Saturday, June 25, 2005

The fatal flaw in James White's worldview

James White says that he doesn't have the time to respond to the critique that I posted in this thread on Patrick Madrid's forum. But based on his citation of 1 Cor. 1-2, his implication is that I am somehow dealing in the "wisdom of men," while his own philosophy is "grounded in the inspired text." But White is simply a wolf in sheep's clothing, trying to hide from the fact that his own philosophy not only originates in human reasoning entirely outside of the Word of God but rather partakes of fundamental Christological error, which is what happens when you don't learn from church history.

White says:
Now, Crimson Catholic may choke when I say this, but the only sound Christian philosophy is that which is grounded in the inspired text. And, though he will utterly blow a circuit here, I believe exegesis is, in fact, the "queen of the theological arts," the most important of the fields of study, and that it is foundational to all else, including systematic theology, Christian philosophy, apologetics and the like.

Oh, I entirely agree. In fact, if you read Dei Verbum, you'd know that Catholics entirely agree too. The question is what philosophy one brings to exegesis. In other words, in evaluating Scripture, do you start from the historical reality of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, or do you instead start from the fallible limitations of humanity? That's what determines whether you allow exegesis of the text to include spiritual exegesis, wherein the true meaning of Scripture can be also realized in the Holy Spirit by pious reflection on Scripture within the life and Tradition of the Church, or whether you limit the true meaning of Scripture according to human limitations. White's "grammatical-historical" method is a human invention, plainly and simply, and to limit the true meaning of Scripture by that human method makes Scripture into a mere created thing, much like Arianism makes Christ into a mere created thing. But Scripture is not a mere created thing; it is the transcendent Word of God, God-breathed (inspired) by the Holy Spirit.

Orthodox Christians start from the historically real Christ, fully God and fully man, not from Arian presuppositions that cannot be reconciled with the reality of the God-man. That fosters a recognition of the Word of God as a union of the transcendent and the created, not one at the expense of the other. Indeed, it is hardly a coincidence that Arian heretics such as Maximinus were the ones arguing against the transcendent quality of Scripture, while the orthodox St. Athanasius risked his own life and suffered exile in order to defend the reading of Scripture in the life of the Church. White's faith in human reason is simply the old serpent of Arianism resurrected from the grave, and that's why it is so ridiculous (and completely insupportable) for him to argue that St. Athanaius supported sola scriptura.

So why am I wasting my time with White, whose claim of historical continuity with the risen Christ is as fanciful as that of Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons? Simply because their absurdity from a historical perspective is obvious, while James White's is the insidious Arian venom that has infected the orthodox Christian community before. Nor is it a case, as with the Reformers, where they endorsed serious errors (including Monophysitism for Luther, Nestorianism for Calvin, and quite obvious Monotheletism in both cases) in a sincere effort to act for the good of the Church, an effort inherited my a large number of Protestants of the present day who are attempting to reconcile their theology with the historical Church. Their concept of sola scriptura was inseparable from the life of the Church, nothing like the bile of heresy that White swallows without blinking.

So perhaps White should convince me why I should abandon the true faith of the Christian Church to accept what would require me to deny the historical reality of Christ, his man-made tradition of the exclusive "grammatical-historical method." I have an idea what St. Paul would say about accepting the "wisdom of men" in place of the Cross.