Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Look, the "unity" argument just doesn't work

Let me try to give a fuller explanation of the point of my last post with respect to what David B has said starting here.

First and foremost, nothing in this post is intended to put forward a Sola Scripturist position.  The point is to rebut a very common Sola Ecclesia-ist argument, and nothing more.  SEists like to rip Sola Scr b/c it produces all these denominations.  I'm just showing another way (to say nothing of what's already been said that this is a terribly stupid argument to use.

David B says that the GOC have excommunicated themselves.
This is not excommunication, at least not biblically.  Biblical excommunication/church discipline is an action taken by the church.  Of course there's room biblically for them to go "out from us" (1 John 2), but that's not the same thing.  So when I said "So excommunicate them" and David B said "Already done", this is not precise.  It would have been far more precise and informative, apparently, to say "We can't; they already left", although apparently some of these GOC-ers, the priest in question included, see themselves as "resisting from within".  Within what, if not EOC?
Along those lines, I'd asked for an "authoritative church statement", and didn't get one.  I'd still like to know whether that exists, or whether this is David B's private, fallible interpretation of history.  (Not that this is a big deal to me, but I say that to mock still others who use the "private fallible interpretation" argument, which is, if possible, even stupider.) (I do not recall David B ever using said argument, fortunately.)

Now, we turn to this comment:
the main reason I see the calendar as NOT part of tradition and NOT reason for schism is that it was simply the civil (and pagan!) calendar of Julian's day...

That sounds an awful lot like "the main reason I see the question of Presbyterian infant baptism as NOT part of the essentials and NOT reason for schism is that it is simply the outworking of Presby covenant theology and has nothing to do with the question of the Gospel", doesn't it?  Yet do we Sola Scripturists ever get a pass from our Sola Ecclesia friends when we say that?  Nope.
So when we see "The Orthodox Church is internally divided over the issue of the Church calendar. A minority of Orthodox churches worldwide, beginning in 1923, decided to follow the so-called 'New' (Gregorian) Calendar." (Source), I don't see a good reason not to doubt this kind of "we have unity, and you don't, so haha" argument.  David B's church is in the minority.

He or other EOx might respond:
But we are in communion with most of the Old Calendarists who aren't schismatics!

I'm a Reformed Baptist, and I'm in communion with all sortsa people - Presbyterians, not-Reformed Baptists, Assemblies of God, charismatics, Pentecostals...


But y'all don't go to the same church!

Neither do y'all.
And you don't earn any points for fudging on the definition of "denomination" either.  Your not-denomination denominations, in which you disagree with each other about certain things, are the same situation as the one in which I find myself today among Sola Scripturists.


But we have the same name!

No, you don't.  ROCOR, Russian Orthodox, OCA, GOA...


Those are just ethnic divisions for convenience' sake!

1) Then why do some of you differ on, for example, the calendar?
2) So it's better that y'all hold to the same doctrine and just squabble amongst yourselves like you do on the basis of racial dislikes?  Nice.


But you're not in communion at all with other Protestants!

You mean so-called Protestants?  Those with whom I'm not in communion have excommunicated themselves by denying the Gospel or another essential of the faith.
And you're not in communion with other Orthodox.


You mean so-called Orthodox?

Yep, that's precisely what I mean.  Why do you get to play the "they've schismed" game while I don't?  Where's your consistency?
It would appear that this is a case of "they're in communion with us unless they're not".  I shouldn't have to remind anyone that this is a tautology, and yet that is what's behind any appeal to this "unity" argument.


But we have a way to tell which tradition is right!

So do we - the Scripture.  Which doesn't keep writing itself with every new church pronouncement, BTW.  And which is far less question-begging.

Having said all that, one has to ask how David B knows that OCA is part of The True Orthodox Church, whereas those who've kept to the ostensibly older tradition of the Old Calendar aren't the ones holding firm in the face of innovation, a new calendar, ecumenism, getting all liberal-soft on baby murder, but by God making sure that everyone knows that the EOC is really serious about being green.  Nnnoooo, none of that is suspicious!
You know, for a while it sure seemed like the Arians were going to win the struggle in the 4th century, and anathemas had been flung about.  If David B had been alive that day, how would he know that the party of Athanasius was correct?  Appeal to "the Fathers"?  Each side had their own "Fathers".  Besides, a mere individual man like David doesn't get to define who is a Father and who isn't.  And since the typical Sola Ecclesia interp of Matthew 16:18 tells us that the church will never go largely down into heresy, the only way to be sure would be to wait and see who'd win the struggle.
How is that helpful for the believer at the time whose very soul is at stake?
How is that a good guide for the believer who wants to further the cause of good and of God?  How can he know where to direct his efforts?
Easy - he can't know, b/c individual interpretation of the Scripture is not available to him, and Apostolic Tradition hasn't been defined yet, and can't be by any one man.


30 comments:

Viisaus said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Viisaus said...

"If David B had been alive that day, how would he know that the party of Athanasius was correct?"

Or if he had lived in the days of the Chalcedon council, how would he have known that the Diophysites were right and Monophysites were wrong?

