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ComingHome
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« on: August 22, 2006, 03:52:47 PM »

Hello, I am a Pentecostal clergyman who has been studying Orthodoxy for several years.  I have attended an OCA (not much) and have read extensively on Orthodoxy.  I was wondering if there are any other ex-Pentecostal laypeople or clergy who would like to give me some insight about your journey home to the Orthodox flock.

I have come to believe that the Orthodox church is the Church that Jesus established and have accepted the teachings of the church (it has taken several years for me to get to that point).

My struggle is still with the distinctive issues of Pentecostalism:  tongues.  I no longer consider tongues the initial evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I am just struggling with the genuineness of the "gift" and with its exercise.  One former AofG pastor who is now an Orthodox priest told me that he was "deceived" about the Pentecostal experience.  I just cannot come to any satisfactory conclusions and would appreciate any insight.  Anyway, any ex-Pentecostal types out there I would love to converse with you.  Any non-ex's are also
welcome to contribute anything that might be helpful to me.
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2006, 04:42:32 PM »

Hello, sir, and welcome home!   Smiley

You can read my conversion story here, though I'm not from a purely charismatic heritage...more of a former "Bapticostal," you might say.

What brought you to the point of seeing the Orthodox Church as the one founded by Christ and His apostles?  I always love talking with folks about their journeys.

In short, my wife and I both converted to the Orthodox faith about five years ago while we were attending Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK.  The use of tongues was primarily used to whip folks up into such ecstatic frenzies that all kinds of "words of knowledge" would be spoken through various "interpreters."  So many of these wound up being inaccurate prophesies and/or heretical in doctrine that I really began to question early on in my time there whether or not that was actually a genuine move of the Spirit.

I don't claim to know whether or not the Holy Spirit has touched the hearts and lives of folks who are tongue-talking charismatics, but I've come to belive that the emotional legalism, as one poster here terms it, of charismatic worship--of which tongues are definitely a part--is by and large unhealthy for the soul, and that the blessed, joyful somberness through repentance that the Orthodox worship offers is much more edifying to a sick human heart.

Glad you found us.  Hope to hear more from you soon!
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2006, 11:38:04 PM »

Thanks for the great article.

It is odd but what first got me thinking was a course I took in Church of God Theological Seminary on early Christian doctrine.  We were told to read in the Fathers--that was a big mistake if they planned to make me more Pentecostal.

The kicker was when I re-read Matthew 16 and caught ahold of the words "the gates of Hell shall not prevail."  When these words dawned on me, I realized the old Restorationist model of Church history was fatally flawed.  With that underpinning gone, the whole edifice of Protestantism cracked.

Then the facade caved in when I came to the conclusion that sola Scriptura was a totally unworkable theory.  If it were true, why was there both a Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and a Church of Christ who said they had based all their beliefs on the Bible that had come to such diametrically opposed conclusions.  From that point onward, Protestantism was doomed for me.

The whole Pentecostal thing fell a bit more slowly and I am still struggling a bit on some points.  Thanks for your response.
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2006, 01:23:18 AM »

On the Antiochian Orthodox website www.antiochian.org you will find an area that lists people who are open to being contacted from many backgrounds (Pentecostal, Nazarenes, etc) that may be able to discuss your questions with you.

Other Orthodox jursidictional websites may also offer this type of services.

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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2006, 07:34:24 AM »

On the Antiochian Orthodox website www.antiochian.org you will find an area that lists people who are open to being contacted from many backgrounds (Pentecostal, Nazarenes, etc) that may be able to discuss your questions with you.

What a great idea!
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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2006, 10:35:07 AM »


The kicker was when I re-read Matthew 16 and caught ahold of the words "the gates of Hell shall not prevail."  When these words dawned on me, I realized the old Restorationist model of Church history was fatally flawed.  With that underpinning gone, the whole edifice of Protestantism cracked.

Hello, I'm an orthodox Christian (by birth) and I also love to hear about how people find out about our faith. 

Can you please explain this more?  How could reading about the Gates of Hell change your perseption on the Restorationalist model of Church history?

What was your perseption of the Restorationlist model of church history? (official or not-official)
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2006, 01:07:53 PM »

The Restorationist Model as I was taught it said that the Early church started out on good solid doctrinal ground.  Soon after the Apostles died, however, the Church apostasized and "went Catholic."  It stayed in apostasy for 1500 or so years until Martin Luther came along and restored salvation by faith; and, Wesley came along and restored Sanctification; and, the Pentecostals came along and restored the Baptism in the Holy Spirit to the church which had left these things behind so long ago.

Well, the Matthew verse blew all that away for me.  If the gates of Hell (Hades) was not going to prevail against the Church then either Jesus was mistaken or my view of Church history was.  There can be no other alternatives.  So I quickly decided that my view of history was errant and Jesus was right. His church had not been defeated or in apostasy for 1500 years or for 15 minutes for that matter.  The gates of Hell cannot, will not, and never shall prevail. 

BTW, I have contacted some former Pentecostals through the Antiochian site (not all the ones listed there are Antiochian).  That is one of my contacts with Orthodoxy and it has been very helpful.  But thanks anyway for the idea.
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« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2006, 03:35:59 PM »

It is odd but what first got me thinking was a course I took in Church of God Theological Seminary on early Christian doctrine.  We were told to read in the Fathers--that was a big mistake if they planned to make me more Pentecostal.
LOL  I'm not of Pentecostal background, though my fiance' is.  I'll point out your questions to him, though I don't think he struggled specifically with leaving Pentecostalism behind.  He got pretty tired of the excesses in worship and the emotional manipulation and showmanship of the pastors.

Oddly enough, I had a similar "crack" in my trust in Protestant ecclesiology when I started studying up on the cessationist issue (I was member of a cessationist church).  This actually started in college when I was a medieval literature student and started reading the works of western monastics, etc.  The only way that anyone can defensibly say that signs and miracles ceased in the early centuries of Christianity is by writing off the Catholic and Orthodox churches- by subscribing to a gaping void between the apostles and Luther, or the Church Restorationist model you're describing.  Once I got suspicious about this highly prejudiced and pessimistic view of church history, a lot of other things seemed suspicious, too, though it took quite a few years for me to act on that.

It's difficult and humbling to have to admit that you need to re-learn the faith you thought you knew so well, that you taught to others (I was a Protestant missionary).  Blessings on your way.  Have you found a priest to help guide you in the process?
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« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2006, 04:28:34 PM »

Yes, I am talking with and corresponding with an OCA priest fairly regularly.  I have been to and will be going more to his church services.  They have an inquirer's class that I am anticipating getting in on soon.

Believe me the excesses are very disturbing to me also.  I have seen and unfortunatley been party to some of the manipulation.  I am presently pastoring a Pentecostal church so I really am struggling with the issues I mentioned.  One can only imagine what it is like to hear all the tongue talking being the pastor of the church and to seriously wonder about its validity.

I need your prayers and the prayers of the Theotokos with all the saints.
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« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2006, 04:41:33 PM »

I had strayed into the charismatic camp in college and stayed evangelical for about 23 years. But I was worn out and like the prodigal found my way back home to Orthodoxy. My beefs were many but the main one was how some churches, especially ones that were founded, like, yesterday, made up their theology as the went along. It was as if there was no rule or plumb line to follow. Some said we should speak in tongues, God revealed it to me. Others said, no, tongues passed away with the apostles' deaths. I could give a million more answers. For me, i stopped speaking in tongues because I did not understand them and did not trust any "so-called" interpreter.

Glad your here.
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« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2006, 07:45:50 PM »

CH,

You were asking for intercession and prayers from the Theotokos and the Saints. 

Doesn't Pentecostalism not believe in the Saints and the Theotokos as an intermediary? 

At least, this has been my experience with ALL of Protestantism.  I can definately be wrong though, its not like I am that familiar with the particular theologies of each branch/denomenation. 
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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2006, 12:13:42 AM »

Yea, O Serb, thou hast rightly said that Pentecostals don't believe in the intercession of the saints but I do.  Be assured there is much they don't believe that I do and vice versa.  I am convinced about Orthodoxy but need a little insight on the aforementioned issues. 
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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2006, 12:46:25 AM »

O yea Serb?  Wow that's a first  Grin

Have you recieved any insight on the aforementioned issues? 

If you say yes, that would also be a first for me... Wink
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2006, 03:25:05 AM »

Welcome.  I'm a newbie who's looking into converting as well.  I pray God guides your path and answers your questions, because I cannot. Smiley
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2006, 08:22:38 AM »

I am not a former Pentecostal, but from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website is this on "tongues" from AN Orthodox perspective. I say "AN" because, as you may learn, there are likely other opinions in Orthodoxy.

http://www.goarch.org/en/ourfaith/articles/article7112.asp

Hopefully this will help and not confuse.
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« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2006, 08:50:20 AM »


The kicker was when I re-read Matthew 16 and caught ahold of the words "the gates of Hell shall not prevail."  When these words dawned on me, I realized the old Restorationist model of Church history was fatally flawed.  With that underpinning gone, the whole edifice of Protestantism cracked.

Then the facade caved in when I came to the conclusion that sola Scriptura was a totally unworkable theory.  If it were true, why was there both a Church of God (Cleveland, TN) and a Church of Christ who said they had based all their beliefs on the Bible that had come to such diametrically opposed conclusions.  From that point onward, Protestantism was doomed for me.


This is one of the main reasons that I converted to Orthodoxy from Lutheranism. 
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« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2006, 09:13:46 AM »

A warm welcome to you, Punch! I hope to read many more posts in the future from you!
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« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2006, 09:32:40 AM »

This [Matthew 16] is one of the main reasons that I converted to Orthodoxy from Lutheranism. 

Ditto. I always wondered how Lutherans can say with a straight face they are the apostolic church refounded in the 16th century when they consciously disregard or dispose of such integral teachings of the apostolic church. 

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« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2006, 09:50:04 AM »

So it was really this one verse that changed things around for you guys huh? 

Lets say I were to show this verse to a Protestant.  Would they have a "proof-text" that would contradict Mathew 16?? 

What would be a likely response to something that is "seemingly" a straightforward denouncement of one of the foundational pieces of Protestant Church History (and theology?).
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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2006, 10:04:18 AM »

So it was really this one verse that changed things around for you guys huh? 

Lets say I were to show this verse to a Protestant.  Would they have a "proof-text" that would contradict Mathew 16?? 

What would be a likely response to something that is "seemingly" a straightforward denouncement of one of the foundational pieces of Protestant Church History (and theology?).

The most likely response you'd get from a Protestant is that the Church is not an earthly institution but rather the invisible group of all true believers. That way they can say that the Gates of Hell truly didn't prevail against the Church even though they did against the visible Church institutions, because they'd argue that there were always some true believers scattered amongst the apostates.

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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2006, 11:45:34 AM »

jmbedjl:

When I moved in Protestant circles I heard this arguement all of the time. But no one identified who these true believers were, they are a mystery to me. The one that use to get to me was that when Emporer Constantine became a Christian the church plunged into the dark ages not to be re-awakened until Martin Luther came on the scene.  If they would only stop to think. Why would God permit his church to fall for 1200 years. What happened to all the poor souls that lived in that time period. Apart from the so called "true beleivers" did they all go to hell?
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« Reply #21 on: August 24, 2006, 12:00:14 PM »

So it was really this one verse that changed things around for you guys huh? 

Lets say I were to show this verse to a Protestant.  Would they have a "proof-text" that would contradict Mathew 16?? 

What would be a likely response to something that is "seemingly" a straightforward denouncement of one of the foundational pieces of Protestant Church History (and theology?).

The verse itself did not convert me, but the idea behind it.  I was aware for quite some time that all was not well with Lutheran theology.  In fact, my father (a Lutheran pastor) often accused me (in fun) of being a closet Catholic.  What finally convinced me the thought that Jesus would not have told us that the gates of Hell would not prevail against his Church, and then let the Church fall into 1500 years of heresy and apoapostasy until Martin Luther came and did what the Holy Spirit was obviously incapable of doing (sarcasm alert).  I believed that there was a continuation of the Acts of the Apostles that would have been unbroken from the time of the Apostles to the present.  I began to find this to be true by reading translations the writings of the early Church Fathers.  What I needed was to find a Church that actually believed what these fathers were teaching.  In addition, the study of Eastern philosophy also opened my eyes to the problems of Western philosophy.  Finding, by the grace of God, the Orthodox Church filled the voids and answered the questions that I had.

I really do not believe that there is a "proof text" that, in and by itself, will convince a Protestant of anything.  In order to actually believe the "Only Grace, Only Faith, Only Scripture" mantra of the Protestants already requires ignoring parts of the scriptures, or at least finding a meaning of the words that differs from those who wrote them.  I guess a lot of my questioning attitude came when I realized that there were Christians before there was a Bible.  It was Lutheran Theology rejecting the writings of the Fathers that caused me to read them in the first place.  I cannot reject what I do not know (I was an elder in the Lutheran Church at the time and leading Bible studies, so I spent a lot of time reading commentaries and dogmatic texts).  After reading the Fathers, I came to the realization that this is what I have always believed, and what I had always thought that the scriptures meant.  I realized that I was not Lutheran, but probably whatever religion these guys were.  I then began my search to find these people.
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« Reply #22 on: August 24, 2006, 12:02:49 PM »

The story line as I have heard it was that there were always tongue-talking Pentecostals who hid out in caves and went on their merry tongue-talking way.  But you must remember beyond that there is very little to do with the history of that era.  Pentecostals mostly focus on 1896 and beyond (that was the year the Church of God folks in NC-TN mountains first "got baptized in the Spirit and spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance."  

I don't think the Matthew verse or any other would change most Pentecostals or Evangelicals.  Especially for Pentes, because as I have heard said "An experience is worth more than all the theology in the world."
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« Reply #23 on: August 24, 2006, 12:47:01 PM »

Thank you all for your responses.  They've definately been food for thought. 

The most likely response you'd get from a Protestant is that the Church is not an earthly institution but rather the invisible group of all true believers. That way they can say that the Gates of Hell truly didn't prevail against the Church even though they did against the visible Church institutions, because they'd argue that there were always some true believers scattered amongst the apostates.

James

Invisible group of all true believers?  I know that you said yourself that you never got an answer WHO that exactly is, or WHAT that exactly is.  But I sure would like an answer! 

You know....invisible group of all true believers sure as heck sounds like saints to me.  Except saints are pretty visible (and yet still invisible). 

So they've never gon into who these true believers are? Or were?  Or where they lived, when, etc.??
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« Reply #24 on: August 24, 2006, 04:04:39 PM »

Believe me the excesses are very disturbing to me also.  I have seen and unfortunatley been party to some of the manipulation.  I am presently pastoring a Pentecostal church so I really am struggling with the issues I mentioned.  One can only imagine what it is like to hear all the tongue talking being the pastor of the church and to seriously wonder about its validity.
I'm not qualified to advise you, but I can say that I try to look at such things as charitably as possible.  For the people practicing them (and the evangelicals doing things the best way they know how), it is a sign of their devotion, and many of them have a more sincere love for Jesus Christ than I do.  So while I might look for an opportunity to discuss the foundations of them, it's something to be discerning about.  There have to be "ears to hear," and as an inquirer into Orthodoxy yourself, you need to be a learner of the faith, not a teacher.

I would add, in my inquiry/catechumen period, I pulled back from many of my earlier expressions of the faith, not out of disbelieving them but because I know longer knew what to think about them.  I even stopped having a daily quiet time, because I could not "not" read the Bible from a Sola Scriptura standpoint, and wanted to give an Orthodox mindset time to sink in before returning to familiar passages. This is only my experience, of course.

I assume your congregation doesn't know of your "new direction"?
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« Reply #25 on: August 24, 2006, 04:17:17 PM »

Thanks for the link to the GOA site.  I have read the article but it stands in sharp contrast to the book In Peace Let Us Pray.   I guess my real question:  Do the Orthodox have an official position?  Can a person be truly Orthodox and believe and practice glossalalia?  I am certain it would not be allowed in church (almost certain anyway) but what about in personal prayer times away from church?   

St. Brigid, thanks for your advice.  It is true my congregation does not know of my new direction although I keep slipping Orthodox teaching and such in on them without them realizing it.  They say things like "Wow, Pastor, I have never heard it that way before."  Thus, far I have gotten away with it but I know how far I can take things without overstepping the boundaries. 
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« Reply #26 on: August 24, 2006, 04:29:35 PM »

   I guess my real question:  Do the Orthodox have an official position?  Can a person be truly Orthodox and believe and practice glossalalia?  I am certain it would not be allowed in church (almost certain anyway) but what about in personal prayer times away from church?    

I've heard a couple of different points about this.  I wonder if there is an "official" teaching on the subject. 

To me, it seams that common sense should prevail in the answer to this.  The scriptures clearly indicate that sometimes the Holy Spirit leads people to express themselves in tounges.  Yet, these tounges led the Apostles to bring people to the church. 

As far as I know, there are "interpretors" of tounges in the Protestant churches.  There was never such a position in the Scriptures (or within the Apostolic times).  So, my basic point is, how do we know when "speaking in tounges" is bringing someone to Christ?  Or furthermore, how do we know that what they are saying is truly what the interpretor is telling us? 

I think these are basic questions that the Orthodox church would look at.  I don't think that the Orthodox faith would come out and say that glosalalia is impossible or a work of the devil, but it COULD be, and therefore should be treated with the utmost scrutiny. 

We should definately not "mess around" with the Holy Spirit.  Speaking in tounges "on command" at a Protestant gathering could be taken as such an action. 

Then again, I could be TOTALLY wrong on all of this.   I'm not 100% sure what the Orthodox position is, but from what I know, this is basically it.   Smiley
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« Reply #27 on: August 24, 2006, 04:34:42 PM »

Invisible group of all true believers?  I know that you said yourself that you never got an answer WHO that exactly is, or WHAT that exactly is.  But I sure would like an answer!

The basic idea was that, within the institutional Church between Constantine and Luther (or even before that, according to some), there were still some ("God's remnant") who believed the "pure and simple gospel message" apart from all the trappings of men in the hierarchical, apostolic Church (saved through faith alone/baptised in the Holy Spirit/whatever the particulars of your Protestant confession are) and who themselves constituted the "true Church" in the eyes of God: all those who trusted in Christ alone for salvation--as opposed to the Church, who by default was institutionalized, corrupt and pagan and thus unable to save--and who were going to heaven.  These guys were known to God alone, of course.  

What's funny is to read some of the Fathers who also talk about how not all the folks in the institutional Church, who've participated in its sacraments and all that, are going to enjoy eternal life.  The crucial difference, though, is that this group is a sort of "true Church" that's within the visible, identifiable, one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, not without and opposed to it, which is a distinction a lot of the Protestants make.

The difference between the Protestants and us is that, when we talk about the Church visible and the Church invisible, we talk about the visible, hierarchical, apostolic Church on earth--the Church militant, of whose membership not all will actually receive what the Church exists to give its members--and the Church invisible in heaven--those who have, like you said, gone on to full deification and glorification in the presence of God.

Two different worlds.
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« Reply #28 on: August 24, 2006, 05:02:43 PM »

I guess my real question:  Do the Orthodox have an official position?  Can a person be truly Orthodox and believe and practice glossalalia?

There is a priest in the GOA--Fr. Eusebius Stephanou--whose writings read basically like a once-saved-always-saved Evangelical--even calls people "brother" in the writings.  He gives his full support to the Azuza Street charismatic revival as a genuine move of God and has worked for many years to bring the "born-again experience" to Orthodox Christians.

God bless him; he thinks he's doing good.  I think he's trying to do a good thing in absolutely the wrong way.  He means well--he just wants folks to walk in their Orthodox lives with an understanding of the incredible love of God that is behind each of the sacraments we've been given--but he goes way too far, in my opinion, and embraces ideas that are just completely incompatible with what the Church has preached for centuries (we can know for certain, in this life, that we will go to heaven, for example).  As the link shows, he basically takes the writings of St. Symeon the New Theologian and applies the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" talk to the modern-day charismatic business that's going on.

So obviously I don't recommend him, and I hear tell he's persona non grata at most GOA clergy meetings, but I thought you should know that he is out there, since you asked.
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« Reply #29 on: August 24, 2006, 05:18:08 PM »

"God's remnant"
Those wacky Waldensians!
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« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2006, 09:33:35 PM »

Punch - Lutheran to ROCOR whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Cheesy
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« Reply #31 on: August 25, 2006, 08:36:57 AM »

Punch - Lutheran to ROCOR whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Cheesy

There were a couple of stops along the way. 
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« Reply #32 on: August 25, 2006, 08:39:42 AM »

I was Lutheran and now am a member of the Greek Old Calendarist Synod who received its bishops from ROCOR. Likewise, some steps along the way Wink
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« Reply #33 on: August 25, 2006, 09:08:46 AM »

jmbedjl:

When I moved in Protestant circles I heard this arguement all of the time. But no one identified who these true believers were, they are a mystery to me. The one that use to get to me was that when Emporer Constantine became a Christian the church plunged into the dark ages not to be re-awakened until Martin Luther came on the scene.  If they would only stop to think. Why would God permit his church to fall for 1200 years. What happened to all the poor souls that lived in that time period. Apart from the so called "true beleivers" did they all go to hell?

I know. I didn't convert from Lutheran to Orthodox because I liked Romanian food you know (though I do). That's exactly the sort of reaction I had once I let myself think about it. One of the major reasons I became disenchanted with the Lutheran Church was because I started reading up on Church history and what they said simply made no sense (Luther's opinion on Scripture didn't help either - how can you take a church seriously that professes faith in Scripture alone but whose founder wanted to alter the canon to reflect his faith?). Oddly, one of the catalysts for my investigating Church history was that I realised that what I'd been taught made it seem like Christianity was a western European phenomenon - you'd be forgiven for thinking all those in the east were pagan barbarians - and yet it still took me years to find Orthodoxy. The Invisible Church idea, not to be confused with the Church Triumphant as Protestants rarely have any concept like that, is nothing more than a less than satisfactory attempt to wriggle out of the hole they get into by simultaneously professing to believe in the inerrancy of Scripture whilst holding that the Church apostacised in contradiction to Christ's promise.

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« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2006, 10:22:52 PM »

The discussion on converts and established customs was moved here.  Please continue to discuss the OP that Coming Home established.
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« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2006, 10:26:19 PM »

ComingHome:

Welcom COme Home. We'd love to have you, but you probably noticed that we are not perfect. If you are looking for the perfect church it is not here. But. if you are lookign for thOrthodox Church. Welcome.
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« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2006, 11:31:59 PM »

As trite as it may be--if I found a perfect church, they wouldn't accept me.

Sincerely, I have no illusions:  there is not a perfect group that is composed of imperfect humans.  I want to be a part of the Church that Jesus established, the Apostles were a part of, and that the Creed speaks of.
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« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2006, 11:56:31 PM »

How have you found the worship services?  Do you find fulfillment in them? 

Just curious.   Smiley
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« Reply #38 on: August 28, 2006, 12:35:10 AM »

Although vastly different than anything I have previously experienced, the reverent joy of the service was so wonderful.  I want to experience it all the time.  Pentecostal services typically leave me drained and worn out; Orthodox services leave me revived adn uplifted.  When we went on the Saturday before Pascha, I left almost "high" although I could not fully participate.  There seems to be so much less emphasis on self and on the "preacher" in Orthodox services.  The Pentecostal service is more centered on what I want and how I feel and how well the preacher/singers do etc.   
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« Reply #39 on: August 28, 2006, 09:48:03 AM »

Can you tell me more about your experiences?  They are very interesting and I am learning a lot from you in terms of what Protestants may be looking for in the Orthodox church. 

I personally never grew up appreciating the services, even though I was a chanter since I was 9 years old.  Only when I went to seminary did I ever really pay attention to a service and then truly enjoy it or experience it. 

This is why i'd love to learn more about your (or anyone elses) experiences. 

One of the things that I enjoyed the most, was following along in a service book.  It made me READ parts of the Liturgy (or any other service) and therefore LEARN about what the Orthodox church teaches.  Our dogmas, beliefs, etc.  are all in the hymns of the church.  On top of that, i'd say 90% of the Liturgy is parts from the Bible, which is really interesting because it makes you pay attention more to those parts of scripture and what kind of meaning they have for you, in terms of worship. 

Enough from me...what other experiences have you had?  If you don't mind me asking? 
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« Reply #40 on: August 28, 2006, 03:14:58 PM »

Serb1389:  To give you a bit of background on me.  I am a fourth generation Pentecostal (I had two sets of great grandparents who were, my grandfather was a Pente pastor for about 40 years).  I "got saved" at the age of nine and began preaching at the age of 12. 

What kind of experiences do you want me to tell you about?  I have a very limited Orthodox exposure.  I of course have extensive exposure to Pentecostal things and could give you many experiences but I would like to know exactly (or approximately) what kind of experiences you would like to hear about.
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« Reply #41 on: August 28, 2006, 03:39:38 PM »

Well lets start simple.  Can you give me a run-through of the type of "services" or things you do in a typical day?  Then I'd like to hear what kind of things you do in a week. 

Ultimately, I have a lot of questions, like "what kind of events do you look forward to in the yea?"  or "Is there a liturgical cycle that people can count on?" 

Also, I would like to know more about your thoughts concerning the "experience of the Holy Spirit" from the point of view of your church.  How does that whole thing work?  You just walk up in front of everyone and exclaim that you're saved?  Or is there more to it?

Ultimately, I know that I would have to go to an actual Pentecostal church (or Protestant for that matter) in order to fully understand this. 

But since i've got you here, I might as well ask... Wink

Serb

p.s.  I would suggest finding a Serbian church in your area.  If you're in for a good time and a bunch of Orthodox people who love to drink... Wink Grin  PM me if you're interested. 
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« Reply #42 on: August 28, 2006, 05:01:06 PM »

A typical service would run as follows:

Open with extemporaneous aloud prayer by everyone simultaneously.

Choir singing--with usually two songs chosen by the choir director.

Recieving the offering.

Special singing (a song or two by a group or individual--they choose their song and practice it prior to service time).

The Preaching--a sermon of variable length (20 minutes to an hour--I average about 25 minutes)

Then an "Altar Service"--Everyone who feels like praying in response to the sermon comes forward to the "altar" (a bench designed to be knelt at for prayer.  This part can last a long or a short time according to how long people want to pray.

If a person "asks Christ in to their heart" and repents of their sins, they "get saved."  They will usually stand up at the end of the service (when the Pastor gives the opportunity) and "testify."  A testimony would go somewhat like this:

"I want to thank the Lord for having mercy on me and saving my soul.  I had run from the Lord for so long but praise His name, I came home this morning.  I desire the church to pray for me that I would stand true.

An already converted type might testify and say:

"I want to give the Lord praise for touching me this morning.  I have been carrying a very heavy burden for several weeks and thank God He helped me today.  I believe it's going to be better tomorrow."

During singing, preaching, testifying or whatever there are almost always verbal affirmations from the congregation (not scripted but whenever someone feels like giving them):  "Praise the Lord."  "Thank you, Jesus!"  "Hallelujah"

Then in some services the emotional level get really high and "the Spirit moves."  People will offer verbal praise (as above), lift their hands, cry, shout aloud, run, and do any of a number of other things.  To the outsider it appears to be bedlam but this kind of spontaneous outburst and all is what Pentecostals call a "good service."  Sometimes people will come forward to be prayed for because of sicknesses or problems.  The pastor and church lay hands on them and anoint them with oil and pray.  Sometimes this lasts a long time because people pray for long periods or get "slain in the Spirit." (under the influence of the "presence of God" they fall to the floor and lie there)

We have no liturgy or formal way of doing things.  If the pastor feels like it, he can change the order of service on the spot and say something like "I feel led to not have special singing tonight but just go right on into the message."  There are times when a person begins to speak in tongues and give out a message (an utterance in unknown tongues aloud for all to hear) then someone (the same person or someone else) gives the interpretation of what was said in tongues to the congregation.  For example:  "Thus says the Lord, I am with you to help you and deliver you.  Do not fear what man can do.  Serve and trust me and I will show you great and mighty things."

We have no church year in the sense of a liturgical cycle.  For the most part we celebrate Easter, Christmas, Mother's Day, and Father's Day with some sort of special songs or sermons.  Christmas is by far the most significant holiday on our calendar.  Some churches even have special services for Memorial Day, Fourth of July and other secular holidays.

Regarding the experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit:  after a person is converted (as above), he/she comes to the "altar" again and "seeks the Holy Ghost."  This is done by praying.  Once the prayer gets fervent and the seeker "lets go" the Holy Spirit baptizes him/her and they begin to speak in tongues (unknown languages).  We call this the "initial evidence" that someone has been Holy Spirit baptized.

I'll leave it at this for now.  This will no doubt give rise to many questions.           
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« Reply #43 on: August 29, 2006, 08:19:43 AM »

If this happens everyday Sunday, then it IS a liturgy of sorts, no?
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« Reply #44 on: August 29, 2006, 07:57:10 PM »

So I kind of feel bad to put ALL of these questions on the same post, but it might be easier than splitting things up.  Sorry for the inconvenience! 

Open with extemporaneous aloud prayer by everyone simultaneously.           

What kind of prayers are these exactly?  Can you maybe give me an example?

Quote
Recieving the offering.

What's that all about?  Is the offering consecrated?  What does it look like?  Is there Bread and Wine?  Some more clarity on this one would be helpful. 

Quote
If a person "asks Christ in to their heart" and repents of their sins, they "get saved."  They will usually stand up at the end of the service (when the Pastor gives the opportunity) and "testify."  A testimony would go somewhat like this:

Would you say that this is the primary reason that people go to church?  To have this experience?  Or is it more like: 

Quote
then in some services the emotional level get really high and "the Spirit moves."  People will offer verbal praise (as above), lift their hands, cry, shout aloud, run, and do any of a number of other things.

Is this something that the pastor is going for?  Is this something they encourage/try to bring on? 

Quote
The pastor and church lay hands on them and anoint them with oil and pray.  Sometimes this lasts a long time because people pray for long periods or get "slain in the Spirit." (under the influence of the "presence of God" they fall to the floor and lie there)

Where does the oil come from?  How is it made?  Is it consecrated (blessed?). 

When you say "slain in the Spirit" is this how people percieve it?  Or is that the technical theological terminology?

Quote
We have no church year in the sense of a liturgical cycle.

So do you have festivals, or knitting circles, or anything like that, which you look forward to on a monthly basis?  What about Bible Studies?  How often would you have those?  Is there a cycle for that?  Do you celebrate the day which Pentectalism was formed?  Or the person who formed it?  Martin Luther, or any of those guys? 

Quote
There are times when a person begins to speak in tongues and give out a message (an utterance in unknown tongues aloud for all to hear) then someone (the same person or someone else) gives the interpretation of what was said in tongues to the congregation.  For example:  "Thus says the Lord, I am with you to help you and deliver you.  Do not fear what man can do.  Serve and trust me and I will show you great and mighty things."

So the person can interpret their own tounges?  Why not just say it in English in the first place?  How do they know what the "translation" is?  If it were someone else doing it, is it a DESIGNATED person, with an official title/job?  Or is it just random people...whoever is moved by the Spirit...?

Quote
Once the prayer gets fervent and the seeker "lets go" the Holy Spirit baptizes him/her and they begin to speak in tongues (unknown languages).  We call this the "initial evidence" that someone has been Holy Spirit baptized.

So when they speak in tounges that's when you know that the Holy Spirit has baptized them...right? 

Can you be "baptized" more than once?  Because if the HS is working and giving you tounges then why wouldn't you "let go" every time? 

IF this is "initial evidence" is there any secondary evidence?  Is there an official recognition that they are baptized?  Is that even what its called?  Or do you just say something alonge the lines of "Praise God that our neighbor has been touched by the Holy Spirit"??

Please get back to me however you would like.  I know this is a lot.  If you can't answer every question, can you at least give me an idea?  I tried to make my questions as similar as possible to allow for those types of answers.  Specific answers would be nice though.. Wink
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