Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pre-Reformation Disunity

In another thread, Orthodox wrote:

"It may be an unfair exaggeration to say there are 30,000 unique denominations, as is sometimes quoted. Still, there ARE thousands, which is considerably more than 1 that existed a thousand years ago."

I don't know whether Orthodox intended his comment to apply to one thousand years ago and no other timeframe. If so, then the objection doesn't seem to have much significance. If there were other denominations before and after one thousand years ago, then what would be the significance of singling out one short period around 1000 A.D.? Even during that short period, there were many different groups professing to be Christian, with a wide variety of beliefs. He goes on to write:

"Just the other day I was talking to someone from a major protestant group in the Phillipines, who among other wierdnesses, only partakes communion once per year."

I'll assume, for the sake of discussion, that the group in question actually is Protestant rather than being labeled as such just because it isn't Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox, for example. I disagree with only partaking of communion once a year, but that difference among Protestants isn't as significant as many of the differences that existed among professing Christians prior to the Reformation.

Pre-Reformation Christians disagreed with each other on many issues, to differing degrees of significance. People may choose not to apply the term "denomination" to these pre-Reformation divisions, but many of these people acted independently of one another and considered their churches governmentally independent of other churches they disagreed with. As early as the second century, the pagan critic Celsus would comment:

"Christians at first were few in number, and held the same opinions; but when they grew to be a great multitude, they were divided and separated, each wishing to have his own individual party: for this was their object from the beginning....being thus separated through their numbers, they confute one another, still having, so to speak, one name in common, if indeed they still retain it. And this is the only thing which they are yet ashamed to abandon, while other matters are determined in different ways by the various sects." (cited in Origen's Against Celsus, 3:10, 3:12)

It's to be expected that there will be a wider variety of professing Christians with the passing of time and with the expansion of social factors like the sort of political freedoms we have today in places like the United States. Just as there's a wider variety of professing Christians today than 500 years ago, we can expect there to be a wider variety 500 years from now than today. The same could be said of atheists, Muslims, etc.

Through the centuries, we find many disputes among the churches that existed, one bishop writing against another bishop, one church avoiding fellowship with another, councils held in opposition to each other, etc. (see, for example, Hippolytus, The Refutation Of All Heresies, 9:2; Athanasius, Festal Letter 29; John Chrysostom, Correspondence Of St. Chrysostom With The Bishop Of Rome, Letter 1:4; Jerome, Letter 16:2; etc.) A figure like Cyprian comes to mind, who held a high view of the unity of the bishops and church unity in general, yet repeatedly asserted the governmental independence of each bishop and had multiple public partings with the bishop of Rome. People often advocated high ideals with regard to church unity, yet also added many qualifiers to those ideals and were willing to assert independence from other churches and oppose those other churches when disagreements arose. We can't just quote what these people said about unity while ignoring the qualifiers they added and the incidents in which they practiced disunity.

Even in the Middle Ages, when there tended to be more of an effort toward outward displays of organizational unity and assistance in such efforts from the state, we still come across many incidents like this one Philip Schaff described:

"Henceforward the Immaculate Conception became an apple of discord between rival schools of Thomists and Scotists, and the rival orders of the Dominicans and Franciscans. They charged each other with heresy, and even with mortal sin for holding the one view or the other. Visions, marvelous fictions, weeping pictures of Mary, and letters from heaven were called in to help the argument for or against a fact which no human being, not even Mary herself, can know without a divine revelation. Four Dominicans, who were discovered in a pious fraud against the Franciscan doctrine, were burned, by order of a papal court, in Berne, on the eve of the Reformation. The Swedish prophetess, St. Birgitte, was assured in a vision by the Mother of God that she was conceived without original sin; while St. Catherine of Siena prophesied for the Dominicans that Mary was sanctified in the third hour after her conception." (The Creeds Of Christendom [Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998], Vol. I, pp. 123-124)

People who belong to the same denomination often disagree with each other about matters more significant than how often they take communion. Two Baptists who belong to governmentally independent churches often have more unity with each other than two Roman Catholics have with one another.

"For even as the Lord who dwells in us is one and the same, He everywhere joins and couples His own people in the bond of unity, whence their sound has gone out into the whole earth, who are sent by the Lord swiftly running in the spirit of unity; as, on the other hand, it is of no advantage that some are very near and joined together bodily, if in spirit and mind they differ, since souls cannot at all be united which divide themselves from God's unity." (Firmilian, Cyprian's Letter 74:3)

67 comments:

  1. Shoot, within the first 4-5 centuries, you've got churches from Spain to China. Probably one of the better explanations for why various subsets of churches were variously in agreement or disagreement with each other was political. You've got the Alexandrians aggressively pushing the Monophysite agenda, not the least because they're sick of the influence of Byzantine Rome and having foreign bishops foisted on them. You've got Constantinople Monophysite for a time, then back to Chalcedonian orthodoxy, depending on who's emperor, and not necessarily in agreement with Western Rome, who managed to be Arian for a while. And meanwhile, in the East (not the Greek East, but keep going), you've got the Persian Church / Church of the East, who from early on considered themselves united with, but independent from and of equal stature to, the Western Church (both Rome and Constantinople). Theologically they were Nestorian, and while they kept in contact with Rome/Constantinople, one would hardly call them the same "denomination", at least not if the word is to have any mean. Keep pushing east into India and China, and I hardly expect one is looking at "Roman Catholicism" or even Eastern Orthodoxy. The church in China was tied to the Tang (I believe) dynasty.

    Anyhow.

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  2. For all the difficulties encountered in the first thousand years, still at the end of the day, when the church emerged from the first thousand years there was basically one church. Do you think maybe that a church that was one after a thousand years might just have had the annointing of the Holy Spirit?

    You can't put it all down political freedom or lack thereof. The problem is the spread of an error, a heresy, that it doesn't matter if the church is one. But what did Jesus say about it? Orthodox Christians aren't abandoning the faith just because they can. On the contrary, protestants in Russia often end up in the Orthodox church.

    Perhaps at the beginning of the reformation the reformers had some thought that sola scriptura would, with some education, somehow lead to one protestant church. They were wrong.

    Was that group in the Phillipines protestant? I don't know where the dividing line is, do you? They weren't JWs if that means anything. Protestants really have no standard for saying much about any given church. If a protestant really and truely decides each and every doctrine for themselves, they'd be unlikely to even find a church to fit their opinions. Of course, most don't do that, they follow a tradition through habit and the influence of whatever the church they happen to land in happens to be teaching.

    Apparently the author thinks he can excuse this whole mess by pointing to Thomists and Scotists. Of course they were in the Western church which had already decided they weren't bound by the faith of the early church. In contrast, the Orthodox church continues to follow the teachings found in the first few centuries.

    The Didache is a first century Christian document that was lost to the world for many centuries. But it is remarkable how close its teachings are to 21st century Orthodoxy. We still have fast days Wednesdays and Fridays. We still baptise by immersion three times in the name of the trinity. Orthodoxy has kept the faith, and the evidence is there.

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  3. "Just the other day I was talking to someone from a major protestant group in the Phillipines, who among other wierdnesses, only partakes communion once per year."

    Didn't some of the Desert Fathers go weeks or months without the Eucharist?

    "The Didache is a first century Christian document that was lost to the world for many centuries. But it is remarkable how close its teachings are to 21st century Orthodoxy. We still have fast days Wednesdays and Fridays. We still baptise by immersion three times in the name of the trinity. Orthodoxy has kept the faith, and the evidence is there."

    Oh? The traditions of the Didache were among many other traditions in the ancient church:

    http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/contadiction_tradition.htm

    Let's not forget that the earliest fathers would have been horrified by the use of icons:

    http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/rejection_images_icons_1.htm

    and there were plenty of church fathers (including Athanasius :p ) who would have accepted the Filioque:

    http://www.lightshinesindarkness.com/filioque.htm

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  4. You said "basically one", yet you implicitly recognize at least two in your last comment (Western/Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox). You haven't mentioned how either of the Coptic/Monophysite Church or the Persian/Nestorian Church fit in there, or for that matter the Indian Church. Of course it's easy to dismiss the Copts and the Nestorians as heretics without taking a look at (a) what they really said, and (b) the underlying political issues.

    Furthermore (with respect to the Western/Roman Catholic Church), the time from, say, 1000-1500 is hardly a time of temporal unity. Popes excommunicating each other, multiple competing popes, popes working for state interests.

    In the east (whether Orthodox, Nestorian, or even Chinese) you've got the Church so tightly tied to the state in many cases that doctrinal considerations are secondary. So what you've got is often an enforced unity in a temporal and/or geopolitical sense. The Chinese Church pretty well died because of that, as did the Nestorian Church (actually, one could argue that the Nestorian Church got crushed because Christianity was so tightly tied to Rome and Constantinople).

    Christ's kingdom is a kingdom of the Spirit. His Covenant is with the Church, not a geopolitical entity. Yet the "unity" espoused by Romans and the Orthodox seems to stem really from a statist understanding of the faith. Claiming unity under the umbrella of the RCC or the EOC is to claim a false unity based on silence of opinion. The beliefs are there; they just don't get expressed, or if they are, they aren't taken seriously.

    The Jews have persisted for thousands of years in reasonable unity, yet I don't consider them to have the Holy Spirit. Ditto the Muslems (well, for ~1500 years anyway).

    I notice "first few centuries" rather than "first century". A (Reformed) Protestant would look at those and see potential violations of the Regulative Principle; potential bindings of the conscience in violation of Paul's admonition against the Judaizers' invocation of Sabbaths, dates, and days.

    True unity will not be achieved until the New Heavens and New Earth with Christ's return. Christians are still sinners.

    With all that said, I extend to Orthodox the hand of fellowship as a fellow partaker in the grace of Christ. And indeed, the conciliarism of the Eastern Church seems far more reasonable than the monarchy of the Western.

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  5. As an aside, I would say that Protestants -do- have potential dividing lines for determining orthodoxy/heterodoxy, though some might not be inclined to use them. Namely, the creeds, both ancient and less-ancient.

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  6. >Oh? The traditions of the Didache
    >were among many other traditions in
    >the ancient church:

    So you admit that Orthodoxy retains traditions from the early church, but you complain that not every expression in the early church is retained. You see, there is this promise that the Holy Spirit will lead the church into all truth. That you've trawled through many ECF quotes to find some differing in opinion is pretty irrelevant.


    >Let's not forget that the earliest
    >fathers would have been horrified
    >by the use of icons:

    An obscure Spanish council and a quote from Irenaeus who doesn't condemn icons but describes how a specific schismatic group utilizes them? That is the best you can do? Sorry, but you're just trawling the ECFs looking for reasons to be schismatic.

    >and there were plenty of church
    >fathers (including Athanasius :p )
    >who would have accepted the
    >Filioque:

    The Orthodox church does not deny that the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. What it has a problem with is in saying that this describes the eternal relationship within the trinity, as opposed to the temporal activities that the trinity manifests in the world. Many Roman catholic apologists defend the filioque as a legitimate addition on the basis of the latter context, however the problem is that the creed was written according to the former context.

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  7. >You said "basically one", yet you
    >implicitly recognize at least two in
    >your last comment (Western/Roman
    >Catholic and Eastern Orthodox).

    Yes, the church split shortly after the first millenium. You hadn't heard?

    >You haven't mentioned how either
    >of the Coptic/Monophysite Church
    >or the Persian/Nestorian Church
    >fit in there, or for that matter
    >the Indian Church. Of course it's
    >easy to dismiss the Copts and the
    >Nestorians as heretics without
    >taking a look at (a) what they
    >really said, and (b) the
    >underlying political issues.

    For all the difficulty in sorting out the Coptic problem, by comparison to protestants, the differences to Eastern Orthodoxy are positively minute. So yes you can complain that the church split here. On the other hand, despite the political separation to Eastern Orthodoxy, 16 centuries later, they are barely distinguishable from Eastern Orthodoxy.

    This is the great conundrum for protestants. The assumption of protestants is that the original church was somehow drifting and drifting continuously away from the early church and we need sola scriptura to purify the faith. But these early rifts resulting in political separation result in no changes in 1600 years. If the church didn't change in 1600 years, how are you so sure it changed in the preceeding 300 years?

    >Claiming unity under the umbrella
    >of the RCC or the EOC is to claim
    >a false unity based on silence of
    >opinion. The beliefs are there;
    >they just don't get expressed, or
    >if they are, they aren't taken
    >seriously.

    Yes, Orthodoxy is unapologetic that it doesn't take seriously the opinions of those who depart from the faith. This is actually a good thing.

    >The Jews have persisted for
    >thousands of years in reasonable
    >unity, yet I don't consider them
    >to have the Holy Spirit. Ditto the
    >Muslems (well, for ~1500 years
    >anyway).

    The Muslims are not in unity. They are blowing each other up in Iraq as we speak. As for the Jews, there has been no visible Jewish unity since the destruction of the temple.

    >I notice "first few centuries"
    >rather than "first century". A
    >(Reformed) Protestant would look
    >at those and see potential
    >violations of the Regulative
    >Principle; potential bindings of
    >the conscience in violation of
    >Paul's admonition against the
    >Judaizers' invocation of Sabbaths,
    >dates, and days.

    Not everything is negotiable like holy days etc. The apostles left a deposit of faith that they expect the church to pass on.

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  8. >As an aside, I would say that
    >Protestants -do- have potential
    >dividing lines for determining
    >orthodoxy/heterodoxy, though some
    >might not be inclined to use them.
    >Namely, the creeds, both ancient and
    >less-ancient.

    Protestants (those few that actually continue to recite the creeds), do not even understand the creeds. They will recite that they believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church, but their understanding of this phrase would be completely foreign to the understanding of those who penned it. This is the equivilent of interpreting Paul in a way that suits yourself, rather than the way he actually intended it at the time.

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  9. Orthodox,

    "So you admit that Orthodoxy retains traditions from the early church, but you complain that not every expression in the early church is retained."

    Actually, I can find traditions currently held by Protestants but not the Eastern Orthodox in some of the church fathers. It's a very mixed bag. For instance, I can find high predestinarian views (the same as my Calvinism) in Clement of Rome, Ignatius, and the Epistle of Barnabas (whoever actually wrote it).

    Also, this appeal to tradition ignores the fact of cultural and pagan influence as well.

    "An obscure Spanish council and a quote from Irenaeus who doesn't condemn icons but describes how a specific schismatic group utilizes them? That is the best you can do?"

    Try Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Minucius Felix, Origen, Arnobius, Lactantius, Eusebius, and Epiphanius.

    Also, the arguments that they use against these "schismatic groups" would slice against anyone's use of icons as well.

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  10. The point with respect to creeds is not the dogmatic acceptance of a creed by tradition. The creed and/or confession gives you a dividing line. Hence, the WCF is a dividing line of sorts, just as the Nicene Creed or the Apostles' Creed.

    Monophysitism was a small difference? I would argue that the things that remained similar "positively minute." So what if the external forms were similar... monophysitism was a condemned heresy. (Now, with that said, charity points me back to the political issues of the time to agree that the theological issues were exaggerated by opposing sides due to the political issues.)

    I have no "conundrums" with respect to the early church. "Sola scriptura" wasn't a new concept at the time of the Reformation, either. In fact, really none of the Reformation distinctives were. Admittedly some of them only cropped up from time to time in little places, but if anything, that would point toward "the faithful remnant", just as it did in OT times.

    How charitable of you not to take seriously differences of opinion... is "departures from the faith" assumed right off the bat? Fortunately for the Church at large, oftentimes its members have been quite a bit -more- charitable toward one another, as when Nestorian and Monophysite missionaries worked together to bring the Christian faith to the Huns even while their brethren back West were still fighting (and sometimes killing) each other.

    "No visible Jewish unity"... I notice the qualifier "visible" in there. What would it take for Orthodox Jews to be more "visibly" united? The temple? A geopolitical state? Yet we have both of these, in the Church... which the hierarchical church tends to conflate with the temporal politics. The body of Christ is united by Christ, not by creeds, councils, popes, patriarchs, or the tools too often used by them: torches, stones, swords, and guns.

    Wasn't sure if you meant that the holy days are or aren't negotiable. I don't see Scriptural warrant for any holy day other than the Sabbath--which, admittedly, is the most poorly observed day by Protestants.

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  11. Orthodox,

    I have to object to your misuse of the unity/disunity game. You're not playing fair.
    To make any fair or meaningful comparison, let's try taking the EOC vs., say, the holders-to of the WCF or the LBC or something like that. Taking "Protestants" as a whole is not particularly helpful.

    Also, how could you possibly back up the statement that "Protestants (those few that actually continue to recite the creeds), do not even understand the creeds. They will recite that they believe in One Holy Catholic and Apostolic church"?
    I know precisely what OHCaAC means, but just b/c I don't attach the same baggage to it that you do (ie, I run it thru the filter of Scripture as opposed to Thus Sayeth The Church) doesn't mean I don't get it.

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  12. Much of what needs to be said has already been said by the other commenters here, but I want to add to something Saint And Sinner mentioned. The early opposition to the veneration of images seems to have been widespread, not just the view of a small group or people rejecting the teachings of some sort of worldwide Eastern Orthodox denomination. I addressed this issue in a post last year:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/08/perry-robinsons-claims-about-what.html

    From the evidence we have, it also seems that there was widespread early opposition to infant baptism and prayers to the deceased, for example. See:

    http://www.baptism.org.uk/wright.htm

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/02/patristic-rejection-of-infant-baptism.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/history-of-infant-baptism.html

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/some-clarifications-on-prayers-to.html

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  13. >For instance, I can find high
    >predestinarian views (the same as my
    >Calvinism) in Clement of Rome,
    >Ignatius, and the Epistle of
    >Barnabas (whoever actually wrote
    >it).

    More than likely you don't actually understand predestination in Orthodoxy. That is a whole other interesting discussion. Orthodoxy does not have a low view of predestination.


    >Try Athenagoras, Clement of
    >Alexandria, Tertullian, Minucius
    >Felix, Origen, Arnobius,
    >Lactantius, Eusebius, and
    >Epiphanius.

    ????

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  14. >For instance, I can find high
    >predestinarian views (the same as my
    >Calvinism) in Clement of Rome,
    >Ignatius, and the Epistle of
    >Barnabas (whoever actually wrote
    >it).

    More than likely you don't actually understand predestination in Orthodoxy. That is a whole other interesting discussion. Orthodoxy does not have a low view of predestination.


    >Try Athenagoras, Clement of
    >Alexandria, Tertullian, Minucius
    >Felix, Origen, Arnobius,
    >Lactantius, Eusebius, and
    >Epiphanius.

    ????

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  15. >I have to object to your misuse of >the unity/disunity game. You're not >playing fair.
    >To make any fair or meaningful >comparison, let's try taking the EOC >vs., say, the holders-to of the WCF >or the LBC or something like that. >Taking "Protestants" as a whole is >not particularly helpful.

    Here's the problem. By your own admission, the WCF has no real authority, it is just a statement agreed upon by a particular group. I could make my own statement that I believe in pink unicorns, and be the only member, and have total unity. But what good is that? I can make any comprehensive statement of faith, and it is a given that all the people who agree with it... Ummm... agree with it. Big deal.

    In the early church, the creeds had an authority, because they were agreed in council (as the bible sets the pattern for us to do) and thus they are non-negotiable. In theory, you have to repudiate the WCF if somebody's argument tips you just enough to think that an alternative theory is slighty better.

    So protestants attempt to reinvent the wheel daily for things that were formally universally understood with the result of increasing fragmentation. A long time ago, WCF believers were a big group. Now they are only a rump.

    >Also, how could you possibly back
    >up the statement that "Protestants
    >(those few that actually continue
    >to recite the creeds), do not even
    >understand the creeds. They will
    >recite that they believe in One
    >Holy Catholic and Apostolic
    >church"?
    >I know precisely what OHCaAC
    >means, but just b/c I don't attach
    >the same baggage to it that you do
    >(ie, I run it thru the filter of
    >Scripture as opposed to Thus
    >Sayeth The Church) doesn't mean I
    >don't get it.

    Ahh, so you admit that it doesn't mean to you what it meant to the original authors! You've taken your own world view on scripture and anachronistically read it back into the creed, when in fact the authors ' understanding of catholic and apostolic would leave you distinctly neither. Why go through the charade of pretending to believe the creed? Why not just make your own creed and admit that you really have no doctrinal tie with the Christians of the councils of Nicea and Constantinople?

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  16. A "doctrinal tie" means that you believe the same doctrine, not that you hold the same creed as absolutely authoritative.

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  17. >The creed and/or confession gives
    >you a dividing line. Hence, the WCF
    >is a dividing line of sorts, just as
    >the Nicene Creed or the Apostles'
    >Creed.

    But we've got Rhology (above) claiming the right to interpret the creed according to his own ideas about scripture, not according how the authors meant it. That's the same as modernists interpreting Paul to mean what they think he should have meant about homosexuality, by reading back into Paul their beliefs about modern scientific findings. It's anachronistic.

    >Monophysitism was a small
    >difference? I would argue that the
    >things that remained similar
    >"positively minute." So what if
    >the external forms were similar...
    >monophysitism was a condemned
    >heresy. (Now, with that said,
    >charity points me back to the
    >political issues of the time to
    >agree that the theological issues
    >were exaggerated by opposing sides
    >due to the political issues.)

    What do you think, is it small? I've yet to find a protestant who can come up with a sola scriptura argument to support either position, which ought to make it small by your standards of measurement.

    I hardly think the similarities between Coptic and Eastern Orthodox and merely limited to external forms. On any doctrinal issue on which you disagree with Orthodoxy, I would pretty much bet Copts would agree with us.

    >have no "conundrums" with respect
    >to the early church. "Sola
    >scriptura" wasn't a new concept at
    >the time of the Reformation,
    >either.

    Yes it was.

    >Reformation, either. In fact,
    >really none of the Reformation
    >distinctives were.

    Highly doubtful. Who taught limited atonement prior to the reformation? And give us the quote.

    >Admittedly some of them only
    >cropped up from time to time in
    >little places, but if anything,
    >that would point toward "the
    >faithful remnant", just as it did
    >in OT times.

    The faithful remnant has to "remain" (that's what the word means). If some group crops up for 5 minutes and disappears it is not a remnant. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church.

    >How charitable of you not to take
    >seriously differences of
    >opinion... is "departures from the
    >faith" assumed right off the bat?
    >Fortunately for the Church at
    >large, oftentimes its members have
    >been quite a bit -more- charitable
    >toward one another, as when
    >Nestorian and Monophysite
    >missionaries worked together to
    >bring the Christian faith to the
    >Huns even while their brethren
    >back West were still fighting (and
    >sometimes killing) each other.

    I can be charitable towards protestants while still recognizing a departure from the faith. And no, I don't "take seriously" differences of opinion, because the truth does not stop being the truth because of folks with a different opinion. The church in acts met and made a decision when differences of opinion cropped up. They didn't just go they own ways agreeing to disagree. That is just not biblical.

    >"No visible Jewish unity"... I
    >notice the qualifier "visible" in
    >there. What would it take for
    >Orthodox Jews to be more "visibly"
    >united? The temple? A geopolitical
    >state? Yet we have both of these,
    >in the Church... which the
    >hierarchical church tends to
    >conflate with the temporal
    >politics. The body of Christ is
    >united by Christ, not by creeds,
    >councils, popes, patriarchs, or
    >the tools too often used by them: >torches, stones, swords, and guns.

    The visible church is united by The Faith, and the visible Church recognizes the rest of the church by The Faith. If it was just about claiming the name of "Jesus" as "one of us", you'd be united to Muslims and LDS.

    >Wasn't sure if you meant that the
    >holy days are or aren't
    >negotiable. I don't see Scriptural
    >warrant for any holy day other
    >than the Sabbath--which,
    >admittedly, is the most poorly
    >observed day by Protestants.

    The Sabbath is Saturday. There is no scriptural warrant for making Sunday the Sabbath, even though that is the Tradition of the church which protestants have taken, inconsistent with their sola scripture philosophy.

    Now how many protestant churhes do you know who refuse to preach on the resurrection at easter, or on the incarnation at Christmas because they don't want to "bind the conscience" of Christians to recognize these holy days?

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  18. >A "doctrinal tie" means that you
    >believe the same doctrine, not that
    >you hold the same creed as
    >absolutely authoritative.

    When the fathers at Nicea and Constantinople penned that they "believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church", they aimed to make a doctrinal statement about the nature of the church. You don't believe the doctrine that they were trying to express - that the Church is visibly one, that it was found in the common (catholic) understanding that existed in the apostolic churches at the time. Who are you fooling by reciting the creed?

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  19. "More than likely you don't actually understand predestination in Orthodoxy. That is a whole other interesting discussion. Orthodoxy does not have a low view of predestination."

    Would your Church deny libertarian free-will? Would it believe in double-predestination? Would it believe that Christ died only for a particular people and not for every last person on earth? Those church fathers that I mentioned would.

    "????"

    Those church fathers made arguments that would attack the rationale for believing in the use of icons. To quote Clement of Alexandria:

    “Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. *Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine.*” (emphasis mine)
    -Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 7.5

    As an adherent to Eastern Orthodoxy, do you not believe that the icons are both works of art *and* sacred and divine? Clement would say that they CANNOT be both. He would argue that to believe such is *idolatry*.

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  20. >Would your Church deny libertarian
    >free-will?

    That pretty much depends on your definitions. The reasons that protestants are arguing back and forward about these issues is that they are trying to delve into a mystery which is how things are determined by God, and in what sense. I could answer either way depending on what set of definitions I'm working from.


    >Would it believe in
    >double-predestination?

    Yes, but not the calvinist version thereof. The problem again is is a difference in the understanding of predestination.

    >Would it believe that Christ died
    >only for a particular people and
    >not for every last person on
    >earth?

    Again, yes and no. Christ's death is a multi-facited jewel, and the answer to that question depends on defining ones terms. Certainly in one sense, Christ knew who would follow him and he therefore knew up front who it would be efficacious for. But you're assuming there must be a single answer to that question, when there isn't because there are a whole lot of assumptions you've got wrapped up in the asking of it. Which is why it isn't a question that the Church has historically seen any benefit in addressing.

    “Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. *Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine.*” (emphasis mine)
    -Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata 7.5

    >As an adherent to Eastern
    >Orthodoxy, do you not believe that
    >the icons are both works of art
    >*and* sacred and divine? Clement
    >would say that they CANNOT be
    >both. He would argue that to
    >believe such is *idolatry*.

    Why don't you read the quote in context?:

    "It were indeed ridiculous, as the philosophers themselves say, for man, the plaything of God, to make God, and for God to be the plaything of art; since what is made is similar and the same to that of which it is made, as that which is made of ivory is ivory, and that which is made of gold golden. Now the images and temples constructed by mechanics are made of inert matter; so that they too are inert, and material, and profane; and if you perfect the art, they partake of mechanical coarseness. Works of art cannot then be sacred and divine."

    Clement is condemning the notion of idolaters that they can "make God" from God or ivory. Obviously Orthodox agree with him that no icon is in itself divine. Does that mean Clement condemned all images in a religious context? In Paedagogus 3.59.2, Clement discusses what would be a good image to put into a signet ring.

    Again, you are trawling the ECFs desperately looking for some support for your being schismed from the church that the apostles founded. This is no different to an athiest trawling the ECFs looking for ECFs who held to a different canon of scripture, thus refuting the idea that a fixed canon of scripure should be an authority in our lives. Guess what? You'd have no trouble finding in the ECFs differences on the canon of scripture, so if this represents a refutation on the authority of the church to be, over time, led into all truth (John 16:13), then you have no canon and you have no source of authority at all.

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  21. Notice that Orthodox continues to make assertions without evidence and continues to change his standards however he needs to in order to arrive at his desired conclusions. He originally said that there was only one denomination a thousand years ago, and he cited participating in communion only once a year as an example of an unacceptable deviation within Protestantism. Then, when I gave examples of individuals and churches acting independently of one another and against each other in the first millennium of church history, he gratuitously asserted that the Christians of that time were "basically one church" anyway. So, if two Protestant churches agree on nearly every issue, but they're governmentally independent (different denominations), Orthodox considers that unacceptable. Yet, if individuals and churches of the first millennium differ more widely, they're still "basically one church". And when we give Orthodox examples of Christians of the first millennium disagreeing with him about the veneration of images, baptism, etc., he dismisses such disagreements as insignificant. But if an allegedly Protestant church only celebrates communion once a year, then such a disagreement is treated as significant.

    Orthodox writes:

    "In the early church, the creeds had an authority, because they were agreed in council (as the bible sets the pattern for us to do) and thus they are non-negotiable."

    The earliest post-apostolic council you've cited is Nicaea, which didn't occur until the fourth century. And even Nicaea's acceptance was initially disputed, and different parties accepted different portions of it or added to it. The view of ecumenical councils that you hold was a relatively late development. The earliest generations of the patristic era didn't think they needed ecumenical councils to settle matters for them. Men like Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus held people accountable to doctrines such as the physicality of Christ and the virgin birth, even though no ecumenical council had passed a ruling on such issues.

    You write:

    "So protestants attempt to reinvent the wheel daily for things that were formally universally understood with the result of increasing fragmentation."

    Are you suggesting that all of Eastern Orthodoxy's beliefs were "universally understood" in early church history? Would you make that claim about the veneration of images or infant baptism, for example?

    You write:

    "The church in acts met and made a decision when differences of opinion cropped up. They didn't just go they own ways agreeing to disagree. That is just not biblical."

    The church in Acts also spoke in tongues, raised people from the dead, etc. Where can I go to see Eastern Orthodox leaders doing the same today?

    The apostles had unique authority that no later generation has had. They spoke of their authority in unique terms, and the people living just after them referred to the apostles' authority as something that had passed. The decisions in Acts 15 were approved by apostles. The same can't be said for ecumenical councils that occurred hundreds of years after the apostles had died. If you want us to associate your ecumenical councils with Acts 15, then you need to demonstrate a connection rather than just asserting it. Many councils have been held since apostolic times. The Arians held some councils attended by large numbers of bishops, for example, as have Roman Catholics and others you disagree with. How do you know that the particular councils you accept are comparable to Acts 15?

    Also, would you explain to us where your concept of "the church" has infallibly defined Acts 15 for us? Did one of the ecumenical councils infallibly define the text, for example? Or are you relying on your own fallible interpretation of the passage, much like the fallible scripture interpretations of Protestants that you keep criticizing?

    You write:

    "The visible church is united by The Faith, and the visible Church recognizes the rest of the church by The Faith."

    How do you know what "The Faith" is? We believe that Eastern Orthodoxy contradicts the faith delivered by the apostles. You might criticize us for relying on fallible interpretations of scripture to reach our conclusions, but you rely on fallible interpretations of passages like John 16 and Acts 15.

    You write:

    "When the fathers at Nicea and Constantinople penned that they 'believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church', they aimed to make a doctrinal statement about the nature of the church. You don't believe the doctrine that they were trying to express - that the Church is visibly one, that it was found in the common (catholic) understanding that existed in the apostolic churches at the time. Who are you fooling by reciting the creed?"

    Are you suggesting that everybody at Nicaea and Constantinople agreed with your Eastern Orthodox view of every term they used? It's more likely that different participants had differently nuanced definitions, and some understandings of the phrases developed over time. The patristic scholar David Wright comments:

    “The only ecumenical creed to mention baptism is the Nicene (none mentions the eucharist) in the phrase ‘one baptism for the remission of sins’. I have argued elsewhere that this cannot have originally embraced babies, because in the circles from which this creed emerged, to be approved at the Council of Constantinople in 381 (if we accept the testimony of the Fathers at the Council of Chalcedon seventy years later, as most scholars do), it was believed that newborn babies had no sins.” (What Has Infant Baptism Done To Baptism? [England: Paternoster Press, 2005], p. 93)

    You write:

    "The reasons that protestants are arguing back and forward about these issues is that they are trying to delve into a mystery which is how things are determined by God, and in what sense....Which is why it isn't a question that the Church has historically seen any benefit in addressing."

    If you can make such comments about an issue like predestination or the extent of the atonement, then why can't Protestants make similar comments about other issues? If scripture only addresses an issue to a particular extent, then why can't we stop there? Why do we need further information from an ecumenical council or some other source?

    You write:

    "You'd have no trouble finding in the ECFs differences on the canon of scripture, so if this represents a refutation on the authority of the church to be, over time, led into all truth (John 16:13), then you have no canon and you have no source of authority at all."

    How do disagreements among the church fathers over the canon of scripture prevent a Protestant from having a reliable canon? They don't. I don't assert that John 16:13 is addressing the teachings of some post-apostolic worldwide denomination. If the church fathers contradicted each other in their canon of scripture, as they did, then that fact does nothing to overturn my view of John 16.

    Again, would you tell us where your concept of "the church" has interpreted John 16:13 for you? If you're relying on a fallible interpretation of the passage, then why criticize Protestants for relying on fallible interpretations of scripture without any infallible creeds, councils, and such?

    And would you explain why we should apply John 16:13 to some post-apostolic group like Eastern Orthodoxy? Jesus was speaking to His disciples. The immediate context refers to His audience as having attributes that no post-apostolic men would have (John 14:26, 15:27). Such passages read more naturally if we apply them to historical individuals who knew Jesus when He was on earth rather than applying them to some Eastern Orthodox entity that could only claim to "remember" Jesus' teachings in the sense of receiving what previous generations had passed down. John 16:13-14 seems to be referring to revelation. The Spirit will disclose things not previously known. Do you believe that revelation is ongoing in Eastern Orthodoxy? What new revelations is the Spirit continuing to give to the Eastern Orthodox hierarchy? That might explain where you've gotten justification through works, the veneration of images, prayers to the deceased, the perpetual virginity of Mary, and your other unbiblical doctrines.

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  22. Orthodox,

    First of all, the nature of Original Sin is very much a big issue since it affects our theology about salvation. The EOC would accept libertarian free-will while those apostolic fathers would not.

    Next, concerning icons, are you talking about this passage?:

    "The Word, then, permits them a finger-ring of gold. Nor is this for ornament, but for sealing things which are worth keeping safe in the house in the exercise of their charge of housekeeping...And let our seals be either a dove, or a fish, or a ship scudding before the wind, or a musical lyre, which Polycrates used, or a ship's anchor, which Seleucus got engraved as a device;and if there be one fishing, he will remember the apostle, and the children drawn out of the water. For we are not to delineate the faces of idols, we who are prohibited to cleave to them; nor a sword, nor a bow, following as we do, peace; nor drinking-cups, being temperate."

    This hardly supports the use of icons. These are simply symbols that are used for a signet ring, not paintings that are to be *prayed to* and *venerated*.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Why on earth would I complain about governmentally independent churches? There are a number of governmentally independent churches in orthodoxy.

    The difference between protestant churches today who disagree and ancient churches who disagree is that the ancient churches considered disagreements to be a problem that ought to be resolved as soon as possible so that God's people may be one as Jesus commanded. And in large part they were successful in that for a millennium.

    Modern protestant churches represent a brand new thinking, that the Holy Spirit... not only is not leading the church into truth, but He never has, and the whole of church history is virtually a total write off. Every individual Christian has to always go back to square one, and figure out if the trinity is true, figure out what God is teaching concerning the sacraments, figure out every single thing as if they were the first Christian. This is not the order that God set in place in the churches, this is pure chaos.

    >The earliest post-apostolic
    >council you've cited is Nicaea,
    >which didn't occur until the
    >fourth century. And even Nicaea's
    >acceptance was initially disputed,
    >and different parties accepted
    >different portions of it or added
    >to it. The view of ecumenical
    >councils that you hold was a
    >relatively late development. The
    >earliest generations of the
    >patristic era didn't think they
    >needed ecumenical councils to
    >settle matters for them. Men like
    >Ignatius of Antioch and Irenaeus
    >held people accountable to
    >doctrines such as the physicality
    >of Christ and the virgin birth,
    >even though no ecumenical council
    >had passed a ruling on such
    >issues.

    Orthodoxy doesn't accept ecumenical councils because of some developed theory thereof. It accepts their doctrine for the same reason that Irenaeus accepted many doctrines that he taught - i.e. that the teachings were accepted throughout the church. As you ought to know, Irenaeus promoted the idea that the catholic teaching of the church that descended from the apostles is the orthodox faith. As for Nicea being inititally disputed, Orthodoxy knows that not every authoritative teaching is initially accepted. It's quite common for the church to ponder these problems and reach a consensus.

    >Are you suggesting that all of
    >Eastern Orthodoxy's beliefs were
    >"universally understood" in early
    >church history? Would you make
    >that claim about the veneration of
    >images or infant baptism, for
    >example?

    Of course not. Nothing is ever completely understood by everyone. That would mean the church has become perfect.

    >The church in Acts also spoke in
    >tongues, raised people from the
    >dead, etc. Where can I go to see
    >Eastern Orthodox leaders doing the
    >same today?

    Orthodoxy would say that for the good order of the churches it was decided some time shortly after Paul described the situation in 1 Corinthians, that tongues ought to be expressed in private worship rather than public.

    There seem to be a few WCF folks here, I don't know if you are one. What verse in scripture says not to have tongues in worship? There isn't one, thus you have no basis for not doing it. Orthodoxy claims the basis of the Tradition as a source of authority, but you are left in self contradiction.

    And I note that those protestant churches who do use tongues in public worship pretty much never do it as described in scripture.

    >The apostles had unique authority
    >that no later generation has had.
    >They spoke of their authority in
    >unique terms, and the people
    >living just after them referred to
    >the apostles' authority as
    >something that had passed. The
    >decisions in Acts 15 were approved
    >by apostles.

    When the dispute arose, Paul determined to go seek council with the apostles AND ELDERS in Jerusalem.

    Now why would he seek council with elders if they didn't have the authority of apostles? What was the point? None from a protestant point of view.

    >If you want us to associate your
    >ecumenical councils with Acts 15,
    >then you need to demonstrate a
    >connection rather than just
    >asserting it. Many councils have
    >been held since apostolic times.
    >The Arians held some councils
    >attended by large numbers of
    >bishops, for example, as have
    >Roman Catholics and others you
    >disagree with. How do you know
    >that the particular councils you
    >accept are comparable to Acts 15?

    The point about the councils is that they came to be accepted by the church and therefore represented the catholic understanding of the faith.

    After much disputing in the Jerusalem council, agreement was reached. "Then pleased it the apostles AND ELDERS, with the WHOLE CHURCH, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas". So we see here that the elders and whole church were involved in coming to agreement. And that (amongst other things) is what distinguishes them from Arian councils.

    You disagree with this understanding of councils? That's because you hold to a heresy called sola scriptura, not holding to the Traditions passed on in the church.

    >Also, would you explain to us
    >where your concept of "the church"
    >has infallibly defined Acts 15 for
    >us? Did one of the ecumenical
    >councils infallibly define the
    >text, for example? Or are you
    >relying on your own fallible
    >interpretation of the passage,
    >much like the fallible scripture
    >interpretations of Protestants
    >that you keep criticizing?

    Like a typical Western christian you are obsessed with figuring out if something is infallible or not. If yes, it is worthy. If not, it is dung.

    The point is, the authority in the church is the Tradition, a part of which is the scriptures. As Paul said, hold to the Traditions, whether written (scripture) or not written. Orthodoxy doesn't have to write it down for us to know that the common understanding of the church, whether defined in council or not, is an authoritative part of the faith.

    >How do you know what "The Faith"
    >is? We believe that Eastern
    >Orthodoxy contradicts the faith
    >delivered by the apostles. You
    >might criticize us for relying on
    >fallible interpretations of
    >scripture to reach our
    >conclusions, but you rely on
    >fallible interpretations of
    >passages like John 16 and Acts 15.

    The church that Jesus Christ founded is the pillar and foundation of the truth, always holding it up and preserving it.

    Is that just my interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:15? I suppose from a modern protestant point of view it is. On the other hand, the churches of God for a thousand years had no thought that the bible could legitimately be taken outside the church and be given novel interpretations that nobody had followed before.

    Now you say that you think Orthodoxy contradicts the bible from the apostles. But you know, the church all this time has been reading the exact same bible you have, and in large part in the original language to boot, and apparenty nobody was thinking to interpret it the way you do. Purely as a matter of common sense, it doesn't make a convincing argument that understandings unknown for 1500 years was all along the true meaning. There's got to be a considerable amount of pride involved to come to that conclusion.

    >Are you suggesting that everybody
    >at Nicaea and Constantinople
    >agreed with your Eastern Orthodox
    >view of every term they used? It's
    >more likely that different
    >participants had differently
    >nuanced definitions, and some
    >understandings of the phrases
    >developed over time.

    Perhaps to some extent, but still it is undeniable that the protestant understanding of "one holy catholic and apostolic church" would scarcely have been one held by anyone at Nicea.

    >“The only ecumenical creed to
    >mention baptism is the Nicene
    >(none mentions the eucharist) in
    >the phrase ‘one baptism for the
    >remission of sins’. I have argued
    >elsewhere that this cannot have
    >originally embraced babies,
    >because in the circles from which
    >this creed emerged, to be approved
    >at the Council of Constantinople
    >in 381 (if we accept the testimony
    >of the Fathers at the Council of
    >Chalcedon seventy years later, as
    >most scholars do), it was believed
    >that newborn babies had no sins.”
    >(What Has Infant Baptism Done To >Baptism? [England: Paternoster
    >Press, 2005], p. 93)

    Orthodoxy also belives that newborn babies have no sins, so I fail to see the problem. (Thanks for showing again that Orthodoxy doesn't change). Perhaps you are more accustomed to debating Roman Catholics with their understanding of original sin?

    >If you can make such comments
    >about an issue like predestination
    >or the extent of the atonement,
    >then why can't Protestants make
    >similar comments about other
    >issues? If scripture only
    >addresses an issue to a particular
    >extent, then why can't we stop
    >there? Why do we need further
    >information from an ecumenical
    >council or some other source?

    My main point was not that you should "stop there", but rather that there is a problem with the questions that protestants ask as being partially non-sensical when viewed in the light of orthodoxy.

    Now if Orthodoxy ever developed some big rift over these kind of opinions, we wouldn't "stop there", we would figure it out. But there is no such debate.

    >How do disagreements among the
    >church fathers over the canon of
    >scripture prevent a Protestant
    >from having a reliable canon? They
    >don't.

    How do you have a canon? Your ecclesiology doesn't allow you to have a reliable canon. All you can have is your personal opinion about what the canon should be, and if someone comes along with a different opinion, there isn't a whole lot you can say about it.

    >Again, would you tell us where
    >your concept of "the church" has
    >interpreted John 16:13 for you? If
    >you're relying on a fallible
    >interpretation of the passage,
    >then why criticize Protestants for
    >relying on fallible
    >interpretations of scripture
    >without any infallible creeds,
    >councils, and such?

    Again with the Western obsession with fallible/infallible. The church has a common understanding about the applicability of John 16:13, and we hold to the traditions passed onto us, whether by written or by spoken word, as the bible says to do. We do not expect to find everything written as Western christians seem to expect.

    >And would you explain why we
    >should apply John 16:13 to some
    >post-apostolic group like Eastern
    >Orthodoxy? Jesus was speaking to
    >His disciples. The immediate
    >context refers to His audience as
    >having attributes that no
    >post-apostolic men would have
    >(John 14:26, 15:27). Such passages
    >read more naturally if we apply
    >them to historical individuals who
    >knew Jesus when He was on earth
    >rather than applying them to some
    >Eastern Orthodox entity that could
    >only claim to "remember" Jesus'
    >teachings in the sense of
    >receiving what previous
    >generations had passed down.

    Wow, all the way back to chapter 14. If none of that applies to the wider church, then you just lost a lot of scripture. What about John 15:12, "love one another". Not directly applicable?

    The verse in question, concerning the coming of the "Helper", is of course about Pentacost, and the general gift of the Spirit to Christians. It is logical to assume that promises concerning these things would then be generally applicable. But again, you have taken the bible outside the Tradition, and therefore feel that you can challenge the traditional understandings. Who is right then? Your brand new interpretation, or the tradition? You can't know because your protestant beliefs prevent you having certainty about such things.

    >John 16:13-14 seems to be
    >referring to revelation. The
    >Spirit will disclose things not
    >previously known. Do you believe
    >that revelation is ongoing in
    >Eastern Orthodoxy? What new
    >revelations is the Spirit
    >continuing to give to the Eastern
    >Orthodox hierarchy? That might
    >explain where you've gotten
    >justification through works, the
    >veneration of images, prayers to
    >the deceased, the perpetual
    >virginity of Mary, and your other
    >unbiblical doctrines.

    Justification through works is unbiblical? Apparently you didn't read James yet. It's astounding how often protestants say point blank, no qualification at all, that justification by works is unbiblical, when James refers directly to it. Can protestants be that ignorant?

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  24. >First of all, the nature of Original
    >Sin is very much a big issue since
    >it affects our theology about
    >salvation. The EOC would accept
    >libertarian free-will while those
    >apostolic fathers would not.

    The protestant idea of libertarian free will is a modern abstraction trying to find an answer to the wrong question. Even protestants can't agree what the idea even means. The fact is orthodoxy believes in both free will and God's decree without seeing a contradiction. This is normally referred to as compatibilism, which is sometimes considered the opposite of libertarian free will. But then again, protestants can't agree on that either.

    >This hardly supports the use of
    >icons. These are simply symbols
    >that are used for a signet ring,
    >not paintings that are to be
    >*prayed to* and *venerated*.

    Firstly we don't actually pray to icons. We use them as a visual aid for praying to who is depicted. (Amusingly, James White in his last dividing line show felt the need to defend his use of YouTube videos because people just relate a lot better to the visual. Finally we agree on something!).

    Secondly, you wouldn't put a Christian fish on a signet ring unless you venerated that symbol. If you disagree you probably don't understand veneration to begin with. But that's pretty normal for protestants.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hi Orthodox,

    --the WCF has no real authority
    >>It absolutely does. It reflects the truth of the Scr undergirding it. It is a basis for ch disc, the recognition of doctrinal aberration on whose basis a local ch could disfellowship one. You have mistaken that idea.

    --be the only member, and have total unity.
    >>Nobody cares whether ONE PERSON has total unity w/ himself - that is irrelevant.

    --can make any comprehensive statement of faith, and it is a given that all the people who agree with it... Ummm... agree with it.
    >>That is exactly what you do as an EO, so I don't see how you're offering an improvement.

    --the creeds had an authority
    >>We agree they have authority too, just subordinate to the Scr.

    --In theory, you have to repudiate the WCF if somebody's argument tips you
    >>If their argument FROM THE SCRIPTURE does so, yes. But we are all fallible - I might be wrong, as might you. Appealing to some presumed infallibility on the part of any person or group just pushes the question back one step. You personally are still fallible in your analysis of what that infallible agent said (even if I granted in theory your ideas of infallibility).

    --protestants attempt to reinvent the wheel daily
    >>Some do, and they mostly end up as libs and heresies. But I don't - on what basis could you claim so?

    --A long time ago, WCF believers were a big group.
    >>What difference is that supposed to make? Do we judge truth by popularity?

    RHOLOGY: but just b/c I don't attach the same baggage to it that you do (ie, I run it thru the filter of Scripture as opposed to Thus Sayeth The Church) doesn't mean I don't get it.
    --so you admit that it doesn't mean to you what it meant to the original authors!
    >>No, didn't say anythg of the sort, and I reject the implication that you are in agreement w/ ECFs thereon. You have already been proven wrong on that count anyway, by others here.

    --But we've got Rhology (above) claiming the right to interpret the creed according to his own ideas about scripture
    >>Didn't say that.
    BTW, since you're playing the "that's just your interpretation!" game, maybe I should show you how irrational (not to mention annoying) it is.


    ORTHODOX'S PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS
    --that's the same as modernists interpreting Paul to mean what they think he should have meant about homosexuality
    >>Is that just your interpretation?

    --I hardly think the similarities between Coptic and Eastern Orthodox and merely limited to external forms.On any doctrinal issue on which you disagree with Orthodoxy, I would pretty much bet Copts would agree with us.
    >>Is that just your interpretation?

    >>>>"Sola scriptura" wasn't a new concept at the time of the Reformation, either.
    --Yes it was.
    >>Is that just your interpretation of the CFs?

    --Who taught limited atonement prior to the reformation?
    >>How would you know for sure even if they did? Wouldn't that just be your personal interpretation?

    --The faithful remnant has to "remain" (that's what the word means)
    >>Isn't that just your interpretation of Matthew 16?

    --The church in acts met and made a decision when differences of opinion cropped up. They didn't just go they own ways agreeing to disagree. That is just not biblical.
    >>Is that just your interpretation?

    --There is no scriptural warrant for making Sunday the Sabbath,
    >>Is that just your interpretation?



    I'll stop there and hope you get the point. I'm not 100% confident of that (you can prove it by stopping the ridiculous exercise that prompted me to write what I did just above), but I am pretty sure it's clear to the readers.


    --Now how many protestant churhes do you know who refuse to preach on the resurrection at easter, or on the incarnation at Christmas because they don't want to "bind the conscience" of Christians to recognize these holy days?
    >>See, this is why I was asking you to deal w/ one denomination, similar to your own inclusion of one sole denomination into the picture on your side (ie, EO-doxy). "Protestant" is barely a meaningful word anymore, and whose fault that is is not completely relevant to the topic, I don't think.

    --Again, you are trawling the ECFs desperately looking for some support for your being schismed from the church that the apostles founded.
    >>That's another of your easy ways out, kind of like "That's just your interpretation!" You spoke earlier about SolaScrip being a Prot invention - how recently have you read Webster & King's definitive work on the subject "Holy Scripture, the Ground and Pillar of our Faith"? If never, go ahead and check out vols. 2 and 3. And you could also deal w/ Jason Engwer's already-cited articles on ECFs and their beliefs.

    --You'd have no trouble finding in the ECFs differences on the canon of scripture
    >>And who differ w/ your own understanding of the "Canon" (not like "Canon of Scripture" is very meaningful in EO-doxy).

    --There are a number of governmentally independent churches in orthodoxy.
    >>And what beautiful love of the brethren they demonstrate! I think most recently of the Ecum.Patriarch preparing to split w/ the Greek Orthodox over a petty issue like ownership of land, for example.

    --Orthodoxy doesn't accept ecumenical councils because of some developed theory thereof.
    >>Very true, and you don't even know when a council is "ecumenical" until after the fact, which cracks me up. Talk about "comprehensive statement of faith, and it is a given that all the people who agree with it... Ummm... agree with it"!

    --As for Nicea being inititally disputed, Orthodoxy knows that not every authoritative teaching is initially accepted.
    >>Yet more relevant is the difference between the Second Nicene Council (the 7th Council) and the iconoclastic Council of Hieria. I wonder what (besides "the Church decided after the fact") evidence that Hieria wasn't a valid council you might bring forth? (This is less of a rhetorical question than it may seem - I am genuinely curious how you see that issue.)

    --What verse in scripture says not to have tongues in worship?
    >>What if I answered you? Would you say "that's just your interpretation!"? "Other Prots disagree w/ you!"? We'll see I guess.

    1 Cor 14:2For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church...The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

    1 Cor 14:12 - strive to excel in BUILDING UP THE CHURCH.

    "Well, you know, brother, I've really been active in giving hospitality to myself these days. It's going great"
    "Yeah, I've been exercising my spiritual gift of giving, just making sure I give plenty to myself. God is blessing!"

    1 Cor 14:14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also

    Cool?

    --protestant churches who do use tongues in public worship pretty much never do it as described in scripture.
    >>Agreed 100%. Been there, done that, fled that.

    --As Paul said, hold to the Traditions, whether written (scripture) or not written.
    >>Speaking of interpretation, that's a poor application and understanding of that psg.

    --the churches of God for a thousand years had no thought that the bible could legitimately be taken outside the church and be given novel interpretations that nobody had followed before.
    >>And yet so many did.

    OK, I'm tired now. [/polemics]
    Nice to have you here, though, Orthodox. We Evangelicals don't get nearly enough exposure to Eastern Orthodoxy.

    Peace,
    ALAN

    ReplyDelete
  26. ORTHODOX SAID:

    "Now you say that you think Orthodoxy contradicts the bible from the apostles. But you know, the church all this time has been reading the exact same bible you have, and in large part in the original language to boot, and apparenty nobody was thinking to interpret it the way you do. Purely as a matter of common sense, it doesn't make a convincing argument that understandings unknown for 1500 years was all along the true meaning. There's got to be a considerable amount of pride involved to come to that conclusion."

    No, it's more like—literate Christians who had access to copies of the Bible have been reading the Bible for 2000 years. That's hardly the same thing as "the church."

    And let's not forget that, in times past, people who read the Bible contrary to the church authorities were persecuted for dissent. So there was a disincentive to buck the system.

    "How do you have a canon? Your ecclesiology doesn't allow you to have a reliable canon. All you can have is your personal opinion about what the canon should be, and if someone comes along with a different opinion, there isn't a whole lot you can say about it."

    Which of the 7 ecumenical councils (recognized by Orthodoxy) has given us the canon of Scripture? Where can we find an authoritative list of the canonical books in one of the ecumenical councils?

    "The church has a common understanding about the applicability of John 16:13, and we hold to the traditions passed onto us, whether by written or by spoken word, as the bible says to do."

    And how do you propose to verify oral apostolic tradition?

    I hope you're not going to appeal to tradition to validate tradition.

    ReplyDelete
  27. ORTHODOX SAID:

    "Modern protestant churches represent a brand new thinking, that the Holy Spirit... not only is not leading the church into truth, but He never has, and the whole of church history is virtually a total write off."

    This is hyperbolic. Evangelical commentaries and systematic theologies interact with historical theology.

    "Every individual Christian has to always go back to square one, and figure out if the trinity is true, figure out what God is teaching concerning the sacraments, figure out every single thing as if they were the first Christian. This is not the order that God set in place in the churches, this is pure chaos."

    More hyperbole. A Christian can consult the preexisting literature, viz. read the best commentaries from various theological traditions.

    "Justification through works is unbiblical? Apparently you didn't read James yet. It's astounding how often protestants say point blank, no qualification at all, that justification by works is unbiblical, when James refers directly to it. Can protestants be that ignorant?"

    Jason can say this because this has been extensively discussed in Evangelical theology. Robert Stein wrote a fine online article on the subject. Doug Moo discusses this issue in his fine commentary on James.

    Why, even Luke Timothy Johnson (a Roman Catholic), in his own commentary on James, thinks that Paul and James are talking about two different things.

    Beware of the word "ignorant" lest it boomerang on the user.

    ReplyDelete
  28. EOx and RCs seem allergic to interacting w/ Romans 3-5, on the note of James 2.

    ReplyDelete
  29. "Justification through works is unbiblical? Apparently you didn't read James yet. It's astounding how often protestants say point blank, no qualification at all, that justification by works is unbiblical, when James refers directly to it. Can protestants be that ignorant?"

    >>>For one who comes here acting as if he knows a thing or two about church history, doctrine, etc., it appears you are woefully unable to grasp the fundamentals of linguistics.

    Just because Paul and James use the same word in their letters, it does not follow they are discussing the same concepts. You have successfully given us a stellar example of both semantic inflation and semantic incest.

    In the former, you equate the mere occurrence of a word with a whole doctrine associated with the word. For example, a Catholic will compare and contrast Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. But the mere fact that James uses the word “justification” doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument.

    In the latter, you use uses one Bible writer’s usage to interpret another Bible writer’s usage. For example, James’ use of “justification” is employed to reinterpret Paul’s usage—and thereby disprove sola fide.

    Or Paul’s use of “sanctification” is employed to interpret the sense of the word in Heb 10:29—and thereby disprove perseverance or special redemption. But this is a fallacious procedure unless the disputant can show, independent of the comparison, that both writers are using the same word the same way.

    Before making such claims, it is incumbent upon you to prove them by exegesis. Likewise, it is equally incumbent upon you to prove the classic EO prooftext for theosis out of the Petrine epistles and explain why post-Apostolic era usage of words is determinative of the usage of the Apostolic era and what Peter had in mind.

    No, the classic move for you is to simply appeal to Holy Tradition to verify Holy Tradition. The appeal is viciously circular.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Orthodox said:

    "Why on earth would I complain about governmentally independent churches? There are a number of governmentally independent churches in orthodoxy."

    You began this discussion by claiming that there was only one denomination a thousand years ago. If the churches of the early centuries were governmentally independent of one another, and they repeatedly disagreed with each other on issues of government and doctrine and morals, and they often acted in opposition to each other, then why should we consider them all part of one denomination?

    You write:

    "The difference between protestant churches today who disagree and ancient churches who disagree is that the ancient churches considered disagreements to be a problem that ought to be resolved as soon as possible so that God's people may be one as Jesus commanded."

    You offer no documentation, but only assertions. Why should we believe your claims about every church that existed in the first millennium? Why should we accept your characterization of Protestant churches? I reject your claims on both ends. Some of the individuals and churches who were out of fellowship with each other in the first millennium died in that state. And there are many Protestants today who express a willingness to be united with people who accept the apostolic faith. They may not want to be united with people who reject the apostolic faith, like Eastern Orthodox, but why is that a fault?

    You write:

    "And in large part they were successful in that for a millennium."

    Earlier, you said that they were successful without qualification. You said that there was only one denomination. Now you say that they were successful "in large part".

    You write:

    "Modern protestant churches represent a brand new thinking, that the Holy Spirit... not only is not leading the church into truth, but He never has, and the whole of church history is virtually a total write off."

    More assertions without evidence. I reject your characterization. I've written thousands of pages of material on matters related to church history, and I've repeatedly expressed interest in that history and respect for the people who lived it. I don't view church history as "virtually a total write off". Your false accusation reflects more poorly on you than it does on the Protestants you're misrepresenting. Nothing in Protestantism inherently leads to your characterization. If you want to use the worst Protestants as your standard, then compare them to the worst of Eastern Orthodoxy. Don't compare the worst of one to the best of the other.

    As far as John 16 is concerned, you're assuming your interpretation of that passage. You need to argue for it rather than just asserting it.

    You write:

    "Every individual Christian has to always go back to square one, and figure out if the trinity is true, figure out what God is teaching concerning the sacraments, figure out every single thing as if they were the first Christian."

    Once again, you assert without evidence. Why do you think that Protestants have produced so many millions of pages of books, articles, web sites, etc. addressing issues of church history, teaching people about subjects like Trinitarian doctrine, etc. if they expect every Christian to "go back to square one" in the sense of ignoring the counsel of other people? If, on the other hand, you're using the phrase "go back to square one" in the sense of justifying our reasoning all along the way, including in the earliest steps of that reasoning, then what's wrong with that? If you as an Eastern Orthodox can go back to passages like John 16 and Acts 15 in an (incorrect) attempt to justify your belief in Eastern Orthodoxy, then why can't Protestants similarly seek to justify their belief system?

    You write:

    "Orthodoxy doesn't accept ecumenical councils because of some developed theory thereof. It accepts their doctrine for the same reason that Irenaeus accepted many doctrines that he taught - i.e. that the teachings were accepted throughout the church. As you ought to know, Irenaeus promoted the idea that the catholic teaching of the church that descended from the apostles is the orthodox faith. As for Nicea being inititally disputed, Orthodoxy knows that not every authoritative teaching is initially accepted. It's quite common for the church to ponder these problems and reach a consensus."

    You first tell us that ecumenical councils are accepted because "the teachings were accepted throughout the church". You then tell us that "Orthodoxy knows that not every authoritative teaching is initially accepted". What you seem to be saying is that an ecumenical council can be rejected at first, but if it's accepted by some "consensus" later, then we should accept it. If the people who first rejected it were wrong, how do you know that the people who later accepted it were right? I doubt that most professing Christians today understand the concept of the Trinity as defined by the ecumenical councils. Should we take a poll of modern professing Christians, see what view of God is the general consensus, then conclude that whatever view is the general consensus is the correct one? You aren't giving us any reason to agree with your standards. You just assert them.

    What about the general acceptance of Arianism? Was that consensus correct? If Roman Catholics and Protestants agree about something in opposition to Eastern Orthodoxy, then should Eastern Orthodoxy go along with that consensus, since Catholics and Protestants combined make up such a larger number of people?

    You write:

    "Of course not. Nothing is ever completely understood by everyone."

    Then what did you mean when you referred to something being universally understood?

    You write:

    "What verse in scripture says not to have tongues in worship? There isn't one, thus you have no basis for not doing it. Orthodoxy claims the basis of the Tradition as a source of authority, but you are left in self contradiction."

    I've never spoken in tongues, and I've never seen anybody do it in my church, but I don't deny that people could speak in tongues today. I don't have any "self contradiction" about tongues. If scripture doesn't speak to such an issue, I can leave it unanswered. You can appeal to "Tradition", but, as we've seen, you can't support that appeal.

    You write:

    "Now why would he seek council with elders if they didn't have the authority of apostles?"

    Because you can want to work with people even if you don't need their approval. The fact that Paul worked with elders doesn't suggest that they had as much authority as apostles. He also worked with many laymen.

    If you want to argue that elders have as much authority as apostles, then you'll need to explain why Paul exercised authority over elders in his letters, why he classified apostles as the highest rank in the church, and why the earliest post-apostolic sources repeatedly deny that they have as much authority as the apostles. If, on the other hand, you're using "authority of apostles" in the sense of being given some lesser authority by the apostles, then who denies that? The elders can have apostolic authority in that sense without being as authoritative as the apostles.

    You write:

    "So we see here that the elders and whole church were involved in coming to agreement. And that (amongst other things) is what distinguishes them from Arian councils."

    Earlier, you said that there had to be an eventual "consensus", not agreement among everybody. If there has to be agreement among everybody, then who makes up that "whole church", and what do you make of the people who have rejected some of the councils you consider ecumenical? If you can exempt them from the "whole church", then why can't somebody else exempt groups they disagree with? You're giving us a series of arbitrary standards that you have yet to justify.

    Where does Acts 15 say that what occurred in that passage is authoritative only because it involved "the whole church"? It doesn't, much less does it say that such proceedings would have equal authority in a future generation if an Eastern Orthodox understanding of "the whole church" was involved in the process. You're reading multiple assumptions into the text that you haven't justified. I don't accept the authority of Acts 15 because of "the whole church" coming to agreement. I accept it because of apostolic authority. Other church leaders were involved, but it doesn't logically follow that those other church leaders were needed then and would be throughout church history.

    You write:

    "Like a typical Western christian you are obsessed with figuring out if something is infallible or not. If yes, it is worthy. If not, it is dung."

    That's not what I said.

    You write:

    "Orthodoxy doesn't have to write it down for us to know that the common understanding of the church, whether defined in council or not, is an authoritative part of the faith."

    Where do we find that "common understanding"? It seems that you want to have the benefits of claiming to possess it without having the responsibilities of proving that claim.

    You write:

    "Is that just my interpretation of 1 Timothy 3:15? I suppose from a modern protestant point of view it is. On the other hand, the churches of God for a thousand years had no thought that the bible could legitimately be taken outside the church and be given novel interpretations that nobody had followed before."

    More mischaracterizations and more assertions without evidence. 1 Timothy 3 is a passage about the local church, not some worldwide Eastern Orthodox denomination. And a church can have the responsibility of upholding the truth without thereby being assured of having the attributes Eastern Orthodoxy claims to have. The Old Testament repeatedly refers to how the Jewish people were God's witnesses, Jesus refers to how individual Christians are salt and light, Paul makes similar comments in his letters about individual believers, etc. We don't conclude that every Jew, the nation of Israel, or each Christian must therefore have attributes like what you claim for Eastern Orthodoxy. People and groups can be given responsibilities (being God's witness, being salt and light, upholding the truth, etc.) without being assured of always fulfilling that role as they ought to. Nothing in 1 Timothy 3 logically leads to your conclusion. And as far as "novelties" are concerned, I've already documented multiple examples of Eastern Orthodoxy's novel doctrines, about which the earliest Christians knew nothing.

    You write:

    "But you know, the church all this time has been reading the exact same bible you have, and in large part in the original language to boot, and apparenty nobody was thinking to interpret it the way you do."

    I gave you links to articles in which I document people agreeing with my views on issues like infant baptism and prayers to the deceased long before the Reformation. Once again, you're mischaracterizing my position, and you're ignoring evidence you've already been given.

    You write:

    "Orthodoxy also belives that newborn babies have no sins, so I fail to see the problem. (Thanks for showing again that Orthodoxy doesn't change). Perhaps you are more accustomed to debating Roman Catholics with their understanding of original sin?"

    You missed the point. The phrase in question in the Nicene Creed can be interpreted in a variety of ways and has been interpreted differently by different people over the centuries. There was a diversity of views in the first millennium, not just among Protestants. Some church fathers held one view of infant baptism. Others held another view. Some held one view of infants and sin. Others held another. You claim that something like the Nicene Creed should be accepted because of a "consensus" of "the whole church" accepting it, but if different elements of that "whole church" are interpreting the creed in different ways, then what agreement is there? You're the one who has set up the standard of a need for a consensus not only in word, but also in meaning. How do you know that there was a consensus accepting your understanding of the meaning of the ecumenical councils and other traditions you accept? If Roman Catholics define some of their terms differently then you do, then, by your own standards, you shouldn't claim consensus with them. If your consensus consists of nothing more than agreement with other Eastern Orthodox, then what significance does it have? Why should we think that Eastern Orthodoxy is the extent of the church?

    You write:

    "All you can have is your personal opinion about what the canon should be, and if someone comes along with a different opinion, there isn't a whole lot you can say about it."

    Take out the word "canon". Substitute the word "church". Would you accept such a claim made about your understanding of the church? Why should we accept the claim when you make it about the canon? If I have good historical evidence for the canonicity of Isaiah or 1 Corinthians, for example, then the fact that my belief in that book's canonicity is "my personal opinion" and could be challenged by other people doesn't mean that "there isn't a whole lot I can say about it". My belief that Tiberius Caesar lived is "my personal opinion" and could be challenged, but it doesn't therefore follow that any challenging of it would be of comparable or better worth.

    You write:

    "The church has a common understanding about the applicability of John 16:13, and we hold to the traditions passed onto us, whether by written or by spoken word, as the bible says to do."

    Document this "common understanding". How do you know that your view of the passage is the "common understanding", and how do you know that its being such demonstrates that it's correct? If your understanding of a passage like John 16 is what tells you that you should trust the "common understanding", then you can't assume that view of the "common understanding" in order to argue for it.

    You write:

    "What about John 15:12, 'love one another'. Not directly applicable?"

    There's nothing in the nature of that command that would lead us to think that it has only a narrow application, and the command is repeated many times in many contexts, including contexts addressed to believers in general. John 16:13, in contrast, is referring to something more unusual, it's immediately followed by references to acts of Divine revelation (verses 13-14), and it isn't repeated in contexts known to be addressing believers in general. We know that the disciples fulfilled John 16. But the only way we can get to your conclusion that Eastern Orthodoxy fulfills it is by reading a series of unverifiable assumptions into the text. If the disciples fulfilled the passage, why should we think that we need to look further for some other entity to fulfill it as well? Why isn't the disciples' fulfillment enough?

    You write:

    "But again, you have taken the bible outside the Tradition, and therefore feel that you can challenge the traditional understandings. Who is right then? Your brand new interpretation, or the tradition? You can't know because your protestant beliefs prevent you having certainty about such things."

    My historical conclusions are matters of probability rather than certainty. If that's unacceptable, then how do you avoid that same procedure? How do you know that there is a "Tradition", what it says, and that it has the authority you think it has? Your arguments for "Tradition" involve historical probability as well. If anything less than certainty is unacceptable, then the Eastern Orthodox appeal to church history is unacceptable. You began this discussion by claiming that there was only one denomination a thousand years ago. That's a historical claim. It's a matter of historical probability. By your own standards, "You can't know because your Eastern Orthodox beliefs prevent you having certainty about such things".

    You write:

    "Justification through works is unbiblical? Apparently you didn't read James yet. It's astounding how often protestants say point blank, no qualification at all, that justification by works is unbiblical, when James refers directly to it. Can protestants be that ignorant?"

    Can you be so ignorant of what Protestants believe about James? No Protestant denying that justification is through works is denying what he believes is taught in the book of James. You can't assume an Eastern Orthodox understanding of James and act as if I was writing with that understanding in view.

    ReplyDelete
  31. --can make any comprehensive statement of faith, and it is a given that all the
    --people who agree with it... Ummm... agree with it.
    --That is exactly what you do as an EO, so I don't see how you're offering an
    --improvement.

    The difference is that the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles. You know... the one that you defer to when you want to know the NT canon.

    --the creeds had an authority
    >>We agree they have authority too, just subordinate to the Scr.

    If they had an authority for you, you would be doing a better job of finding out what they meant by "one holy catholic and apostolic church" and believing it.


    >>In theory, you have to repudiate the WCF if somebody's argument tips you
    --If their argument FROM THE SCRIPTURE does so, yes. But we are all fallible - I
    --might be wrong, as might you. Appealing to some presumed infallibility on the part
    --of any person or group just pushes the question back one step. You personally are
    --still fallible in your analysis of what that infallible agent said (even if I
    --granted in theory your ideas of infallibility).

    Again with the Western obsession with fallibility and infallibility. If you are part of the Orthodox church you will inevitably, over time, better be able to discern the Orthodox teaching on a particular subject. Yes, fallibly but increasingly accurately as you further expose yourself to Orthodox teachings.

    Now you say you instead submit yourself to (your interpretation of) the scriptures. But who infallibly told you what the scriptures are? Nobody has infallibly told you this, so by your own criteria, you know nothing.

    Of course, when push comes to shove, you defer to the Orthodox NT canon, but you cannot say why you do, because you have no theory of Tradition that would allow you to.


    --protestants attempt to reinvent the wheel daily
    >>Some do, and they mostly end up as libs and heresies. But I don't - on what basis could you claim so?

    Every individual protestant has to start at square one, and reinvent every wheel that the church has already come up with, with the mind of the whole church and its greatest saints and theologians. The most ignorant and unread Christian in protestantism is expected to come up themselves with everything, from the trinitarian formula, to the exact formula for salvation. And many do it badly. Most don't do it at all, but defer to whatever church they landed in, which more than likely does it badly.

    --A long time ago, WCF believers were a big group.
    >>What difference is that supposed to make? Do we judge truth by popularity?

    Because the WCF has no real authority in protestantism (beyond discipline in the local church), protestants feel free to abandon in when the next better theory comes along. That's why, over time, the WCF has become virtually an irrelevancy in Christendom.

    --I'll stop there and hope you get the point. I'm not 100% confident of that (you
    --can prove it by stopping the ridiculous exercise that prompted me to write what I
    --did just above), but I am pretty sure it's clear to the readers.

    A hypocritical complaint on your part, since the canon of scripture is merely your own interpretation, right? Or is this the point where you jump into appealing to Tradition?

    --See, this is why I was asking you to deal w/ one denomination, similar to your own --inclusion of one sole denomination into the picture on your side (ie, EO-doxy).
    --"Protestant" is barely a meaningful word anymore, and whose fault that is is not
    --completely relevant to the topic, I don't think.

    So is the true church now only to be found in the WCF churches? That's a bit sad. How many people are left in the true church now?

    >> You spoke earlier about SolaScrip being a Prot invention - how recently have you
    >> read Webster & King's definitive work on the subject "Holy Scripture, the Ground
    >> and Pillar of our Faith"? If never, go ahead and check out vols. 2 and 3.

    Webster & King seems to be a work designed to refute Roman Catholic ideas about authority. All it does it establish that the church fathers had a very high view of the authority of scripture. (who would dispute it?). It doesn't prove at all that the church fathers didn't also have a high view of the authority of Tradition. Surely you're not going to claim the church fathers didn't advise to also hold to the traditions?

    >>And what beautiful love of the brethren they demonstrate! I think most recently of
    >>the Ecum.Patriarch preparing to split w/ the Greek Orthodox over a petty issue
    >>like ownership of land, for example.

    I don't know what you're referring to, the E P can't split with the Greek Orthodox because he is Greek Orthodox. But apparently you now are looking for opportunities to hit below the belt. I suppose your denomination is pure and spotless with regards to church politics?


    --Very true, and you don't even know when a council is "ecumenical" until after the
    --fact, which cracks me up. Talk about "comprehensive statement of faith, and it is
    --a given that all the people who agree with it... Ummm... agree with it"!

    How hypocritical, since you can't know what is in the canon of scripture till after the fact either. What you are doing is living in a glass house and throwing stones.

    --Yet more relevant is the difference between the Second Nicene Council (the 7th
    --Council) and the iconoclastic Council of Hieria. I wonder what (besides "the
    --Church decided after the fact") evidence that Hieria wasn't a valid council you
    --might bring forth? (This is less of a rhetorical question than it may seem - I am
    --genuinely curious how you see that issue.)

    The iconoclastic councils are not authoritative, partly because they contradicted the position of half the church, partly because they contradicted the practices of the church immediately before the council and iconoclastic emperors came to power, and partly because the church itself never accepted them. The faithful merely put the icons into storage to wait out the heresy, they didn't change their beliefs. That's why when the 7th council was held, it wasn't iconoclastic because somehow the church had been "converted" to the new teaching by the rule and influence of the emperor, but when the emperor was out of power, the church immediately went back to openly expressing the Tradition that was always there.

    Again, it is not the council that has infallible authority, but it is the church, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.

    >1 Cor 14:14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
    >15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also
    >

    >Cool?

    Is there some kind of a scriptural argument here that there shouldn't be tongues in church? If so, I can't see it. I don't want to pretend that no protestant argument has any credence, but in this case, I can't see it.

    --As Paul said, hold to the Traditions, whether written (scripture) or not written.
    >>Speaking of interpretation, that's a poor application and understanding of that
    --psg.

    Really. But at least we have a scripture to support holding to the Traditions, whereas you have no scriptural support for sola scriptura.

    ReplyDelete
  32. --No, it's more like—literate Christians who had access to copies of the Bible have
    --been reading the Bible for 2000 years. That's hardly the same thing as "the
    --church."

    If you weren't literate, you had the bible read to you, rather than reading it. The point is, whether reading or listening, they were hearing the same thing you heard and didn't come to your conclusions.



    >And let's not forget that, in times past, people who read the Bible contrary to the
    >church authorities were persecuted for dissent. So there was a disincentive to buck
    >the system.

    So everybody was secretly thinking that the "church authorities" were teaching nonsense, but they went along with it because they had to? Puhlease, don't insult our intelligence. Many Orthodox teachings have come from grass root support in opposition to the established leaders.

    >Which of the 7 ecumenical councils (recognized by Orthodoxy) has given us the canon of
    >Scripture? Where can we find an authoritative list of the canonical books in one of the
    >ecumenical councils?

    Again with the Western obsession in having everything neatly written down. Orthodoxy doesn't need to write something down to know that it is the Tradition. I'm sure you know what the traditional canon is of the WCF churches, even if it wasn't enumerated therein.


    --"The church has a common understanding about the applicability of John 16:13, and we hold
    -to the traditions passed onto us, whether by written or by spoken word, as the bible says
    --to do."
    --

    --And how do you propose to verify oral apostolic tradition?
    --
    --I hope you're not going to appeal to tradition to validate tradition.

    Another person living in a glass house and throwing stones. How do you know the canon of scripture? I hope your answer is "verifyable" according to your definition thereof.

    ReplyDelete
  33. >This is hyperbolic. Evangelical commentaries and systematic theologies interact with
    >historical theology.

    They interact with it, increasingly with a view to refuting it. Apparently the church has been wrong since about 300 AD. Radical baptists would say is starkly that the church became heretical. WCF folks wouldn't put it so starkly, but believe almost the same by their stern criticism of almost everything about the early church.

    >More hyperbole. A Christian can consult the preexisting literature,
    >viz. read the best commentaries from various theological traditions.


    Yeah they could. If they were scholarly minded, had about 5 years of their life to give up to devote to it etc. And after investing all that time, they could STILL find themselves uncertain of whose point of view is the most correct, and therefore which church they ought to join. This doesn't sound to me like the ecclesiology that Paul was trying to set up. Give the churches some ambiguous writings, let the church schism into a thousand pieces, and hope that a few people figure out somehow which churches are teaching the truth.

    >Why, even Luke Timothy Johnson (a Roman Catholic), in his own commentary on James, thinks >that Paul and James are talking about two different things.


    What if they ARE talking about two different things? What if they are talking apples and oranges? Does that mean that James' statements about oranges are irrelevant? If James said that we are justified by works, then that is a true statement, is it not? Yes there is context to consider, but then again, I have just been lectured here by a protestant, devoid of any context that "justification by works is unbiblical". That is false is it not? The bible says we are justified by works. We can talk about what that means, but at the end of the day the bible says it, and thus it is true.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Orthodox wrote:

    "The difference is that the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles. You know... the one that you defer to when you want to know the NT canon."

    You give us no reason to agree with you that "the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles". You just assert it. How do you know that Papias was Eastern Orthodox? Or Polycarp? Or Justin Martyr? Or Damasus? You don't.

    A Protestant can accept books as canonical for a variety of reasons (Jesus' testimony about the inspiration of Old Testament books, the authority of the apostles, etc.). Jews of the Old Testament era were able to discern canonical books without anything like an Eastern Orthodox ruling on the matter, and the earliest post-apostolic Christians referred to documents like the gospels as scripture without any ruling from an Eastern Orthodox hierarchy.

    Part of the evidence we have for the authorship of the New Testament books, and thus their apostolic authority, is the testimony of Christians like Tertullian and non-Christians like Julian the Apostate. Would you classify such men as Eastern Orthodox?

    Even with regard to men you might be more willing to classify as Eastern Orthodox, such as Irenaeus and Basil of Caesarea, is everything they wrote equivalent to what "the church" was teaching? Is everything Irenaeus or Basil wrote equivalent to "Tradition"? Why can't we accept the testimony of such men (and Tertullian, Julian the Apostate, etc.) as historical witnesses without thereby believing the authority claims you make for Eastern Orthodoxy? You can't label the entire realm of historical evidence as "Tradition" and act as if anybody who reaches any conclusions on the basis of historical evidence related to early Christianity is thereby relying on Eastern Orthodox "Tradition".

    You write:

    "That's why when the 7th council was held, it wasn't iconoclastic because somehow the church had been 'converted' to the new teaching by the rule and influence of the emperor, but when the emperor was out of power, the church immediately went back to openly expressing the Tradition that was always there."

    Notice that Orthodox once again makes an assertion without evidence. Where has he shown that his view of the veneration of images was "always there"?

    Instead of taking the word of an anonymous Eastern Orthodox layman, let's listen to what an Eastern Orthodox patristic scholar tells us. John McGuckin, while acknowledging the existence of some early Christian artwork, writes:

    "Christianity in the earliest period seems to have shared the aversion common in Judaism (though not an absolute aversion as is demonstrated by the highly decorated second-century synagogue at Dura Europos) to painted representations in religious contexts." (The Westminster Handbook To Patristic Theology [Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004], p. 32)

    Let's pause here for a moment. Would anybody describe modern Eastern Orthodoxy as an environment in which there's an "aversion to painted representations in religious contexts"? No. The contrast between early Christianity and Eastern Orthodoxy on this issue is stark. McGuckin goes on to say that the church in general (not just some illiterate, ignorant laymen) "turned from it [art] as part of their apologia against false cult" (p. 32). He goes on to give examples of men like Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Epiphanius. He could have mentioned other names as well, and these people include bishops. Early enemies of Christianity, such as Celsus and Caecilius, criticize Christians in general for their opposition to the veneration of images. (I'm aware that the early enemies of Christianity sometimes misrepresented the faith. But they also sometimes represented it accurately. In this case, what these enemies said is plausible in light of the other data we have. Thus, their testimony adds further weight to my case.) The situation is such that even a conservative Roman Catholic like Ludwig Ott will write:

    "Owing to the influence of the Old Testament prohibition of images, Christian veneration of images developed only after the victory of the Church over paganism. The Synod of Elvira (about 306) still prohibited figurative representations in the houses of God (Can. 36)." (Fundamentals Of Catholic Dogma [Rockford, Illinois: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1974], p. 320)

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  35. Orthodox said:

    "If they were scholarly minded, had about 5 years of their life to give up to devote to it etc. And after investing all that time, they could STILL find themselves uncertain of whose point of view is the most correct, and therefore which church they ought to join. This doesn't sound to me like the ecclesiology that Paul was trying to set up."

    If you're going to claim that people need to go through that sort of effort in order to understand scripture, then what effort do they have to go through to understand scripture and the patristic documents, ecumenical councils, etc. that you would cite as an Eastern Orthodox? What you seem to be doing is comparing how a Protestant would go about objectively justifying his belief system with how an Eastern Orthodox would behave if he accepted whatever his church tells him. But that's a false comparison. Just as a Protestant can question his belief system, an Eastern Orthodox can question his. What if your local Eastern Orthodox leader is misrepresenting the Eastern Orthodox faith? What if you're misunderstanding what he's trying to communicate to you? How do you know that Eastern Orthodoxy is what it claims to be? You've cited Biblical passages like John 16 and Acts 15, and you've made appeals to church history, but the same sort of study would be involved in thinking through those issues as is involved in thinking through the issues that face a Protestant.

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  36. >Just because Paul and James use the same word in their letters, it does not follow they are
    >discussing the same concepts. You have successfully given us a stellar example of both
    >semantic inflation and semantic incest.


    Really. Since nobody mentioned Paul to me when I was lectured that "justification by faith is unbiblical", how is there any incest going on? Protestants always assume Paul, because Paul is virtually all they care about in forming doctrine, to the detriment of the Gospels and other writings. My guess is, that if a protestant had ever met James, they would have also lectured him about semantic incest.

    I don't need to prove that justification by works is a biblical statement, because it is right there in the bible, (to the continuing consternation of protestants, I think).

    >Likewise, it
    >is equally incumbent upon you to prove the classic EO prooftext for theosis out of the
    >Petrine epistles and explain why post-Apostolic era usage of words is determinative of the
    >usage of the Apostolic era and what Peter had in mind.

    Why is it incumbent to prove it by exegesis? You are again working from a false starting point of sola scriptura. The idea of theosis has been expressed from the beginning, from Justin Martyr, to Origen, and Cyril onwards to today. Actually, only sometimes in conjunction with 2 Peter, other times with Psalm 82:6 and John 10:34. Other times in relation to the teaching that we are children of God (John 3:1). Other times in relation to the teaching of being transformed into the nature of Christ in glory by the Spirit (2 Cor 3:18).

    Still, if you had more than a superficial understanding of theosis, I can't see why you be objecting anyway, since it really just teaches similar things that protestants believe anyway.


    >No, the classic move for you is to simply appeal to Holy Tradition to verify Holy
    >Tradition. The appeal is viciously circular.

    And I'll bet you appeal to scripture to verify scripture. It doesn't get any more "viciously circular" than that my friend.

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  37. >then why should we consider them all part of one denomination?

    For a start, they considered themselves part of the one church, continually meeting in council to try and bring themselves to the same understanding, and seeking the opinions of the other churches. Like Paul did, going up to Jerusalem to consult with the other churches: He didn't go up to Jerusalem to convert them to his way of thinking, he went up there to also obtain the input from the rest of the church. Now do you consider yourself part of the same denomination as... I don't know, let's say Calvery Chapel? Would you go up there to seek their advice on their understanding of predestination? No you wouldn't, because you don't consider that they have inherited any tradition worth consulting. They believe what they believe and you believe what you believe, and you wouldn't exchange pastors between you, or treat them interchangeably if you went to a new area seeking a new church. The original church believed it necessary to have only one church in an area, because that is the biblical model. It was therefore always a continuing mission of the church, that protestants have abandoned, to seek to be of one mind (Romans 15:5, Philippians 1:27, 2:2). While they weren't always of one mind, they continued always working towards that, not thinking it good enough to agree to disagree, leading to schism.

    >Some of the individuals and churches who were out of fellowship with each other in the
    >first millennium died in that state.

    Yes. The Gnostics. The Marcions. Various other heretical groups that never gained a wide following, that you yourself would condemn. If you think they are a justification for the protestant mess, then I think you have refuted your own argument.

    >And there are many Protestants today who express a willingness to be united with people who
    >accept the apostolic faith. They may not want to be united with people who reject the
    >apostolic faith, like Eastern Orthodox, but why is that a fault?

    Ahh yes, protestants have discovered 1500 years after the fact what "the apostolic faith" is, that nobody ever knew of before. And their authority is.... themselves!

    >I've repeatedly expressed interest in that history and respect for the people who lived it.
    >I don't view church history as "virtually a total write off". Your false accusation
    >reflects more poorly on you than it does on the Protestants you're misrepresenting. Nothing
    >in Protestantism inherently leads to your characterization.

    You just told me that Orthodox "reject the apostolic faith" and it is reasonable to not want any unity with them. But Orthodoxy *IS* the teachings of church history, especially the early years. How much "respect" is there really? Not a lot that I see.

    >If you want to use the worst Protestants as your standard, then compare them to the worst
    >of Eastern Orthodoxy. Don't compare the worst of one to the best of the other.


    I only need to read what you're saying.

    >Once again, you assert without evidence. Why do you think that Protestants have produced so
    >many millions of pages of books, articles, web sites, etc. addressing issues of church
    >history, teaching people about subjects like Trinitarian doctrine, etc. if they expect
    >every Christian to "go back to square one" in the sense of ignoring the counsel of other
    >people?

    I never said that protestants expect that you should ignore others' council. But they do expect that nobody's council has any value unless it is checked by going back to square one and ignoring the historical consensus about that issue. Thus the only argument against.. oh say Jehovah's witnesses, is to get into some very involved and complicated issues of grammar, that few people in this day and age are in a position to evaluate.

    >If, on the other hand, you're using the phrase "go back to square one" in the sense of
    >justifying our reasoning all along the way, including in the earliest steps of that
    >reasoning, then what's wrong with that? If you as an Eastern Orthodox can go back to
    >passages like John 16 and Acts 15 in an (incorrect) attempt to justify your belief in
    >Eastern Orthodoxy, then why can't Protestants similarly seek to justify their belief
    >system?

    There's nothing wrong with being able to go back to square one to justify a position from the bible. Doing that is how the church got from square one to where it is now. The problem is, if you expect every Christian to do that, no matter their level of learning or maturity before they can even find a true church, get baptised, become saved etc, then you've got an unworkable system.

    >You first tell us that ecumenical councils are accepted because "the teachings were
    >accepted throughout the church". You then tell us that "Orthodoxy knows that not every
    >authoritative teaching is initially accepted". What you seem to be saying is that an
    >ecumenical council can be rejected at first, but if it's accepted by some "consensus"
    >later, then we should accept it. If the people who first rejected it were wrong, how do you
    >know that the people who later accepted it were right?

    Because the promise is that the Spirit is leading the church into all truth, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, and the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. If the whole church is teaching the wrong thing, then the church has been led into error, the gates of hell have prevailed, and the church is the pillar of error. Thus, if the whole church is in consensus, it is the truth.

    >I doubt that most professing Christians today understand the concept of the Trinity as
    >defined by the ecumenical councils. Should we take a poll of modern professing Christians,
    >see what view of God is the general consensus, then conclude that whatever view is the
    >general consensus is the correct one?

    No you shouldn't do that, because you are not in the Church that the apostles built, and thus your poll would be irrelevant. Reopening an old error, does not undo the old consensus.

    >What about the general acceptance of Arianism? Was that consensus correct?

    There was never a general acceptance of Arianism. There was a wide acceptance sure, but it wasn't even a majority, let alone "general".

    >If Roman Catholics and Protestants agree about something in opposition to Eastern
    >Orthodoxy, then should Eastern Orthodoxy go along with that consensus, since Catholics and
    >Protestants combined make up such a larger number of people?

    No you shouldn't. I'll post some quotes in a following post about why you shouldn't.

    >I've never spoken in tongues, and I've never seen anybody do it in my church, but I don't
    >deny that people could speak in tongues today. I don't have any "self contradiction" about
    >tongues.

    Paul says not to stop anyone from speaking in tongues.

    >If you want to argue that elders have as much authority as apostles, then you'll need to
    >explain why Paul exercised authority over elders in his letters

    I didn't say they has "as much" authority, I said they had authority. That ought to be enough for you to be obeying the elders, unless you've got apostles, which you don't.

    >If, on the other hand, you're using "authority of apostles" in the sense of being given
    >some lesser authority by the apostles, then who denies that? The elders can have apostolic
    >authority in that sense without being as authoritative as the apostles.

    If you agree they have authority, just as the text says they did in the Jerusalem council, then you ought to obey their authority, when they are in agreement with the whole church like they were in the Jerusalem council. The trouble is, you don't. You ASSUME that the Jerusalem council only had authority because the apostles were there. The trouble is, the text never singles out the authority of the council as stemming from the apostles. The text mentions the elders and the apostles in one breath.

    Of course, you will fall back to your personal interpretation yet again, which gives you carte blanch to believe whatever fits with your personal traditions.

    >If there has to be agreement among everybody, then who makes up that "whole church", and
    >what do you make of the people who have rejected some of the councils you consider
    >ecumenical? If you can exempt them from the "whole church", then why can't somebody else
    >exempt groups they disagree with? You're giving us a series of arbitrary standards that you
    >have yet to justify.

    Nobody said it was going to be easy, but this is not a conundrum from which you shall be allowed to escape from. The Syrian Oriental Orthodox church (using the Peshitta version of the bible) does not accept II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. Now how do you know your canon is correct and theirs is wrong? By what authority do you say it?

    My answer, is that when there is an irreconcilable difference which antiquity cannot provide the answer, then the general consensus will provide the answer.

    >Where do we find that "common understanding"? It seems that you want to have the benefits of
    >claiming to possess it without having the responsibilities of proving that claim.

    You can find it in the Church my friend.

    >1 Timothy 3 is a passage about the local church, not some worldwide Eastern Orthodox denomination.

    The local church? Your personal interpretation again?

    I guess Christians witnessing this exchange can never know who is right, because it all relies on differing interpretations of the same texts.

    >And a church can have the responsibility of upholding the truth without thereby being assured of
    >having the attributes Eastern Orthodoxy claims to have.

    The text doesn't say that the church "can" have the "responsibility" of upholding the truth. The text says that the church *IS* the pillar and foundation of the truth. Now where was this church in... oh say 1000 AD, which *IS* the pillar and foundation of the truth? Apparently non-existent from your point of view since Orthodoxy is not the teaching of the apostles according to you. Thus you don't believe that the church is the pillar of the truth, you only hope that the church might be, when all the stars are aligned and people start listening to the WCF.

    >And as far as "novelties" are concerned, I've already documented multiple examples of Eastern
    >Orthodoxy's novel doctrines, about which the earliest Christians knew nothing.


    I havn't seen any such documentation. All I saw was the expression of an obscure Spanish council about their local situation with regard icons.

    >I gave you links to articles in which I document people agreeing with my views on issues like
    >infant baptism and prayers to the deceased long before the Reformation. Once again, you're
    >mischaracterizing my position, and you're ignoring evidence you've already been given.

    That's just two issues. There are lots of other issues you will not find any agreement on.

    >You claim that something like the Nicene Creed should be accepted because of a "consensus" of "the
    >whole church" accepting it, but if different elements of that "whole church" are interpreting the
    >creed in different ways, then what agreement is there?

    There is the agreement of consensus over time in how it is understood too. But there is no wiggle room for you here in understanding what it means to be the "one holy catholic and apostolic church", because the amount of writings from that time in understanding this terminology will by no means give you room to insert a protestant understanding.

    >How do you know that there was a consensus accepting your understanding of the meaning of the
    >ecumenical councils and other traditions you accept?

    Because it is obvious. Yes there were some Arians who stupidly tried to read their theology into the Nicean creed because they didn't want to give up Arianism, even though they knew the creed was formulated specifically against them. But if anyone is in any serious doubt about whether the Nicean creed is an Arian creed, we can look to the church's understanding of it in other writings, and the dying out of Arianism.

    >If Roman Catholics define some of their terms differently then you do, then, by your own
    >standards, you shouldn't claim consensus with them.

    The problem with Roman Catholics is not definition of terms. It is adding novelties to the faith.

    >Take out the word "canon". Substitute the word "church". Would you accept such a claim made about >your understanding of the church?

    Not really, because I could count the number of churches on one hand that have even a prima facie possibility of being the church founded by the apostles. So that narrows it down considerably to start with. But if you want to start talking about what books are inspired by God, the range of opinion has just expanded exponentially. And frankly, you'll be a lot closer to a consensus of the truth in any one of those churches, than you will be with an open ended question of what books may be inspired by God.

    >If I have good historical evidence for the canonicity of Isaiah or 1 Corinthians, for example,
    >then the fact that my belief in that book's canonicity is "my personal opinion" and could be
    >challenged by other people doesn't mean that "there isn't a whole lot I can say about it".

    All you can say about it is to point with varying degrees of evidence what groups used a particular book. You can't say that the groups who didn't use it were wrong, or those who did use a book were wrong. You can't say that the Shepherd of Hermes is out or that Esther is in. If you were consistent you would claim the right to revisit all these decisions.

    >Document this "common understanding". How do you know that your view of the passage is the "common
    >understanding", and how do you know that its being such demonstrates that it's correct?

    I guess if you'd joined the church in, oh say 50AD, maybe in Corinth where Paul had passed through some years before, you'd be challenging the elders to demonstrate that their understanding of Paul and the gospel was correct. All they could tell you is what the church teaches, and you'd tell them no cigar, and go back to worshipping zeus or something. Well, there'd be no church if we listened to that nonsense.

    >John 16:13, in contrast, is referring to something more unusual, it's immediately followed by
    >references to acts of Divine revelation (verses 13-14), and it isn't repeated in contexts known to
    >be addressing believers in general.

    Promises regarding the receiving of the Spirit "when he comes" were applicable to believers in general.

    >If the disciples fulfilled the passage, why should we think that we need to look further for some
    >other entity to fulfill it as well? Why isn't the disciples' fulfillment enough?

    What if they fulfilled the requirement to love one another?

    Let's face it. You're selectively cherry picking the passage to fit your own tradition.

    > That's a historical claim. It's a matter of historical probability.

    And maybe the universe is an illusion, in a ball of fluff in the back of a giant dog.

    The problem is I think that you're back to the Western obsession with the fallible/infallible. For most of church history, by necessity, people weren't choosing what church's teachings to follow. Rather there was the local church, and you didn't have a whole lot of choice about it. Apparently God was pleased to set things up that way, and I think you'd be better off in any one of those churches than where you are now.

    >You can't assume an Eastern Orthodox understanding of James and act as if I was writing with that
    >understanding in view.

    Hey, we didn't even get to the point of examining understandings of James. We were just presented with the assertion that the statement "we are justified by works" is unbiblical. Clearly, it is not.

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  38. >If Roman Catholics and Protestants agree about something in opposition to Eastern
    >Orthodoxy, then should Eastern Orthodoxy go along with that consensus, since Catholics and
    >Protestants combined make up such a larger number of people?

    St. Vincent of Lerins, in his fifth century treatise entitled The Commonitory, expresses the Orthodox understanding finding the truth (which he says was the universally understood understanding of his time).

    "I have often then inquired earnestly and attentively of very many men eminent for sanctity and learning, how and by what sure and so to speak universal rule I may be able to distinguish the truth of Catholic faith from the falsehood of heretical pravity; and I have always, and in almost every instance, received an answer to this effect: That whether I or any one else should wish to detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the Catholic faith, we must, the Lord helping, fortify our own belief in two ways; first, by the authority of the Divine Law, and then, by the Tradition of the Catholic Church.

    But here some one perhaps will ask, Since the canon of Scripture is complete, and sufficient of itself for everything, and more than sufficient, what need is there to join with it the authority of the Church's interpretation? For this reason—because, owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters. For Novatian expounds it one way, Sabellius another, Donatus another, Arius, Eunomius, Macedonius, another, Photinus, Apollinaris, Priscillian, another, Iovinian, Pelagius, Celestius, another, lastly, Nestorius another. Therefore, it is very necessary, on account of so great intricacies of such various error, that the rule for the right understanding of the prophets and apostles should be framed in accordance with the standard of Ecclesiastical and Catholic interpretation.

    Moreover, in the Catholic Church itself, all possible care must be taken, that we hold that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "Catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determinations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors.

    What then will a Catholic Christian do, if a small portion of the Church have cut itself off from the communion of the universal faith? What, surely, but prefer the soundness of the whole body to the unsoundness of a pestilent and corrupt member? What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty.

    But what, if in antiquity itself there be found error on the part of two or three men, or at any rate of a city or even of a province? Then it will be his care by all means, to prefer the decrees, if such there be, of an ancient General Council to the rashness and ignorance of a few. But what, if some error should spring up on which no such decree is found to bear? Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation."

    In this same vein, and echoing 1 Timothy 3:15, St. Irenaeus wrote:

    "But, again, when we refer them to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the succession of presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition, saying that they themselves are wiser not merely than the presbyters, but even than the apostles, because they have discovered the unadulterated truth...

    It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world; and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times; those who neither taught nor knew of anything like what these [heretics] rave about... .

    In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth. "

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  39. >If you're going to claim that people
    >need to go through that sort of
    >effort in order to understand
    >scripture, then what effort do they
    >have to go through to understand
    >scripture and the patristic
    >documents, ecumenical councils, etc.
    >that you would cite as an Eastern
    >Orthodox?

    Ahh, but you don't have to understand everything up front. You can join the Church, and learn what you can according to your abilities. The contrast is protestantism in which you can't even join the church, get baptised and be saved until you figure out where the church actually is, and which church is teaching it.

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  40. -- How do you know that Papias was Eastern Orthodox? Or Polycarp?
    -- Or Justin Martyr? Or Damasus? You don't.

    The saints such as these define Orthodoxy. Your question makes as much sense as asking if Paul was a Christian.

    --Jews of the Old Testament era were able to discern canonical books without anything like an
    --Eastern Orthodox ruling on the matter, and the earliest post-apostolic Christians referred to
    --documents like the gospels as scripture without any ruling from an Eastern Orthodox hierarchy.

    There is no Eastern Orthodox ruling on the canon, so in that sense I agree with you. But we know what the canon is because of the Tradition. You on the other hand can't tell us how to know the canon.

    >Part of the evidence we have for the authorship of the New Testament books, and thus their
    >apostolic authority, is the testimony of Christians like Tertullian and non-Christians like Julian
    >the Apostate. Would you classify such men as Eastern Orthodox?

    No I wouldn't, and neither does the church rely on history for knowing the truth. It helps as a proof and an apologetic, but it isn't necessary.

    >Even with regard to men you might be more willing to classify as Eastern Orthodox, such as
    >Irenaeus and Basil of Caesarea, is everything they wrote equivalent to what "the church" was
    >teaching? Is everything Irenaeus or Basil wrote equivalent to "Tradition"?

    The overall understanding of what they wrote is Tradition, not every last detail of every last ECF. Protestants are quite happy in history books to talk about what the church believed as a whole, but as soon as you start mentioning that it might be authoritative, suddenly they act all confused as if they don't really know, and start muttering about the fallible/infallible divide. If you'd been thinking of joining the church in 40 AD, you'd have to stay pagan, because all most churches had was the Tradition that was passed on. Sola scripture would have been a nonsense in the early church.

    >Why can't we accept the testimony of such men (and Tertullian, Julian the Apostate, etc.) as
    >historical witnesses without thereby believing the authority claims you make for Eastern
    >Orthodoxy?

    Well Julian the apostate, and Tertullian were no eye-witnesses to who wrote the books of the NT. All they could have done is passed on the Tradition, which you now accept, apparently on the basis of... drum roll.... the oral tradition!

    And again, you can't find the protestant canon from reading Tertullian or Julian the apostate. Even if you could, the best you could say is that there was some group of people using a particular canon. You cannot say if that group is right or wrong.

    >"That's why when the 7th council was held, it wasn't iconoclastic because somehow the church had
    >been 'converted' to the new teaching by the rule and influence of the emperor, but when the
    >emperor was out of power, the church immediately went back to openly expressing the Tradition that
    >was always there."
    >

    >Notice that Orthodox once again makes an assertion without evidence. Where has he shown that his
    >view of the veneration of images was "always there"?

    Well, I thought the topic at hand was the iconoclastic period. Be that as it may....

    >Instead of taking the word of an anonymous Eastern Orthodox layman, let's listen to what an
    >Eastern Orthodox patristic scholar tells us. John McGuckin, while acknowledging the existence of
    >some early Christian artwork, writes:

    Father McGuckin's wife is a well known iconographer, so apparently there is nothing shocking to Orthodoxy in what he writes....

    >Christianity in the earliest period seems to have shared the aversion common in Judaism (though
    >not an absolute aversion as is demonstrated by the highly decorated second-century synagogue at
    >Dura Europos) to painted representations in religious contexts."

    Yes, so there was some aversion found in early Christianity, but not complete aversion. And there were some Arians and some Trinitarians. etc etc. The existance of differing views presents no problem to Orthodoxy, because we acknowledge that the process of leading by the Holy Spirit takes time. Your objection makes as much sense as asserting that Revelation is not scripture because we can find MANY early church fathers who did not include it in their canon. Revelation was a VERY late addition to the consensus. But have you ripped it out of your bible? Didn't think so.

    >McGuckin goes on to say that the church in general (not just some illiterate, ignorant laymen)
    >"turned from it [art] as part of their apologia against false cult" (p. 32). He goes on to give
    >examples of men like Origen, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Epiphanius.

    I would have to disagree with Father McGuckin, or else you are taking him out of context, because Iconography is found throught Christian Catacombs dating from this period. And of course we have the well-preserved icons from Dura-Europos dating to the mid 3rd century as he noted, giving us a reference point to see what tradition Christians inherited from the Jews. The Palestinian Talmud records (in Abodah Zarah 48d) "In the days of Rabbi Jochanan men began to paint pictures on the walls, and he did not hinder them" and "In the days of Rabbi Abbun men began to make designs on mosaics, and he did not hinder them." The Targum Pseudo-Jonathan repeats the command against idols, but then says "but a stone column carved with images and likenesses you may make upon the premises of your sanctuaries, but not to worship them." Jewish holy books have been illustrated as far back as we have them. They contain illustrations of Biblical scenes, much like those found at the Synagogue of Dura Europos. It is note worthy that the earliest Icons of the Catacombs were mostly Old Testament scenes, and Icons of Christ. The dominance of Old Testament scenes shows that this was not a Pagan practices Christianized by converts, but a Jewish practice, adopted by the Christians.

    >Early enemies of Christianity, such as Celsus and Caecilius, criticize Christians in general for
    >their opposition to the veneration of images. (I'm aware that the early enemies of Christianity
    >sometimes misrepresented the faith. But they also sometimes represented it accurately. In this
    >case, what these enemies said is plausible in light of the other data we have. Thus, their
    >testimony adds further weight to my case.)

    Enemies of Christianity would have been fully aware of the Christian's refusal to bow to pagan idols. They could not have been aware of what went on in the churches, which were not public affairs. You had to know someone to get in. Thus this evidence is entirely consistent with what we would expect if they had icons.

    >"Owing to the influence of the Old Testament prohibition of images, Christian veneration of images
    >developed only after the victory of the Church over paganism. The Synod of Elvira (about 306)
    >still prohibited figurative representations in the houses of God (Can. 36)."

    Well, I would have to disagree with this publication as utter baloney, given the clear factual evidence presented concerning the Jewish understanding of images that the Christians of the time would have inherited.

    Most of the ECF quotes often cited against icons in fact either don't condemn them if you read carefully, or they are condemning idolatry of pagan cults. Basically, the Protestant objections not only fly in the face of all the actual hard verifiable Christian evidence, but it flies in the face of what we know about the Jews of the period too, from which Christians inherit many things in worship.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Orthodox writes:

    "For a start, they considered themselves part of the one church, continually meeting in council to try and bring themselves to the same understanding, and seeking the opinions of the other churches. Like Paul did, going up to Jerusalem to consult with the other churches"

    You keep making unsupported assertions while ignoring the evidence we've provided. You take what you perceive as the worst of Protestantism and compare it to what you perceive as the best of early Christianity. That's a false comparison.

    Protestants can also "consider themselves part of the one church". A Baptist belongs to a different governmental structure than a Presbyterian, but it doesn't therefore follow that they don't consider each other part of the same church in some sense. Just as the early Christians sometimes took action to be united with each other in councils, by traveling to meet with one another, etc., Protestants have sometimes done the same. Just as there are disagreements and divisions among Protestants, there were disagreements and divisions among the early Christians. You didn't interact with the examples I cited in my first post, but instead asserted that the early Christians were "basically one" anyway. As I said before, you'll make much of Protestant differences as minor as how often they celebrate communion, yet you make little of disagreements among earlier Christians that were much more significant.

    You write:

    "Now do you consider yourself part of the same denomination as... I don't know, let's say Calvery Chapel?"

    How do you know that every early Christian considered himself part of "the same denomination"? You don't. To the contrary, as I've documented, the early Christians repeatedly asserted their governmental independence from one another and sometimes disagreed with each other and opposed one another. The fact that some early Christians sometimes sought unity with some other professing Christians doesn't prove that every Christian considered himself part of "the same denomination". If every Christian considered himself part of the same denomination as every other Christian, then why do we see Hippolytus opposing other professing Christians in Rome as being part of a false church (The Refutation Of All Heresies, 9:7), Firmilian opposing Stephen as "a false Christ" who had cut himself off from the unity of the church (Cyprian's Letter 74), Jerome dismissing Tertullian as somebody who "did not belong to the church" (The Perpetual Virginity Of Blessed Mary, 19), etc.?

    You write:

    "The original church believed it necessary to have only one church in an area, because that is the biblical model."

    One church in what sense? In the sense that multiple governmental structures had some type of unity? Paul refers to multiple churches in Rome (Romans 16:5). In later generations, we find references to multiple churches in a city, sometimes with references to those churches disagreeing with each other. Today, a city can have an Eastern Orthodox church in it, a Roman Catholic church, an Anglican church, a Methodist church, etc. If that fact proves that Protestants aren't as concerned with unity as they ought to be, then why doesn't it prove the same about Eastern Orthodox? Are you united with Anglicans, Baptists, and Roman Catholics? Since you aren't, should we assume that you're as unconcerned with Biblical unity as you claim Protestants are?

    You write:

    "Yes. The Gnostics. The Marcions. Various other heretical groups that never gained a wide following, that you yourself would condemn."

    First of all, if you can exclude some groups, so that you need have unity only with a portion of professing Christians, then why can't I do the same? Secondly, you've given us no reason to think that the disagreements among those you consider orthodox Christians were as insignificant as you've suggested. When did Firmilian reconcile with Stephen? After the Second Council of Constantinople, the churches of Milan and Aquileia broke communion with the church of Rome. Etc. These things didn't just occur with groups like the Gnostics and Marcionites.

    You write:

    "There's nothing wrong with being able to go back to square one to justify a position from the bible. Doing that is how the church got from square one to where it is now. The problem is, if you expect every Christian to do that, no matter their level of learning or maturity before they can even find a true church, get baptised, become saved etc, then you've got an unworkable system."

    Which Protestants have said that "going back to square one" in the sense you've described is necessary to become a Christian, get baptized, etc.? I haven't said it.

    You write:

    "Because the promise is that the Spirit is leading the church into all truth, the gates of hell will not prevail against the church, and the church is the pillar and foundation of the truth. If the whole church is teaching the wrong thing, then the church has been led into error, the gates of hell have prevailed, and the church is the pillar of error. Thus, if the whole church is in consensus, it is the truth."

    You keep assuming your interpretation of John 16:13. You have yet to prove it. And why should we define the church of Matthew 16 and 1 Timothy 3 in the manner you're defining it? How do you know that Eastern Orthodox doctrine represents what "the whole church" has believed? You keep making assertions that you never justify. Something like an ecumenical council could err without a passage like Matthew 16 having thereby failed. If an Arian council denies the deity of Christ, and that council is widely accepted, that wide acceptance doesn't prove that every professing Christian alive agreed with the council, nor does it prove that the gates of Hades prevailed. You're making a series of unjustified assumptions.

    You write:

    "No you shouldn't do that, because you are not in the Church that the apostles built, and thus your poll would be irrelevant. Reopening an old error, does not undo the old consensus."

    And the earliest Christians didn't practice praying to the deceased, for example. Why should we accept something like prayers to the deceased just because it later became popular?

    You write:

    "There was never a general acceptance of Arianism. There was a wide acceptance sure, but it wasn't even a majority, let alone 'general'."

    How do you know that it wasn't a majority? People who were alive at the time referred to it as though it was (Athanasius, Festal Letter 29; Jerome, The Dialogue Against The Luciferians, 19; etc.). And how "general" does something's acceptance have to be? There have been people who have rejected councils that you consider ecumenical. How, then, can you claim that the councils had "general" acceptance? Are you going to claim that "general" acceptance is whatever number of people you need in order to arrive at your desired conclusions?

    You write:

    "I didn't say they has 'as much' authority, I said they had authority. That ought to be enough for you to be obeying the elders, unless you've got apostles, which you don't."

    You're ignoring the context in which we were discussing the issue. I was referring to the unique authority of the apostles. Saying that elders had some lesser authority does nothing to refute what I said.

    Concerning whether I've "got apostles", I do. I have the scriptures.

    You write:

    "If you agree they have authority, just as the text says they did in the Jerusalem council, then you ought to obey their authority, when they are in agreement with the whole church like they were in the Jerusalem council."

    You're assuming your interpretation of Acts 15 without proving it. Again, I don't accept the actions of Acts 15 because of the approval of "the whole church", much less your Eastern Orthodox concept of what "the whole church" is. Rather, I accept the actions of Acts 15 on the basis of apostolic authority. I'm not obligated to submit to elders who contradict apostolic teaching, such as the elders of Eastern Orthodoxy. Similarly, you don't submit to Roman Catholic, Anglican, or Baptist elders.

    You write:

    "The trouble is, the text never singles out the authority of the council as stemming from the apostles. The text mentions the elders and the apostles in one breath."

    You're the one who cited Acts 15 to justify your authority structure. I don't need Acts 15 to explain every element of church authority for me. Other passages tell me about the primacy of the apostles, and nothing in Acts 15 runs contrary to what those other passages teach. The fact that Acts 15 mentions "the whole church" with the apostles doesn't logically lead to your conclusion. You're the one who cited Acts 15. You need to explain how it supposedly supports your position. It doesn't.

    You write:

    "Of course, you will fall back to your personal interpretation yet again, which gives you carte blanch to believe whatever fits with your personal traditions."

    And your interpretations of Acts 15, the church fathers, etc. are your "personal interpretations". There are many Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Methodists, etc. who disagree with your view of church authority. You've chosen to follow an Eastern Orthodox reading of the evidence rather than one of the alternatives. That's your "personal interpretation". The fact that other Eastern Orthodox agree with that interpretation doesn't change the fact that you're accepting it based on your own judgment. Similarly, Roman Catholics, Baptists, and others accept interpretations that some other people agree with on the basis of their own judgment.

    You write:

    "The Syrian Oriental Orthodox church (using the Peshitta version of the bible) does not accept II Peter, II John, III John, Jude, and Revelation. Now how do you know your canon is correct and theirs is wrong? By what authority do you say it?"

    I say it by the authority of the historical evidence for the apostolicity of the books in question. See the discussions of the evidence in Thomas Schreiner's commentary on 1-2 Peter and Jude, Grant Osborne's commentary on Revelation, etc.

    You write:

    "My answer, is that when there is an irreconcilable difference which antiquity cannot provide the answer, then the general consensus will provide the answer."

    Why should we be convinced by your unsupported assertion that a later consensus "will provide the answer"? And if the Syrian Oriental Orthodox and other people doesn't agree with your canon, then how do you know that your "consensus" is sufficient?

    You write:

    "You can find it in the Church my friend."

    Telling me to look to "the Church" is just another vague response that doesn't accomplish much. How do I attain "Tradition" from "the Church"? How do I know which unwritten concepts are "Tradition" and which aren't?

    You write:

    "The text says that the church *IS* the pillar and foundation of the truth."

    And Isaiah says that the ancient Israelites are God's witnesses, Jesus says that Christians are salt and light, etc.

    You write:

    "I guess if you'd joined the church in, oh say 50AD, maybe in Corinth where Paul had passed through some years before, you'd be challenging the elders to demonstrate that their understanding of Paul and the gospel was correct. All they could tell you is what the church teaches, and you'd tell them no cigar, and go back to worshipping zeus or something."

    You're assuming that Eastern Orthodoxy is comparable to Paul, then you're using that assumption as a justification for not offering evidence that Eastern Orthodoxy is comparable to Paul.

    You write:

    "Promises regarding the receiving of the Spirit 'when he comes' were applicable to believers in general."

    You aren't interacting with what I've said. I gave you examples of elements of John 16 that can't be applied to every believer. The fact that every believer receives the Spirit doesn't logically lead us to the conclusion that every believer must receive everything mentioned to the disciples in John 16.

    You write:

    "What if they fulfilled the requirement to love one another?"

    As I told you earlier, and you ignored it, the command to love is found in many passages, not just John 15. The fulfillment of the command by the disciples wouldn't fulfill every other passage. Why do such obvious facts have to be explained to you?

    You write:

    "Rather there was the local church, and you didn't have a whole lot of choice about it. Apparently God was pleased to set things up that way, and I think you'd be better off in any one of those churches than where you are now."

    So, should somebody who grew up in a Montanist, Donatist, Roman Catholic, or Coptic church have accepted whatever that church taught? Should they have rejected what allegedly was being taught by Eastern Orthodoxy at the time?

    You write, quoting Vincent of Lerins:

    "What, if some novel contagion seek to infect not merely an insignificant portion of the Church, but the whole? Then it will be his care to cleave to antiquity, which at this day cannot possibly be seduced by any fraud of novelty."

    That's why I accept the ancient faith of the apostles rather than the later corruptions of Eastern Orthodoxy, though Eastern Orthodoxy only corrupted a part, not "the whole".

    You continue quoting Vincent:

    "Then he must collate and consult and interrogate the opinions of the ancients, of those, namely, who, though living in divers times and places, yet continuing in the communion and faith of the one Catholic Church, stand forth acknowledged and approved authorities: and whatsoever he shall ascertain to have been held, written, taught, not by one or two of these only, but by all, equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he must understand that he himself also is to believe without any doubt or hesitation."

    Why do you expect people to go through such a procedure, yet you criticize Protestants for expecting people to do too much?

    You go on to quote Irenaeus, but you don't cite the passages in which he discusses corrupt church leaders and the need to separate from them (Against Heresies, 4:26:2-5). Cyprian and other church fathers said much the same. You don't quote those comments.

    You write:

    "Ahh, but you don't have to understand everything up front. You can join the Church, and learn what you can according to your abilities. The contrast is protestantism in which you can't even join the church, get baptised and be saved until you figure out where the church actually is, and which church is teaching it."

    How does a person know that Eastern Orthodoxy is the true church? Does he come to that conclusion without having to do any thinking or studying through disputed issues?

    You write:

    "No I wouldn't, and neither does the church rely on history for knowing the truth. It helps as a proof and an apologetic, but it isn't necessary."

    And Protestants acknowledge that the Holy Spirit can lead people apart from historical study, that God can reveal Himself to people in private, etc. Protestants appeal to history, grammatical arguments from the text of scripture, and such in order to make an objective case for their belief system, but it doesn't therefore follow that they deny that people can be led by God in any other manner.

    You write:

    "The overall understanding of what they wrote is Tradition, not every last detail of every last ECF."

    How do you get the "overall understanding"? By weeding out whatever disagrees with Eastern Orthodoxy?

    You write:

    "If you'd been thinking of joining the church in 40 AD, you'd have to stay pagan, because all most churches had was the Tradition that was passed on. Sola scripture would have been a nonsense in the early church."

    I don't claim that sola scriptura was practiced during times of public revelation. Your argument makes about as much sense as my asking whether Adam and Eve followed the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith in the Garden of Eden.

    You write:

    "The existance of differing views presents no problem to Orthodoxy, because we acknowledge that the process of leading by the Holy Spirit takes time."

    I cited John McGuckin referring to the popular view of images among the earliest church fathers. If that popular view contradicted the view that later became popular, then how can you claim that your view of images was "always there" as an apostolic tradition held and taught by the church? Were the early Christians McGuckin refers to unaware of the tradition they were passing down? How do you know that they passed down your view of images if they don't express your view?

    You write:

    "Your objection makes as much sense as asserting that Revelation is not scripture because we can find MANY early church fathers who did not include it in their canon. Revelation was a VERY late addition to the consensus."

    I haven't made claims about Revelation comparable to your claims about Eastern Orthodox tradition. And Revelation was widely accepted by the earliest patristic sources. It became more controversial later. Again, see the discussions of the relevant historical evidence in the commentaries produced by Evangelical scholarship. I cited some examples earlier.

    You write:

    "I would have to disagree with Father McGuckin, or else you are taking him out of context, because Iconography is found throught Christian Catacombs dating from this period. And of course we have the well-preserved icons from Dura-Europos dating to the mid 3rd century as he noted, giving us a reference point to see what tradition Christians inherited from the Jews....Enemies of Christianity would have been fully aware of the Christian's refusal to bow to pagan idols. They could not have been aware of what went on in the churches, which were not public affairs. You had to know someone to get in."

    I addressed such issues in the articles I linked to earlier. Apparently, you didn't read them. The issue is the veneration of images, not just the use of images, though some sources opposed even their use. The early Christians who responded to the pagan critics in question didn't deny that Christians avoided the veneration of images. Rather, they defended that Christian avoidance. Again, see the material I linked to earlier.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Orthodox,

    Thanks again for taking the time. You must type fast! And you have a lot to say.

    GENEMBRIDGES: it is incumbent upon you to prove them by exegesis.
    --Why is it incumbent to prove it by exegesis?
    >>B/c you are making a claim about the text of Scripture. What is the other option? Meditating and sharing our subjective thoughts about what it means to us? I wouldn't've taken you for an Emergent Church type.

    --Protestants always assume Paul,
    >>Assertion w/o argument. I think I'll denote the many assertions w/o arguments w/ the easy acronym AWOA.
    If you disagree at any point, feel free to cite any argument you had cited beforehand and I'll stand corrected. Or you can actually offer an argument.
    And in answer, how could you make "justification is by works" (where "justification" = the way a dirty condemned enemy of God can stand forgiven before a holy God) fit w/ Paul in Romans 3-5? Prove me wrong that you're allergic to those 3 chapters.
    As for James' use of "justification", note how Abraham was 1st justified b/c of his faith when he believed God as noted in Rom 4, and LATER IN HIS LIFE he was justified b/c he followed God and trusted Him - his faith was shown not to be dead (which is the topic of the whole chapters of James 1:15-2). Thus he was justified BEFORE OBSERVERS, having shown his faith was not dead. Who are the observers? I am, you are, Sarah his wife, Isaac his son, all readers of Genesis are.
    That's exegesis - you have to explain WHY you disagree (b/c I know you do) but don't give us any AWOA.

    --And I'll bet you appeal to scripture to verify scripture.
    >>How dastardly to appeal to God's Word!

    --The difference is that the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles.
    >>AWOA.

