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Author Topic: Closed Canon: What's the point?  (Read 1932 times) Average Rating: 0
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Doubting Thomas
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« on: April 12, 2005, 02:06:08 PM »

I was lurking on the Baptistboard today, and an advocate of sola Scriptura asked an interesting question: "What's the point of even having a closed canon of Scripture if the writings of fathers, creeds, councils are equally authoritative? Or conversely: "Since the teachings/writings of the Church since the completion of the NT are appealed to for correct doctrines, how can one say the canon is closed?"

How would the Orthodox respond to this? For historically, the canon was (more or less) closed at the end of the 4th century and/or beginning of the 5th. This particular Baptist seemed to argue, for instance, that since: (a)the Scripture doesn't specifically spell out a supernatural "change" in the elements of the bread and wine to the Body and Blood, and since (b)that belief is only found in writings of the fathers after the NT was written, that these post-NT writings really should have no bearing on interpreting the NT because: (1)the canon is confined only to the NT, and therefore: (2) any belief in"change" (as opposed to metaphor) is an addition to the faith and is thus a deviation from it. I've tried arguing with this guy that the REAL PRESENCE is the Biblical teaching, especially given the straight forward language involved (eg John 6, I Corinthians 10:16-17 and 11:23-30), but he would have none of it, alleging a gradual deviation of the true NT interpretation based on the fact that the word "change" doesn't appear in the NT and only appears in the 2nd century. Any thoughts about this particular allegation?
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icxn
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2005, 02:53:21 PM »

Any thoughts about this particular allegation?

Eh... thoughts? HmmGǪ how about a deal? You tell your friend that we wholeheartedly agree with him keeping the metaphorical Jesus and we will continue partaking of the real Jesus.

Howzat for a deal?
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2005, 03:40:46 PM »

Good point.

How about any thoughts regarding the significance of the "closed canon"? Anyone?
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Fr. David
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2005, 04:00:23 PM »

Well, I'm not actually contributing to stuff during Lent, but I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to DT!   

:brew:

:wave2:
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2005, 04:07:09 PM »

Well, I'm not actually contributing to stuff during Lent, but I just wanted to say Happy Birthday to DT!

:brew:

:wave2:
Heh,heh, heh...Thanks, brother! Smiley
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lpap
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2005, 04:48:32 PM »

The Baptist is right by his own way of living his life.

He thinks that Christ has gone for now and He shall return in the future.

There is no need to ask the friends of Christ, the saints of Church, because by himself has made a pact with Christ to be personally informed about anything regarding the faith by the Holy Spirit. If he needs guidance all that he needs is just to pray and the Holy Spirit will kindly respond. That is the baptist's life.

He asks for an answer that is already given by the way he lives his life. He does not need anything and anyone. He is the canon himself.
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lellimore
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2005, 04:49:31 PM »

You're friend's bit about the Eucharist is rather odd. If I handed you a piece of ice and said, "This is ice," would you assume I was speaking metaphorically because I didn't say, "This has been changed from liquid water to ice"? Really, I don't know how St. Paul could have been more clear when he said that people will be judged for eating without "discerning the body".
As to the closed canon, a lot of the Fathers talked about the sufficiency of Scripture to teach all necessary doctrine, but emphasized the need to discern the "pattern" beneath Scripture. St. Irenaios especially taught this, saying that the "rule of faith" was necessary as an interpretive principle.
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troy
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2005, 05:22:22 PM »

Perhaps you could ask the Baptist why he accepts the NT Canon when the Church that established it also put forth the idea of the real presence in the Eucharist. You really can't have both-either you accept the authority of the Church to make the canon (and thus the Church should also have the authority to interpret it), or you start compiling your own canon.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2005, 05:52:55 PM »

Doubting Thomas,

I've said a lot of what I'm prepared to say on the canon at this thread. The only further points I will make are... First, the idea of a fixed canon has never, and will never, bring about doctrinal unity or agreement. Orthodoxy is the only group that still allows some degree of disagreement as to what constitutes the canon, and yet they are one of the most stable (if not THE most stable) doctrinally.  Second, the Scripture is sufficient, but as St. Vincent of Lerins says, because people disagree there must be something outside of Scripture to interpret it. Put another way, the Bible is a meaningless text, even if infallible, without an interpreter. And third, we don't create doctrines that contradict Scripture, and no one would say that the Fathers are on the same level as Scripture; we merely cite them as articulating what the early Christians believed, or at least were not against. We are in this way no different than every other Christian group; if the fellow disagrees you can ask him where the Bible says to talk about theology on the internet. Smiley
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2005, 08:26:34 AM »

Perhaps you could ask the Baptist why he accepts the NT Canon when the Church that established it also put forth the idea of the real presence in the Eucharist. You really can't have both-either you accept the authority of the Church to make the canon (and thus the Church should also have the authority to interpret it), or you start compiling your own canon.
Very good point.
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Doubting Thomas
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« Reply #10 on: April 13, 2005, 08:29:52 AM »

Doubting Thomas,

I've said a lot of what I'm prepared to say on the canon at this thread. The only further points I will make are... First, the idea of a fixed canon has never, and will never, bring about doctrinal unity or agreement. Orthodoxy is the only group that still allows some degree of disagreement as to what constitutes the canon, and yet they are one of the most stable (if not THE most stable) doctrinally. Second, the Scripture is sufficient, but as St. Vincent of Lerins says, because people disagree there must be something outside of Scripture to interpret it. Put another way, the Bible is a meaningless text, even if infallible, without an interpreter. And third, we don't create doctrines that contradict Scripture, and no one would say that the Fathers are on the same level as Scripture; we merely cite them as articulating what the early Christians believed, or at least were not against. We are in this way no different than every other Christian group; if the fellow disagrees you can ask him where the Bible says to talk about theology on the internet. Smiley
Good answers. (I can't believe I forgot about St. Vincent of Lerins!) I particularly like the statement about citing the fathers "as articulating what the early Christians believed, or at least were not against".
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"My Lord and My God!"--Doubting Thomas, AD 33
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