Monday, October 1, 2007

The Eisegeted Verses, 1 Timothy 3:15

[This is part of an ongoing series. See my introduction.]

“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.” -1 Timothy 3:14-15 NASB

Exegesis

Paul begins verse 14 by telling us that he wrote “these things”. This begs the question: what are “these things”? They are the subject of the previous 13 verses: the qualifications and proper behavior for church leaders in the local church (3:1-13).

Verses 1-13

He starts off chapter 3 with the qualifications for an overseer (i.e. an elder): he must be monogamous, slow to anger, loving, a good teacher, not an alcoholic, not a new convert, and have a good reputation. Paul then moves on to the qualifications for a deacon: he must be a man of dignity, a non-alcoholic, etc. He also mentions female leaders within the church: they must not be gossips but temperate and faithful.

Verses 14-15

He wrote the things mentioned above so that the leaders within Timothy’s church would know how to conduct themselves. After all, this isn’t something like a college fraternity. Rather, it is the remnant that God chosen to redeem (Romans 9:22-27), to purchase their salvation with His own blood (Acts 20:28). It is the group that God has called out of the world for His own eternal glory (Ephesians 1:12) and to be the chosen ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) by which to spread the word of His covenant lawsuit against the heathen (Acts 17:22-31).

The church is to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13-16) in that we are the representatives of God to a world in rebellion against Him and bearers of the truth now revealed to us at the first coming of Christ (John 17:14-21). As such, the church is to “conduct” itself worthy of such a calling by its Master (1 Thessalonians 2:12, cf. 1 Timothy 3:15).

The next verse should also be noted: “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He [i.e. Jesus] who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory” (v.16). Here, Paul recites what is believed to be an ancient Christian hymn, and he cites this to show that the proper behavior we are to imitate (i.e. “the mystery of godliness”) is that of Christ Himself. In other words, because we are Christ’s representatives to the world, we are to act like Christ before the world so as not to bring reproach upon the truth of God’s Word** (cf. v.7).

“The Pillar and Support of the Truth”

This brings us to the phrase we are inquiring as to its meaning. From the context I explained above, the church, the entire body of Christ and not just the clergy, is the “pillar and support of the truth” in that it is the representative of God and bearer of the truth of God’s Word**. The church is to conduct itself so that it will not bring disrepute on Him who gave it such a mission. Instead, it is to hold up the truth of the living God so that the unbelieving would either: a.) be convicted of their rebellion and repent or b.) be judicially hardened in their unbelief and bring greater condemnation upon themselves, storing it up for the judgment.

Conclusion

The church (i.e. the body of all Christians) is the bearer (“pillar and support”) of the whole counsel of God** (“the truth”) to the unbelieving world. The church is to behave in such a manner as to not bring disrepute upon the One whom they serve, but instead, they are to act like Christ seeing that they are His representatives.

The High Church [Mis]interpretation

Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and various cult apologists will cite “the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” in v.15 to allegedly prove their doctrine that their church is either infallible or that the clarity of the truths of the Christian faith depend upon their church’s pronouncements. Since this is part of a review of Dave Armstrong’s book, The Catholic Verses, I shall use him as an example and review the other minor arguments put forth in the section of his book dealing with 1 Timothy 3:15.

A Review of Dave Armstrong’s The Catholic Verses on 1 Timothy 3:15

[Unless otherwise stated, all of these quotes come from Dave Armstrong, The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (Manchester, NH: Sophia Institute Press, 2004).]

After quoting only verse 15, Dave writes his commentary on the verse:

“Catholics accept this passage at face value: the Church is the ground or foundation (the word used in the New International Version [NIV] translation) of the truth; it is infallible; it is specially protected by the Holy Spirit so that it can be the Guardian and Preserver of apostolic tradition and truth and doctrine.” (emphasis original; Armstrong, op. cit., p.3)

That’s it!!! There was neither a discussion of the entire previous passage, an entire 14 verses that preceded verse 15, nor of verse 15’s connection to verse 16! The context of the previous verses is primarily ethical/moral, not epistemological. This should have some bearing on one’s interpretation (if not an overriding one). This is a classical case of Text Isolation (see my intro. to this series, part f).

Second, the term “foundation” in the Greek text, hedraioma, can be translated as either “foundation” or “support”, neither of which necessarily mean (in this context) “source of knowledge” or “dependent upon for clarity”***. Even apart from the previous verses, the phrase “pillar and support of the truth” could mean any number of things only one of which is “source of knowledge” or “dependent upon for clarity”***. It was Armstrong’s underlying presuppositions that caused him to see in this verse a proof for infallibility. Thus, this is also a case of Superficial Reading (see intro., part i.).

