Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

On Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition
Orthodox Advices ^ | 1981 | Elder Cleopa of Romania

Posted on 11/11/2006 8:16:16 AM PST by annalex

On Holy Scripture

Ch. 2 from
The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the
Teachings of
True Christianity,
Elder Cleopa of Romania

Inquirer: What do we mean by the term “Holy Scripture?”

Elder Cleopa: The term Holy Scripture denotes the sum of holy books that were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit within a time period of close to 1,500 years, namely, from Moses, 1,400 years before Christ, until the writer of the Apocalypse, nearly 100 years after Christ.

Inq.: Why don’t the bishops and priests sanction Christians, who are members of the Church, to interpret and preach publicly the word of God from the Scriptures?

EC: Each Christian has the need to read Holy Scripture, yet each Christian does not also have the authority or ability to teach and interpret the words of Scripture. This privileged authority is reserved for the Church via its holy clergy and theologians, men who are instructed in and knowledgeable of the true faith. When we consider how our Saviour gave the grace of teaching to His Holy Apostles (Mat. 28:20) and not to the masses it is easy for us to see that the prerogative to teach is held only by the bishops, priests and theologians of our Church. It was the Apostles who were sent by Christ to teach and to celebrate the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments). Our Apostle Paul says: “How shall they preach, except they be sent?” (Rom. 10:15). Accordingly, the bishops are the lawful successors to the Apostles and those sent for the preaching (kerygma) to the people. Paul entrusts the heavy burden of the instruction of the people to Timothy and not to the faithful. He speaks of this elsewhere: “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers?” (1 Cor. 12:29) Again he says to Timothy that the clergy must be “apt to teach” others (1 Tim. 3:2). He does not, however, say the same thing for the faithful. He makes a distinction between shepherd and sheep, between teacher and those taught. Still, the teachers cannot teach whatever they would like, but that which the Church teaches universally. They teach in the name of the Church and of Christ. Not everyone has the intellectual ability and the requisite divine grace necessary to expound Holy Scripture correctly. The Apostle Peter also says this in his second epistle, referring to the epistles of the Apostle Paul. He says the following: “There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).

Inq.: Some say that it is not right that members of the Church don’t have the right to interpret and expound upon Scripture. As this excerpt says, each Christian knows how to render Holy Scripture: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things,” and “the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you” (1 John 2:20, 27).

EC: Holy Scripture is like a very deep well wherein is comprised the infinite wisdom of God. If someone thirsty dives into this well to drink of all its water, he will be drowned within. If, however, he will fetch the water with a bucket and from there will drink with a cup, then there is no fear of being engulfed. What man is so crazed as to wish to plunge into such an abyss of water without knowing how to swim? Holy Scripture, according to the Fathers, is “bone” and no one will venture with teeth “fit for milk” to break the strong bones of Holy Scripture - for those teeth will be crushed.

You’ve read in Scripture about the eunuch of Candace, Queen of the Ethiopians? He was reading the Prophet Isaiah when the Apostle Philip asked him if he understood that which he read, to which he replied: “How can I, except some man should guide me?” (Acts 8:31).

You realize also that the word “unction,” or “anointing” (chrisma) that you mentioned above means the effusion of the Holy Spirit in the Mystery of Holy Chrism, directly after Baptism (Acts 8:17).

The phrase “you know all things” signifies everything that contains Christian truth and salvation, as well as everything that is related to the antichrist and his adherents, to whom the subsequent verse of the epistle of the holy John the Theologian refers. One must not, therefore, teach according to one’s own understanding and perception, for one will be deceived.

Inq.: All the same, it is said that each Christian has the right and obligation to read Holy Scripture on his own, as the Saviour admonishes us: “You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness of me” (Jn. 5:39).

EC: Be careful, because many heretics of earlier eras made bold to immerse themselves in the fathomless sea of Scripture and drowned spiritually, thus perishing together with as many as followed them. They don’t have all the same spiritual maturity. They are not all able to understand the mystery of Holy Scripture.

Holy Scripture is understood and explained in three ways: 1) according to its literal meaning, namely the nominal, grammatical, verbal and historical, 2) allegorically or metaphorically, which is superior to the former, and 3) spiritually. According to the Fathers, the simplest of senses to alight upon is the first meaning, according to the letter of Scripture; to penetrate with discretion to the nature of Scripture requires modest learning, while to explain the depth of the meanings of Scripture is of the highest spiritual advancement and in need of the most divine grace. The perfect wisdom of Scripture belongs, according to Saint Paul, to the perfect: “Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory” (1 Cor. 2: 6-7).

Inq.: There are those who contend that it is not necessary for someone to have much learning to be able to understand the teachings of Scripture, since to the unlearned He revealed the wisdom of these teachings, just as the Saviour says: “I thank Thee, O Father, . . . because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes” (Mat. 11:25).

EC: Yes, God revealed His wisdom to those that were known to be babes in wickedness but not in mind [1] and judgement. In other words, He revealed His wisdom to those who, with respect to good works, were perfect and had attained to the innocence of infants. That’s why Paul counsels the Corinthians as follows: “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be ye men” (1 Cor. 14:20).

Inq.: Yet, God rebuked the wisdom and knowledge of men, as this passage indicates: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent” (Is. 29:14). Saint Paul also says: “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Cor. 1:19). Might it not be that God is not able to give the wisdom of understanding the Scriptures to certain people who are worldly-wise, as the Orthodox maintain?

EC: You should know that God does not condemn just any wisdom and knowledge, but that which kills man spiritually. If He were to censure every wisdom, He would have to reject also the wisdom of Solomon, the wisdom of Joshua, son of Sirac, the wisdom of Christ the Saviour, of the Prophets and Apostles, to those whom He gave the commandment to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Mat. 10:16). Yet, it isn’t like this in the least. Hence, take care not to resemble those to whom the Saviour said: “Your do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God” (Mat. 22:29).

Inq.: Is Holy Scripture sufficient in order to guide man to salvation?

EC: No, it is not sufficient to guide man to salvation, [2] inasmuch as, firstly, it wasn’t given to man from the beginning and, secondly, when it was given it wasn’t the only authentic text, with regard to the salvation of human souls, because before it there was the Holy Tradition. Many years before Moses began writing the first books of the Old Testament, there was sacred piety in the community of the people of Israel. Similarly, the books of the New Testament began to be written ten years after the formal foundation of the Church, which took place on the day of Pentecost. The Church chose and sealed as inspired by God the books of the two Testaments over one hundred years later.[3] These then comprised the declared Canon of the books of Holy Scripture. Thereafter the Church maintained this Canon of Truth, inasmuch as it is the very “pillar and ground of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The Holy Spirit operates within all of this for the preservation of the truth about salvation. Where the Church is, says Saint Jerome, there also is the Spirit of God and where the Spirit of God is, there also is the Church and all grace - since the Spirit is truth.


1 nous: mind, thought, reason; attitude, intention, purpose; understanding, discernment: The English word that best conveys the meaning of the Greek word nous is probably the word mind, however, it also has other meanings as well. The Fathers refer to the nous as the soul (the “spiritual nature” of a man, St. Isaac the Syrian) and the heart (or the “essence of the soul”). More particularly, it constitutes the innermost aspect of the heart (St. Diadochos). Yet, it is also referred to as the “eye of the soul” (St. John of Damascus) or the “organ of theoria” (St. Macarius of Egypt) which is “engaged in pure prayer” (St. Isaac the Syrian). In this book the words mind and intellect have been used most often when rendering the Greek word nous.

“We cannot assert that Scripture is self-sufficient; and this is not because it is incomplete, or inexact, or has any defects, but because Scripture in its very essence does not lay claim to self-sufficiency. . . . If we declare Scripture to be self-sufficient, we only expose it to subjective, arbitrary interpretation, thus cutting it away from its sacred source. Scripture is given to us in tradition. It is the vital, crystallising centre. The Church, as the Body of Christ, stands mystically first and is fuller than Scripture. This does not limit Scripture, or cast shadows on it. But truth is revealed to us not only historically. Christ appeared and still appears before us not only in the Scriptures; He unchangeably and unceasingly reveals Himself in the Church, in His own Body. In the times of the early Christians the Gospels were not yet written and could not be the sole source of knowledge. The Church acted according to the spirit of the Gospel, and, what is more, the Gospel came to life in the Church, in the Holy Eucharist. In the Christ of the Holy Eucharist Christians learned to know the Christ of the Gospels, and so His image became vivid to them.” Fr. George Florovsky,
Bible, Church, Tradition: An Eastern Orthodox View, pp. 48-49

