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Old 04-13-2014, 03:11 PM   #1
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default The Orthodox Church

InChristAlone, I felt I had to address this statement of yours:

Quote:
Originally Posted by InChristAlone View Post
...The Orthodox Church is not simply another denomination. It is the original Church, founded by Christ Himself and described in the New Testament. She traces her history in unbroken continuity all the way back to Christ and His Twelve Apostles... for the first thousand years of Christian history, there was one unified worldwide Church... the Eastern Church maintained unchanged the "faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" ... The word "orthodox," which comes from the Greek word meaning "correct belief," not only identifies, but also describes the Orthodox Church, which has maintained the correct belief, practice, and worship of the New Testament Church, unaltered and undiminished, for two-thousand years. The Church has preserved the Faith, neither adding to nor subtracting from it; confessing the original Nicene Creed and guiding her people to growth in Christ through union with Him. .
I want to address this quote of yours, with this one from "Got Questions?.org" My own input I have put in umber.

Quote:
The Eastern Orthodox Church is not a single church but rather a family of 13 self-governing bodies, denominated by the nation in which they are located (e.g., the Greek Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church). They are united in their understanding of the sacraments, doctrine, liturgy, and church government, but each administers its own affairs.

The head of each Orthodox church is called a “patriarch” or “metropolitan.” The patriarch of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) is considered the ecumenical—or universal—patriarch. He is the closest thing to a counterpart to the Pope in the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the Pope, who is known as VICARIUS FILIUS DEI (the vicar of the Son of God), the bishop of Constantinople is known as PRIMUS INTER PARES (the first amongst equals). He enjoys special honor, but he has no power to interfere with the 12 other Orthodox communions.

The Orthodox Church claims to be the one true church of Christ, and seeks to trace its origin back to the original apostles through an unbroken chain of apostolic succession. Orthodox thinkers debate the spiritual status of Roman Catholics and Protestants, and a few still consider them heretics. Like Catholics and Protestants, however, Orthodox believers affirm the Trinity, the Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as God the Son, and many other biblical doctrines. However, in doctrine, they have much more in common with Roman Catholics than they do with Protestant Christians.

Sadly, the doctrine of justification by faith is virtually absent from the history and theology of the Orthodox Church. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes theosis (literally, “divinization”), the gradual process by which Christians become more and more like Christ. What many in the Orthodox tradition fail to understand is that “divinization” is the progressive result of salvation, not a requirement for salvation itself. Other Orthodox distinctives that are in conflict with the Bible include:

* The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture (you need the interpreted Word!)

* Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition*
(our church currently has a Missionary in Greece operating as part of team, and the giving away of Bibles has been a very contentious hot-spot for the Greek Orthodox churches there. Personal ownership of Bibles is frowned upon by the Greek Orthodox churches.)

* The perpetual virginity of Mary (God couldn't allow his vessel to have a normal married life, so she was somehow preserved despite bearing children after Jesus and is therefore less human and more Mother-of-God type).

* Prayer for the dead (possibly taken from the Book of Judith? See below).

*
The Orthodox Bible includes in it's OT:

1) Maccabees
2)Tobit
3)Judith
4)Wisdom of Solomon
5)Bara Sirach
6)Baruch



In addition to this: After Daniel 3,23- the Prayer of Azariah and the three Young Men, who were put in the fire by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar
*Story of Susanna in 64 verses (Chapter 13 of the Book of Daniel)
*The Bel and the Dragon (Chapter 14 of the Book of Daniel)
*Some parts of Esther.
*Psalms 151

* Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith

* The possibility of receiving salvation after death

* The possibility of losing salvation

* Iconography: As the Catholics have statues of saints, the Orthodox church uses Icons (two dimensional images of saints.) While Orthodox christians admit that "they
often kiss, respect, venerate and honour icons", they do not equate that veneration with worship. I don't understand how they make that distinction, given the kissing, respecting, venerating and honoring. Seems largely semantic to me - and certainly there is no indication in the Bible that icons and relics were a part of the early Christian ecclesia.

* Animal Sacrifice: The Armenian Orthodox Church has practiced animal sacrifice since its inception in 301 AD and still does until this day. It is referred to as Matagh and performed outside of the church on holy days such as Easter or to ask for forgiveness. The practice was instituted by St. Gregory the Illuminator in his efforts to convert pagans, so it is an example of adapting a pagan practice to further conversion efforts. Please refer to the following article:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/3154334


Please note that the Armenian Orthodox Church was the first nationally established church, the country officially converting in 301 AD. The second was its neighbor, the Kingdom of Georgia, which was officially declared Christian in 337 AD. Georgian Christians also occasionally perform animal sacrifices. The Armenian Orthodox Church is one of the Oriental Orthodox Churches which rejected the ruling of the Council of Chalcedon in 451 AD, over the definition of the Trinity, so it has split with the larger Eastern Orthodox community. However, there are other groups within the Eastern Orthodox church who also have maintained animal sacrifice as part of their worship service (see http://www.theguardian.com/commentis...e-christianity)



Also for a history of animal sacrifice within Eastern Orthodoxy, see the following:


http://www.academia.edu/1183305/The_...istian_Context


While the Eastern Orthodox Church has claimed some of the church's great voices, and while there are many in the Orthodox tradition that have a genuine salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, the Orthodox church itself does not speak with a clear message that can be harmonized with the biblical gospel of Christ. The call of the Reformers for “Scripture alone, faith alone, grace alone, and Christ alone” is missing in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and that is too precious a treasure to do without.

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Old 04-13-2014, 03:40 PM   #2
NeitherFirstnorLast
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Default Re: The Orthodox Churches

Sorry InChristAlone, I just want to explain why I put up that last post:

It's not to cast aspersion on Orthodox Christian believers - rather, what I posted was intended to highlight some of the, let's call them "controversial" opinions or ideas that come from that group, which still has, I believe, members who are a part of the Universal Body of Christ. What I really want to say is:

The Orthodox church is just ANOTHER Christian group claiming to be the "One True Church". They "hide history" where they need to, to support that claim. We've seen this all before. That's why we're all here.

On another note about Orthodox Eschatology: My Pastor is a Preterist. I am not, but I have heard the arguments and I respect the person so convicted (side note: a really thorough and excellent discourse on Preterism by R.C. Sproul can be found here: http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture...os.php#sermons - look under "Eschatology").

I don't consider Preterists heretics, but I do see some serious problems with Preterism that even Preterists have to admit: One main problem being, "if God was really finished with Israel in 70 AD, and the Church is the new Israel, then what the hell happened in 1948 and again in 1967?" Why is it that Satan has NEVER stopped persecuting the Jew (and the same is foretold in the book of Revelation) through Inquisitions, Pogroms, and Holocausts, and yet somehow GOD always preserves them a remnant? Remember that Israel simply didn't exist through almost ALL of church history. Who would have thought that God would give that land back to His people?

There's a quote I want to share, by a very famous American.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Twain
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts. … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

If a Preterist can answer that question, I'd love to hear the answer.
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Old 04-14-2014, 12:52 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Orthodox Churches

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeitherFirstnorLast View Post
Sorry InChristAlone, I just want to explain why I put up that last post:

It's not to cast aspersion on Orthodox Christian believers - rather, what I posted was intended to highlight some of the, let's call them "controversial" opinions or ideas that come from that group, which still has, I believe, members who are a part of the Universal Body of Christ. What I really want to say is:

The Orthodox church is just ANOTHER Christian group claiming to be the "One True Church". They "hide history" where they need to, to support that claim. We've seen this all before. That's why we're all here.

On another note about Orthodox Eschatology: My Pastor is a Preterist. I am not, but I have heard the arguments and I respect the person so convicted (side note: a really thorough and excellent discourse on Preterism by R.C. Sproul can be found here: http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture...os.php#sermons - look under "Eschatology").

I don't consider Preterists heretics, but I do see some serious problems with Preterism that even Preterists have to admit: One main problem being, "if God was really finished with Israel in 70 AD, and the Church is the new Israel, then what the hell happened in 1948 and again in 1967?" Why is it that Satan has NEVER stopped persecuting the Jew (and the same is foretold in the book of Revelation) through Inquisitions, Pogroms, and Holocausts, and yet somehow GOD always preserves them a remnant? Remember that Israel simply didn't exist through almost ALL of church history. Who would have thought that God would give that land back to His people?
NeitherFirstnorLast, I am sorry, I am not qualified to reply all your questions. However, I'll try to reply some of them. Thought every detailed answer (even with my “copy and paste” approach) may take too much space on this page.

There are controversial teachings in every Christian church, denomination or sect. The Orthodox Church is not an exception. And I bet your church is not one as well. "To err is human". At the end of the day it's not about how you and I interpret the Holy Bible, or what you and I think about each other's teachings. It's about what the Lord thinks about us.

As for Preterism, the Orthodox Christians are not Preterists in every sense of the word, rather – partial.

There are two forms of preterism:

The first is "full" preterism. This is the view that all Biblical prophecy, including the Second Coming and the resurrection of the dead, has been fulfilled. This view is rejected because it rejects the plain meaning of the word "resurrection" which refers not to passing into a disembodied immortality, but rather being raised from the dead in the likeness of Christ's resurrection, with one's very body being clothed in immortality.

The other form of preterism is "partial" preterism. This is the view that many or most Biblical prophecies were fulfilled in the Jewish war when the Roman Empire destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. This view is certainly acceptable.

Several Fathers, including St. John Chrysostom (particularly in his commentary on Matthew 24) understand the year 70 to be a critical date in understanding Biblical prophecy. They would also see a double application in many eschatological passages to a future time as well which is the most reasonable reading of these texts.

Furthermore, chiliasm (the idea of a future millennial reign on earth) has been rejected by Orthodoxy. One common view is that the millenium is the period of time where Satan is prevented from deceiving the nations (thus, the gospel spreads to all nations) and where the kingdom is 'inbroken,' but not fully consummated. This, in other words, is our present time. There are also spiritual interpretations of the 1000 years, indicating the spiritual state of Christians when they are ruled by the Spirit and when the power of the evil one is suppressed.

http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/943/

Why do infants receive holy communion in the Orthodox Church?

This is actually the most ancient practice for all the apostolic of East and West. It seems well established that infant baptism was an apostolic ordinance (as indicated by Origen). The mystery or sacrament of initiated included not only baptism (by triple immersion) but also chrismation and the reception of the Eucharist. Hence, one is either in the Church and in Christ or not - there is no partial or fragmentary participation in the Church.

Why do Orthodox children take Holy Communion from the time they are baptized?

Actually, Orthodox children begin to receive Holy Communion only after baptism and chrismation. The Orthodox view is that baptism and chrismation not only free the person from the bondage of sin and evil, but grant the Holy Spirit to the new Christian and confer upon him or her lay status also. This means that the Christian is fully a member of the Body of Christ and therefore a full communicant in the sacramental life of the Church. Thus, infants who are baptized and chrismated are also expected to participate in the sacrament of Holy Communion and usually do so from the very day of their baptism.

http://www.mosc.in/index.php?option=...322&Itemid=474

When children are baptized in the Orthodox Church as infants, and raised in the Church, their parents, grandparents and godparents have just as much responsibility to feed the children’s souls as they have to feed their bodies. One of the most vital sources of this spiritual nourishment is bringing the children to the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion at least every Sunday. A person does not need to understand how Holy Communion provides nourishment for it to be effective, any more than it is necessary to understand the process of digestion for regular food to be effective. If people do not eat - whether a child or adult - they become weak, malnourished and may die. Likewise, our souls become weak, withered and may die without spiritual food. Children who attend Divine Liturgy every week since infancy learn at a very early age that receiving Holy Communion is something truly special, and they look forward to it with eager anticipation.

http://www.greekorthodox.org.au/gene.../holycommunion

More about Infant Baptism:

The Orthodox Christians baptize infants and also give them the Holy Communion right then after baptism.

The basic questions put to us are:

1)Doesn't the bible say “repent and be baptized”?

2)So how can a 4 month old baby “repent and be baptized”?

3)Can you show any proof of infant baptism in Bible.

In the following posts we will address all of these questions and show a biblical perspective followed by the Orthodox Churches of the world.

1.”Repent and be baptized”
St. Peter says in Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized,….”.
How is Infant Baptism possible for babies who are unable to repent is the question put to us by non-orthodox christians.

The promise of salvation is for entire generations.
Unlike new age faiths, Christianity doesn't offer individual salvation*, we believed in community.

Let us read Acts 2 in completion to get the complete perspective:

38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.
And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off-for all whom the Lord our God will call.” –Acts 2: 38,39

The Promise of Salvation was given to “you and your CHILDREN” as well, says Apostle Peter.

Salvation as a promise to generations.
The Bible is full of promises to generations. Salvation is promised to an entire generations and not to individuals.

*”For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy. “– 1 Corinthians 7:14

*”May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you, that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham.”– Genesis 28:4.

*”That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice”.–Genesis 22:17,18

The faith of the believing wife can save the unbelieving husband and the children born to them also inherit the blessing of Christ and are “holy”, says the Bible here.

The blessing of Abraham was given to his entire generation, to his entire Descendants, not just to Abraham alone.

The early Christian church believed in community salvation likewise. Not in individual salvation like modern day christian groups preach.

2. New born babies are not sinners.
2)So how can a 4 month old baby “repent and be baptised”?

The babies of course didn’t need to repent as they were not sinners. The entire household, along with babies were baptised in early christian tradition.

But Protestants and Roman Catholics believe that Infants are Born Sinners! This is their teaching regarding Original Sin.

This is according to the teaching of the western father St. Augustine of Hippo. The Roman Catholics adopted this teaching, while the Orthodox Christians of the Eastern Christendom rejected this.
Later, even after the Protestant Reformation, the Protestants continued to believe in this doctrine of St. Augustine.

St. Augustine had also taught that “unbaptised infants go to hell” and this is also what the Roman Catholic Church teaches.

This is complete heresy and an anti-scriptural, anti-traditional belief, followed by both roman catholics and protestants.

The Orthodox Christian understanding of Original Sin is different from that of the West.

“The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the
righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him”
(Ezekiel 18:20)”.

“Thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:13, 14

“Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” Job 31:15

The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. Job 33:4

He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. Acts 17:25

We are the offspring of God. Acts 17:29

18:3-4, Jesus declared, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the
kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 19:14,
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to
come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

God chooses us. We dont choose Him.
It is not us who choose God, out of our righteousness and knowledge, so that we inherit salvation. This is unlike the “born again” concept born of spiritual arrogance.

Babies who are not sinners neednt repent because of this precisely. And it is arrogance to suppose that its something that “we do” that makes us eligible for salvation. Its all Grace and Mercy, says the Bible.
The Bible strikes at the roots of “holier than thou” arrogant spirituality. Instead lets emulate those who are “poor in spirit” as Jesus advises us.

For who is righteous, and who can repent unless God wills it?

“Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth”.-Romans 9:18

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration baptism) and renewing by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5)

“According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love”–Ephesians 1:4

In John 15:16, Jesus says “You did not choose Me, but I chose you…

“So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy”. –Romans 9:16

3. Infant Baptism in the Bible.
We can find plenty of instances of Infant Baptism in the Bible:-


I Cor. 1:16 Paul baptized the household of Stephanus.
Acts 11:13ff Peter baptized the household of Cornelius.
Acts 16:15 Paul baptizes the household of Lydia.
Acts 16:31 Philippian jailer’s household is baptized.

Here we can see that in the New Testament period, the entire household was baptised.

Now the logical question is, how do we know that “households” included infants??

In the Hebrew Bible, the corresponding word used for “household” in these verses are “BAYIT”..
In the Greek Bible, it is “oikos” (Greek) in LXX.

In the Old Testament, “Bayit” and “oikos” included all family members up to 4 generations, children (married and unmarried), slaves of both sexes, and sojourners (non-Jewish migrant workers).

Genesis 46:6,27: Jacob’s household: all his sons, and their children and wives, all the persons of the house of Jacob were 70.

I Samuel 22:15-19: All the household of Ahimelech and his father are killed: men, women, children, infants and all his livestock.

2 Samuel 2:3 David brought up all his men each with his household to Hebron.

2 Samuel 15:15-16 David flees Jerusalem with all his household, leaves 10 concubines to tend the house.

I Samuel 25:6 David sends blessings to Nabal, peace be to your house and all that you have.

Jeremiah 38:17 Jeremiah prophecies against Zedekiah that his household will be killed if he does not obey God.

Noah’s whole ‘household’ was taken into the ark with him. (Genesis 7:1)

Abraham had his whole household circumcised (Genesis 17:23), and specifically his son Isaac when he was eight days old. (Genesis 21:4)

The whole household of every family was taken out of Egypt, and God’s institution of the Passover specifically included the children. (Exodus 12:24-28)

It is clear from Scripture that Household baptisms in the early Church included infants.

OT symbols of salvation included Infants.
1. Circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant between the people of Abraham and Himself, was performed on every male child who was eight days old (Genesis 17:12).

Circumcision is compared with Baptism in NT. Colossians 2:11,12: “And in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism …”

2. Moses’ leading his people through the Red Sea is seen as an Old Testament foreshadowing of Christian baptism.

“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were BAPTIZED into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them, and that rock was Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)

3. The saving of Noah’s entire family by the ark can also be seen as a prefigurement of a baptism which includes infants.

Infant Baptism in early Christian tradition.
We can find many instances of Infant baptism in early christianity:-

*Polycarp (69-155 AD), a disciple of the Apostle John, was baptized as an infant. This enabled him to say at his martyrdom. “Eighty and six years have I served the Lord Christ” (Martyrdom of Polycarp 9: 3).

*Justin Martyr (100 – 166 AD) of the next generation states about the year 150, “Many, both men and women, who have been Christ’s disciples since childhood, remain pure at the age of sixty or seventy years” (Apology 1: 15).

*Irenaeus (130 – 200 AD), writes in Against Heresies II 22: 4 that Jesus “came to save all through means of Himself – all. I say, who through him are born again to God – infants and children, boys and youth, and old men.”

*At the Council of Carthage in 254, the 66 bishops present said: “We ought not hinder any person from Baptism and the grace of God….. especially infants. . . those newly born.”

*Preceding this council, Origen wrote in his (Commentary on Romans 5: 9: “For this also it was that the church had from the Apostles a tradition to give baptism even to infants. For they to whom the divine mysteries were committed knew that there is in all persons a natural pollution of sin which must be done away by water and the Spirit.”

Do not hinder the little ones.
Matthew 19:14,
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to
come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Jesus said to let the little children come to Him. Who are we to hinder them?

If John the Baptizer could be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb (Luke 1: 15), then certainly little children too can be filled with the Holy Spirit and be baptised.

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”–Matthew 18:10

That is why in Orthodox Christian tradition we allow both Infant Baptism and Infant Communion, ie because we follow the Scripture and Early Christian Tradition wholly, without dilution for 2000 years..

The articles in the following websites were helpful in creating this thread.
Please refer them for more detailed explanation and other left out points:
http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7067
http://www.forthelife.org/a4.htm
http://www.forthelife.org/infantbaptism.htm
http://www.antiochian.org/node/16904
http://www.mtio.com/articles/aissar40.htm#7
http://www.ephesus.com/Orthodox/InfantBaptism.html

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/o...ral-tradition/ - the most full answer

As for me, I was baptized when I was several months old. I am grateful to my parents for it and, of course, I give thanks to God for His grace, love and abundant mercy.

PS

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeitherFirstnorLast View Post
There's a quote I want to share, by a very famous American.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Twain
The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts. … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?"

If a Preterist can answer that question, I'd love to hear the answer.
"A very famous American" used to be one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. BTW, some of his writings suggest that he was an atheist.

It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
(From "The Wit and Wisdom, of Mark Twain" edited by Alex Ayres / 1987)

Faith is believing something you know ain't true.
(Following the Equator / 1897)

In God We Trust.' I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true.

"There is no other life; life itself is only a vision and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad." Mark Twain in Eruption

"[The Bible] has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies."

"[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology." Mark Twain and the Bible

One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed in it. They have also believed the world was flat.
(Notebook)

I believe Mark Twain answered his own question. Like question... like answer.
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:07 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Orthodox Churches

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeitherFirstnorLast View Post
The Orthodox church is just ANOTHER Christian group claiming to be the "One True Church". They "hide history" where they need to, to support that claim. We've seen this all before. That's why we're all here.
Personally, I think that all Christians, who believe in Christ and take Him as their Savior and Redeemer, are One Christian Church. We may have different interpretations of the Bible, we may belong to different denominations, but we are one in Christ.

As for the Orthodox Church claims, I will try to explain where they come from. However, I don't know anything about "the hidden history of the Orthodox Church". So I suppose you are more well-informed.

Anyway, no proof is going to satisfy everyone. Each argument will always have its counter-argument. But at least we will have some food for mind.

“In the first place it must be made clear that it is the common teaching of the Orthodox Christian tradition that the Church has no monopoly on grace and truth and love. The Church teaches on the contrary that God is the Sovereign Lord who saves those whom He wills. The Church believes as well that salvation depends upon the actual life of the person, and God alone is capable of judging since He alone knows the secrets of each mind and heart. Only God is capable of judging how well a man lives according to the measure of grace, faith, understanding, and strength given to him. But once again, let it be clear that every man is judged by God alone according to the actual truth and love in his life. This goes for Orthodox and non-Orthodox alike. And although the Orthodox confess that the fullness of truth and love is found in the life of the church, nominal church membership or formal assent to some doctrines does not at all guarantee salvation.”

http://oca.org/questions/otherconfes...her-christians

The Eastern Orthodox Church, a branch of Christianity also known as Eastern Orthodoxy, Orthodox Christianity, or the Orthodox Church, identifies its roots in the early Church, particularly as it developed within the Greek-speaking eastern branch of the Roman Empire. The Eastern Orthodox Church accepts the first seven Ecumenical Councils (which were held between 325 and 787 C.E.), and regards itself as the True Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church is organized with an episcopal structure including the Four Patriarchs of Alexandria, Antioch, Constantinople, and Jerusalem (the Patriarch of Constantinople is the first of equals) and consecrated bishops (whose lineage is believed to be traced back to Jesus' apostles). Their worship is highly liturgical and extremely iconographic, both of which are central to the Church's life, history, and practice. Their icons, which include depictions of Jesus, the Virgin Mary, biblical scenes, or saints, are believed to create a sense of the presence of God. Eastern Orthodoxy is strongly doctrinal and places great authority in the Bible, the Creeds (Apostles' and Nicene), and the seven ecumenical councils.

Quick Fact Details:

The doctrines of the Orthodox Church were created through a series of church councils. The most authoritative among them are being the Seven Ecumenical Councils held between the fourth and eight centuries. These councils were convened out of the necessity to resolve conflicts that had developed from the beliefs such as Aryanism, Nestorianism, and Monothelitism. Towards the end of its first thousand years of existence, differences developed between the Church in the Eastern and Western Roman Empire and this led to the Great Schism in 1054, dividing the Chalcedonian Christians into Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. (Chalcedonian describes churches and theologians which accept the definition given at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) of how the divine and human relate in the person of Jesus Christ. While most modern Christian churches are Chalcedonian, in the 5th–8th centuries AD the ascendancy of Chalcedonian Christology was not always certain. The dogmatical disputes raised during this Synod led to the Chalcedonian schism and as a matter of course to the formation of the non-Chalcedonian body of churches known as Oriental Orthodoxy. The Chalcedonian churches were the ones that remained united with Rome, Constantinople and the three Greek Orthodox patriarchates of the East (Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), that under Justinian II at the council in Trullo were organised under a form of rule known as the Pentarchy).

Formed: The exact date of the beginning of the Eastern Orthodox Church is indeterminable. While the belief system recognized as Christianity is in place by the first century, institutional structures developed over time. Nor is it possible to distinguish Orthodoxy as a separate tradition until it can be differentiated from other Christian traditions (most notably, Roman Catholicism and Protestantism). Scholars recognize a variety of significant institutional, theological, and cultural markers in the development of Orthodoxy:


· 33 Pentecost (A.D. 29 is thought to be more accurate).

· 49 Council at Jerusalem (Acts 15) establishes precedent for addressing Church disputes in Council. James presides as bishop.

· 69 Bishop Ignatius consecrated in Antioch in heart of New Testament era-St. Peter had been the first bishop there. Other early bishops include James, Polycarp, and Clement.

· 95 Book of Revelation written, probably the last of the New Testament books.

· 150 St. Justin Martyr describes the liturgical worship of the Church, centered in the Eucharist. Liturgical worship is rooted in both the Old and New Testaments.

· 313 The Edict of Milan marks an end to the period of Roman persecution of Christianity.

· 325 The Council of Nicea settles the major heretical challenge to the Christian Faith posed when the heretic Arius asserts Christ was created by the Father. St. Athanasius defends the eternality of the Son of God. Nicea is the first of Seven Ecumenical (Church-wide) Councils. (The first post-apostolic ecumenical council of the Christian community at which Church leaders formed a creedal statement of belief recognized universally).

