Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scripture Alone or Scipture and Holy Tradition?

No where in the Scriptures does one find the term 'Scripture Alone'. This was made popular by the Protestant Reformationist, Martin Luther. Yes, Scripture is profitable but 'profitable' does not mean 'only'. We find many Holy Traditions in the Scriptures along with Scripture references to follow the traditions of the apostles.

19 comments:

Sancho Panza said...

You know you are right Jesus never used the term Sola Scriptura. But then neither did he ever say that the Orthodox Church was the true church. So using your logic you must admit that either you have made a false claim about the orthodox Church or maybe it just isn't a real issue. Maybe like tilting at windmills.

Adam Roe said...

Ah, but take care dear Sancho, these long arms come from the mouth of Jesus himself! Something about the gates of hell not prevailing against His Church, and all that.

Besides, you missed Chris' point in two ways. First, we don't claim that Jesus had to say the words in Scripture in order for it to be so. That standard requires adherence to the sola scriptura hermeneutic; a hermeneutic Orthodox Christians explicitly reject. If you want to claim sola scriptura you must prove that Scripture explicitly teaches it; not deflect criticism of that doctrine by trying to hold our claims of apostolic continuity to that very same innovation we are claiming is fallacious!

Second, the Orthodox Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church because it is in apostolic continuity. The denominational thinking you bring to the conversation simply doesn't enter into the Orthodox mindset because we predate denominations. We are The Church because there was never anything before us. It sounds audacious...I know. You can imagine my horror when as a Lutheran I concluded Orthodox claims to exclusivity were correct!

Sancho Panza said...

I guess that I missed the point. If Sola Scriptura comes from Lutheran Sources and has little value because it comes from a deviant or damaged faith, making it somehow inferior; then your must question from whom did the Orthodox Church receive its direct mandate to be the one and only true church. If it comes from Christ then the Orthodox Church will stand before Christ at the Judgment and receive all of its rewards and admonitions for its successes and failures.
Just claiming to be the true church doesn’t make you the true church. The proof of being the true church will be found in how Christ is lifted up to draw all of humanity to receive the grace of God.
I know of several churches that claim to be the “true” church, i.e. Mormons, several Pentecostal sects, some fundamentalist Baptist to just name a few. The test of orthodoxy falls not in making assertions of historical longevity but to the fulfilling of the mandates Christ gave us before he left the world.
I appreciate the greatness of the historical church, but having long genealogies doesn’t make the case for being true. The True Church is one that is transforming people’s lives from fallen sinners into mature saints. The True Church will be the one for whom Jesus will say on Judgement Day “…well done. I gave you a little and you returned much.” It is Jesus who declares the church to be true not a historical list of fallen sinners who received grace greater than their sins.
I know this is a difficult point for some to accept, but the church belongs to God not vice versa. Enjoy claiming to be the true Church but what are you doing with this claim? Are you bettering humanity as God representatives or are you beating your chest saying look at us we’re the true ones while the lost world is falling into hell.
Scripture seems to teach that is the ultimate test or Christ's True church.

DEP said...

I must ask this question. If I do not attend the Orthodox Church, fully accept it doctrines and practice its precepts am I going to Hell. Am I to be denied grace and redemption because I don't like to worship exactly in the manner you do? I don't think this is what the Orthodox believers are saying on this site but it sounds like it.

Adam Roe said...

Sancho,

Perhaps I haven't communicated this very well. The Orthodox Church didn't "start" in the same sense that The Reformation started. The Orthodox Church "started," for lack of a better phrase, when Jesus commissioned the apostles to go and bring the gospel to the world. We share the same communion today that they had then. It has never broken. There was no schism...no breaking off in the Orthodox Church. So, we are not looking at "Church" as a mere organization of like minded people. We are looking at "Church" as the Christ-centered, Eucharistic, and apostolic communion that was, is, and ever shall be. That is not spoken as an arrogant beating of the chest, though I know this sounds insane when one has grown used to the idea of schism and denominationalism.

I would encourage you...do the research. See how the early Church lived and practiced. Study the role of the episcopacy in the early Church. Look at the community of faith within which the Scriptures were written. That is the task I, and others, have set about and when we were done we had nowhere left to turn but Holy Orthodoxy.


DEP,

There will be Christians of non-Orthodox backgrounds who experience the joys of communion with Christ for all eternity. Remembr, Orthodox do not recognize hell as a place but as an experiential condition; a view that goes right to the heart of the Chruch's teaching of what salvation is. Salvation is not a legal verdict of "not guilty." It is instead submission and coorperation with God, who sanctifies us. Therefore, all people will be in the presence of God, buit not all will enjoy the presence. We want to make sure, therefore, that people are entering into communion with Him under correct pretenses. Communion with The Church is not merely a matter of getting all your ecclesiastical ducks in a row. After all, the Church IS the Body of Christ. The Church is, therefore, the one place where people can come to receive a clear and undefiled picture of the Trinity, and it is where we are encouraged to walk with the Trinity as it actually IS.

In short, we are happy for non-Orthodox Christians when they receive elements of clarity. But we recognize that God is most fully known in the communion where the apostolic teachings of who Christ is are guarded and offered. Again, I know that to many this seems arrogant, but from experience I can tell you it's true. The way I've expressed to people who ask, is I received one element of the Christian faith when Iw as raised Methodist. I received another element when I went to an independent Christian Church. I received yet another element in the Lutheran Church. I didn't receive it all, though, until becoming Orthodox. Orthodoxy is the only place a person can receive a complete and un-blurred understanding of Christ and the relationship we share with Him. We want people to become Orthodox because we want people to have their vision corrected, so to speak, thereby encouraging them more fully in their walk with Christ!

Blessings in Christ,
Adam

Adam Roe said...

One other thought, DEP, what do you make of the idea that the way Orthodox Christians worship IS the way we will worship for eternity? My concern for you is that what you practice now is not what you will find after life on this earth has ended. This being the case, it is my sincere hope that you will consider allowing liturgical expressions that pre-exist even New Testament worship to have some role in the way you worship now; particularly when we consider that in paradise and on the new earth you will be returning to Orthodox forms of worship. So, how I should have perhaps responded to your post, is to to say that grace is not denied to you, but the way you currently worship is out of step with the way you will worship once the old world has passed away. That is my concern so far as worship is concerned.

DEP said...

I have done the research. I have read and studied Orthodox doctrine. I just like my church and how it worships better. I have simply reached a different conclusion about where I choose to worship. It may sound relativistic but your mode and method of worship for me lacks something. There is no anger or fear in my conclusion, simply me being honest with myself of how I want to worship. If when we get to Heaven and we worship like Orthodox I don't think I'll care. I'll just be glad to be there.

Adam Roe said...

Very well, DEP. Peace be with you. :)

Adam Roe said...

Also, DEP, if you ever find yourself open to Orthodox worship, we would positively love to have you join as at Sts. Cyril and Methody. I'm not assuming you will, but the offer always stands. You would hopefully find that I'm not such a windbag in person. :-)

DEP said...

Adam,

I don't think you're a windbag. We are all full of it, otherwise we wouldn't be here posting when others are sleeping. I have been invited to a Fish Fry by Ignatius. Maybe someday I'll meet all of you. It seems many of us posting left another denomination looking for something more liturgical. I am interested in hearing about anyone's journey out of another church, but particularly a charismatic background.

DEP said...

Regarding Sola Scriptura. As a Baptist, according to some, I am supposed to be wedded to the concept. However, I believe in tradition. How else do we learn but from our elders. I believe in the supremacy of Scripture and that tradition must conform to it. Your thoughts as Orthodox.

DEP

Adam Roe said...

DEP,

Bishop Kallistos Ware summarizes the Orthodox position very well with the following quote:

"Holy Tradition means the books of the Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons -- in fact, the whole system of doctrine, Church government, worship, and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages . . . Among the various elements of the Tradition, a unique pre-eminence belongs to the Bible, to the Creed, to the doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils: these things the Orthodox accept as something absolute and unchanging, something which cannot be cancelled or revised." (Timothy Ware, The Orthodox Church (Middlesex, England: Penguin Books, 1991), 204, 205, 206).

The Church teaches that the Scriptures are part of Holy Tradition, not a source separate from Tradition. They contribute to the life of faith in conjunction with the Ecumenical Councils, The Church Fathers, The Creed, icons, etc... None is more important than the other, but all are supremely important in giving us a clear view of The Orthodox faith.

Adam

Athanasios Boeker said...

Let us address the question, "who authorized the the New Testament Canon?" In other words, did a complete Gideon's hard bound New Testament fall from the sky in 40 A.D.? How did it come about? who decided what books of the Bible would be a part of the Bible?

Plus, who decide what verse "so and so" of book "this and that" meant? Arius said that when Colossians states that, "Christ is the first born of all creation," that that verse meant that Christ is the first creature made by God. Who said, "no that is not what it means," and by what authority did they say it?

Athanasios

Sancho Panza said...

Athanasios Boeker writes
Let us address the question, "who authorized the the New Testament Canon?" In other words, did a complete Gideon's hard bound New Testament fall from the sky in 40 A.D.? How did it come about? who decided what books of the Bible would be a part of the Bible?

The first listing of the 27 books comprising the New Testament was by Athanasius in 367. The Council of Hippo in 393 and the Council of Carthage 397 affirmed this list.

Athanasios Boeker writes
Plus, who decide what verse "so and so" of book "this and that" meant? Arius said that when Colossians states that, "Christ is the first born of all creation," that that verse meant that Christ is the first creature made by God. Who said, "no that is not what it means," and by what authority did they say it?

Ultimately God decides what the Bible means. How this happens is still a raging debate in the entirety of Christendom. One principle remains true. The interpretation of scripture remains in the realm of the church. But that does not necessarily imply that the “church” can dictate the meaning of a text. Interpretation of a text occurs when the Holy Spirit brings illumination and that illumination comes in agreement with the entirety of the Bible.

Athanasios Boeker said...

So we can acknowledege that the historical Church Infallably gave us an infallable New Testament canon of scripture. Can't we acknowledge then, that the same Church gives us the infallable interpretaions of specific passages? If not Why? Why trust it for one thing and not another? How can we be sure the New Testament canon that we have is truly scripture, could these men have made a mistake? The Orthodox and Papists have more books in they're Old Testaments than do the Protestants. What if the Protestants don't have all the books of the Bible? What then? Who decided that the Protestant Bible would have less books, and by what authority?

It really gets down to who's authority your going to accept, does'nt it, the Historic Orthodox Church, of whom Athanasius and the Councils of Hippo and Carthage were a part, or are you going to accept the decisions of Luther (and Calvin), who went so far as to say that the book of James, was not scripture, but rather an "epistle of straw?" If one truely believes in the divine inspiration of scripture, then one would have to admit Luther uttered Blasphemy when he called it such.

Athanasios

Athanasios Boeker said...

No Scripture is of private interpretation. It is the Historic Orthodox Church, being the True Body of Christ and corporately illuminated by the Holy Spirit, that interprets the meaning of Holy Scripture.

When Christ said I will send the Holy spirit and he will guide you into all truth he was speaking to the Apostles, the leaders of the Historic Church.

Athanasios

Ignatius said...

What I have noticed regarding some of the post is people believe that 'Worship' is relative. Does God care how we worship? Or is everything, make it up as you go along?

One week someone in a church will worship by banging on a tamberine while another week it is through watching Christian Rock videos on a power point screen? Is this worship or are we really seeking 'entertainment'? Do we go to church to feel comfortable or to have a good time? It may seem that some services today are self centered instead of what is centered on God.