3 By the end of the first century . . . the Church possessed the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Although they were not perhaps as yet collected into one volume, each had been accepted by the group of churches for which it was written. Very soon afterward they were combined in one quadripartite Gospel, and in the middle of the second century the Christian apologist Tatian composed the first harmony, or code, of the Gospels. . . The appearance of the New Testament in the Church as a book, as Scripture, was therefore not a new factor, but a record of the founding tradition. Just because it was identical with the original tradition as the Church already knew it, there appeared at first no need of a canon, or precisely fixed list of accepted records of Scripture.” (Fr. Alexander Schmemann The Historical Road of Eastern Orthodoxy, pg. 44) In fact, for the western Church it was not until 419 AD at the Council of the 217 Blessed Fathers assembled at Carthage that the entire New Testament as we know it today was irrevocably canonised (Canon XXIV). - Editor

On Holy Tradition

Ch. 3 from The Truth of Our Faith:: A Discourse from Holy Scripture on the
Teachings of True Christianity,
By Elder Cleopa of Romania

Inquirer: What is the Holy Tradition that the Orthodox consider to be the second source of Holy Revelation and coequal with Holy Scripture?

Elder Cleopa: Holy Tradition is the teaching of the Church, God-given with a living voice, from which a portion was later written down. As with Holy Scripture, so, too, Holy Tradition contains Holy Revelation, and is, therefore, fundamental for our salvation. Holy Tradition is the life of the Church in the Holy Spirit and, consonant with the enduring life of the Church, is thus a wellspring of Holy Revelation, such that, consequently, it possesses the same authority as Holy Scripture.

From the time of Adam until that of Abraham, according to the old chronologies, 3,678 years passed, and if we add 430 years when the Israelites remained in Egypt, we have 4,108 years. Throughout this period of time Holy Scripture neither existed nor was the Sabbath considered as a feast among the people. During this period of many thousands of years the faithful and chosen people were guided to the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition, namely, from the teachings about God which they received from a living voice. Only for the duration of 1400 years - from the time of Moses until the advent of Christ - were they guided by the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament.

Just as before the books of the Old Testament were written the people were guided in the knowledge of God and on the path of salvation only by Holy Tradition (Tradition with a living voice, orally), so too were they precisely before the writing of the books of the New Testament. The Holy Tradition was the guide by which the first Christians were directed to the path of salvation. The first to impart the teachings of the New Testament with a living voice to the ears of the people was our Saviour Jesus Christ Himself, who for three and a half years continually taught the people, distributing His Gospel without, however, writing anything. Inasmuch as He was carrying out obedience to His Father, He didn’t send His Apostles to write but to preach the Gospel to the whole world, saying to them: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Mat. 28:19-20). From the day of its establishment (33 AD) until the year 44 AD, when the the Holy Apostle Matthew wrote the first Gospel [1], the Church was governed without the Scriptures of the New Testament, but only with the Holy Tradition of which only a part was later recorded. Although there were many other writers for whom it was claimed that they were inspired and faithful scribes of the Apostles, the Church is She who did or did not recognise them, for She is unerring. The Church lived the truth of the Gospel even before anything was committed to writing, having lived with the Holy Tradition from the outset.

So then, this is the Holy Tradition: The source and the root of the two Testaments - the Old and the New - and thus the reason why we call it a source of Holy Revelation, since it carries the same weight as Holy Scripture.

Inq.: Yes, but it is said that Holy Scripture as God’s word is not permitted to be substituted or exchanged with Tradition, which is man’s word, as is written in the Gospel: “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? . . . ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying: ‘This people . . . in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Mat. 15:3, 6-9; Mk. 7:13). Thus, it is not necessary for us to replace or add the tradition of men to the law of God, which is contained in Holy Scripture.

EC: What your friends have told you is not at all true, since the law of God is not only contained in Holy Scripture. Listen to what the divine Evangelist John says: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen” (Jn. 21:25). Again the same Evangelist declares in one of his epistles: “Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full” (2 Jn. 1:12). So, you see that the holy evangelist, when he had the ability, taught his disciples more with the living voice of Tradition than by sending them epistles. While your friends keep at all costs only so much as is written, they don’t take into account that both the Saviour and the majority of His Apostles did not leave anything written, but rather taught orally, with the living voice of Tradition.

