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Author Topic: On the Laity Preaching and Teaching  (Read 3177 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: January 25, 2005, 04:06:29 AM »

6th Ecumenical Council, Canon 64
That a layman must not publicly make a speech or teach, thus investing himself with the dignity of a teacher, but, instead, must submit to the ordinance handed down by the Lord, and to open his ear wide to them who have received the grace of teaching ability, and to be taught by them the divine facts thoroughly. For in the one Church God created different members, according to the utterance of the Apostle, in interpreting which St. Gregory the Theologian clearly presents the right procedure in these matters by saying: "Let us have respect for this procedure, brethren, and let us observe it.

First, let one man be a listener, as the hearing recipient; another, the tongue; another, a hand; another, something else; let one man teach, and let another man learn; and after short periods, as touching one who learns in a state of obedience, and one who leads the chorus in hilarity, and one who renders service in cheerfulness and willingness, let us not all be a tongue, heeding the most apt saying: "Let us not all be Apostles; let us not all be Prophets; let us not all be Interpreters" (1 Cor. 12:29), and after somewhat: "Why are you making out that you are a shepherd, when you are a sheep? Why are you becoming a head, when you happen to be a foot? Why are you attempting to be a general, when you are placed in the ranks of (ordinary) soldiers? And from another quarter Wisdom bids: "Be not hasty in words; vie not with a rich man when thou art indigent" (Prov. 23:4); nor seek to be wiser than the wise. If anyone be caught disobeying the present Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days.


Interpretation
The present Canon prohibits any layman from teaching openly and in church as a teacher; instead he should rather himself be taught by those who have received the gracious gift of teaching. For, just as there are various members belonging to one and the same body, as St. Paul says, so and in like manner there are various persons in the one Church, in the order in which placed each of them. Hence in interpreting this saying of the Apostle’s (in his Homily concerning due order in discussions) he says that one person in the Church must be an ear, another a tongue, another a hand, and another some other member; and neither must all of them be a tongue, or, in other words, teachers, nor must all of them be Apostles, nor all of them Prophets. So, O man, being a sheep, why are you trying to make yourself out to be a shepherd? Being a foot, why are you trying to be a head? Being a soldier, why are you undertaking to be a general? or a leader of soldiers?

Solomon, too, says: "Be not glib of speech and ready to say things; nor, when poor, quarrel with the rich; nor seek to become wiser than the wise, or more learned than the learned." If anyone does things in violation of this Canon, let him be excommunicated for forty days. But if any layman chance to be experienced in discourse and modest in manner, he is not prohibited from answering and teaching in private those asking questions, as Zonaras states, and ch. 32 of Book VIII of the Apostolic Injunctions declare. For they shall be, it says, all taught of God: in which manner Apollos spoke, and taught the facts about the Lord, and in spite of the fact that he only knew the baptism of the Lord (Acts 28:25), and Aquilas and Priscilla, who taught the same Apollos the way of God more exactly.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2005, 11:09:28 AM »

St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 27, 3-5
...Not to every one, my friends, does it belong to philosophize about God; not to every one; the Subject is not so cheap and low; and I will add, not before every audience, nor at all times, nor on all points; but on certain occasions, and before certain persons, and within certain limits.

Not to all men, because it is permitted only to those who have been examined, and are passed masters in meditation, and who have been previously purified in soul and body, or at the very least are being purified. For the impure to touch the pure is, we may safely say, not safe, just as it is unsafe to fix weak eyes upon the sun's rays. And what is the permitted occasion? It is when we are free from all external defilement or disturbance, and when that which rules within us is not confused with vexatious or erring images; like persons mixing up good writing with bad, or filth with the sweet odours of unguents. For it is necessary to be truly at leisure to know God; and when we can get a convenient season, to discern the straight road of the things divine. And who are the permitted persons? They to whom the subject is of real concern, and not they who make it a matter of pleasant gossip, like any other thing, after the races, or the theatre, or a concert, or a dinner, or still lower employments. To such men as these, idle jests and pretty contradictions about these subjects are a part of their amusement.

Next, on what subjects and to what extent may we philosophize? On matters within our reach, and to such an extent as the mental power and grasp of our audience may extend. No further, lest, as excessively loud sounds injure the hearing, or excess of food the body, or, if you will, as excessive burdens beyond the strength injure those who bear them, or excessive rains the earth; so these too, being pressed down and overweighted by the stiffness, if I may use the expression, of the arguments should suffer loss even in respect of the strength they originally possessed.

V. Now, I am not saying that it is not needful to remember God at all times; ... I must not be misunderstood, or I shall be having these nimble and quick people down upon me again. For we ought to think of God even more often than we draw our breath; and if the expression is permissible, we ought to do nothing else. Yea, I am one of those who entirely approve that Word which bids us meditate day and night (Ps. 1:2), and tell at eventide and morning and noon day (Ps. 55:17), and praise the Lord at every time (Ps. 34:1) or, to use Moses' words, whether a man lie down, or rise up, or walk by the way, or whatever else he be doing (Deut. 6:7)--and by this recollection we are to be moulded to purity. So that it is not the continual remembrance of God that I would hinder, but only the talking about God; nor even that as in itself wrong, but only when unseasonable; nor all teaching, but only want of moderation. As of even honey repletion and satiety, though it be of honey, produce vomiting (Prov. 25:16); and, as Solomon says and I think, there is a time for every thing (Eccl. 3:1), and that which is good ceases to be good if it be not done in a good way...
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2005, 12:50:06 AM »

Thank you for posting this.  I happen to know a fellow laymen that thinks he's supposed to be an Orthodox soapbox preacher.  And this clearly tells me that this is wrong. (I already had a hunch)
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2005, 01:16:05 AM »

Yeah. I post it to my own condemnation. I will keep posting stuff like this though, and hope that some day it will sink in. Let it be so.
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2005, 03:27:22 PM »

FWIW, I also enjoy reading whenever someone posts a patristic perspective on something. 
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2005, 05:32:39 PM »

So..................how does all this relate to the fact, that, in Greece, there is a (rather entrenched?) tradition of having educated laymen preach......is it somehow okay because they have the blessing of the bishop to do so? Perhaps it is recognized that, if one has the gift of teaching, it is alright to do so once the Church recognizes the gift and blesses it? Or is it somehow okay if a layman is delegated the right to preach by the bishop? When priests preach, they are doing so only on the bishop's authority, since properly speaking, it is only the bishop who has the prerogative to preach, as far as I know. The dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary is a layman. There is a longstanding tradition, and I mean longstanding, of laymen being theologians in the Orthodox Church. One of the reasons why St. Photius put the Latins' collective noses so out of joint back in the ninth century was because when he was chosen to be Patriarch, he was a layman, and the Latins thought this most irregular.....the Greeks did not. Not that this is connected directly to the charism of teaching, but I think it might be relevant.

It seems to me that "teaching" and "preaching" are often regarded as being separate things.....

If someone has some answers to these queries, I'd love to hear them.

Bob
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« Reply #6 on: January 27, 2005, 03:40:30 AM »

So..................how does all this relate to the fact, that, in Greece, there is a (rather entrenched?) tradition of having educated laymen preach

I'v been in Greece for years and I'v only seen a layman give the homily in church once, so I'm not sure if this is a particularly entrenched tradition. Your experience may be different though.

John
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« Reply #7 on: January 27, 2005, 02:30:37 PM »

Hi Everyone,

How does one keep his mouth shut about the rich heritage found in the Holy Orthodox Church? I was baptized 4 years ago and still find much protestant pollution lurking in my soul polluting my orthodox "light". I struggle with becoming cynical and giving up speaking His name. How can we be honest and straight forward with the "outside" Christian world yet be politically correct not to make "enemies"? Speaking truth in "love" is not always so easily accomplished.

In Christ,

Orthodoxy
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« Reply #8 on: January 27, 2005, 05:31:51 PM »

How does one keep his mouth shut about the rich heritage found in the Holy Orthodox Church? I was baptized 4 years ago and still find much protestant pollution lurking in my soul polluting my orthodox "light".

A bit of clarification, if you don't mind...are you asking how one would go about speaking less about one's faith?  Is that supposed to be an example of "protestant pollution"?  Maybe I'm misreading you; I really can't tell.  Anyway...

Quote
I struggle with becoming cynical and giving up speaking His name. How can we be honest and straight forward with the "outside" Christian world yet be politically correct not to make "enemies"? Speaking truth in "love" is not always so easily accomplished.

It's a hard line to walk, to be sure!  I think this falls under the pious layman answering questions in private.  If people have questions about our life in Christ (and if they don't, then perhaps something's got to give in our own lives), then we should always be ready with an answer "in season and out of season," yet I don't think it's very appropriate to simply spout off at the mouth all the time without being addressed first, like the "Orthodox soapbox preacher" mentioned above.  <shudder>  Gross.
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« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2005, 05:57:28 PM »

Pedro,

In the protestant faith they tend to be a bit more robust in their evangelical endevours than the Orthodox. Pushy you might say. So I am guilty of this "gross" activity of the "Soapbox Preacher" for the Orthodox Church. This is an unfortunate left over from 33 years of protestant brainwashing.

Lord have mercy on me.

Orthodoxy

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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2005, 01:01:01 AM »

"Conceited and self-opinionated people love to teach and give directions. They are not concerned as to the value of their advice. It does not occur to them that they can cause irreparable damage to their neighbor by their misguided advice, which is taken by an inexperienced beginner with irresponsible confidence ... They want to make an impression on the beginner, and subject him morally to themselves. They want human praise. They want to be reputed saints, astute elders, teachers with spiritual insight. They want to nourish their insatiable vanity." - St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, The Arena
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2005, 02:01:37 AM »

Can't we at least discuss any of this as a group. I don't pretend to be a teacherand I have tried not to say anything that I have not read in prayerbook, or from a bishop, Church Father, the Bible, or other Church source. I simply thought that if others are interested in Orthodoxy and/or are Orthodox and there is an issue in which they have not heard what the Church teaches or all that the Church teaches that you should just direct them to it out of courtesy. I simply came here because I live in a small town and have no one to talk to about Orthodoxy during the week and because I am curious if there are some interesting things I have not heard, and I was curious about what others, particularly Orthodox, felt about certain issues. If any Orthodox cleric asked that cease discussing or if indeed this is what the Fathers are saying I will cease posting or discussing Orthodoxy with any other layperson immediately. I confess I have been haughty and preachy many times on the board and I stand guilty and condemned in my vanity but I still think I can say that I am glad to have met many different Orthodox and learned what they've heard and feel, in spite of all the hurt and anger I've directed toward them.
The times I have given long preachy paragraphs about God and the Saints was only to let people know this what I was taught and believe so that they might be able to communicate and understand my viewpoint more clearly.

Your quotes and posts have given me a lot of pause Paradosis.
I am going to seriously think about leaving the board and straying from all discussion of Orthodoxy, and I am not being sarcastic.

Pray for me as I think my vanity and the Devil have led me astray in very bad way again.
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2005, 06:31:15 AM »

Well Sabbas, let me just say this. I don't know that I want people to leave discussion fora entirely. I guess I just post these things because they are out there. What you do with them, I guess that's between you, God, and your spiritual father. Obviously either I don't take the above as absolutely binding, or I am a hypocrite. Actually, to be honest, it's probably both. Perhaps the greater harm would arise from leaving a board like this and instead spending your time doing something that is truly harmful in the "real world"? Or perhaps someone like me causes more harm here than I possibly could get into in the "real world" (as shy and reclusive as I am)? God knows. I don't want to be responsible for driving people away from message boards... but at the same time, maybe these quotes will have a good influence and can help someone (not necessarily by making them leave, but perhaps just be making them think about things more carefully). Fwiw, I have the following guidelines printed out and placed beside my monitor.. I keep telling myself that I am going to follow these guidelines when posting. Maybe someday.

Quote
Does this serve for the edification of people?
Is it necessary to post this for someone's salvation?
Is it I who should be posting this? Should I be posting it now?
Am I prepared to follow up if needed?
Is anyone attacked, either explicitly or implicitly?
Is there any anger, mocking, or similar passions present?
Is there any pride or condescension present?
Have I done what I can to mask any "learnedness"?
Have I tried to state things in simplicity?
Have I tried to maek things as clear as possible?
Is this a balanced response that I am giving?
Have I expressed anything that could be misunderstood?
Have I researched and referenced the sources as best I can?
Have I made sure that I used the best evidence available?
Have I tried to edit this at least once and found it to be acceptable?

And most importantly...
Would I be ok with my spiritual father reading it?
Would I say this to someone I deeply love?

I think that, if I could just use the last two consistently, I would be fine. Sad
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« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2005, 08:36:24 PM »

I understand all this Paradosis but what struck me so much in the quotes was whether or not it is appropriate to discuss Orthodoxy at all? expecially when none of us, as far as I know, are not laity and who among us is can truly fall under the, "But if any layman chance to be experienced in discourse and modest in manner, he is not prohibited from answering and teaching in private those asking questions," portion? I keep asking myself if I'd be better off keeping quiet, and I keep thinking this probably would be best.

Quote
Or perhaps someone like me causes more harm here than I possibly could get into in the "real world" (as shy and reclusive as I am)?
I tend to be shy and reclusive as well and I ask myself the same thing.

Being a catechumen I do not really have a spiritual father yet so I am not sure what will happen, God-willing, after being baptised.

I have gotten mad at others and I see others get mad. I end up feeling like I am trying to show people why I disagree or where they are coming into contradiction with Orthodoxy only to loose my soul. I just read 1 Corinthians 13 a while ago and felt awful for puffing myself up as I have. What's the point of all this back and forth when so many members who disagree with me aren't going to be persuaded and those few who deny Orthodox doctrine while pretending to be Orthodox will not hear the Truth?


