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Leumas
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« on: October 09, 2007, 06:48:56 AM »

Hi everyone,

I found this forum via a Google search.

My primary aim in joining this forum is to find out more about Orthodox Christianity, as I don't know much (i.e. hardly anything) about it.

Here is a little bit about myself:

- I am a Christian (I think I am non-denominational, as I am not aware of holding to any particular denominationally distinct ideas, but I could be wrong).
- I work full-time and study part-time
- I like viewing LEGO models
- I like the Transformers (i.e. those giant robots)
- I enjoy reading some comics
- I enjoy watching some cartoons
- My favourite book in the Bible would have to be... well not really sure. But I enjoy reading Ecclesiastes and Acts.
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« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2007, 07:18:45 AM »

Greetings Leumas,

Great to see that you came to this forum. Ask away your questions we have many posters (including myself) open to answering them. Just make sure that you keep an open mind and think deeply about the information and don't dismiss if it feels alien at first because although this is very random we had another poster who very recently joined (and left quickly) who claimed to be non-denominational made extravagant and base-less claims and quickly left and its great to see that you came with a humble and questioning spirit. I really hope you enjoy your time here posting and learning.

Your brother in Christ,
Prodromas 
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« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2007, 07:32:02 AM »

Welcome to the forum Leumas! I'm George, an Orthodox Christian from Australia.

non-denominational
Don't get me started! Cheesy

I work full-time and study part-time
I''l be doing the same as of February.

I like viewing LEGO models
I suppose someone has to. Cheesy

I like the Transformers (i.e. those giant robots)
"Orthodox Bagpiper" is the man to talk to! He's our resident transformer nut. Here is one of his previous avatars:

I was born in '66, so I was never in to them.

I enjoy reading some comics
They peaked at Garfield for me.

I enjoy watching some cartoons
Simpsons & Futurama.

My favourite book in the Bible would have to be... well not really sure. But I enjoy reading Ecclesiastes and Acts.
Mine is the Epistle of St. James.
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« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2007, 07:46:51 AM »

Hello Prodromas,

I am replying as it's easier, but should I be posting in the "Faith Issues" section instead?

I realise often when we look at the way other denominations believe and practice it can seem foreign and strange. But, I have discovered the more I learn, the more I see that how impossible it is to say that anyone has the "perfect theology" (after all, we're thinking about God). So hopefully, I will be able to simply absorb and think about the information and understand.

Some questions I have:

[1]. What are the basic or foundational beliefs of Orthodox Christianity? I am assuming they are simply the major biblical doctrines (e.g. the deity of Christ, the inability of fallen humanity to redeem itself without Christ, the eternal nature of God, etc.).

[2]. I sometimes hear about Greek, Russian, and Eastern Orthodox. Is it correct to think these are all part of the larger group known as Orthodox Christianity?

[3]. What are the denominationally distinctive beliefs / ideas of Orthodox Christianity (if there are any)?

That's all I can think of for now. Thanks.

---------------
Hello Ozgeorge,

That's cool, I live in Australia too (NSW). Whereabouts are you?
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« Reply #4 on: October 09, 2007, 07:59:49 AM »

I can answer your second question. All the different Orthodox churches (e.g Russian, Antiochian, Greek etc) are all Orthodox churches with the same theology and differ only slightly in practice (for example a Russian Orthodox can have communion in a Greek Orthodox church and any other)

I'm also in Australia so yeah c'mon the aussies!! I live in VIC.
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« Reply #5 on: October 09, 2007, 08:00:24 AM »

Leumas

Welcome it is refreshing to see an inquirer here. But as a way of remider, you may already know this, the best source of information for you is from an Orthodox Priest. it is good to develop a relationship with one as he can help guide you on your journey.

Blessings
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« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2007, 08:07:02 AM »

[1]. What are the basic or foundational beliefs of Orthodox Christianity?

We believe in One God:
1) The Father, the Almighty. The Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things, visible and invisible.

2) And in One Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God, Eternally Begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God; Begotten not created; Who is of One Essence with the Father, and through Whom all things were made, and Who for us humans, and our salvation, came down from Heaven, and became Incarnated by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became Man. For our sake, He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried, and on the third day, He rose from the dead in accordance with the Scriptures and ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in Glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.

3) And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life who proceeds from the Father; Who, together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and Glorified; and who spoke through the prophets.

We also believe in:

1) One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.

5) We acknowledge one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

6) We look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the Age to come.
 


[2]. I sometimes hear about Greek, Russian, and Eastern Orthodox. Is it correct to think these are all part of the larger group known as Orthodox Christianity?
Correct.

[3]. What are the denominationally distinctive beliefs / ideas of Orthodox Christianity (if there are any)?
We do not consider ourselves to be a denomination, since we view ourselves as the continuation of the Church founded by Christ through the Apostles (and therefore pre-date denominations).


That's cool, I live in Australia too (NSW). Whereabouts are you?
The Blue Mountains, NSW.
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« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2007, 08:23:38 AM »

I moved this thread to the Convert Issues section, which is where we normally discuss and help people understand about Orthodoxy when they're new to the scene or thinking about converting. - Cleveland, Global Moderator
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2007, 08:27:13 AM »

Welcome to OrthodoxChristianity.net.  As you may have noticed, we do have a number of members here who will be able to help you with your questions about Orthodoxy.  I hope your time here is fruitful and enjoyable!

- I work full-time and study part-time
- I like viewing LEGO models
- I like the Transformers (i.e. those giant robots) 

Nice - I still have the Black Car and red helicopter put together from my LEGO making days... Also love the transformers.  And I've done the work/study double (did both full time for awhile, until I was sick of coming home in a catatonic state every day).
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« Reply #9 on: October 09, 2007, 08:32:49 AM »

I still collect Uncle Scrooge comics Wink
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« Reply #10 on: October 09, 2007, 08:34:42 AM »

 Welcome Leumas,

We are happy to have you here on the Convert Issues Forum.  Our goal here is to provide simple yet direct answers to your questions as an inquiror. We have many members who are happy to provide you answers in your journey.

