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A Disagreement I Think I Have with Together For the Gospel

I don’t have much trouble signing most Evangelical doctrinal statements. Normally, the shorter they are, the better. That is what it means to be Evangelical (at least in the 20th-century understanding of the term). When they get too long, I start to smell a little bit of magisterial institutionalization creeping back into the church. However, every organization has the right to spell out their doctrinal requirements according to their purpose of existence. The Credo House doctrinal statement (to which all employees must adhere) is pretty short. It is definitely Protestant, but we have tried to keep it as broadly Evangelical as we could. I did not even put anything in it about Calvinism! Why? Because it is the purpose of this doctrinal statement to represent the mission of Credo House, not the particular beliefs of Michael Patton.

This week Together for the Gospel (T4G) is holding is annual conference with lots of great stuff and lots of great speakers. I wish I could have been there. Now, I must confess that I don’t really know much about T4G or its exact purpose, but the name seems to suggest that they are purposed to bring a general community back “together” to the centrality of the Gospel message. Who could argue with that? The speakers they have placed on their list this year include C. J. Mahaney, Albert Mohler, John Piper, and Matt Chandler. When you have the likes of Carl Trueman relegated to doing a breakout session, then your list of main speakers must be out of this world! The list is definitely Reformed, so I don’t think T4G is trying to be too broad. Again, this is okay, depending on your purpose.

Many bloggers have been giving updates on the conference and I appreciate it. However, when I looked at Justin Taylor’s blog today, I found myself a bit confused. He posted a link to T4G’s doctrinal statement. I did not get past the first line before I realized that I could not sign it. I am not too particular on many things and I can manipulate some wording so that I am comfortable signing some things. I just don’t ask too many questions. However, the first line in this statement, if I am understanding it correctly, is a disqualifier for me. In fact, I am a bit confused that those who signed it could do so in good conscience as Evangelicals.

Here are the signers:

Here is the doctrinal statement in the form of affirmation and denials.

So, with what in the statement did I disagree, since I agreed with most of it? There are a few things here and there which give me some problems, but I don’t care to discuss those right now. The primary thing that I want to talk about is the first line in the first affirmation:

“We affirm that the sole authority for the Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy.”

I am not sure if you caught it, but it is something very important. I disagree that the Bible is the “sole authority for the Church.” No, I am not denying sola Scriptura. I believe very deeply in the authority of the Scripture. In fact, I think it is a key issue in Christianity. However, sola Scriptura does not and has never meant that the Scripture is the “sole” authority for the church. Sola Scriptura means that the Scripture is the final and only infallible authority for the individual and the church in matters of faith and practice. But it is not the only authority. There are many other authorities. Protestant Christians believe that tradition, reason, and (many times) experience are lesser authorities to which individual Christians must submit. Are they fallible authorities? Yes, but they are authorities nonetheless.

Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, spoke of three of these while defending himself at Worms in his great “Here I Stand” speech:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason-for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves-I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture.”

Notice that Scripture and reason (“or by evident reason”) are authorities in his life. As well, though he understands that traditions (“popes and councils”) have “contradicted themselves,” he does still respect these as authorities (as evidence from the word “alone” after “pope and councils”). From statements such as these we construct what we call “Luther’s Trilateral.” Luther believed in three sources of authority for the church: Scripture, reason, and tradition. Of these, the Scripture is the final and only infallible source. We often express it in this way: the Scripture is the norma normans sed non normata (“norm that norms which is not normed”). Another way to put it is that the Scripture is the source that judges all other sources and is not judged by them.

John Wesley, the great Arminian evangelist, held to four sources, often called the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral.” Like Luther, he believed that the Bible is the final and only infallible source, but he also believed in the authority of reason and tradition. To these he added one more: experience. I am not sure Luther would have necessarily disagreed with this, but my point is not to enter into that debate. My point is to show that the phrase “the sole authority for the Church is the Bible” is not within the best traditions of Reformed Protestantism. In fact, it would be more associated with the “radical reformation” which has been, for the most part, repudiated by traditional Protestants for, among other things, their outright rejection of tradition as an authority.

Think of it another way: Without tradition being an authority we would not even have the Scriptures themselves, as it is only through tradition that we know what Scripture is actually Scripture. The Scriptures have no place where there is an inspired list telling us which books belong in the Scripture (we call this the “canon” of Scripture). It is through the traditions of the church that we know which books are the final authority. Therefore, tradition must be an authority to some degree.

