A Lamp unto my Feet

The Holy Scriptures are of great importance to all of the faithful in Christendom, but are perhaps especially valued within the ranks of Protestant Evangelicals who hold to what is called Sola Scriptura, which means “Scripture alone”.

This is a doctrine which was forged in the fires of the Reformation.  But is the modern conception of sola scriptura consistent with what the Reformers themselves were fighting for?

Understand that the intention of the Reformers was not a break from Rome, but rather a return to what they saw in the early Church.  They felt as though Rome had departed from the catholic faith in several key areas and they wanted to bring her back.  At least, that’s the way things began.

Sola Scriptura.  What does it mean?

Influential evangelical site gotquestions.org, explains: “Traditions are valid only when they are based on Scripture and are in full agreement with Scripture. Traditions that contradict the Bible are not of God and are not a valid aspect of the Christian faith.”

This doctrine then, is to be seen as a safeguard for orthodox belief and practice.

What could be wrong with that?  Nothing that I can see.  And, if I’m reading the Reformers correctly, this is exactly their intention.  The Scriptures are to be honored as the word of God himself.  Any belief or practice that is not firmly supported by the Scriptures, beneficial as it might be, cannot by any means be thought of as essential to the Christian faith.  The Bible contains “all things necessary to salvation”.  And anything which contradicts the Scriptures ought to be hastily discarded.

The dialogue continues:  “Sola scriptura is the only way to avoid subjectivity and keep personal opinion from taking priority over the teachings of the Bible.”

At first glance there are very few problems, if any, with such a statement.  Who doesn’t want to read the Scriptures objectively?  Of course!  We all do.  We all want to know exactly what the Bible teaches and to structure our lives accordingly.  We are all genuine in our expression of the faith and in our desire to adhere to the teachings of Holy Scripture.

The problem with the above statement is that it assumes that “the teachings of the Bible” are somehow self-evident.  That anyone in any context should be able to pick up a copy of the Bible and discern its objective truth; and that all who truly put themselves to this task – laying down their own subjectivity and submitting themselves to the Scriptures – will find themselves in full agreement.  After all, if you disagree, it’s not me you disagree with, it is the word of God himself!

How has that been working out for us?

There are over 30 000 denominations of Christians who all agree that “Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian” and who all disagree on what it is exactly that the Scriptures are saying.

Let that sink in for a moment.

There are over 30 000 denominations of Christians who all agree on “Scripture alone” and who all disagree in their interpretations of Scripture.

Obviously, sola scriptura has not done away with subjectivity as claimed.  In fact, it would seem to be quite the opposite.  Historian Brad S. Gregory, in a book titled “The Unintended Reformation” states “Protestant pluralism derived directly from the Reformation’s foundational truth claim.  The assertion that scripture alone was a self-sufficient basis for Christian faith and life . . . produced not even rough agreement, but an open-ended welter of competing and incompatible interpretations.”

This problem has not gone away.  There seems to be almost as many interpretations of the Bible as there are Christians; and in our post-enlightenment individualistic mindset, we all feel justified in firmly planting our feet and dogmatically insisting that our interpretations are the right ones.

Schism

Sch  ism

S  c  h  i  s  m

I do not believe that this is Christ’s intention for his Church.  Nor do I believe that this is what the Reformers themselves initially intended or envisioned.  This rather seems to me to be a vile distortion of one of God’s most precious gifts to his People.  How is it that we feel so free as to wield God’s holy word like a weapon against our own brothers?  How is it that in our zeal for the Scriptures we forget the most basic commandments that they contain?

We are not enemies.

Part of being convergent is being unapologetically evangelical, and as such I whole heartedly affirm the centrality of the Scriptures for Christian life and doctrine.  However, the modern practice of divorcing the apostolic message (Scripture) from the apostolic community (Church) is unbiblical and unorthodox.  The Scriptures do not stand in isolation.  They do not interpret themselves.  Theology is not an independent endeavor.

One of my favourite subjects is the Arian controversy.  I tend to consider things in very black and white terms, so it came as a bit of a surprise to me to discover that Arius himself was actually genuine.  For whatever reason, I just assumed that he knew he was wrong and was fighting against the Church out of …I don’t know, spite or something?  The reality is, Arius was actually convinced of his position!  And no less true, is the fact that he arrived at his position by way of the Scriptures.  Arius and Athanasius, (the two principle combatants) were both using the Scriptures to support their wildly divergent views about the nature of God.

Why, at the end of the day, did Athanasius emerge victorious?  Principally, it was because he not only supported his position with Scripture, but because he could demonstrate that his position was in harmony with the Apostles and the early Church and Arius’ was not.  His interpretation of the Scriptures was not only his interpretation, it was the Church’s interpretation.  The Church’s understanding of God has always been Triune, whether or not it has been articulated in those terms.  Father, Son, Spirit.  Three co-equal and co-eternal persons in one being.  Arius’ denigration of the Son, though a biblically tenable position if one were to take the Scriptures in isolation, was found to be heretical and the orthodox understanding of the Trinity was preserved.

If we desire, as Jesus desires for us, to be one even as he and the Father are one (John 17:21), we should know that much sacrifice will be required of us.  We will need to learn how to listen to one another again.  We will need to learn how to really learn from one another.  We will need to value our brothers more than we value being right.  We will need to, at times, lay down our own interpretations of the Scriptures where they are found to be subjective and to submit to our fathers and leaders; to receive the inheritance that is “The Great Tradition” from where the Scriptures themselves originate.  Without the Church, there is no New Testament, there is no canon of Scripture, the gospel itself is inaccessible.  The Scriptures are a gift from God to his One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church.

The word of God is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Psalm 119:105).  If we could stop arguing about who gets to hold the lantern, perhaps the Lord would be gracious enough to allow us to finally take a few more steps down the path of our corporate sanctification and towards his triumphant return.

 

 

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  1. “Scriptures do not stand in isolation.”

    This is where your argument falls down. You start by stating that scripture is given to us and we cling to it, but use differences in perspective between believers to suggest that scripture is not, actually, enough. You suggest there is no absolute truth in matters not pertaining to personal liberty?

    Yet, the Word of God says that “all scripture is God-breathed and useful for…so that the man of God may be perfect, THOROUGHLY furnished unto all good works.”

    1 Timothy 3:16, 17

    Therefore, scripture either IS sufficient, or it is insufficient.

    You say: “They (scriptures) do not interpret themselves.”

    Do you not then believe that the Holy Spirit is our Helper? Guiding us into all truth? Or do you suppose that the Holy Spirit does not, in fact, belong to all believers, but only certain privileged persons? I don’t see that reflected in God’s Word. I see this:

    “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.” John 16:13

    In Acts 2:38, we see that all who believed abs repented received the Holy Spirit. Not just the apostles, or just the leadership.

    Christians are warned repeatedly to beware wolves amidst the flock, who would ravage them, false teachers who would lead people out of the care of the Good Shepherd, to follow after themselves, in order to accomplish selfish ambitions.

    When the Word of God is the standard, those issues that are not matters of liberty are clear, and those issues that are matters of liberty in Christ, are to be judged by God alone.

    Divisiveness, schism, in the sinful sense, is a by-product of separating oneself or others FROM the truth, not of leaving error to follow after or return to truth.

    Would you agree that believers should put the Word of God above teachings of man? I can provide various passages wherein Paul gave blessing to rejecting error for the sake of doctrinal purity.

    The Roman Catholic Church, for example, as we know it today, with its unbiblical hierarchies, Papacy, false doctrines, blasphemy, idol worship and greed, is not an organization that Paul would recognize. And he most certainly would not encourage in any way, true believers to join hands with idolatry.

    To suggest that God prioritizes peace over truth contradicts the truth He spoke “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

    Matthew 10:34

    Peace amongst believers is good. But believers who are truly following God will not make peace with lies. You would agree? In fact, Paul commanded the early, true church: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which YOU LEARNED, and avoid them.” Romans 16:17

    It’s clear that Paul would encourage avoidance, separation, schism, where there is false doctrine.

