[CS-FSLUG] Open Source Theology

Michael Bradley, Jr. michaelsbradleyjr at gmail.com
Fri Jun 16 14:20:40 CDT 2006

On 6/16/06, Chris Brault <gginorio at sbcglobal.net> wrote:
> Interesting,
> >> But I must ask what is your measuring stick for determining the bounds
> >> of heresy? If your answer is "the Holy Bible, and it alone" then I must
> >> ask you, based on your reading of the Bible, how it is that you know
> >> precisely which books, chapters and verses belong in the Canon?  If you
> >> admit that this "table of contents" is itself extra-Biblical then you
> >> must explain to me why you give credence to this particular Church
> >> Tradition and not to others.
> >
> > I do not agree with the predicate that the contents of
> > the canon are based on tradition, I believe that the more
> > accurate phrase would be Holy Spirit inspired preservation.
> Perhaps an even better answer is that those who walked and talked with
> Jesus or those that wrote the teachings of those that walked and talked
> with Jesus are accepted as scripture. Such appeared to be the general
> criterion when it came to "common acceptance" in the early church...
> Thus our trust in the Holy Spirit that properly divided the perfect from
> the non-perfect in the minds of early believers so that only the books
> that were real were generally accepted by all when the time came to
> "officially" promote a Canon.

Chris, whether or not this will suprise you I'm not sure, but I think you've
painted in broad strokes a picture that is accurate and that Catholics in
general would agree with.  I would point out that at those times when the
early Church, in the decisions of local councils or in the writings of an
influential leader, spoke out on the issue of what belongs in the Christian
Canon and what does not, the controversy could be quite heated and the
exercise of claimed apostolic authority played no little part in helping to
calm things down.

That the Holy Spirit was active in guiding the whole process, there can be
no doubt. In fact from a Catholic perspective there is simply no
contradiction in suggesting that the Holy Spirit can work in the minds of
individual believers and Church leaders and at the same time guide and guard
the Church as a whole when it moves to clarify particular sticky points.

> The challenge being to rightly discern which claims to
> > Apostolic anointing are genuine and which not is almost
> > impossible conjecture.  The record is highly suspect.
> >
> > That said, such is unnecessary.  One may readily discern
> > 100% of what is necessary to salvation and righteous
> > living from the Bible alone -- no external texts are
> > necessary.
> Indeed, you'll learn alot about how the early church fathers applied
> what they knew to the times in which they lived. You can also learn how
> they understood the Apostles teachings. You can not trust them to be
> inspired by God nor to have heard it directly from Jesus Himself. They
> are great reading as reference material but not scriptural nor on the
> same level as scripture.

But what of the early Church's own opinion as to the value and authority of
the teachings of the Apostles, both as handed down in the form of writings
that were collected in to the NT and those that certainly were expressed in
writings from the first centuries forward but didn't come from the Apostles
themselves, or from say Mark or Luke, in the form of a gospel or epistle.
The question is how did the early Church understood the Holy Spirit to
author and transmit Divine Revelation in the post-Pentecost era, before the
death of the last of the Twelve Apostles and then afterwards.  When the
Fathers are "asked" about this, they do not answer with anything that
resembles "sola scriptura," not in the First Century, not in the Second, not
in the Third, nor afterwards. Why is that?  My intent in posting the message
with the long list of quotes from the Fathers was to raise awareness that
the early Christians and their leaders had certain views about the role of
oral and written Apostolic Tradition, that is "teaching," and that those
views are not recognizable as the view held by, say, modern Protestants.

Moreover, did the early Church understand it's individual post-apostolic
leaders to be incapable of error (the answers is a not suprising "no")?  But
then how did the early Christians understand the teaching of the Church --
including NT and OT Scriptures, and the full body of Apostolic teaching as
transmitted orally -- to be protected from error? Or did they consider the
Church to be protected from teaching errors in the first place? If so, at
what levels and in what contexts?

These are the questions that deserve honest research and answers.  My
purpose was/is not to try and hash out these answers on the CS-FSLUG mailing
list.  In fact after this e-mail, I'm think it's best we move the discussion
to another forum if we are to continue it. There is also the consideration
of time -- I don't like to give half-baked reflections/answers nor pose
spurious questions, and writing these e-mails takes a lot of time.  Don't
get me wrong, I love it!  And of course I knew I was opening a can of worms
when I posted my earlier message, but I hope you'll symapthize with me if I
warn that I simply can't take the time to respond to everything that comes
my way -- we need more Catholics on the list!  ;-)   Of course you could
always come jump in the various frays and discussions at forums.catholic.com.

>> Again, what is the measure of that?  What if two Christians arrive at
> >> irreconcilable positions of interpretation, what decides between them,
> >> or does it even matter?  Can it be of help to look to what and how the
> >> early church believed, worshipped, interpreted the Scriptures, etc.?
> Yes, I agree that each man must be convinced in their own mind, since it
> is their conscious that matters (if you think it is sin, and you do it,
> it is sin). It is the rebellious attitude God doesn't like.
> Besides that, most of the time culture can not be separated from
> Biblical interpretation, and a close look at culture can make the reason
> for different interpretations quite clear.

Are there to be any protected or absolute interpretations then?  Are yours
culturally conditioned too, or say those of the Southern Baptist Convention
which recently concluded a general concil?  If we agree that there are some
or should be some, then what value is there in making comparisons to the
interpretations and teaching of say the first ecumenical council or the
Church Fathers who lived in 100s A.D.?

Of course, Jesus's mother and brothers visited him. James was his
> half-brother. Besides, Joseph lived for a long time after Jesus was born
> and Mary was still a human woman (no matter what people may think).
> Indeed, some of the Church Father's were wrong on this ... as was
> Calvin. Of course, coming from the mother church they probably were so
> indoctrinated that they couldn't see past it. As I've pointed out, the
> farther you get from Jesus means farther you get from His words.

It's not so simple as that. Consider the information related in

"Brethren of the Lord"


In Christ,

Michael Bradley, Jr.

My home on the Net ::

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