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Author Topic: Sola Scriptura - A Diversion From the True Word of God  (Read 23798 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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        « Reply #45 on: January 03, 2009, 05:47:56 AM »

        why does Christ come and die and ressurect?

        Books have been written on these themes. In short, as I am sure you will agree, he came so that he could live a sinless life before he would die and rise again. He died, a spotless Lamb, thus giving his lfie a ransom for many. He rose, conquering death and bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
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        « Reply #46 on: January 03, 2009, 02:04:20 PM »

        why does Christ come and die and ressurect?

        Books have been written on these themes. In short, as I am sure you will agree, he came so that he could live a sinless life before he would die and rise again. He died, a spotless Lamb, thus giving his lfie a ransom for many. He rose, conquering death and bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel.
        No, we would not agree. First of all, we would disagree with your use of the past tense. Not that He came, but that He comes; not that He died, but that He is crucified for us; not that He rose, but that He is risen. We do not, as you do, commemorate past actions of Jesus Christ, but present ones. Hence why Prodromas asked his question in the present tense.

        Secondly, you seem to completely misunderstand the importance of Christ's Incarnation. For Baptists it seems that the whole point of Christmas is Easter, and you skip over the very important point that God became one of us not to be sinless (in which case He would be unlike us) but to be perfected human--by which He grants us the ability to be perfect. His death would have done nothing if He were not like us. Christmas makes Easter important, not the other way around.
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        « Reply #47 on: January 03, 2009, 02:18:59 PM »

        why does Christ come and die and ressurect?

        Books have been written on these themes. In short, as I am sure you will agree, he came so that he could live a sinless life before he would die and rise again. He died, a spotless Lamb, thus giving his lfie a ransom for many. He rose, conquering death and bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

        Who is the ransom paid to??
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        « Reply #48 on: January 03, 2009, 04:28:49 PM »

        Christmas makes Easter important, not the other way around.

         It does seem that a number (and growing) of mainly Protestants seem to gloss over Christ's Incarnation in the flesh and, by extension, his Theophany, his Transfiguration, etc.  I think that this is mainly due to the Protestants' lack of understanding that even Christ's assumption of human flesh was done for us and for our salvation whereas Protestants will only point to Easter and everything else in Christ's life and ministry was "filler."
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        « Reply #49 on: January 03, 2009, 04:30:13 PM »

        [In short, as I am sure you will agree, he came so that he could live a sinless life before he would die and rise again. He died, a spotless Lamb, thus giving his lfie a ransom for many. He rose, conquering death and bringing life and immortality to light through the Gospel.

        All these things were done so that we could participate in these gracious acts, not for us to be mere passive recipients.
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        « Reply #50 on: January 03, 2009, 07:08:56 PM »

        Who is the ransom paid to??

        A question debated early in the Middle Ages. I think it is stretching the metaphor too far. It is a way of helping us understand that at Calvary he redeemed us, a picture, an analogy if you like: but not every detail in the biblical pictures, parables, metaphors and other helps can be given a specific meaning. Some mediæval theologians said the ransom was paid to the Devil, who had gained rights over man because of man's fall and sin; others said it was paid to God. The point of the ransom motif is that the price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ. We believe that with sacred awe and ask no further explanation.

        There are so many other biblical pictures to help us in this: healing the sick in soul; taking our punishment in our stead; paying our debt; washing us from the dirt of sin and guilt. None gives the complete picture as seen from God's viewpoint: it is a mystery. Tolkien and Lewis's idea that it was a myth, but a true one, has also been helpful.

        Suffice it to know and trust, not that we understand exactly how it worked, but that in dying and rising he procured our salvation.
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        « Reply #51 on: January 04, 2009, 05:41:39 AM »

        Who is the ransom paid to??

        Sorry to reply twice to the same question.

        I believe Thomas Hopko deals with this question fairly thoroughly in his doctrinal writings - that is, the doctrine volume of his set on Orthodoxy. I cannot be sure, as I have the book at my office, not here at home, so I can't look it up right now, and I am not sure now whether I have only the Albanian version or in addition the English original. But I suggest you look there for a revered Orthodox answer to this very question.
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        « Reply #52 on: January 04, 2009, 05:52:50 AM »

        we would disagree with your use of the past tense. Not that He came, but that He comes; not that He died, but that He is crucified for us; not that He rose, but that He is risen. We do not, as you do, commemorate past actions of Jesus Christ, but present ones. Hence why Prodromas asked his question in the present tense.

        OK, I may have misunderstood the question then. I thought his use of the present tense was because he was referring to our present theology, I did not realise he was referring to Christ's actions. So to attempt a reply to you both together:

        1) He came (past tense) as an infant born of a Virgin, grew to manhood, and eventually died in the past. That event is not to be repeated, and it is correct to refer to it in the past tense. He does of course come to his people now, but in the person of the Spirit whom he sends to us and who proceeds from the Father.

        2) Similarly his death was a once-for-all unrepeated and unrepeatable historic event. The benefits of it are applied to his people today by the Spirit, through grace, but the death occurred only once, in the past, around 30 AD.

        3) Thirdly, and similarly, the resurrection was a once-for-all historical, bodily event which will never be repeated. In his glorified resurrection body (to which ours will be like) he is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

        4) The phrase "he is risen" of course correctly and wondrously describes his present state, though (and I will not contend for a word) we tend to use the phrase "he lives" and "he is alive" and this for ever; he makes intercession for us among his many other heavenly offices.

        Quote
        Secondly, you seem to completely misunderstand the importance of Christ's Incarnation. For Baptists it seems that the whole point of Christmas is Easter
        I hope we get somewhat nearer than "completely misunderstanding"! However, I concede that you Orthodox meditate more deeply and at greater length on the mystery of the Incarnation itself. I am aware of such motifs as what is not assumed cannot be healed and the union of humanity and deity. But then I have said all along that I have joined the forum in order to learn. It also also why one of the first of the Fathers whom I appreciated was Athanasius "De Incarnatione Verbi Dei" (in English, I confess).
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        « Reply #53 on: January 04, 2009, 04:15:38 PM »

        4) The phrase "he is risen" of course correctly and wondrously describes his present state, though (and I will not contend for a word) we tend to use the phrase "he lives" and "he is alive" and this for ever; he makes intercession for us among his many other heavenly offices.

        Actually, grammatically speaking, the phrase "He is risen" is actually in the past perfect tense, which is a throwback to the old Germanic roots of English.
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        « Reply #54 on: January 04, 2009, 04:25:47 PM »

        Who is the ransom paid to??

        A question debated early in the Middle Ages. I think it is stretching the metaphor too far. It is a way of helping us understand that at Calvary he redeemed us, a picture, an analogy if you like: but not every detail in the biblical pictures, parables, metaphors and other helps can be given a specific meaning. Some mediæval theologians said the ransom was paid to the Devil, who had gained rights over man because of man's fall and sin; others said it was paid to God. The point of the ransom motif is that the price of our redemption was the precious blood of Christ. We believe that with sacred awe and ask no further explanation.

        There are so many other biblical pictures to help us in this: healing the sick in soul; taking our punishment in our stead; paying our debt; washing us from the dirt of sin and guilt. None gives the complete picture as seen from God's viewpoint: it is a mystery. Tolkien and Lewis's idea that it was a myth, but a true one, has also been helpful.

        Suffice it to know and trust, not that we understand exactly how it worked, but that in dying and rising he procured our salvation.

        Well, it's not so much that there will be an Orthodox answer. The reason why I ask is because I object to the terminology. Considering it a ransom lends credence to the view of a juridicial view of the Cross, which is very scary, at least in my eyes.
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        « Reply #55 on: January 04, 2009, 06:03:33 PM »

        Considering it a ransom lends credence to the view of a juridicial view of the Cross, which is very scary,

        Why is it scary? I agree that it is not the whole picture, and it seems foolish to me when a man so insists on the penal substitution view as to invalidate all other ways of looking at it. But nonetheless, it is one of the Bible's ways of helping us to understand. Colossians 2 immediately comes to mind where we read of God in Christ "cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands... nailing it to the Cross." Of course it is (in C S Lewis's memorable phrase) "deeper magic from before the dawn of time", but surely anything that helps a person understand that Christ died for him, to save him from the effects of his sin, is wholesome.

        Many years ago when I was a teenager I could never understand how the death of Christ, some 2000 years ago, could affect me today. What God used to open my eyes was these words from a hymn which clearly use the penal substitution motif:

        I long to know and to make known
        The heights and depths of love divine,
        The kindness Thou to me hast shown,
        Whose every sin was counted Thine:
        My God for me resigned His breath;
        He died to save my soul from death.


        There are a number of other ways of looking at it, and none (I feel sure) gives the whole picture. For me, on the first day I believed and "saw" how His death was the means of my forgiveness, this was the idea which God chose to use. It was many years ago; I hope I have been vouchsafed some further and more varied insight into the  atonement since then.

        But surely we ought not to let go of an idea, simply because it is not the whole picture? Especially when the whole picture is a divine mystery into which angels long to look and fail. If the legal motif helps, as it clearly has done with so many over the centuries in the West, let us give thanks - and give equal thanks for those whose eyes are opened by some other picture or aspect or view of Easter.
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        « Reply #56 on: January 04, 2009, 11:19:54 PM »

        4) The phrase "he is risen" of course correctly and wondrously describes his present state, though (and I will not contend for a word) we tend to use the phrase "he lives" and "he is alive" and this for ever; he makes intercession for us among his many other heavenly offices.

        Actually, grammatically speaking, the phrase "He is risen" is actually in the past perfect tense, which is a throwback to the old Germanic roots of English.

        Exactly. The past perfect tense denotes an action that began in the past and continues to the present. It is the perfect way so speak of the Resurrection.

        we would disagree with your use of the past tense. Not that He came, but that He comes; not that He died, but that He is crucified for us; not that He rose, but that He is risen. We do not, as you do, commemorate past actions of Jesus Christ, but present ones. Hence why Prodromas asked his question in the present tense.

        OK, I may have misunderstood the question then. I thought his use of the present tense was because he was referring to our present theology, I did not realise he was referring to Christ's actions. So to attempt a reply to you both together:

        1) He came (past tense) as an infant born of a Virgin, grew to manhood, and eventually died in the past. That event is not to be repeated, and it is correct to refer to it in the past tense. He does of course come to his people now, but in the person of the Spirit whom he sends to us and who proceeds from the Father.

        2) Similarly his death was a once-for-all unrepeated and unrepeatable historic event. The benefits of it are applied to his people today by the Spirit, through grace, but the death occurred only once, in the past, around 30 AD.

        3) Thirdly, and similarly, the resurrection was a once-for-all historical, bodily event which will never be repeated. In his glorified resurrection body (to which ours will be like) he is now at the right hand of the Father in heaven.

        4) The phrase "he is risen" of course correctly and wondrously describes his present state, though (and I will not contend for a word) we tend to use the phrase "he lives" and "he is alive" and this for ever; he makes intercession for us among his many other heavenly offices.
        We would agree with you that Christ's Death is unrepeated and unrepeatable, but not the Incarnation. Christ is Incarnate in every human. He lives on in every one of us, and so He is always coming, as He is always with us (the literal meaning of "Immanuel"). As for the Resurrection, because Christ is risen, so too will all of humanity. The Resurrection was not once and for all, but Christ has defeated death, and so too will we rise.

        We would also agree about Christ's glorified body, as we saw in the Transfiguration and when Christ appeared to the Apostles after His Resurrection. We would further agree that Christ intercedes for us in heaven, as long as you do not deny that Christ is still with us. It has been my experience that Protestants view heaven as a place separate from Earth, and so to say that Christ is in heaven necessitates that He is not on Earth. This we would vehemently deny. We, however, view heaven and Earth as one and the same, that we create heaven on Earth through our worship of the Trinity, and therefore Christ is in heaven and is still with us. He has never left us, and He never will.

        Quote
        Secondly, you seem to completely misunderstand the importance of Christ's Incarnation. For Baptists it seems that the whole point of Christmas is Easter
        I hope we get somewhat nearer than "completely misunderstanding"! However, I concede that you Orthodox meditate more deeply and at greater length on the mystery of the Incarnation itself. I am aware of such motifs as what is not assumed cannot be healed and the union of humanity and deity. But then I have said all along that I have joined the forum in order to learn. It also also why one of the first of the Fathers whom I appreciated was Athanasius "De Incarnatione Verbi Dei" (in English, I confess).
        [/quote]
        Good. Yes, I never really understood the Incarnation when I was a Protestant either. It's much more important than I ever believed.
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        « Reply #57 on: January 05, 2009, 01:17:32 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:
        My new year's resolution: shorter posts.  Smiley

        Quote
        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.

        You are correct that they were later.  I only brought them up because I was pointing out that they didn't just disappear into thin air in a puff of smoke... It was the Church who was present to prove their spurious nature and to champion the correct faith.  Other than that point, you are correct, they are tangential to this conversation.

        Quote
        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.

        Again, I wasn't talking about when, I was talking about how. 
        This really diminishes the role that the Church played.  You cannot deny that the Holy Spirit acted through the people (the Church) to preserve and defend the Scriptures (or maybe you can, but it'll take nothing short of a miracle to convince me).  That's how they were written (by the people), that's who they were written to (the people-- specific people and specific communities), and that's how they were transmitted (through the people).  They were defended by the people.  They were canonized formally later by the people.  How can one deny that the Holy Spirit acted through the people?  So, even if they have "divine authority" as you say (I think this would be overstating the position of the Bible in our theology--- they are primary among the Holy Traditions but must be properly viewed in balance and with understanding), that is really not the point.  The point is that it was the people who received them, interpreted them, transmitted them, preserved them, defended them, and LIVE them.  So my questions still stand... Why remove the people from the equation?  What logic is there behind throwing out the baby with the bathwater?  How does one rationalize accepting beliefs that have been proved to be contrary to the faith that the Apostles taught (especially in the case of the Eucharist)?

        Quote
        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.
        I would disagree... it's not exaggerated.  There are literally thousands of denominations here in the US, and just as many "understandings" of the Scriptures. 

        But for the sake of discussion, let's say that that's the case- they arose in different times and places and are not actually different interpretations (though I really disagree with the last part of that).  Why is any interpretation other than that which was given by Christ and the Apostles acceptable?  Wouldn't you agree that one of the ways the gates of hell will attempt to prevail against the Church is by leading us astray in wrong interpretations and understandings of the Gospel?  There is obviously more than one interpretation (otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion).  And we can't both be right.  I'm gonna say I am happy where I know that the Church has defended the original meaning and not allowed it to be changed.  This was the cause of all the breaking away that happened resulting in denominations.  The Church refused to accept erroneous teachings, so those in error said, "well, we think we're right, so we'll go our own way."   

        Quote
        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.)
        So you agree that they drifted away?  But from whom?  You are saying they drifted away from each other.  But where did they all come from to begin with?  The Orthodox Church.  They drifted away.

        As far as advocating a new interpretation, I think it's pretty clear that new ones were indeed advocated.  To use the example of the discussion which spurred this one... it is very clear that the early Church held the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.  This we proved by giving the examples of several (not just one) saints who penned what was already believed by the Church.  And yet, hundreds of years later (that part you said yourself), people broke away in favor of a new interpretation of Christ's words--- a symbolic Eucharist.  And this is only one of many changes that cropped up.  So maybe I'm missing something here, but please explain to me how the obvious change in beliefs is not "advocating a new interpretation."

        Also, please explain a little more how I've overstated my argument.  I'm not really sure I understand what you mean.  You may be right and I just am not getting it.

        Quote
        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.
        Those are the things which are essential to you. On that we can agree.  Yet, those essentials were decided by a group of people who, way after the fact (being Christ's ministry on earth) came along and said, "oh, the things that have been essential since the day of Pentecost are not, in fact essential.  Here's what we think is essential: '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.'"  We learn (and I use the present tense here because, by God's grace, their teachings and writings have been preserved for us through the Church) from those who sat at the feet of the Master, and their disciples, and their disciples... so to have that group of people say "here's what we think is essential" is hardly a yardstick for what we think is essential-- that is, what has been essential since the days of Christ Himself.  Don't forget that there have been groups of people deciding "what's essential" in opposition to the Church since the days of Christ.  But, the Church defended Her faith, and still defends.  If the Church didn't defend against the heresies of Arius, Nestorius, Marcian, and the like, you and I wouldn't be having this discussion, because the Christianity that we hold, the Christianity that Wesley held, the Christianity that you hold would not exist were it not for the Church's defense of Herself. 

        It's hard for me to even pick out things here and there that are essential, as you have done.  We don't define our faith that way-- by one or two things.  We view it all in balance.  I might say the Resurrection of Christ, but I would be equally required to say His Incarnation.  I might say the Eucharist, but would be just as obligated to say Baptism.  And the list goes on.  What I will say is this: the most essential thing is THEOSIS. 

        Quote
        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.
        This is still illogical to me.  If Wesley referred to the early Fathers, why not just read the Fathers?  We would call that bad scholarship.  One should always go to the primary source.  When writing a paper in academia, the primary source is ALWAYS the place to go, is it not?  That is, unless one is looking to differ from the primary source.
        I think it's great that you have found blessings from Wesley.  Thank God for it!  But, if you will forgive me, I still have a hard time with that.  I may find benefit in the pages of many books, but that hardly means that I should glean my theology from them.  Benefit does not equal truth.
        And as far as the greatest tides of the Holy Ghost since Pentecost, please don't take it offensively, but we will definitely have to agree to disagree on this one.  I ask for your forgiveness for my strong reaction to this, but it is a very personal and deep reaction that I would rather not put to page, so to speak.

        Quote
        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.
        Please don't fear of inflaming me (if it is me at whom you are directing that statement).  As I have said, I really enjoy these discussions.  They motivate and inspire me in my faith.

        May I ask a favor?  I appreciate your humoring me and reading my really long posts (did I do better with this one??).  May I ask that, if you get a minute, you go back and read the post for which I was given post of the month?  I know you have responded to some of it, but when I went back and read it a while ago, I felt like there were things that were not discussed from it, nuances lost that I was trying to get across (and maybe that's my fault), etc.  I know we inundated you with material to read, and for that I apologize again.  Would you mind looking to see if there are some things to which you didn't respond?  If you don't want to, that's okay too, I'll understand.
        It is found here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19074.msg281852.html#new
        You can't post in response there, but maybe on the original thread, or maybe quoting and responding here?  Wherever you think is appropriate.  I am grateful, as I am still (in earnest) trying to understand some of what you are saying.  I think maybe either I didn't pose the questions correctly, or they were lost in the sea of stuff you were reading from us. 

        I ask your forgiveness if I have offended you.  I have tried to gently speak the truth in love (as the Apostle tells us to do).  It is never my intent to offend you, as I greatly value your contribution both to the forum in general and to our particular discussion. 

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        « Reply #58 on: January 05, 2009, 09:30:11 AM »

        From GreekChef: on the closed private forum of Fr Chris... 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... if it is me at whom you are directing that statement

        No, not to you. I came across a red notice on one thread announcing that the person who had posted had been "muted" for a specified period. It brought John the Baptist's father to mind and sounded rather alarming. What I feared was that my reference on the closed forum to events in Kosova in 1998-9 might have given offence to members of Serbian Orthodox background.

        In re your very long and equally welcome post of today, and the reference back to the post of the month, I shall indeed study them, but I must crave your patience, as tomorrow is Twelfth Night, Christmas and New Year will be over, and my employers already today seek my time once more.
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        « Reply #59 on: January 05, 2009, 06:19:46 PM »

        1) Christ is Incarnate in every human. He lives on in every one of us,

        2) It has been my experience that Protestants view heaven as a place separate from Earth, and so to say that Christ is in heaven necessitates that He is not on Earth.

        1) Now you are sounding more like a Quaker! No - Christ indwells (by the Holy Spirit) those who have been born again, who are alive in him, united to him. He does not indwell unbelievers.

        2) Teaching on heaven has been very muddled, you are quite right. They need to read Bishop Tom Wright (whom I have seen praised in this forum). But nonetheless, Christ is indeed in heaven, not on earth, at present, in his resurrected body. With all reverence, his dimensions are as ours, for he is a glorified Man as well as fully God; it is the Holy Spirit who indwells men, women and children who believe, not the risen second Person of the Trinity.
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        « Reply #60 on: January 05, 2009, 09:22:30 PM »

        1) Christ is Incarnate in every human. He lives on in every one of us,

        2) It has been my experience that Protestants view heaven as a place separate from Earth, and so to say that Christ is in heaven necessitates that He is not on Earth.

        1) Now you are sounding more like a Quaker! No - Christ indwells (by the Holy Spirit) those who have been born again, who are alive in him, united to him. He does not indwell unbelievers.
        Really? Those who do not believe are not made in the image of God until they do?

        2) Teaching on heaven has been very muddled, you are quite right. They need to read Bishop Tom Wright (whom I have seen praised in this forum). But nonetheless, Christ is indeed in heaven, not on earth, at present, in his resurrected body. With all reverence, his dimensions are as ours, for he is a glorified Man as well as fully God; it is the Holy Spirit who indwells men, women and children who believe, not the risen second Person of the Trinity.
        So what you are saying is that God is not omnipresent, that He is limited in space and time. Heresy, even blasphemy, I say! If this is the God you worship, then you are not even Christian.
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        « Reply #61 on: January 06, 2009, 06:56:48 AM »

        Those who do not believe are not made in the image of God until they do?

        you are saying is that God is not omnipresent, that He is limited in space and time.

        Of course all men bear the image of God, marred though it is by the Fall. This is why the death penalty is required for murder: not merely as an act of human justice, but because one who murders destroys the image of God, and his blood is required for that offence against God. But to bear his marred image is not the same as to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

        No - I am saying that the Second Person of the Trinity, the God-Man Jesus Christ, having taken humanity upon himself, in his glorified body is at present in heaven, not on earth. He will come again in glory, we know not when. That is not the same as saying the Trinity is not omnipresent, for we know he is.
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        « Reply #62 on: January 06, 2009, 07:06:50 AM »

        An attempted Reply to GreekChef's second recent long post (the first (post-of-the-month) must wait a while)

        Not being very clever with computers, I shall not use the boxed quotes, but shall put your words in blue.

        You cannot deny that the Holy Spirit acted through the people (the Church) to preserve the Scriptures... they were written (by the people), written to... transmitted... defended...canonized. How can you deny that the Holy Spirit acted through the people?

        I don't deny it! I agree with all you say here. But I believe the people recognised the divine inspiration of the Gospels, Acts, epistles and Revelation. All the other ways through which God used the people down to and including the final canonisation was not imparting but recognising their character and authority.

        How does one rationalize beliefs that have been proved to be contrary to the faith that the Apostles taught?

        God forbid! But the scriptures themselves, as well as history, show us that religious bodies, even God's people, do go wrong; the Old Testament is full of it. And they get brought back. At least our aim is to be in full consistency with the apostles' teaching. What we are yet examining (I mean, what you are pressing me to examine) is whether the later writings, that were not canonised, taught only what the apostles had taught previously. We are not persuaded that a practice (to take one example) like infant baptism was ever taught or enacted by the apostles or anyone in their day. If my church history serves me aright, this did not come to prominence till the much later time of Cyprian.

        different interpretations

        In addition to the ideas I shared in a previous post as to why there have arisen different denominations and beliefs, I wished to add the fact of erroneous translations. Jerome's Vulgate had "do penance" instead of "repent", and this was even carried on into Wycliffe's English version. Augustine's Old Latin (as I wrote previously) had "in quo omnes peccaverunt" which helped give rise to the idea that we inherit Adam's guilt. Dare I mention the new ecumenical Albanian NT, produced with Orthodox cooperation, which has not "work out your salvation" but "work for your salvation"? Oh dear!

        the gates of hell
        This is frequently quoted. What are gates for? The keep prisoners in, and attackers out! The gates of hell have not been able to keep in those who have believed the Gospel and escaped from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light; they have not prevented the Church from invading Satan's 'territory' and releasing his captives.

        they drifted away. But from whom?
        The people we referred to earlier drifted away from their parent body, so a new body was formed, returning to the original standards, or at least attempting to. There are many examples of denominations with the same beliefs which have arisen like this in different centuries. I suppose an obvious example (in view of my current reading) would be the Primitive Methodists in the 19th century, who restored the original vigorous open-air evangelism practised by the early Methodists in the 18th century. The old Methodists has settled into respectability and got rid of the new enthusiasts. But there was no new doctrine.

        please explain a little more how I have overstated my argument

        What I had in mind was that yourgoodself and many other posters refer to the many Protestant denominations as if they differed on essential doctrine (see below!), rather than had arisen in different cultures, countries, and times in many cases. In fact there is unity in central doctrines, there is more cohesion that your words imply.

        we can't both be right

        True enough! But we can differ on things which are not salvific, that is (I mean) in matters on which a person's salvation does not hang, and still be brother and sister in Christ, in his family / kingdom.

        "oh, the things that have been essential since the day of Pentecost are not, in fact, essential: scripture, cross, new birth, service, assurance

        No doubt due to my clumsy wording, you misunderstood me here. I was not saying that these things are the essential doctrines; rather, I was saying that these things are the ones which are usually considered to be distinctive of Evangelicalism. Many other credal dogmas are of course essential to any Christianity - you mention (I believe) Christ's resurrection, the  Trinity, Christ's deity. Of course these are essential, but they are not distinguishing marks of Catholicism, Orthodoxy or Evangelicalism. They are essentially Christian.

        Why not just read the Fathers? We would call that bad scholarship

        But do you not read Lossky, Bulgakov, Ware, Hopko, Meyendorff? Whom I too read, by the way. Should I abandon them as well as Wesley, and read only the Fathers? Has nothing profitable been written since the Fathers wrote? Of course you too believe it has!

        Finally, what was mentioned in an earlier exchange and not developed was this idea: that the Lord's promise to ensure that his church would be led into all truth was, presumably, fulfilled at some point in history - unless one believes that God has yet more revelation to give to the sons of men. I do not mean new definitions of doctrine to counter more clearly and appropriately new heresies, but genuine new revelation of matters which are now entirely hidden but shall yet be revealed before the eschaton. Now - if the fulfilment of the promise reached completion at some point in the past, we are in a sense discussing when that point was reached. Evangelicals say it was with the end of the writing of the Scriptures; Orthodox (if I understand aright) would put it later, in the time of the Fathers, the development of the liturgy. If we are right, then you have the truth + a lot more material which may or may not be true; if you are right, we have a lot of the truth, but we lack a lot also. An important though different question is: is the truth which we hold in common sufficient to lead us to salvation, despite your erroneous additional doctrines or despite our lack of the fulness of truth? I believe it is. But there is a thread on this, and I should leave it there.



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        « Reply #63 on: January 06, 2009, 08:14:14 AM »

        Quote from: David Young
        God forbid! But the scriptures themselves, as well as history, show us that religious bodies, even God's people, do go wrong; the Old Testament is full of it. And they get brought back. At least our aim is to be in full consistency with the apostles' teaching. What we are yet examining (I mean, what you are pressing me to examine) is whether the later writings, that were not canonised, taught only what the apostles had taught previously. We are not persuaded that a practice (to take one example) like infant baptism was ever taught or enacted by the apostles or anyone in their day. If my church history serves me aright, this did not come to prominence till the much later time of Cyprian.

        Although I don't have the correct resource brother, I assure you infant baptism was done by the apostles. As for following the teachings of the scriptures may I show you this verse:

        James 5:14 (King James Version)

        Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.

        Do you bless the sick with oil? I assure you we do. From when I was a baby my mother would use it for a plethora of things (e.g ear ache)

        Quote from: David Young
        In addition to the ideas I shared in a previous post as to why there have arisen different denominations and beliefs, I wished to add the fact of erroneous translations. Jerome's Vulgate had "do penance" instead of "repent", and this was even carried on into Wycliffe's English version. Augustine's Old Latin (as I wrote previously) had "in quo omnes peccaverunt" which helped give rise to the idea that we inherit Adam's guilt. Dare I mention the new ecumenical Albanian NT, produced with Orthodox cooperation, which has not "work out your salvation" but "work for your salvation"? Oh dear!
        Lord have mercy that pastors interpret this correctly to their flock regardless of denomination.

        Quote from: David Young
        This is frequently quoted. What are gates for? The keep prisoners in, and attackers out! The gates of hell have not been able to keep in those who have believed the Gospel and escaped from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light; they have not prevented the Church from invading Satan's 'territory' and releasing his captives.

        The gates, brother, are there for people to lock themselves.

        Quote from: David Young
        What I had in mind was that yourgoodself and many other posters refer to the many Protestant denominations as if they differed on essential doctrine (see below!), rather than had arisen in different cultures, countries, and times in many cases. In fact there is unity in central doctrines, there is more cohesion that your words imply.

        Why do they not unite then? Why do they not follow the words of the Lord when he prayed that we may be one.
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        « Reply #64 on: January 06, 2009, 10:06:01 AM »

        Those who do not believe are not made in the image of God until they do?

        you are saying is that God is not omnipresent, that He is limited in space and time.

        Of course all men bear the image of God, marred though it is by the Fall.... But to bear his marred image is not the same as to be indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
        If we bear the image of God, then we are icons of God, for the Greek word "ikon" literally means "image." The Holy Spirit is within us from the moment of our existence; He does not come upon us later due to some cognitive decision of ours. We may choose to walk in His ways, certainly; but He is already within us.

        No - I am saying that the Second Person of the Trinity, the God-Man Jesus Christ, having taken humanity upon himself, in his glorified body is at present in heaven, not on earth. He will come again in glory, we know not when. That is not the same as saying the Trinity is not omnipresent, for we know he is.
        Christ Himself said that heaven is within humanity: "Do not be swayed by those who say of the Kingdom of God, 'Here it is' or 'There it is": for the Kingdom of God is within you." So heaven is not a remote destination. Christ has never left us, even upon ascending into heaven, because heaven is humanity perfected.
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        « Reply #65 on: January 06, 2009, 10:22:45 AM »


        1) James 5:14 (King James Version)

        Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.
        Do you bless the sick with oil?

        2) Why do they not unite then? Why do they not follow the words of the Lord when he prayed that we may be one.

        1) Yes, we do. It tends to be used only rarely, in cases of real urgency or extremity. I used to keep a small bottle of oil at the chapel when I was pastor at Hadlow for this very contingency, but the phrase "let him call for the elders of the church" suggests the patient may well be too ill to get out to a meeting.

        2) Sometimes out of sinful pride and human stubbornness. Sometimes for better motives: for example, once a congregation has been established and had bonded with its leaders and with each other, they will probably remain as a separate local church, even if they develop restored and better relations with the earlier body.
        « Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 10:23:32 AM by David Young » Logged

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        « Reply #66 on: January 06, 2009, 10:35:43 AM »


        1) we are icons of God, ... The Holy Spirit is within us from the moment of our existence; He does not come upon us later

        2) Christ Himself said that heaven is within humanity: "Do not be swayed by those who say of the Kingdom of God, 'Here it is' or 'There it is": for the Kingdom of God is within you." So heaven is not a remote destination. Christ has never left us, even upon ascending into heaven, because heaven is humanity perfected.

        1) If that is Orthodox teaching, then we have unearthed another difference between Evangelical and Orthodox theology, for I have never heard such an idea, either from Arminians or from Calvinists. I have only read of the Quaker belief in the "inner light" in every man. No Evangelical I know of believes that a person is indwelt by the Spirit before he is born again by the Spirit. But of course man was made in the image of God and still carries that image, sadly now marred by the Fall.

        2) I think we might be striving over words here, for I entirely agree with you; indeed, I suspect heaven is a good deal less remote than we suspect in our dimness of sight, and we know that when He comes, heaven and earth will be united for ever. The body of which he said things like, "Put your finger here and see my hands, put out your hand and place it in my side" is in that nearer-than-seen heaven, but it is not ubiquitous, though his Spirit is. It is in that body that we shall see him, and ours shall be like it when we see him as he is. And it is by that Spirit that the kingdom is now within us, if we are his.
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        « Reply #67 on: January 06, 2009, 11:16:39 AM »

        The Holy Spirit is within us from the moment of our existence; He does not come upon us later

        I confess I find myself quite confused and befuddled here. This is an idea which I have genuinely never come across in all my six decades in this confused and fallen world - unless I have succumbed to some sort of theological amnesia! So perhaps I need further explanation.

        If a person is indwelt by the Spirit of God from birth:

        a) what difference does becoming a Christian make?
        b) what difference, even in your own theology, does baptism make?
        c) what did Jesus mean when he said "ye must be born again"?

        These are not silly questions posed in some sort of smug rhetoric; if you believe as you say, I cannot see how it follows that any of these further things are necessary. But I should like to understand you.

        In re your first question (which I omitted unintentionally to respond to in my earlier post) whether we believe that unbelievers are not made in the image of God: no, of course, we don't. Being in the image of God is an integral and inseparable part of being human.
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        « Reply #68 on: January 06, 2009, 12:30:47 PM »

        I don't deny it! I agree with all you say here. But I believe the people recognised the divine inspiration of the Gospels, Acts, epistles and Revelation. All the other ways through which God used the people down to and including the final canonisation was not imparting but recognising their character and authority.
        Okay... but would you agree that along with that "recognition" comes transmission and interpretation?  I guess the point I'm trying to get at is that when the Gospels were handed down by the people, so, too, was the understanding of them.  The people handed down both, and while the transmission was accepted, the interpretation by those same people was rejected.  This seems hypocritical.  To say that the interpretation of the people who handed down the Gospels is erroneous is to doubt the very trustworthiness of the Gospels themselves.  For how could they transmit the words correctly, but not the meaning?


        Quote
        God forbid! But the scriptures themselves, as well as history, show us that religious bodies, even God's people, do go wrong; the Old Testament is full of it. And they get brought back. At least our aim is to be in full consistency with the apostles' teaching. What we are yet examining (I mean, what you are pressing me to examine) is whether the later writings, that were not canonised, taught only what the apostles had taught previously. We are not persuaded that a practice (to take one example) like infant baptism was ever taught or enacted by the apostles or anyone in their day. If my church history serves me aright, this did not come to prominence till the much later time of Cyprian.

        You say God forbid, but have not commented on the clear fact that what Protestants believe (especially with respect to the Eucharist) is contrary to what the belief of the early church was-- unless you are not yet convinced that this was, in fact the belief, despite the writings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Justin Martyr, to name a few.  It is also clear that the early church did NOT hold Sola Scriptura, as the writings of the fathers named above and others refer to each other regularly, and even the NT itself refers to the traditions (written and oral) handed down from them.  This, again, is another deviation from the early Church.  So my questions yet still stand:
        Quote
        Why remove the people from the equation?  What logic is there behind throwing out the baby with the bathwater?  How does one rationalize accepting beliefs that have been proved to be contrary to the faith that the Apostles taught (especially in the case of the Eucharist)?

        As far as infant baptism is concerned, there is most certainly biblical basis for it.  I'll just refer you to the following thread, which was started by Cleopas, but unfortunately, the discussion never continued after posters responded to what he said.  Feel free to chime in!!!  But the evidence is there:
        http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14769.0.html



        Quote
        In addition to the ideas I shared in a previous post as to why there have arisen different denominations and beliefs, I wished to add the fact of erroneous translations. Jerome's Vulgate had "do penance" instead of "repent", and this was even carried on into Wycliffe's English version. Augustine's Old Latin (as I wrote previously) had "in quo omnes peccaverunt" which helped give rise to the idea that we inherit Adam's guilt. Dare I mention the new ecumenical Albanian NT, produced with Orthodox cooperation, which has not "work out your salvation" but "work for your salvation"? Oh dear!
        And yet, for all the erroneous translations and interpretations, the Church has responded by correcting the error.  Despite that, the groups still broke away in favor of their own, new interpretation.

        That is tragic about the Albanian translation, and we must pray that it is corrected, if not in print, by the priests.  Yet, I think it pales in comparison to Calvin's (IMHO, frightening) interpretations that led to the ideas of pre-destination, perseverance of the saints (once saved, always saved), and the loss of free will in sin!  Those were not just a result of erroneous translations, and the Church stood firm against them.  And yet... here we all are.  That is the type of thing I'm asking you to comment on.

        Quote
        This is frequently quoted. What are gates for? The keep prisoners in, and attackers out! The gates of hell have not been able to keep in those who have believed the Gospel and escaped from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light; they have not prevented the Church from invading Satan's 'territory' and releasing his captives.
        I was using the quote to make a point.  The rest is tangential, so I'll leave it aside.  We can start another thread, though, if you like! Smiley


        Quote
        The people we referred to earlier drifted away from their parent body, so a new body was formed, returning to the original standards, or at least attempting to. There are many examples of denominations with the same beliefs which have arisen like this in different centuries. I suppose an obvious example (in view of my current reading) would be the Primitive Methodists in the 19th century, who restored the original vigorous open-air evangelism practised by the early Methodists in the 18th century. The old Methodists has settled into respectability and got rid of the new enthusiasts. But there was no new doctrine.
        I understood what you meant.  My point was that the parent bodies themselves also drifted away.  Trace the lines and they drifted away from the Orthodox (via the Catholics).  They drifted away from the Orthodox in favor of new interpretations.

        Quote
        What I had in mind was that yourgoodself and many other posters refer to the many Protestant denominations as if they differed on essential doctrine (see below!), rather than had arisen in different cultures, countries, and times in many cases. In fact there is unity in central doctrines, there is more cohesion that your words imply.
        That may be the case.  There may be more cohesion (although, again, I definitely disagree with this in the case of the United States), yet the fact still stands that there are thousands of different denominations who interpret things differently, even if their "central doctrines" are the same.  This is not the case among the Orthodox.  There are different jurisdictions, but unity in faith.  We have maintained our unity for 2000 years.  In the few hundred years since the rise of Protestantism, there has been a splintering that resulted in thousands of different groups.  This is what I'm referring to.

        Quote
        True enough! But we can differ on things which are not salvific, that is (I mean) in matters on which a person's salvation does not hang, and still be brother and sister in Christ, in his family / kingdom.
        Then why are there Protestant groups that are trying to convert Orthodox (both here and elsewhere in the world)?  Because they are convinced that our differences ARE salvific, and we will not be saved in the end.  And we, too, would disagree with the above statement.  All of our theology is central to our salvation.  To say that it is not means we can begin casting things to the side.  Then we end up... well, we won't go there.

        Quote
        No doubt due to my clumsy wording, you misunderstood me here. I was not saying that these things are the essential doctrines; rather, I was saying that these things are the ones which are usually considered to be distinctive of Evangelicalism. Many other credal dogmas are of course essential to any Christianity - you mention (I believe) Christ's resurrection, the  Trinity, Christ's deity. Of course these are essential, but they are not distinguishing marks of Catholicism, Orthodoxy or Evangelicalism. They are essentially Christian.
        I understand.  Yet when you look at the two next to eachother (Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism), the emphases are quite different.  We don't emphasize anything at the expense of anything else.  Which, as the title of this very thread will evidence, Evangelicalism does.  That was my point.  We attempt to balance things.  I knew a Baptist girl in high school who had, taped to the inside of her locker, a piece of paper with the names of all the people she had converted, and another with the names of those she intended to convert (my name was on that list for a VERY short time- I told her to remove it and that it was not up for negotiation).  Her church emphasized baptizing people to the point that it was almost the sole purpose of their existence.  Yet, she had no concept of the importance of the incarnation of Christ, or His resurrection!  She understood the cross, because this was another thing they emphasized.  They all but lost everything else!

        Quote
        But do you not read Lossky, Bulgakov, Ware, Hopko, Meyendorff? Whom I too read, by the way. Should I abandon them as well as Wesley, and read only the Fathers? Has nothing profitable been written since the Fathers wrote? Of course you too believe it has!
        There are two problems with this.
        1- You are the first Protestant I've spoken with (ever) who reads the fathers.  I'd love for the converts from Protestantism on the forum to weigh in on this one... I think it's safe to say the vast majority of Protestants have traded the fathers for Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the like. 
        2 (and this is the more important)- Lossky, Bulgakov, Ware, Hopko, Meyendorff AGREE with the fathers.  They do not write in disagreement with the foundation of our theology (the NT AND the fathers).  They may disagree with one father here and there (the fathers were also known to occasionally disagree with each other), but you will not see them turn the fathers on their heads altogether and offer totally new interpretations!  I believe it was Florovsky, who believed in Neo-Patristics-- the idea of EXPANDING on what the fathers said, such that our theology is still dynamic and comprehensive, not stagnant.  But within that concept, there must still be agreement with the fathers.  The fathers would have strenuously disagreed and wrote against the Protestant "fathers."  We have plenty of Orthodox saints who did, as a matter of fact (I'll have to dig those out later).

        Quote
        Finally, what was mentioned in an earlier exchange and not developed was this idea: that the Lord's promise to ensure that his church would be led into all truth was, presumably, fulfilled at some point in history - unless one believes that God has yet more revelation to give to the sons of men.  I do not mean new definitions of doctrine to counter more clearly and appropriately new heresies, but genuine new revelation of matters which are now entirely hidden but shall yet be revealed before the eschaton.  Now - if the fulfilment of the promise reached completion at some point in the past, we are in a sense discussing when that point was reached. Evangelicals say it was with the end of the writing of the Scriptures; Orthodox (if I understand aright) would put it later, in the time of the Fathers, the development of the liturgy. If we are right, then you have the truth + a lot more material which may or may not be true; if you are right, we have a lot of the truth, but we lack a lot also. An important though different question is: is the truth which we hold in common sufficient to lead us to salvation, despite your erroneous additional doctrines or despite our lack of the fulness of truth? I believe it is. But there is a thread on this, and I should leave it there.
        I'm not sure exactly how to respond to this...
        Firstly, I would just correct this to say the liturgy first appears in Acts.  I have to ask my husband more about this, as he is an expert in liturgics, but we can start another thread on this, too!  Smiley
        My other response would be that the writings of the fathers are NOT new revelation in the sense that I think you mean.  As I have said before, they penned what was already the belief of the Church.  We would say that, in fact, the Protestant "fathers" are the new heresies, new interpretations, etc. 

        I feel like I'm starting to sound repetitive in some places, and I hope you don't feel that I'm beating a dead horse.  But I feel like in some cases, you are (I'm sure not intentionally) dodging the actual questions I'm asking.  Maybe I'm not being clear about the point I'm trying to get at.  I'm hoping that others will weigh in here who can perhaps articulate better than I.  But, again, thanks for your patience and for bearing with me!  As always, I am really enjoying the different perspectives and how you force me to think!!!
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        « Reply #69 on: January 06, 2009, 01:02:08 PM »

        The Holy Spirit is within us from the moment of our existence; He does not come upon us later

        I confess I find myself quite confused and befuddled here. This is an idea which I have genuinely never come across in all my six decades in this confused and fallen world - unless I have succumbed to some sort of theological amnesia! So perhaps I need further explanation.
        Hmm. How interesting.

        Quote
        If a person is indwelt by the Spirit of God from birth:

        a) what difference does becoming a Christian make?
        Since "Christian" means a "follower of Christ," and to become a follower of Christ is to become Christ-like, which is salvation.

        Quote
        b) what difference, even in your own theology, does baptism make?
        Since in baptism Christ took on the sins of the world, when we are baptised, we give our sins to Him.

        Quote
        c) what did Jesus mean when he said "ye must be born again"?
        Being "born again" always refers to baptism.

        Quote
        Being in the image of God is an integral and inseparable part of being human.
        Exactly. God has been joined with His creation by the Incarnation; God has become human, and is in humanity. One cannot be human and not bear God.
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        « Reply #70 on: January 06, 2009, 01:49:38 PM »


        a) what difference does becoming a Christian make?

        Since "Christian" means a "follower of Christ," and to become a follower of Christ is to become Christ-like, which is salvation.


        Fascinating. Light begins to dawn! Now I think we have wandered into that longstanding difference between you and us, that we look very importantly to the beginning of salvation (the new birth, or initial justification) whilst you speak of salvation in terms of the final, complete, immutable, full salvation we shall ultimately enjoy. And since we use the word differently, each of us ends up wondering whether the other has anything but a faint idea of what "salvation" really is. Hence, we try to convert each other.

        Quote
        b) what difference, even in your own theology, does baptism make?

        Since in baptism Christ took on the sins of the world, when we are baptised, we give our sins to Him....Being "born again" always refers to baptism.


        But how can the Spirit dwell in someone whose sins have not yet been forgiven and taken away? Don't get me wrong - I know we all sin, but we feel sorry, we confess, we repent, we are cleansed; if not, he is grieved and we lose the joy of salvation. But someone whose sins have never been washed away...? (Let us not here go off into the question of how closely baptism is linked with the new birth, or we'll end up forgetting what we're talking about.)

        Quote
        God has been joined with His creation by the Incarnation; God has become human, and is in humanity. One cannot be human and not bear God.

        I have added emphasis to the word 'bear'. This view of the incarnation is thoroughly Orthodox - I cannot yet say whether it is thoroughly orthodox! I do need to come to a better understanding of your view of the Incarnation. We believe of course that in Christ himself godhead and humanity were mysteriously joined; we also believe that the Spirit of God indwells all Christians; we do not believe that the Spirit indwells non-Christians. He comes to them when they believe, and our Lord and his apostles spoke of 'receiving' the Holy Spirit. You cannot 'receive' something you already have, but when an unbeliever becomes a Christian, then he receives the indwelling Spirit. So we hold, and so we preach.
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        « Reply #71 on: January 06, 2009, 02:08:28 PM »

        would you agree that along with that ... when the Gospels were handed down by the people, so, too, was the understanding of them.  ... how could they transmit the words correctly, but not the meaning?


        I shall probably have to reply to some of this post, leave it, and come back later or another day. And I still have your post-of-the-month to address!

        No, this is what I remain to be convinced of. I believe that an accurate memory was preserved by God's Spirit of the words and deeds of our Lord in around 27-30 AD and that memory was written down by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What I am not yet persuaded of is that the interpretations which were recorded some 80+ years later are also accurate. This of course is the nub of the sola scriptura / Holy Tradition debate.

        It is a well-known religious phenomenon that people revere and retain words whilst losing their hold on their meaning. I suspect that Baptist and Methodist churches are not unique in having many worshippers who attend for family or personal tradition or sentiment, they sing the hymns which are full of theology, repentance, faith, aspiration - and hardly mean a word of it. The Bible calls it worshipping with our lips when our heart is far from him. Now of course, the early church and its Fathers had not done that! But the process begins somewhere, and often subtly and hardly perceived. I am not yet convinced that no theological drift had begun between people's hearing the Lord and the apostles, and the later writings.

