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Author Topic: Sola Scriptura - A Diversion From the True Word of God  (Read 24135 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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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.

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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)?

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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. 

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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. 

Forgive me a sinner,
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.







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[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?

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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?

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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
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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:
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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What would convince you that they are

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

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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.

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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.

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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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 06:16:47 AM by David Young » Logged

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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.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2009, 07:11:07 AM by Cleopas » Logged

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