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Author Topic: The Authority of Scripture  (Read 8594 times) Average Rating: 0
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katherineofdixie
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« on: February 05, 2010, 10:55:21 AM »

This thread split from the following discussion:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19524.0.html

--YtterbiumAnalyst


Probably because we typically do not recognize the authority of your church, or of any similar festival based church models. We do recognize the authority of Scripture...

This kind of thinking has always puzzled me, so perhaps cleopas or david can explain why you recognize the authority of Scripture, but not the authority of the Church that the Scripture came from?

(or perhaps that needs its own thread?)
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2010, 11:08:54 AM »

explain why you recognize the authority of Scripture, but not the authority of the Church that the Scripture came from?

My own view (being my own pope, someone will comment sotto voce) is that the Lord led his people over a long, careful and steady process to recognise which books were inspired in the unique way that scripture is. He gave them a oneness of mind. It was a matter of the people of God recognising the nature and authority of scripture, not conferring authority upon scripture. This doesn't mean that we believe that every decision that the Church made until, say, 1054, and that the Orthodox branch made after that (trunk, someone replies, not branch), was subject to the same degree of guidance and success. It is a non sequitur to say that, because the Church was right over a ca 350 year period in recognising scripture, it was right in everything else too.

As regards the OT and Apocrypha, we merely follow the Hebrew rather than the Greek canon, which is a different matter.

(Any ideas about my previous post?  Sad)
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2010, 11:48:02 AM »

explain why you recognize the authority of Scripture, but not the authority of the Church that the Scripture came from?

...the Lord led his people over a long, careful and steady process to recognise which books were inspired in the unique way that scripture is. He gave them a oneness of mind. It was a matter of the people of God recognising the nature and authority of scripture, not conferring authority upon scripture. This doesn't mean that we believe that every decision that the Church made until, say, 1054, and that the Orthodox branch made after that (trunk, someone replies, not branch), was subject to the same degree of guidance and success. It is a non sequitur to say that, because the Church was right over a ca 350 year period in recognising scripture, it was right in everything else too.
Okay, so the Church got Scripture right, but got everything else wrong? Using what criteria? The Scripture that the Church got right?

Quote
(Any ideas about my previous post?  Sad)
Which one? I have opinions on everything! Grin

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My own view (being my own pope, someone will comment sotto voce)
Don't be silly, david honey, we say it out loud - to your face! Wink
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2010, 11:57:03 AM »

Okay, so the Church got Scripture right, but got everything else wrong?

Of course not - not everything - otherwise you and we wouldn't be in such close agreement on so many matters.

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(Any ideas about my previous post?  Sad)
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Which one? I have opinions on everything! Grin

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(I'd rather have entitled the photo "Dawn over Çamëria", but that might've offended.  Wink )
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2010, 12:34:03 PM »

explain why you recognize the authority of Scripture, but not the authority of the Church that the Scripture came from?

My own view (being my own pope, someone will comment sotto voce) is that the Lord led his people over a long, careful and steady process to recognise which books were inspired in the unique way that scripture is. He gave them a oneness of mind. It was a matter of the people of God recognising the nature and authority of scripture, not conferring authority upon scripture. This doesn't mean that we believe that every decision that the Church made until, say, 1054, and that the Orthodox branch made after that (trunk, someone replies, not branch), was subject to the same degree of guidance and success. It is a non sequitur to say that, because the Church was right over a ca 350 year period in recognising scripture, it was right in everything else too.

As regards the OT and Apocrypha, we merely follow the Hebrew rather than the Greek canon, which is a different matter.
Following the Pharisees, Sadducees, Scribes and Rabbis rather than the Apostles and their successors on such a matter is not "mere."

So, how do judge what is right, as the Church's guidance is pettering it out it seems, and the Holy Spirit evidently does not visit us or stay as long as He did in the olden days?
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2010, 12:48:47 PM »

... and the Holy Spirit evidently does not visit us or stay as long as He did in the olden days?

Of course he does! But he is no longer guiding the church into a oneness of mind on recognising which writings are scripture. That process is complete.

You ask, How do we judge? I fear I've forgotten what we are talking about, for my comment was a reply to a reply to a post by Cleopas, and though I agree with Cleopas's views, his posts are less fresh in my mind than my own. What is it you are asking?
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2010, 02:40:17 PM »

... and the Holy Spirit evidently does not visit us or stay as long as He did in the olden days?

Of course he does! But he is no longer guiding the church into a oneness of mind on recognising which writings are scripture. That process is complete.

You ask, How do we judge? I fear I've forgotten what we are talking about, for my comment was a reply to a reply to a post by Cleopas, and though I agree with Cleopas's views, his posts are less fresh in my mind than my own. What is it you are asking?
How do you know that the Holy Spirit doesn't do that anymore? If either the Catholic or Orthodox Churches are right about claiming to be the true Church, then the Holy Spirit most certainly fulfills the promise to guide the Church into "all truth" and, thus, the Scriptures are right in claiming that the Church is the Pillar and Foundation of Truth.
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2010, 05:15:24 PM »

How do you know that the Holy Spirit doesn't do that anymore?