· 380—Edict of Thessalonica. The Emperor Theodosius I mandates "catholic" (universal, in contrast to the heresies of the time) Christianity to be the legal religion of the Empire.

· 381—First Council of Constantinople. This council amended and ratified the Nicene Creed, resulting in the version used by Christian churches around the world.

· 451 Council of Chalcedon affirms apostolic doctrine of two natures in Christ. (The first division within Christianity triggered by the split between those who adhered to the conclusions of the Council and those who did not (referred to as Oriental Orthodox)).

· 589 A synod in Toledo, Spain, adds the filioque to the Nicene Creed (asserting that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son). This error is later adopted by Rome.

· 787 The era of Ecumenical Councils ends at Nicea; the Seventh Council restores the centuries-old use of icons to the Church. (The Second Council of Nicea, often called "The Triumph of Orthodoxy." After many decades of iconoclasm (the rejection and destruction of icons), this council ratified the veneration and use of icons in worship and in private devotion—a uniquely Orthodox practice).

· 988 Conversion of Rus' (Russia) begins.


· 1054 The Great Schism occurs. Two major issues include Rome's claim to a universal papal supremacy and her addition of the filioque clause to the Nicene Creed. The Photian Schism (880) further complicates the debate. (Though the Eastern and Western branches of the Church had long been divided over theological, cultural, linguistic, and ecclesiological disputes, the separation was formalized in 1054, thus creating the first large-scale division within Christendom).

historical dates:

· 1066 Norman Conquest of Britain. Orthodox hierarchs are replaced with those loyal to Rome.

· 1095 The Crusades begun by the Roman Church. The Sack of Constantinople (1204) adds to the estrangement between East and West.

· 1333 St. Gregory Palamas defends the Orthodox practice of hesychast spirituality and the use of the Jesus prayer.

· 1453 Turks overrun Constantinople; Byzantine Empire ends.

· 1517 Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the door of the Roman Church in Wittenberg, starting the Protestant Reformation.

· 1529 Church of England begins pulling away from Rome.

· 1794 Missionaries arrive on Kodiak Island in Alaska; Orthodoxy introduced to North America.

· 1870 Papal Infallibility becomes Roman dogma.

· 1988 One thousand years of Orthodoxy in Russia, as Orthodox Church world-wide maintains fullness of the Apostolic Faith.

· 2014

Sacred Texts: Eastern Orthodoxy uses the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, which includes the deuterocanonical books that Protestants rejected. Their New Testaments are identical to those of all Christians.

Headquarters: The nature of the Eastern Orthodox Church is conciliar rather than monarchical. That is, the patriarchs all hold equal authority in the Church and there is no centralized headquarters from which jurisdiction is maintained. Because the Ecumenical Patriarch—believed to be the first in honor among Orthodox patriarchs—is the Patriarch of Constantinople, Istanbul may be considered the spiritual center of the Orthodox communities.

http://www.patheos.com/Library/Eastern-Orthodoxy.html
http://www.antiochian.org/orthodox-church-history

In brief, the one, undivided Church is said to have begun on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the Resurrection of Christ. Already by the 4th century the term “Orthodox Christian” was used to designate those Christians who remained faithful to the totality of the teaching of Jesus Christ and the apostles, as opposed to those who were known as “heretics” who promoted false doctrines and beliefs. [The term “orthodox” means “correct believing” or “correct, true glory.”]

Due to a variety of complex circumstances, the Western church, known today as the “Roman Catholic Church,” split from the Eastern Orthodox Patriarchates of Constantinople, Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch in the 11th century. Roman Catholics, however, see it from the opposite perspective, namely that the Orthodox Church broke communion with the Roman Catholic Church.

We Orthodox believe that we are the continuation of the ancient Orthodox Christian Church, that we trace our history back to Christ and the apostles, and that the Church was “formally” established on the day of Pentecost. The Roman Catholic Church placed itself outside of this fellowship when it broke off communion with us in the 11th century.

This is a very brief outline; a thorough treatment of the issue would fill volumes, and there are many resources readily available should you wish to research the history of this further. For more information I would recommend that you check links on Church history. Or you may wish to read the book by Bishop Kallistos [Timothy] Ware called “The Orthodox Church,” which gives the historical background in detail.

http://oca.org/questions/history/the...ristian-church


“I would begin by saying that, at least in my own opinion, one of the major differences between the Orthodox Church and other Christian confessions—at least in their present-day expressions—is that Orthodoxy maintains its focus on God first and humanity second. It sometimes seems to me that many confessions today place more emphasis on humanity than on God. Above all, Orthodoxy sees the Church as the People of God—People who are called to worship, to praise, to render thanks in all things, and to set their sight on “the life of the world to come.” We, as Saint Paul writes, are “in the world,” but we are not “of the world.” We certainly are to be concerned with the condition of our society, the plight of the poor and homeless, the fallen world which surrounds us—and, as we see clearly in the words and actions of Jesus Christ, we in fact must be involved with such things, for “as often as [we] have done these things to these, the least of My brothers, [we] have done them to [Christ],” to paraphrase the words of Christ in his parable of the last judgment.

However, if we as Orthodox Christians are to make an impact on humanity, it can only come as a result of allowing God to make an impact on us. In the Orthodox Liturgy we sing “now lay aside all earthly cares, that we may receive the King of All Who comes invisibly upborne by angelic hosts!” This hymn comes after a series of litanies in which we pray for “the peace of the whole world,” for “travelers… the sick and the suffering, captives and their salvation… seasonable weather, an abundance of the fruits of the earth, and peaceful times,” etc. In these petitions at the beginning of the Liturgy, we acknowledge that we cannot divorce ourselves from the world that surrounds us. However, as we sing “now lay aside all earthly cares,” we also acknowledge that the focus of our vision must be, above all and before all, on the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—God. We serve God in order to serve others; the Church cannot, however, be limited to the realm of a social agency solely involved in people’s lives apart from the context of humanity’s relationship with the Holy Trinity.

Orthodoxy does not see a fracturing of the Body of Christ—Scripture teaches us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church, and St. Paul is clear that there is but one body, stressing that the Body of Christ cannot be divided.

Individuals—or whole groups of individuals—can separate themselves from the Body of Christ and even refer to themselves as a church, but the Orthodox Christian Church remains one, as the Body of Christ is one. Western Church history is replete with what you refer to as “the schism… a series of over-reactions to heresy.” Orthodoxy does not admit the notion, which you imply, of “the destruction of the church.” We could go as far as to say that there is no division in the church, for those who stand apart from the fullness of the truth have not divided the one Church but, rather, have placed themselves outside of it.

Orthodox Christianity maintains the fullness of Scripture, relying on it heavily in worship, study, etc. However, we also hold to what we call “Holy Tradition,” which is the ongoing life of God’s People and those things which are essential to the salvation of souls. Ritual is not an end in itself; rather, ritual is a way, often non-verbal, to express truth, to celebrate it, to reveal it, and to share it. It is quite clear in countless places in the Old and New Testaments that ritual is a part of the life of God’s People.

The problem is not ritual; the problem is ritual that is empty of any content, ritual that is “performed” for its own sake. Christ did not condemn the rituals of the synagogue and, in fact, He participated in them. What he did condemn are those who observe every point of ritual while ignoring those essential truths that the ritual is intended to express and proclaim.

http://oca.org/questions/otherconfes...rthodox-church

Question

I am trying to understand the Orthodox understanding of Catholic claims for Papal authority. How do Orthodox Christians understand Matthew 16:18-19 in reference to Isaiah 22:19-24. Catholic teaching on this is that Christ came to re-establish the Davidic Kingdom and Isaiah 22:19 shows what Christ was talking about when giving Peter the keys. David's kingdom had a position similar to the papacy with same authority. Look forward to reading the Eastern view. God bless.

ANSWER:

The Orthodox Church understands the entirety of the Church to subsist in every Eucharistic Community or what is popularly known today as the diocese.

Hence, while "the Catholic Church" for a Roman Catholic refers to the global society under the supreme authority of the Pope of Rome, "the Catholic Church" for an Orthodox Christian means the People of God who are present in the Eucharistic Community gathered aroung their bishop, presbyters and deacons, in a specific location ("the Church in Corinth, the Church in Ephesus").

This has important ramifications for how we understand the famous "Petrine texts." St. Gregory of Nyssa understands the Lord's words to St. Peter to refer to the bishop, writing that Christ “through Peter gave to the bishops the keys of the heavenly honors,” As the entirety of the Catholic Church subsists in the diocese, and the bishop is the head of the diocese, it may be said that the bishop is the Successor of Peter and and the "head" (in a relative sense) of the Catholic Church.

Very few Fathers commented on the relationship of Isaiah 22 to Matthew 16 at all. None of those few that did connected these texts in any way to the bishop of Rome. From an Orthodox perspective, the bishop is Christ's prime minister. He is the one who manifests the High Priesthood of Christ when he presides over the Eucharistic Liturgy. While the presbyters are dependent on their bishop for the Eucharist, the bishop is not dependent on his primate. Hence, there is no Eucharist higher than that of the local Church. As Orthodox Christians understand the Church to be a Eucharistic Communion, it makes perfect sense to identify the bishop as the heir to St. Peter's prime ministry, rather than the Pope of Rome uniquely.

http://www.orthodoxanswers.org/answer/1531/

More about the Orthodox Church History:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/history.aspx
http://www.antiochian.org/orthodox-church-history
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...rthodox_Church
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:16 AM   #5
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

It’s always made it hard for me to trust people and it certainly made my journey to Christianity — and then Orthodoxy — a much longer one than it might have otherwise been. But, once I reach a conclusion, I tend to have a firm conviction that I’ve arrived at the truth, if for no other reason than that I’ve exhausted every possible objection I could raise to it.

The Orthodox Church said it was the ancient Church, so I learned about the ancient Church, reading every bit of the source texts — even the Gnostics’ gibberish; the Orthodox Church said it had never changed the Faith in the last 2000 years, and everybody else has, so I read everything I could get my hands on about Church history — from every perspective possible; the Orthodox Church said it was the True Church — so I source-checked it. And, of course, you all know the conclusion I reached.

I want to share with everyone the three “methods” I used when I was “source-checking” the Church’s claims, and I hope they’ll help someone who reads this to make an informed decision, even if it’s not the one I made:

First, I started in AD 33 with Pentecost and followed the Church to today. This involved reading lots of histories and pretty much all of the early Fathers and quite a bit of the later Fathers (and even the various heretics). The question that I kept asking myself the whole way through is “who is changing? who is innovating?” The reason this is important is because any departure, however slight, from the Faith of the Apostles is a betrayal of that Faith; it’s basically saying that the Apostles had things wrong or didn’t have everything, that Christ left them incomplete. And this is obviously wrong. Scripture tells us to “cling to the Faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3) and so I knew that’s what I had to look for along the way: who is clinging, as Scripture commands us to do, and who is changing. And I followed that through to today. And I ended up in Moscow, Damascus, Alexandria, Bucharest, Sofia — in short, I ended up in the Orthodox Church.
I then did the reverse; I started with today and worked my way back. I knew it was impossible to look at each and every individual Christian group and trace each individually back, as there are several thousand. So, what I decided to do was divide them into five umbrella groups:

Orthodox Church
Roman Catholic Church
“Traditional” Protestantism (Lutherans, Anglicans, Presbyterians, etc.)
“Low-church” Protestantism (Baptists, Pentecostals, “Evangelicals,” etc.)
Restorationists (Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, etc.)

Starting with these five basic “movements” in Christianity, I traced each back to their roots from today. I found the roots of the Restorationists in the 1700′s and 1800′s, mostly in America. I found the roots of the “Low-church” Protestants in the 1600′s and 1700′s in the Anabaptist movement and, in the case of the Pentecostals, in the early 1900′s in America. I found the roots of the “Traditional” Protestants in Germany with Martin Luther, England with King Henry VIII, and Switzerland with John Calvin. The Roman Catholic Church was a little harder, as I certainly find its roots in the ancient Church, but I also saw a single Patriarch, the Pope of Rome, split from the four other Patriarchs (Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Antioch) in 1054 to go and form his own Church, the Roman Catholic Church of today. And so it was only the Orthodox I was able to trace all the way back, through time, to the first century in Palestine with the 12 holy men called Apostles.

3. And the third way I took was to take everything I had learned about what the ancient Christians believed and practiced, especially those of the first and second centuries, as they are the closest to the Apostles, and compared it with those five groups of Christians I gave above. I compared even the minutest details. I made columns in a notebook for each group and marked wherein they agreed or disagreed with the Christianity of the year 100 or so; early Christians fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays – check; early Christians believed in the Real Presence – check; early Christians Baptized via triple immersion – check; early Christians used incense in worship – check. And, when I had finished, I found only one “group” whose column was filled top to bottom with my little checks — the Orthodox Church.

So that’s a little bit about how I reached my conclusions. It’s not the full story by any means — as I said, I’ll share that when I have the time to tell it. Of course, there was a lot more prayer and tears involved than the dry mathematical equations I give above — not enough, but there was quite a bit of it. I don’t know if I’d recommend my methods to others — many people would probably get tired after a while; it’s a long, often mind-boggling process, and I’m sure many would find it a little too calculated for religious matters. I understand the objections to my methods, but that’s how I did it — and I’m certain that anyone who does the same will reach the exact same conclusion as I did.

http://preachersinstitute.com/2013/0...stolic-church/

and

http://www.piousfabrications.com/200...how-i-can.html
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Old 04-14-2014, 03:32 AM   #6
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NeitherFirstnorLast View Post
InChristAlone, I felt I had to address this statement of yours:

I want to address this quote of yours, with this one from "Got Questions?.org" My own input I have put in umber.


I will leave a few links about the Orthodox Church teachings since a brother had some questions. And I believe we can stop this discussion here. It needs a new thread (which I don't have time to continue).

Some straight answers about the Orthodox Church:

Question: Why haven't I heard of the Orthodox Church before?

Answer: Beats me! It's been around since the day of Pentecost. You probably haven't heard about it because we are a conservative Church that sounds no trumpets in our social programs but rather attempts to lead individuals, each in his or her own circumstances, into communion with God, the very purpose for which the Church exists. Believe it or not, there are perhaps three million of us in North America, and at least 150 million throughout the world.

Question: Are you like the Catholics or the Protestants?

Answer: Well, the Orthodox Church is "catholic" in the fullest meaning of the word: "whole and not confined." But some 500 years before the reformation split western Europe into Protestant and Roman Catholic, Orthodox Christians protested against the Pope of Rome and his attempts to become supreme over the Church in the 11th century, as well as some doctrinal innovations. The Orthodox Church remains unchanged in doctrine and faith since the early Church of the Apostles (yes, we've been around that long.)

Question: That's a pretty bold claim, isn't it?

Answer: It is a bold statement, but when you consider that Jesus Christ promised that he would found His Church and that it would endure unchanged in faith and practice, the gates of hell not prevailing until he came again, it's altogether refreshing (and confirms one's faith!)

Question: Do you believe in the Bible?

No. We believe in God! We do, however, believe the Bible to be God's inspired word a part of the Tradition of the Church. (II Thessalonians, 2:15) In fact, it was the Church which gave us the Bible as we know it today! (You didn't think it just fell from heaven as we have it, did you?)

Question: I thought you had to be Greek or Russian to be Orthodox?

Answer: Come on, did you really believe that? the Orthodox Church is not a country club! The Kingdom of Heaven is "equal opportunity". You are welcome regardless of where your ancestors came from. You are also welcome to bring with you your national customs and culture. Just keep the Gospel of Jesus Christ first and foremost. The Orthodox Church adopts the culture and language of the country she finds herself in.

Question: All right, now on to your worship. I was told that the Orthodox worship pictures. Isn't that against the Commandments?

Answer: Sorry, you were told wrong! The Holy Icons ("pictures") are honored as reminders of the Glory and Presence of God, and venerated as such. ONLY God, the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are due worship. (How can the Church practice that is so contrary to God's Law?) That is one reason you will find no statues in Orthodox temples - their inclusion in our tradition never developed as that too closely resembled the pagan piety of the early days of our Church, during the time of the Apostles. But icons, rather than attempting to depict reality, point to the Kingdom of God. They are often referred to as "picture windows to Heaven". In other words, you will not only hear the Gospel in an Orthodox Church, you will see it! The icons act as "tools" in our spiritual worship and witness to the sanctification of all creation and matter that occurred when Christ Jesus, the Son of God, took on human flesh. The Divine/Human Person of Jesus became the living icon of God (John 10:30; 14:6-11) in the flesh.

Other questions and answers:

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/questions.html
http://orthodoxdelmarva.org/faq.html
http://www.holytrinityorthodox.org/a...iest/index.htm
http://www.stkatherineorthodoxchurch...d-answers.html
http://stgeorgepa.net/about/what-is-...s-and-answers/

Teachings of the Orthodox Church

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7062

Church History

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/history

Why does Orthodox Christianity honor and bless the Virgin Mary?

When turning to the Holy Scriptures to hear what God says about Mary, the key passage is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. (1:26-49) The archangel Gabriel calls the Virgin Mary “highly favored” with God and the most “blessed” of all women (1:28). The Church can never do less. In Luke 1:42-43, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, also calls Mary “blessed,” and “the mother of my Lord.” Should we not make the same confession? For centuries the Church with one voice has called Mary the mother of God. If God was not in her womb, then we are dead in our sins. By calling her the “mother of God” we do not mean, of course, that she is mother of the Holy Trinity. She is mother of the eternal Son of God in his humanity. Thus we call her “Theotokos” or God-bearer.

Furthermore, not only does Elizabeth call her blessed, by Mary herself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “All generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). This biblical prophecy explains the Orthodox hymn, “It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, the Mother of our God.” (called the megalynarion) One cannot believe one part of Scripture and reject other parts. One cannot believe the Bible and ignore Mary.

Orthodox Christians bless her in obedience to God, fulfilling these holy words. We do not worship Mary. Worship is reserved for the Trinity alone. We honor and venerate her, as the Scriptures teach.

It is important to secure Mary’s identity as Theotokos in order to protect the identity of her Son, “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32), God in the flesh. Jesus assumed his human flesh from her! Mary’s role is essential in understanding that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

Do Orthodox icons border on idolatry?

In Orthodox Christianity, icons are never worshipped, but they are honored and venerated. Worship is reserved for God alone. The second Commandment says, “you shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness or anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:4-5). The warnings here are, first, that we are not to depict images of things which are limited to heaven and therefore unseen, and second, we never bow down to or worship created, earthly things. Does this condemn all imagery in worship? The Scriptures tell us emphatically no!

Just five chapters after the giving of the Ten Commandments, God, as recorded in Exodus 25, gives his divine blueprint, if you will, for the tabernacle. Specifically in verses 19 and 20 he commands images of cherubim to be placed above the mercy seat. Also, God promises to meet and speak with us through this imagery! (Ex.25:22)

In Exodus 26:1, Israel was commanded in no uncertain terms to weave “artistic designs of cherubim” into the tabernacle curtains. Are these images? Absolutely! In fact they could well be called Old Testament icons. And they are images which God commanded to be made.

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Orthodox iconography never creates images of God the Father. If no one has seen God, then how can he be portrayed? To do so would border on idolatry. For, “no one has ever see God…” (Jn.1:18; cf Ex.33:20). Similarly, the Holy Spirit is never represented except as a dove, which we receive in the Baptismal accounts from Scripture.

The question, however, remains of what to do with the second person of the Trinity, the Son of God. Can he be depicted in holy icons? Realizing that because no one has seen God the Father and does not know what he “looks like,” he cannot be portrayed. However, the Son of God became a human being and can therefore be depicted in holy images since we know what humanity looks like. To deny the embodiment of Christ in image is tantamount to the refutation of the Incarnation (the Son of God becoming human). Simply put, because God became man, we are able to portray images of him for veneration. One will notice that no icon of Christ is a portrait trying to capture the subtleties of what the Lord looked like, but rather a symbolic representation of the Lord to teach us that in truth, God did “empty himself and take on the form of a servant for our salvation” (Phil.2:7).

Analogous to this is the representation in sacred icons of the saints. These men and women were faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ until their last breath and remain for us as examples of the Christian ideal. Their images offer us encouragement and renewed hope that to walk in the newness of life is possible! Again, no icons –or the saints themselves, for that matter—are ever worshipped. God alone is worthy to be praised. But we venerate their images and ask for their intercessory prayers that God might have mercy on our souls!

http://stgeorgepa.net/about/what-is-...s-and-answers/

Thank you brothers for bearing with me. Blessings, InChristAlone
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

ICA,

So should those leaving the local church join the Orthodox church?
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:39 AM   #8
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

Take a couple of days off and you never know what will happen.

I read through (well, read and scanned) the bit on the Orthodox Church. This one comment was, to me, a little funny:
Quote:
The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture (you need the interpreted Word!)
Why funny? Because we all read the interpreted word! No exceptions.

When you read it, it has meaning because you apply meaning to it. Certain things stand out more to you than to others.
  • The instructive aspects of the context are considered stronger or weaker by different people.
  • The fact that you heard it used in a sermon without any context colors how you read it now when you claim to just "come to the pure word of God."

At our best we read through a lens that is not pure, clear, unadulterated glass.
  • Our glass amplifies certain things and minimizes others.
  • It has areas of color that enhance or dim the view of certain things.
  • It might be likened to a carnival funhouse.
Example. 1 Cor 15:45. "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." When we talk about this verse, many are aware, or at least become aware that it is in the middle of a discussion that has nothing to do with the Trinity. And nothing to do with The Spirit. Yet when we start talking generically about the Trinity and the One v Three side of things, some of those same people point back here are justification for arguing toward the One side. Did they forget? Probably. It is part of the lens we were given by Lee many years ago. Even after getting free of the garlic, our noses are still accustomed to it and even pine for the leeks and garlic of Egypt.

And even when we think we have gotten past those lenses, we discover that we have other lenses. Just because i talk about these lenses does not make me free of them. My only hope is to speak from my best effort at avoiding my own lenses and be open to hear from others as they do the same. We may all discover something that seems new to us, but not really new. Just blocked by our lens.

But with rare exception can we claim to be avoiding the interpreted word. The real question is how narrow and confined is the interpreter that we are accepting. Are we relying on a single interpreter? Nee and Lee made claims about those on whose shoulders they stood. But several of those were questionable sources themselves. And are the others truly saying what Nee and Lee claim they are? Or are their words being reinterpreted and altered?

If I am right, it might seem to paint a dire picture for us as Christians. But I believe that it is the rejection of simply accepting the lens of choice and instead being willing to collectively search through our altered views that provides the clarity we need.
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Old 04-14-2014, 08:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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Take a couple of days off and you never know what will happen.

I read through (well, read and scanned) the bit on the Orthodox Church. This one comment was, to me, a little funny:
Why funny? Because we all read the interpreted word! No exceptions.

When you read it, it has meaning because you apply meaning to it. Certain things stand out more to you than to others.
  • The instructive aspects of the context are considered stronger or weaker by different people.
  • The fact that you heard it used in a sermon without any context colors how you read it now when you claim to just "come to the pure word of God."

At our best we read through a lens that is not pure, clear, unadulterated glass.
  • Our glass amplifies certain things and minimizes others.
  • It has areas of color that enhance or dim the view of certain things.
  • It might be likened to a carnival funhouse.
Example. 1 Cor 15:45. "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit." When we talk about this verse, many are aware, or at least become aware that it is in the middle of a discussion that has nothing to do with the Trinity. And nothing to do with The Spirit. Yet when we start talking generically about the Trinity and the One v Three side of things, some of those same people point back here are justification for arguing toward the One side. Did they forget? Probably. It is part of the lens we were given by Lee many years ago. Even after getting free of the garlic, our noses are still accustomed to it and even pine for the leeks and garlic of Egypt.

And even when we think we have gotten past those lenses, we discover that we have other lenses. Just because i talk about these lenses does not make me free of them. My only hope is to speak from my best effort at avoiding my own lenses and be open to hear from others as they do the same. We may all discover something that seems new to us, but not really new. Just blocked by our lens.

But with rare exception can we claim to be avoiding the interpreted word. The real question is how narrow and confined is the interpreter that we are accepting. Are we relying on a single interpreter? Nee and Lee made claims about those on whose shoulders they stood. But several of those were questionable sources themselves. And are the others truly saying what Nee and Lee claim they are? Or are their words being reinterpreted and altered?

If I am right, it might seem to paint a dire picture for us as Christians. But I believe that it is the rejection of simply accepting the lens of choice and instead being willing to collectively search through our altered views that provides the clarity we need.
I really appreciate these comments Mike as it reminded me of an incident when I was a teenager and lost my eyesight due to a welding accident and the recovery was a slow,painful process until my vision was restored.
Please pass the eyesalve....Rev. 3:18
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:43 AM   #10
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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"You need the interpreted word"
(That's funny) Why funny? Because we all read the interpreted word! No exceptions.
Mike, on this I will agree that we all read the Word with some interpretation - HOWEVER: The point I was making was that the Orthodox church frowns upon the personal ownership of Bibles, because (I understand) their belief is that only a member of their Clergy has the authority to interpret the Word. That's VERY different from what you're talking about.

If John MacArthur (just to pick a famous evangelical) were to come out and say "You people don't need Bibles. Throw them away. Buy my commentaries. You need the Word interpreted by me." You would (I should hope) recognize this as a damnable heresy. MacArthur (or any other teacher) might have some very good insight into what Scripture is saying, but anyone who claims to have all the answers to every mystery in Scripture is essentially claiming infallibility. Of course, anyone who calls themselves a "First amongst Equals" might indeed believe that is the case.
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Old 04-14-2014, 10:47 AM   #11
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"A very famous American" used to be one of my favorite authors when I was a teenager. BTW, some of his writings suggest that he was an atheist.

It ain't the parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.
(From "The Wit and Wisdom, of Mark Twain" edited by Alex Ayres / 1987)

Faith is believing something you know ain't true.
(Following the Equator / 1897)

In God We Trust.' I don't believe it would sound any better if it were true.

"There is no other life; life itself is only a vision and a dream for nothing exists but space and you. If there was an all-powerful God, he would have made all good, and no bad." Mark Twain in Eruption

"[The Bible] has noble poetry in it... and some good morals and a wealth of obscenity, and upwards of a thousand lies."

"[The Bible is] a mass of fables and traditions, mere mythology." Mark Twain and the Bible

One of the proofs of the immortality of the soul is that myriads have believed in it. They have also believed the world was flat.
(Notebook)

I believe Mark Twain answered his own question. Like question... like answer.

??? Sorry ICA, I don't understand how "Mark Twain answered his own question"?

He may have asked a question as an atheist, but are you saying that atheists can't ask questions that require a theological response? Would that suggest that if an atheist asked you who Jesus Christ was, you could just blow him off because he's an atheist?
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:45 PM   #12
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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Why does Orthodox Christianity honor and bless the Virgin Mary?

When turning to the Holy Scriptures to hear what God says about Mary, the key passage is from the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. (1:26-49) The archangel Gabriel calls the Virgin Mary “highly favored” with God and the most “blessed” of all women (1:28). The Church can never do less. In Luke 1:42-43, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, also calls Mary “blessed,” and “the mother of my Lord.” Should we not make the same confession? If God was not in her womb, then we are dead in our sins. By calling her the “mother of God” we do not mean, of course, that she is mother of the Holy Trinity. She is mother of the eternal Son of God in his humanity. Thus we call her “Theotokos” or God-bearer.

Furthermore, not only does Elizabeth call her blessed, by Mary herself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says, “All generations shall call me blessed” (Luke 1:48). This biblical prophecy explains the Orthodox hymn, “It is truly right to bless you, O Theotokos, the Mother of our God.” (called the megalynarion) One cannot believe one part of Scripture and reject other parts. One cannot believe the Bible and ignore Mary.

Orthodox Christians bless her in obedience to God, fulfilling these holy words. We do not worship Mary. Worship is reserved for the Trinity alone. We honor and venerate her, as the Scriptures teach.

It is important to secure Mary’s identity as Theotokos in order to protect the identity of her Son, “the Son of the Highest” (Luke 1:32), God in the flesh. Jesus assumed his human flesh from her! Mary’s role is essential in understanding that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

Do Orthodox icons border on idolatry?

In Orthodox Christianity, icons are never worshipped, but they are honored and venerated. Worship is reserved for God alone. The second Commandment says, “you shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness or anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:4-5). The warnings here are, first, that we are not to depict images of things which are limited to heaven and therefore unseen, and second, we never bow down to or worship created, earthly things. Does this condemn all imagery in worship? The Scriptures tell us emphatically no!

Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, Orthodox iconography never creates images of God the Father. If no one has seen God, then how can he be portrayed? To do so would border on idolatry. For, “no one has ever see God…” (Jn.1:18; cf Ex.33:20). Similarly, the Holy Spirit is never represented except as a dove, which we receive in the Baptismal accounts from Scripture.

Analogous to this is the representation in sacred icons of the saints. These men and women were faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ until their last breath and remain for us as examples of the Christian ideal. Their images offer us encouragement and renewed hope that to walk in the newness of life is possible! Again, no icons –or the saints themselves, for that matter—are ever worshipped. God alone is worthy to be praised. But we venerate their images and ask for their intercessory prayers that God might have mercy on our souls!
Sorry, but I'm not buying these two points. Admittedly I am not as familiar with the Orthodox, as I am with the Roman Catholics, where I grew up and was steeped with for my first 20 years.

(1) Mary is NOT the Mother of God. The Bible never says it, nor is it true, not even in the least. I don't care if "for centuries the Church with one voice has called Mary the mother of God," as you say. Actually the early church NEVER called Mary the Mother of God. It was the church of the dark ages that elevated Mary to this dreadful position.

(2) There is little, if any, difference between Idols, Icons, and Images. The minute nuances have little bearing upon the members of their respective churches. Your repeated statement, "icons are never worshiped, but they are honored and venerated. Worship is reserved for God alone," has little meaning to all the children that grow up in that system. I also grew up in Romanism repeatedly hearing that all our statues, paintings, and pictures are NOT idols, but images. All the semantics in the world cannot undo the reality.

InChristAlone, I also have pamphlets from the Catholic church which I could post which describe their official positions. Much of my extended family still abides there. Regardless of what "spin" they are told, the facts are the facts. Icons and images are both venerated idols, and are forbidden by the 2nd commandment, and Mary is NOT the Mother of God. The Only Begotten Eternal Son of the Father HAS NO MOTHER. Millions and millions of genuine Christians have actually believed the Bible and have totally ignored Mary.
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Old 04-14-2014, 01:57 PM   #13
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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I really appreciate these comments Mike as it reminded me of an incident when I was a teenager and lost my eyesight due to a welding accident and the recovery was a slow, painful process until my vision was restored.
Please pass the eyesalve....Rev. 3:18
Glad to hear that your blindness was not permanent!
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Old 04-14-2014, 02:37 PM   #14
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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Mike, on this I will agree that we all read the Word with some interpretation - HOWEVER: The point I was making was that the Orthodox church frowns upon the personal ownership of Bibles, because (I understand) their belief is that only a member of their Clergy has the authority to interpret the Word. That's VERY different from what you're talking about.
Oh, I understand the point quite well. And it is well made.

And at some level, we always are accepting someone's interpretation, even when we try to avoid it. We are influenced by certain people more than others. We tend to flock with our own "birds."

But when we completely relinquish the right to even question how they came to a particular conclusion, or to even question the validity of assumptions used in getting there, then we have a problem.

And Houston, we have a problem. Some groups more than others.

And on the other hand, you should hear some of the things my son told me he heard in seminary. These are all honorable men and women who diligently teach theology to the students. And all are proponents of people having and using the Bible. But they also will admit that one of the most troublesome problems today is the Bible being generally available to everybody. The number of ways we can go wrong reading it is exponentially multiplied since the printing press and broader literacy.

So, at some level, ceding some of our autonomy to those who truly study and labor in the word is probably a good thing. And it is no small thing to try to discern what kinds of people is it reasonable to cede it to. But unless we are going to become full-time Bible scholars on our own, we need teachers that we can trust.

But what I suggest is reasonable and even consistent with the notion of there being teachers of the Word, I agree that having a population that is completely relying on you for any knowledge is a scary thing. And there was t time when much of the population had no choice in the matter. But we do have a choice. And we should choose to be active participants in the process, not just dormant followers.
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Old 04-14-2014, 02:49 PM   #15
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Default Re: Outer darkness: A thousand years? or for eternity?

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Mike, on this I will agree that we all read the Word with some interpretation - HOWEVER: The point I was making was that the Orthodox church frowns upon the personal ownership of Bibles, because (I understand) their belief is that only a member of their Clergy has the authority to interpret the Word. That's VERY different from what you're talking about.
Very similar to the Catholic church.

I remember parochial school, where they put the fear of God in us little kids lest we mistakenly interpret God's word.
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Old 04-14-2014, 06:26 PM   #16
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ICA, how invested are you in the Eastern Orthodox church?
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Old 04-15-2014, 12:56 AM   #17
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ICA,

So should those leaving the local church join the Orthodox church?
I am sorry, brother, but the Orthodox church is not a sect or a cult.

If you found Christ in your church, then you don't need to look for Him somewhere else.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:07 AM   #18
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ICA, how invested are you in the Eastern Orthodox church?
I have a very poor Orthodox church background. I believe the last time I attended the church was about 8 or even 10 years ago. So I am a failure of an Orthodox Christian. I have been attending the LRC since my marriage, thought I have never been baptized there. But now I feel a strong call to get back Home. I've found Christ in the Orthodox Church as well as some Protestant churches, but I have never seen Him in the Lord's Recovery.
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:27 AM   #19
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Sorry, but I'm not buying these two points.
(1) Mary is NOT the Mother of God.

(2) There is little, if any, difference between Idols, Icons, and Images.

InChristAlone, I also have pamphlets from the Catholic church which I could post which describe their official positions. Much of my extended family still abides there. Regardless of what "spin" they are told, the facts are the facts. Icons and images are both venerated idols, and are forbidden by the 2nd commandment, and Mary is NOT the Mother of God. The Only Begotten Eternal Son of the Father HAS NO MOTHER. Millions and millions of genuine Christians have actually believed the Bible and have totally ignored Mary.
Ohio, I will start from #2. Icons can turn into idols if one forgets what they are really for. Like any other things that we start to worship.

#1 I don't think you will buy it. But I will reply to you by an article from a Catholic website. Though personally, I don't see a strong logic in your argument. If Mary was not the Mother of Jesus, then how was He born? Who gave Him birth? We know that God is His Father. Then who is that woman who were the physical mother of Jesus? He had to have an earthly mother (not Divine), hadn't He?

---


Though we don’t have the words “Mother of God” as such in Scripture, we do have something very close in Luke 1:43, when Mary’s cousin (or relative) Elizabeth greets Mary shortly after she has conceived our Lord:

And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Mother of the Lord means Mother of God, right? Isn’t Jesus our Lord and God?

"Not so fast," so often says my Protestant interlocutor. "The Greek word kurios or 'lord' can indeed be used to denote divinity but not necessarily so. It can be used to denote an earthly potentate or even false 'lords' or gods" (see Matt. 20:8; 21:40; I Cor. 8:5-6, etc.). And this is true.

The key to our discussion then is to ascertain how kurios is being used of Christ in Luke 1:43. Was it being used to describe Jesus with regard to his humanity alone, or with regard to his divinity?

Old Testament Type

First, when Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry… why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:42-43), Mary was revealed to be the New Testament Ark of the Lord. Elizabeth’s words make this clear as they hearken back to a text from II Samuel 6:9 wherein David exclaims concerning the Old Covenant “ark of the Lord:”

And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"

If this one parallel leaves you unconvinced, there are more that may tip the scale for you. St. John the Baptist “leaped for joy” at the salutation of Mary (Luke 1:44), just as King David “danced before the Lord” in the ark of the Lord in II Samuel 6:14. Moreover, Mary “remained with [Elizabeth] for three months (Luke 1:56),” just as “the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months” in II Sam. 6:11.

Good enough for me.

The question is: Was the ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament the ark of an “earthly potentate,” or was it the ark of almighty God? The answer is obvious. If this is true, then the more glorious New Covenant Ark of the Covenant could never be said to be inferior to its antecedent. New Covenant fulfillments are always more glorious than their Old Covenant types (see Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:6). Thus, the New Covenant “Ark of the Lord” could not be an ark of an earthly potentate, or a mere man. Given the revelation we have received from God, it—or she—is the Ark of Almighty God.

To Whom Did Mary Give Birth?

The second and most important reason we know Luke 1:43 is referring to Mary as the Mother of God is summed up nicely in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 495:

Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).

Mary is the Mother of God precisely because Jesus Christ, her Son, is God. And when Mary gave birth, she did not give birth to a nature, or even two natures; she gave birth to one, divine person. To deny this essential truth of the faith, as the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) declared in its first of many “anathemas” of St. Cyril which would be accepted by the Council, is heresy:

If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema.

The real problem with denying Mary to be Mother of God and affirming her to be merely the mother of the man Christ Jesus is in doing so one invariably either denies the divinity of Christ (as the 4th century Arians did), or one creates two persons with regard to Jesus Christ (as the 5th century Nestorians did). Either error results in heresy. The Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381) dealt decisively with the Arian heresy. The Council of Ephesus (AD 431), as mentioned above, dealt with this latter heresy as it was being taught by the followers of Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. Rather than teaching the truth that Christ is one divine person with two natures—one human, and one divine—hypostatically unified, or joined together without admixture in the one divine person of Christ, they were teaching Christ to be two persons with a mere moral union. The Council fathers understood this could never be affirmed by Christians. The Bible declares to us: “… in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And, “… in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Colossians 1:16) No where do we read in them…

A Catholic Quadrinity?

Another common objection to Mary, Mother of God, goes something like this: “If God is Trinity, and Mary is the Mother of God, would that not mean Mary is the Mother of the Trinity?”

Actually, it does not.

Paragraph 495 of the Catechism, quoted above, was very clear that Mary is the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity because neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit were incarnate.

Simple enough.

But I am going to suggest the problem here to be deeper than just a confusion of persons within the Godhead. In my experience, this simple explanation almost invariably leads to another question that reveals the real problem in the mind of many Fundamentalists: “Even if Mary is only the Mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, he is just as eternal as the other two divine persons are. Thus, in order to be his mother, Mary would still have to be equally as eternal.” The root of the Quadrinity problem is really a false understanding of what is meant by Mary’s true motherhood and perhaps a false understanding of what is meant by motherhood in general.

By saying Mary is the Mother of God, the Catholic Church is not saying that Mary is the source of the divine nature among the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, nor is she the source of the divine nature of the second person of the Blessed Trinity. She doesn’t have to be in order to be the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity incarnate.

Perhaps an analogy using normal human reproduction will help clarify the Catholic and biblical position. My wife is the mother of my son, Timmy (and four other little human tornadoes). But this in no way implies that she is the source of Timmy’s immortal soul. God directly and immediately created his soul as he does with every human being (see Eccl. 12:7). However, we do not conclude from this that my wife, Valerie, is merely “the mother of Timmy’s body.” She is Timmy’s mother… period. This is so because she did not give birth to a body. She gave birth to a human person who is a body/soul composite… Timmy.

Analogously, though Mary did not provide Jesus with either his divine nature or his immortal human soul, she is still his mother because she did not give birth to a body, a soul, a nature, or even two natures—she gave birth to a person. And that one person is God. The conclusion to the whole matter is inescapable: If Jesus Christ is one, eternal and unchangeable divine person—God—and Mary is his mother—then Mary is the Mother of that one, eternal and unchangeable person—God.

http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-sta...-mother-of-god
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:43 AM   #20
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??? Sorry ICA, I don't understand how "Mark Twain answered his own question"?

He may have asked a question as an atheist, but are you saying that atheists can't ask questions that require a theological response? Would that suggest that if an atheist asked you who Jesus Christ was, you could just blow him off because he's an atheist?
Since we are talking about Mark Twain, his question, and his own answer, I am saying that there is a kind of questions where inquirer is not looking for reply, because he thinks he already knows the answer.

I'd not blow off an atheist because he's an atheist. But I can blow off a certain question because there are no right answers to wrong questions. (Though, of course, my judgment may be wrong).
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Old 04-15-2014, 01:59 AM   #21
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Mike, on this I will agree that we all read the Word with some interpretation - HOWEVER: The point I was making was that the Orthodox church frowns upon the personal ownership of Bibles, because (I understand) their belief is that only a member of their Clergy has the authority to interpret the Word.
I don't know who told you so. I just hope it was not your personal experience. But I will share mine: as an Orthodox Christian, I easily bought a Bible in an Orthodox church when I was a schoolboy. BTW, it had no footnotes. I don't know much about Orthodox churches in other countries, but usually the Holy Bible in my native language never has any footnotes. (And the Orthodox Church is the largest church in my home country). It's the same about Orthodox websites where one can read the Holy Bible. There are no footnotes there or any other hints at a special interpretation. NB I am telling from my own personal experience, at first hand, not because I read it somewhere or because someone told me about that.

If one wants to read footnotes, he or she can read a book or a special webpage where he or she can find a few different interpretations. But yes, they don't really contradict, but complement each other.

It's not that the Church doesn't want you to interpret the Bible on your own. The Church doesn't want you to be deceived and follow false teachers like Nee and Lee, repeating their errors.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:34 AM   #22
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Ohio, I will start from #2. Icons can turn into idols if one forgets what they are really for. Like any other things that we start to worship.

#1 I don't think you will buy it. But I will reply to you by an article from a Catholic website. Though personally, I don't see a strong logic in your argument. If Mary was not the Mother of Jesus, then how was He born? Who gave Him birth? We know that God is His Father. Then who is that woman who were the physical mother of Jesus? He had to have an earthly mother (not Divine), hadn't He?

---


Though we don’t have the words “Mother of God” as such in Scripture, we do have something very close in Luke 1:43, when Mary’s cousin (or relative) Elizabeth greets Mary shortly after she has conceived our Lord:

And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?

Mother of the Lord means Mother of God, right? Isn’t Jesus our Lord and God?

"Not so fast," so often says my Protestant interlocutor. "The Greek word kurios or 'lord' can indeed be used to denote divinity but not necessarily so. It can be used to denote an earthly potentate or even false 'lords' or gods" (see Matt. 20:8; 21:40; I Cor. 8:5-6, etc.). And this is true.

The key to our discussion then is to ascertain how kurios is being used of Christ in Luke 1:43. Was it being used to describe Jesus with regard to his humanity alone, or with regard to his divinity?

Old Testament Type

First, when Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry… why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:42-43), Mary was revealed to be the New Testament Ark of the Lord. Elizabeth’s words make this clear as they hearken back to a text from II Samuel 6:9 wherein David exclaims concerning the Old Covenant “ark of the Lord:”

And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?"

If this one parallel leaves you unconvinced, there are more that may tip the scale for you. St. John the Baptist “leaped for joy” at the salutation of Mary (Luke 1:44), just as King David “danced before the Lord” in the ark of the Lord in II Samuel 6:14. Moreover, Mary “remained with [Elizabeth] for three months (Luke 1:56),” just as “the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obededom the Gittite for three months” in II Sam. 6:11.

Good enough for me.

The question is: Was the ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament the ark of an “earthly potentate,” or was it the ark of almighty God? The answer is obvious. If this is true, then the more glorious New Covenant Ark of the Covenant could never be said to be inferior to its antecedent. New Covenant fulfillments are always more glorious than their Old Covenant types (see Heb. 10:1; Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:6). Thus, the New Covenant “Ark of the Lord” could not be an ark of an earthly potentate, or a mere man. Given the revelation we have received from God, it—or she—is the Ark of Almighty God.

To Whom Did Mary Give Birth?

The second and most important reason we know Luke 1:43 is referring to Mary as the Mother of God is summed up nicely in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 495:

Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).

Mary is the Mother of God precisely because Jesus Christ, her Son, is God. And when Mary gave birth, she did not give birth to a nature, or even two natures; she gave birth to one, divine person. To deny this essential truth of the faith, as the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) declared in its first of many “anathemas” of St. Cyril which would be accepted by the Council, is heresy:

If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema.

The real problem with denying Mary to be Mother of God and affirming her to be merely the mother of the man Christ Jesus is in doing so one invariably either denies the divinity of Christ (as the 4th century Arians did), or one creates two persons with regard to Jesus Christ (as the 5th century Nestorians did). Either error results in heresy. The Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381) dealt decisively with the Arian heresy. The Council of Ephesus (AD 431), as mentioned above, dealt with this latter heresy as it was being taught by the followers of Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. Rather than teaching the truth that Christ is one divine person with two natures—one human, and one divine—hypostatically unified, or joined together without admixture in the one divine person of Christ, they were teaching Christ to be two persons with a mere moral union. The Council fathers understood this could never be affirmed by Christians. The Bible declares to us: “… in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And, “… in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Colossians 1:16) No where do we read in them…

A Catholic Quadrinity?

Another common objection to Mary, Mother of God, goes something like this: “If God is Trinity, and Mary is the Mother of God, would that not mean Mary is the Mother of the Trinity?”

Actually, it does not.

Paragraph 495 of the Catechism, quoted above, was very clear that Mary is the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity because neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit were incarnate.

Simple enough.

But I am going to suggest the problem here to be deeper than just a confusion of persons within the Godhead. In my experience, this simple explanation almost invariably leads to another question that reveals the real problem in the mind of many Fundamentalists: “Even if Mary is only the Mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, he is just as eternal as the other two divine persons are. Thus, in order to be his mother, Mary would still have to be equally as eternal.” The root of the Quadrinity problem is really a false understanding of what is meant by Mary’s true motherhood and perhaps a false understanding of what is meant by motherhood in general.

By saying Mary is the Mother of God, the Catholic Church is not saying that Mary is the source of the divine nature among the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, nor is she the source of the divine nature of the second person of the Blessed Trinity. She doesn’t have to be in order to be the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity incarnate.

Perhaps an analogy using normal human reproduction will help clarify the Catholic and biblical position. My wife is the mother of my son, Timmy (and four other little human tornadoes). But this in no way implies that she is the source of Timmy’s immortal soul. God directly and immediately created his soul as he does with every human being (see Eccl. 12:7). However, we do not conclude from this that my wife, Valerie, is merely “the mother of Timmy’s body.” She is Timmy’s mother… period. This is so because she did not give birth to a body. She gave birth to a human person who is a body/soul composite… Timmy.

Analogously, though Mary did not provide Jesus with either his divine nature or his immortal human soul, she is still his mother because she did not give birth to a body, a soul, a nature, or even two natures—she gave birth to a person. And that one person is God. The conclusion to the whole matter is inescapable: If Jesus Christ is one, eternal and unchangeable divine person—God—and Mary is his mother—then Mary is the Mother of that one, eternal and unchangeable person—God.

http://www.catholic.com/blog/tim-sta...-mother-of-god
Once again, it is difficult to respond in detail to your very long posts, and I never really know which part you wrote and which is quoted. In summary, I agree with all the scripture here, but not the conclusion drawn which would make Mary the so-called "mother" of God.

We should limit our theology here to what the bible says, because often what the bible does not say is equally important. To infer from the virgin birth that God now has a mother is a heresy which has gripped the Catholic Church since shortly after Constantine. The early church had no special place for Mary, rather legends and superstitions grew out of this heresy, which were perhaps the single most destructive force to drive mankind into the dark ages.

Untold stories of faithful martyrs can be reduced to this papal demand, "do you worship Mary, the Mother of God?" Life and death hinged on this question. These faithful believers were willing to die for the truth, and the truth only, and for them there was no mother of God.

Let's look at the errant logic which surrounds your final argument concerning Timmy and his dear mother Valerie. The hypothical question is implied, "is Valerie the mother of Timothy, or is she the mother of Timothy's body? The real answer is both, she is his mother, AND she is the mother of his body. Likewise Jesus had a real mother on earth, and the Virgin Mary was the mother of His human body.

Today, the glorified Christ has no mother, much to the dismay of many in church history. The blessed virgin and her husband Joe went on to have four more sons, and at least two daughters. Mary was never sinless as was supposed. The Assumption of Mary is a major farce, as is her throne in the heavens. Neither is Mary our mediator as if we should pray to the one "sitting next to God" in heaven.
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Old 04-15-2014, 02:38 AM   #23
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Dear brothers in Christ, I thank you and give thanks to God for your fellowship. If you speak on your own, then may Christ's love, peace, and blessings be upon you. If it's the Lord who speaks through you to me, then may His mercy be upon me so that I can see, comprehend, and make His word and truth my life.

From now on I stop my participation in the discussion about the Orthodox Church. It's been very fruitful to me. But I don't really have time. Besides, with my copy and paste approach, I'm not qualified for the discussion. You know and understand the Holy Bible much better than I do. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Blessings,
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Old 04-15-2014, 07:19 AM   #24
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I don't know who told you so. I just hope it was not your personal experience. But I will share mine: as an Orthodox Christian, I easily bought a Bible in an Orthodox church when I was a schoolboy. BTW, it had no footnotes. I don't know much about Orthodox churches in other countries, but usually the Holy Bible in my native language never has any footnotes. (And the Orthodox Church is the largest church in my home country). It's the same about Orthodox websites where one can read the Holy Bible. There are no footnotes there or any other hints at a special interpretation. NB I am telling from my own personal experience, at first hand, not because I read it somewhere or because someone told me about that.

If one wants to read footnotes, he or she can read a book or a special webpage where he or she can find a few different interpretations. But yes, they don't really contradict, but complement each other.

It's not that the Church doesn't want you to interpret the Bible on your own. The Church doesn't want you to be deceived and follow false teachers like Nee and Lee, repeating their errors.
ICA I grew up in the Southern Baptist church. I grew up and left it, then went into the LRC.

But after the LRC I couldn't go back to the SBC. It seemed I would be going backwards. And I couldn't fit into the box again.
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Old 04-16-2014, 05:07 AM   #25
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Sorry, I promised not to take part in the discussion, but I want to come back to reply bro Awareness and also leave a couple of lines as PS.

