Friday, September 21, 2007

"Prove it from Scripture!" Pastor Weedon's challenge

There is an extraordinary post on "private judgement" and "scriptural proof" on Weedon's blog, which is followed by an even more extraordinary discussion. I won't repeat it all here. Go and read it on his blog (including all the comments--he really riled the Orthodox readership!).

Pastor Weedon claims that all doctrines should be "proven" from scripture. Fair enough, but what amounts to "proof"? Take for instance, Pastor Weedon's own proffered "proof" for the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin, Ezekiel 44:2:
And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut."
That might "prove" it for Pastor Weedon, and for St John Chrysostom, St Gregory of Nyssa and St Cyril of Jerusalem. But it would hardly "prove" it for many of his Lutheran colleagues.

Likewise, Catholics believe that all the teachings of the Church are "scriptural"--but we don't expect you to swallow this proposition easily. Getting you to agree with this assessment is the task of Catholic apologetics.


At Friday, September 21, 2007 10:08:00 pm , Blogger Dixie said...

Your point is well made--I started to comment on Pastor Weedon's blog to that effect but didn't want to get myself pulled into that fray. What the Orthodox believe is grounded in the Scriptures but the non-Orthodox are hard pressed to take up our interpretations! Reading a wise elder or the holy men of the desert it is IMPOSSIBLE not to see that connection. References to Scripture, even phrases from Scripture are generously sprinkled throughout. Nonetheless...and an important point...the Orthodox see the Holy Scriptures as a part of Holy Tradition. As long as one requires proof from the Scriptures divorced from Holy will have difficulty reaching the same conclusions (interpretations).

But in reality, the LCMS believes pretty much the same thing regarding Scriptural interpretation. Maybe not point 1 but surely points 2 and 3. No one is invited to read the scriptures and come up with their own interpretations. The LCMS website says as much.

...because many people throughout history (and still today) have twisted and distorted what the Bible says, and have claimed that "the Bible teaches" things that it does not, in fact, teach. These false teachings and teachers have made it necessary for the church throughout the ages to set forth the true and proper understanding of what the Bible teaches.

I am generally less intrigued by posts such as the one Pastor Weedon made than I am by what motived them in the first place.

At Friday, September 21, 2007 11:13:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


Of course Lutherans know that Scripture can be misapplied and misused - it is every time it is read without its own Christological and soteriological key, the one supplied in the NT itself. But as to what motivated the post, it was simple. On another post someone had intimated that for me it was "when" not "if" in regard to Orthodoxy, and I said that no, I had looked long and hard down that path and chosen to remain on the Wittenberg trail. The person wanted to hear more about that and I suggested she stop by for a visit (a little teasingly) or just read the whole blog (surely if there is a purgatory that would be a suitable occupation for one's time there). And I mentioned how much Krauth has helped me in remaining where I am. The more I thought about it, though, the more I wanted to put Krauth's take on private judgment out there for discussion, because it was certainly a different approach than I'd heard before, and one which I very much appreciated. So I tossed it out, not quite expecting the explosion of discussion it got. Christopher Orr had earlier sent me his intriquing paper (which had much that I found useful) and Krauth seemed to be seeking to address some of the concerns Christopher raised. So that's why I put it up. But why on earth didn't you just ask me?

At Friday, September 21, 2007 11:22:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...


The difficulty for my fellow Lutherans who would dispute such a read is that their Symbols do affirm the perpetual virginity of she whom they also term "the most holy virgin":

"und ist ein Jungfrau geblieben." SD VIII:24

And has remained a Virgin. As John Stephenson, that wag, put it: "Well, Lutherans affirm that she was still a virgin in 1580, but beyond that we cannot profess to say." ;)

What happened in Lutheranism that has had disastrous consequences was the loss of her liturgy that was replete with such a key to reading the OT. Where does Gerhard get the idea of Gideon's fleece as a sign of the perpetual virginity? HE SANG IT. It was in the hymns for the Office, and the early generations grew up knowing them. The liturgy TAUGHT the typological key. And thus they also sang of her as the "gate facing east" from Ezekiel. When the force of pietism succeeded in sweeping away the last connections with the Latin hymns that they had continued to sing, but hadn't bothered to translate, we began a process of losing this typological key to the Sacred Scriptures, with the sad result that our churches were subjected to the silliness of higher criticism and the grim seriousness of "grammatical-historical criticism" or whatever the thing is called, which opened the door for a fundamentalist pillaging of our churches.

