Skip to comments.On Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition
Posted on 11/11/2006 8:16:16 AM PST by annalex
On Holy Scripture
Ch. 2 from
The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the
True Christianity, By
Elder Cleopa of Romania
Inquirer: What do we mean by the term Holy Scripture?
Elder Cleopa: The term Holy Scripture denotes the sum of holy books that were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit within a time period of close to 1,500 years, namely, from Moses, 1,400 years before Christ, until the writer of the Apocalypse, nearly 100 years after Christ.
Inq.: Why dont the bishops and priests sanction Christians, who are members of the Church, to interpret and preach publicly the word of God from the Scriptures?
EC: Each Christian has the need to read Holy Scripture, yet each Christian does not also have the authority or ability to teach and interpret the words of Scripture. This privileged authority is reserved for the Church via its holy clergy and theologians, men who are instructed in and knowledgeable of the true faith. When we consider how our Saviour gave the grace of teaching to His Holy Apostles (Mat. 28:20) and not to the masses it is easy for us to see that the prerogative to teach is held only by the bishops, priests and theologians of our Church. It was the Apostles who were sent by Christ to teach and to celebrate the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). Our Apostle Paul says: How shall they preach, except they be sent? (Rom. 10:15). Accordingly, the bishops are the lawful successors to the Apostles and those sent for the preaching (kerygma) to the people. Paul entrusts the heavy burden of the instruction of the people to Timothy and not to the faithful. He speaks of this elsewhere: Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? (1 Cor. 12:29) Again he says to Timothy that the clergy must be apt to teach others (1 Tim. 3:2). He does not, however, say the same thing for the faithful. He makes a distinction between shepherd and sheep, between teacher and those taught. Still, the teachers cannot teach whatever they would like, but that which the Church teaches universally. They teach in the name of the Church and of Christ. Not everyone has the intellectual ability and the requisite divine grace necessary to expound Holy Scripture correctly. The Apostle Peter also says this in his second epistle, referring to the epistles of the Apostle Paul. He says the following: There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures (2 Peter 3:16).
Inq.: Some say that it is not right that members of the Church dont have the right to interpret and expound upon Scripture. As this excerpt says, each Christian knows how to render Holy Scripture: But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things, and the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you (1 John 2:20, 27).
EC: Holy Scripture is like a very deep well wherein is comprised the infinite wisdom of God. If someone thirsty dives into this well to drink of all its water, he will be drowned within. If, however, he will fetch the water with a bucket and from there will drink with a cup, then there is no fear of being engulfed. What man is so crazed as to wish to plunge into such an abyss of water without knowing how to swim? Holy Scripture, according to the Fathers, is bone and no one will venture with teeth fit for milk to break the strong bones of Holy Scripture - for those teeth will be crushed.
Youve read in Scripture about the eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians? He was reading the Prophet Isaiah when the Apostle Philip asked him if he understood that which he read, to which he replied: How can I, except some man should guide me? (Acts 8:31).
You realize also that the word unction, or anointing (chrisma) that you mentioned above means the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the Mystery of Holy Chrism, directly after Baptism (Acts 8:17).
The phrase you know all things signifies everything that contains Christian truth and salvation, as well as everything that is related to the antichrist and his adherents, to whom the subsequent verse of the epistle of the holy John the Theologian refers. One must not, therefore, teach according to ones own understanding and perception, for one will be deceived.
Inq.: All the same, it is said that each Christian has the right and obligation to read Holy Scripture on his own, as the Saviour admonishes us: You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness of me (Jn. 5:39).
EC: Be careful, because many heretics of earlier eras made bold to immerse themselves in the fathomless sea of Scripture and drowned spiritually, thus perishing together with as many as followed them. They dont have all the same spiritual maturity. They are not all able to understand the mystery of Holy Scripture.
Holy Scripture is understood and explained in three ways: 1) according to its literal meaning, namely the nominal, grammatical, verbal and historical, 2) allegorically or metaphorically, which is superior to the former, and 3) spiritually. According to the Fathers, the simplest of senses to alight upon is the first meaning, according to the letter of Scripture; to penetrate with discretion to the nature of Scripture requires modest learning, while to explain the depth of the meanings of Scripture is of the highest spiritual advancement and in need of the most divine grace. The perfect wisdom of Scripture belongs, according to Saint Paul, to the perfect: Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (1 Cor. 2: 6-7).
Inq.: There are those who contend that it is not necessary for someone to have much learning to be able to understand the teachings of Scripture, since to the unlearned He revealed the wisdom of these teachings, just as the Saviour says: I thank Thee, O Father, . . . because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes (Mat. 11:25).
EC: Yes, God revealed His wisdom to those that were known to be babes in wickedness but not in mind  and judgement. In other words, He revealed His wisdom to those who, with respect to good works, were perfect and had attained to the innocence of infants. Thats why Paul counsels the Corinthians as follows: Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be ye men (1 Cor. 14:20).
Inq.: Yet, God rebuked the wisdom and knowledge of men, as this passage indicates: I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent (Is. 29:14). Saint Paul also says: Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? (1 Cor. 1:19). Might it not be that God is not able to give the wisdom of understanding the Scriptures to certain people who are worldly-wise, as the Orthodox maintain?
EC: You should know that God does not condemn just any wisdom and knowledge, but that which kills man spiritually. If He were to censure every wisdom, He would have to reject also the wisdom of Solomon, the wisdom of Joshua, son of Sirac, the wisdom of Christ the Saviour, of the Prophets and Apostles, to those whom He gave the commandment to be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves (Mat. 10:16). Yet, it isnt like this in the least. Hence, take care not to resemble those to whom the Saviour said: Your do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God (Mat. 22:29).
Inq.: Is Holy Scripture sufficient in order to guide man to salvation?
EC: No, it is not sufficient to guide man to salvation,  inasmuch as, firstly, it wasnt given to man from the beginning and, secondly, when it was given it wasnt the only authentic text, with regard to the salvation of human souls, because before it there was the Holy Tradition. Many years before Moses began writing the first books of the Old Testament, there was sacred piety in the community of the people of Israel. Similarly, the books of the New Testament began to be written ten years after the formal foundation of the Church, which took place on the day of Pentecost. The Church chose and sealed as inspired by God the books of the two Testaments over one hundred years later. These then comprised the declared Canon of the books of Holy Scripture. Thereafter the Church maintained this Canon of Truth, inasmuch as it is the very pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15). The Holy Spirit operates within all of this for the preservation of the truth about salvation. Where the Church is, says Saint Jerome, there also is the Spirit of God and where the Spirit of God is, there also is the Church and all grace - since the Spirit is truth.
1 nous: mind, thought, reason; attitude, intention, purpose; understanding, discernment: The English word that best conveys the meaning of the Greek word nous is probably the word mind, however, it also has other meanings as well. The Fathers refer to the nous as the soul (the spiritual nature of a man, St. Isaac the Syrian) and the heart (or the essence of the soul). More particularly, it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St. Diadochos). Yet, it is also referred to as the eye of the soul (St. John of Damascus) or the organ of theoria (St. Macarius of Egypt) which is engaged in pure prayer (St. Isaac the Syrian). In this book the words mind and intellect have been used most often when rendering the Greek word nous.
We cannot assert that Scripture is self-sufficient; and this is not because it is incomplete, or inexact, or has any defects, but because Scripture in its very essence does not lay claim to self-sufficiency. . . . If we declare Scripture to be self-sufficient, we only expose it to subjective, arbitrary interpretation, thus cutting it away from its sacred source. Scripture is given to us in tradition. It is the vital, crystallising centre. The Church, as the Body of Christ, stands mystically first and is fuller than Scripture. This does not limit Scripture, or cast shadows on it. But truth is revealed to us not only historically. Christ appeared and still appears before us not only in the Scriptures; He unchangeably and unceasingly reveals Himself in the Church, in His own Body. In the times of the early Christians the Gospels were not yet written and could not be the sole source of knowledge. The Church acted according to the spirit of the Gospel, and, what is more, the Gospel came to life in the Church, in the Holy Eucharist. In the Christ of the Holy Eucharist Christians learned to know the Christ of the Gospels, and so His image became vivid to them. Fr. George Florovsky, Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, pp. 48-49
3 By the end of the first century . . . the Church possessed the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Although they were not perhaps as yet collected into one volume, each had been accepted by the group of churches for which it was written. Very soon afterward they were combined in one quadripartite Gospel, and in the middle of the second century the Christian apologist Tatian composed the first harmony, or code, of the Gospels. . . The appearance of the New Testament in the Church as a book, as Scripture, was therefore not a new factor, but a record of the founding tradition. Just because it was identical with the original tradition as the Church already knew it, there appeared at first no need of a canon, or precisely fixed list of accepted records of Scripture. (Fr. Alexander Schmemann The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, pg. 44) In fact, for the western Church it was not until 419 AD at the Council of the 217 Blessed Fathers assembled at Carthage that the entire New Testament as we know it today was irrevocably canonised (Canon XXIV). - Editor
On Holy Tradition
Ch. 3 from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the
Teachings of True Christianity, By Elder Cleopa of Romania
Inquirer: What is the Holy Tradition that the Orthodox consider to be the second source of Holy Revelation and coequal with Holy Scripture?
Elder Cleopa: Holy Tradition is the teaching of the Church, God-given with a living voice, from which a portion was later written down. As with Holy Scripture, so, too, Holy Tradition contains Holy Revelation, and is, therefore, fundamental for our salvation. Holy Tradition is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit and, consonant with the enduring life of the Church, is thus a wellspring of Holy Revelation, such that, consequently, it possesses the same authority as Holy Scripture.
From the time of Adam until that of Abraham, according to the old chronologies, 3,678 years passed, and if we add 430 years when the Israelites remained in Egypt, we have 4,108 years. Throughout this period of time Holy Scripture neither existed nor was the Sabbath considered as a feast among the people. During this period of many thousands of years the faithful and chosen people were guided to the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition, namely, from the teachings about God which they received from a living voice. Only for the duration of 1400 years - from the time of Moses until the advent of Christ - were they guided by the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Just as before the books of the Old Testament were written the people were guided in the knowledge of God and on the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition (Tradition with a living voice, orally), so too were they precisely before the writing of the books of the New Testament. The Holy Tradition was the guide by which the first Christians were directed to the path of salvation. The first to impart the teachings of the New Testament with a living voice to the ears of the people was our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, who for three and a half years continually taught the people, distributing His Gospel without, however, writing anything. Inasmuch as He was carrying out obedience to His Father, He didnt send His Apostles to write but to preach the Gospel to the whole world, saying to them: Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Mat. 28:19-20). From the day of its establishment (33 AD) until the year 44 AD, when the the Holy Apostle Matthew wrote the first Gospel , the Church was governed without the Scriptures of the New Testament, but only with the Holy Tradition of which only a part was later recorded. Although there were many other writers for whom it was claimed that they were inspired and faithful scribes of the Apostles, the Church is She who did or did not recognise them, for She is unerring. The Church lived the truth of the Gospel even before anything was committed to writing, having lived with the Holy Tradition from the outset.
So then, this is the Holy Tradition: The source and the root of the two Testaments - the Old and the New - and thus the reason why we call it a source of Holy Revelation, since it carries the same weight as Holy Scripture.
Inq.: Yes, but it is said that Holy Scripture as Gods word is not permitted to be substituted or exchanged with Tradition, which is mans word, as is written in the Gospel: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? . . . ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying: This people . . . in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Mat. 15:3, 6-9; Mk. 7:13). Thus, it is not necessary for us to replace or add the tradition of men to the law of God, which is contained in Holy Scripture.
EC: What your friends have told you is not at all true, since the law of God is not only contained in Holy Scripture. Listen to what the divine Evangelist John says: And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen (Jn. 21:25). Again the same Evangelist declares in one of his epistles: Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full (2 Jn. 1:12). So, you see that the holy evangelist, when he had the ability, taught his disciples more with the living voice of Tradition than by sending them epistles. While your friends keep at all costs only so much as is written, they dont take into account that both the Saviour and the majority of His Apostles did not leave anything written, but rather taught orally, with the living voice of Tradition.
Inq.: In that case, I dont know how Christians are to understand the statement that we must not be seduced by the false teachings of men, especially those which are religious and rely on Scripture. After all, the Apostle counsels us: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Col. 2:8). It is our responsibility, then, to preserve ourselves from the false traditions of men.
EC: Dearest to Christ, you do not discern the difference between the teachings of human traditions and those that proceed from the apostolic and evangelical tradition. You brought here an excerpt from Holy Scripture that refers to the tradition of human teachings and pseudo philosophy that has no relationship whatsoever to the evangelical and apostolic Tradition of the Church of Jesus Christ. Holy Tradition is neither a tradition of men, nor a philosophy, nor some kind of trickery, but is the word of God that He delivered to us personally. The great Apostle Paul teaches and exhorts us to keep with vigour the traditions, saying; Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thess. 2:15). On the contrary, some counsel weaker Christians to slander and abandon the apostolic and evangelical traditions, without understanding that Holy Scripture itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that grew out of the roots and tree of Holy Tradition.
Inq.: Why isnt Holy Scripture sufficient for faith and salvation, without having any need whatsoever of Tradition? This appears to be the case from the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy: 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. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:15-16). These words are clear. Any addition to Holy Scripture is unnecessary.
EC: Here he is speaking only about the Scripture of the Old Testament, for the New Testament had not yet been written. Paul wrote to Timothy that a good teacher could use the Old Testament for the support of his faith in Christ and his instruction in Christianity. According to the notion that you mistakenly asserted, it follows that not one book of the New Testament - from those that were written in the period that followed these epistles of the Apostle Paul to Timothy - should be accepted. Rather, it is enough for us to recognize the Old Testament books mentioned here in the passage to which you refer.
Inq.: Some people dont acknowledge the Tradition because they say that with the passing of time it yielded to many illegitimate elements, so that, especially today, we are no longer able to discern the true apostolic Tradition from the false.
EC: The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith, according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Oecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], and with confessions [of Faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox Faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions:
- Do not sanction conceptions that contain inconsistencies amongst themselves or contradictions with the apostolic Tradition and Holy Scripture. (A teaching is to be considered worthy of Tradition when it stems from the Saviour or the Holy Apostles and is directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.)
- The Tradition is that which has been safeguarded from the Apostolic Church and has an uninterrupted continuity until today.
- The Tradition is that which is confessed and practiced by the entire universal Orthodox Church.
- The Tradition is that which is in harmony with the greatest portion of the fathers and ecclesiastical writers.
When a tradition does not fulfil these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed.
Inq.: Notwithstanding all the efforts which you say the Orthodox Church has made and makes relative to the truth of Tradition, some believe only the teachings which are contained in Holy Scripture. For the first Christians - they say - accepted only such writings as were contained in Holy Scripture, as it is written: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so (Acts 17:11). From this it follows that we should keep those teachings find written in Holy Scripture.
EC: However, the great Apostle Paul commends the Christans of Corinth not because they kept the written teachings, but because they obeyed him and observed with diligence the oral teachings that they had received from him. Listen to what he writes; Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and even as I delivered to you, ye are holding fast the traditions (1 Cor. 11:2). I wonder, what is better to do: for us to keep only the written teachings or to follow the great Apostle Paul who extols those who keep the unwritten tradition as well? Furthermore, weve established that the Holy Apostles and Evangelists believed and preach-ed abundantly from Holy Tradition, which they inherited from of old and is not written anywhere in Holy Scripture.
Inq.: Where specifically does it appear that the Holy Apostles taught other teachings aside from those which are written in Holy Scripture?
EC: Here are two testimonies: The Holy Apostle Jude in his catholic epistle, verse nine, among others, says: But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgement upon him, but said, The Lord rebuke thee (Jude 9). Dearest to Christ, search all of Holy Scripture and see if you will find written this utterance. Still further down in the same epistle the Apostle refers to the prophecy of Enoch, saying: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him (Jude 14-20). Yet, the Apostle Jude is not alone in speaking from Tradition. Listen to what the illustrious Paul says in his second epistle to Timothy; Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith (2 Tim. 3:8). And again the renowned Apostle Paul, guiding the priests of Ephesus, says: Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Now, I ask you, who insist on putting faith only in the written word, from where did the two Apostles - Jude and Paul - take the foregoing words, for you will not find them written anywhere in Holy Scripture?
Inq.: Still, I question if it is possible for Holy Tradition to be preserved until today unadulterated and genuine in all respects as in the beginning? Shouldnt we possess more assurances from the written teachings of Holy Scripture?
