Proof texting and communion in one kind: the same kind of error

I just realised an interesting link between proof texting, the theology of which I blogged about yesterday, and the issue I raised in my series two weeks ago about the validity of communion in one kind.

I quoted the following from Frank Viola and George Barna’s chapter on proof texting:

The Protestant scholastics held that not only is the Scripture the Word of God, but every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself—irrespective of context. This set the stage for the idea that if we lift a verse out of the Bible, it is true in its own right and can be used to prove a doctrine or a practice.

That clause “every part of it is the Word of God in and of itself” sounds remarkably like the Roman Catholic doctrine of concomitance, as defined by Fr. John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary:

The doctrine that explains why the whole Christ is present under each Eucharistic species. Christ is indivisible, so that his body cannot be separated from his blood, his human soul, his divine nature, and his divine personality. Consequently he is wholly present in the Eucharist.

I discussed this doctrine in a previous post. My point there was that this doctrine is specifically Roman Catholic and so should not be appealed to by Anglicans – although it probably lies behind the Archbishops’ advice of which I was so critical.

My point now is a different one. This Roman Catholic doctrine of concomitance, that the whole of Jesus, the Word of God, is present in each of the communion elements, was apparently developed by the original mediaeval scholastic theologians or “Schoolmen”, of whom the best known is Thomas Aquinas. Their scholastic method and use of Aristotelian logic was taken up by the Protestant scholastics that Viola and Barna refer to – in a footnote they name Francis Turretin and Martin Chemnitz. And these scholastics came to the analogous conclusion that every part of Scripture, even a verse lifted out of context, “is the Word of God in and of itself”.

Where do they find that supported in Scripture? I don’t think they can even find a verse lifted out of context to support it. Rather, it is a result of Aristotelian logic as developed by the various scholastics, going far beyond what God has chosen to reveal in his Word.

God doesn’t want us to find him in and through just a part of Scripture or one half of communion, and to rationalise away our rejection of the other element or of the parts of his Word that we find less palatable. He has provided the whole Bible and ordained both communion elements. We should make proper use of all the gifts that he has given.

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