Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Liberal Orthodoxy encore


“Beware of book blurbs.”

Very well. Since Orthodox objects to “book blurbs,” let’s reproduce some verbatim abstracts from one of Tarazi’s books:

Here one must recall that, besides editing the prophets' words into scrolls as scripture, the school of Ezekiel proceeded to produce its own writings, the Torah (Pentateuch), in order to present a more systematic view of their teaching [13].

The Pauline school took the first step by putting together the master's epistles into a corpus, and it augmented that corpus with a series of additional letters composed along the line of his teachings and, as was usual in those times, superscripted with his name out of deference to him (the first of these being Colossians and 2 Thessalonians).

The gospel of Paul to the Gentiles carried Jesus for them; the only Jesus they knew, beginning with Timothy and Mark who had never personally seen him, was the reality engraved on their minds and hearts by Paul's apostolic words [15]. They -- probably leaders such as Timothy and Mark -- must have decided that Paul's written legacy was inadequate, even supplemented as it was by works such as Colossians.

The event that led to the decision to write a gospel book was Paul's death. This left the Gentile churches in a very precarious position with no apostle supporting them and necessitated finding a different, yet equally authoritative, means of support. Paul's epistles were being collected, and Timothy did provide a new charter (Colossians) based on Paul's apostolic authority, but despite everything said above about the importance of Paul's apostolic word over his person, that written word in these collected epistles still did not carry the same weight as a living apostle. The remaining living apostles were associated with the Jerusalemite leadership, which had openly rejected the believing Gentiles' freedom from circumcision and the Mosaic ordinances. The only hope was to sway one of these leaders into the Pauline camp. James himself (or his following) might be too difficult to persuade, but Peter (or his following) was apparently less adamant on this position than James and seemed a possible convert to Gentile cause.

Thus, Mark was someone who actually shifted allegiance from Barnabas (and Peter) to Paul, i.e., he himself had done what was about to be asked of Peter or his successors.

The fact that Mark was the bridge to the Petrine following must have sealed the tradition that the gospel was named after him; and he may well have actually been the author. However, the gospel text seems to allude to Mark as part of the gospel story [16]. Another candidate would be the author of Luke-Acts, who shows a mastery of the Greek language essential for anyone contemplating an undertaking of this sort. Moreover, this would explain the liberty Luke took in rewriting the first gospel into his monumental two-volume work, Luke-Acts. At any rate, if Luke was the author, he would have written "Mark" under the scrutinizing eye of both Timothy and Mark, given the delicacy of the matter. Since the appeal to Peter was either written by Mark himself or used Mark as an example, or both, this book is in a sense a "Markan" message to the Petrine following, and since Luke's name brings to mind Luke-Acts, I shall henceforth refer to this gospel and its author as simply "Mark."

Mark capitalized on this situation and formulated his literary plan according to the scheme of Ezekiel. The divine word, now as Paul's gospel, summoned the Jerusalemite church to break with the insurgent Judaism of Judea, and it did so from outside Jerusalem -- from Rome or Western Asia Minor. Moreover, it called upon that church to move away from Jerusalem and settle among the Gentile churches, from whom the divine word as gospel was now originating. And since this divine word was identified with Jesus himself, the crucified Messiah, Mark used whatever traditions about Jesus were at hand and presented them as a story, namely the story of Jesus from Galilee. The importance of his Galilean origin is that it means he came from outside Jerusalem and outside Judea.

So Mark decided to create a "story of Jesus" and intended it to serve as scripture, but what will have been the source for the overall outline of that story? Could he have created it from scratch, devising his own plan for fitting numerous short vignettes about Jesus into a cohesive whole? I am convinced that he in fact utilized a story outline that had already been known among the Gentile churches. Earlier I referred to two essential points: the practical equivalence between the person of Jesus and the words of the gospel concerning him; and the fact that for the Gentile churches as well as for the Jews Timothy and Mark, Paul was the apostle, the original authoritative bearer of this gospel. When one takes these two matters seriously into consideration, one can understand that in the minds of Paul's disciples and communities, the "gospel story" was already outlined: it followed the major contours of Paul's life and activity as an apostle. It is not difficult to determine those contours, for they are laid out in some detail in Paul's epistles. These letters were written by him as an apostle, that is, in conjunction with his explication and defense of his gospel. Of these letters, only in Galatians and Philippians is the argument itself closely interwoven with personal data about Paul as an apostle, thus making the author's own history and experiences a kind of "gospel story." The former deals squarely with Mark's immediate interest: Paul's gospel on the one hand, and Peter, James, and the Jerusalemite church, on the other. The latter is Paul's testament from his place of imprisonment prior to his death and reflects the fact that the Jerusalemite church authorities did not heed Paul's appeal to them through his letter to the Romans. It is along the lines of the arguments in these two epistles that Mark wrote his "gospel story."

