- Jan 28, 2005
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If what you are speculating about here were true you'd have a problem with more than just the Orthodox Church, you'd have a problem with the Church entire. What you're effectively saying is 'what if the Church is not the pillar and ground of the Truth'. Honestly, if you can't be sure of the Church you can't be sure of Scripture either. As long as you put your own personal interpretations and doubts ahead of the consensus of the Church you'll never understand Orthodoxy. I know someone here said that beliefs about the Theotokos were often hard for Protestants to accept. That wasn't particularly the case for me (I was well aware of and accepted Luther's veneration of her already), though the veneration of icons was. What I can say is that I think that it's letting go of your personal opinions and accepting that you don't know better than the Church that makes the difference, whatever your particular stumbling block. If you can't do that, and I know it's difficult, your enquiries into Orthodoxy will certainly never become anything more.Armchair Theologian said:You're assuming the faith of the apostles, transmitted in this way, was not gradually corrupted over time. What if it was? The only way to be sure of what the apostles transmitted to the early Christians through word and deed is to look at their epistles, which fortunately seem to have been preserved with minimal alterations in most texts. That's the only thing we can be sure of, I think. At least it's the only thing I'm sure of.Clemente said:Why do you think that which is normative in Christianity is only found in Scripture? Scripture says that we should believe more than just written Scripture: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle". 2 Thes 2:15. For the first four centuries of Christianity, there was no fixed canon of the New Testament, yet Christians still managed to transmit the faith from one generation to the next.
What if the Fathers were wrong? What if they had a hand in corrupting apostolic teaching? Look at any protestant study Bible, and you'll see there are other possible interpretations of the passage. It may be a literal vision of a future temple, it may be symbolic of the Church (whatever that truly is). The East gate may remain shut signifying that once God had interfered, he would never leave. It may be shut to prevent or signify the end of the solar worship in the temple described earlier in the book of Ezekiel.Clemente said:The doctrine of the ever-virginity of the Theotokos is not taught for the sake of upholding the sanctity of the Virgin Mary, but because of the uniqueness of her Son Jesus Christ. By being ever virgin, the Theotokos fulfils prophecy from the Old Testament, thereby elevating Christ.
"Then said the LORD unto me; This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it; because the LORD, the God of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut." (Ezekiel 44:2). This has always been interpreted by the Fathers of the Church to be a reference to the Virgin Mary and the Incarnation. When we consider that God took flesh from the Virgin's womb, it is not difficult to imagine that this womb would remain virgin.
What if it wasn't transmitted faithfully? What if things were added, like the perpetual virginity, the dormition, the intersession of the saints in heaven, monastic traditions, and so forth, all clearly built up over time? If the Church is that which faithfully preserves the teaching of the Apostles, and if Orthodox tradition contains later corruptions and merely human teachings, then the Orthodox Church is not the Church, and has no authority, any more than the Baptists or the Pentecostals. In the end, only the Lord knows who is His.Clemente said:The Church believed the ever-virginity was part of the faith transmitted faithfully from the Apostles.