This forum was closed on October 1st, 2010. However, the archives are open to the public and filled with vast amounts of good reading and information for you to enjoy. If you wish to meet some Wardrobians, please visit the Into the Wardrobe Facebook group.

Not relying on anything but God's Word

Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 17 Feb 2009, 23:30

Over in the non-debating forum, Michael posted this about why he likes his Church:

Michael wrote:I like that our church is a Bible-based church that does not rely on anything but God's word: truth and love.


I'm so glad to hear this! That means, then, that you would definitely agree with Catholics that the Communion bread and wine are literally flesh and blood of Christ, since God's word has Jesus saying that the bread is his body and the wine his blood, and also says elsewhere, unequivocably and with emphasis, over and over, that whoever does not eat his flesh or drink his blood has not life in him (even to the point of causing the Jews to ask "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and answering, NOT something like "oh you misunderstand me -- I was talking figuratively", but instead says "my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed").

Well, there are also lots of other things I would be glad to find out that you completely agree with Catholics about, but perhaps you can see the intended irony in my comments above. What I am suggesting in a round-about way is that what you actually like about your church is that it relys not only on God's word -- but ALSO your own personal (or your pastor's) interpretation of the Bible.

For that second part is critical to your appreciation of your church -- otherwise, all the disagreements among the many thousands of self-professed "Bible-believing" denominations and churches don't make sense. Some of those very churches that say they rely on nothing but God's word must be wrong if they disagree with the other churches that say instead that THEY rely on nothing but God's word.

Someone must be wrong, and who is to decide between them if they both insist that they are relying only on God's word? "Well, the Holy Spirit guides US into all Truth", I suppose one of them might say. But then all the others also insist that THEY are being led by the Holy Spirit too. So we're back to where we started. Perhaps the Holy Spirit intended there to be a better way to discover that Truth than using each person's individual, varying, and personal interpretation of what God's word means? (Hint: Catholics suggest that Scripture itself points insistantly and continually -- and even outrageously if one reads it without false scruples -- to the authority of the Church as the means by which the Holy Spirit unfailingly imparts that knowledge to us.)

(Not sure, but I think Dan has said somewhere that he doesn't come to this forum now -- is that right? But if he is reading this, I'm sure he's thinking something like "uh oh, here we go again." That's ok though -- it's been a while since the last time, and a comment like the one above simply screams out to the Catholic to challenge its logic)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Lioba » 18 Feb 2009, 06:47

Stanley in my eyes you mix two questions:
On what basics does my belief rely?
How do I understand and interpret them?
The good old protestant answer to the first question is Sola Scriptura. Every addtional source of wisdom is to be measured on scripture. Regarding the traditions of the church this means that everything important should be build on this fundament.
So in this first Michaels denomination is far from being extremely individualistic or elusive.
The question of interpretation is the next question. It is no good to mix them.
So your attack on Michael is not only unnessecarily harsh but the argument isn´t really consistent.
Why protestants have come to so diverging interpretations is still an important questions and that´s a week point. But I can say that in Europe the Situation was clearly different from the States. The protestant Churches were either lutheran or calvinistic. The groups who do not practise childbaptisme were and still are generally calvinistic and a minority .The two branches of the church in Germany were politically forced to unite. This together with the development of liberal theology weekend the position of mainstream protestantisme and led to the streghtening of smaller denominations.But until the last half of the last century people held strongly to the concept of the church and not many little churches and denominations and the most criticisme against this ideal of consistency and visible unity always came from the USA and all Americans I know use the totally wrong term of "State church" as an open insult to the great churches in germany, catholic and protestant.
Iustitia est ad alterum.
User avatar
Lioba
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 303
Joined: Oct 2007

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Bluegoat » 18 Feb 2009, 12:23

Lioba wrote:Stanley in my eyes you mix two questions:
On what basics does my belief rely?
How do I understand and interpret them?
The good old protestant answer to the first question is Sola Scriptura. Every addtional source of wisdom is to be measured on scripture. Regarding the traditions of the church this means that everything important should be build on this fundament.
So in this first Michaels denomination is far from being extremely individualistic or elusive.
The question of interpretation is the next question. It is no good to mix them.
So your attack on Michael is not only unnessecarily harsh but the argument isn´t really consistent.
Why protestants have come to so diverging interpretations is still an important questions and that´s a week point. But I can say that in Europe the Situation was clearly different from the States. The protestant Churches were either lutheran or calvinistic. The groups who do not practise childbaptisme were and still are generally calvinistic and a minority .The two branches of the church in Germany were politically forced to unite. This together with the development of liberal theology weekend the position of mainstream protestantisme and led to the streghtening of smaller denominations.But until the last half of the last century people held strongly to the concept of the church and not many little churches and denominations and the most criticisme against this ideal of consistency and visible unity always came from the USA and all Americans I know use the totally wrong term of "State church" as an open insult to the great churches in germany, catholic and protestant.


And I think that it would be fair to say, that both Luther and Calvin, though they take a different direction than the RC church did, have clear connections to the tradition (small t) of thought that precedes them.

I also suspect that there are many who are comfortable in the Catholic Church today, who if they were suddenly time warped to the late middle ages, would find it impossible to support - it's practice at that time seemed so far from anything remotely acceptable by a Christian. I don't think there is really anyone for the RC church to blame for Protestantism but themselves.

Lioba, would you say that the Protestant churches in Europe see themselves as being true, or needing to be true, to tradition in some sense? I would have said yes in the case of the Lutherans at least I grew up in the Lutheran Church,) but I am not positive about that.

If so, the question to my mind would be how does a church without a powerful central authority maintain a focus and a unity in their interpretation of scripture? I don't see that this is an impossible task - the Orthodox church has done it. On the other hand, my own church (Anglican) has pretty much buggered it. And we can see how American Protestantism has fared.

I do agree though, that EVERY church has a lens through which they interpret scripture. The problem with not recognizing it is that you quickly lose focus if you pay no attention to the lens. And of course you are then required to show that the lens is the, or a, correct and valid one.
User avatar
Bluegoat
 
Posts: 205
Joined: Dec 2008
Location: Nova Scotia

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Feb 2009, 15:55

[first a quote from the middle of Lioba's post]:
Lioba wrote:...your attack on Michael is not only unnessecarily harsh...


I'm distressed that you see my post as an "attack". I've enjoyed all of Michaels posts in these forums in his relatively short time here so far -- so much so, that I respect him and feel comfortable enough in that respect that posing a challenging post in response to one of his comments is a way for me to express that respect and comfort. I hope he sees it that way and enjoys discussions of this sort. If he does not enjoy such discussion, or if he also sees my post in the negative light of an "attack" and "unnecessarily harsh", I certainly apologize and will gladly withdraw the question. But I would rather he see it as a hearty welcome to a meat and potatoes discussion forum. And I hope that you too can realize that however clumsy my opening post may seem to you, my intention was not mean-spirited, but born out of the enjoyment of honest debate with a worthy adversary.

Stanley in my eyes you mix two questions:
On what basics does my belief rely?
How do I understand and interpret them?
The good old protestant answer to the first question is Sola Scriptura. Every additional source of wisdom is to be measured on scripture.


Understand that my purpose was not so much to defend Catholicism (though that sort of thing will of course begin to seep through in any in-depth discussion, just as Lewis' Christianity seeps through even if he only attempts to write about a faun carrying parcels and an umbrella through a snowy woods). Catholics have their own answers and explanations for how and what they believe, and that would make for some pretty lengthy discussions of course. But I was only addressing the separate claim that so many churches make that they do not rely on anything but God's word. My claim, apart from the claims of Catholicism and as a purely observational point, is that if many differing and disagreeing churches claim "Sola Scriptura", there must be something missing -- ie, correct interpretation.

As an additional point, what if Scripture itself points to something away from itself (and in doing so, not "in place of", but "in addition to" itself of course)? Should Scripture be obeyed and listened to in that area? Or should that uncomfortable part be ignored? I have likened that aspect of Sola Scripture to the patient who wants to rely solely on his prescription bottle label instructions. It tells him to take two pills every four hours and he obeys it faithfully. Unfortunately, it also says "if problems persist for more than a week, see a doctor". But those instructions "point away" from the label and he can't quite bring himself to actually obey that part of the instructions, even though his problems are still persisting after three weeks. Better to just keep taking the two pills every four hours, he says to himself.

So he is in fact ignoring not only part of the label he professes to subscribe to in his "sola labella" belief, but he is actually ignoring one of the most important parts of it in his self-defeating and contradictory attempt to "not rely on anything but the label's words". If the label did not point "away" from itself in some areas, it might be possible to stay consistent in that manner. But if it does "point to the doctor" in some areas, it is as dangerous to ignore that portion as it would be to also ignore the dosage instructions and give a baby the same amount as an adult is supposed to take.

