David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan:
A Question of Scholarship


David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan (Part I)

A Discussion from Greg Krehbiel's EZBoard

Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture by Jaroslav Pelikan (1996)Most of you have probably heard of Mr. King, who, with William Webster, has authored a three-volume work entitled "Holy Scripture: The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith." Mr. King cites the Holy Fathers extensively in his part of the work, attempting to show that they were, in actuality, more like Protestants than Catholics or Orthodox in their view of Scripture. In recent months, Mr. King has posted on this board, but left us after a brief stay to pursue other opportunities. During this time, he and I crossed swords on the issue of what constitutes credible patristic scholarship. We engaged in a substantive way for the first time here (an older link to Greg Krehbiel's EZboard provided) where Mr. King jumps in to defend Dr. James White, whom I had cornered for arguing in the pages of the Christian Research Journal that St. Athanasius was a "true Protestant." (See the previous posts in the linked subthread).

There were, I believe, subsequent discussions with Mr. King in which I continued to fault him for his highly selective approach to patristic data, and all of these exchanges have come up in later discussion with R45 and Tim Enloe, both of whom apparently regard Mr. King as their hero.

The other evening, as I was reading posts over at the NTRMIN discussion board, I happened upon a post by Mr. King in which he quoted from Orthodox church historian Jaroslav Pelikan's book "Mary Through The Centuries."

Stay tuned. . . .

Nevsky  ( = Christopher Little) 4/8/02


The horse is not dead

At least as to Mr. King:

(1) Fresh utterances from Mr. King on Jaroslav Pelikan will prove helpful to my argument; (2) After I was dismissed from the NTRMIN board, David posted a reply to my response regarding Pelikan, worded in such a way as to indicate his anticipation that his reply would be forwarded to me, which it was. Not being able to post a rejoinder there, I will post it here. Mr. King will see it.

When you ask why it is necessary to continue to go to war with "these guys," please allow me to point out that I am only interested in David King (I could really care less about Svendsen, Enloe or R45), for a number of reasons: (1) he and I have interacted extensively here in the past; (2) the King/Webster volumes are seemingly purported to be (or at least David's contribution is seemingly purported to be) an objective work on patristics; (3) yet by Mr. King's own past admission, the work is "of an apologetic nature. . . admittedly, a defense of the Reformational principle of sola Scriptura"; (4) yet Reformed and other Protestant apologists will point to the book in an attempt to prove to their fellow Protestants, as well as to Catholics and Orthodox, what the Fathers "really" said; (5) I am therefore interested in countering this claim by showing that Mr. King is not now and was never interested in what the Fathers really said.

You're correct; we are not going to change each other's minds. But changing Mr. King's mind is not my main purpose (though it would certainly be nice if that happened). My main purpose is to reveal Mr. King's strong bias.

The horse is not dead. Time (for me, anyway) to stay on. If you're tired of the subject, then of course you don't have to read the posts.

Regards,

Nevsky ( = Christopher Little) 4/8/02


David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan (Part II)

The following is the exchange between David King and "Panoply" (our "Condigno," I think) that occurred over on the NTRMIN board several days ago. Please read this exchange along with the initial post of this thread as the backdrop to my response to David King, which I will post below:

POST BY DAVID T. KING

[Pelikan on comparing marian dogma with the trinity, and with development in general....]

I've been meaning to transcribe and post these comments by Pelikan for some time, but now seems as fitting as ever:

Jaroslav Pelikan commenting on 'the Marian doctrines of the immaculate conception in 1854 and the assumption in 1950':

Pelikan: But to take these traditions and opinions and now elevate them to the status of an official doctrine, binding on the entire church de fide and laying claim to the same authority as the doctrine of the Trinity, seemed to be completely presumptuous and utterly without biblical warrant. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996], p. 205).

Pelikan: Considerations like these [referring to his previous comments] have made the dogma of the assumption of the Virgin perhaps the most provocative illustration of the position of Mariology in its entirety as the most controversial case study of the problems raised by 'development of doctrine' as a historical phenomenon and as an ecumenical issue. To those who harbored fundamental misgivings about the very idea of the development of doctrine, or about the notion that the Virgin Mary should be the subject of a 'doctrine' in her own right rather than be discussed as part of the doctrine of Christ or doctrine of the church (or about both of these questions), the evolution of the assumption over a period spanning so many centuries, from a pious practice and a liturgical observance to a speculative theory to a dogma that was finally made official only at the twentieth century, simply proved that development of doctrine was both pernicious in theory and in fact. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996], p. 210).

Pelikan noted the distinct problem of comparing the two recent marian dogmas with that of the doctrine of the Trinity. It's a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the "authoritative historian" of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these "authoritative historians" have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

Respectfully,

DTK


POST BY PANOPLY, IN RESPONSE TO DTK

Re: reading Pelikan...

A clarification. Pelikan's style of writing is to periodically speak for or from the perspective of each group he discusses. For example, from DTK's quote -- allow me to replace some text with ellipses to highlight the subject:

Pelikan: ...TO THOSE WHO harbored fundamental misgivings about the very idea of the development of doctrine ....proved that development of doctrine was both pernicious in theory and in fact. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996], p. 210).

DTK: Sometimes these "authoritative historians" have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

As can be more clearly seen with my above highlights, Pelikan was not speaking for himself, rather he was speaking for those who don't like the idea of development of doctrine.


