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Nicene
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« on: August 24, 2014, 01:46:49 AM »

One of the central claims of the reformation seems to be that tradition is not binding on the Christian conscience that we ought not be forced to believe in any one tradition, rather what is binding on us is the bible. I have come across a thought recently and if there is any protestant here who wants to engage with it, please do.

It seems to me such a belief cuts to the very heart of the Christian religion, the one thing we all more or less agree upon, filoque or no, Hypostatic union or no, the trinity. That there are three persons in one substance and that is what we worship as God. This is the central doctrine which most of us have when either reading the bible or we are convinced of it by Christians while reading the bible for the first time.

So my question is, must someone confess it in that way; that is, understand it in what is quite essentially a non biblical way of conveying the trinity? I am not denying the trinity within the bible but what I am denying is that the bible has defined it in such a way as the church has done over the centuries. We do not see in the bible such a thing as the Nicene creed or the arguments of Basil or Athanasius, rather what we see is a narrative and what might be called a primitive belief which was not clarified. We also see this in the second century Christians who did not speak like us.

Again, this is not saying that the Apostles or Paul did not hold to the substance of the trinity, they did, but the explanation which we find centuries after in the writings of the fathers and councils have been the dominant force within all Christian traditions, those that are small o orthodox.

Is it then necessary if we hold to a model wherein the bible is the ultimate binding authority, that we must force anyone who wants to become Christian to confess belief in God in the manner of One God, three persons, One substance, two natures, two wills and etc? It seems to me an impossibility. Therefore it seems to me there is a necessary tradition which is outside of the bible which must be adhered to or at the very least not denied, (After all many people who are Christians would say they believe in the trinity, even if they do not grasp the inherent concept and i don't think anyone would call them non Christians, so long as they do not deny the formula established) then we have found something outside of the bible which is binding to the Christian, something which developed after the bible, a tradition of understanding. If this is the case with the trinity, why must it be limited to the trinity and the trinity alone? I don't think it can.


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« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2014, 01:07:18 PM »

Is it then necessary if we hold to a model wherein the bible is the ultimate binding authority, that we must force anyone who wants to become Christian to confess belief in God in the manner of One God, three persons, One substance, two natures, two wills and etc?

Be careful.  You're talking about the Trinity.  Wink
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« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2014, 02:01:05 PM »

Protestants conveniently forget that the canon of Scripture is itself a tradition (though truncated) when they say they believe only things the Bible tells them. 
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« Reply #3 on: August 27, 2014, 01:45:10 PM »

One of the central claims of the reformation seems to be that tradition is not binding on the Christian conscience that we ought not be forced to believe in any one tradition, rather what is binding on us is the bible.

If we are talking about the Trinity, I doubt anyone understands the concept, certainly not I. What you write in the above quote is true, but being "forced to believe in any one tradition" is not the same as having no tradition. In the question of tradition, the Trinity is probably not a good example, as we all accept it anyway, and believe as Orthodox and Roman do. When baptismal regeneration was discussed (at vast length) on this forum, I think we homed in on the only item of disagreement in the "tradition" of the Creeds, namely the meaning of the preposition 'eis': one baptism for the remission of sins. I suggested an analogy: one might say "one ring for the marriage", but it does not mean the ring effects the marriage, and that a couple are not married without formal giving of a ring. The Orthodox on the thread argued that for/eis means baptism effects the remission of sin (or the new birth). Regarding the canon of scripture, which a previous reply refers to, we believe the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognised the authoritative scriptures which God inspired and, equally, excluded non-inspired writings. That is not the same as saying God also gave unwritten authoritative inspired traditions.
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« Reply #4 on: August 27, 2014, 04:01:01 PM »

One of the central claims of the reformation seems to be that tradition is not binding on the Christian conscience that we ought not be forced to believe in any one tradition, rather what is binding on us is the bible.

If we are talking about the Trinity, I doubt anyone understands the concept, certainly not I. What you write in the above quote is true, but being "forced to believe in any one tradition" is not the same as having no tradition. In the question of tradition, the Trinity is probably not a good example, as we all accept it anyway, and believe as Orthodox and Roman do. When baptismal regeneration was discussed (at vast length) on this forum, I think we homed in on the only item of disagreement in the "tradition" of the Creeds, namely the meaning of the preposition 'eis': one baptism for the remission of sins. I suggested an analogy: one might say "one ring for the marriage", but it does not mean the ring effects the marriage, and that a couple are not married without formal giving of a ring. The Orthodox on the thread argued that for/eis means baptism effects the remission of sin (or the new birth). Regarding the canon of scripture, which a previous reply refers to, we believe the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognised the authoritative scriptures which God inspired and, equally, excluded non-inspired writings. That is not the same as saying God also gave unwritten authoritative inspired traditions.

Obviously we understand the trinity or it would not have been defined and argued over for centuries. Here I make a distinction, which I find helps, comprehension and understanding. I can understand eternity as a concept, the general concept of not beginning and not ending, out of necessity something must be eternal. But I do not grasp how that is possible, I cannot comprehend it. So we have this concept here, this idea of the trinity, which is a concept we can understand, even if we cannot comprehend how a being remains perfectly one while having three hypostasis without confusion between the individuals. This we all agree upon, all of us who call ourselves Christian and orthodox.

But here is my point regarding the trinity. My point is exactly that you agree with it. What is this teaching? Is it strictly speaking biblical? It is based on the bible, it is based on a thorough reading of the bible in an attempt to make sense out of the bible, but that is exactly what it is, a commentary or interpretation of the bible as a whole. We do not find the works of Basil or Athanasius in the bible, yet their theology, the theology nicaea has been so intertwined with Christianity we cannot escape it. To be a Christian at the very least, is to confess belief in the trinity and by extension the incarnation and so and so forth. But what has been done is that a doctrine, an interpretation has been made absolute and neccessary doctrine for all Christians everywhere.

This I propose is a problem for sola scriptura. Sola scripture in both forms, either the one that denies all other books except the bible or merely places the bible as king amongst church books, doesn't matter. We cannot then take any teaching or interpretation of scripture, which the trinity clearly is, and make it absolute. I think this also goes to a deeper problem with sola scriptura but that can be discussed elsewhere. The central point is, and I do not know if this can be denied, is that the trinity is an explanation all churches require in their catechism, that is the churches who are at least in the tradition of Nicaea and Constantinople, including your own, minus the part about baptism in the creed of course. In order to pastor in a baptist church is it necessary to confess the trinity at least? If it is, I think this violates sola scriptura, in putting a tradition equal to scripture.

The argument against this will be, obviously the bible teaches the trinity. To which i agree, but it does not go further than listing a father a son and a holy spirit, all of whom appear to be God. It doesn't explain how this works. It doesn't make it absolutely clear they are totally distinct persons or if some are persons are all, I think about the holy spirit here. It doesn't mention they are all of the same substance, thus explaining how God is one despite apparently being three. It never uses the word trinity. Is it not odd that the first thing we often explain to those who question Christianity and the trinity, what the trinity actually is by the words (at the very least these word) "we believe in One God, who is one in substance and three in person." We then can then debate the concept by itself without any recourse to the bible, because it does not help us in this regard. when we are forced to justify it from scripture we will offer our proof texts and verses and argue this is the best way to make sense of the bible, but the explanation of that does not come from the bible itself. it comes from the theologian reading it. It is almost as if the bible does not detail the substance of what we believe but rather the tradition has defined the substance of what the bible believed but could not express at the time.

If scripture is the only or highest authority, then we must necessarily subordinate all traditions beneath it. If only scripture can be said to be "necessary" then no tradition, trinity, Hypostatic union, two wills, whatever, can ever be demanded of a Christian to believe in. No interpretative framework can be expected.  Yet most protestant churches would require a belief in a framework, mainly one of the five solas, but it should not be necessary. That's what I think anyway.

