Lex Rex

verbum sat sapienti

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BGM
Zain
Lex Rex

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Brief Pause

Lex Rex would like to implement a brief pause in our early church discussion, to reflect on the judicially sanctioned murder of Terri Schiavo. The slide to Auschwitz continues.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Early Church

Blessed Resurrection Day Zain (and Lex Rex)!

I am very impressed by your post (again) and must kick myself to make time to properly respond to your sound reading and questions (as Lex Rex).

I completely agree with most all of your approach. I found in my studies the same three choices you mention; Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican. I will happily go through my thinking as to my inclination towards the Orthodox (when I reply further).

[Note: An incredible note on this topic is Prince Charles’ recent inclination towards Orthodoxy! How’s that for conflicted; He is to be the head of the Anglican Church as King, yet he has all but converted to Orthodoxy. See this very interesting article:]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,1214522,00.html

Your citation of the bishop of Rome as the first among the bishops is exactly correct, and remains Orthodox teaching (even though this may be surprising).

With extreme brevity, Rome is the first among the bishops, like the Chief Justice is first among the Supremes. He has honor and ceremony on his side. He can speak for the bishops (often, not always) but he cannot speak for himself, against the other bishops, as if he speaks for God. He does not have a superior authority that allows him to claim universal earthly jurisdiction, nor infallibility in utterances of faith and morals, nor superiority to the balance of the college of bishops.

As for who is in schism, you are exactly right; there’s the rub. The flippant answer is 4 out of 5 patriarchs chose Orthodoxy (Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria and Jerusalem vs. Rome). The longer answer will involve the nature of the schism, its politics and dispute. Suffice it to say that Protestants and Orthodox agree (to my read) that Rome expanded its claims of the authority of the Bishop of Rome as it was married to Frankish politic of western expansion and empire.

The Frank theologians empowered the Roman bishop with such claims of universal jurisdiction (over the college of bishops) as it sought to strengthen the “Holy Roman Empire” of the west, against the second Rome (Constantinople) and the Byzantine
Empire (which was the actual, first Christian empire, for better and worse).

Thus political power and empire building required novel theology. This was broadly the source of the schism (from an Orthodox perspective).

Also, as for apostolic succession, the Orthodox and Catholics generally (not universally) recognize the legitimacy of each other’s sacraments, priesthood and succession. They were one Church for 1000 years, east and west, sharing all of this. Thus their differences are largely (not entirely) known as schism (as your rightly note) rather than heresy (although there is now some of this in the mix, too).

As they share so much, my route would be to investigate the origin of their distinctives to attempt to determine their origin. I believe that you will find the Orthodox to be the ancient Tradition, and that the Catholic is the later, deviant doctrine on these topics (but your should certainly investigate on your own).

I love the Catholics (and the Protestants). I encourage them where we agree and wish them to change where I presume them in error.

As for the ethnic churches of the Orthodox, all I can say is GUILTY AS CHARGED. You are totally correct and this is a failure and disgrace. Some of this is ignorance, some is mere cultural, but plenty of it is a totally failure in the great commission.

As an Orthodox I have a real freedom to criticize the real failures of the Orthodox (historic and present). Never think for a moment that because I find fault with Protestant theology (as you may have noticed) that that makes the Orthodox beyond criticism. If the Orthodox have what I think they do, they need be held to a higher standard (as you have pointed out). I pray to be used in some way in this rejuvinated American Orthodoxy.

I leave on an appropriate Orthodox response for today: “We adore His glorious third day resurrection!”

Grace, BGM

Early Church

Happy "Western" Easter:

May our Lord bless and keep you on this high blessed day!

I have been enjoying a read of Ireneaus Bishop of Lyons recently (Specifically his refutation against the Gnostic Heretics of his day, Books 1-5, special emphasis on 3-5, about 180 AD). Note, I do define this author as being part of the 'Early Church' -- Ante-Nicene Fathers. I did find many things of interest to me personally, but just wanted to get input on one specific line of thought for starters.

Obviously BGM will be looking to Ireneaus' strong language regarding Apostolic Succession as the basis for true doctrine and authority within the Church, which I cannot deny is clearly present in his writing. However, I was interested in the fact that this line of reasoning included one very important addition.

Ireneaus made special mention of the fact that all of the Churches were to look to the Bishop of Rome with a level of submission and honor above all others. Hence, the question presents itself, why did you, BGM, become a member of the Orthodox Church instead of the Catholic Church.

Based solely upon the Apostolic Succession justification, which is at least one of the chief arguments for the Orthodox Church, it would seem that the Catholics have at a minimum an equal claim, and based upon the level of honor it held, perhaps a greater claim to true Apostolic Succession. Who is really the Scizmatic Church?

If the choice boiled down to better theology, this argument would seem to deny the very essence of what I will call Strict Historical Apostolic Succession, as relied upon. This is primarily due to the fact that the theology is argued to take its authority from the fact that it relates back to the Apostolic authority which passed it down. Therefore, the Church at Rome having the highest authority and honor should have the most input on correct theology -- based on this line of reasoning anyway.

Also, my research seems to reveal that the Traditional 'Catholic' Anglican Church also has a pure line of Apostolic Succession. Why did you, BGM, not join that Church? It is, afterall, a 'western' line of the true apostolic succession.

Hence, it appears to me that you have at least 3 separate historical and apostolically pure Branches of Christianity who all claim, at some level anyway, to be the true and exclusive expression of the visible Church. Or is it that Tradition is on a higher plain than that of true Apostolic Authority? Thus, if one of these 3 has a tradition that seems somewhat closer to that of the first and second century Church it must be the correct one regardless of the Apostolic Succession issue. But again, Tradition takes its authority from the Apostolic Succession doesn't it? So it would seem that there are 3 different traditions and theologies which all claim to have their mandate and exclusive authority from the fact that each of them is a direct line in Apostolic Succession. Each of them have their own form of councils, liturgies, etc.

As you can tell, I do not see the logic of it all. But let me say this: If I were living in Ireneaus' day when there was such a very clear assurance of a true and direct time connection between the bishops and the actual original Apostles who trained them, I would most probably have agreed whole heartedly with Ireneaus on many points (as applied then) and would have had no trouble submitting to his authority.

But this state of affairs (what I call true and reliable Apostolic Succession) is simply not what we see in any of the Church today! And I am wondering what Ireneaus would have done and said in today's state of affairs. Would he have been Catholic, Traditional Anglican or left the 'West' where he was a Bishop among the Keltae to join the Eastern Orthodox? More than likely everybody would be on the block, including the East. What I am saying is this: We may be able to determine what such men did in their own time when the Church was, in fact, one Orthodox and Catholic Church in the truest of senses. But if brought back today, what would they now think? I believe it is probable that they would see great deficiencies in all of Christianity and simply jump in and begin working locally for its revival and repentance.

One last comment, my search, at least thus far, tends to demonstrate that it would be nearly impossible to join not to few of the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The closest one to me (1.5 hrs away), is a small Ethnically based Orthodox Church. It is my distinct impression that membership is only encouraged along ethnic lines! Although you BGM may be in a branch that is not so exclusive, this seems to be a common thread in Eastern 'Ethnic' Orthodox Churches. This result does not seem to fit any form of Christianity I have seen anywhere in the bible.

Godspeed!

Zain

Friday, March 11, 2005

Early Church

How about the first five chapters of Acts. Do these verses give us a glimpse of the early church? If so, what church today resembles this?:

1:14:"...They all joined together constantly in prayer..."

2:42: "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer."

2:45: "Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone in need. 46: Every day they had continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread together in their homes and ate together...."

3:1: "One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer-at three in the afternoon."

4:32-35: They shared possessions. They continued to testify to the ressurrection of the Lord Jesus...from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money from the sales, put it at the feet of the apostles and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

5:12..."and all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade....

5:25: "....the men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people..."

Early Church

BGM & Lex Rex,

I would like to return to a direct review of what the earliest part of the 'Early Church' believed, if there is no objection. I am thinking that, atleast for an initial starting point, we could look at the period up to approximately 200 AD, give or take. We have been looking at the 7 epistles of Ignatius and should continue to do so, but what other writings have been passed down from this earliest period? Justin Martyr, Polycarp, etc.? Maybe after reviewing a particular resource, we should each point out a list of topics that we see raised in it. Thoughts?

Also, in addition, I would like to have the freedom to discuss general principals that may affect the above discussion. I know this has been abused, but I will try harder to avoid ranting and raving. For example, what of the 'dog that didn't bark' principle? Should we not also consider 'Sherlock' in all of this (not as a theologian of course - I hope that much is obvious)?

If there is nothing written on a particular topic, why? Or, if a practice is not evident from the record, why? Just to say a practice was passed on in secret, as some of the writers from the later periods claim (ie, Basil), like a secret handshake, bothers me to a degree. I understand that not everything was written down, but it could be argued that the important things were. In other words, if not written down, the question begs itself, is it as important as what was written down? To simply say it was meant to remain hidden due to the years of persecution is not persuasive to me, in that the whole of the Gospel, by our Lord's very own words, was conveyed in parables to be hidden from the world during times of persecution, and yet was still written down.

Another example of the dog that didn't bark is as follows. The first, and only biblically recorded, council occured at Jerusalem under the direction of the Apostles in about 48 AD. Why was there apparently no other council until the First Council at Nicaea in 325 AD (about 277 years later)? This period of time is quite lengthy. In other words, not only did the earliest Christians lack the canonized New Testament, as BGM has pointed out, but they also apparently did not look to a system of Councils as the determining factor of defining Christianity. Furthermore, if we take the First Jerusalem Council of 48 AD as the Apostolic Guide, it does not seem as though all localities or Bishops were consulted on the issue being decided, let alone even invited to the Council. (Persecution is the inevitable justification, but, again, seems weak to me in that persecution was certainly present at the 48 AD Council, but did not stop it.)

And even when the Church finally did have another Councel, 277 years after the Apostles met in Jerusalem, it seemed very limited to the topic of avoiding a major split in the Church over Arianism versus the Trinity. It also must be pointed out that, historically speaking of course, it was not really the Church that called said Nicene Council, but the Emperor who actually presided over the Council during the entire lengthy session. It could be argued that, again from a historical point of view, the Emperor's motivation did not arise from a great concern over purity of doctrine, but from the fact that a split in the Church would cause instability in the empire and, perhaps some level of embarassment to the Emperor as he had set it up as the standard of religion.

A quick (very quick mind you) read over the topics addressed at subsequent councils, atleast beginning with the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD, seems to show an increased dependence on said format of looking to Councils over what the earliest Christians practiced. It seems to me that the progression of said Councils also grows more and more polictical in motivation and the topics much less weighter than the original 3. But that is just my gut reaction.

Again, just some thoughts, let me know if you have evidence to the contrary.

Godspeed!

Zain

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Ignatius and Early Church

Lex Rex:

You now have me concerned. Mr. Balboa first blocks with his face, but he always wins in the end. This does not bode well for me.

With apologizes (and true brotherly love),
BGM

P.S.- "I don't want no rematch" A. Creed

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Early Church

BGM, please, do not hold back. This forum is intended for straight talkers, so you need to be more direct with your rebuke! LOL! I believe the Lord loves you in the same manner as St. Peter, and I mean that as a huge compliment (by comparison) as the Church was built upon this great apostle don't you know. I love your zeal, and your style. I think Bondage of the Will would have been a far better read with BGM in Erasmus' stead. No I will not reveal my source as I am afraid he will not be able to take a punch in the same manner. While the identity of Lex Rex is largely unknown, some rare photos were snapped shortly after reading BGM's latest:


"Mommmmyyyyyy"




"Is that all you got? Oh yeah, well I'm still standing...kind of..."

Early Church

BGM,

OK then.

I will agree to limit the frequency of my blogs, if you would limit the length of yours.

With all sincerity, my greatest concern for you, BGM, is that although you can, all too easily, see the problems in the West, you, despite your recognition of the "warts" of Orthodoxy, have not been able to see the problems of the East. Even if, for argument sake, I conceded that the East retained a closer historical version of traditional Christianity, it is simply not enough! Do I really need to invoke the Pharisee example again. I will continue to do so, until it sinks in.

It is my prayer for you that the Lord will open your eyes/heart to the active role the Holy Spirit wants in your life. And yes, I believe this can happen within the Orthodox Church. Maybe the Lord will raise you up to restore a heart of true worship in that part of the Body of Christ.

That being said, of course we will try to use the chosen format as a guideline. But lets not be rain-manish over it. I am, as I have stated, truly intrigued by the early Church and would like to hear more of what they believed. It is also true in any search, however, that reviewing one specific thing most often raises more general questions and issues. I know that such minor deviations will not be a stumbling block to this great search nor its participants, but rather add to the richness of the discussion.

And, furthermore, I am certainly willing to change when the Holy Spirit leads and reveals the truth. (It is true that many use the Holy Spirit as their own personal stamp of approval, or excuse as may be, but as I have said, the abuse of a truth by some does not change the truth for others.)

The truth is that a man led by the Holy Spirit can come to the "truth" of an issue long before the man who has a head full of knowledge on the same topic but is not being so led. So much for ignorance! What was it that the Scriptures mentioned about Peter and John when they appeared before the "learned men" of their day? It seemed apparent that all of the head knowledge in the world could not undermine the simple "wisdom" brought by the power of the Holy Spirit.

In order to get this "discussion" back on track, (remember BGM it was you who reacted so strongly against using argument as an effective style of truth seeking), let me ask a fundamental question. I have my own thoughts on the following matter, but would honestly like to hear what Lex Rex and BGM think. Fundamentaly, we have begun our discussion with the early church, but what qualifies as the early church? The tendency in any historical consideration is to broaden what is included in such statements as the "early" this or that. The further from the event you have become, the more time is included in terms such as 'early'. Hence, early to you may very well not be early to me.

P.S. I just wanted to restate that I am not backing away, and never intended to, from my views on the importance of Scriptures. I simply, in an apparently failed attempt at humor, tried to make up a new tag phrase, I did not realize I was already beaten to the punch. I simply do not want to associate with unknown phrases already defined by someone else. My position is what it is! Look back at my last post to reread it.

As always, God Speed!

Zain

Ignatius & The Early Church

INTRO:

Lex Rex & Zain:

This is my third revision (as you both continue to post, and update your posts, constantly adding new topics without a days pause to let me reply to your recent posts). This must be the new “cage match” rules as we have obviously abandoned our forum charter (remember when we were going to learn what the Early Church was like? And then, discuss/critique their views)? Is it now rather “He who posts the most of his denominational tradition (jumping from subject to subject) wins?”

I earlier this week waited three days for Lex Rex to make his post (working under the old rules). Now I know the technique, keep burying your opponent with accusations, moving on to another topic before he has a chance to respond. Have we abandoned any pretense of being responsive to previous posts, or can I just cut and paste anti-Protestant harangues to post herein (I’ve got plenty, how many pages do you want)? Please, could we return to actually responding to previous posts?

Let me be frank. Both of you, though fully educated and intelligent, are presently substantially ignorant of what the early Church believed (in dogma and practice) and as such, your opinions (often set forth with simple self-assurance) are not (yet) of much value. Further, you are each being taken advantage of (to varying extent) by your tradition’s demagogues who are frankly, totally lightweights in this arena (please see below).

Is this too harsh? No, it’s just common sense. My opinion is worthless in any field in which I have done no (or little) study. This is true for anyone in any topic. As you well know, ignorance is not stupidity. Ignorance can be cured by study, which both of you are fully competent in, but plainly you have both just begun this study of the early Church.

Upon what basis, therefore, can you already make summary judgments on these subjects? You know almost nothing about the early church!! I have been at this study for the last five years in earnest, and I have only recently begun to make such direct assertions (after first devoting years (in silence) to the hard, slog of research). Most of my following corrective would be unnecessary if I we had continued within the original approach of this forum (cry for me Argentina). But some like it the hard way. Get your erasers out boys.

ZAIN:

First, to Zain:

I must obviously devote my energy to Lex Rex’s post, but I state a general “amen” to the approach of your last two (or was it three) posts. I think your latest post (or two) backtracked a little from where I though you were, so I set out my presumed understanding here (please correct me where I am wrong):

If I understand accurately, you seemed to agree that there exists some need for an authoritative (not infallible) Church authority, and that such visible Church should be empowered to uphold and covey the correct interpretation of scriptures. This “correct understanding of the scriptures” can be understood as the most basic form of oral (or non-scriptural) tradition.

To attempt a summary in one sentence: The visible Church conveys both the written scriptures and their proper interpretation (tradition) with authority (not infallibility) from generation to generation.

Is this sentence accurate in your view?

If this correctly conveys your views, you overwhelmingly share the Orthodox approach on the topic. The issue is largely the obvious fact that the scriptures do not interpret themselves, and that there needs exist someone to correctly interpret them (that by an interpretation of the scriptures that exists outside of themselves). This is all that is required for most Protestant renditions of sola scriptura to be shown as false. Thus I happily found your phrase “prima scriptura” as a valid summary of this understanding (so substantially similar to the Orthodox as to be not worth further delineation at this time, IMO). I am uncertain as to why you have since disavowed your use of this term.

Obviously, none of this requires you, Zain, to accept the Orthodox as the legitimate heir to the throne of this authoritative Church (as you have plainly expressed), but allows us to begin to investigate who (or which denomination) best fits the criteria, if the role is admitted to be proper and needful within Christendom. As we mutually further investigate the Church history, we may further discuss likely candidates to this high duty, the visible Church. Finding the seat of Moses, we may now seek to identify who sits in such chair (or which foot fits the golden slipper?).

But your morning post, as well as Lex Rex’s, shows me the need to clarify certain basics (which I falsely presumed we had at least initially covered).

In short, it is obvious that neither of you even know what “Sola Scriptura” means, or has meant by various Protestants in Church history. Thus, Lex Rex, especially, has devoted enormous energies to fighting windmills, rather than the actual topic of SS as found in history and as the subject of what I thought we were discussing. Please see more on this below.