Monophysites mockingly called Chalcedonians as "Melkites" (royalists, "malak" meaning king in Semitic languages) meaning that in their eyes, Chalcedon was upheld by mere Erastian secular power - much like RCs have claimed that the Anglican reformation was due to Henry VIII's personal whims.

http://www.ccel.org/g/gibbon/decline/volume2/chap47.htm#Union

"Their numbers, and visible splendor, bestowed an imperfect claim to the appellation of Catholics: but in the East, they were marked with the less honorable name of Melchites, or Royalists; (109) of men, whose faith, instead of resting on the basis of Scripture, reason, or tradition, had been established, and was still maintained, by the arbitrary power of a temporal monarch. Their adversaries might allege the words of the fathers of Constantinople, who profess themselves the slaves of the king; and they might relate, with malicious joy, how the decrees of Chalcedon had been inspired and reformed by the emperor Marcian and his virgin bride."

Lvka said...

Well, I'm not saying that *ALL* Protestants are impressed by our unity in faith, but MANY of them definitely are... and for *those* Protestants, Baptism, Communion, and so forth, are NOT as unimportant as for others (like yourself, for instance), and it is they that join either the Roman Catholic or the Christian Orthodox Churches. -- as for calendar-related issues, my guess is that they're completely un-interested in them (and my guess is that so are you also).

Lvka said...

Rergarding you observation that the Orthodox only know the Truth when the controversy is over, I'm only going to say this: Protestants still don't "know" the Truth, NOT EVEN when the controversy is over. (otherwise there'll be no JWs, for instance; no Calvinists denying the Son's eternal generation against Niceea; no Adventists denying the decisions of the Apostolic Synod; no Protestants rejecting the Mother of God formulation against Chalcedon; no Puritans rejecting icons against second Niceea; no Mormons believing in Tritheism or polytheism; etc.)

Lvka said...

Hi, V.! Good to see you again.

I have a special dedication, just for you... :-)

Viisaus said...

Lvka,

I am seeing only your pitiful, persistent dishonesty of indiscriminately calling all pictorial representations as "icons".

A painting depicting some Biblical event is not an "icon" in the specific EO sense of that word, and that's that.

Rhology said...

as for calendar-related issues, my guess is that they're completely un-interested in them

But EOx ARE interested in calendar-related issues. Even anathematise each other over it.


Protestants still don't "know" the Truth, NOT EVEN when the controversy is over.

Well, see, there's this thing called "Scripture"...


otherwise there'll be no JWs, for instance

Here's the problem with your obstinate insistence on making man the measure of truth.
EOx still don't "know" the Truth, NOT EVEN when the controversy is over. (otherwise there'll be no Marcionites, Nestorians, monophysites, Arians, for instance...)

Rhology said...

And Lvka, stay on topic. Don't be talking about icons here.

Viisaus said...

"EOx still don't "know" the Truth, NOT EVEN when the controversy is over."

To take one big example, EOs do not yet even possess firmly settled, infallibly defined Biblical canon. Their members are openly contradicting each other whether OT apocrypha is really canonical or not.

Rhology said...

And that's to say nothing of the even more striking undefined extent of their authoritative "tradition". I mean, lookie here - one group says the Old Calendar tradition is Apostolic Tradition, another says it's not.

So they fragment into these denominations. I mean, I thought Christ wanted His church to be unified!

Viisaus said...

The great Old Believer schism within the Russian Orthodox church produced a true "blueprint for anarchy":

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Believers#Old_Believer_denominations

On the eve of Communist revolution, Czarist Russia was full of sects - some of them really wild ones, like the Khlysts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khlysts

So from 17th century onwards, the greatest church within Eastern Orthodoxy failed notably to have anything resembling true unity.

Lvka said...

Even anathematise each other over it.


Only a few tens of thousands of fanatics anathemize the rest of the Church over the Calendar issue.

The Church has canonical national Churches on both calendars.

Lvka said...

The content of the Orthodox faith is neither lessened by the exclusion of certain OT books, nor is it enriched by their inclusion.

Rhology said...

Only a few tens of thousands of fanatics anathemize the rest of the Church over the Calendar issue.

"Only a few tens of thousands of fanatics anathemize the rest of the Church over the homoousios issue"...said the Arians.



nor is it enriched by their inclusion.

Right, cuz who cares what God said?
The blasphemy of the EOx position, right here, folks.

Lvka said...

No, the Arians never said this.. nor was it true. But we have things like a census, and their number doesn't exceed a few dozen thousand. (compared to a quarter-billion Orthodox believers).

Rhology said...

"Verily, verily, I say unto you; the kingdom of Heaven is found by counting noses." --2nd Hezekiah 13:22

Lvka said...

You were suggesting I was making numbers up. I was showing you that I wasn't.

Viisaus said...

"The content of the Orthodox faith is neither lessened by the exclusion of certain OT books, nor is it enriched by their inclusion."

