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"The early Christians said.." argument.

Discussion in 'Salvation (Soteriology)' started by Skala, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Hammster

    Hammster Our weapons are Word, Water, Bread, Wine. Staff Member Site Advisor Supporter

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    There is a singular truth. It's Jesus, as all scripture is about Him. The fact that there are different denominations doesn't change that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2013
  2. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    Awesome! I appreciate your time. :thumbsup:
     
  3. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    The singular, objective, unchanging truth is still there. The fact that tons of people believe tons of different things does not erase the fact that there is one truth. The Bible authors, when they wrote the texts, had one thing in mind and expect a reader to come away with the conclusion that they intended for them.

    If you read a Bible passage and come away with conclusion "B", but the author intended for you to come away with conclusion "A", it doesn't change the fact that conclusion A is the objective truth that is intended for you.
     
  4. pshun2404

    pshun2404 Newbie

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    If you read a Bible passage and come away with conclusion "B", but the author intended for you to come away with conclusion "A", it doesn't change the fact that conclusion A is the objective truth that is intended for you.

    Right, so since the people who God breathed His words through, whose minds were opened to the scriptures by Jesus Christ, understood conclusion “A” absolutely soundly…they all (Paul, Peter, John, etc.) and taught it to those they themselves trained and appointed to places of leadership, and they also taught the same conclusion they had been taught (Conclusion A)….people like Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Ignatius, and even Mark when he was sent to Alexandria all knew conclusion A because there was no other alternative conclusion.

    The same universally accepted conclusion A continued for generation after generation of leadership for 100s of years. Conclusion B came after. A preceded B…now today we host the entire alphabet of conclusions.

    Paul
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2013
  5. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    I love how EVERY topic of EVERY thread in this forum comes back to one, and only one, topic...this one :doh:

    And how we assume our conclusions as in, "Do you agree with the Bible when it says regeneration is monergistic..."

    Not "Do you agree with me when my tradition of interpretation says the Bible says regeneration is monergistic..."

    Good Lord no! That would be too honest and reveal that each of us has a tradition, and nobody actually "just teaches what the Bible says."

    Which brings this back to the actual OP. The early Christians were also "teaching what the Bible says." So those who come centuries later are basically asking us to (a) accept the early Christian's canon of what Scripture is, then (b) skip over the early Christians' understanding of those Scriptures that in many cases predate that very acceptance of the canon, to (c) accept their own traditions about how to interpret it.

    I have yet, even over the course of nearly two years of discussion with Reformed pastors and elders, ever to hear even the beginnings of a reasonable answer to this point that isn't entirely circular and based entirely on a rejection of the Roman Catholic Church.
     
  6. AndOne

    AndOne Deliver me oh Lord, from evil men

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    I think its best to FIRST look at scripture yourself before going to any one else's teaching or interpretation of it (weather it be the reformers, early church fathers, or whoever) - whereas I get the impression that you prefer to go to the church fathers and traditions first and then look at scripture in light of what they say.

    We all of our own presuppositions - that is true - but they are best stripped away when the Bible is read in isolation before going to someone else to get their interpretation. Now if you have done that and can still honestly say your traditions and writings of those church fathers that support your tradition hold merit in light of scripture then more power to you.

    This (putting scripture first) is what the reformers have done and why I tend to side with them in most areas of theology (particularly the puritans). Historically they look at scripture FIRST and they do this because it holds the singular authority in all matters of religion. I don't agree with Calvin on everything but I know from studying him that he genuinely tried to put scripture first in everything he wrote and preached and you can't fault the man for that - and you can't fault the reformers for it either.
     
  7. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    Skala, I can see that you are 100% sincere in what you're saying. I don't question that your motives are pure and pious. I get it. I was there. I don't know whether you fall into a particular Reformed denomination (mine was OPC) but I, too, wanted to purely extract only what author intended, to sweep away all the clutter and distractions I'd been told were added to the "pure faith" by the Church over time. And make no mistake, I still belive clutter and distractions were added. Some are still there, in Orthodoxy as much as anywhere.

    Years ago, I (as a good, staunch Calvinist) was asked by a grieving Catholic family member to read a passage at a great aunt's funeral. I didn't want to turn them down, so I figured "Even if it's a Mass, at least I'll be reading the Scriptures." I showed up the next morning to find that the passage was from the Wisdom of Solomon. Oh boy. Well, too late to turn back in front of a church packed with grieving family, I read it. Then that night read the entire book on my tiny cell phone screen. And said "why on earth isn't this part of Scripture?" More than a year later I finally had to conclude "I dont' accept this book purely because my Protestant TRADITION tells me not to."

    My Reformed pastor once told me that RCC and EO "cancel each other out" because they are just "dueling traditions" showing the need to "just read the Bible." I came to see that mine was actually just a third...yours a fourth...the Baptists a fifth (and 6th, 7th, 8th...1001st... ;))

    A couple comments for you:

    The author didn't intend anything for you or for me. The author intended the message for the church. Here's the key distinction, brother. It wasn't written to a bunch of individuals who then assemble to become the Church. It was written to the Church, who includes within herself a bunch of individuals. So off the bat, interpreting Scripture is an act that must happen within the Church. And the Reformed teach this very thing...they just have a circular method by which "the Church" becomes "those who interpret Scripture the way I do." That aside, however, the message is never aimed at me personally.

    Depends on how you define it. Best educated in matters of grammatical-historical interpretation, maybe? Sharpest logicians? Maybe. But if they came to wrong conclusions (which they did, by the standards of Christian doctrine up until...well, them basically) then they were excellent scholars and misguided exegetes.

    Bingo. They didn't make the canon. They recognized and received it. Why can't we also trust God to guide his church and establish doctrine and liturgy also through those same men?

    In other words, my goal can't be exegesis because I don't reach your conclusions. And you're right, there is no reconciliation. When I realized this, I wrestled for a good long while before deciding I had to move. The goal for the EO, in reading Scripture and everything, is to draw closer to God and to purify myself of error and sinful passion. The reading of Scripture is sacramental...not in the formal sense of "one out of seven" (which Orthodoxy really only adopted late in history, mainly following the Catholic numbering, and I'm not a fan of it)...but in the sense that one actually encounters Christ in and through Scripture. But not when it's wrested from its context and read as a book of facts...when it's read within the Body of Christ. Which is why we put so much stock in Tradition. It forms the stream within which we swim as we read and apply Scripture. No, the opinions of the men who first read it are not extra books of Scripture. They certainly never thought they were. But they are the continuing voice of our ancestors guiding us as we read the very books they received from their own ancestors, back to the source.

    If only it were that simple. To elaborate I'd say your standard is the early Church's tradition of the New Testament, with the Protestant tradition of the Old Testament, interpreted according to the Grammatical-Historical method, after presupposing a particular definition of the Church that frees you from the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

    What I believe you're missing, however sincerely, is that your own "current situation" has, in fact, become tradition.

    ,

    The vast majority, let's be clear. ;)

    *** Let me conclude by asking one question. Are you willing to admit that "sola scriptura" is, itself, a tradition? ***
     
  8. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    I don't fault Calvin for anything. Except his beard, but I guess that was the thing in Geneva at the time :p

    Presupposition: The "Bible" contains these books, but not those (someone's tradition)

    Presuppositin: There exists some identifiable entity called "the Church" that at least gave us a good idea of which books are in the Bible

    Presupposition: The Bible can be read in isolation, even from "the Church" that produced the canon that I'm using to read "the Bible" in isolation

    Presupposition: I know how to read the Bible, and then use my own conclusions to determine which views of "the Fathers" of "the Church" are reliable and which aren't.

    Doesn't sound neutral to me, nor like you are actually doing anything in isolation. Long before you ever open "the Bible" you have already laid down the foundation upon which you will build your understanding that will then serve to help you decide what to do next.

    The greatest assumption you've given, and the one that most diverges from the beliefs and methods of those people through whom the Bible has come to us, is that the Scriptures should be read in isolation.

    Does that make sense?
     
  9. guuila

    guuila Guest

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    So why don't you believe conclusion A?
     
  10. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    Well it's a soteriology forum after all :) Plus, I was just being snide beacuse he was being snide to me! :p

    "Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”"

    Does this passage describe the new birth as something man helps himself with? So you can see, the Bible teaches the new birth is monergistic. "The wind blows where it wishes (ie, autonomously), so it is with everyone born of the Spirit.


    If you can show me an alternative interpretation that is not tainted by tradition, I'd love to see it.


    Jesus expected his hearers to be familiar with the scriptures of their times. He didn't say "The earliest believers believed ____!" instead, he said "the scriptures say..." and held people accountable for not being familiar with what the text says.

    It's obvious, then, that Jesus himself considered the scriptures to be authoritative. Why are protestants wrong in trying to follow His example?
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2013
  11. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    I'm sorry, but this does not come across as a genuine request as it commits the fallacy of begging the question.
     
  12. guuila

    guuila Guest

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    How so?
     
  13. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    The request automatically assumes that alternative interpretations are "tainted by tradition."
     
  14. guuila

    guuila Guest

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    So prove him wrong.
     
  15. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    Actually, the request assumed that you assumed that the original interpretation was tainted by tradition. The request was giving you an opportunity to provide a translation that wasn't tainted by tradition (ie, the proper, correct interpretation)
     
  16. Tzaousios

    Tzaousios Αυγουστινιανικός Χριστιανός

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    Ah, so we are to understand that you now acknowledge that you and other Reformed members assume a particular interpretative tradition when you exegete Scripture? If not, I don't see what else can be gleaned from your explanation above.
     
  17. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    Skala, as I said in an earlier post (that I still hope you'll interact with) I see your sincerity. But your responses indicate that you're existing as something of an "eye in the sky" that cannot see itself. You genuinely do not seem to see your own circularity or your presupposition of your own rightness, nor the parlor trick of equating your interpretation of the Bible, with the Bible itself, so that you can happily go on believing that all who disagree are actually disagreeing with God and not with you.

    I know :) But I hope you'd acknowledge that this one, singular issue is not the entirety of soteriology.

    What on earth does this passage have to do with the topic of how we should regard the opinion of the Church Fathers? And why are you essentially assuming that they were not born of and guided by the spirit, or at least not as guided as you are?

    This statement (and please accept this in a spirit of gentleness) has reached new heights of absurdity. :thumbsup:

    Have you appreciated the point yet, that there is no interpretation that is not guided by tradition? What on earth does "tainted" even mean? Meaning, doesn't agree with how you see things?

    How about this? The very thing you reference, Jesus' words about being born of water and the spirit, was always understood as a reference to baptism. It equates to "unless you are baptized, you cannot see the kingdom of God." This is how the Church viewed it, until the Reformed tradition some 16 centuries later decided to un-view it that way, as an overreaction against the Roman Catholics. Do you seriously not believe that YOUR view is tainted by tradition?

    Who is saying that we aren't supposed to be familiar with what the text of Scripture says? What is your point?

    Your phrasing assumes that anyone who doesn't utilize Scripture as Protestants do, necessarily does not consider the scriptures to be authoritative. This thread is becoming a machine...I pull the lever, out pops a fallacy :doh:
     
  18. Ignatius21

    Ignatius21 Can somebody please pass the incense?

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    Why don't you provide an interpretation that isn't tainted by tradition. You haven't yet. You think you have, so how about first explaining why your traditions don't count as traditions, while everyone else's do.

    Often the Reformed like to point out that, as opposed to those evangelicals who disregard tradition entirely (itself a tradition), they "utilize the best of tradition."

    Which means you even have traditions about how to use traditions.

    Does anyone else see this?
     
  19. Skala

    Skala I'm a Saint. Not because of me, but because of Him

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    Sigh. The point I was making is that the EO have no basis for telling someone that they are interpreting scripture wrongly. If it doesn't match EO's traditions, it must be wrong.

    That is why I challenged him to show me how (and I was just using regeneration as an example) regeneration could be translated as being anything other than monergistic, per the statements Christ made in John 3.

    In other words, when we ask how and why it's wrong, you never actually try to provide an exegetical argument or response (even if that response is driven by your EO tradition, that's fine! as long as you at least attempt a response). But as it stands, no scriptural arguments are made. Our assertions are simply dismissed as "it does not match the EO tradition, therefore it is wrong". You say "you're interpreting it according to western thought (whatever that means??) and "according to reformed tradition" (ok fair enough, but the words on the Bible's pages have to mean something! so what in fact, do they mean?!)

    So far, it is extremely difficult to talk doctrine and scripture with an EO person. It seems like the mindset is that nobody can really know, absolutely, what a passage of the Bible is talking about. If it doesn't match the EO, it's wrong. If it matches the reformed tradition, it's wrong.

    Why? Who knows! No exegesis is being done to try to figure it out. When we ask you to show us how our understanding is wrong, you say that we are too far apart, and we are starting on two different feet, so we can never reach a conclusion. In other words, apparently, to be EO you have to somehow adopt this entire new mindset and worldview. And then and only then can you properly understand scripture, theology, salvation, etc.

    Right now, I'm so confused.
     
  20. Knee V

    Knee V It's phonetic.

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    We have done exegesis, and on numerous occasions. It's just that the basis of our exegesis is different from yours. Additionally, our view of what Scripture is in the first place is different. We are not trying to use the Scriptures to derive truth. Rather for us, and for the first Christians up through the Reformation, Scripture is something that *bears witness* to truth, but does not constitute the basis of truth. So when we read the New Testament, we are not trying to figure out what it means. Rather, we read it (publicly and privately) in order to proclaim and inter into the thing that the Scriptures are proclaiming.

    The Scriptures already mean what they mean, and our own subjective opinions have no bearing on that. They mean what they mean, and they were written within and delivered to a community who had a particular outlook and context. We can see how the Apostles lived that message, and we can see how their disciples and the communities that they started understood those words to mean.

    We do not approach the Scriptures supposing that a proper formula of dissecting the meaninf of words will yield a particular correct result. Rather, we approach them submitting to what they already objectively mean, and then read them in that light.

    Thus with John 3, the community within which the Gospel of John was written understood from the beginning (and while John was still fully alive and kicking, and still very much a part of forming their outlook on his own writings) that the dialogue with Nicodemus refers to Baptism. That is the Apostolic meaning of the text, regardless of what we may or may not get out of a private reading divorced from that Apostolic context.
     
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