I am still giving much thought and prayer to this but I cannot help feeling, as I mentioned before, that the Devil is deceiving me, particularly by making me think I can have anything to do with others salvation when they have the Church, its Fathers, its Scripture, its Mysteries, its clergy available to them.
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2005, 09:07:37 PM »

Sabbas,

Read my quote, I totally understand your delema. We have this great heritage given to us and we dont want to "bury our talent" by remaining silent. I have often pondered the same questions you are asking. I believe the key is to remember God is drawing man to His Son through the Holy Spirit. We have no drawing power other than how we conduct our lives. We are a light we are told. What can a light do to draw people? Shine. I find it easier to deal with people if I keep in mind God is building His temple brick by brick. All the bricks you have talk with are waiting to be placed and when God needs that specific brick your words will ring in there ears and the Holy Spirit will bring rememberance.

Saint Macarius the Great

“If you reprove someone and you yourself get carried away by anger then you are satisfying your own passion. Do not lose yourself therefore, in order to save another.”

I believe Saint Silouan the Athonite said "save your self then you will save others.

The Bible says work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.

So I think the best thing to do is not take this salvation stuff to seriously because God has it covered and to be knowledgeable to give answers to the faith that is within you when called upon to do so then allow the Holy Spirit to work through you in drawing men to the faith. Try not to sweat it and be the best orthodox christian you can be.

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“We ought not to seek among others the truth, which we may have for asking from the Church. For in Her, as in a rich treasure house, the Apostles have laid up in its fullness all that pertains to the truth, so that whosoever seeks, may receive from Her the food of life. She is the door of life.”

Just shine. God will do the rest. Give good account of the faith within you then let the Church do the rest.

In Christ,

Orthodoxy

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« Reply #15 on: October 20, 2005, 12:28:13 AM »

Fwiw, I came across some interesting passages in The Ladder of Divine Ascent where St. John said, essentially, if you can help someone go ahead and speak, even if you yourself cannot live up to what you speak of. The next time I read through it I'll remember to come back and post some of his words.
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« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2010, 05:27:44 AM »

Thousands of posts later, and I'm still making an idiot of myself on here. Sigh.
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« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2010, 07:40:31 AM »

Thousands of posts later, and I'm still making an idiot of myself on here. Sigh.
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« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2010, 07:42:15 AM »

I was told once that it matters not so much how many times we fall, but how many times we get up.
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« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2010, 09:42:01 AM »

So..................how does all this relate to the fact, that, in Greece, there is a (rather entrenched?) tradition of having educated laymen preach......is it somehow okay because they have the blessing of the bishop to do so? Perhaps it is recognized that, if one has the gift of teaching, it is alright to do so once the Church recognizes the gift and blesses it? Or is it somehow okay if a layman is delegated the right to preach by the bishop? When priests preach, they are doing so only on the bishop's authority, since properly speaking, it is only the bishop who has the prerogative to preach, as far as I know. The dean of St. Vladimir's Seminary is a layman. There is a longstanding tradition, and I mean longstanding, of laymen being theologians in the Orthodox Church. One of the reasons why St. Photius put the Latins' collective noses so out of joint back in the ninth century was because when he was chosen to be Patriarch, he was a layman, and the Latins thought this most irregular.....the Greeks did not. Not that this is connected directly to the charism of teaching, but I think it might be relevant.

It seems to me that "teaching" and "preaching" are often regarded as being separate things.....

If someone has some answers to these queries, I'd love to hear them.

Bob

Thanks.  I was going to say that.  The blessing of the bishop is important.  It is a long standing tradition.  In the Russian Empire before the Revolution most of the theology professors were laymen.
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« Reply #20 on: May 14, 2010, 03:34:37 PM »

Condemning Orthodox soapbox preaching? At one of my old churches in the US, a lay member would go to the local public university and preach on a soapbox and he was in good standing with the parish. When he got arrested for his preaching, the parish stood behind him during his legal defence.

Trying to take over liturgy when that's the priests' role is one thing, but spreading the gospel on the street has been done by laymen since time immemorial.
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« Reply #21 on: May 14, 2010, 11:11:22 PM »

Condemning Orthodox soapbox preaching? At one of my old churches in the US, a lay member would go to the local public university and preach on a soapbox and he was in good standing with the parish. When he got arrested for his preaching, the parish stood behind him during his legal defence.

Trying to take over liturgy when that's the priests' role is one thing, but spreading the gospel on the street has been done by laymen since time immemorial.

are you referring to the Willard Preacher? He converted me.
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« Reply #22 on: May 14, 2010, 11:43:48 PM »

Thousands of posts later, and I'm still making an idiot of myself on here. Sigh.
Why should you be any different?
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« Reply #23 on: May 15, 2010, 10:53:36 AM »

I've heard some layman even have a blessing from their bishops to hear confession. I haven't see one yet though.
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« Reply #24 on: May 15, 2010, 06:05:09 PM »

As it happens, I am licensed to preach in my parish, as are several others. The Anglican and Roman rules are, pretty much, if the bishop says it's OK, then it's OK.
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