    The duplicity in this post is saddening. It subtly implies that the Word of God cannot actually accomplish what God set it out to do. Christ said His followers should not live “by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

    Matthew 4:4

    Only scripture can make the claim to be the actual Word of God. Men exhort and exposit and encourage, but always, their doctrines must line up with the Bible or be labeled false.

    Early church fathers do not possess the authority to write scripture for the ages, only to lead their own flocks according to the previously established Word of God.

    If a believer lived by the Word of God daily, it would be enough. We have the Holy Spirit to help us, and though leaders are a blessing God uses to teach through, their authority, Biblically, ends hastily when they contradict what God has said. In fact, we are to mark, and avoid them.

    Don’t take my word on any of this – “test all things, hold fast what is good” for yourselves.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21

    You suggest that one must lay down their adherence to the Word of God in the event that a leader decides they should – and I say, this is the advice of those who would demand believers not stand for truth. Why is that important to you?

    Praise be to God, and Amen. So glad He didn’t leave us vulnerable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello again Robin.

      You start by stating that scripture is given to us and we cling to it, but use differences in perspective between believers to suggest that scripture is not, actually, enough.

      I don’t think that’s a very good summary of what I was saying at all. Scripture is given to us, and we cling to it. I’m with you on that. However, I would disagree that the differences in perspectives of believers is an indication that the Scriptures are not enough. The Scriptures are enough. The problem here is with us, not with the Scriptures.

      You suggest there is no absolute truth in matters not pertaining to personal liberty?

      No, I don’t think I do. Rather that there is absolute truth that transcends our personal opinions and interpretations.

      Yet, the Word of God says that “all scripture is God-breathed and useful for…so that the man of God may be perfect, THOROUGHLY furnished unto all good works.”

      I’m aware of the passage and agree with it entirely. Thank you.

      Do you not then believe that the Holy Spirit is our Helper?

      Yes, I do believe that. Why do you assume that I don’t?

      Or do you suppose that the Holy Spirit does not, in fact, belong to all believers, but only certain privileged persons?

      I do not suppose that at all. In fact I adamantly disagree with such a statement.

      Christians are warned repeatedly to beware wolves amidst the flock, who would ravage them, false teachers who would lead people out of the care of the Good Shepherd, to follow after themselves, in order to accomplish selfish ambitions.

      Yes they are. I don’t believe I suggested otherwise, but if I did it wasn’t intentional.

      When the Word of God is the standard, those issues that are not matters of liberty are clear, and those issues that are matters of liberty in Christ, are to be judged by God alone.

      Are they clear though?

      If they’re so clear, why is there so much disagreement? Why, for 500 years, has this kind of thinking only led us into more and more schism and an ever increasing number of completely incompatible interpretations of the holy Scriptures on every conceivable issue?

      Would you agree that believers should put the Word of God above teachings of man?

      Yes, I would.

      The Roman Catholic Church . . . is not an organization that Paul would recognize.

      The Roman Catholic Church disagrees with you. Now what?

      They genuinely believe that what they teach is in harmony with what Paul taught. Why should I believe you over them? What makes your opinions more valid than theirs? They use the Scriptures to support their opinions, and you use the Scriptures to support your opinions. What makes your interpretations of Scripture more valid than theirs?

      To suggest that God prioritizes peace over truth contradicts the truth He spoke “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

      I didn’t say that God prioritizes peace over truth.

      “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, CONTRARY TO THE DOCTRINE which YOU LEARNED, and avoid them.” Romans 16:17

      Well this is fun.

      Let’s try that same verse without the caps lock: “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” In other words… those who are causing division are acting contrary to the doctrines which have been established and should be avoided.

      Check as many commentaries as you like. That passage is about avoiding division.

      Verse 18 continues – “Such persons – [the ones causing division] – do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites.”

      This seems to be exactly what I’ve been trying to communicate throughout this post. Individuals have elevated themselves and their own interpretations of the Scriptures above the Gospel. Thank you for bringing up such a relevant passage.

