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天主教还是安息日会:一场关于权威的持久战 + 9.5条论纲

一场关于权威的持久战 + 9.5条论纲

乔治 奈特 牧师

伦敦2017合一大会

2017年6月12日

翻译:刘忆牧师

      1517年10月31日,马丁路德将他的《95条论纲》钉在了德国威登堡教堂的门上。今年正值基督新教界庆祝该事件的500周年纪念之秋。5月9日,基督复临安息日全球总会会长魏泰德(Ted Wilson)在对中东大学教师们的讲话上引用了怀爱伦的证言,称基督复临安息日会将发扬光大宗教改革直到世界的末了。不仅如此,他还引用圣经提后1:7:“因为神赐给我们,不是胆怯的心,乃是刚强,仁爱,谨守的心。”(注1)在他这一美好忠告的鼓励下,我们今天对安息日会有关权威问题的追溯就从路德和他与罗马天主教之间的斗争开始吧。

 

      看了我文章的标题,估计大家以为我会论述安息日会内部的教会权威问题的发展史。但是本会对教会权威的理解是建立圣经和怀著对权威问题的阐述上。因此,我的文章分为三部分:安息日会对圣经之权威的理解,怀爱伦对权威问题的看法,以及基督复临安息日会权威性构架的发展史。

 


历史上安息日会对圣经权威的理解

 

       历史上,安息日会一直认自己为十六世纪宗教改革的后继者。因此,一个关键性的认识就是:宗教改革不主要是针对赎罪劵,甚至也不主要针对因信称义。宗教改革的核心是关于权威(或权柄)的问题。

 

      奥贝曼(Heiko Oberman)写道:“路德思想之新在于他强调了对圣经的绝对顺从超过了顺从其它一切权威,无论这权威是教皇还是历届公会。”(注2)这一思想是路德在沃姆斯议会(Diet of Worms)上所见证的:“除非藉着《圣经》的明证,或清晰的推理使我信服——因为我不能单单相信教皇或历届公会。. . . . . . 我认为我自己是被圣经的见证所折服,这是我的出发点;我的良心是上帝话语的奴仆。因此,我不能也不会反悔,因为违背个人的良心既不安全也不理智。愿神帮助我。阿们。”(注3)

 

      怀爱伦在《善恶之争》中对路德的评论很有见地。路德“坚定地宣告除了那些建立在圣经权威之基础上的教义之外,基督徒不接受任何教义。这些话动摇了教皇至高无上之地位的根基。它们道出了宗教改革的核心原则。”(注4)她接着说,罗马天主教会“企图维护他们的权威,却不是通过圣经的明证,而是采用威胁的手段。”(注5)最后,我们读到她说,“现今的时代已经远远离弃了圣经真道,我们需要回归宗教改革的伟大原则——圣经,并且只有圣经,是信仰与本分的标准。. . . . . . 当初彰显在宗教改革危机中的对上帝话语的坚定持守是今天之改革的唯一希望。”(注6)

 

      在此,我们需要认识到一个重要问题,就是:安息日会对宗教改革的承继最主要的还不是路德宗或加尔文宗思想,而是再洗礼宗或激进宗教改革宗的思想。其中的基本思想主要是认为政宪派(译者按:马丁路德、萨文黎及加尔文都属政宪派,因他们凭借诸侯的政治势力发动宗教改革而得名)改革家们没有始终如一地贯彻“唯有圣经”的原则。对于再洗礼宗者,仅仅停留在路德、加尔文或萨文黎的神学思想上原地踏步是不够的。他们的教义主张超出了婴儿洗礼、政府支持教会等教导,更靠近新约教会的理想高度。

 

       或许在十九世纪的北美大地上,最能代表再洗礼宗精神的宗教团体莫过于恢复主义者运动(Restorationist)了,这一运动不承认任何信条,只认圣经。他们回归圣经的努力为安息日会的产生奠定了基石。贝约瑟和怀雅各都是从基督徒联合会(Christian Connextion)转为安息日会信徒的。基督徒联合会是恢复主义运动的分支之一。对怀雅各来说,“每位基督徒都. . . . . .有义务受圣经的约束,并认圣经为信仰与本分的完全的标准。”(注7)

 

       总之,2017年,安息日会的最理想状态应该是坚守圣经是信仰与习俗的唯一标准。罗马天主教及历史上许多基督教运动的不幸之处就在于:当他们无法从圣经中确立自己的观点时,就企图采用以教会权柄为后台的威胁与武力来达到目的。

 

       至此,在对教会权柄的讨论中,我们现在需要来查考两段圣经经文:使徒行传15章中的耶路撒冷会议,以及马太福音18:18的教会捆绑与释放的功能。这些经文至关重要,因为它们出现在了全球总会最近发表的一些文件中。在这些文件中,引用最多的经文就是使徒行传15章。比如,总会在9月份发表的一份文件中提到,“人们素常称之为‘耶路撒冷会议’的这一事件意义重大,不仅在于它的召开过程,还在于会议之后在神学问题上所做出的决议。”会议的决议“是所有教会都应当遵守的。”然后,我们继续读到,“总之,耶路撒冷会议的教训是,在教会中,可以允许教会习俗的多样性存在,但只有在一个具有代表性的团体都同意允许某种多样性存在之后才能实施。”(注8)

