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Author Topic: Sola Scriptura - A Diversion From the True Word of God  (Read 22388 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #90 on: January 08, 2009, 08:21:31 AM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sola Scriptura ...is a modern Protestant dogma

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ignatius / GreekChef - a further thought on tradition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ordination of women

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


Yes; I was referring to my reply to your observation that Protestants don't read the Fathers but they do read "Calvin, Luther, Wesley and the like". I said I wish they did read these men. Then I amended my comment in my later post, to express the wish that they might read Luther, Wesley and the like. I find that people who read Calvin have a tendency to become cold and exclusive.

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the Gospels ... were canonised.  The other books were labeled "good for reading."  In other words, they help us along the way.  They are authoritative. 

They do - but they're not! "Luther, Wesley and the like" help us along the way, but they are fallible men, not the word of God. Many authors have composed books which tell us...

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what must we know to attain salvation.

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But to lose the fathers means we won't understand the Scripture the way it was intended.

This is what you and others on the forum have said before: it is what needs to be established.

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You make it sound as though you picked up a little trivia from them, here and there. 

Not trivia. I am far less widely read than I should like to be - doubtless we all are - but from contemporary writers like Alistair McGrath and Tom Wright, back through the centuries as far as Clement of Rome (through Wesley, the Moravians, the mediæval Catholics, Bede, Gregory the Great), I believe I have been taught, instructed, corrected, nourished and edified. Their writings are not trivial: but we hold that the scriptures themselves carry a unique authority. To disagree with the scriptures is not permitted; to believe other writers may err is permitted.

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Do not all the reasons you have given ...actually make you the judge of truth? 

I addressed this possibility at some length in my joint reply to your and ignatius's recent posts, so need not repeat myself now.

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My personal feeling ... is that the "latter rain," as you call it, was in fact one of the greatest tragedies to befall Christianity. 

How can any one read the life, work and devotional writings of a man like Zinzendorf and feel it was a tragedy? I choose Zinzendorf, because with my limited knowledge of church history, he and the people with him seem to me to be beginning of what I have by geographical analogy likened to the Palestinian latter rain. He was entirely taken up with Christ, and devoted his wealth, energy and life to serving him.

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the disciples of Peter, John, and the like ...I definitely see the Holy Spirit in that!

Amen. But that doesn't make them infallible. We keep talking about Ignatius (the one with the capital I) and I confess I know so little about him, but I have begun re-reading. My own edition of the apostolic Fathers is neither Protestant nor Orthodox, but is a secular edition published because of their historical and literary significance. That is, the book has no axe to grind; it cares nothing for your church or mine, or probably any other. It says we know virtually nothing about Ignatius beyond his martyrdom. You seem to know a good deal more. If my salvation hung on the conviction that his writings contain truth additional to the scriptures which is necessary for salvation, I should be solemnly alarmed. As it is, I shall read more, and probably in other books too.

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DMY: This is one of your strongest points yet, and I offer no answer. The thought troubles me, and has done since long before I discovered Orthodoxy

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

Most religious movements seem to be loyal to the beliefs of their founders for a generation or two at least. Even Wesley's remained solidly loyal from his death in 1791 till, say, the 1860s, and the decay which set in then took some fifty years to become dominant. That is what I was referring to.

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My bishop said , "Satan works through even the best of intentions."

Wise man! But Satan does not make people deeply repentant for their sin, nor drive them to Christ as the only Saviour, the Son of God, the coming Judge of all men, whom we should seek to obey above all other ambitions.

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If the fathers were sincere and the Protestant writers were sincere, what separates them?

That is too vast a question. Both sets of men wrote prolifically, and if I lived twice as long as Bilbo I could not gain sufficient knowledge of both sets to answer your question worthily.

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many of the fathers wrote around the same time as the Gospels were actually written down?  The Gospel of Mark wasn't written down until around 65 a.d. 

Ignatius wrote his epistles on his way to martyrdom in 117 AD. If your date for Mark's Gospel is correct (and I have no reason to date it), that makes more than half a century between them. There is time for theological development during that period, even for additions to the faith once delivered.

