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« on: February 11, 2009, 02:13:56 AM »

In light of some new members to the forum, and David Young's recent visit to an Orthodox Church, I thought it might be beneficial to explain how and why Orthodox Churches are designed.

Orthodox churches are designed in a similar fashion to the Temple of Solomon. We are told that in the Biblical Temple, the Holy of Holies was built with Cedar boards, overlaid with Gold, and had a curtain and double doors to separate it from the nave. Throughout the Temple there were Cherubim and other statues/icons... Source - 1 Kings 6, 2 Chr 3.

Here's the description of the Holy of Holies from the Bible:


Quote
He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, paneling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, and covered the floor of the temple with planks of pine. 16 He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. 17 The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits [j] long. 18 The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen.

19 He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the LORD there. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. [k] He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. 21 Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. 22 So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.
23 In the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits [l] high. 24 One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits—ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. 25 The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. 26 The height of each cherub was ten cubits. 27 He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 He overlaid the cherubim with gold.
29 On the walls all around the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. 30 He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold. 31 For the entrance of the inner sanctuary he made doors of olive wood with five-sided jambs. 32 And on the two olive wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with beaten gold. 33 In the same way he made four-sided jambs of olive wood for the entrance to the main hall. 34 He also made two pine doors, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. 35 He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings. 1 Kings 6:15-35




Orthodox churches follow similar architecture, the iconostasis is the wall that separates the sanctuary (representing the Holy of Holies) from the nave. As in the temple, it's constructed of wood, often overlaid with gold (though not all churches can afford this), and covered in iconography (the Bible tells us the the temple had carved figures of Cherubim, palm trees and flowers). Most Orthodox churches also have a curtain as the temple did.

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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2009, 02:23:17 AM »

A number of guidelines or rubrics govern which icons are on which parts of the iconostasis, although there is some room for variation. There are also guidelines for who should enter or leave the altar by which door. These guidelines were developed over the course of many centuries, with both theologically symbolic and practical reasons for them.

Though they vary in size, shape and number of icons, the following is a basic layout of an icon screen which one might find in typical parish church.



1. An icon of the Theotokos with the Lord. This indicates the beginning of the end of time, the time of our salvation.
2. An icon of The Lord, usually as All-ruler (Pantocrator), the just judge of all our works. This indicates the end of all time, the awesome day of judgment.
3. Icon of Saint John, the Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptizer of the Lord.
4. Icon of the patron of the temple, or of its patronal feast.
5. The Holy Doors (or the Royal Doors). These usually are a diptych of the Annunciation. Sometimes they may also have the icons of the four evangelists.
6. North door (the north and south doors are often called "deacon's doors"). This will usually depict a deacon, usually St. Stephen the Protomartyr, or an archangel, usually St. Michael.
7. South door. The same as above, though if a deacon is depicted, it is usually St. Philip or St. Lawrence, and if an archangel, usually St. Gabriel.
8. These icons (when present) are usually saints especially near to a parish or nation, such as Ss. Nicholas of Myra, George the Trophy-bearer, Demetrius the Myrrh-streaming, Sergius of Radonezh, Andrew the First-called, Herman of Alaska, or Seraphim of Sarov.
9. This is usually the icon of the Mystical Supper, the last supper our Lord ate with his friends and wherein he instituted the Eucharist.

If there is a second tier, it will usually contain icons of the Twelve Great Feasts. Other tiers will depict the patriarchs, prophets and apostles.

Taken from: http://orthodoxwiki.org/Iconostasis
« Last Edit: February 11, 2009, 09:22:29 AM by ozgeorge » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2009, 05:33:47 AM »

Great resource. Thanks Handmaiden!
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2009, 06:50:25 AM »

No problem!

The picture is mis-behaving in my second post, but if you go to the link I posted and scroll down, you will see the diagram I was trying to show.  Undecided
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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2009, 09:27:41 AM »

The picture is mis-behaving in my second post, but if you go to the link I posted and scroll down, you will see the diagram I was trying to show.  Undecided

I think the image was too large. I've fixed it for you.
I remember, on the Holy Mountain, being told that on one of the monastery's Church's Iconostasis, the position of the Theotokos and Christ Icon are reversed and no one knows why, but I can't remember which monastery. Apparently, it is the only Eastern Orthodox Church in the world that has the icons reversed.
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2009, 05:48:37 PM »

Some Protestant once told the Iconostasis was wrong because it tried to imitate the Temple's Holy of Holies (which became invalid after the temple veil was torn). I know the the sanctuary is not supposed to be an equivalent to the Jerusalem Temple's Holy of Holies (if it was, I would have been struck down by God a long time ago), so what exactly is it? Is it symbolic of the old Temple?
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2009, 06:02:04 PM »

The iconostasis is a barrier between the narthex and the altar. It was introduced after Christianity became state religion in Roman Empire and number of faithful improved enormously. It kept those not-so-right people out of the sanctuary.

It sharply developed in Slavic countries because of woodden Churches. Iconostasis in effect become the only one place to place icons. You cannot make frescoes on wooden walls.
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2009, 06:08:50 PM »

But what exactly is the santuary, compared to the Old Testament Holy of Holies? The Western Church also has a small barrier between their altar and nave, but did they treat the sanctuary the same as we do? Is the sanctuary holy because it is the Eucharist happens?
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« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2009, 06:09:38 PM »

What I particularly like about the diagram is that it correctly identifies the Royal Doors as the doors between the Narthex and the Nave (most English Speakers mistakenly call the central doors of the Iconostasis the "Royal Doors" whereas they are correctly called the "Beautiful Gate").
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« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2009, 06:13:26 PM »

In Slavic tradition they are called Royal Doors.
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« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2009, 06:17:27 PM »

But what exactly is the santuary, compared to the Old Testament Holy of Holies? The Western Church also has a small barrier between their altar and nave, but did they treat the sanctuary the same as we do? Is the sanctuary holy because it is the Eucharist happens?

The Western Church actually did have something like the Iconostasis at one stage, it was called the "Rood Screen".
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« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2009, 07:06:43 PM »

A correction to Handmaiden's description: The Deacon's doors, if archangels are depicted, Archangel Gabriel, being the angel of annunciation of things to come (such as to Zacharias, and to the Mother of God), should be on the northern (left) side. Archangel Michael should be on the southern (right) side, as he is the archangel of the ends of things, such as the events of the final battle against good and evil, as well as his part in the final judgement of the souls.

In Slavic tradition, the patron saint or feast of the church is shown to the right of St John the Baptist, not to the left of the Mother of God.
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« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2009, 10:23:42 PM »

A correction to Handmaiden's description: The Deacon's doors, if archangels are depicted, Archangel Gabriel, being the angel of annunciation of things to come (such as to Zacharias, and to the Mother of God), should be on the northern (left) side. Archangel Michael should be on the southern (right) side, as he is the archangel of the ends of things, such as the events of the final battle against good and evil, as well as his part in the final judgement of the souls.

In Slavic tradition, the patron saint or feast of the church is shown to the right of St John the Baptist, not to the left of the Mother of God.

Both of your points may be Slavic traditions.  In the Greek practice it's Michael to the Left (North) because he was involved in the expulsion from Paradise (Deacons go out of the North door); Gabriel is to the Right (South) because he was involved in the re-entering of Paradise (through the announcement to Mary; Deacons go into the South door).
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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2009, 07:32:21 AM »

I've seen that there can be an icons of St. Deacons Steven and the other one whose name I forgot.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2009, 12:25:42 PM »

Slavic Churches usually have more developed iconostasises:
  • the second row (the first one has already been described by HandmaidenofGod: the icon of Mystical Supper in the middle and icons of 12 Major Feasts
  • the third row: icon of Deesis  and icons of the 12 Apostles
  • the fourth row: icon of Theothokos and icons of Old Testament Prophets
  • the fifth row: icon of Holy Trinity or the Anastasis and icons of New Testament Saints

on the top there is a cross and Board of 10 Commandments, Aaron's Staff and Vessel with Manna

The symbolic meaning of the domes' number:

  • 1 - The One God
  • 2 - Human and Divine nature of Christ
  • 3 - Holy Trinity
  • 5 - Jesus Christ and 4 Evangelists
  • 7 - Seven Sacraments
    • 9 - 9 Ranks of Angels' Hierarchy
    • 13 - Jesus Christ and 12 Apostles
    [/list]
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    « Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 02:28:35 PM »

    But what exactly is the santuary, compared to the Old Testament Holy of Holies? The Western Church also has a small barrier between their altar and nave, but did they treat the sanctuary the same as we do? Is the sanctuary holy because it is the Eucharist happens?

    The Western Church actually did have something like the Iconostasis at one stage, it was called the "Rood Screen".

    NO!

    The screen separates the nave from the choir; it was used on the one hand to turn the choir into a subchurch, and on the other hand to allow the nave to be a secular meeting place as needed. It would cross the idealized church shown above in the dead center, "west"-ward of the dome. Prior to the reformation (as far as I know-- we had a long argument about this some years back) there was no barrier between the sanctuary and the choir; Bishop Laud introduced the altar rail at that time to keep dogs etc. out of the sanctuary, and it evolved into the place where communion was received. The screen never, ever had a liturgical function; and it is often detached from the rood itself (which had a devotional function).
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    « Reply #16 on: February 12, 2009, 05:50:20 PM »

    Dear Mike Et al,

    You have mentioned:

    "The iconostasis is a barrier between the narthex and the altar. It was introduced after Christianity became state religion in Roman Empire and number of faithful improved enormously. It kept those not-so-right people out of the sanctuary."

    I think this to be a rather theologically problematic perception insofar as many of us are not quite so right so to speak. If look at things liturgically, what we are doing, where we are and most importantly why, we can see things differently. Christianity becoming a state(s) religion and the Churches increased numbers of faithful did not cause the Church to put up the iconostasis as a barrier, for the barrier has been breached via the incarnation. We see this in the Church at every Divine Liturgy, thanks be to Gods' love. The Church is our sovereign and the iconostasis reflects Gods' active love throughout the history of man.

    Reflecting on the truth that Christ and His Bride, the Orthodox Church will always remain our true sovereign can be seen during the Liturgy. The Priest says; "Holy things are for the holy" before we receive the Eucharist, even when we might think, "Lord God, I'm not holy etc." The Priest cries out; "In the fear of God with faith and love come forward." So on the one hand the Church is saying that holy things are for the holy even though I fall short, on the other hand is the Bishop or Priest holding the Chalice. Christ and the Church are both militant and triumphant as reconciliation happens within the Church even when we know we are falling short.

    It is the operation of the Holy Spirit, the helper, the comforter whom the Father sends in Christ's name that makes up for that which might be lacking in us. We can see the good shepherd, Christ whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light, that is within the radiant Church.

    Shine, shine new Jerusalem! For the glory of the Lord has dawned over you. Dance now and be glad, Sion; as for thee, pure One, rejoice in the resurrection of your child.

    There is joy for us. A friend of mine not long ago responded to some questions regarding the iconostasis, he summed things up much better than I can below.

    "There is quite a lot of symbolism to the division of the church into altar and nave, with the separation formed by the iconostasis. Indeed, that symbolism varies from service to service, and indeed through parts of services, being called upon to witness to different things at different times. But surely the basic reality you've mentioned - of earth and heaven - is an overriding symbol.

    The division of the sacramental space between that representing earth and all creation, and that representing heaven, God and the angelic realms, is not meant to indicate a barrier between these two realms (keeping in mind that we have icons of heavenly things outside the altar, and icons of human things within it; indeed, icons themselves are a meeting place of both). The division of space is meant to realise symbolically their encounter. It is by having the altar separated from the nave by a noted wall (the iconostasis), that this barrier can be used to symbolise not just a divide, but also a breaking of the divide. The Royal Doors can be closed to symbolise anticipation of the coming of salvation (hence the talk of the icons on the doors themselves, as above in this thread), and can be opened to indicate the real presence of that salvation. The symbolism of the barrier is important at, for example, the reading of the Gospel, which is brought out of the altar, into the midst of the nave - the Word of God coming into the cosmos, just as Christ came into the world; a 'breaking of the divide' that sin constructs between man and God. So, too, later in the Divine Liturgy, all the doors and even the curtain are closed when the priest elevates the gifts and proclaims 'The holy things are for the holy': reminding us, through those closed elements, of our utter break from holiness through our sin. But moments later, the doors open and the chalice - the Saviour himself - comes through that divide; a meeting of the heavenly and the earthly.

    The point of having the iconostasis as division is that it allows the reality of the breaking of that divide, or better, the healing of that divide, to be made visible in the liturgical symbolism of the Church. Without the iconostasis (or some manifestation of it), this important reality of Christian life is made less immediate to the experience of worship. Perhaps one of the best ways to recognise this, is to think on Bright Week - the week immediately following Pascha. During this period, all the doors on the iconostasis are left open at all times (including the side, or 'deacon's', doors, which are normally never left open), symbolising that in the resurrection the bonds of death that divide man from God have been ultimately and triumphantly defeated. This is always a very noticable, meaningful liturgical act, the leaving open of these doors; but it has that impact, that degree of forceful reminder of the reality of unity enabled through the resurrection, only because normally the doors are kept closed, opened at significant moments in various services. It is because of the liturgical symbolism of that 'divide', that one comes to appreciate so immediately the reality of its breach.

    There are also other things that the iconostasis and the doors symbolise, in various moments of the worshipping life of the Church. At vespers, for example, the whole of the iconostasis, and the Royal Doors in particular, are often seen to symbolise the gates of Eden, out of which Adam has been cast on account of his sin. So the priest comes out wearing only his cassock and epitrachilion (the sign of his office, which he must wear to serve any service), head uncovered -- a symbol of Adam standing naked before the doors of Eden, looking back in at that which he has abandoned through his transgression; while through this the reader intones Psalm 104 (103 LXX), which is a psalm on the mystery of creation ('The waters run above the hills... the lions roar about their prey, seeking their food from God... how manifold are Thy works, O Lord, in wisdom Thou hast made them all', etc.). So we have a liturgical image of our exile from paradise on account of our sin: a dark church, a closed gate, a 'naked' priest/Adam, and readings leading from this psalm of creation into the larger reading if the psalter, to the supplication ('Lord, I have cried to Thee: hear me...'). Finally, the priest re-emerges, now in all his vestments, and the gates of Eden are opened as the choir sings 'O Jesus Christ, Thou gentle light...': a visible, liturgical act that demonstrates the healing of the disunion of sin by Christ. Once again, without that 'divide' given physical iconic form in the iconostasis, this liturgical engagement would be much lessened."

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    « Reply #17 on: February 14, 2009, 08:50:43 PM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin
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    « Reply #18 on: February 14, 2009, 09:07:57 PM »

    I must admit that I'm rather amused by the fact that the same people who decided to come out with The Abridged Version of the Bible are the ones who want to do away with anything symbolic that might help reinforce understanding.  At least y'all are consistent. Wink
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    « Reply #19 on: February 14, 2009, 09:47:53 PM »

    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn.

    No one knows that better than the Orthodox, who have had to pray in barns, caves, basements, prisons, gulags, and cramped boats headed for America, due to persecution by Muslims and Communists.  We don't need to be reminded of that truth.   Smiley

    What was being pointed out in this thread was that when the Orthodox do have the resources to build proper church buildings, we build them in a way that is very "Biblical," something a Protestant should appreciate.  We do this because it is how our people have done it from earliest times, and because we want to glorify God.
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    « Reply #20 on: February 15, 2009, 03:16:47 AM »

    "Sanctify, O Lord, those who love the beauty of Your House."
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    « Reply #21 on: February 15, 2009, 03:47:30 AM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin

    No one is denying that God is in our midst where 2 or 3 are gathered, however if God did not care for ornate decorations and did not care how His Temple was built, why are so many pages in the Old Testament dedicated to precise instructions for how the ark, the Tabernacle, and the Temple are to be built?

    As we have clearly demonstrated, the Orthodox Church is similar in structure and design to that of the Ancient Jewish Temple. It is the Jewish Temple with Christian doctrine inserted. Just as the Apostles injected Christian doctrine into the Liturgical Worship they had learned as Jews, so too do we continue with Liturgical worship and beautiful temples today.

    Everything we do can be traced back to the the Bible in some way, shape, or form.

    Everything.

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    « Reply #22 on: February 15, 2009, 08:30:09 AM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin

    We only put thought into the forms when we are able to; when unable (as it was pointed out by Salpy) we do whatever we can to worship the Lord as a community.  But the basic principle is when able, build a temple to the Lord which integrates our local Orthodox culture and the designs of temples to the Lord before it.
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    « Reply #23 on: February 15, 2009, 11:25:24 AM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin

    Many Self-Ordained and sincere people claim that verse as well,it doesn't make your form of worship any more valid than theres,if God required form and liturgy from the Jewish people,why should he expect less from his people under the New Covenant!!!
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    « Reply #24 on: February 18, 2009, 06:58:16 AM »

    All this is a bit mind-blowing, especially when added to the rich and complex symbolism of the Divine Liturgy. One wonders what to make of it all.

    Obviously, we all agree on Cleopas's observation that Jesus Christ is present when two or three gather in his name in a forest, a home, a cathedral or wherever. So the symbolic architecture is not strictly needed for man to meet with God. I am sure in my own mind that the glory of God rested as wondrously upon a company of early Methodists meeting in a barn as upon any other assembly of God's people.

    The question rises, Is it helpful? If so, it is good; if on the other hand it is unhelpful, it is not good. What is the answer?

    I suspect there isn't an answer - or rather, that the answer is different for one person from what it is for another. We have discussed at length on another thread, whether what Cleopas and I dub Orthodox 'accretions' to the Faith obscure Christ and obstruct the way to him, making it harder for people to find him than in the simpler, barer forms of, say, a Baptist church and service. A similar question arises concerning the elaborate and colourful symbolism of your churches and services.

    My guess is that there are people for whom it is a real help; it points and lifts their thoughts towards Christ; it reminds them of him and his work on their behalf: and that there are others for whom it would provide only distractions. A matter of personality, previous experience, and taste.

    The picture of Christ Pantocrator on the dome comes especially to mind. Until I read one or two of the above posts, I had seen these as merely a pretty picture - beautifully executed maybe, but nothing more than a picture. Now you have explained the symbolism. I dare say there are plenty of people who look up to those pictures and are reminded inwardly of the fact the he is Lord of lords, sitting at the right hand of the Father, ruling all things, bringing everything into subjection to himself, and are genuinely inspired to worship. But without the understanding, and the right sort of mind to respond to it, it is only a high-up picture which you need to crick your neck uncomfortably to see.

    I have written elsewhere that I have visited - and greatly enjoyed visiting - a number of Orthodox buildings. Some 'did nothing for me', leaving me untouched and cold; others moved me with a desire to pray and experience God there and then. In Korça there is a brand-new, huge cathedral, all pink domes and towers outside and colourful icons and adornments inside. It did nothing for me at all. In Gracanica - and here I must beg pardon of Alveus Lacuna - likewise I was quite unmoved by the building: shiny new (actually old but so well cleaned that it looks new), stalls lined up outside selling craft, car parked by the door for someone setting up lights or whatever, Swedish soldier guarding the entrance. I had no urge to pray or to tarry.

    But take me to Nokova (I think that was the place) and let me into a dusty, dark sanctuary with ancient icons and bats living in the roof; mountains around; abandoned monastery across the dingle on the hillside - and I and my Pentecostal friend would certainly have been there for the Sunday liturgy had it not been so far away, so early, and impossible to get to and from in time for our other commitments.

    I earnestly desired to see the nearby monastery re-established, not on the Roman or Greek model - pace now GreekChef - but on the pre-Whitby Celtic model as practised at Lindisfarne under Bishop Aidan.

    Likewise, the little white chapel near Phoenix (not Arizona, but the one the Apostle Paul couldn't get to for the winter) was quite conducive to prayer, meditation and worship.

    It's all to do with associations of the mind, I suppose. Show me a simple Primitive Methodist chapel some 160 years old in an English village, and I know what it is about and can picture the saints there experiencing forgiveness, salvation, the cry for holiness, and God's glory. Such places are, I suppose, an 'icon' for me which draw my heart, my prayers and my longing towards the Lord. So also does the ornate architecture of your churches, for those who understand the symbolism.

    For me, once again, I suppose it's a matter of continuing to learn, as someone wrote on another thread. From the background of our bare, plain walls, simple unadorned sanctuaries and easily understood, non-symbolic style of worship, I would have experienced no appreciation at all of the symbolism you all enjoy. Now I know it points and draws your thoughts and your devotion to our common Lord.

    It would be good if we could agree - and maybe we do anyway - that there are some people like me, who find Christ in a deep stirring of devotion in our setting, whilst there are others - like some who post on these threads - who are similarly moved by the symbolism and colour and - I almost said 'pageantry' - of Orthodox architecture and worship.
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    « Reply #25 on: February 18, 2009, 04:39:58 PM »

    Hi David,

    I was hoping you would see this thread, as I thought it would explain some things for you.  Grin

    While to a certain degree I see what your saying about how we are wired and personality and such, I have to disagree with you. (I know that comes as a shock to you.  Wink )

    We don't need to know the symbolism behind every single detail to appreciate the beauty of the Church. I was an adult before I knew the "official" meaning behind the Pantocrator icon, but even as a child I was able to more or less figure it out. Christ's icon is on the ceiling, Christ is in heaven, Christ overseas everything. Lex orandi, lex credendi. We pray what we believe. If you were to attend the Divine Services at an Orthodox Church for a year, you hear the gospel proclamations behind each icon. The icons come to life. I didn't need a priest or an iconographer to explain the icons to me as a child. I heard the story of Christ being baptised in the Jordan; I saw an icon of a man in a river. I put two and two together.

    It seems to me that when you went to the Orthodox Churches that "didn't do anything for you," you were waiting for building to inspire you to pray. We don't go to the building for inspiration; we go to God for inspiration. This is what we have the Liturgy for.

    In Atlanta, we have a wide range of Orthodox churches. We have some, such as the Cathedral that I attend, that have a 58" in diameter icon of the Pantocrator on the ceiling, decked out in beautiful mosaic iconography with a gold iconostas. Then we have others, such as the small Ukrainian Orthodox Church that is North of Atlanta, that isn't much bigger than my 1 bedroom apartment. I've attended Liturgy at both places. God has been present in both places because of the Eucharist. The same Eucharistic celebration that was going on in the Cathedral was the same Eucharistic celebration that was going on in the small Ukrainian chapel.

    The funny thing is, is that as beautiful as we decorate our Churches, we don't lose sight of what it's about. And if we do, we just look up, see Christ looking down on us, and it's all clear.

    We decorate our parishes because we (the Church Militant) are joining the Church Triumphant in Heavenly Worship, and we are doing our very best feeble attempts to make the Church here on earth as wonderful as it will be in heaven. While we know it will never be as wonderful as it is in heaven, God is beautiful, and deserves to be worshipped in a Temple that is beautiful.

    This is evident in His commands in the Old Testament to decorate the Temple in Jeruselum.

    You call our decor 'accretions.' By definition you are saying that our decorations are something that were added, and were not there. This is contrary to Biblical teaching. As stated, the Jews in the Old Testament worshipped in a Temple of glory and splendor that would rival any Orthodox Cathedral today.

    The Apostles did not abandon Jewish worship in the Temple. They kept Liturgical style worship, but injected Christian theology.

    That's what Orthodoxy is. The faith handed to us by the Apostles.

    I see your points about wanting everything to be plain and simple with no symbolism. But God is a God of mystery. The Bible is full of symbolism! Doesn't it make sense that our worship should be as well?

    Anything that anyone wants to learn about the Orthodox Church is available; but is learned it over time. For our walk with Christ is an eternal one; what's the hurry to absorb everything immediately?  Wink
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    « Reply #26 on: February 18, 2009, 06:06:23 PM »

    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.
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    « Reply #27 on: February 18, 2009, 06:19:54 PM »

    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.

    Well, they met in Synagogues until they were ejected from them.  Then they started meeting in houses.
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    « Reply #28 on: February 18, 2009, 06:46:45 PM »

    It seems to me that when you went to the Orthodox Churches that "didn't do anything for you," you were waiting for building to inspire you to pray.

    In a sense, yes. As you know from other posts, I am very happy praying in the mountains near here, and in my room at home. What I wrote on this thread was directed only to the matter of buildings. My point being that some people find awesome magnificent cathedrals inspiring, others might prefer the little seaside chapel of Agios Stavros on a promontory near Phoenix, a 1000-year old dusty Byzantine church, or a plain Methodist chapel from the mid-19th century. So yes - but I was restricting my comments to the matter of architecture.

    Quote
    God has been present in both places because of the Eucharist.

    I can say Amen to that. Again, you know my warm appreciation of communion services. I sometimes take the Communion service at a little church in Cregrina, a village so small it doesn't appear on all the road maps, miles out in the wilds of mid Wales, sanctuary not much bigger than some people's sitting room. Oldest member now 101. I love it.

    Quote
    we (the Church Militant) are joining the Church Triumphant in Heavenly Worship, and we are doing our very best ... to make the Church here on earth as wonderful as it will be in heaven.

    I didn't use to know that about Orthodox worship, but I soon discovered when I started reading maybe a couple of years ago. It makes sense. We aim, of course, for the same (as you know from your Baptist days), but our minds go to what is sometimes called "the beauty of holiness" - the inward adornment of a humble and cleansed heart worshiping Christ in Spirit and in truth. I am not saying you're wrong and we're right, for I am sure you also aim just as sincerely for that "beauty of holiness" inwardly too. It is what the Lord looks upon, wherever he sees it.

    Quote
    You call our decor 'accretions.'

    No: that was a reference back to the other thread. (I forget which one now, but Cleopas and I have both used that word in theological matters like asking for the intercession of the saints &c.)

    Quote
    I see your points about wanting everything to be plain and simple with no symbolism.

    But I'm not saying it is the only way, that God accepts it and not your way. And of course we have the symbolism involved in baptism and the Lord's Supper. (I can't think of any others.)

    Quote
    God is a God of mystery. ... Doesn't it make sense that our worship should be as well?

    Providing it is understood, and serves as a pointer to Him and not an obstacle.

    Incidentally, I think the oldest church in England is St Peter's Chapel at Bradwell on Sea, founded in about 654 AD by St Cedd. People forgot it was a church, and it became a barn or similar. In 1920 someone noticed it bore some resemblance to a church, and after some investigation it was re-consecrated and is now once more in use as a place of worship. I believe the Anglicans and Catholics both use it, but when I went in and looked at it, it seemed to me rather like an Orthodox church with beautiful newly painted icons. I think you'd enjoy a visit if you ever come to Britain: I believe GreekChef wishes to come, and she and her husband should include it in their itinerary.

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    our walk with Christ is an eternal one

    Indeed: and we'll be taking it together.
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    « Reply #29 on: February 18, 2009, 06:47:42 PM »

    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.

    Well, they met in Synagogues until they were ejected from them.  Then they started meeting in houses.

    Yeah and then following Helena's trip to Jerusalem in AD 327 AD, Constantine built nine Christian basilicas in Rome and others in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and, of course, Constantinople. They were structured on the Roman basilicas of the day facing east. So for roughly 300 years, the ecclesia were a community who met in small decentralized groups scattered through the Empire in household-communities. When did this 'ecclesia' begin to mean a building and not the people of God, with Clement of Alexandria?
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    « Reply #30 on: February 18, 2009, 07:53:50 PM »

    Yeah and then following Helena's trip to Jerusalem in AD 327 AD, Constantine built nine Christian basilicas in Rome and others in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and, of course, Constantinople. They were structured on the Roman basilicas of the day facing east. So for roughly 300 years, the ecclesia were a community who met in small decentralized groups scattered through the Empire in household-communities. When did this 'ecclesia' begin to mean a building and not the people of God, with Clement of Alexandria?

    You've missed the point.  Christianity was an illegal, underground religion for 300 years.  Try building a Church in Pagan Territory during the just described period or try building an Orthodox Church today in Saudi Arabia.
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    « Reply #31 on: February 18, 2009, 08:14:31 PM »

    There is record of Christian church buildings built before Christianity was legalized. I'm sure people here are familiar with the church that got burned down by the Romans with people in it. So Christians knew quite well not to build giant basilicas until after the Edict of Milan. They met in homes and catacombs.
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    « Reply #32 on: February 18, 2009, 09:08:24 PM »

    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?
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    « Reply #33 on: February 18, 2009, 09:29:24 PM »

    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?

    I suppose the question should be "If they could, would they?" because they didn't, possibly because they couldn't...
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    « Reply #34 on: February 18, 2009, 10:05:46 PM »

    Quote
    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?

    That would be the same as Jews building mega synagogues in Berlin in 1942.
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    « Reply #35 on: February 18, 2009, 11:06:37 PM »

    In a sense, yes. As you know from other posts, I am very happy praying in the mountains near here, and in my room at home. What I wrote on this thread was directed only to the matter of buildings. My point being that some people find awesome magnificent cathedrals inspiring, others might prefer the little seaside chapel of Agios Stavros on a promontory near Phoenix, a 1000-year old dusty Byzantine church, or a plain Methodist chapel from the mid-19th century. So yes - but I was restricting my comments to the matter of architecture.