      It’s clear that Paul would encourage avoidance, separation, schism, where there is false doctrine.

      I agree. I’m not suggesting an adherence to false doctrine.

      What I am suggesting is that, contrary to what Western culture teaches, I as an individual am not the final arbiter on truth. I, as an individual, am ill equipped to arrive at the correct understanding of the Scriptures on my own. I need help. I need help from the Holy Spirit as I daily pour over the Scriptures and try my best to discern their meaning. And I need help from the Body of Christ. I am but one member of a very large body of believers. My own perspectives and biases as I read the Scriptures are unavoidable and need to be balanced by others if we are to arrive at the intended meaning of the Scriptures.

      It subtly implies that the Word of God cannot actually accomplish what God set it out to do.

      I’m not sure where you’re getting that, but I did not mean to imply that at all, subtly or otherwise.

      Only scripture can make the claim to be the actual Word of God.

      You must have written this up hastily, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you mean that Jesus is the Word of God. (John 1:1). The Scriptures point us to Jesus, they are not an end in and of themselves. The word of God (Bible) leads us to the Word of God (Jesus).

      You can correct me if I have misunderstood you and would prefer I take your above statement at face value.

      Men exhort and exposit and encourage, but always, their doctrines must line up with the Bible or be labeled false.

      Yes, I agree wholeheartedly and I said as much throughout the post. The difficulty is in who decides if their teachings line up with the Bible or not. Is it you, Robin? I’m certainly getting the impression from you that you feel that to be the case; but I don’t think that you would actually believe that. I’m sure you’re aware that your interpretations of Scripture are no more objective than mine, or Luther’s or Calvin’s, or Spurgeon’s, or anyone else’s. We each know in part and see in part. No one individual is qualified to determine objective truth. We need one another.

      And so we rely on the Tradition of our fathers – the creeds and councils of Church history – and when confronted with modern day Arians we can confidently say, “Your interpretations of Scripture are in error.” Not because I say so, but because the Church says so. Without that, it’s just a yelling match. Everyone is genuinely convinced of their position. Everyone desires fidelity to the Scriptures and feels that they have arrived at their position by way of the Scriptures. And yet, we all arrive at different and incompatible conclusions about what the Scriptures are saying. Sola scriptura offers no solutions to this dilemma.

      Early church fathers do not possess the authority to write scripture for the ages

      I never said that they did, and in fact I have already previously corrected you on this when you insisted that I elevated the teachings of the Church fathers to be on par with that of Scripture.

      You suggest that one must lay down their adherence to the Word of God

      I do not suggest that at all.

      What church do you go to Robin? I’ve offered before, but in case you’ve forgotten; I’d be happy to get together with you and your pastor to discuss any questions that you have about me.

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      • Well shoot that was a lot to take in. I myself am curious about the Catholic Church because I do not understand it in many ways. Certain teachings are very similar to that of my own doctrine, (Southern Baptist) yet there are a lot of things that I’ve heard about the Catholic Church that do not uphold biblical truths from my understanding of it. From what I’ve learned from my good Catholic friend (Who by the way, I believe to be my brother in Christ. I don’t view our difference in worship as a divide in faith.) there are a few traditions and beliefs that are not backed by scripture, but rather seem to be implied by the Catholic Church. Now he himself is young (15), but raised Catholic this is how he understands it. He told me that Mary is without sin? Asking me if I believed in the Holy family, what I don’t understand is where does this concept of “Holy family” come from? Mary without sin? Show me where that is written, because I can point out scripture that says all have sinned, but nowhere does it say all but Mary. The concept of praying to saints and Mary to pray not on your behalf I’ve learned, but rather simply praying for you as a brother or sister here on Earth would, seems…bizarre. I don’t see the purpose in it, why not simply pray directly to the Father asking for guidance? There is no need to go through others to speak to God. One other question that I’m going to ask today at least. Why does the Catholic Church refer to their pastors as father? Matthew 23:8-12 “But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers.c And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (ESV)

