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Author Topic: Sola Scriptura - A Diversion From the True Word of God  (Read 23801 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 27, 2007, 09:32:24 AM »

I have been reading a few of these disscussions regarding Protestants and their view of the Scriptures,and something came to me,Jesus Christ is the Word of God,The Second Person in the Trinune God,and the Church is the Body of Christ,then to Me the Church speaks "The Word of God",authority then resides in this "word of God",under Sola Scriptura the individual speaks the "word of God",or at least they think they do.  To me this is wrong,I alone can't speak the "word of God" because I am only part of the Body of Christ,I'm out of my "jurisdiction" so to speak.  So to me Sola Scriptura attemps to take authority away from Christ,and place in the hands of the individual in determining truth,regardless of ones sincerity.

The Enemy is very cunning,I must say out of all His divises,this one has done the most damage.


{Minor edit for formatting only- Aristokles}
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2007, 09:44:47 AM »

From our own Portal page and our own member:

http://www.orthodox.ws/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=43&Itemid=1
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« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2007, 09:51:51 AM »


I had read this previously,a very informative reading thanks!!
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« Reply #3 on: November 29, 2007, 08:09:44 PM »

I have been reading a few of these discussions regarding Protestants and their view of the Scriptures,and something came to me,Jesus Christ is the Word of God,The Second Person in the Trinune God,and the Church is the Body of Christ,then to Me the Church speaks "The Word of God",authority then resides in this "word of God",under Sola Scriptura the individual speaks the "word of God",or at least they think they do.  To me this is wrong,I alone can't speak the "word of God" because I am only part of the Body of Christ,I'm out of my "jurisdiction" so to speak.  So to me Sola Scriptura attempts to take authority away from Christ,and place in the hands of the individual in determining truth,regardless of ones sincerity.

The Enemy is very cunning,I must say out of all His divises,this one has done the most damage.


{Minor edit for formatting only- Aristokles}


That is not the point behind a sincere belief in the authority and/or primacy of Scripture. It is not for the individual to revel in private interpretation. It is to point to the fact that the truth as revealed and contained in Scripture is settled and beyond alteration. Therefore any private interpretation, of an individual, group, or church, does not altar the faith once for all delivered to us. Can people use the concept as a cloak for permissiveness, heresy, schism, sedition, etc.? Yes. But they did that in the very time of Christ and His apostles as well. Nevertheless he has given us the truth once for all and it is contained within the revelation of Scripture. Can the church and it's structure edify us in the faith? Sure. But when an individual, or the church, strays from the right way, the rule of Scripture serves as the means whereby to judge or course and make amends.
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« Reply #4 on: November 29, 2007, 08:34:23 PM »


That is not the point behind a sincere belief in the authority and/or primacy of Scripture. It is not for the individual to revel in private interpretation. It is to point to the fact that the truth as revealed and contained in Scripture is settled and beyond alteration. Therefore any private interpretation, of an individual, group, or church, does not altar the faith once for all delivered to us. Can people use the concept as a cloak for permissiveness, heresy, schism, sedition, etc.? Yes. But they did that in the very time of Christ and His apostles as well. Nevertheless he has given us the truth once for all and it is contained within the revelation of Scripture. Can the church and it's structure edify us in the faith? Sure. But when an individual, or the church, strays from the right way, the rule of Scripture serves as the means whereby to judge or course and make amends.

If our Lord and Savior meant to write a book why didn't He say, "Write this down" instead He said "do this...". In fact, our Lord and Savior didn't write 'anything' that we know of...

I am often drawn to the passages concerning "on the road to Emmaus" where our Lord and Savior 'appeared' and 'taught' one of the disciples name Cleopas...  "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself".

Again, his teaching was verbal... As much as I can appreciate the sheer wealth of value found within the Sacred Scriptures without Sacred Tradition as our Exegesis "Par Excellence" we grasp in blindness just as the Jews did who lacked the insight taught to Cleopas and the others 'on the road to Emmaus'.

The Church 'never' lost this 'deposit of faith' and it is enshrined throughout Her ancient Liturgies and devotions.
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« Reply #5 on: November 29, 2007, 08:57:47 PM »

Dear Ignatius,

As, for example, our dear Brother Luke states -- the written record of the life and ministry of Christ, His apostles, and the church (essentially the NT) was (among other things) to confirm and establish what was most surely believed among us. With that done all else must align with it or be shown by it to be unnecessary, if not misleading.

Christ taught orally as did all Rabbi's. But His teaching centered around a proper exegesis and application of Scriptural truth. Christ, by His Spirit, and through His followers had his teaching committed to writing.

I differ with you conclusion concerning the Jews. I propose it was there own sense of oral tradition and it's "par excellence" that caused them to blur the lines between rightly dividing and applying truth from elevating traditions, notions, beliefs, and practices that arise from man (not God) to the status of "divine" in nature. If tradition keeps it's place it is all well and good. If it usurps the place of Scripture it is dangerous. This is the lesson the Scribes and Pharisees teach us in their own failures in this regard.

Of course, I do not mean any offense with my views or opinions. I hope none is taken.
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« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2007, 09:48:53 PM »

Cleopas,

In actuality, everything you have said in your past two posts sounds very Orthodox in its nature (note the uppercase O).  Using your understanding of Sola Scriptura, the implied problem is that the church committed the heresy that you speak of, that is, putting tradition above Scripture.

But I pose this question to you:

Where did the Bible come from?  As Ignatius stated, Christ did not say "write this down."  Nor was it written down immediately during His life.  So how did the Bible become the Bible?  Where did it come from?  The CHURCH!  It was an oral tradition that was accepted in the community of the church.  The Church determined which books were good for our salvation and they were canonized.  This is why the "gospel" of Judas, the "gospel" of Thomas, the "gospel" of Mary Magdalene, etc. were not accepted into the canon.  Those books were not accepted by the church community, nor were they considered important for our salvation. 

But did the church just blindly canonize it and say, "okay here it is!  Do what you will!  Interpret the way you wish!"  No.  Rather, the church not only kept the tradition of the Bible, and canonized the books, but She instructed us IN the tradition of the Bible, instructed the people in their catechism ACCORDING to the Bible, and the put the Bible into action!  Here's an analogy to try to explain what I'm getting at:  if you hand a person who knows nothing of mathematics a college level geometry question and say, "go for it," without teaching them what to do, chances are they won't be able to answer it.  They need a teacher to teach them and guide them.  Consider someone who wants to be a classical vocalist without a vocal instructor...  Even if they figure out how to read the music, where do they learn the technique?  Where do they learn vocal control, breathing, consonant and vowel shaping, etc?  These are things that they must be taught by an instructor.  Now, consider that the calculus instructor is Pythagorus, and the vocalist is Pavarotti (Pavarotti isn't even the best example because he didn't develop the art of singing).  Why would you then turn around and tell them that they are heretics, or that they don't know what they are talking about, or that they went too far?  It is the same way with the church and the Bible.  The church is responsible for the very existence of the Bible (as such).  Not the other way around.  It was the church who had the gumption to write everything down for posterity in what we now call the Bible, and then instruct the faithful in the proper application of what She determined was important.  So how could one say that the church is wrong or went too far?  Now, that's not to say that the church is ABOVE the Bible, because She's not.  But the church provides for us the context in which to interpret the Bible.  Without the context, there can be no proper understanding.

Simply restated from a class I took at the seminary:
Before the authority of the written word ever came to be, there was the authority of communal leaders, priests, prophets, apostles, and teachers who communicated and interpreted God's Word with a living voice.  Tradition as a living reality in which the life of faith was nurtured not only preceded and shaped Scripture, it also followed Scripture as the authoritative context for the reception, interpretation, and transmission of the Word of God.  It was in the stream of tradition that the New Testament had its genesis, with no sense of tension between oral and written traditions, or between Scripture and tradition.  The scriptural books possessed authority because they were part of the tradition.

