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Author Topic: Why Evangelicals Turn to the Church Fathers  (Read 12802 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: November 07, 2009, 01:22:44 PM »

Quote
Wilken made several key points about the Fathers’ nonliteral and image-laden reading of the Bible.

1. The New Testament authors clearly applied Old Testament texts in ways that departed seriously from the plain, surface meaning of the text. When Paul cites Psalm 19 in Romans 10 (“their voice is gone out into all the world”), he applies the Psalmist’s statement about the heavens to the preaching of the apostles. This runs against the plain meaning, said Wilken.

2. The books of Scripture do not bear their own significance. They must be united to something greater, which is Christ. Thus Paul interprets the creation of man and woman as a great mystery, which is Christ and the church; and he interprets the water-giving rock in the Sinai desert as Christ.

3. Typically, such creative renderings of the Bible are focused on the Old Testament. That is because the Old Testament text signifies Christ, but the New Testament text does not signify another Christ. It requires no allegory or analogy to reveal the Incarnate Word.

4. The Fathers also understood the interpretation of Scripture to require the reader’s participation in the spiritual reality of the text. Thus it is not enough to say that Christ was crucified. We must also say, “I am crucified with Christ,” and thus also I am raised with Christ.
* * *

All of this is new territory for many evangelical Protestants.

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2009, 01:50:38 PM »

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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2009, 03:16:31 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2009, 03:35:47 PM »

Well, the rare Calvinist Evangelical will extol the musings of Blessed Augustine of Hippo, but he's the only one I've ever heard an evangelical talk about.

"Oh, you're into ancient Christianity?  I love Augustine!"

But then whenever I inquired which writings they liked the best, I got vague answers that made me question if they'd actually read his material, or if they just knew the name.

Of course I can't point the finger too much, because I only started reading patristics two years ago when I encountered Orthodoxy.  May God have mercy on us all in these dark times!
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« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2009, 03:31:47 PM »

Three years ago, I was one of the few Protestants who read the Church Fathers.  Problem is...or maybe it's a good thing :-) - the more I read them, the more it made me question what I was being taught as a Protestant.  Thankfully the young adults pastor at my church also read them, and encouraged me to check out the Orthodox Church...apparently he wanted to convert but decided to try to change the church from the inside out.  But my point is...I think Evangelucals who are well-versed in the church fathers tend to move out of the Evangelical Church into a more liturgical or intellectual church, leaving behind the type of Evangelicals you typically see or hear about.  Many are sincere....and I think more would move towards Orthodoxy if they were introduced to it with an open mind.  I pray each day that my family will become Orthodox. 
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« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2009, 04:31:19 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

 LMBO!  Cheesy Cheesy That was flippin' excellent, Scamandrius!  So glad I wasn't taking a drink of anything!  Honestly though, I think you're probably right; I ask Protestants (mostly Baptists, but Evangelicals too) what they think of the Church Fathers and early Christian texts.  The best response I've ever gotten was, "You mean like the Puritans?".  Smiley  Priceless. 
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« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2009, 04:43:03 PM »

The general feeling at my Southern Baptist University seemed to be that the Church Fathers were quaint, confused old men who meant well but got caught up in wandering in deserts and caves before they could revolutionize the world ( Roll Eyes).  Then somewhere along the way, the big bad Roman Catholic Church hijacked Christianity and Luther swooped in to save the day (or Zwingli or whatever flavor they preferred that day).  There was also a feeling that even the earliest of Church Fathers had already lost their way from the true kernel of Christianity in the New Testament, even though these were the same people who canonized the texts.  I didn't take the university's History of Christianity, but from the other bible classes I took, they seemed to gloss over everything except the parts that directly effected and affected Baptist history and theology.
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2009, 08:53:00 PM »

Then somewhere along the way, the big bad Roman Catholic Church hijacked Christianity and Luther swooped in to save the day (or Zwingli or whatever flavor they preferred that day).

Ah, yes, the Great Apostasy.
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« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2009, 04:03:14 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

I doubt it was for lack of prayer beads or candles. The real issue here was the immense hubris which I hope isn't present in Orthodoxy. All the praying to God like he's a genie, asking for the healing of finances, oh give me a break..

Pentecostals do outreaches on campuses and other places and tend to target college age kids and there is a reason for it. This is the new generation that will raise children, contribute to ministries, etc. It's not necessarily wrong, but the motives behind it may be.

I honestly suspect [ IF Christianity is true ] that many protestants are really doing what God wants them to do and many Orthodox Christians may be too. My issue is with the clergy of the protestant movements. Because these people are either always trying to guilt trip me into accepting Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God himself, or get my money. I could stomach the first part of that, but they seem to be preoccupied with the second goal.

Seldom in my life have a I met clergy within the christian faith that humbly gave his plate of food at after the service to a beggar than the time I first met the parish priest at the local Greek Orthodox church. There was no pride in him, nor presumed overextended authority.

I met somewhere around 3 priests due to a horrible accident that my Parish's priest children had been in so he was out of town with his children in a hospital. I met the Presbyter, the Bishop, a Russian Orthodox Monastic [visiting from his skete i suppose], and two other priests. These men seemed humble beyond compare. They let their religion speak for itself.

So often you see Protestant missionaries trying to sneak Jesus into someone's heart like a trojan horse, Jews for Jesus, Messianic Judaism, on and on and on. I don't hate these people, but I do feel like if they'd be honest and simply tell people that they are Christians they would be above some of the hatred they garner.

Protestants deracinate their own heritage by attacking the other branches of Christianity and denying the possibility that the Holy Spirit is present and was present in these churches to begin with. I find this ammusing because it basically erases Christ from the earth for about 1500 yrs. and I thought christians were supposed to be proclaiming him. It's almost like they just want to basically be the early church and let the true early church be nothing. I think it's an unhealthy obsession and using a Bible canon compiled basically by orthodox Christians and then slapping them in the face and saying that they worship Mariam is the most illogical thing I've ever seen.

They want to replace St. John Chrysostom w/ Paster John Hagee, or Billy Graham, or Benny Hinn [ God forbide ], and expect that people are going to not laugh at them when they deny the possibility of evolution. They can't enjoy classical music and have to change the channel to Christian music station when they get into your car. They try to manufacture miracles by praying in tongues. All this stuff is a bunch of magic and sorcery designed to manipulate congregates into thinking it's actually the Holy Spirit. Then there is the lovely theology of original  All of this shoots Christianity full of holes, and causes me to run away.

This is why when I began to study Judaism, I concluded Christianity was a brainwashing horrible fertility cult that was really designed to make money. These wealthy celebrity pastors will all have to face God one day. They better hope its the Jewish or Islamic concept of God and not the seat of Christ because that passage in Luke about passing through the eye of a needle applies here.

Forgive me if my writing is bitter, I'm still full of venom...but I go with the truth no matter who it hurts. If I can find scriptural evidence without the manipulations of intentional mistranslation I will accept whatever I find and trust God.



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« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2009, 05:13:48 PM »

Before we sit around poo-poo'ing the Evangelicals for not reading the Church Fathers I'd like to remind the forum that your average Orthodox Parishoner doesn't go home to read the writings of St. Athanasius or St. John Chrysostom and the like. As a matter of fact, it's usually only the converts that bother to read them.

Most cradle Orthodox are satisfied with the services of the Church, the Bible, and their prayer books, as truly, this is the only theology you need.
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« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2009, 05:35:31 PM »

Seldom in my life have a I met clergy within the christian faith that humbly gave his plate of food at after the service to a beggar than the time I first met the parish priest at the local Greek Orthodox church. There was no pride in him, nor presumed overextended authority.

I met somewhere around 3 priests due to a horrible accident that my Parish's priest children had been in so he was out of town with his children in a hospital. I met the Presbyter, the Bishop, a Russian Orthodox Monastic [visiting from his skete i suppose], and two other priests. These men seemed humble beyond compare. They let their religion speak for itself.

Orthodox clergy are human, just as Pentecostal clergy are.  While the vast majority of Orthodox priests I've known have been good, humble people who sacrifice much for the sake of others, I don't want you to become disillusioned the moment you meet someone who doesn't live up to the ideal.  Also, I've known Protestant clergy who are good, Christ-loving people.  You can't paint all of them with the same brush.




Quote
Protestants deracinate their own heritage by attacking the other branches of Christianity and denying the possibility that the Holy Spirit is present and was present in these churches to begin with. I find this ammusing because it basically erases Christ from the earth for about 1500 yrs. and I thought christians were supposed to be proclaiming him. It's almost like they just want to basically be the early church and let the true early church be nothing. I think it's an unhealthy obsession and using a Bible canon compiled basically by orthodox Christians and then slapping them in the face and saying that they worship Mariam is the most illogical thing I've ever seen.

I think you hit the nail on the head here.  A lot of converts will list this as one of their reasons (if not the reason) why they left Protestantism to convert to Orthodoxy.



Quote
Forgive me if my writing is bitter, I'm still full of venom...

I think people here will understand.   Smiley  It takes time to heal.
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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2009, 05:50:16 PM »

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Most cradle Orthodox are satisfied with the services of the Church, the Bible, and their prayer books, as truly, this is the only theology you need.

Well if you want to push things, nature is all the theology you need. So said some of the saints, anyway. But why limit yourself if you don't have to?  But then I'm one of those egg-headed converts, so what do I know?  Wink
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2009, 05:53:28 PM »

Before we sit around poo-poo'ing the Evangelicals for not reading the Church Fathers I'd like to remind the forum that your average Orthodox Parishoner doesn't go home to read the writings of St. Athanasius or St. John Chrysostom and the like. As a matter of fact, it's usually only the converts that bother to read them.

Most cradle Orthodox are satisfied with the services of the Church, the Bible, and their prayer books, as truly, this is the only theology you need.
I think you're quite right with all these comments. However, at least the cradle Orthodox are mostly familiar with names like St. Athanasius, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory (any one of several), St. Nicholas; they may not be able to put specific teachings to any specific name, but their worship at church and in private is infused with the wisdom of the Fathers. The average modern Evangelical has no concept of any of them and their writing. Christian (i.e. Evangelical) retail book sellers will tell you that a book (and maybe even the author) has a shelf life of under three months. After that, something new has to be on the shelf.
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« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2009, 05:57:01 PM »

Quote
Most cradle Orthodox are satisfied with the services of the Church, the Bible, and their prayer books, as truly, this is the only theology you need.

Well if you want to push things, nature is all the theology you need. So said some of the saints, anyway. But why limit yourself if you don't have to?  But then I'm one of those egg-headed converts, so what do I know?  Wink

I'm not suggesting that anyone should limit themselves to these things; what I am saying is that we should not judge Evangelicals who do not read the Church Fathers when most Orthodox Christians don't read the writings of the Church Fathers.

Although most cradle Orthodox Christians may have heard of St. Athanasius or St. John Chrysostom, what they wrote and how it has impacted the theology of the Church they could not tell you.
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« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2009, 06:09:32 PM »

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Most cradle Orthodox are satisfied with the services of the Church, the Bible, and their prayer books, as truly, this is the only theology you need.

Well if you want to push things, nature is all the theology you need. So said some of the saints, anyway. But why limit yourself if you don't have to?  But then I'm one of those egg-headed converts, so what do I know?  Wink

I'm not suggesting that anyone should limit themselves to these things; what I am saying is that we should not judge Evangelicals who do not read the Church Fathers when most Orthodox Christians don't read the writings of the Church Fathers.

Although most cradle Orthodox Christians may have heard of St. Athanasius or St. John Chrysostom, what they wrote and how it has impacted the theology of the Church they could not tell you.

Ok, I misunderstood your point, I can agree with what you're saying.
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« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2009, 09:07:48 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

Sarcastic, disparaging, and misleading statements like this do little to advance authentic Orthodoxy. Criticize evangelical worship styles all you want, but no Orthodox Christian should criticize other Christian efforts to defend Orthodox morality.

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« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2009, 11:56:17 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

Sarcastic, disparaging, and misleading statements like this do little to advance authentic Orthodoxy. Criticize evangelical worship styles all you want, but no Orthodox Christian should criticize other Christian efforts to defend Orthodox morality.

Selam

Agreed. At least these people are sincere in what they're doing.
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« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2009, 11:59:59 PM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

Sarcastic, disparaging, and misleading statements like this do little to advance authentic Orthodoxy. Criticize evangelical worship styles all you want, but no Orthodox Christian should criticize other Christian efforts to defend Orthodox morality.

Selam


I agree! Protesting against abortion is a virtue! I wonder if scamandrius feels the sameway about the evangelicals that protested against American and British slavery of western and central Africans? Or even before that, when the Franks(western europeans) used eastern Europeans as slaves? .....This was before they(western Europe) found Africans to enslave.

Protesting against such things is always a virtue........not a vice!







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« Reply #18 on: December 27, 2009, 12:44:58 AM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

Sarcastic, disparaging, and misleading statements like this do little to advance authentic Orthodoxy. Criticize evangelical worship styles all you want, but no Orthodox Christian should criticize other Christian efforts to defend Orthodox morality.

Selam


I agree! Protesting against abortion is a virtue! I wonder if scamandrius feels the sameway about the evangelicals that protested against American and British slavery of western and central Africans? Or even before that, when the Franks(western europeans) used eastern Europeans as slaves? .....This was before they(western Europe) found Africans to enslave.

Protesting against such things is always a virtue........not a vice!







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I don't think Scamandrius was saying what you all think he was. What I got from it (I could be wrong), was that the obnoxious social activism in Protestantism is not a good witness for authentic Christianity. I would agree with him, in the sense that the anathematizing that some Protestants are wont to do is not an example of authentic Christianity, but is a major turn-off for some people. However, I think we should allow Scamandrius to comment before we heap coals on him.

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« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2009, 12:54:30 AM »

Regarding evangelicals not reading the early Church fathers:
O contrare, mon frare!
Many evangelicals are indeed reading the fathers.
Thomas Oden was one of the first to advance this trend.
Wilken himself was part of this trend, then converted to the Catholic Church.
Then there is the Ancient Christian commentary series published by InterVarsity Press (a major evangelical publishing house).
There is ancientchristianfaith.org (a Presbyterian and a Pentecostal run this site)

Granted, the average guy in the pew may be oblivious, but a new generation of evangelical theological students are getting greater exposure to the Fathers through some of this new scholarship than ever did in previous decades
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« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2009, 01:11:09 AM »

I don't think the evangelicals ever read the Church Fathers.  Their lack of praise bands, hands in the air like you just don't care, abortion protests, protests against gay marriage make them extraordinarily suspect today as lenses for authentic Christianity.

Do you mean because the early Christians were too busy rescuing abandoned babies (the abortion practice of that culture) and reading St. Paul's intro to Romans (the wrath of God is revealed against all manner of unrighteousness...likewise the men burned with lust for one another, committing what is shameful...God gave them over to a debased mind), refining the liturgies of early Christianity (St. Mark, St. James, St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, St. Gregory) and lifting holy hands in prayer?

 
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« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2009, 01:31:25 AM »

Sorry, but the Protestantism I came out bears absolutely no resemblance to what scamand. Gabriel and Yakov excoriate.

In fact, the Protestants I was associated with were closer to what I found in Orthdoxy than they were to what (especially to what Yakov's post) these posts decry.

Not all Protestants, nor Evangelicals, are so whacked out as you describe. Please do some research and don't display such ignorance in painting all of them with the broadest brush from the worst extremes.
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« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2009, 03:23:42 PM »

Sorry, but the Protestantism I came out bears absolutely no resemblance to what scamand. Gabriel and Yakov excoriate.

In fact, the Protestants I was associated with were closer to what I found in Orthdoxy than they were to what (especially to what Yakov's post) these posts decry.

Not all Protestants, nor Evangelicals, are so whacked out as you describe. Please do some research and don't display such ignorance in painting all of them with the broadest brush from the worst extremes.

I share your thoughts and your experience.

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« Reply #23 on: December 28, 2009, 02:57:43 AM »

Quote
There is ancientchristianfaith.org (a Presbyterian and a Pentecostal run this site)

I know them. Well, I know the Presbyterian guy more than I do the other one. I met him a couple years ago at an Orthodox Bible Study, then I met him again, one wednesday night in March when they first started this program/courses.








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« Reply #24 on: December 30, 2009, 09:52:48 AM »

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Wilken made several key points about the Fathers’ nonliteral and image-laden reading of the Bible.

1. The New Testament authors clearly applied Old Testament texts in ways that departed seriously from the plain, surface meaning of the text. When Paul cites Psalm 19 in Romans 10 (“their voice is gone out into all the world”), he applies the Psalmist’s statement about the heavens to the preaching of the apostles. This runs against the plain meaning, said Wilken.

2. The books of Scripture do not bear their own significance. They must be united to something greater, which is Christ. Thus Paul interprets the creation of man and woman as a great mystery, which is Christ and the church; and he interprets the water-giving rock in the Sinai desert as Christ.

3. Typically, such creative renderings of the Bible are focused on the Old Testament. That is because the Old Testament text signifies Christ, but the New Testament text does not signify another Christ. It requires no allegory or analogy to reveal the Incarnate Word.

4. The Fathers also understood the interpretation of Scripture to require the reader’s participation in the spiritual reality of the text. Thus it is not enough to say that Christ was crucified. We must also say, “I am crucified with Christ,” and thus also I am raised with Christ.
* * *

All of this is new territory for many evangelical Protestants.



What I find, and what I was guilty of myself, those who search the Church Fathers do it to find quotes to support their particular brand of theology.   Unfortunately what they end up doing, though most likely not intentionally is taking quotes out of context and miss the whole teaching and view of the writing.
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« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2009, 10:32:24 AM »

You might be missing the point to some extent. What is lamentable is not that most Evangelicals do not read the early Fathers, but that they do not read much serious stuff at all. But I find that they are warmly appreciative if, when preaching or leading a Bible study, I quote passages from sources other than Evangelical, such as the Anglo-Saxon church (Wulfstan, Ælfric etc), the mediæval Catholics (Bernard, Aelred, etc), even the Copts (Shenouda III, to whom someone on this forum pointed me), the early Moravians (who were Evangelicals, but of a different place and age), and (more of Handmaiden's sinister music here, please) even some modern Catholics (Thérèse). We are to feed the Lord's lambs and sheep, and as we do they savour and appreciate the nourishment given, but many will probably not read seriously for themselves. Those who do, admittedly, will largely opt for weightier Evangelical writings (Tozer, Piper etc).

Another aspect of the problem, at least in Britain, is that books are expensive. I get virtually all mine second-hand or with book tokens after Yule and birthday. People who visit the USA come back drooling over the price of books there, and with their treasured new purchases in their luggage (or is it baggage then?).

Thirdly, it is hard to find patristic writings. I know of only one shop in all England which sells paperback patristics (from St Vladimir's, Crestwood), and even then they are about £10 a book. You might reply, "But it's all on the Internet". Schaff is, but his style is like wading through porridge: I actually found the Albanian translation of Chrysostom easier to follow than Schaff. And anyway, not everyone is computerate: some of us like to light the fire, sit back in an armchair with a glass of whisky, and read throughfully and prayerfully to the background of the whisper of the lambent flames. Looking at a computer screen is like being at work.

Lastly, I believe there is a nascent interest in the Fathers among Evangelicals, as one or two previous posts seem to confirm, as well as a number of recent new books. I hope it grows: perhaps you Orthodox have a role to play in helping that happen.
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« Reply #26 on: December 30, 2009, 01:08:40 PM »

Put it this way: it is unlikely that a lot of Evangelicals will turn to Catholicism for spiritual nourishment. We grow up not to be attracted to things Catholic. So what do we do if we want something beyond the usual parameters or boundaries of Evangelicalism? I have written a number of times on the threads that I feel Orthdooxy has much to offer the wider church, but I know that not all of you agree that there is "a wider church". This now is partly in response to a post on the Evangelical Mindset thread which wonders whether I am being drawn to convert to Orthodoxy. I don't think I am: I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it. But Baptists do not have the concept of "the fulness" of the church in our own denomination which you have about Orthodoxy, and there is much lush grazing to be found outside our own folds. If you claim the eastern Fathers as yours, plus more recent writers (we have mentioned Bulgakov, and of course there are Schmemann, Florovsky etc etc), then it would be (I think) a very good step if you could offer these to "the wider church", for it is my conviction that you have much to offer. As I have quoted before, freely you have received - freely give.

Some then, of course, will take the whole step and convert wholly to Orthodoxy - as some who post here have. Others will remain without (as I probably shall) but will be enriched. What God has given you, pass on to us others.
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« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2009, 05:40:05 PM »

Put it this way: it is unlikely that a lot of Evangelicals will turn to Catholicism for spiritual nourishment. We grow up not to be attracted to things Catholic. So what do we do if we want something beyond the usual parameters or boundaries of Evangelicalism? I have written a number of times on the threads that I feel Orthdooxy has much to offer the wider church, but I know that not all of you agree that there is "a wider church". This now is partly in response to a post on the Evangelical Mindset thread which wonders whether I am being drawn to convert to Orthodoxy. I don't think I am: I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it. But Baptists do not have the concept of "the fulness" of the church in our own denomination which you have about Orthodoxy, and there is much lush grazing to be found outside our own folds. If you claim the eastern Fathers as yours, plus more recent writers (we have mentioned Bulgakov, and of course there are Schmemann, Florovsky etc etc), then it would be (I think) a very good step if you could offer these to "the wider church", for it is my conviction that you have much to offer. As I have quoted before, freely you have received - freely give.

Some then, of course, will take the whole step and convert wholly to Orthodoxy - as some who post here have. Others will remain without (as I probably shall) but will be enriched. What God has given you, pass on to us others.

From what you have written, I was very much like you in leading group studies at the Baptist Church I attended.   I was content up until I lead a video series called "The Truth Project" by focus on the family and Dr. Del Tackett.  In the series it touched on history and sphere's of authority, though he taught from a view concerning government and God, my eye's were suddenly opened.  I realized that our Lord did give sphere's of authority and the Church was given authority being the pillar and foundation of truth by the will of our Lord.  Anyways, I haven't looked back.
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« Reply #28 on: January 01, 2010, 07:35:30 PM »

Put it this way: it is unlikely that a lot of Evangelicals will turn to Catholicism for spiritual nourishment. We grow up not to be attracted to things Catholic. So what do we do if we want something beyond the usual parameters or boundaries of Evangelicalism? I have written a number of times on the threads that I feel Orthdooxy has much to offer the wider church, but I know that not all of you agree that there is "a wider church". This now is partly in response to a post on the Evangelical Mindset thread which wonders whether I am being drawn to convert to Orthodoxy. I don't think I am: I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it. But Baptists do not have the concept of "the fulness" of the church in our own denomination which you have about Orthodoxy, and there is much lush grazing to be found outside our own folds. If you claim the eastern Fathers as yours, plus more recent writers (we have mentioned Bulgakov, and of course there are Schmemann, Florovsky etc etc), then it would be (I think) a very good step if you could offer these to "the wider church", for it is my conviction that you have much to offer. As I have quoted before, freely you have received - freely give.

Some then, of course, will take the whole step and convert wholly to Orthodoxy - as some who post here have. Others will remain without (as I probably shall) but will be enriched. What God has given you, pass on to us others.

From what you have written, I was very much like you in leading group studies at the Baptist Church I attended.   I was content up until I lead a video series called "The Truth Project" by focus on the family and Dr. Del Tackett.  In the series it touched on history and sphere's of authority, though he taught from a view concerning government and God, my eye's were suddenly opened.  I realized that our Lord did give sphere's of authority and the Church was given authority being the pillar and foundation of truth by the will of our Lord.  Anyways, I haven't looked back.

Sphere sovereingty was developed theologically by Abaham Kuyper, a Dutch Reformed theologian. I did a paper on him in protestant seminary. That is interesting that this concept would be the thing that would guide you into Orthdoxy.
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« Reply #29 on: January 01, 2010, 08:12:07 PM »

You might be missing the point to some extent. What is lamentable is not that most Evangelicals do not read the early Fathers, but that they do not read much serious stuff at all. But I find that they are warmly appreciative if, when preaching or leading a Bible study, I quote passages from sources other than Evangelical, such as the Anglo-Saxon church (Wulfstan, Ælfric etc), the mediæval Catholics (Bernard, Aelred, etc), even the Copts (Shenouda III, to whom someone on this forum pointed me), the early Moravians (who were Evangelicals, but of a different place and age), and (more of Handmaiden's sinister music here, please) even some modern Catholics (Thérèse). We are to feed the Lord's lambs and sheep, and as we do they savour and appreciate the nourishment given, but many will probably not read seriously for themselves. Those who do, admittedly, will largely opt for weightier Evangelical writings (Tozer, Piper etc).

Another aspect of the problem, at least in Britain, is that books are expensive. I get virtually all mine second-hand or with book tokens after Yule and birthday. People who visit the USA come back drooling over the price of books there, and with their treasured new purchases in their luggage (or is it baggage then?).

Thirdly, it is hard to find patristic writings. I know of only one shop in all England which sells paperback patristics (from St Vladimir's, Crestwood), and even then they are about £10 a book. You might reply, "But it's all on the Internet". Schaff is, but his style is like wading through porridge: I actually found the Albanian translation of Chrysostom easier to follow than Schaff. And anyway, not everyone is computerate: some of us like to light the fire, sit back in an armchair with a glass of whisky, and read throughfully and prayerfully to the background of the whisper of the lambent flames. Looking at a computer screen is like being at work.

Lastly, I believe there is a nascent interest in the Fathers among Evangelicals, as one or two previous posts seem to confirm, as well as a number of recent new books. I hope it grows: perhaps you Orthodox have a role to play in helping that happen.

I hope that Orthdox writings make their way more into the Evangelical mainstream, at least among pastors, Christian educators and serious laymen. You are quite correct that not all, in fact, not most, will convert. But Orthodox writings and their pointing to the Fathers and directing readers in that direction can only help the whole of the community of people that call themselves Christians.

And you are correct, that the spiritual DNA of Evangelicals make them highly resistant to Roman Catholic claims, which leaves Orthodoxy as the remaining viable source for Evangelicals.

Orthodoxy's opposition to papal claims of universal jurisdiction and infallibility will resonate with Evangelicals.

I think we also emphasize the prioriy of God's grace and mercy in His dealing with us, which will also resonate even as they struggle with aspects of our synergistic understanding of the process of salvation, which is wholistic, rather than dividing justification and sanctification into separate events and placing the emphasis on justification as Evangelicals tend to do - nonetheless, the priority of God's mercy in Orthodox theology will keep them tuned in as they learn about the path of salvation which they can apply to their "sanctification" process.
 
Orthodox have a high view of the Bible which will be attractive to Evangelicals.

The profound Trinitarianism of Orthodoxy will resonate with Evangelicals and its predominance will remind them that although they tend to pray in "Jesus' name" they worship and are saved by the Holy Trinity and perhaps they will be reminded to be more congnizant of all Three divine Persons.

The high Christology of Orthdoxy, the emphasis on the workings of the Holy Spirit (albeit moreso in the Church collectively than in the believer individually) and the emphasis on prayer will all speak to Evangelicals looking for more in their spiritual lives.

Better that Evangelicals (again, at least the pastors and teachers) get it straight from Orthodox sources. I hope that occurs more and more.
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« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2010, 08:35:26 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.
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« Reply #31 on: January 01, 2010, 10:06:36 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.

COME ON! Jehovahs Witnesses and Mormans ARE NOT --- I repeat --- ARE NOT Evangelicals.
They appear in Evangelical anit-cult materials of just a generation ago as just that - CULTS.

Of course they use the Fathers to refute them: the JW's are Arians and the Mormons deny the Trinity.

I will say this for about the hundreth time on OC.net: if you are going to speak out of rank ignorance of Evangelicals, please announce that you actually know very little about them before-hand so we can ignore your posts.

Or, if you are going to lump all non-Catholic heterodox together and call them evangelicals, tell us that you stereotype so broadly so that we may again ignore your posts.

Not just you, Riddikulus. But I read too much of this broad-brush garbage about Protestants and Evangelicals here and it is plain ignorance or purposeful casting in the worst light possible. It's as if some people think that we have to make them look outrageous, stupid and grossly heretical to make ourselves look good.
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« Reply #32 on: January 01, 2010, 10:08:31 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.

COME ON! Jehovahs Witnesses and Mormans ARE NOT --- I repeat --- ARE NOT Evangelicals.
They appear in Evangelical anit-cult materials of just a generation ago as just that - CULTS.

Apparently, you missed a small word...... *or* groups like JWs and Mormons.

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« Reply #33 on: January 01, 2010, 10:10:25 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.

I will say this for about the hundreth time on OC.net: if you are going to speak out of rank ignorance of Evangelicals, please announce that you actually know very little about them before-hand so we can ignore your posts.

Or, if you are going to lump all non-Catholic heterodox together and call them evangelicals, tell us that you stereotype so broadly so that we may again ignore your posts.

Not just you, Riddikulus. But I read too much of this broad-brush garbage about Protestants and Evangelicals here and it is plain ignorance or purposeful casting in the worst light possible. It's as if some people think that we have to make them look outrageous, stupid and grossly heretical to make ourselves look good.

A mistake on your part. I didn't include JWs and Mormons amongst evangelicals.  Huh
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« Reply #34 on: January 01, 2010, 10:17:51 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.

I will say this for about the hundreth time on OC.net: if you are going to speak out of rank ignorance of Evangelicals, please announce that you actually know very little about them before-hand so we can ignore your posts.

Or, if you are going to lump all non-Catholic heterodox together and call them evangelicals, tell us that you stereotype so broadly so that we may again ignore your posts.

Not just you, Riddikulus. But I read too much of this broad-brush garbage about Protestants and Evangelicals here and it is plain ignorance or purposeful casting in the worst light possible. It's as if some people think that we have to make them look outrageous, stupid and grossly heretical to make ourselves look good.

A mistake on your part. I didn't include JWs and Mormons amongst evangelicals.  Huh

Yes, I did err when I read your post.  I missed the word "or." I do apologize to you and say that I am sorry.
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« Reply #35 on: January 01, 2010, 10:22:10 PM »

Interestingly, I have seen the fathers used by evangelicals to disprove the views of other evangelicals; or groups like JWs and Mormons.

I will say this for about the hundreth time on OC.net: if you are going to speak out of rank ignorance of Evangelicals, please announce that you actually know very little about them before-hand so we can ignore your posts.

Or, if you are going to lump all non-Catholic heterodox together and call them evangelicals, tell us that you stereotype so broadly so that we may again ignore your posts.

Not just you, Riddikulus. But I read too much of this broad-brush garbage about Protestants and Evangelicals here and it is plain ignorance or purposeful casting in the worst light possible. It's as if some people think that we have to make them look outrageous, stupid and grossly heretical to make ourselves look good.

A mistake on your part. I didn't include JWs and Mormons amongst evangelicals.  Huh

Yes, I did err when I read your post.  I missed the word "or." I do apologize to you and say that I am sorry.


No problem. Smiley
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« Reply #36 on: January 02, 2010, 12:40:26 AM »

I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it.

Ah, cultural context.  People tend to fall back on this when they are confronted with Truth.

COME ON! Jehovahs Witnesses and Mormans ARE NOT --- I repeat --- ARE NOT Evangelicals.
They appear in Evangelical anit-cult materials of just a generation ago as just that - CULTS.

What is wrong with a cultus?  We have many cults surrounding the saints, and ultimately of course around the life-creating Trinity.
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« Reply #37 on: January 02, 2010, 01:07:08 AM »

I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it.

Ah, cultural context.  People tend to fall back on this when they are confronted with Truth.

COME ON! Jehovahs Witnesses and Mormans ARE NOT --- I repeat --- ARE NOT Evangelicals.
They appear in Evangelical anit-cult materials of just a generation ago as just that - CULTS.

What is wrong with a cultus?  We have many cults surrounding the saints, and ultimately of course around the life-creating Trinity.

as an academic term and in the context you are using the word, it is fine. But out in the general culture, you don't want the "c" word associated with your religion.
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« Reply #38 on: January 02, 2010, 02:50:51 AM »

as an academic term and in the context you are using the word, it is fine. But out in the general culture, you don't want the "c" word associated with your religion.

Well, I don't care to associate with the general culture's inexact language.  Should I also avoid the use of the word "catholic" for fear of confusion?
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« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2010, 07:32:02 AM »

the spiritual DNA of Evangelicals make them highly resistant to Roman Catholic claims, which leaves Orthodoxy as the remaining viable source for Evangelicals.

Orthodoxy's opposition to papal claims of universal jurisdiction and infallibility will resonate with Evangelicals.

Thank you. A very irenic and perceptive post. If I may just comment on the two parts I have extracted:

1) Most Evangelicals have hardly heard of Orthodoxy. There is a tendency to grin tolerantly when I approvingly quote Orthodox writers, practices or beliefs, though people always seem to accept and agree with what I am saying. ("People" here = Baptists.) We need more promotion of good Orthodox writings, and (as I have said before) almost all of it here in Britain is imported from the USA, which makes is very expensive and hard to find, and there is very little of it. Also, most Evangelicals who have encountered Orthodoxy (including me) have done so in countries where it is deeply and closely entwined with belligerent nationalism, so that what hits us in the face is not the ancient and rich spirituality of the Church, but its politicisation. This is a tragedy. Our people tend then not to press beyond the local nationalism to the more universal spirituality.

2) Yes - but not in the rabid spirit in which we tend at first to meet it - in my case in the outpourings of Peter Botsis - the only author on sale in English at Preveli Monastery and (I think) the Orthodox bookshop in Corfu Town (or am I thinking of Ioannina? or both?). We have enough writers of our own who write in that hot, angry spirit. When you write - as people do on this forum - of the reasons why you dismiss the Pope's claims we may well respond with a feeling of shared reasoned agreement .
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« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2010, 09:48:49 AM »

Put it this way: it is unlikely that a lot of Evangelicals will turn to Catholicism for spiritual nourishment. We grow up not to be attracted to things Catholic. So what do we do if we want something beyond the usual parameters or boundaries of Evangelicalism? I have written a number of times on the threads that I feel Orthdooxy has much to offer the wider church, but I know that not all of you agree that there is "a wider church". This now is partly in response to a post on the Evangelical Mindset thread which wonders whether I am being drawn to convert to Orthodoxy. I don't think I am: I feel at home in my Baptist context, and I believe the Lord is there and meets and blesses me in it. But Baptists do not have the concept of "the fulness" of the church in our own denomination which you have about Orthodoxy, and there is much lush grazing to be found outside our own folds. If you claim the eastern Fathers as yours, plus more recent writers (we have mentioned Bulgakov, and of course there are Schmemann, Florovsky etc etc), then it would be (I think) a very good step if you could offer these to "the wider church", for it is my conviction that you have much to offer. As I have quoted before, freely you have received - freely give.

Some then, of course, will take the whole step and convert wholly to Orthodoxy - as some who post here have. Others will remain without (as I probably shall) but will be enriched. What God has given you, pass on to us others.

From what you have written, I was very much like you in leading group studies at the Baptist Church I attended.   I was content up until I lead a video series called "The Truth Project" by focus on the family and Dr. Del Tackett.  In the series it touched on history and sphere's of authority, though he taught from a view concerning government and God, my eye's were suddenly opened.  I realized that our Lord did give sphere's of authority and the Church was given authority being the pillar and foundation of truth by the will of our Lord.  Anyways, I haven't looked back.

Sphere sovereingty was developed theologically by Abaham Kuyper, a Dutch Reformed theologian. I did a paper on him in protestant seminary. That is interesting that this concept would be the thing that would guide you into Orthdoxy.

It wasn't just the concept of sphere sovereingty but history also being the root of our identity.  History for me is more than just identity but evidence of the Holy Spirit guidance and protection of the Church by the will of Jesus Christ.   With history I realized I had a serious disconnect with my professed faith in the leadership of Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which if I didn't trust history and the church then I really didn't believe in Christ Jesus leadership.   I apologize for not being able to tie it all together and communicate what occured.  I have a habit of seeing connectedness were there doesn't appear on the surface to be connections, needless to say I am comfortable with mysteries lol.  For example, I tend to feel a deep connection with all people, even though I don't know them, that we are all tied together mysteriously as if I already know them as a friend even though I know they may hate me.  
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« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2010, 11:12:14 AM »

as an academic term and in the context you are using the word, it is fine. But out in the general culture, you don't want the "c" word associated with your religion.

Well, I don't care to associate with the general culture's inexact language.  Should I also avoid the use of the word "catholic" for fear of confusion?

no, but in the prior instance you should avoid the use of the word cult in reference to your religion.

A. L. You don't get to choose your culture; you just find yourself in it. We are called to give an account of the hope within us to all around us. I think the corallary is that we would do so in language our hearers can understand. While we should never "dumb down" when it would compromise the meaning of dogma, but we also should not stubbornly insist on technical theological language that people no longer understand, let alone academic theological language that can be heard in the wrong way.

And don't be so haughty about language use!
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« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2010, 11:18:50 AM »


It wasn't just the concept of sphere sovereingty but history also being the root of our identity.  History for me is more than just identity but evidence of the Holy Spirit guidance and protection of the Church by the will of Jesus Christ.   With history I realized I had a serious disconnect with my professed faith in the leadership of Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, which if I didn't trust history and the church then I really didn't believe in Christ Jesus leadership.   I apologize for not being able to tie it all together and communicate what occured.  I have a habit of seeing connectedness were there doesn't appear on the surface to be connections, needless to say I am comfortable with mysteries lol.  For example, I tend to feel a deep connection with all people, even though I don't know them, that we are all tied together mysteriously as if I already know them as a friend even though I know they may hate me.  
[/quote]


Thank you! What a lovely and sincere look at history and trust in Christ to preserve His Church!
To me is is very fascinating what the little nudge was for each of us converts to get us here.
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« Reply #43 on: January 02, 2010, 11:53:09 PM »

There is a tendency to grin tolerantly when I approvingly quote Orthodox writers, practices or beliefs, though people always seem to accept and agree with what I am saying. ("People" here = Baptists.)

That is the great danger in being a teacher, which the Holy Scriptures warn us of.  But doesn't it bother you that you can so freely incorporate the materials that you want from outside of your tradition, because ultimately as you search for that special sermon every week you end up giving the Gospel according to David Young?  Your parishioners are not looking "solely" to the Scriptures for guidance, but also looking at them through your interpretive lens.  But by what authority do you perform your exegeses?
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« Reply #44 on: January 03, 2010, 02:27:25 PM »

But doesn't it bother you that  ... you end up giving the Gospel according to David Young?

It would concern me very greatly, and I earnestly hope that I preach in the fear of God, and only such truths as have been revealed in scripture.

Quote
by what authority do you perform your exegeses?

This sounds ominously like a certain question that was once put to our Lord, but I shall attempt to offer a reply - even though I can't entirely ward off the feeling of a whiff or tincture of sarcasm in the way the question is put. I hope I am mistaken.

As you know if you have read my other posts, Baptist ecclesiology places great emphasis on the autonomy of a properly functioning local church. Such churches are in fellowship with each other, but do not exercise authority over each other. Therefore, I was formally sent into the ministry by the local church with which I was in membership (Borough Green) in 1973. That was in Kent; as you know I now live in Wales and am not in a pastorate, but rather working for a missionary society. Nonetheless I often preach, both when the minister of my present home church is not preaching for whatever reason (illness, holiday, preaching elsewhere), and in other churches in Wales, England, Albania and Kosova which kindly invite me.

I have sought to ensure that my home church recognises God's call and grace upon my ministry; in other churches, I go only at the invitation of the officers (pastor, elders, deacons, whatever) of those churches. If I were ever to move back into pastoral charge of one local church, it would be with my home church's approval and blessing, and at the invitation of the leaders and members of the church to which I was going.

What applies to my preaching at my home church and at others, applies equally when I lead the congregation at the Breaking of Bread.

That is how it works in Baptist churches.
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« Reply #45 on: January 04, 2010, 04:41:14 PM »

How do evangelicals determine what teaching (or writing) is useful from the Church Fathers, and what isn't?
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« Reply #46 on: January 04, 2010, 04:48:07 PM »

Therefore, I was formally sent into the ministry by the local church with which I was in membership (Borough Green) in 1973.

So your authority was given to you by your fellow parishioners, at a church in which you no longer serve?  Can you see how this would appear that the authority is "below to above" rather than from "above to below"?
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« Reply #47 on: January 04, 2010, 05:50:43 PM »

But doesn't it bother you that  ... you end up giving the Gospel according to David Young?

It would concern me very greatly, and I earnestly hope that I preach in the fear of God, and only such truths as have been revealed in scripture.
I'm going to connect something you said in the "mindset" thread here, to try and make a point.  Bear with me.  You said:
Quote
By the way, someone wrote that I said I do not subscribe to OSAS. This is true, but it must not be taken as an assertion of its opposite, i.e. the belief that one can indeed lose one's present salvation. What I said was that I am apophatic on this matter: I can see scriptures which seem to point different ways, and I do not have a firm unalterable conviction on this question.
I find this interesting because you yourself note that the Scriptures can point in different ways, and that you have no firm conviction on this one particular question.  Therein lies the danger.
1. The Scriptures can point in different ways.  So which way do you choose when you preach?  And I'm not speaking specifically of OSAS.  I am speaking in generalities using the above OSAS example.  When the Scriptures can point different ways, which way do you choose?  This is how you end up at the Gospel according to David Young.  In your preaching, you must choose.  In our faith, we do not choose.  We teach according to what has been taught from the beginning and handed down through the saints. 

2.  OSAS may not be of consequence for you.  But what of those to whom it is of consequence?  How do you preach to them?  What do you teach them?  And by whose authority do you deliver an answer to a question which you admittedly don't know the answer to?  Again, I'm using the OSAS example to demonstrate the larger issue to which Alveus Lacuna was referring.

Quote
Quote
by what authority do you perform your exegeses?

This sounds ominously like a certain question that was once put to our Lord, but I shall attempt to offer a reply - even though I can't entirely ward off the feeling of a whiff or tincture of sarcasm in the way the question is put. I hope I am mistaken.

As you know if you have read my other posts, Baptist ecclesiology places great emphasis on the autonomy of a properly functioning local church. Such churches are in fellowship with each other, but do not exercise authority over each other. Therefore, I was formally sent into the ministry by the local church with which I was in membership (Borough Green) in 1973. That was in Kent; as you know I now live in Wales and am not in a pastorate, but rather working for a missionary society. Nonetheless I often preach, both when the minister of my present home church is not preaching for whatever reason (illness, holiday, preaching elsewhere), and in other churches in Wales, England, Albania and Kosova which kindly invite me.
This sounds like how our Orthodox clergymen begin their journey.  No man is an island, right?  The thought of leaving a church out there on its own, to do whatever it wishes, is a sort of scary one to me.  I guess that's why there are now, literally, thousands of Protestant denominations.

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I have sought to ensure that my home church recognises God's call and grace upon my ministry;
Can you explain this, please?  What do you mean by "ensure?," and how does one "ensure" recognition?  In the Orthodox Church, the Bishop/synod ensures that a priest's authority is recognized in all matters.  When a priest travels, an official letter is sent saying that they are, indeed, a priest in good standing and have the blessing to serve and preach.

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in other churches, I go only at the invitation of the officers (pastor, elders, deacons, whatever) of those churches. If I were ever to move back into pastoral charge of one local church, it would be with my home church's approval and blessing , and at the invitation of the leaders and members of the church to which I was going.
I'm confused... You submit to the authority of your church, but reject the idea of us submitting to the authority of ours?

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What applies to my preaching at my home church and at others, applies equally when I lead the congregation at the Breaking of Bread.

That is how it works in Baptist churches.

What do you mean by this, please?
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« Reply #48 on: January 04, 2010, 06:51:26 PM »

I think it's good overall that Evangelicals turn to the Fathers. The pastor of my former church often used the Fathers and a good many Catholic writings to back up what he was saying.

The problem is, they are used in a typical buffet-style manner. Evangelicals will quote things that back what they're saying, giving an air continuity with "the ancient church", but ignore what disagrees. Evangelicals don't hold the Fathers up as the main interpreters of the Faith, but rather use quotes from the Fathers as additional exhibits to argue for one's infallible "personal understanding".

I was speaking with a friend the other day (a fellow Orthodox convert) who felt very sure of his former belief system in part because of books that quoted extensively from the Fathers. For example, one of them quoted extensively from St Justin Martyr's First Apology to defend Christian (Evangelical) beliefs, but omitted the section on the Eucharist, which obviously speaks of the real body and blood of Christ.

All that to say, it's good that Evangelicals are reading the Fathers, but it's not good when the Fathers are ripped out of the Church tradition and used higgledy-piggledy to defend wrong Evangelical beliefs.
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« Reply #49 on: January 04, 2010, 07:34:53 PM »

I think it's good overall that Evangelicals turn to the Fathers. The pastor of my former church often used the Fathers and a good many Catholic writings to back up what he was saying.

The problem is, they are used in a typical buffet-style manner. Evangelicals will quote things that back what they're saying, giving an air continuity with "the ancient church", but ignore what disagrees. Evangelicals don't hold the Fathers up as the main interpreters of the Faith, but rather use quotes from the Fathers as additional exhibits to argue for one's infallible "personal understanding".

I was speaking with a friend the other day (a fellow Orthodox convert) who felt very sure of his former belief system in part because of books that quoted extensively from the Fathers. For example, one of them quoted extensively from St Justin Martyr's First Apology to defend Christian (Evangelical) beliefs, but omitted the section on the Eucharist, which obviously speaks of the real body and blood of Christ.

All that to say, it's good that Evangelicals are reading the Fathers, but it's not good when the Fathers are ripped out of the Church tradition and used higgledy-piggledy to defend wrong Evangelical beliefs.

All very true. Oftentimes, when protestants refer to the fathers it is when they want to emphasize the importance of scripture (For example, my signature line may be used in attempt to defend sola scriptura). It is very baffling, however, when we realize what is actually being done here. By filtering the writings of the early church fathers through their own denomination's eyes, they are in fact trying to make the tail wag the dog.  Instead of viewing the newer traditions in light of the old, they are doing it the other way around!  Make no mistake, any particular evangelical denomination uses its own traditions when formulating biblical doctrine, although they will adamently deny it. it is impossible to read scripture and come up with an interpretation thereof without reading into it a particular context or tradition.  

Ironically enough, the verse that is most often used against us is very well appropriate here in our defense of apostolic biblical interpretation:

"See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."
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« Reply #50 on: January 06, 2010, 08:30:18 AM »

1. The Scriptures can point in different ways.  So which way do you choose when you preach?  ... When the Scriptures can point different ways, which way do you choose?  This is how you end up at the Gospel according to David Young.  In your preaching, you must choose. 

There are many points in your thoughtful post, and I shan't attempt to answer them all in a single post. First of all, God forbid that I should be found to be preaching a "gospel according to David Young"! Would that not risk the apostle's anathema?

One principle by which I abide is not to contradict the tenets of a church which kindly invites me to preach. This is required by simple courtesy if nothing else. So when in a Pentecostal, I do not deny second-blessing teaching regarding 'the baptism in the Holy Spirit', though it is a not a belief I hold. When in an Anglican or Methodist, I do not speak of believers' baptism. And so on.

To take an example: some people believe that the weekly sabbath is binding upon all men, Jew and Gentile alike, as a creation ordinance; others believe it was a national sign of Israel being God's people under the Old Covenant, is not required of Gentiles, and in any case was never transferred from Saturday to Sunday. I do not therefore go to a church and tell them what I believe about Sundays - unless, of course, I happen to know the pastor's views and they happen to coincide with mine.

Secondly, I see the pulpit as quite different from a discussional Bible study. The pulpit is for declaring the word of God. If a matter is uncertain, either because there are some matters which are darker, or less fully and clearly revealed, than others, or because I myself am uncertain (as the matter of OSAS), it would not be a subject I would preach about. The pulpit is a place for certainty.

Thirdly, if I were in pastoral charge of one church again, then I would teach the people what I believed to be the correct interpretation in matters of faith and belief, such as Sunday/sabbath, baptism, etc. But even then, these would by no means be merely DMY's personal musings: they always fall with the spectrum of Evangelical life and doctrine (our tradition, if you like). As far as I am aware, none of my beliefs is unique to me: if it is, I am almost certainly in error and need it pointed out pretty quick.
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« Reply #51 on: January 06, 2010, 09:57:16 AM »

your authority was given to you by your fellow parishioners... Can you see how this would appear that the authority is "below to above" rather than from "above to below"?

Yes: we don't see it like that, but I do see how it could appear thus. Firstly, we regard the "parishioners" as the Body of Christ, not just a bunch of individuals who have chosen to operate together like any other society. Secondly, I did emphasise that it needs to be a properly functioning church, with proper church offices (e,g, pastor, elders, deacons). In that way, the decision is made by the Body of Christ, led by its leaders, regarding a person whom they genuinely know.

Now of course any system is open to abuse, ours no less than others, for all churches consist of human beings, and many religious leaders over the centuries have been, and remain, worldly, ambitious, biassed, self-seeking, vindictive or whatever - from popes down to Baptist church-secretaries! It is too easy for a man of dominant, persuasive and charming personality to endear himself to a small, ill-led congregation of simple folk and to get himself appointed to some position for which God has not called or equipped him - a "big fish in a small pond". But even then, his unsuitability would soon be noticed by neighbouring churches, and his influence is unlikely to extend beyond his own dominated coterie.

Such things ought not to happen: but neither should Benedictine monks conspire together to murder their abbot, nor popes spend their time wenching and hunting - but sadly these things have happened. So yes - our system is open to abuse, but we believe it is the one which the apostles left behind after their deaths, not simply one which we've dreamt up pragmatically, and when operated in humility and grace it sustains the life of the churches.
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« Reply #52 on: January 06, 2010, 10:11:08 AM »

In our faith, we do not choose. 

Yes you do: you have chosen to submit to the teaching of Holy Orthodoxy. I am far more aware now than I was when I got drawn into this forum, of the reasons for your choice, and I see them as good reasons - 'good' in the sense of well-thought-out, consistent and worthy of respect. But still you have had to make the choice to become, or to remain, Orthodox, and not become atheist, Baptist, Moslem or whatever.

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OSAS may not be of consequence for you.  But what of those to whom it is of consequence?  How do you preach to them?  What do you teach them?  And by whose authority do you deliver an answer to a question which you admittedly don't know the answer to? 

The question is dislocated from its proper context. I wouldn't preach to them. How could I, when I see the pulpit as the place to declare with certainty? But I would indeed be willing to counsel them in personal conversation. But how to go about it would surely depend on the condition and need of the individual troubled soul. Is he someone who fears he has lost his salvation because of unforgivable sin? (The most usual reason, I think.) Or is he someone wanting to lead a life of brinkmanship, thinking he can treat sin lightly because now he's saved he can't lose it? Or is he merely an intellectual speculator who is not really troubled at all, but wishes to explore the less clear teachings of scripture, possibly even peering into the secret things which belong only to God? I cannot answer your question, but I hope that, if approached, I would be helped by God's Spirit to give a word of comfort to the fearful, or of warning to the frivolous.

Quote
by what authority do you perform your exegeses?

As a good Protestant (if I am such), I ought to reply, with Luther, that my conscience is bound by the Word of God, the scriptures. I hope this is in fact true, but it's not really what you mean, is it? As I have written elsewhere on this thread, I should be deeply concerned if my beliefs did not fall within the spectrum of Evangelical belief as held through the centuries. Also, if they did not, I would soon find the doors to churches closing to my ministry, both within the Albanian work and with preaching simply as DMY.
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« Reply #53 on: January 06, 2010, 10:32:49 AM »

The thought of leaving a church out there on its own, to do whatever it wishes, is a sort of scary one to me.

Yes. It ought not to happen, but it would be foolish, nay mendacious, to pretend it doesn't. Such isolationist churches tend to be viewed with suspicion and caution. It can become quite cultic, if such a church has powerful leaders and a large, wealthy congregation. It is a distortion of true Evangelical life and fellowship, but it does exist.

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I have sought to ensure that my home church recognises God's call and grace upon my ministry;
Can you explain this, please?  What do you mean by "ensure?," and how does one "ensure" recognition?  ... I'm confused... You submit to the authority of your church, but reject the idea of us submitting to the authority of ours?

Let me address the second part first, as it seems easier. I don't know how I gave the impression that I reject the idea of you submitting to the authority of your church, but let me correct the impression. Every Christian should submit to the authority of the church he belongs to. I certainly do not reject the idea of your doing do. Sorry to have clumsily made myself misunderstood. Your authority structure is different from ours, but we would both be wrong not to submit to the one we find ourselves in.

How I personally ensure it is not very important, as they have known me since 1977, and they so often have me preach, take mid-week Bible studies, and preside at the Lord's Table, that their recognition of my calling is obvious from those things. However, we have another man who has recently begun to preach - hitherto only in our own church, as far as I know - and I have ensured that formal recognition of his calling, gifts and grace should be an agendum at a members' meeting in the near future. This will be duly minuted, and he will go out, if invited, to other churches, knowing he is not a self-appointed maverick, but operating as part of the life of the Body of Christ at Bradley Road. When one of us is preaching the coming Sunday at a different church, I try to ensure that this is prayed for at our mid-week prayer meeting, for such visits should be seen not as private excursions, but as part of the life and ministry of our own local church, our ministry in the area where we are placed.

Quote
What applies to my preaching ... applies equally when I lead the congregation at the Breaking of Bread.
What do you mean by this, please?

I mean that, when I preside at Communion services, whether at my church in Bradley Road or in other churches, I do so at the invitation of, and therefore in a sense under the authority of (or to use your phrase, in submission to), the leaders of those churches. When I preach but the local leaders prefer to 'do' the Communion service themselves, I am perfectly happy to sit in the pews (for we have such!) and be one of the congregation.
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« Reply #54 on: January 06, 2010, 11:47:53 AM »

Evangelicals will quote things that back what they're saying, giving an air continuity with "the ancient church", but ignore what disagrees.

I think three points might be worth making:

1. We do not see the Fathers as belonging to Rome or to Orthodoxy, but as the heritage of the whole church, Orthodox, Roman, Protestant. They wrote before the great, permanent divisions.

2. Our use of them is not that different from our use of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, the Puritans, or for that matter Hus, Wycliffe and so on; nor indeed of the great Catholic authors (one thinks especially of Bernard of Clairvaux of course). We read to benefit our souls, to nourish them. If a writer ministers Christ to us, we do not have to agree with all his beliefs before we can derive spiritual blessing from him. I was discussing reading with a Pentecostal pastor some time back. He said to me, "You draw water from many wells." Someone (not very prettily) made the analogy of eating fish: one leaves the bones on the side, but still enjoys the flesh. If we set aside some parts of a writer's opus, it does not mean we hold him in low respect, nor that we are merely misusing him as a proto-Evangelical as if to legitimise our own position, but because we see and enjoy Christ in other parts of his works.

3. If people look to the Fathers for confirmation of doctrine, I cannot see that this is altogether so bad a thing as you seem to be thinking. To find continuity of doctrine on the great truths we all hold in common through the long centuries, and in widely different places and cultures, is surely a good thing, not a bad one? There is a place (this forum is one, is it not?) for examining and discussing our different interpretations and emphases in a spirit of mutual respect and friendship, but is it not an even better thing to confirm the wide swathes of agreement between us by citing the Fathers, the mediævals, the moderns, the east, the west, and so on?
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« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2010, 01:30:12 PM »

1. We do not see the Fathers as belonging to Rome or to Orthodoxy, but as the heritage of the whole church, Orthodox, Roman, Protestant. They wrote before the great, permanent divisions.

Our squabble would obviously be that those divisions put some people outside the Church, but that's neither here nor there. I understand that viewpoint, as I used to share it.

2. Our use of them is not that different from our use of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, the Puritans, or for that matter Hus, Wycliffe and so on; nor indeed of the great Catholic authors (one thinks especially of Bernard of Clairvaux of course). We read to benefit our souls, to nourish them. If a writer ministers Christ to us, we do not have to agree with all his beliefs before we can derive spiritual blessing from him. I was discussing reading with a Pentecostal pastor some time back. He said to me, "You draw water from many wells." Someone (not very prettily) made the analogy of eating fish: one leaves the bones on the side, but still enjoys the flesh. If we set aside some parts of a writer's opus, it does not mean we hold him in low respect, nor that we are merely misusing him as a proto-Evangelical as if to legitimise our own position, but because we see and enjoy Christ in other parts of his works.

But how is it that the Fathers' consensus on some other issue, such as the Eucharist, is ignored?

That's what I feel is intellectually dishonest: the consensus is ignored in favor of a specific quote that agrees. It's prooftexting. For instance, St Augustine went too far with some of his ideas, and the Fathers' consensus went against him in some areas. But Protestants will pull out those quotes and use them to develop their theology, because St Augustine said it and that gives it authority.

Again, it's the buffet-style usage of the Fathers that seems very wrong to me. The Fathers must be used in the context of all the other Fathers. I never said the Fathers are the sole property of Rome or the Orthodox, but they must be used in their proper context - consensus - or people like Calvin come along and dream up some wild theology.

Obviously no single Father is infallible by himself (meanwhile I personally know many people who see Calvin virtually as a new prophet), but the consensus of the Fathers on a given doctrine is another matter. When Protestants disagree with the Fathers' consensus, it's passed off as "traditions of men" or some other overused phrase.

3. If people look to the Fathers for confirmation of doctrine, I cannot see that this is altogether so bad a thing as you seem to be thinking. To find continuity of doctrine on the great truths we all hold in common through the long centuries, and in widely different places and cultures, is surely a good thing, not a bad one? There is a place (this forum is one, is it not?) for examining and discussing our different interpretations and emphases in a spirit of mutual respect and friendship, but is it not an even better thing to confirm the wide swathes of agreement between us by citing the Fathers, the mediævals, the moderns, the east, the west, and so on?

It's not bad at the outset. I am happy when Protestants agree with the Fathers. What's bad is picking and choosing what bits of the Fathers we're going to agree with. The Fathers are not given inherent authority, that's the problem. Protestants generally feel free to ignore the Fathers when they disagree with their preconceived ideas. A traditional Lutheran would see the Fathers differently from a member of Joel Osteen's church. That can't be right - are the Fathers inherently authoritative or aren't they?

There is room for disagreement on non-dogmatic points, but when we get into wildly different beliefs about things such as Baptism and the Eucharist, we are talking about different religions, not different emphases.

The continuity must be universal, that's my point. The Apostles, the Fathers, and we in the modern Church must all agree, or something is wrong. If there ever is disagreement, most likely the problem is us, not the Fathers or Apostles. Sadly many don't see it that way.
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« Reply #56 on: January 06, 2010, 01:52:06 PM »

David, I will say that your consideration of the writings of the ECF's is refreshingly uncharacteristic compared to the other baptist ministers I have come across.
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« Reply #57 on: January 06, 2010, 02:04:53 PM »


Secondly, I see the pulpit as quite different from a discussional Bible study. The pulpit is for declaring the word of God. If a matter is uncertain, either because there are some matters which are darker, or less fully and clearly revealed, than others, or because I myself am uncertain (as the matter of OSAS), it would not be a subject I would preach about. The pulpit is a place for certainty.


But if we are uncertain about God's plan of salvation, then isn't the rest simply frivolous?

I respect the fact that you say in so few words "I do not preach about subjects that I am unsure about". But what then is the difference between you and other evangelical pastors who boldly proclaim the "truth" about OSAS to their congregation week after week? Did they have some sort of private revelation? If you say that, in your opinion, no one can be sure about such matters, then how can any of us be "sure" that we have the correct interpretation about any important biblical teaching if we rely upon our own understanding? (or that of our congregation?)
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« Reply #58 on: January 06, 2010, 05:30:44 PM »

if we are uncertain about God's plan of salvation, then isn't the rest simply frivolous?

There is full and universal agreement on the fact that God saves those who truly repent and believe. The question is whether, having been brought into a 'state of grace', one can finally fall away from it and be lost. Opinion on that has been divided since long before Protestantism arose, certainly as far back as Gottschalk (Godescalc), and going further back at least as far as Augustine. I am not the one to provide the final solution to the riddle. Also, I am aware that we are wandering far from the theme of the renewed interest among Evangelicals in the Fathers.

In re the previous posts, I shall take a closer look at them tomorrow, but a brief glance engenders an initial impression that y'all are saying much the same as me, but are feeling differently about the same things because you are looking at them from a different perspective.
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« Reply #59 on: January 06, 2010, 05:55:03 PM »

if we are uncertain about God's plan of salvation, then isn't the rest simply frivolous?

There is full and universal agreement on the fact that God saves those who truly repent and believe. The question is whether, having been brought into a 'state of grace', one can finally fall away from it and be lost. Opinion on that has been divided since long before Protestantism arose, certainly as far back as Gottschalk (Godescalc), and going further back at least as far as Augustine. I am not the one to provide the final solution to the riddle. Also, I am aware that we are wandering far from the theme of the renewed interest among Evangelicals in the Fathers.

In re the previous posts, I shall take a closer look at them tomorrow, but a brief glance engenders an initial impression that y'all are saying much the same as me, but are feeling differently about the same things because you are looking at them from a different perspective.

Where is your proof that the heretic Gottschalk held to "Once saved always saved" or the "P" in the Calvinistic T.U.L.I.P.? Saint Agustine never held to the "P"/ASAS  doctrine. And yes I am able to prove it.......just so you know.



So who before the time of John Calvin believed in  OSAS? Where is your evidence?
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« Reply #60 on: January 06, 2010, 06:20:39 PM »

There is full and universal agreement on the fact that God saves those who truly repent and believe.

Believe in what?

I'm going to anticipate "Christ crucified" as a response, or something along those lines.  But don't the Holy Scriptures themselves speak of false 'christs'?  (See Matthew 24 for more details.)  Doesn't Paul warn against listening to anyone who preaches another 'christ'?

Quote from: 2 Corinthians 11:4 (KJV)
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  To say by scripture alone is obviously not sufficient, and many of the false 'christs' are derived from incorrect exegesis of the Holy Scriptures.  We need another guide to contextualize what we are reading, and to make its meaning clear:

Quote from:  Acts 8:26-31 (KJV)
And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.

Who protects and guides the flock from these false christs?  Perhaps the apostolic overseers?

We do not see the Fathers as belonging to Rome or to Orthodoxy, but as the heritage of the whole church, Orthodox, Roman, Protestant. They wrote before the great, permanent divisions.

No offense intended, but what the heck are you talking about?  Do these groups with plenty of internal sects not qualify as "great divisions" when taken collectively?

Antinomianism
Audianism
Circumcellions
Donatism
Ebionites
Euchites/Messalians
Luciferians
Marcionism
Millennialism
Montanism
Pelagianism/Semipelagianism
Johannites
Mandaeism
Manichaeism
Paulicianism
Priscillianism
Naassenes
Notzrim
Sethian
Ophites
Valentianism
Adoptionism
Apollinarism
Arianism
Docetism
Macedonians (religious group)
Monarchianism
Monophysitism or Eutychianism
Monothelitism
Nestorianism
Patripassianism
Psilanthropism
Sabellianism
Bogomils
Bosnian Church
Catharism
Conciliarism
Free Spirit
Iconoclasm
Henricians
Waldensians
Phyletism

This is without even getting into the thousands of substantial Protestant sectarian movements, although many of the subscribe to a self-styled amalgam of the aforementioned heresies.  Which ones they adopt are of course chosen by their own consciences, based on their own interpretation of the Holy Scriptures.
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« Reply #61 on: January 06, 2010, 06:20:58 PM »

To say that Augustine's views regarding eternal security even remotely resembles "OSAS" is a gross distortion.
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« Reply #62 on: January 06, 2010, 06:46:20 PM »

I think that St. Theophan's commentary entitled, "Preaching Another Christ" sums this issue up rather succinctly:

Quote
Did you not read the warning words of the Lord in the Gospel: 'Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.' Do not think that the Lord refers here to those who do not know His name. No. He means exactly those who use His name as a cover for deception. This becomes obvious by His following words: 'On that day many will say to Me, ''Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?"' You see? They preach Christ, but Christ Himself urges us to guard ourselves from them. And on the Day of Judgment, He will tell them: 'I never knew you; depart from me you evil doers.' In their preaching, the Lord does not see Himself, but some other Christ, different from the true one who was sacrificed here on earth for our salvation. Do you realize now how it is possible for Christ not to be preached under the name of Christ? How then, without any discernment, do you cling to that false teacher of yours, who covers up his deception under Christ's name? Do you have any doubt that the words: 'For many will come in My name, and they will lead many astray' apply to him as well?

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« Reply #63 on: January 06, 2010, 08:53:28 PM »

How do evangelicals determine what teaching (or writing) is useful from the Church Fathers, and what isn't?

From my experience, whatever agreed with the teachings of the evangelicals I knew was considered useful; especially in combating the Trinitarian misunderstandings of JWs. But that which didn't agree with their specific teachings which actually became a bit of a moving feast was discarded as the Church Fathers' susceptibility to "pagan Greek philosophy". So it was all really just a pick and choose affair.
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« Reply #64 on: January 06, 2010, 08:58:10 PM »

IOW, heresy, pure and simple, in the sense of the original Greek word.
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« Reply #65 on: January 06, 2010, 08:59:58 PM »

IOW, heresy, pure and simple, in the sense of the original Greek word.

Indeed.
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« Reply #66 on: January 06, 2010, 10:58:06 PM »

How do evangelicals determine what teaching (or writing) is useful from the Church Fathers, and what isn't?

From my experience, whatever agreed with the teachings of the evangelicals I knew was considered useful; especially in combating the Trinitarian misunderstandings of JWs. But that which didn't agree with their specific teachings which actually became a bit of a moving feast was discarded as the Church Fathers' susceptibility to "pagan Greek philosophy". So it was all really just a pick and choose affair.
I agree with you entirely that Evangelicals in general display a characteristic of "proof texting" by quoting Scripture or any other authority that they have decided is valid often out of context. However, we Orthodox must not become too smug in bashing them. After all, we don't accept everything that every Church Father ever wrote, so some picking and choosing has been done as well. The difference, of course, is that we have the entire history of the Church which has had the time and wisdom to sift through all the writings and come up with a consensus of belief. And even at that, we don't always agree. Let's at least be thankful that those Evangelicals who have turned to the Church Fathers have aimed themselves in the right direction in the pursuit of truth - and pray that they succeed in finding it!
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« Reply #67 on: January 06, 2010, 11:45:26 PM »


I am curious as to how many times within the history of the Church that an earlier, more historical teaching was abandonded (or possibly adjusted) in favor of a newer, more modern teaching? I can't think of any example, but then again I'm not all that well versed with regards to Church history and doctrinal development. Anyone?
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« Reply #68 on: January 06, 2010, 11:46:14 PM »

How do evangelicals determine what teaching (or writing) is useful from the Church Fathers, and what isn't?

From my experience, whatever agreed with the teachings of the evangelicals I knew was considered useful; especially in combating the Trinitarian misunderstandings of JWs. But that which didn't agree with their specific teachings which actually became a bit of a moving feast was discarded as the Church Fathers' susceptibility to "pagan Greek philosophy". So it was all really just a pick and choose affair.
I agree with you entirely that Evangelicals in general display a characteristic of "proof texting" by quoting Scripture or any other authority that they have decided is valid often out of context. However, we Orthodox must not become too smug in bashing them. After all, we don't accept everything that every Church Father ever wrote, so some picking and choosing has been done as well. The difference, of course, is that we have the entire history of the Church which has had the time and wisdom to sift through all the writings and come up with a consensus of belief. And even at that, we don't always agree. Let's at least be thankful that those Evangelicals who have turned to the Church Fathers have aimed themselves in the right direction in the pursuit of truth - and pray that they succeed in finding it!

Just to clarify; I wasn't bashing anyone. I was simply answering the question as to what was my own experience with the Evangelicals that I have known.
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« Reply #69 on: January 06, 2010, 11:51:27 PM »


I am curious as to how many times within the history of the Church that an earlier, more historical teaching was abandonded (or possibly adjusted) in favor of a newer, more modern teaching? I can't think of any example, but then again I'm not all that well versed with regards to Church history and doctrinal development. Anyone?

The one that springs to my mind is the development of the way a lot of Christians, if not most (myself included), now look at the Genesis account of Creation in less literal terms than was the norm in the past.
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« Reply #70 on: January 07, 2010, 03:40:33 AM »

How do evangelicals determine what teaching (or writing) is useful from the Church Fathers, and what isn't?

Whatever statement, sentence, paragraph, or letter that agrees with them will most likely be seen as useful, while everything that doesn't......which is most of it, will most likely be seen as not useful. And it various from each protestant group.





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« Reply #71 on: January 07, 2010, 03:46:06 AM »

I think it's good overall that Evangelicals turn to the Fathers. The pastor of my former church often used the Fathers and a good many Catholic writings to back up what he was saying.

The problem is, they are used in a typical buffet-style manner. Evangelicals will quote things that back what they're saying, giving an air continuity with "the ancient church", but ignore what disagrees. Evangelicals don't hold the Fathers up as the main interpreters of the Faith, but rather use quotes from the Fathers as additional exhibits to argue for one's infallible "personal understanding".

I was speaking with a friend the other day (a fellow Orthodox convert) who felt very sure of his former belief system in part because of books that quoted extensively from the Fathers. For example, one of them quoted extensively from St Justin Martyr's First Apology to defend Christian (Evangelical) beliefs, but omitted the section on the Eucharist, which obviously speaks of the real body and blood of Christ.

All that to say, it's good that Evangelicals are reading the Fathers, but it's not good when the Fathers are ripped out of the Church tradition and used higgledy-piggledy to defend wrong Evangelical beliefs.

I agree






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« Reply #72 on: January 07, 2010, 04:02:22 AM »

Evangelicals will quote things that back what they're saying, giving an air continuity with "the ancient church", but ignore what disagrees.

I think three points might be worth making:

1. We do not see the Fathers as belonging to Rome or to Orthodoxy, but as the heritage of the whole church, Orthodox, Roman, Protestant. They wrote before the great, permanent divisions.

2. Our use of them is not that different from our use of Luther, Calvin, Wesley, the Puritans, or for that matter Hus, Wycliffe and so on; nor indeed of the great Catholic authors (one thinks especially of Bernard of Clairvaux of course). We read to benefit our souls, to nourish them. If a writer ministers Christ to us, we do not have to agree with all his beliefs before we can derive spiritual blessing from him. I was discussing reading with a Pentecostal pastor some time back. He said to me, "You draw water from many wells." Someone (not very prettily) made the analogy of eating fish: one leaves the bones on the side, but still enjoys the flesh. If we set aside some parts of a writer's opus, it does not mean we hold him in low respect, nor that we are merely misusing him as a proto-Evangelical as if to legitimise our own position, but because we see and enjoy Christ in other parts of his works.

3. If people look to the Fathers for confirmation of doctrine, I cannot see that this is altogether so bad a thing as you seem to be thinking. To find continuity of doctrine on the great truths we all hold in common through the long centuries, and in widely different places and cultures, is surely a good thing, not a bad one? There is a place (this forum is one, is it not?) for examining and discussing our different interpretations and emphases in a spirit of mutual respect and friendship, but is it not an even better thing to confirm the wide swathes of agreement between us by citing the Fathers, the mediævals, the moderns, the east, the west, and so on?

Things are done differently over here in America, don't forget that alot of us here are mostly former American protestants of one stripe or another. And so alot of us are talking from personal experience.




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« Reply #73 on: January 07, 2010, 04:05:24 AM »

David, I will say that your consideration of the writings of the ECF's is refreshingly uncharacteristic compared to the other baptist ministers I have come across.

I agree





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« Reply #74 on: January 07, 2010, 05:34:44 AM »

So who before the time of John Calvin believed in  OSAS? Where is your evidence?

I readily concede that you may well be right. I was under the impression that these men held what are now called "Calvinistic" views, but (as you are aware) I am not greatly drawn to exploring this particular area of doctrine, and from my more general reading in historical theology I may well have added more to my concept of pre-16th century writers than was justified by what I have read. So I have no hesitation in candidly surrendering to your greater knowledge in this area of study.

It has often been said - and again, I know not with what accuracy, if any - that Calvin himself was not a full Calvinist, but rather that the system which now bears his name was actually formulated by Th. Beza.

I feel that discussion of the Fathers would yield greater edification, and maybe those who wish to explore all or any of the TULIP doctrines should now start a new thread - unless one already exists to be revived. It would not be one which I personally am either qualified or drawn to play a great part in.
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« Reply #75 on: January 07, 2010, 05:37:15 AM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
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« Reply #76 on: January 07, 2010, 05:47:51 AM »

what then is the difference between you and other evangelical pastors who boldly proclaim the "truth" about OSAS to their congregation week after week? Did they have some sort of private revelation?

how can any of us be "sure" that we have the correct interpretation about any important biblical teaching if we rely upon our own understanding? (or that of our congregation?)

Looking at your second question first, I would reply that there are a host of matters in scripture which are plain and which any humble reader, though simple and unlearned, may readily understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are other matters which are less plain, more obscure, and on which very sincere Christians, evidently used, blessed and owned by God, hold differing opinions.

Secondly, one can feel sure in such matters, but in my view it is wise to be cautious in them. I cannot answer your question about other preachers - they must speak for themselves - but I can say that they do not have private revelation, for we hold that all necessary, final and sufficient revelation was deposited in scripture.
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« Reply #77 on: January 07, 2010, 05:53:40 AM »

We do not see the Fathers as belonging to Rome or to Orthodoxy, but as the heritage of the whole church, Orthodox, Roman, Protestant. They wrote before the great, permanent divisions.

No offense intended, but what the heck are you talking about?  Do these groups with plenty of internal sects not qualify as "great divisions" when taken collectively?

The heck to which I was referring (in fact two hecks, one might say) could be dated as reaching permanence in the 11th and 16th centuries, more specifically those between east and west, then the Protestant Reformation.

By the way, from your list, I would not regard Docetism, Bogomils, Cathars and Manichees as divisions within Christianity, nor would I see the Waldenses as having divided from anyone: it is not known how, when or where they arose, but their doctrine is orthodox.
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« Reply #78 on: January 07, 2010, 06:01:11 AM »

The Fathers are not given inherent authority, that's the problem.

If we change the word problem for the word principle or difference, or if we reckon problem as meaning the problem between Orthodox and Evangelicals (rather than the problem with Evangelicals), then we agree. We turn to any writer from Clement of Rome down to today's Christian writers (my favourite is probably Alister McGrath) for edification and indeed instruction, but as you rightly say, they "are not given inherent authority". That we ascribe only to Holy Writ.
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« Reply #79 on: January 07, 2010, 10:27:27 AM »

Getting back to the theme of Fathers - I think that you good people are yourselves partly to blame for the regrettable fact that we Evangelicals turn seldom to the early Fathers. I have read pages and pages and pages from Chrysostom on Matthew, and the whole of Athanasius on the Incarnation and his letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms, and the whole of Irenæus on the Apostolic Preaching. There is very little indeed in all I have read with which any standard Evangelical would disagree. However, I also have your "Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom" (Coniaris, Light & Life Publishing), and I soon wearied of it, for it keeps on and on (and on ...) selecting passages about your view of the sacraments. It is a pity that Coniaris opted to select so many passages stating views from which Evangelical Christians are known to differ. Such publications are unlikely to attract us to the Fathers for our devotional reading - and (I suspect) actually give a warped picture anyway of patristic output. R C Hill (Holy Cross Orthodox Press) did much better in his selection of "Spiritual Gems" from Chrysostom on Matthew, which is what prompted me to read more than only his brief extracts.

If I wanted you to read John Wesley, I would not point you first to his sermon entitled Justification by Faith.

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« Reply #80 on: January 07, 2010, 10:29:38 AM »

Getting back to the theme of Fathers - I think that you good people are yourselves partly to blame for the regrettable fact that we Evangelicals turn seldom to the early Fathers. I have read pages and pages and pages from Chrysostom on Matthew, and the whole of Athanasius on the Incarnation and his letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms, and the whole of Irenæus on the Apostolic Preaching. There is very little indeed in all I have read with which any standard Evangelical would disagree. However, I also have your "Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom" (Coniaris, Light & Life Publishing), and I soon wearied of it, for it keeps on and on (and on ...) selecting passages about your view of the sacraments. It is a pity that Coniaris opted to select so many passages stating views from which Evangelical Christians are known to differ. Such publications are unlikely to attract us to the Fathers for our devotional reading - and (I suspect) actually give a warped picture anyway of patristic output. R C Hill (Holy Cross Orthodox Press) did much better in his selection of "Spiritual Gems" from Chrysostom on Matthew, which is what prompted me to read more than only his brief extracts.

If I wanted you to read John Wesley, I would not point you first to his sermon entitled Justification by Faith.
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« Reply #81 on: January 07, 2010, 12:13:02 PM »

Three years ago, I was one of the few Protestants who read the Church Fathers.  Problem is...or maybe it's a good thing :-) - the more I read them, the more it made me question what I was being taught as a Protestant.  Thankfully the young adults pastor at my church also read them, and encouraged me to check out the Orthodox Church...apparently he wanted to convert but decided to try to change the church from the inside out.  But my point is...I think Evangelucals who are well-versed in the church fathers tend to move out of the Evangelical Church into a more liturgical or intellectual church, leaving behind the type of Evangelicals you typically see or hear about.  Many are sincere....and I think more would move towards Orthodoxy if they were introduced to it with an open mind.  I pray each day that my family will become Orthodox. 
Similar to your story, I grew up Southern Baptist but about 6-7 years ago started reading the Church Fathers and now, after exploring the Papal claims and even being an Eastern Orthodox catechuman for a few weeks about four years ago,  I am Anglican Catholic.
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« Reply #82 on: January 07, 2010, 01:44:57 PM »

[


By the way, from your list, I would not regard Docetism, Bogomils, Cathars and Manichees as divisions within Christianity, nor would I see the Waldenses as having divided from anyone: it is not known how, when or where they arose, but their doctrine is orthodox.

Would you consider them orthodox in their current state, or originally when they believed in the real presence, prayers for the dead and infant baptism?
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« Reply #83 on: January 07, 2010, 05:03:41 PM »

Would you consider them orthodox in their current state, or originally when they believed in the real presence, prayers for the dead and infant baptism?

I have only read a couple of books about them, and have not read of these beliefs being held among them. However, if you remember, ask me again after April, as I shall be staying with a Waldensian pastor in Italy for a few days and I should know more after I return.
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« Reply #84 on: January 07, 2010, 06:38:20 PM »


Looking at your second question first, I would reply that there are a host of matters in scripture which are plain and which any humble reader, though simple and unlearned, may readily understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are other matters which are less plain, more obscure, and on which very sincere Christians, evidently used, blessed and owned by God, hold differing opinions.


"The plan of salvation is so clearly taught in the Bible, a child could understand it!" My brother would confidently assert to me whenever we used to get into a theological dispute. (He is a born, raised, and practicing Southern Baptist, as I once was). This indeed sounds logical, and it is something that I used to believe myself. (That is, until I decided to re-read the new testament with a keen eye towards the plan of salvation.) Starting in the Gospel of Matthew, I already began to encounter passages that I thought required further explanation.  I found passages that seemed to contradict each other. Eventually, I started to realize something.  The plan of salvation that I thought was so clearly taught in the bible was only taught in specific sections of the new testament, to the exclusion of other verses on the matter which apparently seemed to contradict it! After solemnly refusing to admit that the bible contained contradictions, I began to realize that my church didn't give me the whole picture on salvation.  Sure, the "Romans road" made sense (or at least it jibed with my church doctrine), but there is certainly a lot more the bible has to say about the matter of salvation than this select choice of passages!

The more scripture commentary I read from an Orthodox perspective, the more I realize how much meaning, interpretation, and context is hiding underneath the seemingly "bare" words of scripture! I assert that any confidence that we may have regarding a passage of scripture to be  "self-explanatory" or "straightforward" is directly attributed to, and subject to: what we have been taught to read into the scripture (from church tradition or commentary), our individual knowledge, bible translation, individual context, etc.

For example, look at one of the most well known verses in the bible, Ephesians 2:8: (KJV)

Quote
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Here are just a few questions that a "simple and unlearned" reader could ask of this particular verse: First of all, what is grace? What type of faith attracts grace? For that matter, what IS faith? What exactly is a gift of God: grace, faith, or both? What does it mean to be "saved"? Is this a one time event, or is this something ongoing? Is this something that I can "lose"? Obviously, such an inquisition, however honest it may be, reveals more questions than answers to the individual. Where is this inquirer to turn? His denominational pastor? Why trust him? After all, this person should be able to interpret scripture themselves, otherwise the'yre just relying on "tradition", hence defeating the basic premise of sola scriptura!

I will say that the more I mature in my understanding about the Orthodox faith, the more wisdom and saving knowledge I gain regarding this particular passage and others like it. In fact, during my intial inquiry phase, I thought this verse to be completely opposed to the Orthodox teaching on salvation! (based on my presuppositions and prior "knowledge" of the scriptures and denominational background). Now I see that my initial conclusion was totally biased and unlearned. This just goes to show that anyone can interpret anything into any verse depending upon the particular circumstances they find themselves in, and the knowledge that has been revealed to them.

Finally, I encourage you to read this article on the deficiencies of the premise of "sola scriptura" which may help to illustrate my point.

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola5.htm





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« Reply #85 on: January 07, 2010, 07:11:43 PM »


Looking at your second question first, I would reply that there are a host of matters in scripture which are plain and which any humble reader, though simple and unlearned, may readily understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are other matters which are less plain, more obscure, and on which very sincere Christians, evidently used, blessed and owned by God, hold differing opinions.


"The plan of salvation is so clearly taught in the Bible, a child could understand it!" My brother would confidently assert to me whenever we used to get into a theological dispute. (He is a born, raised, and practicing Southern Baptist, as I once was). This indeed sounds logical, and it is something that I used to believe myself. (That is, until I decided to re-read the new testament with a keen eye towards the plan of salvation.) Starting in the Gospel of Matthew, I already began to encounter passages that I thought required further explanation.  I found passages that seemed to contradict each other. Eventually, I started to realize something.  The plan of salvation that I thought was so clearly taught in the bible was only taught in specific sections of the new testament, to the exclusion of other verses on the matter which apparently seemed to contradict it! After solemnly refusing to admit that the bible contained contradictions, I began to realize that my church didn't give me the whole picture on salvation.  Sure, the "Romans road" made sense (or at least it jibed with my church doctrine), but there is certainly a lot more the bible has to say about the matter of salvation than this select choice of passages!

The more scripture commentary I read from an Orthodox perspective, the more I realize how much meaning, interpretation, and context is hiding underneath the seemingly "bare" words of scripture! I assert that any confidence that we may have regarding a passage of scripture to be  "self-explanatory" or "straightforward" is directly attributed to, and subject to: what we have been taught to read into the scripture (from church tradition or commentary), our individual knowledge, bible translation, individual context, etc.

For example, look at one of the most well known verses in the bible, Ephesians 2:8: (KJV)

Quote
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Here are just a few questions that a "simple and unlearned" reader could ask of this particular verse: First of all, what is grace? What type of faith attracts grace? For that matter, what IS faith? What exactly is a gift of God: grace, faith, or both? What does it mean to be "saved"? Is this a one time event, or is this something ongoing? Is this something that I can "lose"? Obviously, such an inquisition, however honest it may be, reveals more questions than answers to the individual. Where is this inquirer to turn? His denominational pastor? Why trust him? After all, this person should be able to interpret scripture themselves, otherwise the'yre just relying on "tradition", hence defeating the basic premise of sola scriptura!

I will say that the more I mature in my understanding about the Orthodox faith, the more wisdom and saving knowledge I gain regarding this particular passage and others like it. In fact, during my intial inquiry phase, I thought this verse to be completely opposed to the Orthodox teaching on salvation! (based on my presuppositions and prior "knowledge" of the scriptures and denominational background). Now I see that my initial conclusion was totally biased and unlearned. This just goes to show that anyone can interpret anything into any verse depending upon the particular circumstances they find themselves in, and the knowledge that has been revealed to them.

Finally, I encourage you to read this article on the deficiencies of the premise of "sola scriptura" which may help to illustrate my point.

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola5.htm


Those are some excellent points! Well stated.

Selam

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« Reply #86 on: January 07, 2010, 07:33:46 PM »

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?

You might, but many if not most of your baptist coreligionists have never even heard of them over here in the Americas.  Even though you do, your adherence to them is still arbitrary, since you reject the authority of the bishops in later manners, such as iconoclasm.  Either the bishops have authority from God or they don't, and it doesn't just disappear.

A creed from Nicaea I know, but not one from the "apostles" or "Athanasius."  Even if those creeds are entirely orthodox, the one that matters simply isn't in the west because of the subordination of the Holy Spirit in the Godhead.
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« Reply #87 on: January 07, 2010, 07:37:34 PM »


Looking at your second question first, I would reply that there are a host of matters in scripture which are plain and which any humble reader, though simple and unlearned, may readily understand with the help of the Holy Spirit. There are other matters which are less plain, more obscure, and on which very sincere Christians, evidently used, blessed and owned by God, hold differing opinions.


"The plan of salvation is so clearly taught in the Bible, a child could understand it!" My brother would confidently assert to me whenever we used to get into a theological dispute. (He is a born, raised, and practicing Southern Baptist, as I once was). This indeed sounds logical, and it is something that I used to believe myself. (That is, until I decided to re-read the new testament with a keen eye towards the plan of salvation.) Starting in the Gospel of Matthew, I already began to encounter passages that I thought required further explanation.  I found passages that seemed to contradict each other. Eventually, I started to realize something.  The plan of salvation that I thought was so clearly taught in the bible was only taught in specific sections of the new testament, to the exclusion of other verses on the matter which apparently seemed to contradict it! After solemnly refusing to admit that the bible contained contradictions, I began to realize that my church didn't give me the whole picture on salvation.  Sure, the "Romans road" made sense (or at least it jibed with my church doctrine), but there is certainly a lot more the bible has to say about the matter of salvation than this select choice of passages!

The more scripture commentary I read from an Orthodox perspective, the more I realize how much meaning, interpretation, and context is hiding underneath the seemingly "bare" words of scripture! I assert that any confidence that we may have regarding a passage of scripture to be  "self-explanatory" or "straightforward" is directly attributed to, and subject to: what we have been taught to read into the scripture (from church tradition or commentary), our individual knowledge, bible translation, individual context, etc.

For example, look at one of the most well known verses in the bible, Ephesians 2:8: (KJV)

Quote
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Here are just a few questions that a "simple and unlearned" reader could ask of this particular verse: First of all, what is grace? What type of faith attracts grace? For that matter, what IS faith? What exactly is a gift of God: grace, faith, or both? What does it mean to be "saved"? Is this a one time event, or is this something ongoing? Is this something that I can "lose"? Obviously, such an inquisition, however honest it may be, reveals more questions than answers to the individual. Where is this inquirer to turn? His denominational pastor? Why trust him? After all, this person should be able to interpret scripture themselves, otherwise the'yre just relying on "tradition", hence defeating the basic premise of sola scriptura!

I will say that the more I mature in my understanding about the Orthodox faith, the more wisdom and saving knowledge I gain regarding this particular passage and others like it. In fact, during my intial inquiry phase, I thought this verse to be completely opposed to the Orthodox teaching on salvation! (based on my presuppositions and prior "knowledge" of the scriptures and denominational background). Now I see that my initial conclusion was totally biased and unlearned. This just goes to show that anyone can interpret anything into any verse depending upon the particular circumstances they find themselves in, and the knowledge that has been revealed to them.

Finally, I encourage you to read this article on the deficiencies of the premise of "sola scriptura" which may help to illustrate my point.

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola5.htm






Such well thought out post. Is it too early for most of the month nominations?
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« Reply #88 on: January 07, 2010, 07:38:49 PM »

To say that Augustine's views regarding eternal security even remotely resembles "OSAS" is a gross distortion.
AMEN!!!!
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« Reply #89 on: January 07, 2010, 07:41:59 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?
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« Reply #90 on: January 07, 2010, 09:53:00 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?

If we all adhered to the Nicene Creed, then we would all confess with one accord, "I believe in one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church."
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« Reply #91 on: January 08, 2010, 12:02:38 AM »

I certainly doubt that you will convince him but that's a good one.^^^^^^^^^^^^
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« Reply #92 on: January 08, 2010, 04:02:03 AM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.
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« Reply #93 on: January 08, 2010, 04:07:24 AM »

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?

You might, but many if not most of your baptist coreligionists have never even heard of them over here in the Americas.  Even though you do, your adherence to them is still arbitrary, since you reject the authority of the bishops in later manners, such as iconoclasm.  Either the bishops have authority from God or they don't

You - at least, I seem to recall it is yourgoodself - continue the trend of saying the same things as I say, but with different feelings about them because from a different perspective. For once more, what you say is true.

I agree that many Baptists are at best only dimly aware of the early Creeds, as indeed they are of the 1644 and 1689 Baptist Confessions of Faith. They don't think in creedal terms (if that be the right phrase). My point is not that we/they are aware of and committed to those various documents, but that we adhere to the teachings in them in the matter that was raised, namely discerning false christs.
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« Reply #94 on: January 09, 2010, 10:51:18 PM »

Getting back to the theme of Fathers - I think that you good people are yourselves partly to blame for the regrettable fact that we Evangelicals turn seldom to the early Fathers. I have read pages and pages and pages from Chrysostom on Matthew, and the whole of Athanasius on the Incarnation and his letter to Marcellinus on the Psalms, and the whole of Irenæus on the Apostolic Preaching. There is very little indeed in all I have read with which any standard Evangelical would disagree. However, I also have your "Daily Readings from the Writings of St. John Chrysostom" (Coniaris, Light & Life Publishing), and I soon wearied of it, for it keeps on and on (and on ...) selecting passages about your view of the sacraments. It is a pity that Coniaris opted to select so many passages stating views from which Evangelical Christians are known to differ. Such publications are unlikely to attract us to the Fathers for our devotional reading - and (I suspect) actually give a warped picture anyway of patristic output. R C Hill (Holy Cross Orthodox Press) did much better in his selection of "Spiritual Gems" from Chrysostom on Matthew, which is what prompted me to read more than only his brief extracts.

If I wanted you to read John Wesley, I would not point you first to his sermon entitled Justification by Faith.

[Somehow this post has been posted twice. No idea how!]

The problem with this is two-fold:
1. I doubt seriously that Fr. Coniaris, when compiling the writings of St. John Chrysostom for a daily reading rule such as this book, had as his intent to turn Evangelicals on to the Fathers.  There are plenty of publishing houses out there, plenty of Christian publishing houses at that, and plenty of translations/printings of Chrysostom's writings.  Fr. Coniaris geared this specifically toward the Orthodox, and chose readings that he thought were important for Orthodox to read daily.  Were he compiling a book geared toward Evangelicals, I imagine it would be quite different.

2. This is, again, the buffet problem of how Evangelicals read the fathers.  It has been said many times before (even in the posts just above mine), but I too will add my voice to the crowd here--- Protestants only read/take from the fathers what AGREES WITH THEIR PRE-CONCEIVED notions and beliefs.  Everything else is rejected.  This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?
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« Reply #95 on: January 09, 2010, 10:52:36 PM »

Finally, I encourage you to read this article on the deficiencies of the premise of "sola scriptura" which may help to illustrate my point.

http://www.chnetwork.org/journals/sola/sola5.htm

Okay, I LOVED this article!!!!  I've already passed it on!
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« Reply #96 on: January 09, 2010, 11:01:26 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.

That's exactly why Papist is pointing this out... because while you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT adhere to the intended meaning of the words in the Creed, nor do you adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed! 

Again, I say it's academically and theologically dishonest.  But, if nothing else, it's at least like saying Einstein's theory of relativity is brilliant and altogether true, but he himself knew nothing of science.
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« Reply #97 on: January 09, 2010, 11:20:32 PM »

How do you determine which 'christs' are false and which is the true one?  

Don't we all adhere to the Apostles', Nicene and Athanasian Creeds on this?
Do you? So you believe in "one baptism for the forgiveness of sins"?

We were discussing how to discern "which 'christs' are false'". We have discussed at length, on another thread, the use of 'eis' (for) in the Nicene Creed. It may be on the private forum - I forget, but it should be easy enough to find.

That's exactly why Papist is pointing this out... because while you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT adhere to the intended meaning of the words in the Creed, nor do you adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed!  

Again, I say it's academically and theologically dishonest.  But, if nothing else, it's at least like saying Einstein's theory of relativity is brilliant and altogether true, but he himself knew nothing of science.

I would also contest that it is not possible for us to say that we agree regarding the "Christological points" of the creed, yet disagree regarding the nature of baptism and of the Church. The reason for this is simply because the latter points are also Christological. The Church is the body of Christ, and baptism is the means of entrance into that very body.

Quote
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
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« Reply #98 on: January 10, 2010, 06:24:42 AM »

This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?

I take your point about Father Coniaris's choice of selections from Chrysostom. Thank you for explaining that.

The answer to your question which I quote above is this - though I can write only for myself, whereas others might wish to write differently: it would indeed (as you say) be dishonest to try to establish our teachings with reference to the Fathers as authoritative, whilst knowingly rejecting some of their major themes and beliefs. But that is not what we do. We do not read them as theological authorities; rather, we read them for spiritual nourishment, as we might read any other non-canonical Christian writer.

Think of my many references to John Wesley: he believed in the perpetual virginity of Mary, in infant baptism, in an episcopalian church order, in wearing clerical robes, in instantaneous entire sanctification - but that doesn't mean I cease reading him as a man who was full of Christ. Doubtless the same applies to his brother Charles, whom I also read eagerly. My office wall has pictures (not icons, of course) of Sangster, Zinzendorf and C S Lewis, all Christians of the past whose lives have blessed me lastingly, through whom I have received blessing from the Lord whom they loved and served - but the first was Methodist, the second Moravian, the third Anglican. I do not read or quote them as theological authorities, but I find the Spirit of God breathing through their lives and writings.

In the same manner we turn to the Fathers, as I wrote before, from Clement of Rome onwards. But there is no dishonesty in our doing so, rather a search by needy souls for spiritual nourishment. If you wish to dub this buffet reading, then so be it: I will not quibble over the word by which it is described. But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer.
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« Reply #99 on: January 10, 2010, 06:33:57 AM »

you say you adhere to the Nicene Creed, you do NOT ... adhere to the teachings which followed the Creed by the same fathers who wrote the Creed! 

Alas, you have misunderstood me, and even quoted me out of context. You err in two ways:

1) I did not say I (or we) adhere to the Nicene Creed (though in fact we do, if we can agree on the possible variations in the word 'eis'). What I said was that we adhere to the christology which is found also in the Nicene Creed: not because that Creed has authority, but because its christology is (we believe) a true interpretation of scripture.

2) The discussion - the context of what I wrote - was not wider than the matter of discerning false christs: it did not extend to the function of baptism.

I believe that a good many Evangelicals would concede a kind of secondary authority, or respect, or weight, to the Creeds, though not equal to that of scripture - but that would take us way outside this thread (if that is not a mixed metaphor), and would need to be explored separately, I think.
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« Reply #100 on: January 10, 2010, 03:00:17 PM »



1) I did not say I (or we) adhere to the Nicene Creed (though in fact we do, if we can agree on the possible variations in the word 'eis'). What I said was that we adhere to the christology which is found also in the Nicene Creed: not because that Creed has authority, but because its christology is (we believe) a true interpretation of scripture.



Again, if we are in agreement with the creed except for the interpretation of the word "eis", then what do you interpret "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?" to be?
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« Reply #101 on: January 10, 2010, 06:34:46 PM »

what do you interpret "One Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church?" to be?

Founded by the Apostles of our Lord, and loyal to their doctrine. We may differ, but we do all sincerely aim for that goal. Neither you nor we knowingly and deliberately veer away from that.

In re "one", there is of course only one Body of Christ (as some witty Orthodox posted a while ago, our Lord has a Bride, not a harem), and we believe that Bride, which will be perfected when He comes, consists of all the redeemed, sadly divided now here on earth. (See the thread on Christian unity.)
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« Reply #102 on: January 10, 2010, 07:20:12 PM »

As with scripture, It is simply not enough to say that one adheres to the word of the creed (or parts thereof); one must also adhere to the spirit of such, which is embodied within the bosom of the Church and her Tradition. The fathers had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed; to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context.
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« Reply #103 on: January 15, 2010, 02:11:41 PM »


2. This is, again, the buffet problem of how Evangelicals read the fathers.  It has been said many times before (even in the posts just above mine), but I too will add my voice to the crowd here--- Protestants only read/take from the fathers what AGREES WITH THEIR PRE-CONCEIVED notions and beliefs.  Everything else is rejected.  This would, by all means, be considered academically dishonest.  Why is it not considered theologically dishonest?


I don't think you can say this categorically.

First - at least SOME Protestants read things from the Fathers and come to accept what they read that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas, otherwise we would not have some of the conversion testimonies to Orthodoxy that appear on these very boards.

Secondly, SOME Protestants do in fact challenge themselves with things from the Fathers that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas and come to accept some of them, thus broadening their ideas and moving closer to the Orthodox position without yet (or perhaps ever) actually converting. Just because one does not convert does not mean growth has not occurred or that the individual has not benefitted from reading the Fathers.


Third - SOME Protestants do in fact challenge themselves with things from the Fathers that are outside of their pre-conceived ideas, but decide perhaps to "agree to disagree" with the Fathers, as Protestants are accustomed to doing with one another when they disagree with other protestants.

Fourth - SOME Protestants will read from the Fathers and selectively choose only what is in harmony with their pre-conceived ideas but at least they have had some exposure to the Fathers and perhaps will return there when they are more open to the whole of the Fathers' teaching or when need/necessity presses upon them and they turn to the Fathers for help because at least they have already gone there before (albeit imperfectly from our perspective).

To expect Protestants to read the Fathers as Orthodox do is kind of silly. They would have had to convert before they converted to read the Fathers as we do, which is a logical impossibility.

Furthermore, the outlandish things said about ALL Protestants on OC.net continues to astonish me. I can only chalk it up to several things:

One - Some Orthodox converts from Prostestantism generalize their own INDIVIDUAL experience, and attribute that to ALL Protestants. They are perhaps even unaware that they imperfectly understood and imbibed their own Protestant communion's teachings (probably not, but I have seen very little humility along the lines of, "when I was a Protestant, I believed such and such. I THINK it was the universally held view in my experience of my particular brand of Protestantism, but it could have been just my own personal heresy....").

Two - Some Orthodox converts are so full of bile and resentment that they cannot say anything civil about Protestants.

Three - Some Cradle Orthodox are woefully ignorant of Protestantism and are too lazy to gain any knowledge of their Christian neighbors and fellow citizens that is not easily available with little or no effort from religious television or the secular media. I would say ditto for many converts who are woefully ignorant of the huge differences among Protestants in , for example Confessional Churches of the Reformation (Episcopal/Anglican; Lutheran; Presbyterian/Reformed) and those in American Fundamentalist/Baptist independent churches and those in pentecostal/charasmatic churches. Instead they lazily interpret all Protestants as being what they once WERE.

Four - Some Orthodox find it easier to paint with a VERY large brush. Distinctions, exceptions and subtlety need not be applied to such statements. Also it would take a little effort to paint with more refined strokes.

Fifth - Some Orthodox on OC.net just like to provoke debate. The more outrageous the statement the better diatribe it reads as.







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« Reply #104 on: January 15, 2010, 03:24:38 PM »




I would also contest that it is not possible for us to say that we agree regarding the "Christological points" of the creed, yet disagree regarding the nature of baptism and of the Church. The reason for this is simply because the latter points are also Christological. The Church is the body of Christ, and baptism is the means of entrance into that very body.

Quote
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.


This is actually a very excellent point by an Orthodox to a Protestant because Protestants do not generally view these points as Christological points. Rather, having been influenced by systematic theologies that treat Christology as a single subject, the theology of sacraments as another discreet subject and the theology of the Church as still another subject, and maybe ecclesiology as still another subject, and analyzing them all somewhat atomically and apart from one another (yet within the unifying theme of God's sovereignty, for example), it may not occur to see all of those subjects as properly Christological. Which is one reason Orthodox and Protestants often talk past each other on some of these subjects.

Therefore, to point this out at the start, makes real communication possible.

A Protestant could then ask, how is baptism Christological? (for them it may be no more than a symbolic moving from death to resurrection based on their personal decision to receive Christ; or it may be the covenant sign of entry into God's covenant kingdom in the new covenant, with more Old Testament similarities than Christological ones; or the putting to death of the old nature and a rising of the new nature in Christ in the heart of a believer). But veiwing it in distinctly Christological terms doesn't come readily to mind for them. Showing them how baptism is Christological may open gateways for them to begin to see that aspect in their symbolic, covenantal or new nature view; that in baptism we are united to Christ who bore our humanity and united it to God, thereby uniting us to God in baptism  -- then baptism literally is a move from death to life; and more than just a covenantal sign - it is the conferring of the life promised in the new covenant upon us; and quite literally, the new nature is the new humanity we receive in Christ that makes us partakers of the divine nature; the image of God is restored in us so that we may become His likeness - all made possible by the very real Incarnation of Christ Himself!

Again, how is the Church Christological? (for them the Church might be a merely voluntary association, like membership in a club; or an outward manifestation of being a member of the spiritual body of Christ; or seen as the covenant community of God on earth through which God works in terms of special grace; or the faithful remnant amidst the apostate denominations). Whatever view/views they hold, learning the Christological ramifications of the Church created at Pentecost as the real body of Christ on earth (much like the real presence in the Eucharist); the Church of Christ being a real entity as it exists in the Orthdox Church (like Christ having a real human body) and not some spiritualize "pure" church existing only in the hearts of disparate believers (a Docetistic view of the Church similar to the Docetist heresy in Christology); understanding the Church as the vehicle of salvation that bears Christ and offers Him to the world in the sacraments and prayer (which opens a door for them to begin to perhaps understand our veneration of the Mother of God who, as the type of the Church, bore Christ in her flesh and offered Him to the world and who prays for us); understanding the Church as the fellowship of all who have believed in Christ from Adam and Eve to the present and who are all part of the one body of Christ throughout all of time and who are all worshipping together and at once in the Divine Liturgy because of the Incarnation, Death, Burial, Resurrection and Ascension of Christ (which again, could open some doors to them for understanding our veneration of the saints) - all of these things could be touchpoints for greater communication and understanding, allowing them to see and understanding that all that we do and believe as Orthodox Christians is radically Christological.

« Last Edit: January 15, 2010, 03:33:39 PM by BrotherAidan » Logged
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« Reply #105 on: January 15, 2010, 04:07:28 PM »

[ We do not read them as theological authorities; rather, we read them for spiritual nourishment, as we might read any other non-canonical Christian writer.
In the same manner we turn to the Fathers, as I wrote before, from Clement of Rome onwards. But there is no dishonesty in our doing so, rather a search by needy souls for spiritual nourishment. If you wish to dub this buffet reading, then so be it: I will not quibble over the word by which it is described. But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer.


This quote by Ortho_cat
As with scripture, It is simply not enough to say that one adheres to the word of the creed (or parts thereof); one must also adhere to the spirit of such, which is embodied within the bosom of the Church and her Tradition. The fathers had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed; to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context.




These two replies by David Young and Ortho_cat get at the heart of the problem.

Protestants read from Holy Tradition in a way that is very different from Orthodox. It pains us to see the Fathers grouped with "any other non-canonical Christian writer." But, if we are honest, we once read them in the same way (if we are converts) before we converted. Maybe some of us gave them a bit more weight in view of their antiquity or proximity to the time of the Apostes, but we did not embrace the Orthodox understanding of Holy Tradition and the Fathers' place in that Tradition.

Likewise, because of the Protestant mindset of interacting with the various writers throughout Church history and embracing from them what is in keeping with one's own traditions (little "t"), while perhaps being challenged, but not moved out of one's own communion by what one has read therein; and so, thereby "agreeing to disagree" with these writers on some points, David Young is perfectly correct to state:
"But even when I attend a buffet, there is no dishonesty in my choosing of some foods and not others, when all are on offer."

We may disagree with his methodology but he has been perfectly honest about it with us!

On the other hand, Ortho_cat correctly points out that there is a whole supporting phenomenon of Holy Tradition and the historical Church of Antiquity (which we identify as the Orthodox Church) which must be considered if we want to rightly interpret and understand the Fathers (or Scripture itself). At the minimum for Protestants, we can press upon them that, to be good exegetes of the Fathers they must make an attempt to understand that the Fathers "had in mind a specific view and understanding of the Church and the mystery of baptism as expressed in the creed" that they (Protestants) themselves should at least try to come to understand. Then hermeneutically, if they differ from the Fathers in their application, then at least they do so with the understanding "that to interpret it outside of the Church in which it was formulated is to remove it from it's intended purpose and context."

Protestants do this all the time in their exegesis and interpretation of the Old Testament. At least at the level of professional theologians, teachers and ministers, it shouldn't be asking too much to approach the Fathers in the same manner.

But again, to excoriate all Protestants, especially lay people, who may pick up a book by one of the Fathers for devotional purposes and expect them to know/understand all of this is not fair (because. as I pointed out in a prior post, they would have to have converted before they were converted in order to do so). So, let them benefit and be edified (even if it is ala cart for now) and pray that, because of this devotional reading, they see the True Light of Orthodoxy one day!



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« Reply #106 on: January 16, 2010, 07:03:27 AM »

Brother Aidan's posts are very helpful. Thank you!
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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« Reply #107 on: October 03, 2010, 05:17:38 AM »

It may be of interest that our Albanian translations of Athanasius "On the Incarnation of the Word of God" and his Letter to Marcellinus (on the use of the Psalms), and also our long extracts from the homilies of John Chrysostom on the Gospel of Matthew, are currently with the printer in Tirana.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2010, 05:18:06 AM by David Young » Logged

"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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