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Texts and Turns…Two!

This will only be a brief post, but I happened to stumble across a post that was almost identical to my own criticism of the apologetic project at Called to Communion. You can take a look at the blog here

A few thoughts that I believe are worth quoting here:

the notion that “a book cannot hear the reader’s questions here and now, and answer them” is misleading. If you mean that it cannot *physically* hear them, then, obviously, that is correct. However, the text itself has illocution, and thus, intention. The text also presents a view of reality. Hence, when we look at a problem today, we look at the world of the text, and see what the text intends to communicate about that aspect of reality.

Adam goes on to say exactly what I say about Bryan’s discussion of the ability for persons to clarify their statements,

What Cross fails to realize is that with every answered question, you create another question. For example, let us say that person A says X, and person B says “I don’t mean that. I mean Y” Now, you have to assume that person B has the correct interpretation of X. Hence, if you ask a question, how do you know that the person to whom you are asking the question has understood you properly? More than that, when they give Y, how do you know you have properly understood their clarification? The fact of the matter is, if you didn’t understand the initial statement, then how do you know you understand the clarification? The problem is, the more words you give, the more questions of interpretation you have. Such is the case with clarification.

Continuing Adam notes,

The main point that Cross is missing is that the postmodern views of language upon which he is relying to say that Sola Scriptura is wrong because of the many different interpretations is the very thing that destroys intrinsic potency for interpretive self-clarification in *any* context-book or person.

His concluding point is particularly interesting and echoes other themes in my initial post,

What I find interesting is how Cross’ argument really parallels the “death of the author” position of Derrida, who would likewise treat the text of scripture in this fashion.

In just perusing Adam’s blog (which doesn’t appear to be active for nearly a year) I think he is a bright guy and so it’s encouraging to see that while I was not familiar with anything that he had written until yesterday, our assessment of Called to Communion is so similar.

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30 thoughts on “Texts and Turns…Two!

  1. Tristan (Miss you man!),

    Yep, I agree completely.

    This is why I concur with those that believe those swayed by the CtC arguments are on a trajectory to agnosticism.

    As Paul, Andrew, and myself note, if you’re going to leverage the problem of interpretation, you cannot just apply it to texts. It applies to persons, and, as Heidegger argued, to existence itself. It’s special pleading to only talk about the communicative limitations of texts without acknowledging the limitations of communication in general. When their skepticism is consistently applied to communicative discourse, we are left with skepticism that rivals some of the most skeptical postmodernists.

  2. I am more concerned about the deaths of the readers, which are much easier to demonstrate, historically speaking. Scripture as a whole and as individual “books” or fragments was entirely written for people or communities now looooooong dead. I.e. the chances of having the same understanding of their terms and the experiences behind them is either 0% or 100%, depending simply on whether their is a perfect unbroken continuity of those communities and/or persons (which is actually the specific Christian claim, right? Or you think Christ is LESS alive now in heaven?) right to this minute.

    1. Hi Michael,

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean when you talk about the “Death of the readers.” Are you speaking about the specific authors of Scripture? It appears that’s what you’re referring to and you’re right, they’re dead.

      I’m not sure that it’s far to say that understanding these writings is either 0% or 100%, Maybe you don’t mean that, but that’s the way I’ve read you here.

      Certainly though, simply having a stream of tradition from one bearer of tradition to the next is in itself no guarantee of that the intention of the author would be maintained. If you do some basic reading of a document like the Constitution, even the original intention/interpretation of that document was contested shortly after its completion (see debates between Federalists and anti-Federalists for example).

      The Catholic argument is that the RCC is divinely instituted to pass this sort of information along and is divinely aided in that exercise. In that sense, the Church allows us to accurately interpret the Word of God (at least that is the Catholic argument).

  3. @Brandon

    Replying to http://oldlife.org/2014/12/if-it-could-happen-to-jerusalem/#comment-249241

    You have email notification and the threads don’t roll off the front page as quickly.

    Anyway I’m back in the states.

    Here is the problem you face.

    1) You are trying to have the Apostles have a faith which is close to the WCF with minor disagreements.
    2) You are trying to have the sects that exist at the time be faithfully carriers of this message
    3) You are trying to be accurate about what the sects at the time believed according to at least moderate religious historians.

    You cannot have all 3. For example if you take Lampe, 0 of the sects have a WCF like faith. For Lampe core aspects of Christian orthodoxy are a result of political compromises that won’t emerge for hundreds of years. For Lampe you are not accurately reflecting the apostolic faith because you cannot accurate reflect the apostolic faith the world in which you exist is simply too different.

    This BTW is exactly like your comment on WCF and physical presence. The WCF rejects physical presence instead arguing for symbolic presence, “There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.” You can either agree with the WCF or you can agree with physical presence and disagree with WCF. Physical presence was one of the core doctrines on which the Reformation was thought. The Reformers were not vague on this issue.

    This is where I keep seeing a contradiction in your thinking. You cannot agree with 2 contradictory statements. You are keep trying to want to have yourself agreeing with Lampe, but you aren’t you are cherry picking from Lampe. And you are doing this the other sources as well. There is nothing wrong with taking parts of arguments there is in being unaware.

    But there are many in the academy who believe in the general reliability of the canonical material like Craig Evans, Daniel Wallace, Richard Bauckham, Larry Hurtado, Dale Allison, Gerd Theissen, Chris Keith, & N.T. Wright, just to name a few. I don’t agree with all of these men on a whole host of issues and some of them are more liberal or conservative than I am. None of them, however, believe that they should jettison their Christian beliefs or that historical critical methodology undermines Christianity.

    I have a protestant minister friend who is well to my left on historical reliability. So for example I think there are parts of the Pauline corpus that likely do reflect the teachings of a historical Paul, she thinks all of it is 2nd century and none of it is first century. I believe 1John is genuine 1st century or earlier she doesn’t… Yet she has faith. And mind you a Protestant faith where the sola scriptura (well actually prima scriptura in her case) is at the center of her religion

    The question is not whether one can have faith and believe things. Liberal Christianity exists and exists on a spectrum. So for example to pick Daniel Wallace, Daniel Wallace is mostly a conservative apologist. On the other hand on the question of whether the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in a literal sense by Jesus he is a liberal. He quite often translates the Old Testament in ways that preclude their prophetic interpretation believing that the Jerome (traditional Christian) approach to translation is simply too far removed from the Hebrew. Similarly with most of the others on your list. Using their scholarship (or for some in that list “scholarship”) introduces dependencies on areas where they are comfortable disagreeing with the more conservative positions. And as you go left that becomes much more true.

