Friday, October 26, 2007

Question to Lucian

Apologies to folks with a feed reader who got my misplaced post intended for the debate blog.

That said, Lucian, you seem to think that Basil the Great holds similar views to you.

Yet, you also seem to think that "oral tradition" was not secret.

Basil, however, suggests that the oral traditions were unwritten to preserve their secrecy.

Would you care to explain yourself?

-Turretinfan

11 comments:

orthodox said...

Secrecy is relative in this case. The example that Basil gives of a secret doctrine is:

"And as to the other customs of baptism from what Scripture do we derive the renunciation of Satan and his angels? "

Since this "secret" is part of the baptism ceremony (one that BTW, is still observed in Orthodox baptism to this very day), for obvious reasons this "secret", would be no secret for every Christian, since every Christian would need to have been in this ceremony. It may be a secret from the heretical groups, that's about it. It wasn't the kind of secret teaching that other Fathers criticized, which was some alleged teaching that only an elite group knew of.

Turretinfan said...

Orthodox, you're confused.
a) if the "Orthodox" of Basil's day practiced infant Baptism ...
but more importantly
b) Basil actually mentions that some of the secrets are hidden in the rites of the church. Thus, for example, Basil points out that the laity kneel and rise in prayer (and pray to the East) for a reason, but that the reason is not necessarily known even to the people who are following the customs (traditions) of the church.

Perhaps you need to become more familiar with Basil's work before you jump to conclusions.

-Turretinfan

Lucian said...

The Holy Tradition of the Chruch was no secret for its followers, or members. It was however kept a secret for those outside of its communion ("don't give your bread to the dogs", "don't put your pearls before swines"), but not a secret per se by any chance.

GeneMBridges said...

The Holy Tradition of the Chruch was no secret for its followers, or members

Then why does Basil indicate that the people don't know the reason they do some of these things? That's quite the quandry for you,isn' t?

Also, notice that Basil is, in point of fact, writing down some practices, so they aren't unwritten after all, and if nobody knows the reason behind at least some of these, how can you verify that the reasons are, in fact, apostolic? How do you know that the reasons that the clergy gives are apostolic in origin?

orthodox said...

"Perhaps you need to become more familiar with Basil's work before you jump to conclusions."

That's rich considering you admit not having read the Fathers, and that you started down this thread based on a quote I provided you.

"a) if the "Orthodox" of Basil's day practiced infant Baptism"

Since the Church was still in a rapid growth phase, and since baptism was a public ceremony in the Church, anybody in the church would have witnessed countless baptisms.

"b) Basil actually mentions that some of the secrets are hidden in the rites of the church."

He doesn't say that any of these things are a secret within the church. What he is saying is that because these things haven't been proclaimed and preached publically outside of the inner life of the church, that even many inside the church may not know these things. Not because it is any "secret" to those inside, but because they're not spoken of as frequently as other things.

He explicitely says that it is the uninitiated which it is a secret from and that it isn't "publicly paraded".

Parallel it to today. Orthodox still pray facing East and we build our churches facing East, but there may well be many who don't know why. Not because it is a secret. Not because only some elite know why. And even though it is written down why in various places, in reality the reason is usually passed down orally. Someone will ask, and the priest will tell them why. It's a quiet teaching.

How many protestants know about the facing East teaching? Very few indeed. It's still working the same way. Nothing has changed since Basil's time.

Think about it. It's reasonable to assume that Basil isn't lying and the Christians really did face East. It's unreasonable, given human nature to think that everybody in the world could convince everyone else to do the same thing without (a) a common received teaching and (b) a reason.

And it's unreasonable to call something that churches were doing in the whole world, and that any of the initiated could find out, a secret in the sense of a gnostic teaching.

Gene: "Also, notice that Basil is, in point of fact, writing down some practices, so they aren't unwritten after all"

O: I suggest that a more appropriate translation of ἄγραφος might often be "extra-scriptural" rather than "unwritten".

G: if nobody knows the reason behind at least some of these, how can you verify that the reasons are, in fact, apostolic?

O: Huh? Nobody knows the reasons for what?

G: How do you know that the reasons that the clergy gives are apostolic in origin?

O: Read the document from Basil we are quoting from. If you won't accept his reasons you wouldn't accept the reasons of 2000 years of Christians.

Turretinfan said...

TF: "Perhaps you need to become more familiar with Basil's work before you jump to conclusions."
O: "That's rich considering you admit not having read the Fathers, and that you started down this thread based on a quote I provided you."

I respond: Careful what you assume. I'm quite sure I did not admit any such thing. You're confusing one thing with another.

TF: "a) if the "Orthodox" of Basil's day practiced infant Baptism"
O: "Since the Church was still in a rapid growth phase, and since baptism was a public ceremony in the Church, anybody in the church would have witnessed countless baptisms."
I respond: (a) That's not quite your original argument is it? and (b) That's more evidence that your church is not the same as Basil's church.