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ICA I grew up in the Southern Baptist church. I grew up and left it, then went into the LRC.

But after the LRC I couldn't go back to the SBC. It seemed I would be going backwards. And I couldn't fit into the box again.
Brother Awareness, for me, the Orthodox church has never been a box or a cell but a Universe. Though, for someone else, it may seem to be another box. Anyway, it’s not about finding the "best" or the "right" church. It’s about finding the Lord. One can spend his whole life in the “right” church and never meet Him. Someone else can never read the Bible, then open it accidentally, start reading, and meet Christ. We all depend on God's mercy and grace. But He can enter our hearts only if we leave them open for Him.

Brother Aron mentioned Nikolai Berdyaev in one of the threads.

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I was reading an essay from Nicolai Berdyaev, a Russian Christian intellectual (1874-1948). He was discussing the concept of "orthodoxy", not in the organizational, Greek/Syrian/Russian Orthodox way as much as in the "orthodox" tradition of following those who came before you, i.e. following the Christ.

Here is a quote I wanted to share.

Orthodoxy is first of all, an orthodoxy of life and not an orthodoxy of indoctrination. For it, heretics are not so much those who confess a false doctrine but those who have a false spiritual life and go along a false spiritual path. Orthodoxy is before all else, not a doctrine, not an external organization, not an external norm of behavior but a spiritual life, a spiritual experience and a spiritual path. It sees the substance of Christianity in internal spiritual activity. Orthodoxy is less the normative form of Christianity (in the sense of a normative-rational logic and moral law) but is rather its more spiritual form.

Knowledge is not so much what we say as what we do. I know that terms such as "spiritual path" may not give us a comfortable yardstick, but it still touches Paul's idea in 1 Corinthians, that our doctrinal placards, however scrupulously presented, really won't support us in the end. In the end, it's about how we have lived. Not what we declared at Tuesday night prayer meeting, but how we lived, every moment of each day.

Being an Orthodox Christian, Berdyaev criticized the clergy of the church and was even charged with the crime of blasphemy. Ordinary Christians and even monks liked him, whereas theologians, principally laymen, protested against his ideas. Nevertheless, I want to put a period to the discussion, with one of Berdyaev's quotes:

"The Christian world doesn't know Orthodoxy too well. It only knows the external and for the most part, the negative features of the Orthodox Church and not the inner spiritual treasure. Orthodoxy was locked inside itself, it did not have the spirit of proselytism and did not reveal itself to the world. For the longest time, Orthodoxy did not have such world-wide significance as did Catholicism and Protestantism. It remained apart form passionate religious battles for hundreds of years, for centuries it lived under the protection of large empires (Byzantium and Russia), and preserved its eternal truth from the destructive processes of world history. It is characteristic of Orthodoxy's religious nature that it was not sufficiently actualized nor exposed externally, it was not militant, and precisely because of this the heavenly truth of Christian revelation was not distorted so much. Orthodoxy is that form of Christianity which suffered the least distortion in its substance as a result of human history. The Orthodox Church had its moments of historical sin, for the most part in connection with its external dependence on the State, but the Church's teaching, her inner spiritual path was not subject to distortion. The Orthodox Church is primarily the Church of tradition, in contrast to the Catholic Church, which is the Church of authority, and to the Protestant Churches which are essentially churches of individual faith. The Orthodox Church was never subject to a single externally authoritarian organization and it unshakenly was held together by the strength of internal tradition and not by any external authority. Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity."
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Old 04-16-2014, 07:32 AM   #26
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Sorry, I promised not to take part in the discussion, but I want to come back to reply bro Awareness and also leave a couple of lines as PS.
Thanks ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by InChristAlone
Brother Awareness, for me, the Orthodox church has never been a box or a cell but a Universe.
Really. That's profound ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICA
It’s about finding the Lord.
Amen to that. Thankfully the Lord isn't hard to find. A trip to the woods, away from distractions, will do.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICA
One can spend his whole life in the “right” church and never meet Him.
Churches are business centers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICA
Someone else can never read the Bible, then open it accidentally, start reading, and meet Christ.
The Lord has a long history of coming to people without any book at all. Paul, for example, didn't meet the Lord because he picked up a book. Neither did John or Peter et al.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ICA
Brother Aron mentioned Nikolai Berdyaev in one of the threads.

Being an Orthodox Christian, Berdyaev criticized the clergy of the church and was even charged with the crime of blasphemy.
"Berdyaev's philosophy has been characterized as Christian existentialist. He was preoccupied with creativity and in particular with freedom from anything that inhibited creativity, whence his opposition to a "collectivized and mechanized society".
According to Marko Markovic, "He was an ardent man, rebellious to all authority, an independent and "negative" spirit. He could assert himself only in negation and could not hear any assertion without immediately negating it, to such an extent that he would even be able to contradict himself and to attack people who shared his own prior opinions."
~Wiki

Quote:
"The Christian world doesn't know Orthodoxy too well. It only knows the external and for the most part, the negative features of the Orthodox Church and not the inner spiritual treasure.
I've never attended an Orthodox service. Don't know if I'd like it or not.
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:16 AM   #27
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I know I'm late to this discussion. I really benefitted from the complete paragraph from which this small quote was taken..."Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity." But, I must ask how early? The age of the apostles, or the age of the church fathers?
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Old 11-07-2014, 07:43 AM   #28
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I know I'm late to this discussion. I really benefitted from the complete paragraph from which this small quote was taken..."Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity." But, I must ask how early? The age of the apostles, or the age of the church fathers?
Quote:
Originally Posted by InChristAlone View Post
with one of Berdyaev's quotes:

"... Orthodoxy is that form of Christianity which suffered the least distortion in its substance as a result of human history. ... Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity."
Early being Church Fathers. The "Orthodoxy" movement of the first 4 centuries repressed anything speculative or "gnostic". Then the Great Schism cut off even those Fathers who were "spiritual". Then the Great Reformation cut off even more. And so forth. All of these supposed "recoveries" (acc. to the Bretheren/Nee school) arguably were distortions. They turned from the lens of history, and could not see that they were moving further and further from the early church, because they either ignored or didn't know about the early writings.

A case in point is the Orthodox Ethiopian Church, which alone preserved the Enochic writings (until they were discovered in Qumran in 1947). Obviously, authorship and canonicity aside, 1 Enoch had an influence in early church thinking. But it got submarined in the tides of historical events. Only one single branch of the Orthodox Church preserved this important writing.

People like Calvin, with thier "sola scriptora", had no idea how distorted their thinking and behavior had become. They simply had no point of reference beyond their own logic. That also holds for Nee's "Normal" Church. He really had no idea what was normal, beyond his own supposedly logical constructions. Ostensibly Nee read every Christian work, from the first centuries up, which was worth reading. That is patently absurd. When you step back and look at that, Lee's hagiography of Nee has almost no trace of objective reality attached to it. It is wishful thinking at its worst.

And I write as an avowed Protestant, one who's neither Orthodox nor interested in joining their fellowship. I am simply talking about the early writings, i.e. the witness of the ages. If you dig, there is an unbroken stream of witness. Nee didn't have access. Even now we are only unearthing the fringes of it. Much has been lost, probably for good. But what Nee had access to, in 1925, is rather thin. He had no idea what "normal" was. Really no idea. But his ideas, unfortunately, were enough to throw off the Western yoke, establish a rapidly growing movement, and allow him to teach, "everybody get in line", and "hand over", and "deputy authority", and so forth. So ignorance didn't hold him back at all. And when you see his frantic wriggling when the Commies showed up, it was clear what kingdom he was building. He really had no idea what he was doing.

For instance, when they registered with the government. I asked why and they said, "You have to." Where in the NT does it show this?
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:16 PM   #29
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I know I'm late to this discussion. I really benefitted from the complete paragraph from which this small quote was taken..."Out of all forms of Christianity it is the Orthodox Church which remained more closely tied to early Christianity." But, I must ask how early? The age of the apostles, or the age of the church fathers?
I’d say, “the age of the apostles AND the age of the church fathers”. We believe the Church was founded on day of Pentecost, in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The Orthodox Church remains unchanged in doctrine and faith since the early Church of the Apostles. That’s why it may look strange and even weird for modern people. Where is the proof of this bold claim? The New Testament, ordination of priests (all clergy in the Orthodox Church can trace their ordination through the laying on of hands to the Apostles), and the writings of the Apostolic Fathers (Polycarp, Clement, Ignatius, etc) who described the teaching, priesthood, and practices of the early Church. BTW, some of the Apostolic Fathers were disciples of the Apostles. For example, St Ignatius of Antioch was a student of the Apostle John. And St Clement of Rome was consecrated by the Apostle Peter.

From Wikipedia: "The Apostolic Fathers is a term used to describe a group of Early Christian writings produced in the late 1st century and the first half of the 2nd century. These writings, though not unpopular in Early Christianity, were ultimately not part of the New Testament once it reached its final form. Many of the writings derive from the same time period and geographical location as other works of early Christian literature that did come to be part of the final form of the New Testament, and some of the writings found among the "Apostolic Fathers" seem to have been just as highly regarded as some of the writings (that remained) in the New Testament."

The Orthodox Church teachings are based on the Bible and the union of the Church Fathers. When they all agree and it doesn't contradict the Bible, then this is the truth. It helps to keep the faith of the ancient Christians and not to subtract or add anything, like Catholics or Protestant do.

BTW, most of the teachings of the early Christians were written in Greek, not in Latin. Later when the writings were translated into Latin, certain things were neglected or lost in translation. One of these things is the nature of relationship between God and man.

I will quote Peter Berger, a Lutheran theologian: “There are many ways of describing the distinctiveness of Orthodoxy, as against both the Roman Catholic and Protestant versions of Christianity. One way is nicely summed up in a statement by Paul Evdokimov, a lay member of the St. Serge school who did not move to America (he played a courageous role during the German occupation of France, among other things helping Jews to escape from the Nazis). Evdokimov suggests that Western Christianity sees the relationship between God and man as taking place in a courtroom - God is the judge, man is guilty, sentence must be pronounced, Christ takes the sentence upon himself, which allows God to forgive man. The entire transaction is judicial and penitential. By contrast, Eastern Christianity sees the relationship as taking place in a hospital - man is sick, sin is just part of the sickness, Christ is the victor over every part of this sickness (including death, which is the culmination of the sickness). The transaction between God and man is not judicial but therapeutic. It seems to me that this is a much more compassionate view of the human condition and its redemption.”

So the Orthodox understanding of salvation is also different from Catholic and Protestant:

“Salvation, for Orthodox Christians, is seen as deliverance from the curse of sin and death, which makes it possible for us to enter into union with God through Christ the Savior. Salvation includes a process of growth of the whole person whereby the sinner is transformed into the image and likeness of God. One is saved by faith through grace, although saving faith involves more than belief. Faith must be active and living, manifested by works of righteousness, whereby we cooperate with God to do His will. Hence, if one is “being saved,” one is on the way to one’s ultimate goal: eternal union with God and participation in the divine nature, as Saint Paul writes.”

http://oca.org/questions/scripture/h...from-the-faith

As for the history of the Orthodox Church, you may find some info here:

History of the Orthodox Church

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...rthodox_Church

The Eastern Orthodox Churches trace their roots back to the Apostles and Jesus Christ. Apostolic succession established the seats of Patriarchy (for example see the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem). Orthodoxy reached its golden age during the high point of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire, taken over by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church and the Serbian Orthodox Church before it continued to flourish in Russia after the Fall of Constantinople. Numerous autocephalous churches have been established in Eastern Europe and Slavic areas.

Four stages of development can be distinguished in the history of the Orthodox Churches. Early Christianity, which is roughly the first three centuries through the early age of Constantine the Great, constitutes the Apostolic and ancient period. The Byzantine period, beginning with the First seven Ecumenical Councils, comprises over eleven centuries from the First Council of Nicaea in 325 to the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. The Ottoman period starts, roughly, for the Greek and Balkan communities in the fifteenth century with the Fall of Constantinople, and ends about the year 1830, which marks Greek and Serbian independence from the Ottoman Empire. The last stage is the modern period.

History of the Orthodox Church

http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7053

A History of the Orthodox Church: Outline

http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/history.aspx

A Timeline of Church History

http://www.antiochian.org/orthodox-church-history

BTW, my wife is still active in the LRC. As for me, I stopped attending their meetings and started to go to a small Orthodox parish in my locality. I got a few books on Orthodoxy ("Becoming Orthodox: A Journey to the Ancient Christian Faith" by Peter Gillquist, "Surprised by Christ: My Journey From Judaism to Orthodox Christianity" by James Bernstein, "Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells" by Matthew Gallatin, "The Truth of Our Faith" vol 1 by Elder Cleopa, etc.) So I am learning more about this ancient faith, and the more I learn, the more it makes sense to me. Well, I might be bias because Orthodoxy is the faith of my grandparents.
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:18 PM   #30
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What is the “The Orthodox Church”?

The Orthodox Church, also known as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is a communion of Local Churches worldwide bound together by apostolic succession (from the Apostles), history, faith, creed, Ecumenical Councils, canons and liturgy. It is the second-largest Christian group in the world after the Roman Catholic Church, unless you consider Protestant groups and denominations as one entity.

Estimates of the number of worldwide Orthodox Christians range from 250 million to 350 million. Estimates of American members are between one and two million and the Orthodox Church is one of the fastest – growing Christian churches in America, drawing a rising numbers of converts from Evangelical and other Christian faith traditions.

Where did the Orthodox Church originate?

Jesus Christ founded His Church through the Apostles. By the grace received from God at Pentecost, the Apostles established the Church throughout the ancient world. St. Paul founded the Church of Antioch; St. Peter and St. James, the Church of Jerusalem; St. Andrew the Church of Constantinople; St. Mark, the Church of Alexandria; St. Peter and St. Paul, the Church of Rome. For one thousand years the Church was one (East and West), unbroken and undivided! After the Great Schism of 1054 A.D., when the Latin or western church tragically separated from eastern Christendom (at Constantinople), the eastern non-Oriental churches became known as the "Eastern Orthodox Church", to distinguish them from what subsequently became known as the "Roman Catholic Church".

Isn’t the “historic Church” Roman Catholic?

The “headquarters” of the ancient Christian faith was in fact not Rome but in the Eastern world! The apostles founded the majority of Churches in the Eastern world (and only two in the West). It was from the East (not from Rome) that the apostles and Paul were sent out with the Gospel. The West was not a center of the early Christian movement – it was the “mission field”! For over 1,000 years, with the exception of Rome, all the major centers of Christian belief were found in the East – in Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Constantinople.

All the fundamental dogmas regarding the faith were formulated and defended in the East – essential dogmas like Christ being “of the same essence” with the Father; that Christ is fully God and fully human; that the Holy Spirit is a divine Person; and the nature of the Trinity.

The first schools of Biblical interpretation, Antioch and Alexandria, were in the East. Their perspectives of interpretation still influence much of our understanding of the Scriptures today.

The East was the site for all the Ecumenical Church Councils (that is, the first seven from 325 to 787 A.D.) which formulated doctrines which Christians of all orthodox traditions accept as normative. The overwhelming majority of the bishops present at those councils were Eastern as well.

I thought there are just two kinds of Christians, Protestant and Catholic. How can you claim you are neither?

From the Orthodox point of view, Roman Catholicism is a medieval modification of the original Orthodox faith of the Church in Western Europe, and Protestantism is a later attempt to return to the original Faith. There is a certain sense in which, to our way of thinking, the Reformation did not go far enough.

We respectfully differ with Roman Catholicism on questions of papal authority, the nature of primacy within the Church, and a number of other consequent issues. Historically, the Orthodox Church is both "pre-Protestant" and "pre-Roman Catholic" in the sense that many modern Roman Catholic teachings (such as the dogmas of papal infallibility and the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary) were developed much later in Christian history. The word catholic is a Greek word meaning "having to do with wholeness, fullness of faith." We do consider ourselves "Catholic" in that sense of the word, that is, as proclaiming and practicing "the fullness of the Christian faith." In fact, the full title of our Church is "The Orthodox Catholic Church."

We find that Protestants readily relate to Orthodoxy's emphasis on personal faith and the Scriptures. Roman Catholics easily identify with Orthodoxy's rich liturgical worship and sacramental life. Roman Catholic visitors often comment, "in lots of ways your Liturgy reminds me of our old High Mass."

Why do you call yourselves "Orthodox"?

The word orthodox was coined by the ancient Christian Fathers of the Church, the name traditionally given to the Christian writers in the first centuries of Christian history. Orthodox is a combination of two Greek words, orthos and doxa. Orthos means "straight" or "correct." (It is also found in the word "orthopedics," which in the original Greek means "the correct education of children.") Doxa means at one and the same time "glory," "worship" and "doctrine." So the word orthodox signifies both "proper worship" and "correct doctrine."

The Orthodox Church today is identical to the undivided Church of ancient times. It is the Church found on the pages of the New Testament. The 16th century Protestant Reformer Martin Luther once remarked that he believed the pure Faith of primitive Christianity is to be found in the Orthodox Church.

http://saintig.org/visitors/orthodox-faq
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:27 PM   #31
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Some more links:

The Original Christian Gospel
FR. JAMES BERNSTEIN


http://www.pravmir.com/the-original-christian-gospel

Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?
by Fr. James Bernstein


http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/whichcamefirst.aspx

Chapters from “The Truth of Our Faith”:

http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/ec_bookinfo.aspx

Finding The New Testament Church
By Fr. Jon E. Braun


http://www.antiochian.org/content/fi...stament-church
http://journeytoorthodoxy.com/orthod...stament-church

Patriarchates, Bishops, and Popes - Is the Catholic Church the direct line from Peter?

http://wellthoughtoutlife.blogspot.c...-popes-is.html

Understanding the Orthodox Christian Faith

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxdbE7033Ho

Sola Scriptura. In the Vanity of Their Minds
by Fr. John Whiteford

http://orthodoxinfo.com/inquirers/tc...scriptura.aspx

Is Venerating Icons Idolatry? by Timothy Copple

http://www.orthodoxconvert.info/Q-A....Icons+Idolatry

No Graven Image: Icons and Their Proper Use by Fr. Jack N. Sparks, Ph.D.

http://www.antiochian.org/content/no...eir-proper-use

Are not icons images or idols that are forbidden by the ten commandments? Why do the Orthodox give such reverence (kissing, etc) to icons?

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/o...ns-and-relics/

The Functions of Icons by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos

http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/icon_function.aspx

What is an Icon? Do Orthodox Christians pray to Icons? Do Icons work miracles? Doesn’t the 2nd Commandment forbid Icons? Icons in the Old Testament.

http://theorthodoxchurch.info/blog/o...ns-and-relics/

Holy Fathers – On Veneration of Icons (Fr. Alexey Young)

http://www.roca.org/OA/19/19e.htm

What is Orthodoxy?

Orthodoxy is not only the sum total of dogmas accepted as true in a purely formal manner. It is not only theory, but practice; it is not only right Faith, but a life which agrees in everything with this Faith. The true Orthodox Christian is not only he who thinks in an Orthodox manner, but who feels according to Orthodoxy and lives Orthodoxy, who strives to embody the true Orthodox teaching of Christ in his life.

http://www.euphrosynoscafe.com/www.s...Orthodoxy.html

Theosis: The True Purpose of Human Life

http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/theosis.aspx

Some straight answers about the Orthodox Church

http://web.mit.edu/ocf/www/orthodox_qna.html

Rules for Pious Life

http://www.fatheralexander.org/bookl...sh/ch_life.htm

HOW OLD IS THE ORTHODOX FAITH?

http://stinnocentorthodoxchurch.org/...rthodox-faith/

I still remember and like the quote about Orthodoxy that Aron shared once. The words belong to the Russian thinker Nicolai Berdyaev:

“Orthodoxy is first of all, an orthodoxy of life and not an orthodoxy of indoctrination. For it, heretics are not so much those who confess a false doctrine but those who have a false spiritual life and go along a false spiritual path. Orthodoxy is before all else, not a doctrine, not an external organization, not an external norm of behavior but a spiritual life, a spiritual experience and a spiritual path. It sees the substance of Christianity in internal spiritual activity. Orthodoxy is less the normative form of Christianity (in the sense of a normative-rational logic and moral law) but is rather its more spiritual form”.

We can say the same about Berdayev. He was a great thinker but some of his ideas were controversial and not Orthodox at all. But by his life, he was an Orthodox Christian.
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:32 PM   #32
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More links:

The Orthodox Christian Church, also called the “Eastern Orthodox,” “Greek Orthodox” Church, or simply “the Orthodox Church,” is the oldest Christian Church in the world, founded by Jesus Christ and with its beginnings chronicled in the New Testament. (Our own Patriarchate of Antioch, one of the most ancient of Orthodox churches, was originally founded in A.D. 34 by Ss. Peter and Paul.) All other Christian churches and groups can be traced historically back to it.

http://saintpaulemmaus.org/what-is-orthodoxy/

The Orthodox Church is the original Christian Church, the Church founded by the Lord Jesus Christ and described in the pages of the New Testament. Her history can be traced in unbroken continuity all the way back to Christ and His Twelve Apostles.

Incredible as it seems, for over twenty centuries she has continued in her undiminished and unaltered faith and practice. Today her apostolic doctrine, worship, and structure remain intact. The Orthodox Church maintains that the Church is the living Body of Jesus Christ.

http://www.antiochian.org/content/wh...rthodox-church

The Bible is a product of the Church. For the first few centuries of the Christian era, no one could have put his hands on a single volume called "The Bible." In fact, there was no one put his hands on a single volume called "The Bible." In fact, there was no agreement regarding which "books" of Scripture were to be considered accurate and correct, or canonical.

It were the Church Fathers who compiled the Bible in the 4th century.

http://www.serfes.org/orthodox/scrip...nthechurch.htm

THE BASICS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE, BASED ON THE WRITINGS OF ST. IGNATIUS (BRIANCHANINOV)

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/53476.htm

What is the Holy Tradition?

In the original meaning of the word, Holy Tradition is the tradition which comes from the ancient Church of Apostolic times. In the second to the fourth centuries this was called "the Apostolic Tradition."

http://www.fatheralexander.org/bookl...opinions_e.htm

The Bible to be God's inspired word a part of the Tradition of the Church. (II Thessalonians, 2:15) In fact, it was the Church which gave us the Bible as we know it today! (You didn't think it just fell from heaven as we have it, did you?)

Jesus Christ did not come to establish such a thing as "Christianity". Even the word is not in the Holy Scriptures. What Christ Jesus did do was to establish the Church, which Scripture calls both His Body and His Bride. the communion which man seeks with God is found by being part of the Church, something which St. Paul calls a "great mystery", whereby we become members of Christ: "of His flesh, and of His bones." (Ephesians 5:30) The Bible also tells us that such as were being saved were added to the Church (Acts 2:47). They were not merely making "decisions for Christ" -- again, not a Scriptural term -- but they were repenting, being baptized for the remission of their sins, and being added to the Church. (Acts 2:38 ff.) There, they were continuing steadfastly in the Apostle's doctrine and fellowship, the Breaking of Bread (what is commonly called Holy Communion today), and prayer. Finally, from the day of Pentecost, the "birthday" of the Church, the Bible never speaks of Christians who were not a part of it. This sort of sums up why we speak so much of "The Church".

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/questions.html

The Orthodox Church preserves all the teachings and traditions - including Holy Scripture - that were held by all Christians for the first ten centuries.

http://www.holyresurrection.com/home/what-is-orthodoxy
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:42 PM   #33
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An excerpt from Prof. A.I. Osipov's book "POSTHUMOUS LIFE. Deliberations of a contemporary theologian." Some people find him controversial because he doesn’t not claim the it’s only Christians who will be saved.

“There is no need to speak here about the elevated steps of sanctity - this is a separate and a big subject. The main thing is that the righteous (of both the Old Testament and the New Testament) are only those people, who have arrived at this cognition, to such a feeling of need in God-Saviour, but not those who simply believed (or believe) in His coming as in some historic event and are waiting for the earthy and celestial benefits from Him (by the way, not knowing what it is). Those who crucified Christ also believed in the coming of Messiah, but they believed as in some earthy event, which would bring them shalom, that is all the goods of the earth - by that they deeply distorted the image of Messiah and the very essence of their religion. "Even the demons believe and shudder" (James, 2, 19), but remain demons, and this can happen with a man too.

From here it becomes clear, why those who repented: a criminal, a tax collector, a whore - are the righteous in Christianity.

That is why let's not judge about the eternal lot of any single person: Orthodox, non-Orthodox, non-Christian and etc. - because we do not know either their spiritual state, or all objective circumstances of his life. We must know and judge about the truth and falsity, that means about the salvation or downfall of this or that belief, the way of moral and spiritual life offered by it, but we cannot and have no right to say about a single man (or a nation) that he has perished. Only the Church can proclaim such a judgment. And each Christian is destined to pray for the neigbour (Luke, 10, 29-37), live or departed, irrespective of his convictions. Thus the Spiritual council of St. Trinity Sergiev Lavra, expressing their censure in respect of the Catholic expansion on the territory of the modern Russia, and at the same time concluded: "We cannot undertake upon us the right to judge, whether Roman-Catholics be saved or not, or in what measure the grace is present in the Catholic Church. The judgment of this kind and knowledge belongs to God alone"[1].

The Christian belief gives the possibility for a man to get ready for the posthumous life: his fight against a sin, compulsion for the keeping up the Gospel commandments, repentance to clear oneself the way to God and to escape the after death sufferings.

"POSTHUMOUS LIFE":

www.aosipov.ru/texts/POSTHUMOUS.doc

Why do we pray for the dead?

Many people who call themselves Christians are offended when they hear that we pray for the dead. This begs the question: Why do we pray for the dead?

We do not find that dying is a proper reason to excommunicate people from the Church. Although they have died they are still the Body of Christ, and as such deserve our prayers and our love.

http://orthodox.net/redeemingthetime...y-do-we-do-it/

Here is a great article of the topic but it's in Russian. If someone is really interested, he or she may use Google Translate. In short, it was a practice of the ancient Church which was given to us by the Apostles. For example, the first Liturgy was written by the Apostle James, the Lord's brother. And his Liturgy included a prayer for departed saints. In the Book of Baruch, the prophet Baruch prays for deceased sons of Israel. The Books of the Maccabees (2 Maccabees) also includes prayer for the dead.

http://www.na-gore.ru/articles/luka_o_usopshih.htm

Prayer and the Departed Saints
By David C. Ford, Ph.D

http://www.protomartyr.org/prayer.html
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Old 11-07-2014, 09:48 PM   #34
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An excerpt from the Prof. Osipov's lecture "Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith?":

"When it comes to addressing Protestantism, their stated dogmas alone will suffice. One can grasp their essence by considering but one fundamental Protestant assertion: “Man is saved only by faith, and not by works; therefore, to a believer, sin is not imputed as sin.” Here is the fundamental question on which Protestants have become confused. They start to build their house of salvation from the 10th story, having forgotten (if they ever had remembered) the teachings of the early Church about what kind of faith saves man. Is it not faith in the fact that 2000 years ago, Christ came and accomplished everything for us?!

How does Orthodox understanding of faith differ from that of the Protestants? Orthodoxy also says that man is saved by faith, but for the believer sin remains sin. What kind of faith is this? According to St. Theophanes, not “intellectual,” i.e. analytical, but rather a state acquired through proper, and I emphasize, proper Christian life. Only through such a life does one grasp the fact that only Christ can save him from bondage and from the torment of passions. How is such a state of faith acquired? Through a compulsion to fulfill the Commandments of the Gospel and through true repentance. St. Symeon the New Theologian states: “Careful fulfillment of Christ’s commandments teaches man his weaknesses.” I.e. it reveals to him that without God’s help, he is powerless and unable to root out his passions. By himself, a single person cannot [do it}. However, with God, with “two working together,” all things become possible. It is the Christian life that shows one first, that his passions are illnesses, second, that the Lord is near each and every one of us, and finally, that at any given moment He is prepared to lend us assistance and save us from sin.

However, He does not save us without our participation, effort and struggle. Spiritual struggle renders us capable of accepting Christ. It is essential, for it shows us that without God, we cannot heal ourselves. It is only while I am drowning that I am certain of my need for the Savior. While I am on shore, I need no one. It is only when I see myself drowning in the torment of passions that I call upon Christ. It is then that He comes to my aid, and it is from that point that active, salvific faith begins. Orthodoxy teaches us that man’s freedom and dignity are not, as characterized by Luther, a “pillar of salt” incapable of accomplishing anything, but rather are God’s co-workers in His [accomplishment of our] salvation. This renders comprehensible the meaning of all of the Commandments in the Gospel, and makes obvious the truth of Orthodoxy, not simply a faith in the matter of salvation for the Christian."

James 2:17: "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Prof. Osipov’s lectures "Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith?"

1 http://www.pravmir.com/why-orthodoxy-is-the-true-faith/
2 http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/homi...E/e_Osipov.htm
3 http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/7174.htm

Prof. Osipov’s lecture “Why are we Orthodox?”

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/42941.htm

"The Search for Truth on the Path of Reason"

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/web-file..._I_Osipov).doc

“God”

http://www.alexey-osipov.ru/web-file..._Osipov_A).pdf
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Old 11-09-2014, 08:38 AM   #35
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Hey ICA. Great to see you again. Hope you are doing well.

But you are dishing too much too fast. It's overwhelming. Is it possible you could slow down? Or do you have a time crunch, that forces you to put it all out before having to leave again?
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Old 11-09-2014, 12:38 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by awareness View Post
Hey ICA. Great to see you again. Hope you are doing well.

But you are dishing too much too fast. It's overwhelming. Is it possible you could slow down? Or do you have a time crunch, that forces you to put it all out before having to leave again?
Even if he gave me a thousand wiki sites, they would not become anymore "orthodox" in my eyes.

What's with all those funky getups that their "priests" wear? Didn't anyone ever tell them that the age of symbolic vestments is over?
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Old 11-09-2014, 05:48 PM   #37
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I get that the Orthodox Church is the most ancient expression of "ritualized" Christianity, but given what I understand about persecution of the early church in the days of the apostles it's hard for me to imagine one of the brothers walking among the meeting swinging the thurible with burning incense. I think the smell would have given them away. I think the Orthodox Church represents the earliest ritualized form of Christianity, but not necessarily "primitive" Christianity. This of course does not mean that The Lord prefers the "primitive" (whatever that was) form of worship. I'm pretty sure He is more appreciative of diversity in worship than I am comfortable with.

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Old 11-09-2014, 06:05 PM   #38
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... it's hard for me to imagine one of the brothers walking among the meeting swinging the thurible with burning incense...
1. yes but they met in synagogues. So why not incense.
2. we are the people of the book. the orthodox have the writings of the ancients. that is what i respect: the testimony, not the robes.
3. the idea is to receive one another. we don't join, we don't judge. we receive. the orthodox should be received as brothers. they are our peers, our equals, our bretheren, fellow heirs of faith. one organization is not superior or inferior to others.
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Old 11-09-2014, 09:39 PM   #39
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1. yes but they met in synagogues. So why not incense.
2. we are the people of the book. the orthodox have the writings of the ancients. that is what i respect: the testimony, not the robes.
3. the idea is to receive one another. we don't join, we don't judge. we receive. the orthodox should be received as brothers. they are our peers, our equals, our bretheren, fellow heirs of faith. one organization is not superior or inferior to others.
Who met in synagogues? The early church? Hardly!

The early church had no time, no money, no interest in robes and formalities.

The EO are all about icons and symbolism. Except for baptism and the Lords Supper, the NT had no interest in these things.

Whatsoever.
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Old 11-12-2014, 01:53 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awareness View Post
Hey ICA. Great to see you again. Hope you are doing well.

But you are dishing too much too fast. It's overwhelming. Is it possible you could slow down? Or do you have a time crunch, that forces you to put it all out before having to leave again?
Hi Awareness,

Great to see you too!

I'm sorry for the late reply. I didn't know that my messages got comments because my Windows Live Mail didn't receive any notifications.

Brothers, please excuse me for the overwhelming information. I just wanted to share it because I don't have time to answer possible questions. Besides, I hardly visit this forum. And I don't want to take part in the discussion because I don't think I'm qualified.

As I said earlier, I stopped attending the LRC and I feel such a relief. My wife was not happy about my decision but thank God, she accepted it.

The more I am detached from the LRC, the more I notice distortion of spiritual life in the Local Churches. I don’t claim that my new spiritual life is better. I just have a new point of view and new criteria. When I used to talk to my wife's relatives about the Gospel commandment and Christ's message, they always answered that they went further. "All Christian churches speak about the same but we go further. We have the vision. God wants to build His church. He transforms us."

I am not a very smart guy but it’s very easy to check if they go further or go astray. Where is the fruit of the Holy Spirit? (Galatians 5:22). Where is the transformation? Meetings, trainings, seminars, and other “proper church life” activities are non-stop but it doesn't help. It’s all about mental activity and emotions, not about spirit and spiritual life.

If they try to keep the Gospel commandments at least for one day (love your neighbor, help the poor, don't judge, don't be anxious, don't be jealous, don't anger, don't be proud, etc), then they will easily see if they are heading to Christ or somewhere further from Him. What's the point of numerous meetings and seminars, if in spite of attending them for 1, 5, 10, or 30 years, we stay the same?

I don’t condemn my dear saints and relatives. It's not them, it's the system. Besides, I am not any better. I have no fruit of the Holy Spirit and I'm not even closer to Christ. But after I left the LRC and started to learn about Orthodox spiritual life, I realized that a Christian is not the one who reads Morning Revival, attends the church, shares the right “vision”, building an organization, even if it is called "the only genuine Christian church". A Christian is not the one who may understand and interpret the Bible better than others. (Probably, if a modern theologian tested the Apostles, he would call them heretics). So a Christian is not the one who knows theology or the Bible better than others. And it’s not even an Orthodox man like me who venerates icons, prays to saints, and lights candles. These are outward things. A Christian is the one who needs Jesus Christ as His Savior every moment of his life. And not only needs, but also follows Him and calls on His name. (Of course, not like a mantra or a vain repetition. But with attention, humility, repentance, and reverence). It's only when I see my own sins and realize that I can't conquer them with my own strength, then I feel the need in the Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t save/help/heal myself, that’s why I need God.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, sin is sickness. Since Adam’s fall, sin/sickness became a part of our nature. But the Lord is the great physician. He is our strength, shield, and the way to salvation (eternal life and communion with God). The Lord saves and heals us from our sickness, restoring the image and likeness of God. However, our faith in Him must be active and living, not just intellectual. We have to repent, read the Word of God, keep the commandments of the Gospels (not only Ten Commandments of OT), pray, fast, take part in the Church Sacraments, and last but not least: fight against our passions. (Well, that’s what spiritual life in the Orthodox Church like. It’s not an easy way but a constant warfare).

The Church is assembly of repenting sinners, united by the Holy Spirit. It's like a spiritual hospital. We are all patients. Patients never condemn, judge or blame each other. Why? Because they know they are all sick. So are we. We are all sinners. Can I condemn my fellow patient? On what basis? I have dozens of my own illnesses that might be worse than my neighbor's. Who am I? I am nothing but a great sinner who needs Christ.

If we think that we are already healthy, i.e. saved, holy, and just, then there is a danger to fall into self-importance, self-righteousness, and self-opinion. It’s only when we see our weakness, we realize how much we need God. Jesus didn’t condemn sinners, tax-collectors, and thieves. He condemned Pharisees. Publicans didn’t delude themselves about their spiritual condition. They knew they were sinners. Pharisees didn’t. So it was not sinners but Pharisees, outwardly righteous people, who crucified Christ. They didn't need Him as their Savior.

And it was not a Pharisee but the good thief who became the first man in paradise. Not because of his sins or good deeds but because of his humility and repentance. He acknowledged his sins and asked the Lord to remember him in His kingdom. The man didn’t even hope to enter it because he saw his unworthiness... Our faith must be the same. We have no brownie points before God. We are saved by grace. But we still have to cooperate together with the Lord so that our faith not to become dead. Salvation is an on-going process where two sides take part: God and man. It’s synergy. Of course, we can’t transform ourselves and heal ourselves from our sins/sickness. But we still have to help the Lord. If we call ourselves Christians, then it’s our duty to repent, pray, keep the commandments of the Gospels, read the Word of God, and fight against our passions. This is what Christian spiritual life like, the path where we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. (Philippians 2:12).

Lord, have mercy on us.
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:12 AM   #41
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Originally Posted by HERn View Post
I get that the Orthodox Church is the most ancient expression of "ritualized" Christianity, but given what I understand about persecution of the early church in the days of the apostles it's hard for me to imagine one of the brothers walking among the meeting swinging the thurible with burning incense. I think the smell would have given them away. I think the Orthodox Church represents the earliest ritualized form of Christianity, but not necessarily "primitive" Christianity. This of course does not mean that The Lord prefers the "primitive" (whatever that was) form of worship. I'm pretty sure He is more appreciative of diversity in worship than I am comfortable with.
Please check out these articles:

The early Christian Church came into being as a liturgical church because Jews worshipped liturgically. The New Testament records numerous instances of liturgical worship, which range from pure Jewish practices (such as Peter and John going to the Temple because it was the hour of prayer) to Christian liturgical worship (which confirms that the early Christians met and worshipped following Jewish liturgical practices, and added to them the rite of the Eucharist).

Many present-day Christians do not understand why the worship services of the "liturgical churches" are so different and so structured. A common assumption is that in the New Testament, worship was spontaneous. However, worship in the early Christian Church, like Judaism, followed a specific order or form. This "order" has its very roots in the Scriptures. In fact, all of Christianity worshipped this way for 1500 years; the Eastern Orthodox Church and Western Roman Church have been worshiping this way — more or less unchanged — for nearly 2000 years.

Two words need to be kept in mind when one first experiences liturgical worship: origin and changelessness.

...

http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLit.jsp


First-century Christian synagogue liturgy

It seems fairly obvious that Christians, as a sect within first-century Judaism, worshipped essentially as other first-century Jews did. And we are justified in expecting to find in historical Christian worship some vestiges of earlier Jewish liturgy.

But in looking for parallels, it would be a mistake to assume that modern Jewish liturgy is identical – or even very similar – to the way first-century Jews worshipped. A modern Jewish prayerbook is not much help in reconstructing the prayer and worship of first-century Judaism, or in comparing it with later developments in Christian liturgy.

...

http://silouanthompson.net/2007/09/f...gogue-liturgy/

Liturgy of St James

The Liturgy of Saint James is considered to be the oldest surviving liturgy developed for general use in the Church. Its date of composition is still disputed with some authorities proposing an early date, perhaps ca. AD 60, close to the time of composition of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans, while most authorities propose a fourth-century date for the known form, because the anaphora seems to have been developed from an ancient Egyptian form of the Basilean anaphoric family united with the anaphora described in The Catechisms of St. Cyril of Jerusalem.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liturgy_of_St_James
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Old 11-12-2014, 02:22 AM   #42
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1. yes but they met in synagogues. So why not incense.
2. we are the people of the book. the orthodox have the writings of the ancients. that is what i respect: the testimony, not the robes.
3. the idea is to receive one another. we don't join, we don't judge. we receive. the orthodox should be received as brothers. they are our peers, our equals, our bretheren, fellow heirs of faith. one organization is not superior or inferior to others.
Thank you, Aron.

The early believers in Christ continued in the traditions of their Jewish forefathers, worshiping as they had in both the Temple and the Synagogue . To this worship practice they added the distinctly Christian components which were, in fact, transformed Jewish worship practices. These included Baptism, the Eucharist, the Agape meal, and others. Baptism was also present in Jewish religious practice as a personal repentance for sin. Baptism, like the Lord's Supper, was transformed in both meaning and content by our Lord Jesus Christ. Baptism became not only a repentance for one's sins, but being baptized in the name of the Trinity now also assured forgiveness and incorporation into the Body of Christ, the Church. Baptism was the once and for all initiatory rite whereby one received the Holy Spirit and came into the Church.

The early Christians with their transformed understanding of the central elements of Judaism had a practical problem: how to conduct worship? They wanted to carry on their old Jewish worship practices while at the same time incorporating this new meaning and content. They accepted the necessity for continuity with the old, and for the celebration of the new, but could not do both together. The result was doing both in parallel. The Temple hours of prayer and the Synagogue worship were kept, but were not centered in Christ. Each day of the week, those Christian believers in Jerusalem would attend the Temple for prayers during the daily cycle, and on Saturday — the Jewish Sabbath — they would attend either Temple or Synagogue.

http://www.liturgica.com/html/litEChLitWEC.jsp
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Old 11-12-2014, 03:01 AM   #43
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For those who might be interested in Orthodox spirituality, I'd like to recommend to start with this book:

Christ Is in Our Midst: Letters from a Russian Monk

http://www.amazon.com/Christ-Is-Our-.../dp/0913836648

I will share an excerpt:

How to Pray from Letters of the Valaam Elder Schema-Abbot John (Alexeev).

01.07.1954

It is very sad to hear that the priests teach their spiritual children to imagine the Saviour, or the Mother of God, or some Saint in the mind while praying.
This method of prayer is wrong, even harmful. I know that the ones who prayed so, became of unsound mind and went to the doctors to be treated.
I'll tell you briefly how to pray according to divinely wise Holy Fathers. The mind must be enclosed in the words of the prayer and attention should be kept in the top of the chest, for attention is a soul of the prayer. You should not push the heart with attention, since if there is attention in the chest, the heart will sympathize. When tenderness and warmth of heart appear, do not think that you have received something great. It happens naturally because of concentration, but it is not delusion. Yet God gives some consolation to the praying person by the grace.

By all means try not to judge anyone for anything. What you do not want for yourself, do not do to others, and nor bear hatred, or the prayer will not become establish in the heart.

http://oprelesti.ru/index.php/what-i...itual-delusion

"Ten Point Program for Orthodox Life"

http://www.stgeorgegreenville.org/Te...ntProgram.html

God bless.
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Old 05-03-2016, 10:29 AM   #44
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ICA,

I must say that it is clear that the EO belief, though stated in terms sounding much like those of he LCM, is nothing like it. And it is probably easiest to see that, as intended, it is essentially true. But, like the LCM, it is the unique way of stating it that is the problem. The scripture really does not provide as statement that we obtain divinity, but rather that we become like him (Christ). Like. Not of similar essence or stature.

In other words, I am not sure but what the way the EO speaks of it may be obscuring the true intent and turning the focus.

But this one statement I do really like:
Quote:
Sin is sickness, a self-perpetuating illness which distorts the whole human being and corrupts the image of God.
This is the truth of the purpose of man as the one bearing the image of God that is mostly ignored. It is understood as spiritually so and left at that. It is mostly ignored that the failure to live the image of God and not just claim eternally to have it is the purpose of man "from the beginning."

While God is present in the world, and it is possible to realize him from the created world, the real presence of God is in the people who claim to be his followers. The followers of Christ. But we to often do not follow Christ. We learn the best doctrines and can debate them with learned theologians. But how are we living before man? What is the God that is seen in the world?

We were not created to bear the image of God back to Himself. Rather we were created to bear the image of God to the world.

To borrow from a TV psychologist, "How's that workin'?"

And for the EO, it would seem that there is not much to say. They seem so consumed with being separate from the world around them. Hard to see any kind of image there. Lots of talk about being incarnated. But for what?
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Old 05-03-2016, 10:48 AM   #45
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Default Re: LSM’s Deification Doctrine—Biblical or Blasphemous? Nigel Tomes

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Ohio, thank you. I take it as a compliment. The word “old” doesn't only mean "old-fashioned" but also "original."

God bless.
ICA, I'm not so sure about that being "original."

My friend told me that St. John Chrys?? wrote the EO liturgy back in the 4th? Century. I can't agree with that. An established liturgy, no matter how good, is foreign to the New Covenant.

Also, whether it is called an icon, an idol, a graven image, or a God-emoji, it is all the same, and forbidden by the 10 commandments.

In these two regards, the EOC and the RCC, which I grew up in, are both the same, and contrary to His word.
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:58 AM   #46
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Default Re: LSM’s Deification Doctrine—Biblical or Blasphemous? Nigel Tomes

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ICA, To borrow from a TV psychologist, "How's that workin'?"

And for the EO, it would seem that there is not much to say. They seem so consumed with being separate from the world around them. Hard to see any kind of image there. Lots of talk about being incarnated. But for what?
OBW,

The essence of Orthodox faith is not doctrines but spiritual life. Spirituality in the Orthodox Church means the everyday activity of life in communion with God -- through the Sacraments of the Church, reading the Bible, keeping the Gospel commandments (and not just the 10 commandments of Old Testament), through fasting, prayer (with attention, humility, repentance and reverence), and through spiritual warfare against our sins, passions, and sinful thoughts. This activity has always borne great fruits in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Orthodox monastics, ascetics and laymen of holy life became great saints, whose life was a vivid example of spiritual transformation, becoming Christ-like. Some of the saints could work miracles, instantly heal people through prayer or tell the past and future life of a man whom they for the first time.

One of the greatest saints of the 20-th century was St. John (Maximovich) Archbishop of Shanghai and San Francisco:

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/54575.htm

Anyway, working miracles is not that important to reveal a saint. Most of Orthodox saints tried to hide their supernatural abilities. Because in Orthodoxy, miracles don't speak for man's holiness. Unconditional love and humility are the signs of a true saint who lives in communion with God:

"God descends to the humble as waters flow down from the hills into the valleys".
-- St. John of Kronstadt

If, according to the example of Abraham and Job, we think that we are earth and ashes, then we shall never be robbed, but we will always have something to give to others: not gold and silver, but an example of humility, patience, and love toward God. May there be glory to Him forever. Amen.
-- Saints Barsanuphius & John, Guidance Toward Spiritual Life

Extirpate two thoughts within thyself: do not consider yourself worthy of anything great, and do not think that any other man is much lower than you in worthiness. Learn humility beforehand, which the Lord commanded in word and showed forth in deed. Hence, do not expect obedience from others, but be ready for obedience yourself.
-- Saint Basil the Great

This is the mark of Christianity--however much a man toils, and however many righteousnesses he performs, to feel that he has done nothing, and in fasting to say, "This is not fasting," and in praying, "This is not prayer," and in perseverance at prayer, "I have shown no perseverance; I am only just beginning to practice and to take pains"; and even if he is righteous before God, he should say, "I am not righteous, not I; I do not take pains, but only make a beginning every day.
-- St. Macarius the Great

Even if an angel should indeed appear to you, do not receive him but humble yourself, saying, 'I am not worthy to see an angel, for I am a sinner.'
-- St. Clement of Rome (d. 101 AD)

Repentance and humility are those virtues which allow the Lord to enter in our hearts.

PS BTW, Orthodox Spirituality is different from Roman Catholic spirituality.

Reveal Your Saints and You Reveal Your Church

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/onbeh...l-your-church/

Why Orthodoxy is the True Faith

http://stjohndc.work/Russian/homilie...E/e_Osipov.htm
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:04 PM   #47
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Default Re: LSM’s Deification Doctrine—Biblical or Blasphemous? Nigel Tomes

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I can't agree with that. An established liturgy, no matter how good, is foreign to the New Covenant.
Liturgical Worship in the New Testament

Christianity did not spring from a vacuum. Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jewish. They all worshipped according to the tradition of the Jewish nation as handed down by Moses and the Prophets. No one doubts or denies that Judaism is a liturgical religion. Within the New Testament there is evidence that the Apostles continued to observe Jewish liturgical practices. When we approach the New Testament we must read it in the framework in which it was written: the early Church meeting in the Temple and Synagogue and putting Christ in the center of what they did as Jews. Christ FULFILLED the Law, He did not destroy it (Matt. 5:17). The OT was a type and shadow of the New as Hebrews teaches. Thus the first Christians worshipped according to the pattern of the Law, but saw the worship as directed to and fulfilled in Christ. NOTE: Liturgical prayer does NOT supplant or replace "personal prayer". Liturgical prayer is usually "corporate", private prayer is usually a combination of "set prayers" and personal expression.

Liturgy in the New Testament Scriptural references:

Acts 2:42 - continued in THE prayers (in the GreeK), were day by day IN THE TEMPLE…
Acts 5:42, The apostles were continually in the Temple praying and teaching, 6:4 they appoint deacons so they can devote themselves to THE prayers (Greek) and ministry of the word
Acts 10:2-3 Cornelius prayed continually, 9th hour., 10:9 Peter at the 6th hour went to the roof to pray. These were "liturgical hours of prayer".
Acts 13:2 While they were "ministering" to the Lord, literally in liturgy, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. The Spirit works in liturgy
Acts 15:22, 18:8, 17: "leaders" of synagogue, ie., liturgical worship leaders.
Acts 18:7 "Worshipper of God" house next to the synagogue.
Acts 16:25 midnight praying and singing hymns of praise to God.
Acts 20:6, 16 After the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost are mentioned. Paul says in I Cor. 16:8 that he will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. The early Church kept a liturgical "church calendar".
Hebrews 8:2 High Priest Jesus a "minister" (lit. "liturgist") in the heavenly sanctuary.

Read more: http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts..._new_testament

Early Christian Liturgics.

Early Christian worship had an origin: Jewish worship form and practice. The early disciples did not create new worship practices any more than did Jesus Christ. They all prayed as Jews and worshiped as Jews. The earliest Christians were Jews who recognized and accepted Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, and the worship that they practiced was liturgical because Jewish worship was liturgical. For this reason we see in the New Testament that the early Christians continued their Jewish worship practices, even while they added some uniquely Christian components. The most central new content was the sacrament of the Eucharist (or Communion) as instituted by Christ at the Last Supper. However, in the early Church this was celebrated as a separate service for many years.

This living continuity of worship from Temple to Synagogue and into the early Christian Church is why there is a highly developed Christian liturgical order in use by the end of the first century, within sixty years of Christ’s resurrection.

Read more: http://www.holytrinitymission.org/bo..._liturgics.htm

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Also, whether it is called an icon, an idol, a graven image, or a God-emoji, it is all the same, and forbidden by the 10 commandments.

In these two regards, the EOC and the RCC, which I grew up in, are both the same, and contrary to His word.
The Biblical Basis For Icons

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthod...sis-for-icons/

No Graven Image: Icons and Their Proper Use by Fr. Jack N. Sparks, Ph.D.

http://www.antiochian.org/content/no...eir-proper-use

God bless.
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Old 05-03-2016, 12:25 PM   #48
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Quote:
Liturgical Worship in the New Testament

Christianity did not spring from a vacuum. Jesus was a Jew, the apostles were Jewish. They all worshipped according to the tradition of the Jewish nation as handed down by Moses and the Prophets. No one doubts or denies that Judaism is a liturgical religion. Within the New Testament there is evidence that the Apostles continued to observe Jewish liturgical practices. When we approach the New Testament we must read it in the framework in which it was written: the early Church meeting in the Temple and Synagogue and putting Christ in the center of what they did as Jews. Christ FULFILLED the Law, He did not destroy it (Matt. 5:17). The OT was a type and shadow of the New as Hebrews teaches. Thus the first Christians worshipped according to the pattern of the Law, but saw the worship as directed to and fulfilled in Christ. NOTE: Liturgical prayer does NOT supplant or replace "personal prayer". Liturgical prayer is usually "corporate", private prayer is usually a combination of "set prayers" and personal expression.

Liturgy in the New Testament Scriptural references:

Acts 2:42 - continued in THE prayers (in the GreeK), were day by day IN THE TEMPLE…
Acts 5:42, The apostles were continually in the Temple praying and teaching, 6:4 they appoint deacons so they can devote themselves to THE prayers (Greek) and ministry of the word
Acts 10:2-3 Cornelius prayed continually, 9th hour., 10:9 Peter at the 6th hour went to the roof to pray. These were "liturgical hours of prayer".
Acts 13:2 While they were "ministering" to the Lord, literally in liturgy, the Holy Spirit spoke to them. The Spirit works in liturgy
Acts 15:22, 18:8, 17: "leaders" of synagogue, ie., liturgical worship leaders.
Acts 18:7 "Worshipper of God" house next to the synagogue.
Acts 16:25 midnight praying and singing hymns of praise to God.
Acts 20:6, 16 After the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost are mentioned. Paul says in I Cor. 16:8 that he will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost. The early Church kept a liturgical "church calendar".
Hebrews 8:2 High Priest Jesus a "minister" (lit. "liturgist") in the heavenly sanctuary.
Sorry ICA, but none of these verses supports any established liturgy. Just because the early believers gathered in His name, prayed to God, ministered to the Lord, worshiped God, sang hymns in jail, etc. doesn't mean that they had any prescribed pattern for their "services." On the contrary, these verses proved just the opposite. Just as Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, God is no longer worshiped here or there, this way or that way, but anywhere and everywhere, in spirit and in truth.

I say assuredly that prescribed liturgy is one of the biggest frustrations to real worship of the New Covenant. Structured liturgy, in fact, just as in the days of Isaiah, causes most people to honor God with their lips, and not their hearts. The fact that the EOC liturgy was not established until the 3rd or 4th century proves it is not "original."
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Old 05-03-2016, 11:14 PM   #49
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I say assuredly that prescribed liturgy is one of the biggest frustrations to real worship of the New Covenant. Structured liturgy, in fact, just as in the days of Isaiah, causes most people to honor God with their lips, and not their hearts. The fact that the EOC liturgy was not established until the 3rd or 4th century proves it is not "original."
Ohio, the meaning of the liturgy is worship and the living experience of God so that to enter into union with Him through the Eucharist (Holy Communion). Thus, I find liturgical practices to be a treasure in Orthodoxy. Of course, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (347-407) is not 100% the same like in the primitive Church but it follows the same pattern. If ancient Christians or the Church Fathers were to walk into an Orthodox liturgy, they would immediately recognize where they were — in a Christian church. The key give away would be the Eucharist (The Holy Communion, or "Thanksgiving" in Greek). This is because the Eucharist was central to Christian worship. In the days following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the early Christians met in homes and celebrated “the breaking of bread” (the Eucharist). Paul He made the celebration of the Eucharist a key part of his message to the church in Corinth (I Corinthians 11:23).

The most ancient description of the order and time of the Holy Eucharist (Divine Liturgy) is preserved in the 1st Apology by Justin the Martyr, Ch. 67, written in 138 A.D. In brief, he refers to the day, which he calls the day of the sun (the Lord's Day, the day of Kyrios, that is Kyriake, Sunday, the first day of the week, in memory of the Resurrection of the Lord.) On this day the Christians gathered together to participate in the Divine Liturgy.

As to the order of the diagram of the Liturgy, Justin refers to: the reading of the Scriptures, the exhortation by the Notable, Proestos, the offering of prayers, the offering of bread, wine and water, the long thanksgiving, eucharistic, prayer of sanctification by the Notable, the partaking of Holy Communion, and the collection for charity.

Justin the Martyr gives us only a diagram and not the actual prayers and words. But it is the same order that St. Chrysostom follows in his Liturgy used today.


http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith7117

Orthodox worship follows the pattern of Old Testament worship and is the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. The Evangelical approach to worship seems to be based on the assumption that Jesus abolished the Old Testament. Because of this Evangelicals ignore the Old Testament teaching on Tabernacle worship and focus on the New Testament for instruction on how to worship God. The paucity of New Testament passages on worship has been taken as grounds for an anything goes approach to worship. But, this assumption is wrong. Jesus made it clear he did not come to abolish the old covenant but rather to fulfill it:

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them (Matthew 5:17).

Orthodox worship is more than an imitation of Old Testament worship. It is also a fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies. The Old Testament prophets besides describing the coming Messiah also described worship in the Messianic Age. Within the book of Malachi is a very interesting prophecy:

My name will be great among the nations, from the rising to the setting of the sun. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to my name, because my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord. (Malachi 1:11)

The phrase “from the rising to the setting of the sun” is a poetic way of saying from east to west — everywhere. Here we have a prophecy that the worship of God which was formerly confined to Jerusalem would in the future become universal. This was confirmed by Jesus in his conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. In response to her question whether Jerusalem or Mt. Gerizim was the proper place for worship (John 4:19), Jesus answered that in the Messianic Age true worship would not depend on location (Jerusalem or Mt. Gerizim) but on worship of the Trinity. His statement about worshiping the Father in spirit (Holy Spirit) and truth (Jesus Christ) (John 4:23-24) is a teaching that true worship is worship of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. God wants neither Jewish animal sacrifices in Jerusalem nor Samaritan animal sacrifices on Mt. Gerizim. He wants a spiritual worship, in spirit and in truth, which is not linked to a certain locality. BTW, this doesn't mean that it can't be the liturgical worship. Eastern Orthodox liturgical worship is almost non-stop prayer where most of the service is chanted or sung.

In the last chapter of Hebrews is a strange verse that many Evangelicals and Protestants skip over:

We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat (Hebrews 13:10).

What the author is asserting here is that the priests and Levites working at the Jerusalem Temple have no access to the Christian Eucharist. The Eucharist is only for those who confess Jesus as the promised Messiah and his death on the cross as the ultimate Passover sacrifice. The reference to the altar tells us the early Christians celebrated the Eucharist on real altars and that they had priests.

Protestants today have the habit of calling the platform area altars and spiritual songs as sacrifice. This involves a significant spiritualizing of the meaning of Hebrews 13:10. Furthermore, if we take this spiritualizing approach the phrase “have no right to eat” would not make sense. In the early Church if one did not confess Jesus as Christ, one could not receive the Eucharist. Contemporary Protestant worship on the other hand welcomes everybody and makes no distinction between believers and nonbelievers in its worship. The early Church’s worship style was radically different from Protestant churches that have dispensed with the altar and the idea of the Eucharist as a spiritual sacrifice.


https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/ortho...orary-worship/

Brother Ohio, I am not sure if you have ever been to an Orthodox church during the Divine Liturgy. Just for experience, could you, together with your neighbor friend, attend the nearest Ukrainian Orthodox church? I am almost sure that you won't like it. Orthodox worship can be a foreign land for you. But I would be grateful to you if you could share your experience. Even your negative review is welcomed. Since it's a different topic, you could post your message to my blog. Thank you!

PS Here is what Protestants (Lutherans) say about liturgical worship: Top Ten Reasons Why We Use the Liturgy. (As an Orthodox Christian, I absolutely agree with this Protestant author):

http://higherthings.org/myht/article...easons-liturgy

Ohio, if you really decide to attend the Divine Liturgy with your friend and then post your review, here is a guide for your first venture to an Eastern Orthodox Church: "Things I Wish I’d Known Before Attending"

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/things-i...ore-attending/

You can also check this transcript of the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom:

http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/liturgy/liturgy.html
http://www.orthodox.net/services/slu...chrysostom.pdf

God bless.
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Old 05-04-2016, 12:28 PM   #50
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ICA,

In response to yours to me and to Ohio, I note the following:

Liturgy.

This is, unfortunately, something that most of evangelical Christianity has eliminated outside of the occasional recitation of the Apostle's Creed (or other similar creed), regular inclusion of reading of scripture, and sometimes a responsive reading (in some groups). The more formal liturgies have been abandoned by definition as somehow without purpose or viewed as tying back to the source of the errors that they "protested" against just a few centuries past.

And many will refer to it as to regimented and therefore declare that it cannot be of the Spirit. They consider that winging it is more spiritual, even if more bereft of content.

While I do not want a full EO or RCC liturgy, a more regimented service that is designed to do more than get everyone stirred-up and pointed toward the content of the coming sermon would be welcome. And sermons that are longer than the typical homily, but less theologically jam-packed than the typical sermon would be welcome. A shorter sermon that takes the scripture as it is found and brings it alive for us to consider in terms of our living in the week(s) ahead. The idea of always covering all of the items of the gospel in the way that, say, an RCC liturgy does may be a bit much, but it still is not an overall bad way to go.

I appreciate that our preacher does a "pastoral prayer" each week that, while not read, is pre-arranged, from its beginning with a segment of scripture (usually Psalms), through specific items of immediate concern, and including times for our own prayer and reflection, and prayer for the church, locally and universal (the EO and RCC included, though none by actual reference), the nation, and city. It is not written, but is well noted and not just "winged."

As for the reading of written prayers, I have a fair bit of appreciation for them, whether old ones from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) or others, new or old. Too often the "I'm going to just let the Spirit move me" prayers are convoluted with lots of fillers and by-products — religious/spiritual phrases, typically from scripture, that are always heard and too often mean that they are either trying to force God's hand by quoting Starfleet regulations back to him, or just making not much sound really spiritual. Yes, the written prayer may not have just rolled out of nowhere as you spoke, but that does not mean that there was not a lot of the Spirit in drafting it. The Spirit is not only instrumental when called on to ad lib. He is also instrumental in preparing for real worship.

Just like a song. I can write words for songs. They just typically do not fit well, rhyme, or have much merit. Want to sing those songs? Want to sing what they make up on the spot? I thought not.

Not Abolishing the Law and Prophets.

While I fully understand your reference and agree with it, you should consider that the law as mentioned in the particular passage cannot be understood to include simply everything in the Torah or any of the prophetic writings.

First, the law is essentially of three parts:

God and righteousness
Rituals of living (dietary laws, circumcision, etc.)
Sacrifices for sins

The writings of the prophets also cover these things, although mostly concerning God and righteousness.

The reference to not abolishing the Law and Prophets does not refer to all of the above.

It cannot be presumed to apply to the rituals, dietary laws, circumcision, etc. These are somewhat summarily dismissed in a couple of accounts in Acts. First, Peter's vision of the sheet full of "unclean" animals with the command to kill and eat, followed by the salvation of the Gentiles. Second, the counsel in Jerusalem in which they declared that even the rules of circumcision would not be placed onto the Gentile believers (no mention of Jews at this time).

Then we are specifically told (if we hadn't already figured it out) that the last sacrifice for sin has occurred. It was Jesus on the cross. The blood of bulls, goats, lambs, pigeons, etc., will do nothing. Besides, all the way back to the OT, and on through the NT, the "obedience is better than sacrifice" should complete that for us in the Christian era.

That really leaves "only" God and righteousness. (really a lot. . . not very "only") And that is summed up in the great commandment. Love God and lover your neighbor as yourself. Therefore the laws concerning God and righteousness remain.

As for the forms of worship, to think that the Jewish ways were simply the way and therefore preferred above any others, and think that not abolishing the law and prophets means it still is the way and others are deficient to abandon them is a grand case of eisegesis (sp?) — reading into the Bible. The record of the NT would provide a fair bit of variety in ways of worship. Getting special meaning out of inserting or omitting "the" or most other articles is generally an effort in trying to wag the dog. Assuming that not abolished means the old rituals are still required is a real stretch. Someone took an idea and went shopping for a verse or two to brow-beat into the service of supporting it.
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Old 05-04-2016, 04:36 PM   #51
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I don't think any Christian group is "doing" Christianity or "church services" similar to what was going on in the primitive church in Acts, which is probably a good thing given the mixture of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and masters, rich and poor that were together as followers of Jesus in those beginning days. What was undoubtably Jewish in flavor gradually changed as more Gentiles came to faith. To me the New Testament is profoundly reserved (not silent) regarding details on how to do "church". To be fair I think we need to admit that every branch of Christianity has a liturgy. Even we Protestants that proclaim "scripture alone" have a liturgy; it varies from Lutheran, Anglican, Calvinist, Baptist, Methodist, to Pentacostal, and all the others. Even the local church of WL has a liturgy and if you "mess" with it you are likely to be shown the door. It seems in His teachings Jesus kept it simple, and Paul and the other Apostles kept it simple; so simple that almost all Christian groups can explain how their practice "fits" these teachings. Compared to the lengthy Old Testament prescriptions on worshipping God the New Testament is surprisingly quiet; perhaps leaving plenty of room for the varied expression of worship as societies develop throughout time. Although I'm most comfortable with my evangelical Protestant approach to worship, I fully respect and will try to appreciate all the variety of expression of worship in Christ's Church.
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Old 05-05-2016, 12:15 PM   #52
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The scripture really does not provide a statement that we obtain divinity, but rather that we become like him (Christ). Like. Not of similar essence or stature.
Oh, I beg to disagree, I think that there is, indeed, some Scripture to that effect. Undeniably so!

Ephesians 3:19 says, and I quote, "and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God"

...and...Ephesians 4:13 says, "till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"

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Old 05-05-2016, 03:06 PM   #53
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Oh, I beg to disagree, I think that there is, indeed, some Scripture to that effect. Undeniably so!

Ephesians 3:19 says, and I quote, "and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God"

...and...Ephesians 4:13 says, "till we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God unto a perfect man unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ"

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Sorry. But only if you force certain meaning into the words in those verses.

Being filled with the fullness of God does not make you God any more than being filled with Mexican food makes you into a taco.

And the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is a yardstick for spiritual growth, not a declaration of gaining divinity as being part of your being (as opposed to being God empowering you).

In both you are falling onto premises that Lee (and probably others) have declared to be true simply because they say so. Those verses do not say what you are declaring comes from them.

Not saying that they can't mean that. But there is nothing in them that makes it so. Only a possible understanding. And given so many other places where the descriptions are more clearly not about becoming deified in that manner, to insist upon it is to clearly go beyond what is written. It would have been too easy to be more direct if something that unexpected was intended. To make it so soft that you have to push only marginally plausible renderings together in one verse to create something the plain meaning just can't give is just not enough to say that "it is written."
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Old 05-05-2016, 11:35 PM   #54
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Being filled with the fullness of God does not make you God any more than being filled with Mexican food makes you into a taco.

And the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is a yardstick for spiritual growth, not a declaration of gaining divinity as being part of your being (as opposed to being God empowering you)."
Mike, I like your metaphor but there is the ontological difference between the life-giving spirit and food.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

1 Corinthians 15:52
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

2 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

Man can't be of the same essence with God. We will always be the creature, and never the Creator. God will remain God, and we will remain His people. But I believe the fullness of Christ is much more than just spiritual growth. Becoming a partaker of our humanity, Christ opened the way for us to become partakers in His divinity. “For as He is, so are we in this world” (1 John 4:17).

Romans 6:3-6
Do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall also be raised together in the likeness of His resurrection. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer be the slaves of sin.

The verses above say that we will one day inherit a new resurrection body, just like the body of the risen Christ. It will be spiritual, glorious, holy, imperishable, immortal, and not inclined to sin. Isn't it deification?

This is still a mystery for us but the Scriptures say:

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)
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Old 05-06-2016, 02:27 AM   #55
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Sorry. But only if you force certain meaning into the words in those verses.

Being filled with the fullness of God does not make you God any more than being filled with Mexican food makes you into a taco.

And the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ is a yardstick for spiritual growth, not a declaration of gaining divinity as being part of your being (as opposed to being God empowering you).

In both you are falling onto premises that Lee (and probably others) have declared to be true simply because they say so. Those verses do not say what you are declaring comes from them.

Not saying that they can't mean that. But there is nothing in them that makes it so. Only a possible understanding. And given so many other places where the descriptions are more clearly not about becoming deified in that manner, to insist upon it is to clearly go beyond what is written. It would have been too easy to be more direct if something that unexpected was intended. To make it so soft that you have to push only marginally plausible renderings together in one verse to create something the plain meaning just can't give is just not enough to say that "it is written."
Allow me to paraphrase you, OBW; you said, that the Scripture does NOT provide any direct statement that we attain to the same stature as God.

I provided Scriptural evidence, and showed that actually "it IS written" that God's intention is that His children arrive at the very same stature as Him.

So, it is YOU who not only has gone beyond what is written, but in attempting to sound clever and academic, you have, in reality, gone "AGAINST what is written". This is clear.

Your response, on the surface, appears to have a semblance of intelligence, but a closer interrogation of your words (educated though they seem) reveal only that your whole argument is not thoroughly thought-out or well-reasoned at all.

And "to put the cherry on the pie," instead of ably and aptly refuting me, you elected to start lobbing tacos and tomatoes, tortillas, and burritos into your readers' faces! Is that not the infantile reaction of one who has been put on the spot and called out? (Your unfortunate choice of metaphor to dispute such weighty matters of deep spiritual truth is very sad, and also very telling -in that you sadlyfound it fit for use. The metaphor itself is intended merely as a joke whose comical effect lies in purposefully ignoring it's essential truth. A bar full of drunkards who'd been told the same joke would've got that).

I leave you with some favorite words of Scripture of mine: Paul's word to the Romans.

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools..."


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Old 05-06-2016, 05:39 AM   #56
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Just want to share two of my favorite Orthodox blogs:

1 Fr Stephen Freeman's Glory to God for All Things.

Why did the Lord have to die on the Cross?

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory...rist-life-man/

Good News – Your Debt is Being Cancelled

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/glory...ebt-cancelled/

2 Orthodox Road. Rediscovering the beauty of ancient Christianity.

What Orthodoxy Is: http://www.orthodoxroad.com/what-orthodoxy-is/
What Orthodoxy Isn’t: http://www.orthodoxroad.com/what-orthodoxy-isnt/

My Journey into The Ancient Church, Part 1

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/my-journ...cient-faith-1/

My Journey into The Ancient Church, Part 2

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/my-journ...church-part-2/

Scripture vs. Tradition

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/scripture-vs-tradition/

Things I Wish I’d Known Before Attending. A guide for your first venture to an Eastern Orthodox Church

http://www.orthodoxroad.com/things-i...ore-attending/
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:00 AM   #57
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Not saying that they can't mean that. But there is nothing in them that makes it so. Only a possible understanding. And given so many other places where the descriptions are more clearly not about becoming deified in that manner, to insist upon it is to clearly go beyond what is written. It would have been too easy to be more direct if something that unexpected was intended. To make it so soft that you have to push only marginally plausible renderings together in one verse to create something the plain meaning just can't give is just not enough to say that "it is written."
I like what OBW says here about "soft" readings. You see some word like "glory" or "image" or "fulness" and think it supports your reading. Like he says, there is nothing there that makes it so, or not so.

But where I have looked around, I see other readings that make it not so. Thus the idea, for example, of "shared glory" leading to special god-like status. Jesus said that eventually the Son is coming with the Father and the angels in glory, but the angels are not deified (although Origen, the early proponent of the idea, thought they were). See readings in Luke 9:26, "the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels."; also Mark 8:38, Matthew 16:27.

Oh, but the angels' glory is reflected glory - It's not intrinsic glory! Or some such... then the qualifications and parsings come out to support your reading, and to dismiss any other. Nah. I don't buy it. Like OBW says, if something so important was there, it would be clearly spelled out where we don't have to remonstrate over our ideas.

Did Jesus rise on the third day? Yep. Clearly spelled out by the written testimonies. Okay. Fine. But exegetical readings that need whipsawing through scripture don't have the same standing. And certainly not centrality or 'high peak' standing.

But I don't dismiss EO writings out of hand. They are part of the conversation. I hold them as equally important as Calvin and Luther. I spent years of my formative youth in California, where "Hey, man" was the universal greeting and anything goes was the universal ethos. Today I live in rigorous, cold and logical Germany and I love it. But I always remember my California Dreamin' days. Everyone was exactly who they were supposed to be at that moment in time. Everyone got received as they were. That's how Witness Lee got a following. Eventually he mesmerized his followers to listen to no one but him.

Today I try to listen to everyone, especially those who can shed light. The Orthodox Church is one. The Jews are another. Calvinists with their "I am always right" attitude not so much. But I respect them because that's where I was born. Paul taught, "Wherever you were when God called you, in this situation remain. Don't try to flee. Accept God's sovereign arrangement."

Peace out, Man. (and woman).
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:22 AM   #58
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Mike, I like your metaphor but there is the ontological difference between the life-giving spirit and food.

Philippians 3:20-21
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.

1 Corinthians 15:52
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

2 Peter 1:3 (KJV)
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
I won't take on all the verses at this time. But from the ones I do, you should see how response might come your way if I did.

First, it is Paul who made such a valiant attempt to describe the nature of the resurrected body of man by reference to what was observable about the resurrected body of Christ. The one verse you provide in 1 Cor 15 is part of that discussion. By taking it in isolation, you might imply something that is not there. But in the context of the whole, it is clear that the discussion is about a resurrected human body. Nothing about the nature of God or being deity or deified.

Same for the verses in Philippians. Same comments with a little more brevity. Nothing specifically saying that we gain status as deity. (And what is deification except to become deity?)

As for 1 Peter, to partake is much like the example of the taco. Not exactly. But in no way clearly like gaining deity as an aspect of one's self. To be like is not the same a being.

You have to understand that the word "like," without qualifier, only refers to reasonable similarity in appearance. If our creation was to bear God's image (not to bear his essence), then becoming truly "like" Him means that we have achieved the full image. It does not confer anything else.

If we instead say that we are "exactly like Him in every possible way," then we have said something different that simply "like" Him. And it does not say that. And based on usage, it should not be presumed to include everything in all ways when it only says "like." It is a misrepresentation of the words actually written. It is "beyond what is written."
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:15 AM   #59
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Nothing specifically saying that we gain status as deity. (And what is deification except to become deity?)
Mike, I think we understand the terminology differently. Probably, because for the Orthodox, God is not only essence but also His uncreated energies.

Deification is man’s union with God, wherein we participate in the uncreated energies of the Trinity.

The footnote commentary in the Orthodox Study Bible for 2 Peter 1:4 reads:

This [Theosis] does not mean we become divine by nature. If we participated in God’s essence, the distinction between God and man would be abolished. What this does mean is that we participate in God’s energy, described by a number of terms in scripture, such as glory, life, love, virtue, and power. We are to become like God by His grace and truly His adopted children, but never becoming God by nature.

BTW, here is how Calvin understood deification:

(1) How did Calvin understand 2 Peter 1:3-4? and (2) Did Calvin in fact believe in theosis? When we look at Institutes 3.25.10 we find something quite close to the Orthodox doctrine of theosis. The only difference is that Calvin seems to understand the conferring of divine glory, power, and righteousness as future events that accompany the resurrection, not as blessings for the current age. Calvin writes:

Indeed, Peter declares that believers are called in this to become partakers of the divine nature [II Peter 1:4]. How is this? Because “he will be . . . glorified in all his saints, and will be marveled at in all who have believed” [II Thess. 1:10]. If the Lord will share his glory, power, and righteousness with the elect—nay, will give himself to be enjoyed by them and, what is more excellent, will somehow make them to become one with himself, let us remember that every sort of happiness is included under this benefit. (Institutes 3.25.10)

Did Calvin affirm theosis? Consider the following:

Let us then mark, that the end of the gospel is, to render us eventually conformable to God, and, if we may so speak, to deify us. (Commentary 2 Peter 1:4)

But as we read on we find Calvin qualifying his earlier statement:

But the word nature is not here essence but quality. The Manicheans formerly dreamt that we are a part of God, and that, after having run the race of life we shall at length revert to our original. There are also at this day fanatics who imagine that we thus pass over into the nature of God, so that his swallows up our nature. (Commentary 2 Peter 1:4)

Thus, Calvin’s concern that theosis not be understood as our sharing in God’s essence is identical to Orthodoxy’s.

So, what did theosis mean for Calvin? He writes:

They [the Apostles] only intended to say that when divested of all the vices of the flesh, we shall be partakers of divine and blessed immortality and glory, so as to be as it were one with God as far as our capacities will allow. (Commentary 2 Peter)

For Calvin theosis consists of our “reverting to our original” state, that is, a return to Adam’s original pre-Fall condition. It appears that Calvin did not give much thought to the possibility that our union with Christ the Second Adam may result in something rather different. In other words, Calvin underestimated the significance of the Incarnation for our salvation.

Calvin assumes that theosis is accomplished through a process of the removing of the “vices of the flesh.” This is consistent with the moral or juridical understanding of salvation but to share in immortality and divine glory has ontological implications that Calvin seems reticent to pursue. Prof. J. Todd Billings in a 2005 Harvard Theological Review article examined Calvin’s understanding of deification and found that although Calvin interacted with the early church fathers his understanding of deification is “distinctive” (p. 334). Rather than follow in the hermeneutical tradition of the early church fathers, Calvin here is venturing off in his own direction with a new interpretation.

http://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthod...ion-in-christ/
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Old 05-06-2016, 10:33 AM   #60
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Aron, thank you for your comment! Orthodox theology is very different from those of Calvin and Luther. It's up to you to decide which theology is more correct. I for one choose Orthodoxy because they interpret the Bible through the lens of the Holy Fathers. Indeed, the Fathers could be wrong. (St Augustine, for example). But in Orthodoxy, criterion of truth is not one man's opinion but the consensus of the Fathers.

BTW, I came back from Germany last month. I have been 3 times there but only this time I have visited Rothenburg. What a town! If I had a choice, I would move to Rothenburg: beautiful, peaceful, and medieval. Well, that's from a tourist point of view.
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Old 05-06-2016, 06:46 PM   #61
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Fr Scott, could you please tell us what is your denomination? What church are you from?

Father, brothers and sisters, let's discuss ideas but not people. Personally, I believe I am the most foolish person on this forum. Please leave this "title" to me.
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Old 05-06-2016, 08:24 PM   #62
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Mike, I think we understand the terminology differently. Probably, because for the Orthodox, God is not only essence but also His uncreated energies....
How does the Orthodox view of theosis differ from that proffered by Lee and the LSM teaching brothers? Is there a significant difference?
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Old 05-06-2016, 09:55 PM   #63
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How does the Orthodox view of theosis differ from that proffered by Lee and the LSM teaching brothers? Is there a significant difference?
Unfortunately, I don't know much about WL's teaching on theosis.

Orthodox theology says that although the Son of God became man and is God-man, His two natures remain distinct. One does not absorb the other. The two natures are distinct and separate, united in the same person, Christ. He is “dual in nature, but one person.” Two natures, one person.

I might be mistaken but from what I read (in Russian) about WL’s views on deification, he seemed to believe that in Christ -- God's nature and human nature mingled together and became one nature. It means the two natures were neither distinct nor separate.

According to WL, our human spirit and the divine spirit (or the Holy Spirit) can mingle together and become one spirit. In other words, man can blend with God/ partake in God's essence.

(Besides, WL's idea that, with Adam's fall, Satan entered human body/nature is totally foreign to Orthodoxy).
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Old 05-07-2016, 06:22 AM   #64
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Anyway, I think that the most significant difference is not in theory but in practice.

Most of us Orthodox Christians are not perfect. We are not any better than other Christians. As a matter of fact, most of us are just great sinners (including me). However, the Orthodox Church still produces great saints, men and women of prayer, piety, and holy life. It is those people whose humility, ascetic life, and spiritual struggle against their passions helped them gain the virtues of a Christ-like life. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul identified these as:

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control . . . . And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit . . . he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal 5.22–25; 6.8).

The nine attributes of a Christian life according to St Paul testify to the fact that the love of God and the love of neighbor are inseparable. So, it is a good test to check if a Christian is on the right track towards his union with God or not.

As for me, I would fail this test. I have none of the virtues. But we judge a church by her saints and not by her sinners.

Looking at the Lord’s Recovery, they have their own great "saints": WN and WL. We will leave the rumors about WN aside. As for WL, there are lots of facts about his life so we can apply the test to check his 'sanctification'.

Would Witness Lee pass the test or fail it? Did he have the fruit of the Holy Spirit? And what about "the blended brothers?" Are they the image of Christ or the image of WL? Well, it is up to you to decide. But as far as I can see from the lives of my relatives who have been active in the Lord’s Recovery for ages, their spiritual life doesn't lead them anywhere.

I believe it is a tragedy: whatever they do in the Lord’s Recovery, their activity doesn't bring them to Christ. Generally, they are nice people: kind and sincere. But no matter how much they desire and struggle to be perfected in Jesus Christ, they end up being perfected in Witness Lee.

The problem is not with them but with the system. The LC is a man-centered organization, not a Christ-centered church. It's all about WL, his gospel, and his speculations and it's so little about the Lord, His Gospel, and His commandments. As someone wise said, "A true prophet brings people to the Lord. A false prophet brings people to himself."

I might be mistaken but I think WL, his teaching, and practices is a serious barrier towards union with Christ. A Witness Lee-like life and a Christ-like life are not the same. I pray for my dear wife and other relatives so that they see the difference.
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Old 05-10-2017, 06:42 AM   #65
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How to create a Protestant splinter cell, by Aron

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I believe it is a tragedy: whatever they do in the Lord’s Recovery, their activity doesn't bring them to Christ. Generally, they are nice people: kind and sincere. But no matter how much they desire and struggle to be perfected in Jesus Christ, they end up being perfected in Witness Lee.

The problem is not with them but with the system. The LC is a man-centered organization, not a Christ-centered church. It's all about WL, his gospel, and his speculations and it's so little about the Lord, His Gospel, and His commandments. As someone wise said, "A true prophet brings people to the Lord. A false prophet brings people to himself."

I might be mistaken but I think WL, his teaching, and practices is a serious barrier towards union with Christ. A Witness Lee-like life and a Christ-like life are not the same. I pray for my dear wife and other relatives so that they see the difference.
Why is it that the Orthodox church never had a Reformation? Why is it that the weird groups come out of the Protestants?

First, one of them gets a special word from a special Bible verse. Think of the so-called Latter Rain movement, and/or the New Apostolic Reformation, or Witness Lee and his proprietary 'revelations', or the Shouter spin-off the EL ("As the lightning from east to west, so shall. . .")

(Does the EO not believe in justification by faith? Why did no Luther rise up within its ranks?)

The revelator now has a fulcrum to separate the flock unto himself/herself. The focus shifts from the Bible to the revelation, so-called, and thence from the revelation to the person of the revelator themselves. In extreme cases like with the EL, the Bible itself is done away with as passe, and the speaking of the revelator reigns alone. In more moderate cases like with the LSM LC, the 'interpreted word' of the 'seer' guides one through the text, and the 'interpreted word' (teachings) tell the acolytes whether the text is 'fallen' or 'revelatory' and to what degree.

Revelation after revelation, splinter cell after splinter cell. It seems every time someone gets a vision, a new group is formed.
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Old 05-10-2017, 11:49 PM   #66
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Why is it that the Orthodox church never had a Reformation? Why is it that the weird groups come out of the Protestants?
So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter. (2 Thes 2.15)

Aron, I agree with you.

In my opinion, Sola Scriptura (in fact, which is one's personal interpretation of the Bible), the lack of Apostolic Succession and, of course, the human factor, are the reasons of every revelation after revelation.

Let me quote Dr. Jeannie Constantinou from her podcast:

Quote:
Paul... also learned the apostolic tradition and passed it on just as he himself had received it. And that’s one of the important things in the concept of tradition: that you preserve what you receive, you don’t just take part of it, the part that you like, and pass that on and leave the rest behind. You pass it on whole, entire, well-preserved. So this is also extremely important.

In the Orthodox Church, we understand what Tradition is. The other churches have their own traditions, but they don’t adhere to Apostolic Tradition to the extent that we do. And frankly, that is the reason for our very strong unity of faith, for the fact that we do not have tremendous theological factions. We don’t have a wide-variety of opinions about basic doctrine and practices because we have made it our point to keep the Apostolic Tradition unchanged. That’s really the distinguishing characteristic of the Orthodox Church, this is exactly what St. Paul is talking about, and this is the meaning of Tradition. This, frankly, is the role of the bishop. You see, the bishop now stands in the place of the apostles. There are no more apostles, but the bishop stands in the role of the apostles. When an Orthodox bishop is ordained, the first thing that he does is recite the Creed. Why does he stand up in front of the congregation and recite the Nicene Creed? He says, “I believe in one God the Father Almighty,” and he recites the Creed, so that you will know that he teaches the Apostolic faith. The number one role of the bishop in the Church, aside from the many different purposes he serves in the Church, is to preserve Apostolic Tradition, because this is what they inherited from the Apostles. So when we speak about Apostolic succession, it’s not a mechanical thing, some nice idea or concept. It means that they stand in the succession of the Apostles because they have received the Tradition, and they’re passing it on to the next bishops who come after them, without altering it in any manner.

http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/103305.htm
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Does the EO not believe in justification by faith?
Salvation is indeed by grace. But if we fail to put our faith into action, our faith is purely intellectual, “lip service”. In other words, if we accept Christ as the Son of the Living God and the Savior of the world, yet we fail to bring His love to others around us, then we are liars. Hence, faith without such good works is dead.

Fr Michael Shanbour, an Orthodox priest from Wenatchee, Washington, says in his interview:

Quote:
The Orthodox Church teaches, as do the Holy Scriptures, that we are saved by grace through faith. The question is, “What is grace and how is it acquired (i.e. what is faith)?”

The Church Fathers teach that grace is the very life that flows naturally and eternally from God. It is the real, life-bestowing power that brings us into communion with Him.

Think back to the story of the woman with the issue of blood. St. Veronica, as we know her in the Orthodox Church, touched the hem of Christ’s garment in faith. The Lord knew she touched Him because, as He said, “I perceived power going out from Me” (Lk. 8:46). This power is none other than His divine grace.

Grace is the energy that allows us to participate in God’s life. It is as real as (and more real than) the light and warmth of the sun by which we truly experience the sun. But unlike the created energy of the sun, God’s energies (as grace is called by the Fathers) are uncreated. God’s uncreated energies (i.e. grace) allow us to partake in Him and to know Him. St. Basil the Great wrote: “It is by the energies that we can say we know our God.”

All this means that grace is not merely an idea about God’s forgiveness in Christ. It is not a change in God’s “attitude” toward a person. It is not a mere release from “guilt.” It is the very life-giving, transforming, divine power and uncreated energies of God Himself. It is always received as a gift of God (never “earned”) by those who open their hearts and lives to receive it. And this grace saves inasmuch as it brings one into intimate union with the One who is Salvation...

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/behin...race-shanbour/
I do recommend to read the whole interview as well as Fr Michael's new book “Know The Faith: A Handbook For Orthodox Christians And Inquirers”. One can find a sample chapter on the AncientFaith website:

http://store.ancientfaith.com/know-the-faith/
https://www.amazon.com/Know-Faith-Ha.../dp/B01MG1SCS7
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:15 AM   #67
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ICA, thanks for the reply. As you know, I'm a Protestant & a child of Protestants. It is the very human tradition and culture (and yet divinely inspired to a degree) I inherited when, in a Baptist congregation, I confessed the faith, that I am a sinner, and God loved me and sent His Son Jesus Christ. And Paul's advice, "in what you were saved, in this remain" has long seemed applicable, here.

But lately I've been examining the "recovery" narrative and it seems truncated, perhaps deliberately so. I know that Luther reacted within a sphere of late Middle Age thought and experience. Likewise, with Watchman Nee, Leland Wang, & others of the early 20th-century Chinese christians. In both cases the RCC dominated, in 16th century Western Europe literally; in Asia 400 years later Nee could confidently look to "the harlot and her daughters" in his narrative. Conceptually that's all there was. Western European & American sociopolitical might, and religious hegemony prevailed without challenge.

But a hundred years later we'd have to be deliberately obtuse to keep such a story as our primary motif. It just isn't so. Why can't we humble ourselves, even a little bit? Where's the seeking heart, the open-ness?
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Old 05-11-2017, 03:51 AM   #68
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Aron, it's always nice to talk to you. Years ago, thanks to your thoughtful advice and your kind words about the EOC and the Church Fathers, I got back to my roots and started to explore Orthodoxy.

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And Paul's advice, "in what you were saved, in this remain"
Sorry, Aron, could you please tell me which verse is this? I can't find it in English. Can it be 1 Corinthians 7:20-21? Or 1 Corinthians 7:23-24? Or maybe some other verse? What is the context of the advice?
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Old 05-11-2017, 05:03 AM   #69
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Aron, it's always nice to talk to you. Years ago, thanks to your thoughtful advice and your kind words about the EOC and the Church Fathers, I got back to my roots and started to explore Orthodoxy.
Sorry, Aron, could you please tell me which verse is this? I can't find it in English. Can it be 1 Corinthians 7:20-21? Or 1 Corinthians 7:23-24? Or maybe some other verse? What is the context of the advice?
Should be this entire section in I Corinthians 7.17-24, repeated in almost every verse.
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Old 05-11-2017, 07:23 AM   #70
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Should be this entire section in I Corinthians 7.17-24, repeated in almost every verse.
Yes, 1 Cor 7. I think it's applicable. "Come out of her, my people", applied too liberally, makes us all leave one another alone. Nobody is perfect.

And the "her" of LSM LC lore was the Great Harlot sitting on the seven hills of Rome. That was all that Luther could see. Hardly blame him for posting his ideas on the door in Wittenberg.

But again, why no Luther rose up in the EOC? The RCC has spawned division after division. By rights I should have titled my mini-essay, "How to create a post-RCC splinter cell" because the Anglicans and thus the Wesleyans were not perforce Protestants. But they were all post-RCC. (Watchman Nee was educated in an Anglican school).

But the EOC never got "reformed" or "recovered". . . interesting to think about. Puts the "restored church" narrative in a new light, for me. I heard it so many times, and never really thought about it much. Took it for granted.

And not only that, but Witness Lee said that everyone who got a vision created a division, except somehow Nee was exempt from this rule. And only he and Nee could see revelations in the scriptural text; anyone else who tried to see anything was ambitious for power. Again, somehow (magically?) he & Nee were immune from self-interest, bias, corruption and self-delusion.

(And I do remain thankful for my Baptist roots, but am no longer proud of them. We have no room for pride of place on this earth. Pride creates false judgment which creates division, isolation, paranoia, darkness. And then Christ has died in vain - no, we must not have it. "Receive those whom God has received in Christ Jesus" said the apostle. . . amen.)
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Old 05-11-2017, 10:00 AM   #71
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. . . I got back to my roots and started to explore Orthodoxy
I don't think you were placed randomly in Orthodoxy. God does not move in a vain way. Among other attributes, Our Father is a God of purpose.

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In my opinion, Sola Scriptura (in fact, which is one's personal interpretation of the Bible), the lack of Apostolic Succession and, of course, the human factor, are the reasons of every revelation after revelation.

Let me quote Dr. Jeannie Constantinou from her podcast
I like the points about the bishops. How remarkable that there is no history of bishops getting "up-to-date-truths" which lead them to form new sects! What a constrast to the post-RCC world!

I came to this consideration, and response, after reading about a group recently sprung up. Mike Bickle and the Kansas City (Missouri) International House of Prayer. Along with this, the "Toronto Blessing", the "Lakeland Revival", and the "New Apostolic Reformation". Very little scripture is used; instead it is subjective impressions. Scripture can mean whatever you want it to mean - context has vanished in the hub-bub. "God is doing thus and such", is confidently proclaimed. There is continual excitement, signs and wonders, and from what I can see much confusion. Each new prophet claims the final truth to end the age.

Compared to this, the Church Fathers and the testimony passed through the ages, while safe, seems tame, or even torpid. But it's not - if you touch the flame they touched. And by contrast the "latest and greatest" and "central lane of God's present move" begins to look like manufactured fluff, or worse, like flat-out delusion.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:51 AM   #72
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Ohio, Aron, thank you brothers.

Just checked with Chrysostom and Theophylact. They interpret I Corinthians 7:17-24 as "Live as You Are Called". If God's call was to you as a circumcised man or as an uncircumcised man; as a slave or as a freedman - abide in that condition.
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Old 05-12-2017, 02:59 AM   #73
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But again, why no Luther rose up in the EOC? The RCC has spawned division after division... But the EOC never got "reformed" or "recovered". . . interesting to think about.
Aron, I am not sure if you agree with Fr Steven Freeman, an Orthodox priest. He calls it a miracle: "The miracle of the Church (and it must be called nothing less than a miracle) is that it received such teaching, and maintained such teaching, rejecting all attempts to change what had been given once and for all. I speak of this as a miracle because the New Testament describes Churches that were as weak and sin-laden in their beginnings as is the Church of the 21st century. This same Church, despite every weakness and sin, survived Emperors (I think many of them to have been as at least as dangerous as many heretics), persecutions, attacks from within and without. And despite the nightmare of the Dhimmitude, Communist oppression and assaults by modern philosophies, the Church and its Apostolic faith abides."

Personally, I do believe that the Orthodox Church is the "pillar and the ground of truth" (I Timothy 3:15). Otherwise, I would keep on looking for a "better", "recovered" or "restored church", which is a religious utopia. Among Russian Orthodox, there is such a common description of the Church: "The Church is gathering of repentant sinners, united by the Holy Spirit". The work of the Holy Spirit can be the key to the question and its mystery.

In another article, Fr. Stephen Freeman adds "...if we move away from the question of the One God and begin to think about the One Church, again, everyone immediately assumes a meaning that seems obvious: mathematics. But the Church is One, even as God is One:

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one… (Jn. 17:20-22).

Birthed into the Church by Baptism, we enter into a new kind of existence. St. Paul hammers at this new existence on the theme of the “one.”

But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. (1 Co 12:11-13)

And,

…that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ (1 Co 12:25-27).

...For many, the current plague of schism has become a manifestation of modern diversity. “Different people like different things! Why not different Churches? After all, we’re all really one!”

If we are in Christ, then indeed, we are one. But the mystery of that Divine reality has nothing to do with contemporary denominationalism. If we are in Christ, then if one suffers we all suffer. I suggest (and assert), that we are indeed one, and some, known only to God, are living out the mysterious suffering on behalf of all that preserves us as one beyond our ability to perceive.

Just as we should stand before the mystery of the One God in awe, so we should stand before the mystery of the Church. The Church is the “pillar and ground of truth,” the “fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

I always find it difficult to explain to the non-Orthodox, that I accept the Orthodox Church as the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church because there is no other way to accept and be united with the One Church. Life in the One Church is a mode of existence, and a necessary existence for the knowledge of the One God. To renounce this, or to hold it at some distance, is to renounce the unity that is Christ’s prayer and to embrace the scattered mind of modern man. The healing of my scattered mind is intimately part of my salvation.

What I can say – and what I mean to say in this article – is that our salvation is worked out through union with the One God. The fragmentation and scattered mind of modernity is contrary to the life of salvation. The Church as a multitude of choices, styles and theologies, is not the Church as salvation, as delivered to us in the Scriptures. To stand before the fragmented universe is to confess that a major portion of the journey has yet to be taken. In our many Christian permutations, the One God has become only one god. And he lives in competition with the many gods. Such a god is fittingly worshiped in the many and varied temples of the competing world.

Before the One, True God everything rightly comes to a standstill. There the mind must cease its fragmentation and frenetic scattering and be quiet. Then the journey begins.”
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Old 05-13-2017, 04:57 AM   #74
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Ohio, Aron, thank you brothers.

Just checked with Chrysostom and Theophylact. They interpret I Corinthians 7:17-24 as "Live as You Are Called". If God's call was to you as a circumcised man or as an uncircumcised man; as a slave or as a freedman - abide in that condition.
InChristAlone,

I have a friend who faithfully attends the Ukrainian OC, having grown up in the Russian OC. He is the only contact I ever had with the OC, and here in the USA, the OC has almost no visible presence.

Anyways, the difficulty I have is with their archaic structures, which seem so contrary to the NT church. For example, every part of service has symbolism and deeper meaning. This to me is indicative of the OT and not the NT, which severely limits symbolism to communion and baptism.

My friend told me that St John wrote the liturgy centuries ago. While it may be excellent, it still is not the scripture and also limits the Spirit from speaking freshly today.

I get what you and aron are saying about endless Protestant spinoffs, but the EOC does not provide for most a suitable alternative. Sure there are dangers in these spinoffs, but the environment often facilitates fresh pursuits of the Lord Himself, returning solely to His word, which does not seem possible in the EOC.

I'm not so sure that a continuous connection back to the church fathers always is better than freshly returning to the scriptures alone. Comments?
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:49 PM   #75
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My friend told me that St John wrote the liturgy centuries ago. While it may be excellent, it still is not the scripture and also limits the Spirit from speaking freshly today.

I get what you and aron are saying about endless Protestant spinoffs, but the EOC does not provide for most a suitable alternative. Sure there are dangers in these spinoffs, but the environment often facilitates fresh pursuits of the Lord Himself, returning solely to His word, which does not seem possible in the EOC.

I'm not so sure that a continuous connection back to the church fathers always is better than freshly returning to the scriptures alone. Comments?
Ohio, it is a good question. But I don't quite understand what "the Spirit speaks freshly" means. God is always the same, yesterday, and today, and tomorrow. If the Spirit speaks freshly today, does it mean that His yesterday's word is different or not fresh?

Orthodox liturgy is very sober, however, it doesn't limit the Spirit. Yes, you cannot find any kind of exaltation in the liturgical worship. But the goal of the service is not ecstasy or emotional delight or intellectual challenge but communion with God. The liturgy is preparation for communion.

Most of the liturgical service is prayer - prayer of repentance, gloryfication, and thanksgiving. At the middle of the service we hear the words of the New Testament. The pinnacle of the worship is the Holy Communion (Eucharist). The Eucharist, the Lord’s Banquet, is the center of our Christian life. It is the mystical communion of men with God, with each other, and with all men and all things in Him through Christ and the Spirit.

So, we are not looking for a fresh revelation or a modern high peak truth about God. Not only because God is always the same but also because we human beings are not able to comprehend God intellectually, with our limited understanding. Therefore, we are not looking for a new knowledge about God. We are looking for union with Him, in spirit and truth. In other words, our goal is not to know about God but to know God. And that is the goal of the Church, and of the Liturgy, and of our Christian life.

God bless.

PS About the liturgy:

https://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthod...divine-liturgy

http://www.stnicholastacoma.org/our-faith/liturgy

http://3saints.com/divine-liturgy.html
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Old 05-15-2017, 07:31 AM   #76
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Ohio, it is a good question. But I don't quite understand what "the Spirit speaks freshly" means. God is always the same, yesterday, and today, and tomorrow. If the Spirit speaks freshly today, does it mean that His yesterday's word is different or not fresh?
Not to be objectionable here, but for some people to say, "God is always the same, yesterday, and today, and tomorrow," basically means that God has become a dead idol to them, like the statue or the picture on the wall, which has not changed for centuries. That is not the relationship of a Father and a son, or a Master and a servant, that the Bible speaks of.

When I said that "the Spirit speaks freshly" to us individually or corporately in a church setting, I was referring to a score of verses like John 14.26, "The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things," John 16.13, "When He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality, and whatever He hears from Me that He will speak to you."

We, as the children of the living God, do not live and worship according to dead letter or ancient liturgy, but we walk by the Spirit. That is our calling. This is how all the Patriarchs and the Apostles walked, not by structured formalities, regardless of how wonderful they were when originally ordered.

Does that make sense?

Sorry, I don't have time to peruse your links.
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Old 05-15-2017, 10:28 AM   #77
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InChristAlone,

I have a friend who faithfully attends the Ukrainian OC, having grown up in the Russian OC. He is the only contact I ever had with the OC, and here in the USA, the OC has almost no visible presence.

Anyways, the difficulty I have is with their archaic structures, which seem so contrary to the NT church. For example, every part of service has symbolism and deeper meaning. This to me is indicative of the OT and not the NT, which severely limits symbolism to communion and baptism.

My friend told me that St John wrote the liturgy centuries ago. While it may be excellent, it still is not the scripture and also limits the Spirit from speaking freshly today.

I get what you and aron are saying about endless Protestant spinoffs, but the EOC does not provide for most a suitable alternative. Sure there are dangers in these spinoffs, but the environment often facilitates fresh pursuits of the Lord Himself, returning solely to His word, which does not seem possible in the EOC.

I'm not so sure that a continuous connection back to the church fathers always is better than freshly returning to the scriptures alone. Comments?
There is much to say positively and negatively about the EOC, the RCC, and Protestantism. And there is almost no topic that is simply one way or the other.

