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Stress-testing the
mind of Christ

Where a recovering ex-atheist rams the Bible into other worldviews to see what breaks (note: Scripture cannot be broken)


presentations
What’s the difference between Sola and Solo Scriptura?

There is a clear and important distinction between the Bible being the sole rule of faith, and the Bible being the sole source of knowledge.

I have found many opponents of Protestantism—along, I’m afraid, with some Protestants themselves—to be strangely confused on this question. But the distinction is really pretty basic:

Sola Scriptura: the Bible is the only “rulebook” that sets out Christian doctrine. Although we don’t need anything else to know God and be saved by him, God didn’t deliver it in a hermetically-sealed chamber; rather, he put it in the middle of a vast library full of other sources that help us understand it better.

Solo Scriptura: the Bible is the only “rulebook” that sets out Christian doctrine, and any attempt to nuance or finesse our understanding of it using other sources of knowledge is probably from the devil. We don’t need that malarky, we don’t want that malarky, and in fact, you should all probably split up and each go into a separate forest with your Authorized Version and read it alone for the rest of your lives like hermits.

As you can see, Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura could agree on claims such as:

However, Sola Scriptura would start to diverge quite rapidly from Solo Scriptura, by affirming claims such as:

Solo Scriptura, on the other hand, seems to be characterized by an attitudes such as:

Obviously these claims are just silly. The Bible is sufficient for doctrine and practice, but that doesn’t mean we cannot refine or expand our understanding of it using other sources. To say this is really to deny our obligation to understand God’s word using all the resources he has made available, and even to deny that he has providentially arranged these resources for us. It ends up saying that the Bible is the only source of truth—a self-refuting statement if ever there were one, since we must first know truths about language to read it.

Sola Scriptura, on the other hand, says that the Bible is the only inerrant source of truth, the only God-breathed source of truth, but certainly not the only source period.

20 comments

  1. John

    Now I will explain to you why these two allegedly different positions collapse into a mass of contradictions and special pleading.

    Here we have our sola scriptura proponents, keenly pointing out that they are not like that solo caricature, and they will:

    1) take creeds, confessions, and generally agreed doctrines as prima-facie orthodoxy. and

    2) allow external sources to contextualise our understanding of the bible.

    The trouble is, every single sola scriptura proponent, when faced with resolving a theological dispute, and faced with either overwhelming external evidence or else overwhelming prima facie orthodoxy evidence, immediately jumps ship from the sola boat to the solo boat, claiming that scripture is on their side against these other evidences.

    Are these situations where someone could even plausibly claim that scripture is clear for their position? Not at all! In fact they’re often matters where protestants themselves can’t agree.

    Two obvious examples are the baptists’ refusal to baptise children, and the presbyterian’s refusal to give children communion. Scripture says nothing directly about these topics, and Protestants themselves have spirited debates on the answers. Yet before the 12th century, the ENTIRE church was totally in agreement on both issues. Children were to be baptised, and children were to receive communion.

    Take another example, the real presence of Christ in the communion. No matter how much philosophising one does, the reality is, nothing in the bible says it is NOT really his body, and plenty of verses say it is. Now we have high church Anglicans who would say it is his body, we’ve got Lutherans who say his body is “in, on or under” there somewhere, Calvinists who say his body is really there, but only spiritually, Zwinglians who say it isn’t there at all. Do any of these groups (save the high Anglicans), supposedly following sola scriptura think to resolve this conundrum by looking to the universally understood belief prior to the 15th century? No! They fall right back into solo scriptura.

    And of course we’ve got the grape juice topic of the other thread. To me at least, it seems like grape juice is now a majority position of Protestants. Apparently, you say, this situation did not come without some internal fighting. Scripture is a little vague on the topic, but the generally held belief, or orthodoxy was always 100% for wine. So all these Protestant churches, none of them I’m sure would claim to be solo scriptura, all would claim to be sola scriptura, were quite ready to jump ship from orthodoxy because scripture gave them just a little bit of wiggle room. Forget historical sources about what it was most likely Jesus drank. Forget orthodoxy. Use the smidgen of wiggle room within scripture to wander off doing your own thing.

    Take the Protestant aversion to images in their churches. Pretty much all Protestants share this. Sure occasionally Anglicans will have a stained glass window or two, but they’re kind of embarrassed about it. When asked why, Protestants will refer to the OT commands about graven images. What they conveniently ignore is that the very same book that condemns graven images also commands images in the temple. So what to do? Do Protestants look to external sources? Maybe the fact that when you dig up Jewish temples from 500BC, or synagogues from 200AD, they are totally filled with images. Would they look to external sources to resolve the conundrum? Noooo. Would they look to agreed orthodoxy, in the 7th ecumenical council? Noooo. They hold to one thing only, personal interpretation.

    Far from being a straw man invented by anti-Protestants, solo scriptura is a straw man invented by Protestants to distract people’s attention away from the fact that their rule of faith has no answers and can provide no answers. By giving the pretence that they give lip service to the historical church, they can pretend they have history on their side as a backup, except when we prod and probe, we find its just a mirage. There’s nothing there.

    This plays out over and over and over again. Suggest to a Protestant something unusual, yet not against scripture, and they will be berated as solo scriptura, because of history and orthodoxy and blah blah. But point out that THEIR beliefs are a new invention by Protestants, and suddenly the baby and the bathwater is thrown out the window in favour of personal interpretation.

    For all Protestants, personal interpretation ALWAYS trumps all other concerns. ALWAYS. When did you last hear a protestant say that their preferred interpretation is blah, but they will defer to orthodoxy or they will defer to historical scholarship. It never happens. If it ever did happen with regularity, they would cease to be Protestant.

    You see it’s like this. Those other things either have authority, or they don’t have authority. If they don’t have authority, they are nothing. They are an inconvenience to be abandoned when it is expedient to do so. You’ve observed how wine was abandoned when people thought they knew better, you know its true.

    Contrary to your over-inflated opinion of your own exegetical abilities, all orthodoxy represents consensus of what the historical church thought about various issues and therefore carries the enormous weight of what the greatest minds of the church thought, as well as an overwhelming majority thought. Minds like John Chrysostom who spent day and night reading the scriptures, and who were immersed completely in the mind of the church. How on earth would you propose to weigh your own abilities against not just him, which would be an enormity in itself, but him and consensus of all the others of similar intellect, similar immersion in the scriptures, similar immersion in the mind of the church? Why would you even think to do such thing?

    You call tradition something that man makes up and changes all the time, but its no such thing. It’s the sum total of the wisdom of the church. Against you, under your tree. And none of you folks under your own personal trees can agree amongst yourselves. And yet all those great minds did all agree, in the main. Why would that be? I see three possibilities. (a) They were all smarter than you. (b) They all had the correct original cultural environment for understanding and you don’t. (c) they had access to the authentic apostolic tradition, and you don’t. None of the possibilities seem like a happy one for the Protestant proponent of their own wisdom.

  2. Dr P

    John, I ‘ve rarely found appeals to so-called “apostolic tradition” helpful because the Catholic churches disagree over what it is just as Protestants do over sola Scriptura. For instance, you can’t even agree on: The canon, as the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church recognizes 81 books whilse the Assyrians omit the apocrypha and antilegomena; what the sacraments ar e, as the Assyrians claim that making the sign of the cross is a sacrament; the nature of the Eucharist, as positions vary between full transubstantiation a la Aquinas to real presence to the literal presence of Christ ‘s blood taken from him and added to the dough (Asssyrian); use of azymes versus leavened bread; intinction versus separate elements; RC ‘s and EOC’s disagree on whether Our Lady was assumed into heaven dead or alive, and on the nature of various claims of her apparitions; etc and soforth. The idea of a unified patristic witness unchanged throughout church history is a myth. Not only mus the Catholic of whatever brand concern himself over the proper interpretation of Scripurr, but mus equally worry about properly interpreting Tradition – and in both cases, knowing what is versus what ain’t.

    As for a Catholic analogy to solo Scriptura, you have SSPX and verious rad trads and sede’s, plenty of Old Calendarist EO breakaways, Old Catholics, AC’s, and a variety of microchurches peopled by a variety of cranks. All of these folks have the REAL tradition. Besides, when ar we going to find out what Vatican II “really means;” after all the fuss over it during the past 50 years, you’d think the pope would let us all in on the secret.

    In fine, tu quoque, although the chaos and disunity is anything but fine.

  3. John

    For instance, you can’t even agree on: The canon, as the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church recognizes 81 books whilse the Assyrians omit the apocrypha and antilegomena

    You had the crowd captivated there with your list of differences in tradition.. but oh wait, just as you stood ready to pull them into your sola scriptura camp they realised, oh wait, you’ve snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by pointing out that the SCRIPTURES differ. Everyone thought for about 2 seconds that scripture was waiting to sort out all the problems with the evil tradition, but then we find that scripture itself is a tradition, that people don’t agree on.

    There was poor Bnonn, trying to argue that we know the scriptures because God manipulated history so there was no disagreement, and then you go and knock him off his high horse by bringing up the Ethiopians and the Assyrians.

    Of course the canon is way less of an issue for the tradition based churches, because we don’t have a million people reading the text in isolation from the tradition and coming up with 50 new doctrines per day that nobody ever thought of before, in need of refutation.

    But lets pat you on your head and pretend for a moment this is significant, how are YOU going to deal with it? I already said that the first step is to identify the church you trust then ask it the canon. So pointing out the Ethiopians isn’t really contradicting anything I’ve said.

    the Assyrians claim that making the sign of the cross is a sacrament;

    Anything can be sacramental. You can make up your own sacrament if you want. But crossing yourself isn’t one of the top 10.

    You seem to think that every tradition is a Tradition. Nobody ever claimed that. Pointing out lists of differences in tradition is not the point.

    RC ‘s and EOC’s disagree on whether Our Lady was assumed into heaven dead or alive

    Actually we don’t disagree. If we did, things would be awkward for eastern catholics.

    The idea of a unified patristic witness unchanged throughout church history is a myth.

    No more mythological than a unified canon through church history.

    If you can’t recognise an overall core tradition in an official church, then why not give credence to the Marcion canon, or the gnostic canon, or whatever little schisms and heretics and cults we find in history? The only reason you give credence to your canon at all, is because it has some relationship to the church that held to some stuff in common, over and against the other guys.

    Not only mus the Catholic of
    whatever brand concern himself over the proper interpretation of Scripurr, but mus equally worry about properly interpreting Tradition

    You don’t seem to get it that we interpret scripture AND tradition communally. We no more go off under a tree to interpret tradition than we do for scripture. If I see something in tradition I don’t understand, I find out how the church understands it. I don’t come up with something brand new like a Protestant would with scripture.

    plenty of Old Calendarist EO breakaways

    And how to old calendarists differ? Actually they don’t differ AT ALL. They don’t even differ on the calendar, in as much as some official EO churches use the old calendar. They are in schism only. How much does this differ to the Protestant situation? LOTS.

    Besides, when ar we going to find out what Vatican II “really means;” after all the fuss over it during the past 50 years

    Good question, because the Romans don’t think they as bound by the tradition as we do. Everybody can see it is a departure from tradition, even honest Catholics. But this is hardly an argument against tradition. It is an argument against making up new stuff.

    Tell me, what would you say to someone who started attending your church with an Ethiopian bible, and telling everyone it was all inspired scripture?

  4. steve

    John:

    “Two obvious examples are the baptists’ refusal to baptise children, and the presbyterian’s refusal to give children communion. Scripture says nothing directly about these topics, and Protestants themselves have spirited debates on the answers. Yet before the 12th century, the ENTIRE church was totally in agreement on both issues. Children were to be baptised, and children were to receive communion.”

    i) Did the Latin Church practice paedocommunion?

    ii) Why classify the baptism question as an issue of “orthodoxy?”

    iii) It’s demonstrably false to say critics of paedobaptism ignore church history. For instance:

    Kurt Aland, Did the Early Church Baptize Infants?

