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thomascothran
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« on: January 13, 2005, 06:25:33 PM »

Generally the Orthodox Church "markets" itself as being the New Testament Church. But when I point this out in discussions with other they usually point out that the Orthodox Church is heirarchical, formal, and liturgical; while the first century church was not. They often claim that there is no proof whatsoever of the early Church looking like the Orthodox Church, but rather that the early Church resembled non-denominational Protestant churches of today. The earliest evidence I am aware of comes from the second century. Are the practices of the Orthodox Church innovations, and if so, what is wrong with practicing like the early Church did? Are there any good articles or books on this?
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2005, 07:20:26 PM »

Generally the Orthodox Church "markets" itself as being the New Testament Church. But when I point this out in discussions with other they usually point out that the Orthodox Church is heirarchical, formal, and liturgical; while the first century church was not. They often claim that there is no proof whatsoever of the early Church looking like the Orthodox Church, but rather that the early Church resembled non-denominational Protestant churches of today. The earliest evidence I am aware of comes from the second century. Are the practices of the Orthodox Church innovations, and if so, what is wrong with practicing like the early Church did? Are there any good articles or books on this?

Usually those that argue that the early church was not hierarchical also argue that it wasn't Eucharistic and any early Church Father will argue contrary. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2005, 08:41:54 PM »

One person's "Innovation" may be another person's "organic developement" or "revealed understanding" or something like that...

Sorry if I sound glum. But there are times when views on things seem to derive from the speaker/writer's point of view or whether they like something or not. Like things that used to be around to show it, I think one went something like:

"I'm secure in my convictions. You're strongminded. He's stubborn as a mule."

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2005, 09:14:52 PM »

I don't have much time to go into details, but the discovery of liturgical worship being in the church from the beginning is one of the things that led Fr. Peter Gilquist and his colleages to Orthodoxy.  He describes this in his book Becoming Orthodox[/i].
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2005, 09:26:59 PM »

Thomas

Greetings. I believe that most of the Protestant points that you mention about Orthodoxy are purely ahistorical. This is not to say that all Protestantism is ahistorical; indeed, there are some very knowledgable historians and churchmen in the Anglican, Lutheran, and other Churches, who have done a great service to the Church catholic in their publishing efforts. Nonetheless, as to the particular objections you mention, almost all of them are built upon a faulty (sola scriptura) methodology for approaching Christian history. In fact, not only is sola scriptura ahistorical, but this principle also ignores what Scripture itself teaches. The Scripture plainly says that there were things handed on by the Apostles which were to be followed by Christians but which were not written down (2 Thes. 3:15; cf Jn. 20:30; 21:25).

Orthodoxy Hierarchical?
This is perhaps the strangest charge, since it should be obvious even from a quick reading of Scripture that the early Church was hierarchical. Jesus picked twelve specific disciples to have a special place in the early Church (Matt. 10:1-4; 28:16-20; Mark 3:12-19; Lk. 6:13-16; 9:1-2; etc.), and he also picked three of those disciples to have an even more prominent role than the other nine (Matt. 17:1-9; 26:37; Mk. 5:37). At another time our Lord sent 70 specific disciples out (Lk. 10:1).

Jesus clearly said that he had founded a Church (Matt. 16:18-19), and that Christians would be bound to follow the leaders of this Church (Matt. 18:17-18; Jn. 20:23). This is why the author of Hebrews said, "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation" (Heb. 13:7), and "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your soul , as they that give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Heb. 13:17)

The apostles did nothing more than continue the hierarchical system that they had been given by Christ our God. They quickly replaced the fallen apostle with another (Acts 1:15-26), and later on specifically chose seven deacons to minister to the Church (Acts 6:2-6). Everywhere that they traveled they appointed specific people to be the leaders (Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:10; etc.) St. Paul said: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (Tit. 1:5). This was a divinely inspired calling done through the human instrument God had chosen, as shown elsewhere when Paul says, "And God set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers" (1 Cor. 12:28).

This is why, writing in 96AD, St. Clement of Rome (who had lived, learnt, and ministered among the apostles) said: "The apostles have preached the Gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done sol from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God." (First Epistle to the Corinthians, 42). St. Clement also gave the reason for God doing this:

Quote
Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blame-lessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. First Epistle to the Corinthians, 44

This principle of an apostolic succession was specifically articulated by other writers throughout the early Church, including early Fathers such as St. Ignatius (GÇá107) and St. Irenaeus (GÇá202). But getting back to what the Scripture itself tells us, we know not only that the apostles had appointed specific people to be leaders in the Church and to appoint other leaders, but that the apostles also sometimes warned that specific leaders had gone bad and were to be avoided or rebuked. (Tit. 3:10; 3 Jn. 9-10; 2 Tim. 4:5).

In essence, there was a clear hierarchy and there was suppose to be accountability within this hierarchy. This is the reason that, even when someone was especially chosen outside of the regular procedures to be a leader, it was still felt that this appointment had to be ok'd by the Church. Think about this: St. Paul was given a special commission and taught "his gospel" directly from God, and yet felt that he needed to make sure he was in doctrinal agreement and accepted by the apostles! (Gal. 1:11-12, 17-19; 2:1-10). Also, St. Paul tells us himself that he was healed and confirmed by someone in the Church, before he started preaching his gospel (Acts 9:17-20).

It is no suprise, then, that more than once in Acts we see the hierarchy of the Church gathering to consider how to resolve certain issues. One of the most important such councils is recorded in Acts 15. The formula given by Saint James about how they arrived at their decision perfectly articulates how the Orthodox Church believes the hierarchy should work: "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us" (Acts 15:28). Act this council, the church leaders present made a decision on certain issues facing Gentile converts, and then sent this decision out as something which they expected would be followed and affirmed by everyone in the Church (cf Acts 15:28-30). When there were some problems, and some clarification was necessary, another council was convened (as recorded in Acts 21.)

And so it has continued throughout Church history, that the hierarchy which has its succession directly from the apostles, gathers in council together to discuss and resolve various matters. The early Church was very "formal," if you want to use that word, when it came to many matters. Hierarchy and administrative church order, while admittedly remaining very loose and unstructured for the first few centuries, was nonetheless supposed to be "peer reviewed" by all the other hierarchs in the Church, and actions were to be taken when someone went too far outside the bounds of orthodoxy. The letters of St. Ignatius witness to this very well.

Orthodoxy Liturgical?
The answer to this particular issue is not as easily seen in Scripture, though we are not totally devoid of evidence. It might be easiest to start with the obvious: the Church retained much of things seen in worship in the Old Testament times, including a regular use of the Psalms as the sort of de facto prayer book (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; James 5:13), and use of incense, appointed times of prayer, etc. (Acts 3:1; 10:9, 30; Rev. 8:3-4). We know from the writings of the early Christians that there were definate, set worship practices which were more or less followed by the Church, as can be seen in the Didache (c. 100AD), St. Justin Martyr (GÇá165), and other sources.

The New Testament itself attests that in the years following the victory of our Lord on the cross, Christians continually and regularly met for prayer and worship, but these are sometimes vague and contradictory. St. Paul speaks to the Corinthian Church as people who already know and follow the same practices as himself (cf 1 Cor. 10:16), and St. Paul also took some time to correct the Corinthians on something they were doing wrong when it came to their gathering (1 Cor. 11:19-34). It might also be said that when worship services are seen as symbols throughout the book of revelation, they have a very liturgical feel to them.

The only instance in the Scripture that gives direct support to liturgical worship that I am aware of can be found in the book of Acts: "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Seperate me Barnabas and Saul fo the work whereunto I have called them." (Acts 13:2) The word rendered "ministered" here is leitourgeo in the Greek, meaning "to perform religious or charitable functions" (Strongs Concordance). There may be good archaeological evidence out there on this topic, but unfortunately I wouldn't know where to look for it.

Certainly by the fourth century there is a lot of evidence of liturgical worship, but then it is admitted that this would hardly be persuasive to most Protestants. Certainly from the beginning we followed St. Paul's command: "Let all things be done decently and in order." (1 Cor. 14:40). For further info on liturgical worship, I would suggest the following sources:

The Doctrines of the Orthodox Church: Worship and Sacraments

Father Constantine Nasr, The Bible in the Liturgy

Archbp. Lazar (Puhalo), Understanding the Divine Liturgy: Scripture in the Liturgy

EDIT--Fixed a Scriptural verse which was incomplete. I know there are other typos, sorry.
« Last Edit: January 13, 2005, 11:56:36 PM by Paradosis » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2005, 11:34:50 PM »

Paradosis,

Thanks for the informative post.

DT
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2005, 02:56:14 AM »

The first Christians were practicing Jews, and their form of worship was liturgical.  (I'm new here, so if I need correction, feel free to jump in!   laugh Smiley ) My discovery of Orthodoxy followed an incredible experience in my home.  I spent my entire life believing Arianism until five years ago -- nothing anyone said to me, or showed me in scripture made a difference, until God changed my heart.  At the same time He revealed Himself to me as Jesus Christ, I then believed in the Trinity, and also was shown that I was to search for a liturgical church, with apostolic succession, and one that believed in the actual Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist.  I believe it was in a book by Schmemman, he said  if someone if seeking Truth with all their heart, no matter what they go through to find it, they will run directly in the arms of Jesus Christ.  That is exactly what happened to me.  He was there for me, His arms open, held me, and revealed Truth to me.
  During my search before finding Orthodoxy, one of my studies was Judaism, and it seems to me that it would be a natural progression, for those that became the first Christians, for a liturgical form of worship to develop.
Question for those "in the know":  Isn't the Greek word for "liturgy" used 16 or 17 times in the New Testament, and just not translated as such? 
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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2005, 03:16:08 PM »

Hi Kardia,

Thanks for the wonderful story of your conversion.   Smiley  Welcome to the board!

Bob
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« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2005, 03:39:59 PM »


+++¦+¦-ä++-à -ü+¦++-à ++-ä-ë++ in Acts 13:2 is the most often referred to Kardia.

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« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2005, 05:00:31 PM »

Question for those "in the know": Isn't the Greek word for "liturgy" used 16 or 17 times in the New Testament, and just not translated as such?

Well, the word in Acts 13:2 -- +++¦+¦-ä++-Ã -ü+¦++-Ã ++-ä-ë++, which Demetri mentioned -- actually only really means, "the common work of the people."  It doesn't necessarily mean "ritual worship," though this is what we've brought it to mean.  Baptists and Charismatics, both "non-liturgical," supposedly, believe themselves to be engaging in "common work" or "service" to the Lord. 
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« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2005, 05:03:04 PM »

True. Pedro; that is what we Greeks use for "liturgy".
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« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2005, 07:11:12 PM »

Two further thoughts about what I posted yesterday. First, regarding hierarchy, as I look back I find it strange that I mentioned Jesus appointing twelve specific leaders, and then three higher leaders from within the twelve, but didn't mention in any way that Peter was seen as the leader of them all, which can be seen in a number of different ways in the New Testament. Peter was always the first Apostle mentioned in the listing of the twelve (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:12-19; Lk. 6:13-16), was among the three who were something of an "inner circle," (Matt. 17:1-9; 26:37; Mk. 5:37) and seemed the boldest of these three (Matt. 17:1-9; Mk. 9:1-13).

Many of the important exchanges seen in the Gospels took place between our Lord and Peter representing the Apostles (Matt. 16:13-28; Jn. 6:61-69; etc.) Whatever one's interpretation of Matt. 16:18-19, it is probably nothing more than eisegesis to attempt to exclude the person of Peter entirely from what is going on in the passage; there is clear patristic evidence that Peter was, at least in part, being directly spoken of here as a rock and foundation. Also, while Jesus gave the powers of the Church to all the apostles, they were first (and foremost) appointed to Peter.

Before our Lord finally ascended, he had the famous exchange about "feeding my sheep," (Jn. 21:14-17) which of course we Orthodox would not give the same importance to as Catholics, but which I think is nonetheless important. As we move into Acts, we see Peter taking the leading rule in the evangelization of the people and defense of the Gospel (Acts 2:14; 4:8; 5:29; etc.) St. Paul clearly saw Peter as the leader of the Apostles (Gal. 1:18-19; cf Gal. 2:7-9). When some were disputing with Paul over Gentile converts, Peter was one of the ones to stand up and defend St. Paul's ministry (Acts 15:5-11).*

Clearly in the early Church Peter was also seen as the leader of the apostles, and as having had a special place among them (evidence of this can be provided if necessary).

Also, one other thought, this one about liturgy. I quoted a couple passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews yesterday in the part about hierarchy, but it is also noteworthy how much Hebrews wishes to maintain some type of continuity as far as worship goes with the Old Testament. The main theme of Hebews might even be described as: "Christian: it's the same as the faith of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but yet very different." Certainly much had been superceded, yet the whole Epistle is an attempt to make Christianity seem not so unlike [true] Judaism after all. The high priest, obedience to elders, reverence for fathers, etc. all demonstrate how the epistle was very much concerned with making sure that people did not see Christian worship and thought as an innovation of men, but as a divine gift/betterment from God. It was not an abolishment of the law and the prophets, but the fulfillment and transfiguration of them.


* As with most Orthodox, I believe that St. James presided or co-presided at the Acts 15 Council, though I would say that was due to honor for James since it was in his see (Jerusalem), and Peter was only being humble. Whatever the case, I personally don't think Acts 15 can be seen as either direct support for or against a concept like papal supremacy.
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« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2005, 07:13:16 PM »

Kardia,

I went back and looked over the various Greek words rendered as "minister" (and it's variations), and here is what I came up with. Of course, not knowing Biblical Greek, I realize that any effort in this area is amateurish and possibly error-filled, but fwiw here it is...

- I saw three Greek words being used to speak of Deacons: diakoneo, diakonia, and diakonos. When the passage speaks of this type of minister as an actual office, the KJV generally translates it as Deacon (Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8-12) Otherwise this word generally seems to speak of any type of service, aid, attendance, etc., whether it be by angels, men, or the God-man himself. These three words are used over 70 times in the New Testament.

- Another set of words was used to speak of people being under obedience, subordinated, or listening attentively as they were being ministered to: tohupecho, hpereteo, huperetes. These three words were used about a half dozen times.

- About five other words were used, here and there, mostly to denote working or aiding someone.

- Most relevant to this thread, four words were used which might be related to "liturgy": leitourgeo, leitourgia, leitourgikos, and leitourgos. For anyone who wants to look the passages up, their usage in the New Testament was as follows:

Leitourgeo - Rom. 15:27; Acts 13:2; Heb. 10:11

Leitourgia - Lk. 1:23; Heb. 8:6; Heb. 9:21

leitourgikos - Heb. 1:14

leitourgos - Rom. 13:6; 15:16; Phil. 2:25; Heb. 1:7; 8:2
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« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2005, 08:25:40 PM »

Paradosis,

Thanks for the interesting info on the word +++¦+¦-ä++-à -ü+¦++-à ++-ä-ë++ and its relatives.

One thing that sparked some interest while I was looking up the scriptures you referenced was in Romans 15:16:

Quote
"That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost."

Paradosis pointed out that the word translated "minister" is +++¦+¦-ä++-Ã -ü+¦++++ in the Greek, which is sometimes (though not always) used to describe liturgical worship.  Interesting, though, is the second word I boldfaced, translated "ministering" in the KJV.  The word in Greek is +¦+¦-ü++-Ã -ü+¦++-Ã ++-ä+¦, and my Interlinear Greek-English NT translates it as "administring in sacred service," while my Gk lexicon defines it as 'to perform sacred rites, esp., to sacrifice, to officiate as a priest, do priestly service."

This word is given priestly connotations in many other translations:

"...doing priestly service with the glad message of God" - Rhm

"...to act as a priest of God's good news" -Gspd

"...with God's gospel for my priestly charge" - Knox

"...in the priestly service of the gospel of God" - RSV

"...my priestly service is the preaching of the gospel of God" - NEB

Though this doesn't prove that St. Paul was sacramentally active as we understand priests to be--it only shows that he saw his preaching ministry as a sacramental, priestly work, which such work still is--it does, however, lend itself to the former possibility as well through the strong connotations +¦+¦-ü++-à -ü+¦++-à ++-ä+¦ has with the Jewish understanding of a sacrificial, liturgical priesthood.
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« Reply #14 on: January 19, 2005, 07:28:39 PM »

I recently found another article which might be helpful in regards to the liturgical question. The article is called The Temple Roots of the Liturgy, and is an excerpt from the larger work, The Great High Priest: The Temple Roots of Christian Liturgy, by Margaret Barker (which is available on Amazon.com, but it's $43)
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« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2005, 03:10:04 AM »

I find the points made by Kardia the most compelling. Since it has no semantical elements that people can chew on and is not up for interpetation. Of course Paradosis is hugely informative (thanks!).

We all know that it is true that the Jewish 'Temple' worship was "liturgical" as we would call it. The people of the time may not have called it that but something else. What is important is the 'MANNERS' of these first beleivers are still among us today. It seems to me; and I may be wrong; that the Bible does not make a distinct clear emphasis on the liturgical (MANNERS) issue because the people at the time who put down for us Gods word were in fact real Jews spreading the faith to Jews. That is to mean 'practicing and adherent true believers in God' who did things the way they always did in 'Temple worship' were preaching to those who were their counter parts. Thus the MANNERS of worship were known to all and was even less of a concern since the main objective was to preach the Gosple of Jesus Christ.

The Orthodox Church is the keeper of these ancient Jewish traditions of Temple worship with the Messiah (Christ) as the center of faith. Even the vestments, incense, alter, Holy of Holies, reading of the Psalms, carrrying the Holy word in procession, is all still very much in tack in the Orthodox MANNERS (liturgical service) and Chuch tradition.

All of our Christian traditions are derived from Temple period Jewish tradition. Protestants may have a hard time with this since they seem to usually be pre-occupied with free thinking and other new age practices. The Church is not free thinking and not new age but ancient and historical, Orthodox ( straight sound thinking). We do not need to prove out to protestants and non-beleivers why we are the way we are. AS Orthodox Christians we can say simply....The Bible and all its truths were inspired by God to the mind and hands of the Orthodox forebears the Apostles. The Bible is Orthodox.

Protestants and the various other christian groups need to realize that the book they use is not protestant at all. That is a great cause for many of the questions they have and may never answer until they find the Church which is the Truth and anything True is Orthodoxical...Unchangable, straight, correct. Truth does not change and Truth does not question; Truth has no questions to ask at all. Truth speaks openly and it is accepted or not. People have to make choices not ask more and more questioins.




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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2005, 11:33:47 AM »

Justin,

That's an interesting article to say the least. However, is it me, or does it seem like the author is relying too much on the assumption that the Documentary Hypothesis is true?

PS: I just read some descriptions and reviews of her books at amazon.com, and she does seem to be advocating (when looking at all of her books together) a form of the Ebionite heresy in which Christ was elevated (or "resurrectied") to his title of "Son of God" at His baptism. Considering how she seems (again, I've only read the article posted and none of her books) to put more stock in apocryphal and pseudigriphal Jewish literature than the canonical OT, I'm not sure how seriously I can take her hypotheses.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2005, 02:07:05 PM »

Ack. I was just finishing up a post and my brower closed on me and I lost it. Anyway, long and short of it. In another excerpt from the same book (I believe), Margaret Barker does speak about evidence that is "devastating" (or something to  that effect) for the Documentary Hypothesis. But I will certainly do a more detailed examination and think more about things before I recommend her again. I certainly don't want to be sending people to information that promotes heresies (or too many outdated Protestant hypotheses).
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2005, 01:36:50 AM »

I have not read any of these books, but am just providing the links because I happened to have come across them today, and much of the other material that I've read on Bp. Alexander's website was very good so I assume these won't be too far off the mark either.

Liturgical Practice in the Fathers: Message of the Fathers of the Church, by Thomas K. Carroll and Thomas Halton
The Eucharist of the Early Christians, by Willy Rordorf, et al.
Early Christian Liturgics
The Shape of the Liturgy, by Dom Gregory Dix
A Manual of Divine Services, by Archpriest D. Sokolof

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« Reply #19 on: January 24, 2005, 06:32:10 AM »

I'll give my recommendation (fwiw) for The Shape of the Liturgy by Dix...haven't read the whole thing, only parts, but it seems to be very thorough and is widely respected.
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