26 January 2009

"Silence of the Apostles"

Several bloggers within the Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox faith have similar posts challenging the Protestant notion of tradition and history. Since I am a protestant I have delineated the issue farther out to the Radical Reformers...[cough, deFORMERS].

This came to my mind while preparing the next post on Blessed Saint Ignatius of Antioch, Bishop and Martyr for our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. It is a serious challenge too. I really want to know how a convinced Baptist/Presbyterian scholar [or any Christian that operates outside of the Apostolic Tradition] deals with the question. Here's the question.

If the Incarnation of Jesus Christ began the new Humanity into which we are all Baptised, and if the Son of God succeeded in His promise of granting the Church and the Apostles His gift of the Holy Ghost, and if the missionary activity of the Apostles and their disciples is in fact evidence of the Lord expanding His Kingdom and His Church [I'm trying not to be prolix]...
then when and HOW did they botch the job thereby losing the 'true' teaching of Scripture somehow recovered during the reformation?

If they did not lose it, then why should anyone remain separated from the Body for which Jesus died, and which Body is the mystical company of those that have kept the Apostolic Tradition of Sacraments, creeds, three-fold orders under the Bishop, and liturgical fidelity [to name a few]?

Yes, I am reading Pelikan's The Vindication of Tradition.

1 comment:

Richard Naff said...

I'll be interested in whatever worthy responses you get from non-Apostolic Christians. I'll hazard my own guesses, though, from personal observation in so many churches over so many years:

1. There's the "You ain't us, therefore you is wrong" mentality taken to the nth degree. I think you know primarily which denomination I speak of: The one whose weekly sermon is usually either shaming people into serving on more church committees or finding any other "group" of people and telling the congregation why that "group" is wrong and we shouldn't be like them. If "they is wrong" and "we is right" there isn't any need to even consider your question. The Apostolic Tradition is simply wrong. You phrased the question wrong. It isn't this denomination that is wrong, it's Deacon Chris who's wrong because he didn't get the question right.

2. Then there's the "swing the pendulum too far back the other way" folks. These are the ones who reacted to the wrongs being perpetrated in the RCC at the time and decided to become Free Agents (or Fundamentalists, as I understand the term in formal doctrinal studies). They are the "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no stinkin' badges!" folks. They overreacted and, to mix yet another metaphore (I'm very good at that), they threw the baby out with the bathwater.

I think I've mentioned to you that I'm "reformed" back to the 4th century. I'd like to be the Fundamentalist. I'd like to rid the church of "baggage" as I call it. By this, I mean the man-made inventions of doctrine. Things Jesus never said but we humans came up with on our own. These doctrines I deplore are the ones that answer the queston, "How does it work?" Such as, attempting to answer how Baptism works. Or how the Lord's Supper works. Or how the afterlife works. Etc. Jesus never told us these things. He simply described them and told us to do them. That's enough for me. I don't need to know "how" it works. I know what, and I know why (because Jesus said so), and that's all I need to know. But most people need an explanation before they'll buy into anything, so over 2000 years we've managed to come up with thounsands of versions as to "How it works." I'd just as soon drop these kinds of doctrine as they seem to be the ones that keep us divided.

I cannot, however, deny the need for the church as an entity to hold the line on Tradition and proper understanding of Scripture. I cannot dismiss the need for elders (no matter what you call them) who are responsible in a hierarchical fashion for teaching and maintaining that Tradition. For without that overseeing body, we degrade into "Roll Your Own Christianity" that justifies our own sins and makes us feel good about ourselves.

I suppose there's a 3rd group, too, who are simply the lukewarm. They go to Church X because someone in their family goes there, but otherwise they'd prefer to stay home and watch TV. They are the "I've been Baptized, you mean I gotta do more?!?!?!?" folks. They don't care what they are taught because they usually aren't listening. They go to church to fellowship, not to give Glory to the Creator and Lord. They don't listen to any teachings except when they've been challenged, then they go to their minister and ask "Why are we right when we say...?"

But let's be fair. That 3rd group also includes those in the Apostolic Tradition, too. It includes MOST Christians, at least in Western societies. So I'm not sure it's fair to attribute this third group to the non-Apostolic Chrisitans as a defense for their rejection of the church catholic. Most in this group are simply parroting sound bites: The catholic church is wrong because they heard that somewhere. But the other side of the coin is, there are huge numbers of catholics who say the non-Apostolic Christian are wring because--you guessed it--they heard it somewhere.

Yeah. And I heard in the 70s that Jerry Mathers was killed in Vietnam. Funny how he was reincarnated to star in the 90s show, "Leave it to Beaver, Again."