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how did the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to teach Mark correctly and Ignatius incorrectly? 

The Holy Spirit led Mark to write with inspiration. I dare say Peter taught them both the same, if indeed he did teach them both: I know too little of Ignatius' life story to agree or disagree on that point. Mark didn't explain or interpret our Lord's words when He instituted the 'deipnos mystikos' at the Last Supper. He recorded the words (infallibly) but added no commentary.

I think I need more knowledge of the apostolic Fathers, their dates, their early contacts, their links with the apostles, to follow this - and I am reading about it. We talk about Ignatius, Justin, the Didache and Irenæus more than Clement, Polycarp, 'Hermas' or Papias. I know so little at present about any of them: is it because the first four were more influential in the development of Holy Tradition than the last four mentioned?
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« Reply #100 on: January 09, 2009, 12:42:31 PM »


Yes; I was referring to my reply to your observation that Protestants don't read the Fathers but they do read "Calvin, Luther, Wesley and the like". I said I wish they did read these men. Then I amended my comment in my later post, to express the wish that they might read Luther, Wesley and the like. I find that people who read Calvin have a tendency to become cold and exclusive.
LOVE THIS!  Smiley

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the Gospels ... were canonised.  The other books were labeled "good for reading."  In other words, they help us along the way.  They are authoritative. 

They do - but they're not! "Luther, Wesley and the like" help us along the way, but they are fallible men, not the word of God. Many authors have composed books which tell us...
I think you may have misunderstood something.  The writings of the fathers indeed help us along the way.  But you would be hard pressed to find any Orthodox who would tell you that they are infallibe.  No single father is infallible.  No single father is authoritative.  I tried to correct this earlier with Ignatius, but I don't think I got the point across very well.  Since he has been our example along the way...  Ignatius in and of himself is not authoritative or infallible.  He is one of many fathers who have written and together have conveyed what the church already believed.  It is the CONSENSUS of the fathers that is authoritative-- that is, the conscience of the church, the Holy Spirit working in the church, guiding us through the hand of the fathers-- not any single father, but all of them together.  This is why it is okay that they sometimes disagree.  None of them was infallible, none was perfect.  We accept what they said correctly, and leave whatever they may not have.  Being incorrect about one thing doesn't invalidate the other, wonderful things that they said which have guided us in the correct faith.  And even then, of course, their authority is second to that of the Scriptures.  What they say MUST agree with the Scriptures, or it is not accepted by the church. 

It's like checks and balances-- they write to help us understand the Scriptures (Holy Spirit at work inspiring them), therefore they must agree with the Scriptures.  Then they have to be accepted by the Church (Holy Spirit at work-- the conscience of the Church).  It is all together, in balance.  Individually they, and we, are checked and balanced by eachother, by the church, by the Scriptures, ALL with the help of the Holy Spirit.  So that none falls away and none takes the wrong path.  I think it works pretty well, personally.

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what must we know to attain salvation.

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But to lose the fathers means we won't understand the Scripture the way it was intended.

This is what you and others on the forum have said before: it is what needs to be established.
This is circular logic.  You say that this is what needs to be established.  But when we offer all the ways which those who fell away have gone wrong, you ask how we know and we say the continuity of the faith in the Church, the original understanding as was held in the Early Church, and you say that it needs to be established.  We're chasing our tails here.

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You make it sound as though you picked up a little trivia from them, here and there. 

Not trivia. I am far less widely read than I should like to be - doubtless we all are - but from contemporary writers like Alistair McGrath and Tom Wright, back through the centuries as far as Clement of Rome (through Wesley, the Moravians, the mediæval Catholics, Bede, Gregory the Great), I believe I have been taught, instructed, corrected, nourished and edified. Their writings are not trivial: but we hold that the scriptures themselves carry a unique authority. To disagree with the scriptures is not permitted; to believe other writers may err is permitted.
I'm sure you have been taught, instructed, corrected-- the question is whether all of this was in the correct faith.  I don't mean that to sound harsh... but isn't this the question we're trying to answer?  Whether you, the Protestants, or we, the Orthodox, have been instructed in the correct faith?  We have established that we can't both have been.
As to finding nourishment and edification, I'm sure you have.  I find MUCH nourishment and edification in C.S. Lewis.  But it doesn't make it correct dogma. 

So you are correct and we believe the same-- to disagree with the Scriptures is not permitted; to believe other writers may err is permitted.  We most certainly believe that the fathers, individually, may have erred here and there.  As I said before, it is the continuous witness and the consensus of their witness (and the Church's witness) which we accept and follow.

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Do not all the reasons you have given ...actually make you the judge of truth? 

I addressed this possibility at some length in my joint reply to your and ignatius's recent posts, so need not repeat myself now.

I think it is this that you are referring to?

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We have our revered writers and preachers, and our confessions of faith, but none is regarded as infallible. Nonetheless, they are largely trusted as guides, but always subject to scripture. None has the divine stamp of authority that the scriptures have. In addition, I attend Bible studies where we discuss passages; I listen weekly to sermons (unless I am preaching them myself); I sing good hymns; I read edifying books; I remain steadfastly in membership of a local church; I discuss religious matters informally with Christian friends, not only in the formal setting of a church Bible study, but in e-mails, in the pub, on walks in the mountains. In these and doubtless other ways I am kept within the tradition of faith and practice that has developed over the past 500 years or so of Protestant life – longer than that if you want to go back to the Anabaptists, the Waldensians etc.
Again, I'll just say I think that you are misunderstanding the authority that the fathers have in the Church.  Their consensus and the continuous witness they provide, and the continuity handed down through the Church-- this is what is authoritative.  And again, it is still not on the level with Scripture.  Scripture is always number one.  The rest, I think, I responded to elsewhere (no doubt in my usual long-winded fashion).

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My personal feeling ... is that the "latter rain," as you call it, was in fact one of the greatest tragedies to befall Christianity. 

How can any one read the life, work and devotional writings of a man like Zinzendorf and feel it was a tragedy? I choose Zinzendorf, because with my limited knowledge of church history, he and the people with him seem to me to be beginning of what I have by geographical analogy likened to the Palestinian latter rain. He was entirely taken up with Christ, and devoted his wealth, energy and life to serving him.
I haven't read much Zinzendorf, to be honest.  I apologize.  I'll have to pull him out (what I have is in an anthology... for more I'll have to go looking). 
I still say it was a tragedy.  I don't think that you are understanding why, though.  For us, the continuity of the faith and the preservation and championship of the faith of the apostles is extremely important.  It is sad, to us, to see anyone fall away from the Church and "go it on their own" so to speak.  It is sad to see the faith ripped apart into so many factions which believe such strange, new, innovative teachings (which we are clearly warned of in the Scriptures).  It is sad to see others led away as a result of the innovators.  Yes, the intentions may be good.  Yes, some may lead inspired lives of faith despite the innovations and wrong teachings.  But others will truly be lost as a result, I feel sure.  Because the Reformation, we have ended up with all kinds of truly frightening doctrines all the way down to Jehovah's witnesses and Mormons!  This is what is tragic.  For the rest of the Christian world, the Apostolic faith has been all but lost.  So, despite Zinzendorf's inspired life, great faith and works, his writings (as well as others, obviously) will lead (and have led) others to wrong faith.  This is tragic. 

I'm sorry we got into that part.  I shouldn't have opened my mouth.  As I said, the response from me regarding this is very personal (mostly because of my grandparents) and it is difficult for me to explain why, and probably not something I should be publicly declaring my opinion about all over the internet.  My apologies.

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the disciples of Peter, John, and the like ...I definitely see the Holy Spirit in that!

