Lex Rex

verbum sat sapienti

Lex Rex

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!