Saturday, February 09, 2008

JAY DYER'S RESPONSES TO MY QUESTIONS TO FOLLOW SOON

Hello readers. It has been a good debate thus far. I have sent my six cross-examination question to Jay Dyer and he told me he would answer them as soon as possible. I have appreciated his cordiality in the midst of our debate.

To whet the appetite of our readers, here are the six questions I asked him that he will respond to:

1. Jay, Kallistos Ware admits that the Orthodox have a problem when it comes to the Ecumenical Councils because there were some where bishops were present but the Church does not accept, i.e., the "Robber" Council. The Orthodox try to respond to this by saying, then, that it is the idea of what the "Church accepts," and that's the only way, then, that a Council is viewed as dogmatic. But the problem here is that the Oriental churches (Copts, etc.) do not accept the Formula of Chalcedon and are monophysite. So, how would one "searching out" the truth of Orthodoxy know if he or she should accept the Oriental churches (monophysite) or the Orthodox, based upon that line of reasoning?

2. I of course reject the Pope as you do, but, it seems inconsistent to me that you have such a high view of the Church Fathers here given your thought. You have said that the Eastern Fathers did not accept the *jurisdictional* authority of the Pope, but merely a primacy of honor. But if that is the case, then how do you explain the numerous *Eastern* Father's quotes which very clearly spell out a *universal* primacy with regards to *jurisdiction* when it comes to the Roman Pontiff?

3. Wouldn't you say that Scripture, as part of your tradition, is necessary for faith and life? If so, then how can one not see it as problematic that the Orthodox Church can't even agree as to the extent of the canon (the extent of the rule for faith and life)?

4. If the Holy Spirit proceeds ontologically from the Father alone, as the Orthodox understand, and not from the Father and the Son (filioque), how do you understand the fact that He is called the "Spirit of Christ"?

5. Your quotes on infant baptism have shown once again how paedobaptists beg the question. If infant baptism was so clearly the apostolic practice, then why does it not become universal, as many scholars now agree, until well until the sixth century, and why do we find no clear evidence of it practiced at all until the late second/early third century?

6. How does Orthodoxy deal with the numerous Scripture texts which speak of "atonement" and "guilt" and "judicial reckoning" etc., being that it has an aversion to judicial categories? How does this not further prove that Orthodoxy does not take into account the full biblical revelation?

42 comments:

Saint and Sinner said...

"So, how would one "searching out" the truth of Orthodoxy know if he or she should accept the Oriental churches (monophysite) or the Orthodox, based upon that line of reasoning?"

To add to that, I'd note that the Patriarchate of Babylon accepted Nestorianism and broke off relations with the bishops of the Roman empire.

So really, 'Orthodoxy' is just another name for Eastern Roman, emperor-enforced Christianity.

The belief that it was accepted always, everywhere, and by all is completely false.

B.J. said...

Josh,
There was a show on the History channel recently that had some interesting points. I can't remember the historians name, but he wrote that Christians in the first century were drinking blood, eating flesh, and drowning infants. I have tried to find something about it online without sucess. Isn't that interesting?

Josh Brisby said...

B.J.,

The early Christians were called "cannibals" because, to put it bluntly, the Zwinglian view of the Lord's Table was never taught or believed until Zwingli. The Calvinist view was always believed, i.e., that, although the elements remain bread and wine, because of our union with Christ, we do partake of both the divinity and the body of Christ, i.e., His literal body and blood. Christians were called cannibals b/c of this.

As far as drowning infants, I've never heard that one before. I find it doubtful, especially because infant baptism shows up nowhere until the very late 2nd century, and was not the universal practice until the sixth or seventh century. Even many paedobaptist scholars agree with this now.

orthodox said...

I find these questions rather deficient because the evidence of the premise of a number of them is not documented. It would be valid to simply respond that you don't agree with the premise and leave it at that.

Canadian said...

Josh said:
"The Calvinist view was always believed,"

Is that "always" an appeal...to...well...always? As in...like...always?....sorta like Vincent's "always"?
Nah, couldn't be...a certain trusty commenter or two would have cut down that heretical dictum if it was, right?.

Oh, by the way. Could you provide where the Father's "always" believed that they ascended into heaven by the Spirit of God to partake of Christ in a spiritual manducation for the feeding of our souls only, by faith?

Saint and Sinner said...

