Home » Uncategorized » A Criticism of Scholastic Theology from an Eastern Orthodox Believer

A Criticism of Scholastic Theology from an Eastern Orthodox Believer

Remember Francis Shaeffer?  The great evangelical apologist who, for example, helped galvanize evangelicals over the issue of abortion?  I ran across an old video of Francis Shaeffer’s son (much less known to evangelicals): Frank Shaeffer.  He turned out to be an author, screenwriter and film director.  He was a very adamant believer from a young age, but he converted to Eastern Orthodoxy and wrote a book Dancing Alone about his reasons for this development in his spiritual life.

I found an old video where he talks about this conversion and his reasons for it with a Reformed Evangelical host on the Calvin Forum.  It was a very interesting interview, and I would recommend evangelicals especially listen to his story to try to grasp why conversions like this take place.  (Note: Catholics will likely take issue with his comment that the pope had no special role in church government from earliest times).  However, the most interesting part of the interview (for me) begins at 39:00 where he raises the question I’ve been struggling with for some time now about Protestantism: the problem of fragmentation.  It’s something most Protestants simply take for granted and admit is a shame, but accept it as an unfortunate reality of sola scriptura (letting people interpret the Bible for themselves without being told how they should be interpreting it).  Frank raises the question “Is this what Martin Luther or John Calvin had in mind?” with great eloquence and sincerity, and I think it’s worth a listen.

One of the reasons I’ve never been all that attracted to Orthodoxy is because it seems to shave off so much interesting doctrinal development that has taken place since the ecumenical councils.  I find scholastic theology incredibly interesting, but he blames the Western schisms in the church (especially in Protestantism) on scholastic methodology and offers an acceptance of mystery as the solution.  I think his critique may have more merit than I would like to admit.


11 Comments

  1. Fat Tony says:

    The Calvin Forum Moderator later became Orthodox over some of the same reasons you mention … here’s the link to the audio interview:

    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/calvin_forum_moderator_becomes_orthodox

    Kevin Allen interviews Robert Meyering, the former moderator of the Calvin Forum, now Orthodox Christian.

  2. Fat Tony says:

    The moderator later became Orthodox for some of the same reasons you mention.

    http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/illuminedheart/calvin_forum_moderator_becomes_orthodox

    Kevin Allen interviews Robert Meyering, the former moderator of the Calvin Forum, now Orthodox Christian.

  3. Fat Tony,

    Listening to the interview you linked now. Thanks! I listen to Ancient Faith Radio frequently, but never knew about this interview, so your link was very helpful. Thanks again,

    Bradley

  4. Andrew Durand says:

    I am also an evangelical who converted to The Orthodox Church for reasons I explain in one of my posts. This is an interesting interview thanks for sharing.

  5. Thanks Andrew,

    I clicked on your name and it led me to a blog with no posts. Where is this post you refer to?

    Bradley

  6. Andrew Durand says:

    Yeah sorry about that. I realized after I left the comment that my name for some reason doesn’t link to my primary blog. I am currently trying to figure this out:(

    Here is the post I was talking about anyway. If you want to know anymore about my experience moving to the Orthodox Church feel free to ask. http://durandinquisitive.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/my-reformation/

  7. jadamshaw says:

    Interestingly, Schaeffer Sr. actually addressed Eastern Orthodoxy from an aesthetic avenue. The bent toward mystery/mysticism is evident in Eastern Christian art – the halos, symbolism, 2-dimensional icons – but the early church art of the catacombs was actually more objectively real, including real life scenes and representative figures doing ordinary tasks like fishing. Biblical epistemology is thoroughly objective/realist (Deut. 18:22, Luke 1:1-4, 1 Cor. 15:17-19, 1 John 5:13). The lure of mysticism and paradox is the promise of intellectual security due to nagging doubts about the objectivity of the supernatural world. The irony is that mysticism will destroy rather than protect faith, with Schaeffer Jr. being exhibit A. Joy comes in knowing what has been accomplished on my behalf, outside of my own experience or performance. Anything less is not good news.

  8. Jason,

    How nice of you to drop in with your thoughts! Hope everything is going well with you and the growing family!

    What do you mean by “realist”?
    What do you mean by “mysticism”?

    Thanks!

    Bradley

  9. Joy comes in knowing what has been accomplished on my behalf, outside of my own experience or performance. Anything less is not good news.

    Rather, “joy” comes from knowing the Person who has accomplished all things on my behalf through experience and true communion in His Body — not merely through knowing factoids or doctrinal “deductions” from a text about what has been accomplished. For “even the demons believe, and shudder.”

    Vincent

  10. orthodoxchristian2 says:

    I, for one, prefer mysticism over scholasticism any day of the week.

  11. OrthodoxChristian2,

    What do you think is wrong with scholasticism, and what right about mysticism?

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Bradley

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