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Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 17 May 2010, 16:56

Nerd42 wrote:I'm not trying to make Chesterton Protestant, but Lewis, I think, was much more effective precisely because he tried his best to indulge in controversies within Christian thought as little as possible. In a book that focused on why the Catholics are right and the Protestants are wrong, making the kind of statements Chesterton makes about Catholicism would be quite appropriate, but I think they were inappropriate here.

I think Lewis's image of a hall with many rooms was quite right, especially since he asks people not to find the one that suits them best, but the one with the doctrines that are true. If the Anglican position was correct, he trusted that the holy spirit would lead people to the Anglican position in their own studies Chesterton, on the other hand, uses his Catholicism as a club to beat Protestants over the head in a book that's supposed to be about what's unique to Christianity, not what makes the Catholic version of Christianity correct and the Protestant version incorrect.

The Bible says that for every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. My point is that his venturing into these controversial waters was inappropriately timed, that's all.


If you define effective as "getting a lot of people to agree with him", then of course. But "effective" only means "at what they are trying to do". And I would say that Lewis was not so terribly successful at what he was really trying to do - reach unbelievers. He did wind up reaching millions of believers or people inclined to belief. But I think the number of people inclined to not believe that he reached for faith is actually much smaller.

And the central problem of the policy of "Mere Christianity" - as policy - is that Lewis effectively does away with the Church - he thinks that the believer can find Christ without the Church - and that the Church is unimportant.

I imagine you would think any statement that tended to invalidate the faith you embrace as "inappropriate" - but "appropriate" means nothing; the real question is "Is it true or not?", and if it is, then the time doesn't matter. Eternal truths, if true, are always true and never inappropriate.

On "beating with a club" - Chesterton sees the Church as inextricable from Christ; as something that cannot be treated the way Lewis does treat it. Thus, Chesterton is likely to be a lot less popular with you.He sees Christianity without the Church as not really Christianity, but an unreasonable facsimile.

(I have the advantage of not needing to defend the Catholic Church - which i see as in the wrong. But I do sympathize a lot with it.)
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby JDMalament » 17 May 2010, 18:33

I feel as though I may be intruding on this discussion, but I believe that Lewis would have taken issue with some of the statements made in rusmeister's last post.
rusmeister wrote:If you define effective as "getting a lot of people to agree with him", then of course. But "effective" only means "at what they are trying to do". And I would say that Lewis was not so terribly successful at what he was really trying to do - reach unbelievers. He did wind up reaching millions of believers or people inclined to belief. But I think the number of people inclined to not believe that he reached for faith is actually much smaller.

- This is simply guesswork. I'm not aware of any evidence that would support this claim.
rusmeister wrote:And the central problem of the policy of "Mere Christianity" - as policy - is that Lewis effectively does away with the Church - he thinks that the believer can find Christ without the Church - and that the Church is unimportant.

- Lewis's response to this accusation might be best stated in one of his letters:
C.S. Lewis wrote:". . . the New Testament does not envisage solitary religion: some kind of regular assembly for worship and instruction is everywhere taken for granted in the Epistles. So we must be regular practising members of the Church. Of course we differ in temperament. Some (like you — and me) find it more natural to approach God in solitude: but we must go to church as well. For the Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, contemplating and helping one another precisely by their differences." - The Letters of C.S. Lewis, Revised and Enlarged Edition, Letter to "Mrs. Arnold," Dated 7 December 1950 (Emphasis Mine)

Additionally, Lewis also states in Mere Christianity that:
C.S. Lewis wrote:"People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity. But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important." - Mere Christianity, Book IV: Chapter 7, "Let's Pretend"

So, while Lewis believes that other things can, unknowingly, influence someone towards the direction of Christianity, he certainly does not think the the Church is unimportant.

