Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The glory and the relief of the way we interpret Scripture


The often wacky, sometimes insulting Lucian has commented on my blog, wondering about the many strains of interpretive tradition present in the life of Eastern Orthodoxy. Is it best to interpret the Scripture literally, he asks?


Among his propositions are to take Ezekiel 44:2 and apply it to the perpetual virginity of the BVMary.
Or to take the 4 rivers of the Paradise of Eden. In the literal interpretation, they are the four earthly rivers of Tigris, Euphrates, Pison and Gihon. On a more spiritual level, exemplified by the Exegetical School of Alexandria, the four rivers of Paradise are -let's say- the four cardinal virtues, which water our hearts.
And yet, on a still DEEPER, and, this time, Christological level, exemplified now by the Exegetical School at Antioch, the four rivers of the Paradise are the Four Gospels, which, -again-, water our hearts through the Holy Spirit that enbreathes them.

I, OTOH, am proposing the grammatico-historical method. The GHM employs the grammar, vocabulary, and context of the author, the historical context, the context of the passage in question, the context of the book, and the context of the rest of the Bible to determine authorial intent of the passage in question. That's the GHM in a nutshell. What the author intended is the correct interpretation.

This is, by the way, the method that anyone uses virtually all of the time while reading virtually anything. And of course authorial intent is what we want to discover since we believe that the Scripture is God speaking. Thus, obviously, we want to know what God said and less what man said about what God said, even though that has its (far subordinate) place.

Now, what does that mean for us in the examples Lucian brought up? Alot. The really fun thing is that EOx are often quick, as I mentioned, to question what a SS-ist might say in regard to, say, justification by faith alone. "That's just your individual, private interpretation! Your interp must agree with what The Church® says!"

A few points on that, by way of reminder:
1) How would I know I'm supposed to submit to what The Church® says except the Scr allegedly instructs me to do so? But of course that would be an individual private interpretation of the allegedly-supportive passages. Either that or I a priori accept The Church as infallible interper and then see that it teaches that these Scr psgs direct the reader to submit to The Church as infall interper. Problem solved either way, right?
2) Of course, I can't infallibly know what the infall interper says, b/c I'd be exercising private individual interp of what the infall interper said. I need an infall interper of the infall interper.
3) And then of course I'd need an infall interper of the infall interper of the infall interper of the Scr.
4) And then I'd need an infall interper of the infall interper of the infall interper of the infall interper of the Scr.
5) Another problem is that there is not necessarily any reason within EOdox Tradition to take the psgs that allegedly direct me to submit to the EOC as infall interper as a command. Rather, as demonstrated here by Lucian, there are a few possibilities:
a. I could go off into flights of allegorical fancy. No, Peter is not LITERALLY given the keys to the kingdom of heaven in Matt 16. Jesus changes Peter's name from bending reed (Simon) to Peter (rock), symbolising how the Jewish people would become no longer pliable to what the Lord said back in the days of Nehemiah and Ezra, and now they would be hardened in heart against the Messiah, and they would open the door to heaven for the Gentiles to come in.
b. I could easily, in my flight of fancy, contradict EO Tradition.
c. There's no good mechanism (beyond I said so b/c my bishop said so b/c The Church® said so) to distinguish between what is true and what is false in this tremendously wide scope of possibility of interpretations.
d. Why can't I just allegorise the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ as well? Don't talk to me about context or 1 Corinthians 15. No, I'm spiritualising the text here. (Do I sound like John Shelby Spong yet?)

Or we could stick to the GHM and let the text speak for itself. The danger is, of course, to run the risk of private interps and unsupported, sinful ideas being taken and run with by someone, possibly leading people away with him. But I'd ask: How is that different than what we've seen here? Isn't Sacred Tradition just a chrismated bundle of private interps that somehow the amorphous, vague mass The Church® has "stated" that it will accept as part of its teaching? At least in this way, errors can be corrected from becoming fossilised and ingrained into the life of the church, never to be correctable again. Especially not by someone's "private interp."

33 comments:

a said...

"Isn't Sacred Tradition just a chrismated bundle of private interps that somehow the amorphous, vague mass The Church has "stated" that it will accept as part of its teaching?"


In a way, (Discounting the "amorphous, vague mass" calumny)... yes, it is. When Christ said he would send the Spirit to lead us in all truth and when we were told that the Church® is the pillar of all truth, that the gates of Hell would not prevail against her, that she is the bride of Christ and the Body of Christ as well, some Christians actually believed it! Those dummies.

Rhology said...

Wait a minute, you're exercising the GHM here. Wrongly, but you are. So, thanks for proving my point in this post.

Also, I appreciate much the admission that all you have is private interpretation to fall back on. It removes a really annoying obstacle that RCs like to throw in the way of really getting down to what the Scr really says.

Peace,
Rhology

Lucian said...

Is it best to interpret the Scripture literally, he asks?

No, he didn't. :-) As I've explained at large, and shown from Scripture, all are (from an OD perspective, at least) admitted. There's no "spiritualizing away" of anything, or at any time.

Paul doesn't "spiritualize away" the historical existence of Abraham, Agar and Sarrah, or of their children: Isaac and Ismael. Yet, he doesn't shy from an Christological interpretation thereof either.

The fact that people shouldn't be that scrooge and ill-hearted as to tie a poor oxen's mouth while ploughing the field with it isn't "done away with" by the same, when he rather rhetorically asks us whether we think if bulls were God's primordial concern when uttering this commandment.

What the author intended is the correct interpretation.

The Bible has a two-fold authorship: divine and human. It's only fitting so: the Bible is the Word of God, and is at the same time both divine, and also human, because Jesus Christ is THE Word of God, and He is also, at the same time, both divine, as well as human.

For instance, when the Arch-Priest who condamned Jesus exclaimed: "It is better for one man to die, than for the whole people to suffer" it is clear that he didn't had the same thing in mind as John interpreted. And John himself is aware of this when he states: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied" [through the Holy Spirit, with which he was annointed with on the day of his consecration as a Priest; which Holy Spirit blows whenever and whereever and upon whomever He so chooses].

Yes, Christ gave no physical keys to Simon, when he called him Peter. Rather, spiritual ones, namely the power of binding and loosing.

P.S.: I know Simon to mean Sign, (not as You say). BUT, when I used my Easton's Bible Dictionary to check this out, it gave a wholly different meaning alltogether: "hearing". Hmmm ...

Rhology said...

Hey there,

Paul doesn't "spiritualize away" the historical existence of Abraham, Agar and Sarrah, or of their children: Isaac and Ismael. Yet, he doesn't shy from an Christological interpretation thereof either.

You used the GHM. Cool, I'm with you so far.

"It is better for one man to die, than for the whole people to suffer" it is clear that he didn't had the same thing in mind as John interpreted.

But Caiaphas wasn't the author. John was the author.

Yes, Christ gave no physical keys to Simon, when he called him Peter. Rather, spiritual ones, namely the power of binding and loosing.

Right, but use some other method but the GHM and we end up in the flights of fancy you were proposing.

And I could be wrong about "Simon"'s meaning... if so, I could just make sthg else up. It doesn't matter.

Peace,
Rhology

a said...

Wow.
Lucian's commentary is so good and resoned that I'm removing my snarky self from the discussion.

a said...

OK, I WILL remove myself after I finish removing my eyes which offend me... (OW! OW! That HURTS.)

Rhology said...

It's looking like "a" is completely missing the point. Lucian was the one who was misusing the word "literal".

Of course, if "a" is militating against what Lucian is trying to say, never mind, I'm all for it. ;-)

a said...

"Of course, if "a" is militating against what Lucian is trying to say, never mind, I'm all for it. ;-)"

See? the whole intepretation question is more difficult than you think. :-) *




(* Of course, I really would be risking sudden death if I compared my own goofy writing with what we all agree is infallible: Scripture. The above is a joke only)

Hey, wait, I'm supposed to have removed myself! BAD, BAD "a!"

Lucian said...

But Caiaphas wasn't the author. John was the author.

True. But he was a vessel of the Holy Spirit, through whom He spoke, and even prophesied. And he himself never understood what he himself has uttered.

orthodox said...

R: How would I know I'm supposed to submit to what The Church® says except the Scr allegedly instructs me to do so?

O: We're still waiting for an answer from you as to how you know what scripture is to submit to it until the witness of the people of God (aka the church) tells you.

R: 2) Of course, I can't infallibly know what the infall interper says, b/c I'd be exercising private individual interp of what the infall interper said. I need an infall interper of the infall interper.

O: You don't grasp the Orthodox mind. Interpretation is a community and thus church affair. For all your hypothetical epistemological questions, look at the reality on the ground. Trace the history of, oh say the Presbyterian or Anglican churches since they began in the last 500 years and compare it to the Orthodox churches. How come we believe the same as 500 years ago, and those denominations are in chaos?

Here's an example. People in those denominations use the grammatical historical method to conclude that women's ordination is not a matter of the faith, but is just the cultural context of the early civilization, like women wearing hats or something. In Orthodoxy, this is not even on the agenda. It's not even on the agenda to put it on the agenda. It's a non issue. There is no women's ordination because there has never been any women's ordination. That's the end of the story for us.

But this issue a continual area of infighting in the protestant churches. What's more, it's a fight that can never be won, because there is no authority or circumstance that can ever declare it won. At least if Orthodoxy develops a new question to answer, it can ultimately solve it authoritatively if it chooses to.

R: b. I could easily, in my flight of fancy, contradict EO Tradition.
c. There's no good mechanism (beyond I said so b/c my bishop said so b/c The Church® said so) to distinguish between what is true and what is false in this tremendously wide scope of possibility of interpretations.
d. Why can't I just allegorise the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ as well? Don't talk to me about context or 1 Corinthians 15. No, I'm spiritualising the text here.

O: Again, you don't grasp the Orthodox mind. The Orthodox mind is conformity to the community belief both now and historically. If you wander into flights of fancy you would be consciously wandering into areas outside Orthodoxy, and in some cases contrary to Orthodoxy.

R: Isn't Sacred Tradition just a chrismated bundle of private interps that somehow the amorphous, vague mass The Church® has "stated" that it will accept as part of its teaching?

O: If the interpretations are that of the entire church, then there isn't very much "private" about it is there? That's the whole point, that they aren't my interpretations, they are the communal interpretations.

R: At least in this way, errors can be corrected from becoming fossilised and ingrained into the life of the church, never to be correctable again.

O: Really. How much correcting is being done in protestant land? From what I see, y'all have given up on that. Protestant churches are quite reluctant to state a position on anything, lest they offend someone else's private interpretation. As an example, I know some folks who went to a very conservative Presbyterian style church. However, the pastor there never so much as even suggested to baptise their kids as is Presbyterian teaching. However he did baptise kids of parents who asked him to, again without any argument.

I don't see anything being corrected in protestant land, all I see is a doctrinal "I'm ok, you're ok" attitude. All you therefore have is fossilised and ingrained "Do what you want to do. You are your own Pope, so go and make your own doctrines".

Rhology said...

We're still waiting for an answer from you as to how you know what scripture is to submit to it until the witness of the people of God (aka the church) tells you.

Asked and answered.

Interpretation is a community and thus church affair. For all your hypothetical epistemological questions, look at the reality on the ground.

The reality on the ground is that your community interps the Scr wrongly. I'm not the one who forces the question into these hypothetical epistemological grounds; it's the sola ecclesia-ist who does so by demanding "Your interp is just private! You need the infall interper! Nanny nanny boo boo!"
In reality, I know (and I suspect you know) that my position is the one that fits the Scr, but you play games in order to shake off the conviction and in order to sustain your arguments.
I'm just pointing out that even your shimmys and shakes are invalid.

Trace the history of, oh say the Presbyterian or Anglican churches since they began in the last 500 years and compare it to the Orthodox churches. How come we believe the same as 500 years ago, and those denominations are in chaos?

Some are in chaos b/c they stopped paying attention to the Scr.
Some are not in chaos and have a degree of internal unity that you can only dream of.
I'd add that splinter groups from, say, Sola Scriptura Presbys, if they still hold to SS, then they don't splinter very far OR they forsake the original rule of faith - SS. Splinter groups from EO, however, splinter into anti-conciliar heresy (non-Chalcedonians, for example) and STILL profess to hold to the same rule of faith (Sola ecclesia). Even there there is a qualitative difference, and it reflects poorly on your side.

It's a non issue. There is no women's ordination because there has never been any women's ordination. That's the end of the story for us.

And in the SoBap Convention, it's the same. No big deal.

But this issue a continual area of infighting in the protestant churches.

But most Prots don't hold to SS, so I refuse to identify with or defend them. They're not on my side and I'm not on theirs.

The Orthodox mind is conformity to the community belief both now and historically.

The Orthodox mind is to beg the question on these important topics? OK.

If you wander into flights of fancy you would be consciously wandering into areas outside Orthodoxy, and in some cases contrary to Orthodoxy.

How would I know? If I were part of the Orthodox community, these flights of fancy might get absorbed or might get pushed out. But how can I know which is CORRECT?

If the interpretations are that of the entire church, then there isn't very much "private" about it is there?

It's a private interpretation taken on by a group of private interpers. Why should that be impressive? The SoBap Convention is another example of that.

How much correcting is being done in protestant land?

Again, I refuse to defend "Protestantism", so burn that strawman all day if you want.
Among SS churches, a whole lot of that correction goes on. And church discipline goes on too. Often it's even over doctrinal matters, as opposed to when EO patriarchs threaten excommunication over petty landgrabs.

Protestant churches are quite reluctant to state a position on anything

Not SS churches. Focus on the correct target.

very conservative Presbyterian style church. However, the pastor there never so much as even suggested to baptise their kids as is Presbyterian teaching.

Either the pastor was a wimp or the church wasn't very conservative.
Surely you wouldn't accept a singular example of a lone EO priest telling a RC that "you need to follow whichever church you feel fits you best, whether EO or RC", as a RC told me an EO priest told him.

You are your own Pope, so go and make your own doctrines".

Just a naked assertion without any argument, going against the whole thrust of my post. Whenever the "you're your own Pope" language comes out, it makes me smile. It lets me know your arguments have no ammo.

Peace,
Rhology

Anonymous said...

"Some are in chaos b/c they stopped paying attention to the Scr. Some are not in chaos and have a degree of internal unity that you can only dream of. I'd add that splinter groups from, say, Sola Scriptura Presbys, if they still hold to SS, then they don't splinter very far OR they forsake the original rule of faith - SS. Splinter groups from EO, however, splinter into anti-conciliar heresy (non-Chalcedonians, for example) and STILL profess to hold to the same rule of faith (Sola ecclesia). Even there there is a qualitative difference, and it reflects poorly on your side."

Sounds like chaos to me.

orthodox said...

R: Asked and answered.

O: I don't get it. The bloggers here keep saying it is answered, but I haven't heard what it is. I haven't even heard a bad answer yet, let alone a good one.

R: The reality on the ground is that your community interps the Scr wrongly.

O: Are we really. But I thought you couldn't figure out what the Church was saying unless you had an infallible interpreter for the infallible interpreter of the infallible interpreter. Now all of a sudden you have clarity. How can that be?

R: In reality, I know (and I suspect you know) that my position is the one that fits the Scr

O: Purely on common sense grounds, why would you think that I think that the common or catholic interpretation is wrong? If it was clearly wrong, then it wouldn't be the common interpretation to begin with.

R: Some are in chaos b/c they stopped paying attention to the Scr.

O: In other words, anyone who disagrees with you doesn't pay attention to scripture.

R: Some are not in chaos and have a degree of internal unity that you can only dream of.

O: Really. Tell me more.

R: I'd add that splinter groups from, say, Sola Scriptura Presbys, if they still hold to SS, then they don't splinter very far OR they forsake the original rule of faith - SS.

O: Ok, let's test it. Show me a Presbyterian group that HAS strayed far and also has stated it rejects SS.

R: Splinter groups from EO, however, splinter into anti-conciliar heresy (non-Chalcedonians, for example) and STILL profess to hold to the same rule of faith (Sola ecclesia). Even there there is a qualitative difference, and it reflects poorly on your side.

O: From your point of view, how have non-Chalcedoneons "strayed far" from Eastern Orthodoxy?

R: And in the SoBap Convention, it's the same. No big deal.

O: Why is it the same: Oughtn't they hold a convention to discuss the exegesis of the relevant passages before so hastily passing judgment? Or are you saying that tradition is now a rule of faith for SoBap?

R: But most Prots don't hold to SS, so I refuse to identify with or defend them. They're not on my side and I'm not on theirs.

O: What are they holding to then? I can't see any other claims of authority.

R: How would I know? If I were part of the Orthodox community, these flights of fancy might get absorbed or might get pushed out. But how can I know which is CORRECT?

O: Only a minute or two ago you were quite clear on Orthodox teaching to pronounce it false. Now you're all unclear again. Amazing how you twist one way or the other to suit your argument.

R: It's a private interpretation taken on by a group of private interpers.

O: When you define everything as "private" the word loses all meaning.

R: Again, I refuse to defend "Protestantism", so burn that strawman all day if you want.
Among SS churches, a whole lot of that correction goes on.

O: Really. You're some kind of baptist, correct? Now if the bible so clearly teaches believer baptism as you have previously claimed, wouldn't you expect to find ONE, just ONE presbyterian congregation in the whole world who comes to its senses and changes its teaching? I've never heard of that happening or anything even close to something like that happening.

No, SS churches are not reforming, they are just holding to their own traditions.

R: O: Protestant churches are quite reluctant to state a position on anything

R: Not SS churches. Focus on the correct target.

O: Like I said, those folks at the conservative Presbyterian church were given no guidance on the subject of baptism.

R: Either the pastor was a wimp or the church wasn't very conservative.

O: Neither is true. He was one of the most well known figures in a denomination in which both he and the church were well known for their conservative evangelical stance. My guess is that he can see two sides of this argument and doesn't want to take a stance. Then again, if he had taken a stance in line with his denomination, you would say he was wrong.

R: Surely you wouldn't accept a singular example of a lone EO priest telling a RC that "you need to follow whichever church you feel fits you best, whether EO or RC", as a RC told me an EO priest told him.

O: Even you would know that this is a somewhat off statement from the point of view of Orthodoxy. But who is to say that protestant pastor was wrong in not taking a stance? If he had taken the party line you would still say he was wrong. There is no right and wrong in protestantism, there is just an endless stream of opinions.

Rhology said...

Hi Anonymous,

Yes, chaos on both sides it would seem, wouldn't it? Pay attention.

Orthodox,

I haven't even heard a bad answer yet, let alone a good one.

Come on, I've at least given you an answer you'd take as bad.

But I thought you couldn't figure out what the Church was saying unless you had an infallible interpreter for the infallible interpreter of the infallible interpreter. Now all of a sudden you have clarity. How can that be?

You still can't keep track of the argument. This is amazing.
When I say this, I'm taking the sola-ecclesia argument (um, that would be YOUR argument) to its logical conclusion. Not mine. You're a poor listener - you've been told many times that SS-ists have no structure for an infallible interper.

why would you think that I think that the common or catholic interpretation is wrong?

B/c God has revealed truth to you to an extent but you suppress the truth in wickedness.

anyone who disagrees with you doesn't pay attention to scripture.

Where did I say anythg like that? There's a diff between interping Scr wrongly and disregarding it entirely.

Really. Tell me more.

OPC, for one.
SoBaps.

Show me a Presbyterian group that HAS strayed far and also has stated it rejects SS.

PCUSA.

From your point of view, how have non-Chalcedoneons "strayed far" from Eastern Orthodoxy?

The fact that they are not institutionally unified with EOC is enough.

Oughtn't they hold a convention to discuss the exegesis of the relevant passages before so hastily passing judgment?

that's what frequently happens, yes.

Or are you saying that tradition is now a rule of faith for SoBap?

Never denied that. However, all traditions are to be submitted to Scr. You know this, you're just playing games.

What are they holding to then? I can't see any other claims of authority.

They're holding to their own traditions, to humanistic ideals, to political correctness.

Only a minute or two ago you were quite clear on Orthodox teaching to pronounce it false.

That's b/c a minute ago I was critiquing it by the Scr.
Now I'm trying to see how, as an EO insider, you'd propose I know which way is correct.
And of course, you didn't even try to answer the question. Par for the course.

When you define everything as "private" the word loses all meaning.

Sorry, when a bunch of people get their private interpretations together, you know what it is? A bunch of private interps that happen to agree. Whoopie.

Now if the bible so clearly teaches believer baptism as you have previously claimed, wouldn't you expect to find ONE, just ONE presbyterian congregation in the whole world who comes to its senses and changes its teaching?

This is just a rehashed "Why do people disagree about the Scr's meaning?" argument. Lame.

those folks at the conservative Presbyterian church were given no guidance on the subject of baptism.

You are a blasphemer. You also can't follow arguments, nor give any indication you remember being corrected.
And they were given plenty of guidance; that doesn't mean they'll follow it correctly.

Neither is true. He was one of the most well known figures in a denomination in which both he and the church were well known for their conservative evangelical stance.

Your ipse dixit doesn't impress me.
And clearly he was either one; what's the 3rd option? the Scr is unclear? You know, saying that would fit the things you've said here quite well, come to think of it. God is incompetent and can't reveal what He wanted to reveal.

My guess is that he can see two sides of this argument and doesn't want to take a stance.

Then he is to be commended for wavering away from an incorrect stance (infant baptism).

if he had taken a stance in line with his denomination, you would say he was wrong.

Correct. Why is this relevant again? He's still my brother in Christ, as opposed to a Gospel-denier and blasphemer like you.

There is no right and wrong in protestantism, there is just an endless stream of opinions.

I've invited you in several ways in my last comment to present the better way, O All-Truthful Voice of Orthodoxy®. When will you bring the goods?

Peace,
Rhology

orthodox said...

R: Come on, I've at least given you an answer you'd take as bad.

O: I read through that blog article again, and not only do I see no answer to how you know what the scriptures are, you spent the whole article quoting Chrysostom and Athanasius, both of whom held to different canons that you do. Oh the irony.

R: When I say this, I'm taking the sola-ecclesia argument (um, that would be YOUR argument) to its logical conclusion. Not mine.

O: The trouble is, the infallible interpreter argument isn't about some naval gazing theory of epistemology, taking something to its logical (and reductum ad absurdum) argument, but about the practical situation of what sola scriptura leads to. As St Vincent said in the 4th century, we need to follow the catholic interpretation because those reading scripture alone have diverse views which doesn't lead to unity in the church. As a practical matter of fact, we don't need to go to infinite levels of interpretation to gain unity. However we DO need to interpret the scriptures as a Church and a community. It's only common sense that Christ's people can only have unity if they interpret as a comm-unity and have a faith as a comm-unity.

---O: why would you think that I think that the common or catholic interpretation is wrong?

R: B/c God has revealed truth to you to an extent but you suppress the truth in wickedness.

O: As did, I guess, all the fathers of the church... you know, the ones who settled the canon in the church. Everyone's always been suppressing the truth in wickedness until you.

R: Where did I say anythg like that? There's a diff between interping Scr wrongly and disregarding it entirely.

O: Amost every divergent teaching I can think of has been justified by someone from scripture.

R: OPC, for one.
SoBaps.

Haven't we just been told that 90% of SoBap pastors are non-Calvinist? So how is that unity I can only dream of?

The OPC? How rational is it to hold up a denomination as a model of unity of doctrine when you disagree with their doctrine! That's truely amusing.

--O: Show me a Presbyterian group that HAS strayed far and also has stated it rejects SS.

R: PCUSA.

O: Now show me the source document where it has stated it rejects SS. Document your claim.

R: The fact that they are not institutionally unified with EOC is enough.

O: The EOC does not teach institutional unification. The EOC is not institutionally unified and has no wish to be so.

---O: Oughtn't they hold a convention to discuss the exegesis of the relevant passages before so hastily passing judgment?

R: that's what frequently happens, yes.

O: So it's only a matter of time before they hold such a convention and prove your claim wrong.

---O: Or are you saying that tradition is now a rule of faith for SoBap?

R: Never denied that. However, all traditions are to be submitted to Scr. You know this, you're just playing games.

O: You just told me that SoBap hasn't submitted women's ordination to scripture and probably never intends to. Looks like it was all just talk. How is SoBap different to the Corban following Pharisees?

R: They're holding to their own traditions, to humanistic ideals, to political correctness.

O: So you claim, but I've seen these groups defend their ideas from scripture. Do your women wear a head covering in church as scripture commands? Or do you hold to your own traditions and ideals?

R: That's b/c a minute ago I was critiquing it by the Scr.
Now I'm trying to see how, as an EO insider, you'd propose I know which way is correct.

O: So you admit that EO doctrine is plenty clear enough? What is clearer, the EO position on infant baptism, or the scriptural position?

R: And of course, you didn't even try to answer the question. Par for the course.

O: What is there to answer? You already admitted that EO teaching is clear, so no need to go wandering off into naval gazing.

R: Sorry, when a bunch of people get their private interpretations together, you know what it is? A bunch of private interps that happen to agree. Whoopie.

O: Congratulations. You've just made a mockery of the lexical meaning of private.

--O: Now if the bible so clearly teaches believer baptism as you have previously claimed, wouldn't you expect to find ONE, just ONE presbyterian congregation in the whole world who comes to its senses and changes its teaching?

R: This is just a rehashed "Why do people disagree about the Scr's meaning?" argument. Lame.

O: No, it's not that at all. It's not about why people disagree, it's about why in all the world, no Presbyterian church has ever "reformed" itself to follow your position on baptism. There is zero reforming going on in protestant churches towards the scriptures. All there is, is adherence to their pre-existing tradition.

R: And they were given plenty of guidance; that doesn't mean they'll follow it correctly.

O: No they weren't. Don't talk about what you know nothing about.

R: Then he is to be commended for wavering away from an incorrect stance (infant baptism).

O: That's the whole point. There is no movement in protestantism TOWARDS any doctrine. All there is, is movement AWAY from doctrines towards chaos.

R: Correct. Why is this relevant again? He's still my brother in Christ, as opposed to a Gospel-denier and blasphemer like you.

O: Ahh yes, supposedly I'm a gospel denier by following all those Church fathers. You know, the ones that Calvin spent most of his time approvingly quoting. Funny how the Reformers felt the need to justify their beliefs from Gospel deniers. What does that make you? A follower of a follower of a gospel denier?

R: I've invited you in several ways in my last comment to present the better way, O All-Truthful Voice of Orthodoxy®. When will you bring the goods?

O: You know where the goods are. The faith ever held by the church in unity. Not a continual stream of individualism.

Lucian said...

How does the Gramatical and Historical Method extract, (or: arrive at), Paul's interpretive conclusion, using the Genesis passage on Abraham, Isaac, Ismael, Agar and Sarrah?

profonde penseuse said...

Orthodox,

you spent the whole article quoting Chrysostom and Athanasius, both of whom held to different canons that you do.

And Ath held to a diff canon than you. Ironic indeed.

but about the practical situation of what sola scriptura leads to

Well, it tries to FIX one of the perceived problems of the SS position, but in doing so it cripples itself.

we don't need to go to infinite levels of interpretation to gain unity.

And we don't need an infallible interper either.
John 17's unity is spiritual, not institutional, anyway. But besides that, your SE model doesn't lead to any more unity. Comparing denomination to denomination, institution to institution, SS comes out just fine. SoBaps vs EOC... Reformed Baptists vs EOC...OPC vs EOC...PCA vs EOC.
Once again your argument falls flat. But when I discuss the infinite regress, I'm talking about epistemology, not "unity". EOx and RCs tell me that I can't interp Scr privately. I respond with the infinite regress problem, snuffing out the option they've offered me.

we DO need to interpret the scriptures as a Church and a community

1) I wouldn't necessarily disagree.
2) How do you know that?

Everyone's always been suppressing the truth in wickedness until you.

I would never say that, of course, so you're using unjustified hyperbole. But you deny the Gospel. You are still in your sins and thus suppress the truth in wickedness. It's never too late to turn back, though, and I pray you would.

Amost every divergent teaching I can think of has been justified by someone from scripture.

Or Sacred Tradition. Big deal.

Haven't we just been told that 90% of SoBap pastors are non-Calvinist?

And the problem is... what? nobody's claiming that SoBaps are 100% unified in everythg.
So there are no EOx who have given themselves over to liberalism? To creationism or evolutionism? To charismaticism?

How rational is it to hold up a denomination as a model of unity of doctrine when you disagree with their doctrine

Give me one good reason why not. They are SS.

Now show me the source document where it (PCUSA) has stated it rejects SS.

OK. Do you see anythg about SS in there? Inerrancy? No. It's a glaring red flag, confirming in absence what they affirm in practice.

The EOC does not teach institutional unification. The EOC is not institutionally unified and has no wish to be so.

Oh, OK. So, this whole "Visible Church" argument you often use... it's no good?

So it's only a matter of time before they hold such a convention and prove your claim wrong.

I'm not following you here.

You just told me that SoBap hasn't submitted women's ordination to scripture and probably never intends to.

Um, where did I say that? Now you're just making stuff up.
Yes, SoBaps have submitted women's ordination to Scr. That's, um, why we don't, um, ordain women.

How is SoBap different to the Corban following Pharisees?

B/c we submit our trads to Scr.
A better question is: How is EOC different to the Corban following Pharisees?

Do your women wear a head covering in church as scripture commands? Or do you hold to your own traditions and ideals?

Now you're arguing like an atheist or a liberal. Wouldn't surprise me to hear that you're either, actually.
If you can't interp Scr correctly as far as 1 Cor 11 goes, why should I listen to anythg you have to say?

What is clearer, the EO position on infant baptism, or the scriptural position?

Mmm, I'd say the EO position.
Ah HA! Now I have you! You just said the Scr is not clear enough!!
No I didn't, I said the EO position is clearer. Not that it's *correct*. God breathed out the Scr as He wanted to. If He wanted to leave that question a little bit vague, He has His reasons. That does not give me an excuse to submit myself to an unbiblical infall interper who can remove all the vagueness out of everythg just so I can feel better and beat up on Protestants in comboxes.

You've just made a mockery of the lexical meaning of private.

OK.

why in all the world, no Presbyterian church has ever "reformed" itself to follow your position on baptism.

You have no idea whether that's happened, so how can you say that? And so what? This is just a variation on the old "If people disagree about the Scr, it can't be perfect!" argument.

There is zero reforming going on in protestant churches towards the scriptures.

that's just an assertion. Come to my church and you'll see some.

All there is, is movement AWAY from doctrines towards chaos.

This is silly. So variation in doctrine leads away from doctrine? Ummm, it's still doctrine.

supposedly I'm a gospel denier by following all those Church fathers.

No, you're a Gospel-denier by denying the Gospel.

The faith ever held by the church in unity.

But not an institutional unity, right? B/c that's not what you're talking about.



Lucian,

How does the Gramatical and Historical Method extract, (or: arrive at), Paul's interpretive conclusion, using the Genesis passage on Abraham, Isaac, Ismael, Agar and Sarrah?

It's a little different for an inspired writer while writing Scr. God apparently informed Paul of God's authorial intent for those psgs.


Peace,
Rhology

Rhology said...

Oops, submitted that last post under my wife's username. Well, she's far sweeter than I anyway, maybe it's for the best.

Lucian said...

Then how would You (or why do You) approve of Christ's and the Apostles' teaching, since they've based it on a seemingly different kind of interpretive manner?

Isn't our life's purpose to follow Paul [and the rest of the Apostles] even as he follows Christ? (1 Corinthians 11:1). Doesn't the Apostle exort us to follow him in his footsteps, and live and teach according to the same manner? (2 Thessalonians 3:6).

Don't You think it would be wiser to walk accordingly to the same manner of Christ and His Holy Apostles, rather than "doing it our way" ?

Rhology said...

What would Christ's and the Apostles' interpretive manner be? Are you saying they DIDN'T use the GHM?


How is the GHM "our way"? You just used it to understand what I am saying and to read how Christ and the Apostles interpret things in the Scr, and then you assumed it when you posted, believing that I would understand what you're saying.
Why didn't you, for example, make your point in allegory?

Lucian said...

I could've. But I didn't. The O.T. is interpreted allegoricaly by Paul, for instance, at least twice, in the examples clearly shown above. Then there are the interminable comparissons between Jesus and the Temple, Jesus and the Arch-Priest, Jesus and the sacrificial Pass-Over Lamb, and so on. Jesus Himself stated : "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (JOHN 5:39). Using GHM, we can't arrive at the same concluisions as Christ and the Apostles have reached, and thus we are put in the impossibility of giving our "Amen" to them. Which, of course, is unwanted. We must embrace their view of reading Scriptures if we want to remanin Christians. I think that this is pretty clear. And, of course, the literal interpretaion of the O.T. is not denied. Neither Christ, nor His Holy Apostles have ever denied it. So much, so clear.

orthodox said...

O: profonde/Rhology, why have you morphed into a 32 year old female?

R: And Ath held to a diff canon than you. Ironic indeed.

O: Not just Ath, but Chrysostom too. Not just in the OT, but the NT too. This is no problem for our ecclesiology, but we're yet to hear who told protestants what the rule of faith is.

R: John 17's unity is spiritual, not institutional, anyway

O: Good, because the EO church does not teach or have institutional unity.

R: Comparing denomination to denomination, institution to institution, SS comes out just fine.

O: That's just great if you're willing to assign your denomination to being the only true church.

R: when I discuss the infinite regress, I'm talking about epistemology, not "unity". EOx and RCs tell me that I can't interp Scr privately. I respond with the infinite regress problem, snuffing out the option they've offered me.

O: Big mistake. We don't bring up infallible interpreters as an epistemological problem, but a practical pragmatic problem. Sola-Scr never leads to unity, because scripture isn't clear enough to have unity. You've already conceded that scripture is "vague" and EO teaching is "clear".

R: O: we DO need to interpret the scriptures as a Church and a community

1) I wouldn't necessarily disagree.
2) How do you know that?

O: Then you need to have a visible church. You can't discuss these things with an invisible church. The Jerusalem council couldn't meet if it didn't know where the church was.

R: I would never say that, of course, so you're using unjustified hyperbole. But you deny the Gospel. You are still in your sins and thus suppress the truth in wickedness. It's never too late to turn back, though, and I pray you would.

O: I have no idea what truth I'm supposedly suppressing, even from your own protestant world view. If I converted to protestantism right now, I wouldn't accuse EO of suppressing the truth. From a protestant point of view, EO is just another denomination.

R: And the problem is... what? nobody's claiming that SoBaps are 100% unified in everythg.

O: You are claiming SoBaps have unity that EO "can only dream of". Yet 90% of them differ in theology from you. And they differ among themselves.

R: So there are no EOx who have given themselves over to liberalism? To creationism or evolutionism? To charismaticism?

O: It's pretty hard to find one. Contrast to you who when asked for good examples of protestant unity points to two denominations, one of which you disagree with all of them in theology, and another of which you disagree with 90% of them.

Sure, Jehovah's witnesses have great unity, but do you want to point to them as vindication of your position?

R: O: How rational is it to hold up a denomination as a model of unity of doctrine when you disagree with their doctrine

Give me one good reason why not. They are SS.

O: So you have unity in error, and this you wish to boast about? Congrats.

R: Do you see anythg about SS in there? Inerrancy? No. It's a glaring red flag, confirming in absence what they affirm in practice.

O: Looks to me like they are stating what protestants claim the bible states: That the bible is the word of God. And they fail to state what protestants claim the bible fails to state: Any other rule of faith.

You bombed on this one. What gives you the right to denounce a denomination for not using the terminology of "sola scriptura" which is itself not in scripture, when they haven't said anything different to scripture?

profonde: O: The EOC does not teach institutional unification. The EOC is not institutionally unified and has no wish to be so.

Oh, OK. So, this whole "Visible Church" argument you often use... it's no good?

O: Just because we don't have institutional unity does not mean we cannot identify which institutions make up the visible church.

R: Yes, SoBaps have submitted women's ordination to Scr. That's, um, why we don't, um, ordain women.

O: Now you're changing your claim. I said that EO won't even entertain ordaining women because it simply has never been done. You said SoBap are the same. Now you're saying this isn't the case and SoBap don't ordain women because they've embarked on some exegetical exercise. Make up your mind.

R: A better question is: How is EOC different to the Corban following Pharisees?

O: We don't follow the traditions of men that contradict the word of God.

R: O: Do your women wear a head covering in church as scripture commands? Or do you hold to your own traditions and ideals?

R: Now you're arguing like an atheist or a liberal. Wouldn't surprise me to hear that you're either, actually.
If you can't interp Scr correctly as far as 1 Cor 11 goes, why should I listen to anythg you have to say?

O: What a sad pathetic cop out. I can hear all those female ordaining protestants laughing at you from the sidelines.

BTW, Orthodox women do generally wear a head covering in church because the bible says so. But protestants on the other hand have nullified the word of God with their traditions. And they do many things like that.

R: What is clearer, the EO position on infant baptism, or the scriptural position?

Mmm, I'd say the EO position.
Ah HA! Now I have you! You just said the Scr is not clear enough!!
No I didn't, I said the EO position is clearer. Not that it's *correct*. God breathed out the Scr as He wanted to. If He wanted to leave that question a little bit vague, He has His reasons. That does not give me an excuse to submit myself to an unbiblical infall interper who can remove all the vagueness out of everythg just so I can feel better and beat up on Protestants in comboxes.

O: You are right in stating that a clearer position does not make it a right position. You are also right in stating that being clearer is not sufficient reason to follow something.

*** HOWEVER *** isn't it about time you gave up on the whole silly infallible interpreter of an infallible interpreter nonsense? The fact is, as you've already admitted, the EO Church stands in an epistemologically superior position to sola scriptura because its teachings are much clearer.

Sure, you can keep saying that we are still wrong, but you should admit that we have unity because our teachings are clear. Protestantism does not have unity because its rule of faith is insufficiently clear to have unity.

Having admitted that scripture is.. in your own words... "vague" on an issue that is a major divider in protestantism, you admit that sola scriptura, by its very nature, is not a theory that can fulfill Christ's and Paul's command for unity. This ought to give you great pause for thought.

R: O: why in all the world, no Presbyterian church has ever "reformed" itself to follow your position on baptism.

R: You have no idea whether that's happened, so how can you say that?

O: Wouldn't it be a matter of some news if a church in the presbytery meetings of a presbyterian denomination proclaimed that they don't follow infant baptism any more? I think if that happened it would be a matter of common knowledge among Presbyterians.

R: There is zero reforming going on in protestant churches towards the scriptures.

that's just an assertion. Come to my church and you'll see some.

O: What? Tell me something your church believes now that it reformed from a contrary position before.

R: This is silly. So variation in doctrine leads away from doctrine? Ummm, it's still doctrine.

O: Having no apparent position on something is not doctrine.

R: O: supposedly I'm a gospel denier by following all those Church fathers.

R: No, you're a Gospel-denier by denying the Gospel

O: If following the early church's interpretation means denying the gospel, then the early church didn't have the gospel. Which means you are following the canon formulated by a gospel denying cult.

R: But not an institutional unity, right? B/c that's not what you're talking about.

O: Right, not an institutional unity.

R: It's a little different for an inspired writer while writing Scr. God apparently informed Paul of God's authorial intent for those psgs.

O: 1Cor. 11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Rhology said...

Lucian,

The O.T. is interpreted allegoricaly by Paul, for instance, at least twice, in the examples clearly shown above.

The GHM is not opposed to allegorical interping, if that is the author's intention. Some psgs have both typical and antitypical meanings.
One should, BTW, have great care in following Lucian's thoughts about the relationship between OT and NT. He is on record saying that, if we took the Scr literally, we should all be Jews still.

Then there are the interminable comparissons between Jesus and the Temple, Jesus and the Arch-Priest, Jesus and the sacrificial Pass-Over Lamb

Yes, which were intended by the author.

Using GHM, we can't arrive at the same concluisions as Christ and the Apostles have reached,

1) Yes we can.
2) You've so far used nothing but the GHM to analyse and respond to my comment.
3) Why didn't you interp my comment allegorically? Why didn't you respond allegorically? I'll answer for you - b/c expressing a thought thru allegorical means is not the vehicle suited to communicate what you want to communicate. Nor for me. But in other cases it could be and the GHM can determine that.
4) You even assume the GHM in responding to me.


Orthodox,

Not just Ath, but Chrysostom too. Not just in the OT, but the NT too. This is no problem for our ecclesiology

Haha, just b/c you magick away the confusion over the Canon, relegating such questions to "The modern church says it's OK, so it's OK" doesn't mean it really is the case.

because the EO church does not teach or have institutional unity.

Noted and filed away for future reference. It's good to know.

That's just great if you're willing to assign your denomination to being the only true church.

1) Why would my denom have to be the only true church?
2) You don't think your church is the only true church either. There are 5 separate institutions in EOC. Not to mention Copts, non-Chalcedonians, etc.

We don't bring up infallible interpreters as an epistemological problem, but a practical pragmatic problem.

All the worse for you, then. It remains a problem for you to solve.

Sola-Scr never leads to unity

Naked assertion. It leads to spiritual unity in the truth, b/c the Gospel is believed among its adherents. And it's the rule of faith mandated by Christ and the Apostles, so one would imagine they had a reason for it.

You've already conceded that scripture is "vague" and EO teaching is "clear".

One one issue, and I don't see why that matters.
If the Scr teaches vaguely on sthg, it is sheer folly to think that we humans have a mandate to clarify dogmatically. That's adding tradition where it is uncalled-for. No problem if you want to do it, but to hold to it dogmatically, excluding others from the love of the brethren on acct of it, is just wrong.
Again, it's not my fault that Christ and the NT teaches SS. It's just the way it is; if they thought it is the rule of faith, then it is. Whatever unity comes out of it is gravy; it's not the primary goal. One of your mistakes is to pursue unity (which you don't have, in large part) at the expense of truth. That's idolatry.

Then you need to have a visible church.

I have one. The biblical example of the visible church is the local church.

The Jerusalem council couldn't meet if it didn't know where the church was.

No one's claiming there IS NO visible church. But it's local. Nothing more, nothing less.

If I converted to protestantism right now, I wouldn't accuse EO of suppressing the truth.

Well, you're not a very unbiased judge of that. ;-)
I'm just using biblical criteria - you deny the Gospel per Gal 1:8. By definition, you are not saved, you don't have the Holy Spirit, you are a child of the devil. Please repent.

From a protestant point of view, EO is just another denomination.

All of a sudden, Protestantism is united! Wow, how'd you do that?!??!!?
Among SS-ists, EO is another church. Many SS-ists would count you at least heterodox (as I do).

Yet 90% of them differ in theology from you.

Don't assume stuff about me, please, and I'll do my best not to return the favor.
I've never said I'm a 5-pt Calvinist (b/c I'm not).

It's pretty hard to find one.

But it exists.
And let's not forget the Old Calendar vs New Calendar and chrismate converts from Protestantism vs baptise converts from Prot-ism factions in EOC.
That's what irks me. If you want to claim unity, fine, have unity. It's not a true religion, but at least do what you claim! But at this pt, you can't back up even this claim.

Jehovah's witnesses have great unity, but do you want to point to them as vindication of your position?

Which is a great point against your position.

Just because we don't have institutional unity does not mean we cannot identify which institutions make up the visible church.

Then make that your claim and stop ripping Prots for lack of unity.

SoBap don't ordain women because they've embarked on some exegetical exercise

That's why we don't ordain women. Unlike you, I'm not going to revise history just to defeat a blogger's argument.

We don't follow the traditions of men that contradict the word of God.

By not holding to SS, you already do. And that's just the beginning.

the EO Church stands in an epistemologically superior position to sola scriptura because its teachings are much clearer.

You'd have a superior position if you weren't totally wrong. And just b/c the Scr is vague on sthg doesn't mean we have the right to make up our own dogmas on it. It's vague for a reason.

you admit that sola scriptura, by its very nature, is not a theory that can fulfill Christ's and Paul's command for unity.

Yes, clearly Paul and Christ had no idea what they were doing when they insituted SS as the rule of faith.

Tell me something your church believes now that it reformed from a contrary position before.

1) I have no idea how this is relevant.
2) From moderate liberalism to inerrancy.
3) From the single-pastor model of ch gov't to a plurality of elders.

then the early church didn't have the gospel.

I can't speak for them, but I know that the Gospel is explicitly presented to you and you explicitly deny it.

Peace,
Rhology

Lucian said...

The GHM is not opposed to allegorical interping, if that is the author's intention. Some psgs have both typical and antitypical meanings.

So, You're basically saying that the conscious intention of the authors of the O.T. was actually transmitting to us the "coded messages" about Christ, of the typological sort? [I don't exactly understand what You're saying here]. And that by applying GHM to the respective O.T. passages we can, or might, actually arrive at the N.T.'s conclusions ? Wow!

if we took the Scr literally, we should all be Jews still.

Yes, that's true, I still hold the same opinion.

Yes, which were intended by the author.

Which one? The one of the O.T.? Or?

Yes we can.

I have no other way out of this, but to actually ask of You to take some time here for me, take an O.T. passage, and actually exemplify on it for me how, using the GHM, how this works. At this point, You've manged to greatly stirr up my curiosity.

expressing a thought thru allegorical means is not the vehicle suited to communicate what you want to communicate.

How would You then explain St. Paul's behaviour towards the Galatians? It seems/seemed to me that he was at least stating God used this mode of expressing Himself, and I am/was of the impression that he has also interpreted it the same way (the way God seemingly wanted it to be interpreted). -- I'm also eagerly awaiting a clarification at this point. I was/am very surprised.

Rhology said...

"Coded"

Yes, that was part of it. Not all, but part. Thus the discussion in Hebrews of the types and shadows of the OT Law that are fulfilled in Christ (though we've long since established that Hebrews is not your strong suit).
1 Peter 1:10-13 is worthy of note:
"As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
11seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
12It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven--things into which angels long to look."

And Heb 11:13 - 13These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar

Which one? The one of the O.T.? Or?

The author of the book in question.

take an O.T. passage, and actually exemplify on it for me how, using the GHM, how this works.

I already described to you, in the post, how it works. Seek authorial intent.
The biggest challenge you personally will have to surmount is examining a psg and not applying what the modern EOC tells you to apply to it; to actually find out what the text says. There are numerous psgs in the Bible that will prove detrimental to your EOxy if you were to do this.
Proceed at risk of the status quo but with the promise that a great salvation awaits you, if you'll be honest enough to do this.
If you want, I'd be happy to go thru a study of Mark 7:1-13 using the GHM with you.

It seems/seemed to me that he was at least stating God used this mode of expressing Himself

Yes, which we determine thru the GHM.
And it wasn't only allegory. But it's a type/antitype relationship. The GHM does not exclude allegory; it allows metaphors and things that are intended by the author. One does not take "I am the door" from Jesus and believe that He is made of wood, etc.

Peace,
Rhology

Lucian said...

I'm having a really hard time to extract OT/NT, Law/Grace, Old Israel/New Israel from the OT passage about Abraham, Agar, Sarrah, Isaac and Ismael. If I would've understood how this applies, or how to apply this, I would've done it already.

If Your time is limited and You don't have the will, time, resources, or patience to do this, it's fine; I won't hold it against You, or something ... (If You want to [re]direct me towards some online resources about how to do this, then that's A.O.K.).

Was Moses himself aware of this interpretation when he wrote the Crown of the OT? How would we know this? (without us using NT-pasages ... because it's precisely the validity of the NT itself that we have to arrive at, by using only OT passages/quotes, via the GHM interpretation).

Or the passage about not tieing a bull's mouth while ploughing with him as applied to our social relations with regard to other people, and maybe also with ourselves.

And Mark isn't in the OT.

Rhology said...

Well, I wasn't claiming that that psg contained all that stuff in there.
It DOES deal with Old Covenant/New Covenant, so there is that. But remember the GHM takes context on many levels into acct.

Moses apparently was aware of the Messianic implications to a point (see the Heb and 1 Peter psgs I cited) but not necessarily with a great deal of clarity. "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you..."
We wouldn't necessarily know how much he was aware of it unless some biblical book expressed it, and I am unaware of a place where it's spelled out.
And I reject the idea that we come to know the validity of the NT itself solely thru examining the OT, so that might be an obstacle in our understanding.

Yeah, I know Mark's not in the OT. I was offering to work thru a very good psg using the GHM.

Lucian said...

So, You definitelly say that GHM sees NT/OT in that certain OT passage. That's cool. I'm also releaved to hear Your more nuanced statements about the OT Prophets' own understanding of their own prophetical words. (Paul uses words like "shadow" and "type"; Peter says "from afar", etc.). -- We don't speculate on this matter either, so ... We see for instance Daniel not understanding the revelation he's been given, and then an Angel (Gabriel) is sent to decipher it a bit for him ... but even the angelic explanation is pretty 'general', not revealing TOO many details.

And I reject the idea that we come to know the validity of the NT itself solely thru examining the OT

Well, Paul himself apparently sees no problem there: in the episode with Paul, Silas and Timothy preaching in the Jewish synagogues of Tesalonic and Bereea (described in Acts 17), we see the later described as "more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so". (Acts 17:11). -- The Scriptures here are clearly the OT Writings ALONE (it is those that the previously-unChristian Jews of both communities held in their Synagogues: obviously NOT including Paul's [then unwritten] Epistles).

What I wanted to say was: everybody uses "input-data" and "algorithm" to arrive at a "result". In the case of "1 + 1 = 2", the "input" is "1" and 1", whereas the algorithm is "+" (the additive mark). In our case, the "input" seems to be the OT: "Search the Scriptures and see, for they all testify of me", says Jesus. BUT what would the [Apostolic] "algortihm" be? -- That was my initial question. And it seems that GHM and A.A. are at least partly in agreement (though probably not fully).

orthodox said...

R: Haha, just b/c you magick away the confusion over the Canon, relegating such questions to "The modern church says it's OK, so it's OK" doesn't mean it really is the case.

O: Well, we've got a doctrine that "magics them away". If you don't have a doctrine to magic them away, then you've still got the problem unsolved, because you can't tell us who told you the canon, thus for you it remains an open area of debate.

R: 1) Why would my denom have to be the only true church?

O: Because you know full well that Christ's command is for unity in the church. So if you're going to point to wonderful unity in a particular denomination, then it had better be THE church, otherwise, so what? You've successfully got unity in a tiny tiny minority of the church by holding to SS? Congrats.

R: 2) You don't think your church is the only true church either. There are 5 separate institutions in EOC.

O: There are a lot more than 5, and all of them together are the true church, not institutions.

R: Not to mention Copts, non-Chalcedonians, etc.

O: They are not in the EOC.

R: O: Sola-Scr never leads to unity

R: Naked assertion. It leads to spiritual unity in the truth, b/c the Gospel is believed among its adherents.

O: Spiritual unity among folks who have doctrinal objections to each others churches? You make the idea of unity meaningless. Why would Christ pray that his followers would be one when apparently they are one by definition? That was a wasted prayer.

R: And it's the rule of faith mandated by Christ and the Apostles, so one would imagine they had a reason for it.

O: Christ didn't practice sola scripture. He taught things not in scripture.

The apostles didn't practice sola scriptura. They taught things not in scripture.

The apostles didn't teach sola scriptura. How could they when they were preaching a message not yet inscripturated?

For your thesis to be true they would have had to say something like "Hey folks, I know we never practiced sola scriptura, but when we and our friends die and finish writing all our teachings down, and the church figures out which books are the definitive collections, the churches are going to have to stop doing what we did and switch over to sola scriptura".

Of course, they never said that, and surprise surprise, the church never did that, because the apostles never taught it. Never in 1500 years did anybody suggest that the church should have made such a cut over.

R: O: You've already conceded that scripture is "vague" and EO teaching is "clear".

R: One one issue, and I don't see why that matters.

O: If it didn't matter we wouldn't have reformed baptists and presbyterians whose main reason (or one of maybe a couple of reasons) for separated existence is this issue.

R: If the Scr teaches vaguely on sthg, it is sheer folly to think that we humans have a mandate to clarify dogmatically.

O: HYPOCRISY!!! Then why do we have the 1689 baptist confession of faith making it an official teaching? Why do we have baptist churches who refuse to baptize children and presbyterian churches who insist on it? You are the ones making it dogmatic!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

R: Again, it's not my fault that Christ and the NT teaches SS.

O: Apart from the basic fact that Christ and the apostles neither practiced nor taught SS. Paul said to hold to the oral traditions. Even if you interpret that in its narrowest possible sense, even if you think it was exactly the same as what was written, it is still not teaching scripture as the only binding rule of faith. And the smoking gun is missing: the apostolic teaching that the churches were at some particular time to stop holding to the oral traditions.

Your best and only argument is the Mark 7 episode, and yet Christ doesn't make a single commandment here. Your best and only hope is that the "commandment of God" referred to in the passage is purely restricted to written commands. But this is begging the question, this is the very issue at dispute. Christ never distinguishes a written tradition from an oral tradition here. Rather he distinguishes divine tradition from traditions of men. You then assume, based on nothing in the scripture, that divine=written and non-divine=non-written. Christ never teaches that and Paul teaches the opposite.

R: Whatever unity comes out of it is gravy

O: Unity in Christ's body is not "gravy". If only I could empart to you the joy of being in unity!

Unity in Christ's body is as important as unity in the Trinity. Christ wants us to be one as he and the Father are one. The New Testament doesn't teach is as an optional extra, good if you have it, who cares if you don't.

R: One of your mistakes is to pursue unity (which you don't have, in large part) at the expense of truth. That's idolatry.

O: Firstly that's hypocritical, because you belong to a religion that follows particular books because you believe God has led people into a truth that they are divine.

Secondly that's hypocritical, because I'd bet my bottom dollar there is some doctrine you disagree with your own congregation about, so therefore by joining that congregation you have put unity and fellowship above truth.

Thirdly, Orthodoxy never puts unity above truth. If we did then we'd happily have unity with Rome or protestants.

R: No one's claiming there IS NO visible church. But it's local. Nothing more, nothing less.

O: There is more to the church than the local church. Even as early as AD 100 the concept already has a name: the catholic church. Do I really have to show this from the bible it is so obvious? Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Not the churches, the Church. And when the Jerusalem council met with elders from all the cities, they had to know where they all were.

R: I'm just using biblical criteria - you deny the Gospel per Gal 1:8. By definition, you are not saved, you don't have the Holy Spirit, you are a child of the devil. Please repent.

O: [Sigh] There's nothing significant about your interpretation of Galatians that you would have to give up if you became Orthodox. You seem to be laboring under some misconception that Orthodox are some group of people trying to get to heaven by following some list of laws. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you think that's what we're doing I'd like to hear the evidence. I'd like to also know when you think the early church started teaching that.

R: Don't assume stuff about me, please, and I'll do my best not to return the favor.
I've never said I'm a 5-pt Calvinist (b/c I'm not).

O: I see. Please tell me more.

R: And let's not forget the Old Calendar vs New Calendar and chrismate converts from Protestantism vs baptise converts from Prot-ism factions in EOC.

O: Firstly, chrismate vs baptise is not a faction, it is up to the decision of the priest. And the priest usually bases the decision on the orthodoxy of the baptism and trinitarian belief of those carrying out the prior baptism, which is a judgment call. (Whatever you bind on earth etc). Orthodoxy is moving more towards baptism, not because Orthodoxy is changing, but because the world around it is become more heterodox.

Re calendar, some EO use the old calendar, some use the new calendar. Nobody in EO is refusing to commune because of the calendar issue. If they did they wouldn't be EO any more. This is different to Presbyterians/Baptists whose reason for being different groups is because of the baptism doctrine, and the members thereof frequently wouldn't consider belonging to the other group because of an objection of doctrine. Whereas in EO, calendar is a preference of the individual church.

R: Jehovah's witnesses have great unity, but do you want to point to them as vindication of your position?

Which is a great point against your position.

O: How so? I'm not the one holding up a denomination I don't agree with doctrinally as a model of unity.

R: That's why we don't ordain women.

O: So you are SoBap? An Arminian-ish SoBap?

Now, SoBap are congregational polity, correct? So who you ordain ought to be a decision of the congregation by majority vote. And since you recommend each individual to do their own exegesis, to be consistent, you would have to consider any women applicants and have them excluded by congregational vote. Because if you just exclude them a-priori before voting based on individual exegesis, you are just following the traditions of men, no better than those Pharisees.

Of course you don't do that I'm sure.

R: By not holding to SS, you already do. And that's just the beginning.

O: Ahh yes, we are supposed to hold to this "sola scriptura" teaching that was never mentioned until the 16th century.

R: O: the EO Church stands in an epistemologically superior position to sola scriptura because its teachings are much clearer.

R: You'd have a superior position if you weren't totally wrong.

O: I give you credit for making this concession.

R: And just b/c the Scr is vague on sthg doesn't mean we have the right to make up our own dogmas on it. It's vague for a reason.

O: Again I point out, protestant denominations don't generally make baptism a dogma for individual decision, so this is hypocrisy.

R: Yes, clearly Paul and Christ had no idea what they were doing when they insituted SS as the rule of faith.

O: When SoBap start baptising babies on the request of parents, then you'll have an argument. But since they don't, you're looking silly. You admit the scriptural teaching is unclear, you belong to a denomination which makes it dogmatic, so you stand in a hypocritical position.

R: O: Tell me something your church believes now that it reformed from a contrary position before.

R: 1) I have no idea how this is relevant.

O: Of course it's relevant. If protestants really use SS as the rule of faith, then we should see a bunch of reforming going on. If we don't, then we know it is all talk, and they are just following a different set of traditions. The reformers themselves recognized this.

R: 2) From moderate liberalism to inerrancy.

O: So from errancy to inerrancy? Obviously the SS doctrine didn't help you do this, since errantists don't follow SS.

R: 3) From the single-pastor model of ch gov't to a plurality of elders.

O: ROFLOL. I could swear it was you lecturing me a while back that the bible doesn't dogmatically teach a particular position on church government, viz a viz having a single church leader. And you've only just finished lecturing me that the church shouldn't make dogmatic things that are unclear. So where is the big whoop in changing your practices from one unclear option to another, neither of which is dogmatic?

And what got reformed anyway, just your congretation, or the whole denomination? If just your congregation, where is the big boast in setting up just one more area of disagreement in your denomination?

And since Daniel Akin in Five views on church government gives a spirited biblical defence of single pastor churches, all you've done is shown that your church has shifting opinions, not that any actual biblical reforming is going on.

Still, if your church has actually changed something, I give them credit for being in a tiny tiny tiny minority of protestantism.

Lucian said...

"The modern church says it's OK, so it's OK" doesn't mean it really is the case.

The O.T. Canon varies between certain limits in the past of the Church. So does the N.T. Canon.

The intersection of ALL the lists does NOT add up to the Protestant Canon (as they would like to suggest): it would exclude Esther. FURTHERMORE, it NEVER EXcludes Ezra III, the additions to Esther and Job, as well as Baruch, the Epistle of Jeremy, and the three chapters in Daniel. And MOST IMPORTANTLY: its text follows the LXX, NOT the M.T. !

When confronted with the Jews in polemics, the Holy Fathers, far from shying away from the Anaginoskomena, cited them straight in the Jews' face. When they've began to complain that those books were NOT part of their Canon of Scriptures, the Fathers replied to them shamelessly: "`course they're not! ... `cause You've ripped them off!". -- Does this honestly add up to the behaviour of someone who has trouble with them as EVEN being part of the Christian Scriptures !?

Lucian said...

I've also heard Protestants repeatedly assess: "They're not used in order to create dogma, or Church teaching ... rather they're just used for extracting moral teachings ... `cause they're >good to read<, but not Canonical".

This doesn't explain then why Baruch 3:36-38 (or 3:35-37 using other versifications) is used for defending the Incarnation (even in St. Sylvester's speech vs. the Jews!), and likewise Wisdom 2:12-20 as a Prophecy for the Passion (the same; as well as Justin Martyr vs. Trypho -- to name but a couple).

Mike Burgess said...

Say, on a side note, did you guys see Doug Wilson's post on the Johannine comma on his "Blog and Mablog" website? It's a doozy: http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=4545

A still-open canon in the Protestant world? Where "the Church" gets to decide the question??

By the way, rhology, would you please tell me how the GHM avoids either A)circularity if the intent is "determined" solely by appeal to and comparison with other writings by the same author, or B) a failure of sola scriptura if the intent of inspired author(s) is "determined" by appeals to or comparison with uninspired contemporaneous writings?

Thanks.

Rhology said...

Some interesting comments here, some not.
But I've already been incommunicado this wknd and will be all this week. I'll try to get back to this later on. Sorry to drop out.

Peace,
Rhology