I’ve seen my twitter infoscope lighting up recently with comments on Craig Carter’s hot-off-the-press book on the interpretation of Scripture. I don’t actually often buy books, I hate to order from Amazon for several excellent reasons I shall not here go into, and I prefer to make sure of what I’m getting by looking at it in a library first. But I ordered Craig Carter’s Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition in violation of all the above strictures.
Then I saw the blurbs, three of which mention Christian Platonism. Then I started reading, and there is a whole chapter, apparently, making the case that the Great Tradition is Christian Platonism!
I am a little bit enthusiastic about that!
I should forebear till I see what he says. I should wait till this evening when I’ve actually got the argument of the book in hand, but who can do so?
The debate which simmered into a full boil in the summer of 2016, the Trinity debate, which James Dolezal then drove further in and further up with his challenge to Calvinist Theistic Mutualism, and the resulting confrontation over Classic Theism that is lighting up the radars everywhere has perhaps glimpsed a logical conclusion. It is, as was pointed out back in 2016, a problem of theological method, and that is a problem of hermeneutics, and Craig Carter, it seems to me, has put his finger on what needs to be addressed for everything else to be resolved. This is the heart of the issue, I think.
In the first five centuries of the church creeds were elaborated. Today, you cannot retain a healthy Christianity without acknowledging the authority of those creeds. They interpret Scripture accurately, and because of that have a very high authority derived from the absolute authority of Scripture. In the Reformation confessions were elaborated. To fail to acknowledge the authority of those confessions—within the ecclesial structures of Protestant Christianity—is to expose yourself to a diminished Christianity. So you need the creeds and you need a confession. But four hundred years on, we find that the confessions are being handled in the context of an alien theological and metaphysical culture, one that degrades and reinterprets them. So what is the next step?
That’s why I plan to devour Carter’s book. The Great Tradition may just be the thing. We need a premodern, hermeneutically continuous tradition. We need to be connected back to Origen folks! We need to examine the what and also the why of the philosophical assumptions of the church in its first 1500 years in order to make sure we are handing on what has been handed on to us.
Can you believe it? Hard for me to, but hence the enthusiasm. Creedal, confessional, and now Christian Platonical churches.