Do Scott Hahn’s Book Endorsements Offer Protestants Validity?

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Covenant and Communion: The Biblical Theology of Pope Benedict XVI by Scott Hahn has a few Protestant endorsements. The biggest stir was caused by Michael Horton’s endorsement. People are asking – Why endorse such a book? Would the Apostle Paul have endorsed a book on metaphysics by Aristotle?

Dr. Horton has responded in his post Horton on Hahn. He explained that he is still committed to his Reformed convictions. Horton is not endorsing Hahn’s nor the Pope’s theology, but endorsing Hahn’s understanding of the Pope’s theology.

The question really boils down to what the advantage is for a popular, public Protestant like Horton to endorse a book by the well known “former Protestant,” evangelist and apologist for Rome. There just might be an advantage no one is talking about yet. First, a few quotes from the Protestant endorsements of Hahn’s book.

“Scott Hahn here renders an important service in so clearly setting forth the hermeneutical principles, biblical framework, and doctrinal positions of Pope Benedict XVI, arguably the world’s most important contemporary theologian. The parallels between the biblical theology of the pope and of evangelicals, together with their respective attempts to interpret Scripture theologically in an age marked by modern biblical criticism, are particularly fascinating.”–Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Blanchard Professor of Theology, Wheaton College and Graduate School

“As a Protestant biblical scholar, I found Scott Hahn’s exposition of Pope Benedict’s biblical theology both informative and inspiring. In spite of differences, Protestants need to read this book to understand how deeply we can agree on the primacy of Christ and the Word. Through Hahn, I have a new appreciation for the mind and heart of Pope Benedict.”–Tremper Longman III, Robert H. Gundry Professor of Biblical Studies, Westmont College

“Even when one disagrees with some of his conclusions, Benedict’s insights, as well as his engagement with critical scholarship, offer a wealth of reflection. In this remarkable book, Scott Hahn has drawn out the central themes of Benedict’s teaching in a highly readable summary that includes not only the pope’s published works but also his less-accessible homilies and addresses. This is an eminently useful guide for introducing the thought of an important theologian of our time.”–Michael S. Horton, J. G. Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

Advantage Validity?

When critiquing Roman Catholic theology Protestants are given a number of reason why they have no right to interpret said theology. The reasons may be given from different angles, but usually point to the authority of the Catholic church. The Magisterium of the Catholic church is the only legitimate authority appointed by God to interpret the Bible and give official teaching on faith.

As I understand it, Scott Hahn has not been vested with the official authority to speak for the Roman Catholic church. Though he is promoted by many to speak in such a capacity on a practical level. Hahn’s interpretation and promotion of the current pope’s teaching will be used to defend and proclaim Rome. Shouldn’t the above Protestant book endorsers have the same position from which to speak when they need to biblically correct the current pope’s teaching?

If the above Protestants understand the pope’s theology so well that they can endorse a book interpreting said theology, they seem to have been given a level of practical authority. These endorsements should allow Protestants to say something along the lines of:

Since our own Protestant scholars understand the pope’s theology well enough to endorse a book explaining it we can know offer biblical correction to Rome from these scholars. The critiques offered by Protestant scholars to the pope’s theology are no less explanatory than Catholic apologist Scott Hahn.

Lead balloons. Hear them now? Thud! Objections can already be heard. However, turning to Scott Hahn for help in his debate on authority against Robert Knudson we read from the transcript the following against using Sola Scriptura.

Respect for authority? Yes, but it’s a pick and choose kind of respect. “I will respect authority only when it agrees with my interpretation”.

Let’s see how it goes.

Tags: , , ; Categories: apologetics,books,Culture,Gospel,heresy,theology
The above article was posted on November 18, 2009 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jae December 19, 2009 at 3:58 am

Quoting you “Catholic church is the only legitimate authority appointed by God to interpret the Bible and give official teaching on faith.”

If she is not the appointed one with authority from God, then WHO? Good example today, who speaks for Christ today in issues like artificial contraception (which by the way prior to the 1930’s ALL christian churches agreed it is contrary to the Will of God), how about cloning? stem-cell? RU-486? gay-marriage? and so many more daunting issues not even mentioned in the Bible?

I really do think the claim that the Bible is the only authority is a GOOD excuse to hide responsibility and authority to oneself. Just by claiming which is “essential” or “not” in the bible is already an affirmation of authority which protestants hated the Catholic Church for.

It is just a matter of who is the authority which speaks for Jesus?

2 Mark Lamprecht December 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

Jae, so you just assume the Roman Catholic Church is the authority for Christ today?

Do Protestant churches not speak to the issues of “cloning? stem-cell? RU-486? gay-marriage?

Who says that the Bible is the only authority?

What to you mean by “GOOD excuse to hide responsibility and authority to oneself?” It seems there are cases where the Roman Catholic Church hides behind itself. For example, this post.

3 Jae December 29, 2009 at 2:31 am

A book simply does not have the capacity in and of itself to function in the way the Westminster Confession claims it must function. A book cannot resolve an interpretive dispute about itself, decide who is right in a doctrinal controversy, or address any areas that it does not address. If Scripture were intended to do this, as Protestants claim, we would not see the history of division and infighting that we see.

Indeed, the entirety of the Protestant experiment hinges on the truth of the idea that the Scriptures were intended to function as described by the Westminster Confession. The Scripture’s inability to perform the ecclesial function expected of it by the Confession is one of the more common factors provoking Protestants to consider the claims of the Catholic Church, and eventually leave their communities to seek full communion with the body that Christ founded to give us the true interpretation of Sacred Scripture.

4 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen December 29, 2009 at 1:56 pm

The usual Roman Catholic response to anyone who doesn’t trust “Mother Church”. The Bible is the book which creates the Church, not the other way round. The Catholic experiment, to use your language, says, “The Bible is not clear enough as the Word of God, so we must tell you what it means, going so far as to tell you what makes up the Book.”

5 Jae December 29, 2009 at 3:45 pm

Brother Douglas, if you belong to an Evangelical Lutheran Church or a member of Unitarian Church or Episcopal Church or Presbyterian Church or Anglican Church or a lot of many independent Evangelical Churches today and they all officially teach by using the same Bible as you have and claimed guided by the same Holy Spirit declare that gay-marriage is Biblically tolerated and right with God, what would you do?

Not to mention some issues not even found in the Bible like embryonic stem-cell, genetic design, cloning, in-vitro fertilization etc. WHO do you think has the authority to speak for Christ that is binding to all christians? Jehovah Witness? Mormons? Seventh day or your church or just YOU?

Do you think Jesus overlooked these LIFE issues when He left us 2,000 years ago? besides He is the Author of Life, don’t you think?

Do you know that ALL Christian Churches before 1930 agreed that artificial contraception was contrary to the Will of God? because of secular pressures christian churches caved-in and crumbled to the ground one by one that opened the gates of pornography, free sex movement, abortions, gay-marriage etc.

If you trust and believe the promise of God to Peter and His Church, that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it” until the end of ages because just by teaching what is Biblically and morally wrong is already a forfeiture of that GREAT PROMISE of Jesus.

The promise was not based on a person (pope) which we are all sinners but by God Himself working through His appointed one to lead His Church (like Moses did).

Peace in Christ.

6 Jae December 29, 2009 at 4:10 pm

If my understanding of the Bible is “clear” to me but doesn’t tally with your “clear” version of interpretation and with hundreds more “clear” interpretations, then who do we go to settle the dispute? don’t tell me that God didn’t see this kind of scenario.

Jesus left us with an answer, “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the CHURCH; and if he refuses to listen even to the Church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” (Matt 18:17)

Notice Jesus didn’t say go to the Bible but go to My CHURCH.

Is the “church” Jesus refering to was a local church, a whole body of believers as protestants believed regardless of affilliations? like people aligning themselves who have the same believe?

Could my church pass a decision and judgment to declare the guy who didn’t listen as ANATHEMA?

7 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen December 29, 2009 at 9:46 pm

Matthew 18 is not about doctrinal disputes – it is regarding church discipline. A simple reading of the context will bear that out. Further, how would you even know to implement Matthew 18 as pereven your understanding, if you’ve never read Matthew 18. Like I said before, the Bible creates the Church – not the other way around.

8 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen December 29, 2009 at 9:52 pm

I trust the promise of God to preserve His Church. Rome persecuted that church.

9 Jae December 29, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’m sorry but all men are sinners including the pope as well as Peter was a sinner, Paul is genocidal maniac who murdered people with christian logo on their foreheads…..but I believed and shown in the Bible that God works through sinners, fallen men and physical matters to lead and save His people. Come to think He doesn’t need anybody (He’s all powerful) but He chooses otherwise, WHY?

10 Jae December 29, 2009 at 11:51 pm

Matthew 18:17 and the way you “see” the “church” it is a typical protestant answer. I guessed when Jesus said His “Church” in that verse it doesn’t apply to us, modern day christian people.

