From a combox discussion…
You're not making an argument, Nick.
What he was responding to was no argument either. He was responding to this, from the post:
1. The only way Stapleton's argument can be truly successful is if he proves that "God and the church are the same thing." (It seems this can't be done without some kind of serious doctrinal error, so Stapleton's argument is rendered fallacious.)
That's not an argument. It's an assertion. Nick is not obliged to counter an assertion with an argument.
As for Whitaker's reply itself, he is noting that, by the rules of logic, in order for Stapleton's argument to succeed, Stapleton needs to somehow prove that God and the Church are the same thing.
No, he doesn't. All that needs to be established is whether the Church teaches with the authority of Christ. One analogy might be power of attorney: the one who possesses this is able to act with the authority of the one who has given him power of attorney, and yet the two people are certainly not the same.
That's certainly possible. But you need to prove that from Whitaker or Stapleton.
No he doesn't. All he has to do is show that the original premises had to do with the authority of the teaching of the Church, not the authority of the Church generally compared to God's authority generally. And that is beyond dispute from the post itself. But in the post, Whitaker begins with a discussion of the general authority of God in comparison to the general authority of the Church - about which no one argues that God's authority is greater - and moves from there to a conclusion about a specific that is unwarranted. It is certainly a distortion as Nick claimed. If God teaches only through the Church (P<sub>2</sub>), then it is impossible for God to be more authoritative than Himself, and Whitaker's refutation fails.
Lastly, even if Whitaker succeeds against Stapleton's first argument, it does nothing whatsoever to establish that the Church is unnecessary for knowing the canon of Scripture: the notion that Scripture (as an undefined collection of books) might have more authority than the Church in no way implies that the Scripture can (or does) define its own canon, or that the canon may be known in any objective sense apart from the Church.
Well done, Nick.