    --the one that you defer to when you want to know the NT canon.
    >>AWOA. And I don't appeal to the EOC for the NT Canon - the EO doesn't have a hard-and-fast concept of the Canon of Scripture anyway, so I don't know how you could say that.

    --you would be doing a better job of finding out what they meant by "one holy catholic and apostolic church" and believing it.
    >>That's why I read the Scr every day, my friend.

    --Again with the Western obsession with fallibility and infallibility.
    >>It's YOUR argument, not mine! YOU'RE the one making all this hay about "that's just your interp!" which is nothing more than a conversation-stopper.
    It's not a question of whether I have an interp of Data Set X, but how well it can be defended.

    --If you are part of the Orthodox church you will inevitably, over time, better be able to discern the Orthodox teaching on a particular subject. Yes, fallibly but increasingly accurately as you further expose yourself to Orthodox teachings.
    >>Why can't I say the same thing about studying the Scriptures? You will come back and say "well your Sola Scriptura-based discernment could lead you to heresy and more schism!" which is true (may the Lord have mercy), but I see no reason to believe that the same method studying EO Tradition would do any better. And EO Trad has the added disincentive of being manifestly unbiblical in many ways, right off the top.

    --Now you say you instead submit yourself to (your interpretation of) the scriptures.
    >>And Orthodox, now you say you instead submit yourself to (your interpretation of) the EO Trad.
    What's the difference?
    For one thing, the Scr is God-breathed, and I have no evidence that the EO Trad is theopneustos.

    --But who infallibly told you what the scriptures are?
    >>Who infallibly told you what Tradition is? The "extent" of Tradition is much vaguer in EO theology than the Canon of Scr is, historically or theologically. Your position is far worse in terms of this question than mine.
    And I remind you that again YOU are bringing up this question of infallibility.

    --you defer to the Orthodox NT canon, but you cannot say why you do
    >>It's the "Orthodox NT canon"? AWAO. And I *CAN* say why I believe the NT canon.

    --the canon of scripture is merely your own interpretation, right?
    >>No.

    --So is the true church now only to be found in the WCF churches?
    >>No, and I don't hold to every part of the WCF. I'm closer to the London Baptist Confession of Faith.

    --It doesn't prove at all that the church fathers didn't also have a high view of the authority of Tradition.
    >>That means you haven't read it. If you really care about the Sola Scriptura view, you'd read those. At the very least you'd read the links that Jason Engwer has already posted, which you clearly haven't.
    The volumes prove the position of Tradition as Interpretation of Scripture. Over and over again we see ECFs subordinating "tradition" and "teaching" to Scripture.

    --I don't know what you're referring to, the E P can't split with the Greek Orthodox because he is Greek Orthodox.
    >>I refer to this: http://www.turks.us/article~story~2004050305570339.htm
    And it looks like he CAN. Can you tell me why I should believe YOU rather than what the Ecum. Patriarch seems to believe?

    --But apparently you now are looking for opportunities to hit below the belt.
    >>How is responding to an assertion about this wonderful unity you claim for the EO Church by citing a manifest example of DISunity hitting below the belt?

    --I suppose your denomination is pure and spotless with regards to church politics?
    >>I don't recall basing part of a claim that my denom is right on a wonderful EXTERNAL unity (which is what you do).

    --What you are doing is living in a glass house and throwing stones.
    >>My goal is to point out that what you have to offer to replace my Sola Scriptura position sounds good at 1st but holds way less water upon further examination.

    --because they contradicted the position of half the church
    >>But on what basis do you believe the other half of the church?

    --church immediately went back to openly expressing the Tradition that was always there.
    >>On what basis do you believe that it wasn't the iconoclasts who were custodians of the true Holy Tradition?

    --Is there some kind of a scriptural argument here that there shouldn't be tongues in church?
    >>Exegesis, my friend, exegesis.
    1 Cor 14:2For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for NO ONE UNDERSTANDS him,
    (How could the tongues-speaker edify the church if no one understands him?)

    4The one who speaks in a tongue BUILDS UP HIMSELF
    ...so that THE CHURCH MAY BE BUILT UP
    1 Cor 14:12 - strive to excel in BUILDING UP THE CHURCH.
    (If one exercises "the spiritual gift of tongues" and builds up HIMSELF, how ridiculous! In what way could ANY OTHER sp. gift be used for one's own personal benefit? Giving to yourself? Hospitality to yourself? Teaching yourself? Why would one conclude that speaking in tongues FOR ONESELF is not condemned as selfish and a wrong use of the sp gift?)

    15What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also
    (That's Paul's answer to the question.)

    That's exegesis, my friend.

    --But at least we have a scripture to support holding to the Traditions, whereas you have no scriptural support for sola scriptura.
    >>AWOA.

    Good talking to you.

    Peace,
    ALAN

    ReplyDelete
  43. BTW, one more thing.
    You've asked us several times about our knowledge of the Canon.
    "Canon" could be defined as: list of one's authoritative/infallible teachings

    Prots have a fallible list of infallible teachings (the Scriptural books).
    EO infallible teachings are... what? Since you are insisting on the necessity for some non-fallible Canon, what is YOUR **infallible** list of Sacred Tradition?

    ReplyDelete
  44. GENEMBRIDGES: it is incumbent upon you to prove them by exegesis.
    --Why is it incumbent to prove it by exegesis?

    Because you have yourself said that we should go back to Scripture to prove these things and have made assertions about James on justification for example that you need to prove. Further, you continually appeal to the Church Fathers, but that *also* requires *they* be exegeted. Just like a Roman Catholic you appeal to tradition to prove tradition and you call the exegesis of Scripture "private interpretation" while exegeting the Church Fathers by a different standard standard.

    You have yet to give us any reason why *your* exegesis of the pertinent texts of Scripture is determinative or why the Eastern Orthodox tradition on these texts is determinative.

    --And I'll bet you appeal to scripture to verify scripture.

    Scripture is infallible. Tradition is not. There is a long literature on this emanating from the Reformed tradition. Where is the supporting argument that your concept of Holy Tradition is the correct concept for us to follow? All you've done is assert it without proving it. Where is the approved list with infallible determining authority that is normative for us to follow?

    --The difference is that the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles.
    Really? And where does *Scripture* say this? From my perspective the Orthodox church is rife with merit mongering, false doctrine, Neo-Platonism, and is a dead church long ago apostatized from the faith once delivered to the saints. She lies on the heap of apostasy from the covenant along with Rome and the Jews, and should you remain there in all likelihood you will suffer their fate. You desperately need to repent and turn to Christ alone in faith alone by grace alone and leave your merit mongering behind.


    --the one that you defer to when you want to know the NT canon.
    You have yourself stated that the Orthodox church has made no definitive statement on the canon, so how can *I* or any Protestant appeal to it? On the contrary, there is a long literature on canoncity emanating from the Lutheran as well as the Reformed tradition. You should familarize yourself with it. I might suggest you start with Disputations on Holy Scripture by William Cunningham and The Divine Rule of Faith and Practice by Goode.

    ReplyDelete
  45. ORTHODOX SAID:

    “If you weren't literate, you had the bible read to you, rather than reading it.”

    Really? What were the rates of literacy among the lower clergy in, say, the year 900?

    Also, were the scriptures publicly read in a vernacular version which was intelligible to the laity?

    Finally, there’s obviously a big difference between hearing a chapter of the Bible read aloud once a year, and having a private copy of the Bible which you can actually study for yourself.

    “The point is, whether reading or listening, they were hearing the same thing you heard and didn't come to your conclusions.”

    How do you know that? Do you have polling data from the year 9oo for what the laity believed?

    Moreover, if people believe anything, they believe whatever they’re exposed to. If they’re only exposed to one point of view, that’s what they believe.

    “So everybody was secretly thinking that the ‘church authorities’ were teaching nonsense, but they went along with it because they had to? Puhlease, don't insult our intelligence.”

    To begin with, the claim that I’m insulting your intelligence makes rather generous assumptions about your level of intelligence. I would like to see more tangible evidence in support or your flattering self-assessment.

    The point of persecution is to deter dissent. Why do you think the Orthodox authorities tried to suppress dissent if not to deter dissent?

    Oh, and yes, when heresy or schism is criminalized, then, by definition, people go along with the party line because they have to. It’s meant to have a chilling effect. It’s meant to keep everyone in lock-step.

    BTW, did I say “everyone”? No. That’s hyperbole on your part to duck the issue.

    If you feel that your intelligence has been insulted, it would help if you put a little more intelligence on display in your replies.

    “Many Orthodox teachings have come from grass root support in opposition to the established leaders.”

    How do you think that admission is the least bit helpful to your case? The faithful laity has to rescue the true church from the faithless hierarchy.

    You must be a closet Protestant. Thanks for admitting that, when push comes to shove, you subscribe to a low-church, Protestant ecclesiology.

    “Again with the Western obsession in having everything neatly written down.”

    Oh, so writing is a Western obsession. Tell that to the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and Chinese.

    And were the contents of the 7 ecumenical councils handed down by word of mouth.

    Or did someone feel the obsessive Western need to commit the contents of the 7 ecumenical councils to writing. What about the Greek Fathers? Did they rely on oral tradition to preserve their teaching? Or did they actually…you know…write?

    Of course, once again you resort to hyperbole (“everything”) as your escape clause.

    “Orthodoxy doesn't need to write something down to know that it is the Tradition.”

    I didn’t ask you if it was written down. What I asked is if an ecumenical council had ever enumerated the canon of Scripture.

    So you don’t have an infallible list of the canonical books you can point us to.

    Pity you didn’t think of that before you went on the attack.

    “I'm sure you know what the traditional canon is of the WCF churches, even if it wasn't enumerated therein.”

    The canon of Scripture isn’t enumerated in the WCF? Try again.

    You’re broadcasting your abysmal ignorance of confessional Calvinism. No wonder you don’t post under your real name. It spares you a lot of public humiliation.

    “Another person living in a glass house and throwing stones. How do you know the canon of scripture? I hope your answer is "verifyable" according to your definition thereof.”

    Notice that he simply punts the question. So he can’t verify oral apostolic tradition.

    I have discussed the ways in which I verify the canon on several different occasions. Mostly recently in today’s post in reply to Blosser.

    “They interact with it, increasingly with a view to refuting it.”

    Name the evangelical commentators who increasingly do that.

    “Apparently the church has been wrong since about 300 AD.”

    More hyperbole. When hyperbole is your standard fallback position, this is a tacit admission that you have no decent arguments to offer.

    “Radical baptists would say is starkly that the church became heretical.”

    “Radical Baptists”? That’s a label, not an argument.

    BTW, how, exactly, do you differ from them thar radical Baptists?

    Who are you, anyway? Are you an official spokesman for the Orthodox Church? Are you, say, Bishop Timothy Ware?

    Who gave you the right to publicly represent and speak on behalf of the Orthodox church?

    Or are you just a layman and one-time Protestant convert to Orthodoxy who spouts a lot of high-church rhetoric which you remain a functional Protestant in the way you presume to do the talking when what you say has not been authorized by your ecclesiastical superiors?

    It’s a hard habit to break, is it not? Learning to keep your big mouth shut and letting the bishops do the talking for you?

    Your duty is to listen and obey, not to speak. Keep your lips zipped and nod on cue.

    “Yeah they could. If they were scholarly minded, had about 5 years of their life to give up to devote to it etc.”

    Oh, how terrible. Imagine having to study the Word of God for 5 years.

    “And after investing all that time, they could STILL find themselves uncertain of whose point of view is the most correct, and therefore which church they ought to join.”

    And how else will people find the *true* church apart from study? Picking a name out of the phone book?

    “This doesn't sound to me like the ecclesiology that Paul was trying to set up.”

    That’s the price you pay for self-reinforcing ignorance. In my reply to Blosser (posted today), I actually spend a fair amount of time on Pauline ecclesiology. Nothing like Orthodoxy.

    “Give the churches some ambiguous writings, let the church schism into a thousand pieces, and hope that a few people figure out somehow which churches are teaching the truth. “

    Like second temple Judaism, for instance?

    “What if they ARE talking about two different things? What if they are talking apples and oranges? Does that mean that James' statements about oranges are irrelevant? If James said that we are justified by works, then that is a true statement, is it not? Yes there is context to consider, but then again, I have just been lectured here by a protestant, devoid of any context that "justification by works is unbiblical". That is false is it not? The bible says we are justified by works. We can talk about what that means, but at the end of the day the bible says it, and thus it is true.”

    You’re confusing words with concepts.

    Who said James’ statement is irrelevant? Why do you think I pointed you to such standard resources as Moo’s commentary or Stein’s article? Because they think it’s irrelevant?

    No. They think it’s very relevant to *understand* what James actually meant so that we can then apply it to our lives.

    BTW, when you bring up James, you yourself have done nothing to harmonize James with Paul.

    We Evangelicals aren’t the one’s who created this apparent tension, you know. It isn’t a Protestant invention.

    There is a *formal* (but not material) contradiction between Paul and James. So *every* theological tradition which honors the authority of Scripture is in the same boat. *Every* theological tradition (except the liberals) must explain both Paul and James according to their respective usage and context.

    ReplyDelete
  46. >If every Christian considered
    >himself part of the same
    >denomination as every other
    >Christian, then why do we see
    >Hippolytus opposing other
    >professing Christians in Rome as
    >being part of a false church (The
    >Refutation Of All Heresies, 9:7),
    >Firmilian opposing Stephen as "a
    >false Christ" who had cut himself
    >off from the unity of the church
    >(Cyprian's Letter 74), Jerome
    >dismissing Tertullian as somebody
    >who "did not belong to the church"
    >(The Perpetual Virginity Of
    >Blessed Mary, 19), etc.?

    So by pointing to certain schimatics, you seek to justify protestant disunity? It seems to me these quotes prove my point. Cyprian and Jerome here presuppose a unity of the church that you can leave.


    >"The original church believed it
    >necessary to have only one church
    >in an area, because that is the
    >biblical model."
    >
    >One church in what sense?

    In the neighbouring suburb to me there are two protestant churches literally side by side. In my suburb, which is a very small suburb, there are 7 different denominations of church. A number of these churches have serious financial problems because the suburb just can't support that many churches. You cite Romans 16 to supposedly prove it is ok to have multiple churches, but if you think the protestant reality is what Paul had in mind, I think you are seriously mistaken.

    >In later generations, we find
    >references to multiple churches in
    >a city, sometimes with references
    >to those churches disagreeing with
    >each other.

    I didn't say one church per city, I said per area. A city can be a large place, impractical to have just one church.

    >Today, a city can have an Eastern
    >Orthodox church in it, a Roman
    >Catholic church, an Anglican
    >church, a Methodist church, etc.
    >If that fact proves that
    >Protestants aren't as concerned
    >with unity as they ought to be,
    >then why doesn't it prove the same
    >about Eastern Orthodox?

    You just finished lecturing me that "Protestants can also "consider themselves part of the one church". Fine, then why so many churches? Why so many schisms then? Why not actually be one church?

    The reason EO aren't combining with protestant churches, is we DON'T consider them in the one holy apostolic church. But that's not your claim for protestantism.

    >"Yes. The Gnostics. The Marcions.
    >Various other heretical groups
    >that never gained a wide
    >following, that you yourself would
    >condemn."
    >
    >First of all, if you can exclude
    >some groups, so that you need have
    >unity only with a portion of
    >professing Christians, then why
    >can't I do the same?

    You surely can and do the same. But the point is that other than schismatic groups that you condemn, the early Church considered itself one Church in a way that protestants today don't.

    >After the Second Council of
    >Constantinople, the churches of
    >Milan and Aquileia broke communion
    >with the church of Rome. Etc.

    That they broke communion shows very clearly how significant and important the concept of communion was to the early church! Thank you for proving my point!

    Yes, it has been a rocky road of 2000 years with unfortunate incidents, temporary disagreements etc. But the point is that they understood the concept of communion, and they took it very seriously.

    >Which Protestants have said that
    >"going back to square one" in the
    >sense you've described is
    >necessary to become a Christian,
    >get baptized, etc.? I haven't said
    >it.

    It's implied by your belief system. Sure, you could go to a church, believe what the pastor tells you without question, and become a Christian. But you don't advocate taking Pastor's advice at face value without checking with the bible. And protestants here are talking about buying commentaries from different perspectives and the whole 9 yards.

    >How do you know that Eastern
    >Orthodox doctrine represents what
    >"the whole church" has believed?
    >You keep making assertions that
    >you never justify. Something like
    >an ecumenical council could err
    >without a passage like Matthew 16
    >having thereby failed. If an Arian
    >council denies the deity of
    >Christ, and that council is widely
    >accepted, that wide acceptance
    >doesn't prove that every
    >professing Christian alive agreed
    >with the council, nor does it
    >prove that the gates of Hades
    >prevailed. You're making a series
    >of unjustified assumptions.

    Why so much feigned confusion? Was there any Arian church in... oh say 1000 AD? No there wasn't, so we don't need to go around pretending that we don't know what the catholic faith was, and that Arian councils were rejected by the church.

    >And the earliest Christians didn't
    >practice praying to the deceased,
    >for example. Why should we accept
    >something like prayers to the
    >deceased just because it later
    >became popular?

    You're making assertions without proof. St. Cyprian of Carthage writing to Pope Cornelius of Rome said that the Saints should keep praying for one another even after some depart to be in the presence of God. And that is all that the Orthodox want to do is ask the Saints to keep praying for us.

    The great explosion in Christian writings starts around the year 350, the number of writings prior to that time is fairly sparse. But in the writings from this time, all the world of Christianity is in agreement. If someone had started off a novelty around that time, we would expect to see it slowly, and with controversy spread. But no, we have St. Hilary of Poitiers,
    St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Athanasius, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine all assuming that prayer to the saints is a given.

    People don't change their religious practices in such a major way without a big upheaval. Have you noticed... oh say any baptist denominations en-masse making such a major change like that? Even if you were pagan and had no belief in the church led by the Spirit you ought to conceed that the practice of praying to saints was both universal and extremely early. No other conclusion fits the facts.

    >How do you know that it wasn't a
    >majority? People who were alive at
    >the time referred to it as though
    >it was

    >Because when they met in council,
    >it didn't get up. But whether it
    >was a majority or not is
    >irrelevant.
    >How, then, can you claim that the
    >councils had "general" acceptance?
    >Are you going to claim that
    >"general" acceptance is whatever
    >number of people you need in order
    >to arrive at your desired
    >conclusions?

    Sorry, I didn't hear you tell us how you know what the NT canon is, given that come groups reject some of the books you hold canonical.

    Are you going to tell us [gasp] that "general" acceptance of the canon is whatever number of people you need in order to arrive at your desired conclusions?

    These issues aren't always easy, but this line of argumentation just blew up in your face.

    In answer to your question, I would point to the answer that everyone gave to St Vincent of Lerins which I quoted above. If you don't like that answer, then you have no canon, and thus your religion just collapsed around your ears.

    >Concerning whether I've "got
    >apostles", I do. I have the
    >scriptures.

    The apostles had the scriptures too, AND their own authority. But apparently they still had to meet in council to figure it out.

    >Rather, I accept the actions of
    >Acts 15 on the basis of apostolic
    >authority. I'm not obligated to
    >submit to elders who contradict
    >apostolic teaching, such as the
    >elders of Eastern Orthodoxy.

    You haven't shown elders of EO contradicting apostolic teaching. You say you accept Acts 15 council because of apostolic authority, but you ignore that the text says apostles AND elders were consulted by Paul to find the answer. So you're going to have to come up with some kind of model where the the church has real genuine authority to make doctrinal decisions apart from apostles if you want to remain biblical.

    Of course, maybe the bible is just too vague at this point to decide that point, in which case your sola scripture is hosed again.

    >Other passages tell me about the
    >primacy of the apostles, and
    >nothing in Acts 15 runs contrary
    >to what those other passages
    >teach.

    The very word "primacy" assumes that something is "secondary". But you don't have any secondary source of authority.

    As for passages that speak of the apostles, show me the verse that says apostles have authority to the exclusion of all else. If you can't, you're just arguing from a silence in these other passages.

    The text very clearly says:
    "For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us (i.e. the apostles and elders) to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:"

    Nowhere is there any hint in the text that this decision is purely from the apostles. It is a concilliar decision which the elders had authority to pronounce.

    Acts 16:4 "Now while they were passing through the cities, they were delivering the decrees which had been decided upon by the apostles AND ELDERS who were in Jerusalem, for them to observe."

    Nowhere any hint that this is purely the apostles who have this authority.

    So where are we? Back to your interpretation and my interpretation? If my interpretation has any credence at all, then sola scriptura is hosed, because it relies on every individual Christian coming to your conclusion, which obviously they don't. Thus sola scripture doesn't work.

    >And your interpretations of Acts
    >15, the church fathers, etc. are
    >your "personal interpretations".
    >There are many Anglicans, Roman
    >Catholics, Methodists, etc. who
    >disagree with your view of church
    >authority. You've chosen to follow
    >an Eastern Orthodox reading of the
    >evidence rather than one of the
    >alternatives. That's your
    >"personal interpretation". The
    >fact that other Eastern Orthodox
    >agree with that interpretation
    >doesn't change the fact that
    >you're accepting it based on your
    >own judgment. Similarly, Roman
    >Catholics, Baptists, and others
    >accept interpretations that some
    >other people agree with on the
    >basis of their own judgment.

    You're continually trying to make this into a reductio ad absurdum.

    Yes, doing anything in life takes some interpretation. But Orthodox do so in the context of the historical church and the council and wisdom of many who knew more than us, humbly submitting to the wisdom of God when "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit" to clarify something for the church.

    From your point of view, the Nicean creed is a waste of time, because it requires interpretation to understand it, and since you have to interpret anyway, you might as well just go to the bible and forget the creed. Of course that is absurd, and it wasn't the position the protestant reformers would have taken either.

    As for Roman Catholics, I suggest that after reading the early Fathers you think that they are closer to and clearly supporting Roman Catholic claims, then my advice to you is to become Roman Catholic. Yes, this requires you to interpret facts. But my position here is showing you that the facts you already accept (scripture) at least plausibly support a position other than sola scriptura. And if it is even plausible, sola scriptura must fail, because it relies on every Christian reading scripture and coming to your conclusions.


    >I say it by the authority of the
    >historical evidence for the
    >apostolicity of the books in
    >question. See the discussions of
    >the evidence in Thomas Schreiner's
    >commentary on 1-2 Peter and Jude,
    >Grant Osborne's commentary on
    >Revelation, etc.

    Wow.

    All I can say is Wow.

    So the basis of your entire authority is a dispassionate interpretation of the history. So this approach leaves the door wide open to scholars who've noted stylistic differences between letters of Paul and Peter and John mean that some of them are forgeries. So this allows every Christian to do what is right in his own eyes in evaluating this evidence and throwing out whichever books they find unconvincing.

    The fact is, any evidence that survived concerning the authenticity of books came to us through the same church and oral tradition that teaches that various doctrines you reject are apostolic. So if you don't trust our passing on these teachings, then you can hardly trust our passing onto you facts concerning the authorship of books.

    >Telling me to look to "the Church"
    >is just another vague response
    >that doesn't accomplish much. How
    >do I attain "Tradition" from "the
    >Church"? How do I know which
    >unwritten concepts are "Tradition"
    >and which aren't?

    That's somewhat beyond the scope of this thread which has already gone on too far. Pick up a good book about Orthodoxy.

    >I guess if you'd joined the church
    >in, oh say 50AD, maybe in Corinth
    >where Paul had passed through some
    >years before, you'd be challenging
    >the elders to demonstrate that
    >their understanding of Paul and
    >the gospel was correct. All they c
    >ould tell you is what the church >teaches, and you'd tell them no
    >cigar, and go back to worshipping
    >zeus or something."
    >

    >You're assuming that Eastern
    >Orthodoxy is comparable to Paul,
    >then you're using that assumption
    >as a justification for not
    >offering evidence that Eastern
    >Orthodoxy is comparable to Paul.

    Yes, and if you'd turned up in Corinth in 50AD, some years after Paul had passed through, you could have challenged the elders there that their teachings may be corrupted, and can't be trusted like those of Paul.

    Marvelous. Trouble is, the church would have died in the 1st century if it thought like you.

    >"Promises regarding the receiving
    >of the Spirit 'when he comes' were
    >applicable to believers in
    >general."
    >
    >You aren't interacting with what
    >I've said. I gave you examples of
    >elements of John 16 that can't be
    >applied to every believer.

    And you already admitted that many areas of this discourse ARE applicable to believers in general, and I gave reasons why I think this promise is applicable to believers in general. You disagree? I guess sola scripture fails again.

    >So, should somebody who grew up in
    >a Montanist, Donatist, Roman
    >Catholic, or Coptic church have
    >accepted whatever that church
    >taught? Should they have rejected
    >what allegedly was being taught by
    >Eastern Orthodoxy at the time?

    Ideally, they would have rejected the uncatholic teachings of those churches, but in reality most wouldn't have been aware of the issues. Still, even with those problems these other churches retained 95% of the faith, albeit tending to reduce over time due to the Catholic propensity for innovation. At the beginning of the reformation, some of the reformed churches had probably not departed more or much more than Rome had from historic Christianity. But due to the heresy of heresies - sola scriptura, even the more traditional protestant churches are now much further away from the historic church than Rome is today.

    >"What, if some novel contagion
    >seek to infect not merely an
    >insignificant portion of the
    >Church, but the whole? Then it
    >will be his care to cleave to
    >antiquity, which at this day
    >cannot possibly be seduced by any
    >fraud of novelty."
    >
    >That's why I accept the ancient
    >faith of the apostles rather than
    >the later corruptions of Eastern
    >Orthodoxy, though Eastern
    >Orthodoxy only corrupted a part,
    >not "the whole".

    So you accept St Vincent's teaching, except that he was clearly Orthodox, reading the same bible as you, and not running off to be protestant. Do you see the problem? You havn't proved even a single thing that Orthodoxy has changed.


    >"Then he must collate and consult
    >and interrogate the opinions of
    >the ancients, of those, namely,
    >who, though living in divers times
    >and places, yet continuing in the
    >communion and faith of the one
    >Catholic Church, stand forth
    >acknowledged and approved
    >authorities: and whatsoever he
    >shall ascertain to have been held,
    >written, taught, not by one or two
    >of these only, but by all,
    >equally, with one consent, openly,
    >frequently, persistently, that he
    >must understand that he himself
    >also is to believe without any
    >doubt or hesitation."
    >
    >Why do you expect people to go
    >through such a procedure, yet you
    >criticize Protestants for
    >expecting people to do too much?

    Sola scriptura leads to dozens of points of view on every conceivable topic. You could spend a lifetime sorting through it all and come to the conclusion that you can't find a church teaching what is right.

    St Vincent immediately narrows the field to a few possibilities. Which church has maintained the faith? You'll have to examine maybe two or three issues to make a decision between Roman Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy.

    >You go on to quote Irenaeus, but
    >you don't cite the passages in
    >which he discusses corrupt church
    >leaders and the need to separate
    >from them (Against Heresies,
    >4:26:2-5).

    Orthodoxy wholeheartly agrees that you should separate from corrupt leaders. Some Orthodox saints are remembered for condemning corrupt Patriarchs of Constantinople.

    >How does a person know that
    >Eastern Orthodoxy is the true
    >church? Does he come to that
    >conclusion without having to do
    >any thinking or studying through
    >disputed issues?

    Will you at least admit that this is how it worked for 400 years?

    >Protestants appeal to history,
    >grammatical arguments from the
    >text of scripture, and such in
    >order to make an objective case
    >for their belief system, but it
    >doesn't therefore follow that they
    >deny that people can be led by God
    >in any other manner.

    You believe that individuals can be led by God, but not the whole church. Thus every individual can think he is led, even though going the opposite direction to the church as a whole. Thus leading to all sorts of heresies. If you understand that individuals can be led, I don't know why you are so reluctant to see the church as a whole led.

    >How do you get the "overall
    >understanding"? By weeding out
    >whatever disagrees with Eastern
    >Orthodoxy?

    No, by reading as many Fathers of the church as possible, not focusing too much on any one.

    >I don't claim that sola scriptura
    >was practiced during times of
    >public revelation.

    Really? So where is the scriptural command to cease and desist not following sola scriptura in year XXX, and to start following sola scriptura? If that's not in scripure, then sola scriptura fails.

    What year would you nominate for this trasformation?

    It can't be before scripture starts getting written obviously. And it can't be until scripture is finished being written because we could get a new piece of authoritative information from the apostles. Since you think it is all about historical evidence an apostle wrote something, it can't be before some church could come up with a writing that may possibly be proven to be apostolic. And it can't be before the canon is settled, because you can't have scripture as the rule of faith when there are disagreements on what is contained in this rule of faith. So what date do you suggest introducing sola scriptura? Maybe 400AD or thereabouts after Athanasius writes his 39th festal letter?

    >Your argument makes about as much
    >sense as my asking whether Adam
    >and Eve followed the Eastern
    >Orthodox rule of faith in the
    >Garden of Eden.

    Yes that would be silly wouldn't it. So I hope you're not going to tell us something equally silly, like that they should have followed sola scriptura without a settled canon.

    >I cited John McGuckin referring to
    >the popular view of images among
    >the earliest church fathers. If
    >that popular view contradicted the
    >view that later became popular,
    >then how can you claim that your
    >view of images was "always there"
    >as an apostolic tradition held and
    >taught by the church?

    You've been refuted that an adversion to images was the only view, or probably even the majority view.

    >And Revelation was widely accepted
    >by the earliest patristic sources.
    >It became more controversial
    >later. Again, see the discussions
    >of the relevant historical
    >evidence in the commentaries
    >produced by Evangelical
    >scholarship. I cited some examples
    >earlier.

    And I could quote you all those who didn't accept it. According to the arguments you are using against Orthodoxy - the existence of dissent - you would have no canon. Be consistent!

    >I addressed such issues in the
    >articles I linked to earlier.
    >Apparently, you didn't read them.
    >The issue is the veneration of
    >images, not just the use of
    >images, though some sources
    >opposed even their use. The early
    >Christians who responded to the
    >pagan critics in question didn't
    >deny that Christians avoided the
    >veneration of images. Rather, they
    >defended that Christian avoidance.
    >Again, see the material I linked
    >to earlier.

    I traced through your earlier links and I can't see any evidence there about veneration.

    I don't know why this is such a big deal. Do you think that Orthodox worship wooden gods? The reason there is veneration is that the culture was very demonstrative. Where are you going to draw the line? Would you condemn kissing a photo of your wife?

    ReplyDelete
  47. -Why is it incumbent to prove it by exegesis?
    >>B/c you are making a claim about
    >>the text of Scripture. What is the
    >>other option? Meditating and >>sharing our subjective thoughts
    >>about what it means to us? I
    >>wouldn't've taken you for an
    >>Emergent Church type.

    Even protestants acknowledge that the scripture can't be interpreted alone. Thus they pull out lexicons to find the meanings of words. And those lexicons in turn are based on examining other Greek documents. Similarly, they pull out bible dictionaries to understand the cultural setting, which explains a great deal about the things going on the New Testament which otherwise might be obscure.

    Now the New Testament also has a cultural setting. It wasn't written in a vacuum, it was written in an existing church which already had a shared understanding about many things. Thus the NT doesn't say explicitely many things that were widely taken for granted.

    Thus the alternative to exegesis in the protestant sense, which pretends that everything we need to know to understand the text, is in fact in the text (which is not consistently practiced anyway, since protestants frequently find it necessary to consult the bible dictionary), is to read the text in conjunction with the early church fathers, who give us the insight on the setting within which scripture was written, and thus gives us insight on the assumptions and shared understandings that underlie the New Testament text.

    >And in answer, how could you make
    >"justification is by works" (where
    >"justification" = the way a dirty
    >condemned enemy of God can stand
    >forgiven before a holy God) fit w/
    >Paul in Romans 3-5?

    Whoa, how did we assume that the topic at hand was "justification by works" where "justification" = the way a dirty condemned enemy of God can stand forgiven before a holy God"?? How do you know the topic wasn't "justification by works" where "justification" = "whatever you think it is in James"?? You see, you ARE automatically assuming Paul, so there is no AWOA.

    At this point, it would probably be more appropriate to adjourn to something like the yahoo group Orthodox-Reformed_Dialogue, but have you considered that maybe the Orthodox understanding isn't that different to your own? Because you are so hung up on condemning the biblical statement of "justification by works", you might be missing that other Christian groups don't understand that the way you do, as neither did James apparently.

    Let me give you a quote from the old Orthodox prayer book:

    "My most merciful and all-merciful God and Lord Jesus Christ, Who of thy great love didst come down and take flesh to save all: Again, O Savior, save me by thy grace, I pray Thee. For if Thou shouldst save me for my works, this would not be a grace, but rather an obligation, not a grace or a gift. Yea, my Christ who art abundant in generosity and ineffable in mercy, Thou hast said: He that believeth in Me shall live and shall never see death. If, then, faith in Thee saveth the desperate, lo, I believe; save me, for Thou art my God and my Creator. Let my faith be reckonded in place of works, and seek not deeds which would justify me. But may my faith alone suffice instead of my deeds; may it answer for me, may it justify me, may it make me a partaker of Thine eternal glory"

    Wow, are you shocked? Could it be that you are so hung up on definitions that you can't see the forest for the trees?

    --And I'll bet you appeal to scripture to verify scripture.
    >>How dastardly to appeal to God's
    >>Word!

    Not at all, but it is equally as circular as appealing to tradition.

    --The difference is that the Orthodox church was the one founded by the apostles.
    >>AWOA.

    Really. Who do YOU think founded it?

    --the one that you defer to when you want to know the NT canon.
    >>AWOA. And I don't appeal to the EOC for the NT Canon - the EO >doesn't have a hard-and-fast
    >concept of the Canon of Scripture
    >anyway, so I don't know how you
    >could say that.

    So who DO you appeal to for the canon then?

    --If you are part of the Orthodox
    church you will inevitably, over
    time, better be able to discern the
    >Orthodox teaching on a particular
    >subject. Yes, fallibly but
    >increasingly accurately as you
    >further expose yourself to
    >Orthodox teachings.
    >>Why can't I say the same thing
    >about studying the Scriptures? You
    >will come back and say "well your
    >Sola Scriptura-based discernment
    >could lead you to heresy and more
    >schism!" which is true (may the
    >Lord have mercy), but I see no
    >reason to believe that the same
    >method studying EO Tradition would
    >do any better.

    Well you can say that about the scriptures, but having taken them out of their cultural context, it is less likely to happen.

    >And EO Trad has the added
    >disincentive of being manifestly
    >unbiblical in many ways, right off
    >the top.

    My turn to say "AWOA".

    >--Now you say you instead submit
    >yourself to (your interpretation
    >of) the scriptures.
    >>And Orthodox, now you say you
    >instead submit yourself to (your
    >interpretation of) the EO Trad.
    >What's the difference?
    >For one thing, the Scr is
    >God-breathed, and I have no
    >evidence that the EO Trad is
    >theopneustos.

    Either way, Paul says to hold to the things which are passed down, whether written or by word of mouth. So whether it is theopneustos or not, that which is theopheustos has told you to hold to them.

    --But who infallibly told you what the scriptures are?
    >>Who infallibly told you what
    >>Tradition is? The "extent" of
    >>Tradition is much vaguer in EO
    >>theology than the Canon of Scr
    >is, historically or theologically.

    An EO understanding of tradition would leave you in no doubt about the doctrine about icons, the trinity, prayer to saints or the reality of the body and blood of Christ. The supposedly "less vague" canon of scripture is leaving us with complex back and forward arguments about how to understand the scriptures. So apparently the supposed vagueness is working quite well.

    --you defer to the Orthodox NT canon, but you cannot say why you do
    >>It's the "Orthodox NT canon"? >AWAO. And I *CAN* say why I
    >believe the NT canon.

    Really. Prove to me that 3 John is God breathed. This should good to see.

    --the canon of scripture is merely your own interpretation, right?
    >>No.

    Then where did you get it? There a lot of obfuscation going on in this thread from protestants about the canon.

    --So is the true church now only to be found in the WCF churches?
    >>No, and I don't hold to every
    >part of the WCF. I'm closer to the
    >London Baptist Confession of
    >Faith.

    Uh huh. So you have a major schism there because you can't agree about baptism because scripture is silent on that issue.

    Or don't you consider it a schism? You would be happy to go to a WCF church which teaches your kids that they are wrong not to have been baptised?

    >The volumes prove the position of
    >Tradition as Interpretation of
    >Scripture. Over and over again we
    >see ECFs subordinating "tradition"
    >and "teaching" to Scripture.

    They prove that Tradition interprets scripture?? Sounds great.

    Which tradition are we talking about now? Are we talking about some local traditions, or the catholic Tradition?

    And what does subordinating mean? If I said, say... that vice-president is subordinate to the president, does that mean that the vice-president has no authority? Of course not.

    So if you admit (as you seem to be doing) that Tradition was an authority in the early church, then the only way you can prove the Tradition wrong it to prove, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that the Tradition contradicts scripture.

    Of course, we can see factually that you can't do that, because Christians for more than a thousand years were reading scripture and not finding these alleged contradictions with the Tradition.

    Furthermore, will you admit that these early church fathers were not stupid people? And yet I can provide you with the quotes from almost all of them discussing prayer to saints and icons. So how can it be that these smart intelligent people, who supposedly according to Webster were believing sola scriptura, were also preaching prayer to saints? Either the creme of Christendom were severely schizophrenic, or else Webster it trying to twist their beliefs. I think the answer to which of those is true would be obvious.

    --I don't know what you're >referring to, the E P can't split
    >with the Greek Orthodox because he
    >is Greek Orthodox.
    >>I refer to this:
    >http://www.turks.us/article~story~2004050305570339.htm
    >And it looks like he CAN. Can you
    >tell me why I should believe YOU
    >rather than what the Ecum.
    >Patriarch seems to believe?

    You seem to be confusing the Church of Greece with "Greek Orthodox", which are not the same thing. Anyway, administrative disputes like this happen throughout history, in and out of Orthodoxy. This one doesn't represent a split in formal communion, only an administrative split, which is of no great import in the big picture. What exactly is your point?

    --But apparently you now are looking for opportunities to hit below the belt.
    >>How is responding to an assertion
    >about this wonderful unity you
    >claim for the EO Church by citing
    >a manifest example of DISunity
    >hitting below the belt?

    I'm talking about unity of the faith, not administrative spats.

    >>I don't recall basing part of a
    >claim that my denom is right on a
    >wonderful EXTERNAL unity (which is
    >what you do).

    External unity? What is that?

    --because they contradicted the >position of half the church
    >>But on what basis do you believe
    >the other half of the church?

    You would have had to delve into the scriptures and the writings of the fathers to figure out by yourself what the catholic faith was. I would argue that Arianism was a new development at that time, rather than the previously existing catholic faith. Would you agree?

    --church immediately went back to openly expressing the Tradition that was always there.

    >>On what basis do you believe that >it wasn't the iconoclasts who were
    >custodians of the true Holy
    >Tradition?
    How do you know that the Iconoclasts were not the ones who preserved the more ancient Christian view of Icons?"
    See this link: "

    http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/general/icon_faq.aspx

    --Is there some kind of a
    >scriptural argument here that
    >there shouldn't be tongues in
    >church?
    >>Exegesis, my friend, exegesis.

    >15What am I to do? I will pray
    >with my spirit, but I will pray >with my mind also
    >(That's Paul's answer to the
    >question.)
    >
    >That's exegesis, my friend.

    I didn't see a scrap of exegesis. Paul said to pray both ways, and not to stop anyone praying in tongues. If this is exegesis it seems very unimpressive.

    --But at least we have a scripture to support holding to the Traditions, whereas you have no scriptural support for sola scriptura.
    >>AWOA.

    2 Th 2:15

    ReplyDelete
  48. >Prots have a fallible list of
    >infallible teachings (the Scriptural
    >books).
    >EO infallible teachings are... what?
    >Since you are insisting on the
    >necessity for some non-fallible
    >Canon, what is YOUR **infallible**
    >list of Sacred Tradition?

    I do not insist on being able to produce an infallible list of infallible statements. What I do insist on is an infallible source of finding out everything God has revealed to his Church. How much of that infallible deposit of faith you will be able to discern will be limited by some surrounding circumstances, but as a protestant, you don't even have a starting point. The only attempt at a starting point I've heard here is that historically, a few church fathers seemed to think, from the oral tradition, that certain books were apostolic. If the same church fathers said that the apostles taught prayer to saints, you would reject it! So we have a double standard here.

    The orthodox church claims that the fullness of the faith is contained within her, passed down in continuous succession from the apostles. Whether you believe it or not, that is a plausible method for preserving the truth.

    What is the protestant counter claim? You claim that the oral tradition is untrustworthy. Fine. So why should I trust your canon, which relies on trusting the oral tradition concerning who wrote the New Testament? The very assumptions of protestantism provides in itself the refutation of its foundation.

    So if you want to know where to find the fullness of the faith, join the Orthodox church.

    ReplyDelete
  49. >Because you have yourself said that
    >we should go back to Scripture to
    >prove these things and have made
    >assertions about James on
    >justification for example that you
    >need to prove.

    All I said about James was that he said we are justified by works. I don't need exegesis for that, because I havn't even interpreted it! All I did was quote it verbatim, and apparently I've become a protestant heretic already!!! There's got to be something wrong when I can merely quote a scripture and be told I'm wrong already.

    >Further, you continually appeal to
    >the Church Fathers, but that
    >*also* requires *they* be
    >exegeted. Just like a Roman
    >Catholic you appeal to tradition
    >to prove tradition and you call
    >the exegesis of Scripture "private
    >interpretation" while exegeting
    >the Church Fathers by a different
    >standard standard.

    Not everything is made clear by scripture. Some things in scripture are debatable, even though they are crystal clear in the Fathers. So according to you, an exegesis of a tricky biblical text is equivilent to an undisputable teaching from the church fathers.

    Here we are again at reductio absurdum.


    >ou have yet to give us any reason >why *your* exegesis of the
    >pertinent texts of Scripture is
    >determinative or why the Eastern
    >Orthodox tradition on these texts
    >is determinative.

    And neither have you.

    But how would it have worked in the early church? Paul would have passed through, passing on the teachings. Later new people would have joined being taught orally, even though there would be no proof it is what Paul actually taught.

    So then you tell me things should have changed to sola scriptura. When? Where is the verse saying to change? How would they know to change? How could they change prior to a settled canon?

    So you've got your interpretation, and I've got mine. But only mine actually would have worked in real life.

    >Scripture is infallible. Tradition
    >is not.

    Even if I agreed with this premise, it provides no justification for being protestant. Firstly, Tradition doesn't contradict scripture, so at best all you have is private opinions on disputed matters. Secondly, Paul says to hold to the tradtions, so infallible or not, you have been commanded to keep them.

    Next you will say, "How do we know the traditions of the 4th century were accurately passed down from the apostles?". To which I would say "How do you know the canon and the authorship of scripture as apostolic was accurately passed down from the apostles?"

    You don't know. You take it on faith that if Paul commanded to hold to the traditions whether written or oral that God had in mind to preserve both.

    >From my perspective the Orthodox
    >church is rife with merit
    >mongering, false doctrine,
    >Neo-Platonism, and is a dead
    >church long ago apostatized from
    >the faith once delivered to the
    >saints. She lies on the heap of
    >apostasy from the covenant along
    >with Rome and the Jews, and should
    >you remain there in all likelihood
    >you will suffer their fate. You
    >desperately need to repent and
    >turn to Christ alone in faith
    >alone by grace alone and leave
    >your merit mongering behind.

    Wow. I can't think of any branch of Christendom less neo-Platonist than Orthodoxy. Merit mongering? Read the prayer I posted above from the Orthodox prayer book and tell me if that is merit mongering. False doctrine? Well if the church has been ignorant of true doctrine for 1500 years, waiting for protestants to enlighten us all, I guess so. A Dead church? I don't know what a dead church is, but unless you have spent some time in Orthodoxy, I hardly think you'd be in a position to judge would you?

    >You have yourself stated that the
    >Orthodox church has made no
    >definitive statement on the canon,
    >so how can *I* or any Protestant
    >appeal to it?

    Again, to be a broken record, Orthodoxy doesn't need to make a formal statement about something for it to be well known and authoritative. Do you seriously think that orthodox churches do not know what their canon is?

    >On the contrary,
    >there is a long literature on
    >canoncity emanating from the
    >Lutheran as well as the Reformed
    >tradition.

    What about it? Are you telling me that the Lutheran or reformed churches are in a position to in any way define or authoritatively recognize what the true canon is? If so, on what basis?

    ReplyDelete
  50. >Really? What were the rates of
    >literacy among the lower clergy in,
    >say, the year 900?

    I assume they were fine since a reading was a standard part of the service.

    >Also, were the scriptures publicly
    >read in a vernacular version which
    >was intelligible to the laity?

    They sure were.

    >Finally, there’s obviously a big
    >difference between hearing a
    >chapter of the Bible read aloud
    >once a year, and having a private
    >copy of the Bible which you can
    >actually study for yourself.

    Oh great, so the true church is predicated upon the invention of the printing press. Have you thought of becoming KJVO?

    >How do you know that? Do you have
    >polling data from the year 9oo for
    >what the laity believed?

    Wow, desperate stuff. Hey, maybe they were all protestants! Keep hoping!

    >Moreover, if people believe
    >anything, they believe whatever
    >they’re exposed to. If they’re
    >only exposed to one point of view,
    >that’s what they believe.

    Ok, and have you spent a good amount of time in Orthodoxy getting exposed to it, so that you can make a fair judgment?


    >How do you think that admission is
    >the least bit helpful to your
    >case? The faithful laity has to
    >rescue the true church from the
    >faithless hierarchy.

    I wouldn't say faithless hierarchy. Rather a fallible hierarchy.

    >You must be a closet Protestant.
    >Thanks for admitting that, when
    >push comes to shove, you subscribe
    >to a low-church, Protestant
    >ecclesiology.

    If you want to label Orthodox ecclesiology as "low church protestant", shoot, I don't care. But it's nothing to do with me being a "closet protestant", it's to do with Orthodox ecclesiology. Maybe you are closet Orthodox?

    >“Again with the Western obsession
    >in having everything neatly
    >written down.”
    >
    >Oh, so writing is a Western
    >obsession. Tell that to the
    >ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, and
    >Chinese.

    Don't twist my words. However, Catechisms WERE invented by protestants you know. From thence they were adopted by Roman Catholics. And the reason for this we all know, is that there was so much disputation that nobody would know what any given church subscribed to without one. Orthodoxy didn't have these problems, and thus never went down this route.

    >I didn’t ask you if it was written
    >down. What I asked is if an
    >ecumenical council had ever
    >enumerated the canon of Scripture.
    >
    >So you don’t have an infallible
    >list of the canonical books you
    >can point us to.

    You can't help it I suppose. You're a product of Western Christendom where nothing can have authority unless it is written down.

    Yes, our understanding of what is scripture is infallible. No, it wasn't written down at an ecumenical council. No, it didn't need to be written down to be regarded as authoritative. (or "infallible" to use Western terms).


    >>“I'm sure you know what the
    >>traditional canon is of the WCF
    >>churches, ***EVEN IF*** it wasn't >>enumerated therein.
    >
    >The canon of Scripture isn’t
    >enumerated in the WCF? Try again.

    Do try to read before shooting from the hip.

    >You’re broadcasting your abysmal
    >ignorance of confessional
    >Calvinism. No wonder you don’t
    >post under your real name. It
    >spares you a lot of public
    >humiliation.

    You've got a lot of pride there for someone who can't read.

    >Name the evangelical commentators
    >who increasingly do that.

    You for one.

    >Who gave you the right to publicly
    >represent and speak on behalf of
    >the Orthodox church?

    What sort of a stupid question is this?

    >Or are you just a layman and
    >one-time Protestant convert to
    >Orthodoxy who spouts a lot of
    >high-church rhetoric which you
    >remain a functional Protestant in
    >the way you presume to do the
    >talking when what you say has not
    >been authorized by your
    >ecclesiastical superiors?

    What the... does this mean? Sounds like someone made you angry.

    >It’s a hard habit to break, is it
    >not? Learning to keep your big
    >mouth shut and letting the bishops
    >do the talking for you?

    Again showing a gross ignorance of the difference in understanding between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy in the place of the hierarchy.

    >Your duty is to listen and obey,
    >not to speak. Keep your lips
    >zipped and nod on cue.

    Maybe you better go back to debating Roman Catholics since it is clear that this is where you were weaned.

    ReplyDelete
  51. Hi Orthodox,

    Looks like you and I have different schedules during the day! Such is the Internet, I guess.

    --Even protestants acknowledge that the scripture can't be interpreted alone.
    >>Of course.

    --Thus they pull out lexicons to find the meanings of words...
    >>Of course. But that's only ONE tool. Don't forget context.

    --Now the NT also has a cultural setting.
    >>Of course.

    --Thus the NT doesn't say explicitely many things that were widely taken for granted.
    >>I don't see how relevant all this is, but yes, of course.

    --read the text in conjunction with the ECFs
    >>Here is where you miss the boat completely.
    Are you seriously making the claim that anyone can read ANY text w/o using the grammatico-historical method of exegesis (at least implicitly)?
    Why single out the Scr as the document requiring exegesis but say that ECF writings don't?

    --How do you know the topic wasn't "justification by works" where "justification" = "whatever you think it is in James"?? You see, you ARE automatically assuming Paul
    >>No offense, but you're talking gibberish and insulting my intelligence. You don't think I know where you're going?
    The whole reason you brought up James' "justification" is to use it as a foil to fight off the Reformation doctrine of justification by grace thru faith alone. And I was just doing some --ahem-- exegesis to explain to you why your objection is w/o merit. What's funny is that you're just slinging poo rather than responding exegetically. Which is typical of a believer in sola ecclesia.

    --but have you considered that maybe the Orthodox understanding isn't that different to your own?
    >>You couldn't know this, but I have extensive convos w/ EOx under my belt and have read several primers on EOxy such as Ware's book and the Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy. And you're quite far. You add works to salvation, and turn grace into non-grace according to Romans 11:6.

    --other Christian groups don't understand that the way you do,
    >>Why should that make a difference? Do you think somehow that is new information to me?

    --as neither did James apparently.
    >>AWAO. I invite you to respond exegetically.

    --Could it be that you are so hung up on definitions that you can't see the forest for the trees?
    >>Haha - this coming from you who came in here and brought up the whole question of James' vs. Paul's definition of justification!
    I can't help it if your liturgy conflicts severely w/ the "lived faith of the Church" and what the laity and clergy in general believe.

    --but it is equally as circular as appealing to tradition.
    >>Except I have good reason to believe Scr is theopneustos and no evidence to believe tradition is.

    --Who do YOU think founded it?
    >>A better question is: What did the apostles found? Answer - the Church of Jesus Christ. Which the EOC is not, manifestly.

    --So who DO you appeal to for the canon then?
    >>Extensively discussed elsewhere and I barely have time to type out one med-length response to you per day. Short answer = God's Word is theopneustos. Those books which are included therein are theopneustos, and any other one is not.
    God has a vested interest in revealing His Word to people (which I'm sure you would agree w/). His people can't know His Word w/o a Canon (a list of what His Word is and by implication what is not His Word).
    AND, God's people in the OT did not require any infallible ecclesial authority that you say we need to know the OT Canon. What is the remaining option? God brought knowledge of the Canon to His people *passively* and developmentally over time.
    For further discussion, feel free to see James White's _Scripture Alone_.

    RHOLOGY: And EO Trad has the added disincentive of being manifestly unbiblical in many ways, right off the top.
    --My turn to say "AWOA".
    >>That's the whole point of this thread.

    --Paul says to hold to the things which are passed down, whether written or by word of mouth.
    >>Prove then that they are substantially different than that which was passed down in the Scripture.

    --An EO understanding of tradition would leave you in no doubt about the doctrine about icons...
    >>But, as you've repeatedly demonstrated in this thread alone, your only answer for why little "t" tradition is judged to be Sacred Tradition is the say-so of The Church. Then you chastise us for being obsessed w/ infallibility, and THEN you chastise us for having a fallible knowledge of the Scriptural Canon. You're entertaining to watch, I'll give you that.

    --So apparently the supposed vagueness is working quite well.
    >>It sure is - it makes you able to confuse unstable and unlearned people w/ grandiose claims of "historicity" which are in reality nothing more than empty authority claims from a group that can't even define its own ideas of what God's revelation is.

    --Prove to me that 3 John is God breathed.
    >>See my quick argument on the Canon above.

    --So you have a major schism there because you can't agree about baptism because scripture is silent on that issue.
    >>It's not "major" and Scr is not silent on the issue. We disagree about it - that's fair to say. But as has already been proven earlier, disagreements are nothing new.

    --You would be happy to go to a WCF church which teaches your kids that they are wrong not to have been baptised?
    >>If there were no other Sola Scriptura church in my area, no problem. It's not like I don't get more time w/ my kids than an hour at Sunday School. And I don't see the big deal anyway. People are gonna tell my kids they're wrong their whole lives.

    --Which tradition are we talking about now?
    >>That would be a question you have to answer, but much more urgently.
    The ECFs would say that the Tradition is a corpus of writings from holy men who interp the Scr.

    --And what does subordinating mean? If I said, say... that vice-president is subordinate to the president, does that mean that the vice-president has no authority? Of course not.
    >>And you've already mischaracterised the SolaScriptura position several times. I challenge you to point out where anyone denied that tradition has any authority in this thread. What I *have* seen is multiple explanations of the levels of authority of Scr, elders, church teaching. I don't know how you missed it. Maybe you're chomping at the bit to respond w/o taking the time and effort to learn what we believe?

    --we can see factually that you can't do that, because Christians for more than a thousand years were reading scripture and not finding these alleged contradictions with the Tradition.
    >>See any post by Jason Engwer in this thread and you're good for that.

    --will you admit that these early church fathers were not stupid people?
    >>Yes, but at the same time I don't have to pretend that they didn't contradict themselves and other ECFs sometimes. But you do in principle, which is an unenviable position.

    --Anyway, administrative disputes like this happen throughout history, in and out of Orthodoxy. This one doesn't represent a split in formal communion, only an administrative split, which is of no great import in the big picture. What exactly is your point?
    >>It shows your alleged "modern unity" is a façade.

    --I'm talking about unity of the faith, not administrative spats.
    >>Ah, sure. But you won't allow me the same luxury.

    --External unity? What is that?
    >>Organisational unity.

    --You would have had to delve into the scriptures and the writings of the fathers to figure out by yourself what the catholic faith was.
    >>I assume that the "you" means "someone" as in "one would have had to delve..."
    That sounds an AWFUL lot like personal interpretation to me, which you continually claim that you are relieved by The Church of the responsibility to use.

    --Article on icons
    >>Fine, but the fact remains that there was a sizeable population of iconoclasts - otherwise, how could they have taken political power in Byzantium for a time?
    And now you want to tell me that you act like a Protestant to find out whether iconodulism or iconoclasm is the correct view.
    Time to pack it in, friends - our work here is done!

    --I didn't see a scrap of exegesis. Paul said to pray both ways, and not to stop anyone praying in tongues.
    >>AWOA. You might want to read what preceded that tiny phrase you pasted.
    Besides, didn't you just engage in private interpretation?
    You said "**I** didn't see a scrap of exegesis. Paul said to pray both ways, and not to stop anyone praying in tongues. If this is exegesis it **seems** very unimpressive."

    --2 Th 2:15
    >>I asked for exegetical interaction w/ this verse above. I'll be waiting to see it.


    --I do not insist on being able to produce an infallible list of infallible statements. What I do insist on is an infallible source of finding out everything God has revealed to his Church.
    >>They are the exact same thing, unless you think God can speak fallibly.

    --How much of that infallible deposit of faith you will be able to discern will be limited by some surrounding circumstances, but as a protestant, you don't even have a starting point.
    >>I've already explained I do above. You go on to misunderstand, so I'll ask you to go ahead and interact w/ the correct view that I stated above.

    --The orthodox church claims that the fullness of the faith is contained within her, passed down in continuous succession from the apostles.
    >>Believe Us, We're Right!

    --So why should I trust your canon, which relies on trusting the oral tradition concerning who wrote the New Testament?
    >>B/c God wrote it.


    All that and you didn't answer the question! I know you read it. Your answer is totally evasive.

    ***PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR INFALLIBLE LIST OF GOD'S (INFALLIBLE) TEACHINGS.***



    --Some things in scripture are debatable, even though they are crystal clear in the Fathers.
    >>You always go back to that, sooner or later. "God's Word is muddy but lemme tell ya, those later guys, they were much clearer!" It's so insulting to God and blasphemous by implication.

    --And neither have you.
    >>'Scuse me, but I answered you about James and you said "Nuh UH!!!"

    --Even if I agreed with this premise, it provides no justification for being protestant.
    >>Haha, sure it doesn't.
    Protestant belief: Scripture is infallible, sufficient, and clear.
    EO belief: Scripture is infallible (though we don't know what it is), but it's insufficient and quite muddy.
    You're right, there's barely a difference.


    Thanks.

    Peace,
    ALAN

    ReplyDelete
  52. ORTHODOX SAID:
    >Really? What were the rates of
    >literacy among the lower clergy in,
    >say, the year 900?

    "I assume they were fine since a reading was a standard part of the service."

    He *assumes* that they were. Meaning, he has no hard evidence.

    A standard part of what service? As celebrated where? Constantinople? Sure.

    But what about every village church in every century of Orthodoxy?

    >Also, were the scriptures publicly
    >read in a vernacular version which
    >was intelligible to the laity?

    "They sure were."

    Once again, a naked assertion.

    Where is his evidence that the traditional liturgical lectionary of readings and/or versions of the Scriptures used in Greek, Russian, Serbian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian Orthodox churches were always in a vernacular edition sufficiently contemporaneous to be intelligible to the laity?

    >Finally, there’s obviously a big
    >difference between hearing a
    >chapter of the Bible read aloud
    >once a year, and having a private
    >copy of the Bible which you can
    >actually study for yourself.

    "Oh great, so the true church is predicated upon the invention of the printing press. Have you thought of becoming KJVO?"

    As usual, he's changing the subject. So he can't address the challenge on its own terms. Another admission of defeat.

    >How do you know that? Do you have
    >polling data from the year 9oo for
    >what the laity believed?

    "Wow, desperate stuff. Hey, maybe they were all protestants! Keep hoping!"

    Once again, he's ducking the issue. He makes a factual claim about what the laity believed. Where is his evidence to back up the claim? Nowhere.

    >Moreover, if people believe
    >anything, they believe whatever
    >they’re exposed to. If they’re
    >only exposed to one point of view,
    >that’s what they believe.

    "Ok, and have you spent a good amount of time in Orthodoxy getting exposed to it, so that you can make a fair judgment?"

    A deliberately amorphous question. And has he done the same thing with respect to every other Christian tradition?

    >How do you think that admission is
    >the least bit helpful to your
    >case? The faithful laity has to
    >rescue the true church from the
    >faithless hierarchy.

    "I wouldn't say faithless hierarchy. Rather a fallible hierarchy."

    So to be Arian is to be merely fallible rather than infidel.

    >You must be a closet Protestant.
    >Thanks for admitting that, when
    >push comes to shove, you subscribe
    >to a low-church, Protestant
    >ecclesiology.

    "If you want to label Orthodox ecclesiology as "low church protestant", shoot, I don't care."

    Once again he changes the subject because he can't rise to the challenge. Did I label Orthodoxy ecclesiology as low church Protestant? No.

    Rather, I labeled *his* own ecclesiology as functionally Protestant.

    He keeps favoring us with these backdoor admissions that he can't defend his own position.

    >I didn’t ask you if it was written
    >down. What I asked is if an
    >ecumenical council had ever
    >enumerated the canon of Scripture.
    >
    >So you don’t have an infallible
    >list of the canonical books you
    >can point us to.

    "You can't help it I suppose. You're a product of Western Christendom where nothing can have authority unless it is written down."

    Notice how he passes over in silence what I said about the church fathers and ecumenical councils. Was that left to the vicissitudes of oral tradition?

    "Yes, our understanding of what is scripture is infallible. No, it wasn't written down at an ecumenical council. No, it didn't need to be written down to be regarded as authoritative. (or "infallible" to use Western terms)."

    Once more he's changing the subject. I didn't ask about the infallibility of Scripture, but about the infallibility of the Orthodox canon. Does he have an infallible list of the Orthodox canon?

    He keeps ducking and dodging because he can't answer the question without torpedoing his own argument.

    Does he think "infallible" is a *Western* category?

    In that event, Orthodoxy has no infallible tradition.

    >Name the evangelical commentators
    >who increasingly do that.

    "You for one."

    Once more he makes a sweeping claim from which he must instantly retreat as soon as we ask for documentation.

    >Who gave you the right to publicly
    >represent and speak on behalf of
    >the Orthodox church?

    What sort of a stupid question is this?

    If it's a stupid question, then it's stupidity derives from the stupid pedigree of the position it's questioning. A genetic defect due to the paternity of the Orthodox sperm donor.

    >Or are you just a layman and
    >one-time Protestant convert to
    >Orthodoxy who spouts a lot of
    >high-church rhetoric which you
    >remain a functional Protestant in
    >the way you presume to do the
    >talking when what you say has not
    >been authorized by your
    >ecclesiastical superiors?

    "What the... does this mean? Sounds like someone made you angry."

    Sounds like you're impotent to address the objection.

    >It’s a hard habit to break, is it
    >not? Learning to keep your big
    >mouth shut and letting the bishops
    >do the talking for you?

    "Again showing a gross ignorance of the difference in understanding between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy in the place of the hierarchy."

    Another empty claim, sans evidence.

    ReplyDelete
  53. >>Here is where you miss the boat >completely.
    >Are you seriously making the claim
    >that anyone can read ANY text w/o
    >using the grammatico-historical
    >method of exegesis (at least
    >implicitly)?
    >Why single out the Scr as the
    >document requiring exegesis but say
    >that ECF writings don't?

    The point is that protestants have the wrong balance between assuming everything can be extracted from the text (exegesis) and listening to how the host culture understood it.

    Let's say, indulge my hypothetical for a moment, that the apostles were teaching, and that everyone in the apostolic period understood that children were baptised. Now you can look at the text till the cows come home, taking a clue here and a clue here, forming an opinion. But if you lack the basic tradition that was simply a given at the time, you could still come to the wrong conclusion.

    Or indulge me in another hypothetical. Let's say that everyone was quite clear from the apostle's teaching that the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist was to be taken literally. Now you can examine the text forever and a day, looking for clues about whether you should take it literally, but still end up being wrong, because you lack the common understanding of how this exclusive club of the early church understood it from the apostles.

    This is the limitation of exegesis, protestant style. It assumes that only the most basic external information of lexicon and basic cultural knowledge is all that is needed to find the true meaning. It ASSUMES that the common understanding of the Church in this matter is irrelevant. But what if it's not? What if the only way to figure out these difficulties is to look to the Church's shared understanding?

    >The whole reason you brought up
    >James' "justification" is to use
    >it as a foil to fight off the
    >Reformation doctrine of
    >justification by grace thru faith
    >alone.

    Actually it is to make you think about your own myopia about protestant's traditions. But I guess again, you know more about what I intend than I do right? It's kind of a parallel to your sola scriptura problem.

    >And I was just doing some --ahem--
    >exegesis to explain to you why
    >your objection is w/o merit.

    My objection was merely to quote a scripture. If a scripture is without merit you've got bigger problems.

    >What's funny is that you're just
    >slinging poo rather than
    >responding exegetically.

    Responding to what? There is no challenge to repond to here. Only the false claim that the bible doesn't speak of justification by works.

    >Which is typical of a believer in
    >sola ecclesia.

    There's no justification for applying that tag to Eastern Christianity. We are sola-Tradition.

    >>You couldn't know this, but I
    >have extensive convos w/ EOx under
    >my belt and have read several
    >primers on EOxy such as Ware's
    >book and the Three Views on
    >Eastern Orthodoxy. And you're
    >quite far. You add works to
    >salvation, and turn grace into
    >non-grace according to Romans
    >11:6.

    Time to put up or shut up. Show us where in Ware's book it turns grace into non-grace as per Ro 11:6.

    --as neither did James apparently.
    >>AWAO. I invite you to respond
    >>exegetically.

    Respond to what? All you've done is said you don't like me quoting James on the topic of justification by works. That's pretty ridiculous.

    >>Haha - this coming from you who >came in here and brought up the
    >whole question of James' vs.
    >Paul's definition of
    >justification!

    WRONG! I never brought up Paul. I just responded to a claim that "justification by works" is unbiblical, by mentioning James said otherwise, and I got lambasted because I am supposed to assume that we must be talking about Paul, never about James.

    >I can't help it if your liturgy
    >conflicts severely w/ the "lived
    >faith of the Church" and what the
    >laity and clergy in general
    >believe.

    What??

    >Except I have good reason to
    >believe Scr is theopneustos and no
    >evidence to believe tradition is.

    Really. Tell us again how you know 3 John is theopneustos?

    >God's people in the OT did not
    >require any infallible ecclesial
    >authority that you say we need to
    >know the OT Canon. What is the
    >remaining option? God brought
    >knowledge of the Canon to His
    >people *passively* and
    >developmentally over time.

    For someone who claims to have talked to EOs before, you seem to be very confused. There is no EO authority who has declared the canon. (Have you even been reading the thread?). Yes, I agree that God brought knowledge of the canon to his people passively over time. I believe it on the basis of John 16:13. But you've rejected that interpretation. So where is YOUR verse, Mr Sola Scriptura, to back up that claim? And having admitted he leads his people passively over time into the truth, why do you reject the Church being led passively over time into all truth? You see, you are inconsistent at every turn, and need to obfuscate at every turn about the canon.

    >For further discussion, feel free
    >to see James White's _Scripture
    >Alone_.

    This book is another exercise in obfuscation. Nowhere will he tell us how to find out the canon. He has no answers! All he can say is like a mantra "look at the Jews, they had no ecclesiastical authority to declare the canon". I AGREE! It was a Tradition! We have to look to the Tradition! But James can't admit that, all he can do is obfuscate and ignore the question, and the sad thing is he wastes a 200 or so page book doing it.

    --Paul says to hold to the things >which are passed down, whether
    >written or by word of mouth.
    >>Prove then that they are
    >substantially different than that
    >which was passed down in the
    >Scripture.

    Prove that John wrote 3 John. Your question is of the same kind, and expressing disbelief in the object of Paul's admonition to hold to the written, is the same as expressing disbelief in the object of Paul's admonition to hold to the oral.

    >>But, as you've repeatedly >demonstrated in this thread alone,
    >your only answer for why little
    >"t" tradition is judged to be
    >Sacred Tradition is the say-so of
    >The Church. Then you chastise us
    >for being obsessed w/
    >infallibility, and THEN you
    >chastise us for having a fallible
    >knowledge of the Scriptural Canon.
    >You're entertaining to watch, I'll
    >give you that.

    I fail to see the amusement. I imagine if you'd joined a church in 40AD, you'd be asking the priest after every sentence "is that infallible", "is that infallible" etc. Of course that wasn't even the paradigm back then. They received the teaching and passed it on as authoritative.

    --So apparently the supposed vagueness is working quite well.
    >>It sure is - it makes you able to
    >confuse unstable and unlearned
    >people w/ grandiose claims of
    >"historicity" which are in reality
    >nothing more than empty authority
    >claims from a group that can't
    >even define its own ideas of what
    >God's revelation is.

    Can't define its own ideas? Where do get this stuff from? Do they send you to a special school or something?


    --So you have a major schism there
    >because you can't agree about
    >baptism because scripture is
    >silent on that issue.
    >>It's not "major" and Scr is not
    >silent on the issue. We disagree
    >about it - that's fair to say. But
    >as has already been proven
    >earlier, disagreements are nothing
    >new.

    Seems pretty major to me. You wouldn't be able to take your unbaptised children to the other kind of church, in case they started getting all confused about why they havn't been baptised "as the bible says".

    >>If there were no other Sola >Scriptura church in my area, no
    >problem. It's not like I don't get
    >more time w/ my kids than an hour
    >at Sunday School. And I don't see
    >the big deal anyway. People are
    >gonna tell my kids they're wrong
    >their whole lives.

    Really. So if your 5 year old listens to the church and requests to be baptised, you will let them? Or you will refuse and have them lecturing you the next 10 years about why you are wrong? And if the elder tells you to baptise your 5 year old "as the bible says", will you obey your elder "as the bible says", or will you be disobedient?

    >>And you've already >mischaracterised the SolaScriptura
    >position several times. I
    >challenge you to point out where
    >anyone denied that tradition has
    >any authority in this thread.

    When tradition is put at a lower level than your own opinion, then it functionally has no authority. One of the clearest traditions in the church is that children should be baptised. One of the least clear teachings in the bible is whether children should be baptised. But since your personal opinion has trumped tradition, then tradition ends up with no authority at all.

    >>It shows your alleged "modern >>unity" is a façade.

    How is a 100% unity in the Faith and the teachings a facade? You as a what.. a reformed baptist? have no external unity with other reformed baptists. And baptists generally think that is a good thing. What is the issue?


    --I'm talking about unity of the >>faith, not administrative spats.
    >>Ah, sure. But you won't allow me
    >>the same luxury.

    Sure I would. I could care less about the political spats in protestantism. The problem is differences in the Faith.

    --External unity? What is that?
    >>Organisational unity.

    Orthodoxy does not have organisational unity by design (if I understand correctly your understanding of that).

    >That sounds an AWFUL lot like
    >personal interpretation to me,
    >which you continually claim that
    >you are relieved by The Church of
    >the responsibility to use.

    No, I never at all said you are relieved of personal interpretation. What I said was that many difficult issues that you might otherwise get wrong through a personal interpretation, can be clarified by the tradition handed down from the apostles. By your argument you should never compare scripture with scripture, because it can't help to seek clarification on a difficulty from another authority.

    >Fine, but the fact remains that >there was a sizeable population of
    >iconoclasts - otherwise, how could
    >they have taken political power in
    >Byzantium for a time?

    What if there was? What is your point?

    >And now you want to tell me that
    >you act like a Protestant to find
    >out whether iconodulism or
    >iconoclasm is the correct view.

    Huh?

    --2 Th 2:15
    >>I asked for exegetical >interaction w/ this verse above.
    >I'll be waiting to see it.

    I don't think this thread can stand a whole discussion on this. We would have to adjourne to somewhere else like Orthodox-Reformed Dialogue on Yahoo.

    --I do not insist on being able to >produce an infallible list of
    >infallible statements. What I do >insist on is an infallible source
    >of finding out everything God has
    >revealed to his Church.
    >>They are the exact same thing,
    >unless you think God can speak
    >fallibly.

    Huh? I don't get it.

    But it might be good to point out here that there are quite a few things in the NT that are said about the OT, that must have been handed down orally, because they are not actually in the NT. These are the exact kind of things that protestants are complaining that EO believe.

    >>I've already explained I do >above. You go on to misunderstand,
    >so I'll ask you to go ahead and
    >interact w/ the correct view that
    >I stated above.

    No you didn't explain clearly at all. It sounded like you were saying the canon is a tradition but were too scared to use the bogey word.

    --So why should I trust your canon, >which relies on trusting the oral
    >tradition concerning who wrote the
    >New Testament?
    >>B/c God wrote it.

    Obfuscation again! How do you know God wrote 3 John?

    >***PLEASE PROVIDE YOUR INFALLIBLE
    >LIST OF GOD'S (INFALLIBLE)
    >TEACHINGS.***

    WHAT FOR? What makes you think this has any bearing on anything at all?

    A better question is to ask if a particular thing is infallible. Like I'm asking you how you know 3 John is infallible, you can ask me if a certain thing is infallible. But we don't claim there is some list. We don't operate that way. Why you think we should, I have no idea whatsoever.

    --Some things in scripture are >debatable, even though they are
    >crystal clear in the Fathers.
    >>You always go back to that, >sooner or later. "God's Word is
    >muddy but lemme tell ya, those
    >later guys, they were much
    >clearer!" It's so insulting to God
    >and blasphemous by implication.

    Hey, that's not an opinion, the evidence is in for the alternative, and it aint good. Starting with your WCF brothers who baptise babies. And there is nothing blasphemous in saying that God intended scripture to be read in conjunction with the wider Holy Tradition. You assume it is insulting to God, because of your unscriptual sola scriptura doctrine.

    >Protestant belief: Scripture is
    >infallible, sufficient, and clear.

    So sufficient and clear is it alone, that there are thousands of denominations. And your own understanding (which is the right one I guess LOL) is even a tiny tiny minority within the overall minority of sola scriptura churches.

    Sorry, but the facts are in, and your position doesn't fit.

    >EO belief: Scripture is infallible
    >(though we don't know what it is),
    >but it's insufficient and quite
    >muddy.

    We don't know what it is? Where do you get this stuff? Certainly we know what it is.

    And it's not muddy in the least when read WITHIN the church, WITHIN the context of the traditions that clarify. We don't have to scrounge around wondering whether say Jesus is being literal about the Eucharist. Rather it's crystal clear in the context of the Tradition.

    You think this makes scripture "insufficent". We disagree, we just don't believe the bible should be a fish out of water, it doesn't make the fish insufficient.

    ReplyDelete
  54. >"I assume they were fine since a
    >reading was a standard part of the
    >service."
    >
    >He *assumes* that they were.
    >Meaning, he has no hard evidence.
    >
    >A standard part of what service?
    >As celebrated where?
    >Constantinople? Sure.
    >
    >But what about every village
    >church in every century of
    >Orthodoxy?

    Apparently you are unaware that the services in Orthodoxy are standardised. They are the same in every obscure village as they would be in the Cathedral of Constantinople. Thus it's hard to see how you could even conduct a service without being able to read the liturgy, and the lectionary readings.

    I think that other Catholic article was instructive. Someone measured that in an evangelical service 2-8% of the service was scripture readings compared to 25% in a catholic church. And since the liturgy itself is roughy 80% directly taken from scripture, one might say that an Orthodox service is maybe 90% pure unadulterated scripture.

    >Once again, a naked assertion.
    >
    >Where is his evidence that the >traditional liturgical lectionary
    >of readings and/or versions of the
    >Scriptures used in Greek, Russian,
    >Serbian, Rumanian, and Bulgarian
    >Orthodox churches were always in a
    >vernacular edition sufficiently
    >contemporaneous to be intelligible
    >to the laity?

    Bait and switch. The original question was concerning 900AD. Russia of course did not become Orthodox till 988 AD (at which time the bible was translated into the native Slavonic tongue). I find it odd that you are asking whether the Greeks had the scriptures in their native tongue. Lots of homework ahead for you!

    >"Ok, and have you spent a good
    >amount of time in Orthodoxy
    >getting exposed to it, so that you
    >can make a fair judgment?"
    >
    >A deliberately amorphous question.
    >And has he done the same thing
    >with respect to every other
    >Christian tradition?

    I try, certainly. I wouldn't want to be ignorant of such things.

    >Once again he changes the subject
    >because he can't rise to the
    >challenge. Did I label Orthodoxy
    >ecclesiology as low church
    >Protestant? No.
    >
    >Rather, I labeled *his* own >ecclesiology as functionally
    >Protestant.

    So now you are drawing a distinctioin between my ecclesiology and Orthodox ecclesiology? Sorry, now is the time to PUT UP OR SHUT UP and prove that.


    >"Again showing a gross ignorance
    >of the difference in understanding
    >between Roman Catholicism and
    >Orthodoxy in the place of the
    >hierarchy."
    >
    >Another empty claim, sans
    >evidence.

    Hey, this is not night school you know. Go do some homework.

    ReplyDelete
  55. orthodox said...

    "I find it odd that you are asking whether the Greeks had the scriptures in their native tongue. Lots of homework ahead for you."

    My, you really are rather dim, aren't you? I didn't say "native" language, but "vernacular." These are not synonymous terms. Even Greek varies from one period to another, one place to another, one social class to another.

    "Vernacular" doesn't necessarily distinguish between one "language" and another, but between literary and colloquial usage.

    Nice to see you skip over the other examples too, such as Serbian and Rumanian.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Orthodox writes:

    "So by pointing to certain schimatics, you seek to justify protestant disunity? It seems to me these quotes prove my point. Cyprian and Jerome here presuppose a unity of the church that you can leave."

    The issue isn't "justifying Protestant disunity". Whether a Protestant church's disunity with other churches is justified would have to be judged case-by-case.

    The issue is the accuracy of your historical claims. You asserted that there was only one denomination a thousand years ago. You then went on to cite how often communion is celebrated as an example of what you consider an unacceptable deviation in Protestantism. You also referred to how there are "thousands" of Protestant denominations. You can't get to such a number unless you include some relatively minor differences among the groups you're counting as separate denominations. I responded by giving examples of multiple denominations, as defined by the standards you suggested, existing prior to the Reformation, including in the first millennium. You then changed your argument by saying that there was "basically" one denomination "in large part". And now you're further qualifying your argument by acknowledging that there were "schismatics" in the first millennium. But wouldn't you apply that same term or something similar to Protestants? If there were "schismatics" in the first millennium, and there are "schismatics" today, then why did you claim that there was only one denomination in the first millennium, but thousands today?

    You tell us that men like Cyprian and Jerome thought that there was one church. So does every other professing Christian I'm aware of. That doesn't mean that they all have the same one church in mind or that they're referring to one denomination. Even a highly visible concept of the church can involve the sort of governmental independence and doctrinal differences that most people would distinguish from "one denomination". The multiple churches in Rome that Hippolytus referred to were multiple churches, not one denomination. Calling one or more of them "schismatic" doesn't change the fact that there were multiple churches acting independently and sometimes opposing one another. Similarly, Stephen and Firmilian continued being involved in their own churches. They were disunified, yet their churches continued on. And Tertullian continued being involved in a church, even though men like Jerome didn't consider it the true church. If we're only to count what you consider true churches, then why did you refer to thousands of Protestant denominations? Do you consider those Protestant churches to be true churches?

    You write:

    "I didn't say one church per city, I said per area. A city can be a large place, impractical to have just one church."

    Where do any of the sources I cited say that there were multiple churches in a city only because of how large the city was? Some of the examples I've cited involve churches that disagreed with each other and were opposing each other. Hippolytus writes of such a situation in Rome, as I documented. The reality of rival churches is one of the reasons why Roman Catholicism has developed a concept of antipopes.

    But the churches don't have to be rivals in such an explicit sense to still be considered different denominations. As I've said before, you've criticized Protestants for disagreements as minor as how often they celebrate communion. If such minor differences are to be considered as representative of some sort of unacceptable disunity, then would you tell us how you supposedly know that all churches within a single city in the first millennium had no such differences? How do you know that there were multiple churches only because the area was too large for one church?

    You write:

    "The reason EO aren't combining with protestant churches, is we DON'T consider them in the one holy apostolic church. But that's not your claim for protestantism."

    And we don't think that "combining" in the sense you've referred to is necessary in order to consider another church orthodox. You keep assuming that unity is to be denominational. How do you know that?

    You write:

    "But the point is that other than schismatic groups that you condemn, the early Church considered itself one Church in a way that protestants today don't."

    There are multiple "ways" in which groups can "consider themselves one". The issue isn't whether I agree with every one of the multiple definitions of church unity that different people advocated during the first millennium. Rather, the issue is your concept of denominational unity, in which even a difference as minor as how often communion is celebrated is considered unacceptable. There was not one denomination in the first millennium. There was widespread concern for a variety of forms of unity, with different people defining unity in different ways. But it doesn't therefore follow that there was one denomination in the sense you initially suggested. And we have no good reason to think that Eastern Orthodoxy even existed in the earliest generations, much less that it was the one denomination of the whole first millennium.

    You write:

    "Yes, it has been a rocky road of 2000 years with unfortunate incidents, temporary disagreements etc. But the point is that they understood the concept of communion, and they took it very seriously."

    Your "point" keeps changing. Initially, you said that there was only one denomination, and you suggested that differences as minor as how often communion is celebrated are unacceptable. Now you're acknowledging that there was division, but you tell us that those who divided "took it very seriously". Saying that those who divided took it seriously isn't the same as your initial claim that there weren't any such divisions.

    You write:

    "Sure, you could go to a church, believe what the pastor tells you without question, and become a Christian. But you don't advocate taking Pastor's advice at face value without checking with the bible. And protestants here are talking about buying commentaries from different perspectives and the whole 9 yards."

    Is it your position that somebody born in a Montanist family, a Donatist family, a Roman Catholic family, a Jehovah's Witnesses family, etc. shouldn't investigate his church's claims? Are you saying that "believing what the pastor tells you without question" is a good thing?

    You write:

    "Why so much feigned confusion? Was there any Arian church in... oh say 1000 AD? No there wasn't, so we don't need to go around pretending that we don't know what the catholic faith was, and that Arian councils were rejected by the church."

    The people alive at the time of the rise of Arianism didn't live until 1000 A.D. They had to make a judgment about the Arianism that was popular in their day. What if Eastern Orthodoxy becomes increasingly unpopular with the passing of time? Should we judge it in the manner in which you're judging Arianism? Maybe future generations will dismiss your church councils in much the same way you're dismissing the Arians' councils.

    You write:

    "St. Cyprian of Carthage writing to Pope Cornelius of Rome said that the Saints should keep praying for one another even after some depart to be in the presence of God. And that is all that the Orthodox want to do is ask the Saints to keep praying for us."

    Was Cornelius dead when Cyprian wrote to him? No, he wasn't. Asking a living person to pray for you after he dies isn't equivalent to praying to the deceased.

    And is it true that "all that the Orthodox want to do is ask the Saints to keep praying for us"? No, that's not true. See:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2007/03/in-another-thread-orthodox-wrote.html

    You write:

    "The great explosion in Christian writings starts around the year 350, the number of writings prior to that time is fairly sparse. But in the writings from this time, all the world of Christianity is in agreement. If someone had started off a novelty around that time, we would expect to see it slowly, and with controversy spread. But no, we have St. Hilary of Poitiers,
    St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Athanasius, St. Basil the Great, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Ambrose of Milan, St. Jerome, St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine all assuming that prayer to the saints is a given. People don't change their religious practices in such a major way without a big upheaval. Have you noticed... oh say any baptist denominations en-masse making such a major change like that? Even if you were pagan and had no belief in the church led by the Spirit you ought to conceed that the practice of praying to saints was both universal and extremely early."

    Your reasoning is faulty on multiple points. We have thousands of pages of literature from the ante-Nicene sources. Some of them wrote entire treatises on prayer that are still extant. There are thousands of references to prayer in scripture and in the ante-Nicene fathers. The idea that they practiced praying to the deceased, yet repeatedly didn't mention it, or that all of the documents where they mentioned it happened to not be preserved, is absurd. The Bible and the ante-Nicene fathers address thousands of years of human history, and they discuss a wide variety of circumstances in which praying to the deceased could and should have been mentioned, if it was practiced. Prayers to God are mentioned frequently. Why should we think that prayers to the deceased were occurring, yet repeatedly went unmentioned while other prayers did get mentioned?

    You're correct in saying that it seems that some people should have objected if a change occurred in the practice of prayer. But that line of argumentation has to be reconciled with other lines of evidence. If prayer to the deceased is absent where we'd expect to see it in the earlier sources, as I've outlined above, and if sources like Origen and Lactantius were condemning prayers to the deceased prior to the post-Nicene sources you've cited, then the alleged lack of objection to praying to the deceased later on wouldn't be able to overturn the other data that indicate that people weren't praying to the dead. If Origen, for example, tells us that Christians only pray to God, then an alleged lack of objection to praying to the deceased one hundred or two hundred years after Origen can't be used as a justification for ignoring the logical implications of what Origen said. In other words, all of the evidence has to be taken into account. You can't just point to a lack of objection to praying to the deceased later in history, then conclude that people must have prayed to the deceased (or didn't object to it) earlier as well.

    You probably noticed that I used the word "alleged" above. You claim that praying to the deceased was "universally" accepted, but the evidence you offer falls short of that assertion. Even from the middle of the fourth century and later, we see some opposition to the practice. Vigilantius opposed it, from what we can tell by his controversies with Jerome, for example. I've also seen other sources cited as opposing the practice around the same time. I'm not as familiar with the later sources as I am with the earlier ones. I'm familiar with some passages in the fathers, like the fathers you cited, that support praying to the deceased. But I've also seen passages cited from some of the fathers you've listed that don't seem to support the practice. People often cite passages about the deceased praying for us, for example, as if those passages are about our praying to the deceased. Since you didn't cite any passages from these fathers, I don't know what you have in mind. Regardless, prayer existed for thousands of years prior to the middle of the fourth century, and the ante-Nicene fathers address the subject of prayer frequently and in depth, so your focus on sources from the middle of the fourth century onward doesn't make sense.

    You write:

    "Are you going to tell us [gasp] that 'general' acceptance of the canon is whatever number of people you need in order to arrive at your desired conclusions?"

    I didn't claim that canonicity is determined by "acceptance" of a book by a particular number of people. For example, as I mentioned earlier, we have good evidence for the apostolic authorship of Revelation from the early ante-Nicene sources, even though the book became more controversial later. Even if a large number of people had opposed the book's apostolicity in later centuries, the earlier evidence would be sufficient. Theoretically, the testimony of one or two people who knew the apostle John could be sufficient, even if a large number of people rejected Johannine authorship later on. I'm appealing to historical evidence of apostolicity (though apostolicity isn't the only canonical criterion), similar to how we would determine whether Tacitus wrote the Annals. I haven't argued that a book should be accepted just because X number of people accepted it. You don't seem to understand the position you're attempting to critique.

    You write:

    "In answer to your question, I would point to the answer that everyone gave to St Vincent of Lerins which I quoted above. If you don't like that answer, then you have no canon, and thus your religion just collapsed around your ears."

    Vincent lived hundreds of years after the apostles, and you haven't given us any reason to think that his standards are correct. I doubt that you know much about him. You're probably just repeating something you read at an Eastern Orthodox web site. Would you explain to us how citing Vincent proves that your concept of "Tradition" has been "generally" accepted?

    You write:

    "The apostles had the scriptures too, AND their own authority. But apparently they still had to meet in council to figure it out."

    People commonly refer to the events of Acts 15 as a church council. Whatever we call those events, they occurred once in the New Testament. The apostles frequently acted without any such council, and nothing in Acts 15 logically leads to the conclusion that the apostles "had" to hold a church council "to figure it out". You still aren't giving us any reason to conclude that ecumenical councils that occurred hundreds of years after the apostles died are comparable to Acts 15 in any relevant sense.

    You write:

    "You say you accept Acts 15 council because of apostolic authority, but you ignore that the text says apostles AND elders were consulted by Paul to find the answer."

    As I said before, Paul also worked with and was helped by laymen, not just elders. The fact that elders assist Paul in some manner doesn't logically lead us to the conclusion that we should accept the decisions in Acts 15 on the basis of the authority of those elders. Much less does it logically lead us to the conclusion that Eastern Orthodox elders living hundreds of years later have the authority that the apostles had in Acts 15.

    You write:

    "So you're going to have to come up with some kind of model where the the church has real genuine authority to make doctrinal decisions apart from apostles if you want to remain biblical."

    Acts 15 didn't occur "apart from apostles".

    You write:

    "Of course, maybe the bible is just too vague at this point to decide that point, in which case your sola scripture is hosed again."

    You're the one who cited Acts 15 to support your argument for the Eastern Orthodox authority structure. If the passage is "too vague", then that's your problem, not mine. I'm not the one who's trying to justify applying the authority of Acts 15 to post-apostolic councils.

    You write:

    "The very word 'primacy' assumes that something is 'secondary'. But you don't have any secondary source of authority. As for passages that speak of the apostles, show me the verse that says apostles have authority to the exclusion of all else. If you can't, you're just arguing from a silence in these other passages."

    You're telling me that I have to defend something that I don't believe. I don't claim that the apostles' authority is "to the exclusion of all else". Do we conclude that parents don't have any authority, since their authority is subordinate to the authority of God? Do governmental officials have no authority, since their authority is less than that of God? I can believe in the authority of church leaders without thinking that they're as authoritative as the apostles. All of us believe in hierarchies of authority. If your local Eastern Orthodox leaders contradict what an ecumenical council has taught, and you follow the ecumenical council rather than those leaders, should we conclude that Eastern Orthodox leaders have no authority?

    You write:

    "Nowhere is there any hint in the text that this decision is purely from the apostles."

    Again, the fact that the apostles worked with other people doesn't prove that those other people are as authoritative as the apostles. For example, Paul opens and closes some of his letters in the name of the people who are with him, his co-workers. It doesn't therefore follow that those co-workers must have been just as authoritative as Paul.

    You write:

    "Nowhere any hint that this is purely the apostles who have this authority."

    Scripture repeatedly refers to the apostles as the highest rank in the church (1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 2:20, etc.), as do many early post-apostolic sources. The fact that the apostles worked with elders in Acts 15 doesn't prove that elders must have equal authority.

    You write:

    "If my interpretation has any credence at all, then sola scriptura is hosed, because it relies on every individual Christian coming to your conclusion, which obviously they don't."

    You seem to have a lot of misconceptions about sola scriptura and Protestantism. The fact that some people disagree with my interpretations of scripture doesn't prevent me from being confident about my interpretations. I can be confident on the basis of the evidence supporting my view, even if other people disagree with my view. And since factors such as human fallibility and sin are involved in the process of interpreting scripture (as well as in the interpretation of church history, church councils, etc.), I don't claim that personal interpretation is always correct. It doesn't have to always be correct in order for me to be confident about it in a given case.

    You write:

    "Yes, doing anything in life takes some interpretation. But Orthodox do so in the context of the historical church and the council and wisdom of many who knew more than us, humbly submitting to the wisdom of God when 'it seemed good to the Holy Spirit' to clarify something for the church."

    You can't arrive at the conclusion that there is a church, that such an entity should be listened to, etc. unless you first engage in a lot of personal interpretation. You can't cite the authority of the Eastern Orthodox church as a justification for your conclusion that the Eastern Orthodox church has the authority it claims to have. You have to conclude that there is a church with such authority before you can interpret anything in light of an acceptance of such an authoritative church. You keep objecting to Protestant dependence on personal interpretation, yet you can't objectively justify your Eastern Orthodox belief system without relying on a long series of personal interpretations.

    You write:

    "From your point of view, the Nicean creed is a waste of time, because it requires interpretation to understand it, and since you have to interpret anyway, you might as well just go to the bible and forget the creed."

    You keep burning straw men. Where did I say what you describe above? I didn't. If my belief that the Nicene Creed is a subordinate authority (under the authority of scripture) is equivalent to viewing the Nicene Creed as a "waste of time", then should we conclude the same about all of the subordinate authorities in your life? Should we conclude that you view your pastor's teachings as a "waste of time", since your pastor doesn't have the authority of an ecumenical council when he speaks? Is it a "waste of time" for you to read articles or books written by Eastern Orthodox laymen or clergymen, since they aren't as authoritative as an ecumenical council? Is it a "waste of time" for children to consider the counsel of their parents, since their parents aren't as authoritative as God?

    You write:

    "So this allows every Christian to do what is right in his own eyes in evaluating this evidence and throwing out whichever books they find unconvincing."

    Human beings always make their own decisions. Nobody else chose Eastern Orthodoxy for you. You chose it on the basis of your personal interpretations. Other people used their personal interpretation to choose Roman Catholicism, the Jehovah's Witnesses, atheism, Buddhism, etc. Just as a Protestant could theoretically "throw out" a book as non-canonical, you could theoretically "throw out" some belief that you don't think qualifies as Eastern Orthodox Tradition. The fact that these things have to be pointed out to you doesn't speak well for your knowledge of the issues.

    You write:

    "The fact is, any evidence that survived concerning the authenticity of books came to us through the same church and oral tradition that teaches that various doctrines you reject are apostolic. So if you don't trust our passing on these teachings, then you can hardly trust our passing onto you facts concerning the authorship of books."

    Again, you've given us no reason to think that Christians like Papias and Tertullian or non-Christians like Celsus and Julian the Apostate were members of your denomination or that the information they convey is the property of your denomination. I reject your assertion that the entire realm of historical evidence related to the Biblical canon is equivalent to Eastern Orthodox Tradition. You keep making the assertion, but you never support it. You claim that I should accept some extra-Biblical traditions that I'm not accepting, but you don't document any examples.

    You write:

    "That's somewhat beyond the scope of this thread which has already gone on too far. Pick up a good book about Orthodoxy."

    Judging from your willingness to write so much in so many threads, I doubt that you have much concern about how this thread "has already gone on too far". Rather, it seems that you don't want to answer the question I asked you. You gave vague responses when I asked you earlier, when the thread wasn't as long as it is now. And now you're saying that you don't want to address the issue because of the length of the thread. Whatever reason you give for not answering the question, the fact remains that you aren't answering it. You make vague references to "Tradition", but you don't tell us specifically where to find it.

    You write:

    "So where is the scriptural command to cease and desist not following sola scriptura in year XXX, and to start following sola scriptura? If that's not in scripure, then sola scriptura fails."

    You assert that "sola scriptura fails" under such a scenario, but you don't justify that conclusion. The issue you're raising is applicable to any Christian system of authority, not just sola scriptura. Every system of authority has limits, and the nature of Christianity is such that the limits would change as various sources of authority and sources of information pass away. We all make personal judgments about what seems probable. How do you know that there isn't some oral tradition of the apostle John that's been passed down in some area of the world you aren't familiar with, an oral tradition that would change your conclusion that Eastern Orthodoxy has the authority it claims to have? I don't have to be able to date the origin of when it was appropriate to practice sola scriptura in order to reach a confident judgment that it's appropriate to practice it today. I'm not living in the second or third century, so I don't have to know whether sola scriptura was appropriate for a given individual who lived then.

    You write:

    "And it can't be before the canon is settled, because you can't have scripture as the rule of faith when there are disagreements on what is contained in this rule of faith."

    How would the fact that people disagree about the canon prevent somebody from following what he believes is the correct canon? It wouldn't.

    You write:

    "You've been refuted that an adversion to images was the only view, or probably even the majority view."

    You haven't interacted with what I cited. You mentioned data such as the catacombs, but I address that in the article I linked to. You haven't interacted with what I said there.

    You write:

    "And I could quote you all those who didn't accept it. According to the arguments you are using against Orthodoxy - the existence of dissent - you would have no canon. Be consistent!"

    I am consistent with my own standard. But you're asking me to be consistent with your standard. That doesn't make sense. I'm not the one who cited "general acceptance" as my standard. You cited that standard for ecumenical councils and "Tradition", whatever that is. But that's not the standard I cited for my canon of scripture.

    You write:

    "Where are you going to draw the line? Would you condemn kissing a photo of your wife?"

    We were discussing the views of the early Christians, not my views. Even if we were to agree in rejecting some of the ante-Nicene fathers' views on images, their views would still be relevant to the historical claims of Eastern Orthodoxy.

    You've told me that you "traced through your earlier links and I can't see any evidence there about veneration". You must not have looked much. Here, again, is the relevant article:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/08/perry-robinsons-claims-about-what.html

    You write:

    "The only attempt at a starting point I've heard here is that historically, a few church fathers seemed to think, from the oral tradition, that certain books were apostolic. If the same church fathers said that the apostles taught prayer to saints, you would reject it! So we have a double standard here."

    You're ignoring some factors and distorting others. Again, a historical case for the canon of scripture involves both internal and external evidence. We don't just go by what "a few church fathers seemed to think". We also have data from the Biblical documents themselves, manuscripts, and non-Christian sources, for example. If church father X in the fifth century refers to Peter as the author of 1 Peter and advocates praying to the deceased, it doesn't therefore follow that we must either accept both positions or reject both. If the claim about Petrine authorship of 1 Peter is consistent with the internal evidence of the document, the manuscript record, etc., whereas church father X's claim about praying to the deceased is inconsistent with the Biblical and ante-Nicene data about prayer, then we can be justified in accepting his claim about 1 Peter while rejecting his claim about prayer. Historians make distinctions like these on a regular basis. A source can be credible on one subject while not being credible on another.

    ReplyDelete
  57. >My, you really are rather dim,
    >aren't you? I didn't say "native"
    >language, but "vernacular." These
    >are not synonymous terms. Even Greek
    >varies from one period to another,
    >one place to another, one social
    >class to another.

    If the Greeks had changed their scriptures every time there was a minor shift in the local slang, or producing a version for every social class, then the original writings would be long lost. Aren't you glad they didn't?

    I thought you may be getting at that, but then I though "Nah, he can't be so dim as to advocate a course of action that would have left him without his infallible rule of faith".

    ReplyDelete
  58. >Whether a Protestant church's
    >disunity with other churches is
    >justified would have to be judged
    >case-by-case.

    Protestants don't have a standard or concept of unity. Every person in the congregation has their own opinion of the worthiness of every other church. You can never say that two protestant denominations or independent churches have unity or not.

    >You can't get to such a number
    >unless you include some relatively
    >minor differences among the groups
    >you're counting as separate
    >denominations.

    Who is to say what is a minor difference when there is no standard? Some protestants draw such a small circle they are the only ones who can stand in it. Others see no difference of any substance between independant baptists and Roman Catholics.

    You seem to be advocating the position that this denomination in the Philippines that takes communion once per year, is only a minor difference. Let me tell you more. They have a rather fuzzy position on the trinity. It's hard to nail them down because they have a policy of not making any "non-scriptural" statements. Very laudible for a sola scriptura church I guess! They're not clearly affirming it nor denying it.

    So do they get their own denomination in your personal schism index yet?

    >And now you're further qualifying
    >your argument by acknowledging
    >that there were "schismatics" in
    >the first millennium. But wouldn't
    >you apply that same term or
    >something similar to Protestants?
    >If there were "schismatics" in the
    >first millennium, and there are
    >"schismatics" today, then why did
    >you claim that there was only one
    >denomination in the first
    >millennium, but thousands today?

    I was hoping you would acknowledge the obvious that these groups were heretics not worthy of counting among the churches. But if not, should I count the Jehovah's witnesses and equally way out groups among the thousands of denominations today? Hey let's go the whole hog and count all the Mohammedan sects in our count of denominations.

    >You tell us that men like Cyprian
    >and Jerome thought that there was
    >one church. So does every other
    >professing Christian I'm aware of.
    >That doesn't mean that they all
    >have the same one church in mind
    >or that they're referring to one
    >denomination. Even a highly
    >visible concept of the church can
    >involve the sort of governmental
    >independence and doctrinal
    >differences that most people would
    >distinguish from "one
    >denomination".

    Of course it's highly anachronistic to be talking about denominations among the apostolic churches in the first centuries.

    One thing all these early Christians did is distinguish the One church from the schismatic group, was by the apostolic succession. If you had the apostolic succession, you were at least prima facae in the One church. If you didn't, then you certainly were not in the one church.

    Thus there is no way that if you transported your church into the early centuries, that the One church would consider you part of the One church, even if your beliefs were fairly similar, which I would submit they are not anyway.

    >If we're only to count what you
    >consider true churches, then why
    >did you refer to thousands of
    >Protestant denominations? Do you
    >consider those Protestant churches
    >to be true churches?

    No I don't, but it doesn't mean I can't count the schismatic groups.

    >The reality of rival churches is
    >one of the reasons why Roman
    >Catholicism has developed a
    >concept of antipopes.

    Rival churches and rival popes is what is called uncanonical. Both sides acknowledge it is against the rules, but they are having trouble sorting out the problem in the short term.

    You're talking about something different: multiple churches and both sides think it is fine and dandy. Completely different understandings of having One church.

    >you've criticized Protestants for
    >disagreements as minor as how
    >often they celebrate communion. If
    >such minor differences are to be
    >considered as representative of
    >some sort of unacceptable
    >disunity, then would you tell us
    >how you supposedly know that all
    >churches within a single city in
    >the first millennium had no such
    >differences?

    Well for one thing, liturgies were standard, and communion was part of the liturgy, so it is rather far fetched to suggest that some may have been taking communion once per year.

    >And we don't think that
    >"combining" in the sense you've
    >referred to is necessary in order
    >to consider another church
    >orthodox. You keep assuming that
    >unity is to be denominational. How
    >do you know that?

    1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.

    From a protestant point of view, one might "go out from us", because they want to form a different denomination. According to you this is perfectly normal and fine.

    >Your "point" keeps changing.
    >Initially, you said that there was
    >only one denomination, and you
    >suggested that differences as
    >minor as how often communion is
    >celebrated are unacceptable. Now
    >you're acknowledging that there
    >was division, but you tell us that
    >those who divided "took it very
    >seriously". Saying that those who
    >divided took it seriously isn't
    >the same as your initial claim
    >that there weren't any such
    >divisions.

    I never said there weren't any disagreements, I said there weren't denominations. You seem to want to paint these disagreements as the same as denominations, but the church solved these problems by meeting in council and sorting out the issues. They didn't just say you do your thing, I'll do mine. This shows that the church was One in a way that modern protestant denominationalism is not, which makes virtually no attempt to meet in coucil, and has no success whatsoever in ultimately solving problems leading to unity.

    >Is it your position that somebody
    >born in a Montanist family, a
    >Donatist family, a Roman Catholic
    >family, a Jehovah's Witnesses
    >family, etc. shouldn't investigate
    >his church's claims? Are you
    >saying that "believing what the
    >pastor tells you without question"
    >is a good thing?

    It's easy to find out what the Tradition is concerning child baptism. It's hard, even in this modern day of printed bibles and commentaries to find out the sola scriptura position.

    >The people alive at the time of
    >the rise of Arianism didn't live
    >until 1000 A.D. They had to make a
    >judgment about the Arianism that
    >was popular in their day. What if
    >Eastern Orthodoxy becomes
    >increasingly unpopular with the
    >passing of time? Should we judge
    >it in the manner in which you're
    >judging Arianism? Maybe future
    >generations will dismiss your
    >church councils in much the same
    >way you're dismissing the Arians'
    >councils.

    I highly doubt that Arians looked to the apostolic tradition. In fact they maybe the first proto sola scripuralists. At that time, Christians would have had to evaluate the apostolic tradition in its entirety to see that Arianism was an innovation. Now, later in history, it is far clearer because Arianism died out, that it was not of God.

    I would suggest that you evaluate the tradition to judge between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Obviously I think Orthodoxy keeps to the traditions. If Orthodoxy completely dies out, yes life will be simpler for you. You will know that Roman Catholicism is true. Obviously I don't think this will happen.

    >Theoretically, the testimony of
    >one or two people who knew the
    >apostle John could be sufficient,
    >even if a large number of people
    >rejected Johannine authorship
    >later on.

    Fine. Give us the quotes from one or two people who knew John personally, who can attest that he wrote Revelation. Let's see if your stated level of sufficiency is actually met.

    >I haven't argued that a book
    >should be accepted just because X
    >number of people accepted it. You
    >don't seem to understand the
    >position you're attempting to
    >critique.

    So protestants determine their canon, not from everyone else, but from their personal evaluation of these historical sources?

    1) No, 99.9999% of protestants don't do that.

    2) If you suggest they do that, this is yet ANOTHER obstacle in front of the new believer finding the true church.

    3) If protestants really did that we would have a whole new round of schisms based on canon.

    >As I said before, Paul also worked
    >with and was helped by laymen, not
    >just elders.

    Which is irrelevant to determining the authority of church councils.

    >The fact that elders assist Paul
    >in some manner doesn't logically
    >lead us to the conclusion that we
    >should accept the decisions in
    >Acts 15 on the basis of the
    >authority of those elders.

    The text doesn't say they "helped in some manner". Rather it says Paul the great apostle went and consulted the elders. And the elders pronouced judgment on what "seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us". Don't try and make it all so vague.

    >Acts 15 didn't occur "apart from
    >apostles".

    The elders were able to take part in a decision "that seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" as authoritative in the church.

    >If the passage is "too vague",
    >then that's your problem, not
    >mine.

    No, it's your problem because you're the one whose position relies on the perspicuity of scripture outside of the apostolic church. All I have to do is present a plausible interpretation of the precedent Acts 15 sets, and sola scriptura is hosed.

    >You're telling me that I have to
    >defend something that I don't
    >believe. I don't claim that the
    >apostles' authority is "to the
    >exclusion of all else". Do we
    >conclude that parents don't have
    >any authority, since their
    >authority is subordinate to the
    >authority of God?

    We are talking in the context of church doctrine, not authority over your pet cat. Don't obfuscate. And in that context you have no secondary authorities, right?

    >Paul opens and closes some of his
    >letters in the name of the people
    >who are with him, his co-workers.
    >It doesn't therefore follow that
    >those co-workers must have been
    >just as authoritative as Paul.

    Right, so maybe you should get out the scissors and excise a few verses huh? Who told you that these verses were also God-breathed?

    On the other hand Paul explicitly says he went up to CONSULT THE ELDERS. This is foolish if the elders have no such authority.


    >Scripture repeatedly refers to the
    >apostles as the highest rank in
    >the church (1 Corinthians 12:28,
    >Ephesians 2:20, etc.), as do many
    >early post-apostolic sources. The
    >fact that the apostles worked with
    >elders in Acts 15 doesn't prove
    >that elders must have equal
    >authority.

    The existence of grades of authority doesn't refute the fact they had authority, and the type of authority in question in Acts 15 is doctrinal.

    >You seem to have a lot of
    >misconceptions about sola
    >scriptura and Protestantism. The
    >fact that some people disagree
    >with my interpretations of
    >scripture doesn't prevent me from
    >being confident about my
    >interpretations. I can be
    >confident on the basis of the
    >evidence supporting my view, even
    >if other people disagree with my
    >view.

    If the opposing point of view is plausible, and especially if the issue is foundational, like the authority of councils, or the role of oral tradition, then sola scriptura is hosed.

    >You can't arrive at the conclusion
    >that there is a church, that such
    >an entity should be listened to,
    >etc. unless you first engage in a
    >lot of personal interpretation.

    A valid objection by a philosophical naval-gazer, but the problem is, this just isn't the way the world works. It certainly didn't work that way prior to the completion of enscripturation (and the failed BIG CUTOVER), and it doesn't even work in protestantism today. You don't find protestant churches preaching to people that they should examine the historical evidence for apostolic authorship, figure out the canon, buy some commentaries and books on exegesis and do an introductory Greek course, make a systematic theological framework, evaluate churches against the criteria, determine the true churches, and join one. No! You find protestant churches preaching "This is the truth, join us!" And people do. They don't go through the above procedure. People are predisposed to the belief that there is a church and it should be listened to.

    >You keep burning straw men. Where
    >did I say what you describe above?
    >I didn't. If my belief that the
    >Nicene Creed is a subordinate
    >authority (under the authority of
    >scripture) is equivalent to
    >viewing the Nicene Creed as a
    >"waste of time", then should we
    >conclude the same about all of the
    >subordinate authorities in your
    >life? Should we conclude that you
    >view your pastor's teachings as a
    >"waste of time", since your pastor
    >doesn't have the authority of an
    >ecumenical council when he speaks?

    If it's not a waste of time, why such opposition to the authority of ECFs? You're keen to ferret out a contradiction in the ECFs so that you can throw out everything they say that doesn't meet your standards of being explicitly taught in scripture. But that leaves the Creed and the Fathers with no authority at all beyond you and your bible under a tree. You're pretending it isn't so, but functionally it is so.

    >Is it a "waste of time" for
    >children to consider the counsel
    >of their parents, since their
    >parents aren't as authoritative as
    >God?

    In the children analogy, children wouldn't have to believe anything their parents say unless it was written, and written clearly enough and explicitly enough that they realize it and interpret it the way they do.

    >Just as a Protestant could
    >theoretically "throw out" a book
    >as non-canonical, you could
    >theoretically "throw out" some
    >belief that you don't think
    >qualifies as Eastern Orthodox
    >Tradition. The fact that these
    >things have to be pointed out to
    >you doesn't speak well for your
    >knowledge of the issues.

    I could throw out an EO tradition, but that would be contrary to the teachings of EO.

    However if a protestant threw out a book of the bible, there isn't really any tenet of the protestant religion that argues against it. Depending what the book is, you may be able to form a pretty darned good argument for kicking it out.

    That's a major difference.

    >I reject your assertion that the
    >entire realm of historical
    >evidence related to the Biblical
    >canon is equivalent to Eastern
    >Orthodox Tradition.

    If that position is reasonable, you'll have no problem proving conclusively that 3 John is apostolic and canonical. Please do so. If you can't, I can come to no other conclusion than that you obtained your canon from Orthodoxy.

    >Judging from your willingness to
    >write so much in so many threads,
    >I doubt that you have much concern
    >about how this thread "has already
    >gone on too far".

    I can't remember what your question was, but nominate a more convenient forum and I may be willing to answer it.

    >How do you know that there isn't
    >some oral tradition of the apostle
    >John that's been passed down in
    >some area of the world you aren't
    >familiar with, an oral tradition
    >that would change your conclusion
    >that Eastern Orthodoxy has the
    >authority it claims to have?

    Well, the idea of a secret tradition would violate a central tenet of Orthodoxy which is Catholicity. But I would think you would have a very real concern about a historical fact coming to light that disproves the canonicity of some book of the bible.

    >I don't have to be able to date
    >the origin of when it was
    >appropriate to practice sola
    >scriptura in order to reach a
    >confident judgment that it's
    >appropriate to practice it today.
    >I'm not living in the second or
    >third century, so I don't have to
    >know whether sola scriptura was
    >appropriate for a given individual
    >who lived then.

    I disagree. If your position is an impossible natural development from the apostolic teaching and church that they set up, then it can't be of God. It would be a Frankenstein.

    >How would the fact that people
    >disagree about the canon prevent
    >somebody from following what he
    >believes is the correct canon? It
    >wouldn't.

    That would result in the protestant explosion of denominations, but multiplied ten fold. Is that what God planned?

    >I'm not the one who cited "general
    >acceptance" as my standard. You
    >cited that standard for ecumenical
    >councils and "Tradition", whatever
    >that is. But that's not the
    >standard I cited for my canon of
    >scripture.

    Ahh yes, your personal evaluation of the historical evidence. Evidence that confused the early church leading to disputes over various books like 2 Peter. But you of course would have got it right because... I guess because you are smarter than the rest? Or more spiritual perhaps? Or maybe just because you would have been just a top line literate scholar had you lived in the 1st century (you hope).

    >Again, a historical case for the
    >canon of scripture involves both
    >internal and external evidence. We
    >don't just go by what "a few
    >church fathers seemed to think". >We also have data from the
    >Biblical documents themselves,
    >manuscripts, and non-Christian
    >sources, for example.

    In this case, the external evidence of doubt surrounding 2 Peter combined with the internal evidence of scholarship that seems to indicate it has a different author to 1 Peter should have led you to excise it. Why havn't you?

    Of course again, you are presupposing very sophisticated modern scholarship to be able to evaluate internal evidence, of a kind that was probably never done prior to the 20th century, and unlikely to be available to the average Christian prior to the late 20th century. This does not bode well for a biblical model of authority about the canon.

    >Historians make distinctions like
    >these on a regular basis. A source
    >can be credible on one subject
    >while not being credible on
    >another.

    That's pretty sophisticated distinctions to make even for a historian. Again making it a near impossible feat as a source of authority for Christians.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Orthodox writes:

    “Protestants don't have a standard or concept of unity. Every person in the congregation has their own opinion of the worthiness of every other church. You can never say that two protestant denominations or independent churches have unity or not.”

    The fact that some Protestants disagree with me about the orthodoxy of some churches doesn’t prove that I can’t have a standard of unity. If I consider the Roman Catholic Church unchristian, whereas another Protestant considers it Christian, the fact that the two of us disagree on that issue doesn’t prove that I don’t have a standard of unity, nor does it prove that the other Protestant doesn’t have one. Similarly, if a liberal Eastern Orthodox politician supports widespread legalized abortion, another Eastern Orthodox who doesn’t think much about theology believes that all religions are basically the same, etc., whereas other Eastern Orthodox hold contrary views, I wouldn’t conclude that you therefore have no standard on such issues. Just as there are some Eastern Orthodox who misinterpret or are faithful to their rule of faith in some other way, there are some Protestants who misinterpret or are otherwise unfaithful to theirs.

    You keep assuming a denominational concept of unity. But whether unity has to be denominational is one of the issues under dispute. You can’t assume your conclusion without arguing for it.

    You write:

    “Who is to say what is a minor difference when there is no standard?”

    I haven’t said that there’s no standard.

    You write:

    “Some protestants draw such a small circle they are the only ones who can stand in it. Others see no difference of any substance between independant baptists and Roman Catholics.”

    Are you saying that all Eastern Orthodox agree with each other about issues related to unity? I don’t deny that some Protestants disagree with my view of unity. How does their disagreeing with me prove that I have no standard? I don’t have to have approval from all other Protestants in order to have a standard and to be confident about it.

    You write:

    “You seem to be advocating the position that this denomination in the Philippines that takes communion once per year, is only a minor difference. Let me tell you more. They have a rather fuzzy position on the trinity.”

    You’re changing your argument in the middle of a discussion again. Earlier, you only mentioned the communion issue. The fact that you’ve changed your standard is an indication that you realize that your initial argument was wrong.

    And you still aren’t telling us what this church is, how you know that it’s Protestant, and how it’s relevant to this discussion. If some church in another country, a church I’d never heard of before, is “fuzzy on the Trinity”, that fact doesn’t prevent me from being confident about the Trinity, being confident that I have unity with other churches, etc.

    You write:

    “I was hoping you would acknowledge the obvious that these groups were heretics not worthy of counting among the churches.”

    Are you saying that the bishops Stephen and Firmilian, two of the examples I cited, were “heretics not worthy of counting”? When the churches of Milan and others were out of communion with the church of Rome after the Second Council of Constantinople, were they “heretics not worthy of counting”? If you can dismiss so many churches as not worthy of being counted, then why can’t I dismiss Eastern Orthodoxy and other groups I disagree with in the same manner? If only the groups I consider orthodox are to be counted, then I can claim that all of the churches “worthy of counting” meet my standard of orthodoxy and, thus, my standard of unity. What would that prove?

    You write:

    “Of course it's highly anachronistic to be talking about denominations among the apostolic churches in the first centuries.”

    You began this discussion by saying that there was one denomination a thousand years ago. Why did you approve of the terminology if you didn’t want it to be used?

    You write:

    “One thing all these early Christians did is distinguish the One church from the schismatic group, was by the apostolic succession. If you had the apostolic succession, you were at least prima facae in the One church. If you didn't, then you certainly were not in the one church.”

    Another assertion without evidence. Who are the “these Christians” you have in mind? The ones you approve of, while dismissing any who held a different view?

    You write:

    “No I don't, but it doesn't mean I can't count the schismatic groups.”

    If you’re going to count “schismatic groups” that exist today, even ones that may not believe in the Trinity, then you need to count such groups in the first millennium also. And if you count such groups in the first millennium, then your initial claim that there was only one denomination at that time is highly inaccurate.

    You write:

    “You're talking about something different: multiple churches and both sides think it is fine and dandy. Completely different understandings of having One church.”

    You’re changing your argument. You initially said that there was only one denomination. You’re now arguing that although there were divisions, the people involved didn’t consider the divisions “fine and dandy”. But their dissatisfaction with those divisions doesn’t change the fact that there were divisions.

    And would you tell us how you know that all Baptists, for example, think that Presbyterian disagreements with Baptist belief are “fine and dandy”? The fact that Baptists accept Presbyterians as orthodox in a broad sense doesn’t mean that they consider every Presbyterian belief “fine and dandy”. You can accept a person in one sense while thinking they should change in another sense. The same is true of relations between churches.

    You write:

    “From a protestant point of view, one might ‘go out from us’, because they want to form a different denomination. According to you this is perfectly normal and fine.”

    You’ve cited 1 John 2:19 to argue that unity is denominational. Where does that passage suggest a denomination?

    A term like “go out from us” can be defined in multiple ways. Your assumption that forming a denomination is equivalent to going out in the sense of 1 John 2:19 is question begging. Do you apply that interpretation consistently? When 1 John 2 refers to those who went out, it’s referring to heretics, non-Christians. Since Roman Catholicism is a different denomination than Eastern Orthodoxy, are you saying that Roman Catholics “went out” in the heretical sense of 1 John 2? If that’s what you’re saying, then what about the Eastern Orthodox who hold a more ecumenical view of Roman Catholicism than you do? Do you have different standards of unity? Didn’t you say that having such different standards is unacceptable?

    You write:

    “You seem to want to paint these disagreements as the same as denominations, but the church solved these problems by meeting in council and sorting out the issues.”

    More assertions without evidence. The fact that some people sometimes held councils in an attempt to settle a dispute doesn’t prove that everybody settled every dispute or that every dispute was settled by means of a council. When did Hippolytus and the churches he refers to hold a council that settled their disputes? When did Stephen and Firmilian settle their dispute with a council? Have the disagreements between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy been settled with a council? No, and it’s been several hundred years now. If we can wait hundreds of years for that settlement, then how can you claim that Protestant churches should be dismissed because no settlement has been achieved yet? Why should we accept your standard to begin with? You keep assuming that whatever you agree with that was done by the Christians of the first millennium who are approved by you (while all other Christians of that era are dismissed) is the standard by which we should behave. You need to prove it rather than just asserting it.

    You write:

    “This shows that the church was One in a way that modern protestant denominationalism is not, which makes virtually no attempt to meet in coucil, and has no success whatsoever in ultimately solving problems leading to unity.”

    Protestantism is a group of denominations rather than a single denomination, much like “Western Christianity”, “North African Christianity”, etc. The fact that a church is considered part of the Protestant movement doesn’t mean that it can be held responsible for everything that’s done by every other Protestant church. Similarly, the fact that some non-Eastern-Orthodox churches in the East are considered part of “Eastern Christianity” doesn’t mean that your Eastern Orthodox church is responsible for what each of those other churches in Eastern Christianity is doing. If some Protestant churches are less concerned with unity than they ought to be, it doesn’t therefore follow that every other Protestant church must not be concerned enough about it.

    Why should we accept your claim that “meeting in council” is the right way to achieve unity? You keep assuming your definition of unity, a definition we reject. Have your differences with Roman Catholics been resolved by “meeting in council”? It’s been several hundred years now. There are many Baptists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, etc. who have more unity with each other than you have with Roman Catholics. According to you, at least if you’re to be consistent, Roman Catholics are among the heretics of 1 John 2:19. I don’t consider people like Steve Hays and Paul Manata to be under the condemnation of 1 John 2:19, even though they attend different churches than I do.

    You write:

    “It's easy to find out what the Tradition is concerning child baptism.”

    In another thread, I quoted David Wright, one of the foremost scholars in the world on the history of infant baptism. Though he’s a paedobaptist, he agrees with much of what credobaptists say about the history of infant baptism. You responded to me, in that thread, by dismissing David Wright without any argument. If it’s “easy” to see that “the Tradition” agrees with you on infant baptism, then why does such a prominent scholar of infant baptism disagree with you? Why don’t you interact with the evidence I’ve cited against infant baptism? Why do you repeatedly tell us that your beliefs are obvious without presenting arguments to that effect?

    You write:

    “I would suggest that you evaluate the tradition to judge between Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism.”

    In other words, I should rely on my personal interpretation of ancient documents? That doesn’t seem to be consistent with some of your other comments in this thread. Then again, it is consistent with some of the comments you’ve made. That’s one of the advantages to your double-mindedness.

