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Author Topic: A question for protestants...  (Read 26315 times) Average Rating: 0
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katherineofdixie
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« Reply #90 on: February 24, 2010, 10:42:19 AM »

you have yet to show us any evidence whatsoever that our usage did NOT exist in the first century.   

It's dashed hard to prove that something does not exist! Are you perhaps asking the impossible? It's what atheists fail to achieve, on a rather different scale. All I can say is, that I am not aware of any documentary evidence from the 1st century which substantiates your interpretation of the words (elder, overseer, bishop) or gainsays ours.

Then what about providing evidence that your interpretation of the words was the common understanding in the 1st century?
Especially since isa has supplied evidence which substantiates our understanding.
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« Reply #91 on: February 24, 2010, 12:36:49 PM »

I was not suggesting we could trace our history back to the first century - though I did once read a pamphlet which argued that, in the early church period, all churches were Strict and Particular Baptist. (But I shan't argue for that: I wouldn't persuade you anyway!)

In the Baptist church of my youth (we didn't call ourselves Particular Baptists, but our denomination developed from that group), I was taught a something similar to what that pamphlet argued.  By God's mercy, I saw the folly of it and eventually became Orthodox.  So, no, you would not persuade me.  But I am genuinely glad you're here discussing these things.
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« Reply #92 on: February 24, 2010, 03:08:23 PM »

1. Clement is first century, as is Igantius.

2. what exactly are you arguing? 

3. you are claiming our ecclesiology and its hierarchy are an impediment to salvation.

1 and 2. I know they used the words. I am saying that the word bishop or overseer in the NT means more like a local pastor or elder in one church, without wider jurisdiction; that the idea of a bishop with a see and authority over a number of churches in a wide area is a later development. We could discuss whether the first glimmers of the new meaning appears in Clement and Ignatius, if you give me chapter and verse for me to look up and think about.

3. No I'm not; if anything, I'm saying the opposite - that (in our view) it is a matter which does not affect, and certainly does not effect, salvation - that, as regards one's relationship with the Lord, it is not an important issue.
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« Reply #93 on: February 24, 2010, 04:11:22 PM »

I know they used the words. I am saying that the word bishop or overseer in the NT means more like a local pastor or elder in one church, without wider jurisdiction; that the idea of a bishop with a see and authority over a number of churches in a wide area is a later development. We could discuss whether the first glimmers of the new meaning appears in Clement and Ignatius, if you give me chapter and verse for me to look up and think about.

Okay then, show us the evidence - that the early Christians agreed with you, and then show us where it changed.

http://www.fatheralexander.org/booklets/english/worship_early_church_ext.htm

St. Ignatius, said by Eusebius to have been the second Bishop of Antioch for 40 years,  was arrested and condemned to death in the arena in Rome around 107, which puts him in the lifetime of some of the Apostles, was taken under guard to Rome, along the way he was able to receive delegations from the local churches, headed by the Bishop, and wrote them letters.

"All of you follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; respect the deacons as the ordinance of God."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).
"Take great care to keep one Eucharist. For there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us by His Blood; one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow-servants. Thus all your acts may be done accordingly to God's will."(Letter to the Philadelphians).
"Let no one do anything that pertains to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is under the bishop or one whom he has delegated. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ may be, there is the catholic Church ."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).

(Btw, just for kicks, what would it mean to you to find out that the Orthodox understanding of the office of the Bishop was both historic and correct?)


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« Reply #94 on: February 24, 2010, 06:45:31 PM »

show us the evidence - that the early Christians agreed with you, and then show us where it changed.

I fear I am losing track of whether we are discussing Church History or Semantics. We could probably argue for ever by exchanging posts along the lines of "The NT means 'episkopos' in our sense"; "No, it doesn't: it means it in our sense." None of your quotes from Ignatius of Antioch shows his meaning either way - the bishop (i.e. overseer) of one local church (as we say), or the bishop with a diocese embracing many churches (as you say). I have been commenting only on the extent of a bishop's jurisdiction. The NT says that bishops should be ordained "in every church". Individual churches are addressed in various epistles, and each has its own complement of bishops or elders. They are attached to local churches, and preside only over their own church. That is all I am saying.

It is true that we do not use the English word 'bishop', because of the confusion which has grown up over its meaning; it is simpler to keep to the words 'pastor' and 'elder'. The word 'bishop' is sometimes used among us in the sense we believe 'episkopos' carried in the NT, but it is rare, and usually archaic, stiltedly formal, or humorous.

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what would it mean to you to find out that the Orthodox understanding of the office of the Bishop was both historic and correct?

It would presumably mean that the only known and sure channel of grace was the episcopacy, and its duly ordained priesthood, within apostolic succession. I might be generous enough to say things like, "I know where God's grace is: I do not know where it is not"; or I might end up more rigorous (converts often do) and say there is no salvation outside the church. (Was it Cyprian who coined that slogan?)

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« Reply #95 on: February 24, 2010, 07:24:52 PM »

1. Clement is first century, as is Igantius.

2. what exactly are you arguing?  

3. you are claiming our ecclesiology and its hierarchy are an impediment to salvation.

1 and 2. I know they used the words. I am saying that the word bishop or overseer in the NT means more like a local pastor or elder in one church, without wider jurisdiction; that the idea of a bishop with a see and authority over a number of churches in a wide area is a later development. We could discuss whether the first glimmers of the new meaning appears in Clement and Ignatius, if you give me chapter and verse for me to look up and think about.

I have to be quick right now: for one thing, the fact that both SS Clement and Ignatius write to cities and bishops not within the city limits of their capital, but within their patriarchates (hence why St. Ignatios' tone to Rome is not the same as the rest of the epistles: Rome is not in Antioch's jurisdiction).

Clement I 40-44:
Quote
These things therefore being manifest to us, and since we look into the depths of the divine knowledge, it behooves us to do all things in [their proper] order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times. He has enjoined offerings [to be presented] and service to be performed [to Him], and that not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours. Where and by whom He desires these things to be done, He Himself has fixed by His own supreme will, in order that all things, being piously done according to His good pleasure, may be acceptable unto Him. Those, therefore, who present their offerings at the appointed times, are accepted and blessed; for inasmuch as they follow the laws of the Lord, they sin not. For his own peculiar services are assigned to the high priest, and their own proper place is prescribed to the priests, and their own special ministrations devolve on the Levites. The layman is bound by the laws that pertain to laymen.

Let every one of you, brethren, give thanks to God in his own order, living in all good conscience, with becoming gravity, and not going beyond the rule of the ministry prescribed to him. Not in every place, brethren, are the daily sacrifices offered, or the peace-offerings, or the sin-offerings and the trespass-offerings, but in Jerusalem only. And even there they are not offered in any place, but only at the altar before the temple, that which is offered being first carefully examined by the high priest and the ministers already mentioned. Those, therefore, who do anything beyond that which is agreeable to His will, are punished with death. You see, brethren, that the greater the knowledge that has been vouchsafed to us, the greater also is the danger to which we are exposed.

The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.

And what wonder is it if those in Christ who were entrusted with such a duty by God, appointed those [ministers] before mentioned, when the blessed Moses also, a faithful servant in all his house, noted down in the sacred books all the injunctions which were given him, and when the other prophets also followed him, bearing witness with one consent to the ordinances which he had appointed? For, when rivalry arose concerning the priesthood, and the tribes were contending among themselves as to which of them should be adorned with that glorious title, he commanded the twelve princes of the tribes to bring him their rods, each one being inscribed with the name of the tribe. And he took them and bound them [together], and sealed them with the rings of the princes of the tribes, and laid them up in the tabernacle of witness on the table of God. And having shut the doors of the tabernacle, he sealed the keys, as he had done the rods, and said to them, Men and brethren, the tribe whose rod shall blossom has God chosen to fulfil the office of the priesthood, and to minister unto Him. And when the morning had come, he assembled all Israel, six hundred thousand men, and showed the seals to the princes of the tribes, and opened the tabernacle of witness, and brought forth the rods. And the rod of Aaron was found not only to have blossomed, but to bear fruit upon it. What think ye, beloved? Did not Moses know beforehand that this would happen? Undoubtedly he knew; but he acted thus, that there might be no sedition in Israel, and that the name of the true and only God might be glorified; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that you have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.

Quote
3. No I'm not; if anything, I'm saying the opposite - that (in our view) it is a matter which does not affect, and certainly does not effect, salvation - that, as regards one's relationship with the Lord, it is not an important issue.
If someone is obscuring the pure simplicity of the Gospel (IIRC from my Protestant days), that doesn't have an effect on salvation?

Btw, I'd still like a definition in your own words as to the source and extent of the overseer's authority.
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« Reply #96 on: February 25, 2010, 04:40:44 AM »

If someone is obscuring the pure simplicity of the Gospel ... that doesn't have an effect on salvation?

I'd still like a definition in your own words as to the source and extent of the overseer's authority.

Reversing the order of your questions:

Like yourgoodself, I must hasten away. I think we shall have to 'agree to disagree' on what Ignatius and Clement mean by bishop, for both your meaning and ours make perfect sense in the context you give. Clement wrote his word of brotherly and ministerial exhoration to the church in Corinth, but it does not imply that he had authority over that church: one may exhort, counsel, urge, encourage from a position other than authority. Similarly Ignatius in his epistles to various churches - though I doubt not that he felt that his journey to martyrdom gave him some moral authority.

I think the scriptures are plain that each church had it own overseers (episkopoi), and that they led in their own churches. The NT gives quite a lot of information about their qualifications, roles and duties, which you know as well as I, I'm sure.

I don't think the having of bishops (in your current sense) obscures the simplicity of the gospel, if we are considering only the geographical extent of their jurisdiction and the system of organisation they represent. The important thing is that each church should have its duly appointed overseers. Both your system and ours (and all others - Methodist, Presbyterian etc) are operated by fallen human beings, redeemed but not yet made perfect, and while this age lasts all systems will malfunction for that reason, from time to time. There are competent, gifted Baptist pastors under whom the churches thrive, and I suspect there are competent, gifted Orthodox priests under whom the churches thrive. Likewise, there are men in the wrong place, duly appointed in terms of the organisation but unsuited to be ministers of the Word, lacking both grace and gifts. There are most certainly such men in Baptist pastorates, and I doubt not that there are Orthodox churches in similar plights. What matters is the divine and human qualities of the local pastor/overseer/elder/'priest', and if an unsuitable one gets through the system and is appointed, either by a bishop in your case, or by a local church in ours, it is a disaster. But it is not the means of his appointment that obscures the simplicity of the Gospel.

My desire and prayer is that your bishops and our churches will be given divine grace and wisdom to discover and appoint godly, gifted men to lead the local churches.

If you mean - which we were not actually discussing - that the nature of the episcopacy (leading to priesthood, and sacraments as understood among Orthodox, and other matters passed on by the bishops as part of Holy Tradition), then Yes, we do believe this obscures the simplicity of the Gospel: but we have discussed that at length on a number of threads when exploring whether the Orthodox have added accretions to pure Christianity, or whether Protestants have pared away genuine aspects of the Faith. I suggest we do not go down that line again, as the relevant threads are open for review, and I think we have all disburdened our souls on those matters.
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« Reply #97 on: February 25, 2010, 11:25:05 AM »

I think the scriptures are plain that each church had it own overseers (episkopoi), and that they led in their own churches.

Then who were the presbyters? St. Ignatius mentions three types, if you will: bishop, presbyter and deacon.

Also still awaiting evidence that the early Christians understood the office of bishop in the Baptist way and not the Orthodox way, and when it changed.

It would seem logical that bishops became responsible for a larger geographical area as the church grew, wouldn't you agree?

But as to their apostolic and sacramental role, that was there from the beginning, as we see from the NT and Clement and Ignatius (both lived and served within the lifetime of at least some of the Apostles).
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« Reply #98 on: February 25, 2010, 01:14:27 PM »

Then who were the presbyters?

As far as I am aware - but you'd really need to ask someone familiar with NT Greek - the two are synonymous, each Greek word being attached to one aspect or another of their role. A bishop or presbyter was the same man (not woman).

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It would seem logical that bishops became responsible for a larger geographical area as the church grew, wouldn't you agree?

I believe that is what happened. And the name developed with them, so that the word also widened its geographical meaning. This is what I've been saying.

Quote
as to their ... sacramental role, that was there from the beginning,

That, of course, is where we disagree, and is far more deeply important than whether they wielded authority over one or several churches. But we have explored the matter at great length elsewhere.

(I do not mean that baptism and the Lord's Supper are not sacraments; I mean that your view of the sacraments, and of the "bishops, presbyters, priests, overseers, elders" who administered those sacraments is different from our view. There are long posts on this from your side and ours on other threads.)
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« Reply #99 on: February 25, 2010, 01:26:13 PM »

Then who were the presbyters?

As far as I am aware - but you'd really need to ask someone familiar with NT Greek - the two are synonymous, each Greek word being attached to one aspect or another of their role. A bishop or presbyter was the same man (not woman).
But St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that, if the bishop/presbyter was always the same man?
Three orders and apostolic role of bishop:"All of you follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; respect the deacons as the ordinance of God."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).
Sacramental, and three orders:"Take great care to keep one Eucharist. For there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us by His Blood; one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow-servants. Thus all your acts may be done accordingly to God's will."(Letter to the Philadelphians).
"Let no one do anything that pertains to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is under the bishop or one whom he has delegated. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ may be, there is the catholic Church ."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).


Still waiting for some kind of evidence that early Christians understood the office of bishop the way modern Baptists do, also when it changed?
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« Reply #100 on: February 25, 2010, 01:45:21 PM »

Then who were the presbyters?

As far as I am aware - but you'd really need to ask someone familiar with NT Greek - the two are synonymous, each Greek word being attached to one aspect or another of their role. A bishop or presbyter was the same man (not woman).
But St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that, if the bishop/presbyter was always the same man?
Three orders and apostolic role of bishop:"All of you follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; respect the deacons as the ordinance of God."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).
Sacramental, and three orders:"Take great care to keep one Eucharist. For there is one Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ and one cup to unite us by His Blood; one sanctuary, as there is one bishop, together with the presbytery and the deacons, my fellow-servants. Thus all your acts may be done accordingly to God's will."(Letter to the Philadelphians).
"Let no one do anything that pertains to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is under the bishop or one whom he has delegated. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ may be, there is the catholic Church ."(Letter to the Smyrnaeans).


Still waiting for some kind of evidence that early Christians understood the office of bishop the way modern Baptists do, also when it changed?

I don't think you can make the argument that they are synonyms from a Scriptural perspective. 

First of all, you need to look at the usage.  When 'presbyter' is used not to describe one's age, it is more frequently used in the plural, such as an assembly of presbyters in a given location.

Whereas 'episcopos' is used, with one exception, in the singular.  One can infer that there were a lot fewer bishops than presbyters just by the singular/plural usage.  If they were the same group, one would assume that the singular/plural ratio would be the same.

St. Paul calls himself a 'presbyter' which is in keeping with the Church's teaching that Bishops arise from the Presbytery, which is natural considering that a Bishop ought to arise fom the 'elders' of a community.
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« Reply #101 on: February 26, 2010, 07:17:08 AM »

St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that,

By Ignatius's time, there were churches where the new meaning of 'bishop' had begun to be in use; it had begun to happen that a church had one bishop - a new development - whose role was in some senses above that of elders and deacons. Such a thing is still common to this day, only they tend to be called pastors, elders and deacons.
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« Reply #102 on: February 26, 2010, 10:27:28 AM »

St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that,

By Ignatius's time, there were churches where the new meaning of 'bishop' had begun to be in use; it had begun to happen that a church had one bishop - a new development - whose role was in some senses above that of elders and deacons.
so you date this "new" development (which, if you read St. Ignatius, he is not speaking of a "new" development, but rather established practice) to within the lifetime of some of the Apostles?

Quote
Such a thing is still common to this day, only they tend to be called pastors, elders and deacons.
How can it be common if they are called something else?
So you could really say of pastors, elders and deacons today: "All of you follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles..." or "Let no one do anything that pertains to the Church apart from the bishop. Let that be considered a valid Eucharist which is under the bishop or one whom he has delegated. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the people be; just as wherever Jesus Christ may be, there is the catholic Church "?
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« Reply #103 on: February 26, 2010, 12:32:47 PM »

St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that,

By Ignatius's time,
LOL. You mean the time of the Apostles?  Perhaps you don't, but that (St. Ignatius being ordained by St. Peter and all) was what it was.

Quote
there were churches where the new meaning of 'bishop' had begun to be in use; it had begun to happen that a church had one bishop - a new development - whose role was in some senses above that of elders and deacons. Such a thing is still common to this day, only they tend to be called pastors, elders and deacons.
No, they tend to be Synods of Bishops, priests and deacons today.  Your "still" is misplaced: even if we presume your set up for the first century, we don't find it in the intervening plus millenium.

Is the number of bishops per city (or are you counting per congregation?) at the core of your "first century definition?"  It doesn't seem all that important in the context of the spreading out of the Church. In the days of St. Innnocent of Alaska, when he was just a parish missionary priest (and married!), he travelled all the way from the Aleutians to San Francisco to pastor the Orthodox in the New World. St. Innocent was ordained bishop only because his wife passed away. His duties didn't change all that much.  There were areas in the first century (and every century in between) where similar conditions prevailed (e.g. Ireland).  In the highly settled, densely populated and urban Roman empire, the hiearchy fanned out from the metropolises.

As far as the hierarchy is concerned, the presbytery was derived from the episcopacy (although now bishops are taken from among the priests), like the deaconate was derived from the royal priesthood.  We see that already in scripture, and we see it today, as Fr. Girguis stated: rubrics, for instance, call for "the elder," which in the presence of the bishop means him, in his absence the priest or the senior priest.  The only difference between "bishop" in the second and in the first century is only one of circumstances, not substance.  Which is evident by SS. Clement and Ignatius,as they lived their office out in not only the first century, but the first half century, of the Church.

For some reason I am reminded of an incident a few years ago, when a Baptist pastor (or would you say "overseer") tried to bring his congregation into Orthoodxy.  When they balked (and dragged up old and estranged members IIRC for the vote), he said he was going anyway, and some of the congregation came by us.  He is now an Orthodox priest, and they now are an Orthodox parish.

If someone is obscuring the pure simplicity of the Gospel ... that doesn't have an effect on salvation?

I'd still like a definition in your own words as to the source and extent of the overseer's authority.

Reversing the order of your questions:

Like yourgoodself, I must hasten away. I think we shall have to 'agree to disagree' on what Ignatius and Clement mean by bishop,

No, we don't.  They are quite clear.  Neither will support the congregationalist model I augur you hold (correct me if I misunderstand).

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for both your meaning and ours make perfect sense in the context you give. Clement wrote his word of brotherly and ministerial exhoration to the church in Corinth, but it does not imply that he had authority over that church: one may exhort, counsel, urge, encourage from a position other than authority.

