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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Would you think it wise?

Suppose that the President of the United States decided that the fact that all Christians do not agree on the means, method and meaning of Baptism were the primary cause for the lack of solidarity in support of his policies. Would you think it wise for him to invite all the Pastors in the world to a conference for the purpose of resolving this and a few other denominational differences? Now suppose that only 18% of all Pastors in the world attend the conference and that after much negotiation these men are able to reach a formal agreement on these differences including the means, method and meaning of baptism. Would you think it wise to consider this an action of the Church? Now suppose the President were to enact legislation that required that all Christians in the United States must teach that the means, method and meaning of baptism is as stated in this agreement and that to do otherwise would be considered an action against the state punishable by law. Would you really think that wise?

In 325 A.D. approximately 18% of all Christian Bishops in the world responded to an invitation from the Roman Emperor to assemble with the primary intent of resolving the differences in the perception of God within Christianity because the Emperor considered the controversy arising from these differences detrimental to his empire. The rest, as they say, is history.

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16 Comments:

Blogger dorsey said...

Holy questioned authority, Batman! You had better take a couple steps back when you light that fuse. hehe.

That's a pretty keen perspective, my friend. Hmm... would you consider the politics surrounding the canon (i.e. the councils at Carthage, the Synod o Hippo) to be related to this issue, or is that another post?

Nevertheless, my answer to your question is a resounding no, I wouldn't think it wise. There are enough people who already seem to think your scenario is the current state of affairs under President Bush.

10/16/2007 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I know my position is easily perceived as being rebellious but, given my position, you can’t help but see the great irony in that. Where these 18% presumed the authority that rightly belongs to the Church in Christ and were then empowered by the state, I strive to, and strongly urge that we all should, subject ourselves to Christ and rely solely on the power of God. I just can’t help but see this event as being parallel to the action of the Israelites in demanding a king.

I really don’t credit the canon to any council. The controversies concerning the scripture persist even to this day.

BTW do you know that the best reading on my blog is often found in your comments? ;-)

10/17/2007 04:04:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Kc,

I am afraid I will have to disagree with the analogy here on several points. As well as this particular view of church history.

First, as dorsey said, Bush and the people would not mesh. =)

Second, tell me where were the other 82%? If they decided that their voice was not important enough to be heard, maybe the 18% had the right to decide what was orthodox. (And I am holding the figure to be accurate until I do a little snooping around myself).

Third, I am against the State-Religion marriage as much as anyone else, but something had to be done with all the heresy being propagated. Arians and Nestorians for example.

Fourth, I am leery about going against church councils. They are not inspired but they did a lot of our grunt work in explaining and defending the faith. We do have the right to call them into question, but we do it cautiously.

Now as far as infant baptism goes, Constantine himself was never baptised until he lay dying. I am in favor of dunking believers, but I am not going to throw out entire church councils just because I do not like one or two of things they said.

Side note: (Oddly, being in favor of church councils as guides does not obligate me to become deterministic. It may make me a bad Baptist, but it also makes a poor Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, and Presbyterian (I am not say any of these denominations are deterministic) to throw them out completely.)

I should have more to say on this later.

Overall, I think I see your point. Let Scripture tell us what to do not political state-run politicians (in this case Contantine). And on that I would agree, but just on the surface. However, I agree fully in principle. I'll have to explain that more clearly later.

10/19/2007 05:51:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech I am surprised and thrilled you would take the opposition on this one. ;-)

First let me clarify. I am not opposed to Church councils. I am opposed to their use and findings as political instruments. I would also oppose any council that would require an agreement in theology prerequisite to or for fellowship.

Now to your points…

“First, as dorsey said, Bush and the people would not mesh. =)” Could you elaborate on this?

“Second, tell me where were the other 82%? If they decided that their voice was not important enough to be heard, maybe the 18% had the right to decide what was orthodox. (And I am holding the figure to be accurate until I do a little snooping around myself).”