This whole process may seem strange to the contemporary reader, but it is precisely what had been done earlier in the Old Testament, and Mark was merely following an example set for him by scripture itself. The Pentateuch as a whole, as well as Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History in particular, were "stories" conceived on the basis of the prophets' teachings [29]. One can even say that these same "stories" were actually woven from the prophets' personalities and lives. Scholars have long pointed out similarities between Moses and Jeremiah [30]. They have also noticed that the Pentateuch describes two Aarons: one subservient to Moses and even opposed to him [31], the other his successor as high priest throughout the ages [32]. Whereas Moses led Israel during his lifetime, this second Aaron leads it throughout the generations [33]. This second Aaron bears a remarkable resemblance to Ezekiel, the exilic priest-prophet. Indeed, Ezekiel's eschatological Jerusalem is the blueprint of Aaron's temple in the wilderness [34]. Finally, Joshua, Israel's leader into Canaan, the land promised to Abraham, is patterned after Second Isaiah and, to some extent, Ezekiel. The names Isaiah and Joshua are from the same root in Hebrew meaning "the Lord saves," and Second Isaiah is the prophet who speaks of the return to God's city, Jerusalem, and at the same time presents Abraham as the one to whose progeny the promise is made [35]. On the other hand, the land's conquest by Joshua is done in a "priestly" manner: it is the Lord who leads Israel in a cultic manner into the land as though it is his holy of holies, exactly as Ezekiel's "new Jerusalem" is [36].

Mark has created a similar mixture in his gospel; the life of Jesus here is reminiscent of the New Testament "prophet" [37] Paul. Mark's purpose is to call upon the Jerusalem church and Peter's followers -- and ultimately through them the Judaism of his time as a whole -- to relinquish the earthly Jerusalem that is bound to destruction, and follow the prophetic call arising from the "wilderness of the Gentiles," into the new, heavenly Jerusalem. This prophetic voice was none other than Paul's, "an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures" (Rom 1:1-2). And consequently, the image of Paul shows through in Mark's portrayal of Jesus, just as the image of Jeremiah shows through in the Pentateuch's depiction of Moses.


Let’s now take stock of Tarazi’s position:

1.The Pentateuch is not a factual report of actual people, speeches, and events. Instead, the Pentateuch is an allegory of the exilic prophets, fabricated by the School of Ezekiel.

2.A number of the “Pauline” epistles (e.g. Colossians; 2 Thessalonians) are actually pseudonymous productions, fabricated by a Pauline school.

3.Timothy and Mark didn’t personally know the historical Jesus. All they knew about Jesus was filtered through the teaching of Paul.

4.The Pauline school was at loggerheads with the Jerusalem apostles. Mark as alienated from Barnabas and Peter.

5.Mark may have written the Gospel attributed to him. Or it may have been written by Luke, under a Markan pseudonym.

In any event, it doesn’t preserve Petrine tradition. Rather, it’s addressed to Peter. It’s an exercise in ecclesiastical power politics.

6.The author of Mark tells the “story” of Jesus from Galilee, not because Jesus really came from Galilee, but because Mark is modeled on Ezekiel.

7.The Gospel of Mark is not a factual report regarding the life and teachings of Christ. Instead, it’s an allegory of the life and teachings of Paul. Galatians and Philippians, creatively rewritten as a mock historical narrative. A theologumenon or imaginary reification of doctrine under the garb of history.

8.The author of Mark padded out his allegory with whatever Jesus traditions he had access to.

And what was the source of his Jesus traditions? Well, we know what the source wasn’t. He didn’t get his information from the Apostles who actually lived with Jesus, day in and day out, for the duration of his public ministry—for the Gospel of Mark is written in opposition to the Jerusalem apostles, as a piece of religious propaganda to counter the official version of the gospel promulgated by the mother church in Jerusalem.

Tarazi’s historical reconstruction is the latest iteration of the old Tübingen school, a la F. C. Baur. It also repristinates the old form critical view, a la Bultmann et al., in which the Gospels are allegories of the church. The real sitz-im-leben is the church, and not their putative historical setting.

So, between the allegorical character of Mark’s Gospel, and the author’s lack of access to firsthand information, the historical reliability of his Gospel would be just about nil. Ninety-nine parts imagination to one part residue fact.

Welcome to the one true Church!


  1. I agree that this is unacceptably liberal and disturbingly so given that it comes from a seminary. I apologise on behalf of orthodoxy.

    Now how many "evangelical" seminaries are not teaching the same? Not many I'll wager. A few tiny and obscure ones perhaps.

  2. DTS? Nope.

    The six SBC seminaries? Nope, you won't find it there.

    WTSCA, Covenant, and RTS? Nope.

    Gordon-Conwell? Nope

    SEDTS? Nope

    You'll find these views rehearsed and discussed and generally refuted. Professors holding such positions are the exception not the rule.

    Of course, I'm sure Orthodox considers these "tiny" and "obscure," even though the six SBC seminaries represent the largest Protestant denomination.

    Notice that Orthodox just punts to evangelicalism, as if this makes his case. But the problem here is that this is the admitted consensus of the scholars in his Communion - and he's claiming his rule of faith is superior.

    I apologise on behalf of orthodoxy.
    This is the voice of a layperson who is in so such position. On the contrary, it seems the scholarship in his Communion is quite unapologetic.

