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Author Topic: The Protestant Understanding of the History of Christianity and the Church  (Read 4645 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: March 09, 2012, 01:21:33 PM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?
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« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2012, 01:36:02 PM »

It really depends on which Protestant you ask.

Some, usually the older strings, will give you a history of the Church that will more or less agree with the RC or Orthodox history, but will also add in about hos the Church began turning away due to whatever influence (worldly power, heresy, etc.). Usually you'll see the turning point in the Reformation.

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

PP
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« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2012, 02:27:36 PM »

It really depends on which Protestant you ask.

Some, usually the older strings, will give you a history of the Church that will more or less agree with the RC or Orthodox history, but will also add in about hos the Church began turning away due to whatever influence (worldly power, heresy, etc.). Usually you'll see the turning point in the Reformation.

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

PP

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?
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« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2012, 02:34:44 PM »

It really depends on which Protestant you ask.

Some, usually the older strings, will give you a history of the Church that will more or less agree with the RC or Orthodox history, but will also add in about hos the Church began turning away due to whatever influence (worldly power, heresy, etc.). Usually you'll see the turning point in the Reformation.

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

PP

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

Yes, that's what my question is more about.

If things derailed so quickly before the cannon was set, what is the Protestant response to that given the circumstances? Also, who are the writers/theologians before the Reformation that argued things were going down-hill in regards to all these doctrines creeping in. Basically, I'm asking for a trace back before the Reformation to their side of the argument.
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« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2012, 03:26:06 PM »

If it is one of the more intelligent, traditional Protestants like a Lutheran, they will usually know an average amount about the early history of the Church and will usually hold no harsh feelings until the Reformation period where they will then state issues they had trouble accepting in the Church. On the other hand, the typical mainline Protestant/American Evangelical really does not honestly know anything about the history. And I know this for a fact because I used to go to school at one of their Private Schools. None of them knew where the Bible came from and many of them, some Pastors included, even thought that the entire Bible existed since the time of the Apostles and believed that the New Testament Church functioned like a Protestant one in the first century, but then when you get to the second century they become clueless and develop all sorts of pseudo-theories and inconsistent claims about the Church becoming corrupted when they do not even know which Church they are talking about. In fact, most refer to it as the Roman Catholic Church because they are either clueless about the schism or do not even know what the Eastern Orthodox Church is.

Sola-Scriptura is fallacious in several ways. The first being the fact that it is unsupported by scripture because you have 2 Thessalonians 2:15, the epilogue of St. John's gospel and that passage in Corinthians (Anyone care to cite it for me?). I've heard some Protestants claim that these traditions were already included into the Bible by the time it was put together, however, that is an inconsistent claim because if they did that, then why didn't they erase those old passages that said to hold onto oral traditions? Or at least leave some indicator saying 'Hey guys, forget about what we said earlier, we already included it in here' or something. Likewise, the New Testament is not a collection of teachings and doctrine; it is made up of epistles directly addressing only certain issues in particular. Then you have the fact that the Bible did not even exist until the middle of the fourth century, arguably sometime around the first or second Ecumenical Council. Which, is rather funny; Protestants believe the Church fell into error yet they still believe they made the right choice in putting the Bible together and developing the Doctrine of the Trinity. So this raises the question of what did the Church do for the first three hundred years before they had the Bible, or the fourteen hundred years before they even had the printing press to make it widespread? They relied on the oral teachings of the Apostles passed down through their Bishops. Moving further, if the Bible was meant to be interpreted individually by each person in the way that Protestants do with no guidance, then why did Jesus say that His will was for us to be one united just like Him and His Father? Because, the Protestants have all interpreted it individually and there are thousands of denominations of them developing each day because they cannot agree on it or have any guidance. Whereas, the Orthodox Church throughout her history has always been able to put heresies to rest and solve doctrinal questions for the most part.

Also, who are the writers/theologians before the Reformation that argued things were going down-hill in regards to all these doctrines creeping in. Basically, I'm asking for a trace back before the Reformation to their side of the argument.

Arius and the Oriental Orthodox theologians, however, most Protestants would not want to be associated with these people and these people rejected the Orthodox Church for different reasons than Protestants.
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« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2012, 03:27:20 PM »

It really depends on which Protestant you ask.

Some, usually the older strings, will give you a history of the Church that will more or less agree with the RC or Orthodox history, but will also add in about hos the Church began turning away due to whatever influence (worldly power, heresy, etc.). Usually you'll see the turning point in the Reformation.

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

PP

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?
Protestant: Yeah, but you see all of the texts that make up the Bible had already been written by 397. Plus, didn't the canon of 397 (or thereabouts) include things like Tobit and Sirach? The 397 canon came close to including only texts that were inspired, but it also mistakenly included texts that were not inspired. Not until Luther et al. do we get a truly inspired Bible.
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« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2012, 03:37:15 PM »

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.
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« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2012, 03:57:00 PM »

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

Which can be refuted in one of four ways. 1) You could argue that in order for them to have gotten the scripture right, they would have needed to have been able to get everything else right, and defend the Church. 2) You could argue that the Church did not get the scripture Canon right, but that would also contradict our teachings. 3) You could argue that in order to have put the scriptures together they would have needed to have a proper understanding of them to decide what is true, and use this to defend the Church. 4) Or you could argue why would God allow them to get the scripture right but nothing else?
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« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2012, 03:58:11 PM »

Quote
Protestant: Yeah, but you see all of the texts that make up the Bible had already been written by 397. Plus, didn't the canon of 397 (or thereabouts) include things like Tobit and Sirach?
Yes, however they were removed because Luther could not find original texts for these books. He wanted to find the hebrew documents for the books in question. He tried to do the same for the NT, like James, hebrews, 3 John but his argument fell apart so he kept them in. however in the Lutheran bible, they're in the back Wink

Quote
If things derailed so quickly before the cannon was set, what is the Protestant response to that given the circumstances? Also, who are the writers/theologians before the Reformation that argued things were going down-hill in regards to all these doctrines creeping in. Basically, I'm asking for a trace back before the Reformation to their side of the argument
As far as sola scriptura, basically, luther said that even though the writiers of the NT, when speaking of scripture were referring to the OT, it can also be used for the NT since both were divinely inspired, even though the NT writers did not know they were writing scripture.

PP
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2012, 04:10:56 PM »

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

How were they able to recognize it? Everyone can't just be reading scripture and understanding it because books were highly prized possesions with few people actually owning books and publishing companies not existing until a good time later.

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

But what about people before Luther? I'm wanting something earlier. I'm wanting Figures from earlier time periods arguing roughly for the Protestant side of things.

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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2012, 04:27:07 PM »

Quote
But what about people before Luther? I'm wanting something earlier. I'm wanting Figures from earlier time periods arguing roughly for the Protestant side of things.
I think Erasmus was slightly before Luther, he was a contemporary, I know.



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« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2012, 04:40:30 PM »

Gnostics were somewhat similar to Protestants in terms of the individuality and hatred for centralized authority and liturgical services. Only, they were more philosophical than most Protestants and I would say that they were like a cross between Christianity and Buddhism.
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« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2012, 04:52:01 PM »

Awesome post! I am far to ignorant to give the answer your looking for. This is certainly inspiring to learn more on the subject though.  Speaking only for myself, I would agree more or less to what PP mentioned in the first paragraph of reply #1.

It might also be worth mentioning that not all Protestants are what I would call ‘fully’ solo-scriptura. There are many that do not deny, but in fact, look toward the teachings of Church Fathers and doctrine. The following are quotes of Mr. John Wesley who studied Orthodoxy with far more than just a curiosity. He said more on the subject, always with respect and admiration, if not a deeply profound reverence and belief.
 
 “Can anyone who spends several years in those seats of learning, be excused if they do not add to that learning the reading of the Fathers? The Fathers are the most authentic commentators on Scripture, for they were nearest the fountain and were eminently endued with that Spirit by whom all Scripture was given. It will be easily perceived, I speak chiefly of those who wrote before the council of Nicaea.”
 
