Killing Dinosaurs

Orthodox Bridge compares the Protestant search for the “early church” to the movie Jurassic Park.   As usual, it’s the same thing as the other articles in that site.   But here goes:

to adopt an episcopal structure would mean surrendering congregational autonomy so precious to so much of Evangelicalism.

But are the only two options available episcopacy and congregationalism?  To anyone who has been to a Presbytery meeting this is silly.  For what it’s worth, I have no administrative problems with episcopacy.  What RA is not telling you is that False Dionysius’s ontology undergirds RA’s understanding of episcopacy: the bishop mediates grace to the priest who mediates it to you.

He quotes Ignatius on where the bishop is present in the congregation, there is the church.   A few minutes reflection will show OB really doesn’t believe this without qualification:  the last Greek service I went to did not have a bishop present.   So is Ignatius using the term “bishop” like the apostles did, something akin to the president of the assembly?

Many Protestants by reading only the Bible and ignoring the early church fathers end up projecting their Protestant bias onto church history.

This is bearing false.   He is equivocating on the terms “evangelical” and “protestant.”  I have challenged him dozens of times to clarify his terms, and he occasionally does, so he knows better.  When I was in seminary, as lame as the curriculum was, we read more of the medievals and church fathers than we did of the Puritans (or Bucer, or Melanchton, or John Knox, or Samuel Rutherford. Okay, I will stop).

 Similarly, for Protestants all they had to go by were ancient patristic texts but no living church tradition that goes back to the early Church.  This leaves them guessing as to what the early Church must have been like.

Quick question: Where is the “link” (since we are talking about dinosaurs) between verifiable apostolic documents and traditions like burning incense to the Queen of Heaven and the iconostasis?  There is none; therefore, he must admit to his own reconstruction.

 Protestants end up having to reconstruct the early Church as they best understood it to have been. The Jesus Movement of the 1970s had house churches where people sat on the floor, played guitars and sang praise songs, and everyone with a Bible in their hands.

More false witness, for he is equating hippies with magisterial protestantism.  Martin Bucer did not think he was reinventing the wheel.  He (and others) didn’t want to worship God in a way that God had promised to kill his covenant people if they worshiped him in those modes.

The Protestant view of history assumes that there once was an apostolic Church but itno longer exists today.  But Protestants and Evangelicals need to ask the question:What if the apostolic Church still exists today?  What if there was a church where the errors of the papacy were avoided?  What if that church was within driving distance today?

You show me the verifiable, written link between the apostles and burning incense to the Queen of Heaven.  I deny that a church that does so is a true church.

But when approached from the standpoint of the Old Testament pattern of worship transformed by the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, the Divine Liturgy makes perfectly good sense.  The vestments worn by Orthodox priests are patterned after those worn by the Old Testament priests.

But the OT worship is types and shadows.  Why are you gong back to types and shadows?  I agree with your comparison.  That is why we don’t do it.

If Jesus Christ is the Passover Lamb who takes away the sins of the world then it makes sense to view the Eucharist as the culmination of the Old Testament sacrificial system.

But if Jesus was once for all sacrificed, then why repeat it?

A careful reading shows that icons have a biblical basis in the Old Testament (Exodus 26, 2 Chronicles 3).

Church art is a different category than saying we worship God through pictorial intermediaries (which Karl Barth defined as the essence of idolatry).  It is bad logic to jump from cherubim on the ark to making a picture of God.   Further, if the OT is types and shadows, then the argument, such that it is, nearly refutes itself!

Protestant ecclesiology assumes a major discontinuity in history.

Said no magisterial Reformer ever.  Third instance of bearing false witness.

Protestant church history is based on the idea that there once was a pure and apostolic Church but that early Church fell into spiritual darkness.

The apostle Paul said that wolves would come in after he left.  He also warned against Hellenistic philosophy.  The Orthodox church is heavily Hellenistic.  Who is the “BOBO” now?

The current Patriarch of Antioch,John X, can trace his apostolic succession back to the first century.

Caiaphas killed Jesus and he could trace his claim back to Aaron.

The early form of church government was episcopal – rule by bishop.  Ignatius of Antiochthe third bishop of Antioch and a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote a series of letters on his way to martyrdom in Rome in 98 or 117 about the importance of obeying the bishop.  In his letters he exhorted people not to celebrate the Eucharist (Lord’s Supper) apart from the bishop

Except that most (all?) Orthodox churches do not have bishops presiding every Lord’s Day.  Which means that “bishop” was understood more along the lines of presiding elder.  The very quote from Ignatius seems to imply this.  Did OB even read it?

Continuity in theology

It’s not enough to claim continuity with the apostles.  The Jesus-murderers could claim continuity with Aaron.  The Episcopals can claim apostolic succession.  You must also, per your reading, claim theological continuity.  Okay, so where was the essence/energies distinction back then?

While Basil did anticipate elements of it, the Cappadocians saw God’s ousia as his divine life, not a hidden interiority.   FTW.

5 comments on “Killing Dinosaurs

  1. John* says:


    A superb post, although with a few weak points. Let me explain:

    1). The Link between Aaron and Annas and Caiaphas is non-existent. The Temple-clergy of the time were politicized appointees – and rarely of the tribe of Levi. This politicization commenced shortly after Onias IV was exiled to Heliopolis in Egypt. The rot was commenced by the Selucid Greeks, was set in stone shortly after Judas Maccabeus left the scene, and was still in place right through to Temple destruction in 70CE.

    Your point about the “Aaronic” succession and Caiaphas could be radically strengthened if you pointed out that it was Classical Hellenism – per vehicle Caiaphas (Hellenised to the core), which was the true initiating cause of Yeshua’s crucifixion, Precisely in line with the policy of Antiochus IV (the “epiphanes” – so radically castigated in Daniel.

