Protestantism: Critique and Debate Thread

I just started listening. It should be a good discussion with Fr. John Whiteford.

I don't know the Protestant guys, they said they are from Method ministries: Lucas Curcio and Wesley Todd.

So, for those interested, a nearly 3hr discussion on Justification:

 
I just started listening. It should be a good discussion with Fr. John Whiteford.

I don't know the Protestant guys, they said they are from Method ministries: Lucas Curcio and Wesley Todd.

So, for those interested, a nearly 3hr discussion on Justification:


It's a stimulating discussion/debate with much Biblical exegesis. One of Fr. Whiteford's main points is that faith is a work, as Jesus says in John 6, but it has no merit.
 
It's a stimulating discussion/debate with much Biblical exegesis. One of Fr. Whiteford's main points is that faith is a work, as Jesus says in John 6, but it has no merit.

I just got to that part about 19 minutes in. Yes, so it seems the Orthodox view is not extremely systematic. And they stick to that because scripture isn't systematic in the way it presents itself. Another way to say it is that Orthodox don't really do slogans. An example of a slogan could be "Saved by faith alone".

I sense that once you dig into the meaning of the slogan it seems unnecessary and sometimes inaccurate. Why say faith alone when there are subtleties that are understood within the actual meaning of it? We have a working definition that is closer to the meaning of faith alone in scripture itself like "faith working through love" in Galatians 5:6. There are lots of others too that are simply scripture.
 
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Yes, so it seems the Orthodox view is not extremely systematic.
There are many "Protestants" who also avoid systematic theology because they feel the same way about the Bible. This is why they, along with the Orthodox, emphasize the subjective experience over the objective truth.

There are many genres in the Bible, but it should not be mistaken that Paul does give a systematic in the longer epistles. This is why the Reformed have historically clung to Romans as much as they have.

I believe in systematic theology because 1) the Bible is consistent with itself, 2) the Bible is objectively true.

Without it, the Bible becomes more like a fortune cookie, where it's true, so long as it's adding up to my personal experience.
 
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Why say faith alone when there are subtleties that are understood within the actual meaning of it?
Because of Romans 4.

We have a working definition that is closer to the meaning of faith alone in scripture itself like "faith working through love" in Galatians 5:6.
I'm going to listen to the video. Whiteford is not a bad guy, I respect his willingness to engage. In the comments, he seems to understand "Faith working through love" as "Faith + works."

In Galatians 5, the contrast is between those who are working to be saved (Judaizers) and those who are in Christ Jesus.
 
There are many "Protestants" who also avoid systematic theology because they feel the same way about the Bible. This is why they, along with the Orthodox, emphasize the subjective experience over the objective truth.

There are many genres in the Bible, but it should not be mistaken that Paul does give a systematic in the longer epistles. This is why the Reformed have historically clung to Romans as much as they have.

I believe in systematic theology because 1) the Bible is consistent with itself, 2) the Bible is objectively true.

Without it, the Bible becomes more like a fortune cookie, where it's true, so long as it's adding up to my personal experience.

It's pretty difficult to get away from the "so long as it's adding up to my personal experience" part and treating the Bible like a fortune cookie. I think all of us here are trying to avoid doing that. I'm just saying that it's difficult to actually do that.

One could say using systematic theology (of which there are more than several competing versions) is based on personal experience/"what I want to see" as well. It is how a certain time period and culture thought of things - it's a lens, or mindset used to interpret the Bible.

I also think that 1.) the Bible is consistent with itself, and 2) the Bible is objectively true, but I don't think that necessarily means therefore a particular systematic theology is true. I think systematic theology can be helpful but it's an approximation. I have a similar criticism with Catholics interpreting with their scholastic lens.

We aren't ultimately knowing a system we are knowing a person. We don't get to know people by systematizing them. The objective truth is a person, not just an abstract truth or system.
 
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It's pretty difficult to get away from the "so long as it's adding up to my personal experience" part and treating the Bible like a fortune cookie. I think all of us here are trying to avoid doing that. I'm just saying that it's difficult to actually do that.
None of us will be able to achieve this perfectly, it does not mean we ought not strive for it. Nominalism is something that exists within us all and we must wage war with it.

