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Author Topic: One True Church?  (Read 49050 times) Average Rating: 0
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Cleopas
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« Reply #135 on: January 30, 2009, 12:34:12 PM »

Glory to God!

Thank you.  Smiley

Quote
First off, may I ask to what 3 branches you are referring?
Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (used here as an all inclusive term for reformed and evangelical type churches)

Quote
Secondly, honestly, you believe your Church to "contain the most accurate beliefs and conformity to NT Christianity (as recorded in the Scripture)?"  I don't mean that to sound crass or harsh.  But the next thing you say is this:

Quote
I really didn't know anything much about Orthodoxy before coming across OC.net. I had assumed you were pretty much the same thing as Catholics (which in some ways you still are, to me).

So how can you believe that when you don't even know what else is out there?  Historically, I'm sorry, whether you want to acknowledge it or not (oops, there's that expression again), we ARE the historical Church, the Church of Acts.  You had no clue what we believe before, and obviously still have little knowledge (if you think we are the same as Catholics).  So how is it that you believe you possess NT Christianity?

I do. Admittedly there was and is much about Orthodoxy not understood by myself. But I am not totally ignorant thereof. And the things that give me the greatest concerns about Catholicism are more or less evident in Orthodoxy as well (i.e. literal prescence, prayers for the dead, infant baptism and lack of emphaisi on personal conversion, prayers to saints, lack of singulrity of ultimate authority residing in Scripture, etc.)

Simply put, when I read the Bible, churches like mine are the closest thing to the NT record of church practice, structure, and belief of the three major branches.

Quote
Interesting that you (hypothetical you plural) feel yourself qualified, having little knowledge of our faith, to make that judgment.  Even if you did know of our faith, what makes you qualified to judge the presence of saving grace among us, again?  Somehow I thought that was God's job... As we've said over and over, we make no judgments of saving grace among you.  We just know what we have. 

I think perhaps you tokk my words for more than intended. Christ said we shall know the tree by it's fruit. I was simply saying that I see good fruit among you.

Quote
I am truly glad to hear you say this.  I think building bridges and relationships is, indeed, a worthy reason.  I always feel edified by conversation with you, my friend!

Thank you, and I likewise share in that sentiment as well toward you. Smiley



Fixed quote tags  -PtA
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 08:01:22 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged

Cleopas
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« Reply #136 on: January 30, 2009, 01:55:04 PM »

Glory to God!

Thank you.  Smiley

Quote
First off, may I ask to what 3 branches you are referring?
Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (used here as an all inclusive term for reformed and evangelical type churches)

Quote
Secondly, honestly, you believe your Church to "contain the most accurate beliefs and conformity to NT Christianity (as recorded in the Scripture)?"  I don't mean that to sound crass or harsh.  But the next thing you say is this:

Quote
I really didn't know anything much about Orthodoxy before coming across OC.net. I had assumed you were pretty much the same thing as Catholics (which in some ways you still are, to me).

So how can you believe that when you don't even know what else is out there?  Historically, I'm sorry, whether you want to acknowledge it or not (oops, there's that expression again), we ARE the historical Church, the Church of Acts.  You had no clue what we believe before, and obviously still have little knowledge (if you think we are the same as Catholics).  So how is it that you believe you possess NT Christianity?

I do. Admittedly there was and is much about Orthodoxy not understood by myself. But I am not totally ignorant thereof. And the things that give me the greatest concerns about Catholicism are more or less evident in Orthodoxy as well (i.e. literal prescence, prayers for the dead, infant baptism and lack of emphaisi on personal conversion, prayers to saints, lack of singulrity of ultimate authority residing in Scripture, etc.)

Simply put, when I read the Bible, churches like mine are the closest thing to the NT record of church practice, structure, and belief of the three major branches.

Quote
Interesting that you (hypothetical you plural) feel yourself qualified, having little knowledge of our faith, to make that judgment.  Even if you did know of our faith, what makes you qualified to judge the presence of saving grace among us, again?  Somehow I thought that was God's job... As we've said over and over, we make no judgments of saving grace among you.  We just know what we have.

I think perhaps you tokk my words for more than intended. Christ said we shall know the tree by it's fruit. I was simply saying that I see good fruit among you.

Quote
I am truly glad to hear you say this.  I think building bridges and relationships is, indeed, a worthy reason.  I always feel edified by conversation with you, my friend!

Thank you, and I likewise share in that sentiment as well toward you. Smiley

Literal presence is held by many Lutherans.  Infant baptism is done by the mainline Protestant churches.  The need for personal conversion is held by many Protestants who believe "pentecostal gifts" (e.g. glossalia) need not be present for a person or church to be Christian. 

Why must the historic church be exactly like the church of the New Testament? 



Fixed quote tags in block of post quoting Cleopas  -PtA
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 08:04:38 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
Cleopas
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« Reply #137 on: January 30, 2009, 02:10:40 PM »

Literal presence is held by many Lutherans.  Infant baptism is done by the mainline Protestant churches.  The need for personal conversion is held by many Protestants who believe "pentecostal gifts" (e.g. glossalia) need not be present for a person or church to be Christian.

1. Even though Lutherans may have their own literal prescence beliefs, they emphasis personal conversion, especially (initial) justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.

2. Yes, some Protestant churches baptize infants. Still they have historically, emphasised personal conversion in spite their practice of infant baptism. However, let me hasten to add that I believe the more radical reformation branch (the anebaptists movement, etc.) of what is now typically categorized lump sum as "Protestant" probably is more closely aligned with and decended from NT distinctives. I suppose that is why there is such common agreement in beliefs among myself and David Young, more than say with a Presbyterian or an Anglican.

Quote
Why must the historic church be exactly like the church of the New Testament? 

Because if, at least in principle, it is not the same then any claim to being the continuation thereof fails to be valid (at least to the degree it fails to be conformable to the principles of NT Christinaity).
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« Reply #138 on: January 30, 2009, 02:27:32 PM »

Orthodoxy isn't a branch, it's the trunk:NT Christianity in the 21st century and all 21 centuries in between

So you say. But what do Serbian's Say? Catholics? You get the idea.
At best, from a purely chronologically overview, Orthodoxy is an ancient and early branch, a major branch, in the growth of the tree of Christianity (if you will). Maye even the closest to the trunk. Yet, if any can, then only the pre-schismatic chronological church can claim uncontested title to being exclusively the one and self same church our Lord started.

That would be us.

Since the Serbians are Orthodox (or rather most Serbians are Serbian Orthodox, who are Orthodox) they would say the same thing.

Catholics?  We are the Catholic Church, so we say the same.  If you are refering to the Vatican, their reversal of their own Popes (e.g. Pope Leo III forbids the innovation of the filioque, pope Leo IX insists on it, etc.) is quite clear.

So yes, I get the idea.

The only  pre-schismatic chronological church can claim uncontested title to being exclusively the one and self same church our Lord started.  Yes, that would be us.  That others broke off doesn't effect that.

My grandfather's arm got gangerous and had to be cut off.  That doesn't mean he ceased to be the same man born October 8, 1895.

As I stated:
5. How does one prove or validate their Apostolic lineage?

Those who have continued steadfastly in the Apostles' doctrine and communion, in the eucharist and the liturgy (THE Prayers) witness by their laying on of hands that the candidate so too continues in the Apostles doctrine and communion.  In other words, that the Apostles would commune them.  Those laying on hands must be in the Orthodox Churches diptychs.
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« Reply #139 on: January 30, 2009, 02:40:31 PM »

Orthodoxy isn't a branch, it's the trunk:NT Christianity in the 21st century and all 21 centuries in between

So you say. But what do Serbian's Say? Catholics? You get the idea.
At best, from a purely chronologically overview, Orthodoxy is an ancient and early branch, a major branch, in the growth of the tree of Christianity (if you will). Maye even the closest to the trunk. Yet, if any can, then only the pre-schismatic chronological church can claim uncontested title to being exclusively the one and self same church our Lord started.