Likewise, he commits the fallacy of anachronism (see intro., part a.) when he equates the word “church” with the clerical orders. The word ecclesia in the New Testament referred to the entire people of God (laity and clergy), not just the clergy as it came to mean in later times. This is quite manifest by the fact that the phrase referred to in this very verse, “the household of God, which is the church of the living God,” is used elsewhere and in equivalent phrases (1 Cor. 3:16, 2 Cor. 6:16, Eph. 2:21, 1 Peter 2:5, and 4:17) all of which refer to the entire body of the redeemed. This fact also shows quite clearly in the inclusion of women in this “church” (v.11).

Lastly, even under the assumption that “pillar and support of the truth” means that the church is the source of the truth, this does not necessarily mean that the church is *infallible* as Mr. Armstrong claims. The Old Testament clerical authority, the Levites, were given the task of being the guardians and teachers of the Torah, but yet, they fell into grave error time and again resulting in God sending the prophets. [Although it should be noted that the Levites weren’t the only ones given the task of teaching the Torah since it was given to every head of each household to teach their sons and daughters God’s law privately (Deut. 6:7-9), another proof that God intended His word to be perspicuous to the common man. However, I’m getting off track, and that shall be saved for a later discussion.] Thus, Armstrong commits the fallacy of the overextended conclusion (see intro., part g.).

Moving on:

“Reluctant to acknowledge the Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome, Protestants must fall back on an alternative notion of an invisible, spiritual church that cannot be identified in earthly, historical, concrete terms.” (ibid., p.4)

This is a straw-man. The invisible church manifests itself visibly when it congregates, but not every one who congregates is truly a member of the redeemed. This can hardly be denied since the New Testament witnesses to it (Acts 20:28, 2 Cor. 11:13-15, 1 John 2:19, Rev. 2:14-15, 2:20, etc.)

He notes Martin Luther’s stance on the subject of the visibility of the church, but yet, he never deals with the Reformer’s defenses of it. To quote Luther himself:

“Under Elijah the prophet, all the people and every public institution among them had gone astray into idolatry, so that he thought he was the only one left; yet, while the kings and princes, priests and prophets, and all that could be called the people and church of God, were going to ruin, God had reserved seven thousand to Himself (1 Kings 19:18). But who saw them, or knew them to be the people of God? And who will dare to deny that in our day, under these principal men of yours (for you only mention persons of public office and of great name), God has kept to Himself a church among the common people, while allowing all whom you mention to perish like the kingdom of Israel? For it is God’s prerogative to bring down the chosen ones of Israel, and, as Psalm 77 says, to slay their fat ones (Psalm 78.31); but to preserve the dregs and remnant of Israel, according to Isaiah’s words (Isaiah 10.22).” –Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1957), p.120.

And again:

“Look at the time of the Arians, when scarcely five catholic bishops were preserved in the whole world, and they were driven from their sees, while the Arians reigned everywhere, taking to themselves the public name and office of the church. Yet under these heretics Christ preserved His church; though in such a way that it was not for a moment thought or held to be the church.” –Martin Luther, The Bondage of the Will, trans. J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1957), p.121.

Thus, Mr. Armstrong fails to take into account the very Biblical and historical doctrine of the “remnant” (Romans 9:24-33). The visible succession of office does not necessarily guarantee the truthfulness of the teaching authority. To quote John the Baptist speaking to the Pharisees:

“…do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham” -Matthew 3:9

[As with modern Jews, the Pharisees supposed themselves to be not only God’s chosen people but also His spiritually redeemed people, those that would receive the resurrection unto eternal life (Dan. 12:2), simply because they were genealogically descended from Abraham. Some modern Jews even believe that atheists will be saved as long as they’re ethnically Jewish!]

Moving along:

“According to sola Scriptura, the Protestant is ultimately free to pick and choose his doctrines in a sort of “cafeteria Christianity” – so long as he can reconcile them with his own interpretation of Scripture.” (Armstrong, op. cit., pp.4-5)

This is a straw-man. What Mr. Armstrong just described, “cafeteria Christianity,” (which sadly, is all too common not only among Protestants but Catholics as well) is not sola Scriptura, but a perversion of it, solo Scriptura.

