RESOURCE: Fathers professing sola scriptura

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by Toma, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. Toma

    Toma Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The early Church Fathers relied upon the Holy Bible. The Canon was not defined until the Council of Trent, in the West. Carthage made an attempt in the 390s, but that was a local and not an ecumenical council. John of Damascus in the 8th century lists the Canon of twenty-two books (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith: Book 4, chapter 17), which the King James Version and Luther Bible use.

    The Bible was not compiled by the Catholic Church, but was written to the Catholic Church by God, via the apostles and their close associates. Please be careful to note the way Paul opens nearly all his letters: "Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to the Church of God which is sojourning at Corinth" is a good example. He never said that he was writing for the Church, as a messenger of the Church, or as the Church.

    The Apostles viewed their declarations as being directed to the Church. This certainly destroys the notion that "The Church" itself made the Bible; rather, the Church accepted those epistles of Paul and the others which were ancient and authentic. It utterly subjugated itself to scripture.

    The O.P. contains quotes which make no sense if the pre-A.D. 400 Fathers didn't know what the Bible was. How could they demand fidelity to scripture that didn't exist? Chrysostom and Augustine, at various times, say "get yourselves a bible". They were preaching before the canon was supposedly finalised.

    Furthermore, twelve Fathers are for a Hebrew-only canon, not the Septuagint canon. There is tremendous unity among those great ancients.
     
  2. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    I thought the canon was set in Carthage sometime around 397?
     
  3. Scottish Monk

    Scottish Monk Well-Known Member

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    I continue to be betwixt and between on this issue.

    Two months ago I donated two bookcases full of evangelical Bible study aids and commentaries to a local evangelical church--after I found the traditional Anglican church in my community. Over the past few years I found that I spent more time reading what others thought about Scripture, than reading Scripture itself. So, as I have reported in these forums before, I solved the problem by giving all of those books away. Period.

    I still have a few study bibles and other aids, as I have posted elsewhere on this forum.

    But, what my soul most enjoys is the reading (saying, singing, chanting) of Scripture and traditional hymns. At times, I actually confess my time spent on these Anglican forums. I sometimes wonder what would happen if I cut back to a single copy of each: Bible, Book of Common Prayer, and Anglican hymnal--and threw the computer in the trash.

    And now, here comes the betwixt and between part--I enjoy sharing what I have learned in the past and am learning each day. Sometimes I have found that people are not really interested in what I have to share with them. They are more interested in telling me what is on their mind, dismissing what I say. I guess this is their version of sharing with me. (chuckle. chuckle.)

    ...Scottish Monk
     
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  4. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Interesting realization; and one that jolts me back to what is important.


    You'd probably have a more peaceful life.

    ...Scottish Monk[/quote]

    What you say matters to me. :) After all, you're the only one who has helped with the morning/day star issue. I've considered all that information, and am grateful for our discussion. Hoping for more. Actually, I've been watching my inbox to see what you have to say about my last message.

    Peace and blessings,
    Anna
     
  5. Adam Warlock

    Adam Warlock Well-Known Member

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    Please keep sharing it. I've really enjoyed it!
     
  6. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

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    Isn't the common a time for promoting unity within the church? The unity of the church remains on the things I prayer for every day. :) These days there seems to be more division then there ever was...
     
  7. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    [Sidebar to the Sola Scriptura issue]

    Scottish Knight,

    In looking back through this thread, I realized I never answered your question: many apologies!

    The 39 Articles help define what is meant by the "Church."

    XIX. Of the Church.
    The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.
    As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred, so also the Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of Faith.

    XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
    The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.

    XXI. Of the Authority of General Councils.
    [The Twenty-first of the former Articles is omitted; because it is partly of a local and civil nature, and is provided for, as to the remaining parts of it, in other Articles.]
    The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article, omitted in the version of 1801, reads as follows: "General Councils may not be gathered together without the commandment and will of Princes. And when they be gathered together, (forasmuch as they be an assembly of men, whereof all be not governed with the Spirit and Word of God,) they may err, and sometimes have erred, even in things pertaining unto God. Wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture."

    XXXIV. Of the Traditions of the Church.
    It is not necessary that Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places one, or utterly like; for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversity of countries, times, and men's manners, so that nothing be ordained against God's Word. Whosoever, through his private judgment, willingly and purposely, doth openly break the Traditions and Ceremonies of the Church, which be not repugnant to the Word of God, and be ordained and approved by common authority, ought to be rebuked openly, (that others may fear to do the like,) as he that offendeth against the common order of the Church, and hurteth the authority of the Magistrate, and woundeth the consciences of the weak brethren.
    Every particular or national Church hath authority to ordain, change, and abolish, Ceremonies or Rites of the Church ordained only by man's authority, so that all things be done to edifying.

    Earlier in the thread I quoted an article by Fr. Jonathan (who has posted here a few times) entitled, Ask an Anglican: Confessionalism Vs. Conciliarity, Posted on October 16, 2011 (http://conciliaranglican.com/2011/10/16/ask-an-anglican-confessionalism-vs-conciliarity/) which explains the concerns regarding Sola Scriptura and also expresses classical Anglicanism as seeking to guide us again and again back to the mind of the early Church. So, I think Fr. Jonathan's article is helpful in understanding the meaning of "Church."

    ["There was a wide range of beliefs amongst the different Protestant groups that emerged on the European continent during the sixteenth century, but what all of these Protestants shared in common was a belief in sola scriptura, the idea that Holy Scripture is not only the highest source of authority for doctrine but the only source. . . .

    . . . . .By contrast, classical Anglicanism seeks to guide us again and again back to the mind of the early Church. And the early Church was conciliar. While there may be a multitude of ways of reading the Scriptures that would produce clear and logical systems of doctrine, there is no guarantee that these systems are trustworthy if the Church, led by Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, has not been given the chance to deliberate. Jesus Christ did not come to us to establish a Bible study. He came to establish a Church. Even within the Scriptures themselves, we see the early Church coming together in council, led by the Holy Spirit, to respond to difficult questions about the faith (see, for instance, Acts 15:1-22). This is, in fact, one of the purposes of the episcopate, to be able to bring the Church together in this way, to guard the flock of Christ against error (Acts 20:28). Eliminate the episcopacy and conciliarity goes with it. And once conciliarity is gone, almost any teaching can become viable, no matter how strange or novel. . . ."]

    I think we must consider the Apostolic faiths, including Catholics in Communion with Rome and Eastern Orthodox, in our discussion of the "Church." As I said earlier in the thread: There is no good reason to abandon all Christian practices that came before Luther nailed his "ninety-five theses" to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, or to abandon all that came before King Henry VIII broke with Rome.

    We can learn much from the Apostolic faiths. There were and are areas in which Rome has erred; but we don't need to reinvent the wheel--a sentiment expressed by Adam Warlock earlier in the thread:
    We must also consider that we are all part of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is also the idea of "Church" expressed by Scottish Monk:
    A similar sentiment was expressed by Adam Warlock:
    I hope this helps.

    You asked a huge question (which really deserves a thread of its own), and I'm quite certain I did not do it justice in my reply.

    Peace and blessings,
    Anna
     
  8. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Anna, that was a detailed answer to my question
    The quote from Fr Jonathan stood out for me:
    "but what all of these Protestants shared in common was a belief in sola scriptura, the idea that Holy Scripture is not only the highest source of authority for doctrine but the only source. . . "

    This is interesting especially in regards to the quote from the articles that councils may err.

    Do you think there is a difference to say scripture is the only source for doctrine and scripture being the only infallible source?

    I was listening to R C Sproul's lecture on sola scriptura today and he gave a fascinating story from the 4th session of the council of Trent which stated in the early draft that special revelation was to be found partly in scripture and partly in tradition. Two Italian priests objected to this as they pointed out this undermines the sufficiency of scripture. what happened next is not recorded `but the final draft excludes the word "partly" which makes the meaningmore ambigious. As it could be argued it could mean that the scripture contains the revealed revealtion and these same truths can also be found in tradition. - or that the Bible is an incomplete record of God's revelation and needs tradition to give a full account. If anyone knows who this anglican scholar is who wrote about this, I'd be interested to know. I found it fascinating as it showed the argument of the sufficiency of scripture wasn't confined to the protestant movement.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j45czYrPJfI
    I hope I can get away putting up a video by a presbyterian, but he does mention an anglican in the video :p
    I was also reading Alistair McGrath's book "mere theology" today on the bus and noticed how he used three headings in one chapter of his book "Bible" "Reason" and "Tradition". and he writes "Traditionally, Christian theology has seen reason as operating in a subservient role to revelation" (2010, p10)

    Would it be fair to say that in Anglican theology reason and tradition are very important but act in a supporting role to scripture?
     
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  9. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    Anna wrote:
    "There is no good reason to abandon all Christian practices that came before Luther nailed his "ninety-five theses" to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenberg, or to abandon all that came before King Henry VIII broke with Rome."

    I agree. I have a book on church history called "2000 years of Christ's power" (a great title for a book on church history). And a connection to the past is important. One thing I've noticed on CF (christian forums) about many rc/orthodox converts from protestantism is they wanted to be part of an historic church and felt the reformation churches lacked a sense of continuation with the early church Perhaps a sense of history needs to be worked on by some protestants.This thread that Remembrance has started has been brilliant in showing this continuity from the early church to the reformation. There can be seen a building on and clarification of early principles and beliefs by the reformers. We didn't suddenly pop onto the scene in a theological vacuum
     
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  10. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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  11. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

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    I'm interested too in Luther's writing's on sola scriptura. So far I can only find this from his writings:

    Our Papists, however, cite such statements [opinions] of men in order that men should believe in their horrible, blasphemous, and cursed traffic in masses for souls in purgatory [or in sacrifices for the dead and oblations], etc. But they will never prove these things from Augustine. Now, when they have abolished the traffic in masses for purgatory, of which Augustine never dreamt, we will then discuss with them whether the expressions of Augustine without Scripture [being without the warrant of the Word] are to be admitted, and whether the dead should be remembered at the Eucharist. 15] For it will not do to frame articles of faith from the works or words of the holy Fathers; otherwise their kind of fare, of garments, of house, etc., would have to become an article of faith, as was done with relics. [We have, however, another rule, namely] The rule is: The Word of God shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel. (Smalkald articles 2:15)

    Edit: some more quotes from Luther on God's Word;

    "We ought not to criticize, explain, or judge the Scriptures by our mere reason, but diligently, with prayer, meditate thereon, and seek their meaning. The devil and temptations also afford us occasion to learn and understand the Scriptures, by experience and practice. Without these we should never understand them, however diligently we read and listened to them. The Holy Ghost must here be our only master and tutor" (Tabletalk 1:4)
     
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  12. Anna Scott

    Anna Scott Well-Known Member

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    Scottish Knight,
    Thanks so much for the quotes. I'm thinking maybe this issue deserves its own thread. So, I won't comment here. I'll start a thread and quote you, there. :)
     
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