Monday, July 27, 2009

7 Issues - Vulgate, Saints, Development, Works, Communion, Unity, Tradition

I've just picked 6 random things to discuss concerning the Christian Tradition that I've thought about recently. I could write for pages and pages about them, but I'll try to sum up the thoughts as briefly as possible.

Bible translations are in general deceptive. The Vulgate and the NIV are the 2 archetypal mistranslations I can think of that SEEM (note this word) to be translated solely for the purpose of deceiving people about the bible. It horrifies me to know how much Mariology was based on the Vulgate's rendering of Genesis 3:15 which makes it appear that Mary not Jesus would crush Satan. The issue is of course, how much Latin Mariology has to do with this passage, as the Greek's seem to have given Mary similar titles like "mediatrix". This brings me to my next point.

Mary and Mediation
While the Greeks also teach ALOT more about Mariology than Protestants would like to admit, they've still not reached Rome. It seems like from the 10th to 12th century (this is all according to Pelikan's book I haven't read alot here) there is this native Mariology that is intrinsically tied to Christology. As a former Protestant it boggles my mind as there is always a dichotemy between Mary and Christ, and just when I see these proto-protestant descriptions by St. Bernard of Christ's righteousness as being our righteousness, and justification being his remission of our sins alone, there it is! an entire book with the title abbreviated as (De Laud. Virg.) Now my one year of Latin reminds me that the verb Laudo Laudere Laudatum Laudatavi or something like that means to worship. So obviously this isn't a secret protestantism if he's worshipping Mary by his own word choice. But I just find it annoying how Catholicism while it allows you to seek mediation solely through Christ, it always encourages you to seek saintly mediation. It always tries to shove as many people in line as possible. Now this doesn't mean they're wrong or whatever, and Catholic apologists have answers to each of these issues, but at the same time, I have to add an amen to N.T Wright who says:

"(after saying that saintly intercession is not in the New Testament or in "the earliest Fathers" he writes) ... we should be very suspicious of the medieval idea that the saints can function as friends at court so that while we might be shy of approaching the King ourselves, we know someone who is, as it were, one of us, to whom we can talk freely and who will maybe put in a good word for us. The practice seems to me to call into question, and even actually to deny by implication, the immediacy of access to God through Jesus Christ and in the Spirit, which is promised again and again in the New have a royal welcome awaiting you in the throne room...why would you bother hanging around the outer lobby trying to persuade someone there, however distinguished, to go in and ask for you? To question this, even by implication, is to challenge one of the central blessings and privileges of the gospel." - Bp. N.T. Wright "Surprised By Hope" p. 172 (Purgatory, Paradise, Hell)

I read the exact same critique of C.S. Lewis in his book "Letters to Malcolm" -who even though he believes in Purgatory - denies any purpose to praying to saints. Even Maccabbees only has praying for the dead, not asking saints to pray for us.

Development of Doctrine

Are the Eastern Theologians correct in attacking the development of doctrine. The Protestant argument only makes sense - as the Catholic argument only makes sense, if we hold to the development of doctrine. The Easterners kind of deny it or at least set a point which it cannot move past. I'm not decided on this issue yet, but it's an interesting point. Penal Substitution / Substitutionary Atonement models of Calvin and other Reformed theologians I see as a development of Anselmic Satisfaction doctrines, and the penitential system of Catholicism is a development from the general principle of repentance and temporal punishment for sin. The Orthodox seem to have ended doctrinal development with 1054, and this may be a result of their fracture and disunity, but it might be an interesting opposing theory to the idea that doctrine develops.

It was Anglican Divine Richard Hooker who finally showed me how there is no such thing as a doctrine of salvation by faith and works. If you attach works as necessary for salvation, you are teaching salvation by works. This seems to go against Romans 4:5... But I still think James 2 teaches it. St. Augustine teaches it. All the Fathers teach it. So really the Protestants may be right that we all (Orthodox and Catholics) teach salvation by works, but the question then becomes, does the bible? This of course leads to other issues and questions about the defectibility of the Church, tradition, etc. But it's still a valid issue I have to think more about, and whether there is a Pauline vs. Augustinian (and even Patristic) issue here.

Communion in both kinds

I hate that the Latins don't do communion in both kinds. It's pretty stupid, and I didn't realize they did it when I started, because when I was confirmed I was allowed to partake of the cup and I assumed I'd always have that privilege. The Orthodox are clearly more faithful to the command "take this all of you and drink from it"


But in spite of all else, I am constantly reminded of the Patristic and early medieval doctrine of Church Unity. St. Augustine says that there is never, any, just reason for schism. Never.... so was he wrong? (as well as Eph. 4 one bread, one faith, one body, one Lord, etc) The invisible Church thing is just B.S. to me right now, he started a visible Church.

I think Tradition is important to the point of being beyond important, I think whatever your doctrines of Soteriology and Sacraments, they cannot alienate the majority of the Church throughout the ages. As long as the canon issue is unresolved, the authority of Tradition remains.

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