New Wineskins: A Thought Experiment on Sola Scriptura and the Historical Argument, Part 3

Another explanation for what happened

Here’s how I’ve got it figured –

1. Yes, Paul certainly created a body of oral teaching. So did Jesus, who wrote nothing for us himself. Rather, he left it to his apostles to remember and write down his teachings.

2. The New Testament, as we know it, wasn’t available as a compiled work for generations after the apostles. Some congregations would have had some of the books, but in the early years, none had them all. The Synoptic Gospels were likely not written until around 60 AD, very late in the life of the apostles who were still living.

3. Therefore, there was a time when the oral teachings of Jesus and his apostles is all that the church had. These are the “traditions” which Paul mentions.

4. When Paul refers to his own teachings as “traditions,” his language is a little ironic. He is saying that his words are the true oral tradition, not the oral tradition that his Jewish readers learned from the rabbis. He is intentionally replacing the oral law with his own teachings. You see, the Jews considered the oral law as an essential supplement to the Tanakh (Hebrew BIble) –

As the Jewish Encyclopedia says,

The existence of an oral law was deduced, furthermore, from the character of the written law as well as of the other books of the Old Testament. Many of the Mosaic laws are worded very briefly, and are almost unintelligible without certain presuppositions which were assumed to be generally held; and some of the laws even contradict each other, e.g., Ex. xiii. 6 and Deut. xvi. 8 (comp. Mek., Bo, 17 [ed. Weiss, p. 25a]). If the written Torah is regarded as a complete code, it must be assumed that on certain points of some of the laws the people received instruction supplementing the Pentateuch itself, so that the written law might be put into a brief form.

In short, unlike the oral law taught by the rabbis, the “traditions” of the apostles were the true necessary supplement to the Law and the rest of the Old Testament. Yes, the Tanakh can be inscrutable without a supplemental explanation, but the true explanation — the true supplement — are the traditions of the apostles. They are what complete and explain the Tanakh! And while the oral law of the rabbis wasn’t truly binding, the tradition of the apostles, being the true tradition, is.

In very typically Pauline fashion, he was taking a concept familiar to his Jewish readers and re-interpreting it in Christian terms. The oral teachings of the rabbis were being replaced with the oral teachings of the apostles.

5. Of course, the apostles did write their teachings down. The lessons taught by Jesus are found in the Gospels. For decades these were passed along in oral form, but late in their lives, the apostles saw that their remembrances of Jesus were written. Just so, Paul wrote a massive body of epistles, including such works as Romans and Ephesians, that compile his theology and pastoral counsel in systematic form.

6. There is no evidence of consequence that there was some tradition beyond what is preserved in the New Testament. Indeed, the evidence is that many in the church found the New Testament inadequate and so invented works falsely attributed to the apostles to “fill in the blanks” and complete the silences.

The authors of these works may well have understood what they wrote to be apostolic, but that’s the nature of human institutions. We can’t help but create traditions that bind us, even when the founders never meant for that to happen. It’s human nature. And we often attribute our preferred way of doing things to the founders of our institution.

The 20th Century Churches of Christ claim that their divisive teachings can be traced back to Barton W. Stone and the Campbells, even thoough these men taught the opposite! And this was 200 or fewer years ago, with their writings well preserved and easily available! It’s human nature to just assume that what is surely right was taught by the founders.

Similarly, today it’s unthinkable to add food to the Lord’s Supper — clearly doctrinal error! — even though the early church regularly took communion as part of the love feast, combining the communion with a common meal. We attribute our refusal to eat a leg of lamb with the elements of communion to apostolic instruction. And the early church attributed their combining of communion with a meal to apostolic instruction. We like the comfort of having a rule, and since we just know the rule is right, it is surely apostolic. People like rules, because rules are easy and comfortable.

Conclusion

If the apostles created an oral tradition that would supplement and improve on scripture, the church failed to preserve it. And there’s precious little real evidence that it happened. Indeed, the strongest evidence is that the early church often made such things up, to defend their traditions. Just like us.

It’s unimaginable that there’d have been some sort of oral law handed down by the apostles that wasn’t preserved as a precious teaching, memorized word-for-word, and passed on generation to generation — with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make certain that this teaching would be preserved forever.

It’s inconceivable that such a body of teaching existed and that the only way we can find it is by exegeting Clement of Alexandria and Chrysostom, who wrote centuries after the apostles. Indeed, if we’d take the time to read these men, we’d quickly realize how very unlikely they are to have had access to some secret learning no longer available to us.

I don’t reckon myself an expert in the Early Church Fathers. (I’m much more interested in the scriptures!) I’ve likely overlooked some other documents that claim to be apostolic traditions. And I’m sure there are other  writings where the writer mentions that what he is saying is supported by ancient apostolic tradition.

But a claim that a given tradition was taught by the apostles and preserved by the church is very suspect if the apostle didn’t make a point of having that teaching memorized and preserved for future generations. After all, that’s the way First Century Jews preserved their oral traditions.

If the apostle John wanted the Five Acts of Worship preserved for generations as a command from God Almighty, and if he didn’t want to write it down, he’d have had his disciples memorize the instructions and pass those memorized instructions on to their disciples word for word — forever. Not only was that the Jewish way, it’s the only way that gives inspired utterances and God’s own instructions the dignity and importance they deserve.

Therefore, I remain persuaded that sola scriptura is the only theology that gives proper respect to the scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s work in preserving them. The scriptures are true, inspired, and sufficient. And one reason we know that is the Spirit has preserved them for us across 2,000 years of persecution and corruption. And so I reject the theory that the apostles left anything unwritten to supplement the scriptures — because the Spirit did not preserve an oral tradition for us. And the fact that many early Christians falsely claim to have had such an oral tradition demonstrates just how easily that false claim was made in those days. Such claims carry no weight.

Therefore, the historical argument — that the necessity of a cappella singing is shown by history — carries no weight. It’s interesting to ponder whether the early church really was a cappella, and if so, why. But the Bible stands on its own entirely sufficient feet. The apostles wrote what the Spirit intended to have preserved. The scriptures are enough. And if the argument can’t be won from the pages of the Bible, it can’t be won.

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45 Responses to New Wineskins: A Thought Experiment on Sola Scriptura and the Historical Argument, Part 3

  1. Alan says:

    Amen. After having sent his Son to die as an atoning sacrifice for our sins, and raising him from the dead, God didn't leave it to chance that we would receive the essential message and instructions about how we should appropriately respond. What has been preserved through 2000 years is exactly what God chose to have preserved.

  2. "Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things." 2 Peter 1:12 – 15

    Here Peter says he is doing exactly what Jay in this article suggests the apostles did with their teachings. Other cases can also be cited.

    For some time, I have been convinced that the historic argument against instrumental music in worship is the best argument – while also recognizing that it is extra-Biblical. As such, it should carry little or no weight with a people who are committed to going back to the Bible as the sole authority.

    Jerry

  3. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    (1) Can you please compare/contrast Sola Scriptura and Solo Scriptura? Many here don't know the difference, though they practice one while thinking it’s the other.

  4. HistoryGuy says:

    Gentlemen,
    I am disappointed that the term “legalism” has been tossed around so easily and applied to anyone searching for right doctrine. Dr. Jack Cottrell, an IM advocate and friend, has written extensively on grace. He says, grace sets us free from a law system of salvation, but still requires us to desire the truth and obey God… grace does not liberate one to do anything they want in life or worship. – Perhaps Jack is considered a legalist on here as well?

  5. steve says:

    The New Testament didn't coalesce into its present form until fairly late. So, it makes sense to understand the thoughts and motives of those who chose it for us. To understand them, we also need to know their competitors and what they wrote. My conclusion, the range of what it is to be and think as a Christian can be widened considerably.

