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Sola Scriptura and the Early Church
http://www.christiantruth.com/articles/solascriptura.html ^ | William Webster

Posted on 12/31/2010 7:33:30 AM PST by bkaycee

The Reformation was responsible for restoring to the Church the principle of sola Scriptura, a principle which had been operative within the Church from the very beginning of the post apostolic age. Initially the apostles taught orally but with the close of the apostolic age all special revelation that God wanted preserved for man was codified in the written Scriptures. Sola Scriptura is the teaching and belief that there is only one special revelation from God that man possesses today, the written Scriptures or the Bible, and that consequently the Scriptures are materially sufficient and are by their very nature as being inspired by God the ultimate authority for the Church. This means that there is no portion of that revelation which has been preserved in the form of oral tradition independent of Scripture. The Council of Trent in the sixteenth century, on the other hand, declared that the revelation of God was not contained solely in the Scriptures. It was contained partly in the written Scriptures and partly in oral tradition and therefore the Scriptures were not materially sufficient. This was the universal view of Roman Catholic theologians for centuries after the Council of Trent and is the predominant view today. It is interesting to note, however, that in Roman Catholic circles today there is an ongoing debate among theologians on the nature of Tradition. There is no clear understanding of what Tradition is in Roman Catholicism. Some agree with Trent and some don't. But the view espoused by Trent is contradictory to and is a repudiation of the belief and practice of the Church of the patristic age. The early Church held to the principle of sola Scriptura in that it believed that all doctrine must be proven from Scripture and if such proof could not be produced the doctrine was to be rejected.

From the very beginning of the post apostolic age with the writings of what we know as the Apostolic Fathers we find an exclusive appeal to the Scriptures for the positive teaching of doctrine and for its defense against heresy. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers literally breathe with the spirit of the Old and New Testaments. With the writings of the Apologists such as Justin Martyr and Athenagoras in the early to mid second century we find the same thing. There is no appeal in any of these writings to the authority of Tradition as a separate and independent body of revelation. It is with the writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian in the mid to late second century that we first encounter the concept of Apostolic Tradition that is preserved in the Church in oral form. The word Tradition simply means teaching. But what do these fathers mean when they say this Apostolic Teaching or Tradition is preserved orally. All they mean is that the Bishops of the Church preach the truth orally and anyone interested in learning the true Apostolic Tradition could learn by simply listening to the oral teaching of the Bishops of any orthodox Church of the day. Irenaeus and Tertullian state emphatically that all the teaching of the Bishops that was given orally was rooted in Scripture and could be proven from the written Scriptures. Both fathers give us the actual doctrinal content of the Apostolic Tradition that was orally preached in the Churches and every doctrine is derived from Scripture. There is no doctrine in this Apostolic Tradition that is not found in Scripture. And there is no appeal in the writings of these fathers to a Tradition that is oral in nature for a defense of what they call Apostolic Tradition. The Apostolic Tradition for Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply Scripture. It was Irenaeus who stated that while the apostles at first preached orally their teaching was later committed to writing in the Scriptures and the Scriptures have since that day become the pillar and ground of our faith. His exact statement is as follows: "We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith" (Alexander Roberts & W.H. Rambaugh Translators, The Writings of Irenaeus, Against Heresies (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1874), 3.1.1). Tradition, when referring to oral proclamation such as preaching or teaching, was viewed primarily as the oral presentation of Scriptural truth, or the codifying of biblical truth into creedal expression.

Irenaeus and Tertullian had to contend with the Gnostics who were the very first to suggest and teach that they possessed an Apostolic oral Tradition that was independent from Scripture. These early fathers rejected such a notion and appealed to Scripture alone for the proclamation and defense of doctrine. Church historian, Ellen Flessman-Van Leer affirms this fact:

For Tertullian Scripture is the only means for refuting or validating a doctrine as regards its content...For Irenaeus, the church doctrine is certainly never purely traditional; on the contrary, the thought that there could be some truth, transmitted exclusively viva voce (orally), is a Gnostic line of thought...If Irenaeus wants to prove the truth of a doctrine materially, he turns to scripture, because therein the teaching of the apostles is objectively accessible. Proof from tradition and scripture serve one and the same end: to identify the teaching of the church as the original apostolic teaching. The first establishes that the teaching of the church is this apostolic teaching, and the second, what this apostolic teaching is (Ellen Flessman-van Leer, Tradition and Scripture in the Early Church (Van Gorcum, 1953, pp. 184, 133, 144).

The bible was the ultimate authority for the fathers of the patristic age. It was materially sufficient and the final arbiter in all matters of doctrinal truth. As JND Kelly has pointed out:

The clearest token of the prestige enjoyed by (Scripture) is the fact that almost the entire theological effort of the Fathers, whether their aims were polemical or constructive, was expended upon what amounted to the exposition of the Bible. Further, it was everywhere taken for granted that, for any doctrine to win acceptance, it had first to establish its Scriptural basis (Early Christian Doctrines (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1978), pp. 42, 46).

Heiko Oberman makes these comments about the relationship between Scripture and Tradition in the early Church:

Scripture and Tradition were for the early Church in no sense mutually exclusive: kerygma (the message of the gospel), Scripture and Tradition coincided entirely. The Church preached the kerygma which is found in toto in written form in the canonical books. The Tradition was not understood as an addition to the kerygma contained in Scripture but as handing down that same kerygma in living form: in other words everything was to be found in Scripture and at the same time everything was in living Tradition (The Harvest of Medieval Theology (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1963), p. 366).

That the fathers were firm believers in the principle of sola Scriptura is clearly seen from the writings of Cyril of Jerusalem, the bishop of Jerusalem in the mid fourth century. He is the author of what is known as the Catechetical Lectures. This work is an extensive series of lectures given to catechumens expounding the principle doctrines of the faith. It is a complete explanation of the faith of the Church of his day. And his teaching is thoroughly grounded in Scripture. There is in fact not one appeal in the entirety of the Lectures to an oral Apostolic Tradition that is independent of Scripture. He states in unequivocal terms that if he were to present any teaching to these catechumens which could not be validated from Scripture, they were to reject it. This tells us that his authority as a Bishop was subject to his conformity to the written Scriptures in his teaching. The following are some of his statements from the Lectures on the final autghority of Scripture:

This seal have thou ever on thy mind; which now by way of summary has been touched on in its heads, and if the Lord grant, shall hereafter be set forth according to our power, with Scripture-proofs. For concerning the divine and sacred Mysteries of the Faith, we ought not to deliver even the most casual remark without the Holy Scriptures: nor be drawn aside by mere probabilities and the artifices of argument. Do not then believe me because I tell thee these things, unless thou receive from the Holy Scriptures the proof of what is set forth: for this salvation, which is of our faith, is not by ingenious reasonings, but by proof from the Holy Scriptures (A Library of the Fathers of the Holy Catholic Church (Oxford: Parker, 1845), The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril 4.17).

But take thou and hold that faith only as a learner and in profession, which is by the Church delivered to thee, and is established from all Scripture. For since all cannot read the Scripture, but some as being unlearned, others by business, are hindered from the knowledge of them; in order that the soul may not perish for lack of instruction, in the Articles which are few we comprehend the whole doctrine of Faith...And for the present, commit to memory the Faith, merely listening to the words; and expect at the fitting season the proof of each of its parts from the Divine Scriptures. For the Articles of the Faith were not composed at the good pleasure of men: but the most important points chosen from all Scriptures, make up the one teaching of the Faith. And, as the mustard seed in a little grain contains many branches, thus also this Faith, in a few words, hath enfolded in its bosom the whole knowledge of godliness contained both in the Old and New Testaments. Behold, therefore, brethren and hold the traditions which ye now receive, and write them on the table of your hearts (Ibid., Lecture 5.12).

Notice here that Cyril states that these catechumens are receiving Tradition and he exhorts them to hold to the traditions which they are now receiving. Where is this Tradition derived from? It is obviously derived from the Scriptures. The Teaching or Tradition or Revelation of God which was committed to the Apostles and passed on to the Church is now accessible in Scripture ALONE. It is significant that Cyril of Jerusalem, who is communicating the entirety of the faith to these catechumens, did not make a single appeal to an oral Tradition to support his teachings. The entirety of the faith is grounded upon Scripture and Scripture alone. This principle is also enunciated by Gregory of Nyssa:

The generality of men still fluctuate in their opinions about this, which are as erroneous as they are numerous. As for ourselves, if the Gentile philosophy, which deals methodically with all these points, were really adequate for a demonstration, it would certainly be superfluous to add a discussion on the soul to those speculations, but while the latter proceeded, on the subject of the soul, as far in the direction of supposed consequences as the thinker pleased, we are not entitled to such license, I mean that of affirming what we please; we make the Holy Scriptures the rule and the measure of every tenet (dogma); we necessarily fix our eyes upon that, and approve that alone which may be made to harmonize with the intention of those writings. (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Peabody: Hendrikson, 1995), Second Series: Volume V, Philosophical Works, On the Soul And the Resurrection, p. 439).

Basil the Great, the bishop of Caesarea from 370 to 379 A.D., testifies to his belief in the all-sufficient nature of the Scriptures in these words taken from a letter he wrote to a widow:

Enjoying as you do the consolation of the Holy Scriptures, you stand in need neither of my assistance nor of that of anybody else to help you comprehend your duty. You have the all-sufficient counsel and guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead you to what is right (Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (Peabody: Hendrikson, 1995), Second Series: Volume VIII, Basil: Letters and Select Works, Letter CCLXXXIII, p. 312).

These fathers are simply representative of the fathers as a whole. Cyprian, Origen, Hippolytus, Athanasius, Firmilian, Augustine are just a few of the fathers that could be cited as proponents of the principle of sola Scriptura, in addition to Tertullian, Irenaeus, Cyril and Gregory of Nyssa. The early Church operated on the basis of the principle of sola scriptura and it was this historical principle that the Reformers sought to restore to the Church.

The extensive use of Scripture by the fathers of the early Church from the very beginning are seen in the following facts:

Irenaeus: He knew Polycarp who was a disciple of the apostle John. He lived from @ 130 to 202 A.D. He quotes from 24 of the 27 books of the New Testament. He makes over 1800 quotes from the New Testament alone.

Clement of Alexandria: He lived from 150 to 215 A.D. He cites all the New Testament books except Philemon, James and 2 Peter. He gives 2400 citations from the New Testament.

Tertullian: He lived from 160 to 220 A.D. He makes over 7200 New Testament citations.

Origen: He lived from 185 to 254 A.D. he succeeded Clement of Alexandria at the Catechetical school at Alexandria. he makes nearly 18,000 New Testament citations.

By the end of the third century virtually the entire New Testament could be reconstructed from the writings of the Church fathers. Norman Geisler and William Nix sum up the position of the New Testament Scriptures in the early Church in these words: "In summary, the first hundred years of the existence of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament reveal that virtually every one of them was quoted as authoritative and recognised as canonical by men who were themselves the younger contemporaries of the apostolic age" (Norman Geisler and William Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody, 1980), p. 190).

B.F. Wescott comes to a similar conclusion: "With the exception of the Epistle to the Hebrews, the two shorter Epistles of St John, the second Epistle of St Peter, the Epistles of St James and St Jude, and the Apocalypse, all the other books of the New Testament are acknowledged as Apostolic and authoritative throughout the Church as the close of the second century. The evidence of the great Fathers by which the Church is represented varies in respect of these disputed books, but the Canon of the acknowledged books is established by their common consent. Thus the testimony on which it rests is not gathered from one quarter but from many, and those the most widely separated by position and character. It is given, not as a private opinion, but as an unquestioned fact: not as a late discovery, but as an original tradition (B.F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (Cambridge: Macmillan, 1889), pp. 337-338).

It is true that the early Church held to the concept of Traditon as referring to ecclesiastical customs and practices and that they often believed that such practices were actually handed down from the Apostles even though could not necessarily be validated from the Scriptures. But these practices did not involve the doctrines of the faith and were often contradictory among different segments of the Church. An example of this is found early on in the second century in the controversy over when to celebrate Easter. Certain Eastern churches celebrated it on a certain day, while the West celebrated it on a different one, but both claimed that their particular practice was handed down to them directly from the Apostles. It actually led to conflict with the Bishop of Rome who was demanding that the Eastern fathers submit to the Western parctice. This they refused to do firmly believing that they were adhering to Apostolic Tradition. Which one is correct? There is no way to ascertain which, if either, was truly of Apostolic origin. It is interesting, however, to note that one of the proponents for the Eastern view was Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. And there are other examples of this sort of claim in Church history. Just because a particular Church father claims that a particular practice is of Apostolic origin does not mean that it necessarily is. All it means is that he believes it was. But there is no way to verify if in fact it truly was a tradition from the apostles. There are numerous practices which the early Church engaged in which they believed were of Apostolic origin which are listed for us by Basil the Great which no one in the Church practices today. So clearly, such appeals to oral Apostolic Tradition are meaningless.

The Roman Catholic Church states that it possesses an oral Apostolic Tradition which is independent of Scripture and which is binding upon men. It appeals to Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 for the justification for such a claim, where Paul states that he handed on traditions or teachings to this Chruch in both oral and written form. Rome asserts that, based on Paul's teaching in this passage, the teaching of sola Scriptura is false, since he handed on teachings to the Thessalonians in both oral and written form. But what is interesting in such an appeal is that Roman apologists never document the specific doctrines that Paul is referring to which they claim they possess and which are binding upon men. In all the writings of apologists from the Reformation to the present day no one has been able to list the doctrines that comprise this supposed Apostolic Oral Tradition. From Francis De Sales to the writings of Karl Keating and Robert Sungenis there is this conspicuous absence. Sungenis is editor of a work recently released on a defense of the Roman Catholic teaching of Tradition entitled Not By Scripture Alone. It is touted as a definitive refutation of the Protestant teaching of sola Scriptura. It is 627 pages in length. But not once in the entire 627 pages does any author define the doctrinal content of this supposed Apostolic Tradition that is binding on all men. All we are told is that it exists, that the Roman Catholic Church possesses it, and that we are bound therefore to submit to this Church which alone possesses the fulness of God's revelation from the Apostles. But they can't tell us what it is. And the reason is because it doesn't exist. If they are of such importance why did Cyril of Jerusalem not mention them in his Catechetical Lectures? I defy anyone to list the doctrines Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 which he says he committed orally to the Thessalonians.

The Roman Catholic authority on Tradition, Yves Congar, makes this interesting observation about the nature of revelation from the Old Testament dispensation:

Revelation is a disclosure of his mystery which God makes to men...a disclosure through created signs, guaranteed by God not to mislead us, though they may be very imperfect. These signs are events, realities, actions and words; but ultimately, at least as regards the Old Covenant, the events and actions are known to us only in words, and written words at that: the writings of sacred Scripture (Yves Congar, Tradition and Traditions (New York: Macmillan, 1966), p. 238).

Yves Congar readily admits the principle of sola Scriptura with regard to the Old Testament. The only revelation we possess of that dispensation is the written Scriptures, even though prophets from the very beginning preached and taught orally. Protestants are simply saying that the same principle applies to the New Testament dispensation. To paraphrase Congar: God's revelation in the New Testament dispensation is known to us only in words, and written words at that: the writings of sacred Scripture. The only special revelation man possesses today from God that was committed to the Apostles is the written Scriptures of the New Testament. This was the belief and practice of the Church of the patristic age and was the principle adhered to by the Reformers which they sought to restore to the Church after doctrinal corruption had entered through the door of Tradition. The teaching of a separate body of Apostolic revelation known as Tradition which is oral in nature originated, not with the Christian Church, but with Gnosticism. This was an attempt by the gnostics to bolster their authority by asserting that the Scriptures were not sufficient. They stated that they possessed the fullness of apostolic revelation because they not only had the written revelation of the apostles in the Scriptures but also their oral tradition, and the key for interpreting and understanding that revelation. Just as the early fathers repudiated this teaching and claim by an exclusive reliance upon and appeal to the written Scriptures, so must we.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Evangelical Christian; History; Theology
KEYWORDS: solascriptura
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1 posted on 12/31/2010 7:33:32 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: bkaycee

Wow. All those words, and the point remains missed.


2 posted on 12/31/2010 7:38:18 AM PST by r9etb
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To: r9etb

lol. Very well said, r9etb.


3 posted on 12/31/2010 7:40:49 AM PST by sayuncledave (A cruce salus)
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To: bkaycee

The Holy Bible has the answer and tradition has always led to false doctrine because it is changed by those who were given charge to keep and teach it, many who were apostate or unbelievers. Only Scripture should be used to determine the Doctrine of Christ Jesus our Lord and so many traditions are the exact opposite of Biblical Scriptural doctrines. So dangerous.

2 Ti. 3:
16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Timothy 3:
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come . 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded , lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away . 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning , and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further : for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was . 10 But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11 Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured : but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution . 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse , deceiving , and being deceived . 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of , knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.


4 posted on 12/31/2010 8:01:02 AM PST by kindred (Come Lord Jesus, rule and reign over all thine enemies.)
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To: bkaycee
Irenaeus and Tertullian state emphatically that all the teaching of the Bishops that was given orally was rooted in Scripture and could be proven from the written Scriptures. Both fathers give us the actual doctrinal content of the Apostolic Tradition that was orally preached in the Churches and every doctrine is derived from Scripture. There is no doctrine in this Apostolic Tradition that is not found in Scripture. And there is no appeal in the writings of these fathers to a Tradition that is oral in nature for a defense of what they call Apostolic Tradition. The Apostolic Tradition for Irenaeus and Tertullian is simply Scripture.

All A (teaching of the Church Fathers) is B(from Scripture).

Okay.

"He [Jesus] came to save all through himself; all, I say, who through him are reborn in God: infants, and children, and youths, and old men. Therefore he passed through every age, becoming an infant for infants, sanctifying infants; a child for children, sanctifying those who are of that age . . . [so that] he might be the perfect teacher in all things, perfect not only in respect to the setting forth of truth, perfect also in respect to relative age" (Against Heresies 2:22:4 [A.D. 189])."

Therefore, infant baptism, which Irenaeus clearly taught, is scriptural.

5 posted on 12/31/2010 8:10:54 AM PST by cizinec
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To: bkaycee

You use a non-Catholic site to try to prove a point about the Catholic Church?

Won’t wash at all.


6 posted on 12/31/2010 8:11:33 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: bkaycee
How Old Is Your Church?
7 posted on 12/31/2010 8:12:34 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: bkaycee
Thanks for posting this, a really good read.

I'm not sure that those who find comfort in an ever changing revelation that conforms to the culture of the day will like it.

8 posted on 12/31/2010 8:18:25 AM PST by wmfights (If you want change support SenateConservatives.com)
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To: Kolokotronis

This again.

The statement and implication that the early Church relied on the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura is an absolute fabrication, intended to provide cover and to and reinforce one theologically innovative point of view. The premises regarding the history of the Church from the post-Apostolic era to the Reformation are simply false. Ahistorical nonsense.

But I suppose that the focus on Trent here is proof enough to demonstrate galactically proportioned ignorance of Church history. The article ignores the fact that the first written record of the Canon of New Testament scripture (as it continues to be accepted today) was in the Paschal Letter of +Athanasius of Alexandria in 367. This date falls between the First Ecumenical Council at Nicea (325) and the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople (381).

Furthermore, the Bible that the Apostles used, and the scriptures referred to in the New Testament were the Hebrew Scriptures. Specifically the Septuagint, as the Masoretic didn’t exist. And the Hebrew faith was hardly sola scriptura. Midrash, anyone?

Sola scriptura = solus ego. That really is the point, isn’t it?

Lord, have mercy. WHY DO I CONTINUE TO COME HERE?


9 posted on 12/31/2010 8:19:54 AM PST by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: kindred

The only Scripture available to Timothy was the Talmud.

Therefore, we don’t need those silly Gospels or 2 Timothy, for that matter. We have all we need in the Talmud. Stop eating pork and make sure you don’t use the same pan for cooking meat and milk.

See you at synagogue!

Oh wait. I understand that the Scriptures are from the Holy Spirit working THROUGH the saints (i.e., Holy Tradition, which, btw, is what Athanasius was arguing). I guess you’ll have to go to synagogue and give up pork and shellfish without me.


10 posted on 12/31/2010 8:21:59 AM PST by cizinec
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To: wmfights
I'm not sure that those who find comfort in an ever changing revelation that conforms to the culture of the day will like it.

Matthew 10:34
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." ;)

11 posted on 12/31/2010 8:22:48 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: Salvation

Your list is close.

One correction:

Roman Catholicism 1054.

Orthodox Church - Beginning of time.

Now it’s fixed. ;)


12 posted on 12/31/2010 8:25:55 AM PST by cizinec
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To: Salvation
How Old Is Your Church

It's pretty old. I think in and around 4 thousand years.

Rom 4:16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.”

13 posted on 12/31/2010 8:34:41 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: bkaycee
......"Doctrinal corruption had entered through the door of Tradition."

The teaching of a separate body of Apostolic revelation known as Tradition... which is oral in nature.... originated, not with the Christian Church, but with Gnosticism.

This was an attempt by the gnostics to bolster their authority by asserting that the Scriptures were not sufficient....... They stated that they possessed the fullness of apostolic revelation because they not only had the written revelation of the apostles in the Scriptures but also their oral tradition,..... and the key for interpreting and understanding that revelation.

Just as the early fathers repudiated this teaching and claim by an exclusive reliance upon and appeal to the written Scriptures, so must we.....

Great read!.....Gnostics today make the same claims that they did at the time of the Reformation...unfortunately many do so bearing the badge of Christianity. Somehow they believe they can have one foot on both sides of the fence. It would appear some do not go far enough back in History for the Truth of what the forefathers actually believed, in sola scripture, rather Traditions infilitrated the church later on and today many remain.

14 posted on 12/31/2010 8:38:36 AM PST by caww
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To: bkaycee
Amen

You don't have to hold a doctorate in theology to understand that written information is much harder to change than oral information. It seems to me that for Christians the real discussion is about the accuracy of the translation, not what some guys make up in a back room.

Notice how the discussion changes to who's church is older and then quoting theologians who developed new doctrines not found in Scripture. It illustrates why Scripture must be the final authority.

As far as the nonsense about existing from the beginning, every Christian Church has the same claim. The Christians in the era immediately following the end of the Apostolic Era were not bound by a coercive centralized hierarchy, but were unified by a common faith. All Evangelicals hold to the same Gospel they did and are in unison with them because of it. It is the belief in The Gospel that makes us a part of the Body of Christ.

15 posted on 12/31/2010 8:38:57 AM PST by wmfights (If you want change support SenateConservatives.com)
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To: r9etb

I thought the point was very clear and precise....and an excellant read.


16 posted on 12/31/2010 8:40:13 AM PST by caww
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To: Yudan
Your comments seem to imply that you have not the slightest clue as to what is meant by Sola Scriptura and prefer to torch your own straw man.

Can you define Sola Scriptura?

17 posted on 12/31/2010 8:40:33 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: bkaycee
Since Scripture was not assembled in its current form until the Councils of 397 to 402 and Irenaeus live in the 2nd Century, how could his meaning of Scripture correlate with the present day definition of Scripture?

To assert Sola Scriptura was the operative thought of the patristic age is unwarranted exercise of poor scholarship and or prideful interpretation of history.

Indeed, Elaine Pagels of Princeton University in her book the Gnostic Gospels uses Irenaeus to denigrate the Church as perverting the message of Christianity. Thus , the reference of any patristic father to scripture would not have a similar definition as it has today and must be viewed in an entirely different context.

18 posted on 12/31/2010 8:43:11 AM PST by bronx2 (while Jesus is the Alpha /Omega He has given us rituals which you reject to obtain the graces as to)
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To: bkaycee
Very interesting. The following paragragh from the article is a subject I have seen many on FR ask the RCC's and there is still no answer?

The Roman Catholic Church states that it possesses an oral Apostolic Tradition which is independent of Scripture and which is binding upon men. It appeals to Paul's statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 for the justification for such a claim, where Paul states that he handed on traditions or teachings to this Chruch in both oral and written form. Rome asserts that, based on Paul's teaching in this passage, the teaching of sola Scriptura is false, since he handed on teachings to the Thessalonians in both oral and written form. But what is interesting in such an appeal is that Roman apologists never document the specific doctrines that Paul is referring to which they claim they possess and which are binding upon men. In all the writings of apologists from the Reformation to the present day no one has been able to list the doctrines that comprise this supposed Apostolic Oral Tradition. From Francis De Sales to the writings of Karl Keating and Robert Sungenis there is this conspicuous absence. Sungenis is editor of a work recently released on a defense of the Roman Catholic teaching of Tradition entitled Not By Scripture Alone. It is touted as a definitive refutation of the Protestant teaching of sola Scriptura. It is 627 pages in length. But not once in the entire 627 pages does any author define the doctrinal content of this supposed Apostolic Tradition that is binding on all men. All we are told is that it exists, that the Roman Catholic Church possesses it, and that we are bound therefore to submit to this Church which alone possesses the fulness of God's revelation from the Apostles. But they can't tell us what it is. And the reason is because it doesn't exist. If they are of such importance why did Cyril of Jerusalem not mention them in his Catechetical Lectures? I defy anyone to list the doctrines Paul is referring to in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 which he says he committed orally to the Thessalonians.

19 posted on 12/31/2010 8:45:46 AM PST by Vegasrugrat
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To: caww; bkaycee
Great read!.....Gnostics today make the same claims that they did at the time of the Reformation...unfortunately many do so bearing the badge of Christianity.

Isn't it stunning how some things never change. The ideas just get dressed up differently, but they go back to the beginning.

I'm really struck by how those that reject Sola Scriptura seek to recreate the law as the means through which the individual is justified. The mechanism is "tradition", which conveniently can't be scrutinized because it's never been in Scripture.

20 posted on 12/31/2010 8:46:10 AM PST by wmfights (If you want change support SenateConservatives.com)
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To: bkaycee

You didn’t read the thread, did you. LOL!


21 posted on 12/31/2010 8:50:04 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: kindred
Ever learning , and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

I think that some do so not to seek the Lord but to feed their desire to be known as knowlegable in religious matters, or attain position within the church body,... but their hearts are empty and far from Him. It is no wonder that God, more times than not, choose those who were NOT knowledgable in religious matters in order to have "teachable" individuals. There is a huge difference between pouring over vast volumes of literature and writings and that of meeting with the Lord in His Word....for it is there He does speak to the heart, mind and soul. It becomes 'personal' then.

22 posted on 12/31/2010 8:54:50 AM PST by caww
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To: Salvation

So then it is true catholics will only accept writings approved by the Vatican?


23 posted on 12/31/2010 8:56:23 AM PST by caww
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To: wmfights
I'm really struck by how those that reject Sola Scriptura seek to recreate the law as the means through which the individual is justified. The mechanism is "tradition", which conveniently can't be scrutinized because it's never been in Scripture.

Absolutely, Rome has been marching back with the Judiazers for MANY years, halting finally and irreformably at Trent.

24 posted on 12/31/2010 8:58:13 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: Salvation

Which thread do you mean?


25 posted on 12/31/2010 9:01:18 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: bkaycee

“By scripture alone.” Has another definition evolved, bk? That would be interesting.

The problem with what it has become, is that it has FAR outstripped what Luther and the other Reformers had in mind. Luther did not want to abandon Holy Tradition willy-nilly. He merely wanted to clean the Church of Rome of the corruption that infected it in the 16th century. Luther didn’t believe that Holy Tradition was corrupt, per se, but that the Church of Rome was defending corrupt practices via hiding behind its authority and tradition. THAT’S what he was trying to do. And they excommunicated him for it.

It is the more radical Reformers that took it to the extreme and attempted to cleanse any aspect of Christian Tradition which did not appear in the Bible from the practice of the Faith.

For instance, there are some Campbellites that don’t celebrate Christmas...because it isn’t in the Bible.

My point is a simple one. The Church existed between Pentecost and 1517. Its history during those years is rich, and deeply recorded for all who wish to see.

BTW, I am not a Roman Catholic.


26 posted on 12/31/2010 9:05:28 AM PST by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: Salvation

My church is as old as Christ....for He is and has been the head of the body of believers no matter what building or place of worship they choose. I think it’s written that Antioch, where Christians met together, was the place where believers were first called Christians...followers of Christ. So that would indicate the beginning of the church. The roots of Christianity grew from those who gathered there and the Disciple’s Christ appointed to carry His message...and continues to present the Gospel of Christ today.


27 posted on 12/31/2010 9:06:07 AM PST by caww
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To: caww; Salvation
So then it is true catholics will only accept writings approved by the Vatican?

I might be somewhat gun shy trusting the Vaticans approval process after they accepted the forgeries known as the Pseudo–Isidorian Decretals, The Donation of Constantine and the Liber Pontificalis.

28 posted on 12/31/2010 9:11:48 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: Yudan; cizinec
From our Holy and God Bearing Father Athanasius the Great:

"It will not be out of place to consider the ancient tradition, teaching and faith of the Catholic Church, which was revealed by the Lord, proclaimed by the apostles and guarded by the fathers. For upon this faith The Church is built, and if anyone were to lapse from it, he would no longer be a Christian either in fact or in name." First Letter to Serapion, sec 28 (359-360 AD).

And from +John Chrysostomos, commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2:15:

"So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word, or by Epistle of ours."

Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther."

29 posted on 12/31/2010 9:11:52 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: bkaycee

Good read. I need to read more early church history to be able to articulate the sufficiency and sole authority of scripture. My natural inclination to mistrust men and their rules over against my Lord’s word has always been buttressed by both the bible and its history.


30 posted on 12/31/2010 9:18:24 AM PST by strongbow
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To: caww
I thought the point was very clear and precise....and an excellant read.

Here's what's wrong with the article. Suppose I ask you to pick a passage of Scripture and tell me what it means. Now suppose it's one of those passages about which there has been centuries of debate and argument.

The obvious point is that, despite the claim, Scripture often does not interpret itself. The meaning of Scripture is very often not self-evident, particularly where prophecy is concerned.

Which interpretation is correct?

If you look at the process, you'll find that the various interpretations are basically in accord with differing hermeneutics, or theories of interpretation.

Even among groups that hold to "Sola Scriptura," there are different hermeneutics, which roughly correspond to the various differences in doctrine that have led to the proliferation of denominations.

And to be quite blunt, each of those hermeneutic approaches represents a tradition of Biblical interpretation -- the very thing our author denies.

It's all very well to talk about Sola Scriptura, but in reality it's an impossible doctrine.

31 posted on 12/31/2010 9:25:26 AM PST by r9etb
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To: bkaycee

The early Christian Church went through a period of persecutions, many true believers died for their believing in Christ. Oddly enough there many false teachings that cropped up within the Church, the Apostle Paul writes of them in the Pauline Epistles. However than the Roman Emperors decided to crush Christians and Jews alike - the goal to stamp out Judaiasm and Christianity. God perservered through the persecution and the church survived the Church Fathers strived to maintain a proper church tradition by refuting the books that became Known as the apocphrya. Like anythime man gets involved church tradition becomes polluted. Yes Martin Luther wanted to purge the church during the reformation of the abuses that the church accepted. In doing so, he was excommunicated his desire was to maintain unity. There were others in the Protestant reformation that radicalized the reformation to bring in diverse views and theological practices.

Keep in mind no church that has man involved will be perfect, because man in his sinful nature will make for the church to become something other than God intended it to become. The church of today in the US is a business, it is not going about God’s work- it is going about the works of man. thanks for the article on sola scriptura, look also at sola fide (faith) the belief scripture is grounded in ones faith in God.


32 posted on 12/31/2010 9:28:52 AM PST by hondact200 (Candor dat viribos alas (sincerity gives wings to strength) and Nil desperandum (never despair))
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To: wmfights; Yudan; cizinec
"The Christians in the era immediately following the end of the Apostolic Era were not bound by a coercive centralized hierarchy, but were unified by a common faith."

wf, no doubt your forebears rebelled against a "coercive centralized hierarchy" in the West and by the 15th century. But that has not been the history of The Church east of the Adriatic. It may be why there was no Reformation there. As a matter of historical fact, Christians immediately following the Apostolic era were indeed bound together by a common faith, united together with their clergy centered on the bishop celebrating the Holy Eucharist. We know this from multiple late 1st century and very early 2nd century writings, those of +Clement of Rome and +Ignatius of Antioch being the foremost, at least in my opinion.

wf, you work with a group of Orthodox. Do you think they'd let some bishop or priest get away with changing their Holy Tradition? Americans have made a fetish of shedding traditions of all kinds, to the detriment of our society in many cases. But people from other places think differently and tradition is fundamental to their lives and societies. The Orthodox mindset, or worldview, is the same and change is simply rejected; that's why I can say that an ancestor of mine from, say, 400, if he showed up at the Liturgy this evening, would recognize immediately what was going on. He'd likely even know the majority of the prayers. Because lex orandi, lex credendi, he and I would believe virtually the exact same things. We don't allow and haven't allowed anyone to mess that up. No form of Western Christianity, whether it be the Latin Church or the various Protestant ecclesial groups, has that mindset.

33 posted on 12/31/2010 9:34:15 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Yudan
“By scripture alone.” Has another definition evolved, bk? That would be interesting.

Sounds like your refering to "solo Scriptura" another topic.