Does Mr. Armstrong deny the individual believer the right of conscience? Didn’t he join the RCC because “he can reconcile” its teachings “with his own interpretation” of church history and Scripture?

Moving on:

“But because Calvin disagrees with the theology of the Catholic Church (and causally assumes the prerogative to judge that Church), he manages to believe that it “died” and that somehow a “new church” (of course, the one he advocates) has arisen to take its place…” (ibid., p.5)

This is also a straw-man. The true remnant of God never died and cannot die (Matthew 16:18), but the visible/outward authority can just as it did under Elijah the prophet or under Athanasius during the Arian ascendancy (see the Luther quotes above). This is clearly what Calvin meant. Again, Mr. Armstrong cites Calvin’s opinions but never deals with the arguments Calvin presented: the instances in which the Old Testament “Church” became corrupted and God had to send the prophets (a remnant in themselves) to restore the “Church” (Institutes 4.2.10). [I realize that he has limited space in his book, but he could have at least spent a page or even a paragraph dealing with the Reformer’s main arguments.]

Also, it is *NOT* the position of historical Protestantism that the church didn’t exist for 1,400 years. Rather, there were many great and godly men in all ages and not just a few of them within the Church of Rome itself (including a few Popes, no doubt!) who, although they agreed with Rome on almost everything, were part of that Remnant. We still hold that there are still many within the RC and EO communions.

Finally, didn’t Mr. Armstrong have to “judge that Church” in order to determine it was the true Church and become a Roman Catholic? Why should we limit private judgment to the Scriptures? [I suppose that one could argue at this point that the data from church history is much clearer than the Scriptures. However, that is a debatable point and makes the separation of perspicuity between ‘T’radition and Scripture one of degree, not of kind.]

Continuing:

“Almost by logical necessity, then, Calvin too must appeal to an invisible church, a concept not taught in Scripture at all…” (emphasis original; ibid., p.6)

Of course, this is plainly false. The concept of the Remnant is found all throughout Scripture and is termed a number of things: the “remnant” (obviously; Romans 9:27), the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), “servant” in Isaiah (through chapters 40-53, the term oscillates in reference between the nation of Israel as a whole, the remnant, and the Messiah), etc. The Remnant was an Israel within Israel, an Israel of God.

Moving on:

“Methodist commentator Adam Clarke, in his commentary, illustrates Protestant confusion and mixed feelings over this seemingly easily understood verse…” (ibid., 6)

First of all, just because you are a Protestant commentator doesn’t mean that you’re a good commentator. There are plenty of Protestant commentators who try to interpret a verse in isolation from its surrounding text (just like Mr. Armstrong :) ). It amazes me how many Calvinist commentators get stumped by 2 Peter 3:9, but that’s a different discussion.

Second, Mr. Armstrong likes to cite Protestant commentators in favor of the Catholic interpretation all throughout this book as if *everyone* is finally coming to the realization that the Roman Catholic teaching on the Bible has been right all along. Yeah right!

He’s blithely unaware of the many (if not most) modern Roman Catholic scholars who give the same interpretation of the Bible as Protestants. I’ll try to note that throughout this series.


** I had originally said “gospel” which is true since all of God’s Word is contained in it (compare 2 Timothy 2:15 with Colossians 1:5). However, God has given all of His truth to the Church, not just evangelism, and so, I felt that I should change it to be more clear. This change was made on October 7, 2007.

*** I had originally said, “…‘source’ or ‘dependent upon’.” Though it was not my intention, I can see how one might assume that it meant that the Roman Church was the source of truth as if it made it up. This, of course, would be an error since Roman Catholicism teaches that God is the source of all truth, but He has set up the Church to be the epistemic source through which He mediates His truth for Christians. This change was made on October 7, 2007.

23 comments:

GeneMBridges said...

“Reluctant to acknowledge the Catholic Church headed by the Pope in Rome, Protestants must fall back on an alternative notion of an invisible, spiritual church that cannot be identified in earthly, historical, concrete terms.” (ibid., p.4)

Funny, John L. Dagg says exactly the opposite right here:

http://founders.org/library/dagg_vol2/ch3.html

orthodox said...

T: Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and various cult apologists will cite “the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth” in v.15 to allegedly prove their doctrine that their church is either infallible or that the clarity of the truths of the Christian faith depend upon their church hierarchy’s pronouncements.