No, he expects to be obeyed.  Hence his comparison of Congregationalism to the rebellion of Korah, and the proof of the authority of the priesthood being enshrined in the Ark itself.  He makes it clear that he is not making suggestions for their consideration, but commads with consequences (56-65):
Quote
Let us then also pray for those who have fallen into any sin, that meekness and humility may be given to them, so that they may submit, not unto us, but to the will of God. For in this way they shall secure a fruitful and perfect remembrance from us, with sympathy for them, both in our prayers to God, and our mention of them to the saints....You therefore, who laid the foundation of this sedition, submit yourselves to the presbyters, and receive correction so as to repent, bending the knees of your hearts. Learn to be subject, laying aside the proud and arrogant self-confidence of your tongue. For it is better for you that you should occupy a humble but honourable place in the flock of Christ, than that, being highly exalted, you should be cast out from the hope of His people....Let us, therefore, flee from the warning threats pronounced by Wisdom on the disobedient, and yield submission to His all-holy and glorious name, that we may stay our trust upon the most hallowed name of His majesty. Receive our counsel, and you shall be without repentance. For, as God lives, and as the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost live—both the faith and hope of the elect, he who in lowliness of mind, with instant gentleness, and without repentance has observed the ordinances and appointments given by God— the same shall obtain a place and name in the number of those who are being saved through Jesus Christ, through whom is glory to Him for ever and ever. Amen....If, however, any shall disobey the words spoken by Him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and serious danger; but we shall be innocent of this sin, and, instant in prayer and supplication, shall desire that the Creator of all preserve unbroken the computed number of His elect in the whole world through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, through whom He called us from darkness to light, from ignorance to knowledge of the glory of His name, our hope resting on Your name which is primal cause of every creature—having opened the eyes of our heart to the knowledge of You, who alone rests highest among the highest, holy among the holy, Isaiah 57:15 who layest low the insolence of the haughty, Isaiah 13:11...Right is it, therefore, to approach examples so good and so many, and submit the neck and fulfil the part of obedience, in order that, undisturbed by vain sedition, we may attain unto the goal set before us in truth wholly free from blame. Joy and gladness will you afford us, if you become obedient to the words written by us and through the Holy Spirit root out the lawless wrath of your jealousy according to the intercession which we have made for peace and unity in this letter. We have sent men faithful and discreet, whose conversation from youth to old age has been blameless among us—the same shall be witnesses between you and us. This we have done, that you may know that our whole concern has been and is that you may be speedily at peace....Send back speedily to us in peace and with joy these our messengers to you: Claudius Ephebus and Valerius Bito, with Fortunatus; that they may the sooner announce to us the peace and harmony we so earnestly desire and long for [among you], and that we may the more quickly rejoice over the good order re-established among you.

Quote
Similarly Ignatius in his epistles to various churches - though I doubt not that he felt that his journey to martyrdom gave him some moral authority.

No, he is quite clear that he expects to be obeyed too, and e.g. gives instructions to the young bishop St. Polycarp as St. Paul did to St. Timothy.

Quote
I think the scriptures are plain that each church had it own overseers (episkopoi), and that they led in their own churches. The NT gives quite a lot of information about their qualifications, roles and duties, which you know as well as I, I'm sure.

Indeed.  It also shows that the Apostles at Antioch were under the Apostles of Jerusalem (hence the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15).

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I don't think the having of bishops (in your current sense)

LOL. You mean the 1st century sense in the 21st century?

Quote
obscures the simplicity of the gospel, if we are considering only the geographical extent of their jurisdiction and the system of organisation they represent. The important thing is that each church should have its duly appointed overseers. Both your system and ours (and all others - Methodist, Presbyterian etc) are operated by fallen human beings, redeemed but not yet made perfect, and while this age lasts all systems will malfunction for that reason, from time to time. There are competent, gifted Baptist pastors under whom the churches thrive, and I suspect there are competent, gifted Orthodox priests under whom the churches thrive. Likewise, there are men in the wrong place, duly appointed in terms of the organisation but unsuited to be ministers of the Word, lacking both grace and gifts. There are most certainly such men in Baptist pastorates, and I doubt not that there are Orthodox churches in similar plights. What matters is the divine and human qualities of the local pastor/overseer/elder/'priest', and if an unsuitable one gets through the system and is appointed, either by a bishop in your case, or by a local church in ours, it is a disaster. But it is not the means of his appointment that obscures the simplicity of the Gospel.

My desire and prayer is that your bishops and our churches will be given divine grace and wisdom to discover and appoint godly, gifted men to lead the local churches.

If you mean - which we were not actually discussing - that the nature of the episcopacy (leading to priesthood, and sacraments as understood among Orthodox, and other matters passed on by the bishops as part of Holy Tradition), then Yes, we do believe this obscures the simplicity of the Gospel: but we have discussed that at length on a number of threads when exploring whether the Orthodox have added accretions to pure Christianity, or whether Protestants have pared away genuine aspects of the Faith. I suggest we do not go down that line again, as the relevant threads are open for review, and I think we have all disburdened our souls on those matters.
Without that essence of the episcopacy, there are no bishops, no authority, no jurisdiction. And for that matter, no Gospel.
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« Reply #104 on: February 26, 2010, 01:31:11 PM »

St. Ignatius refers to three: bishops, presbyters and deacons. How do you account for that,

By Ignatius's time, there were churches where the new meaning of 'bishop' had begun to be in use; it had begun to happen that a church had one bishop - a new development - whose role was in some senses above that of elders and deacons. Such a thing is still common to this day, only they tend to be called pastors, elders and deacons.

Others have made the very important point that it is virtually impossible to separate St. Ignatius from the Apostolic period (I say 'virtually' because there is no accouting for the extremes some people will go to in making stretches, something even I have donre from time to time, though I hope not here).  However, I would like to make a point regarding the office of the Bishop in the Scriptures.

We have all been edified by the letters of St. Paul to St. Timothy, and I think now may be a good time to return to them:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ,
who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove,
rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound
doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves
teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be
turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of
an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:1-5)


I wonder how much different the office of the Bishop today differs from this model?  Reading through St. Paul's other admonishments:

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we
trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of
those that believe.
These things command and teach.
Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the
believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in
purity. (1 Timothy 4:9-12)


St. Paul tells St. Timothy to 'command and teach' as a Bishop.  He gives him several imperatives to do so, and goes on a bit about how to exercise the authority which, to this day, Orthodox Bishops continue to do.  St. Timothy is even advised on the correct way to admonish the Presbyters, thus showing that the episcopacy extended over the 'elders' (i.e. presbyters) who participated in his consecration by St. Paul:

Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;
The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity.  (1 Timothy 5:1-2)


Here, St. Paul advises St. Timothy not to be harsh on the elders in his work, which he would not have to do if Bishops did not reign over the Presbyters.  He's giving advice to a young man who must supervise those older than him.  Such advice would not be necessary if he was not expected to be a supervisor.

The authority and practice of the Orthodox episcopacy goes back to the Scriptures.  Sure, there are slightly different vestment and more elaborate practices, but they are inseparable from this ancient and Apostolic Tradition.

It does not require in-depth knowledge of Greek here to see what St. Paul is trying to teach the young Bishop.  St. Ignatius falls into line with these passages, as does the rest of the Tradition.

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« Reply #105 on: February 26, 2010, 05:08:15 PM »

As I said a few posts back, I suspect there is no value left in continuing this particular line of discussion - i.e. how many churches a bishop had under him in the mid first century - as both you and we will almost certainly continue believing what we have set out in our posts.

I have to confess it is not a matter I see as carrying any fundamental religious or spiritual significance: if they had one church (as we say) or several (as you say), it makes little difference, if any at all (as far as I can see), to how a man or woman relates to God in Christ.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me in such careful and comprehensive details.
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« Reply #106 on: February 26, 2010, 06:21:15 PM »

I have to confess it is not a matter I see as carrying any fundamental religious or spiritual significance: if they had one church (as we say) or several (as you say), it makes little difference, if any at all (as far as I can see), to how a man or woman relates to God in Christ.

Cognitive dissonance.
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« Reply #107 on: February 26, 2010, 07:37:56 PM »

As I said a few posts back, I suspect there is no value left in continuing this particular line of discussion - i.e. how many churches a bishop had under him in the mid first century - as both you and we will almost certainly continue believing what we have set out in our posts.

I have to confess it is not a matter I see as carrying any fundamental religious or spiritual significance: if they had one church (as we say) or several (as you say), it makes little difference, if any at all (as far as I can see), to how a man or woman relates to God in Christ.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me in such careful and comprehensive details.


From an Orthodox perspective, the role of the Bishop is critical to the life of the believer.  It is the Bishop who is charged with caring for the believer, teaching the believer and correcting the believer.  Again, if such a role was optional, the Scriptures would say so.  They say the opposite, which is why these epistles were included in the canon.

It becomes profoundly more obvious in moments of conflict, the examples of which are too many to catalog.

We relate to God through the Body of Christ, which St. Paul tells us is administered by those in rightful authority (i.e. Apostles, Bishops, etc.).  You can't have the Gospel unless the Church first shares it with you, and the invention of the printing press does not invalidate the Truth of the Church.  Just because you can buy a Bible does not mean it is yours or mine to interpret in a singular manner.

Rather, most of us have notions of the Scriptures given to us long before we make the effort to read it carefully.  We hope that those teachings are true in such cases, but that does not absolve us of the necessity to search and find what it says.

Frankly, and I say this with Christian love and care, you simply can't say that none of this means anything to the believer when St. Paul so explicitly says otherwise.  We may argue over the meaning of this passage or that, but I don't think that you can honestly read the Scriptures and find that St. Paul is 'agnostic' about the role of the Bishop, or the Apostle, or the Teacher, etc.

I do apologize if I am coming off a bit terse, but it is difficult to make this point without potentially treading on some toes.
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« Reply #108 on: February 26, 2010, 08:01:49 PM »

As I said a few posts back, I suspect there is no value left in continuing this particular line of discussion - i.e. how many churches a bishop had under him in the mid first century -
Answer none: the Apostles were busy founding them.  The handoff of Acts 22 didn't happedn until 58: St. Paul's letter to Titus tells us Titus was in authority of every city in Crete.


Quote
as both you and we will almost certainly continue believing what we have set out in our posts.

Did I miss something?  The number of Churches a bishop had has been the only difference you have pointed out between your definition and ours, let alone the difference between your definition and that of the 1st century bishops themselves.

Quote
I have to confess it is not a matter I see as carrying any fundamental religious or spiritual significance: if they had one church (as we say) or several (as you say), it makes little difference, if any at all (as far as I can see), to how a man or woman relates to God in Christ.

If the bishop has one or thousands of Churches, it makes no difference, neither today nor in the 1st century.  The presence or absence of a bishop makes a great of difference.  To confess otherwise is to admit the Muslim's relationship to God in Christ.


Quote
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me in such careful and comprehensive details.

If you have posted your definition of an overseer, please direct.
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« Reply #109 on: February 27, 2010, 08:51:35 AM »

Let me put it like this. I was asked to give a lecture on Evangelical Christianity to an audience of 100+ three years in a row in Gjilan, which some of you may prefer to call Gnjilane. Probably the audience was 100% Moslem. After each lecture came a question session, and one question asked what the difference is between a priest and a pastor. By 'priest' I assumed that Orthodox or Catholic was meant; by 'pastor' probably a man fulfilling a similar role (in Moslem eyes) in an Evangelical or Pentecostal church. Corresponding with you good people, and reading Orthodox literature, has enabled me (I hope) to give an answer to that kind of question, with honesty and respect as well as some accuracy, that is, about what Orthodox mean by 'priest'; I contrasted it with our 'pastor' explaining that he is no different from any other man other than in the duties or tasks he fulfils in church: praying for his flock, teaching them the Faith, visiting them, exhorting, advising, comforting them, leading them, whilst having no 'priestly' or 'sacramental' power different from other men. Bishops didn't come into the questioning, presumably because they observed that there are no Evangelical or Pentecostal bishops in their country; nonetheless, had they asked, I dare say I would have said something like this: that, from an Evangelical viewpoint, bishophood puts a man only in an organisational capacity in church hierarchy, as we do not believe in apostolic succession (either in the sense that it is real, or in the sense that it matters even if it is historically real). (An Anglican Evangelical might of course give a different reply, but I am not in a position to know.)

I don't want to discuss any of this, as we have done so at great length on various threads, and I have nothing more to add. But I hope that helps to clarify what I believe Cleopas and I (and of course many others sadly not participating on the forum) would say.
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« Reply #110 on: March 01, 2010, 10:23:10 AM »

from an Evangelical viewpoint, bishophood puts a man only in an organisational capacity in church hierarchy, as we do not believe in apostolic succession (either in the sense that it is real, or in the sense that it matters even if it is historically real)
...I don't want to discuss any of this, as we have done so at great length on various threads, and I have nothing more to add. But I hope that helps to clarify what I believe Cleopas and I (and of course many others sadly not participating on the forum) would say.

David, honey, you are perfectly free to say whatever you want, of course, but where is your evidence? That's all I (and I think the others here) want to see. We have provided ours, but all we have seen from you is opinion/interpretation.
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« Reply #111 on: March 01, 2010, 11:57:13 AM »

bishophood ... church hierarchy ... apostolic succession

As I said before, in reply to our esteemed GreekChef, it is hard to provide evidence for the absence of something. We simply see no reference to, or presence of, the concept of priesthood (apart of course from references to Jewish priests) in the NT, nor to the intention of a Church organised through the decades and centuries on the basis Apostolic Succession with the laying-on of hands in an unbroken line, nor even to a stratum of church organisation such as is currently filled by bishops in the modern sense of the word.

I am not saying this form of organisation is a hindrance to the Gospel or to spirituality, any more than any other structure which has developed in different times and places among the people of God, all of which can be operated by people filled with the Holy Ghost and be a blessing to men, or by ambitious men and women who wangle a position they have no divine calling or gift for. I am not saying the stratum of bishops should be abolished and every denomination should be run on Baptist lines (that is, autonomous local churches linked in voluntary, equal fellowship).

I am aware that certain words were used in the NT, but I suspect that neither of us has the time or inclination to list every occurrence in the NT of the words priest, bishop, presbyter, elder, pastor and perhaps related words, and to debate the meaning of each in the light of its literary and historical context. I am also aware that we can jump ahead into the following century and see that, in some places at least, the modern sense of the words had begun to develop or was already in place. But I am not qualified to prove (which is what you ask) that your meaning is absent in every case, or that ours must be the only possible sense in every case.  But detaching the NT from Holy Tradition, I do think that our understanding of the words and roles form a coherent and consistent whole.

I am not saying that your claim to unbroken historical succession of bishops is false (though neither do I see it as proven). What I have said is, that it is not in our view a biblical concept, and thus even if it is a historical fact, it has no spiritual importance.
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« Reply #112 on: March 01, 2010, 02:10:56 PM »

bishophood ... church hierarchy ... apostolic succession

As I said before, in reply to our esteemed GreekChef, it is hard to provide evidence for the absence of something.

But that's not your problem.  Your problem is that bishophood/Church hierarchy/apostolic succession are quite clearly taught by SS. Clement and Ignatius and that before the close of the 1st century, within the first half century of after the first of the NT was written and before the last book was finished, and by those who knew the Apostles (and the appeal to scripture isn't going to solve your problem, as you depend on those who held SS Clement and Igantius. Otherewise you could have ended up with the Gospel of Thomas).  St. Paul specifically tells St. Titus to install the bishops/presbyters, and tells St. Timothy not to neglect the charism he received when hands were laid on him.  SS. Clement and Igantius are but the continuation of that dogma.

Quote
We simply see no reference to, or presence of, the concept of priesthood (apart of course from references to Jewish priests) in the NT, nor to the intention of a Church organised through the decades and centuries on the basis Apostolic Succession with the laying-on of hands in an unbroken line, nor even to a stratum of church organisation such as is currently filled by bishops in the modern sense of the word.

Before I analyze this, just for a moment consider the absurdity that some cabal could form a hierarchy which has continued to govern the Church uninterrupted from the 2nd century to this day whereas you are claiming that the governance of the Church against which the gates of Hell it is promised will not prevail, went defunct in less than a century and was only revived over a millenium and a half later.

The NT is quite clear: there is a charism giving in the laying on of hands as we are told in Timothy, which is to be perpetuated as we are told in Titus. There is the office of bishop, to which the Apostles in St. Paul gave the Church over to in Acts 20 (having laid down the continuation of the episcopacy in Acts 1).   The Samaritans do not receive the Holy Spirit, as the Apostles have not laid hands on them, and the Church of Jerusalem exercises its jurisdiction by sending SS John and Peter. The Holy Spirit and the Church of Jerusalem don't make helpful suggestions to the Church of Antioch but "lay upon [them] necessary things." All these practices, btw, have precedence in how the Hebrews were practicing the Old Covenan in the 1st century (e.g. the transmittal of authority by semikha). And the epistle to the Hebrews (which we read during Lent) deals a lot with the High Priesthood of Christ.  If you aren't seeing priesthood in the NT I'm afraid you are either a) not looking, b) not understanding what you are seeing (I'm betting on the second).

Quote
I am not saying this form of organisation is a hindrance to the Gospel or to spirituality, any more than any other structure which has developed in different times and places among the people of God, all of which can be operated by people filled with the Holy Ghost and be a blessing to men, or by ambitious men and women who wangle a position they have no divine calling or gift for. I am not saying the stratum of bishops should be abolished and every denomination should be run on Baptist lines (that is, autonomous local churches linked in voluntary, equal fellowship).

We say (and have said since the time of Apostles) that the episcopacy is a necessary thing of the Church, derived from the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, Christ Himself (I Peter 2:25).  Either those to whom the Apostels entrusted the Church erected that hinderance, or you have taken away a necessary element of the Church.  Either Christ is insane, or He is the Son of God: the Gospel does not give the  "good philosopher" as a valid choice.  Either the Holy Spirit and Christ work through the episcopacy or the episcopacy has interjected itself as a hinderance between Christ and the Church.

Quote
I am aware that certain words were used in the NT, but I suspect that neither of us has the time or inclination to list every occurrence in the NT of the words priest, bishop, presbyter, elder, pastor and perhaps related words, and to debate the meaning of each in the light of its literary and historical context.

It's not that hard.

Quote
I am also aware that we can jump ahead into the following century and see that, in some places at least, the modern sense of the words had begun to develop or was already in place. But I am not qualified to prove (which is what you ask) that your meaning is absent in every case, or that ours must be the only possible sense in every case.  But detaching the NT from Holy Tradition, I do think that our understanding of the words and roles form a coherent and consistent whole.

That's your first problem, because without Holy Tradition, how do you justify not using the Gospel of Thomas?  Marcion's Gospel?  Why do you not accept the Epistle of Clement as Scripture (as was by many in the Church, and in the early codeces), which would easily settle the issue sola scriptura?

But besides that, I see no evidence for your meaning fullfilling the references in the NT.  Antioch and Samaria are not autonoous from Jerusalem, nor her equal. Nor were their association voluntary, except that they did not want to be schismatic nor heretical.

Quote
I am not saying that your claim to unbroken historical succession of bishops is false (though neither do I see it as proven). What I have said is, that it is not in our view a biblical concept, and thus even if it is a historical fact, it has no spiritual importance.
The historical fact that those upon which you depend for your Bible have seen, from the 1st century on, the unbroken succession of bishops as a necessary thing gives it spiritual importance.
from an Evangelical viewpoint, bishophood puts a man only in an organisational capacity in church hierarchy, as we do not believe in apostolic succession (either in the sense that it is real, or in the sense that it matters even if it is historically real)
...I don't want to discuss any of this, as we have done so at great length on various threads, and I have nothing more to add. But I hope that helps to clarify what I believe Cleopas and I (and of course many others sadly not participating on the forum) would say.

David, honey, you are perfectly free to say whatever you want, of course, but where is your evidence? That's all I (and I think the others here) want to see. We have provided ours, but all we have seen from you is opinion/interpretation.


No one in the NT goes out without being sent.  Even St. Paul received the laying on of hands, as we see in Acts.  He was called to be an Apostle but that calling also directed him to go to St. Ananias, ie. the Church.  As Timothy I shows, a gift of prophecy comes with the laying on of hands, such that St. Paul tells him not to neglect the charism and not to lay hands hastily lest it be conferred to the unworthy.  Not organization functions, but charism.

As for Apostolic succession, Acts 1, 20, and Titus 1 show that the Apostles were of a different mind on this matter.
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« Reply #113 on: March 01, 2010, 04:00:46 PM »

<snip>I am not saying the stratum of bishops should be abolished and every denomination should be run on Baptist lines (that is, autonomous local churches linked in voluntary, equal fellowship).</snip>

Of course you cannot, because it would represent a departure from the witness of Scripture, both in terms of Acts (i.e. the role of the Synod of Apostles in Jerusalem) and the Epistles of St. Paul (where he describes variously his authority over the churches and the various charisms, especially that of the episcopacy).

While we can all acknowledge many if not all Baptists are as sincere about their faith as anyone else, what must be acknowledged is that the movement itself is an attempt to 'reconstruct' a Church they assumed was destroyed by the Church of Rome in the West.

The abolition of the episcopacy in the Protestant movement was in protest to Roman 'abuses' as promulgated by Luther.  While Luther did not eliminate the episcopacy, he opened to the door for the Anabaptists and other movements that did.  The Baptist model was in reaction to Rome, but can't really appeal to the actual Tradition found in the Scriptures and the earliest texts of the Church.

The Orthodox Church had no role in the Western controversies, and so I don't think you can advocate a Baptist model in the face of an unbroken Apostolic Tradition of the episcopacy found in the Orthodox Church.

Also, you can't out-of-hand dismiss the importance of Tradition:

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. (2 Th 2:15)
...
Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. (2 Th 3:6)


The Orthodox Church bears this Tradition, both in Scripture and in word/practice.  I have yet to see a scholar take on the topic and prove definitively that the Orthodox Church's modern practices are of recent invention or represent a significant departure from ancient Tradition.  In fact, we are mostly criticized over the fact that we do not mold to the times.

Anyway, that's just a few things to think about.

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« Reply #114 on: March 02, 2010, 10:27:33 AM »

...it would represent a departure from the witness of Scripture, both in terms of Acts (i.e. the role of the Synod of Apostles in Jerusalem) and the Epistles of St. Paul (where he describes variously his authority over the churches and the various charisms, especially that of the episcopacy).

...I have yet to see a scholar take on the topic and prove definitively that the Orthodox Church's modern practices are of recent invention or represent a significant departure from ancient Tradition. 

Thank you, Father.
See, David, that's all I'm asking for: present your evidence, as others have here from Scripture and the early Church, and let's take a look at it.
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« Reply #115 on: March 02, 2010, 12:09:54 PM »

...it would represent a departure from the witness of Scripture, both in terms of Acts (i.e. the role of the Synod of Apostles in Jerusalem) and the Epistles of St. Paul (where he describes variously his authority over the churches and the various charisms, especially that of the episcopacy).

...I have yet to see a scholar take on the topic and prove definitively that the Orthodox Church's modern practices are of recent invention or represent a significant departure from ancient Tradition. 

Thank you, Father.
See, David, that's all I'm asking for: present your evidence, as others have here from Scripture and the early Church, and let's take a look at it.

Dear Katherine,

You are welcome, but I would like to add to my rather hasty reply that what I said ought not to be taken as some sort of 'Orthodox Triumphalism' at a personal level, as in 'I am right and you are wrong.'  It is, rather, that the Church is right and we (all humanity) are wrong.

The Tradition is not something that I chose, but I believe I was led to and forced to accept based on the overwhelming evidence presented to me that caused me, as a convert, to repent.  It has been difficult to accept, and the burden of obedience has been a cause for me, in my own weakness, to complain bitterly over its relatively light load.  I have complained against the hierarchy and the clergy, and even disobeyed at times with a feeling of supreme self-righteousness.  I have also had to repent of all this because, in the end, I am wrong and God is right.

Sometimes this system is frustratingly inefficient and even seems to harbor opportunities for abuse.  But, as our friend points out, no system is perfect.  So long as we have humans, we will have opportunity for sin.  The difference is whether we are following the will of God or self-will.

To abandon the Tradition for whatever reason is to abandon the will of God, beause the Tradition is how we learned about the will of God to begin with.  We heard the Gospel out of the Tradition that protects and preaches and teaches it.  Without the Tradition, there is no Gospel and there is no opportunity to truly know God.  If divine revelation was accessible without the Tradition, then all mankind would be automatically saved via the self-will.  There would be no need for religion or counseling or structure.  We would be born knowing God.

The problem is we don't.  Therefore, a human opinion (and believe me when I say that I have more than my fair share!) is next to worthless, because it is, at best, a guess.  We do not peer into the mind of God or even the heavenly regions.  God reveals Himself.  He moves downward to us and draws us up.  We do not have the natural ability to access Him, and yet He desires to draw us in.

The first step is one of humility, when we bow the knee of our hearts and and bodies, and begin to accept the idea that we humans need God.  Then, we bow down again to receive the Tradition.  We repent and are taught the Tradition, then are Baptized into the Heavenly Kingdom.  Every time we bow down, we are repenting.  We are changing direction and manner.

A gentleman like David, who is certainly eloquent and well-educated, may take offense to our approach to Tradition because it is so alien.  At times, it can even seem like we are engaging in a battle of 'who-is-the-smartest.' 

I want to assure you, David, I am certain you are a better man than I am.  I do not deserve what I have, and I certainly do not possess the Tradition.  Rather, it possesses me. 

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« Reply #116 on: March 02, 2010, 02:49:24 PM »

all I'm asking for: present your evidence,

Katherine, honey (to use your kind phrase  Wink), I have been trying to say gently and courteously that I feel disinclined to undertake this, and that for a number of reasons:

- I think all we would end up doing is each of us would become more entrenched in his own position, because by writing it all down carefully we would convince ourselves more strongly
- to do it properly would entail discussing every instance of all the related words, which would consume a huge amount of time, and we all have other commitments
- I'm fairly sure neither of us would convince the other, for it must be possible to hold either position with integrity and seriousness, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Baptists and so many Orthodox in the world, all intelligent, thinking, and theologically alert
- although the function of bishops is important to you Orthodox, to us it is not an important concern, and doesn't really engage my cafeteria mentality (that is, the desire to learn what I can of the Lord from the riches of Orthodoxy and benefit from it)
- I am quite aware that one can't approach Orthodoxy like a buffet, from your point of view: it is all or nothing; so even if you convinced me of your view of bishops, it would be insufficient without convincing me also of all the accretions you have added to the Faith (or we have removed from the Faith), like prayer to the saints, prayer for the dead, priestly robes, seven sacraments and so on: one thing leads to another, and we have probably explored them all over the months
-I do not really believe that it would edify either you or me (or others who read the posts) to wrangle over the function of bishops in the period, say 30-160 AD.
-I suspect we have all studied this matter fairly thoroughly already at some time, for our own conviction, and come to the understanding we have of scripture (or Tradition)
- If I really took the large chunks of time to exegete each use of the range of words and concepts under discussion, and still disagreed with you, some of you would only dub me my own pope. If I think, I remain a Baptist but am considered suipapal, and if I don't think I can't give thought to your position. What would have happened to cogito ergo sum?
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« Reply #117 on: March 02, 2010, 03:09:01 PM »

- I think all we would end up doing is each of us would become more entrenched in his own position, because by writing it all down carefully we would convince ourselves more strongly
If so that really puts the damper on any discussion. If all we are doing is fortifying our own positions, why are we wasting our time on this forum?
Quote
- to do it properly would entail discussing every instance of all the related words, which would consume a huge amount of time, and we all have other commitments
Of course, we could all do Ph.d dissertations on it, but as you say, it would take time. But a normal discussion, using common resources at our disposal would surely not be that onerous. We have of course kindly provided you with evidence already.
Quote
- I'm fairly sure neither of us would convince the other, for it must be possible to hold either position with integrity and seriousness, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Baptists and so many Orthodox in the world, all intelligent, thinking, and theologically alert
See answer above. If all discussion is futile, why bother? Also it may be cynical of me but I've observed that people can have integrity and all those other attributes, and still be mistaken, or uninformed on a particular subject.
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- although the function of bishops is important to you Orthodox
The point of it, dear david, is not that the office of Bishop is important to the Orthodox, although it is, the point is that it was important to the early Christians, as we have shown you from Scripture and history. So if it is not an important concern to the Baptists, you should be able quite easily to show us why, and how the Baptists decided to change it.
Quote
- I am quite aware that one can't approach Orthodoxy like a buffet, from your point of view: it is all or nothing; so even if you convinced me of your view of bishops, it would be insufficient without convincing me also of all the accretions you have added to the Faith (or we have removed from the Faith), like prayer to the saints, prayer for the dead, priestly robes, seven sacraments and so on: one thing leads to another,
You are exactly right, and I absolutely agree with you. If you were to accept one part of all this as Scriptural and an integral part of the Christian faith, as revealed by history and the early Fathers, you would have some serious decisions to make. Because if the Bishops are true then all the rest of it is also.
Quote
-I do not really believe that it would edify either you or me (or others who read the posts) to wrangle over the function of bishops in the period, say 30-160 AD.
I disagree with your characterization of the discussion as wrangling, but as to the edification of such a discussion, see answer above.
Quote
-I suspect we have all studied this matter fairly thoroughly already at some time, for our own conviction, and come to the understanding we have of scripture (or Tradition)
Then it wouldn't really be so time-consuming to discuss it, since we've already done much of the heavy lifting?
Quote
some of you would only dub me my own pope. If I think, I remain a Baptist but am considered suipapal, and if I don't think I can't give thought to your position. What would have happened to cogito ergo sum?
I got lost somewhere in that sentence but if you don't think, how can you "sum"? And anyway, don't be silly, we already think that you're your own pope! Wink
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« Reply #118 on: March 02, 2010, 03:17:11 PM »

Quote from: FatherGiryus link=topic=25815.msg413094#msg413094
... what I said ought not to be taken as some sort of 'Orthodox Triumphalism' at a personal level, as in 'I am right and you are wrong.'  It is, rather, that the Church is right and we (all humanity) are wrong.

The Tradition is not something that I chose, but I believe I was led to and forced to accept based on the overwhelming evidence presented to me that caused me, as a convert, to repent.  It has been difficult to accept, and the burden of obedience has been a cause for me, in my own weakness, to complain bitterly over its relatively light load.  I have complained against the hierarchy and the clergy, and even disobeyed at times with a feeling of supreme self-righteousness.  I have also had to repent of all this because, in the end, I am wrong and God is right.


Thank you again, Father.
This being Lent, I want to assure you, and David also, that I am not the cheerleader for some sort of Orthodox triumphalism.
I was probably one of the most reluctant converts in the history of the Church. I was dragged kicking and screaming - or rather, more accurately: pouting, whining and complaining. I did not want to become Orthodox - it was too difficult, too alien, and I looked for every reason and loophole I could find. In the end, trapped like a rat, by the "inexorableness" of Holy Tradition, I surrendered.
And I thank God every day for it.
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« Reply #119 on: March 02, 2010, 03:24:43 PM »

Quote from: FatherGiryus link=topic=25815.msg413094#msg413094
... what I said ought not to be taken as some sort of 'Orthodox Triumphalism' at a personal level, as in 'I am right and you are wrong.'  It is, rather, that the Church is right and we (all humanity) are wrong.

