Saturday, December 30, 2006

Silly Prejean; Truth is for Christians

As promised, here is my response to Jonathan Prejean’s “Christmas Comes Early” post. Prejean's comments will appear in red, and my responses will follow in black:

“I thought Eric Svendsen had followed his usual M.O. of fleeing discussion when it actually gets to substance, then revising it long after the fact. Instead, he decided to revise history immediately after the fact after I had announced I was leaving the discussion with Steve Hays.”

My timing is dictated by responsibilities I have—not by the timing of Prejean’s rants.

“Unluckily for "Eric the Yellow," I was paying attention, so his attempt at shadow-boxing in the guise of responding to me will be exposed to the clear light of truth. And what better way to celebrate the feast of the Incarnation that to flush out a Nestorian, a sworn enemy of the Alexandrian Doctor of Christology, St. Cyril!”

“Eric the Yellow”? I realize Prejean is young; but I didn’t know he was twelve. Oh, that’s right; he’s now a sycophant of Art “Jack Chick” Sippo, and takes his cue from him. And Prejean flatters himself. He assumes I have a much higher regard for what he does and thinks than I actually do. In fact, I care very little whether Prejean was paying attention or not. His voice in this—or in anything for that matter—is so minor, it is barely worth responding to. There are not many who even read his blog; and that’s not just my opinion, it is a technical observation. In fact, good luck finding Prejean’s blog if you don’t already have it bookmarked. Even a Google search on the name of the blog or the name of the author--or both--will yield only third-party references to it, which means it simply does not draw much traffic.

“Good. You're willing to admit that you're calling me an idiot, which chews up your credibility faster than a wood chipper shreds a branch.”

And why exactly would someone lose credibility for that? Again, Prejean assumes here that I have a higher view of him than I actually do.

“Svendsen evidently doesn't realize how senseless this is. People don't reassert arguments they're embarrassed about losing. When they reassert arguments, it's because they think they already won, not because they feel the need to bolster them by reassertion.”

Again, not necessarily. Someone as disingenuous as Prejean knows that if he admits defeat, his “catholic cause” goes out the window. His M.O. is to engage in sophistry and spin the dialogue in his favor. Nothing particularly “senseless” about that, particularly when we’re dealing with someone who has demonstrated a propensity to lie.

“Also, if a person were using this tactic, the person in question would deliberately NOT link the responses, just like Svendsen didn't.”

That’s ridiculous. Of course such a person would. It would be idiotic not to, since anyone with a search engine could find the dialogue on my blog (unlike Prejean’s blog). And then such a person would engage in sophistry and spin to make it look like he is right. In fact, I’ll prove it. Just read how Prejean spins his backpedaling incident. It is indisputable that Prejean originally thought Nestorius taught Christ was two persons; and then when confronted with the evidence of patristic scholars pretended he always knew Nestorius’s view had been misunderstood.

"No one can explain" is a philosophical claim that Svenden fails to back up.”

Just because Prejean has deceived himself into thinking he can explain it, does not make it so.

“The assertion that the Scriptures only affirm what Svendsen says is question-begging both on this assertion that Scripture is an exclusive divine authority and that dogmatic propositions are extracted from Scripture based only on his exegetical method.”

It’s the only divine authority that functions as common ground in this discussion; hence, it’s the only divine authority that is worth anything in this discussion. Even the councils themselves do not claim to have additional revelation—rather, they work with their understanding of Scripture. Prejean loses this point.

“Little surprise that a Calvinist says this; my brand spanking new copy of Helm's John Calvin's Ideas says much the same thing. Calvin doesn't consider the communicatio idiomatum to refer to anything real, which is Nestorianism.”

Here’s another example of Prejean’s “dazzling” logic at work. And it’s the same “logic” that would allow me to conclude that since Prejean does not recognize the apostles can act as a rule of faith, then he doesn’t believe they are real people. And since he doesn’t believe they are real people, he’s a Docetist. Therefore, Roman Catholicism is Docetic. See how easy that was?

“And for the record, anything two conflicting propositions whose conflict can't be explained are just nonsense, which is exactly what Nestorianism was.”