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2007, 10:08:08 AM »

I got it!:

"gninetsil si tnavres ruoy rof kaeps" derewsna Leumas dna.
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« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2007, 10:11:40 AM »

Hey George, you're quite perceptive. Smiley

By the way, I live in the inner west of Sydney.

------------------------------------
Thanks for your quick responses guys!

Okay, I have a few more questions. But I realise I don't even really know the kinds of questions I should be asking to find out more. Also, please pardon me if what I ask is theologically sensitive / controversial, I am simply seeking to understand more, and am not trying to start any flame wars.

[1] My high school maths teacher is a practising Greek Orthordox Christian. When I was in high school, I recall having talked with her about our common faith, and she mentioned that she prays to Mary and Moses.

I was curious and to be honest believed that prayer should only be reserved for God. This is still my position regarding the object of prayer.

I had asked her for the reason of why she prayed to Mary and Moses, and she explained because they were closer to God (than her) and so could intercede on her behalf.

What I would like to find out is, is this something that Greek Orthodox (or Orthodox) Christians do, or does this only seem to be something of a personal belief for her (my maths teacher)?

[2] If it is something that is generally practised by Orthodox Christians, what is the biblical and/or theological basis for prayer to other believers (e.g. Mary and Moses)?

I am coming to this with the assumption that there are ideas and beliefs I am not aware of, so feel free to explain away, I am open minded in the sense that I am prepared to carefully read and think about what you have to say.

[3] An unrelated question...

I have never been inside an Orthodox Christian church before (and probably should visit one someday). I dimly recall seeing on TV that the priests are dressed in robes.

What I would like to find out is, is this type of dress for priests dependent on the geographical/cultural context (e.g. would there be Orthodox priests who dress in western-style suits when conducting the worship service?), or does it apply in all Orthodox Christian churches?

[4] I think (from my limited reading) that Orthodox priests can be married. Is this correct, or is it more correct to say that they must be married?

[5] This one is about how Orthodox Christians understand the communion. Is the communion:

A) symbolism done in remembrance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice
B) transubstantiation
C) something else
D) there are various understandings all accepted within the Orthodox Christian church

[6] How does the Orthodox Christian church see other churches (e.g. Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, etc.) in terms of theological orthodoxy?

A) It really depends on the individual's beliefs, labels are not applied and other churches are not generalised
B) Basically orthodox
C) Basically heretical
D) Other

Thanks in anticipation. Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2007, 10:41:09 AM »

What I would like to find out is, is this something that Greek Orthodox (or Orthodox) Christians do, or does this only seem to be something of a personal belief for her (my maths teacher)?
Yes. Because Christ has destroyed death. We believe that the Saints who have gone before us and the Faithful living on Earth are One Church. Just as we pray for one another while living on earth, we also pray for one another when we leave the earth and stand before God. There is no more death because of Christ.

[2] If it is something that is generally practised by Orthodox Christians, what is the biblical and/or theological basis for prayer to other believers (e.g. Mary and Moses)?
""The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints" (Revelation 5:8 )
From the beginning of the Church in the Apostolic times, the prayers of the Saints were sought. You may be familiar with the image of the "Orans" found in the catacombs of the first Christians. Here is a photograph of one from the catacomb of Priscilla in Rome:

This is an image of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, praying for the Church.
This image
1) Shows the use of Icons or Sacred Images by the first Christians.
2) Shows the belief in the Intercession of the Saints.


What I would like to find out is, is this type of dress for priests dependent on the geographical/cultural context (e.g. would there be Orthodox priests who dress in western-style suits when conducting the worship service?), or does it apply in all Orthodox Christian churches?
Whenever an Orthodox Priest is officiating as a Priest, that is, celebrating the Divine Liturgy or leading prayer services or celebrating Mysteries (baptism, marriage, Confession, he is dressed in special vestments which are based on the vestments worn by Jewish Priests. These vestments are the same in all Orthodox Churches.

[4] I think (from my limited reading) that Orthodox priests can be married. Is this correct, or is it more correct to say that they must be married?
Yes, Orthodox Priest marry, but they must be married before they become a Priest. If they are unmarried when they are ordained as priests, they are attached to a monastery. Our Bishops cannot be married, and are usually selected from monastic Priests.

[5] This one is about how Orthodox Christians understand the communion. Is the communion:

A) symbolism done in remembrance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice
B) transubstantiation
C) something else
D) there are various understandings all accepted within the Orthodox Christian church
We believe what the Christ and the Apostles say in the Scriptures, that the Bread and Wine actually are the Body and Blood of Christ.

[6] How does the Orthodox Christian church see other churches (e.g. Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, etc.) in terms of theological orthodoxy?
A) It really depends on the individual's beliefs, labels are not applied and other churches are not generalised
B) Basically orthodox
C) Basically heretical
D) Other
 
D) "Other". We consider the doctrines of other Churches which are not Orthodox doctrines to be "Heterodox" (Literally "Other opinions" meaning "other opinions than the Orthodox opinion"). While other Churches and Confessions contain elements of the Truth, we hold that the Orthodox Church has the fullness of the Truth and Grace of Christ.


« Last Edit: October 09, 2007, 10:43:35 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2007, 10:53:02 AM »

[1] My high school maths teacher is a practising Greek Orthordox Christian. When I was in high school, I recall having talked with her about our common faith, and she mentioned that she prays to Mary and Moses.

I was curious and to be honest believed that prayer should only be reserved for God. This is still my position regarding the object of prayer.

I had asked her for the reason of why she prayed to Mary and Moses, and she explained because they were closer to God (than her) and so could intercede on her behalf.

What I would like to find out is, is this something that Greek Orthodox (or Orthodox) Christians do, or does this only seem to be something of a personal belief for her (my maths teacher)?
 

Prayer to the saints is common in Orthodox practice - I would call it an integral part.

First, let's differentiate between prayer and worship.  We worship God and no one else - period.  This is the most ancient tradition of monotheism - worship is restricted to God alone.