EC: You saw above that the famed Paul commends the Christians of Corinth for keeping, with care and mindfulness, the unwritten traditions, such as they had received from his very lips. Moreover, you heard that the Apostles Paul and Jude employed in their preaching words taken directly from Holy Tradition, such as those that referred to the prophecy of Enoch, and others. Further, I also pointed out to you by what means Holy Tradition was preserved throughout the ages. Furthermore, the same Apostle Paul exhorts and directs the Christians of Thessalonica to be very attentive and vigilant to keep the Holy Tradition: Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle (2 Thess. 2:15). And in another place he says: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8). In other words, he is speaking of the Gospel that he handed down to them with a living voice and not only by written word.
Inq.: How was this Canon of Holy Tradition in the Church preserved over the span of thousands of years? In our age some allege that from day to day the clergy and ecclesiastical writers alter the truth of Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition, which in the beginning was authentic and genuine? They say that if you have in your hand a book that was published 50 years ago and you put it next to one published recently, they would have nothing in common. It follows, then, that if the hierarchs and priests have done this with the sacred books, they would do the same with the Holy Tradition of which the Orthodox boast as having preserved unscathed from the Holy Apostles.
EC: That which your companions have accepted is not at all correct. The teachings of the Church of Christ are safeguarded by the Holy Spirit and cannot err (Mat. 10:17-20, John 4: 16-26, 1 Tim. 3:15). Its very founder, Jesus Christ governs it in an unseen way, until the end of the ages (Mat. 28:20). If some ecclesiastical writers, hierarchs, priests or laity translated the Bible from another language or amended some passage of which an expression does not correspond to the present-day speech of our people, this would be an adjustment and modification of expression and not a serious alteration of the substance of the Biblical text. If today a Romanian from the time of the Elder Mirtsea or Stephan the Great (1504) were resurrected and you wanted to speak with him, you would understand him with difficulty, the language having developed, no longer being exactly that which was spoken then. Thats exactly what happened regarding the books. With the passage of time the writers words or expressions were amended with suitable present-day language, without however, changing the meaning of the profound and sacred writings. Previously, I referred you to the foundation upon which Holy Tradition rests and by what means the preservation of its authentic original image is ensured and is conveyed through the ages. This refers to, namely, the ancient Symbol of Faith (The Creed), the apostolic canons and the dogmatic decisions of the seven  Oecumenical Councils. To these can also be added the following monumental and meaningful testaments - assurances of the unimpaired preservation of the Holy Tradition:
- The acts of the early Church, the witnesses of the company of the apostles, amongst whom are Saint Ignatius the God-bearer (+104 AD), a disciple of the Apostles and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (+106 AD). These Fathers admonished the faithful of their day to safeguard themselves from the teachings of heretics and to maintain in the full only the Apostolic Tradition (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Bk 2:36).
- Hegessipus, Eusebius tells us5, attempted to collect the whole of the apostolic traditions and nearly managed it, gathering more than five books worth of material that Eusebius studied. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, these books were eventually lost (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Bk 4:8).
- Saint Irenaeus (+202 AD) and Clement of Alexandria (+215 AD) inform us: Those who explain Scripture without the help of the Churchs Tradition cut asunder the significance of truth (Stromatis, pg 7).
Behold, further, those brilliant witnesses representing the faith of apostolic times and the period immediately following it up until the fourth century. The acts of the ancient Church are an important testimony to the value of the Holy Tradition and honour shown it from those times until today.
- Origin (+250 AD) says: Preserve the Holy Tradition in the Church.
- St. Epiphanios (+403 AD) writes: It is necessary to hold to the Tradition because it is not possible for everything to be found in Holy Scripture. The Holy Apostles handed down some things via the written word, while others via the spoken.
- Saint John Chrysostom (+407 AD) says: Hence it is clear that the Holy Apostles did not deliver everything by epistle; rather many things they handed down via the spoken word which is also trustworthy. If there is the Tradition, then dont ask for anything more (4th Homily on 2 Thess. See verse 2:45)
- Saint Gregory of Nyssa (+394 AD) writes: We have the Tradition set out for us from the Fathers like an inheritance by apostolic succession and transmitted via the saints (Against Eunomius, Book 40).
- Saint Basil the Great (+379 AD) in his writings provides similar testimony. Here is how he expresses it: Among the dogmas and kerygma (evangelical truths) that are safeguarded in the Church, some we have from the written teachings while others weve received orally from the Tradition of the Apostles by a concealed succession. The later hold the same legitimacy and force as the written texts (On the Holy Spirit)
We must uphold with great reverence and godliness Holy Tradition since all that is needful to effect our salvation is not found within Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture instructs us to do many things; however, it does not make manifest to us the light. For example, it instructs us to be baptized, but it doesnt explain to us the method. Likewise, it guides us to confess our sins, receive communion, be crowned (married) - but nowhere does it specify the rite of carrying-out these mysterion (sacraments). Furthermore, it instructs us to pray, but doesnt tell us how, where and when. It tells us to make the sign of the Holy Cross in front of our chest according to the psalmist Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us, but it doesnt show us how. Who teaches us in writing to worship facing east? Where in Scripture are we told the words of the epiclesis (invocation) of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the all-holy Mysteries? Which teaching from Holy Scripture instructs us to bless the water of Baptism and the holy Unction of Holy Chrismation? Which passage in Scripture teaches us about the threefold denunciation and the renunciations of Satan before Holy Baptism? The prayer of glorification toward the Holy Trinity - Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit - from which passage did it come to us?
Posing these questions to the slanderer of Tradition, Saint Basil the Great says: If we consent to abandon the unwritten traditions on the pretext that they dont have great worth, we err in great and elevated matters, rejecting the Gospel.
The ordering, therefore, by which the Church upholds the unwritten is: whatever is of apostolic descent and is practiced by the Fathers receives the validity of tradition and has the power of law in the Church of Christ (The Rudder, Neamts Monastery, 1844, Canons 87, 91). Accordingly therefore, it must safeguarded since its importance and benefit springs from the relationship that exists between it and Holy Scripture. It is true that both have remained within a reciprocal unity and intimate relationship - a relationship based on the fact that both comprise the holy revelation of God and for us are the fount and source of Revelation. Hence, it is not possible for there to exist an inner contradiction between the two or for us to exclude one from the other. Holy Scripture possesses its unique witness of the scriptural canon and its dogmatic character (its divine inspiration) only in and with Holy Tradition, while Holy Tradition is able to prove the authenticity of its truth only together with Holy Scripture.
1 There are scholars who believe that, in fact, the writing of the three first Gospels is placed. . . around the year 70 AD. (J. Karabidopoulos, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 104 (In Greek))
2 The Elder here is referring to the well-known seven Oecumenical Councils, however, in essence the Church also accepts an eighth (879), which confirmed the rejection of the filioque clause in the presence and with the support of the Church of Rome, and a ninth (1341), which rejected the humanistic-scholastic theology of Barlaam in support of the Hesychasts and St. Gregory Palamas. The truths expounded by these two councils have helped to uphold the Church against the theological distortions which have been brought to bear over the past 650 years, first in the West, and soon thereafter in the East.
This is truly an awesome analogy. Who can ever know God?
LOL! because you drew circles. Simple?
No, Holy Tradition is not equal to Holy Scripture.
Even the Apostle, John, in the last verses of his Gospel, says that not everything is recorded in the Bible.
S0--Tradition was there before the Bible was written down.
Please give me you impression of my argument, and afterwards I will look at the sufficiency of yours. A debate requires the inspection of both sides.
Otherwise it can be dueling scriptures for a few weeks, where both sides refuse to actually comment on the opponents side, and there is no thought, just copy and paste theology, and that gets no one anywhere.
I WANT to hear your answer to my question, as it may bring insight to my knowledge of God. I have little contact with the mysterious Orthodox Church and do not fear hearing what you have to say.
John 21:25 (New American Standard Bible)
25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
I understand that Jesus' entire life is not put in the scriptures. Not an argument there, but I would argue that only that needed for Salvation are in the Scriptures, and some that might confuse the faithful is not.
Many Mysteries are not revealed, hence the Mystery part. The Latins, the Greeks and the Reformed agree with that. Just what is revealed is the problem.
Nah, I lifted it from another site.
