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

Friday, February 25, 2011

Michael Liccione and Neal Judisch Reply to Keith Mathison

Sacra Conversazione
Fra Angelico (c. 1443)
Michael Liccione and Neal Judisch have both written replies to Keith Mathison's Reply.

Michael's article is titled "Mathison’s Reply to Cross and Judisch: A Largely Philosophical Critique." In it he focuses on what he claims is the most important philosophical issue in the debate, namely, that the disagreement is paradigmatic, that is, that the differences between the Protestant and Catholic positions are not intra-paradigmatic, but involve two distinct paradigms that must be understood as distinct paradigms to be understood rightly and to be compared properly. In other words, resolving the disagreement requires comparing the paradigms, and thus comparing the framework that constitutes the respective paradigms. Michael examines and compares the interpretive paradigms operative between Catholicism and Protestantism, and explains how those paradigms can be evaluated against each other.

Neal's article is titled, "Some Preliminary Reflections on Mathison’s Dialectic." In it he offers a critical evaluation of Keith's claim that the principled distinction between Solo Scriptura and Sola Scriptura is visible to the inquirer only if the inquirer presupposes Catholic ecclesiology. Neal argues that Keith's claim is not plausible, and that it does not address the argument we raised in our 2009 article "Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority." He writes:

[T]he “Catholic presupposition-induced blindness” to the distinction Mathison draws is a putative psychological-cum-epistemological fact about Catholics. But the allegation that our case for the No Distinction Thesis is “circular and question-begging” is a putative fact about the logic of the argument. And there is a principled distinction between these things, which Mathison has perhaps not seen. For arguments (like offspring) need not inherit their parents’ defects; a fortiori when the defects are of categorically different kinds.

Once an argument marches forth into the wider world, the umbilical cord is severed and it takes on a life very much its own – to be praised or to be blamed in accord with its merits. And no amount of blaming its authors for blindness can imply that an argument they gave is guilty of circularity. For it is at any rate possible that Bryan and I in Athenian fashion groped hazily about, read incautiously and uncharitably, or embraced the No Distinction Thesis merely via some quasi-Freudian wish-fulfillment mechanism; but, like the proverbial blind hog, we might for all that have delivered into the world an acorn without so much as knowing how we’d done it.

(continue reading Neal's article)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keith Mathison's Reply

In November of 2009, Neal Judisch and I posted an article titled "Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and the Question of Interpretive Authority." The article provoked a good deal of discussion, the comments now number over 1,200. Our article was a reply to Keith Mathison's book The Shape of Sola Scripura, and focused on the distinction Keith makes between sola scriptura and what he calls "solo scriptura."

Keith Mathison

In his book Keith argued strongly against solo scriptura, and endorsed sola scriptura as the rightful alternative. In our article, we argued that there is no essential difference between solo scriptura and sola scriptura. The defining feature of solo scriptura is the retention by each individual of ultimate interpretive authority, but under sola scriptura, each individual likewise retains ultimate interpretive authority, even if that fact is somewhat hidden by forming associations of those sharing similar interpretations of Scripture and appointing officers among such associations.

Last year Keith assured us that he would write a reply. Yesterday, he announced that he has completed his reply. It can be read at the following link: "Solo Scriptura, Sola Scriptura, and Apostolic Succession: A Response to Bryan Cross and Neal Judisch." A pdf version of his reply is available here. I expect that in the coming weeks we will write a reply to Keith's reply; in the mean time, follow the discussion of Keith's reply here.