Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I’m having a wonderful time but I’d rather be whistling in the dark

This is just a mild plea to Nato to expand his comment point number 2 for me. :)

Without knowing the sources upon which you base your historical analysis of the Reformation, I find your conclusions regarding church history and authority (e.g. Luther divorcing the New Testament from the rest of the Bible and the 'infallibility' of the Bible to name two) to be at significant odds with my understanding of what I would call 'evangelicalism' (the driving spirit of the Reformation).

It’s not surprising that any of my conclusions regarding church history and authority are at significant odds with the Protestant understanding of the Reformation, since my premises regarding church history and authority are at significant odds with the Protestant understanding of the Reformation! As far as I know, attributing Luther’s (unscriptural) doctrine of ‘sola scriptura’ to the example of Islam is my own idea, though I may have picked it up from Belloc or another sabre-rattling Catholic apologist of yesteryear. I think if anyone really does believe in the ‘infallibility’ of the Bible, they are more than halfway to Islam if they are intellectually honest, because if they ever chance to pick up the Qur’an they will realise: ‘Whoa! So that’s how an infallible book should be written. This must be the One.’


Nato said...

Okily kokily - I can meet you half way in this post.

Here we go on the Reformation(deep breath).

1. The Reformation wasn't just about Luther. There were movements all over Europe (e.g. Switzerland, France, Scotland & England), with other key individuals all contributing to the movement (Zwingli, Calvin, Knox, Cramner, & Tyndale to name a few). While I deplore some of their unbiblical methods (don't get me started on Calvin), they all contributed in their own way to the movement as a whole.

2. Luther translated the New Testament into German, but his intent was certainly not to divorce it from the entirety of Scripture. Luther's 39 articles were a reaction against the inherent corruption of the teachings of Christ that had built up over the centuries (e.g. Indulgences, Purgatory and Mary worship to name a couple).

3. The Reformation was based around a few key doctrinal issues (sometimes called the "Great Solas")Four that are key to this discussion are:
a) How can you be right with God?
By Grace Alone
(Sola Gratia)
b) How does this Grace Come?
By Christ Alone
(Solus Christus)
c) How do we find Christ?
Through Scripture Alone
(Sola Scriptura)
d) How are we 'saved'?
(jargon, I know, but scriptural
language so I'll use it)
By faith alone
(Sola Fide)

4. Sola Scriptura is not unscriptural: try
2 Timothy 3:16-17 & 2 Peter 1:16-21 + 3:13-16 New Testament) and Psalm 119 (Old Testament) for starters - I'm happy to unpack them a litte more another time.
My understanding of the canon of Scripture does not include tha Apocrypha or the Psediogrypra.

The issue of infallability requires a much longer treatment, as defining terms are important.
If we don't understand each other's definitions, we're doomed to communicate across a gap we won't understand.

More on that later....I'm falling asleep at the screen and am behind on some key work deadlines :-(.
Till next time... :-)

Nato said...

PS on the Reformation.

The key thing that the Reformation began the process of was to make clear the distinction between:

1. Church as Institution / Organisation / Structure, with truth mediated by a single divinely appointed, infallible 'priestly' human authority (i.e. the Pope);

2. Church as Body/Organism/Relationship (certainly the focus of NT Teaching), with truth freely available to all and mediated by Christ alone, through Scripture alone. The priesthood is made up of all who believe.

With 1, you trust/place your faith the institution of the 'church' above all else (historically proven to be an unwise approach);

With 2, you place your trust in the person of Christ as revealed in and through the Scriptures.

The difference between individual and organisational trust is profound and cannot be understated.

Personally, for all its inefficiencies, I plump for democracy over theocracy (or should that be benevolent totalitarianism?) any day to produce communities that best reflect what I understand the New Testament (NT) to advocate.

Don't get me wrong. Institutions can serve good purposes - I just don't want to live in one or put my trust in it :-).

Nato said...

PPS on the Scriptures.
(In response to Dr.Clam's assertion that the Reformation divorced the NT from the Canon):

All Reformed / Evangelical (i.e. Protestant) statements of faith, regardless of denominational heritage (e.g. Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, Wesleyan etc) cleary state that the entirety of Scripture - both Old and New Testments (OT & NT) - are part of the Canon of Scripture.

While wildly diverse in literary format, authorship, time & date of writing and content, the Canon of Scripture does actually present a unified whole that Evangelical Christians believe is divinely inspired.

With all my mentioning of the NT, I didn't want anyone to think that I had thrown out the first 2/3 of the Bible.

As one of the three mono-theistic faiths (Judaism, Christianity & Islam), I would agree that anyone who adopts a position of infallibilty with one shares significant common ground with the others (esp. as the OT is Judaism's Scriptures).

Which leads me to a question, Dr.Clam: How should an infallible book be written, exactly? :-)

Marco said...

Dr. Clam said Thus, if we truly want to reform Islam- not just open it up to the same postmodernist cancer that has infected Christendom I don't see anything wrong with Christendom's "cancer", and I'd like to see Islam opened up in the same way. I don't think they have to throw away the book to reform a few doctrinal issues. The structure of Islam across its heartland lends itself to both Shia and Sunni to stay as separate "religions" only joining forces at times to hurt a common enemy. However, the emerging constitutions of Afghanistan and Iraq tell a different story. It appears that there is little in those constitutions which favours one flavour of Islam to the other (unlike Iran) leaving open the possibility of stronger ties than is usual in the Arab world.


Dr. Clam said...

To answer your question, Nato, there are plenty of copies of it on the web. You should read it! It continually, unequivocally, in language of great beauty and power, states that it is the inerrant word of Allah.

And of course, Marco, if you support the general principle of separation of Church and State, you are not going to pine like me for the good old days of an all-embracing supranational Church! ;)

Nato said...

As promised, Dr Clam, I will read the Koran this year.

The issue of how God speaks through written word is something that will be taken up in my new blog (yet to be named), which will be a good discipline for actually putting stuff out there in the ether to be responded to.

To infallibility, and Beyond! ;-)