Amen. But that doesn't make them infallible. We keep talking about Ignatius (the one with the capital I) and I confess I know so little about him, but I have begun re-reading. My own edition of the apostolic Fathers is neither Protestant nor Orthodox, but is a secular edition published because of their historical and literary significance. That is, the book has no axe to grind; it cares nothing for your church or mine, or probably any other. It says we know virtually nothing about Ignatius beyond his martyrdom. You seem to know a good deal more. If my salvation hung on the conviction that his writings contain truth additional to the scriptures which is necessary for salvation, I should be solemnly alarmed. As it is, I shall read more, and probably in other books too.
I think I addressed their "infallibility" above. 

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DMY: This is one of your strongest points yet, and I offer no answer. The thought troubles me, and has done since long before I discovered Orthodoxy

GC: And just out of curiosity, how does one rationalize that...?
Most religious movements seem to be loyal to the beliefs of their founders for a generation or two at least. Even Wesley's remained solidly loyal from his death in 1791 till, say, the 1860s, and the decay which set in then took some fifty years to become dominant. That is what I was referring to.
I'm a little confused now.  I understood you to mean that you in fact find it difficult to believe that the Church would fall away from correct belief after only thirty years or so after Christ.  Did I understand you correctly?  If so, how do you rationalize this belief-- that the Church fell away so soon?

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My bishop said , "Satan works through even the best of intentions."

Wise man! But Satan does not make people deeply repentant for their sin, nor drive them to Christ as the only Saviour, the Son of God, the coming Judge of all men, whom we should seek to obey above all other ambitions.
As I said above, I have no doubt there are plenty of people out there like that.  But that doesn't make the loss of tradition, the separation of the Church, the rejection of the Apostolic beliefs correct! 

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If the fathers were sincere and the Protestant writers were sincere, what separates them?

That is too vast a question. Both sets of men wrote prolifically, and if I lived twice as long as Bilbo I could not gain sufficient knowledge of both sets to answer your question worthily.
And yet, it is a question that must be answered, otherwise, frankly, I think your logic for rejecting the fathers (as a movement, not so much you individually) and accepting the Protestant writers fails!  I'll tell you what I think separates them-- continuity of the faith, continued witness of the Church, what they wrote (no matter when they wrote, because, again, it is the consensus that is important) has been believed since the Apostles.  I'm sorry, but the Protestant writers just can't claim that!

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many of the fathers wrote around the same time as the Gospels were actually written down?  The Gospel of Mark wasn't written down until around 65 a.d. 

Ignatius wrote his epistles on his way to martyrdom in 117 AD. If your date for Mark's Gospel is correct (and I have no reason to date it), that makes more than half a century between them. There is time for theological development during that period, even for additions to the faith once delivered.
Ahhh... flawed logic.  This goes back to my question from before.  What makes you think that Peter taught Ignatius so incorrectly that he would have LOST the faith, LOST the intended meaning of Christ's words in such a short time?  Do you think that in the few decades between when Mark was physically written down and when Ignatius' epistles were physically written down, that he would have CHANGED the faith?  How can you prove to me that what he taught throughout his ministry (and eventually wrote down when he saw his life coming to an end) was different from what he wrote down?  Or that what he taught and wrote down was different from what Peter taught? 

How does one have such little faith to think that those closest to the Apostles and to Christ would have lost what Christ taught in such a short time?  This makes me so sad. 

You say, "there is time," but offer no proof whatsoever that any development actually happened--except that YOUR reading (and that of Protestants of general) of Christ's words at the Mystical Supper isn't in agreement!  Just because it's not so obvious to you, it must be that Ignatius(and the rest of the Church, with whom he was in agreement) must have changed it!?  Hogwash (my new favorite word)!  We offer solid proof, evidence of what the Church believed, but you (again, not you specifically, Protestants in general) reject it in favor of innovators from centuries later who read it and took what they wanted because their faith was so weak that they couldn't believe God would work that miracle for the faithful when they asked at every Liturgy!  I daresay your faith is not that weak!

He was also a disciple of John, don't forget.  And John's gospel was not penned until much later than Mark's (I can't remember the actual date-- maybe someone can help me out).  John dictated the gospel toward the end of his life, after Revelation, and did so to fill in the gaps that were left in the synoptics (the things that Matthew, Mark, and Luke "forgot").  If Ignatius had been teaching incorrectly all that time, don't you think John would have corrected him?  Or don't you think Ignatius would have corrected himself in light of John?  Or don't you think the people would have rejected Ignatius if what he taught was indeed incorrect?  There are just too many questions for which you offer no proof.  But you doubt all the proof that we offer... and on what grounds?

