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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.

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