Friday, August 21, 2009

Sola Scriptura Debate Comment Repository

As promised, this is the place to leave your comments about the debate.
To help keep track of the chronological order of events and posts, I'll jump in and leave a comment that links to every new post in the debate.

204 comments:

1 – 200 of 204   Newer›   Newest»
Rhology said...

My opening statement is up. Sorry for the messed up font.

David said...

My opening statement has been finished for a few days now, but I'll wait until either tomorrow or Monday to post it to give a little time for people to ruminate on your post here.

David said...

Posted my opening statement this morning.

twoabsolutes said...

Thanks for "Errors to Avoid."

A cursory reading of David's opening reveals several errors...including a few you did not mention.

twoabsolutes said...

Short note.

My comment on David's opening (his combox) is no missing.

David said...

twoabsolutes:

I'm not sure what the problem is; I think it's Blogger acting up. It won't even let me comment right now, saying "This request cannot be processed." I'm very interested in hearing what you to say and I'll hope you'll try to post it again soon. Thanks!

Rhology said...

My 1st rebuttal is up.

Lucian said...

He'll tell you that the council took place, and then the results came to be accepted by the church over the course of time. Just how is that any different than what I'm saying?

Because he accepts that body as authoritative, whereas You don't. In his case, it's logical; in Your case, not so much.

Lucian said...

One good example would be errancy (David) vs inerrancy (quite a lot of Church Fathers)

Actually, David quoted patristic passages and made references to the Fathers; this, and the fact that maybe when the Fathers say that Scripture is (obviously) without error, this might perhaps not mean the same as when You say it. (And I've already pointed out to You in previous comments why).

Lucian said...

we are supposed to fall prostrate before the awesome clarity of Matthew 16:18 and 18:18. How is anyone to come to those passages and figure out that EOC is the right church and infallible interpreter, out of the dozens in the world?

Those words were uttered by a real-life historical Chirst to His real-life historical disciples and followers. So, if You want to connect the ethereal idea of the Church spoken off in Matthew to some real-life historical body of believers, You'll have to read some history-books, to see where those people are now: the Churches of Jerusalem, Rome, and other Greek cities, or of cities in Asia minor exist UNTIL today.

Lucian said...

what makes him think that ANY statement, in Scripture OR in Tradition (including anything EOC says) can be interpreted individually? How is he, the EO layman, supposed to understand it?.

I think the point being made here is practic rather than theoretic: Let's just say that it's far, far harder to mis-understand something which is continuously repeated throughout the ages and throughout the world in various shapes and forms, while conspicuously having the same meaning.

For instance, I had a discussion on this blog about John 8 and about stoning people to death for sins. Were my opponent to have interpreted that passage in a traditional manner instead of an a-historical and individualistically-original, he wouldn't have said stupidities about Miranda rights [thus betraying the fact that he also views or reads the Scripture through a lens: in his case, an American one], nor would he have made Judaizing observations.

Lucian said...

why luminaries such as priest and published author Kallistos Ware say that "most Orthodox scholars" disagree with the Councils' of Jassy (1642) and Jerusalem (1672) calling the Deuterocanonicals genuine parts of Scripture.

Canonical is what's being read publicly in the Church during the divine services. And deutero-canonical books are. So is John 8.

Lucian said...

These paragraphs are light on exegesis and supporting argumentation; apparently we are supposed to fall prostrate before the awesome clarity of Matthew 16:18 and 18:18.

His exegesis of 2 Peter 1:20 is surprisingly, but typically, bad.

We'll have to see whether David can show us some halfway-decent exegesis of Matthew 16 and 18 to justify his circular allegiance to the church, and hope that he'll do better than, say, shoehorning an idea of authority into 2 Timothy 2:15.


On problem: it's neither "his" nor "David`s" exegesis: it's the Church's historical understanding of those passages.

Lucian said...

If God has not spoken clearly, sufficiently, and in a way understandable to people, then let us eat, drink, and be merry, for neither today nor tomorrow do we know anything about God, eternal life, atonement, sin, judgment, resurrection, or moral law.

Rejecting the Word of God as sufficient and sufficiently clear


The problem is not with clarity, the problem is with meaning. If I spend my entire life with You and say "I love you, Allan", and show You throughout my entire life in what that love consists (let's say that it's brotherly love), then no-one can come two thousand years later and say: "Lucian, the great founder of our religion, was gay, and he has no problem with us being that way also". -- the same goes for the biblical phrase "the beloved disciple", ... or for the scriptural phrase: "this is my Body". -- Do You better understand now? If not, I don't think I can say it any "clearer" either. :-)

Christ spent entire years with the Apostles; the Apostles spent entire decades here on earth; the members of the generations which they prepared spent decades here on earth teaching their children; and so on. -- That's tradition; that's "commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Timothy 2:2)

Lucian said...

can David provide a golden index of infallible, authoritative teachings from the EOC?

David talked a lot about the Canon. Can he give us a Canon of ALL authoritative, infallible tradition from EOC? Is it [the list] infallible?


I'm not sure if we can pin-point *every* tradition as such, but what we CAN do is offer a list of teachings which not only are infallible, but also necessary for salvation: and this list is known as "the Creed". :-) Here's a trimmed-down version of it:

ONE God;
ONE ONLY-begotten Son and Word of God;
ONE Holy Spirit.
ONE Church.
ONE Baptism.
The Resurrection.
The Last Judgement.
And Eternal life.

Or, as St. Paul put it:

ONE Lord,
ONE Faith,
ONE Baptism.

Rhology said...

Is that list infallible? How do you know?

Lucian said...

The list is infallible, and if someone denies even as much as a single element from that list, then he cannot be Orthodox. The reason I know it is because *everybody* knows it, and it's not a secret (it used to be a secret to outsiders before the fourth century, though).

Of course, there are also pious beliefs, which are probably true, and some of them ARE true, but our-being-Orthodox does not depend on them. Our *dogmatic* teachings are NOT infinite in number.

Rhology said...

The reason I know it is because *everybody* knows it

I don't know it. How do you know I'm wrong?

Lucian said...

... You honestly don't know the contents of the Creed? :-\

David said...

Posted my first rebuttal.

Rhology said...

My 2nd rebuttal is posted.

Lucian said...

I guess our understanding is that St Athanasius didn't have a Protestant Sola-Scriptura view when saying the good things he said about Scripture.

Rhology said...

Let the reader judge whether he merely "said good things" about Scr.

Lucian said...

That's what strikes me about the Protestant apologetic of Sola Scriptura: it's just like the Catholic defense of Sola Celibacy for clergy. The later gather all the positive comments the Fathers made about virginity (forgetting all the nice things they had to say about marriage, for instance), and voila! The former do the same, but for Scripture (neglecting all the nice things the Fathers said about Tradition, or Councils, or so on).

And, as I said before, it's not about Scripture alone actually, but about a Bible taken out of its traditional context, which becomes devoid of meaning, and then some perverse and foreign readings are imposed on it. The Bible, in its traditional context, is indeed sufficient for salvation -- but that's not what You're arguing here for, is it?

David said...

Rhology,

I know we're not supposed to put links in our debate posts, but would you mind if I posted a link here to the full writing of St. Athanasius from which you quoted, to make it a little easier to "let the reader judge" ? It's available in several places online in full, so I thought it would be nice to make it a little easier for people to read it for themselves and draw their own conclusions. Let me know whether for or against, and I'll post it here and at my own combox if you want.

David

Rhology said...

Sure, I wouldn't have a problem with that. Debaters refer their audiences to other resources, books, etc all the time.
Thanks.

David said...

Alrighty, here it is, with the part that you quoted highlighted:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xxii.ii.i.html?highlight=scripture%20is%20sufficient#highlight

David said...

My second rebuttal is posted.

Seth said...

Fact Check: Hanukkah and Purim

These two do find their origin in scripture. They are not ordained by divine mandate, however. They are thus equivalent to Church observence of a Nativity holiday. Hanukkah shows up in the prophecies of Daniel 9. Purim is the story of Esther.

David said...

Seth:

Maybe you can direct us to the specific verses in Daniel 9 that you're referring to? I'm not seeing it.

It's possible; I'm just not seeing what you're talking about. Most scholars, I know, believe that Daniel was written in response to the events that produced the Hannukah festival (I think the presence of fragments of Daniel in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate a much earlier date, but I won't get into that debate right now).

As far as I know, the only overt reference anywhere in Scripture to Hannukah is 2 Macc. 1:18, and the story of the events the festival commemorates are told throughout 1 and 2 Macc.

To claim that Daniel 9 is the "origin" of the festival is a big claim, which goes against even Jewish observance of it, as the Jews acknowledge 1 and 2 Macc. as the primary source for the story (as well as Judith, another of the deuterocanonical books, for some of the minor customs that accompany Hannukah observance). They used to consider them scriptural, now they consider them extra-biblical, but, since they're not Sola Scripturists, it doesn't matter to them either way.

Rhology said...

I think the presence of fragments of Daniel in the Dead Sea Scrolls indicate a much earlier date

Yeah, I was about to say that. The dating of Daniel to such a late time as you propose is a gimme to the libs who can't stomach such obvious and accurate prophetic content.

David said...

Rhology,

I agree 100%; I think it's important to look deeply at all of the arguments presented, though, otherwise you're liable to miss something important.

I'd say the same is true ("can't stomach such obvious and accurate prophetic content") when talking about the dates of the Gospels and Markan vs. Matthean Priority as well.

Seth said...

David,

(*) Sorry, I meant Daniel 8!

(1) I hold that Daniel's prophecy was in fact a prophecy, and not a reflective history. "Most scholars" tends to refer to secular scholars who aim to debunk "biblical mythology". That kind of history is not consistent with Christian or Jewish orthodoxy.

(2) Yes Macabees is the big one with the bulk of the details (and the low hanging fruit). Daniel 8 requires you to put on your prophecy-cap.

Seth said...

Oh, Daniel 8 works, but looking back at the text, Daniel 11 is what I really meant.

Daniel 11:30 is speaking of Antiochus, who was confronted at sea by Rome and in humiliation returned to Jerusalem to find the place in civil war. He responded by restoring order forcefully.

David said...

Seth,

I'll give you that Dan 8 & 11 are both talking about the events leading up to and surrounding Hannukah, but neither mentions the festival itself nor the actual event the festival commemorates (remember it commemorates more than just the restoration of the Temple -- it specifically commemorates the miraculous appearance of fire in the Temple -- and 2 Macc. 1:18 is the only place anywhere in Scripture that I know of that mentions this event specifically).

On your point 1: I agree, but I think it's also necessary to consider their theories and the evidence they present in their favor. I disagree with pretty much every opinion Bart Ehrman has ever put into words, but I understand his position and I've learned quite a bit from him as he has presented his evidence for his positions. Otherwise we end up looking like those KJV-only types ("God said it, that closes it."). Either way, I agree that Daniel is older than the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (as most scholars suppose).

Anyway, interesting passages from Daniel and I appreciate you bringing them up here, but I think your claim that these verses are the "origin" of Hannukah is greatly overstated for my reasons mentioned above.

Seth said...

Fair enough.

Rhology said...

My first cross-examination question is posted.

Jnorm888 said...

Rhoblogy,

I just wanted you to know that you were wrong about St. Athanasius, not to mention a host of other stuff. I have too much on my plate at the moment, but eventually I will show why. Until then, I will just watch the debate.

Also, you don't seem to care or just not aware of the subjective nature of some of your arguments.

Not that theres anything wrong with subjectivity.





ICXC NIKA

Lucian said...

A picture's worth more than a thousand words: here's a post from a Catholic blog, on interpetation (image-interpretation, not scripture-interpretation, but You get the grip).

David said...

My first cross-ex response is posted.

Lucian said...

Where was the iconoclastic remnant between 1,000 AD and 1,500 AD?

But DavidW is setting up a false dilemma, that either the church is infallible or it is worthless. What's wrong with a third option?

But Allan is setting up a false dilemma, that either the bible is infallible or it is worthless. What's wrong with a third option?

Rhology said...

Lucian,

I don't know where. Don't have to.

And you misread me about the errancy argument. Re-read the posts where we discussed that.

Rhology said...

My first cross-ex answer is up.

Lucian said...

Well, ... the West, the Nestorians and the Monophysites never had any iconoclasts around that time ... and they also vanished from the East as well ... so where did they go?

And where was the priest-less and sacrament-less remnant between 500 AD and 1,500 AD?

Rhology said...

What about "I don't know where. Don't have to." don't you understand?

John said...

A lot of obfuscation in this last rebuttal. The church of God reliably came to a correct knowledge of the canon? If its "reliable", then it is essentially infallible in this area, otherwise reliable has no meaning.

And it begs the question of which church, where and when reliably came to correct knowledge, since all the major church traditions differ. This doesn't get you out of throwing your weight behind a church tradition and declaring it infallible (or reliable, if you want to mince words).

"Were they infallible as a whole? No" we are told. Of course the issue isn't infallibility in everything, it is infallibility in doctrine. And the proof against is what? We aren't told. We get a whole lot of mixed up thinking confusing ungodly generations with infallibility in doctrine.

Did the enemies of Jesus dispute OT quotes? Well, yes, I think the Saducees disputed quotes outside of the Pentatuch as non-authoritative. But neither did the enemies of Paul dispute him when he resorted to oral tradition. So what is proved?

"Were the Jews who in large part missed their Messiah and even insisted He be put to death, who were the subjects of a "partial hardening" (Rom 11:25) from God, infallible?"

Well no, but neither were the Jews who did this the whole of God's people. And subsequently they were no longer in communion with the genuine people of God. How is this even an argument R.? You've appealed to God's people being "reliably" led to the correct canon. Is it ok if we lump in with you lot the Mormons? You wouldn't like that would you? So why lump an heretical sect in with the real people of God?

You ask where the EO well defined limit of teachings are, but you neglect the fact that we are less in need of the final list. If we could add a book to your canon list, your entire theology could be upended. But nothing can upend the fundamentals of the EO Church, just because we don't know an exact list of something or other.

Then we have the "church fathers don't agree on anything but monotheism" nonsense. That argument is no more convincing than saying that the bible itself doesn't agree on anything but monotheism. It's an empty claim.

Basil or Athanasius pointed to Scripture as the final authority????

How odd that for every quote that supposedly says some church father held sola scriptura, there is a much clearer one that the same father certainly did not hold to sola scriptura. But oh no, every single church father was allegedly inconsistent. Heaven forbid that protestants be cherry picking quotes. Frankly its insulting to our intelligence to claim Basil held to sola scriptura. Claiming that he did just destroyed your credibility entirely.

Lucian said...

So You're honestly convinced that a combination between ignorance and indifference is an acceptable and satisfying answer?

Rhology said...

From Basil:

"What then? After all these efforts were they tired? Did they leave off? Not at all.
They are charging me with innovation, and base their charge on my confession of three hypostases, and blame me for asserting one Goodness, one Power, one Godhead. In this they are not wide of the truth, for I do so assert. Their complaint is that their custom does not accept this, and that Scripture does not agree. What is my reply? I do not consider it fair that the custom which obtains among them should be regarded as a law and rule of orthodoxy. If custom is to be taken in proof of what is right, then it is certainly competent for me to put forward on my side the custom which obtains here. If they reject this, we are clearly not bound to follow them. Therefore let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth." (Basil, Letter 189, 3)

Then see here if you're interested in some interaction on that.

Lucian said...

What custom was he talking about?

Rhology said...

Philokalia said...

I am enjoying reading your debate, but think that you are missing something that is important to your argument. You talk about the Orthodox Church not having a canon of scripture but rather simply holding the Church tradition as infallible. This is not true, as the Bible is considered infallible and held at the same level as the "Sola Scripturists" do. The reason you have a Bible however is due to the Orthodox Church, as the canon of New Testament was decided by Church counsel...i.e. the reason you have a canon at all is not because of your "table of contents" but rather because of the Orthodox Church. You disregard the authority of the Orthodox Church in this regard, yet I doubt you would view it as arbitrary to add additional Gospels or Epistles to your New Testament. By whose authority was the New Testament Canon decided? By God's of course, but worked through the agency of the Orthodox Church and the imperfect bishops who met in counsel. You try to seperate the New Testament from this context, as though it can exist on its own or fell from heaven apart from the human agency of the Church. But it is a product of the Church, in accordance with the Holy Spirit.
Mon Dec 07, 05:53:00 PM CST

Rhology said...

Philokalia,

It seems you didn't read my opening statement, or if you did you forgot about it.
DavidW does not consider the Bible infallible. Take it up with him. Sounds like disunity within the EO ranks (as I said in my opening statement, actually).

Anyway, your thing about the NT canon doesn't respond to my argument in my first cross-ex answer. I suggest interaction with that, not naked assertions.

David said...

DavidW does not consider the Bible infallible.

Yes I do.

Rhology said...

DavidW: I think that Scripture itself also argues against inerrancy.