"Is that "always" an appeal...to...well...always?"

I would agree that once Josh starts using church history as an authority to appeal to for doctrine, then he's opened up a can of worms for himself.

OR

He could use church history as an internal critique of his opponent's position. Both RCs and EOs *have* to have church history on their side. It is their foundational authority through which they interpret the Bible. By showing that the early fathers either did not believe what modern RCism or EOxy teach, we are showing that they are false by their own standard.

"Oh, by the way. Could you provide where the Father's "always" believed that they ascended into heaven by the Spirit of God to partake of Christ in a spiritual manducation for the feeding of our souls only, by faith?"

Both J.N.D. Kelly and Philip Schaff have shown that there was great diversity amongst the fathers in their opinion of the Eucharist. There was no ONE view, and thus, ther was no apostolic tradition concerning Christ's presence.

Saint and Sinner said...

BTW,

James White just did a Dividing Line on this very subject.

http://www.aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=2520

Josh Brisby said...

Saint and Sinner,

Thanks. I stand corrected. --Josh

orthodox said...

Showing various views of the fathers does not establish that they disagree with each other. If we accepted James White's interpretation of Augustine and compared it with Augustine's other comments, we would have to assume that Augustine conflicted with himself.

But it could it be that actually the different views are actually different facets of the one truth and the fathers didn't contradict themselves? Or should we immediately assume that even Augustine was schizophrenic? The Atheist hermeneutic of the bible, assume conflict?

Saint and Sinner said...

"Showing various views of the fathers does not establish that they disagree with each other. If we accepted James White's interpretation of Augustine and compared it with Augustine's other comments, we would have to assume that Augustine conflicted with himself."

No. You simply sythesize those passages. Most people forget that Augustine was a Platonist. Thus, he has highly literal imagery in liturgical matters but gives strict figurative/symbolical meanings in his more systematic writings.

Canadian said...

S&S said:
"No. You simply sythesize those passages. Most people forget that Augustine was a Platonist. Thus, he has highly literal imagery in liturgical matters but gives strict figurative/symbolical meanings in his more systematic writings."

As to Augustines view of the Eucharist JND Kelly says:
"...but a balanced verdict must agree that he accepted the current realism. Thus preaching on the sacrament...he remarked,'that bread which you see on the altar, sanctified by the Word of God, is Christ's body. The contents of that cup...is Christ's blood. 'You know', he said in another sermon,'Whom you are eating and Whom you are drinking.'"
Then Kelly says:
"There can be no doubt that he [Augustine] shared the realism held by almost all his contemporaries and predecessors."

As to differing views of the Eucharist JND Kelly says:
"Occasionally these writers use language which has been held to imply that, for all its realist sound, their use of the terms 'body' and 'blood' may after all be merely symbolical...Yet we should be cautious about interpreting such expressions in a modern fashion."
He later gives numerous examples of more "symbolical" descriptions of the Eucharist by some Fathers and says: "It must not be supposed, of course, that this 'symbolical' language implied that the bread and wine were regarded as...tokens of absent realities."
Again:
"Eucharistic teaching, it should be understood at the outset, was in general unquestioningly realist, i.e. the consecrated bread and wine were taken to be...the Saviour's body and blood....
All quotations from "Early Christian Doctrines".

I don't see any ascending into heaven here, and it appears that "differences" in Eucharistic doctrine in the ancient church are more likely the result of atomistic proof-texting of the Father's by hopeful naysayers.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

Since you are looking into Orthodoxy, I think you need to see something important:

How does an Orthodox person know that their church is the true one, much less what to believe? At first, the Orthodox would say that a council is Ecumenical and to be believed if the totality of bishops were present; but when this didn't work b/c of the famous "Robber Council," which had that quality, the Orthodox now say that what the Church "accepts" as true is what to believe.

There are things the Fathers teach that Orthodoxy does not agree with. There are things that Councils taught that Orthodoxy does not adhere to. So, how does one know what to believe?

Furthermore, under this line of reasoning, as I asked Jay, and as Kallistos Ware readily admits is problematic, why shouldn't an inquirer consider the Oriental, monophysites as a choice? Have you considered them? (Not that I want you to--just showing the inadequacy here.)

All this talk about the life of the Church and its Tradition and thought as evidence of the "truth" of Orthodoxy is just all bark and no bite. You see, when all is said and done, Canadian, the Orthodox have the same "problem" that Protestants "have."

