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Author Topic: Reformed and Evangelicals Understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy  (Read 5182 times) Average Rating: 0
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DennyB
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« on: August 20, 2011, 04:43:45 PM »

I wanted to post this video of some very popular Reformed and Evangelical figures,explaining their understanding of Eastern Orthodoxy,from what I can gather there is still much that needs to be understood by them, and others in the Protestant world,the Q&A's concerning EO's come very close to the end of the video.

http://www.ligonier.org/learn/conferences/orlando_2004_national_conference/questions-and-answers-2-3919/

This just shows that EO's are more and more on the radar of Evangelicals,probably because of the migration of former Protestant's into Orthodox Churches
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2011, 05:13:33 PM »

I have found that some Evangelicals, such as Wesleyans (who believe in free will like the Orthodox), will have charitable things to say about Eastern Orthodoxy, if they know that we exist and if they have read any of our literature.  I have met many Lutherans who are fans of Father Alexander Schmemann, and who also can have something charitable to say about the Orthodox Church. However, I have never met any Christians of the Reformed or Calvinist confession who have anything good to say about Orthodoxy at all.  Not one word.  The only things I've ever heard the Reformed say about Orthodoxy are that we are "idolaters" and "Mary-worshippers".  Perhaps there might be some kinder, gentler Reformed people out there that we could actually dialogue with, but I have never met such. 
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2011, 05:15:16 PM »

I think it's hilarious that one of them though there there was no "theology" in the liturgy that he attended in Russia. I can only attribute it to his lack of Russian language skills.

They're sincere men, but they have a lot to learn. Unfortunately, they think the appeal to EO is strictly aesthetic.
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2011, 05:47:30 PM »

I think it's hilarious that one of them though there there was no "theology" in the liturgy that he attended in Russia. I can only attribute it to his lack of Russian language skills.

They're sincere men, but they have a lot to learn. Unfortunately, they think the appeal to EO is strictly aesthetic.

I heard someone comment on Mr. MacArthur's experience,saying that since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,whether it be Vespers,or another service I'm not sure.  I thought the comment about the absense of a "tract table" was pretty hilarious.
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2011, 05:55:16 PM »

I have found that some Evangelicals, such as Wesleyans (who believe in free will like the Orthodox), will have charitable things to say about Eastern Orthodoxy, if they know that we exist and if they have read any of our literature.  I have met many Lutherans who are fans of Father Alexander Schmemann, and who also can have something charitable to say about the Orthodox Church. However, I have never met any Christians of the Reformed or Calvinist confession who have anything good to say about Orthodoxy at all.  Not one word.  The only things I've ever heard the Reformed say about Orthodoxy are that we are "idolaters" and "Mary-worshippers".  Perhaps there might be some kinder, gentler Reformed people out there that we could actually dialogue with, but I have never met such. 

If I'm not mistaken I think there is gentleman by the name of Michael S. Horton,who is Reformed,and He has Read Father Schmemann fairly thoroughly. Another gentleman by the name of Dr.Bradley Nasiff,who is Orthodox, has also actively dialogued with those of the Reformed persuasion.
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2011, 06:27:28 PM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

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« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2011, 07:41:14 PM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

Not just in the Church, but in the liturgy. He complained about not having a sermon and having nothing but chant, but there is more of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and scripture references found in those prayers and hymns than probably in any protestant sermon.
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« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2011, 10:57:31 PM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

Not just in the Church, but in the liturgy. He complained about not having a sermon and having nothing but chant, but there is more of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and scripture references found in those prayers and hymns than probably in any protestant sermon.

+1

"Eastern Orthodoxy is not too much concerned with doctrine" -- what the??
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2011, 12:07:39 AM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

Not just in the Church, but in the liturgy. He complained about not having a sermon and having nothing but chant, but there is more of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and scripture references found in those prayers and hymns than probably in any protestant sermon.

+1

"Eastern Orthodoxy is not too much concerned with doctrine" -- what the??

I stopped after R.C. said that.  Ridiculous statement.  Outright ridiculous.
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« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2011, 12:26:33 PM »

I have a few remarks for the fellow who said we have no theology at all but merely lots of candle lighting and chanting:

1. Did it ever occur to you that the liturgical language of the Russian Orthodox Church you visited in Moscow was Church Slavonic?

2. Just because you do not comprehend Church Slavonic does not mean that no one else does.

3. Let's turn the situation around.  Let's suppose a Russian Orthodox person walked into a Calvinist Assembly in China during a service. He stands there for an hour, drinking the Chinese service in.  (Of course, he understands no Chinese at all.)  Then he is interviewed on Russian television when he returns to Russia. The interviewer turns to him and asks him, "So, Vlad, we hear that you attending Calvinist services when you were in China. Please tell us, what were they like? Vlad responds, "Well, Dmitri, they were really quite boring. All that goes on is some man stands at a podium and lectures people for an hour. Its really quite dead. No beauty, no sacraments, no liturgy, just very much like a college lecture hall."  Now, would that be a fair treatment of Calvinism?

4.  All the "chanting" that you refer to that went on for an hour. Hmm.  Since you don't understand Slavonic and don't understand what went on, you are hardly in a position to criticize it.  All that "chanting" you heard was intoning the petitions of the litanies, I'll bet. That "chanting" was the people of God at prayer, worshipping and adoring the Triune God.  There was actually quite a lot of theology expressed there, both in the litanies and in the hymns sung by the choir.  Byzantine hymnody is profoundly theological, as anyone who has ever prayed an Akathist Hymn can tell you.  They are theological, poetic, and beautiful all at the same time.  Such criticism of Orthodoxy bespeaks of your ignorance, sir, and not of any shortcomings of the Orthodox faith.

5. No sermon: Well, all I can say is that this probably was not a Divine Liturgy he attended and it probably was not Sunday morning.  Because if he had attended a Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, there would indeed have been a sermon.  My guess is that he probably was attended a Saturday night Vigil Service which would consist of Vespers followed by Matins, probably followed by Confessions.  There would be no sermon at such a service.  Also, if he happened to be attending a daily Liturgy (which I highly doubt because that would be very early in the morning and tourists to Russia usually don't get up early for such things) there would have been no sermon.  Of course, the Reformed cannot seem to understand that God is worthy of being worshipped for who He is, even if no sermon takes place,.  Orthodox are most willing to get together and give God praise, worship, and adoration and then present their petitions to Him. We don't have to have a sermon in order to do that. But for some reason the Reformed are absolutely scandalized if every ecclesial gathering is not turned into some preaching service.  I'll never understand that.
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2011, 12:48:16 PM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.
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« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2011, 12:51:00 PM »

Well, David, I am stumped.  Perhaps someone else can help me out here.  I've never seen an Orthodox Church that didn't have a sermon on Sunday morning.  Of course, there is certainly more to the Orthodox Church than my little experience of it.
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« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2011, 01:36:00 PM »

That's interesting. There have been a few times in my parish that the priest skipped the sermon. He didn't say what his reasons were. Most weeks, however, he does give one.
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« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2011, 01:36:55 PM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.

I'm not supporting or defending the absence of a sermon, in fact I think the sermon is an incredibly useful tool for instruction in the faith and there should be one every sunday and feast day. That being said, in your experience (I don't know what language you heard or how well you understood it), was there anything lacking in the basic message of the Gospel in just the hymns and prayers of the liturgy as far as proclaiming salvation in the crucified and risen Christ?
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« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2011, 02:16:53 PM »

That's interesting. There have been a few times in my parish that the priest skipped the sermon. He didn't say what his reasons were. Most weeks, however, he does give one.

I had a Russian (ROCOR) priest once tell me that he does not, as a rule, have a sermon unless the Holy Spirit moves him to do so.  After a full cycle of services on a Sunday, with all of the hymns and readings, is there really anything else to say?  I have to say that one thing that totally tuned me off to some jurisdictions of Orthodoxy was the abbreviation of the prayers after the Gospel only to be substituted by a sermon.  To me, this totally disrupted the flow of the Liturgy.  The same parishes also eliminate most of the verses from the canons during Matins, and do not include any verses during the Beatitudes.  I find eliminating the hymns specified by the Typikon to be more worrisome than the lack of a sermon.
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« Reply #15 on: August 22, 2011, 12:12:45 AM »

I just watched all of that Calvinist nonsense in the video only to get to the part where they said there's no theology in the Orthodox Church? What the mess?

At least the first guy had something kind of intelligent to say where he marks the difference between sacerdotal and calvinist soteriology. I'm also glad he at least knew about Timothy Ware's book, "The Orthodox Church."
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« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2011, 02:04:22 AM »

I just watched all of that Calvinist nonsense in the video only to get to the part where they said there's no theology in the Orthodox Church? What the mess?

At least the first guy had something kind of intelligent to say where he marks the difference between sacerdotal and calvinist soteriology. I'm also glad he at least knew about Timothy Ware's book, "The Orthodox Church."

And now that would be Metropolitan Kallistos Ware...
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« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2011, 10:20:48 AM »

I just watched all of that Calvinist nonsense in the video only to get to the part where they said there's no theology in the Orthodox Church? What the mess?

At least the first guy had something kind of intelligent to say where he marks the difference between sacerdotal and calvinist soteriology. I'm also glad he at least knew about Timothy Ware's book, "The Orthodox Church."

Except for the fact he makes a totally false dichotomy between the Gospel of Grace and justification by faith, and the Sacraments of the Church.

I also enjoyed the implication that 'if you put too much beauty into worship there is no room for doctrine' as if beauty and truth were in a zero-sum competition. LOL
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« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2011, 11:13:08 AM »

After a full cycle of services on a Sunday, with all of the hymns and readings, is there really anything else to say?  I have to say that one thing that totally tuned me off to some jurisdictions of Orthodoxy was the abbreviation of the prayers after the Gospel only to be substituted by a sermon.  To me, this totally disrupted the flow of the Liturgy.  The same parishes also eliminate most of the verses from the canons during Matins, and do not include any verses during the Beatitudes.  I find eliminating the hymns specified by the Typikon to be more worrisome than the lack of a sermon.

I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

As for Reformed/Calvinist people, the ones I've talked to who have attended Orthodox services are always struck by the amount of scripture we use. Reformed people have a large emphasis on knowing the scriptures, and to hear so much of it sung and used in new ways (to them) has often earned the Church high praises in my experience.

Some Reformed converts got married at my parish once, and the guests were completely amazed by the Marriage service. The spontaneous references to scripture and Biblical marriages were unlike anything they'd ever seen in the rather stale Protestant wedding formula. (Of course, they don't like the icons and such, but the use of scripture is very much appreciated.)
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« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2011, 01:13:12 PM »


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy. 

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news. 

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is. 
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« Reply #20 on: August 22, 2011, 01:39:37 PM »

That is what Bible studies are for.  Oh, wait, I forgot that we don't have those.


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy. 

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news. 

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is. 
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« Reply #21 on: August 22, 2011, 02:14:43 PM »


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy. 

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news. 

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is. 

I certainly think that preaching should be done, don't get me wrong. I very much enjoy reading the Church's great homilists; it is a lost art that needs to be revived. My point was just that the liturgy itself teaches a great deal, and we receive instruction in ways other than from the pulpit—which is not the case in much of Protestantism, and may have led to the confusion about Orthodoxy shown in the OP.

Part of the problem may indeed be that preaching is a lost art. I like what you wrote about proclaiming good news. So much "preaching" is reduced to glorified lectures, complete with bullet points, and that's just not the kind of overflowing joy (even when mixed with exhortation) you read in, say, St John Chrysostom.

But to reiterate my point, I think the Divine Liturgy, the Hours, and the occasional services can be as transformational as any sermon. We probably hear "Lord have mercy" hundreds of times each week—if we actually took that simple phrase into our hearts, we would be transformed.

I don't think our perspectives are mutually exclusive by any means. Everything has its place and should be executed to their fullest potential. When the Church is reduced to its elements, you only get problems.
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« Reply #22 on: August 23, 2011, 09:57:37 AM »

I've been to ROCOR, OCA, GOA, Antiochian and Serbian Orthodox Divine Liturgies, and there was always a sermon, though in some it came at the end and some after the Gospel.
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« Reply #23 on: August 23, 2011, 10:08:25 AM »

David, did the priest give a 15-20 minute talk on the Scripture passage for the day (it is usually the Gospel reading, but it could be done on the epistle reading occasionally)?  That would be the homily.  They are usually much shorter than what most Evangelicals are used to since they don't have you flipping all through the Scriptures to find verses and passages.  He just preaches on one of the Scripture readings for the day and they tend to be short.  The longest I've heard was 30 mins, and that is long for a lot of parishes.
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« Reply #24 on: August 23, 2011, 10:23:31 AM »


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy. 

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news. 

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is. 

Amen. I cannot even imagine a Divine Liturgy without a sermon after the Gospel reading. This is logical, salutary and most of all historical, going back to the earliest times. Also, the Sunday Divine Liturgy may be an opportunity to reach out to those folks to come to see what we are all about.
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« Reply #25 on: August 23, 2011, 10:40:31 AM »


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 
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« Reply #26 on: August 23, 2011, 10:41:23 AM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.

I wonder if David Young attended these services in Greece?  There has been a homily at every Divine Liturgy I have attended in parishes of the US, though there typically is not a homily at Divine Liturgies served at monasteries I have attended.  In fact, I have been to an OCA and Greek parish where the priest gives a short homily after every service, wether a Divine Liturgy, Vespers, Great Compline, Paraklesis, etc.  In Greece, however, I think some priests are not licensed to preach, perhaps because they are not considered by their bishops to have the necessary qualifications.  Protestants may not even be able to process the thought of a minister who did not preach, since this is all their "pastors" do, and the sole basis upon which their "pastors" are often evaluated.  Personally, while I do appreciate a good homily, I do not at all feel that something is lacking if a homily is not given.  Actually, I would love to see priests read patristic homilies to their faithful more often, in place of a homily in their own words, such as is done with the catechetical homily of St. John Chrysostom on Pascha.   
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« Reply #27 on: August 23, 2011, 10:59:18 AM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.

People sometimes confuse what they are attending for the Vigil which occurs the evening before any Liturgy. Such a long service prior to Sunday Liturgy may confuse some Protestants. However, my Jewish parents recognize what I go to every Saturday as being similar to the Jewish Service after sundown on Friday preparing for Saturday. It's just moved one day over.

There is no Sermon at Vigil. We pray, go to confession and learn about the Saints being remembered that Sunday and or the details of the Feast. It is meant to be very didactic. The actual preaching/sermon is reserved for the Divine Liturgy ( Mass). There are two places it can be given. Some Parishes do it in the Middle of the Liturgy and some at the very end.

Our Priest goes on and on and on Smiley. It would be rather impossible to miss it. He is a convert from Protestantism but it was the same at the other Church I used to attend where the Priest was cradle orthodox. There is no Divine Liturgy without a Sermon except perhaps at a Monastery or in some very usual circumstance.  
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« Reply #28 on: August 23, 2011, 11:09:05 AM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.

I wonder if David Young attended these services in Greece?  There has been a homily at every Divine Liturgy I have attended in parishes of the US, though there typically is not a homily at Divine Liturgies served at monasteries I have attended.  In fact, I have been to an OCA and Greek parish where the priest gives a short homily after every service, wether a Divine Liturgy, Vespers, Great Compline, Paraklesis, etc.  In Greece, however, I think some priests are not licensed to preach, perhaps because they are not considered by their bishops to have the necessary qualifications.  Protestants may not even be able to process the thought of a minister who did not preach, since this is all their "pastors" do, and the sole basis upon which their "pastors" are often evaluated.  Personally, while I do appreciate a good homily, I do not at all feel that something is lacking if a homily is not given.  Actually, I would love to see priests read patristic homilies to their faithful more often, in place of a homily in their own words, such as is done with the catechetical homily of St. John Chrysostom on Pascha.   


Here is an example of an Orthodox Sermon. This is the sermon mentioned above by St. John given on Easter

The Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read during Matins of Pascha.

If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.

And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.

Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.

O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.

http://oca.org/FSsermons-details.asp?SID=4&ID=10
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« Reply #29 on: August 23, 2011, 11:10:41 AM »


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 

Short is good!  This is not something that I appreciated during the early years of my ministry.  I thought I was short-changing my congregation if I did not preach at least twenty minutes.  But now I believe that, within the context of the eucharistic liturgy, most homilies should be limited to ten to twelve minutes.  The liturgy is already long and most people cannot maintain their attention for much longer.  The rule is:  the better the preacher, the longer he can effectively preach.  Most of us mere mortals, however, best serve our congregations if we limit limit our homilies to ten to twelve minutes.

Short homilies are actually more difficult to construct than longer homilies.  Every homily needs one theme, and every word, every illustration, needs to illuminate that theme.  Rambling is not preaching.
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« Reply #30 on: August 23, 2011, 11:14:46 AM »


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 
For one thing, the writings of St. John Chrysostom, the one to whom we attribute our main DL, are actually sermons.
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« Reply #31 on: August 23, 2011, 11:17:59 AM »

since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,

I have attended three Sunday morning services, each in a different city, and have never heard a sermon, though the final time I did have to leave after maybe 1½ hours. The other two I stayed till the end.

People sometimes confuse what they are attending for the Vigil which occurs the evening before any Liturgy. Such a long service prior to Sunday Liturgy may confuse some Protestants. However, my Jewish parents recognize what I go to every Saturday as being similar to the Jewish Service after sundown on Friday preparing for Saturday. It's just moved one day over.
I didn't go to Sat. Vespers much until I saw Schindler's List.  I thought, watching the welcoming of Sabbath, wishing that we had something like this, and then it hit me "duh, you do."
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« Reply #32 on: August 23, 2011, 11:21:40 AM »

I think it's hilarious that one of them though there there was no "theology" in the liturgy that he attended in Russia. I can only attribute it to his lack of Russian language skills.

They're sincere men, but they have a lot to learn. Unfortunately, they think the appeal to EO is strictly aesthetic.

I heard someone comment on Mr. MacArthur's experience,saying that since the service was void of a sermon,He probably attended one of the weekly services,whether it be Vespers,or another service I'm not sure.  I thought the comment about the absense of a "tract table" was pretty hilarious.
That's because in the days of the Apostles, that was the sign of a True Church, when 90+% of the population was illiterate.

That said, they do serve a purpose, and there is not anything heretical about Orthodoxy using this medium, especially for those who won't go ask questions of strangers, but will take and read a tract in their own privacy.
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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2011, 11:25:08 AM »

I have found that some Evangelicals, such as Wesleyans (who believe in free will like the Orthodox), will have charitable things to say about Eastern Orthodoxy, if they know that we exist and if they have read any of our literature.  I have met many Lutherans who are fans of Father Alexander Schmemann, and who also can have something charitable to say about the Orthodox Church. However, I have never met any Christians of the Reformed or Calvinist confession who have anything good to say about Orthodoxy at all.  Not one word.  The only things I've ever heard the Reformed say about Orthodoxy are that we are "idolaters" and "Mary-worshippers".  Perhaps there might be some kinder, gentler Reformed people out there that we could actually dialogue with, but I have never met such. 

If I'm not mistaken I think there is gentleman by the name of Michael S. Horton,who is Reformed,and He has Read Father Schmemann fairly thoroughly. Another gentleman by the name of Dr.Bradley Nasiff,who is Orthodox, has also actively dialogued with those of the Reformed persuasion.
Dr. Nasiff was a returnee to Orthodoxy, after a stint in evengalicalism (I remember when his wife converted, years after he returned). Isn't Wheaton Reformed/Calvinist? and Dr. Nasiff hangs around there a lot (the drift to Orthodoxy has become a bigger topic on campus).
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2011, 11:29:27 AM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

Not just in the Church, but in the liturgy. He complained about not having a sermon and having nothing but chant, but there is more of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and scripture references found in those prayers and hymns than probably in any protestant sermon.
One thing that struck me about the Evangelicals (I noticed it first at a service of the "Church of Christ"-instrumental) that, besides the sermon, how much their "worship" is devoid of scripture.  Not much more thelogy in there either.  So these complaints much be Protestant projection.
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2011, 11:31:31 AM »

Two points that I learned in Speech classes and Toastmasters seem to me to be applicable to sermons:

1.  The three S's - Stand up, Speak up, Shut up.  Keep it short and to the point.

2.  There are no converts after the first ten minutes.  If you have not said what needs to be said in that time, you may as well give it up because most everyone is asleep.  There are some speakers that can effectively go on longer than that, but they are few and far between.


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 

Short is good!  This is not something that I appreciated during the early years of my ministry.  I thought I was short-changing my congregation if I did not preach at least twenty minutes.  But now I believe that, within the context of the eucharistic liturgy, most homilies should be limited to ten to twelve minutes.  The liturgy is already long and most people cannot maintain their attention for much longer.  The rule is:  the better the preacher, the longer he can effectively preach.  Most of us mere mortals, however, best serve our congregations if we limit limit our homilies to ten to twelve minutes.

Short homilies are actually more difficult to construct than longer homilies.  Every homily needs one theme, and every word, every illustration, needs to illuminate that theme.  Rambling is not preaching.
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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2011, 11:33:09 AM »

There is no theology in the Orthodox church?
Really they could say that with a straight face?

Not just in the Church, but in the liturgy. He complained about not having a sermon and having nothing but chant, but there is more of the foundational beliefs of Christianity and scripture references found in those prayers and hymns than probably in any protestant sermon.

+1

"Eastern Orthodoxy is not too much concerned with doctrine" -- what the??
LOL. Says the ecclesial community without dogma and no authority beyond their individually self consecrated popes, all contradictory and of course all speaking infallibly. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #37 on: August 23, 2011, 11:46:29 AM »

One can never have too many sermons--at liturgy, at matins, at vespers, at the sixth hour, at akathists. But no sermon is preferable to a bad one. Bad homilies became commonplace when seminaries stopped flogging seminarians.
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« Reply #38 on: August 23, 2011, 11:47:23 AM »

After a full cycle of services on a Sunday, with all of the hymns and readings, is there really anything else to say?  I have to say that one thing that totally tuned me off to some jurisdictions of Orthodoxy was the abbreviation of the prayers after the Gospel only to be substituted by a sermon.  To me, this totally disrupted the flow of the Liturgy.  The same parishes also eliminate most of the verses from the canons during Matins, and do not include any verses during the Beatitudes.  I find eliminating the hymns specified by the Typikon to be more worrisome than the lack of a sermon.

I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

As for Reformed/Calvinist people, the ones I've talked to who have attended Orthodox services are always struck by the amount of scripture we use. Reformed people have a large emphasis on knowing the scriptures, and to hear so much of it sung and used in new ways (to them) has often earned the Church high praises in my experience.

Some Reformed converts got married at my parish once, and the guests were completely amazed by the Marriage service. The spontaneous references to scripture and Biblical marriages were unlike anything they'd ever seen in the rather stale Protestant wedding formula. (Of course, they don't like the icons and such, but the use of scripture is very much appreciated.)
I am 100% behind having a sermon, as there is never a shortage of didactic need.  I am myself partial to having a sermon after the end of the service, but that's not where the rubrics put it (something that I have seen emphasized on three continents, four if Europe is seperate).  For one thing, the Lord Himself put the sermon there after the reading.

The sermon gains importance where services are conducted in languages not readily understood.  IIRC, Pat. Dositheos of Jerusalem specified that the DL could not be celebrated in Romanian (he was resident in Bucharest at the time) but mandated that the Gospel and IIRC the sermon MUST be in Romanian (the Bible had been just translated into Romanian, with himself writing the preface (very interesting, as he overlooks Ulfias' Arianism to emphasize the Gothic Bible as an example of the importance of having the Bible in the language of the people) but the DL had only been translated by the Vatican: Pat. Dositheos gave the choice of Greek or Slavonic).

I'm curious as to the role of sticking more canons etc. into the service in squeezing the sermon out.
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« Reply #39 on: August 23, 2011, 12:05:27 PM »


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy.  

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news.  

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is.  
That is what Bible studies are for.  Oh, wait, I forgot that we don't have those.
Some of us do.  And I've noticed, those of us who do, have sermons as well.

In places like Greece, often the sermon was done by a theologian, often a layman who had done theological studies, and not the priest, who often did not.  With the rise of seminaries, this has fallen into disuse, and now the priest is expected to do the sermon, whether he has the gift of speaking or not.
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« Reply #40 on: August 23, 2011, 12:12:05 PM »


I completely agree. I do appreciate a good sermon, especially pastoral ones that apply principles to daily life, but if you have a full vigil there is nothing particularly lacking. Individualized pastoral care will come in confession. The sermon is a niche that is very easily filled by other aspects of Orthodox liturgy and praxis.

Please don't tell that to St John Chrysostom or St Augustine.  I'm betting that they did not understand the homily as optional within the Divine Liturgy. 

I suppose that some priests really should not preach.  God knows I have heard my fair of bad preaching from bad preachers.  These men should probably just allow the liturgy to carry the weight of the gospel.

But preaching is not an optional ministry in the Church.  It is integral to the celebration of the Eucharist.  Hearing a text of Scripture is not the same as hearing that Scripture expounded and proclaimed as good news. 

I fear that many preachers, whether Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant, really do not understand what preaching is.  They do not know how to proclaim Scripture as good news.  Preaching is reduced to exhortation, exhortation to moral effort, exhortation to ascetical effort.  But preaching is so much more than exhortation.  It is a sacramental event that transforms the hearer.  At least that is what it's supposed to be, and by the grace of God sometimes is. 

I certainly think that preaching should be done, don't get me wrong. I very much enjoy reading the Church's great homilists; it is a lost art that needs to be revived. My point was just that the liturgy itself teaches a great deal, and we receive instruction in ways other than from the pulpit—which is not the case in much of Protestantism, and may have led to the confusion about Orthodoxy shown in the OP.

Part of the problem may indeed be that preaching is a lost art. I like what you wrote about proclaiming good news. So much "preaching" is reduced to glorified lectures, complete with bullet points, and that's just not the kind of overflowing joy (even when mixed with exhortation) you read in, say, St John Chrysostom.

But to reiterate my point, I think the Divine Liturgy, the Hours, and the occasional services can be as transformational as any sermon. We probably hear "Lord have mercy" hundreds of times each week—if we actually took that simple phrase into our hearts, we would be transformed.

I don't think our perspectives are mutually exclusive by any means. Everything has its place and should be executed to their fullest potential. When the Church is reduced to its elements, you only get problems.
How true, and it explains much of what has happened to Protestantism.

A Greek priest (Fr. Coniaris? I don't specifically recall) told me how he went to a congregational 'church' in Connecticut, founded before the Revolution.  On the doorway it had placques "with a-A-L-L the names of the preachers since its founding."  He noticed that it had a "LARGE pulpit, and a tiny altar."  "That told me all I needed to know about that 'church'" he said. He also noted that he lite a bit of incense, to demonstrate at his talk there.   The preacher said that it was the first time incense had ever arose in that parish in its over 3 centuries.  Not much worship going on there I'm afraid.
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« Reply #41 on: August 23, 2011, 12:20:27 PM »

One can never have too many sermons--at liturgy, at matins, at vespers, at the sixth hour, at akathists. But no sermon is preferable to a bad one. Bad homilies became commonplace when seminaries stopped flogging seminarians.
LOL. I was just reading a study on the prosopography of the Russian episcopate during the Synodal period, where it was noticed the extremely long ages even by today's standards, let alone the 18-19th centuries. It noted the brutality of the theological academies, and, postulating survival of the fittest, theorized that if the young bishops to be survived it, they were pretty likely to survive what killed lesser men.
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« Reply #42 on: August 23, 2011, 12:48:40 PM »

The longest I've heard was 30 mins....
Baptist preachers don't break a sweat until 45 minutes in.
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« Reply #43 on: August 23, 2011, 01:09:00 PM »


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 

Short is good!  This is not something that I appreciated during the early years of my ministry.  I thought I was short-changing my congregation if I did not preach at least twenty minutes.  But now I believe that, within the context of the eucharistic liturgy, most homilies should be limited to ten to twelve minutes.  The liturgy is already long and most people cannot maintain their attention for much longer.  The rule is:  the better the preacher, the longer he can effectively preach.  Most of us mere mortals, however, best serve our congregations if we limit limit our homilies to ten to twelve minutes.

Short homilies are actually more difficult to construct than longer homilies.  Every homily needs one theme, and every word, every illustration, needs to illuminate that theme.  Rambling is not preaching.

I agree with you, Father.  I get much more out of the sermons that are 20 mins or shorter than I ever got out of the hour long sermons that I used to hear when I was an Evangelical.  I also like it that I am not expected to take notes.  I agree that the best sermons are the ones that pick one theme from the Gospel reading and then deals with that one theme.  I have to admit that it was especially hard sitting through one of those hour-long sermons when I had just gotten off work at 7am that morning--I would usually fall asleep after 20 mins.  At least nobody elbowed me awake (which happened to one poor man when he fell asleep during the sermon--his wife would elbow him really hard to wake him up). 
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PeterTheAleut
The Right Blowhard Peter the Furtive of Yetts O'Muckhart
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Lord, have mercy on the Christians in Mosul!


« Reply #44 on: August 23, 2011, 01:10:54 PM »

Two points that I learned in Speech classes and Toastmasters seem to me to be applicable to sermons:

1.  The three S's - Stand up, Speak up, Shut up.  Keep it short and to the point.

2.  There are no converts after the first ten minutes.  If you have not said what needs to be said in that time, you may as well give it up because most everyone is asleep.  There are some speakers that can effectively go on longer than that, but they are few and far between.


Put me down on the side that says the sermon is an essential part of the Liturgy and participates in its general sacramental character.  I do not think that it is optional, but it can be short.  I also think that it should explain those readings, which were just read. 

Short is good!  This is not something that I appreciated during the early years of my ministry.  I thought I was short-changing my congregation if I did not preach at least twenty minutes.  But now I believe that, within the context of the eucharistic liturgy, most homilies should be limited to ten to twelve minutes.  The liturgy is already long and most people cannot maintain their attention for much longer.  The rule is:  the better the preacher, the longer he can effectively preach.  Most of us mere mortals, however, best serve our congregations if we limit limit our homilies to ten to twelve minutes.

Short homilies are actually more difficult to construct than longer homilies.  Every homily needs one theme, and every word, every illustration, needs to illuminate that theme.  Rambling is not preaching.
I wonder if having someone run a stop watch and a traffic signal light (green light at 10 min., yellow light at 12 min., red light at 14 min.) would help the priest keep his homily short. Grin
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