David said...

Good. Now post one of the dozen or so times I've explained to you what I mean by that.

You know, I keep saying it and I really mean it -- your ability to twist the meaning and distort the context of the Scriptures, the Fathers, and even humble little me is an amazing talent. You should work for the press.

Rhology said...

You think "insignificant" details like the color of Christ's robe, or the inscriptions above the Cross, are unharmonisable.

You know, "twisting" the statement I think that Scripture itself also argues against inerrancy into DavidW does not consider the Bible infallible is not what I'd call impossibly contortionist. Maybe you could enlighten us.

Lucian said...

Rhoblogy,

how do You reconcile, for instance, Mark telling us that Jesus was crucified at 9 AM with John telling us that Jesus was standing before Pilate in judgment at noon?

-------------------------
(Inerrant refers to paraphernalia, details or minutiae [how many died in a battle in Kings differs from how many people died in the same battle in Chronicles]; infallible refers to the basic tenets of the faith [or to more general facts]).

-------------------------
There were no quotation-marks in ancient languages [like the Koine Greek of the NT], so no Evangelist actually pretends to reveal us the *exact* words of the inscription on the Cross.

David said...

Lucian:

Thank you very much for clarifying my position to Rhology for me. I was having a hard time finding the words, and you said it perfectly.

Rhology said...

Lucian,

Here you go. I know that research and careful thought are not your strong suit.

And no, inerrant means "made no error". Infallible means "can't make an error", as on an ongoing process. Infallible is a stronger statement than inerrant.

And we've been over the cross inscriptions before. Add substance to what's been said or you're just making noise.

Rhology said...

My 2nd question is up.

Lucian said...

Rho,

in defense of his "pacifist" view, namely that John uses Roman time, Tektonics adduces the following argument:


In John 1:39 we are told that Andrew and Peter met Jesus and "spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour." If this were Jewish time, that would make it 4 PM - too late to spend the "day" with someone (or maybe 4 AM, as some suggest, which at any rate is not usual visiting hours).


This argument is false: let's look at the verse in question: it says:


John 1:39  He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour.


In other words, since it was already late (10th hour = 4 PM), they decided to stay or remain there and not go any further on their way on that day, because eve and nightfall were approaching. -- So John was using Jewish time, not Roman.

Rhology said...

I love how you try hard to create a contradiction where none exists. You are a child of the devil.

And what you've said doesn't necessarily create a contradiction. You just REALLY REALLY want it to b/c deep down you hate the fact that God's Word condemns you of sin and your paradigm of "if I can just be good enough" is not consistent with what God has revealed. Repent. Seriously.

Lucian said...

Tektonics is not infallible: sometimes he's right, and the detractors are wilfully of ill faith; but sometimes they're right (though not necesarilly og good faith) and he's wrong. The forced and distorted reading he imposed on John 1:39 is easily observable.

I have no problem with the Bible. Nor with it convicting me of sin.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Rhology,
I am stuck between Orthodoxy and Protestantism at the moment. I've been following this debate with much interest for a month.

I admit: sometime you raise a lot of good questions. I think David could answer some of them better. But really--your rhetoric turns a lot of people off.

Would you lay off the continual "you're a child of the devil" and "careful thought isn't your strong point?" Honestly, is that really necessary?

Rhology said...

Hi Jacob,

Apparently you think I'm too harsh sometimes.
I am sorry to have offended you. What you don't see in the background is a long history of interaction with this Lucian character, who has acted extremely bizarrely in the past and has even been banned from another (far better, and pretty patient) Reformed apologetics blog for refusing to man up and answer questions or back up his unsubstantiated assertions. And our recent discussions in a thread on sola fide, in which he defends what amounts to salvation by his trying really really hard, as well as his constant defense of blasphemous actions such as talking to dead people and icons in which the 3 persons of the Trinity are depicted visually...all that causes me to repeat the biblical words "child of the devil". I know that phrase has sorta different connotations these days, but I meant it in the biblical sense. (Not that there was necessarily any way for you to tell the difference, just reading it at face value, so I'm not blaming you at all.)

As for the careful thought thing, I think any fair reading of Lucian's interactions will bear that out. Strangely enough, this is the most lucid I've ever seen him.

Again, I'm sorry to have offended you, but I hope you'll continue to read the debate fairly.
You might also be interested in this longer debate by TurretinFan on the same topic. It's significantly longer, but TF is significantly smarter than me, so there you go.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

You didn't offend me. It's just if you want to convince people (outsiders) of "your side," that kind of rhetoric is a sure-turn off. Maybe Lucian deserved it; I don't know the history.

I wouldn't quote Turretinfan if I were you. He's partly the reason I am no longer Protestant. Earlier this summer Jay Dyer posted a devastating analysis of Calvinism. I hated Dyer at the time (partly because I couldn't answer him). Turrentinfan (at aomin) took up the mantle. It was evident that TF had no clue to the Christological issues at stake. I felt bad for him after reading it. It's not so much that Dyer massacred his arguments (which he did), but that TF didn't even understand the terms of the debate.

Rhology said...

Oh, OK.
Well, I thought TF did quite well; I find Dyer to be quite sophomoric.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Dyer can be overly agressive at times--I grant that. But he is correct to point out how Protestantism is Nestorian (something Gordon Clark and A.A. Hodge cheerfully admit).

If you err on big points like that, it doesn't matter what you get right.

Rhology said...

Let's say I grant that. What do you see is the big deal about Nestorianism?

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Well, creating two persons of Christ is problematic, for starters.

the personal Logos assumed impersonal human nature. Otherwise, Jesus would be two persons. Again, these things are condemned at Ephesus.

Rhology said...

And how in a nutshell does Calvinism do this?

David said...

Jacob & Rho:

Well, Rho is, basically, a Nestorian. He's said in the past that the Virgin Mary should be referred to as "Mother of Christ" rather than "Mother of God." This strain of thought seems to be common to Protestants going far back, but few seem to realize the implications.

The Christological implications of Nestorianism are numerous. Probably foremost amongst them are that it calls into question the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist (hence why Protestantism so resembles Nestorianism) and that it compromises our salvation by too far separating the human from the Divine in Christ -- "what was not assumed was not saved," to quote (from memory) St. Irenaeus.

Rhology said...

I disagree that all that makes me Nestorian. I have other reasons for saying those things.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Mary is called Theotokos because she bore a single Divine Person, the Logos. The Person who came from her is God. Thus she is not Christotokos as Nestorius said, because the Logos already had personhood prior to the Incarnation. Thus, the personal Logos assumed impersonal human nature. Otherwise, Jesus would be two persons. Again, these things are condemned at Ephesus.

Rhology said...

Jacob,

She bore the HUMAN Jesus, Who was God and man. Jesus was her Creator. She bore His humanity.

The Person who came from her is God.

It is more correct to say The Person who came from her is man. And it is MOST correct to say The Person who came from her is the God-man.


Thus, the personal Logos assumed impersonal human nature.

You've made no connection, though.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

This is blatant Nestorianism. Theodore of Mopstestuia couldn't have said it clearer.

Ephesus said Mary bore the divine Person who united himself to a human nature.

Just come out and say you reject Ephesus. It would be me honest.

Rhology said...

Jacob,

Why is this blatant Nestorianism? Where have I even hinted that Christ has an "impersonal" nature?


Ephesus said Mary bore the divine Person who united himself to a human nature.

Whoopie, so do I.
That doesn't make the statement "Mary is the mother of God" more correct than the other 2. You'll need more than naked assertions.

David said...

Rho:

Here's a question. Since the Virgin Mary only bore Christ's human nature and not his divine nature and therefore should be called "Mother of Christ" and not "Mother of God" -- is it not true that we can then, with the same logic, say that God only begot Christ's divine nature and not his human nature and therefore should only be called Father of his divine nature and not his human nature?

Rhology said...

No.


And I'd expect you'd agree with the statement "Since the Virgin Mary only bore Christ's human nature and not his divine nature".

David said...

No.

Okay; why not? Because you refuse to be consistent and apply the same logic to all statements?

Rhology said...

They're not the same. Mary is not the creator and in no way is the Father of anyone.

God is described in the Bible as "the Father".
This whole line of questioning is completely incomprehensible to me. I have no idea where you're going.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Rho,
You originally said,

***It is more correct to say The Person who came from her is man***

Then, you also say,

***Whoopie, so do I (affirming, evidently, that Christ was a Divine Person, thus Person 2, a divine person)***

Ergo, you hold to two persons. Now we have four persons in the Trinity.

Go to ccel, the 12th volume of the NPNF (2) series, the Council at Ephesus, and read the first anathema, and then tell me how you are not a Nestorian heretic. Ephesus says anyone who refuses to call Mary Theotokos is anathema.

Anyway, I can also prove that your soteriology (I assume you hold to Imputational theology) is also Nestorian. This puts the sola scriptura debate in a new context: if you hold to heretical Christologies, it doesn’t matter “that you stand upon scripture alone.”

David said...

Rho:

I understand that Scripture refers to God as "Father" -- but you must admit that he is Christ's Father in a unique way, different from the way he is Father to us. So -- again: in this unique way that he is Father (ie in the fact that the has begotten the Eternal Son) he is the Father only of Christ's divine nature and not his human nature, using your logic. Correct? Or are you too afraid of the implications? This was exactly what I was talking about when I said second and third order effects.

Rhology said...

What I agreed with was that "Mary bore the divine Person who united himself to a human nature."

That's one Person. One hypostasis, two ousia.
That would be one member of three in the Trinity. Three persons. I don't know where you're getting 4.


then tell me how you are not a Nestorian heretic.

B/c I do hold that, as you said, the Logos already had personhood prior to the Incarnation.
You're just bound and determined to make me Nestorian, but you don't give any reason to think it. It's not very honest of you.


Ephesus says anyone who refuses to call Mary Theotokos is anathema.

I don't refuse. Where did I refuse? Quote me.


if you hold to heretical Christologies, it doesn’t matter “that you stand upon scripture alone.”

I've got to warn you here. You said you were in between EO and Protestant, but since you've apparently relinquished the primacy of Scripture, there's nothing to stop you from falling into all sorts of errors, not just EOC. I urge you to come back.
Scripture, not systematic theology, not church councils, is the authority over man, the final authority, the only infallible authority. "Let God be true, and every man a liar" (of course, if you're an errantist like DavidW, let God be a liar and every man who thinks he's identified a small inconsistency in theopneustos revelation, be true). Plenty of councils in history have anathematised biblical truth. Trent, for example. 2nd Nicaea is another.
You have it totally backwards.

Rhology said...

but you must admit that he is Christ's Father in a unique way, different from the way he is Father to us.

Yes.


in this unique way that he is Father (ie in the fact that the has begotten the Eternal Son) he is the Father only of Christ's divine nature and not his human nature, using your logic.

Sure, but you'd have to agree with that too since you consider the Father the font out of which the Son proceeds eternally. But the Son's human nature does not proceed eternally from the Father. So again, you're just contorting yourself every which way.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Well, I suppose I apologize for that; I thought you had said that earlier.

***Scripture, not systematic theology, not church councils, is the authority over man, the final authority, the only infallible authority. "Let God be true, and every man a liar" (of course, if you're an errantist like DavidW, let God be a liar and every man who thinks he's identified a small inconsistency in theopneustos revelation, be true). Plenty of councils in history have anathematised biblical truth. Trent, for example. 2nd Nicaea is another.
You have it totally backwards.***

I agree 100%. I just trashed all my theologies and church histories and re-read the bible for the first time. I now believe there was a time when the Son was not. Proverbs 8 said God created Wisdom (Christ). Ergo, Arianism.

On Sola Scriptura's principle, how am I wrong?

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

And for the record, I went to Reformed Theological Seminary for two years, have read every major Reformed theology textbook (and most Baptist ones, too). I've read Calvin's Institutes 3 times through (and listened to Greg Bahnsen's tapes on them). I've listened to over 1,000 Bahnsen tapes on Reformed theology and apologetics (Bahnsen was a major influence on James White).

So yeah, I'm a little bit familiar with the issues.

But when I read then-Lutheran Jaroslav Pelikan's History of the Christian Tradition, I could no longer subscribe to the Protestant narrative.

Rhology said...

I just trashed all my theologies and church histories and re-read the bible for the first time.

Another strawman and false dilemma. It's like all or nothing with you!
You're pretty ignorant of Sola Scriptura, I'm sorry to say.

John 10:30, 8:58.

Rhology said...

I'm a little bit familiar with the issues.

It doesn't show. How about you act like you've been there before and do me the courtesy of not asking such idiotic questions?

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

But how is that wrong? You told me that the Bible (and not systematic theologies et al) should make the decision.

It's nice to say that Scripture is the infallible authority, and I hold to that, but if you don't have an infallible interpreter (or something to that affect) then on what grounds am I wrong? Remember, you are not infallible and what you tell me is goign to be *your* tradition--a tradition of man.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

It's funny. You ask for "courtesy" while using the word idiotic directed towards me. Reminds me of the "irony" joke in *Con Air.*

Rhology said...

I call 'em like I see 'em.

then on what grounds am I wrong?

Um, b/c words mean things?
Are you seriously unfamiliar with the complete uselessness of the "infallible interpreter" model?

OR

I'm sorry, there's no infallible interper present. Go get one, get back to me and then we can talk. As it is, I'm assuming you'd like to order $4599.99 worth of holiday Münster, rush delivered to your office. I could be wrong, but I have no way of knowing.

Rhology said...

idiotic directed towards me

No, towards your questions. That's twice you've misquoted me. Doesn't that tell you sthg?

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Okay, Rhology. I'll let you have this one (for now; throwing pearls to...anyway). Here's a debating tip I learned from James White and Greg Bahnsen: if you really want to do well in the debate, avoid condescending mannerisms.

And it's like sports, you only start "talking big" when you are winning.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Do you hold to imputational theology?

Rhology said...

No apology for twice misquoting me. Too bad.


Yes, I'm a Reformed Baptist.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

I mean no disrespect in the following: do you have a fragile ego? The only reason I ask is because if someone (the weakness of the flesh) quotes something wrongly (or is typing too fast or typing from memory), you seem to get all huffy and upset. Therefore, because of that, I apologize.

As to the imputational theology, I will ask that question when the smoke clears from the field.

Rhology said...

I simply want the full truth to be represented. Recent convos with EOdox have shown me every reason to think that the EOdox commenter's understanding of my position is very flawed. I think it's important to correct such things.

Just say "Oops, sorry". It's not that hard.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Ok,

"oops, sorry."

But it's hard to have a discussion with you, no offense.

Anyway, here's the issue with imputational theology and Nestorianism.

The Calvino-Nestorian view of the Incarnation has all kinds of other flaws that flow from it. Most notably, Calvinists often confess (1) a human person - Jesus - being damned by the Father at the cross. This is, to say the least, obviously Arian/Nestorian, while the other option for Calvinists (2) is to keep the orthodox confession of the sole subject of all the Incarnaet acts as the Logos, but this leads to the conclusion in their view of the imputation at the cross as meaning that the Father damned His divine Son (for three days or at the moment of the crucufizion) - thereby splitting the unity of the Trinity. Either route the Calvinist takes, it can only be heretical

Rhology said...

But it's hard to have a discussion with you, no offense.

Well, being constantly misquoted and having to correct such can be a little hard too.


a human person - Jesus - being damned by the Father at the cross.

Bearing the sin of the elect. I don't think those things are compatible. Not all Calvinists think, for example, that the Father turned His back on Jesus while on the Cross.


meaning that the Father damned His divine Son (for three days or at the moment of the crucufizion) - thereby splitting the unity of the Trinity.

No, it means the Son died to bear the sentence of death upon the elect. in what way would a split occur? Jesus died and went to be with the Father until He resurrected. What's wrong with that?

Rhology said...

See here a good discussion on this. Jacob says this was a poor performance on TurretinFan's part. Let the reader judge. Seems purty good to me.

Rhology said...

To quote from there, in fact:

But it is now, however, judged most probable by Protestant historians that Nestorius was personally a brave defender of the true faith, and that the misrepresentations of his enemies were founded only upon his uncompromising opposition to the dangerous habit then prominently introduced of calling the Virgin Mary the mother of God because she was the mother of the human nature of Christ.

Um, yup.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

I'm actually glad you referenced TF's link. I re-read it (and some of the inane comments). It helped clarify other issues in my mind regarding the death of Christ. In any case, I actually agree with a lot of TF's points for the following reason:

When Jay had that debate, he was Catholic (or Eastern Catholic, rather). I, as does Dyer now, reject Rome. So to the degree that TF understands the issues (a small degree, mind), I applaud him.

Okay, to the next comment you made. I am simply going to quote St Cyril. I realize this is "traditions of men" but most Reformed theologians (nominally) accept St Cyril.

If anyone will not confess that the Emmanuel is very God, and that therefore the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (Θεοτόκος), inasmuch as in the flesh she bore the Word of God made flesh [as it is written, “The Word was made flesh”] let him be anathema.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.x.ix.i.html

I realize this is a Mexican standoff and we are now quite far afield from the original topic (much of that is my fault, I confess). I leave it at that. You can have the last word for now.

Vox Veritatis said...

Saying that Mary is the mother of Christ, rather than the mother of God, does not make one Nestorian, but rather saves one from an absurd logical conclusion.

1. Mary is the mother of God.
2. God is the Trinity.
3. Therefore, Mary is the mother of the Trinity.

This is absurd, but it gets worse.

4. Both the Father and the Holy Spirit subsist within the Trinity.
5. Therefore, Mary is the mother of both the Father and the Holy Spirit.

This is patently absurd. It is accurate (and logical) to say that Mary was the mother of the incarnate second person of the Trinity. That is, to say that Mary is the mother of Christ. Such an assertion maintains the unity of Christ's natures in one person, without the logical absurdities of saying that Mary was the mother of God. Thus, it is logically coherent, and not Nestorian (in the sense of the Christological position, not in the sense that Nestorius may have said the same or something similar).

Rhology said...

Pursuant to Vox Veritatis' helpful comment, I'd like to echo Hodge's warning that such language is very dangerous. Just look at the contribution it's made in the Romanist and Orthodox world towards Mariolatry. Yes, I know they officially don't endorse such practices, but such are widely, widely practiced and documented. And it's not like the Church Hierarchy actively puts the smack down on such things.

Much better to say BOTH
Mary is the mother of Christ.
AND
The Logos, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, took on Himself a human nature at the Incarnation.

All this "You're Nestorian!" talk is desperation.

Anonymous said...

So far I must compliment all of you for providing a very interesting and entertaining debate. I would love to hear more about what Jacob has to say as far as his reasons for being staying undecided between Protestantism and Orthodoxy, but I realize that is a tangent from the main article. Rho would do better to not so much like Bill O'Reilly in his aggressive style, but at least he is fun to read. And to make a point, calling someone a Nestorian isn't name-calling nor "desperation" when you are actually referring to ideas that are in fact Nestorian. Call a spade a spade!

David said...

My second cross-ex answer is posted.

Ryan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan said...

Rhoblogy, thanks for directing me to this debate. You're doing extremely well.

In response to Rhoblogy's 2nd cross-ex question, David wrote:

"Anyone who has done investigations, as I have, knows that collective memory is much stronger than that of any given individual."

But this is not always the case (cf. Acts 22:9, OT passages which speak of the continual forgetfulness of the nation of Israel), so you must have a criterion for distinguishing when an appeal to the majority is valid and when it is not - a criterion which you do not mention in your response.

What you did throughout the post is commit an argumentum ad populum fallacy: "the ECFs agreed, the ancient churches agreed... therefore we should agree that this is a/the rule of faith." Why? Are any of these people or institutions infallible? If not, why should we believe them? Or, if any are infallible, what is the means (the "criterion" you failed to mention) by which you discerned such? That was Rhoblogy's question, which you failed to answer.

John said...

(1) Paul said to hold to the traditions by word of mouth. If you concede that he taught stuff not enscripturated, which you just did concede, then you've lost the debate, end of story. To claim he didn't want you to hold to the stuff not written is to contradict what he said.

(2) Why do we have to prove what came from the apostles? You can't prove what scripture came from the apostles, so making that request undermines your own position.

(3) Paul's doctrine as taught to the Bereans went beyond the OT! No Protestant denies this, so its dishonest to keep bringing this up.

Rhology said...

John refers to (and neglects to interact with) my 2nd cross-ex answer, which is here.

John said...

I point out that you entirely beg the question by claiming "God apparently didn't want to preserve those teachings with certainty for the church, else He would have provided for their preservation, in Scripture.", even though Paul states the opposite.

I would have hoped for a response to David that wasn't in its entirety begging the question.

beowulf2k8 said...

Calvinists place a lot of stress on arranging the fictitious "decrees of God" in a certain order. None of this is in Scripture, so they CANNOT claim to follow Sola Scriptura. They have their own 'gnosis.' I've seen Rhology claiming once on Pious Fabrications that it goes back to Judas Iscariot via apostolic succession. Individuals teaching extra-biblical 'gnosis' from apostolic succession going back to Judas Iscariot have no business claiming to follow Sola Scriptura!

beowulf2k8 said...

Rhology says here: "Judas was commissioned by Christ. Judas then went on to commission others and to appoint them as heirs. Three of these others that are especially significant are Ss. Clement of Rome, Polycarp of Smyrna, and Ignatius of Antioch. Judas apparently believed that these men were worthy enough to be appointed to take charge of the Church after the passing of Judas and the other Apostles" and again "Judas was an apostle. Apostolic succession." -- It is clearly through this line that all the extra biblical things of Calvinism come, such as reading God's mind on these imaginary decrees and their order.

Rhology said...

beowulf,
You apparently have no idea what an internal critique is.

Also, I'm curious - do you hold to Sola Scriptura?

louis said...

The biblical authors wrote down all that was necessary for our salvation:

"It seemed good to me... to write an orderly account for you... that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." (Luke 1:3-4)

"Now Jesus did many other signs... but these are written so that you may... have life in his name." (John 20:30-31).

We have in scripture both certainty and life in his name.

Rhology said...

louis,

Agreed, and it prolly would've been helpful to address that in my answer, but I just kinda forgot. But it doesn't affect what I *did* say.

John said...

So Luke wrote down everything for salvation. Ok great. So since the Manhattan declaration destroys the gospel according to Rhology by including Eastern Orthodox, what verse in Luke can you quote decisively against Eastern Orthodoxy's gospel?

David said...

louis:

The earliest reference that we have to the four gospels all together together by name is with St. Irenaeus of Lyons in 180. The New Testament as we have it today wasn't compiled until the year 367, by St. Athanasius of Alexandria.

Clearly, Luke's comments refer only to his gospel; John's only to his gospel. The two were written separately and passed down separately for at least a couple of generations. If we are to take these two passages as literally as you're attempting to do, our question becomes: which of the two gospels which each claim to be all-sufficient and yet contain very different material is the one that is all-sufficient and contains all that we need to know? We can, then, do away with the others, of course.

Rhology said...

John,

There is no one good, only God is good. Luke 18:19

louis said...

David,

There is only one gospel.

I'm not sure I understand your point. Let's say we accept your view on oral tradition. Could John have successfully evangelized anyone on his own? If so, can we throw out the testimony of all the other Apostles? If not, do we absolutely need the testimony of all of them together? What about those first couple of generations that you mention, when the testimony was passed down separately, whether orally or in writing? Could anyone in any of those separate communities be saved?

In other words, apply what you are saying about the written testimony to the oral, and then please clarify what you mean. Perhaps if I can see the difference, then I will understand your question better.

David said...

louis:

I think you're missing the point of my comments.

Allow me to try again.

You claimed in your comment, if I understand you correctly, that the two verses you quote from Luke and John claim that all that is necessary to salvation was written down.

There's a logical problem with your statements though. John's gospel was written as a stand-alone work; similarly, Luke's gospel was written as a stand-alone work. Each of the two gospels contains very different material.

If, then, we are to interpret your chosen verses as each author claiming that he had written down all things necessary to salvation, they necessarily conflict with each other. John says that the contents of his gospel are what is necessary; Luke says the contents of his gospel are all that is necessary; and yet the two contain very different material.

So, by your standard, one of the two is found to be lying. Which leads to the question: which of these two gospels really contains all that is necessary to salvation and which is lying to us in making such a claim?

Given the obvious logical problems with your interpretation, it is clear that those verses do not mean what you are trying to say they mean.

Vox Veritatis said...

If I can add my two cents...

I don't necessarily agree with this dilemma, as stated, because I don't see anywhere in Scripture where either Luke or John say that they have written all that is necessary for salvation.

Rather, Luke is saying that he has written material that is sufficient to give Theophilus certainty concerning the things that he had been taught.

John is saying that he has written material that is sufficient to give the reader cause to believe that Jesus is the Christ, and thus to have salvation in believing.

Thus, I would say that John is sufficient for salvation, and that there is no contradiction between this and Luke's written purpose.

David said...

Thus, I would say that John is sufficient for salvation, and that there is no contradiction between this and Luke's written purpose.

Which leads to the question: why have anything but John, then? Why have Luke at all if John is all we need. It seems that we're now in the business of trimming down the Apostle's message.

"Apostolic Tradition isn't necessary to salvation, so let's get rid of it" seems to be the Protestant line of thinking.

According to you, Luke isn't necessary to salvation either, since John contains all that is necessary. Let's get rid of it then (and the rest of the Bible too -- yes, that includes Romans; I know, I know, Protestants really like that one, but it's not necessary anymore, right?). Logical conclusion, right?

Vox Veritatis said...

why have anything but John, then?

Are you asking me, or God? Scripture is God-breathed, so if you want to know why we have the books of the Bible that we have, I'd suggest that you ask Him, not me. However, from what Scripture itself says, I can think of two general explanations:

1) We have other books because God wanted us to have them
2) The purpose of Scripture is larger than simply providing one cause to believe that Jesus is the Christ. It's larger purpose is for us to know God (Rom. 12:2, 1 Cor. 2:16), our santification (Jn. 17:17), and our being perfectly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The other books provide us with truth to accomplish these ends.

"Apostolic Tradition isn't necessary to salvation, so let's get rid of it" seems to be the Protestant line of thinking.

It's certainly not my thinking. I'd love to know the things that the apostles said that weren't inscripturated. The issue is that God saw fit for those things to be lost to the Church, given that Scripture is sufficient for everything that we need as Christians. The Protestant position that I am aware of seeks to discount as not authoritative those writings which some claim to be apostolic tradition, but are not inspired, nor in reality apostolic.

Let's get rid of it then (and the rest of the Bible too -- yes, that includes Romans; I know, I know, Protestants really like that one, but it's not necessary anymore, right?)

As to how this statement could conceivably follow from my position, I have no idea.

Logical conclusion, right?

In a world in which fallacious argumentation is logically valid, yes.

David said...

2) The purpose of Scripture is larger than simply providing one cause to believe that Jesus is the Christ. It's larger purpose is for us to know God (Rom. 12:2, 1 Cor. 2:16), our santification (Jn. 17:17), and our being perfectly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The other books provide us with truth to accomplish these ends.

But you said John's gospel was sufficient. Is it or isn't it sufficient?

I'd love to know the things that the apostles said that weren't inscripturated. The issue is that God saw fit for those things to be lost to the Church, given that Scripture is sufficient for everything that we need as Christians.

The Apostolic Traditions are hardly lost. It doesn't take much effort to read Ignatius, Clement, and Polycarp, each of whom was taught by an Apostle and each of whom individually agrees with the other.

The Protestant position that I am aware of seeks to discount as not authoritative those writings which some claim to be apostolic tradition, but are not inspired, nor in reality apostolic.

Ah, so you're one of those "Great Apostasy" believers too? So, which is it -- did the early Christians all conspire together to distort the real teachings of the Apostles or did they all just so happen to misunderstand the Apostles but completely (miraculously?) agree with each other in said misunderstandings?

As to how this statement could conceivably follow from my position, I have no idea.

Protestants say that tradition is unnecessary because Scripture is sufficient. You said the Gospel of John is sufficient, therefore, using the Protestant definition of sufficiency, none of the rest of the Scriptures are necessary.

John said...

"There is no one good, only God is good. Luke 18:19"

Oh yes, and how is that a winner for you? Did you honestly think I would go "Oh yes, Rhology has hit a winner, we don't subscribe to verse XYZ", devoid of any commentary or explanation of your argument?

louis said...

David,

I guess I'm still missing your point. Can you answer the question I posed to you earlier? How would this supposed logical problem be any different as it applies to oral tradition?

Say John is preaching in Ephesus, and Luke is preaching in Rome. Could either one of them, by himself, give information sufficient for salvation, even though he is not using the same words and phrases, or even recounting the same identical events as the other?

David said...

louis:

You can't throw it back at me; I didn't make the claim. I disagree with the claim, in fact. I don't think that either John's or Luke's gospels contain absolutely everything essential, which is why we have both (and two more) gospels in the Scriptures, as well as many other writings (and tradition). Nor do I think that either of their gospels contains the entirety of each respective figure's teachings. The obvious evidence for this is in the New Testament itself, where John is the author of three additional letters as well as the Apocalypse, and Luke is the author of Acts (and possibly Hebrews, though Barnabas seems more likely to me), and was also a follow of Paul, which means that, more than likely, he was the scribe of several of Paul's letters and most certainly ascribes to everything taught in Paul's letters.

The logical and historical absurdities of Sola Scriptura (and Protestant thought in general) never fail to amaze me.

louis said...

David,

You did make a claim. You claimed that there was a "logical problem" with my statement. I think if you reflect on the question I posed, it may refine your thinking on that.

As for your other comments, I really don't have time to keep up with a blog debate; but if you'd like, feel free to email me at tzuzaki@yahoo.com and we can follow up.

(BTW, are you at Ft. Gordon? I did my training there many years ago.)

Take care,

Vox Veritatis said...

David,

I see a lot of straw men lying on the ground here....

But you said John's gospel was sufficient. Is it or isn't it sufficient?

Sufficient for what? Formulate an argument that isn't based upon equivocation or ambiguity, and I'll deal with it further.

The Apostolic Traditions...

You're misunderstanding my point. I'm not denying that the early church writings are of value for both spiritual edification and historical theology. However, I am denying that they are inspired, and thus denying that they are authoritative. I'm also not denying that some (perhaps many) apostolic teachings are found therein, especially in Ignatius, Polycarp, etc. But inasmuch as those writings do other than quote Scripture, they are not inspired, and you have no way of knowing that those things were actually said by the apostles themselves. Unless you can give me something akin to a transcription of the sermons of Peter and Paul, you have no way of knowing anything else that the apostles might have said, outside of Scripture itself. Positing a "Great Apostasy" is also absurd (and a straw man), as some of those writings are quite Scriptural. But as they are not inspired, they are not authoritative, and inasmuch as they are not written by apostles, they are not apostolic.

Protestants say that tradition is unnecessary because Scripture is sufficient. You said the Gospel of John is sufficient, therefore, using the Protestant definition of sufficiency, none of the rest of the Scriptures are necessary.

Once again, formulate an argument that doesn't rely upon equivocation or ambiguity with respect to the term "sufficient," and I'll deal with it. As it is, this is nothing more than a straw man.

Rhology said...

The logical and historical absurdities of Sola Scriptura (and Protestant thought in general) never fail to amaze me.

Well, given that you apparently think that "Let's get rid of it then (and the rest of the Bible too -- yes, that includes Romans; I know, I know, Protestants really like that one, but it's not necessary anymore, right?)." is a good argument, I'm not going to lose much sleep over what you think.

David said...

louis:

BTW, are you at Ft. Gordon?

I just got here a couple of weeks ago from Fort Hood, TX. I'm permanent party here, but I see a whole lot of the trainees around! I work with one of the intelligence units here. Haven't been here long enough to make a full judgment, but I like Fort Gordon and Augusta a lot so far; very different from the Fort Hood/Killeen here. I take it you were a signals guy when you were in?

David said...

Vox:

Sufficient for what?

I'm not so sure myself, as I'm only quoting and paraphrasing what louis and you have said and then pointing out how it doesn't make sense. Louis used the two quotes he gave from the Gospels of John and Luke as prooftexts for Sola Scriptura. All I was trying to do is point out that these don't work because each of the respective quotes refers only to the Gospel in which it is written, as they were written as separate works and not compiled into our current 27-book New Testament until hundreds of years later.

Positing a "Great Apostasy" is also absurd (and a straw man)

I agree that it's absurd, but I don't think it's a straw man, as Rhology has adopted more or less that position himself. I think that positing a Great Apostasy becomes a necessity if one reads the early Fathers and continues to choose to be a Protestant, as they clearly disagree with a very large portion of Protestant belief. You don't have to claim that the early Church Fathers' writings were divinely inspired to admit that they accurately preserved the Faith of the Apostles. Divine inspiration isn't necessary in order not to lie or distort. The fact of the matter is that all of the early Christians (outside of the heretical sects like the Gnostics and Marcionites) held a great number of beliefs which directly contradict Protestantism (but, by the way, I agree with Orthodoxy), including the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Baptismal Regeneration, the importance of both Scripture and Tradition together, etc. I've seen all three of these beliefs I've named here referred to as "heretical" by Protestants; if these beliefs are heretical, then the early Church clearly had fallen into mass ("great") apostasy. So, in the end, we come down to the realization that the early Church was, to put it simply, not Protestant: and so we move to one of two logical conclusions: either 1. they were right, and Protestants are wrong or 2. they were wrong and Protestants are right. One of them leads you away from Protestantism, and the other alleges a Great Apostasy. And that's the only two options a Protestant has.

Rhology said...

Rhology has adopted more or less that position himself.

Not really. Remnant, remember? I've been over that more than once with you.

I don't get your "sufficient, so it follows that nothing else SHOULD be". Why? Maybe God wanted to give a little more than the barebones. You know, go crazy, give the Holy Spirit to sanctify ALONG WITH Christ's sacrifice, instead of just being our propitiation and not being our friend and Father. The whole generosity thing. That might be foreign to you, especially since you gotta kinda hedge against talking to God directly all the time and tell us we can ask saints for help and maybe we'll even have a better chance of getting what we ask for than if we'd just asked Jesus, but the concept is not foreign to the biblical authors, or those who follow said authors - the Reformed.

And I think that positing a Great Apostasy becomes a necessity if one reads the early Fathers and continues to choose to be a EO, as they clearly disagree with a very large portion of EO belief. Not my fault if you won't be consistent.

David said...

Not really. Remnant, remember?

Right, and if there's a "remnant" then the majority had to have fallen away, hence "great apostasy." And there's also the point, brought up to you on more than one occasion, that in order to make such a theory a viable one, historically speaking, you must be able to account for that remnant at any given point in history. You've failed to do so; let me help you a little: your remnant, at least for the early Church, is clearly the Marcionites and the Gnostics, the former group being the inventors of Sola Fide and Sola Scriptura, the latter group being the forefathers of those beliefs which would later become the five points of Calvinism. So, I've accounted for your remnant for a couple of hundred years anyway, but now you've got a whole new set of problems to deal with.

I don't get your "sufficient, so it follows that nothing else SHOULD be". Why? Maybe God wanted to give a little more than the barebones. You know, go crazy, give the Holy Spirit to sanctify ALONG WITH Christ's sacrifice, instead of just being our propitiation and not being our friend and Father. The whole generosity thing.

Really? No kidding? So why do you choose to dump 2000 years of Church Tradition as being "unnecessary"?

That might be foreign to you, especially since you gotta kinda hedge against talking to God directly all the time and tell us we can ask saints for help and maybe we'll even have a better chance of getting what we ask for than if we'd just asked Jesus, but the concept is not foreign to the biblical authors, or those who follow said authors - the Reformed.

So you never ask anyone to pray for you?

And I think that positing a Great Apostasy becomes a necessity if one reads the early Fathers and continues to choose to be a EO, as they clearly disagree with a very large portion of EO belief. Not my fault if you won't be consistent.

Please, as I've asked a million times already, show us how the Orthodox today differ from the early Church Fathers. I named specific beliefs (in this case, Real Presence, Baptismal Regeneration, and Scripture+Tradition); the least you could do is do the same.

Rhology said...

Since the OT paradigm is remnant all the way thru, I am glad to hold to it. Call it what you want.


you must be able to account for that remnant at any given point in history.

1) I'm not trying to deal with it HISTORICALLY speaking, but THEOLOGICALLY.
2) One can't acct for the remnant all thru the OT. I don't see a reason to shoulder that burden.


So why do you choose to dump 2000 years of Church Tradition as being "unnecessary"?

1) We haven't dumped it all.
2) What we "dump", we dump b/c it conflicts with Scr. You should know this but you're being petulant.
3) The rest we are given freedom in, and there's no responsibility to keep it; can if you want, otherwise don't.


So you never ask anyone to pray for you?

So disingenuous!


as I've asked a million times already, show us how the Orthodox today differ from the early Church Fathers.

I've already showed you in at least three places. You show no sign of changing your argument or your mind; I don't see why I should keep repeating myself to such an obstinate, seared conscience.

David said...

1) I'm not trying to deal with it HISTORICALLY speaking, but THEOLOGICALLY.

And any valid theology should be historically valid as well. If two facts contradict, then one of the two isn't a fact.

2) What we "dump", we dump b/c it conflicts with Scr.

Really? So how does celebrating the Church calendar of feasts and fasts conflict with Scripture?

3) The rest we are given freedom in, and there's no responsibility to keep it; can if you want, otherwise don't.

The early Church Fathers were clear in stating that the practices and beliefs you say here you have no responsibility to keep are essential to the Faith. Yet another way in which they apostasized, I take it?

So disingenuous!

How? How are the two not the same?

I've already showed you in at least three places.

Maybe my memory is failing me, but I think these are what you're referring to:

1. Clement and Sola Fide: I suggest you finish reading Clement's letter.

2. The calendar: not an early Church issue, so not a way in which we differ from the early Church Fathers.

3. Re-baptism of heretics: actually, both positions are still represented in the Church today.


So, no, you haven't shown me a single way.

Perhaps you can find an early Church Father who didn't believe in the Real Presence or Baptismal regeneration? Now, that would be interesting. (By the way, I can name a few early "Christians" who didn't believe in these things: Marcion, Basilides, Simon Magus, Valentinus, Cerenthus)

Vox Veritatis said...

David,

I'm not so sure myself, as I'm only quoting and paraphrasing what louis and you have said...

I can't speak for Louis, but what I've written is clear in this regard. I must conclude that you are unwilling to read what I've written and deal with it. So, as favor to everyone, let me say it again:

-John is sufficient to give cause to believe that Jesus is the Christ (and thus for salvation, by consequence)
-Luke is sufficient to give Theophilus certainty concerning what he had been taught about Christ
-Scripture as a whole is sufficient to accomplish God's purposes, which are (but not necessarily limited to) our knowledge of Him, our sanctification, and our being perfectly equipped for every good work.

Good luck finding a contradiction there with a logically valid argument.

...then pointing out how it doesn't make sense

Of course it doesn't make sense - you're not dealing with my position, and you're equivocating your way into nonsense. Stop knocking down straw men.

Great Apostasy...

Inasmuch as those writings contradict the actual writings of the apostles, and the things that logically follow therefrom, those writings are wrong. Therefore, they are not apostolic.

The fundamental issue here is one of presuppositions, sola Scriptura vs. sola ecclesia, and depending upon one's presuppositions, one will come to a different conclusion about the early church writings. The issue, then, is not so much with the writings themselves, but with the presuppositions that lead one to make certain judgments about those writings. Rhology is in the process of demonstrating the incoherence (and thus inadequacy) of sola ecclesia, so for now, I'll leave it at that.

David said...

Let me make clear once and for all that I do not hold to "sola ecclesia," at least not in the sense that Rhology and others seem to think. If the Church as a whole were to suddenly start saying something that was a departure from the Faith of the Apostles and Fathers, it would be wrong. This has happened in the past. I'm reminded of the story of St. Mark of Ephesus, who was the only Orthodox Bishop not to sign the false union with the Roman Catholics in the later Middle Ages. The Orthodox Church is not a cult like the Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons, taking directives from on high no matter how contrary to Scripture and logic those commands may be. The Church is the Church precisely because it maintains both the physical link with the Apostles and the Faith of the Apostles -- if either is lost, so is the Church. Roman Catholicism is a good example of this -- they have one, but not the other; therefore they are not Orthodox. To accuse us of being "sola ecclesia" is the real strawman here because it makes things sound as if we believe whatever the Church says simply because the Church says it, and that the Church is capable of changing the Faith and practice at will. This is untrue; sorry to burst your bubble.

-John is sufficient ...
-Luke is sufficient ...
-Scripture as a whole is sufficient ...


And I don't have a problem at all with any of that; I agree completely. It is using those two particular verses from John and Luke to support Sola Scriptura that I have a problem with. I'm sure that even you can see the logical problems there.

Inasmuch as those writings contradict the actual writings of the apostles, and the things that logically follow therefrom, those writings are wrong.

So how does the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, for instance, contradict any of the writings contained in the New Testament?

Rhology said...

I have read all of Clement's letter, yes, thank you.
We've discussed the EO practice of talking to dead ppl various times before - anyone can see the sidebar for "Extended and Interesting Convos I've Had".
I already showed you that an official EO source considers the calendar issue a question of one's very salvation. Very telling that you can't bring yourself to interact with the implications thereof.
I take issue with your artificial limitations of "What Reformed and ECFs agree on" to your 3 pet dogmas.

At any rate, I think it's kind of bad form to rehash debate in this combox, since the formal debate is still ongoing. I would encourage you to deal with Vox Veritatis, though - he's a smart guy.

David said...

I have read all of Clement's letter, yes, thank you.

Then I suggest you stop proof-texting a single verse and read it in context.

We've discussed the EO practice of talking to dead ppl various times before

Yes, and you never sufficiently answered the question then either. You object to prayers to the saints because you say it takes time away from talking to God directly and because the saints' prayers are unnecessary because we can talk to God directly. By that logic, why do we ask for anyone's prayers at all? This seems to be a recurring problem in our conversations; you refuse to take your statements and beliefs to their logical conclusions and be consistent.

I already showed you that an official EO source considers the calendar issue a question of one's very salvation.

That's fine. And what does it have to do with the early Church Fathers? I asked for ways that the early Church Fathers differ from modern Orthodox and you give me a modern dispute over the calendar. Try answering the question. It's very telling that you refuse to show me any Father who agrees with you (outside of the Marcionites and Gnostics) or any who disagrees with me.

I take issue with your artificial limitations of "What Reformed and ECFs agree on" to your 3 pet dogmas.

Okay, find me one who believes in any of the five points of Calvinism. I've asked for these time and again. Your refusal to present them is telling. Do you not understand the problem with the fact that none of those who were taught by the Apostles proclaimed any of the five points of Calvinism, but that the usurping Gnostics did? You really don't see a historical and logical problem with that?

At any rate, I think it's kind of bad form to rehash debate in this combox, since the formal debate is still ongoing. I would encourage you to deal with Vox Veritatis, though - he's a smart guy.

Fair enough.

beowulf2k8 said...

"Also, I'm curious - do you hold to Sola Scriptura?" You might could call it Sola Scriptura but not Tota Scriptura.

Vox Veritatis said...

John,

And I don't have a problem at all with any of that; I agree completely.

I'm glad that we finally agree on something. ;-)

However, I do wish to draw out the implications of this. My third point (which you say that you agree completely with) is that Scripture, as a whole, is sufficient to accomplish our sanctification and being perfectly equipped for every good work. Now, if there are doctrines (such as concerning justification, the sacraments, etc.) that we are to learn, is it not part of our sanctification that we learn them, and set ourselves apart to God to live according to them? Is it not a good work to believe such things and do according to them (and by contrast, not a good work not to do them)? Is it not a good work to teach such doctrines to others, and to correct others when they believe and practice wrongly? Yet, I stated that Scripture is sufficient to accomplish every good work, and if believing and doing according to the truths of doctrines are good works, then Scripture is sufficient to accomplish my belief in the truth and my action in orthopraxy. Given that you agree with my point, would you agree with its implication?

Now, if Scripture is sufficient to accomplish my belief in the truth, then are there any doctrines that you hold to that cannot be derived from Scripture alone (without reference to the ECFs or any other source)? If so, then how can Scripture be sufficient, pursuant to my third point? If not, then why is it such a big deal that the ECFs be considered authoritative, given that Scripture itself is sufficient in this regard? If (for the sake of argument) the ECF's are authoritative, then they are redundant for my sanctification, etc., given the sufficiency of Scripture pursuant to my third point. But if this is the case, then as Protestants, we possess no less of an ability to come to the truth as you do, since we both possess standards that are sufficient to bring us to the truth. Given this, then, why is the authority of the ECFs such a point of contention?

It is using those two particular verses from John and Luke to support Sola Scriptura that I have a problem with. I'm sure that even you can see the logical problems there.

I would say that those verses are consistent with and corroborate sola Scriptura, but they do not prove the doctrine by themselves.

Real Presence...

Do you mean the Reformed concept of the Lord's Supper?

Sola Ecclesia...

I don't want to misrepresent your position. However, if you have a body of non-Scriptural writings that you consider authoritative, over and against other writings which are not, on what basis do you conclude that writing X is authoritative and writing Y is not? You would need a non-subjective standard. However, I don't see how one would obtain such a standard (having rejected sola Scriptura), apart from a magisterium of some sort. I'm not saying that eastern orthodox believers are the equivalent of theological robots - what I am saying is that if one's standard of what is authoritative does not come from revelation itself, then it has to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is a group of men. Is this inaccurate? If so, where does your standard of what is authoritative come from?

John said...

"Now, if Scripture is sufficient to accomplish my belief in the truth, then are there any doctrines that you hold to that cannot be derived from Scripture alone (without reference to the ECFs or any other source)? If so, then how can Scripture be sufficient, pursuant to my third point?"

Because your concept of sufficiency is stupid. When Paul wrote 2 Timothy he was referring to the old testament, and the old testament was not sufficient even at that time for teaching all Christian doctrine by itself. QED, your concept of sufficiency is ahistorical.

" if you have a body of non-Scriptural writings that you consider authoritative"

Are we talking about the church fathers here or what?

"what I am saying is that if one's standard of what is authoritative does not come from revelation itself, then it has to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is a group of men. Is this inaccurate?"

The Church Fathers are witnesses to tradition (aka revelation).

"If so, where does your standard of what is authoritative come from? "

Nobody doubts the Church fathers are witnesses to the tradition of the early church. What you doubt is the authority of the tradition.

David said...

My third point (which you say that you agree completely with) is that Scripture, as a whole, is sufficient to accomplish our sanctification and being perfectly equipped for every good work.

That is correct, although the verse you are paraphrasing from and trying to apply was only intended by St. Paul to refer to the Old Testament (his Old Testament, by the way, was the Septuagint and included the deuterocanonicals -- something good to keep in mind). If we can acknowledge that St. Paul intended to refer only to the Old Testament, then I'm willing to allow that we (again, not he) can extend it to the rest of the Scriptures as well.

Our issue now becomes one of correct interpretation of Scripture. And this is precisely what Apostolic Tradition is -- the correct interpretation of Scripture. As St. Clement of Alexandria says, it is the meaning of the words which has been "mystically wedded" to those words.

And the Church Fathers, while not authorities in themselves, are witnesses to this Tradition, a Tradition deriving from the Apostles, and not, as Calvinism is, a tradition of men which puts the word of God at naught.

I'll put the same question to you which I put to Rhology -- why does it not bother you, on a logical level, that you can't find a single early Church Father supporting either Sola Scriptura or Sola Fide, nor any of the five points of Calvinism (I assume that you're a Calvinist -- correct me if I'm wrong), but that the usurpers and liars known as the Marcionites held to both Sole Fide and Sola Scriptura and that the usurpers and liars known as the Gnostics held to all of what would later become the five points of Calvinism? For that matter, how does it not bother you that all of the early Church Fathers held to a great many beliefs, such as the Real Presence and Baptismal regeneration, which you, alongside the Gnostics, reject?
How is this not a problem on a logical level?

Now, if there are doctrines (such as concerning justification, the sacraments, etc.) that we are to learn, is it not part of our sanctification that we learn them, and set ourselves apart to God to live according to them?

Yes, of course.

Is it not a good work to believe such things and do according to them (and by contrast, not a good work not to do them)?

Right.

Is it not a good work to teach such doctrines to others, and to correct others when they believe and practice wrongly?

Very correct.

Yet, I stated that Scripture is sufficient to accomplish every good work, and if believing and doing according to the truths of doctrines are good works, then Scripture is sufficient to accomplish my belief in the truth and my action in orthopraxy.

Indeed it is, if rightly interpreted, the right interpretation not being that which was invented by an arrogant, violent (and remarkably unholy) Frenchmen of the later Middle Ages (I refer here to Calvin) based upon the writings of a man who stands alone amongst the Fathers in holding such opinions and whose opinions were in turn the result of a bad Latin translation of Scripture, a disconnection from the rest of the Church, and a number of Gnostic assumptions (I refer here to Augustine of Hippo) and which ideas appeal to our fallen intellect and prideful hearts. The right interpretation of the Scriptures is that given by the Apostles to those whom they would appoint to be the overseers and guardians of the Churches (that is, the Apostolic Fathers) and, of course, their heirs (that is, the Church Fathers), and of course their modern day heirs (the Bishops of the Orthodox Church) and to those ideas (or, rather, to that Church, as Christianity is not a pagan philosophy like Protestants would have it be, but a real living eucharistic community) we should submit ourselves in all humility because these are from Christ.

David said...

Given that you agree with my point, would you agree with its implication?

Yes. :)

Now, if Scripture is sufficient to accomplish my belief in the truth, then are there any doctrines that you hold to that cannot be derived from Scripture alone (without reference to the ECFs or any other source)?

Such a question is nonsensical. See above.

If so, then how can Scripture be sufficient, pursuant to my third point?

See above.

If not, then why is it such a big deal that the ECFs be considered authoritative, given that Scripture itself is sufficient in this regard?

Both Rhology and you are creating strawmen, as you try to attribute to the Orthodox a kind of belief in the "divine inspiration" or "inherent authority" of some misguided concept of "the Church" or of "the Fathers." The Fathers are neither divinely inspired nor authoritative in and of themselves. They are witnesses to the Apostolic Tradition.

Let me use an allegory to explain:
You live many years (hundreds of them) in the future. You want to know about Thomas Jefferson and get a deeper insight into his writings and their meanings (such as, for instance, the Declaration of Independence). Do you:

a. take as "gospel truth" the interpretation of said document by an individual who lives 1300 years from now in a place with a very different culture, language, topography, and ways of communicating and thinking (say, Saudi Arabia) and who speaks no English.

OR

b. go to the writings of the various individuals who knew Thomas Jefferson in his lifetime for themselves and even were taught by him and spent years living with him

????

The answer should be obvious. And so it is in the case of Biblical interpretation.

To not regard the Apostolic Fathers as witnesses of the firmest kind is blasphemous. Imagine if the Saudi interpreter of the year 3300 mentioned above were to scoff at the writings of Jefferson's friends and claim they all got Jefferson's meaning wrong and he was finally able to get it right. You'd laugh at him. You wouldn't take him seriously.

And neither do the Orthodox. To deny the witness of Ss. Polycarp, Ignatius, Mathetes, Justin, Clement, Papias, Hermas, and Irenaeus is to call them all liars, frauds, and charlatans. You find yourself (as Rhology has done in calling these men heretical) undermining the very foundations of the Christian Church -- mocking men who preserved the Scriptures and the Church, more often than not with their own blood. And you find yourself calling the Apostles fools for 1. apparently, not being very good teachers as none of their direct disciples seem to have understood them and 2. appointing said disciples-without-understanding to be the overseers and guardians of the Churches. This is not only blasphemy, but nonsense.

But if this is the case, then as Protestants, we possess no less of an ability to come to the truth as you do, since we both possess standards that are sufficient to bring us to the truth.

No, you've got half the story, which is just as good as none of it. What you've got, essentially, is Dostoevsky all in Russian and you can't read Cyrillic script.

David said...

Given this, then, why is the authority of the ECFs such a point of contention?

See above.

I would say that those verses are consistent with and corroborate sola Scriptura, but they do not prove the doctrine by themselves

Only if you twist their meaning beyond any logical interpretation.

Do you mean the Reformed concept of the Lord's Supper?

The beliefs differ so widely, it's difficult to tell what you're referring to here. Are you talking about Luther's view or Zwingli's or Calvin's or the modern day Lutheran's or the modern day Calvinist's or...???

I assume you're of the same sect as Rhology (correct me if I'm wrong), so:

From wikipedia: Baptists do not hold Communion, nor the elements thereof, as sacramental; rather, it is considered to be an act of remembrance of Christ's atonement, and a time of renewal of personal commitment.

No. And where do you get Real Presence from this?

I don't want to misrepresent your position. However, if you have a body of non-Scriptural writings that you consider authoritative,

If you don't want to misrepresent my position then please stop claiming that I view the early Church Fathers are inherently authoritative in anything approaching the same sense as Scripture.

over and against other writings which are not, on what basis do you conclude that writing X is authoritative and writing Y is not?

Writing x was written by St. Clement of Rome, who was directly taught and ordained (that is, appointed as heir) by St. Paul the Apostle and also knew St. Peter the Apostle -- he is therefore an effective witness of the teachings of said Apostles. Writing y was written by Marcion of Sinope, Augustine of Hippo, or John Calvin (take your pick -- they're all the same) who was not taught by an apostle, didn't speak the same language (except in Marcion's case) as the Apostles, and didn't share anything in common with the Apostles at all (come to think of it).

You would need a non-subjective standard.

Precisely -- such as submission to the Church which was founded by the Holy Spirit through the Apostles and which Christ promised to guide and lead and preserve for eternity, and not my own fallen, prideful intellect and ego.

However, I don't see how one would obtain such a standard (having rejected sola Scriptura), apart from a magisterium of some sort.

And yet we lack one in the sense you put forward.

I'm not saying that eastern orthodox believers are the equivalent of theological robots - what I am saying is that if one's standard of what is authoritative does not come from revelation itself, then it has to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is a group of men. Is this inaccurate?

You are right on the money! Now apply your words in their correct sense. You choose to deny divine revelation (that is, Apostolic Tradition and the Apostolic Church which preserves said Tradition -- said Tradition being the correct interpretation of Scripture) in favor of what is supplied "by a group of men" (Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Pope Leo III, etc.)

If so, where does your standard of what is authoritative come from?

The Orthodox are, if anything in the "Sola" categories, Sola Vox Dei (I'm not sure whether I am coining that term or even if it's grammatically correct in the original, but you get the meaning): God's word alone. We accept the revelation of God, the whole of it, not just what appeals to our fallen minds.

Anonymous said...

As a former Pentecostal I understand the frustration and confusion that Protestants have to face when trying to understand the OC's position on "Sola Scriptura". Essentially I realized that in trying to interpret the Bible on my own was nonsensical because anyone can individually interpret the Bible as they wish. Now this lead me to question, how do we know if we are reading something correctly? After all, something as important and crucial to our salvation as the word of God, is not something you want to misinterpret.
As Orthodox we are told to question our hearts because, of course, we are not perfect. It is easy for one to give in to our own pride, emotions, wants and needs. How easy for me to appoint my self as the sole interpreter of Scripture so that I can do as I please, after all If I interpret the Bible as I want to fit my needs, I can feel good about everything I do. What I'm getting at is that Sola Scriptura will naturally lead to pride and feed into our own sinful passions. Though we may not do this consciously, it is natural to want to feel like we our right believing. If we do not have someone who is holy to interpret the Bible for us then we are pridefully calling ourselves worthy to interpret the Scriptures and why would God allow for so much divisions in those churches who practice "Sola Scriptura" if that is the correct way of interpreting the Scriptures? Protestants are so afraid of the word tradition, but we are all driven by tradition essentially. Our past and our experiences shape our beliefs so there is no such thing as "sola scriptura", it is like trying to interpret a piece of art, everyone will have a different view and interpretation of it. The Church Fathers and martyrs of the OC, were persecuted so that Christianity would be preserved for us. Look at the Fathers of the Church, martyrs and history of Orthodoxy and it is self evident that the OC stands apart from Christianity today. I would rather choose the interpretation of the Bible from someone who lived and lives as Christ lived, with love, humility and fear of God.

Nina

Rhology said...

hi Nina,

Thanks for stopping by, and I'm sure DavidW agrees with me in hoping you find our debate useful, worthwhile reading, and that it would bless you.


Essentially I realized that in trying to interpret the Bible on my own was nonsensical because anyone can individually interpret the Bible as they wish.

Please also realize that in trying to interpret the ECFs or proclamations of the EOC or a priest's homily or a liturgy on one's own is nonsensical because anyone can individually interpret those things as they wish.
In other words, this objection proves too much, and should be abandoned. Unfortunately, it's an all too common one.



Now this lead me to question, how do we know if we are reading something correctly? After all, something as important and crucial to our salvation as the word of God, is not something you want to misinterpret.

Now this lead me to question, how do we know if we are reading the ECFs or proclamations of the EOC or a priest's homily or a liturgy correctly? After all, something as important and crucial to our salvation as the the ECFs or proclamations of the EOC or a priest's homily or a liturgy, is not something you want to misinterpret.



As Orthodox we are told to question our hearts because, of course, we are not perfect.

The Bible makes that extremely clear as well. 1 Thess 5, 2 Cor 13:5, 1 Cor 14, John 10, etc.


How easy for me to appoint my self as the sole interpreter of Scripture so that I can do as I please, after all If I interpret the Bible as I want to fit my needs, I can feel good about everything I do. What I'm getting at is that Sola Scriptura will naturally lead to pride and feed into our own sinful passions.

How easy for me to appoint my self as the sole interpreter of the ECFs or proclamations of the EOC or a priest's homily or a liturgy so that I can do as I please, after all If I interpret the ECFs or proclamations of the EOC or a priest's homily or a liturgy as I want to fit my needs, I can feel good about everything I do. What I'm getting at is that Sola Ecclesia will naturally lead to pride and feed into our own sinful passions.



Protestants are so afraid of the word tradition,

I'm sorry you labor under that misconception.
1) "Protestants" is not a useful term. Let's pick a church and go with that. Would you like to talk about Southern Baptists (since I go to a SoBap church) or Reformed Baptists (since I am a Reformed Baptist), or something else? You may choose, but please choose a meaningful category.
2) I have affirmed at least once in this very thread that I have many traditions. I'm not afraid of them at all; I merely follow Jesus' command and example in Mark 7:1-13 to submit every one of them to what God has revealed in the Scripture.

(to be continued)

Rhology said...

(concluded here)


Our past and our experiences shape our beliefs so there is no such thing as "sola scriptura", it is like trying to interpret a piece of art, everyone will have a different view and interpretation of it.

You don't understand Sola Scriptura, then. I encourage you to reread my opening statement.


I would rather choose the interpretation of the Bible from someone who lived and lives as Christ lived, with love, humility and fear of God.

Me too, so I choose to go with Jesus' interp, as well as Paul's, John's, Peter's, etc. I can find all of that in the Scr itself.

I hope you understand I am in no way trying to mock you. I'm just showing how these common arguments are easily and justifiably turned back on themselves, and thus are meritless. I urge you to return to the ranks of us who give God-breathed Scripture the proper place - the final infallible rule of faith.

Peace,
Rhology

(PS - DavidW, please don't respond to any of this in this thread; I wouldn't consider that a fair usage of the thread. I would have no objection, however, if you wanted to make your own blogpost out of it or sthg like that. I might do that myself. I think you'd agree - that's why we decided on the formal format in the first place, no? Thanks for your understanding.)

David said...

Rhology:

Not a problem at all. I'm more than willing to delete my own posts from last night if you think those go over the line. I figured it was a different story because I was responding to to Vox and not to you. Let me know either way.

Rhology said...

No no, keep those, they're good stuff between you and he.

I was just saying that you and I shouldn't directly address each other in these comment repository threads.

David said...

Rho:

You mean like right now?

Just kidding ;) I gotcha.

Vox Veritatis said...

David,

Before responding to your comments at length, I wish to ask some clarifying questions:

1) Basically, you are claiming that Scripture is sufficient for X (where X are the things we both agreed upon earlier), but that Scripture alone is not sufficient - that to accomplish these purposes for which it is sufficient, it must be read with another body of statements alongside, called Apostolic Tradition, which properly interprets Scripture. Is this accurate?

2) How do you define the terms "interpret" and "interpretation"?

3) Can you give me a definition and explanation of the process of "mystical wedding" of the meaning of a group of words to another set of words (per the Clement of Alexandria reference)? How do you know that such a process has actually occurred?

I have more questions, but let's focus on these for now.

David said...

Vox:

1) Basically, you are claiming that Scripture is sufficient for X (where X are the things we both agreed upon earlier), but that Scripture alone is not sufficient - that to accomplish these purposes for which it is sufficient, it must be read with another body of statements alongside, called Apostolic Tradition, which properly interprets Scripture. Is this accurate?

Yes and no; the question is built on a false premise, namely, that "Scripture alone" in a radical sense is really even possible. The Scriptures were never intended either by their authors or by the later individuals who preserved and compiled them to be used "alone" as in separate from the Church. They were always intended to be used within the ecclesia -- the sacred community of believers, deriving its origin from the working of the Holy Spirit in the Apostles.

To attempt to separate the Scriptures from the Church is to take them out of their proper context. To refer back to my former allegory about Jefferson, try reading the Declaration of Independence without the context of either the Age of Reason nor even of American history. You end up severely distorting the meaning of the words to the point where you make them to mean something entirely different from what they were intended to mean. You said this yourself when you made your statement about the ideas of men filling the gap left by getting rid of a part of divine revelation -- I couldn't have said it better myself.

2) How do you define the terms "interpret" and "interpretation"?

Orthodoxy and orthopraxy -- right understanding of the meaning of the words and right application of those words.

3) Can you give me a definition and explanation of the process of "mystical wedding" of the meaning of a group of words to another set of words (per the Clement of Alexandria reference)? How do you know that such a process has actually occurred?

Sacred Apostolic Tradition is not a "set of words" -- it is not a text or even a set of texts. It is the living experience of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and leadership of Christ. It is the phronema, the mind of the Church. There was no "process" in this wedding; not anymore than there was a "process" by which the Declaration of Independence was wedded to the ideas of the Enlightenment and the living experience of the American nation.

All of the Fathers, in writing against the Marcionites and Gnostics, made a very important point, which applies equally to Protestants today. Tertullian, Irenaeus, and Clement of Alexandria probably expressed it most cogently. The point they made against these heretics was that, as they stand outside of the Church (which is the body of Christ), they necessarily are incapable of grasping the correct meaning of the words of Scripture, because the Scripture was written within the Church, by the Church, for the Church.

Tertullian goes as far as to say, and I think I agree with him more and more, that we shouldn't argue with the heretics concerning the meaning of Scripture at all, as they are incapable of understanding it (being cut off, as they are, from the Holy Spirit and Christ in the Church). He says that if the heretics are found to be using our Scriptures they are thieves. And he advises us that we should, rather than trying to reason from the Scriptures which are our proper possession, simply direct them to the Church which was founded by the Apostles and which, because of that fact, stands self-evidently as true.

Lucian said...

So, in other words, you contradict the teaching and command of the Holy Apostle based on your own feeling of insecurity and modern skepticism. -- which is fine, but I don't see how this addresses David's point.


With so many competing candidates for "Sacred Tradition" ...

With so many competing candidates for "Sacred Scriptures" ... [i.e., all the various doctrines covered by the general umbrella-term `Protestatism`].

Lucian said...

The short answer to your latest post/question is that it's not the canon of Scripture that matters so much, but the canon of truth (ie, the content [dogmatical and moral] of our faith).

For instance, if You'ld add the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shephard of Hermas or the Epistles of Clement to the canon, you'ld add nothing to the faith;

and if You'ld subtract Esther or Jude or 2nd Peter or Revelations or Hebrews from it, then You'ld subtract nothing from the faith either.

And it is this canon of truth that served as the church's basis for determining the canon of Scripture.

Vox Veritatis said...

David,

Since I'm short on time (and thus running behind in this combox), I'll make my comments brief.

Concerning what you said about Calvin, Jefferson, and the like, the analogy is inadequate. It would be more accurate to compare Calvin to a scholar who reads the writings of Jefferson himself, on his political philosophy (and not just his life and other details of historical note), and notes that his students either misunderstood him, were persuaded to a different position from his at some later point, or simply went beyond what Jefferson said at certain points. Calvin didn't formulate anything new, and no Calvinist that I am aware of relies upon Calvin. He (as we do), simply read Scripture for what it says, and go from there. If the "students" contradict the writings of the "teacher," then the students got at least something wrong, no matter how much to the contrary one wants to believe otherwise.

As for Calvinism relying upon gnostic assumptions, I find your claims to be extremely dubious, and would request that you provide scholarly sources to substantiate this claim. But even more so, I can derive the Doctrines of Grace from sources much older than the Gnostics - from Jesus Himself, and the apostle Paul. Thus, I find these claims to highly dubious. On the other hand, it seems to me that your view of the "correct interpretation" of Scripture, as found only within the church itself (as you say that heretics are incapable of understanding it (being cut off, as they are, from the Holy Spirit and Christ in the Church)), is more like an esoteric Gnostic gnosis than anything that Reformed theology has ever deduced from Scripture.

Vox Veritatis said...

Now on to some specific things you said in your last comment:

Sacred Apostolic Tradition is not a "set of words" -- it is not a text or even a set of texts.

In a previous comment, you said the following: And this is precisely what Apostolic Tradition is -- the correct interpretation of Scripture. As St. Clement of Alexandria says, it is the meaning of the words which has been "mystically wedded" to those words.. If this does not refer to Apostolic Tradition being word-based, then perhaps you could enlighten me as how to navigate the linguistic ambiguities of this statement?

It [Tradition] is the living experience of the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and leadership of Christ. It is the phronema, the mind of the Church.

So, if the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of Christ, in staying faithful to Him and His Word, experiences persecution, is this persecution Sacred Apostolic Tradition? After all, it is the experience of the Church. Furthermore, as the Church is a corporate body comprised of individual members, the experience of the Church is comprised the experiences of its members. Now, I suppose that you consider yourself to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of Christ in interacting with me in this combox (otherwise, wouldn't you be disobeying God in some way?), and in this combox, you are experiencing my comments, as you read them. Are my comments then Sacred Apostolic Tradition? If not (as I suspect you will say), on what basis are such things to be distinguished within "the experience of the Church"?

Perhaps a more pointed question is appropriate: Is Sacred Apostolic Tradition propositional in nature? If not, what is its essential characteristic?

You said this yourself when you made your statement about the ideas of men filling the gap left by getting rid of a part of divine revelation -- I couldn't have said it better myself.