  6. HistoryGuy says:

    the historical argument — that the necessity of a cappella singing is shown by history…The scriptures are enough. And if the argument can’t be won from the pages of the Bible, it can’t be won

    Jay,
    The historical argument (properly defined) is supplemental to Sola Scriptura, as a test for ones hermeneutic. The rub has not been authority of Scripture, rather the authority of what one believes about his own interpretation. When somebody arrives at a conclusion regarding any topic, which virtually all Patristic and Reformation leaders universally opposed, though spanning 2 millennia and using completely different hermeneutics, that person should question their own interpretation, not the entire face of church history.

    I am not talking about divergences from Scripture in limited ages or cultures; rather I am talking about practices originating from the apostolic church and being universally practiced regardless of time, culture, hermeneutics, and personal preference. When one stands opposed to such a great testimony of church history, he places his own interpretation authority over the mass of others equally committed to authority of the Scriptures and finds himself guilty of Solo Scriptura, not Sola Scriptura.

    I entered the conversation when several people attempted to use church history as proof of their interpretation, though history and scholars were misquoted and the lay historian relied upon his own interpretation of history. The subsequent conversations addressed the accuracies of history, scholarly evidence, and never entered the realm of Scriptural arguments in favor of a cappella. It is my belief that if a lay historian or lay theologian cannot accept the scholarly consensus of history, then discussing hermeneutics and theology would be even less productive.

    grace and peace,

  7. aBasnar says:

    It’s unimaginable that there’d have been some sort of oral law handed down by the apostles that wasn’t preserved as a precious teaching, memorized word-for-word, and passed on generation to generation — with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make certain that this teaching would be preserved forever.

    I tend to agree, but with two or three remarks:

    a) Most letters were (on Paul's said) never intended to be written. Circumstances made him write which otherwise was already well established in the churches.
    b) So everything he mentions in the letters is backed up and amplified by the life and practice of all churches following the teachings of all apostles (not only those few of them that wrote a part of the NT).
    c) This means, that even sunjects that are only hinted to or are mentioned only once (some tend to dismiss these as "minors") become weighty in the light of the full teaching of the apostles.

    So, yes – we can agree on "Sola Scriptura" in that sense, that really everything in the NT is very important and backed up by their oral teaching as well.

    BUT this means also: For the first listeners everything was clear in these letters, because everything was embedded in what they already heard. Example:

    The headcovering in ambiguous to us in many ways:
    a) Was it merely a Corinthian custom?
    b) Did apply only to married women?
    c) Did Paul mean, long hair was the covering?
    d) How should the covering be exactly: A cloth, a hat, …?

    All of these questions were no questions at all for the original readers – BUT WE HAVE ENDELESS DEABATES AND WRITE HUNDREDS OF BOOKS ABOUT IT! Why? Because we lack the oral teaching onto which the letters build! Is this so difficult to see?

    That's what I mean: If we read the ECF, we see questions as these clarified. Tertullian, once unsure about the veiling of virgins, asked the Corinthians of his time about their understanding, because he figured that Paul would have taught more on the subject there because of the weaknesses there.

    This does make sense, and in this sense the ECF are really indispensable! It is not about having an extra biblical source of authority, but about how the NT was understood originally. It is not about a "Talmudic" understanding of tradition, and if you read the ECF honestly, they did not have such an understanding either. They all said the NT was their final source of authority – as vigorously as we do!

    Therefore, I remain persuaded that sola scriptura is the only theology that gives proper respect to the scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s work in preserving them. The scriptures are true, inspired, and sufficient.

    The questions on headcovering are just one example among many others. And, yes 1Co 11:2-16 is true, inspired, sufficient … and neither understood nor obeyed by the majority of "Sola Scritputra-Churches" today.

    You mentioned the disagreements on eating or non eating the Lord#s Supper as a full meal. I's also funny that we base the frequency of the Lord's Supper on exactly ONE SINGLE verse (Acts 20:7)

    I pointed to fasting as a spiritual discipline almost totally forgotten among us in response to your (seemingly) belittling apostolic tradition – and I see all kinds of helpless attempts top speak about such today in a wave of "new spirituality" which has very little in common wth the original practice of the churches of Christ (2nd century).

    See, how this "Sola Scriptura" approach does NOT work? I could make a very long list like this …

    Therefore, the historical argument — that the necessity of a cappella singing is shown by history — carries no weight.

    And there is only ONE reason, why you seem to firmly hold to "Sola Scriptura": You want to brush aside the historic evidence for a-cappella worship. To do this, you (and others) have to

    a) repeatedly affirm, that the ECF are not an ispired source of authority (which they themselves don't claim to be)
    b) make them look odd to us by quoting texts that seem so off base thaet we automatically shake opur heads (you never responded to my response on their teaching and practice of praying at specific hours and fasting on specific days)

    Wouldn't it be more profitable to just ignore the IM debate when starting this truly interesting discussion on Sola Scritura and History? If we don't do this (as you did not) then we tend to use the debate only to answer (settle) this one question – and there we can use and misuse history according to our preferences on the matter.

    I listened and relistened to more than 60 1hour-CDs on "What the Early Christians believed on …", read a number of books about the Pre-Nicene churcha nd read a number of the writings of the ECF myself. It is about so much more than just grasping the IM-question. It is about understanding CHrsitiianity from its earliest sources, not so much the authoritative scriptures, buttheir application by those who had bothe the written NT and a living memory of the oral teachings which clarify and enhance these evry same teachings.

    That's why I thinnk History Guy is to the point:

    The historical argument (properly defined) is supplemental to Sola Scriptura, as a test for ones hermeneutic.

    A supplement and a test for one's hermeneutics. If our understanding of the NT differs greatly from those of the 2nd and 3rd generation of churches of Christ, then we should face the possibility at least that we might eventually really be wrong. This would take some pride out of our teaching …

    Alexander

    Alexander

  8. guy says:

    On the whole, are we really better situated to understand the original intent of the NT documents than the ECF's?

    –guy

  9. Anonymous says:

    In the context of instrumental music, the ECFs don't claim to be interpreting the scriptures. They are interpreting the culture. And, yes, they understand their culture much better than we do.

  10. HistoryGuy says:

    … In the context of instrumental music, the ECFs don't claim to be interpreting the scriptures. They are interpreting the culture. — JayGuin

    Jay,
    I have truly enjoyed the discussion on history and sola scriptura, even when not having to discuss IM. However, you said the ECFs were interpreting their culture and not Scripture regarding instruments. That is a plausible interpretation and I appreciate your honesty about it. I have seen a few lay historians (that is NOT derogatory by the way) make that claim, but never support it. In fairness, I would like to see your support. What church historians or church music scholar(s) can you quote who agree with you, and believe the ECF saw instruments being cultural, not Scriptural? Please note, I am not asking you to cite something and then give your interpretation, rather I am asking for a scholarly source that discounts Scripture and makes cultural claim. I use scholar as one who is recognized in the fields listed as having a doctorate or an honorary doctorate.

    I do not ask of you more than I would expect you to ask of me.
    (1) My interpretation: There is a consensus of the ECF regarding a cappella from a theological/Scriptural stance not culture. I do not deny that many ECF were at odds with some cultural practices, rather I am claiming that something deeper caused the polemic towards cultural practices… (I.e. a theological stance)

    (2) My claim: I can supply quotes from the majority of the ECF in both the east and west, using allegorical and then literal-historical hermeneutics, over multiple centuries starting in the 2nd century, who contrast Jewish worship with Christian worship, which correlates with the exact teaching in the book of Hebrews. We also have the historical evidence to demonstrate that instruments were not introduced in worship as a cultural freedom, missional theology, or by Scriptural authority; rather instruments were forced upon the church by Papal authority, in a non-Sola Scriptura setting, over a 400 year span (700-1100).

