The attitude that bugs me is that the author of the article says the Orthodox should "get inside the heads of Protestants" and learn the sola Scriptura point of view in order to refute it, but then repeatedly mischaracterises the doctrine. The piece attacks Protestantism as a whole at one point, a strawman of sola Scriptura at another, then empiricism, then liberalism, then fundamentalism... And I'm not a fan of some of those things, but they're all being vaguely lumped under sola Scriptura, which is a fairly specifically-defined doctrine; so it comes across as just a general anti-Protestant rant than a piece of compelling scholarship.
Again, he is simply pointing out that the idea that Scripture alone is what is necessary is not true. There is more required. Every Church has a tradition, and that determines a lot about how they read the texts. He is setting up his next point.
SS says that Scripture alone is the infallible rule of faith. It doesn't say it contains all the practical information required for setting up a church service. No SS advocate would deny that every church has a tradition, but that is not the same thing as having Sacred Tradition. The one does not lead to the other. So it's a strawman.
Ah, yes - you are misunderstanding what Tradition is I think. Those texts may well be part of Tradition, even though they are not infallible. There is no list of infallible doctrines, but this article may one day be part of Tradition - if it is correct it is part of Tradition now.
Is this a difference between the Catholic and EO views of Scripture? How are we to know if it's correct now and thus part of Tradition?
Why are you separating the knowledge of the Church based on whether it was written down in the NT or not? It seems rather arbitrary. That method of understanding it did not belong to the people who did the deciding. Don't you think that may have influenced what they decided to include?
I'm not. Oral traditions were valid insofar as they taught the truths that are contained in Scripture. I have no problem with oral tradition. What I have a problem with is oral tradition given the status of infallibility and declared to have its roots in apostolic teaching, when it clearly goes against what was written down (and presumably taught orally). I've seen all sorts of problems with these claims on the Catholic side of things, from cherry-picking or misinterpreting early church texts to using logic that doesn't work to prove harmony with Scripture. As I say, I'm not as familiar with the EO view, so perhaps these problems don't exist in that tradition.
I'm not seeing what you meant here?
The grammar of the verse could be taken to mean that the oral and written teachings given were identical in context. The author was trying to use it to support the existence and infallibility of oral teachings which were different to things in Scripture, without justification.
Because that is how the Fathers and the early church understood it would be my guess.
No doubt, but the relevance of those beliefs are part of the very question at hand. I can understand why the author didn't put it in the article, but my comments were addressed partly to Purple Sage. It's not part of her belief system yet, so it's something she should consider.
You are telling the first Christians, those who knew the Apostles, that they got it pretty wrong.
Well, the New Testament does show them doing just that on a number of important doctrinal issues. And in some cases, the issues in question have no textual evidence until rather later, when they were first described by people who did not know the Apostles. Although why knowing the Apostles should automatically give one good doctrine, I don't know. Some of the churches only had brief visits from one or two apostles, didn't they? And surely some had no visits at all by people who actually saw Jesus face to face.
No, but it doesn't look really hopeful that the method is tending towards success does it?
Depends how you define "success". If you define it as unity to one external, denominational church, then no. But I don't believe that's the point. (Anyway, Catholicism and Orthodoxy are likewise unsuccessful in that regard - plenty of people leave both denominations for Protestantism - or Islam, atheism etc. And let's not forget that both systems failed to prevent major schisms from occurring.) I'm sure God wants all Christians to agree on doctrinal matters, and to have the grace to put up with each others' preferences regarding worship styles and so on - but I don't see that He expects it in this fallen world. By definition, there is unity among Christians, regardless of differing beliefs on a number of issues. So it's quite possible God considers "the method" successful in that regard.
But that isn't his main point here. He is addressing the idea specifically that there is no "truth" at all, or that it is completely fragmented. He's been pointing out to fundamentalists that the same views they have are what lead to liberal Protestantism. He is also talking about the assumptions and results of science as a way of looking at scripture. He doesn't need for his purposes to look at each method - and in fact he does point out that valuable things are learned with these types of inquiries.
Fair enough, but it seems that would have been better put in another article, not lumped in with objections to sola Scriptura specifically. Many SS advocates would argue against "literal" readings and liberalism too, after all. It seems to me he's trying to taint SS by association, but maybe I'm being cynical.
That's interesting, I'm not sure he'd say there was no legitimate Tradition in Judaism before Christ - actually I am almost positive he wouldn't. Tell me, in your scheme, what is the Church? Everyone who believes in Jesus? Do they need to believe anything specific about him?
I thought we discussed this on another thread recently? I believe the Church is an invisible, universal body comprised of all elect believers - defined as those who truly believe the Gospel laid out in the Scriptures.
No, I would not imagine he is saying that. My guess is he would not claim to know who will be saved. Do you mean the invisible Church?
I dunno - later on in the article he linked Christian (non-Orthodox) writings to a quote made by an early church father about the virtue of writings by Pagans, so combined with his other comments it seemed like he was saying Orthodoxy was necessary to salvation. It's not relevant to the issue, really; I was just curious to know if that's the Orthodox position.
Why do you think unity of belief is not what was meant? Who would you include? Would you include Muslims? There is historical precedent for them to be thought of as a type of Christian schismatic group. Could they then be part of the Church? What about other non-Christians? What do you think unity is?
I'm not clear on the context of your first question. As for inclusion, see above. I don't believe any non-Christians are part of the true Church (by definition), but they certainly exist amongst the phenomenological church, as it were - in the pews, if you like.
I'd define unity depending on context. I don't think it means "kicking out whoever doesn't agree with you". Unity can be a common goal or purpose, a common belief system, the willingness to work together for the good of those things, or probably a bunch of other definitions, depending on why you're asking. :p
Look at his first sentence. He is staving off the "who do you think you are telling us the Bible is not the foundation of Christian belief! comments. But it's an interesting point - what is holiness do you think?
I don't see how that's a relevant question. Why do you ask?
You'll have to restate them. I can't say they really resonate with me.
They don't have to resonate, but they do have to be accepted or rebutted (although not necessarily by you, of course!). So far they've largely been ignored. To restate my arguments/questions (and remember, I'm working off a Catholic understanding of Tradition here, not an Orthodox, so maybe you agree with me to a degree already, in which case consider them open to anyone who doesn't!):
-If infallibility is not required for secular knowledge, why is it required for religious knowledge?
-If infallible teachings must be received by fallible minds and consequently lose their infallibility, where is the epistemic advantage to infallibility for the layman?
-If infallible teachings are justified by use of Scripture and logic, does that not open those things up to criticism? If a teaching is shown to be logically impossible or a poor explanation of the Scriptures compared to another explanation, what is a Catholic layman to do?
-If Scripture, reason and private judgment are insufficient grounds for knowledge, how can they be used to come to an acceptance of Tradition? Isn't that self-refuting?
-Has an infallible list of infallible doctrines ever been created? If not, why should a fallible list of such be trusted (especially given the Catholic position that SS advocates cannot trust the canon, since they do not believe its selection was infallible)?
-Practically speaking, Tradition has not in fact led to unity among believers, but to the schism that split Catholicism from Orthodoxy, and the Reformation that split Catholicism from Protestantism.
-The Catholic defense of Tradition from Scripture relies on interpreting certain verses about the church's nature and function in a specific way. These interpretations require justification.
-Many of the Catholic/EO arguments against SS are based on strawmen: the idea that SS advocates don't use tradition (or are hypocritical in doing so), that they believe any personal interpretation is equally valid as any other, that they ignore church history, and so on.
It seems to me that in your system Christianity as a revelation from God (not within my head) is only claiming to be something that could mean a lot of things.
Can you clarify what you mean by this? I don't get it.
We can't discuss things as if they are mathematical problems when actually we are talking about something concrete. A bridge that seems mathematically perfect but doesn't get you from A to B is no good.
OK, but Tradition-based epistemologies have also led to schism and disagreement, so I don't see that either is perfect in a practical sense. I also don't see why either should be expected to be.
And remember, not all divisions within Protestantism are the "fault" of SS. Some are the result of liberalism, or of power-hungry maniacs wanting their own cults, or of differences of ethnicity or preferred worship style. After all, Anglicanism is tremendously divided, and it doesn't hold to sola Scriptura. Yet you (presumably) don't consider this a reason for leaving Anglicanism..?
ETA: In fact, Catholicism probably has a lot LESS unity of belief than most individual Protestant denominations. Catholicism historically maintained unity through excommunication, Protestants through splitting voluntarily. But Catholicism isn't so much with the excommunication these days, so while it arguably has more unity than Protestantism as a whole (however you define it), from the Protestant point of view it is just one more denomination, and a spectacularly non-unified one at that. Take any ten Catholics and any ten Reformed Baptists, and I'd wager the latter had more similarity of belief among themselves than the former. So... there's that.
Edited by Smokering - 12/22/10 at 10:48pm