The Tradition is not something that I chose, but I believe I was led to and forced to accept based on the overwhelming evidence presented to me that caused me, as a convert, to repent.  It has been difficult to accept, and the burden of obedience has been a cause for me, in my own weakness, to complain bitterly over its relatively light load.  I have complained against the hierarchy and the clergy, and even disobeyed at times with a feeling of supreme self-righteousness.  I have also had to repent of all this because, in the end, I am wrong and God is right.


Thank you again, Father.
This being Lent, I want to assure you, and David also, that I am not the cheerleader for some sort of Orthodox triumphalism.
I was probably one of the most reluctant converts in the history of the Church. I was dragged kicking and screaming - or rather, more accurately: pouting, whining and complaining. I did not want to become Orthodox - it was too difficult, too alien, and I looked for every reason and loophole I could find. In the end, trapped like a rat, by the "inexorableness" of Holy Tradition, I surrendered.
And I thank God every day for it.
Nearly within a year of my reception, when in an Orthodox Church in Egypt, when someone pointed to the icon of the Theotokos and referred to her as "Our Mother" I shot out "NOT my mother." Shocked
And I burned icons. Shocked Shocked Shocked
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« Reply #120 on: March 02, 2010, 03:40:27 PM »

all I'm asking for: present your evidence,

Katherine, honey (to use your kind phrase  Wink), I have been trying to say gently and courteously that I feel disinclined to undertake this, and that for a number of reasons:

In this case, let me ask you a few questions, David.

1.  What's the point?  What's the point of being here and discussing anything with us at all, if you aren't going to finish the conversation and bail out every time you run out of answers?  Forgive me if that sounds harsh, I'm sure you would know by my tone of voice (if you could hear it) that I'm not trying to be harsh.  If you truly want to understand what it is that we Orthodox believe and why we believe it, then that mandates discussion.  We can't understand each other via osmosis, unfortunately (wouldn't that make things easier!).  And to understand what we believe, you must also understand why we DON'T believe what you believe, and we must try to understand what you believe in order to give you a response (basically, we have to have a discussion).  You cannot on the one hand say you desire to be edified and desire to understand and on the other hand cut us off when you decide you have no more answers and have heard enough.  It's disingenuous. 

So, my other couple of questions will go back to the topic at hand, and I pray you will respond.

2. In response to your last post directed at me, where you stated that it's hard to prove the absence of something... My question is, if you can't show any evidence of this "absence," why do you yourself believe it?  Simply because (in your opinion) it's not plain in the NT?  In other words, what causes you, when presented with the overwhelming evidence from the early church and early church fathers, to continue to believe something you have no evidence of?

3. Regarding the question of bishops in every community, have you considered that in NT times, before the legalization of Christianity, during the time when Christians were persecuted, that the reason there was one bishop per community was because there was only ONE COMMUNITY per geographic area? 

So I think, then, that what really needs to be discussed is what constitutes a community.  As Protestants, your churches are separate-- you have separate beliefs (though some may be in common-- the important ones, you say), are not tied to one another, often not even knowing each other.  In Orthodoxy, though we may be in separate buildings (with separate parish leadership-- parish council and priests, etc), we are all one community.  For instance, in Atlanta, the clergy from all parishes in all jurisdictions (ROCOR, OCA, Greek, Antiochian, etc) are all members of one brotherhood, who bring the parishes together often to worship.  There are many people who are members of more than one parish (even pledging stewardship in multiple parishes).  There are lots of people who float freely from parish to parish (and in different jurisdictions, no less).  We do many, many activities and services together as one active community, who, though spread out geographically in the city, are united COMPLETELY by beliefs and consider ourselves to truly be a family.


Honestly, it seems to me that, time after time, when I have these types of conversations with Protestants like your good self (and often happens here on the forum), they always back out of these discussions because they run out of answers.  They find themselves backed into a corner out of which they cannot escape, and are forced to stop the conversation because if they continue, it will become quite clear to everyone involved (including themselves) that they have nothing more to stand on than their own opinion, which, once proven wrong, will force them to concede.  And once one point is conceded, their belief system becomes a house of cards (to borrow a phrase from Katherine) which will topple quickly.  Thus, knowing that they have nowhere to go and seeing what lies in the future should they have to concede that we Orthodox actually know what we're talking about, they practice, as has been stated several times on this thread, cognitive dissonance.

Forgive me if I have offended you.  As always, it is never my intent.
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« Reply #121 on: March 02, 2010, 03:59:17 PM »

- I think all we would end up doing is each of us would become more entrenched in his own position, because by writing it all down carefully we would convince ourselves more strongly
If so that really puts the damper on any discussion. If all we are doing is fortifying our own positions, why are we wasting our time on this forum?
Quote
- to do it properly would entail discussing every instance of all the related words, which would consume a huge amount of time, and we all have other commitments
Of course, we could all do Ph.d dissertations on it, but as you say, it would take time. But a normal discussion, using common resources at our disposal would surely not be that onerous. We have of course kindly provided you with evidence already.
Quote
- I'm fairly sure neither of us would convince the other, for it must be possible to hold either position with integrity and seriousness, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Baptists and so many Orthodox in the world, all intelligent, thinking, and theologically alert
See answer above. If all discussion is futile, why bother? Also it may be cynical of me but I've observed that people can have integrity and all those other attributes, and still be mistaken, or uninformed on a particular subject.
Quote
- although the function of bishops is important to you Orthodox
The point of it, dear david, is not that the office of Bishop is important to the Orthodox, although it is, the point is that it was important to the early Christians, as we have shown you from Scripture and history. So if it is not an important concern to the Baptists, you should be able quite easily to show us why, and how the Baptists decided to change it.

Yes, since Sola Scriptura is one of the 5 solas Baptists accept with other Protestants in that nonexistent Tradition of theirs, it would present an onus of why Scriptura devotes a a fair amount of description on the office of bishop to shift out candidates for the office.  In fact, it might be the most explicitly detailed office in the whole of Scripture.


Quote
Quote
- I am quite aware that one can't approach Orthodoxy like a buffet, from your point of view: it is all or nothing; so even if you convinced me of your view of bishops, it would be insufficient without convincing me also of all the accretions you have added to the Faith (or we have removed from the Faith), like prayer to the saints, prayer for the dead, priestly robes, seven sacraments and so on: one thing leads to another,
You are exactly right, and I absolutely agree with you. If you were to accept one part of all this as Scriptural and an integral part of the Christian faith, as revealed by history and the early Fathers, you would have some serious decisions to make. Because if the Bishops are true then all the rest of it is also.
Quote
-I do not really believe that it would edify either you or me (or others who read the posts) to wrangle over the function of bishops in the period, say 30-160 AD.
I disagree with your characterization of the discussion as wrangling, but as to the edification of such a discussion, see answer above.

I don't know about the period of wrangling, as we are agree (I believe, with St. (I) Peter 2:25) that Christ was the only Bishop in 30, and after 95 the "second century definition" was in place.  That only leaves 65 or less years, during the entire period of which an Apostle still lived, and over half of it the majority of the Apostles were still alive, and consequently their successors did't come to the fore. But as Titus (1:5) (and as St. Clement (42)) tell us, the Apostles had made provision for their departure in the bishops. But that may start the wrangling, which really only covers 30 years or so. c. 65-95.
Quote
Quote
-I suspect we have all studied this matter fairly thoroughly already at some time, for our own conviction, and come to the understanding we have of scripture (or Tradition)
Then it wouldn't really be so time-consuming to discuss it, since we've already done much of the heavy lifting?
Quote
some of you would only dub me my own pope. If I think, I remain a Baptist but am considered suipapal, and if I don't think I can't give thought to your position. What would have happened to cogito ergo sum?
I got lost somewhere in that sentence but if you don't think, how can you "sum"? And anyway, don't be silly, we already think that you're your own pope! Wink
Perhaps David, you can direct us to an authority (e.g. a biblical commentator, etc.) that articulates/substantiates your position. Or do you claim you alone hold it?
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« Reply #122 on: March 02, 2010, 04:03:23 PM »

 

This response from david was so fascinating I can't resist analyzing it bit by bit...

David:  I think all we would end up doing is each of us would become more entrenched in his own position, because by writing it all down carefully we would convince ourselves more strongly

Me: that isn't necessarily a bad thing... unless your position is flawed.

David: to do it properly would entail discussing every instance of all the related words, which would consume a huge amount of time, and we all have other commitments

Me: this implies then, that we should not have had this discussion to begin with, which means that virtually all discussion here is worthless.

David: I'm fairly sure neither of us would convince the other, for it must be possible to hold either position with integrity and seriousness, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Baptists and so many Orthodox in the world, all intelligent, thinking, and theologically alert

Me: well, I'm not certain most people in the world hold much of anything with 'integrity and seriousness' due to the after-effects of the fall.   With this argument, we ought not preach the Gospel at all since most of the world is not Christian and likely will never convert by human means.

David: although the function of bishops is important to you Orthodox, to us it is not an important concern, and doesn't really engage my cafeteria mentality (that is, the desire to learn what I can of the Lord from the riches of Orthodoxy and benefit from it)

Me: is the 'cafeteria' mentality found in Scripture?

David: I am quite aware that one can't approach Orthodoxy like a buffet, from your point of view: it is all or nothing; so even if you convinced me of your view of bishops, it would be insufficient without convincing me also of all the accretions you have added to the Faith (or we have removed from the Faith), like prayer to the saints, prayer for the dead, priestly robes, seven sacraments and so on: one thing leads to another, and we have probably explored them all over the months

Me: we can't convince you of anything you don't want to be convinced of.  The real question is whether you are comfortable where you are.  If you are, no argument is sufficient, because you can set the standards so high that no one, not even God Himself, can convince you otherwise.  What is more important for me is to help other readers who are hungry to see what you are turning down and why.

David: I do not really believe that it would edify either you or me (or others who read the posts) to wrangle over the function of bishops in the period, say 30-160 AD.

Me: for the sake of inquirers, I think this is fabulous!