So answer my question about the schism between the EO and the RCs and who has the "pure" tradition.
If you accept the teachings recorded in the Bible, then you also accept Tradition. In Matt. 2:23, for example, the prophecy "He shall be a Nazarene" is oral tradition. It is not found in the Old Testament. This demonstrates that the apostles relied upon oral tradition and taught by oral tradition. Again, in 1 Cor. 10:4, Paul relies on the oral tradition of the rock following Moses. It is not recorded in the Old Testament. See Exodus 17:1-17 and Num. 20:2-13.
In 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?
EO and RCs both cling to tradition, yet each considers the other schismatic.
The Orthodox and Catholic Churches are separated; neither views the other to be in schism.
I can't answer that -- and you know it. LOL! I am not the final judge. God will be.
This is a perceived circular argument due to the often misconstrued notions that Scripture is separate from Tradition. The mistake is presumed in this question:
the Holy Tradition that the Orthodox consider to be the second source of Holy Revelation and coequal with Holy Scripture
In fact, there is no circularity because Scripture is a subset of Tradition, and Tradition is "faith once delivered to the saints", i.e. the Church. We do not need to look for the authority of the Church in the scripture in order to justify the authority, -- although of course, if we were to look we would find it. Passages such as Matthew 18:17-18 to do not constitute a basis of the authority of the Church, but rather an evidence of that authority.
I'll be back Monday to respond to all posts to me, at this point I only have time to correct this possible misconception of what the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches teach (with one voice on this subject and on most other subjects).
Anyone who seeks, else He never would have made the promise.
"I would argue that only that needed for Salvation are in the Scriptures,...."
"...and some that might confuse the faithful is not."
I don't doubt for a moment that this is true, but I would go on to say that much of what actually is in the canon of scripture is likewise confusing. Clearly this is true since, as Protestants would have it, the entire Church was in error for 1500 years before the Reformation; indeed, in error from the earliest post Resurrection, non scriptural writings like those of +Clement of Rome and +Ignatius of Antioch. I don;t accept that, but I do readily admit that rivers of blood have been spilled in the West since the Reformation over what the Bible means.
"Many Mysteries are not revealed, hence the Mystery part. The Latins, the Greeks and the Reformed agree with that. Just what is revealed is the problem."
Well, certainly Orthodoxy doesn't claim to have all the answers. For example, in the East we have no doubt that theosis comes through Christ and that Christ comes to us through The Church and Her Mysteries. But we have no idea wither the Spirit goes so we cannot say that outside The Church there is no salvation (unlike, I think, both the Romans and the Protestants) Mysteries are indeed Mysteries and in the East we are just fine with that.
Am I correct in saying the Orthodox do not hold to many of the RC Marian doctrines and purgatory, as well as in the Eucharist, the host and wine become 'grace filled', rather than transubstantiated into the actual blood and flesh of Christ?
"Am I correct in saying the Orthodox do not hold to many of the RC Marian doctrines and purgatory, as well as in the Eucharist, the host and wine become 'grace filled', rather than transubstantiated into the actual blood and flesh of Christ?"
Orthodoxy does not accept the Latin concept of purgatory, nor do we accept the Latin dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Otto, this is a very, very complex theological subject). I am not sure what other Marian doctrines you might be referring to. We absolutely believe that the bread and wine consecrated at the Divine Liturgy, through the actions of the Holy Spirit, do indeed become the actual Body and Blood of Christ. It is, however, a Mystery to us and therefore we do not attempt to explain it nor do we use the word "transubstantiation".
So whose tradition is correct?
Thank you for witnessing to your faith.
If I offended in my questions, which you did not mention, but if I did, I apologize.
"If I offended in my questions, which you did not mention, but if I did, I apologize."
You didn't offend me in the least, Otto! :)
Please, lets refrain from large and bold fonts. For Peter I am sure would want us to keep to the regular fonts as it easier to read, and as he says in:
2 Peter:3 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;
Light not heat, GC.
They each claim their traditions are correct. That is why there is a schism in the first place.
The problem I see with the whole schism thing is that because the RC has claimed infallibility, they cannot reconcile with the Orthodox. That makes admitting any flexibility with Orthodox traditions into an admission of fallibility.
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