        Quote
        You ... have not commented on the clear fact that what Protestants believe (especially with respect to the Eucharist) is contrary to what the belief of the early church was-- unless you are not yet convinced that this was, in fact the belief, despite the writings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Justin Martyr, to name a few. 

        I have added emphasis to the words "early church". I am not persuaded that no theological drift or unwarranted theological development had begun.

        Quote
        It is also clear that the early church did NOT hold Sola Scriptura,

        They couldn't, could they? The Bible had not yet been fitted together.

        Quote
        How does one rationalize accepting beliefs that have been proved to be contrary to the faith that the Apostles taught

        God forbid! If I believed we are teaching contrary to what the apostles believed, I would be persuaded to an immediate change of doctrine. We all, Orthodox and Evangelical, are all sincere in striving for that.

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        « Reply #72 on: January 06, 2009, 02:58:22 PM »

        1) why are there Protestant groups that are trying to convert Orthodox?  Because they are convinced that our differences ARE salvific, and we will not be saved in the end. 

        2) All of our theology is central to our salvation. 

        1) I have no doubt you are right; but to be fair to my Protestant missionary colleagues, remember that probably none of them has had an opportunity to meet and share ideas with an Orthodox like yourgoodself or certain others on the threads. They only come across ones who curse them, call them sons of Judas Iscariot, accuse them of breaking up the nation; and others who give the appearance of penetrating no further into their Orthodoxy than performing the rituals. Any denomination has bigots; any has people following the traditions with little or no understanding or inner yearning for God. We certainly have them. They give a clear impression that, unlike Barnabas who "when he saw the grace of God, was glad," they cannot perceive the grace of God in others, which makes the others react by assuming they are strangers to that grace. I am explaining, not justifying.

        Also, many are merely nominally Orthodox; they are no more saved than a similarly nominal Baptist. They too need to hear the call to heart repentance and faith. We do not in such cases see ourselves as converting genuine Orthodox, but as calling sinners to repentance, whatever their religious label inherited from family or village background might be.

        Quote
        3) The Fathers...I'd love for the converts from Protestantism on the forum to weigh in on this one...

        4)the vast majority of Protestants have traded the fathers for Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the like. 
        Amen! The field is so vast one hardly knows where to start. And Schaff's translations are so turgid.

        I wish they had! They often turn rather to popular anecdotal writers, or ones who promote feel-good sentiment. (I do not include Yancey in that disparaging description: I derive much benefit from him.)
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        « Reply #73 on: January 06, 2009, 02:59:41 PM »

        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}

        Cool insight. I never looked at it in that way before. Eastern Orthodoxy is a "conciliar" Organism.....so it is really about the community(The Church) as Guided by the Holy Spirit, and not about the "individual".

        As noted by the Evangelical Protestant scholar who once tought at Moscow University and saw this about Orthodoxy (something that not to many Protestants are able to see):

        """the Orthodox East has never been obsessed with a search for objective, clear, and formally definable criteria of truth, such as either the papal authority or the Reformed notion of sola scriptura." Meyendorff takes pains to clarify this extremely important point: "This lack in Orthodox ecclesiology of a clearly defined, precise and permanent criterion of Truth besides God Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, is certainly one of the major contrasts between Orthodoxy and all classical Western ecclesiologies." [1]

        and

        "while in Orthodoxy no need for, or necessity of, such a security was ever felt for the simple reason that the living Truth is its own criterion." This, of course, is the exact point made by Khomiakov, that in Orthodoxy the criterion of truth is not external or dogmatic, a speaking to the church, but internal and pneumatic, a living Lord within the church.
        Positively, we might say that the only ultimate theological criterion to which Orthodoxy appeals is the living presence of God himself, who safeguards the church and promises through his Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth (John 14:25-26; 16:13). This was the pattern established by the original church in council at Jerusalem, which based its decisions on the charismatic criterion: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28). Thus the Orthodox appeal to Irenaeus: "Where theChurch is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is Truth."
        [2]


        This is what the Metropolitan Kallistos Ware had to say about the Bible and the Church.

        page 199-200

        "The Bible and the Church. The Christian Church is a Scriptural Church: Orthodoxy believes this just as firmly, if not more firmly, than Protestantism. The bible is the supreme expression of God's revelation to the human race, and christians must always be 'people of the book'. But if Christians are People of the book, the Bible is the Book of the People; it must not be regarded as something set up over the Church, but as something that lives and is understood within the Church (that is why one should not separate Scripture and tradition). It is from the Church that the Bible ultimately derives its authority, for it was the Church which originally decided which books form a part of Holy Scripture; and it is the Church alone which can interpret Holy Scripture with authority. There are many sayings in the Bible which by themselves are far from clear, and individual readers, however sincere, are in danger of error if they trust their own personal interpretation. 'Do you understand what you are reading? Philip asked the Ethiopian eunuch; and the Eunuch replied, 'How can I, unless someone guides me? (Acts viii, 30-I). Orthodox, when they read the Scripture, accept the guidance of the Church. When received into the Orthodox Church, a convert promises, 'I will accept and understand Holy Scripture in accordance with the interpretation which was and is held by the Holy Orthodox Catholic Church of the East, our Mother.'" [3]




        So it seems as if you are on the right track. I will be praying for you.

        I could be wrong, but I think someone on Ancient Faith Radio said something very similar about Christ being the "Word of God"......I forgot who it was?Huh? Was it the prespytera Dr. Jeannie Constantinou, in her introduction to the Bible series? Or was it someone else?


        But what you said was a good observation.







        JNORM888

        [1]page 106-107,[2] page 107, from the book "Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A western perspective" by Daniel B. Clendenin. Baker Academic 1994, 2003

        [3] pages 199-200 from the book "The Orthodox Church: New Edition" by Timothy Ware (The Metropolitan Kallistos Ware) published by penguin Group
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        « Reply #74 on: January 06, 2009, 03:16:29 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. 


        This is why I think DennyB had a great point, and a good observation.





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        « Reply #75 on: January 06, 2009, 04:28:15 PM »


        No, this is what I remain to be convinced of. I believe that an accurate memory was preserved by God's Spirit of the words and deeds of our Lord in around 27-30 AD and that memory was written down by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. What I am not yet persuaded of is that the interpretations which were recorded some 80+ years later are also accurate. This of course is the nub of the sola scriptura / Holy Tradition debate.
        You are aware, I'm sure, that the Gospels were first oral traditions?  It wasn't as though Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John just sat down one day and wrote them down, and then the people passed the books among themselves.  You realize that they were oral records that were taught to groups of Christians... that is why they are inconsistent in places, because they were written from memory by fallible men.  Let's take Mark, for instance.  Mark's gospel was an oral gospel for about 35 years after Christ's Resurrection and Ascension into heaven.  It was not written down until 65. a.d. and even Mark, the Gospel writer himself, did not actually hear the words of Christ Himself!  He wrote down what Peter taught him.  I bold and emphasize this statement to make a point.  Mark was Peter's disciple and wrote down the Gospel as Peter taught it.  Mark did not have first hand knowledge and thus, was taught by one of the 12.  I'll appeal now to the same example I have previously given.  Ignatius was also taught by Peter (as well as John).  So why would Mark have been taught correctly by Peter, and Ignatius was not?  Or was it that Mark's understanding was limited to the words of the Gospel, and because Ignatius did not write the Gospel, he has no understanding of what Peter said?  But that would reduce the words of the Gospel to little more than magic, so that can't be right.  Remember, he wrote the Gospel from memory.  So it follows logically that he MUST have understood it, or he would not have been able to record it properly.  You doubt writings by those taught by the 12 themselves, but embrace the writings by those hundreds of years later, and your basis for doubting the writings of Ignatius and the like is that they wrote (you say, I disagree) 80+ years after Christ.  Isn't this a double standard?

        Quote
        It is a well-known religious phenomenon that people revere and retain words whilst losing their hold on their meaning. I suspect that Baptist and Methodist churches are not unique in having many worshippers who attend for family or personal tradition or sentiment, they sing the hymns which are full of theology, repentance, faith, aspiration - and hardly mean a word of it. The Bible calls it worshipping with our lips when our heart is far from him. Now of course, the early church and its Fathers had not done that! But the process begins somewhere, and often subtly and hardly perceived. I am not yet convinced that no theological drift had begun between people's hearing the Lord and the apostles, and the later writings.

        And yet, you trust people removed by hundreds of years who did not retain what was already believed and, in fact, went against it.  And you trust them because... you found blessings in their writings?  Doesn't that make YOU the judge of truth?
        You also said you trust them because they are part of one of the greatest tides of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost (a fact we already disagree on, but that aside...).  This implies that the Holy Spirit was not in the early church and not in the years that followed, and thus not with us now, since we adhere to the early church?  What made the Holy Spirit decide to pop up after hundreds of years of being missing, then?

        Quote
        Quote
        You ... have not commented on the clear fact that what Protestants believe (especially with respect to the Eucharist) is contrary to what the belief of the early church was-- unless you are not yet convinced that this was, in fact the belief, despite the writings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Justin Martyr, to name a few. 

        I have added emphasis to the words "early church". I am not persuaded that no theological drift or unwarranted theological development had begun.
        This makes me sad.  To think that the Church founded by Christ only lasted 30 years and then became corrupt?  Where's the logic in that?  Where's God in that (as a twelve-stepper I used to know says)?  I just can't believe it.  What, out of curiosity, is your proof that this happened?  Even if the "drift had begun," can you please offer proof that the Protestants are the ones who saved the day and got things back on track?  After all, the Orthodox Church has, for 2000 years now, been correcting incorrect doctrine that pops up every now and again... Arianism, Nestorianism, Marcianism, Gnosticism, all manner of Catholic and Protestant doctrines... the Church has stood against them and many others.  What is the proof that, as active as the Orthodox Church has been against heresies, the Protestants are the ones that, in fact, got it right?

        Quote
        Quote
        It is also clear that the early church did NOT hold Sola Scriptura,

        They couldn't, could they? The Bible had not yet been fitted together.
        My friend, I think this is a straw man.  Just because the Gospels had not been bound together in one book, or even written down, doesn't make what I said invalid.  They were being circulated among the people AS the Gospels.  It doesn't matter if they had been formally canonized yet or not.  They were accepted by the people.  What I said was that the writers who wrote at the times the Gospels were being fitted together often referred to each other.  And that the NT often refers to traditions other than that of the Gospels:
        Quote
        15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.
        2 Thessalonians 2:15

        They were well aware that there was more to be said than what was written...

        Quote
        Quote
        How does one rationalize accepting beliefs that have been proved to be contrary to the faith that the Apostles taught

        God forbid! If I believed we are teaching contrary to what the apostles believed, I would be persuaded to an immediate change of doctrine. We all, Orthodox and Evangelical, are all sincere in striving for that.

        Am I correct that the problem is that you still fail to be convinced that Ignatius and Irenaeus and Clement and Justin Martyr... had it correct, even though they learned (literally) at the feet of the Apostles.  And why is it that you think they got it wrong, again?  Because your reading of the NT doesn't agree with theirs?  Doesn't this, again, make you the arbiter of truth?  I'm asking sincerely, not in an ugly way. 
        Protestants obviously hold beliefs that are contrary to what the early writers held.  So am I correct that the crux of the issue, then, is whether the early writers are correct?  What would convince you that they are (just out of curiosity)?

        I definitely feel like I'm beating a dead horse again, and I apologize for that.  I'm beginning to feel frustrated because I still feel as though you are (again, I'm sure unintentionally) not confronting what it is I'm trying to get across.  I'm getting the idea that, for you (and maybe Protestants in general) the issue seems to be that you are sure that the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, but not sure that they inspired the writings that paralleled the Scriptures.  My whole issue is that the Holy Spirit inspires people.  And the Holy Spirit did not (IMHO) just inspire the ones who wrote down the Gospel.  He also inspired all the people who transmitted that Gospel for the 30-40 years that it was oral and not written, and He inspired the Apostles to teach.  He inspired St. Peter to teach Mark so that he would write the Gospel.  So why would he stop inspiring Peter when it came to choosing a worthy disciple and teaching him correctly, when it comes to Ignatius (again, our friend Ignatius as the example)?  What proof can you offer of this, other than what the Protestant writers, several hundred years removed, have taught you?

        I am SO enjoying this spirited discussion!  As always, I appreciate your patience and humoring of me.  I wouldn't blame you if you stopped responding to me altogether.  I appreciate that you persist in trying to help me understand.  I'm big on logic, and so far what I have learned defies logic.  This may be because I'm missing something still, or it may be because the logic doesn't work.  God willing all will reveal itself soon in that respect.  Thank you again, David, for all that you bring to this forum!
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        « Reply #76 on: January 06, 2009, 04:55:48 PM »


        1) I have no doubt you are right; but to be fair to my Protestant missionary colleagues, remember that probably none of them has had an opportunity to meet and share ideas with an Orthodox like yourgoodself or certain others on the threads. They only come across ones who curse them, call them sons of Judas Iscariot, accuse them of breaking up the nation; and others who give the appearance of penetrating no further into their Orthodoxy than performing the rituals. Any denomination has bigots; any has people following the traditions with little or no understanding or inner yearning for God. We certainly have them. They give a clear impression that, unlike Barnabas who "when he saw the grace of God, was glad," they cannot perceive the grace of God in others, which makes the others react by assuming they are strangers to that grace. I am explaining, not justifying.
        No offense, please, but this doesn't hold water with me.  There is an entire thread here on the forum that discusses a paper published by a Baptist seminary about how to convert Orthodox-- how to draw them away from their faith and into that of the Baptist church.  The theology in it is quite clear (and almost accurate).  It is not because they are not familiar with Orthodoxy.  It is because they have judged us unworthy of salvation.  Now, you may say "that is only one paper and only one school, and there are Orthodox equivalents."  You may be right.  But sheer statistics shows us that Protestants are far more interested in converting Orthodox than the other way around.

        Quote
        Also, many are merely nominally Orthodox; they are no more saved than a similarly nominal Baptist. They too need to hear the call to heart repentance and faith. We do not in such cases see ourselves as converting genuine Orthodox, but as calling sinners to repentance, whatever their religious label inherited from family or village background might be.
        If this were actually the case, then why would the missionaries need to be so well versed in Orthodox theology?  Presumably, they would be speaking to Orthodox who have no interest in their faith and thus very little, if any, understanding of theology.  The reason is because they know they will encounter Orthodox that are educated in their faith and must be able to conquer them.  No, I'm sorry, but I have seen way too much evidence to the contrary of both the reasons you have provided here.  I live in the Bible belt.  Protestants have tried to convert me thousands of times.  Not because they didn't know me or my beliefs.  Simply because as far as they are concerned, my salvation was (is) at stake. 

        You have given the reason that you are trying to understand Orthodoxy because of the response from the Albanian hierarchs.  You may well be the exception to the case that I have presented above.  Judging from your posts, I believe your motives to be good and sincere.  So please know that what I am not directing those statements at you.

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        « Reply #77 on: January 06, 2009, 05:27:47 PM »

        Quote
        a) what difference does becoming a Christian make?

        Since "Christian" means a "follower of Christ," and to become a follower of Christ is to become Christ-like, which is salvation.

        Fascinating. Light begins to dawn! Now I think we have wandered into that longstanding difference between you and us, that we look very importantly to the beginning of salvation (the new birth, or initial justification) whilst you speak of salvation in terms of the final, complete, immutable, full salvation we shall ultimately enjoy. And since we use the word differently, each of us ends up wondering whether the other has anything but a faint idea of what "salvation" really is. Hence, we try to convert each other.
        I think you're on to something here.

        Quote
        b) what difference, even in your own theology, does baptism make?

        Since in baptism Christ took on the sins of the world, when we are baptised, we give our sins to Him....Being "born again" always refers to baptism.

        But how can the Spirit dwell in someone whose sins have not yet been forgiven and taken away? Don't get me wrong - I know we all sin, but we feel sorry, we confess, we repent, we are cleansed; if not, he is grieved and we lose the joy of salvation. But someone whose sins have never been washed away...? (Let us not here go off into the question of how closely baptism is linked with the new birth, or we'll end up forgetting what we're talking about.)
        All sins have been forgiven and taken away. Christ has destroyed sin, death, and the devil. All that a person has to do is receive that forgiveness through prayer, repentance, and confession. When Christ came, he dwelt in the filth of a stable--and anyone who has spent time in rural areas knows exactly what that filth is. Why then should God disdain living in the filth of our hearts? He dwells there even if the soul is not clean; yet our souls more easily receive Him when we are more like Him.

        God has been joined with His creation by the Incarnation; God has become human, and is in humanity. One cannot be human and not bear God.

        I have added emphasis to the word 'bear'. This view of the incarnation is thoroughly Orthodox - I cannot yet say whether it is thoroughly orthodox! I do need to come to a better understanding of your view of the Incarnation. We believe of course that in Christ himself godhead and humanity were mysteriously joined; we also believe that the Spirit of God indwells all Christians; we do not believe that the Spirit indwells non-Christians. He comes to them when they believe, and our Lord and his apostles spoke of 'receiving' the Holy Spirit. You cannot 'receive' something you already have, but when an unbeliever becomes a Christian, then he receives the indwelling Spirit. So we hold, and so we preach.
        I submit to you a scenario in which someone can receive something they already have. The Church is the Bride of Christ. We receive Christ as a wife receives her husband. Now, obviously a wife is not receiving her husband every second of the day, but neither does she only receive him once. He is hers, and she his; and yet the husband continually gives himself to his wife. In the same way, we can receive Christ and yet have Christ within us already. There's a good reason St. Paul uses marriage as an analogy for the Christian life.
        « Last Edit: January 06, 2009, 05:28:44 PM by ytterbiumanalyst » Logged

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        « Reply #78 on: January 06, 2009, 06:18:04 PM »


        - Protestants have traded the fathers for Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the like
        - I wish they had!


        Let's delete Calvin from the list, and stick with Luther, Wesley and the like.

        Quote
        You are aware, I'm sure, that the Gospels were first oral traditions?  ... why would Mark have been taught correctly by Peter, and Ignatius was not?  ... You doubt writings by those taught by the 12 themselves, but embrace the writings by those hundreds of years later,

        - Yes.
        - I am not saying that Peter taught Ignatius wrongly, and Mark properly. I'm saying that the scriptures have a unique quality of inspiration. If I say they are 'infallible' I am not meaning 'inerrant'; rightly or wrongly, I use the word 'infallible' to mean they will not fail, nor will they themselves lead us astray. The Church recognised this unique quality in some books and canonised them; others do not carry the same quality of inspiration imparting authority and (in that sense) infallibility. If Ignatius was taught correctly by an apostle or two, and abode in the truth and doctrines they taught him without any incipient shift, the church could have recognised that quality and included his epistles in the canon of scripture: but they didn't. I am not saying these Fathers did shift; I am saying their writings are not authoritative. You are saying they are.
        - When you say I 'embrace' the writings of later centuries, it depends what you mean by 'embrace'. I do not regard them as divinely inspired, infallible and authoritative, but I am glad to have the opportunity to read and learn from them.

        Quote
        Doesn't that make YOU the judge of truth?

        I hope not. May the Lord correct me if it is so! I am disturbed if I seem to be developing new ideas which are not found in the stream of the church's ongoing fellowship and teaching.

        Quote
        one of the greatest tides of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost ...implies that the Holy Spirit was not in the early church

        What made the Holy Spirit decide to pop up after hundreds of years of being missing, then?


        Do not overlook the word "since". There is a parallel in Middle Eastern nature referred to in scripture a number of times, e.g. in Zechariah, called the Latter Rain. I am not pressing it to the point of dogma, but God often does put parables in nature for us. In my humble opinion (IMHO, as they say), Pentecost and the early Church were the former rain. From what little I know of church history, I seem to see the beginning of "the latter rain" around the 1720s, and I believe it has continued into a world-wide expansion of the church as a lead-up to the Second Coming. Wesley was instrumental (one instrument among many) in this present tide.

        "pop up"? The usual phrase is "be poured out". Who knows? It is a mystery hidden in God's secret plans. But I believe He has poured out his Spirit widely and repeatedly in many parts of the world over the past 300 years or so. Think of the little cloud the size of a man's hand, which soon grew and overspread the sky. I see the beginning of this Latter Rain probably at Herrnhut under the ministry of Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brethren. It has never ceased, and I don't think it will, for this Gospel of the kingdom must be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, then the end comes. Amen! Marana tha!

        Quote
        what Protestants believe (especially with respect to the Eucharist) is contrary to what the belief of the early church ... unless you are not yet convinced that this was, in fact the belief, despite the writings of Ignatius, Irenaeus, Clement, and Justin Martyr, to name a few. 

        You are right: I need convincing that no unwarranted theological developments had taken place by their time, and also that they were representative, not of the later church which transmitted their writings, but of their own time.

        Quote
        To think that the Church founded by Christ only lasted 30 years and then became corrupt?  Where's the logic in that? 

        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 Orthodoxy.

        Quote
        can you please offer proof that the Protestants are the ones who saved the day and got things back on track? 

        No, not proof; but at least grant that that was their shared and sincere purpose.

        Quote
        Am I correct that the problem is that you still fail to be convinced that Ignatius and Irenaeus and Clement and Justin Martyr... had it correct, ... So am I correct that the crux of the issue, then, is whether the early writers are correct? 

        Yes.

        Quote
        What would convince you that they are

        It would need to be the plain and only sensible interpretation of the biblical text.

        Quote
        the issue seems to be that you are sure that the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, but not sure that they inspired the writings that paralleled the Scriptures.  My whole issue is that the Holy Spirit inspires people. 

        Replace the word "parallelled" with "followed", and you have hit the nail on the head.

        Yes, the Spirit does inspire people: sometimes people even come up to me unworthy after I have preached and tell me that I said things which exactly fitted their situation and need, and which were a genuine help or pointer for them. I, who am but dust and ashes. But even the great speakers and writers, whilst inspired, were not given that unique, infallible, authoritative inspiration which only the scriptures carry.
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        « Reply #79 on: January 06, 2009, 06:39:21 PM »

        There is an entire thread here on the forum that discusses a paper published by a Baptist seminary about how to convert Orthodox

        I have read it and posted on it.

        Quote
        The theology in it is quite clear (and almost accurate).  It is not because they are not familiar with Orthodoxy.  It is because they have judged us unworthy of salvation. 

        But if you go back an re-read the posts on that thread, I think you will find that we have observed this very flaw in the book: it is indeed a good description of Orthodox theology, but most of the people the Evangelical missionaries seek to convert will not have that understanding of their theology. I think both sides of the discussion agreed on that, on the thread you mention.

        They also judge themselves unworthy of salvation: we all are. It is all of grace. But I have written at length on this on the closed forum about the Eucharist so need not repeat myself here.

        Quote
        I have seen way too much evidence to the contrary of both the reasons you have provided here.  I live in the Bible belt. 

        Not evidence to the contrary: merely a stark difference between southern Albania and the US Bible belt. What you have seen is true; what I have seen is true. The situations are very different.

        Quote
        You have given the reason that you are trying to understand Orthodoxy because of the response from the Albanian hierarchs. 

