"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Philosophy and Faith: Two replies

I wrote two brief replies involving the relation of philosophy and faith. One is to R. Scott Clark, and the other is to James Jordan.


Tom B. said...

Dear Bryan,

I am truly disappointed that Dr. Clark had to shut down his comments, and I hope that when his schedule clears a bit, he can devote some time to be more responsive to your arguments.

It seems as if he said that the Catholic Church cannot agree with Augustine on grace, and you gave an Augustinian quote indicating that Catholicism does agree with Augustine on grace, and he replied with the alternate pleadings that (a) Paul trumps Augustine anyway, and (b) there were effectively 'two' Augustines. This hardly seems like a rehabilitation of his claim that the Catholic view of grace is opposed to Augustine, in light of your quote.

So again, hoping the comment lock-down ends soon.

Peace in Christ,

R. Scott Clark said...


You've grossly misrepresented me in your response (th version I saw was on google docs to which I couldn't reply).

You've set up a straw man.

I've never argued for the kind of naivete and fideism which you impute to me.

I said there as I've said time and again, as I said in RRC (have you bothered to read the book?) we all read Scripture in some context. The difference between the Tridentine view and the Protestant view is that we believe that Scripture contextualizes the church and norms the church you Trent believes that the church contextualizes and (more importantly) norms the Scripture!

As I argued in RRC, there is a reciprocal relation between tradition and Scripture but one has to start somewhere and Scripture is not just any text. It is the Word of God. It has special status and it has the power to norm us. It speak the church into existence.

Of course we all read Scripture in a context which entails some philosophical commitments but Protestants believe that Scripture is able to transcend our epistemic and other philosophical problems.

The history of theology as I read it (and as some Roman Catholic historians) read it is the W. Church did place Scripture in a sort of captivity.

It wasn't Protestants who accused the church at the Fifth Lateran of being "corrupt in head and members." Trent recognized there were serious spiritual and theological problems. She gave the wrong diagnosis, however, and thus the wrong treatment but you should endeavor to leave the impression that it's only Protestant malcontents such as I who are imputing problems (e.g. a captivity) to the medieval W. church.

Bryan Cross said...


If you are acknowledging that you also bring philosophical assumptions to the interpretive process, then the following statement (from my reply) applies:

Either he must renounce the philosophical assumptions he brings to the interpretive process, or he must give some reason why his philosophical assumptions are acceptable and mine are not, so as to avoid special pleading.

So, why are your philosophical assumptions acceptable, and mine not?

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

あじ said...


In what way does Scripture transcend epistemic boundaries? How is this transcendence accomplished?

Why do you suppose one epistemology for Israelites enslaved under Pharaoh and another for the Apostolic age and yet another for today?