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Author Topic: Church Invisible  (Read 13283 times) Average Rating: 0
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« Reply #225 on: January 10, 2012, 03:41:45 PM »

I would like to share with you some readings from the life of St. Nicholas Planas of Athens, Greece (1851 - 1932). St. Nicholas was known to communicate directly with the Saints. This perhaps will show you how the Orthodox Church is both spiritual and physical.

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He was compassionate, and had no care for wordly things or estates. Night and day he was absorbed in divine worship, and with his small parish of St. Panteleimon in Neo Kosmo which was comprised of thirteen families. The people loved him. His simplicity, his island piety, his kindness, his chastity, his lack of love for money, drew everyone to divine worship. Everyone wanted him to bless their homes, their stores. And he ran everywhere joyously. From aristocratic homes down to the poorest homes, he never kept a drachma on him. The poor always waited outside the church for him to distribute whatever he had in his pocket.

However, a certain priest without a parish of his own, in cooperation with the council members of St. Panteleimon, kicked him out of his parish and sent him to the Church of Saint John, ("the Hunter" as they called it then) in Vouliagimeni. The new parish was very poor and was comprised of eight families. His payment as a priest was one piece of meat from the fattened lamb of Meatfare Sunday or Christmas. This did not brother him, however, because fasting was most important in his life. So long as he had a church in which to liturgize, he was happy.

His having been kicked out of St. Panteleimon, however, bothered him a lot. One night, as he was leaving St. John to go home, he was crying on the road. The place was deserted at that hour. Suddenly he saw on his path a young lad said to him, "Why are you crying, Father?"....

"I'm crying, my child, because they kicked me out of St. Panteleimon's."
"Don't be said, Father. I am always with you."
"Who are you, my child?"
"I am Panteleimon, who lives in Neo Kosmo."

And immediately he vanished from in front of him.


Quote
Once he set out on his own to go to chapel in Peristeri, but he lost his way. He advanced, distressed and praying, without knowing where he was going, until he saw a young lad in front of him, saying to him, "Did you lose your way, Father? I will guide you." The young lad went in front and Father Nicholas went behind, and they reached the door of the church. Here he, himself, relates what happened: "As soon as we reached outside the door, I turned to give him thanks, and immediately he shone brilliantly, and I lost him."

When he liturgized, he wanted everything to contribute to the majesty of the Divine Liturgy. He chanted with such contrition that he would hear the angels chanting with him. Once, he asked a spiritual daughter of his whether she also heard the angels. "No, my Father, I don't hear them." Immediately he repented and said to himself, "I shouldn't have said it, I shouldn't have said it..."

For the duration of the half century in which he liturgized without a break, he never lacked prosphoro (holy bread used for the Holy Divine Liturgy). Always some woman would bring it the night before or some nearby bakery would provide it for him. One day the Matins (Orthros) had proceeded quite a way and no prophoro could be seen anywhere. He sent helpers to go to the women he knew always had prosphoro; he looked in the cupboards of the sanctury --nothing. He was distressed to the point that he started to cry. After such a continuance of liturgies for a cessation to occur now! Whereupon they saw him coming out of the Holy Royal Doors holding a prosphoro (the Sea only, not the whole loaf), which was still very warm and which he had found on the altar table. Moved with joy, he said, "My children, what a sign God did for me!" All miracles he called signs. He did not delve too deeply into these phenomena; he considered them natural, out of his great faith. And he did not comment very much about them, so as not to put on himself.

One night, the eve of the feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Phocas was dawning. One of his spiritual children saw a majestic priest behind Father Nicholas, who was observing how they were chanting the Holy Divine Liturgy. When she metnioned this to the elder, he said to her, bringing his finger to his lips, "Shhh! It is the Hieromartyr Phocas."

source

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If you attended our services, particularly those of Holy Week, you would see the emphasis placed on the Spiritual.

Do not let your prejudices blind you to what we really believe.
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« Reply #226 on: January 10, 2012, 03:52:54 PM »

If there is a sense of unity between believers in different places- and there is, because I'm always happy when I walk past a church and it says 'Orthodox' Wink- this is only important because the Church itself is a real, physical thing that exists. The 'invisible' spirit of being brothers and sisters is a reflection of the physical fact of the Church, not the other way around.
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« Reply #227 on: January 10, 2012, 07:11:08 PM »

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
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« Reply #228 on: January 10, 2012, 07:39:16 PM »

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.

I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.
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« Reply #229 on: January 10, 2012, 07:42:42 PM »

If there is a sense of unity between believers in different places- and there is, because I'm always happy when I walk past a church and it says 'Orthodox' Wink- this is only important because the Church itself is a real, physical thing that exists. The 'invisible' spirit of being brothers and sisters is a reflection of the physical fact of the Church, not the other way around.

But Biro, aren't you just happy when you come across another Christian in this world no matter who they are of what part of the church they belong to? It's nice that you feel good about seeing a church building as well but i feel a little sad that you might only rejoice because it says the word 'Orthodox'.
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« Reply #230 on: January 10, 2012, 07:48:37 PM »

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.

I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.

This is where the communion of the saints come in.
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« Reply #231 on: January 10, 2012, 07:48:58 PM »

OK, now we are getting somewhere!

1) To 'walk by faith' for us does not mean that one walks alone.  This walk is an exodus, which is never a solo flight.  The exodus is a communal act. 
2) The subject of Romans is the Church of Rome: he is not speaking to an 'invisible' church but a real, visible community.
3) Faith is not an intellectual process, but rather as one who is 'faithful,' following God.  Again, we understand the argument of circumcised and uncircumcised as matters of a visible Church, a single Body of Christ that is indeed as obvious as the communities which St. Paul founded and wrote letters to.


If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all? [/size]

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« Reply #232 on: January 10, 2012, 07:54:43 PM »

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.
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« Reply #233 on: January 10, 2012, 07:55:55 PM »

What do you mean by 'in heaven'?  The reason I ask is that, Scripturally speaking, being 'in heaven' is a temporary estate prior to the Resurrection and return of all.  All are resurrected to live here in the New Jerusalem (c.f. Isaiah 66).

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.

I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.
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« Reply #234 on: January 10, 2012, 07:57:40 PM »

FP- why do you separate the idea of going to a service from something that can get you into Heaven? Are we not commanded to worship God?
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« Reply #235 on: January 10, 2012, 08:00:18 PM »

In the Book of Acts, St. Paul usually began his evangelism by starting at the synagogue.  Very early in the history of the Church, dedicated chapels and communities gathered (when not under direct persecution).

The fact is that if you want to find out about the Faith, you have to meet people.  That is how it has always been transmitted.  That's what folks here are encouraging you to do.


So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.
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« Reply #236 on: January 10, 2012, 08:01:14 PM »

Erroneous conclusion. God will save whomever he will save. He can save within what has been reveled to us or he can save someone outside of it as an exception.   That does not make The Church Invisible. The Lord clearly established his Church upon Peter's confession of faith. He promised that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The Church established itself in a visible manner, became organized and as we read in Scripture acted in a concrete and visible manner.

He didnt say:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build an idea, and the gates of hell may or may not prevail against it.

That was part of a wider question/statement to Father Giryus which you've chopped up.

