No salvation outside of (which?) church

People think I make this stuff up.  Now if someone says, “You aren’t reading the context,”  fair enough.  But if we have to qualify it with “context,” then we need to stop making blanket condemnations of Protestants.

“Whoever denies Orthodox hesychasm is excommunicated by this Council (of St. Gregory Palamas), and whoever cannot understand the hesychastic life shows that he does not have the mind-set of the Church.” Eminence Hierotheos Vlachos, Metropolitan of Nafpaktos

Concerning the necessity of not permitting heretics to come into the house of God, so long as they persist in their heresy. (Canon 6 of the Council of Laodicea)

Do not err, my brethren: if anyone follow a schismatic, he will not inherit the Kingdom of God. St. Ignatius Of Antioch, Epistle to the Philadelphians, 3:2-4:1

He that saith not ‘Anathema’ to those in heresy, let him be anathema. (Seventh Ecumenical Council) [I can agree with this statement depending on who means what by heresy]

Neither the Papist nor the Protestant church can be considered as the True church of Christ. The first was altered by a number of innovations and the accursed despotism (Primacy) due to which resulted the schism from the Orthodox. The same goes for the Protestants whose innumerable innovations lead to total anarchy and chaos. Only the Orthodox church maintained the teachings of Christ flawlessly without a single innovation (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

Those that are not reborn by the divine grace in the only One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, they do not consist of (comprise) any church, neither visible nor invisible. (St. Nektarios of Aegina)

 

 

An Olive branch to the Orthodox?

Maybe.  While I criticize the weaker and more beggarly arguments against Reformed Protestantism, I fear that might mean I don’t see anything good in Orthodoxy.  I want to put that misconception to rest.

To Those Orthodox Who Fight the New World Order

My hat is off to you.   You have seen the occultic underpinnings of modern society.  You know that the Regime wants (and pursues) a war to the death with any kind of principled Christianity.  You have refused to compromise with Freemasonry and the power elites. The mainstream Orthodox do not love you, yet you truly know St Cyril of Jerusalem’s statement, “In the last days believers will fight with antichrist in the flesh.”

If some Reformed guy came up to me and said, “I think I might convert to Orthodoxy because, you know, liturgy and apostolic succession and the are ‘the only True Church (TM)’ and stuff,” well, that is not intellectually justifiable or warranted.

But if someone came up to me and said, “I’ve really wrestled with what Fr Raphael Johnson has been saying and I think he has a point…I think I might become ‘true’ Orthodox.”  Well, I will disagree with you, but as long as you know the hardship ahead of you, I can respect that.  And I can join you in our fight against Antichrist.

But now comes the dialectic.  Now comes the antithesis.  What of Orthodoxy in America today?

Will They Become Liberal Hipsterdox?

Maybe.  It will be worth watching. While I have problems with the former Metr. Jonah’s semi-Pelagianism, he was removed in areas for which he probably took biblical stands.   I hope American Orthodox can resist the Lavender Mafia.   Until two years ago, my money would have been on OCA that they could.  I am not so sure anymore.  The Greek church, while conservative in conciliar theology, is liberal in social issues.

We aren’t saying what Augustine said

In East-West discussions on original and actual sin, it’s sometimes assumed that the West holds to Augustine’s view.  Augustine worked off of the following translation of Romans 5:12,

in quo omnes peccaverunt

which is translated,

“in whom all sinned.”

Eastern Orthodox correctly point out that is wrong.  The Greek reads

eph ho pantes hemarton

Hoekema suggests the idiom eph ho should be translated “because” or “since.”  We still have the problem of identifying the connection between our pre-temporal sinning in Adam and Adam’s sin; nevertheless, Scripture seems to affirm it.  The problem remaining is that those who haven’t yet lived are said “to have sinned.”

Over-honoring Mary?

Starting a new category on mariology.  I hope people don’t take this the wrong away.  I am not saying that honoring Mary is wrong.  I am not even saying that Anchoretism’s special honoring of Mary is wrong, but I am pointing out how these unguarded statements will usually be interpreted by the less-educated.

In the very words of Cabasilas, ‘Mary’s blood became God’s blood,’ by the ineffable communicatio idiomatum and by her personal effort to raise fallen humanity to its original purity and perfection. Even more so, she recreated earth and heaven and united them—angels and men–by showing to them, more directly and more clearly than ever before, the ‘enhypostasized wisdom and love of God,’ the very God and their Savior Himself. She is, therefore, the very first and last created human being who represents microcosmic and macrocosmic perfection, having fulfilled God’s purpose of creation: the original and ideal humanity perfectly united with His love and will.

Basically, everything Protestants have said of Jesus, Cabasilas is saying of Mary.  This is the most basic textbook definition of idolatry.

because our Lady is the first ‘divinized’ human creature, making all men able to rise to deification by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

I have no problem with theosis.  I have no problem with saying the Holy spirit divinizes us into the image of Christ.  That’s classic Reformed teaching on sanctification + glorification.   I Have a problem with making Mary the active agent.