Inq.: In that case, I don’t know how Christians are to understand the statement that we must not be seduced by the false teachings of men, especially those which are religious and rely on Scripture. After all, the Apostle counsels us: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). It is our responsibility, then, to preserve ourselves from the false traditions of men.

EC: Dearest to Christ, you do not discern the difference between the teachings of human traditions and those that proceed from the apostolic and evangelical tradition. You brought here an excerpt from Holy Scripture that refers to the tradition of human teachings and pseudo philosophy that has no relationship whatsoever to the evangelical and apostolic Tradition of the Church of Jesus Christ. Holy Tradition is neither a tradition of men, nor a philosophy, nor some kind of trickery, but is the word of God that He delivered to us personally. The great Apostle Paul teaches and exhorts us to keep with vigour the traditions, saying; “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15). On the contrary, some counsel weaker Christians to slander and abandon the apostolic and evangelical traditions, without understanding that Holy Scripture itself is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that grew out of the roots and tree of Holy Tradition.

Inq.: Why isn’t Holy Scripture sufficient for faith and salvation, without having any need whatsoever of Tradition? This appears to be the case from the words of the Apostle Paul to Timothy: “And that from a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:15-16). These words are clear. Any addition to Holy Scripture is unnecessary.

EC: Here he is speaking only about the Scripture of the Old Testament, for the New Testament had not yet been written. Paul wrote to Timothy that a good teacher could use the Old Testament for the support of his faith in Christ and his instruction in Christianity. According to the notion that you mistakenly asserted, it follows that not one book of the New Testament - from those that were written in the period that followed these epistles of the Apostle Paul to Timothy - should be accepted. Rather, it is enough for us to recognize the Old Testament books mentioned here in the passage to which you refer.

Inq.: Some people don’t acknowledge the Tradition because they say that with the passing of time it yielded to many illegitimate elements, so that, especially today, we are no longer able to discern the true apostolic Tradition from the false.

EC: The Church of Christ determined the truths of the faith, according to the long course of Tradition, through the teachings and canons of the holy Oecumenical Councils, decrees and the Symbol of Faith [The Creed], and with confessions [of Faith] by holy and wonderworking hierarchs such as were made at the many local synods which have been held continuously since the days of old. At these synods the authenticity and genuineness of the holy Orthodox Faith was firmly established, primarily therein where it was attacked by the existing heresies of the time. From the totality of such synods appears the irrevocable and inalterable content of Holy Tradition. This is understood when you examine closely the essence of the following conditions:

- Do not sanction conceptions that contain inconsistencies amongst themselves or contradictions with the apostolic Tradition and Holy Scripture. (A teaching is to be considered worthy of “Tradition” when it stems from the Saviour or the Holy Apostles and is directly under the influence of the Holy Spirit.)

- The Tradition is that which has been safeguarded from the Apostolic Church and has an uninterrupted continuity until today.

- The Tradition is that which is confessed and practiced by the entire universal Orthodox Church.

- The Tradition is that which is in harmony with the greatest portion of the fathers and ecclesiastical writers.

When a tradition does not fulfil these stipulations, it cannot be considered true and holy, and consequently cannot be considered admissible or fit to be observed.

Inq.: Notwithstanding all the efforts which you say the Orthodox Church has made and makes relative to the truth of Tradition, some believe only the teachings which are contained in Holy Scripture. For the first Christians - they say - accepted only such writings as were contained in Holy Scripture, as it is written: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). From this it follows that we should keep those teachings find written in Holy Scripture.

EC: However, the great Apostle Paul commends the Christans of Corinth not because they kept the written teachings, but because they obeyed him and observed with diligence the oral teachings that they had received from him. Listen to what he writes; “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and even as I delivered to you, ye are holding fast the traditions” (1 Cor. 11:2). I wonder, what is better to do: for us to keep only the written teachings or to follow the great Apostle Paul who extols those who keep the unwritten tradition as well? Furthermore, we’ve established that the Holy Apostles and Evangelists believed and preach-ed abundantly from Holy Tradition, which they inherited from of old and is not written anywhere in Holy Scripture.

Inq.: Where specifically does it appear that the Holy Apostles taught other teachings aside from those which are written in Holy Scripture?