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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Nerd42 » 18 May 2010, 02:47

rusmeister wrote:And the central problem of the policy of "Mere Christianity" - as policy - is that Lewis effectively does away with the Church - he thinks that the believer can find Christ without the Church - and that the Church is unimportant
JDMalament wrote:I feel as though I may be intruding on this discussion, but I believe that Lewis would have taken issue with some of the statements made in rusmeister's last post.
No, you're not intruding thanks for coming to the rescue and saving me from having to comb through Mere Christianity to show what it actually says.

rusmeister wrote:I imagine you would think any statement that tended to invalidate the faith you embrace as "inappropriate" -
That is a state of affairs that exists solely in your imagination, because it would take alot of imagination to get that position out of my statement that, "In a book that focused on why the Catholics are right and the Protestants are wrong, making the kind of statements Chesterton makes about Catholicism would be quite appropriate" That's what I said and I meant it so I don't appreciate this comment that groundlessly questions my honesty.

rusmeister wrote:but "appropriate" means nothing; the real question is "Is it true or not?", and if it is, then the time doesn't matter. Eternal truths, if true, are always true and never inappropriate.
You're right that something if true it's always true, but not that it's always appropriate to assert your particular view on any given subject in any situattion. For example, I may think you're an idiot, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate for me to share the fact that I think that with you at all times. (I don't really think that, it's an example)

rusmeister wrote:On "beating with a club" - Chesterton sees the Church as inextricable from Christ; as something that cannot be treated the way Lewis does treat it.
If I remember right, Chesterton said that "Christianity" can really only be judged against Confucianism. If he means Roman Catholicism can only be judged against Confucianism but cannot be judged against Protestantism, this seems absurd. The Protestants may be heretics from his point of view, but surely they are more on the right track than the Confucians?

rusmeister wrote:Thus, Chesterton is likely to be a lot less popular with you.He sees Christianity without the Church as not really Christianity, but van unreasonable facsimile (I have the advantage of not needing to defend the Catholic Church - which i see as in the wrong. But I do sympathize a lot with it.)
I agree with Lewis's position that Christianity is a doctrinal belief system and does not necessarily relate to a person's salvation or spiritual condition and that if you try to redefine "Christian" to mean something else, it becomes a useless word. In this case, we already have the word, "Catholic."

As for myself, I'm a Latter Day Saint so I'm in a third category, neither Catholic nor Protestant.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 18 May 2010, 04:00

JDMalament wrote:I feel as though I may be intruding on this discussion, but I believe that Lewis would have taken issue with some of the statements made in rusmeister's last post.
rusmeister wrote:If you define effective as "getting a lot of people to agree with him", then of course. But "effective" only means "at what they are trying to do". And I would say that Lewis was not so terribly successful at what he was really trying to do - reach unbelievers. He did wind up reaching millions of believers or people inclined to belief. But I think the number of people inclined to not believe that he reached for faith is actually much smaller.

- This is simply guesswork. I'm not aware of any evidence that would support this claim.
rusmeister wrote:And the central problem of the policy of "Mere Christianity" - as policy - is that Lewis effectively does away with the Church - he thinks that the believer can find Christ without the Church - and that the Church is unimportant.

- Lewis's response to this accusation might be best stated in one of his letters:
C.S. Lewis wrote:". . . the New Testament does not envisage solitary religion: some kind of regular assembly for worship and instruction is everywhere taken for granted in the Epistles. So we must be regular practising members of the Church. Of course we differ in temperament. Some (like you — and me) find it more natural to approach God in solitude: but we must go to church as well. For the Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, contemplating and helping one another precisely by their differences." - The Letters of C.S. Lewis, Revised and Enlarged Edition, Letter to "Mrs. Arnold," Dated 7 December 1950 (Emphasis Mine)

Additionally, Lewis also states in Mere Christianity that:
C.S. Lewis wrote:"People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity. But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. That is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important." - Mere Christianity, Book IV: Chapter 7, "Let's Pretend"

So, while Lewis believes that other things can, unknowingly, influence someone towards the direction of Christianity, he certainly does not think the the Church is unimportant.

- Jared

Thanks, Jared.
Yes, you're right that I do not have statistics to prove my first statement, which I'll admit is a rather solid impression, based heavily on the facts that 1) I know very few people who were brought to faith by reason, and 2) that all the people I know who admire Lewis are already in the Christian camp (see #1)

Those comments of Lewis's provide no exposition beyond saying that it is important that Christians not be part of something that is merely local, and that people usually need other people to bring them to faith. From that you can infer that people should not be worshiping God on their own. But it is hardly an exposition on the importance of the Church. Lewis basically says, in effect, that any ol' church will do and that the differences don't matter. THAT is what I mean by "unimportant".
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 18 May 2010, 05:01

