Monday, August 06, 2012

On going back to the first century church

Andrew Preslar 907

My question is exactly, “What is God saying?” Furthermore, I want to know “Where has he said it?” and “What does it mean?” I also want to know “What is God doing, and where, and through whom, and in what ways?” I cannot begin my inquiry into these question by exegesis, because I need first to know that there are sacred texts, which texts they are, where they come from, and where to find them. Otherwise, there will be nothing to interpret

Even if we say, for the sake of argument, that the church precedes the Bible (or the New Testament), we’re not living in the first century. We don't have direct access to the 1C church. Our access to the New Testament church is mediated by the New Testament itself. Even if the church were prior in the order of being, the New Testament is prior in the order of knowing.

I know this is where where you guys say you begin:

ideally an adult would come to seek full communion with the Catholic Church only after a careful study of Church history, the Church Fathers, and Scripture. He would start with the Church in the first century at the time of the Apostles, and then trace the Church forward.

But my question to you is, when you say “start with the church in the first century”, how do you get there? Do you ride some magical telephone booth back to the first century? You talk about “a careful study of church history”, but your response shows very clearly the presuppositions you take with you back there:

It would be foolish to pluck and bite into the fruit without considering the tree that produced it (the visible, human side of Scripture). In this case, it is a very old tree, and much grown from its seed-like origin. And of course the same God who breathed out the Bible gives life to the tree. The Word of God, being alive and powerful, gives us all things in their place, in union with him, with his Body, and because he is alive and powerful, his written word lives. Sacred Scripture is not a dead letter, but to know and appreciate this, we have to take it, to feed upon it, in context.

You realize this paragraph is chock-full of assumptions that need to be examined.

How do you get to the first century, New Testament church?

And when you get there, what do you find there? What do you suppose (imagine, etc.) you find regarding the church's leadership, authority structure, etc.

Otherwise, we are left with the option of willy-nilly deciding the God must have produced a book, and then just selecting whatever we like from the shelf, and digging in with exegesis of the text.

This too is attributing things to me that I don’t accept. I don’t “willy nilly decide that God must have produced a book”. This is a horrible assumption for you to make.

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