Please provide this quote verbatim, and explain how it supports your position.

Yes and no; the question is built on a false premise, namely, that "Scripture alone" in a radical sense is really even possible.

No, there is no false premise involved. Logically, the term "sufficient" has an implicit closed-world assumption - that whatever is sufficient is adequate on its own. To say "X is sufficient," but to say that "X alone is sufficient relies upon a false assumption" is simply to abuse the English language and contradict oneself. What you've stated, apparently, using the common English senses of the term, is that Scripture is not sufficient, but rather that the Church is necessary, and thus that Scripture and the Church are sufficient, but not Scripture itself.

Regarding interpretation, you say that it is: Orthodoxy and orthopraxy -- right understanding of the meaning of the words and right application of those words. But cannot an interpretation be wrong? We certainly use this kind of language all the time. I would assume that you would say that I interpret some Scriptures wrongly. But by your definition, I would not be intepreting them at all! Really, what I would be doing is not understanding the meaning rightly, and thus not interpreting the Scriptures. But if I am not interpreting the Scriptures, what exactly am I doing? And if I am not interpreting the Scriptures by assiging a meaning to them (though the meaning be wrong), how is this not an abuse of the English language to assign your sense to the word "interpret"?

John said...

" "correct interpretation" of Scripture, as found only within the church itself (as you say that heretics are incapable of understanding it (being cut off, as they are, from the Holy Spirit and Christ in the Church)), is more like an esoteric Gnostic gnosis"

In my experience, Calvinists tend to say that nobody can understand scripture outside of a mystical regeneration of God, and Orthodox say nobody can understand outside of the mystical mind of the Church. On that level they are similar, except that the mind of the Church is a bit more objective than anybody's claim that they are more regenerated than somebody else. Also, finding out the mind of the church is something you can do something about, whereas the former, you can do nothing about.

"Are my comments then Sacred Apostolic Tradition? "

In so far as we experience them negatively, I guess so. And the negative experience of Arianism is also part of the experience of the church.

"Logically, the term "sufficient" has an implicit closed-world assumption - that whatever is sufficient is adequate on its own."

So tell us how you do historical-grammatical exegesis on scripture when it is alone, apart from historical grammatical information.

David said...

Vox:

It would be more accurate to compare Calvin to a scholar who reads the writings of Jefferson himself, on his political philosophy (and not just his life and other details of historical note), and notes that his students either misunderstood him, were persuaded to a different position from his at some later point, or simply went beyond what Jefferson said at certain points.

Which is a laughable thesis, logically speaking. Here we have multiple students (the Apostolic Fathers & all other early Christains) living all over the "world" (Europe, Asia, Africa), taught by multiple teachers (the Apostles) who (presumably) taught the exact same message -- and they all agree precisely on what that message is. And you say that they all somehow magically departed all at once and all in the exact same ways (and even before the death of the last Apostle) from that original message. The Gnostics said the same thing, and Tertullian wrote an excellent response to this silly accusation in his "Prescription against the heretics" -- you might enjoy reading it.

Calvin didn't formulate anything new, and no Calvinist that I am aware of relies upon Calvin. He (as we do), simply read Scripture for what it says, and go from there.

So why call yourself a Calvinist at all? Did you reach your opinions, which you just so happen to hold in common with Calvin, about the correct interpretation of Scripture all by yourself free of any Calvinist influence whatsoever? If not, clearly you rely on Calvin.

If the "students" contradict the writings of the "teacher," then the students got at least something wrong, no matter how much to the contrary one wants to believe otherwise.

In what do the Apostolic Fathers contradict the Apostles?

As for Calvinism relying upon gnostic assumptions, I find your claims to be extremely dubious, and would request that you provide scholarly sources to substantiate this claim.

Okay. David Bentley Hart.
Now, answer this series of questions:
1. Did Calvin rely on Augustine for his theology?
2. Was Manachaeism a Gnostic sect?
3. Was Augustine a former Manichaean?
4. Was Augustine cut-off from the Greek and Syriac Church Fathers (that is, those who actually knew the languages of Scripture itself and made up the majority of the Church)?
5. Was Augustine's version of the Scriptures a rather shabby Latin translation?
6. Did Augustine just so happen, as a result of 3, 4 and 5 to teach much the same thing that Mani taught on quite a few points but which contradict what the entire rest of the Church Fathers taught?

(the answer to all of the above questions is "yes" by the way)

But even more so, I can derive the Doctrines of Grace from sources much older than the Gnostics - from Jesus Himself, and the apostle Paul.

And the Gnostics could do the same with their doctrines, and the Marcionites with theirs, and the Arians with theirs, and the Nestorians with theirs, and the ... I think you get the point. That's why it's important to maintain the Apostolic Faith.

On the other hand, it seems to me that your view of the "correct interpretation" of Scripture, as found only within the church itself (as you say that heretics are incapable of understanding it (being cut off, as they are, from the Holy Spirit and Christ in the Church)), is more like an esoteric Gnostic gnosis than anything that Reformed theology has ever deduced from Scripture.

And yet I derive this view from the early Church Fathers in their arguments against the Gnostics. Have you ever actually read the early Fathers?

David said...

If this does not refer to Apostolic Tradition being word-based, then perhaps you could enlighten me as how to navigate the linguistic ambiguities of this statement?

I'll say it again, replacing the pronouns with the nouns they refer to: And this is precisely what Apostolic Tradition is -- the correct interpretation of Scripture. As St. Clement of Alexandria says, it [Apostolic Tradition] is the meaning of the words [of Scripture] which has been "mystically wedded" to those words [of Scripture]. Where do you get the inference from this that I'm referring to Apostolic Tradition as a text?

So, if the Church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of Christ, in staying faithful to Him and His Word, experiences persecution, is this persecution Sacred Apostolic Tradition?

Yes; and the persecutions the Church has endured under the atheists, Nazis, and Muslims in the 20th century is just as much a part of Apostolic Tradition as are the persecutions under Nero in the 1st century.

Furthermore, as the Church is a corporate body comprised of individual members, the experience of the Church is comprised the experiences of its members.

In a manner of speaking, sure.

Now, I suppose that you consider yourself to be under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the leadership of Christ in interacting with me in this combox (otherwise, wouldn't you be disobeying God in some way?), and in this combox, you are experiencing my comments, as you read them.

In a way, though my words are by no means divinely inspired.

Are my comments then Sacred Apostolic Tradition?

In a way, yes. So were the arguments of the Gnostics in the 2nd century, which is why you're comments are so easily refuted -- they're the same as those. The words of one of the Bishops (I can't remember who) at the 7th ecumenical council have always stood out to me as very true: the last heresy has been defeated, he said, there are no more -- he was right, every one since then has just been a repeat. The old saying is more true than most people think: those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.

If not (as I suspect you will say), on what basis are such things to be distinguished within "the experience of the Church"?

Your expectation was incorrect, so the question doesn't apply.

Perhaps a more pointed question is appropriate: Is Sacred Apostolic Tradition propositional in nature? If not, what is its essential characteristic?

I'm not sure what you mean here; maybe you can explain a bit further.

David said...

Please provide this quote verbatim, and explain how it supports your position.

Here's the quote: "what I am saying is that if one's standard of what is authoritative does not come from revelation itself, then it has to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is a group of men."

Protestants have decided, with absolutely no warrant for doing so, that a significant portion of the Apostolic Faith is unnecessary and/or corrupt, thereby removing the authority from divine revelation -- a group of men (Calvin, Luther, Zwingli, Pope Leo, etc.) have risen to fill the gap.

No, there is no false premise involved. ... is that Scripture is not sufficient, but rather that the Church is necessary, and thus that Scripture and the Church are sufficient, but not Scripture itself.

Is a hammer sufficient to drive a nail into the wall? Well, yes. But you still need your hands and arms to use the hammer -- and, of course, you need to the nail and the wall, otherwise there's nothing to drive and nothing to drive nothing into. So, to set you up for the same false conundrum you try to set me up for: is the hammer sufficient or is it worthless?

Regarding interpretation, you say that it is: Orthodoxy and orthopraxy

I misunderstood your statement; I was referring to a correct interpretation. As to the definition of the word "interpretation" I'm more than happy to let the dictionary decide that. "the meaning or significance of something"

Rhology said...

DavidW's answer to the 3rd cross-ex question is up.

David said...

Rhology:

Thanks for looking out there. I forgot to post links in the comments. My mistake! Sorry about that.

Rhology said...

No problem!

David said...

Posted my third cross-ex question Saturday. I apologize for the delay in putting a link to it here.

Vox Veritatis said...

David,

I apologize for the delay in response, but when life gets busy, other things take priority over blogging.

the Apostolic Fathers...all agree precisely on what that message is

The argument over this point has been rather meaningless because of an ambiguity with respect to these terms. Please define specifically who you consider to be Apostolic Fathers (or which writings you consider to be of the Apostolic Fathers), and the content of "the message that they all agreed precisely on."

So why call yourself a Calvinist at all? Did you reach your opinions, which you just so happen to hold in common with Calvin, about the correct interpretation of Scripture all by yourself free of any Calvinist influence whatsoever? If not, clearly you rely on Calvin.

So, if you're learning a particular sub-discipline of mathematics, and an accomplished mathematician in that field, Mathematician X, provides you with a list of theorems which help you to understand the field while you are learning it. Then later, when you are a more competent mathematician, suppose you go and prove those theorems for yourself. In that case, did you reach your conclusions (the theorems), which you just so happen to hold in common with Mathematician X, about the correct nature of that field all by yourself, free from any of X's influence whatsoever? In a sense, yes, because the methods of proof in mathematics are objective, and reaching a conclusion by those methods is an objective result, independent of the ideas of any specific person. On the other hand, in getting to the place where you could reach that result, you needed the tutelage of X. But the difference is between "relying" upon someone else for edification (or tutelage), vs. relying upon them as an epistemic authority. The authority of a theorem comes from its proof, which is objective, and not from the mathematician who proved it. To say "X proved this theorem, but he's really relying upon mathematician Y, because Y was his teacher" is nothing short of asinine.

In the same way, a Calvinist might have benefited from Calvin with respect to edification, but he can reach his conclusions objectively, on the grounds of Scripture itself. Scripture, not Calvin, is the sole and sufficient authority for the Calvinist and ground for justifying Calvinist doctrine. Thus, your objection here is equivocal, and thus fallacious.

Vox Veritatis said...

David Bentley Hart

That is a name, not a resource. I requested a resource (and preferably a chapter-page citation).

1. Did Calvin rely on Augustine for his theology?

In what sense? For edification or for epistemic justification?

2. Was Manachaeism a Gnostic sect?
3. Was Augustine a former Manichaean?


Yes

4. Was Augustine cut-off from the Greek and Syriac Church Fathers (that is, those who actually knew the languages of Scripture itself and made up the majority of the Church)?

I'm not sure how "cut off" he really was, but I'll accept this point for the sake of argument.

5. Was Augustine's version of the Scriptures a rather shabby Latin translation?

Perhaps, perhaps not. What is your standard for judging the "shabbiness" of a Latin translation? Have you read his Latin Scriptures, in the Latin, to get a feel for their "shabbiness"? If not, how do you know they were so shabby?

6. Did Augustine just so happen, as a result of 3, 4 and 5 to teach much the same thing that Mani taught on quite a few points but which contradict what the entire rest of the Church Fathers taught?

I don't know. Give me some citations of an authoritative representative of Manicheaism (such as Mani himself) and a citation of Augustine that say the same thing - a thing which Calvin also later said and relied upon (perhaps you can quote from his Institutes or commentaries to demonstrate that), followed by some citations of CFs that they contradict. Perhaps then I'll concede this point.

Even beyond these considerations, this argument is laughable in a number of ways:

First, even if Augustine taught Gnostic doctrine, you have to prove that Calvin, in those doctrines specifically Calvinistic, used Augustine as an epistemic authority.

Second, even if Calvin used Augustine as an epistemic authority, you have to prove that the scores of Calvinists - both laymen, clergymen, and published theologians, have accepted those doctrines on the basis of Calvin, as an epistemic authority (or perhaps on the basis of another person, as an epistemic authority, who used Calvin as an epistemic authority). Or bypassing this rather arduous task, you could just demonstrate that the doctrines of Calvinism cannot be justified on the epistemic basis and authority of Scripture, and that they must be justified on the epistemic basis of Calvin's writings. Either way, good luck with that.

Third, your argument defeats itself. Point 3 is that Augustine was a former Manichean. Augustine rejected Manichaeism. Doesn't that suggest that what he taught was not Manichean?

Fourth, for points 4 & 5 to have any weight in your argument, you'll have to demonstrate that Augustine's Latin Scriptures were specifically deficient in areas regarding Gnosticism, such that he could not have used them, as epistemic authorities, to derive doctrines to the contrary. After all, it was presumably by his study of those shabby Scriptures that led him to see the superiority of Christianity to other systems of thought in the first place.

Vox Veritatis said...

And the Gnostics could do the same with their doctrines, and the Marcionites with theirs, and the Arians with theirs, and the Nestorians with theirs, and the ... I thnk you get the point

So, contradicting the Scriptures by appealing to the Scriptures counts as faithfully representing the words and teachings of Jesus and Paul? I must say, this line of argument sounds a lot like atheists and agnostics that I've dealt with - "everyone has their own interpretation of Scripture, so Scripture must not be sufficient." Of course, this is asinine. The problem with aberrant interpretations is the people who make them up, not the Scriptures themselves. The Scriptures admit of an objective, logically-consistent interpretation, and it is this interpretation upon which Calvinist doctrines are based.

That's why it's important to maintain the Apostolic Faith.

I agree that this is important. That's why I read the Scriptures to see what the Apostles actually said.

And yet I derive this view from the early Church Fathers in their arguments against the Gnostics.

This doesn't remove the objection - it only means that the ECFs were themselves acting like Gnostics, inasmuch as they said things to the effect that only those inside the church were capable of understanding Scripture.


And this is precisely what Apostolic Tradition is -- the correct interpretation of Scripture. As St. Clement of Alexandria says, it [Apostolic Tradition] is the meaning of the words [of Scripture] which has been "mystically wedded" to those words [of Scripture]. Where do you get the inference from this that I'm referring to Apostolic Tradition as a text?

That makes more sense, thank you. Even though it makes more sense grammatically, it still doesn't make sense semantically. Can you provide a definition of what it means for something to be "mystically wedded" to a set of words? What is the process of this "mystical wedding"? Where is it described? What are its parameters? How does it operate? Right now, the term seems like nothing more than pious nonsense, but perhaps you can enlighten me.

Yes; and the persecutions the Church has endured under the atheists, Nazis, and Muslims in the 20th century is just as much a part of Apostolic Tradition as are the persecutions under Nero in the 1st century.

So which portions of Scripture exactly, are these experiences the correct interpretations of?

Vox Veritatis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vox Veritatis said...

Are my comments then Sacred Apostolic Tradition? [my words]

In a way, yes.


However, above, you said that this is precisely what Apostolic Tradition is -- the correct interpretation of Scripture. You also said that an "interpretation" is the meaning or significance of something. So, if my words are Apostolic Tradition, then my words are the correct interpretation of Scripture, and thus its true meaning or significance. But if this is true, then why are you arguing with me about all of this, since I'm speaking the truth? Why not submit to my words as the Apostolic Tradition that they are, and simply accept them? Are you in rebellion against Sacred Apostolic Tradition?

Even more so, you say that the arguments of the Gnostics were part of this Tradition. So why are you not a Gnostic? Did not the Gnostics have the correct interpretation of Scripture? Or perhaps you wish to revise either your statement that Apostolic Tradition is the correct interpretation of Scripture, or that it is the experience of the Church? You can't logically have both.

which is why you're comments are so easily refuted -- they're the same as those [the Gnostics]

So, my comments are the same things that the Gnostics said? Please provide quotations from known Gnostics that demonstrate this validity of this claim.

Here's the quote: "what I am saying is that if one's standard of what is authoritative does not come from revelation itself, then it has to come from somewhere else, and that somewhere else is a group of men."

You should read my comments more carefully. That is an ad hominem argument against your position - something that your positions entails. If you wish to own up to the EOC's guilt in doing this very thing, then feel free. But applying this quote to me is rather inane, as my position is that Scripture itself is my standard of what is authoritative. Thus, my standard of what is authoritative does not come from a group of men.

Protestants have decided, with absolutely no warrant for doing so, that a significant portion of the Apostolic Faith is unnecessary and/or corrupt, thereby removing the authority from divine revelation

Which parts of the apostolic faith have been removed? Which parts of divine revelation have been suppressed? On the contrary, Eastern Orthodox believers have decided, with absolutely no warrant for doing so, to place a significant amount of extra-Scriptural material on the same level of epistemic authority as the Word of God, thereby corrupting the Apostolic Faith and removing authority from divine revelation.

Sufficiency...

Scripture is sufficient, but it is assumed, as well as obvious, that the Scriptures must be read (or heard), and mentally processed. Thus, one must be able to hear/read them, and logically think about them. Given this, are the words of Scripture sufficient for one to come to a knowledge of the Truth? The question is pretty simple: given a normal human being, suppose even a Christian, are the Scriptures sufficient for that person to come to a knowledge of the Truth? If you say that anything else is necessary, the answer is no. Therefore, you're simply contradicting yourself when you way that Scripture is sufficient, but that the Church is also necessary. Otherwise, the individual must make use of both Scripture and the Church to come to the knowledge of the truth, in which case Scripture is simply not sufficient.

Rhology said...

My third cross-examination answer.

Jacob Grail-seeker said...

Since the original question was directed at David, I'll let him have the longer answer. But a few words:

I actually like this post, Rho. And I agree with most of the background assumptions. I've actually seen EO guys use these same arguments for their position. I'll let David have the first real answer, though. This should be interesting.

Rhology said...

You mean you liked my 3rd cross-ex answer?
Thanks! :-)

The last thing left on the debate is the final statements, due on 20Feb. In retrospect, a brief response to the cross-ex answer would've been a good addition to the format, like 400 words or something, due in a few days after... live and learn.

Lucian said...

Has he not simply said "trust this church, this one over here, not those others"? Should not a people rather trust their God to tell them how to test and distinguish between the many so-called "churches" vying for our devotion?


Matthew 18:15-18: the church has the power to judge and condemn, to bind and to loose: in other words, authority. So it's NOT JUST the Scriptures that possess authority.

David said...

Vox:

Please define specifically who you consider to be Apostolic Fathers (or which writings you consider to be of the Apostolic Fathers),

I guess I made a mistake in assuming that everyone was familiar with basic Church history terms. The term Apostolic Fathers, to use the definition given in the glossary of one of Bart Ehrman's books, are "early proto-orthodox writers who composed soon after the books of the New Testament were written." I would add to that definition that, in some cases, they wrote even before. The Apostolic Fathers include figures such as St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp of Smyrna, St. Clement of Rome, St. Quadratus of Athens, and St. Justin the Philosopher, as well as writings such as the Didache, the Shepherd of Hermas, and (possibly) the Infancy Gospel of Pseudo-James.

and the content of "the message that they all agreed precisely on."

The Gospel. That Christ was/is God and became man in order to reunite God and man, who had become separated due to man's disobedience (sin). That this same Christ died on the cross as a ransom on our behalf to free us from death, sin, and the devil, saving us from bondage to our former masters and making us sons of God. That this same Christ sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and through them founded his Holy Church. etc...

In the same way, a Calvinist might have benefited from Calvin with respect to edification, but he can reach his conclusions objectively, on the grounds of Scripture itself.

A Jehovah's Witness told me the exact same thing. An Arminian told me the exact same thing. A Gnostic told me the exact same thing. A ... well you get the point. The logic here is circular and self-refuting. If the Calvinist understanding of Scripture is the correct one, there's a serious problem with the fact that none of the Apostolic Fathers (already defined) nor any of the Fathers of the Church for its first 500 years, the majority of whom spoke the language of the New Testament as their daily language, show any familiarity with the Calvinist interpretation. Do you not see how this renders your claims implausible on historical grounds alone?

In what sense? For edification or for epistemic justification?

Take your pick. Was or was not Augustine the primary patristic influence on Calvin?

If not, how do you know they were so shabby?

Just a couple of examples, from David Bentley Hart's "The Story of Christianity:"

"Such was the force of St. Augustine's intellect that some of his ideas entered permanently into Western theology. The most obvious, perhaps, is that of 'predestination,' the idea that God from eternity elects some to save, while 'reprobating' the rest to damnation, which Augustine believed to be the teaching of St. Paul

Such an idea never really arose in the Eastern Christian world. In large part, this difference is attributable to the vagaries of translation. The Latin word 'praedestinare' is a far stronger verb than the original Greek 'proorizein', which really means little more than to 'mark out in advance'. More importantly, Augustine's interpretations of certain passages in Paul were quite novel. For instance, he read Romans chapters 9-11 as a discourse on the predestination and reprobation of souls, even though those chapters appear really to concern the estrangement and ultimate reconciliation of Israel and the Church; Paul does not discuss salvation there at all, except to opine that all of Israel will be saved.

Similar problems of translation probably account for the significant differences between Eastern and Western understandings of original sin. All Christians believe that we are born in sin -- that is, enslaved to death, suffering corruption in our bodies, minds and desires, alienated from God -- but only in the West did the idea arise that a newborn infant is somehow already guilty of transgression in God's eyes. ...

David said...

In part, this is because of the Latin text of Romans 5:12 with which Augustine was familiar contained a mistranslation of the final clause of the verse, one that seemed to suggest that 'in' Adam 'all sinned." The actual Greek text, however, says nothing of the sort; it says either that as a result of death all sinned, or that because sin is general all things die; but it does not impute guilt to those who have not yet committed any evil."

I don't know. Manicheaism ... Calvin ... some citations of CFs that they contradict. Perhaps then I'll concede this point.

I think I'll do a full blog post on this when I have the time. Until then, in no particular order, to show similarity and dissimilarity of ideas:

Gnosticism: "Judaism believes in that human beings have free will and are held responsible for their actions by God. This is very strong theme is the Torah. The pagan world that surrounded tended to believe in fate, destiny or karma. The idea of a predestined elect was a gnostic idea. It has been suggested that as Christianity expanded and found many non-Jewish adherents it absorbed and was influenced by gnostic ideas such as predestination and determinism. The same could be said of Islam." - Hans Jones, The Gnostic Religion

Gnosticism: “Mankind came to be in three essential types, the spiritual, the psychic, and the material, conforming to the triple disposition of the Logos, from which were brought forth the material ones and the psychic ones and the spiritual ones. Each of the three essential types is known by its fruit. […] The spiritual race, being like light from light and like spirit from spirit, when its head appeared, it ran toward him immediately. […] The psychic race is like light from a fire, since it hesitated to accept knowledge of him who appeared to it. […] The material race, however, is alien in every way; since it is dark, it shuns the shining of the light because its appearance destroys it. And since it has not received its unity, it is something excessive and hateful toward the Lord at his revelation,” Tripartite Tractate 14 in The Nag Hammadi Library.3rd ed. Ed. James M. Robinson

Church Father on Gnostics: "I have quoted these remarks to prove in error those Basilidians who do not live purely, supposing either that they have the power even to commit sin because of their perfection, or indeed that they will be saved by nature even if they sin in this life because they possess an innate election." St. Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, Bk. III, Ch. 1, Sec. 3

Gnosticism: “For everyone must go to the place from which he has come. Indeed, by his acts and his acquaintances each person will make his nature known,” On the Origin of the World 127 in The Nag Hammadi Library. 3rd ed. Ed. James M. Robinson

Church Father: "Let us then utterly flee from all the works of iniquity, lest these should take hold of us; and let us hate the error of the present time, that we may set our love on the world to come: let us not give loose reins to our soul, that it should have power to run with sinners and the wicked, lest we become like them. ... I have taken care not to fail to write to you from what I myself possess, with a view to your purification. We take earnest heed in these last days; for the whole [past] time of your faith will profit you nothing, unless now in this wicked time we also withstand coming sources of danger, as becometh the sons of God. ... As much as in us lies, let us meditate upon the fear of God, and let us keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances. The Lord will judge the world without respect of persons. Each will receive as he has done: if he is righteous, his righteousness will precede him; if he is wicked, the reward of wickedness is before him. Take heed, lest resting at our ease, as those who are the called [of God], we should fall asleep in our sins, and the wicked prince, acquiring power over us, should thrust us away from the kingdom of the Lord. ...

David said...

And all the more attend to this, my brethren, when ye reflect and behold, that after so great signs and wonders were wrought in Israel, they were thus [at length] abandoned. Let us beware lest we be found [fulfilling that saying], as it is written, "Many are called, but few are chosen." St. Barnabas, Epistle, 1:139

Gnostic: "Therefore, we are elected to salvation and redemption since we are predestined from the beginning not to fall into the foolishness of those who are without knowledge, but we shall enter into the wisdom of those who have known the Truth. Indeed, the Truth which is kept cannot be abandoned, nor has it been." - Treatise on the Resurrection, Nag Hammadi

Church Father: "Take heed, beloved, lest His many benefits lead to the condemnation of us all. [For thus it must be] unless we walk worthy of Him, and with one mind do those things which are good and well-pleasing in His sight. ... Let us therefore earnestly strive to be found in the number of those that wait for Him, in order that we may share in His promised gifts. But how, beloved, shall this be done? If our understanding be fixed by faith towards God; if we earnestly seek the things which are pleasing and acceptable to Him; if we do the things which are in harmony with His blameless will; and if we follow the way of truth, casting away from us all unrighteousness and iniquity, ... Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us." - St. Clement of Rome, Epistle, 1:12-18

Gnosticism: “But these – the ones who are ignorant – do not seek after God. Nor do they inquire about their dwelling-place, which exists in rest, but they go about in bestiality. They are more wicked than the pagans, because first of all they do not inquire about God, for their hardness of heart draw them down to make them their cruelty. Furthermore, if they find someone else who asks about his salvation, their hardness of heart sets to work upon that man. And if he does not stop asking, they kill him by their cruelty, thinking that they have done a good thing for themselves,” Authoritative Teaching 33 in The Nag Hammadi Library. 3rd ed. Ed. James M. Robinson

Church Fathers: "but especially of Jesus and the Father, in whom, if we endure all the assaults of the prince of this world, and escape them, we shall enjoy God." - St. Ignatius of Antioch

Protestant: “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. It suffices that through God’s glory we have recognized the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day. Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner, ” Martin Luther. Letter no. 99, 1 August 1521. From Wortburg (Segment). Translated by Erika Bullman Flores.

Church Father: "He who raised Him up from the dead will raise us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness," St. Polycarp of Smyrna, Epistle, 1:33

Protestant: “Now, Satan and man, being fallen and abandoned by God, cannot will good (that is, things that please God, or that God wills), but are ever turned in the direction of their own desires, so that they cannot but seek their own. […] ...

David said...

Since God moves and works in all, He moves and works of necessity even in Satan and the ungodly. But he works according to what they are, and what He finds them to be: which means, since they are evil and perverted themselves, that when they are impelled to action by this movement of Divine omnipotence they do only that which is perverted and evil,” Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will. Trans. James I. Packer and O.R. Johnston

Church Father on Gnosticism: “2. .But as to
themselves, they hold that they shall be entirely and undoubtedly saved, not by means of
conduct, but because they are spiritual by nature. For, just as it is impossible that material
substance should partake of salvation (since, indeed, they maintain that it is incapable of
receiving it), so again it is impossible that spiritual substance (by which they mean
themselves) should ever come under the power of corruption, whatever the sort of actions
in which they indulged. For even as gold, when submersed in filth, loses not on that
account its beauty, but retains its own native qualities, the filth having no power to injure
the gold, so they affirm that they cannot in any measure suffer hurt, or lose their spiritual
substance, whatever the material actions in which they may be involved. ... And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from
the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible
and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the
elect seed…”" - St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies

Protestant: “. . . the sins of believers are venial [not causing death of the soul], not because they are not deserving of death, but because, through the mercy
of God, ‘there is no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus’ because they are not
imputed to them, but obliterated by a pardon.” - John Calvin

Church Father: "for the whole time of your faith will profit you nothing, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate;" Didache 7:289

Protestant: “Through the present priestly advocacy of Christ in
heaven there is absolute safety and security for the Father’s child even while he is
sinning.” - Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer

Church Father: "For the goodness and the loving-kindness of God, and His boundless riches, hold righteous and sinless the man who, as Ezekiel tells, repents of sins; and reckons sinful, unrighteous, and impious the man who fails away from piety and righteousness to unrighteousness and ungodliness." - St. Justin the Philosopher

Protestant: “ True believers do fall into temptations, and they do
commit grievous sins, but these sins do not cause them to lose their salvation or separate
them from Christ.” - Michael Steele

Church Father on Gnostics: "But even they congratulate themselves on account of this indiscriminate intercourse ... for they would have us believe that they are not overcome by the supposed vice, for that they have been redeemed. "And Jesus, by having redeemed Helen in this way," Simon [Magus] says, "has afforded salvation to men through his own peculiar intelligence... and that they do whatsoever they please, as persons free; for they allege that they are saved by grace. For that there is no reason for punishment, even though one shall act wickedly." - St. Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies, 5:80

Church Father on Gnostics: “These quotations I have adduced in reproof of the Basilidians [Gnostics], who do not live rightly, either as having power (exousian) to sin because of their
perfection, or as being altogether assured by nature of future salvation, although they sin
now, because they are by dignity of nature the elect.” - St. Clement of Alexandria

David said...

Protestant: “The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the objects of His undeserved favor. These, and these only, He
purposed to save. He chose to save some and exclude others.” - Michael Steele

"We ought not, therefore, as that presbyter remarks, to be puffed up, nor be severe upon those of old time, but ought ourselves to fear, lest perchance, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but be shut out from His kingdom. And therefore it was that Paul said, "For if [God] spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest He also spare not thee," - St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 1:499

Protestant: "I. They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his
Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly
persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
“II. This perseverance of the saints depends, not upon their own free-will, but upon the
immutability of the decree of election.
“III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the
prevalency of the corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their
preservation, fall into grievous sins.” - Westminster Confession of Faith

"For God made man free, and with power over himself. That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting. For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption." - St. Theophilus of Antioch

Protestant: "I am convinced that once a person sincerely and honestly trusts Christ for his or her salvation, they become a member of God's family forever -- and nothing can change that relationship. " - Billy Graham

Scripture: "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace." - Galatians 5:4

Church Father on the Gnostics: "[The Valentinians claim] that since they are already naturalized in the brotherly bond of the spiritual state, they will obtain a certain salvation, one which is on all accounts their due. For this reason it is that they neither regard works as necessary for themselves, nor do they observe any of the calls of duty, eluding even the necessity of martyrdom on any pretence which may suit their pleasure." - Tertullian

Scripture: "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." - 1 Corinthians 9:27

Protestant: "No matter what you do as a child of God, you are forgiven. You say, 'Murder?' Forgiven. 'Stealing?' Forgiven. 'Adultery?' Forgiven. 'Worshiping idols?' Forgiven." - Charles Stanley, Grace

Church Father: "Forgiveness of past sins, then, God gives; but of future, each one gives to himself. And this is to repent, to condemn the past deeds, and beg oblivion of them from the Father, who only of all is able to undo what is done, by mercy proceeding from Him, and to blot out former sins by the dew of the Spirit. "For by the state in which I find you will I judge," also, is what in each case the end of all cries aloud. So that even in the case of one who has done the greatest good deeds in his life, but at the end has run headlong into wickedness, all his former pains are profitless to him, since at the end of the drama he has given up his part;" - St. Clement of Alexandria

David said...

Protestant: "Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy." - Charles Stanley, Eternal Security

Church Father: "God has foreseen that faith even after baptism would be endangered. He saw that most persons after obtaining salvation would be lost again, by soiling the wedding dress, by failing to provide oil for their torches." - Tertullian

Protestant: "believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation." - Charles Stanley, Eternal Security

Church Father on Gnostics: "Let us begin, then, with what is said about Pharaoh ... also the statement of the apostle, "Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardeneth." And some of those who hold different opinions misuse these passages, themselves almost destroying free-will by introducing ruined natures incapable of salvation, and others saved which it is impossible can be lost;" - Origen of Alexandria

Augustine: "I assert, therefore, that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God." - St. Augustine of Hippo, On the Gift of Perseverance

Church Father: "Some think that God is under a necessity of bestowing even on the unworthy what He has promised to give. So, they turn His liberality into His slavery. For many afterward fall out of grace. Is not this gift taken away from many?" - Tertullian

Church Father on Marcion: "Hoodwinking multitudes, he led on (into enormities) many (dupes) of this description who had become his disciples, by teaching them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin, but beyond the reach of danger, from the fact of their belonging to the perfect power." - St. Hippolytus of Rome, Refutation of All Heresies, 5:92

There's plenty more I could provide, but that should do for now.

By the way, read John Jefferson Davis' "Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine" -- a Calvinist who fully admits that Calvinist doctrines like this weren't taught until Augustine.

First, even if Augustine taught Gnostic doctrine, you have to prove that Calvin, in those doctrines specifically Calvinistic, used Augustine as an epistemic authority.

Not so. Anybody even remotely familiar with Church history knows that Augustine was the single greatest influence on Western theology of the post-Schism (1054) (and even before) era. There's simply no denying that Augustine was a major influence on Calvin's thought, even if he didn't consider Augustine an "epistemic authority" and there's simply no denying that Manichaeanism was a major influence on Augustine's thought -- else he wouldn't have introduced innovations which very closely resemble Gnostic ideas and which contradict the way everybody else (including everyone at all) for the first 500 years of Christianity interpreted it.

