It appears that Prejean is going to resume his “retirement”—for now, at least.
The discussion that I've been having with Steve Hays and Jason Engwer highlights the relatively huge difficulty in having any kind of meaningful discussion between Catholics and Protestants. Both sides have views of revealed meaning that are completely alien to one another, which means its impossible to debate on any of those premises meaningfully.
Wrong again. The problem isn’t the absence of common ground between Catholics and Protestants, but common ground between Prejean and Protestants. As I’ve documented from Catholic sources, the GHM is common ground between the two groups. Prejean is the holdout.
Astute readers will notice exactly what it is that I've been trying to do, which is appeal to areas in which there are shared premises to reason into areas where there aren't.
He has done nothing of the kind. To the contrary, he has appealed to allegorical exegesis, apostolic succession, and sacramental realism.
The problem is that we are looking at exactly the same point, and Hays is seeing the GHM as binding and limiting (which is exactly how a Protestant sees the GHM), while a Catholic sees the GHM as a starting point for further analysis, which is exactly the point of the PBC document. The point isn't that we have to accept the GHM uncritically, but that we need to take it into account as a factor, which is all that any Catholic ever said. The GHM isn't exclusive of other forms of interpretation, except in Hays's mind. Catholics see it as an empirical method, to be judged like other empirical methods based on reliability, and Hays sees it as a "hermenutic" for finding "truth." Those two views simply are not compatible for one another.
No, what’s incommensurable isn’t a case of Catholic and Protestant hermeneutics, but Catholic and Prejeanian hermeneutics.
All the Prejean has done here is to substitute his tendentious summary of the PBC document for the actual wording of the document--as well as my own argumentation.
i) The PBC document does not say that we merely need to take the GHM into account as a factor. To the contrary, it treats GHM as the primary factor and the benchmark for further analysis.
ii) In addition, as I also documented by quoting directly from the PBC guidelines, allegorical exegesis is consigned to obsolescence.
iii) The PBC says nothing about “empiricism,” either expressly or implicitly. That’s Prejean’s contraband.
iv) As I explicitly said, the argument is not predicated on the “binding” force of the PBC guidelines. Rather, it goes to the burden of proof.
Prejean has repeatedly faulted Engwer and me for begging the question by failing to make a case for GHM. Now, aside from the fact that both of us have, indeed, make a case for the GHM, the further point is that, for purposes of interfaith dialogue, we don’t need to mount a separate argument for GHM inasmuch as that is already accorded a necessary and principial status in Catholic hermeneutics by the PBC guidelines, with the blessing of the Pope and the Prefect.
As far as the burden of proof is concerned, it needn’t be binding to be justified. The mere fact that it is acceptable—indeed, is sanction by his ecclesiastical superiors—is warrant enough. The onus is on Prejean to exempt himself from duty.
As a ressourcement theologian, Pope Benedict is hardly incompatible with my own view of the relative compatibility of Catholicism and Orthodoxy; indeed, he's come out on record in agreement with my explanation on several communion-separating matters (notably original sin and the filioque) based on patristic exegesis.
A complete non-sequitur. And I pointed out before, and Prejean agreed, a Catholic commentator is even free to deny that Scripture teaches a given dogma as long as he doesn’t deny the dogma itself. He refers that development to the progress of dogma.
Hence, agreement on such matters as original sin and the filioque-clause does not entail agreement on the school of exegesis since it does not depend on fine-points of exegesis at all.
Indeed, Prejean himself has said:
But agreement on a conclusion doesn't amount to agreement on a method. We can both think that a conclusion is "probable" for entirely different reasons, which is what you seem to be impervious to understanding.
At the same time, it’s quite possible for Benedict to be inconsistent. He was not speaking ex cathedra, was he? Indeed, he’s only been Pope for a few months.
the misreading is yours, not mine.
