‘Another Gospel’?

Christian fighting with Apollyon

We are adjured to stick with the tradition we received by word and in writing – in short, we are told Christian belief cannot just be made up as you go along. Yes, when we encounter the Risen Lord we are excited – who would not be? But we need to find our feet after the giddiness. Do we really think we are free from the effects of original sin, and that we can, at a glance discern the depths, heights and infinity of God? That would be to think that having eaten of fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we were qualified to know better than the billions of Christians who have lived before us.

Let me be clear. I don’t mean that all orthodox Christians have to take one view on all matters where we disagree. I do, however, maintain that most orthodox Christians agree on far more than they disagree. Some disagreements seem to me too serious for fellowship to be possible – if a fellow tells me Christ rose ‘spiritually’ and was not ‘God’, then I cannot fellowship with him. But if he tells me that he thinks in all good conscience that the Pope is the successor of St Peter, then fair enough – I may disagree, but it does not seem to me a belief outside the range of the normal for a Christian – after all, more Christians in the world believe that than believe what I believe.

For me, ‘another Gospel’ is what it says – someone not preaching that Christ is the Messiah, that he did not rise again, that He is not the second person of the Trinity, and that there is no afterlife. So, although I disagree with Catholics and Anglicans on many matters, I do not, I think, do so on essentials. I do not think that we have the power to ordain women as presbyters or elders, but if others do, for me that is not a deal-breaker; if others find it so, so be it, and be it on their conscience too. We are in a world where Satan is not hard to find, in fact one where he is hard to avoid, and I cannot find it in me to sow disruption in the ranks by arguing over an issue which I am sure Satan loves to use to divide us.

The modern era is antithetical to the Faith and to its cherished beliefs, and it seems to me essential at this juncture that we do not succumb to the temptation to fight each other. That does not mean syncretism, it means being able to distinguish what is essential from what is not, it is called using one’s judgment, and is the sort of thing adults used to do before they got told how to think by those who govern them. I have far more in common with an orthodox Catholic and Anglican than they have with some of their own co-religionists, and anyone who knows anything about the preachers of another gospel, knows they stick together – that might be the one thing to learn from them.

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28 thoughts on “‘Another Gospel’?

  1. Geoffrey – I wish you could be more specific about whom you consider to be promulgating another gospel, who is orthodox and who isn’t.

    If I have time, I’ll try to construct a post where I claim that NT Wright’s ‘New Perspective’ is another gospel (in the sense of being pure heresy) – and I wonder what your views are on that.

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    • I have trouble with Wright, but doubt I am clever enough to know what he is talking about at least half the time. I prefer to keep it to what I think of as orthodox theologians – that is almost anyone who wrote before the 1960s!

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  2. Since ‘evil’ is actually ‘nothing’ in itself, Satan is rather wily as to how he goes about corrupting the followers of Christ. Often, he suggests the most benign adjustments to one’s belief that no ‘sensible’ man could argue with. This invariably leads to other Objective Truths being transmuted into subjective truth and eventually a world view that is filled with relativism and subjectivism; corruption of Truth and adherence to half-truths. If this is the temptation that a person continually is trying to foist upon the timeless teachings of the faith then one should stay far away from the one who argues for this corruption of the Faith unless one is capable of pointing out such deconstructionist tactics to others who might begin to drain a glass filled to overflowing (in Divine Truth) to one where it is at best only half full or worse filled to the brim with a homogenous liquid made up of both Truths and half-truths. This is evil and it does pay for us to pray to not succumb to temptation and to be delivered from the Evil One.

