Lex Rex

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Lex Rex

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

David & Legal Precedent (Early Church: Ignatius)

Zain makes some good points. I would point out that David, a man after God's own heart, essentially murdered a man to take his wife as his own! Hardly the exemplary life. The point being, it is difficult for me to point to any man in the Church, early or otherwise, as a guiding beacon of ecclesiastical history.

Another point Zain references is the copy machine example. BGM, in our own studies of the law and precedent, we see man getting involved in the process and it quickly and wrongly takes on the characteristics of social evolution. What a judge states "black" in 1940, a judge now states that the meaning of black is now white. This is created by a series of (as I recently heard it put) "thin grey lines" that ultimately morph into the unrecognizable. The point is, we indeed do need to look at the early church as practiced by the Jews to get a better glimpse of the original, no?

Ignatius exhorts us to unity, which is of course the whole meaning of the term Catholic. I can see with this exhortation the easy step to Bishop authority. But this makes me wonder when one in authority wanders astray, to whom do we owe our allegiance? What is the check and balance? I do view our Republic separate from our beliefs, but even the founders understood a healthy distrust for man.

On Bishop reverence, Ignatius has some troubling quotes:

"It is manifest, therefore, that we should look upon the bishop even as we would upon the Lord Himself....being under the guidance of the Comforter, in obedience to the bishop and the presbytery with an undivided mind."

We seem to be early on driven to the examination of scripture; where in the word is there support for such reverence and unqualified obedience? Wasn't it Paul who said he would obey God rather than man?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Early Church: Ignatius


I have read the first two epistles of Ignatius (here and here). I found them mostly very interesting. I did have a couple of concerns that you may be able to answer. The following is a summary.

1) The first epistle is addressed to the Church at Ephesus. Presumably it dates sometime after John's letter to them (conveying our Lord's own critique) as contained in the book of Revelation. However, it must not have been too long after said divine communication, as Ignatius was discipled on some level directly by John. Interesting enough one gets a very similar picture from both letters. The Ephesians were near perfect in their labors for the Lord. Yet, Ignatius has no reference to the very significant failure that is mentioned in Revelation. The Ephesians had lost their first love and needed to repent or face the removal of their lampstand. I understand that in the gap between each letter perhaps the Ephesians had repented and cured their defect, but it seems strange that nothing is even said about it.

2) In his second epistle, Ignatius is encouraging his audience to obey their Bishop despite his apparently tender years. He uses various scriptural examples of youth being used by God. For example, he refers to Paul's admonition to Timothy not to let anyone despise his youth. Yet, it is Paul's letter to Timothy that sets forth the qualities required to be a bishop/elder and they seem to be at least partially based on successfully fulfilling some of life's experiences. The bishop/elder's responsibilities in governing the house of the Lord are linked to their proven experience in having governed their own family and household. How can this happen if the bishop is of such youth that he has not yet had a chance to prove himself?

3) In his second epistle, Ignatius gives some very interesting testimony as to the early churches practices as relate to the Sabbath (Saturday), and the Lord's Day (Sunday). I find this very intriguing and food for thought. That being said, I nearly choked as a read his reference to the Jew-Christ Killers. I sincerely hope this is a travesty of translation! One may argue that the Jews did cause Christ to be killed, but so did the Romans. And out of our sin, so did we all. Our Lord himself as he suffered and died said "forgive them for they know not what they do...." Hence, I am troubled by his statement. Too many in Church history, both East and West, have either caused or agreed with the persecution of Jews.

Here are a few other thoughts that I would like your input on. I have been thinking about your challenge as regards to Ignatius. I also want you to know that I have not dismissed Ignatius, I still consider him a valuable resource, nor have I simply looked for answers that support my position. That being said, please correct me if my assumptions or generalizations are incorrect.

It seems as though your position, on its broadest level, as to true historical Christianity is one based primarily on proximity to the Apostles. If Ignatius was discipled by the Apostle John, how could he have gotten it wrong.... etc. Yet, I am sure you would agree that many of the early, first, second and third generation disciples of the Apostles got it wrong in varying degree. Some of them even wrote heretical works. You then would say but, unlike these heretics, Ignatius was honored as a saint by the whole of the Church in his day and suffered martyrdom for our Lord. And I would generally agree that he deserves some honor and got many things right. But I still submit that being honored by your brethren in a world after the Apostles were gone does not equate in total with getting everything right.

Many with good intentions in almost every congregation, during the very time the original Apostles led the Church, got some things wrong. In other words, if you can get it wrong while the Apostles are leading you directly, you have increased temptation to get it wrong when they are no longer there to correct you. The danger then is very much like a copy machine, every copy distorts a little and the distortions are amplified over time -- If you are relying upon the copy of the thing. This is why having the original is so important, because reference back to it is the only way to be sure you can see whether the copy comports.

Now I do realize that the next problem is much like the problem presented by our emails. The written word's true intent and meaning can be mistaken if the interpreter does not have the correct perspectives. I agree with this concern. This is probably why we have the sin of denominations (division). Every man's perspective becomes the correct one without further seeking. Lord please protect me from such a prideful mistake! We must all strive for the perspective of our Lord, through His Holy Spirit!

Hence, your answer has been, at least in part, to look for the wisdom of those in closest proximity to the event for guidance. In all honesty, this seems like a generally wise method to me. However, there are some issues that need to be resolved in this method, and by itself it must too fail. What I mean is due to the problem of human weakness and error, everyone in the chain must be perfectly led by the Holy Spirit, or the line is corrupted. I understand that this may be one of the doctrines of the Orthodox (that the True Church has been perfectly led in its corporate doctrines by the Holy Spirit), but yet I do not trust this without scriptural support, in that the early church did not demonstrate this quality as is seen by the whole of the New Testament. (Let me know if I am missing a clear scriptural mandate here.)

If you are looking for those in closest proximity to the event, I believe you may have missed a couple of elements. You have only looked at the early church, in an admittedly good attempt at logically fulfilling this role. But all of the original Apostles and our Lord Himself were practicing Jews. In fact, most of the Holy Scriptures are contextually within a Hebrew/Jewish framework. It at least 'seems' obvious to me then that many gentile believers did not have the best proximity to understanding the Hebrew Traditions of the Word of God despite their historical proximity. Hence, my question to you is whether you have looked into the Messianic Jewish movement and any input it may give on this question of the true historical church?

I sincerely look forward to your thoughts.

Your Brother in Christ


Monday, January 17, 2005

Reformation Revisited: A Comparative Symposium

Lex Rex is pleased to announce a new symposium, entitled, "Reformation Revisited", wherein questions of foundational theological thought and comparison between orthodox and protestant systems will be examined from a scriptural, contextual and historical study. Lex Rex welcomes two new contributors that are highly regarded, entertaining, and most of all brilliant thinkers; BGM and Zain. While the three of us may differ in our theological views (although there is much agreement), we all share the common belief that the modern church has veered considerably from its early path.

In keeping with our goals of open forum discussion, our hope is to make our private email exchanges more public, and also more broad by refraining from getting bogged down in a deep esoteros type discussion meant only for church scholars.

The initial questions are:

1. What was the early church like (i.e. what did they believe, those who walked with the disciples)? This of course is a purely historical examination.

2. Does orthodoxy better resemble the early church or 1500s era reformist view? We must define the true tenets of orthodoxy and protestant systems here.

3. Did they have it right? It is at this point we must examine God's Holy scripture.

Lex Rex does not intend to be divisive within the church, rather we hope to sharpen, encourage, and edify the Church. Several subtopics are likely to spin off of the above three broad questions. While other postings may be interspersed in between symposium posts, we will have a separate archive column for quick reference.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Pelagius & Augustine

In "The Five Points of Calvinism", Steele traces the roots of Calvin and Arminius systems: Quoting Cunningham: "As there was nothing new in substance in the Calvinism of Calvin, so there was nothing new in the Arminianism of Arminius....The doctrines of Arminius can be traced back as far as the time of Clemons Alexandrinus, and seem to have been held by many of the fathers of the third and fourth centuries...." In the fifth century, Steele writes, the basic doctrines of Calvin were vigorously defended by Augustine against Pelagius. But which system is closer, historically, to the early church?

UPDATE: Reform position provided here.

Echo Zoe Makes History!

Lex Rex extends congratulations to Echo Zoe, click here to find out why!

Smash has a funny quote on the Kerry's 2008 campaign swing through Iraq (better labeled Demoralization Tour 2005).

Thursday, January 06, 2005

A Not So Beautiful Mind

Fresh off a case of the blogosflu (I think I caught it through Captain Ed's blog, is that possible?), Lex Rex is back baby! Now my 3000 readers a day, minus 2950 not so uniques, can relax. Joe Carter has an intriguing proposition for bloggers here; Is Americanism the Successor of Puritanism?

