Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Holy Spirit leads the Church into all truth

Tradition is most properly a reference to all apostolic teachings fully applied, but occasionally is used to reference the non-scriptural teachings.

Teachings are sifted in the life of the church to discern which are the true ones and which are the false ones. Additionally, the Church applies the apostolic tradition to situations that the apostles might not have thought of or come across, to more exactly define the apostolic tradition, correctly applied to the new situation or question. This is why some teachings are not explicitely found in the earliest writings.

So for example, many books were in use by the early Christians. Some were in dispute as to their authenticity or their standing as scripture. Lacking a direct word from God, or even an eyewitness to their author, (as if that would solve the problem anyway), the authentic tradition is something that is sifted in the life of the church. So the tradition isn't itself the sifting process, but discerning the tradition is intimately connected with the sifting.

And again, without recognizing this process, you have no canon. This process is the very one that caused the church to start out with a rather ill defined canon, and slowly over centuries have it as a more and more well defined and solidified canon.

Now you claim that what constitutes tradition is objectively less clear than what constitutes scripture. But that's only because you've piggy-backed off of our sifting process, and then pretended like the bible fell out of heaven with 66 books neatly leather bound. Well, if just claiming it fell out of heaven is enough, I can do it easily enough for the Orthodox tradition.

Unlike the misconception evident in your previous answer, Orthodoxy does not immediately look to "dogmatic definitions", when there is a perfectly clear tradition to follow. By your logic, protestants have no dogma at all, because the first point of dogma, #1 in the Westminster Confession, what constitutes the bible, is nowhere dogmatically defined by any authority protestants would recognize.

That we apply the same process, not merely to what scripture IS, but also to what scripture MEANS, is merely an exercise in consistency. If you think the results lack clarity because it is not written down anywhere, then toss out your bible now, because this process gave it to you.

In your first answer, you equivocated between scripture "having a pride of place", and sola scriptura, not answering the question given. In your last answer you fudged by equivocating between what the Orthodox Church teaches and what the local Orthodox Church teaches.

If supposedly a believer can never know anything but what the local church teaches, and can't know what the wider church teaches, how do you know what the bible is? All you apparently know is what your local congregation has told you, and are a walking time bomb waiting to run into another Christian tradition.

Of course this is nonsense, and doubly so in the Orthodox Church where all Churches are in contact with their bishops, who are in contact with the other bishops, and who keep lists of precisely what other Churches they are in communion with and who thus they know what they are teaching to be considered Orthodox. On the issues such as those I brought up, any reasonable person can quickly discover that the whole church is in one accord on these teachings, and that is completely sufficient to establish it as Tradition, and dogmatic. If you don't like it, then I await the 1st Protestant ecumenical council to dogmatically define the canon.

Now concerning Paul's use of Tradition...

1Cor. 15:3 For I traditioned (παρέδωκα) to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.

The apostles received their teaching from Christ, and they passed it on, sometimes with extended application, and with clarification on its application to the new situation. This is just what the Church does, it passes on what Christ passed to the apostles, occasionally with extra clarification.

But the Orthodox Church does not believe in "development" as such as if a whole new teaching can spring forth from extended contemplation of revelation. Rather we just continue to apply the once delivered set of teachings to the questions at hand.

Concerning what the Fathers said, a few things ought to be obvious. Firstly, that the Fathers knew what tradition was, more or less. Chrysostom would hardly have advocated following a tradition that cannot be discerned. Unlike you, they don't seem to have been confused what it was, or apparently complaining that they only knew what their local bishop said.

Secondly, that not every wind of doctrine was considered by them to be tradition. Obviously, they looked to consensus among the churches in identifying this tradition.

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