Prayer to the saints, then, serves a second purpose at times related and at times not related to worship: 

Since we believe that certain people have lived exemplary lives, following Christ's commandments as well as humans can, and since we believe that death is not the end of one's existence, we conclude that those who have lived exemplary lives and who have died now are close to God, and can hear us (through God's mercy).  Since they have done well in the Lord's sight, we ask that they pray to the Lord to help us in our own journeys.  Essentially, it is like a prayer chain, only this one involves the dead as well as the living.

[2] If it is something that is generally practised by Orthodox Christians, what is the biblical and/or theological basis for prayer to other believers (e.g. Mary and Moses)?

I am coming to this with the assumption that there are ideas and beliefs I am not aware of, so feel free to explain away, I am open minded in the sense that I am prepared to carefully read and think about what you have to say. 

There are multiple occasions when Jesus performed miracles at the prayer of another, based on the faith of another, or when no prayer was offered.  Matt. 8:13 (the healing of the Centurion's servant), 15:28 (the daughter of the woman), 17:15–18 (the man's son who had seizures), Mark 9:17–29 (another possessed boy), Luke 8:49–55 (Jairus' daughter).

There are also multiple times in the OT that God acts upon the request made to an angel or a prophet.  There is also the miraculous healings wrought by the prophets and apostles in the name of the Lord.  We believe that all these are accomplished by God's power, through His chosen instruments.

[3] An unrelated question...

I have never been inside an Orthodox Christian church before (and probably should visit one someday). I dimly recall seeing on TV that the priests are dressed in robes.

What I would like to find out is, is this type of dress for priests dependent on the geographical/cultural context (e.g. would there be Orthodox priests who dress in western-style suits when conducting the worship service?), or does it apply in all Orthodox Christian churches?

Yes, all Orthodox clergy have robes (vestments is the usual term), which are generally similar, but may employ different details depending on the region.  Going back to your earlier question about Greek, Russian, Serbian, etc. Orthodox - we are all one Church, but throughout history the Church has developed with different customs and practices in different regions (none of which affect the core of our beliefs).

[4] I think (from my limited reading) that Orthodox priests can be married. Is this correct, or is it more correct to say that they must be married? 

They can be married, before ordination.  Whatever marital status one is at the time of ordination (i.e. single or married) is the status they are "locked" into.  Bishops cannot be married (their marriage is to "the Church", which can also be said of the Priests, but in a more involved way, just as the Apostles had a different relationship with the church than the deacons or the other believers).

[5] This one is about how Orthodox Christians understand the communion. Is the communion:

A) symbolism done in remembrance of Jesus Christ's sacrifice
B) transubstantiation
C) something else
D) there are various understandings all accepted within the Orthodox Christian church 

C).    Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ.  We didn't get caught up in the debate about transubstantiation and the elements.  But we really believe that it is His Body and Blood, and we treat it as such.  Ours is a closed communion because we believe that Communion, because it is His Body and Blood, unites us of a common faith and belief in the Lord. 

[6] How does the Orthodox Christian church see other churches (e.g. Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, etc.) in terms of theological orthodoxy?

A) It really depends on the individual's beliefs, labels are not applied and other churches are not generalised
B) Basically orthodox
C) Basically heretical
D) Other   

Some have more or less truthful elements within them, but the basic understanding is that the Bible, the faith, the essence of Christianity can only be understood within the context of the Church.  Since they have (at one point or another) separated themselves from the Church, then they have taken themselves out of the context of the faith.

God can do what He wills - we can never constrain Him to our own beliefs or ideas (we're very careful in Orthodoxy to try not to box Him in). And I hope (personally) that all men are saved by the Lord almighty.  But as an Orthodox Christian, I acknowledge that the Church is the chosen vehicle for salvation.  It's like trying to cross the desert: in the Church, you are a member of a caravan with maps and supplies; it doesn't necessarily mean you won't stray and get lost anyway, but it's the safest bet.  Outside the Church, you find yourself alone without a map and supplies.  Hopefully God will provide you with hints and oases, but I can't guarantee it.
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« Reply #15 on: October 09, 2007, 10:54:50 AM »

I didn't mean to double-up on Ozgeorge's excellent reply; but I wasn't about to delete mine after taking 15 minutes to write it.  Read his first.
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« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2007, 11:13:21 AM »

Thanks for the replies guys, there was definitely a lot for me to read and think about.

I won't quote all the comments (it will make the post too long), but just the ones I have follow-up questions/comments for:

[1] Regarding the question to do with praying to other believers, I think I had misunderstood the reason behind such prayer. It seems after reading what you both have to say that the reason for prayer to the saints is spiritual support / intercession, not worship. The reason for this belief is because of the quoted verses, as well as the belief that the believers do not die (which is an obvious truth).

That is, it is like how we would ask fellow believers we meet in person to pray on our behalf, and this of course is not the same as praying to God.

I think this understanding has theologically enriched me.

C).    Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ.  We didn't get caught up in the debate about transubstantiation and the elements.  But we really believe that it is His Body and Blood, and we treat it as such.  Ours is a closed communion because we believe that Communion, because it is His Body and Blood, unites us of a common faith and belief in the Lord. 

[2] Does this mean that because I am not of the Orthodox Christian church, I cannot take part in communion if I visit one?

Some have more or less truthful elements within them, but the basic understanding is that the Bible, the faith, the essence of Christianity can only be understood within the context of the Church.  Since they have (at one point or another) separated themselves from the Church, then they have taken themselves out of the context of the faith.

God can do what He wills - we can never constrain Him to our own beliefs or ideas (we're very careful in Orthodoxy to try not to box Him in). And I hope (personally) that all men are saved by the Lord almighty.  But as an Orthodox Christian, I acknowledge that the Church is the chosen vehicle for salvation.  It's like trying to cross the desert: in the Church, you are a member of a caravan with maps and supplies; it doesn't necessarily mean you won't stray and get lost anyway, but it's the safest bet.  Outside the Church, you find yourself alone without a map and supplies.  Hopefully God will provide you with hints and oases, but I can't guarantee it.

[3] Okay, does this mean that you believe there is a single catholic church (I recall George said this earlier), and that other churches are somehow outside of this single catholic church?

Additionally, my understanding from what you've written is that you do believe in the concept of the visible/invisible church (i.e. not everyone that attends church is a true believer, and there may be true believers who do not attend church).

If this is correct, what is the relationship between this visible/invisible church concept and the Orthodox Christian church from your perspective? I hope this question made sense...

[4] Oops, forgot one more question I had in mind. I note there is a distinction between Priests and Bishops. Can you explain to me what the difference is, and why?

Thank you.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2007, 11:20:36 AM by Leumas » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: October 09, 2007, 11:35:15 AM »

[2] Does this mean that because I am not of the Orthodox Christian church, I cannot take part in communion if I visit one?
Yes. Only those who are recieved into the Orthodox Church can receive Holy Communion. "Communion" means precisely that we are "endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one Body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:3-5). If we share Holy Communion with those who are not of the "one Faith and One Baptism", we have broken the Communion of the Church.

[3] Okay, does this mean that you believe there is a single catholic church (I recall George said this earlier), and that other churches are somehow outside of this single catholic church?
Everything I said in the post you refer to is contained in the Christian "Symbol of Faith" also known as the "Nicean-Constantinoplian Creed" which was an agreed statement of the basics of the Christian Faith which all Christians throughout the world agreed to in the 4th century. It was back then that they decreed that there is "One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church". The Church is the Body of Christ, and Christ cannot have more than one Body. The Church is the image of the perfect unity of the Holy Trinity in accordance with Christ's prayer for the Church in John 17. If the unity of the Church is broken, then it ceases to be the Image of the Holy Trinity, and is therefore no longer the Church. People can fall away from the Church, but the Church itself is One.

Additionally, my understanding from what you've written is that you do believe in the concept of the visible/invisible church (i.e. not everyone that attends church is a true believer, and there may be true believers who do not attend church).
No. The Visible Church is the Church which has clear boundaries, that is, the visible boundary of the Church is the community of those who are Baptised and Chrisimated and recieved into the Church. However, the Invisible Church includes those who are outside the visible Church, but are somehow mysteriously connected to her. But we can never know who these people are, only God can. Therefore, we say that we can know where the Church is, but we can never know for certain where the Church is not.
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« Reply #18 on: October 09, 2007, 12:06:19 PM »

Hi Leumas, and welcome!

This is a great site to learn about Holy Orthodoxy. Quite a lot of people here are very knowledgeable in Church history and in theology, and they are very nice and friendly. I discovered this site in February or early March this year, and I love it!

My wife and I are from Ukraine. At the moment, we both work in academia in the Deep South of the USA, and we strive to learn the language of the land, with quite some help from some Southerners from this site (especially Jibrail, Fr. Chris and others - see the recent "Hillbilly" thread in this forum's Foreign Languages section. Smiley )

Enjoy your stay here (should I add, "matey?")!

George
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« Reply #19 on: October 09, 2007, 02:31:47 PM »

[4] Oops, forgot one more question I had in mind. I note there is a distinction between Priests and Bishops. Can you explain to me what the difference is, and why?

A priest has jurisdiction over a single parish, while a bishop has jurisdiction over a Diocese. Metropolitan is also a term used to designate a bishop in some areas.

In my church (Greek), for example, the hierarchy works as such:

-Father Constantine
-Metropolitan Methodios (Head of New England Area)
-Archbishop Demetrios (Head of North America)
-Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew (First Among Equals, located in Constantinople (Istanbul))

Many wonder why Greek Orthodox in America are not under the Patriarch who presides over the Church of Greece. Well, there's no real rhyme or reason to it; the Ecumenical Patriarchate seems to be the head of those areas that do not have a strong Orthodox history.
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« Reply #20 on: October 09, 2007, 02:36:21 PM »

Technically the priest stands in, represents, the bishop in the parish.

Spiritually, the hierarchy is as you show, but administratively in the GOAA since the new charter your metropolitan is directly under the EP now.
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« Reply #21 on: October 09, 2007, 04:44:26 PM »

[4] Oops, forgot one more question I had in mind. I note there is a distinction between Priests and Bishops. Can you explain to me what the difference is, and why? 

There are multiple "ranks" or roles of Clergy in the Church, some of which have faded over time (especially when the Orthodox lands were held captive), some of which have endured.

Here are some of the highlights:

(1) Reader.  This one is self-explanatory - they read.  They were chosen for their piety, and ability to read and understand the scripture.

(2) Subdeacon.  Completing the tasks of the modern-day Altar Boy, and more.  They were the servers and caretakers of the church, and often the assistants to the bishop.  Traditionally, this is the first level of clergy that is subjected to the marriage-restriction rule (must be married before ordained).

(3) Deacon.  This one's very biblical (straight out of the book of Acts).  Liturgically, they are the emissaries of heaven, coming out an communicating with the people and leading many of the prayers.  They would be responsible for the preparation, movement, and giving out of communion.  In Orthodox societies, they often continue to fulfill their biblical purpose of tending to the widows (and shut-ins, orphans, etc. that were not explicitly mentioned in Acts).

(4) Presbyter (Priest).  These fellows, who are modeled a bit after the Old Testament priesthood, were originally the council of elders of the Church (presbyter literally means "elder" in Greek).  With the spreading out of the Church, they now are representatives of the Bishop (who I'll get to in a minute) in the parish, and perform the sacraments there (except Ordination) with his explicit blessing.  Even from the beginning there was an emphasis on preaching and teaching, and now they are the front-line for the Church's ministries.  They also take on a large role as counselor, as they hear confessions and are charged with the spiritual well-being of their parish.

(5) Bishop.  According to St. Ignatios, the Bishop stands "in the type and place of Christ."  Let that sink in for a moment.  It is the point at which most (if not all) the roles and responsibilities of the Bishop come from.

He is the first representative of Christ to the Church, just as the Apostles were after the Ascension and Pentecost.  He is the symbol of unity for the diocese, and the joining together of bishops is the manifestation of unity in the Church.  All liturgical function is entrusted to the Bishop, who is responsible for the Gospel message and the well-being of his diocese.  As in ancient custom, he governs the diocese with the help of a diocesan council, and the groups of diocese are governed by councils of bishops (called Synods).  He presides over the Spiritual Court, consecrates (and authorizes) the Churches, ordains the clergy, and blesses them to perform their duties.  Since he is the guardian of the faith for that diocese, he is responsible for making sure all those preaching, teaching, and performing sacraments are true Orthodox Christians in good standing in the Church (which is why they must all seek his blessing if they travel).


I hope this is helpful.  It's a 5-minute summary of a 5-hour answer.
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« Reply #22 on: October 09, 2007, 04:51:55 PM »

Well, in terms of spirituality, the priest and the Bishop are both representative of Christ. Although we are all called to live a life that Christ would, they are burdened even more so with this calling, as of course being the community leaders.

Synods of Bishops are also responsible for ensuring that Holy Tradition is followed in the church. In all matters of doctrine, the Bishop will have the final decision (Acts 15:13-20).
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« Reply #23 on: October 09, 2007, 04:52:14 PM »

Now, to clarify one thing: Deacons, Presbyters, and Bishops are often differentiated according to administrative duties.  Some of these differentiations still hold their original meanings, some don't.

The Archdeacon was the first deacon of the diocese and 1st assistant to the Bishop.

Presbyters also have offices, such as Economos (treasurer), Exomologos (confessor - a later distinction), Protopresbyter (1st Presbyter of the diocese), and Archimandrite (a celibate priest-monk who oversees multiple monasteries).

Bishops have offices related to the placement and size of their diocese.  Metropolitans are over Metropolis-sized diocese (big cities), and may have assistant bishops in their care.  They are frequently the presidents of the local council of bishops.  An Archbishop has a large diocese, and is the president of his local council of bishops.  A Patriarch is an Archbishop, who is the president of the top-level council of bishops for a particular Church (Greek, Russian, Romanian, etc.).

The way we keep this all connected is like this:

The Priest commemorates his Bishop at Liturgy, showing the parish's unity with the bishop.

The Bishop commemorates the president of his council of Bishops at Liturgy (Metropolitan or Archbishop), showing the diocese's unity with the other diocese in the local council.

The Metropolitan/Archbishop commemorates the president of the larger council of Bishops (the Patriarch, or another Archbishop/Metropolitan) at liturgy, showing his council's unity with the other local councils.

The Patriarch (or Archbishop/Metropolitan) commemorates all the other Patriarchs and heads of administratively-separate Churches at Liturgy, sealing the unity in the Orthodox world.

And that's another good reason why Communion is such a big deal in Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #24 on: October 09, 2007, 04:53:02 PM »

Great answers. Added to my bookmarks.
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« Reply #25 on: October 10, 2007, 07:03:09 AM »

Hi Heorhij, thanks for the warm welcome. Your English is pretty good, despite your claims to be "striving to learn the language". You are doing well!

---------------------
Thanks to everyone who has replied. There is a lot of information, it's kinda overwhelming but your responses were helpful.

[1] In some recent readings, I have discovered that being raised in a Western nation, when I attempt to think about the Orthodox church I bring with me certain presuppositions and concepts which may be unhelpful towards understanding it.

Because I know so little about the Orthodox church, I don't really know what these unhelpful presuppositions I may (or may not have) are. Would any of you know of some examples that you could share?

[2] Because nearly all of the things I have learnt as a result of your replies are new to me, it is not easy for me to understand them, even though initially I may have thought that they made sense, only to have more questions upon thinking about them some more. So I hope you can be patient with me and help by providing additional points for me to think about on some of these questions...

Specifically, so far from what I have read the Orthodox practice of prayer to the saints is not the same as worship, but one of intercession. The reason behind this is the belief that those in Christ are not dead and so they can intercede on our behalf.

Some examples from the Scriptures were provided where God healed people at the prayers of others.

The difficulty I have as I think about this practice is that whilst I understand the reasons provided behind the practice of prayers to the saints, I can't help but think that it is an extrapolation of prayers for others (who are still living in the flesh) recorded in the Scriptures, the validity of which I am not convinced.

Perhaps this is due to my view of what prayer is - communication with God and no one else (which may not be an entirely correct understanding of prayer).

[3] Another question I have is regarding the use of icons. I realise this may be quite a controversial topic, so I want to begin by saying that I know the Orthodox church only worships one God, and that the use of icons is not "worship".

What I would like to find out is how this practice was started, and what its basis is. Additionally, because I am not aware of the first Christians recorded in the Bible having practiced this, I would like to know when this was first practised (as far back as we know).

I realise one of the reasons I have difficulties with the concept of veneration is because I come from an ethnic Chinese background. Though our family has never practised ancestor veneration, we are quite aware of the fact that many Chinese people practice ancestor veneration (burning incense, asking the ancestors to intercede on their behalf), and to some extent I have the concept of "ancestor veneration" in the back of my mind when I think about prayer to the saints and the use of icons.

I am not saying these are the same, though I hope you understand the perspective I am coming from as I seek to understand more about the Orthodox church.

[4] Finally, what would be a correct view of the way the Orthodox church sees the relationship between the Scriptures and tradition?

Is it:

A) Both are equal in authority
B) The Scriptures are superior to tradition
C) Tradition interprets the Scriptures and is therefore superior
D) Something else...

Thanks again for your time.
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« Reply #26 on: October 10, 2007, 07:52:41 AM »

Hi Leumas,

Thanks for the compliment, although I actually meant the so-called "Redneckian-Hilbillia" rather than English.Smiley

My two cents re. your questions:

1. From what I read and heard, Westerners tend to be somewhat too "analytical" in matters of faith, which is, actually, a tradition that goes back to the times of Latin scholasticism (9th-13th centuries). In Orthodoxy, theology is not as much analysis as experience of a prayerful mind.

2. To me personally, communication with saints is not a problem because they are in Heaven with God. When I ask something in prayer, I address this supplication to God, but it feels very natural to me to ask the Theotokos and my patron saint, St. George the Dragon Slayer, to "carry" my prayer to God (in Ukrainian, "donesty molytvu") - again, because these two are already "there," and at the same time they hear me. It's hard for me to explain it rationally; again, it's an experience rather than a result of some rationalization.

3. Icons are "windows" through which we look at Heaven and see those whom these icons depict.

4. Scripture and Tradition are not two separate things that can be "compared." Rather, as far as I understand, there exists one Holy Tradition of the Church, which consists of the written Tradition and the oral Tradition. The canonical Bible with its Old and New Testaments is the main, principal part of the written Tradition. But it was from the beginning meant to be interpreted not by individuals, but by the collective "patristic" mind, the mind of men whom we call Fathers of the Church. Their writings, which help us understand the Bible, are another part of the written Tradition. Oral Tradition is what you hear from our priests during their sermons. Altogether, the Tradition is "alive," it constantly develops.
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« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2007, 08:11:46 AM »

To all those answering---Thanks for the great answers you are staying on mark on this one! Keep it up!

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« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2007, 08:54:22 AM »

[1] In some recent readings, I have discovered that being raised in a Western nation, when I attempt to think about the Orthodox church I bring with me certain presuppositions and concepts which may be unhelpful towards understanding it.

Because I know so little about the Orthodox church, I don't really know what these unhelpful presuppositions I may (or may not have) are. Would any of you know of some examples that you could share? 

I may not be the best person to answer this - this question may be better handled by someone who was another faith before becoming Orthodox.

From my observation, I would make one point, which is both a response to your 1st question and an aid to the problem you state in the first sentence of your second question: one cannot fully understand what/how/why/who/etc. the Orthodox believe without experiencing our lifestyle - i.e. it makes more sense if you attend a number of Sunday liturgies, attempt to follow our fasting regimen, read some of our saints' books.  If you try and "wrap your head" around the faith, you'll find it to be very difficult.  Our faith, like our worship, is both an exercise of the nous (Greek for "reason", also used to describe the rational brain) and of the senses.  Even if you have no plan to convert, the best means of understanding is to find a local Orthodox Church and take about a month or two and attend, speak with the priest, read a few books, and try to fast when appropriate.

[2] Because nearly all of the things I have learnt as a result of your replies are new to me, it is not easy for me to understand them, even though initially I may have thought that they made sense, only to have more questions upon thinking about them some more. So I hope you can be patient with me and help by providing additional points for me to think about on some of these questions...

Specifically, so far from what I have read the Orthodox practice of prayer to the saints is not the same as worship, but one of intercession. The reason behind this is the belief that those in Christ are not dead and so they can intercede on our behalf.

Some examples from the Scriptures were provided where God healed people at the prayers of others.

The difficulty I have as I think about this practice is that whilst I understand the reasons provided behind the practice of prayers to the saints, I can't help but think that it is an extrapolation of prayers for others (who are still living in the flesh) recorded in the Scriptures, the validity of which I am not convinced.

Perhaps this is due to my view of what prayer is - communication with God and no one else (which may not be an entirely correct understanding of prayer). 

You could make prayer a means of communication with God and no one else, but that would be limiting yourself.  Through examples like what were given before, and others (like the raising of the dead man who was tossed on the bones of the Prophet Elisha, the countless miracles wrought by God using Moses as an intercessor, etc.), God has shown that He will

(a) Listen to our prayers that are brought through an intercessor, and
(b) Act by using the intercessor as an instrument of His will.

One of our fundamental presuppositions as Orthodox is that we cannot make the journey to God as "loners."  God created us as social beings, and He created us to be interdependent.  Our salvation is therefore tied to a certain degree to the community around us, and theirs is to us.  It does not mean that one cannot achieve salvation despite the people around them, but it stands to reason that our spiritual well-being as individuals can and will be enhanced if the people around us are doing well spiritually.

Keeping this in mind, then, it only makes sense to not only pray for others that are in your company, but also to enlist the help of others to pray for you.  We as Orthodox understand that because death is no longer a barrier (thanks to the Death and Resurrection of Christ), we are still connected with those people who have lived righteously throughout the ages, and who are still now part of our community.

[3] Another question I have is regarding the use of icons. I realise this may be quite a controversial topic, so I want to begin by saying that I know the Orthodox church only worships one God, and that the use of icons is not "worship".

What I would like to find out is how this practice was started, and what its basis is. Additionally, because I am not aware of the first Christians recorded in the Bible having practiced this, I would like to know when this was first practised (as far back as we know).

I realise one of the reasons I have difficulties with the concept of veneration is because I come from an ethnic Chinese background. Though our family has never practised ancestor veneration, we are quite aware of the fact that many Chinese people practice ancestor veneration (burning incense, asking the ancestors to intercede on their behalf), and to some extent I have the concept of "ancestor veneration" in the back of my mind when I think about prayer to the saints and the use of icons.

I am not saying these are the same, though I hope you understand the perspective I am coming from as I seek to understand more about the Orthodox church. 

Thank you for the background information.  I don't know how much you are familiar with Taoism, but if you are, then you may want to read Christ the eternal Tao, which makes connections between ancient Taoist belief and what we know about God.  As Orthodox we believe that sometimes cultures get a glimpse of Christ without direct Christian revelation, and we are called to show them that the person/god/etc. that they've believed in all this time is actually Christ (this is what St. Paul did with the Athenians and their "unknown god).

Now, back to your question.  Icons were actually one of the earliest elements of the faith to begin.  While in Judaism graven images of God were not permitted, they did have images of the Cherubim and the angels in the Temple in Jerusalem.  What changed with the Christians is that they saw the Son of God with their own eyes: Jesus was a real person, and they were able to make icons of Him to aid them in their prayer and strengthen them.  The catacomb Churches are filled with iconography (albeit icons that are simpler than what we have now).  As the Church grew, you begin to see the proliferation of icons within her.  It was a controversial topic even for us.

The Seventh Ecumenical Council dealt with the issue of iconography when it came to a head.  It affirmed the place of icons as aids to worshiping the true God.  We believe they are helpful as windows to His saints, activities, and His Son; as tools for teaching in an age when books were harder to come by; and as means of focusing the attention on heavenly things in Church.

When we use the windows analogy, think of this: photographs of family members who have passed on.  We look at the photographs to remind us of who they were; we use them to tell stories about what they did, and how they interacted with us; and although we love them, we don't love the photograph itself - we just use it to bring the image to mind and, through the picture, re-express our love for the person depicted.

I've got to run.  Sorry for the shortened responses.
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« Reply #29 on: October 10, 2007, 09:45:40 AM »

From my observation, I would make one point, which is both a response to your 1st question and an aid to the problem you state in the first sentence of your second question: one cannot fully understand what/how/why/who/etc. the Orthodox believe without experiencing our lifestyle - i.e. it makes more sense if you attend a number of Sunday liturgies, attempt to follow our fasting regimen, read some of our saints' books.  If you try and "wrap your head" around the faith, you'll find it to be very difficult.  Our faith, like our worship, is both an exercise of the nous (Greek for "reason", also used to describe the rational brain) and of the senses.  Even if you have no plan to convert, the best means of understanding is to find a local Orthodox Church and take about a month or two and attend, speak with the priest, read a few books, and try to fast when appropriate.

Thanks, I understand what you mean. Outsiders always lose something of the faith they are trying to observe and understand without directly participating. I have to think about this, as I have commitments in my church, and honestly I believe the worship experience will be very different to that of the worship experience at my church, where we have "white washed walls" (to use a common term), and hence not as visually exciting. I do find the thought of the difference unnerving, especially given the fact that I am something of an "emotionless" guy (i.e. I don't get excited about things very easily).

One of our fundamental presuppositions as Orthodox is that we cannot make the journey to God as "loners."  God created us as social beings, and He created us to be interdependent.  Our salvation is therefore tied to a certain degree to the community around us, and theirs is to us.  It does not mean that one cannot achieve salvation despite the people around them, but it stands to reason that our spiritual well-being as individuals can and will be enhanced if the people around us are doing well spiritually.

This paragraph helped a lot, thank you.

Thank you for the background information.  I don't know how much you are familiar with Taoism, but if you are, then you may want to read Christ the eternal Tao, which makes connections between ancient Taoist belief and what we know about God.  As Orthodox we believe that sometimes cultures get a glimpse of Christ without direct Christian revelation, and we are called to show them that the person/god/etc. that they've believed in all this time is actually Christ (this is what St. Paul did with the Athenians and their "unknown god).

I am actually not familiar with Taoism, at least I would not consider myself an expert in any sense of the word. But ancestor veneration is general knowledge amongst ethnic Chinese. I have not read the book you mentioned, is it by a person named David Marshall (can't remember if that's his name)?

I do believe God can and perhaps did reveal something of Himself to places where Christ was not preached (the story of a "witch doctor" of the aboriginal people in Burma dreaming of a "white man" who would come to bring them the truth comes to mind), though I am somewhat cautious regarding the degree and extent this occurred. From the little that I understand of Taoism, it is hard to be certain of what the original Taoist teachings were - some scholars say one thing, whilst other scholars say another. Thus I can't be sure if the original understanding of Tao amongst the ancient Chinese are what that book says it is.

Though there are a few interesting things related to this I wish to mention:

1. Ancient emperors in China would sacrifice animals to Tian (lit. "heaven") as an atonement for sins.
2. There is some convincing (but inconclusive) evidence that the way Chinese characters were formed reflects certain knowledge that coincides with things recorded in the Bible.

For example, the Chinese character for "boat" is literally a combination of the characters for "eight" and "mouth", and "mouth" in Chinese often means the same thing as "person".

Another example is the Chinese character for "righteousness". It is a combination of the characters for "lamb" and "self", with the character for "lamb" being placed on top of the character for "self".

Finally, the example you mentioned regarding Paul preaching to the Athenians is quite interesting. I know some people who read comics but have not grown up in a Christian family environment. Thus it is hard for them to understand a lot of Christian beliefs. I have discovered that using Superman as an analogy (Superman being a christ-like figure in some ways) helps.
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« Reply #30 on: October 10, 2007, 10:43:17 AM »

I believe the worship experience will be very different to that of the worship experience at my church,
It depends on what your experiences thus far have been, specifically, whether you have attended a "Liturgical" Church, that is, one which uses an ancient "ritual" as it's worship. For example, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans can recognise some parts of our Liturgy because they also have these in their own Liturgies. But if someone's only experience of Christianity is something like the "Hillsong Church", then they would need to do some historical research into Christianity to understand why Liturgy is not only integral to Christianity, but it is also integral in understanding the Christian Scriptures. The "Divine Liturgy", which the Orthodox celebrate on Sundays is a Worship Service which is over one thousand, six hundred years old, and in some cases, the Divine Liturgy is even celebrated in the original language in which it was written in the 4th century. Essentially, the Divine Liturgy is a standardized form of the Lord's Supper (1Corinthians 11:23-26), and even the words St. Paul uses in this Scripture passage, which were part of the Eucharistic celebration of the 1st century are still used in the Eucharistic celebration of the Divine Liturgy today.
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« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2007, 11:09:51 AM »

It depends on what your experiences thus far have been, specifically, whether you have attended a "Liturgical" Church, that is, one which uses an ancient "ritual" as it's worship. For example, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans can recognise some parts of our Liturgy because they also have these in their own Liturgies. But if someone's only experience of Christianity is something like the "Hillsong Church",

I have to admit that I listened to a lot of Hillsong a few years ago when I "gave myself to Jesus," as they say in Evangelical circles. I still listen to them from time to time---don't know whether it's because of nostalgia for that exciting period of my life or because their music is really good. Either way, I still really like listening to Hillsong's joyful music---though never in a liturgical setting, of course.
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« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2007, 04:58:21 PM »

[4] Finally, what would be a correct view of the way the Orthodox church sees the relationship between the Scriptures and tradition?

Is it:

A) Both are equal in authority
B) The Scriptures are superior to tradition
C) Tradition interprets the Scriptures and is therefore superior
D) Something else...

I once heard an excellent homily on this, I will see if I can piece it all together again.

There are two "traditions" in the Church. Big "T" Tradition, also known as Holy Tradition. Holy Tradition, as told in this particular homily, summed up in one sentence Orthodox spirituality. Our goal is become (i.e. unified with God), this is known by the Greek term of theosis as well. That is the ultimate goal of the orthodox, to acheive salvation and to become One with God by overcoming our fallen nature.

The other tradition in the Church is small "t" tradition......essentially why we do what we do. Why do we make the Sign of Cross, prostrations, icon veneration, standing for certain parts of the Liturgy......anything that defines Orthodox life, Orthopraxy. Now to be sure small "t" tradition is important, but one must remember not to lose sight of Holy Tradition, because in doing so, we would render the small "t" traditions irrelevant. Those traditions must be adhered to in the Spirit of the Faith. What precisely that means you will get a vrying amount of answers to.

My Orthodox jurisdiction, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, defines Holy Tradition as:

“Holy Tradition is the living presence of God the Holy Spirit in the Church, Who bears witness to God the Son, Who in turn reveals to us the will of God the Father. Rather than something static and dull, Holy Tradition is a living, vibrant entity which reveals God’s will for His people. In Holy Tradition we are taught the changeless truths necessary for our salvation (i.e. our “doctrine”) and we are schooled in how to respond to the socio-cultural situations and the doctrinal and moral challenges faced by the Church throughout history. The vehicles or media of Holy Tradition are: Holy Scriptures, Liturgical Worship, the Decisions of the Church Councils (in particular the Ecumenical Councils), the Lives and teachings of the Saints (notably the great theologians), and Iconography (Sacred Art and Architecture).”

Therefore, Scripture is vitally important, however it must be properly interpreted by the presence of Holy Tradition in the Church. Holy Tradition set out Biblical canon, one must wonder the wisdom in abandoning said Tradition to gain guidance from the Holy Scriptures.

In Christ
John
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« Reply #33 on: October 10, 2007, 05:06:59 PM »

Now that doesn't mean that Tradition is superior to Scripture, however it is necessary for the proper and Orthodox interpretation of Scripture.

This week I have been thinking that a suitable analogy would be, in the card game of Christian doctrine, Holy Tradition is the Trump Card. So everyone else can bring their doctrine to the table, but if it doesn't measure up to what is defined as proper by Holy Tradition, it's out.

By the way, for your information, I was recently baptized and chrismated in August after converting in late 2006 from a fringe pseudoChristian cult.
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« Reply #34 on: October 10, 2007, 07:40:26 PM »

Now that doesn't mean that Tradition is superior to Scripture, however it is necessary for the proper and Orthodox interpretation of Scripture.

This week I have been thinking that a suitable analogy would be, in the card game of Christian doctrine, Holy Tradition is the Trump Card. So everyone else can bring their doctrine to the table, but if it doesn't measure up to what is defined as proper by Holy Tradition, it's out.

By the way, for your information, I was recently baptized and chrismated in August after converting in late 2006 from a fringe pseudoChristian cult.

What was the cult?
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« Reply #35 on: October 10, 2007, 08:10:12 PM »

If you look far enough back into my posting history, you will find it. Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: October 10, 2007, 08:45:19 PM »

That's crazy as I would have never guessed! Are you EO or OO now? sorry for irrelevant thread material.
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(1914-1923) Ελληνική Γενοκτονία, never again
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« Reply #37 on: October 12, 2007, 01:36:52 AM »

Now that doesn't mean that Tradition is superior to Scripture, however it is necessary for the proper and Orthodox interpretation of Scripture.
As a short note, to set Tradition superior to Scripture or vice versa is to make Scripture and Tradition separate fonts of knowledge and set one against the other, which is not the Orthodox Way.  The Scriptures are Tradition written on paper, and Tradition is the Scriptures properly interpreted, but both are the product of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church and of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you."  - John 14:16-17

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."  - John 16:12-15
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« Reply #38 on: October 12, 2007, 07:43:06 AM »

As a short note, to set Tradition superior to Scripture or vice versa is to make Scripture and Tradition separate fonts of knowledge and set one against the other, which is not the Orthodox Way.  The Scriptures are Tradition written on paper, and Tradition is the Scriptures properly interpreted, but both are the product of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church and of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you."  - John 14:16-17

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."  - John 16:12-15

Peter, thank you so much for this. What a wonderful summary. Now I know how to reply to Protestants! Smiley

This - the imagined opposition or separateness of Scripture and Tradition - is one of the two points where I feel that Protestantism is in a total disconnect with what I am learning in the Orthodox Church, and I often am not eloquent enough to express myself in this regard. The other point is that Church is, allegedly, just an invisible, purely spiritual union of all who "came to Christ," or "were born again," etc.
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« Reply #39 on: October 12, 2007, 09:39:22 AM »

As a short note, to set Tradition superior to Scripture or vice versa is to make Scripture and Tradition separate fonts of knowledge and set one against the other, which is not the Orthodox Way.  The Scriptures are Tradition written on paper, and Tradition is the Scriptures properly interpreted, but both are the product of the Holy Spirit's guidance of the Church and of the Church guided by the Holy Spirit.

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; you know Him, for He dwells with you, and will be in you."  - John 14:16-17

"I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.  When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take what is Mine and declare it to you.  All that the Father has is Mine; therefore I said that He will take what is Mine and declare it to you."  - John 16:12-15

Wow, Peter. This is great. I hope you don't mind if I save this post for future reference.
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« Reply #40 on: October 12, 2007, 10:36:17 PM »

Wow, Peter. This is great. I hope you don't mind if I save this post for future reference.
Just so long as you promise not to use it against me. Wink
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« Reply #41 on: October 16, 2007, 10:34:53 AM »

Thanks to all who have replied. I still have other questions, but for now I would need to give them a rest because class has just started again so I need to spend more time on essay writing and studying for the exam again.

I hope to keep in touch with you all. Bye for now. Smiley
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