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Author Topic: Eusebius Stephanou & Pentecostalism  (Read 8932 times) Average Rating: 0
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Antonious Nikolas
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« on: August 11, 2005, 09:48:42 AM »


Hello Everyone,

I know it has been a long time.  I've been very busy off-line.  At any rate, after reading the following article by Fr. Seraphim Rose (http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/frseraphim_charismatics.aspx) I googled the name of the Greek priest mentioned in the artticle, Eusebius Stephanou.  To my surprise, it appears that he is still an active priest, and has not been defrocked.  Here is a link to his website: http://www.stsymeon.org

The mission statement (and the website in general) is somewhat ambiguous (although it is full of Charismatic terminology), so I have the following questions.  Hopefully, someone can answer them for me:

1.) Is there a "Charismatic movement" in Eastern Orthodoxy?

2.) One would think that Stephanou would have been disciplined in some way for the activities attributed to him in Fr. Seraphim's article, but on his webpage it appears that he has been lauded for them.  What is the deal?

3.) What is the official position of the Eastern Orthodox Church concerning Stephanou and his "Charismatic revival" which has apparently been ongoing for 30+ years?

4.) Are Stephanou & co. remaking Symeon the New Theologian as a spirit akin to modern day Charismatics, or did this individual really have such leanings?

Thanks
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« Reply #1 on: August 11, 2005, 11:12:09 AM »

I remember hearing a story about Fr. Eusebius.  How true it is I don't know.  I guess he was visiting Boston and stopped by Holy Nativity Convent, then under ROCOR.  He, according to the report, entered the altar and prayed.  When one of the nuns found out she immediately contacted Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and the abbot rushed over and re-blessed the chapel.  Fr. Abbot then sent a letter to Archbishop Iakovos complaining about Fr. Eusebius. 
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« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2005, 02:23:52 PM »

Anytime Charismatics get mentioned I always think of Ned Flanders...

"Flanders to God, Flanders to God.  Get off Your cloud and save my Todd!" Cheesy

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« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2005, 02:30:41 PM »

Good ole' Flanders.  My supervisor, at work, is a former Roman Catholic who is now like Flanders.  He always has to make a point of bringing up his version of religion and condemns RC.  Being, also, a former RC I make it a point to correct his false understanding of Catholicism and point out what Orthodoxy has to offer the world.  He couldn't understand why we do not allow "open Communion".  I said to be "in communion" is to share the complete same belief, how can you share communion if you don't believe as an Orthodox?
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« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2005, 03:01:47 PM »


The average Charismatic may be like Flanders, but an "Orthodox priest" trying to get a Charismatic movement going within Orthodoxy is more akin to Darth Sidious! He's a Sith infiltrator!  Wink

If the ROCOR story is true, the Abbot was right to re-bless the chapel after it had been defiled.

I still hope someone can answer my questions.
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« Reply #5 on: August 11, 2005, 03:12:33 PM »

Why not write his bishop, Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta of the Greek Archdiocese, and ask for an official statement?

Anastasios
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« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2005, 03:28:00 PM »

Good idea!  But before I do, I'd like to see what people here have to say about "current events" so to speak.  It could be that the man has recanted what he believed in the 70's and 80's.
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« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2005, 04:53:24 PM »

I do not agree with the actions of Fr. Eusebius (and from what I can tell teh vast majority of his brother priests in the GOA do not either).  That being said, I don't see this as anymore than a political stunt by HTM in their attempt to distort the ROCOR.  To me this is part of their attempt to justify their blasphemy of saying the Orthodox Church is graceless. 
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« Reply #8 on: August 11, 2005, 06:45:37 PM »

Who is the HTM?
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« Reply #9 on: August 11, 2005, 09:19:33 PM »

Who is the HTM?

Holy Transfiguration Monastery?
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« Reply #10 on: August 11, 2005, 09:23:38 PM »

yes, HTM is Holy Transfiguration Monastery - refering to the group in brookline.
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« Reply #11 on: August 11, 2005, 10:37:58 PM »

I used to live next door to Ned Flanders (figuratively speaking).  I guess that makes me Homer Simpson (DOH!). Cheesy


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« Reply #12 on: August 11, 2005, 11:15:32 PM »

What church diocese is Holy Transfiguration under? They are like some old calendar church right? like the TOCOG...I heard some really nasty allegations against them and that everyone tries to avoid them. When I was visiting Hellenic College last year I was told to stay clear from there. On their website it warns specifically that boys under 14 are not allowed to sleep over which I found kind of strange.
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« Reply #13 on: August 12, 2005, 12:43:00 AM »

Hellenic College tends to simply be anti-monastic in general, but I guess a stopped clock is right twice a day.  Fr. Seraphim of Platina wrote and spoke a great deal on the mentality of the HTM crowd under the title of "super-correctness."
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« Reply #14 on: August 12, 2005, 08:34:22 AM »

What church diocese is Holy Transfiguration under?

HOCNA...The Holy Orthodox Church of North America, they are their own jurisdiction.  But, when I heard this story about Fr. Eusebius and what is supposed to have happened at Holy Nativity Convent, they were under ROCOR.  So I can't see how they "invented" this story to discredit ROCOR.  Or how this event discredits ROCOR.  Maybe I'm being like Homer Simpson and not seeing the light.
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« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2005, 09:57:10 AM »

HOCNA is its own Church, separate from the body of "real" Old Calendarists.  They issued forth many articles against the Old Calendarists but then when they were about to be removed from ROCOR, they suddenly chose out a discredited and deposed faction of Old Calendarists and went under them for protection.  When the leader of that faction died, they made their own church.

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« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2005, 11:04:03 AM »

Oddly, my former spiritual father, who was against anything "non-canonical", and would jear these groups, joins HOCNA and is now a bishop with them.
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« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2005, 11:08:05 AM »

Lord have mercy on him and on all schismatics--they need our prayers and love!
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« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2005, 01:37:58 PM »

Oddly, my former spiritual father, who was against anything "non-canonical", and would jear these groups, joins HOCNA and is now a bishop with them.

Is this Fr. (now "Bishop) Sergius Black?
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« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2005, 02:15:00 PM »

Ummm..........

What, exactly, do you guys see as heretical and "sith-like" in Fr. Eusebius that calls for him to be de-frocked? I have read some of his pamphlets and yes, some of the things he says an does is strange and "not-normal" for an Orthodox priest, yet I have never found him to say anything Un-Orthodox. Do we really need to condemn him on the basis of an anti-Charismatic knee-jerk reaction? Last time I checked the apostles also evangelized, exorcised demons, and healed people. Charismatic Pentecostals are wrong to do this devoid of the sacraments and their grace and a proper ecclesiological structure, but that doesn't give us the right to condemn everyone who does "charismatic" things as demonic.

What a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2005, 03:50:49 PM »

Is this Fr. (now "Bishop) Sergius Black?

Right you are.ÂÂ  Even tho things have changed considerablely, there was much he had done to form me that I thank God for the short time we had together, in Boston.

God only knows why we do the things we do...still, it's my duty to love and pray for my former spiritual father.
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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2005, 07:49:52 AM »

Dear Antonious,

Quote
1.) Is there a "Charismatic movement" in Eastern Orthodoxy?

Not really. Orthodoxy is[/b] charismatic by nature, due to the full blessing of Pentecost bestowed on it 2000 years ago. What might be necessary is a practical awareness of this and its application in ones daily life. I think this is one of the reasons that Fr. Eusebius has abandoned the "charismatic renewal" as terminology recently. Renewal of Orthodoxy is the term, one I have much less trouble with in so far as it aims at living Pentecost as shown in the lives of the saints, in particular St. Symeon.

Quote
2.) One would think that Stephanou would have been disciplined in some way for the activities attributed to him in Fr. Seraphim's article, but on his webpage it appears that he has been lauded for them.ÂÂ  What is the deal?

Fr. Seraphim Rose is not, generally, a good source for things of this nature. His best works are non-polemical imho (Vita Patrum, etc.). His "Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future" strikes me as little more than an orthodoxized version of the Evangelical fundamentalist "The Seduction of Christianity" or any of " the Jack Chick tractates. In my reading of Fr. Eusebius over the past 2 years I have encountered some lamentable protestantizing tendencies but nothing of the magnitude Fr. Seraphim would like me to have seen.

I also fail to see what activities of Fr. Eusebius (who operates with the blessing of His Bishop for all I know) he would have to be disciplined for? To me it seems Fr. Eusebius' efforts merely need a theological deepening, to remove the protestantizing tendencies.

Quote
3.) What is the official position of the Eastern Orthodox Church concerning Stephanou and his "Charismatic revival" which has apparently been ongoing for 30+ years?

As long as his Bishop extends his blessing to Fr. Eusbius the "official position" would be one of acceptance, though not one of following. Fr. Eusebius is free to move as he wishes within the limits set to him by the Church via his Bishop. Having his Bishops allowance does not mean, however, that his Bishop agrees with Fr. Eusebius' every move.

Quote
4.) Are Stephanou & co. remaking Symeon the New Theologian as a spirit akin to modern day Charismatics, or did this individual really have such leanings?

Father Eusebius Stephanou and his flock are re-interpreting St. Symeon the New Theologian to be applied today. There is nothing wrong with that. I am much more concerned with Fr. Eusebius' teaching on "security of salvation" and his "protestantizing eschatology"ÂÂ  which seems to borrow from Pentecostalism a lot. IMO Fr. Eusebius does not present a balanced, Orthodox, view on these matters, and sometimes he even goes overboard. Certainly we may know we are saved, but not without also realizjng we are still being saved. This necessary dynamism seems to be put on the background in Fr. Eusebius' teaching. It is also true that Jesus will return (Parousia) but that does not justify the Protestant invention of rapture and great tribulation. It is in this area, that Fr. Eusebius' lack of theological grounding becomes apparent, and stands in need of correction. The errors to be corrected, however, do not (so far) constitute heresy.

On the whole I think Fr. Eusebius' efforts are to be praised as much as they need to be corrected in certain areas. I would be delighted to be able to visit Fr. Eusebius "Renewal Center" some day.

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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2005, 08:15:13 AM »

Renewal of Orthodoxy is [Fr. Eusebius' new] term, one I have much less trouble with in so far as it aims at living Pentecost as shwon in the lives of the saints, in particular St. Symeon...To me it seems Fr. Eusebius' efforts merely need a theological deepening, to remove the protestantizing tendencies.

This, I think, is an excellent assessment of what's going on there, as I asked for and received a packet in the mail from them (a few years ago) just to find out what they were about.  Threw it away except for a pamphlet of quotes by St. Symeon on the baptism of the Holy Spirit (or, "living Pentacost" as S_N_Bulgakov put it), which call for a personalized realization--as opposed to a hiding behind the group mentality of corporate worship all the time--of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Quote
On the whole I think Fr. Eusebius' efforts are to be praised as much as they need to be corrected in certain areas. I would be delighted to be able to visit Fr. Eusebius "Renewal Center" some day.

It'd be interesting, huh?

Last time I checked the apostles also evangelized, exorcised demons, and healed people. Charismatic Pentecostals are wrong to do this devoid of the sacraments and their grace and a proper ecclesiological structure, but that doesn't give us the right to condemn everyone who does "charismatic" things as demonic.

What a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Roll Eyes

Also a good call, Xaira.  Welcome to the board, btw.

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« Reply #23 on: August 17, 2005, 09:40:39 AM »

Hi Guys,

Thanks S_N_Bulgakov for answering my questions on a point-by-point basis.  Your post was exactly what I was looking for! Smiley



Ummm..........

What, exactly, do you guys see as heretical and "sith-like" in Fr. Eusebius that calls for him to be de-frocked? I have read some of his pamphlets and yes, some of the things he says an does is strange and "not-normal" for an Orthodox priest, yet I have never found him to say anything Un-Orthodox. Do we really need to condemn him on the basis of an anti-Charismatic knee-jerk reaction? Last time I checked the apostles also evangelized, exorcised demons, and healed people. Charismatic Pentecostals are wrong to do this devoid of the sacraments and their grace and a proper ecclesiological structure, but that doesn't give us the right to condemn everyone who does "charismatic" things as demonic.

What a classic case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Roll Eyes

I disagree.  I think the crux of the matter here is whether or not we recognize what the Charismatic Pentecostals are doing today as being the same thing that the Apostles did.  I do not.  This does not mean that the authentic gifts of the Spirit are invalidated in any way.

What I question is this priest (or anyone else) trying to bring things into Orthodoxy that originated outside of the Church, such as things that started with the late 19th/early 20th c. American Pentecostal movement.  Especially actively praying for something that started in heterodox circles to "sweep" Orthodoxy, as if Orthodoxy (which is THE Church) could be lacking in the Holy Spirit:

"COSTA DEIR TOOK THE MIKE and told us how his heart was burdened for the Greek Orthodox Church. He asked Episcopalian Father Driscoll to pray that the Holy Spirit would sweep that Church as He was sweeping the Catholic Church. While Father Driscoll prayed, Costa Deir wept into the mike. Following the prayer was a long message in tongues and an equally long interpretation saying that the prayers had been heard and the Holy Spirit would blow through and awaken the Greek Orthodox Church. By this time there was so much weeping and calling out that I backed away from it all emotionally... Yet I heard myself saying a surprising thing, 'Some day when we read how the Spirit is moving in the Greek Orthodox Church, let us remember that we were here the moment that it began'"

It's not a "knee-jerk" condemnation or throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  When we see strange things going on, we have a right to ask questions.  When speaking about the Orthodox Church being "Charismatic", etc., It is important to bear in mind that theologically speaking, we have
an entirely different vocabulary than the Pentecostals . To quote an OCA priest I admire: "Terms like Church, Eucharist, Priesthood, sin, Scripture, liturgy, fasting, blessing, laity, sacrament, praise, worship, saint, prayer, orthodoxy, and sometimes, even Christ, to a Christian of Orthodox Confession, mean one thing, while their use and meaning to others, might be radically different."

This website articulates an opinion fairly close to my own.  I see no need to reinvent the wheel, so I'll just cut 'n paste:

From http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/inq_charismatics.aspx:

As for those who misinterpret, twist, and rearrange the words of the Fathers (especially St. Symeon the New Theologian) and thereby try to support their charismatic goals from within the Orthodox Church, let them think about this: At no time in the history of Orthodoxy—in a history of almost two thousand years—did the Faithful or the Fathers ever throw their hands frantically in the air, babbling, interrupting the chanting, and declaring the Church to have anything but the pleroma, or fullness, of the Holy Spirit. Never! Never!

Our Fathers raised the dead. They cured the ill. They ascended into the Heavenly Realm and conversed with angels. They went to speak to those who spoke another tongue and found that, without having learned that tongue, they could preach to the people. (This evangelical gift, which allowed the Apostles to spread the message of Christianity, was present in the Early Church. St. Paul even warns those who have it not to cause confusion, but, in order to be consistent with the purpose of the gift—that of witnessing to the Faith—, to use the gift only if interpretation is available.) Our Fathers were so united with the power of things spiritual, that often their flesh was infused with the Spirit, their bodies failing to corrupt after death. YET, never once did the Fathers babble senselessly in tongues, let alone in the midst of the liturgy. Never did they conduct themselves in the manner of the modern charismatics. We can only conclude, then, that this movement is a demonic ruse, an attempt to fulfill our Orthodox longing for the fullness of Church Tradition with the emotional frenzy of Pentecostal sectarian pietism.

There is nothing Orthodox about the charismatic movement. It is incompatible with Orthodoxy, in that it justifies itself only by perverting the message of the Fathers, suggesting that the Church of Christ needs renewal, and indulging in the theological imagery of, Pentecostal cultism. With such things, one cannot be too bold in his language of condemnation and reprobation.


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« Reply #24 on: August 17, 2005, 10:14:11 AM »

Despite the flashy website and some popularity in the eighties, my understanding from my GOA of America priest friend is that Fr. Eusebius is about as popular now as Judas Iscariot at a disciple reunion.
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« Reply #25 on: August 20, 2005, 08:09:24 AM »


From http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/inq_charismatics.aspx:

As for those who misinterpret, twist, and rearrange the words of the Fathers (especially St. Symeon the New Theologian) and thereby try to support their charismatic goals from within the Orthodox Church, let them think about this: At no time in the history of Orthodoxy—in a history of almost two thousand years—did the Faithful or the Fathers ever throw their hands frantically in the air, babbling, interrupting the chanting, and declaring the Church to have anything but the pleroma, or fullness, of the Holy Spirit. Never! Never!

The Reference to St. Symeon the New Theologian makes it clear to me that orthodoxinfo is, covertly, making their article into nothing more than a apologia against Fr. Eusebius Stephanou. Since this is what they are trying to do, I wish they would just come out and say it. And I love the way that they state what the "Faithful of the Fathers" did and did not do, to use the famous Creationist question, were you there? No, they were not there, they are applying their ideas on how they think the church should look like backwards into the Early Church and base their arguments upon that. It's kind of like Protestants imagining that in the Early Church everyone just sat around in a circle in their blue jeans and sang Amazing Grace and therefore every Christian should too. Honestly, I need to be convinced on a whole lot more than hot air.

They went to speak to those who spoke another tongue and found that, without having learned that tongue, they could preach to the people. (This evangelical gift, which allowed the Apostles to spread the message of Christianity, was present in the Early Church. St. Paul even warns those who have it not to cause confusion, but, in order to be consistent with the purpose of the gift—that of witnessing to the Faith—, to use the gift only if interpretation is available.) Our Fathers were so united with the power of things spiritual, that often their flesh was infused with the Spirit, their bodies failing to corrupt after death. YET, never once did the Fathers babble senselessly in tongues, let alone in the midst of the liturgy. Never did they conduct themselves in the manner of the modern charismatics. We can only conclude, then, that this movement is a demonic ruse, an attempt to fulfill our Orthodox longing for the fullness of Church Tradition with the emotional frenzy of Pentecostal sectarian pietism.

Huh? We seem to be running into the problem here of the conservative Protestant interpretation of tounges being only speaking in a foreign language. Yes, that is how speaking in tounges is described in Acts 2, but in the Pauline Letters we see a quite different use of tounges, which Paul describes as "speaking in the voice of angels" and as the outward expression of an interior and private prayer to God. Paul never says that this is wrong, he simply says that within the Church service Prophets are better because they edify the whole church, and speaking in tounges should normally be left at home, since it edifies only the person praying, the only time it should be used in church is when there is someone else there who understand the prayer which is expressed in tounges and can "translate" it to the church, so the whole church can be edified. The person who wrote the above quote should read Corinthians again without trying to squeeze it into his own notions of what the early church was and wasn't.

I don't know about you, but I have met lots of Greek Orthodox (and other Orthodox) persons who take their faith so lightly that they could stand to blown over with the Holy Spirit. The "plemora of the Holy Spirit" is certaintly lacking in their lives, and if it takes Fr. Eusebius Stephanou to knock it into them, so be it. These polemics against him are absurd at best, and do little to achieve the Christian edification of all.
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« Reply #26 on: August 22, 2005, 09:45:54 AM »

The Reference to St. Symeon the New Theologian makes it clear to me that orthodoxinfo is, covertly, making their article into nothing more than a apologia against Fr. Eusebius Stephanou. Since this is what they are trying to do, I wish they would just come out and say it.

I don't think it is intended to be "covert" at all.ÂÂ  They don't mention the man by name, but it is clear that they are talking about his teachings, or at least teachings that are similar to his.ÂÂ  It is theology, after all, and not individuals that they are concerned with.


And I love the way that they state what the "Faithful of the Fathers" did and did not do, to use the famous Creationist question, were you there? No, they were not there, they are applying their ideas on how they think the church should look like backwards into the Early Church and base their arguments upon that.

I disagree.ÂÂ  If anything, I think the opposite is the case.ÂÂ  Modern day Charismatics/Pentecostals and the supporters of that movement try to superimpose something that originated in late 19th/early 20th c. America onto the early Fathers and early Church.


Huh? We seem to be running into the problem here of the conservative Protestant interpretation of tounges being only speaking in a foreign language.

As opposed to what?ÂÂ  The Charismatic Protestant interpretation of tongues which is expanded to include gibberish?ÂÂ  Also, I don't think that the interpretation you mentioned above is strictly a "conservative Protestant" interepretation.

Elder Cleopa of Romania:

"Glossologia, or speaking in tongues, as a gift of the Holy Spirit,
is the ability to speak a foreign language without having to be
taught it or knowing it beforehand. This is clear from the Holy
Scriptures in which the events of Pentecost are described, and at
which time this divine gift first appeared. The text is unabbreviated
and unambiguous and recounts for us an actual event. Consequently,
the text itself cannot be explained with some particular mystical or
spiritual meaning alone, omitting the literal meaning."



Yes, that is how speaking in tounges is described in Acts 2, but in the Pauline Letters we see a quite different use of tounges, which Paul describes as "speaking in the voice of angels" and as the outward expression of an interior and private prayer to God. Paul never says that this is wrong, he simply says that within the Church service Prophets are better because they edify the whole church, and speaking in tounges should normally be left at home, since it edifies only the person praying, the only time it should be used in church is when there is someone else there who understand the prayer which is expressed in tounges and can "translate" it to the church, so the whole church can be edified. The person who wrote the above quote should read Corinthians again without trying to squeeze it into his own notions of what the early church was and wasn't.

Again, I don't think that they are trying to "squeeze their own notions of what the early church was and wasn't" into the text.ÂÂ  If anything, the opposite is true.ÂÂ  Charismatics and their advocates try to read something into these texts that isn't there as a justication for something that originated with C.H.
Mason, Charles Fox Parham, William Joseph Seymour, and the others of their generation.ÂÂ  

I disagree with your interpretation of the above-cited verses.ÂÂ  St. Paul's reference to the "tongues ... of angels" (1 Cor. 13:1)affords no evidence for the so-called "Pentecostal experience," in which the uttering a series of rapidly-spoken, indiscernible syllables is alleged to reflect a "heavenly" tongue of an inexplicable variety.

It canÂÂ  be established by that the
term "tongues," when employed with reference to men, has to do with
intelligent communication. The same word with the same connotation
is used in reference to the angels. It must therefore be conceded
that the word "tongues," when used of angels, similarly signifies an
understandable language.

In order for the Pentecostal view to be valid, there would have to
be some compelling contextual evidence to indicate that the
term "tongues" is used in two different senses in this passage (when
referring to men and angels respectively), and there simply is none.

St. Paul's appeal to "angels" in 13:1 is traditionally interpreted as a form of hyperbole that is
designed to accentuate his argument. Consider a similar use of this
figurative expression in the apostle's letter to the Galatians. He
wrote: "But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto
you any gospel other than that which we preached unto you, let him be
anathema" (Gal. 1:8; emp. added). The apostle is not suggesting that
an angel actually is likely to proclaim a different gospel; the point
is one of emphasis. Even if an angel were to preach a different
gospel, there would be no validity in it, and he would fall victim to
divine wrath.

So similarly, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul is not indicating that some
Christians speak an "angelic" (ecstatic) language. Rather, he is
merely saying that even if one could ascend to a new height, and
communicate on the level of angels, if he did not exercise love by
speaking in an understandable fashion, he still would be nothing but
a distracting noise. The Apostle's argument does not hint of a
mysterious, unintelligible utterance; in fact, it reflects just the
opposite.


Again, consider Elder Cleopa's response to the following inquiry:

"It is claimed by certain people that when the grace of the Holy
Spirit comes to them and they begin to speak in tongues, they find
themselves in a state of ecstasy. It is only at this time that they
are able to speak certain inarticulate and incomprehensible human
sounds, to have certain internal impulses or exclamations of joy, or
to voice a certain remorse for their sins, as well as other movements
of the body which are made by the action of the grace of the Holy
Spirit. Saul had a similar spiritual manifestation when following
David and going to Ramah. He was overcome by the prophetic spirit and
with a flurry he prophesied, ripped his clothes off and went naked
all day and all night (1 Sam. 19:22-24)."

Elder Cleopa:


"It is incomprehensible for a healthy, clear and well-
balanced intellect to reveal the great mysteries of God with
inarticulate exclamations. Such a thing is not at all the same, as we
know from that which was revealed through glossologia as a divine
gift (1 Cor. 14: 2-4).

The Greek idol-worshipers of antiquity had similar exhibitions when
they prayed to their gods Dionysus, Zeus and the others. When they
were found before a diabolic idol they would fall into ecstasy or a
trance, shaking and making rhythmic movements with their body, and
tumble on the ground, with a few even foaming at the mouth like the
demon-possessed of olden times. Next they would get up and sing
rhapsodic melodies and make exclamations with demonic delight. The
same happened with the Montanists, heretics of the first and second
centuries after Christ, the Gnostics, and later the Methodists, the
Quakers, the Pentecostals and others. These groups took to making
uncanny and strange turns and movements of the body, had
hallucinations and were in delusion, and thought that all of this
came from God, when in actuality it comes from theologians of
darkness who are familiar with Holy Scripture and who lead into
delusion the unsuspecting, cheating them with words taken even from
Holy Scripture."


Is Elder Cleopa trying to "squeeze his own notions of what the early church was and wasn't" into the Pauline Epistles?ÂÂ  No, he is trying to defend the integrity of the text against the agenda of Charismatics who wish to distort it to justify their own dogmas.


I don't know about you, but I have met lots of Greek Orthodox (and other Orthodox) persons who take their faith so lightly that they could stand to blown over with the Holy Spirit.

Now we are just speaking of out experiences and people we have met.ÂÂ  I have been blessed to know a number of pious Orthodox Christians truly filled with the Holy Spirit who in no way reflected the kind of behavior I found in the so-called Charismatic churches.ÂÂ  In this regard, I could also mention that during my sojourn in the Pentecostal church, I met lots of "spirit filled" folks who exhibited the kinds of "gifts" so often decribed, but were also engaged in all manner of illicit activities.ÂÂ  In fact, a preacher who once told me that I was not really a Christian unless I spoke in "tongues" later turned out to be involved in some really bad things I won't go into here.

Of course everyone would agree that for Orthodox Christians to be "casual" about their Faith is not good, and we need to address that.ÂÂ  But the question is, what should the source of that revival be?ÂÂ  Should it come from heterodox teachings or from the authentic Holy Spirit Who has never ceased to work in the Orthodox Church?

I know that some here have issues with Fr. Seraphim Rose of blessed memory, but I found another commentary of his that I think is pertinent here, and also presents a balanced look at the entire phenomenon we are discussing.ÂÂ  In this article, Fr. Seraphim addresses the cavalier spirit with which some Orthodox regard their Faith, as you describe above.ÂÂ  He also addresses Rev. Stephanou's response to that apathy.ÂÂ  The article is from http://www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/orthodox/orthodox_advices_seraphim_rose_signs_of_the_times.htm:

SPIRITUAL DISCERNMENT

The most important thing that one acquires through reading such basic Orthodox literature as this is a virtue which is called discernment.ÂÂ  When we come to two phenomena which seem to be exactly alike or very similar to each other, the virtue of discernment allows us to see which of them is true and which is false: that is, which has the spirit of Christ and which might have the spirit of Antichrist.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
The very nature of Antichrist, who is to be the last great world ruler and the last great opponent of Christ, is to be anti-Christ—and "anti" means not merely "against," but also "in imitation of, in place of."ÂÂ  The Antichrist, as all the Holy Fathers say in their writings about him, is to be someone who imitates Christ, that is, tires to fool people by looking as though he is Christ come back to earth.ÂÂ  Therefore, if one has a very vague notion of Christianity or reads the Scriptures purely from one's own opinions (and one's opinions come from the air, and the air is not Christian now, but anti-Christian), then one will come to very anti-Christian conclusions.ÂÂ  Seeing the figure of Antichrist, one will be fooled into thinking that it is Christ.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
We can give a few examples of how the virtue of discernment can help us to understand some fairly complicated phenomena.ÂÂ  One such phenomenon is the charismatic movement.ÂÂ  There is a Greek priest, Fr. Eusebius Stephanou in Indiana, who is spreading this movement in the Orthodox Church.ÂÂ  He has a rather large number of followers and sympathizers.ÂÂ  He's even been to Greece and is going again soon, and there too people are sometimes quite overwhelmed by him.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
One can see that part of the reason for his success is that he comes from an Orthodox church atmosphere in which people, being born Orthodox, go to Orthodox church, receive sacraments, and take the whole thing for granted.ÂÂ  Since it becomes with them a matter of habit, they do not understand that the whole meaning of the Church is to have Christ in the heart, but that one can go through the whole of Orthodox Church life without having one's heart awakened.ÂÂ  In that case, one is just like the pagans.ÂÂ  In fact, one is more responsible than the pagans.ÂÂ  The pagans have never heard of Christ, while the person who is Orthodox and does not know what spiritual life is simply has not yet awakened to Christ.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
This is the kind of atmosphere from which Fr. Eusebius comes.  Seeing that this is a spiritual deadness—and it's quite true that much of what is in the Orthodox Church is spiritually dead—he wants to make it come to life.  But the trouble is that he himself belongs to the same spirit.  In fact, you very seldom see that he reads the basic Orthodox books.  He picks one or two that seem to agree with his point of view, but he does not have a thorough grounding in the Orthodox sources.  He does not think that they are the most important things to be reading.   ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

If you look deeply at what he and other people in the charismatic movement are saying—and our book The Religion of the Future goes into detail on this subject—you see that what they call a spiritual revival and a spiritual life is actually what more recent Fathers like Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov carefully described as deception, that is, a kind of fever of the blood which makes it look as though one is being spiritual when actually one is not even grasping spiritual reality at all.ÂÂ  In fact, it's as different from true Christian life, which is reflected in these very basic Orthodox books, as heaven is from earth.
  ÃƒÆ’‚Â
Quite apart from the details of how they pray and what kind of phenomena manifest themselves at their services, you can see that the very basic idea which Fr. Eusebius and these charismatics have is a false idea.ÂÂ  Yesterday we received an issue of Fr. Eusebius' magazine, Logos.ÂÂ  There he talks about the great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the last times preparing for the coming of Christ.ÂÂ  All Christians are supposed to be renewed, to receive the Holy Spirit, to be speaking in tongues. This prepares for the coming of Christ, and there will be a great spiritual outpouring before Christ comes.

If you read the Scriptures carefully, without putting your prejudices into them, even without the patristic commentaries you will see that nowhere is anything said about a great spiritual outpouring at the end of the world.ÂÂ  Christ Himself says the contrary.ÂÂ  First he gives His teaching concerning how we should pray and have faith and not be faint.ÂÂ  He presents the example of the woman who goes to the judge and keeps begging him to intercede in her case, and He tells us that this is how we should continue to pray and pray and pray until God hears us and gives to us.ÂÂ  This is a very solid example about praying.ÂÂ  Then He says, "Nevertheless" (that is, despite the fact that I've given you this teaching and this is the way to pray), "nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"ÂÂ  In other words, despite the fact you've been given all this, there will be practically no one left who is a Christian at the end of the world.ÂÂ  "Will He find faith on the earth?" means He will find almost no one left.ÂÂ  There will not be flocks of people who are praying and inspired with the Holy Spirit at the end of time.ÂÂ  All Holy Fathers who speak about this subject speak about the great terrible times at the end, and say that those who are true Christians will be hidden away and will not even be visible to the world.ÂÂ  Those who are visible to the world will not be the true Christians.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
Today there are tremendous charismatic revivals at Notre Dame University, and in Jerusalem there is every year now a charismatic conference on the Holy Spirit.ÂÂ  Sixty, seventy thousand people come together and pray and raise up their hands, and they all speak in tongues.ÂÂ  It looks as though the time of the Apostles has come back, but if you look at what goes on there, you see it's not the right spirit; it's a different spirit.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
Therefore, when Fr. Eusebius speaks about St. Symeon the New Theologian, and about how you must know Who the Holy Spirit is and receive Him consciously, this is fine, this is good teaching—but if you have the wrong spirit, that teaching does not apply.  And this is not the right spirit.  There are many signs evident that it is a different spirit and not the Spirit of God.   ÃƒÆ’‚  ÃƒÆ’‚Â

Here is one case where, if you have discernment from basic Christian knowledge, you can look at a phenomenon which claims to be apostolic and just like the times of the early Church preparing for Christ's Second Coming, and if you look closely you can see it is not the same thing.ÂÂ  In fact, if anything, it's just like those who want to build the Temple for Christ.ÂÂ  They're building for Antichrist; it's totally the opposite.
  ÃƒÆ’‚  
Again, you can see how discernment enables us to evaluate other phenomena which may not be identical with Orthodox phenomenon, but are new things.ÂÂ  When you first look at them, you wonder what they are all about.ÂÂ  This is characteristic of intellectual fashions: something gets into the air, everybody grabs it because the times are ripe for it, and then everybody begins to talk about it and it becomes the fashion of the times.ÂÂ  Nobody quite knows how; it's just that everybody was ready for it, and all of a sudden somebody mentioned it and it began to circulate everywhere.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2005, 10:23:32 AM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #27 on: August 22, 2005, 01:02:30 PM »


I disagree.ÂÂ  If anything, I think the opposite is the case.ÂÂ  Modern day Charismatics/Pentecostals and the supporters of that movement try to superimpose something that originated in late 19th/early 20th c. America onto the early Fathers and early Church.

Huh? I never said that Protestants were innocent of this, in fact, Protestants were the example. And I fail to see the point, Charismatics stating something unprovable into the Early Church does not negate the fact that orthodoxinfo also states something unprovable about the Early Church.

Quote
Again, I don't think that they are trying to "squeeze their own notions of what the early church was and wasn't" into the text.ÂÂ  If anything, the opposite is true.ÂÂ  Charismatics and their advocates try to read something into these texts that isn't there as a justication for something that originated with C.H.Mason, Charles Fox Parham, William Joseph Seymour, and the others of their generation.ÂÂ  


Those people may have begun the "Charismatic Movement" for Protestantism, but that doesn't mean that it has been dead in the Church.

Quote
I disagree with your interpretation of the above-cited verses.ÂÂ  St. Paul's reference to the "tongues ... of angels" (1 Cor. 13:1)affords no evidence for the so-called "Pentecostal experience," in which the uttering a series of rapidly-spoken, indiscernible syllables is alleged to reflect a "heavenly" tongue of an inexplicable variety.

It canÂÂ  be established by that the
term "tongues," when employed with reference to men, has to do with
intelligent communication. The same word with the same connotation
is used in reference to the angels. It must therefore be conceded
that the word "tongues," when used of angels, similarly signifies an
understandable language.

In order for the Pentecostal view to be valid, there would have to
be some compelling contextual evidence to indicate that the
term "tongues" is used in two different senses in this passage (when
referring to men and angels respectively), and there simply is none

1 Corinthians 14:2-5:
"2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified."

Here "tongue" is obviously being used by Paul as something ununderstandable one can speak to God with, and because it is ununderstandable, it is only good for the person praying, because the rest of the people at church can not understand him.

1 Corinthians 14:6-12
"6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. [/i]10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church."

Here Paul is using two analogies, a instrument playing random notes and a foreign language, to show that something that is ununderstandable to others do them no good. Because of this, again, the gift of tongues does not edify the whole church.

1 Corinthians 14:13-17
"13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful[/i]. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified."

Here Paul is saying that the person who is praying in tongues does not know himself what he is saying, so he needs to pray that his mind will understand it too. So that if he should have an expression of tongues in church he should pray with his mind as well, so that those who do not understand his tongue will understand his prayer of the mind, and be edified by that.

"18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

Here Paul uses a personal example, when he comes to their church to speak he would rather speak to them intelligably than in tongues which no one will understand. Interestingly, if tongues was confined to only speaking other languages, this would mean that Paul would be understandable to people of all nations like Peter in Acts 2, yet in all of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, there is no hint of this. And according to the context of the plain sense of this passage, it is clear that Paul is referring to speaking in a way that would be completely ununderstandable to all, which was not the case in Acts 2 where everyone simply heard Peter speak in their native language.
 
 


.

Quote
Now we are just speaking of out experiences and people we have met.ÂÂ  I have been blessed to know a number of pious Orthodox Christians truly filled with the Holy Spirit who in no way reflected the kind of behavior I found in the so-called Charismatic churches.ÂÂ  In this regard, I could also mention that during my sojourn in the Pentecostal church, I met lots of "spirit filled" folks who exhibited the kinds of "gifts" so often decribed, but were also engaged in all manner of illicit activities.ÂÂ  In fact, a preacher who once told me that I was not really a Christian unless I spoke in "tongues" later turned out to be involved in some really bad things I won't go into here.

I have met many Charismatics, as well as other non-Charismatics who spoke in tongues, who lived exemplary lives full of faith and devoution to Christ and the Holy Trinity. And at the same time in the Orthodox church I have met plenty of people who did the rituals perfectly yet lived in unrepentant sins. Yes, I have also seen things I won't get into here. I fail to see the point. We can both agree that there are problems among those people who claim to be Orthodox or Charismatics. I am concerned with the spiritual life of the Orthodox being strengthened, a laissez-faire "they're bigger sins than us" attitude isn't going to accomplish anything besides spiritual apathy in Orthodoxy.

Quote
Of course everyone would agree that for Orthodox Christians to be "casual" about their Faith is not good, and we need to address that.ÂÂ  But the question is, what should the source of that revival be?ÂÂ  Should it come from heterodox teachings or from the authentic Holy Spirit Who has never ceased to work in the Orthodox Church?

Depends on how "heterdox" you consider 1 Corinthians 14 to be. I think Paul's principles there are quite clear, tongues is for a private spirit prayer to God, it does not belong in the church unless someone can understand. Since the understandability of tongue-speak is quite low, it's better off not used in Church. Paul here is obviosly solely concerned with the functioning of the Corinthian church, so he never goes into the personal and private applications of tongues, but he never disallows them when they are private. And indeed, many Protestants I know who speak in tongues (whether they were charismatic or no) only happen to speak in tongues when they are praying privately. And I think because of Paul's instructions here this is exactly where tongues went, to private prayers done in one's bedroom, and because tongues were not part of the Church worship, I think people eventually "forgot" about them. And it has been my observation that tongues, for most of us, have moved inward. How many times have we, or someone we know or read about, been standing on the liturgy and had a overpowering feeling in our spirit? We do not express this feeling with our vocal chords because that's simply not something we do. Most of the times this feeling is accompanied by a certain "revelation" or "vision", so when it is later spoken about it is called a vision, even if the vision itself was not the basis for the feeling.

The difference of the current Charismatic ideas from what Paul said is because the Charismatics have a very individualistic idea of the church, for them church is where they go to have a personal and individual encounter with God, an extreme I-Thou only experience. For Paul, and for the Orthodox church, the church is the place where all can come together and, in the community, worship God as one body. Hence, for the Charismatics it was natural for them to make tongue speaking a public part of the church as soon as they discovered it, whereas such an individual expression is completely wrong for what the traditional understanding of church. This is the ultimate basis of these tongues/anti-tongues polemics. I have not been to Fr. Eusebius Stephanou's center, so I do not know if he expects tongue speaking to overtake the corporate structure of liturgies. But speaking against tongue speaking and speaking out against people speaking tongues in church, or that they have to speak in tongues, are very different issues. And we Orthodox should understand our Bible well enough to understand that.

Quote
I know that some here have issues with Fr. Seraphim Rose of blessed memory, but I found another commentary of his that I think is pertinent here, and also presents a balanced look at the entire phenomenon we are discussing.ÂÂ  In this article, Fr. Seraphim addresses the cavalier spirit with which some Orthodox regard their Faith, as you describe above.ÂÂ  He also addresses Rev. Stephanou's response to that apathy.ÂÂ  The article is from http://www.sfaturiortodoxe.ro/orthodox/orthodox_advices_seraphim_rose_signs_of_the_times.html

Fr. Seraphim Rose links tongue-speaking to demons, the occult, and the New Age. Wait, everything he doesn't like/understand he links to demons, the occult, and the New Age. Honestly, what Fr. Seraphim writes, as well-intentioned as he may have been, is offensive to every Pentecostal in this world who is honestly following Christ the best they know how. And unless Fr. Seraphim is willing to accuse St. Paul of being possessed by demons I fail to see the value of anything he writes on this topic.ÂÂ  

1 Corinthians 14:39-40
"39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way."
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« Reply #28 on: August 22, 2005, 02:37:58 PM »

A good book I'd recomend on the topic is In Peace Let us Pray to the Lord by Hieromonk Alexios of Karakallou.  Has anyone else here read it?
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« Reply #29 on: August 22, 2005, 03:14:17 PM »

Dear Silouan,

As a matter of fact, yes. I have read it. I would not encourage to read it personally,.. Its treatment of tongues is one of its weakest parts. I would recommend reading the article on the goarch.org website on the subject as well as the Gifts of the Spirit in general.

Speaking in Tongues an Orthodox perspective Fr. George Nicosizin

The Holy Spirt and His variety of Gifts Rev. George Mastrontonis

They present an exegetically correct and much more balanced pov than do Fr. Seraphim Rose, and Elder Cleopa. The Orthodox teaching on the subject is not exhausted by what they have written on the subject.

I have never been to a meeting conducted by Fr. Stephanou, but I would like to see how his meetings are organised and how the Divine Liturgy is celebrated by him. It has been my abundant experience that certain critics of renewal movements tend to misrepresent such movements as much as the traditionalists are misrepresented in such movements of renewal. This principle is also (partly) at work in the life of St. Symeon the New Theologian, a patron well-chosen by Fr. Stephanou.

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« Reply #30 on: August 22, 2005, 03:15:54 PM »

There seems to be a lot of Bible-quoting going on here. The Orthodox Church is not a sola scriptura organisation. One should read the Bible only through the lense of Holy Tradition (which stands against the notion of modern charismastic gifts, plainly the Church hasn't pitched speaking in tongues for almost 2000 years), not use one's own personal interpretation to prove a point.
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« Reply #31 on: August 22, 2005, 05:09:12 PM »

Xaira,

First, let me applaud your use of Scripture; it's quite clear that, when these Scriptures were penned, "tongues" was seen both as a communication in other earthly languages, and as "speaking into the air."  That having been said, the use of the former continues on as needed in the Church; the latter has "passed away" as a prophetic tool, as St. Paul prophesied in 1 Cor. 13.  Good thoughts, though.

Depends on how "heterdox" you consider 1 Corinthians 14 to be. I think Paul's principles there are quite clear, tongues is for a private spirit prayer to God, it does not belong in the church unless someone can understand. Since the understandability of tongue-speak is quite low, it's better off not used in Church.

I'd agree, and add that, since no Orthodox Church Father exists (afaik) who would be able to instruct folks on how to pray in tongues privately, we can safely conclude that it's fallen into irretrievable disuse.

Quote
But speaking against tongue speaking and speaking out against people speaking tongues in church, or that they have to speak in tongues, are very different issues. And we Orthodox should understand our Bible well enough to understand that.

I agree.  But as I said, it seems to have passed into disuse.  Reviving it is uncalled for, as we have no idea what it originally was like.  Some would say the prayer of the heart is now the "groanings which cannot be uttered," though as S_N_Bulgakov rightly put it, that's one of the weakest assertions in In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord.  I prefer to pray the prayer of St. Philaret of Moscow: "Direct my will, teach me to pray, and You Yourself, pray in me," then remain silent and still enough through the Jesus Prayer (which doesn't happen all that often) to let Him do just that.

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Honestly, what Fr. Seraphim writes, as well-intentioned as he may have been, is offensive to every Pentecostal in this world who is honestly following Christ the best they know how. And unless Fr. Seraphim is willing to accuse St. Paul of being possessed by demons I fail to see the value of anything he writes on this topic. 

This is true, but we must--though in charity--maintain that we are the Church, and therefore the only truly trustworthy place men can go to receive spiritual healing.  What the charismatic pentecostals are doing is not only unknown and unprovable, but potentially dangerous.  It's not the same thing at all to accuse the charismatics of being deluded as it is to accuse St. Paul of such.  The former are, as you've said, trying to guess at reconstructing something no one's seen for centuries as a living tradition on the earth; the latter was alive and ministering while this was still a widespread, valid, viable, imitable and genuinely prophetic spiritual gift in the Church.
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« Reply #32 on: August 22, 2005, 07:41:51 PM »

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There seems to be a lot of Bible-quoting going on here. The Orthodox Church is not a sola scriptura organisation. One should read the Bible only through the lense of Holy Tradition (which stands against the notion of modern charismastic gifts, plainly the Church hasn't pitched speaking in tongues for almost 2000 years), not use one's own personal interpretation to prove a point.

The Tradition of the Church is not, and cannot, be against charismatic gifts. There are many charismatic gifts, and for some we are encouraged to pray. St. Evagrios urges all who first embark on the way of Christian life to pray fervently to receive the gift of tears (penthos) so one can repent under the Holy Spirit and make it a life-attitude.

There is a vast difference between an Orthodox personal interaction with the Scriptures, and the individualist Protestant sola scriptura. Xaira is quite right to appeal to a personal life with the Holy Scriptures, there is not even a hint that she favours sola scriptura.  The articles on the goarch.org website also primarily refer to Scripture, yet I doubt the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is a sola scriptura organisation. For all we know, Xaira may simply be following goarch here.

The scarcity of resources about speakin in tongues does not indicate a rejection of the gift, for that would imply a rejection of the Giver, it simply illustrates that tongues is not considered a particularly important gift. It is a lower-one, but nevertheless a real one as the articles at goarch.org also argue. Fr. Stephanou is neither unbiblical, nor untraditional, nor unOrthodox for believing that tongues is a gift for today. Whether his practical application of it is so, remains to be seen. I do not know. I have never been at his meetings.

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« Reply #33 on: August 23, 2005, 06:00:13 AM »

There seems to be a lot of Bible-quoting going on here. The Orthodox Church is not a sola scriptura organisation. One should read the Bible only through the lense of Holy Tradition (which stands against the notion of modern charismastic gifts, plainly the Church hasn't pitched speaking in tongues for almost 2000 years), not use one's own personal interpretation to prove a point.



Huh?

I went through 1 Corinthians 14 because there was the question brought up of tongue-speaking being only speaking in foreign languages. I don't think anyone here is questioning the foreign-language aspect, at least me myself personally know a Syrian nun who had the phenomenon happen to her. The point is that in 1 Corinthians 14 something quite different is going on, utterances of the Spirit which no one understands. The plain reading of the text shows that this is something quite different from the gift whereby everyone simply hears your speech in their native language. There is no need to jump into anti-Sola Scriptura simply to ignore a whole passage of Scripture.

As for it being "gone", like I said before, I think it is not so much "gone" in Orthodoxy, but has simply been manifesting itself in different ways. There are accounts of devout followers of the Hesychast prayer have had outbursts of an experience that can not be expressed words. Also, Morton Kelsy writes that he has been personally told by EO that something like tongues speaking occurs in monasteries  (Tongue Speaking 41-45). For more information on these phenomena there is a good article by Bishop Kallistos Ware, http://www.philthompson.net/pages/library/wareonhs.html

I believe the fact that tongues speaking is incredibly infrequent, occurs "randomly", and is a completely private matter of spiritual experience, does not constitute proof that the gift is gone. The Pentecostals are wrong to place such an emphasis on it, they are wrong to require it as proof of baptism in the Holy Spirit, they are wrong to abuse it as a weapon, but this does not negate the power of the actual gift of the Holy Spirit. All I am trying to call for here is a more balanced approach, yes we can say that the Pentecostal use of tongue-speaking is wrong, but to make judgments about the gift itself is something far beyond what any of us have the authority to do, for such a decision is best left up the Holy Spirit, the member of the All Holy Trinity, who can decide for Himself what gifts he will bestow regardless of time or place.
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« Reply #34 on: August 23, 2005, 07:31:49 AM »

All I am trying to call for here is a more balanced approach, yes we can say that the Pentecostal use of tongue-speaking is wrong, but to make judgments about the gift itself is something far beyond what any of us have the authority to do, for such a decision is best left up the Holy Spirit, the member of the All Holy Trinity, who can decide for Himself what gifts he will bestow regardless of time or place.

I don't think anyone here is passing judgement on the gift of glossolalia. Clearly, it was given by the Holy Spirit in one form at Pentecost, and in another form to the Corinthians.
But as for this gift manifesting today, I have a few concerns:

1) We do not know for certain what the phenomenon looked and sounded like- how can we be sure that the 'glossolalia' people claim today is the same glossolalia the Corinthians experienced?

2) There is a very grave danger of 'plani' or 'prelest' here. The devil can also compel people to make strange utterances. From the charismatics and Pentacostals I know, there is a requirement to 'surrender' oneself to 'the Spirit' in order to experience glossolalia. How can we be sure this is the Holy Spirit? You suggest that we should "leave it to the Holy Spirit to decide", but this contradicts Scripture which commands us to "discern the spirits" to see which come from God, and which come from the enemy of souls.

When I worked with "EPIC" (Early Psychosis Intervention Centre) in the west of Sydney, more than 60% of our clients had their first psychotic episode shortly after attending a Charismatic or Pentacostal church. I have to doubt that this is the work of the Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #35 on: August 23, 2005, 09:14:32 AM »

Dear OzGeorge,

Quote
I don't think anyone here is passing judgement on the gift of glossolalia. Clearly, it was given by the Holy Spirit in one form at Pentecost, and in another form to the Corinthians.

That much is obvious indeed. Particularly since the mentioning of Glossolalia in Acts 2, seems to be purposefully staged by St. Luke to get a theological point across. I do not think St. Luke was reporting mere practical things here, as St. Paul would in the letter to the Corinthians. St. Luke is a good story-teller, and his history-telling is never without purpose. It is not an academic enterprise to him, but an educational enterprise which allows him to stage things to uncover the deeper meaning of events he had witnessed or had otherwise learnt.

St. Paul is facing a practical issue. Critical studies of the passages in 1 Corinthians on glossolalia have unearthed what seems to have been a serious abuse in the Corinthian Church corrected by St. Paul. It would seem that the term pneumatika was favored by the Corinthians, whereas charismata is favored by St. Paul. Pneumatika appears on St. Paul's lips merely to condemn the Corinthians in their own terminology. St. Paul seems to be concerned that abuse of glossolalia is leading the Corinthian Church into a gathering of individuals, each having their own privatized, ectstatic experiences and ambitions. St. Paul puts down a clear corrective for them, in emphasizing his principle of building up the Body (ie the Church). Glossolalia benefits the practitioner, but not the community. The practice of tongues in community, should preferably not occur, but if it does it must be interpreted in order to build up the Body. This principle of communion and the importance of communion, finds expression in the Russian tradition of sobornost. Tonguespeaking is fine, in so far as it does not break sobornost but builds it up. For this reason, it is preferably a private thing. It is a gift to be excercised in one's private devotions.

The terminology, pneumatika and charismata, may indicate the beginning of the gnostic temptation that would threaten Christianity for the next two to three hundred years. The Corinthians, considering themselves pneumatic people, as manifested in their individual ecstatic experiences of the Divine, were moving in a decisively gnostic direction (which might also be the background of St. Paul having to correct their spiritualizing tendencies that conflicted with a sound doctrine of resurrection in ch. 15. St. Paul's antidote to this proto-gnosticism is liturgical consciousness. Liturgy, as I am sure we all know, means common work and that is precisely what the Church in gathering or worship is to St. Paul. Liturgy. There is no place for isolated individuals, but there is only persons in communion, made one in the Spirit. For glossolalia to be truly a Spirit-gift, it must be a grace-gift; a gift that is precisely and decisively liturgical. Glossolalia may build up persons who are about to participate in the Liturgy in their private devotions, but that is pretty much the limit beyond which the gift should not be applied.

Quote
But as for this gift manifesting today, I have a few concerns:

1) We do not know for certain what the phenomenon looked and sounded like- how can we be sure that the 'glossolalia' people claim today is the same glossolalia the Corinthians experienced?

Which is where faith in Christ comes in. Do we trust that He is true to His word to give gifts, even if they are unfamiliar to us? HG Kallistos of Diokleia tells us the following:

"All the charismata available to Christians in the apostolic age, Symeon is passionately convinced, are equally available to Christians in our own day. To suggest otherwise is for Symeon the worst of all possible heresies, implying as it does that God has somehow deserted the Church. If the Gifts of the Spirit are not as evident in the Christian community of our own time as they are in the Book of Acts, there can be only one reason for this: the weakness of our faith" (from the article Xaira linked to)."

It seems to me that in HG's reading the continued rejection (under whatever pretext) of glossolalia (which is one of the charisms) is qualified as a heresy by St. Symeon the New Theologian. Of course St. Symeon's theological opinion does not have canonical status, but it does show how deeply charismatic his spirituality is. I have no doubt St. Symeon would have certain reservations concerning Fr. Stephanou, but I also have no doubt that the spiritual enterprise of Fr. Stephanou is much truer to the mind of St. Symeon as are some of the other authors mentioned in this thread who oppose Fr. Stephanou.

