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Author Topic: Why Evangelicals Turn to the Church Fathers  (Read 12444 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #90 on: January 07, 2010, 09:53:00 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?

If we all adhered to the Nicene Creed, then we would all confess with one accord, "I believe in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."
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« Reply #91 on: January 08, 2010, 12:02:38 AM »

I certainly doubt that you will convince him but that's a good one.^^^^^^^^^^^^
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« Reply #92 on: January 08, 2010, 04:02:03 AM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.
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« Reply #93 on: January 08, 2010, 04:07:24 AM »

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?

You might, but many if not most of your baptist coreligionists have never even heard of them over here in the Americas.  Even though you do, your adherence to them is still arbitrary, since you reject the authority of the bishops in later manners, such as iconoclasm.  Either the bishops have authority from God or they don't

You - at least, I seem to recall it is yourgoodself - continue the trend of saying the same things as I say, but with different feelings about them because from a different perspective. For once more, what you say is true.

I agree that many Baptists are at best only dimly aware of the early Creeds, as indeed they are of the 1644 and 1689 Baptist Confessions of Faith. They don't think in creedal terms (if that be the right phrase). My point is not that we/they are aware of and committed to those various documents, but that we adhere to the teachings in them in the matter that was raised, namely discerning false christs.
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« Reply #94 on: January 09, 2010, 10:51:18 PM »

Getting back to the theme of Fathers - I think that you good people are yourselves partly to blame for the regrettable fact that we Evangelicals turn seldom to the early Fathers. I have read pages and pages and pages from Chrysostom on Matthew, and the whole of Athanasius on the Incarnation and his letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms, and the whole of Irenæus on the Apostolic Preaching. There is very little indeed in all I have read with which any standard Evangelical would disagree. However, I also have your "Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom" (Coniaris, Light & Life Publishing), and I soon wearied of it, for it keeps on and on (and on ...) selecting passages about your view of the sacraments. It is a pity that Coniaris opted to select so many passages stating views from which Evangelical Christians are known to differ. Such publications are unlikely to attract us to the Fathers for our devotional reading - and (I suspect) actually give a warped picture anyway of patristic output. R C Hill (Holy Cross Orthodox Press) did much better in his selection of "Spiritual Gems" from Chrysostom on Matthew, which is what prompted me to read more than only his brief extracts.

If I wanted you to read John Wesley, I would not point you first to his sermon entitled Justification by Faith.

[Somehow this post has been posted twice. No idea how!]

The problem with this is two-fold:
1. I doubt seriously that Fr. Coniaris, when compiling the writings of St. John Chrysostom for a daily reading rule such as this book, had as his intent to turn Evangelicals on to the Fathers.  There are plenty of publishing houses out there, plenty of Christian publishing houses at that, and plenty of translations/printings of Chrysostom's writings.  Fr. Coniaris geared this specifically toward the Orthodox, and chose readings that he thought were important for Orthodox to read daily.  Were he compiling a book geared toward Evangelicals, I imagine it would be quite different.

2. This is, again, the buffet problem of how Evangelicals read the fathers.  It has been said many times before (even in the posts just above mine), but I too will add my voice to the crowd here--- Protestants only read/take from the fathers what AGREES WITH THEIR PRE-CONCEIVED notions and beliefs.  Everything else is rejected.  This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?
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« Reply #95 on: January 09, 2010, 10:52:36 PM »

Finally, I encourage you to read this article on the deficiencies of the premise of "sola scriptura" which may help to illustrate my point.

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola5.htm

Okay, I LOVED this article!!!!  I've already passed it on!
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« Reply #96 on: January 09, 2010, 11:01:26 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.

That's exactly why Papist is pointing this out... because while you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT adhere to the intended meaning of the words in the Creed, nor do you adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed! 

Again, I say it's academically and theologically dishonest.  But, if nothing else, it's at least like saying Einstein's theory of relativity is brilliant and altogether true, but he himself knew nothing of science.
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« Reply #97 on: January 09, 2010, 11:20:32 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.

That's exactly why Papist is pointing this out... because while you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT adhere to the intended meaning of the words in the Creed, nor do you adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed!  

Again, I say it's academically and theologically dishonest.  But, if nothing else, it's at least like saying Einstein's theory of relativity is brilliant and altogether true, but he himself knew nothing of science.

