Yes; I was referring to my reply to your observation that Protestants don't read the Fathers but they do read "Calvin, Luther, Wesley and the like". I said I wish they did read these men. Then I amended my comment in my later post, to express the wish that they might read Luther, Wesley and the like. I find that people who read Calvin have a tendency to become cold and exclusive.
the Gospels ... were canonised. The other books were labeled "good for reading." In other words, they help us along the way. They are authoritative.
They do - but they're not! "Luther, Wesley and the like" help us along the way, but they are fallible men, not the word of God. Many authors have composed books which tell us...
I think you may have misunderstood something. The writings of the fathers indeed help us along the way. But you would be hard pressed to find any Orthodox who would tell you that they are infallibe. No single father is infallible. No single father is authoritative. I tried to correct this earlier with Ignatius, but I don't think I got the point across very well. Since he has been our example along the way... Ignatius in and of himself is not authoritative or infallible. He is one of many fathers who have written and together have conveyed what the church already believed. It is the CONSENSUS of the fathers that is authoritative-- that is, the conscience of the church, the Holy Spirit working in the church, guiding us through the hand of the fathers-- not any single father, but all of them together. This is why it is okay that they sometimes disagree. None of them was infallible, none was perfect. We accept what they said correctly, and leave whatever they may not have. Being incorrect about one thing doesn't invalidate the other, wonderful things that they said which have guided us in the correct faith. And even then, of course, their authority is second to that of the Scriptures. What they say MUST agree with the Scriptures, or it is not accepted by the church.
It's like checks and balances-- they write to help us understand the Scriptures (Holy Spirit at work inspiring them), therefore they must agree with the Scriptures. Then they have to be accepted by the Church (Holy Spirit at work-- the conscience of the Church). It is all together, in balance. Individually they, and we, are checked and balanced by eachother, by the church, by the Scriptures, ALL with the help of the Holy Spirit. So that none falls away and none takes the wrong path. I think it works pretty well, personally.
what must we know to attain salvation.
But to lose the fathers means we won't understand the Scripture the way it was intended.
This is what you and others on the forum have said before: it is what needs to be established.
This is circular logic. You say that this is what needs to be established. But when we offer all the ways which those who fell away have gone wrong, you ask how we know and we say the continuity of the faith in the Church, the original understanding as was held in the Early Church, and you say that it needs to be established. We're chasing our tails here.
You make it sound as though you picked up a little trivia from them, here and there.
Not trivia. I am far less widely read than I should like to be - doubtless we all are - but from contemporary writers like Alistair McGrath and Tom Wright, back through the centuries as far as Clement of Rome (through Wesley, the Moravians, the mediæval Catholics, Bede, Gregory the Great), I believe I have been taught, instructed, corrected, nourished and edified. Their writings are not trivial: but we hold that the scriptures themselves carry a unique authority. To disagree with the scriptures is not permitted; to believe other writers may err is permitted.
I'm sure you have been taught, instructed, corrected-- the question is whether all of this was in the correct faith. I don't mean that to sound harsh... but isn't this the question we're trying to answer? Whether you, the Protestants, or we, the Orthodox, have been instructed in the correct faith? We have established that we can't both have been.
As to finding nourishment and edification, I'm sure you have. I find MUCH nourishment and edification in C.S. Lewis. But it doesn't make it correct dogma.
So you are correct and we believe the same-- to disagree with the Scriptures is not permitted; to believe other writers may err is permitted. We most certainly believe that the fathers, individually, may have erred here and there. As I said before, it is the continuous witness and the consensus of their witness (and the Church's witness) which we accept and follow.
Do not all the reasons you have given ...actually make you the judge of truth?
I addressed this possibility at some length in my joint reply to your and ignatius's recent posts, so need not repeat myself now.
I think it is this that you are referring to?
We have our revered writers and preachers, and our confessions of faith, but none is regarded as infallible. Nonetheless, they are largely trusted as guides, but always subject to scripture. None has the divine stamp of authority that the scriptures have. In addition, I attend Bible studies where we discuss passages; I listen weekly to sermons (unless I am preaching them myself); I sing good hymns; I read edifying books; I remain steadfastly in membership of a local church; I discuss religious matters informally with Christian friends, not only in the formal setting of a church Bible study, but in e-mails, in the pub, on walks in the mountains. In these and doubtless other ways I am kept within the tradition of faith and practice that has developed over the past 500 years or so of Protestant life – longer than that if you want to go back to the Anabaptists, the Waldensians etc.
Again, I'll just say I think that you are misunderstanding the authority that the fathers have in the Church. Their consensus and the continuous witness they provide, and the continuity handed down through the Church-- this is what is authoritative. And again, it is still not on the level with Scripture. Scripture is always number one. The rest, I think, I responded to elsewhere (no doubt in my usual long-winded fashion).
My personal feeling ... is that the "latter rain," as you call it, was in fact one of the greatest tragedies to befall Christianity.
How can any one read the life, work and devotional writings of a man like Zinzendorf and feel it was a tragedy? I choose Zinzendorf, because with my limited knowledge of church history, he and the people with him seem to me to be beginning of what I have by geographical analogy likened to the Palestinian latter rain. He was entirely taken up with Christ, and devoted his wealth, energy and life to serving him.
I haven't read much Zinzendorf, to be honest. I apologize. I'll have to pull him out (what I have is in an anthology... for more I'll have to go looking).
I still say it was a tragedy. I don't think that you are understanding why, though. For us, the continuity of the faith and the preservation and championship of the faith of the apostles is extremely important. It is sad, to us, to see anyone fall away from the Church and "go it on their own" so to speak. It is sad to see the faith ripped apart into so many factions which believe such strange, new, innovative teachings (which we are clearly warned of in the Scriptures). It is sad to see others led away as a result of the innovators. Yes, the intentions may be good. Yes, some may lead inspired lives of faith despite the innovations and wrong teachings. But others will truly be lost as a result, I feel sure. Because the Reformation, we have ended up with all kinds of truly frightening doctrines all the way down to Jehovah's witnesses and Mormons! This is what is tragic. For the rest of the Christian world, the Apostolic faith has been all but lost. So, despite Zinzendorf's inspired life, great faith and works, his writings (as well as others, obviously) will lead (and have led) others to wrong faith. This is tragic.
I'm sorry we got into that part. I shouldn't have opened my mouth. As I said, the response from me regarding this is very personal (mostly because of my grandparents) and it is difficult for me to explain why, and probably not something I should be publicly declaring my opinion about all over the internet. My apologies.
the disciples of Peter, John, and the like ...I definitely see the Holy Spirit in that!
Amen. But that doesn't make them infallible. We keep talking about Ignatius (the one with the capital I) and I confess I know so little about him, but I have begun re-reading. My own edition of the apostolic Fathers is neither Protestant nor Orthodox, but is a secular edition published because of their historical and literary significance. That is, the book has no axe to grind; it cares nothing for your church or mine, or probably any other. It says we know virtually nothing about Ignatius beyond his martyrdom. You seem to know a good deal more. If my salvation hung on the conviction that his writings contain truth additional to the scriptures which is necessary for salvation, I should be solemnly alarmed. As it is, I shall read more, and probably in other books too.
I think I addressed their "infallibility" above.
DMY: This is one of your strongest points yet, and I offer no answer. The thought troubles me, and has done since long before I discovered OrthodoxyMost religious movements seem to be loyal to the beliefs of their founders for a generation or two at least. Even Wesley's remained solidly loyal from his death in 1791 till, say, the 1860s, and the decay which set in then took some fifty years to become dominant. That is what I was referring to.
GC: And just out of curiosity, how does one rationalize that...?
I'm a little confused now. I understood you to mean that you in fact find it difficult to believe that the Church would fall away from correct belief after only thirty years or so after Christ. Did I understand you correctly? If so, how do you rationalize this belief-- that the Church fell away so soon?
My bishop said , "Satan works through even the best of intentions."
Wise man! But Satan does not make people deeply repentant for their sin, nor drive them to Christ as the only Saviour, the Son of God, the coming Judge of all men, whom we should seek to obey above all other ambitions.
As I said above, I have no doubt there are plenty of people out there like that. But that doesn't make the loss of tradition, the separation of the Church, the rejection of the Apostolic beliefs correct!
If the fathers were sincere and the Protestant writers were sincere, what separates them?
