Another Padawan?

Young Padawan,

Who is this Trace character? My…name…is…Neo.

Jump in on brother Constantine’s erudite comments on hell and such. I love the parable about Judas.

Where we can start girl padawan is the famous ‘solas’ of the Reformation. Let’s start with sola scriptura. Where is that in scriptura? I know that Moody chicks think derive their doctrine from the ‘Bible alone,’ but do you?

16 thoughts on “Another Padawan?

  1. Good place to start. I’m looking forward to pn’s go at it. Alas, it will not be easy, since scripture supports παραδοσις…

  2. Sola scriptura: “This doctrine means that Scripture alone is our only final authority because Scripture, due to its inspiration, uniquely preserves God’s revelation to humanity,” Dr. Finkbeiner, a Moody prof. Tradition (παραδοσις) needs to be subject to Scripture otherwise you’ll be juked. It is true that tradition is found in Scriptura. Though, don’t I remember the Pharisees being rebuked by Jesus for such things (see Mark 7:5)?

  3. But where does the Bible teach sola scriptura? What verse, chapter? To have such a standard without the Bible teaching it, is, well, a bit paradoxical. Perhaps it is a ‘tradition of man’?

    It is true that Mark 7:5 comdemns tradition of men – but that is not what we are talking about here, we are talking about Holy Tradition, which is both used and commended in the New Testament.

    II Timothy 3:8 will hinder the defense of this challenge, since it refers to James and Jambres – who aren’t mentioned in the Bible, demonstrating that St. Paul himself used tradition in a book now accepted by all Christians to be scripture.

    Then there is II Thessalonians 2:15 which commands us to “hold firm to the traditions we have been taught, whether by word or by epistle.” (here “traditions” is from the same Greek “παραδοσις” (paradosis) which literally means “what is transmitted”) (see also I Corinthians 11:2 – same Greek word is used where it might say ‘ordinances’ in your Bible instead of ‘traditions’) – “Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.”

    Remember also that as the canon evolved, scripture, specifically the Gospel, did not exist for the first Christians except as the Old Testament. Well, and what was witnessed to them via Holy Tradition by the Apostles. It was written in the 50-80 years following Christ’s resurrection, and formally wasn’t solidified into the canon we use today until the 300’s. Who faithful transmitted this scripture to those who fixed the canon into place?

    If they faithfully trasmitted scripture over generations, and were able to cast out some writings (Gnostic writing, for example, Gospel of Thomas) through the knowledge of ” the traditions [they had] been taught”, what else did they teach that we should also submit to and learn from?

    Further, sola scriptura is a doctrine that could only have come about from the invention of the printing press onward. Not to mention that for such a doctrine to be effectual, it requires 100% literacy in the world, (if someone reads scripture to me, I can’t trust it – I have to go to the source!) plus a distribution network so everyone can have a Bible.

    Enough rambling for now. I’m interested to hear your response.

  4. JHolder,

    Thanks for your dialogue. Since sola scriptura is paradoxical, according to you because it is not backed up by a specific chapter and verse, you must equally believe that the Trinity is paradoxical. You may say, “Yes, but the doctrine of the Trinity is taught throughout Scripture”…but I would argue that sola scriptura is also taught throughout Scripture.

    I believe you are mistaken as to the dates of NT writings. You said: “Remember also that as the canon evolved, scripture, specifically the Gospel, did not exist for the first Christians except as the Old Testament. Well, and what was witnessed to them via Holy Tradition by the Apostles. It was written in the 50-80 years following Christ’s resurrection, and formally wasn’t solidified into the canon we use today until the 300’s. Who faithful transmitted this scripture to those who fixed the canon into place?”

    The correct dates are 30-60 years after Christ’s resurrection {equivalent to 60’s AD (Gospels)-90’s AD (John’s Revelation)}. Those who faithfully transmitted the Scriptures that we now have in the canon were firsthand eyewitnesses, their disciples and so forth.

    Let me ask you a question…what if all we had right now in 2005 was tradition (oral, not written)and no Scripture at all? Would you still believe what you believe?