“The Bible creates the Church – not the other way around.” Im sorry but I don’t agree with what you have said and together with historical records have shown otherwise in the Catholic Church’s Councils of Hippo and Carthage (300-400 A.D.) that had finalized which set of books belong from thousands of books in that era.

You could deny but written historical records don’t lie.

Jesus didn’t leave us copies of the Bible when He ascended to Heaven but rather He gave the authority and His commission to 12 sinful men who were “leaders and bishops” of their time.

11 Douglas K. Adu-Boahen December 30, 2009 at 9:46 am

Classic Roman Catholic bait-and-switch with the facts. There is a difference between creating the Bible…and affirming what was already public knowledge. If I come out with every edition of the Superman comic ever printed and affirm what millions of comic book owners already know to be fact, can I be said to have created the Superman comic corpus? Course not – but Rome wants to claim to have created the canon…even which history suggests that people KNEW what the Canon was long before – and no Romish church required.

Finally, your snide comment that Jesus didn’t leave us copies of the Bible is rather inane – considering that inscripturation was still taking place at that point. I am not denying that there is such a thing as the Church – I simply believe that Jesus’ intention was never a hierarchal system of works-salvation and endless traditions explaining away what the clear surface understanding of Scripture yields, particularly in the context of the Gospel – which Rome does not have. I could believe in a Pope, cardinals, bishops, etc. – if they believed the Biblical Gospel, but Rome doesn’t, and because it doesn’t understand the Gospel, everything ELSE is off-center.

12 Jae December 30, 2009 at 9:16 pm

I’m not trying to make a snide when I said that Jesus didn’t leave us with a Bible, I’m just stating a fact.

However, when you said, ” I simply believe that Jesus’ intention was never a hierarchal system of works-salvation and endless traditions “…Well brother Douglas I guessed Apostle Paul would also disagree with you because he told us that the church of God is hierachical in nature, actually Paul described it as with deacons, priests and their Bishops.

I’m not surprised God set-up it like that because in His Kingdom (Heaven) it is like that, HIERACHICAL…where He is the Head, and the Archangels and angels follow their own rank, position and dominions.

Peace of Christ be with you.

13 Jae December 30, 2009 at 9:29 pm

You said, “that people KNEW what the Canon was long before ”

Well brother, who are the “people” you are talking about? is it the body of believers (christians) who grouped together (councils of Hippo and Carthage)and decided to declare such books were divinely inspired?

If you were refering to the above then I agree with you but if you are insinuating that somehow people with the same beliefs started to group and align themselves together and within by themselves somehow already “KNEW” which books were INSPIRED, so sorry I don’t buy that…I go with written historical records.

14 Bruce May 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

Theology! The study of God! Who here is not serious on knowing God? Why not talk about who God is and the problem of man so to understand the message of the word of God! I was raised catholic and have never seen any catholic read or discuss the knowledge of God or even why Jesus had to die! St. Anthony’s home for boys – N.M., St Vincent De Paul – Pampa Tx. St Andrews – Dallas metro. Two others. Not a single person in any of these ever answered or even showed me the word of God or even why Jesus had to die! In fact, I was told that if i being raised catholic did not know, that i have no chance of ever knowing and so will be damned forever in hell. I than looked to the Jehovah Witnesses because they used the bible. Than I learned how they twisted Gods word and fell off all religious affiliations. Than I was brought to my knees in desperation and with sin knowing God is holy. How? Don’t know except by sin. Than I prayed having read a man in prison who only heard Jesus would not like your cell as it is”, and wham, he was anew man the very next day as he went to death role for a few murders. I asked God if he could do that to thsi criminal, than he can do it for me as well being guilty! And he did that very hour! And than I read the bible and understood the enormous love and holiness of God and the reason for the cross and jesus death. Clear as a bell. Now tell me Catholics, who is your pope? Mine is God himself! Jesus came into my life and opened my eyes.
Now talk all you want as to theology and you will never know how to study the word of God and so learn God and his work in your life. By the way, your writings on genetic engineering are greatly in error as to the word of God. Your ethics person says that man desired more knowledge and so now mens intelligence is being idolized. No, and in many other areas of this same article, your are dead wrong as to what Gods word says. In this case it says, “having the knowledge of good and evil became like us”! Not more knowledge who are now gods as your theology says. Became as us – the triune God. And Evil included not more knowledge we idolize. Though that is true for many catholics as well. And that is the popes job – his own understanding having the knowledge of good and evil so to be the moral judge of this world.

Sorry for my rant. But I love the study of God by his very word and not the popes non-verbal and even taught understanding of him! What kind of understanding is that? God rules all man, not the pope who desires his rule here on earth!

15 Bruce May 22, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Satan came as a very cunning serpent. He was very alluring and offered much good to Eve. She got too close to this serpent and many still exist and operate much like the old serpent. Cunning! Trickery! Deception! Hidden motive and agenda! They always try to lead you over to their side with compromise and goodness so to eat of the fruit of the tree of good and evil with them.
Now, I am very cautious for Satna can transform hinself into an Angle of light to all fallen man. He seeks most those he can offer much to. Maybe a reformation which is but a compromise in the making so to destroy the gospel. After all, it takes the power of God to save anyone – man cannot save anyone by his own knowledge. No matter how good that knowledge is. For mans name means so much to us since the garden fall. It is our greatest weakness.

16 Martin December 22, 2010 at 10:16 pm

To the author of this article:

Whether out of honest or accidental omission, I do not know, but you did not relay the last quote in your article in its entire context. It is quite misleading to make it seem that Mr. Hahn meant that quote for himself. The full context of the quote reads:

“I’d like to also point out that when we are speaking about being centered on the Word, I say ‘yeah’ and ‘amen’. You’ve got to remain centered in on the Word of God, but I don’t see anywhere in Scripture proof that we should reduce the Word of God to the printed page. And I sense that that’s what sola scriptura does. Respect for authority? Yes, but it’s a pick and choose kind of respect. “I will respect authority only when it agrees with my interpretation.’ Well, most parents would not tolerate that kind of respect within their household.”

17 Mark December 23, 2010 at 11:07 am

Martin,

I don’t understand your objection. I gave a link to the full debate which, of course, includes the quote in context. Am I to understand you to say that the above quote is not what Hahn believes about Sola Scriptura? Please feel free to explain.

18 Bruce December 23, 2010 at 12:03 pm

I have learned since my last comment, much more of grace and of the immense value of Christ for such a great sinner as I. I now look only to Him and his grace to lead me and not side to side anymore! Others can do that but it is not given me to!
So I am have decided to leave blog land commenting, though I yet still read some!

In Christ, by Christ, of Christ, through Christ, all things are! Thank God for Christ crucified for the sin of all who love God! Mine was of a very much of the worse of sinners. How than can I not continue as his grace leads me an look to Him alone for all I need?

Thank you for your blog to help me come to see Him more and more. I trust you will accept my apology here for my previous comment. Centered on the word by faith – Amen and Amen! I see you too are and am so glad for you. Do as he calls u to do.

In Christ with an ever so grateful heart and His rest and love, Bruce

19 Martin December 23, 2010 at 1:15 pm

Mark,

My objection is not whether the full link of the transcript is included or not. Yes, it is included.

My objection is to using an isolated quote in the article itself that makes it seem as if Hahn endorses “‘I will respect authority only when it agrees with my interpretation.'” Hahn is merely demonstrating the mindset of certain Protestant denominations, some of which he was involved with, that when they listen to authority, it is a ‘pick and choose’ respect for authority: ‘I will respect authority only when it agrees with my interpretation.’

Again, my objection is to using an isolated quote that can easily mislead a sincere reader of your article to believe that Hahn meant that quote for himself.

20 TurretinFan December 23, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Martin:

You seem to have misunderstood the article. The quotation is an argument against Sola Scriptura, not the speaker’s own position. As such, it accurately stated the argument. The context you provided (and thank you for providing it) confirms that the quotation was used as the article says it was used.

Perhaps you have simply misunderstood – the point was not that Dr. Hahn himself does not respect authority, but that he claims Sola Scriptura-ians don’t respect authority unless it agrees with them (a bogus argument that we hear all the time from Rome’s apologists these days).

-TurretinFan

21 Martin December 23, 2010 at 2:32 pm

TurretinFan,

What you have stated in your reply is very exactly my point. That “The quotation is an argument against Sola Scriptura, not the speaker’s own position.”

Again, my original objection was that the quote presented in this article was taken out of its entire context to make it seem as if Mr. Hahn was using that quote to describe himself. We are in agreement here that Mr. Hahn did not mean that at all.

And yes, I very much did misunderstand. I think any other reader of this article, without reading the last quote in its entire context, would also misunderstand. Because the way the quote is presented in this article, it could easily mislead a reader to conclude that Mr. Hahn was using that quote to describe himself.

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