I also think that 1.) the Bible is consistent with itself, and 2) the Bible is objectively true, but I don't think that necessarily means therefore a particular systematic theology is true. I think systematic theology can be helpful but it's an approximation. I have a similar criticism with Catholics interpreting with their scholastic lens.
If both of those propositions are true, then the Bible is intrinsically systematic. When the Bible says something, it actually means something. I have been told in this thread that we don't or can't know the Will of God. Everytime I hear that, I can't help but wonder 'then what do you think the Bible is?' To paraphrase James, we ought not think the Scriptures speak to no purpose.

This is why groups like the Orthodox supplement the Bible with subjective experience, speculations, mysticism, traditions, etc, because they have a low view of the Scriptures.

We aren't ultimately knowing a system we are knowing a person. We don't get to know people by systematizing them. The objective truth is a person, not just an abstract truth or system.
We know Jesus through His Word. He reveals Himself to us. We don't systematize Him through an abstract system, He tells us what we need to know about Him and how to know Him personally in the Bible.
 
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I have been told in this thread that we don't or can't know the Will of God. Everytime I hear that, I can't help but wonder 'then what do you think the Bible is?'

A extremely small part of God's Will. A drop in the ocean. Just enough for us to act on, but it is impossible for God to reveal Himself fully to us without destroying us utterly.
 
Reading the Book of Acts now. I find it hard to see how anyone can read this and come away with a Protestant interpretation. Clearly a single Church was founded by our Lord, the Orthodox Church.

2:46-47
46So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

6:3
3Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

11:25-26
25Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

14:27
27Now when they had come and gathered the church together, they reported all that God had done with them, and that He had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles

15:2-4
2Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. 3So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.

15:16
16After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up;
 
Reading the Book of Acts now. I find it hard to see how anyone can read this and come away with a Protestant interpretation.
Is there anything in Acts that teaches us to pray to icons or that there was such as thing as a priesthood in the Apostle's church government? Because the Church in Acts didn't do those things.
 
Martin Luther, John Wesley, and others who created new Christian Protestant sects were great Christian men. I wonder if they would have any second thoughts about splitting the church. This decision of course was not taken lightly, but when you look at the dozens of Christ-lite churches that teach prosperity gospel or monthly sermons on "forgiveness" not to mention all the "nondenominational" churches which sprang from this split, I wonder if it has created more harm than good in the long run.

One of the biggest problems is many of these churches lead men who are trying to lead a Christian life, down a path of evil.
I dont deny these protestant Christians were great guyd Iv read many of their biographies and books in the past, Smith Wigglesworth, Spurgen, John G Lake etc they were great as individuals but the church is a body not an individual.

I think John Wessley he was ok with the icons,Martin Luther was also ok with the icons, he venerated the virgin Mary, he believed in confession, he believed in the Eucharist, John Calvin on the other hand did not.

There is a very well know America Christian evalgelist who recently died he even believed in the toll houses and he often met with the Orthodox church leaders and he agreed with them on the toll houses,I think we all know him, Billy Gram. But compare the protestant world of the past with today and see how much things have changed and evolved because they dont hold onto the church traditions and self interpret the scriptures and whatever culture is at the time will influence them and it can also influence the Orthodox church but we have Bishops and church councils and excommunications etc that keep the church in check, in order,there is accountability, there is tradition that we stick too
 
I think John Wessley he was ok with the icons,Martin Luther was also ok with the icons, he venerated the virgin Mary, he believed in confession, he believed in the Eucharist, John Calvin on the other hand did not.
What do you mean when you say Calvin didn't believe in the Eucharist? Have you read the Institutes? He was known for having a higher sacramentology than Zwingli, not that Zwingli was wrong as he used the least amount of non-Biblical language in describing the Eucharist.

If you are equivocating the Eucharist with transubstantiation, than none of the big three Reformers, not even Luther, believed in it because it is simply not a Biblical doctrine.

The concept of transubstantiation relies on the concept of a priest, and as has been mentioned above, the Apostolic Church knew nothing of a priesthood other than the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ alone, and the priesthood of all believers.
 
Some of the biggest evangelists of all time have been Calvinists. God has decreed the ends (those who will believe) as well as the means (the proclamation of the Gospel). There are some extremists who do not evangelize but they are so miniscule that they are inconsequential. We believe that we can have confidence in our evangelism because "as many as are appointed to eternal life" will believe, as in Acts 13. This is why Calvinists remain very conservative in their evangelizing, we do not believe we need to modify the Gospel in order to attract more followers. We believe that God always "reserves a remnant for Himself."