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  3. I’d like to begin my virtually extended my hand of friendship after the statement, “ I may disagree, but it does not seem to me a belief outside the range of the normal for a Christian – after all, more Christians in the world believe that than believe what I believe.” I will certainly say that when you disagree with anyone, you do so without attacking their dignity. This is something I very much admire.
    I often feel like I have big bullseye on my chest being a Catholic, especially with Evangelicals who attempt to articulate that I am somehow different than a Christian. In fact, during the teaching year, I had a very troubled student and another teacher asked, “How do you do it?” I said, “My faith allows me to see the dignity of his soul.” She replied, “What do you mean by faith?” I said, “Oh I am a devout Catholic.” “Oh, well I am a Christian.”

    In regards to my own Church, I do not believe that the sacrament of Holy Orders can be bestowed on women; however, like you, if a Protestant denomination decides to do it, I’m not going to raise attention to it. However, I will certainly object when my Church is criticized for not “changing with the times.” In fact, Servus probably read comments on my blog with a blogger’s parting words were, “If it makes you feel any better Catholicism sounds like Baptists. My reply, “I’m not shocked with Christians having things in common.”

    From my understanding you’re discussing “another gospel” being tied to Christological heresy.

    St. Augustine wrote, ““He cannot have God for his father who refuses to have the Church for his mother.”

    But I am interested where you see a disconnect of Peter being the first Pope of Rome?

    The Diatesseron 23 in A.D. 170.

    “Simon Cephas answered and said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah: flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee also, that you are Cephas, and on this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it”

    Clementine Homilies 17:19 states in A.D. 221:

    Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome: ‘For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church’ (Matt. 16:18)

    From Origen, Homilies on the Exodus:

    “Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’

    Where do you believe the separation begins from Peter? These documents lead to Early Church fathers? Does it occur before St. Jerome and St. Augustine, who I would argue are very much the early established Catholic Church?

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    • Philip – yes – I’d like to pin him down on what he means.

      I mentioned NT Wright earlier, because I had stated earlier that in my opinion he presents ‘another gospel’.

      NT Wright certainly throws Anselm right out of the window – and I suspect that serious Christians from the whole spectrum will unite in describing his theology, which is basically ‘Covenant Nomism’, as a another gospel.

      I’m wondering where Geoffrey stands on this.

      NT Wright certainly has the arrogance to believe that everybody except for him got Paul wrong over the last 2000 years, one of his books with the hugely arrogant title ‘What Paul Really Said’.

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      • Some of perusing other blogs, It appears there may be a few around the blogosphere that believe they understand St. Paul better than everybody in the past 2000 years.

        However, I can’t presume to know what Geoff thinks on the matter on NT Wright from his this post.

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      • As I say Jock, he’s a very clever fellow is he understands what he writes – not being that, I fail to grasp what he means half the time, but it doesn’t, to me, sound much like what everyone else thought Paul meant, and I get suspicious when anyone considers everyone else out of step.

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        • I’d say that for much of it I can’t see what he’s on about – either because he’s so clever and my poor brain isn’t big enough to understand it or else because he’s writing gibberish. But I’d also say that there are some clear and plain passages and sentences that can only be taken one way, which show that he really is promulgating another gospel.

          I don’t think that being an intellectual giant ever got anybody into the kingdom of heaven – also, theologians do have a duty to frame their stuff in a way that helps others in their faith – and that means writing it in a way that it can at least be understood by an ordinary person who doesn’t have a brain the size of a planet.

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    • Thank you Philip – and my hand is extended too. Yes, I can fellowship with anyone who confesses the Nicene Creed.

      I think on the Peter issue, it seems clear the early Fathers offered slightly differing testimony in terms of what a primacy of honour meant. It further seems to me that under Leo the Great these claims were systematised in a way that, when we look at the Orthodox reception of canon 28, Constantinople did not accept – so I’d date it to then.

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      • I think we’re talking about two different issues, may be not, as I believe that you can separate the fact the RCC is the church that through tradition is the Church of Peter. From your post, It appears objecting to the Peter being the first Pope of the RCC when there is a line of evidence from the Church Fathers that do extend to St. Augustine, which I would certainly argue at this point we have an established Roman Catholic Church clearly at this point.

