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Author Topic: What is Sola Scriptura?  (Read 12713 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #225 on: July 31, 2011, 05:05:14 AM »

Let's try it this way (completely leaving aside ecclesiological issues and in no particular order):

1. The Scriptures crystallise the Apostolic tradition.

2. In the same way that the common law rules of evidence extend beyond the provisions of the Evidence Act and provide an interpretetive framework for the interpretation of those provisions, the Apostolic tradition extends beyond what made it in to the Scriptures and provides an interpretative framework for the interpretation of the Scriptures.

3. Any doctrine must be subjected to the touchstone of Scripture-compatability, because the Apostolic tradition is non-contradictory.

4. Irenaeus and Polycarp knew better how to interpret the Scriptures because they received the Apostolic teaching directly from the Apostles.

5. Because the Scriptures are not self-interpreting, it stands to reason that the disciples of the disciples of the disciples of the disciples of Irenaus and Polycarp would know better how to interpret the Scriptures than some random Enlightenment Germans.

What is so objectionable about this? Is it 3. which is bothering you? I have a feeling it's either 3. or 5.

I do not understand to do all these theological acrobatics the protestants feel the need to perform just to avoid the blatantly and glaringly obvious truth that the Scripture is not self-sufficient.
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« Reply #226 on: July 31, 2011, 03:14:41 PM »

I'm having a hard time thinking right now and I've got some work to do. I'll need to come back to this a bit later.
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« Reply #227 on: July 31, 2011, 11:58:42 PM »

Let's try it this way (completely leaving aside ecclesiological issues and in no particular order):

1. The Scriptures crystallise the Apostolic tradition.

2. In the same way that the common law rules of evidence extend beyond the provisions of the Evidence Act and provide an interpretetive framework for the interpretation of those provisions, the Apostolic tradition extends beyond what made it in to the Scriptures and provides an interpretative framework for the interpretation of the Scriptures.

3. Any doctrine must be subjected to the touchstone of Scripture-compatability, because the Apostolic tradition is non-contradictory.

4. Irenaeus and Polycarp knew better how to interpret the Scriptures because they received the Apostolic teaching directly from the Apostles.

5. Because the Scriptures are not self-interpreting, it stands to reason that the disciples of the disciples of the disciples of the disciples of Irenaus and Polycarp would know better how to interpret the Scriptures than some random Enlightenment Germans.

What is so objectionable about this? Is it 3. which is bothering you? I have a feeling it's either 3. or 5.

I do not understand to do all these theological acrobatics the protestants feel the need to perform just to avoid the blatantly and glaringly obvious truth that the Scripture is not self-sufficient.
I'd say 1 is my big problem because I don't think the Orthodox really believe this.

Either the Scriptures can make us "wise unto salvation" or they can't. If tradition, or the guidance of a priest, or anything else is needed to be saved, then I don't think they truly can make us wise-I don't think 2 applies as an analogy. If they can make wise then they must in fact be sufficient for salvation.

I don't believe Scripture is completely self-interpreting. However, it is simple enough that even a child can figure what one must do to be saved-believe and obey God. This will, I believe, lead one to seek out the People of God, but still it belies the Orthodox notion that only in the Church is Scripture interpretable (of course, the very fact we're having this conversation does too).
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« Reply #228 on: August 01, 2011, 01:22:25 AM »

It is very simple: at different times and at different places, the Apostles decided to write down the oral tradition (which was and remains and always will be sufficient for salvation).

I don't quite get whether you doubt that the Orthodox believe this or whether you doubt that it is the truth?

I am not trying to be flippant or dismissive, by the way -- I just find that boiling this issue down to its absolute basics is the best way to escape some of the intractably circular reasoning that goes on in respect of it.
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« Reply #229 on: August 01, 2011, 01:58:11 AM »

It is very simple: at different times and at different places, the Apostles decided to write down the oral tradition (which was and remains and always will be sufficient for salvation).

I don't quite get whether you doubt that the Orthodox believe this or whether you doubt that it is the truth?
2 Timothy 3:15 specifically says it is Scripture that makes wise unto salvation. I have no problem with Scripture preserving the saving parts of oral tradition but if there is something in extra-biblical oral tradition which one must believe to be saved, then this verse is obviously false.

I am not trying to be flippant or dismissive, by the way -- I just find that boiling this issue down to its absolute basics is the best way to escape some of the intractably circular reasoning that goes on in respect of it.
I understand.
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« Reply #230 on: August 01, 2011, 02:04:30 AM »

You know, of course, that the reference in Timothy to "scripture" is a reference to the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically the Septuagint?

How do you anachronistically extrapolate the operation of this verse forward in time to apply to the New Testament?
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« Reply #231 on: August 01, 2011, 02:20:07 AM »

At least for the Paulines there's,

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

But any rate, do you think Paul wrongfully taught that the Hebrew Scriptures were all one needs for salvation? Because it sounds like you were agreeing with the thrust of my argument?
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« Reply #232 on: August 01, 2011, 02:29:56 AM »

At least for the Paulines there's,

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

But any rate, do you think Paul wrongfully taught that the Hebrew Scriptures were all one needs for salvation? Because it sounds like you were agreeing with the thrust of my argument?
No. As I've been explaining to Alfred Persson on another thread, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 does NOT say that Scripture alone is sufficient for equipping the Christian for every good work. The text does not rule out other means by which the Christian may be so equipped.
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« Reply #233 on: August 01, 2011, 03:36:16 AM »

At least for the Paulines there's,

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

I will return to this, probably with some consideration of the Greek.

But any rate, do you think Paul wrongfully taught that the Hebrew Scriptures were all one needs for salvation? Because it sounds like you were agreeing with the thrust of my argument?

1.

I can see why it would look that way and I apologise for being a bit oblique.

What I am saying is that one could mount a very convincing argument that very little is required for salvation: the Apostles themselves appear to preach that what is contained in the Hebrew Scriptures is sufficient and the example thief on the cross certainly illustrates that even less than that suffices in the right circumstances. By your logic, then, the vast majority of the Most Holy Scripture (perhaps even the entire New Testament) could actually be thrown away without doing the Church any spiritual harm, because a great portion of it is not absolutely necessary for salvation. Rather, much of it is for the edification of our souls, the good discipline of the governance and conduct of the Church of Christ, instruction in matters of morality, the calming of spiritual anxieties, the emboldening of the faithful ... the list goes on.

Okay, so having illustrated that the purpose of the Most Holy Scriptures is not that they serve as some kind of all-encompassing manual for "getting saved" (what a hideous turn of phrase!), let us ask ourselves: does not the non-Scripture part of the Apostolic tradition (potentially, at least) serve the same purposes as does the Scripture part? That is, keeping in mind my earlier proposition that the Apostolic tradition must be subject to the touchstone of Scripture-compatability (because the Scripture and the tradition are one in the same) are those parts of the Apostolic tradition not found in Scripture necessarily devoid of the capacity to edify, to calm, to inspire to good governance, to instruct in morality, to embolden ... ?

2.

For the sake of argument, let's leave aside the question of whether things such as the sinlessness of the Ever-virgin Mary (which, I would argue, does not rise to the level of doctrine anyway) are necessary for salvation. Having done so, can we at least agree that the surest way to interpret the Scripture is by having regard to the Apostolic tradition?

See how many theologies of the Eucharist, for instance, proliferate in protestantism compared to our only one. Even though I think the Scripture clearly an unambiguously supports the Orthodox teaching on the matter, the writings of Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Irenaeus represent the nail in the coffin for protestant theories. Surely you are not a proponent of the "everything had already gone off the rails by the time of Polycarp" school of thought?

Why would you say the text clearly has a particular meaning when the very first Christians interpreted it in a different way altogether? Clever protestants are catching on to this in droves and are doing things as pagan and anti-Christian as (gasp) fasting ...
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« Reply #234 on: August 01, 2011, 07:25:49 AM »


What I am saying is that one could mount a very convincing argument that very little is required for salvation: the Apostles themselves appear to preach that what is contained in the Hebrew Scriptures is sufficient and the example thief on the cross certainly illustrates that even less than that suffices in the right circumstances. By your logic, then, the vast majority of the Most Holy Scripture (perhaps even the entire New Testament) could actually be thrown away without doing the Church any spiritual harm, because a great portion of it is not absolutely necessary for salvation. Rather, much of it is for the edification of our souls, the good discipline of the governance and conduct of the Church of Christ, instruction in matters of morality, the calming of spiritual anxieties, the emboldening of the faithful ... the list goes on.

Okay, so having illustrated that the purpose of the Most Holy Scriptures is not that they serve as some kind of all-encompassing manual for "getting saved" (what a hideous turn of phrase!), let us ask ourselves: does not the non-Scripture part of the Apostolic tradition (potentially, at least) serve the same purposes as does the Scripture part? That is, keeping in mind my earlier proposition that the Apostolic tradition must be subject to the touchstone of Scripture-compatability (because the Scripture and the tradition are one in the same) are those parts of the Apostolic tradition not found in Scripture necessarily devoid of the capacity to edify, to calm, to inspire to good governance, to instruct in morality, to embolden ... ?
I agree, tradition has other uses than just salvation (in the bald sense).

For the sake of argument, let's leave aside the question of whether things such as the sinlessness of the Ever-virgin Mary (which, I would argue, does not rise to the level of doctrine anyway) are necessary for salvation. Having done so, can we at least agree that the surest way to interpret the Scripture is by having regard to the Apostolic tradition?
I think so. I'm still in a certain degree of captivity that to the notion that the best interpretation must be informed by social science and anthropological study of the Jewish culture surrounding the composition of Scripture, something the all-Gentile Fathers might not have quite been in the same boat on.

See how many theologies of the Eucharist, for instance, proliferate in protestantism compared to our only one. Even though I think the Scripture clearly an unambiguously supports the Orthodox teaching on the matter, the writings of Justin Martyr, Polycarp and Irenaeus represent the nail in the coffin for protestant theories.
Agreed.
Surely you are not a proponent of the "everything had already gone off the rails by the time of Polycarp" school of thought?
Doubtful.

By Ireneaus? Maybe. A lot can happen in a generation. Sometimes I do get the vibe that he pulled the whole "New Eve" thing out of thin air.
Why would you say the text clearly has a particular meaning when the very first Christians interpreted it in a different way altogether? Clever protestants are catching on to this in droves and are doing things as pagan and anti-Christian as (gasp) fasting ...
I can agree with that on most things, I think. Based on my reading of Ignatius, I think I'll need to become Continuing Anglican if Orthodoxy doesn't pan out for me.
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« Reply #235 on: August 01, 2011, 07:46:15 AM »

I can agree with that on most things, I think. Based on my reading of Ignatius, I think I'll need to become Continuing Anglican if Orthodoxy doesn't pan out for me.

You could do worse. <3

Hoping someone else will pick up some of the threads we've started here and say something more profound than I ever could.

PS: don't be afraid of gentile thinking -- the Apostle St John wasn't.
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« Reply #236 on: August 01, 2011, 12:07:29 PM »

Let's try it this way (completely leaving aside ecclesiological issues and in no particular order):

1. The Scriptures crystallise the Apostolic tradition.

I'd say 1 is my big problem because I don't think the Orthodox really believe this.

Why not do with Holy Tradition what Orthodox do with the (to us Brits weird) version of OSAS they so often allude to? "By their fruits ye shall know them." Leaning on Tradition leads to all manner of accretions which run counter to the plain scriptures: prayer to the dead; prayer for the dead; baptism of people who do not believe; the need for centuries of episcopal ordination to priesthood; priestly vestments; and doubtless many others which do not spring immediately to mind. There is a thread about them.

Look at where a doctrine leads to, and compare its end with the scriptures, rather than the first steps of its beginning.
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« Reply #237 on: August 01, 2011, 06:12:04 PM »

Depends on what you mean by, "runs counter to Scripture." If you mean, "not explicitly taught in Scripture," then you run the risk of at least arguing from silence. If you mean "contradicts the teachings of Scripture" then for my purposes that's circular logic. I'm inquiring as to whether the body of Orthodox teachings from their written and unwritten sources hold together, vis a vis 2 Timothy 3:15 in this instance.
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« Reply #238 on: August 01, 2011, 08:38:26 PM »

Let's try it this way (completely leaving aside ecclesiological issues and in no particular order):

1. The Scriptures crystallise the Apostolic tradition.

I'd say 1 is my big problem because I don't think the Orthodox really believe this.

Why not do with Holy Tradition what Orthodox do with the (to us Brits weird) version of OSAS they so often allude to? "By their fruits ye shall know them." Leaning on Tradition leads to all manner of accretions which run counter to the plain scriptures: prayer to the dead; prayer for the dead; baptism of people who do not believe; the need for centuries of episcopal ordination to priesthood; priestly vestments; and doubtless many others which do not spring immediately to mind. There is a thread about them.

Look at where a doctrine leads to, and compare its end with the scriptures, rather than the first steps of its beginning.

Pastor David, with the greatest of respect to you, I do not believe any of those things run counter to the plain meaning of the Scripture. I would accept an argument that they are present in an inchoate or nebulous way. I might also accept an argument that such things are simply not present in the Scriptures though are not inconsistent with them.

For the moment, can we lay aside the argument that there is, in fact, no such thing as a "plain meaning" of Scripture and that all Scripture-interpreation is done within the context of a tradition?

Let's take the example of vesting as our starting point ...

Even if there is no Scriptural injunction that the presbyter/elder vest when liturgising, is it not a beautiful and spiritually fruitful discipline? I can think of the following advantages of the practice just off the top of my head:

1. When the presbyter/elder vests, he prays the prayers of vesting. These prayers remind him that his hands and his strength, by which he will offer the Holy Things on behalf of the faithful, are not his own but the Lord's. Every part of his body is dedicated to the Lord as he vests.

2. When the presbyter/elder stands at the Holy Table, his own person -- his tastes, preferences, personality and gifts, and even body shape -- is obscured by the vestments. Our one and true High Priest is more easily perceived when the one standing at the Holy Table disappears.

3. While there is nothing inherently evil about a business suit or t-shirt-and-jeans, the first is a symbol of commerce and industry and the second is a symbol of the casual. By setting aside certain vestments for the offering of the Holy Things, our very garb is sanctified to the Lord.

4. When not vested, the Lord's ministers, elders and overseers wear simple black garb, reminding them that it is in offering the Holy Things to the Lord that the royal priesthood of the people is manifest: it does not attach to them in particular as persons.

5. The wearing of vestments allows the easy identification of the Lord's ministers, elders and overseers, facilitating good order and discipline in the Church of Christ.

Why is the practice of vesting (for example), properly understood, contrary to the Scripture?

I readily admit that you won't find a verse that says "and make sure the overseer wears a broad, white band around his neck", but so what?
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« Reply #239 on: August 01, 2011, 08:41:26 PM »

Aaron wore vestments, and Aaron was a pretty good priest.  Wink
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« Reply #240 on: August 02, 2011, 12:23:21 AM »

Aaron wore vestments, and Aaron was a pretty good priest.  Wink

My patron saint Smiley
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« Reply #241 on: August 02, 2011, 12:56:52 PM »

Pastor David, with the greatest of respect to you, I do not believe any of those things run counter to the plain meaning of the Scripture.

There are some "accretions" (as I have dubbed them) which are not that harmful, if they are indeed harmful at all. It doesn't really matter to me how a minister dresses in the pulpit, providing his sartorial standard is consonant with the dignity and reverence due to what he is doing. What matters is what he preaches, and whether he has the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I have sat many times under Anglican ministry and benefited deeply and lastingly: the robes worn by the vicar or curate made no difference either way.

But some "accretions" do, I believe, distort the essence of our Faith, and if baptism is divorced from faith, if prayer is made other than to God himself in the name of the Saviour, if the idea is given that there is a post mortem chance for those who die unforgiven in their sins, if another mediator between God and man is introduced - then I believe serious distortion has occurred, which is not consonant with scripture, is not mere interpretation of scripture, and cannot be reconciled with scripture.

I am not saying that these are such fundamental issues that a person's salvation hangs on them, else I should have to conclude that the whole lot of you are bound for a Christless eternity; but I am saying that they impoverish, distort, or detract from the Faith once delivered to the saints.

Neither am I saying that we Baptists or Evangelicals have encompassed all truth in correct balance - otherwise I would not believe we have anything to learn from Orthodoxy. But I do believe (otherwise I wouldn't preach and at least make some effort to practise it) that Evangelicalism is the nearest expression currently 'on offer' to a pure Christian faith.
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« Reply #242 on: August 02, 2011, 09:55:06 PM »

Pastor David, with the greatest of respect to you, I do not believe any of those things run counter to the plain meaning of the Scripture.

There are some "accretions" (as I have dubbed them) which are not that harmful, if they are indeed harmful at all. It doesn't really matter to me how a minister dresses in the pulpit, providing his sartorial standard is consonant with the dignity and reverence due to what he is doing. What matters is what he preaches, and whether he has the anointing of the Holy Spirit. I have sat many times under Anglican ministry and benefited deeply and lastingly: the robes worn by the vicar or curate made no difference either way.

But some "accretions" do, I believe, distort the essence of our Faith, and if baptism is divorced from faith, if prayer is made other than to God himself in the name of the Saviour, if the idea is given that there is a post mortem chance for those who die unforgiven in their sins, if another mediator between God and man is introduced - then I believe serious distortion has occurred, which is not consonant with scripture, is not mere interpretation of scripture, and cannot be reconciled with scripture.

I am not saying that these are such fundamental issues that a person's salvation hangs on them, else I should have to conclude that the whole lot of you are bound for a Christless eternity; but I am saying that they impoverish, distort, or detract from the Faith once delivered to the saints.

Neither am I saying that we Baptists or Evangelicals have encompassed all truth in correct balance - otherwise I would not believe we have anything to learn from Orthodoxy. But I do believe (otherwise I wouldn't preach and at least make some effort to practise it) that Evangelicalism is the nearest expression currently 'on offer' to a pure Christian faith.

As to the accretions 'impoverishing, distorting, or detracting' from that Faith once delivered to the saints, you can state that as an opinion but can you claim it as self-evident?  Personally I would agree most of the time, however sometimes (now perhaps I am confused...) some of those things rather seem to enrich and build the faith up more.  For me, the idea of the communion of saints as living members in Heaven who pray for us is very attractive, even the special intecessory role that the Virgin Mary is believed to have.  For at least many pious Orthodox and Catholics who were raised with it immersed in the whole set of prayers and devotions, I doubt that the veneration of saints makes an essential difference in how devoted to Jesus Christ as Lord they are.  Perhaps for nominals (who are the majority of Orthodox as well as Catholics...) the saints' veneration could be considered a distraction from personal devotion to Christ, if many were to say either simple or elaborate prayers to Mary/the Theotokos rather than to God.  And then, well, Protestants at least in Europe and the now North America are also very nominal so one could ask how sincere their faith is the Lord, yes?

For my own consideration - maybe to yours, David? and any one else's - I just had a thought of where you mentioned "if prayer is made other than to God himself in the name of the Saviour" - I've read through (sometimes have prayed, however that counts as me being non-Orthodox) many of the Orthodox prayers to Jesus Christ, and I believe (you do as well?) they are some of the most sublimely worded, sometimes tear-inducing, devotion-spurring prayers one could make to God, and Jesus is God in the Trinity?  Anyway... do you believe it would be wrong to say some of these prayers that are addressed to "Jesus Christ my God" as one possible rather than in a manner strictly to "God" (as in God the Father) by the name of Jesus Christ? (this usually said at the end of such prayers)

I do not mean by this post to suggest a decided personal bend toward Orthodox (or 'apostolic' Christianity in general) veneration of saints, the claim of impoverishing or detracting, etc. needs to be more elaborated every time it is made, I think.  (My own impression from reading many posts and stuff around the issue.)
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« Reply #243 on: August 02, 2011, 10:16:11 PM »

As far as "other mediators" go, if we interpret that verse as "anything which helps us before God" then Protestants in fact have hundreds of mediators as well as possible distractions/idols. The pastor, the scholar that translated your Bible, the construction workers who built your church, your fellow congregation. All of these have a hand in effecting your Christian life and I dare say in helping to mold you into the Christian you are today? This in no way detracts the sovereignty and mediator-ship of Jesus Christ, unless you let it of course.

I don't see how the help of the Saints and of one's Guardian Angel is any different. Anything can be a distraction or a help. It depends on us.
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« Reply #244 on: August 05, 2011, 03:32:48 PM »

1. the idea of the communion of saints as living members in Heaven who pray for us is very attractive,
2. Protestants at least in Europe and the now North America are also very nominal so one could ask how sincere their faith is the Lord, yes?
3. do you believe it would be wrong to say some of these prayers that are addressed to "Jesus Christ my God" as one possible rather than in a manner strictly to "God" (as in God the Father) by the name of Jesus Christ?

1. Agreed - but so are many other things which are not right.
2. Agreed. No faith which is merely nominal will save the soul.
3. No: I am happy praying to Jesus the Son or to the Father; but not to the departed. Personally I am somewhat uneasy about prayers to the Holy Spirit, though I don't know why.
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« Reply #245 on: August 05, 2011, 03:34:52 PM »

Protestants in fact have hundreds of mediators as well as possible distractions/idols. The pastor, the scholar that translated your Bible, ... your fellow congregation. All of these have a hand in effecting your Christian life and I dare say in helping to mold you into the Christian you are today? This in no way detracts the sovereignty and mediator-ship of Jesus Christ, unless you let it of course.

Agreed. But these folk are still alive. I often ask people to pray for me, who am, as the old song has it, "standing in the need of prayer."
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« Reply #246 on: August 05, 2011, 03:47:33 PM »

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I often ask people to pray for me
So whats the difference in asking those with God to pray for you? Does it matter of their location?

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« Reply #247 on: August 05, 2011, 03:52:46 PM »

It is very simple: at different times and at different places, the Apostles decided to write down the oral tradition (which was and remains and always will be sufficient for salvation).

I don't quite get whether you doubt that the Orthodox believe this or whether you doubt that it is the truth?
2 Timothy 3:15 specifically says it is Scripture that makes wise unto salvation. I have no problem with Scripture preserving the saving parts of oral tradition but if there is something in extra-biblical oral tradition which one must believe to be saved, then this verse is obviously false.

I am not trying to be flippant or dismissive, by the way -- I just find that boiling this issue down to its absolute basics is the best way to escape some of the intractably circular reasoning that goes on in respect of it.
I understand.
καὶ ὅτι ἀπὸ βρέφους τὰ ἱερὰ γράμματα οἶδας, τὰ δυνάμενά σε σοφίσαι εἰς σωτηρίαν διὰ πίστεως τῆς ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

and that from child the sacred writings you-have-know, which can you make-wise into salvation by Faith which in Christ Jesus.

12 Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

St. Paul is just pointing out to St. Timothy the grounding he got in the Faith, he is not restricting St. Timothy just to that grounding.  Note:"knowing from whom you learned it."  "From whom" is masculine plural, so it cannot be a reference to the scriptures, which occur in the next clause, and is feminine plural.  In other words, he is refering to the bishops (elsewhere mentioned) from whom he learned what he learned and firmly believed.

Take for instance the written part of driver's ed: they make you do that before they let you learn behind the wheel, but not even someone who gets a hundred on his written exam can to called a driver.  Not until he practices, takes the driving test, and then actually drives.  But it starts by reading the rules of the road (at least in IL that's what it is called).  And though you can take the written test yourself, the driving practice has to be with someone who is already a driver.
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« Reply #248 on: August 05, 2011, 04:46:37 PM »

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I often ask people to pray for me
So whats the difference in asking those with God to pray for you?

None - if they can hear us, and if they continue a ministry of intercession, but there is nothing I know of that suggests they can. But we know our Lord hears us, and has invited us to make our requests known directly tio God in his name.
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« Reply #249 on: August 05, 2011, 05:01:12 PM »

Quote
I often ask people to pray for me
So whats the difference in asking those with God to pray for you?

None - if they can hear us, and if they continue a ministry of intercession, but there is nothing I know of that suggests they can. But we know our Lord hears us, and has invited us to make our requests known directly tio God in his name.

Christ tells us that God is the God of the living, not the dead (see Mark 12:26-27 and the matching incident in Matthew 22:32). If the saints who have passed from this world are still living (as per Christ's statement), does it not stand to reason that they can also pray for us?
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« Reply #250 on: August 05, 2011, 06:27:38 PM »

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I often ask people to pray for me
So whats the difference in asking those with God to pray for you?

None - if they can hear us, and if they continue a ministry of intercession, but there is nothing I know of that suggests they can.
In contrast, there is nothing that says they can't hear us. The notion that the afterlife is a place of non-cognizance of what goes on here seems more like a pagan notion (the River of Forgetfulness in the Greco-Roman underworld), we at least know they remember this life via the souls of the martyrs in Revelation.

If those martyrs are petitioning God for themselves, doesn't it seem quite reasonable that they, having been made perfect in love, would also petition the Lord on behalf of we who remain? And furthermore, if they petition God for us, why wouldn't He assist them in doing so by keeping them abreast of our lives?
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« Reply #251 on: August 06, 2011, 08:15:53 AM »

"Doesn't it stand to reason... Doesn't is seem quite reasonable"? ask Cephas and Volnutt

It certainly seems possible; I cannot say whether it also accords with reason, as we know too little about the intermediate state. The scriptures are full of people asking their friends still living in this world to pray for and with them; they give no examples of people attempting to contact the departed to solicit their prayers. Our religion depends on revelation, not reason - on those things that otherwise would remain secret but which God in his kindness has taken the initiative in revealing to us. Also, the Bible strongly encourages us to approach the Father himself in Christ's name, letting our requests be made known to God. That is the pattern of prayer set before us in Holy Writ, and that is why we Evangelicals seek to follow it. The rest at best (as you write) stands to reason, but is in fact only speculation and what you hope, not what we all know by revelation.
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« Reply #252 on: August 06, 2011, 07:37:23 PM »

I'm having a hard time articulating right now, but it seems to me that Scripture gives no direct evidence for the acceptability of many things; parachurch ministries, using the modern media of one's day in the church, the propriety of using tracts, whether Christians may participate in Halloween and to what extent, whether Christians should read and write fiction, the acceptability of dancing, playing cards, acting in and watching plays or movies...

All of these have been debated by believers of good will in many eras and answering each of them rely on indirect reasoning from what God does tell us.

Even if the first century church did not venerate the Saints, it is still a practice with a long pedigree enjoyed by scores of sincere, good Christians for much longer than many of the things I list above. Has it been abused? Definitely. But so have all the things above (so has prayer to God, I might add). But if your response to any of what I list above is anything other than, "it isn't in the Bible, so we can't touch it" then I don't see how you can object to the pious and ancient practice of prayer to the Saints on the basis of it not being directly commended in Scripture.
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« Reply #253 on: August 08, 2011, 11:42:37 AM »

I'm having a hard time articulating right now, but it seems to me that Scripture gives no direct evidence for the acceptability of many things; parachurch ministries, using the modern media of one's day in the church, the propriety of using tracts, whether Christians may participate in Halloween and to what extent, whether Christians should read and write fiction, the acceptability of dancing, playing cards, acting in and watching plays or movies...
... But if your response to any of what I list above is anything other than, "it isn't in the Bible, so we can't touch it" then I don't see how you can object

On the contrary, you seem very articulate, and I have been puzzling about why I cannot refute your logic, yet remain unconvinced by it. I think the argument is that you are not comparing like with like. Some things you mention are merely matters of practical outworking of plain Christian duties: parachurch ministries, using the modern media of one's day in the church, the propriety of using tracts. Some are matters of culture: whether Christians may participate in Halloween and to what extent, whether Christians should read and write fiction, the acceptability of dancing, playing cards, acting in and watching plays or movies. But the matter we have somehow fixed on - prayer - is of a different order. It is neither practical nor cultural, but is of the very heart and essence of our inner spiritual life and personal practice of spirituality. It concerns to whom we pray, and through whom we approach the Father.

Interestingly - though probably not relevant - I was surprised to learn that, whilst Hallowe'en is a definite no-go area for British Christians, my American "Bible Baptist" friends see it as no more than harmless fun and do not raise objections to Christians participating. This is odd, because American Baptists are usually a lot more legalistic than British ones on matters where the Bible is not specific.
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« Reply #254 on: August 08, 2011, 08:02:07 PM »


On the contrary, you seem very articulate,
Thanks. Smiley

and I have been puzzling about why I cannot refute your logic, yet remain unconvinced by it. I think the argument is that you are not comparing like with like. Some things you mention are merely matters of practical outworking of plain Christian duties: parachurch ministries, using the modern media of one's day in the church, the propriety of using tracts. Some are matters of culture: whether Christians may participate in Halloween and to what extent, whether Christians should read and write fiction, the acceptability of dancing, playing cards, acting in and watching plays or movies. But the matter we have somehow fixed on - prayer - is of a different order. It is neither practical nor cultural, but is of the very heart and essence of our inner spiritual life and personal practice of spirituality. It concerns to whom we pray, and through whom we approach the Father.
But all sin dampens one spiritual life. The reason I brought up those practices is I've seen people have grave concerns about whether each of them is acceptable to God and if they aren't, then I could see some of them effecting one's prayer life as well.

But perhaps this is a more direct example. We know from Scripture that Christ is the Great Physician, we know He heals. We also know that Paul advised Timothy to "take a little wine" for his stomach ailments. Was Paul contradicting Christ? Should he not have told Timothy to not "obscure" Christ's healing ministry by relying on something else to soothe his stomach ailments?

Similarly some Christians today would say that one should entreat Christ for healing and that going to a doctor evinces a sinful lack of faith. Correctly can they say that nowhere in the Bible are we told to see doctors, but they are missing out on the implications of the above passage. Christ is indeed our one Healer, but He works through the ministrations of earthly medicine. It is no sin to admit this, and to recognize that the doctor, as much thanks as he deserves for his efforts, was only doing what God enabled and ordained him to do.

You mention a concern about through whom we approach God. If you look at examples online of standard Orthodox prayer rules, you'll find in fact that the Lord's Prayer and other appeals directly to God are in fact an essential part of Orthodox prayer. The Orthodox never pray to the saints alone, or shouldn't. Even the Rosary is, and this surprised me, actually 65% focused directly on God. http://www.davidmacd.com/catholic/mary_rosary.htm

The reason I brought up doctors and healing is because just as sickness is a huge issue which can greatly impact one's spiritual journey, so is one's prayer life. Obviously we both know of people who lack faith and rely only on medicine, and this is grave sin. But God does mean us to use these excesses as a reason to throw out the physicians He has provided on earth and is pleased to work through for our physical well being to His glory. So also I don't see why God would not want us to call on our brothers and sisters who have finished the race and are well able to serve as conduits of His grace to help us in our spiritual well being to His glory, as pious believers have seen fit to do for centuries.

Interestingly - though probably not relevant - I was surprised to learn that, whilst Hallowe'en is a definite no-go area for British Christians, my American "Bible Baptist" friends see it as no more than harmless fun and do not raise objections to Christians participating. This is odd, because American Baptists are usually a lot more legalistic than British ones on matters where the Bible is not specific.
I've seen Baptists on both sides of the fence on that one. I get the sense though that in Britain, Halloween still has much more of the old pagan/witchcraft associations. Here it seems like the pop culture perception of it is more tamed, except for among Wiccans or something.
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« Reply #255 on: August 09, 2011, 10:25:44 AM »

Was Paul contradicting Christ? Should he not have told Timothy to not "obscure" Christ's healing ministry by relying on something else to soothe his stomach ailments?

Similarly some Christians today would say that one should entreat Christ for healing and that going to a doctor evinces a sinful lack of faith.

Indeed, and they remind me (perhaps wrongly) of Hymenæus and Philetus in 2 Timothy, who taught "that the resurrection is past already". The teaching to which you refer is, I believe, a misunderstanding of such verses as Isaiah and the Gospel where we read that Christ bore our sicknesses. They extrapolate from this that healing is provided in the Atonement, and (like forgiveness of sin) can and should be received by faith. What they cut out of the biblical teaching is that this physical aspect of the Atonement is not received till the resurrection, when the perishable shall put on the imperishable, and the mortal shall be swallowed up by immortality. In God's kindness, of course, there are indeed genuine miracles of healing, but they are not promised to the Christian prior to the resurrection, though I believe we may request them.

The cruel tragedy is that many simple believers are then left with both their sicknesses and a sense of guilt and spiritual inadequacy because they have not claimed healing by faith. May the Lord deliver us all from such false teaching!
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« Reply #256 on: August 09, 2011, 01:43:59 PM »

Amen.
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