    You cannot have tradition without Scripture.

    You also said: “Further, sola scriptura is a doctrine that could only have come about from the invention of the printing press onward. Not to mention that for such a doctrine to be effectual, it requires 100% literacy in the world, (if someone reads scripture to me, I can’t trust it – I have to go to the source!) plus a distribution network so everyone can have a Bible.”

    That is a weak argument. It works both ways, jholder. How can I believe tradition because I wasn’t a firsthand witness of the events?

    BTW-my fiance thinks I’m not making myself clear, I apologize. I can clarify further if you would like.

  5. PadowanNiece, I like your hutzpah! Here are a few thoughts from an unworthy opponent, namely me (Constantine the Heterodox). The Reformers had a circular reasoning problem as to Sola Scriptura (their faithful progeny happily take it up still). They wanted their cake and to eat it too, to steal second base and keep their foot on first. It is painfully obvious that what we now call Scripture (esp. the NT canon), for good and bad, came out of the early Church communities and not v.v. The Bible is a but a part, albeit an important one, maybe the most important, of the greater Tradition. It is a “secondary document.” And yet, the Reformers used Scripture to “deconstruct” what had been given them in order to fit their needs. It’s akin to the tail wagging the dog or biting the hand that feeds you. It’s a highly developed form of hypocrisy (though I don’t blame them entirely!!). Here’s how G.K. Chesterton puts it.

    GKC speaking of the Reformation and other revolts against the Church (for him this meant exclusively Rome)…“the strangest story in the world; that men rushing in to wreck a temple, overturning the altar and driving out the priest, found there certain sacred volumes inscribed “Psalms” or “Gospels”; and (instead of throwing them on the fire with the rest) began to use them as infallible oracles rebuking all the other arrangements. If the sacred high altar was all wrong, why were the secondary sacred documents necessarily all right? If the priest had faked his Sacraments, why could he not have faked his Scriptures? Yet it was long before it even occurred to those who brandished this one piece of Church furniture to break up all the other Church furniture that anybody could be so profane as to examine this one fragment of furniture itself.”

    “Any man who joins the Church can save his soul by it without ever opening [the Holy Bible]” (G.K. Chesterton).

    PadowanNiece, I believe both of these GKC quotes are demonstrable in history and in the personal experience of many. My final thought is that Sola Scriptura is a bad idea all around, the absolute worst among the Sola slogans (I have reasons beyond just defending the Church/Tradition for saying this though).

    So Padre Neo. I find myself a bit surprised at you. Running from my “deconstructionist” question relative to the “Solas” of the Reformation. Via Media must run strong and deep in you. That’s a good thing, a very good thing. But as a parting punch in the nose (sorry, I can’t help myself) amongst friends as we prepare to discard the anathemas of the Council of Trent as irrelevant consider this quote:

    “It is perfectly true that we can find real wrongs, provoking rebellion, in the Roman Church just before the Reformation. What we cannot find is one of those real wrongs that the Reformation reformed” (G.K. Chesterton).

    Okay, enough GKC from me for a while. And by the way, which is it: Padowan or Padawan?

  6. It’s Padowan. Fr. Neo gets it wrong saying “Padawan”. Looks like I’ll have to prepare a very interesting comeback…stay tuned!

  7. Padawan Niece:
    You have said: “you must equally believe that the Trinity is paradoxical.”

    I believe Fr. Neo has already made the point I would have about this, and how, with scripture being a part of Tradition, there is no paradox – it is only when it is apart from Tradition that you have this problem. And many do deny the fullness of the Godhead who believe in sola scriptua – including Oneness Pentecostals, and those Fr. Neo mentioned among many others.

    I would like to ask you some questions:

    How does the doctrine of sola scriptura hold up when we measure it by its fruits? You know, I assume, that there are now over 5,000 (some sources say over 20,000) denominations, just in the U.S.A., espousing sola scriptura. But, for some reason, they can’t agree on what that scripture means — to the point where they all schism away from each other, ever creating more denominations.

    Additionally, do you, as a Protestant, really act like scripture is all sufficient? Why are so many books written on doctrine and the Chirstian life if you really follow ‘sola scriptura’? Why not only use Bibles? If the doctrine is true, why don’t Protestants all believe the same things?

    Further, I contend that every single group has tradition – but many go back a mere hundred years, or to the reformation. Some only a year or two. How does your church pick leaders? How do they decide what is ok in worship? even non-denominational churches have their version of tradition.

    “I believe you are mistaken as to the dates of NT writings. … The correct dates are 30-60 years after Christ’s resurrection”

    I’ll give you that one, I was approximating too widely. However, we do not really find a full set of NT writings completely distributed among the curches until, at best, 20-60 years later.

    “Those who faithfully transmitted the Scriptures that we now have in the canon were firsthand eyewitnesses, their disciples and so forth.”

    Yes, the first generation were eyewitnesses. But who after that until the canon was set in its fullness in the 300’s? How was it preserved faithfully? What did those faithful men and women do after this time? I contend it was through the Holy Tradition the Paul speaks of, ‘what was passed on in word’ in addition to what was written.

    Consider one example… the Monophysite Coptic Church includes many non-canonical books in the The Coptic New Testament (adopted by the Egyptian Church) — the two Epistles of Clement, the Sinodos (a collection of prayers and instructions supposedly written by Clement of Rome), the Octateuch (a book supposedly written by Peter to Clement of Rome), the Book of the Covenant (in two parts, the first details rules of church order, the second relates instructions from Jesus to the disciples given between the resurrection and the ascension), and the Didascalia (with more rules of church order, similar to the Apostolic Constitutions). The Copts left before the canon were fixed (as Nestorians), and left over a misunderstanding and refusal to accept the full understanding of the two natures of Christ, fully human and fully divine, in the one hypostatic union that is the person of Christ. As an aside, the Armenian church and the Syraic church have different canons as well, as they also left at the same time before the NT canon that the rest of the Orthodox and the west uses today.

    “Let me ask you a question…what if all we had right now in 2005 was tradition (oral, not written)and no Scripture at all? Would you still believe what you believe?”

    I might even have come to believe what I have come to believe sooner than I did.

    “You cannot have tradition without Scripture.”

    You cannot have Scripture without Tradition – I contend they are not separate, but that they are the same. I will grant that the holy scriptures are at the utmost pinnacle of the holy tradition, and you will find no one who believes in holy tradition debating that point. However, outside of the context of holy tradition, the scriptures are as mallable as clay – anyone can make them mean whatever they want (especially postmodernists and rationalists) , and indeed, we see more and more of that – from the ECUSA ‘consecrating’ a man who left his wife and children to live in sin with another man as a ‘bishop’, because ‘the scripture supports it’ (these revisionists have long convoluted arguments how this is so) to things like the Oneness Pentecostals baptizing only in the name of Jesus, and not in the name of ‘the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit’, to the Jehovah’s Witnesses (JW), and on and on and on.

    Without the authority derived from the Apostles through the Fathers, then there is nothing that can convince me that what you interpret the Scriptures to mean is any more right than what the JW tell me — and, indeed, as many long, convoluted arguments are used by conservative Protestants to reject parts of the faith that the early church utterly believed, such as the mystery of the wine and bread mystically becoming the actual body and blood of our Lord (John 6:25-70) as are used by the revisionists. And as soon as you appeal to the fathers and the historic faith for authority to be ‘more correct’ than the revisionists, BAM! You’re using the holy tradition of the Church to interpret the scriptures. (As it should be.)

    You quote me saying: “Further, sola scriptura is a doctrine that could only have come about from the invention of the printing press onward. Not to mention that for such a doctrine to be effectual, it requires 100% literacy in the world, (if someone reads scripture to me, I can’t trust it – I have to go to the source!) plus a distribution network so everyone can have a Bible.”

    And then add” “That is a weak argument. It works both ways, jholder. How can I believe tradition because I wasn’t a firsthand witness of the events?”

    I will conceed that authenticating who carries the tradition is where it becomes difficult. Although, since it involves the same people who brought us the scriptures, the very same process (involving the same people who have always transmitting the faith) is required to authenticate the scriptures. Otherwise, why not follow the path of Elaine Pagels and her ilk?

    Faith and submission to Christ’s Holy Church is what this concession has cost me — and believe me, it is hard to learn submission. But without the Church and her Holy Tradition, and the faith in the apostles and what they passed down to us through the fathers, I could not have retained any faith at all. But that is a discussion for another day.

    Constantine:
    Love the G.K. Chesterton quotes.

    regarding the term Padowan/Padawan:
    Google shows
    868 for padowan
    1,780,000 for padawan
    Here on the site StarWars.com (Lucas Online’s official site) we have reference to ‘padawan’, so I’ll go with the ‘Lucasites’.

  8. jholder remarked: “I will concede that authenticating who carries the tradition is where it becomes difficult.”

    Would you be willing to elaborate some on this particular concession?

  9. “Would you be willing to elaborate some on this particular concession?”

    This is the very Blue Pill / Red Pill decision – go down the rabbit hole, or remain in the Matrix. It’s an all or nothing kind of decision when it is made. For ultimately it rests on faith and trust.

    Perhaps ironically, the process of coming into this understanding of the faith once delivered is one where an individual must decide if the historic church is right, or if they are wrong.

    This is where things get interesting — I contend that once one is aware of this question and answer, one must decide: either the historic faith is right and the scriptures are right, or the historic faith is wrong, and the scriptures are just a book like a Qur’an or Upinishad or Tao Te Ching.

    So I ask, which pill will you take?

    “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and you believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland. And, I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

  10. Very, very cool post jholder with the Matrix blue/red pill image!! I noticed that it follows you regardless of the particular post you’re viewing (you must be in cahoots with Padre Neo on this one or have special access to his Blog). Are you Morpheus the Forerunner in this Blog schema? 🙂 God is like that. Always haunting you even when you don’t know it or want it for that matter (like St. Augustine says, “our hearts find no rest…”). The image, which is certainly apropos to the Blog, serves as a reminder of the choice that is ever present before us. It is a “choose you this day whom ye will serve” modern Icon if you will. Nice work. Awesome. It’s very arresting and subversive, even postmodern. I like it.

    Now, as to the content of your response I have a few observations. You said, “For ultimately it rests on faith and trust.” In large part I agree (I trust the Tradition “grid” more than other means though with some reservations and caution), but nonetheless doesn’t that measure of subjectivity give you pause??? It does for me. It begs the question, which particular nuance of faith and how do you “authenticate” it? You mentioned that you were Anglican in your past. Certainly a “hazy” bunch—it’s like walking around in the fog with them, but that is their special appeal, even gift (curse at times too). This tradition intuits the immensity of God and knows His work and presence can not be confined to one time and place. I know I’m simplyfying here, but I suspect you get my drift. The kind of subjectivity that you implied is important, in that I believe that God is working always and everywhere to restore his creation and children (I kind of sound like a liberal here with their “Logos” notion, huh?). In His time (an oxymoron I suppose) and way He will make everything right. It’s His nature. He’s a Daddy. Or so the Nazarene said. Your comment as to “faith and trust” also sounds very postmodern jholder, leaving it to the gods (subjectivity) so to speak. I thought you didn’t care for that worldview?