-Turretinfan

GeneMBridges said...

suggest that a more appropriate translation of ἄγραφος might often be "extra-scriptural" rather than "unwritten".

I note you don't note any lexical evidence. Rather you assert without argument.

This, of course, touches nothing I wrote. If these "traditions" were unwritten and then written by Basil, then they were preserved, and it is your belief they are Apostolic. Why are they not then canonized as Scripture? Your argument, if true would support the Protestant rule of faith against those who claim there are unwritten teachings passed down faithfully to the present day, if you followed it to its logical end, but you don't. As usual, you impose ad hoc restrictions.

Huh? Nobody knows the reasons for what?

"Read the document by Basil."

Read the document from Basil we are quoting from. If you won't accept his reasons you wouldn't accept the reasons of 2000 years of Christians.

I notice you didn't answer the question. I'll take that as an admission your argument is a failure.

Why should I accept what Basil has stated.

How do you know, if these are unwritten, that they are Apostolic? The Protestant rule of faith also includes the belief that all the teachings of the Apostles necessary and sufficient for the functioning of the Church are to be canonized as Scripture such that what is in Scripture does not differ from what they taught orally. If you think that there are unwritten Apostolic traditions, the onus is on you to document them; if you can document them, then they would be written down, and if they are written, they should (a) be Scripture and (b) are not merely oral.

How can you in particular verify/document for us that oral traditions are, in fact, Apostolic? Once again, we are forced to rely on your fideistic, ecclesiolatrous commitment to your church.

Of course, since Basil is written several centuries after the founding of the church, you are also begging the question by asserting things about what 2000 years of Christians have believed. The East claimed that the date of Easter for celebration was given by John. The West claimed by Paul and Peter. The two dates did not agree. So, how do I know such "traditions" if they exist, are not only Apostolic, but which set is correct if and when they conflict?

Not only that, but how do I know
that they are necessary for the right functioning of the church? Protestants have no problem with the idea that the Apostles might have given conflicting dates for such things, but is this necessary for the functioning of the faith and practice of the church, and if not, then is facing East necessary, or certain baptismal practices? In the past, you've pointed to such things as problematic in Protestants, so it seems you have been arguing these are, in fact, necessary. Where is the supporting argument? If they are not necessary, this would undermine one of your key objections to the Protestant rule of faith.

Further, the Apostles most often mentioned are John, Peter, and Paul. Sometimes you get a reference to Andrew or James. If there is no definitive list for the "traditions" they passed down orally, and there are known contradictory claims, what does this say about the reliability of the preservation of oral tradition? So, we get back, still to the question of verification.

orthodox said...

G: "I note you don't note any lexical evidence. Rather you assert without argument."

O: I thought it was obvious. If Basil writes something down and calls it an unwritten tradition, then he would be contradicting himself.

Anyway, we all agree γραφος can mean scripture, therefore ἄγραφος can mean not-scripture. This too is obvious.

G: If these "traditions" were unwritten and then written by Basil, then they were preserved, and it is your belief they are Apostolic. Why are they not then canonized as Scripture?

O: Because it is the practice that is apostolic and God-breathed, not the description of it.

G: Why should I accept what Basil has stated.

How do you know, if these are unwritten, that they are Apostolic?

O: How do you know any scripture is apostolic? You ask questions that you yourself won't answer.

G: If you think that there are unwritten Apostolic traditions, the onus is on you to document them

O: A document being something that is written, right? So if there is something unwritten, the onus is on me to write it. That's nonsense. Why do you make up this arbitrary sillyness? How about you document that 1 Clement is not God-breathed, and then get back to me. Jesus left no documents, so whatever he agrees with is something you will have to take on faith from his church.

G: The East claimed that the date of Easter for celebration was given by John. The West claimed by Paul and Peter. The two dates did not agree. So, how do I know such "traditions" if they exist, are not only Apostolic, but which set is correct if and when they conflict?

O: If they are both apostolic approved methods for celebrating easter, then what difference does it make?

G: Protestants have no problem with the idea that the Apostles might have given conflicting dates for such things, but is this necessary for the functioning of the faith and practice of the church, and if not, then is facing East necessary, or certain baptismal practices?

O: Necessary? How do you know anything is necessary? Members of the salvation army don't think baptism and communion are "necessary" so they don't practice them.

From my point of view, who cares about "necessary" as a criterion for practice. We follow the traditions passed down to us, without concerning ourselves with such navel gazing.

G: If there is no definitive list for the "traditions" they passed down orally, and there are known contradictory claims, what does this say about the reliability of the preservation of oral tradition?

O: If there is no definitive list for the "scriptures" they passed down in writing, and there are known contradictory claims, what does this say about the reliability of the preservation of scriptures?

GeneMBridges said...

I thought it was obvious. If Basil writes something down and calls it an unwritten tradition, then he would be contradicting himself.

Anyway, we all agree γραφος can mean scripture, therefore ἄγραφος can mean not-scripture. This too is obvious.


1. Apparently, you still can't follow an argument. If something is "apostolic" and written then it why is it not canonized?

In addition the "a" portion can mean that it is "un"Scripture or unwritten, not "extra" Scriptural. Since you are claiming the former, it is up to you to provide the supporting argument.

But if it is "apostolic" and written at any point, then it would BE Scripture.

The argument between us is over unwritten traditions. If there are unwritten traditions, then you should produce them.

And how do you know they are valid traditions?

O: Because it is the practice that is apostolic and God-breathed, not the description of it.

This is non-responsive and only moves the question back one step. If the practice is apostolic, what is the epistemic warrant to verify its apostolicity?

O: How do you know any scripture is apostolic? You ask questions that you yourself won't answer.

This is a boldfaced lie. We've made the argument many times in the archives of Triablogue, you just continue to either misrepresent, ignore,or dislike the answers you are given.

A document being something that is written, right? So if there is something unwritten, the onus is on me to write it. That's nonsense. Why do you make up this arbitrary sillyness?

I didn't say you have to write the document. Rather I said you need to document the claim.

You are misplacing the burden of proof. There can be no evidence for oral tradition qua oral. At best, there can only be evidence for oral tradition committed to writing. Otherwise, oral tradition wouldn’t survive intact over the centuries. So the onus is on Orthodoxy to literally document the existence of oral tradition. But if it’s documentary, it’s not oral; if it is written, it is not unwritten.

ii) In addition, how does Orthodoxy verify that an oral tradition is apostolic or dominical?

So far, all you have done is try to shift the burden of proof so you don't have to answer these questions.

Bringing us to this:


How about you document that 1 Clement is not God-breathed, and then get back to me.

The topic here isn't 1 Clement or the inspiration and apostolicity of Scriptures, so this is a diversionary tactic to cover up your failed argument.

The topic is your need to document the apostolicity of unwritten traditions that are then written by Basil several hundred years after the fact.

Jesus left no documents, so whatever he agrees with is something you will have to take on faith from his church

It's nice to see that when pressed you offer the argument of the atheist. I'll take this to mean Orthodoxy is convertible with atheism.

O: If they are both apostolic approved methods for celebrating easter, then what difference does it make?

1. According to you, differences between Protestants over practices would, in fact, constitute anarchy. This is one of your standard arguments against the Protestant rule of faith. Nice to see your double standard.

2. I'm asking you how you determine if such a tradition is apostolic and when there are conflicts and outright contradictions how you know which one is correct? If you say "both," how do you know that this is a valid response?

Necessary? How do you know anything is necessary? Members of the salvation army don't think baptism and communion are "necessary" so they don't practice them.

We've argued for this many times in our discussions with you. I hardly need to reproduce the arguments.

And how is this at all applicable to this discussion?

The reader should be aware that this is just another diversionary tactic on the part of Orthodox.

From my point of view, who cares about "necessary" as a criterion for practice? We follow the traditions passed down to us, without concerning ourselves with such navel gazing.

If you really believed this, then this will directly undercut one of your key objections to the Protestant rule of faith, or do I have to dig up all the threads on Tblog where you brought such issues up?

Here are some selections:

"No, YOU consider yourself united. You can't speak for Presbyterians, and many may not consider themselves united with you."

"If you had a disagreement on a point of doctrine, to go set up your own church. Where is the scripture that unambiguously teaches this?"

"Just the other day I was talking to someone from a major protestant group in the Phillipines, who among other wierdnesses, only partakes communion once per year."

You then went on to use this as an argument against Protestantism and subsequently the Protestant rule of faith.

O: If there is no definitive list for the "scriptures" they passed down in writing, and there are known contradictory claims, what does this say about the reliability of the preservation of scriptures?

I'll take your inability to answer as an admission that you have none.

Again, we at Triablogue have never claimed that our rule of faith is superior, so this argument is absolutely irrelevant to anything we have argued. Rather, this is a problem for those who claim their rule of faith is superior.

Once again we see that your desire is really to have the last word.

I also perceive you are still in your sins and need to cast yourself on the mercy of God and renounce you ecclesiolatry.

Lucian said...

The Canon of NT Scriptures contain the writings of the Apostles. The commentaries on Scripture are not part of Scripture.
The number of writings suspected of Apostolic origin is limited. This number stabilized at 25-26 for the last 1,500 yrs. And at 27 for the last millennium.
It never went below the Fourfold Gospel and the bulk of Pauline writings (the 9 epistles to the seven cities ... just like John).
To these You may add the first Epistle of Peter, respectively John.
I agree that this is not exactly the Protestant Paradise, but it's not Pagel's and DaVinci's wild fantasies either.

Turretinfan said...

The Canon of the NT include the divinely inspired writings that post-date Christ's incarnation.

You may be surprised to learn that Luke (for example) was not an apostle.

-Turretinfan