Nerd42 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:And the central problem of the policy of "Mere Christianity" - as policy - is that Lewis effectively does away with the Church - he thinks that the believer can find Christ without the Church - and that the Church is unimportant
JDMalament wrote:I feel as though I may be intruding on this discussion, but I believe that Lewis would have taken issue with some of the statements made in rusmeister's last post.
No, you're not intruding thanks for coming to the rescue and saving me from having to comb through Mere Christianity to show what it actually says.

rusmeister wrote:I imagine you would think any statement that tended to invalidate the faith you embrace as "inappropriate" -
That is a state of affairs that exists solely in your imagination, because it would take alot of imagination to get that position out of my statement that, "In a book that focused on why the Catholics are right and the Protestants are wrong, making the kind of statements Chesterton makes about Catholicism would be quite appropriate" That's what I said and I meant it so I don't appreciate this comment that groundlessly questions my honesty.

rusmeister wrote:but "appropriate" means nothing; the real question is "Is it true or not?", and if it is, then the time doesn't matter. Eternal truths, if true, are always true and never inappropriate.
You're right that something if true it's always true, but not that it's always appropriate to assert your particular view on any given subject in any situattion. For example, I may think you're an idiot, but that doesn't mean it's appropriate for me to share the fact that I think that with you at all times. (I don't really think that, it's an example)

rusmeister wrote:On "beating with a club" - Chesterton sees the Church as inextricable from Christ; as something that cannot be treated the way Lewis does treat it.
If I remember right, Chesterton said that "Christianity" can really only be judged against Confucianism. If he means Roman Catholicism can only be judged against Confucianism but cannot be judged against Protestantism, this seems absurd. The Protestants may be heretics from his point of view, but surely they are more on the right track than the Confucians?

rusmeister wrote:Thus, Chesterton is likely to be a lot less popular with you.He sees Christianity without the Church as not really Christianity, but an unreasonable facsimile (I have the advantage of not needing to defend the Catholic Church - which i see as in the wrong. But I do sympathize a lot with it.)
I agree with Lewis's position that Christianity is a doctrinal belief system and does not necessarily relate to a person's salvation or spiritual condition and that if you try to redefine "Christian" to mean something else, it becomes a useless word. In this case, we already have the word, "Catholic."

As for myself, I'm a Latter Day Saint so I'm in a third category, neither Catholic nor Protestant.


On the first, you're right - I did express myself wrongly, and I apologize for coming across in an insulting way.

(I'd like to distinguish between insult - ad hominem - and disagreeing about truth and insisting that one position or another is the actual case in fact.)

What I meant was that you would take objection to ideas that would invalidate your faith, and wanted to question the use of the word "appropriate", something based on a measuring stick of what is proper, which is quite debatable - we won't necessarily agree on what is appropriate because we disagree on what is proper and right from the outset.

On Confucianism, you are probably referring to TEM - which you did read - and he does not say that Christianity can only be judged against Confucianism. What he said was that the western man, raised in what was once Christendom, ought to judge Christianity as impartially as he would judge Confucianism. So your questions on that are non-sequitur.

Mormonism is not Protestantism in the sense that it did not develop as a protest. But it was something that could only appear in a Protestant environment, where people had rejected the idea of the single Authority of a single Church and had accepted the idea that any man could appear with revelation and lead people down a radically different path than had been pursued throughout history. (My mother became Mormon for a few years, so I perforce learned something about it.)

Of course, neither of us are Catholic or Protestant. But one of us accepts the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds which define what the Christian has always been for 2,000 years, while one of us does not, and the fact that a small minority wishes to change the historical definition does not in fact change it. It is when you eliminate the Creeds that the word "Christian" ceases to mean anything - or more accurately, can mean anything that the speaker wishes it to mean; it ceases to be a clear and objective understanding. (Please note that is NOT ad hominem, but something that we are not likely to come to any agreement on!)