As my vast readership is aware, Lex Rex prides itself in refraining from ad hominem attacks. On occasion, human acts of stupidity mandates flexibility with this policy as there can be no other way to describe Babs Boxer's attempt to overturn the voter's will: Thankfully, common sense ruled as the Senate voted 74-1 and the House 267-31 to reject her objection to the certification of Ohio's 20 Electoral College votes. The tag line for A Beautiful Mind, "[s]he Saw The World In A Way No One Could Have Imagined..." seems appropriate here. Both nuts but this is where the comparison ends; one genius, the other dumber than dumb and dumber, combined.

Her list of grievances were bizarre to say the least, mainly complaining that people had to wait to vote. Her next measure brought to the floor was an objection that traffic lights turn red, thereby causing people to wait until they turn green. The horror. Radio Blogger has some good pictures of Hugh's studio. I didn't know Hugh wore a toupee.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Below The Fold

Kerry back on stage to "maintain a high profile." Make no mistake about it "the closer" (should be "poser") intends to run in '08. His delusion of support continues; minus the Bush hate vote, he would have mustered 123 votes, maybe, which includes his campaign staff and one third of his family members.

House GOP looking to relax ethics rules. While it does look like the right thing to do, any way they try to spin this, likely press fodder for years to come.

Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts plans to "carve out his vision for the Democratic Party and the nation" in a Jan. 12 speech at the National Press Club. A prominent adviser to Kerry during his failed presidential bid, Kennedy's speech is entitled "A Democratic Blueprint for America's Future." This "blue" print will likely have multiple overlays resembling a construction blueprint. The first will show how to destroy America's foundation with a mixture of shredded constitution and imported water from Old Europe. He will then demonstrate raising the walls and floor between religion, which will be locked in a dungeon in the basement, and the State, which will consist of the rest of the opulent structure. Electricity for those in the basement and dungeon will be generated by gigantic windmills located well out of sight, while the rest of the structure will be powered by sucking the life energy out of the economy.

We can only hope that the man who engineered Kerry's campaign will contribute further to the complete devastation of the Democratic party. Get that man a hard hat!

Former President Jimmy Carter is under fire from PETA for his confession on Jay Leno that he is a fisherman. "We're asking President Carter to think this through and to grant fish peace by leaving them in the water where they belong," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said shortly after putting on her leather shoes, habitat killing rayon clothing, and stepping on uncounted groups of innocent ants on the way to delivering her press release.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Pickering Our Battles

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos writes on Fox that the "Pickering Battle [is] a Symbol of Ideological War." Pickering, now free to speak as a retiree,

"The mean-spiritedness and lack of civility reduces the pool of nominees willing to offer themselves for judicial service, he said in his prepared statement. Extreme special interest groups opposed my nomination, primarily due to their hostility to any nominee with strong religious convictions these groups believe nominees with committed religious values are not qualified to serve on America's federal courts."

And herein lies the most important battle over the next four years. We can hold congress at bay with a Republican majority, and the White House is occupied by friendlees, but what of the judiciary? Pickering continued:

"It was an abuse; an unprecedented abuse. It was a misuse of race, it was an attack on Mississippi and an attack on religion, .... It was wrong in the 1950s and 1960s for segregationists in the South to use race to divide us and it is wrong in the 21st century for people to inappropriately use race to divide us."

But some good news:

Pickering said he is convinced that the Republican victories in the November election indicate that Americans are not fooled by smear campaigns and filibusters.

I do think that when you take all the judicial nominees who were filibustered, and combine that with the action of the judges in Massachusetts redefining marriage and the judges in California changing the Pledge of Allegiance I think Democrats paid a terrifically high price because of that.

They won the battle in the nomination filibusters, but in the end they lost the war."

What has perplexed me on this issue is the belief that any nominee was ever filibustered. I do not recall a filibuster, only a threat of one. I have to believe that had Pickering allies burned the midnight oil on such a real filibuster, we could have out lasted the pansies on the other side of the aisle and broke the filibuster. One such victory and the dam of unconfirmed nominees would have quickly broke with a flood of common sense flowing through the judicial branch. And imagine what we could have used our filibuster time for? How about pickering through every Democrat Senator's record on the hill; start with the pork and end with the tax increases. Or a reading and re-reading of the Constitution and Declaration ad infinitum until the left cry ad fidem to the principles of liberty. There is a strategy short electing 60 Republicans by 2006, will the spirit of our founding fathers prevail upon those in the Senate or will we pretend to be defeated by ghost filibusters?