Here's another way to look at it:
What are the uses of the Bible?  In other words, what is its purpose?  I'll propose five... Catechetical, Devotional, Homeletical, Liturgical, and Doctrinal.  It is these last two, Liturgical and Doctrinal, that Sola Scriptura opposes.  Here's the problem with that:  the Liturgy is nothing more than the GOSPEL IN ACTION!  Every word in the Divine Liturgy is taken straight from the Bible, not to mention being descended directly from the book of Acts.  And the Doctrinal use of scripture is nothing more than stating our faith as found IN the Bible!  And this stating of faith (such as the Nicene Creed) guides us on our path toward Christ and keeps us from falling away from the path.  How can this be a problem?

Sorry this is so long.  But I hope that it's clear!  Forgive me if I have offended, it was not my intent.

God bless you always!
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« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2007, 10:19:49 PM »

Cleopas,

In actuality, everything you have said in your past two posts sounds very Orthodox in its nature (note the uppercase O).  Using your understanding of Sola Scriptura, the implied problem is that the church committed the heresy that you speak of, that is, putting tradition above Scripture.

Thank you. Albeit, my intent was not accuse anyone or any group of putting tradition above scripture. Just to note that tradition is ultimately subject to Scripture, and not the other way around.



Quote
Where did the Bible come from? As Ignatius stated, Christ did not say "write this down."  Nor was it written down immediately during His life.  So how did the Bible become the Bible?  Where did it come from?  The CHURCH!  It was an oral tradition that was accepted in the community of the church.  The Church determined which books were good for our salvation and they were canonized.  This is why the "gospel" of Judas, the "gospel" of Thomas, the "gospel" of Mary Magdalene, etc. were not accepted into the canon.  Those books were not accepted by the church community, nor were they considered important for our salvation. 

Indeed. I do not deny this. I would qualify however that the church received and defended what the Spirit inspired and authored through various believers both under the OT and the NT. Nevertheless the inspired written word of God was already so before the church officially canonized it. In fact the church, the community of believers by and large, had already accepted it as such. What God has said and inspired to be written will never be anything less that His word. Whether a church accepts it or not does not change that fact. Therefore the nature of Scripture as such is primary above all other belief and practices. It is inherently authoritative.

BTW, what exactly do you mean when you refer to liturgy? The forms and expressions of worship and Christian assemblage?

Quote
What are the uses of the Bible?  In other words, what is its purpose?  I'll propose five... Catechetical, Devotional, Homeletical, Liturgical, and Doctrinal.  It is these last two, Liturgical and Doctrinal, that Sola Scriptura opposes.  Here's the problem with that:  the Liturgy is nothing more than the GOSPEL IN ACTION!  Every word in the Divine Liturgy is taken straight from the Bible, not to mention being descended directly from the book of Acts.  And the Doctrinal use of scripture is nothing more than stating our faith as found IN the Bible!  And this stating of faith (such as the Nicene Creed) guides us on our path toward Christ and keeps us from falling away from the path.  How can this be a problem?

In and of itself it is not a problem. It can only be a problem if such statements by us are not held with the view in mind that we are prone to misunderstanding and error. That is how an error gets written off as a truth and the findings of the church and it's ruling can overstep and effectively alter the teaching of Scripture itself. That's how a man made construct can be proclaimed divine truth.

Quote
Sorry this is so long.  But I hope that it's clear!  Forgive me if I have offended, it was not my intent.

Not all, friend. Not at all. It is I who wants to be careful not to be offensive. I am the fish out of water here. I am not sure what forms of dialog and what unique expressions may or may not be perceived as offensive on my part. I am thankful that so far I appear to be striking a balance.


Blessings!
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« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2007, 10:29:03 PM »

Nevertheless he has given us the truth once for all and it is contained within the revelation of Scripture. Can the church and it's structure edify us in the faith? Sure. But when an individual, or the church, strays from the right way, the rule of Scripture serves as the means whereby to judge or course and make amends.

Please read your Scriptures, especially I Timothy 3:15, where Paul speaks of the Church as the pillar and foundation of the Truth.  Individuals can err; but the Church cannot.  You will also note that it is the Church which is responsible for setting in order what was lost because of heretics and schismatics, who, also appealed to Scripture to justify their own false beliefs.  One need only look at Arius, Nestorius and their followers, the Scriptures they cited to back up their claims.  Scripture on its own has the authority that it was given by the Church.
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« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2007, 11:34:40 PM »

Thank you. Albeit, my intent was not accuse anyone or any group of putting tradition above scripture. Just to note that tradition is ultimately subject to Scripture, and not the other way around.

Don't worry, absolutely no accusation was assumed here!  I love a good, healthy discussion with someone who is a wholehearted believer!

Indeed. I do not deny this. I would qualify however that the church received and defended what the Spirit inspired and authored through various believers both under the OT and the NT. Nevertheless the inspired written word of God was already so before the church officially canonized it. In fact the church, the community of believers by and large, had already accepted it as such. What God has said and inspired to be written will never be anything less that His word. Whether a church accepts it or not does not change that fact. Therefore the nature of Scripture as such is primary above all other belief and practices. It is inherently authoritative.

The fact that Scripture is divinely inspired, I do not deny.  But, don't forget that the Bible, while being inspired, is not perfect.  It was written by men, not God.  It is not infallible in every word.  This is why we see occasional inconsistencies.  And this is why the correct interpretation, and thus the correct context, as provided by the church and the leaders that wrote the text itself down, is so important.  You say that the Church received and defended... that's exactly my point.  The Church received it and defended it.  Why, then, cut the Church out of the picture when it obviously plays such an important role?  The final authority on the proper interpretation and implimentation of the Scripture has always been, and should always be the conscience of the Church (through councils such as the Ecumenical Councils.  I note here that there were councils that were not accepted.  This is the conscience of the Church, aka the Holy Spirit, in action).  Without that conscience, there is no final authority on the proper interpretation, and this is dangerous (I will point to the examples that Scamandrius also noted of Arius, Nestorius, and others like them).  Historically (and please, I mean no offense by this), we point to the fact that the churches who believe in Sola Scriptura have divided into thousands of different sects as proof that this doctrine is incorrect.  These churches are no longer a cohesive community, and thus the conscience of the church is not present, as it cannot act in so many sects.  Therefore, proper interpretation and implimentation of the Scriptures is all but lost.

BTW, what exactly do you mean when you refer to liturgy? The forms and expressions of worship and Christian assemblage?

I am specifically referring to the Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom, St. Basil the Great, St. James, and the Pre-sanctified Liturgy (by St. Gregory the Diologist/Pope of Rome-- pre-schism) that we celebrate in the Eastern Orthodox Church.  These are the masses that we celebrate wherein we receive Holy Communion (our Sunday Services, so to speak, even though Pre-Sanctified is actually never on Sundays and only during Great Lent).  All of the worship services (like Vespers, the Marriage service, Baptisms, Ordinations, etc.) are taken straight from Scripture.  They are either direct quotes from scripture, or are specifically based in, and referring to scripture.

Not all, friend. Not at all. It is I who wants to be careful not to be offensive. I am the fish out of water here. I am not sure what forms of dialog and what unique expressions may or may not be perceived as offensive on my part. I am thankful that so far I appear to be striking a balance.

