The Church Before the Bible

Discussion in 'Faith, Devotion & Formation' started by bwallac2335, Jul 5, 2020.

  1. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think that this is the flawed premise in your basic framework of this. It isn’t as if there was a core group of people, or some privileged collective, who carried the correct canon across the centuries, until the later Church ratified that canon based on nothing except their passed-on secret knowledge.

    That’s the Roman narrative of how the canon was assembled, and it’s mistaken at its root: there was no secret pristine knowledge, and there was no special group of people.

    Put it simply, when time came for the Church to openly say that this was the canon and no other, they used records and scholarship of the texts, much like what we’d do today, to determine which works were of an apostolic lineage and which weren’t. Some works, such as the Gospel of Thomas, they excluded not because it was “outside the tradition”; in fact some Church Fathers quotes it as Scripture, and never viewed it as “outside the tradition”. It was rejected simply because scholarship revealed that it was written in the 2nd century, and thus a forgery. And those Fathers, and their “traditions” were simply wrong.

    Other works, such as the Book of Enoch, they excluded not because it was “outside the tradition” but simply by the study of the OT and NT manuscripts. And yet the Ethiopian Church DOES include the book of Enoch in their bibles, and they believe it IS within the tradition. (And as we know it is even quoted in the New Testament!)

    And so on. The Third Epistle of Peter. The Gospel of Mary. The churchmen went through each work which claimed to be of inspired authorship, and consulted NOT their traditions, for traditions were disparate and irreconcilable; but rather they consulted scholarship and evidence.

    The role of the Holy Ghost is evident not in the final assemblage, which can be done by pure scholarship; but rather by the fact that the various lists of the canon in prior centuries, are so similar to it. Even prior to a scientific gathering of the canon, there were people in the prior 2st, 3rd, 4th centuries who had pretty much the final product already in their hand. They couldn’t prove that theirs was the “real” canon, and they certainly never cited some secret Tradition that told them these were the books and no others. They just happened to have these books; others had other books. And in the end it was scientifically determined that theirs was the right canon all along.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2020
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  2. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    The Church asked Constantine to bring peace to the Church.

    A Synod convened and led by Hosius of Córdoba (Spain) in Eastertide of 325 asked Constantine to resolve the Arian problem. This synod investigated the Arian controversy in the east. The bishops found the teachings of Arius heretical and dangerous to the salvation of souls. In the summer of 325, the bishops of all provinces were summoned to Nicaea, a place reasonably accessible to many delegates, particularly those of Asia Minor, Georgia, Armenia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace.​

    I think it is untidy, and perhaps a little judgmental to describe Constantine as becoming a nominal believer. His mother was Christian. Whilst much of what he did might offend the tender sensitivities of our generation, I think it is unfair to declare him a nominal Christian. He certainly saw benefit in a Church which could express some homogeneity throughout the republic.

    Constantine was complex, the Edict of Milan was an amazing moment for the Church. Constantine adopted a Chi Rho as his monogram, attributed the victory at Milvian Bridge to the Chi Rho he had seen in the sky, and to the God of the Christians. He was also Pontifex Maximus - a cultic leader in the Roman Cultic Religion. He was a politician, he was hard on inlaws, and his wife Fausta found herself in hot water.

    Nova Romanum was dedicated the the Virgin Mother of God. The worship centre attached to the Palace in the New Capital was Hagia Irene - a Christian Church. I don't think complex is anything like nominal.
     
  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I agree, of course with what you say here, and would also want to make clear that when I said the church was 'pressured' I didn't mean the church was frogmarched by Constantine into doing something it didn't want to do or that it saw as undesirable. Quite the contrary in fact, though I'm not quite so confident that he ever really became a fully fledged follower of Christ, that will be a matter between him and Jesus, none of my business.

    Constantine helped the church get its house in order. Similarly Henry the VIII did not really found the Anglican Church. The church in England was already contemplating reform and separation from Rome on intractable doctrinal issues long before Henry wanted another divorce and wasn't allowed one. Since Wycliffe it was recognised that Rome was far from right on many theological issues which the church in England found repugnant to the true faith as delivered to the saints. Henry took advantage of that for his own political reasons, (in fact he rather liked the RC church and would have been quite content to remain in it had he managed to get a male heir earlier on in his tryranical reign). It just suited Henry to start his own branch church and put himself in the second to top job with only Jesus as his boss without the Pope as Jesus's next in chain of command.

    An adage worth repeating here though is: "the church wrote everything that went into the bible, the bible did not therefore make the church". The church is made by Christ. Matt.16:18.

    The church's one foundation is Jesus Christ her Lord.
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    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  5. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The Christian Church is not a new Church, but identical with that of Israel. There is but one olive-tree and it lives on (Rom.11:6-36). The Christian Church is founded on the same covenant and on the same Gospel: the promise of redemption by Christ. Because of the continuity of the covenant the new Israel is grafted into the old, and there is now but a single people.

    This doctrine, according to which the Church is today founded on the Abrahamic covenant-in other words, that the plan of salvation revealed in the Gospel was revealed to Abraham (Gal.3:8), and to the saints of the Old Testament, and that they were saved in exactly the same manner as has been the case with men since the coming of Christ, namely, by faith in Christ - this doctrine is not revealed to us in Scripture in an incidental manner. It forms an integral part of the very substance of the Gospel. It is present in the teaching of our Lord, who came to fulfil and not to abolish the promise (Lk. 24. 27), and who bade those who interrogated Him to search the Scriptures of the Old Testament if they wished to understand what He, the Christ, was teaching.

    The Apostles did just the same. The Christians at Berea were praised because they examined the Scriptures every day in order to verify whether the doctrines taught by the Apostles accorded with this infallible norm (Acts 17:11). These messengers of Christ made constant reference to the Old Testament in support of their teaching. Paul said that the Gospel which he preached had already been taught in the law and the prophets (Rom. 3:21-31). He declared to the Gentiles that they were grafted into the old olive-tree so that they might partake of its root and sap (Rom. 11:17).

    It is thus entirely illegitimate to maintain that there is an essential contrast between the New Testament covenant of grace and that same covenant in the Old Testament. The Gospel covenant of grace is the prolongation of the Abrahamic covenant. The Christian Church is the continuation of the Church of Israel.

    There are some who will not subscribe to these conclusions in view of principles which they esteem as superior. I would just suggest that they do not appear to regard themselves to be bound by the exegesis of the Apostles. That then calls into question whether their exegisis in the matter is at all Apostolic.
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    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    The article makes a very interesting read and gels well with what I had already discovered of church history and Constantines part in it.

    The Chi Rho still figures prominently in Christian symbolism even today. Constantine single handedly seems to have 'restored ?' to Christianity the Jewish concept of God taking sides and winning battles for those whom God favours.

    "In Hoc Signo Vinces" did quite a lot of damage to the church's understanding of the teaching of Christ, which previously had been adamantly pacifist under the persecuted church period for the first 300 years of its existence. Constantine changed all that and in a very short time it then became the rioting pagan persecuting church, (citations available if required), and it is a matter of conjecture whether that has been beneficial or not to the effectiveness of The Gospel. Certainly this 'alignment' with Old Testament concepts of a vengeful warlike God who takes sides and wins battles on behalf of his favoured, most righteous warriors has reversed the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth to a considerable degree that has never been fully recovered in the visible church on earth, to this very day.

    Perhaps a thread asking the question "Was God actually involved in the Battle of Milvan Bridge" might be in order, to see the degree to which the 'God of Battles and Lord of Hosts' concept, has now infiltrated the ranks of the just.
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