The confusion of Francis Chan and the response from Josiah Trenham

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
I am curious as how you (Church historians) would respond to the following video, the main premises being that the Church had theological unity until the Great Schism and that all historical Churches had an Altar.

Chan seems to be like a wave tossed by the wind and is desperately trying to find solid ground. Trenham makes the error that there was theological unity in history, I am not sure how I would answer his Altar argument. Clearly the Reformed confessions bring much needed stability, it is interesting that neither of these men do not follow that route.

 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis

He was actually friends with Greg Bahnsen at one time. He is one of the sharper EO popular theologians today. His book House Built on Sand (or some such title) is *the* go to for EO converts today. I think many of his claims are historically suspect, but someone like Chan doesn't stand a chance with him.

The problem that Trenham and others have to overcome is that when the early thinkers speak of tradition, we have no way of proving it means the minutiae of key EO practices.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
theological unity until the Great Schism and that all historical Churches had an Altar.

That claim is funny given that by the time of Leo III the West was basically Augustinian in its Trinitarianism (if not perhaps full orbed filioque). If there was unity, then why was there an uproar over Photios?

The claim on the altar is probably accurate, though.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
He was actually friends with Greg Bahnsen at one time. He is one of the sharper EO popular theologians today. His book House Built on Sand (or some such title) is *the* go to for EO converts today.

Yeah, I read Trenham's book Rock and Sand a few years ago when it came out. I still have it somewhere downstairs in my basement on my EO and RCC shelf. I listened to a multi-part interview with him on Ancient Faith Radio around the time the book came out. It's hard to put a finger on it, but his manner of speaking (tone/annunciation) seems...well...artificial to me...like he's using a special "EO priest voice" or something. I'm not trying to make fun, really. At any rate.

am curious as how you (Church historians) would respond to the following video, the main premises being that the Church had theological unity until the Great Schism and that all historical Churches had an Altar.

I watched the video. I haven't seen K.P. Yohannan in years. Wow. Did he convert to something orthodox-like? Who was the man in the middle between Chan and Yohannan? That isn't Hank Hanegraaff is it?

Chan seems to be like a wave tossed by the wind and is desperately trying to find solid ground.

Agreed. I started wondering about him when he abruptly left the church he was pastoring to start a house church movement. I wonder if his wife and kids are on the same page with him. That has to be quite dizzying for them.
 

Seeking_Thy_Kingdom

Puritan Board Sophomore
I haven't seen K.P. Yohannan in years. Wow. Did he convert to something orthodox-like?
I was wondering who that was, looks like possibly some sort or Oriental Orthodoxy?


That isn't Hank Hanegraaff is it?
Yes it is, he converted to EO sometime last year I think.

I haven’t come across the entire discussion , this popped up on my feed since I do have a fascination with EO.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
To be fair the early church was FAR MORE liturgical and mystagogical than we are today. It doesn't follow, though, that everything EO or RCC does is warranted, but we need to acknowledge that fact. The modern tendency, for example, to take the Lord's Supper quarterly or a few times a year would have shocked and horrified them.
 

B.L.

Puritan Board Sophomore
To be fair the early church was FAR MORE liturgical and mystagogical than we are today. It doesn't follow, though, that everything EO or RCC does is warranted, but we need to acknowledge that fact. The modern tendency, for example, to take the Lord's Supper quarterly or a few times a year would have shocked and horrified them.

I need to brush off my knowledge of church history, but wasn't there a stretch of time in the eastern church where participation in communion fell to once a year in certain jurisdictions?

Nonetheless, I think the infrequency that is common today is most unfortunate. My church celebrates communion quarterly, which was a shock after being in churches that celebrate it weekly. To this day I feel like corporate worship is incomplete.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Freshman
To be fair the early church was FAR MORE liturgical and mystagogical than we are today. It doesn't follow, though, that everything EO or RCC does is warranted, but we need to acknowledge that fact. The modern tendency, for example, to take the Lord's Supper quarterly or a few times a year would have shocked and horrified them.
Yes, I wish my church would do it every Sunday. I really don't see why we don't. It seems clear in scripture that it is something that should be done all the time along with preaching.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
I need to brush off my knowledge of church history, but wasn't there a stretch of time in the eastern church where participation in communion fell to once a year in certain jurisdictions?

That was true of the West. The actual liturgy of St John Chrysostom has it weekly. St Basil recommended doing it several times a week.

Catachumens were baptized only on Easter, which was followed by the Eucharist, so that might be it.
 

ZackF

Puritan Board Graduate
That was true of the West. The actual liturgy of St John Chrysostom has it weekly. St Basil recommended doing it several times a week.

Catachumens were baptized only on Easter, which was followed by the Eucharist, so that might be it.
Yes. You could say communion has always been practiced weekly in the RCC if you only count the priests. They RC laity at the time of the Reformation didn’t participate very often.
 

Poimen

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I am curious as how you (Church historians) would respond to the following video, the main premises being that the Church had theological unity until the Great Schism and that all historical Churches had an Altar.

Chan seems to be like a wave tossed by the wind and is desperately trying to find solid ground. Trenham makes the error that there was theological unity in history, I am not sure how I would answer his Altar argument. Clearly the Reformed confessions bring much needed stability, it is interesting that neither of these men do not follow that route.

Regarding Chan: he is very confused about what he believes and he appears to doubt his own ordination or its legitimacy. As a Presbyterian I see this is a problem of ecclesiology, which can be worked out without an appeal to an authority beyond scripture but rather to the authority structure revealed in scripture. But he talks hypothetically about a guy in his basement coming up with his own interpretation of the Bible and gathering followers so perhaps this is what he himself had done and regrets it and is, therefore, showing some humility.

Chan is clearly vulnerable to suggestion or influence as he speaks about wanting to surrender to this idea of a monolithic, ecclesiastical testimony that can be appealed to from every age of history. He, in his own words, feels lost and is looking for some kind of assurance (of faith). This seems to be common with many converts & protoconverts to Romanism & Eastern Orthodoxy: insecurity and seeking cognitive rest.

The gentleman who responded to his video encourages Protestants to read the church fathers and come to their own conclusions but what if my conclusions differ from his? Presumably he would say that mine are incorrect, but as others have pointed out, we are simply dealing with another level of authority at that point - not ECF but my reading of them vs. his or, who has the authority to interpret them properly. And how is it consistent that I be allowed to read and come to my own conclusions about the ECF fathers but not the scripture? After all, this assumes that scripture is higher than (elevated above) church teachings, not equal with one another. If the one is clearly from God and the other questionable, I know where I am going to land at the end of the day.

And rather than just accepting sweeping statements without proof, we would need a fairly comprehensive survey of the first 5 centuries of the church, including the apostolic era. Chan speaks of a time when everyone agreed on, for example, marriage, sexuality and divorce and yet even Romanists and Orthodox today do not agree on what is the correct practice with respect to marital vows and clergy.

Supposing I were, for whatever reason, willing to submit to Mr. Trenham, how do I know he is one of the authorised interpreters? Just because he has the name orthodox attached to his communion does not mean that they are. Perhaps there is another group (council) or person (papacy) to whom I should submit. In other words, there is no necessity that, having concluded that my current church teaches something different than what church tradition has universally held, that I join their communion.

Furthermore, he needs to clearly show from scripture & tradition that a practice is based on scripture since the Bible itself refers to practices that had an ancient pedigree because it contradicted holy writ e.g. the use of high places in Israel. In other words, error can be ancient too.

We would also need to see a true, unbroken chain of such tradition, not only in practice but in manuscript evidence. As Jean Daille has noted in his work on the use of the church fathers, A Treatise concerning the right use of the Fathers, there are incomplete manuscripts, corrupted manuscripts, contradictory theology and practice and a number of other hurdles that one has to jump over before there can be an airtight, irrefutable appeal to a unified and inherently univocal teaching. But the only place we find that is in scripture itself.

Trenham makes a ridiculous statement about the Protestant faith not existing prior to the sixteenth century and not being to find a church or faith that matched our own. Protestants have and confess only the Christian faith. Our expression of it differs from his, but we find Christians in every age and stage of church history. Whether or not we agree or could submit to everything they held to is not likely, but depending on where he stepped off the hypothetical time machine it would be the same for him (clergy forbidden to marry, submission to the pope etc.). Instead of playing games, let us examine and see which tradition today matches scripture and the best expressions of faith in church history. Calvin confidently said that if it were a matter of comparing confessions with church fathers, Romanism would lose out badly and I think he is right. EO would not be much better off.

With regards to an altar Hebrews 13:10 speaks positively of such in the New Testament church but there appears to be no evidence that this was a physical object with sacrificial implications. After all, the entire book rails against the idea of clinging to temple religion redivivus. Therefore a reference to altars amongst ECF does not necessarily implicate our position anymore than Paul's in Hebrews. In his book "The Liturgy of the Ante-Nicene Church" Canon Warren notes how altar is , in four uses cited "obviously metaphorical" and though it may be literal in others it "must mean the church, or that portion of the church within which the altar stands" (page 69). He also notes that one Minicius Felix, though a pagan, excoriates early Christians since "they had no churches or altars." (page 66). Other citations prove to be metaphorical (page 69ff.).
 
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BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
The gentleman who responded to his video encourages Protestants to read the church fathers and come to their own conclusions but what if my conclusions differ from his?

BIngo. There is a reason that Orthodox Bridge blocked me from commenting. And also point out where Cyil and Athanasius appear to support the Filioque. It's not so easy to proof text the fathers.
 

Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
I need to brush off my knowledge of church history, but wasn't there a stretch of time in the eastern church where participation in communion fell to once a year in certain jurisdictions?

Nonetheless, I think the infrequency that is common today is most unfortunate. My church celebrates communion quarterly, which was a shock after being in churches that celebrate it weekly. To this day I feel like corporate worship is incomplete.
This is still the case in many Orthodox countries. Romanians will typically only commune once or twice a year. They look down upon Americans that join the Orthodox ranks, don't go to confession, and still line up for communion every Sunday.
 

Relztrah

Puritan Board Freshman
But he talks hypothetically about a guy in his basement coming up with his own interpretation of the Bible and gathering followers.
This was the part of the interview that had me scratching my head as well. Yes, we all know that it happens, but those movements (think Emergent Church) tend to die out over time and it certainly does not define Protestantism.
 

BayouHuguenot

Puritanboard Amanuensis
This was the part of the interview that had me scratching my head as well. Yes, we all know that it happens, but those movements (think Emergent Church) tend to die out over time and it certainly does not define Protestantism.

That's because EO apologists use straw men and make fun of Protestants. They are intellectually dishonest and some are just outright cowards.
 

retroGRAD3

Puritan Board Freshman
Well it seems to me that the EO and Roman apologists always attack the lowest common denominator. Its seem when they say Protestant, they always mean the broadly "evangelical" and synergistic world. When they say "faith alone", they almost always are presupposing antinomians. It also never seems they are arguing against the reformed, anglican, or even lutheran traditions.
 

Mrs. B-N

Puritan Board Freshman
"When your faith is built on the articulation of a faith that did not exist prior to the 16th century..." That sounds like someone who doesn't understand Protestantism historically
speaking,OR the Church Fathers. It seems grossly ignorant, in fact.‍
 
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Claudiu

Puritan Board Junior
"When your faith is built on the articulation of a faith that did not exist prior to the 16th century..." That sounds like someone who doesn't understand Protestantism historically
speaking,OR the Church Fathers. It seems grossly ignorant, in fact.‍
And the same applies to the EO. They are in many ways an 8th century tradition that then further developed over time but now retroactively claims they believed those same things from the 1st century.
 
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