That's hard to give a short answer to. God has decreed the ends (the salvation of the Church) as well as the means (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ). This creation was created with a purpose, a telos, and God has been working to bring this creation to it's intended purpose. His omniscience cannot be falsified, He knows everything that will happen because He is the one who is holding this creation together. With God, there is no rogue molecule and no contingency, "He works all things according to the counsel of His will."

Without predestination, the creation would be in a state of flux. There is no longer purpose that holds the creation together but everything in it becomes meaningless and random, it is the cosmos of the materialist and the athiest. I cannot grant this because "all things were created by Him and for Him and through Him. He is before all things and in Him all things consist (they hold together)."
But isnt that a bit of a contradiction though because if people are already predestined then why try convince them with preaching to them?
 
What do you mean when you say Calvin didn't believe in the Eucharist? Have you read the Institutes? He was known for having a higher sacramentology than Zwingli, not that Zwingli was wrong as he used the least amount of non-Biblical language in describing the Eucharist.

If you are equivocating the Eucharist with transubstantiation, than none of the big three Reformers, not even Luther, believed in it because it is simply not a Biblical doctrine.

The concept of transubstantiation relies on the concept of a priest, and as has been mentioned above, the Apostolic Church knew nothing of a priesthood other than the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ alone, and the priesthood of all believers.
I was actually referring to the icons and church traditiobs, do Calvanists believe that the Holy Communion is the literal body and blood of Christ or just symbols? Priests, elders and Bishops are mentioned in the Bible though?
 
What do you mean when you say Calvin didn't believe in the Eucharist? Have you read the Institutes? He was known for having a higher sacramentology than Zwingli, not that Zwingli was wrong as he used the least amount of non-Biblical language in describing the Eucharist.

If you are equivocating the Eucharist with transubstantiation, than none of the big three Reformers, not even Luther, believed in it because it is simply not a Biblical doctrine.

The concept of transubstantiation relies on the concept of a priest, and as has been mentioned above, the Apostolic Church knew nothing of a priesthood other than the Melchizedek priesthood of Jesus Christ alone, and the priesthood of all believers.
I was actually referring to the icons and church traditiobs, do Calvanists believe that the Holy Communion is the literal body and blood of Christ or just symbols? Priests, elders and Bishops are mentioned in the Bible though? Mel
Our attitude is that you get to partake of the sacraments because you have been redeemed, not that you need to do the sacraments in order to be redeemed. Do you see the contrast between Grace and Law? And so the sacraments are a means of grace. We should partake of the sacraments if we have been redeemed. They are signs and seals of our regeneration in Christ.


I don't believe faith is simply consent at all. It is a fruit of the regenerative work of God, it is a gift.


Romans 8 and 9 make us aware of predestination. To you, it looks like you are making a choice. To God, you are doing what He has already foreordained. Free will assumes a moral neutrality and innate ability that the Bible says man does not possess. Man chooses evil every time. It is only by God that man ever chooses good.
So why will we be facing a judgement in the next life if everything we did was not our choice? Why are there rewards? We are also told to resist the devil in the scriptures, if you think about it if this kind of fatalism of predestination is true then none of this would make any sense, what about satan and the demons are they not destined for the lake of fire for their crimes they refuse to repent of? I heard one time a monk managed to turn a demon into an angel again in his cell, he trapped him inside with the sign of the cross and told him he would only let him go if he would sing the angelic songs that he once sang at the throne of God
 
We do not save ourselves. Christ Jesus is the one who saves us. And because He has saved us, we should walk in the same manner as He walked.


Romans 9: "It is not up to the one who wills or the one who runs but on God who has mercy."

Our humility comes from recognizing that we cannot save ourselves. Even our faith in Him is not of ourselves, that too is the gift of God.

How do the Orthodox interpret the numerous verses that make reference to God's predestination of the elect? Because you can't just handwave those verses away or give them some transparently inaccurate interpretation. They're very clear in their language and meaning, and the theme is touched upon repeatedly in both the Gospels and the Epistles. Of course we can argue and speculate as to the nature of predestination/determinism vs. free will and how both concepts seem to exist simultaneously in scripture (I believe this is one of the topics that Paul refers to about us seeing through a glass darkly - such things are essentially impossible for us to understand from our human perspective and can only be reconciled in the omniscient mind of God which exists outside of space and time entirely).

