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Author Topic: Quesitons obout Orthodoxy  (Read 1117 times) Average Rating: 0
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Armchair Theologian
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« on: October 24, 2012, 06:19:26 AM »

Hello!

I'm not yet Orthodox, and not yet certain I ever will be. But I have grown tired of the confusion of the protestant world, and find myself, the more I read the New Testament and the writings of the early church, suspecting more and more that in some ways, by and large, protestantism is perhaps further from authentic Christianity than Catholicism. I am finding myself strongly drawn to the Orthodox church. I like 90% of the things I believe I understand about Orthodoxy, but there are certain concerns that have remained present in my mind. I feel my opinions are quite irreverent, and I pray that God will lead me. I'm going to visit a near by Orthodox church Sunday, a parish of the Antiochan Archdioceses of America, to investigate further. I was hoping also to be able to have a friendly chat here with some real Orthodox Christians and get that additional perspective to help me come to a conclusion about Orthodoxy, and if any of you will pray for me, I would appreciate it very much as well.

To start off with the positive, I'm attracted to the claim that the Orthodox Church is the authentic church through apostolic succession. I find the claim seems to have some real historicity behind it, and I'm intrigued. It seems to me a real possibility that the Spirit of God didn't stop reveling things to man with the Revelation of St. John, and didn't stop performing signs and miracles after the deaths of the apostles. It's starting to look like the unfolding revelation of the New Testament has been going on ever since in the Church, under the care to the apostles' successors, culmination in the traditions of the orthodox church of which the Bible is essentially the foundational part, but not the whole. The the more I read from the Lives of Saints, the more intriguing the idea becomes to me.

I think for my part I agree with the way the Orthodox Church views Baptism and the Eucharist, not as outward signs only, but as holy mysteries whereby the grace of God is imparted and our relationship to Christ is brought to fulness. I like that the sacraments are regarded with reverence, seriousness and gravity, as is prayer. And I very much appreciate the Orthodox approach to the subject of prayer, both private and corporate. Honestly, I think I would like an 'icon corner' in my home, even though I'm uncertain about the role icons should play in my religious life (something I will discuss later). It would be like having an alter in my home at which to pray, and pray seriously, every day. How cool is that? Smiley

Of the things I'm still uncertain about, they are the basic things that most Protestants are usually troubled by, namely the veneration of icons, praying to saints, to the Theotokos, and so forth. Let me first say that I have researched these things, and I've read the Orthodox answers, and from what I've learned I don't see them as particularly frightening in themselves. After all, the Bible tells us that in coming to the Church of God, we come not only to the general assembly of God's people on earth, but to the multitudes of the Angles in joyful assembly, and to the "spirits of just men made perfect" as well. It is logical to assume that God can work through these, as he does through the angles, for the benefit of those of us still sojourning on earth, and if so, then it would make sense that they intercede for us, as we also pray for one another. Prayer is a bond that holds the church together in Christ. It is a common communion we all share with the Lord, and thinking that the angles and saints in heaven are a part of that seems very reasonable and even scriptural to me.

My concerns are simply that I cannot find and very-early Christian evidence that the apostles taught people to actually invoke saints in prayer, and I'm not yet comfortable with the idea. But more than that, I am also concerned that such a practice could conceivably be misunderstood and potentially take away from the Christ-Centeredness of the religion. Though one might outwardly pay lip-service to putting Christ at the center and understanding him as the only savior and intermediary, inwardly I have observed that some people, especially in the catholic fold, seem to love the saints and the Theotokos a great deal more, as though in their inner heart of hearts they feel as though their religion is one involving many wondrous divine beings, the saints and the angles and the wonderful Mother of God, "who all love us and help us, and there's one for ever purpose and for every need! how wonderful, so many saints and angles! And as a nifty little bonus, we got God and Jesus thrown in there too!"

I'm not trying to offend, but I'm trying to articulate my worries. I just don't want to get involved with any group of Christians who have in any way ceased to be Christ-centered in there thoughts or in there prayers, so I want to make sure that Orthodoxy does indeed put the Son of God in the middle. It worries me to see an icon of Christ and an icon of the Theotokos given equal preeminence in any display of icons, and I've seen a lot of that in my image searches. Perhaps I merely misunderstand the gesture. I'm open to the idea that the Virgin Mary has a special place in the heart of God, and should thus have a more special place in my own heart, but Jesus is forever my only savior.

Another small thing, on the topic of the Theotokos. I know the official Orthodox teaching is very much in accordance with statements in the Epistle to the Hebrews which describe Christ and having taken on human form, experiencing humanity with all of its sorrows, suffering and temptations, so as to be a merciful preist to us, being able to empathize with us in every way and in all of our weaknesses. That said, I have also read a number of Orthodox prayers which actively seek to petition the Theotokos to implore Christ God His mercy and compassion on us, as though Christ would not be able to empathize and have mercy on us if not for the intersessions of the Theotokos. The question I must ask when I see this sort of thing is: Was not Christ's incarnation enough, together with his life, passion, and death? Does he still need extra help in relating to the human condition? Another question, (last one for now), do the saints intercede to the Father, the Son, the Spirit, or all three, or how does that work?

Thank you for reading and for helping me in advance! 

       
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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2012, 07:24:07 AM »

Hi Armchair Theologian,

If I understood correctly, your current three concerns are:

a) historical evidence for prayer for the intercession of saints as an apostolic teaching;
b) why after all the Theotokos asks Jesus to be mercifull toward us;
c) some Orthodox/Romans who might actually worship saints and angels instead of God;

If that is right, I will briefly touch upon the last two. There is evidence for (a), but I am at work and a bit overloaded, so I will have to bring the details later.

For (b) we see that in the Wedding in Cana. Why she does it? Well, she is a compassionate human. Does God *need* it? Certainly not. God does not *need* us to be compassionate as well. Now, is He pleased by Her and our intercessions? Most certainly so, for with our prayers for others (including the prayers of the Virgin Mary) we participate in His compassion. Now, and this is a great East-West divided, is He moved by these prayers? Western scholastic theology sees God in aristotelian terms of the immovable mover, thus, He would not be able to be the object of any action from us, not even our petitions. Orthodox theology, on the other hand, understand that God can act in different ways without being different Gods, the biblical concept of divine energies. It means that He can and does act upon our requests and that does not mean that we are moving Him. Again, in the Wedding of Cana, the Theotoko actively seeks an action from Jesus that He would seemingly not have taken had she not asked - and, most importantly - He would not have taken if any other person but His mother had asked. Would He turn water into wine had she not asked? I honestly don't know, all I know is that He does accept her pleas and ours, and sometimes some things just through her pleas.

Considering (c), yes, some people do worship elements of the Church. Some people worship the saints, others worship te Bible. It is a duty of the priest as a pastor to educate people on that, and even so, some people will do it anyway. The real concern I think is that the Orthodox Church uses vocabulary that is not usual for modenr people, with lots of hyperboles. But we are to be educated about it and understand these figures of speech instead of trying to bring language to our modern levels that are unable to express some noble concepts without irreverance. Simply do not wosrhip the saints. They are our older brothersand sisters, not God. Only remembe that the most mature in godliness do express God's will in a clearer way. Someimes, the light in them is God's. Their words is not thers, but God's, for the most mature subdued their ego to let God shine. It is the real God, His real presence, through them.
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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2012, 07:45:22 AM »

Quote
I just don't want to get involved with any group of Christians who have in any way ceased to be Christ-centered in there thoughts or in there prayers, so I want to make sure that Orthodoxy does indeed put the Son of God in the middle.

Your fears of Orthodoxy not being Christ-centred should evaporate once you become familiar with what is read, chanted and sung during Orthodox church services, particularly the Divine Liturgy. The DL is stuffed full of "Christ-centred" hymns. The principle of lex orandi, lex credendi (we pray what we believe) is a cornerstone of Orthodox worship.

Orthodox prayers in a prayerbook, even those directed to saints and the Mother of God, are never free of references to Christ.
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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2012, 08:53:22 AM »

Orthodoxy teaches that Jesus, in praying to his Father, prayed for his people, and he is the only competent intercessor for mankind before God. In his resurrected glory, he prays eternally to his Father on behalf of all for all.

In and through Christ, Orthodox Christians become competent to intercede before God. In the name of Jesus, Christians are authorized to pray for each other and for all creation. (All prayer is to God the Father, through his Son, in his Holy Spirit, even if not mentioned in the words of the prayer.)

Finally we ask others to pray for us, would it not be beneficial to ask also for prayers of those that have completed the race and are in the presence of God.
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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2012, 09:52:23 AM »

My concerns are simply that I cannot find and very-early Christian evidence that the apostles taught people to actually invoke saints in prayer, and I'm not yet comfortable with the idea. But more than that, I am also concerned that such a practice could conceivably be misunderstood and potentially take away from the Christ-Centeredness of the religion. Though one might outwardly pay lip-service to putting Christ at the center and understanding him as the only savior and intermediary, inwardly I have observed that some people, especially in the catholic fold, seem to love the saints and the Theotokos a great deal more, as though in their inner heart of hearts they feel as though their religion is one involving many wondrous divine beings, the saints and the angles and the wonderful Mother of God, "who all love us and help us, and there's one for ever purpose and for every need! how wonderful, so many saints and angles! And as a nifty little bonus, we got God and Jesus thrown in there too!"
Quote
CHAPTER XVII -- THE CHRISTIANS ARE REFUSED POLYCARP'S BODY.

But when the adversary of the race of the righteous, the envious, malicious, and wicked one, perceived the impressive nature of his martyrdom, and [considered] the blameless life he had led from the beginning, and how he was now crowned with the wreath of immortality, having beyond dispute received his reward, he did his utmost that not the least memorial of him should be taken away by us, although many desired to do this, and to become possessors of his holy flesh. For this end he suggested it to Nicetes, the father of Herod and brother of Alce, to go and entreat the governor not to give up his body to be buried, "lest," said he, "forsaking Him that was crucified, they begin to worship this one." This he said at the suggestion and urgent persuasion of the Jews, who also watched us, as we sought to take him out of the fire, being ignorant of this, that it is neither possible for us ever to forsake Christ, who suffered for the salvation of such as shall be saved throughout the whole world (the blameless one for sinners), nor to worship any other. For Him indeed, as being the Son of God, we adore; but the martyrs, as disciples and followers of the Lord, we worthily love on account of their extraordinary affection towards their own King and Master, of whom may we also be made companions and fellow-disciples!

CHAPTER XVIII -- THE BODY OF POLYCARP IS BURNED.

The centurion then, seeing the strife excited by the Jews, placed the body in the midst of the fire, and consumed it. Accordingly, we afterwards took up his bones, as being more precious than the most exquisite jewels, and more purified than gold, and deposited them in a fitting place, whither, being gathered together, as opportunity is allowed us, with joy and rejoicing, the Lord shall grant us to celebrate the anniversary of his martyrdom, both in memory of those who have already finished their course, and for the exercising and preparation of those yet to walk in their steps.....We wish you, brethren, all happiness, while you walk according to the doctrine of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; with whom be glory to God the Father and the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of His holy elect, after whose example the blessed Polycarp suffered, following in whose steins may we too be found in the kingdom of Jesus Christ!

These things Caius transcribed from the copy of Irenaeus (who was a disciple of Polycarp), having himself been intimate with Irenaeus. And I Socrates transcribed them at Corinth from the copy of Caius. Grace be with you all.
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/martyrdompolycarp-roberts.html
The Martyrdom of Polycarp-c.150

Polycarp was the disciple of St. John the Divine Evangelist.
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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2012, 11:38:09 AM »

A "group of Christians, who cease to be Christ-centered" cease to be Christians. Here I think is the core problem, that people view The Church as just another "group" or "denomination" your should work to activly deconstruct this mind-set when approaching Orthodoxy. Orthodox Christianity is a completely different reality constructed by Christ Himself Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2012, 02:35:12 PM »

The Theotokos and the saints can only be what they are through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ. We venerate them as our examples, which we are to strive to be, and not exceptions that we can never achieve. The goal of every Orthodox Christian should be, "to be a saint."

It is in Christ that we even have communion with the saints, as they live in Him. Without they, they would truly be dead, yet they are not. "Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." (John 11:25-26)

The saints do not detract from the glory of God. How could they? They are the glory of God, what Christ has accomplished and united to Himself! "When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day." (2 Thess. 1:10)
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« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2012, 02:26:01 AM »

Thank you all, this has been most helpful. And thank you ialmisry for these passages from the martyrdom of St. Polycarp. I've read this before and I've researched him, seeing as he was a disciple of John the Apostle. I had forgotten these passages though, which help to establish that the earliest church actively venerated holy men and women who had contributed much and had done great things for the Kingdom of God. And the more I have read of the various saints venerated in the Orthodox church the more I see how important it is to put them in remembrance and learn from their examples, sense it seems plain the the Lord has held them up for Christians as examples. And all of this helps to reassure me of the Orthodox understanding of Christ.