Quote
2) There is a very grave danger of 'plani' or 'prelest' here. The devil can also compel people to make strange utterances. From the charismatics and Pentacostals I know, there is a requirement to 'surrender' oneself to 'the Spirit' in order to experience glossolalia. How can we be sure this is the Holy Spirit? You suggest that we should "leave it to the Holy Spirit to decide", but this contradicts Scripture which commands us to "discern the spirits" to see which come from God, and which come from the enemy of souls.

This is precisely the point. We need to discern spirits. The spirit denying charismata is discerned by St. Symeon to be a heretical one. St. Evagrios of Pontos warns us that the demons who seduce us to sin, can also seduce us to go overboard in certain pious thoughts, such as the one that prevents prelest. This way the demons try to keep spiritually beneficial things from us, under the cover of piety. For this reason the 153 Chapters on Prayer starts out by saying that the balance in spiritual things will make us grow, without this balance inner calm or apatheia will not be reached and our ascent to God will fail. The latter, being the purpose of the demons. Further on, the same master of the spiritual life, tells us that demons hate prayer as much as they envy it. In prayer we attain something which the demons have irretrievably lost, which makes them furious. And as we have seen, in St. Paul, glossolalia is valuable precisely in one's private devotions and prayers. As such it may be helpful for the practitioner to attain the state of pure prayer which, ultimately, is also a charism.

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When I worked with "EPIC" (Early Psychosis Intervention Centre) in the west of Sydney, more than 60% of our clients had their first psychotic episode shortly after attending a Charismatic or Pentacostal church. I have to doubt that this is the work of the Holy Spirit

Having been a psychiatric nurse for a while, I have noted no such thing. There have also been thorough psychiatric studies been done as well as religious studies regarding the phenomenon of glossolalia. The outcome of which is usually that glossolalics are perfectly healthy in mind. There is Morton Kelsey's outdated book, and a little more recent (but also rather dated) book ed. by Cecil M. Robeck, mentioning such research and its outcome. I am unaware, cos I haven't searched lately, of more recent research and results. I have noted that psychiatric patients, are usually more open to relgious ideas as are normal people. However, this hardly justifies making a causal link here. I'de say the same goes for your experience at EPIC.

Plus, as a psychiatrically trained person, you ought to know that psychosis is not merely manifest in glossolalia, but also in visions, dreams, fast-speech, incoherent thought patterns, irrational thought patterns, and magical thinking. In fact, the latter might (by DSM IV and Gordon Patterns), be apllied to our Orthodox belief in the Eucharist, Icons, angels, etc. In fact, during nurse-training the head of the Schizophrenic Ward and prof. gave a lecture making precisely that point. One of the examples he used were the voices and visions of Jeanne d' Arc (but he may as well have used, had he known of him, St. Seraphim of Sarov).

Also in my 8 years of intimate contacts with charismatics and pentecostals I have not noticed any particular innate psychiatric imbalance. Of course, such cases may exist, but they are not typical of that movement. Just like Grigorii Rasputin is not typtical for an Orthodox starets.

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« Reply #36 on: August 23, 2005, 10:06:52 AM »

Huh? I never said that Protestants were innocent of this, in fact, Protestants were the example. And I fail to see the point, Charismatics stating something unprovable into the Early Church does not negate the fact that orthodoxinfo also states something unprovable about the Early Church.

I didn't say you said the Protestants were innocent of this.ÂÂ  What I said was that I don't think the the authors of the article on orthodoxinfo were guilty of this.ÂÂ  I do not accept what the modern day Pentecostals do as being the same thing that St. Paul and others in the early Church were doing.ÂÂ  It is evident to me that the kinds of things they are doing are not the same thing as what was described in the book of Corinthians, Acts, and elsewhere.ÂÂ  Looking through the lense of Parham, Mason, et al, they reinterpret events in the historical early Church to match up with their present activities.ÂÂ  The burden of proof is on them to demonstrate otherwise, since these things are not present in any Apostolic Church and did not rear their head until late 19th/early 20th c. America in a heterodox church.

This in no way invalidates the authentic work of the Holy Spirit or any of His gifts (including glosslogia) which have always been present in the Church.

 
Those people may have begun the "Charismatic Movement" for Protestantism, but that doesn't mean that it has been dead in the Church.

Again, what is present in the Church is entirely different from what these men contrived.  However, I agree with you that authentic gifts of the Holy Spirit are indeed present in the Orthodox Church.  How could the Orthodox Church, the Bride of Christ, lack the Holy Spirit?

1 Corinthians 14:2-5:
"2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified."

Here "tongue" is obviously being used by Paul as something ununderstandable one can speak to God with, and because it is ununderstandable, it is only good for the person praying, because the rest of the people at church can not understand him.

1 Corinthians 14:6-12
"6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. [/i]10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church."

Here Paul is using two analogies, a instrument playing random notes and a foreign language, to show that something that is ununderstandable to others do them no good. Because of this, again, the gift of tongues does not edify the whole church.

1 Corinthians 14:13-17
"13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful[/i]. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified."

Here Paul is saying that the person who is praying in tongues does not know himself what he is saying, so he needs to pray that his mind will understand it too. So that if he should have an expression of tongues in church he should pray with his mind as well, so that those who do not understand his tongue will understand his prayer of the mind, and be edified by that.

"18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue."

Here Paul uses a personal example, when he comes to their church to speak he would rather speak to them intelligably than in tongues which no one will understand. Interestingly, if tongues was confined to only speaking other languages, this would mean that Paul would be understandable to people of all nations like Peter in Acts 2, yet in all of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, there is no hint of this. And according to the context of the plain sense of this passage, it is clear that Paul is referring to speaking in a way that would be completely ununderstandable to all, which was not the case in Acts 2 where everyone simply heard Peter speak in their native language.

Yes, I understand that you are articulating an interpretation of these scriptures which is designed to justify the Pentecostal definition of tongues as being something other than an earthly language.ÂÂ  However, a careful reading of 1 Corinthians 14 (specifically verses 2, 4 and 14) clearly reveals that the one speaking in a "tongue" understood what he was saying or praying. He was speaking to God (v. 2), and he was edifying himself (v. 4). In order for him to be edified, he had to understand what he was saying. The scripture is definitive on this point: Edification does not exist apart from understood truth.ÂÂ  In 1 Corinthians 14:14, Paul says that when one speaks in another language unknown to others, one's understanding (note: he understood what he was saying) was unfruitful (it did not benefit anyone else) unless he exercised love by sharing his understanding with others. Notice that the individual prayed "with the spirit" and with understanding also (1 Cor. 14:15).

Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals, because they are speaking gibberish rather than an actual language, do not know (or cannot know) what they are saying. Such "tongues" speaking is completely foreign to the miraculous speaking of a legitimate language with understanding as evidenced in the early church.ÂÂ  Other interpretations grow out of people attempting to "squeeze their own notions of what the early church was and wasn't" into the text, as you said.


I have met many Charismatics, as well as other non-Charismatics who spoke in tongues, who lived exemplary lives full of faith and devoution to Christ and the Holy Trinity. And at the same time in the Orthodox church I have met plenty of people who did the rituals perfectly yet lived in unrepentant sins. Yes, I have also seen things I won't get into here. I fail to see the point.

And I've known a few Hindus who have lived exemplary lives, and also Muslims...

This could go on all day.ÂÂ  My point was, that you were speaking only to your own personal experiences which might be contradicted by those of others and were by no means indicative of a need for a "Charismatic revival" in the Orthodox Church.



Depends on how "heterdox" you consider 1 Corinthians 14 to be.

Obviously, I don't consider 1 Cor. 14 to be heterodox at all, but then again, I also do not consider it to be the same thing as the modern Pentecostals, who are definitely heterodox, from which the "Charismatic movement" we are speaking of stems.

The difference of the current Charismatic ideas from what Paul said is because the Charismatics have a very individualistic idea of the church, for them church is where they go to have a personal and individual encounter with God, an extreme I-Thou only experience. For Paul, and for the Orthodox church, the church is the place where all can come together and, in the community, worship God as one body. Hence, for the Charismatics it was natural for them to make tongue speaking a public part of the church as soon as they discovered it, whereas such an individual expression is completely wrong for what the traditional understanding of church. This is the ultimate basis of these tongues/anti-tongues polemics. I have not been to Fr. Eusebius Stephanou's center, so I do not know if he expects tongue speaking to overtake the corporate structure of liturgies. But speaking against tongue speaking and speaking out against people speaking tongues in church, or that they have to speak in tongues, are very different issues. And we Orthodox should understand our Bible well enough to understand that.

We agree on this, but I would add that there are other differences as well, as I have already articulated.

Fr. Seraphim Rose links tongue-speaking to demons, the occult, and the New Age.

He is not without justification to do so.


And unless Fr. Seraphim is willing to accuse St. Paul of being possessed by demons I fail to see the value of anything he writes on this topic.
ÂÂ  

That is patently false, as Fr. Seraphim obviously sees the modern Pentecostal movement as being something totally distinct from St. Paul and the Cornthian Church.

Despite our differences on some major points, the more we dialogue, the more I see that we actually agree on quite a bit (especially regarding fighting apathy among Orthodox Christians), and I definitely respect your calls for a balanced look at the issue.ÂÂ  I have tried to present a balanced view here, but I am not as eloquent as ozgeorge, Pedro, Silouan, and others who have all made excellent and informative posts.

The major sticking points between us for me are that:

1.) The apathy of some nominal members notwithstanding, the Orthodox Church is awash in the Holy Spirit.ÂÂ  It has a pleroma of the Holy Spirit and is lacking in nothing.ÂÂ  It does not need to participate in a "revival" which began outside of the Church (i.e. outside of Orthodoxy).ÂÂ  To do so would be dangerous.

2.) The authentic gifts of the Holy Spirit are present in the Orthodox Church, in the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit, and are something distinct from what we see in the modern Charismatic movement.
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« Reply #37 on: August 25, 2005, 09:31:55 AM »

Quote
I do not accept what the modern day Pentecostals do as being the same thing that St. Paul and others in the early Church were doing.ÂÂ  It is evident to me that the kinds of things they are doing are not the same thing as what was described in the book of Corinthians, Acts, and elsewhere.ÂÂ  Looking through the lense of Parham, Mason, et al, they reinterpret events in the historical early Church to match up with their present activities.ÂÂ  The burden of proof is on them to demonstrate otherwise, since these things are not present in any Apostolic Church and did not rear their head until late 19th/early 20th c. America in a heterodox church.

I'de say quite the opposite,.. Judging from what I can see in their highly unorganized meetings, they rather resemble the situation that St. Paul sought to correct in the Corinthian Church quite closely. Of course there is the significant difference that Pentecostals are not an Apostolic Church, and lack a proper hierarchy and therefore a full spiritual life. At least the Corinthians had that. The modern day Pentecosals are worse off, then were the Corinthians, but the glossolalia-gone-out-of-hand is very much the same problem. Its only worse.

Quote
This in no way invalidates the authentic work of the Holy Spirit or any of His gifts (including glosslogia) which have always been present in the Church.

Indeed, if we only learned how to treat it, without throwing any charismata or pneumatika away. The wrong way to treat tongues is in both extremes. It is interresting that William J. Seymour has consistently argued that tongues, were a minor gift, and they should not be focussed on too much. Parham, having KKK sympathies, probably attempted to draw attention away from the fruits of the Holy Spirit breaking down walls of racism (blacks and whites acting and worshipping as equals), by putting tongue-speaking on the foreground. The doctrine that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by tongues-speaking, being the vehicle to focus on the Spirit's gift, rather than His fruits. The doctrine of evidence, imo, serves a very dubious purpose in the thinking of Charles Parham.

Quote
However, a careful reading of 1 Corinthians 14 (specifically verses 2, 4 and 14) clearly reveals that the one speaking in a "tongue" understood what he was saying or praying. He was speaking to God (v. 2), and he was edifying himself (v. 4).

vs. 2 - in the spirit he speaks mysteries

No-one understands the tongues-speaker, because he speaks mystyeries in the spirit. The language suggests something un-earthly going on here, quite contrary to what you interpret it to say. Yet, perhaps it could be argued that the mysteriousness exists for the hearers, and not for the speaker himself. It seems unlikely to me, interpreting mystery as applying to the speaker seems much more natural, but it is not conclusive.

vs. 4 - edifies himself

St. Paul contrasts the building up (oikodome) of one-self, with the building up (oikodome) of the Church. The point seems to be liturgical, a tongue-speaker is using a spiritual gift in a way that threatens to transfrom the Church into a group of non-connected individuals; whereas the Church is supposed to be communal-personal, that is liturgical in the fullest sense of that word. So, the value of tongues is not denied, but its abuse is addressed and corrected. Further is it not at all implied or sated here, that the tonguespeaker understands what he speaks in a tongue. It is not the intellect, that is enriched by knowledge, it is the spirit that is edified by communion with God. This communion can be one where comprehension plays a significant role, but it does not have to be so. A tongue may very well edify oneself, through this mysterious communion even without understanding it.

Quote
In order for him to be edified, he had to understand what he was saying.

Only if edification is limited to intellectual knowedge, however, the language and context of tongue-speakiong in these passages suggest otherwise. The edification is due to communion, not to receiving information.

Quote
The scripture is definitive on this point: Edification does not exist apart from understood truth.

I would say that is untrue. For it would implicate that edification can only occur in combination with understanding, thereby denying the edifying powers of such sacraments as paedobaptism. It would also imply that I, not being able to understand the Mysteries of Confession, the Eucharist, etc. am not edified by it. In fact, only those who dare to affirm they understand these Mystyeries could,.. But are there such?

Quote
In 1 Corinthians 14:14, Paul says that when one speaks in another language unknown to others, one's understanding (note: he understood what he was saying) was unfruitful (it did not benefit anyone else) unless he exercised love by sharing his understanding with others. Notice that the individual prayed "with the spirit" and with understanding also (1 Cor. 14:15).

vs. 14 - my understanding is unfruitful

St. Paul quite clearly says that when he[/b] prays in a tongue, it is his[/b] mind that is unfruitful, indicating that in this spiritual activity his rational comprtehension is dormant. That is he hasn't got a clue what he's saying. To pray with the pneuma (spirit) to St. Paul is not understood by the mind (nous). It is a mysterious communion with God that is simply beyond rational comprehension and articulation. But there is another form of communion with God, one where the nous (mind) is the active part. This is a prayer where we fully understand what we are saying. St. Paul is stipulating a balance in things. St. Paul believes it is fine to pray without understanding what you're praying in a tongue; such is edifying because it is communion with God. But it is onesided (and ipso facto unhealthy) if it is not balanced by prayer that is understood and comprehended. This too is communion with God, but even more, this is communion and[/b] communication!

Quote
Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals, because they are speaking gibberish rather than an actual language, do not know (or cannot know) what they are saying.

Which is, in that respect, identical to what St. Paul understands to be pneumatic prayer.

Quote
Such "tongues" speaking is completely foreign to the miraculous speaking of a legitimate language with understanding as evidenced in the early church.ÂÂ  Other interpretations grow out of people attempting to "squeeze their own notions of what the early church was and wasn't" into the text, as you said.

Rather, it is you who seem to squeeze your preconception of glossolalia as xenolalia into the text.

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,..Fr. Seraphim obviously sees the modern Pentecostal movement as being something totally distinct from St. Paul and the Cornthian Church.

So he does, and it is there that I believe he is wrong.

I believe Fr. Stephanou is quite legitimate in his use and understanding of modern-day tongue-speaking, given that he obeys the Pauline rules of liturgical edification and private edification.

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« Reply #38 on: August 29, 2005, 09:48:57 AM »

I'de say quite the opposite,.. Judging from what I can see in their highly unorganized meetings, they rather resemble the situation that St. Paul sought to correct in the Corinthian Church quite closely. Of course there is the significant difference that Pentecostals are not an Apostolic Church, and lack a proper hierarchy and therefore a full spiritual life. At least the Corinthians had that. The modern day Pentecosals are worse off, then were the Corinthians, but the glossolalia-gone-out-of-hand is very much the same problem. Its only worse.

Again, I suppose this depends on your definition of what constitutes glossologia.ÂÂ  It is obvious that we have different definitions.ÂÂ  


Indeed, if we only learned how to treat it, without throwing any charismata or pneumatika away. The wrong way to treat tongues is in both extremes.

Does the the Orthodox Church throw authentic charimata or pneumatika away?ÂÂ  I don't think so.ÂÂ  It arises where there is a need for it.ÂÂ  For example, I am aware of an American woman who joined a convent ofÂÂ  Greek-speaking nuns.ÂÂ  It is said that God gave her to speak flawless Greek with no prior training so that she could interract with her sisters and learn from them.ÂÂ  Of course, this is different than what you might see on a Benny Hinn program, but that doesn't mean the Orthodox have thrown the authentic gifts away.

As St. Paul says, “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” (1 Cor 12:29,30)


Parham, having KKK sympathies, probably attempted to draw attention away from the fruits of the Holy Spirit breaking down walls of racism (blacks and whites acting and worshipping as equals), by putting tongue-speaking on the foreground. The doctrine that Baptism in the Holy Spirit is evidenced by tongues-speaking, being the vehicle to focus on the Spirit's gift, rather than His fruits. The doctrine of evidence, imo, serves a very dubious purpose in the thinking of Charles Parham.

Interesting observation.ÂÂ  I knew of Parham's racism, but I never considered the possiblity that it might have been a motive for his emphasis on "tongues".ÂÂ  Still, you have to consider the possibility that he was just misguided and honestly believed what he was teaching to be true like Mason and the others.

vs. 2 - in the spirit he speaks mysteries

No-one understands the tongues-speaker, because he speaks mystyeries in the spirit. The language suggests something un-earthly going on here, quite contrary to what you interpret it to say. Yet, perhaps it could be argued that the mysteriousness exists for the hearers, and not for the speaker himself. It seems unlikely to me, interpreting mystery as applying to the speaker seems much more natural, but it is not conclusive.

vs. 4 - edifies himself

St. Paul contrasts the building up (oikodome) of one-self, with the building up (oikodome) of the Church. The point seems to be liturgical, a tongue-speaker is using a spiritual gift in a way that threatens to transfrom the Church into a group of non-connected individuals; whereas the Church is supposed to be communal-personal, that is liturgical in the fullest sense of that word. So, the value of tongues is not denied, but its abuse is addressed and corrected. Further is it not at all implied or sated here, that the tonguespeaker understands what he speaks in a tongue. It is not the intellect, that is enriched by knowledge, it is the spirit that is edified by communion with God. This communion can be one where comprehension plays a significant role, but it does not have to be so. A tongue may very well edify oneself, through this mysterious communion even without understanding it.

Only if edification is limited to intellectual knowedge, however, the language and context of tongue-speakiong in these passages suggest otherwise. The edification is due to communion, not to receiving information.

I would say that is untrue. For it would implicate that edification can only occur in combination with understanding, thereby denying the edifying powers of such sacraments as paedobaptism. It would also imply that I, not being able to understand the Mysteries of Confession, the Eucharist, etc. am not edified by it. In fact, only those who dare to affirm they understand these Mystyeries could,.. But are there such?

vs. 14 - my understanding is unfruitful

St. Paul quite clearly says that when he[/b] prays in a tongue, it is his[/b] mind that is unfruitful, indicating that in this spiritual activity his rational comprtehension is dormant. That is he hasn't got a clue what he's saying. To pray with the pneuma (spirit) to St. Paul is not understood by the mind (nous). It is a mysterious communion with God that is simply beyond rational comprehension and articulation. But there is another form of communion with God, one where the nous (mind) is the active part. This is a prayer where we fully understand what we are saying. St. Paul is stipulating a balance in things. St. Paul believes it is fine to pray without understanding what you're praying in a tongue; such is edifying because it is communion with God. But it is onesided (and ipso facto unhealthy) if it is not balanced by prayer that is understood and comprehended. This too is communion with God, but even more, this is communion and[/b] communication!

Which is, in that respect, identical to what St. Paul understands to be pneumatic prayer.

Obviously, we disagree here.ÂÂ  None of this convinces me that my previously stated interpretation was wrong.ÂÂ  It seems to me that you have interpreted the text with the Pentecostal definition of tongues in mind, as thus come up with the above reading.

γλώσσαις λαειν was the normal phrase for foreign languages.ÂÂ  This means known, earthly languages.

Yes, St. Paul said one who speaks in a tongue “utters mysteries with his spirit", but does that mean babbling? It may sound that way from a cursory reading, or a reading infused with Pentecostal preconceptions, but that was not likely St. Paul’s intent. They are not mysteries because they are untranslatable but because they are untranslated. In other words, the context does not indicate that they are angelic languages, but untranslated human languages (cf. 1 Cor 14:10). That is why the gift of interpretation was necessary (cf. 1 Cor 12:30; 14:5, 13, 37). The context favors a human language, especially in light of Paul’s quotation of Isaiah 28:11 (in 1 Cor 14:21), which clearly indicates a foreign language, not a heavenly tongue. Moreover, one of the theological themes of Pentecost was the reversal of Babel. Thus, to read into tongues an angelic language runs counter to the original purpose of glossolalia to unify, edify and validate God’s people.


Rather, it is you who seem to squeeze your preconception of glossolalia as xenolalia into the text.

No, it is you who are squeezing your preconceptions of glossologia as something other than xenolalia into the text.ÂÂ  Nyah nyah nyah!ÂÂ  Grin


So he does, and it is there that I believe he is wrong.

And I beleive he is right.ÂÂ  Grin

I believe Fr. Stephanou is quite legitimate in his use and understanding of modern-day tongue-speaking, given that he obeys the Pauline rules of liturgical edification and private edification.

Again, we would disagree here.ÂÂ  My perspective is closer to that of Fr. Seraphim and Elder Cleopa.ÂÂ  If Fr. Stepahnou's teaching is an outgrowth of the "Charismatic movement" that swept Protestant and Catholic churches in the 1970's and 80's, then it originated outside of the Church, and therefore is foreign to the Church.


We have disagreed over the meaning of certain passages in Corinthians, but I thought we agreed at least on what took place on the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts.  After a further perusal of Fr. Stephanou's website, I see that he has a different interpretation of that too (http://www.stsymeon.org/archive/prayingbetweenliturgies.htm):

The initial utterance in the Upper Room was one of praise. In other tongues they were magnifying God and His marvels. "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). They were not preaching the Gospel in other tongues. The gift of tongues is given for praise in the Spirit, not for preaching. Peter subsequently preached, not in tongues, but in Aramaic, the spoken language of the Jews of that day.

It seems that Fr. Stephanou has swallowed certain Pentecostal teachings whole, and I am now talking about more than his understanding of "tongues".  Fr. Eusebius says we can know definitively we are saved now and the traditional Orthodox soteriological teachings are false, or in his words, "Satan robs us of our certainty"!!!  Is Satan present in the traditional teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the heresy of salvation in a moment?  (http://www.stsymeon.org/archive/canweknowwearesaved.htm).

He also says the Holy Mysteries, in particular infant Baptisms, are no good until we've consciously affirmed them. On top of this he flirts with Pentecostal rapture theology. Read through the "archives" section of the website.

This is why I say it is dangerous to try to introduce heterodox doctrines into the Church.  As a poster on another forum said: "A genuine renewal movement within the Orthodox Church would be a reaffirmation of the Faith and doctrines handed down by the Apostles and Fathers for all time. It would be a reaffirmation of the Councils. It would reaffirm those practices of the Fathers which continue to this day. What it would not do is inject nineteenth century heresies and theological innovations into the Orthodox Church."
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« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2005, 04:12:34 PM »

Dear Antonious,

Quote
We have disagreed over the meaning of certain passages in Corinthians, but I thought we agreed at least on what took place on the day of Pentecost in the Book of Acts.
After a further perusal of Fr. Stephanou's website, I see that he has a different interpretation of that too (http://www.stsymeon.org/archive/prayingbetweenliturgies.htm):

The initial utterance in the Upper Room was one of praise. In other tongues they were magnifying God and His marvels. "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). They were not preaching the Gospel in other tongues. The gift of tongues is given for praise in the Spirit, not for preaching. Peter subsequently preached, not in tongues, but in Aramaic, the spoken language of the Jews of that day.

I find no fault with this. I may interpret some things differently from Fr. Stephanou, but I find no fault or error in the above. In fact, the emphasis on a language which is consciously understood in conveying the message of Christ seems very much ok with me. As well as the idea that the Acts 2 "tongues" were reall, earthly, languages in which God was praised. However, the tongues of 1 Cor. are not identical. One is xenolalia the other glossolalia. Yes, I know you disagree, I am simply explaining from my own pov here, which I think makes most sense.ÂÂ  Wink

Quote
It seems that Fr. Stephanou has swallowed certain Pentecostal teachings whole, and I am now talking about more than his understanding of "tongues".ÂÂ  Fr. Eusebius says we can know definitively we are saved now and the traditional Orthodox soteriological teachings are false, or in his words, "Satan robs us of our certainty"!!!ÂÂ  Is Satan present in the traditional teaching of the Orthodox Church concerning the heresy of salvation in a moment?ÂÂ  (http://www.stsymeon.org/archive/canweknowwearesaved.htm).

He also says the Holy Mysteries, in particular infant Baptisms, are no good until we've consciously affirmed them. On top of this he flirts with Pentecostal rapture theology. Read through the "archives" section of the website.

I have some booklets by Fr. Stephanou, and I know about these things. Most worrisome is his eschatology. His soteriology is not what you see in it, though I certainly understand why you would think that way. Fr. Stephanou has also affirmed on his article on salvation that we are being saved that our salvation awaits completion beyond this life. He also affirms the teaching of theosis (unacceptable for Protestantism). It seems to me that Fr. Stephanou is in all basics Orthodox but he is "protestantizing" in applying Orthodox doctrine. And yes, that is a problem.

Quote
This is why I say it is dangerous to try to introduce heterodox doctrines into the Church.ÂÂ  

And with that I agree.

Quote
As a poster on another forum said: "A genuine renewal movement within the Orthodox Church would be a reaffirmation of the Faith and doctrines handed down by the Apostles and Fathers for all time. It would be a reaffirmation of the Councils. It would reaffirm those practices of the Fathers which continue to this day. What it would not do is inject nineteenth century heresies and theological innovations into the Orthodox Church."

With that too, I agree.

S_N_B

ps the thoughts about Parham I gave were actually taught by prof. Cees van der Laan who is a leading auhtority in Pentecostalism in my country, and holds a doctorate in "pentecostalism" I have found his idea convincing. I do not believe Parham genuinely believed his doctrine of evidence was real. I think he consciously tried to minimize the one and maximize the other. Especially when one sees that William Seymour never placed tongues in the central concern, in this he is radically different from Parham.
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« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2005, 07:51:15 PM »

Dear Bulgakov,

Let me say at the outset I am glad that we are finding some common ground on this issue, although we will probably always disagree on certain aspects of it.

I find no fault with this. I may interpret some things differently from Fr. Stephanou, but I find no fault or error in the above. In fact, the emphasis on a language which is consciously understood in conveying the message of Christ seems very much ok with me. As well as the idea that the Acts 2 "tongues" were reall, earthly, languages in which God was praised. However, the tongues of 1 Cor. are not identical. One is xenolalia the other glossolalia. Yes, I know you disagree, I am simply explaining from my own pov here, which I think makes most sense.ÂÂ  Wink

Yes, I realize that you are of the opinion that the tongues of 1 Cor. are something distinct from the tongues mentioned in Acts, and of course you are right that we disagree.ÂÂ  No big problem though, we've more than established that already, and of course we each feel that our own pov is the one that makes the most sense.ÂÂ  But that is only natural.ÂÂ  We are, after all, Orthodox.ÂÂ  Grin

The problem I have with the above mentioned quote is this.ÂÂ  Fr. Stephanou says:

"The initial utterance in the Upper Room was one of praise. In other tongues they were magnifying God and His marvels. "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:11). They were not preaching the Gospel in other tongues. The gift of tongues is given for praise in the Spirit, not for preaching. Peter subsequently preached, not in tongues, but in Aramaic, the spoken language of the Jews of that day."

Here it seems that he is saying:

1.) The purpose of tongues is not edification or preaching but rather praise.ÂÂ  This is contrary to St. Paul and is more in line with what I have encountered in modern Pentecostal churches where the focus is on loosing oneself in an ecstatic "Praise & Worship" service.

2.) It seems that he thinks the Apostles first "praised God" in "tongues" (i.e. Pentecostal style babbling) and then went out and preached to the people in earthly languages.ÂÂ  In other words, when the Holy Spirit first descended on them, they babbled in what Pentecostals of today would call "angelic tongues" and then went out and preached to the people.ÂÂ  So to him, the tongues of Acts and 1 Cor. are both babbling, at least at first.ÂÂ  You already know how I interpret 1 Cor., and I disagree with Stephanou here as well.


I have some booklets by Fr. Stephanou, and I know about these things. Most worrisome is his eschatology. His soteriology is not what you see in it, though I certainly understand why you would think that way. Fr. Stephanou has also affirmed on his article on salvation that we are being saved that our salvation awaits completion beyond this life. He also affirms the teaching of theosis (unacceptable for Protestantism). It seems to me that Fr. Stephanou is in all basics Orthodox but he is "protestantizing" in applying Orthodox doctrine. And yes, that is a problem.

I have not read the booklets you have read (unless they are the same documents posted on-line), but based on what he has posted in his archives section, it seems that his soteriology is exactly what I see in it.ÂÂ  He states very flatly that we can be assured of our salvation, and that to say otherwise is to allow the devil to rob us, and also that the Holy Mysteries in particular infant Baptisms, are no good until we've consciously affirmed them.ÂÂ  

From the previously cited website:

"In a certain parish a Spirit-filled man got up at a religious forum and witnessed how he was saved. Whereupon his priest replied, "No one can know if he is saved. I don't even know if I am saved." Sad news reached us that five members of that parish left the Orthodox Church as a result of continuously being chided thereafter over their salvation experience."

C'mon now, this is blatant.ÂÂ  The priest is depicted as the bad guy for teaching the Orthodox perspective as opposed to the anthropocentric "salvation experience" of the fellow "saved" in a moment in the Pentecostal manner.ÂÂ  Also, the idea that the perspective articulated by the Orthodox priest in this story is from the devil who is trying to "rob us of our certainty" would be laughable if it weren't coming from the mouth of one who is supposed to be an Orthodox clergyman.

At the very least, he is attracted to Pentecostal language, the rapture and so forth (i.e. the eschatology you mentioned), and is indeed engaged in "Protestantizing".ÂÂ  At least we agree that this in itself is problematic.

ps the thoughts about Parham I gave were actually taught by prof. Cees van der Laan who is a leading auhtority in Pentecostalism in my country, and holds a doctorate in "pentecostalism" I have found his idea convincing. I do not believe Parham genuinely believed his doctrine of evidence was real. I think he consciously tried to minimize the one and maximize the other. Especially when one sees that William Seymour never placed tongues in the central concern, in this he is radically different from Parham.

What is your country?ÂÂ  Based on the name Cees van der Laan I would guess Holland?

As to Seymour, I believe that like C.H. Mason, his heart in the right place, but I do not believe that Azusa Street was at all the work of God.ÂÂ  I wish that the Orthodox Church had a real presence in the USA at that time, as I believe that many of the African-Americans of the time would have been attracted to Orthodoxy.ÂÂ  There is so much in the spirituality that is similar (http://www.stmaryofegypt.net/raboteau_11.shtml).ÂÂ  Who knows, maybe Mason and Seymour would have been Orthodox.ÂÂ  One of my dearest friends (an ex Church of God in Christ member) thinks this would have been the case.

And perhaps you are right about Parham being insincere.ÂÂ  To my mind, anyone into the Klan, stormfront, "white supremacy", "white power", or maintaining "white bloodlines" against so-called "miscegenation", or anything along those lines is the antithesis of a Christian.  Now there is the devil in action.

May God Bless You!ÂÂ  Pray for me.
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« Reply #41 on: August 31, 2005, 08:45:05 AM »

Dear Antonious,

Quote
Let me say at the outset I am glad that we are finding some common ground on this issue, although we will probably always disagree on certain aspects of it.

As you said,.. We are both Orthodox Wink

Having established the fact that we won't agree on what tongues are, let me just add this, I do[/b] that a lot of tongue-speaking in certain pentecostal spheres of influence is self-induced fantasy. Or enforced fantasy to those who make it a must for Spirit-baptism. I have seen that more than once, in my abundant experiences with pentecostals. So, perhaps even there we have more agreement than we initially thought?

Quote
1.) The purpose of tongues is not edification or preaching but rather praise.  This is contrary to St. Paul and is more in line with what I have encountered in modern Pentecostal churches where the focus is on loosing oneself in an ecstatic "Praise & Worship" service.

1 Cor. 14, 15
"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, - which I take to be unintelligible tongues, ie. not necessarily an real language

and I will also pray with the mind. - which I understand as intelligible tongues, ie. a real language

I will sing with the spirit, - which I understand to be an act of worship in unintelligible tongues

and I will also sing with the mind." - which I understand to be an act of worship in a real language.

To me tongues as an act of worship seems within the limits of the pauline understanding. I have no issue with Fr. Stephanou here. Though I understand that from your perspective, you must.

Quote
2.) It seems that he thinks the Apostles first "praised God" in "tongues" (i.e. Pentecostal style babbling) and then went out and preached to the people in earthly languages.  In other words, when the Holy Spirit first descended on them, they babbled in what Pentecostals of today would call "angelic tongues" and then went out and preached to the people.  So to him, the tongues of Acts and 1 Cor. are both babbling, at least at first.  You already know how I interpret 1 Cor., and I disagree with Stephanou here as well.

Yes, I know how you understand it, and I see how you must come to certain other conclusions as do Fr. Stephanou and myself. However, I remain unconvinced that your understanding is the most coherent, and most likely one. It simply strikes me as too strained and far-fetched. As I'm sure my understanding must seem to you.  Cheesy

Now concerning Fr. Stephanou's teaching on salvation, I think we must put things in perspective. Fr. Stephanou puts his teaching in a polemical opposition to what he perceives as soteriological fatalism. Fr. Stephanou qualifies the statement quote by you immediately after he makes it:

"True, the completeness of salvation comes after death when the soul unites with the resurrection body. The body in the meantime awaits its redemption at the return of Jesus. Nevertheless, what is of crucial importance is the fact that salvation begins in this life[/b]. Yes. We not only have the right to claim we are saved, but an obligation in being true to our actual experience and to confess it verbally" (same article from aforementioned website www.stsymeon.org).

So, in the sense that salvation begins in this[/b] life, we are truly saved as we live with Christ in real relationship (and elsewhere Fr. Stephanou emphasizes that this is a life in the Mysteries and a life of ascetic effort). Fr. Stephanou seems explicate the teachings of Sts. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, and Theophan as given in their edition of Lorenzo Scupoli's Unseen Warfare:

",.. together with complete renunciation of ourselves, we should plant in our heart a perfect trust in God and a complete confidence in Him. In other words we should feel with our whole heart that we have no one to rely on except God, and that from Him and Him alone can we expect every kind of good, every manner of help, and victory. Since we are nothing, we can expect nothing from ourselves, except stumbling and falls, which make us relinquish all hope of ourselves. On the other hand, we are certain always to be granted victory by God, if we arm our heart with a living trust in Him and an unshakable certainty thast we will receive His help, according to the Psalm: 'My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped' (Ch. 3)."

Fr. Stephanou's interpretation tends toward Protestantism, yes, but as the above shows, having faith in God and being certain of His help (salvific action on our behalf) is crucial in our unseen warfare against our unseen enemies. As such this unshakable trust is described in the Unseen Warfare. I agree that Fr. Stephanou is leaning towards protestantism here, I do not agree that he has already crossed over into it. It is my opinion that Fr. Eusebius' concern is the same as that of the authors and redactors of the Unseen Warfare, to combat spiritual dispair or apathy towards one's salvation as it is given in this life at baptism. After all, the Mystery of baptism is the mystery of spiritual re-birth and it must mean something!

It is not necessary to interpret Fr. Stephanou's idea of "renewal of baptismal vows" in an un-Orthodox way. We have a precedent in St. Theophan the Recluse. In his The Spiritual Life St. Theophan writes:

"At the Divine Judgment, those who have received grace and who have not allowed it to act within themselves will first of all have the gift of grace taken away, and then they will be plunged into hell. This was revealed by the Savior in the parable of the talent (Luke 19:11-27). Each of the servants has been given a talent; grace is given to each person equally. One of the servants acquires ten more talents; a second servant acquires five more. A third servant acquires nothing; he says that he wrapped his talent in a napkin and set it aside. This means that the first servant worked more than the others in order to be imbued with grace; the second worked half as hard by comparison, but the third servant neglected the gift, not bothering in the least to kindle grace within himself. The reward is then given out in accordance with the labors expended on acquiring grace, or with the inner enlightenment of one's self under the action of grace. The last servant did nothing in this regard; from him was taken even that which he had, which was given to him so generously in the beginning.

Do you see how this matter goes, and how it ends? We, the baptized, have all received a talent, which is the grace of the Holy Spirit. This talent, as I have already mentioned, acts within us on its own at first, until we have grown up. As we approach maturity, grace, although it is ready at any time to act within us, does not act. It waits until we freely and willingly incline to it, when we ourselves begin to desire its full action within us and begin to seek it. As soon as we begin seeking grace immediately resumes its work within us, rousing us, directing and strengthening us. Our imbuing with grace comes about in proportion to our seeking and to the labor expended in this search. If we do not seek and do not labor toward the particular goal in this frame of mind, grace will not begin to act within us on its own against our will, as if by force. God gave man freedom, and He does not want to violate this; He does not want to enter into a person against his will and act within him. When a person of his own accord wants to be subject to Divine action, only then does God begin to act within him through grace. If God were to have His own way, everyone would become holy in a single instant. One Divine instant, and everyone would change. But the law is such already that man must himself begin to desire and to seek, and then grace will not desert him, as long as he continues to trust in it."

Where he quite clearly says we must, personally, activate the grace given to us at baptism, or it will do us no good in the end.

It is this, type of correcting[/b] of Fr. Stephanou's theology that I had (and have) in mind when I said earlier I have no problem with Fr. Stephanou's charismatic efforts necessarily, but that his theological underpinning needs correction. Not rejection and condemnation.

IC XC

S_N_B
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« Reply #42 on: August 31, 2005, 10:24:41 AM »

Having established the fact that we won't agree on what tongues are, let me just add this, I do[/b] that a lot of tongue-speaking in certain pentecostal spheres of influence is self-induced fantasy. Or enforced fantasy to those who make it a must for Spirit-baptism. I have seen that more than once, in my abundant experiences with pentecostals. So, perhaps even there we have more agreement than we initially thought?


Perhaps so.ÂÂ  Smiley

And please don't think I am speaking merely as an academic here.ÂÂ  I am also speaking from abundantÂÂ  personal experience, having sojourned among the Pentecostals for many years, and still having friends and loved ones in that movment.
 
1 Cor. 14, 15
"What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, - which I take to be unintelligible tongues, ie. not necessarily an real language

and I will also pray with the mind. - which I understand as intelligible tongues, ie. a real language

I will sing with the spirit, - which I understand to be an act of worship in unintelligible tongues

and I will also sing with the mind." - which I understand to be an act of worship in a real language.

To me tongues as an act of worship seems within the limits of the pauline understanding. I have no issue with Fr. Stephanou here. Though I understand that from your perspective, you must.

I see where you are coming from, although I must disagree with the assertion that whenever St. Paul says "in the spirit" it means unintelligible tongues.ÂÂ  This does not make sense.ÂÂ  I believe that I have prayed "in the Spirit" and know other Orthodox Christians who have as well.ÂÂ  To me, this does not mean praying in "unitellgible tongues" but merely asking the Holy Spirit to direct my will, teach me to pray, pray Yourself in me.ÂÂ  Most often this has led me to the Psalms.ÂÂ  You talk of things being strained and far-fetched, but I see your automaticallyÂÂ  jumping from the words "in the spirit" to "unitelligible tongues" as being quite the leap, unless one is coming in with a preconceived Pentecostal-infused notion of what it means to "get in the spirit".


Yes, I know how you understand it, and I see how you must come to certain other conclusions as do Fr. Stephanou and myself. However, I remain unconvinced that your understanding is the most coherent, and most likely one. It simply strikes me as too strained and far-fetched. As I'm sure my understanding must seem to you.  Cheesy

Yes indeed, it does come across as strained and far-fetched, especially when Fr. Stephanou says that the purpose of tongues is not preaching to others whose language we do not understand, but rather only "praise in the spirit".ÂÂ  This is contradictory to the any Orthodox reading of Acts that I have encountered, and the idea that glossologia is a sign of the power of God and a decisive means of proselytism.

Now concerning Fr. Stephanou's teaching on salvation, I think we must put things in perspective. Fr. Stephanou puts his teaching in a polemical opposition to what he perceives as soteriological fatalism. Fr. Stephanou qualifies the statement quote by you immediately after he makes it:

"True, the completeness of salvation comes after death when the soul unites with the resurrection body. The body in the meantime awaits its redemption at the return of Jesus. Nevertheless, what is of crucial importance is the fact that salvation begins in this life[/b]. Yes. We not only have the right to claim we are saved, but an obligation in being true to our actual experience and to confess it verbally" (same article from aforementioned website www.stsymeon.org).

So, in the sense that salvation begins in this[/b] life, we are truly saved as we live with Christ in real relationship (and elsewhere Fr. Stephanou emphasizes that this is a life in the Mysteries and a life of ascetic effort). Fr. Stephanou seems explicate the teachings of Sts. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain, and Theophan as given in their edition of Lorenzo Scupoli's Unseen Warfare:

",.. together with complete renunciation of ourselves, we should plant in our heart a perfect trust in God and a complete confidence in Him. In other words we should feel with our whole heart that we have no one to rely on except God, and that from Him and Him alone can we expect every kind of good, every manner of help, and victory. Since we are nothing, we can expect nothing from ourselves, except stumbling and falls, which make us relinquish all hope of ourselves. On the other hand, we are certain always to be granted victory by God, if we arm our heart with a living trust in Him and an unshakable certainty thast we will receive His help, according to the Psalm: 'My heart trusted in Him, and I am helped' (Ch. 3)."

Fr. Stephanou's interpretation tends toward Protestantism, yes, but as the above shows, having faith in God and being certain of His help (salvific action on our behalf) is crucial in our unseen warfare against our unseen enemies. As such this unshakable trust is described in the Unseen Warfare. I agree that Fr. Stephanou is leaning towards protestantism here, I do not agree that he has already crossed over into it. It is my opinion that Fr. Eusebius' concern is the same as that of the authors and redactors of the Unseen Warfare, to combat spiritual dispair or apathy towards one's salvation as it is given in this life at baptism. After all, the Mystery of baptism is the mystery of spiritual re-birth and it must mean something!



All of this seems a contrivance to me, and an excuse to justify Stephanou's attraction to the Pentecostal lexicon.ÂÂ  It seems that he wants to be able to declare, as the Pentecostals do, "I am saved", and since Orthodoxy soteriology does not readily allow for this, he (and now you in his defense) try to find some precedence for it.ÂÂ  It really is a stretch, and seems artificial and inorganic, a grafting of the Pentecostal lexicon onto Orthodox theology.ÂÂ  Why is this necessary?ÂÂ  Why does he feel that we have to be able to say what they say ("I am saved") and do what they do (jabber in so-called "tongues")?ÂÂ  He is attracted to their terminology and traditions, and so he wants to search for a justification for using it.ÂÂ  Anyone could do the same with any innocuos sounding phrase they liked.ÂÂ  I'm sure I could scan through the Fathers and build a case for saying "May the Force be with you" if I liked, or "Live long and prosper" or "I and I Rasta greet you in peace and love".ÂÂ  But it would be phony, as this is phony.

"Well, when the Rastafari say "I and I" they mean one thing according to their theology, but when I say it I mean it the way saint so-and-so meant it when he said..."

It is spurious.

According to the Protestant heresy of ‘salvation in a moment’, a person can obtain eternal salvation the moment he/she believes and accepts the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal savior. Salvation, to them, is merely a personal experience attained in one’s room in a moment or in the moment one hears a moving sermon. Their salvation is based on faith alone, which is defined as a feeling within the heart and on grace that is from God. Thus, when you speak to one of them, he will ask you, ‘have you been saved? Have you accepted Christ as your savior and redeemer?’

Fr. Stephanou apparently wants to be able to answer, "Yes brother, I am saved!" and so he attempts to find some justification for doing so in Orthodox theology.ÂÂ  If, as Fr. Stephanou qualifies, the completeness of salvation comes after death, then it does not follow that we can say "I am saved" before we have completed the journey.ÂÂ  If I am I swimming across a lake, and you come to me in a rowboat while I am halfway through and ask me "Have you reached the other shore?" I would be either a liar or delusional if I declared to you "Yes, I have" even while I am treading water.

The Fathers you quoted from the Unseen Warfare said as much.ÂÂ  In the above quote, they declared that we are prone to stumbling.ÂÂ  Our stumbling may yet interfere with God's salvific process for us.ÂÂ  This is the case no matter how much faith we have that He will help us.ÂÂ  We have been given free will, and consequently, we may yet abuse it and cheat ourselves out of salvation before we finish the process.ÂÂ  Despite Fr. Stephanou's protests to the contrary, to say otherwise is indeed arrogance, and this arrogance could be dangerous as it could blind us to the need for constant repentence and confession in our life as opposed to "getting saved" and considering oneself a "saint" and a "saved, sanctified Christian" from there on out.

There is not "soteriological fatalism" in the Orthodox understanding, and the Orthodox priest who corrected the anthropocentric fellow with the "salvation experience" was not the ogre Fr. Stephanou made him out to be.ÂÂ  He was right, and the other fellow was wrong.ÂÂ  The process of salvation is truly synergistic - a cooperative effort between man and God. In the Orthodox view this implies neither the denial of grace (man cannot cooperate without it) nor works righteousness (the cooperation is to grow in faith). The break between justification and sanctification is also rejected as they are considered inseparable parts of the overall plan of salvation. Since God exists outside of time, His grace is poured out at once to us past, present, and future. Declaring salvation an "event" in time ("I am saved for certain as of this moment" ) is thus a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of grace.ÂÂ  And to declare that this kind of traditonal Orthodox teaching is the "devil robbing us of our certainty" is positively ridiculous.


It is not necessary to interpret Fr. Stephanou's idea of "renewal of baptismal vows" in an un-Orthodox way. We have a precedent in St. Theophan the Recluse. In his The Spiritual Life St. Theophan writes:

"At the Divine Judgment, those who have received grace and who have not allowed it to act within themselves will first of all have the gift of grace taken away, and then they will be plunged into hell. This was revealed by the Savior in the parable of the talent (Luke 19:11-27). Each of the servants has been given a talent; grace is given to each person equally. One of the servants acquires ten more talents; a second servant acquires five more. A third servant acquires nothing; he says that he wrapped his talent in a napkin and set it aside. This means that the first servant worked more than the others in order to be imbued with grace; the second worked half as hard by comparison, but the third servant neglected the gift, not bothering in the least to kindle grace within himself. The reward is then given out in accordance with the labors expended on acquiring grace, or with the inner enlightenment of one's self under the action of grace. The last servant did nothing in this regard; from him was taken even that which he had, which was given to him so generously in the beginning.

Do you see how this matter goes, and how it ends? We, the baptized, have all received a talent, which is the grace of the Holy Spirit. This talent, as I have already mentioned, acts within us on its own at first, until we have grown up. As we approach maturity, grace, although it is ready at any time to act within us, does not act. It waits until we freely and willingly incline to it, when we ourselves begin to desire its full action within us and begin to seek it. As soon as we begin seeking grace immediately resumes its work within us, rousing us, directing and strengthening us. Our imbuing with grace comes about in proportion to our seeking and to the labor expended in this search. If we do not seek and do not labor toward the particular goal in this frame of mind, grace will not begin to act within us on its own against our will, as if by force. God gave man freedom, and He does not want to violate this; He does not want to enter into a person against his will and act within him. When a person of his own accord wants to be subject to Divine action, only then does God begin to act within him through grace. If God were to have His own way, everyone would become holy in a single instant. One Divine instant, and everyone would change. But the law is such already that man must himself begin to desire and to seek, and then grace will not desert him, as long as he continues to trust in it."

Where he quite clearly says we must, personally, activate the grace given to us at baptism, or it will do us no good in the end.

I can agree with this the way you interpret it, but I do not think that was Fr. Stephanou's intent when he wrote it.ÂÂ  He is calling for something altogether different.ÂÂ  The article clearly indicates that each believer must have "holy ghost baptism" type of experience as an adult, and you know what that means in the Pentecostal lexicon.

It is this, type of correcting[/b] of Fr. Stephanou's theology that I had (and have) in mind when I said earlier I have no problem with Fr. Stephanou's charismatic efforts necessarily, but that his theological underpinning needs correction. Not rejection and condemnation.

Do you believe that he would agree with and accept your "corrections"?ÂÂ  I do not.

Okay, that is enough for now.ÂÂ  I am glad that we can speak reasonably to one another, as in this forum discourse often degenerates into personal attacks, etc.ÂÂ  Smiley

In XC,

Nick

BTW, you never answered my question.ÂÂ  Where is "your country"?
« Last Edit: August 31, 2005, 12:27:16 PM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

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« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2005, 07:26:26 PM »

Dear Antonious,

I sm sorry,.. My country is indeed the Netherlands. Though if all goes well, it will be America from the end of september. Me and my wife are planned to attend St. Vladimir Orthodox Theological Seminary. Pls pray for us.

Regarding soteriological fatalism I do not think it is present in Orthodox teaching, but I do think it is how it is sometimes interpreted. I am absolutely confident that I am saved in so far as I continue my life in Christ, and have begun it. I am also absolutely confident that I might lose my salvation if I discontinue my walk in Christ. I see the salvation in a moment as flawed in its onesidedness, but I am not sure I would classify it as a heresy, come to think of it. I think I'de like to reserve that term for dogmatic issues such as Arianism, and the like,..

Fr. Stephanou certainly overstates his point, and he certainly tends towards protestantism, but he also points us to the reality of our salvation in the here and now, in so far as we are in Christ. I don't know if he would accept my corrections, but regardless of whether he does or does not, the corrections are necesary. I see in Fr. Stephanou an attempt revitalize Orthodox Christian life, and he seems to think that Pentecostalism and the Protestant idea of salvation-experience have positive value in this regard. It is there that I disagree with him. I agree that St. Symeon the New Theologian emphasizes the importance of personal experience of the Holy Spirit, and I agree with Fr. Stephanou's efforts to bring this into focus, but I disagree with the protestantizing leanings. But I still do not believe Fr. Stephanou has crossed the borders of heresy here. As far as I am concerned his doctrine is mistaken, but not to the extent that it is heresy. To give some example, I would have the same approach to Fr. Seraphim Rose's doctrine of Toll-Houses, which has been discussed at this forum elsewhere, or St. Augustine's "filioque" (which is not identical to Anselm of Canterburry's views), St. Basil the Great's "double creation theory", Vladimir Lossky's initial ultra-apophaticism, and Berdyaev's freedom-ism. Heresy is a very serious thing, and I hesitate to use it frequently, unless it is strictly necessary.

I am also very glad to be "reasoning" with you,.. In the process I learn from my Orthodox brothers. In much of the polemical stuff going on, I neither learn nor benefit, and I get involved only due to my sinfulness. Thanks for this discussion so far, I wish more discussions were like this. Wink

IC XC

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« Reply #44 on: September 01, 2005, 09:22:17 AM »

Dear Bulgakov,

It has been my great pleasure to reason with you as well.ÂÂ  Thank you for this wonderful discussion.ÂÂ  Your family and yourself will be in my prayers.ÂÂ  Please also remember to pray for my family and my weak and sinful self.ÂÂ  The reason I call the doctrine of salvation in a moment a heresy is because I cling to the teachings of my beloved Pope and Patriarch His Holiness Shenouda III.ÂÂ  He has written a book with this title and teaching.

Travel safely on your journey to the USA.

Your weak brother in Christ,

AN
« Last Edit: September 01, 2005, 09:34:36 AM by Antonious Nikolas » Logged

"According to the Orthodox Faith, the teachings and traditions one upholds and believes in will necessarily influence and inform one's spiritual orientation and the way one worships..." - Harry Boosalis
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