Terri Schiavo Dies
There's just one question in my mind. How could anyone who is brain dead be "comforted" by music, flowers, and the absence of argument?
In his encounter with the religious patriarchs recorded in Matthew 23:1-12 NLT,"Unmistakably"? Based on what exactly? So, Jesus’ point in this passage is no longer about the religious burden with which the religious leaders were taxing the common people? It is no longer about exposing and correcting a false piety and works-righteousness? Instead, it’s about Jesus’ disdain for men taking a leadership role in a religious and social setting (one wonders if Jesus would then have praised these leaders had they simply been a different gender)? Birkey’s “exegesis” provides a glowing example of just why the arguments for Christian feminism will never be accepted by those committed to rightly interpreting the Scriptures.
Jesus drew a dramatic and detailed “portrait” of patriarchal-type leaders. He used the episode to teach the bottom line on religious patriarchs. Of course the Pharisees were attracted to Abraham, their greatest patriarch. Yet the stern tenor of the Lord is exceedingly strong as he laid naked the symptoms of these men. He discerned that they always radiate an attitude of arrogance in practicing their patriarchy. But again, if this seems too strong, look at the exacting specifics. Jesus was obviously perturbed; not only did he call them strong iniquitous names, but he demanded that his followers avoid them, in light of their patriarchal behavior. Jesus plainly said that that “don’t practice what they preach,” while at the same time “they crush you with impossible religious demands.” Jesus makes clear that this kind of men enjoy their “prominence, show, and place of honor.” It’s obvious that our Lord had no patience whatsoever with their masculinity parade. . . . Jesus focused on his disciples (verses 8-9), protesting right out: “Don’t ever let anyone call you ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters!” Unmistakably, Jesus hates all forms of patriarchalism, which is sub-Christian and causes incomprehensible division among his people.
For the record, we have no objection to people speaking about just one of Christ's natures, as long as they aren't denying the one divine person of the Word of God. . . . However, to spell it out clearly and obviously, Jesus is no person other than the Word of God. Therefore, it is plain theological error to say that what happens to the person does not happen to God.A divine person who takes on a human nature. That's Prejean's view. That's the view of all RC pop-apologists. That's also the Apollinarian-Monophysite view. We may as well throw the comments of J.N.D. Kelly into the mix. Here's what he says about the Apollinarian view:
UPDATE -- After having read Dr. Svendsen's first couple of forays into this area, I'm going to say a couple of things strictly in the interest of saving both his time and mine. Everybody with any familiarity in the relevant history knows that it is somewhat doubtful that Nestorius was Nestorian and that some scholars have made the argument (albeit pretty convincingly discredited by recent scholarship) that St. Cyril was a monophysite. While interesting as a historical matter, it has absolutely nothing to do with the heresy of Nestorianism (aka, the error attributed to Nestorius), which is the substance of my charge against Dr. Svendsen.Now I am forced to break from my series momentarily and post a response to this update. Be warned, I’ve got eight full pages of notes on just the response to the update.
To respond to Dr. Svendsen's query of 3/14/05, I refer to my post here, which clearly points out Svendsen's Christological errors (fundamentally based on the complete inability to make a distinction between person and nature, an error that was shared by Arius and Nestorius).Note well that Prejean does not say, “an error that was erroneously attributed to Nestorius.” He instead says, “an error that was shared by Arius and Nestorius.” Now he’s saying, “Everybody with any familiarity in the relevant history knows that it is somewhat doubtful that Nestorius was Nestorian.” Which will it be, Mr. Prejean? Shall we proceed with the pop-apologetic understanding of the historical events that you undoubtedly possessed before I began posting my series; or with your new understanding of historical events which, forced by my citations of Brown, you quickly acquired when you scrambled to your patristic sources looking for contradictions to my position only to find it confirmed? I am not anxious to waste my time interacting with that kind of disingenuousness on your part; the kind that strongly and consistently asserts an erroneous position about the historical events, and ridicules and derides my comparatively accurate understanding of those events in the process, only to backpeddle once the evidence comes out and then pretends the issue was never about my understanding of events to begin with.
