Skip to comments.Early Church Fathers on (Oral) Tradition - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
Posted on 01/28/2007 5:25:46 AM PST by NYer
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In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, we are posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic/Orthodox Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Mark 13:31 - heaven and earth will pass away, but Jesus' Word will not pass away. But Jesus never says anything about His Word being entirely committed to a book. Also, it took 400 years to compile the Bible, and another 1,000 years to invent the printing press. How was the Word of God communicated? Orally, by the bishops of the Church, with the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit.
Mark 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to preach the Gospel to every creature. But Jesus did not want this preaching to stop after the apostles died, and yet the Bible was not compiled until four centuries later. The word of God was transferred orally.
Mark 3:14; 16:15 - Jesus commands the apostles to preach (not write) the gospel to the world. Jesus gives no commandment to the apostles to write, and gives them no indication that the oral apostolic word he commanded them to communicate would later die in the fourth century. If Jesus wanted Christianity to be limited to a book (which would be finalized four centuries later), wouldn't He have said a word about it?
Luke 10:16 - He who hears you (not "who reads your writings"), hears me. The oral word passes from Jesus to the apostles to their successors by the gracious gifts of the Holy Spirit. This succession has been preserved in the Holy Catholic Church.
Luke 24:47 - Jesus explains that repentance and forgiveness of sins must be preached (not written) in Christ's name to all nations. For Protestants to argue that the word of God is now limited to a book (subject to thousands of different interpretations) is to not only ignore Scripture, but introduce a radical theory about how God spreads His word which would have been unbelievable to the people at the time of Jesus.
Acts 2:3-4 - the Holy Spirit came to the apostles in the form of "tongues" of fire so that they would "speak" (not just write) the Word.
Acts 15:27 - Judas and Silas, successors to the apostles, were sent to bring God's infallible Word by "word of mouth."
Rom. 10:8 - the Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart, which is the word of faith which is preached (not just written).
Rom. 10:17 - faith comes by what is "heard" (not just read) which is the Word that is "preached" (not read). This word comes from the oral tradition of the apostles. Those in countries where the Scriptures are not available can still come to faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 15:1,11 - faith comes from what is "preached" (not read). For non-Catholics to argue that oral tradition once existed but exists no longer, they must prove this from Scripture. But no where does Scripture say oral tradition died with the apostles. To the contrary, Scripture says the oral word abides forever.
Gal. 1:11-12 - the Gospel which is "preached" (not read) to me is not a man's Gospel, but the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Eph. 1:13 - hearing (not reading) the Word of truth is the gospel of our salvation. This is the living word in the Church's living tradition.
Col. 1:5 - of this you have "heard" (not read) before in the word of truth, the Gospel which has come to you.
1 Thess. 2:13 - the Word of God is what you have "heard" (not read). The orally communicated word of God lasts forever, and this word is preserved within the Church by the Holy Spirit.
2 Tim. 1:13 - oral communications are protected by the Spirit. They abide forever. Oral authority does not die with the apostles.
2 Tim. 4:2,6-7 - Paul, at the end of his life, charges Timothy to preach (not write) the Word. Oral teaching does not die with Paul.
Titus 1:3 - God's word is manifested "through preaching" (not writing). This "preaching" is the tradition that comes from the apostles.
1 Peter 1:25 - the Word of the Lord abides forever and that Word is the good news that was "preached" (not read) to you. Because the Word is preached by the apostles and it lasts forever, it must be preserved by the apostles' successors, or this could not be possible. Also, because the oral word abides forever, oral apostolic tradition could not have died in the fourth century with all teachings being committed to Scripture.
2 Peter 1:12, 15 - Peter says that he will leave a "means to recall these things in mind." But since this was his last canonical epistle, this "means to recall" must therefore be the apostolic tradition and teaching authority of his office that he left behind.
