We continue reviewing Dave Armstrong’s comments on Matthew 23. He continues with a citation from my book, The Roman Catholic Controversy, p. 101, on p. 47 of The Catholic Verses. However, he does not provide some key elements of the material he is citing, so I will provide the paragraph, but will bold what was skipped, or not included, in the citation:

Indeed, the Lord’s unwillingness to become an “ecclesiastical rebel” is in perfect harmony with the Scriptural teaching on the subject of authority in the church. There was nothing in the tradition of having someone read from the Scriptures while sitting on Moses’ seat that was in conflict with the Scriptures, and hence, unlike the corban rule which we saw earlier in Matthew 15, Jesus does not reject this traditional aspect of Jewish synagogue worship. He does not insist upon anarchy in worship in the synagogue anymore than His apostle Paul would allow for it in the worship of the church at Corinth. It is quite proper to listen to and obey the words of the one who reads from the Law or the Prophets, for one is not hearing a man speaking in such a situation, but is listening to the very words of God.


Now, it is a measure of Armstrong’s understanding of the issues involved in exegesis that he responds in these words:

This is true as far as it goes, but it is essentially a non sequitur and amounts to a “reading into,” or eisegesis of the passage (which is ironic, because now White plays the role of “a man speaking” and distorting “the very words of God”).

He then repeats the text, as if this somehow proves his point.

Now I am going to try to read Armstrong’s work in the most positive light and assume that the next few pages, as they have paragraphs starting with “first” and “second” and so on, are his attempt to substantiate the assertion that my words are reading into the text something that is not there. Of course, to do this, he will have to do something more than just assume his own reading is exegetically sound. He will have to provide solid, positive argumentation. Let’s see how well he fares. His first paragraph reads:

First, it should be noted that nowhere in the actual text is the notion that the Pharisees are only reading the Old Testament Scripture when sitting on Moses’ seat. It is an assumption gratuitously smuggled in from a presupposed position of sola Scriptura.

Quite true, but does it not likewise follow that it is a gratuitous assumption that Jesus is actually telling His disciples to embrace extra-biblical traditions that parallel Rome’s—an assumption smuggled in from a presupposed position of sola ecclesia? Remember, the Corban rule of Matthew 15, which Jesus specifically rejected on the basis of Scripture, was one of the Pharisees’ favorite “Mosaic traditions,” claiming divine authority. Was Jesus contradicting Himself? Surely not. And so the point clearly is, what understanding of the text is consistent with Jesus’ own practices when faced with such things as the Corban rule elsewhere? Is it Armstrong’s, or that which sees this as the beginning of the condemnation of the Pharisees that takes up the rest of Matthew 23, and hence is actually restricting the authority of the Pharisees? The answer is clear. If Armstrong is going to claim an exegetical basis for Rome’s position, he cannot simply assume it. So far, that is all he is doing. [continued]

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