I could not say where they were and we could each speculate on why they chose not to attend but I don’t think that either of us could offer proof for a majority reason. As to the question of the right to determine orthodoxy I would say that right belongs to God alone and that what is orthodox is contained in the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. I find no other authority to establish orthodoxy beyond this. That would mean I consider that any theology cannot be considered as orthodoxy no matter how true it may be. The teachings of Christ and the Apostles are divine or of divine origin. Theology is of men. Me thinks perhaps theology only serves to glorify men.


As for the total number of Bishops I will await the results of your snooping. ;-)

“Third, I am against the State-Religion marriage as much as anyone else, but something had to be done with all the heresy being propagated. Arians and Nestorians for example.”

The actions of this council failed miserably to accomplish their intended goal and the Arian controversy continued within the Church majority long after Arius who himself was fully restored unrepentant. The theological dilemma caused by this philosophical debate can not be resolved without some understanding of the Hypostatic Union which itself is consequential to the debates which eventually ensued in the Church but were disallowed under the terms of this council. I understand the Nestorian controversy, though similar in scope, did not arise until much latter. Given my understanding of orthodoxy these controversies are over good and bad theology and do not deserve to fall into heretical or non-heretical categories. I consider heresy to be the teaching of any doctrine that disavows the teaching of Christ or the Apostles.

I think it should be noted that the Synods of Antioch never resulted with the Church persecuting itself.

“Fourth, I am leery about going against church councils. They are not inspired but they did a lot of our grunt work in explaining and defending the faith. We do have the right to call them into question, but we do it cautiously.”

I hope my previous comments have clarified my position on this. I have great difficulty in considering this council as ecumenical due to its origin and the lack of attendance. I would caution against accepting that Roman councils constitute all Church councils or that Roman history is all Church history.

I really do appreciate you taking the time to discuss this here and I am anxious to learn more from you. ;-)

10/19/2007 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Hey!!

It would be boring to not have surprises. =)

Nonetheless, in the big picture we agree (that is Sola Scritura as the basis for faith and practice). Well, at least we would agree that the revealed word of God should be the basis of all faith and practice. =)

But I am arguing for at least an investigation (which we are both doing) into the minds of the Early Church. Unfortunately after Constantine, things get extremely messy.

At this point, I am willing to concede all...if a raincheck can be given. I am working on this already and am just up to the 200's. So I have about another 200 years to go and it is like wading through mud (both because of time and content).

So I won't have to come back to the First point, I'll deal with it now.

If Bush were to call this meeting, and 18% of all American clergy showed up and some decisions were made that were forced to be put into place, I would have to say that he would be in violation of the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold. He would be quickly impeached and the laws rendered null and void. Constantine did not have check and balances to keep the State and Church separate. Already Bush is extremely unpopular and anything he says in the realm of religion will be misconstrued. Constantine was the emperor. There was no choice. If he wanted to make green rabits the state god and create a carrot gospel for everyone to eat, then that would have been the official state religion. It just so happens that he made Christianity the state religion and he knew nothing of how to do theology. He had good intentions, but they have left us with a mess to clean up.

10/19/2007 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech I think we really are on the same page. Rain check granted and I am anxious to hear more on your studies as time permits.

Love ya dearly brother! ;-)

10/19/2007 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

For the record, I am also in favor of dunking believers... some, longer than others.

10/20/2007 03:24:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Dorse I can just see you chanting..."longer...longer...longer..." ;-)

10/20/2007 03:42:00 PM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Preface: Still looking into this. What is presented below is just a preliminary attempt to express where I am coming from. Kind of coming from. =)

I am guessing the 18% is coming from Wikipedia. So far that is the only site on the first page of Google's Search that I saw that gives a number of invited persons (around 1800 with at best 320 showing up). There were over 1500 attending (those being people who traveled with the Bishops). But your point was that the Council of Nicea did not represent the majority of Christians leaders at the time. And I think you would also say that even if 99% of the Christian leaders had shown up that it still would not have had an authority to set up orthodoxy. As to the question of the right to determine orthodoxy I would say that right belongs to God alone and that what is orthodox is contained in the teachings of Christ and the Apostles. I find no other authority to establish orthodoxy beyond this.