We are only talking about the completion and closing of the canon. It is interesting to speculate whether any hitherto lost epistle of Paul or another apostle, if discovered and shown to be authentic, would be added to the canon; but I thought we were all agreed in fact that the canon of scripture is complete, and the the Spirit will not now lead the church to add further writings. Do we not all believe that?
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2010, 05:17:20 PM »

How do you know that the Holy Spirit doesn't do that anymore?

We are only talking about the completion and closing of the canon. It is interesting to speculate whether any hitherto lost epistle of Paul or another apostle, if discovered and shown to be authentic, would be added to the canon; but I thought we were all agreed in fact that the canon of scripture is complete, and the the Spirit will not now lead the church to add further writings. Do we not all believe that?
I agree with that insofar as the faith was "Once and for all delivered unto the saints".  However, I would like to ask you when you think the cannon of the scriptures were closed.
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2010, 05:54:05 PM »

See, that's the part that puzzles me - at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error, so that the beliefs/teachings/praxis of historic Christianity could be ignored or dumped outright?
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2010, 04:45:37 AM »

I would like to ask you when you think the cannon of the scriptures were closed.

I suppose the answer would be along these lines: the moment the Apostle John (or whoever wrote last) or his amanuensis laid aside his quill upon completion of the final draft of the final epistle (or Gospel, or Revelation - whichever was the last book to be written). The process of recognising the inspired books, with universally accepted consensus, took some 300 years, but was (I believe) complete by ca 400 AD.
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« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2010, 04:55:35 AM »

at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error...?

Ah! I think I am finally beginning to understand your question. Sorry to be so sluggish, if that is indeed the explanation. The Spirit, of course, has never left the Church, nor ever will - though I believe he can be grieved, quenched and even withdraw himself - for it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from him," and lampstands are sometimes removed.

But we don't believe that the Spirit keeps the institutional church free from all error or sin - though of course God's heart is to bring the Church back when we go astray.

I guess someone will reply with a reference to the gates of hell, but in our view gates have two specific functions, neither of which is preservation of people from error: one is to keep people out, the other to keep them in. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church by keeping hell's captives inside, or keeping the church's evangelism out. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?" to quote one of Wesley's favourite verses. People will always be rescued from hell: hell's gates cannot prevail against the church. But that is different from a concept of keeping the church from all error.

So, at least, I think we would see it. You may not agree, but I hope that gives some clarification to how we, from our perspective, see things. Cleopas may wish to add further insights.
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« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2010, 09:00:13 AM »

at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error...?

Ah! I think I am finally beginning to understand your question. Sorry to be so sluggish, if that is indeed the explanation. The Spirit, of course, has never left the Church, nor ever will - though I believe he can be grieved, quenched and even withdraw himself - for it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from him," and lampstands are sometimes removed.

But we don't believe that the Spirit keeps the institutional church free from all error or sin - though of course God's heart is to bring the Church back when we go astray.

I guess someone will reply with a reference to the gates of hell, but in our view gates have two specific functions, neither of which is preservation of people from error: one is to keep people out, the other to keep them in. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church by keeping hell's captives inside, or keeping the church's evangelism out. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?" to quote one of Wesley's favourite verses. People will always be rescued from hell: hell's gates cannot prevail against the church. But that is different from a concept of keeping the church from all error.

So, at least, I think we would see it. You may not agree, but I hope that gives some clarification to how we, from our perspective, see things. Cleopas may wish to add further insights.
The problem remains though, how do you know that the Spirit was not "grieved" and the Church in error when it decided on the Canon of Scripture in the fifth century? How do you know that the Canon of Scripture the Church finally decided upon was not an error? There had been many heresies in the Church before the Canon of Scripture was finally decided on (eg Arianism which was once the "majority view" in the Church), so the Church, by your criteria, was not free from error when it decided the Canon of Scripture. How then can we know that Nestorianism and Arianism were errors, but the Canon of Scripture is not?
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« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2010, 11:02:45 AM »

how do you know that the Spirit was not "grieved" and the Church in error when it decided on the Canon of Scripture ...?

I'm not quite sure why you are asking, since we all agree (RC, Orth and Prot) that the canon was correctly recognised, defined and closed. Are you asking whether Protestants "know" this from a different source, or on a different basis, from Orthodox? Or are you asking how I personally, DMY, "know"? Or are you asking by what means and on what basis the early church, before there were divisions into RC, Orth and Prot, "knew" or at least decided? Or are you asking  because you wish to be convinced yourself, because as yet you are not sure you know what is scripture, or even whether there be such a thing? Or are you subtly leading me onwards in the hope or expectation I'll say, "I know, because I trust the church," and then ask me why I don't trust "the church" in other matters?

I'll try to answer, but I need to understand the question more clearly first.
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2010, 11:12:44 AM »

I think what he is asking is, how do you know the Spirit was grieved in some areas, but not in others?

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved the Canon, but not icons?

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved our rejection of Arianism, but not our approval of infant baptism?

Tell me, how do you know?
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« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2010, 11:18:43 AM »

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I'm not quite sure why you are asking, since we all agree (RC, Orth and Prot) that the canon was correctly recognised, defined and closed.

