From: George Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Dec 22 2002 - 04:30:10 EST
Adrian Teo wrote:
> Hello Jim,
> You wrote:
> I hope you'll forebear my intrusion into this discussion again, but
> your recent comment caught my attention:
> AT: OF course. This is a public forum. I welcome all contributions.
> Jim: Boy, does that sound right, that following the majority
> is a sound way
> to find the leading of the Holy Spirit? I'm thinking a case might be
> made that the movement of the Holy Spirit is exactly what
> draws us apart
> from majority thought, striving against the tendency toward
> revelation-resisting stasis of tradition on the one hand,
>and acting to
> counter the ebb and flow of faddish and poorly-grounded
> on the other.
> AT: I believe it was St Augustine who wrote that right
> doctrine is what is believed always and everywhere. This is logically
> the case if the universal church has been promised to be protected
> from error. If the majority of Christians through history and around
> the world are wrong, then the promise of Christ is unfulfilled. Note
> that this is quite distinct from following the opinion of the
> majority in a culture. It only applies to the subset of believers.
> If it was the case that the minority belief is the correct
> one, then how is one ever to know which minority group to follow? Rev
> Moon? Rev Luther? Sister White? Rev Young? [Disclaimer: This list of
> names is not intended to imply that these leaders are all equally
> legitimate, but simply to put my point across. I have much greater
> respect for Luther than Moon.] Sure, some say I can compare their
> teachings with Scripture, but can I even trust my own interpretation
> of Scripture, untrained as I am, and fallen as I am? And if there is
> no sure way of discerning truth, then no one can be held accountable
> for teaching something they sincerely believe to be true (dare I say,
> even teaching YEC as truth).
It was Vincent of Lerins, a younger contemporary of
Augustince, who said that
the catholic faith is what has been believed always, everywhere, and
by all (_quod
semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus est creditum_). This is
certainly one helpful
criterion but it has its limitations. One only has to recall
"Athanasius against the
world." The way in which important doctrines have developed over the
course of time
means that we can say that they have been held "always" only in a
rather nuanced way.
& "everywhere" clearly can't be taken too literally.
There is no scriptural promise that the church of Christ will
be protected from
all error, and history shows that it has not been. The promise is
rather that the gates
of Hell will not _prevail_ against the church. There will always be
around Christ in Word and Sacraments.
-- George L. Murphy email@example.com http://web.raex.com/~gmurphy/
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