  4. Hey CD,

    Can you show me from Lampe where his work denies 1, 2, or 3? At the very least I think we will have a disagreement about where the evidence takes us. If you could unpack that a bit more that’d be helpful for me. I know you believe that Lampe’s conclusions undermine my presbyterian convictions, but I don’t see it.

    I just don’t see how any of Lampe’s conclusions undermine that orthodoxy existed, that it was carried forward by orthodox groups, or that Lampe’s methodology precludes (or undermines) my attempts from accurate historical reconstruction from succeeding. If you could explain a bit more *why* you believe that, then that will help me understand where you see the tension and allow me to respond or change my mind.

  5. @Brandon

    OK fair enough. Lets look at the sects that Lampe has in the first century:
    p69 he has three classes of early Christians:

    a) Law abiding Jewish Christians (i.e. Jews with some additional Christian theology)
    b) God fearers (sebomenoi) recruited (middle or better class)
    c) Proselytes (lower class)

    Now obviously (a) aren’t WCF like believers since they follow Jewish law. Lampe doesn’t know much about the theology of (b) or (c) but assumes they are heavily influenced by Paul. Now if the original apostolic faith is WCF why don’t the (a)’s believe that? But that’s not the big problem, the big problem is later.

    Let’s keep going. He doesn’t say much about theology for people Pomponia Graecina… But let’s take chapter 22-34. Which of those groups in your opinion look like Presbyterians? Which of these sects has anything like a WCF theology? Did Presbyterianism die within one generation among Jews and then only carry on for another generation or two before dying entirely? That’s the problem with #2 or #3.

    Once you explain where the Presbyterianism went and how in your opinion these other Christian faiths arose I think I can point out where you likely are contradicting #1,2 or 3. Lampe IMHO doesn’t agree with you on #1. So in the end my position is that by adding #1 you are going to be forced to either break #2 or #3.

  6. Hey CD,

    Lampe is using sociological definitions on p. 69 and so its important not to equate theological groups with sociological groups, even when there may be (significant) overlap. Moreover, he is only describing socio-economic conditions in Roman Christianity. I would expect that we would find different sociological conditions in other sections of the Roman empire (Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, etc.,). Not only is it not a “big problem” that there were Jewish groups who insisted on retaining their Jewish practice, in distinction from the WCF, I can’t see how it is a problem at all. First of all, group A is not monolithic, and nothing in the WCF prohibits Jews from celebrating or remaining part of their Jewish communities. The distinction for Pauline Christianity and the theology of the WCF is that those ethnic markers are no longer necessary for admittance into the covenant community and to be justified before God. Again, I don’t see how anything Lampe has argued undermines this.

    Moreover, I’m a bit perplexed by these sorts of questions from you,

    Which of those groups in your opinion look like Presbyterians?

    That’s like asking if George Washington was a Republican or a Democrat. None of them were presbyterian and the WCF certainly disagrees with their theology on certain points. The differences between Hermas and Justin are on a smaller scale while the perspective of the Gnostic groups are quite significant. For Protestants, the determiner of the Apostolic deposit is Scripture, and where people like Hermas and Justin depart from Scripture, the WCF opposes them. Hermas and Justin are part of the stream, they’ve just departed at certain points and the WCF puts them back on track.

    It seems to me you are trying to press the sociological data (the theology of Hermas and Justin) to place me in a position where I either accept that they do not represent the Apostolic Deposit or where they do accurately represent the Apostolic Deposit. In your mind (and let me know if I’m a bad mind reader) part of the tension here is that while Bryan’s position can’t account for the evidence, it’s at least consistent. The nuance I’m attempting to maintain is untenable because if the proto-orthodox don’t keep the entirety of the faith then what reason is there to believe they are accurately transmitting the Apostolic tradition at all? In other words, if they are wrong here, why do you trust them there? Before moving forward, does this accurately reflect your reaction to what I’m presenting?

    1. @Brandon

      OK let’s take the Jewish believers. Now it is certainly some theoretical sense possible that Jewish believers had a purely ethnic belief and didn’t attach any importance to the rituals. Something like what Messianic Jews believe today.

      There are a couple problems with that theory though:

      1) WCF churches have problems even with Messianic Judaism. There simply is no way to create a syncretic faith with Rabbinic (close to Pharisaic) Judaism in practice in hundreds of little ways ends up asserting things that contradict the WCF. For example many of the prayers explicitly say we are blessed for our works or that God calls all to serve him. So the moment you tried to start putting flesh on these Jewish believer’s beliefs your theory would fall apart.

      2) But there is particular problem in 50 CE that doesn’t exist in 2015 CE. You are talking about a time period where the Jerusalem Temple still exists. That’s issue of the Book of Hebrews. Is Jesus sacrifice is a one and for all heavenly sacrifice than what role does the Jerusalem Temple play? They aren’t law abiding 1st century Jews if they believe none. A Jew in 50 CE is going to have much greater tension.

      3) Most importantly. There is the criteria that we know about these Jewish Christian hybrids. They left behind some written records and their critics wrote about them. Those are the Ebionites, those are the Elkasaites, those are the bulk of the Gnostics. To support your belief in early orthodoxy you are being forced to construct a sect of Jewish believers who hold a theology we have 0 evidence for having actually existed and moreover we have tremendous evidence that the sects of Jewish believers that did existed believed entirely different things than what you want them to believe. Your orthodox Jewish believers theory contradicts the 3rd criteria, “you are trying to be accurate about what the sects at the time believed according to at least moderate religious historians”.

      Which is my point those 3 criteria contradict.

      That’s like asking if George Washington was a Republican or a Democrat. None of them were presbyterian and the WCF certainly disagrees with their theology on certain points.

      Well exactly. We as Americans accept that American political philosophy developed. We don’t claim that George Washington left behind and once and forever revelation of truth that we need merely fully understand. We cannot possibly hold to George Washington’s political philosophy because we don’t live in the same world he did. But the WCF contradicts that analogy, “which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;hose former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased”.

