Being the avid advocate of the proclamation Sola Scriptura (not that I’m qualified to even define the term), how could I help but be offended? Oh… you haven’t a clue as to what I’m talking about? Well, here… read these statements for yourself.
Statement A: “Unlike Protestants, who make heroes of those who break away from another group and start their own, in the early Church this was considered among the most damnable sins .”
Statement B: “Obviously, one of three statements is true: either (1) there is no correct Tradition and the gates of hell did prevail against the Church, and thus both the Gospels and the Nicene Creed are in error; or (2) the true Faith is to be found in Papism, with its ever-growing and changing dogmas defined by the infallible “vicar of Christ;” or (3) the Orthodox Church is the one Church founded by Christ and has faithfully preserved the Apostolic Tradition. So the choice for Protestants is clear: relativism, Romanism, or Orthodoxy.”
Yes, yes! I’m still here rambling over the article at Jim’s place (that guy sure doesn’t tolerate any itching ears). Don’t I have anything better to do, you ask? Probably, but as I said, “These words sting!”
I must admit, at first glance, these arguments sound plausible. After all, John did say that those who left the fellowship were simply proving they were never of the fellowship. Also, Jesus made it very clear that He would build His Church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. Meaning, we should be able to trace the history of the Church all the way back to Pentecost, with no breaks. Right?
Can we do this? Is there a unsevered historical trail of the Church’s existence? If so, does it add credence to the author’s points from his article? Should Luther’s revelation (faith alone) have led him to the receptive arms of the Orthodox Church, rather than the Reformation (Okay, Mrs. C, you asked for a re-visit, and Turkey Day is gone… quickly, Christmas is coming!)?
I am no scholar. Nor has anyone ever identified me as a theologian. As a matter of fact, on most days, I find myself confounded by the words, “For God so loved the world (me), that He gave His only begotten Son.”
Still, it seems that the Bible presents those who have entered the ecclesia, the fellowship of called-out ones, the Church, as those who have been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Isn’t the Church made up of believers of all walks of life, from every nation and every generation? Don’t we have differences? My goodness, what a silly question… of course we do. Isn’t that what makes the Church unique; what makes it the Body of Christ? No earthly organization could survive if it were structured as Jesus builds His Church. Diversity and yet in Unity!
Gaining some guidance from my Pastor (thanks, Joey), he reminded me that Paul could speak to one audience and say, “honor that day if you choose to,” and then to another, “you really don’t have to honor that day.” Why? Because the Church finds its all in Jesus, and in nothing else. Does it mean it’s wrong to pay respect to past heroes of the Church? I don’t see how. Does it mean we have to pay them respect? No… although I think we would be much better off if we spent time learning the history of the Church, and of those who went before in the name of Jesus. We’d probably understand why some do the things they do and others do not, and we might even find it possible to respect our brothers and sisters in Christ who conduct church differently than we do.
I guess I fail to find the necessity of division over the less essential doctrines and traditions. Do we divide the fellowship of believers over the time of day that Easter (or Paschal, or Resurrection Sunday) is celebrated? (Yes, that’s recorded in history)
Or do we hear the words of Jesus, “By this all will know you are My disciples, that you love one another.” And then work together, without pride and self-serving attitudes to seek the truths, maybe truths that can only be found through the Traditions of the Church Fathers.
[A special thanks to Jim, author at ‘Not For Itching Ears‘ for his willingness to present views from abroad, doctrinal beliefs that have been intact for a long, long time, and we should be willing to allow them to be heard. ]