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Author Topic: Reformed Baptist interested in Orthodoxy  (Read 901 times) Average Rating: 0
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Protoman2050
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« on: April 11, 2012, 05:05:32 PM »

My name is Doug, and I'm currently a Reformed Baptist, studying at the University of Leeds. After studying church history and the Church Fathers, I am being drawn to Orthodoxy. I am beginning to seriously disagree with the Protestant concept of God's grace and wrath.

When Adam and Eve fell, they alone incurred guilt. But their sin cursed us, as a rejection of our Father's love and blessing is a curse. When we do not respond to God's love, we are diminished as human beings. The act of faith that he asks of us is not so very different from the faith and trust we place in those people who surround us. When we do not respond to the love given us by the people who love us, we become shallow and hardened individuals. We became captive to corruption. So He sent His one and only Son, Lord Jesus Christ to become one of us, so that we may become like Him via his grace. 

St Maximos the Confessor wrote "God, it is said, is the Sun of righteousness (cf. Mal. 4:2), and the rays of His supernal goodness shine down on all men alike. The soul is wax if it cleaves to God, but clay if it cleaves to matter. Which it does depends upon its own will and purpose. Clay hardens in the sun, while wax grows soft. Similarly, every soul that, despite God's admonitions, deliberately cleaves to the material world, hardens like clay and drives itself to destruction, just as Pharaoh did (cf. Exod. 7:13). But every soul that cleaves to God is softened like wax and, receiving the impress and stamp of divine realities, it becomes "in spirit the dwelling-place of God" (Eph. 2:22)". It's for this reason that in the Third Century of Various Texts, St Maximos defines the "wrath" of God as "the painful sensation we experience when we are being trained by Him". It is not a change that has occurred in God, but literally our 'passion' that produces the perception of "wrath".

I'll be meeting with the Hieromonk next week. Wish me well in becoming a catachumen!
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 05:22:24 PM »


Welcome to the Forum, Doug!

.....looking forward to welcoming you Home, one day!!!!   Grin  There's nothing in the world to compare with Orthodoxy!
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« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2012, 05:23:34 PM »

Welcome to the Forum, friend.  Smiley
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« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 05:29:25 PM »

Welcome.

That is some kinda first post.

Thanks for that.
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« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 06:56:25 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.
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« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2012, 07:08:45 PM »

sounds like you are on the right track, protoman!  Smiley Welcome to the forums.
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« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 07:22:03 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.

Yes...don't want to become the Orthodox equivalent of David Grice or Jack Schapp!

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.

The college ministry leader and pastoral trainee, Matt, has been instrumental in showing me the depths of Christ's love and grace, and our fervent discussions about doctrine have helped me grow in my Christian faith. Unlike many other churches, they don't idolize Calvin and believe we're one false move from being struck down.

Thanks!
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2012, 07:26:17 PM »

... After studying church history and the Church Fathers, I am being drawn to Orthodoxy.  ...

If I had a dime for everytime I've heard that, if I had a dime for everytime I've said that. Smiley Welcome to the forum, I think your in good company with like minds.
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« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2012, 07:37:54 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.

Yes...don't want to become the Orthodox equivalent of David Grice or Jack Schapp!

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.

The college ministry leader and pastoral trainee, Matt, has been instrumental in showing me the depths of Christ's love and grace, and our fervent discussions about doctrine have helped me grow in my Christian faith. Unlike many other churches, they don't idolize Calvin and believe we're one false move from being struck down.

Thanks!

I see nothing wrong with it, however, I do trust that you will be wise in discerning teachings from your Church which are not Orthodox and will not be swayed by them. Remain vigilant.
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« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2012, 07:46:32 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.

Yes...don't want to become the Orthodox equivalent of David Grice or Jack Schapp!

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.

The college ministry leader and pastoral trainee, Matt, has been instrumental in showing me the depths of Christ's love and grace, and our fervent discussions about doctrine have helped me grow in my Christian faith. Unlike many other churches, they don't idolize Calvin and believe we're one false move from being struck down.

Thanks!

Proto,

There is a British Baptist around here by the name of David Young. Not a more charitable soul and educated man of the cloth have I had the gift to correspond with.

It seems that being "Baptist" can be quite other in the UK than in the USA.
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« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2012, 07:48:37 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.

Yes...don't want to become the Orthodox equivalent of David Grice or Jack Schapp!

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.

The college ministry leader and pastoral trainee, Matt, has been instrumental in showing me the depths of Christ's love and grace, and our fervent discussions about doctrine have helped me grow in my Christian faith. Unlike many other churches, they don't idolize Calvin and believe we're one false move from being struck down.

Thanks!

I see nothing wrong with it, however, I do trust that you will be wise in discerning teachings from your Church which are not Orthodox and will not be swayed by them. Remain vigilant.

Yes, obviously. Pastor Wes' central point of his sermons is to hold fast to Christ's love and mercy. And if I wasn't discerning, I wouldn't be here.
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« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2012, 07:50:39 PM »

Welcome Doug; I am also a Protestant convert. My biggest advice for you is to not get too confident; as you progress in your Orthodox faith you will see that things are more complex then they originally seemed at conversion.

Yes...don't want to become the Orthodox equivalent of David Grice or Jack Schapp!

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.

The college ministry leader and pastoral trainee, Matt, has been instrumental in showing me the depths of Christ's love and grace, and our fervent discussions about doctrine have helped me grow in my Christian faith. Unlike many other churches, they don't idolize Calvin and believe we're one false move from being struck down.

Thanks!

Proto,

There is a British Baptist around here by the name of David Young. Not a more charitable soul and educated man of the cloth have I had the gift to correspond with.

It seems that being "Baptist" can be quite other in the UK than in the USA.

Exactly. The British Reformed Baptists truly exemplify Christ, while the Americans worship a petty and vindictive god in their own image.
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« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2012, 10:36:50 PM »

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.
It is fine for the time being -- after all, being an inquirer means that you're asking questions, not making a lifetime commitment.

Once you are a catechumen, if that is they way you decide to go, in my opinion -- and my opinion is worth the weight of a fart in a hurricane -- you have cast the die. Because of the claims of the Orthodox Church, becoming a catechumen is a bit like being engaged...And once you're engaged you don't go on dates with other girls anymore, even if you don't mean to seal the deal with them.

This doesn't mean that you can never step inside another church (for example, I have attended my parents Baptist church a few times for family reasons in recent years)...But to some degree becoming Orthodox does alter the relationship you can have with other ecclesial bodies.

Anyway, that said...May God grant you wisdom and may the Theotokos protect you during these times. Best of luck, brother.
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« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2012, 12:05:55 AM »

Right on, Doug.  I'm Jason.  Thanks for introducing yourself.  I'm a former Southern Baptist.  It took me quite a while to realize these truths we hold and leave the church I was raised in.  I finally became a catechumen this year.

As far as attending other churches, I would say that is between you and God primarily.  I suspect different souls require different foods at different times.  I actually decided that, for me, it would be best to take a year away from all churches and worship, pray, and study on my own once I discovered the extent to which my Baptist upbringing had misled me.  I knew I was on my way toward Orthodoxy but I felt that I needed to just let the holy Trinity be my church for a while.  I figured there are probably even some Orthodox priests that mislead people, and I wanted to just soak in God's wisdom for a while before letting others' wisdom into my mind.  I felt like I had been "burned" pretty severely by corrupt teachings; so I was very sensitive.

That was me though.  If there are non-Orthodox churches who you trust and who you feel build you up more than they tear you down, then I would never say don't go to them just because they don't have "Orthodox" in their name.  After all, their pastors could be much closer to the Truth in some important ways than some Orthodox priests.

I definitely would attend the liturgy on Sundays whenever I could if I were you... and it sounds like that is what you are doing.

My name is Doug, and I'm currently a Reformed Baptist, studying at the University of Leeds. ...  I'll be meeting with the Hieromonk next week. Wish me well in becoming a catachumen!
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« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2012, 12:08:04 AM »

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.
It is fine for the time being -- after all, being an inquirer means that you're asking questions, not making a lifetime commitment.

Once you are a catechumen, if that is they way you decide to go, in my opinion -- and my opinion is worth the weight of a fart in a hurricane -- you have cast the die. Because of the claims of the Orthodox Church, becoming a catechumen is a bit like being engaged...And once you're engaged you don't go on dates with other girls anymore, even if you don't mean to seal the deal with them.

This doesn't mean that you can never step inside another church (for example, I have attended my parents Baptist church a few times for family reasons in recent years)...But to some degree becoming Orthodox does alter the relationship you can have with other ecclesial bodies.

Anyway, that said...May God grant you wisdom and may the Theotokos protect you during these times. Best of luck, brother.

Well, my soul needs to feed on the Word of God, and Pastor Wes does excellent exposition of the Bible, every point firmly grounded in Scripture and no self-aggrandizing or rabbit hole illustrations. I do not feel comfortable missing out on preaching every other week. As long as your spiritual food is nourishing to your soul, does it matter where it comes from? And obviously I wouldn't take communion from them anymore (not that I do anyway...something's always put me off from Protestant communion).

Honestly, from listening to the Augustinian hamartiology rampant throughout Protestantism, i.e. we are utterly incapable of acts of charity, good desires, etc., and the imago Dei is gone, and contrasting that with what I observe around me, i.e. non-Christians are capable of these things, I am finding a problem with their interpretation of the Fall and everything stemming from that. Man is terminally ill and needs Christ's life-giving medicine, not that Man is a hardened criminal who needs Christ's reform school.

Pastor Wes' sermons are all about how we must strive to conform to the image of Christ, so Reformed Baptists may be closer to Orthodoxy than I previously thought, because they don't immediately stop after justification through faith and say "go act however you want." Nor do they go the other way and practice semi-Pelagian gnosticism like the IFB (my former churches before I discovered Reformed Baptist and now Orthodoxy).

So I doubt think sitting under Pastor Wes' preaching when I'm unable to celebrate the Divine Liturgy will compromise my faith, but I will discuss these issues with Hieromonk David.

Thank you guys so much!
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« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2012, 12:14:06 AM »

Right on, Doug.  I'm Jason.  Thanks for introducing yourself.  I'm a former Southern Baptist.  It took me quite a while to realize these truths we hold and leave the church I was raised in.  I finally became a catechumen this year.

As far as attending other churches, I would say that is between you and God primarily.  I suspect different souls require different foods at different times.  I actually decided that, for me, it would be best to take a year away from all churches and worship, pray, and study on my own once I discovered the extent to which my Baptist upbringing had misled me.  I knew I was on my way toward Orthodoxy but I felt that I needed to just let the holy Trinity be my church for a while.  I figured there are probably even some Orthodox priests that mislead people, and I wanted to just soak in God's wisdom for a while before letting others' wisdom into my mind.  I felt like I had been "burned" pretty severely by corrupt teachings; so I was very sensitive.

That was me though.  If there are non-Orthodox churches who you trust and who you feel build you up more than they tear you down, then I would never say don't go to them just because they don't have "Orthodox" in their name.  After all, their pastors could be much closer to the Truth in some important ways than some Orthodox priests.

I definitely would attend the liturgy on Sundays whenever I could if I were you... and it sounds like that is what you are doing.

My name is Doug, and I'm currently a Reformed Baptist, studying at the University of Leeds. ...  I'll be meeting with the Hieromonk next week. Wish me well in becoming a catachumen!

Excellent. Pastor Wes and his team, esp. Matt, have applied the healing oil of Christ's compassion, and have helped me begin to undo the damage my previous churches scarred me with. To this day, I cannot figure out why I was called an apostate for having a slightly un-orthodox view of romantic relationships (don't ask, at all. It's too complicated to explain); I admit my idea sounded odd, but it certainly wasn't sinful, let alone evidence of apostasy.

Thank you guys so much.

NB: I'm currently in California on spring break visiting family and old friends, and my "awakening" to Orthodoxy came to me a few days ago while me and Matt were discussing a piece of fiction I wrote (troubled Jesuit priest-physician has to save his city from a virus, among other things), when were talking about the main character's understanding of Christ's forgiveness and mercy. So when I return to Leeds it'll be my first time attending the Divine Liturgy.
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« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2012, 08:56:54 AM »

Excellent. Pastor Wes and his team, esp. Matt, have applied the healing oil of Christ's compassion, and have helped me begin to undo the damage my previous churches scarred me with. To this day, I cannot figure out why I was called an apostate for having a slightly un-orthodox view of romantic relationships (don't ask, at all. It's too complicated to explain); I admit my idea sounded odd, but it certainly wasn't sinful, let alone evidence of apostasy.

Thank you guys so much.

NB: I'm currently in California on spring break visiting family and old friends, and my "awakening" to Orthodoxy came to me a few days ago while me and Matt were discussing a piece of fiction I wrote (troubled Jesuit priest-physician has to save his city from a virus, among other things), when were talking about the main character's understanding of Christ's forgiveness and mercy. So when I return to Leeds it'll be my first time attending the Divine Liturgy.

No kidding.  Apostate wasn't the exact word used for me by my former pastors.  But I was called basically the same thing when I expressed views different from their own (views on things like romantic relationships, the consumption of alcohol which is a no-no to many legalistic Southern Baptists, and a few other topics).  So I decided study and practice my faith on my own for a while.  Once I realized I had been following sinful men too closely, I wanted to purge my mind of whatever they had indoctrinated me with before soaking in a new church.

It is kind of funny how similar our stories sound at first glance.  You mentioned the oil of compassion Matt applied.  I literally attempted to make Christ's healing oil (from a best guess at the old testament recipe) during my sojourn, and I found it helped heal me too.  God uses all kinds of things.

I didn't realize this conversion of mind was such a recent change for you, Doug.  I'll pray for you, that God will guard our minds.  I'm in California too by the way (San Francisco, though I'm traveling down to Los Angeles this weekend).  Enjoy your time in the promised land.  Wink
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« Reply #17 on: April 12, 2012, 09:30:32 AM »

Also, since the Orthodox chaplainacy at the University only celebrates the Divine Liturgy twice a month (Hieromonk David has to travel quite a bit), would it be "wrong" to attend my current church's service in the interim. Pastor Wes has said "as long as you find a church where the Gospel is preached and love is exhibited, we don't care." My current church is the most loving and caring church I've ever been to, compared to the ones I went to when I was in America, where I was treated like a leper or they split over pettiness.
It is fine for the time being -- after all, being an inquirer means that you're asking questions, not making a lifetime commitment.

Once you are a catechumen, if that is they way you decide to go, in my opinion -- and my opinion is worth the weight of a fart in a hurricane -- you have cast the die. Because of the claims of the Orthodox Church, becoming a catechumen is a bit like being engaged...And once you're engaged you don't go on dates with other girls anymore, even if you don't mean to seal the deal with them.

This doesn't mean that you can never step inside another church (for example, I have attended my parents Baptist church a few times for family reasons in recent years)...But to some degree becoming Orthodox does alter the relationship you can have with other ecclesial bodies.

Anyway, that said...May God grant you wisdom and may the Theotokos protect you during these times. Best of luck, brother.

Well, my soul needs to feed on the Word of God, and Pastor Wes does excellent exposition of the Bible, every point firmly grounded in Scripture and no self-aggrandizing or rabbit hole illustrations. I do not feel comfortable missing out on preaching every other week. As long as your spiritual food is nourishing to your soul, does it matter where it comes from? And obviously I wouldn't take communion from them anymore (not that I do anyway...something's always put me off from Protestant communion).
Despite what I may have said, do what you need to do. I am not your judge.  Wink

(Let me use the standard OC.net disclaimer: Talk to your priest.)

My personal decision not to attend other churches is based partly on the fact that I have small children, and it would confuse them. But I have also had enough heterodoxy in my life, and I am past the point where I find it nourishing...Most of the most godly people I consider to be a good influence in my life aren't Orthodox, so there's that.
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« Reply #18 on: April 12, 2012, 10:27:24 AM »

Hi Doug.  I converted to Orthodoxy and was baptized on January 2nd this year.  I started off as a Baptist, then Anglican, then Lutheran, now, by God's grace, I'm Orthodox.  I probably would have been Orthodox a long time ago, but my wife was raised Baptist and her family was (and still is) rabidly dissaproving of Orthodoxy.  They believe it is Roman Catholic without a pope.  I love my church and my priest and am growing in the faith daily.  I have a great Godfather who is really knowledgeable and has helped.  Of course, there are things in Orthodoxy that are totally foreign to the Protestant mind, and I'm still getting used to some things, but it's like marriage.  If I knew everything about my wife before I married her she would have ceased to be mysterious and beautiful to me.  I'm still discovering after 13 years who she is.  I suppose it will be the same in Orthodoxy, and more, since it is God's Church, the true Church of Christ.  God bless you and keep studying!

Paul
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« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2012, 03:47:51 PM »

Welcome to the Forum Doug. Please read the Convert Issues Forum Purpose to aquaint yourself with how the forum runs and again Welcome.

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« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2012, 06:12:35 PM »

Matt has some questions about the Orthodox view of Christ's work on the Cross and God's wrath. Please tell me if what I told him is the correct understanding:

The Orthodox conception of God is a loving Father whose children disobeyed Him, and lost their communion with Him, becoming susceptible to death. So He sent His Son to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death,” (Heb. 2:15) by living a life that met God's holy standard, so when He was crucified, death had no power over Him, and He rose again. In this, communion between God and Man is restored, and through His grace granting us victory of the struggles against the flesh and this world, our natures approach His.

The wrath of God is simply Him responding to humanity's actions, giving us what we most desired- to be cut off permanently from Him and His creation, since we were destroying it. So the Flood was a natural consequence. God loved us so much He was willing to give them what they wanted, despite His wish of reconciling them with Him. Same for the Plagues and things like that. You ask God to destroy you through your sinful thoughts, desires, and actions, and He will.

The Orthodox view of the OT sacrificial system is that the outer act of sacrifice should reflect the inner state of the offerer seeking personal reconciliation with God.

Sacrifice is expiatory, not propitiatory. It is meant as an outer act to show that you have born the fruit of repentance. If you have not truly changed your heart, your sacrifice will be useless. It is the same today with the Catholic Sacrament of Penance or Orthodox Mystery of Confession: if you are not truly contrite before God, the priest's words of absolution mean nothing.

Cain offered the first fruits of his harvest as an offering to the Lord, which would've been acceptable if he was truly contrite. He wasn't, and that's why the Lord would not accept the sacrifice.

St Anthony the Great wrote “God is good, dispassionate, and immutable. Now someone who thinks it reasonable and true to affirm that God does not change, may well ask how, in that case, it is possible to speak of God as rejoicing over those who are good and showing mercy to those who honor Him, and as turning away from the wicked and being angry with sinners. To this it must be answered that God neither rejoices nor grows angry, for to rejoice and to be offended are passions; nor is He won over by the gifts of those who honor Him, for that would mean He is swayed by pleasure. It is not right that the Divinity feel pleasure or displeasure from human conditions. He is good, and He only bestows blessings and never does harm, remaining always the same. We men, on the other hand, if we remain good through resembling God, are united to Him, but if we become evil through not resembling God, we are separated from Him. By living in holiness we cleave to God; but by becoming wicked we make Him our enemy. It is not that He grows angry with us in an arbitrary way, but it is our own sins that prevent God from shining within us and expose us to demons who torture us. And if through prayer and acts of compassion we gain release from our sins, this does not mean that we have won God over and made Him to change, but that through our actions and our turning to the Divinity, we have cured our wickedness and so once more have enjoyment of God’s goodness. Thus to say that God turns away from the wicked is like saying that the sun hides itself from the blind.”

Protestant and Catholic understanding of salvation still relies on the Law. The Law and the sacrifice system was never meant to save us from sin, it was meant as an icon of Christ and a mirror to show us just how far we were from God's holiness.

We are sick from our hamartia, and need the Eucharist, the medicine of immortality, to heal us and allow us to conform to the nature of God. Believing God just justifies us through Christ's sacrifice, but repentance is still of our own doing, would be like a judge simply declaring us innocent, and then telling us to escape our imprisonment.

By drinking His blood, our soul-sickness is healed, we are able to come to repentance, and we have new life in Him.

Doug
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« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2012, 06:48:52 PM »

Matt has some questions about the Orthodox view of Christ's work on the Cross and God's wrath. Please tell me if what I told him is the correct understanding:

The Orthodox conception of God is a loving Father whose children disobeyed Him, and lost their communion with Him, becoming susceptible to death. So He sent His Son to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death,” (Heb. 2:15) by living a life that met God's holy standard, so when He was crucified, death had no power over Him, and He rose again. In this, communion between God and Man is restored, and through His grace granting us victory of the struggles against the flesh and this world, our natures approach His.

The one thing I would tweak here is the idea that that death had no power over Christ because He lived perfectly. Death is a consequence of human nature being separated from God, something that happened with the Fall and affecting all those who receive their human nature from Adam and Eve. It is not a specific punishment for specific sins. So even if a human being did live perfectly, never sinning, they would still be subject to death. On the other hand, death had no power over Christ because while He fully shared our human nature, He was at the same time the Divine Logos. That is, in His very Person as perfect God and perfect man, He broke down the "wall of enmity" which had been erected by man's turning away from God and which is the cause of death. Death had no dominion over Him because He was God (paraphrase from St. John Chrysostom's Paschal sermon which will be read in every Orthodox Church in approximately 48 hours: "Death thought to take a man, and found God")

"God became man, in order that man might become God" (St. Ireneus, St. Athanasius, and many other since). Because Christ in Himself is the unity of God and man, by uniting ourselves to Him, through membership in His Body, through our partaking of the His Body and Blood, our human nature, through Him, is reunited with God and we become 'partakers of the Divine Nature', and death holds no more dominion over us, not because we live perfectly but because Christ's Divinity has conquered death and therefore through Him we join in His resurrection.
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« Reply #22 on: April 12, 2012, 06:53:49 PM »

Matt has some questions about the Orthodox view of Christ's work on the Cross and God's wrath. Please tell me if what I told him is the correct understanding:

The Orthodox conception of God is a loving Father whose children disobeyed Him, and lost their communion with Him, becoming susceptible to death. So He sent His Son to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death,” (Heb. 2:15) by living a life that met God's holy standard, so when He was crucified, death had no power over Him, and He rose again. In this, communion between God and Man is restored, and through His grace granting us victory of the struggles against the flesh and this world, our natures approach His.

The one thing I would tweak here is the idea that that death had no power over Christ because He lived perfectly. Death is a consequence of human nature being separated from God, something that happened with the Fall and affecting all those who receive their human nature from Adam and Eve. It is not a specific punishment for specific sins. So even if a human being did live perfectly, never sinning, they would still be subject to death. On the other hand, death had no power over Christ because while He fully shared our human nature, He was at the same time the Divine Logos. That is, in His very Person as perfect God and perfect man, He broke down the "wall of enmity" which had been erected by man's turning away from God and which is the cause of death. Death had no dominion over Him because He was God (paraphrase from St. John Chrysostom's Paschal sermon which will be read in every Orthodox Church in approximately 48 hours: "Death thought to take a man, and found God")

"God became man, in order that man might become God" (St. Ireneus, St. Athanasius, and many other since). Because Christ in Himself is the unity of God and man, by uniting ourselves to Him, through membership in His Body, through our partaking of the His Body and Blood, our human nature, through Him, is reunited with God and we become 'partakers of the Divine Nature', and death holds no more dominion over us, not because we live perfectly but because Christ's Divinity has conquered death and therefore through Him we join in His resurrection.


Ah, thanks! I knew there was something off about what I wrote, but I couldn't place my finger on it. Thanks for reminding me that Christ was not merely a sinless man.
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« Reply #23 on: April 12, 2012, 07:04:03 PM »

Here's an email I sent to Matt, both questioning him about our (and every church I attended previously) current less-than reverent treatment of the Eucharist (at least to me), and praising God for the events and his (Matt's) work in leading me to a true understanding of the Gospel and what it means to be a Christian:

Quote
Matt,

Interesting question: why does our church treat the Eucharist so irreverently? They way we treat it like the-after-sermon-snack-of-the-Lord, without any self-examination of conscience to ensure we are taking it worthily as Paul advised, just feels so disrespectful to the meaning of it, whether you believe it's merely a symbol of Christ's sacrifice, or as I now do, the Real Presence of God and the Blood and Body of Christ.

The church should have the Eucharist up on the table, and Pastor Wes should ask everyone to search their conscience and confess their sin, and those who feel worthy should come up to receive it, and those who don't feel worthy, to come up to be prayed over for whatever is troubling them. Not just have the elders pass it around without any indication of what it means.

The Eucharist should be celebrated every Sunday, and the entire service should be built around it, as in it is the totality of the faith and what it means to be a Christian: that through the shedding of His blood and the breaking of His body, we frail and weak sinners may be healed from the terminal illness of hamartia, becoming like God in His nature, having immortality and no longer needing to fear sin and death.

Why have Protestants ruined this wonderful expression of His infinite mercy and grace?!

Also, I really do need to thank God for those Evangelicals who tried to destroy me. Without them, I would have never engaged in this struggle to come to the true meaning of Christianity: it is not about sin-management, it is about clinging to the mercy of Christ so that we may conquer the flesh and this world, drinking His blood to become like Him, achieving immortality. And I thank God for sending you into my life, to apply the healing oil of His mercy and compassion, and expounding the true meaning of the Gospel to me. As St John of Kronstadt said "Great is Your love, O Lord: You have wholly spent Yourself out of love for me. I gaze upon the cross and marvel at Your love to me and to the world, for the cross is the evident token of Your love to us."

Thanks for everything,
Doug
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