That would be us.

Since the Serbians are Orthodox (or rather most Serbians are Serbian Orthodox, who are Orthodox) they would say the same thing.

Catholics?  We are the Catholic Church, so we say the same.  If you are refering to the Vatican, their reversal of their own Popes (e.g. Pope Leo III forbids the innovation of the filioque, pope Leo IX insists on it, etc.) is quite clear.

So yes, I get the idea.

My apologies.
I must have mixed the proper descriptive up.

As to Catholics, you know full well I was referring to Rome. Wink

Rome contends they are the trunk.
You contend you are the trunk.
Another (* wrongly indetified previously as Serbian) contends they are the trunk.
Alas, CHRIST is not divided! All who are in Christ, all who are justified by faith in His work (Hebrews 12:23), whatever church, whatever branch, what ever descriptive, are together the church universal. That no doubt includes Evangelicals and Protestants of various stripes, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. Likewise it undoubtedly does NOT include all Evangelicals or Protestants, all Orthodox, nor all Roman Catholics.

You see, you may not where saving grace is ourside of the Orthodox church, but we do!  Grin And where that grace is, Christ is. We all who share that saving grace are one spirit with the Lord, one body of believers universal, though we be currently divided into our various sub-categories.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 02:42:04 PM by Cleopas » Logged

Cleopas
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« Reply #140 on: January 30, 2009, 02:44:09 PM »


Btw, I'll echo Greek Chef's sentiments.

First off, may I ask to what 3 branches you are referring?


Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant (used here as an all inclusive term for reformed and evangelical type churches)

Secondly, honestly, you believe your Church to "contain the most accurate beliefs and conformity to NT Christianity (as recorded in the Scripture)?"  I don't mean that to sound crass or harsh.  But the next thing you say is this:

Quote
I really didn't know anything much about Orthodoxy before coming across OC.net. I had assumed you were pretty much the same thing as Catholics (which in some ways you still are, to me).

So how can you believe that when you don't even know what else is out there?  Historically, I'm sorry, whether you want to acknowledge it or not (oops, there's that expression again), we ARE the historical Church, the Church of Acts.  You had no clue what we believe before, and obviously still have little knowledge (if you think we are the same as Catholics).  So how is it that you believe you possess NT Christianity?

I do. Admittedly there was and is much about Orthodoxy not understood by myself. But I am not totally ignorant thereof. And the things that give me the greatest concerns about Catholicism are more or less evident in Orthodoxy as well (i.e. literal prescence, prayers for the dead, infant baptism and lack of emphaisi on personal conversion, prayers to saints, lack of singulrity of ultimate authority residing in Scripture, etc.)

Simply put, when I read the Bible, churches like mine are the closest thing to the NT record of church practice, structure, and belief of the three major branches.

Your first problem/difference from the NT record of Church practice is reading the Bible.  There was no NT to read: when St. Paul praises the Corinthians for celebrating the Eucharist, he specifically praises them for, and commands them to (I Cor. 11:) "1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you"

When he give the account of the Last Supper, no Gospel had been written: it had been transmitted in Divine Liturgy.

What traditions that have been delievered to you do you hold firm to, and deliever?

And the NT lacks the singulrity of ultimate authority residing in Scripture.  When the Church creates the order of diaconate, there is no reference to Scripture.  The Church just acts on her own authority.


And you still haven't explained why, while St. Paul submitted to the Church, you have not.

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« Reply #141 on: January 30, 2009, 02:51:21 PM »

Orthodoxy isn't a branch, it's the trunk:NT Christianity in the 21st century and all 21 centuries in between

So you say. But what do Serbian's Say? Catholics? You get the idea.
At best, from a purely chronologically overview, Orthodoxy is an ancient and early branch, a major branch, in the growth of the tree of Christianity (if you will). Maye even the closest to the trunk. Yet, if any can, then only the pre-schismatic chronological church can claim uncontested title to being exclusively the one and self same church our Lord started.

That would be us.

Since the Serbians are Orthodox (or rather most Serbians are Serbian Orthodox, who are Orthodox) they would say the same thing.

Catholics?  We are the Catholic Church, so we say the same.  If you are refering to the Vatican, their reversal of their own Popes (e.g. Pope Leo III forbids the innovation of the filioque, pope Leo IX insists on it, etc.) is quite clear.

So yes, I get the idea.

My apologies.
I must have mixed the proper descriptive up.

As to Catholics, you know full well I was referring to Rome. Wink

Just correcting the terminology. police Wink police

Quote
Rome contends they are the trunk.
You contend you are the trunk.
Another (* wrongly indetified previously as Serbian) contends they are the trunk.
Alas, CHRIST is not divided! All who are in Christ, all who are justified by faith in His work (Hebrews 12:23), whatever church, whatever branch, what ever descriptive, are together the church universal.

No, there are not.  You skip the possibility that someone is lying.

If there is no One True Church, or as we say, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, then we are lying.

And if our beliefs, documented in the Church from the time of SS Clement and Ignatius, i.e. those the Apostles handed the Church over to, are not true, then our Fathers were lying.

And if our Father were lying, then Christ who promised to be with the Church "every day until the end of the Age," and promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against her, was lying.

And if He is lying, then there is no need to debate this all, is there?

 
Quote
That no doubt includes Evangelicals and Protestants of various stripes, Orthodox, and Roman Catholics. Likewise it undoubtedly does NOT include all Evangelicals or Protestants, all Orthodox, nor all Roman Catholics.

You see, you may not where saving grace is ourside of the Orthodox church, but we do!

No, you don't.  Visible grace of knowing where the Church is, is embodied in the Orthodox Church.  By definition, any part of the "Church" outside her visible and manifest boundaries is ipso facto "unknown."  Grin

Quote
And where that grace is, Christ is. We all who share that saving grace are one spirit with the Lord, one body of believers universal, though we be currently divided into our various sub-categories.

Like my grandfather's severed arm.  May you be reattached to the Body.
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« Reply #142 on: January 30, 2009, 02:54:20 PM »

Why must the historic church be exactly like the church of the New Testament? 

Because if, at least in principle, it is not the same then any claim to being the continuation thereof fails to be valid (at least to the degree it fails to be conformable to the principles of NT Christinaity).

I'm betting that that isn't your baby picture.  Are you the living continuation of the infant in your baby picture?
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« Reply #143 on: January 30, 2009, 03:46:55 PM »


Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.



Really?  Sacraments are NOT needed?  This is news to me.
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I could go on....



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« Reply #144 on: January 30, 2009, 06:04:06 PM »


Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.



Really?  Sacraments are NOT needed? 

Cleopas wrote that sacraments are not needed in order to become justified before God. They were instituted by our Lord, are his commands, and are means of grace. They strengthen the believer. When done in faith they are steps in his experience of God, his growth in grace, his hold on God by faith. But justification comes before them; it is the beginning, and is effected by grace through faith. For that, a sacrament is not the means.
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« Reply #145 on: January 30, 2009, 06:13:14 PM »

Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.
Wow. If you actually believe this, then you are not a Christian.

The term "sacrament" literally means "that which makes us holy." When we are baptized, we become more like Christ, who receives our sins through baptism. When we are married, we become more like Christ, who is the Bridegroom of the Church. When we are ordained, we become more like Christ, who is our High Priest. When we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, we become more like Christ, because we remember Christ and become more dependent on Him for our sustenance. When we confess our sins and repent of them, we become more like Christ, who is without sin.