O: It is anathema to Eastern Orthodoxy to equate the church with the hierarchy. Eastern Orthodoxy is proud of the fact that it can (and has!) kicked out hierarchy that don't teach the truth. Neither does Orthodoxy teach that something is true just because the hierarchy teaches it. Unless the whole church accepts it, it is not the faith.

T: Conclusion. The church (i.e. the body of all Christians) is the bearer (“pillar and support”) of the Gospel of the grace of God (“the truth”) to the unbelieving world. The church is to behave in such a manner as to not bring disrepute upon the One whom they serve, but instead, they are to act like Christ seeing that they are His representatives.

O: That's not what the verse says. To paraphrase, you are claiming that the verse says the church OUGHT to behave in a certain way. But the verse says that the Church IS the foundation of the truth. Not that it ought to be, or that it should aim to be, but that it IS.

T: Even apart from the previous verses, the phrase “pillar and support of the truth” could mean any number of things only one of which is “source” or “dependent upon”.

O: How odd. Pillars and foundations are the things that builders put in place as a solid base for holding up the building or the roof. Without such supports, the roof is made to float in mid air, with predictable results in the topsy turvy world of sola scriptura. I think there is a bit of obfuscation going on here.

T: Lastly, even under the assumption that “pillar and support of the truth” means that the church is the source of the truth, this does not necessarily mean that the church is *infallible* as Mr. Armstrong claims.

O: Given the context, you've got some tricky manourvering to do here. Paul has talking about how to conduct yourself in the Church of the living God. No invisible church here, this is the visible church. And it is the foundation of the truth. So it exists, and always has existed. You've got to be able to point out where it existed since the beginning.

T: "God has kept to Himself a church among the common people"

O: Paul isn't saying that somewhere out there "among the common peopl"e there is some invisible church. Paul has just been talking about conduct within the actual visible church, complete with all the things Paul says churches have: elders, deacons, and all those other offices that Paul has just finished discussing.

Given the history of the church from the beginning, the interpretation you put forward would be at best, extremely hard for historical Christians to accept, because it doesn't aline with how the church has always perceived herself.

Carrie said...

First of all, just because you are a Protestant commentator doesn’t mean that you’re a good commentator....

Second, Mr. Armstrong likes to cite Protestant commentators in favor of the Catholic interpretation all throughout this book as if *everyone* is finally coming to the realization that the Roman Catholic teaching on the Bible has been right all along. Yeah right!


Amen to that.

DA's tactic of citing Prots who agree with him (and he is not alone in that tactic) is weird to me. As if that proves anything.

Great start to your series!

Turretinfan said...

Good start! Your introduction section is already coming in handy, as you won't have to explain what the various 9 fallacies are, each time you find them.

Keep up the good work.

-Turretinfan

Saint and Sinner said...

"But the verse says that the Church IS the foundation of the truth. Not that it ought to be, or that it should aim to be, but that it IS."

No kidding. But that begs the question of what is meant by "foundation".

"How odd. Pillars and foundations are the things that builders put in place as a solid base for holding up the building or the roof. Without such supports, the roof is made to float in mid air, with predictable results in the topsy turvy world of sola scriptura. I think there is a bit of obfuscation going on here."

Yes, but that does not make it the "source" of truth, but rather, the bearer which props it up. Like a battle standard-bearer who holds the banner of the army and authority of the general visibly, the church is the means by which God shows forth his Word and uses to disseminate His truth.

"No invisible church here, this is the visible church. And it is the foundation of the truth. So it exists, and always has existed. You've got to be able to point out where it existed since the beginning."

Again, Orthodox, this is a false antithesis. It is not the case that you EITHER have a visible church OR you have an invisible one. Rather, the invisible church manifests itself visibly.

"Given the history of the church from the beginning, the interpretation you put forward would be at best, extremely hard for historical Christians to accept, because it doesn't aline with how the church has always perceived herself."

This is false as I proved in the section reviewing Mr. Armstrong's book.

TheoJunkie said...

I am reluctant to say this, for DA will likely misinterpret my limited defense of his text to mean I'm on his side...

This is the quibble: DA's quote does not say "source of the truth". It would seem to imply this, except that he then seems to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit empowers the church to "guard and preserve" the truth. The implication there is that the source is God.

That said, since Orthodox seemed to defend the notion that the church is the "source" of the truth, I suppose you probably did read DA right.

OTHERWISE, well done.

Turretinfan said...

O wrote: "But the verse says that the Church IS the foundation of the truth. Not that it ought to be, or that it should aim to be, but that it IS."

