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Author Topic: Non-Orthodox / non-denominational understanding of the Resurrection of Christ  (Read 396 times) Average Rating: 0
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Velsigne
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« on: December 10, 2013, 02:07:18 PM »

I spent about an hour looking for this as a previous topic here and even more hours on another more theologically driven Orthodox forum and on Ancient Faith podcasts.  I have limited time to spend on forums reading threads and listening to long drawn out sermons that don't address the questions I have.   

I have recently had occasion to talk with a person who attends some type of non-denominational group with whom they are culturally comfortable with the 'come as you are' mentality (unlike me who didn't choose Orthodoxy because I found it comfortable--it is anything but comfortable--so I don't get this either, but I can see how it would be more appealing to a broader class group), but has a Baptist background. 

This person seems very serious about their faith, but I find that I don't understand what they are talking about most of the time. 

This person asked me to explain Orthodoxy to them, but I can't explain Orthodoxy in a 30 second sound bite, so I tried to stick to the very basics, what the word 'Orthodox' means, the basics of the creed, that Christ left His Church here and promised that the 'gates of Hades will not prevail against it'. 

Of course they immediately put down the idea that there could be one Church, and stated that that every individual is a church, that is what the Bible is talking about, not about a physical building somewhere.  I didn't really have a pat answer for that one except that the Church is not just a building somewhere, that Christ is the head of the Church and his followers are his bride, He is the bridegroom.  They didn't like the idea that people have the idea of theirs being the only, exclusively correct faith. 

Another topic this person got very excited about (and I found out that I will hotly contest it and confess it as well) and really wanted to debate was whether Christ rose in the flesh.  They do not believe he rose in the flesh, even when I pointed out Thomas physically touching his wounds and saying "My Lord and my God". 

They said, "Jesus walked through a wall!  He couldn't have been flesh because flesh can't walk through a wall! God is a spirit!" 

My only answer, because I pretty much am only familiar with Orthodoxy, is that Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in the flesh, so our flesh sits next to God, is drawn to God, our path to God was made clear by Christ.  If He didn't rise in the flesh, then our faith is useless.  It's St. Paul and St. Athanasius 101. 

We could not agree on this point, though we found other points on which we could agree. 

Afterward, I tried to look it up somewhere, and spent a day trying to find something in Orthodox readings or in the New Testament that clearly spells this out in a way a Bible-only believer could understand.  The closest I could come up with is St. Paul saying that if Christ didn't rise, our faith is in vain, but he doesn't say 'rise in the flesh'. 

My questions are:

(1)   Do I have this right according to the Holy Orthodox faith, or are there various schools of thought on this?  From where does our Orthodox interpretation derive?  I'm            guessing  from the Apostles, but please correct me if I am wrong on this.

(2)  Does the New Testament clearly state he rose in the flesh somewhere?  If so, is there a translational difficulty that causes people to think He rose as a spirit only? 

(3)  Isn't the belief that Christ rose as spirit only a gnostic belief?  Is this common for non-Orthodox Christians to believe this?  If so, from where does this interpretation derive? 

(4)  I'm also probably missing some finer points on the 'glorification' of the flesh process of the Ascension? 

Sorry this is a long post and fairly complex.  I recommended the person talk with a priest, but was chastised for not being able to explain in a debate what my faith is, though I think I did explain, but just not in a way that was understandable to someone with no experience of Orthodoxy.  Some things I just accept as a mystery that I will, God willing, understand fully later.

In any case, it has been interesting seeing this side of American Christianity, but it is bewildering to me. 


Thanks in advance for any explanation, insight or links to sources in answer to the above!


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« Reply #1 on: December 10, 2013, 02:16:20 PM »

There is the Gospel account of how Jesus ate fish in the presence of the disciples after He had risen from the dead. Can a pure spirit eat fish?
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« Reply #2 on: December 10, 2013, 02:24:15 PM »

I spent about an hour looking for this as a previous topic here and even more hours on another more theologically driven Orthodox forum and on Ancient Faith podcasts.  I have limited time to spend on forums reading threads and listening to long drawn out sermons that don't address the questions I have.   

I have recently had occasion to talk with a person who attends some type of non-denominational group with whom they are culturally comfortable with the 'come as you are' mentality (unlike me who didn't choose Orthodoxy because I found it comfortable--it is anything but comfortable--so I don't get this either, but I can see how it would be more appealing to a broader class group), but has a Baptist background. 

This person seems very serious about their faith, but I find that I don't understand what they are talking about most of the time. 

This person asked me to explain Orthodoxy to them, but I can't explain Orthodoxy in a 30 second sound bite, so I tried to stick to the very basics, what the word 'Orthodox' means, the basics of the creed, that Christ left His Church here and promised that the 'gates of Hades will not prevail against it'. 

Of course they immediately put down the idea that there could be one Church, and stated that that every individual is a church, that is what the Bible is talking about, not about a physical building somewhere.  I didn't really have a pat answer for that one except that the Church is not just a building somewhere, that Christ is the head of the Church and his followers are his bride, He is the bridegroom.  They didn't like the idea that people have the idea of theirs being the only, exclusively correct faith. 

Another topic this person got very excited about (and I found out that I will hotly contest it and confess it as well) and really wanted to debate was whether Christ rose in the flesh.  They do not believe he rose in the flesh, even when I pointed out Thomas physically touching his wounds and saying "My Lord and my God". 

They said, "Jesus walked through a wall!  He couldn't have been flesh because flesh can't walk through a wall! God is a spirit!" 

My only answer, because I pretty much am only familiar with Orthodoxy, is that Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in the flesh, so our flesh sits next to God, is drawn to God, our path to God was made clear by Christ.  If He didn't rise in the flesh, then our faith is useless.  It's St. Paul and St. Athanasius 101. 

We could not agree on this point, though we found other points on which we could agree. 

Afterward, I tried to look it up somewhere, and spent a day trying to find something in Orthodox readings or in the New Testament that clearly spells this out in a way a Bible-only believer could understand.  The closest I could come up with is St. Paul saying that if Christ didn't rise, our faith is in vain, but he doesn't say 'rise in the flesh'. 

My questions are:

(1)   Do I have this right according to the Holy Orthodox faith, or are there various schools of thought on this?  From where does our Orthodox interpretation derive?  I'm            guessing  from the Apostles, but please correct me if I am wrong on this.

(2)  Does the New Testament clearly state he rose in the flesh somewhere?  If so, is there a translational difficulty that causes people to think He rose as a spirit only? 

(3)  Isn't the belief that Christ rose as spirit only a gnostic belief?  Is this common for non-Orthodox Christians to believe this?  If so, from where does this interpretation derive? 

(4)  I'm also probably missing some finer points on the 'glorification' of the flesh process of the Ascension? 

Sorry this is a long post and fairly complex.  I recommended the person talk with a priest, but was chastised for not being able to explain in a debate what my faith is, though I think I did explain, but just not in a way that was understandable to someone with no experience of Orthodoxy.  Some things I just accept as a mystery that I will, God willing, understand fully later.

In any case, it has been interesting seeing this side of American Christianity, but it is bewildering to me. 


Thanks in advance for any explanation, insight or links to sources in answer to the above!




This sounds like Gnosticism.  Matter is bad, spirit is good stuff. That is heresy. God created everything good.

If Christ didn't rise in the flesh that means we can't be saved.  He assumed our humanity so that we could share in his divinity (through energies).  Paul taught this.  I forget the quote but he said that if Christ didn't rise our faith is worthless. 

Also, Christ's tomb is in Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and it is empty.  Also, how will we rise from our graves at the last day?

Non-Orthodox Christians such as Roman Catholics and classical Protstants certainly affirm a physical resurrection.  Some way out there folks do not however.

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« Reply #3 on: December 10, 2013, 02:25:01 PM »

I spent about an hour looking for this as a previous topic here and even more hours on another more theologically driven Orthodox forum and on Ancient Faith podcasts.  I have limited time to spend on forums reading threads and listening to long drawn out sermons that don't address the questions I have.   

I have recently had occasion to talk with a person who attends some type of non-denominational group with whom they are culturally comfortable with the 'come as you are' mentality (unlike me who didn't choose Orthodoxy because I found it comfortable--it is anything but comfortable--so I don't get this either, but I can see how it would be more appealing to a broader class group), but has a Baptist background. 

This person seems very serious about their faith, but I find that I don't understand what they are talking about most of the time. 

This person asked me to explain Orthodoxy to them, but I can't explain Orthodoxy in a 30 second sound bite, so I tried to stick to the very basics, what the word 'Orthodox' means, the basics of the creed, that Christ left His Church here and promised that the 'gates of Hades will not prevail against it'. 

Of course they immediately put down the idea that there could be one Church, and stated that that every individual is a church, that is what the Bible is talking about, not about a physical building somewhere.  I didn't really have a pat answer for that one except that the Church is not just a building somewhere, that Christ is the head of the Church and his followers are his bride, He is the bridegroom.  They didn't like the idea that people have the idea of theirs being the only, exclusively correct faith. 

Another topic this person got very excited about (and I found out that I will hotly contest it and confess it as well) and really wanted to debate was whether Christ rose in the flesh.  They do not believe he rose in the flesh, even when I pointed out Thomas physically touching his wounds and saying "My Lord and my God". 

They said, "Jesus walked through a wall!  He couldn't have been flesh because flesh can't walk through a wall! God is a spirit!" 

My only answer, because I pretty much am only familiar with Orthodoxy, is that Jesus rose and ascended to the right hand of the Father in the flesh, so our flesh sits next to God, is drawn to God, our path to God was made clear by Christ.  If He didn't rise in the flesh, then our faith is useless.  It's St. Paul and St. Athanasius 101. 

We could not agree on this point, though we found other points on which we could agree. 

Afterward, I tried to look it up somewhere, and spent a day trying to find something in Orthodox readings or in the New Testament that clearly spells this out in a way a Bible-only believer could understand.  The closest I could come up with is St. Paul saying that if Christ didn't rise, our faith is in vain, but he doesn't say 'rise in the flesh'. 

My questions are:

(1)   Do I have this right according to the Holy Orthodox faith, or are there various schools of thought on this?  From where does our Orthodox interpretation derive?  I'm            guessing  from the Apostles, but please correct me if I am wrong on this.

(2)  Does the New Testament clearly state he rose in the flesh somewhere?  If so, is there a translational difficulty that causes people to think He rose as a spirit only? 

(3)  Isn't the belief that Christ rose as spirit only a gnostic belief?  Is this common for non-Orthodox Christians to believe this?  If so, from where does this interpretation derive? 

(4)  I'm also probably missing some finer points on the 'glorification' of the flesh process of the Ascension? 

Sorry this is a long post and fairly complex.  I recommended the person talk with a priest, but was chastised for not being able to explain in a debate what my faith is, though I think I did explain, but just not in a way that was understandable to someone with no experience of Orthodoxy.  Some things I just accept as a mystery that I will, God willing, understand fully later.

In any case, it has been interesting seeing this side of American Christianity, but it is bewildering to me. 


Thanks in advance for any explanation, insight or links to sources in answer to the above!




I once got in the middle of a back and forth of what the Church is with protestant around here, perhaps it could be helpful. We never finished for whatever reason. I'll look it up.
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2013, 02:38:16 PM »

I've taken the quotes of mine out of the thread. You will see the protestant's replies in them. I didn't just slap down the entire exchange for readability's sake.

Let me know if this helpful:

We didn't cover it here, I don't think.

The Church as relationship with/within God begins before time with the internal fellowship of the Trinity. As far as humanity is concerned, it begins with Adam.

I would suggest it began with the creation of the first creatures, the noetic beings. The Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God. The word in Greek, which St. Paul uses a lot is ekklesia from ekkalein, which means something like called out.

Not a new coinage, but an old Greek word, which generally meant practically an assembly or gathering of persons.

So putting the etymology together with its quotidian playing out, we get something like: the assembly of those who were called out.

So I would suggest such a definition would only apply to those called out by God. I think there is a felicitous aspect of language at work. We were called into being. The Father was not. The Son is begotten. The Holy Spirit proceeds.

FWIW, the word qahal, which certainly got glossed as ekklesia, has a similar etymology and pragmatic upshot.

So this is just to say where I think the Church began and when, if such words can be used.

If we are in agreement here or close enough. Then we have to ask what is the ontological nature of the Church. I think my definition above is broad enough to begin: the Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God.

If we can agree this broad definition captures something (I am not sure how finely we need to dice for internets' and sanity's sake) of the ontological nature (I hate that turn of phrase) of the Church, then I think we can move rather forward in a reasonable manner to answering your question.

Let me know what you think.


We didn't cover it here, I don't think.

The Church as relationship with/within God begins before time with the internal fellowship of the Trinity. As far as humanity is concerned, it begins with Adam.

I would suggest it began with the creation of the first creatures, the noetic beings. The Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God. The word in Greek, which St. Paul uses a lot is ekklesia from ekkalein, which means something like called out.

Not a new coinage, but an old Greek word, which generally meant practically an assembly or gathering of persons.

So putting the etymology together with its quotidian playing out, we get something like: the assembly of those who were called out.

So I would suggest such a definition would only apply to those called out by God. I think there is a felicitous aspect of language at work. We were called into being. The Father was not. The Son is begotten. The Holy Spirit proceeds.

FWIW, the word qahal, which certainly got glossed as ekklesia, has a similar etymology and pragmatic upshot.

So this is just to say where I think the Church began and when, if such words can be used.

If we are in agreement here or close enough. Then we have to ask what is the ontological nature of the Church. I think my definition above is broad enough to begin: the Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God.

If we can agree this broad definition captures something (I am not sure how finely we need to dice for internets' and sanity's sake) of the ontological nature (I hate that turn of phrase) of the Church, then I think we can move rather forward in a reasonable manner to answering your question.

Let me know what you think.
Your definition makes sense to me, though I have difficulties with how it includes the Church as "institution" (Why does a voluntary assembly need it's own money? But perhaps I'm being influenced by some modern House Church Only advocates I've come across...) But at any rate, yes, I can accept your description.

We ain't to any "institution" as such yet.

OK, if we can agree that the Church is something like: the Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God.

There is a problem in our definition or something that we have not discussed at least.

In virtue of what is a being in Communion with God?

What do you think? Let's keep this "simple". We will try to not to get too sophisticated at this point.

In full disclosure, I anticipate some difficulty here, as there is a certain approach most people take here, and I am trying to make that clear.

Since we are trying a couple things at once I believe:

Figure out what your assumptions are.
Show what my assumptions are.
See if they make any sense within Orthodoxy.
See if to what degree we can or cannot accept the Orthodox understanding of what the Church is.

Right now, if I can be so arrogant, for you, the first matter is of most import.

Without getting a handle a little bit on some our implicit assumptions, how can we jump into the fracas built upon our assumptions with any sanity or usefulness?

If we are not willing to simply submit to the Church as Orthodoxy understands it, which I am.
If we have not learn to then trust and faith in the Orthodox Church, as I have.

Then, we can have a productive conversation at least. And I think that can never hurt.

We'll see.

So back to the question:

In virtue of what is a being in Communion with God?

p.s. Of course, I just think going to liturgy a lot is the best answer, but here we are.

We didn't cover it here, I don't think.

The Church as relationship with/within God begins before time with the internal fellowship of the Trinity. As far as humanity is concerned, it begins with Adam.

I would suggest it began with the creation of the first creatures, the noetic beings. The Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God. The word in Greek, which St. Paul uses a lot is ekklesia from ekkalein, which means something like called out.

Not a new coinage, but an old Greek word, which generally meant practically an assembly or gathering of persons.

So putting the etymology together with its quotidian playing out, we get something like: the assembly of those who were called out.

So I would suggest such a definition would only apply to those called out by God. I think there is a felicitous aspect of language at work. We were called into being. The Father was not. The Son is begotten. The Holy Spirit proceeds.

FWIW, the word qahal, which certainly got glossed as ekklesia, has a similar etymology and pragmatic upshot.

So this is just to say where I think the Church began and when, if such words can be used.

If we are in agreement here or close enough. Then we have to ask what is the ontological nature of the Church. I think my definition above is broad enough to begin: the Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God.

If we can agree this broad definition captures something (I am not sure how finely we need to dice for internets' and sanity's sake) of the ontological nature (I hate that turn of phrase) of the Church, then I think we can move rather forward in a reasonable manner to answering your question.

Let me know what you think.
Your definition makes sense to me, though I have difficulties with how it includes the Church as "institution" (Why does a voluntary assembly need it's own money? But perhaps I'm being influenced by some modern House Church Only advocates I've come across...) But at any rate, yes, I can accept your description.

We ain't to any "institution" as such yet.

OK, if we can agree that the Church is something like: the Church is the gathering of creatures in Communion with God.

There is a problem in our definition or something that we have not discussed at least.

In virtue of what is a being in Communion with God?

What do you think? Let's keep this "simple". We will try to not to get too sophisticated at this point.

In full disclosure, I anticipate some difficulty here, as there is a certain approach most people take here, and I am trying to make that clear.

Since we are trying a couple things at once I believe:

Figure out what your assumptions are.
Show what my assumptions are.
See if they make any sense within Orthodoxy.
See if to what degree we can or cannot accept the Orthodox understanding of what the Church is.

Right now, if I can be so arrogant, for you, the first matter is of most import.

Without getting a handle a little bit on some our implicit assumptions, how can we jump into the fracas built upon our assumptions with any sanity or usefulness?

If we are not willing to simply submit to the Church as Orthodoxy understands it, which I am.
If we have not learn to then trust and faith in the Orthodox Church, as I have.

Then, we can have a productive conversation at least. And I think that can never hurt.

We'll see.

So back to the question:

In virtue of what is a being in Communion with God?

p.s. Of course, I just think going to liturgy a lot is the best answer, but here we are.
Fair enough. I'll shelve the orange tree thing. I've never been good at sussing out my own assumptions...

The Church is the gathering of creatures in communion with God.

In virtue of what is a being in Communion with God? In virtue of his submission to God. "I am the Lord's handmaiden. Let it be done to me as you have said." The more we surrender everything in us, the more He comes in and "sups" with us.

I think this a great answer to start with and nice line of Scripture, though I dislike the use of the word handmaiden, been a pet peeve since a kid, as I thought handmaiden sounded "lame" and I was correct to come to find out.

Anyway.

You didn't fall into a snare I was concerned might get in the way!

So, let's take a look at our agreed statement about the Church (I hope this doesn't come across patronizing, even through we can scroll, I find keeping our base statements in the forefront of the discussion will help, I apologize if it seems otherwise):

The Church is the gathering of creatures in communion with God.

I asked about how a creature remains in communion with God.

It was a bit of a test, I admit. And perhaps a pre-emptive caution to avoid going down a road to nowhere.

But the more difficult and salient question lies in:

In virtue of what are a gathering of creatures in communion with God?

If this is too tedious, I understand.

Again there is no "correct" answer here, just seeing what our assumptions are. We can always change our minds, if we miss step or miss speak / write.

I am sure you see my reasoning by asking the one question before the other. If not, think about it.

Also, I bet this last question is harder to answer or not as simply. I admit it is for me.

If you share that difficulty, why do you think it is, and if the former question is easier, and the latter more difficult, can you see where things might lead taking the easier route to the degree we might even avoid the more difficult question?

In any case answer the primary question, the others you can table, or expound upon if you wish.

Or you can tell me I am full of S.

I think the dialog stopped cause of the many tangents the thread started to create and the gross misunderstandings and petty bickerings which developed among other board members.

If you want to understand what the Church is, then I am afraid you have to understand how it was revealed over the course of history and continues to be.

Your friend is correct. The Church isn't a building. And the Church isn't located in one person as such, not even within one of the persons of the trinity.

Frankly, I doubt most protestants or Orthodox are up to thinking anything through very seriously. You can look at that thread for other "answers".

Polemics and bump sticker answers convince no one of anything. I think an open dialog can create the space for understanding but that understanding is going to have to be augmented eventually by getting more fully into the Church which is to say to live within it in a more full manner than your friend is.

In short, ask them if they would be interested in attending a liturgy, vespers service etc. And don't be afraid to move slowly. You might end up find a greater depth within your own faith by doing so.

Best of luck!
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2013, 03:03:08 PM »

In Kallistos Ware's book The Orthodox Church Chapter 16 discusses the traditional understanding of 'Church' ...
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« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2013, 12:34:49 AM »

There is the Gospel account of how Jesus ate fish in the presence of the disciples after He had risen from the dead. Can a pure spirit eat fish?

Hi Peter, yes, I forgot to bring that up during the debate.  These conversations with people who get drilled to evangelize seem to move so rapidly and I'm not accustomed to talking with non-Orthodox about it.

This person did not have an answer to the question of Jesus Christ being in the flesh after appearing to the Disciples, but kept insisting that once He ascended, He was glorified in a spiritual body. 





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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2013, 12:43:17 AM »


This sounds like Gnosticism.  Matter is bad, spirit is good stuff. That is heresy. God created everything good.

If Christ didn't rise in the flesh that means we can't be saved.  He assumed our humanity so that we could share in his divinity (through energies).  Paul taught this.  I forget the quote but he said that if Christ didn't rise our faith is worthless. 

Also, Christ's tomb is in Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and it is empty.  Also, how will we rise from our graves at the last day?

Non-Orthodox Christians such as Roman Catholics and classical Protstants certainly affirm a physical resurrection.  Some way out there folks do not however.



Hi Yuri,

Yes, there seemed to be that idea of the total sinfulness / badness of people and that the blood of Christ had to be shed in atonement for it.  I'm a bit more familiar with Roman Catholicism and kind of recognize that from them, but the 'ascending as a spirit' seemed gnostic to me too. 

Thanks for the reminder on the St. Gregory Palamar's energies / essence distinction. 

I'm not sure if I'll be discussing this topic with that person again, but I wonder if they believe we will be bodily resurrected?  They seemed to think that people will be caught up in a rapture or something, and kept talking about prophecies and stuff I never focus on.  Maybe I should, but it seems over my head and extremely time consuming, and in the end, no one knows but God, so why waste time.  I can barely live out the greatest commandment consistently.

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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2013, 12:51:03 AM »

This person did not have an answer to the question of Jesus Christ being in the flesh after appearing to the Disciples, but kept insisting that once He ascended, He was glorified in a spiritual body. 

Velsigne,

I have spoken with a member of a sect reminiscent of the Manicheans, who believes that Christ rose only as a spirit, and used similar defenses as your friend.

Here is the quote from St. Luke's Gospel:

"While they were telling these things, [Christ] Himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to you.' But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 'See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.' And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them."

As you can see, this is fairly definitive. In fact, this passage seems designed to emphasize that Christ rose in the flesh. However, my friend argued that this was all allegory, and that, based on technical distinctions, Christ was still a spirit even though he said he wasn't a spirit. That is because their reasoning went like this:

"Christ rose as a spirit. Therefore, when Christ said he wasn't a spirit, he must have meant something else." When someone takes this line of thought, they cease making any sense, and you can't really reason with them beyond that point.

Now, your friend also brought up the term "spiritual body". This is a reference to St. Paul, who says that our current bodies are Soulish Bodies, and the body of the Resurrection is a Spiritual Body. If one assumes that Spiritual things are immaterial, then the Spiritual Body would be immaterial. But in Judeo-Christianity, Spiritual doesn't have to mean immaterial. "Spiritual Body" means a physical body animated and characterized by the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the "soulish body" which has a fallen life and doesn't rise from the grave.
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 01:43:49 AM »

I've taken the quotes of mine out of the thread. You will see the protestant's replies in them. I didn't just slap down the entire exchange for readability's sake.

Let me know if this helpful:



I think the dialog stopped cause of the many tangents the thread started to create and the gross misunderstandings and petty bickerings which developed among other board members.

If you want to understand what the Church is, then I am afraid you have to understand how it was revealed over the course of history and continues to be.

Your friend is correct. The Church isn't a building. And the Church isn't located in one person as such, not even within one of the persons of the trinity.

Frankly, I doubt most protestants or Orthodox are up to thinking anything through very seriously. You can look at that thread for other "answers".

Polemics and bump sticker answers convince no one of anything. I think an open dialog can create the space for understanding but that understanding is going to have to be augmented eventually by getting more fully into the Church which is to say to live within it in a more full manner than your friend is.

In short, ask them if they would be interested in attending a liturgy, vespers service etc. And don't be afraid to move slowly. You might end up find a greater depth within your own faith by doing so.

Best of luck!


Hi Orthonorm,

That is helpful on several different levels.  

As I mentioned in a previous post, that particular conversation moved pretty rapidly, and the example of an exchange that you gave shows that the conversation really does need to slow down and be more reflective.  

I did ask them to come to a Liturgy, because that's the only way they will ever begin to understand, but they really have to want to know for themselves.  It's not like they can show up once or twice and figure it out.  And I can't sit and explain everything to someone.  God's grace is much more effective than all the words I can muster.  For example, I mentioned the Eucharist as a Sacrament, and the response was: "Anyone can get a cracker and some grape juice and have Communion!"  I don't even really know how to begin to address this in any meaningful way to this person.

Thanks for that.
I agree that the Church isn't a building
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« Reply #10 on: December 11, 2013, 02:04:53 AM »

In Kallistos Ware's book The Orthodox Church Chapter 16 discusses the traditional understanding of 'Church' ...

Hi WPM,

Since I'm home sick today I did read that chapter you recommended and it did offer some additional insight to a few views of 'Church'.

Thanks!
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« Reply #11 on: December 11, 2013, 02:11:21 AM »

This person did not have an answer to the question of Jesus Christ being in the flesh after appearing to the Disciples, but kept insisting that once He ascended, He was glorified in a spiritual body. 

Velsigne,

I have spoken with a member of a sect reminiscent of the Manicheans, who believes that Christ rose only as a spirit, and used similar defenses as your friend.

Here is the quote from St. Luke's Gospel:

"While they were telling these things, [Christ] Himself stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be to you.' But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 'See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.' And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, 'Have you anything here to eat?' They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them."

As you can see, this is fairly definitive. In fact, this passage seems designed to emphasize that Christ rose in the flesh. However, my friend argued that this was all allegory, and that, based on technical distinctions, Christ was still a spirit even though he said he wasn't a spirit. That is because their reasoning went like this:

"Christ rose as a spirit. Therefore, when Christ said he wasn't a spirit, he must have meant something else." When someone takes this line of thought, they cease making any sense, and you can't really reason with them beyond that point.

Now, your friend also brought up the term "spiritual body". This is a reference to St. Paul, who says that our current bodies are Soulish Bodies, and the body of the Resurrection is a Spiritual Body. If one assumes that Spiritual things are immaterial, then the Spiritual Body would be immaterial. But in Judeo-Christianity, Spiritual doesn't have to mean immaterial. "Spiritual Body" means a physical body animated and characterized by the Holy Spirit, in contrast to the "soulish body" which has a fallen life and doesn't rise from the grave.

Hi Nicholas,

Aha!  Now it makes more sense. 

Is the difficulty in understanding the term 'Spiritual Body' a result of translation or cultural differences, a mix of both? 

Thanks for explaining that, it really puzzled me. 
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« Reply #12 on: December 11, 2013, 03:48:34 AM »

Is the difficulty in understanding the term 'Spiritual Body' a result of translation or cultural differences, a mix of both? 

Thanks for explaining that, it really puzzled me. 

It's mostly a translation issue, and the culture of dualism that we inherited.
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« Reply #13 on: December 23, 2013, 05:56:13 PM »

If your friend does not believe that Christ rose bodily from the grave, that his tomb was empty as a result, then whatever he or she is, it is not Evangelical or Baptist. Denying the physical resurrection of Christ, in the body in which he previously walked, but now glorified, is rejected as heresy. Such heresies are as old as the early church, and their early forms were even dealt with in the New Testament.
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"But if you bite and devour one another, take heed that you are not consumed by one another." Galatians 5.15
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