Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is It Arrogant?

One of my dear friends (who is now Eastern Orthodox) would tell me that we are to humble ourselves and listen to the Church Fathers. He would say that it's sassy and disrespectful to think that they may have made occasional errors or that we (18 centuries later) might see something in a better way than they.

Many years later, I'm still wondering about that.

In Psalm 119 (:97-104) the psalmist says he understands more than the ancients,he has more understanding than all his teachers, because he meditates on the Lord's testimonies. I'm wondering if/how that fits in with my friend's comment about submitting to the Church Fathers.

Adam & Eve's children knew that the Seed of the Woman would crush the head of the serpent. Adam walked with God and talked with Him. And yet, through the centuries, God revealed more and more. The Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. And later, the Messiah would come from the line of David. And later, the Messiah would be born of a virgin. And many years later, the Holy Spirit --through the prophets-- reveals that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. As the prophets meditated upon God's word, preached God's word, wrestled with God's word, the Holy Spirit showed them more details. Does this mean that Habakkuk and Jeremiah were lacking in respect for Adam and Noah?

You know in your own life how you take more care with situations when once you have encountered a problem. Me -- I don't like kids to slam doors. I "knew" that door-slamming was bad, but I became vehement about it after my baby's finger was nearly severed in a slammed door. I am more diligent about washing the undercarriage of my vehicles during salt season winter after we lost a reliable car to huge amounts of rust [at 220,000 miles]. It's not a bad thing to face problems and cope with them and try to prevent those problems from coming back to cause harm another day.

The Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. The apostles knew Jesus' teaching; they were close to Him; they are the authority upon whose word the Church is founded. The church fathers knew the apostles' teaching; they were students who passed on the message they had heard. But do we have less now? Less reliability? Less insight? Less accuracy? I think, as the Church has encountered heresies and heterodoxy, as the Church has struggled to refine her language in response to misunderstandings, she has gained, not lost.

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