they were really talking about.

So the problem with Moses, Calvin, the Westminster Assembly et al. was that they all were held captive to the thinking of their day. None of them were able to penetrate the fog of their own age’s ignorance. They were all slaves to the thought of their contemporaries. Am I the only one on whom this irony is not lost? Evans charges the ancients with communal ignorance as he embraces the wisdom of this world.

Zeitgeist is not all it is cracked up to be.