Now of course it can be argued that Scripture does not point away from itself and that therefore one CAN rely on Sola Scriptura. Catholics think otherwise -- they read Scripture and see it as blatantly and consistently "pointing" to the Church, and telling its readers "Look over there! Look over there! The Church is there to help you understand me!" But you (the generic "you") must see whether it seems that way to you, I suppose. (I am fond of saying, in loving jest of course, since I have been of the Protestant mindset in the past myself, that "people who believe in Sola Scriptura simply haven't read their Bibles enough")

So anyway, I don't hope to provide a convincing argument to make everyone instantly become Catholics, only to explore the logic and consistency of the sort of belief that says it does not rely on anything but God's word, and to see where that leads. If God's word points back to itself in all cases, then fine. But if it seems to point somewhere else, then let the reader beware. There may be dragons in those waters perhaps, but if the map is to be trusted, the treasure it points to and the means by which it suggests getting there is probably worth it.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Lioba » 18 Feb 2009, 16:14

Bluegoat wrote:
Lioba wrote:.
Lioba, would you say that the Protestant churches in Europe see themselves as being true, or needing to be true, to tradition in some sense? I would have said yes in the case of the Lutherans at least I grew up in the Lutheran Church,) but I am not positive about that.

If so, the question to my mind would be how does a church without a powerful central authority maintain a focus and a unity in their interpretation of scripture? I don't see that this is an impossible task - the Orthodox church has done it. On the other hand, my own church (Anglican) has pretty much buggered it. And we can see how American Protestantism has fared.

I do agree though, that EVERY church has a lens through which they interpret scripture. The problem with not recognizing it is that you quickly lose focus if you pay no attention to the lens. And of course you are then required to show that the lens is the, or a, correct and valid one.


Conservative and especially Highchurch Lutherans rely strongly on the Augustana and on the old liturgy- german mass and the more extended evangelical mass.
But also some Calvinists stuck to Calvins constitutio.
Iustitia est ad alterum.
User avatar
Lioba
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 303
Joined: Oct 2007

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby john » 18 Feb 2009, 16:28

Stanley Anderson wrote:
Lioba wrote:...your attack on Michael is not only unnessecarily harsh...


I'm distressed that you see my post as an "attack". I've enjoyed all of Michaels posts in these forums in his relatively short time here so far -- so much so, that I respect him and feel comfortable enough in that respect that posing a challenging post in response to one of his comments is a way for me to express that respect and comfort.


I wouldn't wish to speak for Michael, but if I had recently joined a forum, and was challenged in this manner (regardless of the intent), it would be most unappreciated. Perhaps it's just my personality type, but I don't see that as a way to express my respect towards another person at all. You don't make new members comfortable by taking one of their innocent comments and attempting to rake them over the coals with it (especially with your trademark sarcasm that those of us who know you understand quite well, but somebody who doesn't know you might think you're just being cruelly arrogant). You say that your intention was not mean-spirited, but rather, that you enjoy an honest debate. If it was good will you were after, perhaps looking past your own needs, and thinking of what Michael might need, would have been more prudent.

I think it's a good topic to discuss -- but I disagree with your approach. In my opinion, it simply wasn't necessary.

My two cents...
john (aka DrZeus)
Chief Wardrobian
User avatar
john
Chief Wardrobian
 
Posts: 6462
Joined: Jul 1996
Location: near seattle

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Feb 2009, 16:40

Bluegoat wrote:I also suspect that there are many who are comfortable in the Catholic Church today, who if they were suddenly time warped to the late middle ages, would find it impossible to support - it's practice at that time seemed so far from anything remotely acceptable by a Christian.


As I would have have said myself in years past -- "How DARE the Catholic Church claim such authority! Hmph!"

Unfortunately, I also -- if I were completely honest with myself -- would have to make the same statement to Jesus himself. Something like, "Jesus, how DARE you say things to Peter, who in a few short verses later, you yourself will call Satan and order him to get behind you, and who would deny you three times and on and on. Yes, how DARE you tell that fumbling, corrupt, friend-denying-at-the-point-of-death apostle Peter that you are giving him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven and that whatever he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever he looses on earth will be loosed in Heaven, and later telling the others that whosoever sins they remit shall be remitted and whosoever sins they retained shall be retained! They were ALL a bunch of bumbling idiots who couldn't stay awake one hour in your time of need or find their way out of a closed room or believe the testimony of their friends without physical proof. You trust THEM with such power and authority. How DARE you put such trust in them."

