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Author Topic: Having doubts about Sacred Tradition  (Read 745 times) Average Rating: 0
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neon_knights
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« on: August 21, 2011, 05:49:36 AM »

Recently I've been having some doubts about the episcopate and Sacred Tradition.

It just seems to me that the Lord's criticizing of the Pharisees and their traditions happen to line up pretty well with today's Sacred Tradition.

The Pharisees, who kept traditions, sat on the Seat of Moses for their authority. The bishops of the Church, who keep traditions, sit on the Seat of Peter for their authority.

Did Christ teach Sola Scriptura when He criticized the Pharisees and their traditions?

PS- Im honestly not trying to criticize the bishops or Church tradition, Im just a little puzzled by this.
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« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2011, 06:42:18 AM »

Here's a recent thread on this topic. http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,38722.0.html
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« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2011, 07:32:27 AM »

The Pharisees, who kept traditions, sat on the Seat of Moses for their authority. The bishops of the Church, who keep traditions, sit on the Seat of Peter for their authority.

I'll be honest, I don't see it myself - but that might be my own ignorance. When Christ criticizes the Pharisees (and Scribes) in relation to sitting on the seat of Moses he is criticizing their hypocrisy, i.e. for imposing traditions on others but not adhering to them themselves. They are criticized for being showy, for taking pride of place at meals, and so on... but Christ doesn't expressly criticize the traditions - which at this point would have been from the Torah.

You might be thinking of something else Christ said, in which case I apologize.

Now, do we see hypocrisy among bishops and priests in the same way we saw it in the Pharisees? Sadly, yes, we probably do. But this is not an argument against the Sacred Tradition of the Church, but an argument for faithfully preserving it as far as we are able.

The weaknesses within the Orthodox Church are exactly where you would find them: in the human element. Orthodox Christians - whether clergy or not - fight with each other, are proud, practice hypocrisy, and act like the Pharisees at various times and in various places. But the Tradition of the Church does not teach this - in fact the Tradition of the Church is based heavily on Christ's teachings regarding forgiveness and not judging.

The Orthodox Church has canons; the Pharisees had "canons".
The Pharisees, like the Scribes, were religious "lawyers", interpreting the Law and applying it to people's life, because they believed in keeping the Law, God would save them.
The Orthodox Church knows that keeping the Law is impossible, and that Salvation is only through uniting with Jesus Christ. The canons are not to be seen as "laws" in the modern sense, but as aspects of a fitness regime which disciplines the body and soul so that the whole may be able to bear the burning love of God within them. Therefore, the clergy of the Church do not (or should not) apply the canons as laws, but as medicines, applying them according to the needs of the individual, and what particular asceticism he or she needs. It is a significant difference in practice; where the distinction seems blurred is when people act hypocritically.

Nevertheless much in the Church's Tradition helps to overcome this, and stop clergy from becoming "like the Pharisees". So, for example, today we only choose bishops from the monastics. It is no guarantee, but if a monk is ordained to the episcopacy then at least they should already be experienced in living temperately (and indeed should have made vows of poverty) and so are better equipped to avoid any trappings of authority.
 
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« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2011, 08:03:27 AM »

It may help to remember that it was Holy Tradition that gave us the Bible. Not the other way around.
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« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2011, 08:15:25 AM »

It may help to remember that it was Holy Tradition that gave us the Bible. Not the other way around.

This is fundamental. Please always remind yourself of this when you have such worries.
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« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2011, 08:38:05 AM »

Tradition = history. If you find history reliable then you can find tradition reliable.Tradition = valid historical documents that tell us what Christians did and believed from times of Apostles until today and these documents are thrown out of window by Sola Scriptura .

So on one hand you have Sola Imagination and in other hand you have History. What do you choose?
« Last Edit: August 21, 2011, 08:39:01 AM by pasadi97 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2011, 09:22:42 AM »

Recently I've been having some doubts about the episcopate and Sacred Tradition.

It just seems to me that the Lord's criticizing of the Pharisees and their traditions happen to line up pretty well with today's Sacred Tradition.

The Pharisees, who kept traditions, sat on the Seat of Moses for their authority. The bishops of the Church, who keep traditions, sit on the Seat of Peter for their authority.

Did Christ teach Sola Scriptura when He criticized the Pharisees and their traditions?

PS- Im honestly not trying to criticize the bishops or Church tradition, Im just a little puzzled by this.

I'lll have to answer more fully later (I'm getting ready for Church), but the Pharisees didn't have economia, nor the authority to amply it.  Nor did they have the authority to define the Faith: they had to cite some rabbi's authority, whom they set alongside as scripture.

No, Christ did not teach Sola Scriptura.  For one, He fully participated and approved of the synagogue service, although the synagouge was purely the product of tradition.  You will not find any description or warrant for it in the whole Old Testament.

In the meantime, I posted this before:
You say Holy Tradition, what does that even mean?

I'm going to repost something long (yeah, I know, suprise) but may not have the time to comment more.  I originally argued this against Sola Scriptura for the only source of the Faith.  I'll adapt it to the OP.

An example of what happens when Sola Scriptura runs against Apostolic Tradition:
Joshua Joshua 22:10 And when they came to the region about the Jordan, that lies in the land of Canaan, the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manas'seh built there an altar by the Jordan, an altar of great size. 11 And the people of Israel heard say, "Behold, the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manas'seh have built an altar at the frontier of the land of Canaan, in the region about the Jordan, on the side that belongs to the people of Israel." 12 And when the people of Israel heard of it, the whole assembly of the people of Israel gathered at Shiloh, to make war against them. 13 Then the people of Israel sent to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manas'seh, in the land of Gilead, Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar the priest, 14 and with him ten chiefs, one from each of the tribal families of Israel, every one of them the head of a family among the clans of Israel. 15 And they came to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manas'seh, in the land of Gilead, and they said to them, 16 "Thus says the whole congregation of the LORD, 'What is this treachery which you have committed against the God of Israel in turning away this day from following the LORD, by building yourselves an altar this day in rebellion against the LORD? 17 Have we not had enough of the sin at Pe'or from which even yet we have not cleansed ourselves, and for which there came a plague upon the congregation of the LORD, 18 that you must turn away this day from following the LORD? And if you rebel against the LORD today he will be angry with the whole congregation of Israel tomorrow. 19 But now, if your land is unclean, pass over into the LORD's land where the LORD's tabernacle stands, and take for yourselves a possession among us; only do not rebel against the LORD, or make us as rebels by building yourselves an altar other than the altar of the LORD our God. 20 Did not Achan the son of Zerah break faith in the matter of the devoted things, and wrath fell upon all the congregation of Israel? And he did not perish alone for his iniquity.'"

21 Then the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manas'seh said in answer to the heads of the families of Israel, 22 "The Mighty One, God, the LORD! The Mighty One, God, the LORD! He knows; and let Israel itself know! If it was in rebellion or in breach of faith toward the LORD, spare us not today 23 for building an altar to turn away from following the LORD; or if we did so to offer burnt offerings or cereal offerings or peace offerings on it, may the LORD himself take vengeance. 24 Nay, but we did it from fear that in time to come your children might say to our children, 'What have you to do with the LORD, the God of Israel ? 25 For the LORD has made the Jordan a boundary between us and you, you Reubenites and Gadites; you have no portion in the LORD.' So your children might make our children cease to worship the LORD. 26 Therefore we said, 'Let us now build an altar, not for burnt offering, nor for sacrifice, 27 but to be a witness between us and you, and between the generations after us, that we do perform the service of the LORD in his presence with our burnt offerings and sacrifices and peace offerings; lest your children say to our children in time to come, "You have no portion in the LORD."' 28 And we thought, If this should be said to us or to our descendants in time to come, we should say, 'Behold the copy of the altar of the LORD, which our fathers made, not for burnt offerings, nor for sacrifice, but to be a witness between us and you.' 29 Far be it from us that we should rebel against the LORD, and turn away this day from following the LORD by building an altar for burnt offering, cereal offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the LORD our God that stands before his tabernacle!"

30 When Phin'ehas the priest and the chiefs of the congregation, the heads of the families of Israel who were with him, heard the words that the Reubenites and the Gadites and the Manas'sites spoke, it pleased them well. 31 And Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar the priest said to the Reubenites and the Gadites and the Manas'sites, "Today we know that the LORD is in the midst of us, because you have not committed this treachery against the LORD; now you have saved the people of Israel from the hand of the LORD." 32 Then Phin'ehas the son of Elea'zar the priest, and the chiefs, returned from the Reubenites and the Gadites in the land of Gilead to the land of Canaan, to the people of Israel, and brought back word to them. 33 And the report pleased the people of Israel; and the people of Israel blessed God and spoke no more of making war against them, to destroy the land where the Reubenites and the Gadites were settled. 34 The Reubenites and the Gadites called the altar Witness; "For," said they, "it is a witness between us that the LORD is God."

Now, note the following:

The Sola Scriptura folks were quite correct: the Law given to Moses had restricted sacrifices to one altar before the one Tabernacle. Btw, the tribes living on the East of the Jordan was a deviation from what God had commanded, revealed in His Word, and to which the Prophet Moses objected (Numbers 32, especially verses 6-15). Sort of like the innovation of the monarchy (I Kingdoms/Samuel 8, esp. verses 6-7), but we go a Messiah out of that (I Chronicles 17). Yet it is those who add Tradition to the mix who save Israel that day, as the chiefs of the Assembly/Congregation (we would say "Church") of Israel admit.

However, the Sola Scriptura first accuse the Eastern tribes of rebelling against God's Word, setting something that they see in addition to, and hence in opposition to (in their mind) in order to supplant God's Word, and replacing the Word of God with the traditions of men. And their solution? Just stick to the text and cross over to us.

The Eastern tribes had the foresight to see that, people being people, and sin being sin, that the Books of Moses were not going to suffice to stop Israel from sin. Those on the West Bank would focus on the literal promises to Abraham (which said nothing of the East Bank) and would interpret it in a manner which suited their sense of sensibilities: the Promised Land should fit our idea of the Land of Canaan (sort of like the idea of eating Body and Blood). Acting on this, they would exclude the Easterners, leading them to sin.

So the solution? Set up an interpretation of the letter of the law that preserved an indisputable indication of its spirit. And this they did.

A Melkite priest gave the best one word definition of Chrsitianity: witness.

Now, the problem most Protestants have with Tradition is the idea that the Church which set it up has tried to suppliment, and hence oppose, in order to supplant, Scripture.

We do not believe in, say, the Real Presense because St. Ignatius of Antioch, whom the Aposles ordained themselves as successor of St. Peter in the place where the disciples were first called Christians, writes in c. 105:
Let no man deceive himself. Both the things which are in heaven, and the glorious angels, and rulers, both visible and invisible, if they believe not in the blood of Christ, shall, in consequence, incur condemnation. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Let not [high] place puff any one up: for that which is worth all is faith and love, to which nothing is to be preferred. But consider those who are of a different opinion with respect to the grace of Christ which has come unto us, how opposed they are to the will of God. They have no regard for love; no care for the widow, or the orphan, or the oppressed; of the bond, or of the free; of the hungry, or of the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from the prayer, because they will not confess that the Eucharist is the self same flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death in the midst of their disputes. But it were better for them to treat it with respect, that they also might rise again. It is fitting, therefore, that you should keep aloof from such persons, and not to speak of them either in private or in public, but to give heed to the prophets, and above all, to the Gospel, in which the passion [of Christ] has been revealed to us, and the resurrection has been fully proved. But avoid all divisions, as the beginning of evils. See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

we believe in the Real Presence because He said, "This is My Body," "This is My Blood." Rising, He appeared and was known to the Apostles in the breakding of the bread that first Pascha (Luke 24:13-36 NOT btw, in His opening of the scriptures, though that did make their heart burn). Those who continued steadfast in the Apostles' doctrines communed in the breaking of bread in the prayers of the DL every Sunday from the Resurrection until June 7, 2009 (Acts 2:42, 20:7), which we received, delievered to us by the Apostles from the Lord (I Cor. 11:23. btw. when these words were written, the Church had been gathering on the first day of the week to break bread (Acts 20:7) for over two decades).

Now, the Aposles weren't doing this because of the verses quoted. Rather the verses were written to record what the Apostles did, what they were doing, believing, teaching, whether by word or letter (I Thess. 2:15) so those who followed could stand fast and hold these traditions, and withdraw (I Thes. 3:6) from those who refused to walk according to the traditions which they delievered and which we received.

St. Ignatius stood fast and held that tradition, and did not neglect that gift that was given him by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the Apostles, guarding what was committed to him. (I Tim. 4:14, 6:20) St. Ignatius set in order bishops in every city as the Aposltes commanded, to hold fast the faithful word as it had been taught, by word or letter, to both exhort and convict by sound doctrine those of a different opinion (heresia) who contradicted, and refused to walk according to that tradition. (cf. Titus 1:5-9). As the letters show, strong in the grace of Christ Jesus, he was committing these traditions he heard by word from the Apostles to the Faithful to teach others. (2 Tim. 2:1-2), that the Catholic Church continue in breaking the bread, the communion of the self same Body of Christ (I Cor. 10:16).

We do not believe in the Real Presence because St. Ignatius says so: he received the same Faith we received, and he stands as a Witness that God has erected between the Apostles and us, as a sign post as to whether we walk according to the Tradition of the Apostles or not. "Lo! I am with you always (Greek: "all the days") even unto the end of the age." Those were His parting words. And so He has: rather than standing gazing, the Church has raised up witnessses to that same Faith, who stand as witnesses between us and the Apostles. We have not abandoned the Bible for the Fathers (and Mothers!). Rather surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, we are able to point to the Witness, like the Eastern Tribes to the altar on the Jordan, to show that we are right in our interpretation of Scripture, including the Words of Institution (themselves written in the Gospels to reflect Church practice). Every generation, we can document, from the Apostles to this day, those who, if they lived in our day, would come to OUR Church and commune with us (of course, closed communion is part of that Apostolic Tradition). Their Faith is our Faith, and that is the value of their words, not that they replace the Bible. Rather they preserve the full import of the Bible.

Tradition is giving our ancestors, our Fathers, the ones who passed down the Faith and copied and preserved the Bible, a vote.

Catechesis means "echo," and Christ's Word has roared throughout the generations through Apostolic Tradition.

As our priest says, if you come up with an interpretation of Scripture that no one else has, be cautious and ask yourself if you are wrong. If it contradicts what has gone before, YOU ARE DEFINITELY WRONG.

How to interpret Acts 8:31? The believers of sola scriptura cannot tell us. They have no one to guide them.


I'm going to repost something long (yeah, I know, suprise) but may not have the time to comment more.  I originally argued this against Sola Scriptura for the only source of the Faith.  I'll adapt it to the OP.....
Title of the thread confused the Consensus Patrum as a Source of Faith: the Consensus does not provide the Source of Faith, it reflects it.

There is only one soure of the Faith, Christ.  How that one source is transmitted, and how its transmition is verified, is what is at issue.

The Faith is transitted in the Holy Mysteries: as the Fathers say, Christ has passed into the Holy Mysteries, the signs of Christ's life within His Body, the Church.  When the Church acts as the Body of Christ, as a Body, in unity with her Head, then she speaks infallibly.  That is why the assent of the Faithful is needed, for instance, for the Ecumenicity of a Council.

There is, for no instance, no objective criteria on which to base the canon of the Bible.  Authorship by an Apostle does not determine the canon of the NT: St. Luke, strictly speaking, is not an Apostle-he does not include himself in the company of eyewitness and ministers of the Word from the beginning (Luke 1:2, cf. Acts 1:21-2). Yet there is no question of it being in the Orthodox canon.  St. Clement's first epistle (I'll leave aside the question of the second) which was reckoned as Scripture: after Clement received his doctrine directly from the Apostles, and not as an eyewitness of Christ, the same way  St. Luke received his doctrine.  Clement's epistles are approved by the Apostolic Canons (85), but yet St. Luke is canonized and St. Clement is not.  If an archaeologist dug up St. Paul's missing Epistles or when they dug up the Gospels that record Acts 20:35, or the Jesus seminar could prove that St. Thomas wrote the Gospel named after him, none were or would be accepted into the canon.  The Church has spoken.  Many Fathers and Churches deemed Reveltion spurious, but the Church accepted it into the canon, and even if textual criticism would able to prove that St. John did not write it, it would remain in the canon as the Church has received it as an expression of her Faith in the return of her Bridegroom.

And that is why the Bible is canonized: it is not that the Church collected documents that the Apostles wrote.  Rather, they looked at what the Faithful had produced in the bosom of the Church, recognized herself in it, and adopted it as her self revelation.  Sort of like when parents see themselves in their children, and leave them as their legacy.  The Bible is not like the America Constitution, which brought a new government into order which is derived from that constition: it is like the Canadian Constitution, which merely codifies the system of government in place.  When St. Paul refers to Christ's life, he is not teaching history. He is appealing to an audience who already knows His life. Case in point: St. Paul's account of the Mystical Supper predates all the Gospels' accounts of it.  But he is not telling the Corinthians nothing that they do not already know (I Corin. 11:23)  In fact the ongoing Great Canon of the DL helped shape the Gospels' account.

That is why Sola Scriptura doesn't work: it is like owning the manuel, but not owning the car.

St. Theophan deals with the issue of why we say prayers written by the saints.  It is not because they are a replacement for Scripture nor for our own words.  But as we do not know how to pray as we ought, we look to those who did.  The saints we know (because they have been glorified, and their words consecrated by the usage of the Church) had reached the stage where the Holy Spirit spoke within them at prayer.  In that state, they composed in human language their thoughts in that state.  Using these words as guideposts, we are trying to follow them into the state where the Holy Spirit gives utterance to our prayers.  As the lesson of the Samaritan woman shows: the Samaritans came because of what she told them, but they reached a point at which they believed from knowing Him for themselves (John 4:43).

So too the Liturgy: the Church gathered as the Body of Christ so that He made be in their midst have put that experience into words.  The Church as a whole has adopted the Liturgy as the public expression of that experience, hence the appeal of liturgical texts for dogma: lex credendi, lex orandi.  But in that order: we do not believe that Christ is in the Eucharist because the DL says so, rather because we believe so, and experience Him in the Eucharist, that the DL so says.

So too the Dogmatic Definitions of the Ecumenical Councils.  The Faith cannot be added too.  No development of doctrine, if it was not in the Apostles' preaching it cannot be in the Dogma of the Church.  When heresy infected the Body of Christ, the Body of Christ, as a Body, mustered its antibodies, the Fathers and developed an immunity, the Dogmatic Definitions, to the heresy.  They did not add to the Faith: as the body already has the antibody proteins but only puts them to work to form a defense against the foreign pathogen, so too the Fathers only erect from pre-existing materials a boundary marker which the Orthodox may not move.  The Fathers confessed the same Faith, but in different words to ensure it remained the same Faith.  The expression of Faith changes only so that the Faith can remain the same, something litrugists should keep in mind.

The iconography writes an icon only when he follows the canon the Church has laid down for the visual expression of her Faith. Otherwise he is a forger and a counterfeiter (like our deluded friend Lentz).  The icon is the expression of the Church, not personal agendas, and just like a counterfeiter tries to make his money look real but it has no value, so too the icongrapher who oversteps the Church's bounds.  That is why we appeal to the icons when we are asked about what we believe, because they are backed by the full Faith and Credit of the Church.

No Church Father is infallible: only Christ is infallible, and the Church's infallibility flows from her being His Body.  But that flows only when she acts as a Body, like in Ecumenical Council.  Any individual member cannot act infallibility, so why the claim of the alleged "visible head" to speak infallibly cannot be accepted.  So too, no one should expect every word of an individual Father to be infallible.  It is only in as much as they reflect the common Faith, between us and them and lived in the Church now, that they constitute the Consensus Patrum.  What they served, as I pointed out in my OP, as a witness between us and heretics, so when they claim that the Real Presence is an innovation, that we point to St. Ignatius etc.: they witenss to the Faith as we witness to the Faith.

Which is the point of my OP to the OP: merely extended Sola Scriptura to included Ecumenical Councils and certain Fathers misses the point.  These are not the source of Faith: they are witnesses, like the altar on the Jordan, to make sure we have kept the Faith.

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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2011, 11:31:27 AM »

It may help to remember that it was Holy Tradition that gave us the Bible. Not the other way around.

This is fundamental. Please always remind yourself of this when you have such worries.

Yes, Absolutely!

There is a difference between traditions and Holy Tradition.  Holy Tradition is what brings the Scriptures into focus.

 So many people read the Bible and find things that were never intended.  For example, the "Wealth and Health" doctrine in some Evangelical groups.  Or, some groups that say women can't cut their hair and have to wear dresses.   Or a fringe group that actually handles snakes in their service because they found a Bible passage that indicated if their faith is strong, they won't be bitten.   All of these groups look to Scriptures as justification for the traditions they developed in their own groups. 

In the early years of Christianity, there were no printing presses.  There weren't many copies of the Scriptures.  Most people couldn't read back then.  There was, however, the Holy Tradition that passed on the complete, true faith to the believers.

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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 11:47:42 AM »

I have the same battles, and the same doubts, and I have been Orthodox for at least 16 years.  I do not have a problem with Sacred Tradition as authoritative.  Christ Himself told us to keep the traditions that had been handed down to us.  However, my lifelong membership in the extreme right wing of the Lutheran Church up until my conversion put into me a healthy distrust of Bishops and Popes.  The squabbling over jurisdictions and the like that I see now seems to be what Christ was admonishing when He chastized James and John for wanting to sit at His right and left Hand.  I also believe that "Economy" is abused.  In fact, it is difficult to have any respect for the law (or canons) when all it takes is the word of a Bishop to ignor them.  In the end, it is my black and white nature that keeps me Orthodox.  I have to believe in something, so it may as well be this.  I have looked at nearly everything else, and it makes less sense to me than Orthodoxy.  I just keep pushing the "I believe" button and pray "I believe, Lord help my unbelief".

Recently I've been having some doubts about the episcopate and Sacred Tradition.

It just seems to me that the Lord's criticizing of the Pharisees and their traditions happen to line up pretty well with today's Sacred Tradition.

The Pharisees, who kept traditions, sat on the Seat of Moses for their authority. The bishops of the Church, who keep traditions, sit on the Seat of Peter for their authority.

Did Christ teach Sola Scriptura when He criticized the Pharisees and their traditions?

PS- Im honestly not trying to criticize the bishops or Church tradition, Im just a little puzzled by this.

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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2011, 12:19:18 PM »

The centrality of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, faith in the creed, the 2 great commandments, the Beatitudes, the 10 commandments, the golden rule, confession, the Eucharist etc. remain unchanged within the church. As years went on 'tradtions" like "St." Justinian, toll houses, the wreckless monk who never "judged" anybody (& avoided the tolls), etc. emerged and must be necessary for some. Tradition is also Sts. John Chrysostom, Maximos the confessor, Nil Sorsky, Maria Skobtsova etc. or expressed as the fruit of prayer like another poster posted in another thread:

Lord Bless My Enemies: A Prayer of St. Nikolai of Ochrid (Nazi prison camp survivor)

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Enemies have driven me into Thy embrace more than friends have.

Friends have bound me to earth, enemies have loosed me from earth and have demolished all my aspirations in the world.

Enemies have made me a stranger in worldly realms and an extraneous inhabitant of the world.

Just as a hunted animal finds safer shelter than an unhunted animal does, so have I, persecuted by enemies, found the safest sanctuary, having ensconced myself beneath Thy tabernacle, where neither friends nor enemies can slay my soul.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

They, rather than I, have confessed my sins before the world.

They have punished me, whenever I have hesitated to punish myself.

They have tormented me, whenever I have tried to flee torments.

They have scolded me, whenever I have flattered myself.

They have spat upon me, whenever I have filled myself with arrogance.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Whenever I have made myself wise, they have called me foolish.

Whenever I have made myself mighty, they have mocked me as though I were a dwarf.

Whenever I have wanted to lead people, they have shoved me into the background.

Whenever I have rushed to enrich myself, they have prevented me with an iron hand.

Whenever I thought that I would sleep peacefully, they have wakened me from sleep.

Whenever I have tried to build a home for a long and tranquil life, they have demolished it and driven me out.

Truly, enemies have cut me loose from the world and have stretched out my hands to the hem of Thy garment.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them.

Bless them and multiply them; multiply them and make them even more bitterly against me:

so that my fleeing to Thee may have no return;

so that all hope in men may be scattered like cobwebs;

so that absolute serenity may begin to reign in my soul;

so that my heart may become the grave of my two evil twins: arrogance and anger;

so that I might amass all my treasure in heaven;

so that I may for once be freed from self deception, which has entangled me in the dreadful web of illusory life.

Enemies have taught me to know what hardly anyone knows, that a person has no enemies in the world except himself.

One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends.

It is truly difficult for me to say who has done me more good and who has done me more evil in the world: friends or enemies.

Therefore bless, O Lord, both my friends and my enemies.

A slave curses enemies, for he does not understand.

But a son blesses them, for he understands. For a son knows that his enemies cannot touch his life. Therefore he freely steps among them and prays to God for them.

Bless my enemies, O Lord. Even I bless them and do not curse them. Amen.

Saint Nikolai was consecrated as a bishop of the Serbian Orthodox Church before World War II. He was arrested by the Nazis during their occupation of Yugoslavia, and spent the war as a prisoner at Dachau concentration camp. After the Communist takeover of his country, he was exiled and spent his last years at Saint Tikhon Monastery in South Canaan, Pennsylvania. He fell asleep in the Lord in 1956.

Things can be trying & I argue with no one there but there are great examples that inspire the faith in Christ also.
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Antiochian OC N.A.
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