      It seems to me you are trying to press the sociological data (the theology of Hermas and Justin) to place me in a position where I either accept that they do not represent the Apostolic Deposit or where they do accurately represent the Apostolic Deposit.

      I don’t think I have to make use of sociological data for that. That’s an epistemological tautology. There exists a set of beliefs X. There exists a set of beliefs Y. Either X or Y are equal, they contain no contradictions and and a common non-empty core, or they contradict one another. One of those 3 must be true. The sociological data helps to elaborate on what happened. Sociological data will contradict things like the Jewish theory above.

      In your mind (and let me know if I’m a bad mind reader) part of the tension here is that while Bryan’s position can’t account for the evidence, it’s at least consistent. The nuance I’m attempting to maintain is untenable because if the proto-orthodox don’t keep the entirety of the faith then what reason is there to believe they are accurately transmitting the Apostolic tradition at all? In other words, if they are wrong here, why do you trust them there? Before moving forward, does this accurately reflect your reaction to what I’m presenting?

      That’s one of my objections. You are right. I see Bryan as mostly consistent but having to be cute with history while I see you as having to dive back and forth. Bryan would raise the issue with a historical method that you need a mechanism by which you pick and choose. It is deeper than how you can trust them it is a question of how can you know which to accept or reject.

      Let’s take Justin since you mentioned him. Justin contradicts himself on major concepts within Christian theology. Justin acknowledges unequivocally he doesn’t believe in the incarnation when he is converted. The Christianity Justin describes himself converting to is a Jewish (God Fearer) flavoring of Stoicism. Something very much like what we see in the writings of Philo, except that the Logos is personified in a wholly supernatural being called Jesus. Yes Jesus is more central than Philo’s two offhanded references but that’s about it for major shifts. Justin is not converted to what you would call “the biblical faith”. However, the Christianity he believes in the 140s is proto-Catholicism. When did he get the Apostolic faith and from whom? You could posit another conversion but Justin himself talks about his thinking developing, which means in his own writings contradicts your theory of clear lines between Orthodoxy and non-orthodoxy. It is not just that there is no reason to believe that Justin is accurately transmitting the Apostolic tradition in a historical (not supernatural sense), Justin himself contradicts that belief.

      Justin is a great example. You and Bryan both have the problem with Justin. Justin’s Christianity that he is converted into: Stoic philosophy, Jesus theology, aesthetic morality and a quest for salvation by martyrdom sounds like Encratite Christianity not Catholicism. Though early Catholicism has these aspects it depends crucially on the incarnation as a historical event. If Justin is Orthodox is docetic Encratite Christianity of his youth orthodox? Bryan can fall back on that it was Orthodox (or at least non-heretical) because the church has a mechanism for refining the faith. Development of doctrine. So in theory he can argue that before the early 130s yes it is Orthodox (or at least not heretical) and by the mid 140s (Marcion) no it is not. Bryan has this hypothetical institution “The Eternal Catholic Church” which provides a mechanism for Justin’s faith to be developing in a way unlike the way George Washington’s political philosophy became the current Democrats and Republicans. Bryan still has problems of course. Because to be the original, i.e. to be the political philosophy of George Washington and not just Mitt Romney and Barack Obama he makes historical claims that are falsified. So the moment he puts dates together things fall apart.

      You have problems because you have to have George Washington saying stuff that we know he didn’t. So you are right about the distinction. Bryan’s argument falls apart on purely historical grounds his dates can’t jell. Your argument contradicts itself very much like the situation with Justin or the Jews above.

      1. Hey CD,

        I’m not going to be able to deliver a satisfactory response, but it the gist of it is going to get back to this: what evidence are you appealing to for your conclusions?

        You seem to be rather confident that we can know about the theological beliefs of Gnostic groups, but I’m curious what sources you are utilizing for that belief.

        The reason I ask is because I have described Paul’s opponents from the NT and you stated, “we have 0 evidence for [Judaizers] having actually existed.” But we actually have Paul’s writings and the writings in Acts. So there is evidence. The Ebionites and the Elkasaites were Jewish movements clearly influenced by Christianity, but were they Apostolic movements? The WCF says no, and I believe later historical reflection reinforces this. What historical documents (with dates) would you recommend we examine to prove your claims about the existence of widespread Jewish Christian groups?

        Also, I should have been clearer about Washington. There have clearly been developments from the first and second century and Westminster. I highly doubt that ostracized members of society would have articulated what the WCF does about the magistrate. The language of the Trinity would certainly have been foreign to those in the first and second century. Many of these things are historically conditioned and it is uneven to ask the question the way you’ve framed it. For example, you cite the WCF on Scripture,

        which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; whose former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased

        You’re shifting targets midstream here. Are we talking about the doctrine of Scripture or the doctrines of various individuals? The Christian claim is that Scripture speaks in a unified way, but there is not guarantee that every Christian writer perfectly maintained the Scriptural standard. That’s why we hold to Sola Scriptura. There is nothing inconsistent with the WCF taking different theological positions than individual members in church history. The issue would arise if the WCF took exception with Scripture.

        I wish I could say more as you’ve raised other issues, but I think this is as far as I can go right now. I”ll try to come back in a few weeks.

  7. Hey CD,

    Yep, I’m here, but extremely busy. Had a sales conference this past week and school has started again and it’s pretty have in quantitative courses (not my strongest or most familiar area) so my blog perusal time has been slashed substantially. I’ll try to get back to you when I get some more time.

  8. I’m not going to be able to deliver a satisfactory response, but it the gist of it is going to get back to this: what evidence are you appealing to for your conclusions?

    You seem to be rather confident that we can know about the theological beliefs of Gnostic groups, but I’m curious what sources you are utilizing for that belief.

    Well

    1) We have a very large body of (quasi-)Christian Gnostic literature
    2) We have quasi-gnostic and non-Christian Gnostic groups contrasting their beliefs with the Christian Gnostics.
    3) We have other descriptions from their opponents.
    4) We have been able to follow themes and in the case of the Sethians put together a time line.

    That’s a lot on an ancient sect. Does it tell us everything? No. But it does give us quite a bit to go on.

    The reason I ask is because I have described Paul’s opponents from the NT and you stated, “we have 0 evidence for [Judaizers] having actually existed.” But we actually have Paul’s writings and the writings in Acts.

    Paul’s writings describe a group of people with beliefs quite unlike what you attribute to the Judaizers. For example:

    Col 2:8, Col 2:20 manipulation of matter through spirits, secret magick rituals;
    Col 2:11 circumcision, the importance of earthly acts to control powers the core idea of magick.
    Col 2:16-17 special ritual holidays
    Col 2:18 angel worship,
    Col 2:21-23 legalism, a focus on ritual purity for the laity.

    That’s not simply a belief in keeping Jewish ceremonial law. That sounds a lot like full blown Hermetic Judaism. Given that we know there are Christian magical papyri and that we see scattered references to magick that doesn’t sound like just Judaizers.

    Or similarly in Corinthians the opponents are not merely preaching adherence to a few extra rituals but an entirely different theology of moral perfection. Who is 1Cor 4:7-13 directed at. Who is 1Cor 8:1-13 directed at? You can’t make that fit a theology where there is an orthodox and Judaizers there has to be more diversity.

    As for Acts let’s stick to the Epistles for now. I’m not scared of Acts but Acts is a complicating factor since it is written as an apology for a particular viewpoint.

    The Ebionites and the Elkasaites were Jewish movements clearly influenced by Christianity, but were they Apostolic movements?

    Remember your position is not that they merely aren’t Apostolic but that they don’t exist in Roman Christianity. You have a base sort of unity from which orthodoxy emerges. No unity, no basis for orthodoxy.

    What historical documents (with dates) would you recommend we examine to prove your claims about the existence of widespread Jewish Christian groups?

    The classic article is Friedlander Revisted by Pearson. Pearson is my clear first choice. But if you want someone friendly to evangelics David M. Scholer of Fuller. Carl Smith’s No Longer Jews is a good survey (though a bit conservative) He breaks down 1st century influences on Christianity as being some sort of pre-existing Christian sect, the Platonic converts to Judaism / Jewish Christianity and alienated Jewish intellectuals (many of whom leaned towards Gnosticism).

    Also, I should have been clearer about Washington. There have clearly been developments from the first and second century and Westminster. I highly doubt that ostracized members of society would have articulated what the WCF does about the magistrate. The language of the Trinity would certainly have been foreign to those in the first and second century. Many of these things are historically conditioned and it is uneven to ask the question the way you’ve framed it. For example, you cite the WCF on Scripture,

    which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary; whose former ways of God’s revealing His will unto His people being now ceased

    You’re shifting targets midstream here. Are we talking about the doctrine of Scripture or the doctrines of various individuals? The Christian claim is that Scripture speaks in a unified way, but there is not guarantee that every Christian writer perfectly maintained the Scriptural standard. That’s why we hold to Sola Scriptura. There is nothing inconsistent with the WCF taking different theological positions than individual members in church history. The issue would arise if the WCF took exception with Scripture.

    I’m losing your argument here. You are being too short.

  9. CD,

    You said,

    Remember your position is not that they merely aren’t Apostolic but that they don’t exist in Roman Christianity.

    No, I don’t think I’ve ever claimed that and I don’t think anything I’ve said entails this. If I have then please point it out so I can clarify my statements or retract them. For the sake of clarity though, I was not under the impression I was defending such a thing.

    1. @Brandon

      I think you were pretty clear when I talked about Jews who had some additional Christian theology you limited it to Judaizers who had no major theological differences:
      Not only is it not a “big problem” that there were Jewish groups who insisted on retaining their Jewish practice, in distinction from the WCF, I can’t see how it is a problem at all. First of all, group A is not monolithic, and nothing in the WCF prohibits Jews from celebrating or remaining part of their Jewish communities. The distinction for Pauline Christianity and the theology of the WCF is that those ethnic markers are no longer necessary for admittance into the covenant community and to be justified before God.

      If you are moving away from this go back and reread your argument. It doesn’t apply at all. You were asserting point (2) (list from the January 6, 2015 post) that the sects were carrying out a WCF style message not something radically different. Once you have sects with major theological differences you have to back off point (2) that the message the sects was carrying was WCF like.

      Again look at (1), (2) and (3). That’s the thesis you are trying to defend.

      1. CD,

        No, that’s not what I was arguing.

        First, note that I said “groups” in the plural and note they weren’t necessarily monolithic. Of course there were multiple flavors of Judaism (the gospels tell us about the Sadducees and the Pharisees and we know about the Essenes as well). There would have naturally been different interactions and reactions with Christianity from these Jewish groups.

        The only thing I was affirming is that there was a movement connected to the Apostles that is not radically different from the WCF. Just because there may have been differences of opinion doesn’t mean that one group didn’t have apostolic sanction while the other did not.

        >

    1. Gnosticism is going to depend on the sect. Just to take an example where we have good dating. We have the Sethians. We know around 100-125 CE the Sethians encounter Christians. We know this both from the fact that the Christians start writing about the Sethians and that the Sethians start taking on Christian themes. So for example if we Sethianism where the teaching figure is Seth then it is pre-Christian encounter while if Jesus is the one teaching it is post-encounter. If Sophia plays the Wisdom intermediary role then pre-encounter if Jesus plays that role post-encounter. We also have other things neo-platonism to give us the 5 main stages of Sethianism.

      (1) Sethianism as a non-Christian baptismal sect of the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. which considered itself primordially enlightened by the divine wisdom revealed to Adam and Seth, yet expected a final visitation of Seth marked by his conferral of a saving baptism;
      (2) Sethianism as gradually Christianized in the later first century onward through an identification of the pre-existent Christ with Seth, or Adam, that emerged through contact with Christian baptismal groups;
      (3) Sethianism as increasingly estranged from a Christianity becoming more orthodox toward the end of the second century and beyond;
      (4) Sethianism as rejected by the Great Church but meanwhile increasingly attracted to the individualistic contemplative practices of third-century Platonism; and
      (5) Sethianism as estranged from the orthodox Platonists of the late third century and increasingly fragmented into various derivative and other sectarian gnostic groups, some surviving into the Middle Ages.

      ____

      Simonianism is going to be even earlier because Simon is early he’s already a success by 50 CE. We know his Christian theology from the Ebionites and their critics.

      We have the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Baptism / Wisdom themes going back to 100 BCE.

      What specifically are you asking for date wise?

  10. @Brandon

    No, that’s not what I was arguing.

    First, note that I said “groups” in the plural and note they weren’t necessarily monolithic. Of course there were multiple flavors of Judaism (the gospels tell us about the Sadducees and the Pharisees and we know about the Essenes as well). There would have naturally been different interactions and reactions with Christianity from these Jewish groups.

    The only thing I was affirming is that there was a movement connected to the Apostles that is not radically different from the WCF. Just because there may have been differences of opinion doesn’t mean that one group didn’t have apostolic sanction while the other did not.

    I’m not sure why you aren’t seeing the contradiction here. When I try and talk about Roman Christianity in terms of heterodoxy you keep downplaying the heterodoxy and arguing that everyone is more or less WCF your January 14th post being the most recent example. When I talk about how that contradicts the record that we have you agree there is wild diversity. We aren’t talking merely about apostolic sanction. We are talking radically different Christianities existing simultaneously in Rome and everywhere else with no clear concept of orthodoxy being understood by anyone at the time.

    Either defend the minimization or stop minimizing the differences here. If there are 1/2 dozen Jewish groups in Rome in 50 CE all with totally different theologies then there is no agreed upon orthodoxy.
    Was there an incarnation?
    Was Jesus’ sacrifice a once and for all sacrifice or is the temple still effectual?
    Were the apostle’s crucifixion the earthly component of Jesus’ and thus necessary for it’s effectuality?
    Is the God of material creation the Father that Jesus spoke of?
    Was the serpent in the garden teaching Adam truth and trying to help him or lies and trying to tempt him towards distruction?
    Do all humans have the same types of souls?
    etc…

    Those are not merely debates over the role of Jewish ritual practice. If these sorts of issues aren’t agreed upon within at least a large segment of the Christian community you don’t have orthodoxy yet. Just to pick Lampe as a specific example of the literature he mentions Alcibiades as a Roman teacher of Jewish Christianity. We know something about Alcibiades’ Christianity and that he identified the Son of Man with the Great Angel (the Angel of the Lord in the Old Testament) and not with Jesus. So do all the Roman Christian Jesus believe that Jesus is the Son of Man (i.e. the messiah) or not or do only some of them believe it? And if so what fraction believe Jesus is the messiah?

    Even if we assume there is one WCF that left behind no record, that still doesn’t help you with orthodoxy problem. Because once we start dealing with the reality of Jewish Christianity then they are just one among many Jewish-Christian sects. How do you get to a situation where these alternative sects are running around on equal footing with the WCF sect? How do they evolve? If the WCF sect is the original why do we have stuff from these other sects that predates the WCF sect (i.e. 100 BCE or before)?

    In 50 CE do 5%, 50% or 95% of the Romans believe in WCF style Christianity?
    1) If you have a world of orthodoxy in 50 CE why is the documentary record so inconsistent with this orthodoxy?
    2) If you have a world of heterodoxy in 50 CE why has the orthodoxy from less than one generation earlier been lost?
    In 100 CE what percentage believe in WCF style Christianity? In 150 CE? In 200 CE? If you cannot construct a single detailed scenario consistent with your theory and the evidence then your theory is inconsistent with the evidence. Just one reason being that you want Paul creating gentile Christianity, so you need the explosion in diversity has to happen after Paul but the diversity exists within Jewish-Christianity.

    And this problem with a WCF sect doesn’t resolve easily even in later years. Take Justin that I mentioned above for example almost a century later. In your theory what happens to him? Does Justin starts off in some other sect and then joins the WCF sect? If so why doesn’t he know he did this. Or does the WCF theology take over his sect? In which case how does this happen if the WCF theology had always been there and his sect had rejected it generations earlier?

    Or take the bible and how the spread of the bible is too inconsistent with this timeline.
    If Peter is a member of this WCF sect while in Antioch and this WCF sect becomes the Catholics and not the docetic Christians why is it that the docetic Christians have a better handle on the Petrine corpus in 200 CE? If Paul is a member of this WCF sect, and this sect is biblical, then why do the early church fathers know so little about him?

    Just having a WCF sect doesn’t solve your problem. Because you also want this sect to have been the original sect you are going to need theological diversity exploding very early and then gelling. And you aren’t going to be able to put a timeline together because the initial explosion never happened so all the evidence shows a gelling.

    1. CD,

      I’m equally perplexed. I think you are drawing conclusions from diversity which may be warranted but which don’t necessarily follow from the evidence. You are acting like because there may have been different theological groups that this means there is only diversity.

      There are some scholars that agree with your. There are scores of others that don’t. You’ve been arguing my methodology is inconsistent because I recognized that diversity existed within roman Christianity to the point that it makes the existence of a centralized authority implausible. You are arguing, if I understand, that admitting diversity undermines any claim to orthodoxy. I’ve tried to point out though that diversity doesn’t prove anything.

      We know about the diversity from the NT. it’s not very surprising and it’s why Bryan even responds to my argument by saying that the existence of a bishop doesn’t undermine orthodoxy or episcopacy.

      What I worked to point out about barges of inconsistency is that no one else in the case my sees the tension you or Bryan see on my writing. For both of you it’s a both/and situation. Claiming orthodoxy without episcopacy is inconsistent. The problem with that is everyone in the academy acknowledges there was no episcopacy but there is debate about the existence of orthodoxy. For example, I cited Paul Meier, Raymond Brown, Eamon Duffy, and Allen Brent as just a few examples of Catholics holding this position.

      I can acknowledge diversity without undermining the existence of unified apostolic teaching. That’s what every conservative scholar in aware of acknowledges. In other words, I don’t think your argument extends as far as you believe it does.

