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Author Topic: Orthodox understanding of Grace  (Read 3138 times) Average Rating: 0
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ByGracethroughFaith
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« on: January 07, 2012, 08:38:40 AM »

Hi, I'd like to understand the orthodox view of the grace of God. As far as I know, and I'm not certain, so I look for correction if I am in error, but according to orthodoxy, grace is something that we can attain through the church, and in partaking of the sacraments? Is this correct? If so, are these the only ways to attain Grace? Or are there more ways? i.e Icons, fastings etc etc?

Do orthodox understand Grace as the Holy Spirit being available through certain avenues? That might be an easier way to ask the question..

I've also read on another orthodox website that the grace of God is described as the 'very energies' of God. Is this also correct?   

And finally, what is the result of the grace of God that is given to us or is available to us?

Again, I apologise for not being sure here - but I would love to understand your view better.

Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 10:23:14 AM »

I've also read on another orthodox website that the grace of God is described as the 'very energies' of God. Is this also correct?

The word "energy" in its etymology means "working in", and our whole expression for our essence/energies distinction was clarified in order to define the divine nature as being outside of creation and infinite while maintianing that God Himself can and does personally interact with and within His creation. One example would be the quote form Acts where it is said that in Him we live and move and have our being, so apart from God's action, we cannot even exist.

When I think of the word "grace", I think of its close relative (in the greek) "gift". God's action around, with, and within us are something freely given out of His love for us.

Quote
And finally, what is the result of the grace of God that is given to us or is available to us?

The result is dependent on our rejection of or cooperation and participation in the grace that is given to us. Just as the three men in the parable of the talents invested what they were given differently, the return on their investments came out different, and their reward or punishment for how they acted in accordance with what they were given was different.

I hope to come back to this later and touch on how things like sacraments, blessings, prayer, icons, relics, etc relate to drawing near, relating to, and interacting with God. I hope this gives a brief (and hopefully accurate) description to get you started on finding what  you are seeking.
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« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2012, 05:55:36 AM »

I'd like to understand the orthodox view of the grace of God.

This is a good question. Keep the replies flowing!
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« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2012, 06:01:41 AM »

I'd like to understand the orthodox view of the grace of God.

This is a good question. Keep the replies flowing!


I very much desire to get into this but I'm on another thread at the moment.. If any other orthodox christians can shed some more light here in the mean time it would be greatly appreciated.
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« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2012, 06:36:50 AM »

Grace is unmerited and unearned. It is freely available to all. But to avail ourselves of this grace requires struggle and effort- i.e. prayer, fasting, worship, adherance to the teachings and commandments of Christ and His Church. And in a divine mystical paradox, it is God who grants us the ability to struggle and avail ourselves of His graces.

Here is an illutration I wrote a while back. It may be helpful to you.

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,29749.0.html



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« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2012, 08:37:05 AM »

Hi, I'd like to understand the orthodox view of the grace of God. As far as I know, and I'm not certain, so I look for correction if I am in error, but according to orthodoxy, grace is something that we can attain through the church, and in partaking of the sacraments? Is this correct?

The Orthodox do believe this, but as an understanding of grace it falls short. Here, it seems, grace is being defined by the sacraments (it comes through a sacrament, therefore it is grace), whereas of course it is the presence of grace which defines the sacrament. As Orthodox we should desire the sacraments because they are infused with God's grace; we therefore need to know what grace is before we can truly desire to partake in the sacraments.

As for what grace is, I would like to refer to the writings of St Silouan. I admit, the main reason I recommend him is because I have recently re-read his life and teachings, and they are therefore at the forefront of my mind. So with that caveat I will say that St Silouan does have some very cogent things to say in his life and teachings that are related to grace. The text is taken from this online booklet:

The Life and Teachings of Elder Siluan

The booklet begins with:

Quote
There once lived a person of great spiritual strength whose name was Siluan. He prayed long with tearful cries of "Lord have mercy on me," but God would not hear him. Many months went by in such prayer, and the strength of his soul was dissipated; he lost heart and cried, "You are unresponsive to prayer!" And suddenly, with these words on his lips and his soul drained of strength, for a moment he saw the Living Christ. His heart and entire body were filled with such flame that had the apparition continued another second, he would have died. Later he was unable to forget the inexpressibly meek, limitlessly loving, joyful and peaceful look of Christ; from that point forward he witnessed untiringly that God is love, love without measure or frontiers.

It is Siluan, this witness of God’s love, who forms the subject of this text.

This flame is what St Silouan sometimes describes as grace.

St Silouan writes about how grace must be experienced before it can be understood:

People, until they come to know something greater, are satisfied with the little that they have. Man is like a village rooster who lives in a small enclosure with few people and farm animals about, who knows his ten hens and is content with this life, because he knows no more. But an eagle, who circles high in the clouds, and sees great distances with his sharp eyes, who hears the sounds of the earth and revels in its beauty, who knows many lands, seas and rivers, and sees a multitude of animals and birds, would not be content to live in a small enclosure with a rooster.

 It is the same in spiritual life. Whoever has not known the grace of the Holy Spirit is like the rooster who does not know the flight of the eagle; he cannot comprehend the sweetness of tender emotion and love of God. He knows God from nature and from Scripture, he is satisfied with the law and is content with his lot as is the rooster, and does not feel sorrow that he is not an eagle. But he who has experienced the Lord through the Holy Spirit, he prays day and night, because the grace of the Holy Spirit calls him to love the Lord, and the sweetness of the Lord’s love gives him the ability to carry the burdens of the world with ease; his soul pines only for the Lord and searches constantly for the grace of the Holy Spirit.

This is one reason why I said it would be getting things the "wrong way round" to define grace by the sacraments. It is the other way round. Specifically on grace, St Silouan writes:

Quote
The Lord called on a sinful soul to repent, and it turned to Him. Then He mercifully accepted it and revealed Himself to it because He is merciful, humble and meek. In His infinite mercy He did not mention the soul’s sins, and the soul loved Him without end, and was drawn to Him like a caged bird to a green wood.

 Suddenly the soul loses the Lord’s grace and wonders how it insulted the Lord. "I will ask for forgiveness, and perhaps He will once again give me His grace, for my soul wishes for nothing else in this world except the Lord," thinks a person, for the love of the Lord is so warming, that if a soul should taste it — it would desire nothing else; and if it should lose it, or if grace should dissipate, then what prayers would a soul not utter in order to return the Lord’s grace to it?

 When a soul lives in the Holy Spirit, then it is joyful and does not pine for the heavens, because it feels the Kingdom of God within itself: the Lord has come and abides within it. But when it loses grace, then it begins to pine for heaven and tearfully seeks out the Lord.

 Whoever has not felt grace cannot know what it is to desire it. Most people have become attached to the worldly, and they cannot understand that nothing worldly could ever take the place of the Holy Spirit. The Lord takes His grace from the soul and in this manner mercifully and wisely teaches it to be humble, for it was for the soul that He spread His arms on the Cross with such great suffering. He gives the soul the ability to struggle against our enemies, but the soul by itself is powerless to achieve victory; for this reason it is said, "Ask, and ye shall receive." And if we do not ask, then we but torment and rob ourselves of the grace of the Holy Spirit, without which the soul remains confused, because it cannot see the will of God.

 Here is the shortest and easiest path to salvation: Be obedient and temperate, do not judge and keep your mind and heart free of evil thoughts; believe instead that all people are kind and that God loves them. For these humble thoughts the grace of the Holy Spirit will live within you, and you will say, "God is merciful."

 It brings the Lord joy to see a humbly penitent soul, and He brings the grace of the Holy Spirit to it. I know how one novice received the Holy Spirit after only a half-year in a monastery; others received the Holy Spirit after ten years; and yet others live for forty and more years before they experience grace. But none of them could retain grace, because we are not humble.

 Saint Serafim was 27 years old, when he saw the Lord, and his soul loved God so, that the sweetness of the Holy Spirit changed him entirely. But when he later went to a deserted area and saw that he no longer carried that grace, he stood for three years on a rock and cried, "Lord have mercy on me, a sinner."

 Blessed is he who does not lose the grace of God, but rises from strength to strength. I have lost grace, but the Lord has felt great pity for me and allowed me to taste an even greater one in His mercy. Brothers, with all your strength, humble your souls, so that the Lord will love them and bestow His mercy upon them. But we cannot hope for mercy if we do not love our enemies.

All of this is from the link I provided.

====

I would also add a couple of quotes from two other Saints, the first a Russian bishop of the 19th century, the second an Egyptian desert father of the 4th century. Both their quotes on the nature of grace "permetaing" a soul are similar:

Those who are saved, that is, those who will enter the eternal Kingdom of God, are only those in whom grace dwells; not secretly, but openly, permeating our entire essence and becoming even outwardly visible, absorbing, as it were, our entire nature.

Quote
Heed the word of our Saviour! He says that the Kingdom of God is like when a woman takes leaven and adds it to the dough. The dough, once it has received the leaven, does not rise all at once; it will do so in its own time. The leaven within it permeates the dough little by little, and the entire dough becomes leavened. Bread baked from this is light, aromatic, delicious. It is exactly the same thing with grace which has been added to our nature: it does not permeate everything all at once; instead it does so little by little. Then, once it has permeated everything, one's entie nature is filled with grace. Everything which the person then does takes on a special character. although by appearance the actions are the very same as non-grace-filled actions, they have a special aroma, a special taste, and a special sound. God accepts only these actions as being especially pleasing to Him.
-Saint Theophan the Recluse

and

Quote
“When grace pastures in the heart, it rules over all the members and the thoughts…this is how grace penetrates throughout all parts of the body.”
-St Macarius the Great

As you can see, the desert fathers are much more succinct in their sayings  Smiley

===

Again, these quotes are given because they are in the forefront of my mind, and not because they are necessarily exhaustive or definitive. I think there is a common thread throughout all these quotes though, and may be a start. One word that often crops up in descriptions of God's grace is "undescribable", which isn't much help; although it does reaffirm the teaching that Grace needs to be experienced to be understood, rather than understood to be experienced. The descriptions of the actions of grace within the human soul are still useful though, so that we may discern the state of our own souls.




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« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2012, 08:40:45 AM »

ps: St Seraphim's teaching on the "Acquisition of the Holy Spirit" (see the link below) is also relevant to this topic. Again to restate the opening comments of my last post, St Seraphim says:

Prayer, fasting, vigil and all other Christian activities, however good they may be in themselves, do not constitute the aim of our Christian life, although they serve as the indispensable means of reaching this end. The true aim of our Christian life consists in the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, and vigils, and prayer, and almsgiving, and every good deed done for Christ's sake, they are only means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God.

from "St. Seraphim of Sarov's Conversation With Nicholas Motovilov"
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« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2012, 01:42:39 PM »

Quote
There once lived a person of great spiritual strength whose name was Siluan. He prayed long with tearful cries of "Lord have mercy on me," but God would not hear him. Many months went by in such prayer, and the strength of his soul was dissipated; he lost heart and cried, "You are unresponsive to prayer!" And suddenly, with these words on his lips and his soul drained of strength, for a moment he saw the Living Christ. His heart and entire body were filled with such flame that had the apparition continued another second, he would have died..

...Whoever has not known the grace of the Holy Spirit is like the rooster who does not know the flight of the eagle; he cannot comprehend the sweetness of tender emotion and love of God.

I rather wish you had posted this yesterday (Saturday), for I would like to have quoted it when preaching this morning at Penycae Baptist church. Very good.
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« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 04:49:21 AM »

Perhaps these few thoughts overlap with the Invisible Church thread, for it seems to me that no denomination or theologian has hold of the whole truth. What some of you have written about grace, God's energy "working in" man, and man striving hard to find and grasp it, is doubtless very true indeed of the way some people come to God: they seek long and hard, through much thought, prayer, reading and other searchings, and in time his promise is fulfilled in their nascent faith "pulsanti aperietur" - to him who knocks it will be opened. However, it seems to me that this is only one of a number of patterns, or models, or paradigms, of man finding the true and only God (always of course in Christ). Your Orthodox description of the working of God's grace in drawing the sinner seems to lie at one end of a spectrum, but the firm Calvinist's model seems both to lie at the other end and also to be the experience of many who become believers: they do not seek God; they live lives of religious negligence and sin; they may not even believe in him: but then, of a sudden, unsought and unexpected, "out of the blue" as it is said, God breaks into their lives, and they know with inward certainty that they must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ. This seems to be a pattern that fits the doctrines of "unconditional election" and "irresistible grace".

Is it not the case that both ends of the spectrum are true, both hold truth which we cannot intellectually reconcile, and both fitly describe God's dealings with different sinners in bringing them to himself?
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« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2012, 11:15:43 AM »

Perhaps these few thoughts overlap with the Invisible Church thread, for it seems to me that no denomination or theologian has hold of the whole truth. What some of you have written about grace, God's energy "working in" man, and man striving hard to find and grasp it, is doubtless very true indeed of the way some people come to God: they seek long and hard, through much thought, prayer, reading and other searchings, and in time his promise is fulfilled in their nascent faith "pulsanti aperietur" - to him who knocks it will be opened. However, it seems to me that this is only one of a number of patterns, or models, or paradigms, of man finding the true and only God (always of course in Christ). Your Orthodox description of the working of God's grace in drawing the sinner seems to lie at one end of a spectrum, but the firm Calvinist's model seems both to lie at the other end and also to be the experience of many who become believers: they do not seek God; they live lives of religious negligence and sin; they may not even believe in him: but then, of a sudden, unsought and unexpected, "out of the blue" as it is said, God breaks into their lives, and they know with inward certainty that they must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ. This seems to be a pattern that fits the doctrines of "unconditional election" and "irresistible grace".

Is it not the case that both ends of the spectrum are true, both hold truth which we cannot intellectually reconcile, and both fitly describe God's dealings with different sinners in bringing them to himself?




This seems to me to be a distinction without a difference, except for the part where we cannot intellectually reconcile or describe God's dealings with us. Even if one has that sort of "conversion experience" does not one still have to repent and turn to God?
It is precisely because we cannot fully understand  the ways that God works in our lives that we need to be guided in our understanding by the Church, by Holy Scripture, and the teachings of historical Christianity. We can so easily veer too far one way or another.
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« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2012, 12:19:06 PM »

does not one still have to repent and turn to God?

Certainly.
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« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2012, 01:50:23 PM »

Perhaps these few thoughts overlap with the Invisible Church thread, for it seems to me that no denomination or theologian has hold of the whole truth. What some of you have written about grace, God's energy "working in" man, and man striving hard to find and grasp it, is doubtless very true indeed of the way some people come to God: they seek long and hard, through much thought, prayer, reading and other searchings, and in time his promise is fulfilled in their nascent faith "pulsanti aperietur" - to him who knocks it will be opened. However, it seems to me that this is only one of a number of patterns, or models, or paradigms, of man finding the true and only God (always of course in Christ). Your Orthodox description of the working of God's grace in drawing the sinner seems to lie at one end of a spectrum, but the firm Calvinist's model seems both to lie at the other end and also to be the experience of many who become believers: they do not seek God; they live lives of religious negligence and sin; they may not even believe in him: but then, of a sudden, unsought and unexpected, "out of the blue" as it is said, God breaks into their lives, and they know with inward certainty that they must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ. This seems to be a pattern that fits the doctrines of "unconditional election" and "irresistible grace".

Is it not the case that both ends of the spectrum are true, both hold truth which we cannot intellectually reconcile, and both fitly describe God's dealings with different sinners in bringing them to himself?


I would say that depending on which saint's hagiography one was reading, you would find different examples of how God's grace works. In the writings that JMC posted, St. Siluan was actively seeking God. He prayed every night to the Lord, and sought him ought. When we read the hagiography of other saints, it's different. St. Mary of Egypt comes to mind.

This was a woman who lived an immoral life. One day she sees a bunch of people going to Church and decides to go to Church herself. Sort of "gee, I wonder what all the fuss is about" kind of inquiry. Only when she tries to enter the Church, a force field stops her from entering. The Lord would not let her enter until she repented of her sins. It's not that God was trying to prevent her from coming to Him, but rather, He wanted her to realize that her way of living was wrong, and that she had to change her ways before she could receive communion.

In the Orthodox Church we have a saying, "We know where God's grace is, but we don't know where it isn't." Often this is used when people ask if the sacraments of other church's have God's grace, but I think it is applicable to this discussion as well. Yes, we receive God's grace through prayer, fasting, the sacraments, going to Church, all of those things, no doubt. But who's to say that we cannot partake of God's grace while reveling in His creation on a nature walk? While playing with a little baby? While enjoying a warm hug from a spouse? Are not all of these things gifts from God?

I think we would truly make God laugh if we tried to limit ourselves to a list of items in which we can receive God's grace, for just as His grace is boundless, so are the ways in which we can receive it.

This is one of the reasons why the Orthodox Church does not put a number on the list of sacraments there are. Sure, there are the obvious ones: baptism, chrismation, confession, communion, unction, marriage, and ordination. But in true Orthodox praxis, the list is endless, for the ways of receiving His grace are endless.
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« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2012, 03:57:34 PM »

Perhaps these few thoughts overlap with the Invisible Church thread, for it seems to me that no denomination or theologian has hold of the whole truth. What some of you have written about grace, God's energy "working in" man, and man striving hard to find and grasp it, is doubtless very true indeed of the way some people come to God: they seek long and hard, through much thought, prayer, reading and other searchings, and in time his promise is fulfilled in their nascent faith "pulsanti aperietur" - to him who knocks it will be opened. However, it seems to me that this is only one of a number of patterns, or models, or paradigms, of man finding the true and only God (always of course in Christ). Your Orthodox description of the working of God's grace in drawing the sinner seems to lie at one end of a spectrum, but the firm Calvinist's model seems both to lie at the other end and also to be the experience of many who become believers: they do not seek God; they live lives of religious negligence and sin; they may not even believe in him: but then, of a sudden, unsought and unexpected, "out of the blue" as it is said, God breaks into their lives, and they know with inward certainty that they must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ. This seems to be a pattern that fits the doctrines of "unconditional election" and "irresistible grace".

Is it not the case that both ends of the spectrum are true, both hold truth which we cannot intellectually reconcile, and both fitly describe God's dealings with different sinners in bringing them to himself?

Hello David:

As I mentioned, my reasons for choosing St Silouan were because he was forefront in my mind; I didn't mean it to be definitive. HandmaidenofGod has given a different example of grace acting upon a person in order to draw that person toward repentance. Both examples come from the Orthodox Church's treasury of history, teaching and shared experience. It's good to use these "canonized" examples of the Saints, but I would like to add something personal; you said:

Quote
the firm Calvinist's model seems both to lie at the other end and also to be the experience of many who become believers: they do not seek God; they live lives of religious negligence and sin; they may not even believe in him: but then, of a sudden, unsought and unexpected, "out of the blue" as it is said, God breaks into their lives, and they know with inward certainty that they must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ.

This is exactly my experience of conversion. Religion or spirituality of any sort was the furthest thing from my mind at the time of my conversion. I was the "rooster who did not know the flight of the eagle". God certainly broke into my life without my seeking, although with 20:20 hindsight I can recognize that God was calling for a long time before my apparently "sudden" conversion. However I still believe that God's breaking into my life was entirely necessary as I wouldn't even have begun to seek (or respond to) Him otherwise.

Nevertheless, here I am 5-ish years later quoting St Silouan and his experiences. Why am I reading about this Saint, given my own conversion? The reason is because despite seeking God his entire life, St Silouan (called Simon at the time) still managed to "lose" something: not the belief in God, but the desire and will to follow him. In the link I gave it says that as a youngster Silouan/Simon resolved to become a monk after his military service, and did indeed feel a sudden change within him. The story continues:

Semyon spent three months in this state, but then it dissipated and he once again resumed his friendship with his peers, took up drinking vodka, chasing after girls, playing the accordion, and in general living like all the other peasant boys his age.

This is why I am interested in St Silouan's example. For me I "know with inward certainty that [ I ] must repent, believe and turn to God in Christ".... but a certain amount of dissipation has occurred, which I am assured is common Smiley Even so, I was reading in St Silouan's life and teachings a way to regain this resolve which a few years ago was so very much stronger.

Anyway, enough of the personal stuff. I mentioned it because I'm not sure the spectrum you describe is a denominational one. I think the two descriptions of God's grace are far from being irreconcilable. Examples of sudden conversions and a gentler "drawing of the sinner" both happen not only within the Orthodox Church, but within a single life! The example of St Mary of Egypt describes a sudden, unsought, conversion to Christ -- but is followed by forty-seven years in the desert, without meeting another human soul. This time was spent in the continual seeking and prayer, which was followed by the gentle drawing of Mary towards God, by God. St Silouan, despite a constant seeking throughout most of his life, still required - on occasion - the sudden intervention of Christ to shake him up a bit and return him to the right path. I would even go as far as to say that the two experiences of God's grace: the sudden and the gradual normally both happen within a life. It seems the need to be both drawn and pushed towards God, by God, is common to us all.

Sorry for the length. Katherine probably summed it up in her rhetorical question:

does not one still have to repent and turn to God?

... because the answer to the above question is "yes", most of us always need God's grace to be given in differing ways throughout our lives.
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« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2012, 04:03:30 PM »

we receive God's grace through prayer, fasting, the sacraments, going to Church, all of those things,

Amen to that.

Quote
who's to say that we cannot partake of God's grace while reveling in His creation on a nature walk? While playing with a little baby? While enjoying a warm hug from a spouse? Are not all of these things gifts from God? ... the ways of receiving His grace are endless.

I wholeheartedly agree with your sentiment, but speaking in strict theological terms, I think God's special grace in Christ, in salvation "through prayer, fasting, the sacraments, going to Church" is different from his general goodness to all mankind in "a nature walk? While playing with a little baby? While enjoying a warm hug from a spouse", which might perhaps be called his providence - or the distinction might be seen as between grace and creation. But all are, of course, outflowings of his good gifts. His goodness (gifts, providence) is over all that he has made, but his grace is received and experienced in Christ.
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« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2012, 04:36:54 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Just to add to all the beautiful posts here..

Grace is God in the verb sense, it is the actions of God.  These are also called "works" or "Energies" which also mean actions in the verb sense.  So the Grace of God is anytime God intervenes and acts directly, Individually in our lives.  Salvation is Grace because God ACTS to save us in the active, verb sense.  Healing is Grace, Reconciliation is Grace, Peace of Heart is Grace, blessings of finances or security is Grace..

Synergy or Cooperation (Synchronized Energy or Co-Operation) is when we align our actions with God's actions.  These can be through prayer, through fasting, through charity, through worship, through sacrifice, through submission, whenever we act towards or with God this is synergy, just as when ever God acts or works with or through us.  The Fathers call this "energize" which in the literal sense means to apply actions towards.

Always think of Grace as synonymous with "God's actions" to clarify what Orthodox intends, Grace is not an abstraction or merely a concept.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2012, 04:51:12 PM »

I am not sure if this is on topic or not but what is the crux of the bitter dispute on grace and theosis between Pope Shenouda and Father Matta el Meskeen?

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Just to add to all the beautiful posts here..

Grace is God in the verb sense, it is the actions of God.  These are also called "works" or "Energies" which also mean actions in the verb sense.  So the Grace of God is anytime God intervenes and acts directly, Individually in our lives.  Salvation is Grace because God ACTS to save us in the active, verb sense.  Healing is Grace, Reconciliation is Grace, Peace of Heart is Grace, blessings of finances or security is Grace..

Synergy or Cooperation (Synchronized Energy or Co-Operation) is when we align our actions with God's actions.  These can be through prayer, through fasting, through charity, through worship, through sacrifice, through submission, whenever we act towards or with God this is synergy, just as when ever God acts or works with or through us.  The Fathers call this "energize" which in the literal sense means to apply actions towards.

Always think of Grace as synonymous with "God's actions" to clarify what Orthodox intends, Grace is not an abstraction or merely a concept.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2012, 05:46:32 PM »

Do orthodox understand Grace as the Holy Spirit being available through certain avenues? That might be an easier way to ask the question..


Attaining the holy spirit is not an end onto itself. The spirit is the guide that leads a person towards attaining grace.


Quote
I've also read on another orthodox website that the grace of God is described as the 'very energies' of God. Is this also correct?  


Yes. The grace of god illuminates those who have achieved union.

Quote
And finally, what is the result of the grace of God that is given to us or is available to us?


The result is that mans spirit and body unite to the body of Christ which is his church through the sacraments.

Quote
Again, I apologise for not being sure here - but I would love to understand your view better.

Orthodoxy is lived and not learned but experienced. The spirit along with the body travel through the churches sacraments toward union with god.



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« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2012, 05:49:02 PM »

I think the two descriptions of God's grace are far from being irreconcilable.... the need to be both drawn and pushed towards God, by God, is common to us all.

I agree. And concerning the personal testimony you give:

Weary of wandering from my God,
And now made willing to return,
I hear, and bow me to the rod;
For thee, not without hope, I mourn;
I have an Advocate above,
A Friend before the throne of Love...

Thou know'st the way to bring me back,
My fallen spirit to restore;
O! for thy truth and mercy's sake,
Forgive, and bid me sin no more;
The ruins of my soul repair,
And make my heart a house of prayer.


Wesley's Hymns, #186, verses 1, 3
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« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2012, 12:53:13 AM »

Hi all,

Sorry, I've just returned from a few days away, so I haven't posted on here yet.

Before I go any further, I thought I'd share this with you all.

Hope you like it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY
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« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2012, 12:59:29 AM »

I like religion Wink
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« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2012, 01:17:01 AM »

Hi all,

Sorry, I've just returned from a few days away, so I haven't posted on here yet.

Before I go any further, I thought I'd share this with you all.

Hope you like it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY

If you love Christ, why would you not love His Bride, the Church?
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« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2012, 02:54:59 AM »

2min:23seconds - I love the church.

I think you may have watched the wrong vid..
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« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2012, 02:55:38 AM »

I like religion Wink

I'm aware of that.. Thanks for reiterating..
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« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2012, 03:13:58 AM »

Hi all,

Sorry, I've just returned from a few days away, so I haven't posted on here yet.

Before I go any further, I thought I'd share this with you all.

Hope you like it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1IAhDGYlpqY

What a cutee!  Grin

His idea of Grace is what I would expect of a western believer, it's a concept I always wrestled with as a Protestant.  I hate religion, too, if by religion you mean a set of rules that focuses on the externals and judges other people for not having a passing grade. That's the Pharisaic way, not the Orthodox way. And while there are people in the Orthodox Church who fail in that regard, we are all sick and flawed and trying to get well, and that isn't what Orthodoxy is about, nor is it what it teaches.

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« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2012, 03:17:36 AM »

I like religion Wink

I'm aware of that.. Thanks for reiterating..

You are aware that Orthodoxy is not a religion?
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« Reply #25 on: January 12, 2012, 03:20:58 AM »

If you say so! Then that is great!
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« Reply #26 on: January 12, 2012, 03:22:18 AM »

I like religion Wink

Peter just said orthodox christianity is NOT religion.. So if you don't mind me asking - why is it that you like religion?
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« Reply #27 on: January 12, 2012, 04:17:31 AM »

The word "religion" comes from a Latin word "RELIGARE"  

It means to bind two things together - in this case God and man.

If you think of the word "ligature"  you'll get the meaning.


Absolutely nothing wrong with the word "religion" as such.

Of course it can be abused, but so can "Christ" and "Christian."
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« Reply #28 on: January 12, 2012, 05:04:57 AM »

The word "religion" comes from a Latin word "RELIGARE"  

It means to bind two things together - in this case God and man.

If you think of the word "ligature"  you'll get the meaning.


Absolutely nothing wrong with the word "religion" as such.

Of course it can be abused, but so can "Christ" and "Christian."

Thankyou for that.

However, Asteriktos says he likes "religion" and also claims to be orthodox.. Peter says orthodoxy is NOT a "religion" and also claims to be orthodox.

Which is the which?
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« Reply #29 on: January 12, 2012, 05:50:22 AM »

In the interrnet edition of "The Orthodox Church"  a standard introductory text for people enquiring into Orthodoxy, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware speaks of Orthodoxy as a religion repeatedly.

http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0804/C7.HTM
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« Reply #30 on: January 12, 2012, 06:40:08 AM »

First my orthodoxy is unofficial at this point--I'm working on that. Second, I think that properly defined there is nothing wrong with the usage of the word religion to describe Christianity. For example, here's the first definitions from dictionary.com...

Quote
1. a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

2. a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects: the Christian religion; the Buddhist religion.

3. the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices: a world council of religions.

4. the life or state of a monk, nun, etc.: to enter religion.

5. the practice of religious  beliefs; ritual observance of faith.


6. something one believes in and follows devotedly; a point or matter of ethics or conscience: to make a religion of fighting prejudice.

7. religions, Archaic . religious  rites.

8. Archaic . strict faithfulness; devotion: a religion to one's vow

There is also the fact that, in some translations (including my favored one, the KJV), the word religion is used in a positive sense (e.g. James 1:26-27). Some Orthodox disagree with using the word religion (one even goes so far as to call religion a sickness, for which Orthodoxy is the cure). And that's fine. There's nothing wrong with disagreement. One other thing--why I like religion. One reason I wish to retain the word is that 95% of the people I hear trying to demonize the word are low-church Protestants, and what they mean by things like "Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus, not a religion" is that they feel free to pitch all that tradition stuff, liturgical worship stuff, historical art forms, ritual, set prayers, etc.  Now the Orthodox who talk negatively about religion almost certainly aren't trying to get rid of this stuff, so I really don't have much of a problem with what they're saying, with the one exception that I think it can be confusing when people here them say the same things that "non-denominational" Protestants say.
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« Reply #31 on: January 12, 2012, 07:36:44 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.
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« Reply #32 on: January 12, 2012, 07:44:12 AM »

...also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..


Are there really people in the world who can't tell the differencere betweeen Christ and islam, hinduism, scientology, and JW's?
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« Reply #33 on: January 12, 2012, 08:39:59 AM »

I think the two descriptions of God's grace are far from being irreconcilable.... the need to be both drawn and pushed towards God, by God, is common to us all.

I agree. And concerning the personal testimony you give:

Weary of wandering from my God,
And now made willing to return,
I hear, and bow me to the rod;
For thee, not without hope, I mourn;
I have an Advocate above,
A Friend before the throne of Love...

Thou know'st the way to bring me back,
My fallen spirit to restore;
O! for thy truth and mercy's sake,
Forgive, and bid me sin no more;
The ruins of my soul repair,
And make my heart a house of prayer.


Wesley's Hymns, #186, verses 1, 3


Thanks for that David. I am also reminded of Psalm 51:

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation...

Of course the next verse goes:

Then will I teach transgressors your ways, and sinners shall be converted to You

...which I need to always keep in mind when on forums  Grin

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« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2012, 09:59:49 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.
Thank you for finally making your mind clear on what you think of us. Roll Eyes Are you aware that the Bible details very clearly the religion He wants us to follow, and that this religion is exactly what you hate? Do you even know who we are? Or do you just like setting up straw men so you can have the pleasure of knocking them down, thinking that by doing so you can convince yourself that you're winning this argument?

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.
He doesn't need ANYTHING we can offer Him, but we need very much what He gives us, and His description of the religion followed in heaven is one of His gifts to us.

Now, before you continue to pondefecate any more on this matter: Christ we know. The apostles Peter, Paul, and John we know. But who are you? And why does your judgment of us matter?
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« Reply #35 on: January 12, 2012, 10:03:42 AM »

If you say so! Then that is great!
Yes, Orthodoxy does not define itself as a religion, for it is first a relationship with Christ, but religion is very much a part of how Christ relates to us.
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« Reply #36 on: January 12, 2012, 10:30:58 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.

    Rituals as you call them are a facet of life. The physical body is involve in just about every decision in life. Whatever activities the mind conjurers up the body is also usually involved in that decisions.  The very act of baptism which I"m sure you don't consider a ritual. Roll Eyes Is actually a decision of the mind and soul to give the body over to Christ. What you have chosen to neglect is that the body is involved in the minds activity. When a person sins in the flesh the body is fully involved in the sin as well as the mind and soul. After Christ was crucified. The holes in his body remained. The result of sins against the body. To remind us the the body is fully part of our spirit. We are embodied spirits after all.  It goes where we go. The sacraments are just that. A physical interpretation of our mind. We show up at the alter to wed for this very same reason and all of the rituals are done in the same manner. The mind and soul prepare the body to do what is natural. It isn't shed like snake skin. It's a part of your eternal being.
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« Reply #37 on: January 12, 2012, 10:35:01 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.


Oh, dear. Forgive me, I really don't mean to sound mean or snarky, but I do get so tired of this same old song. Please, do yourself and me a favor. Take the time to read and study historic Christianity a little.
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« Reply #38 on: January 12, 2012, 10:39:45 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.

People in the world can't pick the difference between a Roman Catholic and a Baptist- are you saying there's none there, either?
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« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2012, 10:49:37 AM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.

You really need to read what you just said!!! Everything you just mentioned are the very things that set us apart as authentic Christians from those who simply profess Christ,and engage in mere mental and emotional excercises. You clearly have shown dualistic thinking here,the body is not separate from the heart and the mind,they all work together. A christianity that has been stripped of it's humanity is no Christianity at all. God is both divine and human in Jesus Christ,and worship is a reflection of that.
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« Reply #40 on: January 12, 2012, 11:11:50 AM »

Quote
A poem I wrote to highlight the difference between Jesus and false religion. In the scriptures Jesus received the most opposition from the most religious people of his day. At it's core Jesus' gospel and the good news of the Cross is in pure opposition to self-righteousness/self-justification. Religion is man centered, Jesus is God-centered. This poem highlights my journey to discover this truth. Religion either ends in pride or despair. Pride because you make a list and can do it and act better than everyone, or despair because you can't do your own list of rules and feel "not good enough" for God. With Jesus though you have humble confident joy because He represents you, you don't represent yourself and His sacrifice is perfect putting us in perfect standing with God!

You, and this person, seem to define religion entirely negatively. But that's not the ordinary way of defining religion. Let me see what wiktionary says...

Quote
1. A collection of practices, based on beliefs and teachings that are highly valued or sacred.
Rather than being diligent and mindful of the way he practiced religion, he chose to stir up quarrels by ridiculing the manner in which others do.
2. Any practice that someone or some group is seriously devoted to.
At this point, Star Trek has really become a religion.
3. Any ongoing spiritual practice one engages in, in order to shape their character or improve traits of their personality.
4. An ideological and traditional heritage.
If you examine various churches throughout the world, you will find religion expressed in diverse ways.

Those seem like pretty common-sense definitions to me. I'd say Orthodoxy qualifies for 1, definitely 2 and 4, but only arguably 3. The third definition touches on what you seem to be getting at in your post and the other person in their poem thing: namely, that religion is a sort of 'ladder to God' we build ourselves from the raw material of our good actions, observance of traditions, or whatever. This is not the proper way to view, for instance, Orthodox fasting. Or confession and absolution. Or baptism. Or really anything at all. We might call this 'ladder of heaven' idea Pelagianism: the idea that without the grace of God it is possible for a man to justify and sanctify himself. Grace would be a nice and helpful addition, but not at all necessary. This is not Orthodoxy.

Every movement of a human being toward God presupposes an initial movement of grace from God to man. God must reveal himself, or we would never know anything about him. God must become man, or man could never enter into union with God.

Perhaps the problem you have is more with the 'externals' you mentioned. The Liturgy, the sacraments, confession and absolution, veneration of the saints....there are many specific objections to these things, but if we want to get at those we have to first get past the idea that they're bereft of validity by the simple fact of being traditions, for after all, "You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men." This is not the right sense of Christ's words at all. For one thing, he was not dealing with 'undifferentiated' tradition. The tradition was not qualified simply on the grounds that it was tradition; if it was, this would contradict St Paul's words; "So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter." As St Paul said, he did not find his purpose in life to be the writing of letters. He sometimes found this incidentally necessary in the course of his ministry, but his concerns were much broader, and the truth he expressed in his letters, he expressed probably without any idea that some of them would end up as part of Holy Scripture. He exhorts us to hold whatever he has been entrusted to us, not to abandon the apostolic witness however it may be expressed. The incident you mentioned is really a striking contrast and it becomes at once clear that Christ is not condemning tradition unilaterally:

Quote
Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, 2 they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, 4 and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,
   “‘This people honors me with their lips,
   but their heart is far from me;
7 in vain do they worship me,
   teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

   8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

 9 And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man tells his father or his mother, “Whatever you would have gained from me is Corban”’ (that is, given to God)— 12 then you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or mother, 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.

Now, it is true that these Pharisees were following the tradition of their elders. But consider: would not St Timothy be holding to the tradition he received from his elder as well? And the same for those who came after him? But of course we we would not fault them for that, because the tradition is right. You see here Christ's criticism was not of tradition in abstract. He was addressing very specific abuses. The traditions of the Pharisees weren't just bad because they were traditions; they were bad because they overturned the law of God. They made the compulsive washing a matter of conscience, and judged those who did not observe it. They encouraged people to give to the Temple (i.e. to them) instead of providing adequately for their parents.

Evidently it's not as though Jesus just said, without qualification, 'Traditions are bad; don't get involved with them. Trust in Me and regard religion and religious externals with disdain.' We must try to exercise some discernment. We must consider, if these traditions are truly bad, how are they bad? And if they are not, could it perhaps be that they are part of the Apostolic Tradition? Is the tradition of St Paul, the tradition of the Gospel, is the Church itself preserved by the Holy Spirit? I would say yes.

Others on here can say this better than me, but such is the tenor of my thought. Please correct any errors you see.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 11:13:36 AM by fleur-de-lys » Logged

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« Reply #41 on: January 12, 2012, 12:06:04 PM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry. They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also. Whats worse is they are practiced in His name.

Really? God hates traditions. That's interesting since most of the traditions we have, were given to us by scripture.

How we decorate our Temple is inspired by how Solomon decorated his, with God's approval (from 1 Kings 6):

1 And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel had come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.

...

11 Then the word of the LORD came to Solomon, saying: 12 “Concerning this temple which you are building, if you walk in My statutes, execute My judgments, keep all My commandments, and walk in them, then I will perform My word with you, which I spoke to your father David. 13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake My people Israel.”

...

23 Inside the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 One wing of the cherub was five cubits, and the other wing of the cherub five cubits: ten cubits from the tip of one wing to the tip of the other. 25 And the other cherub was ten cubits; both cherubim were of the same size and shape. 26 The height of one cherub was ten cubits, and so was the other cherub. 27 Then he set the cherubim inside the inner room;[f] and they stretched out the wings of the cherubim so that the wing of the one touched one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall. And their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 Also he overlaid the cherubim with gold.

So now in addition to cherubim in our Temple, we also have icons of the saints and icons of events from the Bible. (Christ's Nativity, baptism, resurrection, etc.)

All of our sacraments come from scripture:

The Eucharist: John 6:55-57, 1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

Baptism: Matthew 28:19, John 3:3-6

Ordination: Acts 6:1-7

As I'm sure you're aware, the priests in the Old Testament also had vestments. So do ours. Now, you may say, "Well that's all well and good, but that's the Old Testament. We are followers of the New."

After the Holy Spirit had annointed the 12 Apostles, where did they go? To the Temple. They did not abandon the Liturgical traditions or style of worship that had been handed to them.

Acts 3:46-47 states, "So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church[h] daily those who were being saved."

The Orthodox, Catholic, and Anglican Churches did not invent Liturgical worship. We borrowed that from our Jewish forefathers in faith. If you go to any Jewish synagogue on a Saturday, you will see them using Liturgical worship.

Likewise, the Apostle Paul commands us to keep the traditions that have been handed down to us:

"Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you." 1 Corinthians 11:2

"But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15

Another point.

The Bible as a full canon text (not just a bunch of seperate Gospels) was not put together until the Council of Carthage in 397 and 419. That is almost a full 400 years after the ascension of Christ!

So how did Christians (who mostly were illiterate) learn the Good News? Through the Liturgy. Through the traditions of the Church.

If you read the Liturgy line by line, you will see that all of it is from scripture. Not just the New Testament, but the Old Testament as well.

We do not have icons just because we are big fans of pretty pictures. The icons are a visual Gospel. The are a catechism for all to see. Remember, even after the Bible canon was established, the Gutenberg printing press would not be available until around 1440. That means books were both expensive and difficult to publish. Thus, most people could not own a copy of the Bible, and even if they could, most of the population remained illiterate.

I challenge you to name any of our traditions that are contrary to scripture. Every single one of our beliefs is consistent with Biblical practice and teaching. This is not theology that has been formulated out of frustration with Church hierarchy, or thought of by an uneducated individual who suddenly thought the Holy Spirit was talking to them one night. Our beliefs have been examined and tested over the years. The last time we made a proclamation on Church doctrine was the 8th Century.

Tell me, what was your church doing in the 8th Century?

I find it interesting that many Protestants reject any association with the Early Church Fathers or Church tradition, yet they gladly accept the belief in the Trinity, the Virgin birth, and the Christological nature of Christ.

Who do you think formalized all of these beliefs? Where do you think they all came from?

The word "Trinity" doesn't even appear in the Bible!

It was through the Church councils (the same Church who's religion you "hate") that established all of this!

The Bible didn't give us the Church: the Church gave us the Bible!

These listed above, also hinder us as Christians from being set apart from false religions such as islam, hinduism, scientology, JW's and any others you can think of.

Wrong. It is the same Church, the same Church councils that put together the Bible canon, the Council of Nicea, and all of the Ecumenical Councils that established the doctrine that seperates us from these false religions.

What do you think these councils were established for? To determine whether donuts or danishes should be served at coffee hour?

They were established to renounce heresy.

Read your Church History.

St. Nicholas of Myra, commonly confused with Coca-Cola's invention of Santa Claus, was not just a benevolent Bishop who liked to give gifts to the poor. He also quite literally fought heresy. At the Council of Nicea, Arius was teaching that Jesus was subordinate to God the Father, not co-eternal. St. Nicholas literally punched Arius out (and later repented) because he was so outraged that Arius would proclaim such nonsense!

Fortunately, the Council declared Arianism a heresy.

(To show how dangerous Arianism is, Islam is based off of Arius's teachings. So yes, the Council did distinguish us from Islam, thank you very much.)

You are showing your ignorance on Church History and the beliefs of other religions to think that our Liturgy and Traditions do NOT seperate us from other faiths. It shows how little you know of what we believe and practice, and how little you know of what others believe and practice.

For others to make the same mistake is not the fault of the Church; it is the responsibility of the individual.

People in the world can't pick the difference. And thats because there is none..

Christ is Truth. He does not need these things mentioned above. Much to your disagreement I'm sure, but thats truth. Nothing can change that.

You realize how contradictory your statements are?

You say there is no differance in world religions, then you say Christ is truth.

Well, my dear, I hate to inform you of this, but not all world religions believe Christ to be the truth, so that would indicate that there are some differances among us.

I challenge you to read up on your Church History, and then come back and re-read your statements.

You will see how false they are.

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« Reply #42 on: January 12, 2012, 12:18:25 PM »

To show how dangerous Arianism is, Islam is based off of Arius's teachings.
As is the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.
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« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2012, 12:28:46 PM »

To show how dangerous Arianism is, Islam is based off of Arius's teachings.
As is the religion of Jehovah's Witnesses.

And the Mormon's. Jesus is your buddy and you get your own planet! Woohoo!  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #44 on: January 12, 2012, 12:34:16 PM »

All of the 'tradition stuff', 'liturgical worship stuff', 'historical art forms' rituals, set prayers etc.. as you put it.. are all religious activities....they are the exact things that hinder people from seeing the truth of Christ.. Its simply idolatry.

Actually one of the major reasons all that external 'tradition stuff' exists is as a safeguard against the most subtle (but most prevalent) form of idolatry which is worshipping a God made in our own image. It provides an external check on the human tendency to form mental images of God which are compatible with our own reasoning and prejudices.

Quote
They are traditions of men. Not traditions of God. These ritualistic, or religious, vain, activities - I hate. And, as far as the bible is concerned, Christ hates also.

Case in point. If God 'hates' ritual so much, why did He give the Jews so much of it? According to actual Scripture, Christ perfectly fulfilled the Law--and if you read the Law, its full of 'liturgical worship stuff'. You may hate ritual, but you are practicing idolatry when you pretend the God of the Scriptures shares your attitude.

In addition, St. Paul instructed the Christians of Thessalonika, "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." (2 Thes 2:15). What were the *traditions* that the Thessalonians were taught 'by word'? It's right there in the Scripture that these are in addition to those you can find in his epistles. Unless/until you can identify which of our traditions are the ones passed down from the apostles by word (and therefore distiguish them from the 'traditions of men'), your attempted dismissal of all tradition is nothing but counter-Scriptural blathering.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2012, 12:35:00 PM by witega » Logged

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