The thing that people should not add to what God says is also specified in Revelation 22.18-19.[/quote="xariskai"] Specifically this charges that one not add to the book of Revelation penned by John. Yes, but if God foretells an awful future for those who add here or subtract to anything of the Book of Revelation, does it mean that adding to or subtracting from other book of the Bible, God would not take that into consideration (in the bad meaning for us)? At least that was my logic.
I think you are a conjurer, for what is not explicated in that verse, you produce!
Where is your exegesis? You add your own human logic to the book of Revelation now to get a meaning from it which is not explicitly given there? Why is that not a violation of your own principles, and a violation of the warning mentioned in the book of Revelation to boot? Where *exactly* are these "other books of the Bible" you refer to mentioned in this passage you suggest refers to them? The passage warns us from adding to the words of that prophecy, no more no less. End of story! Or if not, *prove* the passage *specifies* anything whatsoever about other books of the Bible.
The word of God should be taken as the word of God while the word of man must be taken as the word of man.
Fine and good, but the word presented by a man -before/apart from having being written down- can be the word of God (Jn 11:50-51: "You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation" etc.). In Jn 11:50-51 the word of God, through a man, apart from scripture, came to the Jewish high priest by virtue of his God-appointed office. Did such a biblically attested process cease to occur at a particular point in time? On your own principle, you must prove prophetic cessationism (no word of God after the close of the canon). While you're at it you can prove from the Bible the canon was even predicted to become closed since you claim to believe nothing not explicitly stated in the Bible. If you cannot do this you are a living paradox.
Religious teachers CAN break commandments from the Bible and CAN teach people wrong...
...we should not put our trust in (blindly trust) people like teachers, though teachers should belong among us... they DO make mistakes in what they say
Yes; all of that is also Orthodox teaching.
Ephesians 5.23 “Christ is the head of the church”, so the real Christians don’t need any other head, or heads to rule over them.
Your claim that Christians "don't need any other head"
but Christ isn't taught in Eph 5:23. The WHOLE verse, in fact (not just the part you chopped in half), teaches precisely the opposite:
Ephesians 5:23 "For the husband is the head of the wife
as Christ is the head of the church"
The wife in view is a Christian, and has another head other than Christ.
So your claim, “Eph 5:23 'Christ is the head of the church', so the real Christians don’t need any other head, or heads to rule over them" is explicitly contradicted by the very verse you cite to prove that. You are taking away from the words of scripture, and violating your own principle which prohibits that.
As far as your repudiation of the idea God wants anyone "ruling" over us, scripture trumps you once again: "The elders [πρεσβύτεροι]who rule [προεστῶτες] well
are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching." -1 Tim 5:17 However Orthodoxy is not autocratic at all, nor does it have anything like papal supremacy in Latin Catholicism, as I will explain shortly.
The elders, pastors, teachers, whatever, DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT to impose to people their view! The elders, pastors, teachers, whatever, DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT to impose to people their view!
Yes, that is also Orthodox teaching. This is one area where Orthodox teaching is in direct opposition to Latin Catholicism. Papal supremacy is held, by most academic historians, to be a medieval innovation. Papal infallibility was not proclaimed until 1870, just a couple of centuries ago. Orthodox are quite different:
"The method was collegial, not authoritarian; disputes were settled in church councils, whose decisions were not valid unless “received” by the whole community. The Faith was indeed common: what was believed by all people, in all times, in all places. The degree of unity won this way was amazing. Though there was some local liturgical variation, the Church was strikingly uniform in faith and practice across vast distances, and at a time when communication was far from easy. This unity was so consistent that I could attribute it to nothing but the Holy Spirit." -F. Matthews-Green, Facing East
From Ernst Benz, The Eastern Orthodox Church: Its Thought and Life
ORTHODOX AND ROMAN CATHOLIC IDEAS OF DOGMA
"Because dogma has this practical function within the spiritual organism of the Orthodox Church, it has not undergone so much theoretical elaboration as the dogma of Roman Catholicism or Protestantism. The various elements of the Creed have not been defined with precision. Hence there is much greater freedom in the interpretation of the dogma. Even the formulation of a dogma by an ecumenical council is not eo ipso necessarily binding under canon law. To be binding, a dogma must also be accepted by the general consensus of the Church, what the theologians call the "ecumenical conscience..."