No, I'm afraid that this is not so. Smiley Whether you are talking about different Christian groups arguing with each other over certain books, or you are talking about Orthodox theologians arguing amongst themselves, the canon most definitely is not "recognised, defined, and closed".
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« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2010, 12:04:30 PM »

how do you know the Spirit was grieved in some areas, but not in others?

This question is both easy and impossible to answer. On the one hand, we judge truth according to scripture, whilst you judge it by Holy Tradition. That's the easy answer. The question, how we "know" God gave scripture as the canon, or rule, or yardstick, or plumbline of truth, or how you "know" he gave Holy Tradition as the standard of truth, is quite different, and that is the impossible bit. I believe neither can be known in the sense that some mathematical facts can be known. This matter is not susceptible to that kind of objective, external proof, and must remain a matter of faith - though I seem to remember saying this before and being roundly gainsaid by the excellent GreekChef.

Your other, more specific questions, need longer thought. They will go round in the back of my mind for a while, and I'll write again later - probably not today, as folk are coming.
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« Reply #17 on: February 06, 2010, 01:21:45 PM »

at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error...?

Ah! I think I am finally beginning to understand your question. Sorry to be so sluggish, if that is indeed the explanation. The Spirit, of course, has never left the Church, nor ever will - though I believe he can be grieved, quenched and even withdraw himself - for it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from him," and lampstands are sometimes removed.

But we don't believe that the Spirit keeps the institutional church free from all error or sin - though of course God's heart is to bring the Church back when we go astray.

I guess someone will reply with a reference to the gates of hell, but in our view gates have two specific functions, neither of which is preservation of people from error: one is to keep people out, the other to keep them in. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church by keeping hell's captives inside, or keeping the church's evangelism out. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?" to quote one of Wesley's favourite verses. People will always be rescued from hell: hell's gates cannot prevail against the church. But that is different from a concept of keeping the church from all error.

So, at least, I think we would see it. You may not agree, but I hope that gives some clarification to how we, from our perspective, see things. Cleopas may wish to add further insights.
The problem remains though, how do you know that the Spirit was not "grieved" and the Church in error when it decided on the Canon of Scripture in the fifth century? How do you know that the Canon of Scripture the Church finally decided upon was not an error? There had been many heresies in the Church before the Canon of Scripture was finally decided on (eg Arianism which was once the "majority view" in the Church), so the Church, by your criteria, was not free from error when it decided the Canon of Scripture. How then can we know that Nestorianism and Arianism were errors, but the Canon of Scripture is not?
Then there is that Book of Mormon problem that the Protestants have....
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« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2010, 01:56:08 PM »

Then there is that Book of Mormon problem that the Protestants have....
It's interesting that you bring in the Mormons. A couple of weeks ago I had a delightful visit with a pair of Mormon missionaries. At the door, they asked the usual question, "Are you a Christian?" and were somewhat taken aback to hear my response, "Yes, I'm an Orthodox Christian." I could easily make this a long story, but I'll try to stick to the Canon of Scripture issue  Smiley. As part of the friendly sharing, they admitted that other Christians have a hard time understanding how they (Mormons) can have additional Scripture and teachings that are apart from the Bible. I actually sympathized with them and said we Orthodox have the same problem trying to explain "Tradition" to other Christians and are often misunderstood on that point. I was able to explain to them what we Orthodox mean by that term. (Quite frankly, they were far more receptive to that than many Protestants I have met in person and online.) They did admit that they accept the New Testament as inspired and authoritative. Earlier they had told me that they believed the Church became apostate more or less immediately after the death of the Twelve Apostles. So when invited to ask them a question, the one I put to them was, "How do explain your acceptance of the NT if it was authorized by an apostate Church?" They really scrambled for an acceptable answer, and failing to find one, one of them admitted that "there were some real Christians; it was just the institutional Church that was apostate." Now, that brings up a whole lot of other issues. I didn't go there - just a small step was fine with me. It wasn't my desire to argue or to raise issues that would lead to argument. I tried to get them to think about things they were saying. As they prepared to leave, we exchanged phone numbers. They even gave me their personal local number - definitely not a usual practice for them.

Pray for me and for them as I do plan to call them and plan for another visit.

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« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2010, 02:01:02 PM »

how do you know the Spirit was grieved in some areas, but not in others?

This question is both easy and impossible to answer. On the one hand, we judge truth according to scripture, whilst you judge it by Holy Tradition. That's the easy answer. The question, how we "know" God gave scripture as the canon, or rule, or yardstick, or plumbline of truth, or how you "know" he gave Holy Tradition as the standard of truth, is quite different, and that is the impossible bit. I believe neither can be known in the sense that some mathematical facts can be known. This matter is not susceptible to that kind of objective, external proof, and must remain a matter of faith - though I seem to remember saying this before and being roundly gainsaid by the excellent GreekChef.

Your other, more specific questions, need longer thought. They will go round in the back of my mind for a while, and I'll write again later - probably not today, as folk are coming.

This argument doesn't make sense. Holy Scripture is part of Holy Tradition. Holy Tradition is what helped give us Holy Scripture. Holy Tradition has been given to us by the Apostles.

