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Author Topic: Orthodox Church Design  (Read 10878 times) Average Rating: 0
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David Young
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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.

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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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