EC: Here are two testimonies: The Holy Apostle Jude in his catholic epistle, verse nine, among others, says: “But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgement upon him, but said, The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 9). Dearest to Christ, search all of Holy Scripture and see if you will find written this utterance. Still further down in the same epistle the Apostle refers to the prophecy of Enoch, saying: “And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, to execute judgement upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him” (Jude 14-20). Yet, the Apostle Jude is not alone in speaking from Tradition. Listen to what the illustrious Paul says in his second epistle to Timothy; “Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith” (2 Tim. 3:8). And again the renowned Apostle Paul, guiding the priests of Ephesus, says: “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Now, I ask you, who insist on putting faith only in the written word, from where did the two Apostles - Jude and Paul - take the foregoing words, for you will not find them written anywhere in Holy Scripture?

Inq.: Still, I question if it is possible for Holy Tradition to be preserved until today unadulterated and genuine in all respects as in the beginning? Shouldn’t we possess more assurances from the written teachings of Holy Scripture?

EC: You saw above that the famed Paul commends the Christians of Corinth for keeping, with care and mindfulness, the unwritten traditions, such as they had received from his very lips. Moreover, you heard that the Apostles Paul and Jude employed in their preaching words taken directly from Holy Tradition, such as those that referred to the prophecy of Enoch, and others. Further, I also pointed out to you by what means Holy Tradition was preserved throughout the ages. Furthermore, the same Apostle Paul exhorts and directs the Christians of Thessalonica to be very attentive and vigilant to keep the Holy Tradition: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (2 Thess. 2:15). And in another place he says: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). In other words, he is speaking of the Gospel that he handed down to them with a living voice and not only by written word.

Inq.: How was this Canon of Holy Tradition in the Church preserved over the span of thousands of years? In our age some allege that from day to day the clergy and ecclesiastical writers alter the truth of Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition, which in the beginning was authentic and genuine? They say that if you have in your hand a book that was published 50 years ago and you put it next to one published recently, they would have nothing in common. It follows, then, that if the hierarchs and priests have done this with the sacred books, they would do the same with the Holy Tradition of which the Orthodox boast as having preserved unscathed from the Holy Apostles.

EC: That which your companions have accepted is not at all correct. The teachings of the Church of Christ are safeguarded by the Holy Spirit and cannot err (Mat. 10:17-20, John 4: 16-26, 1 Tim. 3:15). Its very founder, Jesus Christ governs it in an unseen way, until the end of the ages (Mat. 28:20). If some ecclesiastical writers, hierarchs, priests or laity translated the Bible from another language or amended some passage of which an expression does not correspond to the present-day speech of our people, this would be an adjustment and modification of expression and not a serious alteration of the substance of the Biblical text. If today a Romanian from the time of the Elder Mirtsea or Stephan the Great (1504) were resurrected and you wanted to speak with him, you would understand him with difficulty, the language having developed, no longer being exactly that which was spoken then. That’s exactly what happened regarding the books. With the passage of time the writers’ words or expressions were amended with suitable present-day language, without however, changing the meaning of the profound and sacred writings. Previously, I referred you to the foundation upon which Holy Tradition rests and by what means the preservation of its authentic original image is ensured and is conveyed through the ages. This refers to, namely, the ancient Symbol of Faith (The Creed), the apostolic canons and the dogmatic decisions of the seven [2] Oecumenical Councils. To these can also be added the following monumental and meaningful testaments - assurances of the unimpaired preservation of the Holy Tradition:

- The acts of the early Church, the witnesses of the company of the apostles, amongst whom are Saint Ignatius the God-bearer (+104 AD), a disciple of the Apostles and Saint Polycarp of Smyrna (+106 AD). These Fathers admonished the faithful of their day to safeguard themselves from the teachings of heretics and to maintain in the full only the Apostolic Tradition (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Bk 2:36).

- Hegessipus, Eusebius tells us5, attempted to collect the whole of the apostolic traditions and nearly managed it, gathering more than five books worth of material that Eusebius studied. Unfortunately, with the passage of time, these books were eventually lost (Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, Bk 4:8).

- Saint Irenaeus (+202 AD) and Clement of Alexandria (+215 AD) inform us: “Those who explain Scripture without the help of the Church’s Tradition cut asunder the significance of truth” (Stromatis, pg 7).

Behold, further, those brilliant witnesses representing the faith of apostolic times and the period immediately following it up until the fourth century. The acts of the ancient Church are an important testimony to the value of the Holy Tradition and honour shown it from those times until today.

- Origin (+250 AD) says: “Preserve the Holy Tradition in the Church.”