There are churches today (though not all) who have cup holders built into the chair so someone can bring a drink. There are also plush stadium chairs so you can feel relaxed while you listen to the lecture of the pastor.

Did the Jews do this in the OT? Did Nehemiah think of these issues when rebuilding the temple? What about when David was commanded to build the temple? What about how the worship practices of Revelation in Chapters 5 and 8?

If worship is relative then going out on a Sunday and hugging a tree would be a valid worship style. Staying home on Sundays and watching a football game could be a worship style if it is up to an individual? I know someone who didn't go to church at all a couple of weeks ago and they told me this is 'worship'. This is the truth! They believed staying home reading their Bible was true worship.

When we make up our own rules then anything goes.

We don't go to church to hear a lecture or be entertained.

Ignatius said...

I know someone who belongs to a non denominational church. He makes the claim, "Our Church believes in the Bible only" and
"We are a Bible believing Church".

However, how does he come to that conclusion?

I asked him if he beleived the Eucharist was the Body and Blood of Christ or was it symbolic?

He stated it was symbolic.

I asked how did he arrive to that interpretation since the Bible never says it is symbolic and not only that but 6 times in the New Testament in 5 books it implies it is literal. It never calls it symbolic.

He said, "Because it can't really be!"

So this person is interpretating the Scripture by his own personal belief of what God can and cannot do? Or what makes logical sense?

I can logically make sense of the Trinity but the CHurch has confirmed it and I believe it...

Shall we use this style for determining if the physical resurrection is literal or symbolic?

The Bible says it is the Body and Blood, the Church has taught is was the Body and Blood and Holy Tradition is passed down it is the Body and Blood.

But thank God for the Christians after the reformers who 450 years ago concluded it is not literally the body and blood. The Church has been deceived and duped into believing a lie for almost 1700 years.

I can read a verse and someone else can read a verse and we can believe two entirely different things.

This is why we have 30,000 different denominations and is estimated by the year 2055 there will be 50,000 denominations in the world.

Ignatius said...

#1 If all we need are the Scriptures, then why do we have Sunday School teachers? We are their preachers who teach a sermon? Why couldn’t just the Scriptures be read in the church and that would suffice since everyone would be clear on the teaching?

#2 If all we need are the Scriptures , then why can go to the Christian bookstore and pick up millions of Christian titles explaining how to lead a godly life, explaining end times, and teaching what Christ and the Apostles meant in the Scriptures?

#3 If all we need are the Scriptures, then why don’t we just drop Bibles onto the plains of Africa? Why do we need missionaries? We don’t we just hand out Bibles to everyone we need instead of tracts? Everyone would believe and worship in unity.

#4 If all we need are the Scriptures, then why are Catechisms’ from different denominations written since the Scriptures are self sufficient?

#5 If all we need are the Scriptures, then why are there 38,000 Christian denominations all believing different perspectives of the Bible?

#6 If all we need are Scriptures, then why do most churches (even some non denominational) have teaching classes on the Christian faith before receiving one as a member. Just hand the new Christian a Bible and say “Here, this is all you need.”

#7 Where in the Scriptures does it give us a list of the canon of Scripture?

I would have to say, unless Holy Tradition is passed on from the Apostolic community then how does one have the authority to interpret Scripture? For instance:

Is the Eucharist literal or symbolic? Most denominations would say symbolic while the Orthodox/Catholic/Lutheran says literal.

The Tradition of the Orthodox (2,000 years) it is literal.

The Tradition of the Protestant (500 years) it is symbolic.

Both interpret through tradition, the question is which tradition dates further back to the Apostles?

Obviously, the Orthodox Church states, we need an interpreter which is, quite frankly, The Church.

The contradiction of the Protestant church is, “we do not need an interpreter but join our Church and we will through our Sunday School Class, preacher, and catechisms we give you, will interpret the Scripture for you.”

Oh well!