Thursday, October 25, 2007

Is Basil the Great Your Father?

Basil the Great wrote, in his “Oration on the Holy Spirit,” Chapter 7:

What our fathers said, the same say we, that the glory of the Father and of the Son is common; wherefore we offer the doxology to the Father with the Son. But we do not rest only on the fact that such is the tradition of the Fathers; for they too followed the sense of Scripture, and started from the evidence which, a few sentences back, I deduced from Scripture and laid before you.

(link) (to avoid accusations of bias in the translation, the source is an “Orthodox” web site – CAUTION – graphical attempted likeness of the Christ)

Is the way of obtaining this important doctrine, according to Basil the Great:

a) “It is a tradition, seek no farther” (i.e. rest on the fact that such the tradition of the Fathers);

b) “The Bible says, therefore I believe it” (i.e. I deduced from Scripture, as did the fathers before us); or

c) Some other path?


P.S. Don’t get me wrong, Basil may very well have been quite willing to believe in the existence and apostilicity of various unwritten traditions such as triple baptism, praying to the East, praying standing, and so forth: Basil may not have been fully a Sola Scriptura kind of guy – at least not by modern standards. That’s not the question. The question is whether Basil rested on the traditions of the fathers, or whether Basil sought to deduce the doctrine from Scripture. Basil’s opponents in the debate demanded written proof. Did Basil turn to John Chrysostom’s maxim or to Scripture?

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