Friday, April 11, 2008

DEBATE W/EASTERN ORTHODOX PART 9: READER Q & A

Thanks again to Jay Dyer for a good debate.

We now open the floor to you, our blog readers, to direct questions to me (Protestant) or to Jay (Orthodox).

While the questions are being asked, please help us out by *not* interacting with other readers, but by keeping the questions directed to me or to Jay.

When the questions have subsided after a while, then the Q & A will close.

We now turn the floor to you, our readers, to direct questions to either me or Jay.

31 comments:

Canadian said...

Josh,
Thanks for the debate.

Question 1.
If Reformed soteriology is plain in the scripture, then it has always been plain and no Christian in history is exempt from adhering to it without "denying the gospel". Why then do you refuse to anathematize Augustine, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, Anselm, indeed every father of the ancient church as they clearly and openly rejected both sola fide and sola scriptura, not by denying fide or scriptura, but by denying sola. And why do you not also grant such leniency to those today who espouse the same things as those fathers did regarding those doctrines, but rather say that they may be saved only if they do not consciously reject them. Both groups consciously reject them, but why is only the second group anathema?

Question 2.
In your opening statement you said:
"Could it be that infant baptism gave rise to the Federal Vision? Could it be that the Federal Vision is kind of a halfway house to Rome or the East? Could it be that all of this is because Reformed paedobaptist theology flattens out the covenants so much that it has a Judaizing element to it?"
According to your own standard of just a few months ago, you yourself are on the road to Rome or the East and are embracing Judaizing elements which lead to denial of the gospel! Has your standard changed? Both then and now I assume you have relied on scripture to establish your standard, yet the standard has moved dramatically. Did you find a better exegete? How do you know for sure that exegesis is better? Were you recently divinely illuminated? Are the Baptists now on the road with the Judaizing tendencies? All this to ask my second question: How do you know that your radically changing scriptural interpretation is apostolic and Orthodoxy (or anything else, for that matter) is not? Especially considering that the vast witness and testimony of those who were heirs and even contemporaries of the apostles are against many of the Protestant interpretations that you (and I) have held.

orthodox said...

Question 1: Back on Dec 27th you listed where you stood on 18 different issues. Most of these are issues big enough to keep protestant denominations divided. That represents 262144 potential denominations. Now you've changed your mind on one of these and need a new denomination. If you change another one, you could well be in the market for yet another denomination. Is this church hopping part of God's big plan? If not, what went wrong?

Question 2: Thinking about the numerous "falling away" verses, (you know what they are, Heb 6:4, James 5:20 etc etc). Do you agree that taken in isolation, they are most naturally interpreted to mean someone can fall away? If so, how do you know that interpreting these verses through the lens of your understanding of other verses is more correct than interpreting these other verses through the lens of these verses?

Question 3: If apostolic succession within the concept of "one catholic church" is in no way a good argument, how would someone know in the 2nd century what is the true faith among a whole bunch of religious sects, many claiming the name of Christ and many claiming pseudopigraphal writings of Jesus and the apostles?

Question 4: Read the parable of the sheep (Luke 15:4, of the woman with coins (v8) and the parable of the ungrateful son (v11). Jesus is painting a picture for us of what God is like. Does this picture fit in with the reformed picture of a God who decides to damn most people because of his choice?

Question 5: What books about Eastern Orthodoxy have you read? Do you think it is enough to truely understand Orthodoxy?

Question 6: Can you point to any church father, priest, bishop or church between the apostles and the reformers whose church you would be more or less happy to have been in theologically?

Question 7: What went wrong practically speaking when the church came to recognize the deutero-canon? How do you know the same thing didn't go wrong with the Jews?

Question 8: How do you know Esther is scripture?

Question 9: Do you agree that the Church at the time the NT canon was settled was very similar to Eastern Orthodoxy? If not, why not. If so, why do you trust implicitely the decisions and tradition of the Church that you so deeply distrust today?

Question 10: What was the new covenant rule of Christian faith in first century churches before they had NT scripture and when apostles were not present (for whatever reason)? Do you agree that it was oral tradition? If so, what went wrong when the Church never discarded this rule of faith that it had from the beginning?

Jnorm888 said...

To Josh,


1.) Why did you ignore his quotes of Protestant scholars? I noticed over at Trioblog that they tried to make the new testament seem as if it didn't quote the DC or paraphrase the DC, but that still doesn't deal with the many protestant scholars who said the opposite.

He gave lots of quotes from Protestant scholars and they were never dealt with.



2.) To Josh,

Why would you point to the "science of textual criticism" in regards to "authentic books and inauthentic books"? You are aware what the Liberals have done to most of the Biblical books you accept by using the science of textual criticism. Recently a Reformed Scholar by the name of Dr. Peter Enns was put on leave from Westminister Theological Seminary for trying to interact with the modern historical data that Liberal scholars use to dissmiss the "authenticity" of the Bible. Dr. Peter Enns used his "new paradigm" (which is similar to the Eastern Orthodox Paradigm) to give a new understanding of these issues which keeps intact both the Bible's origin of Divinity.....as well as it's incarnation of humanity.

The traditional Reformed arguments against the DC(deuto-canon) books are used by Liberals against the PC(protocanon books) books.

Thus why did you bring up the topic of "textual criticism"?




3.) How can you say this about the Deuto-canon?

You said:
"the deutero-canon was not accepted by the Jews even *before* they were "Christ-rejecting."

You know historicaly the evidence would support the opposite conclusion. It would be more accurate to say that "all jews" before the first advent didn't embrace the D.C. books. We know that many did embrace the DC books. The dead sea scrolls have many D.C. books...so they obviously embraced some of them before the first advent.