    Understandable. Strictly from an architectural stand-point, most churches in the U.S. built after 1960 are hideous!! (I'm including all denominations and all sects in that statement!) Things have been improving lately, but there was a LOT of ugly building going on for a while!  Shocked 

    There are, of course, exceptions. But that's a topic for another thread.  Wink  laugh

    I can say Amen to that. Again, you know my warm appreciation of communion services. I sometimes take the Communion service at a little church in Cregrina, a village so small it doesn't appear on all the road maps, miles out in the wilds of mid Wales, sanctuary not much bigger than some people's sitting room. Oldest member now 101. I love it.

    I think you mis-understood me. It wasn't communion in the Baptist sense; when I say that God was present at both Liturgy's I mean He was PHYSICALLY there. Not just in the general "God is Omnipresent" sense. Remember, we believe the Eucharist is the true body and the true blood of Christ.

    Also, it's not just that all Orthodox Churches are partaking of the same body and blood of Christ that unifies us (although that is a HUGE part), it's also the fact that on any given Sunday, we are all saying the same prayers and reading from the same lectionary. I don't know if you browse the other sections on this forum, but as I'm sure you're aware, we are currently preparing for Lent.

    There is something incredibley wonderful and beautiful about the fact that I, Maureen in Atlanta, am rejoicing and struggiling in the same steps as George in Australia, Mike in Poland, and all of my other Orthodox brothers and sisters around the world. We can come together after Liturgy on Sunday, discuss the Feasts & Fasts, and know what we are talking about. To me, that's when the words "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church" (as said in the Nicene Creed) really come alive.

    It is these things that inspire us and keep us solid in the faith. Not the decor around us. If that were the case, then every small mission that started out would die out in no time.

    I didn't use to know that about Orthodox worship, but I soon discovered when I started reading maybe a couple of years ago. It makes sense. We aim, of course, for the same (as you know from your Baptist days), but our minds go to what is sometimes called "the beauty of holiness" - the inward adornment of a humble and cleansed heart worshiping Christ in Spirit and in truth. I am not saying you're wrong and we're right, for I am sure you also aim just as sincerely for that "beauty of holiness" inwardly too. It is what the Lord looks upon, wherever he sees it.

    It is holiness which we aspire to. Your words remind me of Psalm 50 (51), a Psalm that is included in our daily prayers. In particular the below verses strike true:

    10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
             And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
     11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
             And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.


    Providing it is understood, and serves as a pointer to Him and not an obstacle.

    You still haven't shown how it can be an obstacle. We've already estbalished that ritualism can exist anywhere in any church. It is the individual who must decide to follow God and not get caught up in the externals around him. Those externals can be a Praise & Worship band at a Protestant Church or the iconography at an Orthodox Church. Heck, some people just go to church on Sunday to "look good" in the community. The devil tempts us wherever we are; removal of external decorations will not prevent that. Only prayer and fasting can give us the strength to resist it.

    Incidentally, I think the oldest church in England is St Peter's Chapel at Bradwell on Sea, founded in about 654 AD by St Cedd. People forgot it was a church, and it became a barn or similar. In 1920 someone noticed it bore some resemblance to a church, and after some investigation it was re-consecrated and is now once more in use as a place of worship. I believe the Anglicans and Catholics both use it, but when I went in and looked at it, it seemed to me rather like an Orthodox church with beautiful newly painted icons. I think you'd enjoy a visit if you ever come to Britain: I believe GreekChef wishes to come, and she and her husband should include it in their itinerary.

    Sounds lovely. I do hope to "cross the pond" again some day to make it to England. If you ever have the chance to take pictures of the church I'd love to see it.

    I also find it extremely interesting that the Anglicans and the Catholics share the space, considering the, shall we say, "less than friendly" history the two groups have in England.

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    « Reply #36 on: February 18, 2009, 11:18:09 PM »

    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.

    The Synagogue's were different than the Temple. Remember, the Temple is where the animal sacrafices were made. The Temple is the ONLY place animal sacrafices can be made. That is why even in Jewish Synagogue's today, there are no animal sacrafices, because the Temple has been destroyed. (This link speaks about modern Synagogue worship: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/worship/synagogue_1.shtml )

    The Orthodox Church was modeled after the Temple; not the Synagogue.

    This is because the sacrafice of Christ on the cross replaces the need for animal sacrafices, and at every Divine Liturgy we participate in Christ's entire life.

    Remember the words of the Liturgy:

    Priest: Remembering, therefore, this command of the Savior, and all that came to pass for our sake, the cross, the tomb, the resurrection on the third day, the ascension into heaven, the enthronement at the right hand of the Father, and the second, glorious coming, We offer to You these gifts from Your own gifts in all and for all.

    People: We praise You, we bless You, we give thanks to You, and we pray to You, Lord our God.

    Priest: Once again we offer to You this spiritual worship without the shedding of blood, and we ask, pray, and entreat You: send down Your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts here presented.
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    « Reply #37 on: February 18, 2009, 11:22:56 PM »

    Quote
    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.

    Have you heard of Dura Europos? You can find pictures of it on the internet, it's probably a 1st century synagogue, although it may be 2nd century.
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    « Reply #38 on: February 19, 2009, 12:01:57 AM »

    That would be the same as Jews building mega synagogues in Berlin in 1942.

    I was just making a joke about how some Evangelicals are critical of our elaborate Orthodox temples, yet they have no problem with the Protestant megachurch stadium compounds that are on the rise all over the world.
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    « Reply #39 on: February 19, 2009, 12:59:38 AM »

    Quote
    I was just making a joke about how some Evangelicals are critical of our elaborate Orthodox temples, yet they have no problem with the Protestant megachurch stadium compounds that are on the rise all over the world.

    That is certainly true. The giant auditorium churches depress me, they give me the feeling of being in a business meeting room. I don't understand why people would want to throw away all church architecture.
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    « Reply #40 on: February 19, 2009, 02:35:28 AM »

    Quote
    What did the typical 1st century Synagogue look like? The early Church met in Synagogues before they had such elaborate Buildings constructed. Does anyone know what 1st century Synagogues looked like? Thanks.

    Have you heard of Dura Europos? You can find pictures of it on the internet, it's probably a 1st century synagogue, although it may be 2nd century.
    There's an inscription dating it to 244.


    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/34/Duraeuropa-1-.gif
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    « Reply #41 on: February 19, 2009, 02:56:47 AM »

    The picture is mis-behaving in my second post, but if you go to the link I posted and scroll down, you will see the diagram I was trying to show.  Undecided

    I think the image was too large. I've fixed it for you.
    I remember, on the Holy Mountain, being told that on one of the monastery's Church's Iconostasis, the position of the Theotokos and Christ Icon are reversed and no one knows why, but I can't remember which monastery. Apparently, it is the only Eastern Orthodox Church in the world that has the icons reversed.
    I seem to remember them "reversed" in the Syriac Orthodox Churches, including the Patriarchate. Since we (Arabs, Syriacs) still read (as do the Hebrews) from right to left, the reading of Christ has come (the Theotokos), is coming (the altar) and will come (the Pantocrator) would dictate that. (btw, if I remember correctly, the icons in the patriarchate were on pillars).
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    « Reply #42 on: February 19, 2009, 03:07:09 AM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin
    I've been to such "churches" of empty spaces. Nothing to inspire.

    My son, when he was between 1 and 2, used to stand and cross himself whenever he saw a Church on T.V.  Once, when they were showing the Wright Unitarian Temple, he didn't move, and I remarked, "Well, I guess it's official, it's not a Church." Grin

    His mother goes, when she goes, to an Evangelical church.  I found out because the boys started talking about going to "the church where we don't pray."  "It's not really a Church," he told me when 8 "but a place where we sit and watch people."

    So for me, this issue is closed.

    Just curious, do you object to the gimmicky presentations often made of the Gospel in Evangelical forums?
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    « Reply #43 on: February 19, 2009, 03:16:40 AM »

    My son, when he was between 1 and 2, used to stand and cross himself whenever he saw a Church on T.V.  Once, when they were showing the Wright Unitarian Temple, he didn't move, and I remarked, "Well, I guess it's official, it's not a Church." Grin

    His mother goes, when she goes, to an Evangelical church.  I found out because the boys started talking about going to "the church where we don't pray."  "It's not really a Church," he told me when 8 "but a place where we sit an watch people."

    Priceless, simply priceless. Out of the mouths of babes, indeed! If you want the naked, simple truth, ask a child.
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    « Reply #44 on: February 19, 2009, 03:38:18 AM »

    ... Christ has come (the Theotokos), is coming (the altar) and will come (the Pantocrator)

    Here is a simple, easily-understood explanation for the arrangement of the iconography of the iconostasis. So simple, a small child can comprehend it, yet, at the same time, so profound in its ability to summarise so much of the Apostolic faith. The depth and magnitude of this seemingly simple description is truly staggering.

    Cleopas and David Young, your thoughts on this, please.
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    « Reply #45 on: February 19, 2009, 04:41:13 AM »

    some Evangelicals ... have no problem with the Protestant megachurch stadium compounds that are on the rise all over the world.

    Emphasis on the word "some". A lot of us find them a repellent parody of true religion. Happily we don't have them here - though the may be one in London? - but on the odd occasion I've seen a documentary or other programme on TV I react with a combination of repugnance and incipient despair. Actually I don't "see a programme on TV": I very soon switch off.
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    « Reply #46 on: February 19, 2009, 04:42:59 AM »

    Unitarian ... not a Church.

    Quite so.
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    « Reply #47 on: February 19, 2009, 06:57:00 AM »

    I think you mis-understood me. ... when I say that God was present at both Liturgy's I mean He was PHYSICALLY there.

    I didn't really misunderstand you, but maybe I was being just a little bit naughty. You see, we also think Christ is present, but spiritually.

    One of us is misunderstanding what actually happens at the Eucharist, but I do not believe that the true blessing which God gives is dependent on our correct and accurate theological understanding. If you are right, I am sure we too partake of his body and blood; if we are right, I am equally sure you partake of the blessings won by his body and blood given for us all at Calvary.

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    You still haven't shown how it can be an obstacle. ... ritualism can exist anywhere

    There are people (like some who post on these threads) for whom the beauty is a pointer to Christ, and in whom it prompts worship; there are (I think) others who get stuck at the external ambient beauty and feel no need to penetrate what it is all about. This cannot of course be proved, but we all need to ensure that our religion is centred in Spirit and in truth, in the inner person. You are right in adding that a person can attend any church merely for the externals.

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    the oldest church in England is St Peter's Chapel at Bradwell on Sea, founded in about 654 AD by St Cedd.  ...pictures of the church I'd love to see

    You shall: how do I upload them? You probably know, as you have uploaded stuff yourself. I have a collection of photos I've taken of pre-Conquest (1066) churches. Sadly people see them as curios. I went into a church from about the 12th century with a friend (a minister in a small denomination called the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion) to pray together, and in came a couple of sightseers. Said I, "We were about to pray: do join us." I've never seen people leave a church so quickly!

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    I also find it extremely interesting that the Anglicans and the Catholics share the space,

    It seems to me that Anglicans as a body are double-minded and thus unstable in all their ways, despite producing (as I have said elsewhere) some of England's best preachers and some enviably thriving churches. On the one hand they can't get back into Rome quick enough; on the other hand they are promoting women 'priests', women 'bishops' and sodomy, which the Catholics won't touch (rightly so) with a proverbial barge-pole. Within this there are some wonderful Christian people too.
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    « Reply #48 on: February 19, 2009, 09:32:55 AM »

    ... Christ has come (the Theotokos), is coming (the altar) and will come (the Pantocrator)

    Cleopas and David Young, your thoughts on this, please.

    Difficult one, that.

    "Christ has come": the Incarnation, the first Christmas, Athanasius and much more: yes indeed.

    "Christ comes / is coming": of course, we have a different eucharistic theology, and we believe it is a means of present grace in which he meets us and feeds us on the riches purchased by his broken body and shed blood - but not in the physical sense in which you see it. Our communion has a very strong retrospective theme: "This do in remembrance..."

    "Christ will come": Amen, maranatha! We await the parousia with eagerness, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. But personally I always include his present reign at the right hand of God, putting all his enemies under his feet till the last is destroyed which is death, and even now holding all authority in heaven and on earth. So I would probably see the Pantocrator image as having a present as much as a future and eternal reference. Both of course are immeasurably important aspects of the Faith we share in common.

    Maybe all this proves is that I'm not very good at appreciating icons!
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    « Reply #49 on: February 19, 2009, 10:09:09 AM »

    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?

    Every Basilica that Constantine built was a "Mega-Church"... have you ever seen Hagia Sophia?

    Here is a modern Greek Orthodox "Mega-Church" right here in the U.S.  Grin


    http://www.shielsexton.net/trinity/
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    « Reply #50 on: February 19, 2009, 10:27:34 AM »

    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?

    Every Basilica that Constantine built was a "Mega-Church"... have you ever seen Hagia Sophia?

    Here is a modern Greek Orthodox "Mega-Church" right here in the U.S.  Grin


    http://www.shielsexton.net/trinity/

    Well, in fairness to Alveus Lacuna's question, St. Constantine wouldn't qualify as a "New Testament Christian," not because of his belief, but because in our terminology that would refer solely to those who lived in the New Testament times (i.e. Christians of the First Century).
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    « Reply #51 on: February 19, 2009, 10:31:42 AM »

    Did the New Testament Christians build Mega-Churches?

    Every Basilica that Constantine built was a "Mega-Church"... have you ever seen Hagia Sophia?

    Here is a modern Greek Orthodox "Mega-Church" right here in the U.S.  Grin


    http://www.shielsexton.net/trinity/

    Well, in fairness to Alveus Lacuna's question, St. Constantine wouldn't qualify as a "New Testament Christian," not because of his belief, but because in our terminology that would refer solely to those who lived in the New Testament times (i.e. Christians of the First Century).

    Hi Cleveland,

    After the Church began to get incorporated into the Empire were there individuals who escaped into the desert... I thought I read that somewhere?
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    « Reply #52 on: February 19, 2009, 01:04:17 PM »

    Hi Cleveland,

    After the Church began to get incorporated into the Empire were there individuals who escaped into the desert... I thought I read that somewhere?

    Quite a few, actually - for some it was escape from a Church which increasingly had people because it was the dominant religion; but for many of them, it was to endure spiritual martyrdom, since the threat of the sword was no longer present - to sacrifice themselves for the good of humanity by praying for the world while being outside of it.
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    « Reply #53 on: February 20, 2009, 05:50:24 AM »

    The giant auditorium churches depress me, they give me the feeling of being in a business meeting room. I don't understand why people would want to throw away all church architecture.

    It is not the architecture that casts a heavy pall of despair over me, but the gimmicks, the coloured lights, the style of music and entertainment-type performances, which deprive the events of any sense of true religion for me.

    I am entirely happy - nay, delighted - with the image of Billy Graham preaching to thousands in a football stadium; or John Wesley addressing 30,000+ in a natural amphitheatre like Gwennap Pit:

    But at a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many 1,000 people. I stood on one side of this amphitheatre towards the top, with the people beneath and on all sides, and enlarged on those words in the Gospel for the day (Luke 10. 23, 24), 'Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see and ... hear the things that ye hear'."

    He immediately realised that it was a natural auditorium as well as a covert affording protection from high winds. He described it as "a round, green hollow, gently shelving down, about 50 feet deep" in which his hearers were "commodiously placed, row upon row".

    Wesley preached at Gwennap Pit 18 times between 1762 and 1789, always on Sundays around 5 pm and usually from one of the church lessons for the day. His concern over the years was that the increasing crowds should be able to hear him. His own judgment varied from "I think they all heard" to the confident "All could hear distinctly".

    In 1773 he records: "About two and 30,000 people; the largest assembly I ever preached to. Yet I found all could hear. Perhaps the first time a man of 70 has been heard by 30,000 people at once." In those pre-broadcasting days that must have been quite an achievement.

    In 1789, at the age of 86, he wrote of his last visit to the pit, "I preached in the evening at the amphitheatre, I suppose for the last time, for my voice cannot now command the still increasing multitude ... I think it is scarce possible that all should hear."


    God's Spirit was working - and still works - in such circumstances. But the mega-churches with their roving spotlights of different hues, and their high-class entertainment and (it seems) Christian-guru-centred presentation, seem false, a sense of blessing worked up rather than (as it were) 'sent down' from heaven.

    May the Lord correct me if I am wrong - but that is how it comes over to me, and I know I am not alone among Evangelicals in this.
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    « Reply #54 on: February 20, 2009, 10:43:10 AM »

    It is not the architecture that casts a heavy pall of despair over me, but the gimmicks, the coloured lights, the style of music and entertainment-type performances, which deprive the events of any sense of true religion for me.

    I am entirely happy - nay, delighted - with the image of Billy Graham preaching to thousands in a football stadium; or John Wesley addressing 30,000+ in a natural amphitheatre like Gwennap Pit:

    But at a small distance was a hollow capable of containing many 1,000 people. I stood on one side of this amphitheatre towards the top, with the people beneath and on all sides, and enlarged on those words in the Gospel for the day (Luke 10. 23, 24), 'Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see and ... hear the things that ye hear'."

    He immediately realised that it was a natural auditorium as well as a covert affording protection from high winds. He described it as "a round, green hollow, gently shelving down, about 50 feet deep" in which his hearers were "commodiously placed, row upon row".

    Wesley preached at Gwennap Pit 18 times between 1762 and 1789, always on Sundays around 5 pm and usually from one of the church lessons for the day. His concern over the years was that the increasing crowds should be able to hear him. His own judgment varied from "I think they all heard" to the confident "All could hear distinctly".

    In 1773 he records: "About two and 30,000 people; the largest assembly I ever preached to. Yet I found all could hear. Perhaps the first time a man of 70 has been heard by 30,000 people at once." In those pre-broadcasting days that must have been quite an achievement.

    In 1789, at the age of 86, he wrote of his last visit to the pit, "I preached in the evening at the amphitheatre, I suppose for the last time, for my voice cannot now command the still increasing multitude ... I think it is scarce possible that all should hear."


    God's Spirit was working - and still works - in such circumstances. But the mega-churches with their roving spotlights of different hues, and their high-class entertainment and (it seems) Christian-guru-centred presentation, seem false, a sense of blessing worked up rather than (as it were) 'sent down' from heaven.

    May the Lord correct me if I am wrong - but that is how it comes over to me, and I know I am not alone among Evangelicals in this.


    Do you like John Wesley, David? I'm familiar with his sermons. I like his Quadrilateral Method. Perhaps we need another John Wesley in our day?

    So why is Church Design important or should it be important for Christians?
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    « Reply #55 on: February 20, 2009, 01:10:55 PM »

    Do you like John Wesley, David?

    I was converted in Methodism in about 1962, having been taken to Sunday School and later to church as a boy. Methodism arose as a renewal and revival movement within the Church in the 18th century, and had no intention to start new teaching or a new denomination. The Baptists arose more than a hundred years earlier in the 17th century, from conviction of the mind concerning certain beliefs and practices. The ethos and original programme were quite different.

    I see the ethos or spirit of early Methodism as more akin to the character of the early church than the origin and spread of the early Baptists was, and certainly Methodism is my first love. I dare say I have a Methodist heart, and a Baptist head. I read a lot of Methodist literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, and that is certainly the wellspring of my personal religion. When I read in the OT sentences like, "He died and was gathered to his fathers," these I think are especially my people, spiritually. They produced me: they are where I belong.

    This is why I wrote on a earlier post that I see the revival movements of the 18th century as the beginning of the greatest tide of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost, continuing to modern times in different places and at different times - a post which prompted a quick counter from my friend and theological sparring-partner, GreekChef! I cited Zinzendorf as one of the first of God's instruments in this, and of course it was only some 20 years later that Wesley became such a prominent and significant figure in the movement.

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    Church Design ... should it be important for Christians?

    Yes and no. Churches should be clean and well-lit, and suitable for the purpose for which they are built - the worship of God. Comfortable without being unnecessarily luxurious, with good acoustics, and of a suitable size to accommodate the worshippers. This however embraces a Byzantine church with rich icons and carvings, a plain Baptist chapel with unadorned walls and little more than seating, a communion table and a pulpit, and much else besides.

    Buildings should not be so designed as to give a false impression. For example (if I may say so without offence) the new RC church at Fier in Albania carries a huge white statue of the Virgin Mary on its roof over the door, giving the name "Mary Roundabout" to the roundabout by which it stands. To me, it creates a strong impression that she is the one they worship. I am not saying they do: I am saying the building is so designed that it can easily convey such an impression. Similarly (and here again I mean no offence) the Pentecostal church I spoke at recently, because it had removed the pulpit and replaced it on the large platform where it once stood with a plethora of modern musical instruments and music stands, accompanied by a large screen for Powerpoint projection, created the impression that people come to be entertained. I have seen Baptist chapels with so many plaques to past members and church officers on the walls that they seem more like memorials to the dead than places where it might be said, "He is not dead, he is risen," that is, where a risen Christ is worshiped and experienced.

    Church design is important, but the possible range of suitable types is very wide.
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    « Reply #56 on: February 20, 2009, 02:09:35 PM »

    A typical mid- to -late 19th century chapel in Wales (Calvinistic Methodist)
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    « Reply #57 on: February 20, 2009, 02:13:47 PM »

    ...and the Byzantine church, Fodhele, Crete
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    « Reply #58 on: February 20, 2009, 02:15:01 PM »

    Do you like John Wesley, David?

    I was converted in Methodism in about 1962, having been taken to Sunday School and later to church as a boy. Methodism arose as a renewal and revival movement within the Church in the 18th century, and had no intention to start new teaching or a new denomination. The Baptists arose more than a hundred years earlier in the 17th century, from conviction of the mind concerning certain beliefs and practices. The ethos and original programme were quite different.

    I see the ethos or spirit of early Methodism as more akin to the character of the early church than the origin and spread of the early Baptists was, and certainly Methodism is my first love. I dare say I have a Methodist heart, and a Baptist head. I read a lot of Methodist literature from the 18th and 19th centuries, and that is certainly the wellspring of my personal religion. When I read in the OT sentences like, "He died and was gathered to his fathers," these I think are especially my people, spiritually. They produced me: they are where I belong.

    This is why I wrote on a earlier post that I see the revival movements of the 18th century as the beginning of the greatest tide of the Holy Spirit since Pentecost, continuing to modern times in different places and at different times - a post which prompted a quick counter from my friend and theological sparring-partner, GreekChef! I cited Zinzendorf as one of the first of God's instruments in this, and of course it was only some 20 years later that Wesley became such a prominent and significant figure in the movement.

    Yes, he seemed to be a very thoughtful individual. I really like this synthesis of the Protestant Movement of his day with the Institutional Tradition of his country. A shame the Methodists eventually separated from Anglicanism.

    Quote
    Quote
    Church Design ... should it be important for Christians?

    Yes and no. Churches should be clean and well-lit, and suitable for the purpose for which they are built - the worship of God. Comfortable without being unnecessarily luxurious, with good acoustics, and of a suitable size to accommodate the worshippers. This however embraces a Byzantine church with rich icons and carvings, a plain Baptist chapel with unadorned walls and little more than seating, a communion table and a pulpit, and much else besides.

    Buildings should not be so designed as to give a false impression. For example (if I may say so without offence) the new RC church at Fier in Albania carries a huge white statue of the Virgin Mary on its roof over the door, giving the name "Mary Roundabout" to the roundabout by which it stands. To me, it creates a strong impression that she is the one they worship. I am not saying they do: I am saying the building is so designed that it can easily convey such an impression. Similarly (and here again I mean no offence) the Pentecostal church I spoke at recently, because it had removed the pulpit and replaced it on the large platform where it once stood with a plethora of modern musical instruments and music stands, accompanied by a large screen for Powerpoint projection, created the impression that people come to be entertained. I have seen Baptist chapels with so many plaques to past members and church officers on the walls that they seem more like memorials to the dead than places where it might be said, "He is not dead, he is risen," that is, where a risen Christ is worshiped and experienced.

    Church design is important, but the possible range of suitable types is very wide.

    You know these 'plaques' remind me of the use of 'icons of the saints' in Orthodoxy. It seems everyone want's to remember those past who were important in some way.

    Do you think the early ecclesia were concerned with building design? Do you think that there is a particular emphasis of 'externals' in Christianity today? Are we more interested in how 'impressive' our building is and our practices than we are of our own hearts? Has Christianity become an 'external religion' as opposed to 'an interior work of the Holy Ghost'? Was this partly due to the incorporation of Christianity into the Roman Empire?

    Feel free to elaborate or touch on these for me if you'd like? Thanks.
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    « Reply #59 on: February 20, 2009, 03:12:29 PM »

    1) Do you think the early ecclesia were concerned with building design?
    2) Do you think that there is a particular emphasis of 'externals' in Christianity today? Are we more interested in how 'impressive' our building is and our practices than we are of our own hearts?
    3) Has Christianity become an 'external religion' as opposed to 'an interior work of the Holy Ghost'?
    4)Was this partly due to the incorporation of Christianity into the Roman Empire?

    1) I confess I know nothing at all about early Christian church buildings, their interior or exterior. There seem to be some mosaics from the 4th or 5th centuries, but even them I have never studied. Early churches in England were mainly wooden and only one such has survived (in Essex). The few stone churches from that period are simple, dignified sanctuaries where it is easy to worship. In Breamore you still see the engraving on a stone arch: Her swutelað seo gecwydrædnes ðe - Here the covenant is revealed to you.

    2) There was a very interesting and, to me, very sad change in chapel architecture about the year 1865. (I can speak only of England and Wales, and I mean Baptist and Methodist.) Prior to that, buildings were utilitarian, plain, unadorned, and the people in them were full of the Holy Spirit, experiencing power, deep repentance, lasting conversions often of notoriously wicked characters, followed by sustained, life-long growth in holiness, much prayer, ardent worship... you get the picture. The last long and widespread revival in England and Wales was about 1859-1865. After that, liberal theology infected the churches, respectability grew, the fire died down and in many cases was lost. Ever since then, we have experienced an almost uninterrupted spiritual decline and now perhaps 2% of the population attend church frequently and regularly. But from about 1870 the chapels became ornate - pretty towers, crenellations, arches, spires, coloured windows... again, you get the picture. As inner religion declined, so buildings grew in ornamentation.

    3) I fear that a lot of current Evangelical and Pentecostal religion in the West is more like a form of entertainment than a penitent, believing, prayerful and grateful approach to a holy God and Father. I do not know about trends in Catholicism and Orthodoxy. But of course true religion 'in Spirit and in truth' remains and always will remain in the earth.

    4) It is generally believed that the cessation of persecution, and the new social and professional advantages for people to be members of the Church, after Constantine's profession of faith, led to an influx of not really converted people and a decline in ardent spirituality.
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    « Reply #60 on: February 20, 2009, 10:14:28 PM »

    The giant auditorium churches depress me, they give me the feeling of being in a business meeting room. I don't understand why people would want to throw away all church architecture.

    It is not the architecture that casts a heavy pall of despair over me, but the gimmicks, the coloured lights, the style of music and entertainment-type performances, which deprive the events of any sense of true religion for me.
    Exactly! This is what is wrong with megachurches--not that they are large, but that they are large because they perform for an audience. An immense gathering of Christians to worship God truly is amazing.
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    « Reply #61 on: February 21, 2009, 04:45:22 AM »

    I didn't really misunderstand you, but maybe I was being just a little bit naughty. You see, we also think Christ is present, but spiritually.

    One of us is misunderstanding what actually happens at the Eucharist, but I do not believe that the true blessing which God gives is dependent on our correct and accurate theological understanding. If you are right, I am sure we too partake of his body and blood; if we are right, I am equally sure you partake of the blessings won by his body and blood given for us all at Calvary.

    See my response to this here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19850.new.html#new

    There are people (like some who post on these threads) for whom the beauty is a pointer to Christ, and in whom it prompts worship; there are (I think) others who get stuck at the external ambient beauty and feel no need to penetrate what it is all about. This cannot of course be proved, but we all need to ensure that our religion is centred in Spirit and in truth, in the inner person. You are right in adding that a person can attend any church merely for the externals.

    We agree that people can get caught up in the externals; what you have yet to prove is how our decor detracts from Christ. If someone decides to get caught up in the externals of the faith (whether it be the iconography in an Orthodox Church or the Praise & Worship band at a Protestant Church) that is the individual's choice. Not the Church's fault.

    You shall: how do I upload them?


    I have no clue. LOL  Cheesy  Huh
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    « Reply #62 on: February 21, 2009, 05:00:01 PM »

    If someone is distracted by iconography, at least they are seeing a Bible story or saint's life being depicted. If there is no iconography, people can still get distracted by counting ceiling tiles and all sorts of things.
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    « Reply #63 on: February 21, 2009, 06:31:54 PM »

    what you have yet to prove is how our decor detracts from Christ.

    I don't think it does - at least, no more than the externals of any brand of Christianity can be where someone stops. All I am saying is that each of us must ensure he worships God with the heart, mind and soul, and we need to keep and eye on each other, especially pastors need to do this, to stir each other up where needed to true religion, the faith that works by love.
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    « Reply #64 on: February 21, 2009, 09:51:53 PM »

    I don't think it does - at least, no more than the externals of any brand of Christianity can be where someone stops. All I am saying is that each of us must ensure he worships God with the heart, mind and soul, and we need to keep and eye on each other, especially pastors need to do this, to stir each other up where needed to true religion, the faith that works by love.

    Of course; this is why the relationship between a parishioner and his Spiritual Father is so important. Through the sacrament of confession, the Spiritual Father is able to see where each person is in their walk with Christ, and guide them along the path. It is like having a guide along the trail; someone who is there to point you in the right direction when you stumble and fall.

    The importance of this relationship cannot be understated.

    On a personal note, knowing that I have someone there to guide me, someone who is personally involved in helping me achieve salvation is very comforting. It’s helpful to know that there is someone I can turn to whenever I have questions, and that there is someone there to pray for me, and pray over me when needed. It has been a great help in my spiritual growth.
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    « Reply #65 on: February 22, 2009, 05:42:03 PM »

    an Evangelical church.  ... "the church where we don't pray."  "It's not really a Church," he told me when 8 "but a place where we sit and watch people."

    I've been thinking about this, and I see what he means. Mind you, remember that when I went to the Orthodox a few Sundays ago in Handbridge, we only watched and listened, and there was no audience participation at all except the Lord's Prayer and the Nicene Creed.

    Nonetheless, I see what the lad meant. I often wish we had liturgical prayers, that is, ones we all say together. But then, many of our hymns are just that, except that instead of saying them we set them to music and sing them together. We do try to will our agreement with the minister's prayer, and sometimes a service is thrown open for anyone to lead the congregation in prayer, especially (in our case) at the Lord's Supper. And don't forget that an Evangelical church will have a prayer meeting at some point in the week, when the people come together and pray.

    It's not quite as prayerless as it seemed from the report you quote: nonetheless, it is a salutary lesson for us Evangelicals to heed.
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    « Reply #66 on: February 22, 2009, 08:13:42 PM »

    Me thinks you make to much of these layouts, positions, forms and what not.
    The Lord said that where 2 or 3 are gathered together in His name that He is in their midst. That truth applies in a church building, or a barn. With ornate fixtures and sacred instruments for such services and without. Indoors and outdoors. God dwells not in temples made with hands, nor of rock or stone, but in us His people.  Grin

    But who is His people.  That is the question.

    The Church buiding is the Gospel in architectural form, but yes, we (meaning us Orthodox) can worship without them.  During Communism, many priests used to go into the forest with only an antimens (the cloth icon that contains relics and the permission of the bishop to gather as a parish on it) out into the woods, where the people would gather and Divine Liturgy was celebrated on the antimens laid on a wagon, etc.  But for us who have means and freedom, there is no excuse for NOT having "these layouts, positions, forms and what not."  My sons, as I mentioned, used to go with their mother to a well know mega-church, which is huge: my son compared it to a mall, with all the shops but no Cross.  He noticed it was missing something.  Our Orthodox parish is quite modest in size, but when I showed the antimens to my son, when it was spread out on the altar, he remarked "mama's church doesn't have half the things we do."  Of course, with the antimens, the importance is that it shows that we have Apostolic succession, the living link to the NT Church, and with the Universal Church throughout the world.

    Which brings up a comparison of two or three gathered in His name, and those CLAIMING to gather in His name: He who said "The person who listens to you listens to Me, and the person who rejects you rejects Me" also said “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters."

    For instance, looking at the image that Handmaiden has graciously posted, there is the altar, the episcopal throne (in any Church, not only the cathedral, as any Church parish exists only by virtue of the bishop delegating a priest so it may gather), and the icons.  Your two or three don't have these things, and I assume you claim that they shouldn't miss them.  Needless to say, I, and more importantly, Christ's Church, disagrees with you.

    The altar: a priest I know (actually he is rather well known) talked about going to talk to a congregational church in New England.  He remarked that when he entered the "church" he noticed a small altar and a BIG pulpit, which told him all he needed to know about that parish.  While talking about Orthodox worship, one of the parisioners asked him about incense, so he burned some.  The minister said, in all the 300 year history of the parish, it was sure that it was the first time incense was offered in that church.  Worship means sacrifice and offerings, the altar reminds us that Sunday is not about us, it's about Him.  The ecclesiology of the two or three gathered in His name to request things seems to forget that, and "worship" means little more than a ad hoc meeting to present a wish list, along with sharing idiomatic "understandings" of Scripture.

    The priest also noticed on entry that in the doorway all the names of the ministers from the 1600s were written on the walls of the narthex. That's still 1600 year short of the Apostles. The throne reminds us that we were received into the Church, we didn't make her up.  We are gathered because we are the flock that has a shepherd appointed over it directly from the Good Shepherd.  And being in union with the bishop, we are in union with all the other bishops in communion and their flocks across the world and through time, i.e. the One, Holy, CATHOLIC and APOSTOLIC Church.

    And then there is the icons.  Your two or three gather and decide what they think scripture is telling them.  But without any bearings, they don't see their are reading their own projections into it.  The icons show the Cloud of Witnesses who surrounded us.

    Witnesses to us, because they have passed the Faith and demonstrated it to us.

    Witnesses for us, because they intercede now before the Throne.

    Witnesses against us, because if we decide to add or subtract the Faith delievered once and for all to these saints, who passed it on to us, the testimony that they have left in all the generations from c. 33 A.D. to the present will leave us without an excuse.l

    So, yes, it is nice to think that you need only two or three to hang out a shingle to make a church, but it can, and usually is, very parochial.
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    « Reply #67 on: February 22, 2009, 08:27:19 PM »

    Orthodox icons and chants from over 70 Cultures!

    ^
    Cleopas, David, what say ye?
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    « Reply #68 on: February 23, 2009, 06:33:43 AM »

    I do hope to "cross the pond" again some day to make it to England. If you ever have the chance to take pictures of the church I'd love to see it.

    When you do come to Britain, let me know what you'd like to see - ancient churches, picturesque villages, countryside, historic towns, or whatever - and if I'm not free to show them to you I may at least be able to give some advice about where to look.

    I shall try to attach a picture of St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell on Sea, built ca 654 AD. If a photo appears, that is it! I couldn't get good pictures inside because of the angle, but I think you might like the icon of Christ and the other decor.
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    « Reply #69 on: February 23, 2009, 01:53:44 PM »

    Orthodox icons and chants ...Cleopas, David, what say ye?

    Can't comment on the chants - haven't got speakers on the computer.

    I didn't look at all seventy icons, but all the ones I did look at were (I think) of Mary and Jesus. "What say ye?"

    - Icons more generally can be of real beauty. That I can say immediately.

    - Personally, I prefer ones that depict an event, even though the event must include people, to ones which only depict certain people: thus, the Last Supper or the Transfiguration holds more appeal that an icon of Mary, John, Peter or whomever.

    - Some icons carry a more obvious meaning - such as the Christ Pantocrator we have discussed earlier.

    - I can't appreciate pictures of people whose real appearance we have no idea of. I know that there is symbolism and artistry involved, including the conflated writing when there is writing, but I do not know the symbolism so I fail to appreciate it.

    - The ones of Mary look very Catholic to me, as an outsider to both Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Jesus is always smaller than Mary, and that seems to be the wrong way round. It is this sort of imagery that gives us Protestants the idea that Mary is nearer, or greater, or more important in popular piety than Jesus is - that Jesus is a remote, somewhat unapproachable figure - and of course that makes us think the Orthodoxy is really Catholicism without the Pope (not that I think that, but I used to before I started reading about it, which most Evangelicals don't).

    I hope that doesn't seem insensitively curt or blunt; I have tried to answer truthfully.
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    « Reply #70 on: February 23, 2009, 02:12:04 PM »

    - The ones of Mary look very Catholic to me, as an outsider to both Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Jesus is always smaller than Mary, and that seems to be the wrong way round. It is this sort of imagery that gives us Protestants the idea that Mary is nearer, or greater, or more important in popular piety than Jesus is - that Jesus is a remote, somewhat unapproachable figure - and of course that makes us think the Orthodoxy is really Catholicism without the Pope (not that I think that, but I used to before I started reading about it, which most Evangelicals don't).


    Could this possibly be because Mary is invariably shown with the Child Jesus?  Depicting her with Christ as a child accentuates her role as Theotokos (eg His Mother) and leads one to not think of her apart from Jesus.  You'll also note that in most every icon of Mary and Child, she is usually gesturing in some way to Jesus.
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    « Reply #71 on: February 23, 2009, 02:38:35 PM »

    I do hope to "cross the pond" again some day to make it to England. If you ever have the chance to take pictures of the church I'd love to see it.

    When you do come to Britain, let me know what you'd like to see - ancient churches, picturesque villages, countryside, historic towns, or whatever - and if I'm not free to show them to you I may at least be able to give some advice about where to look.

    I shall try to attach a picture of St Peter's Chapel, Bradwell on Sea, built ca 654 AD. If a photo appears, that is it! I couldn't get good pictures inside because of the angle, but I think you might like the icon of Christ and the other decor.

    Thank you for the picture. I would like to see the interior some day, as it doesn't look like much from the outside.  Wink
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    « Reply #72 on: February 23, 2009, 03:28:29 PM »

    Can't comment on the chants - haven't got speakers on the computer.

    I didn't look at all seventy icons, but all the ones I did look at were (I think) of Mary and Jesus. "What say ye?"

    - Icons more generally can be of real beauty. That I can say immediately.
    - Personally, I prefer ones that depict an event, even though the event must include people, to ones which only depict certain people: thus, the Last Supper or the Transfiguration holds more appeal that an icon of Mary, John, Peter or whomever.
    - Some icons carry a more obvious meaning - such as the Christ Pantocrator we have discussed earlier.


    This is true, all icons aren’t plainly obvious. But, all things about God aren’t plainly obvious either. As we learn about the Church and her iconography, so too do we learn about God and His nature. This is not to say that if one is a Master Iconographer he knows all about God; it just means that things are revealed over time. After all, did you understand everything about Christ when you started your walk with Him?

    - I can't appreciate pictures of people whose real appearance we have no idea of. I know that there is symbolism and artistry involved, including the conflated writing when there is writing, but I do not know the symbolism so I fail to appreciate it.

    These are things that are learned over time. Remember, iconography is meant to be used as an educational tool in the Church. It is not uncommon for my priest to refer to an icon in the Church during one of his sermons and to talk about what is going on in it. No one would be expected to walk into an Orthodox Church and automatically know what is going on in all of the iconography. Even in icons where the event is clear (say the crucifixion of Christ) there is often a lot of meaning that is implied that isn’t obvious to the uninformed eye.

    - The ones of Mary look very Catholic to me, as an outsider to both Catholicism and Orthodoxy. Jesus is always smaller than Mary, and that seems to be the wrong way round. It is this sort of imagery that gives us Protestants the idea that Mary is nearer, or greater, or more important in popular piety than Jesus is - that Jesus is a remote, somewhat unapproachable figure - and of course that makes us think the Orthodoxy is really Catholicism without the Pope (not that I think that, but I used to before I started reading about it, which most Evangelicals don't).

    I hope that doesn't seem insensitively curt or blunt; I have tried to answer truthfully.

    Aside from icons that are telling events that involved the Theotokos prior to Christ’s birth (the presentation of Mary into the Temple, the Annunciation of Christ’s birth), Mary is always with Christ. As the diagram in Post #2 shows, an icon of Mary holding Christ as a child is usually on the left side of the Beautiful Gates, and an icon of Christ as Pantocrator is usually on the right. This symbolizes how He came (as a child), and how He will come again (as Ruler over all.) Even in the icon of the Platytera (see attached), which is usually in the apse of the sacristy behind the iconostas, Christ is sitting on Mary’s lap. This represents how Christ came through her (literally/physically) as the gateway into this world.

     
    The Theotokos always points us to Christ. In fact, even in icons of the saints where Christ may not be pictured, they are pointing to Christ, whether it be holding a cross or their fingers positioned in such a way that make the initials for “Jesus Christ” in Greek.

    Furthermore, the reason it seems “Catholic” to you is because the two groups do have a shared history, and Orthodox style iconography is present in Catholic Churches.

    In regards to Protestants thinking that Catholics and Orthodox Christians worship Mary; that is from ignorant assumptions about veneration.  It seems to me that Protestants feel that everything in a church should be plainly apparent to all who walk in within 2 seconds of walking into the church building. We do not share this belief.

    Most accusations from Protestants towards the Orthodox and Catholic churches come from ignorance, rather than the concerted effort to learn about and study our faiths. Furthermore, most bigotry expressed by Protestants to Orthodox and Catholics come from lies told by Protestant pastors at the pulpit. This includes statements such as “Catholics/Orthodox are not Christians.” “All Catholics/Orthodox are going to hell.” “They worship Mary.” “They worship the saints.” Etc. (I never really understood why Protestant pastors would waste time preaching lies about other faiths from their pulpit. Wouldn’t the time be better spent worshipping the Trinity?)

    The point is that just because everything isn’t plainly obvious in meaning doesn’t mean it detracts from worshipping the Holy Trinity. What few in the Protestant Church fail to remember is that it was all this symbolism and “accretions” that carried the faith from generation to generation for over 1500 years so that the Protestant Reformers could even know that Christ existed.
    While to you all of this may “detract” from worship of the Holy Trinity, if you were to read our services, read our prayers, you would see that is not so.

    For there is only one we worship, and that is the one Triune God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    Everything in the Church just points to Him.

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    « Reply #73 on: February 23, 2009, 06:32:16 PM »

    ^
    Excellent post, Handmaiden!  Smiley
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    « Reply #74 on: November 20, 2010, 11:40:59 AM »

    Slavic Churches usually have more developed iconostasises:
    • the second row (the first one has already been described by HandmaidenofGod: the icon of Mystical Supper in the middle and icons of 12 Major Feasts
    • the third row: icon of Deesis  and icons of the 12 Apostles
    • the fourth row: icon of Theothokos and icons of Old Testament Prophets
    • the fifth row: icon of Holy Trinity or the Anastasis and icons of New Testament Saints

    No, the Desis icon is flanked by the Theotkos, the Forerunner, St Michale & St Gabriel the Archangels, Sts. Peter & Paul, St Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. gregory, and St. Nicholas of Myra and any local saints.
    The 5th would be the Hospitality of Abraham and Sarah icon with the Patriarchs of the OT.
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    « Reply #75 on: November 20, 2010, 02:38:31 PM »

    I know what Deesis is. I meant that the abbreviated Deesis (Christ, St. John and Mary) is surrounded by separate icons of the Apostles.
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    « Reply #76 on: November 21, 2010, 09:56:53 AM »

    I know what Deesis is. I meant that the abbreviated Deesis (Christ, St. John and Mary) is surrounded by separate icons of the Apostles.

    And again I say No. The Russian standard after the "abbreviated" is Sts Michael & Gabriel the Archangels, Sts Peter & Paul, Sts Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory, and St Nicholas of Myra, followed by local saints of veneration which MAY include the other Apostles.
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    « Reply #77 on: November 21, 2010, 10:54:09 AM »

    Check this.
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    « Reply #78 on: November 22, 2010, 10:21:44 AM »

    Check this.

    1 iconostasis does not a tradition make.
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    « Reply #79 on: November 22, 2010, 11:43:24 AM »

    Check this.

    1 iconostasis does not a tradition make.

    Does an extract from the students book approved by the Synod of Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church makes one?
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    « Reply #80 on: November 22, 2010, 12:31:22 PM »

    I know what Deesis is. I meant that the abbreviated Deesis (Christ, St. John and Mary) is surrounded by separate icons of the Apostles.

    And again I say No. The Russian standard after the "abbreviated" is Sts Michael & Gabriel the Archangels, Sts Peter & Paul, Sts Basil the Great, John Chrysostom, Gregory, and St Nicholas of Myra, followed by local saints of veneration which MAY include the other Apostles.

    I'm not so sure, I've seen many Churches where the Apostles were next...

    Also, I think it is sort of a mistake for Churches to go full-height with it's iconostasis. This for one, cuts the faithful off completely from the sanctuary. It also disallows the faithful to see things like the Theotokos of the Sign (aka, the Mercy Seat) icon that is supposed to be placed in the apse. Not only this, but full-height iconostasis also cut the Priest off acoustically from the faithful, and hence defeats the purpose of Orthodox Churches being naturally designed for good acoustics. (and thus, taking away from the traditional design of the Church) Traditional Orthodox Churches do not have these full height iconostasis, which are often overpowering and overwhelming. (which is an element of Western Cathedrals, not Orthodox Churches)

    Orthodox Churches are meant to be designed, not just in a traditional form, but even their proportions are meant to conform to tradition.

    http://www.newworldbyzantine.com/articles/pdf/12571623810822660.pdf
    http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/pews.aspx
    http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7100
    http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8025
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    « Reply #81 on: November 22, 2010, 02:39:35 PM »

    Check this.

    1 iconostasis does not a tradition make.

    Does an extract from the students book approved by the Synod of Polish Autocephalous Orthodox Church makes one?

    It may make it the Polish trandition, a local custom. I have done a lot of studying on iconostasises before building them, and the Russian tradition, in almost all of my studies is the order I mentioned above. i.e. http://skete.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=744&Category_ID=58
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    « Reply #82 on: November 22, 2010, 02:47:15 PM »

    The picture I linked is from Romania, this one is from Greece... This one is Romanian too.
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    « Reply #83 on: November 22, 2010, 03:07:47 PM »

    The picture I linked is from Romania, this one is from Greece... This one is Romanian too.

    I thought we were talking of the Russian tradition?
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    « Reply #84 on: November 22, 2010, 04:28:24 PM »

    And here is Russia. It looks like it's rather popular.
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    « Reply #85 on: November 22, 2010, 06:30:38 PM »

    And here is Russia. It looks like it's rather popular.

    It is. So is using the last supper above the beautiful gates instead of Christ communing the Apostles. My point still stands as to what the tradition is, however. I guess I could conceede and say there are now multiple traditions these days. :-)
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    « Reply #86 on: November 22, 2010, 07:39:08 PM »

    I think much of what is found in the points being made of differences in taste and such, is actually theologically rooted.  It seems to me to be a manifestation of the lack of sacramentality in much of Protestantism and certainly Evangelicalism.  It comes from a belief that objects and places cannot be holy.  That there is nothing more to an icon than simply being pleasant to look at (perhaps) and that "reminds" us of things.  But there is much more to an icon than that for Orthodox.  It is, in itself, a holy object able to change us with the same power and reality as the hem of Christ's garment when he felt power leave Him.  Or when people were healed by St. Paul's shadow.

    My point is that a church absolutely needs these things and they aren't mere niceties to suit the tastes of a particular people.  So while I understand your point about the bare-bones churches of Methodists, David, I still think those churches were lacking something, even though God's presence could certainly be felt and their prayer was genuine. 
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    « Reply #87 on: November 22, 2010, 11:03:52 PM »

    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deisis

    The central Christ is therefore above the main door in the screen. Soon seven figures, usually one to a panel, were standard, in order of proximity to Christ in the centre: on the left (Christ's right) Mary, the Archangel Michael and Saint Peter, and on the right John the Baptist, the Archangel Gabriel and Saint Paul. Especially in Russian examples, a number of saints of local significance are often included behind these, as space allows. Andrey Rublev's row for the Cathedral of the Dormition in Vladimir were 3.14 metres (over ten feet) high... In the Greek tradition the Apostles are more likely to occupy extra panels.
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