Monday, March 15, 2010

Irony in Patristics

I haven't read a ton of patristic writing, I freely admit.  About 200+ pages starting from page 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, and taking notes the whole way, so far.
But I can apply logical argumentation to common Eastern Orthodox argumentation in regard to the way they view patristic support for their position, and thus perform an internal critique of Eastern Orthodoxy.  Now, given that the Scriptures are the way they indeed are, it makes very little difference to me whether the entirety of those who identify themselves as "The Church®" over the course of history stand in opposition to what the Scripture teaches - "Let God be true and every man a liar." 

But of course, anyone who's familiar with patristic writings to a more than surface-level extent will know that the early church situation is not nearly that simple.  The questions of who was in schism from whom, who agreed with whom, who contradicted whom, who contradicted himself, who properly represented the actual position of most of the people in the church at his time, etc, are fundamental questions, and far too often our EO and RC friends simply assume that they are unimportant, assume that their church is The One True Church® and thus the default position, and any dissenter from such necessarily has all the burden of proof to defend his dissent. 
Let's take a look, for a case study, at DavidW's blog in which he likens Calvinism to Gnosticism.  I dropped by and dropped an Irenaeus quote from Jason Engwer:
"They style themselves Gnostics. They also possess images, some of them painted, and others formed from different kinds of material; while they maintain that a likeness of Christ was made by Pilate at that time when Jesus lived among them. They crown these images, and set them up along with the images of the philosophers of the world that is to say, with the images of Pythagoras, and Plato, and Aristotle, and the rest. They have also other modes of honouring these images, after the same manner of the Gentiles." (Against Heresies, 1:25:6) It seems likely that Irenaeus was part of the ante-Nicene consensus against the veneration of images. (source)
DavidW has responded, I replied, and DavidW once more.  I encourage you to read what he said, and here I relate my own rebuttal.

approach Orthodoxy on its own terms, free of such confutation.

Do you venerate images?  Bow down to them? 
What substantial differences can you name between EO practice and RC practice, besides that they use statues and you don't?



the book explores the supposedly iconoclastic references that Protestants cherry-pick from the Church Fathers

The existence of which is evidence in support of my position.  I don't think the early church writers had a consistent consensual position, remember?  I judge ALL THINGS by Scripture.



it's a case of looking at the Fathers on their own terms and in their fulness, as you are unwilling to do.

Hahaha, that makes me laugh, that you who ignore early church writers who dissent want to "look at the Fathers on their own terms".  Whatever, man.



3. How do they know Epiphanius' letter is a forgery?
Answers.
The very existence of ppl who'd like to forge such a letter shows that there did exist such an iconoclastic strain of tradition.  Which, again, is my position.



The iconoclasts of the 8th century picked up their iconoclasm from the Muslims.
Even Muslims get stuff right, you know.  I sorta picked mine up from the OT Jews.


You ASSERT that Tertullian doesn't represent early opinion. Prove it.
Professor Jeffrey Macdonald, a professor of early Christian history

OK, I listened to it, thank you. 
Macdonald:  "He's not technically a Church Father" - begging the very question at hand.  Who decided that?  Why isn't whoever decided that himself in schism, himself unreliable with respect to what is authoritative and normative in church history?
"He wrote a lot" - yup.  And yet you judge him wrong on many counts.  How is that any diff than what I do with what you claim about CFs that you DO agree with?  Why do you get to disagree with an early church writer and I don't?
"He did not remain in the Orthodox Church" - so he schismed?  So he was Protestant before there were Protestants? 
"Gnostics wanted Christians to live under extra rules" - that's very interesting. You mean like necessitating works like baptism on top of faith for salvation from sin?
"most of the CFs tried to work thru Greek philosophy, that meant to Tatian's crew that they were apostatising" - doesn't sound like there's a ton of unity and agreement in the early church, now was there?  There sure seems to be a big diff in the way you EOx talk to Protestants and the way you talk to each other.  Kinda like how Yasser Arafat would say "Peace, peace" in English to the Western goober politicians, then go say "War, war" in Arabic to his own ppl (though obviously less violently).
"Tertullian is not reflecting the reality of early Christianity, he's reflecting a particular position" - What a dumb thing to say!  Of COURSE he was reflecting a particular position.  EVERY writer "reflects a particular position".  Sheesh.

Now, around minute 48-49, Macdonald has a very interesting extended quotation:

"The church has a tradition that the married women did this, and the girls, I guess, they didn't wear veils.  So he makes the statement:  'Whatever favors the opposition to truth is heresy, even if it's ancient custom'.  And he says that in a number of places where he's contrasting the tradition of the church, he rejects the tradition of the church, in favor of the prophecies of the women.  And it stuck in my mind b/c Cyprian, who comes after him in Carthage, makes almost the same statements; for Cyprian, to him he's not a Montanist, but he always refers, Tertullian for him is the only church father b/c he wrote in Latin, and he refers to Tertullian as 'a master', but he makes that statement in regard to the rebaptism, b/c the church was not rebaptising people from heretical groups but was receiving them by chrismation and Cyprian says 'well, ancient custom is just ancient error', you know, so it's this ultimately, the church disagreed with Cyprian on that and have the canons and everything, but this attitude of rejection of the church tradition.  And we will say that OK, not everything that every early Christian ever did is necessarily Gospel, but the consensus of the church and the tradition of the church's practice is part of what Irenaeus is referring to, when he says 'What's to separate us from the Gnostics, who make up their errors?  Each Gnostic is just making stuff up.  That our teachings go back and are continuous back to Christ' and that's what distinguishes the church from a heretical group.  For Tertullian and later Cyprian, they both say 'no, that the church's practice is no indication of what is true,' particularly Tertullian.  And of course, he's coming at it from the idea that these Montanist teachers were in fact revelations of the Holy Spirit."

