As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Catholic/Orthodox View of Christian Epistemology

And, as you said, since we've had some of these conversations before, you know what I'm going to say. But I'll say it anyway. You say your knowledge comes from the Bible and only the Bible. There are several problems with that. In random order...

- Which Bible? The one with or without the Apocrypha? The translation approved by the Orthodox, King James, based on Greek, Latin or Aramaic, etc, etc?

- There are several issues (like the perpetual virginity of Mary) on which we disagree. If you accept the (truncated) canon of scripture approved by the Ecumenical Councils, why do you not accept their other beliefs?

- Even if the Bible were entirely infallible and inerrant in its autograph (the original version), wouldn't you need an infallible, inerrant interpreter? "Why yes," you answer, "I am guided by the Holy Spirit." Then why is there such diversity of belief on important issues like Original Sin (not found in Orthodox theology) or the Real Presence (not found in most Protestant churches)?

An infallible, inerrant, authoritative scripture is still limited by fallible, errant humans. Soooooo .... what's the answer?


Blogger fra edwin said...

Then why is there such diversity of belief on important issues like Original Sin (not found in Orthodox theology) or the Real Presence (not found in most Protestant churches)?

Original sin is found in Orthodox theology, it simply isn't stated in Augustinian terms, nor is Augustine the last word on Western theology. As Father A used to say, anyone in Orthodox circles who talked about propitiation or ransoming through the blood of Christ is accused of being "Westernized." I suspect this is a cultural rather than religious prejudice. Certainly the Jews, from whence comes all Christian Orthodoxy, Western and Eastern, that blood penalty is necessary for sin. Read the Book of Amos. Read about the holocausts offered up to God throughout the old testament.

Could God have forgiven us without the blood sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross? Of course. Since it was his will (not my will, but thy will be done), then the sacrifice was significant and important. I think our theology should address the fact that Jesus did die a horrible death on the cross and that God willed it, and there was a reason for it. So, what do you think the reason was?

11:10 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

First, I think shouldn't say Christ's sacrifice is explained by the OT sacrifices. Rather, Christ's sacrifice explains the true meaning that God was getting at with the OT sacrifices. I believe those sacrifices were significant and important ONLY in how they pre-figured (and possibly participated in) the sacrifice of Christ. God never forgave merely because of the sacrifice of a sheep.

Regarding Original Sin, yes, it is found in Orthodoxy. But, like many concepts, it does not mean the same thing. Original Sin as I was taught as a child meant kind of a cosmic strike against us, debt and guilt passed down from Adam so that, even if I had lived a perfect life, I would have still needed Christ to pay for my sins.

Original Sin as I understand the Orthodox version is just the effects passed down. In the same way that I can screw Josiah up if I'm a cheating, drug-using, low-life; so Adam started a chain reaction which still affects us today. In addition, although we don't inherit the guilt or debt of Adam, we do inherit death, the curse of his sin.

If I had fornicated and, because my loose lifestyle, contracted HIV; I would have both the guilt/debt and the penalty of my sin. If I had a child after that and he inherited my HIV, then he would have inherited my penalty through no fault of his own, but would be innocent of the sin itself. This is a significant difference in understanding.


9:05 AM  
Blogger fra edwin said...

"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one." Romans 3:10.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." Romans 5:12.

7:23 AM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

What about Jesus? What about Mary?

Note the scripture:
- By one man sin entered.
- By sin, death entered.
- Death passed to all men.
- For that, all have sinned.

The only part of this I don't understand is the last part. Sin entered through Adam, agreed. Death entered because of sin, agreed. Death (the curse) passed to all men through Adam, agreed. The guilt of sin passed to all men? I don't get it, nor do I see that supported by the last part.

Maybe it means that, because of the fear of death, all men have sinned. Maybe it means that, no matter whether they sinned or not, they still suffer the curse of death. Regardless, the death of Christ does three things:
1. End the curse of death
2. Cleanse us of our sins
3. Heal us

It does NOT cleanse us of the sin of Adam. That was his own.

8:58 AM  

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