I would also contest that it is not possible for us to say that we agree regarding the "Christological points" of the creed, yet disagree regarding the nature of baptism and of the Church. The reason for this is simply because the latter points are also Christological. The Church is the body of Christ, and baptism is the means of entrance into that very body.

Quote
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
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« Reply #98 on: January 10, 2010, 06:24:42 AM »

This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?

I take your point about Father Coniaris's choice of selections from Chrysostom. Thank you for explaining that.

The answer to your question which I quote above is this - though I can write only for myself, whereas others might wish to write differently: it would indeed (as you say) be dishonest to try to establish our teachings with reference to the Fathers as authoritative, whilst knowingly rejecting some of their major themes and beliefs. But that is not what we do. We do not read them as theological authorities; rather, we read them for spiritual nourishment, as we might read any other non-canonical Christian writer.

Think of my many references to John Wesley: he believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, in infant baptism, in an episcopalian church order, in wearing clerical robes, in instantaneous entire sanctification - but that doesn't mean I cease reading him as a man who was full of Christ. Doubtless the same applies to his brother Charles, whom I also read eagerly. My office wall has pictures (not icons, of course) of Sangster, Zinzendorf and C S Lewis, all Christians of the past whose lives have blessed me lastingly, through whom I have received blessing from the Lord whom they loved and served - but the first was Methodist, the second Moravian, the third Anglican. I do not read or quote them as theological authorities, but I find the Spirit of God breathing through their lives and writings.

In the same manner we turn to the Fathers, as I wrote before, from Clement of Rome onwards. But there is no dishonesty in our doing so, rather a search by needy souls for spiritual nourishment. If you wish to dub this buffet reading, then so be it: I will not quibble over the word by which it is described. But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer.
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« Reply #99 on: January 10, 2010, 06:33:57 AM »

you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT ... adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed! 

Alas, you have misunderstood me, and even quoted me out of context. You err in two ways:

1) I did not say I (or we) adhere to the Nicene Creed (though in fact we do, if we can agree on the possible variations in the word 'eis'). What I said was that we adhere to the christology which is found also in the Nicene Creed: not because that Creed has authority, but because its christology is (we believe) a true interpretation of scripture.

2) The discussion - the context of what I wrote - was not wider than the matter of discerning false christs: it did not extend to the function of baptism.

I believe that a good many Evangelicals would concede a kind of secondary authority, or respect, or weight, to the Creeds, though not equal to that of scripture - but that would take us way outside this thread (if that is not a mixed metaphor), and would need to be explored separately, I think.
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« Reply #100 on: January 10, 2010, 03:00:17 PM »



1) I did not say I (or we) adhere to the Nicene Creed (though in fact we do, if we can agree on the possible variations in the word 'eis'). What I said was that we adhere to the christology which is found also in the Nicene Creed: not because that Creed has authority, but because its christology is (we believe) a true interpretation of scripture.



Again, if we are in agreement with the creed except for the interpretation of the word "eis", then what do you interpret "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?" to be?
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« Reply #101 on: January 10, 2010, 06:34:46 PM »

what do you interpret "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?" to be?

Founded by the Apostles of our Lord, and loyal to their doctrine. We may differ, but we do all sincerely aim for that goal. Neither you nor we knowingly and deliberately veer away from that.

In re "one", there is of course only one Body of Christ (as some witty Orthodox posted a while ago, our Lord has a Bride, not a harem), and we believe that Bride, which will be perfected when He comes, consists of all the redeemed, sadly divided now here on earth. (See the thread on Christian unity.)
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« Reply #102 on: January 10, 2010, 07:20:12 PM »

As with scripture, It is simply not enough to say that one adheres to the word of the creed (or parts thereof); one must also adhere to the spirit of such, which is embodied within the bosom of the Church and her Tradition. The fathers had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed; to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context.
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« Reply #103 on: January 15, 2010, 02:11:41 PM »


2. This is, again, the buffet problem of how Evangelicals read the fathers.  It has been said many times before (even in the posts just above mine), but I too will add my voice to the crowd here--- Protestants only read/take from the fathers what AGREES WITH THEIR PRE-CONCEIVED notions and beliefs.  Everything else is rejected.  This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?


I don't think you can say this categorically.

First - at least SOME Protestants read things from the Fathers and come to accept what they read that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas, otherwise we would not have some of the conversion testimonies to Orthodoxy that appear on these very boards.

