Saturday, February 02, 2008


Eastern Orthodox Jay Dyer now cross-examines Reformed Baptist Josh Brisby. Dyer's questions are in italics and Brisby's answers are in regular text.

1. Josh, why do you accept Hebrews as canonical?

I accept Hebrews as canonical because the Church accepted it as canonical over time. The issue of canonicity is not a problem for Protestants. We have never argued that a book becomes canonical apart from the thinking of the Church at large. We can furthermore point to the science of textual criticism when it comes to authentic books and inauthentic books such as the gospel of Thomas. I could furthermore reverse the question and ask why the Orthodox do not accept the Didache as canonical, especially because it is a manual for early church worship. Scholars date this around A.D. 95, during the apostolic era.

2. How do you know, apart from patristic tradition, that Matthew, the disciple of Jesus, wrote Matthew's Gospel, if Apostolic authorship is key to canonicity?

I'm not sure when or if I have ever argued that apostolic authorship is key to canonicity. Hebrews, for example, seems to have been a sermon preached and that by someone who we are not sure of. Those who claim it was Paul run into a whole host of problems when it comes to the style of the writer and at other points. Likewise, even when we consider the OT, David certainly was not a prophet, but most of the Psalms were written by him and canonical; some by the Sons of Korah, who were neither prophets nor kings. So, prima facie, something does not have to be written by an apostle or a prophet to be considered canonical.

3. If the Apostles quoted and used the LXX in the majority of instances of NT citations of the Old (as all scholars admit), why do you reject the LXX, intending to follow wicked, Christ-rejecting Jews?

This question assumes a kind of source fallacy. "Look where it came from," says Jay. "It must therefore be bad." I could do the same thing by saying "Look where the Septuagint came from--from Greek speakers, and we all know that the Greeks were pagans." I stay away from these kinds of fallacies. Moreover, the deutero-canon was not accepted by the Jews even *before* they were "Christ-rejecting." Do we think honestly that, furthermore, everything that the Christ-rejecting Jews believed or rejected should all be agreed upon by us? There were things the early church agreed with the Jews about, and things they disagreed with them about. There are good reasons why the Jews did not consider the Apocrypha part of their Hebrew Bible, and it wasn't just for language differences.

4. Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ's persecution by the Jews in Wisdom 2 in your inspiration theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent.

Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ in Isaiah 53 in your inspirtation theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent. In other words, even if Wisdom 2 did predict it, that does not mean that *all* of the deutero-canon is therefore inspired! This commits the fallacy of composition as well as the fallacy of begging the question.

5. What is the nature of the quotes I listed, such as from the Book of the Wars of the Lord, Book of Enoch, etc. in your theory of inspiration, especially where St. Jude refers to a prophecy of the Second Advent? Do you not admit that this is a reference to Christ, and thus not in the same category as a reference of a pagan poet?

My point in my rebuttal was simply that prima facie just because something is quoted does not necessarily lead to inspiration of the whole package. Again, this commits the fallacy of composition. In fact, even some Jewish oral tradition has prophecies of the Messiah that we would say are right on, but of course we would both agree that these are not inspired. If you say they are inspired, then you must abandon your accusation of not accepting the LXX and following the "Christ-rejecting Jews." If you say they are not inspired, then it is clearly not a problem for me when I say that just because something is quoted it does not make that which it is quoted from canonical.

6. Explain with consistency 2 Thess. 2:15 in your system.

Thank you for this question. I'm glad you brought it up. 2 Th 2:15 reads as follows: "So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us."

To begin with, the Greek word for "traditions" is "paradoseis," which can have to do with a written narrative as well. According to Thayer, Josephus used this word in the meaning of "precepts, both illustrating and expanding the written law, as they did, were to be obeyed with equal reverence." Note also that these traditions come from the apostles themselves. I have no problem, and nor does Protestantism, holding to apostolic tradition. But the Orthodox church, as well as Rome, claim to hold to apostolic tradition, yet differ from Scripture on several matters, and differ from each other as well (the so-called Church Fathers clearly held to the jurisdictional primacy of the Pope, as I will argue in my closing statement, yet the Orthodox do not accept a jurisdictional primacy, but only an honorary status should he repent). Furthermore, when someone clearly holds to false doctrine, they can claim they hold to apostolic tradition, but we would agree, as you do about the various Popes holding heresy, that they are not truly apostolic.

So, Orthodoxy does not hold to the faith of the apostles since it believes several things which are not in accord with Scripture. Oral teaching cannot contradict Scriptural revelation.


Saint and Sinner said...

"Explain in your system the lengthy, clear prophecy of Christ's persecution by the Jews in Wisdom 2 in your inspiration theory, which all admit was written prior to His Advent."

Wisdom 2 is almost exactly like Psalm 22. The origin was probably from there, not Divine inspiration.

Secondly, it is worthy to note that although Athanasius cited this work as Scripture prior to his visit to Palestine, afterwards, he relegated it outside of the Canon as being "merely read" (Letter 39.2).

The same goes for Melito of Sardis, Cyril of Jerusalem, Jerome, and others.

So, Dyer's canon is anything but 'quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus'.

steve said...

steve said...