Francis Turretin vs the Called to Communion apologetic.

Discussion in 'Apologetical Methods' started by johnbugay, Jan 24, 2015.

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  1. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    Of course, there is an anachronism pitting Turretin vs CTC. However, Turretin described a method, which, when distilled through Newman, describes the Called to Communion apologetic perfectly.

    Turretin says, in summary form, … that Protestants (rightly) look to Scripture, and they determine what “the true faith” is by studying and understanding what the Scriptures say on a doctrine-by-doctrine, or point-by-point basis. And this needs to be done. But Catholics, Turretin says, simply sweep all of this aside with one motion. They say, “We are The Church, and we decide what ‘the true faith’ is.” This imbalance in this form of argumentation accounts for many of the misunderstandings that continue to occur in these types of discussions in our day.

    Triablogue: The big Roman Catholic apologetic thumb on the scales
  2. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    Very nicely done, John.
  3. jwright82

    jwright82 Puritan Board Graduate

    Nice. Yeah it is autonomy really, Catholics will not submit completely to scripture.
  4. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    As always, nice to see you around. Keep up the good work.
  5. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Great article John. Great to have yo posting here again.

    I think you know that I'm a former Roman Catholic and I have many in my family that are very devout. They listen to Catholic Answers regularly.

    The thing I've noticed listening to my family (and to RCC apologists in general) is that they want it to be true and so it is. It seems the common theme of those who argue against Protestantism is really the conviction that the unity spoken of in John 17 has to be present in some earthly institution that I can point to. Once they're identified that as the papacy then everything else will be shaved off to fit the Procrustrean bed of their conviction. James White is right to point out that you don't ever really hear converts expressing the kind of joy that you see in evidence of conversion in the NT but a joy in the sense that they can now rest from the angst of uncertainty.

    From an interpretative standpoint, once one has convinced themselves what the answers are then the entire Scriptures become a grab bag of verses. This is true of any cult (or even any Protestant on a hobby horse) that the focus moves away from the text's syntax, meaning, genre, etc because what really matters about Scripture is that it reinforces what you already know.

    It's sort of like collecting famous quotes. We're not really interested in everything someone had to say but someone is bound to say something profound and so we collect the quote and post it because the quote is meaningful within the framework of how we already view things. This is so with Roman Catholics and the Scriptures. It's a huge "quote book". You don't go to the Scriptures as a Roman Catholic to test what you know but you use it for aphorisms or sayings that reinforce what you already know. "Isn't it wonderful that Mary is sinless and, look, the angel says she's full of grace...." It's like the Jehovah's witness that finds what he's looking for any time he wants to confirm that Jesus is created.

    I think of the Roman Catholic Church as a huge parable. I look at them in much the same way I see the Pharisees and Saducees. The Son of God is standing in their midst. The Word of God is being exegeted to them but it simply does not work for them. It doesn't really matter to them that Christ shuts them down appealing to the Scriptures because the Scriptures are only there to reinforce what the Talmud has already convinced them is the case. I even once had a Roman Catholic friend tell me that he knew Catholicism was true because it was so much like the Jewish religion. I thought: "Are you kidding? That's exactly why I know it's not."

    It's a parable because we can all be so self-deceived. We want things to be true and so we even think we're "exegeting" when we're not. Thus when you write:

    I think this is generally true but I don't know that I completely agree. It is inevitable that, as evidence is accumulated, one starts to systematize and, in the process of systemization, the accumulation of "evidence" is affected. We are not merely inductive but deductive. When we come to passages that talk about the suffering of the Son, we take a lot of information that we know about the hypostatic union from historical and systematic theology with us.

    The thing that separates us from RCC is not that we don't use historical and systematic theology but that we always remember that we don't create the Word by our theology but that the Word has created the Church and so we always have to test what we hold by the Word of God.

    Blessings to your apologetic efforts!
  7. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Great point. This reminds me of The Book of Revelation where Our Lord, or "The Word", tests the churches.
  8. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Rich, that's a great post. There's some lines there definitely worth sharing with others.
  9. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Reminds me of what Prof Scott Clark calls "The Quest for Illegitimate Religious Certainty." I see it in EO converts.
  10. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Quote Originally Posted by Semper Fidelis View Post
    James White is right to point out that you don't ever really hear converts expressing the kind of joy that you see in evidence of conversion in the NT but a joy in the sense that they can now rest from the angst of uncertainty.