Saint and Sinner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saint and Sinner said...

"I don't see any ascending into heaven here, and it appears that "differences" in Eucharistic doctrine in the ancient church are more likely the result of atomistic proof-texting of the Father's by hopeful naysayers."

Just because they were "realist" doesn't mean that they all held to the same view. Consubstantiation and Transubstantiation are both "realist" views. Even Calvin's view is "realist" in a sense.

Right after one of the quotes you gave, Kelly says this:

"Rather were they accepted as signs of realities which were somehow actually present though apprehended by faith alone. For a truly spiritualizing interpretation we must look to the heirs of the Origenist tradition. Eusebius of Caesarea, for example, while usually content with the 'symbolical' doctrine, is also prepared to deduce from John 6 that what our Lord said about eating His flesh and drinking His blood must be understood in a spiritual sense. The flesh and blood which He required His disciples to eat and drink were not His physical flesh and blood, but rather His teaching. Evagrius Ponticus echoes this approach when he writes, 'We eat His flesh and drink His blood, becoming partakers through the incarnation both of the sensible life of the Word and of His wisdom. For by the terms "flesh" and "blood" He both denoted the whole of His mystic sojourning on earth, and pointed to His teaching, consisting as it did of practical, natural and theological insights.'" (p.442)

There were actually men who denied the so-called "obvious" interpretation of John 6?!? (A tad bit of sarcasm there.)

Oh, but he goes on:

"Almost everywhere, however, this conception of the sacrament was yielding ground to the more popular, vividly theory which regarded the elements as being converted into the Lord's body and blood." (ibid.)

If something "gives ground" to a "more popular" "theory", then doesn't that mean that one belief was not held always, everywhere, and by all?

Yes, there were both consubstantiationist and transubstantiationist views in the church. There was also the Origenist view which believed that Christ was "really" present but only apprehended by faith alone. There was no change in the bread and wine but by partaking Christ in the bread and wine, you were actually partaking his ***wisdom***.

There was *no* ONE view which was believed always, everywhere, and by all.

Canadian said...

Josh,
Thanks for the irenic reply.
You said:
"How does an Orthodox person know that their church is the true one, much less what to believe?"
How does a Protestant person know that their church is the true one, much less what to believe?

"why shouldn't an inquirer consider the Oriental, monophysites as a choice? Have you considered them? (Not that I want you to"
On what basis do you say "not that I want you to?" For some reason, you seem to have some epistemic certainty that you believe I can't have about monophysitism. From where does that come?

"All this talk about the life of the Church and its Tradition and thought as evidence of the "truth" of Orthodoxy is just all bark and no bite."
All of this talk about the recovery/rediscovery of the Church and its true Tradition and original thought as evidence of the truth of [Reformed Baptist]Protestantism is just all bark and no bite.

"You see, when all is said and done, Canadian, the Orthodox have the same "problem" that Protestants "have."
If you admit that Protestants and Orthodox have the same problem (I assume you mean problem of certainty) then why do you so boldly declare that Orthodox Christians can only be saved by accident and only if ignorant of what the Church believes to be true? Again, for reasons unknown, you are much more generous to Augustine.
You have decided on a tradition of scriptural interpretation that you believe to be the best as you understand it. I have been in that very tradition for several years (Reformed Baptist) and have come away with huge unanswered questions and inconsistencies.

Thanks for the challenges, though. I will not go to Orthodoxy blindly.

Canadian said...

S&S,
You continue to try to sink ships with pinholes above the water line.
If you find any dissenter, or variance of thought, you point and jump up and down and flash neon signs and scream "see Vincent was wrong and so was the entire church for century upon century!" Origen also thought of eucharist as sacrifice and promoted reverence for the consecrated elements, he was no Calvinist. If you feel comfortable holding things that have only recently been held by anyone because of the tradition you are in, or because of your tabula rasa exegetical skills, that's fine, but I don't see many attempts at plugging the holes of your own 300-400 year old ship, just constant efforts to sink others'.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

No offense, but your last post to me simply dodged the issues I brought up. You committed a tu quoque fallacy--you just pointed the finger in my direction without ever having answered my concerns.

I am glad you are not going into Orthodoxy blindly. The point is, we Protestants can have a great deal of certainty about our faith and defend it on its own terms. I was merely asking, given the presuppositions of Eastern Orthodoxy and its view of Councils and the mind of the Church, how one has *any* degree of certainty with regards to Oriental/monophysite Orthodoxy, since the *presuppositions* of Eastern Orthodoxy could lead one to *either*.

I think it would help to progress the dialogue here if you answered that particular question.

Saint and Sinner said...

Canadian,

You obviously don't know the elementary difference between using the fathers as proof of your side and using them as an internal critique of the opponent's side.

I don't pretend to find Calvin's doctrines in the fathers. In fact, as the picture above suggests, I'm a Zwinglian when it comes to the sacraments.

"If you feel comfortable holding things that have only recently been held by anyone because of the tradition you are in, or because of your tabula rasa exegetical skills,"

The tabula rasa argument applies to one's interpretation of the fathers as well. One could always reply that the fathers were more clear than Scripture (which I would dispute), but once you do this, you make the difference in perspicuity between them one of degree and not of kind. [And of course, since the fathers contradict each other, the whole claim of perspicuity can be easily disputed.]

Lastly, as Steve Hays noted in an earlier comment, the "inner psychology" problem can be solved (to the best of human certainty) through comparison of arguments from exegetes.

"but I don't see many attempts at plugging the holes of your own 300-400 year old ship, just constant efforts to sink others'."

Historical theology is not my standard, and so, I don't see any "holes" in my ship. To make historical theology the standard is to beg the very question under dispute.

Canadian said...

Schaaf on council in 448 which already dealt with monophysitism and Eutyches:
At a local synod of the patriarch Flavian at Constantinople in 448 Eutyches was charged with his error by Eusebius, bishop of Dorylaeum in Phrygia, and upon his wilful refusal, after repeated challenges, to admit the dyophysitism after the incarnation, and the consubstantiality of Christ’s body with our own, he was deposed and put under the ban of the church. On his way home, he was publicly insulted by the populace. The council confessed its faith that “Christ, after the incarnation, consisted of two natures in one hypostasis and in one person, one Christ, one Son, one Lord.” Both parties endeavored to gain the public opinion, and addressed themselves to distant bishops, especially to Leo I. of Rome.
Leo, in 449, confirmed the decision of the council in several epistles, especially in a letter to Flavian, which forms an epoch in the history, of Christology, and in which he gave a masterly, profound, and clear analysis of the orthodox doctrine of two natures in one person. But Eutyches had powerful friends among the monks and at the court, and a special patron in Dioscurus of Alexandria, who induced the emperor Theodosius II. to convoke a general council.


Schaaf on Robber Council:
"The council affirmed the orthodoxy and sanctity of Eutyches, who defended himself in person; adopted the twelve anathematisms of Cyril; condemned dyophysitism as a heresy, and deposed and excommunicated its advocates, including Theodoret, Flavian, and Leo. The three Roman delegates (the bishops Julius and Renatus, and the deacon Hilarus) dared not even read before the council the epistle addressed to it by Leo, Flavian was so grossly maltreated by furious monks that he died of his wounds a few days later, in banishment, having first appealed to a new council."
"The conduct of these unpriestly priests was throughout so arbitrary and tyrannical, that the second council of Ephesus has ever since been branded with the name of the “Council of Robbers"


From: http://mb-soft.com/believe/txw/orthcoun.htm

Council at Ephesus Heretical (known historically as 'Robber Council' 449 AD
After Eutyches appeals to the patriarch of Alexandria (Dioscorus) who exonerates him (although it was against canon law to do so), a council is called which restricts the number of Flavian's supporters allowed to attend whilst augmenting the number of Eutyches' supporters, is chaired by Dioscorus who refuses to allow Flavian to speak in his own defence, refuses to hear Saint Leo of Rome's Tome of Leo (his response to reports of the Synod of 448). Eutyches is exonerated, Saint Flavian deposed (and shortly thereafter beaten to death by supporers of Eutyches), all who confess 'two natures' in the Lord Jesus Christ's Person are declared anathema.

