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Author Topic: My Journey as a "Born-Again" Christian (please help)  (Read 9765 times) Average Rating: 0
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lostandelirious
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« on: April 19, 2009, 10:35:51 PM »

Hi, I'm a new member here.

I came here to learn about my denomination, Eastern (Greek) Orthodoxy.

I was baptised Orthodox and attend an Orthodox church (not regularly though, I have probably gone to church a collective 50-60 times MAX in the 15 years I've lived). Even though we are Orthodox I was raised in a Legalist, Catholic mindset of grace through good works. I had a horrible guilt complex as a child, I thought I was damned for everything I used to do.

I used to want to be a priest, or a missionary. I was rather Conservative politically too as a child. Then middle school happened, and I lost my mind (well not really, I just met some new "cool" people). I slowly became Liberal and anti-religion. I used to fight about it all the time at the Lutheran school I attended since age 2, and I still attend a Lutheran school. I was attacked alot, but I stood firm in my beliefs.

Then I met a classmate, who opened my eyes. And also I became disillusioned with the Liberal media elite and their oppressive close-mindedness and bias towards anything remotely Christian, especially now with the Obama administration. I felt that the Liberal party I once belonged to, one of equality, tolerance, peace, and love--had become the exact opposite.

So I've been reading the Bible, talking to my friend, and growing in faith, although I still struggle with questions and my own stubborn opinions and feelings.

Now I am questioning what it means to be Orthodox. I used to believe denomination was inconsequential, but the more I learn of others the more I've realized that it is important what denomination you claim to be, some are sooo off theologically.

We have to go to the Bible for everything, the denomination that is closest to the Bible is the true Christian denomination. I am on a quest to learn which one that is.

So, I have questions of my fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters:

What is our doctrine? The Lutherans have The Small Catechism, what do we have?

And on iconography and the Virgin Mary, is there any BIBLICAL evidence to support the belief in either of those?

I would like to know these things, I'm going on feelings and feelings aren't always the best sometimes. I need IN GOD'S WORD that what we believe, the distinguishing marks of Orthodox, are correct.

Please help. Thanks so much! Smiley
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2009, 10:54:50 PM »

Visit a local priest.
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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2009, 10:56:01 PM »

lostandelirious,

Welcome to the OC.net Forum. Grin

I think the first thing I should offer in reply to your inquiry is that all doctrine in the Orthodox Church is based on Holy Tradition, which has been defined as the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church through all time and the life of the Church as guided by the Holy Spirit.  This includes the Scriptures but cannot be reduced to the Scriptures alone.  As Scriptural evidence of our regard for Tradition, I offer these passages from the Epistles of St. Paul:

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."  2 Thessalonians 2:15

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us."
« Last Edit: April 19, 2009, 11:07:52 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
lostandelirious
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« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2009, 10:59:15 PM »

Holy Tradition?

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think. I dunno, I'm not saying what you said is invalid, I've just never heard of it so I'm having trouble understanding it.

And yes, I intend on visiting my priest Smiley
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« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2009, 11:01:28 PM »

Holy Tradition?

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think. I dunno, I'm not saying what you said is invalid, I've just never heard of it so I'm having trouble understanding it.

And yes, I intend on visiting my priest Smiley
You replied before I finished my post.  Please wait for me to finish. Wink
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« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2009, 11:01:51 PM »

Holy Tradition?

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think. I dunno, I'm not saying what you said is invalid, I've just never heard of it so I'm having trouble understanding it.

And yes, I intend on visiting my priest Smiley

But the Bible didn't exist for the first 300 years after the resurrection....so how can it be our only source? The Bible was compiled by the Church through Holy Tradition.
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« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2009, 11:07:01 PM »

Welcome to the forum!

You may want to click on the tags below and read through some of the previous threads on these issues.  With regard to scriptures and tradition, you need to realize that it was the Church that compiled the Christian Bible.  See reply 6 in the thread below for something I wrote about how tradition was used to judge which books got into the Bible.  Without tradition we wouldn't have the Bible as we know it.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,6654.msg87080.html#msg87080
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« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2009, 11:10:57 PM »

Holy Tradition?

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think. I dunno, I'm not saying what you said is invalid, I've just never heard of it so I'm having trouble understanding it.
sola scriptura - The belief that the Scriptures alone are to be our authority on matters of doctrine - one of the foundational planks of the Protestant Reformation - therefore a very Protestant doctrine that has no place in the Orthodox faith.
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« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2009, 11:19:19 PM »

lostandelirious,

Welcome to the OC.net Forum. Grin

I think the first thing I should offer in reply to your inquiry is that all doctrine in the Orthodox Church is based on Holy Tradition, which has been defined as the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church through all time and the life of the Church as guided by the Holy Spirit.  This includes the Scriptures but cannot be reduced to the Scriptures alone.  As Scriptural evidence of our regard for Tradition, I offer these passages from the Epistles of St. Paul:

"So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter."  2 Thessalonians 2:15

"Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is living in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us."
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed."  - 1 Corinthians 15:3-11

The above comes from one of St. Paul's earliest epistles, which he wrote even before the Gospels themselves were written.  The only Scriptures he had, and of which he spoke, therefore, were the Old Testament Scriptures of the Law and the Prophets.  So where did he receive his teaching on the Resurrection except from his own experience of the resurrected Christ and the public eye-witness accounts of the Apostles as they were relayed by word of mouth?  This is part of what we mean by Holy Tradition.
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« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2009, 11:36:25 PM »

Note also the words of 1 Timothy 3:15, in which St. Paul calls the Church "the pillar and ground of the truth".  Based on this verse from what all Christians recognize as Scripture, it is right to speak of the Church as the authoritative witness of the life, the public doctrine, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ--that which is essentially the content of Holy Tradition.
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« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2009, 01:41:28 AM »

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think.

Welcome to the forum!
As Ukiemeister said this is the first belief you need to question, since it is patently wrong.
Christianity pre-dates the New Testament, therefore, the New Testament came out of the Church, not the other way around.
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lostandelirious
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« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2009, 01:50:41 AM »

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.

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« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2009, 02:13:59 AM »

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.



If the Bible was not compiled until the late 4th century (which is a historically proven fact) then for the first 3 centuries of Christianity, Christians did not have a common collection of books they called the Bible. One church might have the Gospel of John and a few epistles, another might have Matthew and Luke, a third community might have the Gospel of Mark and most likely a fe false Gnostic books. There was no Bible as we know it today. So then, if as you say the Bible is our source, how did the Christians in that time know what to believe? How did they know what Books were of sound doctrine. Simple. The Church told them. The Church testified to the truth that was revealed to them by the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2009, 02:16:07 AM »

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.



Huh
Even if what you say were true, are you saying that the Church did not exist until after the New Testament was written? So to whom were the Epistles addressed? To Churches or to something else?
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« Reply #14 on: April 20, 2009, 02:17:51 AM »

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.


But, according to John 1:1-18, is not Jesus Christ God's Word?  To my knowledge, there's nothing in the Bible to indicate that the Bible itself is God's Word.  Would not such an assertion as you just made constitute bibliolatry?
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« Reply #15 on: April 20, 2009, 05:29:00 AM »

lostandelirious,

Welcome to the forum. You might find this article on Scripture and Tradition useful... http://www.protomartyr.org/scripture.html
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« Reply #16 on: April 20, 2009, 07:16:45 AM »

Hi, I'm a new member here.

I came here to learn about my denomination, Eastern (Greek) Orthodoxy.

I was baptised Orthodox and attend an Orthodox church (not regularly though, I have probably gone to church a collective 50-60 times MAX in the 15 years I've lived). Even though we are Orthodox I was raised in a Legalist, Catholic mindset of grace through good works. I had a horrible guilt complex as a child, I thought I was damned for everything I used to do.

I used to want to be a priest, or a missionary. I was rather Conservative politically too as a child. Then middle school happened, and I lost my mind (well not really, I just met some new "cool" people). I slowly became Liberal and anti-religion. I used to fight about it all the time at the Lutheran school I attended since age 2, and I still attend a Lutheran school. I was attacked alot, but I stood firm in my beliefs.

Then I met a classmate, who opened my eyes. And also I became disillusioned with the Liberal media elite and their oppressive close-mindedness and bias towards anything remotely Christian, especially now with the Obama administration. I felt that the Liberal party I once belonged to, one of equality, tolerance, peace, and love--had become the exact opposite.

So I've been reading the Bible, talking to my friend, and growing in faith, although I still struggle with questions and my own stubborn opinions and feelings.

Now I am questioning what it means to be Orthodox. I used to believe denomination was inconsequential, but the more I learn of others the more I've realized that it is important what denomination you claim to be, some are sooo off theologically.

We have to go to the Bible for everything, the denomination that is closest to the Bible is the true Christian denomination. I am on a quest to learn which one that is.

So, I have questions of my fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters:

What is our doctrine? The Lutherans have The Small Catechism, what do we have?

Christ is Risen!

Welcome!

We have the True Church.

Quote
And on iconography and the Virgin Mary, is there any BIBLICAL evidence to support the belief in either of those?

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,).

14:9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Hebrews 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person

Luke 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?


Quote
I would like to know these things, I'm going on feelings and feelings aren't always the best sometimes. I need IN GOD'S WORD that what we believe, the distinguishing marks of Orthodox, are correct.

Please help. Thanks so much! Smiley

Word of God, eh?  Who told you what the Word of God is?  If the Church's interpretation on what scripture says is not good enough for you, why take what she says is "God's Word?"  Check what God the Word said about that:e.g. Luke 10:16.

Find solo scriptura in the scriptures.

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.



"God's Word" COMPLETELY disagrees with you:2 Thessalonians 2:15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

Isa Almisry, born again evangelical Lutheran, chrismated Orthodox.
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« Reply #17 on: April 20, 2009, 07:54:21 AM »

Hi Lostandelirious,

Christ is Risen!

Welcome to the fourm! It's a good place to be. Very many people here are friendly, supportive, and knowledgeable.

"Sola Scriptura" is, indeed, a belief that developed in Western Europe in the 16th century. The reason why it emerged is that in the late Middle Ages, and especially during the Renaissance, there appeared a huge rift between the beliefs of the emerging middle class (merchants, craftsmen, lawyers, 'natural philosophers,' physicians, etc.) and the official beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. The latter was preaching a cult of saints and a kind of simony (indulgencies), although the "princes of the Church" were actually living a life of luxury and blatant immorality. So, the middle class, indeed having good reasons to accuse the Roman Church in hypocricy, came up with the idea that the Church should return to its earlier, Apostolic times. They jettisoned all things that they considered "non-Apostolic," superfluous, - and among them the indulgencies and the cult of saints. "Ideologically," this movement summariszed itself in five "solas" - Sola Scriptura (i.e. only the written Bible is the source of all doctrine and all authority), Sola Fide (i.e. man is saved only by his faith and not by his "works"), Sola Gratia (i.e. the only saving force is God's grace and not anything man does), Solus Christus (i.e. we must venerate only Christ and not any saints or the Virgin), and Soli Deo Gloria (i.e. everything is predestined and if you are bound to go to hell, it's still a part of the Divine Plan, so even this will be done to His glory).

The Orthodox Church, of course, never sunscribed to any of these "solas." We believe in the "synergia," the cooperation between God and man in the salvation of man and of the whole world. And we consider the written Bible only a part of the Holy Tradition. To us, for example, the doctrinal decisions of the Seven Ecumenical Councils have as much authority as the Bible.

Most importantly, though, as others have said - you should really talk with an Orthodox priest about every doubt that you have. Priests know very well how to help you.

Best wishes to you,

George
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« Reply #18 on: April 20, 2009, 12:31:34 PM »

What you may also need is an example of how tradition and the scriptures are evident in the early church. Probably the best example outside the New Testament is the Didache from about 90 AD (see http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html ). In Matthew 6:1-18, Jesus Christ reveals the basic essentials of our daily Christian life of prayer, fasting, & alms giving but specifics of when to do these are not indicated (see Didache chptr 8   ) whereas in the Didache we see evidence of the apostolic tradition of what days to fast and an early prayer rule (the Lord's prayer thrice daily). You will realize that even before a formal Old & New Testament Bible was compiled an attestation to a living apostolic tradition was evident in a most basic & essential form. It is evident that scripture is the highest form of tradition but still exists within it. This is not a comprehensive answer I am giving but hoping that it can give a basic illustration as an example.
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« Reply #19 on: April 21, 2009, 07:40:31 AM »

Sola Dia Gloria is all to the glory to God.

Predestination has nothing to do with that; That would be in Calvinist TULIP theology

So what do Ehpesians 2 and Romans 3 mean to synergists? I'm just curious
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« Reply #20 on: April 21, 2009, 02:25:46 PM »

what do Ehpesians 2 and Romans 3 mean to synergists? I'm just curious

Here is how an Orthodox bishop (vladyka Averkiy Taushev)) answers (my translation below):

http://www.wco.ru/biblio/books/aver5/Main.htm

Во второй главе Апостол говорит о том, как величие действий домостроительства Божия сказалось в оживотворении, как бы воскрешении из мертвых, духовно-умерших людей, возвеличенных Богом из крайнего уничижения. Совершила это единственно благодать Божия, без каких-либо заслуг со стороны самого человека: “ибо благодатью вы спасены через веру, и сие не от вас, Божий дар: не от дел, чтобы никто не хвалился. ” — эти слова очень любят сектанты, пытаясь доказывать при помощи их свое лжеучение о ненужности добрых дел для спасения. Но ведь ясно, что здесь идет речь о первом лишь моменте, о самом устроении Богом спасения, а не об усвоении этого спасения людьми. О последнем сказано: “Ибо мы — Его творение, созданы во Христе Иисусе на добрые дела, которые Бог предназначил нам исполнять” (ст. 10). Смысл всех этих слов тот, что “спасение нам устроено и мы призваны к получению его не за какие-либо дела, а по одной благодати. Но призваны не за тем, чтобы со своей стороны ничего не делать, а чтобы осуществлять свое спасение, богатясь добрыми делами” (еп. Феофан Затворник; ст. 1-10).

("In the second chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle talks about how the grandiose energy of God's work in the world manifested in the re-animation of the people who were dead spiritually, i.e. of those people who were made great by God after them being perverted to the utmost degree. This re-animation truly is the work of God alone, done without regard of any merit of the man: "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." These words are especially cherished by sectarians who use them to propagate their false teaching about the redundancy of good works for the salvation of man. Yet, it is obvious that these words are about the mere initial moment in the work of salvation; it is about how salvation is GIVEN by God, and not about how man RECEIVES salvation. Verse 10 talks about the latter, saying that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we could walk in them." An Orthodo saint calld St. Theophan the Recluse explains this verse, saying that "God arranged our salvation for us, and He did it not because we do something to deserve it, but solely because of His grace and goodness. So, we are being granted salvation; however, it does not mean that we are to do nothing - on the contrary, we must respond to God's call by making ourselves rich in good works.")

В третьей главе святой Апостол показывает, что иудеи не имеют никакого преимущества перед язычниками, ибо “как иудеи, так и еллины, все под грехом” (ст. 9), “все согрешили и лишены славы Божией” (ст. 23). Поэтому, оправдание человек может получить только “через веру,” “по благодати Божией”, “искуплением во Христе Иисусе” (ст. 24-25). Тем не менее иудеи все же имеют то преимущество, что “им вверено Слово Божие” (ст. 2), заключавшее высокие обетования о Мессии. Несмотря на то, что иудеи оказались неверными в хранении этого великого дара Божия, Бог, по самому свойству природы Своей непременно исполнит данные Им обетования. Данный иудеям закон еще более отягчает их ответственность и виновность. Α так как Бог не есть только Бог иудеев, но и язычников, то и для тех и других один путь спасения — через веру. Этим не уничтожается значение закона, а лишь утверждается, ибо благодать Божия дала возможность людям осуществить требования закона.

("In the third chapter of Romans, the Apostle shows that the Jews have no advantage over the Gentiles, because both are under the yoke of sin (verse 9) and thus are without God's glory (verse 23). Thus, only through faith man can be made right, by the grace of God, being redeemed by Christ (verses 24-25). Yet, Jews have the written word of God (vs. 2), with its awesome prophesies about Christ. They appeared unfaithful in keeping this great gift of God; however, God, by HIS own nature, will always fulfil whatever promises He made. Thus, Jews are even more guilty and answerable to God for their lack of faith. God is not only the God of Jews, but also the God of the Gentiles; so, the path of salvation for both is through faith. The significance of the Law is not abolished by this fact; it just confirms that God's grace has given man the possibility to fulfil the requirements of the Law.")
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« Reply #21 on: April 21, 2009, 02:33:55 PM »

Holy Tradition?

We can't go by tradition, the Bible has to be our sole source of doctrine I think. I dunno, I'm not saying what you said is invalid, I've just never heard of it so I'm having trouble understanding it.

"Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours." - 2 Thess 2:15
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« Reply #22 on: April 21, 2009, 03:09:48 PM »

An article I wrote for the forum on sola scriptura can be found at the link below:

The Unbiblical Doctrine of Sola Scriptura

So the Bible was inspired by the Church, not the Bible inspired the Church?

Almost -- the Holy Spirit inspired the Church to write the Scriptures, and said Scriptures then "turned around" to enlighten, as Spirit-inspired and Church-received texts (for both are essential) the later generations of Christianity. 

And the Epistles were written as early as the late AD 40s, the fact that the Bible was put together 300 years after the fact means nothing (if it was).

As has been said, they may have been written, but they were very rarely available.  What good is a sole authority if no one was able to get to it?  Moreover, in those days hardly anyone could read anyway.  What good would a book do, really, in those days?

I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.

I used to say things like this to the priest who received me into the Church.  He was fond of asking me what I'll ask you now: Where do you get that?
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« Reply #23 on: April 21, 2009, 03:24:49 PM »


I'm sorry, but I COMPLETELY disagree. Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.


But Tradition is God's word too.
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« Reply #24 on: April 21, 2009, 03:26:12 PM »

Just checking. Because I am neither Protestant nor Orthodox, is it ok if I'm in on this little debate about sola scriptura?
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« Reply #25 on: April 21, 2009, 03:38:03 PM »

It partly depends how much serious reading you want to do. The kind of 'sola scriptura' which is set up and then demolished on the forum is not really the teaching as it was held at the time of the Reformation, but is a much more recent development. The classic, original 'sola scriptura' teaching gives a significant role to the tradition and creeds of the early church. A well-written study of this theme is The Shape of Sola Scriptura - (Paperback (March 2001)) by Keith A. Mathison, which you can get new or second-hand on-line.

May the Lord guide you in your searching. Wherever you end up in church membership, be sure your faith and aspirations are wholly centred on Jesus Christ, who is our resurrection and the life.
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« Reply #26 on: April 21, 2009, 03:49:21 PM »

It partly depends how much serious reading you want to do. The kind of 'sola scriptura' which is set up and then demolished on the forum is not really the teaching as it was held at the time of the Reformation, but is a much more recent development. The classic, original 'sola scriptura' teaching gives a significant role to the tradition and creeds of the early church. A well-written study of this theme is The Shape of Sola Scriptura - (Paperback (March 2001)) by Keith A. Mathison, which you can get new or second-hand on-line.

May the Lord guide you in your searching. Wherever you end up in church membership, be sure your faith and aspirations are wholly centred on Jesus Christ, who is our resurrection and the life.

Thank you for your prayers and suggestions.... However, I am not technically in the process of searching. I am sure of my convictions. I was actually just asking the moderators, who I should have contacted on my own, if it was proper for me to join in arguing against Sola Scriptura here on this thread because this is the Orthodox-Protestant dicussion section and I am neither.
However, thank you for you concern.
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« Reply #27 on: April 21, 2009, 04:32:32 PM »

I am not technically in the process of searching. ...However, thank you for you concern.

I was really addressing the person who started the thread: but if I feel free to post on it, as a Baptist, I am sure you are equally free to if you are a Catholic. Not that I'm a moderator - but I'd be interested in your thoughts.
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« Reply #28 on: April 21, 2009, 08:39:16 PM »

So, I have questions of my fellow Orthodox brothers and sisters:
What is our doctrine? The Lutherans have The Small Catechism, what do we have?
And on iconography and the Virgin Mary, is there any BIBLICAL evidence to support the belief in either of those?



Now I might not be the brightest bulb in the box (I don't even know how to properly quote a section from another Post), but it seems to me that the OP was addressing his questions to fellow Orthodox
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« Reply #29 on: April 21, 2009, 09:01:48 PM »


Tradition should not dictate our doctrine, rather God's Word. God's Word is our sole authority. Tradition is only relevant in how we worship.

The problem here is drawing very strong lines in the sand. I think most of the posters above have made a good case for Holy Tradition but in the process they have been rebutting your assertion of Sola Scriptura rather then trying to talk to you on a deeper level.

Correct me if I am wrong but you seem to not realize the primary role that the Holy Scriptures play in Orthodoxy. Even our worship services are chuck full of passages from the Scriptures, as father Schmemann has shown. The Scriptures are the main source of Orthodox theology, ecclesiology, canons, worship, etc. If you read any standard books on Orthodoxy, you will immediately notice this. The Orthodox Church is indeed a Bible-centered church.

I submit to you that insisting on Sola Scriptura denies any possible role for the Holy Spirit in providing revelations to the Body of Christ on His timetable. Isn't this kind of arrogant and also so unscriptural?
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« Reply #30 on: April 21, 2009, 10:31:42 PM »

Quote
I submit to you that insisting on Sola Scriptura denies any possible role for the Holy Spirit in providing revelations to the Body of Christ on His timetable. Isn't this kind of arrogant and also so unscriptural?

How is it unscriptural sir?

And where does it say in Holy Scripture that the Holy Spirit will inspire non-Apostolic people? And if these Holy Traditions are to be on par with God Word, who defines what constitutes This "Holy Tradition"? What reason could you give me not to put Arius's writing on the same level as the NT and so on and so forth?


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« Reply #31 on: April 21, 2009, 10:47:57 PM »

I think most of the posters above have made a good case for Holy Tradition but in the process they have been rebutting your assertion of Sola Scriptura rather then trying to talk to you on a deeper level.

A good point, this.  To offer some (more) links with regard to specific inquiries from the OP:


What is our doctrine? The Lutherans have The Small Catechism, what do we have?

While we do not have a Church-wide, official catechism, from what I've seen, St. John of Damascus' Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith is about as close to an exhaustive, universally-accepted treatise on our Faith as you can get.

And on iconography and the Virgin Mary, is there any BIBLICAL evidence to support the belief in either of those?

To start with:

Iconography: God is not against ALL images, just images that are set up to represent false gods and facilitate the worship thereof, or to reduce the true God to a false image thereof.  We read that God specifically designated images of angels to be made in various places of the tabernacle/temple in the Old Testament, including on top of the Holy of Holies itself.   God could not be "imaged," though, as no one had seen His person.  Yet, when the image of the invisible God was made manifest, we most definitely could depict Him, and, if we are going to FULLY proclaim that He is true man yet, while having been made flesh, yet remains God and divinizes said flesh, we MUST make images of this depictable God-Man. (See HERE and HERE for more details)

The honoring of the Virgin Mary (Theotokos) and asking for her intercessions: She was called "Mother of God" ("Mother of my Lord") by Elizabeth, who was speaking under the blessing of the Holy Spirit.  She herself said, while prophesying from being filled with the same Spirit, that "all generations shall call [her] blessed."  To NOT bless her is to go against the Holy Spirit.  We also know that angels and elders in heaven assist in our prayers' reaching the throne of God (Revelation 5:1-14 -- See HERE for more details).  Ps. 45:9 (in Protestant Bibles) says that the queen sits at the right hand of the King.  This is also true for the "Queen Mother," or mother of the King, as we see in I Kings 2:19 (in Protestant Bibles) with Bathsheba and her son, King Solomon.  Bathsheba, as would any mother, had her son's ear, and many people sought her intercession in dealing with the King.  We thus can be very certain that the seat at Christ's right hand which was not His to give to James or John (Matt. 20:23) belongs to none other than the Queen Mother of Heaven, She who was highly favored of the Father and became the New Eve from whom came the New Adam (in a reversal of the Old Eve coming from the Old Adam).  How much more can we expect her prayers to be powerful and effective, as she is the most blessed of all women, highly favored, and the one who is doubly blessed, not only for being the one who nursed and bore God, but ALSO for being she who heard the word of God and kept it by saying "Let it be unto me according to thy word"?

I hope this helps.
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« Reply #32 on: April 21, 2009, 10:58:51 PM »

And where does it say in Holy Scripture that the Holy Spirit will inspire non-Apostolic people?

We see non-apostles in Acts 15 participating in a binding council of the Church.  St. Paul expects the laying on of hands to continue its Spirit-inspired work after his death.

And if these Holy Traditions are to be on par with God Word, who defines what constitutes This "Holy Tradition"?

The Church as a whole.  For starters, the Creed is a concise explanation of the canon of truth used to interpret Scripture.  The Church met in council (a la Acts 15) to declare this, as well as to reaffirm this in subsequent councils.  Also, the rough shape of the liturgical worship of the Church, followed broadly throughout Christendom from the very beginning.  Through consistent acceptance over time by the Church, the Spirit is seen to be revealing this to the Church.

What reason could you give me not to put Arius's writing on the same level as the NT and so on and so forth?

Were Arius' writings continually accepted throughout the ages of Christianity, or were they condemned?  As they were not accepted, they do not stand in a place of honor as do the 77 books of the (Orthodox) canon, which were affirmed and reaffirmed by the Church.

Granted, that doesn't leave a lot of space for people to say at any particular moment in the midst of controversy, "Here's how we can know," but we do know that the Church eventually sorts these things out and does so consistently.
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« Reply #33 on: April 21, 2009, 11:59:47 PM »

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Were Arius' writings continually accepted throughout the ages of Christianity, or were they condemned?  As they were not accepted, they do not stand in a place of honor as do the 77 books of the (Orthodox) canon, which were affirmed and reaffirmed by the Church.

Actually, Arius' teaching had popular favor. If they had democratically decided what was right, then the early CHURCH would have sided with that. But the council of Nicea didn't do that. Athanasius refuted the Arian heresy on the basis of Scripture.
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« Reply #34 on: April 22, 2009, 12:17:39 AM »

It seems to me that Lutheran1517 and lostanddelirious might in fact be the same person taking on different personas to argue on here.  I only say that because lostanddelirious stated that he attends a Lutheran school.  I assume his questions are coming up because people at his school are challenging him.  The unfortunate thing is his lack of basic understanding of his own beliefs, so it is commendable that he has come here seeking advice, but at the same time some aspects of his misunderstanding come out in his posts.  For starters, referring to Orthodoxy as a "denomination."

At any rate, I thought that the moderators might have a way to see if two personas would be a possibility.  The newness of both accounts and their similarity in language makes me suspicious.
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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2009, 12:44:40 AM »

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Were Arius' writings continually accepted throughout the ages of Christianity, or were they condemned?  As they were not accepted, they do not stand in a place of honor as do the 77 books of the (Orthodox) canon, which were affirmed and reaffirmed by the Church.

Actually, Arius' teaching had popular favor. If they had democratically decided what was right, then the early CHURCH would have sided with that. But the council of Nicea didn't do that. Athanasius refuted the Arian heresy on the basis of Scripture.
Which we don't deny.  As has been mentioned earlier, the Orthodox Church has always drawn very heavily from the Scriptures in articulating her dogmas and creeds.  Virtually everything we read in the Nicene Creed that came out of the first two Ecumenical Councils can be found in the Scriptures.  And yet there's one little word that proved a major stumbling block to the first Nicene Council, because that one word was adopted from Greek philosophy and could not be found in the Scriptures.  That word is homoousios, which means of the same essence.  By your logic of sola scriptura, we should have rejected the use of the word homoousios because it is found nowhere in the Scriptures.
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2009, 01:19:17 AM »

I am not Lutheran1517, but I do know this person.

And Alveus, I don't understand what it means to be Orthodox, you're right. But is it not a branch of Christianity, thusly a denomination?

Tradition is only necessary for worship. Isn't it a fundamental belief as a Christian to believe in the Bible as the true inerrant Word of God?  Why would we need to look anywhere else if it was? And I believe it is.

Shouldn't doctrine be based on the Bible rather than tradition?

And why would you use Biblical verses to try and back up iconography and the Theotokos if you said it wasn't necessarily accurate (whoever did).

I'm quite confused by this whole thing; I came here to learn about Orthodoxy, and now I'm more confused and unattracted to it.

I kinda feel like I'm being pulled in two different directions, it's rather frustrating. Some of the things I've read here are rather upsetting to me honestly. I had no knowledge of this, it just seems incredibly wrong to discount the accuracy and perfection of the Bible, that puts up a MAJOR red flag in my mind.......

Most of the things being said here I really don't understand, it's way above my understanding, which makes it even harder to choose a side. I feel that I need to have a sitdown with my priest and get to the bottom of this.
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« Reply #37 on: April 22, 2009, 01:32:28 AM »

The best advice that you have received on here is to go and speak with your Orthodox presbyter about these things.  It sounds like you are almost entirely convinced of the Lutheran position, but you have to realize that this view of Holy Scripture is being somehow pitted "against" the Church is a non-factor in Orthodoxy.  The Holy Scriptures are a part of the Church itself!

Anyway, I think you at least owe it to yourself to go talk to you Orthodox spiritual father before you jump ship.  And be honest with him, and let him know that you are seriously on the edge of leaving the Church.  He should take you seriously, and spend some time talking with you about the issues before you make a decision.  Proceed with caution, because many of us have spent a good portion of our lives looking for the Orthodox church.  You owe it to yourself to really try to understand before you leave.

Also, just as a side note, one of the undisputed greatest scholars of Christian history in the 20th century, Jaroslav Pelikan, was a Lutheran, and toward the end of his life he converted to the Orthodox church.  He was one of the greatest academic minds of the Lutheran church, and he himself saw that Orthodoxy is the fullest and truest expression of the Christian faith.

God be with you; you are in my prayers!

Christ is risen!
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« Reply #38 on: April 22, 2009, 01:33:04 AM »

By your logic of sola scriptura, we should have rejected the use of the word homoousios because it is found nowhere in the Scriptures.

Not to mention the word "Trinity."  The Jehovah's Witnesses and other non-Trinitarians like to point out that the word "Trinity" is nowhere in the Bible.  
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« Reply #39 on: April 22, 2009, 01:39:36 AM »

And Alveus, I don't understand what it means to be Orthodox, you're right. But is it not a branch of Christianity, thusly a denomination?
Where do you get the idea that Orthodoxy is merely a branch of Christianity?

Tradition is only necessary for worship. Isn't it a fundamental belief as a Christian to believe in the Bible as the true inerrant Word of God?
Where do you get your ideas on the inerrancy of Scripture?  Is this belief biblical?

Why would we need to look anywhere else if it was? And I believe it is.

Shouldn't doctrine be based on the Bible rather than tradition?
Where in the Bible do you read this?  I and many others here have shown you from the Scriptures that adherence to Tradition IS biblical.

And why would you use Biblical verses to try and back up iconography and the Theotokos if you said it wasn't necessarily accurate (whoever did).

I'm quite confused by this whole thing; I came here to learn about Orthodoxy, and now I'm more confused and unattracted to it.

I kinda feel like I'm being pulled in two different directions, it's rather frustrating. Some of the things I've read here are rather upsetting to me honestly. I had no knowledge of this, it just seems incredibly wrong to discount the accuracy and perfection of the Bible, that puts up a MAJOR red flag in my mind.......
Where do you get your ideas that what you believe is absolutely, unquestionably true?  Are your beliefs biblical?
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« Reply #40 on: April 22, 2009, 02:00:23 AM »

1) There are SEVERAL churches that claim to be Christian (ex: Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, etc), is Orthodoxy not one of those?

2)  2 Peter 1:20-21
     "Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man,
      but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
 
     Psalm 12: 6
     "And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times."

3) It's mere logic at this point, until I find verses that support this: Why would you go with the traditions of men over the Word of God? It makes NO sense.

4) The verses you gave me for iconography and the Theotokos explained nothing, or just confused me, as did some of the verses I read that discussed Holy Tradition. I'm not concrete in my beliefs other than that I believe in Jesus Christ, Son of God our Lord who died to save us; we cannot gain salvation through works but only grace through faith. And I also believe that the Bible is God's perfect Word and our highest authority in doctrine and beliefs. I'm still trying to grow in my faith, figuring out what's the best for me.

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« Reply #41 on: April 22, 2009, 02:22:59 AM »

Psalm 12: 6
"And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times."

And who decides what constitutes the Word of God?
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"Christianity is not a philosophy, not a doctrine, but life." - Elder Sophrony (Sakharov)
PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #42 on: April 22, 2009, 02:23:20 AM »

3) It's mere logic at this point, until I find verses that support this: Why would you go with the traditions of men over the Word of God? It makes NO sense.
That's where your logic fails.  For one, we're not saying that Holy Tradition is merely the traditions of men.  Reread my first post on this thread, and you see that I offer as a standard Orthodox definition of Tradition "the life of the Holy Spirit within the Church".  How is this the mere traditions of men?  Secondly, you have not yet addressed my argument that the only thing the Bible calls the Word of God is Jesus Christ Himself.  And finally, in the Scriptures I quoted, the tradition to which St. Paul advocated adherence was the traditions of the Apostles.  Would you claim that we should not adhere to the teachings of the Apostles, especially if they are passed down by word of mouth?
« Last Edit: April 22, 2009, 02:49:59 AM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #43 on: April 22, 2009, 02:33:56 AM »

I also believe that the Bible is God's perfect Word and our highest authority in doctrine and beliefs.

As far as the Bible, which version of the Bible constitutes the authoritative version, and why use some books and not others from the early Christian period?

Where did the Bible come from?  When was it compiled?

What language was the New Testament written in?

Finally, why do you assume that it is appropriate to refer to the Holy Scriptures as the "Word of God"?  This is actually unbiblical, as the Holy Scriptures clearly state that:

The Gospel of St. John the Theologian 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."

Jesus Christ is the Word (Logos) of God, not the Holy Scriptures.

The Bible receives the utmost reverence in Orthodoxy.  Whenever the Gospel is read, we all stand reverently at attention.  We kiss our bibles and handle them with the utmost care.
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Alveus Lacuna
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« Reply #44 on: April 22, 2009, 02:38:51 AM »

And Alveus, I don't understand what it means to be Orthodox, you're right. But is it not a branch of Christianity, thusly a denomination?

It is inappropriate to refer to Orthodoxy as a "denomination" because it is degrading.  The Orthodox Church has existed since the time of the apostles.  Denominationalism is a result of the Reformation in the West, it never occurred in the East.

It is true that there are thousand of competing Christian sects which are denominations, but the Orthodox believe totally in the Creed, that there is indeed ONE Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.  The Church is one in truth, not many.  So from the Orthodox perspective we are the Church, not an interpretation of it.  All "denominations" as the term now connotes have their origin within the last 500 years.  The other 1500 belong to the Church.
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Tags: sola scriptura Canon of scriptures Theotokos icons Tradition 
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