That being said, it seems to me you seem to be that you are picking and choosing what you feel that the Holy Spirit approved, and throw out whatever you don't like. This, my friend, is what we call here a "Cafeteria-style" faith.

Furthermore, you admit that none of this is suspect to an external proof, but I beg to differ. Does not Christ tell us that “...a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. For every tree is known by its own fruit." (Luke 6:43-44)

Would not 2,000 years of history and withstanding of persecution be proof of our fruit? We have remained steadfast and unchanged in our faith, whereas no Protestant group can make the same claim.

We have gone over this before, so I will not beat this point to hard.

The bottom line is that it is not for you to choose what the Holy Spirit accepted or the Holy Spirit grieved over. No man can make that judgment; only God can.

What we CAN however say, is based on the fruit of the Church, we can see that the Holy Spirit has blessed us and found favor in us.
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« Reply #20 on: February 06, 2010, 02:24:54 PM »

Holy Tradition has been given to us by the Apostles.

Believing this is an act of faith. It cannot be either proved or disproved. My point here is neither that the belief is true, nor that it is mistaken, but that it is a step of faith to believe it, and that it cannot be known in the same way that, for example, mathematical formulæ can be known to be right.

Quote
we can see that the Holy Spirit has blessed us and found favor in us.

I have never posted a denial of this.
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« Reply #21 on: February 06, 2010, 04:25:00 PM »

I would like to ask you when you think the cannon of the scriptures were closed.

I suppose the answer would be along these lines: the moment the Apostle John (or whoever wrote last) or his amanuensis laid aside his quill upon completion of the final draft of the final epistle (or Gospel, or Revelation - whichever was the last book to be written). The process of recognising the inspired books, with universally accepted consensus, took some 300 years, but was (I believe) complete by ca 400 AD.

Agreed. It was finished or closed the moment God inspired the last writer with the last book of Scripture. Said books being authoritative by their very nature apart from and not dependent upon an ecclesiastical ruling, though ecclesiastical affirmation helps sort out the errant writings and musings of impostors.
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« Reply #22 on: February 06, 2010, 04:31:46 PM »

at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error...?

Ah! I think I am finally beginning to understand your question. Sorry to be so sluggish, if that is indeed the explanation. The Spirit, of course, has never left the Church, nor ever will - though I believe he can be grieved, quenched and even withdraw himself - for it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from him," and lampstands are sometimes removed.

But we don't believe that the Spirit keeps the institutional church free from all error or sin - though of course God's heart is to bring the Church back when we go astray.

I guess someone will reply with a reference to the gates of hell, but in our view gates have two specific functions, neither of which is preservation of people from error: one is to keep people out, the other to keep them in. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church by keeping hell's captives inside, or keeping the church's evangelism out. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?" to quote one of Wesley's favourite verses. People will always be rescued from hell: hell's gates cannot prevail against the church. But that is different from a concept of keeping the church from all error.

So, at least, I think we would see it. You may not agree, but I hope that gives some clarification to how we, from our perspective, see things. Cleopas may wish to add further insights.

Only that we believe God has provide us with error free doctrine and praxis in the preserved written word of God. We may often fail of that along the way, in one measure or another, but it is settled forever in heaven and preserved pure for us on the earth -- so that the church, though not free from the possibility of error, is free from the possibility of total loss -- God's word preventing as much.
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« Reply #23 on: February 06, 2010, 04:42:40 PM »

I would like to ask you when you think the cannon of the scriptures were closed.

I suppose the answer would be along these lines: the moment the Apostle John (or whoever wrote last) or his amanuensis laid aside his quill upon completion of the final draft of the final epistle (or Gospel, or Revelation - whichever was the last book to be written). The process of recognising the inspired books, with universally accepted consensus, took some 300 years, but was (I believe) complete by ca 400 AD.

Agreed. It was finished or closed the moment God inspired the last writer with the last book of Scripture. Said books being authoritative by their very nature apart from and not dependent upon an ecclesiastical ruling, though ecclesiastical affirmation helps sort out the errant writings and musings of impostors.


Those books don't copy themselves, and someone has to actually read and use them.  Which is getting back to the OP: one of the ways, actually THE way, the books were canonized was they were used by the Church in worship. In fact, most of our manuscripts are in the lectionaries, the selections for reading according to the liturgical cycle.
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« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2010, 10:05:18 AM »

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved the Canon, but not icons?

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved our rejection of Arianism, but not our approval of infant baptism?

I think you are setting up a false contrast: scripture and icons are different in kind. Also, I didn't say the Spirit "approved" scripture, but that he inspired it - which is different. I have not posted any disapproval of icons, and (as you know from other public posts) I have an icon of the Last Supper, chosen in Crete - an overmhelmingly Orthodox land -, on the wall in the small room in my house in which I usually pray, read scripture and often prepare sermons. I have commented on the risk which icons carry of being wrongly used, that is, to be a barrier to, rather than a pointer to, spiritual truth and blessing; but that is true of many features of our religious life, including baptism by immersion if a false, foolish or misguided minister baptises a person without explaining the need for the rite to be conjoined with commitment to the Lordship of Christ, and including the Lord's Supper, of which the very scripture says a man might partake unworthily, "without discerning the body".
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« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2010, 10:22:20 AM »

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved our rejection of Arianism, but not ...of infant baptism?