 

      我们将会看到,鉴于最近安息日会历史上所发生的一切,以上结论是非常有趣的。但在查考这个问题之前,我们先来看看怀爱伦对这一会议的点评。在《使徒行述》一书中,她提到,“这是地上最高权威的声音。”后来,她将把这样的描述应用在对全球总会代表大会的定义上。这些话可以在《救赎的故事》里找到,在论及耶路撒冷会议时,编者为这段论述安排的标题是“第一次全球总会代表大会。”这段文字提到耶路撒冷会议之所以召开,是因为犹太人不相信上帝会批准一个有违传统习俗的变化。但是,她做出结论道:“上帝自己已经籍着圣灵对外邦人的青睐而对此问题做出了决定,”并以圣灵的行动来证明教会需要改变。简言之,就是,上帝已经降下圣灵给外邦人,如同祂降下圣灵来给犹太人一样。(注9)因此,求同存异的合一被认可了。

 

       关于是圣灵最终解决问题这一点很有趣,因为在2015年的全球总会代表大会上,并没有女牧师们参与见证圣灵怎样祝福了她们的教牧工作,如同祝福男性牧师们一样,这种见证正是在使徒行传15章中所提到的那导致会议走出僵局的关键见证(见徒15:8,9)。也正是这些女牧师的见证让全球总会指定的“按立神学研究委员会”的许多委员们以多数人投票的方式通过了允许那些愿意按立女牧师的分会继续按立的决议。所以,从这个角度来讲,使徒行传15章的决策过程是没有被2015年全总代表大会所遵循的。

 

      还需要进一步说明的是,在使徒行传15章中,所有的决定都有明显的圣经依据。而2015年全总代表大会的投票表决却不是这样的,我们将在论及安息日会的教会权柄问题时特别阐述这一点。

 

       还有一些针对使徒行传15章的几点问题需要说明。首先,保罗后来选择了不遵循徒15:20, 29关于吃祭偶像之物的决议。林前10:23-30对此说得很明白(注10)。在林前10:25, 27中,保罗声称如果不伤及别人的良心,基督徒可以吃祭偶像之物,这一说法与徒15的决议中所禁止的直接相抵触。所以,我们发现保罗在考虑到文化风俗背景之后对该决议作出了例外并附加了额外的条件。保罗原本可以直接宣布第一次全球总会代表大会的决议是普世性的准则,并且出示那次决议的书面条文来证明其有效性。如果他这样做的话,会很干脆地就把问题给解决了,还省去了他浪费诸多笔墨。但事实上,虽然使徒行传15章的耶路撒冷会议的决议肯定会帮助他解决问题,但我们却没有看到保罗在他的书信中提到此事。

 

       第二点,我们需要注意的是基督复临安息日会也没有遵循徒15:20,29中的“普世性”决议的条款。因为本会不禁止吃带血的物,也就是说本会没有要求他们当中的肉食者们只吃犹太人的洁食(Kosher),就是动物必须要按照一定的方式被宰杀,好让其体内的血全部沥干净。所以,我们发现安息日会信徒跟保罗一样,在很大程度上因文化风俗方面的考虑而对圣经中的规定进行了不同程度的解释与忽略。

 

       鉴于以上事实,我认为我们真正能从使徒行传15章中所得到的教训就是求同存异的合一,让犹太和外邦的基督徒们有自由走在不同的小路上,因为圣灵以同样方式降在了这两个人群上。(未完待续)

 


原文:

Catholic or Adventist: The Ongoing Struggle

Over Authority + 9.5 Theses

George R. Knight

Unity 2017 Conference

June 12, 2017

 

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This year the Protestant world is celebrating the 500th anniversary of that event. On May 8 General Conference president Ted Wilson, addressing the faculty of Middle East University, cited Ellen White who predicted that Seventh-day Adventists would carry that Reformation on until the end of time. Beyond that, he quoted 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”1 With that good advice in mind, we will begin our study of the history of authority in Adventism with Luther and his struggle with the Roman Church.

Given my topic, many people would expect me to deal with the theme of the development of ecclesiastical authority in Adventism. But the authority of the church in the denomination is contexted within Adventism’s understanding of the authority of the Bible and that of Ellen White. As a result, I have divided my presentation into three parts: Adventism’s approach to biblical authority, Ellen White’s thoughts on authority, and the development of authoritative structures in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

 

Adventism’s Historical Approach to Biblical Authority

 

Adventism has historically viewed itself as a child of the Protestant Reformation. As a result, it is crucial that we recognize that the Reformation was not primarily about indulgences or even justification by faith. At its heart the Reformation was about the issue of authority.

“What is new in Luther,” Heiko Oberman writes, “is the notion of absolute obedience to the Scriptures against any authorities; be they popes or councils.”2 That thought is evident in his testimony before the Diet of Worms: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason--for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone. . . . I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant, because acting against one’s conscience is neither safe nor sound. God help me. Amen.”3

Ellen White’s comments on Luther in The Great Controversy are helpful. Luther “firmly declared that Christians should receive no other doctrines than those which rest on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. These words struck at the very foundation of papal supremacy. They contained the vital principle of the Reformation.”4 Again she penned, the Romanists “sought to maintain their power, not by appealing to the Scriptures, but by a resort to threats.”5 Finally, we read that “in our time there is a wide departure from their [the Scriptures’] doctrines and precepts,

and there is need of a return to the great Protestant principle--the Bible, and the Bible only, as the rule of faith and duty. . . . The same unswerving adherence to the word of God manifested at that crisis of the Reformation is the only hope of reform today.”6

At this point it is important to realize that Adventism’s primary Reformation heritage is not Lutheranism or Calvinism but Anabaptism or the Radical Reformation, which in essence held that the magisterial reformers had not been consistent in their Bible-only approach. For the Anabaptists it was wrong to stop where Luther, Calvin, or Zwingli did theologically. As a result, they moved beyond such teachings as infant baptism and state support of the church and toward the ideals of the New Testament church.

Perhaps the best representative religious body in the spirit of Anabaptism in nineteenth century America was the Restorationist movement, for which there was no creed but the Bible itself. Their drive to get back to the Bible set the stage for Adventism. Both Joseph Bates and James White came to Adventism from the Christian Connexion, a branch of Restorationism. For White, “every Christian is . . . in duty bound to take the Bible as a perfect rule of faith and duty.”7

In summary, Adventism at its best in 2017 stands on a firm platform of the Bible only as the rule of faith and practice. One of the unfortunate features of Roman Catholicism and many other Christian movements in history is that when they could not establish their claims from the Bible they were tempted to use threats and force backed up by ecclesiastical authority.

At this point in our discussion of biblical authority we need to briefly examine two passages: the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 and the binding and loosening function of the church in Matthew 18:18. Those passages have become important due to their use in recent documents produced by the General Conference. In those documents a favorite passage is Acts 15. A September 2016 document notes that “what is often called the ‘Jerusalem Council’ is significant almost as much for its process as for the theological decision that resulted.” The decision of the Council “was regarded as binding on churches everywhere.” And, we read, “in sum, the lesson of the Jerusalem Council is that, in the Church, diversity of practice can be allowed but only after a representative body has agreed to allow some variation.”8

As we will see, those are very interesting conclusions when viewed from the perspective of what has actually taken place in recent Adventist history. But before doing that it will be helpful to examine Ellen White’s remarks on the Council. In Acts of the Apostles she notes that “it was the voice of the highest authority upon the earth,” a descriptor she would later apply to General Conference sessions. Those words are also found in The Story of Redemption, where the section on the Council has the editorial title of “The First General Conference.” The section notes that the Council was called because the Jews did not believe that God would authorize a change from traditional practices. But, she concludes, that “God Himself had decided this question by favoring the Gentiles with the Holy Ghost” to demonstrate the need for change. In short, God had given the Spirit to the Gentiles in the same manner that he had to the Jews.9 Thus unity in diversity was approved.

The point about the Spirit settling the matter is an interesting one since at the

2015 General Conference session there was no testimony from female pastors regarding how the Holy Spirit had blessed their ministries in the same way as that of males, the very type of testimony that had led to breaking the deadlock over accepting Gentiles in Acts 15 (see vv. 8, 9) and had reinforced many members of the General Conference appointed Theology of Ordination Study Committee to approve by a strong majority the concept of allowing those divisions that desired to ordain females to move forward. In that sense the decision-making process of Acts 15 was not followed.

A further point to note is that in Acts 15 all of the decisions had a clear biblical base. The same cannot be said of the 2015 General Conference session vote, as we will see in our treatment of Adventism’s ecclesiological authority.

Several other points should be made in relation to Acts 15. First, Paul later opted not to follow the Council’s decision of Acts 15:20, 29 in regard to abstaining from food sacrificed to idols. That is evident from 1 Corinthians 10:23-30,10 where in verses 25 and 27 he claims that it is permissible to eat meat offered to idols if it does not offend anyone, a ruling that goes directly against Acts 15 with its categorical prohibition. So we find Paul adding conditions and making exceptions based on cultural context. What Paul could have done was to announce that the first General Conference in session had passed a universal rule and that he had a copy of the letter to prove it. That would have solved the problem and saved Paul a lot of ink and explanation. In actuality, we do not find Paul in any of his letters referring to the Acts 15 Council, even though it could have been helpful to him.

A second point that should be noted is that the Seventh-day Adventist Church does not follow the “universal” rulings of Acts 15:29, 20 in that it does not prohibit the eating of blood by requiring flesh eaters in its midst to eat only kosher meat that has been killed in the proper way so that the blood is drained completely from it. So we find the Adventists being similar to Paul in interpreting and discarding aspects of the ruling largely based on cultural considerations.

With those facts in mind, it can be argued that the real lesson to be gained from Acts 15 is one of unity in diversity, with Jewish and Gentile Christians having freedom to follow differing paths because the Holy Spirit fell in the same way on both groups. (to be continued)


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