Please don't worry about offending, especially not me.  Like I said, I enjoy this.  And it is refreshing to hear someone who is so well versed in their faith and can speak authoritatively about something I know little about.  I am really enjoying learning from you!  Don't worry about people who get snippy and take offense.  Personally, I think that it's ridiculous to take offense at someone who is a believer in Christ and a cheerful evangelist and is only proclaiming what they believe.  God bless you for being a faithful servant of Christ and for having the courage to be the "fish out of water."  Heaven knows we can all learn something from you!
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« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2007, 12:42:21 AM »

Just to note that tradition is ultimately subject to Scripture, and not the other way around.
I disagree. Tradition is subject to Christ. Scripture is subject to Christ. Neither of them would have any authority without Him.
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« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2007, 02:32:46 AM »

Please read your Scriptures, especially I Timothy 3:15, where Paul speaks of the Church as the pillar and foundation of the Truth.  Individuals can err; but the Church cannot.  You will also note that it is the Church which is responsible for setting in order what was lost because of heretics and schismatics, who, also appealed to Scripture to justify their own false beliefs.  One need only look at Arius, Nestorius and their followers, the Scriptures they cited to back up their claims.  Scripture on its own has the authority that it was given by the Church.

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. That is it upholds, displays, and memorializes the truth. Jesus tells us what the truth is when He prayed for us to the Father and said "keep them through thy truth, thy word is truth."

The reason we know something is erroneous or heresy is not because the church says so. It is because the Scripture says so. The church seeks to know and communicate what the Scripture says. We are in that capacity effectively a judicial body seeking to properly interpret and apply the law and principles of our governing document (pardon the metaphoric use of American judiciary & constitutional ideals). We know what Arius taught is wrong, despite his proof texts, because the whole of Scripture when properly viewed does not support his notions and conclusions.

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« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2007, 02:42:32 AM »

The reason we know something is erroneous or heresy is not because the church says so. It is because the Scripture says so. The church seeks to know and communicate what the Scripture says. We are in that capacity effectively a judicial body seeking to properly interpret and apply the law and principles of our governing document (pardon the metaphoric use of American judiciary & constitutional ideals). We know what Arius taught is wrong, despite his proof texts, because the whole of Scripture when properly viewed does not support his notions and conclusions.

Who defines what the proper viewpoint is??
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« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2007, 02:52:14 AM »

Who defines what the proper viewpoint is??

The church, as it is lead and enabled by the Spirit. Yet still, it is the Scripture that is final and authoritative. After all it is already settled in heaven. It is we who see through a glass darkly and who are growing in grace and knowledge.

The church is fallible, because on a basic level the church is people. Only the Divine Himself is infallible. And thankfully He will work in and through us, despite or finiteness, to accomplish His purpose and will.  Wink
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« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2007, 03:38:19 AM »

The church, as it is lead and enabled by the Spirit. Yet still, it is the Scripture that is final and authoritative. After all it is already settled in heaven. It is we who see through a glass darkly and who are growing in grace and knowledge.

The church is fallible, because on a basic level the church is people. Only the Divine Himself is infallible. And thankfully He will work in and through us, despite or finiteness, to accomplish His purpose and will.  Wink

Which Scripture??

"Light and Darkness, life and death, right and left, are brothers of one another. They are inseparable. Because of this neither are the good good, nor evil evil, nor is life life, nor death death. For this reason each one will dissolve into its earliest origin. But those who are exalted above the world are indissoluble, eternal."

That is not my canon nor in yours. But some consider it part of theirs. The Church decided it was not. The Church wrote the Bible, as She is the Bride of Christ, the Pillar of Truth.

It is a circular argument that no one can hope to win.
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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2007, 09:53:48 AM »

Grace and Peace Cleopas,

Let me say that I really appreciate your kindness. You come bringing 'good fruit' and that says a lot 'too me'.  Smiley

When I meet one who is humble of heart I can't help but embrace as brothers...  angel= angel

Great to have you here!!!
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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2007, 10:55:35 AM »

Grace and Peace Cleopas,

Let me say that I really appreciate your kindness. You come bringing 'good fruit' and that says a lot 'too me'.  Smiley

When I meet one who is humble of heart I can't help but embrace as brothers...  angel= angel

Great to have you here!!!

Thank You brother.  Grin

I feel the same towards you. Smiley


Yours in Him,
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« Reply #17 on: November 30, 2007, 11:39:47 AM »

The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. That is it upholds, displays, and memorializes the truth. Jesus tells us what the truth is when He prayed for us to the Father and said "keep them through thy truth, thy word is truth."

The reason we know something is erroneous or heresy is not because the church says so. It is because the Scripture says so..

I think you did not read what I wrote.  Did you not see that the heretics such as Arius and Nestorius also appealed to Scripture to justify their heresies?  The Church is thus the corrective authority and bulwark and pillar of truth.

And why must "word" always for Protestants only mean the written word.  Is Christ not the Logos, the Incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity?  When Christ prays to His Father, is He not speaking of Himself?

The written word has only been with humankind for a short while.  It is totally illogical that a predominantly oral society with an emerging literacy and text understanding could use only the written word for all the beliefs and doctrines and dogmas concerning our Lord and God and Saviour.  Luther lived in the era when the printing press was revolutionizing everything.  He was quite wrong to assume that the Church and the holy fathers were living in a society with the same access to print and to text.  Ad fontes was the rallying cry of the Renaissance, not the Apostolic Fathers or their heirs.
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« Reply #18 on: November 30, 2007, 11:56:24 AM »

I think you did not read what I wrote.  Did you not see that the heretics such as Arius and Nestorius also appealed to Scripture to justify their heresies?  The Church is thus the corrective authority and bulwark and pillar of truth.

Indeed, I did. I suppose my comments regarding these were not as clear or well stated as I would have hoped.

Quote
And why must "word" always for Protestants only mean the written word.  Is Christ not the Logos, the Incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity?  When Christ prays to His Father, is He not speaking of Himself?

Nay. In this context Christ is referring to the teaching He brought from God to us. Truly He is the living word. But in the context of His prayer in John 17, this word the apostles had received and would be sanctified through (not to mention pass down to us) was the teaching of God.

Why must the word of God always be the written word? Because God has ordained it so. In His time all of his revelation was passed from oral to written in both the OT and the NT. In this way He has preserved for us the faith. It is all Scripture that is God breathed and profitable for doctrine, reproof, etc. It does not say all tradition, all councils, etc. They may or may not be good unto that end. But Scripture is unquestionably so.

At least that is how I understand it.

Quote
The written word has only been with humankind for a short while.  It is totally illogical that a predominantly oral society with an emerging literacy and text understanding could use only the written word for all the beliefs and doctrines and dogmas concerning our Lord and God and Saviour.  Luther lived in the era when the printing press was revolutionizing everything.  He was quite wrong to assume that the Church and the holy fathers were living in a society with the same access to print and to text.  Ad fontes was the rallying cry of the Renaissance, not the Apostolic Fathers or their heirs.

Not so-- God, from the very beginning, has transmitted His word and will to us and then had it written down for preservation. He did it with Moses. he restored it with Nehemiah and Ezra. Likewise with he who Moses typified. The covenant is written down and committed to us. It is in a very real sense our ketubah, that which is written -- our copy of the wedding contract and covenant of Christ to His church. It is THE new covenant.
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« Reply #19 on: November 30, 2007, 03:01:17 PM »

But Scripture is unquestionably so.

At least that is how I understand it.

Exactly.  The way you understand it is not the way it is to be understood.  You are not the final arbiter.  The Church is from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #20 on: November 30, 2007, 04:23:42 PM »

Exactly.  The way you understand it is not the way it is to be understood.  You are not the final arbiter.  The Church is from the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.