      Sent from my iPhone

      >

  11. @Brandon

    Let me start off by saying the literature you are citing does not agree with you on a unified orthodoxy. Raymond Brown has 4 distinct theologies in the New Testament itself:

    i) Colossians / Ephesians — Christianity has remained part of Judaism
    ii) Luke / Acts — Christianity has completely rejected current Jewish community and severed itself
    iii) Pastoral Epistles — Judaizer conflict still exists and the communities are still undecided about separation
    iv) Johanne Community — Jewish community rejected Christianity and drove it out of the synagogues entirely

    He doesn’t have a unified theology for Christianity even among the New Testament authors much less among the wider Christianity of the time. Father Brown’s entire claim to fame is reversing engineering the conditions of the Johanne community from the Johanne writings, and thus arguing that the biblical texts don’t reflect Jesus’ teachings but rather reflect the events that happened 2 generations after his death.

    Paul Meier is mostly working earlier but his writing certainly don’t support the idea of a unified theology either. Meier spends a great deal of his time trying to separate out late 1st century theology from Jesus’ theology. He also spends a great deal of time trying to separate out the early theology when Jesus is more consistent with John the Baptists, Jesus’ mentor for Meier, from the later theology near his death. Which means he doesn’t believe there was even a unified theological message during Jesus’ earthly ministry.

    You are cherry picking from those authors, you aren’t representing their beliefs. There is nothing wrong with citing an author in one area and not agreeing in all areas but there is a huge problem in not doing so explicitly. Because when you do this, you pick up the burden of proof for arguing that the author’s theories are separable.

    ______

    Now let’s get to why diversity matters. The literal definition of diversity is, “the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas”. An orthodoxy is a “generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practice”. If an idea doesn’t have widespread acceptance it isn’t orthodoxy. If there is genuine diversity with a bunch of groups on par with one another than in there areas of disagreement there is no orthodoxy. Diversity and orthodoxy are almost antonyms and wide diversity and orthodoxy are outright antonyms.

    One can talk about what will later become orthodoxy. For example I don’t believe that in the year 100 CE most Christians thought apostles died for Christ. On the other hand I think this belief did exist then and it quite obviously gained traction over the next 2 generations to become orthodoxy. I identify “orthodoxy” with Catholicism because they were the first Christian sect to have generally accepted theory, doctrine, or practices even though I don’t believe the Catholic sect even existed until the 2nd century.

    Now you unlike Bryan have an asymmetry problem. By the 10th century Catholicism is clearly orthodox Christianity, Catholicism won. So he can talk about what will later become orthodoxy sloppily as orthodoxy. Certainly there could still be an early WCF-Christian sect even with diversity. But a WCF sect doesn’t have that later point where they became the generally accepted view. Because they never became the generally accepted form of Christianity in later years unless they were generally accepted early then they were never orthodox. For the WCF to have ever been orthodox you need something like a Christian Restorationism scenario where the church started off as WCF like and quickly fell into a wild diversity of divergent sects that then unified over the next few centuries to Catholicism. Consequently diversity by 50 CE (given a Christianity that founds during Jesus life) is a deal killer because there isn’t even time for a Christian Restorationist scenario. Which means the WCF-sect was never orthodoxy. Widespread diversity doesn’t disprove the existence of WCF-Christianity but it does disprove its claim to orthodoxy. Once you disprove the claim orthodoxy for the WCF-Christianity then (even if it existed) it just becomes one sect among many very much like the OPC & PCA’s status today.

    From the earliest days of Catholicism: one God, one bishop, one baptism (i.e one faith) are seen as unified claims. 2nd century Catholicism is advancing the concept of a unified authority because without a unified authority there is no claim to a unified faith. That is the Catholic argument of the 2nd and 3rd century, that is Bryan’s argument today. You can disagree with that, you can’t disagree with that and claim to be representing the faith of the Catholic Church fathers.

    It is possible I misunderstood you, but in this discussion with me on this board alone you contradicted yourself on whether or not the Apostles are unified. You contradicted yourself on whether or not Jewish Christianity was mainly orthodox with some minor differences in practice or widely divergent from orthopraxy stemming from wide divergency in orthodoxy. And we haven’t even gotten to the God Fearers with their pagan-Jewish hybrid theology where the problems get worse not better. I can’t stop you from saying totally opposite things and then asserting those aren’t contradictions when they are pointed out. And sure it is possible I’m misunderstanding you.

    You have a burden here to think through what early Christianity looks like. Being unable to say whether your WCF faith is 5% or 95% of all Christians in 50 CE is not a position that’s defendable in a debate. And that becomes a contradiction when you talk as if it was 95% on some points and examine the evidence only feeling like you have to defend 5%.
    And all of that is besides the fact the scholarship you are using puts the size of this WCF-sect at precisely 0%.

  12. Hey CD,

    I think you are bringing a number of loaded assumptions into this discussion and we’re not really talking about the same things. You said,

    It is possible I misunderstood you, but in this discussion with me on this board alone you contradicted yourself on whether or not the Apostles are unified. You contradicted yourself on whether or not Jewish Christianity was mainly orthodox with some minor differences in practice or widely divergent from orthopraxy stemming from wide divergency in orthodoxy. And we haven’t even gotten to the God Fearers with their pagan-Jewish hybrid theology where the problems get worse not better. I can’t stop you from saying totally opposite things and then asserting those aren’t contradictions when they are pointed out. And sure it is possible I’m misunderstanding you.

    I haven’t contradicted myself on the Apostles agreement on apostolic teaching, I only affirmed what every biblical scholar across the spectrum acknowledges, there was a dispute between Paul and James. You’ve tried to make this concession mean something, but it is something that every conservative acknowledges.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about with Jewish Christianity. There were varying Jewish groups. None of them were monolithic. They existed. Paul admits they exist.

    The bottom line is I think you see tensions that exist behind some of the things you are claiming, but they aren’t explicit. Nothing I’ve said is contradictory and it is all stuff affirmed by conservative scholars.

    One final note, I’m not sure you (or me) have defined what we mean by “unified.” I imagine that this contributes to the confusion as well. Perhaps when I have time I can explain I conceive of Apostolic unity. In the interim, perhaps you could explain your perspective on it for me to consider.

  13. Hi Brandon. Are you claiming that a first century author and 21 century reader are in the same epistemic boat as two contemporary interlocutors?

    I’m reminded of a helpful scenario that Newman provides to reveal the difference. Suppose, Brandon, that I am relaying something of religious importance that you have spoken to me about your own belief system to someone else while you are absent. I speak with confidence in what you have revealed to me about your religious beliefs. My interlocutor and I confidently pick apart your position with an air of triumph.

