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Attempting To Answer “Irrefutable” Questions… November 18, 2010

Posted by The Prodigal Son in Uncategorized.
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(A Capture of) The Main Page of the Site in Question

 

I was referred to this website a while ago: Bible.ca

Apparently, it’s operated by the so-called ‘Churches of Christ’ (19th century Restorationist movement of Alexander Campbell and Barton Stone). They are basically just another sect of ‘Sola Scriptura’ Protestants who claim to follow the Bible only… Any other extra-Biblical traditions (aside from their own of course) are derided, and the authority of the Church from whence the Bible came is expressly denied.
Anyhow, there’s a page on that site: … Irrefutable Questions That Roman Catholics and Orthodox Can’t Answer… On that page there are 29 questions.­­
Some of them are (to me at least) virtually unintelligible… but here for your perusal are the questions followed by  my answers (to most of them anyway)…

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Question 1 – If the Roman Catholic church gave the world the Bible, being infallible, then why did Rome reject or question the inspiration of James and Hebrews , then later accept it? Conversely, Rome accepted as scripture books that were later rejected. If the Catholic church really is illuminated by the Holy Spirit so that men can trust her as ‘God’s organization’, why was she so wrong about something so simple? Should not the ‘Holy See’ have known?”

Answer 1 – The answer would be that the books are now a part of the canon so the Holy Spirit has obviously guided the Church to include them. The ‘Holy See’ has been wrong about many things and is of course not ‘infallible’ by any means.

Q2 – If the Orthodox church gave the world the Bible, being infallible, then why did the eastern churches reject or question the inspiration of Revelation, then later accept it? Conversely, the east accepted as scripture books that were later rejected. If the Orthodox church really is illuminated by the Holy Spirit so that men can trust her as ‘God’s organization’, why was she so wrong about something so simple?”

A2 – Same as above… the fact that Revelation ultimately was accepted by the Church means that the Holy Spirit guided her to do so.  Revelation is found in the Bible now because it was meant to be there.

Q3 – If the Roman Catholic church gave the world the Bible in 397 AD, then why did many different versions of canons continue to circulate long afterwards?”

A3 – There is more to it than the owner of the “Irrefutable” website seems to be aware of. To this day the Orthodox Bible contains more books and verses than R.C. or Masoretic based Protestant Bibles.

Q4 – If the Roman Catholic church gave us the Bible, why were the two synods of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage, (397 AD) African councils, and not initiatives of Rome?”

A4 – None of the Orthodox accepted councils were initiatives of Rome. The Roman Catholic Church did not “give us the Bible”… The Holy Spirit gave us the Bible through Christ’s Church. Rome was once a part of the Orthodoxy – so it would be more accurate to say that the Orthodox gave the world the Bible. Protestantism most certainly did not bring us the Bible – this much we know as well!

Q5 – Since the synod Carthage in 393 AD stated, ‘But let Church beyond sea (Rome) be consulted about confirming this canon’, does this not prove that Rome had no direct input or initiative in determining the canon.”

A5 – Short answer… Yes. There was much more to the Church than just Rome, and when Rome left the Orthodoxy in 1054 AD – the others remained (Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, etc, etc).

Q6 – Since the two synods of Hippo (393 AD) and Carthage, (397 AD) were under the control of what would later become the “orthodox church”, how can the Roman Catholic church claim they determined the Canon? Would not such a claim be more naturally due the Eastern Orthodox church?

A6 – Absolutely!

Q7 – If the Catholic church [Note from me… Read ‘Vatican’], ‘by her own inherent God given power and authority’ gave the world the Bible, why did she not get it right the first time? Why did the Roman Catholic church wait until 1546 AD in the Council of Trent, to officially add the Apocrypha to the Canon?”

A7 – (Irrelevant to Orthodoxy – Ask Rome!)…  Regardless, I would venture to say that the ongoing Salvific teachings of the Church are far more important than a solidly fixed canon of Scripture. It is not a specific Canon or an exact translation of a certain ‘version’ of Scripture that saves us… It is Jesus Christ that saves us – through the Church which He founded here on earth.

Q8 – Both Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox church leaders make the identical claim that they gave the world the Bible. If both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches make the same claim they gave the world the Bible, why do they have different books in each of their Bibles? Whose “church authority” shall we believe? Whose tradition is the one we should follow?”

A8 -Well, the Orthodox Church utilizes the Septuagint – which is the oldest Old Testament there is, so… Of course I will say that we should follow the authority of the Eastern Orthodox (more than just the Greek) Church. The Tradition we should follow is the original one. (Hint: the original Church confesses the original [un-altered] Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed!)

Q9 – Provide a single example of a doctrine that originates from an oral Apostolic Tradition that the Bible is silent about? Provide proof that this doctrinal tradition is apostolic in origin.”

A9 – Does there have to be one? I say there are none.

Q10 – Provide a single example of where inspired apostolic “oral revelation” (tradition) differed from “written” (scripture)?”

