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St. John of Kronstadt on Scripture


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#1 Aaron R.

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 06:51 AM

 St. John of Kronstadt :

"When you doubt the truth of any person or event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says and is therefore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales, although it includes parables, which everyone can see are not true narratives, but are written in figurative language. The whole of the word of God is single, entire, indivisible truth; and if you admit that any narrative, sentence, or word is untrue, then you sin against the truth of the whole of Holy Scripture and its primordial truth, which is God Himself. “I am the truth,” said the Lord; “Thy word is truth,”

 

Beautiful summary and how we should view Scriptures.

 

Aaron



#2 Olga

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 11:03 AM

A moderatorial message to all:

 

This thread is an attempt to reopen the matter raised by the recently locked The Bible has no errors thread. I urge all participants, especially the OP, to ensure that open and civil discussion is allowed and maintained. Bald assertions, the posting of "quote mines" without context or clarification, and a refusal to address legitimate questions and points have no place here.



#3 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 17 March 2014 - 01:36 PM

It should be noted that St John of Kronstadt viewed Scripture not in isolation but within the whole context of the Church's Holy Tradition. Thus, he attached similar importance as that cited to the texts of the divine services, the holy icons, the holy cross, incense and all the other aspects of the celebration of the divine services, and veneration of the Most Holy Mother of God, the angels, and the saints.



#4 Aaron R.

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 01:27 AM

How can one have a debate on doctrine or dogma without quoting the Church fathers or higher authority?? Surely are opinions do not matter when it comes to Church doctrine.



#5 Olga

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 03:57 AM

Aaron, I strongly recommend you look up the range of meanings of the Greek word teleios, which has been often translated into English as perfect. While perfect is one of the shades of meaning of teleios, it is not the only one.

 

The use of teleios was raised in the previous thread, along with comments about translation issues. You ignored those posts, so is it too much to ask that you now take heed of them?



#6 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 09:18 AM

How can one have a debate on doctrine or dogma without quoting the Church fathers or higher authority?? Surely are opinions do not matter when it comes to Church doctrine.

 

This is not what Olga said. All of us Orthodox here know that unsupported personal opinions about things that matter are not useful. We do not always cite authority for what we say - posts are not term papers - but what we say on matters of importance is grounded in what we have learned from our life in the Church. Where necessary, we do cite authority. Olga refers to 'context' and 'clarification'; as I understand her, she is warning against what I think is called proof texting. As Olga says, in the locked thread, you sought to advance a point, that scripture is 'perfect', even though it was explained to you that this is not a position the Orthodox take because the point is meaningless without any context, and you bombarded us with selected quotations you thought supported your assertion - though, in fact, they did not - and ignored posts which did not fit your view such as post #61.

 

Additionally, the doctrinal Tradition of the Orthodox Church is not a matter for debate as such: it is revealed by the Holy Spirit. The Church is not, though, against textual analysis and, more widely, theological discussion.

 

Applying this to the quotation above from St John of Kronstadt, we can say this: nowhere does St John says scripture is 'perfect' - he says it is true. St John, however, is stressing that scripture is true because at the time he was writing, sections of Russian society, notably the intelligentsia and upper classes (influenced by western rationalism and freemasonry) were disdainful of the Church and the press of the time wrote against it. We do not disagree with St John but we see the force with which he writes as his pastoral attempt to counter rationalist criticism of scripture as merely allegorical or simply untrue, and to convince all Russians of his time to believe in scripture as revealed truth. But note also what is said at post #3 above: St John at the same urged Russians to accept everything that makes for our life in the Spirit and in the Church.



#7 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 09:24 PM

Someone asked me to reply to this discussion and I was hesitant since I have been occupied with other matters besides the Forum for the past few months.

 

Anyway- after thinking about the issues involved the following occurs to me.

 

When speaking about the 'perfection' of anything we are really talking about communication. For perfection always relates to our desire & attempt to understand what is perfect. Withouth this notion of the relationship involved in the idea of perfection- ie those who seek perfection (us) and the means by which perfection can be sought & expressed (by thought, word, image & depiction in general)- the whole idea of perfection is so abstract that it denies what is human.

 

If we can see this then I think we can move on to the next point about the 'perfection' of Scripture. 