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how did the Holy Spirit inspire Peter to teach Mark correctly and Ignatius incorrectly? 

The Holy Spirit led Mark to write with inspiration. I dare say Peter taught them both the same, if indeed he did teach them both: I know too little of Ignatius' life story to agree or disagree on that point. Mark didn't explain or interpret our Lord's words when He instituted the 'deipnos mystikos' at the Last Supper. He recorded the words (infallibly) but added no commentary.
Personally, considering that it was, in fact, the faith of the Church that the Eucharist was Christ's body and blood, I would say Mark probably didn't feel he needed to.  I imagine he felt it was clear enough... THIS IS MY BODY, THIS IS MY BLOOD and all...

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I think I need more knowledge of the apostolic Fathers, their dates, their early contacts, their links with the apostles, to follow this - and I am reading about it. We talk about Ignatius, Justin, the Didache and Irenæus more than Clement, Polycarp, 'Hermas' or Papias. I know so little at present about any of them: is it because the first four were more influential in the development of Holy Tradition than the last four mentioned?
Not really, no.  I wouldn't say that.  I just offered who I did because I like them, because they were pertinent to the discussion, because they are clear and not easily misinterpreted.  I'm glad to hear you are reading about it.  I, too, need to do more reading.  Always. 

Sorry if this is yet another one of my long-winded posts.  I'm really trying...  Some things necessitate more explanation than others, and I guess I'm just not good at being succinct.  I'll try to respond to your other post today as well.  These take me forever to respond to, cause I have to stop and think about them a lot.  Smiley
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« Reply #101 on: January 09, 2009, 01:44:26 PM »

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Briefly for now:

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

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

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

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

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

Briefly for now:

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

My point is twofold:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(several minutes later)

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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there cannot be different Gospels;

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

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

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

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Are they not preaching different gods?

Yes. But you and I aren't.

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

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

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there are not many baptisms

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

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there are not many bodies

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is the CONSENSUS of the fathers that is authoritative-- that is, the conscience of the church, the Holy Spirit working in the church, guiding us through the hand of the fathers-- not any single father, but all of them together.  This is why it is okay that they sometimes disagree.  None of them was infallible, none was perfect.  We accept what they said correctly, and leave whatever they may not have.  Being incorrect about one thing doesn't invalidate the other, wonderful things that they said which have guided us in the correct faith.  And even then, of course, their authority is second to that of the Scriptures.  What they say MUST agree with the Scriptures, or it is not accepted by the church. It's like checks and balances-- they write to help us understand the Scriptures (Holy Spirit at work inspiring them), therefore they must agree with the Scriptures.   

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

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

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We're chasing our tails here.


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

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

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

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isn't this the question we're trying to answer?  Whether you, the Protestants, or we, the Orthodox, have been instructed in the correct faith? 

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

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

I too.

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I understood you to mean that you in fact find it difficult to believe that the Church would fall away from correct belief after only thirty years or so after Christ.  Did I understand you correctly?  If so, how do you rationalize this belief-- that the Church fell away so soon?

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

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the rejection of the Apostolic beliefs correct! 


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

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

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

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

Do you have another example of our inconsistency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Better leave that till I find time to study the baptism thread. But for now, I think I've caught up!  Smiley
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« Reply #113 on: January 12, 2009, 11:30:40 AM »

Do you have another example of our inconsistency?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Wikipedia:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And, of course, we have the biblical records.

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

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

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

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

The Church.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

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


David,

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

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

Thanks!!!!!
Presbytera Mari

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

MORE ON INCONSISTENCY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE ON INCONSISTENCY

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

(Even Wesley believed in her perpetual virginity!)

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

This is what everyone says...

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

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

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

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

This is what everyone says...

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

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

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


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