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.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Final Parry and New Topic

If you aren't Orthodox, then argue from your own position.
Fair enough. My position is close to that of the Anglicans. They have a three-legged approach which includes Scripture, Tradition and Reason. I, with the Orthodox, place Scripture in the context of Tradition, but I can't divorce my own reason from the equation. However, I don't place my Reason on par with Tradition although it was Reason (and, I hope, the Holy Spirit) which led me to submit, for the most part, to Tradition.
The problem with that argument is that the writings of the church Fathers are open to interpretation themselves.
Good point. When I say Tradition, I'm not talking about this or that Father of the Church. I'm talking about them all together, the councils usually. Even Scripture occasionally seems to contradict itself (as in the writings of St. Paul and St. James on works and faith). The key is to take them as a unified whole, not as separate voices.

I don't know if we've arrived at a middle ground. I think these two viewpoints are mutually exclusive. I remember, though, reading an article by a Roman Catholic regarding Ecumenical discussions. He said that, invariably, the first issue to come up is what we've been discussing. The root issue, he said is the fidelity of God in transmitting Truth to His people. Evangelicals believe it is done through Scripture, the RCC through Scripture interpreted ex cathedra by the Holy Father and the Orthodox through Holy Tradition. Ultimately, though, we can agree that God has things He means for us to Know.

Mooooooving on......what do you want to do next? Genesis and Original Sin? Mary and Saints? Whether or not God hates figs?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You wrote:
The root issue, he said is the fidelity of God in transmitting Truth to His people... the RCC through Scripture interpreted ex cathedra by the Holy Father...

Edwin replies:
Your statement is not correct. The Holy Father is neither sole interpreter nor autocrat. He speaks as head of the Roman Catholic Church, and as such he is not free to speak his own musings as dogma.

The teaching authority of the Church, the Magisterium, is the authority on scriptural interpretation. The Holy Father, may speak for the Magisterium which is made up of many, but he is not the Magisterium.


1:33 AM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

Again, it is simplistic, but not incorrect either. All the traditions look for that Source, that infallible fount, which they can trust. Fr. A, for instance, has an unhealthy adherence to the liturgy and prayers of the Orthodox churches. And, in much the same way that Protestants look to the Bible, Catholics look to the Pope. It's not that the Bible, or the Pope is the ONLY source of inspiration and truth, just that it is the ultimate and uncontested one.

7:49 AM  
Blogger Hajiburton said...

Some lexicographical trivia for anyone who is stymied by the above.

ex cathedra - latin, lit. "from the chair." The "chair" in question is that of the bishop in a "cathedral," (called so because the bishop's seat was located there), which makes a nod back to the ancient church, where the people stood, and the bishop sat down to teach, in the ancient mediterranean fashion. The "chair," then, is a place of authority- the center of the community, informed by the Scriptures, from which the one who is most qualified delivers the message all believe.

A little more topically...
Of course we all have our epistemological terminus, ultimately based on our trust in the faithfulness of God. I find Fr. A's dependence on liturgy particularly interesting, since Pelikan's excellent book CREDO recently pointed out to me that, in the history of the church, "lex orandi" (the law of prayer) has often preceeded "lex credendi," (the law of faith,) and that often change in the lex credendi has been preceeded by long tradition in the lex orandi. A prominent example (and, from my view, a negative one), would be the gradual elevation of Mary culminating in the Immaculate Conception and Assumption. A positive example might be the disentangling of the veneration of images from idolatry which took place at the final ecumenical council.

Sir R.F.Burton

5:17 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

I've heard Orthodox Christians say, "As you pray, so you believe." Although, as I understood it, they weren't saying that prayer led to faith, but that if you pray a certain way, eventually, you'll believe it. If you keep saying the Creed, then you'll eventually believe it. Incidentally, that's a strong argument against "under God" in the pledge.

I also heard, mostly from Fr. A (who is from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia) that because the prayers are part of the liturgy, and the liturgy is part of Tradition, that they can be trusted as well. That is a bit bothersome for me, for there are some prayers which make me downright uncomfortable (like the blessing of weapons).

I balk at your proposition that the devotion to Mary was gradually elevated over time. There is a prayer to her (Sub Tuum) from the 3rd c. (approx. 200 years after Christ's death):

We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God;
Despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers,
O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

As this was written (and, thus, in use) well before the Canon of Scripture was codified, and as those same groups also spoke of Mary in the same terms and their liturgies had highly developed devotional text to her, I think it is safe to assume that Marian devotion probably started soon after her death and followed the same path as devotion to martyrs.

That is a serious run-on sentence.

I will concede that, in some corners of the Church, Marian devotion has become disconcerting. But devotion to her is generally pleasing to God, I think.


7:37 PM  

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