2 John 1:12; 3 John 13 - John prefers to speak and not to write. Throughout history, the Word of God was always transferred orally and Jesus did not change this. To do so would have been a radical departure from the Judaic tradition.
Deut. 31:9-12 - Moses had the law read only every seven years. Was the word of God absent during the seven year interval? Of course not. The Word of God has always been given orally by God's appointed ones, and was never limited to Scripture.
Isa. 40:8 - the grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God (not necessarily written) will stand forever.
Isa. 59:21 - Isaiah prophesies the promise of a living voice to hand on the Word of God to generations by mouth, not by a book. This is either a false prophecy, or it has been fulfilled by the Catholic Church.
Joel 1:3 - tell your children of the Word of the Lord, and they tell their children, and their children tell another generation.
Mal. 2:7 - the lips of a priest guard knowledge, and we should seek instruction from his mouth. Protestants want to argue all oral tradition was committed to Scripture? But no where does Scripture say this.
Some more by Irenaeus:
"As I said before, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although she is disseminated throughout the whole world, yet guarded it, as if she occupied but one house. She likewise believes these things just as if she had but one soul and one and the same heart; and harmoniously she proclaims them and teaches them and hands them down, as if she possessed but one mouth. For, while the languages of the world are diverse, nevertheless, the authority of the tradition is one and the same" (Against Heresies 1:10:2 [A.D. 189]).
"That is why it is surely necessary to avoid them [heretics], while cherishing with the utmost diligence the things pertaining to the Church, and to lay hold of the tradition of truth. . . . What if the apostles had not in fact left writings to us? Would it not be necessary to follow the order of tradition, which was handed down to those to whom they entrusted the churches?" (ibid., 3:4:1).
"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors to our own timesmen who neither knew nor taught anything like these heretics rave about.
"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles.
"With this church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agreethat is, all the faithful in the whole worldand it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:12).
Orthodox ping. As NYer has said, this caucus is designed for discussion among Orthodox and Latins on subjects which are particularly important to us without the necessity of dealing with the controversies we see on other open threads. As such we should avoid involvement of other ecclesial groups by attacking their beliefs. This is not to say that we cannot comment "vigorously" about each others' (Orthodox & Latin) positions. There are a number of you on the Orthodox ping list who are neither Orthodox nor Latin. As NYer has said, you are very welcome to participate. If, on the other hand, any of you on the Orthodox ping list do not want to be pinged, let me know by a private message and I will redo the list and create a new one for this purpose.
A number of us who have been around awhile are quite excited about the prospects for this new caucus. The development of common positions here on FR and of course far more importantly, the discussions among our hierarchs and the developing relationship between Rome and the largest Orthodox Church, Moscow, give us a lot to talk about.
Good news ping!
That is exactly the opposite position of Tradition. Tradition is not Scriptural and yet is no less authentic as it derives from the Apostles and is a part of the Deposit of Faith. V's wife
Apparently you missed the title of this thread. This is a closed thread. Protestants were invited if they avoided attacks. Your post is an attack.
Yes I agree that it will be very beneficial. Having spent years absorbing the beauty and richness of the Eastern Liturgy , it always gave me pain when my fellow RCs seemed so ignorant of the Eastern Church. JP11 said that we need both lung east and west.
The Fathers of the Church will provide those who are struggling to understand scripture the lens to understand the truth. Always refer to the Fathers to get a grasp on doctrinal matters.
When one is posting on a "Caucus" thread, he is in the other guy's church and must behave accordingly.
Which Eastern liturgy do you attend? I'm RC but practicing my faith in a Maronite (Eastern) Catholic Church. It has become an opportunity to educate my fellow RCs in the rich beauty and deep reverence ot the Maronite DL.
I was attending a Ruthenian Byzantine Parish in Portland, Or. I had heard from them that they felt persecuted by other Catholics and I found that difficult to believe until I would invite RCs to attend. I had better luck by far having Protestants to accept the invitation than my fellow Catholics. I never did understand the resistance and still do not. Eventually I found it difficult to have a foot in each Rite even though I think that my heart remains in the East. My family were too Irish to make the switch. I still sing the Liturgy during my Holy Hour. Good luck with the battle. There is a Maronite parish here in Portland but I have not mad it over there.
"The Fathers of the Church will provide those who are struggling to understand scripture the lens to understand the truth. Always refer to the Fathers to get a grasp on doctrinal matters."
Indeed they will. Their writings are among the great treasures of The Church. In the consensus patrum, they provide us not only with an understanding of scripture, but also of our ecclesiology and the origins and understanding of the proclaimations of the Ecumenical Councils (as well as many local councils too, for that matter). More than these advantages, they also provide us with a clear view of the phronema of the early Church, a phronema shared in both the East and the West and as time goes on, the gradual, generally very gradual, development in the West of a different phronema from that in the East. Vicomte13 a year or more ago posted several detailed comments on his historical view of what happened which I think were quite good. Certainly language played a major role by the time Blessed Augustine came along. His Greek was, to put it kindly, limited and thus he didn't have access to the writings of the earlier Greek Fathers when he contested with the Donatists and the Pelagians. The East sat by and said nothing because they didn't read Latin; in fact, +Augustine's works weren't widely translated into Greek until after the Great Schism!
We often think that it was the East which was under the greatest assault by heresy and as compared to the West, it was, but the West had its own heresy problems to deal with. The whole filioque issue arose because The Church in Spain felt compelled to deal with Visigothic Arians who pointed to the Creed as established by the Nicene Council as a justification for their heresy so at a local council they changed the Creed...a big mistake on any of a number of levels, not merely ecclesiological. On the other hand, in Orthodoxy we speak with undying gratitude of the "Orthodoxy" of the Church of Rome in regard to Arianism, Nestorianism, Iconoclasm and any of a number of other heresies which arose in the East and were embraced by one or more of the Eastern Patriarchs and from which a firm and Orthodox Church of Rome preserved us.
From my very personal point of view, it is a great shame that the Church of Rome came to see itself not as the primus inter pares as established by the Ecumenical Councils, but rather as a monarch with "immediate universal jurisdiction" with the power to, on its own, determine what the doctrines and dogmas of the one holy catholic and apostolic church were. This in great measure lead to the Great Schism, after which, holding local councils which purported to speak for the entire Church, we Orthodox believe, it fell into error with the Protestant revolution being the result, something which never happened in the East.
Now we see in +BXVI a pope who speaks the language of Orthodoxy...patristic and the Orthodox East is listening, listening closer than the Latin West I sometimes believe. The East and the West today have an advantages prior generations didn't have. We all have almost instantaneous access to the Fathers, our common heritage, in our native languages. In them we can see The Church as it once really was, filled with contention but ultimately united. We read and some of us pray our ancient liturgies which from Ireland in the West to India in the East are almost identical and recognize our common Eucharistic Faith, the very Eucharistic Faith which +Ignatius of Antioch wrote of within 100 years of the Mystical Supper. What we are seeing is a vision of what The Church might well look like reunited, Liturgical, Patristic, Eucharistic and Concilliar.
I would add that we also have an interest in unity that is more than abstract. The Latin Church is under relentless attack from several quarters and needs the Orthodox witness in order to point to its historical apostolic roots. It also needs to regain its own orthodoxy after the reform of the Vatican II put some segments of the Latin Church off balance. The Catholic West needs to drink from the well of Orthodoxy for its own good, now more than ever. At the same time the Orthodox Church can expect a surge thanks to the liberation of the former Soviet Union and Western converts from certain failing Protestant communities of faith. This surge will put the Orthodox in an unprecedented for them level of contact with the Reformed mindset, and the Catholic experience in that regard will be helpful.