That was added as a sign of humbleness. I did not wish to come across so authoritative that I stifled response or fruitful dialog. I didn't want to give the appearance of the smug protestant who think he knows everything.

I am not sure I could have faired much better, now, if I had done otherwise. Seems as if I was burned either way.  Undecided
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« Reply #21 on: November 30, 2007, 04:49:32 PM »

I disagree. Tradition is subject to Christ. Scripture is subject to Christ. Neither of them would have any authority without Him.


Tradition came first then later the bible. It was Tradition, Apostles and the Church Fathers which kept the church on the straight and narrow prior to a written Bible. 

The Bible is a part of Tradition not the other way around.
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« Reply #22 on: November 30, 2007, 06:15:23 PM »


That was added as a sign of humbleness. I did not wish to come across so authoritative that I stifled response or fruitful dialog. I didn't want to give the appearance of the smug protestant who think he knows everything.

I am not sure I could have faired much better, now, if I had done otherwise. Seems as if I was burned either way.  Undecided

I certainly have NOT found you to be "the smug protestant who thinks he knows everything."  Quite the contrary!  I find you to be a breath of fresh air!  I thank God for your presence and what it brings to the conversation, because, whether we agree or not, you give us cause to stop and think and question and reaffirm our own beliefs!  I have found this to be the most intellectually stimulating conversation I've had on this forum yet (of course I obviously haven't been on here long, but still... you get the point)!! 

I must say, and I imagine this is because I have been raised in Orthodoxy, that I am suprised by the emphasis on the written word, rather than on the entirety of Tradition.  I mean, it seems illogical to me to deny the fact that the Scriptures were passed down within an oral tradition(and that writing them was totally secondary, merely a convenience at most), and that the context and authority of the church is what gave the written Scriptures their authority.  In all honesty, reading over the posts, this does seem like a circular argument, simply because no one denies the primacy of Scriptures among Tradition.  It is as I said in my first (?) post that the problem lies in the implication that the church somehow overstepped it's bounds where Scripture is concerned.  The issues that Luther was addressing with Sola Scriptura were in the Latin church, and even he did not deny the importance of an incorrupt church (notice the qualifier of incorrupt-- this is the reason that Luther left).  He did not strip away the liturgical practices/sacraments, the hierarchy, etc.  He was simply fighting the corruption in the Latin church and pointing out that THEY had overstepped their bounds by putting into practice policies (such as pergatory and indulgences) that had absolutely NO scriptural basis.  But to completely do away with the jewel that is the church (of course I'm biased toward the EO church when I'm saying this), seems to me to be throwing the baby out with the bath water!  The EO church would never put anything into practice that is not Scripturally supported!

God bless you, Cleopas.  And thank you again for your insights!
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« Reply #23 on: November 30, 2007, 09:10:38 PM »

The EO church would never put anything into practice that is not Scripturally supported!

Well, you guys do too. Recall icon veneration, the Dormition, the sinlessness of Mary. Neither are "Bible-based."

There's more support for purgatory in the Bible than for any of these (true) doctrines/practices. Scripture contains the inerrant Word of God, but it isn't the entire Word of God.
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« Reply #24 on: November 30, 2007, 09:23:15 PM »

There's more support for purgatory in the Bible than for any of these (true) doctrines/practices. Scripture contains the inerrant Word of God, but it isn't the entire Word of God.

I'm not going to say anything about purgatory, lubeltri. I do agree with your last statement.  the EO view Scripture as an Icon of God.  It is not God.  Protestants will often treat Scripture as if it were God.  How can the uncontained be contained?  God was in the Virgin's womb, but the EO don't suggest God, the uncontainble is contained in the Scriptures.  I like Fr. Coniaris' statement.  The Scriptures are the ship which lead us to Christ.  Too many people, though, are too busy looking for leaks in that boat. 
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« Reply #25 on: November 30, 2007, 11:18:38 PM »

Well, you guys do too. Recall icon veneration, the Dormition, the sinlessness of Mary. Neither are "Bible-based."

There's more support for purgatory in the Bible than for any of these (true) doctrines/practices. Scripture contains the inerrant Word of God, but it isn't the entire Word of God.

We EO do not believe in the sinlessness of Mary.  The only person who ever lived without sin was Christ.  She was probably as close as a human can get, but she was not without sin.

You are correct about what you say about the Dormition, though.  This is taken from the protoevangelion of St. James, which is not contained within the canonized NT.  It is considered by the Church "good for reading," but is not "Scripture" in the pure sense of the word.  The protoevangelion of St. James was well known in the early church, and the only reason it wasn't canonized was because it did not contain anything that the church determined was essential to our salvation-- this was the criteria they used to determine whether or not a book should be canonized into the collection of books we now know as the Bible.  They do not contain essential knowledge (in other words we can attain salvation without having read them), but they do contain information that is considered good for reading, meaning that they can help us in our journey to salvation.  This is especially true of the protoevangelion of St. James, as the life of the Virgin Mary stands as an example for us all to aspire to.

The veneration of icons, however, is actually scripturally supported by the OT, when God commanded that images be painted above the mercy seat (I'll have to look up the chapter and verse later, if you'd like). 

I guess I should rephrase what I said.  The EO do not put into practice things that can be specifically refuted by anything in the Bible.  These things mentioned above are taken from the life and practices of the early church, not thrown in later.  They are all in the spirit of Scripture and well within the bounds of the traditions of the church.  These types of things, of course, are at the crux of the Sola Scriptura argument.  Just because it isn't SPECIFICALLY stated in the Gospels doesn't make it any less sound as doctrine.  After all, what does the Gospel of John tell us?  All the books in all the world can't contain... obviously not everything about God could possibly contained within the written word.  So if God Himself doesn't limit the revelation of truth to the written word, why would we?
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« Reply #26 on: December 02, 2007, 11:50:26 PM »

We EO do not believe in the sinlessness of Mary.  The only person who ever lived without sin was Christ.  She was probably as close as a human can get, but she was not without sin.

I'm not sure about this blanket statement.  There is no doubt that Mary inherited the same corruption as the rest of us and thus was in need of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ as the rest of us.  However, I believe that there is some dissension within the Holy Fathers regarding the issue of sinlessness.  St. John Chrysostom, whom I think was referenced before, did say something about Mary being "prideful."  I'd have to examine the patristic evidence more closely.

I guess I should rephrase what I said.  The EO do not put into practice things that can be specifically refuted by anything in the Bible.  These things mentioned above are taken from the life and practices of the early church, not thrown in later.  They are all in the spirit of Scripture and well within the bounds of the traditions of the church.  These types of things, of course, are at the crux of the Sola Scriptura argument.  Just because it isn't SPECIFICALLY stated in the Gospels doesn't make it any less sound as doctrine.  After all, what does the Gospel of John tell us?  All the books in all the world can't contain... obviously not everything about God could possibly contained within the written word.  So if God Himself doesn't limit the revelation of truth to the written word, why would we?

This is often called, in Protestant circles, the Catholic Principle.  Lutheranism prided itself on its CAtholic Principle which one can find in the writings of the Book of Concord.  However, most of those have been jettisoned, especially in the past 150 years.  With regard to Lutheranism in particular, they have either become extreme fundamentalists (Missouri Synod) and use the Bible extremely literally or an anything goes crowd (ELCA) who suggest that the Bible says only what they want it to with regards to what they feel it should say.  Either way, the Catholic Principle has been mostly abandoned.  How unforutnate that so many treasured doctrines of the Church have been lost.
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« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2007, 11:18:12 AM »

I'm not sure about this blanket statement.  There is no doubt that Mary inherited the same corruption as the rest of us and thus was in need of the Passion and Resurrection of Christ as the rest of us.  However, I believe that there is some dissension within the Holy Fathers regarding the issue of sinlessness.  St. John Chrysostom, whom I think was referenced before, did say something about Mary being "prideful."  I'd have to examine the patristic evidence more closely.