So, the percentage is inconsequential. Only God has the right to determine orthodoxy. Granted. I agree. But if two people are reading the exact same Scripture and coming up with two ways of what orthodoxy is, can the two not sit down and together try to determine the mind of God? That is basically what the Council of Nicea was trying to do. And what they came up with settled the question of the nature(s) of Christ. Therefore, they believed they had determined orthodoxy. Anything outside that was unorthodox.

You asked,"Now suppose that only 18% of all Pastors in the world attend the conference and that after much negotiation these men are able to reach a formal agreement on these differences including the means, method and meaning of baptism. Would you think it wise to consider this an action of the Church?

Was the Council of Nicea an action of the Church? Yes! Church with a big "C". Church and State were the same thing. Even if you had asked, "Would you think this was a wise action of the Church?" I would still say yes.

We both know of times when pastors of various churches in our own day have been called into a meeting to find out what their response would be to certain actions. I think of two right off.

So, I think it was a good idea for Constantine to make the Christian leaders of his empire get together and figure out what God said on the nature of Christ.

Next, should all churches teach this? Yes! If this council decide this, then this should be Christian orthodox.

Now...as I back pedal. As the Church begins to grow and take on a well defined hierarchy and start making up stuff not found in Scripture (and even "what is found in Scripture" is highly subjective), then leaders and laity can begin to question strongly what is being handed down (they can do this with this Council too). Look at Martin Luther. But what came out of the Council of Nicea (mainly the Nicean Creed) can't be said to not be the teachings of Christ and His Disciples. It is Orthodox. Anyone who can not affirm the Nicean Creed is not Christian. They may get to heaven by their faith, but they are not thinking as an orthodox Christian ought. Now beyond the Nicean Creed, I would suspect one could be Christian and not affirm everything in later Creeds. And I must add, it is not necessary to affirm the NC (every Sunday or so) to be an orthodox Christian. One just should be able to affirm it.

Therefore, if a Baptist were ask to affirm the Nicean Creed, he could, that is if he affirmed Creeds at all, which he doesn't because he doesn't believe in them. And as far as I know the Baptists and the Pentecostals are the only groups that do not publicly affirm the Creed as a "profession of faith" (a technical term not to mean accepting Christ on faith and announcing it publicly). The Baptists I know do affirm a Church Covenant and or a doctrinal Statement (BF&M for example) for membership into their local body. It's the same thing as a Creed. A body of leaders got together and decided what they believed to be true and if you believe something different, you can not be a part of their club. Besides, what is usually found in so many words in doctrine statements is the same thing the Nicean Creed says (plus more).

No I do not think that agreement in theology is a prerequisite for fellowship. But sadly what theological agreement does is allow believers to better worship/fellowship together. When two chaps disagree over theology, it does put a barrier between them in the degree of fellowship. Now it shouldn't. They should agree to disagree and hug each other and show the world an united front of love. But they are saved fallen creatures, and grouping theologically like mind people together does aid them in fellowship. What happens is they get exclusive and arrogant thinking they got it all figured out. But the goal should be to branch out and with the help of the Holy Spirit fellowship with those who affirm Christ but not my personal pet peeve (and recognizing it as a pet peeve and that we all have them).

Yes, Arianism did continue (does continue)as Gnosticism still does today. John the Apostle fought Gnosticism, but just because it still continued did not invalidate it as being heretical. I am not saying one must be able to explain the Hypostatic Union of Christ to be orthodox. It's a complex issue. But regardless, it is important. Now unmasking how much of it is Greek philosophy and how much is found in the teachings of Christ is not for everyone. I personally believe Christ taught that he was both God and man at the same time. How? I don't know. If someone has figured it out, kudos to them. But if someone denies Christ being God and man at the same time, they are unorthodox (again, they may be saved, I can't say, only God knows that).

Not sure what you mean by the Synods of Antioch. Are you talking about the synods dealing again with Arian heresy? Don't know much about it.

I would caution against accepting that Roman councils constitute all Church councils or that Roman history is all Church history.

I might would agree with the statement in reference to after the Protestant Reformation. But I'll go ahead and say what I've been thinking in my little head. Catholic Church History is our church history. Now we don't have to like it and may disagree with it. But it's part of the mess we inherited from our spiritual forefathers. We accept responsibility for the failures of our forefathers in the faith. At the same time, we ask for forgiveness in being a part of hate, slavery, intolerance, murder, sexual perversion, and all the other atrocities committed by our grandparents in the faith; those that history tells us about and those that are only known to the abused and mistreated.

I know this was a long comment. But I think the following one will show just how much we agree with each other.

10/21/2007 03:40:00 PM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Reading The Source by James Michener. Just finished Level VII The Law. This is a chapter about the encroaching Christian faith on the village of Makor.

A young Jew named Menahem ben Yohanan has been excommunicated from the Jewish community because he was born from an adulterous relationship. But Father Eusebius has brought the Good News that sins can be forgiven by faith in Christ. Young Menahem is excited to hear this and readily asked Jesus to forgive him of his sins. Soon after his father does the same.

Menahem is a simple boy who works hard and wants to do what is right. He was attracted to Jesus based on what Jesus did not on Church Theology.

"But if John [the dad] found snug refuge in the church, Mark [Menahem] did not: in a series of confusing revelations he was learning that his new religion involved a good deal more than the easy conversion which he had been offered, for although the Christians presented a solid front Jews and pagans, among themselves they were sorely divided, for they could not agree upon the nature of their religion and their divisions cut deep; those who believed one way were prepared to slay those who believed another.

Workmen who came from Egypt explained that Jesus Christ was at the same time a man and a deity, 'and therefore the Virgin Mary was the Mother of God.' But workmen who came from Constantinople argued that Jesus was born a man but lived such an exemplary life that He became a god, 'and so you can see that the Virgin Mary was the mother of a great man, but certainly never the Mother of God.' Mark, listening to these arguments about the nature of Jesus, thought: My new Christians fighting over whether Mary was the mother of Christ or the Mother of God sound just like my old rabbis fighting over whether throwing out dishwater was cooking or plowing."

So Mark goes to Father Eusebius to ask him,

"Father Eusebius was about to dismiss the complex matter when he saw that Mark was indeed concerned, and in a decision that would have lasting significance in the life of the young convert, he started their discussion of Christian dogma:'The Egyptians and the Byzantines are both wrong.'
'But what do you believe?'
'Always accept what the holy church has decided,' Father Eusebius said, 'The decisions are sometimes difficult to comprehend, but they are always right.'"

Fighting, one dies, Father Eusebius brings peace

"Mark had an opportunity to watch how each side refused to consider the arguments of the other and he caught a foretaste of the bitterness that would split his new chutch."

This last statement is where we the casual observer of the story, feel the pain of this kid. He became a follower of Christ because of the freedom he received from having his sins forgiven. But shortly thereafter, he was caught in the middle of a serious combat of ideologies. These ideologies began to pit one brother against another. It wasn't that the ideologies were necessarily bad. They were simply ideas. It was the pride and stubbornness of each party that made one want and actually kill another over beliefs. We would both say this is wrong and not from the teachings of Christ

10/22/2007 06:37:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech thanks for taking this up again so quickly and for your time and effort. They are very much appreciated.

“I am guessing the 18% is coming from Wikipedia.”

Here’s another source though I concede there is no original citation.

"The whole number of bishops assembled was at most three hundred and eighteen; that is, about one sixth of all the bishops of the empire, who are estimated as at least eighteen hundred"

Pg 120
HISTORY
of the
CHRISTIAN CHURCH
by
PHILIP SCHAFF
VOLUME III
NICENE AND POST-NICENE CHRISTIANITY
Fifth Edition, Revised

I found a great many sources online (http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=1800+Nicaea&FORM=MSNH) that cite the 1800 as well but again no original source was cited.