There is a lot to catch there, but notice how Macdonald says Saint Cyprian treated Tertullian, a guy who was headed to heresy according to the EOC.
Notice how Macdonald even characterises Cyprian's view that Tertullian was the only church father.
Notice how these two early witnesses seem to be treating "church tradition" just like I do - easily prone to error, and in the case of the doctrine under dispute, just a mistaken tradition that got accepted by enough people, handed down enough, and eventually crystallised into unshakable "Sacred Tradition".  And yet these two men disparage it as merely "ancient error".  So what is the EO antidote to this problem?  More appeals to more so-called Sacred Tradition?  As if that's not the very problem at hand?  Why not appeal to what God has said?  Oh no, they've got more important things!  Like preserving their Sola Ecclesia presuppositions, their pet authority. 


Questioner - "It's not like he did a flipflop." 
"That's not surprising.  Alot of his writings, when he's writing against the church he's also contradicting his own early writings, when he was in the church...Tertullian sort of took exception with the decision of the Roman church and ultimately decided, even in his pre-Montanist writings, you start seeing, not the earliest ones, but the period about 204 on, he starts adopting Montanist ideas and then 207 he leaves..."
So...Tertullian takes exception to what a bishop (the one in Rome) defined.  And yet 1800 years later, the Reformed are roundly criticised for following his example.  (Macdonald clarifies that this dissent by Tertullian took place in 197, BTW.)
And I have said in the past that a strong case can be made that church fathers contradict themselves in their own writings over the course of time.  Of course, I catch flak for that kind of statement from RCs and EOdox, but I bet Macdonald won't catch any.  Oh no, b/c he's one of the boys. 

DavidW continues:
Historians don't have polling data; we work with what we have

And then you assume that's what the early church believed.  So you DON'T have any polling data, yet you take ~50 writers who wrote variegated things on a wide variety of topics with some disagreement between them and frequent disagreement between writings from any one of them over the course of his life, and from THAT you decide what the early church believed?  No, you decide after the fact. That's always been my point.  You, the modern EOC, decide which views out of the sparse info that you have from the past you're going to follow.  Sola Ecclesia.
Pardon me, but I don't want to follow such circular self-referential reasoning, such begging of the very question at hand.  I follow what God has most surely said - the Scripture. 


Okay: I say that aliens came to earth, enslaved all people, and set up a kingdom that was only finally overthrown in the 6th century by St. Justinian the Emperor. It's okay, though, lack of documentary evidence doesn't mean it's not true
You're exactly right - that doesn't mean it's not true.  ANYthing could conceivably be true; that's the problem of induction at work (since you mentioned logic).  You have faith on the modern EOC's interp of archaeology and historical data, despite when we show you that your view of history is flawed. You are a humanist at the core.  I have faith in God's Holy Word. 


Right -- he was a heretic. He did become a Montanist, you know?

Yes, I know that, and you're begging the question to claim that joining a Montanist sect means that he was necessarily wrong or out of step with the church.  Prove that most ppl weren't in fact part of the Montanists.  Polling data. 


Irenaeus is not talking about my position because my position is the same as Irenaeus' and I sincerely doubt that Irenaeus is calling his own position Gnostic.
Wow.  That was a naked assertion of epic proportion.  How about you actually deal with what he said?

30 comments:

dtking said...

That's an rather interesting claim about Epiphanius' letter against images being a forgery. I suppose that there are a number of passages in Epiphanius' Panarion that must be forgeries as well. Here is one passages where he connects the use of images with (yes, you guessed it) the Gnostics...

Epiphanius of Salamis (310/320-403) speaking against the Gnostics: They possess paintings—some, moreover, have images of gold, silver and other materials—and say that such things are portraits in relief of Jesus, and made by Pontius Pilate! That is, the reliefs are portraits of the actual Jesus during his sojourn among men! They possess images like these in secret, and of certain philosophers besides—Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and the rest—and also place other reliefs of Jesus with these philosophers. And having erected them, they worship them and celebrate heathen mysteries. For once they have set these images up, they then follow the customs of the heathen; yet what are customs of the heathen but sacrifices and the rest? Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (Sects 1-46) 27. Against Carpocratians, 6,9-11 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 105.

dtking said...

Of course, the above quote is a section from the Panarion where Epiphanius was quoting Irenaeus.

Darlene said...

Rhology,

Do ya ever just kick back, have a glass of chablis (or your fav. wine), and RELAX? You seem a bit on edge lately.

Sometimes I have to just walk away from it all (the stress, the injustices, the devil around every corner) and decompress. Otherwise, I'll go MAD.