    However, in the next few minutes, you enter the room. My confidence is shattered immediately. I begin to qualify my assertions, always turning to you to clarify: “Is this what you meant, Brandon?” “If I understand you correctly, Brandon. . . ” “Do you mean by this word. . . . ?” And so on. Your living presence commands an authority that is lacking when you are absent.

    I wonder how St. Paul’s commentators would feel if St. Paul himself entered into their fierce debates.

  14. Hey Nick,

    Are you claiming that a first century author and 21 century reader are in the same epistemic boat as two contemporary interlocutors?

    In my initial article I stated,

    In one important respect Bryan is right about the possibility for interpretive self-clarification being greater from a person than a “book.” This truth is only superficially related to the real issues, however. Bryan assumes that with the ability of an individual to clarify themselves leads to greater understanding, but that is only one potential outcome. There is also the possibility that I’ve raised above that the questioner misunderstands the clarification of the speaker. Moreover, there is the possibility that the speaker misunderstands the question of the questioner leading to more misunderstanding. And even if there is not misunderstanding on 1st and 2nd order questions, the possibility for misunderstanding continues into third and fourth order questions.

    Your scenario is also not completely analogous to the interpretation of the Word of God, wherein the Spirit of God speaks.

  15. Thank you, Brandon.

    You wrote:

    “Bryan assumes that with the ability of an individual to clarify themselves leads to greater understanding, but that is only one potential outcome. There is also the possibility that I’ve raised above that the questioner misunderstands the clarification of the speaker. Moreover, there is the possibility that the speaker misunderstands the question of the questioner leading to more misunderstanding. And even if there is not misunderstanding on 1st and 2nd order questions, the possibility for misunderstanding continues into third and fourth order questions.”

    It is at this point, I think, that your position entails the kind of skepticism that you have attributed to those down at CTC. (Disclaimer: I do not speak for those at CTC.)

    Your position entails that words (either written or spoken) tend to lead to misunderstanding between sincere, rational persons. But common experience teaches us that sincere dialogue between rational persons leads to genuine understanding, even if that understanding is one of disagreement. Disagreement does not entail that what is said is not understood. Disagreement within the context of genuine dialogue reveals different paradigmatic turfs and/or blatant disobedience, not solipsistic prisons whereby the interlocutors are barred from each other.

    The problem that proponents of Sola Scriptura face is that the Sacred Scriptures do not provide clear and direct statements about many doctrines of the Faith that are indispensable for the Christian life. Of course, there are some doctrines that are blatantly obvious and the Scriptures are unequivocal on the matter. For example, anyone who denies that St. Paul believed that God exists is not a person who has properly read the works of St. Paul. But the fact is there are essential Christian doctrines that are not able to be settled by the text of Scripture.

    Let us take the forgiveness of grave sin after justification, an extremely important doctrinal and existential matter for the Christian. When reading the New Testament, it appears that such sins cannot be forgiven. Willful sin, prima facie, after Baptism cannot be forgiven, so the rigorists of the 2nd and 3rd centuries deduced from certain passages of Scripture (Hebrews 6:1-6; Hebrews 10:26; I John 5; Matthew 12, etc.). These passages are notoriously difficult to square with the traditional understanding of the forgiveness of post-baptismal sins.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I think this is a false conclusion drawn from these texts because the Church provides the proper context and Tradition whereby we can understand these passages as not excluding forgiveness of grave, willful sin after Baptism. But for those who rely on Sola Scriptura and for those who have committed grave, willful sin after Baptism, these passages have not only caused anxiety but extreme despair in truly repentant Christians. I have known such poor souls. They are forced to rely on expert exegetes who disagree about the nature of these passages. A flimsy confidence indeed! And if they appeal to the early Christians, the followers of Novatian and other rigorists will lead them to more despair. They are left to the difficult Greek texts and the slender hope that they get their declensions, conjugations, idioms and contexts just right.

    Enter the Catholic paradigm. The poor, despairing soul, reads in his Catechism that all sins are forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance, both venial and willful, grave sin. He reads there that the Council of Trent has solemnly rejected the claim that post-baptismal sins cannot be forgiven. The Church clarifies where the Scriptures do not clarify. Why? Because the authors of Scripture were not responding to heretical statements about the nature of forgiveness. On the other hand, the authors of the Catechism explicitly state what Scripture has not stated because the authors of the Catechism are answering objections that the authors of Scripture were not answering.

    The Catholic position is not that words (written or spoken) in principle tend to lead to misunderstandings, a position you appear to espouse in the above passage. The Catholic position is that when an author does not clarify the answer to a disputed question then the reader cannot determine what the author’s answer is regarding the disputed question. It is not the written word per se that leads to agnosticism regarding a particular dispute; it is the written word that has not been clarified as to settle a disputed question that leads the reader to agnosticism or mere opinion. This is not skepticism; this is realism.

  16. Hey Nick,

    You said,

    Your position entails that words (either written or spoken) tend to lead to misunderstanding between sincere, rational persons

    No, that’s not quite right. I never argued that. My argument is that Bryan’s attempts to distinguish between clarity offered by texts and persons is ad hoc.

    I only argued that discussion between persons is not inherently superior to a text. Neither modicum can provide *certainty,* which is the point I’m making. The point is that there are ontological differences between texts and persons, but this does not solve the problem of individual interpretation–and the risk that misunderstanding can happen.

    In other words, the Catholic doesn’t escape the problem of interpretation because it postulates a “person.” Even if this claim wasn’t historically & theologically dubious, there are numerous philosophical problems assuming that texts are unclear but persons are clear. It may be true that there is greater potentiality for clarity from a “person,” but that does not mean it is clearer in actuality.

  17. Thanks, Brandon. You wrote:

    “I only argued that discussion between persons is not inherently superior to a text. Neither modicum can provide *certainty,* which is the point I’m making. The point is that there are ontological differences between texts and persons, but this does not solve the problem of individual interpretation–and the risk that misunderstanding can happen.”

    Personal dialogue is superior to the written text when a doctrinal dispute has not been openly addressed by the author. My earlier point about the forgiveness of post-baptismal sin demonstrates this point.

    Furthermore, one can be certain about the meaning of a statement made by one’s interlocutor. If this were not true, then dialogue would be a vain pursuit.