        My Orthodox friend, doesn’t disagree that the Roman Church has the ability to claim Peter as its first Pope, he disagrees with Petrine Authority truly means. He believes that it is just an honor bestowed upon the Roman Church rather than the idea that everyone has to be in communion with Rome, this how describes the rejection of Constantinople by the idea of in the East to a “principle of apostolicity” or “Petrine principle” in the West.

        So, in this regard, do you disagree with even this position from East?

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    • Philip – you remind me of an elderly lady I knew. When visiting Rome, she was told about Christians being fed to the lions – to which she replied, ‘oh – is that why there are only Catholics are left?’

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      • I suppose I don’t follow you Jock, so you’ll have to explain. I am obviously Catholic, I think Catholics are Christians. My wife is Lutheran, I think she is Christian because she professes the Nicene Creed. In this manner I agree with Geoff. Where Geoff and I disagree is Petrine Authority. I was asking Geoff questions because I wanted to understand Geoff’s precise thought on the matter.

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        • It was your comment about ‘evangelicals’ who try to articulate that you are somehow different from a Christian.

          I was simply pointing out that I had met one of them.

          This was from a small, closed, community, where people didn’t get out much – and her holiday abroad (to Italy) was her first trip out of a very small community. I don’t think there was any deliberate malice about it. When she got back, she also told us about ‘Graffiti’s pisseria’.

          I’m not sure you’d get anybody with a brain suggesting that you were somehow different from a Christian.

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          • Thanks for clarifying, I thought you may have meant this, but I wasn’t sure. I grew up in a community that was largely divided between Evangelical and Catholic. The Youth minister of the Evangelical church would often try to get high schoolers to come to his meetings with games and pizza, and tell the Catholics that they were not baptized and going to hell.

            I dated a girl who attended these youth meetings, So went to a few, and I remember when he had staged a court room scene with lanterns and hooded figures dressed in white robes. They made each high school student that was a part of the youth group sit on a “witness” stand and read to them their “sins.” These high schoolers were in tears, they attempted to do it on me, but they didn’t really know me so their accusations were general, but I remember the members being quite personal.

            Even here on wordpress, if you search the tag Catholic, you’ll find a couple of bloggers who are Evangelicals, whose goal is to attack Catholics.

            I’ve experienced plenty of the type.

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      • The foundation of my belief is in the Latin Church, but I’ve always loved having great conversations with any Orthodox. In my experience with my orthodox friend, It’s refreshing to hear someone challenge the ideas of Classical Liberalism and democracy. It’s refreshing to see someone in a college classroom challenge the idea of liberal “rights” and insisting on duty.

        Also, one of my college professors in a secular university was Russian Orthodox, she was a great rarity. I wish I could show you the faces of some of the students after things she said. Haha!

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  4. “I have far more in common with an orthodox Catholic and Anglican than they have with some of their own co-religionists…”

    I found myself disagreeing with you and trying to put my finger on where, but when you say this I must admit you have me. I guess for me, though, it’s not a matter of the quantity of items on which we agree being greater than those on which we disagree. It’s more like, the things we agree on are enough to support fellowship and mutual support. Perhaps not enough to support full *communion*, but surely enough to support *alliance* in these times.

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  5. It doesn’t appear that I make such a claim when I review my comment, and it doesn’t seem that Geoff was confused.

    It is apparent that I quoted an early Christian as a cite the source as “Clementine Homilies 17:19 states in A.D. 221” in accordance with Apostolic tradition.

    You might want to view 2 Thess. 2:15 “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter”

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    • Philip – it would be good to know exactly what traditions they were taught by Paul. In Acts 17 we have: ‘Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.’ So we have at least part of what Paul was telling them here.

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  6. I thought that you were either on moderation or had been banned or both.

    What happened? I thought that the chances of you getting to post here were less than those for the second coming of Jesus happening within the next week.

    Liked by 1 person

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