This is often called, in Protestant circles, the Catholic Principle.  Lutheranism prided itself on its CAtholic Principle which one can find in the writings of the Book of Concord.  However, most of those have been jettisoned, especially in the past 150 years.  With regard to Lutheranism in particular, they have either become extreme fundamentalists (Missouri Synod) and use the Bible extremely literally or an anything goes crowd (ELCA) who suggest that the Bible says only what they want it to with regards to what they feel it should say.  Either way, the Catholic Principle has been mostly abandoned.  How unforutnate that so many treasured doctrines of the Church have been lost.

I've been researching that same quote from Chrysostom.  I'm going to post it on the other two threads about Mary and sinlessness if I find it. 

To be honest, I don't know anything about the Catholic Principle.  Could you explain more, please?  I would be interested to know...

Thanks!
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« Reply #28 on: December 03, 2007, 10:51:11 PM »

I've been researching that same quote from Chrysostom.  I'm going to post it on the other two threads about Mary and sinlessness if I find it. 

To be honest, I don't know anything about the Catholic Principle.  Could you explain more, please?  I would be interested to know...

Thanks!


I don't know if I can explain it any more than I have already.  The Catholic Principle holds that any practice that is not more or less specifically condemned in Scripture is OK and should be preserved for the continued good order of the Church.  For instance, the invocation of the saints, the perpetual virginity of the Theotokos, the use of unleavened bread, the epiclesis, etc. are not specifically mentioned in Scripture yet these practices and beliefs have been part of the life of the Church for considerably longer than the codification and canonization of the Holy Scriptures.  In Protestantism, particularly Lutheranism, the Catholic Principle was retained because Luther, Chemnitz and Melanchthon did not want to jettison such doctrines and practices because they were catholics in the true sense of the word, believing and holding as true those things which had been believed everywhere and at every time, which is, of course, the test ST. Vincent of Lerins employed in his works as to what practices need to be retained and those that need to be abolished.  This is also further clarified in the Latin axiom, lex orandi, lex credendi, the law of prayer [is] the law of belief.   That's it, more or less. Let me know if you have any further questions.
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« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2007, 08:52:02 AM »

Cleopas said the following on another thread:

Quote
Personally, since I find in the NT itself record of inroads being made into the life, belief, and practices of the primitive church. I don't place as much confidence in the writing of those after that generation, or hardly any in those after them for sure.

There are huge problems with this way of thinking, especially regarding the last sentence. 

1) The NT Scriptures were not compiled for about 300 years (367 AD is when we see the first list of our 27 books NT from Athanasius).   So, we don't trust anyone (even great defenders of the faith) say after 150 AD.  But then, they in circa 400 AD that get there act together, compile the scriptures, and go back to their former ways?  Now, I agree that their writings do not reach the level of Scriptures, but should they be ignored in favor of opinions written more than one thousand years later? 


2) Even worse, if we accept the premise of some Protestants (and I don't know if you fall into this category, so forgive me if I am not representing your views) that shortly after the scriptures were written the church fell into error and soon after apostacy, what does that make of God's promise that "the gates of hell would not prevail against his church?"  (Matt 16:18).  That promise didn't last for 400 years?

Quote
Scripture itself only lists one thing for me to know as absolutely authoritative in doctrine and practice -- Scripture itself.

Actually, Paul says this:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle  (2 Thess 2:15)."

And look at Jesus's ministry.  Where is the verse that says that Jesus instructed is disciples to collect his
words and publish them?  Instead, he sends out the apostles and empowers them with the Holy Spirit.  He even gives them the power to bound on heaven what was bound on earth.

Quote
But it, the Scripture, keeps on declaring the truth, and nothing but the truth, when nothing else does (even the church -- i.e. Rome differs with Constantinople).

Firstly, the Scriptures call the church--not the NT--"the pillar and foundation of the truth."  Then, if the Scripture keeps declaring the truth, a whole lot of people are misinterpretating it.  I know the Holy Spirit is supposed to enlighten the reader in understanding it.  But what has happened? We have tens of thousands of denominations believing they understand the Holy Spirit.   Could this be God's plan?  Would God just leave us with a book to guide us?  No, he gives us a church, as promised.  Yes, we have Rome and Constantinople, but we see that  schisms were forecast in the Bible, too.   

Quote
As for protestanism, evnaglicanism, etc. I do not see them as discovers of truth. Rather as archeoligist (metaphorically) -- unearthers and restorers of truth covered over by centuries gone by.

What if, just suppose, that truth was never lost.  We would have no need to rack our brains mining for truth.  All we would simply go to that church which was ordinated by Jesus himself, right?  That's is what Orthodox Christians really think happened--the truth was never lost and remains in his church. 

Now, you may be thinking, what about those "dark times" of the church.  And admittedly, they existed, and it was the fault of men.  But, what did Jesus do?  He entrusted the church to men.  You may not be comfortable with that, and Calvin certainly was not and sometimes even I wonder what was God thinking, but that is his plan.   One of the things I love about Jesus's ministry is that I didn't just sit in an ivory tower and lecture (although it did tell off the Pharisees pretty well).  He was fully man.  He got hungry, he wept, he healed, and he even trusted men--knowing that they would betray Him.  To say that he trusted his entire church, his bride, to a text doesn't seem like the relational Jesus that walked the earth 2000 years ago.   

Quote
We see ourselves as rediscovering what was there all the time. Until that is perfectly uncovered and restored we will continue to err, and struggle.

Oh, brother, I really understand this.  I remember struggling with my understanding of scripture.  Was I really correct?   What if I'm wrong?  If the text is so clear, how come many more learned and faithful people than I disagree?  I better learn more about the context of Scripture, then I'll know, I thought.  Maybe, I should go to seminary.   With Orthodoxy, I have found the freedom of not having to do this.  I put my trust in the Church, not my own understanding.  What a burden removed!

I might add here that Orthodoxy is not like that "cast your cares on Jesus" hymn.  There is struggle in the Orthodox church and sacrifice.  Happily, the church doesn't try to sweep it under the rug.    We don't go to church and try to recapture moments of great joy we had in our walk.  Instead, you get a priest whom you confess to, who walks with you and understands your struggles.  But I digress. . .

Okay, I've said enough for one sitting. 
Blessings to you!

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« Reply #30 on: December 11, 2007, 01:08:55 PM »

I think what Trifecta said was right on the money...

For me, part of trusting the authority of the church where Scripture is concerned has to do with the Saints themselves, who write on the Scriptures, who were present at the councils, etc.

For example, today we celebrate the memory of St. Spyridon, who was at the first Ecumenical Council in 325, who explained the mystery of the Holy Trinity by doing what?  By performing a miracle!  He took a brick in his hand and at once, a flame of fire shot up, water dripped, and dust was left in his hand.  He explained that these three distinct elements together made up the brick.  It is the same way with the Holy Trinity... three persons, one essence.

How many of us can explain the essence of God by performing a miracle?  Not many, I would say.  For me, the fruits of these Saints' lives are all the proof I need.  We can see their authority by the way they lived their lives- the miracles they performed, the love they showed others, etc.  They LIVED the Gospel they preached.    Personally, I am more inclined to trust the word of men who are obviously Holier than me, who obviously are lit from within by the Holy Spirit.

Maybe, Cleopas, reading the lives of the early saints (like St. Spyridon) would give you some insight into the Orthodox tradition.  I can see why you might question the authority of the Church where Scripture is concerned when you aren't familiar with the people involved.  I would say start reading the lives of the saints (and maybe some people here on OCnet would also chime in and help tell you where to begin, like which saints to start with), and the saints themselves will explain to you why the church is so essential, and why the Orthodox Church is STILL the "pillar and foundation of the truth."  They defended the church and her teachings in life, why would they cease to do so in death?  You obviously are a man of great faith and good intent, I have no doubt that they will help you understand, if you truly want.

God bless you!
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« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2008, 12:42:44 AM »

I have been reading a few of these disscussions regarding Protestants and their view of the Scriptures,and something came to me,Jesus Christ is the Word of God,The Second Person in the Trinune God,and the Church is the Body of Christ,then to Me the Church speaks "The Word of God",authority then resides in this "word of God",under Sola Scriptura the individual speaks the "word of God",or at least they think they do.  To me this is wrong,I alone can't speak the "word of God" because I am only part of the Body of Christ,I'm out of my "jurisdiction" so to speak.  So to me Sola Scriptura attemps to take authority away from Christ,and place in the hands of the individual in determining truth,regardless of ones sincerity.

I basically agree.  Christ is the authority.  The bible is his word and the church is his body.  Not all protestants are sole scriptura.
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« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2008, 09:13:03 AM »

Do you agree with Denny B. or with his description of Protestants? It sounds like you are saying the opposite of what he did.

When we speak of Protestants, I think of all Christians who are not Catholic or Orthodox. This would include, but not be limited to, the following: Anglicans/Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists, Pentecostals, Baptists, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Vinyards and independent churches. Some are sola scriptura, some are not. Some, such as the Anglicans, have never "protested" anything, and thus perhaps "Protestant" is a misnomer. But for purposes of debate, it is easiest, I have found, to have a broad category of "Protestant" when talking about the group at large, and mentioning the name of the denomination if we want to speak specificially about that one communion. This in no way implies that all Protestants are the same; it merely makes it easier for us to talk intelligently and productively about the more than 25,000 Christian confessions that are neither in communion with Rome or the Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #33 on: December 31, 2008, 07:10:06 AM »

    it seems illogical to me to deny ...that the context and authority of the church is what gave the written Scriptures their authority. 

    Ignore this if it is out of order to comment on a thread which became dormant before I was drawn into the forum.

    It seems to me that "what gave the written scriptures their authority" happened at the time of their writing, not in the late 4th century when they were finally gathered into a complete and agreed canon. What imparted that authority was the fact that they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at the time, by the Lord's apostles and their associates. In other words, the scriptures got their authority between, shall we say, ca 40 and 90 AD, and always had them.

    (It is interesting to speculate whether Paul's lost epistles to the Corinthians would be added to the canon if they were unearthed in some Egyptian sands... but that is to wander off the point: we must deal with the Bible we have, not the one we would like!)

    There does also seem to me to be, in a lot of Orthodox writings, a misunderstanding of the 'right of private interpretation' which you (rightly in my view) attack so often. I take it to mean something like this:

    • A man comes to Wrexham selling bits of paper which guarantee release from time in Purgatory, and I say to myself, "Hang on a minute! That's not according to scripture"
    • A prominent Baptist minister denies the deity of Christ (1970s), and I say the same
    • A prominent Anglican bishop denies the resurrection of Christ (1990s? - Durham, before Tom Wright), and I say the same

    That's how it works in practice: but the normal Protestant is not, as has been said, 'his own pope'. Of course, you get oddballs and cranks on the fringes who promote their own weird ideas and interpretations of verses of scripture, but that (I suspect) has happened all through church history including in NT times. For a pre-1054 example, read the Blickling Homilies and the Vercelli Book, and then read Ælfric's Catholic Homilies as a corrective. Some even start little churches - or even bigger ones - on the basis of their notions.

    All this, of course, is different from your much more cogent arguments about the claimed additional authority of Tradition handed down from Clement, Ignatius, Justin and so on. In other words, when you (I don't mean only GreekChef) are arguing positively for what you believe, you are much more persuasive and unsettling than poor old Dawkins with his "God Delusion"; but when Orthodox are arguing against what we believe, you often seem to be striving against something which isn't really there, a 'man of straw' I believe is the phrase.[/list]
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    « Reply #34 on: December 31, 2008, 09:48:15 AM »

      it seems illogical to me to deny ...that the context and authority of the church is what gave the written Scriptures their authority. 

      Ignore this if it is out of order to comment on a thread which became dormant before I was drawn into the forum.

      It seems to me that "what gave the written scriptures their authority" happened at the time of their writing, not in the late 4th century when they were finally gathered into a complete and agreed canon. What imparted that authority was the fact that they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at the time, by the Lord's apostles and their associates. In other words, the scriptures got their authority between, shall we say, ca 40 and 90 AD, and always had them.

      (It is interesting to speculate whether Paul's lost epistles to the Corinthians would be added to the canon if they were unearthed in some Egyptian sands... but that is to wander off the point: we must deal with the Bible we have, not the one we would like!)

      Here we have the answer: even if unearthed, it would not be added to the canon, even if it was proved that it was written by St. Paul.  The Church has spoken.

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      « Reply #35 on: December 31, 2008, 10:32:35 AM »


      Here we have the answer: ... The Church has spoken.

      I tend to agree. But I wonder why. It feels more like instinct than clear thought.  Embarrassed If I may use the word 'infallible' for the words of Paul when he was writing under inspiration, what does it say about my view of scripture? I suspect it says two things:

      1) that divine providence operated when some of his writings were kept and others lost

      2)that the Holy Spirit gave the church the inner witness or recognition which directed them which writings to include of those which were still circulating, Paul's and a host of others, and which not to include.

      Sounds pretty much like your view.

      Am I right in thinking that there must have been a point in the past at which the church could now say, "We have been led into all truth: there is no further revelation to come or to be recognised before the eschaton"? If so, does the discussion centre around when that point was reached? Some would say it was with the end of the inspired writing; some would say it was when the inspired writings were universally recognised by the church, gathered together, and authoritatively listed; some would say with the final ecumenical council; others doubtless have other ideas.

      I am asking questions - and asking for reasons - I am not proposing answers.
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      « Reply #36 on: December 31, 2008, 10:51:49 AM »


      Here we have the answer: ... The Church has spoken.

      I tend to agree. But I wonder why. It feels more like instinct than clear thought.  Embarrassed If I may use the word 'infallible' for the words of Paul when he was writing under inspiration, what does it say about my view of scripture? I suspect it says two things:

      1) that divine providence operated when some of his writings were kept and others lost

      2)that the Holy Spirit gave the church the inner witness or recognition which directed them which writings to include of those which were still circulating, Paul's and a host of others, and which not to include.

      Sounds pretty much like your view.

      Am I right in thinking that there must have been a point in the past at which the church could now say, "We have been led into all truth: there is no further revelation to come or to be recognised before the eschaton"? If so, does the discussion centre around when that point was reached? Some would say it was with the end of the inspired writing; some would say it was when the inspired writings were universally recognised by the church, gathered together, and authoritatively listed; some would say with the final ecumenical council; others doubtless have other ideas.

      I am asking questions - and asking for reasons - I am not proposing answers.

      I would say when the NT was canonized, that is, when the Church said "we use these in the services, and no other."  The canonization of the OT (if in facgt, that has occured) is less an issue, as the OT must be read in the light of Christ, ie. the NT.  And the Ecumencial councils can only reaffirm what the NT says.  So that would be the 5th century roughly, when the lectionaries (the majority of our manuscript evidence, btw) were codified.
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      « Reply #37 on: December 31, 2008, 12:25:14 PM »


        It seems to me that "what gave the written scriptures their authority" happened at the time of their writing, not in the late 4th century when they were finally gathered into a complete and agreed canon. What imparted that authority was the fact that they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at the time, by the Lord's apostles and their associates. In other words, the scriptures got their authority between, shall we say, ca 40 and 90 AD, and always had them.

        I'm not speaking of when the Scriptures were canonized, though.  I am speaking of the fact that they were accepted by the people, the Body of Christ, and later formally canonized.  The Holy Spirit acted through the Church, that is, through the people, in preserving the Scriptures.  Further, I would say that it did not just happen at the time of their writing, because there were a host of other "gospels" written as well that circulated for some time among some of the people (the Gnostic gospels).  But these "gospels" were known to be false by the people, the Body of Christ, the Church.  If you look at it as an equation, the work of the Holy Spirit being "A," the people He acted through being "B," and the resulting acceptance and understanding of canonized Scripture being "C," then A+B=C.  If you remove "B" from the equation, you are missing something, lacking something.  The Holy Spirit can blow where It will, and I feel sure can act in any way He deems necessary.  But in this particular case, the Holy Spirit acted through the people, that is, the Church.  To remove the people from the "equation" is nothing less than heresy.

        The Holy Spirit, by working through the people, gave us the Scriptures.  The people, in turn, received and defended them (as was stated earlier in the thread).  There are two different actions taking place here.  It almost seems to me as though the argument you are presenting here denies the action of the people in the matter.  So... if the people received and defended the Scriptures (defending implies interpretation and understanding, by the way, would you agree?), why turn around and deny it and remove the Church (the people) from the equation?  It makes no sense to me.  This is what I find illogical.

        Quote
        There does also seem to me to be, in a lot of Orthodox writings, a misunderstanding of the 'right of private interpretation' which you (rightly in my view) attack so often. I take it to mean something like this:

        • A man comes to Wrexham selling bits of paper which guarantee release from time in Purgatory, and I say to myself, "Hang on a minute! That's not according to scripture"
        • A prominent Baptist minister denies the deity of Christ (1970s), and I say the same
        • A prominent Anglican bishop denies the resurrection of Christ (1990s? - Durham, before Tom Wright), and I say the same

        That's how it works in practice: but the normal Protestant is not, as has been said, 'his own pope'. Of course, you get oddballs and cranks on the fringes who promote their own weird ideas and interpretations of verses of scripture, but that (I suspect) has happened all through church history including in NT times. For a pre-1054 example, read the Blickling Homilies and the Vercelli Book, and then read Ælfric's Catholic Homilies as a corrective. Some even start little churches - or even bigger ones - on the basis of their notions.

        This, again, seems illogical to me.  If the right of private interpretation has NOT been abused and misused by Protestantism (and by such, I am referring not only to the normal Protestant, but to the Protestant thinkers like Luther, Wesley, Calvin, etc.- those whose theology is the foundation of Protestantism), then explain to me how and why there are so many various understandings of the same Scriptures?!  Even the great Protestant thinkers can't agree with each other!  Luther believed in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, but that did not remain part of the Protestant doctrine.  Even in the Lutheran church, it's left up to private interpretation as to whether the Eucharist is truly the body and blood of Christ!  It defies logic to think that there can possibly be SO MANY meanings of the same Scripture!  They can't all be right!  So who is right, then?  The ones who changed the meaning after using that "right of private interpretation," or the one (and notice I say "one" because the Orthodox Church interprets and believes as one cohesive body, not as individuals as in Protestantism) who preserved what was handed down from the Apostles themselves and still now interprets and believes as they did?

        Furthermore, I would say that your criterion for accepting doctrine of "that's not according to Scripture" is rather weak, as so many things can appear to be "according to Scripture" that aren't.  Again, I use the example of the Protestant thinkers.  They all seemingly wrote "according to Scripture," but all wrote something different!  How can they all, then, be correct? 

        You mentioned in another thread that in the Sermon on the Mount, if one takes it literally, one would have to lop off a bunch of body parts.  Obviously, this is an extreme example, but what's to stop some "privately interpreting" Protestant from doing that?  It is, after all, "according to Scripture."  What keeps us from doing it is the interpretation of that passage that has been handed down to us.  Where do you think the cult of Jehovah's Witnesses came from?  Private interpretation run amuck... and while we might say that they are occult and have gone off the deep end, they would not say that.  They came to our door the day after Christmas proclaiming the "truth."  They are now a recognized legitimate religion!  Can you imagine?!  And how did that happen?  The Tradition of the Church was dismissed...

        Quote
        All this, of course, is different from your much more cogent arguments about the claimed additional authority of Tradition handed down from Clement, Ignatius, Justin and so on. In other words, when you (I don't mean only GreekChef) are arguing positively for what you believe, you are much more persuasive and unsettling than poor old Dawkins with his "God Delusion"; but when Orthodox are arguing against what we believe, you often seem to be striving against something which isn't really there, a 'man of straw' I believe is the phrase.[/list]
        I'm not familiar with Dawkins "God Delusion," I have to admit...
        I'm not sure where you are seeing the straw man, as it seems perfectly obvious to me (and I think many others who have participated in this particular discussion) that the thousands of varied Protestant groups and the thousands of different interpretations of Scripture by Protestants is proof in and of itself of the "right of private interpretation" run amuck, and that Sola Scriptura obviously doesn't work and is a heresy.

        You never really did answer my question in the other thread about why Wesley and not someone closer to the source (the example I gave was Ignatius), when it is clear that Wesley did not believe the same thing.  I know you said you are still reading all those pages that ialmisry and I wrote (apologies for the length!), but I think that question is actually more suitable for this discussion, anyway.

        Here's my last couple thoughts for now (for what they're worth)...
        Again in another thread, you mentioned that much of what Protestants do and believe is reactionary.  I would say that this is absolutely, unequivocally the case with Sola Scriptura.  It was invented (and yes, I do mean "invented," as it was clearly not the belief of the Apostles and their disciples) as a reaction to Catholic errors like indulgences which were clearly not biblically based.  But instead of just correcting the issues that existed in the Catholic Church at the time, it went off the deep end, threw out the baby with the bathwater, and ran totally amuck.  It also continued to be reactionary and, in fact, encourages reactionary theology- you said yourself that there is a great deal of picking and choosing based on what the Catholic Church is doing and believing.  This picking and choosing is exactly why we say that each man is his own pope in Protestantism.  It is the using the "right of private interpretation" which results in the "I don't feel it's necessary to do or believe X".  We Orthodox don't have that "luxury" (and I put that in quotations because I think that being one's own pope is not a luxury, but rather a curse).   

        The very existence of Sola Scriptura is also hypocritical, I would say, in that the idea behind it is a rejection of Tradition.  But a rejection of Tradition over the course of generations and as the foundation of faith IS a tradition.  I use a small "t" here because it is not Holy Tradition to us Orthodox and thus it is not to me.  But to those who hold this doctrine, it IS holy tradition!  It impacts and shapes faith, dictates beliefs, etc. as our Holy Tradition does for us!  The problem is, it is NOT the Holy Tradition of the Apostles.  It does not proclaim the same Truth that the Apostles claimed and I would say, in fact, has resulted in terrible falsehoods by which people now live their lives!  This is the worst tragedy to me.  Not that they are outside the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, but that they are living under the delusion that they believe what the Apostles did. 

