The first four months of the year were quite busy for the OC.net moderators' team. We lost our leader but finally we have managed to shake off from everything and take care of responsibilities.
This evening, sitting with a mug of tea, I have the pleasure to present you the pearls of Orthodox publicism and apologetics that were written by our most reverend Holy Spirit inspired posters.
Prize winners for January
Well on my continued journey toward Orthodoxy, I had an interesting conversation with a friend which has caused me some doubt.
He was asking me about God. He asked why I believe in God/Allah/YHWH if the God of the Hebrews had at once commanded His followers to kill homosexuals, I myself being gay:
"If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them." [Lev 20:13]
My friend asked me "If you were a Hebrew at the time, would you have killed a friend if he told you 'I had sex with another man?" The only answer I could give was yes because, if I were a Hebrew at the time, I would have to follow all of these laws. My friend then asked if I believe having a monogamous relationship with another man constitutes murder, and if I thought Jesus would support killing someone who had sex with a man. I said no. His final question was why would I support a god who appeared to be a hypocrite since Jesus clearly declared He did not come to abolish the Law.
My only answer for my friend was that God's ways are above our ways. What appears to a human as hypocrisy is God actually bringing us to the conclusion He intends. A human estimation of God being a hypocrite is a human passing judgement on something more perfect than Him which is not possible for a creation to do.
Nevertheless this response seemed like an excuse to him. My friend was very polite about this though and I respect the opportunity his point(s) are giving me to further question my faith. So, is God a hypocrite? Or did I just paint Him that way in this conversation based on my personal responses?
The ways of the Hebrews were times of primitive behavior and ignorance. And yet the laws at the time were still quite a long ways ahead against other laws of savages that lived around them. Nevertheless, the Hebrew people didn't even know proper theology or belief in God, and it was necessary to even lay down the law that they shouldn't worship any gods.
The Law also signified that all sin leads to death. If you're not harsh with a primitive people, then the Law will be nothing. The Law solidified this idea that all would die anyway due to falling short to the glory of God, some more than others.
Christ became incarnate when the people finally had a capacity to think in much advanced levels. In this manner, He came to fulfill the Law, not to abolish it. He took the penalty of death of the Law and of Nature herself and destroyed it by His own death. He fulfilled the Law by going further. It is said an eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth. Now that you are more mature, and you're no longer primitive, love your neighbor. It is said that you should stone an adulteress or kill an abominable man, but now, think about your sins and if you are without them, then go ahead and cast the first stone. Before, you carried a certain discipline of eating clean foods and avoiding unclean animals, but now all things God created are now seen as clean because Christ took away all uncleanliness. Before, you circumcised yourselves and became part of Abraham's covenant. Now, circumcise away your sins, and be baptized into Christ's Church. Fulfillment is not an abolishing of the Law, but taking the Law a step further. Before, it was about judging sins. Now it's about improving oneself. Before it's about avoiding sins. Now it's about doing good unto others. Before it's about hating sins. Now it's about loving the sinner.
If God was to reveal to humanity in its primitive state this message, no one would receive Him. Christ came at the right time that the Law might be fulfilled in Him, so that people may be ready to receive Him, and not just receive Him, but to be in communion with Him. The message goes hand in hand with His incarnation. And this Law is not just the written Laws of the Jews, but even the Law that is in the heart of the Gentiles, for they know that there exists in human morality a Principle, a Logos, and this Logos is Christ. Therefore, if in the spirit of the law, one understands there is a Way in Life to seek Truth, Christ came to say that He is the Way, Truth, and Life. He it is whom the Law, Nature, Morality, etc. point to as the source of all, and the advancement for all. And here's the kicker: we've still yet to advance to much further levels of understanding and growth.
Therefore, you can't compare today's humanity to the ones given by the Old Testament. These humans were primitive in thought, and were always rebelling against God anyway at times. They had their ups, but more so their downs, and the stories in the OT shows the failure of the Hebrew to even at least consider the spirit of their own Law. And if you think about it, sometimes it's in failure where Hebrew people were forced to "grow up" in their thought levels, and it was in a time of Roman Imperial subduing where Christ showed up.
Well, the truth is that we are moving in a very different direction as a Church here in the 'New World.' Christianity has traditionally evangelized pagan peoples, not heretics. We are now in an era where everyone has heard something about Jesus Christ, and usually has Him (and the Church) totally wrong. So, we have to overcome not only misinformation, but human egos vested in believing heresy.
Now, that means we have to walk a fine line between universalism ("sure, everything's OK if you just believe in Jesus!") and being a nasty crank ("What, bells on your censor... ANATHEMA!"). If we run around calling everyone a heretic, we become the vile sorts of Pharisees that our Lord condemns. Then again, He doesn't have much better to say about the Sadducees who virtually abandon Judaism all together for the sake of being liked.
The finer the line you walk, the more apt you are to get into trouble. Yes, I think calling a coffee 'Fullness of the Roast' is rather tasteless (excuse the pun on a pun), but I'm not entirely ready to chuck everyone into everlasting fire over bad taste. I do believe they want to share the truth of the Church with others, and that impulse needs to be guided rather than condemned.
Like I said, 'fullness of the Faith' implies that the other might have some truth, but not all of it. Converts from other 'brands' of 'Christianity' have a hard time acknowledging that what they had before was delusion (read the Baptismal prayers) and that Christ did not dwell within them. Believing this means that a great deal of their spiritual experiences were either partly or completely imaginary, which is hard for many people who take pride in their intelligence (who doesn't?) to accept.
So, it's all very complicated. As for coffee, I think I'll stick with my present brand.
Well that's not my favorite website as it misrepresents the OO position on issues, and in fact it misrepresents St. Dioscoros in the article you linked. But if the article represents the mind of the EO's, it is interesting it what it has to say about Chalcedon.
It doesn't say where Chalcedon accepts "one nature," and seems to say the council did not accept it. In fact, the article explicitly says that Chalcedon rejected the Cyrilian "of two natures":
The "breakthrough" of Chalcedon was made possible at least partially by the contribution of St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome, who, in his Tome, drew a balanced and harmonious picture of the Incarnate Christ as existing in two natures (substantiae in the Latin original), united in one person (persona in Latin). The bishops assembled at Chalcedon carefully compared the Tome of St. Leo with the writings of St. Cyril and declared St. Leo's theology to be fully Orthodox. Dioscoros, however, refused to accept the phrase "union of two natures" or "...in two natures." He insisted on the phrase "union from two natures" or "...out of two natures" (ek duo physeon). This formulation had been used widely in the decades leading up to Chalcedon, but it had the drawback of being able to be interpreted in a monophysite way, as it was by Eutyches, who declared that he accepted two natures before the union but only one nature after the union —that is, when the two natures of Godhead and manhood were Joined in the Incarnation of Christ, they were united into one composite, divine-human nature. Dioscoros, in maintaining that the Incarnation was a union from two natures, not a union of two natures, denied that the two natures continued to exist, each preserving its own characteristics, in the Incarnate Lord. His position was decisively rejected by the Council.
Look at it this way. In the third council, St. Cyril found nothing heretical about the phrase "Christotokos." The problem was that it could be utilized to avoid Orthodoxy by circumventing "Theotokos." Same thing at Chalcedon. Just as a person who said "we will only use Christotokos and never use Theotokos" was a Nestorian, where as a person who would use "both" was Orthodox, so also, someone who said "we will only use "out of" but not "in" two natures was seen as monophysite, whereas one who used both phrases was Orthodox.
Here is the Horos of the Holy 6th Ecumenical Council:
"We recognize the miracles and the sufferings as from one and the same, but of one or of the other nature of which he is and in which he exists, as Cyril admirably says. Preserving therefore the inconfusedness and indivisibility, we make briefly this whole confession, believing our Lord Jesus Christ to be one of the Trinity and after the incarnation our true God, we say that his two natures shone forth in his one subsistence in which He both performed the miracles and endured the sufferings through the whole of his economic conversation, and that not in appearance only but in very deed, and this by reason of the difference of nature which must be recognized in the same Person, for although joined together yet each nature wills and does the things proper to it indivisibly and inconfusedly."
Was it Christ who turned over the money changers? Yes. Was it His divinity or was it His human arms that turned them over? It was His human arms--human energeia. He could have exercised His divine operation and smote the tables that way. But He used His human operation to do so. It was HE that did it in either case, as a Person.
I'm having a very difficult time processing things like calling myself a sinner, unworthy, wretched soul, and other type of negative words about being human that are often said in prayers and psalms. There was once a creature that had the potential to become truly human, but failed. He is spoken of in the book of Genesis.
Christ became incarnate, and was truly human for their sake.
To the Orthodox, being human means being Jesus Christ, who is a human being in the truest sense. Insofar as we refuse to be Jesus Christ, we dehumanize ourselves.
So those words in the psalms aren't lamenting the human condition. They are lamenting the state of one who has abandoned it. And don't we all?
But when you say that you are a sinner, you are not berating yourself in vain of some static fact. Instead, you are emptying yourself of pride and delusion, which leaves a void to be filled by the mercy of God. If you believe that you are a sinner and unworthy, the emptiness caused by this is filled up.
In other words, believing words like "sinner" and "unworthy" is like going to get help from a doctor, and telling him what is wrong. If you are afraid to say what is wrong, then how can medicine be given? It won't be forced on you against your will.
What do you call a Protestant who learns Church History? An Orthodox Catechumen.
and, last but not least, for April
WORTHY! WORTHY! WORTHY!
Is this a "serious" question, "Do we take Orthodoxy seriously"?
If you don't take it "seriously", than you aren't truly Orthodoxy, are you?
The Church is not a game, nor is it a local super market where you can pick and choose what you put in your cart.
IF you are having an issue with one particular aspect, I would venture to say that you don't completely understand the "why" behind it.
Personally, I take my Faith completely seriously - the whole kit and caboodle!
Now, does that mean that I am the perfect Orthodox Christian? Not by a long shot!!!!
However, just because I fall short of the mark, doesn't mean that I should question the Church or her dogmas, beliefs, rules, doctrines, etc.
The problem is NOT with the Church, it is with me, and my weakness.