Saturday, December 26, 2009

Daniel Wallace on Justification

Daniel Wallace wrote an insightful response to N. T. Wright's view of justification a while ago, which you can read here. I found the brief commentary on the first several chapters of Romans to be especially helpful.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wisdom from Augustine

I find it to be sometimes beneficial to read the writers of the early church to verify the truism that “there is nothing new under the sun.” How much modern wisdom has been built on the shoulders of giants? I believe that among the post-apostolic writers, Augustine best exemplifies this. Consider his high view of Scripture. He truly believed Scripture is our inspired, supremely authoritative, perspicuous, sufficient, and infallible rule of faith. Many today – professing Christians – would have one believe that Scripture is unable to been discerned or understood, that its authority is subordinate, and that it’s doctrinally insufficient or even fallible. Some wisdom from Saint Augustinealways puts me in a good mood any time I hear such postmodern cynicism, and maybe it will help you too:

“…it is not so much I myself as the inspired Scripture which has spoken to you, in the clearest testimonies of truth…” (On Grace and Free Will, Chapter 41)

“Let them show their church if they can, not by the speeches and mumblings of the Africans, not by the councils of their bishops, not by the writings of any of their champions, not by fraudulent signs and wonders, because we have been prepared and made cautious also against these things by the Word of the Lord; but [let them show their church] by a command of the Law, by the predictions of the prophets, by songs from the Psalms, by the words of the Shepherd Himself, by the preaching and labors of the evangelists; that is, by all the canonical authorities of the sacred books.” (On the Unity of the Church, 16)

“Whatever they may adduce, and wherever they may quote from, let us rather, if we are His sheep, hear the voice of our Shepherd. Therefore let us search for the church in the sacred canonical Scriptures.” (On the Unity of the Church, 3)

“Neither dare one agree with catholic bishops if by chance they err in anything, but the result that their opinion is against the canonical Scriptures of God.” (On the Unity of the Church, 10)

“For among the things that are plainly laid down in Scripture are to be found all matters that concern faith and the manner of life.” (On Christian Doctrine, II, 9)

“…whenever a question arises on an unusually obscure subject, on which no assistance can be rendered by clear and certain proofs of the Holy Scriptures, the presumption of man ought to restrain itself; nor should it attempt anything definite by leaning to either side. But if I must indeed be ignorant concerning any points of this sort, as to how they can be explained and proved, this much I should still believe, that from this very circumstance the Holy Scriptures would possess a most clear authority, whenever a point arose which no man could be ignorant of, without imperiling the salvation which has been promised him.” (On Merit and the Forgiveness of Sin)

"Wherever the place has been determined, let us see to it that the canonical codices are on hand and if any proofs can be produced on either side, let us set everything else aside and bring so important a matter to a conclusion." (Letter no. 163)

“What more shall I teach you than what we read in the apostles? For Holy Scripture fixes the rule for our doctrine, lest we dare be wiser than we ought. Therefore I should not teach you anything else except to expound to you the words of the Teacher.” (On the Good of Widowhood)

"If we are perplexed by any apparent contradiction in Scripture, it is not allowable to say, The author of this book is mistaken; but either the manuscript is faulty, or the translation is wrong, or you have not understood." (City of God, 11.5)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The canon of Scripture

"The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God."

(WCF, 1.4)

While I appreciate extra-biblical adducements, I have found that I prefer to approach the issue of the canon from an epistemological and exegetical (Scripturalistic) approach. My response to the question of the canon would probably look something akin to the following:

One might say that the issue of the canon is resolved by including or implying the canon in one's epistemological axiom - viz. "the Protestant canon is God's word &c." How does one know one’s canon is true? Analogous is the question: how did Abraham know God was speaking to Him? Both are question begging, as the questions imply that axioms require justification by premises (an infinite regression fallacy); rather, the Protestant canon should be taken as self-evident, and this is internally consistent due to the statements within the canon regarding the clear nature of divine revelation (cf. Psalm 119, John 10, etc.).

While I have several more interesting - at least, in my opinion - responses to the issue of the canon, they're rather derivative from the non-empiricistic nature of my epistemology, so I'll leave that be for now. I would like to hear whether the answer I give above is epistemologically sound (relevant, understandable, and internally consistent), exegetically sound, and see if anyone else has further passages in support of its contention.