Are Protestants Beyond Hope?

Discussion in 'Other Christian Denominations' started by Jacob Dahlen, May 8, 2006.

  1. Jacob Dahlen

    Jacob Dahlen
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    Since my conversion from Evangelical Protestantism to the Orthodox Faith, I have noted a general amazement among many of those who have been raised Orthodox that a Protestant could be converted. This is not because they are uncertain about their own faith, usually they are just amazed that anything could break through a Protestants stubborn insistence on being wrong! What I have come to understand is that most Orthodox people have a confused and limited grasp of what Protestantism is, and where its adherents are coming from. Thus when "cradle Orthodox" believers have their run-ins with Protestants, even though they often use the same words, they do not generally communicate because they do not speak the same theological language — in other words, they have no common theological basis to discuss their differences. Of course when one considers the some twenty thousand plus differing Protestant groups that now exist (with only the one constant trait of each group claiming that it rightly understands the Bible), one must certainly sympathize with those that are a bit confused by them.

    Despite all that stands in their way, there definitely is hope for Protestants. Protestants in search of theological sanity, of true worship, and of the ancient Christian Faith are practically beating on our Church doors (of course to those who are not paying attention, this may sound like a strange claim). They are no longer satisfied with the contradictions and the faddishness of contemporary Protestant America, but when we open the door to these inquirers we must be prepared. These people have questions! Many of these inquirers are Protestant ministers, or are among the better informed laymen; they are sincere seekers of Truth, but they have much to unlearn and it will require informed Orthodox Christians to help them work through these issues — Orthodox Christians who know where Protestants are coming from, but even more importantly, who know what they believe themselves!

    Ironically (or providentially) this surge in interest in Orthodoxy among Americans from Protestant backgrounds has come even as the opening of the doors of the former Communist-block has brought upon its Orthodox people an unprecedented onslaught from every religious sect and cult. At the spearhead, American Evangelicals and Charismatics have been stumbling over each other — with each of its sects seeking to gain the prestigious boast that they too have established themselves even among the Godless Russians! So we Orthodox are now presented with a double urgency — on the one hand, there is the missionary task of presenting the Faith to Protestants here in the West; but on the other hand we must earnestly combat the spread of heresies among the Orthodox, both here and in traditionally Orthodox lands. In either case, the task at hand is to equip ourselves with sufficient knowledge and understanding of the issues that confront us.

    Perhaps the most daunting feature of Protestantism — the feature which has given it a reputation of stubborn resiliency is its numerous differences and contradictions. Like the the mythical Hydra, its many heads only multiply, and though it is a worthy task to seek to understand and confront these heresies individually, this is not the key to their defeat. In order for one to understand the unique beliefs of each individual sect, it requires a knowledge of the history and development of Protestantism in general, a great deal of research into each major stripe of Protestant theology, worship, etc., as well as a lot of contemporary reading in order to understand some of the more important cross-trends that are currently at work (such as liberalism, or emotionalism). Even with all this, one could not hope to keep up with the new groups that spring up almost daily. Yet for all their differences there is one basic underlying assumption that unites the amorphous blob of these thousands of disparate groups into the general category of "Protestant." All Protestant groups (with some minor qualifications) believe that their group has rightly understood the Bible, and though they all disagree as to what the Bible says, they generally do agree on how one is to interpret the Bible — on your own! — apart from Church Tradition. If one can come to understand this belief, why it is wrong, and how one is rightly to approach the Scriptures, then any Protestant of any stripe may be engaged with understanding. Even groups as differing as the Baptists and the Jehovahs Witnesses are really not as different as they outwardly appear once you have understood this essential point — indeed if you ever have an opportunity to see a Baptist and a Jehovahs Witness argue over the Bible, you will notice that in the final analysis they simply quote different Scriptures back and forth at each other. If they are equally matched intellectually, neither will get anywhere in the discussion because they both essentially agree on their approach to the Bible, and because neither questions this underlying common assumption neither can see that their mutually flawed approach to the Scriptures is the problem. Herein lies the heart of this Hydra of heresies — pierce its heart and its many heads at once fall lifelessly to the ground.

    [ May 09, 2006, 08:04 AM: Message edited by: Bible-boy ]
     
  2. Matt Black

    Matt Black
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    Why do you say that your Tradition is superior to the Catholic Tradition, or indeed the other Orthodox Traditions? How is one to choose between them?
     
