Lex Rex

verbum sat sapienti

Lex Rex

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Ignatius & The Early Church


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.


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.


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).


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.


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.”


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?


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?


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)


"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).


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.”


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.


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):


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.”


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