David: I suspect we have all studied this matter fairly thoroughly already at some time, for our own conviction, and come to the understanding we have of scripture (or Tradition)

Me: I think there is always room to learn and grow.  After all, the Divine is eternal, so our learning and changing should also be eternal.

David: If I really took the large chunks of time to exegete each use of the range of words and concepts under discussion, and still disagreed with you, some of you would only dub me my own pope. If I think, I remain a Baptist but am considered suipapal, and if I don't think I can't give thought to your position. What would have happened to cogito ergo sum?

Me: 'Cognito ergo sum' certainly isn't a Christian concept.  Thinking is pointless if it based on false premises, such as debating the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin or the relative flatness of a flat earth.  You can think all you want, but if your thoughts are based on false information then all conclusions are likely to be equally false.

The measure of 'papalness' (as you are using it) has to do with the authority to interpret Scripture and doctrine.  For you it is a personal choice.  For us, it is a choice to submit to the authority of the Church based upon its witness.  We see evidence for the authority not only in the reasoning of the Church's teachings, but in the witness borne in miracles and, especially, those lives who have been transformed through God's grace obtained while in obedience to the Church.

I don't think anyone here thinks you ought not think, but they do question what you think about.  If you are thinking about how to preserve your position, then it is different than asking questions because you are looking for knowledge that may lead you to change your opinions.

In the end, there is still a problem regarding the standards of evidence.  The Church stands on more than academic exegesis, but rather such exegesis in light of the common experience of the Church.  By this, I mean you can come up with an interpretation that meets the criteria of reason, but when applied destroys the souls of those who accept it.  The Church has always held that mere exegesis alone without proof in experience is insufficient and leads to heresy.  Human intellect is not a sufficient means for determining the truth because God is Truth and our minds cannot fully grasp His Mysteries.

Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience, because any opportunity to review these basics helps me keep 'in shape' if you know what I mean.  I appreciate the exchanges!
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« Reply #123 on: March 02, 2010, 04:10:21 PM »

Hope everything is going well in Atlanta.
all I'm asking for: present your evidence,

Katherine, honey (to use your kind phrase  Wink), I have been trying to say gently and courteously that I feel disinclined to undertake this, and that for a number of reasons:

In this case, let me ask you a few questions, David.

1.  What's the point?  What's the point of being here and discussing anything with us at all, if you aren't going to finish the conversation and bail out every time you run out of answers?  Forgive me if that sounds harsh, I'm sure you would know by my tone of voice (if you could hear it) that I'm not trying to be harsh.  If you truly want to understand what it is that we Orthodox believe and why we believe it, then that mandates discussion.  We can't understand each other via osmosis, unfortunately (wouldn't that make things easier!).  And to understand what we believe, you must also understand why we DON'T believe what you believe, and we must try to understand what you believe in order to give you a response (basically, we have to have a discussion).  You cannot on the one hand say you desire to be edified and desire to understand and on the other hand cut us off when you decide you have no more answers and have heard enough.  It's disingenuous. 

I'm still a little uneasy in that I think I a formulating what David thinks a bishop is, then what he says a bishop (or rather "overseer") is.   I don't believe he has told us the source of the overseer's authority, for instance.  At best I can figure, the overseer is a organizational functionary for the local congregation (or is it city:I'm not sure).

Quote
So, my other couple of questions will go back to the topic at hand, and I pray you will respond.

2. In response to your last post directed at me, where you stated that it's hard to prove the absence of something... My question is, if you can't show any evidence of this "absence," why do you yourself believe it?  Simply because (in your opinion) it's not plain in the NT?  In other words, what causes you, when presented with the overwhelming evidence from the early church and early church fathers, to continue to believe something you have no evidence of?
Particlarly as the Apsotolic Fathers, upon whom we ALL depend on for the NT, state something was there?


Quote
3. Regarding the question of bishops in every community, have you considered that in NT times, before the legalization of Christianity, during the time when Christians were persecuted, that the reason there was one bishop per community was because there was only ONE COMMUNITY per geographic area? 

So I think, then, that what really needs to be discussed is what constitutes a community.  As Protestants, your churches are separate-- you have separate beliefs (though some may be in common-- the important ones, you say), are not tied to one another, often not even knowing each other.  In Orthodoxy, though we may be in separate buildings (with separate parish leadership-- parish council and priests, etc), we are all one community.  For instance, in Atlanta, the clergy from all parishes in all jurisdictions (ROCOR, OCA, Greek, Antiochian, etc) are all members of one brotherhood, who bring the parishes together often to worship.  There are many people who are members of more than one parish (even pledging stewardship in multiple parishes).  There are lots of people who float freely from parish to parish (and in different jurisdictions, no less).  We do many, many activities and services together as one active community, who, though spread out geographically in the city, are united COMPLETELY by beliefs and consider ourselves to truly be a family.
I go to the GOARCH parishes all the time. Shocked And had communion in the Phanar (where my baptismal cross was blessed). Shocked Shocked Shocked

Quote
Honestly, it seems to me that, time after time, when I have these types of conversations with Protestants like your good self (and often happens here on the forum), they always back out of these discussions because they run out of answers.  They find themselves backed into a corner out of which they cannot escape, and are forced to stop the conversation because if they continue, it will become quite clear to everyone involved (including themselves) that they have nothing more to stand on than their own opinion, which, once proven wrong, will force them to concede.  And once one point is conceded, their belief system becomes a house of cards (to borrow a phrase from Katherine) which will topple quickly.  Thus, knowing that they have nowhere to go and seeing what lies in the future should they have to concede that we Orthodox actually know what we're talking about, they practice, as has been stated several times on this thread, cognitive dissonance.

Forgive me if I have offended you.  As always, it is never my intent.
Nor I.  I just don't have Greekchef's irenic mouth (or keyboard).
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« Reply #124 on: March 02, 2010, 04:15:01 PM »

 

This response from david was so fascinating I can't resist analyzing it bit by bit...

David:  I think all we would end up doing is each of us would become more entrenched in his own position, because by writing it all down carefully we would convince ourselves more strongly

Me: that isn't necessarily a bad thing... unless your position is flawed.

David: to do it properly would entail discussing every instance of all the related words, which would consume a huge amount of time, and we all have other commitments

Me: this implies then, that we should not have had this discussion to begin with, which means that virtually all discussion here is worthless.

David: I'm fairly sure neither of us would convince the other, for it must be possible to hold either position with integrity and seriousness, otherwise there wouldn't be so many Baptists and so many Orthodox in the world, all intelligent, thinking, and theologically alert

Me: well, I'm not certain most people in the world hold much of anything with 'integrity and seriousness' due to the after-effects of the fall.   With this argument, we ought not preach the Gospel at all since most of the world is not Christian and likely will never convert by human means.

David: although the function of bishops is important to you Orthodox, to us it is not an important concern, and doesn't really engage my cafeteria mentality (that is, the desire to learn what I can of the Lord from the riches of Orthodoxy and benefit from it)

Me: is the 'cafeteria' mentality found in Scripture?

David: I am quite aware that one can't approach Orthodoxy like a buffet, from your point of view: it is all or nothing; so even if you convinced me of your view of bishops, it would be insufficient without convincing me also of all the accretions you have added to the Faith (or we have removed from the Faith), like prayer to the saints, prayer for the dead, priestly robes, seven sacraments and so on: one thing leads to another, and we have probably explored them all over the months

Me: we can't convince you of anything you don't want to be convinced of.  The real question is whether you are comfortable where you are.  If you are, no argument is sufficient, because you can set the standards so high that no one, not even God Himself, can convince you otherwise.  What is more important for me is to help other readers who are hungry to see what you are turning down and why.

David: I do not really believe that it would edify either you or me (or others who read the posts) to wrangle over the function of bishops in the period, say 30-160 AD.

Me: for the sake of inquirers, I think this is fabulous!

David: I suspect we have all studied this matter fairly thoroughly already at some time, for our own conviction, and come to the understanding we have of scripture (or Tradition)

Me: I think there is always room to learn and grow.  After all, the Divine is eternal, so our learning and changing should also be eternal.

David: If I really took the large chunks of time to exegete each use of the range of words and concepts under discussion, and still disagreed with you, some of you would only dub me my own pope. If I think, I remain a Baptist but am considered suipapal, and if I don't think I can't give thought to your position. What would have happened to cogito ergo sum?

Me: 'Cognito ergo sum' certainly isn't a Christian concept.  Thinking is pointless if it based on false premises, such as debating the number of angels that can fit on the head of a pin or the relative flatness of a flat earth.  You can think all you want, but if your thoughts are based on false information then all conclusions are likely to be equally false.

The measure of 'papalness' (as you are using it) has to do with the authority to interpret Scripture and doctrine.  For you it is a personal choice.  For us, it is a choice to submit to the authority of the Church based upon its witness.  We see evidence for the authority not only in the reasoning of the Church's teachings, but in the witness borne in miracles and, especially, those lives who have been transformed through God's grace obtained while in obedience to the Church.

I don't think anyone here thinks you ought not think, but they do question what you think about.  If you are thinking about how to preserve your position, then it is different than asking questions because you are looking for knowledge that may lead you to change your opinions.

In the end, there is still a problem regarding the standards of evidence.  The Church stands on more than academic exegesis, but rather such exegesis in light of the common experience of the Church.  By this, I mean you can come up with an interpretation that meets the criteria of reason, but when applied destroys the souls of those who accept it.  The Church has always held that mere exegesis alone without proof in experience is insufficient and leads to heresy.  Human intellect is not a sufficient means for determining the truth because God is Truth and our minds cannot fully grasp His Mysteries.

Anyway, I've thoroughly enjoyed the experience, because any opportunity to review these basics helps me keep 'in shape' if you know what I mean.  I appreciate the exchanges!

I was just telling my son you sharpen knives on stones, not on marshmallows.

Excellent post Father, I subscribe totally.
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« Reply #125 on: March 02, 2010, 04:32:04 PM »

I was just telling my son you sharpen knives on stones, not on marshmallows.


Wow!  I love that!

I will add this: David is presenting what is a very serious challenge in today's culture: disagreement while remaining polite, especially when such disagreement is over the 'it-is-all-the-same' mentality.