I respond:

Actually, "is" is not used between church and "pillar etc."

The phrase (pillar etc.) is an appositive, not a predicate nominative. There's a good Greek and Latin (if not English) reason for saying that it refers to "church" - but that reason is not predication but apposition.

(It would be highly ironic if, at this point, "Orthodox" claimed to be Greek Orthodox.)

-Turretinfan

Mike Burgess said...

"Rather, the invisible church manifests itself visibly."

Which means it isn't invisible.

How do you distinguish between the two, by the way?

Saint and Sinner said...

"How do you distinguish between the two, by the way?"

First of all, the "church" does not refer to just the clergy or an authority structure.

It refers to all of God's redeemed people.

Under the presupposition of Roman Catholic soteriology, this refers to those who have been baptized (which results in regeneration).

However, under Reformed soteriology, this refers to the regenerate, but since baptism doesn't result in regeneration, there are many false believers who congregate with the regenerate.

To use Jesus' parable of the wheat and tares, the wheat is the invisible church while the wheat+tares is the visible church.

At times, the tares outnumber the wheat and can take over the church and persecute the wheat.

Need I go on with the analogy?

GeneMBridges said...

: It is anathema to Eastern Orthodoxy to equate the church with the hierarchy. Eastern Orthodoxy is proud of the fact that it can (and has!) kicked out hierarchy that don't teach the truth. Neither does Orthodoxy teach that something is true just because the hierarchy teaches it. Unless the whole church accepts it, it is not the faith.

This is unintentionally comical, considering some of the things I've seen you deny when told what Orthodox scholars are teaching these days.

“A consensus exists among scholars that the 6C BC, and more especially the time and place of the Babylonian Exile, was the matrix from which the Hebrew Pentateuch and most of the prophetic books emerged in their final written form,” Historical Dictionary of the Orthodox Church, M. Prokurat et al. (Scarecrow Press 1996), 293.

Gee, where do you suppose that came from? 19C German higher criticism. So, can we take it that you affirm this theory of authorship and dating and reject Mosaic authorship of the text?

Here's a little something on inerrancy from your communion:


"To make literal inerrancy a necessary component of the gift of inspiration is, after all, foreign to the New Testament message itself. The gospels bear witness to the Truth and to the power of God, not to their own freedom from error. They are free from falsehood or deception, but not from natural human errors. The evangelist Mark, for example, maintains that Abiathar was high priest during the reign of David (Mk 2:23-28), but according to I Sam 21:1-6, Ahimelech, not Abiathar, was high priest. This 'error' had no effect on the meaning of the passage. The concept of inerrancy conflicts with the incarnational approach to the Bible, and with the New Testament concept of the synergetic activity of the Holy Spirit. The charisma of inspiration does not imply a new revelation which transports its recipient into a sphere entirely different from his own. The concept of inerrancy reveals more about our desire for absolute certainty than it does about the inspiration of a biblical book." (Veselin Kesich, The Gospel Image Of Christ [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1992], p. 69)

and about Daniel:


"The most likely conclusion is that Daniel was written at a relatively late date, not just accepted into the canon late....Typically an apocalypse's author attempts to make it sound as though it was written in a previous age, forecasting as if they were future events things actually happening in the present for the book's author." (Paul Nadim Tarazi, The Old Testament: Introduction, Volume 2: Prophetic Traditions [Crestwood, New York: St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1991], p. 207, n. 3 on p. 208)

One could cite many more. Tell us, do these statements reflect those of the Orthodox Church "from the beginning?"

One suspects that Orthodox is more conservative himself than the own representatives of his own communion.

GeneMBridges said...

"Rather, the invisible church manifests itself visibly."

Which means it isn't invisible.

How do you distinguish between the two, by the way?


Mike, see the link above I gave to Dr. John L. Dagg's work.

In short,

1. The "invisible" church manifests itself visible in aggregate when more than one regenerate person is in the room.

2. It manifests when it aggregates for worship.

3. Apropos 2, that multitude is a mixed multitude insofar as the visible church and the invisible, at that time, intersect.

4. In reference to the individuals, the "invisible" church, as Dr. Dagg I believe rightly notes, manifests itself visible via the perseverance of the saints.

Lvka said...

Have You read Athanasius? (Why not?).

orthodox said...

S&S: Yes, but that does not make it the "source" of truth, but rather, the bearer which props it up.

O: Orthodoxy doesn't claim to be the source of truth. All it claims to do is be passing on the truth. But if it is the Church and bearer of the truth, then what it presents as the truth is therefore the truth, because it is the bearer of the truth.

S&S: Again, Orthodox, this is a false antithesis. It is not the case that you EITHER have a visible church OR you have an invisible one. Rather, the invisible church manifests itself visibly.

O: Amazing that you even have to draw an extra-scriptural distinction like this to prop up sola scriptura. Is it only me who sees the irony?

But the point is, everything about the context is about the visible manifestation of behaviour in the church you can see, not some airy fairy somewhere out there invisible church.

orthodox said...

T: Actually, "is" is not used between church and "pillar etc."

The phrase (pillar etc.) is an appositive, not a predicate nominative. There's a good Greek and Latin (if not English) reason for saying that it refers to "church" - but that reason is not predication but apposition.

O: It's an appositive to "church of the living God", which is a predicate nominative. So how this amounts to anything that helps you, I don't know.

T: (It would be highly ironic if, at this point, "Orthodox" claimed to be Greek Orthodox.)

O: I think it's more ironic that 21st century protestants think they can interpret the scriptures better than the fathers who spoke it and lived the same culture.

orthodox said...

G: This is unintentionally comical, considering some of the things I've seen you deny when told what Orthodox scholars are teaching these days.

O: So I say that the church isn't just one little part of it, like the hierarchy, and then you try to equate the church with just one little part like one or two academics. Amazing that you never learn.

Turretinfan said...

O wrote: "It's an appositive to "church of the living God", which is a predicate nominative. So how this amounts to anything that helps you, I don't know."

You don't know how a conclusive defeater of your assertion that "it says ... IS ..." helps me?

Really???

-Turretinfan

orthodox said...

T: You don't know how a conclusive defeater of your assertion that "it says ... IS ..." helps me?

Really???

O: Huh? If its appostive parallel is referred to by "IS", then the grammatical effect is just the same.

L P Cruz said...

Orthodox,

Eastern Orthodoxy to equate the church with the hierarchy. Eastern Orthodoxy is proud of the fact that it can (and has!) kicked out hierarchy that don't teach the truth.

I often have been curious which Orthodox Church? Would it be Antiochene, Greek or Russian? Any recommendation for typical examination?


LPC

mtburgess said...

Gene and S&S,
So, you know who the regenerate are... how? And will just any of the regenerate do for settling doctrinal questions or disciplinary matters, or do you take the words of those who claim to be regenerate and who claim to be called to the eldership? Doesn't this violate sola scriptura as well as pose a circularity problem?

orthodox said...

"I often have been curious which Orthodox Church? Would it be Antiochene, Greek or Russian? Any recommendation for typical examination?"

There's no shortage of heretical popes and patriarchs to choose from. Those who resisted these heretics, whether laity or not, often ended up canonised saints.

........

"As the Orthodox Patriarchs said in their Letter of 1848 to Pope Pius the Ninth: ‘Among us, neither Patriarchs nor Councils could ever introduce new teaching, for the guardian of religion is the very body of the Church, that is, the people (laos) itself.’

L P Cruz said...

Orthodox,

So which one has been pure in its Orthodoxy? I do not think I got an answer, my question is a fair question is it not?

If a Prot is ready to convert to EO and he goes to the Russian, would that do as well if he converted to Antiochene? Or Greek? I am asking for your preference.


LPC

orthodox said...

LPC: If a Prot is ready to convert to EO and he goes to the Russian, would that do as well if he converted to Antiochene? Or Greek? I am asking for your preference.

O: It's just that - a preference. Take your pick.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Saint and Sinner,

Thanks for doing this very interesting series. I'm a bit behind the times but trying to catch up on your posts. Please forgive me if I am repeating something already stated.

Your arguments are well reasoned regarding the local congregation as being the pillar and foundation of the truth. I have no formal training in ancient Greek so I don't know anything about the use of articles. I have noticed, however, that Young's Literal Translation, and at least the Wycliffe New Testament and the ESV translate the verse with the words "a pillar" as opposed to "the pillar." In my view, the article "a" is an even stronger support for your conclusions. "A" pillar implies more than one pillar of truth. In the context of this verse, this means individual congregations as they remain faithful to the Word of God, wherever they may be found. Of course, individual believers are also referred to by the same Greek word as "pillars," that is, "supports" in Galatians 2:9 and Revelation 3:12.

Keep up the good work.

Blessings,

Pilgrimsarbour