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« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2014, 04:56:41 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

Regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, I think the "tradition" of Chalcedon and the earlier creeds which led step by step to it, is a technically theological way of trying to express what is seen in scripture, where the Father, the Son of God, and the Spirit of God are all given deity, distinctness and unity. It's not a tradition in the same sense as prayer for the departed, prayer to the saints, veneration of the Lord's mother, and many other matters, which do not find any mention in scripture.
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« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2014, 05:31:11 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"? 

Quote
...prayer for the departed, prayer to the saints, veneration of the Lord's mother, and many other matters, which do not find any mention in scripture.

By now you must know that we believe such a claim to be erroneous, but I suppose this sort of thing has become more credal than factual. 
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« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2014, 05:52:13 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"? 

Quote
...prayer for the departed, prayer to the saints, veneration of the Lord's mother, and many other matters, which do not find any mention in scripture.

By now you must know that we believe such a claim to be erroneous, but I suppose this sort of thing has become more credal than factual. 
Just on the last one:
Luke 1:41when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
So the first thing that St. Elisabeth does once filled with the Holy Spirit is venerate the Lord's mother.
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« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2014, 06:01:01 PM »

One of the central claims of the reformation seems to be that tradition is not binding on the Christian conscience that we ought not be forced to believe in any one tradition, rather what is binding on us is the bible.

Regarding the canon of scripture, which a previous reply refers to, we believe the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, recognised the authoritative scriptures which God inspired and, equally, excluded non-inspired writings. That is not the same as saying God also gave unwritten authoritative inspired traditions.

Well now hold on. We Orthodox believe that Tradition is the life of the Holy Spirit working in the Church. The same Holy Spirit that led the Church to recognise the orthodoxy of the Canon also led the Church to recognise other doctrines and the Orthodox ecclesiology, which you reject.

Unless you can show the Canon can be found in Scripture, you are implicitly trusting that the Church universal was correct in its understanding of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Given that, it seems inconsistent that you would likewise reject other understandings of the the Holy Spirit expressed by the same universal Church.

I believe this is the OPs main point.
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« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2014, 07:27:28 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"?
Oneness Pentecostalism is a strain of Pentecostalism that teaches a modalistic doctrine of the Trinity.
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« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2014, 09:40:46 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"?
Oneness Pentecostalism is a strain of Pentecostalism that teaches a modalistic doctrine of the Trinity.

Ah.  Perhaps modalism was the M-word David was looking for.  I was surprised that there might be Protestants who were also Monophysites. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2014, 10:38:32 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"?
Oneness Pentecostalism is a strain of Pentecostalism that teaches a modalistic doctrine of the Trinity.

Ah.  Perhaps modalism was the M-word David was looking for.  I was surprised that there might be Protestants who were also Monophysites.  
Yeah, I think Modalism is the right heresy here. To my knowledge, Oneness Pentecostals teach that God is one divine Person who reveals Himself in many ways, most often as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I think this matches the very definition of Modalism (also known by many as Sabellianism).
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« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2014, 11:19:51 PM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

What is "One-ness Pentecostalism"?
Oneness Pentecostalism is a strain of Pentecostalism that teaches a modalistic doctrine of the Trinity.

Ah.  Perhaps modalism was the M-word David was looking for.  I was surprised that there might be Protestants who were also Monophysites.  
Yeah, I think Modalism is the right heresy here.
isn't that an oxymoron>
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« Reply #13 on: August 28, 2014, 02:40:48 AM »

Unless you can show the Canon can be found in Scripture, you are implicitly trusting that the Church universal was correct in its understanding of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Given that, it seems inconsistent that you would likewise reject other understandings of the the Holy Spirit expressed by the same universal Church.

I believe this is the OPs main point.