    (3) One example of my claim: Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339), giving commentary on Psalm 91:2-3 says, “Of old at the time those of the circumcision were worshipping with symbols and types it was not inappropriate to send up hymns to God with the psalterion and kithara and to do this on Sabbath days…We render our hymn with a living psalterion and a living kithara with spiritual songs. The unison voices of Christians would be more acceptable to God than any musical instrument. Accordingly in all the churches of God, united in soul and attitude, with one mind and in agreement of faith and piety, we send up a unison melody in the words of the Psalms”

    (4) Scholarly source & interpretation (not mine): quoted from Everett Ferguson, Jack P. Lewis, and Earl West, The Instrumental Music Issue, pg93-94. The scholarly interpretation is on pg100 and says “instruments [were never in the assembly]… were abolished from Christian assemblies with other types and shadows of the Old Testament”

    I am fully supportive of disagreeing with history, if we have evidence to do so. First, it is imperative that we understand what history actually says. Second, after factually representing history, we can then agree or disagree with it.

    Again, thank you for your study and thoughts.

    grace and peace

  11. aBasnar says:

    Can we just skip the IM issue here for a while? If we FIRST grasp the way of thinking and reasoning of the ECF, the way they interpreted the NT and lived the Christian life, THEN we may return to the IM-question … and probably begin to understand and to shere their conviction. But you are trying to take a shortcut, Jay.

    Alexander

  12. Anonymous says:

    Just for perspective, I feel compelled every now and then to remind all of us that none of this is discussion is necessary to establish or maintain our relationship with God.

    If it was, then only really smart academics would be saved. But in reality, the gospel of Jesus also is available to stupid people as well.

    So, after all is said and done, it must be simpler to grasp than the impression we often leave when outsiders review these discussions.

  13. guy says:

    While the gospel is for all and simple enough to be understood by the simple, it's still the case that some really smart academic had to make sure i had it in my own language to understand it at all. While the gospel teaches a clear egalitarianism as to who should have access to its benefits, it also spells out a specialization, interdependency, and even dependency relations between individuals. Even the gospel is available even to stupid people like me does not render null my dependency on the study and work of scholars. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    –guy

  14. HistoryGuy says:

    David,
    I appreciate what you are saying. I don’t believe anyone here (to date as of this post) would make the history study or IM/a cappella debate a salvation issue. I think we can all agree that this conversation is a “pursuit of truth” issue, not salvation, since we love the Lord Jesus Christ who saved us. We may say this is a conversation about “maturing” not being saved.

    That said, conversations like these are productive and I hope they benefit you. There are deeper truths to be grasped as a Christian. The Hebrew writer tells us to press on to maturity learning more than elementary teachings (Heb. 6:1-3). Peter told Christians to “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Pt. 2:2)

    Peter also warned Christians (the saved) to study & beware because some of Paul’s letters “…contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” – 2 Pt. 3:16

    The conversation on this [page] is not for everyone, but I genuinely appreciate those who have participated in it, as well as their maturity while doing so.

    Guy, you made a great point with less words… I have much to learn (lol)

  15. guy says:

    i wasn't trying to speak directly to the IM issue. i'm thinking about this sola scriptura issue. There are clear references in scripture to material that is not explicitly contained in the NT documents we possess. There are also references to documents that are not among the NT documents we possess. Further, there are no references in the NT documents we possess to the intent by God for the NT to exist in its present form as we have it, and for the words it contains and only the words it contains to be an exhaustive source of all that was preached and taught in the first century. To say that the NT is all we've got is not the same as saying it's all that there ever was. With respect to what else there may have been, who is pragmatically situated such as to understand the function of these documents relative to what else was available in the first century–us? or the ECF's? i'm not trying to suggest there's a clear answer to that. Someone may argue that there are some reasons why it's us. i am saying though, it seems like you've taken the question for granted. Do you think this post would convince a Catholic or an Orthodox that the NT documents are all they need and all God intended for the church to need?

    –guy

  16. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    I looked "solo scriptura" up. It doesn't have quite the same status in Christian thought as sola scriptura. It's a term invented to criticize a mode of evangelical thought. http://www.the-highway.com/Sola_Scriptura_Mathiso… would be an example. The idea seems to be that sola scriptura rejects tradition as having a fallible authority, which seems a contradiction in terms.

    And there is no carefully articulated alternative. If church tradition has authority, then how is this tradition discerned, as there are countless church traditions that contradict each other?

    It's unquestionably true that we should invite Tertullian and Augustine to our discussions and hear what they have to say. But at what point do we take their conclusions and invest them with authority?

    When we claim that "the church" has the ability to discern scriptures superior to the ability of individuals, well, which church? I would readily agree that exegesis should be a group activity and as broadly based as possible. And the combined wisdom of thousands is normally superior to the wisdom of one, but sometimes the one is right.

    It's easy to argue for an authoritative tradition — UNTIL you then have to explain how you decide which tradition gets to claim authority.

    So it seems incoherent to argue that must invest tradition or the church with authority. Yes, the wisdom of the ages carries great weight, but if it's truly authoritative, we should all be Catholic.

  17. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    If I'm following you, you seem to say that history is prior to the scriptures. I mean, you seem to contend that only those who accept your position on the authority of tradition are capable of productive exegesis. I believe you have it exactly backwards.

    I think the problem with giving such a high place to tradition becomes evident as soon as you attempt to articulate a standard for deciding WHICH traditions have authority. Or do we take ALL First and Second Century Christian writings and treat them as authoritative? If not all, which ones? The ones that made their way into 21st Century Catholic doctrine? The ones that the Fifth Century church bound? Augustine's preferred traditions or Jerome's?

    It's awfully easy to argue for the authority of tradition, but ultimately you're forced to either judge tradition by scripture or else take a very arbitrary stand as to which traditions have authority.

    If I'm mistaken, then you should be able to state, in a few simple, declaratory sentences, how we decide which church traditions to invest with authority.

    I remain convinced that the wisdom of the ages must be considered by any serious student, but that the only authority is found in the scriptures. But we'd be quite foolish to read the scriptures without the best Bible students from across the centuries helping us in our reading.

  18. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    I’m delighted to hear that you don’t consider this a salvation issue. Sadly, nearly every institution within the 20th Century Churches of Christ teaches that it is.

    The Freed-Hardeman University Bible Dept has announced that IM is a salvation issue. That’s also the position of the Gospel Advocate, the Christian Courier, the Spiritual Sword, etc. I can’t think of a print publication that DOESN’T take that position — other than the Christian Chronicle, which hasn’t taken a position but reports news from both sides of the dispute.

    There are a blessed few voices within the 20th Century CoC community that argue against making it a salvation issue, and it may be that those in the pews agree with them. But the guys with the printing presses and who write the books aggressively argue that it’s a salvation/fellowship issue.

  19. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    I’m delighted to hear that you don’t consider this a salvation issue. Sadly, nearly every institution within the 20th Century Churches of Christ teaches that it is.

    The Freed-Hardeman University Bible Dept has announced that IM is a salvation issue. That’s also the position of the Gospel Advocate, the Christian Courier, the Spiritual Sword, etc. I can’t think of a print publication that DOESN’T take that position — other than the Christian Chronicle, which hasn’t taken a position but reports news from both sides of the dispute.

    There are a blessed few voices within the 20th Century CoC community that argue against making it a salvation issue, and it may be that those in the pews agree with them. But the guys with the printing presses and who write the books aggressively argue that it’s a salvation/fellowship issue.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Alexander,

    Okay. Laying aside IM, what doctrines do you find in the ECF that aren't found in the Bible (without resort to the Regulative Principle)? What blanks do they fill in?

