Comment's on Allens postings

From: Robert Schneider (
Date: Wed Jul 17 2002 - 10:18:29 EDT

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    I combine statements from two of Allen Roy's postings. The first come =
    from "Re: Immortality of the Soul" posted on 7/17. My comments are in =
    this "Arial" typeface.

    Allen: "The translators of the Septuagint were out to prove to the =
    Greeks that the
    Bible did not conflict with pagan Greek philosophy." =20

    Bob's comment: I should like Allen to provide evidence for this =
    sweeping assertion. I'm very suspicious of it and would like something =
    substantial to back it up. I am not an expert on the Septuagint, but =
    from the little I know of it, the history of its translation and =
    transmission is rather complex. Translations of different books and =
    sections were made at various times from the 3rd cent. BC on, and it is =
    not certain that all of them were made in within the Jewish community in =
    the Greek city of Alexandria. As for the claim that the translators =
    were out to prove that the Bible did not conflict with pagan (there's =
    that loaded word again) Greek philosophy, I should say that might be =
    more accurate of the writings of Philo and other commentators. As for =
    the Septuagint, I can think of one instance where just the opposite is =
    the case: the translation of Isa. 40:22a. If the translators were =
    desirous of conforming to Greek theory, they might have used the word =
    "sphaira" to translate "chugh" in order to imply that the earth is =
    spherical, which would bring it in line with Greek philosophy. Instead =
    they used the word "gyros," a literal translation of "chugh" to preserve =
    the meaning of the Hebrew text, "He sits above the circle of the earth." =

    > The OT concept of Sheol implies survival of personal identity after
    physical death.
    Allen, responding to the above statement: "The word Sheol is simply the =
    grave, nothing more, nothing less."

       Bob's comment: Allen is quite incorrect on this point, as any careful =
    exploration of the uses of "Sheol" in the OT will demonstrate. I =
    recommend the article on "Sheol" in John McKenzie's Dictionary of the =
    Bible, p. 800-801.

    Allen: "Granted, you can find some early Christians who adopted the =
    pagan Greek and
    Roman concepts of immortality of the soul. The Catholic Church is =
    for "christianizing' all kinds of pagan beliefs and theology. But just
    because some did doesn't make it right or Biblical. We don't make our
    choices of theology based on what others have or have not believed =
    Rather, we believe what we believe because the Holy Spirit leads us, if =
    let him, to understand what the Bible says."

    When I see "the Catholic Church" my error detector immediately gets =
    turned on. I should say, rather, that the Christian populace has =
    "christianized" over the centuries many local customs and beliefs =
    originally practiced in native cults (I don't mean this word =
    pejoratively). But there is a difference between "peasant Christianity" =
    and "official Christianity." Often the official Church has worked to =
    purge and eliminate such local customs and beliefs, as the Roman church =
    did with Ireland's Celtic Christianity in the 11th and 12th cent., not =
    with the greatest success. One shouldn't be so quick to blame "the =
    Catholic Church" for these practices and beliefs.

    And from Allen's posting of the same day: "Re: Inerrancy"

         Allen: "I am not so certain that the HS leads everyone to the =
    beliefs they hold.
    Rather, they often hold their position because of traditions. I will
    provide an example from an area I am familiar with -- the =
    issue. Upon who authority does that Catholic church claim its =
    are founded? The Holy Spirit? Or the traditions of men?"

    Bob's comment: In fact, Sunday worship is attested in the NT, Acts =
    20:7, where we learn that Paul and the Christians of Troas met on the =
    first day of the week "to break bread," i.e., to celebrate the Lord's =
    Supper. In Rev. 1:10, Sunday is called "the Lord's Day." Sunday ("the =
    day of the Sun") came to be associated with Christ as the "Sun of =
    Righteousness." It was not "the Catholic Church" but "the one, holy, =
    catholic, and apostolic Church" (which the Catholic Church claims to =
    embody, though not completely) that established Sunday as the Christian =
    sabbath, because it is the day of resurrection. Every Sunday service, =
    ideally, is a celebration of the resurrection, and it was so intended by =
    the early Church. Several of the church fathers, including Ignatius of =
    Antioch and Justin Martyr make this point. Sunday as a day of rest came =
    to be regulated by ecclesiastical and civil law by the 4th c. (this from =
    Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 1558).

    Then, on the issue of Sunday observance and the question of the =
    relationship of Scripture and Tradition, Allen offers several statements =
    evidently from Catholic spokespersons. I include one of these below:

    180 Wabash Ave., Chicago, Illinois
    (Under the Blessing of Pope Pius XII)

    Dear Sir:
    Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the
    Christian Sunday, I wish to draw you attention to the facts:
    We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides =
    bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule =
    guide us. We say, this Church instituted by Christ, to teach and guide =
    through life, has the right to change the Ceremonial laws of the Old
    Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We
    frankly say, "yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she =
    many other laws, for instance, the Friday Abstinence, the unmarried
    priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of =
    marriages, and an thousand other laws.
    With best wishes
    Peter R. Tramer, Editor

    Allen's comment: So it appears that for the Catholic Church, the HS is =
    not the final arbiter
    of truth, but rather the traditions of men. Thus, your point that the =
    Spirit is not particularly concerned about certain issues (at least this
    issue) may not be based on a solid foundation.

    Bob's comment: Here is the official position of the Roman Catholic =
    Church on the relationship between Scripture and Tradition:
    "Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together =
    and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from =
    the same well-spring [i.e., the Word and the Holy Spirit], come together =
    to form one thing, and move toward the same goal."

    "As a result the Church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of =
    Revelation is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all =
    revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both Scripture and =
    Tradition must be accepted and honored with equal sentiments of devotion =
    and reverence." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 80, 82).

    Therefore, Allen is mistaken in interpreting the Catholic position that =
    "tradition" refers to "the traditions of men" and that these traditions =
    overide Holy Scripture and the Holy Spirit. "Tradition" in Catholic =
    usage refers to the teachings of the apostles and their successors in =
    the apostolic succession. Tradition is seen as being shaped by the Holy =
    Spirit and the Word of Christ, who live in the believer, and in =
    particular in those to whom God the Holy Spirit has entrusted through =
    ordination the teaching authority.

    The issue of the relationship between Scripture and tradition has =
    concerned the Church throughout its history. The Reformers' cry of =
    "sola scriptura" was in great part a reaction against the excessive use =
    of established theologians to determine the shape of doctrine, and I =
    think they did a great service in returning focus to the Bible. But, I =
    also think that one of the unfortunate consequences of this is what we =
    often see in many Christians today, who refer to themselves as =
    "Bible-only" Christians or "Bible-believing" Christians (as if there =
    were some Christians that do not believe in the Bible). When every man =
    and woman becomes his/her own interpreter, even claiming that they are =
    guided by the Holy Spirit ("Whose spirit?" one is often tempted to ask), =
    and ignores the accumulated tradition of the Church, whether from =
    Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, the Caroline Divines, =
    Edwards, Wesley, Barth, or whomever, then we have all sorts of wierd =
    doctrines and beliefs spring up.

    My own Anglican tradition always accords primacy to Holy Scripture but =
    also regonizes the importance of tradition and reason (the last usually =
    includes experience). This "three-legged stool," was modified by the =
    Wesleyan/Holiness tradition, which (drawing from Anglicanism) offers a =
    "quadrilateral" (a more stable "table" perhaps) of Scripture, tradition, =
    reason and experience (I take to mean the kind of personal experice that =
    Wesley had). However much we place Scripture foremost, these other =
    elements are also important and contribute to our understanding of the =
    revelation of God's will for creation, and in particular God's human =

    Grace and peace,
    Bob Schneider

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