Perhaps slightly more fruitful would be the discussion around Chesterton's TEM and what the Church was historically - and where the historical record is, and Lewis's view on the Church and its operation in the world. But as long as people hold dogmas - doctrines - teachings - to be true, and come to definite conclusions, it is unlikely that we could do anything other but "agree to disagree" - something that does nothing to resolve truth, but is vital for the survival of the pluralist state (or site) as such. So much the worse for the truth.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby JDMalament » 18 May 2010, 23:11

rusmeister wrote:Yes, you're right that I do not have statistics to prove my first statement, which I'll admit is a rather solid impression, based heavily on the facts that 1) I know very few people who were brought to faith by reason, and 2) that all the people I know who admire Lewis are already in the Christian camp (see #1)

All human experience is limited to the times and places that we live in. We can only encounter so much in our given lifespans. Basing this assumption on the statements from "people you know" might not be the best foundation for this kind of proposal. As for finding people who were brought to faith by reason, I'd recommend visiting just about any college or university.
rusmeister wrote:Those comments of Lewis's provide no exposition beyond saying that it is important that Christians not be part of something that is merely local, and that people usually need other people to bring them to faith. From that you can infer that people should not be worshiping God on their own. But it is hardly an exposition on the importance of the Church. Lewis basically says, in effect, that any ol' church will do and that the differences don't matter. THAT is what I mean by "unimportant".

I think that Lewis is, in effect, saying that Church IS important, while one particular denomination is not. Choosing a Church that, at the very least, teaches the basics of Christianity is what matters. For my own part, I would say that you would be pretty hard pressed to find a "perfect" Church, that has human beings attending it. That was the impression that I got from the Pauline epistles, anyway.

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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Nerd42 » 18 May 2010, 23:24

rusmeister wrote:On the first, you're right - I did express myself wrongly, and I apologize for coming across in an insulting way.

(I'd like to distinguish between insult - ad hominem - and disagreeing about truth and insisting that one position or another is the actual case in fact.)

What I meant was that you would take objection to ideas that would invalidate your faith, and wanted to question the use of the word "appropriate", something based on a measuring stick of what is proper, which is quite debatable - we won't necessarily agree on what is appropriate because we disagree on what is proper and right from the outset.

On Confucianism, you are probably referring to TEM - which you did read - and he does not say that Christianity can only be judged against Confucianism. What he said was that the western man, raised in what was once Christendom, ought to judge Christianity as impartially as he would judge Confucianism. So your questions on that are non-sequitur.
Oh, I guess I misunderstood what Chesterton was saying there. But yeah, my use of the word "appropriate" was not meant to relate to what Chesterton thought but only to how he expressed it and in what order.

rusmeister wrote:Mormonism is not Protestantism in the sense that it did not develop as a protest. But it was something that could only appear in a Protestant environment, where people had rejected the idea of the single Authority of a single Church and had accepted the idea that any man could appear with revelation and lead people down a radically different path than had been pursued throughout history. (My mother became Mormon for a few years, so I perforce learned something about it.)
You're right that the Restoration movement would not exist if it hadn't been for the Protestant Reformation, as it's based on finding an answer to the question "which church should I join?" and that question would not have arisen if there weren't many different churches. But it does claim to be a restoration of apostolic authority and succession, making the church something concrete and real again. It rejects the Protestant idea that the church is a formless generality.

rusmeister wrote:Of course, neither of us are Catholic or Protestant. But one of us accepts the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds which define what the Christian has always been for 2,000 years, while one of us does not,
Actually, I'm RLDS. The LDS don't accept the Nicene and Apostolic creeds, while the RLDS do. Or at least we do as far as I can understand those creeds.

rusmeister wrote:and the fact that a small minority wishes to change the historical definition does not in fact change it. It is when you eliminate the Creeds that the word "Christian" ceases to mean anything - or more accurately, can mean anything that the speaker wishes it to mean; it ceases to be a clear and objective understanding. (Please note that is NOT ad hominem, but something that we are not likely to come to any agreement on!)
You're right / I agree. I don't think the LDS church is really a Christian church either, though there are many Christians who are members of it and just don't buy into everything it teaches.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 19 May 2010, 02:30

Nerd42 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:On the first, you're right - I did express myself wrongly, and I apologize for coming across in an insulting way.

(I'd like to distinguish between insult - ad hominem - and disagreeing about truth and insisting that one position or another is the actual case in fact.)

What I meant was that you would take objection to ideas that would invalidate your faith, and wanted to question the use of the word "appropriate", something based on a measuring stick of what is proper, which is quite debatable - we won't necessarily agree on what is appropriate because we disagree on what is proper and right from the outset.

On Confucianism, you are probably referring to TEM - which you did read - and he does not say that Christianity can only be judged against Confucianism. What he said was that the western man, raised in what was once Christendom, ought to judge Christianity as impartially as he would judge Confucianism. So your questions on that are non-sequitur.
Oh, I guess I misunderstood what Chesterton was saying there. But yeah, my use of the word "appropriate" was not meant to relate to what Chesterton thought but only to how he expressed it and in what order.

rusmeister wrote:Mormonism is not Protestantism in the sense that it did not develop as a protest. But it was something that could only appear in a Protestant environment, where people had rejected the idea of the single Authority of a single Church and had accepted the idea that any man could appear with revelation and lead people down a radically different path than had been pursued throughout history. (My mother became Mormon for a few years, so I perforce learned something about it.)
You're right that the Restoration movement would not exist if it hadn't been for the Protestant Reformation, as it's based on finding an answer to the question "which church should I join?" and that question would not have arisen if there weren't many different churches. But it does claim to be a restoration of apostolic authority and succession, making the church something concrete and real again. It rejects the Protestant idea that the church is a formless generality.

rusmeister wrote:Of course, neither of us are Catholic or Protestant. But one of us accepts the Nicene and Apostolic Creeds which define what the Christian has always been for 2,000 years, while one of us does not,
Actually, I'm RLDS. The LDS don't accept the Nicene and Apostolic creeds, while the RLDS do. Or at least we do as far as I can understand those creeds.

rusmeister wrote:and the fact that a small minority wishes to change the historical definition does not in fact change it. It is when you eliminate the Creeds that the word "Christian" ceases to mean anything - or more accurately, can mean anything that the speaker wishes it to mean; it ceases to be a clear and objective understanding. (Please note that is NOT ad hominem, but something that we are not likely to come to any agreement on!)
You're right / I agree. I don't think the LDS church is really a Christian church either, though there are many Christians who are members of it and just don't buy into everything it teaches.

Thanks!
(RLDS is a new wrinkle for me. Heck, you learn something new every day!)

I do agree on the question of "which Church should I join?" The answer, to me, is: "Where has that Church been for the last 2,000 years?" All western histories trace back to the Reformation, and either say that it is the RCC, or point to the RCC as something gone wrong, or say it never was the Church and the REAL Church was "somewhere else" (lacking, of course, any serious historical backing whatsoever).
The answer to THAT is that the Church must have a) continuously existed and b) could not have existed without history.
That knocks the last group out of the running right away; they must be making up whatever they teach (based on their own interpretation of Scripture, limited by their own knowledge and cultural understandings, via interpretation, of what they read). I had the idea I was raised with of being able to read Scripture on your own and determine doctrine from it knocked out of me over 20 years of wandering the planet and learning foreign languages and cultures. i came to see that no understanding of a translation of something as immense and varied as the Bible could possibly be understood without a large body of tradition behind it and explaining it. Plus, this tradition would have to have been continuously developed and taught for the entire existence of Christianity.

The second group is almost as quickly knocked out. If the RCC went wrong, WHEN did it go wrong? According to most of them, it would have had to go wrong before the first ecumenical council, or at the most, after the seventh. That still leaves you 800 years shy of the Reformation with no history. Only high Anglicans and the most traditional Lutherans still hold even a dubious base at that point, although they have their arguments.

Finally, the huge elephant left out of all calculations is the continuous existence of the Eastern half of what was the Christian Church, centered in Constantinople. Most histories look to Rome as the whole hog, and miss the part it broke off from in the 11th century - and it seems that Rome followed a general policy of discouraging the very awareness of that Church from the public mind. This is where the ignorance of Chesterton and Belloc - who I greatly admire - shines through.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Nerd42 » 19 May 2010, 16:55

When did it go wrong? We think in 570 AD. But there was history during the apostasy. Martin Luther is part of that history, but so is Thomas Aquinas. We think there was another apostasy period from 1844-1860 but the history of the church didn't stop during that time either.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 20 May 2010, 03:25

Nerd42 wrote:When did it go wrong? We think in 570 AD. But there was history during the apostasy. Martin Luther is part of that history, but so is Thomas Aquinas. We think there was another apostasy period from 1844-1860 but the history of the church didn't stop during that time either.

Thanks!
The thing that doesn't work for me is that you have to say that the Church (which I can only accept as a historically traceable thing - if there's no history then then history is made-up/imagined) either:
1) ceased to exist until point 'x',
2) continued to exist, as the Church, but had problems that required the Reformation - which means that it was leading people into all falsehood for over 1,000 years - a fundamental self-contradiction of the nature of the Church, as if the Holy Spirit had 'taken a vacation' ranging from 1,000-1,500 years, or
3) existed, but was not the organized Church with centers in Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria - which winds up resorting to imaginary history, or simply no history at all. (Such approaches point to the relatively rare and erratic appearance of what the organized Church called heresies, such as the Albigensians, as "the true Church", but a few events hardly constitutes a traceable history.

For me the inability to clearly trace the history in a coherent and consistent manner is fatal to any argument. The only Churches that do not have this problem are the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. They disagree with each other as to which one was the schismatic one, but at least they can show me the history.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Nerd42 » 20 May 2010, 16:09

rusmeister wrote:Thanks!
The thing that doesn't work for me is that you have to say that the Church (which I can only accept as a historically traceable thing - if there's no history then then history is made-up/imagined) either:
1) ceased to exist until point 'x',
2) continued to exist, as the Church, but had problems that required the Reformation - which means that it was leading people into all falsehood for over 1,000 years - a fundamental self-contradiction of the nature of the Church, as if the Holy Spirit had 'taken a vacation' ranging from 1,000-1,500 years, or
1,260 years. And I think we disagree about the nature of the Church as I don't see it as synonymous with the holy spirit. Nor do I believe tradition properly interprets scripture. Both Christ and Paul warned against "the traditions of men."
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Theophilus » 20 May 2010, 16:21

rusmeister wrote:For me the inability to clearly trace the history in a coherent and consistent manner is fatal to any argument. The only Churches that do not have this problem are the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. They disagree with each other as to which one was the schismatic one, but at least they can show me the history.
History shows that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches have been in existence since apostolic times but doesn't it also show that both have experienced changes in their doctrines and practices during that time? So the mere fact that they have been in existence doesn't necessarily prove that they are still true churches.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 21 May 2010, 04:11

Nerd42 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:Thanks!
The thing that doesn't work for me is that you have to say that the Church (which I can only accept as a historically traceable thing - if there's no history then then history is made-up/imagined) either:
1) ceased to exist until point 'x',
2) continued to exist, as the Church, but had problems that required the Reformation - which means that it was leading people into all falsehood for over 1,000 years - a fundamental self-contradiction of the nature of the Church, as if the Holy Spirit had 'taken a vacation' ranging from 1,000-1,500 years, or


1,260 years. And I think we disagree about the nature of the Church as I don't see it as synonymous with the holy spirit. Nor do I believe tradition properly interprets scripture. Both Christ and Paul warned against "the traditions of men."


But we are also enjoined to keep those traditions which were passed on to us, both orally and written, and that are NOT of men. (2 Thess 2:15)

And I did not say that the Holy Spirit equals the Church, but the Church cannot function/does not exist without It.

Theophilus wrote:
rusmeister wrote:For me the inability to clearly trace the history in a coherent and consistent manner is fatal to any argument. The only Churches that do not have this problem are the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. They disagree with each other as to which one was the schismatic one, but at least they can show me the history.
History shows that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches have been in existence since apostolic times but doesn't it also show that both have experienced changes in their doctrines and practices during that time? So the mere fact that they have been in existence doesn't necessarily prove that they are still true churches.


But I don't claim the fact of mere existence as the proof. I say that the lack of any history is the thing that makes faiths that don't have it mere facsimilies of the Church - and largely ones free to understand whatever they choose out of the Bible - and they are hopelessly divided as a result.

As to changes - you need to distinguish between change and development - for example, if no one questioned that Jesus is the Son of God or that He is not merely a created being, you wouldn't need a dogma stating that He is the Son of God or a Creed stating exactly what the faith is. Those are developments, the early Church by and large lived without them, but they are not changes. Confession was before the whole church; the change to private confession before the priest alone was necessitated by the expansion of nominalism after the legalizing of the faith. A change - but not a change of doctrine; only a change of practice. There were deaconnesses and reasons why they were instituted - but the practice died out a thousand years ago and there has been no theological reason to restore them - but again, such things are not changes of belief. Doctrine has not changed. It has clarified as various heresies (read "fatal errors that could reduce the Church to a thing merely of men") arose and had to be put down. As an Orthodox Christian, I'm not going to vouch that for the Church of Rome post-schism or for Churches that grew or developed or broke off (the same thing) from it, so bringing examples of Roman change won't touch my argument. My position that there really is a physically present Church that really has preserved and passed down what has been taught from the beginning still holds water (and resolves/explains the conflicts and contradictions of Catholicism vs Protestantism, btw).
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby Theophilus » 21 May 2010, 16:11