No. The difference is not between Prejean’s reading and mine. Rather, the difference is between reading and non-reading. I stick to the actual wording of the PBC guidelines, whereas Prejean indulges in weightless summaries with no textual warrant to undergird his conclusions.
Notice that your Protestant cohorts all think that you are exactly right, and your Catholic opponents are repeatedly saying you are completely wrong; that's a powerful sign of worldview incompatibility.
When my Catholic opponents run away from the actual wording of their own Catholic source materials, that’s a powerful sign of incompatibility with their chosen communion.
Genre is a question of method.
Now he’s equivocating. I guess the suppressed premise is that our hermeneutical method is used to identify the literary genre of a document. But that’s a turnaround that circles back to my own position.
To begin with, there is no basic difference in genre analysis between the way in which Catholic scholars classify the books of the Bible or this or that pericope, and their Protestant counterparts.
In addition, the church fathers certainly classify Scripture as a theological document.
Likewise, we all agree on the theological genre of creeds and councils.
There’s nothing method-dependent, in a specialized, competitive sense, about the classification of Scripture as a theological document.
In addition, it’s simple-minded to say that genre is question of method, for one could just as well say that method is a question of genre. When we interpret a parable or poem or poem of epistle or historical narrative, we make methodological allowances for the conventions proper to each. Method is adaptive to form and content.
And once again, I understand that you believe this and that it is an assumption of your worldview, but I don't agree with this distinction as being a meaningful one. I'm a metaphysical realist; I believe in a fundamental correspondence between rational concepts and the way things are in reality. My entire theory of interpretation is based on that notion, so it wouldn't make sense to separate "truth" from "meaning" in this way. That's why I consider all interpretive methods fundamentally empirical method; it's an artifact of German phenomenology (specifically, Heidegger's rejection of ontotheology) that they are separable in this way. I'm not Heideggerian; I don't share the premise.
He’s raised this objection before, and I answered him at the time. The problem is that he has failed to interact with my arguments.
I used the example of fiction. One doesn’t have to be a German phenomenologist to affirm that Alice in Wonderland is meaningful, but deny that Alice in Wonderland is descriptive of the way things are in the real world.
If Prejean’s grasp of reality is so tenuous that he can’t tell the difference, then I’m grateful that he chose the legal profession over engineering or neuroscience since I’d cringe at the thought of neurosurgeon or electrical engineer with a such a blurry-eyed vision of thoughts in relation to things.
On second thought, a Supreme Court justice who regarded the Cheshire Cat as an empirical object might be even more dangerous than a neurosurgeon or electrical engineer with the same philosophical leanings.
We don't agree on how to draw theological conclusions from a historical record.
And one reason for this is your false antithesis. A document can be both a theological document and a historical record. More precisely, it can be the interpretive account of redemptive events. That’s known as narrative theology. A great deal of Scripture consists in narrative theology. The record isn’t one thing, and the conclusion another.
you are not operating based on the most recent historical research of what Chalcedon said.
And a century from now, your more recent historical research will be out of date. That’s one of the hazards when men like your navigate your boat by the comet of historical relativity.
Indeed, the role of faith for most theists is to establish certainty despite epistemic uncertainty, not to argue that God would cure epistemic uncertainty if you trust Him to do so.
That’s not the role of faith for a theist, but for a fideist. It treats faith as a makeweight.
That’s a popular, but irrational concept of faith. In Scripture, the distinction is not between faith and knowledge, but faith and sight. Put another way, between direct and indirect knowledge, partial and complete knowledge.
We know certain things on the basis of revelation rather than observation or reason. Revelation is, itself, a form of reason—a disclosure of divine reason to the mind of man.
We don’t have all the answer, but we have some of the answers, and we know who has the rest of the answers.
Distinctions are also to be drawn between evidence and argument, tacit knowledge and formal proof. Christian faith is founded on evidence, and Christian faith is never underdetermined by the evidence. If anything, it’s overdetermined by the evidence due to the sheer variety of the evidence.