Rather than wasting time discussing historical matters on which we completely agree (or matters entirely irrelevant to the Christological discussion, such as Catholic Mariology), it would probably be more expedient to address the actual disagreement.But this is precisely the disagreement. Prejean makes fundamental blunders in his criticism of my views precisely because his understanding of the Christological controversies goes no further than the typical Roman Catholic pop-apologetic understanding of them. That acts as the basis for his disagreement with everything else I have to say about this issue. Hence, it is completely relevant and completely to the point. If Prejeans’s understanding of the historical events weren’t so deficient, there wouldn’t be a disagreement. His entire thesis against my position was that I am ignorant of the scholarly view on these issues, that I am unqualified to address the historical Christological controversies. Here again is what he said about my understanding of the events:
For one thing, it's not a matter of simply happening to disagree on the subject. Svendsen is flat-out wrong, and it's not even debatable. He's completely out of his league here. He has zero qualifications in the field of patristics or church history (his Ph.D. is in New Testament), and his opinion conflicts with the overwhelming scholarly opinion on those subjects without the least bit of justification for doing so. Normally, when one talks about a subject in which one is entirely unqualified, one maintains a certain humility that allows one to be corrected, at least if one is behaving reasonably. Now when someone has been plainly corrected beyond doubt on such a subject (such as would be completely obvious to anyone who consults any scholarly authority on Apollinarism, monophysitism, or indeed any survey of Byzantine Christology) and that same person persists in the plain and obvious error without even a hint of acknowledgment, it is obvious that the person is ranting irrationally, having abdicated the field of reason altogether.And . . .
he was running afoul of people who actually do have those qualifications. If I were the one running afoul of Meyendorff, Pelikan, McGrath, Kelly, Sherrard, Schatz, Jurgens, Quasten, Newman, Thunberg, and just about every other patristics or church history scholar of significant repute, then it might be relevant to raise my qualifications. But since I am relying on their arguments, it is *their* qualifications that are relevant, not mine. I'd love to see Svendsen attempt to justify his position using any reputable work, as that would clearly expose how absurd his position is.And, in response to my description of Apollinarianism, Prejean wrote:
Oh, I see. You don't know the difference between a person (hypostasis) and a nature, which is exactly Nestorianism! Now it all makes sense! I wonder if that shows up anywhere else. Let's see, there was this accusation of Monophysitism...And . . .
As far as my alleged attacks ad hominem, one of them I consider entirely legitimate, namely, calling into question the qualifications of someone who repeatedly asserts a position contrary to the bulk of scholarship without providing any good reason for doing so.And . . .
Yep, you definitely do not know the difference between a person and a nature. Wow, imagine actually talking about Christological heresies without even bothering to learn that! St. Cyril would call that "stupidity." I'll be more charitable and call it blindly irrational anti-Catholicism. Either way, on behalf of all of us orthodox creedal Christians like myself and St. Cyril, I'd like to commend Dr. Svendsen for openly admitting his heresy, allowing us to expose it to the light of day and the anathemas of the Fifth Ecumenical Council.And . . .
Incidentally, Svendsen failed to mention another error that he made in the same article, when he said "In short, Apollinaris' view was that Christ was a body of flesh formed and animated by a nous (spirit and intellect), but that the nous was not human, but rather divine. What Apollinaris means by nous is 'person'.” . . . Hence, the Apollinarian heresy maintained that Christ was not fully human. Again, this is evidently sheer ignorance on Svendsen's part, as the issue was nature rather than person.And . . .
My point was exactly to defend against your erroneous charge against Catholicism based on incorrect citations of councils and church writers. That's my entire point; you are speaking in an area in which you have no competence, and you are making elementary errors in doing so.And . . .
Perhaps Dr. Svendsen would care to explain why he ventured to write an article accusing Catholics of a heresy without substantiation. How many patristic scholars agree with your explanation of "Apollinarimonophysitism?" If I am so wrong on this subject, it should be trivial to produce some kind of evidence on this point.And . . .
