Saturday, February 02, 2008

DEBATE W/EASTERN ORTHODOX PART 4: MY REBUTTAL OF JAY DYER'S OPENING STATEMENT

Thank you, Mr. Dyer, for your opening statement and your rebuttal to my opening statement. I refer my readers to Mr. Dyer's website http://www.nicenetruth.com/ for more that he has to say with regards to my opening statement, because, as he noted, he has much to say by way of response to my opening statement, and that could take many pages. We decided to limit our responses so as not to over-burden our readers.

I apologize to my readers that this has also taken so long to get my rebuttal up. My wife is pregnant with our fifth child and her morning sickness isn't so great, so I have been very busy helping with the kids, as well as finishing my credential and Master's in education.

Without further ado, I now rebut Jay Dyer's opening statement.
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JAY'S FAILED ARGUMENT FROM THE CANON AGAINST SOLA SCRIPTURA

Suffice it to say that Jay's whole argument from the canon of the Scripture towards Protestants fails on its own terms. Jay argues that, if Protestants don't have the canon right, then we can't hold to Sola Scriptura, and therefore Protestantism fails. What Jay did not tell us, readers, is that Eastern Orthodoxy itself cannot agree as to the extent of the canon! Indeed, Russian Orthodoxy has a different canon than other branches of the Orthodox church. So, Jay says that Protestantism cannot hold because it has the wrong canon, but we are left wondering, then, what is the right canon? Which canon of the Orthodox church should we Protestants accept?

We see, then, that even *if* Protestants had the wrong canon (for the sake of argument--of course I believe we have the right canon as Protestants), that at least prima facie, this is no argument against Sola Scriptura.
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JAY'S FAILED ARGUMENT FROM NT QUOTES OF THE DEUTERO-CANON AGAINST SOLA SCRIPTURA

Jay also tries to argue that, since the NT writers quote the deutero-canon in several places, that this supposedly defends the deutero-canon as inspired Scripture, which must prove that Protestants have the wrong canon, and that therefore Sola Scriptura fails. We have several replies to this line of argumentation:

(1) Just because the NT writers quote the deutero-canon in *some* places (I do not for a second grant that they do it in many of the places Jay argues) does not mean that it is inspired. Indeed, the book of Acts quotes pagan poets, but no one would say that those pagan poets were inspired, nor would we say that their writings were inspired. Why should we then jump the gun and say that the deutero-canon is inspired?

(2) The Orthodox themselves have a problem here, because there are quotes in the NT from writings that they themselves do not include in their canon!

(3) Even the name "deutero-canon" itself means a "secondary" canon. Why is this secondary? Even Protestants admit that there are some useful things in the deutero-canon, but we see it as having historical errors, pagan doctrines, and we do not use it as part of our canon; the earlier Hebrews did not count it as part of their canon either. Why should we?

(4) Again, since the NT quotes writings which were at least up for debate as to whether or not they were Scriptural, *and* since the Orthodox church cannot agree on the canon, why shouldn't we, and they, also accept say the Didache as inspired? The epistles of Clement? The epistles of Barnabas? Etc.?

(5) Many of Jay's ideas that the NT is replete with quotes from the Apocrypha begs the question. They take certain sayings of our Lord and, he concludes that, since the saying sounds *similar* to certain ideas or quotes in the deutero-canon, that it therefore proves that these were quotes of the deutero-canon. Jay begs the question here. This is like (no offense to my paedobaptist brothers) those who believe in infant baptism pointing to the household passages and saying "see, infants are in the text." Or pointing to Polycarp saying he served God for 86 years, therefore infant baptism "must" be true, etc. This is a big petitio principii fallacy.
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DYER'S FAILED ASSERTION OF LITURGY LEADING TO CANONICITY

Jay asserted in his opening statement that ancient liturgy in the church led to canonicity of certain books of the Bible. I find this assertion interesting for several reasons:

(1) It is merely an *assertion.* Jay offered no argumentation or evidence whatsoever.

(2) If it were true, then he has a problem, because the Orthodox church does not use the book of Revelation in its liturgy *today* because it is such a difficult and mysterious book. Since this is so, then, once again, at least prima facie liturgy does not *necessarily* equal canonicity.

(3) Even the liturgy of the ancient church changed during the first three centuries. I do not have time or space here to demonstrate this, so I refer my readers to their own studies. But it is clear that the first few centuries of the church's worship were very simple, but, by the third century, new things were being added.
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CONCLUSION

Jay's opening arguments to refute Protestantism are bankrupt. He did not establish that Sola Scriptura fails because on his own terms, then the Orthodox view of the canon would fail as well. He did not establish that the deutero-canon is inspired Scripture, nor did he establish that liturgy necessarily leads or has lead to canonicity. Indeed, Jay will have to do better than this if he wants to refute Protestantism.
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I now turn the floor to Mr. Dyer, who will now cross-examine me for six questions. My responses during the cross-examination must be limited to no more than four paragraphs each so as not to overburden my readers.

Mr. Dyer, you now have the floor for cross-examination.

2 comments:

Jay Dyer said...

On a side note, I recommend this based on our last phone conversation: here my new article highlighting the proper relation of liturgy, tradition and real presence in the formulation of the cyrilline/ephesus christology:


http://www.nicenetruth.com/home/2008/02/st-cyrils-conne.html

Jay Dyer said...

My six questions for you are up. For the sake of the rest of our debate, and I know you are busy, can I please get you to carefully read my two articles on the canon so that you see exactly what my arguments are in different sections? Thanks, Jay.