Monday, October 26, 2009

Have Protestants missed the point of the Reformation?

Most Protestants are familiar with the traditional account of the Reformation: how a German monk posted debating points on the church door, challenging a corrupt system. And the church of that day plainly was corrupt. The 95 Theses generally focused on particular aspects of the sale of indulgences and fund-raising practices centered around purgatory, with some notable other comments on the general way that forgiveness was being taught and practiced.

Protestants have taken to heart that the sale of indulgences was wicked and corrupt; no risk of repeating the same mistakes there. But were those the only mistakes we're at risk of repeating? The most radical challenges of the 95 Theses tend to be missed; they aren't actually in the text, but in the act of posting debating points to challenge the church:
  1. The church is not infallible.
  2. True orthodoxy traces its roots to Christ and his witnesses.
  3. The church exceeds its authority whenever it teaches on God's authority anything it has not received on God's authority.
The Reformation in its small beginnings was not intended as a schism or a blame game, but as a house-cleaning. The minute it becomes an opportunity to feel smugly superior to Rome, it becomes a religious corruption in itself. This becomes a temptation when we are sure that the problems needing reform are unique to the Church of Rome. That may be so for the 95 Theses posted for debate that day. But the deeper message should be considered posted on every church door every day.
  1. The church is not infallible.
  2. True orthodoxy traces its roots to Christ and his witnesses.
  3. The church exceeds its authority whenever it teaches on God's authority anything it has not received on God's authority.
Since the Reformation, we do not owe allegiance to a supposedly infallible hierarchy that cannot imagine the possibility of error. But do our churches have the same spirit? I cannot think of a single church body without at least one teaching that is beyond what we have on Christ's authority, nor one that does not demonize its would-be reformers on the unspoken assumption of their own group's infallibility in at least one matter.

If we want to celebrate Reformation Day, I hope we do it by admitting the fallibility of the church and by listening to our own reformers.

23 comments:

Tony-Allen said...

I think it's true that churches (little "c") are not infallible any more than individual church leaders (such as the pope) are infallible. However, I would argue that a Church as a whole is infallible. By this I mean that the collection of teachings by the Fathers, ecumenical councils, and otherwise present a kind of Orthodoxy that we can live by, because most of it is rooted in the apostolic authority that was handed down from the times past.

The bigger thing with Luther is that he was dealing with corruption of what one could call a local church (because originally the Roman Church was part of all five Holy Sees) just as St. Photios fought the Roman Church over the matter of the filioque (which ironically lingers in most Protestant sects, despite their claim to be split from Rome).

About a year ago I started reading a biography on Luther which detailed his complaints against the Roman Church. I found it ironic because, as I read what he argued, I realized I agreed with much of it. He was arguing against teachings that had entered into the Church, such as papal supremacy, indulgences, etc. Perhaps if the Great Schism had never occurred, Luther would have been a great warrior for the faith just as Athanasius, Cyril of Alexandria and John Damascene were, and he would probably be considered a saint alongside these men.

Weekend Fisher said...

I have no idea if the church as a whole is infallible; it's really frustrating for how many centuries that's been an academic question. For myself, I suspect that the only infallibility the church could ever know would be that of her charter: "baptizing and teaching everything I have commanded" -- if we stick to what we were given, that should be enough. I find myself wondering: do we keep adding more to draw attention away from the fact that we do so much less?

I have a case of cynicism tonight; sorry 'bout that. ;)

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

I think it's really only been an issue for some 500 years, or five centuries - up until the time of the Reformation, when the definition of what "the Church" (with an upper-case "c") really was. Before then, of course, the idea of the Church was the body of believers within the structure that served as God's instrument on earth. I believe Patristics and a study of Church history would support this. The Church was kept free of heresy (or successfully pushed out heresy) for so long because the men inside it were willing to fight to preserve the one true faith, not split off into separate branches, or as a Baptist friend of mine once lamented, "split over the color of the carpet."

After the Schism, of course, is where this becomes hard to discuss, because, as I said in my previous response, so much was added in with the Roman Church, and then with the Reformation the definition of "the Church" in western Christianity became more and more hazy. I think a study of eastern Christianity would show that even under persecution and long periods of occupation the Church can survive as a single unit, free of heresy and preserving that which was handed down before it.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi again

The See of Alexandria left at Chalcedon. The 5 Sees haven't been in fellowship since the mid-400's. I've seen charts of church history that pretend the Copts don't even exist ... but they do.

What do you make of that?

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

Actually that's not true - a part of the See of Alexandria split and became the Coptic Church, but the Orthodox Church of Alexandria is still there, and is still in communion with the other three sees. They even have a website :)

Another thing to consider: what did Christ's words mean when He said "the gates of hell shall not prevail" against His Church (Matt 16:18)? What did He mean when He told the apostles, the founders of the Church, "I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt 28:20)? Did He mean He would be with them briefly, allow the Church to fall into error, but then come back in the 1500's? Did He mean that the gates of hell might get the upper hand temporarily? Or did He mean that the Holy Spirit would guide the Church through heresy and error and help the Church come out triumphant each time. This again falls back to what we define as "the Church," and what that means in relation to God's manifestation through His Church.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

I'm still not sure -- do you discount the Copts, then? I see them as a sign that the church hasn't been whole in a long, long while.

I'm also a little mystified by how some verses get interpreted. Srsly. For instance, "Gates of hell (Hades) shall not prevail" -- Hades is the land of the dead. Jesus had just right then been talking about his death and resurrection, and brings up Hades ... and I really don't get how Hades gets taken as "the land of doctrinal errors" instead of the "land of the dead", especially when the subject is death and resurrection. I think he meant he would be raised from the dead and so would we.

And I think "I will be with you always" means that he will be with us always. His physical presence didn't keep his followers from being occasionally clueless back then, and it doesn't now, but he's still with us. And look really closely at the attachments for "I will be with you always" -- it follows exactly on baptizing and teaching what he has commanded. If we teach something *else*, well, there's no safeguard against error if we go offroading like that.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

I think there's a world of difference between an entire holy see cutting itself off (as the Roman Church did, and as you originally thought the Alexandrian Church did), and a small section of one holy see separating from the other five (as the Coptics did). I don't discount them in the sense that I forget about them, but neither do I see them as a sign that the Church "hasn't been whole in a long, long while." Otherwise, you might as well count Nestorians, Arians, Monophysites, Iconoclasts, etc, as being other examples that the Church hasn't been whole.

As for the passages, look at the full context.

Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." [Matt 16:13-19; ESV]

Christ is not talking about His death and resurrection (that comes afterward), but rather He asks the apostles about who He is, and when Peter answers correctly Christ blesses Him for His faith, and announces the coming of His Church, because on such faith will His Church be established. If Christ were only talking about a stationary place overcoming something that extends beyond that stationary place, then He's making a very silly statement. It'd be like me saying, "In Hawaii will I start my ministry, and the Himalayas will never prevail against it."

Christ is therefore talking about something far more serious. Does this include "doctrinal errors"? Yes and no - it could include doctrinal errors, because to fall away from the doctrine given to us by the apostles would lead to Hell (Paul instructs such Christians to come under anathema), but it doesn't simply mean that. Christ will preserve His Church with the Holy Spirit, defending it from destruction both within and without. If we are to believe what modern day people like Dave Hunt or Jack Chick teach, which is that the Church was OK until 300 AD, and then it didn't get better until the 1500's, then obviously Christ did a shoddy job instilling His Church. Likewise, we give credence to those who believe in a great apostasy, such as Muslims and Mormons.

Tony-Allen said...

And a second post - as for the great commission:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." [Matt 28:16-20; ESV]

You are right in that Christ says He will be with us always, and you are right in that He is referring to baptism as well as His teachings...but what are His teachings? What did He bestow upon the apostles, who then bestowed their teachings upon the Church? What were the "traditions" (2 Thess 2:15) passed down by St. Paul and others? If we are to follow with the argument that Christ's presence exists solely in scripture, then we insult the Holy Spirit as being nothing more than a writing muse and not a tool by God for the installment of His Church upon the earth.

It is always possible to add something to the traditions and scripture, but is there any evidence of doing so? Only in Churches outside of the mold who do not conform to that which has existed for the past 2000 years, instilled by scripture and preserved by the blood, sweat and tears of the Fathers.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi again

You're really into this topic. I like that. You left two comments ... I'll have to type fast. ;)

1. Alexandria did cut itself off (or the rest of the church did, depending on your point of view). The main church body of Egypt is and for ages has been Coptic. The fact that other churches set up camp in Alexandria strikes me like ... oh, how to put this ... if Rome had churches and maybe even appointed a bishop in Antioch, & therefore claimed Antioch for Rome. (Btw, as an aside, I'm not convinced that Alexandria was wrong at Chalcedon. They proclaim clearly that they never held the position for which they were condemned, though they don't exactly agree with the way Chalcedon is worded.) Anyway, the point is that church hasn't been whole since Chalcedon.

2. You're right that I got things out of order on "gates of hell"; that's what I get for going by memory instead of re-checking the passage. However, the point remains that the "gates of hell" was not about schism or doctrinal error; "hades" is about death, and he introduced that in the conversation in which he introduced his death (which is probably how they got conflated and order-switched in my mind).

I have no quarrel with the view that Peter's confession of faith is the building block, or that faith is the cement of the church (or however you want to fit that into the analogy of a building). The point, again, is that there is no guarantee against error, schism, or doctrinal problems in there.

Look at the implications: if the guarantee is against error or schism, then how long did it last? From your point of view, does it matter of the church split at Chalcedon in 451 or if it split circa 1054 A.D.? It still split. At one point you were arguing that the wholeness of the church prevented error; does it matter so much to you if that became a moot point for everyone in 451 or in 1054? It's still a moot point. And therefore it's not really likely to have been the point of a divine promise.

3. You introduce the Holy Spirit's guidance into passages that aren't directly about that. Long story short, I think the Holy Spirit is still with the church today -- including Alexandria, Rome, Constantinople and others. But that hasn't prevented error (as I'm sure you'd acknowledge in at least 2 out of those 3 cases). Or would you say the Holy Spirit is no longer with those other churches? I wouldn't; I'd say the Holy Spirit has been with us always and surely, all of us, but that doesn't mean we're always following His guidance.

---

Btw, being Tuesday, I'm already in the middle of researching my next post. That means that I may let you have the last word for now, & we can resume the discussion (probably on another thread) at our next convenience. I promise I will read & consider your response whether or not I have time to respond.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

In response to your posts point by point...

1. You repeat that Alexandria "cut itself off." I've already demonstrated that this is false. It was not the entire Church of Alexandria, but some of its members that left the catholic and orthodox Church. Again, to argue that the Church entire hasn't been whole because a small percentage of one local church left it for means that it hasn't been whole since the days of Arianism or other small heresies that popped.

2. I agree that "Hades" refers to death...but what would be the death of a Church (because we cannot deny the Church is the subject here)? It could be two things: 1) the Church is wiped out (as the Romans, Muslims and Communists tried and failed), or two, the Church loses the Holy Spirit and falls into error. As I said before, it could mean doctrinal error or schism, but it is not limited to this. If, as some Protestants argue, the Reformation "saved" the Church, does that mean that the Church fell into error and lost the Holy Spirit? Many have argued this, but again, it presents the argument that the Holy Spirit was nothing more than a literary muse and not for the edification and glorification of the Church.

As for the Schism (I ignore Chalcedon because I've already shown twice that there was no schism) I would not count the Schism in 1054 because that is one local church versus the rest of the Church. The Orthodox Church has maintained the tradition handed down by the apostles and has not created anything similar to papal infallibility or the Immaculate Conception of Mary. It has continued to do so despite persecution, occupation, and many setbacks similar to the days of the Roman Empire - Christ has kept His promise, and the Gates of Hell have not prevailed against His Church. Did the Church fall into error in 1054? The Roman Church fell into error (it was a Roman official who placed the bull of excommunication on the Hagia Sophia) but the rest of the Church remained as it was.

3. I don't think I read into anything at all. Christ says in other passages and gospels, in particular John's about how the Holy Spirit will be a guide to the apostles and even those who believe after them. And I think you misunderstand the definition of Church Infallibility: it does not mean that every single church or church official is free of error (that is the fault in papal infallibility) - Arius, Nestorius, and others have shown this. What it does mean, as I say, is that the Church as a whole is infallible. When the Arians threatened the Church they held the First Ecumenical Council and declared it a heresy. The Arians fought back, but they were ultimately defeated. It has survived persecution for millenniums, even when it seemed on the verge of destruction, yet it has always returned and never lost what it had before in terms of belief or traditions. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is evidence that Christ truly did not leave His Church - He remained with them...not merely as a presence, but as an acting force.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi again

I found a few minutes this morning to type up a reply.

1. Are you aware that (best estimates) 95% of the Christians in that area of the world are Coptic? I'm really astonished that you don't count Alexandria as a true schism. You have said you have twice shown that it wasn't really a schism; in my mind, you have twice said that 95% of the Christians under the see of Alexandria don't count in your book (or possibly you hadn't known that non-Chalcedonian is by far the majority Christian position in Alexandria & its associated churches, and has been for 1500+ years). As it is, I have to say that that counts as a schism in my book, and I can't imagine anything that anyone could say to make that many people in that important a see simply not count in my mind. If 5% of the Christians there are Chalcedonian, that doesn't stop it from being a true schism over the other 95% who rejected Chalcedon. Alexandria was where most of the best scholars were, where the leading Christian school was; that's not a see to dismiss lightly when 95% of its people go the other way. I'm not willing to treat them as if they don't count more than some short-lived stray heretical sect, which is the argument you've made.

2. I don't see "Hades" referring to "losing the Holy Spirit's special guidance on doctrinal matters". If "the church" is threatened with death, that would either be as an institution losing faith (apostasy more than doctrinal mistakes, I'd think) or the extinction of her physical members (which has been tried any number of times, and has yet to cut off a single member of the church, as Christ raises the dead). To the best of my knowledge, there's only one Icon that shows the "gates of hell" -- it's the harrowing of hell Icon for the resurrection. When I hear "the gates of hell shall not prevail", I see the Icon of the harrowing of hell in my mind.

3. The church as a whole being infallible is kind of a moot argument when the church isn't whole, wouldn't you think? Whether or not you're willing to dismiss 95% of the Christians in Alexandria is even beside the point for this point; Rome v. Constantinople does count as a schism in your eyes, so there has been no "infallibility" in that sense for roughly 1000 years; that would apply both to Rome and Constantinople.

---

Look, I am absolutely not saying that Christ has left us without his presence or without the Holy Spirit. I am saying that the only basis for infallibility is sticking to what we know from the beginning, and I'm not aware of a single church that does that and only that.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

1. I don't understand the purpose of numbers here. Besides the fact that it sounds like an argumentum ad populum, and it is not relevant to whether or not the Alexandrian Church split from the rest of the the Church (let alone that you are using numbers from today and trying to apply them to populations some 1600 years ago, during which anything could have happened to alter those numbers). You say that I argued "that 95% of the Christians under the see of Alexandria don't count in my book" - this isn't true, and I'm sad to see my points are not being well read. I stated that it was a branch of the Church of Alexandria that split and that the Church of Alexandria itself is still in communion with the other three Orthodox sees, and even cited a website to show the Orthodox Church of Alexandria (which also had a list of uninterrupted patriarchs all the way down to St. Mark) still exists. It wasn't a schism, but a case of apostasy, just as there was in Arianism and Nestorianism and other heresies. Are we to say that the Anglican Church is split because some of its members left to join Wesley's Methodist Christianity?

2. You mention that one of the definitions for hell triumphing against the Church would be apostasy - well, many Protestant scholars both past and present have argued that an "apostate church" formed sometime after Nicea, either by the 5th century or well up to the Schism, and hence why the Reformation basically saved the day. By their very definition, the gates of hell did overrun the Church, which has to mean at some point they lost the Holy Spirit as it was granted to the apostles. Others say that while the holy catholic and apostolic Church may have had some things right, they got other things wrong - in which case God allowed error to take seed in His Church and make it imperfect. In either case, we have to come to the conclusion that Christ's promise to defend His Church from such tribulation was a shoddy promise at best.

3. I think you need to study the Orthodox definition of Church Infallibility a bit more. The Schism, as I said, was between the Roman Church and all the eastern Churches - one could say then it was Rome versus the Christian world, and Rome chose to split from them. Church Infallibility, as I said, involves the Church entire and their preservation of the truth - not individual churches. If an individual church falls into error, that is a fault on their part and not the rest of the Church. As it stands, the other four Holy Sees have remained in communion and have not added anything similar to papal infallibility, immaculate conception of Mary, etc. Which brings me to your last comment:

I am saying that the only basis for infallibility is sticking to what we know from the beginning, and I'm not aware of a single church that does that and only that.

There is a Church that does that - the Orthodox Church. They have preserved what the apostles gave from the beginning, "that and only that." This has been its guidance for 2000 years in the face of heresy and persecution.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

I had wondered if, in your mind, all the other points were simply sub-points on the topic of whether Eastern Orthodoxy was infallible; from your last comment, it appears so.

I admire Eastern Orthodoxy, from her love of Christ to her love beauty to her love of art to her love of history. And to press the point any further on our original conversation, I'd need to show you the various ways in which Eastern Orthodoxy has not done and taught only and exactly what Christ's own apostles have given us.

It's like this: if a man was in love with a woman, and thought (entirely rightly) that she was kind and beautiful and admirable, but insisted beyond that, that she was actually objectively perfect, what should I do? (That's like you and Eastern Orthodoxy, in case I'm not being clear enough.) Should I speak bad of something good, to show that it's not actually perfect? Or should I let you have a little time to realize that Eastern Orthodoxy doesn't have to be perfect in order to be genuinely good? I prefer to give you a little time.

My prayer for you is this: that when you see that Eastern Orthodoxy is not perfect, that you love it all the same.

Take care & God bless
WF

Tony-Allen said...

I think there's still misunderstanding of the definition for Church Infallibility. If by "Eastern Orthodoxy" you mean every single Orthodox person, Church official, or maybe the actions of individual churches, I would agree it's not perfect. If you mean the entire Church, I would disagree. I wouldn't have joined Eastern Orthodoxy out of Islam if I didn't realize that Christ founded a Church, and that, contrary to what Islam, Mormonism, and some Evangelicals believe, this Church has preserved Christian teaching for centuries upon centuries.

But I would be curious as to how Eastern Orthodoxy strayed so far from what Christ handed His apostles, and from the teachings of the apostles that founded the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

How far is "so far" from the original teachings? I love Eastern Orthodoxy, truly. If my own group were to fold tomorrow, I might very well end up Eastern Orthodox as an alternative, as I believe the Eastern Orthodox are one of the closest groups to teaching what was originally taught. I'd certainly go Eastern Orthodox in preference to many other groups out there.

That much said, if you want me to criticize Eastern Orthodoxy just to prove that a good thing isn't perfect, I'm not really willing to go there. The first reason is a general principle not to condemn the good; the second is that I doubt it would be productive, that your love for Eastern Orthodoxy includes an idea that she is, in a certain way, infallible and that criticizing the object of someone's deep love -- I can't recall that approach ever leading to anything good. My hope, when it comes to reform and reformation (which was the original topic), is that each group takes the log out of its own eye first. Which means I would focus on my own group, out of reverence for what Christ said about eye-splinters, and resist the temptation to fault-find with someone else. Do I think Eastern Orthodoxy teaches just what the apostles taught and nothing more or less? No. Is that any of my business while I have work to do in my own church? Not really.

That was my main point about the Reformation: if we think that reform is about correcting others' groups, we have so missed anything useful.

Take care & God bless
WF

Tony-Allen said...

If Eastern Orthodoxy teaches "less" than what the apostles gave them, then God's establishment of His church was incomplete and Christians worship with flaws.

I do not wish for people to criticize other groups, but, if they are going to make bold declarations such as an apostolic church not truly being apostolic, I desire them to back up their beliefs.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

Generally I'd say the Eastern Orthodox teach more than what the apostles gave us. A quick read through the canons of the ecumenical councils will show things that aren't directly supported by the apostles; I wouldn't think that's a controversial statement. Attending an Eastern Orthodox worship service shows much the same.

I believe that it's best for you to ask your spiritual father in the Eastern church whether there are teachings that are not directly received from the apostles. I think you'd be more likely to believe him than me, and also that, when you see the additional teachings that have been brought in, you would then be safeguarded from interpreting that in an extreme way, if your spiritual father were involved.

You do come across as if, for you, God's goodness and all of the truth of Jesus and the love of God rides on the perfection of the Eastern Orthodox church. That's a bit much weight to put in Constantinople's basket (or Rome's, if you were there; I've met people who take the idea of Rome's perfection the same way). Your angel stands before the Father in heaven; it would be better for me to have a millstone tied around my neck and to be tossed into the nearest bayou (which is what we have around here) than to put an obstacle between you and the love of God. I can't imagine any name in the book which would bother me under the circumstances; if Eastern Orthodoxy's perfect adherence to teaching neither more nor less than the apostles taught has that weight for you, then call me anything you will, I won't willingly attack that point, but will refer you to your spiritual father. I trust that he can show you the things that are more than the apostles taught in a way that will be acceptable to you.