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:48:00 am , Blogger Dixie said...

But why on earth didn't you just ask me?

Well, because as intriguing as your motivation was none of my business. I was actually watching the subsequent dialogue to see if it would be revealed.

I still haven't learned yet to keep my eyes on my own plate--so to speak. Forgive me.

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 12:52:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Nothing to forgive, dear. I was just perplexed at why you wouldn't ask - I don't think of you as one of those "shy and retiring" types! ;) Much love!

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 6:03:00 am , Blogger eulogos said...

I am sure you mean perpetual virginity, but it came out as perpetual divinity on Sentire! You might want to change this before the Jack Chick types start quoting you.
Susan Peterson

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 7:41:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


I missed that one! That's a hoot!!! SEE, we always knew you Romanists took the Mary thing way too far. ;)

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 9:47:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Hey, that's really weird! I had "virginity" in my mind, and Weedon read "virginity", but the word that was typed was "divinity". SPOOKY, Possums, as Dame Edna would say...

I've corrected it now.

Tell me, Pastor Weedon, what about using Rev. 12 as "proof" of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, and Gabriel's greeting to Mary as "proof" of her Immaculate Conception?

Surely if the Ezekiel 44 passage passes muster as "proof" of the perpetual virginity of Mary, these others must also be beyond challenge?

And further, we have similar scriptural "proofs" of purgatory and of papal infallibility--are you willing to admit them too?

What you seem to say is that if there was a doctrine that was already in the Lutheran tradition at the time of the 16th Century, then you are happy to continue to own it on the very flimsiest (from modern exegetical point of view) scriptural proof, but when it comes to the Catholic doctrines that Lutherans rejected, then we have to provide strenous (modern exegetical) proof based on the literal (rather than the spiritual) reading of the text!

Not fair, Pastor Weedon!!!

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 11:16:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Oh, dear. No, I am NOT saying that at all David. I will confess that I am NOT a modern when it comes to "exegesis" and I am very suspicious of most self-styled modern "exegetes." Bah, humbug! ;)

What I look for is the Christological/typological read of the Sacred Scriptures, especially as this is witnessed by the Church's Tradition. And for Tradition, I tend not to look so much to the Middle Ages as to the insights from the ancient Church because these are what made it into the liturgy, particularly the vast hymnody of the West, which is a shared possession between the Lutherans and the Roman Catholics among others.

About immaculate conception, you might find Luther's words of some interest from his Personal Prayer Book. It was printed first in 1521 and then reprinted numerous times throughout his life. This was from his meditation on the Ave Maria:

In the first place, she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin - something exceedingly great. For God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.

In the second place, God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover God guarded and protected her from all thta might be hurtful to her.

In the third place, she is blessed above all other women, not only because she gave birth without labor, pain, and injury to herself, not as Eve and all other women, but because by the Holy Spirit and without sin she became fertile, conceived, and gave birth in a way granted to no other women.

In the fourth place, her giving birth is blessed in that it was spared the curse upon all children of Eve who are conceived in sin and born to deserve death and damnation. Only the fruit of her body is blessed, and through this birth we are all blessed. (AE 43:40)

Now aren't you boys sorry you tossed him out, eh? ;)

At Saturday, September 22, 2007 11:20:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

Note two that Luther's point 2 MIGHT give you some wiggle room on your perpetual divinity. LOL. ;)

At Sunday, September 23, 2007 3:49:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Two! Grr. Too!

At Thursday, September 27, 2007 12:41:00 am , Anonymous Lucian said...

Citing Ezekiel to Protestants is like beating dead horses with a stick. I speak here from a long recent experience.


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