Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Picking and choosing from history

A comment I left on John Bugay's post about the similarities between Orwellian visions of rewriting the past and the way Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy rewrite church history:

And that is precisely what the practice of bestowing the title "Church Father" and "Doctor of the Church" does as well - it artificially inflates the early author of Christendom to a more exalted status, such that now Rome (or Eastern Orthodoxy, which does this just as flagrantly) can appeal back to that man as support for its Sacred Apostolic Tradition.

In reality, if you want to know what early Christians believed, it's pretty hard since we have an infinitesimally small % of people writing compared to the total population of Christians at the time, and out of those writers an underwhelming % of their writings are extant. As Steve Hays likes to say: Show me the survey data.

All this illustrates the impossibility of any rational appeal to "tradition" to found a prescription for doctrine. We must stick with God's revealed Word, not what a modern organisation picks and chooses out of history.

1 comment:

Joel said...

I generally agree, with the stipulation that tradition is worth something, in the same manner in which the counsel of one's pastor is worth something. Not enough to overturn careful exegesis. But somewhat superior to the Ministry of Truth.