Now, much of Fundamentalism has been known to mistakenly define sola Scriptura in a way that appears as if Scripture is the sole authority.  I get that. Have you ever heard someone say “If it ain’t in the Bible, then I don’t believe it”? But this is not Evangelical. Even R.C. Sproul says the belief that the Scripture is the “sole authority” is not sola Scriptura, but nuda Scriptura (nothing but the Scripture). (See this work for a good history of sola Scriptura.) In fact, this is one of the main distinctions between the Puritans and the Anglicans. The Puritans were more inclined to believe that Scripture was the only authority for the Church. The Anglicans were not. This is where I really appreciate the historic Anglican church. I think they were on the right side of the debate here. (See this work for a more definitive distinction between Puritans and  Anglicans on this issue.)

If you are still not convinced, think of all the places where the Scriptures themselves speak of other authorities for the Christian. Parents are in authority over their children (Eph. 6:1). Husbands are in authority over their wives (Eph. 5:22). People are to submit to the authority of the government, since there is “no authority which is not from God” (Rom. 13:1). And the Scripture even talks about the church (elders) being in authority over its members: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they watch over your souls” (Heb. 13:17). If elders/pastors were not an authority in the church, how could we ever hope to practice church discipline? Of course all of these other authorities (parents, husbands, government, elders) are fallible, as are reason and experience. But this does not mean that they are irrelevant. One does not have to be infallible to be in authority.

It is for this reason that I don’t think I could sign the T4G doctrinal statement. Of course, these are all smart chaps (much more so than me!) and must know this. Therefore, I think I may be misunderstanding what they mean when they say, “We affirm that the sole authority for the Church is the Bible.” I just wish it was worded differently. But, as it stands, I could not sign the T4G doctrinal statement in good conscience.

117 Responses to “A Disagreement I Think I Have with Together For the Gospel”

  1. Wow..big statement. :) I wouldn’t sign it either. But then again I have deep reservations about the TG4 and the restless reformed movement…Btw..kudus for not making the Credo House statement of faith a Calvinistic statement…

  2. Personally I find it wryly ironic that a group dedicated to only being about gathering around the Gospel would include in their DS a statement on complementarianism. (mea culpa: I am complementarian) How is that the Gospel? Why is it important enough to put in the DS of the organization?

  3. John, I am with you there too. Interesting. That is why I am not sure I quite understand their purpose.

  4. Michael,

    Thanks for bringing up this important issue. I usually think of the Wesleyan quadrilateral as a good basis for thinking through these kinds of things, but I also assume the Holy Spirit is present in all decision-making.

    It seems to me that by making the Bible the “sole” authority, the writers and drafters of this document run the risk of replacing belief in an active, trinitarian God with belief in the Bible.

    Thanks for taking a stand here.

  5. The bit that gets me scratching my head is where some of these geezers who band together won’t share the Lord’s Supper together [but i think that’s The Gospel Coalition, not this group].
    I’m with John Piper on that one.

  6. In the vast majority of examples you provided, I would still say the Bible is the authority. For example, parents may be an authority for children, and as you stated, are fallible ones at that. When they are fallible, maybe it is because they are not adhering to the Bible as the authority in their lives (or maybe don’t understand it enough to adhere to it). So I can see almost all authority leading back to the Bible (being the final authority seems to me to mean that it is the only necessary authority).

    The one wrinkle you mentioned, is tradition. Since we would not have the Bible without tradition, maybe that is a lesser authority in some way.

    Interesting thoughts. I will have to ponder this more in the coming days.

    David

  7. I wonder if it was brought to their attention, whoever ‘they’ are meaning the drafters and approvers of the statement, if they would modify how it is written? I think it is a mistake in wording. Only the ‘living under a rock’ class of Fundamentalist when pushed! would say that scripture is the ‘only’ authority. In an ironic way the Fundamentalist that would insist scripture is the only authority would probably be one with a long list of do’s and don’ts still hopped up from shouting down his deacons at his last board meeting. Nice catch though! Way to turn the tables on taking a stand on what not sign, I wouldn’t have seen it. And nice use of the catch in making a good point.

  8. If I had caught the mistake, and was a man :-) I still would have signed. I’m trying to imagine how something could go awry from it. How could that be inforced on what authority?