Secondly, SOME Protestants do in fact challenge themselves with things from the Fathers that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas and come to accept some of them, thus broadening their ideas and moving closer to the Orthodox position without yet (or perhaps ever) actually converting. Just because one does not convert does not mean growth has not occurred or that the individual has not benefitted from reading the Fathers.


Third - SOME Protestants do in fact challenge themselves with things from the Fathers that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas, but decide perhaps to "agree to disagree" with the Fathers, as Protestants are accustomed to doing with one another when they disagree with other protestants.

Fourth - SOME Protestants will read from the Fathers and selectively choose only what is in harmony with their pre-conceived ideas but at least they have had some exposure to the Fathers and perhaps will return there when they are more open to the whole of the Fathers' teaching or when need/necessity presses upon them and they turn to the Fathers for help because at least they have already gone there before (albeit imperfectly from our perspective).

To expect Protestants to read the Fathers as Orthodox do is kind of silly. They would have had to convert before they converted to read the Fathers as we do, which is a logical impossibility.

Furthermore, the outlandish things said about ALL Protestants on OC.net continues to astonish me. I can only chalk it up to several things:

One - Some Orthodox converts from Prostestantism generalize their own INDIVIDUAL experience, and attribute that to ALL Protestants. They are perhaps even unaware that they imperfectly understood and imbibed their own Protestant communion's teachings (probably not, but I have seen very little humility along the lines of, "when I was a Protestant, I believed such and such. I THINK it was the universally held view in my experience of my particular brand of Protestantism, but it could have been just my own personal heresy....").

Two - Some Orthodox converts are so full of bile and resentment that they cannot say anything civil about Protestants.

Three - Some Cradle Orthodox are woefully ignorant of Protestantism and are too lazy to gain any knowledge of their Christian neighbors and fellow citizens that is not easily available with little or no effort from religious television or the secular media. I would say ditto for many converts who are woefully ignorant of the huge differences among Protestants in , for example Confessional Churches of the Reformation (Episcopal/Anglican; Lutheran; Presbyterian/Reformed) and those in American Fundamentalist/Baptist independent churches and those in pentecostal/charasmatic churches. Instead they lazily interpret all Protestants as being what they once WERE.

Four - Some Orthodox find it easier to paint with a VERY large brush. Distinctions, exceptions and subtlety need not be applied to such statements. Also it would take a little effort to paint with more refined strokes.

Fifth - Some Orthodox on OC.net just like to provoke debate. The more outrageous the statement the better diatribe it reads as.







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« Reply #104 on: January 15, 2010, 03:24:38 PM »




I would also contest that it is not possible for us to say that we agree regarding the "Christological points" of the creed, yet disagree regarding the nature of baptism and of the Church. The reason for this is simply because the latter points are also Christological. The Church is the body of Christ, and baptism is the means of entrance into that very body.

Quote
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


This is actually a very excellent point by an Orthodox to a Protestant because Protestants do not generally view these points as Christological points. Rather, having been influenced by systematic theologies that treat Christology as a single subject, the theology of sacraments as another discreet subject and the theology of the Church as still another subject, and maybe ecclesiology as still another subject, and analyzing them all somewhat atomically and apart from one another (yet within the unifying theme of God's sovereignty, for example), it may not occur to see all of those subjects as properly Christological. Which is one reason Orthodox and Protestants often talk past each other on some of these subjects.

Therefore, to point this out at the start, makes real communication possible.

A Protestant could then ask, how is baptism Christological? (for them it may be no more than a symbolic moving from death to resurrection based on their personal decision to receive Christ; or it may be the covenant sign of entry into God's covenant kingdom in the new covenant, with more Old Testament similarities than Christological ones; or the putting to death of the old nature and a rising of the new nature in Christ in the heart of a believer). But veiwing it in distinctly Christological terms doesn't come readily to mind for them. Showing them how baptism is Christological may open gateways for them to begin to see that aspect in their symbolic, covenantal or new nature view; that in baptism we are united to Christ who bore our humanity and united it to God, thereby uniting us to God in baptism  -- then baptism literally is a move from death to life; and more than just a covenantal sign - it is the conferring of the life promised in the new covenant upon us; and quite literally, the new nature is the new humanity we receive in Christ that makes us partakers of the divine nature; the image of God is restored in us so that we may become His likeness - all made possible by the very real Incarnation of Christ Himself!