    As to “how deep the rabbit hole goes,” this is what I appreciate most about God’s method. Yes, the historic Church (and who holds this mantle today?) may indeed be at the root of this hole, BUT the “hole” in my estimation is very elaborate and byzantine (no pun intended here) and who knows how big. Who is a citizen of De Civitate Dei (read Zion here you Matrix folks)? That’s a tough question, and I believe one that can not be answered by a particular church membership. There are those, as I’m sure you are aware, that practice a more “historic” faith than many of the attendants of say Rome or Constantinople, even with their probable apostolic succession. The De Civitate Dei is invisible more than visible, and at various points on the path down the “rabbit hole,” who’s to say where a bloke may be at any given point. BUT, they remain in the “rabbit hole” nonetheless! Maybe the “rabbit hole” is Purgatory! Of course, my argument here is a double edged sword. When I think of the Fundamentalist Right and Left Behind ilk, I so very much want to say they are in an entirely different “rabbit hole!” But alas, that’s not for me to say, though I will keep a safe distance to be sure. Very safe!! The one thing that we can be certain of is that God is with all of us in the “rabbit hole,” even if hidden. Hell, he’s with us when we are in the Matrix too! How else could we ever be rescued! I don’t know what the outcome will be for everyone this side of Holy Saturday, but as Padre Neo quoted Lady Julian some time back, “All will be well” in the final analysis. I’m not making a case for the chaos that is Protestant Christianity (God forbid!), but saying that our journeys are very complex and varied. We all need to receive the blessing “Vaya con Dios” because we’re going to need it.

  11. Glad you like the post. I am Fr. Neo’s techie friend who helped to set up this blog and designed the blog template. I’ve been wanting to find that graphic for him. However, he has final creative say on everything. I just comment.

    I’ve been busy, sorry not to have responded. But you will have too wait a little longer for a reply. I was kind of hoping for PadowanNiece to post a reply…

    At any rate, I don’t think it begs the question — I haven’t had a chance to explain why though. I also don’t think it is hazy (If I was ok with hazy, I’d not be where I am) — and something tells me we don’t use the word ‘postmodern’ in the same way. While waiting for me to finish a real response, would you care to elaborate on what you mean by postmodern?

    Catch you later! Sorry to put a delay in the discussion.

  12. jholder,

    I’m not sure if you’ve viewed my replies to Fr. Neo’s “Why Padawan Niece is Bantha Pudu” (btw-I guess I was mistaken about “Padowan”. Padawan is correct, I see.) I do not deny that Tradition informs my view of Scripture. And I would not be surprised at all if there were more than 100,000 different denominations in the US (I work for a seminary on the East Coast and part of my job is to research denominations, there are more than I can count!) But specifically regarding the doctrine of sola scriptura, the reason for the number of denominations (as I’m sure you are aware already) is due to hermeneutics. I do not think it was Luther’s intent to break off from the Church, in fact he did everything he could to aviod it. But unfortunately, the current trend is to break off rather than agree to disagree on minor points. I do have a question for you, though, regarding Tradition in the same light. Does everyone who holds Tradition in as high of a place as you or Fr. Neo agree? I think not. Why criticize those who hold to sola scriptura and schism and not criticize those who hold to Tradition as equal or higher than Scripture and still schism? That is not fair. Like I said to Fr. Neo, holding Tradition in an equal or higher place than Scripture makes truth become relative and ever-changing. Tradition, from your standpoint, unless I’m mistaken on what you have said, will trump Scripture.

    You said: “Additionally, do you, as a Protestant, really act like scripture is all sufficient? Why are so many books written on doctrine and the Chirstian life if you really follow ‘sola scriptura’? Why not only use Bibles? If the doctrine is true, why don’t Protestants all believe the same things?”

    In response, the answer is yes. I do believe and try, with God’s help, to behave as though Scripture is all sufficient. I must say also, though, that although I am redeemed, I still sin, so as much as I would like to be ‘perfect’ in my following of Scripture, in this world it is not possible. “Why not use only Bibles?” Again, to some degree our reading of Scripture does need to be informed by Tradition, but this does not diminish the idea of sola scriptura. All Protestants do not believe the same things because of interpretation, as I said earlier.

    Also, I do agree with you regarding every single group has a tradition. But is each individual tradition per church informed and supported by Scripture first or the greater Tradition? I’m going to ask you what I asked Fr. Neo too, what “Tradition” are you talking about?!?! When did it begin and when did/does it end? There are no longer any “Ecumenical Councils”, so where do you draw the line?

    That’s all I have time for right now, so I’ll have to continue this discussion this evening or tomorrow. Sorry I don’t have a chance to reply more often. I hope you will not take it personally.