But the Bible is very clear in saying that God has predestined certain individuals to salvation. Our exact understanding of how that works will assuredly remain imperfect on this side of heaven, but paradoxically, a complete understanding and internalizing of this doctrine leads one to behave in much the opposite fashion as one might expect (it instills an overwhelming degree of humility and desire to please God, rather than being a "license to sin" as some would characterize it).

Most of all, I think it should be emphasized that no Reformed/Calvinist Christian believes in predestination simply because they prefer that doctrine or because they're looking for some kind of easy road to salvation. They believe it because it's very plainly what the Bible says. In other words, the interpretation of scripture does not follow the pre-existing doctrine, rather the doctrine is itself entirely derived from the clear teaching of scripture. Predestination did not spring out of Calvin's head sui generis. Augustine wrote about it, and it's a doctrine/theme referenced repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments. So portraying it as some kind of wacky Protestant heresy pulled out of thin air is simply absurd.
A topic like this is where we as Christians would go back and see whats the interpritation of the Church, the fathers and the saints, the church is the custodian of the truth not the individual although the individual can read thw scriptures whenever he wants he cant have a private intepretation, Iv been in the Orthodox church for 2 years and read quite a few books and gone into their teachings and I havent found them teaching predestination like this.

What about the book of revelations, its full of instructions for us to not be deceived and to ensure until the end etc
 
But isnt that a bit of a contradiction though because if people are already predestined then why try convince them with preaching to them?
Because God has ordained the ends as well as the means. Our preaching to them is just as ordained as their belief in it. If they are appointed to eternal life they will believe, as Acts says.

I was actually referring to the icons and church traditiobs, do Calvanists believe that the Holy Communion is the literal body and blood of Christ or just symbols?
Here is what Calvin said about the Eucharist:
It is a Father who testifies, "That the substance of bread and wine in the Eucharist does not cease but remains, just as the nature and substance of man remains united to the Godhead in the Lord Jesus Christ." This boundary they [Catholics] pass in pretending that, as soon as the words of our Lord are pronounced, the substance of bread and wine ceases, and is transubstantiated into body and blood.
He emphasizes the reality that the Eucharist, as a sign, points to, which is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ applied to the believer.

The Reformed believe that Christ died to save you and that He gives you the sacrament as a sign of what He has already accomplished. We don't believe Christ died to give you a sacrament that may or may not save you.

Priests, elders and Bishops are mentioned in the Bible though?
Biblically, Elders and Bishops refer to the same office. There is no priest other than Jesus Christ.

So why will we be facing a judgement in the next life if everything we did was not our choice?
You are making a choice, you are choosing to sin. If you do choose God, it is because the Holy Spirit has granted it to you. Romans 9 answers this very question:
Romans 9:18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. 19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? WILL THE THING MOLDED SAY TO THE MOLDER, “WHY DID YOU MAKE ME LIKE THIS”? 21Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 22And what if God, wanting to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath having been prepared for destruction, 23and in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory— 24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles?
A lot of people don't like this passage, but it is sinful and unfaithful to censure it. Instead, we should pray for the faith to accept it.

Iv been in the Orthodox church for 2 years and read quite a few books and gone into their teachings and I havent found them teaching predestination like this.

What about the book of revelations, its full of instructions for us to not be deceived and to ensure until the end etc
You quoted Scorpion and I both, and I'd like to see his take as well.

Predestination is a kill-shot for any works-based system, so no one is going to emphasize it other than people who are really big on Faith and Grace. We do not set God's moral imperatives He gives us against the higher theological truths that He reveals to us. We do not have a legalistic understanding of His commandments as it was in the days of the Old Testament. Rather, God has regenerated us, justified us, and empowered us to walk in the ways that please Him.
 
Because God has ordained the ends as well as the means. Our preaching to them is just as ordained as their belief in it. If they are appointed to eternal life they will believe, as Acts says.


Here is what Calvin said about the Eucharist:

He emphasizes the reality that the Eucharist, as a sign, points to, which is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ applied to the believer.