REPLY BY DAVID T. KING

No clarification needed.

You wrote:

PANOPLY: A clarification. Pelikan's style of writing is to periodically speak for or from the perspective of each group he discusses. For example, from DTK's quote -- allow me to replace some text with ellipses to highlight the subject:

Pelikan: ...TO THOSE WHO harbored fundamental misgivings about the very idea of the development of doctrine ....proved that development of doctrine was both pernicious in theory and in fact. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996], p. 210).

Yes, we can read. I prefer the fuller quote, where in the first part Pelikan affirms that the previous considerations that he gave "have made the dogma of the assumption of the Virgin perhaps the most provocative illustration of the position of Mariology in its entirety as the most controversial case study of the problems raised by 'development of doctrine' as a historical phenomenon and as an ecumenical issue." That point seems to have evaded you. But given your agenda, I understand.

DTK: Sometimes these "authoritative historians" have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

PANOPLY: As can be more clearly seen with my above highlights, Pelikan was not speaking for himself, rather he was speaking for those who don't like the idea of development of doctrine.

As more clearly seen in the fuller context of the quote I gave (along with the quote about comparing the marian dogmas to the Trinity in development), Pelikan is recognizing the problems with the doctrine of development with respect to Mary, something which apparently you can't seem to understand.

DTK (posted 4/8/02)


David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan (Part III)

My rebuttal of King, addressed to Panoply:

Indeed, Panoply, you have caught Dr. King (once again) quoting from a source selectively. Sadly (and in keeping, it seems, with the tenor of the style of apologetics employed on this board) he is content merely to pass off your observation as 'agenda'-driven by and stemming from your alleged incapability of understanding.

He actually has done the same thing in his quote from page 205, by the way. Anyone who cares to 'pick up and read' (in context) will see, quite clearly, that the statement beginning with the words 'But to take these traditions' is a reference to the Protestant reaction to Roman Catholic dogmas of the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary.

And (once again) the following statement of Dr. King seems to indicate that he is misreading the author:

DTK: Pelikan noted the distinct problem of comparing the two recent marian dogmas with that of the doctrine of the Trinity. It's a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the 'authoritative historian' of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these 'authoritative historians' have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

Here's what Pelikan actually has to say about this matter, from pp. 9-13 of the book. It is necessary to quote him at length:

(BEGIN PELIKAN QUOTES)

Pointing out that 'in the course of centuries mariology has had an enormous development' (which is the business of this book), the authors of Mary in the New Testament, because of their focus, paid little attention to that development.

For biblical scholarship, the fact that 'in the course of centuries mariology has had an enormous development' may be something of a problem. But for historical scholarship, that development is an enormous resource. To be sure, Mariology was not the only doctrine to have undergone such a development; in fact, it would be impossible to identify a doctrine that has not done so. The most decisive instance of the development of doctrine, and the one by which the fundamental issues of what could now be called 'the doctrine of development' have been defined, is the dogma of the Trinity. For the doctrine of the Trinity was not as such a teaching of the New Testament, but it emerged from the life of worship, the reflection and controversy, of the church as, in the judgment of Christian orthodoxy, the only way the church could be faithful to the teaching of the New Testament. It did so after centuries of study and speculation, during which many solutions to the dilemma of the Three and One had surfaced, each with some passage or theme of Scripture to commend it.

The final normative formulation of the Trinity by the first ecumenical council of the church, held at Nicaea in 325, took as its basic outline the biblical formula of the so-called great commission of Christ to the disciples just before his ascension: 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. But into the framework of that New Testament formula and the Nicene Creed had packed many other biblical motifs, as well as the portentous and non-biblical term for which it became known, suggested apparently by Emperor Constantine: 'one in being with the Father [homoousios toi patri].'

With characteristic acuity, therefore, John Courtney Murray once formulated the implications of this for the ecumenical situation: 'I consider that the parting of the ways between the two Christian communities takes place on the issue of the development of doctrine. . . . I do not think that the first ecumenical question is, what think ye of the Church? Or even, what think ye of Christ? The dialogue would rise out of the current confusion if the first question raised were, what think ye of the Nicene homoousion?' If the Protestant churches acknowledged the validity of the development of doctrine when it moved from the great commission of the Gospel of Matthew to produce the Nicene Creed, as all of the mainline Protestant churches did and do, on what grounds could they reject development as it had moved from the other lapidary passages of the Bible to lead to other doctrines?

From the apparently simple statements 'This is my body' and 'This is my blood' in the words of the words of the institution of the Lord's Supper, for example, has come not only the resplendent eucharistic liturgies of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Latin Mass with all its concomitants, including the reservation of the consecrated Host and devotion to it, but the long and complicated history of the development of the doctrine of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, leading in the Western church to the promulgation of the doctrine of transubstantiation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and its reaffirmation by the Council of Trent in 1551.

If the First Council of Nicaea was a legitimate development and the Fourth Council of the Lateran an illegitimate development, what were the criteria, biblical and doctrinal, for discerning the difference? . . . . 

To reject this development of doctrine on the argument that it was a development and that development was in itself unacceptable made it difficult for the biblical exegesis of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods to contend with those on the left wing of the Reformation who, sharing the insistence of the 'magisterial Reformers' on the sole authority of Scripture, rejected the reliance on the trinitarian doctrine of Nicaea as a necessary presupposition and method for reading biblical texts.