        Not intentionally. I had never come across Orthodoxy till I encountered it in Albania, and then I decided to make some attempt to understand it, probably for two main reasons:

        1) I find aspects of it very attractive, as listed in the article which prompted this forum to contact me, and I wanted to suck such benefit from Orthodoxy as I can; I found myself reading Orthodox theology and quietly exclaiming, "But that's what I believe!"
        2) because relationships between Evangelicals and Orthodox in most places in Albania - not every place - are appalling and I hoped that I might be able to make some small personal steps to improving matters if I understood you better.

        In central Albania there is an Orthodox seminary and an Evangelical Bible college. If I were a betting man, I'd lay a wager they never mount any joint activities. I don't mean religious activities; but they could play football, or host joint dinners. Individual trainees might become friends, go mountain walking together, go to the bar together, talk about the books they have read. If the colleges were bold enough, there might even be the occasional debate. Each side would probably remain what it is, Orthodox or Evangelical: but at least they might see each other as normal, likeable human beings who are fun, or serious, or have the gift of friendship; and at least they might grow to respect and understand each other. But I have never heard of such things happening: I hope it is merely a lack of hearing on my part, and that I would be delightedly surprised if I knew the facts.
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        « Reply #80 on: January 06, 2009, 06:50:00 PM »

        Grace and Peace David Young,

        I have always believed that Holy Tradition held within itself the means (exegesis) to interpret the Sacred Scriptures. Every denomination of Christianity teach their own means of interpreting passages of the Sacred Scriptures to distinguish themselves from other Christians. This exegesis is taught in their Sunday School Classes so that their followers share their teachings. The means of interpretation isn't found within the Sacred Text or St. Paul and our Lord would have not needed to teach it to the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles nor to the Disciples on the Road to Emmaus.

        Why is it that Protestants hold to a tradition and yet deny Holy Tradition?

        I'm not trying to be rude I would just like to know. Thanks.
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        « Reply #81 on: January 06, 2009, 07:08:59 PM »


        Let's delete Calvin from the list, and stick with Luther, Wesley and the like.
        May I ask why we are deleting him from the list?  He is hugely influential... at least, in the US.

        Quote
        - Yes.
        - I am not saying that Peter taught Ignatius wrongly, and Mark properly. I'm saying that the scriptures have a unique quality of inspiration. If I say they are 'infallible' I am not meaning 'inerrant'; rightly or wrongly, I use the word 'infallible' to mean they will not fail, nor will they themselves lead us astray. The Church recognised this unique quality in some books and canonised them; others do not carry the same quality of inspiration imparting authority and (in that sense) infallibility. If Ignatius was taught correctly by an apostle or two, and abode in the truth and doctrines they taught him without any incipient shift, the church could have recognised that quality and included his epistles in the canon of scripture: but they didn't. I am not saying these Fathers did shift; I am saying their writings are not authoritative. You are saying they are.
        Here I must strenuously disagree.  The Church recognized that the information contained in the Gospels was required for our salvation.  This was the criteria used to decide which books were canonised.  The other books were labeled "anogenoskomena," or "good for reading."  In other words, they help us along the way.  They are authoritative.  The Gospels and the rest of the NT is of course primary, but the criteria for canonization was NOT who was inspired and who wasn't.  It was what must we know to attain salvation.  We are never to replace the Scripture with the Fathers.  But to lose the fathers means we won't understand the Scripture the way it was intended.

        Quote
        - When you say I 'embrace' the writings of later centuries, it depends what you mean by 'embrace'. I do not regard them as divinely inspired, infallible and authoritative, but I am glad to have the opportunity to read and learn from them.
        You make it sound as though you picked up a little trivia from them, here and there.  They influenced your theology, outlined and structured what you believe.  They have essentially replaced the fathers, as you adhere to the teachings contained in them (the same way we adhere to those written by the fathers-- the only difference is what they taught).  We do not regard the fathers as infallible either.  We regard them as inspired and authoritative, but again, not on the same level as the Scriptures.

        Quote
        I hope not. May the Lord correct me if it is so! I am disturbed if I seem to be developing new ideas which are not found in the stream of the church's ongoing fellowship and teaching.
        Yet you have not actually answered the question.  Do not all the reasons you have given (and the reasons Protestants, in general, give for reading Luther, Wesley, etc.) actually make you the judge of truth?  It's not that you are creating new doctrine, but that you, alone, are deciding WHICH doctrine to adhere to, based on... what?
        In contrast, we, as Orthodox, adhere to what has been handed down since the Apostles.  We do not judge for ourselves which doctrines to pick and choose.  There is no "well, I personally do not believe in the real presence of the Eucharist, so it isn't true."  No, we adhere to the teachings handed down.

        Quote
        Do not overlook the word "since". There is a parallel in Middle Eastern nature referred to in scripture a number of times, e.g. in Zechariah, called the Latter Rain. I am not pressing it to the point of dogma, but God often does put parables in nature for us. In my humble opinion (IMHO, as they say), Pentecost and the early Church were the former rain. From what little I know of church history, I seem to see the beginning of "the latter rain" around the 1720s, and I believe it has continued into a world-wide expansion of the church as a lead-up to the Second Coming. Wesley was instrumental (one instrument among many) in this present tide.

        "pop up"? The usual phrase is "be poured out". Who knows? It is a mystery hidden in God's secret plans. But I believe He has poured out his Spirit widely and repeatedly in many parts of the world over the past 300 years or so. Think of the little cloud the size of a man's hand, which soon grew and overspread the sky. I see the beginning of this Latter Rain probably at Herrnhut under the ministry of Count Ludwig von Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brethren. It has never ceased, and I don't think it will, for this Gospel of the kingdom must be preached throughout the world as a testimony to all nations, then the end comes. Amen! Marana tha!
        We'll have to agree to disagree on this.  My personal feeling (please don't be offended) is that the "latter rain," as you call it, was in fact one of the greatest tragedies to befall Christianity.  To see the faith of Christ splintered, changed, and so affected by the pride of man is sad, in my opinion.  Yet, God works wonders.  Some of the greatest Orthodox writings came in response to the Protestant movements, and, of course, Protestantism has led many to Orthodoxy, which is also a blessing.

        Please don't misunderstand me here.  I'm sure that will sound terrible to you, as you see it as such a blessing.  But it probably soundss to you the way that it sounds to me when you say that the disciples of Peter, John, and the like in fact led the Church astray (never mind the obvious fact that, had they not preserved the faith, neither you nor I would have it in any form today-- I definitely see the Holy Spirit in that!).

        Quote
        You are right: I need convincing that no unwarranted theological developments had taken place by their time, and also that they were representative, not of the later church which transmitted their writings, but of their own time.
        No offense, but I'm not sure that's possible.  Not because there is no proof, but because I'm not sure any amount of proof would be enough.  Even if I could present St. Peter himself to say "I taught Ignatius correctly, and he taught correctly, as did all the other fathers until today," I'm not sure even that would convince.  Though this is not my purpose, anyway.


        Quote
        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 Orthodoxy.
        And just out of curiosity, how does one rationalize that, considering that the Christianity you hold today is as a result of those whom you say drifted away, their writings absent of the Holy Spirit?

        Quote
        No, not proof; but at least grant that that was their shared and sincere purpose.
        My bishop said something to me years ago that has many times caused me to stop and consider what I am doing.  Though I feel sure he didn't coin the phrase, he said, "Satan works through even the best of intentions."
        Do you doubt that the shared purpose of the fathers was sincere?  If the fathers were sincere and the Protestant writers were sincere, what separates them?

        Quote
        It would need to be the plain and only sensible interpretation of the biblical text.
        Yet sometimes things are not what we want them to be.  Just because you want plain and sensible interpretation of the text doesn't mean that that interpretation would be correct.  Please don't take offense to that.  It goes for all of us, myself included.  Sometimes I want things to be simple and easier to understand, but they're just not (like original sin, I struggle to understand this constantly-- it seems complicated to me for some reason!).

        Quote
        Replace the word "parallelled" with "followed", and you have hit the nail on the head.

        Yes, the Spirit does inspire people: sometimes people even come up to me unworthy after I have preached and tell me that I said things which exactly fitted their situation and need, and which were a genuine help or pointer for them. I, who am but dust and ashes. But even the great speakers and writers, whilst inspired, were not given that unique, infallible, authoritative inspiration which only the scriptures carry.

        Why "followed," when 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 was already the enthroned bishop of Antioch by 68.  That's the same time, not later.

        You still didn't really answer the question, I don't think (or maybe I just missed it-- if so, my apologies).  You said "it's not that Peter taught Ignatius incorrectly."  But by disagreeing with Ignatius' writings, isn't that, in fact, what you are saying?  So how did the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to teach Mark correctly and Ignatius incorrectly?  The Scriptures being more inspired than Ignatius (agreed) doesn't make Ignatius wrong by default.  It doesn't make him wrong at all.  And I just have a hard time following the logic that the Holy Spirit inspired the early church incorrectly, inclusive of Peter (since he taught Ignatius)!  I'm only trying to follow your logic.  But it raises such questions in my own head that I don't seem to be able to answer without the logic absolutely derailing.  This is why I was feeling that you were dodging the questions, I guess.  I think you are answering them now, but they are raising more questions for me when I try to follow the logic (thus the ones I just asked above).  And I have to ask you them, because in my own head, the logic fails.  I'm hoping you can enlighten me as to your logic. 

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        « Reply #82 on: January 07, 2009, 04:18:39 AM »

        May I crave a pause?!

        GreekChef:

        I have yet to address your post-of-the-month, and your welcome and thought-provoking posts come so fast and full that I still haven't managed to get round to it.  Sad I am reminded of Amos 9.13.

        Please stay your hand with further thoughts for me until I have addressed the post of the month and this your latest, plus of course those by ignatius (with a small i!) and any others. Then when all that is done, of course let the flow of thought be released once more.

        Just to help you start the silent preparatory cogitation, I question the following:

        1) Was the NT church as uniform as you maintain? It seems to me that already there were at least two 'denominations', one keeping to the Law of Moses, one setting it aside - though they remained in communion of course. I need convincing that it had not developed at least a bit further by the following century.

        2) Are the writings of Ignatius et al representative of their own day, or of the much later church which preserved them, collated them, and presented them to the world?

        3) Are you Orthodox really any more consistent than we are? I readily grant an inexplicable inconsistency within Evangelicalism, in that a group will insist on a literal interpretation of its own favourite passages, and on a non-literal one of other passages. (For example, some say you must believe the world was made in 6 24-hour days not long ago, but use grape juice or worse for the Communion.) But surely you do the same: you insist on a literal interpretation of the Eucharist passages, but you arrive at infant baptism (which does not actually appear in the NT) by a somewhat convoluted argument. (I am aware of the arguments: no need to rehearse them here; I'm just saying that if you followed scripture as literally for baptism as you do for the Eucharist, you would only immerse believers. That is, we're as bad as each other - or shall we rather say, as inconsistent?).

        But please - don't post your reply till I have caught up!

         Smiley
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        « Reply #83 on: January 07, 2009, 10:39:12 AM »

        GreekChef:

        I have finally got round to re-reading your post-of-the-month. It seems in fact that, without my realising it, our subsequent exchanges have addressed many of the issues raised in it: that is, they cropped up again. So I may be able to be more brief than I had foreseen. I shall put your words in italics before replying to them, to avoid fiddling with quote / unquote commands:

        Is it simply because that is what your conscience tells you?

        This is fairly near to ignatii question, so I’ll try to reply to it when I come to his.

        I am far more inclined to trust a credible primary source

        Yes, but it is the New Testament that is the primary source. Later writings are secondary (tertiary, etc…).

        Why put your trust in sources so far removed?

        This is again fairly near to ignatii question, so I’ll try to reply to it when I come to his.

        Who am I to doubt what John taught?

        You and I both believe that what John taught was divine truth, the word of God. One of us is misunderstanding him, but neither of us doubts his reliability and soothfastness.

        There can be no communion without common belief.

        There are some Protestants who hold this view, often called “faith and order churches”, i.e. to take communion you have to have the same doctrines and the same church order (baptist or whatever). But they are a relatively small minority and are commonly regarded as rather odd and extreme. Most of us who share the same understanding of the Gospel (remember the five distinctives we have often referred to) have no qualms in sharing communion as we regard each other as brothers and sisters in Christ on the basis of our belief in the Gospel.

        Please don’t reply till I have had time to consider your more recent and still unanswered post, and those of any other.

         Smiley
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        « Reply #84 on: January 07, 2009, 02:06:14 PM »

        Ignatius and GreekChef: Every denomination of Christianity teach their own means of interpreting passages of the Sacred Scriptures to distinguish themselves from other Christians… Why is it that Protestants hold to a tradition and yet deny Holy Tradition?

        Is it simply because that is what your conscience tells you?

        Why put your trust in sources so far removed?


        These are very good questions, penetrating to the heart of why we believe what we do when we become Christians, and why we remain in that position or indeed why we change our beliefs. I feel the answer in my soul, but I am not at all sure I can articulate it.

        Firstly, ignatius is right: we have our tradition as truly as you do. Why do we trust it?

        I am fairly sure I can say it is not “because that is what our conscience tells us”, if that means we regard ourselves as individuals as the yardstick or plumbline, the arbiters of truth. It is certainly wider than that, nearer to ignatius's words.

        On the other hand, we do not regard our tradition as binding, as authoritative, in the way you do. We must be somewhere between the individual arbiter idea and the binding Holy Tradition idea. So what do we believe and practice?

        In reality, of course, as doubtless with yourselves, there are many Baptists and other Evangelicals who believe what they believe without a great deal of thinking about it. They search neither the scriptures nor the Protestant Fathers (if there is such a phrase) to verify their beliefs. They believe what they do because their parents, their Sunday School teachers, their pastors told them what is the truth, and they are content simply to trust that.

        But I do not think you are asking about simple, uncomplicated believers of this sort, such as are found among us both. I think you are asking about people who have the double privilege of academic thought and education, and are in the position of weighing up their faith, confirming or changing it. Why do such remain as Evangelicals? Or perhaps you are asking, why do I?

        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.

        That, I think, is how it works in practice. It is a tradition, but its hold is less strong, or less formal, than yours.

        I hope that goes some way to answering the points raised by ignatius and GreekChef. One more post of the latter to consider, and I’ve caught up!  Smiley

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        « Reply #85 on: January 07, 2009, 04:31:25 PM »


        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...
        With the exception of "unless I am preaching them myself" (for obvious reasons), you just described us (I deleted the part where it differs)!!!  Though for Orthodox, there is much in addition to what has been said above.  To be honest, it seems to me that Protestants adhere to their tradition just as faithfully and rigidly (if not more so) than we Orthodox do.  It's just a different tradition-- it is a tradition of rejecting tradition.  It is, I believe, hypocritical to criticize the Orthodox (not that you do this, just in general) for adhering to the Holy Tradition because "tradition takes away from Scripture," when, in fact, Protestants do the exact same thing!  It's just a matter of which tradition is correct... and by that I mean, which one leads us to the correct belief?  Because that is the ultimate goal of both traditions... to lead us to the correct belief.  And since both beliefs can't be right... which one is it?  That's rhetorical, by the way.  Just stating the logical next questions... and not implying anything either.  It's just my humble opinion.

        Quote
        That, I think, is how it works in practice. It is a tradition, but its hold is less strong, or less formal, than yours.
        I wouldn't say less strong at all.  Nor would I say less formal (with the exception of worship-- ours is obviously more formal).  I might say more organized and uniform, so that we all end up in the correct belief... not leaving anyone to their own devices.

        Quote
        I hope that goes some way to answering the points raised by ignatius and GreekChef. One more post of the latter to consider, and I’ve caught up!  Smiley

        Thanks again for being so patient!  I know I jump on the posts fast, and I'm rather long winded.  I'm trying to work on both.  I just get so excited because I love our discussions!!!  I'm hoping one of our new members O Prophetes will join in here soon!  He is a dear friend who has just joined the forum... I have told him of our discussions and he was eager to read!  Welcome, O Prophetes, my friend!!!  Or, rather, more correctly, WELCOME, PROPHITE!!!

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        « Reply #86 on: January 07, 2009, 06:54:01 PM »

        It is, I believe, hypocritical to criticize the Orthodox ... for adhering to the Holy Tradition ... when, in fact, Protestants do the exact same thing!  It's just a matter of which tradition is correct...

        I sometimes suspect you Americans use the word 'hypocritical' in a different sense from ours here in Britain, where it tends to mean being deliberately and knowingly sly so as to create an undeserved good impression. For I do not think Protestants realise that they are in fact doing exactly what you have just said. They think they are adhering to the truth, whereas you are either adding to it or subtracting from it - certainly distorting it - by your Tradition (though they would not use the capital T). In fact Protestants are often held as fast in traditions as anyone else.

        At least you have good reason for doing so, for you genuinely believe your Tradition is authoritative, whereas, if pressed, a Protestant would say he does not believe his is. In fact he can't see that he has got traditions. He believes all his religion is no more than the simple truth. But in reality the truth - though I believe it is there at the heart of it all - is encrusted by new traditions. Even the 'new churches' started recently by Charismatics quickly develop their own traditions, even their own jargon.

        But much of that is on a different level from what I attempted to describe in my earlier post, of how and why we (including me) thinkingly and reverently attempt to keep ourselves within the truer, more theological, ecclesiological and spiritual tradition of our Protestant heritage in doctrine and devotion. This I believe we do in a sustained and sincere attempt to walk humbly before the Lord. But it is a sad thing that we so often fail to perceive that your motive in what you are doing is exactly the same.
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        « Reply #87 on: January 08, 2009, 12:37:26 AM »

        I sometimes suspect you Americans use the word 'hypocritical' in a different sense from ours here in Britain, where it tends to mean being deliberately and knowingly sly so as to create an undeserved good impression. For I do not think Protestants realise that they are in fact doing exactly what you have just said. They think they are adhering to the truth, whereas you are either adding to it or subtracting from it - certainly distorting it - by your Tradition (though they would not use the capital T). In fact Protestants are often held as fast in traditions as anyone else.

        At least you have good reason for doing so, for you genuinely believe your Tradition is authoritative, whereas, if pressed, a Protestant would say he does not believe his is. In fact he can't see that he has got traditions. He believes all his religion is no more than the simple truth. But in reality the truth - though I believe it is there at the heart of it all - is encrusted by new traditions. Even the 'new churches' started recently by Charismatics quickly develop their own traditions, even their own jargon.

        But much of that is on a different level from what I attempted to describe in my earlier post, of how and why we (including me) thinkingly and reverently attempt to keep ourselves within the truer, more theological, ecclesiological and spiritual tradition of our Protestant heritage in doctrine and devotion. This I believe we do in a sustained and sincere attempt to walk humbly before the Lord. But it is a sad thing that we so often fail to perceive that your motive in what you are doing is exactly the same.

        Grace and Peace David Young,

        I have always been a active supporter of 'Reformation...  Huh' Christians coming onto the forum and talking among Orthodox Christians. I believe it is important for everyone to get to know one another. Early in my life I was raised Baptist (Freewill) on my fathers' side and my mother was Roman Catholic... and as one might expect they fought like cats and dogs.  Roll Eyes

        I always asked how one knew a particular passage in the Sacred Text should be interpreted in the way they taught in Bible School and they would always reference other passages and that made sense to me until I realized that different Bibles had different Chain-Referencing Systems that taught differing doctrines. I grew to distrust them and eventually I grew to distrust Christianity altogether and fell-away for many years until I met my wife who was a pious Baptist young lady. She showed me through her example that there was something more to the Faith and we were married at her Baptist Church. I tried to learn Baptist Theology better as an adult but found it confusing and at times contradictory. My best man, at our wedding, was a Russian Orthodox Reader but he had never really shared with me his faith. I was invited to his child's Baptism and things but I really never thought about 'me' being a member of such a tight community. After years of great frustration in the Roman Catholic Church my friend sent me all of his Orthodox Liturgical Textbooks and he fell away from the Faith. I could never understand where he was coming from when we finally did begin to talk about Christianity and the differences between Eastern and Western Christianity. I finally found a little community near me of Orthodox Christians at a little house-church (Orthodox Mission). I originally came to ask the Priest 'how could a Christian fall away from the Orthodox Faith for Buddhism' and that began regular Wednesday Vespers and Saturday Great Vespers and eventually Divine Liturgies.

        Personally, I can't tell you why Holy Orthodoxy is truth but I can tell you that it works. I was a devout Roman Catholic for years struggling with a Church which had lost it's identity a generation ago and trying to revive it so that it could revive me. I argued and debated and read and read and read but it really never fulfilled me nor healed me. I struggled in sins and almost gave up until something began to happen within me. That little Orthodox Mission strengthened me and the Priest has been so kind and patient with me and my family. I'm finding peace and I'm finding healing and I'm living my faith and no longer studying it. For me that is why I am Orthodox because it where I am alive and although it wasn't my first choice or even my second... it's where I find Christ working to heal me. I don't need any other proof than this. Within her is life and it more abundantly and so I know Christ is there.
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        « Reply #88 on: January 08, 2009, 06:16:15 AM »

        Ignatius / GreekChef - a further thought on tradition

        It has also occurred to me that our Protestant tradition is rather different from yours in this way too: that it gives us a fair amount of leeway regarding what we believe and practise.

        For example, one may believe in infant or believers’ baptism; in predestination or freewill; in an episcopal, presbyterian or congregational church order; in the continuance or cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; on Sunday observance as the sabbath or all days alike; in a zwinglian ‘bare memorial’ Communion or a more sacramental view; and doubtless many other variations - all without being taken thereby out of the tradition. This is why my own theology, for example, has shifted a number of times over the past 45 years or so. But I have never moved out of Protestant spirituality and teaching.

        There are of course changes which would definitely make one cease to be an Evangelical, such as the authority of scripture, justification by faith, the Trinity, the deity and resurrection of Christ, his virgin birth and various other teachings (most of them shared with you, of course, and with the Romanists).

        I have written this before reading ignatius's latest post, so I hope this is still apposite. More later perhaps.
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        « Reply #89 on: January 08, 2009, 07:10:40 AM »

        Yes, but it is the New Testament that is the primary source. Later writings are secondary (tertiary, etc…).

        Excellent retort! Brief, succient, strategic, and accurate.
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        « Reply #90 on: January 08, 2009, 08:21:31 AM »

        How can the New Testament be the primary source since its first book was written at least thirty years after Jesus' ascension?

        In which part of the New Testament is it written that the New Testament will be the only source for faith and resolving possible theological disputes?

        Ironically, the doctrine of Sola Scriptura (which is a modern Protestant dogma), was invented by a member of the Roman Church. There is no single verse in the New Testament to support this innovated Protestant dogma.
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        « Reply #91 on: January 08, 2009, 09:58:24 AM »

        How can the New Testament be the primary source since its first book was written at least thirty years after Jesus' ascension?

        Probably not that long, as 1 Thessalonians was probably penned around 50 AD. Nonetheless, that does not invalidate your point. The NT is the furthest back we can go; before that, all was oral, or was written in documents which have not survived.

        Quote
        In which part of the New Testament is it written that the New Testament will be the only source for faith and resolving possible theological disputes?

        It isn't - and even if it was, it might seem like a circular argument. But we all, RC, Orthodox, Protestant, do agree that these documents are God-given, divinely inspired and are authoritative.