SOBERNOST: DEMOCRATIC EQUALITY OF LAITY, PRIESTS, BISHOPS, AND PATRIARCHS
The Orthodox Church acknowledges the monarchical principle as far as the whole Church is concerned, this concept embracing both the visible Church on earth and the invisible celestial Church. The master, lord and sole head of the Church is Christ. But the monarchical principle does not in practice rule the organization of the visible Church. Here purely democratic principles prevail. No single member of the Church is considered to have a legal position fundamentally superior to that of the other members. Even the clergy, aside from the sacramental powers accorded to them by their consecration, have no special rights that would set them above the laity. The Orthodox Church prizes this "democratic" (sobornost’) principle as one of its oldest traditions. Just as all the apostles were equal in rank and authority, so their successors, the bishops, are all equal.
It is true that the principle of the so-called monarchical episcopate became established quite early in the primitive Church. That is to say, the bishop was recognized as holding the leading position within the Church. But this did not mean that he alone represented the entire spiritual power of the Church. Not even the bishops as a body constituted the highest authority of the Church. This was vested in the ecumenical consensus or conscience of the Church, which meant the general opinion of clergy and laymen taken together. Even the decision of an ecumenical council acquires validity only if it is accepted by this general consensus of the whole Church. Although the bishop represents the unity of the Christian community and exercises full spiritual powers, he is no autocrat; he and all the clergy subordinate to him are regarded as parts of the entire ecclesia, the living organism of which Christ is the head" (Benz, op cit).
1 Thessalonians 5.21 says: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” – That is, don’t blindly trust everything, but see if it is indeed so!
That is precisely what the Orthodox faith claims to achieve -collectively. The word "test" in 1 Thess 5:21 is actually second person PLURAL: δοκιμάζετε. You are presuming the "test" must be done by individuals separate from the community; Orthodox "test [δοκιμάζετε -second person plural] all things" together a community. The result of the former is 30,000 denominations -in just a few centuries time. The result of the latter is 2000 years of constant teaching, wherein we have the unique ability to claim obedience to Ephesians 3:13-14 and:
"all reach unity [all -as a collective!] in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." (Eph 3:13-14).
It is Protestantism that is blown here and there by every wind of teaching, not Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy just keeps on keeping on, century after century after century.
1 Cor 1:10: "I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree [collective agreement! not just individual agreement with the scripture] with one another [with one another, not just with the Bible!] so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought." Perfect unity in mind and thought is not characteristic of Protestant communities, who are therefore in disobedience to the command of Paul to be "perfectly united in mind and thought." Orthodox for centuries have remained united in mind and thought.
So which is biblical? To test as individuals exclusively, or is it permissible for Christians to prove all things as a unified group, as the Orthodox always have done? Prove it!
Most Protestants, BTW, affirm in good conscience that at a minimum the first five ecumenical creeds are *biblical* creeds. Norman Geisler, for example, affirms (correctly) that the vast majority of Protestant and Evangelical Christians affirm at a minimum the first five Ecumenical Creeds -from credo- is simply means belief; they are expressions of belief.
we see how the religious teachers of that time were, while people were regarding them as 'the ones who know', 'those whom should be trusted' and that all their teachings as correct!
Sure, the teachers you cited. But the Christian church had teachers too, as described in the NT. And don't forget the book of Ephesians affirms God appointed
teachers in the Church, as cited above, so we can't simply portray teachers as some kind of enemy.
"Luther would allow whatever the Bible did not prohibit, whereas Zwingli would reject whatever the Bible did not allow (Baintan, R. H., Christendom (NY: Harper & Row, 1960), p. 231). To which principle, or what alternative principle, do you adhere, Zenith, and where your principle found in the scriptures? All churches have traditions: orders of service, use or non-use of incense, use of pews or not, musical instrumental music or not, Sunday school, Hymnals, or not, etc. whether they realize this or not. There is never a question of tradition or no tradition, or adding practical considerations not specified by scripture to church practice or not, but which tradition or traditions one adheres to. To argue against other Christians who hold traditions not explicated in the written scripture to be UNBIBLICAL, the Protestant objector should either (A) prove not simply that it isn't IN the Bible, but that the tradition CONTRADICTS the scripture, or (B) prove the Zwinglian view from scripture alone. Orthodoxy practices things which the Bible does not prohibit, but never contradicts the scripture as she in good conscience understands the scripture and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 17.11 tells us about some Jews who have heard what the apostles said:
“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The apostles taught that this Jesus is the messiah of the Scriptures. So what did these Jews did? They checked the scriptures to see if it is so!
