Monday, November 5, 2007

Orthodox - Rebuttal to List One

Reformed Christians would side procedurally with Basil’s opponents here, and agree with them that the Christian practice is to provide written proof

Francis lectures Basil that the "Christian practice" is to provide written proof. Okay Francis, provide us with the written proof of sola scriptura. Oh, but Francis already conceded that the apostles neither taught nor practiced sola scriptura. Thus Francis cannot practice what he preaches.

since anyone can wave their hands and claim “unwritten tradition” as the support for their position.

Anyone can claim something in writing as authoritative as well I guess.

But claiming it and having the church believe it are very different matters.

a) Reformed Christians would point out how Gnostic-sounding this is. Secret mysteries hidden from the multitude and not given to the commoners are standard Gnostic fare.

Francis has already been refuted on this. Basil's example of a "secret" is part of the baptism service - something that is no secret at all for those in the church.

From an Orthodox point of view, all of protestantism "sounds" gnostic, in its pure emphasis on head knowledge.

Colossians 1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints

Yes, to his saints.

Now, recall that Basil made analogy to debtors demanding written proof. It’s interesting that Basil should make this particular analogy. Perhaps in the time and place when Basil was writing, proof of debt was admitted based on oral testimony. In many places, however, that is no longer the case. Because it is so easy for creditors to fabricate oral testimony, many places have a “statute of frauds” that prevents the enforcement of debts contracted orally if the amount is large. And the same principle should be applied to these alleged traditions. Where there is no writing, there is abundant room for fabrication and mere allegations. Writings settle the matter.

Firstly, Francis' 21st century thoughts on what "settles the matter", is not a good argument for antiquity. Secondly, there is only room for fabrication where there are no witnesses. But where the witness is the whole church, this argument disappears. Thirdly, writings can be forged just as easily as oral stories. The only thing that stops written forgeries is the exact same thing that stops oral forgeries: the tradition and collective memory of the church. If you can't trust that, then you can't trust claims about who wrote scripture.

Every argument that works against oral tradition, works equally against written tradition. There is no escaping this fact.

We Reformed Christians would note that this “unbroken of sequence of memory” was a weak argument in Basil’s day (particularly considering that he himself noted a variety of practice). It’s much weaker today, so many more generations having elapsed. Human memories are fallible.

Again, if the unbroken sequence of memory is to be doubted, then so is the tradition about who wrote what book of scripture and whether it is authoritative or apostolic or not. There are no eyewitnesses to who wrote any of scripture. Even if you had the eyewitness, who are they that you should trust them? Maybe the eyewitness was the forger. All you have is the memory of those passing on an oral tradition much much later.

And just as Basil argues, if you're going to accept some things based on the oral tradition, why not the others? Basil's arguments are very cogent and applicable today.

I answer: The rebuttal is that Lucian simply does not understand Gnosticism. Certainly Gnosticism did produce writings. Those writings, however, were largely guarded from the outside world.

Francis has not answered Lucian's question and shown what the distinctive of gnosticism is
"Gnosis (γνῶσις) refers to knowledge of the second kind. Therefore, in a religious context, to be 'Gnostic' should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine. "

Gnosticism isn't merely knowing some secret someone else doesn't. It is about claiming a personal mystical experience. Kind of like how Francis claims that a personal experience of God is how we find out what the canon of scripture is. THAT is an experience that Gnosticism would relate to. Unless you have this personal mystical experience, you can't know what God's word is. From this launching pad of a personal revelation of what is from God, was launched all the other Gnostic writings. After all, if you yourself receive the revelation of what is from God, there is nothing in the way of adding all sorts of other writings.

There always have been and always will be fighting and divisions among Christians, until we are glorified in heaven.

And these divisions "Show who is approved" by God (1Cor. 11:19). So how has, oh say the dispute between baptists and presbyterians over baptism shown who is approved? It hasn't.

Lucian is referring to Islam which was founded around 150 years before the council of 754. That’s not “about the time” in any normal way of speaking.

But the Muslims icon smashing of churches started 3 years before the iconoclastic controversy.

The Jewish synagogues where the very early church would have met were not – from the historical records we have – icon-clad.

Umm, has Francis read Exodus lately?

Ex. 25:18 “You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat."

What is Francis' reference that the early synagogues had no icons?

Those who have done the research have concluded that "the early synagogues were embellished by paintings and mosaics".

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