Friday, February 23, 2007

Why not restore communion?

It's precisely b/c of the mindset revealed by followers of Rome and Constantinople in biblical discussion that the notion of reuniting w/ them in spiritual communion is unthinkable for the believer in the faith revealed in the Bible.
Consider the convo I had just last night w/ an EO acquaintance (not him but rather a mutual friend) over AIM chat.
We small talked a bit about our pasts and his seminary experience and such (he has an MDiv from an Eastern Orthodox seminary and is EO himself). I then expressed my thankfulness for my local church and for the fact that we are not following a large trend in the SBC (discussed often here, here, and here as well as numerous other places).
Which led him to share about his experience at his EO baptism. Which led me to ask him whether he shares that testimony and the Gospel w/ unbelievers. His answer began to indicate a problem: Not usually directly, but he invites people to come to church or to pray, and he tells them that his faith in Christ has changed his life.

Is that the Gospel, friends?

So I asked him about that, commenting that people do need to hear the Gospel. (The fact that the Gospel is "the power of God" went unmentioned, but that's why I said that.)
He protested that this can be too direct, that he was "not sure that being more direct would necessarily work", that such an approach might alienate the unbeliever more.
Now, perhaps he meant just walking up to people and cold-preaching at them, and I can understand his thinking, though I'm unconvinced that such an approach is necessarily wrong. But I DID bring up the fact that unbelievers are "enemies of God" by bringing up Romans 8:6-8.
ME: "if they loved Him then they would love His Son and they would be Christians"
ME (later): more curious about how you interpret "the sinful mind is hostile to God" as anythg other than that; i just quoted the psg, didn't interp it at all

And that's the key - I quoted Scripture to him several times, and each time he responded w/ what boils down to "your interpretation is wrong". But friends, I didn't interpret it at all! I just quoted it, he felt the force of the divine words and tried to squirm away from them. No wonder Heb 4:12 is in there too.
He then asked me how I can assume off the bat that people hate God. I pointed out that Rom 8 says the mind set on the flesh is death.
This brought us to the crux of the matter, and I'll paraphrase:
HE: If someone is seeking the truth
ME: enemies of God are not seeking, no one seeks God
HE: That is ridiculous. (Now I will quote him:) "that is totally heretical"
ME: you just called a direct quotation from Romans 3 heretical
HE: You took that out of context.
ME: the very next verse explains: 19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. i don't deny that He calls all
HE: That is talking about Jews.
ME: But it says "EVERY MOUTH." Talk about missing context. You can't even see it in the same verse.

Now, I don't think that he really believes the Apostle Paul to have been a heretic, but notice his visceral reaction to my quoting Scripture to him to the effect that all men are enemies of God, hate God, and are not seeking Him. To him the obvious conclusion of the Romans 3 passage is a terrible, heretical idea!
This is what the Lord Jesus warned us about - putting the traditions of men over the Word of God.
Do we react violently against what God has said? Do we jump to calling it evil, overly pious, too rigorous? Are we not putting ourselves in the unenviable position of judging the Judge of the universe?
As long as this attitude prevails among our Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox friends, that's all they will remain - friends. I cannot call brother one who rejects the Word of God in such a way. May God help him.

18 comments:

Moth said...

I agree with some of what you're saying... it's just that you're so damn pompous with it. You really seem to go out of your way to belittle people. Does it feel that way to you? Or is that an American thing?

Moth said...

Gosh another post from you. There's no cheek turning. It's all eye for eye stuff. Is that pride?

Moth said...

--Looking through other blogs
>>You mean "ANother blog" singular, right?

Troy's and your blog constitute a plural.

And hey, I know my writing isn't perfect but I was highlighting the point already that neither of us write 'perfectly'. Again, no cheek turning from you.

Moth said...

That pretty much hallmarks you as a bit of a pretentious, patronising prat
>>Now, that remark probably doesn't qualify as loving by either of our definitions.

I'm not loving... I'm sometimes quite nasty, but in your case I suppose you imagine you can wipe your slate clean with the next prayer and belittle other people all over again. You pity me and I amuse you. Not to be racist, but this seems to be an American attitude.

Moth said...

Exiting exegesis energetically

Verb noun adverb

Rhology said...