        Quote
        Sola Scriptura ...is a modern Protestant dogma

        Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved by clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures. - Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.17

        We could probably bandy quotations about for no small while. The question is not "Is it old?" but "Is it true?" The problem then is, that much ink has been spilled on this discussion over the centuries such that of the making of many books there is no end - for your view, for the Roman view, for our view. Philosophically speaking, they can all be bolstered by cogent and persuasive lines of reasoning. I guess age and philosophy in themselves will not settle the matter. What this thread is doing, if nothing else, is driving each of us to ask not "What do I believe?" but "Why do I believe it?"
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        « Reply #92 on: January 08, 2009, 10:04:49 AM »

        How can the New Testament be the primary source since its first book was written at least thirty years after Jesus' ascension?

        Probably not that long, as 1 Thessalonians was probably penned around 50 AD. Nonetheless, that does not invalidate your point. The NT is the furthest back we can go; before that, all was oral, or was written in documents which have not survived.
        So we can't go back to the oral tradition?

        Sola Scriptura ...is a modern Protestant dogma
        The question is not "Is it old?" but "Is it true?"
        And in the case of Sola Scriptura, it is neither. The issue here is not that the doctrine is new, but that it has been believed by very few people. Since it is modern, none in the medieval or ancient world believed it, and since it is Protestant, the majority of modern Christians do not believe it. How can we say the doctrine is true when the vast majority of Christians have neither believed nor taught it?
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        « Reply #93 on: January 08, 2009, 11:04:39 AM »


        Probably not that long, as 1 Thessalonians was probably penned around 50 AD. Nonetheless, that does not invalidate your point. The NT is the furthest back we can go; before that, all was oral, or was written in documents which have not survived.

        This proves that the Church existed prior to the New Testament and preceded the Holy Scripture. The Protestant dogma of the Sola Scriptura is not compatible with the fact that Jesus did not leave a scripture for His followers. Even the Gospels were not dictated by Christ! Could you please tell me who determined to create the Christian scripture?

        It isn't - and even if it was, it might seem like a circular argument. But we all, RC, Orthodox, Protestant, do agree that these documents are God-given, divinely inspired and are authoritative.

        My point is that the Protestant dogma of Sola Scriptura was an innovation. This is why not a single verse of the whole New Testament endorses the heresy taught by Luther. It is a baseless assertion.

        Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved by clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures. - Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 4.17

        We could probably bandy quotations about for no small while. The question is not "Is it old?" but "Is it true?" The problem then is, that much ink has been spilled on this discussion over the centuries such that of the making of many books there is no end - for your view, for the Roman view, for our view. Philosophically speaking, they can all be bolstered by cogent and persuasive lines of reasoning. I guess age and philosophy in themselves will not settle the matter. What this thread is doing, if nothing else, is driving each of us to ask not "What do I believe?" but "Why do I believe it?"

        Let's apply this quote to the head of the Protestant dogmas:

        "Do not be led astray by winning words and clever arguments. Even to me, who tell you these things, do not give ready belief, unless you receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of the things which I announce. The salvation in which we believe is not proved by clever reasoning, but from the Holy Scriptures." Martin Luther, the founder of Reformist Churches.

        I tested Luther and saw that none of his dogmas are supported by the scripture.

        As for Cyril's statement, who is to determine if one's teachings are supported by the Scripture? Many Christians PRESUMED that Arius' doctrine was fully supported by the Scripture before the Council of Nicea. It seems that your reference to Cyril is taken out of its proper context.

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        « Reply #94 on: January 08, 2009, 01:34:38 PM »

        Ignatius / GreekChef - a further thought on tradition

        It has also occurred to me that our Protestant tradition is rather different from yours in this way too: that it gives us a fair amount of leeway regarding what we believe and practise.

        For example, one may believe in infant or believers’ baptism; in predestination or freewill; in an episcopal, presbyterian or congregational church order; in the continuance or cessation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit; on Sunday observance as the sabbath or all days alike; in a zwinglian ‘bare memorial’ Communion or a more sacramental view; and doubtless many other variations - all without being taken thereby out of the tradition. This is why my own theology, for example, has shifted a number of times over the past 45 years or so. But I have never moved out of Protestant spirituality and teaching.

        There are of course changes which would definitely make one cease to be an Evangelical, such as the authority of scripture, justification by faith, the Trinity, the deity and resurrection of Christ, his virgin birth and various other teachings (most of them shared with you, of course, and with the Romanists).

        I have written this before reading ignatius's latest post, so I hope this is still apposite. More later perhaps.

        But you see, you have just proved our point as to why the philosophy of Sola Scriptura is built on a house of sand. You do not see these differances in faith within the Orthodox Church. Furthermore, within the Protestant denominations, it isn't just simple things like infant baptism vs believer's baptism that causes division. The ordination of women and homosexuals, the very belief in the Trinity, the continual practice of Judaic law, the question of belief of the Real Presence in the Eucharist; these are all issues that cause division within the many denominations of Protestantism. The irony is that each of these "churches" were founded by "Bible believing" Christians!

        Baptists believe in "Believer's baptism" and Methodists allow infant baptism. Whose interpretation of scripture is correct?  Huh

        Oneness Pentecostals refute the belief in the Trinity based on their interpretation of scripture. Are they correct?  Huh

        Lutherans in the Missouri Synod believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharast and Evangelical Lutherans do not. Who is correct?  Huh

        Christians in the Messianic movement believe in upholding Kosher law while the rest of Christianity happily eats bacon. Who is right?

        Anglicans and members of the Church of Christ believe in the ordination of women, homosexuals, and trans-gender individuals while Baptists do not. Who is right?

        Whose interpretation of scripture (because all of the above is supposidly based on scripture) is correct?

        These are not "minor" traditions/beliefs that can be swept under the rug; these are major issues that are critical to our salvation.

        When the Orthodox speak of "minor" traditions, we speak of things like going up to venerate the cross at the end of Liturgy verses receiving antidoran and kissing the priest's hand at the end of Liturgy. THAT is a minor tradition. THAT is not critical to our salvation.

        Questioning the existance of the Trinity -- that's a whole other ball of wax my friend.
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        « Reply #95 on: January 08, 2009, 03:05:58 PM »

        1) the philosophy of Sola Scriptura is built on a house of sand.
        2) Oneness Pentecostals refute the belief in the Trinity .... Are they correct?  Huh
        3) Christians in the Messianic movement believe in upholding Kosher law while the rest of Christianity happily eats bacon. Who is right?
        4) Anglicans and members of the Church of Christ believe in the ordination of women, homosexuals, and trans-gender individuals while Baptists do not. Who is right?

        What is sometimes called a very porcupine post - it has many points!  Smiley I shall try to address them:

        1) You are really mixing two matters which are not the same. On the one hand, you (I mean y'all, not just this post) are trying to convince us that 'sola scriptura' is an error. On the other hand, you are trying to convince us that Orthodox's Holy Tradition is true. These are not the same issue. Logically, we and you might both be wrong. By all means try to convince us of both, but gaining one point is not gaining both. They need to be dealt with separately.

        2) Surely you and we would agree that any non-trinitarian religion is not Christian. It may be an offshoot of Christiantiy, but it has departed from the faith. These people have done so, as surely as you rightly say Arius did from you.

        3) Who is right? Neither - or both. It depends on their motive. If Messianic Christians are voluntarily submitting to the Law in order to get alongside and eventually win other Jews to Christ, whilst not seeing it as part of their access to salvation, they are right; if they are saying that other Christians must also obey the Mosaic Law, they are wrong. If Gentile Christians are setting the Law aside with theological understanding, they are right; if they are doing it when they are guests in a situation (say, in Israel or among Orthodox Jews) where it would give gross cultural offence and turn people away from the Gospel, I suspect they are wrong.

        4) Who is right? Baptists are! In fact you are once more mixing two unrelated matters. If we are discussing the proposition that our faith and practice must be taken from scripture, those who disregard the scriptures which forbid women to preach and which call sexual perversions an abomination which debar people from the Kingdom, then those people who do these things, whatever name they use as a cloak for their practices, have departed far from the proposition we are discussing. I view such deviations within the body I belong to with deep shame; they are an offence. But they are not relevant to the discussion as to where authority for faith and practice lies.
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        « Reply #96 on: January 08, 2009, 03:24:48 PM »

        The ordination of women

        I have in fact puzzled long over this – for no small tale of years. Here is the riddle: why does God make rules, then bless people abundantly who break them? Maybe this is an entirely in-house Evangelical dilemma which carries no meaning for you, but at least please note that I am not unaware of the matters you raise.

        For example, the Methodists have always had women preachers, yet God plainly forbids women to preach and to exercise authority over the church. Why did I go recently to a Methodist church to tell them about the Lord’s work among Albanians, and find a warm, believing, prayerful, sincere congregation of Christians yet with a woman minister? It is a mystery to me. I could, of course, ask why God had made more use over the past, say, 300 years of people who practise infant baptism than of those who baptise believers. I could adduce further illustrations of the enigma.

        My conclusion, for what it’s worth, can be expressed in two ways:

        1) God has liberty to overflow his own parameters – to ‘break his own rules’ – but requires his people to obey them wherever they know and understand them.

        2) The word grace:  God is filled with super-abounding grace, and is entirely at liberty to pour out that grace upon whomever he will, regardless of the accuracy and proper character of their praxis.
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        « Reply #97 on: January 08, 2009, 03:36:20 PM »

        1) God has liberty to overflow his own parameters – to ‘break his own rules’ – but requires his people to obey them wherever they know and understand them.

        2) The word grace:  God is filled with super-abounding grace, and is entirely at liberty to pour out that grace upon whomever he will, regardless of the accuracy and proper character of their praxis.


        First of all, God does not break his own "rules".  To us lowly mortals it certainly seems like He does because we operate along the lines of fair play that whenever something doesn't mesh or sounds contradictory.  God can never be moral in the minds of our limited understanding.

        Also, praxis does line up with belief.  The latin phrase lex orandi, lex credendi, the law of prayer is the law of faith.  The two line up and cannot be divorced.  That is why we Orthodox balk whenever we hear of Protestants who claim to believe the same things as we do, but then practice it in a way wholly contradictory to that of Tradition (i.e. Scripture and unwritten teachings from the Apostles). 

        That doesn't mean, however, that the grace of God is inherently reserved for those who are strictly in line with everything.
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        « Reply #98 on: January 08, 2009, 03:53:35 PM »

        1) the philosophy of Sola Scriptura is built on a house of sand.
        2) Oneness Pentecostals refute the belief in the Trinity .... Are they correct?  Huh
        3) Christians in the Messianic movement believe in upholding Kosher law while the rest of Christianity happily eats bacon. Who is right?
        4) Anglicans and members of the Church of Christ believe in the ordination of women, homosexuals, and trans-gender individuals while Baptists do not. Who is right?

        What is sometimes called a very porcupine post - it has many points!  Smiley I shall try to address them:

        1) You are really mixing two matters which are not the same. On the one hand, you (I mean y'all, not just this post) are trying to convince us that 'sola scriptura' is an error. On the other hand, you are trying to convince us that Orthodox's Holy Tradition is true. These are not the same issue. Logically, we and you might both be wrong. By all means try to convince us of both, but gaining one point is not gaining both. They need to be dealt with separately.

        2) Surely you and we would agree that any non-trinitarian religion is not Christian. It may be an offshoot of Christiantiy, but it has departed from the faith. These people have done so, as surely as you rightly say Arius did from you.

        3) Who is right? Neither - or both. It depends on their motive. If Messianic Christians are voluntarily submitting to the Law in order to get alongside and eventually win other Jews to Christ, whilst not seeing it as part of their access to salvation, they are right; if they are saying that other Christians must also obey the Mosaic Law, they are wrong. If Gentile Christians are setting the Law aside with theological understanding, they are right; if they are doing it when they are guests in a situation (say, in Israel or among Orthodox Jews) where it would give gross cultural offence and turn people away from the Gospel, I suspect they are wrong.

        4) Who is right? Baptists are! In fact you are once more mixing two unrelated matters. If we are discussing the proposition that our faith and practice must be taken from scripture, those who disregard the scriptures which forbid women to preach and which call sexual perversions an abomination which debar people from the Kingdom, then those people who do these things, whatever name they use as a cloak for their practices, have departed far from the proposition we are discussing. I view such deviations within the body I belong to with deep shame; they are an offence. But they are not relevant to the discussion as to where authority for faith and practice lies.


        I think you mis-understood me, or perhaps I communicated myself poorly. My questions were rhetorical in nature, and not so much to figure out which party was right and which was wrong, but rather to point out that the above groups (with the excpetion of the Anglicans) are Sola Scriptura, yet ALL of them have very different contrasting beliefs. You stated that there aren't divisions of importance within Protestantism, and I feel that there are. These breaches exist because each person in the Protestant belief is their own "Pope" if you will, and does not concern themselves with Holy Tradition, the teachings of the Early Church Fathers, or Church History. When you have no rudder to stear your ship, you are bound to float where ever the wind blows you, regardless of what your destination may be.
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        « Reply #99 on: January 08, 2009, 06:30:53 PM »

        GreekChef I confess I am losing track of where we are up to, but I think this is your only post to which I have made no reply at all, because it required a deal of attention.


        Let's delete Calvin from the list, and stick with Luther, Wesley and the like.
        May I ask why we are deleting him from the list?  He is hugely influential... at least, in the US.


        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.

        Quote
        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...

        Quote
        what must we know to attain salvation.

        Quote
        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.

        Quote
        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.

        Quote
        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.

        Quote
        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.

        Quote
        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.

        Quote
        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 Orthodoxy

        GC: And just out of curiosity, how does one rationalize that...?

        Most 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.

        Quote
        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.

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        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.

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        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.

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        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.

        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?
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        « Reply #100 on: January 09, 2009, 12:42:31 PM »


        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.
        LOVE THIS!  Smiley

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        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.

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        what must we know to attain salvation.

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        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.

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        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.

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        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?

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        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).

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        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.

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        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. 

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        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 Orthodoxy

        GC: And just out of curiosity, how does one rationalize that...?
        Most 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.
        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?

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        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! 

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        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!

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        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?

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        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...

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        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.  Smiley
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        « Reply #101 on: January 09, 2009, 01:44:26 PM »

        May I crave a pause?!
        Again, sorry to have overwhelmed you.  I'm trying to work on my long-winded side.  I just get so excited at our exchanges!  They are so thought provoking!  I love it!


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        1) Was the NT church as uniform as you maintain? It seems to me that already there were at least two 'denominations', one keeping to the Law of Moses, one setting it aside - though they remained in communion of course. I need convincing that it had not developed at least a bit further by the following century.
        I'm not sure what you mean by this... could you be a little more specific, please?
        My immediate response would be to say that of course there were kinks, of course there were heresies popping up here and there, and of course the organizational structure was still developing.  But what was important was the unity of the faith.  And that was most surely there.  If you can be a little more specific, though, maybe I can address what you are speaking of more clearly.

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        2) Are the writings of Ignatius et al representative of their own day, or of the much later church which preserved them, collated them, and presented them to the world?
        I would say yes, they were representative of their own day.  I say for several reasons, not the least of which is because he was Bishop of Antioch, and was ordained by Peter himself.  So Peter obviously approved.  As the Church is of a conciliar nature and has always made decisions of doctrine in a conciliar fashion (so that the conscience of the Church-- the Holy Spirit--will work), if his teachings had been in error, the Church would have spoken against it and he would have been removed and regarded as a heretic to this day.  But he was not.  I'm sure others will be able to answer this better than I have as well.

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        3) Are you Orthodox really any more consistent than we are? I readily grant an inexplicable inconsistency within Evangelicalism, in that a group will insist on a literal interpretation of its own favourite passages, and on a non-literal one of other passages. (For example, some say you must believe the world was made in 6 24-hour days not long ago, but use grape juice or worse for the Communion.) But surely you do the same: you insist on a literal interpretation of the Eucharist passages, but you arrive at infant baptism (which does not actually appear in the NT) by a somewhat convoluted argument. (I am aware of the arguments: no need to rehearse them here; I'm just saying that if you followed scripture as literally for baptism as you do for the Eucharist, you would only immerse believers. That is, we're as bad as each other - or shall we rather say, as inconsistent?).
        I don't agree with that as far as infant baptism at all.  There is a thread active right now about that ("Believer's Baptism").  Feel free to check it out and you will see that there is, in fact, NT support. 

        Do you have another example of our inconsistency?  I ask not because I am going to knock them down one by one, but because I can't off hand think of one, and thus it is difficult for me to address this.

        The other difference, though, I would say, is that even if that was inconsistent, it is A) still consistent throughout ALL of Orthodoxy (unlike Protestantism), and B) was the practice of the Early Church.  So I guess you'd have to ask them about the inconsistency (if there were one).  Smiley

        There is a difference between inconsistency and innovation, would you agree?  I think they are separate issue.  The innovation is the biggest problem in Protestantism.  It is an innovation to NOT baptize infants (just using that as one example, since you gave it above).  So even if that was an inconsistency (which we established we disagree over), it is NOT an innovation and was an accepted practice of the early church.  In this case, you would have to look at those together.  Am I making sense?
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        « Reply #102 on: January 10, 2009, 05:05:39 AM »

        Briefly for now:

        Where is the baptism thread? I thought I'd scoured all the relevant forums, but haven't hit upon it. I'd like to take a look at it. The trouble with contributing to several threads at once is that it is easy to lose track of what has been said, where, when, and by whom (even by oneself!). But this does sound interesting, and I dare say (if I'm currently the only Baptist writing on the threads - maybe I'm not?) I ought to put in my pennyworth.

        On that theme, thank you to whoever it was who pointed me to Shenouda III. He was really appreciated at Wednesday's Bible church at church.
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        « Reply #103 on: January 10, 2009, 02:16:04 PM »

        ^^ Here's the link:
        http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14769.0.html

        It's found in the Orthodox-Other Christian Discussion forum (but not in the child boards-- just the general forum).

        See you there!
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        « Reply #104 on: January 11, 2009, 04:22:58 PM »

        Briefly for now:

        Where is the baptism thread? I thought I'd scoured all the relevant forums, but haven't hit upon it. I'd like to take a look at it. The trouble with contributing to several threads at once is that it is easy to lose track of what has been said, where, when, and by whom (even by oneself!). But this does sound interesting, and I dare say (if I'm currently the only Baptist writing on the threads - maybe I'm not?) I ought to put in my pennyworth.

        On that theme, thank you to whoever it was who pointed me to Shenouda III. He was really appreciated at Wednesday's Bible church at church.
        I think this may be the thread you want:

        http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,14769.0.html

        In it we have been discussing the Protestant idea of "believer's baptism" in comparison with the traditional practice of baptising infants.
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        « Reply #105 on: January 11, 2009, 06:54:18 PM »


        1) Was the NT church as uniform as you maintain? It seems to me that already there were at least two 'denominations', one keeping to the Law of Moses, one setting it aside - though they remained in communion of course. I need convincing that it had not developed at least a bit further by the following century.

        I'm not sure what you mean by this... could you be a little more specific, please?
        Ignatius... he was Bishop of Antioch, and was ordained by Peter himself. 

        I haven't worked out how to get the quote boxes within a bigger, overall quote box, so I hope the above is clear. If it is correct, it's pure fluke!

        I can't address the whole of your two long posts just now, but I have been giving a little thought to these two simple matters.

        In re what might anachronistically be called incipient 'denominations' even within the New Testament church, I was thinking primarily of the difference between Paul's Gentile congregations and the Jerusalem and other Jewish churches, especially associated with James the Lord's brother (not that you believe He had a brother! - but that would lead to yet another thread, and I think I really would lose track of where we've got to). There were Stephen and the Hellenists. There was the johannine circle, with its different emphases from Paul's, which seem to have developed over the centuries so that you get today's western and eastern churches. There is enormously heavy emphasis on Paul and forensic justification over here in Britain (the west). But have you ever tried to buy an icon of Paul in Greece (the east)? Yet those of John (o agios Ioannis theologos) are ubiquitous over there.

        My point was that these were already different in emphasis; regarding the Law they were also different in theology, or at least in practice.  They agreed to work largely separately. But they all held the same central Gospel, and remained in fellowship, giving each other the right hand thereof.

        My point is twofold:

        1) There was time, between what our Lord said (on which we all agree) around 27 AD and what the first two witnesses to your belief about the Eucharist (Ignatius, Justin) wrote ca 90 and 120 years later, for theology to have developed beyond what our Lord actually said and intended.

        2) It is not unreasonable to believe that there can be different Christian denominations who hold the same central Gospel, and which all contain genuine believers in Christ, brothers and sisters belonging to him.

        Regarding the second point (Peter's and John's contact with the apostolic Fathers), you repeatedly assert this, but in reading about them in books of literature and of church history, I find no mention of this. One book said this used, erroneously, to be believed; another that nothing is known of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, beyond his epistles. Hence, you have yet to establish your claim that these men were in fact direct disciples and appointees of the apostles. What sources can you cite for this assertion?

        I believe there are two kinds of churchly tradition: (a) the one which  believes that the scriptures are the only God-given source of revelation, and (b) that which holds that there are (at least) two separate and independent sources of revelation, namely scripture and tradition. In (a), the role of tradition is to give the correct and agreed interpretation of scripture, to sustain that consensus within the church through the centuries. I believe you hold that Orthodox Holy Tradition is of type (a) - a continuous consensus of right interpretation of the scriptures, going back unbrokenly to the Apostles and the Lord. Am I understanding you aright? Or are you saying that in Tradition you have a separate, additional source of revelation? (I need at least to understand clearly what it is we are discussing.)
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        « Reply #106 on: January 11, 2009, 08:14:35 PM »

        1) There was time, between what our Lord said (on which we all agree) around 27 AD and what the first two witnesses to your belief about the Eucharist (Ignatius, Justin) wrote ca 90 and 120 years later, for theology to have developed beyond what our Lord actually said and intended.
        Time, certainly; but what makes you so sure that there would be none who would believe the Orthodox teaching of the Eucharist until St. Ignatius and Justin Martyr? Could it be that you, seeing the drastic change in your Baptist religion in the past seventy years, have a hard time believing that we would not change in the same amount of time, even with far fewer numbers then?

        2) It is not unreasonable to believe that there can be different Christian denominations who hold the same central Gospel, and which all contain genuine believers in Christ, brothers and sisters belonging to him.
        I submit that such a belief is in fact unreasonable, as St. Paul wrote: "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!" (Gal. 1:Cool. The Greek word used there is αναθεμα. St. Paul anathematized all those who would preach any Gospel other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ, even himself if he were to preach it. So no, there cannot be different Gospels; there cannot be conflicts within the Church as to who Christ is. If the Baptists preach that God is Trinity, and the Oneness Pentecostals that God is unity manifested in three ways, how can they hold to the same Gospel? Are they not preaching different gods? When the Catholics pray to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Baptists to the Son only, how can they hold to the same Gospel? Are they not preaching different gods?

        No, "there is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all" (Eph. 4:4-6). There are not many faiths; there are not many baptisms; there are not many bodies--just as there are not many gods, but One. If a person preach a faith other than the one faith which the Apostles preached, they are anathema. Full stop. It is simply unreasonable to say that we can disagree about who Christ is, and yet have the same Gospel.

