Lex Rex

verbum sat sapienti

Lex Rex

Monday, February 21, 2005

Sola Scriptora


I just read your response. And I think I understand most of your points, but as always, if I have misunderstood anything, please feel free to correct me. I only have a short time to respond. So, I will try to address a few things.

It is not that I disagree with your overall statements and logic regarding oral versus written tradition. But the Orthodox position does not adequately address a few points, in my humble opinion, of course. First, I do agree with your rendition of how we received God's Word. He spoke and it was delivered and recorded in varying order at varying times. (Note, to be accurate there were some instances where God did convey his word directly through his prophet with the explicit instruction to write it down for initial delivery).

If it is the Protestant position that God only deals in the written word, I would also disagree with them. I have not, however, personally met too many protestants that believe the actual written version of the NT preceded the actual events. Most of us who are serious do understand that the initial conveyance was by teaching and preaching, etc. But, in fact, and by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the NT was written and canonized. It is that Inspired Word of God that has now become the Standard. I have never completely rejected the value of oral tradition, only stated that it is not at the same authoritative level as that of Scripture. How can it be? Here is atleast one difference: If I am assured that John wrote it, I can and will treat it as binding. But if a tradition has been passed down about something someone wrote about John, I cannot and will not give it the same place of honor as Holy Writ. There is, afterall, a reason said tradition was not included in Holy Writ. For, again, even the oral tradition has been reduced to writing by someone, hasn't it? The difference is this: I do not know that someone.

My point about the Jewish influence would have been better understood this way. As you have agreed, the first Church did not have the NT. AHHH but they did have the Hebrew OT and did continue to view it as the Holy Scriptures. The NT does not replace the OT but compliments it. And everyone of the original Apostles were Jewish. Hence, my suggestion was more of a counter to your view that we look to the Eastern Church because of its proximity to the first Church. Yes, we should examine whatever resource's we have, but that must include our Jewish brothers in the faith as they have retained the direct knowledge and line of their heritage in the same way you believe the Eastern Church has done. For example, who better to look to in trying to understand the Jewish Feasts and how Jesus fulfilled several of them and will yet fulfill the remaining ones, than our Jewish brothers.

I am truly glad the Orthodox understand that even a Bishop can be wrong. But what they do not seem to understand is that there have been large periods of history when not just one or two or three bishops have been wrong, but that a majority of the Bishops and Church itself had gone astray. We can obviously argue about this point, but my study of History (College Major) has led me to this conclusion.

I do agree that reading Ignatius has reaffirmed my view of the general concept of Bishop authority, although I do agree with Lex Rex that he goes to far by a degree of emphasis. But nevertheless I tend to adhere to the authoritative view in general. But, I do not see how Apostolic Succession is the guiding light on this issue. It appears, to me, that atleast some of the NT churches appointed their leaders from within, not from without. Obviously, some of the Apostles did set up churches and administration, but they did not set them all up. I think the actual history would reveal a much looser structure on this point than the one you seemed to set forth. But anyway, I agree that true authority cannot be taken by anyone who desires it. It must be given by someone who has it. So, the Apostles certainly did convey authority, but authority can be lost also.

Look at what John the Baptist said to the Pharisees, who claimed a similar type of authority and position by means of their line from Abraham.

Matt. (3:9-10): And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the ax is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

If those who claim to be God's shepherds, instead loot the sheep pen, He will remove their authority. Jesus, said do what the Pharisees say, but not what they do. In other words, it is possible to have a form of godliness, but deny the heart of the truth and be completely rejected by God. Yet, even as God can remove one's authority, He can also grant it to another. Look at Paul. He was not appointed by the other Apostles, and yet against the wishes of many, called himself an Apostle. God can certainly do so today, can't He? The mere fact that many have abused a priviledge does not mean all have, nor that it is inapplicable.

Well, I must go. I will reply more later when time permits. God bless you BGM for your obvious love of God and His Church. You have inspired me to grow closer in my walk with our Lord than you know. God Speed!

Your Brother in Christ,