“The Holy Scripture is the fountain and lively spring, containing in all sufficiency and abundance the pure Water of Life, and whatever is necessary to make God's people wise unto salvation. ...The voice and testimony of the Primitive Church, is a ministerial and subordinate rule and guide, to preserve and direct us in the right understanding of the Scriptures.”
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« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2012, 04:55:55 PM »

Quote
It might also be worth mentioning that not all Protestants are what I would call ‘fully’ solo-scriptura
To split hairs, no Protestant group is. however, You're correct in what you're saying.

Quote
It might also be worth mentioning that not all Protestants are what I would call ‘fully’ solo-scriptura. There are many that do not deny, but in fact, look toward the teachings of Church Fathers and doctrine. The following are quotes of Mr. John Wesley who studied Orthodoxy with far more than just a curiosity. He said more on the subject, always with respect and admiration, if not a deeply profound reverence and belief
Also true. I believe more than 1 Protestant loved the Apostolic Fathers especially.

Quote
“Can anyone who spends several years in those seats of learning, be excused if they do not add to that learning the reading of the Fathers? The Fathers are the most authentic commentators on Scripture, for they were nearest the fountain and were eminently endued with that Spirit by whom all Scripture was given. It will be easily perceived, I speak chiefly of those who wrote before the council of Nicaea.”
Yeah. Thats a common thought among history buff Protestants even still today.

PP
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« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2012, 04:56:03 PM »

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.
Which can be refuted in one of four ways. 1) You could argue that in order for them to have gotten the scripture right, they would have needed to have been able to get everything else right, and defend the Church. 2) You could argue that the Church did not get the scripture Canon right, but that would also contradict our teachings. 3) You could argue that in order to have put the scriptures together they would have needed to have a proper understanding of them to decide what is true, and use this to defend the Church. 4) Or you could argue why would God allow them to get the scripture right but nothing else?

That's just the explanation, I never said I agree with it.
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« Reply #15 on: March 09, 2012, 09:16:00 PM »

Quote
It might also be worth mentioning that not all Protestants are what I would call ‘fully’ solo-scriptura
To split hairs, no Protestant group is. however, You're correct in what you're saying.

Have you ever been in the Deep South? "If it ain't in the Good Book it don't mean..."
 Grin Just kidding, no offence to anyone.  

many that do not deny, but in fact, look toward the teachings of Church Fathers and doctrine. The following are quotes of Mr. John Wesley who studied Orthodoxy with far more than just a curiosity. He said more on the subject, always with respect and admiration, if not a deeply profound reverence and belief
Also true. I believe more than 1 Protestant loved the Apostolic Fathers especially.

[/quote]


Certainly. I mention Wesley as the example as he is one of the few I know much about!  Wink
I've read that Martin Luther, as you referenced earlier, never really intended for Oral Tradition to be abandondoned completely, but only sought to reject that which could not be supported or referenced in Scripture. To be fair, with no disrespect to the RCC, all things considered perhaps there was a bit of an understandable knee jerk reaction.

*Excuse the messed up quotation.
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2012, 10:11:37 PM »

Quote
It might also be worth mentioning that not all Protestants are what I would call ‘fully’ solo-scriptura
To split hairs, no Protestant group is. however, You're correct in what you're saying.

Have you ever been in the Deep South? "If it ain't in the Good Book it don't mean..."
 Grin Just kidding, no offence to anyone.  

many that do not deny, but in fact, look toward the teachings of Church Fathers and doctrine. The following are quotes of Mr. John Wesley who studied Orthodoxy with far more than just a curiosity. He said more on the subject, always with respect and admiration, if not a deeply profound reverence and belief
Also true. I believe more than 1 Protestant loved the Apostolic Fathers especially.


Certainly. I mention Wesley as the example as he is one of the few I know much about!  Wink
I've read that Martin Luther, as you referenced earlier, never really intended for Oral Tradition to be abandondoned completely, but only sought to reject that which could not be supported or referenced in Scripture. To be fair, with no disrespect to the RCC, all things considered perhaps there was a bit of an understandable knee jerk reaction.

*Excuse the messed up quotation.

They reject most doctrines that the Church Fathers explained and taugh. That aside-- in regards to Tradition not being intentionally abandoned by Luther, where does that leave Protestants from your perspective?  


Quote
“The Holy Scripture is the fountain and lively spring, containing in all sufficiency and abundance the pure Water of Life, and whatever is necessary to make God's people wise unto salvation. ...The voice and testimony of the Primitive Church, is a ministerial and subordinate rule and guide, to preserve and direct us in the right understanding of the Scriptures.”

If the Church is subordinate to Scripture, what gives the Church the ability to write, define, and cannonize it? Go back to Penetcost or the council held in Jerusalem and tell me what the Church looked like? Is it following the New Testament Scripture (which hasn't been wrote yet) or is it set about in the faith delivered in Tradition? When do Christians start relying on opening their Bibles and preaching like Protestants do now? When does the "Primitive Church" start derailing and things jump to the Reformation?

I'm geninuenly curious about these questions. I haven't ever sat down with a Protestant and asked him how he views the history of the Church and Christianity.

Oh, and I'm from the Deep South and can honestly attest to your characterization! No offense taken, it is correct!  Grin
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2012, 10:55:14 PM »

I wonder if any Baptists or Protestants still read or believe in that Trail of Blood tract. Have any Protestants here heard of it? Apparently it states that the Church was founded by John the Baptist.
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« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2012, 12:25:50 AM »

What I remember is knowing about the founding of the Church(Sunday School New Testament lessons and Sermons), and martyrs (we had a copy of 'Fox's Book of Martyrs' in the church library), some of the early heresies (when I went through confirmation), that there was a split between east and west, and then that the Roman Catholic church went off the rails and had to be fixed by the Protestant Reformation (also from confirmation and may have been covered in school in History of Western Civ. class).

When I went to college, a Bible College for years three and four, we covered the New Testament so the founding of the Church again but I don't think they added any history towhat I already knew. That was about twenty five years ago.

When I became a Minister some of the courses I took touched on early heresies again, but then jumped more or less straight up to the history of our denomination.

Later in less formal settings with friends or colleagues I heard some about the notion that the church may have gone off the rails with Constantine.

More recently, owing I think to more and better study by Protestant scholars, I've heard that the church started to fall apart sooner. I would say this is because more Protestants are actually starting to read some of the early Fathers and finding out that early Christianity doesn't fit their preconceived notions so it must have been corrupted earlier on. After all Protestants are Protestants and what the Fathers write does sort of resemble what the Roman Catholics have been doing all this time.

For me realizing the failings of Sola Scriptura that so many of the comments in this thread have pointed out was the beginning of my transition to Orthodoxy. As I've said to many people and at least a couple of times in this forum all churches have 'Tradition' only some admit it.

I doubt we'll find any scholars too far before Luther to back up Sola Scriptura. In the west the printing press wasn't invented too much before he was born and without it Sola Scriptura was pretty untenable. Not enough people, in the west anyway, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire could read to make So la Scriptura realistic. Before that time they all had to rely on the Church and her Tradition, not only to understand the scripture but even to hear it, and that's assuming they heard it in a language they could understand. Still if anybody come up with any I too will be interested to hear them.
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« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2012, 05:10:11 AM »

Oh, and I'm from the Deep South and can honestly attest to your characterization! No offense taken, it is correct!  Grin

A Russian Orthodox Christian in the Deep South? That must be horrible. I live in California which is one of the most diverse, liberal states in the country and is very historically significant in terms of Orthodoxy in America yet I still find it very challenging to be an Orthodox Christian in the environment with ultra Evangelicals and Protestants. I cannot imagine what it must be like in the South.
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« Reply #20 on: March 10, 2012, 06:54:23 AM »

Most protestants I have talked to just don't seem to care about Church history. Its a non issue to them and this can be just as bad as saying it's useless because they have no incentive to learn of it. Untill they ask themselves the question and seriously think on the matter "What did Christians believe after John and before Luther?" I can only see this attitude continuing.