Orthodox have no problem with doing this; most of us do this ourselves, in good conscience, just as you do. Search the scriptures, yes, but you wish to say no person who truly followed God ever did anything that is not proven by the OT or NT scriptures alone -quite different. On your view, may I ask a question? By what authority did John the Baptist baptize in water for repentance? Was this of heaven, or of men?
You mean that if I preach these teachings of mine on the streets, it is the word of God?
No. Scripture describes proclaimation, not just the written word as the word of God, but it doesn't say all proclamation is the word of God. But you are circumscribing the word of God to the written page of a closed canon and presuming cessationism, none of which you have effectively demonstrated from the scriptures themselves.
I know that the Scriptures [in 2 Tim 3:14]referred to the Old Testament... I wrote “And the fact that the Bible is sufficient is shown in verses 14 to 17. (New Testament and the Old Testament).” Because the Bible consists of the Jewish Holy Scriptures and the teachings of the apostles (New Testament) –from v. 14.
Well, which is it then? You can't have it both ways. Either 2 Tim 3:14 refers to just the OT, or it refers to the OT and the NT -despite the fact that the latter wasn't collected into a book at that time and many of the books therein had not even been composed. If all Scripture enables one to be ἐξηρτισμένος/fully equipped for good works, then the Torah, since the Torah is Scripture, certainly enabled a person like Joshua to be fully equipped for good works. So what? This invalidates Orthodoxy? How can 2 Tim 3 say "the Bible" is sufficient since "the Bible" we know hadn't even been composed? If all the Scripture written when Timothy received his second letter from Paul was sufficient, why were other things added for the faith and practice of the Church after that time, like the Holy Gospels, which hadn't yet been composed when Paul wrote to Timothy?
You must also read 2 Thessalonians 2.15:
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.So yes, there should be no “Church Fathers”
What? To the contrary, you are actually proving the Orthodox point, that Christians were to pass along both written traditions and oral traditions: "teachings... whether by word of mouth or by letter." Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis (very near Colossae and Laodicea in the region we now call Turkey) attests the role that tradition disseminated by word of mouth -not just by letter- continued to play in the first half of the second century (early 100s AD), himself still preferring "the living voice" to what could be found in books. That is despite the fact that he knew all four canonical Gospels. You would probably consider Papias's preference wrongheaded, but you haven't proven that it is by scripture alone; in fact the scripture you just cited not only supports but commands the use of and adherence to oral traditions which were valuable. as far as I can tell your view reduces more to cultural bias (your own traditional matrix) than biblical exegesis -because your scriptural *rationalizations* (I do not use the word exegesis for your view) are full of holes.
we should not trust people that said “the apostles also said” or “the apostles also believed”. Instead, people should hold fast only to what the apostles said (not other people)
The physician Luke told us what the apostles said and believed in the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Luke was not an apostle. You say we should hold fast only to what the apostles said, and "not trust people that said 'the apostles also said' or 'the apostles also believed.'" But that is exactly what Luke did. Then why should we trust Luke the physician? He did say he looked into things carefully, and I do find him trustworthy enough. But on your criteria we should not trust him. I could go on to demonstrate how your criterion would remove a good portion of the NT. If you are trusting the Gospel of the not-apostle-Luke you are inconsistent with your own principle.
in that time only, what they have heard with their ears from the apostles themselves (when the apostles were with them)!
When the apostles were with them; then why not consider -not as authoritative per se, but at least as informative- Book of Revelation, 100AD; Ignatius of Antioch, 67 AD; Polycarp of Smyrna, 100 AD; Clement of Rome, 90, or 60AD; the Didache, 60-100AD... Why would the beliefs and practices of those who were personal disciples of an apostle, or in the case of other important early Christians, disciples of a direct disciple of an apostle, be of no importance to the Church? Perhaps God in His sovereignty allowed their works to be preserved for a reason!
During the earliest centuries of Christianity, worship was essentially the same throughout the world. As Protestant scholar F. F. Bruce observed, “There was for example Hegesippus (a name which is evidently a Greek disguise for Joseph), who flourished in the middle of the second century [100s AD]; he was a convert from Palestinian Judaism, and one of the first Christians to conceive the idea that the true faith could be identified by ascertaining the consensus of belief in all the apostolic churches. In pursuit of this quest, he traveled from Palestine to Rome, questioning the churches which he visited on the way about the beliefs that they held, and recorded his findings in five books of Memoirs. His conclusion was that ‘in each [Episcopal] succession and in each city the faith is just as the law and the prophets and the Lord proclaim it’ [Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., IV, 23.2]. His Memoirs, long since, unfortunately, lost, contained many interesting items of ecclesiastical tradition from Jerusalem and the other churches with which he became acquainted; he was, in fact, one of the first Christian writers of the post-apostolic age who tried to support his theological belief on the basis of history” (F. F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), p. 273).
