A new book has dropped by a convert to Roman Catholicism, R.R. Reno, The End of Interpretation: Reclaiming the Priority of Ecclesial Exegesis. Anyone can immediately see the relevance to the current downgrade amongst Reformed Baptists and the Reformed community more broadly with reference to sola scriptura and scriptural sufficiency.
I posted a picture of the cover, front and back, which included endorsements. I indicated that while often endorsements have little tangible meaning, in this case, the endorsements were important. I did not expand upon it as I intend to comment more fully on the Dividing Line, hopefully early next week.
Why were the endorsements relevant? First, topic: convert to Roman Catholicism who likens entering the Roman Church like “entering into the ocean.” He says Rome defines the church, sets the parameters, is the default position (a phrase I have heard from one of the endorsers, actually). So, a convert saying the church (ecclesia) is the matrix for exegesis, and, of course, meaning by “church” Rome, and nothing else.
Roman Catholic endorsements would be expected, of course, and they are there. Robert Barron, bishop of Winona-Rochester in Minnesota, says that Reno shows us what “a truly ecclesial interpretation of the Bible looks like.” Again, for those who are not well read in Roman Catholic theology, words have meaning, and the Roman view of the ecclesia is very specific, very clear.
But likewise we have one of the most celebrated of converts to Rome over the past thirty plus years, Scott Hahn of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. I could say a great deal about Hahn, with whom I have been interacting since before a number of my critics were born. But suffice it to say that he entered the Roman communion along with Gerry Matatics, John Gerstner’s favorite pupil and the first ordained PCA minister to swim the Tiber. His words are clear: “reading Scripture from the heart of the church—in the great tradition—and not surrendering it to the canons of the secular academy.”
Then we have Carl Trueman who has openly discussed the shift in his own views since 2016. He writes, “This book will be on the reading lists of my theology classes from now on.” We are sure of that!
Finally, Craig Carter, Dr. “Great Tradition” himself, Ph.D. from a believing Roman Catholic institution, whose definition of “great tradition exegesis” I have cited repeatedly.
The relevance should be obvious in light of the topic and the trajectory of the movement we have been interacting with, but evidently it is not, for some. For a few thought there was some relevance to pointing out that Mitch Pacwa, a man with whom I have had, as I recall, five very pleasant yet pointed public debates, endorsed my book on the Trinity almost twenty five years ago. To think this relevant means that one is considering this topic on a very, very shallow level. I looked at the endorsements because of the inroads they represent into the “Reformed” by Roman Catholic concepts, and in particular, concepts relating to authority and Scripture. There is, of course, no logical or rational connection to Pacwa’s endorsement of a book on the Trinity. Given the biblicist approach I took in that book, one could argue the endorsement was inconsistent for Pacwa, but that is hardly relevant today. The point is the conjunction of different “streams” represented by the endorsements, the author, and the topic of the newly published book.
My hope is to expand upon this next week on the Dividing Line, as it is vital and central, but for today, let this serve as yet another obvious reminder that for many, this controversy is horribly misunderstood. Possibly due to bias, prejudice, animus, etc., but also due to ignorance of Rome’s writings on this topic. My critics show a terrible naïveté when it comes to the best Rome has to offer. I should likewise say that a number of my supporters are likewise missing the point, and need to recognize that Rome’s arguments are significantly more nuanced than many today understand. We must respond to the best, not the worst, in this particular situation. And thus we will seek to do in the coming week as the Lord gives strength and grace.