- St. Epiphanios (+403 AD) writes: “It is necessary to hold to the Tradition because it is not possible for everything to be found in Holy Scripture. The Holy Apostles handed down some things via the written word, while others via the spoken.”

- Saint John Chrysostom (+407 AD) says: “Hence it is clear that the Holy Apostles did not deliver everything by epistle; rather many things they handed down via the spoken word which is also trustworthy. If there is the Tradition, then don’t ask for anything more” (4th Homily on 2 Thess. See verse 2:45)

- Saint Gregory of Nyssa (+394 AD) writes: “We have the Tradition set out for us from the Fathers like an inheritance by apostolic succession and transmitted via the saints” (Against Eunomius, Book 40).

- Saint Basil the Great (+379 AD) in his writings provides similar testimony. Here is how he expresses it: “Among the dogmas and kerygma (evangelical truths) that are safeguarded in the Church, some we have from the written teachings while others we’ve received orally from the Tradition of the Apostles by a concealed succession. The later hold the same legitimacy and force as the written texts” (On the Holy Spirit)

We must uphold with great reverence and godliness Holy Tradition since all that is needful to effect our salvation is not found within Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture instructs us to do many things; however, it does not make manifest to us the light. For example, it instructs us to be baptized, but it doesn’t explain to us the method. Likewise, it guides us to confess our sins, receive communion, be crowned (married) - but nowhere does it specify the rite of carrying-out these mysterion (sacraments). Furthermore, it instructs us to pray, but doesn’t tell us how, where and when. It tells us to make the sign of the Holy Cross in front of our chest according to the psalmist “Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us,” but it doesn’t show us how. Who teaches us in writing to worship facing east? Where in Scripture are we told the words of the epiclesis (invocation) of the Holy Spirit for the sanctification of the all-holy Mysteries? Which teaching from Holy Scripture instructs us to bless the water of Baptism and the holy Unction of Holy Chrismation? Which passage in Scripture teaches us about the threefold denunciation and the renunciations of Satan before Holy Baptism? The prayer of glorification toward the Holy Trinity - “Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit” - from which passage did it come to us?

Posing these questions to the slanderer of Tradition, Saint Basil the Great says: “If we consent to abandon the unwritten traditions on the pretext that they don’t have great worth, we err in great and elevated matters, rejecting the Gospel.”

The ordering, therefore, by which the Church upholds the unwritten is: whatever is of apostolic descent and is practiced by the Fathers receives the validity of tradition and has the power of law in the Church of Christ (The Rudder, Neamts Monastery, 1844, Canons 87, 91). Accordingly therefore, it must safeguarded since its importance and benefit springs from the relationship that exists between it and Holy Scripture. It is true that both have remained within a reciprocal unity and intimate relationship - a relationship based on the fact that both comprise the holy revelation of God and for us are the fount and source of Revelation. Hence, it is not possible for there to exist an inner contradiction between the two or for us to exclude one from the other. Holy Scripture possesses its unique witness of the scriptural canon and its dogmatic character (its divine inspiration) only in and with Holy Tradition, while Holy Tradition is able to prove the authenticity of its truth only together with Holy Scripture.


1 There are scholars who believe that, in fact, “the writing of the three first Gospels is placed. . . around the year 70 AD.” (J. Karabidopoulos, Introduction to the New Testament, p. 104 (In Greek))

2 The Elder here is referring to the well-known seven Oecumenical Councils, however, in essence the Church also accepts an eighth (879), which confirmed the rejection of the “filioque” clause in the presence and with the support of the Church of Rome, and a ninth (1341), which rejected the humanistic-scholastic theology of Barlaam in support of the Hesychasts and St. Gregory Palamas. The truths expounded by these two councils have helped to uphold the Church against the theological distortions which have been brought to bear over the past 650 years, first in the West, and soon thereafter in the East.

TOPICS: Apologetics; General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: orthodox; scripture; tradition
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 181 next last
The source links for both articles are
On Holy Scripture
On Holy Tradition

Read about Elder Cleopa in Father Cleopa: The Elder of Romanian Orthodoxy

1 posted on 11/11/2006 8:16:19 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis; kosta50; Agrarian; NYer; Salvation; Dionysiusdecordealcis; jo kus; gbcdoj; ...