    And granted that Paul's occasional letters, that is, the epistles written to deal with this crisis or another, only give us one side of the conversation, why should we take epistles such as Romans and Ephesians, (which are much broader treatises, not written to confront a particular pastoral issue) as enough? Why do we suppose that there is some body of oral teaching even deeper and richer than that found in Romans and Ephesians (and the other epistles)? What great questions are unanswered?

    You see, Romans and Ephesians are devoid of what we think of as ecclessiology. There's no guidance on how to conduct a worship service or how to organize a church. But there are chapters and chapters on how to live together as a gospel-centered community of believers.

    Doesn't that suggest that ecclessiology is not nearly as central to our Christianity as we often claim? You see, I find myself thinking that the reason we can't find our answers in the scriptures, and therefore feel obliged to turn to the ECFs, is we are looking for answers to questions that aren't that important.

    The early church had to work out a ton of issues as they applied the gospel to problems that arose as they moved into new areas, gained in numbers, faced persecution, etc.

    It is, of course, instructive to see how they applied the gospel to their cultural setting, but that hardly means that the identical result should arise in a VERY different contemporary culture or that Third Century wisdom should be treated as 21st Century law. We should, rather, learn from how they reached their conclusions, and not simply bind their conclusions on each other.

    The same is true of Paul's occasional letters. You see, the hats in church question gets answered by realizing that 1 Cor 11 is an application of the gospel to a culture. That means our women should wear veils, hats, or whatever if, in a given culture, a failure to wear a head covering indicates rebellion against the authority of their husbands.

    And we know that BEFORE we get to the details of the passage, because we know the gospel. And nothing in the gospel compels the wearing of hats — other than love and story of the Bible, which tells us God is taking us back to the image in which we were originally made — which includes wives being suitable complements to their husbands. Hats are simply a cultural application of a timeless principle.

    Now, if you approach the Bible as the new Torah, and go looking for rules about how to dress etc., you need to go to the ECFs for help, because the scriptures will seem remarkably obscure and incomplete — as though God forgot how to write a rule book after he finished the Law of Moses.

    In short, I think the reason we go looking for rules in the ECFs, tradition, etc. is not because the doubt the sufficiency of the Bible (although many do), it's because we doubt the sufficiency of the gospel.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Guy,

    I assume their Greek was better than mine, but many years ago, I read the Ante-Nicene Fathers to see what the big deal about them was (I'd just graduated from Lipscomb). And I found that many of them, especially in the early years, weren't good writers and didn't get Paul's teachings on grace and the Spirit.

    Later on, some did. Some ECFs were great students. But not all. That's what happens when you don't have inspiration.

    So maybe they had advantages over us in knowing the language and culture, but they had some severe disadvantages. For example,

    * We have nearly 2,000 years of scholarship, mistakes, reforms, experience, and wisdom. And we have a vastly larger body of Christian scholars who publish ideas, which compound on each other. Tertullian couldn't ask Augustine, Luther, Wesley, or NT Wright what they think. We can.

    * We have the accumulated wealth of 2,000 years of prayers for divine guidance.

    * We have materials from the First Century that few First Century scholars had access to. How many had the entire Jewish Apocrypha, Philo, Josephus, the entire Ante-Nicene Fathers in their libraries? (Much less in computer-searchable form!)

    * We have the objectivity that only comes from being outside their culture. The early church quickly added Platonic and other Hellenistic thought to Christianity. It didn't take that long for the ECFs to start recommending that wives refuse sex with their husbands because virginity was considered morally superior to obedience to 1 Cor 7!

    This not to deny that they had their own advantages, but the advantage argument cuts both ways.

  22. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    Let's take the quote from Eusebius. His first sentence says the instrument was formerly "not inappropriate." Doesn't that amount to an argument that the instrument is now "inappropriate"?

    He then declares, "The unison voice of Christians would be more acceptable to God …" Where is the reference to a scripture? And "more acceptable" is not the same as "uniquely acceptable."

    So far as I can tell from what you quoted, he is NOT arguing from the Bible. Whether he arguing from tradition, personal opinion, or cultural contextualization, I don't know. (I can't find a copy of his commentary on Psalms on the internet or BibleWorks.) If he's relying on scripture, which scripture is he relying on?

    We've had this discussion on the site before, and I've yet to have someone offer an example of an ECF arguing against instrumental music and citing a scripture in support of his position. Sometimes it's taken as self-evident. Sometimes it's dogmatically insisted on. Sometimes cultural reasons are given. But no one says: Such and such a scripture teaches that the instrument is wrong.
    Now, there is a LOT of ECF material, so maybe you'll find a quote to that effect. And if you do, we can consider whether the ECF has correctly applied the scripture.

    I really don't care what the Church of Christ scholars declare. Either the ECFs argue from scripture or they don't. And I've read a LOT of 20th Century CoC materials that quote the ECFs, and the quoted material invariably give a reason other than "this is what the Bible teaches."

  23. Anonymous says:

    David,

    Exactly. What matters is the gospel. You don't have to have a copy of Eusebius' commentary of Ps 91 or have a mastery of the Ante-Nicene Fathers to be pleasing to God. Our time is best spent delving into the meaning of the gospel for our lives, our churches, and our communities and then living the gospel.

  24. Anonymous says:

    HistoryGuy,

    I'm delighted to hear that you don't consider this a salvation issue. Sadly, nearly every institution within the 20th Century Churches of Christ teaches that it is.

    The Freed-Hardeman University Bible Dept has announced that IM is a salvation issue. That's also the position of the Gospel Advocate, the Christian Courier, the Spiritual Sword, etc. I can't think of a print publication that DOESN'T take that position — other than the Christian Chronicle, which hasn't taken a position but reports news from both sides of the dispute.

    There are a blessed few voices within the 20th Century CoC community that argue against making it a salvation issue, and it may be that those in the pews agree with them. But the guys with the printing presses and who write the books aggressively argue that it's a salvation/fellowship issue.

  25. Anonymous says:

    Guy,

    But the ECFs don't claim to have a copy of, say, Paul's letter to the Corinthians that predates 1 Corinthians. There is an alleged letter to the Laodecians, but it's widely considered a fake — and doesn't say anything helpful anyway.

    Now, we'd have a REALLY interesting conversation if some late First Century author was found with a set of notes taken from a sermon by Andrew or Paul.

    The Catholic/Orthodox argument isn't that there's a vast body of oral teaching preserved by the church. Rather, they argue that the Holy Spirit continues to work through the church, assuring that the traditions affirmed by church councils are correct and therefore authoritative.
    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07790a.htm

  26. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    I was hoping we could allow some “expert witnesses – scholars” to testify about the topic for a little while. I can understand your bias against COC scholars. If I quoted Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Orthodox, or Lutheran scholars would you dismiss them so quickly? Does it not bother you that you attacked “the man” instead of the documentation used to support their claim? Isn’t that what COC folks have done to denominations for years, “it can’t be right because a Baptist said it?” What happen to investigating the evidence?

    With all due respect, you avoided my question. Can you provide a church/music scholar from any denomination, or world religion, such as Islam or Judaism, who defends your cultural view.

    In regards to you question about a verse. Is your standard truly limited to “they don’ say such and such a scripture teaches that the instrument is wrong?” Will you only allow a “negative” form of argumentation (don’t leave the room) into the record for contemplation, though “positive” forms (stay in the room) are available? Will you apply that rule consistently? Tell me what evidence that it would take for you believe the ECF rejected instruments on grounds of covenant not culture?

    Either the ECFs argue from scripture or they don't

    What Scholar denies that Eusebius is arguing from Scripture?
    (1) Eusebius is one example of many (consensus)
    (2) He is giving commentary on Psalm 91:2-3 (Scripture)
    (3) He contrasts Jewish practice with Christian practice about psalm singing (covenants)
    (4) He discusses what is appropriate for God, then and now (worship/covenant)
    (5) He said this was done in all the churches of God (doctrine, church history)
    (5) He says Jews used “symbols and types” but Christians don’t (theology/covenants/typology)
    (6) The book of Hebrews contrasts symbols and types (consistent testimony)
    (7) Eusebius defines what he means by “more acceptable to God” from his writings, not us

    Would you embrace a bold statement that God commanded rituals and worship in the OT that he did not desire [because he knew it would be changed in the New Covenant] – if it came from the Bible?

    Hebrews 10:8-9 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second.

    Eusebius and the Hebrew writer sound very similar, but you are right, the Bible makes a thou shall not, when Eusebius was only making a positive argument … As 70ad neared, Judaism and Christianity were vastly different. Christians could not go to the Temple altar, which included sacrifices, incense, instruments, and other Jewish worship rituals (Heb. 13:10-13)

  27. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    I'm starting over down here to allow for more space…

    In response to the solo/ sola scriptura issue, there are some similarities, but major differences. Knowing the definitions of each is key to the solo vs. sola conversation. There are many pages that deal with the two doctrines via google “solo sola scriptura.” Some confuse the topic and others are quite good. I will try to give a few comments in order of your thoughts, and then post some detail info.

    [solo] its a term invented to criticize a mode of evangelical thought [deviation from sola]

    Solo scriptura is a term applied to a departure from sola scriptura within reformation/restoration circles. Sola said the bible is final, but used tradition as a fallible assistant, though considered a higher authority than an individual. The progression looks like: Bible infallible final authority > church history/councils fallible interpreting assisting mid-authority > individual fallible interpreting small-authority. Solo scriptura is individualistic and considers “self- hermeneutic” as final. Sola says “which church tradition/interpretation,” solo says “which individual hermeneutic/interpretation.” The Reformers held councils and ECFs in very high esteem, but did not consider them infallible, like Catholics, hence Sola Scriptura as opposed to the Catholic dual source theory (infallible tradition and scripture). The reformers taught that the church is an authoritative interpreter of Scripture, but not an infallible interpreter of Scripture. Solo scriptura is the belief that the church is not an authoritative interpreter of Scripture, or is only authoritative when “I agree with it.”

    When we claim that "the church" has the ability to discern scriptures superior to the ability of individuals, well, which church?

    This is a good question. You follow it up with several other good questions about tradition, and which ones are binding. However, your questions are not addressing the sola/solo issue, which boils down to “who has more interpreting authority, the collective church/people or me as an individual?” Your questions correlate better with those raised by Catholics opposing sola/solo scriptura. There are two issues, (1) infallible authority, the Bible or Pope/church and (2) interpreting authority, the collective church or an individual. I lean towards sola, you lean towards solo, but we both scratch our heads at times.

    It's easy to argue for an authoritative tradition — UNTIL you then have to explain how you decide which tradition gets to claim authority

    Touché – remove “tradition” and insert “hermeneutic, group, or individual” and we are no further in the conversation toward answering any questions. The Bible is my final authority, but my interpretation relies on a “consensus” in church history (SOLA). The Bible is your final authority, but your interpretation relies on your personal view (SOLO). The Catholics would tell both of us that we are wrong and need to submit to their rule of authority. Still, I am not arguing for an “authoritative tradition,” that misses the point. The conversation centers on “interpretative authority of the Bible” self, small group, or large church consensus?

    the wisdom of the ages carries great weight, but if it's truly authoritative, we should all be Catholic

    This comment is revealing, and I thank you for making it. It does not distinguish sola or solo from Catholic dogma. It is an over simplification of the problem and generally believed by ones who practice solo scriptura. Campbell did this, so it should not be a surprise that many in the COC are affected by it. I simply ask people to know what position they hold. Most of the people on here practice solo scriptura, thinking its sola scriptura. I practice sola scriptura, but get “cordially” spanked and told to hang out with the Catholics (lol). —- I agree with history when there is a consensus that can be traced to the apostolic church, while relating to a plausible interpretation of Scripture. This view is more “confessional” adhering to sola scriptura. The Reformers did not teach that the Bible is the only authority for our faith and life (Solo); rather they taught that the Bible is the only infallible rule and authority for faith and life.

  28. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    Here are some additional thoughts from the links-

    Your link + http://www.calledtocommunion.com/2009/11/solo-scr
    + http://www.justforcatholics.org/a74.htm

    Contrasting Solo & Sola Scriptura:
    (1) SOLO — One of the “creeds” of solo scriptura is “No creed but the Bible.” … many modern Evangelicals have followed Alexander Campbell who believed he could come to Scripture with absolutely no preconceived notions or biases. … one cannot escape one’s own noetic and spiritual limitations and led Campbell and heirs to discount any use of secondary authorities. The Church, the creeds, and the teachings of the early fathers were all considered quaint at best. The discarding of the creeds is a common feature of solo scriptura…

    …solo scriptura is nothing more than a new version of Tradition 0… when interpreation disputes arise, one Christian measures the scriptural interpretations of other Christians against the standard of his own scriptural interpretation. Rather than placing the final authority in Scripture as it intends to do, this concept of Scripture places the final authority in the reason and judgment of each individual believer. The result is the relativism, subjectivism, and theological chaos that we see in modern Evangelicalism [and COC] today….

    …Solo scriptura is untenable for a number of reasons… Aside from the fact that it is a novel position based upon rationalistic secular philosophy, and dishonestly presented as if it were the Reformation position, it is also unbiblical, illogical, and unworkable… Solo scriptura is the ecclesiastical equivalent of a nation with a constitution, but no court of law to interpret that constitution…. It has scriptural, hermeneutical, theological, historical, practical, canonical, and autonomy problems… Scripture alone does not mean me alone

    (2) SOLA — It is important to notice that sola scriptura, properly understood, is not a claim that Scripture is the only authority altogether. … There are other real authorities but they are subordinate and derivative in nature. Scripture, however, is the only inspired and inherently infallible norm, and therefore Scripture is the only final authoritative norm …. Scripture is the sole source of revelation; final authoritative norm of doctrine and practice; to be interpreted in and by the church, and to be interpreted according to the regula fidei…. these four claims together constitute sola scriptura…. sola scriptura is not the notion that Scripture is the only ecclesial authority. In this respect sola scriptura differs from solo scriptura…. Scripture does not exist in a vacuum. It was given to the Church within the doctrinal context of the apostolic gospel…

    Contrasting Sola Scriptura & Catholicism:
    (1) Sola Scriptura is the doctrine that the Holy Bible, being the Word of God, is the only infallible rule of faith and practice for Christians in the post-apostolic age…. “the infallible rule of faith” remains the major dividing issue between Catholics and Protestants.

    Roman Catholic – 'God's Word is found in the Bible and in Tradition. But you can't understand the Bible correctly. As for Tradition, no one knows exactly what it contains. Therefore you must submit without reservations to the Pope and the bishops of the Roman church. The teaching of the Catholic magisterium is the infallible rule of faith.'

    Sola Scriptura – 'The Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that God's people may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.' … Sola scriptura makes the Bible the only infallible rule of faith, but relies upon history, councils, and creeds as a fallible interpreting “assistant.” Solo scriptura restricts the meaning of Sola, making the bible the only authority for our faith and life, while relying upon SELF as the final interpretive assistant.

    When I asked you about comparing/contrasting solo/sola scriptura, I was hoping you could make it one of those major headlines where everyone would see it and comment. Maybe you still could? You might even be able to work in the deductive logic and “no creeds” et al of the Restoration Movement. You may like it (smile)

  29. guy says:

    Jay,

    (1) What does "they didn't get Paul's teachings on grace and the Spirit" mean? That they had a view different from your own?

    (2) How can we conclude that prayers for divine guidance have given us greater access to truth than them? There is a great amount of diversity today. How do you know your conclusions are the product of divine guidance over against the conclusions of Jehovah's Witnesses or Catholics which contradict your own?

    (3) How does being outside their culture give us a greater objectivity? It seems to me it gives us the opposite challenge. We are subject to the views and rational constructs and circumstances of our own culture. We read with great subjectivity as well. The question is who's subjectivity better situates them to understand what was said?

    (4) i'm not sure why it's necessarily an advantage to confer with later scholars. Aren't those later scholars attempting to reach back to the first century? Who has to reach farther?

    Summarily: i grant you we definitely have greater overall library access than they. And i definitely grant you that the ECF's made mistakes. And i totally grant you the advantage argument cuts both ways (though not necessarily for the reasons you state). Listen, feel free to scrap what i've said so far–here's what really concerns me:

    (A) There are references to documents we don't have, to speeches and instructions not written down, and there are lists of doctrines treated as near catechal in nature for which we don't have a written curriculum. It seems probable to me that there is an amount or clarity of things the first century church had that we don't.

    (B) Yet people treat the NT documents as though it's a complete, exhaustive representation of the teachings of the apostles and practices of the early church, and it should be expected to function and be understood timelessly and intransiently. But the fact is that each letter is quite spacially/temporally/culturally situated. And knowing the details of that situated-ness can drastically effect the way the words of those documents are understood. (For ex., have you read N.T. Wright's explanation of 1Cor 14:34 and why it clearly teaches egalitarianism rather than complementarianism?)

    (C) Now i'm not just bringing up the trivial point, "hey guys, we need to consider context," although that's hardly trivial. What i'm saying is this: i grant you these documents are all we have in the way of inspired, apolostically authoritative information. But that is a far cry from saying that God, Christ, or the apostles intended for the NT documents to function as one volume, to be an exhaustive representation of apostolic teaching, or to use terms or make claims that are meant to be directly addressed to any future Christian reading them. And it seems to me a great amount of use in scripture in sermon's and bible classes depends a great deal on this latter view.

    (D) i'm not saying the ECF's magically solve that issue. Far from it. i'm saying, why not weightily consider people who are at least better situated with respect to the information we *don't* have than we are?

    –guy

  30. guy says:

    Jay,

    i have yet to get ANY emails notifying me of comment additions despite repeated subscriptions. i'm using the "guest" feature when i sign in. Any ideas?

    –guy

  31. aBasnar says:

    Later on, some did. Some ECFs were great students. But not all. That's what happens when you don't have inspiration.

    Step back a bit and have someone else read this sentence to you. How does it sound to you? Why should anyone take notice of your Blog? Are you more inspired than they were?

    Alexander

  32. Anonymous says:

    Alexander,

    I claim no authority, and my writings should be judged by the scriptures, and not vice versa. I have no new revelation and have no access to apostolic wisdom other than through the scriptures. I have no authority to make laws to fill scriptural silences.

    The same is true of the ECFs. I am happy to be judged by the same standards that should be used to judge them.

    You see, my position is far more conservative than the "conservative" position, because I reject the authority (although not necessarily the wisdom) of non-canonical works.

  33. aBasnar says:

    Most of the ECF don't claim to be inspired authorities either, Jay. And the documents unter the title "Apostolic Constitution, Teaching of the Apostlöes, Apostolic Tradition, etc…)" mainly deal with church order and not with doctrine – so they don't have any new teachings in them.

    But take for instance, what Polycarp wrote about Ingantius' letters:

    (Polycarp to the Philippians, ch XIII): The Epistles of Ignatius written by him to us, and all the rest [of his Epistles] which we have by us, we have sent to you, as you requested. They are subjoined to this Epistle, and by them ye may be greatly profited; for they treat of faith and patience, and all things that tend to edification in our Lord.

    He does not say Ignatius was inspired and infallible. Normally, when i mention Ignatius, I get the immediate response: "This man introduced the monarchical episcopate" – and thus they are done with him. But do you see haow Polycarp describes the value of these letters?

    I have no new revelation and have no access to apostolic wisdom other than through the scriptures.

    But Polycarp and Ingantius both had, because they were personal friends and/or disciples of the Apostle John. Irenaeus, a pupil of Polycarp in Smyrna ho then moved to Lyon, wrote to Florinus the following letter, in which he refutes "opinions" in a remarkable way:

    These opinions, Florinus, that I may speak in mild terms, are not of sound doctrine; these opinions are not consonant to the Church, and involve their votaries in the utmost impiety; these opinions, even the heretics beyond the Church’s pale have never ventured to broach; these opinions, those presbyters who preceded us, and who were conversant with the apostles, did not hand down to thee.

    For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court, and endeavouring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse— his going out, too, and his coming in—his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance.

    Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through, God’s mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God’s grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind. And I can bear witness before God, that if that blessed and apostolical presbyter had heard any such thing, he would have cried out, and stopped his ears, exclaiming as he was wont to do: “O good God, for what times hast Thou reserved me, that I should endure these things?” And he would have fled from the very spot where, sitting or standing, he had heard such words. This fact, too, can be made clear, from his Epistles which he despatched, whether to the neighbouring Churches to confirm them, or to certain of the brethren, admonishing and exhorting them.

    Do you see the advantage and strength they had compared to us? Their final authority were also the Scriptures, but they heard and coversed with the eye witnesses. Imagine: Irenaeus wrote toward the end of the 2nd century. And we have the links: John – Polycarp – Irenaeus. In other places we'd have fiour names or even five. Anyway: We ONLY have the scriptures without this background.

    I am not looking for a written set of traditions in the ECF, I am looking for their understanding if the Scriptures which (most likely) reflect the apostolic teaching and interpretation iof the scriptures. I am not looking for anything new inthe ECF, but only for clarifications.

    I have no authority to make laws to fill scriptural silences.

    It is not my impression from reading the ECF that they themselves did that. But what we call scriptural silences -ä because the apostles did not address a topic in detail or specifically in their letters, the churches still practiced.

    As in the context of our discussion: The churches worshipped, they sang. While the scriptures seem to be silent about the instruments, the churches in the NT times knew how they did it, because they did it. OK? So where can we find the answer to these silences? Let me take you back to Irenaus' quote:

    These opinions, Florinus, that I may speak in mild terms, are not of sound doctrine; these opinions are not consonant to the Church,

    The Early church – in as much as their practice was unanimous – is a true witness to what has been done even though it was not spelled out in detail in the NT-writings. Still the apostles taught and instruchted the churches what to do; they themselves conducted the gatherings of the assembly as long as they were in a local congregation and discipled the elders that should follow them.

    So in the end, there is no silence! Where the scriptures don't say much, we still have the practice of the ECF which can answer such questions. And therefore: When we disagree on the IM-question, I'd rather stick with the churches that were only a generation or two removed from the apostles. And that's not making new laws, that's just doing what has been done in the beginning as far as the record goes. I don't view such issues as "laws", but as an apostiolic teaching we shall imitate.

    Alexander

  34. aBasnar says:

    Dear Jay, sorry for not noticing thios reply earlier (the new system still is a bit confusion, tough it has some benefits):

    kay. Laying aside IM, what doctrines do you find in the ECF that aren't found in the Bible (without resort to the Regulative Principle)? What blanks do they fill in?

    There is not much "new" in the ECF, but a lot of clarifications.

    And granted that Paul's occasional letters, that is, the epistles written to deal with this crisis or another, only give us one side of the conversation, why should we take epistles such as Romans and Ephesians, (which are much broader treatises, not written to confront a particular pastoral issue) as enough?

    1st Corinthians especially deals with practical issues in church life. It was a letter concerning questions and aberrations. Paul wouzld have been glad not to be urged to write this letter.

    1st Timothy was not meant to be written either, because he wanted to come and teach the whole content of it personally.

    Both letter build on what Paul taught in all churches anyway, so for Paul (spoken from a human perspecticve) there was no real need to pen these letters, because all churches had received the same instructions and practiced them.

