Why Doesn’t Everyone Agree with Me?

I am a Calvinist; others are Arminian. I believe in a premillenial eschatology; others are amillenial. I am a traducianist with regards to the creation of the soul; others are creationists. I believe in reasoned inerrancy; others believe this is an archaic naive doctrine. There are many points of doctrinal division I am going to have with people, some of which are much more important than others.

Why doesn’t everyone agree with me? Who is causing this disunity in the body of Christ, them or me? Do these divisions demonstrate the doctrinal bankruptcy of sola Scriptura? Should we elect a Pope of Protestantism? Or could it be that God has a purpose in his allowance of disagreements?

There are a few different ways that I could answer this.

  1. Others don’t agree with me because they have not studied deeply enough (lack of scholarship).
  2. Others don’t agree with me because they have not studied broadly enough (lack of perspective).
  3. Others don’t agree with me because they have not studied long enough (lack of wisdom).
  4. Others don’t agree with me because their traditional prejudices have created a learning “disability” that keeps them from the truth (lack of freedom of thought).
  5. Others don’t agree with me because they have sin in their life that is blinding them to the truth (lack of holiness).
  6. Others don’t agree with me because we don’t have an infallible authoritative interpreter of Scripture that would bring doctrinal unity (lack of a Pope).
  7. Others don’t agree with me because they are not Christian. If they were, well . . . they would agree with me! (lack of salvation)

Generally speaking, I do not default to these possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, these really are all possibilities. It could be that people deny the truth (assuming that my position is such) due to ignorance, lack of perspective or wisdom, traditional bindings, sin, lack of authority, or a presupposition of godlessness or naturalism. But I think we need to be careful about any negative prejudgments about people’s motives and the ultimate reasons for disagreements. We normally don’t know.

Here are the considerations I would aspire to make before I fall back upon the previously mentioned possibilities.

Others don’t agree with me because they are right and I am wrong.

Granted, I am convicted I am right. If this were not the case, I would simply change my position. But the possibility always exists that I am the one who is in error, misinformed, motivated by false pre-understandings, tradition-bound, or lacking perspective. I must consider this with great humility, as hard as it is to do.

There are some things of which I am more sure than others. For example, I am far less likely to be wrong about the existence of God than I am about my belief in a pre-tribulational rapture of the church. As well, I am humbled by the fact that there are many things I used to believe that I no longer do. I held to these former beliefs with (what seems to be) just as much conviction as many of the beliefs that I hold to now. What do I do with that? In most of those cases, the evidence, or lack thereof, militated against my previous doctrinal commitments and forced me to make hard adjustments. Very hard adjustments. For example, I used to believe that if someone did not accept the doctrine of inerrancy, they were not Christian. This was due to my fundamentalist presuppositions no doubt, but when faced with the evidence – that there are many people out there who do not hold to inerrancy, yet love and trust the same Christ as me – my position either had to change, or slumber in the bedroom of naiveté. I still have those decisions to make. It is called learning.

[Tweet “There is not one belief that I hold to which is protected by infallibility.”]

What I must realize is this: there is not one belief that I hold to which is protected by infallibility. Infallibility is the other side of the coin of absolute certainty. Absolute certainty can only be held by those who have all the information and are interpreting it correctly. To be infallible means that you cannot fail. Since I am not infallible, by definition, I can fail. All of my beliefs are subject to my attribute of fallibility. There is no one who possesses infallibility. Even Roman Catholics who try to alleviate themselves of this reality by trusting in the dictates of an infallible magisterial authority, such as the Pope, inevitably face the same problem, since their own trust in the infallible authority of the Pope is fallible. The same holds true for Evangelicals and our infallible Bible. Our belief in the Bible is fallible, even if the Bible itself is not. No one can escape their own fallibility. Therefore we all could be wrong. We are left to rely on a process of examining and weighting the evidence and following it wherever it leads. This will often cause us to change our beliefs.

Therefore, serious consideration must always be given to the proposition that people don’t agree with me because I am the one who is wrong.

Others don’t agree with me because God does not want us to agree, regardless of who is right.

This may sound odd, but we must consider it. I said earlier that I was a Calvinist. While this does not give me exclusive right to the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, it does require me to consider what part it might play in the question: Why doesn’t everyone agree with me? What I am really asking is this: Why isn’t everyone unified around the truth?

[Tweet “I believe God does not want absolute doctrinal unity right now.”]

I believe that it is a real possibility—even likelihood—that God does not want absolute doctrinal unity right now. In fact, practically speaking, it could do more harm than good. I believe doctrinal disagreements are often healthy for the church. When there is conflict between opposing viewpoints, the issue at hand is understood at a more profound level than is possible in the absence of conflict. Conflict, in the end, can bring about a deeper conviction of the truth. When there is no conflict, there is no iron sharpening iron in the same way.

I am not in any sense trying to relativize the truth, but to help us understand that wrong beliefs, even our own, could be serving the purpose of God and bringing Him more honor than we recognize. It is often said that heresy is God’s gift to the church. Why? Because when a false option is presented the truth becomes much clearer. In contrast there is clarity. In clarity there is conviction.

It is for this reason that we must be continually engaged with alternative options. As hard as it is to engage in beliefs that go against our present convictions, we need to recognize the value of the struggle. Herein lies what I believe to be one of the greatest strengths of the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura—it presents the opportunity to wrestle with the issues at a level that is not allowed for in magisterium-based traditions.

What I am saying is this: it may actually be God’s sovereignty that brings about division over the doctrine of God’s sovereignty! This does not mean that wrong belief is always justified. Wrong belief is often (though not always) the result of sin. Neither does it mean that we need to be content with agnosticism or lessen our conviction about any doctrinal issue. To the contrary. It means that we engage in it more vigorously than we did before, being confident that God has a dignified reason for conflict resulting from diversity. In the end, we will find that through the conflict our beliefs become stronger, not weaker. I believe we must open ourselves up to the possibility of being wrong in order to find truer faith and conviction.

[Tweet “It may actually be God’s sovereignty that brings about division over the doctrine.”]

In Celebration of Division

We have learned to celebrate diversity in every area of life. We celebrate the diversity of the sexes. Men: can you imagine a world where women did not contribute to a balanced perspective? That is horrifying. Women, can you imagine the opposite (don’t answer that!)? Think of the diversity among personalities, nations, political parties, age groups, and cultures. While we may believe that our opinion is correct (and it may be), from a certain perspective we can appreciate dissent in values, beliefs, and practices. Understanding diversity can often cause us to see that the answer to many issues is going to be more of a both/and rather than an either/or. We could both be right and we could both be wrong.

In the end, if God is in control, then the answer to my question is relatively simple. Why doesn’t everyone agree with me? Because it is not God’s will for them to do so. This is to His glory. Why? His will is better accomplished through diversity. In this I think we can learn to celebrate diversity without yielding to the postmodern matrix of relativism, uncertainty, or apathy.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at [email protected]

    276 replies to "Why Are There So Many Divisions in the Church?"

    • Tyler Cowden

      I tend to agree. It makes me think of Ephesians 4:13-14. The full unity of the body of Christ (doctrinally and practically) is an *eschatological* reality by God’s sovereign design and plan.

    • Josh K.

      Have you read Christian Smith’s recent book, _The Bible Made Impossible_? He interacts with the idea of biblicism, shows why all the reasons we give for disagreement are naive or arrogant (corresponding with your numbers 1-7 above), and argues that what he calls “pervasive interpretive pluralism” does indeed make biblicism impossible. It’s an interesting read.

    • Tio Papo

      It reminds me of the early philosophers; one over here said “the truth is fire”, another over there said “no is water”…but give these disagreable bipedals 2000 years of monkeying around wiith words and wa-la…..you have a pretty good grasp on things. Our disagreements may be just the very early stages of our eternal growth that awaits us….Can you imagine what we will be talking about in a trillion years from now, Michael?

    • C Michael Patton

      Yes, I read it. However, it read more like a Catholic work with so many straw men I had to put it down. Works like that are more effective when they are internally produced.

    • mbaker

      Good thoughts, Michael, and see you’re not wrong this time! 🙂

      Seriously though, you brought out a good point that diversity is sometimes mistaken for division or lack of unity when we don’t agree with someone, or vice versa.

    • Personally I believe one’s approach to the Holy Scripture is more important, than one’s theological details per se, of course the biblical doctrine of God really must follow hard. The top tier Reformational and Reformed people all held to the belief and authority of Holy Scripture. Sadly, this is no longer true in the so-called modern and even evangelical church, i.e. the “emergents”, etc.

      Btw, just a note, I enjoyed reading Ken Sparks book: God’s Word in Human Words, etc. (A Baker Academic, 2008). But one book that simply every serious theolog should read is David Wenham’s fine book: Paul, Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? The great E. Earle Ellis (RIP) called it “a virtual theology of Christ and of his apostle.”

      Tertullian and Augustine were Traducian, as I think Gregory of Nyssa. In our time there are several also, note the American Gordon Clark.

      I am myself an eclectic Anglican, but always a biblical presupper! Btw, Michcal have you read much of Cornelius Van Til? I loved Frame’s book: An Analysis of His Thought! Van Til’s conclusion was that intelligible predication presupposes the biblical God, this includes the biblical attributes of God, which always presupposes the doctrine of God, sovereign. Btw, I think we can say that Calvin entitles the providence of God as “the true theology.”

    • cherylu


      I am wondering if you including even the most basic tenet’s of our faith in what you are saying here? Those issues that you included in a post sometime ago as essential for salvaltion or essential for historic orthodoxy? Such things as the belief in the deity of Christ and belief in the Trinity?

      The reason I am asking is that there are some very sophisticated thinkers out there in the Christian world these days that are reexamining things as basic as these beliefs. Sitting down and working through all of these newly presented ideas out there is likely a very intimadating idea for many ordinary person-in-the-pew Christian.

    • C Michael Patton

      Definitely. We all need to examine these with the supposition that we could be wrong. This does not mean that we suppose that we are wrong, just that our beliefs are not infallible.

      But, for example, having worked many things through, we don’t have to continue to keep an open mind. For example, I don’t have an open mind any more that God might not exist any more than I do that a triangle may have four sides. If I were, for some reason, to become an atheist, it would be because of emotional reasons rather than rational ones.

      But even (indeed, especially) in our most basic and foundational beliefs, we need to suppose at some point that we could be wrong so that we might strengthen in our conviction about the subject. After all, isn’t this what we ask other religious believers (who are very convicted about their beliefs) to do? Should we not have done the same in the past?

    • Yes, fewer Christians today seen to care about the so-called ‘essentials of historic orthodoxy’, I think myself some of this comes from at least some of the ideas and questions of pressing an evidential form of Christianity. Seeking and asking questions that scripture simply just does not answer. However, the Trinity is certainly not in that place! It is one thing not to understand our Triune God, quite another to say it is not necessary in the doctrine of God and faith.

    • Michael: I don’t agree with you on this last idea, of supposing that we should somehow call into question some if not all of our foundational beliefs, and this will somehow make them stronger? Again, this is part of the problem of thinking that we must somehow make “evidential” probes into our doctrine and faith. I just don’t agree! It seems much of the so-called Evangelical Church just misses the whole Creedal structure of the Historic Church! The whole catechetical element was part of the early & apostolic church. And too, even in the Reformation the catechesis and creed was simply part of the Church’s instruction. The Creed and catechesis, is a tool for the rule of faith, as used in the Christian Church, and was and is a summary of revealed Truth, taken itself from Holy Scripture. It is a form of words, that set forth with authority certain articles of belief, which the Church itself regards as necessary for and to salvation. And to quote Schaff, ‘these truths, which the Bible reveals in the popular form of life and fact, the Creed gathers up in the logical form of Doctrine.’

      And the Reformed Church & Christian especially stands upon this Creedal Witness! Indeed perhaps on a personal level, one might want to look and renew their thoughts about the “foundation” of faith & doctrine, but never to the point of thinking that the Holy Spirit has not led the Church in the right path and direction! 🙂

    • G.H.

      I’m Eastern Orthodox with Calvinist sympathies and a a postmil! How do you like them apples? No, seriously, I am all those things and it has lead me to the same view as you: that God does not want total agreement at this point in time. I think the ‘mustard tree’ is growing and as the seed unfolds and the roots grow there is a certain chaos on the outside but deep within the genetic information God has buried is working itself out in the Church as it matures in all its manifestations: Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican, Copt etc.

      I actually pray that one day we all be one as Christ asked his Father we be. Then we can give the secularists a real run for their money.

      peace in Christ

    • G.H.

      PS i am fully aware how strange it might seem to others to say I am EO with calvnist tendencies and a postmil. I did NOT come about that lightly but after 25 years of study and prayer (and reading a lot of Greek –though that is not as difficult as it sounds since I am a Greek).

    • Pete again

      1) “To be infallible means that you cannot fail.” I agree. The only “infallible” thing is the Church.

      Matthew 16:18-19: And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

      Christ is the Head of the Church. Christ can never fail; His Body can never fail; the Church can never fail.

      Ephesians 1:22-23: And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

      Maybe it may be worthwhile to look east, to the church that hasn’t changed it’s theology, and hasn’t failed, in 2,000 years. No popes, no indulgences, no papal/patriarchal infallibility, no mandatory celibate priesthood, no Immaculate Conception, no purgatory, no limbo of infant souls. Just the most martyrs.

      2) “I believe that it is a real possibility—even likelihood—that God does not want absolute doctrinal unity right now.” – Michael Patton

      John 17:20-22: I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory that You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one. – Jesus Christ

      I’ll side w/God on this one, Michael, thanks for you opinion, though. You bring up interesting topics!

      Glory to God…

      • C Michael Patton

        God also calls on us to be perfect. Do you think that this is something God has actively brought about or has a permissive will at this time since this is not an actuality. god both wills for our perfection and does not will for it. This is what theologians talk about when they distinguish between the will of desire and will of decree. So, in my opinion right now, I think that God wills for perfect unity but has not decreed it as he wills for our perfection but has not decreed it. In both cases, as I said in the OP, God uses our imperfections and “wills” it for his glory.

    • Pete again

      Michael, but we should NEVER stop TRYING to be perfect.

      Matthew 7:13-14: Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

      The church has always seen divisions as anathema.

    • C Michael Patton

      The church has always allowed for adiaphoria. The vincintian canon is literally written on the wall at my work. But since the time of the first articulation of the regula fide, the church has allowed for freedom in non essentials.

    • C Michael Patton

      Btw Pete. You seem to be a very kind and gracious representative of your views. We very much appreciate that around here. Even if we disagree, such things gain an ear. Keep it up.

    • Steve Cornell

      Move this discussion from doctrine to practice and things get even more interesting. We should apply the principles regarding disputable matters to both doctrine and practice. There is a category of “things permitted, or left to free and responsible judgment according to the best of our knowledge and conscience.”

      Scripture does not always demand uniformity of opinion among Christians, but it always demands unity of disposition (see Romans 14:3; 1 Peter 3:8; Eph. 4:1-3).

      Of course, this is not all easily resolved. When we treat our personal convictions as absolutes from God, we wrongly threaten the unity of the church. When we reduce God’s clearly stated absolutes to matters of personal preference, we threaten the purity of the church.

    • Pete again

      Good morning Steve,

      The eastern church has always believed that the Scriptures clearly state that uniformity of doctrine is important: 1 Cor 1:10 4:17 11:2 12:24-25, Eph 4:5 4:11-14, Gal 1:8-9 5:19-21 (re: heresies), Phi 2:1-2 3:16, 2 Thes 2:15, Titus 1:7-9 2:7, 1 Tim 1:3 4:6 4:16, 2 Tim 1:13 2:2 3:10, Jude 1:3

      Schism has always been anatema to the historical church.

      And I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph, well said!: “When we treat our personal convictions as absolutes from God, we wrongly threaten the unity of the church. When we reduce God’s clearly stated absolutes to matters of personal preference, we threaten the purity of the church.”

      Glory to God for all things

    • sam

      Id love to talk with you, and get to the bottom of all issues.email me at [email protected] id love to talk over the phone and open the scriptures!! I hope you do!! GOD Bless!!

    • Concerning the EO and Orthodoxy, I came very close to going over a few years ago, but I realized I was reacting more to the liberalism in my own so-called Communion, at least historically. I am myself very close to the EO on Christology and the Trinity of God, and somewhat close to their positions about Mary as the Theotokos. However, saying all this, I ran right smack into a wall, when it came to the Doctrines of Grace, and Soteriology. And also the Pauline doctrines of Imputation and Adoption. But of course I was moving toward their priesthood, and not as a so-called layman. So a Reformed and Calvinist priest or “presbyter”, is really an oxymoron with and in the EO, as we can see with the Church’s position toward the person and theology of Augustine himself. Some Orthodox won’t even call Augustine a saint!

      But, the EO has many great saints and theolog’s, the list is profound! I myself just love the man and work Georges Florovsky! And Vladimir Lossky’s book: The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church is a must read for all serious Christians! As too the Orthodox Brit, Timothy Ware’s few classic books. Note, today, Robert Letham’s book: Through Western Eyes, Eastern Orthodoxy: A Reformed Perspective.

    • PS..Note there really is no place for Imputation (Federal Headship) in the EO. Nor really the place of theological Adoption (which is a Greco-Roman) metaphor. This is simply a fault-line with East-West theology, certainly Augustinian.

    • And btw, there has been a close ecumenical connection between some of the EO with Anglicanism (mostly English), that goes back to the 1930’s, I was myself involved, several years ago with an Anglican and Orthodox dialogue group. I still have my copy of the Anglican Bishop Nugent Hicks, D.D. book: The Fulness Of Sacrifice, An Essay In Reconciliation, (1930, first edition…my copy is the Third edition, S.P.C.K., 1953). This book should really be re-printed! A must read for theological Anglicans, this book is really about the Atonement of Christ, from the Second Edition, I quote: “When Paul speaks of the blood of Christ. he is thinking of His life as laid down in self-decication to God.” Thus He was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross (Phil. ii, 8), and “the language of sacifice expresses figuratively a reality which is personal and ethical.” Though the great Dr. J.K. Mozley’s review of the book, mentioned in the Second Edition Preface, was somewhat critical. Mozley felt that “in the Epistle to the Hebrews alone is there an exposition of the work of Christ as the fulfilment of the old Jewish sacrificial system.”

    • sam

      I my self is a preterist. I have a hard time underatanding why Christianity of today is looking for Christ to return, when He told is auidance He will return in there life time. (Matt:16 the last verses. John:21 the last verses) not to mention rev. Uses the words soon near, at hand, John is told not to seal up the words cause the time is at hand. These words are streached 2000+ years in todays doctrin. No where in the bible is there any hint of the return of Christ at the end of the world. Todays biblicial reading is domanated by reading literiqly, and translate the words with a 21st centry english rendering!! Thats more of a problem then free will!!