But one could also say that some jews only embraced the first five books. This is true too. The jews were not in agreement about the books before 150 A.D.



4.) Do you think you misunderstood Jay's LXX argument? You called it a "source fallacy"? But wouldn't it be more likely that they actually used the LXX as their Old Testament text?

I mean, if they often quoted from it then it would mean that they often read it.


5.) You said:
"There are good reasons why the Jews did not consider the Apocrypha part of their Hebrew Bible, and it wasn't just for language differences."

My question is: Do you think it is possible that the Jews rejected the D.C. books in 150 A.D. because the christians were using them to convert them to christianity?

What do you know about the "Bar kochba rebellion"?



6.)If the 1st century church didn't have 100% uniformity in regards to the books of the Bible, and if the churches after them didn't have 100% uniformity of Bible books then what makes you think that the Church today should have 100% uniformity?


7.) You said that the D.C. has historical errors. Liberal Prots say the samething about the Protocanon itself. Plus I have seen Roman Catholic Apologists (Like my friend Phatcatholic) show that the D.C. doesn't have the historical errors as you claim.

Just as things can be explained away in the Protocanon.....the samething can be done for the Deuto-canon.



8.) The differences in the canon of scripture among the Byzantine and Slavic rites is not great. Yet you make it seem as if it is. 4th Maccebees is in the Apendix of one. The same might be true in regards to the Prayer of Manessah. Other than that the only other differences don't really matter to this conversation.....The Eastern Orthodox have a different understanding of what the word "Canon" means. Our understanding is more Church Historic. You can find it in the Ancient Church.



9.) You said that the Orthodox pick and choose from the Fathers. did you know that the Eastern Orthodox understanding of what the words "church fathers" means is different from the Roman Catholic ussage? The Eastern Orthodox are picky about who we call a Church Father. Also we don't believe them to be infallible.

Have you ever read the Rule of Saint Vencent? This should clear up some of what you said about our "picking and choosing" of the Fathers statements.


Also in Orthodoxy every Bishop is equal. So in regards to Jurisdiction.......your quotes of the fathers were takin out of context. The Bishop of Rome does have supremecy.......but it is not the kind you are thinking of. You can find the idea of every Bishop being equal from the Church Fathers as well. There are alot of other factors involved as well......but it would take too much time to get into that.









JNORM888

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/orthodpods.html

Paul Manata said...

Jay Dyer,

Q.1.

"Orthodox" asked Josh this question:

"Back on Dec 27th you listed where you stood on 18 different issues. Most of these are issues big enough to keep protestant denominations divided. That represents 262144 potential denominations. Now you've changed your mind on one of these and need a new denomination. If you change another one, you could well be in the market for yet another denomination. Is this church hopping part of God's big plan? If not, what went wrong?"

Given that in the past few years you have went from Reformed protestant, to Romon Catholic, to pre-Vat II Roman Catholic, to now Eastern Orthodox, how would you answer your Orhtodox brother above? Or, do you think this was a poor choice of question to ask Josh?

Q.2.

Piggy-backing on the above, in this debate (in the meta) you made an argument to the affect that total depravity is a reason to reject Protestantism because we continue to change our beliefs on matters. Given that you have changed probably more so in the past few years than any protestant I know of who changes within his tradition, how has what you called one of your best arguments against Protestanism served to show you that you aren't refuted by the same argument?

Q.3.

How would you know, in a non-question-begging way, on Orthodox assumptions, that the monophysite Orthdox churches are in error regarding the nature of Christ? It seems they could match you at every step along the way. Are both of these "denominations" within the Orthodox church relegated to a shouting match with each other?

GeneMBridges said...

“If Reformed soteriology is plain in the scripture, then it has always been plain and no Christian in history is exempt from adhering to it without ‘denying the gospel’. Why then do you refuse to anathematize Augustine, the Cappadocians, Athanasius, Ignatius, Justin, Irenaeus, Anselm, indeed every father of the ancient church as they clearly and openly rejected both sola fide and sola scriptura, not by denying fide or scriptura, but by denying sola. And why do you not also grant such leniency to those today who espouse the same things as those fathers did regarding those doctrines, but rather say that they may be saved only if they do not consciously reject them. Both groups consciously reject them, but why is only the second group anathema?”

Steve has answered this on Tblog, and I'll add my reply in that combox here:

1.This question confuses our position. The Reformed ordu salutis isn't the issue. The issue is "what constitutes a credible profession of faith."

2. In Reformed theology, we draw a distinction between a saving profession of faith and a credible profession of faith. I've been over this before. We also distinguish between kinds and types of error.

Your objection might work against a Roman Catholic or old style Lutheran, for they were notorious for "erring to excess" as Turretin stated. They believed no variations were allowable.. For purposes of church membership, cooperation with other denominational entities, etc., since we cannot know of a certainty who is or isn't saved, we only require a credible profession of faith. A saving profession of faith lies solely between an individual and God.

For example, a Catholic that affirms the current dogmas of Rome cannot offer a credible profession of faith to a consistent Protestant. But whether a Catholic can offer a saving profession of faith is a different question. The answer varies on a case-by-case basis. It is easier to say who isn't saved than to say who is.


3. Any number of confessions can provide the basis of a credible profession of faith - and only a few of them are Reformed. 1. The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Christian Religion

2. The Formula of Concord

3. The Baptist Faith & Message (any version)(http://www.sbc.net/bfm/bfm2000.asp)

4. The C&MA statement of faith
(http://www.cmalliance.org/whoweare/doctrine.jsp)

5. The JFJ statement of faith (http://www.jewsforjesus.org/about/statementoffaith)

6. The EFCA statement of faith (http://www.efca.org/about/doctrine/)

7. The Campus Crusade statement of faith (http://www.ccci.org/statement_of_faith.html)

8. The AG statement of faith (http://www.ag.org/top/beliefs/truths.cfm)

These are all broadly evangelical affirmations of faith. Notice, not all are Reformed. Some are Lutheran; some are Arminian. By contrast, Trent or Vatican II does not supply the basis for a credible profession of faith. Still, it is possible for a Catholic to be saved, unlike a Muslim or Mormon or other suchlike. Ditto for the Orthodox.