No one can be justified without confession, repentance, and forgiveness. All sacraments are manifestations of these essential elements of Christianity. To say that sacraments are not necessary is to say that confession is not necessary, nor repentance, nor forgiveness--and then you hold to a different gospel, a different religion entirely.
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« Reply #146 on: January 30, 2009, 06:38:30 PM »

What traditions that have been delievered to you do you hold firm to?

Without reading it all through, I think the answer would be close to, if not exactly, the formal pronouncements of the ecumentical councils that were held in the first, say 450 years of the church's life, well before the church began to ramify into Catholic / Orthodox, and later into Anabaptist / Protestant, and so on.

In fact, I think we are really debating four different approaches to Tradition, but writing as if we were debating only two. I am aware this is a recurrent theme of mine: different issues get blended in our posts, when they really belong apart. Anyway, if I am not mistaken, there are at least these four views:

- Holy Tradition, as held by Orthodox
- Tradition, as held by Rome
- tradition as maintained by Protestants
- the Anabaptist view of Tradition and and scripture.

My use or disuse of capitals is quite deliberate there. Dealing with them out of order, I would suggest:

- The Anabaptist view is the one you good Orthodox are mainly attacking on these posts, that is, that there is no valid tradition at all and each believer, being endowed with the Holy Spirit as we are, is able to discern the right teaching direct from scripture by the Spirit's enlightenment, without needing the teaching of the Fathers, Councils, Reformers, theologians or anyone else. This view was held by the 16th century Anabaptists, but became more widely popularised over the past eighty years or so as a reaction to the debilitating effects of biblical criticism and the spread of Liberal theology.

- The Catholic view, which holds that there are two equally authorative sources of truth - church tradition and scripture. There is no need for what is revealed via church tradition to be hinted at, let alone specified, in scripture. This view developed in the Middle Ages, later than the filioque controversy and the split and is peculiar to Rome. Most Protestant books attacking tradition deal entirely, or almost entirely with this view and do not address the Orthodox position.

- The Orthodox view, which is that scripture alone is the receptacle of God's revelation, and all that is necessary for salvation and godly living is contained within its pages, but for the correct interpretation of this sole source of authority one looks to Holy Tradition (Councils, Fathers, liturgy etc).

- The classic Protestant view, which (I believe) is closer to the Orthodox view than to either of the other two. The Reformers did not expect anyone and everyone to refer only to the Holy Spirit within himself to gain proper understanding of the Bible, but laid great weight on the traditional understanding in the early church (which is why they retained practices like infant baptism, and continued to believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary). We do not believe that our tradition is infallible - that the masters have spoken and no further correction will ever be needed - but we do remain firmly within the general parameters they set, and have preserved.

Believers' baptism is a good example of development resulting from further reflection. I believe (I have no statistics ready to hand, but I guess they are available somewhere) that most convinced and practising Protestants in the world today now practise believers' baptism - though in no way do we say that those who retain the older practice are excluded from life and grace.

Justification by faith is another example. The early Fathers did not really develop a theory of the Atonement, concentrating rather on the doctrines of the Trinity and the Person of Christ - that is, on the dogmas that needed defining in response to current heresies. That Christ redeemed us by his death and resurrection they always affirmed and preached; but they did not systematise a doctrine of how his death and resurrection redeemed us. They did not turn their attention to soteriology in their ecumenical statements. In the 16th century West however it became the major matter of theological debate and formulation.

So to answer ialmistry's question, we abide within that stream of tradition. It is more dynamic, more open to amendment and development, than the Orthodox view, and it allows freedom for individual believers to read and to discuss, and within the tradition to alter their views whilst remaining truly Evangelcial; but it does not make us each his own pope: that, I suggest, is more applicable to a fully developed Anabaptist view.

I think this may also point to a partial answer to the question, whether I ever feel frustrated on the forum. You see, I can sit down with my fellow Evangelicals and discuss points of theology - as I often do - or read theological books - also as I often do - and adjust my beliefs without creating a religious rift between me and my fellows. But the discussion on the threads here sometimes reads like, "The Church has spoken: there is no need to think about whether my personal beliefs need to change." This is such a new kind or idea of discussion, to my narrow Evangelical past experience, that I sometimes find it hard to 'get my head round it'.

I hope it is not in some way contrary to forum rules, but I think this might be just as relevantly posted on the sola scripture thread, so craving your indulgence, I shall do so.



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« Reply #147 on: January 30, 2009, 06:47:37 PM »

Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.
If you actually believe this, then you are not a Christian.

I don't think it means Cleopas and I are not Christians. I think it means we use the word "justify" or " justification" with a different meaning from the one you assign to it. I think you use the word with the meaning "to make righteous"; we use it to mean "to account righteous". The initial change of status before God, from a guilty, condemned sinner to a forgiven man declared 'not guilty', is the first and instantaneous event. Being 'made righteous' is what we term 'sanctification', that is, being changed into Christ's likeness. That is a life-long process, worked out by cooperation between the Christian and God, and (apart from by those holding Wesleyan theology) not expected to be fulfilled in this life.
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« Reply #148 on: January 30, 2009, 08:01:08 PM »

There is a large riff between us which needs some attention. Your theology basically leaves god as a judge and requires man to just acknowledge him in faith. While we through faith along with works try to gain the kingdom in this life through deification. Synergy between man and god.  I see that the only Synergy in your practice is just a choice to follow and you leave the rest to god. In our faith that isn't enough. We believe that we play a much greater role in our salvation. We believe he gives us the holy spirit to help us to deification. He gives us the means to become like him and that becoming like his is our salvation. Anything else isn't.  Only when our image has become like his image salvation has become manifest. 
 
When you tell us such things like you are justified at the moment of faith. We see it as rather lame. Because that isn't salvation for us. Even the demons know god exists and every man knows that there is at least a chance that he could. That chance no matter how small it might be always casts doubts on mans salvation, believer or non-believer alike. It's circular.
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« Reply #149 on: January 30, 2009, 08:18:28 PM »

Your theology basically leaves god as a judge and requires man to just acknowledge him in faith.
Can you quote specific points of the theology of David Young and Cleopas so that we know specifically what you are criticizing in their point of view?  Otherwise, it looks like you're merely attacking a straw man.
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« Reply #150 on: January 30, 2009, 08:23:39 PM »

There is a large riff between us which needs some attention. Your theology basically leaves god as a judge and requires man to just acknowledge him in faith. While we through faith along with works try to gain the kingdom in this life through deification. Synergy between man and god.  I see that the only Synergy in your practice is just a choice to follow and you leave the rest to god. In our faith that isn't enough. We believe that we play a much greater role in our salvation. We believe he gives us the holy spirit to help us to deification. He gives us the means to become like him and that becoming like his is our salvation. Anything else isn't.  Only when our image has become like his image salvation has become manifest. 
 
When you tell us such things like you are justified at the moment of faith. We see it as rather lame. Because that isn't salvation for us. Even the demons know god exists and every man knows that there is at least a chance that he could. That chance no matter how small it might be always casts doubts on mans salvation, believer or non-believer alike. It's circular.

No doubts here!

Quote
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

See, were already born of God. We already have Christ in us. We growing more perfectly into His image, yes, but because we are laready His! We are NOW saved and because we are saved we purify ourselves, knowing that when he appears we will be just like Him.

In fact, even though we cooperate with God in this Christian life, it is still wholly of God that we are Christian (Philippians 2:13), both intially and continually (1 Corinthians 15:10a). Even the works we do emanate from Christ in us (Colossians 1:27), His Spirit through us, not from ourselves. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine (John 15:4-5)! He has begun the good work, and He will finish it (Philippians 1:6). We are already complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), even while we grow more fully into His perfection ourselves (see 1 John 3:2-3 above).


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« Reply #151 on: January 30, 2009, 08:33:35 PM »

Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.
Wow. If you actually believe this, then you are not a Christian.

The term "sacrament" literally means "that which makes us holy."

I meant it in the more confined sense whereby various sacremental rituals themselves become necessarry in order to become justified with God.
Observance of Christian rites and practices (debates regaridng their proper reception, practice, or function aside) will follow, and willingness will spring from the heart, of those truly justified by faith in the Lord.

David Young has accurately understood and related my intention.

Sacrements (the ritualistic observances themselves, ie.e baptism, Lord's supper, etc.), as you call them, are to us only for the believer. Hence one must have already believed on the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins in order to partake in them. One must already be reconcilled to God through Christ. Else wise, though they may believe with the intellect, they are not indeed believers, their sins yet seperating between them and their God.
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« Reply #152 on: January 30, 2009, 09:08:48 PM »

Literal presence is held by many Lutherans.  Infant baptism is done by the mainline Protestant churches.  The need for personal conversion is held by many Protestants who believe "pentecostal gifts" (e.g. glossalia) need not be present for a person or church to be Christian.

1. Even though Lutherans may have their own literal prescence beliefs, they emphasis personal conversion, especially (initial) justification by faith alone in Christ alone. Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.

2. Yes, some Protestant churches baptize infants. Still they have historically, emphasised personal conversion in spite their practice of infant baptism. However, let me hasten to add that I believe the more radical reformation branch (the anebaptists movement, etc.) of what is now typically categorized lump sum as "Protestant" probably is more closely aligned with and decended from NT distinctives. I suppose that is why there is such common agreement in beliefs among myself and David Young, more than say with a Presbyterian or an Anglican.

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Why must the historic church be exactly like the church of the New Testament? 

Because if, at least in principle, it is not the same then any claim to being the continuation thereof fails to be valid (at least to the degree it fails to be conformable to the principles of NT Christinaity).

According to the Lutherans I've spoken with, the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are necessary for being a Christian.  Per them, Baptism is God's work by which a person (infant or adult) is given the Holy Spirit and faith.  Conversion is not about what we do, but what God does for us through Word and Sacrament.  I'll have to check up on it, but I do not think the Lutherans I know would separate faith from sacrament.  The Lutherans I've mostly spoken with are confessional (e.g. LCMS, WELS).  In any case, I imagine that those Lutherans affected by piestist spirituality see things differently.   

My best friend in college was a fundamentalist/Baptist Christian, so to a certain degree I understand where you're coming from. 

I agree that the Church today should have real continuity with the Church of the New Testament.  What I question, however, is whether this ought to be a point-by-point conformity or a continuity that takes into consideration issues not clearly present in the early Church.  For example: church buildings.  There were no church buildings for the early Christians.  The early Christians continued to go to the synagogue, but to preach.  They assembled at the homes of fellow Christians.  Does this mean that Christians today who build and use church buildings are less in continuity with the early Christians than the home churching Christians (e.g. the Amish)?  I think that Orthodox and Anabaptist-variety Protestants in fact agree on many of the principles: e.g. giving your property to the church community, praying for one another, taking care of the elderly, the widowed, the poor and marginalized.  So, I'm not trying to create a wedge here.  I just see room for pastoral developments that may not be explicitly endorsed by the early Church, but which are nonetheless no less proper.             



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« Reply #153 on: January 30, 2009, 09:22:13 PM »

Orthodoxy isn't a branch, it's the trunk:NT Christianity in the 21st century and all 21 centuries in between

So you say. But what do Serbian's Say? Catholics? You get the idea.
At best, from a purely chronologically overview, Orthodoxy is an ancient and early branch, a major branch, in the growth of the tree of Christianity (if you will). Maye even the closest to the trunk. Yet, if any can, then only the pre-schismatic chronological church can claim uncontested title to being exclusively the one and self same church our Lord started.


The Serbians would say they are in the exact same Church as the Russians, Greeks, Romanian's and all the other Orthodox. We all share the exact same faith. You are confusing Church governance with denominationalism.

The Catholics are in a different category. They can also claim apostolic succesion and for a thousand years were part of the Ancient Church. They consider us in schism from them and we say the same about them. It's more in the nature of a family dispute.
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« Reply #154 on: January 30, 2009, 09:29:08 PM »

According to the Lutherans I've spoken with, the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are necessary for being a Christian.

I'm not sure I differ with the statement as given, that "sacrements" are necessary for BEING a Christian. Indeed faith without works is dead. Saving faith is a productive faith. Wink
However, what I am contending is not that such observances are german, indeed necessarry compeonents of the Christian life. Rather, that sacrements are necessarry for BECOMING a Christian.  

Being a Christian? in a manner of speaking, yes.
Becoming one? No.

Quote
Per them, Baptism is God's work by which a person (infant or adult) is given the Holy Spirit and faith.  Conversion is not about what we do, but what God does for us through Word and Sacrament.  I'll have to check up on it, but I do not think the Lutherans I know would separate faith from sacrament.  The Lutherans I've mostly spoken with are confessional (e.g. LCMS, WELS).  In any case, I imagine that those Lutherans affected by piestist spirituality see things differently.


Well, they would know better than I, so perhaps I have misspoken.

My intention was that Luther (and hence it would follow Lutherans) hold to Justification by faith alone in Christ alone. If some Lutherans do not then that is news to me.
It is indeed possible though.

Quote
My best friend in college was a fundamentalist/Baptist Christian, so to a certain degree I understand where you're coming from.

Glad to know it. Sometimes I feel like we are speaking different languages, despite the fact they both appear to be English. laugh The more of us that understand both "dialects" can help bridge the communication gap.  Smiley

Quote
I agree that the Church today should have real continuity with the Church of the New Testament.  What I question, however, is whether this ought to be a point-by-point conformity or a continuity that takes into consideration issues not clearly present in the early Church.  For example: church buildings.  There were no church buildings for the early Christians.  The early Christians continued to go to the synagogue, but to preach.  They assembled at the homes of fellow Christians.  Does this mean that Christians today who build and use church buildings are less in continuity with the early Christians than the home churching Christians (e.g. the Amish)?  I think that Orthodox and Anabaptist-variety Protestants in fact agree on many of the principles: e.g. giving your property to the church community, praying for one another, taking care of the elderly, the widowed, the poor and marginalized.  So, I'm not trying to create a wedge here.  I just see room for pastoral developments that may not be explicitly endorsed by the early Church, but which are nonetheless no less proper.


Then it seems we essentially agree. I guess it's like they say, "the devil is in the details."  Tongue Cheesy laugh
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« Reply #155 on: January 30, 2009, 09:34:57 PM »

The Serbians would say they are in the exact same Church as the Russians, Greeks, Romanian's and all the other Orthodox. We all share the exact same faith. You are confusing Church governance with denominationalism.

The Catholics are in a different category. They can also claim apostolic succesion and for a thousand years were part of the Ancient Church. They consider us in schism from them and we say the same about them. It's more in the nature of a family dispute.

Yes, I understand. I actually misspoke when I said Serbians. Perhaps it was Coptic?  Huh

At any rate, someone said something in one of these threads recently about someone quoting a father or leader in a group who was emphatically not a part of the Orthodox church. Whoever that was, it was to them I referred. Details and descriptives aside, my point was that you guys are not the only ones who claim, defend, and make good argument for being in fact the NT church.
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« Reply #156 on: January 30, 2009, 09:36:56 PM »

There is a large riff between us which needs some attention. Your theology basically leaves god as a judge and requires man to just acknowledge him in faith. While we through faith along with works try to gain the kingdom in this life through deification. Synergy between man and god.  I see that the only Synergy in your practice is just a choice to follow and you leave the rest to god. In our faith that isn't enough. We believe that we play a much greater role in our salvation. We believe he gives us the holy spirit to help us to deification. He gives us the means to become like him and that becoming like his is our salvation. Anything else isn't.  Only when our image has become like his image salvation has become manifest. 
 
When you tell us such things like you are justified at the moment of faith. We see it as rather lame. Because that isn't salvation for us. Even the demons know god exists and every man knows that there is at least a chance that he could. That chance no matter how small it might be always casts doubts on mans salvation, believer or non-believer alike. It's circular.

No doubts here!

Quote
1 John 3:2-3
Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

See, were already born of God. We already have Christ in us. We growing more perfectly into His image, yes, but because we are laready His! We are NOW saved and because we are saved we purify ourselves, knowing that when he appears we will be just like Him.

In fact, even though we cooperate with God in this Christian life, it is still wholly of God that we are Christian (Philippians 2:13), both intially and continually (1 Corinthians 15:10a). Even the works we do emanate from Christ in us (Colossians 1:27), His Spirit through us, not from ourselves. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit except it abide in the vine (John 15:4-5)! He has begun the good work, and He will finish it (Philippians 1:6). We are already complete in Him (Colossians 2:10), even while we grow more fully into His perfection ourselves (see 1 John 3:2-3 above).

And if i say that I can prove that Protestants can fall away from Christ you will than tell me that they were false converts. Right? Than you will say that we believe the same thing, except in a reverse way. Than I will ask you why than if you believe the same things are you not Orthodox. I await your reply.
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« Reply #157 on: January 30, 2009, 09:42:50 PM »

And if i say that I can prove that Protestants can fall away from Christ you will than tell me that they were false converts. Right? Than you will say that we believe the same thing, except in a reverse way. Than I will ask you why than if you believe the same things are you not Orthodox. I await your reply.

No. I am an Arminian in soteriology, not a Calvinist. I believe a person can be geuninely converted, and yet fall away, make shipwreck, return to a sinful state, etc., etc., etc. And they can even finally apostasize. However, I am inclined to believe that many who profess to be Christians and later fall away were probably really false converts, if any semblance of a convert at all. But not because I have some notion of determinism as in the OSAS belief.
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« Reply #158 on: January 30, 2009, 10:04:07 PM »

You're dodging my question to you. If you believe the same thing why aren't you willing to become Orthodox?
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« Reply #159 on: January 30, 2009, 10:13:22 PM »

Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.
Wow. If you actually believe this, then you are not a Christian.

The term "sacrament" literally means "that which makes us holy."

I meant it in the more confined sense whereby various sacremental rituals themselves become necessarry in order to become justified with God.
Observance of Christian rites and practices (debates regaridng their proper reception, practice, or function aside) will follow, and willingness will spring from the heart, of those truly justified by faith in the Lord.

David Young has accurately understood and related my intention.

Sacrements (the ritualistic observances themselves, ie.e baptism, Lord's supper, etc.), as you call them, are to us only for the believer. Hence one must have already believed on the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins in order to partake in them. One must already be reconcilled to God through Christ. Else wise, though they may believe with the intellect, they are not indeed believers, their sins yet seperating between them and their God.

Might God use his power in creation to bring someone to believe? 
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« Reply #160 on: January 30, 2009, 10:13:43 PM »

It has been mentioned several times, I believe, by Cleopas and David Young that there is no emphasis on personal conversion in Orthodoxy.  I think this needs to be clarified.  There is NOTHING BUT an emphasis on personal conversion.  CONSTANT personal conversion.  

1st, in the sacramental sense.  When Baptizing/Chrismating adults, there MUST be formal personal conversion or the person will NOT be baptized/chrismated.  In the case of infants (and adults), the godparents MUST have already made this formal personal conversion.  In fact, the standards for godparents are even higher.  They must not only have made that personal conversion, but be in good standing with the Church (this means if they are married the marriage must have been performed by the Church, they must already be baptized/chrismated, recently confessed, etc.--- all of these are SIGNS of their personal conversion).  

2nd, in the sense of everyday spiritual life.  It is common for Orthodox to refer to their lives as a series of falls.  We spend our lives falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again.  It is in the getting up again that we constantly convert.  It is in that moment when we are tempted (someone cuts us off on the highway) that we must again convert and devote ourselves to Christ and act as He would (bless, not curse the person that cut us off).  If I fall (I cursed the person that cut me off out of anger), then I must again convert myself to Christ, confess and have my baptismal garments made white again, and the process begins again.  EVERY MOMENT of our lives is spent in personal conversion.  Yes, there is the initial conversion, which is necessary to be brought into the Church.  But from then on, the conversion continues constantly.

In Protestantism it is common, I believe, to re-baptize when one recommits their life to Christ after having fallen.  The idea being that the convert's initial baptism/conversion was not sincere.  Correct me if I'm wrong, here, please...

In Orthodoxy, rather than re-baptize, we confess, and our baptismal garments are clean.  The two are separated.  Why?  Because the baptism is something God does for us (yes, the personal conversion is necessary for the adult), and there is no way that we could ever say that His grace was somehow faulty and needed to be re-given.  In confession, however, we make our personal conversion once again.  To remove this from the picture and replace it with baptism, saying that the convert never really converted to begin with, is, in my opinion, to negate the giving of God's grace and to deny that we are human and are thus imperfect and constantly striving for perfection in Christ.

This post may have been more appropriate in the Believer's Baptism thread, but it is here that it was mentioned that there is no personal conversion in Orthodoxy.  I strenuously disagree with that.  The difference is that our personal conversion is not limited to a one time event.  It is something we do constantly instead.
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« Reply #161 on: January 30, 2009, 10:45:25 PM »

You're dodging my question to you. If you believe the same thing why aren't you willing to become Orthodox?
No, Demetrios, you loaded your question with too many presuppositions of your opponents' point of view.  Why don't you ask what they really believe so you can address their beliefs point by point?  Better yet, why don't you just read this thread?
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« Reply #162 on: January 30, 2009, 10:45:52 PM »


I meant it in the more confined sense whereby various sacremental rituals themselves become necessarry in order to become justified with God.
Observance of Christian rites and practices (debates regaridng their proper reception, practice, or function aside) will follow, and willingness will spring from the heart, of those truly justified by faith in the Lord.

David Young has accurately understood and related my intention.

Sacrements (the ritualistic observances themselves, ie.e baptism, Lord's supper, etc.), as you call them, are to us only for the believer. Hence one must have already believed on the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins in order to partake in them. One must already be reconcilled to God through Christ. Else wise, though they may believe with the intellect, they are not indeed believers, their sins yet seperating between them and their God.

I think, maybe, you misunderstand our usage of Sacraments and the "requirement" to participate in them.  As you said, Sacraments are ONLY for the believer (which is why, in Orthodoxy, the Eucharist is ONLY for the Orthodox).  So as you say, they must have already believed on the Lord to partake.  You say "for the forgiveness of their sins..." funny, these are the EXACT words that are associated with the Eucharist, a Sacrament.  That is EXACTLY what it and the other sacraments are for.  The Lord attached the exact words that you quoted to the Sacrament of the Eucharist!

My Spiritual Father has a great way of talking about the Sacraments.  They are tools in our tool box that help us in our journey to Salvation.  They are conduits of God's grace-- He makes His grace present in the sacraments and, through them, grants it to us, and unites us with Him (physically, in the case of the Eucharist).  Yes, they are a "sign" of one's faith, and, as you said, if one is a proper Christian, one will want to participate.  Without going into more detail here (we can discuss it more in another thread-- I believe there is one, if memory serves), suffice it to say they area FAR more than just a sign of one's faith.

