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?
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:
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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!
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!!!