  13. My “hazy” comment was in reference to the Anglican tradition and their application of the “three-legged stool” methodology, not to mention their ever present intraChristian syncretism. You know, low and lazy, broad and hazy, and high and crazy. I happen to appreciate this approach.

    When I said “begs the question” I was drawing a distinction (rather poorly I admit) between what I gather from some of your posts you take to be the “historic” faith, namely Eastern Orthodoxy (EO), and everyone else; hence my comment, “which particular nuance of ‘faith’ and how do you ‘authenticate’ it?” The enormity of differences (I’m not speaking of diversity here), even schisms within the broader Church, are hard to miss by even the casual observer, and each “flavor” has its convinced apologists. If by “ultimately it rests on faith and trust” you meant something analogous to Lewis’ “mere Christianity” your comment makes sense to me, but if you meant your journey into E.O. I think it does indeed beg the question for everyone else, even those, myself included, who hold in high regard and esteem E.O. Consider how “faith” can be interpreted within our own house. Even if we reduce the Christian faith to three branches, which of course would be demonstrably ludicrous given the obvious, we find that the definition of “faith” becomes problematic. The classical Protestant churches of the Reformation have within their “tradition” a prevalent “sheep and goat” polarization. Luther said “sola fide” is “the article upon which the Church stands or falls,” and his junior partner so to speak, Calvin, reiterated latter that it (justification/sola fide) is the “main hinge on which religion turns.” By way of stark contrast, Rome began its counter (pun intended) with the Council of Trent and its attendant anathemas. This is why I asked Padre Neo a while back if the “solas” were akin to what he called liberal deconstructing. The whole intramural debate in the Latin West most probably confirmed to the E.O. in the know that their faith “once delivered” alone remained Apostolic. They have, as you know, no defined doctrine of justification to speak of, but rather Theosis as there center. Of course, the battlefields between Rome and E.O. are littered with carnage too. The 1054 Schism still stands practically speaking! This in spite of JP II attempts at uniting both “lungs” of the Church. He went so far as to extend the gesture to E.O. that he’d be willing to discuss the role of collegiality and the notion of primus inter pares (first among equals), but to no avail. Believe me, Benedict XVI ain’t going to entertain that question. Unless a monumental shift occurs he’ll maintain that he alone is the Vicar of Christ and alone holds the keys of Peter. The Russian Orthodox didn’t even want JP II coming around. So much for Christian charity and “by this all men will know that you are my disciples.” I would suggest that each group that maintains that their persuasion of “faith,” rigidly held with exclusive particularity, is the true faith, be it the rabid fundie or the Brown Scapular wearing Roman Catholic, et al, needs to answer the question as to “why their particular nuance of “faith” and more importantly how do you ‘authenticate’ it.”

    By postmodern (pm) I was speaking of the smorgasbord of options before us and the subjective nature of many of our choices. Not only the broadly religious options from Druidism to Islam, but even within Christendom. That’s why I spoke to the issue of “which particular nuance of faith and how do you ‘authenticate’ it.” There is a simultaneous blessing and curse associated with pm. After the exaggerated and pervasive rationalism of the Enlightenment had its way with the culture at large, the twentieth century showed us how “sh** still happens,” so people are now more open to the realm of the spiritual but yet again. Our contemporary culture understands there’s more to our life than just a vapid scientism. That’s good. Of course, the various loons out there constitute the curse. And surprisingly, the loons are in our own camp, broadly speaking, on both the conservation and liberal side.

    Hope this helps to clarify.

  14. PN,

    You misunderstand what we mean by ‘Tradition.’ Think, as St. Vincent said, “That which is believed at all times and in all places.” Your comments (Truth is relative if we use tradition over Scripture!?) presuppose that Tradition is somehow “in flux,” which would negate what we’re getting at all together. Also, you said that we need some degree of Tradition to interpret Scripture–guess what? You just negated the “sola” in “Sola Scripture.”

  15. Fr. Neo,

    I don’t agree with you that I negated the “sola” in Sola Scriptura. You said I misunderstand what you mean by Tradition. Hmmm…I think we are talking past each other.

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