A10 – Since any oral teachings would have come from the same source as the written (namely the Apostles)… there would be no contradictions between the two.

Q11 – If you are not permitted to engage in private interpretation of the Bible, how do you know which “apostolic tradition” is correct between the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox and the Watchtower churches, for all three teach the organization alone can interpret scripture correctly, to the exclusion of individual?”

A11 – Simple… The Orthodox Tradition is the un-changed apostolic faith.

Q12 – Why did God fail to provide an inspired and infallible list of Old Testament books to Israel? Why would God suddenly provide such a list only after Israel was destroyed in 70 AD?”

A12 – God has not “failed” to provide anything! The Septuagint was translated in the third century BC – by Hebrews for the Alexandrian library.  The list of books which were eventually declared by the Pharisaic ‘rabbis’ in Jamnia  was an anti-Christian reaction. The ‘Dead Sea Scrolls’ shed much light on this issue because they predate Jamnia and show that there was conscious censorship.

Q13 – How could the Jews know that books of Kings or Isaiah were Scripture?”

A13 – Maybe it’s just me – but I don’t even understand this one.

Q14 – If the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches both believes that the scripture: “the church is the pillar and foundation of truth” means the church is protected from error then: a. Why do they teach doctrine so different that they are not even in communion with each other? b. How do you account for the vast number of documented theological errors made by the pope and the church in general?”

A14 – Easy –  Obviously, only one of them (the Orthodox) are actually correct!

Q15 – If the both the Orthodox and Catholic churches follow apostolic oral tradition exactly, how come they teach doctrine so different, that they are not even in communion with each other?”

A15 – See A14.

Q16 – Both Tertullian and Jerome gave a list of oral traditions that were not found in the Bible. (Tertullian, The crown or De Corona, ch 3-4), (Jerome, Dialogue Against the Luciferians, 8) Tertullian said of these practices that ‘without any written instrument, we maintain on the ground of tradition alone’. These include, baptizing by immersion three times, giving the one baptized a ‘drink of milk and honey’ then forbidding the person from taking a bath for a week, kneeling in Sunday mass was forbidden, and the sign of the cross was to be made on the forehead. Jerome, echoing Tertullian, said that these ‘observances of the Churches, which are due to tradition, have acquired the authority of the written law’. Why does the Catholic church not immerse thrice and allow kneeling? Why do both the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches not keep any of these traditions, with the exception of thrice immersion by the Orthodox? Why do Roman Catholic churches today have knelling rails in front of every pew? If the ‘apostolic tradition’ was to make the sign of the cross on the forehead, why do both Orthodox and Catholic churches change this to the current practice of the sign on the chest and head? If extra-biblical oral tradition is to be followed, then why don’t the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches practice all of these things?”

A16 – The author needs to learn to understand that there is Tradition and there is tradition. Orthodox still baptize by threefold immersion… Orthodox do touch the forehead when Crossing themselves… I think the Eucharist and the weightier matters of the law are more important than things like the specific methodology used to Cross one’s self. As for the little chart… are they serious?

Q17 – Why do Roman Catholics always use 2 Timothy 2:2; 3:14 as Bible proof that extra-biblical oral tradition is to be followed through apostolic succession, when tradition says Timothy became the bishop of Ephesians, which through succession, is now part of the Greek Orthodox church headed out of Constantinople? If 2 Timothy 2:2 proves succession, doesn’t this prove the Roman Catholic church is not part of that succession?”

A17 – To my knowledge, there are no R.C.s who would claim succession from Ephesus… Their own valid succession (which has  been – I believe negated by their subsequent loss of the one Apostolic faith) comes of course through Ss. Peter and Paul but nevertheless the Latin point is in fact an applicable one. At that time both Ephesus and Rome were part of the Apostolic Orthodoxy.

Q18 – When you see the word tradition, why do you always assume it to be oral tradition rather than scripture tradition, when the Bible calls scripture tradition in 2 Thess 2:15, and Athanasius call scripture tradition: ‘the Apostolic tradition teaches in the words of blessed Peter, “Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the Flesh”‘ Athanasius then quotes: 1 Peter 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb 2:1 (Athanasius, To Adelphius, Letter 60, 6)?”

A18 – This question is quite convoluted. We know that there are two types of tradition because St. Paul wrote: (paraphrasing) “Therefore brethren stand fast and hold those traditions which we (apostles) delivered to you whether in writing or in person.” It’s not hard to imagine that the apostles taught much more in the Churches in person than they did in writing. The Church in fact predates the New Testament – so obviously there were extra-Biblical teachings.

