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Author Topic: Who is a Christian?  (Read 2402 times) Average Rating: 0
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GammaRay
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« on: July 05, 2009, 09:59:29 AM »

Besides following the Christian way of living and loving, who is a Christian (theologically speaking)?
Most Protestants I've seen say that anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God is a Christian and has the chances of being saved.

Should a Protestant accept the first 7 Councils? What are the dogmas?
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2009, 10:10:04 AM »

Besides following the Christian way of living and loving, who is a Christian (theologically speaking)?

Only the baptized.  Only in baptism can one follow the Christian way of living and loving, otherwise it is just imitation.


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Most Protestants I've seen say that anyone who accepts Jesus Christ as the Son of God is a Christian and has the chances of being saved.

All Protestants, at some level, don't know what they are talking about.


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Should a Protestant accept the first 7 Councils?

Yes, like everyone else.


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What are the dogmas?

The definitions of the 7 Councils is a nice start.
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2009, 11:23:30 AM »

But doesn't infant baptism make for many nominal christians, who neither believe in God nor follow the teachings of Christ? Isn't a Christian someone who does these things-lives a life of self-denial and obedience to Christ, rather than someone who was ritually baptised when he didn't even know what was happening (just playing the devil's advocate here)?
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2009, 11:51:25 AM »

And I suppose that only the Orthodox Baptism is true, right?
(Infant baptism is a totally different subject.)

Since they accept the 7 Councils, they also accept icons, hm?
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2009, 12:00:38 PM »

playing the devil's advocate here

Whose advocate? Sounds like what I've written on several threads!
 Wink
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2009, 12:07:05 PM »

playing the devil's advocate here

Whose advocate? Sounds like what I've written on several threads!
 Wink

I know, David. Even though I'm Orthodox, I still do entertain such questions. For the most part, I am okay with it, but still wonder about it at times...
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2009, 04:17:29 PM »

Even though I'm Orthodox, I still do ... still wonder about it at times...

I don't wish to change you from Orthodoxy, but it is always good to think. I suspect that a lot us us on the Forum use it as a tool for prompting us to think our faith through. Some will change, some will become more persuaded of the beliefs they start with, but at least none of us will have a second-hand faith.

I seem to recall that there is a thread with a title something like, "Is there salvation outside of Orthodoxy?"
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2009, 05:24:19 PM »

I've arrived at the conclusion that no matter which church one joins, there will be dogma/praxis which one is not totally convinced of.  From my fairly extensive studies on the topic of baptism, I believe infant baptism was introduced into the Church fairly early, so it is not altogether without historical and Traditional merit. Having said that, I am quite disappointed with the lack of interest in this topic amongst Orthodox Christians. I long to hear a better explanation from our Orthodox brethren on Infant vs Adult baptism.
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2009, 05:37:36 PM »

I believe infant baptism was introduced into the Church fairly early, so it is not altogether without historical and Traditional merit. Having said that, I am quite disappointed with the lack of interest in this topic amongst Orthodox Christians. I long to hear a better explanation from our Orthodox brethren on Infant vs Adult baptism.

I am sure there must be learned monographs on the Internet somewhere.  Smiley

But is there really a "versus"?  Infant vs. Adult baptism?

Infants are called by Christ, just as much as adults, to be heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.   For both infants and adults incorporation into the Kingdom is brought about by Baptism.


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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2009, 05:43:30 PM »

Yes, but it seems that baptism should be something done out of a desire on part of the applicant to consciously receive it. It seems so many people who are baptised in infancy grow up with no real interest in living for Christ. Baptizing adults seems more in keeping with the teachings of the NT.
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2009, 05:46:51 PM »

I've arrived at the conclusion that no matter which church one joins, there will be dogma/praxis which one is not totally convinced of.  From my fairly extensive studies on the topic of baptism, I believe infant baptism was introduced into the Church fairly early, so it is not altogether without historical and Traditional merit. Having said that, I am quite disappointed with the lack of interest in this topic amongst Orthodox Christians. I long to hear a better explanation from our Orthodox brethren on Infant vs Adult baptism.

I agree with this entirely. It's wise to put it into words. I was doing some soul-searching in church today, so this is a timely reminder for me.
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2009, 05:59:47 PM »

Yes, but it seems that baptism should be something done out of a desire on part of the applicant to consciously receive it. It seems so many people who are baptised in infancy grow up with no real interest in living for Christ. Baptizing adults seems more in keeping with the teachings of the NT.

Really?

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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2009, 06:06:12 PM »

But doesn't infant baptism make for many nominal christians, who neither believe in God nor follow the teachings of Christ? Isn't a Christian someone who does these things-lives a life of self-denial and obedience to Christ, rather than someone who was ritually baptised when he didn't even know what was happening (just playing the devil's advocate here)?

There are plenty of people baptized as an adult who become nominal Christians, or worse.  Look at Simon Magnus.

So we let the infants wait, and "let them decide for themselves" until they "understand."  Are we naive enough to think that the world, Satan and all his works aren't going to try to fill that vacuum in the meantime?

Our priest's Pentacostal relations comment on how well are children are in Church.  When they asked what was the secret, he said "we baptize them."

playing the devil's advocate here

Whose advocate? Sounds like what I've written on several threads!
 Wink

LOL.  Do you suspect that she is implying something?
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2009, 06:10:00 PM »

Only the baptized.  Only in baptism can one follow the Christian way of living and loving, otherwise it is just imitation.

And if there isn't baptism outside of the Church, doensn't that mean that the non-Orthodox Christians aren't real Christians?
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2009, 06:31:54 PM »

Infant Baptism is a subject I felt compelled to look into recently, mainly because of questions raised by my wife, here are a few of the articles I found on it.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32:born-of-water-and-the-spirit&catid=14:articles&Itemid=2

http://www.ephesus.com/Orthodox/InfantBaptism.html

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7067

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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2009, 06:55:25 PM »

Yes, but it seems that baptism should be something done out of a desire on part of the applicant to consciously receive it. It seems so many people who are baptised in infancy grow up with no real interest in living for Christ. Baptizing adults seems more in keeping with the teachings of the NT.

It is not hard to make the comparison.  Most mainline Protestants and the followers of the Vatican in the US "confirm" in the teen years, so close enough for our purposes to make the comparison of baptism as an infant versus batism.  The Evangelicals usually have their "born again experience" and their baptism around the same age, so again good enough for our purposes.

There was some study done by the Evangelicals, who place the most emphasis on "believer baptism" and "conversion," that they lose something like 60% of their youth.  I am not sure that they would count as "nominal."

Now, as the Bible says "no one says 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit," and St. Luke shows that He works in the embryonic St. John in St. Elizabeth's womb, theologically, we expect no problem with infant baptism.

Looking at it sociologyically, there is the problem that there are many societies like the Orthodox ones that can be studied, who accept infant conversion.  Those who insist on adult conversion are almost non-existent, existing only in certain rather closed societies like the Mormons and the Amish or the JW.  The Amish retention rate (85%) is high, but the JW rate is dismal, and the Mormons not much better.   One might argue that the Bible Belt is such a society, but I don't know if the parameters can be made for study.

Look at religion like we do language: yes, those who learn it as an adult often speak it more correctly and appreciate it more.  But you have to raise you kids speaking something, and how well they speak depends less on the English teacher than how you speak it to them.  Ditto the Sunday School teacher and the Faith.

Really, I don't see any arguement for insisting on "believer" conversion.  It goes against how humans work.
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2009, 06:57:23 PM »

Only the baptized.  Only in baptism can one follow the Christian way of living and loving, otherwise it is just imitation.

And if there isn't baptism outside of the Church, doensn't that mean that the non-Orthodox Christians aren't real Christians?

Real in the sense of 100% the genuine article?  Of course not.  That's what Orthodox means.
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2009, 08:46:10 PM »

I wonder why no one argues for believer's circumcision.
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2009, 08:57:36 PM »

My great aunt Katya. I remember her as a tiny little lady with gray hair and shining brown eyes. She always spoke very softly, and she never hurt anyone. A widow. Childless, but always taking care of her nephews and nieces and grand-nephew (me) wherever she had a chance. Took us to the Zoo or to a movie theater or just for a walk, whatever, anything. Went to church secretly every Sunday, even living in the former Soviet Union of the 1950-s - 70-s (reposed in 1975). Never talked about it with us, members of her extended family of loyal Soviet citizens and children and grandchildren, being afraid that an asociation with this "bogomolka" (religious type) will hurt us. Prayed, and said only very good things, tender things, loving things. And when she was at the dinner table with her extended family and they offered her a piece of this or that, she would always, invariably, say, "please, a half of that." She was so ethereal, it seemed like food was something superfluous for her. We all laughed at her and nicknamed her "Tyotya Katya Polovinka," "Aunt Katya the Half." She only smiled.

In other words, a Christian is he (she) who has a Christian character, and hardly other things matter all that much. IMHO, of course. Smiley
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2009, 09:09:00 PM »

In response to the original inquiry, I believe the GOAA and most SCOBA jurisdictions consider anyone in a Christian denomination, who was baptised with water, in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, is considered a Christian, unless obviously, the individual speaks in opposition to the doctrines of the seven Ecumenical Synods (Councils).
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2009, 09:35:53 PM »

But doesn't infant baptism make for many nominal christians, who neither believe in God nor follow the teachings of Christ? Isn't a Christian someone who does these things-lives a life of self-denial and obedience to Christ, rather than someone who was ritually baptised when he didn't even know what was happening (just playing the devil's advocate here)?

I agree with you to some extent. There is a danger that one baptised as an infant, will not follow up with a "life of self-denial and obedience to Christ" and become a nominal Christian. But that is no reason not to baptise an infant (and I'm not saying you are suggesting that), any more that it would have been a reason for a Jewish parent not to have dedicated their child to the temple as an infant or had a male child circumcised; just in case they turned out to be nominal *Jews*.

Most importantly, our baptism is our rebirth; when we are buried with Christ; resurrected with Him and united to Him. It's our conversion from the world and certainly the infant who grows into an adulthood must *own that* for themselves by their own choices.

But who would deny their child membership in the family of Christ, merely because that child might reject the relationship at a later date? We are commanded to bring our children up as they should continue. No matter how they might turn out, we should not add our own sin of leaving them as ophans in the world; denied the life-giving sacraments of the Church.

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« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2009, 06:44:37 AM »

I wonder whether God is thinking in Heaven what went wrong. "I built my Church and commanded my childred to convert the whole World as members of it and now after two thousand years the World is filled with people who claim to believe in me but doesn't want my Church. How did this happen? What shall I do with these people?"
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« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2009, 01:09:11 PM »

Whose advocate? Sounds like what I've written on several threads!
 Wink

LOL.  Do you suspect that she is implying something?

No - we've had good communications. It just struck me as amusing that she should use that turn of phrase after saying the very things I been saying.
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« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2009, 01:32:54 PM »

Baptizing the infant will plant the seed of the Holy Spirit inside him/her.
You may not force the infant to Christianity and let the deciding come later. But -having planted the Holy Spirit inside of him/her- chances are that there will be a tendency towards Christ.

I see Baptism more as a way to take the first step to "repair" our Fall. The rest is left up to our own will, so what's the problem?
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« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2009, 01:52:37 PM »

Yes, but it seems that baptism should be something done out of a desire on part of the applicant to consciously receive it. It seems so many people who are baptized in infancy grow up with no real interest in living for Christ. Baptizing adults seems more in keeping with the teachings of the NT.

So many people in all traditions are nominally believing.  The period of the New Testament was one where everyone was being converted!  We have had this discussion before at some point, and I think that we agreed that there is really no particular point where somebody completely understands baptism or following Christ.  Does the baptism of a six-year-old really count as a believer's baptism?  There si no way that they are understand anything except 'choosing God' on a basic level.

But it is really a choice, or rather the illusion of choice.  These children are not made aware of other religious options, and honestly neither are adults.  Most Christians have no real knowledge of other religions of the world, and most possess at best a cursory understanding based on polemics intent on disproving the validity of the other.

I have know many people who were baptized as teenagers, and I would say over half of those people have still left their faith.  Ultimately there is no way to know what will happen in a person's life.  Salvation is not a moment; it is a process.  At whatever age the ritual of baptism took place, the person must choose to continue to follow Christ every day.  We must count the cost daily and pick up our crosses.  So if a person is baptized as an infant and rejects their faith as an adult, they have made their decision, just as a person who receives an 'adult' baptism can reject their faith later on.

I think that the best and most responsible thing that a parent can do is to consecrate their child in baptism; to commit that child to God from his/her earliest moments.  We all grow into our faith, just as they will grow to understand it later in life.
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2009, 02:03:20 PM »

^ This was the best and wisest answer i have read on this topic.
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2009, 02:26:43 PM »

I've arrived at the conclusion that no matter which church one joins, there will be dogma/praxis which one is not totally convinced of.  From my fairly extensive studies on the topic of baptism, I believe infant baptism was introduced into the Church fairly early, so it is not altogether without historical and Traditional merit. Having said that, I am quite disappointed with the lack of interest in this topic amongst Orthodox Christians. I long to hear a better explanation from our Orthodox brethren on Infant vs Adult baptism.

I agree with this entirely. It's wise to put it into words. I was doing some soul-searching in church today, so this is a timely reminder for me.

Try and put it in these words: 'baptismal grace is like love: there's no age fit for it'  Grin
Adults, whom you say should theorically have a greater faith, are often those who commit the most terrible sins, especially in the name of some sorta religion. It is our duty to let our children grow in the cradle of grace and not abandoning them to the hands of Satan, don't you think?

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2009, 03:10:27 PM »

Back on topic, my personal question is not "is there salvation out of Orthodoxy?" but "is there grace out of Orthodoxy?".
Grace, in its fulness, is granted only within the True Apostolic and Orthodox Church. At a minor extent, God might fill with grace even those born outside of the Church - no matter if you're Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or Buddhist... but that grace is not the same as the Church's. The grace of the Church is that that doesn't just "save" you, but the one that transforms you... the grace of adoption to children of God, so that we're no more just humans..."Who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:13).
of course, those who don't stand against us (and, thus, against our doctrines) should also be at some extent our friends
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Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, who followeth not us, and we forbade him. But Jesus said: Do not forbid him. For there is no man that doth a miracle in my name, and can soon speak ill of me. For he that is not against you, is for you. For whosoever shall give you to drink a cup of water in my name, because you belong to Christ: amen I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.
I'm sure there are saints even outside of our Church, but they are so by a direct act of God, and not because of some effective power of the ecclesiastical body they live in. Did he say that the one giving the cup of water belongs to Christ? No, but since he was moved by love towards a Christian, he will have his reward... I find this to be a good reason why we should still entertain good relationships with our brethrens outside of the Church... when they help us in the name of Jesus to cast the devilish powers out of this world!

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #28 on: July 06, 2009, 03:20:47 PM »

You put it very well, AlexanderOfBergamo. Excellent. You included and seperated those key words: Grace and Salvation.
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« Reply #29 on: July 06, 2009, 04:00:44 PM »

Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

This is the from the conversation the samaritan woman had with Jesus.As we see she was having the same question , where is proper to serve God , and to worship Him , under witch faith.Knowing that sooner in the conversation the samaritan woman asked Jesus how come He asks for a drink from her , because jews do not associate with the samaritans.She was having the same preocupation.Jesus told her that indeed in Jerusalem is the place for worship cause salvation is from jews, but... the hour came when we will worship the Father neighter in Jerusalem nor in Samaria, but the true worshippers will worship the Father in truth and spirit for the Father seeketh such to worship Him.So it is today , Salvation is from jews and from the Apostolic Church , as we know who we serve , but rather than that God finds bigger pleasure in abiding into another temple , not made by hand , but in the Temples of our bodies and in our hearts.We know that God made us after His image , and we all ought to become after His likeness.Therefore we transform ourself and become after his likeness by justice , truth , mercy , meekness , gentleness.By becoming how He is , by imitating Christ , His way of life . By doing what God does we and being like He is we become like his likeness, not only image.So all the people after the likeness and hypostatis of God , the just and people who work righteousness and hate inquity as long as those who seek God from their heart , and seek His judgements and commendements from heart , all of them are to be called son of Gods.So I am of the opinion that everyone who is after God`s likeness will not suffer damnation.It is written "You loved righteouss and hated inquity , that is why the Lord had anointed thee with the oil of joy more than all." And in Hosea 6:6 I desire mercy and no sacriffice , knoledge of God more than burnt offerings.So everyone can be saved , not only the orthodox , but Salvation comes from the Church , all people , esspecially christians.All those who seek God with all their hearts.Also I heard it is written somewere this : Jesus died for the sins of all , esspecially for those who believed in Him.All people who worship God in truth and spirit will be saved , and those are the kind of worshippers the Father wants.All who love have known God , cause God is love.Another verse : But the Jerusalem wich is above is free and she is our mother.All people can be saved , we don`t know the ways of God , don`t forget the expression `like a camel trough the ears of a needle` , but esspecially the Orthodox.Peace.
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