Archive for the ‘Pious Fabrications’ Category

Eastern Orthodox Confusing Augustine with Gnostics

January 3, 2010

I notice that David at Pious Fabrication is accusing Calvinism of being Gnostic because it is Augustinian (link). David answers the question, “Is Augustinian theology Gnostic, then?” with “an emphatic YES!” While it seems that Jnorm888 at Ancient Christian Defender is happy about this unjustified claim (link), I presume others (particular those of our Roman Catholic friends who think they are more Augustinian than the Calvinists) are less happy about this sort of claim.

Unsurprisingly, David’s argument contains shallow and frankly hollow criticisms of which the following is a typical example:

An example of such a flawed, Gnostic-tinged theology is Augustine’s idea of predestination, that God had elected from eternity to save some while condemning the rest to damnation. Anyone familiar with Gnostic theology can see the influence of the Gnostic belief in the saved pneumatikoi versus the damned somatikoi.

This and the other argument employ filtering (aka confirmation bias) and treat any similarity no matter how superficial as evidence of influence. It is the same fallacy employed by Dan Barker in his debate with Dr. White in suggesting that mythology had some influence on the gospel accounts (catch a portion of that debate here).

There may be some similarity between the pneumatikoi and the spiritual (πνεύματος – pneumatos in Romans 8:6) and the somatikoi and the carnal (σαρκὸς – sarkos in Romans 8:6) such that the body (σῶμα – soma in Romans 8:10) is dead because of sin but the Spirit (πνεῦμα – pneuma in Romans 8:10) is life because of Christ. There may be some similarities, and it may even be that one is derived from the other. But the bare fact of some similarities (particular superficial similarities like the similarity between the fatalistic aspects to certain forms of Gnosticism and the predestination of Scripture/Augustinianism/Calvinism does not prove that one was derived from other.


Only Infallible Authority We Have – Not Only Authority

December 8, 2009

David at Pious Fabrications, an Eastern Orthodox blog, has assigned himself an interesting project. He’s going to, well, in his words: “What I’m going to try to do here is to actually look at that individual [church father], their life and writings as a whole, and really, finally answer the question: did he believe in the authority of Scripture alone?” (link to source)

I think it’s important to clarify to David that the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura is not the view that the Scriptures are the only authority, but rather that they are the only infallible authority that we have. That’s an important distinction, because we assign real (albeit subordinate) authority to the elders in the church, as well as persuasive authority to the teachings and explanations of our fellow believers.

I realize that David may sincerely believe that “Protestants” simply “proof-text” from the fathers (he writes: “What I’m going to attempt not to do is just do the inverse of what Protestants do; I’m not going to simply proof-text and quote mine for sentences which support Tradition, although we will look at those in the process.”), but actually the folks he highlights (James White and William Webster) are quite willing to let the fathers be the fathers. If the fathers hold to sola scriptura, great! If not, that’s fine too. We believe that men are fallible, and we recognize that even godly men make mistakes. So we don’t feel compelled to find fathers who are copies of ourselves.

I look forward to David’s exploration of the fathers, but if David has read Holy Scripture: the Ground and Pillar of the Faith, by David King and William Webster, he knows he has a long row to hoe.


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