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Featured Scripture vs. History

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by Mary Meg, Apr 20, 2019.

  1. Tree of Life

    Tree of Life Hide The Pain

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    I believe that the Bible does teach infant baptism. But this is not the central issue being debated here. The question is: to whom do we finally appeal? What settles the matter? Baptists argue that Scripture teaches credo baptism. Presbyterians like myself argue that Scripture teaches paedo-baptism. How may we infallibly know? Only by appealing to Scripture. Every person has the responsibility of examining the Scriptures to see if these things are so.

    Many people convert to Rome because they are uncomfortable with this responsibility. They want some infallible authority outside of Scripture to tell them which interpretation is correct. But Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and man and it is with Jesus himself that we have to do. You cannot simply abdicate your responsibility to study the Bible and come to your own conclusions about which interpretation is correct.

    That’s fine that you’d rather have this. But you still haven’t answered the question as to why every church should be as you might prefer. And if you want a church that looks like a 2nd century church, you will certainly not find this in Roman Catholicism.

    I try to draw the line where the Bible draws the line. I am a conservative Presbyterian and I reject the ordination of women, not because I believe that the church has historically rejected this, but because I believe the Bible forbids it.

    But there is much that the Bible doesn’t say which every church has to decide upon. For example, the Bible says that the church should meet on the Lord’s Day for worship but does not say what time or how long. Suppose some prominent church decided that all churches should meet at 10am and for 2 hours. Should all churches accept this just because some prestigious church says so, or is there room for freedom and cultural expression? Likewise the Bible says to publicly read Scripture and teach, but it does not say exactly how to do this. Can we preach through books of the Bible or should we follow something like the Roman Missal? Is there room for freedom and difference of cultural expression on this, or should the judgment of one prominent church also be imposed on every church in this instance?
     
  2. Bruce Leiter

    Bruce Leiter Active Member

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    Yes, you're right that approaching the NT as a purely-historical document is your undoing. The gospels are preaching history, that is, they gather historical accounts together with a preaching theme for their audiences' benefit. Acts is history for the same purpose, to benefit Amphipolis and the church. The letters are just that. They present the meaning of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection for the churches. Revelation is figurative apocalyptic literature to assure us that Jesus is the Ruler with the Father and the Spirit. It's all God-inspired and authoritative for our lives.

    Please remember one very-important method of Bible interpretation: Take God's principle or main idea from the text taking into consideration the inspired author's audience, purpose, context, application, and meaning. Then, apply that principle to your situation. The gaps in the history you find are really God's way of giving you the principles of his teaching illustrated by the history.

    The Catholics worship the same Triune God taught by Scripture as the Protestants, but my problem with their theology is that they have established a whole tradition alongside the Bible such as purgatory and their beliefs about Mary, who actually replaced a major goddess when Rome established the church. I believe that the Protestants meant by Scripture alone the rejection of that added tradition. When they have certain church structures, they are not making those forms infallible unlike the Catholics. Instead, they are applying the Bible's principles in different ways but without claiming that those church forms are God-inspired. I hope that these thoughts help you sort things out.
     
  3. CosmicOsmo

    CosmicOsmo New Member

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    Being from a Lutheran background myself (in Europe), I definitely don't see denial of the authority of scripture. The above new trends (female clergy, abortion, homosexual unions) have been done against both scriptural evidence and indeed the Lutheran church traditions that have been followed for centuries.
    Lets not rationalize such falling away from God's word as some kind of wrong approach to scripture or tradition. Sin is sin and it should not come as any surprise to us that a falling away is taking place.
     
  4. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    Cross references are a pattern in Scripture.
     
  5. Not David

    Not David Der Ewige Katechumene

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    Can you give @Mary Meg a little break? It is almost everyone against her.

    Also, Mary. A good thing to remember that there are some things that might be modified based on pastoral base, as the length of the liturgy, however, some traditions are important since it is based on core parts of Christianity (Eucharist, marriage, baptism). And yes, Church Fathers are not infallible individually but in what they teach is according to the Church (same with the Bible, Peter was not always infallible, yet we have books with his name).

    Also, it is good that you realize that unfortunately a lot of Christians become their own Pope since they believe how they interpret Scriptures is the right way, or they might get to the opposite and promote Christian relativism by saying we all worship in own our manner but what matter is Jesus.

    If you have any questions and you want to avoid discussion, you are always welcome to the Orthodox Forum.
    The Ancient Way - Eastern Orthodox
     
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  6. 2PhiloVoid

    2PhiloVoid It's always a challenge to get my point across! Supporter

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    You can go the route, like I did, with Philosophical Hermeneutics and just do two things: 1) look for the core themes of theological commonality between and among the many [Trinitarian?] minds, both male and female, who have led the various offshoots of the Church of Christ for the last nearly 2,000 years; the practical application of this is to take from and learn from both the good and the bad, the strengths and the weaknesses of the developments of thought that have lingered and progressed since the time of the 1st century, and 2) in addition to what you'll find in that Christian Smith book I recommended earlier, you might take a look at how some of the more progressive Protestants have attempted to reconcile, from their typically more isolated and/or fundamentalist traditions like your own, their own views on what it is to reach out and commune in Christ with Christians in other traditions.

    Another book among many that have been influential in helping me to reframe ways in which I may reconcile the vast [vast???] diversity of thought we find in the Church through history is:

    One Lord, One Faith: A Theology for Cross-Denominational Renewal by Rex A. Koivisto (1993) [...and it has the subtitle, "Discovering How a fresh vision of Tradition, Core Orthodoxy, and Catholicity can lead to renewal and cooperation within Christ's Church.]​

    This isn't to say that Koivisto lays out "the final answer," but 20 years ago when I read his book, I found that he was able to articulate a general, collective approach to understanding our mutually shared theologies, even while we each stay within our own denominations. Of course, one can find other voices, even of late, who press us all to just 'give up' denominations, but I think that we all of our own point of views as individual human beings, and so our respective interpretations (and interpolations) will need to constantly undergo revision for improved understanding [a.k.a the Hermeneutical Circle----you've probably already encountered this since you seem to be well read as anyone here, despite your age, Mary!]

    In the end, and practically speaking, we might want to philosophically consider 'why' God didn't just pre-package everything in a neat and tidy fashion so that no human being could argue about that elusive concept we call 'truth,' particularly Biblical Truth. Maybe He didn't feel He could trust any of us with that kind of final authority, so we're purposely left to help each other in proper spiritual charity and synergy to try to make theological cement for our biblical bricks.

    Of course, don't look at me and think....I'm trying to give you the 'final answer.' There isn't one here, and I've been looking for a longer time than you've been alive. Not that I'm a really an old fogey just yet, but I am getting there. :cool:
     
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  7. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    Nobody is really against her personally. I know I am not against her personally. It is the position or the belief they are against. For if she was considering Sola Scriptura, and everyone was trying to convince her otherwise, would you be saying the same words here? For Christians arguing for what they believe is right or wrong (with the Bible) is not a personal issue. We all believe we are right, but of course truth will win in the end. There is only one correct path to believe in. I put my trust in God's Word (the Bible) because traditions cannot be proven to be divine in origin like the Bible can.
     
  8. Not David

    Not David Der Ewige Katechumene

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    I also believe in the Word of God: Jesus.
     
  9. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    @Mary Meg

    God's Word claims that it is perfect (Psalms 12:6) (Psalms 119:140) (Proverbs 30:5) and that it will be preserved for all generations (Psalms 12:7) and it will stand forever (Isaiah 40:8) (1 Peter 1:25). Therefore, seeing Scripture plainly states these facts, it then becomes an issue of a test of your faith in God's Word (See the test the devil gave to Eve in Genesis 3:1); For the Bereans were more noble because they compared the spoken Word of God with the written Word of God (Acts of the Apostles 17:11). In other words, if the Bereans thought the written Word was corrupt in some way they would have no way of really knowing if the spoken Word of God was true or not.

    For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe." (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

    Mary, the above verse here says that the apostles received the word of God not as the words of men but as the words of God. This means that if it is truly God's Word, then it cannot be corrupted because everything God does is perfect and good (Especially His Word). For faith even comes by hearing the Word of God (i.e. the Bible) (See Romans 10:17).

    Mary, much like scientists who believe in Macro-Evolution make guesses as to things that have happened in the past, they cannot be tested in the same way like observational science. For there is a difference between Historical Science, and Observational Science.



    History written by men is not always a reliable thing. Men can lie. Granted, I am not saying that all of history is corrupt, but nowhere does the Bible teach that we must put our faith in historical documents made by men that is outside of God's Word (Scripture). In fact, the very definition of faith is in the fact you cannot see it.

    "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1).

    History is also something that you have to put your faith in. But the trick is that these documents that were written in history are created by fallible men with flaws and or who were sinful. God preserved His Word today under His protective power because He is God. Again, you can check the Observational evidence (or Observational Science) for yourself.

    The Bible has TONS of evidences that you can test in the present backing it up that it is truly divine in origin and perfect.

    Love Branch: Evidences for the Word of God

    I again, encourage you to check out my blogger article above.
    You will not.... find any evidence like this supporting church history or the written traditions of men from a church being divine in origin because documents by men were not inspired by God. It's why they fail. It's why you shouldn't put your trust in what men say, but in what God's Word says alone. Granted, I am not saying to completely ignore history altogether, but your faith should first be in the Bible, and if history happens to line up with God's Word, that just confirms the truth of what it says. But putting your faith in history or church traditions as being on the same level of God's Word (the Bible) is not what the Bible teaches.

    For what if all of history that you are looking at favorably is corrupted or colored to favor the agendas of men and not God? Would you prefer history and or church tradition over God's Word? That is what we are really talking about here. You cannot have both. One has to win in the end. I choose God's Word, and it is my hope and prayer that you will choose God's Word alone as your ultimate source of truth. For man will always disappoint, but God does not for He is perfect, good, and loving in a way that man cannot be.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  10. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    @Mary Meg

    You expressed before that you cannot know for sure God's Word.
    I say that you can know it just as airplane designers can know how to read a blueprint for the design of a plane. There are basic rules to understanding a written document.

    With the Bible we do these things:

    1. We ask God for the understanding.
    2. We look at the context.
    3. We look at cross references.
    4. We look to see if that word in the original language is repeated elsewhere that says the same thing.
    5. We look at basic morality when looking at a text (Because God is good).
    6. We look at what other believer's say on the matter.
     
  11. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    The Word of God can refer to the communicated Word (the Bible), or to the Living Word (Jesus). But we put our faith in both (obviously). Jesus was always in agreement with the communicated Word and He believed they brought life. Jesus says,

    “...the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (John 6:63).
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  12. Not David

    Not David Der Ewige Katechumene

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    In that case, the word of God is Holy Tradition too, since Paul said to "hold traditions in word or epistle".
     
  13. Gracia Singh

    Gracia Singh Newbie Supporter

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    Hey, @Mary Meg , I agree that you should check out the Catholic and Orthodox forums. Ask questions! It's always good to ask questions.
     
  14. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    No. It is more likely Paul was referring to the traditions as the spoken Word of God that can be confirmed by the written Word. The Bereans were more noble because they were able to confirm the spoken word of God with the written Word of God. At that time, it would have been only the OT Scriptures.

    The Bible tends to look at the appearance of the word “traditions” as mostly a bad thing and not a good thing.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
  15. Bible Highlighter

    Bible Highlighter Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul. Supporter

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    We shouldn’t make a whole religion on one word that is not so clear in the Bible. The point here is that we do not see clearly these added traditions mentioned in Scripture. They also cannot be proven to be divine in origin. Many of them are suspect of even violating God’s Word. So why add them? Jesus made it clear that we will be judged by his words (John 12:48) and not by traditions.
     
  16. thecolorsblend

    thecolorsblend If God is your Father, who is your Mother?

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    You raise interesting questions. The New Testament (which was written by the Church, we should emphasize) is full of doctrine but it is not exclusively doctrine. Certainly it is not presented in a systematic fashion to constitute the governing of the Church, how (and when) (and where) worship services are to be carried out, etc.

    For me as a Catholic, this poses no problem whatsoever. I believe in my Church's teaching authority and obviously I accept the authority of Sacred Tradition. These two acknowledgements on my part can be assumed and so the only question from there is what my Church teaches. After that, it is only a matter of conforming myself and my behaviors in accordance with this central religious authority in my life.

    Protestants, however, have a much tougher row to hoe because the New Testament is ambiguous in some instances and completely silent in other instances in relation to key matters of the timing, location and even the content of worship service. This need not be a problem, except that if Sacred Scripture be one's sole authority (or primary authority) (or first among equals) (or whatever some Protestants are advocating this week) then challenges immediately present themselves in that no clear scriptural guidelines exist to establish normative practice for much of anything.

    Indeed, one might get the suspicion that the writers of the New Testament wrote under the assumption that the reader/listener received clear instructions from some other source regarding the specifics of day-to-day religious observance and other matters as well.
     
  17. Tigger45

    Tigger45 St. Joseph Supporter

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    As a side note keep in mind Lutherans consider themselves highly indebted to both Luther and the EFC’s but they consider neither infallible and both are held to Sola Scriptura as is everything.
     
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  18. Mary Meg

    Mary Meg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for your kindness. I really do feel ganged up on today. I mean, I did ask for it, and I'm mostly enjoying it, but what happened to all the Orthodox and Catholic folks who were in my corner yesterday? There are still a couple of you here; thanks!

    The funny thing is, I didn't mean my post to be antagonistic. I am really looking for answers here. Protestants take my words to be a critique of Protestantism, when really what I'm trying to ask is, more than anything else, how can a Protestant deal with these ambiguities in Scripture? No matter how many times I'm told to "interpret Scripture with Scripture" -- I really have no idea how to do that or see how it's possible. Scripture doesn't tell us everything. Maybe it tells us "everything we need for salvation," but it doesn't really tell us everything we need to have an understanding of the faith and practice of the Early Church.

    I kind of thought "Scripture Vs. History" would be a sensational title... but I guess it's attracted the wrong kind of sensation!
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2019
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  19. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    Interesting, I sort of had stumbled on that sort of thing accidentally, but didn't know the name of it. On other message boards, I would spend some times talking about Sola Scriptura and other parts of Protestantism that I had some issues with. But I tried to be even handed, and mentioned areas of Orthodoxy that I thought were problematic to show that I was not just some one sided ideologue. But boy did that get me into trouble! In a personal email one EO guy did use the "uncovering the nakedness of my brother" type line (I mentioned how the Russian Church patriarch had compromised with the Communists) aka Sergianism. And I had to correct him, that it was not the same as revealing a private sin; because this is a matter of history that even his Church acknowledges on some of their official web sites!

    And I had a similar thing with my ex-wife when we were married. In a discussion, in a similar vein, I mentioned how the ancient Coptic monks burned the library of Alexandria. And my wife, had similar words for me, and I mentioned how I got that fact from Coptic.Church.net!
     
  20. Pavel Mosko

    Pavel Mosko Arch-Dude of the Apostolic Supporter

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    That really depends on the sources. Many writers actually sort of do say something exactly like that as a kind of slogan.
     
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