I agree that the "yesterday, today, and forever" comment about God's non-changing is problematic. But mostly because of what is understood by the passage. Even that passage has context. It does not say that God is a fixed, never-changing ruler. It says that the character and nature of God are not subject to whimsy.

But Moses prayed God off of the "ledge" of wiping out the Children of Israel on more than one occasion. And those are not the only examples.

But at the same time, it is impossible to simply dismiss a liturgy because it is old. A well drafted liturgy, written from the inspiration of the Spirit, is useful forever. The problem is in the participant, not the liturgy. That does not mean that everyone should be using a more ancient-styled liturgy. But if they do, it is not the basis for dismissing them or considering them in some way poorer than we are.

And the kind of me-centered worship that many modern evangelical places engage in begs for replacement with an old liturgy that returns our focus to Christ (and not just what Christ can do for me). Besides, for 3/4ths of the Christian era, liturgies helped to teach much to people who, even if they could read, didn't own anything to read. So everything they got was what went home with them in their minds from the liturgy, creeds, and the homily (or sermon if longer).

The idea that the Spirit does not lead to do something the same way again is a presumption of the modern era when we think we don't need to be reminded of where we came from. To be challenged to repent anew at least each week. To recite more than just a longer doctrinal statement (in the form of a creed). I find that modern Christians know a lot of stuff but too often do not have much to show for it in their lives except when they point to their evangelistic efforts or a mission trip.

Their Christianity is about bearing more branches, not bearing fruit.
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Old 05-15-2017, 05:55 PM   #78
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The early church communions were relatively simple affairs and included the love feast, or communal meal. Much was done around food and eating. In today's denominations, after a well-rehearsed and highly choreographed performance (aka the liturgy (Catholic), or 'worship service' (pentecostal)), you'd be be lucky to get a dry biscuit and a cup of tea, or they even make you pay for it.
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Old 05-16-2017, 02:57 AM   #79
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I find that modern Christians know a lot of stuff but too often do not have much to show for it in their lives except when they point to their evangelistic efforts or a mission trip.

Their Christianity is about bearing more branches, not bearing fruit.
Sometimes I'd see Jehovah's Witnesses at the park, standing next to a cardboard kiosk holding flyers. To them, this signified obedience to the charge to be witnesses to His name. And the Church of Christ ("all the churches of Christ greet you" - very biblical!) were busy trying to recruit fellow 'disciples' who'd in turn recruit others. "He who believes and is baptised (in CoC water, natch) will be saved."

All of these groups, and dozens more, are based on the "fresh light" and subjective "me and my Bible" programmes. I do think that God loves to speak to us in His word. But that speaking should be rooted and grounded in His speaking to the larger flock, including the historical church through the millenia. Else we'll dismiss all but our current word as the "traditions of men" and become deceived, self-obsessed dried branches, making more dried branches.

To me the proof is in the pudding. God's speaking draws us together, in love. The deceiver divides and scatters. So look before you leap. Faith doesn't mean reckless naivete.
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Old 05-16-2017, 08:40 AM   #80
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Brothers, I am sorry for it takes me too much time to reply.

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"God is always the same, yesterday, and today, and tomorrow," basically means that God has become a dead idol to them, like the statue or the picture on the wall, which has not changed for centuries. That is not the relationship of a Father and a son, or a Master and a servant, that the Bible speaks of.
Ohio, I have a different perspective. To me, the verse speaks about the unchanging nature of God. Languages, styles, values, cultures, and ideas change but God remains faithful and unchangeable. He is faithful and unchanging toward humankind because unchangeably true to His own nature. God doesn’t change but we may. Not only because we have a free will but also because of our fallen nature.

We can choose to be united to Christ, or fail and turn our faith, the Holy Bible or God Himself into a dead idol. This can happen to anyone in any church, with any kind of worship. As they say, “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to the garage makes you a car.” Therefore, denomination doesn’t matter. For example, I can blame followers of Witness Lee for turning him into an idol but I cannot see that I myself turned the Bible or a pastor/minister/professor/priest or even my personal opinion into my own idol.

The Church exists to bring men and women into communion with God through Christ. Reading the lives of Orthodox saints, ancient and modern, I can definitely say that they reached union with God, becoming Christ-like, more than other people that I have met.

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When I said that "the Spirit speaks freshly" to us individually or corporately in a church setting, I was referring to a score of verses like John 14.26, "The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things," John 16.13, "When He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality, and whatever He hears from Me that He will speak to you."

We, as the children of the living God, do not live and worship according to dead letter or ancient liturgy, but we walk by the Spirit. That is our calling. This is how all the Patriarchs and the Apostles walked, not by structured formalities, regardless of how wonderful they were when originally ordered.
Again, I will be speaking from the Orthodox point of view. The verse (John 16:13) had been said almost 2000 years ago, before the New Testament or the Church existed. The Orthodox Church was founded on the Day of Holy Pentecost in Jerusalem in 33 AD, fifty days after the Holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, in 2017, I can testify that the Holy Spirit has always spoken in the Church – through the Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers, The Church Fathers, saints, bishops, priests and common people of holy and righteous life. The Holy Spirit has always guided the Church. That’s why we have four Gospels, canon of the Bible, Christian dogmas, liturgical worship, Trinitarian theology, the correct (i.e. the Holy Fathers’) understanding of the Bible. Every Orthodox Christian will agree with the words of St. Ignatius Brianchaninov: “Having pronounced the word of God through the prophets and apostles, the Holy Spirit expounded upon it through the Holy Fathers. And both the word of God and its explanation are gifts of the Holy Spirit. Whoever explains the Gospels and all the Scriptures according to his own will thus rejects the explanation of them by the holy fathers, the Holy Spirit. Whoever rejects the explanation of Scripture by the Holy Spirit, undoubtedly rejects also the Holy Scriptures themselves.”

The Holy Spirit keeps the unity of faith in the Church. Therefore, we don’t have novelties such as gay marriage or female priesthood. And we don’t have splinter groups with new revelations.

Of course, my opinion is subjective but it comes from my experience. I don't think that we worship according to dead letter or ancient liturgy. I believe that we worship in spirit and truth. Let me explain what I mean:

You know that man consists of three “things”: body, soul, and spirit. Spirit is the highest/supreme part of man’s soul which connects us to the Source of Life, God, Our Heavenly Father. However, since Adam’s fall, our sins have separated us from God. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Holy Fathers that through repentance, prayer, humility, fasting, the Sacraments of the Church (such as the Holy Communion), fulfilling the Gospels commandments and struggle against our passions, we raise our spirit to God. Only when we are cleansed from passions, we are able to know God through our human spirit. This is not something intellectual or emotional. It is a spiritual experience, cooperation between God and man, where, of course, the main part of work belongs to God. After all, we are saved by God’s grace.

As for worship in truth, as an Orthodox Christian, I believe that the Orthodox Church preserves the fullness and completeness of the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Orthodox Church history can be traced from Jesus Himself, directly to modern times without interruption. Each Orthodox bishop and priest can trace his ordination back to the Apostles. The apostolic lineage of the ordaining bishop is important because bishops preserve the faith. (BTW, the Greek word for bishop (episkopos) means ‘overseer’.) Thus, we don’t have self-proclaimed or self-styled pastors who can preach from their own personal understanding, distorting the Gospel message, getting a new vision, or changing their opinion every new day. So, worship in truth means worship in true faith, in the fullness of the truth, received from the Apostles. At least that is how I understand it.

Orthodox Christians believe the purpose of life is for men and women to be united to God. We believe that through our union with God, we are enabled to grow into true humanity. Jesus Christ shows us what that true humanity is: a humanity freed of its self-centeredness and self-seeking, and thereby enabled to truly love God and all that He created (including the crown of His creation- all human beings). We believe it is our destiny to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and the grace of God bestowed through the Sacraments (Mysteries), to attain the true humanity that we lost through our fall into sin.

Simply put, our goal is to become Christ-like. If we become Christ-like, we worship God in spirit and truth (and vice versa).
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:28 AM   #81
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Again, I will be speaking from the Orthodox point of view. The verse (John 16:13) had been said almost 2000 years ago, before the New Testament or the Church existed. The Orthodox Church was founded on the Day of Holy Pentecost in Jerusalem in 33 AD, fifty days after the Holy Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, in 2017, I can testify that the Holy Spirit has always spoken in the Church – through the Apostles, the Apostolic Fathers, The Church Fathers, saints, bishops, priests and common people of holy and righteous life. The Holy Spirit has always guided the Church. That’s why we have four Gospels, canon of the Bible, Christian dogmas, liturgical worship, Trinitarian theology, the correct (i.e. the Holy Fathers’) understanding of the Bible.
If by "Church" you mean the body of Christ, then I agree.

If by "Church" you mean the EOC, then I disagree. Why would the Holy Spirit need to speak to the EOC or guide the EOC, when their liturgy and service structure was completely established almost 2,000 years ago? Your priests and church members have been doing the same thing every week and every year for their whole life. They could have service in their sleep. Some I'm sure do.

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The Holy Spirit keeps the unity of faith in the Church. Therefore, we don’t have novelties such as gay marriage or female priesthood. And we don’t have splinter groups with new revelations.
I have read of groups of believers breaking away from the EOC, to follow the Lord and break free from extra-Biblical and unending traditions. It has not always been as peaceful and unified as you portray. In fact, sorry to say, the EOC leaders have often cooperated with the authorities to snuff out many so-called "splinter groups" over the centuries.

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As for worship in truth, as an Orthodox Christian, I believe that the Orthodox Church preserves the fullness and completeness of the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Apostles. Orthodox Church history can be traced from Jesus Himself, directly to modern times without interruption. Each Orthodox bishop and priest can trace his ordination back to the Apostles. The apostolic lineage of the ordaining bishop is important because bishops preserve the faith. (BTW, the Greek word for bishop (episkopos) means ‘overseer’.) Thus, we don’t have self-proclaimed or self-styled pastors who can preach from their own personal understanding, distorting the Gospel message, getting a new vision, or changing their opinion every new day. So, worship in truth means worship in true faith, in the fullness of the truth, received from the Apostles. At least that is how I understand it.
I Tim 1.4 tells us, "not to occupy ourselves with unending genealogies." This is why I reject any claims at leadership lineage in the church, whether it be popes, MOTA's, or EOC bishops. Just because you call them bishops (overseers) means little. Names don't a spiritual man make. Neither does belittling other ministers as "self-proclaimed or self-styled pastors" take away their spiritual maturity in Christ.
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:23 AM   #82
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Ohio, thank you. I respect your opinion though I don't share it.

God bless.
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:34 AM   #83
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Why would the Holy Spirit need to speak to the EOC or guide the EOC, when their liturgy and service structure was completely established almost 2,000 years ago? Your priests and church members have been doing the same thing every week and every year for their whole life. They could have service in their sleep. Some I'm sure do.
I realize you speak from some level of experience.

And I really understand what you are saying. But at the same time, despite bad experiences in that kind of situation, are we sure that consistency is the enemy of the Spirit? Is following a "script" that has been used for centuries any more or less likely to allow the Spirit to speak to us?

How often do we hear speaking on the same passage that is not even presenting some novel new way of looking at it and we suddenly have an "aha" moment with realization of something we never saw before. When you reach your 60s and have heard virtually every passage in the Bible preached on multiple times, how is it that we still find something new in even the most "common" of passages? Is it really because the preacher said something different this time? Sometimes it surely is. But always? Does the Spirit not often speak to us when He does in the way he does despite the content of the sermon, book, blog, or even small Bible study?

But the leading is in the people who make up whatever group you are talking about. Being somewhat regimented in the way in which we are taught, along with the consistent reminders of the core aspects of our faith do not require modernizing to be real. The problem is that we have minds that are full of the cares of the world, or are hardened to the Word. Something like the parable of the soil.

Now I am not speaking as a proponent of EOC or RCC liturgies as being "the" way. But they are not simply "anti Spirit" because they were written down (for the most part) decades, or even centuries ago. I look at much of today's worship and see a new "cult of me" that is very enjoyable and seemingly alive. And while those songs are not bad, I do not believe that they always make for true worship. When the part of Christ in a song is as the cure for my problem (which is the bulk of the song), then what are we singing about? When the sermon is primarily about knowing details of theology better, but that theology is not made meaningful to my life this week, what did we learn?

Is our worship a dissection of God for the purpose of better knowledge that does us no earthly good. Or is it a turn to the One who made us, loves us, and saves us, coupled with something meaningful to my living (outside of my morning prayers and reading). I still get 35 to 30 minute sermons from a DTS graduate, but sometimes I wonder if what we really need is a 15 to 20 minute homily that talks about the passage in terms of revealing Christ and revealing something meaningful to my life (still from a DTS grad) placed strategically within the totality of worship that includes song and prayer, reading, reciting, and listening. Refreshing our minds in the basics that lead us through life. "Christ is the processed, transformed Spirit in our spirit for the building of the body of Christ" or any non-LRC equivalent really doesn't do anything for my life. It is only meaningful as a part of a life that is exiting this life to be isolationist and sectarian. And it is being used as a pick-me-up to whip up the excitement and helps to ensure that the reasoning is left at the door, allowing the not-so-clear to be declared clear without objection.

I use LRC examples which we may have tossed aside. But I sometimes wonder if some of us are not pining for non-LRC equivalents. Sort of like the leeks and garlic of Egypt. We got "hooked on a feelin'" and we "can't get it out of our head." (apologies to BJ Thomas and ELO).

The place that I meet is sort of caught in a "form" warp between Presbyterian and Baptist. Some want more modern praise and worship songs — the more upbeat the better — while others want just hymns. But neither is the answer. There is good and bad in both. Just as there is good and bad in liturgies, and in Pentecostal free church formats. And everything in between.
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:04 AM   #84
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Ohio, thank you. I respect your opinion though I don't share it.

God bless.
I wished I had more time to "soften" my tone, but those points have been on my heart.

InChristAlone, I understand your affinity for the EOC, and have no intention to diminish your liberties to follow the Lord where He has led you, yet it seems you are much too idealistic about your church.

In saying that, you have to realize that I have become a bit skeptical of church organizations, having been burnt too many times in the past by those claiming to be the one true church.

Grace to you.
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Old 05-18-2017, 09:31 AM   #85
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How often do we hear speaking on the same passage that is not even presenting some novel new way of looking at it and we suddenly have an "aha" moment with realization of something we never saw before. When you reach your 60s and have heard virtually every passage in the Bible preached on multiple times, how is it that we still find something new in even the most "common" of passages? Is it really because the preacher said something different this time? Sometimes it surely is. But always? Does the Spirit not often speak to us when He does in the way he does despite the content of the sermon, book, blog, or even small Bible study?
Great point. For me the clincher is the anointing. Is not the Spirit of the Christ defined by the anointing? Structure then is insignificant if the Lord anoints the word. But for me, if there is no need for church ministers to struggle to find something fresh from the Lord each meeting, as the Apostles were want to regularly do, then how real can it be. Sure there are risks, but if we want the safety of a fixed liturgy, then perhaps Judaism is an option.


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The place that I meet is sort of caught in a "form" warp between Presbyterian and Baptist. Some want more modern praise and worship songs — the more upbeat the better — while others want just hymns. But neither is the answer. There is good and bad in both. Just as there is good and bad in liturgies, and in Pentecostal free church formats. And everything in between.
I too think the answer is both. Many churches have separate services, having both traditional and contemporary music and messages. Great idea because it meets the needs of God's children. And isn't that is really the point of being bishops, overseers, shepherds, etc. How could one predetermined liturgy meet the need of all peoples, of all times, of all ages, of all cultures, of all languages, etc.?

One time I was visiting family near Camp Lejuene, N.C. and churched there. The town is a mix of older residents and transient marines. We arrived right after the early traditional service and watched them cover up the pipe organ with curtains and set up the band. I commend the pastor and leadership team there for putting their people first and not shoe-horning one segment. I truly believe God also loves this.

Christians are equally divided 50-50% between "pro-tongues" and "anti-tongues." Actually both camps could learn much from the other. Glad to see the wall coming down in your church.
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Old 05-18-2017, 10:09 AM   #86
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But for me, if there is no need for church ministers to struggle to find something fresh from the Lord each meeting, as the Apostles were want to regularly do, then how real can it be.
And I agree. But there is always something that is beyond the liturgy. Even in the RCC service. The homily is not simply scripted. And a minister with no regular connection with God will give well-rehearsed but uninspired messages. But those who labor in the word — even if not in the way that our evangelical sensibilities want to require — then there is you freshness. But our condition, our need for repentance, our need to rehearse the basics, etc., doesn't end and needs no sprucing up. It needs to be so certain that we can recite it and therefore know it.

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I too think the answer is both. Many churches have separate services, having both traditional and contemporary music and messages. Great idea because it meets the needs of God's children.
And the place I attend actually does that. Traditional at 8:45; Contemporary at 10 and 11:15. And our previous worship leader completed his seminary training and went on to a plant in the DC area, so there is a new guy. And he is putting his park on both. Maybe for the better.

But someone recently said (elsewhere) that while the idea of two kinds of service is not a problem, there is a problem if there is an undercurrent of thought that the other is simply outdated, worldly, etc., and therefore thought of as deficient.

And I realize that I have just called some versions of modern worship deficient. But it is not because modern is deficient or traditional is right. Rather that there is something else that is more important than the style, and that is the content. If I had my preference of overall style of meeting, it would be one that had mixed music that was we considered for its fit to worship and was used in a manner for something other than engaging our excitement or appreciation of good music. That was focused on teaching that is primarily directed at the living of ordinary people rather than praising or teaching only about "spiritual" life. That left time toward the end for singing, prayer, communion, etc., in response to our interaction with God.

I think that the sermon/homily is not really the place for deep theological discussion and teaching. Other places, like adult Bible classes should be used for that. Worship should remain accessible to all, focus first on Christ, and then to the extent that it focuses on us, on our growth and living, not more theological knowledge.

Sounds like a hybrid Anglican/Baptist/Presbyterian/Free group. It respects that much of our faith is just that — faith. It is full of mysticism and mystery, but not coded messages. It seeks the engagement of the people in the exercise of their gifts rather than the uplifting of the "greater" gifts with the let-down that those are not our gifts. It is tasked with the church being active in the community in the form of an army of righteous people, bearing the image of Christ in a dark world. Not to dismiss anything that might be said, it is in living more than speaking that this is seen. And our churches are mostly ignoring the living and training in the latter. But speaking of what your life does not reflect makes the words hollow.

And oddly, those quiet, liturgical places are doing more of that than the evangelical places are. I am not praising one over the other. I am noting that neither is complete. And am increasingly disappointed in what is when I think of what could be.
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Old 05-18-2017, 10:14 AM   #87
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In an odd way, the problem I find is that you have to choose. And the options are all deficient in some way. Rich tradition without the place for the deeper learning, or deep learning amidst empty forms.

And none of the "we are the right way" options really are. Not the EOC. Not the LRC. Not the CofC. Not . . . .

But having said that, I do not find any to be simply deficient and therefore not a reasonable option for some. Start pointing to certain specific assemblies or organizations and I might balk. But overall I stand my sense of generality in the matter.
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:08 PM   #88
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Beyond all the different church service formats, the reality is that the early church did not hold "church services". Church services are unscriptural.
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:48 PM   #89
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Beyond all the different church service formats, the reality is that the early church did not hold "church services". Church services are unscriptural.
What's the difference between a "church service" and a "church meeting"?
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Old 05-18-2017, 04:52 PM   #90
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Beyond all the different church service formats, the reality is that the early church did not hold "church services". Church services are unscriptural.
Acts 6.1-6 is one example of "church service."

Evangelical, please read your Bible instead of just LSM standing orders.

............................................

If you want to play that game, where is "meeting hall" in the Bible?
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:28 PM   #91
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Acts 6.1-6 is one example of "church service."

Evangelical, please read your Bible instead of just LSM standing orders.

............................................

If you want to play that game, where is "meeting hall" in the Bible?

As I was strolling through my local Christian bookstore the other day (tongue in cheek), I came across a book "Pagan Christianity" that said, "most of what we do in religious circles has no precedent in Scripture. This includes many of the activities within church services".

All of the discussions about church services are this or that format and allow this or that are like discussing how to dress up a pig. The problem is - it's a pig.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:29 PM   #92
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What's the difference between a "church service" and a "church meeting"?
A church service is a where a person (normally qualified, not a layperson) to render some sort of spiritual service to the congregation.

A church meeting is a gathering where everyone can participate. A reason why so many churches are lifeless is because the participants think of them as a place you go to receive some sort of spiritual service, rather than a place you go to participate and contribute.

Can read more at:
http://www.thepropheticyears.com/wor...-biblical.html
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:33 PM   #93
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As I was strolling through my local Christian bookstore the other day (tongue in cheek), I came across a book "Pagan Christianity" that said, "most of what we do in religious circles has no precedent in Scripture. This includes many of the activities within church services".
It also includes many of the activities within LC church meetings.
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:39 PM   #94
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It also includes many of the activities within LC church meetings.
I think you'll find we have biblical precedent's for everything we do.
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:19 PM   #95
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I think you'll find we have biblical precedent's for everything we do.
Everything?
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Old 05-18-2017, 07:11 PM   #96
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Everything?
I think so. I think I could find a bible verse for everything we do.
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:25 AM   #97
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I think so. I think I could find a bible verse for everything we do.
They even have a bible verse for the DAYSTAR boondoggle!
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:37 AM   #98
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They even have a bible verse for the DAYSTAR boondoggle!
Given Witness Lee devoted a significant amount of time speaking at an elders training about Linko, was there a verse used to promote Linko?
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Old 05-19-2017, 04:07 PM   #99
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Given Witness Lee devoted a significant amount of time speaking at an elders training about Linko, was there a verse used to promote Linko?
Yeah, Evengelly, where's the verse for LinKo?
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Old 05-19-2017, 08:17 PM   #100
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Given Witness Lee devoted a significant amount of time speaking at an elders training about Linko, was there a verse used to promote Linko?
I was thinking of bible verses around "activities within LC church meetings". The context is LC church meetings versus denominational church services.
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Old 05-19-2017, 10:50 PM   #101
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Again, brothers, I am sorry for my late reply.

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I wished I had more time to "soften" my tone, but those points have been on my heart.

InChristAlone, I understand your affinity for the EOC, and have no intention to diminish your liberties to follow the Lord where He has led you, yet it seems you are much too idealistic about your church.

In saying that, you have to realize that I have become a bit skeptical of church organizations, having been burnt too many times in the past by those claiming to be the one true church.

Grace to you.
Thank you, Ohio. Your tone is fine with me. I know you have reasons to be skeptical. As for me, I have a different experience. I have never been burnt.

I believe in the claim that the EOC is the Church because the claim has historical (apostolic succession), theological (Ecumenical Councils), and spiritual grounds (through lives of ancient and modern saints).

- The history of the Orthodox Church is traced back to Jesus Christ and the Apostles. The Apostles appointed successors, known as bishops, and they in turn appointed other bishops in a process known as Apostolic succession. (Wikipedia)

As for the Liturgical service, I do love its concentration, depth, and prayerfulness. It’s boring for those who are not praying. But if you understand what is going on, if you are praying or signing the hymns from the bottom of your heart, then it is a different thing.

The beauty of Orthodox worship must be experienced to be understood. The Divine Liturgy expresses the entire Christian faith in a continuous song of praise and prayer addressed to God. It is focused on God, not on us. There is nothing just for amusement or entertainment. Since much of the service is the same every week, worshippers know it and can participate personally, either by singing along or by prayerful attention. Worshippers are surrounded by icons (images of Christ and the saints), which remind us that while on earth, we are participating in the worship of God with all the angels and saints who are in heaven.

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I have read of groups of believers breaking away from the EOC, to follow the Lord and break free from extra-Biblical and unending traditions. It has not always been as peaceful and unified as you portray. In fact, sorry to say, the EOC leaders have often cooperated with the authorities to snuff out many so-called "splinter groups" over the centuries.
Definitely not in the Soviet times because the Church was under persecution. Besides, those people didn't try to reform the Church. They didn't have a new vision. As far as I know, they had been influenced by Protestantism. (But also there are a number of Protestants who converted into Orthodoxy. I doubt they were so naive just to follow some old and non-Biblical traditions).

The total number of Christian victims under the Soviet regime has been estimated to range between 12-20 million. Most of them were Orthodox Christians. The communists took priests, monks and ordinary believers to an abyss, put the guns to their heads and asked, "Do you believe in God?" The answer "No, I don't" could save their life. But the majority chose another answer, "Yes, I do".

Ohio, I am not trying to convince you that the EOC is the body of Christ. I know that is impossible to do. At least for me. My wife is an active member of the LRC. It hurts because our marriage lacks of spiritual unity. But no, I can’t prove her anything.

The Russian Orthodox priest Pavel Florensky who was executed by the Communists in 1937 said, "Истина не доказуется, а показуется". It means "It is easier to show truth than to prove it". So, I would just say “Come and see” (John 1:46).

Grace to you, brother.
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