Thursday, October 14, 2004

The best of the best of the best

Kevin Johnson said I'm taking the easy way out by engaging with sub-Reformed apologetics like James White and Eric Svendsen. He said I should deal with the primary source materials of the Reformation. He said I'm not really "getting to the bottom of Protestantism but merely feeling comfortable about rejecting a fundamentalism that even many Reformed Protestants would reject today".

My reply:

Dear Kevin,

I intend to read (and keep reading) the best of the best of the best theology: I'm making my way through the _Institutes_, and Mathison's _Sola Scriptura_, Ref (when I can), etc.

But all that takes time. In the meanwhile, I have a query for you. I would like you to explain how, apart from his rejection of the riches of Christian tradition that you take a liking to, White (or Svendsen, et al.) does not press authentically Calvinist/Reformed arguments against Roman Catholicism. I mean, he may not embrace the fuller sacramental and ecclesial depths of Calvinism which Ref is working to unearth, but in what ways exactly would you or do you reject his attack on the Mass and the Eucharist, the Blessed Virgin Mary, holy icons, Catholic (or Orthodox) soteriology, the mystical and intercessory communion of saints, the deuterocanonicals, the papacy/episcopacy, etc.?

If White and Svendsen's anti-Catholic work is so sub-Reformed -- and if it didn't cost you the last hint of Reformed credibility some people give you! -- I invite you to refute White's _The Roman Catholic Controversy_ and Svendsen's _Evangelical Answers_. But, unless you're willing to refute their anti-Catholic arguments, how can you say I'm not getting a good defense of Reformed theology *as it impinges on my acceptance or rejection of Rome*, regardless how it impinges on the construction of a Second Christendom?

It sounds like you're cutting off White's plainly Calvinist nose just to spite his plainly fundamentalist face. In White's defense (I suppose), I don't think this is fair. White's less than "catholic" Calvinism does not in any way detract from his more than anti-Roman Calvinism. You may say he doesn't represent the best of Reformed apologetics because he leaves out important parts of the story, but do you seriously believe he doesn't marshal the best arguments available against "Roman Catholic claims"?

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