I don't really think this is the place to get into discussion of these issues, because we are all agreed on the christology which rejects Arianism, and we all agree that scripture teaches the christology of the ancient creeds. We all draw those conclusions from scripture; if, in addition, you have extra parts of Holy Tradition which confirm our shared christology, that matters not in re this discussion, for we all believe that the scriptures are sufficient anyway on this.

Nor do I think it is the place to get back into a discussion of infant baptism, for we have exchanged and explored our varied beliefs on that theme on one or more other threads at no small length.

However, since you are asking, not about why we believe in believers' baptism, but about how we reckon the Holy Spirit feels about infant baptism (if I am not writing all too anthropomorphically here), then let me repeat, as a purely personal observation, what I have written purely personally before: that I am fully aware that most of the great Christians whom Evangelicals admire have been pæobaptists, and - as far as Britain is concerned - a high proportion of recent and present great preachers whom God has used widely and powerfully have likewise been pædobaptist; indeed, some of the very best preachers - in terms of the blessing vouchsafed on their ministry - have been and are Anglicans. Therefore I have said, or will say now, that I believe we, as human followers of the Lamb, must do our best to fulfil his commands properly, and for us that means practising only believers' baptism. We do not have liberty to set aside right doctrine (orthodoxy!) and right practice, simply because God is pleased to use people more widely than our own beliefs. What God does is his prerogative, and infant baptism does not appear to have been a barrier to his powerful and gracious working. We leave that matter entirely and trustingly with him: he is, after all, God, or as C S Lewis says, "not a tame Lion". But we must not copy the practices of anyone and everyone whom he blesses, but rather obey him as strictly and closely as we can.
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« Reply #26 on: February 07, 2010, 10:37:22 AM »

How do you know the Holy Spirit approved our rejection of Arianism, but not ...of infant baptism?

I don't really think this is the place to get into discussion of these issues, because we are all agreed on the christology which rejects Arianism, and we all agree that scripture teaches the christology of the ancient creeds. We all draw those conclusions from scripture; if, in addition, you have extra parts of Holy Tradition which confirm our shared christology, that matters not in re this discussion, for we all believe that the scriptures are sufficient anyway on this.

If two agree on error, it is still error.  The Arians drew their conclusions (or claim, as you do, to have done so) from scripture: one of the main arguments against the use of the term ὁμοούσιος was because it is not used in scripture.  We know and can demonstrate that the Arians were wrong: you cannot, which is why the "Reformation" opened the door for people who cannot learn from others' mistakes (another use of Holy Tradition) to revive Arianism. Try your arguments on the JW, for instance.

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« Reply #27 on: February 07, 2010, 10:48:03 AM »

the "Reformation" opened the door for people ... to revive Arianism. Try your arguments on the JW, for instance.

I know too little about then history of heresy to engage meaningfully in this area of debate. But it seems to me that you are saying that the Church slew the possibility of Arianism in the early 4th century, and then in the 16th century the Reformers created a context congenial to its revival; and that between those dates there was no Arianism. Is this true? I may be mistaken (for I confess to knowing little of the history of heresy) but did not the Bogomils and Cathars have a christology similar to Arius's, at least in saying that Jesus was not God incarnate, not equal to nor co-eternal with the Father? If there was Arianism between Arius and the Reformation, it would seem to me that your argument has sprung a leak.
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« Reply #28 on: February 07, 2010, 11:30:10 AM »

the "Reformation" opened the door for people ... to revive Arianism. Try your arguments on the JW, for instance.

I know too little about then history of heresy to engage meaningfully in this area of debate. But it seems to me that you are saying that the Church slew the possibility of Arianism in the early 4th century, and then in the 16th century the Reformers created a context congenial to its revival; and that between those dates there was no Arianism. Is this true? I may be mistaken (for I confess to knowing little of the history of heresy) but did not the Bogomils and Cathars have a christology similar to Arius's, at least in saying that Jesus was not God incarnate, not equal to nor co-eternal with the Father? If there was Arianism between Arius and the Reformation, it would seem to me that your argument has sprung a leak.

The Bogomils and Cathars were Gnostics, the Arians were not.

The last of the old Arians died off in Spain in the 6th century, and Arius' error was not repeated until a millenium later, during the "Reformation."
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« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2010, 02:14:28 PM »

The Bogomils and Cathars were Gnostics

I thought they were Manichees; but I was of course not referring to the whole range of their known beliefs, but only to what they deny of our christology, more specifically your (sorry I still can't do the Greek characters) homoousios.
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« Reply #30 on: February 07, 2010, 02:46:11 PM »

at what point did the Holy Spirit, after leading the Church into discernment about the Holy Scripture, leave, causing the Church to fall into error...?

Ah! I think I am finally beginning to understand your question. Sorry to be so sluggish, if that is indeed the explanation. The Spirit, of course, has never left the Church, nor ever will - though I believe he can be grieved, quenched and even withdraw himself - for it is written, "The Spirit of the Lord departed from him," and lampstands are sometimes removed.

But we don't believe that the Spirit keeps the institutional church free from all error or sin - though of course God's heart is to bring the Church back when we go astray.

