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Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« on: March 30, 2011, 05:58:42 AM »

I plan on including this in my book, and I'm hoping you guys can critique it and help me fine tune it.  Thanks!

SOLA SCRIPTURA?

Protestants will argue that the Scriptures came directly from God, and that the Church was founded upon the Scriptures. They assert that the Church was established by the words of Christ, which are recorded in the Holy Bible. And this is not necessarily incorrect. But Orthodoxy rightly points out that the Bible came to us in and through the institution of the Church; and thus apart from the Teachings and Traditions of the Church, the Scriptures will never be correctly understood.
 
The 27 books of the New Testament were not compiled until 367 A.D., by St. Athanasius. So, how did Christians of the first four centuries grow in the Faith without the New Testament? The answer is apostolic Teaching and Tradition. Even after the New Testament was compiled and canonized, most people did not have access to it, and many people were illiterate and could not read the Scriptures even if they had them.

The doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (The Scriptures Alone) was contrived by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Seeking a way to circumvent accountability to ecclesiastical authority (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, which incidentally had apostatized from the apostolic Faith in 1054 A.D.), Luther up and declared that the “Bible alone” is the only authoritative source of Christian truth and spiritual instruction. Besides being a purely subjective doctrinal innovation, Sola Scriptura also casts aspersion on 1500 years of preceding Christian history, during which thousands of Saints and Martyrs gave their lives for the apostolic Faith, “which was once for all delivered unto the Saints."[Jude 3] Until the invention of the Gutenburg Printing Press in the middle of the 15th century, the Bible was essentially unavailable to the masses. Thus, Christian faith was primarily shaped and informed by 1500 years of unbroken and unaltered apostolic Teaching and Tradition. The era that secular historians disparage as the “Dark Ages” was actually an era illumined by the Orthodox Christian light of the Saints, Martyrs, and Fathers of the Faith. Thus if Luther was correct in maintaining that Scripture alone is the only authoritative source of Christian understanding, then what does that say about those Christians who lived in the centuries when the Bible was not available to them? If “Sola Scriptura” is correct, then the Christians who did not have the Scriptures must have been following mere superstition or mere human tradition. Their saintly struggles and martyrdom were only in vain. This is one of the blasphemous but logical conclusions of “Sola Scriptura.”
   
When the subjectivity of “Sola Scriptura” is pointed out to them, Protestants will often cite the mantra, “Scripture interprets Scripture.” But the Bible is not able to actually interpret itself. Although the Holy Scriptures are divinely inspired (“Inspired”- Greek: “theo-pneustos;”i.e. “God-breathed” - II Timothy 3:16), the Bible can only be interpreted by people. And each individual person will interpret it differently. So there are only two options: 1) Submit the Scriptures to the endless subjective interpretations of individual men or groups of individuals; or 2) Allow the divinely established apostolic Church of Christ to interpret and explain the Holy Scriptures for the edification and enlightenment of the Christian people.    
   
Although the Church is comprised of individual persons, its objective holy Teachings have been divinely instituted and preserved through apostolic succession. Thus, Orthodox Christians are not susceptible to the errors of a subjective and individualistic biblical hermeneutic. Instead, we corporately rely upon the divine apostolic interpretations that have been given to us in, through, and by the infallible Church of Our Lord.
   
Consider Acts 8:26-39, which records the encounter of the Apostle Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch was a devout man of the Judaic Faith who was returning from Jerusalem where he had travelled to worship. St. Philip encountered the Ethiopian sitting in his chariot reading aloud from the book of Isaiah, and he asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. The Ethiopian replied, “How can I unless someone guides me?” [Acts 8:31] St. Philip then “preached Jesus to him” [Acts 8:35]. The Ethiopian eunuch’s understanding of the Scriptures was enlightened by the Apostle’s guidance, and he was consequently converted and baptized by St. Philip. (Acts 8:36-38)
   
This account demonstrates the necessity of ecclesiastical instruction in regard to the interpretation of the Scriptures. The Ethiopian’s conversion teaches us that individual efforts to understand the Scriptures are inadequate apart from the guidance and interpretation of apostolic authority. The Ethiopian’s humility and his willingness to submit to apostolic instruction enabled him to enter into a relationship with Christ and His Church. His sincere faith and obedience to apostolic guidance also enabled the entire nation of Ethiopia to subsequently embrace the Christian Faith. And this ancient and authentic Orthodox Christian Faith continues to form the essence of Ethiopian culture to this very day.
   
We must remember that the gates of hell may prevail over many things: individuals, families, denominations, governments, tribes, or nations; but the gates of hell shall not prevail against The Church. (St. Matthew 16:18) Therefore, Orthodoxy is founded upon that divine institution which Christ has eternally established, preserved, and protected. We do not subscribe to “Sola Scriptura;” instead, we hold to the Teachings and Traditions of the Church, apart from which the sacred Scriptures will never be truly understood.

To seek the meaning of the Scriptures outside of their proper ecclesiastical context is to demean and disrespect their sacred purpose. Those that truly love the Word of God (St. John 1:1; Hebrews 4:12-13) will submit to the Teachings and Traditions of His Church. Professing Christians who reject apostolic Teaching and Tradition prove that they love not the Bible, but rather their own subjective interpretations and fallible human opinions. And ironically, the doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” is simply not Scriptural; for nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to base our Christian Faith on the Bible alone.


Selam,
Gebre Menfes Kidus
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2011, 06:20:40 AM »

Amen Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2011, 07:59:53 AM »

You might consider adding that there was a local synod (I can't remember where; late 3rd or early 4th century) that first compiled and proclaimed the "inspired books" of the New Testament, then, the First Ecumenical Synod (Council) confirmed that synod's compilation of New Testament scripture.  This Synod also discarded and proclaimed certain books heretical, too. Thus, it was the First Ecumenical Synod's work that established the church's books of the New Testament.  As written, it would be believed that St. Athanasios gave the church our New Testament scriptures.

You might also want to add that one of the means which the church used to teach the faith was the use of iconography.  And, that the New Testament, compiled with all its books, was not readily accessible to the majority of faithful until the printing press was invented.  
« Last Edit: March 30, 2011, 08:15:05 AM by Basil 320 » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2011, 08:10:20 AM »

Just a fine tuning matter, you should consider adding that there was a local synod (I can't remember where) that first compiled and proclaimed the "inspired books" of the New Testament,

Try to come up with a name, because I'm not familiar with it.

Quote
then, the First Ecumenical Synod (Council) confirmed that synod's compilation of New Testament scripture.  This Synod also discarded and proclaimed certain books heretical, too.

Reference?
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2011, 08:11:07 AM »

I plan on including this in my book, and I'm hoping you guys can critique it and help me fine tune it.  Thanks!

SOLA SCRIPTURA?


Who are you trying to reach with your writing?
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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2011, 08:14:05 AM »

The doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (The Scriptures Alone) was contrived by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Seeking a way to circumvent accountability to ecclesiastical authority (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, which incidentally had apostatized from the apostolic Faith in 1054 A.D.), Luther up and declared that the “Bible alone” is the only authoritative source of Christian truth and spiritual instruction.

A couple of points of clarification on this.  First, Martin Luther did not hold to "sola scriptura" in the same sense most modern Protestants do.  Luther in his writings frequently cited to Church Fathers to support his view of Scripture (I'm NOT saying he cited them accurately in all cases, but he did in fact view them as being authoritative to support his view of what Scripture said), and the Lutheran Confessions make clear that their view of Scripture is supported by and depends upon the Fathers.  The view of sola scripture espoused by the Book of Concord is not Orthodox, but it is closer to the Orthodox view than the Protestant view.  In fact, one reason I'm Orthodox today is I held to this view of the Scriptures, and once it became apparent the Fathers did not support some of the tenets of Lutheranism, sola scriptura was no help at all.  At that point, the whole foundation for the Lutheran view of Scripture fell apart.  Second, and more to the point, Luther did not consider the Scriptures to be the SOURCE for doctrine, but rather the SOLE NORM for doctrine.  Some modern Lutherans will tell you the Scriptures are the source for doctrine, but neither Luther nor the Lutheran Confessions consider the Scriptures to be the source for doctrine.  The accurate Lutheran view is that the Scriptures norm doctrine, not that they create it.  You rightly point out that doctrine comes from Christ, through the Apostles (which is to say, through the Church), and then through the Church to the Scriptures.  Luther and the Lutheran Confessions would agree with that view, even though they would disagree with us on doctrine.

How to sort that out in a short few paragraphs while still refuting modern Protestantism's idea of sola scriptura (which is what you attribute to Luther) is ticky, but as written, you run the risk that the book would be easily discounted by Lutherans as a false hit piece that erects and tears down a strawman.  You might consider removing the references to Luther, or at least footnoting a blurb that makes clear Luther held to a more Orthodox view of the Scriptures than most Protestants today hold.
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2011, 07:03:04 PM »

The doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (The Scriptures Alone) was contrived by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Seeking a way to circumvent accountability to ecclesiastical authority (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, which incidentally had apostatized from the apostolic Faith in 1054 A.D.), Luther up and declared that the “Bible alone” is the only authoritative source of Christian truth and spiritual instruction.

A couple of points of clarification on this.  First, Martin Luther did not hold to "sola scriptura" in the same sense most modern Protestants do.  Luther in his writings frequently cited to Church Fathers to support his view of Scripture (I'm NOT saying he cited them accurately in all cases, but he did in fact view them as being authoritative to support his view of what Scripture said), and the Lutheran Confessions make clear that their view of Scripture is supported by and depends upon the Fathers.  The view of sola scripture espoused by the Book of Concord is not Orthodox, but it is closer to the Orthodox view than the Protestant view.  In fact, one reason I'm Orthodox today is I held to this view of the Scriptures, and once it became apparent the Fathers did not support some of the tenets of Lutheranism, sola scriptura was no help at all.  At that point, the whole foundation for the Lutheran view of Scripture fell apart.  Second, and more to the point, Luther did not consider the Scriptures to be the SOURCE for doctrine, but rather the SOLE NORM for doctrine.  Some modern Lutherans will tell you the Scriptures are the source for doctrine, but neither Luther nor the Lutheran Confessions consider the Scriptures to be the source for doctrine.  The accurate Lutheran view is that the Scriptures norm doctrine, not that they create it.  You rightly point out that doctrine comes from Christ, through the Apostles (which is to say, through the Church), and then through the Church to the Scriptures.  Luther and the Lutheran Confessions would agree with that view, even though they would disagree with us on doctrine.

How to sort that out in a short few paragraphs while still refuting modern Protestantism's idea of sola scriptura (which is what you attribute to Luther) is ticky, but as written, you run the risk that the book would be easily discounted by Lutherans as a false hit piece that erects and tears down a strawman.  You might consider removing the references to Luther, or at least footnoting a blurb that makes clear Luther held to a more Orthodox view of the Scriptures than most Protestants today hold.

Thank you very much. This is exactly the kind of help I need. I don't want to be guilty of making straw man arguments. I think I will try the footnote idea.  

Selam

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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2011, 01:00:20 AM »

You might also want to add that one of the means which the church used to teach the faith was the use of iconography.  And, that the New Testament, compiled with all its books, was not readily accessible to the majority of faithful until the printing press was invented.  


Thank you brother. I actually have another small section on Icons, and I make this point there.

Selam
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« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2011, 01:06:07 AM »


The doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (The Scriptures Alone) was contrived by Martin Luther in the 16th century. Seeking a way to circumvent accountability to ecclesiastical authority (i.e. the Roman Catholic Church, which incidentally had apostatized from the apostolic Faith in 1054 A.D.), Luther up and declared that the “Bible alone” is the only authoritative source of Christian truth and spiritual instruction.

A couple of points of clarification on this.  First, Martin Luther did not hold to "sola scriptura" in the same sense most modern Protestants do.  Luther in his writings frequently cited to Church Fathers to support his view of Scripture (I'm NOT saying he cited them accurately in all cases, but he did in fact view them as being authoritative to support his view of what Scripture said), and the Lutheran Confessions make clear that their view of Scripture is supported by and depends upon the Fathers.  The view of sola scripture espoused by the Book of Concord is not Orthodox, but it is closer to the Orthodox view than the Protestant view.  In fact, one reason I'm Orthodox today is I held to this view of the Scriptures, and once it became apparent the Fathers did not support some of the tenets of Lutheranism, sola scriptura was no help at all.  At that point, the whole foundation for the Lutheran view of Scripture fell apart.  Second, and more to the point, Luther did not consider the Scriptures to be the SOURCE for doctrine, but rather the SOLE NORM for doctrine.  Some modern Lutherans will tell you the Scriptures are the source for doctrine, but neither Luther nor the Lutheran Confessions consider the Scriptures to be the source for doctrine.  The accurate Lutheran view is that the Scriptures norm doctrine, not that they create it.  You rightly point out that doctrine comes from Christ, through the Apostles (which is to say, through the Church), and then through the Church to the Scriptures.  Luther and the Lutheran Confessions would agree with that view, even though they would disagree with us on doctrine.

How to sort that out in a short few paragraphs while still refuting modern Protestantism's idea of sola scriptura (which is what you attribute to Luther) is ticky, but as written, you run the risk that the book would be easily discounted by Lutherans as a false hit piece that erects and tears down a strawman.  You might consider removing the references to Luther, or at least footnoting a blurb that makes clear Luther held to a more Orthodox view of the Scriptures than most Protestants today hold.

Thank you very much. This is exactly the kind of help I need. I don't want to be guilty of making straw man arguments. I think I will try the footnote idea.  

Selam



I guess I'm focusing on Luther's defense at the Diet of Worms. He didn't appeal to Tradition or the Church Fathers, but instead held up "Scripture and plain reason" as the foundation by which he was basing his opinions. So, isn't that pretty much the beginning of the Sola Scriptura doctrine right there?


Selam
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« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2011, 07:27:48 AM »

I guess I'm focusing on Luther's defense at the Diet of Worms. He didn't appeal to Tradition or the Church Fathers, but instead held up "Scripture and plain reason" as the foundation by which he was basing his opinions. So, isn't that pretty much the beginning of the Sola Scriptura doctrine right there?


Selam

Yes and no.  I think how "Scripture and plain reason" are fleshed out in his writings indicate it's a bit more than that.  In his writings, Luther appeals to the Fathers.  Wrongly in some instances.  Out of context in many instances.  But it's not the "me and my Bible" view that most Protestants hold.  Luther frequently appeals to what the Church has always taught (even where he is wrong on what the Church has taught).
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« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2011, 07:05:57 PM »

I guess I'm focusing on Luther's defense at the Diet of Worms. He didn't appeal to Tradition or the Church Fathers, but instead held up "Scripture and plain reason" as the foundation by which he was basing his opinions. So, isn't that pretty much the beginning of the Sola Scriptura doctrine right there?


Selam

Yes and no.  I think how "Scripture and plain reason" are fleshed out in his writings indicate it's a bit more than that.  In his writings, Luther appeals to the Fathers.  Wrongly in some instances.  Out of context in many instances.  But it's not the "me and my Bible" view that most Protestants hold.  Luther frequently appeals to what the Church has always taught (even where he is wrong on what the Church has taught).


I see. Thank you. I guess I'm arguing that even if Luther never intended to promote the "me and my Bible" thing, he nevertheless unintentionally paved the way for it. Is that fair to say?

Selam
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« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2011, 10:24:51 PM »

I see. Thank you. I guess I'm arguing that even if Luther never intended to promote the "me and my Bible" thing, he nevertheless unintentionally paved the way for it. Is that fair to say?

Selam

I do think that's fair.  Plus, at the end of the day, it WAS him and his Bible.  The fact that he appealed to Patristics doesn't change the fact that he rearranged the books of the Bible, took some out, moved others around, and added words to at least one.  There's plenty to criticize there.  The real problem is you could literally write a whole book on Sola Scriptura by itself.
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« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2011, 10:44:14 PM »

^Right.  It wasn't just about interpretation.  He could pick and choose which books were authoritative by himself.  He threw out James and Jude because they did not fit his understanding of things.
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