    • Myself, like Michael, I am a Historic Pre-Millennialist, I too have been around all the eschatological positions. But literally after many years the position that appears to honor Holy Scripture and the fullness of the Covenant/covenants is the Historic Pre-Mill. This includes a parcel-preterist position. That God has initiated His Salvation History is certain (Gen. 3: 15-16, etc.), but the biblical promise of the Lord’s literal Second Coming to His own creation is seen in both the OT and New. If we miss this, then we certainly miss one of the most profound promises of the Bible and biblical revelation! When our Lord ascended into heaven from the Mount of Olives or Olivet, the two angels spoke to the disciples…”Men of Galilee, why do stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” And this promise is surely connected with Acts 1:6, and the Lord’s literal Coming and the Kingdom on earth to the Nation of Israel, (Matt. 24 / Zech. 14: 4, see also Rev. 1:5-7). The Lord will fulfill His promises to His People & Nation Israel! This will be a grand and stupendous fulfillment for both Creation and all the People of God, both for Jews and Gentiles! (Rev. 20-22)

    • Lock

      Michael, your writing is stronger than even 3 years ago. A noticeable difference.

    • Craig Bennett

      Could it be, that within God’s framework of existence, there is truth in every position and that its not as black and white as we would have it.

      I’m thinking once again through the 5 tenses of salvation and what that means within the outworking of those tenses.

    • shawn

      Interesting topic.

      By the way, just read about you in CHRISTIANITY TODAY…good job!

      As a side note, take a look at C. Gordon Olson’s BETWEEN CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM for an example at how we don’t have to choose either of these theological systems.

    • Anne

      …and I have to wonder if God allows all this because it has the great potential of promoting love, which is what He values the most.

    • Jonathan

      everyone’s entitled to my opinion 🙂

      seems to me life’s about recognising Jesus for who He is, so that instead of living on the vine yet cut off from His life we come to God thru Him in repentance and faith and receive His life.
      we now abide in Him, bear fruit, get pruned, we ‘keep ourselves in the love of God’, etc.

      the governing factor is choice – I choose to be chosen.
      Calvinism and Arminianism meet at the point of choice.

      beware of all ‘-isms’.
      the only ‘isms’ I favour are Evangelism and Baptism.

      the premillenial rapture is a crock because it implies 2 second comings – which is impossible otherwise that’d mean a 2nd and a 3rd coming.
      let’s get back to the gospel that Jesus and the Apostles preached.
      and re-embrace the view of the end of the age that the early church fathers had –
      we will go through the big trouble.
      it ain’t rocket science, yet ‘theologians’ want to make a big deep deal out of it

      Rev 7.13-14
      Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?
      I said to him, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

      you can’t come out of something unless you’re in it first.
      that’s why Biblical Baptism is full immersion.

      gain an understanding of the Covenants – there are 5 of them – and it all falls into place

    • Craig: Indeed God is always His own profound mystery, but His truth is often observable and apparent, especially in the Historical Church Catholic. And of course there is no “time” for God, just His will and purpose, and His own eternity. But for the Christian there is a past, present and future to God’s revelation and economy, as God Himself unfolds His Salvation History. We have not yet seen or reached the compete eschatological end, which will of course be God In Christ, and our Triune God. Yeah, I am just a bit creedal! 🙂

    • mbaker

      It’s interesting that sometimes in the modern day church we take agreement as unity and disagreement as not. Either way, IMO, it shuts down valid discussion.

      I don’t mind any doctrine being questioned or discussed in the church. In fact, I welcome it. What I do mind is those who claim to be orthodox who are never able to quite settle themselves personally on the foundations of Christianity in the end.

      That’s far more confusing than anything else to me in the long run, as a believer. So I can well imagine how much more so it may seem to unbelievers, because I think it’s much more detrimental to the spread of the gospel when someone’s personal opinion becomes the main venue in which that is preached.

    • Michael

      What about “they don’t agree with me because they are interpreting the Bible wrongly?”, in other words, “their hermeneutic is terrible”?

      This seems to be the cases in many disagreements with your average non-Th.D./Ph.D Christian.

    • mbaker


      I hear you! And I am not talking about you personally and if you have gotten that impression, I totally apologize, but I am talking about those who promote books and CD’s to push their own personal opinions, (which there seems to be a lot of them nowadays), and thus seem to agree with the Bible only to the extent that it agrees with their personal opinions.

      I know you are not there.

    • mbaker: The Christian pastor-teacher is always a student himself, and should also be a theological reader, quite simply. We can even see that Paul read quite a bit, and even outside his Jewish circle, (Titus 1:12), etc. Paul was simply a Jewish Greco-Roman Christain (and Roman citizen), but also an Apostle of Christ.

    • Michael: Allow me to share this piece from Herman Bavinck…

      ‘Scripture itself claims that it proceeded from the Spirit of God and maintains this claim over against all criticism. Every attempt to divest it of the mysterious character of its origin, content, and power has up until now ended in defeat and in letting Scripture be Scripture. A [doctrine of] inspiration, therefore, is not an explanation of Scripture, nor actually a theory, but it is and ought to be a believing confession of what Scripture witnesses concerning itself, despite the appearance that is against it. Inspiration is a dogma, like the dogma of the Trinity, the incarnation, etc., which Christians accept, not because they understand the truth of it but because God so attests it. It is not a scientific pronouncement but a confession of faith. In the case of inspiration, as in the case of every other dogma, the question is not in the first place how much can I and may I confess without coming into conflict with science, but what is the witness of God and what, accordingly, is the pronouncement of the Christian faith? And then there is only one possible answer: Scripture presents itself as the word of God and in every century the church of God has recognized it as such. Inspiration is based on the authority of Scripture and has received the affirmation of the church of all the ages.’

    • Alfonso

      Wonderful, Michael! We must contend for the truth (Jude 3), though we would do well to have a good platform for contending for it. And there lies the distinction at arriving at the truth or furthering an agenda – knowingly or mindlessly.

    • mbaker

      Fr. Robert,

      I agree. But I think sometimes the impression in some areas of the church nowadays which is one of the points I believe CMP was trying to bring out, (and hopefully I didn’t get him wrong ) is that laymen can interpret the Bible as well.

      Certanlyireal unity not only is not there are errors on both sides and but

    • Carl D'Agostino

      The very New Testament is basically a version produced by the early Catholic church. These alleged scriptures have been altered with additions and
      deletions and retro editing to support that theology. And we agree and disagree and decipher in earnest I don’t think we have an accurate NT in the first place and our beliefs are founded on doctored scripture. I am not convinced that all the heresies(Lost Christianities) that Eusebius describes and relates how they were crushed are heresies at all. If there were alternative understandings of Jesus just 50 years after death, how can anyone claim to have the exclusive understanding today 2,000 years later?

    • mbaker

      Sorry about the way that last comment ended. I only meant to say that there always errors on both of sides of Christian theology but in the end we ALL have to agree on the Bible as our truth, not popular opinion regardless of what personal denomination we are.

    • mbaker: Agreed, but we do have much common ground in the historical Church, with Word and Creed. I am always a “Churchman”! 🙂

    • Ken Fountain

      Be really careful with this stuff. Recall the one who was casting out demons in Jesus name who was forbidden by the disciples because he was not one of them. Jesus said “Let him alone, for if he is…

      I would have thought that Jesus would at least require baptism or sprinkling or some such. But He didn’t

    • Dan Martin

      Wow, Michael, I love this post! I am almost none of the things you list for yourself at the beginning; I am seriously anti-Calvinist, I consider the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy to be a grave error, and I consider any firm conviction about the kind of millenialism one should espouse to be pointless at best and harmful schism at worst. And I come to all of those perspectives precisely from a radical form of Sola Scriptura.

      But the open spirit in which you argue for the need for dialog and exposure to different points of view is absolutely, without reservation, correct. May your tribe increase!

    • Tom Zelaney

      Part 1

      I’m not sure as well but I do not think that remodelling a bad situation (such divisivness) into a blessing intended by the Almighty is a good way of answering the problem. As I see it the problem goes back to the various aspects of Sola Scriptura:

      1) The notion that the Scriptures (written only) are the sole and entire guide to salvation. I cannot find anywhere in Scripture an unambiguous plain statement of this sola scriptura theory. I have read what James White has written on the subject and his quote are thoroughly unconvincing. Especially when I realize that he is quoting the New Testament whicvh was not codified until the end of the second century. Am I to conclude that no one prior to that date had any way of knowing and being saved? And if not, how did they know and achieve salvation without the scriptures. Worse yet wherever the New Testament book refer to Scripture they are usually referring to the Old Testament only and when they pruposely refer to their own writings they many times sieem to include written and spoken teachings implying outright that not all teachings needed were committed to writing but hande on orally. Actually, given the paucity of books and literacy until the 1600s for printing effectively producing a volume of bibles and sometime in the 1800’s for the general spread of literacy, I wonder how any one was ever save if only written Scripture was the sole guide to salvation.

      2) That the inner light of a true believer can…

    • Tom Zelaney

      Part 2

      2) That the inner light of a true believer can assuredly understand the plain truth of Scripture by the grace of God. This is another collorary to Sola Scripture emphasized by many reformers and repeated into modern time by such as John Wesley. But I cannot for the life of me find any support for this corollary except something was needed to somehow guarrantee the interpretation of Scripture form error. But what I see before me is a babble of conflicting voices sincerely disagreeing over the interpretation of Scripture to the ectent that they break off and found yet another Protestant denomination.

      Furthermore, since words assume new meanings and connotation over time, it is highly likely that we are missing the point of many Scripture passages simply due to the changes and elaboration fo word meaning in the intervening centuries. And this leads to the inquirer’s thought that we need an infallible interpreter which in Protestantism leads to the academic credentialed experts in exegesis and interpretation. But the majority of these now deny what were formerly essential doctrines of Christianity so we are being led astray by a tyranny of experts and pundits.

      3) I for one have recently ceased defending Sola Scriptura or even engaging in debate on the subject. I cannot find any historical evidence of this doctrine prior to Luther’s framing it in the 16th century and others of the reformers elaborating on it as well. But prior to that time, no…

    • Tom Zelaney

      Part 3

      theologian, no doctor or Father of the church, no saint or sinner ever advanced this doctirne. Instead I’ve found in studying the early church that the Fathers of the church, the Doctors of the church, the bishops and patriarchs, the Greek and Latin monastics, the common believers all looked to a central authority developing over the centuries but present from the beginning climaxin in Augustine’s famous phrase “Roma locuta ests; causa finita est.” And these churchmen mentioned not one but three sources for Christian truth consistently, Scripture, Tradition and the Roman Primacy.

      I can only conclude that the reason for the lamentabel division among the 20 to 30K Protestant denominations is precisely the unintended result of Sola Scriptura and private interpretation of Scripture.

      Lastly I was told recen5tly by a friend, ” Christ did not leave the Apostles a book; rather he left them themselves as theChurch, the assembly. He entrusted his continuing mission to this group and their successors not to a book.”

    • David C.

      You write about disagreement, but a larger problem seems to be apathy. I come to this site from time to time, although I am Catholic, because it increases my faith to read work by people who write out of a real Christian faith, and also a belief that one can think about and debate that faith in a meaningful way. Ideas about God are generally considered to be little more than personal opinions about which there is nothing more to be said, since everybody is, as they say, entitled to their own opinion. It is just refreshing to find a site where the tradition matters, where theology is considered possible and important, and where people actually express thoughts and opinions on these things, even if not everybody can agree on everything. Almost everywhere in these times, apathy, or something worse, seems to reign.

      I thank you for what you are doing here with this site, trying to teach and clarify thought, so that we might all be one in Christ.

    • Paul Leonard

      The real possibility is that most of the beliefs that are held come from the weed filled period of the “Church” and are not true to begin with. We see within 20 years of Jesus’ death that false teachings were already present in the Church. By the end of the century it was rampant as we see in Rev chapters 2 and 3. Man’s belief in his own wisdom caused massive doctrinal debates and changes, including violence against those who would not agree. This was evidence of the weeds filling the Church until, as Jesus’ said, they were not to be separated as some genuine wheat might be pulled out. Only in the Last Days/Harvest would the wheat be separated from the weeds. The “Church” of the last nearly 2000 years is weed filled and many believers simply don’t see that and hold to many man made traditions and beliefs. HOW do we discern which are man made and which are truly Biblical is the real question?

    • Pete again


      “Roma locuta ests; causa finita est.” Augustine was describing what happened when two councils (from the African bishops) had been sent to Rome (the Apostolic See) and Rome had replied and made the decision. These bishops/councils were WITHIN the see of Rome. He never made this claim about a dispute in another patriarchate. If you were trying to translate that phrase into “supreme papal primacy”, and looking for Augustine to defend your position, you are out of luck. No such treatise exists.

    • Spurgeon once said he would as soon defend a lion, as to defend Holy Scripture! But the conviction that Scripture is or should be the primary authority in the church was shared by the ancient church, as well as the medieval church. Btw, Luther himself said that as early as among his scholastic teachers he learned that “faith” is due the Bible alone, while only an “opinion” should be assigned all others. But yes, I will go with the idea and truth (I believe) that ‘Holy Scripture’ is the absolute, and not some coequal of Church & Tradition. But hey, I am Reformational and Reformed Christian, but also a “Churchman” therein. The “Church” is certainly part of the “mainstay” of truth (1 Tim. 3:15), but always stands before Scripture itself.

    • Ryan

      Is everyone here agreed on whether there is a difference between doctrine and dogma? As an Orthodox dogma is unchangeable truth that concerns salvation, i.e.- virgin birth, literal death of Christ, resurrection, second coming, Trinity, etc. Doctrine is flexible and open for discussion. To me this whole blog seems to beat a dead horse.

      Dogma was determined conciliarly over the course of hundreds of years. Doctrine, though some is more universally accepted, may not be universally accepted at all. Further, in a more modern context, when you and I, or a small group and another small group is fighting, I think staying humble and quiet is advised. My reading of Scripture and understanding of history (well my understanding in general), is limited. Who am I to assert that the I have something that you don’t? Maybe I do, and it may be only for my salvation, not yours, and to ram it down your throat as dogma is foolish and divisive.

    • mbaker

      Just to add to my previous comments that should have been that we think laymen ‘can’t’ interpret the Bible as well Certainly the reformation should have proved that otherwise.

      That’s why we must believe this is why the Holy Spirit is given to all of us so whoever we are, and perhaps not having the advantage of churches or creeds to to guide us, we can still be open to the true word of the Lord through His guidance.

      Certainly there are extremes of that on both sides in either making it too much about the creeds or over stressing the Holy Spirit’s role to the expense of others in the Godhead, as some in hyper-charismatic circles do.

    • Just a note, Pre-Mill does not mean Pre-trib, I am Post-trib all the way! As I think Michael also?

      And just a note to my EO brothers, we cannot argue the sola Scriptura issue here!

    • mbaker

      Fr Robert,

      That’s worth a post of it’s own! While i can see all sides of the debate, I do not think that is particularly relevant in this particular discussion, so don’t think we should make that in issue here in discussing the original OP.

    • Paul Leonard

      Dogma was determined by men not God. The appeal was to human reasoning and philosophy more than Scripture and none of the beliefs you list (true or false) were ever shared by the whole “Church” in the first three centuries nor even after that.

      What do the Scriptures teach without human philosophy is the crux of the matter, not what men decided, even at times as directed or decide by Rulers, is what is critical. Everyone claims to hold to dogma, but Jesus words about the weeds makes anything that came out of the”Church’ after the end of the 1st century highly suspect.

      What did Jesus say would identify his followers/disciples? Dogma or???

    • Randy Harris

      Great topic, one that deserves much discussion, given that there are something like 6,000 distinct denominations now recognized in the world. Very sad indeed, given that Christ and the Apostles said that we should be one, as the Father and Son are one.

      I have moved from Arminian and pre-mil to Calvinist and Post-mil in the course of 30 years from much study and reading of books. I also hold to exclusive psalmody and non-use of instruments in worship, a position very few hold today even though it was the solid majority position of Christian thought for some 1500 years.

      I think a primary reason for division is ignorance of other positions and, unfortunately in many cases, good old sinful pride. If you are in one environment all of your life, it is hard to know of, let alone comprehend, other belief positions or systems.

      I think the Credo House should be an ideal environment for the sharing of different beliefs, and arguments presented defending the belief’s position. Frankly, I think both eschatology and congregational worship are two doctrines that need to be desperately debated and discussed today. I do not believe the advancement of the Kingdom against a hostile culture and society can be achieved without a proper understanding of these doctrines.

      Can this possibly be advanced in the future with Credo House?

      For Christ’s Crown and Covenant,

      Randy Harris
      Heritage Presbyterian Church, PCA
      Oklahoma City, OK

    • Andy Coppinger

      I disagree with you on Calvinism. I also disagree with Arminianism. Why is it one or the other?

      On your “possible reasons” list, you said: “Others don’t agree with me because we don’t have an infallible authoritative interpreter of Scripture that would bring doctrinal unity (lack of a Pope).”

      Don’t forget about The Helper bro. The Holy Spirit trumps the pope any day. This is one of the reasons why the book of John is my favorite of the Gospels. I’m lost without the Holy Spirit. John 16:13. I’m desperate for Him.

      On “pre-election,” what is your take on scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:1-6? or John 3:17…

      ps. Thanks again for having Dr. Mike Licona. That was an awesome night.

    • William Mayor

      I would point out that I can be tolerant of other viewpoints because I have held so many myself at one time or another. However, I would also point out that we receive contradictory orders in the NT. We are told to resist the evil one, and stand firm against him. Likewise we are told to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. And to make it even more confusing, he who is not against Christ is for Him.

      Now are we to show tolerance or are we to stand firm against those who disagree with us?

    • Bob Anderson

      Michael – This is a very good article. Let me suggest a third possibility that I have come to consider in the course of my theological and spiritual walk.

      It is quite possible that we disagree because we are asking the wrong questions. Our studies of theology often forced us into paradigms and theological grids through which we interpret all else, often leading to conflict with people having other theological paradigms. But there is a possibility that we are simply asking the wrong questions in our theological pursuits – questions that have stemmed from conflicts that no longer exists and may not have existed for the original writers of the texts we hold dear.

      Whenever, I get into a conflict, particularly the ones that may affect the unity of the church, I always ask – “Am I asked the right thing of this text? Would this even have been an issue for those early Jewish writers?”

      Of course, I might be wrong here. 😉

    • Dan Martin

      @Bob Anderson, your point about asking the wrong questions is key to this whole debate. The dogmas that @Fr. Robert and @Ryan referred to in several of their posts, are absolutely human extractions from Scripture as @Paul Leonard correctly pointed out. Many of them–including the dogma of the Trinity itself–were constructed to clarify or establish the answers to questions that had not been posed, let alone conclusively answered, by the authors of our canonical books.

      It startles me how the church does not seem to recognize the hubris implied in helping God out by clarifying ambiguities in the truth he revealed…

    • Steve Skeete

      There is old cliche which says we should endeavor to “disagree without being disagreeable”. I hold to this since it makes sense.

      The fact is, you and I may disagree, even on issues we consider fundamental, and remain firm friends for life. Our conversations and discussions may be, at times, heated and passionate, but this still does not have to affect our relationship. This may even happen if I am totally convinced of my rightness.

      While the writer exalts diversity I tend to emphasize relationship. Maintaining relationship and building friendship ought never to be sacrificed on the altar of rightness.

      And do not worry about infallibility. Christian charity and humility will almost certainly take care of that.

    • Mike O

      There were already 58 comments when I read this, so I apologize if someone has already said this.

      1) Many of the things that Christians disagree about simply don’t matter. It’s not that the disagreement has value, rather it may simply be irrelevant. Pre-trib or not? We’ll find out when it happens but nobody’s going to hell over it.

      2) It is possible that there are *multiple* right answers. Who can know the mind of God? Couldn’t a God who never changes operate Calvinistically in once situation and Armenianistically in another, and still be a God who never changes because he ALWAYS had both options at his disposal?

      It is my experience that most of the things Christians debate about, we debate because we present the problem as an either-or scenario. “Either I’m right or you are.” What about “both right?” Or both wrong? Or either-or.

      If God was always an either-or God, we would be more likely to figure these things out. But we can’t seem to. Perhaps that is evidence that we’re not supposed to agree because, from God’s perspective, there is no conflict. Of course, debate is healthy and good. I’m just saying there is another reason people don’t agree with you. Sometimes the problem isn’t supposed to resolve to agreement, rather to compatability. Or humility. The questions keep us leaning into Him rather than our own ability to figure it out. The search for “THE right answer” is valuable (and fun!). But most of the time, agreement…

    • sam

      I agree! But people do not want to bow down to what Jesus said!! They dont want to confront that there (what they think) holy spirit is revealimg to them. The fact is this. The Holy Spirit opened there eyes to the scriptures, not our eyes. Isarel has been redemmed, we have no salvation apart from there’s! All Isarel has been saved (then) as in the 12 tribes being one again under Jesus reigning. He sits on davids throne, (when they were one tribe) and rules!! We must be willing to say I am, was wrong!! If we really love God! The bible was not written to us, its left for us! But we muat put our mindset in the old testamemt, they taught out of it. Todays Christianity teaches a different gosple than what Paul preaches.

    • Mike O

      Aahh! My clincher got cut off! My last line (up a couple comments) was “Agreement is overrated.”

    • Leonard

      Here is one good point of view:

      “being to seek in many things ourselves, it hath pleased God in his Divine Providence here and there to scatter words and sentences of that difficulty and doubtfulness, not in doctrinal points tat concern salvation, (for in such it hath been vouched that the Scriptures are plain,) but in matters of less moment, that fearfulness would better beseem us than confidence, and if we will resolve, to resolve upon modesty with St. Augustine….”

      Now I like to come to a confident assurance of various points so well as I can, however, this point of view, or like it is what I come to. I am not Reformed, or I would say that I am, but I have difficulty with the five points. But then when I am around a confident (old fashioned) Methodist or Arminian, then I find willingness in me to contest that certainty. That above stated point of view that I quoted being from the translators to the reader, of the King James Bible.

    • Ananya

      Enjoying the discussion 🙂

    • Christa O.

      Wow–THAT is way cool! How freeing to remember that God is big enough and to keep in perspective that point on humility. Thank u!

    • Jack High

      When Christ tells us to enter by the narrow door, there have always been some who think that means “Don’t drink, smoke, or chew.” I rather see it like a ridge from which one can fall off to the right or to the left. One cannot but agree with your general statement that humility and the possibility of being wrong in our opinions is wise. However, where hubris represents the cliff on the right, relativism represents the cliff on the left. Both lead to destruction.
      Where honest agreements exist in the Church, there is usually a reason for them. I call myself a Calvinist, but I also believe that God has given humankind a kind of choice based on reason and conscience that the lower species do not have. This means that there is a very subtle distinction between predestination, which makes room for this choice, and predeterminism, which does not. Still, I do not believe there are any maverick molecules in the cosmos.

      Where more essential doctrines come into play (like the inerrancy of Scripture), I will admit there are believers in Christ who do not understand that this is both necessary and true. Certainly, as baby Christians, we may not expect them to believe this. And others may err because they are being led by unbelieving shepherds. Nonetheless, once the error is believed, given our human propensity to idolatry, each person will pick construct the Gospel & Christ of their choice.

      In these matters, I think we should expect more of our leaders than…

    • johnrob bantang

      Jn 17:21
      Jn 16:13
      I think that the gift of infallibility is in order. Otherwise, God failed in this divine Promise.

      Jesus ordered the Faithful to follow the precepts given by the Scribes and Pharisees just **because they have taken the seat (Office) of Moses**. So must we to those who have taken the Seat (Office) of the Apostles.

    • I love to read John Wesley! And also Charles Hymns! Both of the Wesley brother’s were always Anglicans. And the case has been made theologically that John was always close to Luther’s doctrine of Justfication. As too perhaps he was close to Calvin here also (see his Journal, Tues. May 14, 1765). Justification was always by faith, plus nothing for John and Charles Wesley!

      Wesley could write in 1790, just a year before his death: “About fifty years ago I had a clearer view than before of justification by faith; and in this, from that very hour, I never varied, no, not a hair’s breath.” And from his ‘Notes on the NT’.. Thus the foundation of justification rests on man’s sinfulness aand Christ’s righteousness.”

      Whatever has become of the Methodist Church? The Wesley’s were Reformational here! Btw, note as Michael has, the grand book by Oden: The Justification Reader, simply sweet and historical! Also Oden has a fine book on the life and theology of John Wesley.

    • sam

      Thats not gonna happen. Why? Jesus opened there eys the meaning of the scriptues. Our eyes aren’t open!! We read the bible with western 21st. century eyes, and coinside the meaning of prophecy with todays headlines. Jesus was talking to the disciples, and told them things they would see, and hear. We weren’t there. He’s not talking to us, nor were those words written to us. Were not apostles, were not Holy Spirit inapired!! The Holy Spirit will not translate the bible from greek to english.

    • @sam, I would love to take on this subject with you! But this wee blog post here is not it! The whole doctrine of chiliasm, or millennialism is simply ancient! With many early “fathers”, from Irenaeus to Tertullian, with of course Papias and Justin. Note too, the Commentary on the Apocalypse by Victorinus of Pettau (third century). And note here too btw, that Jerome stifled the orginal chapters of Rev. 20 and 21, with his own non-chiliastic interpetation. The undoctored version came out in 1916 (Haussleiter’s edition). But we must leave it here! The historical point is hopefully made!

      *I would myself, state the late date & idea of full Preteristism! Also note too, I have been both A-Mill and Post-Mill, in my past. But Historic Pre-Mill for about 20 years now.

    • @sam: I can appreciate your “zeal” here, I have my real zeal also, especially for certain truth or trues! But, pressing an eschatological position in dogmatic fashion, I hope would not be one of them, overtly. However, for me at least, a full Preterist position is over the historical line, and looses the reality of the literal and personal Second Coming of Christ. Note Rev. 1:7..”Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all the tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so Amen.” This is both historical and eschatological! As is Rev. 22! And after chapter 19 of Revelation, chapters 20 thru 22 certainly run together, no recapitulation here! Sorry, I will curtail to my own advice. 😉 But did want to make a few points on the open blog.

    • @Dam Martin: We Anglican Churchmen call it the ‘development of theological doctrine’, which presses itself from out of Apostolic Dogma! Certainly we see this in the doctrine of the Trinity of God! (It was always there, in scripture, but only pressed out and understood by the Church, as the Church and “mainstay” of the truth, 1 Tim. 3:15, in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit! Who is Himself, the ‘Vicar of Christ’.)

    • PS…@Dan: I say “Anglican” Churchmen, and here let me recommend a classic book by a one time great Anglican, J.N.D. Kelly – Early Christian Doctrines!

    • sam

      Well i see your not fimuliar with old testament language. Coming on clouds is all thru the old testament. Do a phrase study. Its a metaphore for coming judgment, norhing to do with any clouds. All the tribes of the land will mourn, even those who pierced Him. The tribes of the land is Isarel, land, earth in scripture is Isarel. The tribes is the 12 tribes, thats the eys will see (understand) and who are the ones whopierced Him? The jewish leaders. Jesus said that to the jewish leaders who took Him. He said to them quoting daniel 9 and psalms.He said to them YOU (Then not anyone else) will see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of God coming on the clouds with heaven. That was directed twards them, not us here or anybody in the future. Rev. 1 The revalation of Jesus Christ that God gave Him to show His servants what must SOON take place. When written the readers k ew that it was all gonna happen SOON. Not 2000 or more inthere future. John is told notto seal up( the oppisate of dan.) Why? Cause the time was NEAR. not in the far future. Matt 16 the last verses Jesus tells the disciples that some of them willbe alive to see Him coming into His kingdom. John 21 Jesus tells peter that John will he alive when He returns. Thats Jesus words! You are saying that Jesus didn’t come in Johnslife time. Thats scarry!! I won’t get into matt 5:17,18 yet. But read it. It goes against afuture coming.

    • Pete again

      Fr. Robert,

      Augustine is considered a Saint by the Patriarchate of Constantinople (Greek Orthodox):

      But yes, you are correct, most EOs call him “Blessed Augustine” rather than “St. Augustine”.

      From an eastern point of view, his tinkering with our understanding of the Holy Trinity led directly to the filoque and the Great Schism; and as you know, tinker with the creed and the east gets cranky. 🙂

      St. Augustine’s understand of Greek wasn’t that great, and he used some Latin translations of the Scriptures that were of questionable quality when formulating his opinions. Augustine did not have a lot of communications with his eastern contemporaries.

      Doesn’t it bother you just a little that SO MUCH of western doctrine is based upon just one man’s work?

      Glory to God for all things

    • one Holy Apostolic

      I hate to break it to you. The unity(balance) between agreement and disagreement can be found in … Holy Catholic Church… the exact one you have so little knowledge about and have no problem attacking …


    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, if what you mean is a magisterial authority that we lowly laymen should just trust without question, I’m afraid as an Anabaptist I’m forever lost to that particular line of “reasoning.” I am, of course, amused by your specification that it is, of course, the Anglican magisterium, as opposed to all the others, that should be so trusted… ;{)

      And to the point…maybe it was “always there” in Scripture, and maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t. An alternative explanation, and to me a far more coherent one, is that it’s an extrabiblical, even postbiblical establishment of a purported truth that God must’ve forgotten to reveal in Jesus…obviously I’m caricaturing for a reason. That reason is that I believe magisteria in general have been all too eager to go beyond what is written, to the very great detriment (and often schism) of the Body of Christ. The subtle back-and-forth between you and the EO folks on this thread only illustrates my point.

    • @sam Yes, I think I am quite “famillar” with the OT, and its language! I actually READ my Bible daily and can do (read) both the original Hebrew and Greek. Though I confess outside of the Books (note Books) of the Psalms, I read my Greek NT for my A.M. devotion, daily. Something us Anglican priests/presbyters are enjoined to do, at our ordination! Now you have spoken your piece, as I have, hopefully we can move on. We will not solve this here!

      (But I do love the OT. especially Genesis, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Isaiah, Jeremiah, (includes Lamentations), Ezekiel, and here of course Daniel couples on.)

      Btw, note Hosea 3: 5, for both Jews & Gentiles, as “Israel” (the remnant) especially looks for the Restoration!

      Just a note, but you should check for spelling! Looks better! 😉 I am an old teacher! 🙂

    • Mike O

      I’ll put $20 down on Fr. Robert. He’s got Fr in his name and sam isn’t even capitalized. So tI’m giving him the edge based purely on moniker. Any odds-makers in the mix? Actually, since we’ll never know for sure who’s right, sam or Fr Robert, until it’s over, I’ll be there with my $20 ready to pay the winner, whoever it turns out to be! 🙂 Of course, that raises the age-old debate of whether your can “take it with you.” Never mind.

    • sam

      You have not addressed matt 16, and john 21 the last verses? Jesus tell peter that John will be alive when returns. Matt 16 Jesus tells the disciple that some of them won’t tast death till they see His return. Not to mention all the day of the Lord is at hand, soon, near. Why have you not addresed to verses. They go against your future A2nd coming. I want you you to adress them. If Jesus told Peter that John will be alive to see His return, then how do you put it out of his life time. Can you answer?

    • sam

      It is dully noted that Rob. Has brought no scripture to the table, to support any future end of the world 2nd coming. Jesus told the disciples in matt 16 ” the Son will come with the glory of the Father with His Holy angles and His reward will be with Him. There are some standing here who will not tast death till they see the son of man coming into His kingdom. How can there be a future coming in our future if Jesus told them some of them.will be alive to see His return? John 21 Jesus tells peter that John will be alive to see His return. Jesus own worxs put the 2nd coming in the 1st century. Now Rob…. can you dispute Jesus own words to His dosciples?

    • @Dan: Us classic Anglicans – at least – don’t have a wiff of “magisterial” authority, save Scripture & Creed! 😉

      And my EO Brethren, are awesome on the Ecumenical Councils, that for us Anglicans means especially: Nicene, Athanasius, and the Apostles Creed. Btw, Luther was fully Catholic/Orthodox on the Nicene Creed! But, certainly we Reformational and Reformed Christians stand foresquare on sola Scriptura! 🙂

      I hope Dan, your not anti-trinitarian? That would be very bad! It is one thing not to understand the Trinity of God (I mean who does fully, none of us!), but to speak against our Triune God, would be real error, if not more!

      And btw, Creed is simply something of an extension of the statement of the Holy Scripture; perhaps it is the church’s mainstay and function, though it is not infallible, fully. Again we historic Anglican are very close to the EO on the Ecumenical Councils. I think it is save to say, that Orthodoxy has lead the way on Christology and the Trinity of God. But even their history is human and sometimes flawed. Of course the last statement is my belief, and not theirs.

    • @Pete: Thanks, yes I knew that about some of the Greek Orthodox. Yes, we all “tinker” don’t we, but in the end.. God is still God! I read Augustine’s De Trinitate, when I was a young teen, that with his Confessions grabbed my heart, and a bit later, I had a classic “Augustinian” conversion. However, I would add that both Luther and Calvin later helped move me to a Reformational and Reformed Anglicanism. I have had some ups and downs, but I am still a basic Reformed Anglican.

      For me at least, Augustine’s later position on Romans 7, is the most pure Pauline direction, on those Texts. And as I have stated, the whole doctrine of Imputation and Adoption, is certainly Pauline to my mind! Yes, I believe the Federal Headship is so central, biblically & theologically! Here is centred the Salvation History & Covenant/covenants of God!

      And yes, Augustine certainly is fallible, but his neo-Platonism appears the closest thing to the mind and Greco-Roman Paul! Note the Platonic of the Book of Hebrews also. I like Tertullian too, his work on the Antiteses in God is just brilliant!

    • Ken Moorer

      Michael I just wanted to share that I’ve had some rough experiences with High Calvinists and extreme Predestination people in the past and I am SO glad to have found your site and Podcasts because now I see that there are some open minded, honest and loving Calvinists out there.

    • @sam: I don’t not want to get bogged down on this subject on Michael’s blog, and I gave some scripture, you just did not address mine either! And this is pressed as it appears from your EO positions. Which is fine, but again, I did not want this to get into an East/West divide! There are many other Christians on this blog, that are simply not so EO, or Anglican keen!

      Finally, I will say this, Jesus DID NOT tell Peter he would be alive at His “Second Coming”, but that He would certainly “come” for Peter, at his death and martyrdom! “AS for you, follow me!” (verse 22 ; see John 21: 18-19, also). So actually John sought to lay to rest the idea or rumor that Christ had promised to come or return during John’s lifetime.

    • I.e. John alive at his Coming.

    • @Ken Moorer: I have too, 😉 and I am a “Calvinist”, though I like some of the FV, or Federal Vision ideas.

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, not so much “anti-Trinitarian” as non-Trinitarian. I do not wish to hijack Michael’s blog, so I will be brief:

      I am troubled that classic definitions of the Trinity do not properly engage with the many ways Jesus represented himself as both other than, and subordinate to the Father. The dogma of the Trinity seems to me to oversimplify the tension between that reality and the (also true) reality that Jesus claimed divinity. I likewise see a heavy weight of scriptural evidence toward a non-personal Holy Spirit.

      But most importantly, I see the scriptural witness not caring nearly as much about the ontology of God, Christ, and the Spirit, as about their work and reality. So my biggest objection is taking the peripheral question of ontology and making it an orthodox hill to die on.

      If you want to engage me on this issue, which I would welcome, it’s probably kinder to our host to take it over to my blog (my name is the link) where there is a whole subject category on Trinity.

    • Paul Leonard

      The problem with dogma, such as the Trinity, is that it is NOT taught in Scripture.

      It is acknowledged that the Trinity Doctrine/Dogma is NOT explicit in Scripture, rather a developed doctrine, over several centuries, by men.

      Setting aside the question of it being true or not, it can’t be “dogma” or a required belief, let alone the so-called “Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith”, unless it is explicit in Scripture. If it isn’t it is simply a doctrine of man.

      To test this myself I figured that reading the writings of those who were taught by the Apostles would help clarify it. OK, NONE of the 1st century Fathers in any way speak of a Trinity and in fact Matthete’s words are somewhat anti- trinitarian. IF it wasn’t explicit in Scripture, or the writings of any 1st century “Father” taught by an Apostle, it can’t really be classed as Dogma.

    • @Dan: The simple reality is that we will never solve this great mystery of God’s Tri-unity! It is a doctrine of faith, simply and yet profoundly.

      One of the places I have found great light, theologically, is from the Axiomatic Unity of the “Economic” and “Immanent” Trinity. This is a theological piece taken from the Roman Catholic theologian Karl Rahner, from his little but very packed book: The Trinity. Indeed God’s economy in time, must be seen from God’s Immutability outside time, with His Incarnation in time. And it is here btw, that we should see God’s ontology.

      Also, perhaps you should check out Origen on the Trinity, he always has the aspect of subordination centrally understood.

    • @Paul Leonard: YOU, seem to have a complete block here, i.e. a presuppositional answer already set in stone! No dialogue with the Text that I can see? And if we look at Irenaeus, we can surely see the “economic” aspects to the Trinity of God in place.

    • Ryan

      Mr. Leonard, I find it odd that everything for 1900 years is chaff. I also find it odd that a book, which many of us read in translation (the Bible), and has no original manuscripts but only textual witnesses that date after the first century (in the case of the NT), is the only thing of value. My point is how can we trust 3700 years of history for Scripture but absolutely diminish everything else human, except the afore mentioned preservation and transmission of sacred writ?

      The Church, though flawed and sinful in her earthly state, is still the body of Jesus Christ the Lord, and is therefore also holy. I lament that the Roman Church’s mistakes disabused its posterity (Protestant Churches) of any love for history and Tradition.

      To clarify another thing: Every bit of Trinitarian and Dogmatic belief is based entirely on Scripture. It would not be dogma at all if the Fathers had not been convinced that it was in Scripture and proper to believe for the salvation of our person. Believe it or not, thought the early fathers were philosophers, etc. they became Fathers because they were preeminent Biblical Scholars. Just read Athanasios, Basil, Gregory Nazianzus, Hilary, Irenaeus, Cyril of Alexandria and Cyril of Jerusalem and you’ll find that they knew Scripture, and more importantly, they knew and loved Christ.

      That is my Orthodox opinion. Note: I grew up a circle that believes very similarly to you Mr. Leonard and I appreciate your desire for integrity and…

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, and the whole question of “Economic” vs. “Immanent” Trinity is completely unnecessary unless one has first (1) assumed a dogma or doctrine of the Trinity and (2) encountered biblical issues with it that need to be resolved. Resolving it is so much simpler if we were simply to admit “well, obviously we didn’t quite get that one right.” I’m afraid the Fathers painted themselves into a corner and didn’t have the humility to acknowledge that they weren’t quite as infallible as they thought.

      And surely you are aware that God’s immutability is a Platonic, not a Biblical doctrine. Heck, even God outside of time owes more to pagan Greek thought than Scripture which shows a God acting dynamically within time.

      But I’m afraid we disagree on too many points that you clearly see as dogmatic, and I claim are extrabiblical. We both hold the Scriptures to be authoritative, but we diverge on the authority of the second, third, fourth-century (and on) church fathers. That’s a pretty big chasm to cross, I’m afraid.

    • Paul Leonard


      I am perfectly willing to dialogue with the text. Maybe you can provide a verse that clearly and explicitly teaches a Trinity?

    • Dan Martin

      @Ryan, your objection can only be seen to diminish the authority of Scripture, not to elevate anything else. While the Scriptural record may or may not be complete, reliable, or infallible, at least some of us who hold to Sola Scriptura merely state that nothing else rises even to whatever diminished level you may hold that Scripture. In practice this means that whatever you may say about the imperfection of the Scriptural record, nothing that isn’t substantiated by what we have of Scripture can rise to the level of dogma.

      In your defense of the Church’s authority, you fail to recognize that the Body of Christ on earth is the assembly of *all* who acknowledge Jesus’ lordship, not merely those who have been ordained, or have arrogated to themselves, titles of leadership in it. You said “It would not be dogma at all if the Fathers had not been convinced that it was in Scripture and proper to believe for the salvation of our person.” Well and good. But the Fathers were not infallible, and just as today people can be convinced something is in Scripture even if it isn’t (cf. “sam’s” treatment of Jesus’ return), so to they.

    • Ryan

      Mr. Martin. No Father that I’m aware of believed infallibility as an option, that is a very late doctrine of Roman descent. Have you ever Gregory Nazianzus’ work “On God and Christ”? The Cappadocians were very amazing theologians and are worth reading. It is a small and inexpensive book from SVS Press.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Ryan,

      I did not say everything was chaff. Jesus simply told us the weeds would be there from shortly after his death until today. He clearly said that we were not to try to remove the weeds as that would endanger wheat. Fine that makes it pretty clear that the Church became filled with weeds.

      John makes this perfectly clear in Rev 2 and 3 (as does Paul) and the 1st century “Fathers”. It should be noted that the congregation in Rev 2 and 3 were Eastern Churches . Further John said he was in the “Lord’s Day” placing the vision both in his time and the Last Days.

      I believe there is much of value aside from the Scripture BUT it must be in complete agreement with CLEAR and EXPLICIT Scripture or it is just opinion. The Body of Christ is the true members, NOT the “Church” as after all what is the “Church”, the organization, the Clergy, all members, or some members who are NOT weeds?

      As to the Trinity being based on Scripture, that is clearly not the case or Greek Philosophy would not have been needed to explain it and no disagreement would have existed. Some came to believe in a Trinity as defined over centuries. Others never did. Saying the “Church” accepted it is not entirely correct. SOME of the “Church” did, but were they wheat or weeds? Was their behavior in harmony with clear and explicit Scripture or at odds with it? That would be critical.

      As to becoming preeminent “Fathers”, some were later rejected for their views. They were men. Imperfect men.

    • Dan Martin

      I’m not saying the Fathers claimed infallibility. In fact a number of them explicitly stated otherwise, Augustine most definitely among them. But when Christians today suggest that what the Fathers concluded is not open to further challenge against Scripture, they (those modern Christians) are in essence ascribing to the Fathers an infallibility they themselves likely would not have countenanced.

      And no, I’ve not read the work to which you allude. Since I can’t lay my fingers on it at the moment, I would only ask one question…the same one I ask of all patristic doctrines: Did they build their case on (quoting and referring to) Scripture, or did they make (to them) logical inferences based on applying extrabiblical standards or assumptions to Scripture? These are not the same thing…as I pointed out to Fr. Robert in re: God’s immutability and timelessness.

    • Dan Martin

      @Paul Leonard, we’ve gotta connect. We’re obviously looking at a similar perspective on both hermaneutics and church history. If you want to email without posting your email online for all the spammers to grab, drop a comment on my blog and I’ll see the email behind it without publishing it.

    • @Dan: That is a flawed supposition (yours), for the doctrine of God, both in time and outside of time also deal with God’s Oneness!

      Also, if you knew Plato and his “Platonic”, you would surely see it in the Book of Hebrews! (Heb. 1: 1-3, etc.) And also Paul was quite a Jewish Greco-Roman Hellenist, (Gal. 4: 1-7). No, the Bible just did not drop out of the sky, and then onto paper or parchment! Sorry mate, indeed my presuppositions are both Biblical, but yet historical to the reality of the whole OT itself. Note the Septuagint is a traslation in Greek, and was the Bible (OT) of the NT Church.

      Yes, I am a Historic Churchman, and my authority is Word & Creed, which is also seen in Word & Sacrament. WE are very different! Btw, what do you think of the Ecumenical Councils? I think I know, but how & why do you diminish them?

    • Ryan

      There is not enough space to sufficiently argue the nuances being brought into play by this beautiful dialogue, but thanks for all the comments. I think our anthropology is very different as is our view of history and how it proceeds at ground level.

    • Ryan

      Mr. Martin, Gregory’s work is Scriptural in its tenor and scope, though it uses rhetoric to defend and refute the rhetorical style of the heresy he fought.

    • @Paul: Here ya go mate, really pretty simple if ya believe God’s Word! ~ Eph. 2:18 / 1 Peter 1: 2 / 2 Cor. 13: 14. There are many more verses, as the NT is shot thru with the Triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit! 🙂

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, the short answer to your question on my position on the councils: they are guilty in large measure of changing the Way of following King Jesus into a religion of stuff you had to believe, and anathematizing anybody who didn’t accept their authority. I see them largely as vehicles of power rather than faith.

      On a less-cynical note, I see them as composed of men who, however wrongheaded I think they may have been, were genuinely trying to do right, but who have been invested with a disproportionate (and inappropriate) level of canonical, near-infallible authority by later theologians. As men, their thoughts/suppositions/conclusions can and should be re-submitted to the lens of Scripture by each succeeding generation…as should ours.

      And finally, I see them (and far too many theologians since) as overly obsessed with squaring all the circles and resolving all the ambiguities they find in faith, rather than being content with the reality that there’s just some stuff we don’t know.

    • Here is a nice quote from Augustine (speaking of the Trinity): “In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” (Augustine De Trinitate 1.3.5.)

    • Dan Martin

      Here is a nice quote from Augustine (speaking of the Trinity): “In no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable.” (Augustine De Trinitate 1.3.5.)

      And that’s just it. To really support the dogma of the Trinity–not infer that it might be a possibility, but really support it–you have to quote Augustine, or Tertullian, or Gregory, or someone else several hundred years post-Jesus. Along with Paul Leonard on this thread, along with my Anabaptist forbears, and with many others who are usually quieter than I am, this just isn’t good enough. I stand by my conviction that while the inquiry into theology can be a very good thing, to establish anything as dogma that isn’t explicit in Scripture alone, is to go beyond what is written, and that is error. To excommunicate or anathematize or disfellowship anyone on the basis of such dogma is evil.

    • @Dan: That was a nice soft ball question I gave you! 😉 But of course, this puts YOU outside the Historical Church, as many understand it, of course like myself! Ya might want to check the mess of the 2nd century, with the ill of Monarchianism!

    • Btw, there are many Anabaptist’s now that are Trinitarian! But not of course poor Menno Simons. He had a Valentinian (gnostic) place for the “flesh” of Christ.

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, I do not accept either modalism or adoptionism, which I understand (maybe incompletely?) to be the basic positions of monarchianism. Rather I hold that Jesus’ clear testimony of himself was that (1) he was divine, (2) he was human, (3) he came from, and derived all his authority from the Father, (4) he remained distinct from, and subordinate to, the Father; (5) he prexisted, and participated in creation, though whether his preexistence is in eternity past, we are not told.

      There are some paradoxical elements to be found in trying to tease out a systematic ontology or Christology from these truths. If it mattered, Jessica would have resolved that tension with more clarity. He didn’t. So when we try, we ought to hold our necessarily imperfect attempts with an open hand. That is all.

    • Dan Martin

      … And yes, I know my conclusion leaves me outside the bounds of orthodoxy as defined by the ecumenical councils and those who grant their authority. Like I said, my heritage has more in common with the Anabaptists, who most of your churches still regard as heretics…

    • Dan Martin

      Darn aututype… JESUS, not Jessica! Sheesh!

    • @Dan: The last sentence in your first paragraph (11), is simply Arian! For the biblical Christ is preexistent eternally as both the Son & the Logos, (John 1:1 / Heb. 1: 2-3).

    • Karen

      I believe the answer to why so many Christians do not agree with each other anymore is because of the vast number of Christian denominations world wide. I read in 1994 that there may have been already up to 40,000 denominations world wide. Over the years I noticed that myself and many others did not realize we were victims of past arguments, un-reconciliation, and church splits. We had no idea we were causing a scene or making waves by asking a doctrinal question. Today with the internet and info express, seekers have found more answers to the variances. Yet, I believe due to the elitist thinking going on that their church is the only one saved, I think we are now into a new arena:of Christian betrayal. Have you seen the attacks going on online? It is so sad. Furthermore, for some years I clearly see that this is not so much about a quest for Truth, but a quest for a Following. It became so clear to me at one time when I asked this young man online if he would speak to me like that if he was sitting next to his pastor. It turned out that he and his related pastor were sitting next to each other writing to me like that. Needless to say, I was banned from that forum.
      I believe most churches are getting their views from the Bible. Thereby, I believe that if people would be more gracious and patient with each other they would realize that they are just coming at it from a different perspective and still concluding with the major theme: Christ and Him Crucified. Salvation…

    • Matt Beale

      @Dan – I hear you buddy! I absolutely agree with your authorial intent approach to the scriptures and opposition to reinterpretations down the track when an initial plain reading of the original material suffices – even when it contradicts popular / current / historical orthodoxy.

      I’m constantly amazed that some people love to revel in the ‘mystery’ of paradoxes as if they were something to be praised and not an indicator of flawed theology or assumptions… cough*trinitarianism*cough*infallibility*coughcough* 😉

      I wonder if you’d agree with me that John does his own reinterpretations of OT scripture however? Logos is a platonic concept that John introduces and tries to convert into a (newly invented theology) of a pre-existent Christ (often justified by more re-interpretations of OT). However a plain reading of Genesis doesn’t yield this (nor the other gospels) – just as a plain reading of the serpent as a beast of the field doesn’t yield an eternal angelic Devil. It again requires John’s NEW re-interpretation for this concept to appear. Which while I’m open to ‘new’ – if it starts introducing new paradoxes – it must be called into question. 😉

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr Robert, nothing of the kind. John 1:1 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” With and was…the exact sort of paradox I was talking about…divine but not same; In the beginning…when the world was made…says nothing about “before” the beginning.

      Hebrews, on the other hand, plays even more into my theory. God has spoken “by” his son, whom he “appointed heir” (not a self-existent thing), and “through whom” he created the universe. None of those are incompatible with full distinct ontological beings, and that’s just v. 2. The language in v. 3 is representational, not equal, and the Son sits at the Father’s right hand…absolutely a place of exaltation and authority, but not equality. This is more clear in 1 Cor. 15:27.

      So I’m afraid your charge of Arianism just won’t stick…

    • Dan Martin

      @Matt Beale, I would say rather that John was trying to tell the story of Jesus in Greek philosophical terms that he may not have fully understood in their Greek concept. But as to Christ’s preexistence, Jesus himself testifies “Before Abraham was, I am.” I don’t think we can infer eternal preexistence from this statement (as being either right or wrong, just not addressed). But we can certainly say Jesus in multiple cases claims to have been present at, and participated in creation. What this means ontologically in his pre-incarnate state is something that has not been revealed to us…just possibly because we don’t “need to know…”

    • sam

      Jesus told peter that je would die a marter,hung on a cross like Him then peter sees John and asked Him how woulld john die. Jesus tells peter dont worry about John if i will that he remain till i come you follow me. Then the sayin went out not that john wouldn’t die but that he would see his return. Nothong about coming to peter! As for your acriptures i addressed it and dismissed it as the tribes of Isarel wouldbe the pnes mourning. Not to mention the words near soon and abhand and Jesus own words in matt 16 telling the diaciplea that some of them would be alive to see Him coming into there kingdom. Jesus said in rev. behold i am coming quickly!! Not far off, or later quickly!! The readers reading that would not think quickly means anything but in there life time. All these thing will take place in this generation. Like Jesus said in matt 24. Jesus is reafirming that He will be back to complete the work of salvation, and to fufull the workof high priest. As per heb. 8-10.
      Whatdo u have to support a futte 2nd coming. Bring scriptire.

    • Matt Beale

      Bear in mind those are John’s (much later) recollections of Christ’s words. And while Paul and the Hewbrews author also share his views on pre-existence – none (that I know of) of the other gospel writers reflect this, nor I believe did any of the earlier commentators on the O.T.

      If however – John recollected accurately – you can either take it like Hebrew’s 7:9-10 example of Christ being within his Father’s “body” – just as Levi was in Abraham’s i.e. not yet born – yet conceptually paying a tithe to Melchizedek. He ‘was’ in the sense that he existed in his Father’s loins. And the verses prior about Abraham seeing his day and being glad – well God is the God of the living… Christ’s day would be his birthday and Abraham was glad to see it come. But if all that’s too much you can just take it as if he conceptually existed in the great plan for Israel that was before Abraham was born as well.

      Clearly Christ (as King and Ruler, Son of God, descendent of David) at least existed in concept in God’s plan. And the Micah verse is likely referring back to his origins from the ancient Davidic line (as per my Tyndale commentary – no work required on my part) – particularly as Isaiah does similarly except more directly with the reference to Jesse rather than ‘ancient days’.

      So I really think that the theology starts to differ from John & Paul onwards (original sin etc) – from what went before – and a lot of the arguments are coming from those ‘newer’…

    • Matt Beale


      “newer areas – leading them to be more suspect” 😉

    • Pete again


      The Apostles Creed of the mid-3rd century is an early written confession of the Holy Trinity.

      Creeds were ALREADY ESTABLISHED beliefs, written by the early Church (in between them being fed to the lions, beheadings, and burnings) in order to fight heresies.

      If you think that the Holy Spirit had abandoned the Church by the 3rd century…and that the Church went to hell-in-a-handbasket, making Jesus Christ a liar…and that the Church of the apostles didn’t even last as long as the Morman church (!)…than why exactly are you Christian at all?

    • Karen

      Some years ago, I was in a Sunday School lesson where the teacher paralleled Moses and His People going through the Sea as symbolism for Jesus delivering His people. The next week we continued talking about Moses and what happened after they arrived to the other side.
      When the teacher started talking about the Golden Calf, it really dawned on me, if one takes the symbolism of the OT further, one can see how people made a giant Golden Calf after Jesus went back into Heaven. I think the first thing everyone talks about is erroneous Gnostic teachings, then this and then that. As I thought about this Sunday School lesson, I suddenly thought about the rest of the OT, and in a loose way, we can see that there is a repeat in Christian history. Could it be that the 10 tribes in the North represented Protestants? Josiah representing last day revival? Daniel representing Tribulation, and then the end? Being Jesus coming and taking care of it. Victorious victory.
      By the way, CBD sells (I think still) a 3 volume set of Creeds. My question is: are we supposed to pick the right one? And how do we know if we did, pick the right one?
      Furthermore, I really do believe that the best teachers are the ones that teach all of the Bible and embrace all of it.
      Finally, after all my searching and reading regarding the Trinity, for example, I have come to discover that all the Trinity books out there do mention that it does fall short. Why? God is too big…He is simply too Big.

    • Ryan

      I think that all the arguing about the Trinity is due to a lack of knowledge. This dialogue could be very different, I think, if everyone here would actually read the fourth century patristic texts concerning the issue.

    • Ryan


      God is too big to be defined. The point of the Trinitarian dogma is to establish a uniform teaching that Jesus is God, as is the Spirit. This was done to protect the Church against heresies that claimed and taught that Christ is a creature. He is not, because only God can save, and if Christ saves, then he is God. The same for the Spirit, if he is sanctifying us and being sent as the other Paraclete to actively secure our salvation, then he too is God and not a creature.

      As far as Creeds go I think the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is good. The Apostles Creed is fine too, its older, but for the most part it was absorbed into the Nicene Creed.

    • @sam: As I have said, we don’t have room on this blog for a full defense of the literal, physical and certainly visible Second Coming of Christ! But, we can see this in the hermenutical reality of the prophecies of the Messiah Himself, as fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and they are certainly literal!

      From Gen. 3:15, from and born of the seed of a woman, to Gal. 4:4, not to mention the Virgin Birth (which thankfully we would both agree, Isa. 7:17 to Lk. 1:26, 27, 30-31). Born in Bethlehem, Mic. 5:2 to Luke 2:4, 5, 7, etc. The Slaughter of the children, Jer. 31:15 to Matt. 2:16-18. The Flight to Egypt, Hos. 11:1 to Matt. 2:14, 15. The list for the literal coming of the Christ are many, so I won’t quote all, but the betrayal.. of a close friend, Ps. 41:9 to Lk 22:47-48, and of course “betrayed for thirty pieces of silver”.. Zech. 11:12 to Matt. 26: 14-15.

      And as I have already noted, the statement by the two men or angels in Acts 1:11, “Men of Galilee, why to you do gazing up to heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in like manner as you say Him go into heaven. Then they returned to Jersualem from the MOUNT CALLED OLIVET..” (Acts 1: 12). And so as we can see literally in Zechariah 14: 3-4…”And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives.” And so at the Second Coming, when Christ comes to deliver the Nation of Israel, in Jerusalem, “He will appear a second time, apart from sin (His death on the Cross), for salvation…

    • sam

      Paul is not confirming Christ pre existance, nor is hebrews. The beginning talked about is the degining of the covenant. The term heavens and earth in the old testament is a metaphore for Gods covenant people. Read isah. 1 the first verse or deut 4. Paul is stating that Jesus was on the begining of the covenant and the end of that covenamt is Him. Like pqul says in 2cor 3 they are being transformed from one glory to another. The first glory is a fading glory, whats left is a non fading glory. Hebrews 12 says the same thing about the mountain that if toutched one must be killed (sani the old covenant) that mpuntain or heavenand earth was shaken, God yet again shakes the earth once more and whats left is the new covenant thqt cant be shaken. As far as the creeds i dont care about any old creed there just uninspired men reading the scriptures in light of there present world. Just like men today. Christ is ot coming back, HE ALREADY DID!!

    • And again, I quote Rev. 1:7..”Behold, He is coming with clouds (the sidereal heavens, and note the sidereal day), and every eye will see Him, and they also who pierced Him. And the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.” So indeed the Second Coming of Christ will be visible, historical, and certainly creational!

    • sam

      @rob.you said you know greek. The term in like mannor meqn coming and going. Not coming in a phycicial form. He came back when He told His disciples he would. and all Isarel is saved. We have no salvation apart from Isarel salvation. If your waiting for Jesus to come back then you have no salvation either. Then He didnt come out from behind the vail and usher the waitong congrgation into the presence of God. Your reading prophecy literialy and thing God has feet and is gonna break a mountain in two. Its metaphorcial, not literial. The salvation of Isarel is thoae coming out of the old covenant, not a future nation of Isarel read the new testament Those in Christ are Isarel. Not by blood! Plus luke 17 the kingdpm comes without observation!! And when Jesus sent the 12 oit in matt 10 He told them to preach the kingdom of heaven was at hand. John the baptist preached the kingdom of heaven was at hand. Not far away, like you say it is. Ill side on the side of Jesus, not creeds

    • @sam: You go with what you believe, and I will go with what I believe! But we both will stand with the Lord of glory, in that visible and final and eschatological DAY…

      “When He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” (2 Thess. 1: 10)

      See too, 2 Thess. 2: 1, with the rest of the chapter, noting verse 8! (Verses 11&12 are frightful!) But salvation is for those whom GOD has chosen – verses 13-14!

    • Karen

      Dear Ryan, I totally agree with your message to me…how very wonderful that we agree and feel the same. But this is what happened to me: I witnessed in various related churches that we were in years back that demoted Jesus by the use of the Trinity. I think this is the great divide pertaining to the Trinity: those that use it to exalt Jesus and those that use it to demote Jesus. I know that sounds crazy, but I believe it to be true. I believe the use of the word Trinity is absolutely amazing to witness to people. Yet, I have seen groups of people who sing about Jesus, worship Him even, but do not pray to Him (John 14:14).
      Those that believe that the Father was in Heaven and sent His Son to earth, yet missing the omnipresent amazing verses that also state that Jesus stated that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him. Or many other such passages. Basically, the demoting that I have seen pretty much regulate Jesus to servant hood on earth and not too much more. The position is easily recognized in the way a person prays or views the Trinity. I am speaking from Radical points of view. It would be like saying in a radical way John 4, where Jesus speaking of the Father states that God is Spirit. In a radical sense, does that make the Holy Spirit ANOTHER Spirit??? To bottom line it, I think that radical views cause the Bible to be a mystery. Take away these words and the Bible is not a mystery.

    • sam

      You can quote 1:7 all you want the only people mentioned is the 12 tribes. Comong on clouds is a old testament metaphore for comong in judgment. And lets say it was literial rev.1:1 the events on the book are to happen SOON when it was written. So your future end of the world fufulment is way off!! Your not fimuliar with the language of the opd testament like you say. Me and you didnt pierce Him. The jewish leqders did! Were not the tribes of the land. Isarel is. The comong on the clouds is not for us! Its covenantial judgment on old covenantial isarel.

    • Mike O

      Not to oversimplify things (the Jesus already came back argument is new to me), but if he did, what did he accomplish? I don’t mean this to be snarky – I really don’t – but I look around at a world that is still full of sin, earthquakes, famine, war, porn, murder, etc. If he came back 2000 years ago, what did he come back for? Because he certainly didn’t turn earth into a paradise (like I would have expected, right or wrong). Don’t get me wrong, nature is AWESOME! But there’s still evil here … I honestly don’t understand. Either his coming back had a purpose or it didn’t (I’m guessing it did), so the question then becomes, did it work? Was his purpose accomplished or not?

      If it was, what *was* his purpose? If it wasn’t, what went wrong?

      Again, I’ve read and reread what I just wrote and it sounds flippant – I don’t mean it to. Please trust me when I say I really do wonder, if jesus came back 2000 years ago, did it work? Look how divided his people still are! If Jesus came back, wouldn’t we have clear leadership, and debates like this would stop because, well, Jesus is here. If Jesus came back, would we still have to rely on 2000 year old writings for direction, or would he just … tell us? I know he already did, but if we’re arguing about it, it’s obviously not clear. Why doesn’t he just come out and say, “you’re right and you’re wrong.”

      Last thing and I’ll stop, if he already came back, how come most of his followers aren’t…

    • Mike O


      How come most of his followers aren’t aware of it?

    • @sam: Don’t make me start quoting the NT Greek! 😉 Btw, the list of NT Greek scholars that are Pre-Millennial, both past and present is simply deep! I will just give one: George Elton Ladd! I would also recommend the NET Bible, to our bloggers! Surely, mostly a DTS work as to the people, though many others also.

    • *DTS – Dallas Theological Seminary. Where I believe our blog host is a graduate?

    • sam

      The second comong is to fufull the duties of te priest. Read hebrews 8-10 the author estableshes Jesus as a high priest, but of another order. Just like tr priest has to ofer a sacrafice, bloood. So does Jesus He offered up himself. The proest then has to go behind the vail and offer the sacrafice to God behind the vail. Jesus has to do the same thing. The priest cant come out from behind the vail until the sacfafice is excepted. The sins of the peopke aren’t covered that year until the priest comes out. Jesus has to do the same thing. He has to present The sacrafice behind the veil. Hebrews says the true tabranacile. The sins of the people aren’t forgiven till Christ comes out behind the vail. As hebreqs puts it Jesus will apperar a 2nd time apart from sin, but for SALVATION. Inorder for salvation to be complete Jesus has to come out from behind the vail. Those 1st. Christians got the Holy Spirit for the day of redemptipn. Which Jesus said will be when the temple is destroyed. Read luke 21 when you see jeursalm surrounded know its desolatipn is near. Lift up ypur heads for you redemption draws near. Paul says inromans 13 pur salvatipn is NEARER than we cirst believed. Paul knows Jesus is comong back to complete salvation.

    • Btw, here is a piece about one of the old greats who taught Greek at Moody (died, 1962?), Kenneth Samuel Wuest! He did his own NT translation, as you will see, and he was Pre-Mill.


    • sam

      Scripture does not support a pre-mill point of view. The 1000 year reign of Christ is not literial. No where in the old testament is 1000 used as a literial number. The language of rev. is of the old testament. Its clear that todays Christianity does not know the language of the old testament. And its verry sad!!

    • Yes, I have been reading American conservative theology for many, many years! Note the great Anglican and Brit, W.H. Griffith Thomas, who had something to do with the early founding of the DTS. It was Griffith Thomas as I remember who led me into the American Evangelical’s. Just another historical point.

      I mean who’s over 50 out here? 😉

    • @sam: Your beating the ad hoc drum! Do you reallly want to go into the early Church Father history for Christian Chiliasm? I said something already about such. Let me again recommend a book: Regnum Caelorum, Patterns of Millennial Thought in Early Christianity, by Charles Hill. And Hill does not come down Pre-Mill, but he at least knows and writes about the early historical reality!

    • @sam: Your showing great historical and even Jewish historical ignorance! It is a fact that the Millennial ideas are OT, and certainly Jewish! This is just factual! And some of the very early “fathers” were Pre-Mill!

    • sam

      No books, just come with scripture!! Thats it. If you believe that the old testament supports your view, then show me scripture. You author is un-inspired. As in not getting his message by revalation. Paul said he recieved his message by revalation. Paul didn’t teach a pre mill, or future end of world coming. Paul zaid there is about to be a resurrection of the dead. Paul said there is a judgment to come. All to be in the life time of them. You are taking there words out of theretime. The holy spirit didn’t lie, or mislead. Neither did Jesus in matt 16. GIVE ME SCRIPTURE!!! not some uninspired writer. If you can’t then why do u believe what you do.

    • sam

      Again another post wirh no scripture. Now if its in the old testament, and the 1000 term is used as a whole number? Then just give me the verses! If you show me, then ill say your rite. But know one has ever been ever to give me scripture to support the futurist view, or the 1000 years! Now nce again give me scripture.

    • @sam: I think we have “pounded” this quite enough! As I said and written, the BIBLE did not fall out of the sky! And so history, and certainly the biblical Greco-Roman Hellenistic aspect really does matter, as we seek to study and understand the Holy Scripture! (Note once again, the Bible of the NT Church was the Septuagint). I am going to stop now. I am a hospital chaplain (these days), and need to go make my rounds. 🙂

    • sam

      Once again. I don’t care aboit early church fathers, nor creeds, nor books, nor authors. If they go against Jesus telling the disciples that some of you standing here will nottaat death, till you see the Son of Man coming intp His kingdom. Or Jesus telling peter that John will remail alive till He returns. Then there wrong, as well as anyone else.

    • sam

      Not if they go against scripture!! We have not pounded it enough. I want to see your scripture with an end of the world, coming.

    • @sam: I am taking my lap-top with me! 😉 Btw, YOU have said nothing about the Scripture I HAVE given! I thought you were an EO person?

    • sam

      I have commented on all your scripture. I believe. If not then i apolagize. The thess verse states nothing about any time frame on the 2 nd coming. Your scripture cant go against Jesus words. He clearly told the disciples in matt 16 that some of them won’t tast death till he returns. I have onehour then ill be off of work, and ill continue to.orrow. search the scriptures and give me somthing that states the oppasite of all the soon, near, and at hand, about to be. It can’t be taken out ofthere time frame, of which the orignial readers read them.

    • Pete again

      Fr. Robert,

      I’ll eat my hat if sam is EO! You’re kidding, right?

      sam is an example of what can happen to an individual when let loose with sola scritura. They stop being a follower of Jesus Christ, and become instead a follower of the Bible, and their own interpretations of the Bible.

      Please stop the insanity and stop responding to his groundhog-day baiting messages.

      Glory to God for all things

    • Craig Bennett

      I would like to know what flavour of Christianity you are Sam. You are right in a number of places about the immediate context of what you are saying, about Christ’s return.

      But then you don’t take into consideration the time frame and context of what Scripture is saying elsewhere. We are saved through Israel, only because they were the bearers of Christ. It was to them whom the promise was given, and that promise was Christ.

      However, Paul elaborates in Romans that not all who call themselves Israel are the true Israel, for it is only those who call on the name of Jesus who will be saved. Paul then includes both Jews and Gentiles, Male and Female, Slaves and Free as being the true Israel.

    • Mike O

      It seems odd to me, @sam, that the majority of his closest followers are generally unaware that he has returned. If you are right, the majority of Christs’s followers would sense his presence among us. But we don’t. 1 Kings 19:12 “… and after the fire, a still small voice.” and John 10:27 “my sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.” If Jesus is here, and it’s so important that we understand that, why don’t the majority of his sheep hear his voice? Either it doesn’t matter or it isn’t true.

      Scripture is a tricky thing … give me 20 minutes and a slide rule, and I can get the scripture to support anything you want. Would I be misusing it? Certainly. But the fact that someone can assemble scripture to make a point is not convincing when it requires people to put down both spirituality (why doesn’t Jesus tell ME when I’M talking to him?) and reality (Is there any evidence he is here?) What evidence, other than an particular assembly of unrelated scripture a certain way, indicates that he is on earth today, and has been for 2000 years? I look around and still see a world that is still full of sin and getting worse. I don’t know what he’s doing behind that veil, but if there’s no evidence to support that he’s here, he could have jsut as well been behind his veil in heaven. But it seems very important to you that he is ON EARTH. What is the purpose of him being ON EARTH if he’s keeping it a secret? I just don’t buy it.

    • sam

      @craig. Im a preteris. Ihave not taken any sripture of of any time frame. We have no salvation aparts from Isarels promises made ny God. Isarel ( the remnent) was promised to be risen from the dead. Paul said according to the scripture Jesus was the first born from the dead. If Isarel has not been raised from the dead like Jesus (only the remnent out of the old covenant) then wrath (judgment) which john said to the leaders in matt 3 is comming as per the blessing and cursings from the oldcovenant. Craig tell me what i too out of the time frame of scripture.

    • Just walked in..

      @Mike, you take sam for awhile, please! lol

      @Pete, I was somewhat kidding, as an old teacher I was seeking to see where sam is really coming from? But, as you really know sola Scriptura is nothing like his positions. Calvin and Luther were sS, and they were certainly not like this! Nor am I.. It is always Scripture, with Creed for me!

    • @Pete: Btw, I think we can see where the worst of the so-called ‘scripture alone’ came from, i.e. the Anabaptists, or Radical so-called Reformers!

    • Ryan

      I think the Preterist’s believe that the second coming occurred during Nero’s reign. I knew some growing up. However, when Jesus said, “There are some among you who will not see death…” it was before the Transfiguration and the Resurrection. Tell me that either event could not be understood as seeing the Son coming into the glory of the Kingdom and with power?

    • sam

      Now i know where you get your false teaching from. Luther, and the creeds. But once again no acripture that supports your view!! That only proves truth.

    • sam

      The transfiguration has nothing to do wirh His kingdom . He said He was co.ing withthe fathera angles and his reward is with him. He said that also in matt25, and rev, 22 its the 2nd comong the establishment of the new covenant which is the kingdom of God.

    • Ryan

      Is it a good idea to be calling each other liars? Don’t we all presuppositions? Don’t we all have teachers? So Fr trusts Luther and the creeds. We all trust things, so please, let’s not judge his sources. BTW, without Luther this website and most of the denominations represented on this site don’t exist.

    • I did want to say to @Ryan, that the Trinity or Trinitarian doctrine is almost in near complete ignorance today with so many so-called Bible alone Christians. I say this sadly! And they are proud of their ignorance too! Unbelief however is also here! And this is the real “heterodoxy” here!

    • Craig Bennett

      Sam, I am a preterist also, with some caution. I believe that the second part of Revelation was intended to be read as being fulfilled with the destruction of the Temple.

      But the first part of Revelation where John is given the 7 letters, was a distinct prophecy to the 7 individual churches at that time and they needed to be interpreted within their context.

      However, one has to be careful in reading prophecy to understand its metaphorical poetry and that its not meant to be understood completely within a literal framework, such as is found within the context such as one of the Epistles.

    • Pete again

      @Fr. Robert,

      LOL I agree, I know, I grew up in an anabaptist home. It’s been a long, winding road for me. But of course it has been very rewarding obtaining the pearl of great price. 🙂

      I’m re-reading Lossky’s “The Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church” during Great Lent, which I see that you have already read. After that, it’s John Climacus’ “The Divine Ascent”, the ultimate “must read” during the Fast for Orthodox Christians.

    • Ryan

      Mr. Sam, I appreciate your zeal. I don’t understand your argument, but I appreciate the zeal with which you present it. I don’t understand it because it seems (to my meager mind) to be anachronistic (out of context historically) and a very much an interpretive hodge podge. The new covenant is Christ, the Kingdom is already a reality (and was established at the foundation of the world) and we are waiting for it to be revealed and opened to us.

    • Ryan

      Fr. Robert, I agree with you. It isn’t just the Bible only crown though, it’s most all of us. The Trinitarian Dogma is very sophisticated and nuanced, and very difficult to grasp. Most people also see it in a static way, but the Trinity of the Cappadocians is dynamic and beautiful. If we read Athanasios, Basil and the Gregorys our understanding of the Trinity might not be that it’s not true, but that we just can’t fully grasp it. Those guys knew their stuff, and that’s why millions of people over 1600 years have looked up to them.

    • Mike O

      @sam “That only proves truth” is a bold statement. “Supporting a case” is hardly the same as “proving truth.” it’s interesting that you make such bold statements. You are very sure of yourself. are these statements found in scripture (the mirror you are holding EVERYTHING else to)?

      “The transfiguration has nothing to do wirh His kingdom” Show me scripture that says that. (sorry ;/)

      “you get your false teaching from. Luther” show me that based on scripture ;/ Show me the scripture that says Luther is a wrong. (that’s the requirement you’re holding everyone else to).

      Here’s a few more sam-isms that are not scripture. I say we throw them out since they don’t have a reference, they are uninspired.

      “We have no salvation aparts from Isarels promises made ny God.”

      “Isarel ( the remnent) was promised to be risen from the dead.”

      “If Isarel has not been raised from the dead like Jesus (only the remnent out of the old covenant) then wrath (judgment) which john said to the leaders in matt 3 is comming as per the blessing and cursings from the oldcovenant.”

      “The 1000 year reign of Christ is not literial.”

      “No where in the old testament is 1000 used as a literial number.”

      “The language of rev. is of the old testament.”

      My point is, much of your belief is *derived from* scripture but it is *not* scripture. Just like Luther. Just like anyone else that has “chewed the cud (scripture)” before us in history.

    • Karen

      Regarding End Time views: We must remember that those who are seeking Truth on the End Times are getting their views from the Bible. I do not believe they are clinging to other sources, but on verses that are found in the Bible. For example, I think I read years ago that Preterist views have a good point –when Jesus died on the Cross and dead people rose from the grave. A resurrection, indeed, truly happened. Hence, Preterist count this as a resurrection count. Pre-trib cling to the idea of a Jesus secret return. I also find it difficult to embrace simply because Jesus told us how He would return. Other than that, a lot of views are similar to other views…mid trib, post trib, yes? Yet, I think there are many points of contention because, frankly, there are details I believe are purposely not revealed to us. But it will become clear as the Bible prophesies are fulfilled. I think that every End Time view has some good points and some neglected points, for we all are getting our views from the Bible…yet it simply is not fully apparent yet. I don’t think anyone has a corner on the Truth regarding End Times. For I do believe we are to live each day as though it can be the last. If we knew too much, perhaps we would become too scared to move out and be a Light and Love others. We might instead be packing our bags and waste a bunch of time waiting and self occupied. Perhaps.

    • The Transfiguation! Now there is something our EO Brethren could share with us! Talk about a Trinitarian Witness! Btw, here too we Christians are called to be transformed, by the Spirit into the likeness of Christ, but also into God the Father’s likeness, as Paul writes: “To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess. 1:1)…Only in Thessalonians, (2 Thess. 1:1), also. Btw, the grace and peace flow out of this relationship of the Father and the Son, the Father is the regal and the monarchy of the Godhead. But the Spirit moves between the Father and the Son, in love. (Augustine) Would my EO brothers agree?

    • Ryan

      Regal and monarchy yes. The Father is the “source” of the shared essence, if you will. Grace and Peace, and all Divine energies (that part of divine life which can be experienced) flow out of the Trinitarian relationship itself. Augustine is right in a way. But we can’t diminish the Spirit to a bond between the Father and Son. The Spirit has his own economic purposes too.

      We have tons of theology based around the Transfiguration.

    • Mike O

      The whole trinitarian/non-trinitarian thing, to me, really comes down to how do you count God. 🙂 it’s all based on interpretations of scriptures we all agree are inspired. Whether God is three persons (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), or God manifested himself in 3 ways, or whatever, don’t we pretty much all agree that what the Bible says is true? We may put the puzzle pieces together differently (wrong?) but we all pretty much agree to use the same pieces, don’t we?

      I guess I’m a “hey, man, can’t we all be brothers” kind of brother. 🙂

    • @Pete: A Blessed Lent as you read! I love to read myself. Funny I grew-up in Dublin Ireland, with my “books”, and my Bibles (the Douai-Reims, and the KJV). As a Roman Catholic (then), I was into English Lit., but I had a “fundamentallist” Greatgram (thus the KJV). That world (50’s and early 60’s) in Dublin, was almost heaven on earth for me! And now look, we are sadly so godless in our culture! I guess seeing that come along, and with my over ten years as a Royal Marine (saw Gulf War 1 in my early 40s), and then living in Israel in the late 90’s, has pressed me somewhat into the place of my eschatology. (I know this is not an EO position.) But at least I am not full preterist! lol

    • @Ryan: Oh if people (Evangelicals) would listen to the beauty of Orthodox Christology & Trinitarian witness! They might learn and be “changed” into something besides the mere “letter” of the Word! Too many “letter” of the Word types! Of course, this affects all of us in some measure, we all tend toward the “letter”. The flesh loves it! Even as believers. 😉

    • Ryan

      @ Fr. You’re very correct, the flesh loves being distracted, gratified and lazy. We are fragmented people in a fragmented age. Orthodox theology is beautiful and rich.

    • Dan Martin

      @Matt Beale, I can see where you’re coming from, but I’m not there. I’m absolutely not a Biblical inerrantist, but I do believe that if we can’t trust the testimony of the Evangelists as to what Jesus said, we have essentially nothing left. The words of Jesus as recorded–even by John at a later date than the other Evangelists–may not be verbatim, but they’re close enough to trust. Something as weird and unexpected as Jesus’ “Before Abraham was, I am” seems to me unlikely to be a fabrication or a distorted memory, unless you’re prepared to dismiss the veracity of John’s gospel entirely. I’m not.

    • Dan Martin

      @pete again, those creeds were only “established beliefs” coming out of the councils…history records quite a bit of discussion and controversy going into them, which is part of why they were called.

      There’s a pretty broad spectrum between “the Holy Spirit had abandoned the Church by the 3rd century…and that the Church went to hell-in-a-handbasket” and infallibility of the magisterium. It’s not an either-or proposition.

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert “Btw, I think we can see where the worst of the so-called ‘scripture alone’ came from, i.e. the Anabaptists, or Radical so-called Reformers!”

      Ouch…well, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. One thing the Catholics and the Reformers all agreed on was we had to go. I guess I’m just glad y’all aren’t burning heretics these days!

      Even so, I would hope one as academic as you can see a difference between honest inquiry with Scripture as the only accepted source, and some of the other rants we’ve been observing. Not that it ought to matter to me, but somehow I expected better…

    • @Dan Martin: Of course I am speaking theologically, I actually have some Amish friends in England. It is hard times for the Amish btw, of course mostly with the culture.

      Yes, I am of the conviction that when you loose the historical church, you will certainly loose proper theology. I am certainly Creedal, especially with the Ecumenical Councils. And I am, as I have stated here.. close to the Orthodox on Christology and the Trinity of God! But, as to the doctrines of grace, I am certainly Augustinian and somewhat Calvinist. In fact I am close to the man Calvin himself! His theology seeks a real biblicism, though he is rather problematic on the Trinity. Here he presses his biblicism a bit too far, at least to my mind.

      The real difference between honest inquiry, and not, is I believe in the historical. One simply must own up to, and see the historical in the great Salvation History of God! God is simply actively involved in His redemptive life for the Church, and this is always covenantal, and revelation has always been progressive. It is here btw, that I would also see the Incarnational, but always in Law & Gospel. If we don’t see the central place of the Law of God as we approach the Gospel of God, we will miss the great Pauline emphasis and ministry. Paul the Jew and the Pharisee simply had to rightly place the Law of God! And here also btw, I see the Pauline doctrine of Christ’s active and passive obedience, with the Reformed theology.

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, there are so many ways we simply approach faith from opposite sides, it’s pointless to catalog them. But I do have to ask one final question: in that historical inquiry of which you speak, is there no room to reevaluate the conclusions of your spiritual forebears? Are the Father’s and councils, for you, entirely beyond challenge?

    • @Dan: There is somehow this idea that the Councils & Creeds are some kind of absolute from God, this is not really the issue. The Ecumenical Councils, especially the Nicene, simply fence the doctrine of God triune. And as have been noted, the essence of the Trinity was and is in the NT especially. So we can use the Creeds, or not use the Creeds, but we cannot violate the biblical truth they contain. Btw, if you have not read a good historical book on the Seven Ecumenical Councils, I would recommend that you should. There are several out there. WE simply must see the Church as itself under the authority of God’s Word, but also itself the “mainstay” (pillar and support) of the truth itself, (1 Tim. 3:15).

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Robert,

      You said: @Paul: Here ya go mate, really pretty simple if ya believe God’s Word! ~ Eph. 2:18 / 1 Peter 1: 2 / 2 Cor. 13: 14. There are many more verses, as the NT is shot thru with the Triune God: Father, Son, Holy Spirit! 🙂

      A.P. OK lets look at the first one.

      NIV Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

      OK what Trinity??? I see Jesus being spoken of as the one (In Greek a distinct individual: autou’ pronoun personal genitive masculine singular); through whom we have access TO the Father. The “Spirit” is not refereed to here as equal, God, or even a “Person”. In fact the word for Spirit is in the: dative neuter singular; which is not used of living beings.

      The verse seems to deny the Trinity and certainly is neither clear nor explicitly in teaching such a doctrine.
      You sure that is the verse you meant? IT seems to solidly support my position, not yours.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Robert,

      OK lets look at the second verse you list:


      NAS 1 Peter 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.

      A.P. Again just looking at the word “spirit” we see the same problem.

      pneumatos: noun genitive neuter singular.

      Again in the neuter gender and not used of a living being.

      Beyond that not clear statement that supports the Trinity. NO indication of equality, eternal existence, etc.

      As was observed by a Jesuit Scholar:

      Trinity. The trinity of God is defined by the [Roman Catholic] Church as the belief that in God are three persons who subsist in one nature. The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief. The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of “person” and “nature” which are G[ree]k philosophical terms; actually the terms so not appear in the Bible. In the N[ew]T[estament] the Father is “the God” (G[ree]k – ho theos), and Jesus is “the Son of God” (ho hyios tou theou). The Spirit is “the spirit of the God” or “the holy spirit,” in this context a synonymous term. Deity [in the Bible] is conceived not in the G[ree]k [philosophical term] of nature but rather as a level of being … What is less clear about the Spirit [in the Bible] is His personal reality:…

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Robert,

      The quote got chopped so here is the full quote:

      Trinity. The trinity of God is defined by the [Roman Catholic] Church as the belief that in God are three persons who subsist in one nature. The belief as so defined was reached only in the 4th and 5th centuries AD and hence is not explicitly and formally a biblical belief. The trinity of persons within the unity of nature is defined in terms of “person” and “nature” which are G[ree]k philosophical terms; actually the terms so not appear in the Bible. In the N[ew]T[estament] the Father is “the God” (G[ree]k – ho theos), and Jesus is “the Son of God” (ho hyios tou theou). The Spirit is “the spirit of the God” or “the holy spirit,” in this context a synonymous term. Deity [in the Bible] is conceived not in the G[ree]k [philosophical term] of nature but rather as a level of being … What is less clear about the Spirit [in the Bible] is His personal reality: often He is mentioned in language in which His personal reality is not explicit….The O[ld] T[estament], does not contain suggestions or foreshadowing of the trinity of persons. (e.a.)-Dictionary of the Bible, John McKenzie, S.J., (Society of Jesuits) 1965, pp. 899-900.

    • C Michael Patton

      Love discussions about the Trinity. But this post is not about that. I will have to delete any further conversation about it. Please keep on topic.

    • @Michael: Indeed your blog! 🙂 And this thread has been all over the place! Sorry if I too moved it in this direction. And sadly too, people that try to use the Greek Text in some literal sense, to proof text, not good! Allow me to recommend E.W. Bullinger’s little book: Word Studies on the Holy Spirit! A helpful book about the Spirit certainly, and how “Pneuma” is used of all the persons of the Godhead, but certainly Bullinger is/was a Trinitarian!

    • Mike O

      It’s interesting how clearly the original article manifested itself in this discussion! If we didn’t see reasons 1, 2, and 4 played out unabashadly, and reason 3 to a lesser degree …

      It’s was almost prophetic 🙂

    • Dan Martin

      It’s interesting how clearly the original article manifested itself in this discussion! If we didn’t see reasons 1, 2, and 4 played out unabashadly, and reason 3 to a lesser degree …

      It’s was almost prophetic 🙂

      I agree, Michael, and I apologize. I really do appreciate the spirit with which you started, and I should have left it alone. Your (rare) attitude toward these things needs to be spread far and wide. Peace!

    • sam

      The letter was written to 7 chuches, paul wrote letters to 7 churches, 7 is perfection, in scripture. All of the churches read rev. The first part is judgment on Isarel, for playing the harlot, and rejecting Christ. The judgments are in 7 and they are the same. It also mentions that tr church is gonna go thru percacution by the beast. All culmanating with the desctructipn of old covenant Isarel and the passing of the 1st heaven and earth. The new heaven and earth comes out of heaven as a bride, we are the bride of Christ. The body of Christ is the temple where God dwells. And luther thought that rev. Was about his day, and the cathlic church. Sorry….! Time has proved him wrong! Like I said un inspired, and a false teacher in that area. And the bible is supportive of a 2nd coming in there time. If not, then james wouldn’t say the day of the Lord is at hand. He also said the judg is standing at the door. John says in 1st John it is the last hour. Hebrews says it is the last days!! The last days were then! 2000 years ago. Im not pulling scripture to say what I want it to. Its what the scripture says, the words are relavent to the first readers. The futurist have not flow of scripture to support a end of world coming, or even an end of world passage. The kindgon was being preached by John the baptist as being AT HAND!! Not far in the future.

    • One of the biggest needs in the Church today, is a certain and real dialogue, which would help the whole historical Church, and all the Christian members to be able to see the real historic Church’s differences. But, this does not mean the place of attacking the verity of the Bible itself. The Holy Scripture is the only place that we can approach the lasting revelation of God!

    • Pete again


      “infallibility of the magisterium”? I think you have the eastern church mixed up with the Roman Catholic church.

      We have holy tradition, because we followed the Holy Scriptures: “Keep the traditions that we have taught, and pass it on”.

      As I have explained before, the Church is infallible because it is the Body of Christ, and Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.

      The Radical Reformers such as Mennonites are in a tough spot. To justify their positions – because they threw all traditions out and all they have are their sects’ interpretations of the Holy Scriptures – they have to take pot-shots at the Church. So they are taking shots at Jesus Christ Himself, whether or not they know or acknowledge it.

      To make things even tougher, anabaptists are trying to re-create the early Church using a Bible that is missing 10 books from the version (Greek Septuagint) that the early Church used!

      Lord have Mercy

      Glory to God for all things

    • And btw, sadly today I think many Christian’s can loose their own “spiritual pilgrimage”, right with an open Bible before them. I am speaking of their approach to the Holy Scripture… too literal, or too so-called theologically liberal. And here I am also speaking of the social gospel. We must be seeking Christ, and a Christology that is theocentric! And we simply can’t do this without the Historic Church!

    • Myself, as a Reformational and Reformed Christian I don’t see the Church as “infallible”, but certainly historical and having the authority of God. The Church will always be a “pilgrim” church in this life and on the earth, sustained alone by the Holy Spirit. This is the Church that the Reformers sought, and yes it is always “catholic” and “orthodox”… ‘Ecclesia semper reformada’ (always reforming)…by the Word of God, “spirit and truth”.

    • Dan Martin

      @pete again, I’m afraid in this we come to incompatible definitions the Church. That “infallible” Body of Christ unfortunately is comprised of several competing institutions who all make exclusive claim to the title. Which one of you guys are part of the “infallible” Body… Michael the Reformed Calvinist, Robert the Anglican, or you the EO? Or was the infallible body irrevocably broken later but existed at Nicaea?

      I, of course, argue that the Body of Christ includes in its diverse members, all of you and us believers who don’t buy the supremacy of any institution’s apostolic claims. But we’ve already established that I’m on the outs. Funny thing is, if I were ever to see the light, whose light might that be? And how would a seeker evaluate that since you all agree Scripture is an inadequate metric?

      Finally I hear you all basically saying that the Body is ultimately not all, even, of that limited subset who you adjudge orthodox, but only their clergy. I doubt the real, original apostles would countenance that narrow scope.

    • Ryan

      Infallible does not denote unable to be wrong in any sense other than what she preaches, by the inspiration and guidance of the Spirit…Christ Crucified. The Gospel itself is infallible and when the Church (His Body) preaches the Gospel she is indeed infallible. This does not extend to the hierarchy or the members by any other means.

      Who said Scripture is inadequate? Why is only clergy being saved? Roman Catholic theology is not universal and is often grossly misinterpreted.

    • @Dan: Anglicanism is historically both “catholic” and “reformed”, a church of the via-media.. middle way! So historically the Anglican Communion is more Protestant, or Reformational & Reformed but with real “catholic” and historical reality. I would challenge you to read the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles, and even the Irish Articles 1615. I have both on my own blogroll.

      Also, the Church or Body of Christ, is both visible and invisible, it is always a Mixed (Mixm) group on earth: Wheat & Tares (real believers & those who only appear to believe, note here our Lord’s teaching: Parable of the Sower and the Soils, Matt. 13:10-23, etc.). This is why the “Covenantal” life of the visible Church is so important! (Heb. 10: 29)

      Now both Michael and I would be “Calvinist”, at least on soteriology or salvation. And I would first place my understanding of Augustine or Augustinian doctrine here, as did both Luther and Calvin.

      Btw, just a question, but have you ever read Calvin’s Institutes? Especially volume II, on Calvin’s view of the Church: “The True Church With Which As Mother Of All The Godly We Must Keep Unity”. He even calls The Holy Catholic Church, our mother (and this sure is not Rome!).

    • And I would generally agree with our EO Brother Ryan! At least what he has written in #42. 🙂

    • The true Church can only preach an Infallible Gospel, (Rom. 1:16-17)!

    • Ryan

      What is the root of all of the disagreement that has been discussed here? Is it an anthropological/ecclesiastical issue or what?

    • @Dan: Indeed the “Elect” Church is alone known to God, and is itself “regenerate” by God’s grace itself! But as our EO Brethren teach, it is in the process of some aspect of “theosis”, (2 Peter 1: 1-11). As an Anglican Christian I can and must go there! But note verse 1, “the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” And from here comes our “Grace and peace”, “in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godiness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence (value).” (verses 2-3)

      So to my mind, here is both Justification & Sanctification together! But there is an order here as in verse 1…”the righteousness of our God”, first forensic.

    • @Ryan: For me at least, as concerns the EO and the Reformed, it would be the nature of the soteriological. For both the Pauline Imputation and the doctrine of Adoption are wanting with the EO. This is part of the real difference between us! 🙂

    • Pete again


      Fr. Robert and Ryan have responded to your various questions/concerns better than I could have. (thanks gents)

      Through your anabaptist tradition, you have set yourself up as your own infallible interpreter of the Scriptures. So really I have no wish to aggravate or annoy you any further.

      I have tried to start as many paragraphs as I could with “from an eastern point of view…”, which I believe is the spirit that Michael would like his blog to develop, as an exchange of ideas.

      Is there anything else that I didn’t cover or missed, or that you would like to know about the eastern church?

    • Ryan

      @Fr Robert I’m not sure I understand. Imputation in the sense of “original sin” as understood through Jerome’s Latin translation? Adoption in what way?

    • @Ryan: Imputation, in the sense of Augustine’s doctrine, which is toward the idea of Federalism: and the headship of Adam, both the First and the Last Adam. And Adoption in St. Paul, is also “Federal”, but this gives both the work of God forensic, but also “sanctification” begun, and ending ‘In Christ’, (Gal. 4:4-7).

      Btw, I should admit and state, that for me (as Calvin, as I believe Paul etc.), the Word of God, or the Gospel is an electing and rejecting word! (2 Cor. 2: 14-16)…”to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for such things?” And verse 17 is itself so very important today: “For we are not like so many, peddling (corruping) the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.” – Indeed, ‘who is adequate for such things?’ I pray God would make us sufficient for such! All of Grace!

      Sadly, we live in a day when this Gospel (as the Church) is being terribly corrupted by postmodernity. But GOD is always providential & sovereign, in this fallen age and world.

    • Ryan

      Yes, I can see how you would think that we Orthodox are lacking in these realms. We, as far as I know, don’t use any of that language and those ideas are pretty far away from how we approach the subject. I do think though that it wouldn’t take much time for us to realize that we just approach a similar belief from a different direction using different language.

      With reference to the Word of God, I diverge from you. John 1:1 tells us that the Word of God became flesh. The Bible is a divine account of salvific history, calling all unto faith in the Word. In this light I think that we as humans, through our freedom, are accepting or rejecting God’s living and resurrected Word.

      You are right about today’s world…we like to brow beat sinners with God’s word, forgetting that God’s Word became flesh and dwelt amongst us, and came not to judge but to redeem.

      Thanks Fr. you’re a good sport.

    • Dan Martin

      @pete again, no I am not setting myself up as an infallible interpreter, I am merely denying anyone else’s infallibility. This is the sense in which I really resonated with Michael’s original post. I heard in his words a welcome humility I rarely encounter in the church. I’m really not trying to say everyone else is wrong, except insofar as they set themselves or their dogmas as beyond discussion or challenge. Put differently, I am not trying to convert any of you, only to get you to acknowledge the possibility that a faithful follower of Jesus, honestly engaging with the Scriptures and other brethren, might conceivably come to some of the conclusions I have. Even that’s probably a fool’s errand. Like I said, I thought I heard it in the OP which I still appreciate and endorse.

      Peace, y’all!

    • @Ryan: We all come from some “place”, mine was Irish Roman Catholicism, raised in Dublin. However I was later theologically educated in England. Though my first degree was a BA in philosophy, from a R. Catholic college. And herein I was early affected by Augustine and even Catholic Augustinianism. Also since my father, uncles, etc., all fought in WWII, I was raised with a military mind, and history therein. Thus my own time early, and even later, as a Royal Marine Commando (I was a “mustang”, enlisted to officer). My point, is that I have seen much in my life experience, especially a sense of the evil of man! (I was in the Nam -1968- attached to the American Marine 3rd Force Recon), and then much later, in my early 40’s, I fought in Gulf War 1. So, I have come to see a certain real experience of that life, etc. And my theology and way of thinking is touched strongly therein. And of course my own experience of conversion comes thru all of this. Just a bit of where I come from, and again, my providence. 🙂

    • Ryan

      Mr. Martin- I think that asking people to examine their dogmas and reasons for believing those dogmas is a useful call to action. However, when most of us (including myself) are called to question something we have accepted as being true, pride rears its head and we get defensive.

      I also think many of us have come to similar conclusions as you have. I mean, we all proclaim Christ and him crucified…we’ve been focusing on differences instead of where we agree.

      For us Orthodox, our differences with the west are in some cases very radical because we have a much less juridical approach and understanding, and tend to be more Jewish in our ways. But open and honest dialogue is very important, even if we disagree at the end of the day.

    • […] Michael’s recent post on diversity of interpretation, I don’t want to give the impression that I am saying people should agree with me.  I know […]

    • Dan Martin

      Thanks,@pete, I appreciate that.

    • @Dan Martin: You might find this link of interest?


    • Jeff Ayers


      Paul sums up your article with one verse:

      1 Corinthians 11:19 For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

      THERE MUST BE HERESIES … for the purpose of making known those who are approved (dokimos).

      I find my understanding of God, doctrine, theology and things that are spiritual (biblical knowledge)is enhanced, sharpened and even enlightened when I read those with whom I disagree —to MAKE KNOW that which is approved by God (CF 2 Tim 2:15).

      By the way, heresies are a work of the flesh… WHY do people disagree with me??? THEIR FLESH

      Galatians 5:19-20 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness…. heresies!!!!!

    • Dan Martin

      Thanks for the link, Robert. The article is long enough and I’m busy enough it may be a few days before I get to it. An early quick scan gave me the impression it may be somewhat less evenhanded in its approach than an article on Arianism I recently came across in the Catholic Encyclopedia. I found the latter interesting because even though they unapologetically call Arius a heretic, they seemed to make a real effort to present his position at least somewhat sympathetically. Since we only really have a record of Arius’ teachings as represented by his detractors–principally Athanasius–I wonder what the man himself might have said vis-a-vis how he’s interpreted today.

      That said, I look forward to reading the article.

      But I’m thinking we probably need to acknowledge having somewhat overstayed our welcome on this thread of Michael’s. I’m not trying to cut off dialog…in fact I welcome further engagement if you’re interested, but we do need to be fair to our host. You’re always welcome to engage me further over at my blog, where I can grab a confidential email address without it being posted if you want.


    • @Michael: I guess you see this tread as spent? Which is fine. We did get a bit far afield, but really the very nature of the blog question sort of took us there, also. And as you can see I am not a real fan of evidential apologetics, which in my opinion really runs away from the Biblical Text quite often. We can even see this early in Arius and Arianism, note even the early Church historian Eusebius was quite affected by Arianism. As Andrew Louth writes in the Introduction to the Penguin Classic on Eusebius: ” ‘The History of the Church’ is, then, the work of a scholar, but a scholar less interested in ideas than in facts, evidence, information.” This fine, as far as it goes, but then real Biblical history is always bound to the Revelation of God itself, and here is always the presupposition of the Word of God itself! 🙂

    • […] excellent article, Why doesn’t everyone agree with me?  from the Parchment & Pen Blog by C. Michael […]

    • Shrommer

      Romans 14:3, yes, but Romans 14:5 also: Some people consider one day to be more holy than another. Others think all days are the same. Each person should be absolutely sure in his own mind.

      One version says: Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.


    • Mark Ducharme

      //…there are many people out there who do not hold to inerrancy, yet love and trust the same Christ as me…//

      Would this be the same Christ who is “The Word”, and which Word is perfect in and of Himself? How does one trust this, self admitted, untrustworthy Word Himself – Christ Himself?

      Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 2 Peter 1:20

    • Dan Martin

      @Mark Ducharme, you’re posing a false linkage. Trusting Christ, the Living Word as being infallible, divine, and all the rest, is not at all the same thing as holding a doctrine of inerrancy about the printed book we call the Bible. At least have the courtesy to compare apples and apples!

    • Mark Ducharme

      //Trusting Christ, the Living Word as being infallible, divine, and all the rest, is not at all the same thing as holding a doctrine of inerrancy about the printed book we call the Bible.//

      A question Mr. Martin: Do we know Jesus independent of His word, written or otherwise? I ask because I always thought any revelation, epiphany, realization, etc. I may receive regarding my Jesus must NECESSARILY correspond to the written form He takes. Those who do otherwise, I thought anyway, are known as false profits.

      To say The Word is NOT inerrant is to open the door to mans subjective, and by definition flawed, view of a Heaven sent gift that is most definitely founded on objective truth. I understand two can read the same verse and come to differing conclusions, I just don’t see how one can say, “It’s not perfect, God’s Word, but it is still what I will follow to heaven.” If it’s not perfect, how do you decide what’s true and what’s false? And if it’s not perfect, a well meaning person could go to destruction by no fault of their own OR, an intentionally sinful one could wind up w/ Him for eternity simply by “getting it right”.

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Mark,

      The problem is what did the original Greek actually say and eman.

      This is the problem with identifying something not mexplicitly taught.

      Yes we all know what is explicitly taught:

      Jesus is the Son of God
      Jesus is our Lord and Savior
      Baptism is a Christian “rite”
      Repentance is necessary.

      These are examples off clear teaching.

      However doctrines like the Trinity, true or false, are NOT explicitly taught. That is the problem.

      Require Clear dogma but do NOT raise man’s opinion to that level.

      Doctrine is of men, Dogma is seen in clear and explicit terms, requiring NO interpretation and has no grammar/language issues.

      Baptism is an example.

      Baptism being a Christian “rite” is clear, thus Dogma. Full immersion, sprinkling, baptism of infant children, etc are examples of doctrine.

      People many times disagree because on person, group or church, raises doctrine to the level of Dogma.

    • C Michael Patton

      The canon of Scripture is not taught explicitly either, yet I am assuming that there is a certain set of bit by which you evaluate doctrines.

    • Btw, as I have said before, people that won’t be in some place of historical church submission, and for me at least that begins with the Ecumenical Councils and especially with the Nicene and too the Athanasian, as too the Aposles Creed, simply cannot be orthodox! (i.e. the creedal substance) As I have noted Calvin’s position of the True Church (which for him was the Reformational and Reformed Church), being the “Mother of All The Godly”, and the “Means of Grace”. (See Calvin Vol. 2 Book Four, of the Institutes). Though of course there is no perfection here, as the True Church is always a Pilgrim Body on earth. And btw, it appears even Calvin did not like the Nicene or the Athanasian Creed. Though he was surely Trinitarian. I would disagree with Calvin here! 😉

    • Dan Martin

      @Mark, I think you’re conflating a few dissimilar questions into one lump and it doesn’t quite follow. So to dissect:

      Do we know Jesus independent of His word, written or otherwise? Well, yes, we also know Jesus through the written word of those who testify to having seen and walked with Jesus. They have testified to Jesus’ work and word, and we trust their testimony is true. But this is not the same thing as stating that the testimony of those apostles is, itself, the “Word of God.”

      You pointed out that one can’t say It’s not perfect, God’s Word, but it is still what I will follow to heaven. I agree. I don’t say that. I do say the Biblical canon is “not perfect,” but neither is it *all* “God’s word,” though some of what it contains certainly is God’s word. God’s word is infallible. Our record of it is most certainly not.

      “So,” you might ask, “on what basis do you hold to Sola Scriptura if it’s not God’s infallible word?” To this I answer: though not infallible, it’s the best record of God’s words, Jesus’ actions and teachings, that we have. As such, though not every phrase is foundation for dogma, it provides us sufficient grounds for all that we need for salvation and faithfulness. Anything else (including the church modern and historical) is of inferior authority and must be judged according to the recorded, written standard. To say it is not infallible, which I do, is not to say any other source of…

    • Dan Martin

      Sorry, last post got truncated. To say the Bible is not infallible (or verbally/plenary inspired), which I do, is not to say that any other source of authority is equal or superior to it.

    • Mark Ducharme

      If //the Biblical canon is “not perfect,” but neither is it *all* “God’s word,”// is true then, exactly, WHO is (and HOW are they) to determine which *parts* are in fact //God’s Word//?

      Or, to put it your other way: exactly WHO is to (and by what means can “they”) determine //God’s word (as) infallible.// even though //Our record of it is most certainly not.//

      Once you say part of the Bible is wrong, you, necessarily, open the door to ALL of it being wrong. FWIW, this is my take: the Creator of the universe is perfectly capable of seeing to it that His Word is available to all those He will save – even against the will of those who would corrupt His Word. YES, I believe He is that sovereign.
      Otherwise, what does the word sovereignty mean?

      Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Colossians 2:8

    • Perhaps this is a good time to see the difference, at least somewhat, between the Ipsissima vox – “the very voice”; and the “verba” – “the very word”. This link might be helpful…


      Myself, I think is possible to respect both, to proper degree.

    • Dan Martin

      @Fr. Robert, I enjoyed that article…thanks for the link. I thought this paragraph toward the beginning was particularly insightful:

      I am, however, uncomfortable with a broad view of ipsissima vox. What the broad view terms inerrant, an unbiased observer would call errant. Accurately paraphrasing or translating what someone said is one thing. Inaccurately reporting what someone said is an error. Changing what someone said and reporting it as though that is what the person said is another matter altogether.

      I do think that the author (like so many) plays a little fast and loose with 2 Tim 3:16 (really should be vv. 14-17) and 2 Pet 1:21. To extend these to all of the texts, but only the texts in our present canon is only supportable if you presuppose that’s what God intended to do.

      To @Mark, I would suggest a very simple test…let the various texts of the Bible speak for themselves. When THEY say God is speaking, believe it’s his word being reported. When they don’t, don’t claim it’s God speaking.

    • Dan Martin

      Note that nowhere in the entire text of the Biblical canon, does anyone actually refer to those written texts as the “Word of God.” We ought to parse “it is written,” the “Law,” “thus saith the LORD,” and the records of Jesus’ words as the different things they really are.

    • @Dan, Your idea really begs the question or really the reality of Holy Scripture, just as ‘the Church’ is the church is the “household of God”, “the church of the living God, the pillar (mainstay) and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15) – Note that word “spport” (Hedraioma, Gk) that stay and seat..stedfast and firm support & ground, or the bulwark..”of the truth”. The great question of course today, is where is that Church? I maintain that Church is the Reformational and Reformed Church, not by name, but by that nature: Ecclesia semper reformada – always reforming, by “spirit and truth”!

      I am not really attacking YOU! We just don’t agree on the nature of either the Church of God, or the Word of God! And that is a very big historic difference! 🙂

    • Mark Ducharme

      //When THEY say God is speaking, believe it’s his word being reported. When they don’t, don’t claim it’s God speaking.//

      What a relief, I just searched the phrase, “Thus saith the Lord” and it only appears 413 times in THE ENTIRE BIBLE and ALL in the OT! This is great cause I don’t even read that tired old thing so, all I have to say is,

    • Dan Martin

      @Robert, if by begging the idea of Holy Scripture, you mean questioning the consideration of Scripture as a unitary or monolithic entity, you are correct, I do. I don’t see Biblical precedent for seeing the Law, Prophets, Wisdom, and Psalms as all of a kind. This is not to say they are not authoritative. It is rather to keep that authority in proper focus. When Isaiah or Jeremiah said God told him to tell the Israelites he wasn’t having their “worship”in a context of raping the poor, that word from God is something I accept as being faithfully reported or recorded. But when David in a fit of rage blesses the guy who wouldsmash his enemies’babies on the rocks, neither David nor later Biblical writers is under any illusion that those words, or their sentiments, are remotely Godly or God-inspired.

      You are quite correct, however, that we’re really just taking another orthogonal look at the same difference we have already explored regarding the foundational authority of the historical church. That base sustains a lot of other subjects! No insult nor attack taken…

    • Dan Martin

      @Mark, you overlooked what I said about Jesus’ words, teachings, and acts in the Gospels. That’s freedom, all right, but not the way you implied! ;{)

    • @Dan: Yes I would see King David always under the providence of God, when obeying God’s commands, when he destroyed the enemies of both God and Israel! For here is the written Word and revelation of God! Who am I to seek to get “into God’s head”, GOD does what God wants, and with His people and His creation! Thankfully we have moved into God’s further covenantal reality with the NT or “covenant” position, but GOD is still God, and always sovereign, (Rom. 9). Obedience is still a thing God requires, even in this Covenant, and not I will only obey if I can understand, and can figure God out? This will never be, or happen (not in this life), or the next I am sure! The fear or awe of God is still the real “knowledge” of God, both real wisdom and instruction! (Proverbs)

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Michael,


      I believe that the NT canon was set by God just as the OT was. The “Church” even when not in obedience to God, was used by God to identify His word. The OT was complied and agreed upon by a Leadership in Judah that was corrupt at the time it was completed. God can accomp0lish His will regardless of the level of obedience or even belie on the part of His chosen instrument.

      Doctrine would be that which men, other than the writers of the NT, derive from “their” understanding of Scripture, not that which is clearly taught. Consider my previous example of Baptism.

    • C Michael Patton

      So do you accept the belief that there is a 66 bbok canon and that the canon is closed even though it is not explicitly taught in Scripture?

      And of so, how important it it to get the right books? Absolutely, very, somewhat, or not too important.

    • Mark Ducharme

      bottom line: if there is no absolute, objective, perfect and perfectly KNOWABLE truth there is ONLY mans subjective (i.e. made up) fantasy which he declares to be reality.

      I have a friend, a self-proclaimed Christian, who believes – with all his heart – that, since he is incapable of turning the other cheek, God is faithful to NEVER present him w/ a challenge in that area of his walk. He is a decent man. In many ways a God fearing man. But the cancer of pride (i.e. more confidence in self than in the power of the spirit of the very Creator of his *self*) has crept into his walk via the evil of relativism. It started subtly. Kind of like, “Hey, look here. Doesn’t this look good to eat?”

    • Btw, “I believe”…hopefully “We believe”, that’s credal! 🙂

    • Paul Leonard

      I do believe the Bible is a 66 book canon and that it is closed, just as the OT canon was closed by Jesus day even though not explicitly taught. It is our touchstone and no other work is.

    • I can and will say Amen to this!

    • Mark Ducharme

      //So do you accept the belief that there is a 66 bbok canon and that the canon is closed even though it is not explicitly taught in Scripture?//

      Not 100% clear on what you mean but, regarding “the canon is closed”, my question is: Who do YOU say closed it?

    • C Michael Patton

      Truthfully, I don’t remember why I asked it or even what we were discussing. Sorry.

    • Mark Ducharme

      Yeah, don’t you hate when that happens? 😉

    • Mark Ducharme

      Anyway, the point of the question, “Who do you say closed it?”, is: If man’s the one, “UH OH! welcome to errant-ville!”
      If it was God however, “Bless the Lord’s Credo, full speed ahead!” 🙂

      Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. 1 Corinthians 1:25-29

    • Here’s a link on the Canon, and the classic Athanasius piece to the Canon.


    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Michael,

      Yep God closed it or we have a book of man.

      How?? Through His Spirit acting on those who were in a positio0n to develop and approve the canon.

      If we cannot believe that, then we are miserable men indeed because we are only following the words of men, imperfect men.

      We should be in agreement with Dogma (Clear and explicit teaching) and can disagree on Doctrine ( not clear in Scripture as a “Teaching” but based on scripture not directly addressing the issue or not clear on it)

      The disagreements on doctrine are where most are at. They/we, in effect favor the choices of one group of men over another.

      Then we need to look at the men and the result of their actions in the life of the believers who follow their position.

      Kinda like Jesus said of the Pharisees, do as they say not as they do. He saw their hypocrisy. Many may be following such white washed graves.

    • I would myself, not make such a division between doctrine and dogma, but I would generally agree with this definition, based on the Word of God and the Ecumenical Councils.

      Therefore, a dogma is a doctrine “to be believed by divine and Catholic Faith” that has been proposed by the Church to be “divinely and formally revealed.”

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Robert,

      The problem with your definition is that it is what the Jews did with their extra Biblical writings and traditions. After all, the EOC and the RCC split, and the Anglican split (due to a King’s wishes), and the Protestants split, etc. Look at all the Traditions of both the EOC and RCC that we find NO reference to in Scripture.

      Once we give such authority to men we have a problem. Does this mean I reject such “authority” as is needed in the “Church” no. BUT it must be based on Clear and Explicit Scripture.

      That is why I make such a split between Dogma (or if you prefer Doctrine) and doctrine (or if you prefer Teachings).

      I used the example of Baptism. Dogma/Doctrine is that it is a part of Christianity. Then we have doctrine/Teaching on Immersion, sprinkling, Infant baptism, etc.

      This does not mean we can have thousands of different doctrine/teachings, rather that when not clear we look at the Teachers and Institution to see if it is living up to (and has) the Clear and Explicit standards as set forth in Scripture or has let the doctrine/teachings of men lead them down the wrong path.

      I think we might agree that Jim Jones taught some truth, BUT he went beyond and his actions and that of his followers show that he was NOT a teacher to follow. Kinda like Tertullian who went into Heresy himself. If we pinned our beliefs on his words, we have a serious problem as we don’t know when he started down that wrong path.

    • @Paul: Yes we would have a much different approaches to the historical Church. I would always place the Church itself as central, but certainly secondary before the Word of God itself, but noting as does Paul, that the Church is “the pillar (mainstay) and support of the truth”, (1 Tim. 3:15). So the Church itself always is part of the theological understanding of and toward the Word of God. Even in the Reformational and Reformed Church the Church is central in the understanding of the Word of God, though the Church is always a Pilgrim Body.

      Btw, I do not see Tertullian as in heresy myself, as today many scholars do not either. Certainly dissenting on behalf of the so-called New Prophecy, he continued to affirm the church as one, holy, catholic and apostolic. But he saw that sin was real even in the ecclesiology of the church. But this is a long and thological subject, we cannot go into here.

    • Paul Leonard


      I think the problem is in two areas.

      1. The meaning of “Church”. In Scripture the word ekklesia does not mean the organization or a “Church” with a hierarchy, rather the people congregated together. The actual leadership in the 1st century was of the Apostles and men they recognized such as James, Jude, etc. . In fact we see in Rev 2 and 3 what was happening among the churches who had bad leadership. The ekklesia was of faithful ones not necessarily the leadership.

      2. Which “church”? Who today make up the “church”?

      Claiming to be “it” is vastly different than being “it”.

      That is why I said behavior, practices and reputation (current and historically) is critical to identifying the real teachers of the ekklesia/church and see how their behavior and teachings impacted the ekklesia.

    • I would look to Acts 15 very closely, as we seek to see and identify the Church. There is really no Church of God without the very formation of the Church itself…”For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials.” (Acts 15:28)

      And the church will always be something of the biblical hierarchy…Acts 15: 22! There may not be literal Apostles any longer, but there is surely the Apostles Doctrine (Acts 2:42), and surely here is the essence of the teaching church itself! (Eph. 4:11-13) Ephesians 4 is a another gand chapter in the life, authority and reality of the Church! (Eph. 4: 16)

    • Paul Leonard


      Yes there will be a leadership. However as we see from scripture not all who claim that position are led by God.

      As I said one way to know who is used by God because of faithfulness to His word; and who is not, though claiming such, is not historical claims but the evidence. Jesus gave several indications of who truly were his followers and who weren’t. Matching such is the issue, not simply claims to be so.