And it is a serious point, of course. Now:

1) Yes, the canon is not defined in the canon. No book says "I am divinely inspired, and am the final book of which this is true. Here is a list of the previous ones." If the universal church is correct in its acceptance as canonical of those, and only those, writings, then the guidance did of course come from elsewhere.

2) Yes, I am trusting that the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, was correct in the compilation it made.

3) The "other understandings" were not included in either the agreed canon or the ecumenical creeds - though I am aware that the matter of prayer for the dead would be validated if one accepted the Apocrypha as canonical. But that is a different debate, and does not affect the meaning of the OP's very good question.

Finally, I don't know much about One-ness Pentecostals. I do not speak Italian, and when I preached at a church in Sicily, someone from a "Oneness" church kindly agreed to give up her worship that Sunday in order to come and interpret into Italian. It was kind of her, and that is how we came into contact and ended up as Facebook "friends": but her church's website is in Italian, and she and I merely keep in touch in a fairly light, friendly way, without theological debate. "Modalism" or "Sabellianism" may well be the right word. I do not think I have come across such people anywhere else, though they are by no means restricted to Sicily.
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« Reply #14 on: August 28, 2014, 03:15:46 AM »

You raise difficult questions. One of my "Facebook friends" is a One-ness Pentecostal (there is a technical word for that one-ness theology, but I confess I have forgotten it: never mind. (Maybe it is Monophytism?)), but she seems to evince a passionate love and reverence for Christ as Saviour and Lord. One could argue that in 450 she would have been accepted as a Christian, but in 452 she would have been dubbed a heretic. Is she in a state of grace (i.e. a Christian), or not? Well, "the Lord knows those who are his," as it is somewhere written.

Regarding the doctrine of the Trinity, I think the "tradition" of Chalcedon and the earlier creeds which led step by step to it, is a technically theological way of trying to express what is seen in scripture, where the Father, the Son of God, and the Spirit of God are all given deity, distinctness and unity. It's not a tradition in the same sense as prayer for the departed, prayer to the saints, veneration of the Lord's mother, and many other matters, which do not find any mention in scripture.



In which case I cannot regard her in any sense a Christian who is 'right believing.' But in regards to the trinity not being a tradition I argue that it is. It is a tradition of interpretation, one which is very profound and has been so mixed in with the Christianity of east and west that we cannot really escape it if we have gone to any normal church. A normal church in this regard would be one who talks trinity.

This can be exemplified in the second century writings of the fathers who did not speak like us who have our thought fundamentally from certain fathers, name Augustine, Athanasius, Basil, Gregory and the councils. We all in some way or another are inheritors of that tradition of interpreting the bible. I agree with you that the trinity we have inherited is a way of explaining what scripture at its core teaches, but scripture in the text itself does not lay it out like this. There is no talk of substances, hypostatic unions, Hypostasis in the bible and how monotheism is preserved in the trinity. One can read the bible these days, and it's happening more I think, away from the great tradition and come to radically different views, Arrian, Judaistic and despite what we think, they proclaim we are all wrong. We then proceed to the theology, and debate who truely understands the bible of which we have to invent language which is not biblical in order to convey what we think scripture actually teaches.

We then make this interpretation the standard of orthodoxy. I find in the Orthodox church a consistency which I do not see in the Sola Scriptura Churches. We make the Nicene creed a necessity, you cannot deny it and the theology of the church, specifically the councils. But how can a lutheran church for instance force upon their believers anything that is not scripture? IE every lutheran doctrine of understanding and interpreation. This seems to follow for all protestant churches. Unless they admit from the outset that these understandings are not authoritative but merely what we agree upon, then I do not see any justification for forcing someone to accept something which fundamentally goes beyond scripture. The substance of our belief had to be explained and clarified centuries later, it was not explained in scripture.

This is what I mean by a necessary tradition. All protestant christian assumes the trinity and quite rightly, but its basis for making it absolute belief should not be sola scriptura.
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2014, 09:49:57 AM »

In which case I cannot regard her in any sense a Christian who is 'right believing.'

Quite so; but that is not quite the same thing as saying she is not, nor can be, in a state of grace owing to a wrong concept of the Trinity. On that I profess ignorance; as I wrote, "The Lord knows those who are his."
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« Reply #16 on: August 29, 2014, 01:34:34 PM »

In which case I cannot regard her in any sense a Christian who is 'right believing.'

Quite so; but that is not quite the same thing as saying she is not, nor can be, in a state of grace owing to a wrong concept of the Trinity. On that I profess ignorance; as I wrote, "The Lord knows those who are his."

It's not my intention to deny anyone's salvation, or say that a person is condemned to hell. Rather my intention is to posit we have in the trinitarian mode of interpretation a tradition which has more or less become a required for the right believing Christian. I don't think i have received a clear answer from you, do you think the trinity, not a vague idea of one God, Father is God, son is God and Spirit is God. But rather the idea of God being located within the divine substance which consists of three persons whom are distinct. Do you think we can be orthodox and deny such an expression?
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« Reply #17 on: August 29, 2014, 01:37:26 PM »


In which case I cannot regard her in any sense a Christian who is 'right believing.'

Quite so; but that is not quite the same thing as saying she is not, nor can be, in a state of grace owing to a wrong concept of the Trinity. On that I profess ignorance; as I wrote, "The Lord knows those who are his."

It's not my intention to deny anyone's salvation, or say that a person is condemned to hell. Rather my intention is to posit we have in the trinitarian mode of interpretation a tradition which has more or less become a required doctrine for the right believing Christian. I don't think i have received a clear answer from you, do you think the trinity, not a vague idea of one God, Father is God, son is God and Spirit is God. But rather the idea of God being located within the divine substance which consists of three persons whom are distinct. Do you think we can be orthodox and deny such an expression?

I feel the consequences of this, especially to the typical evangelical mode of sola scriptura (which typically regards tradition which is not its own of no importance whatever) are staggering if I am correct. We have at least one tradition which is a requirement, one which cannot be denied. A tradition equal to scripture.
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« Reply #18 on: August 29, 2014, 02:09:23 PM »

There seems to be a Trinitarian expression in the apocryphal book of Enoch which predates the New Testament:


Enoch Chapter 48
Enoch 48:1 In that place I beheld a fountain of righteousness, which never failed, encircled by many springs of wisdom. Of these all the thirsty drank, and were filled with wisdom, having their habitation with the righteous, the elect, and the holy.

Enoch 48:2 In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days.
Enoch 48:3 Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits. A support shall he be for the righteous and the holy to lean upon, without falling; and he shall be the light of nations.

Enoch 48:4 He shall be the hope of those whose hearts are troubled. All, who dwell on earth, shall fall down and worship before him; shall bless and glorify him, and sing praises to the name of the Lord of spirits.

Enoch 48:5 Therefore the Elect and the Concealed One existed in his presence, before the world was created, and for ever.

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/enoch.html#Enoch_46
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« Reply #19 on: August 29, 2014, 03:43:30 PM »



1) Yes, the canon is not defined in the canon. No book says "I am divinely inspired, and am the final book of which this is true. Here is a list of the previous ones." If the universal church is correct in its acceptance as canonical of those, and only those, writings, then the guidance did of course come from elsewhere.

2) Yes, I am trusting that the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, was correct in the compilation it made.

3) The "other understandings" were not included in either the agreed canon or the ecumenical creeds - though I am aware that the matter of prayer for the dead would be validated if one accepted the Apocrypha as canonical.