Comments like this do show how some EOs do not feel any overly scrupulous respect towards the Holy Bible and its authority - UNLIKE the church fathers they claim to venerate so.

It was the supreme concern for the Bible that was the arguably most "Protestant" trait of Nicene-era Christian writers.

Lvka said...

Christ was able to reduce the entire Torah to just two commands.

Viisaus said...

"Christ was able to reduce the entire Torah to just two commands."

Liberals and latitudinarians like to talk in this manner. "Just serve God and love your fellow man and forget about all that other irrelevant stuff."

Lvka said...

The "other stuff" is not "irrelevant", it is simply implied or contained in the two.

Viisaus said...

All in all, the Protestant scene can be greatly simplified and purified with one simple move: remove those sects that add their own new scriptures or revelations to the Bible (mostly cultists like Mormons and JWs - by implication also hyper-Charismatics) and those who show manifest contempt towards the authority of the Bible (mostly liberal apostates - by implication also churches that tolerate such people amongst them, while not directly participating in their deeds).

Thus by merely taking away from the count those who either ADD TO, or TAKE AWAY from the Scriptures you are already much closer in determining what people you can have communion with.

Lvka said...

I don't add Mormons and liberals to the Sola Scriptura group. But I do consider JWs and Pentecostals part of it, obviously.

John said...

A very scattergun posting, making it difficult to respond to.

1. I've yet to see the reputable EO source that doesn't include the deuteros in the canon. Rhology tried quoting Ware, but Ware said no such thing.

2. GOC are out of communion. Who cares about how they got that way, the fact is they are unambiguously out of communion.

3. Are Presbys going to give a free pass to Baptists at their church who tell people to wait for their children to grow up before baptising? A Greek priest is happy to tell a Russian visiting that they can celebrate Christmas on the old calendar.

4. I haven't seen it demonstrated that both sides in the Arian dispute had their own fathers.

Rhology said...

2. GOC are out of communion. Who cares about how they got that way, the fact is they are unambiguously out of communion

Right, so you have communion with whom you have communion, and you don't with whom you don't. Same here!


3. Are Presbys going to give a free pass to Baptists at their church who tell people to wait for their children to grow up before baptising? A Greek priest is happy to tell a Russian visiting that they can celebrate Christmas on the old calendar.

how are those 2 things analogous? Baptism is not the same with respect to congregational presence as is Xmas.


4. I haven't seen it demonstrated that both sides in the Arian dispute had their own fathers.

The winner defines the Fathers. that's part of the point.

John said...

"you have communion with whom you have communion, and you don't with whom you don't. Same here! "

Point being?

"how are those 2 things analogous?"

They are the two things you tried to compare.

"The winner defines the Fathers. that's part of the point."

Not good enough. You claimed the Arians had "their" fathers. Don't claim it, demonstrate it.

Viisaus said...

"You claimed the Arians had "their" fathers. Don't claim it, demonstrate it."

Quite a many fathers how known as orthodox had a shaky position when the Arian tide was at its highest.

Take Cyril of Jerusalem, for example - he congratulated Arian emperor Constantius and only late in life "saw light":

"Naturally inclined to peace and conciliation, St. Cyril at first took a rather moderate position, distinctly averse from Arianism, but (like not a few of his undoubtedly orthodox contemporaries) was by no means eager to accept the uncompromising term homoousios (ὁμοούσιος) (that is, that Jesus Christ and God are of the "same substance" and are equally God)."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_of_Jerusalem#Life_and_character


Basil of Caesarea also had questionably close contacts with Arian people - he was converted to asceticism by a semi-Arian leader:

"A year later, Basil's life would change radically after he encountered Eustathius of Sebaste, a charismatic bishop and ascetic.[16]
...

Basil attended the Council of Constantinople in 360. It was here that he first sided with the Homoiousians, a semi-Arian faction who taught that the Son was of like substance with the Father, neither the same (one substance) nor different from him.[26] Its members included Eustathius, Basil's mentor in asceticism. The Homoiousians opposed the Arianism of Eunomius but refused to join with the supporters of the Nicene Creed, who professed that the members of the Trinity were of one substance ("homoousios"). This stance put him at odds with his bishop, Dianius of Caesarea, who had subscribed only to the earlier Nicene form of agreement. Some years later Basil abandoned the Homoiousians, emerging instead as a supporter of the Nicene Creed.[26]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Basil_of_Caesarea#Early_life_and_education


And Constantine the Great himself, celebrated as saint by RCs and EOs, was baptized at his deathbed by an Arian bishop:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eusebius_of_Nicomedia#Political_and_Religious_career

Viisaus said...

Moreover, the single most successful 4th century missionary to the heathen was an Arian:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulfilas

John said...

(a) No Arians here.

(b) For the Arians to have Fathers, they would have to be citing people from the previous generation to the Arian controversy. Everyone here is contemporary with the controversy.

Jesse said...

Hello Everyone,

Be sure to check out this excellent refutation of the "30,000 Protestant denominations argument":

https://rationalchristiandiscernment.blogspot.com/2017/03/sola-scriptura-and-divisions.html