Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Protestant vs Catholic Audio Debate.

Catholic apologist Patrick Madrid in his website contains (among other good resources) a Protestant vs Catholic audio debate entitled, "What Still Divides US? A High-Powered Catholic Protestant Debate". On the side of the Protestants are URC (United Reformed Church) minister and professor of church history at Westminister Escondido, Robert Godfrey (whose entry in Theonomy: A Reformed Critique I recall enjoying), Rod Rosenbladt, Lutheran minister and professor of theology at Concordia Irvine, and Michael Horton, another minister from URC and professor of theology at Westminister Escondido.

Representing the Roman Catholic position are, William Marshner, Thomistic scholar and professor of theology at Christendom College(1), Patrick Madrid, Catholic apologist, and finally Bob Sungenis, Catholic apologist.

This debate was held over several days, was held at a Protestant church in Southern California and was sponsored by the Protestant ministries network C.U.R.E (which later merged to become "A.C.E" The main issues under disputation were, sola Scriptura and Justification.

· On Sola Scriptura: Nothing ground breaking or new was added to the old debate in my opinion. But it was a good introductory presentation for the crowds at attendance. The Protestants argued under various points to show how Scripture should be held as the only rule of faith and doctrine. In response the Catholic team urged that to divorce Scripture from its historic context leads to hermeneutical anarchy(2) and modern day Protestantism is proof. Instead of the novelty of "sola Scriptura" it is argued that the historic hermeneutical pattern should be followed, namely Scriptura read by the Regula Fidei, or the patristic interpretation (rule of faith).

· On Justification: The Protestants argued that Rome's soteriology is warped at best and semi-Pelagian at worse (proof citing their arguments with canon's of Vatican II). In Response Dr. Marshner shows that Roman Catholic formulation of justification "never was and with God's grace never will be" Pelagian, semi-Pelagian, a "works-righteous" system or any of the other straw man labels given by the misinformed. It is rather Augustinian and thus sola gratia and further, Vatican II if properly read in context bears witness to this fact.

All in all this debate is a fascinating hear and most impressive of all was the intellectual dominance of Bill Marshner. He stood head and shoulders over all of the commentators, wielding a command of the issues(3) that is incredible in breadth. The thoughts of Marshner(4) on these issues alone are worth the price of the debate. A major dissapointment in this debate was the lack of representation for the Anglican position, the Via Media. Instead of a serious contributor of this tradition, the moderator of the debate (the Anglican ) played the proverbial act of the neutral observer(5).


(1). Bill Marshner is a convert from Lutheranism.
(2). A point that is brought out often sometimes in comedic fashion by the Catholics to exhibit the intellectual frailty of the Protestant hermeneutical position. Often time's it is signaled out that the Protestant claims of exclusive truthfulness cannot be supported since the Protestant panel differ's among themselves as to the "true" position on a given doctrine.
(3). Such as church history and the various intricate nuances among the theological traditions.
(4). Such as the poignant perceptions that Calvinism is a minority report among even the Protestant traditions, or that the Gallic priest Lucidius was "Calvin, a thousand years before" and how the extreme views of Lucidius (views which anticipate the French reformer) were soundly condemned at the council of Arles in 476 A.D.
(5). And what a poor choice for Anglican representation, a self-professed Arminian...

No comments: