... in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. Through the prayers of our holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen. Glory to You, our God, Glory to You.
O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, You are everywhere and fill all things, Treasury of blessings, and Giver of life: come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal, have mercy on us (three times).
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it is now, was in the beginning, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
The well-known Latin quotation, “Lex orandi, lex est credendi,” “the law of prayer or worship, is the law of faith,” provides some interesting insights into our concept of Sola Scriptura. It is interesting because the oral law of prayer or worship preexisted the New Testament writings, and may even have preexisted all or part the Old Testament, especially the Old Testament canonization.
Certainly, Adam and Eve, together with Cain and Abel (prior to 4000 BC), practiced an oral lex orandi thousands of years before the first appearance of the writing of canonical Scripture by Moses between 1446 and 1406 BC. Indeed, the very murder of Abel by Cain, was about jealousy over their different practices of lex orandi. We could also adduce extra Biblical sources to show that lex orandi was built into the νους (the mind) of man, and into the ἦθος (ethos) of human culture, but this would be tedious. At the very least the ethos of the oral lex orandi would require that mankind had a duty to pray and worship.
However, the dispute between Cain and Abel was over how they worshipped; Cain’s sacrifice pleased God, while Abel’s sacrifice did not please God. The two sacrifices were different in form and therefore followed distinct lex orandi. While God’s displeasure may not have related to the difference of form; but possibly, rather to a difference of attitude, faith, or sincerity; nevertheless, the difference of form did exist. Even though we may not speak with certainty about the details of the worship of Cain and Abel today; we speak with absolute confidence that the lex orandi of over 6000 years ago contained more than the idea that mankind had a duty to pray and worship, precisely because of the differences between the worship of Cain and the worship of Abel. The lex orandi from before 4000 BC already contained an idea of form or rule, an Ordo.
We must be very careful here: for, even though the lex orandi of both Cain and Able may have been good; the outcome of one was evil and the other was not. We have already observed that the source of the fault may be one of attitude, of the heart. Nevertheless, Ordo, that is a tradition of order as found in an oral lex orandi, in and of itself, does not guarantee orthodoxy.
We could continue to follow the development of this oral lex orandi, this Ordo, through the rest of the book of Genesis: for it was in existence for over 2,500 years; we won’t do this. We have already sufficiently proved the existence of oral lex orandi centuries before the existence of canonical Scripture. Hence, the Bible itself requires the existence of an oral lex orandi prior to a law of Scripture; and it is erroneous, even heretical to proclaim the idea of Sola Scriptura, if by this we mean that lex orandi, salvation history, tradition does not exist, is not important, or does not have parallel authority and significance with the Bible.
As the codification of lex orandi bursts upon the pages of history between 1446 and 1406 BC, we are enabled to make several pointed observations from Torah itself.
† The codified lex orandi, the Bible, the Scripture, in its Autographa is built on and rests on an unwritten lex orandi, an ethos accepted among the lovers of God, a tradition, a traditional Ordo. As such the codified lex orandi can neither stand nor be understood apart from this contextual foundation. Which is precisely why God gave Genesis to Moses, before He gave Exodus, and the rest of Torah.
† If the codified lex orandi is superior to the oral lex orandi, and it is in many ways: for the codified lex orandi explains details of heaven’s nature that would not otherwise be known. From Torah we learn about the shape and furnishing of the heavenly Temple, the prototypical nature of the Eucharist, and the behavior of the people of God in all their civil, moral and ceremonial activities. We learn the first formal lessons of prayer and sacrifice, the first Psalm (the Psalm of Moses and Miriam, and the establishment the liturgy of time: of hours in the required morning and evening sacrifices, of the Sabbath of days, the Sabbath of years, and of the mandatory annual festal cycle. Which is to say that the nation Israel has imbedded in its constitution a lex orandi having both a liturgy of time and an inseparable liturgy of the Eucharist (especially Leviticus): the two are interwoven in a seamless garment.
† Clearly, we learn from this codification of the lex orandi through Moses that Sola Scriptura has a point, but it is not an absolute point, it is not a point that is separable from its foundational history, or makes sense without that historical oral lex orandi.
† We also learn that any disputes that arise, even civil disputes must be settled from this codified lex orandi: for as Moses give the Law he received from God, civil, moral, and ceremonial matters are inseparable; they are interwoven elements of the same single garment, and may not be divided. Simply put, a civil offense is an offense of worship against a Holy God.
† Yet, if the codified lex orandi is superior to the oral lex orandi in one aspect, it is inferior in another: for Abraham, without either Law or Bible, had faith, which was accounted to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:4-6; Romans 4:1-4, 9-22; Galatians 3:5-9; James 2:20-24). So the Bible itself looks up to the example and faith of a Patriarch, who never even knew what a Bible was, who nevertheless had a superior relationship, a friendship with God. Before we allow this idea to open the door to every wild and spurious heresy, we hasten to point out that this superiority rested on the strength of the Person in Whom Abraham believed, not on the glories of Abraham’s oral lex orandi. What Abraham in fact proves is that there is no lex orandi without an attendant lex credendi. The Bible without faith is just another worthless printed document, of which millions of such examples exist in this world, all of which possess a rapidly fading glory. The value of the Bible is that it came from God, and is inseparable from faith; its chiefest virtue resides in its being engraved on the human heart, not in its printing in a book.
† Moreover, a great deal has been written about Old Testament canonicity. Some men claim that the Old Testament was canonized by the Jews at a supposed council of Jamnia; yet the evidence for such a council is sparse, while the evidence that canonicity of Scripture was discussed at Jamnia is nil. Jamnia remains an unproved and irrelevant hypothesis. A little thought reveals to us that the canonization of the books of the Bible took place over a process of time shortly after they were inspired. There can be little doubt that Torah was already canonized around 1406 BC because Moses gave commandment that the Autographs be “laid up” beside the Ark in the presence of the Shekinah. At the ceremony of “laying up” the books were made fully canonical by the Shekinah Himself, while all the people affirmed that they would be obedient. From this point on, any human declaration that any book is canonical is simply irrelevant and moot: the issue is already decided by God; man has no voice other than to agree. It is also painfully obvious that the exilic books, and post-exilic books, were never canonized in this way; so apart from the authority of Jesus Christ, with the Holy Ghost, these books can have no canonical status. We conclude that the Bible is canonized by God, and not in any way by man.
We have certainly proved that the oral lex orandi both preceded the Bible, and provided its foundation. We also showed that the written lex orandi is only partly superior to the lex credendi, provided that it is “mixed with faith:” for after millennia Abraham is still the pinnacle of human faith, and the foundation stone of several Biblical discussions. As we approach the New Testament, we see that both an oral and a canonical, codified lex orandi are already in place, and are operative only where a vibrant lex credendi accompanies them with faith.
The declaration and gift of the Day of Pentecost in 33 AD certifies to The Church its oral lex orandi, and empowers The Church to codify that lex orandi. This oral lex orandi is obviously taken from the lex orandi of the Synagogue, about which we know virtually nothing from Scripture, and very little is known from extra-biblical Jewish commentary. Indeed the Israelite-Judean religious ethos brings with it a great deal of traditional material which is assumed by both Jesus and the New Testament. Jesus rejects some of this oral lex orandi as being contrary to that which He gave to Moses at Mount Sinai; while other parts of this lex orandi are embraced and approved by Him. He quotes freely from books like Daniel (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14) without which we would not really know that Daniel is canonical; and freely from the Septuagint, without which we could not really know that the Greek Old Testament preserves the best extant record of the Hebrew Scripture. Even if other, older documents are found, there would be no evidence that Jesus, God ever endorsed them or made them canonical.
What should be clear is that The Church and the New Testament grew together side-by-side in the first century. A rich tradition of worship continued and grew, with only brief notations of its existence in the New Testament. The Bible of The Church in the first century was the Old Testament, and from the largely oral lex orandi the New Testament was written by the lex credendi, as the Holy Ghost led The Church into all truth. This worship was both ancient, as the legitimate heir of the Old Testament lex orandi; but it was at the same time new and fresh because of the sudden arrival of God Who had given the Old Testament lex orandi and had now corrected its abuse.
Still, unless we are prepared to construct a service of worship based on the book of Revelation alone, we are hard put to explain how our form, our Ordo of worship came to us: because the New Testament is largely silent on the matter; the New Testament assumes a common knowledge, an ethos of liturgical behavior.
Nevertheless, the, albeit overstated, claim of Sola Scriptura, serves warning that the oral lex orandi, the traditions of The Church have been the subject of much abuse. There are many who can quote canon law at length and verbatim to justify any and every foul heresy known to man; thereby perpetuating evil on earth within The Church Herself. Such quote the canon, without either understanding the Fathers who gave it, or considering the Bible that the Fathers loved, quoted, and by which they lived. Since we are necessarily firmly tethered to the Bible our oral lex orandi may not violate its claims. The Bible itself affirms the legitimacy of an oral lex orandi; but not an oral lex orandi in contradiction to it.
If we are tethered, and we are, at one and the same time to Jesus (Hebrews 6:13-20), to The Church (Hebrews 12:18-29), and to the Bible (Hebrews 1:1-4). It is this tether, made effective by the power of the Holy Ghost, which prevents our being hopelessly adrift.
That being said, we continue to live and worship by a largely oral lex orandi, even to this very day; although we may frequently pretend and openly deny that this oral lex orandi exists. As a pointed example, styles of preaching are widely varied throughout Christendom; yet, where in the Bible would one find justification for any one of them. For instance, illustrations are often sought from secular life to make the Scripture “relevant.” What is the Biblical warrant for that?
The Bible itself affirms the legitimacy of an oral lex orandi. We must be constantly on guard that this lex orandi remain the lex credendi, that it neither be trampled underfoot to be destroyed by the will of man, or used to justify every deviant behavior found among us. We may say that councils and popes may err, yet they do not err very often.
Moreover, we must also note that none of the glorious claims made about the Bible are made about the oral lex orandi. We may continue to say Sola Scriptura, but we will say it softly, because it brings with it an assumption of a wealth of historical tradition, necessary to the life of The Church. We will certainly not use Sola Scriptura as a war cry with which to attack other Christians, thus inviting war rather than peace.
 The seminal idea for this meditation came from Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Introduction to Liturgical Theology, (St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, Yonkers, NY, 1966: 220 pages).
 That which was handed down by word of mouth from one generation to another, and had no separate existence in any written form: that which is a not-codified lex orandi.
 We believe that the Jewish Haggadah (commentaries on Scripture), and Halakah (rules for life, an Oral Torah, equal in authority to Torah) were primarily oral; which in and of itself reveals that Sola Scriptura was an unknown concept in the first century. Not until after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 AD (Herod’s Temple is not the Second Temple, which was built by Zerubbabel around 516 BC. See Ezra Chapters 1-6. Herod’s Temple is the third, fourth, fifth … temple: for the second temple was razed by the Greeks at least once.); not until after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in 70 AD, did Haggadah and Halakah come to be written down. Two primary documents exist: the Mishnah (circa 220 AD) and the Talmud (circa 360 AD). This contains the false teaching with which both Jesus and Paul (especially in Romans) took issue. Neither, Jesus who gave the Torah, nor Paul who gave his life to its study can possibly be disputing with Moses; rather the issue under dispute is the false interpretation of Torah. Also pertinent is the fact that Jesus fulfills all the requirements of Torah, as well as being its primary interpreter, and its best example of obedience.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mishnah, and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talmud
 The tares will be sown continually in the wheat field (Matthew 13:24-30).
 All of Isaiah, Chapter 11, especially verse 9; Jeremiah, Chapter 23, especially verses 28-29; Habakkuk, Chapter 2, especially verse 14. However, consider this, that neither Isaiah nor Habakkuk deny the possibility of the message spread by tradition, by word of mouth. Even so Jeremiah has a harsh warning for false prophets who hide behind a misleading lex orandi. See also: Psalm 19, all; 68:11; 119, all, especially verses 12, 89, 136, and 176.
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