Hi Moth,

Welcome!
Pompous? Would you mind giving some examples?
Do you count pointing out errors as pompous? I really don't see what you mean, but if you point it out to me, that would be helpful.
Let me say that I really do appreciate your willingness to go farther than the simple Block Comments option. I think that's really big of you. And over at my blog I allow all comments, so on that we have sthg in common.

You know, it may be an American thing to be pompous. ;-) Troy has been intellectually dishonest w/ me and has avoided me, but I wouldn't chalk that up to an Australian thing. For one thing, I've known too many cool Australians. :-D

--cheek turning
>>I hate to bring this up again, since it seems to irritate you, but I must.
The only context in which I can take the statement "cheek turning" is the biblical way, and since 1) you have admitted you don't do exegesis well and 2) you didn't use that expression correctly here, I'd have to say that I've not had opportunity to engage in "cheek turning".
"Eye for eye" - also an exegetical thing. I don't think this is a mud-throwing or insult contest, and I hope you don't take it that way. I'm trying to have a discussion w/ someone who:
1) posts his thoughts about Christianity
2) on a blog w/ a polemic nature and a polemical name
3) who has thereby opened himself up to debate from those who disagree (like me)
4) and who has thus far shown willingness to discuss, in line w/ the nature of his blog.

So no, I don't take this as pride. More of a concern for the truth being presented to readers.

Peace,
ALAN

Rhology said...

Moth,

--Troy's and your blog constitute a plural.
>>Ah, indeed they do. I stand corrected.

--I was highlighting the point already that neither of us write 'perfectly'.
>>OK. I don't think I ever claimed that I write perfectly, but it's fine either way.

--I'm not loving... I'm sometimes quite nasty
>>OK, as long as both understand that.

--I suppose you imagine you can wipe your slate clean with the next prayer
>>What have I done wrong? I have asked this several times, and I guess I'm getting a little tired of all the accusations. Would you mind explaining the charge before the verdict comes in?

--belittle other people all over again
>>Where did I belittle you? In that you amuse me? That I pity you? Does that make you feel small or sthg? I don't mean it to.
1) You amuse me b/c I enjoy discussing these things.
2) I pity you b/c you are an apostate from the truth and you don't love Jesus, Who has done so much for you. But you keep spitting in His face. He doesn't take kindly to spit in His face (Psalm 2).

Now, I'll admit you amuse me also b/c you continually spout blog posts that don't make any rational sense. But,
1) my pity overtakes my amusement, I assure you.
2) God Himself is laughing at you (Psalm 2) so I don't see why I can't or shouldn't
3) I'd be really very interested in knowing how I can be sure, according to your own worldview, that being amused by you or even belittling you is morally wrong. Could you help me out w/ understanding that?

--Exiting exegesis energetically
>>OK, so you are in the process of departing (exiting) from exegesis. OK. I took it to be a misspelling of "exciting".

--Not to be racist, but this seems to be an American attitude.
>>"American" is not a race, so I don't take it as racist. I do take it as irrational and grossly over-general, though.

Looks like my most recent response has not been posted on your blog yet, though you have taken the time to post 3-4 comments on my own blog. Hopefully my patience (and I'm not saying you should answer me even w/in a week or anythg, I'm just saying I hope you post the comments eventually rather than blocking them in a cowardly way like Troy did) will see me justified in giving you all the credit I did for not backing away from a good discussion/debate.

Peace,
ALAN

Moth said...

Oh my gosh! You have so much bloggin' energy! This is but a play toy for me to spit out some thoughts before bed but you seem to take me as some thing to be taken apart word by word.

I truly don't often have the energy to research anything to keep up with your game, but even silence on my part feels like I'm playing into your hands. And that's what it feels like. I"m not sure if I have the energy to even try to garner something that would come close to your level of intellectuality, I can admit that.

You're a person. A good person with a heart and mind, and why should you be ignored? I just don't know if I can be bothered atm.

You're fascinating guy, to be sure. Pompousness is just a general feeling. I can back that up as equally as I can back up homosexuality as being a genetic trait... or god being a reality.

Take care and be nice.

Rhology said...

Hi Moth,

--This is but a play toy for me to spit out some thoughts before bed but you seem to take me as some thing to be taken apart word by word.
>>Well, it doesn't come across that way really, since you're constantly attacking Christianity, so it seems like a fairly serious matter from where I stand. But I'll take your word for it.

