Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another related blog post...

Maybe this is getting ridiculous, but I found yet another blog discussion related to the ones I've had on here on the canon of scriptures.

5 comments:

mattwatson said...

He says, "[The seminarian] accepts the Protestant tradition that tells him what the canon of the bible contains."

That is exactly right. It's what the Catholics do too, with their canons. A Catholic is born, accepts what his parents/church tell him about the books of the Bible, and later in life, if he is one of those who concerns himself with these things, he reads into the matter to determine why his church teaches him these things. Same for a Protestant. But, the difference is the Catholic thinks his church's tradition is infallible.

Which is what I don't agree with. You can point to a place in the Bible where it talks about tradition, but these tiny passages don't give me the same picture the Roman Catholic tries to give me, that there is this big, grand bank of tradition that determines everything. It uses the word "tradition" to a lesser degree than what Catholics teach.

It's similar to the way Catholics interpret Jesus when he says in Matt. 12:42, "The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, a greater than Solomon is here."

How does this refer to the book of Wisdom of Solomon? I've said "wisdom of Solomon" before without even the slightest knowledge that such a book even existed! It is used in 1 Kings 4:34, 10:4 and 2 Chronicles 9:3.

I bring this up because it seems to me that there is a similar thought pattern behind saying, "The word 'tradition' is used in the Bible to refer to Roman Catholic tradition," and "When Jesus said 'wisdom of Solomon' he was referring to a deutero-canonical book." I just don't get how you can make such sweeping claims, especially about tradition.

I apologize for ranting. These are just my personal soap boxes. I have always tried to find the Catholic's be-all-end-all proof that their church was the one established by Jesus. But it seems that if it was, there would not only be historical evidence, but also places in the Bible where it tells us the great importance and authority of the Roman Catholic Church's tradition. I see neither. Especially the latter.

~Joseph the Worker said...

Let's take a minute and talk about history for a second here. I have heard four varying histories of the Church (simplified view here and what I have had experience and understanding with):

1) The Catholic View that we are the Church founded by Christ and have existed since the beginning.

2) The Orthodox View that we and they are the Church founded by Christ and at some point in time the Pope got the big head and took preeminence over the other Patriarchs.

3) The Mainline Protestant View that the Catholic Church was the one established in 33 A.D but sometime between 100 A.D. and Vatican II (large variation here), the Church fell into apostasy and is no longer the true Church, thus the need for Protestants and the idea of an "invisible Church" instead of a visible one.

4) The Anabaptist View (at least out of that tradition) that the Church has existed since 33 A.D. in a form other than Catholicism. This Church was either hidden from view by the Catholic Church (oppression or simply just too few to be seen behind the "cloud of Romanism") or it actually disappeared literally for a while only to come back at the Reformation Movement (or restoration Movement).

The Church of Christ holds to the fourth position, and the only time I have ever seen it spoken outside of the Church of Christ is in the Baptist Church. Here's the problem:

Positions 1, 2, and 3 all accept history as a field of study outside of the Church. Asking a history professor, an archeologist, people who study ancient manuscripts, or another type of scientist, and they will all give you the same history these are based off of. Only a handful of radical historians go with #4, most of whom are employed by Baptist or Church of Christ schools (my experience). There is no evidence to back this position up.

Positions 1, 2, and 3 are all legitimate from a true historical approach to the Church. The contention rests not on history, but rather on doctrinal issues. A Lutheran, for example, would not be arguing that the Catholic Church wasn't established in the New Testament. Instead he would talk about the corruption of that Church and the need for reform.

Position 4 ignores extremely credible and heavy historical evidence that the Catholic Church has always been in existence. I'll admit that before 100 A.D. there are only one or two documents that talk about what the Church looked like other than the New Testament. The problem with position 4 is that these documents also give witness to the Catholic Tradition (Didache, for instance).

As for the New Testament, Matthew 16 (You are rock and upon this rock I will build my Church) and Jesus didn't use masculine and feminine in his native tongue. He told the Apostles that they had the power to forgive sins, the power to bind and loose, the keys to the gate of Heaven, to "feed his sheep". He also referenced that the Pharisees had authority to teach binding doctrine, even though they did not keep the example. Paul calls the Church the "pillar and ground of the Truth". The scriptures never claim to be the only thing someone needs and actually give witness to oral tradition and delivering things to men who can teach others likewise. We are taught to submit to the authority of the bishops and elders. We are taught in James 5 that the elders (presbyters) are the proper administers of the sacraments. The Book of Revelation is a mirror of the Catholic Liturgy (see the Lamb's Supper Book that Stephanie recommended). Over and over I see the evidence for #1 (although as I said #2 and #3 cannot be ruled out on a historical basis, but on doctrinal differences). #4 has no evidence whatsoever and I'm yet to meet a neutral party who thinks that this history with no credible backing at all is true.

I can show you the Catholic Church in the New Testament, in the Didache, in the writings of the Church Fathers in 100 A.D, 200 A.D., 300 A.D, on to the present time. No Church looked like the Church of Christ until at least the Anabaptists came along, and even they were quite a bit different. The 1800s is the first time we see a Church that believes and practices the same things that the CoC does, and no one outside that denomination would disagree. It just simply didn't happen that way.

mattwatson said...

If number 4 is what the church of Christ holds to, then I am not in agreement, and although I've been taught about this claim more or less, never do I remember any of my teachers saying it was definitely true. In fact, I was talking about this with my preacher a few weeks ago, and we basically agreed that the church of Christ did not really exist during these many years, at least the way we know it today. However, I do believe the very early church did "look" like the church of Christ, not counting vast cultural differences that surely existed. So I am not in disagreement with you here when it comes to history, at least not any more so than mainline Protestants.

Let me say something else, though. Whether the church existed from the time of the Roman Catholic Church to the 19th Century depends on the way one thinks of the church. Are all people in a denomination outside of "the church of Christ" non-Christians? If so, at what point does someone's belief make them "apostate"? [These are rhetorical questions geared toward people in my church, not toward you, of course.] I don't really know the answers to these, and although people in my church debate it, it is at least vague. Perhaps my understanding of it is more "liberal" than others in the church.
P.S. I think to use Jesus talking about how the church is the light and can't be hid to say the church always has to be fully visible is sort of stretching it. I think it would mean that Christians shouldn't hide their light.

mattwatson said...

I think I told you I would leave you alone on this topic for a while ... sorry. I have diarrhea of the mouth disease

~Joseph the Worker said...

Again I'm encouraged by your honesty. I'm beginning to think you might be Lutheran :P