Quote
Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
And once again forgive me if i won't engage with you.

Quote
Faith is not a mere "idea". The Church is also not merely an "Idea". God incarnated in a real way into the World. We even celebrated it as a big holiday recently. Why would the incarnation be real and everything else merely be a  thought or a notion?  
Where exactly did i use the word "idea" or suggest that it was some kind of idea? I'll answer for you, i didn't.


Yeah, I do mind..When did The Church founded on Pentecost, spoken of in the Book of Acts and many other places in Scripture disband, cease to exist or become invisible?

It's not a hard question. You dont even need to give an exact date, you can just say something like "around the time of Constantine, "Or when the last Apostle died"

I understand your reluctance. If The Church the one spoken of in Scripture, did not physically cease to exist, then you may find that youre out on a limb.

Where exactly did i use the word "idea" or suggest that it was some kind of idea? I'll answer for you, i didn't.


But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?

So are you trying to say The Church is actually existing but we don't know where it ends or whom it may include? Well, we also say The Church can include people physically outside of it by the grace of God. But it also has an obvious and continuous  physical existence. The organization that was founded on Pentecost still exists as a matter of historical fact. Therefore, when did that Physical part of The Church disband, cease to exist or become invisible?  

Many Protestants say they began their conversion journey into the Orthodox Church when they realized that the original, historic Church still exists. They were so busy being appalled by the Roman Catholic Church that they did not realize they were not seeing the whole picture.



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« Reply #237 on: January 10, 2012, 08:01:27 PM »

OK, now we are getting somewhere!

1) To 'walk by faith' for us does not mean that one walks alone.  This walk is an exodus, which is never a solo flight.  The exodus is a communal act.  
2) The subject of Romans is the Church of Rome: he is not speaking to an 'invisible' church but a real, visible community.
3) Faith is not an intellectual process, but rather as one who is 'faithful,' following God.  Again, we understand the argument of circumcised and uncircumcised as matters of a visible Church, a single Body of Christ that is indeed as obvious as the communities which St. Paul founded and wrote letters to.


If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all?


Forgive me i don't want to seem like i'm arguing against your knowledge, i know squat compared to you. I find that hard to accept when i read of Peter and Paul's experiences on their faith journey and many others in scripture.
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« Reply #238 on: January 10, 2012, 08:07:31 PM »


But, Sts. Peter and Paul worked as part of a greater structure!

Remember St. James and the Apostles who remained in Jerusalem?  Did Sts. Peter and Paul ignore them?

The disadvantage we all have when reading the Bible in modern English is that the 'you' that is now used for singular and plural once was only to a group: the epistles were letters to communities, not to individuals.  There is a whole corporate notion that has been lost because we read 'you' as 'to me' the person when it is 'to you all'.


Forgive me i don't want to seem like i'm arguing against your knowledge, i know squat compared to you. I find that hard to accept when i read of Peter and Paul's experiences on their faith journey and many others in scripture.


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« Reply #239 on: January 10, 2012, 08:09:52 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.
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« Reply #240 on: January 10, 2012, 08:19:51 PM »

FP- why do you separate the idea of going to a service from something that can get you into Heaven? Are we not commanded to worship God?

Yes we are but it's more than that as well. Worship is more than an act (although it can be that) but it is evidenced by the trail that we all leave behind us as we go about our day or week. That will tell you what (or who) people worship, not what they do on a Sunday morning.
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« Reply #241 on: January 10, 2012, 08:26:50 PM »

What do you mean by 'in heaven'?  The reason I ask is that, Scripturally speaking, being 'in heaven' is a temporary estate prior to the Resurrection and return of all.  All are resurrected to live here in the New Jerusalem (c.f. Isaiah 66).

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.

I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.

#laughs

I knew when i clicked "post" that someone would pick up on that phrase.

For the purpose of just this post, i simply mean broadly speaking -- in that direction -- heavenward bound.

 Grin
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« Reply #242 on: January 10, 2012, 08:52:16 PM »

 Cheesy

Yes, but the same is true of 'heavenward bound'.

In Orthodox terminology, we tend not really to talk about salvation as a destination, but a process.  It goes something like this:

I often ask, 'Is Jesus the way to salvation?'  Most people reflexively answer, 'Yes.'

Then I say, 'No.'  After I get the puzzled look I am hoping for, I answer, 'Salvation is the way to Jesus Christ.'

There is a fundamentally different way of looking at what we are trying to accomplish: are we merely looking for Elysium or Valhallah, or are we seeking an eternal union with Christ?  The question of salvation isn't all that complicated when you think of it in that way.  It is not a place, but a union where God as He truly Is is no longer avoidable as it is now.

The problem with heresy is that it sets human expectations of God in a false manner, and can lead one to reject the True Christ, the one behind the name.  We do not want to forsake the truth of who He is and reduce His Name to a magic incantation.  It is all about content.


What do you mean by 'in heaven'?  The reason I ask is that, Scripturally speaking, being 'in heaven' is a temporary estate prior to the Resurrection and return of all.  All are resurrected to live here in the New Jerusalem (c.f. Isaiah 66).

No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.

I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.

#laughs

I knew when i clicked "post" that someone would pick up on that phrase.

For the purpose of just this post, i simply mean broadly speaking -- in that direction -- heavenward bound.

 Grin

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« Reply #243 on: January 10, 2012, 10:09:34 PM »

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.

It's not either/or, but both.

Yes, we are to feed the hungry, heal the sick, visit those in prison, etc., however we are also to partake of the Eucharist and join in fellowship with one another.

Look at the Apostles. They went out into the world proclaiming the Good News, but they also came together and worshiped in the Temple. After Pentecost they proclaimed the Good News on Solomon's Portico because they were not allowed back in the Temple. Churches were established throughout the Mediterranean. We have Paul's letters to these Churches.

When St. Herman of Alaska evangelized the Aleut Native Americans during Russia's colonization of Alaska, one of the reasons they trusted him is because he would negotiate with the Russian fur traders on their behalf. He then used the Cyrillic alphabet to put the Aleut language into writing, and then translated the Gospel and all of the Service books from Russian and Greek into the Aleut language.

So he met the Native Americans where they were at as fur traders, helped them in their trade, and then brought them into the Temple.

Many Orthodox parishes in the US and throughout the world either have their own or work with different ministries to help those less fortunate. My parish has a food pantry to feed the hungry. Although Orthodox Christians, and Orthodox Christian Organizations such as the IOCC are happy to go out into the fields and "reap the harvest," (John 4:34-36) just as Philip invited Nathanial, so too do we invite all to "Come and See." (John 1:45-46)

I will leave you with a quote that a friend of mine who is a priest once said,

"Our faith is more than just a Sunday faith. It is not just something that we come once a week, or only at Christmas or Easter to participate in. But our faith is what permeates our lives. It is the glue that keeps our life together. And it is the fuel that keeps our life going. Our faith is not just a Sunday faith. It is a way of life for us. We don't just leave Christ at the door of the Church and visit Him only on Sundays. Yes, Sundays are important, but so is the rest of the week." Fr. Christos Mars, Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA
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« Reply #244 on: January 10, 2012, 10:48:51 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through. To my thinking the historical question is pivotal. If the Original Church still exists it would have important implications for your theories.

I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  

And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
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« Reply #245 on: January 11, 2012, 08:35:17 AM »

Yes, but the same is true of 'heavenward bound'.

In Orthodox terminology, we tend not really to talk about salvation as a destination, but a process.  It goes something like this:

I often ask, 'Is Jesus the way to salvation?'  Most people reflexively answer, 'Yes.'

Then I say, 'No.'  After I get the puzzled look I am hoping for, I answer, 'Salvation is the way to Jesus Christ.'

Without wishing to be in any way disrespectful Father this is a good example of why people like myself get very worried when we read statements like yours. Especially as scripture is held in such high regard that everything else is measured against it.

Jesus says "I am the way...". He is the one mediator (1 Tim 2:5) between God and man, The door (John 10:9), the bridge between Father God and sinful man is The Christ, Jesus.

I'm not meaning to be nit-picky either but i am a bit


Quote
There is a fundamentally different way of looking at what we are trying to accomplish: are we merely looking for Elysium or Valhallah, or are we seeking an eternal union with Christ?  The question of salvation isn't all that complicated when you think of it in that way.  It is not a place, but a union where God as He truly Is is no longer avoidable as it is now.
I agree completely, salvation isn't a place but more of a state of being. A union with Christ becoming joint heirs of the promise and a reconciliation to Father God.

Quote
The problem with heresy is that it sets human expectations of God in a false manner, and can lead one to reject the True Christ, the one behind the name. 
I can easily see how that can be the case.

Quote
We do not want to forsake the truth of who He is and reduce His Name to a magic incantation.  It is all about content.
Amen
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« Reply #246 on: January 11, 2012, 08:48:03 AM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

Quote
I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.

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« Reply #247 on: January 11, 2012, 08:55:13 AM »

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.

It's not either/or, but both.

Yes, we are to feed the hungry, heal the sick, visit those in prison, etc., however we are also to partake of the Eucharist and join in fellowship with one another.

Look at the Apostles. They went out into the world proclaiming the Good News, but they also came together and worshiped in the Temple. After Pentecost they proclaimed the Good News on Solomon's Portico because they were not allowed back in the Temple. Churches were established throughout the Mediterranean. We have Paul's letters to these Churches.

When St. Herman of Alaska evangelized the Aleut Native Americans during Russia's colonization of Alaska, one of the reasons they trusted him is because he would negotiate with the Russian fur traders on their behalf. He then used the Cyrillic alphabet to put the Aleut language into writing, and then translated the Gospel and all of the Service books from Russian and Greek into the Aleut language.

So he met the Native Americans where they were at as fur traders, helped them in their trade, and then brought them into the Temple.

Many Orthodox parishes in the US and throughout the world either have their own or work with different ministries to help those less fortunate. My parish has a food pantry to feed the hungry. Although Orthodox Christians, and Orthodox Christian Organizations such as the IOCC are happy to go out into the fields and "reap the harvest," (John 4:34-36) just as Philip invited Nathanial, so too do we invite all to "Come and See." (John 1:45-46)

I will leave you with a quote that a friend of mine who is a priest once said,

"Our faith is more than just a Sunday faith. It is not just something that we come once a week, or only at Christmas or Easter to participate in. But our faith is what permeates our lives. It is the glue that keeps our life together. And it is the fuel that keeps our life going. Our faith is not just a Sunday faith. It is a way of life for us. We don't just leave Christ at the door of the Church and visit Him only on Sundays. Yes, Sundays are important, but so is the rest of the week." Fr. Christos Mars, Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA

I realise that the OC does a lot for charity and you all have regular fasting times and for giving alms, which is again to your credit. I can't remember the last time our church fasted where the cause wasn't an issue over finances, even though the scripture says to do it regularly. To our shame.

It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.
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« Reply #248 on: January 11, 2012, 10:13:33 AM »

I've met a lot of people who claim to be part of the "invisible church," but strangely these people are quite visible to me.



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« Reply #249 on: January 11, 2012, 10:41:37 AM »

If the church were invisible, how would anybody know it was a church?  Huh
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« Reply #250 on: January 11, 2012, 11:34:47 AM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

Quote
I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.



I think I understand. You are committed to fighting on your own ground. You want to play Scripture throw-down., shoot out at the Proof Text Corral. I get it.  We have a very different paradigm that we use as a lens.   Yours is a judicial approach with you as the sole judge/interpreter. It's like when the Catholics say, "with Protestants everyone is the Pope except the Pope"

This is why it didnt compute when some folks urged you to actually attend an Orthodox Liturgy. Authentic Christianity, the Original Form if I may be so bold as to say, is very experiential. Yours seems to be a laundry list of dictum's that you agree with and then you get some sort of spiritual seal as you mentioned. 

The issue is broader than the "Invisible Church". It's how you develop an internal logic that get's you to that conclusion. You do it by appointing yourself as sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of passages from Scripture. Our reaction is "Who are you again?"..

We approach Scripture much differently. We ask a simple question, how has this issue been understood over the two thousand year history of The Christian Church. It's hard to imagine that Saint after Saint, all the Doctors of the Church, Great ecumenical teachers, all the Councils,, Bishops, Monks and Patriarchs missed the question, only to come to 2012 and Bob on the internet does a re-reading and finds that The Church is really Invisible. 

You do have the luxury of having  many former Protestants here who know how to play in your sandbox and don't mind dusting off their skills. But at the end of the day your personal opinion, which runs counter to 2000 years of The Christian Church's understanding has no weight, no matter how logical or well crafted your arguments. Christianity did not grow out of the soil of American rugged individualism.

So again, the pivotal question remains, when did the Original Church cease to exist? If it never did ( and I realize that's news to most all Protestants who have only looked at Rome carefully) that fact has enormous implications for you.   

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« Reply #251 on: January 11, 2012, 11:38:41 AM »

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.

It's not either/or, but both.

Yes, we are to feed the hungry, heal the sick, visit those in prison, etc., however we are also to partake of the Eucharist and join in fellowship with one another.

Look at the Apostles. They went out into the world proclaiming the Good News, but they also came together and worshiped in the Temple. After Pentecost they proclaimed the Good News on Solomon's Portico because they were not allowed back in the Temple. Churches were established throughout the Mediterranean. We have Paul's letters to these Churches.

When St. Herman of Alaska evangelized the Aleut Native Americans during Russia's colonization of Alaska, one of the reasons they trusted him is because he would negotiate with the Russian fur traders on their behalf. He then used the Cyrillic alphabet to put the Aleut language into writing, and then translated the Gospel and all of the Service books from Russian and Greek into the Aleut language.

So he met the Native Americans where they were at as fur traders, helped them in their trade, and then brought them into the Temple.

Many Orthodox parishes in the US and throughout the world either have their own or work with different ministries to help those less fortunate. My parish has a food pantry to feed the hungry. Although Orthodox Christians, and Orthodox Christian Organizations such as the IOCC are happy to go out into the fields and "reap the harvest," (John 4:34-36) just as Philip invited Nathanial, so too do we invite all to "Come and See." (John 1:45-46)

I will leave you with a quote that a friend of mine who is a priest once said,

"Our faith is more than just a Sunday faith. It is not just something that we come once a week, or only at Christmas or Easter to participate in. But our faith is what permeates our lives. It is the glue that keeps our life together. And it is the fuel that keeps our life going. Our faith is not just a Sunday faith. It is a way of life for us. We don't just leave Christ at the door of the Church and visit Him only on Sundays. Yes, Sundays are important, but so is the rest of the week." Fr. Christos Mars, Annunciation Cathedral, Atlanta, GA

I realise that the OC does a lot for charity and you all have regular fasting times and for giving alms, which is again to your credit. I can't remember the last time our church fasted where the cause wasn't an issue over finances, even though the scripture says to do it regularly. To our shame.

It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.

Which Church do you belong to?
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« Reply #252 on: January 11, 2012, 12:12:40 PM »

Well, that's my fault for not being clearer: the Church does not teach salvation as a process without Jesus Christ.  I was not prepared for you to assume that salvation could ever be separated from the Christ given your experiences here.  The very fact that one begins the journey means that He is part of what we do because He is aiding us.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  This path of salvation, for us, necessitates the Holy Mysteries, foremost of which is the Eucharist, the real Body and Blood.  I forgot that you do not assume this in your definition, and so it was my error for not being clearer.

However, in all this talk about 'heaven' and 'salvation' without talking about this union with Christ is dangerous.  It leads to universalism or, worse yet, Calvinism.

But, I don't want to stray too far, so let's get back to the topic: salvation is the transformative process in which we gradually come into union with Christ through His Church.  It is not a goal or a place, but a verb.  You could even use it as a pronoun, but a pronoun for Christ (He is our Salvation).  But, as I mentioned before, the Orthodox do not use the word so much largely because we do not want people to forget that this salvation process is all about Jesus Christ.

This is why, when you do come to an Orthodox service, you will hear many hymns referencing the theology of the Councils defining Christ's personhood.  This is how important the proper definition of His personhood is to us: we give up having 'fun' hymns for theological ones precisely because this definition of who He is defines what direction the path will go.

When you boil your theology down to 'Jesus is the way to salvation,' it simply is too imprecise to be relied upon.  This 'Jesus' could be handing out tickets to the Happy Hunting Grounds.  The Islamic paradise has no Divine center: it is about receiving material rewards (i.e. virgins, etc.).  There are many people who theorize about whether Buddhists can be saved without wondering if the Buddhists would even want to be united with Christ.  This shows how far off of Christ this definition of salvation can get.

The path to Christ can only be trod with His help, just as God helped all those before us in their exoduses.  We can accomplish nothing without Him.  This is why we need to receive the Holy Mysteries, to strengthen us for this task, but even the strengthening itself is through union with Him.  Remember what we believe about the Eucharist.  It all ties together.

I think this proves that slogans ("No creed but Christ... and, er, this creed!") do not serve well to define what we mean.  This is why the Church itself, as a visible institution is necessary: there are simply too many opportunities for error without it.  If we cannot look at the Scriptures and automatically all come to the same conclusions, then this means that we need something greater than ourselves to accomplish the task.

If someone refuses to be part of this, what benefit is it to him?  So, someone decides to identify with an 'invisible church' because he does not like the institution... what does that mean if the institution is right?  The problem also is that if the institution is wrong, then Christ Himself was wrong and the gates of hell have prevailed in derailing the 'visible church' from the truth. 

FP, I have enjoyed our exchanges.  I have a lot of new converts and inquirers, and this exchange has helped me sharpen up my skills.  Thank you!  Smiley





Yes, but the same is true of 'heavenward bound'.

In Orthodox terminology, we tend not really to talk about salvation as a destination, but a process.  It goes something like this:

I often ask, 'Is Jesus the way to salvation?'  Most people reflexively answer, 'Yes.'

Then I say, 'No.'  After I get the puzzled look I am hoping for, I answer, 'Salvation is the way to Jesus Christ.'

Without wishing to be in any way disrespectful Father this is a good example of why people like myself get very worried when we read statements like yours. Especially as scripture is held in such high regard that everything else is measured against it.

Jesus says "I am the way...". He is the one mediator (1 Tim 2:5) between God and man, The door (John 10:9), the bridge between Father God and sinful man is The Christ, Jesus.

I'm not meaning to be nit-picky either but i am a bit


Quote
There is a fundamentally different way of looking at what we are trying to accomplish: are we merely looking for Elysium or Valhallah, or are we seeking an eternal union with Christ?  The question of salvation isn't all that complicated when you think of it in that way.  It is not a place, but a union where God as He truly Is is no longer avoidable as it is now.
I agree completely, salvation isn't a place but more of a state of being. A union with Christ becoming joint heirs of the promise and a reconciliation to Father God.

Quote
The problem with heresy is that it sets human expectations of God in a false manner, and can lead one to reject the True Christ, the one behind the name. 
I can easily see how that can be the case.

Quote
We do not want to forsake the truth of who He is and reduce His Name to a magic incantation.  It is all about content.
Amen
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« Reply #253 on: January 11, 2012, 12:24:45 PM »

I realise that the OC does a lot for charity and you all have regular fasting times and for giving alms, which is again to your credit. I can't remember the last time our church fasted where the cause wasn't an issue over finances, even though the scripture says to do it regularly. To our shame.

It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.

Fountain Pen, I'm really quite flabbergasted and don't know what to tell you.

You have said Orthodoxy focuses too much on the physical, and we have demonstrated to you how we focus on the physical and the spiritual.

You asked if the main focus was to draw people into a building or to make believiers out of them. I demonstrated how we do both, and you say our motivations are purely humanitarian in nature and have nothing to do with spirituality. Who are you to judge our motivations? Who are you to say that these efforts don't ultimately lead to the salvation of souls?

I am not sure how you can read the account I provided of St. Herman of Alaska, and say that his efforts to help the Aleuts were purely Humanitarian. The fact that you can attend an Orthodox service in Alaska today that is populated by the Aleut Native Americans and hear the service in the Aleut language is a testimony to the soul saving work that St. Herman did.

May I ask, have you ever attended an Orthodox service? Have you ever participated in Orthodox parish life?

I really feel like you are making many judgments about us without having ever experienced what Orthodox praxis is like. This is not some lure to have you come in just for the sake of coming in, but like anything else in life, until you experience it for yourself, you really can't make an accurate judgment. I can sit and tell you all day what it is like to commute from my home in New Jersey to my office in New York City, but until you were to do it for yourself, you wouldn't be able to really understand what a hassle it is to commute 2 hours each way, and take 4 trains to get to work.

Perhaps rather than judging the Orthodox Church on the merits that you believe to be true, perhaps you should start asking what God says is true.

When you read our history, educate yourself on our beliefs, read how the saints of the Church have lived the faith, I think you will see that both our beliefs and our praxis are in line with Christ and the Apostle's teachings of what the Church should be.

When I read your OP, you water down our beliefs to an "internal mess [that] seems remarkably similar to how the rest of Christendom claim to be guided by the Spirit and believe a multitude of different things backed up with the odd patristic quote or two from various denominations jurisdictions."

Frankly, that is insulting to us and our history. It also tells me that you really don't know much about our Church.

You provided an assortment of scripture quotes as to why you believe the Church is invisible, and have basically either argued or flat out refused to listen to our reasoning as to why we believe otherwise.

What is your motivation for coming on this board?

This is an obscure forum specific to the Eastern forms of Christianity.

Did you come on here to prove us all wrong? Or have you come here to listen and learn? Because frankly, if you've come to do the latter, it really does seem that you've come for the former.

I don't know that providing you with more proof of what our Church is and is not will do any good, as it seems to me your mind is already made up.

Am I wrong?
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« Reply #254 on: January 11, 2012, 12:29:30 PM »

Quote from: FountainPen
It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.

Mt. 25:34-46

   34Then shall the king say to them that shall be on his right hand: Come, ye blessed of my Father, possess you the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

    35For I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in:

    36Naked, and you covered me: sick, and you visited me: I was in prison, and you came to me.

    37Then shall the just answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, and fed thee; thirsty, and gave thee drink?

    38And when did we see thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and covered thee?

    39Or when did we see thee sick or in prison, and came to thee?

    40And the king answering, shall say to them: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me.

    41Then he shall say to them also that shall be on his left hand: Depart from me, you cursed, into everlasting fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels.

    42For I was hungry, and you gave me not to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave me not to drink.

    43I was a stranger, and you took me not in: naked, and you covered me not: sick and in prison, and you did not visit me.

    44Then they also shall answer him, saying: Lord, when did we see thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?

    45Then he shall answer them, saying: Amen I say to you, as long as you did it not to one of these least, neither did you do it to me.

    46And these shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting.
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« Reply #255 on: January 11, 2012, 12:41:58 PM »

  For us, alsm are a spiritual encounter with Christ.  From Matthew 25:

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


It is not described here as merely humanitarian (which is important enough if you love others as God loves you), but a mystical encounter with Christ!



I realise that the OC does a lot for charity and you all have regular fasting times and for giving alms, which is again to your credit. I can't remember the last time our church fasted where the cause wasn't an issue over finances, even though the scripture says to do it regularly. To our shame.

It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.
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« Reply #256 on: January 11, 2012, 01:24:51 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

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I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.



I think I understand. You are committed to fighting on your own ground. You want to play Scripture throw-down., shoot out at the Proof Text Corral. I get it.  We have a very different paradigm that we use as a lens.   Yours is a judicial approach with you as the sole judge/interpreter. It's like when the Catholics say, "with Protestants everyone is the Pope except the Pope"

This is why it didnt compute when some folks urged you to actually attend an Orthodox Liturgy. Authentic Christianity, the Original Form if I may be so bold as to say, is very experiential. Yours seems to be a laundry list of dictum's that you agree with and then you get some sort of spiritual seal as you mentioned.  

The issue is broader than the "Invisible Church". It's how you develop an internal logic that get's you to that conclusion. You do it by appointing yourself as sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of passages from Scripture. Our reaction is "Who are you again?"..

We approach Scripture much differently. We ask a simple question, how has this issue been understood over the two thousand year history of The Christian Church. It's hard to imagine that Saint after Saint, all the Doctors of the Church, Great ecumenical teachers, all the Councils,, Bishops, Monks and Patriarchs missed the question, only to come to 2012 and Bob on the internet does a re-reading and finds that The Church is really Invisible.  

You do have the luxury of having  many former Protestants here who know how to play in your sandbox and don't mind dusting off their skills. But at the end of the day your personal opinion, which runs counter to 2000 years of The Christian Church's understanding has no weight, no matter how logical or well crafted your arguments. Christianity did not grow out of the soil of American rugged individualism.

So again, the pivotal question remains, when did the Original Church cease to exist? If it never did ( and I realize that's news to most all Protestants who have only looked at Rome carefully) that fact has enormous implications for you.    



Oh i used to love this game! This game is called -- If I Cover My Eyes That Means You Can't See Me -- and we all learn it when we're kids. We usually grow out of it though.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 01:26:25 PM by FountainPen » Logged

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« Reply #257 on: January 11, 2012, 01:50:29 PM »

Well, that's my fault for not being clearer: the Church does not teach salvation as a process without Jesus Christ.  I was not prepared for you to assume that salvation could ever be separated from the Christ given your experiences here.  The very fact that one begins the journey means that He is part of what we do because He is aiding us.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  This path of salvation, for us, necessitates the Holy Mysteries, foremost of which is the Eucharist, the real Body and Blood.  I forgot that you do not assume this in your definition, and so it was my error for not being clearer.
Thank you for being patient and explaining further.

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However, in all this talk about 'heaven' and 'salvation' without talking about this union with Christ is dangerous.  It leads to universalism or, worse yet, Calvinism.

But, I don't want to stray too far, so let's get back to the topic: salvation is the transformative process in which we gradually come into union with Christ through His Church.  
Being transformed by the renewing of our minds, yes. However, some aspects of salvation are process and some are firsts and instantaneous.

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It is not a goal or a place, but a verb.  You could even use it as a pronoun, but a pronoun for Christ (He is our Salvation).  But, as I mentioned before, the Orthodox do not use the word so much largely because we do not want people to forget that this salvation process is all about Jesus Christ.
Right, i see what you mean.

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This is why, when you do come to an Orthodox service, you will hear many hymns referencing the theology of the Councils defining Christ's personhood.  This is how important the proper definition of His personhood is to us: we give up having 'fun' hymns for theological ones precisely because this definition of who He is defines what direction the path will go.
I never cared for the 'fun' hymns as unless they are doctrinally accurate (hardly ever) there's a danger that you end up believing the lyrics to the songs you're humming during the day rather than actual scripture.

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When you boil your theology down to 'Jesus is the way to salvation,' it simply is too imprecise to be relied upon.  
I agree, it never simply boils down to that.

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This 'Jesus' could be handing out tickets to the Happy Hunting Grounds.  The Islamic paradise has no Divine center: it is about receiving material rewards (i.e. virgins, etc.).  There are many people who theorize about whether Buddhists can be saved without wondering if the Buddhists would even want to be united with Christ.  This shows how far off of Christ this definition of salvation can get.
Right.

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The path to Christ can only be trod with His help, just as God helped all those before us in their exoduses.  We can accomplish nothing without Him.  
Amen

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This is why we need to receive the Holy Mysteries, to strengthen us for this task, but even the strengthening itself is through union with Him.  Remember what we believe about the Eucharist.  It all ties together.
Yes, i mentioned to someone only today that i think i need to look at what you believe about the Eucharist. Other practices might not seem so alarming if i understand that more fully i'm sure.

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I think this proves that slogans ("No creed but Christ... and, er, this creed!") do not serve well to define what we mean.  This is why the Church itself, as a visible institution is necessary: there are simply too many opportunities for error without it.  If we cannot look at the Scriptures and automatically all come to the same conclusions, then this means that we need something greater than ourselves to accomplish the task.

If someone refuses to be part of this, what benefit is it to him?  So, someone decides to identify with an 'invisible church' because he does not like the institution... what does that mean if the institution is right?  The problem also is that if the institution is wrong, then Christ Himself was wrong and the gates of hell have prevailed in derailing the 'visible church' from the truth.  

FP, I have enjoyed our exchanges.  I have a lot of new converts and inquirers, and this exchange has helped me sharpen up my skills.  Thank you!  Smiley
You're welcome and i appreciate very much you giving your time, thank you Father.



« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 01:51:17 PM by FountainPen » Logged

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« Reply #258 on: January 11, 2012, 02:08:42 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

Quote
I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.



I think I understand. You are committed to fighting on your own ground. You want to play Scripture throw-down., shoot out at the Proof Text Corral. I get it.  We have a very different paradigm that we use as a lens.   Yours is a judicial approach with you as the sole judge/interpreter. It's like when the Catholics say, "with Protestants everyone is the Pope except the Pope"

This is why it didnt compute when some folks urged you to actually attend an Orthodox Liturgy. Authentic Christianity, the Original Form if I may be so bold as to say, is very experiential. Yours seems to be a laundry list of dictum's that you agree with and then you get some sort of spiritual seal as you mentioned.  

The issue is broader than the "Invisible Church". It's how you develop an internal logic that get's you to that conclusion. You do it by appointing yourself as sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of passages from Scripture. Our reaction is "Who are you again?"..

We approach Scripture much differently. We ask a simple question, how has this issue been understood over the two thousand year history of The Christian Church. It's hard to imagine that Saint after Saint, all the Doctors of the Church, Great ecumenical teachers, all the Councils,, Bishops, Monks and Patriarchs missed the question, only to come to 2012 and Bob on the internet does a re-reading and finds that The Church is really Invisible.  

You do have the luxury of having  many former Protestants here who know how to play in your sandbox and don't mind dusting off their skills. But at the end of the day your personal opinion, which runs counter to 2000 years of The Christian Church's understanding has no weight, no matter how logical or well crafted your arguments. Christianity did not grow out of the soil of American rugged individualism.

So again, the pivotal question remains, when did the Original Church cease to exist? If it never did ( and I realize that's news to most all Protestants who have only looked at Rome carefully) that fact has enormous implications for you.    



Oh i used to love this game! This game is called -- If I Cover My Eyes That Means You Can't See Me -- and we all learn it when we're kids. We usually grow out of it though.

Ummm. .  huh ?

Lets try again then.. If you have an illness reading about the various treatments and medications will not cure you. Even though it is wise to learn all you can, you need to actually show up at the Hospital and have the surgery.

The nature of the Church is settled theology. Bob, musing on the internet, does not have enough weight to overturn what is long settled.

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« Reply #259 on: January 11, 2012, 02:26:39 PM »

Fountain Pen, I'm really quite flabbergasted and don't know what to tell you.

You have said Orthodoxy focuses too much on the physical, and we have demonstrated to you how we focus on the physical and the spiritual.

You asked if the main focus was to draw people into a building or to make believers out of them. I demonstrated how we do both, and you say our motivations are purely humanitarian in nature and have nothing to do with spirituality. Who are you to judge our motivations? Who are you to say that these efforts don't ultimately lead to the salvation of souls?

I apologise Handmaiden, it wasn't my intention to upset you at all. I didn't feel i was judging motives but actions. If i can explain -- when people feed the poor and it isn't a mission headed up with a preacher making a big fuss about saving the lost and telling them about Jesus, unless there is activity of people preaching and teaching the gospel, such as there is when our church has sent a group out to do a homeless soup run, then i am thinking it's purely (and rightly) humanitarian. We do all need to care for those less fortunate than ourselves and sometimes we are the less fortunate and need others to help.

I should have asked a clear question, I'm sorry.

I'm not saying the way our church did it was correct, i don't think it was and it doesn't matter anyway. I was simply trying to establish what happened in these activities and whether any preaching or witnessing happened.

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I am not sure how you can read the account I provided of St. Herman of Alaska, and say that his efforts to help the Aleuts were purely Humanitarian. The fact that you can attend an Orthodox service in Alaska today that is populated by the Aleut Native Americans and hear the service in the Aleut language is a testimony to the soul saving work that St. Herman did.
Yes, and i agree.

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May I ask, have you ever attended an Orthodox service? Have you ever participated in Orthodox parish life?
No, my first encounter with it was when a friend expressed an interest.

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I really feel like you are making many judgments about us without having ever experienced what Orthodox praxis is like. This is not some lure to have you come in just for the sake of coming in, but like anything else in life, until you experience it for yourself, you really can't make an accurate judgment. I can sit and tell you all day what it is like to commute from my home in New Jersey to my office in New York City, but until you were to do it for yourself, you wouldn't be able to really understand what a hassle it is to commute 2 hours each way, and take 4 trains to get to work.
I appreciate that Handmaiden but your churches are not so accessible here as they might be where you are and even if i did have two hours to hop on a train into London on a Sunday morning, i don't think it's a good idea going along to something i know very little about.

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Perhaps rather than judging the Orthodox Church on the merits that you believe to be true, perhaps you should start asking what God says is true.

When you read our history, educate yourself on our beliefs, read how the saints of the Church have lived the faith, I think you will see that both our beliefs and our praxis are in line with Christ and the Apostle's teachings of what the Church should be.
I am doing that and what is coming up in these threads is the result of my reading about the practice and beliefs of Orthodoxy. I'm trying to line the things i'm reading up to scripture to see if what i'm learning is true or not.

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When I read your OP, you water down our beliefs to an "internal mess [that] seems remarkably similar to how the rest of Christendom claim to be guided by the Spirit and believe a multitude of different things backed up with the odd patristic quote or two from various denominations jurisdictions."

Frankly, that is insulting to us and our history. It also tells me that you really don't know much about our Church.
No i don't you're right. I was a little frustrated when i wrote that so i can only apologise again.

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You provided an assortment of scripture quotes as to why you believe the Church is invisible, and have basically either argued or flat out refused to listen to our reasoning as to why we believe otherwise.

What is your motivation for coming on this board?
Well i'd be careful there if i were you. I can see i've been clumsy and will gladly apologise for that but my intention isn't to either argue or refuse to listen. Quite frankly i don't think i've done only that, so i don't think i am guilty as charged on that score.

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This is an obscure forum specific to the Eastern forms of Christianity.
Yes it is and that's part of the attraction. Another part is the claim of Orthodoxy being rooted and unchanging in history and yet another is that my friend is heavily into all this which will eventually either validate my worries for her or eliminate them. Either way, i am compelled to either be wrong myself or prove Orthodoxy wrong -- i can't just leave it now.

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I don't know that providing you with more proof of what our Church is and is not will do any good, as it seems to me your mind is already made up.

Am I wrong?

Well it's like this and i will be straight with you. Like i said before, i will apologise for causing offense and certainly accept responsibility for some poorly worded posts and answer your questions openly about my personal reasons for being here and the difficulties i am having with understanding Orthodox issues and beliefs. However, i would ask you to be careful with your tone as i don't mind being open to a point but i don't feel in any way that i have to answer to you, so i do so out of courtesy not obligation.
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« Reply #260 on: January 11, 2012, 02:29:54 PM »

This passage from Ephesians (4:23) using in English 'mind' is, in Greek, the word 'nous.'

We understand this to be more than the thinking part of a person, but rather his spiritual faculty, the 'eye of the soul' that sees God.  The purification of the nous is a process in which man repents and is healed by God.  Some of the progress can happen quickly, but it is most attained through years of repentance and asceticism, which we are all called to (i.e. taking up the cross).  However, this transformation is an eternal one, going on into the Resurrection and thereafter because we are being united to an eternal Being.


Being transformed by the renewing of our minds, yes. However, some aspects of salvation are process and some are firsts and instantaneous.
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« Reply #261 on: January 11, 2012, 02:35:20 PM »

  For us, alsm are a spiritual encounter with Christ.  From Matthew 25:

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.  All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

“Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.  For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink?  And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You?  When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’  Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’  Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


It is not described here as merely humanitarian (which is important enough if you love others as God loves you), but a mystical encounter with Christ!



I realise that the OC does a lot for charity and you all have regular fasting times and for giving alms, which is again to your credit. I can't remember the last time our church fasted where the cause wasn't an issue over finances, even though the scripture says to do it regularly. To our shame.

It's admirable but it is humanitarian based work Handmaiden. While i realise to feed and clothe the poor is a witness of love in many ways, it's not primarily for witnessing and telling the gospel or bringing people to salvation -- unless i've misunderstood. That's why i see the emphasis as being different for us both.

I've never quite looked at this like that before -- a mystical encounter with Christ. I suppose this is how you all see the Eucharist as well in some ways.
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« Reply #262 on: January 11, 2012, 02:38:27 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

Quote
I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.



I think I understand. You are committed to fighting on your own ground. You want to play Scripture throw-down., shoot out at the Proof Text Corral. I get it.  We have a very different paradigm that we use as a lens.   Yours is a judicial approach with you as the sole judge/interpreter. It's like when the Catholics say, "with Protestants everyone is the Pope except the Pope"

This is why it didnt compute when some folks urged you to actually attend an Orthodox Liturgy. Authentic Christianity, the Original Form if I may be so bold as to say, is very experiential. Yours seems to be a laundry list of dictum's that you agree with and then you get some sort of spiritual seal as you mentioned.  

The issue is broader than the "Invisible Church". It's how you develop an internal logic that get's you to that conclusion. You do it by appointing yourself as sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of passages from Scripture. Our reaction is "Who are you again?"..

We approach Scripture much differently. We ask a simple question, how has this issue been understood over the two thousand year history of The Christian Church. It's hard to imagine that Saint after Saint, all the Doctors of the Church, Great ecumenical teachers, all the Councils,, Bishops, Monks and Patriarchs missed the question, only to come to 2012 and Bob on the internet does a re-reading and finds that The Church is really Invisible.  

You do have the luxury of having  many former Protestants here who know how to play in your sandbox and don't mind dusting off their skills. But at the end of the day your personal opinion, which runs counter to 2000 years of The Christian Church's understanding has no weight, no matter how logical or well crafted your arguments. Christianity did not grow out of the soil of American rugged individualism.

So again, the pivotal question remains, when did the Original Church cease to exist? If it never did ( and I realize that's news to most all Protestants who have only looked at Rome carefully) that fact has enormous implications for you.    



Oh i used to love this game! This game is called -- If I Cover My Eyes That Means You Can't See Me -- and we all learn it when we're kids. We usually grow out of it though.

Ummm. .  huh ?

Lets try again then.. If you have an illness reading about the various treatments and medications will not cure you. Even though it is wise to learn all you can, you need to actually show up at the Hospital and have the surgery.

The nature of the Church is settled theology. Bob, musing on the internet, does not have enough weight to overturn what is long settled.



Pasadi? Is that you?

Oh i forgot, he's been stymied. Wink
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« Reply #263 on: January 11, 2012, 02:45:34 PM »

Oh, dear!  Not in 'some ways,' but as its primary!

This is what Orthodoxy is about: the spiritual experience of Christ within our neighbor and ourselves.  Everywhere there is the Image and Likeness of God there is an opportunity to encounter God through this Image and Likeness, just as we encounter the Father through the Son.

When we live according to love for others, we discover the love of God, which in turn provides us with love for others.  Yes, it is circular, but it is also hopeful!  God gives us the love to love others, which in turn allows us to experience His love.


I've never quite looked at this like that before -- a mystical encounter with Christ. I suppose this is how you all see the Eucharist as well in some ways.
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« Reply #264 on: January 11, 2012, 02:50:07 PM »

I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

Quote
But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.

My apologies, you said Salvation is Invisible. Post #206

The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see

Never the less, I didnt mean to provide a tangent for you to slip through.
Marc, it's not as if we were discussing anything, lol+

Quote
I think the confusion is that you look at The Church as if it is like a Protestant Denomination.  We are not a "Denomination". We are not derived from something else. We are "Pre-Denominational".. We are, as a matter of history the Original Church.  I realize that as a Protestant, that claim is probably outside your comfort zone.  
You have nothing to say, so you make an assumption and proceed to argue against your own (incorrect) assumption? lol++

5 cookie points as Vol says

Quote
And of course I realize that you cant produce a date or even a general era for the demise of the Historic Church. So feinting some great insult or lack of interest is just smoke.
I can't produce a date because i don't hold that view.
I haven't said you've insulted me or made any such fuss, another incorrect assumption.

Lack of interest in what you post would be slightly closer to the truth Marc, yes dear.



I think I understand. You are committed to fighting on your own ground. You want to play Scripture throw-down., shoot out at the Proof Text Corral. I get it.  We have a very different paradigm that we use as a lens.   Yours is a judicial approach with you as the sole judge/interpreter. It's like when the Catholics say, "with Protestants everyone is the Pope except the Pope"

This is why it didnt compute when some folks urged you to actually attend an Orthodox Liturgy. Authentic Christianity, the Original Form if I may be so bold as to say, is very experiential. Yours seems to be a laundry list of dictum's that you agree with and then you get some sort of spiritual seal as you mentioned.  

The issue is broader than the "Invisible Church". It's how you develop an internal logic that get's you to that conclusion. You do it by appointing yourself as sole Judge, Jury and Executioner of passages from Scripture. Our reaction is "Who are you again?"..

We approach Scripture much differently. We ask a simple question, how has this issue been understood over the two thousand year history of The Christian Church. It's hard to imagine that Saint after Saint, all the Doctors of the Church, Great ecumenical teachers, all the Councils,, Bishops, Monks and Patriarchs missed the question, only to come to 2012 and Bob on the internet does a re-reading and finds that The Church is really Invisible.  

You do have the luxury of having  many former Protestants here who know how to play in your sandbox and don't mind dusting off their skills. But at the end of the day your personal opinion, which runs counter to 2000 years of The Christian Church's understanding has no weight, no matter how logical or well crafted your arguments. Christianity did not grow out of the soil of American rugged individualism.

So again, the pivotal question remains, when did the Original Church cease to exist? If it never did ( and I realize that's news to most all Protestants who have only looked at Rome carefully) that fact has enormous implications for you.    



Oh i used to love this game! This game is called -- If I Cover My Eyes That Means You Can't See Me -- and we all learn it when we're kids. We usually grow out of it though.

Ummm. .  huh ?

Lets try again then.. If you have an illness reading about the various treatments and medications will not cure you. Even though it is wise to learn all you can, you need to actually show up at the Hospital and have the surgery.

The nature of the Church is settled theology. Bob, musing on the internet, does not have enough weight to overturn what is long settled.



Pasadi? Is that you?

Oh i forgot, he's been stymied. Wink

Alfred is that you?

Oh i forgot, he's been defeated and ran off.
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Your idea has been debunked 1000 times already.. Maybe 1001 will be the charm
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« Reply #265 on: January 11, 2012, 02:54:37 PM »


Pasadi? Is that you?

Oh i forgot, he's been stymied. Wink

Alfred is that you?

Oh i forgot, he's been defeated and ran off.

See now i'm slightly more interested in your posts  Wink
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« Reply #266 on: January 11, 2012, 03:18:57 PM »

Fountain Pen,

Thank you for responding to my post and for clarifying your position on a number of issues. I apologize if my tone was curt.

While I understand getting to an Orthodox parish may be difficult, I would highly recommend ordering Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church." It is available on http://www.amazon.co.uk/ in both paperback and kindle format.

Timothy Ware (now +Metropolitan Kallistos Ware) does an excellent job explaining the history of the Orthodox Church, what we believe, and why. Admittedly, it can be a little dry at times. (He is after all, an Oxford scholar.) However, it has become a standard in most Orthodox catechism, and is a tried and true resource for information on the Church.

I am not trying to dismiss your questions or to stop you from asking them on the forum, but I think this will help you dive deeper into your inquiry of Orthodoxy and be able to ask more focused questions.

On a seperate note, I'd like to address one item you listed in your post to me:

If i can explain -- when people feed the poor and it isn't a mission headed up with a preacher making a big fuss about saving the lost and telling them about Jesus, unless there is activity of people preaching and teaching the gospel, such as there is when our church has sent a group out to do a homeless soup run, then i am thinking it's purely (and rightly) humanitarian. We do all need to care for those less fortunate than ourselves and sometimes we are the less fortunate and need others to help.

I should have asked a clear question, I'm sorry.

I'm not saying the way our church did it was correct, i don't think it was and it doesn't matter anyway. I was simply trying to establish what happened in these activities and whether any preaching or witnessing happened.

Obviously, I cannot address how every humanitarian action carried out by the Orthodox Church worldwide is done, but I would like to say this: sometimes, what seems like a humanitarian action on the outside is exactly what is needed to save souls. Let me give you a personal example:

A friend of mine has a mother who is a Russian Jew and a father who is an Egyptian Muslim. As a child, she attended Catholic school and had been exposed to Protestant Christianity through friends. Although she believed in a god, she didn't follow any particular faith tradition.

Two years ago, she started to date a man who happened to be Russian Orthodox. He brought her to Church with him and introduced her to some of his friends and the priest at coffee hour.

Now, my friend is a very open individual and will basically tell you her life story the first time you meet her.

During introductions, she mentioned she was going to be having surgery, and would be laid up for a few weeks, but would have no one to take care of her.

The people she had just met for the first time at Church set about making a schedule so that each of them would take turns bringing her meals, taking care of her animals, and making sure she was okay. Even the priest volunteered!

They did so without obligation that she ever return to the Church.

My friend was so impressed by the hospitality demonstrated by these individuals over the coming weeks that she did return. She began meeting with the priest and asking questions. Ultimately, a little over a year later, she was baptized and chrismated into the Church.

So what started out as a humanitarian mission turned out to be just what she needed to come to know Christ.

Hope this helps,

HofG
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« Reply #267 on: January 11, 2012, 03:38:01 PM »

Fountain Pen,

Thank you for responding to my post and for clarifying your position on a number of issues. I apologize if my tone was curt.

While I understand getting to an Orthodox parish may be difficult, I would highly recommend ordering Timothy Ware's "The Orthodox Church." It is available on http://www.amazon.co.uk/ in both paperback and kindle format.

Timothy Ware (now +Metropolitan Kallistos Ware) does an excellent job explaining the history of the Orthodox Church, what we believe, and why. Admittedly, it can be a little dry at times. (He is after all, an Oxford scholar.) However, it has become a standard in most Orthodox catechism, and is a tried and true resource for information on the Church.

I am not trying to dismiss your questions or to stop you from asking them on the forum, but I think this will help you dive deeper into your inquiry of Orthodoxy and be able to ask more focused questions.

On a seperate note, I'd like to address one item you listed in your post to me:

If i can explain -- when people feed the poor and it isn't a mission headed up with a preacher making a big fuss about saving the lost and telling them about Jesus, unless there is activity of people preaching and teaching the gospel, such as there is when our church has sent a group out to do a homeless soup run, then i am thinking it's purely (and rightly) humanitarian. We do all need to care for those less fortunate than ourselves and sometimes we are the less fortunate and need others to help.

I should have asked a clear question, I'm sorry.

I'm not saying the way our church did it was correct, i don't think it was and it doesn't matter anyway. I was simply trying to establish what happened in these activities and whether any preaching or witnessing happened.

Obviously, I cannot address how every humanitarian action carried out by the Orthodox Church worldwide is done, but I would like to say this: sometimes, what seems like a humanitarian action on the outside is exactly what is needed to save souls. Let me give you a personal example:

A friend of mine has a mother who is a Russian Jew and a father who is an Egyptian Muslim. As a child, she attended Catholic school and had been exposed to Protestant Christianity through friends. Although she believed in a god, she didn't follow any particular faith tradition.

Two years ago, she started to date a man who happened to be Russian Orthodox. He brought her to Church with him and introduced her to some of his friends and the priest at coffee hour.

Now, my friend is a very open individual and will basically tell you her life story the first time you meet her.

During introductions, she mentioned she was going to be having surgery, and would be laid up for a few weeks, but would have no one to take care of her.

The people she had just met for the first time at Church set about making a schedule so that each of them would take turns bringing her meals, taking care of her animals, and making sure she was okay. Even the priest volunteered!

They did so without obligation that she ever return to the Church.

My friend was so impressed by the hospitality demonstrated by these individuals over the coming weeks that she did return. She began meeting with the priest and asking questions. Ultimately, a little over a year later, she was baptized and chrismated into the Church.

So what started out as a humanitarian mission turned out to be just what she needed to come to know Christ.

Hope this helps,

HofG

That is an incredibly impressive account and a wonderful testimony of their faithfulness and love which resulted in salvation. That, to me, is a far more effective way of 'evangelising' than the leaflet distributing, event driven, hard sell, that i've experienced.

I'm glad we've come to an understanding as i really appreciate your posts and always try not to miss any.

And -- i'll get the book  Roll Eyes  Grin
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« Reply #268 on: January 11, 2012, 03:43:46 PM »

That is an incredibly impressive account and a wonderful testimony of their faithfulness and love which resulted in salvation. That, to me, is a far more effective way of 'evangelising' than the leaflet distributing, event driven, hard sell, that i've experienced.

I'm glad we've come to an understanding as i really appreciate your posts and always try not to miss any.

And -- i'll get the book  Roll Eyes  Grin

 Grin Grin Grin Grin
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« Reply #269 on: January 11, 2012, 09:34:30 PM »

I've never quite looked at this like that before -- a mystical encounter with Christ. I suppose this is how you all see the Eucharist as well in some ways.

I once read that if every mirror in the world was etched with the icon of Christ, we would all treat each other better, because we would be more mindful that we are each created in the image and likeness of God.
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"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jer 29:11
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