--I truly don't often have the energy to research anything to keep up with your game,
>>OK, I don't have a problem w/ that.

--even silence on my part feels like I'm playing into your hands
>>What I'm trying to say here is that I'm fine w/ it if you don't have time, energy, or desire to continue debating these things or necessarily anything w/ me. I don't fault you for that.
I guess I do fault you for, as mentioned, hosting a blog that makes these attacks. And not just sometimes, but post after post after post. It's not like I'm trolling a blog that spends 95% of its time and words discussing piano or cooking and popping in to tell you that you're going to Hell or sthg.
And my challenges have met no answer, so I guess the reader can decide what cases have been made and how well blogging time and energy have been managed.

So, OK, I won't bug you to keep making answers, and I apologise if I irritated you in my behavior or words. I guess my manner of writing can come across as pompous and aggressive sometimes.
You're welcome to comment on my blog anytime.

Peace,
ALAN

Turi said...

uh... not to distract anybody from the conversation... but in response to your actual post: do you see your friend as typical of historical Eastern Orthodox and Catholic theology? How so? I mean, he pretty obviously was uncomfortable with large swathes of Christianity 101, and this is something of a problem. But most of the official Catholic dogma that I've read - I know far less about the Eastern tradition - would agree with your post. This is where we get the Jesuits and Dominicans, who were if you recall pretty enthusiastic about spreading the Word. (They got a little carried away and conquered South America in the process, but it's the thought that counts.)

I think there's a lot more of the hearty New England Unitarian in your friend's response than anything from Constantinople.

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not trying to say that the other churches are all right. I just think this was a pretty lumpy swipe.

Rhology said...

Hey Turi,

Here's to cappuccino and gelato!
No problem - interrupt anytime.

--do you see your friend as typical of historical Eastern Orthodox and Catholic theology?
>>Yes. How could it be otherwise? Obviously I don't believe that they explicitly believe the Apostle Paul to be a heretic, but again, we can see from the way this chatter responded to an non-explicitly identified psg of the NT that it ran so contrary to the way that he believes. And the way he believes is unquestionably defined by his tradition. At the base, no problem w/ "tradition", but *his* tradition leads him to a place where he reacts against the Apostle Paul's teaching, and one of the foundations of the biblical position on the justification of the guilty sinner, w/ horror. "That's totally heretical!"

--But most of the official Catholic dogma that I've read
>>Problem is, there are varying schools of Catholic dogma, so it's impossible to identify explicitly "Roman Catholicism".

--would agree with your post.
>>You know Roman Catholics who agree w/ the position of total depravity? I'd be interested to know about that.

--This is where we get the Jesuits and Dominicans, who were if you recall pretty enthusiastic about spreading the Word.
>>Jesuits don't spread the Word - as far as I'm concerned, they are too far from the Gospel that I don't call them Christian missionaries at all. In Japan, where St Francis Xavier (San Francisco Javier) landed as the first "Christian" missionary, I did my best to point that he bore the name "Christian" but what he didn't preach was that most important doctrine - the Gospel.

--I think there's a lot more of the hearty New England Unitarian in your friend's response than anything from Constantinople.
>>During my extensive interaction w/ him and w/ other EOx, I have noticed a lot of similarities, which surprised me.

--I just think this was a pretty lumpy swipe.
>>Thanks for stopping by. You're welcome anytime.

Peace,
ALAN

Turi said...

Granted, the Jesuits are probably not a great model of God-honouring evangelism. I was just trying to point out that whatever their issues, they pretty obviously believed that all men needed to hear the Gospel, albeit in rather truncated form, and this is why so many Jesuits wound up martyred in Japan, Canadia, South America, et cet. That was my point: the Catholics certainly have doctrinal issues, but historically (pre-Vatican II) they've been pretty clear that people are wicked and that God is not a galactic teddy bear. That is a modern creation, and in my opinion fairly ecumenical.

Your friend may have had something specific in his tradition that refuted (or was shattered on, depending upon your perspective) Romans 3. But it seems more likely to me that the EO's failing is more general: he hadn't been taught to read the Bible, and so filled the gap with his own modernist pre-conceptions. But perhaps not, maybe you know better - EO's have really pretty sepulchres (er, churches) - and that's the high-water mark of my knowledge on the subject.