Well, that's what I should have though of course. But that was too difficult to actually put into words at the time. But if I had, the answer would probably be something like that if Jesus was able to put that much trust in such feeble and wayward tools and accessories, he must have a whole lot of trust in the Holy Spirit to actually guide those guys around, even in their weakness. Er, yeah -- I guess Scripture does talk elsewhere about God using the weak things of the world to accomplish his Will after all. So why not here in this area too -- especially here.

I don't think there is really anyone for the RC church to blame for Protestantism but themselves...


And take it however you will, but I've also heard people say that if Luther could have seen the incredibly granulated divisions in the Church his actions resulted in today, he would have slapped himself on the face in shame and resolved to try harder to help the Church reform from within than to risk schism to such a fractured degree as it has become today. But of course we must praise God in all things -- He is able to work out his Will even in the face of apparent worldly defeat.


(I will also suggest that Church Teaching and Authority and Doctrine can be distinguished from the sinful and disrptive actions of individuals and groups within the Church. Again, the sort of thing Jesus apparently trusted Peter and the Apostles to do despite their fumbling and at time horrendous behavior)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Lioba » 18 Feb 2009, 16:45

Stanley- I think I saw the harshness not only towards the person of Michael- , but in your general judgement of protestantisme.Remember: many protestant minority- groups that couldn´t cope with any of the greater churches found a home in America. the good thing about this is the freedom and independance of the religious life in the States, the hrm difficult aspect of it is that those little denominations have often in themselves a inherant tendency to separatisme and individuality .In the Old World we still see the 2 great schismata as tragic events and not the original will of our Lord.
[quote][As an additional point, what if Scripture itself points to something away from itself (and in doing so, not "in place of", but "in addition to" itself of course)? /quote]
Well- IF it really does- for example does scripture say that the Apostle Peter "holds the keys" or all his successors?
That´s what I meant with the two different questions.
Is scripture the foundation of Christian teaching - yes.
Do all three great branches of Christianity interprete it equally - no.
The primacy of the Apostle Peter himself is rather obvious and needs no interpretation.
But what about his successors? Here are disagreements.
But differences in interpretation are not the same as wanton separatisme and arbitrariness.
Iustitia est ad alterum.
User avatar
Lioba
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 303
Joined: Oct 2007

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby archenland_knight » 18 Feb 2009, 16:50

Stanley wrote:As an additional point, what if Scripture itself points to something away from itself (and in doing so, not "in place of", but "in addition to" itself of course)? Should Scripture be obeyed and listened to in that area? Or should that uncomfortable part be ignored? I have likened that aspect of Sola Scripture to the patient who wants to rely solely on his prescription bottle label instructions. It tells him to take two pills every four hours and he obeys it faithfully. Unfortunately, it also says "if problems persist for more than a week, see a doctor". But those instructions "point away" from the label and he can't quite bring himself to actually obey that part of the instructions, even though his problems are still persisting after three weeks. Better to just keep taking the two pills every four hours, he says to himself.


Stanley wrote:What I am suggesting in a round-about way is that what you actually like about your church is that it relys not only on God's word -- but ALSO your own personal (or your pastor's) interpretation of the Bible.


So ... do you not see that you are doing the very thing which you accuse Michael of doing? You seem convinced that Scripture points to the authority of "The Church". No doubt I could locate at least some of the passages of which you are thinking, but it hardly matters which specific passages they are.

The problem is that these passages only point to the "Authority of The Church" when read through the "lens" that the RCC places over those passages. You are doing the very thing you criticize Michael for. Those passages, in your church's interpretation point to something other than scripture. In my church's interpretation, those very same passages point to the very Scriptures themselves.

You see, in order to believe that these passages point to something outside the scriptures, one must first assume that there is some authority outside of the scriptures. If one makes that assumption, then your interpretation makes sense.

However, if one does not make that assumption, then your interpretation makes no sense whatsoever. The text, standing on it's own, cannot support your assumption without having the assumption to prop it up. In esssence, it becomes circular reasoning.

Your analogy of the perscription bottle seems clever, but Scripture is hardly as simple as the instructions on a perscription bottle. It's more like the full set of engineering specs for an automobile. Anything you need to know about the car can be learned from that.

As for your argument that the diversity of opinions and interpretations among "Sola Scriptura" churches is somehow indictitive of a falacy in the "Sola Scritptura" position, I simply don't see why it should matter. We are called to "unity", which has nothing to do with all believing the exact same thing. I can have perfect Christian Unity with a Calvinist or a Southern Baptist even though we would differ on several theological points. "Unity" does not imply blind conformity to a single interpretation. That would just be creepy.

Lioba wrote:But differences in interpretation are not the same as wanton separatisme and arbitrariness.


Yeah ... what Lioba said.

Lioba wrote:the hrm difficult aspect of it is that those little denominations have often in themselves a inherant tendency to separatisme and individuality


Sadly, this is true. But we see it as tragic as well, and there are many trying to reverse the separatism trend.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
User avatar
archenland_knight
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 771
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Obviously at a computer keyboard

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Feb 2009, 16:58

john wrote:You don't make new members comfortable by taking one of their innocent comments and attempting to rake them over the coals with it (especially with your trademark sarcasm that those of us who know you understand quite well, but somebody who doesn't know you might think you're just being cruelly arrogant).


I was relying somewhat (perhaps a bit more strongly than it warranted?) on an already existing exchange that reflected something of that "trademark sarcasm", along with Michael's very hearty and non-offended-sounding reply in his Cuisine thread in the Caffe:

Michael wrote:
Stanley Anderson wrote:Sushi has to be relegated to "other"?!!

--Stanley


I knew I'd forgotten something--and I like sushi!


I rather appreciated his forthright and uncompromising and unapologetic reply there. And I detected what sounded like a fellow back-slapping buddy who is confident enough to not take offense easily. So I felt comfortable jumping into this "heavier" discussion.

But if I have misjudged his character and manner of expressing himself and how he enjoys others expressing themselves to him, then, as I mentioned to Lioba, I sincerely apologize and ask him to fogive my presumption, and I will try to be more accomodating to him in the future. But perhaps we can hear what he thinks at some point?

In any case, again, my intention, however poorly expressed it may seem to some, is to honor his statements with true thought and to think them worthy of potential discussion and not simply passed over with an "ok, that's nice" sort of response (or no response at all).

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby john » 18 Feb 2009, 17:06

Stanley, after almost 13 years, I know you well enough to understand that you had good intentions. :)

But I also don't believe it's wise to make so many assumptions toward others. In my mind, it has little to do with how "easily offended" somebody might be, and more to do with how necessary the approach and wording was in the first place.

Of course, all this "behind the back" talk in defense of Michael and his feelings might be worse than if it had just been left to the original post. :rolleyes:
john (aka DrZeus)
Chief Wardrobian
User avatar
john
Chief Wardrobian
 
Posts: 6462
Joined: Jul 1996
Location: near seattle

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Feb 2009, 18:05

Lioba wrote:Stanley- I think I saw the harshness not only towards the person of Michael- , but in your general judgement of protestantisme.Remember: many protestant minority- groups that couldn´t cope with any of the greater churches found a home in America.


The question is, though, whether they found a home in these forums. Ok, that was just a jesting comment to point out that I intentionally brought my discussion of the issue into this particular forum, and not the "non-debate" forum that the comment was made in. And for the express purpose of discussing and debating it, as I understand this forum is for in contrast to that other forum. There are people who avoid reading this forum precisely because it accomplishes what it is designed to do. And that's fine. Each to his own preferences. But for those who do choose to read posts here, they should expect, well, debate and discussion about potentially "heavy" issues. (and yes, of course I realize that even in this "war" forum, bounds can be overstepped. I hope I haven't overstepped those bounds myself, but if I have, again, I apologize and will try to back off. But so far I see only healthy discussion all around in this thread.)

And by the way, does it strike you as a harsh statement that "our church is a Bible-based church that does not rely on anything but God's word"? Doesn't it have a stongly implied conclusion that other churches (and who here doesn't suspect that the Catholic Church is one of the prime suspects in this case) are not Bible-based and DO rely on (most-likely non-edifying) things other than God's word? Or here is another quote -- does it seem harsh to you?:

Bluegoat wrote:I also suspect that there are many who are comfortable in the Catholic Church today, who if they were suddenly time warped to the late middle ages, would find it impossible to support - it's practice at that time seemed so far from anything remotely acceptable by a Christian. I don't think there is really anyone for the RC church to blame for Protestantism but themselves.


Now please, before anyone draw the wrong conclusion at my quoting this as though it were offensive -- let me quickly emphasize that I DO NOT see either of these examples as harsh. They are both perfectly legitimate statements to be discussed and debated and I welcome them and appreciate the posters for making them. Certainly, I can imagine that some Catholics (among others) might be offended at such comments and implications as Bluegoat and Michael have made in these examples, but not I. For me they are simply interesting points to be discussed and I am glad they both feel forthright enough to have made them. So go ahead and see my comments as harsh (though I respectfully disagree with that view), but then at least see the other comments made here with the same degree of scrutiny.

