Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Protestants Abandoning Sola Scriptura

Can only be a good thing, right? Especially when the main complaint in this article by Bob DeWaay is that said abandonment is leading them into the Church. Thanks to Dave Hartline at The Catholic Report for the link. A few comments on the article:

I think Mr. DeWaay is absolutely correct in his criticisms of guys like Schuller and Warren, though for different reasons. How many of the Gospel writers or Church Fathers would have reflected on the horror of sin and said that it was really just a big self-esteem problem? Yet, as DeWaay quotes from Schuller, that's exactly the approach that these kinds of thinkers are taking. Their theologies (if one can even call them that) are completely dependent on folks and their feelings, as though suffering is not part of Christianity. Does anybody think that "taking up the Cross" sounds like something fun and that this entire earthly pilgrimage is going to be all roses and rainbows? Sects such as this are more of a self-help movement than anything else.

Wagner's take on things is just as bad, as it leads to the denial of most Truth altogether. It indeed takes an authority to proclaim Truth. When there is no objective principle of authority, we are led back to subjective feelings and experiences. These cannot be markers for Truth, as they have no objective Truth of themselves.

Ah, the Emergent Church. Has anybody been able to figure out what this movement even is? All my research and experience with those involved in it has led to a conclusion that it is a formless body of searching souls who have gravitated around a charismatic pastor-type who has nothing to offer but, yes, it's that word again, feelings. DeWaay is right when he says that the mantra is "we don't know." All they seem to know is that God loves them (so they got that going for them) and that, if you're a nice person, you go to heaven (sounds familiar). Completely dead in the realm of theology. Utter deconstruction of Christian belief. Total confusion. But they throw a really nice party.

It isn't until we get to the last couple of paragraphs that I really begin to part ways with Mr. DeWaay. He essentially claims that acesticism is nowhere in the Bible. All that stuff about prayer, fasting, denying oneself, and not being of this world was just for laughs, I suppose. Seriously, though, this is where the rubber begins meeting the road, as Mr. DeWaay demonstrates the problem with his position without meaning to.

We see a lot of quotes from Scripture in his article. Not one snippet provides any support for WHY the Reformation view of Scripture as "the formal principle" is actually true. From my experience, the Protestants who return to the Church rather than falling into the novelties already mentioned did so because they discovered that sola scriptura is nowhere in the Bible itself. Nor can the canon itself be discerned from Scripture alone. The breakdown in logic is what returns people to Rome. DeWaay ultimately fails because, while he provides excellent arguments for the problems with stuff like the Emergent Church, he does nothing to address the issue he is supposedly most concerned about: Protestants becoming Catholic.

A few other items:

1. "If the Bible is insufficient in regard to the spiritual practices that we need in order to become sanctified, where do we find them?"

Try 2 Thessalonians 2:15 and all those things that flow from it.

2. "If it is impossible to grow in grace without solitude, why are we not informed of this fact by the Biblical writers?"

Where did the Biblical writers tell us that everything needed to grow in grace is in the Bible?

3. "This danger was shown by the early desert fathers, some of whom came under demonic torment in their solitude."

So now the Fathers are reliable? Extreme aceticism, like that of the Desert Fathers, is not for everyone. However, the fact that it is a path to extraordinary holiness for those called to such a life is clear from their own accounts. The demonic attacks they suffered were because of Satan's frustration at being unable to tempt them. Once the world and the flesh are excised, one can expect the Devil to increase his efforts dramatically.

4. The comparison of Catholicism to Eastern meditative practices is lame. Eastern practices seek annihilation of the self, rather than sanctification of the self. Such practices in the East tend towards the heresy of quietism. Using Merton as an example is grasping at straws. Merton's later writings when he became enamored of these practices skirt a very thin line and probably shouldn't be read by Catholics at all.

5. The close-out has DeWaay shifting gears back away from all his concrete examples to refocus on Catholicism, which bears no resemblance to the movements he has been arguing against. It is good that God did not leave us orphans, or in the unfortunate shape of Christians in the first four centuries of the Faith who had no Bible at all. Living without any "formal principle" whatsoever must have been quite the struggle.

Or maybe He left us His Flesh and Blood (John 6), the Keeper of the Keys (Matthew 16:18), and a Cloud of Witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) to strengthen and sustain our spiritual lives.


Jessica said...

First: Good work on the blog. I've enjoyed visiting.

More on point: I also thought it was rather absurd of DeWaay to say that belief in the tangible example of Christ's blood in the Eucharist somehow takes less faith than believing in his crucifixion. Ridiculous. The Eucharist may be tangible, but it is hardly self-explanatory or easily understood. It's a Mystery--it takes more faith to affirm than deny. (This is not to say, of course, that we don't have evidence for our faith.)

Haskovec said...

Also on the point 3 you made, it makes me think of how Padre Pio would be beaten by Demons. That is something from fairly recent times, so I think it goes along with what you are saying in that the Devil turns up the heat on those very holy people.