Take care & God bless
WF

Tony-Allen said...

The Ecumenical Councils were designed to preserve the teachings of the apostles and that which was handed down to the Church. Some of it was contemporary, but everything had the same goal in mind. St Athanasius speaks of this in his letters regarding the Arian controversy. Liturgy likewise has been an ancient practice sourced to the apostles - Paul, for example, speaks of the agape meal in 1 Corinthians. The shape and structure of the liturgy has changed (John Chrysostom shortened Basil the Great's version, for example) but it has not detracted from the overall scope and purpose of the liturgy itself. If an early Church Father were to return and attend religious services, they would feel much more at home in a Latin Mass or Divine Liturgy than a Charismatic revival or anything similar.

And again, I think there may be some misunderstanding: I'm not saying that "God's goodness and all of the truth of Jesus and the love of God rides on the perfection of the Eastern Orthodox church," because "God's goodness" and "the truth of Jesus" does not ride solely on the Church, at least here on earth. This is why, in Orthodox theology, there is a difference made between the Church Triumphant (Christ and His saints) and the Church Militant (all of us sinners here on earth).

I must also admit that to hear the Church is "an obstacle between" myself and "the love of God" comes across as something that some Protestant scholars argue but are wrong in doing so. There is no obstacle between the Church and God, because Christ is the bridegroom of the Church and as such is present within the Church. To quote Fulton Sheen, "There is no church standing between us and Christ - the Church is Christ." Christ, after all, did not leave us a Bible, but He did leave us a Church, and it has been the role of the Church to defend Christ's name and preserve His teachings and lessons as passed down from the apostles to the further generations of Christians.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi there

The "obstacle" in question was my pointing out the non-apostolic origins of particular things added to the liturgies and particular findings of various councils. I agree that the councils' goal was to preserve orthodoxy, and I agree that orthodoxy means, at its roots, the reality of Jesus as we know him through his apostles.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF

Tony-Allen said...

If liturgy detracts from how the apostles intended it, or the councils brought in something that contradicts that handed down to the original Christians, then, again, God's church fails and its role on earth and heaven is made imperfect.

Weekend Fisher said...

Hi again

That's overgeneralizing: when I say that the liturgy has certain specific non-apostolic additions, I do not say that the liturgy in general is detracting from the faith. When I say that the councils came to conclusions that were never specifically stated by the apostles, I leave open the question of how those new teachings fit with what was taught by the apostles. You can see a whole spectrum of different opinions within Christianity on these things.

But my larger concern is that, again, you put too much weight on something, put your faith on the line over things like whether every jot and tittle of the liturgy and councils is apostolic, which I expect that your spiritual father would caution you against.

I must refer your further questions on this matter to him, if you wish to pursue the question of whether all the items of the councils and all the items of the liturgy are directly supported by the apostles. If you do not wish to pursue this, that is up to you. If you do wish to pursue this, I request that you do so with a mature Christian of your own Eastern Orthodox communion, so that you will know that the validity of the faith does not rest on such things.

My concern over your well-being far trumps any interest in a mere argument.

Take care & God bless
WF

Tony-Allen said...

I don't think I put too much on anything or expect everything to be as is 100%. I'm aware some things, out of necessity, had to be explained or included, I even discussed this on a blog post I made about a year ago in response to an article by Paul Negrut.

But if we are talking about nonconsequential changes, I don't see what the point is at all. What makes an apostolic church nonapostolic, and if there were additions that have changed what the apostles intended the Church to do, I'd like those to be clarified so I have some idea of what we're talking about.

Weekend Fisher said...

I've been spammed. In Chinese, apparently. That's a new one.

Say, if I thought any good could come of where the conversation is going, I'd have been glad to pursue it. As it is, you have mentioned my bottom-line point: not quite 100% of the material in the liturgy or ecumenical councils is of apostolic vintage. In fact, at this point in history, it hardly could be (unless we'd stopped doing things or asking questions in the time since then).

We obviously have different ideas about how much this matters, but pursuing that angle is almost guaranteed to shed more heat than light.

I don't intend to respond again on this thread, & hope that is not too frustrating to you. My reason for discontinuing is to avoid a needless argument about which non-apostolic things matter and how much. I'm sure they matter more to me than to you, and I would not, for the sake of my own objections, want to pursue them any further as it's against my better judgment in these circumstances.

Take care & God bless
Anne / WF