Prejean's underlying humanistic rationalism betrays him. If he can’t explain it, it’s not real. He knows exactly how God is one and three at the same time. Prejean can explain that. He knows exactly how God can have no beginning—that there was never an instant when God had a first thought. He knows the mechanics of how God can be all places at all times. Prejean can explain perfectly how the hypostatic union works. He has penetrating insight into just how all those things came together. And he can do all this without Scripture! Prejean’s completely comprehensible God is, unfortunately, nothing more than an idol made in his own image. This is the same rationale Jehovah's Witnesses use to deny the Trinity.

“But of course, Svendsen is either confused or lying on this point, because Christologically, it refers to the single subject. Here's Svendsen's misunderstanding of my position. Mary's status has nothing to do with it; I want to get the Christological statement correct.”

No, he doesn’t; He wants agreement for one purpose only—so that he can push a Marian agenda. The entire dialogue began as an informal discussion on the title “mother of God,” and the Christology of the fifth century was a side point (introduced by Prejean to bolster his argument) that eventually took center stage. Prejean has either forgotten the original discussion that prompted my series, or (more likely) he is a liar.

“But his view of Cyril has been unanimously crushed by the scholarship, and that includes Catholics (Wessel, Weinandy, Keating), Orthodox (McGuckin, Gavrilyuk, Russell), and Protestants (McKinion). “

Unanimously? So, there are no other patristic scholars except the seven Prejean mentions above? Here again we are treated to Prejeans idea of “scholarship.”

“It's perfectly fine to use the term in an unqualified way; it is only if qualified that it becomes heterodox (Mary is the Mother of God as God). If Christ is truly a single divine subject, then Mother of God is the norm, and the openly heterodox statement would be "mother of a man." This is yet another demonstration of Svendsen's ignorance of the theological use of this term (his laughable statements about meter theou being the only worse howlers).

Except, of course, that the qualifier for theotokos in Chalcedon is “as regards his humanity”—the very thing Prejean has just claimed is “heterodox.”

“Except for the pesky FACT that we use the term "Mother of God" in the same way Cyril does, per every recent scholar on the point. But as usual with Svendsen, misrepresent the view, respond AS IF the misrepresentation were true, and repeat.”

And once again, Cyril’s mater theou was not used in the proclamations; so, no, theotokos means “God bearer,” not “mother of God.”

“The Platonic concepts and Aristotelian categories are simply explanatory tools (and by the way, what training does Svendsen have in philosophy to make ANY statements about Aristotelian and Platonic concepts, much less study in patristics to know how the Fathers applied them?).”

Philosophy classes were a required part of my program. One now needs an advanced degree in philosophy to know about Aristotle and Plato? To use Prejan’s own logic, since he has absolutely no training in patristics or any related discipline, what makes him qualified at all to speak on any of this? Now to the point; tools are useful only if those tools are the right tools. I can’t drive a nail with a screwdriver. I can’t rightly loosen a bolt with a hacksaw. Aristotelian categories are out of place when attempting to explain what has not been revealed to anyone.

“The Fathers deployed them to explain Scripture, not the other way around. But Svendsen doesn't know anything about the Fathers, so how would he know this? You know you've got someone when they resort to the "inexplicable to finite minds" defense. Without some sort of philosophical explanation, that means "my view is nonsense, and I hold it for no good reason."

Prejean just continues to dig himself deeper and deeper into heresy. Here is why Prejean’s open rejection of Scripture in these matters is so dangerous. Notice how his thinking compares to that of the Great Apostle:

“For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of their disobedience, so these also now have been disobedient, in order that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. For God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all. Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:30-36)

Paul himself could not explain God’s dealings with man, that he would “shut up all men in disobedience” just so he could “show mercy to all.” Instead, he throws his hands in the air and exclaims, “Your judgments are unsearchable and your ways unfathomable!” According to Paul, “NO ONE has known the mind of the Lord.” Prejean, of course, just thinks Paul’s lack of philosophical explanation is “nonsense.” Paul admits he does not know whether he was “in the body or out of the body” when he was caught up to the third heaven (2 Cor 12). Prejean, of course, can explain all of that, and thinks Paul’s explanation of “unknowability” is mere “nonsense” and a “philosophical copout.”

