Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What alternative are you offering ME?

I'm an Orthodox Christian. I follow the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church. We have a 76 book canon. The Church is unified in its belief of who and when should receive the sacraments, and what that means. In fact, the Church has a unified and clear teaching on most things.

But I haven't received any special revelation of a 66 book list, a 76 book list, a 61 book list, or any other list.

I've witnessed debates between baptists and presbyterians over whether children should or shouldn't be baptised, and based purely on scripture I have no answer to this question.

I've seen a number of debates between Calvinists and Arminians, and I can understand exactly why each side says what they say.

I've seen debates on how Christians should approach law and gospel without being sure who the winner is.

I've seen different views on spirit baptism, views on Church government and on worship, on women in ministry.

Oh yes, and my favourite: different views on Eastern Orthodoxy.

As far as I can see, your advice is that I should go off and wait for the Holy Spirit to tell me the 66 book list, something he never did for Chrysostom. And then I should enter into the land of confusion between all these protestant exegetes. But the one thing I have learnt from reading these books and listening to these debates, is that I quite often DON'T know what the bible teaches based on scripture alone, despite witnessing the to and fro of the best minds out there.

I think any Orthodox Christians who see this debate would say that no matter whether your arguments are good, bad or indifferent, you don't offer any substitute. I could believe what you say about scripture and tradition, and all it would cause me to do is leave church in misery and despair, not knowing which church has the true canon, or which church has the true interpretation, worship, ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, pneumatology, or every other "ology". Unlike protestants, I'm honest enough to acknowledge I have a tradition. Without that tradition, I'm lost. I've tried to figure out this scripture alone thing, but I've failed.

Aren't I better off in the Orthodox Church? Isn't reading and understanding scripture with assistance of the consensus of Christians in the historic church better than just confusion?

Isn't the supposed certainty most Protestants seem to have about their own interpretation, more to do with their own pride and self-assurance, than any real understanding? Since you are reformed and most protestants aren't, you would have to agree, wouldn't you?

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