rusmeister wrote:My position that there really is a physically present Church that really has preserved and passed down what has been taught from the beginning still holds water (and resolves/explains the conflicts and contradictions of Catholicism vs Protestantism, btw).
I agree that there is such a church but my point was that it can't be identified with any visible religious organization such as the Catholic or Orthodox churches. There are two kinds of church mentioned in the New Testament. There is a church which is called the body of Christ and of which every true believer is a member and there are local congregations of Christians. Here is a good explanation of the difference between them:
The Christian church can be seen in two ways: the visible and the invisible. The visible church is comprised of all who claim the name of Christian and who gather together for worship and participation of the sacraments: the Lord's Supper and Baptism. The members of the visible church claim the name of Christian (excluding the cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.). The visible church contains both believers and non-believers; that is, there are people in the visible church who are not really saved.
The members of the invisible Church are the actual body of believers. They are the ones who are truly regenerate and have trusted, by faith, in the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The true Christian is indwelt by the Lord Jesus (John 14:23) through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Christian church is figuratively said to be the body of Christ

You can read more about this here:
http://www.carm.org/church
A local church can start out following Christ but then drift away into false teaching. Sometimes leaders in that church will try to bring it back into line with the truth but sometimes that is impossible and it is necessary to withdraw from it and start a organization. That is what happened when Martin Luther's attempts to restore Biblical teaching to the Catholic church were rejected.
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Re: Lewis' thoughts on other major religions?

Postby rusmeister » 21 May 2010, 17:57

Theophilus wrote:
rusmeister wrote:My position that there really is a physically present Church that really has preserved and passed down what has been taught from the beginning still holds water (and resolves/explains the conflicts and contradictions of Catholicism vs Protestantism, btw).
I agree that there is such a church but my point was that it can't be identified with any visible religious organization such as the Catholic or Orthodox churches. There are two kinds of church mentioned in the New Testament. There is a church which is called the body of Christ and of which every true believer is a member and there are local congregations of Christians. Here is a good explanation of the difference between them:
The Christian church can be seen in two ways: the visible and the invisible. The visible church is comprised of all who claim the name of Christian and who gather together for worship and participation of the sacraments: the Lord's Supper and Baptism. The members of the visible church claim the name of Christian (excluding the cults like the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses, etc.). The visible church contains both believers and non-believers; that is, there are people in the visible church who are not really saved.
The members of the invisible Church are the actual body of believers. They are the ones who are truly regenerate and have trusted, by faith, in the true Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The true Christian is indwelt by the Lord Jesus (John 14:23) through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Christian church is figuratively said to be the body of Christ

You can read more about this here:
http://www.carm.org/church
A local church can start out following Christ but then drift away into false teaching. Sometimes leaders in that church will try to bring it back into line with the truth but sometimes that is impossible and it is necessary to withdraw from it and start a organization. That is what happened when Martin Luther's attempts to restore Biblical teaching to the Catholic church were rejected.

Thanks, Theo,
I said, of course a Church that is physically present. And I mean one that IS identified with organization, for the reasons I outlined above. Organization has always characterized the Church.
It has been said that to truly study Church history is to become Orthodox.
The critical difference between us is that I do not believe that I am capable of making theological decisions on my own knowledge and understanding of the scale that you are proposing, to so define that which is described in Scripture. I also know that the early Church got along by and large without Scripture, the only thing that many of you claim dependence on, and that there was a definite organization that determined the table of contents of what you accept as Scripture.

I agree with what you say about false teaching. The difference comes when we speak about who defines false teaching and what exactly we should do if we actually CAN define it. I, with my less than fifty - and far less than a thousand years of personal existence - cannot possibly establish a theology that is correct and not only precisely mirrors that of the original Church, but IS part of the Church.

I don't think I can convince you of anything. I can only say that I became firmly convinced of the sheer impossibility of Sola Scriptura, not as an Orthodox Christian, but as an agnostic world traveler who spent twenty years studying foreign languages and cultures and the specific problems of language and translation. If Sola Scriptura is impossible, then so is a purely ephemeral Church that is "out there" but has no actual effect on our daily lives, and above all on our faith and how we practice it and even determine what it is.
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