2 posted on 11/11/2006 8:19:29 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex

Elder Cleopa

3 posted on 11/11/2006 8:24:59 AM PST by annalex
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex

Ping = Later

4 posted on 11/11/2006 8:25:45 AM PST by Wings-n-Wind (All of the answers remain available; Wisdom is gained by asking the right questions!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex

"EC: Each Christian has the need to read Holy Scripture, yet each Christian does not also have the authority or ability to teach and interpret the words of Scripture. This privileged authority is reserved for the Church via its holy clergy and theologians, men who are instructed in and knowledgeable of the true faith. When we consider how our Saviour gave the grace of teaching to His Holy Apostles (Mat. 28:20) and not to the masses it is easy for us to see that the prerogative to teach is held only by the bishops, priests and theologians of our Church."

Pretty poor interpretation of Mat. 28:20.

5 posted on 11/11/2006 8:34:26 AM PST by wmfights (Psalm : 27)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex
pou hsaste, aqelfe mou;
6 posted on 11/11/2006 8:53:47 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex

One of my favorite modern Orthodox teachers. His writings are among those we use in our classes for catechumens.

7 posted on 11/11/2006 8:55:14 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: wmfights; annalex

"Pretty poor interpretation of Mat. 28:20."

Really? I suppose then we ought to be thankful that after about 1500 years asleep at the switch while the Fathers wrote under the inspiration of the Evil One, the Holy Spirit finally woke up and inspired the Protestant Reformers to just can what The Church had taught from the beginning, before they got angry over the sale of indulgences?

8 posted on 11/11/2006 9:01:50 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: annalex
Synopsis of the above:

9 posted on 11/11/2006 9:07:11 AM PST by Gamecock (Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology. J.I.P.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock; annalex; Agrarian; kosta50; Forest Keeper

What is it you find circular about the Elder's writings? Its very traditional Orthodox theology on the subject.

10 posted on 11/11/2006 9:13:17 AM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: annalex

This looks interesting. Back later.

11 posted on 11/11/2006 9:14:47 AM PST by Salvation (With God all things are possible.;)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: annalex; wmfights; betty boop; William Terrell; Quix; Gamecock; HarleyD; 1000 silverlings; ...
Thanks for the ping, annalex.

Of course, most Protestants would disagree with much of the above, particularly this...

"... Each Christian has the need to read Holy Scripture, yet each Christian does not also have the authority or ability to teach and interpret the words of Scripture. This privileged authority is reserved for the Church via its holy clergy and theologians, men who are instructed in and knowledgeable of the true faith...

...Not everyone has the intellectual ability and the requisite divine grace necessary to expound Holy Scripture correctly.

...Holy Scripture is like a very deep well wherein is comprised the infinite wisdom of God. If someone thirsty dives into this well to drink of all its water, he will be drowned within...

Thirsty men are "drowned" by too much Scripture? On the contrary, Scripture proclaims the only way to end our thirst...

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." -- John 6:35

"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." -- Matthew 4:4

As for me, I prefer what the more concise Westminster Confession of Faith (with Scripture proofs) has to say about Scripture...

Chapter I
Of The Holy Scripture

I. Although the light of nature, and the works of creation and providence do so far manifest the goodness, wisdom, and power of God, as to leave men unexcusable;[1] yet are they not sufficient to give that knowledge of God, and of His will, which is necessary unto salvation.[2] Therefore it pleased the Lord, at sundry times, and in divers manners, to reveal Himself, and to declare that His will unto His Church;[3] and afterwards for the better preserving and propagating of the truth, and for the more sure establishment and comfort of the Church against the corruption of the flesh, and the malice of Satan and of the world, to commit the same wholly unto writing;[4] which makes the Holy Scripture to be most necessary;[5] those former ways of God's revealing His will unto His people being now ceased.[6]

II. Under the name of Holy Scripture, or the Word of God written, are now contained all the books of the Old and New Testament, which are these: Of the Old Testament: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, I Samuel, II Samuel, I Kings, II Kings, I Chronicles, II Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi. Of the New Testament: The Gospels according to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, The Acts of the Apostles, Paul's Epistles to the Romans, Corinthians I, Corinthians II, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians I , Thessalonians II , To Timothy I , To Timothy II, To Titus, To Philemon, The Epistle to the Hebrews, The Epistle of James, The first and second Epistles of Peter, The first, second, and third Epistles of John, The Epistle of Jude, The Revelation of John. All which are given by inspiration of God to be the rule of faith and life.[7]

