Friday, October 13, 2006

Comprehensive Response to Owen

Taken from the comments section of the previous post:
I do have to say that your post strikes me as overstated. I haven't been receiving some devastating correction at the Reformed Catholicism site. Peter has taken issue with me on several points of minor detail. So what? I've enjoyed the discussion and have a lot I can learn from the likes of himself, William Tighe, Jeffrey Steel, and others. They've forgotten more about the details of historical theology than I will ever hope to know. Thank God for them.
Here is what I wrote: “Presently, I'm just enjoying the responses he's getting from Peter Escalante and Jason Loh (who has also posted a very nice comment on one of the installments to my Cranmer series), both of whom are much more traditional Reformed Anglicans, and both of whom (but especially Escalante) have corrected Owen on his Anglo-Catholic revisionism of Reformation Anglicanism. . . . Cranmer and Owen are miles apart in their view of the church, Scripture, Rome, and authority, in spite of Owen's insistence to the contrary.”

Where exactly is the overstatement? When Owen can cite with approval Trent’s statement regarding Transubstantiation (see his latest article on the Eucharist)--and not some mere side point, but the primary definition of Transubstantiation itself!--is it not self-evident that he and Cranmer (and the Reformation Anglicans) are miles apart? Here is the relevant portion on this issue from the Anglican Thirty-Nine articles:

"Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthrows the nature of a Sacrament, and has given occasion to many superstitions. The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after a heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith. The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped" (Article 28).

Owen praises and commends Trent (not only here, but in many other places as well); Historic Anglicanism denounce it as “repugnant.” Owen has demonstrated time and again that his view and presentation of the Anglican Reformers is pure revisionism. Where is the overstatement? Owen continues:
As to my being unable to sustain a discussion on the exegetical sorts of questions, I think we both know that is not the case.
Actually, I “know” nothing of the kind. It is a fact that Owen did not bother to engage (exegetically or otherwise) the texts I maintain are contrary to his assertions. Whether he is able to do so, I suppose, remains to be seen. The fact of the matter is, he has thus far shown himself unable to sustain a discussion on it. Where, again, is the overstatement? Owen continues:
I don't know why you would want to give that impression. I think our past discussions have demonstrated that your attempt to get around the plain sense of the NT witness on baptism doesn't hold water (!)
I have provided all links to that discussion in two separate posts below. I’m confident that anyone who reads that discussion from beginning to end will conclude that Owen must have a different dialogue in mind.
the issue of the nature of the gospel remains clear. I don't have to follow your meandering path through a bunch of tangential passages in order to sustain my basic premise.
Hence, my contention that Owen is unable to sustain a discussion on this point is vindicated. Until Owen accounts for my “meandering path through a bunch of tangential passages,” he has not dealt exegetically with this issue. Owen continues:
Nowhere in the NT does Paul define the gospel in such a way as to include the means whereby justification is appropriated.
As usual, mere assertion with no attempt to prove. I have already shown that Paul does indeed include this, as do the other NT writers.

Never does he say that the good news is that justification is received by faith alone, and not faith plus works of merit.
Poppycock! I have shown otherwise.

All that Paul says is that the Good News is that Christ has died and rose from the grave for our justification. God in Christ has done something for us that the Law could not accomplish. THAT is the good news!
Again, poppycock. I have shown that what is included in “the gospel” depends entirely on the context of the passage in which the phrase or concept occurs. Sometimes it is limited to Christ’s death and resurrection; other times it is solely the appropriation of the benefits of that death and resurrection (the latter is merely assumed); still other times it refers to the judgment to come for those who refuse it; sometimes it is a combination of these; and sometimes it is all inclusive. Owen is simply being careless and tendentious in his presentation of this; and his refusal to deal exegetically with this issue is still more proof of that.

The human obligation now is to respond to that good news with faith, and receive the benefits of justification in baptism. In light of that basic fact, you are the one who has some explaining to do, not me.
The human obligation, contrary to Owen’s assertion, is part and parcel of “the gospel” of the New Testament. That is, in fact, the very apex of the gospel in the NT. It is not a mere "add on" as Owen thinks. I'm very sorry if that complicates things for Owen's revisionistic "new perspective" view of the NT and its background. But it is a fact nevertheless.