Again, how is the Church Christological? (for them the Church might be a merely voluntary association, like membership in a club; or an outward manifestation of being a member of the spiritual body of Christ; or seen as the covenant community of God on earth through which God works in terms of special grace; or the faithful remnant amidst the apostate denominations). Whatever view/views they hold, learning the Christological ramifications of the Church created at Pentecost as the real body of Christ on earth (much like the real presence in the Eucharist); the Church of Christ being a real entity as it exists in the Orthdox Church (like Christ having a real human body) and not some spiritualize "pure" church existing only in the hearts of disparate believers (a Docetistic view of the Church similar to the Docetist heresy in Christology); understanding the Church as the vehicle of salvation that bears Christ and offers Him to the world in the sacraments and prayer (which opens a door for them to begin to perhaps understand our veneration of the Mother of God who, as the type of the Church, bore Christ in her flesh and offered Him to the world and who prays for us); understanding the Church as the fellowship of all who have believed in Christ from Adam and Eve to the present and who are all part of the one body of Christ throughout all of time and who are all worshipping together and at once in the Divine Liturgy because of the Incarnation, Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ (which again, could open some doors to them for understanding our veneration of the saints) - all of these things could be touchpoints for greater communication and understanding, allowing them to see and understanding that all that we do and believe as Orthodox Christians is radically Christological.

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« Reply #105 on: January 15, 2010, 04:07:28 PM »

[ We do not read them as theological authorities; rather, we read them for spiritual nourishment, as we might read any other non-canonical Christian writer.
In the same manner we turn to the Fathers, as I wrote before, from Clement of Rome onwards. But there is no dishonesty in our doing so, rather a search by needy souls for spiritual nourishment. If you wish to dub this buffet reading, then so be it: I will not quibble over the word by which it is described. But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer.


This quote by Ortho_cat
As with scripture, It is simply not enough to say that one adheres to the word of the creed (or parts thereof); one must also adhere to the spirit of such, which is embodied within the bosom of the Church and her Tradition. The fathers had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed; to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context.




These two replies by David Young and Ortho_cat get at the heart of the problem.

Protestants read from Holy Tradition in a way that is very different from Orthodox. It pains us to see the Fathers grouped with "any other non-canonical Christian writer." But, if we are honest, we once read them in the same way (if we are converts) before we converted. Maybe some of us gave them a bit more weight in view of their antiquity or proximity to the time of the Apostes, but we did not embrace the Orthodox understanding of Holy Tradition and the Fathers' place in that Tradition.

Likewise, because of the Protestant mindset of interacting with the various writers throughout Church history and embracing from them what is in keeping with one's own traditions (little "t"), while perhaps being challenged, but not moved out of one's own communion by what one has read therein; and so, thereby "agreeing to disagree" with these writers on some points, David Young is perfectly correct to state:
"But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer."

We may disagree with his methodology but he has been perfectly honest about it with us!

On the other hand, Ortho_cat correctly points out that there is a whole supporting phenomenon of Holy Tradition and the historical Church of Antiquity (which we identify as the Orthodox Church) which must be considered if we want to rightly interpret and understand the Fathers (or Scripture itself). At the minimum for Protestants, we can press upon them that, to be good exegetes of the Fathers they must make an attempt to understand that the Fathers "had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed" that they (Protestants) themselves should at least try to come to understand. Then hermeneutically, if they differ from the Fathers in their application, then at least they do so with the understanding "that to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context."

Protestants do this all the time in their exegesis and interpretation of the Old Testament. At least at the level of professional theologians, teachers and ministers, it shouldn't be asking too much to approach the Fathers in the same manner.

But again, to excoriate all Protestants, especially lay people, who may pick up a book by one of the Fathers for devotional purposes and expect them to know/understand all of this is not fair (because. as I pointed out in a prior post, they would have to have converted before they were converted in order to do so). So, let them benefit and be edified (even if it is ala cart for now) and pray that, because of this devotional reading, they see the True Light of Orthodoxy one day!



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« Reply #106 on: January 16, 2010, 07:03:27 AM »

Brother Aidan's posts are very helpful. Thank you!
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« Reply #107 on: October 03, 2010, 05:17:38 AM »

It may be of interest that our Albanian translations of Athanasius "On the Incarnation of the Word of God" and his Letter to Marcellinus (on the use of the Psalms), and also our long extracts from the homilies of John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew, are currently with the printer in Tirana.
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