For having thus developed out of Scripture, the trinitarian perspective had in turn become a way -- or rather, the way -- of interpreting Scripture. As it was systematized at least for the West chiefly by Augustine, this method of biblical exegesis was cast in the form of a 'canonical rule' [canonica regula]. The several passages of the Bible that appeared directly to substantiate the dogma of the Trinity. . . mutually reinforced each other to form the biblical proof for church doctrine. Conversely, however, any passages that, taken as they stood, appeared to contradict church doctrine were subject to the 'canonical rule' and required careful handling. . . . If the Protestant Reformers and their descendants were willing to hold still for such a manipulation of New Testament passages in the interest of upholding a doctrinal development that had come only in later centuries -- and they were -- what stood in the way of such manipulation when the passage in question was 'This is my body' or 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church'?

Perhaps nowhere, however, was the challenge of this dilemma more dramatically unavoidable than in the relation between the development of the doctrine of Mary and its purported foundation in Scripture. . . .

To summarize the biblical materials and simultaneously to prepare the ground for the development that followed, this chapter and the next, then, will look at some of the major themes of later thought about Mary asking what the adumbrations of these were seen to have been within the text of the New and Old Testaments. . . .

(END PELIKAN QUOTES)

If you care to search the archives of Greg Krehbiel's Discussion Board, you will see that my principal criticism of Dr. King's work on the Holy Fathers' view of Scripture is essentially that he has either misread them or has deliberately quoted them selectively, in order to make it appear that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have actually departed from their views. Dr. King's misreading of Pelikan here only serves to buttress my claims that his scholarship is motivated not by an impartial analysis of the facts, but by Protestant ideology.

Nevsky ( = Christopher Little) 4/8/02


David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan (Part IV)

DAVID T. KING REPLIES TO MY REBUTTAL

DAVID T. KING'S FIRST REPLY

I'm posting this because I know that one of the non-Protestants here will send it to Mr. Chris Little. [Note: this is obviously after my expulsion from the NTRMIN board]. It is simply amazing that an Orthodox clergyman like John Whiteford will praise William Webster's book Peter and the Rock [a/k/a The Matthew 16 Controversy] for the extended patristic data he offers, but when we engage in the same kind of research which produced that book, we are now accused by some orthodox layman of having "misread them or has deliberately quoted them selectively."

It is simply amazing. If a scholar offers one or two brief quotes, his scholarship and research is hailed as the final word on the subject, but when we produce over 300 pages of nothing but patristic citations (as we did ) in volume 3 of our work, then we have "misread them or [have] deliberately quoted them selectively."

But what is even more astounding is that this accusation comes from one who admits that he hasn't read the fathers for himself. Now, I ask you, what does that sort of response indicate? There's no confusion as to the answer from where we stand.

DAVID T. KING'S SECOND REPLY

NEVSKY: Indeed, Panoply, you have caught Dr. King (once again) quoting from a source selectively. Sadly, (and in keeping, it seems, with tenor of the kind of apologetics employed on this board) he is content merely to pass off your observation as 'agenda'-driven and stemming from your alleged incapability of understanding. . . . He actually has done the same thing in his quote from page 205, by the way. Anyone who cares to 'pick up and read' (in context) will see, quite clearly, that the statement beginning with the words 'But to take these traditions' is a reference to the Protestant reaction to Roman Catholic dogmas of the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary.

No Mr. Little, I made the point that Pelikan made in the quote I gave. This attempt of yours to cast aspersions on my representation of Pelikan betrays your own bias, not mine. Pelikan identified the problems with what Romanism has done with the elevation of marian dogmas.

And BTW Mr. Little, I do not have a doctorate. Is this your attempt at sarcastic ad hominem?

NEVSKY: He actually has done the same thing in his quote from page 205, by the way. Anyone who cares to 'pick up and read' (in context) will see, quite clearly, that the statement beginning with the words 'But to take these traditions' is a reference to the Protestant reaction to Roman Catholic dogmas of the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary.

No Mr. Little I did not misrepresent Pelikan. I said that he noted the difficulties that Roman Catholics can't see, and apparently that you can't see either. But apparently, Mr. Little, you are nothing more than one of those apologist types who is more concerned to find misrepresentations in other apologist types because your agenda is to attempt to make it appear that we're all dishonest and that you're the picture of honest and balance. That's sheer ad hominem on your part. But I've come to expect that from you.

NEVSKY: And (once again) the following statement of Dr. King seems to indicate that he is misreading the author: 'Pelikan noted the distinct problem of comparing the two recent marian dogmas with that of the doctrine of the Trinity. It's a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the 'authoritative historian' of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these 'authoritative historians' have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.'

No Mr. Little, and it is a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the 'authoritative historian' of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these 'authoritative historians' have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

NEVSKY: Here's what Pelikan actually has to say about this matter, from pp. 9-13 of the book. It is necessary to quote him at length: ...Pointing out that 'in the course of centuries mariology has had an enormous development (which is the business of this book), the authors of Mary in the New Testament, because of their focus, paid little attention to that development.'