We accept Arminians, Lutherans, and Evangelical Anglicans without difficulty - so the possession of "clarity" with respect to specifically Reformed soteriology isn't needed for a credible profession of faith or a saving profession of faith.

4. And we cut the Fathers some slack for the same reason we
cut six year old children some slack with respect to mathematics. We don't expect first graders to comprehend Algebra 1 and we don't expect 7th grade students to comprehend Calculus.

5. As a matter of fact, we do find some interesting things in the Fathers.

I wonder who all said these things:

Justification by Faith:

"Now since the Jews kept turning over and over the fact, that the Patriarch, and friend of God, was the first to receive circumcision, he wishes to show, that it was by faith that he too was justified. And this was quite a vantage ground to insist upon (periousiva nivkh" pollh'"). For a person who had no works, to be justified by faith, was nothing unlikely. But for a person richly adorned with good deeds, not to be made just from hence, but from faith, this is the thing to cause wonder, and to set the power of faith in a strong light" (The Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Romans, Homily 8).

"Now to prevent your saying, How, when liable for so great sins, came we to be justified? he points out One that blotteth out all sins, that both from Abraham’s faith, whereby he was justified, and from the Savior’s Passion, whereby we were freed from our sins, he might confirm what he had said" (The Homilies on the Epistle of St. Paul The Apostle to the Romans, Homily 9).

"Then, as they made great account of the Patriarch, he brings his example forward, and shows that he too was justified by Faith. And if he who was before grace, was justified by Faith, although plentiful in works, much more we. For what loss was it to him, not being under the Law? None, for his faith sufficed unto righteousness" (Homilies on Galatians, Chapter 3).

"Attend to this point. He Himself who gave the Law, had decreed, before He gave it, that the heathen should be justified by Faith" (Homilies on Galatians, Chapter 3).

"Then, that they might not turn round, and object that, true it was Abraham was justified by Faith, for the Law was not then given, but what instance would be found of Faith justifying after the delivery of the Law? he addresses himself to this, and proves more than they required: namely, not only that Faith was justifying, but that the Law brought its adherents under a curse" (Homilies on Galatians, Chapter 3).

"Now as the Scripture says, "the just shall live by faith," thus repudiating salvation by the Law, and moreover as Abraham was justified by Faith, it is evident that its efficacy is very great. And it is also clear, that he who abides not by the Law is cursed, and that he who keeps to Faith is just" (Homilies on Galatians, Chapter 3).

"As the grace of the Spirit could not possibly descend on the graceless and offending, they are first blessed the curse having been removed; then being justified by faith, they draw unto themselves the grace of the Spirit. Thus the Cross removed the curse, Faith brought in righteousness, righteousness drew on the grace of the Spirit" (Homilies on Galatians, Chapter 3).

And what of these:

Limited Atonement:

Irenaeus (A.D. 180) An Interpretation of the word "all" in 1 Tim 2:6
"He came to save all, all, I say, who through him are born again unto God, infants, and little ones, and children, and young men, and old men....Jesus is the savior of them that believe; but the Lord of them that believe not." (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 291-292).

Cyprian (A.D. 250)
All the sheep which Christ hath sought up by His blood and sufferings are saved...Whosoever shall be found in the blood, and with the mark of Christ shall only escape...He redeemed the believers with the price of His own blood...Let him be afraid to die who is not reckoned to have any part in the cross and sufferings of Christ. (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 292).

Eusebius (A.D. 330) In response to "He gave himself up for us all"
To what "us" does he refer, unless to them that believe in Him? For to them that do not believe in Him, He is the author of their fire and burning. The cause of Christ's coming is the redemption of those that were to be saved by him. (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 292).

Ambrose (A.D. 380)
Can He damn thee, whom He hath redeemed from death, for whom He offered Himself, whose life He knows is the reward of His own death? (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 293).

Epiphanius (A.D. 390) In a debate with certain Pagans who did not believe...
...Thou art not of the number of them who were bought with blood, O Manes, because thou deniest the blood...He gave his life for His own sheep. (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 293-294).

Hieronymus (Jerome) A.D. 390
Christ is sacrificed for the salvation of believers...Not all are redeemed, for not all shall be saved, but the remnant...All those who are redeemed and delivered by Thy blood return to Zion, which Thou hast prepared for Thyself by Thine own blood...Christ came to redeem Zion with His blood. But lest we should think that all are Zion or every one in Zion is truly redeemed of the Lord, who are redeemed by the blood of Christ form the Church...He did not give His life for every man, but for many, that is, for those who would believe (Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace, p. 294).

I can supply them for unconditional election too - so "every father of the ancient church" is quite the overstatement...

GeneMBridges said...

Have you ever read the Rule of Saint Vencent? This should clear up some of what you said about our "picking and choosing" of the Fathers statements.

This isn't an argument. Protestants can also appeal to the rule of St. Vincent.

The rule is that what is believed is to have been believed always, everywhere, by all, though a dogma may have developed over time.

How does this supply a means to adjudicate between opinions of the Fathers?

One can be true to tradition without tradition being true.

Where is the evidence that prayers to the saints, to take one example, has been believed "everywhere, always,and by all." Where is the evidence that Orthodox soteriology has been believed "everywhere, always,and by all?"

