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HandmaidenofGod
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O Holy St. Demetrius pray to God for us!


« Reply #270 on: February 03, 2009, 12:01:34 AM »

1) The idea of creeping corruption in the church, especially from the time of Constantine, is so pervasive in the way church history is viewed that it is quite hard to single out just one or two sources as seminal. It's what everyone thinks - well, on our side of the fence, anyway.

You haven't stated what "corruption" this is.

2) One tends to read about individual doctrines and practices and to trace them over the centuries, not only about a general overview of church history: so one will read about the cult of Mary

The "cult" of Mary is not accepted by neither the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Churches. We honor and venerate Mary, we do not worship her. This honoring of Mary comes from Luke 1:48: "For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed."

the development of prayers to the saints
We believe the soul lives on forever. Why do you NOT have a problem asking me to pray for you, but you have a problem asking those who have already finished the race to pray for you? We don't pray to the saints as a deity; we as them to pray for us as any brother would pray for another brother. As these are our brothers and sisters in Christ who have finished the race, why wouldn't they pray for us?

of prayers for the dead
I humbly submit the following article in response: http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html

of the wearing of vestments
The priests in the Old Testament wore vestments. Vestments God specified on how to make. Why wouldn't our priests wear vestments? Exodus 28 describes what they should wear and how to wear it.

of the idea of a priesthood
This came from the Old Testament and is described in the New in the book of Acts. As a matter of fact, in tonight's Bible Study, we read about the first ecumenical council which took place in Jeruselum. We read about how after Peter spoke, James who was BISHOP of Jeruselum spoke. It's all there in Acts 14 & 15. (Although by Father's account Acts 13 is much more exciting.)

monarchical bishops
Please see the book of Acts.

of Purgatory
This is a Roman Catholic belief, not an Orthodox one. Furthermore, it was doctrine that was developed long after the schism of 1054.

seven sacraments
Another Roman Catholic belief. The Orthodox Church does not limit the number of ways God bestows His grace upon us.

penance
Another Roman Catholic doctrine developed post schism.


I begin to wonder whether our discussion is not really about whether these things happened, but whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

I think we will have a better discussion when you get your facts straight as to what Orthodox beliefs are.
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« Reply #271 on: February 03, 2009, 12:45:40 AM »

Quote
Acts 2:17
" 'In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

As you can see. The HS is poured out to all members of the church. Your claim that only those people with the holy spirit will only be saved is false. Every member receives the holy spirit. The Orthodox church is none other than the persona of Christ. Christ is the very "I" in the church. It is Christs body that binds us. The one true church. It is the persona of Christ that the church passes on to it's members.
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« Reply #272 on: February 03, 2009, 01:02:09 AM »

what is the denomination that you would claim is the oldest among the Protestants?

I've never really thought about it. I assume you mean the oldest still in continuous existence, so I'd guess that it would turn out to be the Waldenses. On the other hand, the Moravians go back to John Hus. I don't really know. You lay more stress upon age than we do.

There's a reason for that. Roll Eyes

So the Church against which Christ said the gates of hell would not prevail fell in less than a generation from when He said "Lo I am with you always (lit. all the days) even until the end of the age."

As I put on another post, gates do two things: they keep people in, and they keep people out. The gates of hell cannot prevail to keep the church out when it rescues Satan's captives, nor can it keep those captives in when they respond to the Gospel.

If the Church couldn't keep Satan out even one generation past the Apostles nor keep the Apostolic teaching in past the Apostles, hell then prevailed.

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So He lied.

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God is not a man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent.

Exactly.

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it does point in the direction of sola scriptura ...

Then why didn't the Apostles do that?

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I take the recognition and formalising of the canon of scripture to be part of the Holy Spirit leading the church into all truth.

That's nice, but what has that to do with the fact that the book of Acts doesn't record the Apostles as followers of sola scriptura, and the scriptura written before Acts, i.e. Thessalonians, talks against sola scriptura?

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the time of Constantine the Great is considered to be when the landslide really accelerated...

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Because of the Nicene Creed?

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No: we all accept that.

The JW don't.  Nor the Mormons.

The Nicene Creed was the only "change" of substance in the Church.  Bishops, liturgy, Tradition, icons, intercession of saints, saints, relics, etc. all far predate St. Constantine.

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Sorry Dan Brown,
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Not known at this address.

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Christ was always God

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Amen.
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« Reply #273 on: February 03, 2009, 01:35:12 AM »

AGAIN I WILL ASK YOU KINDLY, WHERE ARE YOU GETTING THIS?  CAN YOU PLEASE CITE A SOURCE.  

I realise this is really Cleopas' question, but I would just say that two works perhaps regarded as standard for what one might call an Evangelical church history are:

- "The Pilgrim Church" E. H. Broadbent (London & Glasgow, 1931)
- "Early Church History" and "Witnesses for Christ" (i.e. two volumes) E. Backhouse & C. Tyler (London 1894, 1906)

I have given the dates of my copies, but I wouldn't be surprised if there have been more recent editions or re-printings.

In addition, I think two factors are relevant:

1) The idea of creeping corruption in the church, especially from the time of Constantine, is so pervasive in the way church history is viewed that it is quite hard to single out just one or two sources as seminal. It's what everyone thinks - well, on our side of the fence, anyway.

Not everyone.

Of course, many, like my parish's origins, then jump the fence to our side.

I've seen, however, a trend developing among those who don't want to jump the fence, to avoid the question of when the Church "fell," and down play the idea of dogmatic continuity.  The Apostles, however, said "hold fast to the Tradition."

Quote
2) One tends to read about individual doctrines and practices and to trace them over the centuries, not only about a general overview of church history: so one will read about the cult of Mary;

Already St. Ignatius (c. 105) writes of Mary's Virginity being a mystery announced by heaven.

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the development of prayers to the saints; of prayers for the dead;

already found in the Martyrdom of St. Polycarp (c. 150).

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of the wearing of vestments;

Already mentioned by Polycrates of Ephesus (c. 180).  How specific was St. Clement (c. 95) on this?

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of the idea of a priesthood; or monarchical bishops;

Amply demonstrated by SS Clement (c. 95) and Ignatius (c. 105).

 
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of Purgatory;

You have to talk to the Vatican on this one.

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or seven sacraments;

All attested in the Second Century.

Of course, I am purposely not mentioning the references in Scripture to all of the above.

Quote
of penance; and so on and so on. In this way, an overall picture is formed of post-apostolic and mediæval developments in the church, many of which were what we see as spoiling the simplicity of the primitive church.

Which evidently didn't outlive the Apostles, if then.


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I begin to wonder whether our discussion is not really about whether these things happened, but whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

BINGO!

The Prostestants of the radical reformation had chosen the "bad" position.

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I get an idea that your (GreekChef's) comment is rather un-Orthodox, and not surprisingly I rather agree with her! Like you, I prefer church history written from a non-partisan standpoint, by academic scholars. They should have no axe to grind, and they leave me to form my own opinion regarding the things they set before me. That is not to say that I don't also read partisan accounts, for I have just listed two, and you know I have Stylianopoulos on Tradition; I also have, and have read, Kallistos Ware's "The Orthodox Church". Such books set two opinions before me; but the academic books written by university scholars should give me an unbiassed narration. I say your comment seems a little un-Orthodox, because (if I understand it aright - do correct me if not) Orthodox theology has traditionally not been done in secular university settings, whereas in Protestant nations this is quite normal.

Define secular.  It might be hard to remember, but even that bastion of secularism, Harvard, was founded as a seminary, to train Puritan ministers.

And it's not knew in Orthodoxy, e.g. St. Justin Martyr and the Cappadocian Fathers received a secular phiosophical education, which they put to the Church's use.
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« Reply #274 on: February 03, 2009, 02:23:13 AM »

So much for an attempt at objective historical analysis....

"Imagination plays too important a role in the writing of history, and what is imagination but the projection of the author's personality." - Pieter Geyl

Exactly.  Anyone with any training in basic historiography knows that "objective" scholarship is illusory at best.  I have a B.A. in History, and I can attest to the fact that everything about a historian's personal views shape his history.

But, for us, these events MUST be understood through the filter of what is to us orthodox belief, namely here the seperation [sic] of church and state. I understand you will dismiss it as "propaganda." But that does not make it any less right or (for the sake of civility and hospitality) wrong...

Other than that, I think it is a fundamental difference of understanding regarding the nature of the church and it's [sic] polity between us who hold to seperation [sic] of church and state versus those who do not.

It should be quite apparent to you, Cleopas, that your gospel reflects 'Enlightenment' ideals, not the paradigms that would have existed in the Ancient Near-Eastern Mediterranean two millennia ago.  Ironically, this perspective was vehemently opposed by the majority of the colonists here in the United States when it was enacted.  All most all of the protestant groups were petitioning the government to have their own sect be the dominant force in the New World.  Those who spoke of a wall of separation were men like Jefferson; deists who enjoyed mocking men like you in their free time.

Christianity is not about the separation of church and state.  The United States of America is about that separation.  Your reconstruction of Christian history is a joke, and you are wrong.  You have bought into an interpretation of the faith that aligns with your own cultural perspectives.  Your version of Christianity is tailored to reflect your own socio-political persuasion.

For as much as you criticize our faith for being the lackey bitch of imperials, your faith certainly is promoting the agenda of today's American Empire.  The only difference is that we Orthodox are not making things up as we go; desperately squinting into a telescope trying to reconstruct the past.  We are the past, present, and future of Christianity.  We are the Body of Christ; His Militant Bride.  Empires rise and fall, but we will remain!

Spend several years studying higher biblical criticism, and you will see what the end of the Protestant paradigm is.  It is misery and despair.  It is you and your own mind.  It is a God fashioned in your own image.  And once you realize that, then all the rest will fall into place.  The synchronization of the 'World Religions', the cosmic ascent of the new morality, and the collapse of Truth itself.  If you look deep enough into the Protestant pond, there is nothing but your own reflection staring back at you.  Come into the Church of Christ, Cleopas!  When you gaze into the heavens, you will see the whole of the Church Triumphant smiling back at you!
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« Reply #275 on: February 03, 2009, 06:33:14 AM »

I think we will have a better discussion when you get your facts straight as to what Orthodox beliefs are.

I was aware that some of the things I listed, from what could have been a longer list, were RC rather than Orthodox. I was only answering the more general question about creeping changes in Christianity which we see as unwholesome.
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« Reply #276 on: February 03, 2009, 06:40:10 AM »

Quote
I begin to wonder whether our discussion is not really about whether these things happened, but whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

BINGO!

It seems then that we are in agreement that the things happened - some within Orthodoxy, others (pace Handmaiden) in later Catholicism - and that the question is really, Were they good, bad, or indifferent?

To answer that, I gently and humbly submit that we should turn to the threads on them: but gainsay that if you think it is a mistake, and that discussion of them should continue here.
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« Reply #277 on: February 03, 2009, 07:27:46 AM »

Quote
I begin to wonder whether our discussion is not really about whether these things happened, but whether they are good, bad or indifferent.

BINGO!

It seems then that we are in agreement that the things happened - some within Orthodoxy, others (pace Handmaiden) in later Catholicism - and that the question is really, Were they good, bad, or indifferent?

That is, however, intertwined with the question when they happened.  I set aside the argument of scripture and the first century only for the sake of argument.  Now you, for the sake of argument, admit the descriptions in scripture of the things you list.

Quote
To answer that, I gently and humbly submit that we should turn to the threads on them: but gainsay that if you think it is a mistake, and that discussion of them should continue here.

Of course they can continue here, as the question of good, bad and indifferent is viewed differently.  We see that such changes that are good are not changes, because they are what the Apostles taught.  The bad and indifferent likewise occured during the Apostles watch, but did not last, but they have been resurrected by those who will not learn by others mistakes.  You keep looking for some break with the Church of the Apostles at some time in history: we are telling you, no such break occured.  The fault lines are in the breaks of schism and heresy, which start with Judas.
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« Reply #278 on: February 03, 2009, 08:08:29 AM »

Now you, for the sake of argument, admit the descriptions in scripture of the things you list.

I shall try; perhaps Cleopas will do the same. It will take some time, as we have listed rather a lot, and even they are only the ones which immediately sprang to mind.

Apart from anything else, we have had the worst snowfall for 18 years, and it is rather tempting to sit by the fire of an evening and enjoy its warmth and lambent flames, rather than in the computer room.  Smiley
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« Reply #279 on: February 03, 2009, 02:43:07 PM »

St. Ignatius (c. 105) writes of Mary's Virginity being a mystery announced by heaven.

I shan't write about this one, as I have written at length on the Perpetual Virginity thread and cannot think of anything more to say, except this: that the Protoevangelium of James, which seems to be the earliest attestation of the belief, strikes me as having the character of legend. I think especially of the dove emerging from Joseph's rod.

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the development of prayers to the saints

We see this as deterioration in the church, because to us it seems like lowering the worth of our blood-bought access direct to the throne of God, in the name of Jesus himself.

Quote
of prayers for the dead;

We see this as having no purpose. If the dead were saved when they died, they are in Paradise, and do not need further prayer; if they had rejected the Gospel, they are lost, and that cannot be amended or reversed after death.

Quote
of the wearing of vestments;

We do not read of this in the NT, and see it as either an importation from the pagan priesthoods, after the work of Constantine made it desirable for multitudes of unconverted people to gain formal membership of the church. We believe they brought some of their pagan practices with them. Personally I see this practice as indifferent rather than positively harmful. I have worn my black MA gown and white hood when conducting funerals, to add gravitas for the mourners, or when preaching in Anglican churches. Or we see it as a reversion to the Old Testament (see next quote).

Quote
of the idea of a priesthood;

We believe there is no priesthood now; it ended with the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit. Christ alone is now our Priest. Again, it was either a reversion to the OT, or an importation from paganism.

Quote
or monarchical bishops;

We believe that NT churches had a plurality of elders, and that the word for elder and bishop is the same or interchangeable. A bishop is an elder.

Quote
or seven sacraments;

I confess I have forgotten what all seven are - you might wish to remind me; but we read the NT as showing our Lord instituting only baptism and the Lord's Supper. Some do not even use the word 'sacrament' for them, but prefer 'ordinance'. I used to hold a Zwinglian position on these two; I have moved in a sacramental direction. Both views are represented widely in Protestantism.

Quote
of penance

I'd need to read up on this. To some extent it was promoted via Jerome's Latin translation of the NT, I believe. However it arose, we do not see it as a sacrament prescribed in scripture, though I do not say that the concept of some self-discipline imposed to help overcome sin is never helpful. But it cannot contribute to our forgiveness, for that was fully purchased at the immeasurable cost of Christ's blood. Penance, if seen as contributing to our pardon, demeans the value of the Blood.

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an overall picture is formed of post-apostolic and mediæval developments in the church, many of which were what we see as spoiling the simplicity of the primitive church

Which evidently didn't outlive the Apostles

Quite!

Quote
Define secular. 

having no religious or spiritual basis.

Whew! I got there: but much more could - and perhaps will - be written.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 02:45:54 PM by David Young » Logged

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« Reply #280 on: February 03, 2009, 04:45:49 PM »

St. Ignatius (c. 105) writes of Mary's Virginity being a mystery announced by heaven.

I shan't write about this one, as I have written at length on the Perpetual Virginity thread and cannot think of anything more to say, except this: that the Protoevangelium of James, which seems to be the earliest attestation of the belief, strikes me as having the character of legend. I think especially of the dove emerging from Joseph's rod.

Quote
the development of prayers to the saints

We see this as deterioration in the church, because to us it seems like lowering the worth of our blood-bought access direct to the throne of God, in the name of Jesus himself.

Quote
of prayers for the dead;

We see this as having no purpose. If the dead were saved when they died, they are in Paradise, and do not need further prayer; if they had rejected the Gospel, they are lost, and that cannot be amended or reversed after death.

Quote
of the wearing of vestments;

We do not read of this in the NT, and see it as either an importation from the pagan priesthoods, after the work of Constantine made it desirable for multitudes of unconverted people to gain formal membership of the church. We believe they brought some of their pagan practices with them. Personally I see this practice as indifferent rather than positively harmful. I have worn my black MA gown and white hood when conducting funerals, to add gravitas for the mourners, or when preaching in Anglican churches. Or we see it as a reversion to the Old Testament (see next quote).

Quote
of the idea of a priesthood;

We believe there is no priesthood now; it ended with the resurrection of Christ and the outpouring of the Spirit. Christ alone is now our Priest. Again, it was either a reversion to the OT, or an importation from paganism.

Quote
or monarchical bishops;

We believe that NT churches had a plurality of elders, and that the word for elder and bishop is the same or interchangeable. A bishop is an elder.

Quote
or seven sacraments;

I confess I have forgotten what all seven are - you might wish to remind me; but we read the NT as showing our Lord instituting only baptism and the Lord's Supper. Some do not even use the word 'sacrament' for them, but prefer 'ordinance'. I used to hold a Zwinglian position on these two; I have moved in a sacramental direction. Both views are represented widely in Protestantism.

Quote
of penance

I'd need to read up on this. To some extent it was promoted via Jerome's Latin translation of the NT, I believe. However it arose, we do not see it as a sacrament prescribed in scripture, though I do not say that the concept of some self-discipline imposed to help overcome sin is never helpful. But it cannot contribute to our forgiveness, for that was fully purchased at the immeasurable cost of Christ's blood. Penance, if seen as contributing to our pardon, demeans the value of the Blood.

Quote
an overall picture is formed of post-apostolic and mediæval developments in the church, many of which were what we see as spoiling the simplicity of the primitive church

Which evidently didn't outlive the Apostles

Quite!

Quote
Define secular. 

having no religious or spiritual basis.

Whew! I got there: but much more could - and perhaps will - be written.


Yes, I am aware how you see it.  And, as the quotes of those to whom the Apostles wrote the NT show, I know how the Apostles and their disciples and successors saw it.

Just to briefly touch, for example, on a common thread: you see the priesthood and vestments as a through back to paganism or the OT.  The problem, as we indicated, is that such things predate Constantine by centuries.   In fact, how do you explain the Epistle to the Hebrews?  St. Clement likewise, indicates that before the Apostles departed, that they taught of Christian priesthood, and in unequivocal terms.  You put yourself in the position of claiming to know better the NT than the people to whom the Apostles wrote it (and since the people preserving Clement were the same preserving the NT, we know that they were the same).  We're going to have to see some proof of such a claim.  We have plenty:

I Timothy 4:14 "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the eldership" (i.e. the bishops, as Acts 20:17, 28 clarifies). No mention of the congregation. (Mark 3:13-4 ) "And He went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach. (John 15:16) "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you may bear fruit" [btw. St. Clement, writing around the same time, calls the early bishops the first fruits of the Apostles]. (Luke 10:16) "The one who listens to you listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me." (Mark 4:11) And He was saying to them, "To you has been given the mystery of the kingdom of God, but those who are outside get everything in parables." (Hebrews 5:4, 7:7) "And no one takes the honor to himself, but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was [Consult Numbers 12 for the consequences]...And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better"


Acts and the Epistles describe One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  It condemns division and heresy.  The Church you condemn for "detrioration" is the only one that fits the description of the Church in the NT, and those "detriorations" are present from the beginning.  If this other Ur-Protestant church existed (besides John 6:66), we have no description of it.  At least not in our scriptures that you call "Scripture" as in Sola S-"
« Last Edit: February 03, 2009, 04:55:49 PM by ialmisry » Logged

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« Reply #281 on: February 03, 2009, 05:06:26 PM »

such things predate Constantine by centuries.   

I didn't realise that was the point you were making. Sorry. I only said that, among Protestants, the time of Constantine is seen as the time when things really accelerated, shifted into a new gear if you like. I didn't mean that there was no change prior to that - change that we see as deterioration.

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how do you explain the Epistle to the Hebrews? 

Sorry again. I don't grasp what you are asking. What do you mean by 'explain'?

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St. Clement likewise, indicates that before the Apostles departed, that they taught of Christian priesthood, and in unequivocal terms. 

Which Clement? I have the Corinthian epistle of Clement of Rome. Can you point me to the passage you have in mind? Then I'll look it up.

I get the feeling that however long we extend this conversation - and even if it could be more leisurely and lively by being face to face - we'd never reach agreement, because we are moving in opposite directions. You see the developments (which we all agree happened) as the unfolding of the fulness of faith, the establishing of Holy Tradition, and you see this all leading you forward towards the fully developed church, against which Hell's gates cannot prevail and which has been led into all truth by the ongoing working of the Spirit of God. On the other hand, we see the simplicity of the New Testament as normative and desirable, as the pattern God established and would have us reproduce today. So whereas you start at the beginning and move forward, we start at the end and (at least aim to) move backward

Does that make sense? It may not be a very good metaphor, but I cannot off-hand think of a better. The trouble is, in moving in opposite directions from each other, we never actually meet, not even in the time of Ignatius of Antioch of blessed memory. Perhaps we pause for a fleeting moment of mutual recognition in the time of the pastoral epistles.


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« Reply #282 on: February 03, 2009, 05:24:03 PM »

such things predate Constantine by centuries.   

I didn't realise that was the point you were making. Sorry. I only said that, among Protestants, the time of Constantine is seen as the time when things really accelerated, shifted into a new gear if you like. I didn't mean that there was no change prior to that - change that we see as deterioration.

My point is, we can document that from the Apostles to Constantine the change you speak of didn't happen: these things were always there.


Quote
St. Clement likewise, indicates that before the Apostles departed, that they taught of Christian priesthood, and in unequivocal terms. 

Which Clement? I have the Corinthian epistle of Clement of Rome. Can you point me to the passage you have in mind? Then I'll look it up.[/quote]

This for starters:
Christ is the apostle sent by the Father, the disciples are the apostles sent by Christ, the bishops are the apostles sent by the disciples.  I don't think it has ever been put better than by St. Clement: “This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood” (St. Iranaeus, “The Apostolic Tradition”).
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.iv.html

"There is extant also another epistle written by Dionysius to the Romans, and addressed to Soter, who was bishop at that time. We cannot do better than to subjoin some passages from this epistle…In this same epistle he makes mention also of Clement's epistle to the Corinthians, showing that it had been the custom from the beginning to read it in the church....' Dionysius of Corinth, To Pope Soter" (A.D. 171).

St. Clement knew the Apostles, was appointed and ordained by them personally, and whose letter was read like Scripture for many centuries, yet did he ever claim the title "Apostle?"  In I Clement he writes (c. 95, i.e. while the last Apostle John still lived):

...42 The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the command of the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture in a certain place, “I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith."...44 Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties and presented the offerings. Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that ye have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honor.


Quote
how do you explain the Epistle to the Hebrews? 

Quote
Sorry again. I don't grasp what you are asking. What do you mean by 'explain'?

I'll see about doing that, but maybe on the Apostalic succession thread.
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« Reply #283 on: February 03, 2009, 05:43:29 PM »

Christ is the apostle sent by the Father, ...

Excellent pieces of writing, but I didn't espy a single word in any of them about priesthood. Are you and I misunderstanding each other here? using the same words with different meanings?

I was going to add to my previous post, that as you start at the beginning and move forwards to today, incorporating all the changes (which we agree happened) as parts of the fulness of faith in the church which is the bulwark of truth; and as we move from today backwards towards the simplicity of aiming to require only what is recorded in the New Testament - does our pared down faith still contain enough to save us, and does your changed faith retain enough to save you?

My belief is that the answer in both cases is Yes - providing of course it is believed and practised in sincerity before God. You view our faith as impoverished for lacking the riches of Holy Tradition; we see yours as encrusted with accretions which carry the danger of eclipsing Christ, making him harder to find and lay hold of. So a lot of Orthodox think Baptists are not saved, and a lot of Baptists think Orthodox are not saved. If our churches endure till the eschaton, their members will probably still think the same about each other. But the vital question is: "What must I do to be saved?" Does our faith contain enough of the answer? Or does your faith still leave enough of the answer accessible?  I have suggested my reply a few lines or so up this post: what is yours?
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« Reply #284 on: February 03, 2009, 08:30:24 PM »


I was going to add to my previous post, that as you start at the beginning and move forwards to today, incorporating all the changes (which we agree happened) as parts of the fulness of faith in the church which is the bulwark of truth; and as we move from today backwards towards the simplicity of aiming to require only what is recorded in the New Testament - does our pared down faith still contain enough to save us, and does your changed faith retain enough to save you?


Excellent inquirery my friend.

THAT is the crux of the matter.
That is the premise for Christian unity, and love the means.
It is, where had, the common salvation.

It's not that the all the other things don't matter. It's not that other issues aren't deserving of inquirers. It's that they are not in and of themselves essential to coming to faith in Christ. We, true believers among various Christian churches (including the Orthodox), are primarily divide over non-essentials.

When it comes to saving faith and knowledge (that absolutely necessary in order to be pardoned for sins and reconciled with God through Christ) let us be united. As we walk together on the things about which we do agree then we provide an atmosphere of "like-mindedness" that the Spirit can work through to lead us and guide us into all truth (whether backward or forward respectively).
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« Reply #285 on: February 03, 2009, 09:07:16 PM »

Christ is the apostle sent by the Father, ...

Excellent pieces of writing, but I didn't espy a single word in any of them about priesthood. Are you and I misunderstanding each other here? using the same words with different meanings?

No, at least not in looking for words: I was going to post more on the thread but work intervened and I didn't get the chance.  I'll try soon.

Quote
I was going to add to my previous post, that as you start at the beginning and move forwards to today, incorporating all the changes (which we agree happened) as parts of the fulness of faith in the church which is the bulwark of truth; and as we move from today backwards towards the simplicity of aiming to require only what is recorded in the New Testament - does our pared down faith still contain enough to save us, and does your changed faith retain enough to save you?

There is a difference: you say that these developed, were added later.  We point to them being there from the beginning.

Quote
My belief is that the answer in both cases is Yes - providing of course it is believed and practised in sincerity before God. You view our faith as impoverished for lacking the riches of Holy Tradition; we see yours as encrusted with accretions which carry the danger of eclipsing Christ, making him harder to find and lay hold of. So a lot of Orthodox think Baptists are not saved, and a lot of Baptists think Orthodox are not saved. If our churches endure till the eschaton, their members will probably still think the same about each other. But the vital question is: "What must I do to be saved?" Does our faith contain enough of the answer? Or does your faith still leave enough of the answer accessible?  I have suggested my reply a few lines or so up this post: what is yours?
Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand around you are saved.
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« Reply #286 on: February 03, 2009, 10:40:20 PM »

...we see yours as encrusted with accretions which carry the danger of eclipsing Christ, making him harder to find and lay hold of...

[light hearted sarcasm] You know, I just love it when people make this assertion. [/light hearted sarcasm]

I would love for SOMEONE, PLEASE to PROVE this!!!!  Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"  Because, I'll tell ya, I've known a WHOLE lot of Orthodox in my time (having essentially been a member of five or six separate parishes and visiting countless others), and I have NEVER seen anyone who has had this issue.  It's a heck of an assertion without one stitch of proof.  You're opinion is that we can't see Christ, but you are not us, you are not among us, you are not of us, you know not our faith.  So, please, explain to me how it is that you know this. 

Just curious...  Smiley
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« Reply #287 on: February 03, 2009, 10:45:35 PM »


I was going to add to my previous post, that as you start at the beginning and move forwards to today, incorporating all the changes (which we agree happened) as parts of the fulness of faith in the church which is the bulwark of truth; and as we move from today backwards towards the simplicity of aiming to require only what is recorded in the New Testament - does our pared down faith still contain enough to save us, and does your changed faith retain enough to save you?


Excellent inquirery my friend.

THAT is the crux of the matter.
That is the premise for Christian unity, and love the means.
It is, where had, the common salvation.

It's not that the all the other things don't matter. It's not that other issues aren't deserving of inquirers. It's that they are not in and of themselves essential to coming to faith in Christ. We, true believers among various Christian churches (including the Orthodox), are primarily divide over non-essentials.

When it comes to saving faith and knowledge (that absolutely necessary in order to be pardoned for sins and reconciled with God through Christ) let us be united. As we walk together on the things about which we do agree then we provide an atmosphere of "like-mindedness" that the Spirit can work through to lead us and guide us into all truth (whether backward or forward respectively).
It doesn't work that way. Our eye's are on our faces so we can see and not stumble. We don't walk backwards, we walk forward.  Wink That is why sanctification is an event that occurs in this life and because it occurs here. The body of Christ is also here. Because the body of Christ includes his saints.
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« Reply #288 on: February 03, 2009, 11:00:31 PM »

such things predate Constantine by centuries.   

I didn't realise that was the point you were making. Sorry. I only said that, among Protestants, the time of Constantine is seen as the time when things really accelerated, shifted into a new gear if you like. I didn't mean that there was no change prior to that - change that we see as deterioration.

Quote
how do you explain the Epistle to the Hebrews? 

Sorry again. I don't grasp what you are asking. What do you mean by 'explain'?

Quote
St. Clement likewise, indicates that before the Apostles departed, that they taught of Christian priesthood, and in unequivocal terms. 

Which Clement? I have the Corinthian epistle of Clement of Rome. Can you point me to the passage you have in mind? Then I'll look it up.

I get the feeling that however long we extend this conversation - and even if it could be more leisurely and lively by being face to face - we'd never reach agreement, because we are moving in opposite directions. You see the developments (which we all agree happened) as the unfolding of the fulness of faith, the establishing of Holy Tradition, and you see this all leading you forward towards the fully developed church, against which Hell's gates cannot prevail and which has been led into all truth by the ongoing working of the Spirit of God. On the other hand, we see the simplicity of the New Testament as normative and desirable, as the pattern God established and would have us reproduce today. So whereas you start at the beginning and move forward, we start at the end and (at least aim to) move backward

Does that make sense? It may not be a very good metaphor, but I cannot off-hand think of a better. The trouble is, in moving in opposite directions from each other, we never actually meet, not even in the time of Ignatius of Antioch of blessed memory. Perhaps we pause for a fleeting moment of mutual recognition in the time of the pastoral epistles.




I have to say that this strikes me, first, as being completely backward itself, contrary to all of God's creation and law.  If you've seen The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (or at least the previews for it), the entire premise making him unique is that he grew YOUNGER, rather than older.  It was contrary to God's creation.  Same thing applies here.  Show me where in God's creation something starts at the end and moves backward.  We don't start with the result and arrive at the question.  We don't start at the end and arrive at the beginning.  I can think of only one exception... Jeopardy (where the answer IS the question), the game show.  How is it that this makes any logical sense.  I understand that it's a metaphor, but it's a metaphor because, for you, in contains some truth.  I'm pointing out the backwardness and lack of logic not in the metaphor, but in your "truth."
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« Reply #289 on: February 04, 2009, 01:50:28 AM »

Where (and/or when) would you say that we went wrong?

In Acts 20 Paul addresses the elders or presbyters of the church in Ephesus and says, "I know that after my departure... from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them." These were elders among whom Paul had worked for two years (Acts 19.10), so we may safely say that things began to go wrong even among those duly appointed church leaders whom the apostles knew, taught and worked with. That takes us to the time of the writings of Ignatius and Justin Martyr among other early writings.

(This is not a comment on the teachings of those post-apostolic writers, but it does point in the direction of sola scriptura as the only safe base for faith and life.)

If you want to go back even before that, a good look at the views which the early Jerusalem church held about the Law of Moses might be a place to start.

Or if you prefer the writings of John, turn to 3 John 9-10 and consider Diotrephes, who was playing an important leading rôle in the church to which Gaius belonged; or the errors into which some of the churches in Revelation 2-3 were already falling.

That said, it is still true (I believe) that the time of Constantine the Great is considered to be when the landslide really accelerated.


David Young,

The People Saint Paul was talking about were "future Heretics". We know who these men were, and as the Church keeps moving through time......we will eventually know who they are.

Read up on "the Judaizers", "Ebionites", "Nicolaitan", "Valentinus", "Basilides", "Cerinthus", "Marcion", "Saballius", "Arianism"....ect.


Cerinthus (This biography has a strong Augustinian and Reformed Anglican bias, but it still had things in it that were usefull),

  "Cerinthus, a traditional opponent of St. John. It will  probably always remain an open question whether his fundamentally Ebionite
sympathies inclined him to accept Jewish rather than gnostic additions. Modern
scholarship has therefore preferred to view his doctrine as a fusing together
and incorporating in a single system tenets collected from Jewish, Oriental, and
Christian sources; but the nature of that doctrine is sufficiently clear, and
its opposition to the instruction of St. John as decided ad that of the
Nicolaitanes. Cerinthus was of Egyptian origin, and in religion a Jew. He
received his education in the Judaeo-Philonic school of Alexandria. On leaving
Egypt he visited Jerusalem Caesarea, and Antioch. From Palestine he passed into
Asia and there developed της αυτου απωλειας βαραθρον (Epiph. xxviii. 2).
Galatia, according to the same authority, was selected as his headquarters,
whence he circulated his errors. On one of his journeys he arrived at Ephesus,
and met St. John in the public baths. The Apostle, hearing who was there, fled
from the place as if for life, crying to those about him: "Let us flee, lest the
bath fall in while Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is there."
.....................skipped a paragraph........Unlike Simon Magus and Menander,
Cerinthus did not claim a sacred and mystic power. Caius the Presbyter can only
assert against him that he pretended to angeilic revelations (Eus., Theod.). But
his mind, like theirs, brooded over the co-existence of good and evil, spirit
and matter; and his scheme seems intended to free the "unknown God" and the
Christ from the bare imputation of infection through contact with nature and
man. Trained as he was in the philosophy of Philo, the Gnosis of Cerinthus did
not of necessity compel him to start from -opposition- in the sense of
malignity-of evil to good, matter to spirit. He recognized opposition in the
sense of difference between the one active perfect principle of life-God-and
that lower imperfect passive existence which was dependent upon God; but this
fell far short of malignity. He therefore conceived the material world to have
been formed not by "the First God," but by angelic Beings of an inferior grade
of Emanation (Epiph.). More precisely still he described the main agent as a
certain power (δυναμις) separate and distinct from the "principality" (η υπερ τα
ολα αυθεντεια, V. Suicer, Thes.s.v. αυθ.) and ignorant of τον υπερ
παντα θεον. He refused in the spirit of a true Jew to consider the "God of the
Jews" identical with that author of the material world who was alleged by
Gnostic teachers to be inferior and evil. He preferred to identify him with the
Angel who delivered the Law (Epiph. and Philastr.). Neander and Ewald have
pointed out that these are legitimate deductions from the teaching of Philo. The
conception is evidently that of an age when hereditary and instinctive reverence
for the law served as a check upon the system maker. Cerinthus is a long way
from the bolder and more hostile schools of later
Gnosticism.................skipped a paragraph..............The Chiliastic
eschatology of Cerinthus is very clearly stated by Theodoret, Caius,
Dionysius(Eus.), and Augustine, but not alluded to by Irenaeus. His silence need
perhaps cause no surprise: Irenaeus was himself a chiliast of the spiritual
school, and in his notes upon Cerinthus he is only careful to mention what was
peculiar to his system. The conception of Cerinthus was highly coloured. In his
"dream" and phantasy the Lord shall have an earthly Kingdom in which the elect
are to enjoy pleasures, feasts, marriages, and sacrifices. Its capital is
Jerusalem and its duration 1000 years: thereafter shall ensue the restoration of
all things. Cerinthus derived this notion from Jewish sources. His notions of
eschatology are radically Jewish: they may have originated, but do not
contain, the Valentinian notion of a spiritual marriage between the souls of the
elect and the Angels of the Pleroma.
Other peculiar features of his teaching may be noted.
He held that if a man died unbaptized, another was to be baptized in his stead
and in his name, that at the day of resurrection he might not suffer punishment
nd be made subject to the εξουσια κοσμοποιος (cf. I. Cor. xv. 29). He had
learned at Alexandria to distinguish between the different degrees of
inspiration, and attributed to different Angels the dictation severally of the
words of Moses and of the Prophets; ......................skipped a
paragraph................The Chiliasm of Cerinthus was an exaaeration of
language so ingenuously as the Apocalpse. The conclusion was easy that Cerinthus
had but ascribed the Apocalypse to the Apostle to obtain credit and currency for
his own forgery. The "Alogi" argued upon similar grounds against the Fourth
Gospel. It did not agree with the Synoptists, and though it did not agree with
the Synoptists, and though it disagreed in every possible way with the alleged
doctrines of Cerinthus, yet the false-hearted author of the Apocalypse was, they
asserted, certainly the writer of the Gospel." [1]


 


And Sola Scriptora is a noval doctrine. Show me in Scripture where it says "Sola Scriptora"?



The genuine tradition of Apostolic doctrine!

"Polycarpus (1) bp. of Smyrna, one of the most prominent figures in the church of the 2nd cent. He owes this prominence less to intellectual ability, which does not appear to have been pre-eminent, than to the influence gained by a consistent and unusually long life. Born some 30 years before the end of the 1st cent., and rasied to the episcopate apparently in early manhood, he held his office to the age of 86 or more. He claimed to have known at least one apostle and must in early life have met many who could tell things they had heard from actual disciples of our Lord. The younger generation, into which he lived on, naturally recognized him as a peculiarly trustworthy source of information concerning the first age of the Church. During the later years of his life Gnostic speculation had become very active and many things unknown to the faith of ordinary Christians were put forth as derived by secret traditions from the Apostles. Thus a high value was attached to the witness Polycarp could give as to the genuine tradition of apostolic doctrine, his testimony condemning as offensive novelties the figments of the heretical teachers. Irenaeus states (iii.3) that on Polycarp's visit to Rome his testimony converted many disciples of Marcion and Valentinus. Polycarp crowned his other services to the church by a glorious martyrdom." [2]



David,

The Gates of Hades will not prevale!!! You can't depend on your human reason alone. Trust that Jesus Preserved the Church. And trust that we must have actual communion with it. A mere imitation is not enough. This is what Peter Guilquest and them found out some decades ago. And this is what I found out when I followed David Bercot's movement some years ago.

A mere imitation is not enough!!! Jesus wants actual communion.






JNORM888

[1] pages 154-156 edited by Henry Wace & William C. Piercy, in the book "A dictionary of early Christian Biography"

[2] page 846 from the book "A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography: A Reference Guide to over 800 Christian men and women, Heretics, and Sects of the first six centuries" edited by Henry Wace & William C. Piercy. Originally published in London 1911 by John Murray, republished by Hendrickson publishers 1999
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« Reply #290 on: February 04, 2009, 01:55:13 AM »

And Sola Scriptura is a noval doctrine. Show me in Scripture where it says "Sola Scriptura"?

Would not that have required the Holy Scriptures to have been written in Latin?  Wink
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« Reply #291 on: February 04, 2009, 02:09:28 AM »

And Sola Scriptura is a noval doctrine. Show me in Scripture where it says "Sola Scriptura"?

Would not that have required the Holy Scriptures to have been written in Latin?  Wink

*Steals joke and puts it in arsenal of ever growing convoluted theological jokes* Cheesy
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« Reply #292 on: February 04, 2009, 02:12:43 AM »

And Sola Scriptura is a noval doctrine. Show me in Scripture where it says "Sola Scriptura"?

Would not that have required the Holy Scriptures to have been written in Latin?  Wink

BLASPHEMER! The Holy Scriptures were clearly written in King James English!
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« Reply #293 on: February 04, 2009, 02:59:41 AM »

You believe in O.S.A.S.(once saved always saved) for individuals,

You are putting words into my mouth - or rather, on to my keyboard. I have not written that I believe in eternal security; rather, I said I am agnostic on that question (actually I wrote 'apophatic'). But I have attempted to give a clearer description of the doctrine - without committing myself to it - out of fairness to those who do hold it, because the way it is described on the forum is a caricture of the classic Calvinist teaching.

Quote
We don't see Jesus telling Saint Paul to go start a body separate from the one He started some years earlier. No! We see Jesus telling Saint Paul to go and see a christian from the original body that he started.

Ah! I think I see what you mean. Before I attempt a reply, you'd better tell me whether I am understanding you better now. You mean a sort of institutional or organisational continuity in time and space, whereby the true church spread and continues to spread from the beginning to all its branches, twigs and outermost leaves, and that it is in this body that Christ dwells in his Spirit - that this body is the temple of the Holy Ghost. Of course, I don't share that view - but is it what you are arguing for?


I am arguing for both Physical & spiritual continuity. A composite of both. It's either the Church was preserved or She was destroyed only to come back to life some many many many centuries later. Somewhat like the late Saint Augustinian doctrine of the destruction/annihilation of free will after the fall of Adam, only for it to be ressurected again some time later in the future.

But in this case we are talking about the Church. Was the Church preserved or annihilated?

I believe the Church to be dynamic......not static.....not trapped in the 1st century alone. Just as a Tree grows....so also the Church. And just as a tree trunk has rings everytime it goes through a time of turbulance through the seasons. In like mannor.......we can see the rings of the Church everytime she goes through a time of turbulance throughout the centuries.

It is said that a person can tell how old a tree is by counting the number of rings it has. Well, we can look at the historicl record of the Church .......just by looking at Her rings.




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« Reply #294 on: February 04, 2009, 03:56:38 AM »


Quote from: Cleopas
Perhaps those churches outside the empire stayed true, but they eventually faded into oblivion. Either way the now State led portion gained prominence and reserved unto itself the title of the "one, holy, and apostolic church" to the exclusion of all others.

Why omit the word Catholic, which means Universal?   Huh Are you saying that the Church after Nicaea wasn't Catholic?  Then what was the One True Church in the middle of the 4th Century AD?

In the sense you mean it, as a singular visible universal institutional body, no, it was not. Whatever may have remained of that before Nicaea, it was officially severed with and following Nicaea. The "church in the empire" had effectively seperated from the church "outside the empire" by submission to Constantine, and that apart from their outside brethren. It could not have been then, in any physical or organizational sense, any longer universal.

I admit and agree that a spiritual universality existed between believers within and believers without the empire, as had always been, and always will be the case. Our union as individual believers with Christ creates spiritual unon with all others in Christ, so the universal nature of the church persists in as much as believers persist. But the organizational unity of the church perished, and was (if not before) dealt the fatal wound that made it so at Nicaea.

Not true,

The Assyrian Church of the East officially went there own way around 417 A.D. That was the 3rd council. And they still exist, so no.....they wasn't wiped out.

The Church believed herself to be a singular visible universal institutional body way before the Council of Nicea. You can see this in the 2nd century with Saint Irenaeus. You can also see this in the 3rd century with Saint Cyprian.

It's been a while since I read the letters of Saint Ignatius (about 110 A.D.) but I think you can see the same thought in his works as well.



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« Reply #295 on: February 04, 2009, 04:39:59 AM »

you say that these developed, were added later.  We point to them being there from the beginning.

But your beginning is a bit later than our end. There is a lacuna.

Quote
Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand around you are saved.

I recognise the quotation but can't quite place it. Was it St Seraphim of Sarov? I hesitate to dissent from one greater than me, whoever it was, but I think we must add that the Gospel must be preached as well as shown forth in our lives, if people are to be saved through our witness.
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« Reply #296 on: February 04, 2009, 06:09:09 AM »

Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"

...The South Albanians alone neither troubled to do this nor to translate the Scriptures. They left all Church matters in Greek hands, and threw in their lot with the Greeks when the final split between the two Churches took place … A large proportion of the priests are Greek, and there is a tendency to replace Albanians by Greeks in the higher posts. Sermons in Albanian are strictly prohibited.

Orthodox Good Friday was very solemn, and everyone flocked to church in black. Avlona has a large Christian population, all Orthodox. The service lasted the whole day; a painted crucifix, draped with black, stood in the middle of the church, and each one kissed the foot on entering. Halfway through the service it was removed, and a table put in its place, on which lay a bier, covered with a black cloth, painted with the body of the dead Christ, for no images are allowed by this church. Two priests carried the bier round the church on their heads, preceded by an incense-bearer, walking backwards, and followed by a procession. The service was all in Greek, and the singing a tuneless nasal yowl. In the late evening the church was crammed to suffocation, and as each one held a lighted candle, it was a glare of yellow light and foggy with smoke. ... The raucous voices, barbaric music, and gaudy, shabby trappings, dim through the smoke, made a dramatic scene which culminated when the priests lifted the bier and carried it from the church; there was a wild scramble of men and boys, who all strove to shove a shoulder under it, if only for a second, as it was borne all round the building, and the whole congregation followed with twinkling candles.

- “The Burden of the Balkans”, by M E Durham (Thomas Nelson, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, & New York)

The Christian Albanians of the south belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and here a Greek bishop once even excommunicated the Albanian language, and priests taught that it was useless to pray in Albanian, as Christ does not understand it.

- “People of All Nations” Vol I, page 58 (London: Educational Book Company, ed. J A Hammerton)

Blessing of the Waters. Orthodox custom... takes place on Epiphany, January 6, every year, and is symbolic of the baptism of Christ. It is known to the Orthodox Church as the Great Consecration. The officiating priest plunges a cross into a river and it is retrieved by eager bystanders, usually young men, who dive into the icy water after it. The first person to retrieve the cross is considered particularly lucky. The wet cross is used to sprinkle the now holy water over the believers as a blessing. Water from the river, sea or harbour in question is then considered consecrated for that year... Diving for the cross is also known in the isles of Greece...

- "A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture" Robert Elsie (New York University Press, 2001)

I hasten to add that I could cite equally foolish practices from churches that call themselves Protestant, and not for a single moment am I suggesting or suspecting that your personal religion is like all this. My contention is this: that what we call accretions, and you call the fulness of the faith, carries the risk of obscuring Christ by beliefs and practices which are not found in scripture.
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« Reply #297 on: February 04, 2009, 06:43:35 AM »

you say that these developed, were added later.  We point to them being there from the beginning.

But your beginning is a bit later than our end. There is a lacuna.

Hardly.

St. Clement writes around 95, the Didache even earlier. St. Ignatius is around 105, St. Polycarp writes shortly thereafter  St. John's Gospel, his Epistles, and Revelation are written around the same time. In other words, overlap.

Put it this way: Christ ascends around 30.  The first writing that are now in the NT, the Epistles to the Thessalonians, isn't written for two decades later, and the Synoptic Gospels not for another decade or so after that.  The Church Historian St. Luke, in his prologue states quite plainly that he himself had not seen the Lord.  As far as personal testimony of the Faith, he is on the same level as SS Clement and Ignatius who did not know the Lord during His earthy sojourn (as neither did St. Paul. btw. there is a question of St. Igantius, he is often identified as the child Christ uses as an example of Faith) but received the Faith directly from His disciples.  There's your lacuna: and atheists, Muslims and other enemies of the Gospel exploit it ruthlessly.

And of course, there's the little problem that the Apostles handed the Scripture to the Apostolic Fathers.  The Fathers Clement and Igantius were among the audience to whom the Apostles addressed the NT.

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Acquire the Spirit of Peace and a thousand around you are saved.

Quote
I recognise the quotation but can't quite place it. Was it St Seraphim of Sarov? I hesitate to dissent from one greater than me, whoever it was, but I think we must add that the Gospel must be preached as well as shown forth in our lives, if people are to be saved through our witness.

Very good!  St. Serphim it is!  But how does that contradict the boldface?
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« Reply #298 on: February 04, 2009, 07:15:32 AM »

Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"

...The South Albanians alone neither troubled to do this nor to translate the Scriptures. They left all Church matters in Greek hands, and threw in their lot with the Greeks when the final split between the two Churches took place … A large proportion of the priests are Greek, and there is a tendency to replace Albanians by Greeks in the higher posts. Sermons in Albanian are strictly prohibited.

Orthodox Good Friday was very solemn, and everyone flocked to church in black. Avlona has a large Christian population, all Orthodox. The service lasted the whole day; a painted crucifix, draped with black, stood in the middle of the church, and each one kissed the foot on entering. Halfway through the service it was removed, and a table put in its place, on which lay a bier, covered with a black cloth, painted with the body of the dead Christ, for no images are allowed by this church. Two priests carried the bier round the church on their heads, preceded by an incense-bearer, walking backwards, and followed by a procession. The service was all in Greek, and the singing a tuneless nasal yowl. In the late evening the church was crammed to suffocation, and as each one held a lighted candle, it was a glare of yellow light and foggy with smoke. ... The raucous voices, barbaric music, and gaudy, shabby trappings, dim through the smoke, made a dramatic scene which culminated when the priests lifted the bier and carried it from the church; there was a wild scramble of men and boys, who all strove to shove a shoulder under it, if only for a second, as it was borne all round the building, and the whole congregation followed with twinkling candles.

- “The Burden of the Balkans”, by M E Durham (Thomas Nelson, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, & New York)

The Christian Albanians of the south belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and here a Greek bishop once even excommunicated the Albanian language, and priests taught that it was useless to pray in Albanian, as Christ does not understand it.

- “People of All Nations” Vol I, page 58 (London: Educational Book Company, ed. J A Hammerton)

Blessing of the Waters. Orthodox custom... takes place on Epiphany, January 6, every year, and is symbolic of the baptism of Christ. It is known to the Orthodox Church as the Great Consecration. The officiating priest plunges a cross into a river and it is retrieved by eager bystanders, usually young men, who dive into the icy water after it. The first person to retrieve the cross is considered particularly lucky. The wet cross is used to sprinkle the now holy water over the believers as a blessing. Water from the river, sea or harbour in question is then considered consecrated for that year... Diving for the cross is also known in the isles of Greece...

- "A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture" Robert Elsie (New York University Press, 2001)

I hasten to add that I could cite equally foolish practices from churches that call themselves Protestant, and not for a single moment am I suggesting or suspecting that your personal religion is like all this. My contention is this: that what we call accretions, and you call the fulness of the faith, carries the risk of obscuring Christ by beliefs and practices which are not found in scripture.


What is obsuring Christ in these passes is obsure.  What makes you think the people in it don't know Christ?

Btw, your sources (except the last) are dated, something you all (Baptists, Evangelicals, etc.) share with the JWs.  It makes discussion difficult.

A few things on that: Albanian was forbidden by Ottoman law.  Once they defeated Albania, who under George Skanderbeg had defeated the Ottomans five times, they ruthlessly tried to assimilate the Albanians by Islam and the Turkish language.  Those who stuck to the Gospel were given only Greek priests, and were forced to speak Greek.  Hence the late development of Standard Albanian.  The Phanariots who ran the hierarchy are one reason why the Greeks revolted and set up the autocephalous CoG.

The services you mention are all standard in the universal Orthodox Church.  My children from a young age could identify the services by such "accretions," which is what they hang the Biblical verses on the event on.

And I can multiply the examples of those who came to know Christ through such "accretions." 

You have seen, no doubt, the Dome of the Rock, that beautiful building where the Temple stood in Jerusalem.  al-Maqdisi, an early Muslim historian from Jerusalem tells that one day he openly expressed disapproval on the expense of building the ediface.  His uncle contradicted him: the caliph, he told him, saw that many of the Muslims, coming into the Churches, were struck with awe at the images they saw and left Islam and received baptism (the Dome follows the architecture of bapistries and marytrium): a dirty little secret is that the early Muslims defected by the tens of thousands, and the caliphs even demanded that the Emperor hand over those who had fled to the empire.
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« Reply #299 on: February 04, 2009, 07:36:27 AM »

1 Corinthians 10 tells us that they all ate the supernatural food, but with most of them God was not pleased. The idea that it is possible to partake of the food and at the same time to lack the reality is therefore not peculiar to me, nor is it new. It existed in the days of the apostles.

There is a thread entitled something like, “Why do Protestants reject Orthodoxy?” and I think that some Protestants reject Orthodoxy not because of what it is, but because of what it seems to be, what it looks like.

Also, as has often been pointed out on these fora, western Christianity is a very cerebral thing, deriving much from aristotelian logic. Scholasticism was welcomed, nurtured and developed among us. (I do not say that is a good thing: I merely refer to the fact.) We have always, but especially in our formative period in the 16th and 17th centuries been fond of writing detailed Confessions of Faith. Orthodoxy is not like that; it offers a much more outward, visual approach, involving much symbolism which Orthodox understand but we do not know about.

I realise that the quotations on my earlier post do not portray Orthodoxy at its purest and best, but even at its best it looks, to us, like a lot of ritual and ceremonial. Indeed, it has these: no-one disagrees on that. You say it is helpful, we say it is risky.

I think it is not unfair of us, bearing such passages as 1 Corinthians 10 in mind, to state that there is and always has been a risk of people joining religious rituals and ceremonies without partaking of the inward reality. If you could, for a moment, imagine yourself (as converts from Evangelicalism surely can) into our logical, confessional, didactic mindset as western Christians, you might get a momentary glimpse of what Orthodoxy looks like to people of our bent. Not for one moment have I said that Orthodox do not see Christ because of the accretions; indeed, I find him warmly and lovingly presented in your books and in some writings from people on these fora. But I also believe that some Orthodox fall into the trap of 1 Corinthians 10 (eating the food while God is not pleased with them). That chapter deals with baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but the principle works in other areas too. Veneration of the saints can lead to worship of them (otherwise you wouldn’t need to keep warning against it); prayers to the saints can reduce prayer offered to God, and can make the Lord seem remote when he has in fact invited us to come boldly; sacramental theology can give place to superstition (e.g. that the Eucharist somehow gives magical protection even if we continue in sin, idolatry and strife, as was happening in Corinth).

Of course it is equally possible for people to take Communion in our minimalistic manner, and do so unworthily, without discerning the body. I am not saying our methods are free from risk, yours are laden with risks. I, and Cleopas I think, are only saying that from our point of view your Tradition carries that risk, and that some fall into it.
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« Reply #300 on: February 04, 2009, 07:45:45 AM »

your sources (except the last) are dated... It makes discussion difficult.

I don't think it does. My contention is not that Orthodoxy as practised today among Orthodox people in the West (America or wherever) resembles the descriptions given in earlier literature. Indeed, as it is a minority faith there, I assume you must have a genuine personal conviction that Orthodoxy is the truth, otherwise you would simply attend a more convenient sort of church (for nearness, cultural assimilation, parking facilities, size of congregation, or whatever) or would discontinue church-going altogether. In other communities, where Orthodoxy is the almost universal faith, it is easier for people to inherit and perpetuate family, village or national tradition (small t) without that genuine personal conviction and without the inner reality we all seek in Christ. What I am saying is, that Orthodoxy carries the risk of obscuring Christ by the rituals which encrust it, and that in some places, at some times, in some people that risk becomes a reality.

I added that I was not saying "your" (I was replying to GreekChef) faith is like that. I am quite aware that people continue attending Baptist, Methodist etc churches because their parents and grandparents did so, but lack the inner experience and conviction of their forebears. It is beyond me why they do it, but I know they do. Don't tell me I can't see into their hearts: I have actually had a Baptist deacon tell me after a service where I preached that they don't believe the Gospel or their own hymns in his church. But they still kept going, and they still sang them. Tragically, it happens.

Nor am I saying that Evangelical practice carries no risk and always leads people direct to Christ. But our pitfalls are different. See my post between this one and the earlier one which you quote at length on that.

By the way, you are remarkably well informed about Albania. May I ask why?
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« Reply #301 on: February 04, 2009, 08:25:15 AM »

your sources (except the last) are dated... It makes discussion difficult.

I don't think it does.

Actually I had more in mind when the comparisons are made to Holy Week services and Babylonian religion.  The sources often used are hopelessly dated (read, wrong).  One of my favorites is the JW idea that the Trinity came from all the "Trinities" in Egyptian mythology.  This comes from Sir Wallace Budge (July 27, 1857 – November 23, 1934), who recast Egyptian religion in his own Protestant KJV mould, i.e. the "Egyptian Trinities" were borrowed from Christianity, not the reverse.  (Btw, Budge deserves credit for insisting, in the face of the white supremacist school dominant in Egyptology of the day, that Egyptian civilization had African roots).  Btw, my degrees are in Near Eastern Studies, my original major was Egyptology.

Your quotes don't directly fall into that, but I've learned to be careful.

Quote
My contention is not that Orthodoxy as practised today among Orthodox people in the West (America or wherever) resembles the descriptions given in earlier literature.

LOL. I've been to places (in the US and elsewhere) where it does.  I'm just wary as an intellectual-I was converted to Orthodoxy by the Encyclopedia Britannica-that I don't have the child-like Faith that these people do.  Christ didn't hold up the philosopher as an example of Faith.  In fact, last week our priest pointed out the contrast between St. Paul's appeal on Mars Hill, his decision to preach only Christ crucified iin Corinth, where he actually managed to found a Church.

Quote
What I am saying is, that Orthodoxy carries the risk of obscuring Christ by the rituals which encrust it, and that in some places, at some times, in some people that risk becomes a reality.


I haven't seen it yet.  And I've got plenty of counter examples: one, an extended family who went from being lapsed followers of the Vatican to devout Orthodox after attending grandma's Orthodox funeral.  Yes, these dry bones can live.

Quote
I added that I was not saying "your" (I was replying to GreekChef) faith is like that. Nor am I saying that Evangelical practice carries no risk and always leads people direct to Christ. But our pitfalls are different. See my post between this one and the earlier one which you quote at length on that.

By the way, you are remarkably well informed about Albania. May I ask why?

Our parish has had a couple families on mission in Albania.  One was going to Kosovo but that didn't work out.  One of our members, Lynette Kathrine, we are sure will be canonized:
http://www.antiochian.org/node/17601
Maybe it would not be out of place to briefly tell of her death.  Once, there was a death of one of the Albanians, and Lynette and Nathan (her husband) were distressed that the attitude of the Albanians was like one without hope, without witness to the Resurrection.  Immediately thereafter, Lynette started to show the signs of the cancer that would kill her.  She insisted on staying in Albania, coming back only when her own mother began to die of cancer in the states.  She went back to die in Albania, and every witness I've talked to has said what a blessed testimony her death was of the power of Christ, His Resurrection and the Orthodox Faith.

The day she died was Sunday.  In Church, just as great canon began that day, my son had to go to the bathroom and he asked me to come with him.  I was waiting for him, when I heard the AMEN! AMEN! AMEN! signaling that the consecration of the Eucharist had just taken place. I looked up and happened to notice the time.  After the DL and Sunday school, the priest's wife told me that Lynette had passed and said the time.  Doing the calculations, I realized that she had given up the ghost at the exact time her parish, our parish, was receiving the Holy Spirit on the Gifts.

We later got an email from another parisioner in India, where he and his wife run a medical mission.  I don't quite remember the details, but it was something to the effect that he had gone asleep exhausted because of the number of patients.  He said he had a dream in which he saw Lynette and she gave him words of encouragement.  He awoke, realizing that he had not heard about Lynette for sometime.  He later checked his email and learned that she had died at that time.
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« Reply #302 on: February 04, 2009, 09:23:20 AM »

Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"

...The South Albanians alone neither troubled to do this nor to translate the Scriptures. They left all Church matters in Greek hands, and threw in their lot with the Greeks when the final split between the two Churches took place … A large proportion of the priests are Greek, and there is a tendency to replace Albanians by Greeks in the higher posts. Sermons in Albanian are strictly prohibited.

Orthodox Good Friday was very solemn, and everyone flocked to church in black. Avlona has a large Christian population, all Orthodox. The service lasted the whole day; a painted crucifix, draped with black, stood in the middle of the church, and each one kissed the foot on entering. Halfway through the service it was removed, and a table put in its place, on which lay a bier, covered with a black cloth, painted with the body of the dead Christ, for no images are allowed by this church. Two priests carried the bier round the church on their heads, preceded by an incense-bearer, walking backwards, and followed by a procession. The service was all in Greek, and the singing a tuneless nasal yowl. In the late evening the church was crammed to suffocation, and as each one held a lighted candle, it was a glare of yellow light and foggy with smoke. ... The raucous voices, barbaric music, and gaudy, shabby trappings, dim through the smoke, made a dramatic scene which culminated when the priests lifted the bier and carried it from the church; there was a wild scramble of men and boys, who all strove to shove a shoulder under it, if only for a second, as it was borne all round the building, and the whole congregation followed with twinkling candles.

- “The Burden of the Balkans”, by M E Durham (Thomas Nelson, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, & New York)

The Christian Albanians of the south belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and here a Greek bishop once even excommunicated the Albanian language, and priests taught that it was useless to pray in Albanian, as Christ does not understand it.

- “People of All Nations” Vol I, page 58 (London: Educational Book Company, ed. J A Hammerton)

Blessing of the Waters. Orthodox custom... takes place on Epiphany, January 6, every year, and is symbolic of the baptism of Christ. It is known to the Orthodox Church as the Great Consecration. The officiating priest plunges a cross into a river and it is retrieved by eager bystanders, usually young men, who dive into the icy water after it. The first person to retrieve the cross is considered particularly lucky. The wet cross is used to sprinkle the now holy water over the believers as a blessing. Water from the river, sea or harbour in question is then considered consecrated for that year... Diving for the cross is also known in the isles of Greece...

- "A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture" Robert Elsie (New York University Press, 2001)

I hasten to add that I could cite equally foolish practices from churches that call themselves Protestant, and not for a single moment am I suggesting or suspecting that your personal religion is like all this. My contention is this: that what we call accretions, and you call the fulness of the faith, carries the risk of obscuring Christ by beliefs and practices which are not found in scripture.


The first "foolish practice" that you show here (described ridiculously by someone who obviously has NO CLUE what is going on, and thus thinks it pointless) is called the APOKATHELOSIS, or the "taking down from the cross," commemorating the crucifixion, removal from the cross, and burial in the tomb of Christ (and you say we don't stress the crucifixion enough--- you should try attending this service).  Yet you did not show how this could possibly obscure Christ.  It does nothing but GLORIFY him.  Just because the service was in Greek means nothing.  And that "tuneless yowl" that they heard, was, in fact, some of the most beautiful, edifying music ever written on earth in all times.  The "Simeron Krimateh" is an incredible hymn, which moves me to tears in faith every time I hear it... in Greek (which I don't speak fluently, by the way).

The other "foolish practice" is the blessing of the waters, and yes, it is done every year here in the states as well.  It is a beautiful and solemn practice.  This (again, ridiculous) account makes it sound like superstition, which it is far from.  There is no "luck" involved (we don't believe in luck).  It is a blessing to be the one to catch it.  It is an honor to bear the cross of Christ.  And yes, the Cross is used to sprinkle the holy water over the people.  But diving for the cross is not what made the water holy.  There is AN ENTIRE SERVICE that your "author" seems to have left out (conveniently).  All of which is done, again, in COMMEMORATION, with Christ at the center of every inch and every minute of it.  Show me the obscuring...

If the point here is that it is all in Greek, you can take that up with my mother.  She's a convert and doesn't speak Greek.  Or Handmaiden, for that matter, as she doesn't either.  Or my friend Jerry, who also doesn't.  Or the thousands of others who don't speak it, but still understand what is happening in front of them because they take the time to learn.  Now, here in the states, things in most Greek Orthodox churches are done in Greek AND English (and this is all widely debated and a topic for another thread).  Our bishop, in particular, believes firmly that the Gospel and Epistle and sermon should ALWAYS be given in English (Greek, too, if needed, but at least English), because it is the language of the people.  In Chicago, this is different in every parish because some parishes are still 99% Greek.  I don't understand what the problem is with the Albanians leaving everything in Greek.

Don't know if you know this or not, but the existence of the Slavonic language is due ENTIRELY to the Church-- Ss. Cyril and Methodios, as a matter of fact. 

So, still, I don't see what the problem is.  I have yet to see how anything we do obscures our view of Christ.  You're going to have to show me some ACTUAL evidence of how our faith, practiced properly (not some bastardization thereof-- you are the one who always says we have to compare the best of Orthodoxy and Protestantism, right?), obscures Christ.  This is still a baseless, and frankly, absurd claim, in my book, considering that there is no evidence to back it up and PLENTY of evidence to the contrary.  Saying that something "carries the risk" is a total cop-out in my book, without providing evidence.  It's a straw man.  As for them "not being found in Scripture," there are plenty of threads for that, and it doesn't need to be debated here. 

You have shown me only two problems here: 1) there are some ignorant Albanian priests out there if they say God doesn't understand Albanian (this is their personal sin, NOT a problem with Orthodoxy), and 2) You need to find some more trustworthy authors who actually know what they're talking about.  As I have said many times, trustworthy sources.  Maybe actually reading about these things from someone who believes them, or at least understands them, would be a better idea then going to Protestant resources who so obviously have an agenda.  To me, the above smacks of asking a gas station attendant how to do brain surgery (not that a gas station attendant is an idiot, just that he would have no basis of expertise from which to teach).
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« Reply #303 on: February 04, 2009, 09:35:04 AM »


I think it is not unfair of us, bearing such passages as 1 Corinthians 10 in mind, to state that there is and always has been a risk of people joining religious rituals and ceremonies without partaking of the inward reality. If you could, for a moment, imagine yourself (as converts from Evangelicalism surely can) into our logical, confessional, didactic mindset as western Christians, you might get a momentary glimpse of what Orthodoxy looks like to people of our bent. Not for one moment have I said that Orthodox do not see Christ because of the accretions; indeed, I find him warmly and lovingly presented in your books and in some writings from people on these fora. But I also believe that some Orthodox fall into the trap of 1 Corinthians 10 (eating the food while God is not pleased with them). That chapter deals with baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but the principle works in other areas too. Veneration of the saints can lead to worship of them (otherwise you wouldn’t need to keep warning against it); prayers to the saints can reduce prayer offered to God, and can make the Lord seem remote when he has in fact invited us to come boldly; sacramental theology can give place to superstition (e.g. that the Eucharist somehow gives magical protection even if we continue in sin, idolatry and strife, as was happening in Corinth).

This is like saying that because driving carries risks, we should stay home and never drive.  Or because I might burn myself I shouldn't cook dinner.  Or because I might trip and fall I shouldn't walk to the mailbox to get the mail.  Or because I could slip and hit my head I should never shower.  Or because I might get a paper cut I should never read a book.  Or because I might electrocute myself I should never turn on my computer.

Come on, let's be a little realistic.  If it was such an overwhelming risk that it becomes the cautionary tale you think it is, then explain to me why the vast majority of Orthodox are God-fearing, Christ-loving people.  You may not have had this experience, because you know little of Orthodoxy and basically no actual Orthodox people.  But I do.  And your cautionary tale is just a rationalization, an excuse that Protestants use to believe what they wish and deny anything and everything that Orthodoxy teaches.  Show me some real evidence and then we can talk.  Smiley


Quote
Of course it is equally possible for people to take Communion in our minimalistic manner, and do so unworthily, without discerning the body. I am not saying our methods are free from risk, yours are laden with risks. I, and Cleopas I think, are only saying that from our point of view your Tradition carries that risk, and that some fall into it.

Laden with risk?  [sarcasm] Love it! [/sarcasm]
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« Reply #304 on: February 04, 2009, 09:48:17 AM »

your sources (except the last) are dated... It makes discussion difficult.

I don't think it does. My contention is not that Orthodoxy as practised today among Orthodox people in the West (America or wherever) resembles the descriptions given in earlier literature. Indeed, as it is a minority faith there, I assume you must have a genuine personal conviction that Orthodoxy is the truth, otherwise you would simply attend a more convenient sort of church (for nearness, cultural assimilation, parking facilities, size of congregation, or whatever) or would discontinue church-going altogether. In other communities, where Orthodoxy is the almost universal faith, it is easier for people to inherit and perpetuate family, village or national tradition (small t) without that genuine personal conviction and without the inner reality we all seek in Christ. What I am saying is, that Orthodoxy carries the risk of obscuring Christ by the rituals which encrust it, and that in some places, at some times, in some people that risk becomes a reality.

I added that I was not saying "your" (I was replying to GreekChef) faith is like that. I am quite aware that people continue attending Baptist, Methodist etc churches because their parents and grandparents did so, but lack the inner experience and conviction of their forebears. It is beyond me why they do it, but I know they do. Don't tell me I can't see into their hearts: I have actually had a Baptist deacon tell me after a service where I preached that they don't believe the Gospel or their own hymns in his church. But they still kept going, and they still sang them. Tragically, it happens.

Nor am I saying that Evangelical practice carries no risk and always leads people direct to Christ. But our pitfalls are different. See my post between this one and the earlier one which you quote at length on that.

By the way, you are remarkably well informed about Albania. May I ask why?

Let's put aside the fact that you have no proof (other than Albania, a country ravaged by communism where religion was FORCED out) that people in native Orthodox countries have nothing in their hearts for Christ and attend because of family tradition.  Sure, it happens, but I would love to know how you think you know that the majority of them are this way.

Putting that aside, even if it is true (which I do NOT contend that it is any more true than it is of Protestants in Protestant countries), explain what that has to do with "rituals encrusting" our faith?  How does the one relate to the other?  You have yet to show how the "encrusting" of rituals makes this risk more (any more than Protestant worship in Protestant countries).  The one has nothing to do with the other.  They are two different issues.  Show me proof of the obscuring of Christ by rituals. 
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« Reply #305 on: February 04, 2009, 09:50:28 AM »

Maybe it would not be out of place to briefly tell of her death...

This is superb, and most moving. Would you allow me to print it for others to read?
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« Reply #306 on: February 04, 2009, 09:52:30 AM »

Maybe it would not be out of place to briefly tell of her death...

This is superb, and most moving. Would you allow me to print it for others to read?

I agree, and I'm moved, David, that you are wanting to print it even though she was Orthodox!

 Smiley
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« Reply #307 on: February 04, 2009, 09:56:07 AM »

a better idea then going to Protestant resources who so obviously have an agenda. 

You sound as if my maunderings are rendering you impatient.  Sad

Actually I deliberately chose authors and publishers who, as far as I know, had / have no personal religion. Edith Durham and Robert Elsie are, I believe, regarded as unusually well-informed authorities on Albanian matters.
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« Reply #308 on: February 04, 2009, 10:03:28 AM »

a better idea then going to Protestant resources who so obviously have an agenda. 

You sound as if my maunderings are rendering you impatient.  Sad

Actually I deliberately chose authors and publishers who, as far as I know, had / have no personal religion. Edith Durham and Robert Elsie are, I believe, regarded as unusually well-informed authorities on Albanian matters.

I'm not impatient, just passionate.  Smiley  Don't worry! 

Either way, their characterization and lack of knowledge proves them to be biased, or at the very least unreliable (definitely the latter, possibly both).
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« Reply #309 on: February 04, 2009, 10:18:17 AM »

Whats wrong with southern Albanians speaking Greek? Many of them were Greek. In 1922, when the border between Albania and Greece was set up, Greeks living north of the border were incorporated into Albania, in what is called Northern Epirus by Athens, whereas Albanians living south of the border were incorporated into Greece. Most of these Albanians left Greece in 1944.

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« Reply #310 on: February 04, 2009, 11:06:56 AM »

Whats wrong with southern Albanians speaking Greek?

Nothing. I have often thought that if I were young and free, I should greatly enjoy a chance to live in one of the Greek-speaking villages south of Gjirokastër for some months so as to improve my sadly rudimentary Greek. (I believe the dialect is somewhat palatalised, if that is the correct word: words like tsipouro and kairos get their first letters pronounced like an Albanian q.) Anyway, that's by the way. Nothing wrong at all, but Greek was used in church in places where the people were not Greek-speaking. I think people should worship God in the language of their home and heart.
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« Reply #311 on: February 04, 2009, 12:39:55 PM »

Maybe it would not be out of place to briefly tell of her death...

This is superb, and most moving. Would you allow me to print it for others to read?

Be my guest.  It's not my story, I'm just relating it.  There are accounts, perhaps on line, by those who were there:

For example:

The Death of Lynette Hoppe, Missionary to Albania
Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon


This afternoon (Sept 7) Denise and I put our daughter and her family on the plane to Albania, where they will serve as Orthodox Christian missionaries. They will be joining the Hoppe Family, also from our parish, and the other American missionaries who work under the episcopal authority of Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana.

Only recently did I meet the Archbishop. Indeed, today it is exactly two weeks ago, when I entered the cathedral in Tirana and was introduced to him. The Archbishop kindly invited me to concelebrate the Divine Liturgy with him. On the following Sunday I did so again, and I also accepted his invitation to preach at the Divine Liturgy in the cathedral that Sunday morning.

The Archbishop, who holds the Primatial See in Albania and currently serves as the president of the World Council of Churches, is a man of vast intellect and great heart. Under his brave and wise pastoral leadership the Church in Albania has made great strides since the fall of Communism in that poor country. I am happy to place this part of my family under the pastoral care of so godly a priest.

I went to Albania, as most of you know, to be with one of the parishioners from our little church in Chicago, Lynette Hoppe, whose family has served as missionaries in that country for the past nine years. Lynette was dying, and she had asked me, when I spoke to her by phone just days before, to come and help her die. This being one of the things that priests do, and Lynette being one of my favorite parishioners, I hastened to comply.

I was blessed to be with Lynette and her family during the closing days of her life. In addition to her husband Nathan and her children, Tristan and Catherine, Lynette was surrounded by her father, her older sister, and her three younger brothers, along with Gaye Buchanan and her daughter, Lynette's goddaughter, Rebecca. Gaye herself (the wife of Dr. Tom Buchanan, a Touchstone Senior Editor) has been Lynette's close friend since their college days at Wheaton. Father Luke Veronis, formerly a missionary to Albania, likewise ministered to Lynette during most of that time.

On each of the closing days of her life, including the Sunday on which she died, Lynette was strengthened with the Sacred Viaticum, faithfully carried to her by the priests from the cathedral. The Archbishop also came by to pray with her.

All of us prayed with her constantly during that time. Lynette was blessed to come from a strong family of Evangelical missionaries to Africa. Her father, sister, and brothers led us in singing scores of classical Protestant hymns over the several days, many of their lines assuming new dimensions in my mind by reason of the context. We also sang Orthodox hymns from time to time, including the Cherubic Hymn. (I recalled that St. Elizabeth the New Martyr died while singing that hymn down in the mine shaft where she had been thrown by the Bolsheviks.) The Psalms and other parts of the Holy Scriptures (2 Corinthians 4 & 5 come prominently to mind) were read to Lynette over and over, as we prepared her to meet the Lord.

The final crisis came on Sunday, August 27. By mid-afternoon it was obvious that this was Lynette's last day on earth. Her family and the other American missionaries to Albania filled the room where she sat propped up on a reclining chair. Although she struggled for breath, Lynette did not fight death. She demonstrated the faith, serenity, and deep trust in God that we had always seen in her. On one of the days when I counseled with her last year, I encouraged Lynette not to let the memory of the sufferings of our Lord depart from her mind, and she told me that this had been a great source of strength to her. I rather suspect that this was the subject of that dear soul's final conscious thoughts.

I gave Lynette final Absolution and stayed right at her ear during the final hour or so of her life, praying the Jesus Prayer and gently saying other things to fill her with hope. When Lynette's breath and pulse stopped at 5:14 pm, I placed the Church's stole on her head and prayed the ancient admonition, "Go Forth, Christian Soul, out of this world . . ." Then we all started singing the Trisagion for the Departed. When we finished, I read everybody the 1st Epistle to the Thessalonians 4:13-18. They all gave it a hearty "Amen!"

Something happened about thirty minutes after Lynette died that I have never otherwise seen. Dead already for 30 minutes, Lynette began to smile. Everyone saw it. She was buried with that smile. It was certainly the death of a holy one, precious in the sight of the Lord.

Two days later three bishops, many priests, and hundreds of the faithful laid our sweet Lynette to rest, still wearing that smile. You may see pictures of the funeral at prayforlynette.org.

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles6/ReardonHoppeAlbania.php

http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/features/lynettes_hope
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« Reply #312 on: February 04, 2009, 12:51:02 PM »

Whats wrong with southern Albanians speaking Greek?

Nothing. I have often thought that if I were young and free, I should greatly enjoy a chance to live in one of the Greek-speaking villages south of Gjirokastër for some months so as to improve my sadly rudimentary Greek. (I believe the dialect is somewhat palatalised, if that is the correct word: words like tsipouro and kairos get their first letters pronounced like an Albanian q.) Anyway, that's by the way. Nothing wrong at all, but Greek was used in church in places where the people were not Greek-speaking. I think people should worship God in the language of their home and heart.

There were many apostles sent out from the time of Pentecost. They spoke in various "tongues" we call languages. Now it seems that the church tried to spread the seeds of Christianity through the world but the world didn't listen. Now that you have found where the people that heard the good news and accepted it are. You grudge us because of your ancestors mistakes. I see. laugh
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« Reply #313 on: February 04, 2009, 12:53:19 PM »

Whats wrong with southern Albanians speaking Greek?

Nothing. I have often thought that if I were young and free, I should greatly enjoy a chance to live in one of the Greek-speaking villages south of Gjirokastër for some months so as to improve my sadly rudimentary Greek. (I believe the dialect is somewhat palatalised, if that is the correct word: words like tsipouro and kairos get their first letters pronounced like an Albanian q.) Anyway, that's by the way. Nothing wrong at all, but Greek was used in church in places where the people were not Greek-speaking. I think people should worship God in the language of their home and heart.

Actually, Archbishop Anastasios, himself a Greek (the EP had to send someone to reconstruct the Church, as only fewer than a dozen priests survived communism, the camps, etc), is quite insistent on Albanian beling used and developed in the Church.
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« Reply #314 on: February 04, 2009, 02:12:26 PM »

Now that you have found where the people that heard the good news and accepted it are. You grudge us because of your ancestors mistakes.

I don't quite understand what you are trying to say, but I guess it is still on the theme of the use of Greek.

If so, you should know that I certainly do not begrudge you the use of Greek, and have already said I would love to have time and opportunity to learn it better than I have by living for some months in a Greek-speaking village.

I do not begrudge any people the use of their native tongue, and I emotionally regret linguistic repression wherever I see it - English repression of Welsh, French of Breton, and any other religious, political, cultural or imperialist instance. I see language death as a sad cultural impoverishment, whatever the reason for which it occurs. People should be allowed full, comprehensive and permanent use of their native tongue, of course including Greek. This includes native Albanian speakers.

But I fear we have wandered away from discussion of theology into politics, and I shall have no more to contribute on this.
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