Here's Mr. Little's attempt to find dishonesty in me. He states "Here's what Pelikan actually has to say" as if to suggest I misquoted Pelikan, and I did nothing of the sort. And yes Mr. Little, the biblical writers did pay little attention because of their focus, which is indeed very telling. It points out that they had no desire to place the emphasis upon Mary today that Roman Catholics have, and apparently you do. But Mr. Little, it seems you are not content unless you can cast aspersions on Protestants in general, and in this case on me in particular. I guess all that repenting for Lent was just that, for Lent.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] For biblical scholarship, the fact that 'in the course of centuries mariology has had an enormous development' may be something of a problem.

Yes, it is a problem Mr. Little, as Pelikan actually pointed out.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] But for historical scholarship, that development is an enormous resource. To be sure, Mariology was not the only doctrine to have undergone such a development; in fact, it would be impossible to identify a doctrine that has not done so. The most decisive instance of the development of doctrine, and the one by which the fundamental issues of what could now be called 'the doctrine of development' have been defined, is the dogma of the Trinity. For the doctrine of the Trinity was not as such a teaching of the New Testament, but it emerged from the life of worship, the reflection and controversy, of the church as, in the judgment of Christian orthodoxy, the only way the church could be faithful to the teaching of the New Testament. It did so after centuries of study and speculation, during which many solutions to the dilemma of the Three and One had surfaced, each with some passage or theme of Scripture to commend it.

Yes, the Church had to be faithful to the teaching of the NT. And here is a problem with Pelikan that you've pointed out. On the one hand, he wants to say "the doctrine of the Trinity was not as such a teaching of the New Testament," yet on the other he confesses that it was "the only way the church could be faithful to the teaching of the New Testament." The fact is that every orthodox father emphasized that the Trinity was taught in the Bible. If you really had a genuine respect for those fathers, to which you pretend, you'd acknowledge that as well. But by your own admission in our previous exchanges that you have read very little of the fathers, I can only assume that you're ignorant of this. It's only some scholar types today (and apparently you with them) who do not want to recognize that. You may be content to let the scholars do your reading and analysis for you, I prefer to read and study what the fathers said themselves, because more and more that reading reveals how non-Protestants misrepresent the fathers today.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] The final normative formulation of the Trinity by the first ecumenical council of the church, held at Nicaea in 325, took as its basic outline the biblical formula of the so-called great commission of Christ to the disciples just before his ascension: 'All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. But into the framework of that New Testament formula and the Nicene Creed had packed many other biblical motifs, as well as the portentous and non-biblical term for which it became known, suggested apparently by Emperor Constantine: 'one in being with the Father [homoousios toi patri].'

Yes Mr. Little, the doctrine of the Trinity came from Holy Scripture. Later marian accretions did not. 

As Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) stated: When after a long night of ignorance, after the ambiguous and uncertain teaching of human opinions, after the various views of different religions, man has long been in error and inquiring respecting God, . . . every prudent man having betaken himself to the Prophets and Apostles will have obtained the knowledge of the whole law of God, under the mystery of its eternal arrangement. Psalmus LXI, vs. 2-3. PL 9:396. 

and... [quotes from Hilary, Epiphanius, Ambrose, Augustine, Theodoret, Niceta of Remesiana on the Trinity omitted for brevity]

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] With characteristic acuity, therefore, John Courtney Murray once formulated the implications of this for the ecumenical situation: 'I consider that the parting of the ways between the two Christian communities takes place on the issue of the development of doctrine. . . . I do not think that the first ecumenical question is, what think ye of the Church? Or even, what think ye of Christ? The dialogue would rise out of the current confusion if the first question raised were, what think ye of the Nicene homoousion?' If the Protestant churches acknowledged the validity of the development of doctrine when it moved from the great commission of the Gospel of Matthew to produce the Nicene Creed, as all of the mainline Protestant churches did and do, on what grounds could they reject development as it had moved from the other lapidary passages of the Bible to lead to other doctrines?

None of this proves I have misrepresented Pelikan on mariology.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] From the apparently simple statements 'This is my body' and 'This is my blood' in the words of the words of the institution of the Lord's Supper, for example, has come not only the resplendent eucharistic liturgies of Eastern Orthodoxy and the Latin Mass with all its concomitants, including the reservation of the consecrated Host and devotion to it, but the long and complicated history of the development of the doctrine of the real presence of the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament, leading in the Western church to the promulgation of the doctrine of transubstantiation at the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215 and its reaffirmation by the Council of Trent in 1551. If the First Council of Nicaea was a legitimate development and the Fourth Council of the Lateran an illegitimate development, what were the criteria, biblical and doctrinal, for discerning the difference? . . . . To reject this development of doctrine on the argument that it was a development and that development was in itself unacceptable made it difficult for the biblical exegesis of the Reformation and post-Reformation periods to contend with those on the left wing of the Reformation who, sharing the insistence of the 'magisterial Reformers' on the sole authority of Scripture, rejected the reliance on the trinitarian doctrine of Nicaea as a necessary presupposition and method for reading biblical texts.

He's not comparing marian dogmas to the Trinity here Mr. Little.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] For having thus developed out of Scripture, the trinitarian perspective had in turn become a way -- or rather, the way -- of interpreting Scripture. As it was systematized at least for the West chiefly by Augustine, this method of biblical exegesis was cast in the form of a 'canonical rule' [canonica regula]. The several passages of the Bible that appeared directly to substantiate the dogma of the Trinity. . . mutually reinforced each other to form the biblical proof for church doctrine. Conversely, however, any passages that, taken as they stood, appeared to contradict church doctrine were subject to the 'canonical rule' and required careful handling. . . . If the Protestant Reformers and their descendants were willing to hold still for such a manipulation of New Testament passages in the interest of upholding a doctrinal development that had come only in later centuries -- and they were -- what stood in the way of such manipulation when the passage in question was 'This is my body' or 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church'?

OK, Mr. Little, are you now converting to Rome? Do you really believe that Pelikan is using development here to make an apologetic for Rome?

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] Perhaps nowhere, however, was the challenge of this dilemma more dramatically unavoidable than in the relation between the development of the doctrine of Mary and its purported foundation in Scripture. . . . 

Indeed.

NEVSKY: [citing Pelikan] To summarize the biblical materials and simultaneously to prepare the ground for the development that followed, this chapter and the next, then, will look at some of the major themes of later thought about Mary asking what the adumbrations of these were seen to have been within the text of the New and Old Testaments. . .

Yes, exactly, they are "adumbrations"...obscure, sketchy, vague statements of the minds of men.

NEVSKY: If you care to search the archives of Greg's Discussion Board, you will see that my principal criticism of Dr. King's work on the Holy Fathers' view of Scripture is essentially that he has either misread them or has deliberately quoted them selectively, in order to make it appear that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have actually departed from their views. Dr. King's misreading of Pelikan here only serves to buttress my claims that his scholarship is motivated not by an impartial analysis of the facts, but by Protestant ideology.

Asserting it Mr. Little, as you did there, doesn't make it so. And yes, if anyone cares to go and review those exchanges, it will become patently obvious that Mr. Little has not read the fathers for himself, which he admits, so he doesn't know what they've said. And his contention that I have deliberately quoted them selectively in order to make them appear to say something they did not is simply more non-Protestant revealed agenda. It is Mr. Little who has an agenda here, and that agenda is his repeated attempt to make Protestant apologists out to be liars and deceivers.

It is simply amazing that someone who admits so much ignorance of firsthand reading of the fathers would venture such a conclusion. But as is the case with virtually every non-Protestant I've encountered that for all their boasting of adherence to the Fathers, they have never read them for themselves.

DTK 4/8/02


David T. King Meets Jaroslav Pelikan (Part V)

Subtitle: "Yes, clarification needed."

DTK: It is simply amazing that an Orthodox clergyman like John Whiteford will praise William Webster's book Peter and the Rock for the extended patristic data he offers, but when we engage in the same kind of research which produced that book, we are now accused by some orthodox layman of having "misread them or has deliberately quoted them selectively."

First of all, Mr. King, I apologize for my references to you as 'Dr.' King. It was not, as you suspect, an 'attempt at sarcastic ad hominem.' I was honestly under the impression that you had earned a doctoral degree. In a way your correction in comforting, for now when I criticize your work I can be even more forceful about it, in that it is not the work of a patrology expert, but merely 'some protestant layman' (if you'll forgive the somewhat equivocal use of the term 'layman' here).

Now when I cite Kelly and other patrology experts against you, I can be confident that my being behind you in reading the Fathers is not the impediment that Mr. Enloe and you have tried to make it out to be.

About Fr. John Whiteford's appraisal of Webster's 'Peter and the Rock,' I suspected that things might just be a little more complicated than you make it out to be, so I took the liberty of contacting Fr. John to see. Here's what he had to say today about that book, as well as about Webster's arguments regarding Scripture and Tradition:

Quote: I believe I have made some positive comments about (Webster's book). He points to quite a bit of patristic evidence that I think sheds some light on that subject. I have not seen any Roman apologists take these quotes apart in a way that I found convincing. There may or may not be some quotes he took out of context in that book, but I have not noticed any or had any pointed out convincingly.

I have not read Bill Webster's more recent work on Sola Scriptura, but I have read things he has written previously, and responded to them:

http://pages.prodigy.net/frjohnwhiteford/responses_sola.htm

The second link on the above link is a response to several posts of his several years ago -- those posts were pretty much what you find in this article on his web site (www.christiantruth.com)

When I saw that Bill had recently published something on the same subject, I e-mailed him to ask him if he had discovered anything significant that he was unaware of at the time he wrote that article, and he said no -- he had found a lot more of the same, he said, but not any new block busters. That being the case, I know he is taking quotes out of context because I have demonstrated that to be the case.

The foregoing hardly sounds like unqualified 'praise,' David. In fact, Fr. John's evaluation of Webster's work in this area is no different than mine: quotes are being taken out of context.

Does that clear it up any?

DTK: It is simply amazing. If a scholar offers one or two brief quotes, his scholarship and research and hailed as the final word on the subject, but when we produce over 300 pages of nothing but patristic citations (as we did ) in volume 3 of our work, then we have "misread them or [have] deliberately quoted them selectively."

Tell me, David. Do you think that the 'one or two brief quotes' Kelly or any other distinguished scholar typically set forth in defense of a proposition are actually indicative of the amount of primary source material he has actually read? Did Kelly acquire his reputation by spewing forth a torrent of quotes with no regard to the overall context? Anyone can quote reams of material. A true interpretation of the Fathers' work must, of necessity, encompass the entire corpus, not just part of it. You crow about '300 pages of nothing but patristic citations' as though that is something significant. As someone who is supposedly conversant with the primary sources, you know this to be only a fraction of Fatherly utterances on the issue to which you devote yourself.