Till then its the bible, the bible and nothing but the bible, except for some protestant commentary :|
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« Reply #21 on: March 10, 2012, 08:58:00 AM »

Most protestants I have talked to just don't seem to care about Church history. Its a non issue to them and this can be just as bad as saying it's useless because they have no incentive to learn of it. Untill they ask themselves the question and seriously think on the matter "What did Christians believe after John and before Luther?" I can only see this attitude continuing.

Till then its the bible, the bible and nothing but the bible, except for some protestant commentary :|

I have the same experience. They don't know and couldn't care less. They like believing what they want.
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« Reply #22 on: March 10, 2012, 04:55:11 PM »

I never understood how some Protestants could disregard history so much and truly not care. When I was a Protestant the thought of being a part of a Church that descended from the Apostles was a fantasy I would dream of, but I was under the delusion that there were none until I studied history and then when I found out that Orthodoxy was, I immediately knew I was going to be converting no matter what they believed. I took every Orthodox doctrine on trust because I believed and still believe that the Church is infallible as a whole.
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« Reply #23 on: March 10, 2012, 07:04:27 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.
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« Reply #24 on: March 10, 2012, 11:21:09 PM »

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

I've heard similar explanations, that the Bible is self-revealing and the NT would have been recognized regardless of any official recognition.

I've also heard:
"True Christianity ceased after Constantine converted"
"The Baptists were around since the beginning, but they were underground because they were persecuted by the institutional church"
"People didn't have their own copies of the Bible, so they just had to believe whatever the Church told them. Once they get their own Bibles they could read for themselves what it actually said and that the Church had it all wrong and was exploiting the people."
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« Reply #25 on: March 11, 2012, 12:17:36 AM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.
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« Reply #26 on: March 11, 2012, 01:37:30 AM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)
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« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2012, 02:14:34 AM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.
Couldn't be any truer.
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« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2012, 09:16:53 AM »

I never understood how some Protestants could disregard history so much and truly not care. When I was a Protestant the thought of being a part of a Church that descended from the Apostles was a fantasy I would dream of, but I was under the delusion that there were none until I studied history and then when I found out that Orthodoxy was, I immediately knew I was going to be converting no matter what they believed. I took every Orthodox doctrine on trust because I believed and still believe that the Church is infallible as a whole.

I don't know if I've ever met a Protestant who doesn't know about the Roman Catholic Church.
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« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2012, 09:17:40 AM »

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

I suppose you're already familiar with the Restorationist theory?
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« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2012, 09:26:23 AM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)

Others might still be thinking about replying.
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« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2012, 09:56:53 AM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)

Yes, Peter, I started this thread in hopes of having more Protestants in the conversation. My intent is not to set up straw men and have Orthodox knock them down. I've asked reasonable questions that have come to mind when I try to look at the prism of history with Protestant glasses. It has crossed my mind to post this on a Protestant forum, but I'm too lazy to register, and to be seen in some way as an Orthodox Alfred. Wink
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« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2012, 11:38:37 AM »

The reason these protestant lineage stories come about is to give credibility to the protestant churches. In other words. If the lineage is correct the church bases there credentials upon it and there very existence. I don't think anyone wants to be exposed as a fake. So the story will always fit existentially.
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« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2012, 12:06:43 PM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)

Yes, Peter, I started this thread in hopes of having more Protestants in the conversation. My intent is not to set up straw men and have Orthodox knock them down. I've asked reasonable questions that have come to mind when I try to look at the prism of history with Protestant glasses. It has crossed my mind to post this on a Protestant forum, but I'm too lazy to register, and to be seen in some way as an Orthodox Alfred. Wink

I think the only things fundamentally wrong with your questions is that "Protestant" is a fishnet term, lumping together Lutherans (and sometimes Anglicans), Methodists, Calvinists, Zwinglians, Pentecostals, and others.
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« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2012, 12:08:47 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

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« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2012, 01:29:02 PM »

What you have to realize is that Church history doesn't matter. The Apostles and Luke and Mark were only inspired while writing the books of the NT, but completely fallible at all other times, thus negating oral tradition. The Church recognized the Bible, but like the Apostles was only inspired while recognizing the Bible, despite being in serious error at the time of recognition (the error fully displayed by having all sorts of books in the Catholic Bible that aren't really in the Bible). Paul mentioned that there was error in the Church even in his day, setting up for the great apostasy of Catholicism right after John died, when true Christians went underground and had nothing to do with the so-called Catholics' error and ended up getting labeled as heretics for not listening to Rome, which truly was the leader of the entire Catholic church until those Greeks got all uppity in the 11th century. Good ole' fashioned Evangelicals existed in tandem the whole time, and eventually emerged after Luther and Calvin made Europe safe for different viewpoints, as Anabaptists. That's why most Evangelicals aren't really Protestants, unless they happen to be Lutherans or Presbyterians, because they were never part of the Catholic church to begin with.

You can't trust pre-Reformation Church history 'cause it was all written by Catholics.
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« Reply #36 on: March 11, 2012, 02:28:26 PM »

To be fair, I did respond to the first part of the OP with what my experience with church history as a Protestant was, and that experience isn't that far gone, I only gave up my ministerial credential in January.

Regarding what FormerReformer wrote ^ that's basically the way I heard it except add that things didn't stop at Luther because I came from a Charismatic background so those hidden Christians were Charismatic and we didn't really get back to the true Church til about 100 years ago. Also without the reference to the Greeks.
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« Reply #37 on: March 11, 2012, 02:36:12 PM »

Regarding what FormerReformer wrote ^ that's basically the way I heard it.... without the reference to the Greeks.

Heh, I've got to hand it to Pensacola Christian College's Abeka curriculum for k-12- they were hands down better than anything in the public schools (except in the sciences) and were extremely comprehensive in their high school world history course- thorough to the point that where they were wrong, they were thoroughly wrong.
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« Reply #38 on: March 11, 2012, 02:46:54 PM »

What you have to realize is that Church history doesn't matter. The Apostles and Luke and Mark were only inspired while writing the books of the NT, but completely fallible at all other times, thus negating oral tradition. The Church recognized the Bible, but like the Apostles was only inspired while recognizing the Bible, despite being in serious error at the time of recognition (the error fully displayed by having all sorts of books in the Catholic Bible that aren't really in the Bible). Paul mentioned that there was error in the Church even in his day, setting up for the great apostasy of Catholicism right after John died, when true Christians went underground and had nothing to do with the so-called Catholics' error and ended up getting labeled as heretics for not listening to Rome, which truly was the leader of the entire Catholic church until those Greeks got all uppity in the 11th century. Good ole' fashioned Evangelicals existed in tandem the whole time, and eventually emerged after Luther and Calvin made Europe safe for different viewpoints, as Anabaptists. That's why most Evangelicals aren't really Protestants, unless they happen to be Lutherans or Presbyterians, because they were never part of the Catholic church to begin with.

You can't trust pre-Reformation Church history 'cause it was all written by Catholics.

I can't remember how many times I heard that true Christians were persecuted by the Roman Church and thus went under ground until it was safe to come out, i.e. the Protestant Reformation. To give creedence to this theory I was also told to remember that Christians were labeled as secrective and accused of being a cannablistic cult since they always met in catacombs.
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« Reply #39 on: March 11, 2012, 02:51:13 PM »

What you have to realize is that Church history doesn't matter. The Apostles and Luke and Mark were only inspired while writing the books of the NT, but completely fallible at all other times, thus negating oral tradition. The Church recognized the Bible, but like the Apostles was only inspired while recognizing the Bible, despite being in serious error at the time of recognition (the error fully displayed by having all sorts of books in the Catholic Bible that aren't really in the Bible). Paul mentioned that there was error in the Church even in his day, setting up for the great apostasy of Catholicism right after John died, when true Christians went underground and had nothing to do with the so-called Catholics' error and ended up getting labeled as heretics for not listening to Rome, which truly was the leader of the entire Catholic church until those Greeks got all uppity in the 11th century. Good ole' fashioned Evangelicals existed in tandem the whole time, and eventually emerged after Luther and Calvin made Europe safe for different viewpoints, as Anabaptists. That's why most Evangelicals aren't really Protestants, unless they happen to be Lutherans or Presbyterians, because they were never part of the Catholic church to begin with.