Perhaps I should clarify one point. The only reason I have been so concerned about this is that I am friends with a self-proclaimed 'Catholic' who tells me all about saints and who to pray to in various situations, and yet she seems almost clueless about everything else in the Christian teaching and has never read the Bible. But I also know that there are always going to be people in every faith who are a little confused, and I am certainly one of them! I try not to make generalizations. What I meant to describe are people who call themselves "Christians', but who have lost touch with the the teaching about Christ as the only savior. I know they are not truly Christan in such a case.

Another thing, I know that the orthodox definition of "the Church" is quite different from the typical protestant concept. Unfortunately, in talking about 'the Church', I am forced to draw from what I still sort of believe, though now I am having my doubts. Before considering Orthodoxy, I was persuaded to think of 'the church' as something 'invisible', believing that in every denomination and branch of 'Christianity' there could be found, at least a few, who truly belonged to Christ, and that "The Lord knows those who are his, and let everyone who names the name of Christ depart form iniquity" (2 Timothy 1:12). I still believe that there are individuals who have made at least the basic connection scattered throughout the "churches", but I think I would find it very encouraging to believe that there still is an Authentic Church, one that is really the only Church, wherein "the Church" is something not merely invisible and subjective, but very much visible and objective... another reason I am drawn to Orthodoxy.

Again, thanks for your help. I'm just going to have to keep praying and go visit the parish to see what it's all about. Smiley  

P.S. I feel I am perhaps speaking quite superstitiously in describing what I think I understand about Orthodoxy. Admittedly, I don't understand it yet. And I don't mean to come across as a know it all. Feel free to point it out to me if I say something about an Orthodox teaching that I have misunderstood.   
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« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2012, 03:06:52 AM »

I meant to write 'presumptuously', not 'superstitiously'. Stupid spell check.  Wink
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« Reply #9 on: October 25, 2012, 05:44:57 AM »

Hi Armchair Theologian,

just a note... St. Paul does talk about people in every faith and nation who follow the law of God which is written in our hearts after all. Some of this have even more faith then the members of the Church as we saw in the passage of the centurion. The Jews and early Christians called these "God-fearers". Sometimes they were pagans who liked judaism but did not want to convert, and nevertheless tried to follow it as best as they could, or even those who, never having learned of the Law, still behaved according to it.

The problem with protestantism is that, unadvertadly they equated the Church with the God-Fearers. And that is not true. The Church is a specific community in which, unfortunately, far too many members don't even have faith (like Thomas), some betray Christ (like Judas), others boast but cower when tested (like Peter) and so many other problems. This specific community is not an institution created by men, although men do create institutions inside it. Like the bread, it is turned into His own body, not only guided but inhabitted by the Holy Spirit. And even in being this it has all those shortcomings, just like Jesus' own carnal body could bleed, sweat, be hurt and so on. It is this delimited, physical, visible, never divided community that miraculously has kept continuity since the first Pentecosts that we today call the Holy, Apostolic, One, Catholic community (or church) of Christ.
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« Reply #10 on: October 25, 2012, 08:06:02 AM »

Dear Armchair,

I am glad you are interested in the Orthodox Church.  Orthodoxy is blessedness!

I think you will see the proper realationship we have with the Saints when you actually attend services. 

The Church, as the Body of Christ, is the Church Militant (living) and a Church Triumphant (departed). The saints are the Church Triumphant.  The living are the Church Militant. During Liturgy the whole Church is mystically united - the living, the righteous departed, the Theotokos, John the Baptist, the Apostles, Evangelists, Angels and all the Saints - and together we approach the Kingdom of God and commune with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. 

I remember when the Greeks went to ask Philip if they could meet Jesus (John 12), but Philip went first to ask Andrew and then they went together to Jesus.

Tell us about your visit to an Orthodox Church!

Love, elephant

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« Reply #11 on: October 25, 2012, 09:58:22 AM »

Thank you all, this has been most helpful. And thank you ialmisry for these passages from the martyrdom of St. Polycarp. I've read this before and I've researched him, seeing as he was a disciple of John the Apostle. I had forgotten these passages though, which help to establish that the earliest church actively venerated holy men and women who had contributed much and had done great things for the Kingdom of God. And the more I have read of the various saints venerated in the Orthodox church the more I see how important it is to put them in remembrance and learn from their examples, sense it seems plain the the Lord has held them up for Christians as examples. And all of this helps to reassure me of the Orthodox understanding of Christ.

Perhaps I should clarify one point. The only reason I have been so concerned about this is that I am friends with a self-proclaimed 'Catholic' who tells me all about saints and who to pray to in various situations, and yet she seems almost clueless about everything else in the Christian teaching and has never read the Bible. But I also know that there are always going to be people in every faith who are a little confused, and I am certainly one of them! I try not to make generalizations. What I meant to describe are people who call themselves "Christians', but who have lost touch with the the teaching about Christ as the only savior. I know they are not truly Christan in such a case.
There is a difference between us and the Vatican on this, that I was just thinking about yesterday.  We have saints that have visions, as much as they do.  We do not, however produce commentaries on them as has been done, for instance, on Fatima and Medjugorja, which are promoted by the highest authorities in the Church, to the detriment I would say to the commentaries and reading of Holy Scripture.

One thing that helped me out of Protestantism was the realization about the saints like those being rescued on a ship in a storm.  If one is pulled out of the water and then, on the safety of the ship, sees someone still out in the sea, that person will reach out to you as well as to the captain to pull him out, and you will reach out to pull him up as you have been.  The Martyrdom of Polycarp sums that up nicely at the beginning as well.

As St. Paul says, "Not me, but Christ in me."  That is how the saints hear and answer prayers, by letting Christ shine through them.  Without Him, as St. Simeon the Theologian pointed out, the saints are like icons in a darkened room, obscure.  Christ the Light makes them shine, like a candle in front of an icon enlivens the colors of the image and makes the golden trim sparkle.

St. Dositheos of Gaza, in explaining the communion of saints, drew a circle with radii going from the circle to its center.  As the lines get closer to the center, they get closer to each other.  So too the saints, as they get closer to God, get closer to each other.
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2012, 10:08:52 AM »

One thing to keep in mind is that when you see an icon of the Theotokos and an Icon of Christ next to each other, the icon of the Theotokos is most likely an icon of the incarnation where she is holding Christ. When put into perspective, I would still say that is an icon of Christ.

You sound very much like me a little over a year ago.  I had all of the same concerns.  My advice would be to keep studying and reading.  Also, try and speak with a Priest in person and share any concerns you may have with him as well.  Youre doing a good thing by even coming here and asking questions.  I did the same!  Good luck with everything and dont hesitate to ask if you have any questions!
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2012, 12:07:25 PM »

... self-proclaimed 'Catholic' who tells me all about saints and who to pray to in various situations, and yet she seems almost clueless about everything else in the Christian teaching and has never read the Bible. But I also know that there are always going to be people in every faith who are a little confused, and I am certainly one of them! I try not to make generalizations. What I meant to describe are people who call themselves "Christians', but who have lost touch with the the teaching about Christ as the only savior. I know they are not truly Christan in such a case.

Just a thought, because I'm pretty sure that you didn't mean this as a criticism, but rather an observation. But I've come to realize that it ill behooves me to sit in judgment on other people and their faith or relationship to Christ. We cannot know their hearts, as He does. My goal, and believe me, it's hard enough, is to "see to myself and my own sins."

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« Reply #14 on: October 25, 2012, 12:31:00 PM »

Hi Armchair Theologian,

One advice : don`t try too much at a time and always be sincere with who you are and what you believe.. don`t try to grasp too much at a time..

I will try to answer some of the things concerning Mary.God does not change.He remains the same.What we do when we plead Mary to "pray" to God or Jesus for us, we invoke the reverse of the Incarnation.. Mary's position that granted the Incarnation.I think the same is valid for the saints.When we pray to the saints or petition the saints we invoke their life and virtue that granted them sanctification.We venerate objects and icons as in to give everything its proper honor and glorification.It is just like saying thanks to God for the sun, for the air, for giving you a home and realizing the quality and qualification of everything, the beauty of all, in all and enjoying the full potential of things and life, enjoying things as they are, in their fit place.


About something explicitly thought by the Apostles.Does it have to be?Were the Apostles so wide as to contain the whole truth in the world?We say that the Church has the fullness of truth.Yet even though the church is a wide socio-cultural organization there are truths that are not in the church.. Having the fullness of truth means teaching an undefiled truth.

Don`t try to push things but accept them gradually.Patience, a lot of prayer and humility.God bless!
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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2012, 02:07:43 AM »

It worries me to see an icon of Christ and an icon of the Theotokos given equal preeminence in any display of icons, and I've seen a lot of that in my image searches. Perhaps I merely misunderstand the gesture.

This is an iconostasis, in front of the altar of an Orthodox Church:



You will notice three things: Left, an icon of the Theotokos and Child; center, the Cross or Crucifixion; right, Christ Pantokrator (which means, 'almighty').

The icon on the left re-presents the First coming of Christ in the flesh.

The cross/crucifix in the altar, in the center, re-presents the redeeming work of Christ, and where his Death is proclaimed, in the Eucharist, until he comes again.

The icon on the right re-presents his Second Coming in glory, on the clouds of heaven.
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if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

"Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple."
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2012, 02:24:35 AM »


Just a thought, because I'm pretty sure that you didn't mean this as a criticism, but rather an observation. But I've come to realize that it ill behooves me to sit in judgment on other people and their faith or relationship to Christ. We cannot know their hearts, as He does. My goal, and believe me, it's hard enough, is to "see to myself and my own sins."


Thank you, and you're right.  I think you've really laid out the heathiest approach to looking at people who seem to have a different way of doing things spiritually. I freely admit I'm guilty of inwardly looking down my nose at others. It's pride, and it has to be repented of. But I wanted to use this example to illustrate one of my concerns. Smiley

Hi Armchair Theologian,

One advice : don`t try too much at a time and always be sincere with who you are and what you believe.. don`t try to grasp too much at a time..

I will try to answer some of the things concerning Mary.God does not change.He remains the same.What we do when we plead Mary to "pray" to God or Jesus for us, we invoke the reverse of the Incarnation.. Mary's position that granted the Incarnation.I think the same is valid for the saints.When we pray to the saints or petition the saints we invoke their life and virtue that granted them sanctification.We venerate objects and icons as in to give everything its proper honor and glorification.It is just like saying thanks to God for the sun, for the air, for giving you a home and realizing the quality and qualification of everything, the beauty of all, in all and enjoying the full potential of things and life, enjoying things as they are, in their fit place.

About something explicitly thought by the Apostles.Does it have to be?Were the Apostles so wide as to contain the whole truth in the world?We say that the Church has the fullness of truth.Yet even though the church is a wide socio-cultural organization there are truths that are not in the church.. Having the fullness of truth means teaching an undefiled truth.

Don`t try to push things but accept them gradually.Patience, a lot of prayer and humility.God bless!

Hey, thanks a lot. Yeah, I've really been reading lot on this, but I think I might have even overwhelmed myself a little. I do things like that sometimes. The prospects of changing faiths is sometimes exciting and sometimes frightening, but I'm going to attempt to take my time and work this out through prayer, and just trust God to lead me and to reveal to me what he will. It's something like counting the cost, but I don't feel there is any hurry, and I'm comfortable simply waiting until I'm certain. And it's helpful that no one has given me a lecture about why I must convert and so forth. No one is pressuring, everyone is just being extremely helpful. It's very nice. Smiley

I'll be sure to update you all about my experience Sunday. My wife and I are both planing to get up early and go, and she's curious as well. Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2012, 02:31:08 AM »


This is an iconostasis, in front of the altar of an Orthodox Church:



You will notice three things: Left, an icon of the Theotokos and Child; center, the Cross or Crucifixion; right, Christ Pantokrator (which means, 'almighty').

The icon on the left re-presents the First coming of Christ in the flesh.

The cross/crucifix in the altar, in the center, re-presents the redeeming work of Christ, and where his Death is proclaimed, in the Eucharist, until he comes again.

The icon on the right re-presents his Second Coming in glory, on the clouds of heaven.

OK, well that is encouraging! I love this kind love symbolism, too, btw. I don't remember what it was that I saw, but I think it was images of home prayer-corners, and then an image from what I presumed to be an orthodox church, but as I said, 'maybe I misunderstood the gesture'...it seems I did! Thanks for pointing this out.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2012, 02:35:49 AM by Armchair Theologian » Logged
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2012, 10:30:45 AM »


Just a thought, because I'm pretty sure that you didn't mean this as a criticism, but rather an observation. But I've come to realize that it ill behooves me to sit in judgment on other people and their faith or relationship to Christ. We cannot know their hearts, as He does. My goal, and believe me, it's hard enough, is to "see to myself and my own sins."


Thank you, and you're right.  I think you've really laid out the heathiest approach to looking at people who seem to have a different way of doing things spiritually. I freely admit I'm guilty of inwardly looking down my nose at others. It's pride, and it has to be repented of. But I wanted to use this example to illustrate one of my concerns. Smiley


No worries. Just I wanted to share my thoughts - before I became Orthodox, I was of the opinion that I was a pretty good Christian, and way better than the "common herd." Fortunately, my experience of Orthodoxy, the Orthodox Faithful, and especially the Sacrament of Confession, has disabused me of that kind of erroneous thinking!
We say in the Liturgy every Sunday,  "I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. "
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2012, 12:13:32 PM »

I don't remember what it was that I saw, but I think it was images of home prayer-corners
Well, you rarely ever see an icon of the Theotokos without Christ in it. Pretty much only event icons about her life, like maybe the Annunciation.

The Theotokos holding Christ isn't really just about her, after all. Wink
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Quote from: Orthonorm
if Christ does and says x. And someone else does and says not x and you are ever in doubt, follow Christ.

"Simply put, if you’re not willing to take what is dearest to you, whether plans or people, and kiss it goodbye, you can’t be my disciple."
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« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2012, 02:19:58 PM »

Hi people. I've been late getting back on here. I went to the Orthodox Parish with my wife and attended the liturgy. It was a very positive experience. I absolutely loved the liturgy, and I found it to be very much focused on Christ. Afterwards I was able to talk to a few of the people there, who enthusiastically introduced themselves, and they were very friendly and helpful. Interestingly, the first people to introduce themselves was a couple who had also been Nazarene before coming to Orthodoxy. They said it was crazy where the Holy Spirit will lead you if you let Him, and they told me the story of what brought them to Orthodoxy. I was introduced to the priest, and he gave me his card and told me I could get a hold of him if I had any questions. He told me about their Orthodoxy 101 classes and encouraged me to go if I wanted to learn more. I'm going to have try to get Wednesdays off from my job so I can attend. Over all a good experience, but obviously I'm still far away from being ready to make a call on the whole thing. Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2012, 02:32:41 PM »

Hi people. I've been late getting back on here. I went to the Orthodox Parish with my wife and attended the liturgy. It was a very positive experience. I absolutely loved the liturgy, and I found it to be very much focused on Christ. Afterwards I was able to talk to a few of the people there, who enthusiastically introduced themselves, and they were very friendly and helpful. Interestingly, the first people to introduce themselves was a couple who had also been Nazarene before coming to Orthodoxy. They said it was crazy where the Holy Spirit will lead you if you let Him, and they told me the story of what brought them to Orthodoxy. I was introduced to the priest, and he gave me his card and told me I could get a hold of him if I had any questions. He told me about their Orthodoxy 101 classes and encouraged me to go if I wanted to learn more. I'm going to have try to get Wednesdays off from my job so I can attend. Over all a good experience, but obviously I'm still far away from being ready to make a call on the whole thing. Smiley

Exciting stuff!!!!!! I'm jealous, and may the odds be ever in your favor  Grin
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« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2012, 03:39:52 AM »

Glad you enjoyed the Divine Liturgy.  We converted almost three years ago and back then I thought "How could this not get boring, doing the same service week after week?" and yet it never has.  It draws me to Christ each and every time -- not only as we pray the prayers, but as we come to the receiving of the Eucharist -- and that never gets old.  

A thought on the icons of the Theotokos:  I said something like what you mentioned to someone before (about the icon of the Theotokos seeming to be equal if not preeminent over the icon of Christ -- I think it was a comment on there being more flowers or candles by the Theotokos icon ) and they quickly reminded me that it is just as much an icon of Christ as the one on the right side of the iconostasis.  It's about Him, at a different point in His life, but still Him.  PLUS, if you look in Scripture you can see that the magi fell down before an "icon" of Christ in the Holy Mother's arms.  They were worshiping Him and honoring her.  We do much the same.
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