How Not to Answer A Question-Hankadox Style

November 9, 2017

A Lordship Preface

Some time ago, John MacArthur, a somewhat popular evangelical preacher took a swipe at Hank Hanegraaff. I say swipe because in all fairness, that is what it was. MacArthur really doesn’t even try to be charitable. For example he designates the priestly cloth that is placed over the recipient’s head during the chrismation rite as a “rag” and derides it as infused with divine grace. That is of course a rather cheap shot. One has to wonder what Mr. MacArthur makes of Acts 19:12 after all.

MacArthur then goes on to cite the Confession of Dositheus, Decree 13, which I have referenced previously concerning Hank’s seeming inability to articulate a non-Protestant view of justification and disavow the Reformation teaching. The Decree is fairly clear inImage result for John MacArthur its denial of Sola Fide, so MacArthur is quite right to cite it on that score. I have no doubt though that MacArthur would be at great pains to explain what the view of justification expressed in it.  MacArthur goes on to say that the Orthodox, like Rome do not have the gospel and that they teach a false gospel. Perhaps he thought this would have significant shock value, but frankly that Protestants think so really isn’t news. Anyone shocked by it either hasn’t been paying attention or is completely ignorant of the Reformation.

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Life in a Windowless Monad

August 28, 2010


(Your Musical Accompaniment)

“These questions, however, have to be answered, from the point of view of systematic theology at least, by placing them within a much more radical framework, namely that of the fundamental question: Is the structure of the Christian Church in light of the gospel, monarchial or collegial? This question is undoubtably radical because it is asked, on the one hand, with the whole Christian people in mind and, on the other, from the point of view of what the Lord himself taught, that is, in the light of the gospel of Christ as a whole.

We may go further and say that, if the structure of the Church is conditioned by and subject to the norm of the gospel of Christ, we must base our argument less on the isolated descriptions or ideas of the Church which occur almost accidentally in the New Testament…and more on the general spirit of the words of the Lord as the origin of those images of the Church. That essentially new elemnt in the teaching of the Lord which distinguishes it from teaching contained in all the religions and ideaologies that have so far arisen in the history of man is the doctrine of the Trinity. This is the differentia specifica of Christianity.

In light of this faith in the Trinity, the Christian teaching about God’s being, the creation of the world and the cosmic mestaphysical order of the universe has always been different from that of other religions or ideaologies. It has, in a word, been trinitarian.  The idea of the Trinity is central, not only in the doctrine of the Christian Church, but also-and in the first place-in the teaching of the Lord himself. If this is so, then surely it is bound to inspire the whole task of the Christian Church to give a new structure to the created world. This brings us to the question of the relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and Christology.

At the most holy moment of his life on earth and just before he left this world, Christ prayed to his Father and at the same time expressed his most fervent desire: ‘I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.’ (John 17.20f.)

It is perhaps symptomatic that, in an attempt to stress the holiness of the ecumenical intention, these words are quoted nowaday at almost every meeting between Christians of different denominations. yet we usually think very little about these important words afterwards. The phrase ‘that they may be one’ expresses the practical and immediate aims of ecumenism better than the idea which follows, namely ‘as thou Father, art in me…’. But these words become even more meaningful perhaps if we remember that this exemplary mode of unity within the Trinity is the basic presupposition for the unity of the Church which we hope will be achieved. the importance of the whole passage is even further emphasized by the fact that Christ did not have a definite gorup of people, such as the apostles in mind when he spoke these words, but rather all those who believed in him and would believe in him throughout history.  It is this universal validity of the moral principle that is expressed here which gives it its distinctive and normative character.  This is why it must constitute the basic and first ecclesiolgy premise for all theological thinking at all times.

It is clear therefore that there must be a direct relationship between the doctrine of the Trinity and ecclesiology, a relationship expressed in fact in the striking parallel that exists between the fundamental theological questions of the Church’s Trinitarian and ecclesiological teaching. If the inner interrelationships that exist in the historical development of dogma in the Church have existed since the earliest times are borne in mind, it is not difficult to recognize that the main problem confronting all theological thinking throughout the history of the Church has always been the same-the fundamental question of the relationship between unity and multiplicity.

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Thank Heaven for Little Girls?

October 2, 2009

A while ago, I was reading the Papal encyclical, Allatae Sunt, by Pope Benedict 14th in 1755. The encyclical has much to say regarding Rome’s relations to the East and so it is a worthwhile read, though I don’t think it is always accurate. That is just to say that I am not Catholic. But then I ran across a series of statements that I desired to get clear on regarding women servers at the altar.

Pope Gelasius in his ninth letter (chap. 26) to the bishops of Lucania condemned the evil practice which had been introduced of women serving the priest at the celebration of Mass. Since this abuse had spread to the Greeks, Innocent IV strictly forbade it in his letter to the bishop of Tusculum: “Women should not dare to serve at the altar; they should be altogether refused this ministry.” We too have forbidden this practice in the same words in Our oft-repeated constitution Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 6, no. 21.

Allatae Sunt, sec. 29.

Now I am not clear on a few points and so I wish to invite informed Catholics to help get clear on them. What is the standing of this statement? Is it revisable or has it been revised? Is this a moral issue or a prudential one? And if the latter, how are we to understand the Pope’s terms of “evil practice?” How does this statement relate to the current practice in the Catholic Church of permitting female altar servers and lay eucharistic ministers? What does Vatican II have to say on the matter or is there some other sourece in the code of canon law that explains the history and reasoning behind the apparent moral revision here?

To be clear, I do not wish to make a claim or argument regarding current practice. I only wish to get clear on what exactly is going on here in relation to contemporary Catholic practice.

Windows 95 = Mac 86

December 27, 2007

I remember a long time ago seeing a bumper sticker that said something like the above title. Now I confess I am Windows user, primarily since it was the “tradition” that I received. But I recognize that in many ways Macs are better systems. With that I don’t mean to enter into that fracas that is the ongoing war between these two groups. But the bumper stick made an important point. MS users wanted to think of their way as being better until Windows essentially popularized the same general idea. Then the Mac idea was the cat’s meow.

Psychologically it is interesting to me that in theology and philosophy this kind of thing happens quite often, especially if you are Orthodox. Make a criticism of Augustine, and you are labeled a pariah, an ignoramous and your mother was a hampster. But if you’re Catholic, well then, things are much different! This seems to be the case over at Kimel’s blog at his most recent post.

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