Our people are often challenged by those pick-and-choose folks asking us not to 'pass judgment' or whatnot based on this idea that we can all go about constructing our own 'realities' by choosing what to believe.

I challenge anyone to apply this same thinking about gravity and choose not to believe in it while jumping out of an airplane! (Disclaimer: this is an attempt at humor.  Please do not jump out of an airplane.  It is unsafe).

Though people will not gamble with opinions regarding gravity, they will gamble with their eternal life!  It is absolutely odd, but common behavior.

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« Reply #126 on: March 02, 2010, 05:19:18 PM »

Quote from: FatherGiryus link=topic=25815.msg413167#msg413167
Our people are often challenged by those pick-and-choose folks asking us not to 'pass judgment' or whatnot based on this idea that we can all go about constructing our own 'realities' by choosing what to believe.

I challenge anyone to apply this same thinking about gravity and choose not to believe in it while jumping out of an airplane! (Disclaimer: this is an attempt at humor.  Please do not jump out of an airplane.  It is unsafe).

Though people will not gamble with opinions regarding gravity, they will gamble with their eternal life!  It is absolutely odd, but common behavior.


A friend of mine refers to this kind of attitude (gambling with their eternal life) as a sort of functional atheism (or perhaps agnosticism) on the part of professed Christians. We all do it to one extent or another, it seems, so I'm not throwing stones. We often act as if we don't really believe what we say we believe, or if our beliefs become inconvenient or burdensome.
Our priest gave a sermon recently on how we often seem to treat God like a pet - we love Him and He enriches our lives but we don't put Him at the center. He's just not that important to us.
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« Reply #127 on: March 02, 2010, 06:52:56 PM »



I challenge anyone to apply this same thinking about gravity and choose not to believe in it while jumping out of an airplane! (Disclaimer: this is an attempt at humor.  Please do not jump out of an airplane.  It is unsafe).

Though people will not gamble with opinions regarding gravity, they will gamble with their eternal life!  It is absolutely odd, but common behavior.

[/font][/size]

I call it living in backwards land. Smiley
KatherineofDixie will tell you, I often say to her, "what are we, living in backwards land??!!!"

On another note...
Father, I just want to say that I absolutely love reading your posts.  They are so refreshing and edifying!  I've been on this forum for awhile now, and I think your posts are some of the most penetrating, to-the-point-but-said-with-love-and-humility posts that I've ever read!  You give us so much "meat," so to speak, to chew on... so much to think about.  I thank you for them, they often brighten my day.

I pray you have a blessed Lenten journey, Father!
In Christ,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #128 on: March 03, 2010, 12:01:48 AM »

It might have something to do with the immediate and evident negative reinforcement for trying to violate the law of gravity...unless we are speaking more metaphorically for the stringent rules regarding deep sobriety of expression in certain venues.
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« Reply #129 on: March 03, 2010, 12:25:48 AM »

I call it living in backwards land. Smiley
KatherineofDixie will tell you, I often say to her, "what are we, living in backwards land??!!!"

On another note...
Father, I just want to say that I absolutely love reading your posts.  They are so refreshing and edifying!  I've been on this forum for awhile now, and I think your posts are some of the most penetrating, to-the-point-but-said-with-love-and-humility posts that I've ever read!  You give us so much "meat," so to speak, to chew on... so much to think about.  I thank you for them, they often brighten my day.

I pray you have a blessed Lenten journey, Father!
In Christ,
Presbytera Mari

Well, Presvytera, thank you very much for your kind words.

Having been involved with several other forums, I found this one the easiest one in terms of the temptation to remain Christian while dialoging with others.

Otherwise, I have to remind myself to be kind just in case I say something remarkably stupid and need to beg everyone's pardon for my keyboard-in-mouth syndrome.  It is easier to ask forgiveness when you have a track record of being kind than if you have the reputation of being an insufferable know-it-all.  Cheesy

Anyway, I wish you a fruitful Lent.  Please pray that I don't blow a vocal chord with my Tuvan throat singing lessons.  Ain't nuthin better than a undertone ison! Wink

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« Reply #130 on: March 03, 2010, 05:11:50 AM »

that really puts the damper on any discussion...why are we wasting our time on this forum?

No it doesn't, and no we aren't. There are discussions which are profitable, because one learns, comes to a better understanding of and respect for the other, sometimes gains new insights, sometimes is even persuaded and changes one's opinion.

There are other discussions - and you can perhaps imagine a Fundamentalist and a Jehovah's Witness engaging in such - which become little more than "My opinion's right": "No it isn't, mine is!" each clobbering the other with Bible verses, and neither advancing in grace, character or understanding thereby. (I am not implying that JWs are in a state of grace.) The motive of being enriched by learning from the other is absent, and is replaced by the drive to prove one's own opinion. On this matter, I think we are in danger of tipping over into the second. On other matters I for one have learnt a lot, and have even purloined some delicacies from your buffet.

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« Reply #131 on: March 03, 2010, 05:19:54 AM »

if the Bishops are true then all the rest of it is also.

That is perhaps the heart of the matter. For you, it's all or nothing.

Quote
we already think that you're your own pope! Wink

You take a new name when you become pope. Shall I be called Pope Wulfstan I, after St Wulfstan of Worcester, perhaps my favourite bishop and (it would appear from his biographies) a saintly servant of our Lord, whose example we might all follow?

Now I must hasten away to a meeting (Baptist, of course!), but I shall read the remaining posts at some time, with interest. Meanwhile, valete in domino, as perhaps Wulfstan would have said.
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« Reply #132 on: March 03, 2010, 10:44:25 AM »

that really puts the damper on any discussion...why are we wasting our time on this forum?

No it doesn't, and no we aren't. There are discussions which are profitable, because one learns, comes to a better understanding of and respect for the other, sometimes gains new insights, sometimes is even persuaded and changes one's opinion.

There are other discussions - and you can perhaps imagine a Fundamentalist and a Jehovah's Witness engaging in such - which become little more than "My opinion's right": "No it isn't, mine is!" each clobbering the other with Bible verses, and neither advancing in grace, character or understanding thereby. (I am not implying that JWs are in a state of grace.) The motive of being enriched by learning from the other is absent, and is replaced by the drive to prove one's own opinion. On this matter, I think we are in danger of tipping over into the second. On other matters I for one have learnt a lot, and have even purloined some delicacies from your buffet.
Wulfstan, honey, I say this with all the Christian love I can muster, (it is Lent, after all, and I am trying! Ok, that could be taken two ways, but you know what I mean!) but this is such a load. You can only guess at motive on any of our parts. I think that this thread has been remarkable for its civility, considering other fora.
Therefore I must sadly conclude that you have no real interest in any other pov or evidence that might present a challenge to your current opinions or beliefs.
Too bad, because I have considered you a resource to explain some of the puzzling aspects of evangelical beliefs, i.e. "Where did they get that?" and I really believe that you are an intelligent, thoughtful and sincere person and Christian, albeit a somewhat disingenuous one.
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« Reply #133 on: March 03, 2010, 10:52:52 AM »

that really puts the damper on any discussion...why are we wasting our time on this forum?

No it doesn't, and no we aren't. There are discussions which are profitable, because one learns, comes to a better understanding of and respect for the other, sometimes gains new insights, sometimes is even persuaded and changes one's opinion.

There are other discussions - and you can perhaps imagine a Fundamentalist and a Jehovah's Witness engaging in such - which become little more than "My opinion's right": "No it isn't, mine is!" each clobbering the other with Bible verses, and neither advancing in grace, character or understanding thereby. (I am not implying that JWs are in a state of grace.) The motive of being enriched by learning from the other is absent, and is replaced by the drive to prove one's own opinion. On this matter, I think we are in danger of tipping over into the second. On other matters I for one have learnt a lot, and have even purloined some delicacies from your buffet.
Wulfstan, honey, I say this with all the Christian love I can muster, (it is Lent, after all, and I am trying! Ok, that could be taken two ways, but you know what I mean!) but this is such a load. You can only guess at motive on any of our parts. I think that this thread has been remarkable for its civility, considering other fora.
Therefore I must sadly conclude that you have no real interest in any other pov or evidence that might present a challenge to your current opinions or beliefs.
Too bad, because I have considered you a resource to explain some of the puzzling aspects of evangelical beliefs, i.e. "Where did they get that?" and I really believe that you are an intelligent, thoughtful and sincere person and Christian, albeit a somewhat disingenuous one.
Its amazing that you have been able to determine the motives of his heart forum and simply becuase he doesn't believe what you believe.   Roll Eyes
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« Reply #134 on: March 03, 2010, 10:57:19 AM »

that really puts the damper on any discussion...why are we wasting our time on this forum?

No it doesn't, and no we aren't. There are discussions which are profitable, because one learns, comes to a better understanding of and respect for the other, sometimes gains new insights, sometimes is even persuaded and changes one's opinion.

There are other discussions - and you can perhaps imagine a Fundamentalist and a Jehovah's Witness engaging in such - which become little more than "My opinion's right": "No it isn't, mine is!" each clobbering the other with Bible verses, and neither advancing in grace, character or understanding thereby. (I am not implying that JWs are in a state of grace.) The motive of being enriched by learning from the other is absent, and is replaced by the drive to prove one's own opinion. On this matter, I think we are in danger of tipping over into the second. On other matters I for one have learnt a lot, and have even purloined some delicacies from your buffet.
Wulfstan, honey, I say this with all the Christian love I can muster, (it is Lent, after all, and I am trying! Ok, that could be taken two ways, but you know what I mean!) but this is such a load. You can only guess at motive on any of our parts. I think that this thread has been remarkable for its civility, considering other fora.
Therefore I must sadly conclude that you have no real interest in any other pov or evidence that might present a challenge to your current opinions or beliefs.
Too bad, because I have considered you a resource to explain some of the puzzling aspects of evangelical beliefs, i.e. "Where did they get that?" and I really believe that you are an intelligent, thoughtful and sincere person and Christian, albeit a somewhat disingenuous one.
Its amazing that you have been able to determine the motives of his heart forum and simply becuase he doesn't believe what you believe.   Roll Eyes
No, because he hasn't spelled out what he believes and why, just unsubstantiated claims of why he doesn't believe what we believe.
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                           and both come out of your mouth
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