    Everett Ferguson,  Baptism in the Early Church: History, Theology, and Liturgy in the First Five Centuries 

    Steven A. McKinion, “Baptism in the Patristic Writings”

    David F. Wright, Infant Baptism in Historical Perspective: Collected Studies

    “Take another example, the real presence of Christ in the communion. No matter how much philosophising one does, the reality is, nothing in the bible says it is NOT really his body, and plenty of verses say it is.”

    A tendentious assertion.

    “To me at least, it seems like grape juice is now a majority position of Protestants.”

    Including Lutherans and Anglicans?

    “Apparently, you say, this situation did not come without some internal fighting. Scripture is a little vague on the topic, but the generally held belief, or orthodoxy was always 100% for wine.”

    Why classify the wine/grape juice debate as a question of “orthodoxy”?

    “When asked why, Protestants will refer to the OT commands about graven images.”

    Not Protestants in general but Puritans in particular.

    “What they conveniently ignore is that the very same book that condemns graven images also commands images in the temple.”

    That’s equivocal inasmuch as the question at issue concerns images of God.

    Moreover, the iconoclast controversy bears witness to a lack of consensus in the ancient church.

    “Minds like John Chrysostom who spent day and night reading the scriptures, and who were immersed completely in the mind of the church. How on earth would you propose to weigh your own abilities against not just him, which would be an enormity in itself, but him and consensus of all the others of similar intellect, similar immersion in the scriptures, similar immersion in the mind of the church? Why would you even think to do such thing?”

    Origen was Chrysostom’s intellectual superior, yet Eastern Orthodoxy classifies him as a heretic.

    Augustine and Aquinas were both more brilliant than Chrysostom. Calvin was more versatile.

    Isaac Newton was immersed in the Scripture’s. He was at the very top of the bell curve. Yet he unitarian.

    The Greek Fathers and ecumenical councils aren’t “sum total wisdom of the church.” At most, they are the sum total wisdom of some bishops, theologians, and a few gifted laymen. They only represent collective wisdom up to the time of the last ecumenical council. The collective wisdom of the church didn’t come to a screeching halt in the 8C. The collective wisdom of the church includes the Protestant movement.

    It’s not as if most Christians in the patristic era were polled on their theological views or given a vote. And it’s not as if they were free to attend the denomination of their choice. John’s appeal go the “mind of the church” is a textbook case of sample selection bias.

    “Consensus”? What about all the Arian bishops? Or Nestorius–Archbishop of Constantinople? What about the Oriental Orthodox Church? Or the Barlaamites?

  5. Dr P

    John, you still haven’t identified your “we;” ie your church affiliation. I’m LCMS: I showed you mine, do show me yours.

    The topic of this post is sola vs solo sciptura,, and you’ve challenged Protestants to state how they can tell the difference, as you seem to be coming from a “true church” theology which states that there is nodifference by definition. I added that your probelm is greater than mine, as you must interpret both Scripture and Tradition, to which you riposted with rather lame sarcasm and evasion…and factual error.

    Zum Beispiel, RC’s clebrate Our Lady’s Live assumption into heaven, while the EO’s celebrate her dormition (ie, her post mortem assumption). Who is a saint (Ethiopians canonized Pilate and his wife, Russians the murderous Czar Nicholas), the contents of the canon, the relationship between Scripture and Tradition (RC’s say they’re two differrent streams of revelation, whereas the EO’s say they’re two sides of the same coin), the sacraments, transubstantiation versus real presence, etc, show that this alleged tradition is no unifyer at all. There can be no “mere schism” in your framework, as so much depends upon the office of the papacy, the episcopacy, and communion with Rome (to the RC’s) or Istanbul (EO’s). BTW, Uniate Catholics accept the Roman doctrine of Assumption – outside of a few externals Rome (but not the others) consider to be adiaphora, Uniates toe the Roman line.

  6. Dr P

    Sorry for the break – I hit the wrong button and posted when I meant to return. Anyway, you accuse Protestants of inventing doctrines cum picking and choosing, but you are no different: whatever church you belong to, you belong to it out of a conscious decision to accept her testimony as valid and true over other claimants to the truth. How is that different to what you accuse us of doing? Should your choice be called solo traditio? After all, you did say that RC’s are not “bound by the tradion,” but any searching of the Catholic blogosphere would quickly disabuse you of that notion…of course, it is the serious Catholics blogging rather that the “cafeteria Catholics” who practice contraception, have abortions, live around, support the homosexual agenda, and basically do as they please irrespective of their church’s dicta. The EO’s are no better. By definition, popes don’t “make up new stuff-” it is all a product of organic development a la Newman, having always been embryonically present.

    As for your question on how I’d answer the Ethiopian with his conflated canon, I guess I’ d start with Romans 3:2 and reject his additions based on the fact that they were not received from the OT church. I trust you know how the rest would go. BTW how would you answer him?

  7. John

    Dr P, I am Eastern Orthodox.

    You are quite wrong about Mary, Rome is quite upfront in saying that Mary died, as you can see from this vatican link that “a common tradition actually exists which sees Mary’s death as her entry into heavenly glory.”. And the eastern catholics celebrate the dormition and have icons of same, just like EO.

    you seem to be coming from a “true church” theology which states that there is nodifference by definition.

    The definition is too full of holes to function, and when we look at reality, we see indeed it doesn’t function.

    I added that your probelm is greater than mine, as you must interpret both Scripture and Tradition, to which you riposted with rather lame sarcasm and evasion…and factual error.

    I tried to explain it to you, but I’ll give it another shot from from another angle. How about you tell me… who has a clearer, less ambiguous definition of the trinity? Scripture, or the Orthodox Church? Or to put it another way, who is most likely to come to an orthodox understanding of the trinity, someone who picks up a Gideon bible in a hotel for the first time and reads it cover to cover, or someone who comes into an Orthodox church for the first time, hears the trinitarian prayers, hears the Nicean creed, and has an opportunity to chat over coffee with the priest? (Yes someone could chat with a Protestant pastor, but he would not be an actual authoritative hairpart of the tradition, like a priest is, and in any case, Protestantism is so diverse).

    Or to phrase the question another way, what is more debatable? The scriptural teaching on the trinity, or the Eastern Orthodox teaching on the trinity? Given the existence of unitarians, modalists, arians, JWs, adoptionists and so on and so forth, the answer should be obvious. But nobody is really going to dispute what the position of Orthodoxy is.

    The point is, tradition actually eliminates most of the interpretive problems, and doesn’t, as you try to imply, increase them by increasing the amount of information. Even where tradition is silent, that silence is itself a tradition. People who respect the tradition also respect its boundaries by not trying too hard to answer questions that it doesn’t answer. So even the things we’re not sure about, we mostly don’t get into arguments about.

    Do you seriously disagree with this? Do you really want to argue that the bible’s position on the trinity is clearer than the EO church’s position?

    Concerning who canonised who as a saint, nobody is claiming that the list of saints was passed down from the apostles, so its hardly relevant to the topic at hand.

    The relationship between scripture and tradition, I’ve read about this debate, and I think its all a definitional debate, and therefore a debate about nothing. We say scripture is a part of the Tradition, and Catholics have a like for referring to Tradition as those things passed down other than scripture. All it is is a debate about how to write your definitions. Catholics sometimes say that scripture contains everything, except you can’t understand it without the tradition. I would say if you can’t understand it without the tradition, it isn’t fully there anyway, so its like arguing about how many angels can dance on the pin of a needle.

    Concerning the alleged differences in the real presence, I’m willing to listen to what you’re claiming here, but as far as I see, the original churches clearly believe the eucharist is a holy thing, and treat every crumb with reverence, whereas Protestants, at least most of them, treat is nothing really, and flush the remainder down the sink like it was nothing. That’s the basic divide in christendom. If you want to make a serious argument there is some big argument between Catholic and Orthodox, or whatever, I’m willing to listen, but since we have no history of arguing about it, you’ve got a bit of a hill to climb there.

    whatever church you belong to, you belong to it out of a conscious decision to accept her testimony as valid and true over other claimants to the truth. How is that different to what you accuse us of doing?

    There are some major differences which I’d like to point out. Firstly, Protestants argue about dozens of issues, and dozens of issues are thought important enough to schism over. That means that any individual Protestant making their personal decisions about all these issues can’t find a church that actually believes the particular combination of beliefs that they hold to. This doesn’t bother 90% (I think) of Protestants, because 90% of Protestant churches barely publicise an official position, and the members don’t care about the theology. Of the remaining, I think probably three quarters of them just suffer churches with teachings they don’t agree with, because there is nobody they fully agree with. Any church will compromise on one point or another. And of the tiny remaining who are fully in agreement with their church, in my opinion they are fooling themselves that they independently came to the exact same set of conclusions as the church they belong to, and in fact they are beholden to the traditions and persuasiveness of their local pastor or else some other teacher they’ve come across.

    In other words, yes you and I both make choices, but my choice is certain to lead to a church I completely agree with, whereas Protestant choices usually don’t.

    Secondly, its undeniable to any honest person that the bible is ambiguous on various important topics. Therefore, where the ancient church agreed on how to interpret one of these issues, its important because its not unreasonable to think that a unanimous early testimony might be the apostolic approved one (as even Bnonn seems to at least partially admit). Therefore when I choose a church by listening to these early testimonies, I’m less reliant on my personal foibles and my personal cultural biases than you are. Sure you could outsource your decision making to your favourite exegete, but he wouldn’t have the special place in church history as the original church fathers.

    Thirdly, the people I look to for interpretation: the church fathers, are pretty much universally held in high esteem. Rome looks to them, EO looks to them, Calvin looked to them, Luther looked to them. EO is just the only ones who REALLY listen to them, thus we are the only ones consistent. Consistency is important to a good argument, and while Calvin and Luther and Rome look at the church fathers, they only talk the talk, they don’t walk the walk. For example, earlier I pointed out that the early church fathers were unanimous that after baptism, new converts were chrismated. Rome changed this in the 12th century, and I presume Luther and Calvin dropped it altogether. Inconsistency is the sign of a failed approach.

    If I didn’t choose to be EO, I’d have to choose to be something that looks 99% like EO anyway, because consistency demands it. In other words, even if I didn’t choose a church as a starting point like I advocate, but I chose all my doctrines individually, like you advocate, I would almost completely arrive at exactly the same place.

    “Should your choice be called solo tradition?”

    If you like, as long as you understand that we regard scripture as part of the tradition.

    After all, you did say that RC’s are not “bound by the tradion,” but any searching of the Catholic blogosphere would quickly disabuse you of that notion

    When I say that RCs are not bound by the tradition, what I mean is they’ve found a higher principle than the tradition: the papacy, and this allows them to override the tradition. So for example, they changed chrismation in the 12th century to be something given to grown ups, they ended paedo communion in the 12th century, they invented indulgences in the 11th century, ended baptism by immersion in the 12th century. In the 13th century they started withholding the cup and the wine to the laity. The 12th century saw the introduction of clerical celibacy. And there are many things like this. As the papacy rose to absolute power, the tradition faded as an absolute.

    By definition, popes don’t “make up new stuff-“

    The above changes were new stuff. Nobody denies that on all the above important issues, EO are on the side of the early church, and Rome departed from that tradition in the 2nd millennium. Right as the papacy was entering its zenith. Coincidence? Of course not. EO held tradition as the absolute rule of faith, thus we were not able to change it. Rome considered it subservient to the papacy, thus they were able to change it. That’s what I call making up new stuff.

    As for your question on how I’d answer the Ethiopian with his conflated canon, I guess I’ d start with Romans 3:2 and reject his additions based on the fact that they were not received from the OT church. I trust you know how the rest would go.

    It’s begging the question to say they weren’t received from the OT church. They didn’t pop out of thin air, the only logical place they could have come from is the OT church.

    In any case, the NT wasn’t received from the OT church, was it? Since the Ethiopian canon includes such things as the book of Clement, which is a church book, one would hardly expect to receive it from the OT.

    Care to try again?

    BTW how would you answer him?

    I’m not completely convinced that I need to answer him. I suspect all his extra books are still part of The Tradition, even if we don’t consider them as on a high level as they do. Having arguments about where a book lies on the scale of importance is not very important. Protestants know in their heart for example, that Esther isn’t as important as Romans, even though they lack the philosophical underpinnings to explain why.

  8. Dr P

    John, you are certainly right that this is a debate over definitions. Tradition, for instance, is defined differently by the different churches on your side of the aisle. To Rome, the papacy is curcial, wheras you folks see it as an aberration. From my perspective as an outsider, two churches claiming to be THE church can’t agree on what Tradition is, therefore disunity. Given Rome’s belief about doctrinal evolution, the “new stuff” you deplore was always there in embryonic form, & thus can’ t be said to be new. Again, who’s right, and how do you know?

    Per the canon, there’ a major difference in a book being Jewish versus OT church. The Jewish church never accepted the apocrypha, so Romans 3:2 stands as proof of their exclusion. The NT period superabounded with pseudepigraphic pious fiction/fraud’ so which wouldn’t that have occurred in the church’s nonage? BTW Lutherans recogniz a “canon within the canon” vis-a-vis relative importance of books, and freely admit that Romans trumps Esther for the purposes of doctrine. We also have no problem with the apocrypha as deuterocanonical, but would derive no doctrine therefrom. Books containing doctrinal distortions, superstion, and gross historical error are mot authoritative for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness. How’s that for trying again?

    Clear definitions can still be mistaken. Sola Scriptura, which means Scripture is norma normans non normata (it norms the norm, but is itself not normed) does not preclude appeal to tradition (vs Tradition), but rather is the final court of appeal. We both spoke of choosing (more on that later): you chose Scripture on the Trinity through the lens of the EOC while I chose via the Formula of Concord (Westminster or the Three Forms of Unity would do as well). All of these traditions are clear, but I believe the Preetestant/Western to be correct (the abominated filioque). I believe as strongly as you do in the Real Presence in the sacrament of the altar and the subsequent requirement to treat the elements with utmost respect, as here Scripture and Tradition speak with one unambiguous voice. However, part of that respectful handling is following Christ’s commands by example in distributing both elements individually rather than by intinction, which is an innovation. What say you?

    When Scripture and tradition don’t agree, like in worshiping God by serving images and relics, praying to dead people, atonement through one’s own good works, etc, Scripture trumps Tradition. The Jewish church was heavy laden with such tradition to the point of obscuring Scripure and hardening hearts sufficiently to lead to the church crucifying her Lord. Yes, Christ was crucified by a church so wrapped up in its own self-importance and preoccupied with will-worship that it could commit the ultimate sacrilege. That being so, why is it so hard to believe that the NT church couldn’t do the same? Her bloody hands buttress my case.

    I eschew the screed of semiliterate hayseeds who feel themselves called to be pastors and exegetes, and so am safe from JW’s, Mormons, and other counterfeits – and have spend a lot of time debating with them. I also was faced with the claims of the catholics of various stripes, and did investigate the EOC. The RC’ s have a lot of intellectual heavyweights in their ranks; then again, it takes superlative skill in mental gymnastics to simultaneously reject creationism and embrace Fatima. My take on the EOC was not much better; one Calvinist wag referred to it as “Roman Catholicism with a beard.” I see both as confusing Hellenism with the Word of God, distorting it in the same manner as the Jews before them did. God voiced His dispeasure with the former, so I can’t see why or how He’d be pleased with the latter. BTW are you cradle Orthodox or a convert?

    Getting back to the purpose of the post, you can see where I can differentiate between sola and solo Scriptura whereas you can’t: it comes down to presuppositions. You chose the EOC based on its agreement with your interpretation of Scripture and chruch history, whereas I chose Protestantism based on my understandings of the same. Years ago, at a comference in Dubois, PA, I spoke with Frank Schaefer about his conversion to the EOC, which was a quantum leap over the wall and into the EOC, accepting doctrines he previously rejected after switching paradigms. This is the same picture of how I became Protestant, contra your assertion that I merely picked delectable doctrines from off of a dim sum cart (where you got that idea from is beyond me).

    Per the saints, Catholic churches tell me that murderous monarchs and heathen lackeys are worshipful; they can’t agree on important matters like the contents of the canon, the sacraments, infallibility (hence irreformability) of their courts, the Hypostatic Union, the Trinity, etc; what sort of credible witness is that? To merely chose from among them as you did is no differentr from what I did. If I am reading you incorrectly, do show me where.

  9. Andrew Duggan

    Historically solo scriptura has been defined as rejecting the creeds of the church as being necessary to the agreement on what the scriptures teach so the church and its members can be unified, in favor each man having his own private interpretation, not, as you suggest, the rejection of the use of extra-biblical sources to interpret what Scripture says, which is actually essential to sola.

    See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1:9, which reads,
    The infallible rule of interpretation of scripture is the scripture itself; and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any scripture, (which is not manifold but one,) it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.

    Scripture interprets scripture, extra biblical sources not at all, at least in in Westminsterian orthodoxy.

    It doesn’t appear you are using sound resources for basic principles.

    You might also look at the Belgic confession which says

    Neither do we consider of equal value any writing of men, however holy these men may have been, with those divine Scriptures, nor ought we to consider custom, or the great multitude, or antiquity, or succession of times and persons, or councils, decrees or statutes, as of equal value with the truth of God, for the truth is above all; for all men are of themselves liars, and more vain than vanity itself. Therefore, we reject with all our hearts, whatsoever does not agree with this infallible rule, which the apostles have taught us, saying, Try the spirits whether they are of God. Likewise, if there come any unto you; and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house.

    Or in other words, the only legitimate way to determine whether or not something is or is not of God is to search the Scriptures.

    or the Second Helvetic

    THE TRUE INTERPRETATION OF SCRIPTURE. The apostle peter has said that the Holy Scriptures are not of private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20), and thus we do not allow all possible interpretations. Nor consequently do we acknowledge as the true or genuine interpretation of the Scriptures what is called the conception of the Roman Church, that is, what the defenders of the Roman Church plainly maintain should be thrust upon all for acceptance. But we hold that the interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves (from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages) and which agree with the rule of faith and love, and contributes much to the glory of God and man’s salvation.

    In which the part to pay attention to is “But we hold that the interpretation of the Scripture to be orthodox and genuine which is gleaned from the Scriptures themselves…”

    Lest you think that the parenthetical clause that follows “(from the nature of the language in which they were written, likewise according to the circumstances in which they were set down, and expounded in the light of and unlike passages and of many and clearer passages)” allows for anything, it’s purpose is to explain the process by which the Scriptures are to be used in interpreting other Scriptures, not to give license to use extra biblical literature a place explaining the meaning of Scripture.

    As it was designed to be the WCF is concise and to the point. Scripture themselves are to interpret Scripture.

    So when you say of Sola…
    “Where Scripture appears ambiguous on some issue, God does not require us to know the answer with certainty, but it is nonetheless good to consult available contemporary sources that can clarify what God intended to convey.”

    That runs contrary to both the scriptures and to the WCF. First, that the scriptures may be seemingly unclear on something does not necessitate the idea that God does not require us to know the answer with certainty. As Christ commands in Matt 28:20 we are to teach everything he has commanded, we better be clear on what that everything is. Of course we won’t but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t require it of us. Secondly, WCF 1:9 tells us when some part of Scripture is unclear (or seemingly so) we are to consult the Scriptures, to clarify what God intended to convey, not “consult available contemporary sources”.

  10. Dominic Bnonn Tennant

    Scripture interprets scripture, extra biblical sources not at all, at least in in Westminsterian orthodoxy.

    This is jejune. I didn’t say anything that denied that Scripture interprets Scripture; indeed, the fact that only Scripture is God-breathed necessitates that it is its own interpretive authority. But by your caricatured yardstick I can’t even refer to a lexicon when interpreting the Bible, since extra biblical sources cannot interpret it “at all”. I can’t arrive at an informed and sensible understanding of the nachash in Genesis 3 as a luminous member of the divine council. I can’t nuance my understanding of the Devar Yahweh by recognizing him as a stand-in for Ba’al—a polemic against Canaanite religion. I can’t use historical facts to decide which interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies are most likely. Etc etc.

    Ironically, it is you who are turning Sola Scriptura into Solo Scriptura.

  11. Dr P

    Andrew, my reading of Reformed theology and history reveal frequent references to church fathers and other extrabiblical sources, as well as original language grammar and vocabulary. These men used Turretin’s formula of “norma normans non normata” in their understandng of sola Scriptura rather than yours. Did they not understand the principle?

  12. John

    From my perspective as an outsider, two churches claiming to be THE church can’t agree on what Tradition is, therefore disunity.

    Why would you say such a ridiculous thing? Words are just abstractions we assign to underlying realities. When you argue over definitions, you are just arguing about the abstractions, and not about the realities.

    For example, the KJV says in 2Th 2:7 “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let”. Here the KJV uses the word “let” to mean “restrain”. Other places in the KJV uses the word “let” to mean “allow”. Allow and restrain are opposites. Would we then say the KJV is in conflict because it can’t decide what the word “let” means? Of course not. Words are only abstractions, its the underlying realities that are important.

    Given Rome’s belief about doctrinal evolution, the “new stuff” you deplore was always there in embryonic form, & thus can’ t be said to be new.

    No they weren’t, but if you want provide evidence to dispute it, go right ahead.

    The Jewish church never accepted the apocrypha, so Romans 3:2 stands as proof of their exclusion.

    That’s a fact not in evidence. The church inherited a Greek bible that included these books. They weren’t just random Jewish books floating around, they were included in bibles. At least as far as we know they were, given the earliest bibles we have.

    Also, there are major question marks over some of the books you have in your bible. For example, there is a lot of evidence that the Jewish church might not have included Esther.

    The NT period superabounded with pseudepigraphic pious fiction/fraud’ so which wouldn’t that have occurred in the church’s nonage?

    How does this confusing situation help your case when you want to figure out what the scriptures are apart from the historical church? We’ve got all these scholars running around now saying half the books of Paul are fakes, Peter is fake, etc etc. From your viewpoint, you have to at least take all these observations with a lot of seriousness, because you don’t have an authoritative tradition which can settle things like that. Luther seemed pretty happy to start tossing books out of his bible like James, Jude, Revelation and so forth. Those decisions didn’t stick at that time, but the precedent is set. If Protestants follow Luther and start tossing out books, you really have nothing to say about it other than your own feelings about it.

    BTW Lutherans recogniz a “canon within the canon” vis-a-vis relative importance of books, and freely admit that Romans trumps Esther for the purposes of doctrine. We also have no problem with the apocrypha as deuterocanonical, but would derive no doctrine therefrom.

    Yes well, Luther preached from books that he thought were not canonical. Books like James and Jude and Revelation.

    So how confusing is that? And he was happy for other people to have a different opinion on what was canonical. Every man for himself on what the canon is. Every man for himself on what the bible means. Ever man for himself in how to use external sources in interpreting the bible.

    Books containing doctrinal distortions, superstion, and gross historical error are mot authoritative for doctrine, reproof, and instruction in righteousness.

    Great, except nobody can tell you which those books are. Even Luther will only claim to give his personal opinion, and allows you to think something different.

    How’s that for trying again?

    Our Ethiopian bible toting friend has been given no reason to change from what you’ve said so far.

    does not preclude appeal to tradition (vs Tradition), but rather is the final court of appeal.

    As I’ve pointed out above in this thread, and which you really have done nothing to refute, there is zero reason to believe Protestants take seriously appeals to tradition. Scripture is not the final court of appeal, it is the only court of appeal, except is isn’t that at all, rather it is one’s personal interpretation which is the final court of appeal. One person reads a verse, and reads all the other verses through that prism. Another chooses a different verse as the starting point for their world view, and reads your verse through that prism. There is NO TIE BREAKER except your own personal biases.

    I believe as strongly as you do in the Real Presence in the sacrament of the altar and the subsequent requirement to treat the elements with utmost respect, as here Scripture and Tradition speak with one unambiguous voice.

    I suspect our blog host here is more Zwinglian, and would disagree with you, because of his hermeneutical approach. Christ said he was a door, he is not a door, so the bread isn’t his body, its only a metaphor. What one man says is unambiguous in scripture for one view, another man says is unambiguous for the opposite view.

    However, part of that respectful handling is following Christ’s commands by example in distributing both elements individually rather than by intinction, which is an innovation. What say you?

    Nobody can document from history if any of the apostles used intinction. We do know that the ancient method of eating was to dip bread, and strangely for modern thinking, dipping bread into wine was considered a good idea. One can see this in John 13:26 “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” We also can see in Mt 27:48 that to absorb liquid from a sponge like material can be considered drinking: “And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink.”

    One might also point out that seemingly in Luke 22:14 and following, Jesus offers the cup, then the bread, then the cup again so if we’re going to get all worked up about how what order to consume the elements like Jesus did, must we do that too?

    As we all know, lots of things may have happened at the original supper, that nobody thinks is important to reproduce, so where is the dividing line to be? There is no real answer to such questions other than the tradition we have received. Perhaps, for whatever reason, all the apostles at some point switched to intinction. Perhaps some did, some didn’t. Perhaps none did, but the church for its own reasons did. You can’t know.

    When Scripture and tradition don’t agree, like in worshiping God by serving images and relics

    Serving images? You mean like how God mandated images on the ark of the covenant, and all the people bowed down to it? Or how the inner sanctum of the temple was mandated by God to be covered in images?

    Relics? 2 Kings 13:21 – Elisha’s bones bring a man back to life. Acts 19:11-12 – Paul’s handkerchiefs healed the sick and those with unclean spirits.

    One might say that scripture and tradition agree against your position.

    Scripture trumps Tradition.

    It would trump tradition indeed, if there was any common way of understanding it and interpreting it and following it. But time and again we see this is not so.

    Do Lutheran women still take seriously the admonition to wear a head covering?

    The Jewish church was heavy laden with such tradition to the point of obscuring Scripure and hardening hearts sufficiently to lead to the church crucifying her Lord.

    If you’re talking about Jesus’ admonition of the Pharisees, the distinction there is not between written and oral traditions, but rather between traditions of men, and traditions from God. Paul says to hold to the tradition of the apostles whether written or oral. While it might suit your polemic to decide that Jesus meant to condemn oral traditions against written ones, that’s not actually what he said. Anyone with any reasoning ability can see that the earliest early church was acting against the written tradition, in favour of the oral. One of the most obvious cases is the Jerusalem council where the apostles decided to advocate against circumcision, whereas all the scriptures (at least as they existed at that time), were clear that circumcision was necessary to be part of the people of God. Even gentiles and slaves were to be circumcised. So for decades then the church followed this apostolic oral teaching, in complete defiance of all available scripture.

    I eschew the screed of semiliterate hayseeds who feel themselves called to be pastors and exegetes, and so am safe from JW’s, Mormons

    You are more clever than them, are you? That’s fortunate.

    I see both as confusing Hellenism with the Word of God, distorting it in the same manner as the Jews before them did.

    Whatever that means.

    I don’t know how you will separate whatever you perceive as Hellenism from the culture Christianity was born into.
    I am convert.

    I spoke with Frank Schaefer about his conversion to the EOC, which was a quantum leap over the wall and into the EOC, accepting doctrines he previously rejected after switching paradigms. This is the same picture of how I became Protestant, contra your assertion that I merely picked delectable doctrines from off of a dim sum cart (where you got that idea from is beyond me).

    Let me put it this way. You SHOULD pick your doctrines from the dim sum cart to be consistent. I did try to point out that some Protestants don’t… chiefly the old style confessional ones… but that is because they are beholden to a stream of tradition, rather than doing your own thinking.

    Like why are Lutherans generally not charistmatics? Why are all charismatics also baptists? Why are all presbyterians paedo-baptists? Protestants differ about at least a few dozen important issues, but the protestant churches clump around certain combinations, mostly for historical reasons, rather than any logical systematic thinking. That’s what I mean that the consistent Protestant must do their own analysis of each individual issue, and then most likely find himself church-less. The inconsistent Protestant accepts the tradition he is handed to him, or else the tradition is feels closest too, and either absorbs or ignores the remaining things that don’t suit him.

    Per the saints, Catholic churches tell me that murderous monarchs and heathen lackeys are worshipful

    Well, churches tend to assign sainthood to people if they feel that miracles believed to originate from them warrant it beyond reasonable doubt. Think about the epistemology of this. Why do you believe anything in the bible? Presumably it has something to do with you thinking there are sufficient witnesses to these events, which are miraculous enough to giving reason to think they came from God.

    In other words, the exact same basis for why the church assigns sainthood. If you want to make a list of all the millions of miracles, and express your doubts and skepticism about them all. Maybe this one was a natural occurrence, or maybe they were mistaken over there, etc etc, all the same objections can be made against the bible.

    The Jewish way of thinking about salvation history is that God was doing all sorts of things from the beginning, and they kept records of these things, which were important to their self identification and to their understanding of how God works. The church historically does the same thing in keeping the stories of the saints. Protesantism diverged from this tradition by saying, we basically know nothing about God’s supernatural workings in the world past the point of 33AD.

    You mention Czar Nicholas. I don’t claim to be an expert on him, but why do you call him murderous?

    The content of the canon, should I criticise your Lutheranism since Luther thought Jude, James and Revelation non-canonical? Is it too much to ask you be consistent?

    The sacraments: I haven’t heard anything of any substance, neither for real presence. (BTW, if you’re going to get all super specific about it, where on earth in the bible do we find “in, on or under”???

    Infallibility of courts: don’t know what you’re referring to.

    To merely chose from among them as you did is no differentr from what I did.

    I gave you a lot of reasons why I think my choice is different, I don’t think you’ve really interacted with them. Let me give you one more:

    I don’t choose my own hermeneutic. I don’t decide which considerations are more important. I let the hermeneutic of the early church, the original church be my hermeneutic. There are a million possible hermeneutics, that lead to any number of destinations. We’ve seen several here already. You’re Lutheran commitment to “in, on or under” vs, apparently Bnonn’s Zwinglianism. Protestant’s belief that grape juice is conform ant with scripture compared to Bnonn’s skepticism about that. I’ve mentioned the conflicting concerns that lead to paedo vs adult baptism and communion. The bible doesn’t provide its own hermeneutic, so so such questions are not, even in principle, resolvable with sola scriptura. Looking to the early church is the only tie breaker available.

    When you made your choice, you firstly chose your hermeneutic. All decisions subsequent to that didn’t have their origins in scripture, they had their origins in your decision about your hermeneutic.

  13. Dr P

    Once again, John, it is you who fail to see that, given the fact that there is no neutrality, you are as biased as I am. You chose your hermeneutic when you chose to go EOC just as I chose mine when I chose to go Protestant. Be consistent and honest.

    Let ‘s attend to further haziness in your arguments. First of all definitions matter, as any discussion/debate requires mutally understood language. To say that all Scripture is theopneustos and hence profitable means all parties must agree upon what does and does not constitute Scripture. That is obvious, in fact, as obvious as the rejection of apocryphal books teaching that Nebuchadnezzer was the king of sssyria, that suicide is a noble death, or that beating one’s wife can be beneficial, etc. The Jewish church fell for a lot of hooey,and I have no reason to believe that Gentiles wouldn’t. Quibbling over the use of “let” is farcical, as anyone competent in Jacobean English can understand it.

    Real Scripture, on the other hand, is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction, that we may be complete; why would I need anything else (he asks, suspecting what the answer will be)? Remember that, Luther ‘s opinions on the canon notwithstanding, neither he nor the F of C churches ever repudiated the books he doubted. As for the decrees of your allegedly true church, our Ethiopian brother would dismiss you for failing to recognize his canon, as you give him no reason to eschew his apocrypha.

    Of course, both of you believe your churches to be the heir of the early church, maintaining the pure and uncorrupted faith as opposed to the rest of us. You are so convinced that each lies sufficiently without the ark of salvation that you exclude each other from altar fellowship. You both can’t be right, and indeed both may be wrong. How would you convince him to give up his defective Christology and recognise those counsels you call ecumenical and which he calls illegitimate? Again, how does your tradition unite? Who is the tie-breaker now; ie who determines what church and/or tradition is legitimate here? Show me your cleverness, especially where the Jewish Church ever accepted these apocrypha as canonical, as they were conspicuously absent from the Jewish version of the LXX. Oh, and save the criticism for not accepting the antilegomena for the Assyrians – also an early church, and much earlier than those of the Slavs in communion with your patriarch.

    The Hellenism thing is another obvious point, as OT saints were forbidden to worship God via images. The apeal to the images in the temple is bogus, as they weren’t adored in the way those newly converted from paganism served their false gods. The culture canard is equally bogus, and doubtless was employed by those who wished to add Canaanite and Egyptian cultural elements to Jehovah’s pure worship. The Jews took Egyptian wealth, not Egyptian worship. Uzzah And Uzziah were also clever innovators, and I don’t recall God giving them His approbation. When Nehushtan was so abuse, He had it destroyed via Hezekiah ; when did God change his mind and decide that Hellenized worship was acceptable? You doubtless would say He did via Tradition, which is not oral but indeed written down. Since there was none in the OT church, why should anyone believe that the NT church was in need of such? The verses you appeal to better fit the pre-canonised epistles and the OT than some oral tradition. The Pedalion is no different to the Talmud in that, despite being called Oral Torah, as both were written down and hence can no. Longer legitimately be called oral. There is all the difference in the world between what God commanded His church to record and that He providentially preserved, and tales used to amuse illiterate peasants to keep them from Scripture and under control. Odor of sanctity, crying icons, myrrh-gushing relics, aerial tollhouses, apparitions of Our Lady, indeed – great distractions and money-makers, like with the Sadducees and the moneychangers.

    That Word, while not giving an exhaustive account of the Last Supper, gave us sufficient information to eschew intinction and ensue azymes. The Armenians so do, and don’t dilute the wine; are they the early church, or it it all adiaphora anyway?

    The sainthood issue is important, because I must expect truth from the true church. scripture gives no inkling that Mr and Mrs Pilate were believers, unless scourging is worship (“You always hurt the one you love…”). Since no murderer inherits the Kingdom of Heaven, and Nicholas’ hands were permanently stained with Jewish blood, And there is no evidence of his repentance therefrom, I have no reason to accept either as saints, the pipe dreams of wild-eyed celibates notwithstanding. The church that tells me that these folks are saints loses all credibility. Again, impress me with your cleverness and tell me how these Spirit-led, rightly guided churches come to these conclusions. BTW I am open to the supernatural past 33 AD, but I guess I demand some real proof rather than idle tales. Elisha’s bones, yes; at most one of the two heads claimed to be St Barbara’s, no. As Luther said, there are enough pieces of the True Cross to build Noah’s ark.

    As an aside, since you asked, it is sad to see my wife and daughters as the only women (save our pastor’s wife) covering their heads in worship, although at least we need not commune with impenitent and open sodomites as you folks have to; (check out Monomakhos); we also have no sodomite clergy. For both of us, these are failures of discipline rather than doctrine.

    Again, you fail to convince me of either a rationale or evidence for this Holy Tradition, which can be seen to be no source of unity. You say the EOC is the true church, which is no diffent to what he Assyrians and the OO’s claim about their churches. You subjectively rejected Rome, the non-Chalcedonians, the Assyrians, confessional Protestantism, and the potpourri of anabaptists from wherever you started. I chose differently. Tu quoque stands. The purpose of Bnonn’s post was to clarify sola versus solo Scriptura, a distinction you deny exists. However, you have given me no alternative in your tradition.

  14. John

    You chose your hermeneutic when you chose to go EOC just as I chose mine when I chose to go Protestant. Be consistent and honest.

    Yes of course I chose, but I chose based upon something objective, the hermeneutic of the early church. The bible doesn’t spell out an authoritative hermeneutic, so you can choose the only objective hermeneutic, or you can choose any of thousands of subjective and newly thought up ones.

    That is obvious, in fact, as obvious as the rejection of apocryphal books teaching that Nebuchadnezzer was the king of sssyria

    Nebuchadnezzer was a common name. Was there a CNN news crew on hand to dispute it?

    BTW, have you excised 2 Chronicles from your bible as apocryphal, since it says at 36:9 that Jehoiachin was 8 years old when he began to reign, when we know in fact he was 18 years old from 2 Kings 24:8 ?

    that suicide is a noble death, or that beating one’s wife can be beneficial, etc.

    So… the way you approach theology is to decide what you would like to believe, then only accept the books that fit those beliefs? What we might call Marcion’s Method.

    The trouble is, there is a lot of unpleasant teachings all over the bible, so that method doesn’t work out too well.

    The Jewish church fell for a lot of hooey,and I have no reason to believe that Gentiles wouldn’t.

    Then all the modern liberals with their suggestions that Paul didn’t write this, etc etc, not to mention Luther’s assertion that Jude and James weren’t apostles, we should really take very seriously. And thus, you have no bible.

    Quibbling over the use of “let” is farcical, as anyone competent in Jacobean English can understand it.

    You missed the point. I don’t follow Jacobean definitions, neither do I follow Roman definitions of tradition. It does NOT follow however that I am at odds with Jacobeans about the meaning of 2Th 2:7, neither does it follow necessarily that the Romans and us are at odds about tradition, because you found some conflicting definitions. All that proves is our vocabularies are different.

    Real Scripture, on the other hand, is profitable for doctrine, reproof, and correction, that we may be complete; why would I need anything else

    Why? You’re not reading anything I wrote apparently. That verse about about scripture being profitable was most likely written before the Gospels. So was Jesus teaching, passed down orally therefore unprofitable? Was all the scripture written after Paul unprofitable because everything we could possibly know was written already?

    Remember that, Luther ‘s opinions on the canon notwithstanding, neither he nor the F of C churches ever repudiated the books he doubted.

    Well yes they did, which is why Protestants to this day have a shorter canon than anyone else.

    As for the decrees of your allegedly true church, our Ethiopian brother would dismiss you for failing to recognize his canon, as you give him no reason to eschew his apocrypha.

    I’m not an expert on the Ethiopian canon, but why is it important to me to reject it? As I said, we don’t have every man and his dog finding new teachings in scripture from their own interpretations, so another book or two really wouldn’t change much. But if Protesants took on some new books, there is no telling how many schisms could come from it.

    You are so convinced that each lies sufficiently without the ark of salvation that you exclude each other from altar fellowship.

    No, it’s not like that at all. We claim to know our church is part of the ark of salvation. We don’t claim to have knowledge about what goes on outside.

    How would you convince him to give up his defective Christology and recognise those counsels you call ecumenical and which he calls illegitimate?

    I believe the leaders of our respective churches have had discussions and concluded that there is no real difference in belief, but we’ve just got hung up on definitions (yep, those pesky definitions make us think there are differences, when there aren’t really). So there is hope one day that we will in fact be formally united. As for the other ecumenical councils, I’m not aware of any other differences of belief between us from those, so what issue is there? We don’t need a tie breaker if we don’t actually disagree.

    Show me your cleverness, especially where the Jewish Church ever accepted these apocrypha as canonical, as they were conspicuously absent from the Jewish version of the LXX.

    I’ll give you a shiny nickel if you can demonstrate that. It would be a neat trick, since there are no LXX bibles that old.

    Oh, and save the criticism for not accepting the antilegomena for the Assyrians – also an early church

    Uh-huh. And John Chrysostom, coming from Syria followed that Assyrian canon, and never used the antilegomena, despite the fact that all the church around him in Constantinople and elsewhere accepted it just fine. And the world didn’t collapse. In fact, nobody was too worried at all. It’s what I keep telling you, exact lists of scriptures are not a huge issue for us. But they are for you, because entire churches arise in Protestantland over the interpretation of single verses.

    The apeal to the images in the temple is bogus, as they weren’t adored in the way those newly converted from paganism served their false gods.

    Since there was no CNN crew on hand to see how the Jews adored things and how the Pagans adored things, this is purely speculation.

    However there are some things we do know. We know they bowed before the Ark of the Covenant (complete with icons of angels). We know Jews have no problem bowing to the Western Wall of the temple today, and kissing the stones. We know the Jews kiss everything, their torah scrolls, their prayer shawls, they prayer book, the doorpost of the house, the tzitzit (fringes) after reciting prayers an so on.

    Now who inherited the Jewish customs about adoring holy objects, and who departed from the Judeo Christian tradition? It’s pretty obvious to anyone not beholden to their schismatic tradition. You call it Helenistic, but its pure prejudice, not based on fact.

    Odor of sanctity, crying icons, myrrh-gushing relics… great distractions and money-makers, like with the Sadducees and the moneychangers.</blockquote.

    If an icon weeps myrrh, what are we supposed to do about it? Try and stop it? I've seen a number of them, and no special collection of money was associated with it. It's pure prejudice, and obviously not something you have looked into.

    Ask yourself this question: What if there really are icons that inexplicably weep myrrh?

    That Word, while not giving an exhaustive account of the Last Supper, gave us sufficient information to eschew intinction and ensue azymes. The Armenians so do, and don’t dilute the wine; are they the early church, or it it all adiaphora anyway?

    In my opinion its adiaphora, yes. Unless you can actually document that we changed, you don’t really have much of a case. And since you’re not giving the cup, then bread, then cup like Luke says, you’re open to criticism too.

    The sainthood issue is important, because I must expect truth from the true church.

    We don’t claim that recognition of saints is dogmatic or infallible. Even if we did, all that sainthood means, is we believe they are in heaven, which you really can’t dispute.

    Since no murderer inherits the Kingdom of Heaven, and Nicholas’ hands were permanently stained with Jewish blood,

    As far as I know, no document in the Russian state archives has ever linked Czar Nicholas to Jewish deaths. So we all await you to provide the documentation. But what is this about “permanently stained”?? There is such a concept in Christian theology of permanent, unforgivable sins?

    BTW I am open to the supernatural past 33 AD, but I guess I demand some real proof rather than idle tales.

    Well tell us then, what would constitute “real proof” ?? Are you looking for something so irrefutable that the most ardent atheists will fall down in worship? Is that a reasonable standard? What is your standard, maybe we can find what you’re looking for.

    As Luther said, there are enough pieces of the True Cross to build Noah’s ark.

    Point being what? If a fake handkerchief of Paul was circulating, would that invalidate the miracle from the legitimate one recorded in scripture?

    it is sad to see my wife and daughters as the only women (save our pastor’s wife) covering their heads in worship,

    So even when scripture is relatively clear, you guys can’t agree, let alone when it isn’t so clear.

    check out Monomakhos</blockquote.

    No idea what you refer to.

    For both of us, these are failures of discipline rather than doctrine.

    You don’t really have much of a basis for distinguishing discipline from doctrine.

    I mean, what are you saying, that your church openly teaches women should wear a head covering, but have failed to enforce it?

    Again, you fail to convince me of either a rationale or evidence for this Holy Tradition, which can be seen to be no source of unity.

    Strange that you don’t see it. Even the Ethiopians, who we don’t make any claims to be in communion with, thus we claim no unity with, are pretty hard to distinguish from us, because they also hold to the tradition. But if we compare, oh say Lutherans, just in America, and we compare the Missouri synod with ECLA, look at the major doctrinal differences emerging.

    You subjectively rejected Rome, the non-Chalcedonians, the Assyrians, confessional Protestantism, and the potpourri of anabaptists from wherever you started.

    Not subjective, I judge them by the objective standard of the early church. And if you’re uncomfortable with that for whatever indiscernible reason, you have no bible, because looking to the early church is the only basis for a bible or canon, no matter what church you are. And if we judge by the early church, Lutherans are infinitely further afield than EOC.

    You want me to consider sola scriptura do you? You want me to judge on my lonesome all the disputes within Protestantism? How? I’m not smart enough to figure out all these arguments, and I kinda think I’m as smart as the average guy at least. I don’t find the answers to any of them based on scripture, I only know the answer based on tradition. So what do you offer me? All you offer is to decend into madness. Why would I do that? Tell me, I really want to know.

  15. Dr P

    John: “objective choice?” No, subjectively done from among those options you examined. You exercised private judgment in choosing the EOC. Are those who chose Rome, the OO’s then Assyrians also subjective?

    The name Nebuchadnezzer was common? Your source? I’d like to see any credible historian say that there was an Assyrian king by that name. CNN – sounds to me like you’re grasping at straws.

    Contradiction between 2 Chron 39:9 and 2 Kg 24:8? Not; see brandplucked.webs.com. Nice try. As for suicide and wifebeating, all I need is the 6th Commandment. This is objective, contra your choice. Again, no confusion here.

    As for liberal theologians, who cares?! Liberal Christianity is an oxymoron, as liberalism is its own religion – read Machen.

    An understanding of the Jacobean use of the word “let” requires only a knowlege of one’s native tongue to figure that out (I’m assuming you’re a native Anglophone). There is all the difference in the world between this and definitions, and the latter is prone to be a source of equivocation. You sound like a former US president who insincerely pondered the meaning of “is.”

    Believe what you want about alleged Jewish acceptance of the apocrypja, bu know that you ar at variance with Jerome, Josephus, and the Babylonian Talmud (Baba Batra 14b). Hellenized Jews produced these works, and Hellenized Gentiles who knew no better accepted them.

    You differ from Rome not on mere definitions, but on the major substantive matter of the Magisterium in general and the papacy specifically. You might think it’s only over definition, but no serious Romanist would. Oh, that’s right, they’re just being subjective.

    In re: 2 Tim 3:16 & 17, so what about being written after the Gospels? Of what possible significance is that, as Peter writes of Paul’s epistles as Scripture (2 Pet 3:16). Scripture is Scripture, pulp fiction is pulp fiction. The former doesn’t tell us everything we want to know, but does tell us everything we need to know.

    Luther rejected the apocrypha, not the antilegomena. Please review Protestant history before you opine. Again, our Ethiopian friend thinks lists of books are important, and accuses you of rejecting Tradition. God either spoke through a book or He didn’t; you folks claim to be the true sheep, and you should be atuned to the Shepherd’s voice. God either spoke through those books or He didn’t; our friend says yes, you say no. How do either of you know; ie show me your objective source. Name one “new book” any confessional Protestant church has accepted, or one confessional Protestant church split over “one verse.”

    Your comment about the ark of salvation is tripe, as mutual excommunication means you have enough information to reject a rival claimant. No real difference between miaphysites and Chalcedonians? Then why the mutual excommunications and teaching against each others’ doctrine? Your superiors differ with you here.

    So the theological descendants of the scribes and pharisees kiss things? True, but what has that to do with Scripture, as Orthodox Judaism is not the religion of the OT? They certainly don’t serve images, as such is clearly forbidden by the 1st (2nd) Commandment. If Judaism is what you wish to emulate, be my guest. As for the temple, nobody adored the images on the curtain, and only the high priest got to even see the ark – which he never touched (remember Uzzah). The only object adored by the masses was nehushtan, which I notice you haven’t addressed. God was never (and still isn’t, if you really want to claim continuity with Judaism) pictured, as to do so would be considered blasphemy (read Maimonides’ 13 dogmata). Nobody prayed to the ark, either. Right worship is what God says it is – remember Nadab and Abihu.

    So what about weeping icons? What does (vs what can) it mean: weeping for joy, a warning of impending doom, enduring an awful sermon and off-key choir? How does one divine the meaning? Can there be a physical cause? Sure, as inexplicable does not mean miraculous. Catholics and miaphysites have them too, along with occasional visitsby Our Lady, and a painted tilma to boot. Too bad they don’t have the advantage of the Julian calendar, which God allegedly demonstrates his approval of every year in Jerusalem when the holy fire falls at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre…

    Yes, I want real proof, the kind that can be independently verified apart from the yawps of the credulous; in other words, truly objective. I’ll believe Peter and Paul, but when it comes to claims from latter day Paphlagonias about alleged miracles from so-called wonderworkers, I’m all skepicism.

    Per azymes versus leavened bread at Communion, you wrote “in my opinion it’s adiaphora” in opposition to your church, which most decidedly doesn’t. Are you in error, or just exercising private judgment? The EOC has repeatedly castigated the West for this, and those bodies with Western rites require leavened bread to be used. Doesn’t sound particularly adiaphorous to me.

    The saints issue won’t go away, as you seem to imply that there is some possibility of error on the church’s part. Are you saying that you offer prayers to someone who might not be in a positon to grease the skids for you…somebody who might even be in hell? After all, official records notwithstanding, it is common knowledge that Nicholas authroized pogroms against Jews, and created a command climate such that police felt free to stand by and allow the atrocities perpetrated at Kishineff and other locales, to the horror of the international press. Look it up for yourself if you don’t believe me. I realize that Nicholas is your homey, but that doesn’t change the facts. Your view that there is no such thing as “permanently stained” in Christianity is patently false, as there is no forgiveness without repentance. There is no evidence that he repented of his crimes, and no (impenitent) murderer inherits the Kingdom of Heaven. He got rough justice, to be sure. Some saint.

    The head covering issue, to my knowledge, was never a doctrine because it was universal practice even in my youth. Do all EO women still cover their heads, or is this no longer enforced?

    You say I have no Bible, but you have neither objective Bible nor tradition for the same reason, as you merely define the early church to be that body which asserts your prejudices, as opposed to any real body which ever existed. You do this via the exercise of private judgment, ignoring or belittling the claims of others on the catholic side of the aisle who claim the same about their chosen churches. I do the same, but I admit it. You say I want you to descend into madness via sola Scriptura, but all you offer me is a descent into syncretism and works-righteousness, both of which God has expressed disapprobation of.

    I’ll leave you tonight with Westminster Confession of Faith 20:II as a salute to my Reformed brethren: “God alone is lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men, which are in any thing contrary to his word, or beside it, in matters of faith or worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience: and the requiring of an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also.” Yes, we have confusion and disunity, but it trumps your bondage any day.

  16. John

    You exercised private judgment in choosing the EOC.

    Sure, but with an objective basis, unlike you.

    Are those who chose Rome, the OO’s then Assyrians also subjective?

    That would depend on how they chose then wouldn’t it.

    I’d like to see any credible historian say that there was an Assyrian king by that name

    What a crazy comment. If there is one historical source that said who was the king at that time, you don’t have a lot of options about contradicting it. What supposedly credible historian would contradict an historical statement when there one and only one source stating it?

    Contradiction between 2 Chron 39:9 and 2 Kg 24:8? Not; see brandplucked.webs.com

    Really, you accept the explanation of a wide eyed KJV onlyist like Will Kinney, notorious on the internet for his inconsistent arguments?

    What most scholars think, is that there is a copyist error here, thus you find the error corrected in most modern versions. And if you want to accept Will Kinney’s highly convoluted explanation, the result is the same.. how do you reject a book based on one alleged discrepancy, when other Christians don’t reject books based on much more flagrant and seemingly obvious discrepancies?

    Nice try. As for suicide and wifebeating, all I need is the 6th Commandment.

    Ha ha, under the Lutheran 10 commandments, the 6th commandment is do not commit adultery. See how definitions can be completely different, but the underlying reality is the same? Why are you obtuse about that?

    Now assuming you mean Jewish and Orthodox counting of the commandments, that would be “do not kill”… I guess Isaiah is out of your canon right? “The foreigners living in Babylon will run away to their homelands, scattering like deer escaping from hunters, like sheep without a shepherd. Anyone who is caught will be stabbed to death. While they look on helplessly, their babies will be battered to death, their houses will be looted, and their wives will be raped.” Sounds much worse than anything in the apocrypha.

    Do be consistent.

    As for liberal theologians, who cares?! Liberal Christianity is an oxymoron, as liberalism is its own religion

    You only call them liberal, BECAUSE they do such things as doubt books of the bible are the word of God. I guess Luther is the first liberal.

    There is all the difference in the world between this and definitions

    What is the difference exactly? You don’t tell us. Everyone knows that sub-cultures have their own meaning for words. Apparently in America, if something is “bad” or “sick”, then its wonderful. What each sub-culture means with their own vocabulary, they themselves define. Pointing out different vocabularies in different churches is meaningless.

    Believe what you want about alleged Jewish acceptance of the apocrypha

    Apparently you’ve abandoned your Jewish LXX claim, which we all know you made up.

    bu know that you ar at variance with Jerome, Josephus, and the Babylonian Talmud

    Josephus? Heretic. Talmud? Heretical. We’ve just been lectured here by Bnonn that we are not to take our canons from heretics. Otherwise, why not go with Marcion?

    Jerome? While he wavered at times, I believe he did accept these books.

    “Does not the SCRIPTURE say: ‘Burden not thyself above thy power'” [SIRACH 13:2] Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 108 (A.D. 404), in NPNF2, VI:207

    Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs At least that is what Solomon says: “wisdom is the gray hair unto men.’ [Wisdom 4:9]” Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion (Num. 11:16)? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age ( Story of Susannah 55-59) Jerome, To Paulinus, Epistle 58 (A.D. 395), in NPNF2, VI:119

    “I would cite the words of the psalmist: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel ‘I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] AND THOSE OF BARUCH,’Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] AND MANY OTHER PROCLAMATIONS MADE BY THE TRUMPETS OF THE PROPHETS.” Jerome, To Oceanus, Epistle 77:4 (A.D. 399), in NPNF2, VI:159

    Notice how Jerome makes no distinction at all between the Psalmist, Ezekiel, and Baruch.

    still our merriment must not forget the limit set by Scripture, and we must not stray too far from the boundary of our wrestling-ground. Your presents, indeed, remind me of the sacred volume, for in it Ezekiel decks Jerusalem with bracelets, (Eze. 16:11) Baruch receives letters from Jeremiah,(Jer. 36, Bar. 6) and the Holy Spirit descends in the form of a dove at the baptism of Christ.(Mt. 3:16) Jerome, To Eustochium, Epistle 31:2 (A.D. 384), in NPNF2, VI:45

    As in good works it is God who brings them to perfection, for it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that pitieth and gives us help that we may be able to reach the goal: so in things wicked and sinful, the seeds within us give the impulse, and these are brought to maturity by the devil. When he sees that we are building upon the foundation of Christ, hay, wood, stubble, then he applies the match. Let us then build gold, silver, costly stones, and he will not venture to tempt us: although even thus there is not sure and safe possession. For the lion lurks in ambush to slay the innocent. [Sir. 27:5] “Potters’ vessels are proved by the furnace, and just men by the trial of tribulation.” And in another place IT IS WRITTEN: [Sir. 2:1] “My son, when thou comest to serve the Lord, prepare thyself for temptation.” Again, the same James says: [James 3:22]”Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only. For if any one is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a mirror: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth away, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.” It was useless to warn them to add works to faith, if they could not sin after baptism. Jerome, Against Jovinianus,, Book 2, 3 NPNF2, VI:390

    I could go on and on, there is ample evidence that Jerome quoted these books as scripture.

    You differ from Rome not on mere definitions, but on the major substantive matter of the Magisterium in general and the papacy specifically.

    We do indeed differ on this issue, and I’m perfectly happy to admit it when there is a real difference.

    Now tell me, does the early church support what Rome now says about the papacy? i.e. that “The Bishop of the Church of Rome … is head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ and Pastor of the entire Church on earth; therefore, in virtue of his office he enjoys supreme, full, immediate and universal ordinary power in the Church which he can always freely exercise.”

    Is that what the early church taught? Will you sell yourself out to Rome to win an argument against me?

    In re: 2 Tim 3:16 & 17, so what about being written after the Gospels? Of what possible significance is that

    Before the gospels.

    The significance is, it is foolishness to make Paul into a blithering fool. Does Paul mean to say that everything important to know about the Christian faith is written down? If you say yes, then it admits that everything not yet written down, including Jesus’ words, is valueless to Christianity. If you admit there are some things not written down which are important, then you admit that oral traditions are important. Since Jesus’ words at this time were transmitted orally, the answer is obvious. It’s always seemed totally crazy to me that anyone would use 2 Timothy to pretend that Paul is advocating that all important Christian knowledge is written, when clearly it wasn’t. That’s not what Paul is saying, and I refuse to make Paul into court jester by interpreting him in such a manner.

    Luther rejected the apocrypha, not the antilegomena.

    Wrong, he rejected some of the antilegomena, which I pointed out from the aomin.org link above. Even staunch defenders of Luther admit it.

    God either spoke through a book or He didn’t; you folks claim to be the true sheep, and you should be atuned to the Shepherd’s voice.

    I don’t think it is so black and white. God spoke to us “in various ways” as it says in Heb 1:1 (aka, not just in scripture), and therefore a book could have God speaking without it being to the status of THE canon.

    If you claim only true sheep know the canon, and supposedly your canon is the right one, pretty much nobody in history had your canon till Luther. No church father, other than a few times for Jerome, supported your canon, and even he seemed to finally accept them. So you are back to being the Mormon who rejects all of church history. At least I’m in good company of all the finest minds of the early church.

    Name one “new book” any confessional Protestant church has accepted,

    The book of Mormon as accepted by a Methodist by the name of Joseph Smith, and subsequently a whole lot of followers that he acquired, presumably mostly former confessional Protestants.

    or one confessional Protestant church split over “one verse.”

    The paedo communion debate is all over 1 Cor. 11:27.

    Your comment about the ark of salvation is tripe, as mutual excommunication means you have enough information to reject a rival claimant.

    You said we reject others from the altar table because we are convinced they are totally without the ark of salvation. No, we are convinced we are in the ark of salvation, and express no opinion about those outside. We are not drowning in here, we don’t say whether you are drowning or not, only that you are outside.

    No real difference between miaphysites and Chalcedonians? Then why the mutual excommunications and teaching against each others’ doctrine?

    When Nikos Nissiotis and Paul Verghese – later Mar Paulos Gregorios – of the Malankara Syrian Orthodox Church met in 1964, they issued the following joint statement:

    “We recognize in each other the one Orthodox faith of the church. Fifteen centuries of alienation have not led us astray from the faith of our fathers…. On the essence of the Christological dogma we found ourselves in full agreement. Through the different terminologies used by each side, we found the same truth expressed.”

    This is not the final word on this problem of course, but the point is, churches can sometimes split because of language barriers and terminology barriers.

    From one point of view, the filioque is heretical, from another point of view it isn’t. Why? Because theologians talk about things like the economic and ontological trinity. Depending on what is being discussed, it could be heretical, or it could be fine.

    True, but what has that to do with Scripture, as Orthodox Judaism is not the religion of the OT?

    Really. Then why quote to me Josephus and the Talmud?

    They certainly don’t serve images, as such is clearly forbidden by the 1st (2nd) Commandment.

    What does serve mean? And if its only serving images that is the problem, why are Protestant churches lacking images like God commanded, and like Jewish synagogues had?

    and only the high priest got to even see the ark – which he never touched

    You are wrong.

    The Jews referred to the Ark as God’s Footstool.

    1Ch 28:2 “Then King David rose to his feet and said: “Hear me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD and for the FOOTSTOOL OF OUR GOD”.

    Then it says they worshipped at his footstool.

    “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool”
    (Psalms 99:5 NIV)
    (or “bow down to”, Septuagint)

    How can we be sure his footstool is the ark? Because:

    “he sits enthroned between the cherubim”
    (Psalms 99:1 NIV)

    And as we know:

    “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony”
    (Exodus 25:22 NIV)

    And when they worship at this icon laden ark, in Ps 99:5, the exact same word is used as in the command not to worship images:

    “You shall not bow down to them or worship them”
    (Exodus 20:5 NIV)

    So obviously, worshipping pagan gods, and worshipping in Yahweh’s temple with his icons are not the same thing.

    On the ark was the mercy seat upon which the sacrificial blood was poured. Which is exactly analogous to how we bow down to the crucifix of Christ, upon which his blood was poured.

    So why do you disobey scripture?

    So what about weeping icons? What does (vs what can) it mean: weeping for joy, a warning of impending doom, enduring an awful sermon and off-key choir? How does one divine the meaning?

    How does one divine the meaning of Jesus Christ? Some say he was a demon. How will you refute such a claim?

    The meaning of icons is what the church says it is, just like the meaning of Jesus Christ is what the church says.

    Too bad they don’t have the advantage of the Julian calendar, which God allegedly demonstrates his approval of every year in Jerusalem when the holy fire falls at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

    Some have noted that icons weep in sync with the Julian calendar when they are in a Julian calendar church, but switch to the new calendar when they are in such a church.

    Yes, I want real proof, the kind that can be independently verified apart from the yawps of the credulous

    What is “real proof”? I want real proof Jesus rose from the dead, but all I’ve got is the bible, written from the yawps of the credulous.

    The EOC has repeatedly castigated the West for this, and those bodies with Western rites require leavened bread to be used. Doesn’t sound particularly adiaphorous to me.

    If you are under an EOC bishop, you have to follow the EOC canons, even if you are western rite.

    The saints issue won’t go away, as you seem to imply that there is some possibility of error on the church’s part.

    I wouldn’t quite put it that way. I’d just say it is not dogmatic, you are not required to believe in every saint.

    Are you saying that you offer prayers to someone who might not be in a positon to grease the skids for you…somebody who might even be in hell?

    Well sure, in so far as prayer to saints isn’t restricted to officially listed ones. If you are convinced your grandmother is in heaven, you can petition her.

    After all, official records notwithstanding, it is common knowledge that Nicholas authroized pogroms against Jews

    It was common knowledge among the Jews that Jesus’ body was stolen. (Mt 28:11-15).

    Not everything that goes on in the world’s largest country is attributable to the monarch, despite what rumour and innuendo might have said.

    and created a command climate such that police felt free to stand by and allow the atrocities perpetrated at Kishineff and other locales

    Obviously the command climate was nowhere near tough enough, since the Bolsheviks walked in, apparently with a lot of Jews in their inner circle.

    Just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean they are NOT plotting against you.

    Your view that there is no such thing as “permanently stained” in Christianity is patently false, as there is no forgiveness without repentance.

    Judging by the thief on the cross, that can be done up to the last minute, so was there a CNN crew around?
    And nobody said saints are perfect. That’s not the criteria.

    but you have neither objective Bible nor tradition for the same reason, as you merely define the early church to be that body which asserts your prejudices

    Really. If you don’t recognise the exact same body as I do, to be THE early church, why does Calvin and Luther quote the recognised church fathers, and not Arius, Marcion, Pelagius, Gnostics, and others whom the church deemed heretics? Are you claiming they were totally arbitrary in quoting the official church? If so, what’s wrong with… oh say Marcion and his canon of scripture? Do you have any argument against him?

    but all you offer me is a descent into syncretism and works-righteousness, both of which God has expressed disapprobation of.

    Really. I never heard any EOC sermon telling me to do X, Y and Z or I can’t be saved.

    I’ll leave you tonight with Westminster Confession of Faith 20

    Quoting non-scripture in defence of sola scriptura. That’s amusing.

    So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience

    No doubt the gay marriage contingent would heartily approve. You decide what scripture is, you decide what it means. So we’ve seen all manner of innovative interpretations of scripture to avoid hurting liberty of conscious. So where in scripture does it mention this liberty of conscience? Or it is made up, like most of Protestantism?

  17. Dr P

    John, you still haven’t identified this “objective basis” for your choice of the EOC as being anything other than an exercise of your private judgment. YOU decided what constituted the beliefs of the early church and went withyour prejudices. As for romainist innovations, read Newman: just because you don’t see them in embryonic form doesn’t mean they weren’t there, at leas taccording to that mindset. What does this prove but that your tradition is just a nose of wax.

    Let’s have that proof that there was an Assyrian King Nebuchadnezzer. You seem to have no problem calling Bbiblical antinomies errors, so why can’t you admit that the apocrypha can blow it?

    The numbering of the commandments is irrelevant, as Scripture doesn’t number them. You know what I meant, and being cute isn’t your forte. You also know that what is translated as kill in fact means murder, ie unlawful killing, and that when something is forbidden, the opposite is enjoined; eg not committing adultery also carries over to fornication, and commands sexual purity. Again, you know that, so why your comment?

    Back to “let:”. If you don’t like the KJV then use another translation; the Orthodox Study Bible uses the NKJV. This is a matter of wored choice expressing the same idea vs setting the termso of a discussion- again, you know that.

    I maintain the LXX claim; do show me where the Jews accepted the apocrypha prior to the final rejection at Jamnia. I cited Jewish sources that show this, but you resorted ot ad hominems and poisoning the well. I assume you can do better.

    Per Pail, he gives no indication of Scripture being anything other than what is written down. Please tell me why your oral tradition was written down if oral transmission is so reliable. “These things were written that you may believe; “..according to the scriptures;” etc and soforth. “We will tell them to our childen” also got written down. If oral tradition were reliable there would be no need for transcription.

    Per Hebrews 1:1, it’s quite a stretch to put pupl fiction like the apocrypha into the category of sundry ways and diverse manners. Dreams, prophecies, miracles, etc, yes; falsehoods, no.

    Your Mormon example is another stretch, and an abusive ad hominem.. So I ‘m a Mormon? Well, you’re just a nasty Bogomil and a Skoptsy, so nanny-nanny-boo-boo. If you meant to say that I have no basis for rejecting Mormon writings because I have no church to tell me they are bogus, I’ll ask again how the Jewish church knew her canon without an infallible poobah or council…and the answer is?

    I ask again for the name of the denomination that split over paedocommunion only. As for splitting over language, that’s nonsense, as the EOC stays together despite being a polyglot institution (Greek, Arabic, Russian, Rumanian, Serbian, etc); how would Coptic, Aramaic, Armenian, and Amharic cause any problems?

    Now for the footstool thing, at which Israel worshipped rather than Israel worshipping the footstool. No, nobody touched oer kissed the ark; you can read all about it in Edersheim’s /The Temple/. What proof do you offer for your position? Certainly nothing from Scripture, and no Jewish source will confirm it either. That worship performed at the footstool was what God said it was; read what constitued OT worship. That excluded foreign fire, images, or anything else not explicitly commanded by God, who is very jealous of His worship. Notice how he treated innovators Like Nadab and Abihu.

    Weeping icons switching calendars – I’m sure the Old Calendarists have an answer for that. As for the saints issue again, if yiu can’t know for certain that the saint is indeed even a saint, why nit just pray to God has Jesus told us to in the Lord’s Prayer? Is God your loving Father, or just an apotheosized Czar Nicholas ready to give you the knout or

  18. Dr P

    Sorry, hit the wrong button again: ..the knout or the shashka for disturbing Him? It beats praying to someone who might be in hell and wishes you were there.

    I might have added to the above “…and eliminate the middle man,” but you might take that for being a Jewish sentiment, and your use of a famous Kissinger quote in the context of progroms suggests that you have a problem with Jews to the point of thinking that they had those progroms coming to them. While antisemitism is a well-established EOC tradition, any racial prejudice is beneath the contempt of a Christian; then again, your church also tolerates the heresy of Darwinism, which made scientific racism possible. Would the fathers approve of Darwinism? I do hope I’m reading you wrong – for your sake. NB: no CNN crew, but NYT and international correspondents were presen..then again, some of those reporters might have been Jews. For what appears to be a non-Jewish source about the pogroms and (at best) the czar’s complacency, wikispaces has an article “The Czars and the Jews” which will be helpful; however, I can’t guarrantee that its judenrein.

    Let’s face it: the real issue between us boils down to whether or not there is an infallible church maintaining the pristine faith once delivered to the saints, which has both an oral and written tradition which she can interpret infallibly. You say that your church is that body, while I say that no such body exists or even ever existed. therefore I can say without reservation or equivocation that I do appreciate small-t-tradition and the heritage of the fathers, but that they were, at the end of the day, flawed and fallible men in a flawed and fallible church. Forget bogus miracles, for hte real miracle is that God loves, saves, and acts through such a church as is.

    Finally, liberty of conscience, which prevents men from lording it over me but doesn’t allow me to sin – you know that too. Given your chuch’s provlems with sodomy (did you check out the Monomakhos blog yet?), you really should’t bring up gay marriage. save yor comment for Bishop Savas and Mr Pappas (and his sodomite “husband”). If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you both should and eventually will.

  19. John

    YOU decided what constituted the beliefs of the early church and went withyour prejudices.

    No I didn’t “decide” what the beliefs of the early church were, I read about them in books. When I did so, I felt uncomfortable I as a Protestant didn’t do these things, but the EO church did.

    just because you don’t see them in embryonic form doesn’t mean they weren’t there,

    Yes I only know about the things that are historically verifiable. So do you, so does everyone.

    Let’s have that proof that there was an Assyrian King Nebuchadnezzer.

    Most things from that time period are documented exactly zero times. So we don’t know them at all. When we are fortunate, they are documented once, then historians tend to believe them, without compelling evidence to the contrary. This is documented once, and that’s as good as it gets.

    You seem to have no problem calling Bbiblical antinomies errors, so why can’t you admit that the apocrypha can blow it?

    If its a copyist error, then the copyist blew it. Where did Jesus arrive in Mt 8:28 ? Gadarenes, Gergesenes, or Gerasenes? Three different places, all of them real, but differing in the manuscript tradition. Does a problem in the manuscript copying render the book unworkable?

    You also know that what is translated as kill in fact means murder, ie unlawful killing, and that when something is forbidden, the opposite is enjoined; eg not committing adultery also carries over to fornication, and commands sexual purity. Again, you know that, so why your comment?

    Oh, so kill means murder in your church tradition? Should I consider this an an internal dispute within Protestantism, or will I allow language and definitions to be different and recognise it as such? But if I do give you that leeway, will you give me the same?

    This is a matter of wored choice expressing the same idea vs setting the termso of a discussion- again, you know that.

    Exactly, its a matter of WORD CHOICE, not a matter of a different doctrine. So if I describe one thing as “tradition” and someone else describes something else as tradition, we have to check if its just word choice, or underlying differences.

    I maintain the LXX claim

    You do, but you refuse to document it. Naughty.

    do show me where the Jews accepted the apocrypha prior to the final rejection at Jamnia.

    Jamnia didn’t decide the canon. Read any book on the canon, it will tell you the same thing.

    So you challenge me to show where the Jews accepted these books. I tell you what, I’ll do a deal with you. You demonstrate where the Jews accepted….. oh… let’s say Esther, and I’ll return the favour for the other books. Hey, I’ll even let you quote your home boy Josephus.

    Glancing over at what the scholars quoted at Wikipedia say, they say what is obvious to me, namely that Josephus’ canon is very sketchy, and nobody really believes this his canon was the only one floating around at the time.

    I cited Jewish sources that show this, but you resorted ot ad hominems and poisoning the well. I assume you can do better.

    I thought Bnonn set the standard for poisoning the well by saying we shouldn’t take the canon for heretics, and we’re playing here in his back yard.

    And you know what, who cares what the heretics say because everybody knows it takes many hundreds of years for the process of canonisation and recognition to solidify, and no Christian believes that this process occurs in heretical groups. That being so, we wouldn’t even expect heretical groups to recognise the latest books, anymore than we would expect them to recognise the NT. That doesn’t hurt Paul’s statement about the Jews being the custodians of scripture, because the Jews were the custodians of the apocrypha, and their right-believing successors in the church are the ones to conclude recognition of the latest additions.

    Per Pail, he gives no indication of Scripture being anything other than what is written down.

    Well duh, scripture means something written by definition.

    Please tell me why your oral tradition was written down if oral transmission is so reliable.

    It was? I don’t know that it was all written. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. I guess this cuts two ways. Please tell me why you guys give sermons and read scripture orally when written tradition is so great. You could just lock everyone in individual cells with their own bibles. When you cough up an answer, you’ll probably realise why written isn’t best for everything.

    Dreams, prophecies, miracles, etc, yes; falsehoods, no.

    Amazing you’ll accept dreams, but not books that everyone acknowledges are at least alluded to in the NT.

    I’ll ask again how the Jewish church knew her canon without an infallible poobah or council…and the answer is?

    You seem to be quick to forget we have no infallible poobah, nor do we have a council that defined the canon. So that little straw man didn’t work out too well for you did it?

    I already told you how I think the Jews had a canon. There was a true people of God back then who held it in their collective conscience and oral tradition. Note, it wasn’t held definitively in heretical groups. If you want to disagree, then answer your own question, because its the same question I keep asking you. I’ve answered you, now you answer me.

    I ask again for the name of the denomination that split over paedocommunion only.

    4.2 seconds in Google yielded this. “I will admit up front that i haven’t engulfed myself in the research on the topic of paedocommunion….. But in my last church, the issue caused a schism that was just shy of what you would call a ‘church split’… complete with hurt feelings and distrust on both sides.”

    You can bet your bank account that if 4 seconds in Google found this, there’s a lot more of them out there.

    As for splitting over language, that’s nonsense, as the EOC stays together despite being a polyglot institution

    It’s not nonsense at all. The early church came close to a split over the term Homoousian, and its well recognised that the Latin church struggled to come to terms with what was going on in the Greek church. And the argument with the Copts is all over what exactly “nature” means, which could mean one thing to one person, but something else to someone else.

    No, nobody touched oer kissed the ark

    I don’t know if they kissed the ark, but they certainly kissed pretty much everything else. So its the kissing thing actually what you object to is it? Josephus mentions the tradition of the mezuzah and the Talmud mentions the tradition of kissing the mezuzah. Remember, those two sources you held up as authentic Judaism? So do you want to decry these sources and have no canon, or do you want to abandon your objections to Orthodoxy?

    That excluded foreign fire, images, or anything else not explicitly commanded by God

    Didn’t you read your bible that images WERE commanded by God? Look at images EVERYWHERE:

    •On the Ark—Ex. 25:18
    •On the Curtains of the Tabernacle—Ex. 26:1
    •On the Veil of the Holy of Holies—Ex. 26:31
    •Two huge Cherubim in the Sanctuary—1st Kings 6:23
    •On the Walls—1st Kings 6:29
    •On the Doors—1st Kings 6:32
    •And on the furnishings—1st Kings 7:29,36

    So what was the difference between the images, and those condemned by the law? We can find out from the Hebrews themselves in their translation being the septuagint, they translate the word there “eidoloi”, i.e. idols. That means pagan idols, not images related to the Jewish religion.

    Not only was the “IMAGES EVERYWHERE” policy clearly seen in the scriptures themselves, we know that the Jews held to that in their synagogues. When the 2nd century synagogue Dura-Europos was dug up, it was covered in icons floor to ceiling.

    So who is interpreting scripture correctly? Us, who have temples with icons everywhere in conformance with scripture and ancient Jewish practice, or you protestants with your bare walls?

    As for the saints issue again, if yiu can’t know for certain that the saint is indeed even a saint, why nit just pray to God has Jesus told us to in the Lord’s Prayer?

    You can do that, no problem. Now let me throw the question back at you. Since you can just go pray to Jesus, why do you petition other folks at church to pray for you, when you can’t know for sure if they are Christians? You can’t answer that can you, without blowing your own position.

    While antisemitism is a well-established EOC tradition, any racial prejudice is beneath the contempt of a Christian

    People have accused the bible of being anti-semitic too.

    then again, your church also tolerates the heresy of Darwinism

    Really. Let’s see what the scholars say about that.

    “Eastern Orthodox theology, entangled in spiritualism and ethicism, did not have
    alert and able spokesmen to fight the new heresy; however, once the church
    recognized the danger, the theological journals began to carry anti-Darwinian articles”.

    “At first the Eastern Orthodox Church in Russia ignored Darwinism since it, unlike the Church of Rome was highly mystical and not at all concerned with such earthly matters as the evolution of organic species, but eventually even it was roused to oppose Darwinism”.

    “has examined eastern Luthanism and discovered that its thinkers were inclined to accept a theistic form of evolutionary science”.

    Oh dear, that cheap shot didn’t go well for you.

    which made scientific racism possible.

    I would have thought genetics does that, regardless of Darwinism.

    and (at best) the czar’s complacency

    So now you’re damning him for complacency? Who amongst us can’t be accused of that? And when you happen to have reign over the largest country on the planet, won’t there inevitably be things you are complacent about?

    but that they were, at the end of the day, flawed and fallible men in a flawed and fallible church.

    If that’s all the consensus of the church that Jesus Christ founded is, just inexplicable coincidental agreement about issues that the bible is far from clear about, and which sola scriptura-ists fight about in a 500 year war, then all I can say is, if I’m going to pick my doctrines among many contradictory and unprovable choices, the unanimous consensus of the fathers is as good as any. Between rolling the dice like a Protestant, or at least having unity, based on an allegedly unhelpful consensus, I’ll take the unity and consensus. You guys can argue it out for the next thousand year, and STILL never get anywhere. What a plan.

    Oh, and you still don’t have a canon, because you can’t identify the people of God who can tell you it.

    Forget bogus miracles, for hte real miracle is that God loves, saves, and acts through such a church as is.

    Acts through a church? That’s the very proposition you are denying, but now inexplicably admitting. Because IF God acts through a church, he does so infallibly, because that’s how God does stuff.

    Given your chuch’s provlems with sodomy (did you check out the Monomakhos blog yet?)

    I browsed that link, and I still don’t know what you’re talking about, neither am I going to read a thousand pages just to find out.

  20. Dr P

    John, let’s look at your statements and arguments:

    Per your alleged objectivity about church tradition “I read about them in books” – as did everyone who came to a different conclusion to yours.

    As to this tradions “historically verifiable,” the smart folks at CalledtoCommunion are quite satisfied that they have, too. Your point?

    If your documentation of this apocryphal Assyrian Nebuchadnezzer is “as good as it gets,” then it is seriously wanting. I’ve not seen any responsible advocate for the canonical status of said books to have made such a statement; could you provide one?

    In Hebrew, the verb katal means to kill, while the verb ratsach means to murder. Guess which one God chose to use in the 5th(6th) Commandment? It’s not a cultural thing, but an Hebrew one. God’s choice of words have doctrinal consequences,, at least for thise of us who believe that Scripture is His word plenarily inspired and preserved.

    Per the LXX, I gave you the Talmud and Josephus, and could add Philo. Of course, this may be too Jewish for your bigotry, but I doubt that any witness would satisfy you – that presuppositional thing again. Your comment about other canons is fitting, as the Egyptian Jews had 2 spurious temples, so it would come as no surprise that they would have spurious scriptures recognized among only themselves. These folks were the very sort of heretics whose testimony you dismissed in post above, but now embrace as they agree with you.

    On the topic of antisemitism, if some wish to call jewish book in which Jewish apostles rale against a sinful and apostate Jewry in the manner of Moses and other Jewish leaders antisemitic, there’s little I can do about it. It’s neither my problem nor my responsibility to cast pearls before swine and answer fools according to their folly.

    Back to Hebrews 1:1, I don’t see your point. Once God revealed Himself through dreams, theophanies, etc, but now through the person of Christ. That was then, this is now, so no more dreams, theophanies, etc. We now have a Bible from God Himself, and hence no need of further revelation like the kind we get from caparisoned poobahs. BTW the EOs’ councils are nought but a bureaucratized poobah believed to have spoken infallibly(your proof?), whise decrees must now be interpreted and applied by fallible councils and bishops. Again, what infallible council did the OT church have? After all, if God does what He does infallibly, the OT church which crucified Christ had to be infallibly lead.

    Your statements “just shy of a church split” and “came close to splitting” means that there were no splits over those issues. So, do provide me with that denomination which actually split over one Bible verse, and the name of the demonination that actually split over paedocommunion.

    What’s the difference between praying to a living or departed believer? One is alive while the other is dead is a great place to start, because Scripture gives me warrant to ask a frient do pray for me while providing none to petitions the dead. Saul tried it, and God was not impressed. The fact that all our departed live in Heaven is irrelevant, as Samuel was alive in Heaven. The fact that the apocrypha provide a warrant to do what God forbids (ie, necromancy) doesn ‘t help your cause.

    Idolatry is another one of those even a cursory reading of the OT reveals is deeply offensive to God. This is not limited to false gods, but also worshiping the True God on a false manner (eg foreign fire, faulty and otherwise unauthorized offerings, worshiping in any place other that where God said to, etc). Zyhe temple was not Burger King – one didn’t get to have it his way. Since nobody touched the ark, and even only designated Levites could carry it on poles so as to avoid contact, please tell me where God authorized your will-worship? You call sola Scriptura nonsense but can only give me antinomian will-worship in its stead. On the one hand you give me antisemitism, then on the other you appeal to Jewish extrabiblical practices; I guess any stick is big enough to beat the Proddies with.

    As I stated previously, you are correct that there were Divinely-appointed images in the temple, but none were objects of adoration. Lutherans maintain the use of the crucifix, but position it high enought to avoid turning them into nehushtans. Synagogues even today have images, but the only serve as a sort of wallpaper rather than cult objects of adoration. So what? Are your images God-appointed, and if so, where? Are you suggesting that God changed His mind? Where and how did He communicate this?

    As for evolution, go to oca.org and read for yourself where theistic evolution is accepted. So what that they don’t accept atheistic materialism, when they can call God a liar and deny creation as clearly taught in Scripture? Awrial tollhouses, yes; creation as God wrote about it, no. Evolutionary theroies were current during the time of the early church; where is the unanimous consent of the fathers that this is fine and dandy? In fact, where is the unanimous consent of the fathers? You reject Augustine on the Trinity and predestination, as well as his view on the Real Presence (he rejected it) – hence no unanimous consent, and I could go on. What you really mean is the councils, as fathers differed on may points. Since the split of the catholic party int EO, OO, and Assyrian factions, how do you maintain the credibility of your claim without resorting to “my faction is the true remnamt that got it right?” Every schismatic claims that.

    This gets back to Bnonn’s central question and the problem of presuppostions. You and I can go hammer and tongs all day without coming to any resolution. The bottom line remains that I see the distinction exists between sola and solo Scriptura, while you must say that it doesn’t because it can’t. Eerything else just skirts the issue.

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