What I'm really sayin' is....
LIGHTEN UP. :) The mess will be around to welcome you back after a brief hiatus.

Glass of champagne, anyone? :)

John said...

dtking: see http://www.amazon.com/Epiphanius-Salamis-Doctor-Iconoclasm-Deconstruction/dp/1933275286/

Rhology: "So you DON'T have any polling data, yet you take ~50 writers who wrote variegated things on a wide variety of topics with some disagreement between them and frequent disagreement between writings from any one of them over the course of his life, and from THAT you decide what the early church believed? No, you decide after the fact. "

It's amazing to me how often Rhology resorts to shooting his own legs off.

How often have we asked Protestants to justify the canon, and they'll appeal to some vague reference here, or some vague reference there, rarely approaching 1 or 2 writers to prove any one fact, let alone ~50 writers. How much weight have we seen forced upon Josephus, and how many appeals have we seen to Jerome, since he is the only one in first half millenium to (at least sometimes) seem to support the Protestant canon?

"You, the modern EOC, decide which views out of the sparse info that you have from the past you're going to follow."

Chrysostom isn't a church father because "modern EOC" decided he was. He is a church father now because he was one in 1500AD. And he was in 1500AD because he was in 1000AD. And he was in 1000AD because he was in 500AD. And he was in 500AD because he was highly respected everywhere in the Church at the time. I mean, he was the bishop of the capital city, not just some random guy that "modern EOC" decided to elevate.

"Prove that most ppl weren't in fact part of the Montanists."

The issue was never about whether there were more or less Montanists. The issue was whether a group founded by Montanus is the inheritor of the apostolic tradition, or whether the catholic church was. If you say we can't know, or you don't care, then maybe the Gnostic gospels are the right ones, or maybe the Marcion canon is the right one.

"You have faith on the modern EOC's interp of archaeology and historical data"

Except that there is nothing "modern" about it, it is rather ancient.

"despite when we show you that your view of history is flawed."

How many times have we heard that from the athiests, or evolutionists, that Christian belief must be sacrificed on the altar of a new idea. Except here it is not science versus the bible, it is the view of history of those who lived pretty close to it, versus some new idea that Rhology has got into his head. You are a humanist at the core.

"The very existence of ppl who'd like to forge such a letter shows that there did exist such an iconoclastic strain of tradition. "

Iconoclastic people is not the same as an iconoclastic tradition. Come now.

"I sorta picked mine up from the OT Jews."

The same OT Jews who had icons in their temple, according to the bible? Odd.

"Notice how these two early witnesses seem to be treating "church tradition" just like I do - easily prone to error"

You're conflating the traditions of individual congregations with the tradition of the universal church.

Gojira said...

Excellent post

Jnorm888 said...

Rhology,

You are lacking discernment when it comes to this issue. You really don't understand our view when it comes to this.

The word "homoousios" was used by gnostics too. But guess what? It was also used by Origen, and the Latin equivalent was used by Tertullian.

And so, the word was used by both christians and gnostics. After much debate Saint Athanasius showed that the word can be used in a scriptural manner, and it took him decades to win over the moderate Arians. And so, eventually Nicea was embraced as an ecumenical council.

In a similar fashion, paintings were used by both some gnostics and some christians. You will find individual christians taking a stand on the issue on both sides. It took 6 to 8 centuries for the Church to finally decide on the issue by connecting it with the issue of the Incarnation itself.

And so, just like homoousios can be seen in a scriptural fashion. Icons can be seen in a scriptural fashion as well.

The Church decided on the issue and that's that. Case closed.

If you reject Icons, it's because you reject the Incarnation. A good number of Calvinistic protestants are Nestorian in their Christology, and so you have a faulty Christology.

And so, Icons, protect a proper Christology......just like calling our Blessed Mother Theotokos protects a proper Christology.







ICXC NIKA

Jnorm888 said...

Rhology,

Also, I would like to add that only certain Icons are blessed. The Orthodox don't bless every Icon. If you made an Icon, I wouldn't venerate it. And so, it doesn't matter if some gnostics made icons. We don't accept every painting as an Icon.

And yes, earlychristians also had icons/paintings as well.







ICXC NIKA

Lvka said...

I'm glad to see you reading the Fathers. :-) Every road, no matter how long, begggins with a single step, no matter how small. Keep up the good work, read slowly and patiently, without reading too much into the text and jumping to premature conclusions: Just keep it steady, one step at a time. :-)


And having erected them, they worship them and celebrate heathen mysteries. For once they have set these images up, they then follow the customs of the heathen; yet what are customs of the heathen but sacrifices and the rest? (from Epiphanius' "Panarion").


I wrote the same thing in a comment I've left on 'Triablogue': namely that we don't venerate images "after the manner of the Gentiles".


As far as Cyprian's "ancient error" comments are concerned, he was judging the ancient local tradition of the Church of Rome from the stand-point of his own ancient local tradition, of the Church of Carthage, whose bishop he was.

You ask: "So what is the EO antidote to this problem? More appeals to more so-called Sacred Tradition? ". The answer is: apart from antiquity, universality is also a mark of truth. (Local Roman as well as local African traditions lacked universality).


As far as the authorship is concerned, we accept the one that has been traditionally ascribed (and that goes for Epiphanius as well).

Rhology said...

Darlene,

I'm actually a latté guy (or a gelato and espresso guy), and yeah, I kick back sometimes. I've just had some bursts of inspiration lately, and only God knows how much longer this period in my life will last, when I'll be able to blog. So I'm just gonna take the opportunities as they come. I try to take breaks when I don't have a combox to pay attention to, which is why I go silent sometimes. :-)



JNorm888,

It took 6 to 8 centuries for the Church to finally decide on the issue by connecting it with the issue of the Incarnation itself.

Should I be surprised that the church could be wrong?
And of course the church never came to a decision at all - there were still iconoclasts! You don't get to just define them out of existence, you know. Pretend they never existed.



Icons can be seen in a scriptural fashion as well.

Not when you're worshiping pictures of dead people.


If you reject Icons, it's because you reject the Incarnation.

Now all you have to do is make the linking argument.



And so, it doesn't matter if some gnostics made icons.

Prove that Irenaeus thought that was the central issue.

Rhology said...

John,
How often have we asked Protestants to justify the canon, and they'll appeal to some vague reference here, or some vague reference there, rarely approaching 1 or 2 writers to prove any one fact, let alone ~50 writers.

I don't appeal to historical sources at all to justify the Canon. My reasoning is borrowed from James White, and is theological and presuppositional in nature. When I cite early church writers, it's usually to shoot holes in the EO/RC argumentation - an internal critique of the position I oppose.


Chrysostom isn't a church father because "modern EOC" decided he was. He is a church father now because he was one in 1500AD.

You're just repeating yourself here, using different words for the same concept.


And he was in 500AD because he was highly respected everywhere in the Church at the time.

So they called him "church Father" while he was still alive? I doubt it.
Even if they did, Cyprian called Tertullian a master, the only church father, Cyprian's a saint, yet the modern EOC has decided that Tertullian is not a CF, not a master. That's just one example of the disingenousness of this explanation from you.


I mean, he was the bishop of the capital city

So were Nestorius and Cyril of Lucaris.


The issue was never about whether there were more or less Montanists.

Actually, it very much is, since you're trying to use my "remnant" explanation like a baseball bat elsewhere. And of course, an Ecum Council isn't an EC in your eyes unless it becomes accepted by the church over time, and that's a numerical judgment, counting noses.


The issue was whether a group founded by Montanus is the inheritor of the apostolic tradition, or whether the catholic church was.

When you're a contemporary of 2 groups that claim to be the infallible interpreters of aptrad, whether it's Montanism and the eventually-victorious church of that time, or whether it's RC, EOC, JWs, Xtian Scientists, and LDS today, talking about aptrad as sthg that judges between those claimants to infallibility is a completely meaningless exercise. I wish you'd actually deal with that point sometime. It's been out there for a long time now.


If you say we can't know, or you don't care, then maybe the Gnostic gospels are the right ones, or maybe the Marcion canon is the right one.

Maybe they are. how would you answer that, on your position?
(Internal critique again. My answer, not given it I have.)


You are a humanist at the core.

Says the guy who thinks the Bible is less communicative and clear than pretty much any other human communication, and the guy who thinks he can contribute sthg to his own redemption from his lost, sinful state. The irony is richer than Oreo cheesecake.


Iconoclastic people is not the same as an iconoclastic tradition. Come now.

The beliefs of iconoclastic ppl are themselves tradition. Don't be dense.


The same OT Jews who had icons in their temple, according to the bible? Odd.

When you're asked about ADORING AND VENERATING AND PRAYING TO these images, why do you always change the subject to refer to decorations?


You're conflating the traditions of individual congregations with the tradition of the universal church.

The universal church is made up of... surprise! individual congregations!

Viisaus said...

"And of course the church never came to a decision at all - there were still iconoclasts!"


Indeed, the reason that there were so relatively few iconoclast writers during the first centuries of the church was because "iconoclasm" (in its moderate form that permitted decorative art) was the DEFAULT POSITION of the church. There was no particular need to defend it.

Still at around 600 AD, pope Gregory the Great still opposed any worship (OR "veneration") of images, while allowing them an educational role:


"In western Europe the bishop of Massilia (Marseilles) at the end of the sixth century ordered that all icons be removed from the churches and destroyed. Pope Gregory I the Great wrote to him praising him for his zeal in advocating that nothing created by human hands should serve as an object of adoration (nequid manufactum adorari posset), but at the same time reprimanding him for the destruction of the images since thereby he had taken away all chance for historical education from people who are ignorant of letters but could at least read by looking at the walls what they cannot read in books."

http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/vasilief/iconoclasm-1.asp?pg=5


I would say that Gregory himself was on a slippery slope, being too tolerant of images. Because of such indulgence, during the 7th century iconolatry grew exponentially, thus provoking a counter-reaction in the 8th century (to which image-lovers then themselves hysterically over-reacted).

Viisaus said...

Indeed, the whole iconoclastic controversy could have probably been averted if Byzantine image-lovers had been even as reasonable as pope Gregory had been - allowing that yes, images should not be religiously worshipped but they could stay as educational or decorative devices.

But iconodules were not interested in any edifying compromise. Instead, they started plotting violent coups against the iconoclast emperor Leo the Isaurian and his son Constantine, provoking them to ever harder actions.

dtking said...

dtking: see http://www.amazon.com/Epiphanius-Salamis-Doctor-Iconoclasm-Deconstruction/dp/1933275286/

Why?

John said...

Viisaus: " there were so relatively few iconoclast writers during the first centuries of the church was because "iconoclasm" (in its moderate form that permitted decorative art) was the DEFAULT POSITION of the church. "

You won't be popular around here among this group who thinks the early Christians were full-on iconoclasts.

"Still at around 600 AD, pope Gregory the Great still opposed any worship (OR "veneration") of images"

Where is this quote I wonder. I don't trust vague allusions.

Now what kind of veneration is at issue here. Is it purely the physical manifestations that are at issue? Is it even possible for a Christian to look at an icon of Christ and not have feelings of veneration?

One would wonder why if they had images it would take 700 years to become an issue. The Jews after all have a habit of kissing their holy things - the Torah, the mezuzah on the doorposts of their house, their tallit and tzitzit, their tefillin, the siddur and Chumash. Anything and everything they'll kiss. Now if you concede the Christians had icons, but this was the one thing they didn't kiss for 700 years, that would be quite odd. And did they think the Jews had idols in the form of the aforementioned things, yet never bothered to comment on that?

Rhology said...

And did they think the Jews had idols in the form of the aforementioned things, yet never bothered to comment on that?


When you're asked about ADORING AND VENERATING AND PRAYING TO these images, why do you always change the subject to refer to decorations?

John said...

Praying to images? Never heard of it.

John said...

"My reasoning is borrowed from James White"

Oh boy. You obviously haven't done a search for Josephus on aomin.org.

"and is theological and presuppositional in nature"

i.e. you presuppose you are right and everyone who disagrees with you is wrong. I guess this conversation is effectively over then.

"So they called him "church Father" while he was still alive? I doubt it."

Sure they called him "Father".

"yet the modern EOC has decided that Tertullian is not a CF, not a master. "

So now you're fixated on the term "Church Father". I'm not aware of EOC making any formal statement that Tertullian is not a church father. Rather the contrary. Obviously his status is tempered by the fact he left the Church, but this doesn't help you at all.

"So were Nestorius"

Yeah, and was he "highly respected everywhere in the Church at the time."? Man, are you interested in seriously interacting with what the other side is saying, or taking out a couple of words here and there to score points on?

"Actually, it very much is, since you're trying to use my "remnant" explanation like a baseball bat elsewhere."

Irrelevant. I just asked you to document that some fantasy in your head is real. I can hardly comment on the size or lack thereof of a group which is not documented to exist.

"And of course, an Ecum Council isn't an EC in your eyes unless it becomes accepted by the church over time, and that's a numerical judgment, counting noses. "

Its a judgement within the Church, not between the Church and other organisations. You keep confounding categories.

"When you're a contemporary of 2 groups that claim to be the infallible interpreters of aptrad, whether it's Montanism and the eventually-victorious church of that time, talking about aptrad as sthg that judges between those claimants to infallibility is a completely meaningless exercise. I wish you'd actually deal with that point sometime. It's been out there for a long time now."

How on earth can you claim it is meaningless, when it is precisely the claim that the apostolic fathers made? You think they were so stupid as to make arguments that were meaningless in those times? These sound bites you throw out there are so ill thought out.

"Maybe they are. how would you answer that, on your position? "

Again? Where is the Marcionite church today? Case closed.

"Says the guy who thinks the Bible is less communicative and clear than pretty much any other human communication"

Nonsense. I've never said any such thing, nor anything remotely like it. The Bible was written to particular people in a particular place and time, and it adequately educated those people about the issues of the time it was meant to address, and it can educate us about those same issues. It doesn't necessarily address controversies with clarity that arise in different time frames with that clarity, because it wasn't designed to. That's not less clear that other human communication, it is putting it within its historical setting. That's what all those Protestant exegetes tell us we are supposed to do.

"and the guy who thinks he can contribute sthg to his own redemption from his lost, sinful state."

I sense an attempt to confuse and obfuscate categories for the sake of scoring points.

"The beliefs of iconoclastic ppl are themselves tradition. Don't be dense. "

A dictionary would help you at this point. Not every belief is a tradition. I'm holding a belief right now about you, but it isn't a tradition.

"The universal church is made up of... surprise! individual congregations!"
Yah, and the traditions of individuals is not that of everyone. Why do I need to spell out this obvious stuff?

Rhology said...

Praying to images? Never heard of it.

Try going to a Divine Liturgy sometime.


Oh boy. You obviously haven't done a search for Josephus on aomin.org.

Oh boy. You obviously haven't ever heard of an internal critique.


Sure they called him "Father".

Unless you can prove that what they called him has the same underlying meaning that you do when you call him "father", it's equivocation for you to say that.



I'm not aware of EOC making any formal statement that Tertullian is not a church father. Rather the contrary. Obviously his status is tempered by the fact he left the Church, but this doesn't help you at all.

