Thursday, August 16, 2007

Canon & community


I was thinking of the biblical canon (specifically the New Testament canon) and your belief that its divine authority is only revealed directly by God in the heart of the believer. The only way that its authority is declared to a person is by a private revelation inside the elect.

In virtue of the Bible's authority, it requires divine authority as backup which grounds its authority. Accuracy is not the same as authority. The accuracy of the Bible is publicly-accessible; we are agreed on this. But is the authority of the Bible publicly-accessible divine revelation?

As I have argued in my responses to you, these lines of evidence do not establish the authority of the entirety of the Bible, much less the biblical canon. Some of these lines of evidence help to establish the accuracy of the Bible; but accuracy is not sufficient for authority.

I take it this is your ultimate explanation for how a Christian can recognize the authority of the Bible. Is this correct?

Also, I don't think it would establish in a publicly-accessible way the authority of the New Testament canon.

Given the accuracy/authority distinction, is there any publicly-accessible divine authority that bridges the gap between accuracy and authority? I don't think this specific issue is just a "high churchy a priori". Sometimes high church folk will use a priori arguments about the criteria for a true church. But in this case, I think the status of Christian revelation as publicly-accessible truth (a commitment of most who claim faith in Christ) is severely threatened by Protestant theology.

I’ve already answered MG on my own grounds—since that’s the answer he was angling for. But now I’d like to approach the answer from an Orthodox perspective.

From an Orthodox viewpoint, I find his invidious contrast between Protestant and Orthodox concepts of authority to be rather odd. For, from what I’ve read about it, Orthodoxy has a decidedly decentralized and communal understanding of authority.

There’s a relative authority structure in Orthodoxy, viz.

Layman>priest>bishop>church father>ecumenical council.

But from what I’ve also read, authority is ultimately vested in the sobornost of the universal church.

Yet if that is true, then the Orthodox concept of authority is fairly diffuse, and appeals to Christian consciousness as whole.

But, in that event, what would make Orthodox consciousness superior to Catholic consciousness or Evangelical consciousness?

Since MG has also gone on record as declaring himself to be an inclusivist, he thinks it’s possible for Catholic and Evangelical believers as well as the Orthodox believers to share a common Christian experience.

So how would he adjudicate between an Orthodox canonical consciousness and a Protestant canonical consciousness to authorize the canon?


  1. Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead.

    But your rather consistent argument has been that you only need to find 10 percent or so of your own theologians to agree with you, so where's the criterion for knowing which ones to follow and which to deny? If Orthodoxy is giving a "vote" to its ancestors, yet those ancestors are all providing input on Holy Tradition, how do you adjudicate differences?

    Orthodox consciousness differs to Roman Catholic consciousness in that the RCC has become captive to one man's consciousness. Pope Pius IX said "Witnesses of tradition? There is only one; that's me."

    A Roman Catholic would point out that isn't so, for the Popes have been made subject to councils in times past.

    So what makes Orthodoxy consciousness different is that it is a continuation in unbroken succession of one consciousness from the early church.

    This assumes what it needs to prove. Once again,your argument is viciously circular.

    If you make a break between yourself and that consciousness, then you immediately have all those canonical problems that you can't solve. Yes, and you also get a set of canonical problems that you haven't solved.

  2. orthodox said...

    "In other words, we don't limit the consciousness to who is around today."

    Neither do evangelicals. You notice that Orthodox always reaches for hyperbole. This is because he can't accurately refute the opposing position: only a straw man.

    "So what makes Orthodoxy consciousness different is that it is a continuation in unbroken succession of one consciousness from the early church. If you make a break between yourself and that consciousness, then you immediately have all those canonical problems that you can't solve."

    There's only one little impediment standing in the way of this winsome claim: it happens to be historically and demonstrably false.

    The early church did not speak with one mind on canonicity (or Christology). So there was no unbroken consciousness on this (or other) issue(s).

    Orthodox has had to admit in the past that the most he can muster is a gradually evolving consensus of opinion. But if it's evolving, then it isn't a continuous unity from start to finish. Evolving towards consensus implies a prior period and bumpy process of disunity.

  3. orthodox said:

    "Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happen to be walking about."

    You mean, like an ecumenical council or the Orthodox episcopate? That kind of small and arrogant oligarchy of those who merely happened to be walking about at the time?

  4. Orthodox quotes St. Vincent, but this does not answer the question. How does Orthodox know which Fathers to accept and which to deny? Where is the criterion? What Orthodox does is quote Vincent, but where's the supporting argument that Vincent is correct and should be heeded and that he supplies the proper criterion?

    And notice that what Orthodox does is begin with the current state of affairs and then read that back, assuming it is valid. Is this his criterion for knowing truth from error in the Fathers? How does he know this is the right standard? All Orthodox is doing now is begging the question.

    Does Orthodox affirm prayers to the saints? Transubstantiation [metousiosis]?

    Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died a natural death, that her soul was received by Christ upon death, and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her death and that she was taken up into heaven bodily in anticipation of the general resurrection. Her tomb was found empty on the third day. True?

    Where were these taught everywhere and by all? You're claiming continuity with the early church, so where is it here?

    Notice that Vincent says: "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."

    That's not 10 percent, Orthodox, that's far more.

    ORTHODOX: ??? RCs no longer accept that popes can be subject to councils.

    On the contrary, Orthodox, in Roman canon law, a council can be called to adjudicate the claims of a rival pope in the event an antipope arises as serious contender or the present pope is judged guilty of heresy.

    Is the Pope not obligated to uphold the Council of Nicea? Chalcedon?

    You're mistaking the idea of the infallibility of the Pope in Catholicism with his relationship to a council deemed "ecumenical."

    In point of fact, Catholic theology is divided on this:

    The Councils of Constance and of Basle affirmed with great emphasis that an Ecumenical council is superior in authority to the pope, and French theologians have adopted that proposition as one of the famous four Gallican Liberties. Other theologians affirmed, and still affirm, that the pope is above any general council. The leading exponents of the Gallican doctrine are: Dupin (1657-1719), professor at the Sorbonne in Paris ("Dissertatio de concilii generalis supra Romanum Pontificem auctoritate", in his book on the ancient discipline of the Church, "De antiquâ Ecclesiae disciplinâ dissertationes historicae"); and Natalis Alexander, 0.P. (1639-1724), in the ninth volume of his great "Historia Ecclesiastica" (Diss. iv ad saeculum XV). On the other side Lucius Ferraris (Bibliotheca Canonica, s.v. Concilium) and Roncaglia, editor and corrector of Natalis Alexander's history, stoutly defend the papal superiority. Hefele, after carefully weighing the main arguments of the Gallicans (viz. that Pope Martin V approved the declaration of the Council of Constance, and Pope Eugene IV the identical declaration of the Council of Basle, affirming the superiority of an Ecumenical synod over the pope), concluded that both popes, in the interests of peace, approved of the councils in general terms which might imply an approbation of the point in question, but that neither Martin nor Eugene ever intended to acknowledge the superiority of a council over the pope. (See Hefele, Conciliengeschichte, I, 50-54)

    The principles hitherto set forth supply a complete solution to the controversy. General councils represent the Church; the pope therefore stands to them in the same relation as he stands to the Church. But that relation is one of neither superiority nor inferiority, but of intrinsic cohesion: the pope is neither above nor below the Church, but in it as the centre is in the circle, as intellect and will are in the soul. By taking our stand on the Scriptural doctrine that the Church is the mystical body of Christ of which the pope is the visible head, we see at once that a council apart from the pope is but a lifeless trunk, a "rump parliament", no matter how well attended it be.

    ORTHODOX: I suppose if Paul had set up a church in Corinth, then left to go to Thessalonika, you would have come along a week later and disputed that it was a church of God, asked them to prove it, and accused them of being viciously circular.

    I would if they claimed that they were the one true church set up by Paul to the exclusion of the church in Thessalonica, which is precisely your claim for your Communion.

    Notice how Orthodox avoids the question: Where does Scripture designate the one true church the Eastern Orthodox Church? He's been asked this repeatedly and still can't answer it.

    He's also conflating a local assembly and what can only be described as an aggregate of local churches.

    ORTHODOX: Yes you do, or you wouldn't produce doctrines that are unknown or virtually unknown in the history of the Church.

    Oh, we can find just about all kinds of doctrine in the history of the Church, so this claim lacks a great deal of merit. If true, it would implicate your own communion, or do you deny that Sola Fide was taught in your own communion? Do you affirm that prayers to the saints has always been taught from the beginning? Metousiosis?

  5. ORTHODOX: Yes, they were taught from the beginning. Honoring the saints in the 2nd person is found in the earliest liturgies dating back to the beginning, and the teaching that the bread and wine becomes the body and blood in the communion is also from the beginning.

    Way to avoid the question, Orthodox. I think you know very well what he's asking and you didn't want to answer "No". So you wiggle away. Impressive.

  6. Here is a list of previous Triablogue articles dealing with EO.

  7. ORTHODOX: The interpretations that were accepted by the Church.

    And where's the criterion for knowing that those interpretations are accurate?

    Orthodox is arguing himself in a circle. He argues that the way he knows which Fathers to accept is by the interpretations of the Church, but the Fathers are part of "Holy Tradition," so to know which interpretations of the Church are correct, he has to appeal to the Fathers.

    ORTHODOX: It too is the tradition of the church.

    Like I said, a vicious circle.

    ORTHODOX: All you do is read your current canon of scripture back, assuming it is valid, right?

    I don't require the Church to authorize the canon. Nice try, but we've been down this road before. You keep repeating yourself as if you have never been answered.
    But that's fine, Orthodox, because all you're doing is making yourself look even more foolish.

    ORTHODOX: Not everything can be fully documented from the extant early fathers, never-the-less, if the church agrees on it, it is truth.

    Can you document the earliest fathers quoting 2 Peter or James? No you can't.

    Holy Tradition is not my rule of faith, so if this is a problem, it's a problem for your rule of faith, not mine.

    ORTHODOX: That isn't judging a pope, it is judging an anti-pope.

    No, it's judging competing claims of two claimants.

    ORTHODOX: Only because previous popes affirmed them, and teaching of popes is supposedly irreformable.

    But there are heretics among them. So, the council stands above them.

    ORTHODOX: I fail to see how.

    Yes, you are quite the dimwit.

    ORTHODOX: Yes well, that depends if you think the relatively recent official statements coming out of the vatican define Roman Catholicism. It is rather inconsistent to say otherwise.

    Only if you think the Council of Constance was "recent" and that French theology in that arena is "recent" even though it dates the Middle Ages.

    The truth here is that Orthodox overreached himself and misrepresented the Roman rule of faith and can't admit it.

    But that's not surprising, since he regularly misrepresents those with whom he disagrees and the continues in error after being corrected. He's either chronically ignorant or a chronic liar.

    ORTHODOX: Oh yes, and if they said they were the one true church to the exclusion of some separatest group next door? Or what about the gnostics down the road? All without any scripture or handy apostle to vouch for truth.

    I would ask them to show me where Scripture said this and which Apostles - since we are, after all talking about the first century when the Apostles were living and the Scriptures were being written and a time when the OT was widely available.

    This is not convertible with your claims Orthodox.

    GENE; Where does Scripture designate the one true church the Eastern Orthodox Church? He's been asked this repeatedly and still can't answer it.

    ORTHODOX: It's about continuity. If I pour a ship full of rocks into the sea in a spare spot in the Pacific Ocean and create a new land mass, and call it the TRUE United States of America, according to you I have equal claim to that.

    Funny, at Founders, you told me that Acts established that. What's wrong, Orthodox, can't keep up with your own arguments?

    So, what chapter and verse in Acts designates the Eastern Orthodox the one true holy Apostolic church?

    ORTHODOX: What I said was, is that particular point of history it is conceivable that only 10% might be found in the truth. But when there is consensus it is binding for all time. This is no different to what Vincent says.

    No, Orthodox, what you said is that all you need is ten percent. You're entitled to change your position, but you're not entitled to rewrite the history of what you have stated. The caveat "at that particular point in history" is a new invention by you.

    Here are your exact words;

    "There is no contradiction whatsoever between claiming that something is and always was an apostolic tradition and recognizing that the church fathers held a variety of views. I could in theory hold the position that say, only 10% of fathers held my view, and 90% didn't. It doesn't mean the 10% were wrong when the church was led to recognise the truth. I wouldn't generally argue this was the case, but it matters not if that's how it played out. You keep failing to recognize that I don't need all the early church to agree with me."

    Nowhere in them, Orthodox, do we find a reference to "at that point in history."

    I realize you like to change your arguments as you go, but do try to keep up with them.

    Vincents' rule is "always, everywhere, and by ALL" - not ten percent.

    ORTHODOX: The topic is creation of NEW doctrines.

    Sola Fide: not new - see Chrysostom

    total depravity: not new
    limited atonement: not new

    in fact, none of the doctrines of grace are "new." If we use your own 10 percent standard, we can find the doctrines of grace in the Fathers.

    May I ask who you think said, "He did not give His life for every man, but for many, that is, for those who would believe."

    And while we're at it, who do you think wrote: "God has completed the number which He before determined with Himself, all those who are written, or ordained to eternal life...Being predestined indeed according to the love of the Father that we would belong to Him forever."

    How about this one: (In response to the assertion that Christ gave Himself for "all,")..."To what "us" does he refer, unless to them what believe in Him? For to them that do not believe in Him, He is he author of their fire and burning. The cause of Christ's coming is the redemption of those that that were to be saved by Him."

    How about this one: "To believe is not ours, or in our power, but the Spirit's who is in us and abides in us."

    Or this one: The victory lies in the will of God, not thine own. To overcome is not in our power."

    And somebody was affirming what we think of as a standard interpretation of John 6:44,45 in the Reformed churhches rather early. Who is this: When He says, "No man can come to Me," He breaks the proud liberty of free will; for man can desire nothing, and in vain he endeavors...Where is the proud boasting of free will?...We pray in vain if it is in our own will. Why should men pray for that from the Lord which they have in the power of their own free will?

    So, you see, before you decide to play "top the apostolic testimony," and accuse us of inventing new doctrines, you'd best be careful lest you find that you find some who disagree with your assertions about us. The ECF are a mixed bag, but if you want to start looking through early church history for doctrine, then you'll find that mine are supported too.

    ORTHODOX: Yes, they were taught from the beginning. Honoring the saints in the 2nd person is found in the earliest liturgies dating back to the beginning,

    Which liturgies?

    and the teaching that the bread and wine becomes the body and blood in the communion is also from the beginning.


    Notice that Orthodox hedges his bets by not presenting any evidence.

    Athenagoras apparently didn't believe in praying to the deceased. He suggests that prayers shouldn't be addressed to created beings:

    "Because the multitude, who cannot distinguish between matter and God, or see how great is the interval which lies between them, pray to idols made of matter, are we therefore, who do distinguish and separate the uncreated and the created, that which is and that which is not, that which is apprehended by the understanding and that which is perceived by the senses, and who give the fitting name to each of them,-are we to come and worship images?...For if they differ in no respect from the lowest brutes (since it is evident that the Deity must differ from the things of earth and those that are derived from matter), they are not gods. How, then, I ask, can we approach them as suppliants, when their origin resembles that of cattle, and they themselves have the form of brutes, and are ugly to behold?" (A Plea for the Christians, 15, 20)

    Like Cyprian, Tertullian takes The Lord's Prayer to be representative of all prayer. The object of all prayer, then, is God:

    "God alone could teach how he wished Himself prayed to. The religious rite of prayer therefore, ordained by Himself, and animated, even at the moment when it was issuing out of the Divine mouth, by His own Spirit, ascends, by its own prerogative, into heaven, commending to the Father what the Son has taught." (On Prayer, 9)

    Notice that Tertullian refers to "the religious rite of prayer", meaning that he's referring to all prayers, not just some. All prayers are "commended to the Father", following the pattern of The Lord's Prayer, according to Tertullian.

    He explains that prayer is a sacrifice to God, which would exclude praying to anybody else:

    "We are the true adorers and the true priests, who, praying in spirit, sacrifice, in spirit, prayer,-a victim proper and acceptable to God, which assuredly He has required, which He has looked forward to for Himself! This victim, devoted from the whole heart, fed on faith, tended by truth, entire in innocence, pure in chastity, garlanded with love, we ought to escort with the pomp of good works, amid psalms and hymns, unto God's altar, to obtain for us all things from God." (On Prayer, 28)

    When Jesus prayed, it was always to the Father, never to any deceased person (Matthew 26:39, Luke 6:12, John 17). When He taught others to pray, He always told them to pray to God, not to the deceased (Matthew 6:6, 7:11, Luke 10:2, 11:2). Similarly, David in the Psalms, Paul in his epistles, and other Biblical authors teach us to pray only to God. We find the same pattern in the earliest church fathers.

    Cyprian wrote a treatise on The Lord's Prayer, a treatise that addresses prayer in general, even though it focuses on that one prayer in the gospels. He describes prayer as something done "in God's sight", something directed to God, not to people:

    "Let us consider that we are standing in God's sight. We must please the divine eyes both with the habit of body and with the measure of voice. For as it is characteristic of a shameless man to be noisy with his cries, so, on the other hand, it is fitting to the modest man to pray with moderated petitions." (On the Lord's Prayer, 4)

    Later in the treatise, he explains that The Lord's Prayer addresses "all our prayer", which implies that we're to pray only to God, since The Lord's Prayer is addressed only to God:

    "What wonder is it, beloved brethren, if such is the prayer which God taught, seeing that He condensed in His teaching all our prayer in one saving sentence? This had already been before foretold by Isaiah the prophet, when, being filled with the Holy Spirit, he spoke of the majesty and loving-kindness of God, 'consummating and shortening His word,' He says, 'in righteousness, because a shortened word will the Lord make in the whole earth.'" (On the Lord's Prayer, 28)

    In other words, Cyprian considers The Lord's Prayer to be an outline for *all* prayer, which necessarily excludes praying to anybody but God.

    Later, Cyprian tells us that we pray to "nothing but the Lord", to "God alone":

    "Moreover, when we stand praying, beloved brethren, we ought to be watchful and earnest with our whole heart, intent on our prayers. Let all carnal and worldly thoughts pass away, nor let the soul at that time think on anything but the object only of its prayer. For this reason also the priest, by way of preface before his prayer, prepares the minds of the brethren by saying, 'Lift up your hearts,' that so upon the people's response, 'We lift them up unto the Lord,' he may be reminded that he himself ought to think of nothing but the Lord. Let the breast be closed against the adversary, and be open to God alone" (On the Lord's Prayer, 31)

    Throughout the treatise, Cyprian instructs the reader how to pray to God, and he repeatedly says that he's addressing *all* of our prayers in this treatise, yet he says nothing of praying to Mary, praying to Joseph, praying to Jude, or praying to anybody else other than God. Rather, he describes prayer as an act of worship and reverence to God, something addressed to God alone. An angel might bring our prayers to God, as we see in the book of Revelation, for example, but the prayer is to be addressed only to God. That's the Protestant view of prayer, it's the Biblical view, and it's the view of the earliest church fathers.

    Sorry, Orthodox, that hardly counts as "from the beginning" and "by all."

    Orthodox is apparently confused between the Real Presence and metaousious. The latter is analogous to the doctrine of transubstantiation in Catholicism:

    When Jesus spoke the words of John 6, the eucharist hadn't yet been instituted. He said that He *is* the bread of life, and that people *are* responsible for eating His flesh and drinking His blood, even though there was no eucharist yet. He identified the eating and drinking for us in verse 35, and it isn't participation in a transubstantiated eucharist.

    Some of the church fathers, even some who believed in a type of presence of Christ in the eucharist, rejected the Roman Catholic interpretation of John 6. For example:

    "If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man,' says Christ, 'and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.' This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us." - Augustine (On Christian Doctrine, 3:16:24)

    Tertullian rejected transubstantiation:

    "Will not your [unbelieving] husband know what it is which you secretly taste before taking any food? and if he knows it to be bread, does he not believe it to be that bread which it is said to be?" (To His Wife, 2:5)

    "Now, because they thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, 'It is the spirit that quickeneth;' and then added, 'The flesh profiteth nothing,'--meaning, of course, to the giving of life." (On the Ressurection of the Flesh, 37)

    "Indeed, up to the present time, he has not disdained the water which the Creator made wherewith he washes his people; nor the oil with which he anoints them; nor that union of honey and milk wherewithal he gives them the nourishment of children; nor the bread by which he represents his own proper body, thus requiring in his very sacraments the 'beggarly elements' of the Creator." (Against Marcion, 1:14)

    "Then, having taken the bread and given it to His disciples, He made it His own body, by saying, 'This is my body,' that is, the figure of my body. A figure, however, there could not have been, unless there were first a veritable body. An empty thing, or phantom, is incapable of a figure....In order, however, that you may discover how anciently wine is used as a figure for blood, turn to Isaiah, who asks, 'Who is this that cometh from Edom, from Bosor with garments dyed in red, so glorious in His apparel, in the greatness of his might? Why are thy garments red, and thy raiment as his who cometh from the treading of the full winepress?' The prophetic Spirit contemplates the Lord as if He were already on His way to His passion, clad in His fleshly nature; and as He was to suffer therein, He represents the bleeding condition of His flesh under the metaphor of garments dyed in red, as if reddened in the treading and crushing process of the wine-press, from which the labourers descend reddened with the wine-juice, like men stained in blood. Much more clearly still does the book of Genesis foretell this, when (in the blessing of Judah, out of whose tribe Christ was to come according to the flesh) it even then delineated Christ in the person of that patriarch, saying, 'He washed His garments in wine, and His clothes in the blood of grapes' -in His garments and clothes the prophecy pointed out his flesh, and His blood in the wine. Thus did He now consecrate His blood in wine, who then (by the patriarch) used the figure of wine to describe His blood." (Against Marcion, 4:40)

    Shall we try for more, Orthodox?

  8. Also, Orthodox, finding inscriptions "honoring" the dead and prayers to the dead are not convertible concepts.

  9. Gene,

    Didn't Pope Martin V declare that popes were above councils?


    We look to the consensus of the fathers. If the earliest fathers don't have consensus, we look to later fathers who did have consensus. It's very simple, why you are so confused I don't know.

    Uh no, since the bible says to hold to the traditions. The bible was taught by the apostles who were taught by Christ.

    Two problems:

    i) If Orthodox tradition can be traced all the way back to the apostles, then why would there be a lack of consensus among the earliest church fathers over the identity of apostolic-cum-Orthodox tradition?

    ii) What is the official position of the Orthodox church these days on the authorship of the NT books?

  11. GENE: Athenagoras apparently didn't believe

    ORTHODOX: Big deal. ...

    GENE: ORTHODOX: The topic is creation of NEW doctrines.

    Sola Fide: not new - see Chrysostom

    ORTHODOX: If it's not new, then it isn't the topic. Zzzzz.

    GENE: in fact, none of the doctrines of grace are "new."

    ORTHODOX: Zzzzz. Too late to start importing that topic into this thread.

    On the contrary, Orthodox and Catholic apologists regularly charge Protestants with believing "new" doctrines. You're the one that brought up the issue of "new" doctrines, not me. I'm merely answering you on your own level.

    And you're the one claiming that prayers to the saints has been held from the beginning, not me, so, yes, you DO need to establish that, since you're concerned about the invention of new doctrines.

    Should we quote all the fathers who didn't hold your canon of scripture? Oh I forgot, you didn't get the bible from the church, you plucked it out of thin air and picked your own canon.

    That's a straw man, and you know it. We've discussed the argument for canonicity before. Look in the archives.

    ORTHODOX: We look to the consensus of the fathers. If the earliest fathers don't have consensus, we look to later fathers who did have consensus. It's very simple, why you are so confused I don't know.

    You're arguing in a circle. You claim that consensus goes to the beginning already, and now you're claiming that if there is no consensus then, you look later. Why would you need to do that if Orthodox doctrine goes all the way back to the Apostles?

    You're still appealing to tradition to validate tradition.

    Uh no, since the bible says to hold to the traditions. The bible was taught by the apostles who were taught by Christ.

    Another assertion without exegetical foundation. The text that would say that has specific reference to the gospel itself - not sets of doctrines taught by tradition that are not found in Scripture itself already.

    GENE: I would ask them to show me where Scripture said this and which Apostles

    ORTHODOX: Bzzzt, the NT scriptures weren't written yet and the OT scriptures are insufficient for Christian doctrine.

    I said that they were being written; that the Apostles were still living. Pay attention.

    Also, if the OT is insufficient for Christian doctrine, then, pray tell, how did the Apostles use it formulate and ground their doctrines? The New Testament certainly grounds the proper interpretation of the OT, but that would mean that the OT is in some way "sufficient" to ground Christian doctrine.

    GENE: So, what chapter and verse in Acts designates the Eastern Orthodox the one true holy Apostolic church?

    ORTHODOX: Prove to me that the land mass north of Mexico and south of Canada is the same country to which the constitution of the United States is applicable.

    You're the one claiming Acts tells us that the one true holy Apostolic church is the Eastern Orthodox Church - so where does it establish that fact. Notice that Orthodox made the claim and now he can't defend it. In fact, his argument here is directly at variance with his arguments elsewhere.

    If Acts tells us that, then he should be able to demonstrate it. How about it, Orthodox?

    GENE: Only if you think the Council of Constance was "recent" and that French theology in that arena is "recent" even though it dates the Middle Ages.

    ORTHODOX: One hardle has to go that far back to find Rome teaching that the Pope validates the ecumenical council. In fact it is in the current catechism:

    884 "The college of bishops exercises power over the universal Church in a solemn manner in an ecumenical council."405 But "there never is an ecumenical council which is not confirmed or at least recognized as such by Peter's successor."

    GENE: The truth here is that Orthodox overreached himself and misrepresented the Roman rule of faith and can't admit it.

    ORTHODOX: Go argue with the catechism.

    Actually, Orthodot, I quoted from The Catholic Encyclopedia.

    Now, you're quoting from the catechism after in your last argument claiming that the current claims of Rome don't define their doctrine. So, which is it, Orthodot?

    The source you quoted does not contradict what I quoted. It says that the councils are confirmed or at least recognized by the Popes, not that the Popes are not subject to them.

    ORTHODOX: An empty claim since you can't tell us your authority for knowing the canon.

    On the contrary, we've been over that many times. Poor Orthodimwit, he can't even articulate the opposing argument - again.

    And this only puts the question back one step for Orthodimwit, for if the Church authorizes the canon, then how does he know that his choice of church is the correct one? All he'll ever give us is his fideism.

  12. ORTHODOX: You would have to refute my list of new doctrines, not your list. Unless you already have a guilty conscience about some of them.

    On the contrary, I listed doctrines that I know you dislike, you know the doctrines of grace - not new, not a single one. I then listed some of your doctrines, like prayers to the saints and challenged you. You didn't take it up. Why?

    ORTHODOX: Yeah, and you produced no visible authority for your canon

    An assertion, not an argument. Orthotroll can't represent the other side of an argument.

    ORTHODOX: No, I never said there was a discernable consensus back to he beginning. All I said was that the truth goes back to the beginning.

    Then why do you need a consensus. You keep changing your arguments as you go, Orthodox. In earlier threads you have argued that your doctrines have always been believed, and in this one you invoked Vincent of Lerins, who's yardstick was considerably wider that "ten percent" of theologians. In previous threads, you've said you only need ten percent of the Fathers to agree with you, and now you claim you were talking about "at that time," but, as I showed you, that's not what you said.

    I've asked you in this thread to produce evidence that several of your doctrines go "to the beginning," and you have yet to produce the evidence.

    GENE: You're still appealing to tradition to validate tradition.

    ORTHODOX: As the bible teaches.


    ORTHODOX: Paul is discussing his oral traditions taught before NT scripture existed (all of his traditions, not some of them). It's not even possible that he is referring to things "found in scripture already", since many Christian teachings weren't enscripturated yet.

    False, in context, he's talking about what he had taught them and to beware of a false letter.. Here's the text: So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word [of mouth] or by letter from us.

    The Thessalonians had evidently been misled by a forged letter, supposedly from the apostle Paul, telling them that the day of the Lord had already come (2 Thess. 2:2). The entire church had apparently been upset by this, and the apostle Paul was eager to encourage them.

    For one thing, he wanted to warn them not to be taken in by phony "inspired truth." And so he told them clearly how to recognize a genuine epistle from him: it would be signed in his own handwriting: "I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, and this is a distinguishing mark in every letter; this is the way I write" (3:17). He wanted to ensure that they would not be fooled again by forged epistles.

    But even more important, he wanted them to stand fast in the teaching they had already received from him. The word paradoseis is a transmission of a doctrine or doctrines (since the use is plural), or depending on the context, it can mean the doctrine itself. He had already told them, for example, that the day of the Lord would be preceded by a falling away, and the unveiling of the man of lawlessness. "Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?" (2:5). There was no excuse for them to be troubled by a phony letter, for they had heard the actual truth from his own mouth already. These were truth, of course, in his previous letter.

    Paul was urging the Thessalonians to test all truth-claims by Scripture, and by the words they had heard personally from his own lips. And the only words of the apostles that are infallibly preserved for us are found in Scripture.

    Here's another one: 2 Thessalonians 3:6, "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother that is idle and does not live according to the teaching or the tradition you received from us." Look back at 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 14 as well as 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Paul is referring back to the tradition he had already delivered to them, that is, in writing. In context 2 Thessalonians 2:15 is epexegetical to 2:14 and refers directly to the gospel itself.

    If this text is referring to traditions not found in Scripture, then where in the historical record are these traditions to be found so that you know that you are following them, Orthodox? Did Paul teach something different in the presence of many witnesses that he taught in his epistle to the Romans or the Galatians? If so, where can we find it?

    GENE: I said that they were being written; that the Apostles were still living. Pay attention.

    ORTHODOX: Apostles living does not equate to scripture "being written". You're equivocating.

    Not at all, Orthodox. You're either a chronic liar or chronically illiterate.

    Here's what I wrote to you:

    I would ask them to show me where Scripture said this and which Apostles - since we are, after all talking about the first century when the Apostles were living and the Scriptures were being written and a time when the OT was widely available.

    Pay attention.

    ORTHODOX: I'm glad you asked. The answer can be found at the Jerusalem council. The question was raised about the correct understanding of food laws in the new testament church. They certainly didn't go to the old testament to exegetically find an answer. What they did instead is look to THE EXPERIENCE OF THE CHURCH and related that experience as a framework for understanding the scriptures.

    False, Jesus Himself had already pronounced all foods clean.

    And Paul appeals to the OT for his doctrine of justification in Galatians. He doesn't appeal to the Council. So, yes, Orthodox, the OT was, indeed sufficient for Paul to ground his doctrine. Where is any doctrine in the NT grounded in the Jerusalem Council or "the experience of the Church?"

    The Jerusalem Council also upheld justification by faith alone by it's denial of circumcision in order to be justified. This is elaborated upon in Galatians.

    Do you affirm justification by faith alone? No.

    GENE: You're the one claiming Acts tells us that the one true holy Apostolic church is the Eastern Orthodox Church - so where does it establish that fact.

    ORTHODOX: It's a fact of history. Peter and the apostles set up the church in Jerusalem in Acts 2, and the church there has continually existed since then. Ergo, that church is the same church.

    You're assuming what you need to prove. Acts does not designate the Eastern Orthodox Church as the one true holy Apostolic Church, and the church set up by them was distinctively Jewish, which certainly cannot be said of your communion. At most, your statement would apply to one local church, not the whole of your communion.

    And you're also advertising your ignorance of church history. If we accept as reliable the accounts of Eusebius and others, the Jerusalem Church went to Pella in 66 AD. Some of them returned to Jerusalem in 135, and from there, there is little positive said about them, and what is said is often negative, in fact, what is said of them is that they were Ebionites or Nazoraeans. Some modern scholars reject this claim and insist the Jerusalem Church perished in AD 70; consequently there is no connection between later Christianity and the "Mother Church." In the 5th century, that particular church had disappeared, replaced by a distinctively non-Jewish church.

    There has almost always been a church in Jerusalem, but the same church has not always been there, so the one to which you are referring is not the same church, Orthodox. The claim of your communion to be synonymous with that particular church is just that - a claim, and if true, then why isn't Jerusalem the prime Patriarchate?