        I do not mean to appear to be attacking your faith in any way, I do however, agree with much of what Robin had to say. Although, I do see your point of view and I try my best to understand where you are coming from, there is simply too much in question that the Catholic church teach to be proper worship. I am all for uniting as one body though! That point, from what I’ve gathered is the main point you’re attempting to make. Now it’s clear that we all understand that no matter what denomination you are we, we are all members of the Body of Christ. Furthering his Kingdom is our mutual goal, understanding the scripture on our own accord is our demise. I see that’s what you were saying when you mentioned that with individual understanding you simply could not comprehend it. One person cannot say “I understand it as this and it’s absolute truth.” I see your point here and am in full agreement, but I don’t agree with your response to Robin. Concerning those who teach false doctrine and cause divisions. Is it right to claim that all other denominations have taught false doctrine because they are not in full agreement with the Catholic Church? I don’t agree with the Southern Baptist doctrine to the T, yet I wouldn’t say that what our doctrine teaches would lead anyone astray from God, quite the opposite! Now, are there some doctrine that are so incorrect that it’s no longer teaching and showing others the way to the Father? Yes, Jehovah Witness is a prime example, not a part of the church but rather a cult is what they are. They misinterpret scripture so badly that they believe only 144,000 people will be saved and for that reason must do more for God than everyone else. That’s why they do door to door ministry so often.

        In the end, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, striving to learn from one another. To study and further our understanding of the scripture (Thus, learning more of our Father in Heaven) by means of group study and prayer. You read my recent post, like I said in my blog, even though there are divisions in our faith, we all strive for the same outcome. I’m interested in furthering this discussion, for I have much to say, but I’ve I’ve said enough as it is. May God bless you and may our understanding of Him increase!

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      • Hi. Thanks for your comments.

        I think a lot of the impressions that you have may be significantly altered with the knowledge that I’m not Roman Catholic. Here is a post explaining what we mean by ‘convergence’ that might help you to make sense of who we are.

        Since I’m not Roman Catholic, I hope it’s alright that I skip over the questions that are addressed to distinctly Roman Catholic teachings.

        Why does the Catholic Church refer to their pastors as father? Matthew 23:8-12

        Jesus says, (vs 9), “call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” Now, what does he mean by that? Do you think it’s acceptable for a child to refer to their father as ‘father’? Is ‘dad’ ok? That seems to be splitting hairs, (particularly since the original language isn’t English). In the verse prior, Jesus says not to call anyone ‘teacher’. Do you think that it’s unacceptable for students in a classroom to call their instructors ‘teacher’? Is it wrong to refer to a pastor as a great ‘teacher’? I don’t think it is, but if you have a problem with priests being called ‘father’ I think you have to have a similar problem with the word ‘teacher’. Do you?

        I think to forbid the use of the word ‘father’ altogether would cause us to lose sight of the Fatherhood of God. It is our familiarity with the concept of fathering that gives the revelation of God as Father its profound meaning. What we need to ask then, is which usages of the word father are acceptable, and which aren’t?

        I think you probably agree with me that usage in a biological way is acceptable so I won’t elaborate there. But what about in a spiritual way? I’m sure you’ve read the term ‘our father Abraham’ many times in the Scriptures. Abraham is rightly referred to as the father of the nation of Israel, and the father of the faith and there doesn’t seem to be any objections to that. As I alluded to before, earthly shadows cause us greater depths of understanding in regards to our heavenly realities. In other words, we can learn about the great Fatherhood of God by looking at the fatherhood of Abraham.

        For a New Testament example, in John’s epistles he is continually addressing those he is writing as ‘children’, which firmly places him in a fathering role. And if you want something even more explicit, turn to Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:14-15 – “I do not write this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Surely Paul was aware of Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 23!

        I guess what I’m saying is that the concept of spiritual fatherhood is pretty common in the Scriptures, and the Apostles themselves even adopt these same terms when addressing their congregations. When Catholics (and others) refer to their pastors as ‘father’, they are doing so in recognition of the greater Fatherhood of God. Our pastors are shadows of the heavenly reality, and quite often it is through them that God shows us his fatherly nature.