Q19 – The Church Fathers believed what Paul said in Eph 3:3-5, that the scripture could be understood by merely reading it. They indicated that the scriptures themselves were clear, so clear, they even criticized the heretics for getting it wrong. If those outside the church and common pew dwellers are unable to understand the Bible themselves as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches teach, then why did the apostolic fathers expect the heretics to understand the Bible with their own human skills? (Tertullian, The Flesh of Christ, ch 20), (Athanasius, On the Incarnation of the Word, 56), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 1, 35), (Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, Book 7, 16)”

A19 – St. Paul of course spoke of the O.T. when he spoke of “Scriptures” since the N.T. as we know it did not exist at that time.  The message was that the O.T. pointed to Christ and His Church… The New Testament points to the Church which Christ founded. The Bible is clear that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation. Christ opened the meaning of those Scriptures (the O.T.) to the apostles and the apostles passed that deposit of God-given faith and knowledge to the Church.

Q20 – If each individual possessing a copy of the scriptures is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do illiterate Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the Catholic and Orthodox Catechisms? If illiterate Catholics and Orthodox can have the Catechisms read to them, then why not the scripture?”

A20 – Again – this question makes no sense to me… Orthodox certainly do have the Scriptures read to them all year long during the Divine Liturgy! We Orthodox certainly do not espouse ‘Sola Scriptura’ but we should encourage and help all of our brothers and sisters to read, and the Bible is a wonderful way to learn!

Q21 – If universal distribution of the Bible in every home is an essential pre-condition of sola Scriptura, then how could Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the message of the Pope before the time of modern instant live communication?”

A21 – See above… We don’t believe in ‘Sola Scriptura’ – so?? If a person cannot read – then obviously the only way they can receive the Scriptures is by spoken word (which is how the majority of the Apostles teachings were passed on to us) through the Church!

Q22 – If the ability to read is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do illiterate Catholic and Orthodox pew-dwellers know the Catholic and Orthodox Catechisms? Would not the same logic apply to illiterates in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches? If Catholic and Orthodox laity can “know the truth” by hearing the catechism read to them, then why not illiterate Christians when they hear the Bible read?”

A22 – What??

Q23 – If the ability to read is an essential pre-condition to sola Scriptura, then how do the illiterate Catholic and Orthodox commoner know for certain that the priest is faithfully teaching the dogma, canons and edicts of councils if they could not read the documents?”

A23 – ???

Q24 – How do the Catholic and Orthodox commoners who can read, know for certain that the priest is faithfully teaching the dogma, canons and edicts of councils if they did not possess copies of such documents?”

A24 – Careful investigation? Joining the clergy? What is the point here?? Anyone?

Q25 – If the earliest, universal oral tradition clearly states that Paul wrote the book of Hebrews, why does the Roman Catholic church question this tradition to this day? (The Orthodox, are at least consistent in accepting this tradition, not that they are correct.)”

A25 – I’m starting to feel obtuse here! Once more I fail to grasp the relevance of this question. Who is he/she to say whether or not  St. Paul (or one of his scribes) authored the letter to the Hebrews? If the Church (which St. Paul had a large part in founding) says that St. Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews… then why should we doubt that? In any case – does our salvation depend on whether Hebrews was written by St. Paul or not?!?

Q26 – Name one sure way or method, that a new believer in Christ, can know that the Orthodox church is the one true church. (The challenge: make sure this method cannot apply also to the Roman Catholic church.)”

A26 – My answer would be: the Roman Catholics do not represent the one true Church… The Eastern Orthodox do! How can one know for sure? Study Church history – then visit an Orthodox Church and experience it yourself! Most importantly, speak to the Priest… the answers are there for any who are willing to ask.

Q27 – Name one sure way or method, that a new believer in Christ, can know that the Roman Catholic church is the one true church. (The challenge: make sure this method cannot apply also to the Orthodox church.)”

A27 – See above.

Q28 – If the personal illumination of the Holy Spirit upon each believer to understand the Bible is not a valid method of determining truth because of the many denominations that use this approach, then does it not follow that apostolic succession and oral church traditions are likewise invalid because the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches are two denominations that use this method yet are divided on doctrine? Does this not prove both methods are wrong and a third method, one which we and the apostolic church practiced must be the correct method?”

A28 – Obviously one faith/tradition is the real deal and one has been made up and modified over time. An honest, unbiased examination of Church history will demonstrate which is which.

Q29 – If sola Scriptura cannot be the correct method of determining truth because of the religious division among churches that claim to use sola Scriptura, then does this not also disqualify the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches method of using tradition, since they are divided against themselves?”

A29 – Tradition must be based upon the truth. There is after all, only one truth!

The Orthodox do not say that we are “divided against” ourselves when it comes to our relationship with the Vatican… we say that Rome left the Orthodoxy in the year 1054 – after unilaterally altering the very creed of Christianity.

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Christ and the First Leaders of His Church

I know there are others out there more capable than myself who will tear this list of “Irrefutable Questions” to shreds… but that’s a good start I think (for the ones I was able to comprehend anyhow). If anyone else wants to take a stab at filling in the blanks or expanding on what I’ve presented here (or would like to attempt to refute it)… please feel free.

†IC XC†

†NI KA†

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