Here is where your inconsistency lies. You are basically saying that you do not trust the Church to decide anything (or anything that you disagree with using your Sola Scriptura epistemology) except the Canon of the New Testament. (You seem to accept the Creeds only because you agree with them based on your interpretation of Scripture). The Canon is obviously not found in Scripture, you concede, so we cannot rely on Sola Scriptura to define it. The Church had to decide from amongst literally hundreds of documents, some of which are found herehttp://www.earlychristianwritings.com, what was considered Scripture. Yet, you trust that the Church and its salient Fathers in the first three centuries such as St. Athanasius were guided by the Holy Spirit. So, unless you question the Canon, you are implicitly trusting the Church Fathers. You concede this in you second point.

Yet that very Church and particularly those Fathers such as St. Athanasius clearly espoused a theology and ecclesiology that was radically different from the Baptist faith. How can you trust these Fathers, whose Christian faith you have to conclude was clearly in error in such matters as the Real Presence in the Eucharist, baptismal regeneration and apostolic succession, to correctly be guided by the Holy Spirit in their selection of the Canon?

Don't you think that the theology of the Fathers, which you evidently believe was in error in its consensus (eg they essentially all believed in the Real Presence and an episcopal ecclesiology) could have influenced their very selection of the Canon? Perhaps they selected a Canon that supported their erroneous theology.

If the Father's final selection of the Canon was protected from error by the Holy Spirit, why not their understanding of that Canon? How can you say that the Fathers correctly identified orthodoxy in the selection of the Canon, when you do not believe they were orthodox? Clearly they did not find any fundamental contradictions between their orthodoxy and the Canon they selected, since their understanding of orthodoxy was the filter they used to select the Canon. Isn't it thus rather incomprehensible to assert, as you are doing, that their filter was in error--ie their understanding of true, Apostolic Christianity--yet they still managed to select the right orthodox Canon?

Can you identify any early Christian whose theology you agree with entirely or even substantially who also espoused the final NT Canon?

It would seem those such as yourself whose embrace Sola Scriptura can only really be consistent by rejecting a closed Canon; all other alternatives require you to submit to the judgements of a Church which you believe was in error. Martin Luther did this partially, though this alternative is also fraught with uncomfortable implications.
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« Reply #20 on: August 29, 2014, 04:13:26 PM »

There seems to be a Trinitarian expression in the apocryphal book of Enoch which predates the New Testament:


Enoch Chapter 48
Enoch 48:1 In that place I beheld a fountain of righteousness, which never failed, encircled by many springs of wisdom. Of these all the thirsty drank, and were filled with wisdom, having their habitation with the righteous, the elect, and the holy.

Enoch 48:2 In that hour was this Son of man invoked before the Lord of spirits, and his name in the presence of the Ancient of days.
Enoch 48:3 Before the sun and the signs were created, before the stars of heaven were formed, his name was invoked in the presence of the Lord of spirits. A support shall he be for the righteous and the holy to lean upon, without falling; and he shall be the light of nations.

Enoch 48:4 He shall be the hope of those whose hearts are troubled. All, who dwell on earth, shall fall down and worship before him; shall bless and glorify him, and sing praises to the name of the Lord of spirits.

Enoch 48:5 Therefore the Elect and the Concealed One existed in his presence, before the world was created, and for ever.

http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/enoch.html#Enoch_46


I can see a trinitarian interpretation fitting those verses and making sense of them, although I cannot say a thing about the book of Enoch because I have not studied it. But here I distinguish between any primary source, a book of scripture either canonical or non canonical and the tradition which has been developed alongside of the scripture with the Christian faithful. The trinity and most of the theology regarding it, the defence of monotheism, the non confusion of the persons, falls into the latter, that is tradition.

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« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2014, 04:23:51 PM »

I don't think i have received a clear answer from you,

No, I don't think you have. My idea is that the doctrine of the Trinity is so easily derived from the pages of scripture that it does not validate your suggestion. I think you would have to find a doctrine required for orthodoxy that is neither stated in, nor clearly required by, the canonical scriptures in order to establish your point. I think that's the best answer I can give.
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« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2014, 04:41:15 PM »

It would seem those such as yourself whose embrace Sola Scriptura can only really be consistent by rejecting a closed Canon;

Two interesting points lie hidden in your words here.

