David, I have no doubt that those deviations and distortions disturb you.
I think we are dealing with three different matters all entangled together: geographical; chronological; and religious.
One of the most persistent complaints you all put on these various threads is the "OSAS" teaching - "once saved, always saved" - which is usually called "eternal security" or "the perseverance of the saints" over here in Britain. As I wrote on a previous thread, I have never heard such a teaching here in Britain, except from one man who is an American Baptist from California pastoring a church in Wales. It jarred on my ears. Now remember that from 1971 to 1976 I was among the straitest, most orthodox Calvinists in the south of England, and even there I never heard anything like the counsel that was given to 11-year-old Handmaiden and has so troubled and disturbed her. She says, "it is a life-long walk, my friend," and even the strongest believer in eternal security would agree with her entirely on that. The only evidence which "makes your calling and election sure" or proves the genuineness of your personal salvation is a godly life. So I think here we are dealing with a geographically located problem: it is an American thing. Not that that reduces its seriousness in any way. But it is not universal, and I guess it must be new, for the Calvinists to whom I referred just now constantly feed their souls on the writings of Calvin, the Calvinist confessions of faith, and the Puritans.
You admit, then, that in fact Protestantism is NOT consistent in faith? You have stated several times that the beliefs in Britain differ dramatically from the beliefs in the U.S (as though this is an answer to what I've said--- it's not). How is it then, that with such differences in faith, Protestantism is unified in faith? I'm afraid you can't have it both ways.
There are, by the way, over 8,000 denominations within Protestantism alone (and that's just the ones that readily identify themselves as being Protestant-- that's not even counting the non-denominational ones-- altogether over 33,000, with 200-300 new ones every year!). Just because it "doesn't exist in Britain" doesn't mean that Protestantism is not accountable, so to speak. It is still Protestant.
Then there is what I have called chronological: that is, I think the current Zeitgeist is infecting the church of God in a devastating and debilitating way. We live in a shallow, silly and entertainment-based age, and we expect our religion to be the same. Schoolchildren get good exam results now because, as is widely known, the standards for grades have been lowered so much. Even Oxford and Cambridge have been forced to change their entry requirements . Marriages last a while, and then people move on: it's called 'serial monogamy', Even the news on television has to have a break, and be accompanied by music. Sentences passed on criminals are lamentably lenient, and some people deliberately get caught so as to get back into prison where they feel at home. Nothing matters any more. Have you ever heard anything so ridiculous as dowsing someone with rose petals and calling it baptism, as one post relates? Such is the spirit of our age.
This is exactly an example of what I'm talking about. Without the authority of the Church to guide us, we are led into problems like this, trying to make the faith relevant to these kids, for example. The voice of the Church has been consistent and steady since 33 AD, and is always relevant, and always ready to address these issues. There is no watering down according to society. Yeah, we've had to learn how to utilize the internet to get the Gospel out. Yeah, we've had to use radio, and television, and whatnot. Yeah, we have to address all of these things. But nothing, and I mean nothing, changes the consistency and the Truth of Orthodoxy.
Thirdly there is what I called 'religious'. People want the privilege of being deemed Christian, or ordained, without the submission to God's requirements which have always been part of Christianity. So if you are a woman and want a dog-collar or stole, you find a way to explain away the passages in the Bible which forbid it. If you are a sodomite and want to practise your perversion and still be called Rev So-and-So, you find a way to explain it away. But this is not 'sola scriptura' or real Protestantism: it's a new-fangled religious spirit usurping our name and hijacking our institutions. People have shaken their heads in weary despair over Obama's politically correct inauguration: what a travesty, and surely what an offence to God Almighty!
And where did they get the idea that they can do this? From Sola Scriptura! All they have to say is, "I prayed and fasted and the Holy Spirit enlightened me!" All of a sudden, they're preaching at the President's inauguration! And it's not as though they are considered fringe and unaccepted! They are perfectly mainstream. You are saying that these millions of people are invalid. Who is being exclusive now? I think those millions of people would disagree with you that it's not Sola Scriptura and not Protestant. What assurance do you have that you are right and they are ALL wrong, aside from your own opinion and your private interpretation of Scripture? Our assurance is the consistent voice of the Church with 2000 years of doctrine and dogma to back us up.The point is not that you or I find all these perversions to be travesties. The point is that they exist to begin with, as a result of the Protestant mindset of Sola Scriptura, as a result of the idea that one can properly interpret the Scriptures by oneself.
They ... used the SAME criterion for arriving at their invalid ways/beliefs that you have for your valid ones!
I dispute that most vehemently!
David, I certainly did not mean that as a criticism of you, I hope you didn't receive it that way.
I was pointing out that the method used by both parties (you and them) to arrive at beliefs held is purportedly the same-- faithful Christian living such that the Holy Spirit guides you to interpret the Scriptures. They say this. You say this. Who is right? Because the same methodology has resulted in 33,000 separate denominations (and still growing)-- each believing something different, or interpreting something different, or at the very LEAST stressing something different. As far as stressing different things (which you have yourself stated is often the case in different Protestant denominations)-- we would say that this in and of itself is a violation of Scripture, as it takes God's word out of context, tips the balance, etc. When one thing is stressed, something else is sacrificed. Only the Church can maintain perfect balance. So 33,000 denominations...as has been stated so many times, Christ does NOT keep a harem.
May I ask, please, what is your grounds for dispute? You did not give a reason or proof that I said something wrong.
Do you believe that their motives were as pure as you believe the other denominations to be?
No! Someone may post a reply asking who is DMY to judge another's motives? Well, so be it! I like your attitude of submission to a God-given authority. You see that as the Church; we see it as the scripture. These people submit to nothing but their own whims and ambitions.
And yet that very "submission to Scripture" absent of the authority of the Church is what landed us here to begin with! And that is quite a value judgment you're making there, I must say. One of my best friends, for example, is a member of one of these "forward-thinking" parishes that has a female priest (Episcopalian) and has other major problems. But she is a beautiful, God-fearing person who searches her heart constantly for enlightenment. And her (female) priest, whom I happen to know personally, is a beautiful, God-fearing person as well who has wholly submitted her life to God. Neither of them has any regard for their whims or ambitions. I have NO doubt of their motives. How is it that you do? It is not the motives that make the problem, friend, but the method.
At least you are acknowledging, though, that it is you who are judging motives solely of your own opinion and without any authority. That's a step in the right direction, I'd say. I say that with love and sincerity, not as an attack or out of sarcasm. I truly believe that the conversation will move forward a lot more when we (both of us) are honest, and not rationalizing and using circular reasoning.
By the way, just a technical note. We would not say that the authority is the Church and NOT the Scriptures. The Scriptures are part of the Church, and the two cannot be separated. Just thought I'd mention that.
there must be ... entire denominations full of people who have ulterior motives behind their beliefs!
I don't think we can go that far. Many people are simple believers - the scripture, nay the Lord himself, calls them 'sheep'. They follow trustingly and are led to believe that these perversions are OK.
I'm sure that this is true, which is perfect evidence of what I am saying-- it is not the motives that are the problem, but the method. Interpreting Scripture absent of the guidance of the Church is dangerous. What makes you think that they will not trustingly (naively) fall prey to the evil one when trying to interpret Christ's word on their own? I mean, the evil one didn't hesitate to tempt Christ in the Wilderness, using the words of Scripture. What makes you think he would not tempt those naive believers? And what makes you think that they (who are naive) would then not fall prey?
I would love to hear your thoughts.
There! You have them.
And indeed, I appreciate them. I feel like maybe you are frustrated? I think I am reading that in your posts, but I pray not. Please, I hope I'm not overwhelming you again or frustrating you. If so, I do apologize.
With regard to the fringe groups that have "deviated from" and "distorted" the Truth... by the Protestant logic which says that pure motives/ pure heart (I'm not sure I'm putting that correctly, but hopefully you grasp my meaning) will result in proper interpretation of Scripture and enlightenment by the Holy Spirit, one of the two following options must be the result:
1) The motives of these groups (which include MILLIONS in the US alone) are impure and thus there are millions of so-called Christians and those who believe themselves to be the true Church (Mormons and JW's and Seventh Day Adventists and Oneness Pentecostals, etc) ...
2) The motives of these groups are as you say they are (an effort to recover lost teaching
No. Let us remove 7th Day Adventists from the list, as I know nothing about them, and I am aware that some people accept them and others don't. You are then mixing sects (JWs, Mormons, Sabellians) with the truly trinitarian groups listed in my side of our "wager". I believe all those listed by me would accept the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds, and all (from the early church to the 20th century Pentecostals in Azusa Street) believe what you, we and the RCs believe about our Lord's Person. The ones in your list a few lines above do not. I don't think we should confuse them.
Actually, how much one knows about 7th Day Adventists is really irrelevant. I know almost nothing about them. The point is not that these sects are invalid. You are correct that we agree on that. The point that you continue to dance around and rationalize is how they got to their invalid conclusions.
I am interested to know, by the way...
Earlier in the thread, jnorm888 mentioned that the idea which you presented of the Church (Acts 2) is a novel one, innovative, foreign, new, etc. I don't recall you addressing that. If I may, I will quote it below and ask that you address it in addition to our ongoing discussion.
This idea is a noval one. The Protestant Reformation took an idea that Saint Augustine made up and ran with it to it's logical conclusion. But the idea is noval.....new. The One True Church idea is not noval. It is old. So by the bases of "time" itself, the idea expressed above is "counterfit".
We know where it came from and it didn't come from Jesus and the Apostles......nor from Orthodox Christians for the first 4 hundred years. The beginnings (ruff draft) of that idea can be traced to Saint Augustine. And the development of it can be traced to the Protestant Reformers.
This idea destroys any real concept of "the Real Church" being INCARNATE in the HERE and NOW. It has a gnostic feel to it.
The Gnostics believed that their souls would be saved. They didn't care about their physical bodies. In a similar manner, this Augustinian..modied Protestant idea makes the "invisible church soul" saved while not caring about the "physical church body".
If the Church is Incarnate then their is only ONE TRUE CHURCH......with a spiritual and physical aspect.
If the Church is some phantom ghost then there is no such thing as a ONE TRUE (physical) CHURCH......because the onlything that's important is the spiritual aspect.
As I said, I pray I am not causing you frustration or offense, as it is the last thing I want. I appreciate your sticking with the conversation. I am, truly, still having trouble grasping the logic of much of Protestant theology. As Handmaiden said in one of her posts, it just doesn't make sense. I can't wrap my head around it without arriving at the conclusion that it is nothing more than circular reasoning. I am continuing to ask questions and drive home points in the hope that you will say something that will click with me and I will understand the logic and the vicious circle of reasoning will be broken. At the very least, these conversations are always enlightening and cause me to constantly examine and re-examine my faith. For that, I am grateful, as it deepens and strengthens my faith always!
With love in Christ,