  9. David Onder makes a good point about all authority leading back to the Bible. Ultimately I think this is correct. Traditions, experience and other sources of authority must be subordinated to Scripture. But I think experience tells us that in some cases we don’t yet have a perfect understanding, or at least application, of Scripture. If we did there would not be as many theological differences among equally yoked Christians. Other sources (like tradition et, al) help with the understanding and applicability and therefore become sources of authority.

    Another thought… it’s interesting in that first statement that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are excluded as authorities. I trust that their intent is to say that the Bible as the authority automatically assumes Jesus’ authority (Eph. 5:23), but again I get stuck on the “sole authority” statement.

  10. What is the real point of any of this, beside to have a snazzy conference?

  11. Very interesting post. From the Lutheran Martin Chemnitz’s Examination of the Council of Trent (from the 1560s – was well-known by Protestants at the time), we can gather this:

    “The concept of a contemporaneous existence of the Word of God in a corrupted verbal form, and a pure written form, spawned Chemnitz’s explanation of traditiones in the second locus, De traditionibus. Here he lists the first of eight different types of traditiones as Scripture itself, i.e. the things that Christ and the Apostles preached orally and were later written down. Then follows: 2) the faithful transmission of the Scriptures; 3) the oral tradition of the Apostles (which by its very nature must agree with the contents of the New Testament canon); 4) the proper interpretation of the Scriptures received from the Apostles and “Apostolic men”; 5) dogmas that are not set forth in so many words in Scripture but are clearly apparent from a sampling of texts; 6) the consensus of true and pure antiquity;…

  12. …7) rites and customs that are edifying and believed to be Apostolic, but cannot be proved from Scripture. Chemnitz rejects only the eighth kind of tradition: [8] traditions pertaining to faith and morals that cannot be proved with any testimony of Scripture; but which the Council of Trent commanded to be accepted and venerated with the same reverence and devotion as the Scripture. The important element of this last of the traitiones appears not to be the fact that such traditions of faith and morals not provable from Scripture actually existed, but that their status of equality with Scripture was foisted upon the church by the Council of Trent.” P. Strawn, Cyril of Alexandria as a Source for Martin Chemnitz, in Die Patristik in der Bibelexegese des 16. Jahrhunderts, Wolfenbu”ttleler Forschungen, Bd. 85, Hrsg. v. David C. Steinmetz, Wiesbaden 1999, p. 213-14.

  13. In a debate with the Roman Catholic apologist Dave Armstrong***, I focused on tradition number 8, the *only* one Chemnitz rejected. Notice the argument of Paul Strawn: the fact that these traditions existed was not necessarily the problem. The problem was that these traditions regarding faith and morals which were not provable from Scripture were to be regarded as equal to those clearly demonstrable from Scripture. I take this to mean that they were to be considered central or essential teachings – i.e. as going hand in hand with the rule of faith – and that a refusal to acknowledge them at such (see p. 296 of the Examen, v. 1) would result in separating one’s self from the Church, and therefore Christ. This Chemnitz rightly rejected (see p. 269 and 306 of the Examen, v. 1)

    ***-http://infanttheology.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/my-reply-to-rc-apologist-dave-armstrong-regarding-his-examination-of-martin-chemnitzs-examination/ (there were 2 other rounds to this debate)

  14. I’ve heard a lot about this sola/solo issue lately. I don’t own a copy of Mathison’s book, but I am curious about the history of this issue…could someone please put in a nutshell for me—how long has this been debated? Or, when was this distinction made-hundreds of years ago or in relatively modern times? I guess Calvin was a pretty big church authority guy, wasn’t he.

  15. This seems like straining out a gnat to me. I have read and listened to enough of these guys materials to know that the very points of contention you have brought up are ones they embrace. I have to wonder if there isn’t another unspoken objection. No offense, I appreciate you and T4G!

  16. I think they would explain the nuda scriptura reference by saying, well, all those things you mentioned are in the scripture, so therefore we are right – only scripture.

    The fundis amoung them would go futher and start drawing fences saying only what is specifically mentioned are legitimate other authorities.

  17. That is what it means to be Evangelical (at least in the 20th-century understanding of the term).

    CMP –

    That’s the problem. You’re still working with a 20th century paradigm, rather than 21st. :D

  18. Now for a real comment. :)

    CMP –

    I know you argued that sola scriptura points to Scripture as the final and only infallible authority, rather than the sole authority for the Christian. And, normally, people say that solo (with an “o”) scriptura is about Scripture being the sole authority. But this is where I have a problem with the wording.

    Think of some of the other 5 solas:

    Sola fide (“by faith alone”)
    Sola gratia (“by grace alone”)
    Solus Christus or Solo Christo (“Christ alone” or “through Christ alone”)
    Soli Deo gloria (“glory to God alone”)

    In each of these, the word sola (or its derivative) points to that of alone. So why would one not interpret just that with sola scriptura….Scripture alone?

    This is why I prefer prima scriptura. Start in Scripture, but it might not be the only or final authority, as it is not a how-to manual on all topics, both of normal life and Christian belief/practise.

    Hope that makes sense.

  19. Scott, I agree.

    I think that the spirit of sola Scriptura is really prima scriptura. However, some, especially in the Catholic (some) and Orthodox tradition, do believe that the Scripture can be the final or ultimate authority, but not the only infallible authority. In other words, there are other authorities that are infallible but not equal to Scripture. I don’t really know how to process that. And some would refer to this view as prima Scriptura.

    Nevertheless, Thomas Aquinas was on our side! :)

    …[S]acred doctrine…properly uses the authority of the canonical Scriptures as an incontrovertible proof, and the authority of the doctors of the Church as one that may properly be used, yet merely as probable. For our faith rests upon the revelation made to the apostles and prophets who wrote the canonical books, and not on the revelations (if any such there are) made to other doctors. (Summa 1.1.8)

  20. Oh, and just so I don’t leave the East out:

    Gregory of Nyssa:
    “Let the inspired Scriptures then be our umpire, and the vote of truth will be given to those whose dogmas are found to agree with the Divine words.” (On the Holy Trinity, NPNF, p. 327)

    Kaboom. Bring it baby.

  21. The Eastern Fathers measured their doctrine up to Scripture? What? Really? They held to sola Scriptura as we understand it today?

    Kaboom is right!

    Nice one boss man!

  22. Oh, allow me one more. Basil:

    “We are not content simply because this is the tradition of the Fathers.  What is important is that the Fathers followed the meaning of the Scripture.” (On the Holy Spirit, 7.16)

    Love it.

  23. What if we assumed one word?

    “We affirm that the sole authority for the (universal) Church is the Bible, verbally inspired, inerrant, infallible, and totally sufficient and trustworthy.”

    Is one person’s reason or experience the authority over the universal church? Is Calvin’s reason, or Luther’s experience, or Wesley’s tradition an authority over the universal Church? Is the Anglican tradition an authority over the universal church? Are the elder’s of my local church an authority over the universal church? Are my parents authorities over my local church even?

  24. Though I am a “card-carrying” Calvinist, I think T4G should change to T4OG – Together for our Gospel.

    Yes, that’s tongue-in-cheek, but it seems rather apparent that their concept of gospel is rather narrow. It’s one of the reasons I’m more comfortable with the Gospel Coalition, as they are a bit more “diverse,” and I’m more comfortable that Keller and Carson won’t go too fundie on us. Ha ha!

  25. Yeah, it is hard. Almost all of the Evangelical conferences which are theological in nature are Calvinistic. Almost all the Evangelical conferences that are apologetic in nature are Arminian. And almost all of the conferences that are leadership in nature don’t have much of a theology.

    There has got to be a better way to bring Evangelicals together!

  26. @CMP: You are in good form today! Love your quotes from a few Fathers, and of course Luther! :) I like the term ‘prima scriptura’ also, but so often “theolog’s” just press their own agenda anyway, and change or press the proper definitions!

    The Wesleyan Quadrilateral is sweet to my mind! I am blessed to be a historic Anglican! Btw, I just picked-up (yesterday) at a small used book store, a few mint older Eerdman’s hardbacks (with dustjackets) of the grand old Anglican, W.H. Griffith Thomas…his Roman’s, The Apostle John (Studies In His Life And Writings), and Acts. (I had, had them in paper) This is best for Sermon material! It’s like they were in a time machine..they are so clean, like-new for there age! Yeah, I am “stoked”! ;)

  27. I’ve seen “sole authority” as a straw man for Sola Scriptura by some non-protestants before, but this is the first time I’ve seen major evangelicals take the bait.

  28. Hmm…I don’t think it’s as simple as “kaboom”.

    I am mindful that your education dwarfs mine, but it just seems to me that you are confusing the Fathers with Divine Revelation. Of course the fathers are fallible. Divine Revelation (Jesus) is transmitted to us through Scripture and Tradition. The fathers and “Tradition” are not the same thing. Maybe one could say that the fathers provide us an “echo” of revelation.

    Here’s another Aquinas:
    The formal object of faith is Primary Truth as manifested in Holy Scripture and in the teaching of the Church which proceeds from the Primary Truth. hence, he who does not embrace the teaching of the Church as a divine and infallible law does not possess the habit of faith’ [from Summa Theologica, II-II, q. 5, a. 3]

  29. Btw, it is here that every Reformational and Reformed pastor-teacher should have a copy of Richard Muller’s book, the – Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology! Also I wish I could give everyone a copy of W.H. Griffith Thomas’s book: The Principles Of Theology, An Introduction to the Thirty-Nine Articles, 547 pages! (But I fear long OP now?) My copy is hardback, 1963. Sad so many fine books are now out-of-print!

  30. Article 1 is subtle enough that I would have missed it; however, when you consider that the word, “affirm” means to agree with the validity of something, you’ve got to be sure that the “something” is evident from the Scriptures. The Scriptures say they are profitable for doctrine, etc., which implies a working-out of proper belief and practices, which in turn might become traditions in the Church, etc., but all are subject to the final authority of the Scriptures used to formulate them.
    And frankly, it seems a little weird that all the “We deny” statements sound like a polemic against the “Emergent Church” doctrines disputed so hotly today.
    I wouldn’t sign it.

  31. “Tradition is either an exposition of apostolic doctrine, or an addition to it. If an exposition, how is it to be shown that the Reformation branch of the Church was wrong. If an addition, what becomes of the claim for the apostolicity of all Catholic doctrine?” (P.T. Forsyth, The Principle of Authority, page 359, Note.)

    And as WH Griffith Thomas writes: “Thus, insecurity of tradition constitutes the supremacy of the Bible the charter of spiritual freedom. It is a great mistake to think that the function of the Church is settle definitely evey question of difficulty as it arises, for no trace can be found of any such view, either in Scripture, or in the Creeds, or in the early Church history.”

  32. The grave problem with signing or not signing these kind of so-called Evangelical Statements, is of course the question: Do they really have any anthority? Note the Chicago statement! No doubt there is truth there, but perhaps it presses truth too far, or into kind of a box?

    But then of course, as has been mentioned what do we do with the “emergents”? Again, the Church is always a Pilgrim Body of earth, we all return over and over to the Text of Holy Scripture, rather than our human creeds alone, not throwing them out, no, but still returning to the Holy Writ itself, as we read our creeds. Here I love John Frame’s ethical triad: ‘God’s goovernance of our ethical life: revelation, providence, presence. (DCL, 24.)

  33. Having read through the list of affirmations and denials, it is clear that they are skewed by the need to incorporate “Reformed Baptist” approaches to ecclesiology and the sacraments. Baptists and Reformational Catholics (i.e. Protestants) cannot “Stand Together” for the gospel (in the robust sense as one visible body of Christ on earth) until they can agree (just to give a few examples):

    1. What constitutes a Holy Order (i.e. a valid ordination to preach and minister).
    2. What baptism is, upon whom it is to be administered, and what role it plays in salvation.
    3. What the Lord’s supper is, how it operates as a means of grace, and what role it plays in salvation.
    4. What is the status of infants within the Church.
    5. What the Church is to start with. How is it constituted, what form does it take, and who are its members.
    6. What role the Scriptures play in relation to theological definition and the catholic and patristic tradition.

  34. They lost me before the first article, when they used the introduction to talk about how the Gospel is in danger, but take heart! T4G is here to make sure the gates of hell don’t prevail. “Here we come to save the day!” (Yeah, I’m old)

    @Rick in comment 10: it’s a lot more convenient to pat each other on the back when you’re together at the same conference.

  35. it’s no Nicene Creed

  36. After reading the Credo House doctrinal statement, I’m not sure if I could agree with it in its present wording, primarily because I believe that Christ is in heaven making “intercession” for man, not in a period between two academic sessions (intersession).

    In all serious, though, I appreciate the distinction you made in your post.

  37. CMP,

    Can you clarify what you meant about the canon of Scripture and tradition?

    For instance, to pick a phrasing out of thin air, would you agree that it is God who expended “the necessary effort to make sure that the church receives the blessing and gift he has given to us in Scripture”? i.e., It is God who ensured that the body of Christ would know which books are inspired? And Isaiah 55:11 is a basis for our confidence in this?