The problem with what it has become, is that it has FAR outstripped what Luther and the other Reformers had in mind. Luther did not want to abandon Holy Tradition willy-nilly. He merely wanted to clean the Church of Rome of the corruption that infected it in the 16th century. Luther didn’t believe that Holy Tradition was corrupt, per se, but that the Church of Rome was defending corrupt practices via hiding behind its authority and tradition. THAT’S what he was trying to do. And they excommunicated him for it.

Certainly, I would agree, but again the topic was ECF's and Sola Scriptura, not modern missunderstanding of Sola Scriptura.

My point is a simple one. The Church existed between Pentecost and 1517. Its history during those years is rich, and deeply recorded for all who wish to see.
Certainly, the reformers accepted the first 3 ecumenical councils and some "little" t tradition as well. Again, solo scriptura is really another topic.
34 posted on 12/31/2010 9:36:16 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: bkaycee
Sounds like your refering to "solo Scriptura" another topic.

I don't think it's a different topic at all. What's the difference between "Solo" and "Sola" in this context? The author seems to treat them as if they're the very same thing -- at least, where it's convenient for his point to do so.

35 posted on 12/31/2010 9:42:06 AM PST by r9etb
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To: bkaycee
1Jn 5:9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
36 posted on 12/31/2010 9:56:29 AM PST by Lera
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To: Kolokotronis; Yudan; cizinec
wf, no doubt your forebears rebelled against a "coercive centralized hierarchy" in the West and by the 15th century. But that has not been the history of The Church east of the Adriatic.

As usual you bring something interesting to the discussion.

As a matter of historical fact, Christians immediately following the Apostolic era were indeed bound together by a common faith,...

You might want to pass this on to your RC brothers and sisters. I don't think they got the memo.

...united together with their clergy centered on the bishop celebrating the Holy Eucharist.

There is a great deal of debate about when this began to occur. The office of Bishop only developed after the number of Christian Churches (mostly house churches) had grown dramatically. The clergy were still being selected by the individual churches. It was in the 2nd century that a hierarchy began to develop and Scripture began to be disregarded as the rule of the faith.

wf, you work with a group of Orthodox. Do you think they'd let some bishop or priest get away with changing their Holy Tradition?

They are less inclined than their RC counter parts, but in the end they follow the party line. The EO have fallen into the same trap as the RC, only to a lesser degree, because they have accepted "tradition" as an equal of Scripture.

that's why I can say that an ancestor of mine from, say, 400, if he showed up at the Liturgy this evening, would recognize immediately what was going on.

Then the question the EO should be asking is how different are your religious services from the Apostolic Era and the generations immediately following.

37 posted on 12/31/2010 10:05:12 AM PST by wmfights (If you want change support SenateConservatives.com)
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To: bkaycee
BK, I've never heard of "solo" scriptura. I had to look it up. If nothing else, it's grammatically incorrect Latin. And upon reading, that's the least of its errors.

The Reformers rebelled against the post-schism Church of Rome. You stated that they accept the first three Councils, which (in order)

1. Established the Creed and rejected Arianism;

2. Clarified the creed into its present (non-philioque) form; and

3. Renounced Nestorianism and proclaimed it appropriate to refer to Mary as Θεοτόκος, or Theotokos.

I can see no reason why they would reject the subsequent 4 councils, but, oh, well. Much of the Protestantism that I grew up with was simply a rejection of anything Roman.

You do know that a group of Lutheran scholars reached out to the Patriarch of Constantinople in the late 16th century?

38 posted on 12/31/2010 10:07:04 AM PST by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: bkaycee

Jesus ended the OT exclusive reliance on scripture by choosing to be born a man and teaching through people, promising to be with them until the end of time. Sola scriptura is a political device to justify the reformation.


39 posted on 12/31/2010 10:07:38 AM PST by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory")
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To: r9etb; Yudan
Sola vs. Solo, not a bad article.

http://fruitoftheword.com/2009/07/30/sola-scriptura-versus-solo-scripture/

40 posted on 12/31/2010 10:10:40 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: r9etb
It's all very well to talk about Sola Scriptura, but in reality it's an impossible doctrine.

Most can and do rely on and trust the Lord for discerning Historical truth, or not, when it comes to the formation of the church as it's moved thru the ages. With so many Historians writing their versions of times and events it is no surprise people will differ.

The problems generally have been and continue to this day which "group" has it right or not...and each who claim they do. If we look at the Seven churches addressed in Revelations we see each one at differing places of growth and development. Christ had words for each depending on where they were in their adherence to what was required of them ....and that varied very much......

This is so in the non-catholic Denominations, even the individual churches...but it is the same Spirit over each addressing their issues and leading them. The catholic belief is they must abide by the dictates of the Pope and Vatican. That is where we differ so. Thus IMO the Spirit of God is stifled from mvoing within each congregation as He sees fit...the "Law of the Vatican" stands above the truth Christ might otherwise reveal.

My experience in Scriptures is that Christ does indeed use His word to interpret what is written. Often times in some very remarkable ways...... But never before an individual is ready...or willing to accept it. Each varies on what they can digest and the order Christ intends to reveal. It's His call for He knows our minds as well as our condition to accept.

Hermeneutics..and theories...speculation and various approaches to how one interprets the scriptures in and of itself becomes a hot topic. IMO Christ can and does very well in revealing to those who seek Him and His way no matter what their approach...if indeed they desire the truth.

The idea of this article was and remains that of the final authority being the scripture over and above the traditions of men...and Jesus was clear about teaching mans traditions.

41 posted on 12/31/2010 10:22:35 AM PST by caww
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To: Yudan
I can see no reason why they would reject the subsequent 4 councils, but, oh, well. Much of the Protestantism that I grew up with was simply a rejection of anything Roman.

Sorry, my, error, Most protestants accept the first 7.

