So, I’ve been listening to this podcast http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/orthodoxyheterodoxy . Lately I have had a lot of questions about the roots of my faith and have decided to deeply explore the schism within the Church which has led to denominationalism, the arguments of humanists against Christianity and Christianities rebuttal of same, and the roots of the Holy Canon. Needless to say, that is quite a broad field of study, but as I come to certain conclusions, I will put them here.
The second in the series of podcasts deals with Sola Scriptura mainly. As an Orthodox priest, the speaker adds to the Scripture the traditions of the Orthodox Church. He made some very convincing arguments against Sola Scripture, including that it violates its own prime principal in that no where within the canon of Scripture does it explicitly state that the sole source of divine instruction is to be found within the scriptures. Also, it is quite clear historically that the early Church got along just fine for over 350 years without a specific canon of scripture.
This leads me to conclude that Sola Scriptura, the idea that the Holy Bible as we now know it, is not the SOLE source for answering questions about God. That doesn’t mean that I accept that Orthodox, or any other, set of traditions is the Holy Grail either. Rather, what do all the major Christian sects have in common on this question? The efficacy of the Holy Spirit.
It seems to me that Orthodox/Catholic and Protestant groups agree whole heartedly that Scripture must be illumed to humanity through the office of the Holy Spirit. Orthodox/Catholic accept that the traditions of their branches are the result of the work of the Holy Spirit giving good council to reverent men, who have worked to the best of their ability to answer questions that the Bible is not explicit on.
Protestants prefer to believe that each of us, individually, working within our personal relationships with the Holy Spirit, find the answers to those questions on our own.
Reminds me of the quote from The Patriot “Why should I trade 1 tyrant a thousand miles away for 1000 tyrants one mile away”. Either way, he ends up with a tyrant.
What else are the various Ecumenical Councils except individual men, led by the Spirit worked out in their life, agreeing on certain principals from which traditions have sprung? Where those councils have been in error, such as with indulgences, those errors have been worked out. Are the councils, historically, any more likely to be in error or error free than any individual sincerely seeking the will of God?
I like this line of thought, because it is unifying. One of the clear statements of the New Testament was that Jesus did not come to start a religious movement or a denomination, He came to save individuals and to found a family that would look after each other. He personally admonished us to be of like mind. I can accept, if not personally feel inclined towards, the traditions that others hold dear. In the same way, I ask they accept my own convictions of conscience. Both of us are most likely off azimuth from the true Will of God in some respects and it is in the working out of that faith that we grow the most in our love of God and brotherhood with each other.