14 September 2012

New Lutheran Quote of the Day

In the last analysis there is no reliable test of apostolicity except the apostolic truth itself, as it is laid down in the apostolic-prophetic Scriptures of God. Everything else is ambiguous and may be counterfeited.—Prof. Kurt Marquart, The Church, p. 30.


Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

A couple of things:

(1) Testing is a kind of judgment. Now judging requires three things: (a) the thing to be judged; (b) the standard by which judgment is made; (c) the judge. Marquart treats it here as if it were a two-term relation: standard and thing being judged.

(2) The ignoring of the importance of the judge leads to each judge assuming his own infallibility. The importance of holy tradition and of bishops is *not* because of any flaw in the Holy Scriptures, but because of a profound recognition on the part of each Christian that he himself is prone to error.

William Weedon said...

I think we've noted before, though, the inescapability of each person exercising private judgment and so being the judge (whether infallible or not); for even to punt to a hierarchy's deciding for you is itself a decision you make as judge as you judge that heirarchy's capacity to make the judgment regarding apostolicity.

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

It seems like you're dismissing the third term of the relation as a mere place-holder, when it's the crux of the problem.

Each person exercises private judgment formally, in that submitting to the church is a private judgment just as much as rebelling is. But there is a great difference materially between submission, on the one hand, and rebellion on the other. Christ himself says, "My will is to do the will of him who sent me," and "I came not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me."

Further, the Orthodox Christian does not punt to a hierarchy's deciding *for* him; each Orthodox Christian submits to the Church, comprised both of hierarchs and laity. Remember the false union of Florence was rejected, chiefly, by the laity acting against the hierarchs.

William Weedon said...

For what it's worth, I don't think it is a mere place-holder. It is indeed crucial. And submission is indeed the key: submission to the Word of God. It is entirely possible, as you admit, that sometimes in the Church error prevails for a time—even in both the laity and heirarchs. Thus St. Augustine's famous words that one should not agree with catholic bishops should they happen to err. A Christian's conscience is bound finally only to that which cannot err and that is the Word of God. If he is in error in how he understands that Word, yet desires wholeheartedly to be in submission to it, that is, to Him who speaks through it, he is in no grave spiritual danger, is he? But if he decides that he will believe whatever the church (at the moment!) declares is immutable truth, then he IS in danger, no? For while the promise remains true to all time: "On this rock I will build my church..." it does not mean that the promise is guaranteed to any particular jurisdiction of the Church at any time.

William Weedon said...

P.S. I was thinking particularly of the time in the 4th century when Arianism almost swept Orthodoxy from the Church...

Fr. Gregory Hogg said...

I never said that error prevails in the Church for a time. The Word of God, to which I submit, says that the Church is the pillar and ground of truth. He also says that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church--which they would have, if the Church fell into error. Further, that Christ presents the church to himself "without spot or wrinkle"--which has to do with more than simply moral rectitude.

When nearly all the hierarchs fell into error at Florence, the Church did not fall into error. The Church is more than the hierarchs.

If the Church were not infallible, then the Word of God would be infallible to no effect. Speaker, message and receiver--the chain is only strong as its weakest link.

Re your second comment: the operative word is "almost." Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

I don't wish to be polemical; forgive me if it comes across that way. But this issue is crucial for understanding between the two sides.

Best wishes in Christ,

Fr. Gregory