 

If we were to say that Scripture conveys the holiness of God this is one thing. This reflects our desire for God and states that through Scripture we can find Him to some degree and experience Him. If we were however to say that Scripture conveys the perfection of God or even seeks to do so then we are on very dangerous ground indeed in a theological sense.

 

For how can what is created or human - the written word, thought, etc- convey the perfection of God? Such an idea is flawed and heretical for no created word no matter how inspired can convey the perfection of God.

 

Think of this then in terms of icons and Christ. The depicted icon conveys the holiness of Christ (ie His divine energies ) but it never conveys His incommunicable essence. This is simply impossible for again nothing on our level is able to convey the perfection of God. This is why then Scripture is often referred to as a verbal icon of Christ, or indeed His word.

 

The idea of the perfection of Scripture then has very serious problems on all these levels. Scripture cannot be perfect because God's perfection can never be conveyed in human terms or grasped by us in the first place (which would make the effort of composing a 'perfect' Scripture moot).

 

What lies behind the idea of a perfect Scripture then is likely the wish for an infallible authority of word once you have rejected another that is a man. The advantage of having one man as ultimate authority is that he can always say: 'no you don't hear what I'm saying; your interpretation is based on disobedience.' The advantage of having the word as ultimate authority is that we can interpret it any way we want and take out the need for obedience to a traditional standard.

 

Behind this though is the modern attempt to disengage our contact with God from that whole sense of relationship which the Church denotes for us in Her tradition. In other words Scripture is not something perfect that hangs in the air waiting for us to grab hold of it. Rather Scripture is the living word of Christ as heard only within His Church in a relationship of obedience and humility.



#8 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 18 March 2014 - 09:56 PM

To add to what Fr Raphael says, there is this from the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Pittsburgh, Maximos:

 

Much has been said regarding the Divine authorship and inspiration of the Bible (theopneustia). Various theories have been expressed throughout the centuries concerning the way in which the Bible is the work of the Holy Spirit. Philo of Alexandria is the main exponent of the so-called "mechanical theory" of understanding the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. According to Philo, the authors of the Bible were in a condition of "possession" by the Spirit of God, who was just using these authors as blind instruments. A better view is the so-called "dynamic view" of the cooperation between man and the Holy Spirit in the case of the Bible. In any case of "synergy"  (cooperation) between God and man, God leads, and man follows; God works, and man accepts God's work in him, as God's co-worker in subordination to Him. So it is with divine inspiration in the case of the Bible: the Holy Spirit inspires, and the sacred author follows the Holy Spirit's injunctions, utilizing his own human and imperfect ways to express the perfect message and doctrine of the Holy Spirit.

 

In this sense, we can understand possible imperfections in the books of the Bible, since they are the result of the cooperation between the all-perfect and perfecting Divine Author, the Spirit, and the imperfect human author. Biblical textual criticism is completely normal and acceptable by the Orthodox, since they see the Bible in this light. Nothing human is perfect, including the Bible, which is the end product of human cooperation with the divine Spirit.



#9 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:12 AM

Dear father Fr Raphael Vereshack

 

I am perplexed by your answer. Just to be clear are you saying that there are errors in the Holy Scriptures which are inspired by GOD?

 

Respectfully

 

Aaron



#10 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:27 AM

As I understand it, Fr Raphael and Metropolitan Maximos are saying much the same thing, and both speak with the mind of the Orthodox Church.



#11 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:29 AM

Dear father Fr Raphael Vereshack

 

Could you read this article which started these two threads.http://fatherjohn.bl...ipture.html?m=1



#12 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:36 AM

As I understand it, Fr Raphael and Metropolitan Maximos are saying much the same thing, and both speak with the mind of the Orthodox Church.

 

 

But  St. John of Kronstadt ,St. Gregory Nazianzus,  St. Clement of Rome ,


 St. John Chrysostom and father John Whitefield don't ???

  St. Gregory Nazianzus also wrote;

“We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle, will never admit the impious assertion that even the smallest matters were dealt with haphazard by those who have recorded them, and have thus been borne in mind down to the present day: on the contrary, their purpose has been to supply memorials and instructions for our consideration under similar circumstances, should such befall us, and that the examples of the past might serve as rules and models, for our warning and imitation” (NPNF2-07 St.Gregory Nazianzen, Oration II: In Defence of His Flight to Pontus, and His Return, After His Ordination to the Priesthood, with an Exposition of the Character of the Priestly Office , ch. 105, NPNF2, p.225).
 