It is evident that the Robber Council was going against previously established dogma about the Person and Natures of Christ. It was handpicked and stacked against orthodox truth already declared. Chalcedon, two years later, established this firmly. Leo's Tome which had widely circulated previous to the Robber Council was included at this Council as evidence against the aforementioned heresies. Monophysitism was never the received dogma of the Ecumenical church.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

Help me understand here--are you saying that what an Ecumenical Council *first* declares, or whatever Council comes *first* is what makes something dogma? If so, then once again you run into problems b/c the councils that *affirmed* iconoclasm and *rejected* iconodulism came *first*. Later, the councils *repudiated* iconoclasm and embraced the iconodules, and to this day, as you know, the Orthodox remain iconodules.

So, if that's what you were saying, then you'll have to find a different route to answer the Ecumenical Council problem. Again, even Orthodox scholars admit this is a problem.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

From Timothy Ware's The Orthodox Church, excerpts from pp. 251-54:

"But councils of bishops can err and be deceived. How then can one be certain that a particular gathering is truly an Ecumenical Council and therefore that its decrees are infallible? Many councils have considered themselves ecumenical and have claimed to speak in the name of the whole Church, and yet the Church has rejected them as heretical: Ephesus in 449, for example, or the Iconoclast Council of Hieria in 754, or Florence in 1438-9. Yet these councils seem in no way different in outward appearance from the Ecumenical Councils. What, then, is the criterion for determining whether a council is ecumenical?

"This is a more difficult question to answer than might first appear, and though it has been much discussed by Orthodox during the past hundred years, it cannot be said that the solutions suggested are entirely satisfactory . . .

" . . . Khomiakov and his school gave an answer which at first sight appears clear and straightforward: a council cannot be considered ecumenical unless its decrees are accepted by the whole Church . . . (One might object: What about Chalcedon? It was rejected by Syria and Egypt--can we say, then, that it was 'accepted by the Church at large'?) . . . This emphasis on the need for councils to be received by the Church at large has been viewed with suspicion by some Orthodox theologians, both Greek and Russian . . . [b]ut in a qualified and carefully guarded form, Khomiakov's view is now fairly widely accepted in contemporary Orthodox thought."

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

I was thinking about something else as I re-read your recent post. First, the Orthodox do not consider local synods or local councils as binding, since they are not ecumenical. Second, it's interesting that historically there was an appeal to Pope Leo I. So if you wish to appeal to historical theology, here you have another case of the Roman Catholicism inherent in the post-third century church.

You see, Rome looks at all this chaos and they say "that's why you need a Pope to declare which councils are dogma." As a Protestant, I look at the Ecumenical Council chaos, and on the other side, I look at all the Popes which have contradicted each other (as Luther correctly noted at the Diet of Worms), and that's why I take comfort in Sola Scriptura.

Canadian said...

Josh,
You said:
"So if you wish to appeal to historical theology..."

I appreciate and understand where you are going here, however, as I was trying to get at in the post where you thought I was dodging your questions, you rely on historical theology as much as I do. You trust the scriptures you have, you think it is essential to have proper definition of the Trinity and the Natures and Person of Christ, you rely on Reformation interpretations of scriture to be consistent.....you didn't come up with these on your own! The hermeneutical rules for sola scriptura are extra-biblical themselves, if you recall. It's not like the Father's or myself don't test all things against scripture.

Also, considering that I am not Orthodox or a theologian or very well versed in conciliar history, I am not going to pretent I can give a reasonable Orthodox defence in this regard. Thanks for taking the time to discuss these things.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

I appreciate your demeanor as well in this dialogue. It's good to have you here at The Reformed Oasis.

As to historical theology, I readily admit that I use it as well. To answer your earlier question about my view of Augustine, my current thought about him and the other Fathers is that they never outright *denied* justification by faith alone. I have seen statements from the Fathers on both sides of the issue.

I would agree with R.C. Sproul that Rome used to be a true church, and I would add the same thing about the East. However, today both Rome and the East have rejected justification by faith alone, and on this basis that is why I cannot consider them my brothers, albeit painfully.

So, I do indeed look to the Fathers and the Councils, because they were at a time before they outright rejected justification by faith alone. Also, as a Protestant, in my system I look to them as not infallible, but look to Scripture alone as the infallible court of arbitration. It's Rome and the East that I think run into problems with their views of the Councils, and Rome with her view of the Papacy.