      We have the System in place in Jesus’ day. It had a leadership and followers and virtually all were believers. Yet Jesus excoriated the leadership as a group, though individuals were faithful. They had been the “ekklesia” for over 1500 years, yet were not really leading God’s people in the way of truth. Doctrine, traditions, opinions of many “leaders’ did not make the “Church” then God’s. They had to be called out of that mess. Today with thousands of denominations and many founded on the whim of a man, we see a similar situation. Believing man rather than God’s word. How do we identify the true followers/ekklesia from the false?

    • In reality only two things make the Church of God, the Lordship of Christ, His Person & Work, and the “the Gospel of the grace of God.” (Acts 20: 24)

    • Pete again

      @paul, at the risk of beating a dead horse, Fr. Damick’s article clearly articulates the eastern church’s position re: your inquiry:


      @ Fr. Robert, I’ve looked back on documentation and am sure that “ecclesia semper reformanda” is thouroughly a western viewpoint of the church. It was originally created by Protestants to label the chuch, in order to get around the “body of Christ failed” issue that was discussed a couple of weeks ago. It has since been adopted by the RCC in the late 20th century.

      Now just to clarify, we are NOT saying that NO ONE ELSE is part of the Body of Christ except for us. If you’d like more info, Fr. Damick’s book “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” gives a nuanced look at this complex subject.

      Glory to God for all things

    • @Pete: Yes, it is Western, but ‘right is right’…the true Church is always reforming itself, under the authority of “spirit and truth”. Btw, I see St. Paul as much more affected by the Greco-Roman in his Jewish Hellenism.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      Yes he expresses the “orthodox” view very well, but still as opinion.

      However the original question had to do with people not agreeing. I as an example, based on Jesus parable of the Wheat and Weeds, can’t help but see that the n”Church” of the second century at the latest, became weed filled.

      This has led primarily to diverse Doctrine/teaching as compared to Dogma/Clear Scriptural directives. This is at the root of disagreement, following the teachings of men who “claim” to be spirit led. Unfortunately with the wide variety of doctrines and teachings, it simply can’t be true of all. Since peop0le hate to admit they are wrong, those they respect give nice arguments based on human reasoning as to what they aren’t and of course the ever present desire to BE seen as a Christian by Christ (I.e. saved and goi8ng to heaven), most won’t accept they and their “church” are …. well.. wrong.

      Now EOC members will disagree. Fine , just as ROC members will advocate the ROC and Anglican’s, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc will advocate for non EOC/ROC Churches (With a mild exception of the Anglican, which seems to reject primarily the Vatican), we see distension.

      OK, to me the way to know who, if anyone, is THE True Church is to check it’s history of behavior and teaching against Scripture and what Jesus said would identify the True Church, his followers.

      Scripture NOT tradition or human reasoning.

    • Dan Martin

      @Pete, I read your link/article and I both enjoyed it immensely and had to chuckle…enjoyed your pointing to the Truth of Jesus as a person, enjoyed the humility of tone. Nevertheless I chuckle, because underneath it all there remains the same certainty that Christ is embodied in a specific institution you call the Orthodox Church. Change the names and you have Roman Catholicism; change the names yet again and add nasty angry shouting and you have Westboro Baptist Church. In the final analysis you’re still talking fundamentalism, even if it’s with a soft voice and a gentle smile.

      Don’t get me wrong…I’ll take gentle fundamentalism over the militant, screaming, hateful kind any day of the week, but still…

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Dan,

      I don’t have a problem with it being a specific institution, as Christ does not exist divided. The question is WHICH institution? God has always dealt since Moses day with ONE institution and as a previous poster pointed out Acts 15 endorses that.

      How do we identify the True Church, knowing then we have found the True ekklesia. Mind you this does not leave others out in the cold totally. Revelation 18: 4 however does give direction to such.

      IN cae you are wondering my Father was Catholic and my Mother was raised in the Presbyterian church. I have family members in many different churches: from the Catholic Church, Presbyterian, 7th Day, Non Denominational, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bahia and a few who are probably atheists as well.

      Makes for interesting views. Now why don’t we agree as Michael asked? Different teachings, even if we hold to the same essential Dogma’s. ALL cannot be right, and that means one must be. How do we tell?

    • Dan Martin

      @Paul Leonard, ALL cannot be right, and that means one must be.

      No, it means nothing of the sort. All may be wrong in different ways. I rather suspect all have some truth but none have all of it. I am completely convinced that the Church…that is, the Body of Christ…spans institutions, denominations, and time. I repudiate *any* institution that claims to have a lock on it.

    • Pete again

      @Dan, if you see Orthodoxy as equal to the teachings & traditions of the RCC or Westboro Baptist…I don’t know how to respond.

      @Paul, “Scripture NOT tradition or human reasoning.” Do you really believe that Scripture can be interpreted without being interpreted? Because interpretation itself is tradition. Baptist tradition is based upon their interpretation of Scripture. RCC’s interpretation is part of their tradition. Etc. And EVERY tradition has elements that are not SPECIFICALLY written in the Bible.

      Orthodox tradition is the oldest, most unchanged interpretation of Scripture. If you can find otherwise, let me know.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Dan,

      I see one institution. God, as long as he has had a people, not simply of one family like Abraham, has always gathered them together into ONE group. Revelation 18:4 tells us to get OUT of those that are not true. Jesus said the wheat would be gathered into ONE storehouse not many. Acts 15 shows a united “Church”, not each ekklesia going it’s own way in partial error; and Paul’s words in 1 Cor 1:10 must be obeyed.

      ASV 1 Corinthians 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

      If God can’t bring His people together, then we have a serious problem. It makes no sense for Him to let His people wander in confusion as He is Not a God of confusion.

      KJV 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

      Note; as in ALL the churches.

      DRA 1 Corinthians 7:17 … And so in all churches I teach.

      The problem again is that no one wants to address the reality because it eliminates so many “Churches” and to a degree isolates true believers from the “mainstream”. Yet that is what it also did in the 1st century.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      Pete:, “Scripture NOT tradition or human reasoning.” Do you really believe that Scripture can be interpreted without being interpreted?

      Paul: Yes, as we can simply take what requires NO interpretation. We need no interpretation to know that Jesus is our Lord and Savior, as an example. That is “Dogma” and superior to traditions. Interpretation can lead to doctrine/teachings, but such are Not equal to the clear teaching requiring no man’s interpretation.

      Pete: Because interpretation itself is tradition. Baptist tradition is based upon their interpretation of Scripture. RCC’s interpretation is part of their tradition. Etc. And EVERY tradition has elements that are not SPECIFICALLY written in the Bible.

      Paul: Yep tradition based on man’s reasoning NOT clear Scripture. Tradition is not equal to Scripture except for those who want THEIR tradition to be equal so THEIR beliefs cannot be questioned. What did Jesus say about the traditions that went beyond Scripture?

      NKJ Mark 7:7 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

      Whaat was he talking about?

      ESV Mark 7:4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.)


    • Paul Leonard

      HI Pete,


      I would expect you or anyone to hold strongly to their “church” and have strong reasons for doing so. Yet the parable of the wheat and weeds, clearly shows the early church became weed filled. This is brought out in Rev chapters 2 and 3 and those were Eastern Churches.

      The traditions are still traditions of men not God. Lo0ok at all the rites, dress, celebrations that are not found anywhere in Scripture. They are the commands/doctrines/traditions of men. Their age does not make them scriptural at all.

      I notice no one addresses the behavior of believers, why not? I believe Jesus clearly said:

      ASV Matthew 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

      DBY Matthew 12:33 Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree corrupt, and its fruit corrupt. For from the fruit the tree is known.

      ESV Luke 6:43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,

      Paul saw it happening in his day:

      NAB 2 Corinthians 11:15 So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

      No, traditions and claims of historicity are of no avail as everyone has the same position based on their beliefs and traditions. Fruitage in harmony with clear Scripture is evidence.

    • Pete again

      Hi Paul, good discussion.

      Paul: Yes, as we can simply take what requires NO interpretation.

      Pete: We would get, maybe, one half of one page that we all agree on! For example, “this is my body, this is my blood.” “whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” Pretty clear, eh Paul? No? OK, see what I mean?

      Did you know that the eastern church has a different interpretation than you on: sin; salvation; what constitutes the Bible; church structure; the Mother of God; communion of the saints; icons; the incarnation; church authority; confession; Liturgical worship; the Trinity; the Eucharist; eschatology; sanctification; original sin; fasting; etc. I could go on and on, unfortunately.

      Paul: What did Jesus say about the traditions that went beyond Scripture?

      Pete: in those passages he is talking about the Jews and the Old Covenant. The New Testament, on the other hand, commands us to “keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you”. 1 Cor 11:2.

      When Jesus ascended after 40 days, he didn’t throw copies of the King James down on everyone; instead, after 10 days, he sent the Holy Spirit down and established the Church. “He have Him to be head over all things to the church, the fullness of Him who fills all in all”. Eph 1:23. As Fr. Robert has quoted several times, the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth”. 1 Tim 3:15.

    • Pete again

      Paul, re: continued:

      I’m not sure what you are asking?

      If you believe that the church failed and that the “weeds” took over; or that the church is “always reforming”, which means “always failing and the true believers have to split off and start their own church”…then sorry, I don’t agree. I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

      I take Christ at his word when he said that the church would never fail. I guess that could be considered child-like faith. If it is, then I’m guilty as charged! 🙂

    • @Pete: I think, as you said earlier, were beating a dead horse seeking to talk “fundamentalism” with these said brethren! Note, some deny the Trinity of God here!

      And the idea of the ‘Church always reforming’ is not the Church breaking down and reconstituting in some complete reconstructionism (aka the anabaptists), as the church renewing constantly by “spirit and truth”. There is a big difference! Our fundamentalist brethren, have the church broken and even overcome, but this was not the Church of the Reformation!

    • Dan Martin

      @Paul Leonard, I’m thoroughly confused. I see you disagreeing with @Pete’s Orthodox institution and @Robert’s combination of Calvinist Anglican, but I also hear you saying there is “one institution.” I’m curious which “one” is your “one?”

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      <Paul: Yes, as we can simply take what requires NO interpretation.

      Pete: We would get, maybe, one half of one page that we all agree on!

      Paul: Yep, those would be Dogma.

      Pete: For example, “this is my body, this is my blood.” “whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” Pretty clear, eh Paul? No? OK, see what I mean?

      Paul: And that "could" be an example of doctrine/teaching. That is assuming no other verses or verses makes it clear as to what was meant, or the language.

      Pete: Did you know that the eastern church has a different interpretation than you on: sin; salvation; what constitutes the Bible; church structure; the Mother of God; communion of the saints; icons; the incarnation; church authority; confession; Liturgical worship; the Trinity; the Eucharist; eschatology; sanctification; original sin; fasting; etc. I could go on and on, unfortunately.

      Paul: Yep and ALL of those are traditions or teachings, not Dogma based on clear scripture. They "could" be true, but not if the Group holding to them does not match the descriptions given by Christ of his followers and their history is in conflict with clear scripture.


    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,


      <Paul:What did Jesus say about the traditions that went beyond Scripture?

      Pete: in those passages he is talking about the Jews and the Old Covenant. The New Testament, on the other hand, commands us to “keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you”. 1 Cor 11:2.

      Paul: Fine what "traditions" do we see Jesus delivering to them? Please point out the specific verses, not later ideas of men who existed long after he left the earth. What makes you think man could not develop false traditions?

      Pete: When Jesus ascended after 40 days, he didn’t throw copies of the King James down on everyone; instead, after 10 days, he sent the Holy Spirit down and established the Church. “He have Him to be head over all things to the church, the fullness of Him who fills all in all”. Eph 1:23. As Fr. Robert has quoted several times, the church is “the pillar and ground of the truth”. 1 Tim 3:15.

      Paul: Nope no KJV then at all. However the question is not IF Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, rather who really received it.

      The word "church" is ekklesia and refers to the "body" of believers, not a hierarchy. I am in agreement with Scripture, it is WHO makes up the "teachers" appointed by God over His sheep. Many claim it. After all does a historical existence make one right? Nope because for example, the EOC is rooted in the Eastern congregations exposed in Rev 2 and 3. The teachers were false, but "some" members were truly of the body of…

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Dan,

      But that is the question. Not if their is one, but who make it up?

      To me it would be the “one” group that best matches the description of Jesus disciples, not simply a confused mass of people who are all being misled. God is NOT a God of such confusion. IF we are in the Harvest/Last days all who truly respond will gather together into the one storehouse. If it is not the Harvest, it is all a mix of wheat and weed and you would be correct that all groups are a mix.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      Pete: I take Christ at his word when he said that the church would never fail. I guess that could be considered child-like faith. If it is, then I’m guilty as charged! 🙂

      Paul: and I do too. The difference is that in scripture it does not say “Church” as in an institution, rather it refers to the Body of Christ which has always existed. Hell has not overcome it in that there had never been a time when members of that Body did not exist. It says nothing about a “Church’ as in institution and in fact Jesus own words about the Wheat and Weeds clearly shows the Church/Institution would be polluted.

      Rev 2 and 3 confirms that some were faithful, but not all.

      The “Church” became weed filled, the Body still existed within that weedy field.

    • Pete again

      HI Paul,

      On a quick lunch break, will respond more comletely later.

      But, it always cracks me up when people talk about “those awful traditions of men”. Here’s an example:

      Over 1,600 years ago (and surely earlier), our Christian priests and deacons began to dress in vestements during Liturgies. The 21st century western protestant sees this as obviously “too Catholic” and clearly “a bad tradition of men”.

      Less than 200 years ago, someone reads Revelation and comes up with “the rapture”. “Rapture” is now a BILLION DOLLAR business. But that’s not a “tradition of men”? Of course it is.

      Closing your eyes during prayer is a “tradition of men”. Is it a bad thing? Not to me.

      Do you know what else is a tradition of men? A Southern Baptist preaching in a 3-piece suit. Do I think that this is “wrong”? No. Why? Because the Church isn’t some imagined idea, it is made up of human beings. The Church is both divine and human. And humas have traditions! Weddings are a tradition. Christmas is a tradition. Traditions can be good!

      I would suggest that you get off the “traditions of men” rabbit hole/treadmill/blind alley and continue to your original search for the church that best embodies the True Church. 🙂

    • @Pete: Your wasting your time, note Matt. 7:6, one could at least make an application here! “Spirit and truth” is something that God alone does, and HE alone overcomes the “stiff-necked”! But, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord of hosts.” (Zech. 4:6) We so often forget that this is a spiritual reality, journey & battle! And so often one can read just the “letter” of the Word, and not see or understand the Spirit! This is what our Lord said so often Himself, in the Parable of the Sower… “And the disciples came and said to Him. “Why do You speak to them in parables?” He answered and said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” (Matt. 13: 10-11) So in reality this is often the confrontation of the Word & Spirit of God, itself! “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

      Btw, this is an “existential” reality itself, in “Spirit and truth”! God is both transcendent and immanent, but always ‘In Christ’, and God triune!

    • Pete again

      Fr Robert, against my better judgment, I’ll respond. 🙂

      @Paul, you are referencing the book of Revelation, which you say shows that the Church failed in the last 1st century. Well, do you know when the canon of the NT was assembled? In the middle/late 4th century by the Church. Did you know that it wasn’t totally obvious which books should be in the NT canon? It took several councils to decide & recommend the final canon to the churches.

      Each of these individual books were copied by hand and circulated. We know that the popularity of books were directly proportional the # of copies. So it is no surprise that we have the most copies of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. Paul’s epistles were also very popular and we have many surviving copies of these (none of the originals, of course). Some of the choices were tough: the epistles from Barnabus to selected churches, although thought to be genuine, were not added. The “least popular” book of the early Church, Revelation, was added.

      Anyway, here is my point: why would the Church of the 4th century add any book that would obviously point to the corruption of the Church? Well, they wouldn’t, and they didn’t. The wheat survived the weeds. The field was harvested, not burned.

      The churches of Antioch, Phillippi, Thessalonica, etc. and yes, Philadelphia all survived; these Christian churches are almost 2,000 years old. And they call themselves “Orthodox”.

      Glory to God for all things!

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      Pete:Anyway, here is my point: why would the Church of the 4th century add any book that would obviously point to the corruption of the Church? Well, they wouldn’t, and they didn’t. The wheat survived the weeds. The field was harvested, not burned.

      Paul: The corrupt Jewish religious leaders also approved of books that condemned them. God’s will does not require a faithful Church leadership. The Jewish system was corrupt before the last book was written that really takes them to task. Your appeal to God’s blessing on the 4th century (or earlier) “Church” is fallacious based on Biblical history with the OT canon.

      Plus the harvest has not yet occurred, so it is still a mix or the Body is being called OUT of the weed filled Churches.

      Just look at the history of these Churches and see if it matches what Jesus said would be identifying evidence of his followers. IT isn’t just growth but ……?

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Robert,

      Well your argument covers Micheal’s point #4 in his opening commentary. Unfortunately it could just as easily apply to you and those who agree with you. Claiming to have the leading Of the spirit is vastly different than actually having it.

      In reality your commentary here is basically an ad hominem attack and such is known to be used when a reasonable and logical rebuttal is lacking.

      The divisions in the “Churches” is clearly a violation of clear scriptural direction, given by Holy Spirit (1 Cor 1:10).

      Try Scripture directly addressing the points or in effect you are pointing out that one of Micheal’s points really fits …..

      You will notice I have not attacked any person or said they do not truly love God, His Son or His word, just that part of the reason why disagreement exists is a refusal to follow clear scripture, Scriptural conformity) in favor of organizational conformity.

    • Paul Leonard

      Hi Pete,

      Re traditions.

      You are painting with broad strokes and missing the meaning and examples in Scripture.

      The things you list, say about dress, are traditions of men. So what? Not all are WRONG or BAD, just some when they contradict clear Scripture and advance the interests of a group, particularly the power of the “leaders”.

      Two examples.

      1. Wine at Passover in Jesus day. Jesus said nothing was wrong and in fact used this tradition (addition) of men as it is NOT found as a part of the passover in the OT, but was added by man. IT did not violate any command of God.

      2. Scripture clearly says that a “tradition” making eating certain foods, that the Bible does not tell us to abstain from, is n a tradition of men and in violation of God’s will.

      1 Timothy 4:1-3 KJV 1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

      Voluntary would be OK, but declaring such a sin would be a tradition of weeds.

      Many traditions are clearly man made AND un-Scriptural, such as the wide distinction between clergy and laity, exalting of clergy and the giving of titles that glorify such, etc.

      What did Jesus say…

    • @Paul: You have attacked the Historical Church of God! And there is no “Harvest”! I am not a Pentecostal! And I have come to the point that there is little sense in talking with you! This is not ad hom, so much as just ad hoc, there is a difference! I have not attacked your person, but certainly your “lack” of historical belief, in both the Church of God, and the Ecumenical Councils. That’s pretty much it. So there is really no sense in seeking to dialogue when there is almost no “common” ground! (Jude 1:3)

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