    There is also another side: a lot of the convertskii get really angry when they see you have joy in the faith that left them unsatisfied. That's why they will find a lot of arcane arguments on theology and church history and then go bully 17 year old girls from youth group on why Protestantism is wrong. I almost went down that path and it's the grace of God that got me out of it.
  11. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    And I'm very grateful that the Lord spared you from such a fate, Jacob.

    May the Lord use the gifts He has given you toward His glory. I would urge you to keep before you the eternity you have in Him and do great things for the Kingdom as you have seen firsthand what a pitiful state it is to be in spiritual bondage. May you rejoice in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Church.
  12. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Thank you, Rich.
  13. johnbugay

    johnbugay Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks Rich :)

    I'm not denying either the value of or the process of systematization, but rather, I'm thinking of a section from Muller's "The Unaccommodated Calvin", pg 108 ff, where he describes the rise of "the locus" or "topos" in the logic an dialectic of the later middle ages, the Renaissance, and the Reformation".

    Whereas Melanchthon used the "loci" method described here to a great degree, Calvin seems to have moved back and forth, depending on his needs: "in his Pauline commentaries, Calvin, like Melancthon, often noted syllogisms or other specific figures of speech in tightly stated summaries of the argument, whereas, in sermons on the same text, Calvin's arguments tend to be far more discursive and not at all intent on filling out the form of the syllogism or stating the figure".

    When I say that "by the accumulation of evidence, an inductive case is made", I have in mind some of the resources by which we know and understand the earliest church -- the church of the first couple of centuries. Whereas (in the form described in my original article), Rome simply assumes that Matthew 16:18 instituted a papacy (and Rome then looks for clues which suggest Rome is important, or some such thing), Protestants will look at the actual evidence that we do have, and build, inductively, a picture of what the early church actually looked like, in doctrine and practice. There are holes in that picture, but it gives us a truer idea of what the early church was like, rather than the Roman "deduction" to the effect that "There was a pope, therefore ...."

    I think that this type of inductive methodology helps us understand important doctrines too, beginning with the doctrine of God (taking God's character and characteristics directly from the OT, and building our doctrine from that point) rather than, as Aquinas did, building a deductive case that "God must exist, therefore, he is ...." -- and allowing that sort of thing to serve as the basis for the most important of all doctrines.

    Does that make sense?
  14. Nicholas Perella

    Nicholas Perella Puritan Board Freshman


    Thanks for the article.

    When I read Wuerl state numerous times along these lines,
    What I am focused upon in those quotes is the emphasis of the Holy Spirit, thus, misassign when the Holy Spirit "guides" or "acts" in a special, revelational role. Undoubtedly there is no question that the Holy Spirit acts in our lives all the time, Acts 17:28: "for in Him we live and move and exist", but without His written Word, sacraments beside His written Word, and prayer based on His written Word, the Holy Spirit is not revealing (closed canon). Yet that is not the particular point I am expressing. Apologetically how does a Roman Catholic even doubt or think outside of the RC church for to do so would mean in RC theology to doubt or think outside of God and His ways. They have buttressed the RC church to be God, so, it is a no wonder that when historical gaps are just that - gaps, e.g. apostolic succession, it is a matter of faith for an RC. This is because it is not simply the RC church said this or that for an RC, but it is God through the church, thus essentially God said this. How much fear would an RC have in walking close to doubt that would come if an RC would even begin to question the RC church. In the end for an RC it would mean to doubt God. For an RC this may be a faith therefore not simply instrumental with the Church, but a faith within these theological parameters that is instrumental towards God. Yet this kind of instrumental faith is misassigned toward God the same way the golden calves at Sinai, Dan, and Bethel were misassigned in their revelational role of God.

    And yet without God opening my heart to His truth would I not possess this same fear that would come with this kind of RC thinking about the church 'I can not go against God'.

    The heartfelt praise for His truth and true guidance upon His path is breathtaking and awesome. There is nobody truly to praise for where we find ourselves in our relationship with God, but Him. Praise God!
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2015
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