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  • are the dead dead?

    This thread is a break off of another thread about whether Christians who have passed from this life are dead. The below is a post that I was requested by Trustgzus (Joe) to repost in a new thread to start a discussion on this topic.

    Thanks.

    Two points:

    First point:
    As I said in another post in another thread, the issue is authority. For you, apparently, the authority of 1500+ years of unbroken Christian practice does not have any weight for you. For Romanists, it is extremely weighty. For me, it holds some but not definitive weight. The weight one gives this source of authorty decides the issue.

    Second point:
    I, like you, believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. However, we differ in how much weight we give various alternative sources of authority (assuming any weight is given at all). I simply do not understand how Christian practice can be given so little authoritative wright. Here is why: (1) for 400 years, no unified and agreed upon NT existed, therefore Christians had to rely on alternative sources of authortity at times because the NT did not exist; (2) Christians who reject the authority of historic Christian practice appear to accept it (generally without acknowledging their acceptance) when they accept the canon of Scripture. The canon of Scripture was selected by the Body of Believers through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have two sources of extra-biblical authority (i.e.: Body of Believers and the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit) interacting in the discernment of the third, the Bible. Without the practice of the Body of Believers and the decisions it made, we would not have the BIble. THE POINT: If you trust the decision of the Body of Believers to create the canon of Scripture, I simply do not see how you cannot trust it to make other decisions.
    “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14).

  • #2
    Hey Jim,

    Let me begin by answering the thread title are the dead dead?

    It depends on what sense we are talking about. I don't think we have any disagreement. Physically - yes. Spiritually - no.

    On to your first point about tradition. I think my position is something like yours though our degree probably varies. I reject a Roman Catholic view of tradition. However, I don't see it as having no weight whatsoever. But all tradition is subservient to the Scripture. Tradition is not infallible nor inerrant.

    In regard to your second point I have multiple points.
    Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
    (1) for 400 years, no unified and agreed upon NT existed, therefore Christians had to rely on alternative sources of authortity at times because the NT did not exist;
    This is too simple a statement. While the entire canon was not officially recognized, most of the New Testament books were recognized very early such as the gospels and Paul's epistles. There were only a handful that took a couple more centuries to sort out those being Revelation and some of the general epistles. Some were recognized while the NT books were being written. See 2 Peter 3:16 where Peter calls Paul's writings Scripture and 1 Timothy 5:18 where Paul quotes verbatim Luke 10:7.
    Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
    (2) Christians who reject the authority of historic Christian practice appear to accept it (generally without acknowledging their acceptance) when they accept the canon of Scripture. The canon of Scripture was selected by the Body of Believers through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have two sources of extra-biblical authority (i.e.: Body of Believers and the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit) interacting in the discernment of the third, the Bible. Without the practice of the Body of Believers and the decisions it made, we would not have the BIble. THE POINT: If you trust the decision of the Body of Believers to create the canon of Scripture, I simply do not see how you cannot trust it to make other decisions.
    The church didn't decide what was Scripture. If they did, then your point would be valid. They discovered what was already Scripture. When an apostle wrote a book of the New Testament, at that the time of the writing it was either God-breathed or not God-breathed. At that time it either was Scripture or it was not Scripture. The church didn't decide and then it became God-breathed and became Scripture. The church simply had to discover that it already was.

    To quote R. C. Sproul, in the canon we have a fallible collection of infallible books.
    Roman Catholic view: The Canon is an infallible collection of infallible books.

    Classical Protestant view:
    The Canon is a fallible collection of infallible books.

    Liberal Critical view:
    The Canon is a fallible collection of fallible books.

    Sproul, R. C. (1996, c1992). Essential truths of the Christian faith. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.
    Back to you, Jim.

    Joe

    In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. - Rupertus Meldenius

    Read your Bible and pray every single day. - Pastor Jon Courson

    If your grace ain't greasier than a bucket full of chitlin's and gravy, you might be a legalist - an internet friend.

    Comment


    • #3
      TrustGzus

      It depends on what sense we are talking about. I don't think we have any disagreement. Physically - yes. Spiritually - no.

      If spiritually alive why cannot another spirutally alive Christian ask that person to pray to God for him/her?

      On to your first point about tradition. I think my position is something like yours though our degree probably varies. I reject a Roman Catholic view of tradition. However, I don't see it as having no weight whatsoever. But all tradition is subservient to the Scripture. Tradition is not infallible nor inerrant.

      As you may have predicted, my view is consistent with Richard Hooker's classic(al?) Anglican view of the three legged stool of authority (Scripture, Tradition, Wisdom of the Spirit) with the Scripture taking its place as Scriptura Suprema (not Sola Scriptura).

      In regard to your second point I have multiple points.This is too simple a statement. While the entire canon was not officially recognized, most of the New Testament books were recognized very early such as the gospels and Paul's epistles. There were only a handful that took a couple more centuries to sort out those being Revelation and some of the general epistles. Some were recognized while the NT books were being written. See 2 Peter 3:16 where Peter calls Paul's writings Scripture and 1 Timothy 5:18 where Paul quotes verbatim Luke 10:7.

      Granted the above is certainly true. However I think it should also be said that the agreement over some books did not preclude disagreement over others with some Christians advancing some books now considered heresey or fanciful and others now considered inspired.

      The church didn't decide what was Scripture. If they did, then your point would be valid. They discovered what was already Scripture. When an apostle wrote a book of the New Testament, at that the time of the writing it was either God-breathed or not God-breathed. At that time it either was Scripture or it was not Scripture. The church didn't decide and then it became God-breathed and became Scripture. The church simply had to discover that it already was.

      Ins't this just a semantical argument? I will certainly agree that the Council of the Church that announced the canon was inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when it made the announcement and that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church and not the Church itself. I will certainly agree with you on these points.

      In making the above referenced announcment, the Holy Spirit, working through the Church, had to review and approve certain books and review and reject others. Granting the above, it still took a Council of the Church, comprised of us Earthly humans, through which the Holy Spirit spoke to give us our Bible.

      So, I suppose I can rephrase my question. Why do you trust that the Holy Spirit worked through the Church to formulate the canon but not trust that the Holy Spirit worked through the Church on other issues?

      To quote R. C. Sproul, in the canon we have a fallible collection of infallible books. It's theoretically possible that books have been left out that should be in or books have been added that should have been left out.

      I never thought of the RC and Protestant positions in that way before (I do not mention the liberals as I imagine we both reject that view). As an aside to this conversation, I will posit a reason for these different views: The Council of Carthage, when it formulated the canon, merely declared what books could and could not be "read in church." The declaration, to my knowledge, did not say that the list of books permitted to be read in church was comprehensive. The canon was established in Canon 24 (Greek XXVII) of the Council. The COuncil of Trent, attended only by RC bishops, closed the canon at those books announced at Carthage.

      As a further aside, the Bible seems to indicate that there may be a 3 and 4 Corinthians floating out there somewhere. I wonder if found what Christians would do with them.
      “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14).

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
        THE POINT: If you trust the decision of the Body of Believers to create the canon of Scripture, I simply do not see how you cannot trust it to make other decisions.
        Hey Jim,

        Let me quote Sproul again as your wording is the exact wording he uses in countering what you said. Perhaps your word choice isn't as exact as you would have liked or perhaps we simply disagree.
        Some Christians are bothered by the fact that there was an historical selection process at all. They are nagged by the question, how do we know that the New Testament canon includes the proper books? Traditional Roman Catholic theology answers this question by appealing to the infallibility of the church. The church is then viewed as “creating” the Canon, thereby having authority equal to Scripture itself. Classical Protestantism denies both that the church is infallible and that the church “created” the Canon.

        Sproul, R. C. (1996, c1992). Essential truths of the Christian faith. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.
        And for anybody reading this, neither of us is Roman Catholic.

        Seamus is an Episcopalian
        TrustGzus is a non-denominational Evangelical.

        In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. - Rupertus Meldenius

        Read your Bible and pray every single day. - Pastor Jon Courson

        If your grace ain't greasier than a bucket full of chitlin's and gravy, you might be a legalist - an internet friend.

        Comment


        • #5
          TrustGzus
          And for anybody reading this, neither of us is Roman Catholic.
          Seamus is an Episcopalian

          In the US, it is getting unfortunately more complicated as the Episcopal Church is delving more and more into abject heresey. I am not talking of RC v. Protestant stuff I mean abject heresey (denials of basic Christian beleifs). I come from a long line (hundreds of years) of Episcopalians and was baptised, confirmed, and married in the Episcopal Church. HOwever, due to the recent problems and slowly moving schism, I am now, technically, an Anglican as I am now affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas which is a missionary group from the Anglican Church of Rwanda (and others) who have arrived to missionize Americans and provide safe haven for disaffected Episcopalians like me.
          “What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” ( Laws, Book V, 8:2; Folger Edition 2:39,8-14).

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            If spiritually alive why cannot another spirutally alive Christian ask that person to pray to God for him/her?
            We've already talked about one reason. The Bible never tells us to do this and the Bible never gives an example of this.

            Let me give you another reason from a logical standpoint. Do you believe when Christians die physically that we become omnipresent like God? I do not. We are mono-present now. I see no reason to think we are anything but mono-present in the future. Assuming that to be true, it's ridiculous to think that at any single moment that I speak to a deceased Christian that they are where I am at the moment I am talking to them. The only way they could hear me is if they became either omnipresent or omniscient.
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            As you may have predicted, my view is consistent with Richard Hooker's classic(al?) Anglican view of the three legged stool of authority (Scripture, Tradition, Wisdom of the Spirit) with the Scripture taking its place as Scriptura Suprema (not Sola Scriptura).
            This can greatly impact the results of our discussion. How do you determine what tradition is authoritative and which is not? Where do we find "Wisdom of the Spirit"?
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            Granted the above is certainly true. However I think it should also be said that the agreement over some books did not preclude disagreement over others with some Christians advancing some books now considered heresey or fanciful and others now considered inspired.
            Yes, there was agreement and disagreement. But it still comes back to either those books were God-breathed or they were not. If the church bypassed a book, but God inspired it, that doesn't change the fact that it is God-breathed. If someone claimed a book was God-breathed, when in fact it was not, they were wrong. The canon wasn't a subjective thing. A book either objectively belonged in it or not.

            Let's suppose for a moment that 3 John isn't God-breathed (for all those reading, I said let's suppose), the fact that the church eventually included it doesn't make it God-breathed.

            The same can be said for books declared heretical. It's hard to say more without getting into specific details of specific books.
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            Ins't this just a semantical argument? I will certainly agree that the Council of the Church that announced the canon was inspired by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit when it made the announcement and that it was the Holy Spirit speaking through the Church and not the Church itself. I will certainly agree with you on these points.

            In making the above referenced announcment, the Holy Spirit, working through the Church, had to review and approve certain books and review and reject others. Granting the above, it still took a Council of the Church, comprised of us Earthly humans, through which the Holy Spirit spoke to give us our Bible.

            So, I suppose I can rephrase my question. Why do you trust that the Holy Spirit worked through the Church to formulate the canon but not trust that the Holy Spirit worked through the Church on other issues?
            I don't see it as semantical. I see these words as having substantive differences. Probably for two reasons:
            1. I grew up Roman Catholic.
            2. I have a philosophical bent.

            The Holy Spirit can work through the church and does. But those decisions and actions are based on Scripture not in addition to it.
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            I never thought of the RC and Protestant positions in that way before (I do not mention the liberals as I imagine we both reject that view).
            Do you disagree with what Sproul says there?
            Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
            As a further aside, the Bible seems to indicate that there may be a 3 and 4 Corinthians floating out there somewhere. I wonder if found what Christians would do with them.
            I'm not worried about them being found. Paul also wrote to the Laodiceans too. I can't fathom God would have wanted those books included and then let them slip away so thoroughly for two thousand years.

            Grace & peace to you, Jim.

            Joe

            In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. - Rupertus Meldenius

            Read your Bible and pray every single day. - Pastor Jon Courson

            If your grace ain't greasier than a bucket full of chitlin's and gravy, you might be a legalist - an internet friend.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by seamus414 View Post
              In the US, it is getting unfortunately more complicated as the Episcopal Church is delving more and more into abject heresey. I am not talking of RC v. Protestant stuff I mean abject heresey (denials of basic Christian beleifs). I come from a long line (hundreds of years) of Episcopalians and was baptised, confirmed, and married in the Episcopal Church. HOwever, due to the recent problems and slowly moving schism, I am now, technically, an Anglican as I am now affiliated with the Anglican Mission in the Americas which is a missionary group from the Anglican Church of Rwanda (and others) who have arrived to missionize Americans and provide safe haven for disaffected Episcopalians like me.
              Pardon my inaccuracy, Jim. I just wanted to make sure if anyone gets involved that they didn't bash you as a Roman Catholic (not that they should bash a Roman Catholic either - but you and I both know how that goes).

              I'd love to hear more about what you are doing in a different thread or a PM sometime.

              In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity. - Rupertus Meldenius

              Read your Bible and pray every single day. - Pastor Jon Courson

              If your grace ain't greasier than a bucket full of chitlin's and gravy, you might be a legalist - an internet friend.

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree Spirit inspired men by council decided the additional new canon (NT), but why they did so was because they were following law and tradition already laid out in the old canon (OT). The bible was prepared to always be read in the churches. IOW as part of tradition. IOW reading scripture is traditionally part of the order of worship.

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