  3. Readers may also be interested in another post, from earlier this year, in which other Eastern Orthodox sources are quoted on similar issues:


    Part of Orthodox's response to that post was to argue that Biblical inerrancy isn't an issue of much significance.

    I also recommend that people compare what's been documented in these threads, as well as how Orthodox has responded, to his comments elsewhere about unity. Are his criticisms of Protestant disunity consistent with his claims about Eastern Orthodox unity?

    Either the issues addressed by Tarazi are matters of Tradition or they aren't. If they aren't, then why has Orthodox so often argued that Biblical authorship attributions, for example, are Tradition? If the issues Tarazi and Orthodox disagree about are matters of Tradition, then Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other about what is and isn't Tradition. And Orthodox argued, when he was here a few months ago, that a rule of faith is invalid if the people following it disagree with each other about its contents. If it's unacceptable for Protestants to disagree over the canon of scripture, then why would it be acceptable for Eastern Orthodox to disagree with each other over the canon of Tradition?

  4. orthodox said:

    "I apologise on behalf of orthodoxy."

    The mouse that roared. Your apology would be more impressive if you happened to be the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. But your private apology doesn't begin to rise to the level of a corporate apology. Coming from an Orthodox nonentity like yourself, it amounts to the tenth part of nothing.

    "Now how many 'evangelical' seminaries are not teaching the same? Not many I'll wager. A few tiny and obscure ones perhaps."

    Gene has already addressed one aspect of this question. Considered from another angle, since we Evangelicals do not identify the one true (universal) church with any particular denomination or parachurch ministry, what is a problem for your ecclesiology is not a problem for ours.

  5. Orthodox wrote:

    "(a) We have a method for resolving disagreements. (b) If some 'orthodox' people start up a new 'controversy' over what is tradition, then it is no controversy at all, they are just off the wall and should be ignored. So some of those EO 'disagreements' are faux disagreements. Others will be sorted out in good time. Protestants have no hope of solving their problems."

    You're contradicting your previous argument. Earlier, you argued that the existence of disagreements among Protestants about what is and isn't scripture would invalidate their rule of faith. You argued that people can't be said to have unity with each other if they don't follow the same canon. But, since then, you've argued that the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith remains valid when Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other about the canon of their rule of faith. You've shifted the standard from agreement about the canon to potential agreement in the future by means of an infallible denominational mechanism. Protestants don't deny that there will be a future settlement of disagreements at the judgment seat of Christ. They also don't deny the potential for God to bring about agreement before then through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit or by some other means. And your comment above about "ignoring" people with false beliefs about the canon could be applied by Protestants as well.

    To differentiate Eastern Orthodoxy from Protestantism, as you're ineptly trying to do by means of an arbitrary standard that you keep redefining, you have to claim that something inherently non-Protestant is involved, such as the arbitration of a currently existing infallible denomination in this life. But we would have no reason for accepting such an arbitrary standard, and your previous attempts at demonstrating that God has given us such a denomination have failed. You tried to make a case from passages like Ezekiel 11, Matthew 16, John 16, and 1 Timothy 3, but none of your arguments were sustainable, and you repeatedly left those discussions without addressing our responses. You acknowledged that you hadn't made a case for Eastern Orthodoxy, and you gave a variety of excuses for not doing so (this forum isn't the place for it, you would be participating in a debate on the subject with a Roman Catholic in the near future and we could read that, etc.).

    Let's distinguish between reality and Orthodox's arbitrary standards about potential solutions in the future. The reality is that Evangelicals who belong to different churches or denominations, such as Steve Hays and Gene Bridges, agree with each other about what books belong in the canon of scripture, whereas Eastern Orthodox have disagreed with each other for generations on many issues of what is and isn't Tradition. Orthodox often criticizes Protestants for the potential that they would disagree with each other about something like the canonicity of 2 Peter in the future. Meanwhile, entire generations of Eastern Orthodox have lived and died while disagreeing with each other about the canon of their Tradition, and the disputes remain unsettled.

  6. Of course you havn't proved anything different for Orthodoxy.

    So, you disagree with this statement:

    “A consensus exists among scholars that the 6C BC, and more especially the time and place of the Babylonian Exile, was the matrix from which the Hebrew Pentateuch and most of the prophetic books emerged in their final written form,” Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, M. Prokurat et al. (Scarecrow Press 1996), 293.

    That's from your own Communion about your own scholars, Orthodox.

    ORTHODOX: So the SBC is wonderful is it?

    Orthodox is quoting David Cloud - a false teacher about the SBC.

    Where does he talk about the seminaries today and what is taught in them?

    The doctrinal standard of the SBC is the BFM 2000.


    ORTHODOX: Uh huh. So the new perspective on Paul would not be considered liberal to you?

    No, it's heterodox, but not liberal. The short definition of"liberal" in theological terms is defined as one who denies the inspiration and authority of Scripture in particular and the fundamentals of the faith in general. Barry Lynn is a liberal.

    I see you had to run to John Robbins, a man who would condemn anybody other than himself for heterodoxy to find your evidence.