That is why Gregory Palamas calls the Mother of God ‘the boundary between the created and the uncreated,’

When I translated Genesis 1 from Hebrew, one of the more powerful repetitions was raquiyy, boundary or division.  I don’t think God was thinking about Mary when he said that.

(Constantine N. Tsirpanlis, _The Mariology of Nicholas Cabasilas_)

 

Did Mary Sin?

When I was looking sympathetically into Eastern Orthodoxy, statements like this bothered me.  It could have been because I was an evil Western logical Protestant, but still.  Logic and Augustino-Paul aside, something just seems off with this:

The ‘middle wall and barrier of enmity’ were of no account to her; indeed, everything that divided the human race from God was abolished as far as she was concerned. Even before the common reconciliation, she alone had made peace with God; or rather, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning, she was never in any need of reconciliation, since from the very beginning she stood foremost in the choir of the friends of God.” –

St. Nicholas Cabasilas (Homily on the Annunciation)

O victorious leader of triumphant hosts! We your servants, delivered from evil, sing our grateful thanks to you, O Theotokos! As you possess invincible might,(that kind of language is usually used about divinity; yikes) set us free from every calamity so that we may sing: Rejoice, O unwedded Bride!

-from the Akathist to the Mother of God, although not part of the original. This First Kontakion was added after the siege of Constantinople.   The language of unwedded bride is simply bad.  She was wed.  With Joseph.  The Bible intimates she had sex with Joseph.  God’s law said one could divorce the other if one refused sex.  Hebrews would have wanted to have married sex.  Unless they were influenced by Greek Alexandria. 

The Life-Giving Font”

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?FSID=32

“O most favored by God, you confer on me the healing of your grace from your inexhaustible Spring. Therefore, since you gave birth incomprehensibly to the Word, I implore you to refresh me with the dew of your grace that I might cry to you: Hail, O Water of salvation.”

What does the hymn mean by “inexhaustible spring?”  Anchorites are quick to say that even though they invoke Mary for salvation, it’s really Jesus that saves.  Even if that distinction holds, this line weakens it. I’ll assume that inexhaustible Spring means Jesus, and what’s really at stake is that Mary was the economia of bringing salvation into the world.  That interpretation could work, but if that’s true then why isn’t it in the past tense?  Economia is historical language.  Why are they invoking it now?  Secondly, it seems to place Mary in a hierarchical scheme between us and Jesus.  This validates Tillich’s charge that the saints replaced the Forms in ancient thought.

Re Reading Bible as Tradition

The more I read Anchorite apologetics, the more I realize they never deal with Reformed Presbyterians, but Baptists. That’s cool. Baptists are ubiquitous. The problem is the subconscious projection of Baptist mentality upon Magisterial Presbyterianism.

Reading the Bible as Tradition by Andrew Stephen Damick.

Interestingly, I had this same thought yesterday.  Question:  is the LXX translation also a tradition?  It most certainly is, since translations are tradition. I’ll come back to that.

I recently came across a conversation online in which someone insisted that he didn’t need tradition at all, because he had the Bible.

This statement is universally rejection by our confessions (though it is the American mindset, sadly).

If you are reading the Bible for yourself at home , then you are unlike most Christians in history, most of whom could never afford a Bible and many of whom could not read.

I agree 100%.  This is why our confessions say that especially the preaching of the Word of God.  This reinforces the Verbal Ontology that is from God’s revelation.  So I say “amen” to the good father.

If you believe that the Bible’s meaning is simply apparent to you without anyone’s help, then you are discounting everything you have learned about what the Bible means from other people and even what language itself means

Again, I agree.  The above mentality, typical of American evangelicals but firmly rejected by Confessional Protestants, is simply Greek autonomy in new dress.  The desire for unmediated truth.

If you are reading a translation of the Bible, then you are trusting someone else’s word about what it says. The Bible never says it’s okay to use translations, and it doesn’t endorse one over another.

This is a good rebuttal to King James Onlyism.  I would like to add my own thoughts.  We see the apostles using both the LXX and the Hebrew traditions.

If you are reading the Bible in the original languages, then you not only had someone teach you Greek or Hebrew, but you also made a choice or accepted someone else’s choice when it came to which version of the Biblical text you would read. There are multiple manuscript traditions, and they’re not all the same.

See above.  I took years of textual criticism and this is old hat.

If you are reading the Old Testament in Hebrew, then you’re not using the Old Testament most often used by the apostles in their writings, which was the Greek Septuagint, a translation of the Old Testament made by Greek-speaking Jews completed perhaps as early as the late second century BC.

I dispute that it’s overwhelmingly so.  What we don’t see from the apostles is a clear endorsement of the LXX over the Hebrew, nor does it vindicate a lot of the LXX’s goofiness as a whole.

If you are reading the Old Testament at all, then you are benefiting from the Jewish community’s traditions of textual transmission and editing—and not just the Jewish community in general, but particular parties within Judaism, which as a whole had several different incipient canons all by the time of Christ. And within the text itself, there are clear signs that not everything written under someone’s name is from that person. For instance, the Books of Numbers and Deuteronomy, both attributed to Moses, include the details of his death and burial. How could Moses have written that? He didn’t. Those details were included in a process of tradition.

There is a lot of stupidity in American evangelicalism, but this borders on insulting their intelligence.  Anyone with even a mediocre study bible knows all of this.

And the Bible you read may have a different Old Testament than the one the apostles did, i.e., not just different in language but with a different list of books (the Septuagint includes books like Tobit, Baruch and the Maccabees).

But in his above point he conceded that the Judaisms had multiple canons.  How does he know that the apostles are using the Hellenized Alexandrian canon and not the Hebraic Palestinian one?   Textual scholarship is by no means leaning towards the former view.   After Beckwith it is hard to even countenance it.

But what I try to tell anchorites is that Protestants hold to tradition in a ministerial sense.

It’s impossible to read the Bible without tradition. Tradition gave you the Bible. So the question really is: Which tradition?

I’ll take it a step further:  how do you know which tradition in a non-circular manner? This problem is by no means limited to sola scriptura.  It is the heart of every claim to authority.

Argument: The Apostolic Church teaches it, therefore it must be so.

Dilemma: This is 100% circular reasoning. In order to accept this, you have to first accept the presupposition that the “apostolic” church in question is infallible, which is in and of itself circular reasoning. It should likewise be noted that I have heard this argument made even when all previous evidence already stated in this post has been brought forward. At this point, it’s just appealing to authority of the individual church group, despite evidence that this group is in error.

Are Reformed Really this naive?

I try not to keep interacting with Orthodox Bridge.   I certainly can’t comment over there, given their commitment to triumphalist rhetoric.  However, as bad and insulting as some of their articles are, they can be helpful to Protestants.  If you are a Protestant looking at Orthodoxy, yet you also really know what you believe as a Protestant (an increasing rarity), and you see Orthodox guys reading your beliefs as such, you will be insulted.  Similarly, I am doing the Orthodox a favor.  If they will take my comments seriously, they will be better able to help honest seekers who know that the smarter Reformed, even if they are wrong, probably aren’t this intellectually stupid.

I am not going to interact with the whole article.  It is somewhat self-feeding and you get the idea after a while.  It is about a Jewish convert to Orthodoxy who detoured through low church evangelicalism.

The bad news is that often I would decide for myself what the Scriptures meant.

This is ambiguous.   If he is saying “my mental faculties were functioning correctly and I was able to use syntax to figure out what the sentence said” then there is no problem.  This is simply how language works.  If he is saying, “I found out the meaning apart from any interpretive community,” then it is naive.  But no Confessional Reformed church believes that.

I mean, I took sola scriptura (“only the Bible”) seriously!

No, you didn’t.  That is not what sola scriptura means.  It means the Bible is the norm that norms our norms.   If you don’t understand that sentence then you need to quit apologetics for a while and study some more.

Let me hasten to say that the Bible is all God intends it to be. No problem with the Bible. The problem lay in the way I individualized it, subjecting it to my own personal interpretations-some not so bad, others not so good

Every evangelical leans this in the first 5 minutes of hermeneutics 101.

In fact, it seemed to me that the more one held to the Bible as the only source of spiritual authority, the more factious and sectarian one became.

My tradition, the Westminster Confession, explicitly condemns the above statement.

Even the Old Testament was still in the process of formulation, for the Jews did not decide upon a definitive list or canon of Old Testament books until after the rise of Christianity.

This isn’t exactly true.   Paul’s statement that the Jews received the oracles of God would be meaningless if those silly Jews couldn’t identify the oracles of God.

Interestingly, it is this later version of the Jewish canon of the Old Testament, rather than the canon of early Christianity, that is followed by most modern Protestants today.

After Beckwith’s book on the Old Testament, few scholars seriously hold the above line.  Granted, if it falls much of Anchorite apologetics crashes to the ground, so they have a vested interest.

The rest of the article is too painful to continue.  If Orthodox Bridge wants to operate with childish notions of Evangelical scholarship, that is their prerogative.  I know they think that converts by the dozen are fleeing the Evangelical world, but I suspect those numbers are inflated.   I will leave them with some key evangelical works on hermeneutics:

Kevin Vanhoozer, First Theology.

Michael Horton, Covenant and Eschatology

James K. A. Smith, The Fall of Interpretation

Merold Westphal, Whose Community? Which Interpretation?

If you are even remotely familiar with the arguments in the above texts, then you can’t keep with silly posts like above.  If you choose to ignore these above arguments, then you’ve essentially conceded the game.