  3. JFox1

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    Hmmmmmmm. Maybe I will start a thread called "Are the Orthodox beyond hope?" ;)
     
  4. Eric B

    Eric B
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    Maybe God gave them the names through inspiration. In any case, the names do not contradict anything found in scripture, nor do they add anything significant to them.
    Once again, God, by inspiration, knows when to use these sources. We cannot just go and try to validate any teaching that has come up in the Church with them.
    This does not guarantee perfect transmission of the teachings. People do put their own spins on what was handed down to them, and unless you are claiming the postapostolic fathers were just as inspired as the apostles, they were fallible, and could get things wrong.

    case in point, again:
    We see it go from Ignatius' "they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ" which still leaves it open to be a metaphor (Where a "simile" is "a comparison using 'like' or 'as'"; a metaphor calls it like it is the thing it is being compared to). Then, expanding upon this, a half century later, Justin's "not as common bread and common drink do we receive these, but...the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word...is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.". That too can still be metaphorical, but now he adds to it "blessed by the prayer of His word". He mentions a "transmutation", but that appears to be referring to the "nourishment" or our own bodies (suggesting as I have been saying, that this was not cracker crumbs, or wafers especially made for the "service").
    Then, in the next century, we begin to get more expounding of some "change" in the food TO "the flesh and blood". (Tertullian's example of Christ changing the bread and wine to His body still needs to answer Bob's question of how it could literally be Christ when Christ was still physically there before them).

    I'm sorry, but all of this looks like a doctrinal development to me. (rather than some complete doctrine passed down wholesale, only more [previously secret, oral only] details were being revealed about it). Just as I have always described it; early fathers begin putting their oen spin on things, and then others after them continue to build on that, putting their own spin on top of that. So yes, it was all passed down from the apostles, but we see it was being changed along the way. The only response to this is "But Christ would guide them into all truth", but He said this to the apostles, and they were guided into all truth, which they wrote down in their Gospels, epistles, Acts and Revelation. That was not promised for the later leaders (when they even stopped counting 12, showing that office was finished), but instead, we do get prophecies of drastic apostasy. The defense then is The gates of Hell would never prevail over the Church, and they didn', but still, there was a lot of error that was allowed to come in, and there would always be people to correct it. The more pressing issues (the nature of Christ, etc) were addressed somewhat immediately (and continuing over time), and other things were questioned later on, when the Church began dividing over the corruption of the big powerful body.

    This doctrine puts way too much control to rmen, and not even men who saw the Lord directly. Whatever they say, tney must be right. And you wonder why people look at that skeptically?

    If this was the case, then there are many other books which agree with the so-called "orthodox faith", and even add those "traditions" in question, such as real presence and the perpetual virginity of Mary, the vestments, etc. These should have been added, then.
    That's not true, as the church was constantly changing, with its offices gaining increasing power, among the changes. (all of this would then be read back into the scriptures and fathers, as "apostolic tradition"
    And all of the doctrines such as bread and wine changed into real flesh and blood by a prayer (even though it doesn't look like it), Mary veneration, etc. were never issues? Amazing how these things were so neatly omitted, or agreed upon universally. Surely, they would raise questions, as they still do. OR, maybe these things were just ASSUMED by a wholesale "if its apart of tradition, then by faith I believe it was practiced then, because tradstion can't be wrong".
    And some also still met on the Sabbath, and kept other laws the later Church and its "tradition" would later reject and even condemn, ostracize and persecute. Yet you try to use this stuff to authenticate traditions far foreign to the OT or NT. Besides, after the Temple would be destroyed, a lot of that would end, especially as Christians became more estranged from Jews.
    Maybe there was so little details on worship, because worship was not some big grand mystic ritual, but was instead "in spirit and in truth" contrasting both the OT, and the ater Church which selectively copied the OT while adding completely new practices.
    This argument is that since the Church is bigger and older than most modern sects, it claims "universality" and direct succession, respectively. But this still begs the question of how they interpret the early father they link to the Apostles.
    Noone is saying that the church ceased to be. But the problem is, is that this argument is looking on the Church as a visible ORGANIZATIONS with its offices turned into power bases, bu the body of christ he said would not fail is not a human organization, but a spiritual fellowship of those who have placed their faith in Christ. In fact, this whole string of arguments, including "all the thousands of Protestant Sects" is all looking at visible organizations. The faith of some of them is in line with Biblical Gospel, some are not, and are unanimously rejected by the body of "biblically orthodox" believers, moreso than the overhyped minor disagreements they have among themselves. Some, have maintained the basic gospel, but added other teachings to it, some of which are not as important as they may argue But just following one single organization is not the solution to this. This is just an attempt to gain control over everyone, and is not the mission the true Church has been entrusted with.
    The kingdom has spread, but centuries of trying to centralize control of it through an organization (that has often gotten mixed up with the kingdoms of the world and their politics) has done more to stifle its growth, and is what in fact has helped more than anything else lead to all of this fracturing into schisms. Nobody trust anybody, because power was so abused for all those centuries.
    This is EXACTLY what you based the answer to "how can we know that the Church has preserved the Apostolic Tradition in its purity?" on above. Everyone says this same thing, the Spirit guides us into all truth, and as you said, they still come up with different interpretations. Your is but one more, and you just use a different amd unique criteria for your claim to be the true one than they: "We are the oldest" [of currently visible groups, that is!] and your only adva ntage is seniority. But that too is fallible. However, the Spirit has guided peopel into basic truths, and if they add stuff onto that, that is their own addition, but it does not mean you have to follow what some priest in long robes with a long beard says as if God spoke it directly to you, and regardless of what can be read in scripture.
    And there is no reason to conclude that these were anything other than what we see elsewhere preserved in scripture. This is proven by the fact that one of them is mentioned right here in one of the texts(2 Thess. 3:6): "keep away from any brother who is living in idleness". "living in idleness" is what is contrasted with "the traditions". And other scriptures speak against this as well. No later "Catholic" doctrines or practices there! All "Tradition" means is that it is a principle the apostles hold, and many who people who did not get an epistle had only heard about it orally. It is not an entire separate body of teaching and practice! This argument is truly ironic, in that it uses scriupture just enough to override itself, and supplant itself with a body of "tradition" totally foreign to it, rather than as being aligned with it. So it is this notion of "tradition" that is contradicted by the true apostolic tradition!
    And that is exactly what is being done here in the name of "tradition". In fact, it is the tradition that is being speculated on more than the actual historical evidence allows.
     
  5. JackRUS

    JackRUS
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    Do you people actually think that this Jacob guy is here for a debate?

    He never replies to any of his cut & paste spam jobs.

    But just in case he ever changes his mind, only God performs a conversion. 2 Cor. 5:17
     
  6. Eric B

    Eric B
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    This is a straw man. A fourth option is to stop looking at Christ's spiritual body in terms of corporations or state backed Church governments, then it won't seem so "fuzzy" and "in disagreement".
    This does not prove truth. In fact, the same Church persecuted those whom they accused of "heresy". Especially after it gained power from the state. Those advocating "persecuted small groups" are the holders of the truth use this. Are they right, then?
    And this begs a question I have kept forgetting to ask. Another post said that the EOC is "the Church of the 7 councils", and the Roman Church, as well as some of the Protestants alco claim to go by these councils. But I notice we see the first Church council, in Jerusalem, right in the New Testament book of Acts; presided over by actual first generation apostles; you know; the ones who saw Jesus alive, dead, and risen again! This council was used to help set an important standard for Church practice in a very important and controversial issue: gentiles and the Law of Moses.
    Why is this uimportant foundational council not considered the first of the "Universal/Catholic/Ecumenical councils" -- but rather Nicea; the one nearly three centuries later, convened by the pagan Emperor who saw the cross as a sign to "conquer" in, --why is that considered the first? Ald the other six after it all having the same worldly state power behind them, granted with that first one?
    If the later Seven had been considered as the succession beginning with the Jerusalem council, you would have a better argument for being the true sucessors. But the favt that you start with Nicea seems to be an admission that "the Church" as the organization we know of today, rather then being a true successor to the Apostles, is really identified as the state run power base of the fourth century and later a that we have come to know. Whether Roman or Easter, it was all the same, and often used that state power to persecute. This to me is the biggest proof against apostolic sucession. the only recourse is to try to authenticate itself by reading its traditions back into the Scriptures through the fathers. But even that does not have enough support.

    For the EOC to be coming out all agressively like this now, it actually joins in the very thing it criticizes: One more voice in the midst of "all the thousands of sects claiming to be the truth"; using all the same basic argumentative tactics. This adds nothing constructive to the dilemma, and only furthers the confusion. That page read pretty much like a fundamentalist diatribe, or a JW, or Church of Christ, or Sabbatarian treatise on how everyone else is in error. I'm sorry, but this body has to simply take its place among all of the other groups, whom it is behaving exactly like; as fallible men who must answer to God, who has left one solid body of teaching from the inspired apostles, and that is the written word. If all the disagreeing groups couldn't even get that right, how much better do you think men could handle oral teachings. Of if the Holy Spirit guided them, then anyone else can claim the same thing. The only thing you have over any of them is being "older". And that only identifies your group with the errors of the "Dark ages". All of the jargon putting down the Enlightenment, rationalism, reason, individuality, modernity, etc. is the same as every other group who tries to control everyone (and therefore must stifle reason and independant thought), from the fundies, to the cults. You are no different. It's all the same tactics, and "every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive". (Eph.4:14)
     
  7. BobRyan

    BobRyan
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    According to Jack - Jacob's rule is "never post on a thread that you start if someone else has posted there as well"

    Let's see if that holds up.
     
  8. StefanM

    StefanM
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    I'm surprised he hasn't been banned yet.
     
  9. music4Him

    music4Him
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    I'm not beyond hope!

    My hope is built on nothing less
    Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
    I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
    But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.

    1Peter 1:13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
     
  10. Eliyahu

    Eliyahu
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    I wonder if there is any need to respond to this OP.
     
  11. Melanie

    Melanie
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    I hate these provocative threads....it is very presumptive. Only the Lord God can know the heart of the individual whether he/she be Baptist, Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran or Callathumpian.

    If you believe in God and worship according to your devout belief then surely God can sort out his servants.
     
  12. nate

    nate
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    I ask myself this question on every one of your posts.
     

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