Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Beautiful, She Is

The more i read on Roman Catholic Church the more beauty i see in her. Her recent leaders, especially John Paul II and Benedict 16th, are rather distinct from their predecessors. Since Vatican 2 claimed that the 3rd millenium is the millenium of conciliation and renewal in the Roman Catholic Church, i don't see why can't reconciliation happen between her and her ecclesial communities. Perhaps it is not really the hesistation of the Roman Catholic Church but rather the problems among those who claim to be following the Church.

When i read John Paul II's apology and the International Theological Commision, i can't help but to admire the vision of the leaders and the magisterium the Catholic church. She is beautiful but not necessarily the same can be applied to her "sons and daughters".

John Paul II: "We forgive and we ask forgiveness. We are asking pardon for the divisions among Christians, for the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth, and for attitudes of mistrust and hostility assumed towards followers of other religions."

International Theological Commision on Memory and Reconciliation: The Church and the Faults of the Past.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Ecclesia Catholica Semper Reformanda

"Speaking as one of those who is regularly thus carpet-bombed, what I find frustrating is the refusal of the traditionalists to do three things: first, to differentiate the quite separate types of New Perspective; second, to engage in the actual exegetical debates upon which the whole thing turns, instead of simply repeating a Lutheran or similar line as though that settled matters; and third, to recognise that some of us at least are brothers in Christ who have come to the positions we hold not because of some liberal, modernist or relativist agenda but as a result of prayerful and humble study of the text which is and remains our sole authority. Of course, prayer and humility before the text do not guarantee exegetical success. We all remain deeply flawed at all levels. But that is precisely my point. If I am simul iustus et peccator, the church, not least the church as the scripture-reading community, must be ecclesia catholica semper reformanda. Like Calvin, we must claim the right to stand critically within a tradition. To deny either of these would be to take a large step towards precisely the kind of triumphalism against which the Reformers themselves would severely warn us. But if we are siblings in Christ there are, I think, appropriate ways of addressing one another and of speaking about one another, and I regret that these have not always characterized the debate."
N.T Wright, New Perspectives on Paul, 10th Edinburgh Dogmatics Conference: 25–28 August 2003.

Quote above is applied typologically to my situation.
When i talk to my friends from the Reformed tradition, they stare at me as if i'm a liberal. When i talk to my Catholic friends, they assume outrightly that i belonged to the heretical tradition thus have no right idea of what theology/any-other-matters-pertaining-to-faith is about. Does the third option ever cross their minds? "that some of us at least are brothers in Christ who have come to the positions we hold not because of some liberal, modernist or relativist agenda but as a result of prayerful and humble study of the text which is and remains our sole authority."

Friday, October 06, 2006


This is not to stumble anyone. If you can't swallow it, leave it.

The argument for inerrancy is usually God-centred as in it presupposes God's preservation in the canonization process:
1) God is inerrant
2) The Bible is God's word
3) Thus the Bible is inerrant

The problem here is at (2).

Question 1. How do we judge a New Testamental book/letter belongs in to the category of the Bible or not?

The usual answer from apologists is 3:
1) The book/letter has to be authored by the direct apostle of Jesus or the direct followers of the apostles.
2) The book/letter has to be circulated widely among the early churches.
3) The book/letter doesnt contradict the early doctrines of the church.

Problem 1.
I come to realize that a fundamental shift happened when a deeper question being raised (Question 1). The shift is from a very God-centred paradigm to a very human-centred one. In the first, apologist presupposes God's sovereignty over the canonization of the Bible, when the question on the canonization being raised, the apologist draws bullets from human judgement. That means the ultimate foundation for the argument for inerrancy is not by prsupposing God but by investigating human's findings. Thus the argument by presupposing God's sovereignty for inerrancy doesnt stand because at best it only able to argue for the inerrancy of the 'pre-determined canon'; and left the fundamental issue left unsettled (the canonization).

Problem 2.
Granted that God's sovereignty covers the canonization process (means presuppositional argument being validated). All books in the NT are being canonized because the early church was guided by God to recognised them. If that can be argued, then why shouldnt we canonized the gospel of Thomas as well? Or better, the shepherd of Hermas and the epistle of Barnabas, since both of them are found in codex sinaiticus and vaticanus (two earliest full manuscripts available) which our modern Bible translation based upon? Or even better, the Didache (teaching of the 12 apostles) which its authorship (not its earliest manuscript) dated as early as AD 70. The usual argument offered by apologist for the exclusion of these extra-biblical manuscripts in the Canon is 'late authorship'. But then, again, it's going back into investigating human findings instead of the philosophical argument offered at first. If the presuppositional argument stands, then the sovereignty of God can also be argued to have cover the process of authoring the shepherd of Hermas, the epistle of Barnabas, Thomas gospel, and the Didache.

Problem 3 (the biggest) If canonization can't be settle by philosophical argument, then the inerrancy part doesnt hold water. How can one talk about inerrancy when there is no canon?