    You also wrote:

    “In other words, the Catholic doesn’t escape the problem of interpretation because it postulates a “person.” Even if this claim wasn’t historically & theologically dubious, there are numerous philosophical problems assuming that texts are unclear but persons are clear. It may be true that there is greater potentiality for clarity from a “person,” but that does not mean it is clearer in actuality.”

    Dialogue is clearer in actuality. I have provided a doctrinal example above. What principled reason would you give a Christian who believed that post-baptismal sins could not be forgiven given the NT passages provided by the Novatianists? The Catholic Church has a principled reason for rejecting the Novation heresy whereby the Catholic can be certain that his Church teaches that his pos-Baptismal sins can be forgiven.

  18. Hey Nick,

    You said,

    Personal dialogue is superior to the written text when a doctrinal dispute has not been openly addressed by the author. My earlier point about the forgiveness of post-baptismal sin demonstrates this point.

    I don’t have the time to go down all of the trails this would take us, but there are a number of problematic assumptions here. Do you think that these passages are truly indeterminate from their context such that we need a living “person” to say what it means? And if they are that indeterminate, what grounds does the church have for clarifying them if they aren’t in the text?

    You continue by saying,

    Furthermore, one can be certain about the meaning of a statement made by one’s interlocutor. If this were not true, then dialogue would be a vain pursuit.

    There are an unlimited number of ways in which a conversation can be misunderstood. Just as there exists the potential for clarification, there also exists an infinite number of ways for miscommunication in any 1st, 2nd, or 3rd order question. We’re speaking at the level of the theoretical (something I think you’re missing). The point is that texts are not simply dead, inert things, there is also a conversation that goes on between a text and an interpreter. It’s not identical to personal conversation, but it shares astounding similarities. When you also share the theological commitment that God’s Word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” it makes such an approach to Scripture theologically untenable.

    What principled reason would you give a Christian who believed that post-baptismal sins could not be forgiven given the NT passages provided by the Novatianists?

    1 John 1:8-10:

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.

    1 Corinthians 5:1-2 & 2nd Corinthians 7:8-10

    It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this?…

    Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

    We could go into detailed exegesis of these passages, but I liked Augustine’s appeal to the Lord’s prayer in these disputes as well:

    Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one

    Augustine notes that we are to pray this daily “Forgive our debts.” We must continually pray this prayer just as we ought to continually pray for God’s provision of food.

    Finally, you say,

    The Catholic Church has a principled reason for rejecting the Novation heresy whereby the Catholic can be certain that his Church teaches that his pos-Baptismal sins can be forgiven.

    The principle you’re advocating is “We said it; that settles it,” but in actuality the church appeals to the Scriptures to vindicate it’s reasoning. It’s not by mere fiat. The RCC properly points people back to the Scriptures. The only difference is that the RCC claims to be infallible when it does that, and Protestants simply say that they are themselves fallible but pointing to God’s revelation.

  19. Hey Brandon.

    You wrote: “There are an unlimited number of ways in which a conversation can be misunderstood. Just as there exists the potential for clarification, there also exists an infinite number of ways for miscommunication in any 1st, 2nd, or 3rd order question. We’re speaking at the level of the theoretical (something I think you’re missing). The point is that texts are not simply dead, inert things, there is also a conversation that goes on between a text and an interpreter. It’s not identical to personal conversation, but it shares astounding similarities. When you also share the theological commitment that God’s Word is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” it makes such an approach to Scripture theologically untenable.”

    Theoretically speaking, you are correct. I could say: “God exists.” And my interlocutor could potentially interpret that to mean: “The moon is made of green cheese.” But theoretical possibility does not preclude certainty, albeit a certainty distinct from mathematical certainty. Sincere interlocutors can bring about mutual understanding within dialogue, especially if that dialogue is about dogma. Of course, the dialogue may continue so that greater precision may be had by both persons, but such development of doctrine is not an impediment to the certainty of those statements that have been settled.

    The scriptural passages you cited and quoted are not helpful because they are not clear regarding willful, grave sin after justification, and you’d be hard pressed to find a NT passage that is more clear than Hebrews 10:26 which seemingly precludes such forgiveness. The passage from I John and the Lord’s Prayer speak about sins being forgiven, but not a wilful, deliberate sin. In fact, at the end of that same epistle, St. John speaks about a sin that can not be forgiven (I john 5:16-17). Wilful, deliberate sins are of a different category from sins of weakness found in both the Old and New Testaments. As for I Corinthians, the passage you cited has exegetical problems. There is debate on whether the man was saved as the Greek is not clear regarding whose “spirit” was saved (that of the man or the local church community?). The question of post-Baptismal, deliberate sins still remains open under the sola scriptura paradigm.

    Contrast that with the Catholic Church. There is no more question on the subject. The Church has unequivocally declared that willful, deliberate sin can be forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Hence, the epistemic superiority of a living authority over texts.

    You wrote:

    “The principle you’re advocating is “We said it; that settles it,” but in actuality the church appeals to the Scriptures to vindicate it’s reasoning. It’s not by mere fiat. The RCC properly points people back to the Scriptures. The only difference is that the RCC claims to be infallible when it does that, and Protestants simply say that they are themselves fallible but pointing to God’s revelation.”

    This is not quite right. The Church need not have a Scripture text to prove its dogmatic statements because Revelation is wider than Scripture.

    1. Hey Nick,

      You seem to be continually missing the point. You said,

      Sincere interlocutors can bring about mutual understanding within dialogue, especially if that dialogue is about dogma.

      The operative word here is *can.* It is a potentiality. I’m not denying that meaning is accessible, I’m only saying that it is not inevitable. Your language indicates the same thing, substantiating my point. I would encourage you to go read (or re-read) my initial article for contextualizing the scope and focus of the argument.

      You then said,

      The scriptural passages you cited and quoted are not helpful because they are not clear regarding willful, grave sin after justification, and you’d be hard pressed to find a NT passage that is more clear than Hebrews 10:26 which seemingly precludes such forgiveness

      Great, so you believe Hebrews 10:26 is teaching that post-baptismal sins cannot be forgiven? If not, why not? Simply rooting it in the decree of an interpreter is fideism.

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