Meyendorff's Christ in Eastern Christian Thought (not to mention Byzantine Theology) and Sherrard's The Greek East and the Latin West are excellent (and short) introductions to the subject by actual scholars that will quickly expose the absurdity of your position.And . . .
If Svendsen can show to me such a deviation from respectable scholarship that would put my own qualifications in issue, he is welcome to respond in kind.ALL of this—every single objection—has to do with a disagreement in our respective understanding of the historical events; not my personal view of Christ. In each case, Prejean claims I contradict patristic scholarship—something that would be completely irrelevant if the “real issue” were my personal view of Christ (how could a patristic scholar speak to that issue?). Prejean has now been corrected on this, and he has tacitly (albeit disingenuously) admitted it by his backpedaling. It is he that approached this issue in an uninformed way, not I.
For the record, we have no objection to people speaking about just one of Christ's natures, as long as they aren't denying the one divine person of the Word of God. . . . However, to spell it out clearly and obviously, Jesus is no person other than the Word of God. Therefore, it is plain theological error to say that what happens to the person does not happen to God.This is classic Apollinarianism. So, too, did Apollinaris deny that Jesus was a human person who had a human personality. Here again is Brown on this issue:
So, as I said good thing that no one behaved in such an "inane fashion" as to adopt this view, and thereby partake of the Nestorian "stupidity." Errr, what was that you said there, Dr. Svendsen?In so commenting, Prejean locks himself into my prior observation that he misunderstood the Nestorian “heresy” all along, and in so doing places himself between a rock and a hard place. Does he believe Cyril is correct in his condemnation of Nestorius? If so, he ends up contradicting the majority view of patristic scholarship who (as even Prejean himself concedes) regards Nestorius’ views as completely orthodox and as vindicated at Chalcedon. If not, then it is really Cyril who behaved in an “inane fashion” and who partook of “stupidity” in his erroneous accusations against Nestorius, now isn’t it. Errr, what was that you said there, Mr. Prejean?
For the record, we have no objection to people speaking about just one of Christ's natures, as long as they aren't denying the one divine person of the Word of God. That Jesus is the same divine person as the Word of God is clearly presented in Scripture, including the letter to the Hebrews.Including the one that says he is without [human] father or mother?
UPDATE -- Exactly as I predicted, Svendsen turned from a substantive attack to a personal one by attacking my personal qualifications. Of course, he completely missed the point that the reason I was attacking his qualifications is because he was running afoul of people who actually do have those qualifications. If I were the one running afoul of Meyendorff, Pelikan, McGrath, Kelly, Sherrard, Schatz, Jurgens, Quasten, Newman, Thunberg, and just about every other patristics or church history scholar of significant repute, then it might be relevant to raise my qualifications. But since I am relying on their arguments, it is *their* qualifications that are relevant, not mine. I'd love to see Svendsen attempt to justify his position using any reputable work, as that would clearly expose how absurd his position is.Two quick point before addressing the issue. First, I can't find any place where Prejean "predicted" I would engage in a personal attack. Second, here is how Prejean characterized me in his previous entry:
One thing, it's not a matter of simply happening to disagree on the subject. Svendsen is flat-out wrong, and it's not even debatable. He's completely out of his league here. He has zero qualifications in the field of patristics or church history (his Ph.D. is in New Testament), and his opinion conflicts with the overwhelming scholarly opinion on those subjects without the least bit of justification for doing so.I essentially ignored this comment in my last post because it lacks foundation. What on earth is Prejean referring to when he says my views contradict those of "overwhelming scholarly opinion"? Opinion on what?
I hope that Dr. Svendsen will substantively engage the objections that I have raised to his position, particularly that his denial of the full humanity and divinity of Christ amounts to a denial of our salvation.What objections has he raised? None that I can see, apart from empty assertions that my views contradict those of patristic scholars. Where in the world have I denied the full humanity and divinity of Christ--especially since I am a staunch defender of these things? Just ask any of the Jehovah's Witnesses who have had the misfortune of knocking on my door!