1) The EOC doesn't make a whole lot of "official statements", for one thing.
2) No EO with whom I've spoken thinks a lot of Tertullian and they certainly don't think of him as a CF. If you do, that's just more evidence of disunity within the EO ranks.
3) This doesn't help with the question-begging way you define some as CFs and others as heretics.


Yeah, and was he "highly respected everywhere in the Church at the time."?

1) Nestorius was highly respected among SOME in the church. Or more correctly, his position was.
2) So being "highly respected" is all it takes to be correct? That's your measure of truth?


I can hardly comment on the size or lack thereof of a group which is not documented to exist.

Yes, which is why you should give up on the Great Apostasy arguments! THANK you.


Its a judgement within the Church, not between the Church and other organisations. You keep confounding categories.

Sorry, I don't accept your way of categorisation. There's the church, and then SOME IN THE CHURCH say sthg and some ppl accept it and others don't, so much so that those who don't accept it separate themselves. What is the diff between this and the PRotestant practice you so despise?


How on earth can you claim it is meaningless, when it is precisely the claim that the apostolic fathers made?

Gosh, maybe b/c either you misrepresent them too simplistically b/c they themselves were wrong? Did you really not know the answer I'd give? I'm a Sola Scripturist - maybe it would help if you always kept that mind.


"Maybe they are. how would you answer that, on your position? "
Again? Where is the Marcionite church today? Case closed.


1) My friend David Bryan says their practice is not too far off from what occurs on TBN and at Oral Roberts Univ.
2) Why is the case closed? B/c you can't locate them, you automatically assume they don't exist? More humanistic inductive reasoning, and that's logically fallacious.
3) This doesn't answer the question, obviously. I asked you how you know Marcion's canon or the Gnostic canon is wrong. You asked about the CHURCH, the GROUP OF PPL. Try again.



I've never said any such thing, nor anything remotely like it.

Sorry, but you're a liar.
From here:
Me: "2) Notice how you again put Scr in 2ndary position, even though it is self-interping"

John: What verse says it is "self interpreting". And what does that mean anyway? Even the most precise of languages (computer languages) do not self interpret. And the bible, like all things expressed in human language, has the ambiguities of human language.


Not every belief is a tradition.

How do you tell them apart? Beware of begging questions.


Yah, and the traditions of individuals is not that of everyone.

Couldn't've said it better myself!
So how do you pick to follow some beliefs of some ppl and not the beliefs of others, within the church?

John said...

"Try going to a Divine Liturgy sometime."

Do you think presenting mischaracterisations helps your apologetic purposes?

"Oh boy. You obviously haven't ever heard of an internal critique."

Can't let you get away with that untruth I'm afraid. James White in his debate with Gary Michuta makes a positive claim that the Jews did not accept the apocrypha, and he cites Josephus.

" If you do, that's just more evidence of disunity within the EO ranks."

You're getting all hung up over terminology, and it doesn't actually matter.

"This doesn't help with the question-begging way you define some as CFs and others as heretics."

Its not question begging when you claim the authority to define such things.

"Nestorius was highly respected among SOME in the church. Or more correctly, his position was."

Uh huh, so he fails the Vincentian test before leaving the starting blocks.

"2) So being "highly respected" is all it takes to be correct? That's your measure of truth?"

No, it means he is an accurate witness to the beliefs of the Church in a particular time frame. The faith of the Church is infallible, and Chrysostom is a good witness to what that is.

"Yes, which is why you should give up on the Great Apostasy arguments! THANK you. "

We shouldn't criticise a position that posits and necessitates the existence of something for which there is no evidence? No, no, won't let you get away with that one either.

"There's the church, and then SOME IN THE CHURCH say sthg and some ppl accept it and others don't, so much so that those who don't accept it separate themselves. "

Can't let you get away with that one either. Montanus was not a bishop of a church who had disagreements with other churches. He was some guy who decided to set up a brand new church.

John said...

"Gosh, maybe b/c either you misrepresent them too simplistically b/c they themselves were wrong?"

Being wrong and being meaningless are not the same argument at all. You keep confounding categories and wiggling from one position to another to keep your boat afloat. And even Protestants tend to agree that the arguments have some merits in the early centuries, they just deny that the principle can continue. So it can hardly be meaningless, and I can hardly be misrepresenting them to such an extent that it is "completely meaningless" when even Protestants recognise that. And if the argument was convincing enough that it was widely accepted, it gave utility to the Church at the time, and came to be the orthodox position, again, it can hardly be "completely meaningless".

"My friend David Bryan says their practice is not too far off from what occurs on TBN and at Oral Roberts Univ."

Ok, so document their unbroken succession from Marcion. Then document the succession from Marcion to the apostles.

"B/c you can't locate them, you automatically assume they don't exist?"

If you can't find them, and I can't find them, then I'm hardly in a position to join them now am I? Maybe the true church is hidden in a cave in Upper Volta, right? Then we're both in a hole. Do you feel better now you've blown your legs off again?

" asked you how you know Marcion's canon or the Gnostic canon is wrong. You asked about the CHURCH, the GROUP OF PPL. Try again. "

I don't believe in a Great Apostasy. Therefore, if Marcionism is gone, their canon is ruled out.

"Sorry, but you're a liar."

Have a sherry and calm down. I said even the most precise of languages do not self-interpret. So where did I say the bible is "less communicative "? I said that the bible conforms to the characteristics of all communication.