That is too vast a question. Both sets of men wrote prolifically, and if I lived twice as long as Bilbo I could not gain sufficient knowledge of both sets to answer your question worthily.
And yet, it is a question that must be answered, otherwise, frankly, I think your logic for rejecting the fathers (as a movement, not so much you individually) and accepting the Protestant writers fails! I'll tell you what I think separates them-- continuity of the faith, continued witness of the Church, what they wrote (no matter when they wrote, because, again, it is the consensus that is important) has been believed since the Apostles. I'm sorry, but the Protestant writers just can't claim that!
many of the fathers wrote around the same time as the Gospels were actually written down? The Gospel of Mark wasn't written down until around 65 a.d.
Ignatius wrote his epistles on his way to martyrdom in 117 AD. If your date for Mark's Gospel is correct (and I have no reason to date it), that makes more than half a century between them. There is time for theological development during that period, even for additions to the faith once delivered.
Ahhh... flawed logic. This goes back to my question from before. What makes you think that Peter taught Ignatius so incorrectly that he would have LOST the faith, LOST the intended meaning of Christ's words in such a short time? Do you think that in the few decades between when Mark was physically written down and when Ignatius' epistles were physically written down, that he would have CHANGED the faith? How can you prove to me that what he taught throughout his ministry (and eventually wrote down when he saw his life coming to an end) was different from what he wrote down? Or that what he taught and wrote down was different from what Peter taught?
How does one have such little faith to think that those closest to the Apostles and to Christ would have lost what Christ taught in such a short time? This makes me so sad.
You say, "there is time," but offer no proof whatsoever that any development actually happened--except that YOUR reading (and that of Protestants of general) of Christ's words at the Mystical Supper isn't in agreement! Just because it's not so obvious to you, it must be that Ignatius(and the rest of the Church, with whom he was in agreement) must have changed it!? Hogwash (my new favorite word)! We offer solid proof, evidence of what the Church believed, but you (again, not you specifically, Protestants in general) reject it in favor of innovators from centuries later who read it and took what they wanted because their faith was so weak that they couldn't believe God would work that miracle for the faithful when they asked at every Liturgy! I daresay your faith is not that weak!
He was also a disciple of John, don't forget. And John's gospel was not penned until much later than Mark's (I can't remember the actual date-- maybe someone can help me out). John dictated the gospel toward the end of his life, after Revelation, and did so to fill in the gaps that were left in the synoptics (the things that Matthew, Mark, and Luke "forgot"). If Ignatius had been teaching incorrectly all that time, don't you think John would have corrected him? Or don't you think Ignatius would have corrected himself in light of John? Or don't you think the people would have rejected Ignatius if what he taught was indeed incorrect? There are just too many questions for which you offer no proof. But you doubt all the proof that we offer... and on what grounds?
how did the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to teach Mark correctly and Ignatius incorrectly?
The Holy Spirit led Mark to write with inspiration. I dare say Peter taught them both the same, if indeed he did teach them both: I know too little of Ignatius' life story to agree or disagree on that point. Mark didn't explain or interpret our Lord's words when He instituted the 'deipnos mystikos' at the Last Supper. He recorded the words (infallibly) but added no commentary.
Personally, considering that it was, in fact, the faith of the Church that the Eucharist was Christ's body and blood, I would say Mark probably didn't feel he needed to. I imagine he felt it was clear enough... THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD and all...
I think I need more knowledge of the apostolic Fathers, their dates, their early contacts, their links with the apostles, to follow this - and I am reading about it. We talk about Ignatius, Justin, the Didache and Irenæus more than Clement, Polycarp, 'Hermas' or Papias. I know so little at present about any of them: is it because the first four were more influential in the development of Holy Tradition than the last four mentioned?
Not really, no. I wouldn't say that. I just offered who I did because I like them, because they were pertinent to the discussion, because they are clear and not easily misinterpreted. I'm glad to hear you are reading about it. I, too, need to do more reading. Always.
Sorry if this is yet another one of my long-winded posts. I'm really trying... Some things necessitate more explanation than others, and I guess I'm just not good at being succinct. I'll try to respond to your other post today as well. These take me forever to respond to, cause I have to stop and think about them a lot.