        Regarding the second point (Peter's and John's contact with the apostolic Fathers), you repeatedly assert this, but in reading about them in books of literature and of church history, I find no mention of this. One book said this used, erroneously, to be believed; another that nothing is known of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, beyond his epistles. Hence, you have yet to establish your claim that these men were in fact direct disciples and appointees of the apostles. What sources can you cite for this assertion?
        Here is a list of the apostolic succession, real or claimed, of all bishops, Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican:

        http://www.friesian.com/popes.htm

        So Patriarch Bartholomew got his authority from Pat. Demetrios, who got it from Pat. Athenagoras, who got it from Pat. Maximos, who got it from Pat. Benjamin, who got it from Pat. Photios,...

        (several minutes later)

        who got it from St. Onesimus, who got it from St. Stachys, who got it from St. Andrew, who got it from Christ. Each of these received their authority (except of course Christ) from a synod of bishops who laid hands on them and prayed for them to receive the authority, just as prescribed in Acts 13.

        I believe there are two kinds of churchly tradition: (a) the one which  believes that the scriptures are the only God-given source of revelation, and (b) that which holds that there are (at least) two separate and independent sources of revelation, namely scripture and tradition. In (a), the role of tradition is to give the correct and agreed interpretation of scripture, to sustain that consensus within the church through the centuries. I believe you hold that Orthodox Holy Tradition is of type (a) - a continuous consensus of right interpretation of the scriptures, going back unbrokenly to the Apostles and the Lord. Am I understanding you aright? Or are you saying that in Tradition you have a separate, additional source of revelation? (I need at least to understand clearly what it is we are discussing.)
        The only source of revelation is God Himself. Whether He accomplishes this through the Scriptures or other sources of Tradition makes no difference to us. Scripture and Tradition are not separate in our eyes. Scripture is part of Tradition, as is anything else which proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and points us to His Church and away from heresy.
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        « Reply #107 on: January 11, 2009, 10:04:53 PM »

        Yes, but it is the New Testament that is the primary source. Later writings are secondary (tertiary, etc…).

        Excellent retort! Brief, succient, strategic, and accurate.


        Now only if you could produce the autograph of that primary source.

        No.  The original autographs are primary sources.  The NT, i.e. the canon, is a secondary redaction.
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        « Reply #108 on: January 12, 2009, 02:12:08 AM »

        Yes, but it is the New Testament that is the primary source. Later writings are secondary (tertiary, etc…).

        Actually, from my point of view--as a historian-in-training, this is incorrect.

        We can divide the NT in three sections: the Gospels (Acts being included with the Gospel of St. Luke); the Epistles; and Revelation.

        According to scholars, the Gospel of St. Mark was the earliest to be written down, ca. 65-135. FYI Ignatius was consecrated Bishop of Antioch in ca. 66, so Ignatius is actually contemporary to the Apostles and the Gospels. Also, it is interesting to note that St. Mark was actually martyred for the faith in AD 68, which would mean that it is very possible that he did not actually write his Gospel. For our purposes here, I shall agree with the universal mind of the Church and agree that it WAS written by Mark.

        Now that aside, the Gospels were set against the backdrop of a culture based on oral story-telling. Higher education was not all that common, and to be honest not all that necessary for a typical person of this time and place. Thus when accounts were given, you made sure that you got all the main points. One Protestant scholar has likened this to a modified game of "Telephone." In this game, a group sit in a circle or line, one person starts off by whispering a message which is passed on to each person. Typically, the resulting message is very different than the original. In the analogy, a modified game model is used, where every once in awhile one turns back to a person three spots behind them and asks, "Is that how it really was?" thus ensuring that the oral account is accurate on all the main points and key details.

        This is how it was with the Apostles. We cannot assume they were present at every moment, nor can we assume that they were paying attention to every little detail with the aim of writing a Book the likes of which has never been seen. Certain disciples may remember certain miracles in a different light, or differently altogether. These have to be reconciled and consulted. Assuming Mark wrote his Gospel around 65 AD, this was a good three decades after the Lord's Ascension and Resurrection. Now granted, those are pretty major events to witness first hand. I would also like to keep in mind that after seeing something like that, other miracles might pale in comparison.

        As a result, I would have to say that the Gospel of Mark was written by him shortly before his martyrdom, in consultation with a broader Christian community. It inerrantly proclaims the Living Gospel of Jesus Christ, accurately recording the major points and important details of the events included. Nevertheless, it is historically speaking an account written an entire generation distant from those events, and I would say it cannot be seen as primary, but rather as a commentary of first-hand accounts. Other such examples abound, Paul of course never met the Lord while the Lord was here on Earth, his accounts are based on those of others, and so on and so forth.

        The same with Ignatius and other Church Fathers. They are there to provide commentary, as a second hand source. I do believe that St. Ignatius was ordained a bishop at the hands of Apostles, and I do believe that they held fast to the Apostles Doctrine. I do believe his epistles are on par with Scripture.

        The primary source is, in my eyes, Holy Tradition. The Living Expression of the Church and the inherent truth that God became man, so that man may become God. The Church Fathers the Scriptures, the worship, the iconography, all are expressions of this Tradition, and it is in this tradition that we are called to....much like Joseph and Mary were called out of Egypt in today's Old Calendar Gospel reading.
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        « Reply #109 on: January 12, 2009, 06:46:05 AM »

        what makes you so sure that there would be none who would believe the Orthodox teaching of the Eucharist until St. Ignatius and Justin Martyr?

        I didn't say there was none; what I said is that these men's writings are the first written witnesses that we possess today to that belief.
        Quote
        The Greek word used there is αναθεμα.

        As an aside, please tell me how to get Greek characters on to the threads. I can only get rows of squares.

        Quote
        there cannot be different Gospels;

        Quite so. But we don't believe that the Gospel itself (by which man is saved) is the same as all the extra teachings which the Church holds. That is why I am saying we can hold the same gospel yet differ on some matters.

        Quote
        If the Baptists preach that God is Trinity, and the Oneness Pentecostals that God is unity ... how can they hold to the same Gospel?

        They can't. The Trinity is a Christian doctrine. Unitarians etc are not Christian, whatever name they take to themselves.

        Quote
        Are they not preaching different gods?

        Yes. But you and I aren't.

        Quote
        Catholics pray to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the Baptists to the Son only

        No. We pray to the Father in the name of the Son, as he instructed us in the Gospels; we also pray to Christ; it is true we seldom pray direct to the Holy Spirit, and indeed few (I do not say no) prayers are offered direct to the Spirit in scripture.

        Quote
        there are not many baptisms

        This belongs on the baptism thread really, but a brief reply. Since infant baptism was introduced, there have been two baptisms. We have, in a sense, a similar dilemma to yours: what to do with converts who have had what we regard as a false baptism (i.e. as infants)? I believe you would wish to baptise me if I became Orthodox, even though I was baptised as a Christian when I was 19. Usually we require baptism upon confession of faith for membership. But does God accept the intention of the heart and mind, even if the form was wrong? I mean, we have people who come to our church, and who take communion with us, who were baptised in another denomination as infants, and regard themselves as truly baptised. They don't see themselves as rebellious children refusing the Lord's command of baptism: they truly believe they have been baptised as Christians. Some (probably most) local churches accept that and admit them to the Table; others do not. It is a matter decided locally. But you and I are both sad that there are now - shall I put it like this? - two different rites which both get called baptism.

        Quote
        there are not many bodies

        Amen. Christ has one body, one bride (as one witty poster said, not a harem). That body is made up of all who belong to him, Baptists, Orthodox, Brethren, Pentecostals, and so on.

        Quote
        It is simply unreasonable to say that we can disagree about who Christ is, and yet have the same Gospel.

        I agree. But we don't disagree about who Christ is. We all accept the Nicene creed on that.

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        « Reply #110 on: January 12, 2009, 06:51:13 AM »

        Ignatius was consecrated Bishop of Antioch in ca. 66, so Ignatius is actually contemporary to the Apostles and the Gospels. ...I do believe that St. Ignatius was ordained a bishop at the hands of Apostles,

        This is what I am questioning. Not out of awkwardness: I have not found it in any book of literature or history. What are your sources for this belief?
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        « Reply #111 on: January 12, 2009, 07:17:19 AM »

        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.   

        This is virtually the same as my reply to your question, whether our belief makes me the arbiter of truth. Except that you refer to your Tradition and I to ours. This is what keeps me 'on the strait and narrow' and acts as a check to ideas which germinate in my mind. It is a different question from which is older, but the idea is more or less the same. What the Reformers attempted to do was to leap-frog back over mediæval Roman corruption and reclaim the original beliefs.

        Someone posting here asked why they didn't simply join the eastern church. I know little about this, but it is a fact that cordial relations were at least inaugurated during the time of Cyril Lucaris. At least an attempt was made. I'm sure there were other reasons too, for much of your Tradition does overlap with that of the RCs.

        Quote
        We're chasing our tails here.


        Not really. I am pressing you for your sources, your evidence, that the Tradition which first began to be recorded in writing some 90 years after our Lord's death was in fact written by men whom the apostles taught and/or appointed.

        Quote
        I'm sure you have been taught, instructed, corrected-- the question is whether all of this was in the correct faith.

        Here is where I have what I see as an advantage over you. I can go back and read about Aidan of the Celtic Church; Bernard, Aelred, Anselm of the Catholics; Jakob Spener of the German Pietists; Zinzendorf of the Moravians (they call their denomination Unitas Fratrum - you'd like that); Spurgeon, who was a Calvinist; Wesley and some of today's Anglicans - and I have no fears or qualms. I am free to benefit from them all, and many others. I don't have to worry about which Church they belonged to, for they all belong to Christ. If - ah! what a big 'if'! - we could accept one another on that basis, as fellow Christians, without organic unity but one in Christ, think how much more easily blessing might flow in both directions between us.

        Quote
        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? 

        Actually, I've rather forgotten what we are discussing - or rather we are juggling several questions simultaneously. We are discussing sola scriptura or scripture+tradition; but we have also wandered back into the "Is there salvation outside of Orthodoxy?" thread, and are considering whether what we hold in common is sufficient for salvation, so that we can have mutually beneficial fellowship in the Lord despite our differences of opinion on some (or even many) matters.

        Quote
        I find MUCH nourishment and edification in C.S. Lewis.

        I too.

        Quote
        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?

        I almost made myself clear here! It was longer than 30 years; and 'fell away' is a very strong word for the developments we observe between the death of our Lord and the writings of Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp etc. But yes, by the time we get to their day, there does seem to be a discernible difference of emphasis and what is often called 'spirituality' (or 'piety').

        Quote
        the rejection of the Apostolic beliefs correct! 


        Again, the word 'rejection' is very strong. No-one is deliberately doing this. People have striven to find and reclaim the apostolic beliefs, not to reject them for a preferable alternative.

        Quote
        What makes you think that Peter taught Ignatius so incorrectly that he would have LOST the faith, ...He was also a disciple of John

        Did Peter and John teach Ignatius? How do you know that?

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        « Reply #112 on: January 12, 2009, 07:30:51 AM »

        Do you have another example of our inconsistency?

        To answer this worthily I should need a much fuller knowledge of Orthodox teachings. However, let us take the perpetual virginity of Mary, whom all generations rightly call blessed.

        You insist on a literal interpretation of the words in the Gospels and Corinthians about the Eucharist ("This is my body" &c), but you reject the plain meaning of the references to our Lord's brothers and sisters and arrive at Mary's continued virginity after the birth of Christ by long and somewhat convoluted arguments.

        If you ever have the pleasure of going to Roscoff (in Brittany) you will see what looks like a bridge stretching out into the sea. My wife and I usually walk there of an evening if we have a ferry the next morning. But the bridge doesn't actually reach any land; it just stops out in the sea. Such (it seems to me) are your arguments for the perpetual virginity of Mary: they don't quite reach where you want them to.

        So the inconsistency is that the eucharistic words must be literal, the ones about Jesus's family must not.

        (I readily admit, as I have already done elsewhere, that Evangelicals display similar inconsistencies. I'm not saying we're better than you; I'm saying we're similar.)

        Quote
         There is a difference between inconsistency and innovation, would you agree? 

        Yes. Both you and we wish to hold the original Faith once delivered to the saints.

        Quote
        It is an innovation to NOT baptize infants ...Am I making sense?

        Better leave that till I find time to study the baptism thread. But for now, I think I've caught up!  Smiley
        « Last Edit: January 12, 2009, 07:33:14 AM by David Young » Logged

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        « Reply #113 on: January 12, 2009, 11:30:40 AM »

        Do you have another example of our inconsistency?

        To answer this worthily I should need a much fuller knowledge of Orthodox teachings. However, let us take the perpetual virginity of Mary, whom all generations rightly call blessed.

        You insist on a literal interpretation of the words in the Gospels and Corinthians about the Eucharist ("This is my body" &c), but you reject the plain meaning of the references to our Lord's brothers and sisters and arrive at Mary's continued virginity after the birth of Christ by long and somewhat convoluted arguments.

        If you ever have the pleasure of going to Roscoff (in Brittany) you will see what looks like a bridge stretching out into the sea. My wife and I usually walk there of an evening if we have a ferry the next morning. But the bridge doesn't actually reach any land; it just stops out in the sea. Such (it seems to me) are your arguments for the perpetual virginity of Mary: they don't quite reach where you want them to.

        Honestly, I think you are right, that you need a greater knowledge of Orthodox theology (but, of course, so do I).  No offense meant by that at all.
        I say this because you would know then, that those other books which Protestants have lost but we have kept, are very clear that James the Brother of the Lord was Joseph's son by his first wife... Joseph was a widower before he was betrothed to the Theotokos.  It's quite simple, not complicated at all.

        The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos."  Please check out the thread on her Perpetual Virginity.  It's quite interesting.  I may resurrect it, as I think there is still more to be said on the subject. 
        Here's the link:
        http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13760.0.html

        Quote
        So the inconsistency is that the eucharistic words must be literal, the ones about Jesus's family must not.
        I guess the problem for me with this premise of inconsistency is that we have been consistent in our beliefs since the beginning.  Not every word spoken in the Gospels was meant to be literal, and not every word was metaphorical.  The question, of course, is which ones are literal and which are metaphorical.  You say that we are inconsistent-- that we choose, essentially, which ones to interpret as literal, and which ones to interpret as metaphorical.  My response to that is that we do not choose... we were taught.  Since this thread is about Sola Scriptura, I will say that this is where this doctrine is most damaging.  We were taught from the very beginning which passages are literal, which are metaphorical.  We have evidence, other sources, teachers (the saints) who have taught us.  It is proper, is it not, to attempt to interpret the words of the Gospel as they were intended?  To that end, we have gotten there by way of the teachings the Apostles handed down. 

        Quote
        (I readily admit, as I have already done elsewhere, that Evangelicals display similar inconsistencies. I'm not saying we're better than you; I'm saying we're similar.)
        It's not really about inconsistencies, I don't think, because as I said, not every word was meant in one way or the other.  The question is how do we know which passages are literal and which are metaphorical?  We refer to the whole of tradition.  To whom do you refer?

        Also, if we're talking about Orthodox, it really doesn't matter what Evangelicals do, and vice versa.  You won't find me saying, "but you all do the same thing," as a reason, rationale, or excuse for what we do.  So don't worry about that.  I understood that you were not claiming to be better or anything.  Smiley

        Quote
        Quote
         There is a difference between inconsistency and innovation, would you agree? 

        Yes. Both you and we wish to hold the original Faith once delivered to the saints.
        I guess the question is who has properly arrived at that faith.

        Quote
        Quote
        It is an innovation to NOT baptize infants ...Am I making sense?

        Better leave that till I find time to study the baptism thread. But for now, I think I've caught up!  Smiley
        [/quote]
        Yes, now it is I who must catch up and reply to your posts!  The tables have turned now!!!  Smiley

        ***Edited to fix parenthetical.***
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        « Reply #114 on: January 12, 2009, 06:27:21 PM »

        those other books which Protestants have lost but we have kept, are very clear that James the Brother of the Lord was Joseph's son by his first wife...

        Are we getting near to the heart of things? What are these books? Honestly, I have found no mention of them - and I wonder whether they may be the same ones as support the links you refer to between such men as Ignatius the apostles Peter and John.

        Who wrote these books? What are they called? When were they written? What establishes their authenticity? Have they been published? What libraries or websites may give access to their text? It all sounds very mysterious, and it seems rather an important link in the discussion. It makes me wonder whether, in the last analysis, your belief in Holy Tradition and ours in 'sola scriptura' will both turn out to be a matter of 'faith not sight', neither being established by irrefutable historical proofs of their validity.

        What we all believe, of course, is that God became man in Jesus Christ, died, rose again, and is now Lord of lords, man's only Saviour and Judge of all men. That is a most irrational belief -foolishness to Greeks (of whom I believe you have the privilege of being one). Yet we believe it. Where did that faith come from, into your heart and mine? I believe it came from the Spirit of God. But I am wandering back into the "Is there salvation outside of Orthodoxy?" thread so I ought to stop typing.
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        « Reply #115 on: January 12, 2009, 06:34:21 PM »

        Ignatius was consecrated Bishop of Antioch in ca. 66, so Ignatius is actually contemporary to the Apostles and the Gospels. ...I do believe that St. Ignatius was ordained a bishop at the hands of Apostles,

        This is what I am questioning. Not out of awkwardness: I have not found it in any book of literature or history. What are your sources for this belief?

        The Church.
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        « Reply #116 on: January 12, 2009, 06:37:30 PM »

        Did Peter and John teach Ignatius? How do you know that?

        Did Mark write his gospel? How do you know that? Did he ever meet Christ? Was he present for miracles? Did Christ die on the Cross? How do you know that?
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        « Reply #117 on: January 12, 2009, 06:39:38 PM »

        those other books which Protestants have lost but we have kept, are very clear that James the Brother of the Lord was Joseph's son by his first wife...

        Are we getting near to the heart of things? What are these books? Honestly, I have found no mention of them - and I wonder whether they may be the same ones as support the links you refer to between such men as Ignatius the apostles Peter and John.

        Who wrote these books? What are they called? When were they written? What establishes their authenticity? Have they been published? What libraries or websites may give access to their text? It all sounds very mysterious, and it seems rather an important link in the discussion.

        The book that Presbytera is referring to is the Protoevangelium of James. It was written in 150 A.D. by James the Just, Joseph's son by his first marriage, thus Jesus' step-brother.

        It's a rather short book, but it details the life of the Theotokos. You can read the whole book here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm

        (Should only take about 15-20 minutes to read.)
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        « Reply #118 on: January 13, 2009, 04:09:35 AM »

        Ignatius was consecrated Bishop of Antioch in ca. 66, so Ignatius is actually contemporary to the Apostles and the Gospels. ...I do believe that St. Ignatius was ordained a bishop at the hands of Apostles,

        This is what I am questioning. Not out of awkwardness: I have not found it in any book of literature or history. What are your sources for this belief?

        The Church.

        With sincere respect towards yourgoodself and your Church (in which, I believe, dwells the Holy Spirit), this argument is not very well constructed. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the arguments of Fundamentalists who say, "We believe the Bible is inerrant because the Bible claims to be inerrant." I await a development of the line of reasoning.
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        « Reply #119 on: January 13, 2009, 04:12:48 AM »

        Did Peter and John teach Ignatius? How do you know that?

        Did Mark write his gospel? How do you know that? Did he ever meet Christ? Was he present for miracles? Did Christ die on the Cross? How do you know that?

        That is much better! I have read about the reasons for believing in the authenticity of the Gospels, but I confess I cannot repeat the arguments "off the top of my head". Decaying memory, I fear. I shall go back and refresh my memory on the matter, for it is a fundamentally important one. A good challenge; thank you.
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        « Reply #120 on: January 13, 2009, 04:14:46 AM »

        The book that Presbytera is referring to is the Protoevangelium of James. It was written in 150 A.D. by James the Just, Joseph's son by his first marriage, thus Jesus' step-brother.

        It's a rather short book, but it details the life of the Theotokos. You can read the whole book here: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0847.htm

        (Should only take about 15-20 minutes to read.)

        I shall read it, and about it. Thank you. Now - what about those links between Ignatius et al and the apostles? Where are they documented?
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        « Reply #121 on: January 13, 2009, 06:53:15 AM »

        Did Mark write his gospel? How do you know that? ... Did Christ die on the Cross?
        Mark’s authorship of his Gospel is attested from Eusebius back to Papias, through Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Irenæus, Justyn Martyr – that is, several centuries, and every region.

        From Wikipedia:

        Since crucifixion was a common punishment for first century Jews thought to be traitors against Rome, it is not surprising that only a few secular historians record the event (and then without much commentary).[25] For instance, Roman historian Tacitus, in his Annals (A.D. 55), mentions only in passing that "Christus...suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators..."[26]

        Additionally, first-century Jewish historian Josephus (in a disputed passage[27]) records:

        Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day; as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.

        —Josephus , Antiquities of the Jews - XVIII, 3:8-10

        Another possible Jewish reference to the crucifixion ("hanging" cf. Luk 23:39; Gal 3:13) is found in the Babylonian Talmud:

        On the eve of the Passover Yeshu was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, ‘He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Anyone who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.’ But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!

        —Soncino English Translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 43a

        Although the question of the equivalence of the identities of Yeshu and Jesus has at times been debated, many historians agree that the above passage is likely to be about Jesus.[28]

        And, of course, we have the biblical records.

        I have answered your questions: now answer mine, for I ask it sincerely. Where are the claimed links between Ignatius and other apostolic fathers documented?

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        « Reply #122 on: January 13, 2009, 10:47:57 AM »

        Ignatius was consecrated Bishop of Antioch in ca. 66, so Ignatius is actually contemporary to the Apostles and the Gospels. ...I do believe that St. Ignatius was ordained a bishop at the hands of Apostles,

        This is what I am questioning. Not out of awkwardness: I have not found it in any book of literature or history. What are your sources for this belief?

        The Church.

        He is referring specifically to a book called the Synaxarion.  It is the record of the saints (all of them) and what days they celebrate in the church.  This book has been kept from the beginning of the church until today, being added to as more saints are canonized. For instance, St. Nicholas Planas (my husband's favorite saint) is a modern day saint from the early 20th century.  If you look at a 17th century synaxarion, he will obviously not be in it. I don't have the synaxarion here (it's at the church), so I'll have to look at it later. It does sometimes reference other sources.  But this is what he's talking about. It has been passed down over centuries. There are other anogenoskomena books too, I'll have to look them up...

        Honestly, secular sources usually don't know these things or don't get them right. I was going to warn you of this earlier, when you mentioned that you were reading a book about Ignatius, but I didn't want to come off as trying to stack the cards or something.  The church keeps records all the way back. Scholars don't usually use them... they go to libraries and they don't know the books exist. This is why those documentaries on the History channel and whatnot always annoy me. Because they try to make historical assumptions and arguments about God using secular sources. They never go to the most obvious place... thr Church, who has retained and recorded all since the beginning!
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        « Reply #123 on: January 13, 2009, 11:22:45 AM »

        The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos."  Please check out the thread on her Perpetual Virginity. 

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum, as people get very irate over this matter and seem somehow to believe that, because we don't believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, we are somehow demeaning her or even that we are somehow against her - which is nowhere near the truth. God selected her above all other women of the time to be the mother of his Son.

        I sent your communication about the word 'eos' to a friend whose full-time work is Bible translation. Not an uneducated man - he has a doctorate from Cambridge, one from Oxford, and an MA from Westminster Theological Seminary. His doctorates are not in Theology, his MA is. His pronouncements can be taken seriously. I also asked a local man whose work, before retirement, was teaching Latin and Greek. They both agreed that eos = until; the former gave a written reply in some detail:

        The debate in this verse is normally over whether or not
        Joseph knew Mary sexually after she gave birth to Jesus.

        The conjunction 'heos', or 'heos hou' as it is here, is used in
        various non-temporal ways in the NT, but here it must surely be temporal. It is used to express two different temporal relationships:
        Sequential      A until B
        Simultaneous    A while/as long as B

        The latter would give rise to a translation 'Joseph did not know Mary [presumably sexually] while she was giving birth to a son' which is bizarre. I would also suggest it is incompatible with the aspectual character of the Greek aorist which is used for 'she gave birth', though that suggestion is based more on a theoretical understanding of aspect than on knowledge of Greek usage.

        As for Mary's alleged perpetual virginity, the Greek does permit that, but, so goes the Protestant argument, when 'heos hou' is used in the construction 'not A until B' what is negated in the A clause normally takes place after B.


        Please don't think that the question of Mary's perpetual virginity is one of importance to me in itself, nor designed in any way to reduce her honour. God forbid! The point of our discussion was not that matter in itself, but rather that the most obvious meaning of the text of scripture is that our Lord had siblings, and the point I made was not in relation to Mary, but to the reliability of Holy Tradition and whether it is consistent in applying literal and non-literal interpretations to different texts.

        (Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

        I hope I have put this tactfully. I do not wish to offend anyone's sensibilities regarding our Lord's mother.
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        « Reply #124 on: January 13, 2009, 11:39:05 AM »

        secular sources usually don't know these things or don't get them right. ... This is why those documentaries on the History channel and whatnot always annoy me.

        I agree about history documentaries on television. They are nearly always frustrating, often bitty, sometimes inaccurate, and are designed for entertainment not serious study.

        But I think that scholarly secular books are often better sources of unbiassed information than religious books. The latter, whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, agnostic or atheist, have often already decided what they want to find before they start the search. Rather than looking for truth wherever that search may lead, they are often selective in the data they cite in order to prove their predetermined point. I wince with embarrassment when I see Protestant authors doing that, but I'm sure we're not the only guilty party.

        I shall try to examine both the Synaxarion and the Protoevangelion of James, and look forward to learning about the other books you mention.
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        « Reply #125 on: January 13, 2009, 12:16:35 PM »

        The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos."  Please check out the thread on her Perpetual Virginity. 

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum, as people get very irate over this matter and seem somehow to believe that, because we don't believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, we are somehow demeaning her or even that we are somehow against her - which is nowhere near the truth. God selected her above all other women of the time to be the mother of his Son.

        I sent your communication about the word 'eos' to a friend whose full-time work is Bible translation. Not an uneducated man - he has a doctorate from Cambridge, one from Oxford, and an MA from Westminster Theological Seminary. His doctorates are not in Theology, his MA is. His pronouncements can be taken seriously. I also asked a local man whose work, before retirement, was teaching Latin and Greek. They both agreed that eos = until; the former gave a written reply in some detail:

        The debate in this verse is normally over whether or not
        Joseph knew Mary sexually after she gave birth to Jesus.

        The conjunction 'heos', or 'heos hou' as it is here, is used in
        various non-temporal ways in the NT, but here it must surely be temporal. It is used to express two different temporal relationships:
        Sequential      A until B
        Simultaneous    A while/as long as B

        The latter would give rise to a translation 'Joseph did not know Mary [presumably sexually] while she was giving birth to a son' which is bizarre. I would also suggest it is incompatible with the aspectual character of the Greek aorist which is used for 'she gave birth', though that suggestion is based more on a theoretical understanding of aspect than on knowledge of Greek usage.

        As for Mary's alleged perpetual virginity, the Greek does permit that, but, so goes the Protestant argument, when 'heos hou' is used in the construction 'not A until B' what is negated in the A clause normally takes place after B.


        Please don't think that the question of Mary's perpetual virginity is one of importance to me in itself, nor designed in any way to reduce her honour. God forbid! The point of our discussion was not that matter in itself, but rather that the most obvious meaning of the text of scripture is that our Lord had siblings, and the point I made was not in relation to Mary, but to the reliability of Holy Tradition and whether it is consistent in applying literal and non-literal interpretations to different texts.

        (Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

        I hope I have put this tactfully. I do not wish to offend anyone's sensibilities regarding our Lord's mother.


        David,

        This information is GREAT for the discussion on Perpetual Virginity.  I'm posting the link below for that specific thread.  Would you also post this in that thread?  If I'm wrong in asking him to post this there as well, MOD's, please correct me!

        I'm really looking forward to the discussion that comes from this post!

        Thanks!!!!!
        Presbytera Mari

        Here's the link:
        http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,13760.0.html
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        « Reply #126 on: January 13, 2009, 12:24:54 PM »

        MORE ON INCONSISTENCY

        Regarding the Proto-Evangelium of James, I found this on Wikipedia:

        The document presents itself as written by James: "I, James, wrote this history in Jerusalem." Thus the purported author is James the Just, who (the text claims) is a son of Joseph from a prior marriage, and thus a stepbrother of Jesus.

        Scholars have established that, based on the style of the language, and the fact that the author is apparently not aware of contemporary Jewish customs while James the Just certainly was, the work is pseudepigraphical (written by someone other than the person it claims to be written by). It apparently embellishes on what is told of events surrounding Mary, prior to and at the moment of, Jesus' birth, in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke.

        As for its estimated date, the consensus is that it was actually composed some time in the 2nd century AD. The first mention of it is by Origen of Alexandria in the early third century, who says the text, like that of a "Gospel of Peter", was of dubious, recent appearance and shared with that book the claim that the 'brethren of the Lord' were sons of Joseph by a former wife.

        I've kept this on this thread rather than on the Perpetual Virginity thread, because it is really more germane to our discussion of the authenticity of Holy Tradition compared with the plain text of scripture. By all means post a link there to this thread if that is felt to be appropriate.
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        « Reply #127 on: January 13, 2009, 12:30:36 PM »

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum,
        Actually you did. This board is public. Also, please post this in the Perpetual Virginity thread as Presbytera Mari suggested. It will add to the discussion considerably.
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        « Reply #128 on: January 13, 2009, 12:53:05 PM »

        secular sources usually don't know these things or don't get them right. ... This is why those documentaries on the History channel and whatnot always annoy me.

        I agree about history documentaries on television. They are nearly always frustrating, often bitty, sometimes inaccurate, and are designed for entertainment not serious study.

        But I think that scholarly secular books are often better sources of unbiassed information than religious books. The latter, whether Protestant, Catholic, Orthodox, agnostic or atheist, have often already decided what they want to find before they start the search. Rather than looking for truth wherever that search may lead, they are often selective in the data they cite in order to prove their predetermined point. I wince with embarrassment when I see Protestant authors doing that, but I'm sure we're not the only guilty party.

        I shall try to examine both the Synaxarion and the Protoevangelion of James, and look forward to learning about the other books you mention.

        I'm not sure you'll be able to find the Synaxarion online, I've never tried.  You may have to contact your local Greek Orthodox Church.  Please, be sure that the Synaxarion you read is for the canonical Orthodox Churches and not one of the vagante churches.  

        Here are a couple websites with information to get you started:
        http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/synaxarion_intro.aspx  Just a little info on the Synaxarion.
        http://www.antiochian.org/about  This is a little bit about the Antiochian Church, descended from Peter and Paul (Ignatius was the second patriarch, I was incorrect on that one-- there was one patriarch before him)
        http://www.antiochian.org/667  This just traces the Patriarchs of Antioch-- you'll see Ignatius listed from 68 a.d. It doesn't list a source for the information.  You have to understand a little that the Synaxarion is the written record of what has been passed down over hundreds of years.  It is perfectly common knowledge in the Orthodox Church when Ignatius lived and that he was a disciple of Peter and John.  I'll have to do more research beyond that.

        Honestly, if you are looking to verify the validity of the Synaxarion, someone else is going to have to help you with that.  Maybe Cleveland or greekischristian or pensaetoma could help.  All three of them are far more knowledgeable than me and can point you in the right direction.

        As for the Protoevangelion of St. James, keep in mind two things when reading it, please:
        The first is that, while it was supposedly written down in 150 (I think), it was, as the Gospels were, an oral tradition before then.  It is attributed to St. James, or as my NT professor would have said, "in the tradition of St. James," in the same way that the Gospel of Mark was "in the tradition of Mark," or known to have been passed down from him.  

        Secondly, keep in mind that this is not a canonical Gospel.  The reason is because the information contained in it was not determined by the Church to be essential to our salvation, not because it was not believed to be true.  There are some things contained in it that may surprise you.  Some of the material has never been fully incorporated into Christian tradition (and by that I mean the whole of Christianity).  But some of it has.  Again... it's information is not essential to our salvation but is "good for reading."  

        As far as the other anogenoskomena, I'll have to go to the Church and go through my husband's library to be able to direct you.  Again, I'm hoping some of the folks on here who are more knowledgeable than I will be able to help out here.
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        « Reply #129 on: January 13, 2009, 12:56:14 PM »

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum,
        Actually you did. This board is public. Also, please post this in the Perpetual Virginity thread as Presbytera Mari suggested. It will add to the discussion considerably.

        His post was a private message that he sent me, which I encouraged him to post in the public forum.  He wanted to continue the discussion with me while making sure not to offend anyone else.  I assured him he would not be offending and should post it publicly.  Once he posted it, I suggested he put it in the Perpetual Virginity thread (I had forgotten to mention that to him in the private message).  It's my fault, not his.

        God bless!!
        Presbytera Mari
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        « Reply #130 on: January 13, 2009, 12:57:02 PM »

        MORE ON INCONSISTENCY

        Regarding the Proto-Evangelium of James, I found this on Wikipedia:

        The document presents itself as written by James: "I, James, wrote this history in Jerusalem." Thus the purported author is James the Just, who (the text claims) is a son of Joseph from a prior marriage, and thus a stepbrother of Jesus.

        Scholars have established that, based on the style of the language, and the fact that the author is apparently not aware of contemporary Jewish customs while James the Just certainly was, the work is pseudepigraphical (written by someone other than the person it claims to be written by). It apparently embellishes on what is told of events surrounding Mary, prior to and at the moment of, Jesus' birth, in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke.

        As for its estimated date, the consensus is that it was actually composed some time in the 2nd century AD. The first mention of it is by Origen of Alexandria in the early third century, who says the text, like that of a "Gospel of Peter", was of dubious, recent appearance and shared with that book the claim that the 'brethren of the Lord' were sons of Joseph by a former wife.

        I've kept this on this thread rather than on the Perpetual Virginity thread, because it is really more germane to our discussion of the authenticity of Holy Tradition compared with the plain text of scripture. By all means post a link there to this thread if that is felt to be appropriate.


        This is what everyone says... See my post above. 
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        « Reply #131 on: January 13, 2009, 12:58:59 PM »

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum,
        Actually you did. This board is public. Also, please post this in the Perpetual Virginity thread as Presbytera Mari suggested. It will add to the discussion considerably.

        His post was a private message that he sent me, which I encouraged him to post in the public forum.  He wanted to continue the discussion with me while making sure not to offend anyone else.  I assured him he would not be offending and should post it publicly.  Once he posted it, I suggested he put it in the Perpetual Virginity thread (I had forgotten to mention that to him in the private message).  It's my fault, not his.

        God bless!!
        Presbytera Mari
        Gotcha. That makes sense now.
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        « Reply #132 on: January 13, 2009, 03:03:51 PM »

        The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos."  Please check out the thread on her Perpetual Virginity. 

        I didn't want to put this on the public forum, as people get very irate over this matter and seem somehow to believe that, because we don't believe that Mary remained a virgin after the birth of Jesus, we are somehow demeaning her or even that we are somehow against her - which is nowhere near the truth. God selected her above all other women of the time to be the mother of his Son.

        I sent your communication about the word 'eos' to a friend whose full-time work is Bible translation. Not an uneducated man - he has a doctorate from Cambridge, one from Oxford, and an MA from Westminster Theological Seminary. His doctorates are not in Theology, his MA is. His pronouncements can be taken seriously. I also asked a local man whose work, before retirement, was teaching Latin and Greek. They both agreed that eos = until; the former gave a written reply in some detail:

        The debate in this verse is normally over whether or not
        Joseph knew Mary sexually after she gave birth to Jesus.

        The conjunction 'heos', or 'heos hou' as it is here, is used in
        various non-temporal ways in the NT, but here it must surely be temporal. It is used to express two different temporal relationships:
        Sequential      A until B
        Simultaneous    A while/as long as B

        The latter would give rise to a translation 'Joseph did not know Mary [presumably sexually] while she was giving birth to a son' which is bizarre. I would also suggest it is incompatible with the aspectual character of the Greek aorist which is used for 'she gave birth', though that suggestion is based more on a theoretical understanding of aspect than on knowledge of Greek usage.

        As for Mary's alleged perpetual virginity, the Greek does permit that, but, so goes the Protestant argument, when 'heos hou' is used in the construction 'not A until B' what is negated in the A clause normally takes place after B.


        Please don't think that the question of Mary's perpetual virginity is one of importance to me in itself, nor designed in any way to reduce her honour. God forbid! The point of our discussion was not that matter in itself, but rather that the most obvious meaning of the text of scripture is that our Lord had siblings, and the point I made was not in relation to Mary, but to the reliability of Holy Tradition and whether it is consistent in applying literal and non-literal interpretations to different texts.

        (Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

        I hope I have put this tactfully. I do not wish to offend anyone's sensibilities regarding our Lord's mother.


        But my question would then be that the word "έως" appears in other instances of the Bible as well, which leads one to say that B which never happened until A, never happened at all.

        "1) The Bible says regarding Noe's raven that it didn't return to the Ark "έως ου εξηράνθη τα ύδατα" (= eos ooh the waters had been dried up). But since it didn't return to the Ark before the waters had dried up, when it had nowhere to stand upon, what happened then; it returned when the waters had dried up?!

        2.) The Bible says: "Said the Lord to my Lord; sit on my right έως αν θω τους εχθρούς σου υποπόδιον των ποδών σου" i.e. “eos an” I place your enemies under your feet. I ask therefore: after the submission of His enemies, will Christ cease to sit on the right hand of the Father?!

        3.) Elsewhere again the Lord tells His apostles: "with you I am all the days έως της συντελείας του αιώνος" i.e. "until the end of the eon". OK, I ask again: isn't Christ going to be with His disciples after the end of the eon in Heaven?

        4.) The OT also says regarding the barren woman, Melchol: "και τη Μελχώλ ... ουκ εγένετο παιδίον έως της ημέρας του αποθανείν αυτήν" ( = "she had no child until the day she died"). According to the Protestant interpretation, i.e. interpreting the word "eos" not as "never", we must deduce that Melchol must have born a child after her death, when she was in her grave!" http://www.eastern-orthodoxy.com/Mary_files/Mary.htm


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        « Reply #133 on: January 13, 2009, 06:26:13 PM »

        Scholars have established that... the work is pseudepigraphical ...composed some time in the 2nd century AD.

        This is what everyone says...

        I think this shows that you are accepting it as an act of faith, and that your reasoning has followed (not preceded) your belief. Credo ut intelligam, as someone said. (Was that Aquinus?) If that is so we have reached a chasm in the debate as uncrossable as was the Aradena Gorge before the bridge was built. I do not lightly esteem acts of faith, and atheists see an Evangelical's faith in the scriptures in a very similar light. But if faith precedes reasoning, and draws reasoning into line after it, it is impervious to debate, is it not?

        I suspect the same applies to the claim of Ignatius's appointment by Peter, which is found in the Synaxarion and derives from Theodoret (ca 393-457) as the first recorded witness to it: again, very late.

        A stronger argument re Mary's virginity is John 19.26-27 (see buzuxi's post on that under Perpetual Virginity), and the early appointment of Ignatius as bishop at Antioch (68 AD or thereabouts) regarding the apostolicity of his teaching. These are not unanswerable, or everyone would believe Ignatius's theology of the Eucharist and everyone would believe in Mary's life-long virginity: but they are a good deal harder to answer than the arguments from late writings. In re these arguments, I must scratch my poor head a good deal harder!
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        « Reply #134 on: January 14, 2009, 02:22:55 AM »

        Scholars have established that... the work is pseudepigraphical ...composed some time in the 2nd century AD.

        This is what everyone says...

        I think this shows that you are accepting it as an act of faith, and that your reasoning has followed (not preceded) your belief. Credo ut intelligam, as someone said. (Was that Aquinus?) If that is so we have reached a chasm in the debate as uncrossable as was the Aradena Gorge before the bridge was built. I do not lightly esteem acts of faith, and atheists see an Evangelical's faith in the scriptures in a very similar light. But if faith precedes reasoning, and draws reasoning into line after it, it is impervious to debate, is it not?

        I suspect the same applies to the claim of Ignatius's appointment by Peter, which is found in the Synaxarion and derives from Theodoret (ca 393-457) as the first recorded witness to it: again, very late.

        A stronger argument re Mary's virginity is John 19.26-27 (see buzuxi's post on that under Perpetual Virginity), and the early appointment of Ignatius as bishop at Antioch (68 AD or thereabouts) regarding the apostolicity of his teaching. These are not unanswerable, or everyone would believe Ignatius's theology of the Eucharist and everyone would believe in Mary's life-long virginity: but they are a good deal harder to answer than the arguments from late writings. In re these arguments, I must scratch my poor head a good deal harder!


        Athanasius' Paschal Epistle, the first list of our current Bible canon, was only 367...do you doubt the canon as well?
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        « Reply #135 on: January 14, 2009, 10:45:10 AM »

        the first list of our current Bible canon, was only 367...do you doubt the canon as well?

        Come now! You know me better than that. Scripture is unique and self-authenticating. That is how the Church recognised it. Also, individual books of the canon were attested long before 367.

        But on the limits and rightness of the NT canon we are already agreed.
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        « Reply #136 on: January 14, 2009, 10:56:51 AM »

        the first list of our current Bible canon, was only 367...do you doubt the canon as well?

        Come now! You know me better than that. Scripture is unique and self-authenticating. That is how the Church recognised it. Also, individual books of the canon were attested long before 367.

        But on the limits and rightness of the NT canon we are already agreed.

        Self authenticating? how? You realise that they had these books because in the various communities the liturgies that were used had these verses and chapters already spoken in them. It is surprising that Revelation was put in to the canon when it was not used liturgically. Have you read any of the supposed apocryphal books?
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        « Reply #137 on: January 14, 2009, 11:32:54 AM »

        Scholars have established that... the work is pseudepigraphical ...composed some time in the 2nd century AD.

        This is what everyone says...

        I think this shows that you are accepting it as an act of faith, and that your reasoning has followed (not preceded) your belief. Credo ut intelligam, as someone said. (Was that Aquinus?) If that is so we have reached a chasm in the debate as uncrossable as was the Aradena Gorge before the bridge was built. I do not lightly esteem acts of faith, and atheists see an Evangelical's faith in the scriptures in a very similar light. But if faith precedes reasoning, and draws reasoning into line after it, it is impervious to debate, is it not?

        I suspect the same applies to the claim of Ignatius's appointment by Peter, which is found in the Synaxarion and derives from Theodoret (ca 393-457) as the first recorded witness to it: again, very late.

        A stronger argument re Mary's virginity is John 19.26-27 (see buzuxi's post on that under Perpetual Virginity), and the early appointment of Ignatius as bishop at Antioch (68 AD or thereabouts) regarding the apostolicity of his teaching. These are not unanswerable, or everyone would believe Ignatius's theology of the Eucharist and everyone would believe in Mary's life-long virginity: but they are a good deal harder to answer than the arguments from late writings. In re these arguments, I must scratch my poor head a good deal harder!


        Actually, what I meant was that this is the argument Protestants always use.  That doesn't make it correct, nor invalidate the Protoevangelion of St. James.  Sorry I was unclear. 

        By the way, scholars have also "proven" that some of Paul's epistles are pseudoepigraphical.  Does that invalidate them to you?  What makes you think the assertion by "scholars" that the Protoevangelion of St. James is pseudoepigraphical would invalidate it to us, when it has been part of our tradition as anogenoskomena since it was written?  As I said before, oral tradition... then written.

        I guess I must have somehow not realized that you were unaware that Ignatius was Bishop in 68.  I thought I had made that clear, and that he is a major link in the chain of apostolic succession back to Peter and Paul through the Church of Antioch.  My fault!

        And as far as being unanswerable, well, I guess the very existence of God is not unanswerable either, otherwise the entire world would be Christian, wouldn't it? 

        ***edited for clarity***
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        « Reply #138 on: January 14, 2009, 05:29:02 PM »

        the first list of our current Bible canon, was only 367...do you doubt the canon as well?

        Come now! You know me better than that. Scripture is unique and self-authenticating. That is how the Church recognised it. Also, individual books of the canon were attested long before 367.

        But on the limits and rightness of the NT canon we are already agreed.

        Well clearly we are not agreed. You do not trust the Church on other matters of a similar time period....why should you now trust Scripture. For all we know, the original manuscripts could have been altered at any time in the previous 300 years...you and I have no way to prove that.
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        « Reply #139 on: January 14, 2009, 06:04:20 PM »

        Scripture is unique and self-authenticating. That is how the Church recognised it.
        Self-authenticating?  To whom?  If there were no one to receive and recognize the sacred texts, would they still authenticate themselves?  What makes them self-authenticating, and how is this discerned?
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        « Reply #140 on: January 14, 2009, 06:22:10 PM »

        Self authenticating? how? ... Have you read any of the supposed apocryphal books?

        You are almost asking me to define the indefinable. In short, the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures also dwelt in the people of the early church who recognised the same Spirit in both, that is, in the writings and in their lives. In other writings (Clement, Ignatius and later ones) you just don't breathe the same spirit; their level, their atmosphere, is somehow indefinably but sensibly different (in the old meaning of sensibly: you can sense it). The early Church sensed it and, when they felt it was needed, agreed on a fixed list of inspired books.

        I believe the same is true today. I do not know you, so I am writing nothing personal: but if you are a true Christian, you must have experienced this yourself. God is just there, in the scriptures, and speaks, guides and blesses through them in a way he doesn't do in such full and sustained measure through other writings. This is surely the shared experience which led the early Church in fixing the canon, and of course in incorporating so much scripture in the ancient liturgies. They knew it carried the voice of God.

        I have read some of the OT Apocrypha. I have not read the NT apocrypha, that is, the books the Church rejected. They are (I believe) often manifestly heretical, legendary, pseudepigraphical or late. The supreme test is their testimony to Jesus Christ: is he honoured in a book as the eternal second person of the Trinity, truly man and truly God, begotten before all ages, now risen and at the Father's right hand in glory?

        I believe this replies also to Ukiemeister's and PeterTheAleut's posts, though I haven't boxed in quotes from them.
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        « Reply #141 on: January 14, 2009, 06:25:00 PM »

        Scripture is unique and self-authenticating. That is how the Church recognised it.