    You write:

    “If Orthodoxy completely dies out, yes life will be simpler for you.”

    Since I don’t accept your ridiculous position of waiting to see how popular a belief becomes or remains, so my life is already simpler. Eastern Orthodox doctrine is already dead, since the apostles condemned it (so did many of the church fathers).

    You write:

    “Give us the quotes from one or two people who knew John personally, who can attest that he wrote Revelation. Let's see if your stated level of sufficiency is actually met.”

    You’re distorting what I said. I said that theoretically the testimony of one or two such people would be sufficient. I didn’t say that such testimony would be the only manner of verifying a book’s canonicity. For some books of scripture, we do have the testimony of people who seem to have known one or more of the apostles, but that isn’t necessary.

    You write:

    “So protestants determine their canon, not from everyone else, but from their personal evaluation of these historical sources?”

    Once again, you’re distorting what I said. I was referring to a historical case for our canon. There’s a difference between an objective case and a subjective case. Similarly, though some Eastern Orthodox are knowledgeable of what Irenaeus, Athanasius, and other historical sources wrote and did, the large majority of Eastern Orthodox don’t know much about Biblical or patristic history. An Eastern Orthodox making an objective historical case for the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith would cite historical evidence, but it doesn’t therefore follow that he’s claiming that every Eastern Orthodox does the same. Just as not every individual Eastern Orthodox needs to know a large amount about the historical evidence for the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith, not every Protestant needs to know a large amount about the historical evidence for his rule of faith.

    You write:

    “Which is irrelevant to determining the authority of church councils.”

    I wasn’t addressing church councils. I was addressing authority issues in general. Does the fact that Paul worked with laymen in some circumstances prove that those laymen had just as much authority as Paul in what they did together? If Paul writes a letter in the name of multiple people, does it therefore follow that all of those people must have equal authority with Paul? No, it doesn’t. Similarly, Paul can work with the elders of Acts 15 while having more authority than they had. You still aren’t demonstrating any connection between Acts 15 and your concept of the authority of later church councils.

    You write:

    “The elders were able to take part in a decision ‘that seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us’ as authoritative in the church.”

    How does the fact that the decision “seemed good” to the elders suggest that they didn’t have less authority than the apostles? Nothing you’re mentioning implies that the elders weren’t of lesser authority than the apostles.

    You write:

    “No, it's your problem because you're the one whose position relies on the perspicuity of scripture outside of the apostolic church. All I have to do is present a plausible interpretation of the precedent Acts 15 sets, and sola scriptura is hosed.”

    I reject your definition of how perspicuous scripture must be for my position to be maintained. Since you can disagree with my interpretation of a passage for a variety of reasons, such as your own sinful desires, how does your disagreeing with my interpretation prove that scripture must not be sufficiently clear? You need to explain how your disagreeing with my view of Acts 15 disproves sola scriptura.

    You write:

    “We are talking in the context of church doctrine, not authority over your pet cat. Don't obfuscate. And in that context you have no secondary authorities, right?”

    You’re changing your argument. You initially asked about people, such as apostles and elders. Now you’re asking about doctrine. Both of our belief systems have only one set of doctrines. But both systems also have a hierarchy of leaders, with one authority figure being above another. Similarly, the apostles could work with the elders in Acts 15 while having more authority than those elders.

    You write:

    “On the other hand Paul explicitly says he went up to CONSULT THE ELDERS. This is foolish if the elders have no such authority.”

    It’s “foolish” for the President of the United States to consult his advisors? It’s “foolish” for a business to accept ideas from its employees? It’s “foolish” for a church pastor to work with his deacons and other lower-level leaders in order to organize the church and set policy in place?

    You write:

    “The existence of grades of authority doesn't refute the fact they had authority, and the type of authority in question in Acts 15 is doctrinal.”

    How do you know that elders would be able to define doctrine with the authority of the apostles? You don’t. I accept Acts 15 on the basis of apostolic authority. If you can get your post-apostolic elders to hold a council with the apostles, then I’ll accept that council as I accept Acts 15.

    If Acts 15 proves that post-apostolic elders would have “doctrinal authority”, then does Paul’s mentioning of his co-workers in his letters prove that post-apostolic co-workers in the church have “scriptural authority”? Should we conclude that everything written by post-apostolic co-workers in the church is Divinely inspired scripture?

    You write:

    “You find protestant churches preaching ‘This is the truth, join us!’ And people do. They don't go through the above procedure. People are predisposed to the belief that there is a church and it should be listened to.”

    What Protestant preachers appeal to “the church” in that manner? If they aren’t making something like a historical case for their belief system, then they’re more likely to appeal to the convicting work of the Holy Spirit, for example, rather than “the church”. And, of course, both a more objective appeal and a more subjective appeal can be made. If a person doesn’t know much about church history, then a Protestant can appeal to the general historical consensus that the New Testament books are apostolic, general arguments for Jesus’ resurrection, etc. Similarly, an Eastern Orthodox who is trying to convert people would have to adjust his approach according to the person he’s addressing. If you’re going to say that an Eastern Orthodox can just make an unargued appeal to church authority, then why can’t a Protestant just make an unargued appeal to the Bible or the Holy Spirit, for example? Yes, the person may ask for an argument supporting such an appeal, but people can ask for supporting arguments for church authority as well. Why should we assume that your Eastern Orthodox appeals to church authority are sufficient, while Protestant appeals to the Bible or the Holy Spirit, for example, aren’t?

    You write:

    “In the children analogy, children wouldn't have to believe anything their parents say unless it was written, and written clearly enough and explicitly enough that they realize it and interpret it the way they do.”

    If the parents had died nearly two thousand years ago, and the written documents were what was left of their teachings, then, yes, those documents would represent parental authority. Similarly, you limit yourself to what you consider the Traditions of the church. Let me paraphrase your example above:

    “In the children analogy, children wouldn't have to believe anything their parents say unless it preserved in Tradition, and preserved clearly enough and explicitly enough that they realize it and interpret it the way they do.”

    You write:

    “However if a protestant threw out a book of the bible, there isn't really any tenet of the protestant religion that argues against it. Depending what the book is, you may be able to form a pretty darned good argument for kicking it out.”

    You can’t have it both ways. If there isn’t good evidence for a book of the Bible, then why would it supposedly be a bad thing for that book to be rejected? Do you regret Eastern Orthodoxy’s rejection of The Shepherd Of Hermas, for example? What you’re doing, apparently, is beginning with the assumption that we have a correct canon. Then you suggest the possibility of a Protestant rejecting that canon, as if that rejection is something obviously bad. But then you go on to tell us that the evidence against that canon is “pretty darned good”. Then why should we be concerned about the possibility of somebody rejecting it? Because of Eastern Orthodox Tradition? If that Tradition hasn’t defined the canon, if we have no good reason to believe in the authority of that Tradition, then why should we accept a canon based on that Tradition? What supposedly is problematic about Protestants following the evidence where it leads?

    What you’re saying about the evidence for our canon can also be said about the evidence for yours. What if somebody was to convince you that something you thought was part of Tradition actually isn’t? What if somebody gave you a “pretty darned good” argument against some element of Eastern Orthodox Tradition? If you would tell us that you don’t think it will happen, I would say the same about my canon of scripture. You tell us that “I could throw out an EO tradition, but that would be contrary to the teachings of EO”, but it would be contrary only if the teaching in question was a true Tradition. If you were convinced by the evidence that it isn’t a true Tradition, you could reject it. Similarly, scripture forbids me to reject any true book of scripture, but you’re suggesting that I could find out that something I thought was true scripture isn’t. The same could happen with Eastern Orthodox Tradition. As you’ve admitted, even the whole Eastern Orthodox system could someday die out and thereby be falsified.

    You write:

    “If that position is reasonable, you'll have no problem proving conclusively that 3 John is apostolic and canonical. Please do so. If you can't, I can come to no other conclusion than that you obtained your canon from Orthodoxy.”

    I’m not going to get into lengthy discussions of each book of scripture you want to ask about. You’ve refused to give us even the most basic sort of information about identifying your Tradition, yet you keep expecting us to go into detail about multiple books of the Bible. If you want a historical case for 3 John, then consult the relevant scholarly literature.

    You write:

    “If your position is an impossible natural development from the apostolic teaching and church that they set up, then it can't be of God. It would be a Frankenstein.”

    That’s what we say about Eastern Orthodoxy.

    You write:

    “Ahh yes, your personal evaluation of the historical evidence. Evidence that confused the early church leading to disputes over various books like 2 Peter. But you of course would have got it right because... I guess because you are smarter than the rest?”

    And you claim to know better than hundreds of millions of Roman Catholics, Copts, Anglicans, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc. If you can discern which “Tradition” is the right one, then why can’t I discern the right canon? Far more people agree with my canon than agree with your concept of Tradition.

    You write:

    “Of course again, you are presupposing very sophisticated modern scholarship to be able to evaluate internal evidence, of a kind that was probably never done prior to the 20th century, and unlikely to be available to the average Christian prior to the late 20th century. This does not bode well for a biblical model of authority about the canon.”

    Once again, we see a reflection of your ignorance of church history. Detailed arguments about the internal evidence of the New Testament documents were being made long before modern times. Origen made such observations about Hebrews, Dionysius of Alexandria did it with Revelation, etc.

    ReplyDelete
  60. orthodox said:

    "If the Greeks had changed their scriptures every time there was a minor shift in the local slang, or producing a version for every social class, then the original writings would be long lost. Aren't you glad they didn't?"

    You never fail to miss the target. Did anyone say anything about changing the Greek scriptures? No one's talking about updating the MSS.

    No, the question at issue is producing updated versions intelligible to the masses.

    For example, there are modern Greek versions of the NT. And the Jews were producing Aramaic Targumin.

    One doesn't lose the MSS in the process.

    You are also shifting ground from your earlier position, according to which all Orthodox believers, even if illiterate, could know the Bible from the public reading of the Scriptures in the worship service.

    To which I asked if vernacular versions were always available.

    After attempting to fudge on that question, you've backed around to the opposite position: namely, it would be impractical to make such versions available to the laity. So your original position is in tatters.

    ReplyDelete
  61. --read the text in conjunction with the ECFs
    >>Here is where you miss the boat completely.
    Are you seriously making the claim that anyone can read ANY text w/o using the grammatico-historical method of exegesis (at least implicitly)?
    Why single out the Scr as the document requiring exegesis but say that ECF writings don't?


    >>>>>>>>You know, part of this thread is just plain church history. Orthodox, if you knew as much church history as you claim, you'd know full well that all the Reformers and, in point of fact, the High Orthodox Reformed and Lutherans up to the mid-18th century were all exceptionally gifted patristics scholars. Just take a glance through their more rigorous works and the records of the debates in which they engaged. It isn't as if Protestantism's own "fathers" didn't do the very thing you tell us we need to do. You would do well to investigate what they had to say and how they read them and employed them at length.

    ReplyDelete
  62. >You never fail to miss the target.
    >Did anyone say anything about
    >changing the Greek scriptures? No
    >one's talking about updating the
    >MSS.
    >
    >No, the question at issue is
    >producing updated versions
    >intelligible to the masses.

    No churches were keeping manuscripts in a foreign tongue. Manuscripts were for use in the churches. Thus the west kept no Greek manuscripts. The Greeks kept no Latin manuscripts. The Copts kept no Greek manuscripts. If the Greeks had updated their manuscripts on every whim of local slang, you would not have the original words of the apostles any more.

    And this whole nonsense is predicated on the claim that 9th C Greeks couldn't understand koine Greek. That's a claim we await evidence for, until such time, stop wasting our time.

    ReplyDelete
  63. >You know, part of this thread is
    >just plain church history. Orthodox,
    >if you knew as much church history
    >as you claim, you'd know full well
    >that all the Reformers and, in point
    >of fact, the High Orthodox Reformed
    >and Lutherans up to the mid-18th
    >century were all exceptionally
    >gifted patristics scholars.

    Which is irrelevant, because the reformers only picked the bits out of the ECFs that they agreed with, and ignored the rest, kind of like how they treated scripture.

    ReplyDelete
  64. >The fact that some Protestants disagree with me about the orthodoxy of some
    >churches doesn’t prove that I can’t have a standard of unity. If I consider the
    >Roman Catholic Church unchristian, whereas another Protestant considers it
    >Christian, the fact that the two of us disagree on that issue doesn’t prove that
    >I don’t have a standard of unity, nor does it prove that the other Protestant
    >doesn’t have one.

    Ahh yet again, every individual with their own "unity" if you can call it that. You have unity with Fred but not Bill. Fred has unity with Bill but Bill not with Fred. Bill reconizes unity with you but Fred doesn't. This is the unity you have when you're not having unity.

    >You keep assuming a denominational concept of unity. But whether unity has to be
    >denominational is one of the issues under dispute. You can’t assume your
    >conclusion without arguing for it.


    There is supposed to be unity in the church. Your problem is that you don't recognize the idea of a visible church, thus you cannot have unity with an etherial idea. Like a lot of protestant things, it has become intellectualized to the point where it has no application in the real world.

    >>“Who is to say what is a minor difference when there is no standard?”
    >

    >I haven’t said that there’s no standard.


    You've already admitted that unity is the belief of the individual, which is no standard at all.

    >Are you saying that all Eastern Orthodox agree with each other about issues
    >related to unity?

    Now you're trying to obfuscate. There is a difference between unity and "issues related to unity". Orthodoxy defines who is in unity, it is not a matter of individual interpretation.

    >You’re changing your argument in the middle of a discussion again. Earlier, you
    >only mentioned the communion issue. The fact that you’ve changed your standard
    >is an indication that you realize that your initial argument was wrong.


    How is it wrong just because YOU don't see a problem with once per year communion? Many protestants do have a problem with that.

    >And you still aren’t telling us what this church is, how you know that it’s
    >Protestant, and how it’s relevant to this discussion. If some church in another >country, a church I’d never heard of before, is “fuzzy on the Trinity”, that
    >fact doesn’t prevent me from being confident about the Trinity, being confident
    >that I have unity with other churches, etc.


    If it matters it is the "Members church of God international". http://www.angdatingdaan.org/

    Because it's fuzzy about the trinity, you'll could potentially have a heck of a difficult time figuring out if you have unity with them or not.


    “I was hoping you would acknowledge the obvious that these groups were heretics not worthy of counting among the churches.”

    >Are you saying that the bishops Stephen and Firmilian, two of the examples I
    >cited, were “heretics not worthy of counting”? When the churches of Milan and
    >others were out of communion with the church of Rome after the Second Council of
    >Constantinople, were they “heretics not worthy of counting”?

    We can hardly compare a temporary rift over a single issue that was healed in a relatively short time, with protestantism which challenges nearly every issue, is not healed after half a millenium, and shows no hope or even desire of being healed. If you think this minor skermish back then justifies the mess that is protestantism, I think you've lost all sense of perspective.

    >>“Of course it's highly anachronistic to be talking about denominations among the
    >>apostolic churches in the first centuries.”
    >

    >You began this discussion by saying that there was one denomination a thousand
    >years ago. Why did you approve of the terminology if you didn’t want it to be
    >used?

    No I never used that terminology or approved it. You introduced it.



    >“One thing all these early Christians did is distinguish the One church from the
    >schismatic group, was by the apostolic succession. If you had the apostolic
    >succession, you were at least prima facae in the One church. If you didn't, then
    >you certainly were not in the one church.”

    >

    >Another assertion without evidence. Who are the “these Christians” you have in
    >mind? The ones you approve of, while dismissing any who held a different view?


    I hardly need to prove the well known fact that early Christians taught apostolic succession. If you want to claim some Christians taught contra to this, the burden is on you to show it.


    >“No I don't, but it doesn't mean I can't count the schismatic groups.”
    >

    >If you’re going to count “schismatic groups” that exist today, even ones that
    >may not believe in the Trinity, then you need to count such groups in the first
    >millennium also. And if you count such groups in the first millennium, then your
    >initial claim that there was only one denomination at that time is highly
    >inaccurate.


    If you approve the counting of these groups, please point out which of these schismatic groups you are happy to be associated with. It's no use pointing to the schismatic groups of the early era to justify your own position, when you can't even justify any of the early schismatic groups.

    >And would you tell us how you know that all Baptists, for example, think that
    >Presbyterian disagreements with Baptist belief are “fine and dandy”? The fact
    >that Baptists accept Presbyterians as orthodox in a broad sense doesn’t mean
    >that they consider every Presbyterian belief “fine and dandy”. You can accept a
    >person in one sense while thinking they should change in another sense. The same
    >is true of relations between churches.


    Orthodox in a broad sense? So not only does every individual protestant have their own standards of unity, but there are also many shades of grey in the middle there. Fairly orthodox, somewhat orthodox, broadly orthodox, slightly orthodox, mainly orthodox. I guess what you have then with every other church and christian is various shades of unity. Quite unified, somewhat unified etc. Kind of like being a little bit pregnant.

    >You’ve cited 1 John 2:19 to argue that unity is denominational. Where does that
    >passage suggest a denomination?
    >

    >A term like “go out from us” can be defined in multiple ways. Your assumption
    >that forming a denomination is equivalent to going out in the sense of 1 John
    >2:19 is question begging. Do you apply that interpretation consistently? When 1
    >John 2 refers to those who went out, it’s referring to heretics, non-Christians.

    Read the passage carefully. It says that you may KNOW that they are not of us because they went out from us. Now according to you, you could go out from a church for two reasons, either because you are a heretic OR because you want to form or join another denomination. But if that's the case, when someone "goes out" from you, you won't automatically KNOW they are not of you, because you'd have to figure out their motives. Sorry, that isn't biblical.

    >Since Roman Catholicism is a different denomination than Eastern Orthodoxy, are
    >you saying that Roman Catholics “went out” in the heretical sense of 1 John 2?

    It's anachronistic to call Roman Catholicism a denomination. And their situation is quite different, and not easy to prove that 1 Jn 2 is applicable.

    >If that’s what you’re saying, then what about the Eastern Orthodox who hold a
    >more ecumenical view of Roman Catholicism than you do? Do you have different
    >standards of unity? Didn’t you say that having such different standards is
    >unacceptable?


    I don't know what an "ecumenical view" is supposed to mean. Having an ecumenical view does not mean you have unity. No Orthodox person would take communion at a Roman Catholic Church, no matter how much warm fuzzy feelings they have.

    “You seem to want to paint these disagreements as the same as denominations, but the church solved these problems by meeting in council and sorting out the issues.”

    >If we can wait hundreds of years for that settlement, then how can you claim
    >that Protestant churches should be dismissed because no settlement has been
    >achieved yet?

    There is no hope of settling things with protestants over a council, because protestants do not accept previous councils that are accepted by all as authoritative. You're doing your best to paint protestants as just no different to any other skirmish in history, but the facts just don't fit.

    >Why should we accept your standard to begin with? You keep assuming that
    >whatever you agree with that was done by the Christians of the first millennium
    >who are approved by you (while all other Christians of that era are dismissed)
    >is the standard by which we should behave. You need to prove it rather than just
    >asserting it.


    You are not willing to name any continuously existing Christian group as your own, thus you believe the gates of hell have prevailed against the church. You probably disagree with that interpretation too I suppose?

    You want to try and obfuscate and confuse everything as much as possible in the early church so you can ignore the authority of tradition. But the same methodology applied to the canon of scripture leaves you without a bible.

    “This shows that the church was One in a way that modern protestant denominationalism is not, which makes virtually no attempt to meet in coucil, and has no success whatsoever in ultimately solving problems leading to unity.”


    >If some Protestant churches are less concerned with unity than they ought to be,
    >it doesn’t therefore follow that every other Protestant church must not be
    >concerned enough about it.


    What about your particular church? Has it been meeting with any other denominations to solve any doctrinal disputes? I'll bet not.

    >Why should we accept your claim that “meeting in council” is the right way to
    >achieve unity?

    Because they did it in the bible? Why didn't they do things the protestant way and just agree to disagree?

    >You keep assuming your definition of unity, a definition we reject. Have your
    >differences with Roman Catholics been resolved by “meeting in council”?

    There have been attempts. There may well be more attempts. High level talks continue.

    >It’s been several hundred years now. There are many Baptists, Presbyterians,
    >Anglicans, etc. who have more unity with each other than you have with Roman
    >Catholics.

    I believe it, because you have faux unity. The unity you have when you don't have unity. Semi-unity and all the middle shades.

    >According to you, at least if you’re to be consistent, Roman Catholics are among
    >the heretics of 1 John 2:19. I don’t consider people like Steve Hays and Paul >Manata to be under the condemnation of 1 John 2:19, even though they attend
    >different churches than I do.


    Of course you don't, because you don't have a visible church, thus you wouldn't be able to pinpoint when they "went out" anyway, and indeed were never with you in unity that they could go out.

    >“It's easy to find out what the Tradition is concerning child baptism.”
    >

    >In another thread, I quoted David Wright, one of the foremost scholars in the
    >world on the history of infant baptism. Though he’s a paedobaptist, he agrees
    >with much of what credobaptists say about the history of infant baptism. You
    >responded to me, in that thread, by dismissing David Wright without any
    >argument. If it’s “easy” to see that “the Tradition” agrees with you on infant
    >baptism, then why does such a prominent scholar of infant baptism disagree with
    >you? Why don’t you interact with the evidence I’ve cited against infant baptism? >Why do you repeatedly tell us that your beliefs are obvious without presenting
    >arguments to that effect?


    Tradition is a living tradition. That means that not only was the church right back then, it is right now and it was right in all the intervening period too. So to prove what is the tradition, one only has to prove that there is a substantial period of time - any period, when there was unity. None of your scholars can prove that there was ever unity against child baptism, but it is quite trivial to find out that for most of history, child baptism was standard. Thus, it is trivial to find out the Tradition in this matter.

    >“I would suggest that you evaluate the tradition to judge between Orthodoxy and
    >Roman Catholicism.”
    >

    >In other words, I should rely on my personal interpretation of ancient
    >documents? That doesn’t seem to be consistent with some of your other comments
    >in this thread. Then again, it is consistent with some of the comments you’ve
    >made. That’s one of the advantages to your double-mindedness.


    There is no double mindedness in combining personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of the church. You seem to think that because we give weight to the opinions of great saints that we must eschew all personal interpretation at all. That's a false dichotomy.

    >“If Orthodoxy completely dies out, yes life will be simpler for you.”
    >

    >Since I don’t accept your ridiculous position of waiting to see how popular a
    >belief becomes or remains, so my life is already simpler.

    False accusation. I never suggested anybody wait to see how popular anything is. All I said was that if a group dies out, the gates of hell have prevailed and it was not the church.

    >Eastern Orthodox doctrine is already dead, since the apostles condemned it (so
    >did many of the church fathers).


    Apparently 1500 or more years of Christians disagree with your interpretation of the apostles. Most Christians would disagree with your interpretation. This is not good empirical evidence that your interpretation is a likely one.

    >>“Give us the quotes from one or two people who knew John personally, who can
    >>attest that he wrote Revelation. Let's see if your stated level of sufficiency >>is actually met.”
    >

    >You’re distorting what I said. I said that theoretically the testimony of one or
    >two such people would be sufficient.

    Why suggest a standard that is sufficient evidence which is not met??

    >I didn’t say that such testimony would be
    >the only manner of verifying a book’s canonicity. For some books of scripture,
    >we do have the testimony of people who seem to have known one or more of the
    >apostles, but that isn’t necessary.

    I can't think of a single case of where someone both claims to have known an apostle, and also describes a book they wrote in enough detail that it can be identified. Well, maybe I can think of one case if your standards of evidence are quite low.

    This is a long long long way from you being able to even begin to prove that say... 2 Peter was written by the apostle.

    I mean let's look at some evangelical scholarship:

    http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=707

    It's not a pretty picture. External evidence is weak. Internal issues are very problematic.

    What is the author's crowning home run in his conclusion? "the fact that it was accepted into the canon in spite of the other pseudo-Petrine literature argues favorably for it"!!!

    The main thing going for 2 Peter is that it is canonical. Contrary to the head in the sand folks on this blog, this author recognizes that the Church is authoritative in recognizing the canon.

    >>“So protestants determine their canon, not from everyone else, but from their
    >>personal evaluation of these historical sources?”
    >

    >Once again, you’re distorting what I said. I was referring to a historical case
    >for our canon. There’s a difference between an objective case and a subjective
    >case. Similarly, though some Eastern Orthodox are knowledgeable of what
    >Irenaeus, Athanasius, and other historical sources wrote and did, the large
    >majority of Eastern Orthodox don’t know much about Biblical or patristic
    >history. An Eastern Orthodox making an objective historical case for the Eastern
    >Orthodox rule of faith would cite historical evidence, but it doesn’t therefore
    >follow that he’s claiming that every Eastern Orthodox does the same. Just as not
    >every individual Eastern Orthodox needs to know a large amount about the
    >historical evidence for the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith, not every Protestant
    >needs to know a large amount about the historical evidence for his rule of
    >faith.


    There is a major difference which is that we recognize the living tradition. Thus examining Irenaeus concerning the Tradition may be useful for instruction and apologetics, but is unnecessary to find the Tradition. Whereas you, having no such concept, really ought, to be consistent, ask every protestant Christian to make their own canon.

    >>“No, it's your problem because you're the one whose position relies on the
    >>perspicuity of scripture outside of the apostolic church. All I have to do is
    >>present a plausible interpretation of the precedent Acts 15 sets, and sola
    >>scriptura is hosed.”
    >

    >I reject your definition of how perspicuous scripture must be for my position to
    >be maintained. Since you can disagree with my interpretation of a passage for a
    >variety of reasons, such as your own sinful desires, how does your disagreeing
    >with my interpretation prove that scripture must not be sufficiently clear? You
    >need to explain how your disagreeing with my view of Acts 15 disproves sola
    >scriptura.


    Re-read what I said. I never said that someone disagreeing with you proves anything. What I said was that if I can present a plausible alternative theory on a major authority issue like councils or oral tradition, then sola scriptura is hosed because scripture turns out not to be perspicuous enough.

    This argument ought to be familiar to you if you've heard James White. He argues that if he can come up with a plausible scriptural alternative to the papacy, then the papacy is hosed, because such a single minded and grand claim to authority must have a clear and unambiguous proof in its favour. This is turned right back at White with his lack of a clear verse for Sola scriptura.

    >“On the other hand Paul explicitly says he went up to CONSULT THE ELDERS. This
    >is foolish if the elders have no such authority.”
    >

    >It’s “foolish” for the President of the United States to consult his advisors?
    >It’s “foolish” for a business to accept ideas from its employees? It’s “foolish”
    >for a church pastor to work with his deacons and other lower-level leaders in
    >order to organize the church and set policy in place?


    Paul set in place elders and asked them to appoint more elders in their place. This succession of elders: Have YOU had extensive consultation with them? Or are you disobeying scripture again?
    “In the children analogy, children wouldn't have to believe anything their parents say unless it was written, and written clearly enough and explicitly enough that they realize it and interpret it the way they do.”


    >>“However if a protestant threw out a book of the bible, there isn't really any
    >>tenet of the protestant religion that argues against it. Depending what the
    >>book is, you may be able to form a pretty darned good argument for kicking it
    >>out.”
    >

    >You can’t have it both ways. If there isn’t good evidence for a book of the
    >Bible, then why would it supposedly be a bad thing for that book to be rejected?

    How about, because it is scripture? Wouldn't it be bad to throw out scripture because the extant evidence is lacking, or any other reason for that matter? Why haven't you thrown out 2 Peter?

    >Do you regret Eastern Orthodoxy’s rejection of The Shepherd Of Hermas, for
    >example? What you’re doing, apparently, is beginning with the assumption that we
    >have a correct canon. Then you suggest the possibility of a Protestant rejecting
    >that canon, as if that rejection is something obviously bad. But then you go on
    >to tell us that the evidence against that canon is “pretty darned good”. Then
    >why should we be concerned about the possibility of somebody rejecting it?
    >Because of Eastern Orthodox Tradition? If that Tradition hasn’t defined the
    >canon, if we have no good reason to believe in the authority of that Tradition,
    >then why should we accept a canon based on that Tradition? What supposedly is
    >problematic about Protestants following the evidence where it leads?


    ??? Eastern Othodox Tradition does define its own canon. Not necessarily by hierarchs or councils as I explained, but it is no less defined for that.

    What is problematic "following the evidence where it leads" ???

    Amazing.

    Where could the evidence lead? What standard of proof will you require to accept a book's authority? This could lead anywhere. It could lead to wholesale rejection of the canon. It could lead to a drastically reduced canon. Luther almost went down that path with the NT as he did with the old. This is a recipe for chaos, or rather further chaos in protestant land.

    And furthermore, this historical method is an anachronism and is necessarily so. Even the ability to check all the evidence is a 20th century thing. This could lead to a continually shifting canon. One minute a book is in because the evidence seems enough. The next minute it is out because some new writing is discovered, or some new internal analysis is done, or some new scholarly argument is published. You are tossed around in the wind and waves with no source of authority.

    This is why ONLY a living tradition can work.


    >What you’re saying about the evidence for our canon can also be said about the
    >evidence for yours. What if somebody was to convince you that something you
    >thought was part of Tradition actually isn’t? What if somebody gave you a
    >“pretty darned good” argument against some element of Eastern Orthodox
    >Tradition? If you would tell us that you don’t think it will happen, I would say
    >the same about my canon of scripture.

    The only valid argument against a particular tradition is that it isn't being lived in all the Orthodox Church. And if it isn't being lived, it isn't dogmatically Eastern Orthodox to begin with.

    But you without a living tradition, you don't even have standard by which to resist throwing out 2 Peter, if the evidence leads you there.

    >You tell us that “I could throw out an EO tradition, but that would be contrary
    >to the teachings of EO”, but it would be contrary only if the teaching in
    >question was a true Tradition. If you were convinced by the evidence that it >isn’t a true Tradition, you could reject it.

    Which would leave me 100% fully Eastern Orthodox, because the only non-true Traditions are non lived ones.

    >Similarly, scripture forbids me to >reject any true book of scripture, but >you’re suggesting that I could find out
    >that something I thought was true scripture isn’t. The same could happen with
    >Eastern Orthodox Tradition. As you’ve admitted, even the whole Eastern Orthodox
    >system could someday die out and thereby be falsified.


    No I didn't say EO could die out. Rather I pandered to answering your hypothetical. Perhaps I shouldn't have.

    >>“If that position is reasonable, you'll have no problem proving conclusively
    >>that 3 John is apostolic and canonical. Please do so. If you can't, I can come
    >>to no other conclusion than that you obtained your canon from Orthodoxy.”


    >I’m not going to get into lengthy discussions of each book of scripture you want
    >to ask about.

    I didn't think ONE short book would be such a burden for you.

    Let's go to an evangelical scholar then since you're bailing out:

    http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1366

    "It should not be surprising that 3 John has little external attestation in light of its brevity and lack of quotable material. “It is not certain that any evidence for it can be cited before the third century".

    Ouch. Internal evidence is lacking. Could well be the same author as 2 John, but that book suffers the same problem. External evidence waits till the 3rd century. (Ouch, we're only a few years away from those icon toting, saint praying church fathers).

    You really ought to be honest and say you don't know what the canon is.

    >You’ve refused to give us even the most basic sort of information about
    >identifying your Tradition, yet you keep expecting us to go into detail about
    >multiple books of the Bible.

    Not true, I can tell you anything you want about identifying the tradition.

    >“If your position is an impossible natural development from the apostolic
    >teaching and church that they set up, then it can't be of God. It would be a
    >Frankenstein.”
    >

    >That’s what we say about Eastern Orthodoxy.


    Ahh, but EO *IS* a natural development from the apostolic church. That is a simple fact of history. If the motto of the Reformed churches is "always reforming", the motto of the Orthodox church is "never reforming". You got to where you are by a major upheaval in the church. Orthodoxy got to be Orthodoxy by a natural process, and your major objections to it are objections that caused no ripple at all in the life of the church. And you can't explain how the BIG CUTOVER was supposed to work and why it failed.

    >>“Of course again, you are presupposing very sophisticated modern scholarship to
    >>be able to evaluate internal evidence, of a kind that was probably never done >>prior to the 20th century, and unlikely to be available to the average Christian
    >>prior to the late 20th century. This does not bode well for a biblical model of
    >>authority about the canon.”
    >

    >Once again, we see a reflection of your ignorance of church history. Detailed
    >arguments about the internal evidence of the New Testament documents were being
    >made long before modern times. Origen made such observations about Hebrews,
    >Dionysius of Alexandria did it with Revelation, etc.

    That was alright for them, but you want every Christian to go back to square one. For one thing, the arguments for canonicity by the early church fathers was based partly on... THE TRADITION! If the had the pure factual certainty of being to ascertain authorship, this wouldn't have been necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Orthodox said:

    "Your problem is that you don't recognize the idea of a visible church, thus you cannot have unity with an etherial idea. Like a lot of protestant things, it has become intellectualized to the point where it has no application in the real world."

    Where did I deny that there's a visible church? I didn't. But the people who make up that visible church don't have to belong to the same denomination in order to be visible.

    And why should we accept your characterization of spiritual unity? Why should we think that agreement in doctrine, for example, "has no application in the real world"? You've never met a person you got along with well because of agreeing with him on so many subjects?

    It's not as if our only options are "one denomination" along the lines of Eastern Orthodoxy or "no application in the real world". There's a large area of possibilities between those two categories, and your persistent refusal to acknowledge that fact doesn't change reality.

    You write:

    "You've already admitted that unity is the belief of the individual, which is no standard at all."

    I said that individuals can have standards that they follow even if other individuals have other standards. The individual isn't the source of the standard. The standard comes from God, through the apostles and the scriptures. If an individual follows the unity standards of scripture, then the fact that other people follow other standards of unity doesn't change the fact that the first individual has an objective, correct standard of unity.

    You write:

    "Now you're trying to obfuscate."

    Of all the people in this thread, you're the least qualified to level that charge against others.

    You write:

    "Orthodoxy defines who is in unity, it is not a matter of individual interpretation."

    And I would say that scripture defines who is in unity. Yet, you keep pointing to individual interpretations of scripture to argue for no standard of unity. If you can distinguish between the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith and individual interpretations of it, then why can't I do the same with scripture?

    You write:

    "How is it wrong just because YOU don't see a problem with once per year communion? Many protestants do have a problem with that."

    Once again, you're misrepresenting the views of the person you're responding to. I specifically said, early in this thread, that I don't agree with taking communion only once a year. I also said that such an issue is relatively minor. The Christians of the first millennium, living at a time when you claim there was only one denomination, had disagreements more significant than whether to celebrate communion once a year or more often. Yet, you make much of a modern church celebrating communion only once a year, whereas you make little of the disagreements among the Christians of the first millennium.

    You write:

    "Because it's fuzzy about the trinity, you'll could potentially have a heck of a difficult time figuring out if you have unity with them or not."

    Are you suggesting that I must examine every church that exists in the world to determine how much unity I have with it? If so, why?

    You write:

    "We can hardly compare a temporary rift over a single issue that was healed in a relatively short time, with protestantism which challenges nearly every issue, is not healed after half a millenium, and shows no hope or even desire of being healed."

    That's not what you originally argued. Initially, you argued that there weren't such divisions. Now you're arguing that there were such divisions, but that they didn't last as long as Protestant divisions. You refer to the "healing" of the early "rifts", but I've given you examples of people who died without any such "healing" taking place. The fact that people with some sort of relation to the original disputants had more unity with each other later in history doesn't prove that the earlier people who were disunified agreed with your standards of unity. You're making a series of dubious assumptions.

    And I ask, again, what about the Eastern Orthodox "rifts" with other groups? Your "rift" with Roman Catholicism has lasted longer than the time that's passed since the Reformation. And what work is your denomination doing to "heal" its relationships with Protestants? How do you know that all Protestants have "no hope or even desire of being healed"? Why should we accept your concept of "healing" to begin with? Why should we assume that joining in unity with your corrupt denomination or a corrupt denomination like Roman Catholicism is something to be desired? Again, you keep making dubious assumptions and unargued assertions.

    You write:

    "If you think this minor skermish back then justifies the mess that is protestantism, I think you've lost all sense of perspective."

    Let me quote the Roman Catholic scholar Klaus Schatz commenting on one of these "minor skirmishes" you refer to, regarding what happened after the Second Council of Constantinople:

    "A North African synod of bishops excommunicated the pope, and the ecclesial provinces of Milan and Aquileia broke communion with Rome. (Milan returned to communion only after fifty years; for Aquileia the breach lasted one hundred and fifty years, until 700). The bishops of Gaul also raised objections. The Spanish Church did not separate from Rome, but throughout the early Middle Ages it refused to recognize this council." (Papal Primacy [Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], p. 53)

    Those are just "minor skirmishes"? How often a church celebrates communion is an issue of more significance? If two Baptist churches agree on every or almost every issue, but are governmentally independent of one another, we're supposed to think that their status as "two denominations" is something significantly bad. But what Schatz describes above is just a "minor skirmish".

    You write:

    "No I never used that terminology or approved it. You introduced it."

    You're mistaken. Here's what you said, before I responded to you for the first time:

    "It may be an unfair exaggeration to say there are 30,000 unique denominations, as is sometimes quoted. Still, there ARE thousands, which is considerably more than 1 that existed a thousand years ago."

    You were discussing denominations. You said that only one existed a thousand years ago. You accepted the "denomination" terminology. You're now distancing yourself from it. You've repeatedly changed your arguments in mid-discussion.

    You write:

    "I hardly need to prove the well known fact that early Christians taught apostolic succession."

    We've already seen many examples of your errant understanding of church history. You repeatedly make assertions without evidence. You need to start making more of an effort to document your claims. You made a claim about what the ancient Christians as a whole believed. Document that claim. If you were as knowledgeable of church history as you profess to be, which you obviously aren't, you would know that many sources say nothing of apostolic succession, and that those who do refer to such a concept define it in a variety of ways and with many qualifiers. Let's see you document a view of apostolic succession that supports your claims, a view held by the ancient Christian church as a whole. You can't do it. All you can do is selectively cite some sources while ignoring what those same sources said that you disagree with and ignoring what other sources said. You do that on issue after issue. Why should anybody find it convincing?

    You write:

    "It's no use pointing to the schismatic groups of the early era to justify your own position, when you can't even justify any of the early schismatic groups."

    You're changing the subject again. I didn't cite disunity in the first millennium "to justify my own position". Rather, I cited the disunity to disprove your false assertions about early unity.

    I can cite many sources of the first millennium with whom I have unity, but I don't define unity in the denominational sense in which you define it.

    You write:

    "Fairly orthodox, somewhat orthodox, broadly orthodox, slightly orthodox, mainly orthodox. I guess what you have then with every other church and christian is various shades of unity. Quite unified, somewhat unified etc. Kind of like being a little bit pregnant."

    Apparently, you haven't given these issues much thought. If you had, maybe you'd realize that the apostles referred to the acceptability of the existence of some disagreements among Christians (Romans 14). Maybe you would realize that if there can be no degrees of unity, then you have no unity with other Eastern Orthodox who disagree with you in their canon of scripture or their beliefs on other subjects about which Eastern Orthodox disagree with one another. Maybe you would realize that your comments above would place Roman Catholics, Copts, and every other non-Eastern-Orthodox group in the position of having no unity with you, which would contradict some of the arguments you've been putting forward in this thread. You ought to give your assertions more thought before you post them. And give them more documentation.

    You write:

    "Now according to you, you could go out from a church for two reasons, either because you are a heretic OR because you want to form or join another denomination. But if that's the case, when someone 'goes out' from you, you won't automatically KNOW they are not of you, because you'd have to figure out their motives. Sorry, that isn't biblical."