As far as requirement, the ONLY Sacrament that we are required to participate in for Salvation is BAPTISM.  The Lord Himself told us that.  We believe and follow that quite seriously.  The rest are not necessarily required, but if one does NOT want to participate, then there is a serious problem.  The Eucharist is the most fundamental of the Sacraments in Orthodoxy, as it is the ONLY one where God makes Himself physically present and unites Himself with us.  As I told my Sunday Schoolers, if an Orthodox does not attend Divine Liturgy and thus does not partake of the Eucharist, one is clearly NOT Orthodox in the sense that you, Cleopas, would say one has clearly not made that personal conversion.  It is at that point when the non-attending/non-partaking Orthodox that I was addressing would re-make that personal conversion, go to confession, and then would receive the Eucharist.

I hope this clarifies things a bit, and does not confuse them.
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« Reply #163 on: January 30, 2009, 10:57:02 PM »

You're dodging my question to you. If you believe the same thing why aren't you willing to become Orthodox?
No, Demetrios, you loaded your question with too many presuppositions of your opponent's point of view.  Why don't you ask what they really believe so you can address their beliefs point by point?  Better yet, why don't you just read this thread?
It seems the thread is going no where. It's best to get to the heart of the discussion before all parties get tired of the same repetitive stuff.
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« Reply #164 on: January 30, 2009, 11:06:33 PM »


I do. Admittedly there was and is much about Orthodoxy not understood by myself. But I am not totally ignorant thereof. And the things that give me the greatest concerns about Catholicism are more or less evident in Orthodoxy as well (i.e. literal prescence, prayers for the dead, infant baptism and lack of emphaisi on personal conversion, prayers to saints, lack of singulrity of ultimate authority residing in Scripture, etc.)

Simply put, when I read the Bible, churches like mine are the closest thing to the NT record of church practice, structure, and belief of the three major branches.

I still don't understand how you can make this kind of statement without knowing Orthodoxy.  At the very least, it is an argument from silence, as just because (to your reading) those things are not explicitly mentioned in the NT does not mean that they were not believed and practiced by the NT Church.  Do you honestly believe that every single little detail is recorded in the Bible, and if it's not recorded, it didn't happen?  What of the words of John 21:25... "I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written?"

You have asked us to prove that those beliefs and practices WERE there, and indeed we have (you just have not accepted it), using both Biblical and historical sources.  But it is YOU that must prove that they are NOT there (historically, not Biblically-- we know your Biblical arguments) for this claim to be true.  The NT Church is not some figment of imagination, some ideal that someone came up with but never really existed.  It was a historical fact, an entity, an institution.  The book of Acts, for example, is just ONE record of the NT Church (set aside the authority of the Scripture for a moment, as that is not my point right now).  The HISTORICAL records of the NT Church are still here.  As Handmaiden mentioned at one point, the Church on the Street called Straight (found in Acts) STILL EXISTS!!!!  Much of the records are found in the writings of the saints.  You have chosen not to accept them.  Okay, but that doesn't make them wrong, untruthful, or false.  Just because you don't accept them doesn't meant that they were not believed.  You must find a way to HISTORICALLY prove that the NT Church did NOT believe in the real presence, infant baptism, the authority of tradition, prayers for the dead, prayers to the saints, etc. for your claims of being the closest thing to the NT Church to be true.  We know that you reject the theology behind all those beliefs/practices, this is not the question.  The question is, did the NT Church believe/practice these things?  We say yes and offer BOTH Biblical and Historical proof.  You offer Biblical proof being an argument from silence.  You must now offer historical proof for your claim to be true.  Am I making sense?

Good luck, friend, as this seems a daunting task to me, as we easily have 2000 years of writings, records, dogma, doctrine, etc. to draw on.  All of those things are categorically kept (so to speak), accessible, and it's fairly well known where one should look to find things (for instance, I knew to look to Ignatius immediately in the discussion of the Eucharist).  I know that you do not have these resources at your ready in the same way that we do.  So, as we would say in our tradition, KALI DYNAMI (good strength)!   angel
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« Reply #165 on: January 30, 2009, 11:08:33 PM »

You're dodging my question to you. If you believe the same thing why aren't you willing to become Orthodox?
No, Demetrios, you loaded your question with too many presuppositions of your opponent's point of view.  Why don't you ask what they really believe so you can address their beliefs point by point?  Better yet, why don't you just read this thread?
It seems the thread is going no where. It's best to get to the heart of the discussion before all parties get tired of the same repetitive stuff.

I think it only seems that way to you, friend, as I have now posted three separate, lengthy posts with "new" ideas that I hope will prompt more discussion.  Give them an opportunity to answer and I think you will see that there is still much to be said.  Nor do I see anyone getting tired.  Maybe we are not reading the same thread somehow?
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« Reply #166 on: January 30, 2009, 11:18:19 PM »

According to the Lutherans I've spoken with, the sacraments of baptism and the Eucharist are necessary for being a Christian.

I'm not sure I differ with the statement as given, that "sacrements" are necessary for BEING a Christian. Indeed faith without works is dead. Saving faith is a productive faith. Wink
However, what I am contending is not that such observances are german, indeed necessarry compeonents of the Christian life. Rather, that sacrements are necessarry for BECOMING a Christian. 

Being a Christian? in a manner of speaking, yes.
Becoming one? No.

Quote
Per them, Baptism is God's work by which a person (infant or adult) is given the Holy Spirit and faith.  Conversion is not about what we do, but what God does for us through Word and Sacrament.  I'll have to check up on it, but I do not think the Lutherans I know would separate faith from sacrament.  The Lutherans I've mostly spoken with are confessional (e.g. LCMS, WELS).  In any case, I imagine that those Lutherans affected by piestist spirituality see things differently.


Well, they would know better than I, so perhaps I have misspoken.

My intention was that Luther (and hence it would follow Lutherans) hold to Justification by faith alone in Christ alone. If some Lutherans do not then that is news to me.
It is indeed possible though.

Quote
My best friend in college was a fundamentalist/Baptist Christian, so to a certain degree I understand where you're coming from.

Glad to know it. Sometimes I feel like we are speaking different languages, despite the fact they both appear to be English. laugh The more of us that understand both "dialects" can help bridge the communication gap.  Smiley

Quote
I agree that the Church today should have real continuity with the Church of the New Testament.  What I question, however, is whether this ought to be a point-by-point conformity or a continuity that takes into consideration issues not clearly present in the early Church.  For example: church buildings.  There were no church buildings for the early Christians.  The early Christians continued to go to the synagogue, but to preach.  They assembled at the homes of fellow Christians.  Does this mean that Christians today who build and use church buildings are less in continuity with the early Christians than the home churching Christians (e.g. the Amish)?  I think that Orthodox and Anabaptist-variety Protestants in fact agree on many of the principles: e.g. giving your property to the church community, praying for one another, taking care of the elderly, the widowed, the poor and marginalized.  So, I'm not trying to create a wedge here.  I just see room for pastoral developments that may not be explicitly endorsed by the early Church, but which are nonetheless no less proper.


Then it seems we essentially agree. I guess it's like they say, "the devil is in the details."  Tongue Cheesy laugh


Considering that baptism accompanies Apostolic preaching and repentance, I don't see how it cannot be considered other than beginning the Christian life.  A person who comes to believe hastens to be baptized.  Becoming a Christian and receiving baptism are not two loosely associated events but are complementary.   

What I meant about some Lutherans thinking differently is not that they reject sola fide but that they venture away from other confessional standards.         
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« Reply #167 on: January 30, 2009, 11:25:00 PM »

I believe the more radical reformation branch (the anebaptists movement, etc.) of what is now typically categorized lump sum as "Protestant" probably is more closely aligned with and decended from NT distinctives. I suppose that is why there is such common agreement in beliefs among myself and David Young, more than say with a Presbyterian or an Anglican.

