So over at another blog page (one much bigger than mine) there seems to be a battle between a few Catholic types, Orthodox types (though I guess these two are somewhat similar) and Protestant types over the “true church”, scripture and all that stuff. Important stuff, to be sure, but maybe a bit more over my head at the moment. I must admit I have done little study into Catholicism or Orthodoxy, myself being considered a non-denomination protestant (I guess, I just want to follow Jesus, really).

Part of the argument is that the Orthodoxy has had, for centuries, a clear cut vision of what scripture is and means, with rigid control by those in charge, while Protestants are kind of all over the place, with every man interpreting scripture in his own way, which has lead to confusion.

I have to admit that I agree with this sentiment. In fact, while doing a little bit of research this morning on the orthodox church I came across this page at http://www.gotquestions.org on “What is the Eastern Orthodox Church”. One of the links goes to this page on “How Should a Christian View Tradition” and some of the text there causes me concern:

Scripture has layers of meaning. The more we delve into God’s Word, the more we learn about God, and it often upsets our own ideas. Just when we think we have things figured out and we are certain that we are theologically, morally, and socially right about it all, we uncover another layer that shatters those confidences. When we cling to tradition—whether denominational, theological, or structural—as if it were God’s Word, we keep the door closed on God’s revelation of truth to us. He wants to keep surprising us with Who He is as we continue to pursue Him (Jeremiah 29:13). But religious tradition is often in the way. “That’s not how we’ve always done it,” is the battle cry of the traditionalists. Breaking tradition can be uncomfortable for many, just as it was for the Pharisees (Matthew 5:33–34; Luke 6:26–27). But when we can clearly see the dividing line between our own traditions and God’s truth, we stay humble and pliable as God continues to transform us into the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

This “scripture has layers of meaning” is one of the things I have been taking issue with over the past year or so because what it does is cause cracks in the body of Christ, as everyone suddenly has their own translation of what their “layer of meaning” is. The bible says God is not a God of confusion, so then if this is the case, why would He continually confuse us by “surprising us” with Who He is in layers? We may get to know Him better, but do we really think that a God who is not about confusion (remember, “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” and “…let him ask in faith. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed”) would suddenly toss our world on its head with a new “revelation”? Its like living with your spouse for 20 years when they suddenly reveal they have a second head! Its one thing to live with them and to grow in understanding and knowledge of who they are, its another thing for them to “reveal” something unknown about themselves, which causes confusion.

I can’t understand why the word “tradition” is such a bad thing for protestants. Certainly the bible talks little good about the traditions of the Pharisees, but I thought it was well understood that the tradition they were peddling was not the traditions put in place by the actual Law at all, but traditions of their own making that they enforced as much as, or more than, the Law itself. Jesus railed them for it, quoting to them fro Isaiah:

Isaiah 29:

“13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:”

Jesus was telling them “Your teaching the laws of men as the laws of God”, and it was unacceptable!

Paul said the church had no tradition but this: That women cover their heads when they pray and prophesy:

1 Corinthians:

 

13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

I have read that v16 translates as “we have no other customs, neither do any of the other churches of God”. The King James study bible notes read:

We have no such custom: In other words, there is no other precedent. To violate this principle is to go against a standard that is maintained in every church known to Paul.

However, despite this, there is a reason why traditional reading and understanding of SCRIPTURE is important and is, in fact, the very foundation of a church! This is where the orthodoxy has it all over us! Traditional understanding of scripture ensures that everyone, everywhere has the same understanding of what the scripture means. If you don’t adhere to that understanding, don’t call yourself part of group ‘x’. And since scripture proves scripture it should be of little difficulty to determine what the traditional reading and understanding of scripture is! In fact, we have 2000+ years of previous church (give or take a few hundred years) to verify against!

Do you think women can be pastors? Well, the bible says ‘no’, and the last 2k+ years of the church have had zero women pastors up until the last 50-60 years. Since God hasn’t sent any prophets to declare He has changed scripture, the ban on women pastors stands!

This, however, is where orthodoxy, I think, starts to have its own issues. Since they rely on the inerrancy of the pope and other church officials who can add exceptions or modifications to how scripture works, it only takes one bad egg to spoil the bunch for years and years. In reading about the ’96 theses’ yesterday on what I now know as being ‘Reformation day’ I found it difficult to understand how the Catholic church could glean from scripture that a man can buy his or another persons way out of hell, even after they had died, and could understand why Martin Luther had some serious misgivings about the idea of the selling of indulgences. That being said, I still don’t know enough about the orthodoxy to go into great detail about it.

I think the Catholics and Orthodox in the argument had a great deal of weight with their confusion argument, as Protestants have differing beliefs from church to church, which can literally mean from street corner to street corner. This leads to churches like the ones I described in my last post: Churches that believe in the godhood of Jesus Christ and believe that through Him alone can mankind obtain salvation, but completely flop on every other issue. Can Christians drink alcohol? Yes from one church, no from another! Do women have to cover their heads in the church? Yes from one church, no from another! This not only causes confusion, but it gives certain people the ability to “church shop” until they find a church where the doctrine matches their lifestyle rather than changing their lifestyle to the doctrine!

Its little wonder, with confusion like this going on, that non-Christians go to a church and then never return. I mean, really, churches aren’t places for the unsaved anyway. The church is the body of Christ and those who are not of the body shouldn’t be in there long term unless they become the body of Christ, but a non-Christian sitting in a church is going to be very confused at the things being said (the gospel is foolishness to those who are unsaved) and one who has been to more than one church might be SUPER confused over conflicting doctrines!

This has been on my mind a lot lately, as it has been one of the key factors in my continued issues with my wife, my father and even a few other Christians. In fact, until my uncle backed me up on women not teaching from the pulpit my dad was of the mind that it was fine as long as a woman taught under the instruction of a male pastor. He argued with my view that scripture flat out says women should not be teaching from the pulpit and disagreed with me until he and his brother talked it over and his brother (my uncle) said “yeah, scripture is clear on that, and no, women should not teach from the pulpit”. Despite his change of heart my father would still take umbrage with my stance that women should not be teaching scripture AT ALL according to the bible. Not to other women, not to children, not at all. Sharing the gospel, yes, espousing scripture, no.

Anyway, just another something that has been on my mind lately. Feel free to chime in and agree, disagree or call me a moron, just do it politely. Thanks.