You complain in your concluding paragraph of my 'repeated attempt to make Protestant apologists out to be liars and deceivers.' In light of the foregoing, why would you fault me for this? Real patristic scholars have set before you the other side of story as far as the Fathers' view of Scripture and Tradition is concerned. You promulgate your one-sided argument and continue to market your book nevertheless. You must admit that this certainly could allow me to draw such a conclusion. I suppose I could pass this off, as your comrade-in-arms Eric Svendsen tends to do, as merely the 'stupidity' of my opponent. Stupidity we could forgive. But I do not believe you are stupid, David. So what am I left with? 'Desperate,' perhaps?' So biased toward your Reformed faith and so desperate to defeat the Catholic and Orthodox faiths that you will throw scholarly caution to the wind and write and publish anything, anything at all, as long as it serves your cause? Well, maybe that's a possibility as well, and quite understandable.

DTK: But what is even more astounding is that this accusation comes from one who admits that he hasn't read the fathers for himself. Now, I ask you, what does that sort of response indicate? There's no confusion as to the answer from where we stand.

Heh-heh, well, David my good man, it might be telling if that's what I actually admitted. Allow me to refresh your memory (see Greg Krehbiel's Discussion Board), near the end of the post, 'Well, as we typically say on this forum in response to screeds such as the above,' and read what it is I actually said. (I'll take the charitable construction of this, and simply say that you merely remembered incorrectly what I said, rather than that you misrepresented it, though, believe me, given the pattern that seems to be emerging here, I am VERY tempted).

I began reading the Fathers in college, around 1980. One of the first things I read at my little evangelical college in the South was the epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch. Consummate evangelical that I was, St. Ignatius really 'rocked my world,' for here was a church leader writing about a decade after the death of the last apostle, who affirmed the centrality of the Eucharist and that, without the bishop (and he did affirm the threefold ministry), 'there is not even the name of a church.'

In subsequent years I read St. Augustine, he being the patron saint of Protestantism and all. Before I encountered you, I had read, in addition to the aformentioned Fathers, a little, some, or a lot of: Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Papias, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Arnobius of Sicca, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Ephraim the Syrian, Jerome, Athanasius, John Cassian, John Chrysostom, Mark the Ascetic, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa, Evagrios the Monk, Isaiah the Monk, Hesychios the Priest, Neilos the Ascetic, Diadochos of Photiki, John of Karpathos, and the findings of the Ecumenical Councils.

But what's more, I have read certain patristic scholars who know all of the Fathers intimately and who are your betters. You'll pardon me if I accordingly defer to them instead of you, who, despite the time and energy he has thrown into this project, is still only 'some protestant layman.'

Moving on, now, to your comments about Pelikan:

DTK: No Mr. Little, I made the point that Pelikan made in the quote I gave. This attempt of yours to cast aspersions on my representation of Pelikan betrays your own bias, not mine. Pelikan identified the problems with what Romanism has done with the elevation of marian dogmas. . . . I said that he noted the difficulties that Roman Catholics can't see, and apparently that you can't see either. But apparently, Mr. Little, you are nothing more than one of those apologist types who is more concerned to find "misrepresentations in other apologist types because your agenda is to attempt to make it appear that we're all dishonest and that you're the picture of honest and balance.

And I reply: No, Mr. King, pp. 205 and 210 speak for themselves. Panoply caught you on p. 210, just as I caught you on p. 205. Let's acquaint everyone reading this post with Pelikan's point on page 205, shall we? You quoted him as follows:

Jaroslav Pelikan commenting on 'the Marian doctrines of the immaculate conception in 1854 and the assumption in 1950': But to take these traditions and opinions and now elevate them to the status of an official doctrine, binding on the entire church de fide and laying claim to the same authority as the doctrine of the Trinity, seemed to be completely presumptuous and utterly without biblical warrant. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Mary Through the Centuries: Her Place in the History of Culture [New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996], p. 205).

But here is what Pelikan ACTUALLY wrote at the top of page 205, David:

'Almost as if to find new reasons to perpetuate the (Protestant/Catholic) schism now that some of these earlier points of disagreement had at least begun to yield on both sides of the conflict, the Marian doctrines of the immaculate conception in 1854 and the assumption in 1950 came along to counter this trend. Even a well-disposed Protestant response felt constrained to warn in 1950: 'While today the majority of churches with tears of penitence confess before God that they share in the guilt of a divided body of Christ, and in common prayer and serious scholarly effort seek to diminish the area of disagreement and increase the area of agreement . . . the Roman Church would increase the area of disagreement by a dogma of the Assumption. Creation of a dogma of the Assumption would be interpreted today in the midst of the efforts at closer relationships between the churches as a fundamental veto on the part of the Roman Church.'

It's quite clear, my layman friend: you have placed a construction upon those passages from pp. 205 and 210 of Pelikan's book that they clearly won't bear. What you set forth as Pelikan's point is actually the point of another, in this case (as Panoply and I both noted) the Protestant objectors to the new dogma of Rome. So no, David, you did NOT make the point that Pelikan made in the quote you gave. You made a point wholly unconnected from the point Pelikan made -- just as you make points from the Fathers wholly unconnected from what it is they actually taught.