And just to show that the early church followed this approach to that which had not been revealed, here is what Cyril of Jerusalem (the “good” Cyril) had to say about the matter:

“But if the Lord permit, I will set it forth, according to my powers, with demonstration from the Scriptures. For when we are dealing with the divine and holy mysteries of the faith, we must not deliver anything whatsoever, without the sacred Scriptures, nor let ourselves be misled by mere probability, or by marshalling of arguments. And do not simply credit me, when I tell you these things, unless you get proof from the Holy Scriptures of the things set forth by me. For this salvation of ours by faith is not by sophistical use of words, but by proof from the sacred Scriptures (Catechetical Lectures, Lecture IV, Art. 17). . . . For these articles of our faith were not composed out of human opinion, but are the principle points collected out of the whole of Scripture to complete a single doctrinal formulation of the faith” (Ibid., Lecture V, Art. 12). . . . Let us be content with this knowledge [taken from Scripture] and not busy ourselves with questions about the divine nature or hypostasis. I would have spoken of that had it been contained in Scripture. Let us not venture where Scripture does not lead, for it suffices for our salvation to know that there is Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit. . . . But the Holy Spirit himself has not spoken in the Scriptures about the Son’s generation from the Father. Why then busy yourself over something that the Holy Spirit has not expressed in the Scriptures? You do not know all the Scriptures, and yet must get to know what is not in the Scriptures? (Ibid., Lecture XI, Art. 12).

According to Prejean, Cyril is just a blithering idiot.

“I consider the assertion that Scripture taken as a historical document doesn't teach a single-subject Christology ridiculous (John 1 alone suffices to show it, and the Arians never managed to evade the logic of that passage)”

Who denies that Christ is a single subject? Does Prejean imagine this is what I’m talking about when I say that the mechanics of how the union of God and man in Christ takes place is not something Scripture addresses? Even the Godhead is addressed as a single subject—that doesn’t explain the complexity of the Trinity. Prejean’s reticence in venturing into Scripture is now beginning to make a lot more sense.

“but even if it didn't, my view of Scriptural authority doesn't require that something be taught in Scripture as historically interpreted to be dogmatic.”

Well, I think we all know that Prejean’s view of scriptural authority doesn’t even require a Bible. He rejects the apostles’ teachings and writings, and has given them the same status as heretical religious books like the Quran and the Book of Mormon.

“Regardless, since I am talking about a single-subject Christology, which has only a very limited application to "Mary's status and role," Svendsen is yet again responding to his own misrepresentation of what I am saying.”

And Prejean’s continued mention of a “single-subject Christology,” as though own view of Christ is something other than that, is nothing less than misrepresentation of my view.

“If I were actually talking about these dogmas (Assumption, Immaculate Conception, Queen of Heaven, etc.), I would just admit that they aren't taught in Scripture viewed as a historical document. It's a unnecessary claim that I don't feel compelled to make, so it's easier just to abandon it. Nothing "terrifying" there.”

That’s not even the point. We all know that these things aren’t taught in Scripture—which is why Prejean insists on appealing to the title theototos. If we can agree that Mary is “mother of God,” then we cannot deny the privileges that attend that title (so goes the reasoning). It’s not strange at all that Prejean would focus on this issue to advance a larger agenda for Mary. It’s something that’s done all the time in RC pop-apologetics.

“Same old thing. Svendsen is talking about Mary's status; I'm talking about Christology. Yes, I think Augustine and Irenaeus both held to single-subject Christology, which is all that the title "Mother of God" means.”

No it’s not the same old thing. The Augustinian quotes I supplied show that Augustine spoke of Mary’s motherhood only in terms of his humanity, and denied it involved his divinity. That’s just what is at issue here in the proper understanding of theotokos.

I quoted Augustine:

At that time, therefore, when about to engage in divine acts, He repelled, as one unknown, her who was the mother, not of His divinity, but of His [human] infirmity" (Tract. in Ioannem CXIX, 1)

Prejean responded:

“And when we speak with the qualification of speaking about natures, this is entirely routine. Since Svendsen evidently can't distinguish between nature and person (subject), I can see why this is confusing.”