The reason I don't believe this is inconsistent for me as a Protestant to glean from the Fathers and certain councils is because we look to Scripture alone, and when the Fathers agree with Scripture, we agree with them; when they disagree with Scripture, and especially many times outright, we strongly disagree with them. (Consider the Fathers' defective views on the perpetual virginity of Mary--which even Luther and Calvin still held to--or their views on sex or their views on praying to the saints.)

I hope that helps answer your question about Augustine and historical theology. Feel free to let me know your thoughts on this.

Canadian said...

Josh,
You said: "my current thought about him and the other Fathers is that they never outright *denied* justification by faith alone."

Augustine on Justification:
"You are the only authorities who suppose that JUSTIFICATION is conferred by the remission alone of sins. Certainly God JUSTIFIES the impious man not only by remitting the evil deeds which that man does, but ALSO by granting LOVE, so that the man may turn away from evil and may DO GOOD THROUGH the Holy Spirit." (Against Julian 2:165)

John Chrysostom:
"Is it ENOUGH, then, to BELIEVE in the Son," someone will say, "in order to have everlasting life?" BY NO MEANS!...But why should I speak of a PART of our teaching? For if a man BELIEVE rightly in the Father and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit, but does not LIVE RIGHTLY, his faith will avail him NOTHING TOWARD SALVATION. (Homilies on John 31:1)

Gregory Nyssa:
Faith without works of justice is not sufficient for salvation . . . (Homilies on Ecclesiastes, 8; Jurgens, II, 45-46)

etc, etc...

For you to imply that Justification wasn't yet articulated or wasn't yet "on the table" until after the Reformation brought it to the fore seems untenable. Also, it is a denial of the sufficiency of scripture. If sola fide is scriptural and scripture is perspicuous, then the Father's have no excuse and denied the gospel. All of them!
Early heretics who denied the essentials about the deity of Christ are not off the hook just because the issue didn't come to open discussion and deeper formulation until some time later, are they? You imply that ignorance gives a free pass, it seems quite obvious they were not ignorant of the idea of sola fide. So they canonized, passed on and preserved the scriptures, worked out our Christology, fought valiantly for the Trinity, turned paganism and nations on their head, but they had no idea about Justification?

steve said...

BTW, guys, the Council of Ferrara-Florence (1438-39) is another big-time embarrassment for Orthodoxy.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

But even as a Protestant none of the above quotes I disagreed with. That is why it is vital that we clarify our terms. "Salvation" includes the whole package of regeneration, justification, definitive sanctification, repentance, progressive sanctification, and glorification. Indeed, as James says, our faith is made complete by what we do. Calvin himself agreed that "we are justified by faith alone, but not by a faith that IS alone." The Reformers all agreed with this. Their concern was whether one was resting in Christ or not. Their concern was what one would say to God on judgment day. If anyone were to actually say, "Lord, it's because I did good works," then that person was toast. That was the Reformers' concern.

Again, I see no statements in the Fathers where they outright *denied* justification by faith alone. I see statements even where they uphold it, and other statements where they seem to speak of a kind of justification by works; but none where they deny justification by faith alone.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

Also, I must readily admit that the Fathers did believe things which to me seem obviously biblically untenable, as did Calvin and Luther: the perpetual virginity of Mary, infant baptism (though not all of them), that sex with your spouse is only permissible for the purpose of conception alone, prayers to the saints, etc. Many of the Fathers were influenced by Neo-Platonism as well, especially Augustine, but I think he retracted some of this in his Retractions.

The point being, that some things are very biblically obvious (I think Scripture is clear that Mary was not "ever-virgin"), but the Fathers still believed them b/c of their influences. I think the same thing happens today in American evangelicalism and our culture.

Saint and Sinner said...

"So they canonized, passed on and preserved the scriptures, worked out our Christology, fought valiantly for the Trinity, turned paganism and nations on their head, but they had no idea about Justification?"

I think the "sola fide should have been believed in had it been biblical" argument needs to be challenged.

It assumes what the Orthodox here have been accusing us of, namely doxastic voluntarism. The thoughts of the church fathers were very much enculturated:

“The earlier patristic period represents the age of the exploration of concepts, when the proclamation of the gospel within a pagan culture was accompanied by an exploitation of both Hellenistic culture and pagan philosophy as vehicles for theological advancement…Indeed, by the end of the fourth century, the Greek fathers had formulated a teaching on human free will based upon philosophical rather than biblical foundations. Standing in the great Platonic tradition, heavily influenced by Philo, and reacting against the fatalisms of their day, they taught that man was utterly free in his choice of good or evil…It is quite possible that the curious and disturbing tendency of the early fathers to minimize original sin and emphasize the freedom of fallen man is a consequence of their anti-Gnostic polemic…Justin’s anti-fatalist arguments can be adduced from practically any of the traditional pagan refutations of astral fatalisms, going back to the second century B.C.”
–Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 2nd edition (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, reprinted 1998), pp.17, 19, 20.

“…it is necessary to observe that the early theologians of the western church were dependant upon their Latin versions of the Bible, and approached their texts and their subject with a set of presuppositions which owed more to the Latin language and culture than to Christianity itself. The initial transference of a Hebrew concept to a Greek, and subsequently to a Latin, context point to a fundamental alteration in the concepts of ‘justification’ and ‘righteousness’ as the gospel spread from its Palestinian source to the western world.”
–Alister E. McGrath, Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, 2nd edition (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, reprinted 1998), p.15.

Likewise, the fathers, while still teaching the Biblical doctrine of analogy, for the most part accepted the non-Biblical, scale-of-being ontology (in which grace or energies 'elevates' nature, moving the soul closer ontologically toward God). While the doctrine of analogy kept their view distinct from Platonism, the basic assumptions of salvation through elevation were accepted. Because of this, it followed that man's path of salvation would be via working your way toward God.

Since the church fathers did not "go back to the sources" as the Reformers did, they ended up believing in their un-Biblical ontology. Once they accepted the presupposition of the scale-of-being ontology, exegetically deriving sola fide through the lens of those glasses became impossible. They weren't even thinking in the right categories that would allow them to see it.

Saint and Sinner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Canadian said...

Josh,
There's probably more important points to address in what you said but, here goes :-)

John Chrysostom on the marriage bed:
"The power of this love is truly stronger than any passion; other desires may be strong, but this one alone never fades. This love (eros) is deeply planted within our inmost being. Unnoticed by us, it attracts the bodies of men and women to each other...Don't be annoyed by her complaints; she loves you, she is not behaving absurdly--her complaints come from her fervent affection for you, and from fear. Yes, she is afraid that her marriage bed will be stolen, that someone will deprive her of her greatest blessing, that someone will take from her him who is her head."

"How do husband and wife become one flesh? As if she were gold receiving the purest gold, the woman receives the man’s seed with rich pleasure, and within her it is nourished, cherished, and refined. It is mingled with her own substance and returned as a child. But suppose there is no child; do they then remain two and not one? No; their intercourse effects the joining of their bodies, and they are made one, just as when perfume is mixed with ointment."

The Council of Gangra (325-381) resolved, "If anyone shall condemn marriage, let him be anathema" and "If anyone of those who are living a virgin life for the Lord’s sake should treat the married arrogantly, let him be anathema."

During the first ecumenical council at Nicea, a motion was raised for mandatory celibacy among the clergy. But St. Pophanatrus—himself a celibate monk—objected, saying that "marriage and married intercourse are of themselves honorable and undefiled," and his words carried the day.
The motion for celibacy at Nicea was proposed by Western bishops, and the celibate priesthood soon became a rule in the West. But in the East, the Greek council of Trullo (692) reaffirmed the earlier tradition:
We know it to be handed down as a rule of the Roman church that those who are deemed worthy of the diaconate of priesthood should promise no longer to live with their wives; but we, preserving the ancient and apostolic perfection and order, will that the lawful marriages of men who are in holy orders be from this time forward firm, by no means dissolving their union with their wives, nor depriving them of their mutual intercourse.
from:Sex & the Early Church
(essay by Sam Torode, 2005)

Josh Brisby said...

Saint and Sinner,

Good thoughts. You seem to know more about the Fathers than I do, so I was wondering if you would say that the early Fathers outright denied justification by faith alone or not. I want to make my arguments properly. Do you think that they denied the gospel? They were certainly influenced by neo-Platonism.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

It is true that priests can be married in the East, but deacons cannot, and if a priest's wife dies, he may not remarry.

Also, I was thinking some more on your arguments above and historical theology. I plan on showing in my closing statement how the early Fathers were almost unanimous on the authority of the Pope, which you and I both (rightly) reject. But imagine Rome coming to you or me and saying, "You hold to all these things, yet they were given to you by men who upheld the authority of the Pope!".

We would both rightly mention that the Fathers were wrong on that issue.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

Pardon me, my lost post should have read that *bishops* cannot be married, and priests and deacons can only be married *once.* Furthermore, they can only be married *before* they assume the diaconate or the priesthood, but they may not be married if they are single after they assume it.

Canadian said...

S&S,
Sorry, but you are absolutely wrong when you say:
"In other words, Athanasius interpreted Galatians 3:13 to mean that Christ took on the curse for us at His **Incarnation**."

"On The Incarnation" chap.25 "how else could He have become a curse unless He received the death set for a curse? and that is the Cross."

Discourse ll Against the Arians:
"He has redeemed us from the curse and has carried...our sins...and borne them in the body on the wood."

Read the whole Letter LIX.—To Epictetus.
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204.xxv.iii.iv.xiv.html

Athanasius is combating the heretical idea that the eternal Word was changed into flesh and bone. He is dealing with the distinguishing of the two natures, that one is not absorbed by the other, that the essence of the Word did not change or become flesh but rather the Word "took on" flesh from an entirely different nature just like he "took on" the curse without change or corruption.

Saint and Sinner said...

To clarify my point, the fathers believed man's problem was ontological rather than strictly ethical/covenantal. With this mindset, deriving sola fide was impossible.

Josh,

I'd have to look that up. A good place to find that out would be Alister McGrath's "Iustitia Dei". I definitely know that Dr. McGrath says that they most certainly did not teach the Protestant forensic view, and he would probably say that they did not teach sola fide at all since they confounded justification and sanctification (and accepted baptismal regeneration). McGrath's argument (like mine above) was that the fathers started with Hellenistic *categories* instead of ancient near-east ones.

However, he does not discuss the passage from 1st Clement (ch. 32) which sounds very much like sola fide or the Anonymous Epistle to Diognetus, a.k.a. "Mathetes" (ch. 9), which sounds a lot like double imputation. McGrath probably doesn't cover these since there is not enough information in each to tell its precise view on the topic.

There are, however, such views as Jerome who believed that once someone was baptized and confessed Christ, that person would eventually be saved even if they were apostates (but would go to hell for a period of time).

What should be noted, though, is that there was no *one* view on justification (or a complete soteriological system as a whole, for that matter) since the West accepted merit theology starting with Tertullian and the East came to embrace a strict Energetic Deification scheme that started for the most part with Athanasius (I believe). So, there is a "problem" for everyone if historical theology is used as the starting point.

Saint and Sinner said...

Canadian,

"Sorry, but you are absolutely wrong when you say:"

From the quotes you provide, it seems that Athanasius is saying that the cross was the penalty for accepting the curse rather than the curse being placed on him at the cross. Or perhaps he viewed death as a necessary act for having accepted human nature (which would be in line with his views of death-ness becoming part of human nature after the fall).

Either way, from the quote provided, he still believed that accepting the curse started at the Incarnation. Of course, this would take us back to the whole theological debate between Protestant and Orthodox on the nature of the Fall and the Atonement. So, I'll just remove the comment.

Saint and Sinner said...

The last paragraph of my last comment should read:

Either way, from the quote provided, he still believed that accepting the curse started at the Incarnation. Of course, the question of whether this was a correct exegesis of the passage would take us back to the whole theological debate between Protestant and Orthodox on the nature of the Fall and the Atonement. So, I'll just remove the comment.

canadian,

Thanks for pointing those passages out to me by the way.

Canadian said...

Guys,
I really appreciate the exchange here the last few days. Tomorrow is a holiday here in Alberta but after that, the commenting for me will definitely slow down. I will leave you with one quote from todays Divine Liturgy which was the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican.

Mine eyes being weighed down because of mine iniquities, I am unable to gaze at the horizon of heaven. But Thou, O Savior, accept me penitent as the publican.

Peace in Christ.

Martin said...

I apologize for this being off topic -- but for lack of another means...

"Canadian", you appear to be a fellow inquirer into Orthodoxy who lives where I live. If you're interested in exchanging some emails, feel free to post a comment on my blog (linked from my name in this post) with your email address or preferred contact methodology (comments are moderated so it won't be publicized).

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/poppin-jay-on-canon.html

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/02/well-always-have-paristexas.html