My original contention stands: what you identify as Pelikan's argument is ACTUALLY 'a reference to the Protestant reaction to Roman Catholic dogmas of the immaculate conception and assumption of Mary.' Go ahead. Make my day and deny it again.

I also caught you in a misrepresentation regarding the 'distinct problem of comparing the two recent marian dogmas with that of the doctrine of the Trinity.' The problem, per Pelikan, is Protestantism's (which is what we would expect Pelikan to say since he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy about two years after this book was published.) More on that below.

DTK: That's sheer ad hominem on your part. But I've come to expect that from you.

The ad hominem is what you've come to expect from me? Care to cite specifics? Or will this turn out to be, rather, your attempt to 'poison the well?' As I recall, you've been a little shaky on informal fallacies before...(from Greg Krehbiel's Discussion Board about the middle of the post, 'Lets check those fallacies once again'). So, it may very well be the case that by 'ad hominem,' you have something in mind that is entirely unrelated to a true ad hominem -- such as my legendary bluntness.

DTK: No Mr. Little, and it is a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the 'authoritative historian' of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these 'authoritative historians' have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.

Looks here like you merely restated your original comment. So what did you really mean to say?

DTK: Here's Mr. Little's attempt to find dishonesty in me. He states "Here's what Pelikan actually has to say" as if to suggest I misquoted Pelikan, and I did nothing of the sort. And yes Mr. Little, the biblical writers did pay little attention because of their focus, which is indeed very telling. It points out that they had no desire to place the emphasis upon Mary today that Roman Catholics have, and apparently you do. But Mr. Little, it seems you are not content unless you can cast aspersions on Protestants in general, and in this case on me in particular. I guess all that repenting for Lent was just that, for Lent.

First of all, it is the entire 4-page quotation in its entirety that needs to be kept in view when I write about 'what Pelikan has to say about this matter,' not the little snippets to which you respond in such laborious detail below. Furthermore, as I've stated elsewhere today and as I imply above, I'm not necessarily accusing you of dishonesty. It might be desperation instead. Whatever shoe fits, as far as your motive is concerned. That's between you and your God.

As far as your book is concerned, however, I merely allege that you have misrepresented the Fathers. You call that 'casting aspersions.' I simply call it criticism, adding that if you can't stand the heat you should stay out of the kitchen.

By the way, for us, it's still Lent. You made 3 or 4 snide comments about Lent and Lenten observance like one above on the NTRMIN board, even before I ended up on Dr. Svendsen's bad side over a snide comment of my own. I ignored such taunts as beneath your usual standard, figuring that maybe you were just angry over a couple of blunt things I said about your work to Tim Enloe over here on Greg's board in recent weeks. Since you press the issue here, I'll simply respond by saying that if it is lawful to rescue an ox from a ditch on the Sabbath, it is certainly lawful to counter brazen falsehood during Lent. Speaking out against falsehood and heresy no matter what the ecclesial season is not a sin, as far as the Orthodox are concerned. (In fact, given the hard work these responses have required, I'm beginning to think of it as something of a podvig!)

As an expert on the Fathers -- excuse me, as a protestant layman who has read extensively (300 pages or so worth) in the Fathers -- you surely know this. But if you still see fit to try to score rhetorical points off of my baring of my soul about these things, feel free. It only makes you look smaller.

DTK: Yes, it is a problem Mr. Little, as Pelikan actually pointed out.

And I reply: Yes -- a problem for Protestants, as he points out. And that is partly why your attempt to recruit Pelikan into your cause is so bizarre.

DTK: Yes, the Church had to be faithful to the teaching of the NT. And here is a problem with Pelikan that you've pointed out. On the one hand, he wants to say "the doctrine of the Trinity was not as such a teaching of the New Testament," yet on the other he confesses that it was "the only way the church could be faithful to the teaching of the New Testament." The fact is that every orthodox father emphasized that the Trinity was taught in the Bible. If you really had a genuine respect for those fathers, to which you pretend, you'd acknowledge that as well. But by your own admission in our previous exchanges that you have read very little of the fathers, I can only assume that you're ignorant of this. It's only some scholar types today (and apparently you with them) who do not want to recognize that. You may be content to let the scholars do your reading and analysis for you, I prefer to read and study what the fathers said themselves, because more and more that reading reveals how non-Protestants misrepresent the fathers today.

And I reply: Of course he wants to say both things, David, because both propositions are true, and because there is BOTH the scriptures AND the 'ecclesiastical scope' in which they are to be interpreted, as St. Athanasius indicated. (Did you mention Athanasius' reference to the 'ecclesiastical scope' in your book, David?). Pelikan refers to the 'doctrine of the Trinity' as such, David. As such. Did you miss that? What else have you missed in your study? If you can't be relied upon to read Pelikan carefully, what makes you think we should rely upon you to read Athanasius or any other Father carefully?

Of course every orthodox father emphasized that the Trinity was taught in the Bible. Who's denied that? Pelikan and other 'scholar types'? Me? The point is that the 'Nicene homoousion' in NOT in the Bible, and if I may quote your response to Panoply here, that is 'something which apparently you can't seem to understand.'

And when I am forced to point the foregoing out to you, it becomes immediately clear just who, 'some scholar types' or you, REALLY 'prefers to read and study what the fathers said themselves.' It is the 'apologist types' such as you, and not the 'scholar types' such as Pelikan and Kelly, who are guilty of misrepresenting the Fathers. I have been demonstrating this to you ever since my first encounter with James White over his CRI article 'What Really Happened At Nicea?' You couldn't rescue him then, just as you cannot vindicate yourself now.