        So, what was Jesus condemning in Matthew 23? These verses come in the midst of a section denouncing the pride and arrogance of the scribes and Pharisees. Rather than humbly looking to God as the source of fatherhood, teaching, and authority they exalted themselves as the highest authorities, the ultimate teachers and primary father figures. They were seeking titles without giving recognition to the ultimate Fatherhood of God. They wanted to be called ‘father’ but were not reflecting the Father’s heart or leading people to the Father. The primary problem here isn’t the title ‘father’, it’s the idolatry of human teachers.

        I am all for uniting as one body though! That point, from what I’ve gathered is the main point you’re attempting to make.

        Indeed, it is. I’m glad that’s coming through clearly!

        Is it right to claim that all other denominations have taught false doctrine because they are not in full agreement with the Catholic Church?

        I know I already clarified that I’m not Roman Catholic; I’m just having trouble understanding where you think I claimed this? My intention in this post was to point out that we (as Protestants) have been trying sola scriptura for 500 years and we are not one wit closer to any kind of agreement on what the Scriptures are saying. It seems like it’s high time to try something else. What I suggest is not wholesale adoption of Roman Catholic doctrines but submission to the way the early Church understood the Scriptures and the teachings of Jesus. Whatever denomination you are from, we all affirm the doctrine of the Trinity – yet that doctrine wasn’t formally articulated until the Council of Nicea. What else do we hold in common from this period of the undivided Church? If we submit ourselves to these teachers instead of elevating ourselves as the highest authorities of truth, is it possible that we can learn from them? That we can find ourselves in higher levels of unity with one another? What did the immediate successors of the Apostles understand the Scriptures to be saying – and why do I feel like I have a right to disagree with them? Is that feeling originating in the gospel or in my culture?

        Are there some doctrine that are so incorrect that it’s no longer teaching and showing others the way to the Father?

        I agree, there are points of doctrine that are essential (ex. the Trinity and the Incarnation), and points on which diversity can be allowed (ex. whether a church leader is called ‘pastor’ or ‘father’; or whether one ought to communicate with the departed saints). Where a church deviates on essential doctrines (such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses), they can no longer rightly be considered a Christian body, as they are actively denying established Christian doctrines.

        May God bless you and may our understanding of Him increase!

        Amen, may his blessing be upon you as well. Thank you for your prayers!

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  2. Are you for healing divisions in the Body of Christ or within the Catholic church alone?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am for healing divisions across the entirety of the Body of Christ. From 1 Corinthians 12 I am convinced that there is no member of the Body which can say to any other member “I have no need of you”; and that as long as there is division, the whole Body suffers.

      The word ‘catholic’ means ‘all encompassing’. So, when I speak of the “One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church” (taken from the Nicene Creed), I am not limiting that to the Roman Church; but rather applying it to the whole Body.

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  3. This is good stuff, though it leads many of us into traditionally uncomfortable territory. I can’t deny the fact, however, that I have learned so very much from Christians outside of my normal circle. My appreciation of the body of Christ and its efficacy has grown tremendously in the past two years. I think some of us (perhaps like a previous poster or two) will “knee-jerk” almost unconsciously at some statements, but that’s where grace abounds in responding with love and understanding, recognizing that this tendency lies within all of us… Hmm, just as you were saying in the original post.

    I believe the Holy Spirit teaches me through the scripture, through his body, and through communication directly with my Father. (I believe that if I did not have access to the written word, I would still have possession of the living Word, and thus would not be left hopeless.) All three God is pleased to provide according to his Trinitarian nature, and leaving any one of them aside would be a rejection of God’s provision.

    Grace and peace, brother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey, thanks for the encouragement!

      The Lord in his grace has taken me on a wonderful journey through “traditionally uncomfortable territory” over the last number of years. As difficult as it has been I’m so grateful for it and it’s a joy to encounter others at various stages on a similar journey – both those that are miles ahead and those, like myself, who are just a few steps in.

      That God does not leave us without hope is a valuable and powerful truth. His grace is always sufficient, his love unstoppable. Thank you!

      Grace and peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for your response, I have one more question and a few comments. I’ll clear up the question of false doctrines that I presented you with. After looking at it again I mistook you to be calling out entire doctrines when you were only stating that you disagree with those who attack current doctrine and try to cause division within the church. My question is, what type of catholic are you then? What’s the difference in yours and Roman catholic? I’m simply curious, I love learning about other doctrines to have a deeper understanding of how the worship and believe and why.
    My first comment I want to make is that I am glad to see that you were able to back your reasoning for calling priest fathers with biblical truths. I see why you call them father now and don’t have any reason to argue that. In my own personal conviction however, I feel that by calling your pastor father you do place them at a high pedestal. Now I understand that teachers are indeed held at a higher accountability, yet I feel the term father just has this connotation as being holier. Again, that’s my own conviction. Most in our church simply call each other brother so-and-so. All on the same level in a way, pastor Dave is commonly called brother Dave and deacons are called brother it’s just how I was raised. I feel that we are in agreement with much though, such as this, it is a petty disagreement among the churches, yet it is what can cause a divide.
    I am curios to know what your doctrine teaches and I hope you are just as curious to learn mine. Theology is a topic I can discuss for hours, learning how others interpret the scriptures can help us grow with understanding. I am young in age and though a Christian since 12 my knowledge in spiritual terms is growing rapidly in recent times, I’ve come to realize that God has gifted me with the gifts of Discernment and wisdom each playing a role into the other. That is probably why I love theology.

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    • Thanks for your comments, and for your gracious tone in writing.

      The word catholic means “all encompassing”, so in a sense I think it’s accurate to say that all Christians are catholic Christians – in that they all belong to the “One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church” (Nicene Creed). The movement that I am a part of (Via Apostolica – Latin for The Way of the Apostles) has a vision to unite the Church; in particular by bringing together what we see as the three major expressions of Christianity: Evangelical, Charismatic, and Historic. If you can envision combining a Eucharistic liturgical service (Historic) with strong biblical preaching and evangelistic efforts (Evangelical) along with musical worship and the exercise of the spiritual gifts (Charismatic), then you might get an idea of what that practically looks like for us on a day to day basis.

      I appreciate your willingness to hear my point of view regarding whether or not priests should be called ‘father’. I can also respect your perspective and your reluctance to engage in that practice, particularly if you feel that the word father has ‘holier than thou’ type connotations.

      If I could just add one thought… as someone who is occasionally in a place of authority – my preference is generally to be as informal as possible (either ‘brother’ or Amos or ‘hey you!’). However, when I regard those whose authority I am under, though I am often just as informal with them, I find that it’s also good for me at times to address them in a more formal way – (maybe ‘father’ or ‘sir’ or ‘pastor’). The reason for that is that it helps me to recognize, respect and honour the call that God has placed on their life. Additionally, I feel like if I am always informal and always reinforcing the idea that we’re ‘on the same level’ – it has this subtle, unintended side effect of exalting myself, which is the polar opposite of Christ like behaviour! Now, you might not need as many reminders in that area as I do, but I still think it’s a healthy practice. So, if you have an objection to the word father, I guess I would just encourage you to find another word to use (on occasion) that would honour the call that God has placed on your leaders and be able to express your willing servitude and submission, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

      In any case, I agree that this is a non-essential issue and not one that should be made a cause of division, whatever your particular convictions on it.

      I’m glad that the Lord has given you gifts of discernment and wisdom, and glad too that you desire to use those gifts in his service and for his glory. Thank you, and may the Lord bless you on your journey!

      Grace and peace.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Our corporate sanctification…

    We can’t get away from the fact that our Father wants us to be one. Or that he desires a church whose members would depend profoundly upon one another, and upon him. We depend on the writers of scripture, and the men who met to canonize our New Testament; we need one another today and across time, those who fought to establish orthodoxy, and those who seek to understand and uphold it. So complex and intricate.
    Thanks for this post, Amos! Getting at the heart of so many of our schisms.

    Liked by 1 person

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