LEX REX:

Secondly, to Lex Rex:

I am not sure how to begin to respond to your remarkable post, except to note that you failed to include the obvious, consistent claim that all Orthodox mothers wear army boots and that all Catholics kick their dogs (it must be true, James White said so)!

Did you leave any Kool-Aid for your Protestant brethren? Is this not rather the writing of an evil-twin Lex Rex surrogate? Is the real Lex Rex now mightily struggling against his gag and restraints? Rub your roped hands against the chair leg, break your bonds, escape to defend your name from such defamation!

Mamma Mia! How do I begin to reply to this torrent of misrepresentations?!

First in broad summary: Your post, as a whole, is so entirely false, misleading, out-of-context and occasionally ill humored, that I am amazed that you wrote it (I having a high regard for you). I do not take it personally though, as I presume that it is largely the collection and conveyance of other Protestant “web slander” on these subjects, which you have cut-and-pasted (as you admit) and as you are simply ignorant in these matters.

We all work from within our sociologies, commonly supporting heroes of our traditions and attacking our traditional enemies. I will presume that this is just a voicing of your tradition (anti-Catholic evangelical: Orthodox sounds close enough to Catholic to me, right Bubba). These cut and paste passages regularly reflect this profoundly ignorant, ahistoric, fear-mongering anti-Catholicism that passes for Protestant scholarship within this subject. In fact, there is almost no Protestant “scholarship” on this subject (unlike sola fide or sola gracie which has plenty of scholarship). Basic anti-Catholic bigotry is the main source of this particular Protestant dogma (at least within today’s American evangelicalism).

I believe that this blog has the potential of allowing us all to examine our traditions in the light of the Truth (as you well put it). Lex Rex, I believe that if you chose to continue to make honest investigation into these studies (of the early Church, etc.) that you will yourself find embarrassing, and materially inaccurate, the majority of what you have written in this post (without arm twisting from anyone else).

Well then, I stand with a teaspoon and a toothbrush in an initial attempt to clean up after this demagogic tsunami (I cannot tonight reply to all you have alleged, but I will happily in the future).

WHAT IS Sola Scriptura?

First your entire post is obviously a canned Protestant, anti-Catholic stump speech for sola scriptura, not fitting the nature of this forum. It apparently makes no recognition of the previous posts we have all made on the subject, as you ignore our (admittedly summary) initial approach to delineate this rich subject.

You have seemingly failed to respond to a single verse of scripture, historic example or hypothesis set forth by either Zain or myself over our last several posts. This requires me to believe that you found no viable counter to the general approach of our previous posts, and thought it wise to start instead a new front in this discussion (is this correct)? Lex Rex, you are much better than this!

To refresh, Zain and I began the separation of the issues into at least three: Scriptures, Tradition and Magisterium (Church authority). I even pointed out the fact that most Protestant discussion fallaciously reduced the topic to a choice between the first two (ignoring the Magisterium as they have no answers). You committed exactly this fallacy within your post!

Next, your post presents the entire topic in the typical, fallacious Protestant fashion of bifurcation: Protestants vs. Catholics, Scriptures vs. Tradition (Faith vs. Works). As the American Protestant demagogues haven’t collected much ammo against the Orthodox, they toss the same bombs previously used against Catholics (even if laughably inapplicable). Lex Rex, do you really think the Orthodox DEFEND the Catholic concept of the Papacy? Are you truly unaware of the medieval Catholic development of the doctrine of Transubstantiation (rather that the broader early Church concept of Real Presence)? Why then do you include such topics plainly not applicable to our forum (there are no Catholics here)? It’s because this is a canned anti-Catholic rant, obviously. Are Zain and I not worthy of a little editing (to save my precious typing strength)?

In short, I don’t believe that these are your beliefs, and thus I will reply to these words and their original authors (likely such as James White, Mike Horton, Will Webster, etc.) directly, meaning no malice to my friend Lex Rex. I just encourage you to keep better intellectual company (whomever you have used as sources are plainly lightweight buffoons who have done you no favors). Really, please let us know your sources so I can better expose their agendas (did I guess any correctly. Do any have English as a first language)?

To the fray:

You start with the bold (and absurd) assertion:

“The early church fathers were indeed sola Scriptura, which is where the Reformers aimed to point the church.”

But you never even define what you mean by this “Sola Scriptura.” There is no single Protestant definition of SS (any more than most any Prot doctrine). Protestants make them up as they are useful, then modify them, or toss them aside as they get old, burdensome or unfashionable. You are apparently unaware of the varied treatments of SS by the various reformers, and their varied desires for the direction of the Church. This is not the way to begin a defense of the topic.

You have three quotes that clearly reveal this confusion (which is the very issue of which you are supposedly convinced):

“Notice that although the church Fathers (in my opinion) sometimes taught things that were not in the Bible, they still upheld the principle of Sola Scriptura because they truly (but sometimes mistakenly) thought that the doctrines had scriptural support.”

“If BGM ultimately cites scripture to support these doctrines, then is he not advocating Sola Scriptura or at least a version of the same?”

“I think the true meaning of Sola Scriptura is: Fallible Christians claim an infallible book.”

These quotes show me that you plainly don’t have even an introductory knowledge of this subject, SS. This is not an insult, you just haven’t devoted the hard work to learning about this topic before. But how can you dare think that you can assert your ignorance with such vigor? [My favorite bumper sticker: “Don’t have strong opinions about things that you don’t understand]. Lex Rex, you don’t begin to understand this topic.

Plainly you need to read a little on this subject before you can make any constructive contribution. As you don’t know even a working definition of SS, your entire post largely misses the mark (and is filled rather with a significantly distorted understanding of the entire Church history on the subject, including most every quote that you have provided).

This is no insult to the mighty Lex Rex. Whenever you get around to the study, you will be found a mighty opponent for the American Evangelical Army, fully worthy of meeting me in battle. Until then, you are out of your weight class (as I am out of your class in many other arenas. In fact I am often reminded that I have no class).

To really begin our topic, please inform us as to the Lex Rex definition of SS, and then I can directly correct the particular variation of this heresy. If you do not wish to invent yet another Prot tradition I can suggest a few popular candidates: Luther or Calvin or Westminster Confession of Faith or James White. If you do not fancy any of these flavors of SS, do what every other Protestant does, invent a new tradition on the subject (it's your right baby, SS empowers you to believe anything your little heart desires. Just think it, and it magically becomes true).

This entire post is in fact a great demonstration of the absurdity of SS: you argue within some belligerance and overreaching certitude for something you don’t understand and never define. This is madness. I believe that SS means little more to the average evangelical than “we won’t worship the Pope or Mary.” This motivation of fear is a strong, yet blunt force. The tool of reason (applied in the hard slog of actual historic research) is far better for the subtleties of our topic.

As you have failed to provide any definition of the doctrine you find assuredly held by the Church Fathers, the reader may attempt to deduce one from your post. One might easily presume that you think that any Church Father who has a high view of scripture is an advocate of SS. If that’s the definition of SS, then lets go home, we all agree, we are all in favor of an equally high view of the God-ordained status of the written scriptures. If the use of scripture by a Church Father = SS, then there is no split, no disagreement (call the whole Reformation off, it was all just a misunderstanding! Fr. Luther return to Rome! Calvin, stop burning heretics!).

But of course, that is not the dispute of SS. The dispute of SS has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO with the authenticity of the written scriptures, but rather concerns several issues including (especially) Perspicuity (how clear are the scriptures) , Intent/Breadth (for what purpose/application were the scriptures intended) and Authority (who shall interpret the scriptures), etc.

[I note here that we haven’t even touched on Canonics, which will make your Prot heads spin. You have not even begun to sweat the consequence of the 16th century relativistic revolution! We have reaped the whirlwind.]

These were the issues of the reformation concerning SS, not whether the Church Fathers quoted scripture to prove doctrine, OF COURSE THEY DID, and this has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE DOCTRINE OF SS !

[Nota Bene: Again, the only reason the Prot’s ever heard a word of scripture is because the ancient Orthodox Church received, collected, canonized and conveyed the scriptures. Oops! That’s embarrassing.]

Again, the Church did not put scripture against tradition or the authority of the Church, THEY BELIEVED IN ALL OF THEM!! This is so irrefutable (if you choose to do the study) that I am without words.

Whom do you love Lex Rex, your wife, or your son, or your daughter? YOU LOVE ALL THREE OF THEM! Do you think that any expression of love to your wife demonstrates any distain for your son? Or that love of son, denys love of daughter! OF COURSE NOT! Then why does ever Protestant demagogue think that loving the scriptures mean you hate the Magisterium? The ignorance of basic logical fallacy within Protestantism is a continual shock to me (and shows me again that Theology is not the foundation of Protestantism, but rather, Sociology is the foundation of Protestantism).

LUTHER’S VIEW OF SS:

For assistance in your development of the Lex Rex version of SS I can point you to perhaps the first, public proclamation of it in Church history, Father Luther at the Diet of Worms. (1521)

"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. God help me. Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise."
[For the full account of Luther's trial, see Luther's Works, 32:103-31].

[You can freely pick other examples if you’d like. Remember, only you can interpret the scriptures. No one else can (at least for you). Choose wisely. Or at least chose a popular tradition that has good food and a nice children’s program]

Here you see a key example of the real, historic meaning of the revolutionary doctrine of SS. It was the ultimate foundation of egalitaritan anarchy: Me, my conscience and my personal interpretation of scripture against the consciences of the entire history of the Church that came before me. Of course he believed that he was following scripture, SO DID THEY. This was not Luther (for the scriptures) vs. the Catholics (for their mere oral, man-made traditions). This was Luther and His personal, novel, self-made tradition upon Luther’s favorite selections of scripture vs. the Entire History of Christianity and their overwhelming, historic traditions and interpretations of scripture (at least on the heart topic of Sola Fide).

The Diet of Worms was a theological debate wherein Luther had to declare the Church authority a nullity because it did not accept his new, self-created, heretical creation of Sola Fide (Faith Alone). Because the Church (corrupted though it was by all accounts) did not accept Luther’s novel heresy, Luther declared dead its Magisterium.

The Orthodox have the middle ground here, as common. The Church hierarchy may err, as 16th cen. Rome, so the laity does have an obligation to study and oppose false Church authority. But concurrently, the vote of one (tiny, ignorant, significantly mentally unbalanced Monk) does not allow the destruction of perhaps 40% of Christian dogma and practice (under so profoundly subjective and relativistic a standard as “my conscience.”)

You fool, Luther, you here established the foundation for the destruction of western Christendom, the font of the cults, the requirement of perpetual schism, the ever-divided, shattered Church, the epistemological crisis from which the West HAS NEVER RECOVERED. Do you Lex Rex and Zain wish to learn from whence came the liberalism which you both speak against. Look no further. The liberalism of the decaying west comes from this man, and begins, with this very speech at Worms.

Luther is the Father of Liberalism and the Patron Saint of Relativism.

This is just the start as to what SS meant and its consequence (as what I thought we were talking about). Does any of this interest you Lex Rex?

Thus you may see that the heart of the actual, historic SS dispute primarily concerned the MAGISTERIUM (or authority of who gets to interpret the Scriptures). The oral tradition was secondary (valid, but not the cause of the Lutheran reformation).

Remember, Luther maintains many oral traditions of the historic church (Lord’s supper, Baptism, Mary, Confession, sign of the cross, Bishops, etc.). Luther was thus not against the concept of the Oral tradition (he just filled it with new content to reflect his theological novelties). Luther WAS against the Catholic Magisterium. If you do not recognize this you are doomed to misunderstand the entire subject.

BRIEF REPLIES:

And now some brief reply to some of the more notable errors relayed in your post (I will try to post your words in bold):

In other words, all doctrines that originated from apostolic oral traditions were finally recorded in the text of scripture. The substance of Oral tradition doctrines is identical with scripture."

This is sheer tripe, completely unfounded in Church history, logic or scripture itself. This is mere wish fulfilment of ignorant American protestant demogoges. No scholar believes this. Where did this come from? Citation please (so this baboon may be publicly branded).

“3. The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it.”

This is completely false. It is not what the Church Fathers teach and it is not what St. Paul teaches. This is so typically Prot. Take a single passage that suits your purpose, ignore context, author, audience, etc., avoid any other scripture on the subject and sell your view.

St. Paul here tells his epistle audience that they can learn by reading his epistle. Upon this you base your SS argument for St. Paul?! Tell me you are joking. Is this why you dodged replying to a single passage that I previously posted (filled with Pauline citation) upon St. Paul’s irrefutable advance of both his Oral as well as his written ministry as equally WORD OF GOD, and equally binding upon the Church?

Are you unaware of the irrefutable history that almost the entirety of the apostolic ministry (St. Paul along with the other apostles) was ORAL, NOT WRITTEN?!? Would you advise me to read this fragment of St. Paul and actively disregard the dozens of others passages (many of which I have already provided you)? Is this the method of SS? Yes, sadly it is. Pick your favorite verse, ignore the rest and start your own denomination (perhaps with banjos, karaoke and bermuda shorts).

Lex Rex, why won't you deal with my past posts (filled with scripture relevent to this topic)? Why, because it doe not further your tradition.

Just a brief additional note. St. Peter says the exact opposite to your point (as I have previously quoted), that in St. Paul’s epistles are “…some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures.” Sounds like Protestant America. Whose verse seems more on point? Mine can well accommodate yours, your view cannot accommodate this 2 Peter 3:16 passage. Additionally, Acts 8:31 is close to a direct refutation of your read of Eph 3.

The point is really quite simple: some things in scripture have sufficient clarity (perspicuity) to be generally, commonly understood, other things are “hard to understand” and are certainly not “understood by merely reading it.” That’s not hard is it? This read makes sense of all of the scriptures. Your read makes sense of one verse. Why would anyone choose your tradition?

Further, lets test your assertion by application. Lex Rex, do you really expect us to believe that the book of Revelations is understood by “merely reading it.” Do you think it immaterial to have an understanding of language, context, history to property interpret the scriptures? As you differ with Luther on many issues, do you thus presume that he never “merely read” the same Bible as you? Do you think your differences with other Protestants on 100’s of issues (salvation, justification, method and mode of baptism, Lord’s supper, nature of worship, etc., etc.) are the result of your opponents failing to “merely read it.” Of course not, this is laughably absurd.

There is no possiblity that you believe so dumb a statement (you are much smarter than this borrowed quote).

3. All of Christ’s and the Apostles’ teachings were recorded in scripture.

Again, there is absolutely no chance that you actually believe this. You want us to believe that in Our Lord’s 33 years on earth, and the decades long ministries of the Apostles, scattered according to the Great Commission (St. James in Jerusalem, St. Paul in the Mediterranean, St. Mark to Africa, St. Thomas to India, etc.) most of whose ENTIRE MINISTRIES are without a SHRED of WRITTEN DOCUMENTATION, that all of their teachings were recorded in scripture. That they never had a single conversation in their entire lives of ministry other than those handful recorded for us?!! This is sheer lunacy, completely contrary the most introductory gloss of the Church history, contrary elementary logic and the scriptures themselves (recall my previous posts on 1 Tim 3:14-15, 1 John 12, 2 John 13). But, on the other hand, if you believe half of this I do have a really nice bridge you might be interested in….

I haven’t time to here detail how Prot’s commit an entire category error of the document types of scripture themselves (the NT is overwhelmingly history and epistle, and is almost totally devoid of anything approaching systematic theology). For a law analogy, the scriptures are overwhelmingly (not uniformly) like a legal case book (listing cases filled with orbiter dicta as well as ratio descendi, as unsorted) and are overwhelmingly dissimilar to a legal hornbook (systematically listing the “blackletter” law). The cases do not systematize themselves, but rather, they need an interpreter, who can systematize them. This incredibly obvious point is totally ignored in Prot SS discussion.

If God had wanted a SS approach, why didn’t He provide a systematic text (as cults seem often to do)? The generally unsystematic texts of scripture are rather soul-mirrors to the “untaught” or the “unstable” who “twist” the texts “to their own destruction.”

ST. BASIL:

4. When Basil and the Arians both claimed their tradition was correct, Basil said, "let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth." (Basil, Letter 189, 3) This proves that scripture was viewed by the Church Fathers as the supreme court of determining truth, when traditions contradict each other.

This is so profoundly ignorant of the history, logic and the dogmatic theology of St. Basil (one of the BIG TIME Orthodox). Of all the people to quote to support SS, St. Basil is quite likely THE ABSOLUTE WORST that you could ever find. Oh, this is gonna hurt (but it’s for your own good).

The Arians (as with many heretics) claimed to have the correct interpretation of the scriptures, but claimed that the Church hierarchy was false/illegitimate (as Luther, or yourself, for example). Thus St. Basil (among others) often used the only common ground between them, the scriptures (just as I largely am with you). This provides no argument for the absurd insinuation that the Church has no authority to determine the true tradition (and the true view of scripture).

This is such an incredibly embarrassing example to use for the Protestant cause on so many fronts. First, because the Arians (the ultimate heretics) are the champions of your defended doctrine (SS) against the Church! They used SS to argue against the ORAL TRADITION of the TRINITY! That’s right, the Arians (the young super heretics) used your precious SS as THEIR STANDARD in arguing against the oral tradition of the Trinity. (Should I say it again so it sinks in?).

Again, the doctrine of the TRINITY is ORAL TRADITION. The Arians used SS to argue AGAINST THE ORAL TRADITION of the TRINITY. (Do you still want to argue against oral tradition now, Lex Rex?)

Second, if you choose to engage in our study of Church history a little more you will learn that the larger Arian/Christian dispute was doctrinally resolved in the ECUMENICAL COUNCIL OF NICEA (325) when the COLLEGE OF BISHOPS, empowered by the HOLY SPIRIT, AUTHORITATIVELY DECLARED (they as the “Supreme Court”) what the true tradition was (later they would declare what the TRUE SCRIPTURES were, oh, that smarts!). Does this ring any bells? Do you recall a thing called the Nicene Creed?

Third, St. Basil is the author of one of the most important liturgical services within the Orthodox Church, introduced monasticism to Asia Minor, wore a hair shirt, celibate, Archbishop, extreme fasting, etc. (so much for he as a SS view of worship, Christian life).

For a particularly opportune citation from your supposed SS ally, please read (long selection below, go to citation for the full SS-destroying effect): St. Basil “On the Holy Spirit”(emphasis added):

66.561 Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church562 some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us "in a mystery"563 by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay;-no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as have no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals; or, rather, should make our public definition a mere phrase and nothing more.564 For instance, to take the first and most general example, who is thence who has taught us in writing to sign with the sign of the cross those who have trusted in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ? What writing has taught us to turn to the East at the prayer? Which of the saints has left us in writing the words of the invocation at the displaying565 of the bread of the Eucharist and the cup of blessing? For we are not, as is well known, content with what the apostle or the Gospel has recorded, but both in preface and conclusion we add other words as being of great importance to the validity of the ministry, and these we derive from unwritten teaching. Moreover we bless the water of baptism and the oil of the chrism, and besides this the catechumen who is being baptized. On what written authority do we do this? Is not our authority silent and mystical tradition? Nay, by what written word is the anointing of oil566 itself taught? And whence comes the custom of baptizing thrice?567 And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels? Does not this come from that unpublished and secret teaching which our fathers guarded in a silence out of the reach of curious meddling and inquisitive investigation? Well had they learnt the lesson that the awful dignity of the mysteries is best preserved by silence. What the uninitiated are not even allowed: to look at was hardly likely to be publicly paraded about in written documents. What was the meaning of the mighty Moses in not making all the parts of the tabernacle open to every one? The profane he stationed without the sacred barriers; the first courts he conceded to the purer; the Levites alone he judged worthy of being servants of the Deity; sacrifices and burnt offerings and the rest of the priestly functions he allotted to the priests; one chosen out of all he admitted to the shrine, and even this one not always but on only one day in the year, and of this one day a time was fixed for his entry so that he might gaze on the Holy of Holies amazed at the strangeness and novelty of the sight. Moses was wise enough to know that contempt stretches to the trite and to the obvious, while a keen interest is naturally associated with the unusual and the unfamiliar. In the same manner the Apostles and Fathers who laid down laws for the Church from the beginning thus guarded the awful dignity of the mysteries in secrecy and silence, for what is bruited abroad random among the common folk is no mystery at all. This is the reason for our tradition of unwritten precepts and practices, that the knowledge of our dogmas may not become neglected and contemned by the multitude through familiarity. "Dogma" and "Kerugma" are two distinct things; the former is observed in silence; the latter is proclaimed to all the world. One form of this silence is the obscurity employed in Scripture, which makes the meaning of "dogmas" difficult to be understood for the very advantage of the reader: Thus we all look to the East568 at our prayers, but few of us know that we are seeking our own old country,569 Paradise, which God planted in Eden in the East.570 We pray standing,571 on the first day of the week, but we do not all know the reason. On the day of the resurrection (or "standing again" Grk. a0na/stasij we remind ourselves of the grace given to us by standing at prayer, not only because we rose with Christ,572 and are bound to "seek those things which are above,"573 but because the day seems to us to be in some sense an image of the age which we expect, wherefore, though it is the beginning of days, it is not called by Moses first, but one.574 For he says "There was evening, and there was morning, one day," as though the same day often recurred. Now "one and "eighth" are the same, in itself distinctly indicating that really "one" and "eighth" of which the Psalmist makes mention in certain titles of the Psalms, the state which follows after this present time, the day which knows no waning or eventide, and no successor, that age which endeth not or groweth old.575 Of necessity, then, the church teaches her own foster children to offer their prayers on that day standing, to the end that through continual reminder of the endless life we may not neglect to make provision for our removal thither. Moreover all Pentecost is a reminder of the resurrection expected in the age to come. For that one and first day, if seven times multiplied by seven, completes the seven weeks of the holy Pentecost; for, beginning at the first, Pentecost ends with the same, making fifty revolutions through the like intervening days. And so it is a likeness of eternity, beginning as it does and ending, as in a circling course, at the same point. On this day the rules of the church have educated us to prefer the upright attitude of prayer, for by their plain reminder they, as It were, make our mind to dwell no longer in the present but in the future. Moreover every time we fall upon our knees and rise from off them we shew by the very deed that by our sin we fell down to earth, and by the loving kindness of our Creator were called hack to heaven.
67. Time will fail me if I attempt to recount the unwritten mysteries of the Church. Of the rest I say nothing; but of the very confession of our faith in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, what is the written source? If it be granted that, as we are baptized, so also under the obligation to believe, we make our confession in like terms as our baptism, in accordance with the tradition of our baptism and in conformity with the principles of true religion, let our opponents grant us too the right to be as consistent in our ascription of glory as in our confession of faith. If they deprecate our doxology on the ground that it lacks written authority, let them give us the written evidence for the confession of our faith and the other matters which we have enumerated. While the unwritten traditions are so many, and their bearing on "the mystery of godliness576 is so important, can they refuse to allow us a single word which has come down to us from the Fathers;-which we found, derived from untutored custom, abiding in unperverted churches;-a word for which the arguments are strong, and which contributes in no small degree to the completeness of the force of the mystery?

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-08/Npnf2-08-06.htm

Please check this out in its entirety (double dog dare ya). It will rock your little Prot worlds, baby!

Is it too self-serving to note that St. Basil in this passage lists several dozen aspects of Orthodox dogma and practice that are identically held by the Orthodox Church today (and held by NO OTHER tradition or denomination)? Let me declare this passage as one of my cornerstone passages to defend Orthodox liturgy and worship when we discuss the same.

Additionally, is it to indelicate to suggest that your sources (who held St. Basil to support SS) have been smoking crack? Perhaps they practice theology part time (maybe they are painters, the fumes can cause mental confusion). Lex Rex, do you think that they have been good witnesses to your cause? Don’t you think you should hire more trustworthy glossators? I can suggest a few.

A quick search found this fun story from the Bishop (broadly related to our subject):

This Demosthenes had already threatened the archbishop with the knife, and been bidden to go back to his fire. Now he ventured to join in the imperial conversation, and made some blunder in Greek. "An illiterate Demosthenes!" exclaimed Basil; "' better leave theology alone, and go back to your soups."

One might say the same to some Protestants who venture with ignorance and arrogance into these topics: “Leave theology alone, Go back to your sports, shopping and pornography.” So much for SS.

Additionally, a beautiful quote is as follows (when St. Basil resisted the threats of an Arian heretic):

Modestus threatened impoverishment, exile, torture, death. Basil retorted that none of these threats frightened him: he had nothing to be confiscated except a few rags and a few books; banishment could not send him beyond the lands of God; torture had no terrors for a body already dead; death could only come as a friend to hasten his last journey home. Modestus exclaimed in amazement that he had never been so spoken to before. "Perhaps," replied Basil, "you never met a bishop before."

The Protestant reader should well learn the difference between elder and Bishop (St. Basil certainly did). May I presume, dear Lex Rex and Zain, you neither of you have ever met a bishop before, either?


SUPREME COURT & SS:

I can’t pass the “Supreme Court” reference because it is so helpful (but not to the Protestants) on this subject. As you are well aware, the Supreme Court is a group of elders who rule over written text and judge (oral) disputes of that text’s meanings. I have almost nothing else to add. That is exactly the Orthodox approach.

The texts are higher in authority than the Judges, but the Judges have the duty to interpret the texts (thus exercising authority over the texts). The texts cannot argue for themselves to prevent themselves being misinterpreted by conflicting traditions. A group of authoritative experts are required to properly interpret the texts, keeping the proper interpretation for subsequent generations (the exact equivalent of stare decisis). In fact, the whole of the Protestant distinctives amount to violations of stare decisis (as they do not let the “decision stand” of previous rulings on the text). Further, the fact that the Court errs, does not remove the need for the court to exist. It recognizes that there are good judges and bad judges. A bad judge needs be removed from his office, not the office abolished (just as bad husbands are not sufficient justification to eliminate marriage, or bad rules to eliminate civil hierarchy).

This really is very simple (when you set aside your old traditions)


ST. HIPPOLYTUS:

"There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source.” (Hippolytus, Against Noetus, ch 9)Although Hippolytus was fully aware that the gospel as we agree was first preached 100% orally through the apostles and prophets even before the first book of the New Testament was written, in 200 AD, he recognized that scripture was the only source of authority. This also proves that although Hippolytus may also have recognized the witness of church tradition, he saw that tradition was ultimately derived from scripture, since none of the inspired apostles were alive to consult with.

This is a nice quote for SS if you read it as presented (without context or understanding of the author, pulled up by its roots to advance a position impossible to the student of Church history). But it is a simple, gigantic, stinking lie to claim that Hippolytus recognized “scripture was the only source of authority.” Are you not embarrassed to write such falsehoods about people whose lives and dogma with which you are completely unfamiliar?

Here’s just a few other passages from this same book:

When the blessed presbyters heard this, they summoned him before the Church, and examined him. …Then, after examining him, they expelled him from the Church. And he was carried to such a pitch of pride, that he established a school.” Wow, the heretic Noetus must be a Protestant (invent a novel teaching, get kicked out of the church, open up shop across the street). And so much for SS, the Church utilized their authority to kick him out. (Noetus, Chap 1). Also, do you believe in “blessed presbyters” Lex Rex?

See Hippolytus criticism of the heretic’s use of sola scriptura:

But the case stands not thus; for the Scriptures do not set forth the matter in this manner. But they make use also of other testimonies, and say, Thus it is written…(Noetus, Chap 2)”

In this way, then, they choose to set forth these things, and they make use only of one class of passages; just in the same one-sided manner that Theodotus employed when he sought to prove that Christ was a mere man. But neither has the one party nor the other understood the matter rightly, as the Scriptures themselves confute their senselessness, and attest the truth. See, brethren, what a rash and audacious dogma they have introduced, when they say without shame…. The proper way, therefore, to deal with the question is first of all to refute the interpretation put upon these passages by these men, and then to explain their real meaning ” (Chap 3)

And these words he cites without understanding what precedes them. For whenever they wish to attempt anything underhand, they mutilate the Scriptures. But let him quote the passage as a whole, and he will discover the reason kept in view in writing it. (Chap 4).

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hippolytus-dogmatical.html

Amen, Bishop Hippolytus. The scriptures are the Word of God upon which we have received much of our knowledge. But the scriptures alone are abused by heretics to support their novel doctrines, in variance with received Oral Tradition. The duty of the Church hierarchy is thus to throw them out.

St. Hippolytus fully believes in the full boat Orthodox view of scriptures, tradition and magisterium (as you will discover should you choose to do your homework). As another passage on this subject (see following):

But none will refute these, save the Holy Spirit bequeathed unto the Church, which the Apostles, having in the first instance received, have transmitted to those who have rightly believed. But we, as being their successors, and as participators in this grace, high-priesthood, and office of teaching, as well as being reputed guardians of the Church, must not be found deficient in vigilance, or disposed to suppress correct doctrine.”

HIPPOLYTUS OF ROME (THE REFUTATION OF ALL HERESIES)

So much for St. Hippolytus as your proto-Prot. He dares to defend apostolic succession, the Magisterium, the sacrament of the Priesthood, the Church empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Hierarchy as the guardians of the Church and correct doctrine, etc. Are you slinking down in your seat yet, Mr. Lex Rex?

Is this the best you’ve got?! Oh, you’ve got a lot of “splaining” to do.

SACRAMENTS:

As for the Sacraments, please let me rest before I have to take out my paddle again. Haven’t your sources received enough embarrassing beatings for one night. Shouldn’t you be seeking to plea at this stage? Pretty much every single assertion you have is totally wrong or substantially inaccurate. A few thumbnails: Transubstantiation is a later medieval attempt to philosophically understand what happens in the Lord’s supper, Real Presence is the foundational historic teaching (already in Ignatius, and held by the Orthodox). Orthodox do not support the Papacy, etc.

Well, maybe I have time to knock off just one more, spectacularly fraudulent, misquotation (have you provided any others?)

Hippolytus (200 AD): "And she hath furnished her table: "that denotes the promised knowledge of the Holy Trinity; it also refers to His honoured and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper. (Hippolytus, Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs 9:1) (Notice no change in elements)

You provide this as supposed proof that St. Hippolytus DOES NOT believe in the Real Presence (or Lord’s Supper containing the Body and Blood of our Lord). Oh, my, my (this is the most embarassing misrepresentation yet).

I, not being a trusting (or perhaps trustworthy) sort, like always to check citations provided, and found the remarkable REST OF THE STORY. Please read the end of this same paragraph which you have selectively cited above:

“Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled for you;" by which is meant, that He gave His divine flesh and honoured blood to us, to eat and to drink it for the remission of sins.”

I am shocked (SHOCKED I SAY) to find such total fraud perpetrated upon this esteemed blog forum. Actually, I am not shocked. This sort of dishonesty is the normal m.o. for popular, on-line Protestantism on this subject.

So instead, I shall I politely point out: LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!

Oh what lies are committed when people think I won’t check their citations (your source Lex Rex, not yourself)! Check for yourself (to confirm my accuracy):

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/hippolytus-exegetical.html

Of course St. Hippolytus believes in the Real Presence, the heretical views (mere symbol especially) on the subject had no support until the 16th Century revolution (with Zwingli being the main culprit, not Luther, nor Calvin). Oh, you have much to learn grasshopper.

Please Lex Rex, you must expose the name of the absolute CHARLATAN who provided these ABSOLUTELY FALSE PROPOGANDISTIC mis-citation of St. Hippolytus (and others). This is (sadly) what I have come to expect from evangelical citation of the Church Fathers. The Truth, YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH (of the Early Church). So lies, disception, half-truths are sold to keep the young evangelicals blindly within the fold. You have been taken. You have swallowed their propaganda; hook, line, sinker (and boat)!

Lex Rex, I have hope for you. You’ve been had by a Protestant Goebbels! Don’t take it lying down. Escape now while your wits still serve you (I’ll lay down cover for you as you escape the Protestant thought-police camp)! Fight the power! Or as they say here up in Boulder, “Subvert the Dominant Paradigm!”

You’ve been lied to by your tradition. It’s OK. I was too. Take up your hammer of truth (just like the running lady in the Apple Macintosh commercial) and throw it through the movie screen of Protestant propaganda (showing Luther and Calvin picking daisies and riding ponies together). Slap yourself a few times (I'd do it for you if I could). Yell out the window, if it helps: “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore.”

Xapis,
BGM

PS: Much more to come, I’m just too tired. BGM.

Friday, March 04, 2005

I thought I'd place our posts on Early Church to date in Chronological order:

One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
Eight
Nine
Ten

Early Church

I took out Jehovah's Witness as it was a slap in the face of Orthodox, sorry for lumping them in. As to infallible pastors, I added a question mark as this is open for debate but forgive me Zain, my personal experience excepting you of course has been not good in gently pointing out an inconsistency between their "inspiration" and the Bible. I was "filled with the devil" for even challenging their "authority", which I would label Prima Prida. Of course, based on my past reckless behavior, they may have been correct in their judgment, I digress.

Also, on the continuing virginity of Mary thing, Zain we seriously do need to study this closer. There is some evidence that the early church held this view, even Calvin thought Mary remained a virgin.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Early Church

Lex Rex & BGM:

Lex Rex, I enjoyed Vol. 1 of the Sparticus Commentary on Sola Scriptura and I eagerly await the Byzantine response as represented by BGM. And let me say, I would rather have the Greek/Austrian and the Irishman by my side than a host of scholars and seminary graduates, which makes me wonder where our Italian comrade is in all of this.

After reading your recent posts (and email responses), I feel it is necessary to clarify a few of my positions and I would beg your patience if it deviates from the choosen format at all.

When I stated that some of my positions atleast seem closer to the Orthodox viewpoint I was mainly refering to the following:

1. "Once Saved Always Saved" -- I have never agreed with this doctrine and feel it is, when strictly applied, a dangerous doctrine;

2. Strict "Faith Alone" -- I think many protestants, present company excluded of course, have abused this doctrine (ex. I believe we are certainly saved by Faith, and not by works, but that true faith always produces true works.) -- now that I think of it I am not sure the exact Orthodox viewpoint here and my view may be closer to many protestants who also do not hold to the Strict version and application of this doctrine -- Please let me know!;

3. "Church Authority and Discipline" -- I agree that a general authority structure does exist within the Church, but does not exist to establish "little kings";

4. "Holy Objects" -- I am even agreeable, but very guarded, toward the fact that Scriptures do include numerous examples of holy objects (never to be worshiped of course).

For the following areas, however, your recent responses make me think we are comparing 'apples and oranges' rather than 'apples and apples', hence, I would like to have clarification on what each of you mean by your references. I will try to state my understanding.

"Private Judgment" -- I am not sure I know what you both mean by this title. My own thoughts are along the following course. I know many protestants who have an attitude that their own personal reading of any given Scripture is their own highest reference point. Even scriptures that should have a clear meaning are twisted to support their desired end. They are their own Pope, to steal a reference from BGM. Normally, they are prideful people who are more interested in justifying their lifestyle than those who are seeking truth.

Yet, as I have said, I do believe "Personal Judgment" is required (we must all choose, but wisdom is often found in the counsel of others). In this regard, I would not agree with those who are content to accept everything their Bishop instructs them in without further consideration. If they simply follow the Bishop with nothing further, how would they even know when they are being led astray? I would agree with Lex Rex that this seems to be a weakness with the Orthodox and Catholics. Do any of us really differ on this point? It does not seem so to me, but please correct me if I am missing something.

And then we come to the current "Sola Scriptura" discussion. I did agree with BGM regarding his description of how we all tend to use a form of tradition when interpreting Scripture. What I meant is that most of us do have our own reference points, whether they be living theologians or views passed down through the ages. In fact, I still think it extremely unwise for anyone to completely ignore the advice or counsel of those who came before, like Ignatius, and those who are elders in the Faith now. But on the other hand, I think it just as unwise to rely solely on such advice and counsel without reading the Scriptures for yourself. Nevertheless, my comments agreeing over this type of tradition should be limited to the context of the interpretation of Scripture, and not be extended to traditions having no basis in Scripture (and especially not be extended to magisterial tradition -- see my last post).

By itself, I do not think this view on tradition undermines nor denies the doctrine of Sola Scriptura in anyway. If either of you disagree please enlighten me. I should also say that I do agree with Lex Rex that much of Scripture has a plain meaning to those not reading it with a tainted viewpoint to begin. I, not for any claim of personal glory mind you, argued this point early on in our discussions. As all of us agree, any correct interpretation is dependant first upon the direction of the Holy Spirit. (I must be honest and admit, however, that there are not a few Scriptures that I, to this day, do not understand. Perhaps it is just my ignorance.)

I recently, in a private email, referred to my view as being 'Prima Scriptura'. Let me just say that my comments were mostly meant as a jest toward our propensity to use a latin title for everything. Perhaps my jest was lost, but if I had any idea that it was an actual position, I would not have choosen said title. For that, I beg your pardon. A summary of my own view, without the title, would be that Scripture is the ultimate standard we are left with. Anything that is contrary to a plain reading of Scripture must be rejected. Anything not plain must be weighed and judged against that standard (with consideration given to the wisdom of others, including those who came before). If Christ appeared to me in person, as I have said, I would obey. If he sent an angel or prophet or bishop, etc. I would, again, weigh and judge against the standard. Do any of these conclusions violate Sola Scriptura? Again, please enlighten me.

As a side note, Lex Rex I completely agreed with your views on the virginity of Mary and on the doctrine of transubstantiation. If the argument concerning original sin and the virginity of Mary is the same as I have heard, I am not impressed by it. Unless I am remembering wrong, the Hebrew belief was that sin was passed on through the seed of man, which of course was missing in the conception of Christ our Lord (which I suppose would be a Hebrew Tradition). Anyway, I digress.

I did not, on the other hand, agree with your restatement of the Charismatic's as holding to a doctrine of Pastor infallibility. From my experience with Charismatics, which is extensive, this could not be further from the truth.

Finally, let me restate the problem I see in both the West and the East. I do continue to strongly believe that the Western (American) Church has a crisis of Standard, as discussed in my earlier post. Yet, I also, just as strongly, believe that the Eastern Church has a crisis of Heart. Rather than getting into another lengthy discourse supporting this view, I will just reference an analogy I have been hinting at for some time. I believe that the Eastern Church has become pharisitical in its relationship with the Lord. I do not mean either of these conclusions as an insult to either of my esteemed brothers and I understand that the Lord may yet correct me on any one of these conclusions if I have missed the mark.

I apologize for this restatement of my positions, but there is something in me that tends not to like artificial tags and titles, unless they are actually found in Scripture. I know they are useful for topical direction, but it seems to me that they most often fail to accurately define anyone's true position completely. Again, if I have digressed too much, forgive me.

God Speed!

Zain

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Early Church

BGM & Zain,

I cut, pasted, rearranged, and added some commentary to the below admittedly plagiarized apology of Sola Scriptura. Please read this in the spirit it is intended, coming from a highly animated Greek-Austrian, but one that loves his bretheren dearly no less. The early church fathers were indeed sola Scriptura, which is where the Reformers aimed to point the church.

The integrity of Paul's teaching is evidenced in his desire to be held historically accountable. He was careful to mention when he had preserved and passed on oral tradition, and when he had not received some previously held teaching (1 Cor. 7:10, 12; 15:3; 1 Tim. 1:15; 3:1; 4:9; Tit. 3:8; 2 Tim. 2:11). Also, there are two Pauline texts of Christian hymns or poetry which indicate previous familiarity that were most likely dated not later than the 50s (Phil. 2:6-11; Col. 1:15-20). It seems, then, that this short time would virtually rule out any gradual evolution of Christology for the early Church.

Being an oral, pre-literate culture, there were well-established standards in the recording of authentic history during biblical times. Though the author's right to summarize rather than cite every word was recognized, there was an intense concern for accuracy in what counted as history, both in the Greco-Roman tradition and the Jewish tradition. An accurate memory is necessary in preserving ipsissima verba or ipsissima vox.

When the Church Fathers made reference to an "oral apostolic tradition" separate from scripture, they always viewed such tradition as duplicating what the apostles later revealed in scripture as a parallel witness. In other words, all doctrines that originated from apostolic oral traditions were finally recorded in the text of scripture. The substance of Oral tradition doctrines is identical with scripture.

1. Virtually all the apostolic fathers viewed a progressive sequence of revelation passing through three stages: 1. Oral teachings of Christ to his apostles. 2. Oral teachings of the apostles based upon Christ’s oral tradition and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for new information Christ never discussed. 3. All of Christ’s and the Apostles’ teachings were recorded in scripture. The early post-apostolic church viewed scripture as the final process of complete revelation.

2. The Church Fathers viewed the scriptures as all sufficient and complete.

3. The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it. They indicated that the scriptures themselves were clear, so clear, they even criticized the heretics for getting it wrong. If those outside the church and common pew dwellers are unable to understand the Bible themselves as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches teach, then why did the church expect the heretics to understand the Bible with their own human skills? (Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ, ch 20), (Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, 56), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 1, 35), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 7, 16)

4. When Basil and the Arians both claimed their tradition was correct, Basil said, "let God-inspired Scripture decide between us; and on whichever side be found doctrines in harmony with the word of God, in favour of that side will be cast the vote of truth." (Basil, Letter 189, 3) This proves that scripture was viewed by the Church Fathers as the supreme court of determining truth, when traditions contradict each other.

Notice that although the church Fathers (in my opinion) sometimes taught things that were not in the Bible, they still upheld the principle of Sola Scriptura because they truly (but sometimes mistakenly) thought that the doctrines had scriptural support. Had they said the doctrines of transubstantiation, the Mass, apostolic succession of bishops, the papacy, elevation of Mary, were not taught in the Bible, but oral tradition alone, only then would their argument be consistent and more debatable. But since all the Fathers believed their doctrines came from scripture, this actually proves they used Sola Scriptura, and not oral traditions in a vacuum. If BGM ultimately cites scripture to support these doctrines, then is he not advocating Sola Scriptura or at least a version of the same? BGM & Zain, perhaps your problem with Sola Scriptura is that few churches properly understand and teach the doctrine.

1. Catholics & Orthodox claim an infallible organization.
2. Pentecostals and Charismatics claim infallible pastors? (inspiration)
3. Evangelicals, Baptists and Calvinists claim infallible individuals. (Illumination of the Holy Spirit)

Could it be that all three are wrong? I think the true meaning of Sola Scriptura is: Fallible Christians claim an infallible book.

BGM: since the sacraments were mentioned in your latest post, while scripture admittedly may teach baptism for the remission of sins, none of the other doctrines mentioned above can be clearly traced back to the apostles, but may be man made doctrines that had their origin no earlier than 150 - 400 AD. For example, consider the following orthodox beliefs and sacraments:

Transubstantiation:
In Mt 26:29 after Jesus had said, "this is my blood" and prayed, he still referred to the contents as, "fruit of the vine". If transubstantiation of the juice into blood had occurred, as both Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches say it was at this time, then Jesus would never have referred to it as "fruit of the vine' but rather "blood". When Jesus said "take eat & drink" he literally gave them bread and juice/wine, did He not? Jesus instituted Lord’s Supper before his blood was shed and body broken. He spoke of His blood being shed, which was still yet future tense. Does this not demonstrate it was a symbol? Before 200 AD, did not the early church view the bread and juice/wine as symbols? Conversely, the earliest historical hint of transubstantiation was in the 4th century, was it not? Indeed, did not this doctrine grow out of the Gnostic controversies of the mid second century and gradually developed to full flower in the 4th century? Is it therefore possible that in this regard, the Reformers were indeed reforming the church back to its early roots? In the early Church, before 200AD, both Gnostics and the church took the same symbolic view of the bread and juice. Some Gnostics refused to eat the Lord's Supper altogether. Transubstantiation was not an issue that was discussed. By the fourth century, the church drifted away from the original symbolic view of the Apostles and began to teach transubstantiation. Only in the fourth century, were Gnostics isolated in their symbolic view. But amazingly, they were the ones who maintained the Apostolic traditional view. It was the church that had changed her theology towards transubstantiation. The language of the Gnostics was the same literalistic language used by the church: "….[T]hey say the bread for which they give thanks is the body of their Lord and the cup his blood". (Irenaeus, Against Heresies IV.xviii.4, 5): Check out the following quotes/interpretations and tell me if they are wrong:

Justin Martyr (150 AD): "Now it is evident, that in this prophecy [Isa 33:13-19] to the bread which our Christ gave us to eat, in remembrance of His being made flesh for the sake of His believers, for whom also He suffered; and to the cup which He gave us to drink, in remembrance of His own blood, with giving of thanks." (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, ch 70).

Irenaeus (180 AD): Irenaeus refutes the Gnostics on the basis that the Lord would not use "evil material things" like bread and juice in the Lord's Supper. Had Irenaeus argued that the bread and juice Transubstantiated into something different from what they appear, the Gnostics would have agreed, saying this change was essential because Jesus did not have physical flesh either.

Tertullian (200 AD): "Taking bread and distributing it to his disciples he made it his own body by saying, "This is my body," that is a "figure of my body." On the other hand, there would not have been a figure unless there was a true body." (Tertullian, Against Marcion IV. 40). Does not Tertullian posit that the bread was representative of the true body?

Cyprian (200 AD): Augustine stated, “Observe" he (Cyprian) says, in presenting the cup, to maintain the custom handed down to us from the Lord, and to do nothing that our Lord has not first done for us: so that the cup which is offered in remembrance of Him should be mixed with wine. For, as Christ says, 'I am the true vine,' it follows that the blood of Christ is wine, not water; and the cup cannot appear to contain His blood by which we are redeemed and quickened, if the wine be absent; for by the wine is the blood of Christ typified, that blood which is foreshadowed and proclaimed in all the types and declarations of Scripture." (Augustine, On Christian Doctrine, book 4, ch 21, quoting Cyprian)

Hippolytus (200 AD): "And she hath furnished her table: "that denotes the promised knowledge of the Holy Trinity; it also refers to His honoured and undefiled body and blood, which day by day are administered and offered sacrificially at the spiritual divine table, as a memorial of that first and ever-memorable table of the spiritual divine supper. (Hippolytus, Fragment from Commentary on Proverbs 9:1) (Notice no change in elements)

Papacy:

Not as old of a doctrine as you think, here is the history:

Bible: 33-100AD: All elders equal. Bible only for doctrine (elder/bishop one office)

150 AD One elder exalted above the others (elder/bishop still one office) Bible still rules

200 AD One Bishop per church overseeing the eldership (elder/bishop two offices) Still based on Bible only

250 AD One diocesan Bishop overseeing other Bishops of other churches. Still based on Bible only

300 AD One Metropolitan Bishop overseeing other diocesan Bishops (Creeds replace Bible)

381 AD One Patriarch overseeing Metropolitans (Man replaces Creeds)

BGM: Is this an accurate history of the evolution of the Papacy? If so, why did it change over a period of 400 years, does not the 33-100 AD resemble most Protestant/reform structure? If so, are the Reformers then more accurate or did the true doctrine just pop up in 381 AD? If you say the latter, why do you complain about Reformer doctrine merely appearing on the scene at a later date (which I still dispute)? Perhaps your view of the Papacy as Orthodox would agree with the above and therefore support your view of such and justify the schism from Catholicism.


Mary Remained a Virgin?:

Because the Bible appears to contradict Catholic doctrine, some Catholic interpreters will insist these are cousins, kinsmen, or from a supposed earlier marriage of Joseph. But the Bible seems to say otherwise. The Catechism gives this (in my opinion) incorrect explanation:

"The Church has always understood these passages as not referring to other children of the Virgin Mary. In fact James and Joseph, 'brothers of Jesus,' are the sons of another Mary, a disciple of Christ..." Pg. 126 #500).

But see Matthew 13:55-56 & Mark 6:3: 55 "Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 "And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this man get all these things?" 57 And they took offense at Him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town, and in his own household." Mark 6:3 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him. 4 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household."

Also note that James and Jesus cannot simply be “cousins” because Colossians 4:10 uses a separate Greek word (it escapes me right now for cousins). John 1:41 uses the same term of Peter and his brother. It becomes less clear in the OT in that there was no word for cousin, and the the term "brother" was commonly used to describe various relations.

Consider the father's use of scripture to support the following doctrines:

1. Doctrines the Fathers thought were in the Bible

-baptism for the remission of sins
-transubstantiation
-the Mass (there may be support for the liturgy in the early writings)
-apostolic succession
-the papacy (orthodox admittedly do not revere)
-Mary Virginity after Christ (may have some support, needs further reading)

2. Doctrines the Fathers said were not in the Bible, but from oral tradition.

-Renouncing the devil before baptism
-Thrice baptism by immersion (Orthodox = yes)
-drinking milk and honey after baptism
-no bath for 1 week after baptism
-kneeling in prayer forbidden in worship (Catholics now permit)
-sign of cross on forehead only (Some orthodox still follow)

BGM: Did not the Fathers use sola Scriptura to defend all the doctrines under 1 which are still practiced today? Conversely, the doctrines under 2, which they say came from oral tradition and not from the Bible, is it not true that you no longer practice? Perhaps it is different in the Antioch Orthodox, but if my assertions are correct, then there really is no “oral tradition” as understood in modern times as all has been reduced to scripture, and that apart from the Bible have been abandoned all together. That I believe that reliance on scripture for column 1 is a misinterpretation, is irrelevant. The point is that the fathers relied on scripture alone to defend these doctrines, and therefore for the Reformers to look to scripture alone to refute the same cannot be a flawed approach, it can only be the correct approach. Check out these quotes from the fathers:

“We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith. For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed "perfect knowledge," as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles." (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, book 3, 1, 1)

Irenaeus states that the gospel was first orally revealed, then the gospel was recorded in scriptures and calls the scriptures the "ground and pillar" of faith. This should give every Orthodox some pause in asserting tradition apart from scripture because it is a clear interpretation of 1 Tim 3:15 where the same expression is used of the church. Obviously then, Irenaeus viewed that the church came second in authority under the scriptures. It is also clear that you can make no change from what the apostles teach as it was the unchangeable standard of doctrine.

"[T]he sacred and inspired Scriptures are sufficient to declare the truth" (Athanasius, Against the Heathen, part 1, 1, 3) BGM: Tell me if I am misquoting… Athanasius states that in defending doctrine, the scriptures are all-sufficient? In the Arian theological wars, Athanasius uses scripture not tradition as a first line of attack. How is this different from the Reformers?

"But those who are ready to toil in the most excellent pursuits, will not desist from the search after truth, till they get the demonstration from the Scriptures themselves." (Clement of Alexandria, book 7, ch 16, Scripture the Criterion by Which Truth and Heresy are Distinguished) So Clement will not accept any doctrine contrary to Scriptures. Sounds sola Scripturian to me.

"There is, brethren, one God, the knowledge of whom we gain from the Holy Scriptures, and from no other source. For just as a man, if he wishes to be skilled in the wisdom of this world, will find himself unable to get at it in any other way than by mastering the dogmas of philosophers, so all of us who wish to practice piety will be unable to learn its practice from any other quarter than the oracles of God. Whatever things, then, the Holy Scripture declare, at these let us look; and whatsoever things they teach, these let us learn; and as the Father wills our belief to be, let us believe; and as He wills the Son to be glorified, let us glorify Him; and as He wills the Holy Spirit to be bestowed, let us receive Him. Not according to our own will, nor according to our own mind, nor yet as using violently those things which are given by God, but even as He has chosen to teach them by the Holy Scriptures, so let us discern them." (Hippolytus, Against Noetus, ch 9)

Although Hippolytus was fully aware that the gospel as we agree was first preached 100% orally through the apostles and prophets even before the first book of the New Testament was written, in 200 AD, he recognized that scripture was the only source of authority. This also proves that although Hippolytus may also have recognized the witness of church tradition, he saw that tradition was ultimately derived from scripture, since none of the inspired apostles were alive to consult with.

I finish with some questions:

Can you provide a single example of a doctrine that originates from an oral Apostolic Tradition that the Bible is silent about? Is there any proof that this doctrinal tradition is apostolic in origin?

Can you provide a single example of where inspired apostolic "oral revelation" (tradition) differed from "written" (scripture)?

I think Zain asked this, but if you are not permitted to engage in private interpretation of the Bible, how do you know which "apostolic tradition" is correct between the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and the Watchtower churches, for all three teach the organization alone can interpret scripture correctly, to the exclusion of individual?

Why did God fail to provide an inspired and infallible list of Old Testament books to Israel? Why would God suddenly provide such a list only after Israel was destroyed in 70 AD?

If the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches both believes that the scripture: "the church is the pillar and foundation of truth" means the church is protected from error then: a. Why do they teach doctrine so different that they are not even in communion with each other? b. How do you account for the vast number of documented theological errors made by the pope and the church in general? (I tyhink you may have broached this previously)

Of course, the same can be asked of Protestants…. But if sola Scriptura cannot be the correct method of determining truth because of the religious division among churches that claim to use sola Scriptura, then does this not also disqualify the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches method of using tradition, since they are divided against themselves?

When you see the word tradition, why do Orthodox usually assume it to be oral tradition rather than scripture tradition, when the Bible calls scripture tradition in 2 Thess 2:15, and Athanasius call scripture tradition: "the Apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, 'Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the Flesh" Athanasius then quotes: 1 Peter 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb 2:1 (Athanasius, To Adelphius, Letter 60, 6)?

The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it. They indicated that the scriptures themselves were clear, so clear, they even criticized the heretics for getting it wrong. If those outside the church and common pew dwellers are unable to understand the Bible themselves as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches teach, then why did the apostolic fathers expect the heretics to understand the Bible with their own human skills? (Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ, ch 20), (Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, 56), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 1, 35), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 7, 16)

Your brother in His Grace,

Lex Rex