There’s nothing even remotely present in this passage that speaks of Prejean’s distinction between “nature” and “person.” Yes, of course he’s referring to nature—but for Augustine, that’s the only meaningful way to express that union. All Augustine is interested in affirming is that Mary can be viewed as “mother of Jesus” only by virtue of his humanity, and NOT by virtue of his divinity. Hence, the title “mother of God” would simply be disallowed by Augustine in any context.

I quoted Augustine:

“Why, then, said the Son to the mother, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come?" Our Lord Jesus Christ was both God and man. According as He was God, He had not a mother; according as He was man, He had.”

Prejean responded:

“Of course, this is the very same misrepresentation Svendsen is making about me, to suggest that I mean "Mother of God" to refer to nature and not person. So it really just falls in with the big strategy: misrepresent, accuse based on the misinterpretation, and repeat.”

Augustine insisted, “According as He was God, he had no mother.” Prejean somehow interprets this as evidence that Augustine would have given full assent to the title “mother of God.” I’ll let the reader decide for himself whether that’s even a reasonable option.

“Svendsen's anti-intellectual bias against Aristotelian concepts doesn't mean they can't accurately explain the material content of Scripture.”

Anti-intellectual? No. Careful to make a distinction between the paradigm of the New Testament writers and the paradigm of the fifth-century writers? Yes. I’ll say this once again. Aristotelian categories are woefully inadequate to explain Scripture because they are based on different paradigms. To engage in such an activity would be equivalent to using postmodern metanarratives to accurately explain propositional truth; or to use a screwdriver to hammer a nail.

“It's the "biblically constrained" part that strikes me as ridiculous. I have absolutely no reason to think that Scriptural content is different than any other content in terms of being explained by logical concepts.”

This, again, just demonstrates Prejean’s ignorance of Scripture. “Biblically constrained” just means the Bible doesn’t address it, or addresses it in a specific but limited way. Why is that ridiculous? Is Prejean under the impression that Scripture addresses every conceivable question that might come up? And that doesn’t at all imply Scripture is illogical, or that we cannot arrive at a systematic theology of God. What is does imply is that any systematic theology must not transgress or “run ahead of” what Scripture actually affirms—because at that point it is no longer the use of logic that is at play, but logical fallacies. As an example, I can affirm that my dog has dark eyes, and that his coat is dark. If that’s all the information I provide, Prejean has no right to conclude that my dog’s eyes and coat are black. They may be; but no logic is going to figure that out. There are any number of options that could fall under the category of “dark” (brown, almond, chocolate, etc.) and it’s nothing but pure speculation to assume dark = black. Worse, it’s sophistry of the worst kind to try to claim you really are able to deduce that dark = black. That’s just what Prejean is attempting to do in terms of figuring out something about the God-Man that has not been divinely revealed. Human categories of logic cannot explain how God is both three and one, how God can have no beginning, how God is at all times everywhere present, what heaven looks like, what the makeup of the resurrection body is—and yes, how the union of God and man takes place in Christ. If Prejean doesn’t accept these categories, let him explain the “mystery” of the mass in logical terms—or is that no longer a mystery to Prejean? My goodness, even Trent recognizes this concept: “If any one say that in Divine Revelation there are contained no mysteries properly so called, but that through reason rightly developed all the dogmas of faith can be understood and demonstrated from natural principles: let him be anathema” (Sess. III, Canons, 4. De fide et Ratione, 1). Is Prejean now beyond Trent?

“I don't think that the Scriptures are entirely incomprehensible either. However, unlike Svendsen, I think they teach a great deal that requires a complicated conceptual apparatus to understand, particularly when dealing with the nature of God and the like. Svendsen spurns investigation in these areas, dismissing them as inscrutably mysterious, which I consider contempt for the truth in Scripture.”

So, according to Prejean, no one could understand scriptural concepts of God until they were defined in the fifth century. Not that Prejean has any idea what the “truth of Scripture” is. But, here again is that “contemptuous” Trent: “If any one say that in Divine Revelation there are contained no mysteries properly so called, but that through reason rightly developed all the dogmas of faith can be understood and demonstrated from natural principles: let him be anathema.” To Prejean, this is a “philosophical copout.”