    At most, your communion would be a caretaker of a visible, local assembly, but Revelation is rather clear that being a "visible assembly" is insufficient to claim the title of a "true church," much less to lay claim to an entire denomination. Further, even if Jerusalem can be said to be the same church, it does not thereby follow that the Eastern Orthodox Church as a whole can lay claim to being the one true church founded by the Apostles. That claim would apply only to that local church, and that is the church to which all Christians can lay claim.

    ORTHODOX: What the....

    I never said any such thing. I said it would be inconsistent to claim that Rome does NOT define doctrine for the RCC.

    Here's what you said:

    GENE: In point of fact, Catholic theology is divided on this:

    ORTHODOX: Yes well, that depends if you think the relatively recent official statements coming out of the vatican define Roman Catholicism. It is rather inconsistent to say otherwise.

    You said this after I quoted the Catholic Encyclopedia to show how incorrect you were.

    You then replied with "The catcheism" asserting that it contradicts what I stated. So, you disagreed with what I stated and said that what I stated "depended on thinking the official statements of Rome define its doctrine." I quoted just such a source and you asserted it was incorrect. So, following your own argument, that means that you were saying that you didn't find that source authorititative. The problem, Orthodot, is you can't follow your own arguments.

    ORTHODOX: And still waiting for an answer..

    Actually, there are several threads here that give the answer. You just don't like it.

    GENE: Poor Orthodimwit, he can't even articulate the opposing argument - again.

    ORTHODOX: I take it that this plea had no effect on Gene.

    Oh, it did, but this is directed at those within the Christian family. You are a professed enemy of the faith who delights in trying to lure people into bondage and ecclesiolatry, and you are no pagan who has not heard the gospel.

    Therefore, that plea does not apply to this conversation.

    And if you think that this is "within the Christian family," may I remind you that in another thread here, you called us "heretics." So, don't come here asserting that you want to be treated like "one of the family" when elsewhere you deny that to us, or do you think heretics are true Christians?

    Steve's description of you is spot on:

    You are getting exactly what you deserve. You are a public enemy of the faith. You have repeatedly gone on record disbelieving the self-witness of Scripture. You refuse to believe what the Bible says about itself. When the Bible says, “Thus saith the Lord,” you respond in disbelief.

    Instead, you only believe the Bible, if at all, in the derivative sense that you believe it if and only if a second-party (the Orthodox church) vouches for the Bible. You believe in your denomination rather than the word of God.

    And, what is more, you try to undermine the faith of other Christians or seekers. You go around trying to discourage them from accepting the authority and veracity of God’s word.

    You try to tear down the Bible to build up your denomination. You treat the Bible as inherently unbelievable. For you, it is only the word of your denomination that lends credibility to the Scriptures. Apart from your denomination’s ipse dixit, you treat the word of God as no more credible than any uninspired writing. When God speaks to us in Scripture, you deny that God is the speaker.

    You disdain the Bible as no more or less credible than the Book of Mormon. Your faith is in your denomination, and not in the word of God. You put your faith in the word of man while you refuse to take God at his word.

    For you, Orthodox, this is the proper treatment:

    Apostates and false teachers like you are to be treated like this:

    Acts 8 (New International Version)

    20Peter answered: "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin."

    1 Timothy 1 (New International Version)

    8We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. 9We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, 10for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers—and for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine 11that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

    Hebrews 10 (New International Version)

    26If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

    2 Peter 2 (New International Version)

    1But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

    4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; 5if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men 8(for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment. 10This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority.

    Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; 11yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord. 12But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

    13They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. 14With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood! 15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. 16But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—a beast without speech—who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.

    17These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."

    Jude 1 (New International Version)

    3Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

    5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

    8In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. 9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them.

    11Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.

    12These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

    14Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones 15to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." 16These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

    And it will suffice to say that there are numerous taunt songs in Scripture directed toward such persons.

    You're problem Orthodox is that you are NOT a Christian. You are Eastern Orthodox. These are not convertible principles.

    I'm on record stating that one can deny justification by faith alone and still be "saved," but I'm also on record as stating that if by your actions you consistently do things like attack the faith and, in particular, reject the truth of the gospel and spiritual truth in general, you demonstrate that you are not a Christian at all. You, Orthodox, need to get down on your knees and beg God to have mercy on you, for you are still in your sins, and clinging to the Eastern Orthodox church is just another form of autosoterism.

    It's only right to keep pushing the question back until we reach God. The agnostic can accuse Christianity of just pushing the question back one step since how does he know he has the right religion? And so on and so forth. But I'm quite happy to push the question back onto Christ's body, from there onto Christ and onto God.

    And this, of course, is just a repetition of your viciously circular logic, for, according to you, your faith is in your Church, and your church is the one true church and the rest of us are "heretics." Scripture, of course, does not warrant this claim. I, however, can provide a non-arbitrary epistemic warrant and an exegetical foundation for my theology, but you simply cannot.