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Author Topic: Sola Scriptura - A Diversion From the True Word of God  (Read 24029 times) Average Rating: 0
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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.

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  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.

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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.

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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?

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?"

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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.
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« Reply #159 on: January 15, 2009, 12:18:36 PM »

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

Fair enough, but I grew up going to a Ukrainian parish, and I don't speak a word of Ukrainian. While as a child I may have not been able to give you the detailed answers on Orthodoxy that I do today, I was familiar with the central message of the Gospel: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Should the services and the gospel be available in the vernacular! Absolutely. But even if it isn't the message is still broadcast in the Church and can be received into the hearts of those who want to receive it.

Furthermore, there is a responsibility on the part of the individual to take an active part in their faith. I know we're talking about a part of the world where many people were perhaps uneducated, and maybe even illiterate. But that doesn't negate them from talking to the priest after Liturgy, or inviting him into their homes to learn more about their faith.

While over the years priests and Bishops may have made mistakes while spreading the Gospel (or could have spread it more effectively/efficiently) the bottom line is this: The Orthodox Church has been successfully spreading the unchanged word of Truth since 33 A.D. Through the fall of the Byzantine empire, Turkish oppression, and Communist rule, Orthodoxy has been bringing people to Christ in the faith that was established by the Apostles.

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."

And I thought I was so original! j/k  Cheesy
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« Reply #160 on: January 15, 2009, 12:18:57 PM »

^ Funniest post I've read in weeks.

How dare you laugh at scripture Cheesy
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« Reply #161 on: January 15, 2009, 12:34:45 PM »

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.

Okay, fine, we messed up on that one and the Church leaders who made those decisions shall have to answer for that at the dread judgment seat of Christ. (I'm personally not looking forward to the day I have to answer for my actions.  Undecided )

That doesn't negate the truth of our faith. That doesn't negate that the services are scripturally based, and that our beliefs are scripturally based. That doesn't negate the fullness of the faith.

What we keep on trying to say is that as individuals, Church leaders will sin, make mistakes, and do really dumb things at times. But when it comes to the doctrine and dogma of the Church, the doctrine and dogma of the Church is infallible. Now you may say, "Maureen, how can you say that?"

Because when it came to the issues of doctrine and dogma, these fallible Church leaders would get together in large councils, and debate, argue, and pray of doctrine and dogma until the Holy Spirit lead them all to infallible doctrine and dogma. Nothing could be passed as doctrine and dogma unless every single member of the Council felt that the Holy Spirit was leading them to that decision.

That is why I can put my trust in the authority of the Church. Because although a priest or a Bishop may something completely stupid, or do something completely wrong, that doesn't change the truth of the Church.

Example: If for some reason a priest decides to go rob a bank, that doesn't change the doctrine of the Trinity. It just means that the priest needs to repent of his sin, and naturally face whatever consequences the Courts of Justice decide to dish out.

As a Missionary, you are going into a country, and because people aren't worshipping the way you think they ought to, you are trying to change it. You see mistakes and faults in the existing religious system, so you want them to convert to your way of thinking.

What we are saying is that although there may be a need for more priests and Bishops, and there may be some major housecleaning that needs to be done, the truth of the Orthodox faith is valid, and it is not the Orthodox faith that needs to be replaced, just some of their leaders. In other words, don't replace the car, just buy new tires.
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« Reply #162 on: January 15, 2009, 01:00:26 PM »

1) As a Missionary, you are going into a country, and because people aren't worshipping the way you think they ought to, you are trying to change it. You see mistakes and faults in the existing religious system, so you want them to convert ...

2) What we are saying is that although there may be a need for more priests and Bishops, ... it is not the Orthodox faith that needs to be replaced, just some of their leaders.

1) In reality, most of our converts and Christian contacts among the Albanians are from the Moslem majority or from among people who never went to church previously anyway. We are mainly making Christians of non-Christians - I should be more accurate and say "God is making..." - rather than Evangelicals of practising Orthodox.

2) That is why I have encouraged 'Hening' to pursue his interest in Albania, of which he has written, and to become an Orthodox missionary there. He would not be the first American to do so.
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« Reply #163 on: January 15, 2009, 02:29:35 PM »

1) In reality, most of our converts and Christian contacts among the Albanians are from the Moslem majority or from among people who never went to church previously anyway. We are mainly making Christians of non-Christians - I should be more accurate and say "God is making..." - rather than Evangelicals of practising Orthodox.
While I'm happy to hear you're not "stealing sheep" as is happening in Russia and other Orthodox countries, I wish the Moslem's were being introduced to the fullness of the faith rather than just the outside shell.

2) That is why I have encouraged 'Hening' to pursue his interest in Albania, of which he has written, and to become an Orthodox missionary there. He would not be the first American to do so.
This is true. Here's a living example of one: http://www.ocmc.org/missionaries/view_missionary.aspx?MissionaryId=6
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« Reply #164 on: January 15, 2009, 03:51:39 PM »

I'm happy to hear you're not "stealing sheep"

Obviously if a practising Orthodox becomes convinced that the Evangelical version of Christianity is in fact the nearest to the truth, and wishes to join us, he or she is made welcome. But I know of no example in Albania or Kosova where it has happened. People do convert in either direction, and that is part of our treasured heritage of religious freedom.

In re Moslems, I mentioned elsewhere that the Orthodox bishop in Korça, Gjon Pelushi, is a convert from the Bektashi sect of Islam.
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« Reply #165 on: January 15, 2009, 08:28:14 PM »

You must have read the thread where non-Orthodox Greeks are dismissed as "non-entities".
I'm familiar with that thread.  The poster who said such things about non-Orthodox Greeks is known on this forum as an extreme racist, so he doesn't have much credence with us.
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« Reply #166 on: January 16, 2009, 04:33:34 AM »

The poster who said such things ... doesn't have much credence with us.

Thank you for that.
 Smiley
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« Reply #167 on: January 16, 2009, 01:01:51 PM »

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.
It's not that it carries no weight, as, of course we believe that God guided His Church too.  What carries no weight is the notion that God ONLY inspired His Church in determining the Canon and NOT in interpreting it.  This carries no weight whatsoever as you have offered NO PROOF that this is the case.  I say this not to be unkind, but to try and be clear.  We have traced every inch of our faith back as far as physically possible... rather, I should say as far forward, as we begin at Christ and move forward, not backward.  Yet the only proof that you (or any Protestant) has offered is "that doesn't jive with how I read the Scriptures."  You have offered no concrete proof that the Church ever erred!  You cannot pinpoint even ONE specific time, place, and person, that changed the beliefs of the Early Church!  We have asked several times, but nothing has been offered.  All that has been offered is "that is not good enough proof for me."  Then when asked about YOUR reasons for believing what you accept to be Truth, you say "because we find blessings here or there" or "it's faith" or whatnot... but the LASTING faith of the Church, concretely proved to be descended from the apostles and from Christ Himself is not enough for you.  And by "you," I hope you realize that I use it in the general, plural sense of Protestants, not the personal sense.

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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.
This is not actually answering what I said.  Yes, we acknowledge that as well-- He inspired them to include the canonical books and leave others to the side to read and glean what was good to know.  Yet you have not answered what I asserted.  Or maybe you have and I just can't believe what I'm reading, as it seems totally preposterous to think that the Holy Spirit would just use people to establish what He wanted established and then abandon them and leave them to their own devices, to misinterpret everything and misguide all of Christianity!  Ridiculous!

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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.
So that is the drift of your thoughts, then?  That the inspiration was partial, and that God inspired them to preserve and hand down the Scriptures, then 100 years later to actually canonize them, but everything in between and afterward was their own doing, and the Holy Spirit abandoned them?  I have a really hard time accepting that, especially considering that you have offered NO PROOF WHATSOEVER of any of this.   Tongue

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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.
No, not quite right.  My faith is, indeed, in the Scriptures.  But the reason that I have so much faith in the Scriptures and what they say is because someone has helped me understand them in the way they were intended.  Someone has guided me by the hand, so to speak, as a parent does a child, so that when I question what something means, I can trust that the answer is solid and correct.  That someone is the Church.  This is why it's heretical to separate the Scriptures from the other Traditions.  Because when you remove everything else, you are as a child left in the street, with no guide, no one to protect you and help you.  Now I know what the Evangelical response is... "the Holy Spirit is the guide."  Yes, well, the Holy Spirit doesn't just appear and start speaking to us, does He?  No.  The Holy Spirit works THROUGH someone or something.  For Evangelicals, this is supposed to be your heart, right?  Your heart will guide you?  Sorry, I don't buy it.  The Holy Spirit works THROUGH the Church.  That's why Christ instituted it... to guide and help us, to be His body on Earth.  Without the help and guidance of the Church, we are left floundering, coming to our own conclusions, based on what WE THINK God is telling us.

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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.
Here's the difference: we have concrete, traceable evidence to prove (sorry for the legalistic terms) why we believe what we believe about the Church and why we put our trust in Her to guide us through the Scriptures.  You have... what, again?

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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?"
Note that you skipped over part of my statement there.  What I said was, "the problem is how you BELIEVE IN and receive Christ."

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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.
I'm not sure I understand here... are you implying that we here on OC.net are saying this with no proof, or that the Church is saying it with no proof?  Honestly I find either one presumptuous and absurd.  No offense meant by that... I'm sure you didn't mean to be presumptuous, I am pointing that out so that you would examine the whole theme I am offering in this post... the fact that everything you have asserted has been because what the Church believes doesn't agree with what YOU think.  Your assertions of the Church being in error, wrongful doctrines in the early church, and the very existence and fact of Ignatius (and others) has been based merely in what YOU think and what YOU believe (what proof can you offer that Ignatius was NOT bishop in 68, among other things?).  There has been no other proof offered on your part.  Can you see, then, why we say that each Protestant is his own Pope?  The burden of proof is on you, my friend.  We have 2000 years of doctrine, dogma, writing, history, documentation, etc. to back us up.  What do you have?  How are you NOT your own pope?

In Christ,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #168 on: January 16, 2009, 06:33:53 PM »

    What carries no weight is the notion that God ONLY inspired His Church in determining the Canon and NOT in interpreting it.  ... it seems totally preposterous to think that the Holy Spirit would just use people to establish what He wanted established and then abandon them and leave them to their own devices, to misinterpret everything
    ... and the Holy Spirit abandoned them? 

    The Holy Spirit works THROUGH someone or something.  For Evangelicals, this is supposed to be your heart, right?  Your heart will guide you? ... Without the help and guidance of the Church, we are left floundering, coming to our own conclusions, based on what WE THINK God is telling us.

    are you implying that we here on OC.net are saying this with no proof,

    I suppose it boils down to what we understand by our Lord's words:

    I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

    I have hinted at this in previous posts. A number of questions arise, for example:

    Has the Holy Spirit finished leading the church into all truth?

    If not, then your church cannot yet have the fulness of faith, so I guess we both agree that the process has finished. The church has been led into all truth.

    What is meant by "all truth"?

    He cannot mean omniscience, for "the hidden things belong to God." He cannot mean pansophia, for there are many things which there would be no point whatever in knowing, and which do not touch on our relationship with God, our salvation, or anything else of significance. So what is "all truth"? We say it was the scriptures; you say it was the scriptures+Tradition. It seems to me that both positions are in fact acts of faith; neither is susceptible to proof that would satisfy an outsider.

    When was the fulfilment of the promise reached?

    "All truth" must have a reference or a link to the things He said they could not bear before his crucifixion. I could consider an argument for this reaching fulfilment at the close of the age of the ecumenical councils. I am not advancing this argument: I am saying it would be reasonable if someone did advance it.

    So we have arrived at four possible meanings (so far!):

    - the completion of the writing of the scriptures
    - the completion of the agreed fixing of the Canon
    - the end of the age of ecumenical councils
    - Orthodox Tradition continuing beyond all of these

    I suppose you and I (I mean GreekChef and I, because this happens to be an attempted reply to her post) have a long period of settled personal conviction behind us in one or other of these positions - GreekChef not yet so long as I, judging from the enviably youthful appearance on the photograph. Each of us perhaps has an even longer and deeper period of family tradition in the same position. I rather doubt that either of us, however eloquently and cogently we debated, would finally persuade the other - neither has it been my goal to do so. What would be the point if I did?

    Regarding whether it is 'our heart' that guides us, I wrote at some length in a previous post that the Protestant heritage of sustained doctrine and piety acts upon us in a similar way to how Holy Tradition acts upon you, and keeps us 'in the strait and narrow'. No, it is not the individual's heart that is his personal Herr Ratzinger or other papal figure; there are hundreds of years (not, as in your case, thousands) against which to check ourselves. And there are churches, sermons, fellow Christians, books, hymns. Although most do not use a formal liturgy in the way Orthodox do (and I wish we were more liturgical), our hymns fulfil a similar function, expressing our yearnings, faith, prayers and so on. No: only a fool would set himself up as his own pope.

    Your last quoted question refers to proof of the approximate date of Ignatius' appointment as bishop at Antioch. I was only asking whether there is any contemporary written record of it, rather than only faith in an oral tradition written down much later. I confess I have not yet looked up the history books to find out: I thought someone might save me the trouble, by pointing me to the appropriate reference.
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    « Reply #169 on: January 16, 2009, 08:42:45 PM »

      What carries no weight is the notion that God ONLY inspired His Church in determining the Canon and NOT in interpreting it.  ... it seems totally preposterous to think that the Holy Spirit would just use people to establish what He wanted established and then abandon them and leave them to their own devices, to misinterpret everything
      ... and the Holy Spirit abandoned them? 

      The Holy Spirit works THROUGH someone or something.  For Evangelicals, this is supposed to be your heart, right?  Your heart will guide you? ... Without the help and guidance of the Church, we are left floundering, coming to our own conclusions, based on what WE THINK God is telling us.

      are you implying that we here on OC.net are saying this with no proof,

      I suppose it boils down to what we understand by our Lord's words:

      I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

      I have hinted at this in previous posts. A number of questions arise, for example:

      Has the Holy Spirit finished leading the church into all truth?

      If not, then your church cannot yet have the fulness of faith, so I guess we both agree that the process has finished. The church has been led into all truth.


      It's not a case of finished or unfinished...it's a case of the Holy Spirit acting when necessary.[/list]
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      « Reply #170 on: January 16, 2009, 11:28:46 PM »

      I suppose it boils down to what we understand by our Lord's words:

      I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.

      I have hinted at this in previous posts. A number of questions arise, for example:

      Has the Holy Spirit finished leading the church into all truth?

      If not, then your church cannot yet have the fulness of faith, so I guess we both agree that the process has finished. The church has been led into all truth.

      What is meant by "all truth"?

      He cannot mean omniscience, for "the hidden things belong to God." He cannot mean pansophia, for there are many things which there would be no point whatever in knowing, and which do not touch on our relationship with God, our salvation, or anything else of significance. So what is "all truth"? We say it was the scriptures; you say it was the scriptures+Tradition. It seems to me that both positions are in fact acts of faith; neither is susceptible to proof that would satisfy an outsider.

      When was the fulfilment of the promise reached?

      "All truth" must have a reference or a link to the things He said they could not bear before his crucifixion. I could consider an argument for this reaching fulfilment at the close of the age of the ecumenical councils. I am not advancing this argument: I am saying it would be reasonable if someone did advance it.

      So we have arrived at four possible meanings (so far!):

      - the completion of the writing of the scriptures
      - the completion of the agreed fixing of the Canon
      - the end of the age of ecumenical councils
      - Orthodox Tradition continuing beyond all of these
      You're missing something, though.  Guidance into all truth doesn't merely mean the revelation of the full truth, as you assume.  It also means growth into deeper knowledge of the truth that has already been revealed, a deepening of knowledge that can never end.  This, too, is the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
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      « Reply #171 on: January 17, 2009, 05:37:07 AM »

      Peter and Ukiemeister:

      It's not a case of finished or unfinished...it's a case of the Holy Spirit acting when necessary.

      Guidance into all truth doesn't merely mean the revelation of the full truth... It also means growth into deeper knowledge of the truth that has already been revealed,


      I entirely agree. I have always taken that to be a different work of God's Spirit from what our Lord promised in John 16 (quote above). I may be wrong on John 16, but be that as it may, I certainly agree with you both here.
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      « Reply #172 on: January 17, 2009, 06:20:42 AM »

      I thank God for the FULLNESS of the faith that is Orthodoxy, preserved and defended, transmitted and received, lovingly handed down over the ages

      I think you, GreekChef, and I sometimes get the uneasy feeling we are going round in circles, or are indulging in what the Germans charmingly call Aneinandervorbeireden (talking past one another). I have wondered why.

      Could it boil down to this? That we start from quite different ground, but each is assuming the other can be brought round to his/her own point of view.

      Your belief is that there exists such a thing as "the only true church". I know I put that rather crassly, but you know what I mean.

      I start from the belief that there exists no such thing as "the only true Church".

      As far as I know, there are only two claimants to the title: Rome and Orthodoxy. (I am not aware of such bodies as Copts, Waldensians etc making that claim.) Let me say at once that, if I believed there was such an entity as the only true church, I think you have a much stronger case than Rome and I would 'vote' for Orthodoxy every time. You win (I think) every argument...

      ...except the basic one, which is: Does such a thing exist in the first place?

      As you know, our view is that - as you rightly say yourselves - the Lord has only one Body; but we believe that body is made up of all the redeemed, invisibly joined in union with Christ by his indwelling Spirit, whether they come to him through Orthodoxy (as you have, it seems (I say that, only because you rightly say that in the final analysis only God knows who is saved, not because I imply any doubt on my part of your salvation)), through Methodism (as I did), and so on.

      Our discussions have perhaps more opportunity to benefit me than they have to benefit you good people, because when we disagree I am free to give serious thought to your words and to change if you persuade me. In this way, as I have written a number of times on these threads, I have been able to derive spiritual nourishment from a wide range of sources - all truly Christian, of course, I do not mean sects, Moslems, and so forth. But whenever we disagree, you are all obliged by your tenets to fall back on the infallible teaching of the only true church.

      I think in that way that you are restricted, or impoverished; but of course, from your point of view, it is we others who are. And so we go round and round.

      But let me add this: that I don't think I ever understood why Orthodox believe they are the only true church till I joined this net, and so I have learned a lot and perhaps grown a little in tolerance. I suppose, years ago, I just felt - as doubtless many Evangelicals do - that you (and Catholics) are dissatisfied with the religion the Lord deposited in this world, and so have in a self-willed manner added to it whatever your leaders dreamed up, till in the end (1872 wasn't it?) one of them declares himself infallible.

      I see that it is not like that at all. This, I hope, has been good for me.
      « Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 06:23:07 AM by David Young » Logged

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      « Reply #173 on: January 17, 2009, 07:45:59 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.

      I'm sorry if I may be repeating what others may have already said, but the Bible itself may not agree with Sola Scriptura. If we read St. Paul's letter to Timothy, (I forgot the verse), where he advises Timothy to use Scripture for teaching and correction, logic would tell us that St. Paul wasn't referring to what we now call as the "Bible". He meant the Old Testament which was already written long ago. So if we take this literally wouldn't that mean that the New Testament shouldn't be used for "teaching and correction''? 
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      « Reply #174 on: January 17, 2009, 09:56:50 AM »

      MORE ON CALVINISM

      This may not be strictly relevant to this thread, but it has been raised in the discussion, so I feel free to expatiate. Another caveat before I begin: I have written some of this before, but I cannot remember whether it was on an open thread, or in a personal communication to one of you. Forgive me if I am becoming repetitive!

      The Calvinist “knows” five things:

      -   men have fallen so far away from God into death in sin, that they have no ability and no free will to return to God
      -   God has chosen a limited number for salvation, without making prior works or worthiness a consideration or condition
      -   Christ died for that limited number of elect, and for no-one else
      -   when God, by the Holy Spirit through the Gospel, calls a sinner to come, that sinner will respond; none of the elect will fail to come
      -   all the elect, once saved, will be preserved in faith till the end of their lives; none will be lost.

      On the other hand, the Arminian “knows”:

      -   man has the capacity to respond to the Gospel call
      -   Christ died for all, making salvation potentially possible to all men
      -   salvation, once entered, can be lost.

      Now a few personal words. The mysterious thing (to me) is that all those teachings can be found in scripture except (I believe) limited atonement. I could, if so minded, produce a sermon, Bible study or article on any of them and no twisting of the verses I used would be required. Indeed, some wag said that there is no Calvinist or Arminian who would not advise St Paul to re-write certain verses of his epistles, if standing behind looking over his shoulder as he wrote.

      Now the irony I have expressed before. If all these teachings (except limited atonement) are plainly in scripture, and if logic cannot hold them simultaneously nor fit them together, we have a number of options:

      -   we can abandon the ‘Calvinist’ verses
      -   we can abandon the ‘Arminian’ verses
      -   we can abandon logic.

      One of the major features that attracted me to Orthodoxy (that made me ‘look east’ as it were) is your giving room for mystery: not knowing all the answers, being apophatic, not relying on aristotelian logic. And this debate between general and particular redemption was the main matter which made me seek for a more apophatic approach. Now here is the irony: on this question you have a very firm answer!

      I am still drawn to your apophatic approach to religion; but on this point you seem (from reading posts here, and for that matter the Decrees of Dositheus) to have firmly chosen option 1 rather than option 3!
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      « Reply #175 on: January 17, 2009, 10:04:01 AM »

      I'm sorry if I may be repeating what others may have already said...

      No need to apologise. And I fully agree with your post (which I have not quoted in full as it just above), except the bit that says that certain verses imply that the NT should not be used for correction etc. (But in any case you agree with me that it should.) My reasons for adopting a sola scriptura basis for my beliefs do not include the idea that the Bible claims these things for itself.

      The verses you refer to in Paul's writings to Timothy are beloved of inerrantists and Fundamentalists, but as you rightly say, they cannot carry the weight which those good people seek to lay upon them.

      It is always heartening when I can agree with an Orthodox post!  Smiley
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      « Reply #176 on: January 17, 2009, 03:04:32 PM »

      Quote
      The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos." 

      From Dr Christopher Samuel:

      You'll appreciate that my comments so far are based on the statements
      of standard commentaries, all protestant, even evangelical, of
      course, and not on my own research. I readily admit that I don't have
      the feel for Greek that I think I am beginning to have for Hebrew.
      None of the sources to which I have access give detailed discussion
      with examples, but a couple of them do cite an earlier commentary on
      Matthew by McNeile, published in 1915.

      It might help to clarify what is actually being claimed by each
      party. Your correspondent appears to be claiming that 'not A until B'
      precludes 'A after B'. He also seems to be assuming that the
      so-called protestant position is that 'not A until B' requires 'A
      after B'. That is not quite the case. All I would claim is that 'not
      A until B' permits 'A after B'.

      If that is the case, then this verse does not address the alleged
      perpetual virginity of Mary and that issue has to be decided on other
      grounds such as the normal practice in Jewish marriages and the
      references to Jesus' brothers and sisters. Those can of course be
      interpreted differently, but it would seem to me that their most
      natural interpretation, in the absence of biblical or theological
      evidence to the contrary, is that, after the birth of Jesus, Joseph
      and Mary had normal marital sex and that other children resulted from it.

      It may be that a proper study of the implications of the heos hou
      construction has already been published, perhaps in the McNeile
      commentary, but I have neither the tools nor the expertise necessary
      to do it. It would take a wide study of the construction, matching as
      far as possible such factors as the type of Greek - Hellenistic
      rather than classical - and time frame - past tense rather than
      future - and otehr syntactic factors. It might also be better to
      avoid translation Greek such as the LXX.

      A key factor to be matched would be that the A clause must be negated
      if it is to be relevant. Thus your correspondents examples #2 (Psa
      109:1, LXX) and #3 (Matt 28:20) do not meet this criterion. The
      others, #1 (Gen 8:7) and #4 (2Sa 6:23), do so, but the syntactic
      match is less than ideal; in Gen 8:7 the B clause is the genitive of
      an articular infinitive and in 2Sa 6:23 heos is functioning as a
      preposition governing a noun phrase and not as a conjunction at all.
      As I said, I lack the feel for Greek to know whether that is significant.

      A quick search of the NT has show some counter-examples, but none of
      them has an exact syntactic match that I would like to see:
      John 13:38              the cock did crow after Peter disowned Jesus
      Luke 22:18              I would assume that Jesus expected to drink
      wine after the kingdom comes, at least at the wedding feast of the lamb
      Acts 23:12, 14, 21      presumably those who made the vow intended to
      eat and drink after killing Paul

      As I said, none of these is ideal because they relate to a future
      time frame. A few such examples, however, would suffice to establish
      the claim that 'not A until B' does not preclude 'A after B' and it
      is a small step to claiming that 'not A until B' permits 'A after B'.
      « Last Edit: January 17, 2009, 03:05:04 PM by David Young » Logged

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      « Reply #177 on: January 20, 2009, 07:44:31 AM »

      If that is the case, then this verse does not address the alleged
      perpetual virginity of Mary and that issue has to be decided on other
      grounds such as the normal practice in Jewish marriages and the
      references to Jesus' brothers and sisters. Those can of course be
      interpreted differently, but it would seem to me that their most
      natural interpretation, in the absence of biblical or theological
      evidence to the contrary, is that, after the birth of Jesus, Joseph
      and Mary had normal marital sex and that other children resulted from it.
      This is illogical. It assumes that Joseph and Mary were married. They never were; they were only betrothed, and therefore by normal practice in Jewish betrothals, Mary would have remained a virgin.
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      « Reply #178 on: January 29, 2009, 07:10:18 AM »