    The letters to the Romans or Ephesians can be called "tracts", but they don't deal with the issues addressed in 1Co and 1Ti. So we need both kind of apostolic literature – but we also see, that 1Co and 1Ti need to be understood in the light of the general practice of the churches. To us – since we do not know the apllications of all these instructions first hand – there are some ambuiguities that can eb clarified ONLY by looking at the Early Church of the 2nd and 3rd generation.

    Why do we suppose that there is some body of oral teaching even deeper and richer than that found in Romans and Ephesians (and the other epistles)? What great questions are unanswered?

    All question we have constant disoutes about are unsnswered (and unaddressed in Romans and Ephesians! And these concern practical church life:
    What about the love feast and the Lord#s Supper?
    What does silence for weomen really mean?
    Does the headcovering apply to married women only?
    What about the service and ministry OF widows (not only TO them) in church?
    Shall we really lift our hands in prayer?

    These are just a few questions raised by 1Co and 1Ti where there are ambiguities. Before we simply say "But these are only side issues", we should remember that all of this was taugfht in and practiced by all churches. So these side remarks are part ofthe apostolic teaching, and we are to keep and obey them.

    You see, Romans and Ephesians are devoid of what we think of as ecclessiology. There's no guidance on how to conduct a worship service or how to organize a church. But there are chapters and chapters on how to live together as a gospel-centered community of believers.

    See, you are making a canmon in the canon now. Because the rest is mentioned in 1Co and 1Ti – and we know from the ECF that these commands were taken very serioulsy as part of the binding apostolic teaching. And in their writings and practice, most ambiguities become clarified.

    Alexander

  35. R.J. says:

    I have concluded that there is nothing in scripture that remotely makes old testament musical instruments a type or foreshadow of Christ(or anything else) in the Christian Dispensation. So any ECF or commentator making such a claim is clearly going beyond what is written(even Ferguson made that observation in his studies).

    Hope this helps.:)

  36. HistoryGuy says:

    … there is nothing in scripture that remotely makes old testament musical instruments a type or foreshadow of Christ(or anything else) in the Christian Dispensation. So any ECF or commentator making such a claim is clearly going beyond what is written (even Ferguson made that observation in his studies)

    RJ,
    I would encourage you to keep reading the Scriptures, ECFs, and Ferguson. Contrary to your statement, Ferguson agrees with the ECFs and clearly says that instruments have been abolished with the other types and shadows the Old Covenant. It is your privilege to disagree, but I hope the few sources below are beneficial to your studies on what Ferguson believes.

    Ferguson, Everett. A Cappella Music In The Public Worship Of The Church: Revised Edition. Abilene, TX: Bible Research Press, 1972, pg. 95.

    Ferguson, Everett, Jack P. Lewis, and Earl West. The Instrumental Music Issue. Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate, 1987, pg. 100.

    Ferguson, Everett. Early Christians Speak: Vol. 2 Abilene, TX: ACU, 2002, pg. 186.

    Ferguson, Everett. The church of Christ: a biblical ecclesiology for today, Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdsmans, 1996, pg. 270, 272-273.

  37. Price says:

    It's an odd view to believe that when the Elders in heaven break out their harps and start worshiping before the Lamb that those who used them on earth will not be there to watch because they were not saved…Well, except those that used them according to God's command up until he excluded them from worship in this scripture _____________?? odd indeed.

    History Guy…it would be interesting for you to produce a quote from one of the ECF's that specifically quotes a passage of NT scripture excluding IM from worship from that date…I haven't seen one put forth by anyone in any discussion….lots of talk, opinion, etc., but no specific quote citing specific divine authority (scripture) to exclude.

  38. HistoryGuy says:

    Price,
    Throughout my conversations I have quoted several ECFs commentary in which they quote Scripture and explain their belief of exclusion of IM. The passages in Revelation have been explained numerous times within the context and genre of the literature. I have never made IM a salvation issue, but rather specifically said it is a truth issue. That said, I realize that you have not participated in all of my conversations. Therefore, I am happy to discuss the issues with you, but conversations must involve two-way communication.

    After my lengthy post at – http://oneinjesus.info/2010/03/instrumental-music… – You asked me several questions. I answered them, and then asked you some questions. However, you have only responded with more questions. To show my good intention, I will answer one more of your questions and hope that you will take the time to respond to my questions, which have previously been posted.

    Two quotes

    Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339), giving commentary on Psalm 91:2-3 says, "Of old at the time those of the circumcision were worshipping with symbols and types it was not inappropriate to send up hymns to God with the psalterion and kithara and to do this on Sabbath days…We render our hymn with a living psalterion and a living kithara with spiritual songs. The unison voices of Christians would be more acceptable to God than any musical instrument. Accordingly in all the churches of God, united in soul and attitude, with one mind and in agreement of faith and piety, we send up a unison melody in the words of the Psalms"

    John Chrysostom’s (345-407) commentaries on the Psalms are identical to Eusebius. Therefore, also consider his work from Exposition of Psalm 41, in which he includes commentary on Psalm 41, Eph 5:18-19; Psalm 91(92) saying, "Here there is no need for cithara or for stretched strings, or for the plectrum and technique, or for any musical instrument; but, if you like, you may yourself become a cithara by mortifying the members of the flesh and making a full harmony of mind and body."

  39. Jay Guin says:

    HistoryGuy,

    RJ argued,

    "I have concluded that there is nothing in scripture that remotely makes old testament musical instruments a type or foreshadow of Christ(or anything else) in the Christian Dispensation."

    In response, you urged him to study the scriptures, among other things. Which scriptures?

    Clement of Alexandria argues that the instrumental references in the Psalms should be interpreted allegorically as non-instrumental things. I have no idea where he is coming from. In fact, I think he's wrong. Nowhere do the NT authors allegorize or explain away the OT approvals of instrumentals. It's just the wrong approach to the question.

    In fact, many (not all) of the Psalms the early church was taught to sin are references to Temple worship, and yet the assembly is not built on the Temple service. Neither is it built on the synagogue, we now know.

    Rather, it seems built more on private devotional practices, such as the Passover, but not in any legalistic sense. Rather, the NT assembly was purpose-built, not based on or against OT types, but based on its new, unprecedented purposes.

    It would be a mistake to say that all things associated with the Temple were rejected. After all, the Jerusalem congregation met in the Temple courts! They met on the grounds of the Temple and so were hardly seeking to draw an absolute distinction between their assemblies and the Temple — although they were certainly not the same thing.

    Thus, the whole effort to argue from like/not-like the Temple or like/not-like the synagogue is futility. The assembly was and is its own thing, for its own purposes.

    And that means we equally err when we consider the assembly a ritualized event with strict rules comparable to those found for Temple worship. Wrong analogy.

    I mean, it's just SO absurd to argue that the assembly is the antithesis of the Temple while also arguing that the assembly is regulated by strict rules just as the Temple was! We can't have it both ways.

    The assembly is much more governed by purpose than law, just as are those who assemble.

    (Gal 5:18 ESV) 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

    (Rom 6:14 ESV) 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

  40. R.J. says:

    Thanks for your recommendations,

    No doubt he believes(as they do) that OT instruments are shadows. But on their explanations(various allegories and even depicting David's harp as a sign of the cross) Ferguson agrees as going beyond what is written.

    In Christ,
    R.J.

  41. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    The original post that I made 01/25/2011 04:55 AM at http://oneinjesus.info/2010/03/instrumental-music… was directed to you for our conversation. After reading it, Price asked several questions and I responded. You should read that as well. Most of the questions that you just asked me [here] were discussed in that post [in the other link], as well as my subsequent posts with Price on 01/26/2011 04:44 AM.. I asked him 4 questions at 01/26/2011 04:52 AM, which I will also ask of you.

