(Dateline OC.net Palace): The usual crowds hawking their wares and wearing their hawks within hte OC.net Palace courtyard were startled when the Forum Administrator's balcony doors opened. A trumpet fanfare bagen with a flourish, and those gathered heard a voice calling out...
After much delay solely the fault of the Forum Administrator, the Post of the Month awards are finally being announced!
For July 2008 we have two awardees: One poster so honered is AlexanderofBergamo for this opus
on July 5:
Back to our question (which is one of most disputable anyway), I obviously wasn't dealing with entire (and enormous) range of Protestant movements. I was thinking just of the risks concerning the idea of Sola Scriptura. I know there are many Protestant churches who regard the Church Fathers if not as "authoritative", at least like a model of how the first Christians understood faith and read the Bible. But we can't deny that fundamentalists (or "bible believers", as they sometimes call themselves) have risen introducing many errors in their doctrines as they read the Bible as the only one necessary for truth and even stated that the entire Church apostatized after the Apostolic Age. It's not a case, I think, that many sects like Jehowah's Witnesses and Unitarians formed within the protestant wing of Christianity (although it's an act of injustice and blasphemy to consider them as Protestants or Christians, anyway). I repeat, there are many Protestant movements which I hold in high esteem (here in Bergamo - Italy, the Valdese-Methodist Church can serve as a clear example). But when we define ourselves as Orthodox we recognize that both Bible and Church Fathers (including the Ecumenical Councils) belong to the same Holy Tradition - and this Tradition is our only source of faith. While Roman Catholics feel that Bible and Tradition are two different "sources", and Protestants either reject Tradition at all (fundamentalists) or use it to see how someone read the Bible (the position of many other movements, maybe the majority). But I think the way is to mediate between the two positions. Anglicans, for example, try to reconcile Bible and Tradition by the use of Reason. Often that's not enough, though, but that's
of course a better solution.
As I think my words have been often misunderstood on this Forum (maybe 'cause I'm Italian and my English isn't perfect... I use the words I know to express my opinions as I can), I'll try to clarify my ideas. I don't want to be accused for my beliefs!
The Orthodox Church should not define nor condemn ANY creationist or evolutionist position. The Orthodox Church should take no official position with regard to those things whose nature we'll discover only on Judgment Day. On that occasion, if I were wrong, then you could say "We were right" and I'll accept my error. What's really important is not to reject the CORE of our faith... and this core says we are all God's creatures in his Image; that we're not just animals; that we live in a decaying world; that we all need personally and collectively that one God who became our Saviour and died for our sake and for our salvation 2000 years ago on the altar of the Cross.
The Orthodox Church has survived for two millennia with no necessity to solve this question. Many positions have been taken by individuals and movements within Orthodoxy but the Church is still One, because this questions are to be left unsolved. Yet I still believe in a historical truth of those characters Genesis refers to, and their lives. Most Orthodox did the same for 2000 years, but now it seems that being "creationist" or "traditionalist" has become a heresy... Freedom of thought on this specific questions implies that you should be left the right to doubt and establish by your own but not to impose the belief of the "majority". That's not what Orthodoxy was afraid of in the past... Compromise with the "world" was not the way the Church tried to form her beliefs.
I want to be free to profess my belief as I want you to be free, too. This same conversation is the proof that we're all Orthodox but still personal opinions are allowed.
The fellow awardee sharing this honor in equal measure is Paisius for this post
on July 20:
The law was complete we just weren't mature enough to understand it. I'll give you an analogy. When you were a young child if you did something wrong or that could cause you harm your parents would correct you. When you asked them why almost invariably what was the answer? "Because I told you so." They would say that because you weren't mature enough to understand the reasons, all that was important was that they kept you from harm.
The Old Covenant was very similar. All of the law was in place for one reason, to lead us to love and communion with God. But as we humans weren't mature enough to fully understand the purpose of the law there were penalties in place to discourage us from breaking the law. They were there to protect us and for the most part the explanation was simply because God told us so.
With the Incarnation God became one of us so He could talk to us on our level, face to face. He did this so He could explain in terms we could understand the reason for the law. With the New Covenant the law wasn't abolished but rather it was fulfilled because now in Christ we know the purpose of the law.
In August 2008, the awardee is DavidBryan for this work
given to us on August 12:
I think the intellectual input and stimulation, as well as the realization that they're actually DOING something with their faith outside of church services provides a thrill that they weren't getting with just "spectator sport" Orthodoxy/Catholicism, where the priest/choir/chanters sang the Divine Liturgy/said Mass and they went through the motions without any purposeful explanation and education of what was going on.
When you take the stated doctrine of having all your sins completely and permanently wiped out, forever, of never having to deal with any kind of ascetic effort in order to arrive at purification and sanctification, and are "free" to rejoice in a perceived spiritual perfection that God has granted you apart from any obedience you may or may not have actually walked in -- well, as virtual and artificial as it may sound when I put it that way, it does make for a VERY grateful reaction on the part of the believer. "He who has been forgiven much, loves much," and all that. The Evangelical perceives that his sins have been declared null and void through the legal transaction of the blood of Christ before the Father, and so they are free simply to rejoice in an already finished righteousness, an already guaranteed place in heaven. Couple this grateful state with AGRESSIVE memorization of proof-texts that seem to bolster this teaching, and you have the added rush of thinking that God's biblical stamp of approval supports the idea, adding confidence to enthusiastic gratitude.
It is difficult, then, to put Orthodoxy next to that and say, "Christ has died and risen again; through baptism we are brought into His Kingdom so that we would have the POTENTIAL of working out our salvation with fear and trembling, making every effort to enter into the rest He prepared for us through His Passion and Resurrection. The enemy, however, still prowls around as the wolf of souls, seeking to make us his prey, so we must be ever mindful of sinful habits that remain in our lives, as they could be occasion for the enemy to gain a foothold. Our life in Christ consists of constant vigilance, constant repentance, constant participation in the sacramental life of the Church, and constant sorrow and (should God grant) true tears of repentance over our state as 'chief of sinners' so that we might gain times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord which is the comfort for those who have mourned."
Evangelicals will say that this gospel has been tried and found wanting, pointing to the Orthodox hierarchs' and clergy's moral failure, as well as the laity's laxity and lack of fervor in studying about and participating in their faith outside of services. I would say that the faith is not so much tried and found wanting as it has been found difficult and left untried. This is not so much an excuse as it is an explanation. What is needed? A culture shift, I think. Increased emphasis on personal sin and the need for repentance, forgiveness and grace. Priorities on parish education regarding biblical, patristic support for Orthodox positions. Clear opportunities to LIVE the gospel (service projects like the ones above, for example). Fellowship and increased accountability among the faithful, pushing each other on to greater piety and holiness of life, seeking out ways to rid ourselves of sin and live to Christ. I say that, if these things are considered solely Evangelical territory, we as Orthodox have sold our birthright, so to speak, and Evangelicals' coming in and gaining the souls the Church has neglected should come as no surprise.
And September 2008's awardee is from Marc1152 for this elucidation
from September 17:
Here is what I think is the problem with this.
The argument for a Chinese Theotokos Icon is cultural and has a whiff of political correctness to it. No big deal. However, the objection is Theological and rather serious.
There are two types of religion and since the Buddha was mentioned I will use some Buddhist terms to explain this. One type of religion is "Ji " or "Ji-Kempon" (Sorry, I have to use Japanese Buddhist terms since that is what I was trained in) It means.. ACTUAL.. or Actual Manifestation. Orthodoxy is a Ji type of religion. The Eucharist is ACTUALLY the blood and body of the Christ. We are to be actually (Really) raised in our own bodies at the end of time. Our pratice it Theosis, we are literally transformed to a closer likeness of Christ. Jesus himself is God, not a fine Rabbi or just a some sort of half measure. He is fully God......ect. ect. Got it?
The other type of religion is "Ri" or Ri-Kemon, Manifestation ...IN PRINCIPLE... The way forward in this type of religion is you shoot for a bundle of admirable Principles. Each person, on the inside, is like God and by following these Principles (Christian Principles in this case) you reveal and bring out this inner way of being. All people have this internal seed or divine spark and only need to practice these Principles to make spiritual progress.
So why not have a Chinese Theotokos or a Black Jesus? It is the Principle which all people can access, that is what is operative. But this is not Orthodox Christianity. In Orthodoxy, the Truth of the Theotokos is not representative. It is her in actuality, the factual Jewish Woman who really carried God in her womb. The Truth is Jesus himself and his teachings (His "Dharma") are inseparable from his actual being and his actual life. It is not symbolic and cant be honestly transferred into a misrepresentation.
Furthermore, the Dao is not the Christ any more than the Eternal Buddha Shakyamuni is the Christ just by another name. Those things are LIKE the Christ in many interesting ways. It proves that spiritually minded people of past ages with no knowledge of Christ or Judaism could discern some things that are correct about the Universe and how it operates. That is a fine thing but does not mean the Dao or the Eternal Buddha is in actuality Jesus Christ who really lived, really died and was really reserected in a really existing place and time.
All of the awardees were shuttled onto the balcony, and after the stunned silence, the crowd roared their approval:"AXIOI! AXIOI! AXIOI!"