I posted a comment at Orthodox Bridge on the Future of Protestantism comparing it to the Nevin-Hodge debate and they blocked it, saying it wasn’t relevant. To anyone who’s read more than twenty minutes of American religious history in the late 19th century, it is painfully relevant.
Further, he brought up Nevin in the original post, and I continued the thought on Nevin, and then I’m told irrelevant comments will be blocked. Wisdom is justified by her children. I think they are beginning to see just how silly a hard realist-essentialism is, on which both Nevin and Orthodoxy depend, and knowing I was about to back the truck up and unload Hodge’s critique of Nevin, they took their ball and went home. Or took my ball, rather.
I still have a number of issues which they won’t touch, probably because these issues can’t be addressed with copy/past quotations by Ignatius and Pelikan. They are ontological questions which require internal analysis, which is one of the reasons why I am not welcome there.
That, however, is not the point of this post. I think the Future of Protestantism debate effectually demonstrated why the more “stout” FV/CREC guys will always lose the debates with Anchorites. Once you admit that these traditions are in some degree normative today (by using languages and analogies calling them “mother”), and your only line of attack is, “Respect us, too! We’re hip. You need us,” you will always be fighting on a line of retreat.
Even Doug Wilson recognizes this and makes some fairly good points. I Wish he would see the FV for what it is today and call it as such.
As the greatest genius of the War Between the States said, “Get ‘em skeered and keep the skeer on ‘em!”
In good chiastic fashion I have come full circle with some older pre-FV writings. When I left college I read anything I could get my hands on by Peter Leithart and James Jordan–and much of it really was quite good. Without really knowing all the issues involved, I fell in love with a tangible, concrete biblical verbalist ontology. And even today that is good. Several issues made this a bad thing: 1) the FV was still mutating into the dangerous creature it is today, 2) rightly or wrongly (and a little of both) theonomy was tagged as FV’s meaner cousin, and 3) Protestant scholastic categories had fallen on hard times. I think a good verbalist ontology is what we need, but not at the expense of justification.
Now that I’ve fought Anchoretism and truly understand (to the degree that I do) the philosophical issues involved in the debate, and since much of the FV has moved into the mainly CREC orbit (which has problems even beyond FV), FV writings do not tempt me anymore. In other words, when FV writers use the biblical text to deconstruct Greek ontologies (and the religious traditions that hold to them), I cheerfully use them. This isn’t all that different from what Mike Horton does.
Given that I’ve been so critical of Orthodoxy and that the Orthodox are taking Leithart to task, one would expect me to defend him. I will do no such thing. While he makes some good points, he largely brings this on himself. Fortunately, the article isn’t that long so I will respond point-by-point.
What I have in mind is the logic behind some conversions, namely, the quest of the true church. Protestants who get some taste for catholicity and unity, who begin actually to believe the Nicene Creed, naturally find the contemporary state of Protestantism agonizing (as I do). They begin looking for a church that has preserved its unity, that has preserved the original form of church, and they often arrive at Catholicism or Orthodoxy. – See more at:
That’s probably a fair sociological assessment of the situation.
Apart from all the detailed historical arguments, this quest makes an assumption about the nature of time, an assumption that I have labeled “tragic.” It’s the assumption that the old is always purer and better, and that if we want to regain life and health we need to go back to the beginning.
A lot of Orthodox got irked at that statement, but do they not consider themselves older and purer? It’s a fairly straight-forward observation. I think most people missed his “tragic” reference. He wasn’t saying, “Aww, how sad.” He was drawing upon a certain line of thought in the interpretation of Greek drama (e.g., always going back to the golden age with the correlating inference that the future can never get better. This effectively guts eschatology). It’s a fairly genius point, but since no one in the world studies Greek drama, who cares?
That, I think, is a thoroughly un-Christian assumption. Truth is not just the Father; the Son – the supplement, the second, the one begotten – identifies Himself as Truth, and then comes a third, the Spirit, also Truth, the Spirit of Truth. Truth is not just in the Father; the fullness of Truth is not at the origin, but in the fullness of the divine life, which includes a double supplement to the origin.
Technically, I agree with what he just said, but few people really understood it. If by it he means progressive epistemology of our knowing the divine life, and hence, truth, then it is a fairly incisive claim which can’t be gainsaid. Unfortunately, not only did he not really develop that point, he failed to make the next application. If God didn’t reveal all truth at once, which he didn’t especially concerning the Trinity, then why do we think that he will reveal all at once in the life of the church? Yes, I know what Jude 3 says, but no one seriously thinks that the church had all the knowledge deposited at once? If so, then what was the point of Councils if the church already knew that?
My problem with all of this is that the Federal Vision/CREC company needs to own up that their own antics drive a lot of people to Orthodoxy. You can’t write a slough of books and articles attacking the Reformed faith and arguing for high church sacramentalogy and not expect your acolytes to take you seriously.
The CREC allows both paedobaptists and credobaptists (and paedocommunionists). How can their be true church unity on any level beyond that of the local congregation? The Presbytery (which word is kind of cheating, since it reads non-Baptist presuppositions into the debate) apparently simultaneously affirms the following propositions (presumably said between any group of elders), “We disagree on the essence of church membership but we agree to have union on the church level.” I suppose, to be fair, it is not a strict, logical contradiction, nor is this the biggest issue with the CREC. Still, it does present a tension which eventually snaps normal minds.
but he removed not the high places
How to write this? I don’t want to name names, for my own past is not pristine. Yet I have to wonder, is it good enough to reject the follies and errors of the Federal Vision movement but remain in communion with open Federal Vision supporters?