    I shouldn't have to explain this to you. Your argument above assumes that "going out" is equivalent to leaving a denomination. Where does John define his terms that way in 1 John? He doesn't. Do you know the historical context of 1 John? The suggestion that leaving the Eastern Orthodox denomination to join a Baptist church, for example, is the sort of thing John had in mind is absurdly distant from the context in which the document was written. People leave denominations for a variety of reasons. They might be moving to another location, and some other denomination's local assembly is nearer to their new location. They might be planting a church, and, although they agree with the beliefs of the church they came from, they believe in the governmental independence of each church. Thus, the new church they plant is independent of the previous church, even though the two churches agree in their beliefs and get along well with one another. Etc. You keep suggesting that leaving one denomination for another can only be done for bad reasons, and you keep assuming that 1 John 2 is referring to leaving a denomination. You haven't justified either assumption.

    You write:

    "It's anachronistic to call Roman Catholicism a denomination. And their situation is quite different, and not easy to prove that 1 Jn 2 is applicable."

    You used the "denomination" terminology before I ever responded to you. Now you're changing your position.

    You said, above, that there can't be degrees of unity. Either you have unity or you don't, like being pregnant. (You cited pregnancy as an illustration.) Well, then, do you have no more unity with other Eastern Orthodox than you have with Roman Catholics? If there are no degrees of unity, then how can you be more united with one than with the other? If you have the same unity with Roman Catholics as you have with other Eastern Orthodox, then why do Roman Catholics need to make any changes? According to your (inconsistent) reasoning, they have full unity already.

    You tell us that the application of 1 John 2:19 to Roman Catholicism is "not easy to prove". That's an inconclusive-sounding phrase. Are you undecided on the issue?

    You write:

    "Having an ecumenical view does not mean you have unity. No Orthodox person would take communion at a Roman Catholic Church, no matter how much warm fuzzy feelings they have."

    So, are you saying that Roman Catholicism has no unity with what you consider to be the one true church? If so, then how can a body entirely separated from the only true church be considered Christian?

    You write:

    "There is no hope of settling things with protestants over a council, because protestants do not accept previous councils that are accepted by all as authoritative."

    What about other groups that have rejected some of the councils you accept? We've given you some examples in this thread. And if you supposedly can't hold councils with Protestants, then what are you doing to try to attain unity with them? If you expect me to keep track of what's happening in some church in the Philippines that you didn't even name until just recently, and I should be trying to determine how much unity I have with that church, then where's the evidence that your denomination is making similar efforts? Does Eastern Orthodoxy keep track of every church that exists in the world, trying to negotiate unity with each one of them?

    You write:

    "You are not willing to name any continuously existing Christian group as your own, thus you believe the gates of hell have prevailed against the church."

    You're mistaken on both points. I claim the universal church as my own. It consists of all believers from all ages, and it crosses denominational lines. I reject your claim that there needs to be one denomination that is the one true church and has existed throughout church history. Similarly, there was no one denomination that existed in Old Testament times. Rather, we see individuals like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, David, Daniel, and Nehemiah and a wide variety of authority structures and institutions (patriarchs, judges, kings, etc.). In the Old Testament era, God worked through a variety of individuals and institutions. His promise that Israel wouldn't be destroyed (Jeremiah 31:35-37) didn't require a denomination, and it wasn't negated by the Babylonian captivity or the widespread neglect of part of God's revelation (Nehemiah 8:13-17).

    Am I saying that the church isn't visible? No. Rather, I'm saying that its visibility isn't defined by being one denomination. Just as Abel's good works were visible, David's reign as king was visible, Nehemiah's building efforts were visible, etc. - but in different ways - the same is true of the Christian church. It's visible in a variety of ways, sometimes in church buildings, sometimes in good works, sometimes in creeds, etc. The concept that it must be visible by means of remaining one denomination is Biblically unproveable and historically implausible.

    You write:

    "Because they did it in the bible? Why didn't they do things the protestant way and just agree to disagree?"

    You tell us that "they did it in the Bible". Again, the Bible mentions one church council, if we're to define the events of Acts 15 as a church council. And since then, there have been only several councils you'd consider ecumenical. The first of those post-apostolic councils didn't even occur until the fourth century. Do you realize how many hundreds of issues were disputed between Acts 15 and Nicaea? Entire generations lived and died without settling a single dispute by means of such a council. Your suggestion that councils should be some sort of common occurrence is ridiculous.

    If two Baptist churches agree on every or almost every issue, but they're governmentally independent of one another, why should they meet in a council to resolve the situation? That assumes that being governmentally independent is a problem that needs to be resolved in the first place, a claim that I reject. If it was a problem to be resolved, why do it through a council? Even where the differences are more significant, such as the doctrinal differences between a Methodist church and a Lutheran church, they still agree about much more than they disagree about. In many communities, they would work together in a lot of contexts while maintaining some differences. Even if you think they aren't doing enough to attain greater unity with each other, their error on that point doesn't require all Protestants to err in the same manner.

    Again, if you're going to hold Protestants to the standards you've been suggesting, then what are you doing to attain unity? Have you been holding councils with each group with which you want to have more unity? What are you doing to attain more unity with other Eastern Orthodox who disagree with you about the canon of scripture, predestination, moral issues, eschatology, etc.? If you and other Eastern Orthodox can live your lives without constantly being involved in councils, negotiations, etc. to try to attain more unity with people who disagree with you, then why can't Protestants do the same? Considering how many professing Christian groups exist in the world, how is constant negotiation even plausible? Should individual Christians give up their work in raising families, studying scripture, helping the poor, etc. in order to constantly tend to negotiations in an attempt to form one worldwide denomination? Or is it acceptable to make some effort toward unity where appropriate while recognizing that there are other things to do in life as well, and that unity often isn't plausible because of the errors of one side of the dispute? I can have unity with Presbyterians and Baptists, for example, on the large majority of issues, and recognize them as brothers in Christ, yet recognize that it seems highly unlikely that they'll change anytime soon on the issues where I think they're wrong. We can still have unity on the most important issues, but the fullest sort of unity won't occur until Heaven. The same principles apply to your disagreements with other Eastern Orthodox.

    You write:

    "I believe it, because you have faux unity."

    Let's use the Presbyterian Church in America as an example. I'm not a member of that group, but I do have a lot in common with them. We share faith in one Triune God, belief in the foundational doctrines Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15, and many other beliefs we have in common. Though we're all sinners and we all stumble in many ways, we try to love one another and often do show love for one another and work together. That's "faux unity"? Then why should we believe that you have true unity with Roman Catholics and others who aren't members of your denomination? Why should we believe that you have true unity with other Eastern Orthodox with whom you disagree on some issues and with whom you sometimes argue? Is your unity "faux unity"?

    You write:

    "Of course you don't, because you don't have a visible church, thus you wouldn't be able to pinpoint when they 'went out' anyway"

    Again, do you know the historical context of 1 John? The heretics John is addressing held highly unusual beliefs. When somebody adopts such beliefs and ceases associating with Christianity, then any Christian can discern that such a person "went out" from Christianity, not from a denomination.

    You write:

    "Tradition is a living tradition. That means that not only was the church right back then, it is right now and it was right in all the intervening period too. So to prove what is the tradition, one only has to prove that there is a substantial period of time - any period, when there was unity. None of your scholars can prove that there was ever unity against child baptism, but it is quite trivial to find out that for most of history, child baptism was standard."

    First you tell us that "the church was right" at all times. Then you tell us that it's only necessary that infant baptism was "standard" for "most of history". What does that mean? As I've shown in previous posts that I've already linked you to, the historical evidence suggests that infant baptism originated after the time of the apostles and only gradually became the dominant view, with some variations. If infant baptism was absent early on, then its becoming popular later doesn't prove that the church always practiced it.

    You write:

    "There is no double mindedness in combining personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of the church. You seem to think that because we give weight to the opinions of great saints that we must eschew all personal interpretation at all. That's a false dichotomy."

    You're the one who set up the "false dichotomy". Just as you claim to be "combining personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of the church", I combine personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of scripture. If your personal interpretations of church teaching are to be considered acceptable because what you're interpreting is an authoritative church, then my personal interpretations of Biblical teaching are to be considered acceptable because what I'm interpreting is an authoritative Bible.

    You write:

    "False accusation. I never suggested anybody wait to see how popular anything is."

    You said that councils are to be regarded as authoritative if they attained general acceptance. If you have to wait to see how popular a council becomes, then how is that not "waiting to see how popular something is"?

    You write:

    "What I said was that if I can present a plausible alternative theory on a major authority issue like councils or oral tradition, then sola scriptura is hosed because scripture turns out not to be perspicuous enough."

    What do you mean by "plausible"? Are you referring to possibility? Many things in life are possible, yet we don't take them seriously. Why would the fact that some "alternative theory" is possible mean that we should consider it a defeater of sola scriptura? If, on the other hand, you're referring to probability, then you have yet to show that your "alternative theories" are plausible in that sense.

    You write:

    "Wouldn't it be bad to throw out scripture because the extant evidence is lacking, or any other reason for that matter? Why haven't you thrown out 2 Peter?"

    If "extant evidence is lacking, or any other reason for that matter", then why should we accept your assumption that a book is scripture? Your reasoning is ridiculous, and you're repeating it even after being corrected. Again, if we lack any reason for considering 2 Peter scripture, then why is rejecting its canonicity supposed to be a bad thing?

    And I'll repeat something else I told you before. I'm not going to get into a defense of each book of the Bible you want to ask about. You're poorly prepared to address such issues, and you've refused to give us even some of the most basic sort of information about your own canon of Tradition. I've given you some examples of Evangelical literature you can consult on canonical issues. I'm not going to take the time to discuss such issues in depth for every Biblical book you decide to mention in your attempts at muddying the waters.

    You write:

    "Eastern Othodox Tradition does define its own canon. Not necessarily by hierarchs or councils as I explained, but it is no less defined for that."

    Where do we find that definition? Can you document it? Or are we supposed to just take your word for it?

    You write:

    "Where could the evidence lead? What standard of proof will you require to accept a book's authority? This could lead anywhere. It could lead to wholesale rejection of the canon. It could lead to a drastically reduced canon. Luther almost went down that path with the NT as he did with the old. This is a recipe for chaos, or rather further chaos in protestant land."

    Once again, you don't seem to have given these issues much thought. The same reasoning you're applying to scripture can be applied to what you call "Tradition". If it's unacceptable for each individual to make his own judgments about what canon of scripture he'll follow, then it's unacceptable for each individual to make his own judgments about what canon of Tradition he'll follow. Your personal judgment to follow Eastern Orthodoxy rather than the Copts, Roman Catholicism, etc. is unacceptable.

    You write:

    "And furthermore, this historical method is an anachronism and is necessarily so. Even the ability to check all the evidence is a 20th century thing. This could lead to a continually shifting canon. One minute a book is in because the evidence seems enough. The next minute it is out because some new writing is discovered, or some new internal analysis is done, or some new scholarly argument is published. You are tossed around in the wind and waves with no source of authority. This is why ONLY a living tradition can work."

    And how do you know that your "living tradition" is the right one? By examining church history? Then you're back to the sort of uncertainties of historical judgment that you just dismissed as unacceptable.

    You write:

    "The only valid argument against a particular tradition is that it isn't being lived in all the Orthodox Church. And if it isn't being lived, it isn't dogmatically Eastern Orthodox to begin with."

    How do you know what's "being lived"? Do you have discussions about every issue with every individual Eastern Orthodox in the world? How do you know what's happening in an Eastern Orthodox church a thousand miles away on a given day? By the time any such information would reach you, it would be historical information (information about the past). And you've told us that basing our judgments on the uncertainties of historical research is unacceptable. You've denied the validity of your own belief system.

    ReplyDelete
  66. >Where did I deny that there's a visible church? I didn't. But the people >who make up that visible church don't have to belong to the same >denomination in order to be visible.


    Perhaps not, but you don't seem to understand the distinction of a visible church.

    Orthodox put a great deal of emphasis on the idea of relationship and of the church being a family. This is biblical. Families know who is in and who is not. You can't just say in your mind "I'm a member of family X" and it is so. Neither can you be in a family and not know who is in it. Now you may have disagreements within the family, but it doesn't stop you being a family unless it reaches the stage of formal divorce.

    >And why should we accept your characterization of spiritual unity? Why >should we think that agreement in doctrine, for example, "has no
    >application in the real world"?

    Doctrine in your head is an invisible unity in an invisible church. At least have the courtesy not to obfuscate your position.


    >It's not as if our only options are "one denomination" along the lines of >Eastern Orthodoxy or "no application in the real world". There's a large >area of possibilities between those two categories, and your persistent >refusal to acknowledge that fact doesn't change reality.


    The only application you've got is unity between two individuals who happen to believe they have unity with each other. There is no congregation or denominational unity, because you can't get everyone in a congregation or denomination to agree who they have unity with. So if the unity of two persons only is church unity, that is flat out ridiculous.

    >>"You've already admitted that unity is the belief of the individual, which
    >>is no standard at all."
    >

    >I said that individuals can have standards that they follow even if other
    >individuals have other standards.

    The great thing about protestant standards is that they aren't standardized!

    >The individual isn't the source of the standard. The standard comes from
    >God, through the apostles and the scriptures.

    There is no scripture saying which things are essential to the faith as a basis for a standard.

    >Are you suggesting that I must examine every church that exists in the
    >world to determine how much unity I have with it? If so, why?


    Why not? The early church did it. The Orthodox church still does it. We have a list of every church we have unity with.

    >That's not what you originally argued. Initially, you argued that there
    >weren't such divisions. Now you're arguing that there were such divisions,
    >but that they didn't last as long as Protestant divisions.

    Yes, there was an odd group here, and a group there, who in a limited geographical area for a limited time broke unity, usually over one or two points of contention. I did originally say "basically" one church. Why you think a few exceptions that prove the rule help you much I don't know.

    >And I ask, again, what about the Eastern Orthodox "rifts" with other
    >groups? Your "rift" with Roman Catholicism has lasted longer than the time
    >that's passed since the Reformation. And what work is your denomination
    >doing to "heal" its relationships with Protestants?

    The church is under no obligation to heal rifts with schismatics, although she sometimes takes the time to do so. Mainly the church is here for any groups who wish to reconcile, and there have been a number of protestant churches who have wholesale joined Orthodoxy.


    >The Spanish Church did not separate from Rome, but throughout the early
    >Middle Ages it refused to recognize this council." (Papal Primacy
    >[Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996], p. 53)


    And the church is capable of keeping Spain in the family if it so chooses despite a disagreement. The church decides what disagreement is tolerated and what isn't.

    >If two Baptist churches agree on every or almost every issue, but are
    >governmentally independent of one another, we're supposed to think that
    >their status as "two denominations" is something significantly bad.

    The problem is not two baptist churches who basically agree on everything, the problem is when they disagree on something, that something is often something that results in some members considering that other church "out" and some will think it "in" the unity. This kind of unity you promote where nobody is unified in knowing where the unity is, is a very sick joke.

    >>"No I never used that terminology or approved it. You introduced it."
    >

    >You're mistaken. Here's what you said, before I responded to you for the
    >first time:

    Ok I concede the correction.

    >>"I hardly need to prove the well known fact that early Christians taught
    >>apostolic succession."
    >

    >We've already seen many examples of your errant understanding of church >history. You repeatedly make assertions without evidence.

    Yes well, I'm continually amazed at your gross ignorance of things Orthodox and the things you want documented. Who would have thought someone claiming to be knowledgeable would want such a thing documented?

    Irenaeus: "But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul" (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).

    Tertullian: ""[The apostles] founded churches in every city, from which all the other churches, one after another, derived the tradition of the faith, and the seeds of doctrine, and are every day deriving them, that they may become churches. Indeed, it is on this account only that they will be able to deem themselves apostolic, as being the offspring of apostolic churches. " (Demurrer Against the Heretics 20 [A.D. 200]).

    Cyprian: "Novatian is not in the Church; nor can he be reckoned as a bishop, who, succeeding to no one, and despising the evangelical and apostolic tradition, sprang from himself. For he who has not been ordained in the Church can neither have nor hold to the Church in any way" (Letters 69[75]:3 [A.D. 253]).

    Augustine: "[T]here are many other things which most properly can keep me in [the Catholic Church’s] bosom. The unanimity of peoples and nations keeps me here. Her authority, inaugurated in miracles, nourished by hope, augmented by love, and confirmed by her age, keeps me here. The succession of priests, from the very see of the apostle Peter, to whom the Lord, after his resurrection, gave the charge of feeding his sheep [John 21:15–17], up to the present episcopate, keeps me here. And last, the very name Catholic, which, not without reason, belongs to this Church alone, in the face of so many heretics, so much so that, although all heretics want to be called ‘Catholic,’ when a stranger inquires where the Catholic Church meets, none of the heretics would dare to point out his own basilica or house" (Against the Letter of Mani Called "The Foundation" 4:5 [A.D. 397]).

    > Let's see you document a view of apostolic succession that supports your
    >claims, a view held by the ancient Christian church as a whole. You can't
    >do it. All you can do is selectively cite some sources while ignoring what
    >those same sources said that you disagree with and ignoring what other
    >sources said. You do that on issue after issue. Why should anybody find it
    >convincing?


    Nonsense. Just more obfuscation from you.

    >Apparently, you haven't given these issues much thought. If you had, maybe
    >you'd realize that the apostles referred to the acceptability of the
    >existence of some disagreements among Christians (Romans 14).

    Which is irrelevant, because the Church knows who is in the family despite disagreements.

    >>"Now according to you, you could go out from a church for two reasons,
    >>either because you are a heretic OR because you want to form or join
    >>another denomination. But if that's the case, when someone 'goes out'
    >>from you, you won't automatically KNOW they are not of you, because you'd
    >>have to figure out their motives. Sorry, that isn't biblical."
    >

    >I shouldn't have to explain this to you. Your argument above assumes that
    >"going out" is equivalent to leaving a denomination. Where does John
    >define his terms that way in 1 John? He doesn't.

    Whatever he means, he certainly means that when you "go out", it is obvious and clear to all so that you may know they are not in the church. Now despite all your obfuscation on this issue, trying to claim John is all fuzzy on terms, the protestant invisible church gives you no way of knowing when you "go out", no matter how you define it. Contrast with Orthodoxy who knows full well when someone is going out. If someone goes out of your congregation to that one in the Philippines you'd have to spend 6 months interviewing the pastors before you could make even a person judgement on whether your friend had "gone out", and even then it would be just your individual belief and not "standard".

    >Do you know the historical context of 1 John? The suggestion that leaving
    >the Eastern Orthodox denomination to join a Baptist church, for example,
    >is the sort of thing John had in mind is absurdly distant from the context
    >in which the document was written.

    Nonsense. Claims without proof.

    >People leave denominations for a variety of reasons. They might be moving
    >to another location, and some other denomination's local assembly is
    >nearer to their new location. They might be planting a church, and,
    >although they agree with the beliefs of the church they came from, they
    >believe in the governmental independence of each church. Thus, the new
    >church they plant is independent of the previous church, even though the
    >two churches agree in their beliefs and get along well with one another.
    >Etc. You keep suggesting that leaving one denomination for another can
    >only be done for bad reasons, and you keep assuming that 1 John 2 is
    >referring to leaving a denomination. You haven't justified either
    >assumption.


    I'm not assuming anything about "bad reasons" for leaving a denomination etc. What I am pointing out is that John is assuming one "denomination" if we want to use that term, because he is assuming that it is always clear when you "go out" so that you "may KNOW" they are not in the church. So it should be clear you are not going out whether you are moving location or planting a new church, because you retain you clear and KNOWN-by-all status as being in the church. Again to state the obvious, Orthodoxy knows where the church is in every location, and in every church planting. You do not.

    >You said, above, that there can't be degrees of unity. Either you have
    >unity or you don't, like being pregnant. (You cited pregnancy as an
    >illustration.) Well, then, do you have no more unity with other Eastern
    >Orthodox than you have with Roman Catholics? If there are no degrees of >unity, then how can you be more united with one than with the other? If
    >you have the same unity with Roman Catholics as you have with other
    >Eastern Orthodox, then why do Roman Catholics need to make any changes?
    >According to your (inconsistent) reasoning, they have full unity already.


    Huh?? We don't have unity with Roman Catholics. We do have unity with the other Orthodox churches. What is not clear?

    >You tell us that the application of 1 John 2:19 to Roman Catholicism is
    >"not easy to prove". That's an inconclusive-sounding phrase. Are you
    >undecided on the issue?


    No I'm not, but this is not the time and place to get into the more difficult cases when the protestant case is oh so clear.

    >>"Having an ecumenical view does not mean you have unity. No Orthodox
    >>person would take communion at a Roman Catholic Church, no matter how
    >>much warm fuzzy feelings they have."
    >

    >So, are you saying that Roman Catholicism has no unity with what you
    >consider to be the one true church? If so, then how can a body entirely
    >separated from the only true church be considered Christian?


    That's like asking how you can be a Christian under a tree in no church. The answer is, you will be in a severely impaired spiritual state.

    >>"There is no hope of settling things with protestants over a council,
    >>because protestants do not accept previous councils that are accepted by
    >>all as authoritative."
    >

    >What about other groups that have rejected some of the councils you
    >accept?

    Talks continue. Sometimes progress is made. The situation with Oriental Orthodox looks particularly promising. But again, the church is not obligated to negotiate with schismatic groups.

    >We've given you some examples in this thread. And if you supposedly can't
    >hold councils with Protestants, then what are you doing to try to attain
    >unity with them?

    Orthodox are in the world council of churches (who are mainly protestant), but it wasn't working very well for a while. They were starting to vote on what the truth is, and the Orthodox wouldn't vote because we are The Church. But again, we're under no obligation to make unity work. You are under obligation to join The Church.

    >If you expect me to keep track of what's happening in some church in the
    >Philippines that you didn't even name until just recently, and I should be
    >trying to determine how much unity I have with that church, then where's
    >the evidence that your denomination is making similar efforts?

    We don't need to do that, we KNOW they are not in the church. You however don't know.

    >Does Eastern Orthodoxy keep track of every church that exists in the
    >world, trying to negotiate unity with each one of them?


    No need to.

    >You're mistaken on both points. I claim the universal church as my own. It
    >consists of all believers from all ages, and it crosses denominational
    >lines. I reject your claim that there needs to be one denomination that is
    >the one true church and has existed throughout church history. Similarly,
    >there was no one denomination that existed in Old Testament times.

    Sure there was, it was called the Jewish nation, which Moses brought out from Egypt. You didn't get out of Egypt in some schismatic group. Earlier on it was Noah's ark, and you didn't survive the flood if you were in a right believing group not in the Ark.

    >Rather, we see individuals like Abel, Enoch, Abraham, David, Daniel, and
    >Nehemiah and a wide variety of authority structures and institutions
    >(patriarchs, judges, kings, etc.).

    Presumably you now have an objection to popes and kings and prophets now ruling churches? Or are they all fine for you too?

    >In the Old Testament era, God worked through a variety of individuals and
    >institutions. His promise that Israel wouldn't be destroyed (Jeremiah
    >31:35-37) didn't require a denomination, and it wasn't negated by the
    >Babylonian captivity or the widespread neglect of part of God's revelation
    >(Nehemiah 8:13-17).


    Israel was a denomination. From your point of view, a Jew could leave Israel, move to Australia, and still be part of Israel with all the promises and so on. That is silly.

    >Am I saying that the church isn't visible? No. Rather, I'm saying that its
    >visibility isn't defined by being one denomination. Just as Abel's good
    >works were visible, David's reign as king was visible, Nehemiah's building
    >efforts were visible, etc. - but in different ways - the same is true of
    >the Christian church. It's visible in a variety of ways, sometimes in
    >church buildings, sometimes in good works, sometimes in creeds, etc. The
    >concept that it must be visible by means of remaining one denomination is
    >Biblically unproveable and historically implausible.


    Implausible? You haven't even shown it isn't true let alone reached the far loftier claim that it isn't plausible. And now good works is a sufficient criteria for the visible church? LOL. That means atheists are in the visible church. This is ridiculous.

    >>"Because they did it in the bible? Why didn't they do things the
    >>protestant way and just agree to disagree?"
    >

    >You tell us that "they did it in the Bible". Again, the Bible mentions one
    >church council, if we're to define the events of Acts 15 as a church
    >council. And since then, there have been only several councils you'd
    >consider ecumenical. The first of those post-apostolic councils didn't >even occur until the fourth century. Do you realize how many hundreds of
    >issues were disputed between Acts 15 and Nicaea? Entire generations lived
    >and died without settling a single dispute by means of such a council.
    >Your suggestion that councils should be some sort of common occurrence is
    >ridiculous.


    Who said they must or must not be a common occurrence? The point is, the option is there when problems can't be resolved by other means.

    >If two Baptist churches agree on every or almost every issue, but they're
    >governmentally independent of one another, why should they meet in a
    >council to resolve the situation? That assumes that being governmentally >independent is a problem that needs to be resolved in the first place, a
    >claim that I reject.

    How come you claim to be informed about Orthodoxy, and you claim to be listening to what I say, and you come out with this nonsense? Orthodoxy consists of a number of governmentally independent churches, so this is not an issue. The issue is that despite these governmentally independent churches, we know where the church is! There isn't some nebulous invisible group of churches who keep the apostolic tradition. For any given congregation I can find out if it is in the church. That is what I call visible.

    > If it was a problem to be resolved, why do it through a council? Even
    >where the differences are more significant, such as the doctrinal
    >differences between a Methodist church and a Lutheran church, they still
    >agree about much more than they disagree about.

    But do they agree about ENOUGH to be considered in unity? Some Methodist and Lutherans would say yes. Others would say no. That is not unity, that is DISUNITY.

    >In many communities, they would work together in a lot of contexts while
    >maintaining some differences.

    In "many" communities? And in the "other" communities I guess they would refuse to work together.

    >Even if you think they aren't doing enough to attain greater unity with
    >each other, their error on that point doesn't require all Protestants to
    >err in the same manner.


    It doesn't require them to, but they do anyway.

    >Again, if you're going to hold Protestants to the standards you've been
    >suggesting, then what are you doing to attain unity?

    Again, we are The Church. We know who is in the church. We are not obligated to do anything. You are the ones who can't agree where the church is, which is disunity.

    >First you tell us that "the church was right" at all times. Then you tell
    >us that it's only necessary that infant baptism was "standard" for "most
    >of history". What does that mean?

    It means that at certain times in history, some people can be confused about the Tradition. That doesn't mean the Church is wrong. So you look to a time in history that there is unambiguous agreement.

    >As I've shown in previous posts that I've already linked you to, the
    >historical evidence suggests that infant baptism originated after the time
    >of the apostles and only gradually became the dominant view, with some
    >variations.

    "Suggests" it originated after the apostles? You see, this is nowhere near a sufficient standard of proof for us. We understand there were some people who differed from the current standard, but without clear unambiguous proof that this is the catholic faith, believed everywhere, that is a nothing argument.

    >If infant baptism was absent early on, then its becoming popular later
    >doesn't prove that the church always practiced it.


    If, if, if. Again, you start off from the position of the skeptic, which logically leads you to no canon.

    >You're the one who set up the "false dichotomy". Just as you claim to be
    >"combining personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of the
    >church", I combine personal interpretation with the authoritative mind of
    >scripture. If your personal interpretations of church teaching are to be
    >considered acceptable because what you're interpreting is an authoritative
    >church, then my personal interpretations of Biblical teaching are to be
    >considered acceptable because what I'm interpreting is an authoritative
    >Bible.


    Again, the problem is not personal interpretation, the problem is personal interpretation that violates the Tradition. I'm sure you would get kicked out of your church too if you publicly and substantially disagreed with the 1689 confession or whatever your standard is, even if you had what you believed scriptural backup, right?? Right?? Same for us, the only difference is, we are The Church.

    >>"False accusation. I never suggested anybody wait to see how popular
    >>anything is."
    >

    >You said that councils are to be regarded as authoritative if they
    >attained general acceptance. If you have to wait to see how popular a
    >council becomes, then how is that not "waiting to see how popular
    >something is"?


    Waiting implies you sit tight until something happens. It is positively unOrthodox to do such a thing.

    >>"What I said was that if I can present a plausible alternative theory on
    >>a major authority issue like councils or oral tradition, then sola
    >>scriptura is hosed because scripture turns out not to be perspicuous
    >>enough."
    >

    >What do you mean by "plausible"? Are you referring to possibility? Many
    >things in life are possible, yet we don't take them seriously. Why would
    >the fact that some "alternative theory" is possible mean that we should
    >consider it a defeater of sola scriptura? If, on the other hand, you're
    >referring to probability, then you have yet to show that your "alternative
    >theories" are plausible in that sense.


    If most of the Christians throughout history have believed that scripture teaches a certain thing, it is quite clearly established that this interpretation at least reaches the level of "plausible", unless of course someone has irrefutable proof otherwise. You have presented no such proof, thus by any measure it is "plausible", and sola scriptura is hosed.

    >>"Wouldn't it be bad to throw out scripture because the extant evidence is
    >>lacking, or any other reason for that matter? Why haven't you thrown out
    >>2 Peter?"
    >>

    >If "extant evidence is lacking, or any other reason for that matter", then
    >why should we accept your assumption that a book is scripture?

    So you are willing to throw out 2 Peter, not only if the extant evidence is lacking, but you're willing to throw it out for any other reason for that matter?

    I think it it WOULD be bad to throw it out, especially for such a low standard as "any reason".

    >And I'll repeat something else I told you before. I'm not going to get
    >into a defense of each book of the Bible you want to ask about.

    No, please be truthful. It's not that you're unwilling to defend each book of the bible, rather you are unwilling to defend ANY nominated book of the bible. You can't go down that path and you know it, because it would be disastrous for your position.

    >You're poorly prepared to address such issues,

    ROFLOL. You wish!

    >and you've refused to give us even some of the most basic sort of
    >information about your own canon of Tradition.

    I don't need a canon of Tradition, because I have a canon of where the church is, by which I can find out whatever I need to know. You don't have a canonical ANYTHING which can act as a starting point for your authority, other than your opinion.

    >>"Eastern Othodox Tradition does define its own canon. Not necessarily by
    >>hierarchs or councils as I explained, but it is no less defined for that."
    >
    >Where do we find that definition? Can you document it? Or are we supposed
    >to just take your word for it?


    You can find it out the same way you would have found it out the last thousand years. You walk into a Church and ask the priest. The priest is in communion with his bishop who is in communion with all the other bishops. If you want to take a short cut, I'm sure you're quite capable of using google.

    >>"Where could the evidence lead? What standard of proof will you require
    >>to accept a book's authority? This could lead anywhere. It could lead to
    >>wholesale rejection of the canon. It could lead to a drastically reduced
    >>canon. Luther almost went down that path with the NT as he did with the
    >>old. This is a recipe for chaos, or rather further chaos in protestant
    >>land."
    >

    >Once again, you don't seem to have given these issues much thought. The
    >same reasoning you're applying to scripture can be applied to what you
    >call "Tradition". If it's unacceptable for each individual to make his own
    >judgments about what canon of scripture he'll follow, then it'
    >unacceptable for each individual to make his own judgments about what
    >canon of Tradition he'll follow. Your personal judgment to follow Eastern
    >Orthodoxy rather than the Copts, Roman Catholicism, etc. is unacceptable.


    The problem is not the use of personal interpretation. The problem is the starting assumption that there isn't a group somewhere which is outside the chaos, which has been led by the Spirit to have the truth. I can look at the issues surrounding any splits and make well informed judgement on who kept the faith (yes, an interpretation). But you can't look 3 John in the same way. There is simply no witnesses as to who wrote it, only an oral tradition, that I am bound to believe as a tradition, but you are not and are in fact positively predisposed to disbelieving.


    >>"And furthermore, this historical method is an anachronism and is
    >>necessarily so. Even the ability to check all the evidence is a 20th
    >>century thing. This could lead to a continually shifting canon. One
    >>minute a book is in because the evidence seems enough. The next minute it
    >>is out because some new writing is discovered, or some new internal
    >>analysis is done, or some new scholarly argument is published. You are
    >>tossed around in the wind and waves with no source of authority. This is
    >>why ONLY a living tradition can work."
    >

    >And how do you know that your "living tradition" is the right one? By
    >examining church history? Then you're back to the sort of uncertainties of
    >historical judgment that you just dismissed as unacceptable.


    Detection of forgeries and pseudepigrapha which represent people actively trying to deceive is orders of magnitude more difficult than simply making a judgement on an issue that has been discussed very widely from every possible angle.

    Furthermore, when it comes to evaluating writings for whether they come from heretics or not, when there is no preexisting body of writing sufficient to resolve the question as to its orthodoxy, your position is flat out impossible.

    >>"The only valid argument against a particular tradition is that it isn't
    >>being lived in all the Orthodox Church. And if it isn't being lived, it >
    >>isn't dogmatically Eastern Orthodox to begin with."
    >

    >How do you know what's "being lived"? Do you have discussions about every
    >issue with every individual Eastern Orthodox in the world? How do you know >what's happening in an Eastern Orthodox church a thousand miles away on a
    >given day?

    I am in contact with my priest who is in contact with the bishop who is in contact with the other bishops.

    >By the time any such information would reach you, it would be historical
    >information (information about the past). And you've told us that basing
    >our judgments on the uncertainties of historical research is unacceptable.

    Zzzz. I never said that. I said that the kind of modern analysis that protestants do would have been unworkable before the modern age. That can't be said for evaluating the competing claims of Rome and Orthodoxy.

    ReplyDelete
  67. Orthodox has, once again, made many assertions without evidence and doesn't seem to be making much of an effort to think through the issues. A lot of this ground has already been covered, here and in other threads. I'm only going to comment on several subjects.

    Orthodox writes:

    "There is no scripture saying which things are essential to the faith as a basis for a standard."

    Passages like 1 Corinthians 15:1-19 and Galatians 1:6-9 tell us that some beliefs are essential. Protestants have a standard for unity from such passages.

    You write:

    "Yes, there was an odd group here, and a group there, who in a limited geographical area for a limited time broke unity, usually over one or two points of contention. I did originally say 'basically' one church. Why you think a few exceptions that prove the rule help you much I don't know."

    No, your "basically" qualifier was added later. You originally said that there was only one denomination. See my documentation of what you said at the beginning of this thread. When you claimed that there was only one denomination, you surrounded that claim with criticism of "thousands" of Protestant denominations, and you went on to use the example of a church celebrating communion only once a year. As I explained to you earlier, you can't count "thousands" of Protestant denominations unless you include some relatively minor differences in the count. And how often communion is celebrated is relatively minor. Thus, to be consistent, you ought to include relatively minor differences among Christians of the first millennium as examples of significant disunity among them. And if you do that, then there were many divisions among Christians of the first millennium.

    You write:

    "And the church is capable of keeping Spain in the family if it so chooses despite a disagreement. The church decides what disagreement is tolerated and what isn't."

    If you can "tolerate disagreement", then why can't Protestants? Earlier, you criticized the existence of disagreements. Now you're saying that disagreements are acceptable for Eastern Orthodoxy, as long as Eastern Orthodoxy is willing to tolerate them.

    You write:

    "Who would have thought someone claiming to be knowledgeable would want such a thing documented?"

    You then cite men like Irenaeus and Tertullian referring to successions of bishops. That's not enough. For one thing, you claimed to be addressing what ancient Christianity as a whole believed, not just what was believed by some men from the late second century onward. Furthermore, you're assuming that your quotes mean what you were arguing for earlier. But that's a dubious assumption. There were multiple concepts of apostolic succession among the ancient Christians:

    "Succession lists of kings, periodically appointed magistrates, and heads of philosophical schools were kept in the Hellenistic world. The Jews had lists of prophets and rabbis, but most importantly of high priests. Although early Christians had an interest in the succession of their own prophets and teachers (particularly in the catechetical school in Alexandria), special attention attached to the succession of bishops, who by the end of the second century incorporated much of the authority and function of prophets and teachers into their office. 1 Clement 42-44 taught the apostolic institution of the offices of bishop and deacon in the church. After the appointment of the first bishops and deacons, the apostles provided for the continuation of these offices in the church. This was not the same as the later doctrine of apostolic succession, and it is to be noted that Clement included deacons as well as bishops in his statement. Ignatius, the first witness to only one bishop in a church, did not base his understanding of the ministry on succession. The one bishop was a representative of God the Father, and the presbyters had their model in the college of apostles (Trall. 3). The first claim to a succession from the apostles in support of particular doctrines was made in the second century by the Gnostics. They claimed that the apostles had imparted certain secret teachings to some of their disciples and that these teachings had been passed down, thus having apostolic authority, even if different from what was proclaimed in the churches (Irenaeus, Haer. 3.2.1; cf. Ptolemy in Epiphanius, Haer. 33.7.9). Hegesippus, an opponent of Gnosticism, compiled a list of the bishops in Rome (Eusebius, H.E. 4.22.5f.). Irenaeus of Lyons drew on the idea of the succession of bishops to formulate an orthodox response to the Gnostic claim of a secret tradition going back to the apostles. Irenaeus argued that if the apostles had had any secrets to teach, they would have delivered them to those men to whom they committed the leadership of the churches. A person could go to the churches founded by apostles, Irenaeus contended, and determine what was taught in those churches by the succession of teachers since the days of the apostles. The constancy of this teaching was guaranteed by its public nature; any change could have been detected, since the teaching was open. The accuracy of the teaching in each church was confirmed by its agreement with what was taught in other churches. One and the same faith had been taught in all the churches since the time of the apostles. Irenaeus's succession was collective rather than individual. He spoke of the succession of the presbyters (Haer. 3.2.2), or of the presbyters and bishops (4.26.2), as well as of the bishops (3.3.1). To be in the succession was not itself sufficient to guarantee correct doctrine. The succession functioned negatively to mark off the heretics who withdrew from the church. A holy life and sound teaching were also required of true leaders (4.26.5). The succession pertained to faith and life rather than to the transmission of special gifts. The "gift of truth" (charisma veritatis) received with the office of teaching (4.26.2) was not a gift guaranteeing that what was taught would be true, but was the truth itself as a gift. Each holder of the teaching chair in the church received the apostolic doctrine as a deposit to be faithfully transmitted to the church. Apostolic succession as formulated by Irenaeus was from one holder of the teaching chair in a church to the next and not from ordainer to ordained, as it became....[In Tertullian] Churches were apostolic that agreed in the same faith, even if not founded by apostles. Apostolic succession arose in a polemical situation as an effective argument for the truth of Catholic tradition against Gnostic teachings. As so often happens to successful arguments, it came to be regarded as an article of faith, not just a defense of the truth but a part of truth itself. Hippolytus is apparently the first for whom the bishops were not simply in the succession from the apostles but were themselves successors of the apostles (Haer., praef.). When Eusebius of Caesarea used the lists of bishops as the framework for his Church History, he did not count the apostles in the episcopal lists. Cyprian, however, made an identification of the episcopate and the apostolate (Ep. 64.3; 66.4; cf. Sent. epp. 79 and Socrates, H.E. 6.8)....The sacramental understanding of ordination that grew up in the fourth and fifth centuries shifted the emphasis to a succession from ordainer to ordained, but the earlier historical type of succession was preserved in the lists of local bishops." (Everett Ferguson, Encyclopedia Of Early Christianity [New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1999], pp. 94-95)

    Furthermore, there were multiple forms of church government, with church leaders being chosen in different ways in different places, with different standards. For example, sometimes an apostle or his associate appoints a church worker (sometimes specified as a bishop, elder, etc.) in the New Testament or in post-apostolic references, but sometimes the appointment is referred to the church in general (2 Corinthians 8:19; First Clement 44; The Didache, 15; Ignatius, Letter to Polycarp, 7). As Ferguson notes, "[In Tertullian] Churches were apostolic that agreed in the same faith, even if not founded by apostles. Apostolic succession arose in a polemical situation as an effective argument for the truth of Catholic tradition against Gnostic teachings....Election by the people was one of the methods of appointment known to Origen (Hom. 13 in Num. 4)....The will of the populace could prevail over clerical opposition (Sulp