Second, even if Calvin used Augustine as an epistemic authority, you have to prove that the scores of Calvinists - both laymen, clergymen, and published theologians, have accepted those doctrines on the basis of Calvin, as an epistemic authority (or perhaps on the basis of another person, as an epistemic authority, who used Calvin as an epistemic authority).

Calvinists, clearly, are influenced by Calvin, right?

Or bypassing this rather arduous task, you could just demonstrate that the doctrines of Calvinism cannot be justified on the epistemic basis and authority of Scripture, and that they must be justified on the epistemic basis of Calvin's writings.

This is circular. Here's why, once from a Church Father and again from a modern scholar:

David said...

"I say that my Gospel is the true one; Marcion [the Gnostic], that his is. I affirm that Marcion's Gospel is adulterated; Marcion, that mine is. Now what is to settle the point for us, except it be that principle of time, which rules that the authority lies with that which shall be found to be more ancient?" - Tertullian (in fact, I suggest you read his entire book "Prescription Against the Heretics")

"If the churches had departed from the one true faith preached by the apostles, how did they all end up teaching the same thing? There were no church-wide councils, seminaries, printed literature, or any other means to quickly disseminate erroneous teachings throughout the church. So how could all the congregations have independently come up with the same interpretations and practices unless they were simply following what Paul and the other apostles had taught -- even three hundred years after the death of Jesus, orthodox Christians were still one united body." - David Bercot

To boil it down:
1. Calvinism was not taught by the earliest Christian writers, and certain important tenants of Gnosticism were even directly contradicted by the Church Fathers in the former of Gnosticism.
2. The early Church had a consensus of beliefs which contradict Calvinism.
3. Calvinist ideas were not introduced into mainstream Christian belief (that is, anything but Gnosticism) until about 500, by Augustine.
4. It is therefore absurd to posit that the Apostles taught Calvinism, as none of the people taught by the Apostles held to Calvinistic ideas -- and even argued directly against them.
5. It is logically absurd to posit that a Church which was spread from Spain to India, Ethiopia to France, all simultaneously fell into heresy in a matter of only a year or so after (and even before, possibly) the death of the Apostle John (approx. 100).
6. In order to show Calvinism as a viable interpretation of the Scripture one must show that it existed amongst the closest disciples of the authors of Scripture -- the very people who would have been able to listen for hours and to ask questions when they didn't understand, and who had such trust from the Apostles as to be ordained as heirs.
7. Good luck with that.

Third, your argument defeats itself. Point 3 is that Augustine was a former Manichean. Augustine rejected Manichaeism. Doesn't that suggest that what he taught was not Manichean?

Not really. We all carry our baggage. I rejected Roman Catholicism a long time ago, and I still struggle to escape its categories and modes of thought. Nobody can change their thought patterns all at once after being indoctrinated -- some of us are stuck with them for a lifetime.

The problem with aberrant interpretations is the people who make them up, not the Scriptures themselves. The Scriptures admit of an objective, logically-consistent interpretation, ...

Indeed. Would you like a mirror?

That's why I read the Scriptures to see what the Apostles actually said.

As do I -- and they quite clearly teach the Orthodox Apostolic Faith, maintained only in the Orthodox Church.

David said...

This doesn't remove the objection - it only means that the ECFs were themselves acting like Gnostics, inasmuch as they said things to the effect that only those inside the church were capable of understanding Scripture.

So, would I be "acting like a Gnostic" if I said that one has to have some knowledge of American history and culture if one is to properly understand the Constitution? No, I'd be stating common sense. In order to understand any document, Scriptural or not, you have to have a baseline knowledge of the culture and mindset from which it emerged and in which it was intended to be used -- that context, for the Scriptures, is the Church.

Can you provide a definition of what it means for something to be "mystically wedded" to a set of words? What is the process of this "mystical wedding"? Where is it described? What are its parameters? How does it operate? Right now, the term seems like nothing more than pious nonsense, but perhaps you can enlighten me.

The words I'm currently typing are "mystically wedded" to the meaning of them which I intend them to have, the mindset from which I write them, and the culture which informs their use and in which they are intended to be used.

So which portions of Scripture exactly, are these experiences the correct interpretations of?

Matthew 5:11, for instance.

But if this is true, then why are you arguing with me about all of this, since I'm speaking the truth?

You're not speaking the truth. Incorrect interpretation of Scripture is sometimes just as important to recognize as correct interpretation.

Why not submit to my words as the Apostolic Tradition that they are, and simply accept them? Are you in rebellion against Sacred Apostolic Tradition?

More importantly, do you realize how asinine your comments here are?

Or perhaps you wish to revise either your statement that Apostolic Tradition is the correct interpretation of Scripture, or that it is the experience of the Church? You can't logically have both.

Yes, I can -- because they're the same thing. Scripture was intended to be used in, with, and by the Church -- just as the Constitution was intended to be used in, with, and by the United States.

... Scripture is simply not sufficient.

Scripture is sufficient within the Church in which it was written and intended to be used; Scripture is as nothing outside the Church, as unbelievers distort the true meaning of the words to their own inclinations and whims, as different as these are from God's.

Rhology said...

Lucian,

Provide exegesis of Matt 18:15-18 to back up your point. Thanks.

Matt said...

If I may be so bold as to offer my two cents regarding Rhology's most recent debate entry...

1) Not only did the Apostles not "practice" Sola Scriptura, but they did not (and could not) believe it or teach it. It was therefore not part of the "Faith once for all delivered" and so it had to be an innovation. I truly don't see any other explanation, and Rhology does not provide one.
2) No one denies that the Apostles had authoritative, inspired Scriptures. In fact the EOC confirms this over and over and over again in the Liturgy and the prayers and the hymns, etc. We know that the Apostles appealed to the Scriptures. What Scriptures? The Old Testament. If the Apostles had believed and taught Sola Scriptura, then they had to have been refering to the OT, in which case we have no business treating the New Testament as sacred scripture.
3) To my knowledge (I could be wrong), the EOC does not refer to itself as the "Mother" of the Old Testament. Nor does it claim to have preceeded the OT. But it did write, compile, and approve the New Testament canon.
4) I don't really see how his point #2 contradicts the EOC position.
5) To his point #3: That is the way Church Tradition circulated. It is apparently very difficult for the Sola Scriptura crowd to understand that Tradition is simply the teaching of the Church as revealed by the Holy Spirit. That includes the Bible!!! The Bible isn't different from it or separate from it or contrary to it; it's part of it.
6) Re the section on King Josiah: How does this support SS? Is anyone denying that someone can't receive enlightenment by reading Scripture?
7) Re the Council of Nicaea paragraph: unless I'm mistaken, the Church entered its "normative state" on day 1 when the "Faith [was] once for all delivered."
8) I don't believe Rhology has demonstrated that the Orthodox way is "novel" and his way is "far more ancient." It's very easy to say that; it's something else to show it. He has not.
9) Is the EOC "Sola Ecclesist"? Is it "Sola" anything? I don't think it is. [Maybe, as David said, Sola Vox Dei?]
10) Neither the Scriptures nor the Church are the "source of divine revelation." The Holy Spirit is. He happens to use the Church and the Scriptures to reveal to us the Truth of Christ.

Matt said...

There seems to be a lot of concern here over who can correctly interpret Scripture; How we can know that such-and-such church has the proper interpretation, etc.
Friends, Christianity is not about finding the proper interpretation of Scripture; it's not about having the correct understanding
of a collection of knowledge. Christianity is not a catalogue of doctrines, or a system of theology or a set of philisophical propositions.
It is a relationship, a participation in the Body of Christ, a partaking of the Divine Nature, it is a community of faith. To reduce it to merely a mental
exercise--whose interpretation of Scripture is right, which doctrine is correct, which side can "prove" what, etc--is to miss the point entirely. The Christian faith
is about love, not about data and it proper interpretation. That's what Protestants and Catholics don't seem to get. (Yes doctrine is important, but only because it supports and preserves that relationship).

To ask, How do we know that the Church's "interpratation" of Scripture is correct is a little like asking how we know that HP's interpretation of the users manual
to my new HP laptop is correct (maybe Gateway understands it better?). It's absurd and a waste of time.

How to we know that we're correctly interpreting the Church's "interpretation" of Scripture? Look, the Church doesn't simply hand us an "interpretation"
of Scripture and send us on our way hoping we get it right. As I said: it's a relationship. A continual living out of the Faith. We're not expected to
get it, or analyze it, or interpret it on our own. That's why Christ gave us the Church.

We are expected to take up our cross daily, to deny ourselves, to walk in the light, to decrease so that He can increase.
It's not academic...it's practical.

Maybe we will misunderstand a hymn or a sermon from time to time. It happens; we're only human. But guess what? There's another one right behind it.
And another one after that. That's why we pray the same prayers and chant the same psalms over and over. If we don't catch on the first time, maybe we'll catch on the 100th time.

Rhology said...

And the final statements are up, posted simultaneously.

Mine.
DavidW's.

I thank DavidW for participating, for his liveliness, and for his passion.
I thank you, our readers, for reading and commenting. May the Lord richly bless the study of His Word.

John said...

" this cuts the throat of his own position"

I don't think you understand what interpreting individually means. It doesn't mean individuals can't interpret stuff. It means they ought not interpret individualistically apart from the mind of the church.

"Also sounds alot like Reformed Baptists - visible unity which faces occasional division. Does David display any recognition of this fairly-obvious fact?"

Its not clear to our side how disputes within Reformed baptists could show "who are approved may become evident'. When we resolve disputes it does in fact tell us something because we recognise the one unity.

"Any exegesis to disprove my point that "or" means "or", that Paul expects the same message be preached orally as is written?"

Nobody claims it is a different message per se, albeit it could be in a different style. But your job is to prove one authority source. The same message from two authoritative sources is still not sola scriptura.

"my position that canon2 - our knowledge of God's chosen canon - was sufficiently known by the church, and we can know that b/c we trust God?"

You still haven't told us the substantive difference between trusting that God has given the Church sufficient knowledge of XYZ, and the proposition that the Church is infallible with regards to XYZ. This is just a word game.

"my constant pointing him back to the way God dealt with His people before the coming of Christ?"

We're not seeing something new with the way God did this before Christ, so what is there to respond to?

"those who didn't bow down to the Baals were in the tiny minority, even sometimes completely invisible to history!"

How are they invisible to history if you are lecturing us now about their existence? Obviously they were not invisible, or else you are making stuff up.

"Did he ever deal with the point I commonly make to atheists, that "If God has not spoken clearly, sufficiently, and in a way understandable to people, "

Since our side doesn't claim God has not spoken, why would we bother to respond to this?

"Did he ever answer my challenge in my 1st rebuttal: "But how do new concepts equal 'once handED down'"?"

Obviously it is not our position that there are new concepts, and obviously this debate is not about wandering off into defending each and every side track you might bring up.

"Christ celebrated Hanukkah!" argumentation?"

You haven't told us why this isn't a good argument. Where is the case in scripture where Jesus tells his followers to ignore good traditions? If its good enough for him, why do you ignore the long standing church traditions? Why aren't you imitating Christ as the bible says?

" Or his atrocious handling of Matthew 19:7?"

You characterise Mt 19 as a condemnation of the Pharisee's hard hearts, there is more to the passage than you make out. Scripture via Moses says "you may do X", Jesus says "you may NOT do X". There is a condemnation of a scriptural teaching here, and David's point is if you want to interpret it as widely as Mk 7, you've got a problem.

Lucian said...

Tell that to Jesus, Who set the example and commanded us to proclaim repentance and the forgiveness of sins to the whole evil, nasty, unfaithful, sinning world!


This "we" is the pre-existent Church, which went out into the pagan world to preach the faith. God did not send down Bibles with parchutes into pagan hands, and then told them to each devise his own private and personal (and original) alternative interpretation of those sacred texts, and then mock and ridicule the Church when it will try to evangelize them. ("PROVE to me from John 1 that Christ is truly God, because I concoted a whole different approach to that passage which helps me evade that conclusion, and I don't care that the Bible is your holy book!!" -- something like that... -- an approach contrary to that of the eunuch in Acts who meets Philip).

Lucian said...

Oh, so apart from the heresy espoused by each, it's no problem?


Monophysism consists on ONE error, made 1,5000 yrs ago, and to which no other one has been added.

Nestorianism consists of ONE error, made more that 1,500 yrs ago, to which no other one has been added.

Monophysism and Nestorianism did not enter into an endless chain of self-fragmentation, like the Protestant Big-Bang has in only 500 yrs of existence (each new branch being further and further apart from the previous ones). -- that was David's point.

Lucian said...

a council is known to be œcumenical only a posteriori.


There's a good ol' sayin': "Only time will tell" -- and I think it's attuned to what Gamaliel said to the Pharisees in Acts. The Gnostics, Judaizers, Arians, Sabelians, and Iconoclasts have died off. There are cults today that have SOME ideas similar to theirs, but they're not (on a whole, as a religion) the same as their "predecossors" (i.e., Iconoclasts had bishops and believed in the Real Presence, unlike Calvinists; the same for Arians as oppsed to JWS; etc).

Lucian said...

an authority parallel to God's Word?


God's word has meaning. God said: take eat, this is My body; drink ye all of this, this is My blood. My flesh is meat indeed and my blood is drink indeed. What does this mean? There's a very clear and well-known way in which these words have been interpreted throughout space and time: and that way is not unbliblical. But now you come and propose a different way. Also not necessarilly unbiblical. (An interpretation of the Bible cannot be called 'unbiblical', for obvious reasons). And yet these two 'biblical' meanings are mutually exclusive. They both adhere to the words of the Bible, but only of them also adheres not only to the words, but also to the meaning or editorial intent of the Bible. This is what's meant by tradition: Tradition is the safeguard against such slanders and mockings of the biblical words, by denying their meaning while superficially seeming to be clinging to the letter.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

http://rhoblogy.blogspot.com/2009/12/sola-scriptura-debate-my-first-cross.html

Rhology at the above link you said:

"First off, yes, it is true that I do not ascribe infallibility to the EOC. Nor do I ascribe infallibility to the church of Jesus at any time in history."

My focus is particularly on "Nor do I ascribe infallibility to the church of Jesus at any time in history."

it seems that, by this statement, you would deny any infallibility to the apostles themselves.

Perhaps you can clarify for me.

Rhology said...

you would deny any infallibility to the apostles themselves.

Ooops.

That was a mistake, to be sure.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

me: you would deny any infallibility to the apostles themselves.

Rhology: "Ooops.

That was a mistake, to be sure."

Thanks for your quick reply. I am sure that you would agree that they, in some way, constitute the church.

In any case:

How do you understand this infallibility to work? I.e., 1) Was each apostle infallible individually? Or were they infallible as a group?

2) Were they infallible when they taught orally? Or only when they wrote?

3) Were they inspired orally in the same way that scripture is inspired?


Do you have a theory in regards to my questions above?

Rhology said...

They constituted a tiny part of the church. There were only 12 of them, after all, and by the time they were dying, there were tens of thousands of redeemed people.

1) It would appear that each individual apostle was at best infallible only at times. See Peter and Paul in Galatians 2.

2) We don't have tons of data in the Scripture about this, other than Jesus sending them as shaluach representatives to speak on His behalf, but still that didn't always protect, say, Peter. So I think we'd probably have to say that they were at times infallible when they spoke and wrote, and other times not.

3) I figure that's plausible, keeping the above caveats in mind.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

Rhology thanks for allowing me to pick your brain on this.


"They constituted a tiny part of the church. There were only 12 of them, after all, and by the time they were dying, there were tens of thousands of redeemed people."

Well of course when EOC or RC (me) argue that the church is infallible, we don't mean every single individual in it. We certainly have a limited scope in mind. In that sense, you would agree that the church was infallible at least in the first century.

Rhology said...

We certainly have a limited scope in mind

Yes, I understand.


You would agree that the church was infallible at least in the first century.

Let me say this: there were guys in the church whom the Lord used to speak infallibly at times in the first century.

Hapax Paradidomi said...

me: You would agree that the church was infallible at least in the first century.

Rhology: Let me say this: there were guys in the church whom the Lord used to speak infallibly at times in the first century.
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Sort of like, the church is preaching the gospel to the whole world means that some people in the church are preaching the gospel.

Or like when a few in congress make a decision for the rest of us, then we classify it as a decision made by the USA.

In that sense I can say that you understand the church to be infallible at least in the first century.

No doubt the apostles were in the church, but being that they were, at that time, the most visible aspect of the church, we could understand them to be a visible representation of the whole church.

An example would me Matt 18. We are to bring our brother before the church. I think matt 18 can be understood that only SOME individuals would actually be making the decision as to what to do with the brother. But we still refer to that limited scope as the church.

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