Btw, what is a "distinctive"?  And how are the Protestant "descended from the NT?"
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« Reply #168 on: January 30, 2009, 11:25:37 PM »

You're dodging my question to you. If you believe the same thing why aren't you willing to become Orthodox?
No, Demetrios, you loaded your question with too many presuppositions of your opponent's point of view.  Why don't you ask what they really believe so you can address their beliefs point by point?  Better yet, why don't you just read this thread?
It seems the thread is going no where. It's best to get to the heart of the discussion before all parties get tired of the same repetitive stuff.
Actually, this thread continues to be very productive, judging from the insightful dialogue between GreekChef, David Young, and Cleopas, who seem to have a much better grasp of the heart of the matter than you have shown thus far.
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« Reply #169 on: January 30, 2009, 11:34:39 PM »

The Serbians would say they are in the exact same Church as the Russians, Greeks, Romanian's and all the other Orthodox. We all share the exact same faith. You are confusing Church governance with denominationalism.

The Catholics are in a different category. They can also claim apostolic succesion and for a thousand years were part of the Ancient Church. They consider us in schism from them and we say the same about them. It's more in the nature of a family dispute.

Yes, I understand. I actually misspoke when I said Serbians. Perhaps it was Coptic?  Huh

At any rate, someone said something in one of these threads recently about someone quoting a father or leader in a group who was emphatically not a part of the Orthodox church. Whoever that was, it was to them I referred. Details and descriptives aside, my point was that you guys are not the only ones who claim, defend, and make good argument for being in fact the NT church.

I think you are refering to a quote from his holiness Pope Shenoudah, the Coptic Pope of Alexandria.  The issue there, however is that the Copts and many of us EO argue that we are one Church, the NT Church.  The Copts, for instance would without question rebaptize you, but they won't rebaptize an EO.
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« Reply #170 on: January 30, 2009, 11:37:48 PM »

It has been mentioned several times, I believe, by Cleopas and David Young that there is no emphasis on personal conversion in Orthodoxy.  I think this needs to be clarified.  There is NOTHING BUT an emphasis on personal conversion.  CONSTANT personal conversion.  

1st, in the sacramental sense.  When Baptizing/Chrismating adults, there MUST be formal personal conversion or the person will NOT be baptized/chrismated.  In the case of infants (and adults), the godparents MUST have already made this formal personal conversion.  In fact, the standards for godparents are even higher.  They must not only have made that personal conversion, but be in good standing with the Church (this means if they are married the marriage must have been performed by the Church, they must already be baptized/chrismated, recently confessed, etc.--- all of these are SIGNS of their personal conversion).  

2nd, in the sense of everyday spiritual life.  It is common for Orthodox to refer to their lives as a series of falls.  We spend our lives falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again.  It is in the getting up again that we constantly convert.  It is in that moment when we are tempted (someone cuts us off on the highway) that we must again convert and devote ourselves to Christ and act as He would (bless, not curse the person that cut us off).  If I fall (I cursed the person that cut me off out of anger), then I must again convert myself to Christ, confess and have my baptismal garments made white again, and the process begins again.  EVERY MOMENT of our lives is spent in personal conversion.  Yes, there is the initial conversion, which is necessary to be brought into the Church.  But from then on, the conversion continues constantly.

In Protestantism it is common, I believe, to re-baptize when one recommits their life to Christ after having fallen.  The idea being that the convert's initial baptism/conversion was not sincere.  Correct me if I'm wrong, here, please...

In Orthodoxy, rather than re-baptize, we confess, and our baptismal garments are clean.  The two are separated.  Why?  Because the baptism is something God does for us (yes, the personal conversion is necessary for the adult), and there is no way that we could ever say that His grace was somehow faulty and needed to be re-given.  In confession, however, we make our personal conversion once again.  To remove this from the picture and replace it with baptism, saying that the convert never really converted to begin with, is, in my opinion, to negate the giving of God's grace and to deny that we are human and are thus imperfect and constantly striving for perfection in Christ.

This post may have been more appropriate in the Believer's Baptism thread, but it is here that it was mentioned that there is no personal conversion in Orthodoxy.  I strenuously disagree with that.  The difference is that our personal conversion is not limited to a one time event.  It is something we do constantly instead.

To underline that, that is why the priest says at communion "the servant/handmaiden of God X partakes...."  not just a blanket statement "the Body of Christ."


I meant it in the more confined sense whereby various sacremental rituals themselves become necessarry in order to become justified with God.
Observance of Christian rites and practices (debates regaridng their proper reception, practice, or function aside) will follow, and willingness will spring from the heart, of those truly justified by faith in the Lord.

David Young has accurately understood and related my intention.

Sacrements (the ritualistic observances themselves, ie.e baptism, Lord's supper, etc.), as you call them, are to us only for the believer. Hence one must have already believed on the Lord for the forgiveness of their sins in order to partake in them. One must already be reconcilled to God through Christ. Else wise, though they may believe with the intellect, they are not indeed believers, their sins yet seperating between them and their God.

I think, maybe, you misunderstand our usage of Sacraments and the "requirement" to participate in them.  As you said, Sacraments are ONLY for the believer (which is why, in Orthodoxy, the Eucharist is ONLY for the Orthodox).  So as you say, they must have already believed on the Lord to partake.  You say "for the forgiveness of their sins..." funny, these are the EXACT words that are associated with the Eucharist, a Sacrament.  That is EXACTLY what it and the other sacraments are for.  The Lord attached the exact words that you quoted to the Sacrament of the Eucharist!

My Spiritual Father has a great way of talking about the Sacraments.  They are tools in our tool box that help us in our journey to Salvation.  They are conduits of God's grace-- He makes His grace present in the sacraments and, through them, grants it to us, and unites us with Him (physically, in the case of the Eucharist).  Yes, they are a "sign" of one's faith, and, as you said, if one is a proper Christian, one will want to participate.  Without going into more detail here (we can discuss it more in another thread-- I believe there is one, if memory serves), suffice it to say they area FAR more than just a sign of one's faith.

As far as requirement, the ONLY Sacrament that we are required to participate in for Salvation is BAPTISM.  The Lord Himself told us that.  We believe and follow that quite seriously.  The rest are not necessarily required, but if one does NOT want to participate, then there is a serious problem.  The Eucharist is the most fundamental of the Sacraments in Orthodoxy, as it is the ONLY one where God makes Himself physically present and unites Himself with us.  As I told my Sunday Schoolers, if an Orthodox does not attend Divine Liturgy and thus does not partake of the Eucharist, one is clearly NOT Orthodox in the sense that you, Cleopas, would say one has clearly not made that personal conversion.  It is at that point when the non-attending/non-partaking Orthodox that I was addressing would re-make that personal conversion, go to confession, and then would receive the Eucharist.

I hope this clarifies things a bit, and does not confuse them.

Hence the canon of automatic excommunication after missing Eucharist for three successive Sundays without reasonable cause worthy of praise.
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« Reply #171 on: January 31, 2009, 12:25:02 AM »

If I could just weigh in here a second with a bit of history. There is a lot of conversation on this thread about the continuity of the Church, and proof that the church of the NT still exists today. I'd like to offer the below bit account as proof.

The Orthodox Church and her Liturgies for the most part were developed in Greece. Yes there were other Fathers in other places, but a good "chunk" of Orthodox history lies in Greece and in parts of modern day Turkey.

When looking at Orthodox History, one looks to the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople and the writings of St. John Chrysostom for an example of the "glory days" of Orthodoxy.