    And when God worked to establish our knowledge of the canon, He did so without conferring or creating any special authority in the extrabiblical traditions of the Church? His work to establish the canon doesn’t imply we should put extra weight in extrabiblical traditions & church pronouncements?

    We should evaluate tradition in general as historically-passed-down ideas from fellow Christians? Potentially true, but not having any particular divine authority?

  38. P.S. Would you say your comment about tradition had to do with the historical manuscripts & other documents that were passed down to us? The fallible documents that report the results of the work God did? These listings are fallible, but nonetheless accurately reflect God’s infallible knowledge of which books He actually did inspire? Were you referring to these fallible documents as “tradition”?

    Either way, instead of me asking leading questions, can you clarify in your own words what you meant by saying that these traditions have authority?

  39. Yes, the language in article 1 is a bit unfortunate at that specific point. But I can’t imagine that anybody who signed that would actually deny that Jesus Christ is the Head (authority!) of the Church, right? (an assertion logically denied if Scripture is literally the SOLE authority.) Lesson learned: We should just stick with language like “final authority in all matters of faith and practice.” Whenever we start to get creative with our doctrinal statement language rather than simply adopting consensual or “tried and true” expressions, we end up in these kinds of pickles.

  40. Jug,

    What I am talking about is the rule of faith and the Vincentian Canon. While there is much more to this than the canon, such as the articulations of Nicea, it stand guard to the Scripture. In this sense it is a definite authority.

    Hope that helps.

  41. @David Carlson, LOL!

    @CMP, you quoted Basil the Great, who’s Liturgy I attended today. We heard A LOT of Scripture during those 2 hours.

    I think this T4G is fooling themselves if they do not think that they have a “tradition”. Of course they do; every church does. And the most important “tradition” is “interpretation of the Scriptures”!

    As you point out, the early Church of the 4th & 5th centuries assembled the current canon of the New Testament. We all believe (I hope!) that they were guided by the Holy Spirit.

    “Then why did you kiss an icon of Mary the Theotokos today in church, Pete? That’s not in the Bible!”, you may ask. My response: the eastern church (incl Basil) believes in the Incarnation as an part of our Salvation, specifically Jesus assuming our human nature. Who did God select, out of billions, for his human nature? Mary. She must have been very holy! (Luther agreed). That’s why we venerate her. Anyway, that is all in the Bible…via Orthodox…

  42. And Jug, to answer your first question: yes! God’s sheep hear his voice. I think the canon of Scriptire is very organic.

  43. I have had two people write to me and say that this was brought up in an open discussion at T4G and they clarified that they did not mean “sole”.

  44. Good discussion on the topic; but, I have to adopt James White’s opinion that if the canon formed-up within an historical tradition and not by supernatural selection then the Roman Catholic like myself can take down sola scriptura without a lot of effort.

  45. @Michael: Not sure if I have shared this link before? So forgive me if this repeats itself, but here is a nice and somewhat older link about the Vincentian Canon/Rule & Anglicanism.

    http://anglicanhistory.org/grafton/v6/180.html

  46. CMP wrote:

    “Almost all of the Evangelical conferences which are theological in nature are Calvinistic. Almost all the Evangelical conferences that are apologetic in nature are Arminian. And almost all of the conferences that are leadership in nature don’t have much of a theology.”

    That is an interesting observation and you should do a post on that situation.

  47. Indeed the balance and even education of today’s theological churchmen are questionable? As I have said and noted, the Judeo-Christian culture has taken a beating today, especially as many Christian reformed label themselves “postmodern”.

  48. Michael,

    Quoting from St. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa does not boost or give credence to the Protestant position. Both of these men understood the Church to be something quite different from the Protestant Reformers – one reason being that there were no Protestants in existance during their lifetimes. Their understanding of ecclesiology was both incarnational and mystical (as in its Christian definition).

    As an Orthodox Christian, we honor both St. Basil and St. Gregory as men who had the authority to teach within the Church. However, the Church they knew, and the Church that the Orthodox understand her to be is not fragmented into various confessions and beliefs as to the meaning of Holy Scripture. The interpretation of Holy Scripture must be perceived and discerned from the mind of the Church, that life that has existed within her for 2,000 yrs. and which gave her the authority to come together in Ecumenical Councils, declaring doctrine and exposing/refuting heresy.

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