      Scripture is meant to be understood in the context of the Church. The Bible was handed BY THE Church, and not handed down TO THE CHURCH. The Church has always held on to the faith of the apostles long before there was St. Paul's writings to guide them. In fact, it was because that the faith has ALWAYS BEEN THERE that the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, made the canon of scripture. Of course the Bible doesn't contradict what the Church has believed in, because the faith has always been there, and the books of the Bible were chosen according to their relevance to that faith. That is why (at least in my opinion), the Church did not include writings such as the Gospel of St. Thomas, and other gnostic Gospels, because they were against what the Apostles and their disciples have always believed in. The Antiquity of the faith precedes the canon of scripture.
      The Epistle of St. Jude for example, is a clear testimony to the fact that the faith came before the scripture became some sort of a guide. St. Jude exorts his readers to "maintain the faith" and to war against heterodoxy. And at that time, they didn't have a Bible to "teach" them, who these "heterodox" were, and what errors were there in their heresies.
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      « Reply #179 on: January 29, 2009, 08:02:56 AM »

      Quote
      The word often argued over, "until" IN Matthew 1:25 is a mistranslation of "eos." 

      From Dr Christopher Samuel:

      You'll appreciate that my comments so far are based on the statements
      of standard commentaries, all protestant, even evangelical, of
      course, and not on my own research. I readily admit that I don't have
      the feel for Greek that I think I am beginning to have for Hebrew.
      None of the sources to which I have access give detailed discussion
      with examples, but a couple of them do cite an earlier commentary on
      Matthew by McNeile, published in 1915.

      It might help to clarify what is actually being claimed by each
      party. Your correspondent appears to be claiming that 'not A until B'
      precludes 'A after B'. He also seems to be assuming that the
      so-called protestant position is that 'not A until B' requires 'A
      after B'. That is not quite the case. All I would claim is that 'not
      A until B' permits 'A after B'.

      If that is the case, then this verse does not address the alleged
      perpetual virginity of Mary and that issue has to be decided on other
      grounds such as the normal practice in Jewish marriages and the
      references to Jesus' brothers and sisters. Those can of course be
      interpreted differently, but it would seem to me that their most
      natural interpretation, in the absence of biblical or theological
      evidence to the contrary, is that, after the birth of Jesus, Joseph
      and Mary had normal marital sex and that other children resulted from it.

      It may be that a proper study of the implications of the heos hou
      construction has already been published, perhaps in the McNeile
      commentary, but I have neither the tools nor the expertise necessary
      to do it. It would take a wide study of the construction, matching as
      far as possible such factors as the type of Greek - Hellenistic
      rather than classical - and time frame - past tense rather than
      future - and otehr syntactic factors. It might also be better to
      avoid translation Greek such as the LXX.

      A key factor to be matched would be that the A clause must be negated
      if it is to be relevant. Thus your correspondents examples #2 (Psa
      109:1, LXX) and #3 (Matt 28:20) do not meet this criterion. The
      others, #1 (Gen 8:7) and #4 (2Sa 6:23), do so, but the syntactic
      match is less than ideal; in Gen 8:7 the B clause is the genitive of
      an articular infinitive and in 2Sa 6:23 heos is functioning as a
      preposition governing a noun phrase and not as a conjunction at all.
      As I said, I lack the feel for Greek to know whether that is significant.

      A quick search of the NT has show some counter-examples, but none of
      them has an exact syntactic match that I would like to see:
      John 13:38              the cock did crow after Peter disowned Jesus
      Luke 22:18              I would assume that Jesus expected to drink
      wine after the kingdom comes, at least at the wedding feast of the lamb
      Acts 23:12, 14, 21      presumably those who made the vow intended to
      eat and drink after killing Paul

      As I said, none of these is ideal because they relate to a future
      time frame. A few such examples, however, would suffice to establish
      the claim that 'not A until B' does not preclude 'A after B' and it
      is a small step to claiming that 'not A until B' permits 'A after B'.


      2 Kingdoms (Samuel) 6:23: καὶ τῇ μελχολ θυγατρὶ σαουλ οὐκ ἐγένετο παιδίον ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας τοῦ ἀποθανεῖν αὐτήν.

      Matthew 1:23 καὶ οὐκ ἐγίνωσκεν αὐτὴν ἕως οὗ ἔτεκε τὸν υἱόν αὐτῆς τὸν πρωτότοκον, καὶ ἐκάλεσε τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν.

      Michal's death and Christ's birth did happen.
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