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
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.