We certainly don't see that kind of unity in Protestantism, though unity of mind and thought itself is a command of scripture which can only be fulfilled communally if at all.
Here's another example, Zenith, insofar as you regard salvation as when one walks through a door into another room, whereupon salvation is complete in one Grand Moment (which I rebutted in previous posts). If there are arguments about doctrines like the possibility of apostasy (the possibility is affirmed by Lutherans, Wesleyan/Methodists, most Charismatics and Pentecostals, Restorationists, Orthodox, and Catholics and many, but denied by Calvinists (on the basis of predestined salvation), Dispenspensationalists, and most Baptists (on the basis of proof texting), it would seem to be of at least somewhat damaging to those who deny the possibility that ALL of the earliest Christians who either were discipled personally by an apostle, or discipled by someone who was personally discipled by an apostle in the first and early second century believed in the possibility of apostasy. There was not one shred of dissent by anyone. One would suppose that if the very opposite viewpoint was taught by the apostles at least SOMEONE in the early church would have objected to the view. But no one did; these Christians spoke Koine Greek as their mother tongue. You might object that what scripture says is pivotal too, which it is, but all contemporary scholars also consider the historical, cultural, linguistic, and archaeological background is crucial to properly understand what scripture meant, i.e. extra-biblical traditions
The fact that the scriptures cannot be adequately understood without considering their social/cultural/historical/linguistic background is affirmed by all contemporary scholarship. Background is often critical to what is taken as authoritative meaning. That is to say, apart from the study of extra-biblical information the scripture is understood, and is never understood in total isolation -a hypothetical and functional myth. There is no scripture forbidding the historical process of investigating the practice of the early church during the lifetime of the apostles and their immediate successors (Apostolic Fathers and their successors) as historically instructive about the meaning of scripture and early Christianity any more than there is scripture forbidding the study of first century Judaism to illumine the meaning of scripture, as all scholars do, or forbidding the study of the philological historiography of the meaning of a word, as all scholars do; and yes, information derived from extra-biblical studies does *authoritatively* illumine the meaning of scripture and early Christianity.
You understand the verses of Deuteronomy 5.32-33 and 12.32 wrong. They do not teach that God should not add to them, but that man should not add nor subtract from them.
Deuteronomy 5.32-33 and 12.32 also teach that we should remain ONLY to the teachings that God gave. Sure, but it doesn't say the teaching already given was all there was, else we would not have the writings and the prophets and the NT to augment the Pentateuch. Also there were charismatic prophets in the OT which recorded many things which were not written down. The OT does not restrict the word of God to the pages of a book as contemporary evangelicism does. While man should not add to the word of God and call it the word of God, there is nothing to prevent God from doing so through men and women; in fact scripture itself presents that this precisely what *was* done even after the prohibitions of adding or taking away to what was written were presented in Deuteronomy. Why was anything else written after Deuteronomy if such passages were intended to circumscribe the word of God?
I realize that. These passages do not teach sola scriptura. Deut 5:32-33 teaches one should follow the commands of God. Orthodox teaches the same. Deut 5:32-33 says Israel must not add to the commands of God; you add the caveat that God can add to his written commands but that man alone apart from God's direction cannot. Orthodoxy teaches the same. Orthodox do not regard their tradition as man's tradition, but as Holy Tradition. And, frankly, there isn't so much of it that can't be found directly in the Bible, or implied by it, at the end of the day. But the Holy in Holy Tradition means that Orthodox believe all their dogma comes from God rather than from man. You haven't proven otherwise here.
“This is not so if the creeds embody the word of God” – actually, it is still the view of man. So every man must judge if the teachings that a man gives do indeed say what the Bible says or not...
You must judge if what I say (my interpretation of the words of the Bible) is indeed what the Bible says. I don’t have any right to impose my view to anybody.
So, if what I say (or parts of what I say) is what the Bible says, then you should be careful not to deny the Bible (my advice)
So it is that if what the creeds say is what the Bible says then you should be careful not to deny the Bible. That the creeds are biblical creeds is widely affirmed throughout Protestantism. Protestant Norman Geisler, for example, affirms the vast majority of Protestant and Evangelical scholars affirm the following:
"A historical approach to the topic of the essentials of the faith begins with the earliest creeds embedded in the New Testament and traces creedal development through the early forms of the Apostles Creed to the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. Unity among all major sections of Christendom is found in the statement: One Bible, two testaments, three confessions, four councils, and five centuries." (Geisler, Norman, "The Essential Doctrines of the Christian Faith," in Christian Research Journal, volume 28, number 5 (2005).
You are free to disagree with this, of course, but you are on the fringes of historic Christianity past and present, Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic, in denying the relevance of creeds.
And as far as your statement about "forcing anyone" to believe, we Orthodox do not force you to believe anything; you are free to believe or disbelieve what you will. Our history is perhaps not perfect, as the massive bloodletting by Protestant against Protestant and Catholic is not either in the aftermath of the Reformation. But Orthodoxy had neither Crusades nor Inquisitions as the Latin Catholics did, so to a large extent you are barking up the wrong tree here again. You sound like the angry atheist against Christianity as a whole because of its history of "atrocities." I'm in favor of religious freedom and against the use of force or violence in matters of religion, and so are most people on this forum. It is to them you speak, not the minority of the dead who acted otherwise, of which there are fewer in Orthodoxy than many other traditions despite their having been around two thousand years.
The same with somebody (anybody) who speaks according to what the Bible says: people would have to choose either to believe those verses of the Bible or to deny them. But if he doesn’t speak according to what the Bible says, then I believe one must not take heed to what he says. So it all resolves to the Bible, right?
Funny, Orthodoxy says the same thing. Everything we do is in accord with the Bible. We do some things that aren't in the Bible, just like Protestants who use Welch's Grape Juice instead of wine, or have puppet shows or build outbuildings on their properties. But nothing we do contradicts scripture, as we in good conscience understand it.
My view: “Do not put your trust in anything, but the Bible” and I think that the verses I wrote in the beginning support my point, so it’s not just “MY view”
I don't see that you have established this. Do you trust your automobile? How about the law of gravity?
Also, imposing what you believe to somebody else is yet another bad thing (1 Peter 5.3). So anyone’s doctrine (about the believer’s union with Christ, the atonement, the incarnation, etc.) must be judged to see if it is indeed what the Bible says (so one would not get to believe somebody who understands things wrong) and must not be imposed to people.
What Orthodox Christian has ever threatened to "impose" doctrine upon you personally? Take our doctrine or leave it; you have free will!
It is altogether true that the Bible is self-sufficient So do you agree with this?
No. The Spirit of God especially is essential in addition to scripture to understand it, as the scripture itself teaches. But I regard it as categorically false on additional grounds as well which I haven't mentioned yet.
the so-called Apostles' Creed likely dates back (at least substantially) to the second century. In the centuries that followed, more creeds were written to combat heresy that was creeping into the Church. We think especially of the Nicene Creed, and the Symbol of Chalcedon, which were primarily developed by councils representing virtually all of the Christian Church. These creeds' central purpose was to defend the biblical doctrine of Christ's nature, because Arius and others were teaching heresy under the cover of biblical-sounding language. The Church was serious about her calling which is given in Jude 3: "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."
By the way, Jude 3 does not say that the church leader (or anybody else) should impose views or commandments or teachings to others.
The imposed thing again. The Nicene creed was believed by virtually all persons everywhere, except the Arians. I'm not sure if you suppose Jehovah's Witnesses are true Christians, but I don't. You are correct that such should not be a matter of force. No dogma of the Orthodox Church advocates such force, and I doubt there are Orthodox Christians alive anywhere in the world today who advocate imposition of their religion by force.
The interpretation of “The Church is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Tim. 3:15)” is also wrong, because, if it was as it you claim (considering what “Church” means), there would have been no heresies, but only truth among Christians!
Hmm... no. It doesn't say everyone would adhere to the truth, but that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth.
No confession which contradicts scripture can be true.
No Orthodox confession contradicts scripture.
But the answer is not individualism, which leads to anarchy. Individualism implies that each person is free to formulate and promote his own confession. He may undermine the teaching of the God-ordained authority of the church. This is not the biblical way...
First, prove me what “Church” is and then the “authority of the church” you claim.
Then, with what authority does the Orthodox Church take the freedom of men (e.g. freedom to think)?
Orthodoxy doesn't take the freedom of men to think. You and we can think what we will. We are free to say Jesus Christ did not physically resurrect from the dead, and so are you, but no one who thinks this is Orthodox. You are free to believe in the physical resurrection or not.
Perhaps more later; this is already pretty long.