“And as far as viewing them as "plainly written," it simply reflects Svendsen's assumption going in that they will be. To think that the Christological concepts in, e.g., the Gospel of John are as trivial and Svendsen thinks they are strikes me as an insult to the Evangelist. The Fathers exalt the hidden wisdom in Scripture; Svendsen's reductionist approach cuts all of that off as carelessly as a mower slices a blade of grass.”

Apparently Prejean has no idea that someone can “write plainly” about an incomprehensible subject. “In the beginning was the word; and the word was with God, and the word was God. . . . and the word became flesh and dwelt among us” is plainly written. From this we know that the Word was God from the beginning and that he became man. But the plainly written words do not venture into how that occurred. It is the latter that the councils tried to explain, and they did so in convoluted ways because they were not content with the simplicity of Scripture.

“Except that this view of Cyril has been shredded by the recent scholarship.”

Yes; every interpretation that conflicts with Prejean’s is always “shredded” by Prejeans selective use of scholarship.

“For purposes of legal exegesis, which is to say as a matter of authority, this is perfectly well within the discipline; it is not EISEGETICAL but EXEGETICAL. There are plenty of ways to answer Roe v. Wade and its progeny as being defective forms of legal reasoning (including natural law) without the absurd consequence of tying our hands to the historical meaning even explictly contrary to the intentions of its authors, who understood it to be the charter of a nation to be applied by later generations, not merely some mundane catalog of then-current beliefs.”

The legal analogy was an analogy only, Prejean’s long sidebar notwithstanding. I assumed Prejean was conservative, not progressive, in his reading for the Constitution. My mistake. Prejean apparently believes there is merit in reading historical documents anachronistically, and that the Constitution supports for a woman’s right to kill her infant. So be it. That method of interpretation is not one that is acceptable in biblical exegesis.

“This is one reason that Svendsen's view of textual authority looks so silly to me, and indeed, this is what most Catholics (and particularly Catholic lawyers like Karl Keating) have in mind when they critique the Protestant rule of authority as anarchic.”

Suffice it to say that it’s a good thing catholic lawyers are not in charge of Scripture.

“Legal exegesis and historical exegesis are different disciplines, and trying to use one in place of the other would be absurd (and I've yet to see even a decent philosophical argument for why historical exegesis is the right standard for Scriptural authority).”

Maybe it’s because Scripture is a historical document. Does Prejean also believe there was a special “Holy Ghost Greek” used for the New Testament?

“Likewise for exegeting Scripture as a mundane document if its revelatory purpose was not for it to be one. But Svendsen here shows no understanding that there are even different methods of exegesis.”

That’s because there aren’t “different methods of exegesis”; only varying genre of literature that need to be exegeted, and the recognition of the idiosyncratic exegetical constraints for each genre. Does Prejean look for hidden or unlikely meanings in a legal document? I doubt he’d win many cases that way (assuming he has even tried a case at all). I am no lawyer, but as a business owner I have to deal with them all the time. The law firm used by my company is very prestigious, and Prejean has no doubt heard of them. I have used them for contracts, partnership agreements, and, yes, even for patent issues (logos have to be patented). I can tell you with certainty that they do not suffer novel interpretations of law, or look for hidden meanings in documents. Things like intent, context, conditions, and wording are all important aspects when they are “exegeting” legal documents. But, perhaps Prejean can get away with allegorical interpretations of legal documents in Louisiana—or perhaps that state allows him to “add to” a legal document that’s already been signed, sealed, and delivered. In any case, whatever “method of exegesis” Prejean thinks he can get away with in legal circles doesn’t apply to biblical exegesis.

“So like I said, Svendsen doesn't want to go here, because anyone who would be so incredibly ignorant as to say that the discipline of law doesn't teach exegesis is so oblivious to reality that he doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.”

I didn’t say exegesis is not taught in law school. I said biblical exegesis is no different than the exegesis of any document of antiquity. If Prejean has training in Constitutional law, that is completely irrelevant to the point I made. He has no training in any discipline related to patristics or biblical exegesis. The latter two are related disciplines in that the patristics are early interpretations of Scripture. But I do not see how Prejean’s study in Constitutional law is relavant to any point I made. He himself admits that the two disciplines are different.

“Credibilility check again. The question is whether an irrational person can manage a 3.9 in both undergraduate and graduate education and then study at Harvard Law School and work in a field in which these sorts of exegetical skills are used every day.”

