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« on: January 20, 2009, 12:41:59 AM »

The question was raised in another thread, and I think it bears exploration, of the existence of a one true church...

David Young said the following:
Quote
Could it boil down to this? That we start from quite different ground, but each is assuming the other can be brought round to his/her own point of view.

Your belief is that there exists such a thing as "the only true church". I know I put that rather crassly, but you know what I mean.

I start from the belief that there exists no such thing as "the only true Church".

As far as I know, there are only two claimants to the title: Rome and Orthodoxy. (I am not aware of such bodies as Copts, Waldensians etc making that claim.)  Let me say at once that, if I believed there was such an entity as the only true church, I think you have a much stronger case than Rome and I would 'vote' for Orthodoxy every time. You win (I think) every argument...

...except the basic one, which is: Does such a thing exist in the first place?


As you know, our view is that - as you rightly say yourselves - the Lord has only one Body; but we believe that body is made up of all the redeemed, invisibly joined in union with Christ by his indwelling Spirit, whether they come to him through Orthodoxy (as you have, it seems (I say that, only because you rightly say that in the final analysis only God knows who is saved, not because I imply any doubt on my part of your salvation)), through Methodism (as I did), and so on.
Emphasis mine


I'm going to sleep on this tonight, as it is getting late.  But I would love to see responses to the question.  Anyone wanna take a stab at it?

God bless!
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« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2009, 01:12:30 AM »

Does such a thing exist in the first place?

This is easy:

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

The belief in one true church is mandated by the universal creed of all Christians.  After that, it's simply an issue deciding which church that is.  It is either the Roman Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, or the Assyrian Church of the East.  I think that covers all of the surviving apostolic communions; correct me if I am wrong.
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« Reply #2 on: January 20, 2009, 02:22:41 AM »

Does such a thing exist in the first place?

This is easy:

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

The belief in one true church is mandated by the universal creed of all Christians.  After that, it's simply an issue deciding which church that is.  It is either the Roman Catholic Church, the Oriental Orthodox, the Eastern Orthodox, or the Assyrian Church of the East.  I think that covers all of the surviving apostolic communions; correct me if I am wrong.

No, just about.  The Protestant ones, and now it seems most of the "Old Catholic" have committed suicide.

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« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2009, 12:05:20 PM »

For those of us who have retained the apostolic communion, this is, indeed, an easy question.  When addressing the question with non-apostolic communions, though, we have to remember that the Creed was written in 325 at Nicea (and completed at Constantinople).  So for the churches who believe in sola scriptura and have rejected everything outside of the NT (I was going to write "anything after about 150 a.d.," but considering many of the fathers wrote prior to that, the date doesn't work, since they reject those fathers as well), the Creed which we hold so dear means nothing to them.  So for the sake of discussing with them, what do we say?

And to our resident Protestants, I would like to ask, how do you support your claim that there is no true church, but that all Christians constitute the church?
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« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2009, 12:41:03 PM »

For those of us who have retained the apostolic communion, this is, indeed, an easy question.  When addressing the question with non-apostolic communions, though, we have to remember that the Creed was written in 325 at Nicea (and completed at Constantinople).  So for the churches who believe in sola scriptura and have rejected everything outside of the NT (I was going to write "anything after about 150 a.d.," but considering many of the fathers wrote prior to that, the date doesn't work, since they reject those fathers as well), the Creed which we hold so dear means nothing to them.  So for the sake of discussing with them, what do we say?

And to our resident Protestants, I would like to ask, how do you support your claim that there is no true church, but that all Christians constitute the church?

Why stop at Christians?  Muslims claim to be the true followers of Christ.  And plenty of Protestants promote the idea that the Jews have their own special deal going on, an idea welcome on the Jewish spectrum from atheist to ultra-Orthodox.
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« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2009, 01:12:45 PM »

For those of us who have retained the apostolic communion, this is, indeed, an easy question.  When addressing the question with non-apostolic communions, though, we have to remember that the Creed was written in 325 at Nicea (and completed at Constantinople).  So for the churches who believe in sola scriptura and have rejected everything outside of the NT (I was going to write "anything after about 150 a.d.," but considering many of the fathers wrote prior to that, the date doesn't work, since they reject those fathers as well), the Creed which we hold so dear means nothing to them.  So for the sake of discussing with them, what do we say?

And to our resident Protestants, I would like to ask, how do you support your claim that there is no true church, but that all Christians constitute the church?

I think that perhaps some, like my own pastor, feel that truly all of the believers who hold to orthodox (small "o") tennants (and in truth my church's doctrinal statement reflects more of the Nicene Creed than we'd care to admit rather than reflecting proof texts from our sola scriptura stance) and who apply orthopraxy (because even the demons believe...)- these people represent the "invisible" body of Christ, united by these orthodox beliefs. Thus in a sense there is some supra-demoninational thing going on here- we have our in-fighting- but we are united in an overall inclusive sense. With that a protestant might see and say he is as much a part of the Church as is an Orthodox Chirstian. So with that we side-step the issue of the "harem" that ialmisry brings up... it may not be a pretty way of doing it.

Now... I'm saying this, not to neccessarily say I'm in total agreement with that reasoning; hopefully just to offer a possible explaination.
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2009, 02:14:00 PM »

Quote
But I would love to see responses to the question.  Anyone wanna take a stab at it?

I tried in the last few threads about roughly the same subject matter...

One True Church?
We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
Is There Salvation Outside of Orthodoxy?
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 02:20:27 PM by Asteriktos » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2009, 03:57:00 PM »

Christ did not incarnate in an 'invisible/abstract/undefined/illusionary' body. He was incarnate as a specific human being, in a single, defined physical body, in a specific space and time. While in that specific, defined, circumscribable human body, He established His Church and gave His apostles authority to organize and spread it--which they did as a specific, defined, and identifiable community. 

If John Smith says, "I will start my business", do we assume that he actually means he will set up a specific business ("John Smith Industries, ltd") or that he is referring to an abstract concept such that anyone, anywhere, at anytime can set up an organization that shares some essential philosophies or practices with the original and that all such organizations constitute "John Smith Industries, ltd".? Or do we recognize that "Ted Smith Industries", "Smith Productions", "Smitt Industries", etc may be very close imitations of 'John Smith Industries, ltd' but are not the company John Smith said he would set up (and did, complete with designation of administrators after He Himself moved on).
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2009, 05:54:52 PM »

Christ did not incarnate in an 'invisible/abstract/undefined/illusionary' body. He was incarnate as a specific human being, in a single, defined physical body, in a specific space and time. While in that specific, defined, circumscribable human body, He established His Church and gave His apostles authority to organize and spread it--which they did as a specific, defined, and identifiable community. 

If John Smith says, "I will start my business", do we assume that he actually means he will set up a specific business ("John Smith Industries, ltd") or that he is referring to an abstract concept such that anyone, anywhere, at anytime can set up an organization that shares some essential philosophies or practices with the original and that all such organizations constitute "John Smith Industries, ltd".? Or do we recognize that "Ted Smith Industries", "Smith Productions", "Smitt Industries", etc may be very close imitations of 'John Smith Industries, ltd' but are not the company John Smith said he would set up (and did, complete with designation of administrators after He Himself moved on).

Excellent point!
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« Reply #9 on: January 24, 2009, 07:06:48 AM »

In discussing the nature of the true church, I think there are some things we should agree to set aside as not really germane to the discussion.

Some who post refer often to Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals. The former are clearly a sect, not a Christian church of any sort; the latter are modalists, Sabellians, a heresy rejected long ago by the early church.

Also, we probably all use the word “church” in non-theological ways, in ordinary conversation, just as any English speaker would. “John goes to church every Sunday.” “There is a church on the corner of our street.” “The Church should speak out against moral corruption.”

We are not, on this thread, discussing sects, revived ancient heresies, or common English parlance. We are comparing the ways in which Orthodox and Protestants conceive the true church. What is the true church of Jesus Christ?

Our view, as Protestants, is based very much on the pattern of Acts 2.37-42:

Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” So those who received his word were baptised… and they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

We can, I think, include true faith in the reference to repentance (no-one repents towards a god he doesn’t believe in). So first of all, a true church is made up of believers. Here is a quotation:

“The beginning of the spiritual life is conversion, an attitude of the will turning towards God and renouncing the world… The soul which is not transformed by repentance does not know grace.”

Those are from Vladimir Lossky’s “Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church” (pp. 199-205).

Then these people are baptised. We should leave aside the question of whether it is licit to baptise the infant children of Christian parents, for there is a thread devoted to that discussion. Let us rather, for the sake of adhering clearly to the theme of this thread, allow that both infant and believers’ baptisms are acceptable variants of the rite, and create baptised believers.

These believers then meet together regularly in the place where they live for the apostles’ teaching (which will be imparted in various ways including preaching to the congregation), for the various forms of ongoing fellowship (worship, spiritual conversation, mutual love and care and so on), the Lord’s Supper, and prayer together. They form a body (the body of Christ where they are).

Such a body is a true Christian church.

At least, it is the ideal, the goal we all aim for. But I suspect it is seldom achieved. In reality, such a body will attract people who come for a variety of reasons and motives, and some will have the form of godliness but deny its power. Some will be Christian in name only. “Kings or patriarchs, bishops or priests, princes or servants, seculars or monks, all are equally in the shadows and walk in darkness, unless they are willing to repent as they ought to do. For repentance is the gate which leads from the realm of darkness into that of light,” to quote Lossky again (p. 219). Nonetheless, such a body, aiming to conform to the pattern of Acts 2, is a true Christian church.

Then there is the catholic church, perhaps better called universal church. This consists of all the redeemed, who are united to Christ individually through their faith by the Holy Spirit, will be united to Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb following the close of this age. These will have come in via Orthodoxy, Methodism, Catholicism, Waldenses, Brethren, Pentecostals etc etc. Some will even have been Baptists in this age! No-one can see with the eye who these are: God alone truly knows those who are his. So it is sometimes called “the invisible church.”

This explains, I think why we have no conception of any organisation being “the one true church”.

Such is our view.
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« Reply #10 on: January 24, 2009, 09:29:41 AM »

Jesus said himself that we the Church are a City on a Hill,meaning we are clearly visible to the world,just as a City has stucture,a government,laws,etc. so does the Church,yes there are invisible aspects of our faith,our union,etc., we are clearly seen for others to see.
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« Reply #11 on: January 24, 2009, 11:58:16 AM »

In discussing the nature of the true church, I think there are some things we should agree to set aside as not really germane to the discussion.

Some who post refer often to Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals. The former are clearly a sect...
I don't know.  I think I see this as germane.  A sect is a dissenting or schismatic religious body.  How can that not be relevant to a discussion about the possibility of one true church?  We call what happened in the 11th century the Great Schism.  Regardless of what one believes existed prior, it's impossible to conclude that what existed afterward was one true church.

If you wish to argue that Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. are all truly Christ's churches (which I believe is the gist of your argument, but correct me if I'm wrong), then the logical extension of that is that any body can have a valid claim as one of Christ's churches.  By what objective criterion do you conclude that Mormonism is a sect?  And that it does not have a just claim as one of Christ's churches?
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« Reply #12 on: January 24, 2009, 12:17:12 PM »

In discussing the nature of the true church, I think there are some things we should agree to set aside as not really germane to the discussion.

Some who post refer often to Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals. The former are clearly a sect...
I don't know.  I think I see this as germane.  A sect is a dissenting or schismatic religious body.  How can that not be relevant to a discussion about the possibility of one true church?  We call what happened in the 11th century the Great Schism.  Regardless of what one believes existed prior, it's impossible to conclude that what existed afterward was one true church.

If you wish to argue that Orthodoxy, Catholicism, Protestantism, etc. are all truly Christ's churches (which I believe is the gist of your argument, but correct me if I'm wrong), then the logical extension of that is that any body can have a valid claim as one of Christ's churches.  By what objective criterion do you conclude that Mormonism is a sect?  And that it does not have a just claim as one of Christ's churches?

I have to agree with this, actually.  Because while we may say that Mormonism is a sect, they would not agree, I'm sure.  The entire purpose of the one true church is to preserve in perfection what Christ taught.  Each time a "denomination" broke away from it's parent in favor of a new teaching, the product was farther and farther and farther from the Truth which Christ taught.  While yes, Mormonism is on the fringes, just this side of occult, they still adhere to what they believe the Bible is teaching (with the help of the Book of Mormon).  They see themselves as having corrected heresies and come into the truth... sounds a lot like mainstream Protestants.  The question in my mind is who decides what is valid?  Jehovah's Witnesses and Baptists, for example, are worlds apart.  And each calls the other invalid.  Yet both use the same "objective" criterion to judge their validity... the Bible.  So who is correct?  It's all a matter of interpretation of the words of the Bible.  Jehovah's Witnesses say their interpretation is correct.  Baptists say theirs is correct.  And when one points out the other's heresies, the accused heretical group offers more words from the Bible to justify their argument!  So who is it?  We can't just say, "well, Jehovah's Witnesses have clearly corrupted Christ's teaching," without offering objective criterion. 


Quote
These believers then meet together regularly in the place where they live for the apostles’ teaching (which will be imparted in various ways including preaching to the congregation), for the various forms of ongoing fellowship (worship, spiritual conversation, mutual love and care and so on), the Lord’s Supper, and prayer together. They form a body (the body of Christ where they are).

Such a body is a true Christian church

It seems to me that, by the criterion offered by David Young in this quote, even Jehovah's Witnesses would qualify as Christ's Church, since they themselves believe that their teachings regarding Christ (as derived from the Bible) are correct.
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« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2009, 02:38:38 PM »

I have to agree with this, actually.  Because while we may say that Mormonism is a sect, they would not agree, I'm sure.  The entire purpose of the one true church is to preserve in perfection what Christ taught.  Each time a "denomination" broke away from it's parent in favor of a new teaching, the product was farther and farther and farther from the Truth which Christ taught.  While yes, Mormonism is on the fringes, just this side of occult, they still adhere to what they believe the Bible is teaching (with the help of the Book of Mormon).  They see themselves as having corrected heresies and come into the truth... sounds a lot like mainstream Protestants.  The question in my mind is who decides what is valid?  Jehovah's Witnesses and Baptists, for example, are worlds apart.  And each calls the other invalid.  Yet both use the same "objective" criterion to judge their validity... the Bible.  So who is correct?  It's all a matter of interpretation of the words of the Bible.  Jehovah's Witnesses say their interpretation is correct.  Baptists say theirs is correct.  And when one points out the other's heresies, the accused heretical group offers more words from the Bible to justify their argument!  So who is it?  We can't just say, "well, Jehovah's Witnesses have clearly corrupted Christ's teaching," without offering objective criterion.

Have the teachings of the Orthodox Church been corrupted to the point that the Orthodox Church of today bears no resemblance to the Orthodox Church of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 years ago?  By implicitly saying that the Orthodox Church is not the True Church opens the door for everyone else to say that they are the True Church.
 
Quote
These believers then meet together regularly in the place where they live for the apostles’ teaching (which will be imparted in various ways including preaching to the congregation), for the various forms of ongoing fellowship (worship, spiritual conversation, mutual love and care and so on), the Lord’s Supper, and prayer together. They form a body (the body of Christ where they are).
Such a body is a true Christian church

It seems to me that, by the criterion offered by David Young in this quote, even Jehovah's Witnesses would qualify as Christ's Church, since they themselves believe that their teachings regarding Christ (as derived from the Bible) are correct.

I'll keep the above words in perspective when I see empty pews at an Orthodox Church because any Church can call itself Christ's Church....
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« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2009, 06:43:53 PM »

1) By what objective criterion do you conclude that Mormonism is a sect?  And that it does not have a just claim as one of Christ's churches?

2) Each time a "denomination" broke away from it's parent in favor of a new teaching, the product was farther and farther and farther from the Truth which Christ taught. 

3) Jehovah's Witnesses and Baptists, for example, are worlds apart.  And each calls the other invalid.  Yet both use the same "objective" criterion to judge their validity... the Bible.  So who is correct? 

1) To answer this really appropriately, I should have to read up on Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses and discover a good deal more than I actually know about them. But in fact I suspect we all agree that such bodies are not really the only true church, so we'd really only end up knowing more about we already agree on.

We're back to where we got to under 'sola scriptura': what is the "all truth" into which the Holy Spirit led the Church? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Nicene and the Apostles' Creeds are usually taken as the basis for what true Christians agree on. We all believe a lot more than was included in those, but - without doing my further research into the sects - I think we all subscribe to what is in them. It is my impression that the sects do not.

2) We've been here before too! Without studying the beliefs of every denomination, I'd lay a wager (if I were a betting man) that denominations don't usually break away "in favor of a new teaching", but rather in a genuine attempt to recover lost teaching. Certainly this was the aim of the Reformers: whether they succeeded or not is a different discussion; but let us at least grant them their motivation.

3) As far as I know, the Jehovah's Witnesses use their own "New World" translation of the Bible, which alters the verses they do not agree with. Baptists until recently used the King James version, and later many used the Revised Standard Version. Today a lot use the New International Version. These are not confined to one denomination. I believe we all (Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox) strive to use translations which are faithful to the meaning of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew originals. The JWs have had to concoct their own version (I believe) to avoid the Christian teaching in any version Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox would use.

If one wants to discuss whether the sects have any claim to be Christian churches, it probably ought to be a separate thread - maybe already is. Really, what we are (I think) examining here is whether Holy Orthodoxy is the one true church, or whether the pattern I drew (correctly or mistakenly) from Acts 2 allows us to include Evangelical churches as true churches, and as part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church in which we all profess to believe.
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« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2009, 07:04:18 PM »

in the 11th century the Great Schism... it's impossible to conclude that what existed afterward was one true church.

Thus far we agree. But there are two conclusions:

1) one half of the split remained the only true church (Orthodox answer)

2) there isn't such a thing as the only true church (Evangelical answer, if we mean an identifiable unified organisation).

After 1054 we agree; we could go back further and discuss Waldenses or Donatists if we wished. It would make no difference to the principle. What your post says is true - but it doesn't reach an answer to the question which this thread is about.
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2009, 07:21:55 PM »

saying that the Orthodox Church is not the True Church opens the door for everyone else to say that they are the True Church.

It does; but it also open the door to saying that such an organisation does not exist - that the true church, which will spend eternity with the Lord, is made up of all the redeemed from all the denominations. This Bride will be united to him at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Let me give you an imperfect example. A week ago I was invited to speak at the evening service of a Pentecostal church. It was a very strange experience, and my human mind was silently asking such questions as, "How can this be worship of the Lord?" When the service was over - some 1½ hours after it began - coffee and biscuits were served in a downstairs room, and I fell to fairly long conversation with the pastor and others in the congregation, including those with whom I stayed the night. There was no doubt at all that these people enjoy 'like precious faith' with me and my Baptists here at home. Now, Baptists and Pentecostals aren't that far apart, which is why I say it is an imperfect example. Baptists and Orthodox are a good deal further apart, if only because separated by a considerably longer period of unconnected development. Nonetheless, reading posts and Private Messages from this forum, and reading Orthodox books as well as the some of early Greek Fathers, I find at the core of it all the same 'like precious faith'. This is why I put quotations from Lossky, Bulgakov, Hopko, and others in what I write. It seems to me (without making myself my own pope) that the Lord has redeemed some of you, and people here at my local Baptist church, and people at the Pentecostal church of last weekend, various Catholics I have met or read, and so on; and that we all are members of his true church and have our names written in the Lamb's book of life.

That is what we say the true church is. It includes some Orthodox, some Baptists, etc etc, and excludes other Orthodox and Baptists &c &c, for some have this 'like precious faith' (as it is somewhere written) and others, though nominally members of our churches, have never entered 'the gates of grace', as one of your own writers has it.
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« Reply #17 on: January 25, 2009, 12:06:44 AM »

I see that you haven't included anybody outside of Christianity. That means that you have yourself created a church because you only believe Christians can only be saved. I hope you see now that we believe the same thing. Except that our church isn't as broad as yours. Wink
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2009, 12:41:23 AM »

I see that you haven't included anybody outside of Christianity. That means that you have yourself created a church because you only believe Christians can only be saved. I hope you see now that we believe the same thing. Except that our church isn't as broad as yours. Wink

The truth of the matter is that even those outside of Christianity can be saved.

The late Christos Androutsos, professor of Dogmatics, used to say that Orthodoxy is the only sure path for salvation. It is not the only path for salvation, but it is the only safe road.
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2009, 03:08:32 AM »

saying that the Orthodox Church is not the True Church opens the door for everyone else to say that they are the True Church.

It does; but it also open the door to saying that such an organisation does not exist - that the true church, which will spend eternity with the Lord, is made up of all the redeemed from all the denominations. This Bride will be united to him at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Yet, the Orthodox Church does not have any readings from Revelation, not even the letters from Christ to the 7 Churches.  Many sects have exploited Revelation to predict the End of the World.  These sects call themselves the Church of Christ and come up with all sorts of ideas already discussed in other threads on this board.   Smiley

Let me give you an imperfect example. A week ago I was invited to speak at the evening service of a Pentecostal church. It was a very strange experience, and my human mind was silently asking such questions as, "How can this be worship of the Lord?"

Do you ask yourself the same question at your own worship services?

When the service was over - some 1½ hours after it began - coffee and biscuits were served in a downstairs room, and I fell to fairly long conversation with the pastor and others in the congregation, including those with whom I stayed the night. There was no doubt at all that these people enjoy 'like precious faith' with me and my Baptists here at home. Now, Baptists and Pentecostals aren't that far apart, which is why I say it is an imperfect example.

"Like Precious Faith" - I suppose they are glad that there is no Hierarch to watch over them besides Christ ... wait a minute, He ascended into Heaven.

Baptists and Orthodox are a good deal further apart, if only because separated by a considerably longer period of unconnected development.

"Unconnected Development"  While St. John Chrysostom was inventing the Divine Liturgy in the 4th Century AD, the Germanic tribes were looting and pillaging their way across Europe.  I'll agree with that assessment.   Wink

Nonetheless, reading posts and Private Messages from this forum, and reading Orthodox books as well as the some of early Greek Fathers, I find at the core of it all the same 'like precious faith'. This is why I put quotations from Lossky, Bulgakov, Hopko, and others in what I write. It seems to me (without making myself my own pope) that the Lord has redeemed some of you, and people here at my local Baptist church, and people at the Pentecostal church of last weekend, various Catholics I have met or read, and so on; and that we all are members of his true church and have our names written in the Lamb's book of life.

If you feel that way, suit yourself.  If you are quoting Orthodox authors to persuade Orthodox peoples on your missionary assignments that your theology is more superior than existing theology, you will realize that such use of Orthodox authors will only take you so far before you ultimately wind up with an Orthodox mindset that the same writers you describe have.

That is what we say the true church is. It includes some Orthodox, some Baptists, etc etc, and excludes other Orthodox and Baptists &c &c, for some have this 'like precious faith' (as it is somewhere written) and others, though nominally members of our churches, have never entered 'the gates of grace', as one of your own writers has it.

How can you say with any authority who has been saved and who hasn't?   Huh
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« Reply #20 on: January 25, 2009, 06:25:23 AM »

you only believe Christians can only be saved.

We believe that those who hear the Gospel and reject it, dying in that rejection, are lost. It is debatable whether those who have had no opportunity to hear or read the Gospel, but who live moral, God-fearing lives, will be in the Kingdom. This is one of those unrevealed mysteries known only to God and not dealt with in scripture. Our task, of course, is not to speculate on the minority of such people who lived before Christ came, or for some other reason have never been exposed to the Gospel; not to speculate on them, but to "preach the Gospel to every creature", trusting God and leaving the unrevealed mysteries to him.
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2009, 06:38:42 AM »

Do you ask yourself the same question at your own worship services?

No. I am aware that I cannot look on the heart, and my point was that some forms of service are obviously worship, which can be discerned from the words addressed to the Almighty in liturgy, prayer, hymnody, coupled with a reverent attitude. (Only God knows who is saying or singing them with sincerity and faith.) The form of service at the Pentecostal was so alien to me that I had to remind myself that the heart is known only to God: I could not extract from what they were saying and doing that it was worship. I was puzzled. Then (as my point and post continued) when I got into one-to-one conversation at length with some of them afterwards, there was no doubt of their sincerity and the truth of their faith. So I had to silently rebuke myself and remind myself to leave such matters to God, who is the only One who knows.

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in the 4th Century AD, the Germanic tribes were looting and pillaging their way across Europe. 

Indeed we were. God has been wonderfully merciful to us.

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If you are quoting Orthodox authors to persuade Orthodox peoples ... that your theology is more superior than existing theology, you will realize that such use of Orthodox authors will only take you so far before you ultimately wind up with an Orthodox mindset

No: I quote them because what they say is true and edifying. As far as winding up with an Orthodox mindset, I began a thread on this board plainly saying I have joined in order to learn both for my own benefit and for that of those to whom I sometimes give teaching, preaching or writing.

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How can you say with any authority who has been saved and who hasn't?   

I can't. There is often a prompt recognition among Christians who meet for the first time as strangers that "this person knows and loves the same Lord as I do": if you like, a family likeness which transcends age, nationality, education, or culture. It is often possible to be fairly sure of who is saved; of others it is often easy to be sure they are not (murderers, rapists, blasphemers...). But you rightly observe that there are very many whose state is known only to God.
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2009, 07:14:04 AM »

in the 4th Century AD, the Germanic tribes were looting and pillaging their way across Europe. 

Indeed we were. God has been wonderfully merciful to us.
Indeed. My priest often says of those of us of Irish and German heritage, that the Church was thriving in some parts of the world while our ancestors were still worshiping trees, and now God has chosen the descendants of these tree-worshipers to build His Church in the Ozarks. How strange and wonderful are His ways, and His paths beyond searching.


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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2009, 03:22:33 PM »

No. I am aware that I cannot look on the heart, and my point was that some forms of service are obviously worship, which can be discerned from the words addressed to the Almighty in liturgy, prayer, hymnody, coupled with a reverent attitude. (Only God knows who is saying or singing them with sincerity and faith.) The form of service at the Pentecostal was so alien to me that I had to remind myself that the heart is known only to God: I could not extract from what they were saying and doing that it was worship. I was puzzled. Then (as my point and post continued) when I got into one-to-one conversation at length with some of them afterwards, there was no doubt of their sincerity and the truth of their faith. So I had to silently rebuke myself and remind myself to leave such matters to God, who is the only One who knows.

David,

While it is true that only God knows who will enter His kingdom, regardless of what denomination they ascribe to, what we DO know is that the Orthodox Church is the Church that Christ and Apostles set up on Earth. We have the documented history to prove it.

In October of 2007 my friend Jenn and I had the pleasure of taking a one week trip to Ireland. We had an amazing time! We drove all over the country. On the last part of our journey we had to drive from a town just outside Limerick (on the West side of the isle) to Waterford (on the South East side of the Isle) to Dublin (North East) all in one day. It was a loong drive.

Now, if Jenn had said to me, "Maureen, I think I am going to take another car and just drive my own way without any maps or GPS devices," I would have told her she was crazy. While there was a chance that she could have gotten to our destinations by just pointing the car in the general direction of our destination, there was also a very good chance she'd get lost on a round-about or get stuck in a sheep pasture on the way. (If anyone has ever been to Ireland, you know that this is a very real possibility!  Cheesy )

I had the maps and I had the GPS device. It would have been insane for Jenn to try to make the voyage on her own.

It's the same thing with those outside the Church. Yeah, there's a chance that they may end up in heaven, but why run the risk of getting stuck on a round-about when you know someone who has the map?

Also, while I know plenty of Protestants and Catholics who are sincere in their faith for the Lord, I also believe that the devil is at work in these "churches" to distract them from the truth. While I am not naive to think that the devil doesn't try to interfere with the Orthodox Church, I also know that even if a priest or a Bishop runs astray, the teachings of the Church are true.

In the Protestant sects, since so much is dependant on the faith of the preacher, if he falls astray, what happens to the flock?

Last summer in Atlanta, a pastor at one of the LARGEST mega churches in the area was brought up on charges of financial scandel and sexual misconduct. The entire church fell apart after that. The school, everything associated with the church just fell apart. It was sad.

It's not that the Orthodox Church believes that God's grace isn't at work outside of the Church. We can't put God in a box. We just know that His grace IS at work INSIDE the Church.

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2009, 03:43:27 PM »

Indeed we were. God has been wonderfully merciful to us.

God hasn't been merciful to Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and other branches of Protestantism?

No: I quote them because what they say is true and edifying.

Your own scholars haven't written anything on par with the Orthodox scholars you cite?

As far as winding up with an Orthodox mindset, I began a thread on this board plainly saying I have joined in order to learn both for my own benefit and for that of those to whom I sometimes give teaching, preaching or writing.

The Divine Liturgy has a passage asking to bless all which is good and beneficial to us.  Many people misinterpret that passage to imply blessing for all ulterior motives like: financial gain, secular power, success with the opposite sex, well behaved children, obedient pets, well maintained expensive automobiles, et al.; However, like the Parable of the 10 Lepers which was read on Sunday 1/18, only one healed Leper, a Samaritan, came back to Christ and thanked Him for the gift of healing while the other 9 supposedly went among their business.  Do you give thanks to Christ for how many Orthodox are converted to the Baptist faith?

I can't. There is often a prompt recognition among Christians who meet for the first time as strangers that "this person knows and loves the same Lord as I do": if you like, a family likeness which transcends age, nationality, education, or culture. It is often possible to be fairly sure of who is saved; of others it is often easy to be sure they are not (murderers, rapists, blasphemers...). But you rightly observe that there are very many whose state is known only to God.

So, you conclude that people who are incarcerated for murder, rape or other crimes are outside of the Lord's Salvation?  As for blasphemers, are they also outside the Lord's Salvation?  A lot of people in Albania have been in spiritual prison for decades due to the previous political climate.  Does your ministry serve as visitation to those who have been imprisoned due to political circumstances beyond their control?  Before your missionary organization showed up in Albania, were the people of Albania beyond the Lord's Salvation like the murderer, rapist or blasphemer?
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« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2009, 05:42:20 PM »


1) To answer this really appropriately, I should have to read up on Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses and discover a good deal more than I actually know about them. But in fact I suspect we all agree that such bodies are not really the only true church, so we'd really only end up knowing more about we already agree on.
The point is this... you say YOU have to read up on those two sects... to do what?  To judge whether or not they are truly "the church" as they claim to be.  I, on the other hand, need to do no such thing, as their claims are invalid simply because they are outside of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Orthodox Church, and because I won't judge anything... the Church, in Her great wisdom, has judged that they are not, in fact the Church.  The criterion for conclusion within Orthodoxy is adhering to the faith and dogma of the Orthodox Church, as was preserved and handed down from Christ Himself, and coming under the apostolic succession that She holds.  The criterion has NOTHING to do with what I think of their theology.  So yes, we may agree that they are sects, but for two TOTALLY different reasons (which is the point).  You conclude they are a sect because what you know of their theology is not in line with what you believe to be proper Christianity.  I conclude they are a sect because of the two reasons I gave above.  Completely different-- one relies on YOUR judgment, the other on the judgment of the entirety of the Church.  Another example of Protestants being "popes unto themselves."

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We're back to where we got to under 'sola scriptura': what is the "all truth" into which the Holy Spirit led the Church? Correct me if I am wrong, but I think the Nicene and the Apostles' Creeds are usually taken as the basis for what true Christians agree on. We all believe a lot more than was included in those, but - without doing my further research into the sects - I think we all subscribe to what is in them. It is my impression that the sects do not.
Funny you should mention the Nicene Creed... one of the keystones of Orthodox Holy Tradition.  How is it that a Sola Scriptura Protestant adheres to the Nicene Constinopolitan Creed, written in 325 ad... by all those fathers you categorically reject (like St. Spyridon, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasios the Great...).  It was written WAY after Ignatius of Antioch, WAY after all those other fathers we discussed in the other threads.  And the fathers that wrote it were STRICT adherents of Orthodoxy (which included the writings of Ignatius and the like).  So you accept it, but reject other things they taught?  This isn't Sola Scriptura, my friend.  It is picking and choosing what one wants to believe.  And, by the way, when it says, "One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church," it is NOT speaking of "Christians" or "Christianity" across denominations.  It is speaking of THE One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church... the Orthodox Church.  If "true Christians" agree on this, then "true Christians" should be Orthodox.  Can't have it both ways, I'm afraid.

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2) We've been here before too! Without studying the beliefs of every denomination, I'd lay a wager (if I were a betting man) that denominations don't usually break away "in favor of a new teaching", but rather in a genuine attempt to recover lost teaching. Certainly this was the aim of the Reformers: whether they succeeded or not is a different discussion; but let us at least grant them their motivation.
I'll take your wager and raise you!  Smiley 
You are certainly a more trusting person than I.  I have NO faith that they break away in a "genuine attempt" to recover lost teaching.  Why?  Because it is prideful to think that any individual knows better than the entire Church (such as Arius thought he knew correctly, such as Luther thought he knew correctly, etc), and as ialmisry said above, Christ does NOT keep a harem.  The evil one has his hands all over that.

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3) As far as I know, the Jehovah's Witnesses use their own "New World" translation of the Bible, which alters the verses they do not agree with. Baptists until recently used the King James version, and later many used the Revised Standard Version. Today a lot use the New International Version. These are not confined to one denomination. I believe we all (Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox) strive to use translations which are faithful to the meaning of the Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew originals. The JWs have had to concoct their own version (I believe) to avoid the Christian teaching in any version Protestant, Catholic or Orthodox would use.
From where do you think they translated?  There is only ONE original Bible, untranslated.  It's the Greek.  Every "translation" has to come from that.  So while yes, they use their own version, they had to have taken it from somewhere.  The point is, they are publishing what THEY believe to be the correct translation, and from it preaching what they believe to be the correct faith (the same as you believe about the translation you use and the faith you preach).  Where do you draw the line?  The loosy-goosy (as my Grandmother would have said) criteria of "well they SEEM to have faith," and "well I think we can agree that they're not in line with us" leave WAY too much room for all kinds of horrible teachings to creep in.

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If one wants to discuss whether the sects have any claim to be Christian churches, it probably ought to be a separate thread - maybe already is. Really, what we are (I think) examining here is whether Holy Orthodoxy is the one true church, or whether the pattern I drew (correctly or mistakenly) from Acts 2 allows us to include Evangelical churches as true churches, and as part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church in which we all profess to believe.
The point is, you say "sects."  We say (and please, no offense is meant) that ANYTHING outside of Holy Orthodoxy is essentially the same-- heretical.  Why?  Because the pure and perfect teachings of Christ through His Church have been watered down, wittled away, to wrong belief.  It doesn't matter if that wrong belief is seemingly innocent or unimportant (such as the loss of infant baptism), or as huge as denying the very deity of Christ and His place in the Undivided Trinity (as is the case with Mormons and JW's).  They ALL have implications much greater-- about the nature, the greatness, the glory of God.  They are ALL outside of Orthodoxy.  So we view them as the same, essentially.
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« Reply #26 on: January 25, 2009, 06:12:34 PM »

We just know that His grace IS at work INSIDE the Church.

Which I don't deny for a moment.

Just wondering, musing: do you know this, not because of the Church where you have experienced grace, but because it is there that you have found the Lord? Or rather, that he has found you? You see, it's a good argument for you to remain where you are (which I am not trying to persuade you not to do). But as I look back over the past 45 years or so since I 'found Christ' or better he 'found me' within an Evangelical context, the argument works equally well for me.

In fact I actually put it some on a thread weeks or months ago: that I feel able and right to remain in Evangelicalism because looking back over the centuries (not many, I know!) I see God there in so many ways, in so many lives. I think I said the argument works "ad hominem": it keeps each of us where we have that inner, God-given and blessed assurance, so impossible to describe to someone who lacks it, that here I find God.
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« Reply #27 on: January 25, 2009, 06:28:28 PM »

God hasn't been merciful to Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and other branches of Protestantism?

The reference was to pre-Christian Germanic tribes, not to churches.

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Your own scholars haven't written anything on par with the Orthodox scholars you cite?

Yes: I often quote them too. But some Orthodox writers have emphases I have not previously discovered in Evangelical writers.

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Do you give thanks to Christ for how many Orthodox are converted to the Baptist faith?

I don't know of any. I would give thanks for any merely nominal Orthodox who found a living faith in a Baptist context, as I would give thanks for any merely nominal Baptist who came to the same experience. The aim is not to make Baptists of people, but to see people knowing Christ.

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So, you conclude that people who are incarcerated for murder, rape or other crimes are outside of the Lord's Salvation?  As for blasphemers, are they also outside the Lord's Salvation? ... Before your missionary organization showed up in Albania, were the people of Albania beyond the Lord's Salvation like the murderer, rapist or blasphemer?

If they have committed these sins - and we are all sinners - they need to repent and turn to God, as we all do, whatever our sins. Your own writers say that with great clarity. None is beyond the call to repentance and faith. Jesus said he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. But they are not saved without that conversion.

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Does your ministry serve as visitation to those who have been imprisoned due to political circumstances beyond their control? 

Not specifically, for they are now happily released and back in society, scattered here and there with their homes, families and friends. We do do prison visiting, when a governor allows us. People who were imprisoned for political reasons often need healing of the mind and emotions, to which of course Christian faith contributes significantly; but people who now need help in coming to terms with their experiences under Communism are just as likely to be those who avoided prison and obeyed the régime - like former schoolteachers who were ordered to lead their pupils in demolishing a church and now wonder God will ever forgive them. (Of course he will if they turn to him, but they need to hear that comfort and that assurance of the promised acceptance. "Him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.")
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« Reply #28 on: January 25, 2009, 06:50:05 PM »

read up on those two sects... to do what?  To judge whether or not they are truly "the church" ... Another example of Protestants being "popes unto themselves."

Come! That's not fair. You asked by what criterion I would know they are not a Christian church, and I said I should need to find out more about them to give a proper answer. That's not calling myself Benedict XVII. It's only saying I can't give a detailed answer as to what makes them not-Christian without more information about their dogmas.

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all those fathers you categorically reject (like St. Spyridon, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasios the Great...). 

I know nothing of St Nicholas; St Spyridon is a figure much loved in Corfu and is, I believe, their patron saint, but beyond that I know nothing about him. Not knowing about them is not the same as categorical rejection. Athanasius I have at home and have read with pleasure.

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The Nicene Creed ... This isn't Sola Scriptura,

But it doesn't contradict scripture, does it? Why should we not accept it as a brief and succinct statement of genuine Christian belief?

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There is only ONE original Bible, untranslated.  It's the Greek. 

I think the LXX is a translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic original, plus additional books written in Greek. Am I mistaken here?
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« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2009, 08:09:52 PM »

read up on those two sects... to do what?  To judge whether or not they are truly "the church" ... Another example of Protestants being "popes unto themselves."

Come! That's not fair. You asked by what criterion I would know they are not a Christian church, and I said I should need to find out more about them to give a proper answer. That's not calling myself Benedict XVII. It's only saying I can't give a detailed answer as to what makes them not-Christian without more information about their dogmas.

I didn't mean that as a personal attack.  I apologize.  My point was that you are making the determination, you are making the decision, you are judging that, in your opinion, they are not the Church (this is the same of ANY Protestant, not just you).  I, as an Orthodox Christian, need not know anything about their theology.  The Church of Christ (the Orthodox Church) has determined, in Her wisdom, that those sects are NOT the Church of Christ (otherwise they would be a part of the fold).  This is all I need to know.  It is not subject to my opinion.  I have no opinion.  Only obedience to Christ's Church.

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all those fathers you categorically reject (like St. Spyridon, St. Nicholas, St. Athanasios the Great...). 

I know nothing of St Nicholas; St Spyridon is a figure much loved in Corfu and is, I believe, their patron saint, but beyond that I know nothing about him. Not knowing about them is not the same as categorical rejection. Athanasius I have at home and have read with pleasure.
If Protestants did not categorically reject the fathers, the reading of them would be everyday practice, and the theology of the Protestant churches would be in line with what they write.  As I said, it's not pick and choose for us.  We accept the collective voice of the fathers.  Protestants do not.  We don't read them simply for pleasure.  We read them for instruction, inspiration, guidance... Protestants, as a whole, do not.


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The Nicene Creed ... This isn't Sola Scriptura,

But it doesn't contradict scripture, does it? Why should we not accept it as a brief and succinct statement of genuine Christian belief?
But you are picking and choosing according to your opinion.  That's the point.  The collective voice of the fathers DOES NOT contradict Scripture.  NONE of Orthodoxy contradicts Scripture.  So why reject Orthodoxy? 
By your (Protestants') account, the veneration ALONE of the Fathers, the keeping of the Saints, contradicts Scripture!  So why, then would you accept something they wrote?  It's picking and choosing... I judge that this is in line with what I believe (according to how I interpret the Scriptures), thus, I will accept it as dogma.
It is, again, ridiculous to me, to accept as inspired ONE thing that they wrote (the Nicene Creed) and adhere to it, but REJECT other things that they wrote as uninspired simply because they don't agree with YOUR interpretation of Scripture.  We're back where we started.

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There is only ONE original Bible, untranslated.  It's the Greek. 

I think the LXX is a translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic original, plus additional books written in Greek. Am I mistaken here?

In speaking of the OT, yes.  In speaking of the NT, they were originally written in Greek, the language of the empire.  Maybe I should have clarified, I just figured this was common knowledge.  Apologies.

Please know that I don't say any of this as a personal attack on you or your beliefs.  I am trying very hard (though apparently unsuccessfully) to make what I felt was a fairly clear point.  I guess I'm just not being very clear.  I don't mean to come off as attacking.
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« Reply #30 on: January 25, 2009, 08:21:30 PM »

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the Lord has only one Body; but we believe that body is made up of all the redeemed, invisibly joined in union with Christ by his indwelling Spirit, whether they come to him through Orthodoxy (as you have, it seems (I say that, only because you rightly say that in the final analysis only God knows who is saved, not because I imply any doubt on my part of your salvation)), through Methodism (as I did), and so on.



This idea is a noval one. The Protestant Reformation took an idea that Saint Augustine made up and ran with it to it's logical conclusion. But the idea is noval.....new. The One True Church idea is not noval. It is old. So by the bases of "time" itself, the idea expressed above is "counterfit".


We know where it came from and it didn't come from Jesus and the Apostles......nor from Orthodox Christians for the first 4 hundred years. The beginnings (ruff draft) of that idea can be traced to Saint Augustine. And the development of it can be traced to the Protestant Reformers.

This idea destroys any real concept of "the Real Church" being INCARNATE in the HERE and NOW.  It has a gnostic feel to it.

The Gnostics believed that their souls would be saved. They didn't care about their physical bodies. In a similar manner, this Augustinian..modied Protestant idea makes the "invisible church soul" saved while not caring about the "physical church body".


If the Church is Incarnate then their is only ONE TRUE CHURCH......with a spiritual and physical aspect.

If the Church is some phantom ghost then there is no such thing as a ONE TRUE (physical) CHURCH......because the onlything that's important is the spiritual aspect.







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« Reply #31 on: January 25, 2009, 08:40:00 PM »

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I think the LXX is a translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic original, plus additional books written in Greek. Am I mistaken here?

The Dead Sea Scrolls shows that even some of those "plus additional" books were also written in Hebrew and Aramaic.






JNORM888
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« Reply #32 on: January 25, 2009, 11:30:56 PM »

Off-topic posts split and moved to the following thread:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19399.0.html

Please do not derail this thread with off-topic conversation.
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« Reply #33 on: January 25, 2009, 11:57:19 PM »


This idea is a noval one. The Protestant Reformation took an idea that Saint Augustine made up and ran with it to it's logical conclusion. But the idea is noval.....new. The One True Church idea is not noval. It is old. So by the bases of "time" itself, the idea expressed above is "counterfit".


We know where it came from and it didn't come from Jesus and the Apostles......nor from Orthodox Christians for the first 4 hundred years. The beginnings (ruff draft) of that idea can be traced to Saint Augustine. And the development of it can be traced to the Protestant Reformers.

This idea destroys any real concept of "the Real Church" being INCARNATE in the HERE and NOW.  It has a gnostic feel to it.

The Gnostics believed that their souls would be saved. They didn't care about their physical bodies. In a similar manner, this Augustinian..modied Protestant idea makes the "invisible church soul" saved while not caring about the "physical church body".


If the Church is Incarnate then their is only ONE TRUE CHURCH......with a spiritual and physical aspect.

If the Church is some phantom ghost then there is no such thing as a ONE TRUE (physical) CHURCH......because the onlything that's important is the spiritual aspect.



JNORM888

I'm just happy that at least you can see this.  Wink
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« Reply #34 on: January 26, 2009, 12:46:02 AM »

God hasn't been merciful to Eastern Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism and other branches of Protestantism?
The reference was to pre-Christian Germanic tribes, not to churches.

The Germanic tribes saw religion as a way out of foraging and barbarism.  In modern society, religion can be seen as constant fundraising and barbarism.

Yes: I often quote them too. But some Orthodox writers have emphases I have not previously discovered in Evangelical writers.

Why do you think that your Evangelical writers have not found the same emphases as Orthodox writers?

I don't know of any. I would give thanks for any merely nominal Orthodox who found a living faith in a Baptist context, as I would give thanks for any merely nominal Baptist who came to the same experience. The aim is not to make Baptists of people, but to see people knowing Christ.

People knowing Christ vs. conversion to the Baptist faith.  So the Albanian Orthodox do not know Christ or if I don't attend Divine Liturgy for 3 months I suddenly do not know Christ.

Quote
So, you conclude that people who are incarcerated for murder, rape or other crimes are outside of the Lord's Salvation?  As for blasphemers, are they also outside the Lord's Salvation? ... Before your missionary organization showed up in Albania, were the people of Albania beyond the Lord's Salvation like the murderer, rapist or blasphemer?

If they have committed these sins - and we are all sinners - they need to repent and turn to God, as we all do, whatever our sins. Your own writers say that with great clarity. None is beyond the call to repentance and faith. Jesus said he came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. But they are not saved without that conversion.

The kind of conversion experienced by the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well or the kind of conversion which goes like "Be saved or be destroyed in Armageddon."

Quote
Does your ministry serve as visitation to those who have been imprisoned due to political circumstances beyond their control? 

Not specifically, for they are now happily released and back in society, scattered here and there with their homes, families and friends. We do do prison visiting, when a governor allows us. People who were imprisoned for political reasons often need healing of the mind and emotions, to which of course Christian faith contributes significantly; but people who now need help in coming to terms with their experiences under Communism are just as likely to be those who avoided prison and obeyed the régime - like former schoolteachers who were ordered to lead their pupils in demolishing a church and now wonder God will ever forgive them. (Of course he will if they turn to him, but they need to hear that comfort and that assurance of the promised acceptance. "Him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.")

I was referring to spiritual imprisonment enforced by the former Athiest Albanian Government.  Sorry if I wasn't clear.  You can restate your above comment based on spiritual rather than physical imprisonment.
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« Reply #35 on: January 26, 2009, 06:06:19 AM »

you are making the determination, you are making the decision, you are judging that, in your opinion, ... I, as an Orthodox Christian, need not know anything about their theology.  The Church of Christ (the Orthodox Church) has determined

Handmaiden sent me an excellent article on infant baptism by Jordan Bajis, which you can get the link to from her post on that thread. He starts by saying he was troubled about the practice of infant baptism, and became determined to read, study, think, pray and discuss till he felt satisfied he had the answers. Now he believes in infant baptism. Why is it right for him to work through that lenghty process, coming to his own, personal, throught-through conviction, but when I do it I become a pope?

Have you never examined why you believe the things you do? Does that make you Pope Joan II? Of course not! God calls us to worship him with all our mind, and surely that means not accepting beliefs second-hand, but with inner conviction of their truth. You have concluded that Orthodoxy is the true church, and from that all else follows. But something made you take that first step and commit yourself and your trust to Orthodoxy - otherwise you would not be so theologically articulate as you are!

Surely your congregation contains people of simple belief who accept what they are told without a lot of prior personal thought; so does ours. Simple faith - admirable. But one can tell the difference between such perfectly acceptable, trusting souls and those who have striven with difficult questions and come to personal (often changed) beliefs. That doesn't make them all quasi popes.

Quote
If Protestants did not categorically reject the fathers, the reading of them would be everyday practice

Nonsense! You yourself wrote on a previous post that you wished Orthodox would read the Fathers. (I think it was yourgoodself who wrote it.) I've probabvly read more Athanasius lately than I have Wesley, but at present my daily reading is Bulgakov, who at least quotes the Fathers - and no doubt agrees with them.

Quote
We read them for instruction, inspiration, guidance...

As do I. So too do I read Wesley, Spener, Zinzendorf, Bernard of Clairvaux, Ælfric, and many others. They all have things to teach me: I don't see any of them as infallible - not even Gregory the Great, who really was a pope!

Quote
So why reject Orthodoxy? 

This is (I think) the title of a whole different thread, and I think I have posted on it.

Quote
It is, again, ridiculous to me, to accept as inspired ONE thing that they wrote ... but REJECT other things that they wrote

Not at all! Anyway, I didn't say the creeds (I referred to the Apostles' and the Nicene) are inspired, I said we all agree on them as succinct summaries of Christian doctrine which exclude sects like JWs and Mormons. I don't have to accept every word someone (or a body of people) write, to accept one piece of their writing as valid and true. That's not ridiculous - it's just seeing them as human.

Quote
I don't mean to come off as attacking
.

Words like "sect", "own pope", "ridiculous" do rather tend in that direction, I'm afraid.

Pax nobiscum jugiter!,

Your friend (and I like to think, brother - the Day will reveal it one way or another),
DMY
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« Reply #36 on: January 26, 2009, 09:14:00 AM »

Why do you think that your Evangelical writers have not found the same emphases as Orthodox writers?

I find the same, of course, the other way round - that Evangelical writers nourish me with insights or emphases which I seldom find in Eastern writings. Why is that? I don't think any one writer has embraced and experienced all God has revealed, and also there develop what one might call schools of thought, with their own structure of thought, their own emphases. With so many years of theological and spiritual reflection, and so little cross-fertilisation or even contact, it is not surprising that East and West are different.

I think Lossky has a very expressive and insightful point when he observes that no eastern saint has ever borne the stigmata as have western saints, and that no western saint has entered into the experience of the Transfiguration as have eastern saints. We emphasise the Passion, you emphasise the Glory. Both are fully true and fully biblical. This of course is probably the starkest difference, but there are many smaller ones, such as the different approaches to fasting discussed on the Fasting thread.

Quote
People knowing Christ vs. conversion to the Baptist faith.  So the Albanian Orthodox do not know Christ or if I don't attend Divine Liturgy for 3 months I suddenly do not know Christ.

I am obviously not managing to express myself in a way that you can follow. Here, I think, is another evidence of the difference between East and West: we use the same words with different meanings. Each meaning may well be a true and biblical concept, but because of our different vocabulary we misunderstand each other. I believe the same is true of speakers of Danish and Norwegian: they have the same words, but they mean different things.

First, I have never, to my knowledge, spoken of conversion to the Baptist faith, nor even of "the Baptist faith". Is there such a thing? The word "baptist" describes more a form of church government - autonomous local churches consisting of believers baptised by immersion upon profession of faith. Never in my life have I been bothered about converting people to a particular church order.

In re not attending divine worship for several months, it would surely depend on the motive for absence? Maybe the people at church have hurt your feelings deeply in some manner and you just can't face them for a while; maybe you are ill; maybe you are away on business in a place where your church does not exist. But maybe you don't go because you have no love for God himself and are heartily glad to rid yourself for a while of an irksome family tradition. Our salvation does not depend on being in church; but there is something amiss if a real Christian deliberately decides to suspend or end church-going.

As regards whether the Albanian Orthodox know Christ or not, do not your own writers on these posts persistently state that, in the last analysis, only God knows those who are his? I have no doubt that some know him, and some do not - as is true of Baptist congregations and probably any other in this fallen but religious world.

Quote
The kind of conversion experienced by the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well or the kind of conversion which goes like "Be saved or be destroyed in Armageddon."

Without getting into a debate on premillennialism, let me say that God, in his mercy, uses all manner of approaches to make people aware of their need of the Saviour. Some come in like the Samaritan woman, with tactful, thoughtful and gentle prompting; others come because they know they are heading for final destruction and need to "flee from the wrath to come". What matters is that after their conversion, it be seen to be genuine by the continuing fruit of a godly and Christ-centred life. I believe you call it theosis.

Quote
I was referring to spiritual imprisonment enforced by the former Athiest Albanian Government.  ... You can restate your above comment based on spiritual rather than physical imprisonment.

It doesn't really make a difference to my reply. The Lord's command is to preach repentance and remission of sins to all. I think so many people were damaged by the strict and relentless imposition of atheism that they hardly form a special group: it's almost the whole population, in one degree or another, who were born during those terrible years. The Catholics suffered most, I believe, because of their link with a foreign power (the Vatican, hence Italy). The Orthodox have recorded some very moving stories in English in "The Resurrection of the Church in Albania". There was only one Evangelical church; all its pre-War members are now dead, but during Communism some were imprisoned, the pastor was tortured as well. The Moslems probably had an easier time, because (I believe - I am no expert on Islam) that their religion permits you to deny your faith if your life is in danger, so living a double life was an option that was open to them.

Does that answer the question better?
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« Reply #37 on: January 26, 2009, 09:55:12 AM »

There is, it seems to me, a findamental flaw, a contradiction in the orthodox contention that they alon are the ONE true church. What? Namely, that while you affirm you know where the church is, that is to say that you embrace Orthodoxy as the known receiptical (for lack of a better term) of the original church, while on the other hand you acknowledge you do not know where the church is not.

That admission, that you do not know where the church is not, leaves no room to claim sole embodiment of the church in Orthodoxy. IN otger words, if you do not know where the church is not, the you admit (at least as possibilitty) a universal spiritual union among believers who may be outside of Orthodoxy itself. That admission is essentially and fundamentally the same as the common belief among Evangelicals regarding ghe universal nature of the church.

I actually was raised in a Holiness-Pentecostal group who believed themselves to be the excluive restoartion of the NT church. Now, they did not claim to be the only savd people (creating some contrived distinction between what it meant to be in Chrost versus in the body of Christ). However, eventually Scripture would let me proceed no further without rectifying the error I had learned in this regard. Hebrews 12:23 is so clear that one cannot claim to rightly believe it and at the same time hold a view between the two extremes as it were.

Quote
Hebrews 12:23
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect

Per this passage the church is the collective body or assembly of those who have been justified in the sight of God by faith in the atoning work of Christ, the firstborn -- whose names are accordingly written in heaven. So then, based on this passage, we can only rightly conclude one of two options:

1. The church universal consists rightly of ALL who have placed saving faith in the Lord jesus Christ, despite present ecclessiastical alignment.  -- OR --
2. Only those who are members within a given church orgajization or successor which totally embodies and decends form the NT church itself are saved, and no other.

I believe, based on Scripture, and from personal experience (as also implied by your unwillingness to define the very limits of the church concretely) that option one is correct.
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« Reply #38 on: January 26, 2009, 10:38:36 AM »

How about one and two simultaneously.
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« Reply #39 on: January 26, 2009, 11:08:41 AM »

you are making the determination, you are making the decision, you are judging that, in your opinion, ... I, as an Orthodox Christian, need not know anything about their theology.  The Church of Christ (the Orthodox Church) has determined

Handmaiden sent me an excellent article on infant baptism by Jordan Bajis, which you can get the link to from her post on that thread.
I know this article.  It is the one that I posted toward the beginning of the Believer's Baptism thread, and went back and forth with Cleopas over several posts subsequently.  It is indeed a good article.

Quote
He starts by saying he was troubled about the practice of infant baptism, and became determined to read, study, think, pray and discuss till he felt satisfied he had the answers. Now he believes in infant baptism. Why is it right for him to work through that lenghty process, coming to his own, personal, throught-through conviction, but when I do it I become a pope?

Have you never examined why you believe the things you do? Does that make you Pope Joan II? Of course not! God calls us to worship him with all our mind, and surely that means not accepting beliefs second-hand, but with inner conviction of their truth. You have concluded that Orthodoxy is the true church, and from that all else follows. But something made you take that first step and commit yourself and your trust to Orthodoxy - otherwise you would not be so theologically articulate as you are!

Surely your congregation contains people of simple belief who accept what they are told without a lot of prior personal thought; so does ours. Simple faith - admirable. But one can tell the difference between such perfectly acceptable, trusting souls and those who have striven with difficult questions and come to personal (often changed) beliefs. That doesn't make them all quasi popes.

Of course we go looking for answers!  You are definitely correct in that.  The difference is that, for us, first comes obedience, whether we understand rationally or not.  Even if Bajis disagreed with the practice, he does not set himself above the rest and assume that he is right and the church is wrong (that's not to imply that you or anyone else is trying to set yourself above the rest, I'm speaking only of him).  He obeys his bishop, obeys his Church.  He is accountable to someone and does not make decisions of doctrine and dogma on his own.  That's my point.  Even when he disagrees, he obeys.  Now, when we are talking about smaller issues that are not doctrinal or dogmatic, disagreeing is a little different.  Disagreeing with a single bishop is another matter (though we properly still obey).  But when the Church has spoken through the councils of the bishops, the voice of the Holy Spirit, about doctrinal and dogmatic issues, you are correct that we are not at liberty to disagree.  We may hold personal opinions, but we obey.  We don't up and leave, we don't start a new church, we don't try and "correct" or anything like that (I'm not saying that you do, I'm just addressing what you said about people leaving because they are trying to recover old teachings, etc).  Because we realize that the collective voice of the church, through the councils and the bishops, is right and we are wrong.  We do not believe ourselves to be so enlightened as to know better than everyone else (I'm not implying anything by that about you or Protestants, I'm speaking strictly of Orthodox). 

Quote
Quote
If Protestants did not categorically reject the fathers, the reading of them would be everyday practice

Nonsense! You yourself wrote on a previous post that you wished Orthodox would read the Fathers. (I think it was yourgoodself who wrote it.) I've probabvly read more Athanasius lately than I have Wesley, but at present my daily reading is Bulgakov, who at least quotes the Fathers - and no doubt agrees with them.
I don't remember writing that, but I may have.  It is important for us to read the Fathers.  But the point is not that we Orthodox each individually read the Fathers.  As Orthodox, we adhere to the teachings of the Fathers, as they permeate all aspects of Orthodoxy.  So though I may not have read St. Athanasios' On the Incarnation (though I have), I still adhere to what he says because I adhere to Orthodoxy, which accepts that work as truth (notice the little t).  His writing, as I think I mentioned with regards to other writers, proclaimed what was already believed by the church.  Does this make sense?  I'm trying to demonstrate the synthesis of the Fathers and the Church.  I didn't mean that NO Protestant reads the Fathers, I just meant that there is no such synthesis in Protestantism of Fathers and belief, or Fathers and Church.  Am I wrong?  Please correct me if I am.  I was under the impression that it is not common practice among Protestants to read and adhere to the teaching of the Fathers (as a general rule).

Quote
Quote
We read them for instruction, inspiration, guidance...

As do I. So too do I read Wesley, Spener, Zinzendorf, Bernard of Clairvaux, Ælfric, and many others. They all have things to teach me: I don't see any of them as infallible - not even Gregory the Great, who really was a pope!
I totally appreciate that you read them because it makes it much easier to discuss these things with you.  You have a greater understanding of Orthodoxy than the majority of Protestants I have encountered.  Would you say that this is common among Protestants?

Quote
Quote
So why reject Orthodoxy? 

This is (I think) the title of a whole different thread, and I think I have posted on it.
I think you are right, that it is a different thread.  And as a stand alone question, I think it is a little different from what I was trying to say.  I was trying to draw the logical conclusion... if one adheres to the teachings of the fathers (collectively, not individually), then one should (by logic) be Orthodox.  If one accepts the collective teachings of the fathers, then why reject Orthodoxy?  I'm not sure I'm being clear.  I'm trying to draw a distinction between a) accepting, for example, Athanasios' teaching on the Incarnation, but rejecting Ignatios' teaching about the Eucharist, and b) accepting the collective teachings of the fathers, following what the Church has taught us to accept (so by logic accepting both Athanasios AND Ignatios).  So the distinction is between a) and b).  Does that make sense?  A) is picking and choosing what to believe based on one's own interpretation of the Bible (thus accepting only what one believes to be in line with their own opinion--- not consciously, per se, but by default because of the lack of the Church's guidance).  B) is being obedient to the Church, recognizing the authority that Christ left on earth for us to follow, and accepting the authoritative voice of the Church (through the voice of the fathers) guiding us in our journey to salvation. 

Quote
Quote
It is, again, ridiculous to me, to accept as inspired ONE thing that they wrote ... but REJECT other things that they wrote

Not at all! Anyway, I didn't say the creeds (I referred to the Apostles' and the Nicene) are inspired, I said we all agree on them as succinct summaries of Christian doctrine which exclude sects like JWs and Mormons. I don't have to accept every word someone (or a body of people) write, to accept one piece of their writing as valid and true. That's not ridiculous - it's just seeing them as human.
It seems logical to me (though, granted, my logic could be totally off here) that if one accepts the Creeds to be truthful, they must have been inspired (meaning that the Holy Spirit lead them to a truthful conclusion).  And if the Holy Spirit inspired them to say something truthful here (being the Nicene Creed), then surely other things they said were also inspired by the Holy Spirit to be truthful, as they are still the same people.  Yes, individual fathers have made individual mistakes (being human, as you said).  But collectively, isn't it backward and somewhat lacking in faith to think that they speak correctly in some places, correctly transmit the gospels, but speak incorrectly in others, and incorrectly transmit the meaning of the gospels which they transmitted (I know we've covered this elsewhere, it's more rhetorical than anything else)? 

Quote
Quote
I don't mean to come off as attacking
.

Words like "sect", "own pope", "ridiculous" do rather tend in that direction, I'm afraid.

In saying "sect," I was speaking of the Mormons and JW's, whom you also called sects.  That was not directed at you, friend.  When I said "own pope," again, it was not directed at you.  I was attempting to give an example of why Orthodox often say that Protestants, in general, are their own popes-- because they make exactly the type of doctrinal and dogmatic decisions that I was showing by themselves (as the pope makes doctrinal and dogmatic decisions). 
I certainly meant no offense by saying I thought something was ridiculous.  I apologize if it sounded that way.  I apologize if anything I said sounded offensive.  It was really NOT my intent.  I would hate to think that I was coming off that way, as it is farthest from my mind to attack you, and I absolutely NEVER want to offend you.  My deepest apologies, my friend.

In Christ's Love,
Presbytera Mari
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« Reply #40 on: January 26, 2009, 12:11:18 PM »

if one accepts the Creeds to be truthful, they must have been inspired ... then surely other things they said were also inspired by the Holy Spirit to be truthful,

Briefly, yes: you make very good sense.

On the Christmas I had to be alone, mentioned before, which I spent at Hyning Monastery, one of the religious told me how much they appreciate Wesley, meaning (I assume) the hymns of Charles Wesley. They must feel these compositions are true, if they love them. But I'd be willing to lay another wager (if I were a betting man!) that they disagree with a good deal of what the Wesley brothers published.

That, to me, seems perfectly reasonable.

But duty calls, and I must away... ¡Hasta luego!
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« Reply #41 on: January 26, 2009, 01:11:48 PM »

There is, it seems to me, a findamental flaw, a contradiction in the orthodox contention that they alon are the ONE true church. What? Namely, that while you affirm you know where the church is, that is to say that you embrace Orthodoxy as the known receiptical (for lack of a better term) of the original church, while on the other hand you acknowledge you do not know where the church is not.
I can see where you find a flaw. If we were to claim to be the inheritance of the original Church, and then claim to be the One Church, then yes, our philosophy would be flawed. Yet we are not the inheritors of the Church. We are the Church, founded by Jesus Christ and unbroken since the beginning.

Quote
That admission, that you do not know where the church is not, leaves no room to claim sole embodiment of the church in Orthodoxy. IN otger words, if you do not know where the church is not, the you admit (at least as possibilitty) a universal spiritual union among believers who may be outside of Orthodoxy itself. That admission is essentially and fundamentally the same as the common belief among Evangelicals regarding ghe universal nature of the church.
Again, we are not the embodiment of the Church; we are the Church. To claim embodiment of the Church would be to presuppose an invisible Church--and to use this claim to prove an invisible Church is circular reasoning.

No, we are not the embodiment of the Church but the embodiment of Christ. Christ is Incarnate in us. The Word made flesh was not his flesh unmade, but Christ is with us forever, unto ages of ages.

Quote
I actually was raised in a Holiness-Pentecostal group who believed themselves to be the excluive restoartion of the NT church. Now, they did not claim to be the only savd people (creating some contrived distinction between what it meant to be in Chrost versus in the body of Christ). However, eventually Scripture would let me proceed no further without rectifying the error I had learned in this regard. Hebrews 12:23 is so clear that one cannot claim to rightly believe it and at the same time hold a view between the two extremes as it were.
You do not seem to see the difference between a claim of being a restoration of a dead, invisible Church and claiming to be the original Church itself. In fact, to us, such terms as "original Church" are illogical, as they imply that there is another Church--and clearly, this is not the case. Christ has one Body, one Bride. No more.

Quote
So then, based on this passage, we can only rightly conclude one of two options:

1. The church universal consists rightly of ALL who have placed saving faith in the Lord jesus Christ, despite present ecclessiastical alignment.  -- OR --
2. Only those who are members within a given church orgajization or successor which totally embodies and decends form the NT church itself are saved, and no other.

I believe, based on Scripture, and from personal experience (as also implied by your unwillingness to define the very limits of the church concretely) that option one is correct.
Either/or fallacy. Your #1 is only partially correct, in that the Church does consist of those whose faith in in Christ Jesus; yet it is incorrect in that it supposes ecclesiastical alignment does not matter. Likewise, #2 is correct in that only those whose faith is according to that prescribed by the Church are being saved, but it is incorrect in that it supposes that the New Testament Church has descendants. She does not, for she still lives, and will forever.

The truth really is in the middle path. I don't think you yet see it.
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« Reply #42 on: January 26, 2009, 01:45:19 PM »

That admission, that you do not know where the church is not,

The idea that "We know where the Church is, but we do not know where it is not." is not the Orthodox position. It is a formulation used by some Orthodox to try to explain the Orthodox position but many of us find it problematic because it can be misinterpreted (as your post exemplifies).

A less pithy, but more accurate way of putting it might be "We know where the Church is. We do not presume to know what God may choose to do beyond those boundaries."

To go back to my example, if John Smith says, "I will found my business." then I can identify John Smith Industries inc as a specific organization founded by John Smith and distinguish it from all other businesses no matter how closely they otherwise copy John Smith's business practices, business philosophies, etc. And if I am an employ of John Smith Industries, I know where the business is (what buildings we work in, who is employed, etc). But I don't necessarily know what CEO John Smith chooses to do with his resources outside the business--that is, he may give millions each year to Goodwill Charities, or put his personal money into the stock market, and as an employee I don't know that--nor, really, is it any of my business.

In the same sense, if Christ chooses to work beyond the boundaries of the defined Church which He established then that is certainly within His power and His perogatives. If He chooses to save without Orthodox Baptism (as He did the thief on the cross) or to bless or to guide, then it is certainly not my place to judge or complain. But at the same time, He said He would establish a Church, He did establish a Church, and that Church has verifiably continued as an organized and definable entity down to the present day. Now, which group split off from the original at certain junctures (i.e., was it the Roman Church or the Christian East that was splitting from the historical entity in 1054) is certainly debatable. But that there has been continuous existence of the corporate body established by Christ is not.
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« Reply #43 on: January 26, 2009, 03:06:02 PM »

Why do you think that your Evangelical writers have not found the same emphases as Orthodox writers?

I find the same, of course, the other way round - that Evangelical writers nourish me with insights or emphases which I seldom find in Eastern writings. Why is that? I don't think any one writer has embraced and experienced all God has revealed, and also there develop what one might call schools of thought, with their own structure of thought, their own emphases. With so many years of theological and spiritual reflection, and so little cross-fertilisation or even contact, it is not surprising that East and West are different.

Which is why the West also claim themselves as the One True Church based on these "schools of thought."  In Academia, research is never absolute; However, for the first 1,021 years of Christendom, there was an absolute, One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  When Sola Scriptura became the first fruits of the new "research" produced by Luther's "school of thought" in 1515 (note that the quoted terms can be switched), the differences and the emphases started to accumulate.  You rely on academics to establish your position as being the One True Church while the East does not rely on academics, theses and PhD Dissertations.

I think Lossky has a very expressive and insightful point when he observes that no eastern saint has ever borne the stigmata as have western saints, and that no western saint has entered into the experience of the Transfiguration as have eastern saints. We emphasise the Passion, you emphasise the Glory. Both are fully true and fully biblical. This of course is probably the starkest difference, but there are many smaller ones, such as the different approaches to fasting discussed on the Fasting thread.

According to the West, the Renaissance and later the Enlightenment defeated suffering not Christ's Resurrection.  The East deeply respects how Christ was humbled in His Passion.  On Good Friday, the Orthodox ask Christ to show us to His Glorious Resurrection meaning that there is no dwelling or excess worship of Christ's Passion.  As for stigmata, the East never displayed stigmata because Christ said Blessed are those who haven't seen and yet believe.  Stigmata implies a lack of belief in Christ and His Suffering and if one lacks belief in Christ, the door is opened for all kinds of "schools of thought" regarding the Divinity of Christ and the One True Church.

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People knowing Christ vs. conversion to the Baptist faith.  So the Albanian Orthodox do not know Christ or if I don't attend Divine Liturgy for 3 months I suddenly do not know Christ.

I am obviously not managing to express myself in a way that you can follow.

I can understand you better.   Grin

Here, I think, is another evidence of the difference between East and West: we use the same words with different meanings. Each meaning may well be a true and biblical concept, but because of our different vocabulary we misunderstand each other. I believe the same is true of speakers of Danish and Norwegian: they have the same words, but they mean different things.

First, I have never, to my knowledge, spoken of conversion to the Baptist faith, nor even of "the Baptist faith". Is there such a thing?

There is no Baptist Convention in United Kingdom?  There is the Southern Baptist Convention in the United States.  They meet in Louisville, KY on 6/23 and 6/24, 2009.  You said there was no such thing as the Baptist faith ... I beg to differ.

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Since its organization in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has grown to over 16 million members who worship in more than 42,000 churches in the United States. Southern Baptists sponsor about 5,000 home missionaries serving the United States, Canada, Guam and the Caribbean, as well as sponsoring more than 5,000 foreign missionaries in 153 nations of the world.

The term "Southern Baptist Convention" refers to both the denomination and its annual meeting. Working through 1,200 local associations and 41 state conventions and fellowships, Southern Baptists share a common bond of basic Biblical beliefs and a commitment to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world.

You become a Southern Baptist by uniting with a Southern Baptist church, one in friendly cooperation with the general Southern Baptist enterprise of reaching the world for Christ. Typically church membership is a matter of accepting Jesus as your Savior and Lord and experiencing believer's baptism by immersion.
 

The word "baptist" describes more a form of church government - autonomous local churches consisting of believers baptised by immersion upon profession of faith. Never in my life have I been bothered about converting people to a particular church order.

Do the Southern Baptists go against Sola Scriptura in having a Hierarchy (e.g. Church Government)?  I know of many instances that Southern Baptists have threatened to boycott Disney and other companies due to these companies having policies contrary to Southern Baptist belief.

In re not attending divine worship for several months, it would surely depend on the motive for absence? Maybe the people at church have hurt your feelings deeply in some manner and you just can't face them for a while; maybe you are ill; maybe you are away on business in a place where your church does not exist. But maybe you don't go because you have no love for God himself and are heartily glad to rid yourself for a while of an irksome family tradition. Our salvation does not depend on being in church; but there is something amiss if a real Christian deliberately decides to suspend or end church-going.

There are Orthodox Christians in battlefields around the world with no chaplains or anyone else to provide support.  Thankfully, I can provide my own support; However, I do love God and I do not consider my Church attendance as an "irksome family tradition."  Does that make a good selling point to the Albanian Orthodox?

As regards whether the Albanian Orthodox know Christ or not, do not your own writers on these posts persistently state that, in the last analysis, only God knows those who are his? I have no doubt that some know him, and some do not - as is true of Baptist congregations and probably any other in this fallen but religious world.

What if you presume that the Albanian Orthodox don't know (or have forgotten) Christ and your missionary work attempts to define Christ, from your perspective, for them to understand and perhaps follow?  Closer to home, what if a lapsed Orthodox discovers that a Church like Cleopas' is a 5 minute drive and Cleopas' assumes that the lapsed Orthodox doesn't know Christ or thinks that Christ is everywhere?

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The kind of conversion experienced by the Samaritan Woman at Jacob's Well or the kind of conversion which goes like "Be saved or be destroyed in Armageddon."

Without getting into a debate on premillennialism, let me say that God, in his mercy, uses all manner of approaches to make people aware of their need of the Saviour.

Hey, you used the word premillennialism.  I admire you if you do not use Armageddon as part of your missionary work even though others may feel differently.

Some come in like the Samaritan woman, with tactful, thoughtful and gentle prompting; others come because they know they are heading for final destruction and need to "flee from the wrath to come". What matters is that after their conversion, it be seen to be genuine by the continuing fruit of a godly and Christ-centred life. I believe you call it theosis.

Christ refers to Himself as the eternal water of Life which never runs dry unlike Jacob's Well which, thankfully, continues to flow today just as in the last chapter of Revelation where the eternal water of Life flows down into the new Jerusalem.

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I was referring to spiritual imprisonment enforced by the former Athiest Albanian Government.  ... You can restate your above comment based on spiritual rather than physical imprisonment.

It doesn't really make a difference to my reply. The Lord's command is to preach repentance and remission of sins to all. I think so many people were damaged by the strict and relentless imposition of atheism that they hardly form a special group: it's almost the whole population, in one degree or another, who were born during those terrible years. The Catholics suffered most, I believe, because of their link with a foreign power (the Vatican, hence Italy). The Orthodox have recorded some very moving stories in English in "The Resurrection of the Church in Albania". There was only one Evangelical church; all its pre-War members are now dead, but during Communism some were imprisoned, the pastor was tortured as well. The Moslems probably had an easier time, because (I believe - I am no expert on Islam) that their religion permits you to deny your faith if your life is in danger, so living a double life was an option that was open to them.

Does that answer the question better?

Thank you for the clarification.   Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #44 on: January 26, 2009, 03:15:31 PM »

There is, it seems to me, a findamental flaw, a contradiction in the orthodox contention that they alon are the ONE true church. What? Namely, that while you affirm you know where the church is, that is to say that you embrace Orthodoxy as the known receiptical (for lack of a better term) of the original church, while on the other hand you acknowledge you do not know where the church is not.

That admission, that you do not know where the church is not, leaves no room to claim sole embodiment of the church in Orthodoxy. IN otger words, if you do not know where the church is not, the you admit (at least as possibilitty) a universal spiritual union among believers who may be outside of Orthodoxy itself. That admission is essentially and fundamentally the same as the common belief among Evangelicals regarding ghe universal nature of the church.

I actually was raised in a Holiness-Pentecostal group who believed themselves to be the excluive restoartion of the NT church. Now, they did not claim to be the only savd people (creating some contrived distinction between what it meant to be in Chrost versus in the body of Christ). However, eventually Scripture would let me proceed no further without rectifying the error I had learned in this regard. Hebrews 12:23 is so clear that one cannot claim to rightly believe it and at the same time hold a view between the two extremes as it were.

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Hebrews 12:23
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect

Per this passage the church is the collective body or assembly of those who have been justified in the sight of God by faith in the atoning work of Christ, the firstborn -- whose names are accordingly written in heaven. So then, based on this passage, we can only rightly conclude one of two options:

1. The church universal consists rightly of ALL who have placed saving faith in the Lord jesus Christ, despite present ecclessiastical alignment.  -- OR --
2. Only those who are members within a given church orgajization or successor which totally embodies and decends form the NT church itself are saved, and no other.

I believe, based on Scripture, and from personal experience (as also implied by your unwillingness to define the very limits of the church concretely) that option one is correct.



Cleopas!  Friend!  I missed your voice!  I was afraid you had left us again, I'm so glad to see you are still here!  You always have such excellent points to add to the discussion!
I don't really have anything to add yet, as ytterbiumanalyst and witega said things quite nicely, I think.  I just wanted to say glad you're still here!
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