"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)