Author Topic: Understanding The Church  (Read 1383 times)

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Offline Poppy

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Understanding The Church
« on: April 01, 2016, 02:28:24 PM »
السَّلاَمُ عَلَيْكُمْ وَرَحْمَةُ اللهِ وَبَرَكَاتُهُ     (the peace upon you and mercy of God and blessings)

I want ask about some thing I find really difficult about Orthodoxy or my perception of it without either being antagonistic for the sakes of it, or causing offense accidentally which is why I started with a blessing, because if we start with a good intention and remember God then that is always the best way to begin huh. I been on OC forum a long time now and even from when I was Inquirer and then almost Catecumen at St Elias and then a long silence when I reverted to Islam so, my point is, I always came here to learn and not to cause grief to no one.

I;m just going to come out with it. If you got stuck in a tricky situation in a area that was bad with some people who seemed dubious, I could probably be helpful in getting us out of it safely and also I can defend myself really well too with my mouth and with my ability to fight (I don't really do that any more though) but academic smarts are not my forte although I am a bright person and sometimes insightful but usually only accidentally so. Ok so that brings me to why I often felt excluded from the core of people when I used to attend service for a while. It wasn't at all the reason why I didn't choose Orthodoxy; that would be a stupid reason. I did remember feeling it keenly though.

Now, you might say to me, that is the way you feel Poppy and it has nothing to do with the teachings and understanding of the people about the Church and I would agree with you, it could all just be my insecurities about myself and there could just coincidentally be more people in the Orthodox Church that are super intelligent. (Conversely and somewhat ironically, I found when I went to the Hillsong/Vineyard churches for a while when I was searching for something religious, I went to the Alpha Course and felt literally nauseous at some of the dumbest answers I got when I asked doctrinal questions. Like some of the answers literally contradicted each other or it seemed people were so emotional about their church experience that they had kissed even sensible conclusions goodbye)

I'm not suggesting in any way that I came across people who excluded me when I went attended Orthodox service, on the contrary, eveyone was kind and helpful as they can be, well most people apart from one. So it wasn't that anyone could have helped do or be anything other than what they were.

Does anyone get me? Or are you losing the will to live?

Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?

I'm not doing well saying it clearly, sorry.

I'm not complaining either but I just felt and still feel that often for me the effort in trying to understand elements of the doctrine and rites and reasons for acts, get's in the way of me remembering what the focus is and I end up anxious because I feel like I have an intellectual ceiling and If I can't reach where you are all at then I kind of feel 'less than' in my faith. Again, that's a bit wrong for me to say that because I never really got as far as having a faith in The Christian church.

Do you think I am overthinking it? I just don't accept that they way I feel is 'all' me though.

I probably started a thread like this before, years ago. I did look see if there was one but I couldn't locate it so...

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2016, 02:35:43 PM »
Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.

Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
God bless!

Offline Poppy

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2016, 02:35:56 PM »
and also if you understand so many knowledgeable and deep intricate things does that make your experience closer to God or further away?

Is it the institution of The Church that has developed all this detail and ceremony over the centuries or is that how it exactly was when the Christian Jesus started everything off?

Offline ZealousZeal

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2016, 02:39:49 PM »
You make sense, and I did not lose the will to read your post. ;)


Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?[/color=purple]
[/font=verdana]

Yes, I think it's both. I think that especially here in the West, where Orthodoxy is not "the norm" in terms of the most common and familiar Christianity, and takes effort and studying to seek out, it probably does attract a certain type of person. Hopefully as we grow and spread in the West (and if we do a good job of evangelizing and being like Christ to people), it will become more accessible. I'm guessing in places where Orthodoxy is the norm, the "intellectual ceiling" you describe is going to be less of a factor- not because people are't smart, but because it is what they're used to and born into so nothing seems foreign or strange. It's just normal.

Quote

I'm not doing well saying it clearly, sorry.[/color=purple]
[/font=verdana]

You are fine! No worries.

Quote

I'm not complaining either but I just felt and still feel that often for me the effort in trying to understand elements of the doctrine and rites and reasons for acts, get's in the way of me remembering what the focus is and I end up anxious because I feel like I have an intellectual ceiling and If I can't reach where you are all at then I kind of feel 'less than' in my faith. Again, that's a bit wrong for me to say that because I never really got as far as having a faith in The Christian church.

Do you think I am overthinking it? I just don't accept that they way I feel is 'all' me though.

I probably started a thread like this before, years ago. I did look see if there was one but I couldn't locate it so...


It's a lot to take in, and a lot to understand if it's not what you're used to. You are not the only one who has felt this way about it. I still feel that way after years of reading and studying, and even being Orthodox and living it out. While it can be overwhelming and there were certainly days when I first started getting my feet wet in it all then I felt like I would never learn, I should just throw in the towel, etc... now I think of it as a beautiful thing. The ocean can crush you with its weight, but there's a lot of beauty to discover in its depths. It depends on how you prepare yourself to go into it. :)

I hope that helps! Great question.
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Offline Poppy

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2016, 02:44:05 PM »
Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.

Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
You're right. Do the priests in Orthodoxy have the same status as scholars in Islam? Or are interpretations open to any person to make a ruling? (similar to the charismatics who say that everyone possesses the Holy Spirit equally so they can all equally make interpretations and rulings about scriptures)

Offline Poppy

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2016, 02:54:58 PM »
You make sense, and I did not lose the will to read your post. ;)


Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
[/font]

Yes, I think it's both. I think that especially here in the West, where Orthodoxy is not "the norm" in terms of the most common and familiar Christianity, and takes effort and studying to seek out, it probably does attract a certain type of person. Hopefully as we grow and spread in the West (and if we do a good job of evangelizing and being like Christ to people), it will become more accessible. I'm guessing in places where Orthodoxy is the norm, the "intellectual ceiling" you describe is going to be less of a factor- not because people are't smart, but because it is what they're used to and born into so nothing seems foreign or strange. It's just normal.

Quote

I'm not doing well saying it clearly, sorry.

[/font]

You are fine! No worries.

Quote

I'm not complaining either but I just felt and still feel that often for me the effort in trying to understand elements of the doctrine and rites and reasons for acts, get's in the way of me remembering what the focus is and I end up anxious because I feel like I have an intellectual ceiling and If I can't reach where you are all at then I kind of feel 'less than' in my faith. Again, that's a bit wrong for me to say that because I never really got as far as having a faith in The Christian church.

Do you think I am overthinking it? I just don't accept that they way I feel is 'all' me though.

I probably started a thread like this before, years ago. I did look see if there was one but I couldn't locate it so...


It's a lot to take in, and a lot to understand if it's not what you're used to. You are not the only one who has felt this way about it. I still feel that way after years of reading and studying, and even being Orthodox and living it out. While it can be overwhelming and there were certainly days when I first started getting my feet wet in it all then I felt like I would never learn, I should just throw in the towel, etc... now I think of it as a beautiful thing. The ocean can crush you with its weight, but there's a lot of beauty to discover in its depths. It depends on how you prepare yourself to go into it. :)

I hope that helps! Great question.

I had not considered someone being born into it. I often think this way about Islam where people don't have to struggle with the language like I do.

Someone born with Orthodox parents is going to be used to living it daily and so their need to understand will be reduced a lot as it's lived out in front of them from even before birth. That's quite a comforting thought actually.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 02:56:52 PM by Poppy »

Offline TheTrisagion

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2016, 03:17:25 PM »
and also if you understand so many knowledgeable and deep intricate things does that make your experience closer to God or further away?
Not necessarily. There are many saints who were illiterate or knew very little about theology, but they had a deep and abiding love for Christ and His Saints. Theology is important, but it is useless without continual repentance and a devotion for God.

Is it the institution of The Church that has developed all this detail and ceremony over the centuries or is that how it exactly was when the Christian Jesus started everything off?[/color][/font]
[/quote]
Certainly there have been developments. There are always developments when you go from an organization of a few thousand followers of Christ to millions of adherents. Those developments might be in how a ritual is performed or how the Church is organized, but the beliefs and teachings of Christ and His Apostles are the same beliefs and teachings that we hold to today. For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.
God bless!

Offline Poppy

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2016, 07:08:21 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?

Offline wgw

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2016, 07:27:55 PM »
Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.

Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
You're right. Do the priests in Orthodoxy have the same status as scholars in Islam? Or are interpretations open to any person to make a ruling? (similar to the charismatics who say that everyone possesses the Holy Spirit equally so they can all equally make interpretations and rulings about scriptures)

Christianity is not legalistic like Islam.  We receive blessings amd guidance, not rulings, from our spiritual father.  That said, if a question of doctrine arises, which is a very rare occurrence, the bishops decide what to do; if it is an important question, they meet and discuss it as a council.

So lets do a thought experiment.  If Islam were Christianity, and you were sick during Ramadan and had to eat during the day, you might in piety call your spiritual father or mother, usually your priest, and get a blessing not to fast.  But you would not face damnation if you did not obtain a fatwa authorizing you not to fast.  If however a doctrinal question came up, such as, say, the theological importance of Ali, the bishops would meet and decide it, and write an encyclical letter to all the local churches explaining their decision.

Islam, like Second Temple Judaism and Rabinnical Judaism, is a coercive religion, relying on the power of authorities to compel obedience to a set of laws (Shariah in your case, the Torah in theirs).  Christianity is a religion of gentle persuasion based on radical forgiveness, which we see even in the Old Testament with God continually forgiving humanity and later the Israelites after countless transgressions of his commandments.  Even your own book says "Seek ye the forgivness of God...verily, God is forgiving, merciful..." but then one encounters the relative ugliness of Islamic legalism even in mainstream Sunni communities.

The only forms of Islam I can relate to are a few unusual forms of Sufi mystics who focus on divine love: the Alevis, the related Bektasis, and the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi.
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline LenInSebastopol

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #9 on: April 01, 2016, 07:28:30 PM »
and also if you understand so many knowledgeable and deep intricate things does that make your experience closer to God or further away?

You and I listen to a piece of music. You read & compose music. I do not.
Now answer.

Quote
Is it the institution of The Church that has developed all this detail and ceremony over the centuries or is that how it exactly was when the Christian Jesus started everything off?[/color][/font]

Piety expressing itself bring folks closer to Him. Such expressions take the form of objects as well as worship. Tradition may be an additive process, in that we keep the original yet add to it greater activities, so priests were 3rd century garb which was derived from previous generations, icons painted by one and later precious metals and jewels are overlaid, and so it goes.

If you are American then there is little culture & tradition; in fact most all of our culture is to disdained, deride and poke at that which preceded us, which IS part of the American scene thus allowing a smorgasbord from which to choose.  Orthodoxy, much like Islam, holds forth a way-of-life to the divine. Protestants do not hold such a way in America. So culturally one finds one's self up a paddle without a creek! Orthodoxy in America has mostly ethnic roots as some "foundation", as I believe Islam does as well, no?
IOW, no matter where you go, there you are.  ;)

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Offline wgw

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #10 on: April 01, 2016, 07:31:57 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


The Gospels and other canonical books of the New Testament:

http://www.davince.com/download/kjvbiblen.pdf

Also, 1 Clement, the Epistles of St. Ignatius the Martyr, and the Didache.  They are not sacred scripture, but are a part of the holy tradition of the Orthodox Church.
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline LenInSebastopol

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #11 on: April 01, 2016, 07:34:54 PM »
Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.

Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
You're right. Do the priests in Orthodoxy have the same status as scholars in Islam? Or are interpretations open to any person to make a ruling? (similar to the charismatics who say that everyone possesses the Holy Spirit equally so they can all equally make interpretations and rulings about scriptures)

Christianity is not legalistic like Islam.  We receive blessings amd guidance, not rulings, from our spiritual father.  That said, if a question of doctrine arises, which is a very rare occurrence, the bishops decide what to do; if it is an important question, they meet and discuss it as a council.

So lets do a thought experiment.  If Islam were Christianity, and you were sick during Ramadan and had to eat during the day, you might in piety call your spiritual father or mother, usually your priest, and get a blessing not to fast.  But you would not face damnation if you did not obtain a fatwa authorizing you not to fast.  If however a doctrinal question came up, such as, say, the theological importance of Ali, the bishops would meet and decide it, and write an encyclical letter to all the local churches explaining their decision.

Islam, like Second Temple Judaism and Rabinnical Judaism, is a coercive religion, relying on the power of authorities to compel obedience to a set of laws (Shariah in your case, the Torah in theirs).  Christianity is a religion of gentle persuasion based on radical forgiveness, which we see even in the Old Testament with God continually forgiving humanity and later the Israelites after countless transgressions of his commandments.  Even your own book says "Seek ye the forgivness of God...verily, God is forgiving, merciful..." but then one encounters the relative ugliness of Islamic legalism even in mainstream Sunni communities.

The only forms of Islam I can relate to are a few unusual forms of Sufi mystics who focus on divine love: the Alevis, the related Bektasis, and the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi.

You are correct in part; if one slices history as a loaf of bread, was there not a time when the church WAS the civil authority over all matters both 'civil' and ecclesiastical? Warlords (kings & emperors) simply wanted money (taxes) to make more war. But folks started going to their conquerors to settle matters if they did not like the church's findings. No?
Or am I looking via Native American eyes where there was always two chiefs, civil and spiritual? And Islam has only one chief who answers all functions, yes?
Or, and I can only hope my view is either to stupid or wrong.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #12 on: April 01, 2016, 08:43:33 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


The Gospels and other canonical books of the New Testament:

http://www.davince.com/download/kjvbiblen.pdf

Also, 1 Clement, the Epistles of St. Ignatius the Martyr, and the Didache.  They are not sacred scripture, but are a part of the holy tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Here's a good link for those.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline wgw

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #13 on: April 01, 2016, 08:46:53 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


The Gospels and other canonical books of the New Testament:

http://www.davince.com/download/kjvbiblen.pdf

Also, 1 Clement, the Epistles of St. Ignatius the Martyr, and the Didache.  They are not sacred scripture, but are a part of the holy tradition of the Orthodox Church.

Here's a good link for those.

It would be better if it clearly delineated those writings where the scholarly and Patristic consensus says they are second century, like the Shepherd of Hermas and 1 Barnabas, from the genuine first century matrrial.
Axios and many years to you, Fr. Trenham!

Offline Volnutt

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #14 on: April 01, 2016, 09:38:36 PM »
True.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #15 on: April 01, 2016, 09:56:45 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


Almost all books included in the New Testament refer to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. I could add the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the letters of St. Ignatius and the Epistle of St. Clement for very early extra-Biblical sources. I don't recall anyone saying Christ was not the Son of God among the early controversies, even Gnostics said He was that, although they believed Him to be the Son of a different God, let us put that way. I say this not meaning to harm you or your beliefs, but I think that for any scholar that studies Jesus as a historical figure without an Islamic bias, one of the only things he would be completely sure of would be that He taught His disciples that He was the Son of God.

Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
You're right. Do the priests in Orthodoxy have the same status as scholars in Islam? Or are interpretations open to any person to make a ruling? (similar to the charismatics who say that everyone possesses the Holy Spirit equally so they can all equally make interpretations and rulings about scriptures)


While not everyone receives the grace of priesthood, you don't have to be inside the Church hierarchy to have your own opinions on some pieces of doctrine. But some points must be adhered by any follower of the Orthodox faith, such as those expressed in the Nicene Creed. I hope that answers your question.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 10:05:10 PM by RaphaCam »
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Offline ZealousZeal

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2016, 10:06:12 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


I know wgw gave you some places but St. Ignatius of Antioch in his letter to the Ephesians is pretty explicit about it in chapter 7:

Quote
CHAPTER VII.--BEWARE OF FALSE TEACHERS.

For some are in the habit of carrying about the name[of Jesus Christ] in wicked guile, while yet they practise things unworthy of God, whom ye must flee as ye would wild beasts. For they are ravening dogs, who bite secretly, against whom ye must be on your guard, inasmuch as they are men who can scarcely be cured. There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first possible and then impossible, even Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2016, 10:24:01 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


Almost all books included in the New Testament refer to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. I could add the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the letters of St. Ignatius and the Epistle of St. Clement for very early extra-Biblical sources. I don't recall anyone saying Christ was not the Son of God among the early controversies, even Gnostics said He was that, although they believed Him to be the Son of a different God, let us put that way. I say this not meaning to harm you or your beliefs, but I think that for any scholar that studies Jesus as a historical figure without an Islamic bias, one of the only things he would be completely sure of would be that He taught His disciples that He was the Son of God.

I think there's some controversy over whether the Ebionites considered Him Son of God or just a prophet who became perfect via the Law.

Also, while most if not all secular scholars will grant that He considered Himself the Jewish Messiah (which AFAICT Muslims also grant), I don't think the idea that He considered Himself Son of God or believed that the Messiah must be the Son of God is uncontroversial in scholarly circles.

You're at least right that belief in the Divinity of Christ was the mainstream Christian view by the Second Century.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 10:26:08 PM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #18 on: April 01, 2016, 10:46:43 PM »
For example, there is Christian literature from the first century, through all the centuries up to today that demonstrate the belief that Jesus is Christ,  the Son of God.

What literature? Link me?


Almost all books included in the New Testament refer to Jesus Christ as the Son of God. I could add the Shepherd of Hermas, the Didache, the letters of St. Ignatius and the Epistle of St. Clement for very early extra-Biblical sources. I don't recall anyone saying Christ was not the Son of God among the early controversies, even Gnostics said He was that, although they believed Him to be the Son of a different God, let us put that way. I say this not meaning to harm you or your beliefs, but I think that for any scholar that studies Jesus as a historical figure without an Islamic bias, one of the only things he would be completely sure of would be that He taught His disciples that He was the Son of God.

I think there's some controversy over whether the Ebionites considered Him Son of God or just a prophet who became perfect via the Law.

Also, while most if not all secular scholars will grant that He considered Himself the Jewish Messiah (which AFAICT Muslims also grant), I don't think the idea that He considered Himself Son of God or believed that the Messiah must be the Son of God is uncontroversial in scholarly circles.

You're at least right that belief in the Divinity of Christ was the mainstream Christian view by the Second Century.


As far as I know, the Ebionites were adoptionists, believing Christ was adopted as the Son of God. This still makes Him the Son of God. I don't think you can find sources from Ebionites denying or being accused of denying Christ as the Son of God.


Quote from: Panarion, by Epiphanius; quoted in The Apocryphal New Testament, by Montague Rhode James
And on this account they say that Jesus was begotten of the seed of a man, and was chosen; and so by the choice of God he was called the Son of God from the Christ that came into him from above in the likeness of a dove.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/gospelebionites.html
« Last Edit: April 01, 2016, 10:59:39 PM by RaphaCam »
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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2016, 01:26:26 AM »
Ok, I guess I misread my source.
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2016, 04:28:28 AM »
Quote
Do you think that various kinds of C(c)hristian churches attract specific kinds of people though or is it a cultural thing? Say for instance, If I went to a Orthodox service and joined a community in a relatively poor country or maybe even a affluent country but where the culture is different then I might find a difference in the focus of the discussions and teaching?
I definitely think that the different denominations/faith communities attract specific kinds of people. I also think that when people are in a certain environment, they acclimate themselves to that type of people. If you are around Orthodox Christians all the time, your mindset will be more similar to them. Likewise, if you are a Pentacostal, your mindset will be similar to that.

Further, I think that Orthodoxy in the USA is probably rather different than it is in Romania. There are cultural differences that come in to play. I'm sure there are similar situations in Islam. I imagine that Muslims in Saudi Arabia are probably rather different than they are in the US where the cultural emphasis on multi-culturalism is very much in force as opposed to the Shariah Law mentality of Saudi Arabia.
You're right. Do the priests in Orthodoxy have the same status as scholars in Islam? Or are interpretations open to any person to make a ruling? (similar to the charismatics who say that everyone possesses the Holy Spirit equally so they can all equally make interpretations and rulings about scriptures)

Christianity is not legalistic like Islam.  We receive blessings amd guidance, not rulings, from our spiritual father.  That said, if a question of doctrine arises, which is a very rare occurrence, the bishops decide what to do; if it is an important question, they meet and discuss it as a council.

So lets do a thought experiment.  If Islam were Christianity, and you were sick during Ramadan and had to eat during the day, you might in piety call your spiritual father or mother, usually your priest, and get a blessing not to fast.  But you would not face damnation if you did not obtain a fatwa authorizing you not to fast.  If however a doctrinal question came up, such as, say, the theological importance of Ali, the bishops would meet and decide it, and write an encyclical letter to all the local churches explaining their decision.

Islam, like Second Temple Judaism and Rabinnical Judaism, is a coercive religion, relying on the power of authorities to compel obedience to a set of laws (Shariah in your case, the Torah in theirs).  Christianity is a religion of gentle persuasion based on radical forgiveness, which we see even in the Old Testament with God continually forgiving humanity and later the Israelites after countless transgressions of his commandments.  Even your own book says "Seek ye the forgivness of God...verily, God is forgiving, merciful..." but then one encounters the relative ugliness of Islamic legalism even in mainstream Sunni communities.

The only forms of Islam I can relate to are a few unusual forms of Sufi mystics who focus on divine love: the Alevis, the related Bektasis, and the whirling dervishes of the Mevlevi.
I actually was sick last Ramadan and had to take meds. I got a scholarly ruling within an hour and he was total compassionate and supportive. Same with preg females or elderly or anyone with a poorly condition they don't have to fast. Allah is indeed most merciful, we repeat that every day so many times in salah. There is legalism in every religion if people are legalistic or sick or warped in their view or using Islam as a vehicle for their own twisted ideologies....but mercy and compassion should trump it. (Wowz, can't even say that word without wincing).

To answer your comment about Islam being coercive and compelling obedience, which might be your experience but it isn't mine. I know that I choose to be devoted to God and a slave out of gratitude.

Appreciate your thoughts and info.

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2016, 04:51:29 AM »
and also if you understand so many knowledgeable and deep intricate things does that make your experience closer to God or further away?

You and I listen to a piece of music. You read & compose music. I do not.
Now answer.

Quote
Is it the institution of The Church that has developed all this detail and ceremony over the centuries or is that how it exactly was when the Christian Jesus started everything off?[/color][/font]

Piety expressing itself bring folks closer to Him. Such expressions take the form of objects as well as worship. Tradition may be an additive process, in that we keep the original yet add to it greater activities, so priests were 3rd century garb which was derived from previous generations, icons painted by one and later precious metals and jewels are overlaid, and so it goes.

If you are American then there is little culture & tradition; in fact most all of our culture is to disdained, deride and poke at that which preceded us, which IS part of the American scene thus allowing a smorgasbord from which to choose.  Orthodoxy, much like Islam, holds forth a way-of-life to the divine. Protestants do not hold such a way in America. So culturally one finds one's self up a paddle without a creek! Orthodoxy in America has mostly ethnic roots as some "foundation", as I believe Islam does as well, no?
IOW, no matter where you go, there you are.  ;)

Music isn't allowed to be listened to. Anyway, to answer your question. It could go either way....the fact that one person composes and writes music might mean they are losing the whole experience of a thing because of their focus on the technical aspects of it. It might also mean because they have a greater understanding of the structure of what they are hearing that they get a bigger overall hit.

I don't know, I neither write, compose or listen to it. (I used to like rap though and I loathe R&B style stuff)


Yes in some ways ethnicity and culture play a heavy part in being a Muslim but not in Islam. As a English person, Anglo-Saxon I find it rli hard to separate what is culture and what is Islam sometimes as they are so badly enmeshed.

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #22 on: April 03, 2016, 04:54:22 AM »
Got to go to work but I will come back and answer the other posts tonight (ia), I didn't ignore them or think they are rubbish.

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Re: Understanding The Church
« Reply #23 on: April 03, 2016, 06:18:34 AM »
and also if you understand so many knowledgeable and deep intricate things does that make your experience closer to God or further away?

You and I listen to a piece of music. You read & compose music. I do not.
Now answer.

Quote
Is it the institution of The Church that has developed all this detail and ceremony over the centuries or is that how it exactly was when the Christian Jesus started everything off?[/color][/font]

Piety expressing itself bring folks closer to Him. Such expressions take the form of objects as well as worship. Tradition may be an additive process, in that we keep the original yet add to it greater activities, so priests were 3rd century garb which was derived from previous generations, icons painted by one and later precious metals and jewels are overlaid, and so it goes.

If you are American then there is little culture & tradition; in fact most all of our culture is to disdained, deride and poke at that which preceded us, which IS part of the American scene thus allowing a smorgasbord from which to choose.  Orthodoxy, much like Islam, holds forth a way-of-life to the divine. Protestants do not hold such a way in America. So culturally one finds one's self up a paddle without a creek! Orthodoxy in America has mostly ethnic roots as some "foundation", as I believe Islam does as well, no?
IOW, no matter where you go, there you are.  ;)

Music isn't allowed to be listened to. Anyway, to answer your question. It could go either way....the fact that one person composes and writes music might mean they are losing the whole experience of a thing because of their focus on the technical aspects of it. It might also mean because they have a greater understanding of the structure of what they are hearing that they get a bigger overall hit.

I don't know, I neither write, compose or listen to it. (I used to like rap though and I loathe R&B style stuff)


Yes in some ways ethnicity and culture play a heavy part in being a Muslim but not in Islam. As a English person, Anglo-Saxon I find it rli hard to separate what is culture and what is Islam sometimes as they are so badly enmeshed.


Well, I can really only speak to how my life has been. Having an interest in theology exposes me to things that make me doubt God that might not effect someone, like my mom, who doesn't think about the intellectual aspects of the faith as much. I envy her stability sometimes. I do also sometimes have a hard time praying and relating to God devotionally or submissively (and just generally getting my butt up and getting to Church!) that somebody with a simpler faith might have an easier time of since they don't have knowledge to tempt them with pride, right? On the other hand, I know that my own laziness and worldliness are the ultimate causes of my failure to pray. so even if I wasn't interested in the intellectual side of Christianity, I might still have the problems that I do.

But, my intellectual side I think also gives me a sense of history and science and the ways in which God works through the wonders of nature and the sweep of human history. Not that I claim to be especially intelligent or have any kind of special knowledge in that area, but I do have a tendency to see God, or to think I see God, in the waterfall or the motions of subatomic particles or the infinite structure of a fractal. I feel like my love of art and classical music also gives me a certain sense of the spiritually beautiful, if that doesn't make me sound like a complete dip.

So, I think that being one way or the other in one's approach to faith has its positives and its negatives, really.

As far as culture becoming enmeshed with religion, we definitely have our fair share in American Christianity at least... especially when it comes to politics. And the less said about that here in the public boards, the better!
« Last Edit: April 03, 2016, 06:32:20 AM by Volnutt »
Christ my God, set my heart on fire with love in You, that in its flame I may love You with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and with all my strength, and my neighbor as myself, so that by keeping Your commandments I may glorify You the Giver of every good and perfect gift. Amen.