Tag Archives: Protestant churces

The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part II: Traditions, Scriptures and the Council

For the first part: The Apostasy that Wasn’t Part I: The Council and the Martyrs

Traditions, Scriptures and the Council

Rod Bennett shines a bright light on the role of tradition, biblical interpretation and orthodoxy. Biblical interpretation and tradition were at the heart of the dispute between the Catholic understanding of the divinity of Chris and that claims made by a priest named Arius who posited that the Son of God was a created being, albeit with all the attributes of God the Father. A common refrain of the Arians was: “there was a time when the Son of God was not”. Today heirs of the Arian heresy can be found in groups like the Jehovah Witness and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. This is only to the extent that both groups assert that Jesus is a created being. Bennett points out that both camps were well equipped with biblical passages to argue in favor of their respective positions. However, the Arians were introducing novel biblical interpretations to substantiate their positions. Interpretations that directly opposed the traditions that have been taught by the Church since apostolic times:

“What was that tradition? It might well be described simply as stubbornness: a tradition of stolid, donkey-like stubbornness born out of humility and fear of God. There was a list, that’s all-an unwritten list of four rock–solid facts of our Faith, handed down by the saints gone before us. And the list- well, the list was the list:

1. That the Father is God;
2. That Jesus, his Son, is also God;
3. That Father and Son are not, however mere names but real personalities who can
relate not only to us but to one another;

4. Yet there is only one God”.

Rod Bennett
The Apostasy that Wasn’t

It is important to remember that during the time of the Arian heresy there was no theological treaty that harmonizes a philosophical argument with the gospel teachings about the Holy Trinity. As a matter of fact the word ‘trinity’ was not even common in the lexicon of the council’s father neither did it appear in the bible. Instead the early Church faithfully relied on the traditions taught by the Apostles, as St. Paul urged them in 2 Thessalonians 2:15:

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

It is clear from the writings of the early disciples of the Apostles that the Church universally proclaimed the divinity of Christ, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, the regenerative nature of baptism, and the authority of the Bishop. It was precisely this stubborn faithfulness of the early Church that preserved the teachings of the Apostles against many unorthodox teachings that disputed the nature of the Divinity of Christ, way before Arius was preaching his views. Gnostic for example, claiming that matter is evil and thereby denied that Jesus was truly man, whereas Sabellianism taught that Jesus and God the Father were not distinct person but two aspects of the same person. As with Arianism the Church stood firm against these heresies.

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This juxtaposition between scripture and tradition evident in the Arian controversy is reminiscent of today’s theological disputes between Catholics and some Protestants. Is the “bible alone” necessary and sufficient to resolve matters of faith or as Jesus said in Matthew 18:17-18, it is the Church that ultimately has that authority? The Church assembled in the council composed of an estimated 300 bishops from around the know-world resoundingly affirmed the gospel as taught by the Church since apostolic times.

The declaration of Arianism as a heresy is not an indictment against the development of doctrine or theological speculations, but an indictment against a world view that divorce scriptures from its apostolic traditions. One that puts in perils the teaching of the Apostle Paul:

“Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours”.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

The First Council Of Nicaea and the Nicene Creed

The Church gathers at Nicaea universally reaffirmed the divinity of Christ except for two holdup Theonas of Marmarica and Secundus of Ptolemais who were anathematized. The council condemned the Arian heresy and gave us part of the Nicene Creed, which is professed by many Christians churches around the world.

As Theodoret writes in his Ecclesiastical History, the council’s father represented an army of martyrs. These were the stoics Christians who survived the blunt of the Diocletian persecution and bore in their bodies the sign of the Cross. They were a living witness for Christ and for his Church. Are we willing to bear the same witness today?

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten of the Father, that is, of the substance [ek tes ousias] of the Father, God of God, light of light, true God of true God, begotten not made, of the same substance with the Father [homoousion to patri], through whom all things were made both in heaven and on earth; who for us men and our salvation descended, was incarnate, and was made man, suffered and rose again the third day, ascended into heaven and cometh to judge the living and the dead. And in the Holy Ghost. Those who say: There was a time when He was not, and He was not before He was begotten; and that He was made out of nothing (ex ouk onton); or who maintain that He is of another hypostasis or another substance [than the Father], or that the Son of God is created, or mutable, or subject to change, [them] the Catholic Church anathematizes”.

  Nicaea_icon

Lets remind the world what marriage is…

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In the mist of the sexual revolution Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical letter titled Humanae Vitae to address moral issues facing the church about marriage, sexuality and moral law. It was a beacon of light and clarity in a much confused and troubled time. It was also a prophetic text that has been maligned and ridiculed by those who opposed its content.

Humane Vitae directly addresses the issue contraception among      married couples. It states that contraceptive acts are against natural and divine law and reaffirms the institutional foundation of marriage as the union between a husband and a wife for their own benefit and the rearing of new life:

“Marriage, then, is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives”.

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Contraception frustrates the total act of unconditional self-giving between a husband and a wife by divorcing the conjugal act from procreation. This ultimately reduces the conjugal act to a mere instrument of self-gratification between couples thereby eroding the unitive foundation of marriage. This erosion has directly led to devaluation of marriage to a commodity. This is clearly reflected by the normalization of sex outside marriage, the advent of no fault divorce laws, and the advocacy to redefine marriage as the legal union of two consenting adults irrespective of their sexes.

The advent of “same sex marriage” partly grew out of a vacuum left by the erosion of marriage as an institution and the rise of relativism. The re-definition of marriage as a “bond of love” rather than total self-giving union between a husband and a wife for the upbringing of children depreciates its value and relevance. If marriage is just a union between people who love each other then why not polygamous marriage or marriage between siblings? After all love is love!

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Pope Paul VI warned the world about the adverse consequences of contraception on moral values, life, womanhood and marriage. No other document of its time has so accurately predicted today’s culture but at the time such warnings were met with outright mockery. Many contemporary evangelicals and some Catholics argued that the used of contraception was intended for married couples to “judicially” space their children, nothing more and the idea of handling contraception to six graders was viewed as delusional and reactionary. Today calling “same sex marriage” as the dissolution of marriage as an institution is met with mockery or outright moral indignation but history will look back as the pinnacle of the sexual revolution and the abolishment of a social construct design to reinforce a patriarchal hierarchy.

As the words of Humanae Vitae become true today it is time to remind the world what marriage really is: a total self-giving of a husband and a wife with an unconditional openness to life for the greater good of the fruit of that union, mainly children.


HUMANAE VITAE

ENCYCLICAL LETTER 
HUMANAE VITAE 
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
 PAUL VI 
TO HIS VENERABLE BROTHERS 
THE PATRIARCHS, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS 
AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES 
IN PEACE AND COMMUNION WITH THE APOSTOLIC SEE, 
TO THE CLERGY AND FAITHFUL OF THE WHOLE CATHOLIC WORLD, AND TO ALL MEN OF GOOD WILL,
ON THE REGULATION OF BIRTH

Honored Brothers and Dear Sons, 
Health and Apostolic Benediction.

The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships.

The fulfillment of this duty has always posed problems to the conscience of married people, but the recent course of human society and the concomitant changes have provoked new questions. The Church cannot ignore these questions, for they concern matters intimately connected with the life and happiness of human beings.

To continue reading click here: Humanae Vitae