The Reformed believe that Christ died to save you and that He gives you the sacrament as a sign of what He has already accomplished. We don't believe Christ died to give you a sacrament that may or may not save you.


Biblically, Elders and Bishops refer to the same office. There is no priest other than Jesus Christ.


You are making a choice, you are choosing to sin. If you do choose God, it is because the Holy Spirit has granted it to you. Romans 9 answers this very question:

A lot of people don't like this passage, but it is sinful and unfaithful to censure it. Instead, we should pray for the faith to accept it.


You quoted Scorpion and I both, and I'd like to see his take as well.

Predestination is a kill-shot for any works-based system, so no one is going to emphasize it other than people who are really big on Faith and Grace. We do not set God's moral imperatives He gives us against the higher theological truths that He reveals to us. We do not have a legalistic understanding of His commandments as it was in the days of the Old Testament. Rather, God has regenerated us, justified us, and empowered us to walk in the ways that please Him.
Yet people believe in the gospel and at the same time people can also fall away, the great apostacy is a good example, we are also capable of falling into sin thats why confession is in the new testament to repent when we fail,regarding the Eucharist for the first 1500 years of Christianity all Christians believed that the holy communion is the literal body and blood of Christ just like it says so in the scriptures, Neither Christ nor the diciples called it bread and wine but my body and blood, its like the reverse of the tree of knowledge of good and evil which man fell by eating now we are restored by eating the Eucharist, some people have had visions into the spiritual world and have even seen angels taking a baby and cutting the child up in pieces and the people at church eating the child, thats Christ.

Priest is mentioned in the new testament, so do the calvanists have bishops over them? I think the one you are saying that is used interchangebly is the word presbeter and priest, we also have the word deacon there is a clear heirachy, for example Christ had 70-72 diciples thats the same number of elders Moses had under him to govern the people its the same thing as the old testament and in the opd testament there were temples priests and sacrements too and candles inside the temple and a priest to minister the sacrifices just like in Orthodoxy and they had vestments too and images and relics inside the temple, we obviously dont sacrifice animals those were shadows, types and symbols of Christ we partake of the Eucharist, if we look at the very old churches we see them full of iconography too, there is a monestary in Greece with a chapel inside where its said apostle Paul converted the greeks and you should have a look at the old icons painted on the walls.

it was in the 7th century where some Christians were getting this idea that icons were idolatry and king Leo banned them and killed people over it and destroyed relics, the 7th Eucumenical church council defended the icons
 
Yet people believe in the gospel and at the same time people can also fall away.
Yes, because the Spirit of God does not abide in them. Never has, never will.

Eucharist for the first 1500 years of Christianity all Christians believed that the holy communion is the literal body and blood of Christ
I just gave you a quote from Calvin referencing a Church Father showing this isn't true.

Neither Christ nor the diciples called it bread and wine but my body and blood
Matthew 26:29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
Jesus still called it wine after the Supper was over.

Priest is mentioned in the new testament,
Hebrews 10:22 so much more Jesus also has become the guarantee of a better covenant. 23 And the former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, 24but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently.
Jesus Christ hold His priesthood permanently, He does not give it up to many priests who are prevented by death from continuing.

so do the calvanists have bishops over them?
Yes. Because Titus tells us that Presbyters are the same thing as Episcopates, we have Elders/Bishops. The Monarchical Episcopacy is neither in the Bible nor in the early Church Fathers until Ignatius.

we also have the word deacon there is a clear heirachy,
There are Elders and Deacons in the Apostolic Church. The Priest is a theological development that comes later, it is a man-made tradition.

I think the one you are saying that is used interchangebly is the word presbeter and priest,
The Book of Acts proves this is false. There is a Greek word for Priest, and it isn't Presbyteros.

if we look at the very old churches we see them full of iconography too
The veneration of icons was almost universally condemned by the Early Church Fathers. The iconography was later added to earlier sites.

it was in the 7th century where some Christians were getting this idea that icons were idolatry and king Leo banned them and killed people over it and destroyed relics, the 7th Eucumenical church council defended the icons
Why the Council of Hieria is not considered Ecumenical, but 2nd Nicea is, reveals the completely arbitrary nature of what makes a council "Ecumenical." 2nd Nicea is a farcry away from 1st Nicea.
 
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