Here’s another example of Prejean’s dazzling logic. Getting a 3.9 GPA at Harvard means that you’ll always think correctly on every issue, and you’ll always be an expert at any unrelated discipline into which you venture. And that’s why all Harvard graduates who have earned a 3.9 GPA can be found fighting for Christian truth! Seems to me someone once said: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” Oh, silly me. I forgot; Prejean does not countenance Scripture.

“On the other hand, someone who studied the subject in what appears to be an adolescent rebellion against his Catholic parents, whose master's degree is about 20 years out of date, who got a "doctorate" at a school with zero scholarly credentials, who is a complete non-entity in reputable scholarship, and who doesn't even work in the field might have a slight accountability problem. I can't afford to let my skills slip, but Svendsen could turn into a raving lunatic and never know the difference. Think about it.”

Yes, the entire legal world is on pins and needles waiting breathlessly for Jonathan Prejean to “keep up” with his skills. Let me disabuse Prejean of his fallacious thinking. Patristics is not my field of study, and only marginally an area of interest for me. I make no apologies for not “keeping up” with that field. But I can assure Prejean there is no slouching when it comes to my field; and my “20 years out of date” masters degree has been diligently “kept up” to date. Although I do not work in the field full-time, I do work as a tutor in NT for my alma mater. And just as a reminder to Prejean; whatever he may think about my credentials, my doctoral work not only passed examination by committee, but has been endorsed by major scholars in my field, and related fields—including church history. What, in contrast, has Prejean ever published that received comparable commendations?

“No doubt the Apostles are "living" in a real sense, and the Orthodox have even tried to make authority out of this, although I am skeptical of how real such authority can be. But this is Svendsen's MO again: I said that there is no LIVING person who has such authority; he accuses me of saying that there are no PERSONS; he responds AS IF I had said what he misattributes to me.”

And so, Prejean confirms his Docetism. “The word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword.”

“Certainly, the intellect can know things about the God that created it, but I am not denying revelation. I am saying that the way the Fathers (and I) give authority to texts is not the way Svendsen does, and Svendsen's concept of giving textual authority by sheer historical exegesis has much more in common with Muslims that Christians.”

Well, then Prejean would just be plain wrong about that, because the fathers did indeed give primacy to the text of Scripture. Note Cyril of Jerusalem’s words cited above, for pete’s sake. How can someone who claims so much knowledge about the fathers be so ignorant of what they believed about Scripture? None of them—not one—would have relegated Scripture to the status of the Quran or the Book of Mormon as Prejean has done. Prejean remains a biblical heretic.

“Except, as usual per the Svendsen M.O., this isn't what I said. What I reject is Svendsen's method of giving authority solely to what the Apostles historically meant, which is not what I believe even the Apostles had in mind for Scripture.”

Prejean has said nothing to clear him of the charge that he is, in fact, a biblical heretic by virtue of his blatant disregard for the teaching of the Apostles.

“Let's move our eye back to the ball. Svendsen is saying here that Scripture does not teach single-subject Christology, . . . “

More Prejean lies. I never said Christ is not a single subject. I said that we cannot explain how the union of God and man took place, but that we must affirm his full deity as well as his full humanity, and that anything beyond that is mere speculation.

“which is all the term "Mother of God" identifies.”

Not true; theotokos was intended to convey that Christ was deity even in the womb.

“He is also saying that all of this is shrouded in mystery and can't be parsed coherently, which is more or less an admission that he can't explain how Christianity is coherent, but he believes it anyway.”

I’ll take my chances and stick with the Scriptures on this one. If Prejean wants to boast of his brilliant intellect before God and explain to God in the judgment that he had Him all figured out and had no need of biblical constraints in this, more power to him.

“Well, Svendsen can revel in his incoherence all he likes, but I think that single-subject Christology is taught in Scripture, that it is logically necessary for the Scriptural concept of God to be coherent, and that is it both reasonable and necessary to deploy suitable philosophical concepts to explain this.”

Necessary, eh? Then I guess Christianity just did not exist until the fifth century.