I based my comment on Dante, Aquinas, and a recent edition of The Catholic Encyclopaedia. Yes, there are different schools within Catholicism, but that doesn't mean generalisations can't be helpful - that's essentially what your blog is, after all.

It depends on what you mean by total depravity. There are certainly a fair mob of Catholics I've read who would tell you they did, and would seem to from every conceivable approach. It seems to come down pretty frequently to questions of intent - for example, when a fellow writes in 1100 that there is no salvation apart from the church, do we take him to mean 'the hierarchy of this specific organisation, based in Rome or Avignon as the case may be'; or 'the eternal body of Christ'? He might not be able to imagine belonging to a different church, but that is not the same thing as asserting Papal Infallibility and the Tradition over Scripture.

Now of course at Trent it wasn't especially complicated - I have to remind myself sometimes that the Rome kept writing things after 1350. More's the pity. I think all I really meant to say is that the errors of the Catholics, at least, are a little more sophisticated than flat rejection of the text.

Rhology said...

Turi,

I am less familiar w/ historic RC theology, but to be sure, the modern version of RC theology is very much ecumenical.
Consider the Catechism of the CC:

841 The Church's relationship with the Muslims. "The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day."

842 The Church's bond with non-Christian religions is in the first place the common origin and end of the human race:

All nations form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth, and also because all share a common destiny, namely God. His providence, evident goodness, and saving designs extend to all against the day when the elect are gathered together in the holy city. . .

843 The Catholic Church recognizes in other religions that search, among shadows and images, for the God who is unknown yet near since he gives life and breath and all things and wants all men to be saved. Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."

--
1260 "Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery."63 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.



--Your friend may have had something specific in his tradition that refuted (or was shattered on, depending upon your perspective) Romans 3.
>>Indeed - his tradition teaches him that men are not totally depraved before God.

--he hadn't been taught to read the Bible
>>He is a convert from evangelicalism, and while he (and most other EOx I've talked to) shows a poor ability to exegete the Scripture, even when corrected neither he nor the others accept it. This is not mere ignorance of knowing how to read the Bible.

--Now of course at Trent it wasn't especially complicated
>>Nor was it in Unam Sanctam whence cometh the Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus thesis statement.

However, I must note that no Tridentine anathema has ever been lifted, to my knowledge. It's just JP2 and his feel-goodism that soften the Roman image; the meat of the Ecumenical Council remains in full force.

Turi said...

I don't basically disagree with you. The Pope may well be the anti-Christ like the old pre-Nancy Boy Westminister Confession stipulated, so far as I am concerned; except that then I am confused about what to do about the Medieval War of Investitures, in which they somehow wound up with an anti-Pope, who would logically be... makes you wonder, huh?

Although I did find your selections from the catechism a little curious. The silliness about Islam notwithstanding (the Muslisms certainly seem to feel otherwise), I do think it's demonstrable that God's providence, goodness, and saving designs extend to all...until the elect are gathered in. That's pretty straight Biblical theology, unless there's some dark intent behind the plain meaning of the words.

Similarly, last time I checked we agreed with Paul when he said in Athens 'what you worshipped before in darkness I now proclaim to you in truth...' Or the last one: isn't it just basic Calvinism to assert that any non-believer can be saved, however poorly the gospel may have been presented to him? Extraordinary means and all that - call it the God clause if you like, the 'Oh yeah, and we think it's okay for the Almighty to do whatever floats his boat' codicile.

I don't want to deny that modern Catholic philosophy has more to do with John Lennon than John the Evangelist, but at the same time I don't see what you were illustrating with those quotes.

But I am still a bit sore about the whole anathema thing myself, although that Trentino table cheese is nearly good enough to make amends...

Rhology said...

Hey Turi,

Good talking to you. Man, have I been so not-home homesick for Europe these days!

Pope - Yeah, I don't know if I'd go so far as THE Anti-Christ as does the WCF. AN Anti-Christ, very probably, though.

Haha, anti-Pope...you mean like this guy? http://www.vaticaninexile.com/home.html

I cited the CCC b/c of these statements from you:
1) they've been pretty clear that people are wicked and that God is not a galactic teddy bear
2) Yes, there are different schools within Catholicism, but that doesn't mean generalisations can't be helpful
3) total depravity. There are certainly a fair mob of Catholics I've read who would tell you they did
4) I think all I really meant to say is that the errors of the Catholics, at least, are a little more sophisticated than flat rejection of the text.