You can't trust pre-Reformation Church history 'cause it was all written by Catholics.

I can't remember how many times I heard that true Christians were persecuted by the Roman Church and thus went under ground until it was safe to come out, i.e. the Protestant Reformation. To give creedence to this theory I was also told to remember that Christians were labeled as secrective and accused of being a cannablistic cult since they always met in catacombs.

That one was always funny to me- the "true Christians" met in catacombs, away from the eyes of the established Church, where they didn't do anything remotely Catholic- you know, like celebrate the Eucharist every time they met, or draw icons, or... oh dear.
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« Reply #40 on: March 11, 2012, 08:11:16 PM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)

Yes, Peter, I started this thread in hopes of having more Protestants in the conversation. My intent is not to set up straw men and have Orthodox knock them down.
Unfortunately, it seems that that's about the only thing going on on this thread. I'm seeing a lot of Orthodox comment on how they perceive Protestantism--as a former Protestant myself, I can agree that many of the perceptions are pretty accurate--but I'm not seeing but maybe one or two Protestants actually tell us how they view themselves. If the latter is what you really wanted, I think the way you crafted your questions invited only the former.
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« Reply #41 on: March 11, 2012, 08:29:54 PM »

What is the Protestant view of the history of Christianity and of the Church?

I grew up knowing about the Apostles and their taking the ministry to other nations, vaguely do I remember hearing about persecutions, the establishment of Christianity as the state religion of Rome, almost nothing of the various historical events that happened in the first 1000 years, little of the schism, and then my history picks back up with the corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the ushering in of the Protestant Reformation. That is a big 1500 year gap in history. I never thought much of how the Bible came to be what it is today for Protestants. I assumed the Apostles had written the New Testament scripture and in their lifetime the cannonical acceptance of the books had been developed. Only later did I find out that it took to the 5th century for the present list to be cannonical.

What does that mean to you regarding sola-scriputra? What did Christians rely on before that time? And given the fact that Gutenburg did not invent his printing press until the 14th century; what means did Christians have to rely on sola-scriptura to guide them in understanding Scripture? Are there any writings before the Protestant Reformation arguing for the Bible alone and the disregard for the established Tradition? How far do these writings go? I guess what I'm asking is, what contemporaries of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great or St. John Damascene can you point to that give you an understanding of Christians living out the Christian faith as you do?

Do you really want a dialogue with Protestants? ISTM the only replies you'll get with such a series of loaded questions as this are from those Orthodox who agree with you. (It also seems to me that those are the only replies you're getting so far, with the exception of alanscott.)

Yes, Peter, I started this thread in hopes of having more Protestants in the conversation. My intent is not to set up straw men and have Orthodox knock them down.
Unfortunately, it seems that that's about the only thing going on on this thread. I'm seeing a lot of Orthodox comment on how they perceive Protestantism--as a former Protestant myself, I can agree that many of the perceptions are pretty accurate--but I'm not seeing but maybe one or two Protestants actually tell us how they view themselves. If the latter is what you really wanted, I think the way you crafted your questions invited only the former.

Your opinion is duly noted. My questions were honest and not intended to have the effect you've recognized. I'll craft better questions that are more sensitive to Protestants next time. Thank you. I would like this thread to be open in the hopes of having a Protestant response though.
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« Reply #42 on: March 11, 2012, 08:51:42 PM »

Regarding what FormerReformer wrote ^ that's basically the way I heard it except add that things didn't stop at Luther because I came from a Charismatic background so those hidden Christians were Charismatic and we didn't really get back to the true Church til about 100 years ago. Also without the reference to the Greeks.

That's also a good explanation, but personally I'm kind of partial to the one I linked to

I suppose you're already familiar with the Restorationist theory?
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« Reply #43 on: March 11, 2012, 10:19:34 PM »

Regarding what FormerReformer wrote ^ that's basically the way I heard it except add that things didn't stop at Luther because I came from a Charismatic background so those hidden Christians were Charismatic and we didn't really get back to the true Church til about 100 years ago. Also without the reference to the Greeks.

That's also a good explanation, but personally I'm kind of partial to the one I linked to

I suppose you're already familiar with the Restorationist theory?
No slight intended, the vid. is very good indeed.  Grin
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« Reply #44 on: March 11, 2012, 10:31:27 PM »

Regarding what FormerReformer wrote ^ that's basically the way I heard it except add that things didn't stop at Luther because I came from a Charismatic background so those hidden Christians were Charismatic and we didn't really get back to the true Church til about 100 years ago. Also without the reference to the Greeks.

That's also a good explanation, but personally I'm kind of partial to the one I linked to

I suppose you're already familiar with the Restorationist theory?
No slight intended, the vid. is very good indeed.  Grin

Well, as regards the vid (which, Maximum Bob's addendum to my post regarding Charismatics is basically a simplified version of Restorationist theory), Restorationists make a certain type of unarguable sense- Landmarkists can be proven wrong just by glancing at the surviving writings of those they point to as being the "underground Church" independent of the "Catholic" writers aspersions, but you can't use history to argue against "the Church just kind of disappeared after John until the 19th Century when the truth of Evangelicalism was re-revealed". I mean, you can, but it will be about as useful as pointing out the Beatles and David Bowie to someone who believes rock'n roll ceased to exist from the death of Buddy Holly until the Ramones came along.
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« Reply #45 on: March 12, 2012, 10:35:29 AM »

I really cant blame the reformers really. They were not trying to be nefarious or anything. i think the reason why they did not look East is because of revisionist history.

Rome has tried to rewrite history for a long time. The way they taught it everyone left them (they still teach that).

My priest and I got into this talk on Sunday and he said that its unfortunate that the reformers did not look East, but it was to be expected.

However, I do find it odd that Church history stopped in 95 AD and picked up during Luther Smiley

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« Reply #46 on: March 12, 2012, 10:50:00 AM »

I really cant blame the reformers really. They were not trying to be nefarious or anything. i think the reason why they did not look East is because of revisionist history.

Rome has tried to rewrite history for a long time. The way they taught it everyone left them (they still teach that).

My priest and I got into this talk on Sunday and he said that its unfortunate that the reformers did not look East, but it was to be expected.

That last sentence is itself a historical revision.
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« Reply #47 on: March 12, 2012, 11:58:28 AM »

Dear Sir, I so wish I could better answer your questions. Religiously speaking I am somewhere between an infant and toddler at best. I'm happy to share my limited insight and perception though. Keeping in mind it is without authority, nor qualifications to do so, ok?

First let me clarify that Protestants in my perception do not consider themselves as 'one Church' divided over disagreements of theology, though in many cases that is how division happened. As it stands now I would say each denomination is more of a separate 'Church' kind of like Orthodox and the RCC are separate. Consider this: Theologically speaking in some ways I would consider the Church I currently pray at more in line with Orthodoxy than 'modern' Methodist for example, and far closer than Calvinist or Evangelical Protestants. It is simply not possible to give an all inclusive answer to your very legitimate questions. 

With all that being said, some reject more Oral Tradition than others. My perception as I have been learning is that the only Oral Traditions that should be completely rejected are that which cannot be confirmed through scripture, yes realizing scripture originally comes from The Church. Ex: Am I correct that the Immaculate Conception, and purgatory, has no Scriptural basis nor was it Oral Tradition prior to The Holy Bible being written? If so, that is why it is rejected. Notice how I start off with the clear cut easy ones I believe we would agree with.  Wink  It is prudent for me to remember Martin Luther was not as much objecting to Orthodoxy but the RCC. I may be showing my ignorance as Martin Luther may have had objections to Orthodoxy as well that I am not aware of yet.

As for The Cannons and Tradition that did exist prior to written Scripture that may be rejected by some, many, or all, or how the Church is trusted for Scripture but not necessarily everything else? My knowledge is simply too weak to answer confidently. I feel comfortable enough to say that in some cases though it is not a matter of rejecting Tradition, but simply not seeing some aspects as necessary to salvation or finding God, thus accepted but not practiced. I almost think to some extent that one reason The Church is subordinate to Scripture, though that Scripture comes from the Church, (quite the paradox I’m working with no?) has to do with what I earlier mentioned as an understandable knee jerk reaction. Could this have resulted in Protestants striping down Christianity to a core, rejecting everything that is not substantiated by Scripture, (yes, even though Scripture comes from the Church itself), and only applying what is deemed as necessary to faith and salvation in an attempt to protect oneself from the contamination of man? Until my knowledge reaches a point to learn otherwise I think that is a fair possibility. One of the first prayers I heard in an Orthodox sermon (on line) that I still repeat often goes; 'Lord God let me see You more clearly, past the misconceptions of man, but for who You truly are.' Clearly that prayer and sermon was written for us Protestants!  Smiley
 
Are we foolish to believe in Saints but not see it as necessary to pray to them? If Icons are a reminder of those that paved the way before us (oversimplification I realize) is it dangerous to think that The Cross in our Church or the one I keep in my pocket is sufficient to do the same? To be honest and fair we should ask ourselves how much ‘fullness’ is being missed though. Not long ago it would have been easy to excuse crossing ones self as an unnecessary physical act. Now that I have learned just a little of Christian Ontology, the connection between our mind, body, and soul, and only now learning of the ‘mysticism’ of the desert Fathers it might not be ‘necessary’ but I would hardly consider it merely a ritualistic physical action either.

Now that I have taken so much of your time without really answering any of your (our) questions allow me to make a personal ‘southern’ note of interest. My daughter recently moved to western N.C. I was truly amazed to see three Orthodox Churches in her immediate area. There are a couple Methodist, Presbyterian, a Nazarene I think, and more Baptist Crosses on the Google map than I could count. She has not visited the Orthodox nor could we find an ‘old school’ Wesleyan, but praise God she did find one she is comfortable at and has been attending.




 
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« Reply #48 on: March 12, 2012, 12:14:03 PM »

I really cant blame the reformers really. They were not trying to be nefarious or anything. i think the reason why they did not look East is because of revisionist history.

Rome has tried to rewrite history for a long time. The way they taught it everyone left them (they still teach that).

My priest and I got into this talk on Sunday and he said that its unfortunate that the reformers did not look East, but it was to be expected.

That last sentence is itself a historical revision.

For example, this is from the Second Answer of Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople to Tubingen, 1579,

Quote
O most wise German men and beloved children of our humble self, since, as sensible men, you wish with your whole heart to enter our most Holy Church, we, as affectionate fathers, willingly accept your love and friendliness, if you will follow the Apostolic and Synodal decrees in harmony with us and will submit to them. For then you will indeed be in communion with us, and having openly submitted to our holy and catholic church of Christ, you will be praised by all prudent men. ln this way the two churches will become one by the grace of God, we shall live together hereafter and we will exist together in a God-pleasing way until we attain the heavenly kingdom. May all of us attain it in Christ Jesus, to whom belongs glory unto the ages. Amen.

Written with the help of God, in Constantinople, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ 1576, 15 May, at the venerable Patriarchal Monastery of the Pammakaristos [All-Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary].

Jeremiah, by the mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch

Without getting into a big discussion of what came (or didn't come) from this, I believe the long and short of it is that they did not "follow the Apostolic and Synodal decrees in harmony with us and will submit to them" as the patriarch had asked.
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« Reply #49 on: March 12, 2012, 12:20:05 PM »

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

That's because that's what's true! Even the most liberal timeframes for NT authorship have everything being written by the early 200s; I believe a typical conservative dating knocks a century off that. Canon formation is not authorship; it's simply authorization, as it were.
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« Reply #50 on: March 12, 2012, 12:29:22 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

It remains the case that people who let their historical study drive their ecclesiology end up in a variety of places. John Cardinal Newman, for instance: the name speaks for itself. Maintaining the more extreme restorationist positions is difficult in the face of sufficient historical knowledge, but you know, most Protestant seminaries have history departments, and I suspect that those in the mainline denominations have a much wider scope than those in Orthodox seminaries, because they have to. Your church history is our church history too, after all.
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« Reply #51 on: March 12, 2012, 12:40:43 PM »


More recently, owing I think to more and better study by Protestant scholars, I've heard that the church started to fall apart sooner. I would say this is because more Protestants are actually starting to read some of the early Fathers and finding out that early Christianity doesn't fit their preconceived notions so it must have been corrupted earlier on.

Interestingly, there are Evangelical theologians who have studied the Fathers in order to see if the Bauer/Ehrman theory is correct. Two of them have debunked Bauer/Ehrman in The Heresy of Orthodoxy: How Contemporary Culture's Fascination with Diversity Has Reshaped Our Understanding of Early Christianity by Andreas J. Kostenberger (Director of Ph.D. Studies and Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) and Michael J. Kruger (Professor of New Testament and academic dean at Reformed Theological Seminary). The Amazon blurb on this seminal book is:

"Beginning with Walter Bauer in 1934, the denial of clear orthodoxy in early Christianity has shaped and largely defined modern New Testament criticism, recently given new life through the work of spokesmen like Bart Ehrman. Spreading from academia into mainstream media, the suggestion that diversity of doctrine in the early church led to many competing orthodoxies is indicative of today's postmodern relativism. Authors Köstenberger and Kruger engage Ehrman and others in this polemic against a dogged adherence to popular ideals of diversity.

Köstenberger and Kruger's accessible and careful scholarship not only counters the "Bauer Thesis" using its own terms, but also engages overlooked evidence from the New Testament. Their conclusions are drawn from analysis of the evidence of unity in the New Testament, the formation and closing of the canon, and the methodology and integrity of the recording and distribution of religious texts within the early church."

I will just add that the authors cited and agreed with Father John Behr (Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary) in a pivotal section of the book: essentially they concur that in all essential areas the Church was orthodox from the beginning to now. Also, I understand that one of the Baptist Seminaries has sent two of their graduates to St. Vladimir's for second Master of Divinity degrees.
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« Reply #52 on: March 12, 2012, 01:09:23 PM »

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.

That's because that's what's true! Even the most liberal timeframes for NT authorship have everything being written by the early 200s; I believe a typical conservative dating knocks a century off that. Canon formation is not authorship; it's simply authorization, as it were.


Sorry, but I don't see the relation between what you said and what Melodist said.

:thoughtful:
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« Reply #53 on: March 12, 2012, 01:15:54 PM »

Quote
My priest and I got into this talk on Sunday and he said that its unfortunate that the reformers did not look East, but it was to be expected
No, my priest and I did talk about this on Sunday Wink

In all seriousness, maybe I should clarify, as look East was not the best choice of words. I should have said that the Reformers ignored the East and tried to reinvent the wheel.

PP
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« Reply #54 on: March 12, 2012, 02:18:09 PM »

Let me stir the pot a bit. Father John Behr, Dean of St Vladimir's Seminary, gave a presentation on how the Early Church viewed the Scriptures, right after Sunday of Orthodoxy Vespers at our parish. His lecture may is available in audio format at http://www.stjohnoftheladder.org/AudioFiles/OrthodoxUnderstandingofScripture.mp3

Here is what I took from his outstanding presentation (in no particular order):

- Nobody had a complete book of the Holy Scriptures until after the invention of the printing press. The only places that held a more or less complete collection were the great libraries of the day.

- Holy Scriptures for the first millenium and a half were lectionary in nature and not the book that is familiar to us now. Basically, Christians heard the appointed Gospel and Epistles selections, as well as selections from the Old Testament (Septuagint from the start in the East). One only needs to know the Vespers and Matins selections to realize that very few books of the Old Testament were actually used, therefore known by the multitude of Christians until the 16th Century and later.

- There is no canon of the Holy Bible in the Orthodox Church, at least none in the form of a recorded act any of the Seven Ecumernical Councils (plus, the Council in Trullo), not withstanding the Council of Carthage, the list of St Athanasius, etc...

This means that even greater weight must be given to Holy Tradition, not less.
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« Reply #55 on: March 12, 2012, 02:43:56 PM »


Three links to explain it all:

The Canon of the Holy Bible

The Text of the Holy Bible

Protestant Myths About the "Deuterocanonical" Old Testament
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« Reply #56 on: March 12, 2012, 03:20:20 PM »

- There is no canon of the Holy Bible in the Orthodox Church, at least none in the form of a recorded act any of the Seven Ecumernical Councils (plus, the Council in Trullo), not withstanding the Council of Carthage, the list of St Athanasius, etc...

But there's canon of the New Testament, right?
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« Reply #57 on: March 12, 2012, 03:22:45 PM »

Quote
My priest and I got into this talk on Sunday and he said that its unfortunate that the reformers did not look East, but it was to be expected
No, my priest and I did talk about this on Sunday Wink

In all seriousness, maybe I should clarify, as look East was not the best choice of words. I should have said that the Reformers ignored the East and tried to reinvent the wheel.

PP

The Reformers ignored the East? My response is still the same:

For example, this is from the Second Answer of Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople to Tubingen, 1579,

Quote
O most wise German men and beloved children of our humble self, since, as sensible men, you wish with your whole heart to enter our most Holy Church, we, as affectionate fathers, willingly accept your love and friendliness, if you will follow the Apostolic and Synodal decrees in harmony with us and will submit to them. For then you will indeed be in communion with us, and having openly submitted to our holy and catholic church of Christ, you will be praised by all prudent men. ln this way the two churches will become one by the grace of God, we shall live together hereafter and we will exist together in a God-pleasing way until we attain the heavenly kingdom. May all of us attain it in Christ Jesus, to whom belongs glory unto the ages. Amen.

Written with the help of God, in Constantinople, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ 1576, 15 May, at the venerable Patriarchal Monastery of the Pammakaristos [All-Blessed Ever-Virgin Mary].

Jeremiah, by the mercy of God, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome, and Ecumenical Patriarch

Without getting into a big discussion of what came (or didn't come) from this, I believe the long and short of it is that they did not "follow the Apostolic and Synodal decrees in harmony with us and will submit to them" as the patriarch had asked.
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« Reply #58 on: March 12, 2012, 03:48:07 PM »

- There is no canon of the Holy Bible in the Orthodox Church, at least none in the form of a recorded act any of the Seven Ecumernical Councils (plus, the Council in Trullo), not withstanding the Council of Carthage, the list of St Athanasius, etc...

But there's canon of the New Testament, right?

I believe Father Behr said that the Council of Trent formalized the Roman Catholic canon in response to the Reformation. He did not go into detail, but I just looked it up on Wikipedia (therefore cannot vouch for its truthfulness) that "a decree was passed (fourth session) confirming that the deuterocanonical books were on a par with the other books of the canon (against Luther's placement of these books in the Apocrypha of his edition) and coordinating church tradition with the Scriptures as a rule of faith. The Vulgate translation was affirmed to be authoritative for the text of Scripture." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_of_Trent#Canons_and_decrees

Regarding an Orthodox "canon," I would point you to the post above from Nigula Qian Zishi  who has links to his own detailed study on his own wonderful site. I think the following quote of his would support the claim that we do not have a canon of the Holy Bible in the strict definition of the word, and, at the same time prove that the Orthodox praxis has been to use the same Bible that is now found in the Orthodox Study Bible:

"In all, there are six lists that collectively define what the Orthodox consider to be Holy Scripture: Canon LXXXV (85) of those handed down in the name of the Holy and Renowned Apostles; Canon LX (60) of the regional Council held in Laodicea ca. 364; Canon XXXII (32) of the regional Council of Carthageheld during the years ca. 418-424; the “39th Festival Epistle” of St. Athanasios the Great (+ 373), Archbishop of Alexandria; the “heroic verses” of St. Gregory the Theologian (+ 389), Archbishop of Constantinople; and the Verses of St. Amphilochios (+ ca. 403), Archbishop of Iconium, that were addressed to Seleucus."

http://nstanosheck.blogspot.com/2010/11/canon-of-holy-bible.html
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« Reply #59 on: March 12, 2012, 04:04:17 PM »

Behr's explanation is misleading. Medieval texts of the gospels are numerous; there are hundreds of surviving copies. Texts of the epistles are less common, but there are plenty of those as well. Of course laymen didn't generally have access to these, which was one of the issues driving the reformation in the first place. But with the advent of printing, that cat escaped the bag.
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« Reply #60 on: March 12, 2012, 04:11:19 PM »

Behr's explanation is misleading. Medieval texts of the gospels are numerous; there are hundreds of surviving copies. Texts of the epistles are less common, but there are plenty of those as well.

Quote
Nobody had a complete book of the Holy Scriptures until after the invention of the printing press. The only places that held a more or less complete collection were the great libraries of the day.

That's exactly what Behr is stating (keeping in mind it's Second Chance's paraphrase not a direct quote). Copies of the Gospels were fairly common. The Psalter and the Epistles a little less so. But that's 3 *separate* books before we even address anything from the OT outside the Psalter, and this at a time where 3 books was a fairly substantial investment. Behr doesn't say the Scriptures weren't around--just that a 'complete book of the Scriptures', what we today think of when we go buy a 'Bible with Old and New Testament' was really only to be found in major libraries. Elsewhere, people had segments.
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« Reply #61 on: March 12, 2012, 05:31:50 PM »

The typical Protestant explanation is that earlier generations of Christians didn't "set" the canon of scripture, but simply managed to "recognize" what was inspired regardless of whether or not those Christians interpreted that scripture correctly or were being obedient to it, at least for the NT.
That's because that's what's true! Even the most liberal timeframes for NT authorship have everything being written by the early 200s; I believe a typical conservative dating knocks a century off that. Canon formation is not authorship; it's simply authorization, as it were.
Sorry, but I don't see the relation between what you said and what Melodist said.

:thoughtful:

My post wasn't so much about when anyting was written, but the general acceptance and recognition of those writings as being divinely inspired scripture.

What I was trying to say is that while Protestants (in general, not any specific group, I know some may agree with some of these points) will accept that the fathers were correct in their acceptance of the NT canon will also disagree with the techings and practices of those same fathers when it comes down to believing that the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ, baptizing infants, recognizing baptism as the new birth, the ordination of bishops, priests, and deacons, apostolic succession of bishops as understood by ALL churches predating the reformation, referring to the Theotokos as Theotokos, her ever-virginity, synergism between God's call and man's response, veneration of icons and relics or even having them at all, veneration of and prayers to Mary, the angels, and the saints, liturgical worship, prayers for the departed, the sign of the cross... I think I've given enough examples to make my point.

And this doesn't even touch the groups that I don't even consider to be "Christian" in the general sense of the term, like those that deny the Trinity, the resurrection of the body, those that either deny or diminish Christ's divinity or humanity, or those that teach the pre-existence of the human soul, or anything else that may be a denial of the most fundamental truths that are generally accepted by most Protestants concerning the nature of God, man, or the incarnation.
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« Reply #62 on: March 12, 2012, 07:22:13 PM »

Behr's explanation is misleading. Medieval texts of the gospels are numerous; there are hundreds of surviving copies. Texts of the epistles are less common, but there are plenty of those as well.