More broadly, as the Orthodox Church penetrates the secularized neopagan West, it will have to form political alliances with all confessions that stand in defense of traditional morality and for freedom of religion. Conservative Evangelicals will naturally be a part of that movement. Here again, the Catholic experience of dialogue and coexistence with the Protestantism will be of value to the Orthodox.
I guess I misunderstood...Protestants were invited to the thread...Surely no one expects many Protestants to agree with the Catholic position...
I was trying hard not to attack anyone or any religion...Just pointing out the opposing bible view since it was the authority of the written word that was being attacked...
Sorry for the intrusion...
Actually, there is no reason to make the switch. A Roman rite Catholic may attend any Eastern Catholic Liturgy and fulfill his of her obligations at any Eastern Catholic Parish. A Roman rite Catholic may join any Eastern Catholic Parish and receive any sacrament from an Eastern Catholic priest, since all belong to the Catholic Church as a whole. As my pastor likes to say: "Same faith; different flavor" ;-)
Then again, over the past few years, two RC freepers have gone East. Both joined the Ukrainian Church; one is now studying for the priesthood.
Good luck with the battle.
What drove me East, was the liturgical abuse so pervasive in this RC Diocese. That was the battle! I confronted the pastor of my (now former) RC parish when he tried to introduce liturgical dance, showing him NCCB documentation outlawing this practice. When he wouldn't budge, I wrote to the diocese. No surprise, they supported the pastor's definition of liturgical dance as 'liturgical movement'. Undaunted, I wrote a 2nd time, quoting Sacrosanctum Concilium and and Canon Law which states that "every Catholic is entitled to a valid liturgy". That did the trick! His abuses didn't stop there. He altered the words of the Creed and only placed a Crucifix in the Sanctuary during Lent (dissent against the GIRM). Watching a EMHC drop a consecrated host to the floor of the Sanctuary then picking it up and replacing it in her Pyrex glass communion bowl was the last straw. In compiling a list of other RC parishes within proximity of home, someone suggested that I include any Eastern Catholic parishes as well. There were two - Maronite and Ukrainian. The Maronite Church grabbed my heart and soul and would not let go.
At one time, I considered formally switching rites. When I learned that this entailed writing to the local RC bishop, I opted out. "Same faith; different flavor" works for me :-)
There is a Maronite parish here in Portland but I have not made it over there.
The first time I attended the Maronite Church, it was very disorienting. There are 22 Churches that make up the One Holy Catholic Church; there are only eight "Rites" that are used among them. Many Eastern Catholic Churches use the same Rite, although they are distinct autonomous Churches. For example, the Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Melkite Catholic Church are distinct Churches with their own hierarchies. Yet they both use the Byzantine Rite. The Maronite Church is out of of Antioch where St. Peter served as Bishop before proceeding to Rome. The Consecration is chanted in Aramaic, using the words and language of our Lord at the Last Supper. It is quite different from the Byzantine Rite celebrated by the Ruthenians. Should you decide to visit, let me know. I'll give you some tips on what to expect.
Like you, my background is Irish + Italian, French and German but the Maronites (Lebanese) have adopted me and made me feel right at home. BTW - our pastor is bi-ritual (Maronite & Latin Rites, speaks 8 languages fluently and reads Koine Greek, Hebrew, Latin and Aramaic. He's quite young and an awesome priest!).
PS - I maintain two ping lists - one is Catholic in general; the other Eastern Catholic. Please freepmail me if you would like to be added to one or both.
Since this is our first attempt at a dual Caucus post, I intentionally avoided posting anything of a controversial nature. I'm keeping it light but there are, of course, issues that also divide us. My hesitation in posting any of those is not to incite any lurkers looking for the 'linchpin' that will bring our two Churches to fisticuffs. However, in all frankness, not posting ECF commentaries on these issues also does an injustice. How would you prefer to handle these topics - Catholic Caucus or Catholic/Orthodox Caucus?
With much respect for your decision ... NYer
Those darn visigoths again :) I also believe that they were responsible for altering the sign of the cross from right to left shoulder to left to right shoulder ( I have done it the Greek way now so long that I can get confused)
"And we charge you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw yourselves from every brother walking disorderly, and not according to the tradition which they have received of us." 2 Thessalonians 3:6
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast; and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle." 2 Thessalonians 2:14
The Maronite Catholic Church is defiant! They have never separated from Rome and follow the Latin tradition of crossing themselves from left to right. They also take great pride in having the Bishop wear a mitre (like the Latins) as opposed to a crown. They decorate their Churches with icons and statues. They are very proud of their attachment to Rome, even though it entailed watching 'Vatican visitors' burn some of their liturgical texts, back in the 16th century.
The Portland Maronite parish is named for one of my favorite saints - St. Sharbel. They don't yet have an 'official' web site. (neither do we but we're working on it).
St Sharbel Catholic Church
1804 SE 16th Ave
Portland, OR 97214
"My hesitation in posting any of those is not to incite any lurkers looking for the 'linchpin' that will bring our two Churches to fisticuffs."
Well, if any lurkers think the filioque is still a causus belli between Orthodoxy and Rome, they will find that it is pretty much a dead issue since the Agreed Statement back around 2000, NYer. I wouldn't worry about controversial issues. If there ever will be a reunion, we'll simply have to deal with them. To that end, discussions here will be helpful. It may be that we will simply decide that some issues should be left to the decisions of the particular churches; in others perhaps not. In any event, my reason for mentioning the filioque was to demonstrate how problems addressing local issues troubling the Church (from the outside) which eventually effected the entire Church arose in what was a then unified church. In any reunified church of the future, even more powerful intrusions than Arianism in Spain will present challenges which will have to be handled more carefully, or perhaps I should say more attentively, than the filioque was.
"However, in all frankness, not posting ECF commentaries on these issues also does an injustice. How would you prefer to handle these topics - Catholic Caucus or Catholic/Orthodox Caucus?"
I see absolutely no problem with the way you posted the snips from the Fathers. Most of them, so far as I know, are understood in a common fashion by both Rome and Orthodoxy. At least one is recognizable as a patristic statement used to support the Roman Catholic view of the proper role of the Petrine Ministry. Orthodox people think that Roman Catholic apologists read too much into it. Now that is a subject which has the potential to get contentious, but it is also the very subject of the present dialog among our hierarchs so it seems likely that they at least have decided that the topic is worth their time. Likely its also worth ours, contentious or not. In all honesty, NYer, I doubt if any of us, lurkers or otherwise, think anything we post on these caucus threads will cause a lightbulb to go off in the heads of the heterodox and present them with new charges to level against The Church. They seem to do quite well with traditional objections as we have seen. In any event, when we get to some of the finer points of doctrine and where the Fathers stood on those points, we all know the issues so its unlikely any outsider will come up with something we haven't already seen.
Don't worry about not posting Orthodox commentaries on these subjects. We will if we think they add something as we will similarly add primary source materials as necessary.
Devotional topics, at least a limited number of them, perhaps should not be joint. For example, as you know, Orthodoxy does not hold by the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. While that dogma per se might be a wonderful topic for a joint caucus, a devotional thread on it likely wouldn't be. See what I mean? Fatima is another such topic if the purpose of the thread is to discuss the subject in a devotional way. I am trying to think of an Orthodox topic which might fall into the same category, but right off the top of my head, I can't think of any.
A, K, what do you think?
"I also believe that they were responsible for altering the sign of the cross from right to left shoulder to left to right shoulder"
Really? Huh, I'd never heard that. Our priest once told us that the way the West makes the sign of the cross, left to right, is actually the way the priest makes the cross when he blesses the people in front of him. I watched him and sure enough, it is! Maybe the Visigoths got confused? :)
"( I have done it the Greek way now so long that I can get confused)"
I just succeeded in doing it the Western way...took a few seconds to get the hang of it!