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 12:42 AM.


#13 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:39 AM

This is something else father John Whitefield wrote which makes a very valid point to this thread. He writes about those who say Scriptures contain errors.

 

"This is also a fundamental denial of the real inspiration of the Scriptures. If the Scriptures really are entirely inspired by God, then by that very fact, no error could be contained in it, because God does not err. If you allow that the Scriptures contain real err, then you are allowing that the Scriptures are not completely inspired, and then the question is, what parts are inspired, and what parts are not"


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 12:42 AM.


#14 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 12:50 AM

As I understand it, Fr Raphael and Metropolitan Maximos are saying much the same thing, and both speak with the mind of the Orthodox Church.

 

I am also pretty sure St Philaret of Moscow had the mind of the Church when he wrote his catechism which was approved by a Holy Synod:

 

(from the catechism by st Philaret of Moscow approved by the holy synod. http://www.pravoslav...of_philaret.htm)

Which states in question 19 19. What is that which you call holy Scripture? Certain books written by the Spirit of God through men sanctified by God, called Prophets and Apostles. These books are commonly termed the Bible.


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 12:55 AM.


#15 Olga

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 06:30 AM

Aaron, you have been warned, on this thread, the previous thread, and in private messages, that simply posting patristic quotes without any context is not discussion, but a monologue.

 

You seem not to have grasped anything of Andreas Moran and Fr Raphael have said. Please take the time to read and absorb what they have posted, before responding further.



#16 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 08:35 AM

Aaron, you have been warned, on this thread, the previous thread, and in private messages, that simply posting patristic quotes without any context is not discussion, but a monologue.

 

You seem not to have grasped anything of Andreas Moran and Fr Raphael have said. Please take the time to read and absorb what they have posted, before responding further.

 

They are in context. The quote from the Catechism shows clearly that the Orthodox Church believes GOD wrote Holy Scriptures. Because GOD wrote Holy Scriptures how can there be errors if it is written by HIM who cannot lie. Who is Truth HIMSELF.

 

I did respond to father Raphael and Andrea with two separate questions. If being in context means agreeing with you and Andrea that is not very fair. Father Raphael I don't think directly said  that the Bible contains errors either.

 

Also the quote from father John Whitefield is very relative to the debate. He says clearly if you believe the Bible is inspired by GOD as the Church does. Then it is absurd to say there are errors in it.

 

The quote from St. Gregory Nazianzus  shows clearly the level of accuracy the father asserted to the perfection of Scriptures,

 

"“We however, who extend the accuracy of the Spirit to the merest stroke and tittle"

 

Kind regards

 

Aaron


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 08:49 AM.


#17 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 08:58 AM

I mean without errors as the same thing as perfect (just to clarify).

 

I am completely stunned that anyone could read the quote from St John of Kronstadt at the top of the page and say he meant anything other then that Scripture is perfect. Can you try to absorb and reflect on st John ks quote as you asked me to do of Andreas and father Raphaels comments.

 

Warm regards

 

Aaron


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 09:10 AM.


#18 Olga

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 09:05 AM

I mean without errors as the same thing as perfect (just to clarify).

 

Consider the following, Aaron:

 

Can a book, inspired by God, but written by men, give us a perfect and complete understanding of God? I use the word complete quite deliberately, as this is one of the meanings of the Greek word teleios, which is frequently translated into English as perfect.



#19 Aaron R.

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 09:20 AM

Consider the following, Aaron:

 

Can a book, inspired by God, but written by men, give us a perfect and complete understanding of God? I use the word complete quite deliberately, as this is one of the meanings of the Greek word teleios, which is frequently translated into English as perfect.

Before I answer your question I need to understand one thing. When you say "perfect" do you mean contains no errors? Of course  nothing can give our limited minds a "complete" understanding of the eternal GOD. All we know of HIM  is from divine revelation.


Edited by Aaron R., 19 March 2014 - 09:21 AM.


#20 Olga

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Posted 19 March 2014 - 09:22 AM

Please answer the question.






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