DTK: Yes Mr. Little, the doctrine of the Trinity came from Holy Scripture. Later marian accretions did not. As Hilary of Poitiers (c 315-67) stated: When after a long night of ignorance, after the ambiguous and uncertain teaching of human opinions, after the various views of different religions, man has long been in error and inquiring respecting God, . . . every prudent man having betaken himself to the Prophets and Apostles will have obtained the knowledge of the whole law of God, under the mystery of its eternal arrangement. Psalmus LXI, vs. 2-3. PL 9:396. [Snipped quotes]

And I reply: First of all, having established that you've quoted Pelikan out of context, why should I not assume that you've quoted these Fathers out of context? Secondly, nothing -- ZERO, ZILCH, NADA -- from these quotes gainsays what the real patristics scholars have observed about the other side of the coin concerning the Fathers' recourse to ecclesial tradition and their emphasis on the necessity of the 'ecclesiastical sense' (Athanasius again) in which Scripture must be interpreted.

The Nicene homoousion is not a biblical concept, Mr. King; it is an ecclesiastical one. The concept of the eternal generation of the Son did not originate in the biblical text, Mr. King, but rather in the Hellenistic theology of the Fathers, something your Reformed buddy Robert Reymond knows, which largely accounts for his departure into damnable heresy. Soon, other 'orthodox' Reformed buddies of yours will follow him. In another 200 years or so, where there were once many 'orthodox' Reformed buddies there will be liberal apostates. That is Protestantism's dynamic.

What keeps people like you 'orthodox,' Mr. King, is not your devotion to the demonstrably unbiblical notion of sola Scriptura. What keeps you orthodox is Orthodoxy.

DTK: None of this proves I have misrepresented Pelikan on mariology.

And I reply: I don't contend that it does. What I contend is that both the context of the quotes from pages 205 and 210 you referenced and the content of pp. 9-13 proves that you misrepresented Pelikan on himself. Go back to my first response to refresh your memory, please. You stated initially, 'It's a shame that those who profess to adhere to Pelikan as the 'authoritative historian' of church history ignore that problem in suggesting a ludicrous, if not blasphemous, parallelism between the two. Sometimes these 'authoritative historians' have a double edge for their uncritical admirers.'

What the foregoing text proves is that Pelikan himself suggests such a parallelism. Ergo: you've misrepresented him; Pelikan's sword cuts only one way here -- through you.

DTK: He's not comparing marian dogmas to the Trinity here Mr. Little.

And I reply: I don't contend that he is. Moving on . . .

DTK: OK, Mr. Little, are you now converting to Rome? Do you really believe that Pelikan is using development here to make an apologetic for Rome?

And I reply: By what convoluted manner of reasoning would you think I would answer in the affirmative to either question, David? If I didn't know better, I'd think you were merely trying to score rhetorical points here.

DTK: Yes, exactly, they are "adumbrations"...obscure, sketchy, vague statements of the minds of men.

And I reply: The same kind of 'adumbrations' at work in the church's formulation of the doctrine of the Trinity, per Dr. Pelikan.

NEVSKY: If you care to search the archives of Greg's Discussion Board, you will see that my principal criticism of Dr. King's work on the Holy Fathers' view of Scripture is essentially that he has either misread them or has deliberately quoted them selectively, in order to make it appear that the Catholic and Orthodox Churches have actually departed from their views. Dr. King's misreading of Pelikan here only serves to buttress my claims that his scholarship is motivated not by an impartial analysis of the facts, but by Protestant ideology.

DTK: Asserting it Mr. Little, as you did there, doesn't make it so.

And I reply: I would agree that the mere assertion does not make it so. I'll let unbiased readers determine whether or not my arguments -- not to mention the peer review that may be coming, David -- are mere assertions. (I say 'may' be coming because, as I mentioned to Mr. Enloe a day or two ago, this depends on whether or not your they will deem your work to be of sufficient scholarly detachment to merit their review. Honestly, I pray for your sake that they will. That may at least indicate that they took you seriously enough to scrutinize your work. But, if they do, I predict their review will not be friendly).

DTK: And yes, if anyone cares to go and review those exchanges, it will become patently obvious that Mr. Little has not read the fathers for himself, which he admits, so he doesn't know what they've said.

And I reply: Dealt with above.

DTK: And his contention that I have deliberately quoted them selectively in order to make them appear to say something they did not is simply more non-Protestant revealed agenda. It is Mr. Little who has an agenda here, and that agenda is his repeated attempt to make Protestant apologists out to be liars and deceivers.

And I reply: Dealt with above.

DTK: It is simply amazing that someone who admits so much ignorance of firsthand reading of the fathers would venture such a conclusion. But as is the case with virtually every non-Protestant I've encountered that for all their boasting of adherence to the Fathers, they have never read them for themselves.

Dealt with above. Maybe you'd like to try a different tune?

At any rate, I thank you for your response. I am gathering data for a possible future apologetic work, and the more folks like James White, Eric Svendsen and you write, the more ammunition for the Orthodox cause you provide for me. So please, keep it coming!

Regards,

Nevsky, Orthodox layman

4/8/02

Stanevsky@yahoo.com


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