    I commended you for reading the Smith article, suggested some caution, and gave a brief outline of my position at 01/25/2011 03:16 AM before giving a deeper explanation. I asked for your position, listed some starter Scriptures for discussion, and mentioned that both the pagan and Christian world all used allegory, regardless of hermeneutic. The use of allegory is not always the same as the Allegorical or the Literal-Historical Hermeneutic.

    I have only quoted Clement when he agrees with a consensus, such as covenant contrast and AC. You seem to claim that the conclusion is wrong because the hermeneutic is wrong. Sometimes that is the case, but not all the time. As this modern forum has shown, people of vastly different hermeneutics can arrive at the same "correct" conclusion on some topics. While reading my other post, I would ask you to consider how you avoid OC/NC contrast as the conclusion of the Literal-Historical hermeneutic.

    When you say the assembly is governed by purpose, I believe we are playing with semantics given the nature of the Christian assembly in the NT and subsequent centuries…in light of this please review my 4 questions on that page.

  42. HistoryGuy says:

    Jay,
    There were a few key points in your last post that I wanted to specifically respond to in hopes they don’t get lost in my lengthy reply on the other page. I try to be short, they just add up when giving a few sentences to multiple questions.

    many (not all) of the Psalms the early church was taught to sing are references to Temple worship…

    So is it your position that whatever is mentioned in a psalm is okay in NT worship? If not, how do you decide? Psalm is broader than the book of Psalms. It’s been said Paul told the church to sing OT psalms more than 40 times, yet Paul modifies the verse and none of his quotes include IM, incense, or other OC elements. I'm stating the fact, not a regulative hermeneutic. Surely, you’re not claiming that the word "psalms," without supporting context, permits IM.

    It would be a mistake to say that all things associated with the Temple were rejected

    Was IM rejected? If not, what is the evidence to say IM was included in NC worship? Around what decade was IM first used in Christian worship?

    the assembly is not built on the Temple service or synagogue… the whole effort to argue from like/not-like the Temple… is futility. The assembly was and is its own thing, for its own purposes.

    I agree the assembly is its own thing and purpose, but how to you arrive at that conclusion? Why are they not the same? What is it built on? Who revealed the nature and purpose of the Christian assembly? (Mt. 28:20; Jn. 14:26; 1 Cor. 14:36-38; 1 Th. 4:2; Heb 7:11-12; 8:13; 9:1, 9-10, 15; 10:5-9; 13:10-12)

    Christians met in the Temple courts… hardly seeking to draw an absolute distinction between their assemblies and the Temple — although they were certainly not the same thing.

    If they are not the same, then why bring up the Temple? The church in Jerusalem met in the Temple because there was a synagogue there. Given what you know about the Temple, synagogue, and unique early Christian worship, what provided the best atmosphere for the Christians to evangelize by praying, preaching, and performing miracles to JEWS in Jerusalem (Acts 2:46-47; 3:1; 3:11; 5:19-21)? They would be foolish not to go to the Temple. They converted so many that they flowed into the streets and were eventually kicked out. Surely you are not suggesting that a Levite priest who converted to Christianity was allowed to continue to serve at the Temple indefinitely (Acts 6:7; Heb. 13:10).

    More importantly, where did Christian worship of a didactic nature take place? What have you read lately that describes the nature of Christian worship? Christians in Jerusalem met in their homes and keeping the apostles teaching, the Lords Supper, praying, and singing AC within the Christian worship/meal (Smith agrees – right?). The didactic nature of simple non-ritualistic Christian worship would be almost impossible at the Temple or synagogue.

    From the Book of Acts there are only two possibilities of Lk. 24:53:
    (1) Christians praised God the same way as Jews at the Temple, with all the Levitical rituals, including priesthood, animal sacrifice, IM, incense, etc until God revealed it was time to change/kicked them out [Claudius 50ad] and confirmed a covnenat change [Temple destruction 70ad] (2) Christians met at the Temple courts, were unique, evangelized and did miracles, but did not participate in Temple worship (Acts 2:46-47; 3:1; 3:11; 5:19-21). There is no evidence to claim Christians used some elements of Temple worship, but no others. However, if you have it, I am ready to review it.

    I’m here to learn and I’m being 100% honest. I have evidence to accept #1 or #2 because both correspond with the Book of Hebrews, Acts, the whole NT, and progressive revelation. Again, we know God granted the Jews a transitional period into the NC; Jews/Christians were kicked out of Rome in 50ad (Acts 18:2-3); by the 60s (Heb. 13:10-12) was written; 70 ad Temple destroyed clearly ending the OC and its elements (Heb. 10:8). Those outside of Jerusalem seemed to have a clearer break, though they struggled with their own religious pasts (1 Cor. 8:7; Eph. 5:18-20).

    I enjoy these conversations. Please remember to look over my other post and the 4 questions I asked you to consider therein.

  43. aBasnar says:

    RJ argued,

    "I have concluded that there is nothing in scripture that remotely makes old testament musical instruments a type or foreshadow of Christ(or anything else) in the Christian Dispensation."

    If it is about about that remotely points in that direction, you can find it in Hebrews:

    Heb 9:1 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly place of holiness.
    Heb 9:2 For a tent was prepared, the first section, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence. It is called the Holy Place.
    Heb 9:3 Behind the second curtain was a second section called the Most Holy Place,
    Heb 9:4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.
    Heb 9:5 Above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

    IM was part of the regulations of OT worship – there is no disagreement about this. But if all the other elements clearly
    a) are done away in Christ
    b) have a spiritual meaning forshadowing the New Covenant
    then this must apply to the musical instruments as well. Why? Because they are included in the last sentence: Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.

    So we have to learn the principles of understanding the OT in th lieght of the NT by the examples given in Hebrews and apply these principles to the study of the wohle Old Testament. That's what the Early church did extensively, and you can find examples of it in the letters of Paul and Peter as well.

    The ECF and their typological understanding of the instruments are therefore firmly rooted in apostolic teaching. Even though we don't have a specific verse in the NT explaining the instruments to us, we have this pointer in Heb 9:5 that forces us to understand them spiritually as one of many regulations concerning OT worship.

    Alexande

  44. Jay Guin says:

    HistoryGuy,

    I'll respond to your four questions in two posts scheduled for tomorrow morning.

  45. Jay Guin says:

    aBasnar/Alexander,

    The contrast the Hebrew writer is making is summarized in —

    (Heb 9:1 NIV) Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary.

    What's his point? Plainly that the new covenant doesn't have regulations (of a type akin to tabernacle regulations) for worship and an earthly sanctuary.

    He then compares the OT tabernacle to HEAVEN — not to the Christian assembly. The tabernacle is a type of heaven.

    (Heb 9:11-12 ESV) 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

    (Heb 9:24 ESV) 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

    Copies of the true things are inadequate to save. Only the original in heaven will do the trick.

    (Heb 10:1 ESV) For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices that are continually offered every year, make perfect those who draw near.

    "The good things to come" are the perfect sacrifice of Christ and his mediatorship in heaven for us — not the Christian assembly.

    The author of Hebrews does later come to the assembly —

    (Heb 10:24-25 ESV) 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    It's a meeting for the purpose of encouraging each other to hold fast to the end because —

    (Heb 10:26-27 ESV) 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

    Therefore, the Hebrews author pictures the assembly as defined by its purpose, that being a gift from God to help us make it to the end and to avoid falling away — by being encouraged to love and good works.

    What does this say about instrumental music in the assembly? Well, hardly anything.

    The assembly is neither like nor unlike the tabernacle. The tabernacle is a type of heaven — not the assembly. The assembly is a means to help us get there!

    Would instruments help us encourage one another to love and good works? Does not having instruments encourage us to love and good works? It's a pragmatic, missional question (expedience, some would say). It's not answered by typology.

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