In 988 AD Prince Vladimir of Kiev (Ukraine and Russia were one country at the time) sent diplomats to all corners of the world in search of the "truth." After experiencing the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chysostom at the Hagia Sophia, the diplomats wrote to Prince Vladimir that they did not know if they were in heaven or on earth during the Liturgy. As a result of this experience, the Rus lands were baptized and became Christian.

So nine hundred fifty five years after Christ ascended into heaven, the people of Russia are given the faith of the Apostles by those in Greece who had been preserving it for all these years.

Fast forward a bunch of years... we have the occupation of the Turks in Greece, the Ottoman Empire, and Communism in Russia. All these things that seperate the Slavic people from "the mother Church" in Constantinople and the other Patriarchs, yet the faith is preserved.

Fast foward to today. I was raised in a Ukrainian Orthodox Church in New Jersey. (For those scratching their heads about my prior references to time in the Baptist Church, I was dually raised in both.) The Liturgy that I grew up with is the same Liturgy that was given to the Slavic people in 988 AD.

I move down to Atlanta end of 2007 from New Jersey. I start attending a Greek Orthodox Church. Even though I had never attended a Greek Orthodox Church before in my life, don't speak a stitch of Greek, I was able to follow the Liturgy, participate in the sacraments, and know that I am a part of the exact same faith that was given to my ancestors in 998 AD by ancestors of those who were preached to by the Apostles in the first century, and that 2000 years later and thousands of miles away from their point of birth is still exactly the same.

So despite seperation, years of war, occupation, diaspora, immigration, and transalation, the faith is the same. The beliefs are the same. The truth is the same.

David Young commented earlier about how American Baptist theology is different than English Baptist theology. How is it that two groups that ascribe to the same denomination and speak the same language have vast differences in theology, yet Orthodoxy, with all the obstacles listed above has remained steadfast and true? It is because of the authority of the Church has preserved the Orthodox faith for over 2000 years. No other Church can claim that. That is how we know it is true. God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; so is His Church.
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« Reply #172 on: January 31, 2009, 01:26:05 AM »


Sacrements are not needed to become justified with God.



Really?  Sacraments are NOT needed? 

Cleopas wrote that sacraments are not needed in order to become justified before God. They were instituted by our Lord, are his commands, and are means of grace. They strengthen the believer. When done in faith they are steps in his experience of God, his growth in grace, his hold on God by faith. But justification comes before them; it is the beginning, and is effected by grace through faith. For that, a sacrament is not the means.

The sacraments are not needed to justified before God?
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved" Mark 16:16
"This prefigured baptism, which saves you now" 1 Peter 3:21
"Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.
54
Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.
55
For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.
56
Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
57
Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me." John 3:53 - 57

I think its quite clear that we need the sacraments to be justified before God. I never understood the "sola fide" thing becuase the bible mentions so many other things being involved in our salvation besides faith: grace, works, theosis, the sacraments, mercy, repentance, etc. etc. etc. 

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« Reply #173 on: January 31, 2009, 03:29:15 AM »

Does such a thing exist in the first place?

This is easy:

"I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church."

The belief in one true church is mandated by the universal creed of all Christians.  After that, it's simply an issue deciding which church that is.  It is either the Roman Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, or the Assyrian Church of the East.  I think that covers all of the surviving apostolic communions; correct me if I am wrong.
Here is a question for the members of the one, true  Church:
After we die, we will be judged by Our Lord. But will He ask a Roman Catholic: Why did you not join the one, True, Orthodox Church? Or will it be instead as we read in Matthew 25:
"31 And when the Son of man shall come in his majesty, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit upon the seat of his majesty. 32 And all nations shall be gathered together before him, and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. 34 Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:
36 Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me. 37 Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee? 39 Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee? 40 And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.
41 Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me. 44 Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee? 45 Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.
46 And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting."
I don't see here any mention of being judged on the basis of being a member of the one, true, Church? Maybe it is somewhere else in the Bible?
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« Reply #174 on: January 31, 2009, 03:49:48 AM »

I don't see here any mention of being judged on the basis of being a member of the one, true, Church? Maybe it is somewhere else in the Bible?

It's right next to the verse that says you have to acknowledge the Bishop of Rome as the Supreme and Infallible Vicar of Christ.
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« Reply #175 on: January 31, 2009, 04:18:24 AM »

I don't see here any mention of being judged on the basis of being a member of the one, true, Church? Maybe it is somewhere else in the Bible?

It's right next to the verse that says you have to acknowledge the Bishop of Rome as the Supreme and Infallible Vicar of Christ.
Of course, R. Catholics interpret the verse "Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church.." as giving Peter and his successors a certain authority in the Church.
But, when we are judged, won't it be a question of the serious observation of the Ten Commandments, our commitment to the words and precepts of Christ, such as for example, the Beatitudes and what we read in Matthew 25, and our obedience to the disciplines of our Church? Have we made good and virtuous use of the time which the Lord has given to us? And when we have fallen, did we sincerely repent and make a serious effort to avoid these mistakes in the future? I mean, does anyone really think that a Roman Catholic would be asked why he did not join the one, true Orthodox Church?
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« Reply #176 on: January 31, 2009, 04:31:02 AM »

I mean, does anyone really think that a Roman Catholic would be asked why he did not join the one, true Orthodox Church?

Well, when you put it that way it does sound pretty ridiculous.  But I guess the idea of the God of the Universe asking me questions in general seems a bit ridiculous, so whatever!
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« Reply #177 on: January 31, 2009, 07:37:34 AM »

When we are baptized, we become more like Christ, ... When we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Christ, we become more like Christ, because we remember Christ and become more dependent on Him for our sustenance. When we confess our sins and repent of them, we become more like Christ, who is without sin. ... No one can be justified without confession, repentance, and forgiveness. All sacraments are manifestations of these essential elements of Christianity.

Amen to all of that (except we see the eating and drinking as a spiritual feeding in the sacrament, not literal). But justification happens when God declares a man pardoned. Both are part of true Christianity - justification and sacraments. But justification comes before the sacraments: justification is a declaration which God makes concerning a man. It doesn't change his nature, it changes his status before God.

But once a person is justified, the life-long process of sanctification, growth in Christlikeness, theosis if you wish, begins in all those who are justified. The sacraments are part of this, as you rightly observe.
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« Reply #178 on: January 31, 2009, 07:42:55 AM »

Your theology basically leaves god as a judge and requires man to just acknowledge him in faith.

Not so! That is a heresy known as Sandemanianism.

Quote
Only when our image has become like his image salvation has become manifest. 

As explained before, this is only a different use of words. Change "manifest" for "complete" or "perfected" and we agree.
 
Quote
When you tell us such things like you are justified at the moment of faith... that isn't salvation for us.

Nor for us, but it is the beginning of salvation, and we often use the word 'saved' to denote this first event. It doesn't mean we do not look for sanctification and glorification to follow.
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« Reply #179 on: January 31, 2009, 07:51:40 AM »

It is common for Orthodox to refer to their lives as a series of falls.  We spend our lives falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again, falling and getting up again.  It is in the getting up again that we constantly convert.  

This is true of us all, of course. Only we use the word 'repent' rather than 'convert'. We tend to use 'conversion' only of the initial turning to Christ. That done, as Charles Wesley has it, we "grieve him by a thousand falls" and need to turn back in sorrow, repentance and cleansing.

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In Protestantism it is common, I believe, to re-baptize when one recommits their life to Christ after having fallen.  The idea being that the convert's initial baptism/conversion was not sincere.  

I have never heard or read of such a practice in any denomination, as far as I can recall.

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To remove this from the picture and replace it with baptism, saying that the convert never really converted to begin with, is, in my opinion, to negate the giving of God's grace

Absolutely! Amen to that in a most hearty manner! I would be happy to preach that very thing and to quote your very words.
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
Tags: ecclesiology baptism 
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