"At the same time the Orthodox Church can expect a surge thanks to the liberation of the former Soviet Union and Western converts from certain failing Protestant communities of faith. This surge will put the Orthodox in an unprecedented for them level of contact with the Reformed mindset, and the Catholic experience in that regard will be helpful."
Indeed it will and already has. The potential danger to the Orthodox Church from sincere converts is apparent to some but by no means all priests or bishops.
"More broadly, as the Orthodox Church penetrates the secularized neopagan West, it will have to form political alliances with all confessions that stand in defense of traditional morality and for freedom of religion. Conservative Evangelicals will naturally be a part of that movement. Here again, the Catholic experience of dialogue and coexistence with the Protestantism will be of value to the Orthodox."
Ditto in the Eastern Catholic Churches.
Now that is a subject which has the potential to get contentious, but it is also the very subject of the present dialog among our hierarchs so it seems likely that they at least have decided that the topic is worth their time. Likely its also worth ours, contentious or not.
I like your train of thought :-)
One of the many aspects of Benedict XVI's writings and sayings that I find amazing is how they are simultaneously eastern and western, if you will.
And why not? The Church was one when the Early Church Fathers wrote. And, as you have pointed out, Benedict XVI is a patristic scholar (this may explain my observation above). IMHO, Benedict XVI's patristic scholarship is/was part of God's plan for him.
and the Orthodox East is listening, listening closer than the Latin West I sometimes believe.
Who really knows? There are literally millions of people in both Churches. Speaking only for myself, I have been listening much more closely to what Benedict has been saying than I ever did to JPII. I find Benedict XVI's words to be quite clear, articulate, eloquent and multileveled. When I read them again, I see things that I didn't before.
What do you think that Irenaeus meant when he used the word "tradition"? and how might his use of the term differ from what it means in your Church today?
...a Catholic Church, an Orthodox Faith.
I'll second that about Benedict. Wonderful that such a scholarly man is such a devout and scholarly man...
Kolo: Maybe the Visigoths got confused? :)
But it's still a sign of the cross! That's what matters.
[nb: earliest Christians probably did not make such a sign; they didn't even call themsleves Christians]
In fact, Latins used to use three fingers (open fashion) before going to the "full hand."
This "Latin" uses three fingers for the Sign of the Cross. :)
Traditional Catholic? Commendable.
It's something I picked up when I was investigating the Byzantine rite, before I started going to the Traditional Latin Mass.
Commendable in both cases. I can't say that I wouldn't follow in your steps if I were a Latin Catholic.
Which Ruthenian Byantine Parish did you attend? I think I might have been there a couple of times. St. Sharbel's, the Maronite one is soooo beautiful. I have heard that the Ibuna is a reader of souls. From what I have seen, I believe it.
Where abouts are you?
Obviously, I'm not allowed to respond...
The one thing I highly encourage both of you to think about is that many of the converts from other denominations bring over a lot of baggage. Some of the problems we are having in the LCMS are because of recent converts who wanted a more orthodox (little o) church but end up wanting it like the place they left.
I've often wondered about that. Your explanation makes perfect sense. Thanks.
I agree, but in fairness to Pope John Paul, he was ill for many years before his death. Still, Pope Benedict is brilliant.
We converted a small building to a chapel over on 82nd ave in SE portland. They them purchased Blessed Sacrament church off of Interstate Ave NE. and renamed it St. Irene's
I think that JPII's mind was just as lucid in his last years as it was earlier in his life. I did not mean to imply anything negative about him. I was just observing that I am drawn more strongly to Benedict XVI than I was to JPII. Your mileage may vary.
I apologize if I gave the impression that you were criticizing Pope John Paul. I confess I feel the same about Pope Benedict.
Okay, totally off the wall question, was there a red headed family that attended the small chapel back in the early 1990's?
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