(1) I didn't say we accept 'sola scriptura'. As time went on, and the centuries rolled by, different traditions diverged and you end up with Purgatory, indulgences, and all manner of things. It's a matter (I think) of seeking to discern when our Lord's promise to lead his church into all truth had reached fulfilment, or, putting it another way, which tradition or traditions are in accord with the scriptures and which branch out into matters which are not even interpretations of scripture, but novel accretions. I write, of course, purely as DMY: I am no spokesman for Baptist churches. For me personally (and you probably feel the same about Orthodoxy), there is also the matter of seeking to discern where the Spirit of the Lord works. One of my reasons for abiding by the Evangelical 'tradition' (if you wish me to use that word) is that I truly believe I see God working by his Spirit in Evangelical movements, especially in my own period of interest, which is the 18th-20th centuries. I concede that this has a strong element of subjectivity, though at least there are millions of people who agree with he on it.

(2) It seems plain from scripture that 1 and 2 Corinthians are misnomers: there were three or four epistles in the series. I have often speculated about what the church's reaction would be if the epistle written between 1 and 2 Corinthians were ever rediscovered. Would it be deemed inspired in the same was as Paul's other extant letters? Of course, it's mere idle speculation, but interesting to toy with when striding along a mountain ridge with a relaxed mind. But I do believe that God ensured that nothing is missing that he wanted to be included in scripture.
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« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2014, 10:33:52 PM »

I have nothing to add to this discussion but I would simply like to say, as a personal matter, that I appreciate David Young's participation on this forum, particularly given that his convictions on a number of religious matters do not line up with those of the majority of us.  While I do not always agree with all of his conclusions, all of his posts that I have read present his views in a gentlemanly fashion.  Thank you, David, for participating in this forum.  I enjoy reading and thinking about what you have to say.
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« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2014, 01:39:04 AM »

^ Second.   Smiley
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« Reply #25 on: August 30, 2014, 03:18:17 AM »

It would seem those such as yourself whose embrace Sola Scriptura can only really be consistent by rejecting a closed Canon;

Two interesting points lie hidden in your words here.

(1) I didn't say we accept 'sola scriptura'. As time went on, and the centuries rolled by, different traditions diverged and you end up with Purgatory, indulgences, and all manner of things. It's a matter (I think) of seeking to discern when our Lord's promise to lead his church into all truth had reached fulfilment, or, putting it another way, which tradition or traditions are in accord with the scriptures and which branch out into matters which are not even interpretations of scripture, but novel accretions. I write, of course, purely as DMY: I am no spokesman for Baptist churches. For me personally (and you probably feel the same about Orthodoxy), there is also the matter of seeking to discern where the Spirit of the Lord works. One of my reasons for abiding by the Evangelical 'tradition' (if you wish me to use that word) is that I truly believe I see God working by his Spirit in Evangelical movements, especially in my own period of interest, which is the 18th-20th centuries. I concede that this has a strong element of subjectivity, though at least there are millions of people who agree with he on it.

(2) It seems plain from scripture that 1 and 2 Corinthians are misnomers: there were three or four epistles in the series. I have often speculated about what the church's reaction would be if the epistle written between 1 and 2 Corinthians were ever rediscovered. Would it be deemed inspired in the same was as Paul's other extant letters? Of course, it's mere idle speculation, but interesting to toy with when striding along a mountain ridge with a relaxed mind. But I do believe that God ensured that nothing is missing that he wanted to be included in scripture.

On your first point, I think we should avoid what seems to be an ad populum justification for the veracity of something. Certainly there are millions of Mormons and their church is growing very fast, yet we would both agree that their size and growth does not mean that the Spirit of The Lord is blessing them. Orthodoxy in North America, by some measures, is also very fast growing, so what does that imply?

Your second point is interesting and invites speculation. I don't think from an Orthodox standpoint the discovery of other Pauline letters would be particularly problematic, even if they contradicted Orthodoxy. These would find their way into the corpus of Tradition, just as many of the relatively recent rediscoveries of the Fathers have.

I suspect that most Evangelicals relying on Sola Scriptura would completely disregard any new Pauline letters. The Didache, written before much of the New Testament, was only rediscovered in the 19th century. In my 40 years of being an Evangelical, I never heard anyone quote from it. Perhaps that is because it suggests that early Christian praxis was liturgical and episcopal, which is incompatible with most forms of Evangelicalism. (To be fair, it also raises some questions for modern Orthodoxy). Yet I do wonder whether Zwingli and the Anabaptists would have arisen if the Didache and some other early texts were around at the time of the Reformation.
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« Reply #26 on: August 30, 2014, 03:27:51 AM »

I have nothing to add to this discussion but I would simply like to say, as a personal matter, that I appreciate David Young's participation on this forum, particularly given that his convictions on a number of religious matters do not line up with those of the majority of us.  While I do not always agree with all of his conclusions, all of his posts that I have read present his views in a gentlemanly fashion.  Thank you, David, for participating in this forum.  I enjoy reading and thinking about what you have to say.

Absolutely, agreement is a petty thing in the end. What David Young offers is always edifying whether I find agreement with him or not.

One of the best oc.net posters ever.
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« Reply #27 on: August 30, 2014, 04:56:18 AM »

I think we should avoid what seems to be an ad populum justification for the veracity of something. Certainly there are millions of Mormons and their church is growing very fast, yet we would both agree that their size and growth does not mean that the Spirit of The Lord is blessing them.

Of course I wholly agree. It hangs on how one believes one can recognise the activity of the Holy Spirit. Reading of Evangelical movements in the period that interests me specially (as I say, 18th-20th centuries), I see people deeply conscious of their sinfulness and their sins, turning wholly to Christ alone for redemption, relying on his work on the Cross, and finding peace, joy and a sense of divine forgiveness, a new and often permanently transformed life shot through with a desire for growth in holiness, and a compelling compassion to bring others to the same saving knowledge and experience. This, being Trinitarian in belief and Christ-centred, seems to me to betoken the presence and activity of the Spirit of God.

And, in re other recent posts - many thanks for your kind words.  Smiley
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« Reply #28 on: Yesterday at 02:17:58 PM »

I think we should avoid what seems to be an ad populum justification for the veracity of something. Certainly there are millions of Mormons and their church is growing very fast, yet we would both agree that their size and growth does not mean that the Spirit of The Lord is blessing them.

Of course I wholly agree. It hangs on how one believes one can recognise the activity of the Holy Spirit. Reading of Evangelical movements in the period that interests me specially (as I say, 18th-20th centuries), I see people deeply conscious of their sinfulness and their sins, turning wholly to Christ alone for redemption, relying on his work on the Cross, and finding peace, joy and a sense of divine forgiveness, a new and often permanently transformed life shot through with a desire for growth in holiness, and a compelling compassion to bring others to the same saving knowledge and experience. This, being Trinitarian in belief and Christ-centred, seems to me to betoken the presence and activity of the Spirit of God.

And, in re other recent posts - many thanks for your kind words.  Smiley

Oh I do not doubt the work of the Holy Spirit outside the confines of the Orthodox Church. I consider many Evangelicals both friends and brothers in Christ. The OPs question is about Sola Scriptura. I do not think that following Sola Scriptura anchors a church in holiness the way Tradition does. For example, there are a number of Evangelicals such as Rob Bell who have both a high view of Scripture and, following a Sola Scriptura epistemology, arrive at the view that homosexual relations are acceptable. I think we would both agree that that is a tragedy.

No Orthodox could arrive at the same conclusion following the consensus of the Fathers, since homosexual activity was never considered acceptable according to Church Tradition.
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