    To the extent that OB, and thus Constantinian “christianity” is Hellenised is the extent to which it stands in the unbroken “philosophical succession” to Antiochus IV and Caiaphas. John Chrysostom’s 8 “sermons” against the Jews and the Ambrosian support from Milan for the Greek Orthodox destruction of the Synagogue in Kallinikon in Greece (cica 389CE) likewise stands firmly in this selfsame Hellenized “philosophical succession” as does every anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic activity in this self-same Constantinian “church”.

    Here is just a little background on Ambrose:

    It was in Ambrose of Milan (339 – 397) however, that Constantine is seen (posthumously) in all his glory as a fully-fledged anti-Semite. Born a Pagan in Trier to a high Roman Official (a favourite of Constantine), Ambrose made his first reputation as the provincial governor of Trier under Constantine’s son Constans. A slight, cultured man, educated in the classics, and an eloquent speaker, he was serving as governor in Trier when the people of Milan, well-schooled by Sylvester and his Papal successors, chose him as their bishop. He went through baptism, passage through the ordained clerical ranks to his consecration as bishop – all in eight days! Evidently, being still a pagan was no disqualification to being thought worthy of becoming an Empire bishop in those days! That defect could be remedied rather quickly! And easily, so it seemed.

    2) Mere “tactile-succession” as in some sort of ecclesiastical “conga line” (not hands on the hips of the person in front of you – as in the dance, but hands-on-the-head of the clergy who were to follow you – as per ordination/consecration) is not enough – as you rightly point out. To be legitimate, it must be free of all trace of Hellenism, and must demonstrate clear *unbroken* descent from St James the Just (Yaakov haTzaddik) in Jerusalem.

    What OB and the Orthodox simply cannot stomach is the fact that this tactile “descent” for Jerusalem was broken in 135CE – as I have pointed out elsewhere on this blog. And in 136CE in Rome:

    the problems of the early Roman See:

    Period one : 58 – 136 (Linus to Telesphorus) – seven popes – all Jewish in origin. [No real problem except to later Papal Petrine claims.]

    Period two: 136 – 189 ( Hyginus to Eleutherius) – five popes – all non-Roman in origin.

    Period three: 189 – 217 (Victor and Zephrinius) – two popes – the first mounting of the Imperial pretensions of the See (Victor), with a strategic withdrawal (Zephrinius) to bide their time.

    Period four: 217 – 296 (Callistus to Gaius) – thirteen popes – mostly Roman in origin. Characterised by:

    – four interregnums due to persecution where the college of Roman bishops ruled collegially.

    – two periods when the first conservative anti-Popes (217-235 Hippolytus, 251-258 Novatian) and arose to combat Papal liberalism under three and four pontificates respectively,

    – one continuous stretch 260-296 of four pontificates with liberal nonentities as pope, and

    – the rise of Petrine claims (an interpolated Matt 16:18,19) under a liberal (Stephen I)

    #A: The Petrus / petram rendition/play on words, only works in both Greek and Latin, but not in Matthew’s original Hebrew!
    #B: Yeshua never used Greek in his public discourses – He, in his pre-Incarnate form gave Daniel his visions.

    Ergo: this is an interpolation!

    They were added later when the issue of Petrine authority in the church became a bigger issue.

    Period five: 296 – 314 (Marcellinius to Militades) – four popes – all of Roman origin. Three out of these four committed apostasy, without the local Roman Synod ever formally excommunicating them. Or subsequently insisting on a full “re-admission” penance – if at all!

    3) The Episcopal Office (incorporating both Bishop – episcopos, and Priest – ierus/presbyter) is an exclusively Pauline commodity. Nowhere else in the NT do we find these Greek terms present.

    4) Paul’s constant harping on “*my* tradition, rather than “*our* tradition” – is something that seems to obsess RA on OB. Paul’s use of this in a personal, possessive sense (not necessarily inclusive of St James the Just), rather that the collective sense “our” (inclusive of St James the Just), is clear evidence that OB’s beloved “tradition” so consistently referred-back-to in Paul cannot be traced back to St James the Just.

    5) Re OB’s use of BOBO:

    Rev 13 describes in apocalyptic language, the persecution of the infant Yeshua by the Herod (the Pshat), and a “flight into the wilderness”. It has multiple Remez applications (here are just two):
    a) the flight of Mary Magdalene to Southern France – carrying the True Church there, [Already in the past in 66CE when this was written.]
    b) the retreat of Yeshua’s True Church into the Wilderness (but not now limited to “three and a half” times) for the duration of its persecution by the Hellenized Constantinian “church”. [This would continue down through the ages.]

    It is this second that I wish to note. Here is Yeshua’s True Church disappearing underground (into the wilderness) for the duration of this persecution, occasionally letting a reminder of its continued existence surface down through the centuries in “springs of pure and living water” (RA’s so-called “blink on”) welling up from underground unto everlasting life. And when we explore the caves of this underground Church, we see the beauty of stalactites and stalagmites, and the purity of their crystalline structures – standing in stark contrast to the muddy and turbid watercourses of the Constantinian “church” flowing on the surface – and supposedly containing the “original” form of “apostolic succession” – according to RA.


    I could go on with further points, but I trust that this suffices for now.


  2. Trent says:

    “The current Patriarch of Antioch,John X, can trace his apostolic succession back to the first century.”
    Obama can trace his presidency back to George Washington and Queen Elizabeth’s throne to to the throne of William the Conqueror, so? What does that prove?
    Just thought that was funny since they always appeal to some form of authority and then make a full stop.

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