    And, if you'd done your homework, you'd know that his concern is about Westminster Seminary - PHILADELPHIA - which I left out for that reason. WTSCA is known as having taken a VERY hard line against the NPP/Federal Vision.

    For WTSCA you can look here:





  7. GENE: That's from your own Communion about your own scholars, Orthodox.

    ORTHODOX: Where does it say "orthodox scholars"???

    The purpose of the source is to describe the state of affairs within Orthodoxy. The referent is to Orthodox scholarship, not all scholarship.

    But for more, we could quote:

    evidence that there was a single bishop leading the Roman church is lacking for that period [the first century]; indeed what evidence there is suggests a rather different picture. When Clement wrote to the Corinthian Church, he wrote not as bishop in the later sense but as one of the presbyters of the Roman Church entrusted with the task of writing on behalf of the whole Church to the erring Church of Corinth; similarly, Ignatius, writing perhaps a decade later to the Roman Church, does not seem to envisage a 'bishop of Rome', despite his enthusiasm for monepiscopacy." (Andrew Louth, ed., Eusebius, The History Of The Church From Christ To Constantine [New York, New York: Penguin Classics, 1989], pp. xxii-xxiii)

    "Whether there were bishops, in the later sense of the word, as heads of local churches, is a question for which we have no evidence in the third period. But the role that James played at Jerusalem, after Peter had gone, was surely very comparable to the role bishops were to play later on: a lifelong and continuous place as leader of a local church, with a group of presbyters in support. James may not have been called a bishop, but he was in fact the first monarchical bishop of a local church." (Nicholas Koulomzine, in John Meyendorff, ed., The Primacy Of Peter [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992], p. 28)

    "This pattern, with the threefold ministry of bishops, priests, and deacons, was already established in some places by the end of the first century." (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church [New York, New York: Penguin Books, 1997], p. 13)

    "Nevertheless, it might be pointed out, there was only one bishop of Constantinople. However, even this idea of 'one city—one bishop' is not the only way the Church has existed over the centuries. Despite the rosy and romantic picture given by early Christian historians such as Eusebius, of the apostles appointing single bishops in each geographical area (thereby enshrining a vision of Church history articulated in terms of the succession of bishops), historical reality is more complicated. Already the Apostle Paul, writing to the Roman Christians, indicates the existence of over half-a-dozen different Christian groups or house-churches, each with its own leader (see Romans 16), and this before any apostle had visited Rome. Several decades later, St. Ignatius of Antioch also knew of no single 'bishop' of Rome, although he was the earliest and most forceful advocate of monoepiscopacy (the claim that the Christian community in each place must gather around a single bishop). Likewise St. Justin in the mid-second century. And when St. Irenaeus described the succession of the presbyters or bishops (he uses the term interchangeably) of the Christian community in Rome, it was the succession of but one of the communities, albeit the one that gradually assumed leadership over the others. All this is to say, there was no single bishop of Rome until the end of the second century, or perhaps even as late as the third decade of the third century. Instead, there were a number of churches, each led by its own bishop/presbyter." (John Behr, here)

    "To make literal inerrancy a necessary component of the gift of inspiration is, after all, foreign to the New Testament message itself. The gospels bear witness to the Truth and to the power of God, not to their own freedom from error. They are free from falsehood or deception, but not from natural human errors. The evangelist Mark, for example, maintains that Abiathar was high priest during the reign of David (Mk 2:23-28), but according to I Sam 21:1-6, Ahimelech, not Abiathar, was high priest. This 'error' had no effect on the meaning of the passage. The concept of inerrancy conflicts with the incarnational approach to the Bible, and with the New Testament concept of the synergetic activity of the Holy Spirit. The charisma of inspiration does not imply a new revelation which transports its recipient into a sphere entirely different from his own. The concept of inerrancy reveals more about our desire for absolute certainty than it does about the inspiration of a biblical book." (Veselin Kesich, The Gospel Image Of Christ [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992], p. 69)

    "The most likely conclusion is that Daniel was written at a relatively late date, not just accepted into the canon late....Typically an apocalypse's author attempts to make it sound as though it was written in a previous age, forecasting as if they were future events things actually happening in the present for the book's author." (Paul Nadim Tarazi, The Old Testament: Introduction, Volume 2: Prophetic Traditions [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991], p. 207, n. 3 on p. 208)

    "the books of Daniel and Baruch may have been composed as late as the second century B.C....From the standpoint of the Orthodox Church, 'the entire Bible is inspired by God,' and this means that it 'contains no formal errors or inner contradictions concerning the relationship between God and the world.' The overall message of the Bible, that mankind has fallen under satanic bondage and that God has graciously acted in and through Christ to save us from that bondage, is infallibly true. According to the Orthodox doctrine of infallibility, the Church as a whole is the guardian of 'the eternal spiritual and doctrinal message of God' and is protected from error by the Holy Spirit. The Bible, therefore, as a testimony and proclamation of the Church concerning God's revealed plan of salvation, is without error in its central theological themes and affirmations. It is not necessary, however, for the Orthodox Christian to insist upon the literal truth of every statement contained in Holy Scripture. Many Orthodox scholars believe that the Bible may contain 'incidental inaccuracies of a non-essential character.'...But these kinds of historical and scientific inaccuracies do not undermine the coherence and validity of the essential theological message of Holy Scripture. The Orthodox Church, in affirming the divine inspiration and infallibility of the Holy Bible, does not exclude the possibility that the Bible might contain some minor errors of fact, but she insists upon the absolute truth of scripture's overall message of salvation." (George Cronk, The Message Of The Bible [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1982], pp. 18, 21-22)

    "As Fr. Georges Florovsky commented (in his article 'The Boundaries of the Church'), St. Cyprian was right to affirm that salvation resides only within the Church, but 'he defined this in too hastily and too narrowly.' The designation of such people as 'schismatics' clearly indicates that this situation is not considered normal, and that their reunion with the bishop is desired; but that St. Basil can affirm that they are 'of the Church' is an important reminder that the Church is broader than those united with the bishop, and includes all those baptized in the right faith (even if schismatic)."

    ORTHODOX: Oh, so it is only the churches themselves that are liberal, but the seminary is pristine?

    Now you're changing the goalposts, for this was your original statement:

    Now how many "evangelical" seminaries are not teaching the same? Not many I'll wager. A few tiny and obscure ones perhaps.

    I answered that. If you think there are liberals teaching in SBC seminaries, then go and find them and report to us.

    ORTHODOX: If the doctrinal standard was always listened too, we wouldn't be talking about a liberal "Orthodox" professor.

    And how is this a response to "The doctrinal standard of the SBC is the BFM 2000?"

    ORTHODOX: My dictionary gives a much wider definition.

    I'm using it in a standard fashion when discussing theology. For example, a general spectrum: Liberal - Neo-Orthodox - Neo-Evangelical - Fundamental.

    Perhaps you should familiarize yourself with standard nomenclature.

    Here's a start: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Christianity

    "Men within the OPC, including at least one member of the Committee itself, teach heresy regarding the Gospel and many other fundamentals of the faith.

    So I take it you do not feel that justification by faith alone is a fundamental of the faith?

    NPP/Federal Visionism is an amorphous phenomenon. It has taken on many permutations. Some deny justification by faith alone; others do not. On the Trinity, etc.,they are in line with the fundamentals.

    I also don't regard Robbins as a proper source. For Robbins accuses anybody not like himself and his circle of Clarkians to be on the road to heresy, to be liberal, etc.

    ORTHODOX: Ahh, it's all so easy when you can disavow any connection with them when they go off the rails.

    Why are you objecting? You do this all the time.

    This is just a diversionary tactic, for you thought you had produced exculpatory evidence v. WTSCA, but you made a mistake, and I am under no obligation to answer for every seminary in Protestantism.

  8. Orthodox wrote:

    "No, the issues are a bit more subtle than that."

    The reason why the issues are "more subtle" is because you're changing your argument, as you often do. You're taking portions of what you said on other issues, combining them with some additional claims you want to make in this context, and acting as if that combination represents the argument I was responding to. But it doesn't. I was responding to what you claimed about how a rule of faith allegedly is invalidated if people disagree about the canon of that rule of faith. If you want to revise your previous argument, then you're thereby acknowledging that the previous argument was wrong.

    You write:

    "If the Church is that source, it's not necessarily important that it have the correct canon, since that is not the criteria of truth. If you have extra books it is ok as long as the Church only interprets them according to truth. If you have too few books it is ok as long as those books don't contain anything important that is otherwise known. But if your source is sola scriptura, then unless you have an infallible canon, you have no assuredness that you either have all the important truth or that you don't have some important falsities thrown in."

    As I explained to you, I was addressing Eastern Orthodoxy's canon of Tradition, not just "books". Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other over what is and isn't Tradition. Which books to consider scripture isn't the only issue they disagree with each other about. If Protestant disagreements over what is and isn't scripture would invalidate sola scriptura, then why wouldn't Eastern Orthodox disagreements about what is and isn't Tradition invalidate the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith?

    You refer to how Eastern Orthodox derive their rule of faith from "one source", but Protestants can say the same, since they agree in going back to God, Jesus, the apostles, etc. If a general agreement about "the church" makes Eastern Orthodox disagreements acceptable, then why wouldn't general agreement about Jesus, the apostles, some portions of scripture, etc. make Protestant disagreements acceptable?

    As far as "assuredness" is concerned, as we've explained to you many times, probability is sufficient. Your false judgment that Eastern Orthodoxy is true is a fallible judgment you've made. All of us rely on fallible judgments involving probabilities. Christianity is a religion involving a historical revelation, and historical judgments are matters of probability. Where's your "assuredness" that you're interpreting Jesus, the apostles, the church fathers, etc. correctly in order to arrive at your trust in Eastern Orthodoxy?

  9. ORTHODOX: Are we supposed to just take your word for it?

    And what is the point of the quote barrage?

    A. I'm merely quoting your own sources about you to you.

    B. To draw your attention to issues you failed to address and that you gloss right over on a regular basis.

    Only "some" do? Uh ok, but in this document it refers to faculty of Westminster and RTS endorsing justification by faith-plus-works.

    So the question remains unanswered.

    No, it refers to particular individuals.

    And, you're changing the goalposts again. I answered your question, and I'm not responsible to answer for seminaries that I did not name. I'm responsible for calling what is "liberal" by that name within the constraints of proper usage.

    ORTHODOX: And I'm looking at the dictionary definition under the heading "in theology".

    And I'm looking in several systematic theology texts. I'm drawing from historical theology as as discipline, and I'm looking in the scholarly literature. Unlike you, I don't get my information from Merriam-Webster, and if I do, I try to delve deeper to find out what it means.

    Now you rightly criticised Tarazi for suggesting that some of Paul's epistles were actually the work of later people in his community.

    But in Barry's own words, he has no problem with the idea that later redactors and master redactors fiddled with the inspired text. And then he says "The
    issues are somewhat different with regard to the NT, but with similar underlying
    principles." !!

    So I wonder what redactors and master redactors Barry envisages. Apparently the NT books also have redactors, and these authors/ redactors are not concerned with accuracy. (So that means they have errors I guess?).

    As I said, I'm not responsible for interacting with every example you name, Orthodox.

    And, if you'd pay attention, everybody believes that the OT was redacted. The text we have "from Moses" has been altered quite a bit. There is nothing not "conservative" about that, unless you believe that Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch means that the text as we have it is exactly like that one that Moses wrote and that Scripture is the product of divine dictation.

    That's not the argument at all. Rather, the argument is that he wrote it originally and that the text as we have it, and the text that was extant in the 1st century itself, does not take away from the original, and that the original included "redactors" - as he points out many think Joshua redacted Moses (Deuteronomy). Luke was a redactor too. He used many sources.

    Redaction criticism is not the sole property of higher critical theory. It has its uses. If you would bother to take a class in New Testament you'd know that.

    In the scholarly literature, many biblical scholars do not believe there even WAS a Moses! Some believe there WAS one, but that he was NOT an Israelite! And a very large number of them believe he had NOTHING TO DO with the content or recording of the first 5 books of the bible! What they often still parrot, much to the chagrin of Assyriologists, is the Documentary Hypothesis. This gentleman is quite far from the DH. On the other hand, it seems your communion is very comfortable with it.

    As to what he stated, I noticed you left his statement truncated: the gospel writers are not concerned with accuracy in the same way that our modern writers of history and biography are, and it is a great mistake to impute to them this standard.

    So, the contrast is not over "accuracy" but modern standards and ancient standards. In context, he's talking about the arrangement of the pericopes. The synoptics don't agree. Matthew uses gematria in his genealogy. Luke uses another genealogy. There are reasons for this, and that isn't the way modern historians and biographers write. Who says otherwise?

    GENE: If you think there are liberals teaching in SBC seminaries, then go and find them and report to us.

    What about this article?

    "While some of those departing left their posts at normal retirement age or due to normal career moves, most of the departures have been tied to campus turmoil since the election of Albert Mohler as seminary president in March 1993. Mohler, with backing from trustees, has set out to steer the Southern Baptist Convention's oldest seminary in a markedly conservative direction. "

    "The two most recent names added to the list, one a moderate and the other a conservative added to the faculty to balance an alleged liberal drift"

    "The other professor, Carey Newman, though hired after Mohler became president, nonetheless fell out of favor, in part because he supports women in ministry. "

    Sounds to me like there has been an all out war in SBC seminaries between liberals and conservatives. If conservatives are gaining the upper hand, good luck to you, but it wouldn't be cause for throwing stones next door.

    The SBC seminaries went through a change in the 80's and 90's, particularly SEBTS and SBTS. Nobody denies this. I was at SEBTS when that happened. As I understand from those who were there, SBTS faculty had not been required to sign the Abstract of Principles despite the Convention mandating that all the seminaries have their faculties sign their confessional documents. Mohler came to SBTS and shortly thereafter rolled out the Abstract of Principles and, in short, told his faculty that if they could not in good conscience sign, they should leave. There was an exodus. Nobody denies this. But where can you find a theological liberal at SBTS today? How does this relate to the current state of the SBC seminaries?

    I would also add that "supporting women in ministry" does not constitute a denial of a fundamental of the faith. It constitutes a denial of the BFM 2000, and at the time Newman left, the governing trustees' views on that issue.

    GENE: And how is this a response to "The doctrinal standard of the SBC is the BFM 2000?"

    ORTHODOX: Why did you bother referring to it then?

    Like I said, the BFM2000 is the doctrinal standard at the seminaries. Is it a liberal document? No.

  10. Orthodox said:

    "Again, (a) because the Church is the criterion, a disagreement doesn't necessarily indicated an important disagreement, and because the Church is guaranteed to have the important truths, and all the important truths, we don't have to worry we're missing that book of scripture that has that important doctrine missing."

    You keep adding qualifiers that you didn't include when we initially discussed the issue. But even your latest revision of your argument doesn't make sense.

    The issue we've been discussing is what's believed by individuals who are following a rule of faith. If "the Church has" the truth on the issues that you and Paul Tarazi disagree about, the fact remains that you and Paul Tarazi disagree about those issues. You didn't say that it's acceptable for Protestants to disagree about the canon if they believe that the truth about the canon exists in the historical record, for example. You said that the disagreement among individuals was sufficient to invalidate sola scriptura.

    Are you claiming that you somehow know that all Eastern Orthodox individuals are assured of understanding all important truths? Do all Eastern Orthodox infants understand Chalcedonian Christology, for example? Do mentally ill Eastern Orthodox understand every important truth? Are there no Eastern Orthodox individuals who are wrong about anything important?

    And why should we accept your "important" qualifier? You said that a Protestant disagreement over even one book of scripture would be unacceptable. Would you explain how a disagreement over the canonicity of Esther, for example, allegedly involves an important issue, whereas Eastern Orthodox disagreements over multiple books of scripture, the issues you disagree with Paul Tarazi about, etc. don't involve anything important? In your first comment in this thread, you referred to Tarazi's views as "unacceptable" and "disturbing", and you said that you want to "apologize" for Tarazi's errors in the name of Eastern Orthodoxy. Are you now going to claim that Tarazi's disagreements with you aren't important? If you get to define such issues as unimportant, then why can't Protestants define an issue like the canonicity of Esther as unimportant (much as you say the same about Eastern Orthodox disagreements over the canon)?

    You write:

    "For anything important enough, we have a mechanism for resolving it, you do not."

    See my comments on that mechanism earlier in this thread, the comments you ignored. You only responded to three sentences from that post, but I addressed your claim quoted above after the three sentences you quoted.

    You write:

    "You cannot trace an infallible theological trace back to the apostles, because you have no source of information you consider infallible to say that these books are apostolic. You have a break in the chain."

    I answered that argument in one of the many previous discussions that you left:


    You write:

    "Because you have no theological basis to even say whose agreements or disagreements even matter in the first place. Since you can't say where the church is, all aggrements or disagreements among people are just moot."

    I've addressed how I identify the church in previous discussions that you left. I also explained that you don't know who allegedly is and isn't part of Eastern Orthodoxy. You said that you trust your leadership to make such judgments, but the leadership doesn't provide you with ongoing lists of which people are and aren't Eastern Orthodox from day to day, from hour to hour, etc. And we have no reason to trust your judgment that Eastern Orthodoxy is the church.

    Would you explain how "all aggrements or disagreements among people are just moot" for Protestants? If I have good reason to believe that Jesus taught X, then why would whether other people adhere to X be "moot" for me?

    You write:

    "Your side cannot even agree on this!"

    You're citing some comments of James White that I've already addressed. Even if you were interpreting James White correctly, saying that he disagrees with me doesn't address what I said. Again, all of us rely on fallible judgments involving probabilities. Christianity is a religion involving a historical revelation, and historical judgments are matters of probability. Are you going to claim that your historical judgment about Eastern Orthodoxy is an infallible certainty? If so, why should we believe that claim?

  11. Orthodox wrote:

    "Uh no, the problem is on your side all there is to talk about is a bunch of individuals. There is no historical record or consensus, because there is no objective church or objective people of God or objective source for the canon in the first place. Just millions of individuals running around doing their own thing. On our side the consensus of the church is itself a criteria, and if some individuals come along after the fact and express a different opinion they are wrong by definition."

    You're repeating arguments I've addressed in previous discussions that you left. For example:






    As I've explained before, you have to make a historical case for Jesus before you can accept the alleged authority of the church Jesus founded. If church authority is needed before we can establish anything like the authority of Jesus or the authority of the apostles, then how do we justify the alleged authority of the church in the first place? That alleged authority of the church that you're appealing to would have to come further down the line. And since Jesus refers to Old Testament books as scripture and implies the scriptural status of New Testament books by means of what He taught about apostolic authority, we can make a historical case for scripture on the basis of the authority of Jesus without accepting anything like an Eastern Orthodox view of the church. Even before Jesus was born, there was historical evidence for the Divine inspiration of Isaiah in the form of fulfilled prophecy, for example. That's one of the reasons why Jesus could expect the people of His day to already have accepted the authority of books like Isaiah without any ruling on the subject or any consensus from the Eastern Orthodox denomination.

    You refer to "the consensus of the church", but you've never justified your definition of the church (by your own admission), you've never justified your claim about the significance of a consensus, and you reject any consensus against your beliefs. When the evidence suggests that believers of previous generations didn't agree with you about something like praying to the deceased, the veneration of images, or the perpetual virginity of Mary, you ignore the evidence, claim that the evidence is insufficient, or tell us that sometimes the minority is right. You appeal to a consensus involving Roman Catholics and other non-Eastern Orthodox in one context, but tell us, in another context, that only the beliefs of Eastern Orthodox are relevant. Why should we be convinced by such vague, inconsistent, unsupported appeals to "the church", "consensus", etc.?

    You write:

    "No I don't claim that, it is a straw man."

    If you aren't referring to agreement among Eastern Orthodox individuals, then what are you referring to? Why did you refer to disagreements among Protestant individuals, if you didn't intend to address individuals? If you're going to appeal to a concept of "the church" that doesn't involve Eastern Orthodox individuals, then where do we find this entity that doesn't involve individuals? Why should we believe that this entity teaches what you think it does, and that Eastern Orthodox leaders you disagree with, such as Paul Tarazi, aren't interpreting that entity correctly? And why can't Protestants similarly appeal to some entity outside of individual Protestants?

    You write:

    "Well the most radical problems consist of the conjecture that you are missing books from your canon, because that opens up an infinite amount of potential 'missing' information."

    As I've explained to you before, the possibility of a "missing book" isn't equivalent to a probability. Your judgment that Eastern Orthodoxy has the characteristics you think it has is your fallible judgment. Just as it's possible that I'm unaware of another book of scripture, it's possible that you're unaware of another book of scripture that would change your judgment about Eastern Orthodoxy. When you were examining the evidence that led you to Eastern Orthodoxy, perhaps you overlooked some evidence for a book or a Tradition that would alter your conclusions. If such a possibility defeats sola scriptura, then it also defeats your rule of faith. All of us are relying on probability judgments. Why do you keep using self-defeating arguments?

    You write:

    "In the case of potentially too many books, one could talk about the long and continuing debate over Revelation, and that this book has caused no small controversies among the sola scriptura churches."

    Are you referring to disagreements over the interpretation of Revelation? If so, then you're changing the subject. Disagreements over the interpretation of a book of scripture aren't equivalent to disagreements over the extent of the canon. And are you suggesting that you agree with all Eastern Orthodox interpretations of scripture? You agree with Paul Tarazi's interpretations of the gospels, for example? Since Eastern Orthodox disagree with each other about both the extent of the canon and the interpretation of books within the canon, how is your criticism supposed to apply to Protestants, but not to Eastern Orthodox? Are you going to arbitrarily add another qualifier to your argument, one you didn't mention previously?

    You write:

    "I don't claim that, but then Tarazi has stepped outside of Orthodoxy. I can say that because there is a standard to measure that against."

    Protestants have a standard. The fact that you don't agree with the standard doesn't prove that it isn't a standard. I've explained these things to you repeatedly, and you left the discussions without interacting with what I'd said.

    You've told us that you trust your leadership to determine who is and isn't Eastern Orthodox. Are you saying that your leadership has removed Paul Tarazi from Eastern Orthodoxy? I doubt it. If he's still Eastern Orthodox, then your disagreements with him represent disagreements within Eastern Orthodoxy. If such disagreements don't invalidate the Eastern Orthodox rule of faith, then why are we supposed to think that they invalidate sola scriptura?

    If you can appeal to a standard outside of Eastern Orthodox individuals, and claim that Paul Tarazi has "stepped outside" of that standard, then why can't a Protestant who believes in the canonicity of book X argue that another Protestant who denies the canonicity of book X has "stepped outside" of the historical evidence for the canon, for example? Just as you can appeal to a standard that you think Paul Tarazi is violating, Protestants can appeal to a standard that they think other another Protestant is violating.

    You write:

    "If the Church says Esther isn't important, and the Church is authoritative to say so, then so it is. But if you say so, well who are you to say so?"

    An individual can appeal to evidence. The fact that he's an individual doesn't mean that his judgments have no basis outside of himself. Your judgment that Eastern Orthodoxy is what you claim it is was an individual judgment. You made the judgment, incorrectly, based on what you thought of the data. Again, why do you keep using self-defeating arguments?

    You write:

    "And as I said before, you confound the issues of individual fallibility in reaching conclusions with the fallibility of transmission of the truth itself."

    You keep repeating arguments that have already been refuted. For example:


    Again, arguing that your denomination is infallible doesn't change the fact that you're relying on fallible means to arrive at that conclusion, such as fallibly copied historical documents, the fallible work of translators, fallible sources who tell you when the relevant historical events occurred, etc. If you arrive at and interpret your allegedly infallible church through fallible means, then you don't have the sort of unbroken infallible chain that you keep referring to. When you read the church fathers, you're reading a fallible edition of their writings produced by fallible men. When you read a translation of an ecumenical council's rulings, you're relying on fallible men, many of them non-Eastern-Orthodox, to do the work of translating, transmission, dating, etc.

    You write:

    "You don't identify the Church, you just identify individuals."

    If the church consists of individuals, then what's wrong with my discussing individuals who constitute the church?

    You said:

    "You put forward what you think is a great argument, but smart people on your own side say it is bunk. Now if finding the truth is such a completely intellectual exercise as people around here make out, and even the smart people can't figure it out, what hope everyone else?"

    Saying that James White is a "smart person" doesn't justify your refusal to distinguish between what you think he believes on a subject and what I believe on that subject. And it doesn't justify your suggestion that it's too difficult to "figure out" the issue we're discussing. If this issue is too difficult for you to discuss, then stop discussing it.

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