As to #1 - You were referring to pre-V2 RCs. Fair enough. You may be aware, at least, however, that modern RC apologists (the Catholic Answers crowd) constantly claim that RC-ism is the "ancient and constant faith of the church" (which is actually a direct quote from V2). So it is THEY who are claiming the modern continuity w/ the pre-V2 RCC.
As to #2 - This is mostly why I posted the CCC sections. I was trying to be a little more specific, or rather let the RCs' own authoritative publication speak for itself.
As to #3 - See #1.
As to #4 - True, a little. One might say, tongue only slightly in cheek, that their errors are based on a flat rejection of multiple texts rather than just one. Point taken.

--I do think it's demonstrable that God's providence, goodness, and saving designs extend to all
>>Providence, yes. Goodness, yes. Saving designs, to a certain extent, but at least I would say, at the minimum, God *desires* to save all men.

--we agreed with Paul when he said in Athens 'what you worshipped before in darkness I now proclaim to you in truth...'
>>Yes, w/ the caveat that he would not have agreed that they worshiped the true God at any time - this idolatrous Altar to an Unknown God was the bridge to make Jesus Christ more understandable to them.
See his calling Jesus "The God who made the world and all things in it" and "does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things..."
That would've been a completely foreign idea to the Athenians.
All that to say - maybe I'm not following where you're going w/ that citation.
But certainly I agree that "any non-believer can be saved, however poorly the gospel may have been presented to him".

--I am still a bit sore about the whole anathema thing
>>Haha, I'm not sore about it. It just makes it clearer where everyone stands, even if JP2 made it muddier. It just makes me wonder: Why pile on all that talk about "separated brethren" if you don't remove the anathemas? It cracks me up, really.

Turi said...

I know they claim it's the ancient faith of the church. You and I both know that's absurd. Can you imagine Gregory VII wandering about old St Pete's humming to himself like Winnie the Pooh, and wondering if maybe Mohammed was a decent fellow after all?

I was citing Acts to note that other religions are all about something, that there is no other Author in the business, and that therefore the Athenians were fumbling, inasmuchas they were fumbling, towards God. I'm not trying to be all weird and mystical, but when Plato decided it was better to be just than otherwise, this was not an original thought. It came from the grace of God. That's all I'm saying, and I think the situation in Acts analagous to that in answer 843. Whereas I wouldn't go so far as the universalism of 1260, I'd at least allow that sort of thing is possible. God-clause, you know.

Rhology said...

I reread 843 (a crazy concept, I know, this "rereading") and saw this:

Thus, the Church considers all goodness and truth found in these religions as "a preparation for the Gospel and given by him who enlightens all men that they may at length have life."

So I see what you're saying. But I can't buy it b/c of the stuff in 841:

"The PLAN OF SALVATION also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims;
--AND--
together with us they adore the one, merciful God

and the stuff in 842:

also because all share a common destiny, namely God.


As I'm sure you'd agree, the plan of salvation that includes Muslims is that the Gospel can save people who convert out of Islam.
And I *think* you would agree that they don't adore the one merciful God together w/ us.

And when I think "destiny" (as in 842), I think "one's destination at the end", in which case all do NOT share a common destiny. But I am very possibly mistaken on what 842 means when it says "destiny". But I daresay they coulda picked a better word.


Take 843 all alone, however, and yeah, I follow you in the Athens/Acts 17 thing.
And BTW, sorry if YOU don't feel welcome here (Okie hospitality and all that). (I hope you were referring to something else.) It is not my intention to bug you, just to converse. Mostly b/c you're interesting, witty and an impressive wordsmith, and for a small part also b/c you're my friend's boyfriend.

Peace,
ALAN

Turi said...

no, not at all - I was laughing about how the Catholic fellow posted something on the order of 'hello' and was promptly smacked by five doctrinal rebuttals.

And yeah, given the other stuff in the creed, and the other nonesense that the Pope spouts off these days, you're probably right about the catechism's overall intent. It's just possible that that wasn't the original intent, but on the evidence it's difficult to maintain with any integrity.

To have God as one's destiny is of course literally true for all flesh - we would call it the Last Judgement. But as that doesn't seem particularly popular with RC these days, despite the pretty altar-pieces, I think you must be right here.

How do you know Jenny, again? I feel like I ought to have met you at some point...