Quote
Nobody had a complete book of the Holy Scriptures until after the invention of the printing press. The only places that held a more or less complete collection were the great libraries of the day.

That's exactly what Behr is stating (keeping in mind it's Second Chance's paraphrase not a direct quote). Copies of the Gospels were fairly common. The Psalter and the Epistles a little less so. But that's 3 *separate* books before we even address anything from the OT outside the Psalter, and this at a time where 3 books was a fairly substantial investment. Behr doesn't say the Scriptures weren't around--just that a 'complete book of the Scriptures', what we today think of when we go buy a 'Bible with Old and New Testament' was really only to be found in major libraries. Elsewhere, people had segments.

Thank you Witega;you are a gentleman and a scholar.
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« Reply #63 on: March 15, 2012, 02:04:32 PM »

Here is a request. After my return from Sicily (whither I set off in a few hours) I must prepare a talk explaining why we believe that Baptist churches are real Christian churches. This involves explaining why we do not follow the Orthodox line about the true church. I should prefer to give your side of the debate accurately, and I fear that, as an outsider, I might unintentionally distort it. Now if we can't win a debate without misrepresenting our opponent's position, in reality we have lost, haven't we? So let me invite you to tell me what I should tell my hearers that you believe - why you are and we are not proper Christian churches. Please try to be succinct, and to do it in your own words, not by referring me to books, articles, websites &c. Thank you.

(Please note: as I shall be away, I shall not be replying for quite a while here or anywhere else, but I shall read what you write.)
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« Reply #64 on: March 15, 2012, 02:22:37 PM »

Here is a request. After my return from Sicily (whither I set off in a few hours) I must prepare a talk explaining why we believe that Baptist churches are real Christian churches. This involves explaining why we do not follow the Orthodox line about the true church. I should prefer to give your side of the debate accurately, and I fear that, as an outsider, I might unintentionally distort it. Now if we can't win a debate without misrepresenting our opponent's position, in reality we have lost, haven't we? So let me invite you to tell me what I should tell my hearers that you believe - why you are and we are not proper Christian churches. Please try to be succinct, and to do it in your own words, not by referring me to books, articles, websites &c. Thank you.

(Please note: as I shall be away, I shall not be replying for quite a while here or anywhere else, but I shall read what you write.)

Upon your return will you agree to answer some of my questions that I've posted in the original post?

Let me think it over and I'll post my reason why I believe we are the orginial Christian Church founded in 33 A.D. (I'll try to have it by the end of the day)
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« Reply #65 on: March 16, 2012, 12:05:04 AM »

It really depends on which Protestant you ask.

Some, usually the older strings, will give you a history of the Church that will more or less agree with the RC or Orthodox history, but will also add in about hos the Church began turning away due to whatever influence (worldly power, heresy, etc.). Usually you'll see the turning point in the Reformation.

The American Evangelicals (especially the hyper-dispensationalists) will pretty much have a comparible history until about the beginning of the 2nd century. Then you see inserts about this-or-that apostacy being blamed on Polycarp, the Roman Church, Constantine, etc. Then you get all kinds of theories.

PP

But doesn't the whole Protestant argument about "sola scriptura" collapse when confronted with the fact that the Canon of Scripture was "closed" (more or less) around AD 397 (or thereabouts) and that that Canon was established by what is now (and was then, too) known as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church (i.e. what are *now* the Catholic and Orthodox Churches)?

Yes, that's what my question is more about.

If things derailed so quickly before the cannon was set, what is the Protestant response to that given the circumstances? Also, who are the writers/theologians before the Reformation that argued things were going down-hill in regards to all these doctrines creeping in. Basically, I'm asking for a trace back before the Reformation to their side of the argument.

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Thus, certain doctrines are obviously accepted while others are more spurious, especially if those doctrines were debated at the time and made tradition later on. The Greek influence helped to slowly distort some elements of truth, but not the entire thing. The Latin Church, however, became so corrupted to the point a Reformation was needed.

As for sola scriptura, the canon is irrelevant. The Holy Spirit guided these people in choosing the canon, thus it is still God establishing Scripture and not man. Therefore, Scripture still reigns supreme.

An alternative argument is to say that church polity was meant to change and that not everything that worked in the early church is meant to work for now. Thus, the church, in some ways, is always evolving (but not in matters of core doctrine).

That is the very condensed version of the Protestant explanation. Personally, I find Mr. Young's partial explanation to be a bit more plausible (and being a former Southern Baptist, I have an idea of where he's going with it). Long before I began moving towards Orthodoxy I was well-studied in Church history...but from the Protestant perspective. What changed it was reading primary sources. Ironically, reading the primary sources was encouraged by the Baptist college I went to.
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« Reply #66 on: March 16, 2012, 12:30:16 AM »

As for sola scriptura, the canon is irrelevant. The Holy Spirit guided these people in choosing the canon, thus it is still God establishing Scripture and not man. Therefore, Scripture still reigns supreme.

So the Holy Spirit was active in church doctrine in this isolated event?

An alternative argument is to say that church polity was meant to change and that not everything that worked in the early church is meant to work for now. Thus, the church, in some ways, is always evolving (but not in matters of core doctrine).

Of which "core doctrine" is itself debatable without a baseline.
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« Reply #67 on: March 16, 2012, 12:54:12 AM »

I was raised in the Assembly of God denomination and while that period was a long time ago, I got the impression that they generally don't know much about that time frame.  I still am friends and work with a great many of them and the earliest they generally know is the time of the Reformation.  I'm sure some of the more educated of them do know a little, but it's not really important for their theology so they largely ignore it.  Plus, it's my impression that they turn a deaf ear/blind eye to that time as they believe much of it is Roman Catholic. After all, they've invented the whole rapture idea, send missionaries to Christian Russia, etc...
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« Reply #68 on: March 16, 2012, 05:49:17 AM »

I'm drafting up a reply now, David, to your request. Once I feel it is adequate I will see if it is worthy to post or not. I appreciate that you don't want to distort our position and I don't want to make an incoherent argument. As you request, I will not appeal to outside sources to validate my argument.
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« Reply #69 on: March 16, 2012, 10:39:03 AM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?
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« Reply #70 on: March 16, 2012, 11:02:27 AM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?

At least on the matter of bishops, I know that some Protestants make a rather good case that overseer and elder don't really denote two separate types of ministers within the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, it doesn't explain the current reality that all existing modern-day Christian groups with any sort of historical continuity which can be traced back to Pentecost either have bishops or broke away from a group which has bishops.
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« Reply #71 on: March 16, 2012, 11:08:09 AM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?

At least on the matter of bishops, I know that some Protestants make a rather good case that overseer and elder don't really denote two separate types of ministers within the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, it doesn't explain the current reality that all existing modern-day Christian groups with any sort of historical continuity which can be traced back to Pentecost either have bishops or broke away from a group which has bishops.
Do they explain St. Polycarp or St. Ignatius too?
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« Reply #72 on: March 16, 2012, 11:13:45 AM »


Do they explain St. Polycarp or St. Ignatius too?
A couple of years ago I tossed into the garbage a church history book (don't remember title or author) that did look at St Ignatius only to point out that the Church had fallen into error with bishops, etc. in the very first generation after the Apostles.
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« Reply #73 on: March 16, 2012, 11:21:20 AM »


Do they explain St. Polycarp or St. Ignatius too?
A couple of years ago I tossed into the garbage a church history book (don't remember title or author) that did look at St Ignatius only to point out that the Church had fallen into error with bishops, etc. in the very first generation after the Apostles.

Wow! laugh
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« Reply #74 on: March 16, 2012, 11:23:55 AM »


Do they explain St. Polycarp or St. Ignatius too?
A couple of years ago I tossed into the garbage a church history book (don't remember title or author) that did look at St Ignatius only to point out that the Church had fallen into error with bishops, etc. in the very first generation after the Apostles.