“So if Svendsen affirms Nestorius's orthodoxy vis-a-vis Chalcedon, it's simply proof that he is following a discredited and dated line of reasoning that finds no support in the current state of the scholarship. And since I also happen to think that Nestorius's view entails a denial of Christ's divinity as described by Chalcedon, I have no qualms about accusing Svendsen and anyone who agrees with him of being heterodox.”

And as I’ve already demonstrated, Prejean is a Docetist, since his belief entails that he doesn’t accept the apostles as real people who can function as a rule of faith. See how easy this is?

“What is particularly important to note, though, is that Svendsen has confused the idea of Nestorius having some legitimate concern that originated in Antiochene thought with the idea that Nestorius actually articulated such a thing. Even many of the sources that concede the former reject the latter."

So, in Prejean’s view, Nestorius was condemned by Cyril and his cronies for an unarticulated belief?

“Because I have access to the works of the scholars in the field, and very little turns on the knowledge of primary languages. The scholars' arguments explain clearly what the reasoning is where they do, and the disputes are not over critical and translational issues, on which the understanding is generally unanimous. The issues under discussion here do not turn on such details.”

But they do turn on the ability to understand history, Scripture, and theology—disciplines which are lost on Prejean.

“The only presupposition I have is that we have been in the Church Age from Pentecost to the present day. I entirely reject that the Fathers thought that "The early church for them was the New Testament," because I don't think they distinguished the early Church from the one they had right in front of them, as I do not.”

Ah; I see. And so when Arianism held sway in all the bishoprics in both East and West for nearly a century, that was the “church.” In other words, the fourth-century church which rejected the divinity of Christ could not have been in error because they were indistinguishable from the first-century church.

“This is why I think historical exegesis is inapt as a standard for Biblical authority; it treats the Church as if there was a qualitative gap between the Church of the Apostles and the Church today. There are not Apostles today, but to the extent the Apostles formed a Christian community subject to certain objective norms of authority, that very same institution persists until the present day (just as the America founded with the Declaration of Independence is the same America today). What Svendsen considers "baggage," I consider a conceptual articulation of the same faith, just as I consider correct legal decisions to be conceptual articulations of the same law.”

Except for that little gaff about the fourth century Arian Catholic church.

“Whether it will meet Svendsen's standards of what counts as "exegesis" or "biblical orthodoxy" is a matter of supreme indifference to me.”

If Prejean is so indifferent to my opinion, why does he bother to right a 20-page response to it?

“Scripture doesn't say much about these subjects absent some fairly rigorous and diligent philosophical examination illuminated by natural theology.”

Here we go again with Prejean’s “wisdom that is wiser than God’s”

“By and large, the historical claims of the New Testament aren't matters of dispute; the real dispute is over the communicative content, particularly whether the Apostles were talking solely to their audience or not (and that carries tremendous significance for the method of exegesis one selects).”

I’ve addressed this point sufficiently in my previous response to Prejean. Prejean is a docetist on this point, plain and simple.

“scholarship does not consist of taking what you learned more than a decade ago in graduate school and treating it as "unassailable," nor does it mean that you can keep on talking about the scholarship when you aren't keeping current.

No; but what it does mean is that you don’t place all your eggs in one basket that has not yet been responded to by whatever you think the “old school” is.

“And Oakes says no such thing to my knowledge; he simply rejects that Chalcedon was a revision of St. Leo's work (and I happen to agree with him, contra McGuckin). But with respect to Nestorius, even Oakes can't find a cavil against McGuckin's work:

First of all, I do not care whether you agree with him or not since your opinion on these things is completely worthless. Nevertheless, here is the text of Oakes’ review to which I referred:

Here Cyril was certainly bolder than the Latin theologians, but the lack of theological daring in Latin Christology has somewhat slanted McGuckin's interpretation of Pope Leo I, whose famous Tome was read out before the assembled bishops at Chalcedon to unanimous acclaim: "Peter has spoken through Leo!" The standard Western account of that episode claims for Rome a balance of approach lacking in the more disputatious Greek theologians, who were still too besotted by the neo-Platonic speculations common in the East. McGuckin disagrees. He points out, rightly, that the bishops not only accepted Leo's intervention as the voice of Peter but went on to say, "So also did Cyril teach." (Cyril had died seven years before Chalcedon.) According to McGuckin, the bishops accepted Leo because, and only because, he taught the same thing as Cyril, who alone was the test for Christological orthodoxy. McGuckin also makes the much more radical claim that the decree of Chalcedon was meant as a deliberative corrective to Leo's Tome. This thesis will not stand up to scrutiny. The decree the Eastern bishops supported dearly represented a middle passage between the extremes of Antioch and Alexandria. Cyril had favored the term "hypostasis" to denote the union of divine and human in Jesus, while the Antiochenes preferred "person." Chalcedon used both terms. Similarly, Cyril generally spoke of a hypostatic union "from" two natures, whereas Leo and the Antiochenes insisted on the union taking place "in" two natures and that is the formulation Chalcedon chose. Finally, we know that the Alexandrians themselves detected these "concessions" to Antiochene theology because Cyril's more hotheaded successors (Eutyches and Dioscorus, primarily) actively rejected the Council. That rejection soon led to the Monophysite heresy, which lives on to this day in the Coptic and Ethiopian churches.

Incidentally, notice here that Oakes countenances the difference between the Antiochene “in two natures” and the Cyrillene “from two natures”—the very phrases I used and for which Prejean accused me of “not keeping up with scholarship.” Apparently, Oakes has not been informed of Prejean’s correction.

“Professor Pelikan has gone on to his eternal reward, but Pelikan, Kelly, and McGrath are considered in the literature, as evidenced by the bibliography of the above works. To the extent that they conflict with anything I have said, they've been answered.”

In other words, Prejean has declined to petition these scholars for a correction, who surely know of McGuckin’s views by now. Which really means he doesn’t think he’ll get one. And that’s just the point of my corrective to Prejean on how to do scholarship.

“But in point of fact, Svendsen hasn't actually shown that they hold his belief, and he is wrong about it.”

Go back and re-read my series on Historical Theology, Mr. Prejean. I’m not going to do your homework for you.

“To reiterate, I don't reject the authority of Scripture; I reject the authority of those who treat it like the Qu'ran.”

Actually, Prejean does indeed reject the authority of Scripture. And it was he and no one else who relegated it to the pit of the Quran. Here are his own words on this that he is now attempting to backpedal:

“Anyway, your misunderstanding on Catholic authority is somewhat beside the point. I have nothing to hide; I have never been anything other than willing to yield the field if you want to discuss matters of Biblical exegesis, because I don't share your concept of Scriptural authority. From my perspective, it's about as interesting to me as an argument from the Book of Mormon or the Qu'ran; we might as well be reading different books.”

Prejean continues:

“And "not speculating" is no excuse when you affirm exactly what the single-subject Christology requires you to affirm. It doesn't really matter whether you that you are doing it; Nestorius himself didn't believe that he was, but his denial was incoherent and illogical.”

And, once again, using this same rationale, Prejean is a Docetist.

“Apart from Apollinaris not actually believing that (he believed that Christ was a divine person with a human body not a human nature, including a rational soul), the Chalcedonian confession of faith is that Christ is the Word of God, a divine person who assumed a human nature. This is undoubted; why Svendsen continues to deny it is beyond me.”

I do not deny that Christ is a divine person with a human nature. What I deny is that is all he is. As I already stated, he was fully a man—not merely a human nature. That’s why I insisted that both the human and the divine are bound together in Christ and constitute his person. This affirms the oneness of Christ and the full humanity of Christ, without attempting to speculate how all this tales place.

“Plenty of Protestants accept the Incarnation and divinity of Christ; the problem is that you don't (and Calvin probably didn't either).”

Yes, and once again, Prejean is a Docetist. See how easy that is?

“Your position in the "apollinarimonophysite" article is Nestorian. It's sheerly incoherent to say that Christ is not a divine person”

Stop with the lies, Mr. Prejean. I have never stated that Christ is not a divine person—I have always said that is not ALL he is. That’s why you constantly arrive at the wrong conclusions—you are incapable of getting the arguments right.

“So you admit that you don't understand the Catholic position and have no business responding to it.”

I defy anyone to find where I admitted not understanding the catholic position. Another example of Prejean’s inability to rightly understand even a contemporary statement.