how to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference

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Ed Dingess,

My primary authority is Scripture. If the Establishment is at odds with Scripture, other than Traditionalists, I’d follow the example of the apostles as recorded in Ac. 5:29…would you? Call it “shutting down” of authority or whatever you like, but we’re actually the ones upholding sola scriptura, even if it were at odds with tradition. Funny how the very arguments formerly used against the Reformers by the Roman Church officials are the ones used against those who recognize the need to take it further today. Funny how sola scriptura has given way to prima traditione; history is repeating itself and those ‘fighting the monster have actually become the monster.’

The reformed principle of sola scripture contends that Scripture must interpret Scripture and that Scripture is by nature self-attesting. All other approaches to Scripture place man on the bench and the Word of God in the dock. In other words, we have disjunctive syllogism. Either Man or God is the judge. The elevation of any interpretive paradigm that sits in judgment of God’s word is hopeless subjective.

I am in agreement with what you’ve written above, it is just that there is a clear disjunction between sola scriptura and prima traditione. The dynamics within the two principles make them mutually exclusive. And I have seen countless of times, especially in conversation with Evangelical fundamentalists, that tradition is ultimately defaulted to when tradition proves to be at odds with Scripture. Sola scriptura is a farce and is merely a slogan to ease the cognitive dissonance, simply since it’s not practiced and our conversations attest to that fact.

That there was excommunication in the ancient Church over doctrinal and moral failure is indisputable. This and this alone is PRROF enough to demonstrate that the idea of essentials is rooted in biblical Christianity.

Yes, rooted in biblical Christianity and abused in post-biblical Christianity.

Chyrl is correct. The Trininty and divinity of Christ have been, from the beginnings of the church, required confessions for continuation in the Christian group. One the Church had established herself, she immediately began dealing with the more developed view of the triune God. Once she settled this matter, all opponents were dealt with harshly if they refused to recant the heresy. Excommunication is the biblical principle for those who deny the fundamentals of the faith. I do not say this to be offensive in any way. I say it because it is historically undeniable, and also because it is clearly what the Scriptures instruct.

The post-biblical Church developed many doctrines. Some of those your church traditions still have vestiges of. And it is simply false that the trinity and divinity of Christ have been essential confessions. These doctrines find no basis in the Bible, nor did the first Christians confess either of these (in the Nicean/Chalcedonian sense) for several reasons: The first followers of the Founder were strictly monotheistic/monolatrous; neither their cognitive universe, nor their cultural schemes, nor their linguistic classes allowed for the sophisticated doctrine invented and refined in an alien culture, divorced from its Hebraic roots. Moreover, even where conceptual tangents or equivalents could have been settled for in non-Hebraic culture, these later formulations prove to be misfits in conceptual comparison, hence a clear deviation from First-Century unitary Christianity.

The authority enjoyed by subsequent Church leadership cannot be regarded as of the same kind as that enjoyed by the early followers of Christ (to echo your question to me re. Henry Alford, “are church officials divine???”). The ancient post-biblical Church authority upheld and enforced what they believed, not because their formulations were necessarily more compelling or bible-based than some of the rival doctrines, but because they had the political muscle to silence dissenters with persecution, torture and murder. The kind of interactive Christianity such as what we see at the Jerusalem Council is sadly missing from the annals of Institutionalised Christianity since their brutal inception in the fourth Century. So no, there’s no comparison…