Now to your points…

“So, the percentage is inconsequential.”

I would say so if it can be shown that only a select few in the Church are to practice theology and that any agreement the few find is to be imposed on the whole body.

“Only God has the right to determine orthodoxy. Granted. I agree. But if two people are reading the exact same Scripture and coming up with two ways of what orthodoxy is, can the two not sit down and together try to determine the mind of God?”

I would not consider this as being two ways of orthodoxy but rather two ways of interpreting the one orthodoxy. Given this situation I would say they not only can try but should and do all they can as well to prove their interpretation to themselves but should these two then be allowed to impose their understanding on the whole Church?

“That is basically what the Council of Nicea was trying to do.”

Agreed.

“And what they came up with settled the question of the nature(s) of Christ.”

I will hold to my original argument on this one. ;-)

“Therefore, they believed they had determined orthodoxy. Anything outside that was unorthodox.”

This is my point. “They believed” and therefore their beliefs were to be considered, “the mind of God”. This, in essence, elevated their theology to the same level of authority as the scripture. Should this be so?

“Was the Council of Nicea an action of the Church? Yes! Church with a big "C". Church and State were the same thing.”

This might be the real point of contention between us. I perceive the body of Christ as being independent and separate from the institutions of men in all ways. I also perceive the Church as being directly subordinate to Christ and not to itself or to any institution of men. Any submission on the part of the Church to itself (as in love for one another) or to the institutions of men (as in government) is only in direct keeping with the command of Christ and where these would usurp His authority they must be denied. I consider this council one such example.

“So, I think it was a good idea for Constantine to make the Christian leaders of his empire get together and figure out what God said on the nature of Christ.”

Given my perspective of the Church I think you can understand how I would perceive this as calling Christ into question. I consider this action as the equivalent of demanding to know why we only see through a glass darkly or why God revealed these things to the simple in simple terms instead of the precise philosophical language required by great thinkers like these.

“Next, should all churches teach this? Yes! If this council decide this, then this should be Christian orthodox.”

I can only ask, why?

“Now...as I back pedal. As the Church begins to grow and take on a well defined hierarchy and start making up stuff not found in Scripture (and even "what is found in Scripture" is highly subjective), then leaders and laity can begin to question strongly what is being handed down (they can do this with this Council too).”

Given your position as stated above, who then would be authoritative in questioning these who you cite as already being authoritative in determining orthodoxy?

“But what came out of the Council of Nicea (mainly the Nicean Creed) can't be said to not be the teachings of Christ and His Disciples. It is Orthodox.”

I think it fair to say this theology is founded on orthodoxy but I disagree it should be considered orthodoxy by virtue of my arguments here.

“Anyone who can not affirm the Nicean Creed is not Christian. They may get to heaven by their faith, but they are not thinking as an orthodox Christian ought.”

I suppose it best to stop here and ask for your understanding on what defines a Christian.

“Now beyond the Nicean Creed, I would suspect one could be Christian and not affirm everything in later Creeds.”

Again I ask, by what authority? How would this differ from those who would question the means, methods and findings of the council at Nicaea?

“And I must add, it is not necessary to affirm the NC (every Sunday or so) to be an orthodox Christian. One just should be able to affirm it.”

Once more I have to ask, why?

“Therefore, if a Baptist were ask to affirm the Nicean Creed, he could, that is if he affirmed Creeds at all, which he doesn't because he doesn't believe in them. And as far as I know the Baptists and the Pentecostals are the only groups that do not publicly affirm the Creed as a "profession of faith" (a technical term not to mean accepting Christ on faith and announcing it publicly). The Baptists I know do affirm a Church Covenant and or a doctrinal Statement (BF&M for example) for membership into their local body. It's the same thing as a Creed. A body of leaders got together and decided what they believed to be true and if you believe something different, you can not be a part of their club. Besides, what is usually found in so many words in doctrine statements is the same thing the Nicean Creed says (plus more).”

I consider a covenant to be an agreement in praxis whereas a creed is a theological statement however I would agree that any and all can affirm both these things but I cannot find scriptural warrant for allowing either to be the rule for faith and practice.

“No I do not think that agreement in theology is a prerequisite for fellowship.”

This seems in conflict with your statements above. Isn’t the doctrine of the Trinity a theological construct?

“But sadly what theological agreement does is allow believers to better worship/fellowship together.”

I must be honest and say that from what I’ve seen it only allows them to become stagnant.

“When two chaps disagree over theology, it does put a barrier between them in the degree of fellowship. Now it shouldn't. They should agree to disagree and hug each other and show the world an united front of love. But they are saved fallen creatures, and grouping theologically like mind people together does aid them in fellowship.”

I’m uncertain on this point. Could you expound on how and in what way it helps?

“What happens is they get exclusive and arrogant thinking they got it all figured out. But the goal should be to branch out and with the help of the Holy Spirit fellowship with those who affirm Christ but not my personal pet peeve (and recognizing it as a pet peeve and that we all have them).”

AMEN! …Ahem ;-)

“Yes, Arianism did continue (does continue)as Gnosticism still does today. John the Apostle fought Gnosticism, but just because it still continued did not invalidate it as being heretical.”

We would disagree in this because of our definition of orthodoxy, which in turn defines heresy.

“I am not saying one must be able to explain the Hypostatic Union of Christ to be orthodox. It's a complex issue. But regardless, it is important. Now unmasking how much of it is Greek philosophy and how much is found in the teachings of Christ is not for everyone. I personally believe Christ taught that he was both God and man at the same time. How? I don't know. If someone has figured it out, kudos to them. But if someone denies Christ being God and man at the same time, they are unorthodox (again, they may be saved, I can't say, only God knows that).”

My understanding is that this contention was not over the deity or humanity of Christ, I understand Arius confirmed both, but rather it was over a disagreement concerning His substance and origin. With regard to substance it came down to philosophical terminology and the argument over origin was interpretive. Arius affirmed all that the scripture said concerning Christ but he contended that He was created by God before the beginning of time. At present I would be hard pressed to believe that Arius would himself affirm Arianism in the least.

“Not sure what you mean by the Synods of Antioch. Are you talking about the synods dealing again with Arian heresy? Don't know much about it.”

I am referring to the numerous councils held at Antioch prior to this one in which they addressed numerous issues. The primary difference I find being that their findings were sent back to the Church and not imposed on it.

“I might would agree with the statement in reference to after the Protestant Reformation.”

Why would this be different? By what authority or reason?

“But I'll go ahead and say what I've been thinking in my little head. Catholic Church History is our church history. Now we don't have to like it and may disagree with it. But it's part of the mess we inherited from our spiritual forefathers. We accept responsibility for the failures of our forefathers in the faith. At the same time, we ask for forgiveness in being a part of hate, slavery, intolerance, murder, sexual perversion, and all the other atrocities committed by our grandparents in the faith; those that history tells us about and those that are only known to the abused and mistreated.”

Here again I think the distinction I make between the body of Christ and the institutions of men would prevent me from accepting the acts of any denomination as being the acts of the Church. I would not go so far as to say that the Church cannot be found functioning within these institutions but I cannot call the institutions themselves the Church.

“I know this was a long comment.”

My thinker is exhausted! If you’re still awake or even make it this far then I know you really do love me! (hehe)

“But I think the following one will show just how much we agree with each other.”

The following?

Love ya dearly brother. I hope we can continue in this! ;-)

10/22/2007 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

We cross-posted and now that I read "the following" I would say yes, we really do agree very closely. ;-)

10/22/2007 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Let me respond to each section. Maybe that'll shorten the comments.

Pg 120
HISTORY
of the
CHRISTIAN CHURCH
by
PHILIP SCHAFF
VOLUME III
NICENE AND POST-NICENE CHRISTIANITY
Fifth Edition, Revised


I have this resource with my e-sword. Started reading through it, have not gotten to far.

Let's do this. If we can isolate each issue and discuss it, maybe we move forward slowly. Before the Council of Nicea that Constantine convened, what constituted a church and what was the spiritual condition of them? I am not asking for specifics just in general. I'll give my answer then you can follow up.

Christianity had become a mess even just shortly after the departure of Christ. Gnosticism was probably the first heresy that really challenged the true faith (in my opinion may still). Heresy was (is) any teaching that directly contradicted the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and was detrimental to those who took it on. Non-Christians are not heretics, they are non-Christian. I propose that the church was a massive mixture of truth and non-truths in the 200's. In just 200 years, the "truth" was hardly recognizable. When Constantine fused the State and Christianity, he inherited this mess. Thus, he convened a meeting to try to define exactly what was truth. Again, I do not see too much difference (except in scale) in this and Baptist (I use Baptist simply because they are "non-creedal" not to pick on them exclusively)preachers getting together informally on Saturday mornings to discuss what Romans 8 really says. If these men come to an agreement on what Romans 8 says then why would they not each preach it in their pulpits on Sunday?

Again, I have a feeling I have failed in isolating any issue. As I look over this comment I see multitudes of issues.

What I want to get at was what constituted a church in the 200's (the years prior to the Council) and if there was a need to define doctrine. I propose that the situation was a mess. I further propose that it was imperative to set out what was truth, what Christians ought to believe, if they were going to be called Christians. What made up a church? Honestly, I can't answer that even now. At the minimum it is two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus. Beyond that, I can't define a church then nor now. It's something I am trying to work through.

Well so much for shorter comments! hahaha

And just so you will know, I did in deed read the entire response to me. =) In fact I may have to print it out to better talk about each issue. As our wonderful friend Evol says, You are loved...and I add not only by God but by ME!!

Cheers. Until next time ;)

10/22/2007 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech I like the library contained at ccel.org ( http://www.ccel.org/ ).

“Let's do this. If we can isolate each issue and discuss it, maybe we move forward slowly. Before the Council of Nicea that Constantine convened, what constituted a church and what was the spiritual condition of them? I am not asking for specifics just in general. I'll give my answer then you can follow up.”

Sounds like a good idea and approach to me. ;-)

“Christianity had become a mess even just shortly after the departure of Christ. Gnosticism was probably the first heresy that really challenged the true faith (in my opinion may still). Heresy was (is) any teaching that directly contradicted the teachings of Christ and the Apostles and was detrimental to those who took it on. Non-Christians are not heretics, they are non-Christian. I propose that the church was a massive mixture of truth and non-truths in the 200's. In just 200 years, the "truth" was hardly recognizable.”

I’m with you so far but I would like to point out that things then are not so different from things today or any other time in history.

”When Constantine fused the State and Christianity, he inherited this mess. Thus, he convened a meeting to try to define exactly what was truth. Again, I do not see too much difference (except in scale) in this and Baptist (I use Baptist simply because they are "non-creedal" not to pick on them exclusively)preachers getting together informally on Saturday mornings to discuss what Romans 8 really says. If these men come to an agreement on what Romans 8 says then why would they not each preach it in their pulpits on Sunday?”

Here’s the rub. Constantine proposed to fuse the State to the Church but it was these 300 or so Bishops who presented themselves as the Church and subjected themselves as the Church to his authority. We could argue their motive but I would rather not judge. I suspect their motives are varied. The net effect was that Christians were no longer to be directly subject to Christ but to Rome and Christianity was no longer defined by the teachings of Christ and the Apostles but was defined as the religion of Rome. If these men had done as you propose and simply delivered their findings (preached in their pulpits) to the Church, then well and good, but this was not the case. They used the authority of the state in an effort to impose their theology on the Church.

”Again, I have a feeling I have failed in isolating any issue. As I look over this comment I see multitudes of issues.”

You always do well IMHO but I agree, there is more here than “meets the eye”. ;-)

”What I want to get at was what constituted a church in the 200's (the years prior to the Council) and if there was a need to define doctrine. I propose that the situation was a mess. I further propose that it was imperative to set out what was truth, what Christians ought to believe, if they were going to be called Christians. What made up a church? Honestly, I can't answer that even now. At the minimum it is two or three gathered together in the name of Jesus. Beyond that, I can't define a church then nor now. It's something I am trying to work through.”

Pech, as I see it, Christian doctrine was already defined by Christ and the Apostles and what was needed then is what is needed now. Christian doctrine needed to be circulated and practiced but it seems they were, as we are, much more intent on establishing “good” theology, power and authority than on following the command, teaching and example of Christ.

As for what or “who” made up the Church I think we agree. I say it is the same then as it is now, its collective members. I don’t think it’s in defining the Church that you struggle but in trying to identify its manifestation throughout history. I don’t perceive the growth or history of the Church through the progression of theology but through the spread of the Gospel. What bound the Church together then is what binds it together today, the love of God in Christ Jesus.

“Well so much for shorter comments! Hahaha”

I thought this one was pretty reasonable until I got hold of it! (hehe)

”And just so you will know, I did in deed read the entire response to me. =) In fact I may have to print it out to better talk about each issue. As our wonderful friend Evol says, You are loved...and I add not only by God but by ME!!”

She is a most wonderful friend as are you my beloved brother. I know I am so blessed.

”Cheers. Until next time ;)”

And to you Fisherman! ;-)

10/23/2007 06:10:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

AHHH YES. We actually are not in as much conflict as maybe either of us thought.

Here’s the rub. Constantine proposed to fuse the State to the Church but it was these 300 or so Bishops who presented themselves as the Church and subjected themselves as the Church to his authority. We could argue their motive but I would rather not judge. I suspect their motives are varied. The net effect was that Christians were no longer to be directly subject to Christ but to Rome and Christianity was no longer defined by the teachings of Christ and the Apostles but was defined as the religion of Rome. If these men had done as you propose and simply delivered their findings (preached in their pulpits) to the Church, then well and good, but this was not the case. They used the authority of the state in an effort to impose their theology on the Church.

If it seems I am back pedaling, I am not. What you wrote and I just quoted above is 99.9% what I think also.

There is still another can of worms out there. But I'll wait and explore that later. As I see it, you have summed up all the previous arguments of former comments and put them into the above quoted sentences. Therefore, I feel good that we have discussed and come to some conclusion on the entire post.

Shewwwww!! That was a lot of hard work, n'est-ce pas?

10/24/2007 10:24:00 AM  
Blogger Kc said...

Pech, you said:

“AHHH YES. We actually are not in as much conflict as maybe either of us thought.”

Do you have any idea how relieved I am to know this! ;-)

”If it seems I am back pedaling, I am not.”

No, I know this only resolves our issues concerning the council at Nicaea . ;-)

”What you wrote and I just quoted above is 99.9% what I think also.”

Yippee! Happy days! (hehe) Seriously that is very reassuring. I place great value on your opinion. I am a bit curious about the 0.1%. ;-)

”There is still another can of worms out there. But I'll wait and explore that later”

I think you can see now why I isolated that one proposition for discussion. I do look forward to learning from you in the future. ;-)

”As I see it, you have summed up all the previous arguments of former comments and put them into the above quoted sentences. Therefore, I feel good that we have discussed and come to some conclusion on the entire post.”

I would then agree that this satisfies our contention regarding this post.

”Shewwwww!! That was a lot of hard work, n'est-ce pas?”

Brother, sincerely, I can’t thank you enough for finding the time and putting for the the effort to examine me on this issue.

I hope and pray the next few weeks meet all your hopes and expectations in accordance with God’s will. I hope you can stay in touch. ;-)

10/24/2007 01:13:00 PM  

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