As you might have guessed from some of my previous posts, I have been reading some books about the Eastern Orthodox Church. It has been really cool and challenging to wade through their theology and literature.
When I say, “their literature” – I mean books written by them, and not book written about them.
This is an important point as I have found that most books written about a particular branch of Christianity is typically slated in favor of the writer, who is usually not part of that particular branch. Books written by Orthodox priests and/or believers, on the other hand, usually gives one a good inside look into that branch of Christianity.
I acquired several of these “insider” books by accident last year while on the way to South America. During our lay over in LA, we had lunch in a hotel next to the airport – which just so happened to be hosting an Eastern Orthodox leaders conference. Being myself, I struck up a conversation with some of the priests and before I knew it they were giving me a bunch of books and telling everyone that I was “close”. 😛
Anyway, onward to the book at hand – well, perhaps “book” is too strong of a word as it is more like a pamphlet (it is only 35 pages). 😕
Yet, it is packed full of information! Father Nicozisin starts off with a history of Christianity, laying the foundation for the historical claim of the Orthodox Church. A claim that is true – they are the “oldest” church, seeing how everyone else split off from them.
After laying the foundation, Father Nicozisin goes to discuss the “Objections Protestants Make Against Orthodox” and “The Bible in the Orthodox Church” before ending with a selection about “The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.” I must pause for a moment and let you know that while the information is good, Father Nicozisin writing style is pretty terrible… personally, I’m not sure how this pamphlet made it through the editing room!!
The one selection I enjoyed the most was about the Bible. Father Nicozisin quickly touches on the major position on interpreting the Bible:
- Roman Catholic position – Papal Authority determines the interpretation and understanding of both Scripture and Tradition
- Lutheran Position – God speaks directly to the heart of the believer through Written Scripture. Therefore, neither Ecclesiastical Authority nor Tradition is necessary to interpret Scripture and understand the teachings of Jesus Christ.
- Calvinist Position – He (John Calvin) alleges that the Truth of Scripture is evident in Scripture itself and that the hermeneutical usefulness of Church Authority and Church Tradition is superseded by the World of God (Scripture).
- Orthodox Christian Position – The Church, then, being in perfect harmony and unity with these four elements (Apostolic Teaching before the Written Scripture, Written Scriptures themselves, the oral and written teachings of the Apostolic Fathers, and the Authority of the Church) is the source of Divine Revelation and Divine Truth. One element cannot be separated from the other. One element cannot be in contradiction with any of the other. One element cannot assume authority apart from the other(s).
I don’t know about you, but I think there is something to be said for balancing the interpretation of the Bible with the teachings of the Apostolic Fathers and Tradition…
I mean, ever since the Sola Scriptura movement of the 1500’s hundreds there has been a billion different views on the Bible!! Prior to that, most of the church was in agreement – well, at least for the first 1000 years. Things broke down in 1051 AD with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox split. 😕