Wow! laugh

that's one approach, another is to deny the authenticity of St. Ignatius writings wholesale (or even his existence), and say that all the other ECF's were proto-protestants adhering to a primitive form of sola scriptura by selectively quote mining them for any references they make towards scriptures.
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« Reply #75 on: March 16, 2012, 11:46:18 AM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?

At least on the matter of bishops, I know that some Protestants make a rather good case that overseer and elder don't really denote two separate types of ministers within the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, it doesn't explain the current reality that all existing modern-day Christian groups with any sort of historical continuity which can be traced back to Pentecost either have bishops or broke away from a group which has bishops.

You should show them the appointment of the first deacons in Acts. Clearly the New Testament church had both deacons and bishops.
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« Reply #76 on: March 16, 2012, 01:02:19 PM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?

At least on the matter of bishops, I know that some Protestants make a rather good case that overseer and elder don't really denote two separate types of ministers within the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, it doesn't explain the current reality that all existing modern-day Christian groups with any sort of historical continuity which can be traced back to Pentecost either have bishops or broke away from a group which has bishops.

You should show them the appointment of the first deacons in Acts. Clearly the New Testament church had both deacons and bishops.

Yes, they would agree. They just wouldn't agree that overseer and elder were two different offices. This is the case with LCMS, if I recall, where they have deacons and priests but no bishops.
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« Reply #77 on: March 16, 2012, 02:53:48 PM »

Perhaps you could fill me in a little on the Orthodox understanding. My understanding has always been that for a while the early church had only bishops and deacons, whereas priests-who-were-not-bishops came a bit later.
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« Reply #78 on: March 16, 2012, 03:05:13 PM »

Perhaps you could fill me in a little on the Orthodox understanding. My understanding has always been that for a while the early church had only bishops and deacons, whereas priests-who-were-not-bishops came a bit later.
This is my understanding as well. In this episode within the podcast "Speaking the Truth in Love", Fr Thomas Hopko IIRC, describes that originally there was one bishop/priest in a city. As the Christian population grew, there would remain one bishop in a city who would have deputies (priests as we know them today) to care for additional congregations.

(If it's not exactly that episode it's one nearby - I didn't take time to listen through it.)
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« Reply #79 on: March 16, 2012, 03:12:55 PM »

Perhaps you could fill me in a little on the Orthodox understanding. My understanding has always been that for a while the early church had only bishops and deacons, whereas priests-who-were-not-bishops came a bit later.
...originally there was one bishop/priest in a city. As the Christian population grew, there would remain one bishop in a city who would have deputies (priests as we know them today) to care for additional congregations.


That's because in the beginning there would be only one Christian "congregation" in an area.
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« Reply #80 on: March 16, 2012, 03:29:31 PM »

Perhaps you could fill me in a little on the Orthodox understanding. My understanding has always been that for a while the early church had only bishops and deacons, whereas priests-who-were-not-bishops came a bit later.
This is my understanding as well. In this episode within the podcast "Speaking the Truth in Love", Fr Thomas Hopko IIRC, describes that originally there was one bishop/priest in a city. As the Christian population grew, there would remain one bishop in a city who would have deputies (priests as we know them today) to care for additional congregations.

That sounds right.
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« Reply #81 on: March 16, 2012, 04:17:51 PM »

As for sola scriptura, the canon is irrelevant. The Holy Spirit guided these people in choosing the canon, thus it is still God establishing Scripture and not man. Therefore, Scripture still reigns supreme.

So the Holy Spirit was active in church doctrine in this isolated event?

An alternative argument is to say that church polity was meant to change and that not everything that worked in the early church is meant to work for now. Thus, the church, in some ways, is always evolving (but not in matters of core doctrine).

Of which "core doctrine" is itself debatable without a baseline.

Not in this isolated event. The argument is that the Holy Spirit was active in all major church decisions. Many evangelicals still hold the councils in high regard, though the later the council, the less regard it holds. Not all evangelicals are anti-tradition, but rather value tradition when compared to Scripture. Thus, the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the like are accepted as core facts. Others, such as crossing ourselves, the literal blood and body of Christ, issues around Mary, aren't viewed as Scriptural and are therefore viewed as false or unnecessary.

As for "core doctrine" being debatable, I agree with you. I think the modern "emergent movement" or "postmodern Christianity" simply takes Protestantism to its logical end where everything is questioned. However, some evangelicals would put forth a good argument that some aspects must be accepted, even if they are debated.

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« Reply #82 on: March 16, 2012, 04:19:10 PM »

The Protestant argument, at least within the evangelical community, is as follows:

The early Christian writings are valuable, but should also be evaluated against Scripture. In fact, the strongest arguments the Church Fathers offered - the Trinity, Incarnation, holiness, etc - were all met with Scriptural backing in their own time. Other aspects, such as having Bishops, the sacraments, and the like, had less Scriptural backing.

Having bishops and sacraments isn't clearly in the Scriptures?

At least on the matter of bishops, I know that some Protestants make a rather good case that overseer and elder don't really denote two separate types of ministers within the New Testament Scriptures. Of course, it doesn't explain the current reality that all existing modern-day Christian groups with any sort of historical continuity which can be traced back to Pentecost either have bishops or broke away from a group which has bishops.

You should show them the appointment of the first deacons in Acts. Clearly the New Testament church had both deacons and bishops.

There would be one of two responses. They'd either offer the exegetical response that Cavar is talking about, or they'd say, "That worked for then, but not now; polity isn't meant to be a 'one-size-fits-all' kind of thing."

Of course the irony is how many modern churches are beginning to function. A megachurch will develop "satellite" churches around the city, where the pastor of the "mother church" serves as the head pastor for all of the small churches, but each small church has their own pastor and functions as an independent church. They simply use collective funds.

In some ways, it's very similar to having a Bishop (senior pastor) who appoints the pastors to the small churches; the collective congregations choose the senior pastor, but the senior pastor chooses the local pastors. This structure has led to a debate in many Baptist circles over whether or not this violates their idea of an autonomous church; it's quite entertaining for me to watch. Smiley
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« Reply #83 on: March 22, 2012, 01:03:29 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.
Or in my case a former Southern Baptist and former Orthodox Catechumen.  Wink
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« Reply #84 on: March 22, 2012, 01:06:58 PM »

oopsie
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« Reply #85 on: March 22, 2012, 03:39:25 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.
Or in my case a former Southern Baptist and former Orthodox Catechumen.  Wink

Perhaps ialmisry meant a Protestant who 'truly' learns Church History.
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« Reply #86 on: March 22, 2012, 03:40:45 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?
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« Reply #87 on: March 22, 2012, 04:02:04 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?

I think value is assigned to other factors, perhaps?
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« Reply #88 on: March 22, 2012, 10:21:57 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?

They don't exist, as we all know.  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #89 on: March 22, 2012, 10:24:23 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?

Misinformed westerner
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« Reply #90 on: March 22, 2012, 10:37:39 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?
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« Reply #91 on: March 22, 2012, 10:47:41 PM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?
Stubborn

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« Reply #92 on: March 23, 2012, 08:07:01 AM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?
Stubborn

Interesting. I was expecting more of a no-true-scotsman argument, say, "they didn't really learn Church history".
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« Reply #93 on: March 23, 2012, 09:54:44 AM »

What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History?  An Orthodox Catechumen.

Then what about the ones who become Roman Catholic?
Stubborn

Interesting. I was expecting more of a no-true-scotsman argument, say, "they didn't really learn Church history".

See, I got it wrong as well. I thought the correct answer was "agnostic"  Grin
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« Reply #94 on: March 25, 2012, 11:52:53 AM »

Thank y'all for these. I am back from Sicily and shall peruse them over the coming days.
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« Reply #95 on: March 30, 2012, 01:42:51 PM »

Upon your return will you agree to answer some of my questions that I've posted in the original post?

It's a longish thread. You'd better ask the questions again, or at least point me to the ones you have in mind; and you must accept that my answer may be, "I don't know."
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