        You make it sound as if the Bible practically dropped from the sky leatherbound, complete with maps and the words of Christ in red. The Church didn't just have the books in front of them that we now know and love. There were the Gnostic gospels and many other books and letters that they had to sort through, read, argue out, and prove that they were heretical and/or not consistant with the rest of scripture. This wasn't just decided overnight. It took the Church years to do this. And it wasn't decided by one person, but rather a council of people. The Third Council of Carthage, which was held in 397 (Three hundred Ninety Seven! That means for Three hundred sixty one years the Church was able to survive and spread the truth about Jesus Christ without an established Bible Canon!!) established the official Bible canon.

        More can be read here:

        http://www.bible-researcher.com/carthage.html
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        « Reply #142 on: January 14, 2009, 06:34:21 PM »

        You are almost asking me to define the indefinable. In short, the Holy Spirit who inspired the scriptures also dwelt in the people of the early church who recognised the same Spirit in both, that is, in the writings and in their lives. In other writings (Clement, Ignatius and later ones) you just don't breathe the same spirit; their level, their atmosphere, is somehow indefinably but sensibly different (in the old meaning of sensibly: you can sense it). The early Church sensed it and, when they felt it was needed, agreed on a fixed list of inspired books.

        I think you are missing the purpose of what scripture serves and what the other writings serve. Scripture was never meant to be used alone but within the context of the Liturgy and in accompanied to the writings of the Church Fathers. If scripture is the house, then the writings of the Church Fathers and the Liturgical services are the furniture, the lighting fixtures, the things that make it a home. The Writings of the Church Fathers (Clement, Ignatius, etc) tell us how to interpret the scriptures. It's not that their writings were left out because they were lacking something; their writings served a different purpose. You will often hear Orthodox Christians use the term "Fullness of the Faith." This is what we mean.

        When you take scripture out of the proper context of the Liturgical calander, the writings of the Church fathers, and the services themselves you lose the full meaning of what they are supposed to be.

        Just like if you emptied out a house of its contents. Yes, technically speaking you would still have a house. But it would be empty. It would be lacking. That is what the scriptures are without the Liturgy and without the writings of the Church Fathers. They are lacking the complete understanding. When you remove these components, self interpretation begins and people start filling their "house" with all kinds of "stuff." Thus you have the many flavors of Protestantism starting with the Catholic Church. They started to remove and add elements, and things started to go haywire.
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        « Reply #143 on: January 14, 2009, 06:38:24 PM »

        scholars have also "proven" that some of Paul's epistles are pseudoepigraphical.  Does that invalidate them to you?

        That is a more difficult question, because it entwines both faith and sight, so to speak. Jesus promised the Spirit would come and lead his church into all truth, and the church, over a long and doubtless careful period of some 370 years, came to a universal consensus concerning what writings were indeed Holy Scripture. I am prepared to believe our Lord's promise operated here, and that the Church was well led by the Spirit of Christ.

        Quote
          What makes you think the assertion by "scholars" that the Protoevangelion of St. James is pseudoepigraphical would invalidate it to us?

        Nothing makes me think that, nor do I think it. But that is what I meant when I said two things: (a) that it is an act of faith on your part, not of sight (i.e. you cannot see extant evidence of the Protoevangelium's authenticity, but you take it on faith); and (b) that this looks, at least to an outsider like an atheist, very similar to the Evangelical's faith regarding the authenticity of the biblical canon, OT and NT. What resides in your heart as unshakable faith in the validity of these documents has not been imparted to us, and there is no external proof to press us to that acceptance.

        It doesn't particularly bother me that you have these books in addition to scripture; what does concern me is that many Orthodox would exclude us from Christ's people because we lack them. I do not think their teachings are essential to salvation. For example, the Protoevangelium was cited to prove Mary's life-long virginity. When - to speak in a figure - we reach the Pearly Gates and Peter is deciding whether to let us in, he will not base his decision on whether we believe Jesus had siblings: he will base it (still abiding in the figure) on whether we have loved the Lord and done the Father's will.

        Quote
        Ignatius was Bishop in 68.  I thought I had made that clear,

        You probably did. There was so much emphasis on his petrine appointment that the point was lost, but I suspect you made it. 68 AD takes him back to the apostolic age, whether he knew Peter and John or not, and thus makes it more likely that, at least in 68 AD, he shared the common beliefs including about the Eucharist. (Of course, he may have changed over the next 40-50 years: people do!  Wink) I must take time to research whether the approximate date of his appointment is known.

        Quote
        I guess the very existence of God is not unanswerable either,

        As Isaiah wrote, "Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself." As Paul wrote, "the world by wisdom knew not God." Quite so: it is a matter of faith, not sight. Let us thank God for that faith.
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        « Reply #144 on: January 14, 2009, 06:51:46 PM »

        You make it sound as if the Bible practically dropped from the sky leatherbound, complete with maps and the words of Christ in red.

        I didn't mean to. That sort of religion is available in Islam or Mormonism. God always took care to hide himself, working unseen through human instrumentality. He is found through faith and the Holy Spirit, which is also how he is encountered in the scriptures he gave.

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        « Reply #145 on: January 14, 2009, 06:55:32 PM »

        It doesn't particularly bother me that you have these books in addition to scripture; what does concern me is that many Orthodox would exclude us from Christ's people because we lack them. I do not think their teachings are essential to salvation. For example, the Protoevangelium was cited to prove Mary's life-long virginity. When - to speak in a figure - we reach the Pearly Gates and Peter is deciding whether to let us in, he will not base his decision on whether we believe Jesus had siblings: he will base it (still abiding in the figure) on whether we have loved the Lord and done the Father's will.

        Ahhh, now we're getting to the meat of things! (I am so enjoying this discussion!)

        The Orthodox do not take the acceptance/denial of the writings of the Church Fathers as Salvific. When we sit in front of the dread judgment seat of Christ, I agree with you, whether or not we have read the writings of St. Ignatius will not preclude us from getting into heaven. Christ has made it very clear as to what is critical for salvation; accepting Him as Lord and Savior, following His commandments, and being baptised in the name of the Trinity.

        I mean, let's be honest here, besides us Theology geeks online, how many people do you that sit around reading the Church Fathers on a regular basis?  Wink Cheesy Grin

        So, you may ask "why do make such a big deal about them?" Because even if laypeople aren't sitting around reading Clement, Ignatius, and all the others at night, our seminarians and clergy are, and that influences their theology, which in turn influences what is taught at the pulpit.

        **Edited because I wanted to add one last point.**
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        « Reply #146 on: January 14, 2009, 06:58:24 PM »

        Scripture was never meant to be used alone but within the context of the Liturgy and in accompanied to the writings of the Church Fathers. If scripture is the house, then the writings of the Church Fathers and the Liturgical services are the furniture, the lighting fixtures, the things that make it a home.

        This is very interesting; I have not picked up this thought before from the various threads. I shall dwell on it.

        One has to admit though (to continue your metaphor) that for a long time the average Orthodox man-in-the-pew (I know you don't have pews) has lived an outdoor existence, having the furniture but not the house. It was not till the 1990s, some 1840 years after the apostle Paul's visits, that they printed a translation of the New Testament into Albanian - and that was the 1912 Protestant one!
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        « Reply #147 on: January 14, 2009, 07:01:51 PM »

        besides us Theology geeks online, how many people do you that sit around reading the Church Fathers on a regular basis?  Wink Cheesy Grin
        And even I balance them out with Wesley or the German Pietists!  Wink
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        « Reply #148 on: January 14, 2009, 07:04:57 PM »

        Scripture was never meant to be used alone but within the context of the Liturgy and in accompanied to the writings of the Church Fathers. If scripture is the house, then the writings of the Church Fathers and the Liturgical services are the furniture, the lighting fixtures, the things that make it a home.

        This is very interesting; I have not picked up this thought before from the various threads. I shall dwell on it.

        One has to admit though (to continue your metaphor) that for a long time the average Orthodox man-in-the-pew (I know you don't have pews) has lived an outdoor existence, having the furniture but not the house. It was not till the 1990s, some 1840 years after the apostle Paul's visits, that they printed a translation of the New Testament into Albanian - and that was the 1912 Protestant one!

        Well they did have it, but unfortunately it was in Church Slavonic or Greek.  Undecided

        I will confess, we are sometimes slow about printing things in the vernacular.

        There is an old joke that goes, "How many Orthodox does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Why change?"

        Although St. Innocent of Moscow (also known as St. Innocent of Alaska) did learn the native languages of the Native Alaskans before preaching the Aleut's. He successfully translated the services and the gospels to their language while doing his missionary work in early 1800's.
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        « Reply #149 on: January 14, 2009, 07:14:55 PM »

        Scripture was never meant to be used alone but within the context of the Liturgy and in accompanied to the writings of the Church Fathers. If scripture is the house, then the writings of the Church Fathers and the Liturgical services are the furniture, the lighting fixtures, the things that make it a home.

        This is very interesting; I have not picked up this thought before from the various threads. I shall dwell on it.

        One has to admit though (to continue your metaphor) that for a long time the average Orthodox man-in-the-pew (I know you don't have pews) has lived an outdoor existence, having the furniture but not the house. It was not till the 1990s, some 1840 years after the apostle Paul's visits, that they printed a translation of the New Testament into Albanian - and that was the 1912 Protestant one!

        At the same time...within 100 years of the Resurrection...the east was worshiping in 70 different languages!
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        « Reply #150 on: January 14, 2009, 07:55:46 PM »

        scholars have also "proven" that some of Paul's epistles are pseudoepigraphical.  Does that invalidate them to you?

        That is a more difficult question, because it entwines both faith and sight, so to speak. Jesus promised the Spirit would come and lead his church into all truth, and the church, over a long and doubtless careful period of some 370 years, came to a universal consensus concerning what writings were indeed Holy Scripture. I am prepared to believe our Lord's promise operated here, and that the Church was well led by the Spirit of Christ.
        You must realize how odd this seems to us.  You have argued the possibility that wrong teachings may have "seeped" in (so to speak) in the 30 or so years surrounding Ignatius, but are seemingly unconcerned about the possible "seepage" of a pseudoepigraphical book into the NT canon.  It bothers you that the Protoevangelion of St. James (which, as Handmaiden indeed said, is NOT essential to our salvation) was oral first and then possibly pseudoepigraphical, but not that the exact same attributes can be said of much of Paul's epistles.  And... you don't seem to want to acknowledge that the group of people that preserved the Protoevangelion (and Ignatius' writings, and Clement's, and Polycarp's, and Justin Martyr's, etc) and the group of people that preserved the NT books are ONE AND THE SAME.  Even if you do acknowledge it, you seem to think that God only inspired them partially-- when it came to the canon, but when it came to discerning what else was important for us to know, they must have been off their nut!  Smiley  Am I getting this right?

        Quote
        Quote
          What makes you think the assertion by "scholars" that the Protoevangelion of St. James is pseudoepigraphical would invalidate it to us?

        Nothing makes me think that, nor do I think it. But that is what I meant when I said two things: (a) that it is an act of faith on your part, not of sight (i.e. you cannot see extant evidence of the Protoevangelium's authenticity, but you take it on faith); and (b) that this looks, at least to an outsider like an atheist, very similar to the Evangelical's faith regarding the authenticity of the biblical canon, OT and NT. What resides in your heart as unshakable faith in the validity of these documents has not been imparted to us, and there is no external proof to press us to that acceptance.
        Actually, this is not the case.  As far as I personally am concerned, I just haven't read up on it.  I do accept on faith that if the Church says it's good to read, then it's good to read.  I don't need to see evidence.  BUT, that's not to say there isn't any.  That just means I need to do some research.  An act of faith?  Maybe on my part personally.  On the part of the Church Herself... of course there is always faith, otherwise we're not Christian.  But the Church does Her homework.  And much better than you or I could.

        How it looks to an outsider?  It may look as you say initially, but that is simply because of ignorance on your part (I don't mean this critically-- you are unfamiliar with much of Orthodoxy, it's okay), and ignorance/lack of eloquence on my part.  I don't have unshakable faith in this particular document.  I have unshakable faith in the Truth of Christ as handed down to me through His Church.  The Protoevangelion of St. James is about .001% of that faith.  Completely discredit it?  Okay.  I still have complete faith in the Church and Her teaching.  Why?  Because our faith ALLOWS that there is inconsistency occasionally, that there are mistakes and whatnot when it comes to matters that are not salvific.  This is because the Church is made up of sinners, and sinners make mistakes.  BUT, my faith in the teachings of Christ's Church remains unchanged because Christ Himself promised...  Hope that makes sense.  I'll have to go back and reread this later so I can clarify it.  Right now I know what I'm saying, but later I'll probably read it and think "well that didn't make much sense.  Let's try that again!"   laugh

        Quote
        It doesn't particularly bother me that you have these books in addition to scripture; what does concern me is that many Orthodox would exclude us from Christ's people because we lack them. I do not think their teachings are essential to salvation. For example, the Protoevangelium was cited to prove Mary's life-long virginity. When - to speak in a figure - we reach the Pearly Gates and Peter is deciding whether to let us in, he will not base his decision on whether we believe Jesus had siblings: he will base it (still abiding in the figure) on whether we have loved the Lord and done the Father's will.
        I'm not sure that I've made this clear----- we don't hold that the anogenoskomena or the writings of the Fathers are essential to salvation.  The problem is NOT whether you read Ignatius.  The problem is how you (not you personally, the hypothetical "you") believe in and receive Christ. 

        Quote
        Quote
        Ignatius was Bishop in 68.  I thought I had made that clear,

        You probably did. There was so much emphasis on his petrine appointment that the point was lost, but I suspect you made it. 68 AD takes him back to the apostolic age, whether he knew Peter and John or not, and thus makes it more likely that, at least in 68 AD, he shared the common beliefs including about the Eucharist. (Of course, he may have changed over the next 40-50 years: people do!  Wink) I must take time to research whether the approximate date of his appointment is known.
        I just assumed that you would realize the correlation, I guess.  Again, it still blows my mind that you have no problem with the timeline, oral transmission and epigraphy of the NT, but doubt every little letter regarding the writings by the exact same people!  Guess it's just me... Smiley  By approximate date, are you asking about the day (as in, November the first) or the year?  Because we told you the year.  Just curious.  Again, I'll have to look it up in the Synaxarion.

        Quote
        Quote
        I guess the very existence of God is not unanswerable either,

        As Isaiah wrote, "Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself." As Paul wrote, "the world by wisdom knew not God." Quite so: it is a matter of faith, not sight. Let us thank God for that faith.
        I, with you, thank God for that faith.  And, honestly, I thank God for the FULLNESS of the faith that is Orthodoxy, preserved and defended, transmitted and received, lovingly handed down over the ages... Smiley
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        « Reply #151 on: January 15, 2009, 01:40:16 AM »

        One has to admit though (to continue your metaphor) that for a long time the average Orthodox man-in-the-pew (I know you don't have pews) has lived an outdoor existence, having the furniture but not the house. It was not till the 1990s, some 1840 years after the apostle Paul's visits, that they printed a translation of the New Testament into Albanian - and that was the 1912 Protestant one!

        I've thought about this statement some more, and I have to disagree. For you see, even if an Orthodox layman did not have a copy of the Bible at his disposal in his native tongue, he had the services and the iconography of the Church. "So what?" you may say.

        All of the services of the Church have readings from the Bible, and the very words of the services are from the Bible. One could read the service of St. John Chrysostom and find scriptural references from the Old and New Testament, and all of the services profess faith in God alone.

        Furthermore, the iconography of the Church was initially designed to teach the illiterate about the faith, so that even if a person were deaf and illiterate, they could still learn about the faith through the iconography of the Church.

        Essentially, a person would have to be blind, deaf, and dumb to not walk away with the teachings of the Church.

        If a person has attended the services faithfully their entire life, and they do not know the teachings of the Church, it is because they have closed their hearts and minds to it.

        Christ spoke about this in his parable of the sower:

        “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold.” When He had said these things He cried, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” The Gospel according to St. Luke, 8:5-8

        For you see, even in the U.S. where we have services in our native tongue, and more copies of the Bible than we know what to do with, we have those who are ignorant of God's promise of redemption. You will find them in every parish, every denomination, in every city, in every town. God made His promise available to all; but it is up to us to choose to accept it.
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        « Reply #152 on: January 15, 2009, 04:53:03 AM »

        Well they did have it, but unfortunately it was in Church Slavonic or Greek.  Undecided

        There is an old joke that goes, "How many Orthodox does it take to change a lightbulb? Answer: Why change?"

        Trouble is, Albanian belongs to an entirely different branch of the Indo-European langauges from Slavic and Greek.

        Oddly enough, your joke has even reached Wrexham, where I have heard it told with exactly the same words, except Orthodox was changed to Baptist. "There's many a true word spoken in jest."
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        « Reply #153 on: January 15, 2009, 05:15:36 AM »

        You ... are seemingly unconcerned about the possible "seepage" of a pseudoepigraphical book into the NT canon. 

        My view of scripture is a difficult thing to explain - even to myself. Yes, I trust the Bible. The problem with any NT letter being pseudepigraphical is that, to me, pseudepigraphy is the same as forgery. The letters say things like, "I Paul write this to you" or "I Peter write this to you." The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He cannot have inspired a lie. So why not just do like Marcion or even Luther at one stage, and reduce the Canon? I confess it defies rational explanation - it is, I suppose, faith - but I trust that God guided his Church when they determined the Canon. That of course carries no weight to anyone else. I realise that.

        Quote
        you don't seem to want to acknowledge that the group of people that preserved the Protoevangelion (and Ignatius' writings, and Clement's, and Polycarp's, and Justin Martyr's, etc) and the group of people that preserved the NT books are ONE AND THE SAME.  you seem to think that God only inspired them partially-- when it came to the canon,

        No - he guided them to include the scriptural (inspired) books, and to exclude various other writings.

        Quote
        they must have been off their nut!  Smiley  Am I getting this right?

        Not that they were off their nut (!) but you are getting the drift of my thoughts.

        Quote
        An act of faith?  Maybe on my part personally.  ...But the Church does Her homework.  I have unshakable faith in the Truth of Christ as handed down to me through His Church. 

        This is what I meant: as we Evangelicals put our faith in the scriptures alone (wow! we're back at last to the core theme!), so you put your faith also in the Church.

        Quote
        How it looks to an outsider?  It may look as you say initially, but that is simply because of ignorance on your part

        No: the 'outsider' was the atheist, seeing no difference between my faith in the scriptures alone, and yours in the scriptures+the Church. Both, to his eyes, have the same character.

        Quote
        The problem is how you ... receive Christ. 

        Amen! The most important question anyone in this world can ever ask is, "What must I do to be saved?"

        Quote
        By approximate date, are you asking about the day (as in, November the first) or the year?  Because we told you the year. 

        The approximate year, as documented by reliable testimony, not as taken on faith.


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        « Reply #154 on: January 15, 2009, 05:37:37 AM »

        even if an Orthodox layman did not have a copy of the Bible at his disposal in his native tongue, he had the services and the iconography of the Church. ... All of the services of the Church have readings from the Bible, and the very words of the services are from the Bible.

        With genuine due respect towards your Church (which is part of our Lord's worldwide Body in every age and place, if I may say so for the purposes of this post), here is one of the ways where the Orthodox Church has erred grievously.

        Under the Ottoman Empire, their subjects were divided into millets on the basis of religion: all Moslems were deemed Turks, all Orthodox were deemed Greek. The Sultan appointed a Greek to preside over the entire Greek millet (i.e. over all Orthodox) and all services were in Greek, even in Serbia and Albania, where the languages are not even in the same linguistic 'branch' as Greek, let alone mutually comprehensible. Sometimes even the priests did not understand the words they were saying over during the services. The people were attending an incomprehensible ritual. So they were indeed hearing the words of scripture, but they were in a foreign tongue: they didn't even know the alphabet, let alone the words written.

        Orthodox posters (as I have observed before on these threads) are fond of the verse, "By their fruits ye shall know them." Sadly, this mixing of political nationalism and Orthodox religion did not pass away with the end of the Ottoman Empire but remains a blot on the testimony and character of the Orthodox Church to this day. You must have read the thread where non-Orthodox Greeks are dismissed as "non-entities".

        I write this without saying in any way, "You're bad - we're good." I love the good things I see in Orthodoxy, as I love the rich blessings of our own churches. But every church has things of which it should repent; our faults lie elsewhere, for we have never held political power. I do not say we would do any better. But we all need God's mercy, we all need to repent, and it is also written that judgement must begin at the household of God.
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        « Reply #155 on: January 15, 2009, 09:28:50 AM »

        It may look as you say initially, but that is simply because of ignorance on your part (I don't mean this critically-- you are unfamiliar with much of Orthodoxy

        What you say is true, but I am not entirely uninformed. I have consulted, among other literature,

        Sola Scriptura: an Orthodox Analysis (Conciliar Press)
        Eastern Orthodox Theology (Clendenin; Baker Academic)
        Common Ground (Bajis; Light & Life, Minnesota)
        Besimi Orthodhoks (Hopko; Tirana)
        The true Light (Michael Harper; Hodder & Stoughton)
        Becoming Orthodox (Gillquist; Conciliar Press)
        Touching Heaven (Oliver; Concilar Press)
        The Orthodox Church (Ware; Pelican Books)
        The Orthodox Way (Ware; Mowbrays)
        The Orthodox Church (Meyendorff; St Vladimir’s)
        Churchly Joy (Bulgakov - I forget the publisher)
        West of Jesus (I forget the author: an Orthodox in America)
        Orthodox and Wesleyan Spirituality (Kimbrough; St Vladimir’s)

        Lossky (“Mystic Theology”) I have but have not yet started on. And of course Irenæus, Athanasius and Chrysostom, though as pre-1054 they might justly be claimed by all of us.

        What is instructive on these fora is not so much the formal theology, but learning how ordinary thinking, educated and articulate Orthodox really think: that is, the thoughts of real people on the issues we discuss. (Not meaning that Lossky and the others aren't real people: I think you know what I am trying to say.)

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        « Reply #156 on: January 15, 2009, 10:28:19 AM »

        You have argued the possibility that wrong teachings may have "seeped" in (so to speak) in the 30 or so years surrounding Ignatius, but are seemingly unconcerned about the possible "seepage" of a pseudoepigraphical book into the NT canon. 

        apostolic authenticity... is a guarantee, vouched for by the Holy Spirit, of the apostolic origin of the contents of the Holy Books... It occurred to no one to add to the Scriptural canon a work that was not of apostolic origin... But it is the Spirit who defines the canon of scripture in the Church ...

        “The Orthodox Church”, John Meyendorff (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1981) pp. 6-7

        Sorry to pile up so many posts: only replying ones other people have kindly posted!
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        « Reply #157 on: January 15, 2009, 12:02:29 PM »

        Scripture is unique and self-authenticating.
        Oh, good. I was hoping someone would accept the lost Third Epistle of Peter I found last time I was around Betelgeuse IV. It's an uninhabited planet, so until now no one would accept it. But now I know that you will, because the book is self-authenticating. See the following passage:

        Quote from: 3 Peter 3:14
        If anyone does not accept this epistle, which really was written by the Apostle Peter of Earth, honestly it was, then let him be a delicious snack for the Qolpar Beast of Frangilloise.
        Who could argue with this?
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        « Reply #158 on: January 15, 2009, 12:17:02 PM »

        ^ Funniest post I've read in weeks.