        I know I write here with a clear line and with what may seem like harsh words.  Please understand that this is a topic about which I am very passionate, and I really don't believe in sugar coating it.  I know that we disagree on the topic of Sola Scriptura, I just pray that you realize that what I say, I do so with love, and not with offense intended.  I am SOOOO glad you resurrected this thread, as it was definitely the logical next discussion after the one on the Eucharist.  I look forward to discussing with you, as, while I may not agree with your stance, I really admire the passion with which you write and I have learned a good deal from you already.  I am fully expecting you to correct any misunderstandings I may have and in fact look forward to it, because, living in the Bible Belt, it is always a good thing to be able to respond to those of different faiths with understanding, that we may find some common ground in our love for Christ.  It is also helpful to me in teaching my Sunday School kids, as I think the same goes for them.  Informed faith is the most important kind, I think...


        Please forgive me for, once again, writing such a long post.  I'm not very good at the one liners.

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        « Reply #38 on: December 31, 2008, 07:41:09 PM »

        Please forgive me for, once again, writing such a long post.  Presbytera Mari

        Not at all - I welcome them! But I still have the 27 A4 pages from you and ialmisry sent on 23rd December about the Eucharist to study properly! I shall get round to studying this latest contribution and to replying eventually - sigá sigá.

        Meanwhile, do have a wonderfully blessed New Year and whole year to follow. I wish we could talk face to face.
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        « Reply #39 on: January 02, 2009, 08:25:11 AM »

        GreekChef,

        Wow! Thanks for the long post, which I have finally got round to reading. (Friday - back to work on Monday, so less writing here, I fear.) I can't remember how to do the quotes, so I'll put your words in blue instead:

        there were a host of other "gospels" written as well that circulated for some time among some of the people (the Gnostic gospels)

        I know very little about them, but I don't think they are relevant, as they were much later than the canonical gospels. Both by their date and by their content they were easily proved to be spurious. I think we need to leave them out of the discussion.

        It almost seems to me as though the argument you are presenting here denies the action of the people in the matter.

        Yes, I suppose it does: but only because the matter concerned when the New Testament writings acquired their divine authority, and I believe that inhered in their very writing, not somewhere else. That is not to say the Church had no rôle in the putting together of the NT, only not in imparting divine authority to it.

        explain to me how and why there are so many various understandings of the same scriptures... thousands of varied Protestants groups

        I shall take the two together, interpretations and denominations.

        First of all, I think the argument is exaggerated - even though one might concede its validity if there were only two Protestant denominations. But let's stick with the actual thousands (if that be correct). I think many exist because they arose in different times and places, and are not actually different interpretations of scripture.

        Secondly, others arose because the original parent denomination drifted from its purity and beliefs and became corrupted, so people sought a return to the original. They were not advocating a new interpretation. I think by over-stating your argument, you weaken its potency. (You = many posts on these fora, not necessarily GreekChef.)

        Thirdly, we might consider the saying of Augustine of Hippo: "in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, love." Of course I grant that this requires a definition of "essential", but leaving that aside for the moment as a different question, it has been written on these threads (and not only by me) that there is indeed unity among Evangelicals on all essential points as we regard them. Basically these are: the authority of scripture; the centrality of the cross; the need for the new birth, or justification by faith; the call to active service. Some would add in practice if not in dogma the assurance of salvation - which we have discussed elsewhere. This is why we work together, pray together, take Communion together, etc. Few would regard the things on which we differ as essential, though they may feel they are important: who are the proper subjects for baptism; church organisation (congregational, presbyterian, episcopal...); and many other questions.

        why Wesley and not someone closer to the source (the example I gave was Ignatius)

        I confess I forget the exact form of your original question, which you refer to. Wesley of course is said to refer often to the early Fathers, and his theology to be nearer to Orthodoxy than that of the continental Reformers. If you were asking me why I myself refer to him, I guess the true answer is that I was brought up in Methodism, and that I have greatly benefited from the life and writings of the Wesley brothers, John and Charles. One looks to a source from which one has previously found blessing. Ignatius and the others are largely unknown among us - which is our loss, and a great folly. I have written on a different thread that you have prompted me to go back and re-read Ignatius and the others. If you were asking why others also refer to Wesley, I suppose it is because he would seem to have been God's instrument in one of the greatest and most sustained tides of the Holy Ghost since Pentecost; though no-one would regard him as infallible of course.

        I have written more, which is probably germane to this discussion, on the closed private forum of Fr Chris; you may wish to refer also to that, though I fear I have been rather more inflammatory there and I also fear - to quote Tolkien whom we both love, I believe - an enforced namarië.
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        « Reply #40 on: January 02, 2009, 09:42:07 AM »

        I very much agree with GreekChef.

        Also, I think that we have examples of how "Sola Scriptura" diverts people from understanding this very "Scriptura." Just this enormously long debate between Calvinists and Arminians is a good one, IMHO. Both sides stand on the premise of the "total human depravity," which the Church never found "Scriptural" at all.
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        « Reply #41 on: January 02, 2009, 10:10:54 AM »

        this enormously long debate between Calvinists and Arminians

        Actually, on a purely personal note (maybe few others in any Church would agree with me) I have two observations on this:

        1) If total depravity includes inheriting Adam's guilt, I entirely agree with you, and reading Orthodox literature for the sake of my work, I found myself saying, "But that's what I believe!"

        2) Now the irony: as I have written elsewhere, an attractive aspect in Orthodoxy is, to me, its room for mystery, or apophasis if you like. There was in the 19th century an Anglican leader, Charles Simeon, of whom I seem to have read that he commented on the diverse teachings of election and freewill and associated doctrines by saying that the truth does not lie somewhere in the middle, but in both extremes. Logically, that is impossible. Protestantism loves logic, clear, clinical philosophical systems with no inherent contradictions. Orthodoxy does not profess to know 'all the answers' and has room for mystery. Much more attractive, and (I think) much more proper. But on this point you are adamant that you have the truth: salvation can be lost, man's free will plays a part in our salvation. It was the fact (it seems to be a fact to me) that the scriptures clearly teach divine election, unconditional election, irresistible grace, eternal security, and yet also and equally clearly teach what the Wesleyans, Arminians, Remonstrants teach, each accusing the other of being quite wrong on this issue; it was that double fact which was the major one that made Orthodoxy, with its room for mystery, appear attractive: and yet on this issue you in fact do come down on one side of the debate and do not leave room for mystery!

        The debate, of course, predates Calvin and Arminius by many centuries, going back through the 9th century Godescalc (Gottschalk) at least as far as Augustine: which makes me think it is something on which we really ought to be more apophatic than many are!


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        « Reply #42 on: January 02, 2009, 02:01:31 PM »


        1) If total depravity includes inheriting Adam's guilt, I entirely agree with you, and reading Orthodox literature for the sake of my work, I found myself saying, "But that's what I believe!"

        The Orthodox believe that we have been corrupted and that we inherit such corruption but we do NOT inherit Adam's guilt.  We are not totally depraved because that would imply that God's creation, which is Good, as God Himself decreed, was somehow not good and totally susceptible to the work of the evil one and would not allow us to achieve theosis.   HOw would we be able to participate with the energies of God if everything were totally depraved?  WHat responsibility would we have?  The answer is none. 

        This notion of total depravity is Augustine's own belief and is not part of the consensus of the FAthers and has been written against numerous times especially by St. John Cassian.   
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        « Reply #43 on: January 02, 2009, 06:29:02 PM »

        Orthodox believe that we have been corrupted and that we inherit such corruption but we do NOT inherit Adam's guilt. 

        Amen. So do I.
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        « Reply #44 on: January 02, 2009, 08:56:00 PM »

        Orthodox believe that we have been corrupted and that we inherit such corruption but we do NOT inherit Adam's guilt. 

        Amen. So do I.

        Then in your theology brother why does Christ come and die and ressurect?
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