III. The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.[8]

IV. The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (who is truth itself) the author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.[9]

V. We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture.[10] And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man's salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.[11]

VI. The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man's salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men.[12] Nevertheless, we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word:[13] and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature, and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed.[14]

VII. All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all:[15] yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed for salvation are so clearly propounded, and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.[16]

VIII. The Old Testament in Hebrew (which was the native language of the people of God of old), and the New Testament in Greek (which, at the time of the writing of it, was most generally known to the nations), being immediately inspired by God, and, by His singular care and providence, kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical;[17] so as, in all controversies of religion, the Church is finally to appeal unto them.[18] But, because these original tongues are not known to all the people of God, who have right unto, and interest in the Scriptures, and are commanded, in the fear of God, to read and search them,[19] therefore they are to be translated in to the vulgar language of every nation unto which they come,[20] that, the Word of God dwelling plentifully in all, they may worship Him in an acceptable manner;[21] and, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, may have hope.[22]

IX. The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture (which is not manifold, but one), it must be searched and known by other places that speak more clearly.[23]

X. The supreme judge by which all controversies of religion are to be determined, and all decrees of councils, opinions of ancient writers, doctrines of men, and private spirits, are to be examined, and in whose sentence we are to rest, can be no other but the Holy Spirit speaking in the Scripture.[24]

The church submits to Scripture; not the other way around.

12 posted on 11/11/2006 9:43:19 AM PST by Dr. Eckleburg ("I don't think they want my respect; I think they want my submission." - Flemming Rose)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: annalex
On Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition

Recovering the Catholic Moral Tradition: The notion of happiness

Tradition and Reform

APOSTOLIC TRADITION: Consistency or Contradiction?

Can Vatican II be interpreted in the light of Tradition?

The New Mass: A Return to Tradition???

Pope praises Ukrainian-Catholic Church for upholding Sacred Tradition, communion with Seat of Peter

The Shadow Tradition - Magisterium vs Murk

[Catholic] Tradition catching on with Baptists [Ecumenical Ash Wed. Service]

Pope will preside at Ash Wednesday Mass, procession; act will renew ancient tradition

How Tradition Gave Us the Bible

Papal Supremacy Is Against Tradition

"In Light Of Tradition"... The Society Of St. Pius X And Vatican II

13 posted on 11/11/2006 10:25:10 AM PST by Salvation (With God all things are possible.;)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Gamecock

Are you going around in circles right now??? Still??

14 posted on 11/11/2006 10:25:53 AM PST by Salvation (With God all things are possible.;)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Eckleburg
The Catholic church says it has sole authority to interpret scripture, then proceeds to interpret scripture to say that it has the sole authority to interpret scripture.

15 posted on 11/11/2006 10:31:32 AM PST by William Terrell (Individuals can exist without government but government can't exist without individuals.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Salvation

no, why?

16 posted on 11/11/2006 11:25:40 AM PST by Gamecock (Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology. J.I.P.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Dr. Eckleburg


of course.

[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis
Luke 1 on the sufficiency of what Luke wrote:

1Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, 2just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, 3it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; 4so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

Sounds like the Apostle Luke thought that what he wrote was the exact truth. Was he teaching fallacy? Was there more than the exact truth which he wrote down which is essential for our salvation? He does state that Theophilus was taught something which we do not have written record of, which would be the traditions of those who were there when it all went down, but Luke wrote what he wrote to show Theophilus the exact truth where the traditions might have things wrong.

18 posted on 11/11/2006 12:44:49 PM PST by Ottofire (Fire Tempers Steel)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Kolokotronis; Dr. Eckleburg
Its very traditional Orthodox theology on the subject.

Tradition is equal to Scripture. The reason? Tradition. Of course it falls apart when you consider that EO and RCs both cling to tradition, yet each considers the other schismatic. Whose tradition is right?

Now of course now is the time when out of frustration someone will trot out the myth of the nonexistent 30,000 Protestant denominations. The answer to that is we agree on the nature of Salvation, Faith in Christ's perfect work.

Sooo, please tell me: Is the RC correct or the EO?

19 posted on 11/11/2006 1:00:12 PM PST by Gamecock (Pelagianism is the natural heresy of zealous Christians who are not interested in theology. J.I.P.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Ottofire

John 21:25

20 posted on 11/11/2006 1:13:12 PM PST by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-4041-6061-80 ... 181 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson