Hi! Allow me to introduce myself.
I grew up in the denomination called the churches of Christ, but have been researching Orthodoxy these past couple of years, and have become convinced of the Truth of it. However, I'm still attending a COC because every time I try to "make the break" so to speak, I end up wimping out.
Hi, Mozart. (love your nym)
I came out of the cofC and was a full-blown mutt in the denominational world (born RCC, became "nondenominational Christian", baptized into the cofC [hardline], and then studied my way into the EOC [also spoke with a priest in the Greek Church, who eventually agreed that I would do best in the Self-ruled Antiochian Orthodox Church of North America, seeing as they speak English
The turning point for me came after a simple question.. 'Are the Orthodox considered brethren since they also immersion baptize for the remission of sin?' That was the question that caused me to seriously inquire about the EOC. The first thing I saw was a much deeper understanding of scripture, and not ignoring the "tough" passages. Scripture speaks of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist (thanksgiving) - "This is my body.. This is my blood of the new covenant..". Scripture speaks of all generations calling Mary blessed (Lk 1:48). Scripture speaks of incense being offered everywhere in His name (Mal 1:11). Scripture speaks of elders/presbyters (prests > priests) anointing the sick with oil (Jas 5:14). Scripture speaks of our partaking of the divine nature - theosis
(2 Pet 1:4). Scripture speaks of bishops (Acts 1:20; Php 1:1; 1 Tim 3:1,2; 2 Tim 4:22; Tit 1:7; 3:15; 1 Pet 2:25), elders/presbyters (Acts 4:5,8,23; 6:12; 11:30; 14:23; 15:2,4,6,22,23; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18; 22:5; 23:14; 24:1; 25:15; Rom 9:12; 1 Tim 4:14; 5:1,2,17,19; Tit 1:5; Heb 11:2; Jas 5:14; 1 Pet 5:1,5; 2 Jn 1:1; 3 Jn 1:1), and deacons (Php 1:1; 1 Tim 3:8,10,12,13). Scripture speaks of following the tradition of the Apostles, and to imitate
them (1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you that ye remember me in all things, and hold fast the traditions, even as I delivered them to you
2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye were taught, whether by word
, or by epistle of ours.
2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you
, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us
2 Thessalonians 3:7 For yourselves know how ye ought to imitate us
: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;
2 Thessalonians 3:9 not because we have not the right, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you, that ye should imitate us
Hebrews 13:7 Remember them that had the rule over you
, which spake unto you the word of God; and considering the issue of their life, imitate their faith
Matthew 18:17-18 And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church: and if he refuse to hear the church also
, let him be unto thee as the Gentile and the publican
. 18 Verily I say unto you, What things soever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and what things soever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 13-14 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and questioning with them, the brethren appointed that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders
about this question. ... 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church
and the apostles and the elders, and they rehearsed all things that God had done with them. ... 6 And the apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider of this matter
. ... 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Symeon hath rehearsed how first God did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets
; [correct interpretation of scripture by the Holy Spirit-led church]
as it is written, 16 After these things I will return, And I will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen; And I will build again the ruins thereof, And I will set it up: 17 That the residue of men may seek after the Lord, And all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, 18 Saith the Lord, who maketh these things known from the beginning of the world. 19 Wherefore my judgment is
, [note that there had to be agreement with his judgement in the whole church - v22]
that we trouble not them which from among the Gentiles turn to God; 20 but that we write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses from generations of old hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath. 22 Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church
, to choose men out of their company, and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
1 Timothy 3:15 but if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God
, which is the church of the living God
, the pillar and ground of the truth
Nowhere does scripture call "individual interpretation of scripture alone" the "pillar and ground of the truth", the "sole rule of faith", or anything even close to that. The Bereans searched the scriptures daily to see if these things were so, meaning that nothing could contradict scripture, which it doesn't.
What about 2 Tim 3? Let's take a look..
2 Timothy 3:10-11 But thou didst follow my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, patience, 11 persecutions, sufferings
; what things befell me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: and out of them all the Lord delivered me.
2 Timothy 3:14-17 But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them
; 15 and that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings [the OT] which are able to make thee wise unto salvation
through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.
Once again, we see a repeat of 2 Thess 2:15.. "whether by word
, or by epistle of ours", and to that added the sacred scriptures of the Old Testament. The OT and Apostolic tradition (the Holy Tradition of the church, which includes all scripture, canonized or not, and the correct interpretation
of that scripture - see Acts 8:30, 31 - for the correct understanding) need to be followed. Scripture alone is also profitable
for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: 17 that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work.)
The passages that speak of theosis (our transformation into Christ / His image) are completely ignored by the entirety of Western Christendom..
2 Peter 1:3-4 As His divine power has granted to us all things pertaining to
life and godliness
, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4 through which have been given to us precious and exceedingly great promises
, so that through these we may become partakers of the divine nature
, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Do you believe Jesus partakes in the divine nature? Well...
Heb 3:14 for we are become partakers of Christ
, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end:
1Co 2:13,16 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. ... 16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ
1Th 2:13 And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that, when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh
) in you
1Pe 4:11 if any man speaketh, speaking as it were oracles of God; if any man ministereth, ministering as of the strength which God supplieth
: that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, whose is the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Col 1:15,28 who is the image of the invisible God
, the firstborn of all creation; ... 28 whom we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ
Col 2:9-10 for in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily
, 10 and in him ye are made full
, who is the head of all principality and power:
Col 3:3-4 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall be manifested, then shall ye also with him be manifested in glory
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me
: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
Gal 4:19 My little children, of whom I am again in travail until Christ be formed in you
Psa 82:6 I said, Ye are gods
, And all of you sons of the Most High
Joh 10:34-36 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken
), 36 say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?
Exo 4:16 And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people; and it shall come to pass, that he shall be to thee a mouth, and thou shalt be to him as God
Exo 7:1 And Jehovah said unto Moses, See, I have made thee as God to Pharaoh
; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.
Psa 138:1 A Psalm of David. I will give thee thanks with my whole heart: Before the gods
will I sing praises unto thee.
1Jn 4:16 And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him
Act 17:28-29 for in him we live, and move, and have our being
; as certain even of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring
. 29 Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man.
Eph 3:19 and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God
Eph 4:13 till we all attain unto
the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a fullgrown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ
Eph 4:15 but speaking truth in love, we may grow up in all things into him
, who is the head, even Christ;
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God
Rom 8:29 For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained to be conformed to the image of his Son
, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren: (see Gen 1, 5, and 9, below)
Rom 12:2 And be not fashioned according to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind
, and ye may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
1Co 3:16 Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you
1Co 6:17 But he that is joined unto the Lord
is one spirit.
Col 3:3 For ye died, and your life is hid with Christ in God
1Th 5:23 And the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly
(complete conformity to the image and likeness of God
); and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved entire, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Gen 1:26-27 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness
: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Now note the same language...
Gen 5:3 And Adam lived a hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image
; and called his name Seth:
Gen 9:6 Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man
1Co 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly
Col 3:10 and have put on the new man, that is being renewed unto knowledge after the image of him that created him
1Jn 4:17 Herein is love made perfect with us, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as he is, even so are we in this world
Then there' the passages about the Divine Liturgy, and Christ as our High Priest and liturgist..
First, we have to understand the liturgy of the OT (Ex 20:24-26; 23:10-19; 25:1-40; and 26:1 - 30:38 is a good start).
Having read those, read these in the order provided: Hebrews 8:4-5, Isa 6:1-8, Rev 4:1-11 (esp. v8-11), then Heb 7:14-22; 8:1-2 (esp. v2!), 6-7.. see how He's the mediator of a better covenant, our high priest ..a minister of the sanctuary, of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man? Remember what the high priest does? That's similar to what Jesus does from heaven, in the true tabernacle, as our high priest. Moving along...
1 Cor 11:25; Heb 7:23-28 - His blood is the only perfect sacrifice for sin.
Rom 15:16 that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
What is being offered up?
1 Cor 11:23-26 For I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which he was betrayed took bread; 24 and when he had given thanks [Gr. eucharistesas], he brake it, and said, This is my body, which is for you: this do in remembrance of me. 25 In like manner also the cup, after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood: this do, as often as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord's death till he come.
In the liturgy, Jesus is both He who offers, and He who is offered.
Luk 22:15-20 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16 for I say unto you, I shall not eat it, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he received a cup, and when he had given thanks, he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18 for I say unto you, I shall not drink from henceforth of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave to them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20 And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you.
What are we doing? We're believing and obeying Jesus. Note that the EO in no way tries to define the real presence of Christ, nor tries to formulate a point-in-time change (which would lead to the RCC doctrine of 'transubstantiation', or Luther's 'consubstantiation').
Joh 6:51 I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: yea and the bread which I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.
1Co 11:29-30 For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body. 30 For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep.
NOTE: 'symbols' don't cause sickness or death
The Eucharist has always been that supreme act of thanksgiving and praise to God in His Church.
Act 2:42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers.
But the Divine Liturgy goes even deeper by bringing to remembrance and proclaiming many other aspects of Jesus' teaching. For example, the whole of the beatitudes are sung in every liturgy, "Lord have mercy" is the answer to almost every, "Let us pray to the Lord.."
Luk 18:13-14 But the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote his breast, saying, God, be thou merciful to me a sinner. 14 I say unto you, This man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Essentially, we mirror the worship going on in heaven, proclaim His death in remembrance, plea for the mercy of God, hear and reflect on His word, sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, etc.. and not only recognize Jesus throughout as our high priest, but in a sense the liturgy draws us up to the heavenlies so that we're celebrating this with Jesus (by the power of the Holy Spirit - in Western speak) - a communion with God.
Liturgy in the New Testament Scriptural references:
1.Acts 2:42 - continued in THE
prayers (in the GreeK), were day by day IN THE TEMPLE…
2.Acts 5:42, The apostles were continually in the Temple praying and teaching, 6:4 they appoint deacons so they can devote themselves to THE prayers (Greek) and ministry of the word
3.Acts 10:2-3 Cornelius prayed continually, 9th hour., 10:9 Peter at the 6th hour went to the roof to pray. These were "liturgical hours of prayer".
4.Acts 13:2 While they were "ministering" to the Lord, literally in liturgy, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. The Spirit works in liturgy
5.Acts 15:22, 18:8, 17: "leaders" of synagogue, ie., liturgical worship leaders.
6.Acts 18:7 "Worshipper of God" house next to the synagogue.
7.Acts 16:25 midnight praying and singing hymns of praise to God.
8.Acts 20:6, 16 After the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost is mentioned. Paul says in I Cor. 16:8 that he will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. The early Church kept a liturgical "church calendar".
9.Hebrews 8:2 High Priest Jesus a "minister" (lit. "liturgist") in the heavenly sanctuary.
Incense/censers - Rev. 5:8 The 24 elders with bowls of incense which are the prayers of the saints. 8:3 Angel with incense before the altar before the throne. The offering of incense was actually commanded by Divine mandate in the OT. It was not an option at that time It was when St. Zacharias was offering incense that the angel appeared to him, and brought him the tidings that he was going to be a father (Luke 1:9-13). St. Athanasius, citing Hosius, mentions the burning of incense as a prerogative of the Church, and not the Emperor (History of the Arians, Part 6:44, NPNF II 4:286). Egeria's Diary makes mention of the prolific use of incense during worship in 4th century Palestine (Diary of a Pilgrimage, Chapter 24, ACW 38:92). . The apostate act of offering a grain of incense to a statue of the emperor was considered worship by the early Church and the pagans. Evening Prayer (Vespers) Psalm: "Lord I have cried unto Thee--hearken unto me; hearken unto me, O Lord! Lord, I have cried unto Thee, hearken unto me; attend to the voice of my supplication when I cry unto Thee: Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up my hands as an evening sacrifice; hearken unto me, O Lord." (Psalm 140:1-2) And Scripture prophesied that the Gentiles everywhere would offer incense to God. "For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the Gentiles. And in every place incense shall be offered unto My Name, and a pure offering; for My Name shall be great among the heathen,' saith the Lord of hosts." (Malachias 1:11)
Other Liturgical References: Candle stands, candles (1:12, 4:5), Vestments and Robes which were mandated by God for His OT priests (1:13,15:6, 4:4, 6:11, 7:9-13) Prostrations (5:8, 7:11), Golden bowls (5:8, 8:3), Scrolls (5:2, Thrones (where leader sits 11:16, 5:1)), temple (15:5).
Thus the point of all of this is that modern Bible translators have "messed with the Bible" in order to eliminate liturgy from the life of the first Christians. Liturgy and "Spirit filled worship" were not set against each other by the first Christians. The real question for we as modern Christians is not "When did the Church START doing rituals and repetition etc.", but "When did it STOP worshipping like that?" The question then is, how do we in the 21st Century recover the Apostolic and Biblical model of worship? We submit to our listeners that it is not necessary to reinvent the wheel of worship. The Orthodox Church has an unbroken continuity of worship practice and understandings that are rooted in the First Century Church’s practice and Apostolic direction.
May God continue to bless and keep you in your journey.