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Lioba » 18 Feb 2009, 18:28

Stanley- I also know you for a while and I surely have no intention to get into a longterm quarrel. :smile:
About discussions- I believe that they often end in a "war" because we forget, that a good discussion not only consists of talking ( or writing) but as much in listening.
Iustitia est ad alterum.
User avatar
Lioba
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 303
Joined: Oct 2007

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby Stanley Anderson » 18 Feb 2009, 18:38

archenland_knight wrote:
Stanley wrote:...What I am suggesting in a round-about way is that what you actually like about your church is that it relys not only on God's word -- but ALSO your own personal (or your pastor's) interpretation of the Bible.


So ... do you not see that you are doing the very thing which you accuse Michael of doing?


I can see how it might seem that way to you. But no, I do not agree that I am doing the very thing I accuse Michael of doing. Or at least, whether I am doing it or not hardly matters. I was only initially arguing that for someone to say "our church is a Bible-based church that does not rely on anything but God's word" can be logically or psychologically self-deceiving, whether it is a Catholic or Protestant or whatever else saying it. And in fact, Catholics don't say that -- they specifically say that they rely on a three-legged stool of Scripture, Tradition (capital T), and Magisterium (Church Teaching). And it happens in fact, that Scripture (as a defined canon) came rather late into the game after all. For it was the Church that established, with its Authority, the canon of Scripture. And isn't it curious (and gravy) that Scripture itself seems to fortify the importance of Tradition and Teaching, if Paul and other NT writers are to be trusted.

Now you may disagree with these views that the Catholic Church takes (and which I obviously also subscribe to), but whether you think I (with the Church) am in fact fooling myself or not, I certainly am not saying that my church relies ONLY on God's word (ie, Scripture). That in itself might send shivers of horror up the spines of some Protestants, and is the subject for long discussions of course, but it is a different point than you make above. All your analysis about my supposed circular reasoning dissolves (at least it seems so to me) in the face of the Church being the one that established the canon and reliability of Scripture in the first place. (and just to avoid a possible future misconception, I don't think the Church would say that one "came before" the other, but that they "grew up together", interwoven and indissoluable, and that any portion of the three legs cannot stand if one of them are removed. But again, that is subject for another and different discussion I think, enjoyable as it would be.)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
User avatar
Stanley Anderson
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 3251
Joined: Aug 1996
Location: Southern California

Re: Not relying on anything but God's Word

Postby moogdroog » 18 Feb 2009, 20:46

Stanley Anderson wrote: since God's word has Jesus saying that the bread is his body and the wine his blood, and also says elsewhere, unequivocably and with emphasis, over and over, that whoever does not eat his flesh or drink his blood has not life in him (even to the point of causing the Jews to ask "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" and answering, NOT something like "oh you misunderstand me -- I was talking figuratively", but instead says "my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed").


This, I think, gives a nice example of how Catholics rely on Church teaching, Tradition and Scripture. Apologies in advance for the long-winded nature of this post. Just skip to the end if you aren't interested :) I'd like to try and illustrate how Catholics, rather than running to superstitious, pagan and superimposed traditions (:wink:) before going to Scripture, actually use Tradition to help clarify what is in Scripture anyway.

The process of wine and bread turning to Christ’s flesh is what Roman Catholics term 'transubstantiation'. This is from the Latin term transsubstantiatio, meaning ‘the change or conversion of one substance into another’. This is a term that entered official usage (although there are instances of it being used before, for example, in John Beleth’s Summa de ecclesiasticis officiis) at the Fourth Lateran Council of 1215. Aha! Those Catholics - you invented transubstantiation in the high Middle Ages. If the word only came about then, that means the concept it represents didn't exist before that. Tsk, tsk.

Any historian will tell you that this model of retrospective analysis is very dangerous. In this example, transsubstantiatio only gives a term to a concept that already and emphatically existed from the roots of the church, something which (secular and religious) historians agree quite readily on. Deeply embedded in the origins of the church is the notion of ‘bloodless sacrifice’ upon the altar, the shared Last Supper amongst Christians.

‘Eucharist’ is from the Greek work eucharistia, which means ‘thanksgiving’. In the Last Supper, Christ offers up Himself as sacrifice for eating in quite plain language: ‘Hoc est corpus meum’ (Luke, 22:19). The earliest eucharistic meals are born from Jewish ritual meals that focus on prayer, sacrifice, and thanksgiving. However, added to these Judaic structures are the elements of the Last Supper: bread, wine, prayer to God, and a priest offering sacrifice (see, for example, Paul F. Bradshaw, Eucharistic Origins, for a discussion of the Judaic elements and the role of the priest). These components ‘from the very beginning stood...for human beings bound into community by commensality’ (Caroline Bynum, Holy Feast and Holy Fast, p. 48). They link those celebrating together into the eternal, transformative, present sacrifice offered by Last Supper, as I will illustrate with a few examples.

Bread is from the beginning equated with God's flesh.Ignatius (d.110), in one of the earliest examples of eucharistic writing we have, writes of the Eucharist as ‘the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ’. He equates ‘bread of God’ with Christ’s flesh, and the blood with ‘incorruptible love’ (Epistle to the Romans 7.3, Epistle to the Smyrneans 7.1). Theophilus Of Antioch (d. 183), complains of one particular accusation levelled against Christianity, the most ‘impious and barbarous [charge] of them all’, as he writes in his Ad Autolychum, that ‘we eat human flesh’. These kind of remarks indicate that for Christians to be accused of a literal cannibalism by their critics, a corporeal language of change was being used in the early eucharistic ritual ( see Jaroslav Pelikan, The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition [100-600], p. 28).

This is further evidenced by Irenaeus (d. 202), who clearly emphasises an idea of transformation within the bread:

'For as the bread taken from the earth, when it has received the consecration from God, is no longer common bread but is the Eucharist, which consists of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, but have the hope of resurrection into eternal [life].’ (Adversus Haereses)

This idea of a ‘dual’ reality mitigates the idea that the Eucharist may have been a merely symbolic act for early Christians. ‘No longer common bread’ indicates a change of ordinary substance to the extraordinary. Earthly, human-made bread becomes imbued with invisible divine nature, through the act of consecration. Irenaeus parallels this to the flesh of corruptible body turning, through God’s power, into eternal , heavenly raiment. The Eucharist then contains two realities: the earthy substance and the divine.

We can also see early church writers giving this notion of change a corporeal dimension, for example, by St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (d. 258):

'Nam qui magis sacerdos Dei summi quam Dominus noster Iesus Christus, qui sacrificium Deo patri optulit et optulit hoc idem quod Melchisedech optulerat id est panem et uinum, seem scilicet corpus et sanguinem.'

‘Who is more priest of the highest God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offers a sacrifice to God the Father! And indeed he offers the same as Melchizedech, namely bread and wine, namely his body and blood.’ (Cyprian, Epistula 63. 4)

Melchizedech’s offering of bread and wine foreshadow Christ’s offering of his own body and blood. The priest (sacerdos) is Christ, offering Himself up to God in language of blood sacrifice (corpus, sanguis). God is the only worthy sacrifice to be given to God. As Ann W. Astell writes, the relationship between the physical and the spiritual extends ‘to the outward signs of the sacrament; to the plain letter of the scriptures; to the simple forms of bread and wine; to the ritual actions of eating and drinking; to the remembrance of Christ’s torture, deformity and death’ (Eating Beauty, p. 4-5).

This is reiterated in a eucharistic prayer from the Dêr Balyzeh papyrus. The text here is thought to be third century, although it is preserved in a papyrus from the sixth to the seventh-century. This particular prayer expresses in its epiclesis (a calling on the Holy Spirit) the desire for the bread and wine to be changed:

Fill us also with your glory and deign to send your Holy Spirit on these creatures and make the bread the body of the Lord and our Saviour, Jesus Christ.’

The focus is on offering, consecration, and change.The Holy Spirit is a transformative agent here, asked to pour divinity into earthly substances: to fill communicant with the glory of God, and bread with Christ. It is, emphatically, in its immediate and contextual semantics, a process of transformation.

Writings from the fourth and fifth centuries affirm and develop these narratives, emphasising a somatic divine presence. For example, St. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers (d. 367) in De Trinitate writes of the Eucharist as a location for the mutual mingling of God and creature. Here, communicant ingests Christ, and Christ the communicant:

'De ueritate carnis et sanguinis non relictus est ambigendi locus...Et haec accepta adque hausta id efficiunt, ut et nos in Christo et Christus in nobis sit...Est ergo ipse in nobis per carnem et sumus in eo, dum decum hoc quod nos sumus in Deum est.'

'The truth of his body and blood...And having received this and drunk that, they effect that both we are in Christ and Christ is in us...Therefore he is in us through the flesh, and we are in him: What we are, is, namely, with him in God.’

Again, St. Hilary speaks very firmly of the body, the flesh, receiving Christ, indicated by the physicality of haurio ('to devour'). Transformations cluster at the site of consumption: Christ literally swallowed by communicant. This allows a paradoxical mutual consumption, in which Christ also receives the communicant into His own body (‘...ut et nos in Christo et Christus in nobis sit’).

Constructs of somatic change, and constructs of spiritual change, quite comfortably exist side by side in this eucharistic space. Indeed, these two constructs inform, rather than contradict, one another. This is aptly illustrated by the writings of two patristic fathers of the church, St. Ambrose (d. 397) and St. Augustine (d. 430). Ambrose’s writings on the Eucharist are brief, espousing a change usually delineated in physical terms, termed the ‘realistic’. Augustine (a student of Ambrose) takes a slightly different angle. He elaborates upon complex relationships between the appearance of a thing seen, and the essence of the thing itself. This can be seen in an excerpt from Augustine’s De Civitate Dei:

'Denisque ipse dicit: ‘Qui manducat carnem meam et bibit sanguinem neum, in me manet, et ego in eo.’ Ostendit quid sit non sacramento tenus, sed re uera corpus Christi manducare et eius sanguinem bibere; hoc est enim in Christo manere, ut in ello maneat et Christua.'

Above all, Christ himself says, ‘Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood lives in me, and I live in him.’ And thus he shows what it is to eat Christ’s body and to drink his blood not just in the outward sacrament but in the reality; it is to live in Christ so that Christ lives in the believer.’ (XXI.xxv)

Augustine faithfully follows the scriptural narrative in his reference to Christ’s own words here (‘Qui manducat...’). He expresses a similar idea to Hilary of Poitiers: to eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ allows Christ to dwell within the communicant and believer (‘in me manet, et ego in eo’). This emphasises that the Eucharist is not merely a representation - a flat sketching of the Last Supper - but something that takes on divine dimension in its inward reality. . The formula, passed down to later church writers, is explicit: to eat the bread is to eat the flesh. St. Ambrose offers a very similar idea:

Christusque nobis sit cibus,
Potusque noster sit fides;
laeti bibamus sobriam
ebrietatem Spiritus.

‘Let Christ be our food and faith our drink; let us happily drink the sober inebriation of the spirit’. (Ambrose, ‘Hymn Three: Splendor paternae gloriae’)

St. Ambrose also adds this unembellished formula: ‘In illo sacramento Christus est, quia corpus est Christi’ – ‘Christ is in this sacrament, because it is the body of Christ.’ (De mysteriis 9. 58).

It is important to note that consecration, at the hands of the priest, is the key to this mechanism of change. This is an explicit configuration in patristic writings. Ambrose uses language in De mysteriis indicating change in the sacrament at the hands of the priest (mutare, convertere, transfigurare). In De Fide, Ambrose also writes:

Nos autum quotiescumque sacramenta sumimus, quae per sacrae orationis mysterium in carnem transfigurantur et sanguinem, mortem Domini annunciamus.

'However as often as we receive the sacraments, which are transfigured by the mystery of the holy prayer into the flesh and blood, we proclaim the death of the Lord.’

The sacraments are transfigured (transfigurare) and given heavenly properties in a mystery of ‘...sacrae orationis’: holy words from the mouth of the priest. Augustine proposes a similar process:

‘Panis ille quem videtis in altari, sanctificatus per verbum Dei, corpus est Christi. Calix ille, imo quod habet calix, sanctificatum per verbum Dei, sanguis est Christi.’

'That bread which you see on the altar, consecrated by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what the chalice holds, consecrated by the word of God, is the Blood of Christ.’ Augustine, Sermo CCXXVII

In summary: there is, in the earlist eucharistic meals, a process of metamorphosis and change - and that change is perpetrated by consecration. As Isidore of Seville (d. 636) expresses in his Etymologiae, the eucharistic meal is ‘...sacrificum dictum’(‘called sacrifice’) and made holy because of its consecration, ‘...quia prece mystica consecratur’ (‘because it is consecrated by mystical prayer’). And, as Isidore continues, this creates a meal made from the fruits of the earth, but one that is sanctified by the workings of the Holy Spirit. The importance of this changed substance, Isidore adds, cannot be underestimated: ‘Et quid melius corpore et sanguine Christi?’ ('And what better [meal] than the body and blood of Christ?')
User avatar
moogdroog
Wardrobian
 
Posts: 476
Joined: May 2007

Next

Return to Religion, Science, and Philosophy

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered members and 2 guests