42 posted on 12/31/2010 10:25:09 AM PST by bkaycee
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To: wmfights; Kolokotronis; cizinec
"The office of Bishop only developed after the number of Christian Churches (mostly house churches) had grown dramatically."

Certainly the structure evolved as the Church grew and the necessity for layers of administration became greater, but the word ἐπίσκοπος, "episcopos", or "overseer" appears in at least the following places in the New Testament:

Acts 1:20

Acts 20:28

Philippians 1:1

First Timothy 3:2

Titus 1:7

First Peter 2:25

That's pretty good evidence that a hierarchy was in place when the Apostles trod the earth. It's also fairly clear from scripture and the Fathers that when the local elders did something without consulting the guidance of the Apostles, they got metaphorically slapped around for it.

43 posted on 12/31/2010 10:37:08 AM PST by Yudan (Living comes much easier once we admit we're dying.)
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To: Lera

1Jn 5:9.....” If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater:..... for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.”

Enjoyed that scripture reference..thank you for posting that.


44 posted on 12/31/2010 10:45:44 AM PST by caww
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To: Yudan
For instance, there are some Campbellites that don’t celebrate Christmas...because it isn’t in the Bible.

However, the celebration of Christmas does not CONFLICT withe the sense of Scripture.

That's the problem. The teaching of the church should of course be embraced if it it attuned to the spirit of scripture. If church teaching or practice conflicts with Scripture it should be rejected.

45 posted on 12/31/2010 10:46:49 AM PST by what's up
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To: wmfights
Notice how the discussion changes to who's church is older and then quoting theologians who developed new doctrines not found in Scripture. It illustrates why Scripture must be the final authority.

Yes, I noticed that as well. It generally happens though. But as you stated..."illustrates why Scripture must be the final authority".

You know there are more than numerous "voices" thru the ages of Christinaity.... Jesus told us to "watch" repeatedly. Many leave the centrality of Christ and bring into the church (as numerous) "other" practices and beliefs Jesus never spoke about.

It's like the Liberals trying to ignore and/or change the constitution to be something other than what it states. They claim it doesn't address our times and is "hard" to understand, when in fact it is quite clear to those who accept it. Those who don't struggle with understanding because they simply cannot accept what it clearly is.

46 posted on 12/31/2010 10:58:02 AM PST by caww
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To: wmfights; Yudan; cizinec
"The EO have fallen into the same trap as the RC, only to a lesser degree, because they have accepted "tradition" as an equal of Scripture."

It's not a matter of Holy Tradition being superior to Scripture, rather Scripture is part of the Holy Tradition of The Church. It was Holy Tradition which those Greek speaking bishops in the 4th century used to measure the theological quality and Apostolic pedigree of the many writings contending for a place in the universal canon of Scripture for the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, as the God Bearing Fathers of the the 2nd Ecumenical Council called it.

"Then the question the EO should be asking is how different are your religious services from the Apostolic Era and the generations immediately following."

Well, close and not so close. The earliest liturgy in use is the Divine Liturgy of +James which is used almost exclusively in the Patriarchate of Jerusalem. I've only seen it once and it is quite similar to our regular Sunday liturgy. It is very very long, hours long. The Church speculates that it dates from about 60-70 AD but it has clearly been updated with Trinitarian theology as it developed in the 4th century. Personally, I think the anaphorae are 1st century. The Liturgy we will celebrate tonight, the Divine Liturgy of +Basil the Great is a relative late comer, being from the 300s. So the same, no, but sort of a generation or two removed from what they were celebrating in Jerusalem in, say, 75 AD.

47 posted on 12/31/2010 11:06:11 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: what's up; Yudan
"If church teaching or practice conflicts with Scripture it should be rejected."

Or one's personal interpretation of Scripture should be examined to see if it is itself correct. It was Church teaching and practice which was used to determine what Scripture went into the canon and what didn't. To the extent that you see an innovative teaching or practice, remember what The Church taught and believed in the late 4th century and then see if the new teaching or praxis passes muster with that standard, not what you think or the local Rev. said last Sunday. By this I do not mean that it must be exactly the same, though that is safest, but rather see if the new idea or practice is just a different package on a traditional belief.

48 posted on 12/31/2010 11:15:05 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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To: Kolokotronis
To the extent that you see an innovative teaching or practice, remember what The Church taught and believed in the late 4th century and then see if the new teaching or praxis passes muster with that standard, not what you think or the local Rev. said last Sunday

It is far superior to measure an innovative teaching or what the Rev. taught against Scripture instead.

We can use other sources to help us but even the early church fathers did not elevate their own sayings/writings/teachings to the level of scripture, obviously knowing the Canon of Scripture was superior and rightly termed the Word of God where the works of the early church fathers are not.

49 posted on 12/31/2010 11:26:56 AM PST by what's up
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To: what's up; Yudan; wmfights
"It is far superior to measure an innovative teaching or what the Rev. taught against Scripture instead." It's not "instead", it's "both". Measuring it only against Scripture as a practical matter means only against one's own personal interpretation of Scripture. To me, and meaning no offense to my Latin brothers and sisters, that makes about as much sense to me as papal infallibility does. In any event, that's no standard at all, wu. This is why it is always safe to measure against what the canon was measured against, 4th century Holy Tradition of The Church. "even the early church fathers did not elevate their own sayings/writings/teachings to the level of scripture, obviously knowing the Canon of Scripture was superior and rightly termed the Word of God where the works of the early church fathers are not."

Indeed they did not. They were very careful to support their positions by reference to Scripture. And even they erred. This is why we speak of the "consensus patrum" as the standard against which we measure the orthodoxy of the teachings of individual Fathers.

50 posted on 12/31/2010 11:46:18 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated)
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