I've seen this question replied to a number of times. Inevitably what happens is something like this:

The dogmas of the modern age are read back into the ancient age. Those who differ are excluded along the way on the basis that they must be @ variance with one or more of the 3 criterion listed by Vincent - because if the church believes it today it must have been believed "everywhere, always, and by all." That's obviously aprioristic. It only serves as a means to exclude people that disagree with modern dogmas and thus serves as a basis for Orthodox representatives to cherry pick the Fathers.

Josh Brisby said...

Canadian,

As to question 1, not "every father" of the "ancient church" denied justification by faith alone. In fact, Rome itself did not deny it until they anathematized it at the Reformation. That is why I do not anathematize the Fathers.

As to question 2, yes, I have changed my position on baptism, and no, I don't think infant baptism contributed to the FV; as a matter of fact, one of the things that led me to the paedo position is the external/internal covenantal distinction, which the FV denies.

Josh Brisby said...

Orthodox,

As to your question 1, your question was tongue-in-cheek, but I'll humor you anyway. When you say "God's big plan," you must mean His sovereign plan, so yes, my "church-hopping" is part of God's big plan.

As to your question 2, the "falling away" passages must be brought into the entire system of Scripture, because there are other passages which speak of "keeping" and "not being able to lose it." I think the Reformed distinction between covenant and election solves this apparent tension. One can fall out of the covenant, but if one is elect and regenerate, they will never fall away. One cannot fall out of the *internal* covenant.

As to your question 3, sola Scriptura, that's how.

As to your question 4, yes, it fits into the picture.

As to your question 5, I have read *many* books on EO, but I'm sure you'll probably give me the typical Orthodox tripe of "you don't understand Orthodoxy" without ever being able to tell me where I don't understand it.

As to your question 6, can you point to any church father of the first three centuries that *denied* the Pope had universal jurisdiction? My "problem" is your "problem." But I look at all your chaos and Rome's chaos, and that's why I'm glad I'm a Protestant.

As to your question 7, what do you mean? There were disagreements between the Fathers as to what was canonical.

As to your question 8, I believe Esther is canonical because the Church has been guided by the Holy Spirit to recognize it as canonical. But you beg the question to assume that it is the EO church.

As to your question 9, I of course do *not* agree that the Church *ever* had EO assumptions in the full. There were numerous differences among the Fathers themselves, as even Rome recognizes.

As to your question 10, I don't understand. Even before things were "officially" "canonized," Scripture was recognized as Scripture. Peter tells his readers that ignorant and unstable men distort Paul's letters, even though they have things that are hard to understand, and that they do the same thing to the "other Scriptures."

Josh Brisby said...

JNorm,

As to your question 1, I didn't ignore Jay's quotes from Bruce et al. My point is, if Jay doesn't think that quoting it makes it canonical, then what's all the fuss about?

As to your question 2, I must confess that I don't understand what you're getting at. Just b/c liberals *misuse* textual criticism does not make it invalid.

As to your question 3, I'll need you to give me some historical examples.

As to your question 4, no, I don't think I misunderstood Jay's argument. :0)

As to your question 5, no, I don't think it's possible, and, how would you prove this?

As to your question 6, the Church *did* have uniformity on the OT, and although some NT writings were debated, the later Church *did* have uniformity on the NT.

As to your question 7, it was a mere comment, not a question; furthermore, I don't know how you would prove it.

As to your question 8, again, a comment, but it is just not true that there aren't vast differences.

As to your question 9, yes, I am very aware that you have a different view of what constitutes being a Church Father, even as you take a different view from Rome as to what makes someone a "saint."

Josh Brisby said...

Thank you for the questions everyone. Keep them coming. The thread is still open.

orthodox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh Brisby said...

Orthodox,

Paul was directing his question to Jay.

Please keep your questions/comments directed to me or Jay.

Gene,

Thanks for the inputs, but please direct your questions/comments in this thread to either me or Jay.

orthodox said...

1. " When you say "God's big plan," you must mean His sovereign plan, so yes, my "church-hopping" is part of God's big plan."

Then let me ask, is it part of his revealed plan for people to church hop as their interpretation evolves? If not, what went wrong?

2. "the "falling away" passages must be brought into the entire system of Scripture, because there are other passages which speak of "keeping" and "not being able to lose it."

I would argue that normal use of language (which is the only sensible hermeneutic I know of), would not imply that your will is excluded. If I gave you a lifetime football pass so that you can always attend games, it doesn't show that you can't sell the pass.

But you haven't even touched on answering the question. Let's say there as passages talking about falling away and passages supposedly talking about being unable to lose it. How do you prove that one trumps the other? How can you know it is wrong to look at one through the lens of the other and not vice-versa?

3. How can you appeal to sola scriptura in the 2nd century when every sect is claiming their own different writings as scripture? You already claimed that you know Esther is scripture because the church recognises it, but without apostolic succession you haven't shown how you know what 2nd century sect's idea of sacred writings can be trusted. You haven't touched the question.

4. I'm sure we'd like to know how the God who goes in search of even a single lost sheep to bring it back is the same God who by choice condemns most sheep to the wilderness of hell.

5. You didn't answer the question (again!) WHAT books on Orthodoxy have you read?

6. I fail to see how the Pope is relevant. I don't see any church father denying the existance of pink unicorns either, which is why not denying something is a completely irrelevant data point.

And STILL you haven't answered a question. Is there any church or church father whose theology you would have been more or less happy with between the apostles and reformers, and if so which ones?

7. I'm saying that East and West both ultimately came to recognise the deuteros. What did the church do wrong when they came to this conclusion, and how do you know the Jews didn't do the same thing wrong?

8. You say the church is guided that Esther is canonical, but for me to assume the church is Orthodoxy is to beg the question. Well tell us that what church you recognise as having recognised Esther as canonical, and tell us why we should recognise THAT church without begging the question in the way allegedly I am. And tell us where and when you can first recognise the existence of this church which recognised Esther. I guess it must be a post 1500AD church since the church before that time came to recognise deuteros.

9. Oh when will you answer a question? If you don't think the Church at the time the canon was settled is the same as Orthodoxy, then your job was to tell us how. Then you had to tell us why these differences are enough that you trusted that church for the canon but don't trust modern Orthodoxy.

10. I specifically said "before they had NT scripture". I didn't say "before they canonised NT scripture". The Church existed before a word of the NT was written. Churches were spreading out all over the world, with this new religion but without any word of scripture to support the distinctive of Christianity. Go back and answer the question.

orthodox said...

"As to your question 6, the Church *did* have uniformity on the OT"

Please document this claim.

Canadian said...

Josh beat me to it, but how are we to take seriously someone's analysis of ancient texts when they have trouble exegeting this plain statement by Josh in this very post:

"While the questions are being asked, please help us out by *not* interacting with other readers, but by keeping the questions directed to me or to Jay."

orthodox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
GeneMBridges said...

Josh beat me to it, but how are we to take seriously someone's analysis of ancient texts when they have trouble exegeting this plain statement by Josh in this very post:

"While the questions are being asked, please help us out by *not* interacting with other readers, but by keeping the questions directed to me or to Jay."
7:19 PM


Pardon me, Josh, but since Canadian directed this at me:

Pardon me. I did not read that statement. I posted a reply I left @ my own blog . I specifically stated that. Had I read it,I would have left a separate article on my own blog and linked to it, as Steve did.

I apologize to Josh for this misunderstanding.

However, I look forward to Candian's evidential analysis on his own blog that each and every ECF denied justification by faith and that comments like, "Christ died for the salvation of his people...for the church" or "Since only the elect are saved, it may be accepted that Christ did not come to save all and did not die to save all" get you to some sort of doctrine of universal atonement.

Josh, you may want to point out that underwriting many of your opponents' claims is an assumption, without benefit of any argument, that the Fathers are closer to the First Century, they were closer to the true interpretation of Scripture.

So, to Mr. Dyer:

If we apply that same standard to the Church Councils, the further we get from the First Century, the less true they become. So, any statements any of them make about the canonicity of anything would also fall prey to this same thing, as would any claims they make about the interpretation of Scripture. To take a more practical example, given Orthodoxy's predilection with Christology:

I've seen many an Orthodox E-pologist state that the early Subapostolic Church was "mostly" modalistic. Indeed, we find modalism cropping up rather quickly, as any survey of early doctrine shows. Chalcedon condemns Eutychianism and Nestorianism alike. We don't get condemnations of monotheletism until even later.
But if the underwriting assumption is that the closer you get to the First Century, the closer you are to the truth, then on what basis can you say that these councils are true, for their understanding of Scripture frequently underwrites their conclusions?

So, my question to Mr. Dyer is this, how does one know that the closer one is to the First Century,the closer one is to the true interpretation of Scripture, the true canonical list, etc? Doesn't this pull against Vincent's rule on doctrinal development to which you all, as well as Roman Catholics appeal?

Thank you.

Jnorm888 said...

To Josh,

I posted this at the Tria blog as well....I'm gonna change it a little for you.

In regards to 150 A.D. ...well 135 A.D.


When "Akiba ben Joseph" was made head of the Academy of Jamnia. It was under his influence that the Jews "officially" rejected the Deuto-canon.

He supported "Bar kochba" by calling him the Jewish Messiah. The christians refused to see him as the Messiah and thus the hatred for the Deuto-canon and New Testament books. According to Wiki....and no....I don't really like wicki, and I reject their cynicism in thinking Akiba didn't realy support Bar Kocka in the rebellion.....but one thing they did include was his dislike for christianity and the D.C.'s

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akiba_ben_Joseph

As quoted from wicki:
"He has, however, no objection to the private reading of the Apocrypha, as is evident from the fact that he himself makes frequent use of Ecclesiasticus (W. Bacher, Ag. Tan. i. 277; H. Grätz, Gnosticismus, p. 120). Akiba stoutly defended, however, the canonicity of the Song of Songs, and Esther (Yad. iii.5, Meg. 7a). Grätz's statements (Shir ha-Shirim, p. 115, and Kohelet, p. 169) respecting Akiba's attitude toward the canonicity of the Song of Songs are misconceptions, as I.H. Weiss (Dor, ii. 97) has to some extent shown. To the same motive underlying his antagonism to the Apocrypha, namely, the desire to disarm Christians—especially Jewish Christians—who drew their "proofs" from the Apocrypha, must also be attributed his wish to emancipate the Jews of the Dispersion from the domination of the Septuagint, the errors and inaccuracies in which frequently distorted the true meaning of Scripture, and were even used as arguments against the Jews by the Christians."


And in Michuta's book he says:

"The first revolt(of 70 A.D.) was a national uprising; this second Revolt(around 135 A.D. or maybe 150 A.D.) would be a messianic movement. By means of Akiba's work, a large number of jews joined in the rebellion. Even Samaritans and pagans joined Bar Cochba in his revolt. However, there was one Jewish sect which refused to join: that obstinate tribe known as christians. The Christians, a majority of whom were still ethnically jewish, were pressed to join in this life and death struggle with Rome, but they refused. To accept bar Cochba as Messiah, as Akiba insisted, would have been nothing short of Apostasy; and because of their refusal to do so, Christians were treated by the Jews as heretics and traitors. It is this same Rabbi Akiba who is the very first writer to explicity and forthrightly reject the inspiration of both the christian New Testament and the books of the Deuterocanon. Akiba's declaration is found in Tosefta Yahayim 2:13 which reads;

"The Gospel and heretical books do not defile the hands. The books of Ben Sira and all other books written from then on, do not defile the hands."