"Not every belief is a tradition.

How do you tell them apart? Beware of begging questions."

You really need to pull out that dictionary when I advise you to. Traditions are passed on, beliefs are not necessarily so.

"So how do you pick to follow some beliefs of some ppl and not the beliefs of others, within the church? "

Read Vincent and get back to me.

Viisaus said...

"Where is this quote I wonder. I don't trust vague allusions."

You're member of "The Society for Orthodox Apologetics", and haven't even heard about this squabble between pope Gregory and Serenus of Massilia?

Tsk tsk, amateurish. (Your apologetics-group seems to do little else besides barking at Sola Scriptura anyways.)

Here you have Gregory's both letters to Serenus in their entirety:


"And we commend you indeed for your zeal against anything made with hands being an object of adoration; but we signify to you that you ought not to have broken these images."

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360209105.htm

"And if any one should wish to make images, by no means prohibit him, but by all means forbid the adoration of images."

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/360211013.htm


"Is it even possible for a Christian to look at an icon of Christ and not have feelings of veneration?"

Very possible indeed, if they consider such images as CARICATURES of Christ. Mock-representations of Christ made by idolatrous-minded people.

(To mention just one small example: why do icons portray Christ as having long hair, which apostle Paul calls as an undignified thing for men?)

Rhology said...

John said:
Do you think presenting mischaracterisations helps your apologetic purposes?

No. I find your denial of praying to images dishonest.


James White in his debate with Gary Michuta makes a positive claim that the Jews did not accept the apocrypha, and he cites Josephus.

Yeah, in a debate about the Apocrypha. You think SSists accept the Apoc? It was an internal critique of RCC then.


You're getting all hung up over terminology, and it doesn't actually matter.

Right, terminology matters when it makes Prots disunified, but not when it makes EOdox disunified. No sir.


Its not question begging when you claim the authority to define such things.

So does RCC. And LDS. And the WatchTower. Anyone can claim it and have the exact same epistemological justification to ignore early church witnesses all they want, just like you.


"Nestorius was highly respected among SOME in the church. Or more correctly, his position was."
Uh huh, so he fails the Vincentian test before leaving the starting blocks.


What's sad is that you don't even see that you've given away the farm. If SOME in the church respects Nestorianism, then that means that SOME in the church didn't. You've arbitrarily chosen not to go with Nest, but SOME does not equal ALL like in the Vincentian Canon.


No, it means he is an accurate witness to the beliefs of the Church in a particular time frame.

How do you know that w/o polling data? There were alot more adherents to the church than ~50 early writers. Or do you just assume it b/c it's what you believe TODAY and b/c you like repeating the naked assertion "We're the ancient faith!"?



We shouldn't criticise a position that posits and necessitates the existence of something for which there is no evidence?

And there's not all that much evidence in favor of your position, is there?
Besides, I've always addressed this elsewhere:
Let's say I grant that the extant early church writings express more or less EO doctrine.
Given other facts, such as that the Scripture is God-inspired and sufficiently clear to communicate what it intends to communicate, and that the Scr does not teach more or less EO doctrine on these points of contention between us, I don't see why I wouldn't be fully justified in positing with certainty either that either the entire church of the time was in serious, serious error or that these men didn't properly represent the beliefs of the church at large. In the absence of any data to the contrary (such as polling data from the laity and other church leaders from the time periods in question which I've repeatedly requested and you've repeatedly been unable to provide), my position has logical consistency in affirming the latter.


(Montanus) was some guy who decided to set up a brand new church.

Ah, like Peter and Paul. How dare he!



And even Protestants tend to agree that the arguments have some merits in the early centuries

Pardon me if I'm not quite bowled over by the force of this argument.


so document their unbroken succession from Marcion.

Why would I need to do that?

Rhology said...

If you can't find them, and I can't find them, then I'm hardly in a position to join them now am I?

That doesn't matter - they had themselves and didn't need you.
Besides, you can't join them b/c that was many 100s of yrs ago. I guess the existence of the remnant in Elijah's time is irrelevant b/c you can't find them today either.



Therefore, if Marcionism is gone, their canon is ruled out.

Naked assertion given. How about the argument?



I said even the most precise of languages do not self-interpret. So where did I say the bible is "less communicative "?

Anyone can read your later attempts to soften the force of your own words. If you think you look that stupid b/c of the argument you made, maybe you shouldn't make stupid arguments like that. I'd be more than happy never to see that lame argument again.


Traditions are passed on, beliefs are not necessarily so.

So a belief becomes a tradition if it's passed on? How many times? What other parameters?
You refer to a dictionary. Which one are you using?



"So how do you pick to follow some beliefs of some ppl and not the beliefs of others, within the church? "
Read Vincent and get back to me.


This is the same answer DavidW gave me in our debate, and it's horrible. I ask you how you pick between the differing beliefs within the church and you point me to a guy who coined the phrase "that which has been blvd always, everywhere, and by all." The sad thing is that I don't think you even see it.

Lvka said...

I also asked once a simple question: where were these fierce iconoclasts between 1,000 AD and 1,500 AD? If they were the Church, why did the gates of hell prevail against it?