I guess someone will reply with a reference to the gates of hell, but in our view gates have two specific functions, neither of which is preservation of people from error: one is to keep people out, the other to keep them in. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church by keeping hell's captives inside, or keeping the church's evangelism out. "Is not this a brand plucked from the burning?" to quote one of Wesley's favourite verses. People will always be rescued from hell: hell's gates cannot prevail against the church. But that is different from a concept of keeping the church from all error.

So, at least, I think we would see it. You may not agree, but I hope that gives some clarification to how we, from our perspective, see things. Cleopas may wish to add further insights.

Only that we believe God has provide us with error free doctrine and praxis in the preserved written word of God. We may often fail of that along the way, in one measure or another, but it is settled forever in heaven and preserved pure for us on the earth -- so that the church, though not free from the possibility of error, is free from the possibility of total loss -- God's word preventing as much.

When you say "we" are you referring to all Protestants or just your particular brand of faith? Because you see, the umbrella of "Protestant" is so large and broad, and so varying in beliefs, that I find it difficult to believe that all are free of error.

Are the ones that ordain women free from error?

What about the ones that ordain practicing homosexuals?

Or heterosexuals in monogamous relationships but just haven't been married yet?

How about the ones that believe in "the gifts of the spirit"?

What about the ones that reject the idea of speaking in tongues?

Are snake handlers free from error?

How about the ones that believe in the Real Presence? Or are the ones that don't believe in the Real Presence free from error?

And if your faith group is free from error, is David's? Because if it's not, you should really let him know. Just as a courtesy ya know. I mean, I'm sure David would want to be part of the Church that is free from error.

And how, exactly, did your faith group manage to evolve free from error almost 2000 years after Pentecost, but our's has fallen into error? And what exactly has Christ's Church been doing in the 700 years in between Constantine the Great and your faith group evolving?

I'm just asking.
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« Reply #31 on: February 07, 2010, 02:48:52 PM »

Holy Tradition has been given to us by the Apostles.

Believing this is an act of faith. It cannot be either proved or disproved. My point here is neither that the belief is true, nor that it is mistaken, but that it is a step of faith to believe it, and that it cannot be known in the same way that, for example, mathematical formulæ can be known to be right.


I would say all the writings of the Church Fathers pretty much confirms this. It's not a matter of faith but rather a fact. We have shown time and time again where our beliefs come from in both scripture and the writings of the ECF's. You just choose to ignore them.
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« Reply #32 on: February 07, 2010, 02:53:24 PM »

However, since you are asking, not about why we believe in believers' baptism, but about how we reckon the Holy Spirit feels about infant baptism (if I am not writing all too anthropomorphically here), then let me repeat, as a purely personal observation, what I have written purely personally before: that I am fully aware that most of the great Christians whom Evangelicals admire have been pæobaptists, and - as far as Britain is concerned - a high proportion of recent and present great preachers whom God has used widely and powerfully have likewise been pædobaptist; indeed, some of the very best preachers - in terms of the blessing vouchsafed on their ministry - have been and are Anglicans. Therefore I have said, or will say now, that I believe we, as human followers of the Lamb, must do our best to fulfil his commands properly, and for us that means practising only believers' baptism. We do not have liberty to set aside right doctrine (orthodoxy!) and right practice, simply because God is pleased to use people more widely than our own beliefs. What God does is his prerogative, and infant baptism does not appear to have been a barrier to his powerful and gracious working. We leave that matter entirely and trustingly with him: he is, after all, God, or as C S Lewis says, "not a tame Lion". But we must not copy the practices of anyone and everyone whom he blesses, but rather obey him as strictly and closely as we can.


My point is all of this is your opinion. You cannot prove that the Holy Spirit agrees with you, yet you infer that there were times the Holy Spirit was grieved by the actions of the Orthodox Church. This makes no sense.

You say that the Church fell into error, yet it didn't succomb to the gates of Hades, it just made the Holy Spirit sad.

How can you prove this? The truth is, you can't. This is all your opinion, and your means of justifying your own beliefs.
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« Reply #33 on: February 07, 2010, 03:04:30 PM »

I would like to ask you when you think the cannon of the scriptures were closed.

I suppose the answer would be along these lines: the moment the Apostle John (or whoever wrote last) or his amanuensis laid aside his quill upon completion of the final draft of the final epistle (or Gospel, or Revelation - whichever was the last book to be written). The process of recognising the inspired books, with universally accepted consensus, took some 300 years, but was (I believe) complete by ca 400 AD.
Do you still believe that the Church was being guided into "All truth around 400 AD"?
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« Reply #34 on: February 07, 2010, 03:10:07 PM »

In tonight's Bible Study, Father mentioned how each of the 12 feasts we celebrate on the Liturgical calander are on the calander to remind us of how each part of Christ's life plays a role in our salvation.

This reminded me of a question I've always had, even in my days in the Baptist church.

Why does the Protestant church water down the Liturgical calander to Christmas and Easter?

While I understand your reasoning for throwing out the days that honor the Saints and the Theotokos, why throw out the days that honor Christ?

Specifically I am referring to Theophany (Christ's Baptism) (Luke 3:21-22), the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 1:22-24), Transfiguration (Mark 1:1-13), Palm Sunday (John 12:13-15) and the rest of Holy Week, Pentacost (Acts 2:3-5), and Ascension (Acts 1:9-11).

All of these events are recorded in the Bible, and are worthy of our praise. On Christmas and Easter you celebrate what Christ did for your salvation; why not include the other dates in the year?



We celebrate all the above feasts.

Yes, Ebor politely reminded me of this fact. Smiley
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« Reply #35 on: February 07, 2010, 03:22:27 PM »

The Bogomils and Cathars were Gnostics

I thought they were Manichees; but I was of course not referring to the whole range of their known beliefs, but only to what they deny of our christology, more specifically your (sorry I still can't do the Greek characters) homoousios.

The Manichees were gnostic too.

The Arians denied that Christ was God incarnate.

The Gnostics denied that He was incarnate.

The Unitarians (a derivation of Neo-Arianism) denied that He was God.
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« Reply #36 on: February 07, 2010, 03:42:27 PM »

In tonight's Bible Study, Father mentioned how each of the 12 feasts we celebrate on the Liturgical calander are on the calander to remind us of how each part of Christ's life plays a role in our salvation.

This reminded me of a question I've always had, even in my days in the Baptist church.

Why does the Protestant church water down the Liturgical calander to Christmas and Easter?

While I understand your reasoning for throwing out the days that honor the Saints and the Theotokos, why throw out the days that honor Christ?

Specifically I am referring to Theophany (Christ's Baptism) (Luke 3:21-22), the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 1:22-24), Transfiguration (Mark 1:1-13), Palm Sunday (John 12:13-15) and the rest of Holy Week, Pentacost (Acts 2:3-5), and Ascension (Acts 1:9-11).

All of these events are recorded in the Bible, and are worthy of our praise. On Christmas and Easter you celebrate what Christ did for your salvation; why not include the other dates in the year?



We celebrate all the above feasts.

Yes, Ebor politely reminded me of this fact. Smiley

Ah, sorry. I only just noticed this thread has 4 pages, not 1.  Embarrassed
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« Reply #37 on: February 07, 2010, 03:44:30 PM »

In tonight's Bible Study, Father mentioned how each of the 12 feasts we celebrate on the Liturgical calander are on the calander to remind us of how each part of Christ's life plays a role in our salvation.

This reminded me of a question I've always had, even in my days in the Baptist church.

Why does the Protestant church water down the Liturgical calander to Christmas and Easter?

While I understand your reasoning for throwing out the days that honor the Saints and the Theotokos, why throw out the days that honor Christ?

Specifically I am referring to Theophany (Christ's Baptism) (Luke 3:21-22), the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple (Luke 1:22-24), Transfiguration (Mark 1:1-13), Palm Sunday (John 12:13-15) and the rest of Holy Week, Pentacost (Acts 2:3-5), and Ascension (Acts 1:9-11).

All of these events are recorded in the Bible, and are worthy of our praise. On Christmas and Easter you celebrate what Christ did for your salvation; why not include the other dates in the year?



We celebrate all the above feasts.

Yes, Ebor politely reminded me of this fact. Smiley

Ah, sorry. I only just noticed this thread has 4 pages, not 1.  Embarrassed


That's okay, I still love ya!  Grin
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« Reply #38 on: February 07, 2010, 04:54:09 PM »

Only that we believe God has provide us with error free doctrine and praxis in the preserved written word of God. We may often fail of that along the way, in one measure or another, but it is settled forever in heaven and preserved pure for us on the earth -- so that the church, though not free from the possibility of error, is free from the possibility of total loss -- God's word preventing as much.

When you say "we" are you referring to all Protestants or just your particular brand of faith? Because you see, the umbrella of "Protestant" is so large and broad, and so varying in beliefs, that I find it difficult to believe that all are free of error.

Are the ones that ordain women free from error?

What about the ones that ordain practicing homosexuals?

Or heterosexuals in monogamous relationships but just haven't been married yet?

How about the ones that believe in "the gifts of the spirit"?

What about the ones that reject the idea of speaking in tongues?

Are snake handlers free from error?

How about the ones that believe in the Real Presence? Or are the ones that don't believe in the Real Presence free from error?

And if your faith group is free from error, is David's? Because if it's not, you should really let him know. Just as a courtesy ya know. I mean, I'm sure David would want to be part of the Church that is free from error.

And how, exactly, did your faith group manage to evolve free from error almost 2000 years after Pentecost, but our's has fallen into error? And what exactly has Christ's Church been doing in the 700 years in between Constantine the Great and your faith group evolving?

I'm just asking.

I'm sorry Sis, I wasn't clear. I was saying that error free teaching, and the basis for error free praxis, has been preserved in and by the Scripture itself. We may see through the glass darkly, have and do err, yet the Scripture remains stedfast anchoring the church despite the various winds of doctrine that seek to blow it of course - so that the authority of Scripture becomes paramount to the safe keeping of the church from any final or total apostasy, despite the failure or loss of individuals or sects besides.
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« Reply #39 on: February 07, 2010, 06:25:27 PM »

When you say "we" are you referring to all Protestants ... I find it difficult to believe that all are free of error.

I may have got a bit lost here with all the quotes within quotes, but if I have managed to unravel it, I think Handmaiden is asking Cleopas how (according to Cleopas's thoughts) it comes about that his group of Protestants is free from error; but I also think Cleopas was actually saying something quite different, namely that the scriptures are free from error in all the doctrine and Christian practice they teach. So I think you are talking about different things. All Evangelicals would agree on that.

I suspect the rest of your post, Handmaiden, is rhetorical, but I shall take a glance at it separately nonetheless.
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« Reply #40 on: February 07, 2010, 06:36:48 PM »

Are the ones that ordain women free from error?

The ordination of women is forbidden in the New Testament.

What about the ones that ordain practicing homosexuals?

Homosexuality is forbidden in the New Testament in the strongest terms.

Or heterosexuals in monogamous relationships but just haven't been married yet?

A personal view on this: marriage customs differ from culture to culture. We do not see marriage as a sacrament, and do not require a religious ceremony for the marriage to be genuine in God's sight. But whatever the marriage customs are in any society, Christians should be married before coming together in sex, otherwise it is fornication.

How about the ones that believe in "the gifts of the spirit"? What about the ones that reject the idea of speaking in tongues?

There are different interpretations. I know what I believe, but I also know that genuine believers, saintlier than I, have different views on this matter.

Are snake handlers free from error?

They are basing their views on a single disputed text. In my view, even if those verses are accepted as a genuine part of the canon, they refer to an accidental situation where a Christian (or apostle) unintentionally suffers snake-bite. I believe it would be a serious error, in the category of "tempting the Lord thy God", to deliberately seek or risk snake-bite, akin to our Lord jumping off the pinnacle of the Temple.
 
How about the ones that believe in the Real Presence? Or are the ones that don't believe in the Real Presence free from error?

We all believe in the real presence: but we believe he is present by the Holy Spirit, not in his glorified body and blood, which are in heaven at the right hand of God "till he comes".
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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« Reply #41 on: February 07, 2010, 06:40:41 PM »

all the writings of the Church Fathers ... You just choose to ignore them.

Don't be daft! Of course I don't choose to ignore them: if I did, I would sit at home reading them, or spend hours and other people's money getting them translated and published in Albanian. But we hold them to be on the same human level as writings by other great Christian writers (whom I also read and get translated and published). You might as well say I ignore John and Charles Wesley!
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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« Reply #42 on: February 07, 2010, 06:55:03 PM »

You cannot prove that the Holy Spirit agrees with you,

The other way round: it is I who aim to "agree with" him, not he with me! And of course you are right, and are saying just what I have written: it is not susceptible to proof, but is a matter of reposing one's faith.

Quote
you infer that there were times the Holy Spirit was grieved by the actions of the Orthodox Church. This makes no sense.

I have not made reference in this discussion to any actions of the Orthodox Church, though I have elsewhere. In fact, I have not applied what I said particularly to the Orthodox Church, nor to any other denomination. ("We're not a denomination," says someone, "We are the Church." OK: a different debate.) We were not discussing the actions of the Orthodox Church nor of the universal church, but the matters of belief, dogma, doctrine.

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You say that the Church fell into error, yet it didn't succomb to the gates of Hades

The only way I can think of to succumb to gates is if they collapse on to you. That is not what the Lord was saying will not happen. They will not keep his church out, nor hell's captives in: men and women will be saved, let hell do what it will.

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, it just made the Holy Spirit sad.

"Just"? Come now - we both know that grieving the Spirit who dwells within us is not something one "just" does: rather, in Wesley's words,

Ah! give me, Lord, the tender heart
That trembles at the approach of sin.


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How can you prove this? The truth is, you can't.

Which is exactly what I have been saying: it cannot be proven, nor indeed can Holy Orthodoxy. It is a matter of faith, not sight.
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« Reply #43 on: February 07, 2010, 06:59:12 PM »

The Manichees were gnostic too.

I readily concede your wider knowledge of heresy. A holiday in Languedoc, including visits to several Cathar sites, prompted me to read a fair amount about the Cathars, bit I know very little about other heresies (except of course Evangelicalism  Wink ).
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
David Young
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« Reply #44 on: February 07, 2010, 07:08:51 PM »

Do you still believe that the Church was being guided into "All truth around 400 AD"?

This is the hardest question (for me) yet posed on this thread. I do not have a clear answer in my head.

I do believe the church sometimes wanders from truth, and I do believe the Spirit still strives to bring her back.

However, I do not know what Jesus meant by "all truth". Surely not omniscience; nor yet pansophia. Did he mean the church would have an answer to every religious and theological question that would be asked over the years between Pentecost and the eschaton? I think not. Then how much truth is "all truth"?

And what did he mean by "will guide"? Did he have a time in mind by which the process would be complete? If so, when? The closing of the canon? of the age of the Fathers? Which Fathers, eastern or western? As far as Bede/ Gregory the Great? The ecumenical councils? If he did not have an end to the process in mind, then in what sense is it still continuing, and how does it operate?

Here, I suspect, is matter for a whole separate thread, for it is way outside the narrower matter of religious festivals and the church calendar.
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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