Two outstanding points must be drawn from this impious declaration: first, it must have been common knowledge even at this early date that the christians accepted the Deutercanon and used it as Scripture (along with the Gospels), otherwise, there would have been no need to rule against them; secondly that at least some jews must also have shared that acceptance, otherwise Akiba's decree would have been superfluous."
Here we have a hostile witness confirming through his actions that the earliest christians accepted both the Gospels and the Deuterocanon as inspired and sacred Scripture. It was in this watershed event- the naming of the false Messiah Bar Cochba and the Anathematizing of those who rejected him- which occasioned the very first unquestionable rejection of the Deuteros by a single, widely recognized Jewish authority. It was under Akiba's tenure that a single textual tradition of the Old Testament was first adopted; before this time (as we have shown) a variety of different texts were in use among the jews. It was here, sometime in the middle of the second Christian century, that Judaism first adopted an official normative text(i.e. the Masoretic Text or the MT).


pages 68-70 from the book "Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger: the untold Story of the lost books of the Protestant Bible" by Gary G. Michuta






JNORM888

Jay Dyer said...

Paul M. asked the following questions:

Q.1. (for Jay)

"Orthodox" asked Josh this question:

"Back on Dec 27th you listed where you stood on 18 different issues. Most of these are issues big enough to keep protestant denominations divided. That represents 262144 potential denominations. Now you've changed your mind on one of these and need a new denomination. If you change another one, you could well be in the market for yet another denomination. Is this church hopping part of God's big plan? If not, what went wrong?"

Given that in the past few years you have went from Reformed protestant, to Roman Catholic, to pre-Vat II Roman Catholic, to now Eastern Orthodox, how would you answer your Orthodox brother above? Or, do you think this was a poor choice of question to ask Josh?

Response:

I suppose "Orthodox" can ask whatever questions he likes, and I didn't harp on Josh for changing his position. I applauded Josh’s change, at least for the sake of the grace to come to his children via the sacrament. I don’t know motives and hearts, so I’ve tried to treat Josh with same assumption of good will as he has treated me. At no point in the debate have I called his motives into question. However, you have consistently wanted to dog me, though I've tried to apologize to you for my being overly-zealous in the past. You apparently did not accept, so I don’t know why you bother with me. All I know to do is defend the position I have presently come to, and continue to serve Christ as best as I can with the understanding I have. If I am wrong, I trust the Lord to correct me, and I always try to stay willing to change my views upon further investigation. What else can we do?

I don’t claim to be professional theologian, and am still relatively young, with little tie-downs. I would much rather take the rocky route I have, learning what I have, than to have chosen to stick in a church, when I was unconvinced. Loyalty for loyalty’s sake is no virtue. If you guys think I am a fool and/or a deceiver or whatever, then why waste your time?

I do know that personally I have experienced growth in Christ through these experiences, for what that’s worth. I’ve never made any money or fleshly gain in my journey, in fact, I’ve always bought materials for others. This is, of course, one of the central NT criteria for identifying a “false teacher.” I’ve had teaching opportunities offered, but I have consistently turned them down. If an Orthodox publisher were to ask me to write something doctrinal, I would turn it down. But I view these blog-debates as a kind of iron-sharpening-iron-type-thing, and I don’t think professional academia takes our blog debates very seriously. I view this as (relatively) young guys working out their theology. I think all of us are still in the ranks of amateurs.

As for my character, all of those who were reformed and left Protestantism will testify to my lifestyle, though I am a sinner. If you wish, you can ask Robert Nash or David Shankle (who have known me for years), concerning my personal character.


Q.2.

Piggy-backing on the above, in this debate (in the meta) you made an argument to the affect that total depravity is a reason to reject Protestantism because we continue to change our beliefs on matters. Given that you have changed probably more so in the past few years than any protestant I know of who changes within his tradition, how has what you called one of your best arguments against Protestantism served to show you that you aren't refuted by the same argument

Response:

I did not say that total depravity is a reason to reject Protestantism because you change your views. That wasn't my argument. I argued that total depravity causes more theological and anthropological problems than it solves. It negates the possibility of the reader deriving certainty from the texts, because of its supposed noetic effects of sin, and as a corollary, it causes all historical decisions in the Church to continue to be doubtful. It has, I believe, a sort of relativizing effect, as it somes to epistemological self-consciousness, if you will. It also conditions one’s understanding of the historical decisions. So, if I am totally depraved, I cannot have any practical certainty that I understand texts properly, that I am not misconstruing the Fathers, etc. It preconditions all actions to be "tainted," and this state is never transcended.

Human faculties are not totally fallen, or depraved, and, as both Catholicism and Orthodoxy hold, retain their proper natural functions. The fall has not destroyed the image of God, part of which is the faculty of free will. This does not mean that free will is sufficient for salvation, as St, Augustine says, free will itself was injured, and needs grace to be truly free. Man cannot cause grace to come to him, or earn its movement. God bestows it as He wills. Orthodoxy has a much more developed philosophy of the human Person, and this originates directly from the Ecumenical councils and their formulations of nature and personhood in the Trinity and in Christ. Protestantism doesn’t generally go that far in fleshing out these categories.

A proper Christology from the councils, especially Ephesus and the Sixth Council, demonstrates that, in terms of what makes up human nature and Christ's human nature, total depravity is not possible without ending in Manichaeanism, or having grace replace nature. Thus, total depravity also messes up Christology, since Christology is undoubtedly the beginning paradigm for soteriology. I recommend St. Maximos the Confessor’s book on this (since he defended dyo-thelitism) and all the decrees of the Sixth Council. Aside from all this, I don't think Scripture teaches total depravity, in the Westminster sense, since many texts refer to human actions being done "without sin," and Gentiles' works being judged on judgment day being excused for certain works they have done in accord with God's law (Romans 2:12-16). This doesn't fit in with total depravity, since, in the Calvinist view, there is no sense in which unbelievers can do any "good." Of course, I am not saying that they are or can be saved if they die in unbelief, but that their condemnation will still be conditioned based on their works, both good and bad.

Furthermore, total depravity was unknown in all the Church until Luther, despite Gene B’s bogus “proofs” from secondary source, Michael Horton.

Q.3.

How would you know, in a non-question-begging way, on Orthodox assumptions, that the monophysite Orthdox churches are in error regarding the nature of Christ? It seems they could match you at every step along the way. Are both of these "denominations" within the Orthodox church relegated to a shouting match with each other?

Response:

This is a very difficult question. To be fair, they are, by their own confession they are not monophystie, they are mya-physite, and retain belief in a fully human nature in Christ, and they believe monophysitism to be a heresy. The Eastern Churches as a whole hold to what is known as a “high Christology,” preferring the formulations of St. Cyril, over the somewhat one-sided Tome of St. Leo. This is because the Tome speaks only of two natures “in one Person,” but it wasn’t merely a “divine nature” that became incarnate, it was a divine Person, the Logos. So, it is more correct to speak in the Cyrilline fashion of a Divine Person clothed in human nature, in terms of strict theological truth. Even the new Catholic Catechism admits these facts. It’s also a difficult question in regards to linguistic difficulties, since for example, the Coptic Church This caused much strife, and the problems were exacerbated when certain Byzantine rulers caused much harm in their decrees.

I cannot say who is saved and who is not, since no man is given this power. In both Catholic and Orthodox theology, heresy is a specific sin involving both knowledge and willful obstinacy. The Churches closest to us, in our view, obviously provide more benefits of grace than those further removed. In my present position, I understand that the condemnations of Donatism mean that grace can be given in churches outside the Orthodox Church, via Trinitarian baptism, prayer, and Sacred Scripture. Thus, we can say where the Church is, but not where it is not, in somewhat paradoxical language. For us, the Church is a mystery—the mystery of all ages, as St. Paul says, and we can speak of a kind of “invisible church,” as Khomiakov wrote in his famous essay, though this is not to be confused with the Calvinistic over-emphasis on the invisible church of the elect. So, persons in, say, a non-Chalcedonian Church would not be de facto lost, unless they had willfully and knowingly accepted a heresy (assuming they weren’t guilty of a false profession), since their baptism unites them to the Church. If they accept a heresy, though, they remove themselves from the Body of Christ, ipso facto.

I know that if there is to be any soon-to-come re-unions, it would most-likely be between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Communions (excluding the Nestorians), so its not necessarily a problem that is impossible to overcome, if they accept the full humanity of Christ, which they profess to do. An analogous situation would be the reunion effected by St. Cyril himself between his confession and certain doubtful Antiochians, such as John, in his own day. I’m presently reading on this very topic, so this may not suit you, but this is as far as I have come. I recommend “On the Unity of Christ,” by St. Cyril; “Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol. 2,” by Aloys Grillmeier; Volume 2 of Pelikan’s set; and John McGuckin’s “Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.”

Jay Dyer said...

my page has the actual links:

http://www.nicenetruth.com/home/2008/04/debate-q-a-resp.html

Jnorm888 said...

Jay said:


"This is a very difficult question. To be fair, they are, by their own confession they are not monophystie, they are mya-physite, and retain belief in a fully human nature in Christ, and they believe monophysitism to be a heresy. The Eastern Churches as a whole hold to what is known as a “high Christology,” preferring the formulations of St. Cyril, over the somewhat one-sided Tome of St. Leo. This is because the Tome speaks only of two natures “in one Person,” but it wasn’t merely a “divine nature” that became incarnate, it was a divine Person, the Logos. So, it is more correct to speak in the Cyrilline fashion of a Divine Person clothed in human nature, in terms of strict theological truth. Even the new Catholic Catechism admits these facts. It’s also a difficult question in regards to linguistic difficulties, since for example, the Coptic Church This caused much strife, and the problems were exacerbated when certain Byzantine rulers caused much harm in their decrees.

I cannot say who is saved and who is not, since no man is given this power. In both Catholic and Orthodox theology, heresy is a specific sin involving both knowledge and willful obstinacy. The Churches closest to us, in our view, obviously provide more benefits of grace than those further removed. In my present position, I understand that the condemnations of Donatism mean that grace can be given in churches outside the Orthodox Church, via Trinitarian baptism, prayer, and Sacred Scripture. Thus, we can say where the Church is, but not where it is not, in somewhat paradoxical language. For us, the Church is a mystery—the mystery of all ages, as St. Paul says, and we can speak of a kind of “invisible church,” as Khomiakov wrote in his famous essay, though this is not to be confused with the Calvinistic over-emphasis on the invisible church of the elect. So, persons in, say, a non-Chalcedonian Church would not be de facto lost, unless they had willfully and knowingly accepted a heresy (assuming they weren’t guilty of a false profession), since their baptism unites them to the Church. If they accept a heresy, though, they remove themselves from the Body of Christ, ipso facto.

I know that if there is to be any soon-to-come re-unions, it would most-likely be between the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Communions (excluding the Nestorians), so its not necessarily a problem that is impossible to overcome, if they accept the full humanity of Christ, which they profess to do. An analogous situation would be the reunion effected by St. Cyril himself between his confession and certain doubtful Antiochians, such as John, in his own day. I’m presently reading on this very topic, so this may not suit you, but this is as far as I have come. I recommend “On the Unity of Christ,” by St. Cyril; “Christ in Christian Tradition, Vol. 2,” by Aloys Grillmeier; Volume 2 of Pelikan’s set; and John McGuckin’s “Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy.”"



Amen!!!! I wish I could cut and paste this.



I would like to "congratulate" both Jay & Josh for having a civil debate. Sometimes these things are hard to do because of ego, pride, bad jokes, making fun of the other person, personal attacks.......ect.



But this was very civil. Big ups to both Josh & Jay


This is a good example of how a debate should go.






JNORM888

steve said...

http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/orthodpods.html#967961425142657936
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/orthodpods.html#5807849208212721840
http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/04/orthodpods.html#5666824826542207119

Jay Dyer said...

I added a few links to the bottom of the last post answering Paul M. on the non-Chalcedonians. The links don't show up on this page:

http://www.nicenetruth.com/home/2008/04/debate-q-a-resp.html

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Josh Brisby said...

CB,

I removed your comment on this particular thread because I mentioned a few times now that this thread is for q and a for myself and for Mr. Dyer only. You may bring your comments to related threads.

Thank you,
Josh Brisby

Anonymous said...

Very well, I shall rephrase my comments into questions, one at a time.

As per the Edited versus Translated Versions of the Bible, we note that the 1599 Geneva Study Bible replaces Revelation 22:19 with a meaningless footnote. Why hasn't this Edited Version of the Bible been repudiated, in view of what Revelation 22:19 says in other Translated Versions of the Bible? I need not ask Dyer this question, since his expected response would be that the Orthodox Church does use this version of the Bible. Clearly, this question is for you, Mr. Brisby.

Other than to protect the doctrine of Predestionation, what would possible induce any honest Bible Translator to risk such a curse that Revelation 22:19 pronounces?

Restating this verse,here is one of several from various translations in http://bible.cc/revelation/22-1.htm:

and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Other questions will follow.

-cb

Anonymous said...

Question # 2 - The Bible Question.

The Bible being as important as it is, one does not simply pick a book out of the gutter and make it Scripture. Yet, that is exactly what the Gnostics were doing. In the Bible are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, as well as the Apocalpse of St. John. Outside of the Bible are the Gospels of Judas, Thomas, Phillip, and the Apocalypse of St, Peter.

How, and by what authority were the Books of the New Testament chosen?

The Orthodox answer is that because of the instigation of St. Irenaeus and others, the Council of Carthage of 397 was held to separate the Wheat of Scripture from the Chaff of the Gnostics. The authority is twofold 1) The Moral Imperative to react, i.e., Necessity, and 2) Apostolic Authority had been passed down from Bishop to successor Bishop, as well as the discernment skills, to perform such a task.

As according to the Reformed Paradigm, Chapter I of the Westminster Confession lays down the New Testament list. However, this list is flawed in that it was at least a millineum to late, and that it duplicated the Council of Carthage list.

Further, the Reformed Paradigm by the Doctrine of Total Depravity implicitly denies that the Church Fathers had the competance for such a task. Additionally, by Chapter XXXI, Article IV of the Westminster Confession, the Church Fathers of Carthage (as well as the Drafters of the Westminster Confession for that matter) did not have the authority to do such a task. The Westminster Confession thus implicitly leaves the door open to recompile the Biblical Cannon.

Are you willing to abandon the Doctrine of Total Depravity and the Westminster Confession for the sake of the Integrity of the Bible, as Orthodox Christians already have?

Anonymous said...

Question # 3 - The Legitimacy of TULIP

Comparing the Synod of Dordt of 1618, from whence TULIP came, to the Robber Synod of Ephesus of 448, I find that there are some similarities. Both Synods were overrepresented by their proponents (Calvinists and Monophysites, respectively) to reach their engineered verdicts to push their agendas (Calvinism and Anti-Niceeanism, respectively) and to punish their opponents (Armenians and orthodox Christains, respectively).

The similarities end, unfavorably towards the Calvinists I might add, with the trappings of Legitimacy. At least there were adverse delegates at Ephesus, unlike Dordt where the adverse delegates were arbitrarily arrested in ambush. There was no Papal or Patriarchical Legate at Dordt, unlike Ephesus. Only Germans, Dutch, Swiss, and English were represented at Dordt, unlike Ephesus with no such restriction. The French, who were invited, boycotted Dort, unlike Ephesus.

Normally, the Orthodox Standard for an illegitimate Stealth Church Council is the Robber Synod of Ephesus. However, in terms of ILLIGITIMACY, Ephesus pales to Dordt.

My Question is Why should I take Dordt or TULIP seriously?

The Orthodox Answer would be to say that they don't take Dordt or TULIP seriously, especially considering the circumstances. Further, because Dordt is beyond the scope of their Jurisdiction, History, or Tradidion, they may agree that Dordt is by far the more illigitimate than Ephesus, but they need not comment on Dordt.

Anonymous said...

I shall take it as an expression of resignation that the reformers haven't answered any of my three objections to "Reformed" Christianity after a Month of Silence.

-cb

Anonymous said...

This was a great blog exchange. I won't say that I felt either delivered a knockout blow or shamed himself: good show on both counts. In this dialogue, I would say the main distinction appears to center around the tidiness of reformation theory vs. the messiness of church history: the distinction cuts both ways, I think.

It would, however, be most helpful if the full thread appeared in one blog. Also, the nicenetruth blog entries don't appear to load properly in firefox.