Also, iconoclasts were just like the Orthodox, only that they did not honour holy icons -- so Protestants aren't in doctrinal continuity to Iconoclasm.

How can something that doesn't prevail be the Truth, against Jesus' words in Matthew's Gospel? How can something that appears and then disappears be NOT from men, against Gamaliel's words in Acts?

John said...

"No. I find your denial of praying to images dishonest. "

Why would we pray to images? That would be stupid. We pray with images.

"You think SSists accept the Apoc? It was an internal critique of RCC then. "

No, you said you only quote stuff as an internal critique of an opposing argument. But this was in an opening statement, where the rules are to make a positive presentation of your own argument.

"Right, terminology matters when it makes Prots disunified, but not when it makes EOdox disunified."

This discussion is getting so stupid. Nobody claimed Protestants were disunified because of terminology.

"Anyone can claim it and have the exact same epistemological justification to ignore early church witnesses all they want"

It would only be begging the question if stating Montanus was a heretic was somehow my starting point in a circular argument. But it was never any such thing. That's just some nonsense from your imagination you're trying to superimpose on me.

"If SOME in the church respects Nestorianism, then that means that SOME in the church didn't. You've arbitrarily chosen not to go with Nest, but SOME does not equal ALL like in the Vincentian Canon."

Yah, so Nestorius is not a Church Father because he only got SOME. Maybe you're starting to get it, but I doubt it.

"How do you know that w/o polling data?"

LOL. How do you know most people believed the apostles wrote the New Testament without polling data? Maybe most people thought they were forgeries. Maybe most people had the real New Testament, but then it got lost. Maybe, maybe, maybe. This is getting sooo stupid. Keeping blowing your legs off.

"And there's not all that much evidence in favor of your position, is there? "

ROFLOL. No, just ALL THE EXTANT HISTORICAL EVIDENCE. That's all. Just a trifle really.

"Given other facts, and sufficiently clear to communicate what it intends to communicate,"

Major begging of the question, since you don't know a-priori what it intends to communicate sufficiently clearly, plus you don't have any scriptural notion of "sufficiently clear". Maybe it is sufficiently clear in the apostolically appointed church, but not in the head of a random Baptist blogger.

"that the Scr does not teach more or less EO doctrine on these points of contention between us"

So what you are saying is let's assume that all the extant writings of people in the church who understood the language of the NT natively, and lived within the same cultural context of the NT didn't understand the NT, and yet understood it the same supposedly wrong way, but a 21st century Baptist who can't read Greek and lives in a cultural context as different as humanly possible does understand it. Yeah right, a really plausible assumption that is. Riiiight.

"(Montanus) was some guy who decided to set up a brand new church.

Ah, like Peter and Paul. How dare he!"

Paul set up a brand new church? Here I was thinking he joined the already existing church.

"Why would I need to do that? "

Because you claim not to believe in a Great Apostasy, but can't document your fantasy.

John said...

Viisaus: "Tsk tsk, amateurish."

Don't be a child. I'm responding to a blog article by someone who admits to reading <1% of the church fathers.

"haven't even heard about this squabble between pope Gregory and Serenus of Massilia?"

Maybe if you'd actually MENTIONED Serenus, it might have helped. Or were you holding that back to play children's games?

"Very possible indeed, if they consider such images as CARICATURES of Christ. Mock-representations of Christ made by idolatrous-minded people."

And if photography had been invented at the time, and we had a real photo, WHAT THEN? Then I could force you to commit idolatry? I guess the apostles spent the rest of their lives committing idolatry since they can hardly have failed to picture Christ when they thought of him.

"To mention just one small example: why do icons portray Christ as having long hair, which apostle Paul calls as an undignified thing for men?"

Are you the fashion police to tell us how long is too long? You don't know how long is long. And if Jesus took the Nazarite vow, even for a short time, then the icon would be accurate. And why wouldn't he do something the OT suggests one do?

John said...

"I guess the existence of the remnant in Elijah's time is irrelevant b/c you can't find them today either"

Ahh but I can find them, in the Holy Church.

"Naked assertion given. How about the argument?"

I don't need one, because you've already disavowed the Great Apostasy.

"If you think you look that stupid b/c of the argument you made, maybe you shouldn't make stupid arguments like that"

More stupidity. I stand by what I said, no more, no less.

"So a belief becomes a tradition if it's passed on? How many times?"

You've got to figure once is a bare minimum. How about a retraction at this point?

"I ask you how you pick between the differing beliefs within the church and you point me to a guy who coined the phrase "that which has been blvd always, everywhere, and by all." The sad thing is that I don't think you even see it. "

I'm supposed to feel bad about pointing you to "a guy"??? Perhaps if I pointed you to a gal you'd be happier? They're the only two options that tend to come up you know.

Rhology said...

But this was in an opening statement, where the rules are to make a positive presentation of your own argument.

I made some internal critiques to forestall my opponents' expected arguments in my Sola Scriptura debate's opening statement. I'm afraid you're pretty clueless about this.

The rest of your comment is approaching incoherence and mainly consists of little more than repetition of your original claims. Thanks for playing, John.

Acolyte4236 said...

Here's a reply

http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/irenaeus-and-icons/

Rhology said...

And my own reply.