Back to Subjectivism

Here is an interesting article by an M. James Sawyer on Protestant views of the canon of Scripture. It is interesting to note how much is actually conceded to arguments made by Catholics and Orthodox. In the end what he argues for is a return to Calvin’s view of the internal witness of the Spirit. I don’t think that gives us any objective reason or method for why Protestants accept the canon that they do. Some of my reasons can be found in Rupert Davies’ little book, The Problem of Authority in the Continental Reformers.

5 Responses to Back to Subjectivism

  1. Don Bradley says:

    My question is more pointed. Is the canon considered closed to the Orthodox? For instance, in the ecumenical discussions with the Copts it appears the canon was either not discussed, or just glossed over…….. the Copts use a broader Table of Contents than we do.

    We generally accept the LXX and the 27 NT books, but it is something that has just evolved without a whole lot of hand-wringing, at least in the past 1600 years. My sense is that it is the province of each individual Bishop to prescribe what is to be read on which days in the liturgical cycle, and we obey and do it. But there is not some ecumenical decree or canon that limits the Bishop, he just follows Tradition. Rome and various Prots have attempted to pronounce the canon closed, but that isn’t very binding upon us.

    +Iakivos tells your parish what is to be read, as +Dmitri does for mine; that they happen to be the same isn’t coincidental. For instance, Revelation is generally considered part of the canon, but we never read from it. Your Bishop or mine is free to walk into any of his parishes and read it aloud, but they simply don’t. They are free to add regular OT readings, but everybody would whine about lengthening the liturgy. A Bishop could read from Baruch at liturgy and cite Athanasius’ letter of 367, thereby seemingly “adding” to the canon, they simply choose not to.

    My point? The Orthodox canon isn’t closed in the same way a Western Christian thinks of closed. What is binding is Tradition. Both Rome and Prots have wrenched scripture out of its place in the liturgy for a purpose other than what it was structured for.

  2. Greg DeLassus says:

    More to the point, given that none of us can claim to have read every book in the world how would we know whether we were not missing something important. Even if you can identify real scripture by the heartburn, this will not serve to establish that you would not get the same heartburn from reading the Isopanisad, or some such.

  3. “In the end what he argues for is a return to Calvin’s view of the internal witness of the Spirit.”

    That is the one thing that started me to look to Orthodoxy when I was a Calvinist. Mormons call it a burning in the bosom. How do you know it is correct? The spirit tells me so. How would you feel if it were you telling you it is so? Would you feel any different?

  4. Don Bradley says:

    Is there a definitive, circumscribed canon for the Orthodox?

%d bloggers like this: