Thursday, October 29, 2009

More nonsense from Timothy George

As many of you know I am sure, Timothy George recently had a "dialog" with Frank Beckwith over the differences among Roman Catholics and Evangelicals at Wheaton College. In this discussion, George basically said that these old debates over imputation and infusion are not really very important. The gospel was defined as the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus, Evangelicals and Papists teach the same gospel. While this certainly is a valid description of the gospel, certain understandings of these ideas can render it false. For example a Mormon or Jehovah's Witness would agree that Jesus lived, died, and rose again from the dead. However, the polytheism of Mormonism, and the subordinationism of the Watchtower society destroy the message. In the same way, a denial of Sola Fide makes the death and resurrection of Jesus of no effect. Once something is added to this for justification, it becomes a false gospel. I am sure the Judaisers would have agreed with George on this point, yet Paul still calls them anathema. Well George came out with a statement recently in Christianity Today that James White put on his blog that reinforces these ideas.
"The gaping divide between evangelicals and Catholics is ecclesiology and authority, not justification and salvation, as important as that debate remains," George said. "There is enough commonality that evangelicals and Catholics with a living faith can recognize one another as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ with a common Lord and common grace that brought them together. The hard issues are questions related to the church, such as the Petrine office [the papacy] and the Eucharist. Those discussions will occupy us for the next 100 years."
So the gospel is not the dividing line between Romanism and Evangelicalism? What did this Luther guy waste his time for! It's a good thing that George has seen past the wisdom of all reformers both Lutheran and Calvinist and found the truth!
Timothy George... do not call yourself an evangelical. You have abandoned what we have fought for the past 500 years. In fact, you gave up any right to be called an evangelical or "Reformed" the moment you signed ECT.
Paul stated that those who preached another gospel are anathema. Paul then defends the gospel by defending the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works. Thus, if one wants to take Paul's words seriously, Sola Fide is the center of the gospel itself. Any attempt to drift from it puts one under not Luther or Calvin's but Paul's anathema.

10 comments:

Matt said...

Just, by the way, Thomas Aquinas used the terms "sola fide" when describing the instantaneous justification of the sinner (in his commentary on Romans). How does he fit into the grand view of Church history--from the Fathers, through Bernard, to the Reformers and their successors--that is detailed on your blog?

Jordan Cooper said...

Thomas Aquinas is certainly an interesting case. I am by no means an expert on his work, I have only read selections of the Summa. Thomas has a lot to say about penance and the process of salvation which would seem to negate forensic justification. However, I have read some things similar to what you are referencing. Sproul likes Aquinas a lot and argues that he did hold to both a Lutheran view of justification and a Calvinistic view of predestination.
My guess at this point would be that he held somewhat contradicting views in regards to justification. Or, perhaps he never reconciled forensic justification with the rest of his system. This is an interesting question and I will certainly look into it.

Matt said...

"Contradictory" is not on the top-ten list for describing Thomas Aquinas' work, though. :-)

I'd love to chat about any of these matters if you are interested. I'm very interested in efforts to put Reformation soteriology into dialogue with ancient and medieval Christian thought. This has been done before, to some extent, but these efforts have often suffered from prejudices and biases of one sort or another. Not that anyone is free from them, but we can be very sensitive to their existence and take the requisite precautions.

Anyway, it is this exciting effort on your part (particularly your mentioning further inquiry on Ambrose), which drew me to your blog. Good stuff!

Jordan Cooper said...

I would certainly like to talk with you about these issues. If you could recommend books which deal with connections between the early and medieval church and the reformation I would appreciate it. My primary interests are the apostolic fathers, Ambrose, Prosper of Aquitaine, Fulgentius of Ruspe, Bernard of Clairvaux, Ratramnus of Corbie, Claudius of Turrin, John Chrysostom, and John Wycliff. If you want to recommend other authors I would appreciate it.

Matt said...

It would be interesting to incorporate authors more at the "center" of Catholic orthodoxy into your project, to see how authors that were approved by the medieval church (like the Lombard, Aquinas, Bonaventure, Scotus, Gregory of Rimini, etc.) were or were not aligned with (speaking anachrostically) and later employed by Martin Luther and his colleagues.

Furthermore, I have found it interesting to see the "radical Augustinianism" of authors like Banez, Medina, Alvarez, Zumel, and other post-Tridentine Dominicans, who were accused of being Calvinists or Lutherans by their fellow Roman Catholics, particularly Jesuits. Nevertheless, their views were approved as orthodox by their local bishops and by the pope. I think this challenges some of our perspectives on post-Tridentine theology, where we assume that all of the radical Augustinians got into trouble like Baius and Jansen...

Let me know if that made any sense...

Matt said...

Do you enjoy the work of Richard A. Muller at Calvin? I think he's great on these themes...

Jordan Cooper said...

I have not read anything by Richard Muller. I know that he wrote the very large series on Post Reformation Reformed Dogmatics but I have not yet read them. I did some reading of Aquinas on the topic of justification, and am very surprised at what I found. I will post my thoughts on here about him in the near future.

Matt said...

This sounds very, very interesting.

Only if it is no inconvenience, but could you note it here when you post on Aquinas? That way it will be sent to my e-mail. Only if it is no trouble! Pax.

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