I found the site to be well presented and easy to navigate to a number of topics. I am not posting to start another of the the usual and lamentable wars; rather I post for the lurker who may be seeking.
I would be happy to engage discussion with rational and cordial conversation. All other shall be ignored.
In reading that, I see that “Orthodox” (as he spells it) should actually be “orthodox” - thereby not a “proper name” of a group, but more in line with what he’s saying.
And then, “Catholic”, as he spells it, should also be “catholic” - and not used as a “proper name” - being that this would be the actual name of a church group - while “catholic” is not.
I would hope that he would make those corrections ... :-)
Later on I discovered Russian Orthodox Christmas cards ~ studied them, and other things (huge tracts of sermons) and discovered I already belonged to a church which had had at its beginning an ambition to recreate the First Century Church in America.
There is an Orthodox attitude ~ a good one ~ so it's not just an invisible sort of difference. It exists among Roman Catholic aide workers, and the priests who participate in Catholic charities.
Some day I'll figure that one out ~
Think I'll take a look at that blog and see what he has for us ~
Then I suspect I shall be ignored (and perhaps so should you), since your selection of this article is a transparent claim that folks seeking truth end up with the RCC. You did not begin with a "cordial conversation", but an obvious propaganda piece like those the Roman cult peddles incessantly.
Whether this fellow is actually a believer at all is yet to be determined...by Jesus Himself. That he migrated to Rome gives the rest of us definite pause.
I have lately been visiting the Orthodox churches around me. Beautiful.
They were very, very good at edification--as most Protestant churches are--but oddly enough, it was only after taking seven or so classes on theology, hermeneutics, and Koine Greek that I became curious enough, through our apologetics group, to enquire into Orthodox Christianity.
My intent was to kick the tires, then debunk it gently. Not that I thought they were wrong, but just perhaps, so I'd thought, emphasized certain things over other things.
Boy, was I wrong. ;)
Turned out that it was really the same thing, but with a fuller, more complete, history. I'm better off for it!
Admittedly, I still think "Protestant," and always will. That won't change. But after several years in an Orthodox Christian church (founded by Russian Americans), I not only have a more complete understanding of the Patristic Fathers, but of new (read: "old") ways of thinking, and even deeper wisdom into some things.
It's been beneficial to me. I honestly didn't realize that I'd been missing anything.
Of course, the story was more complex. I'm leaving a lot of information out--like how I fought certain concepts during catechism. For many months, I had the priest pulling his hair out. He was quite patient; he called on the advice of other priests, but the odd thing was this: He was what they call "cradle orthodox."
Orthodox can't speak Protestant. And vice-versa. Oddly enough, we began to understand what we *thought* he was telling us rather differently, over time, and he, us.
We need to open up a dialogue--all Christians. What my wife and I had thought was a wide gulf separating us turned out to be a mere crack.
For a while, I was referring to myself as "Proto-Orthodox," in a humorous way.
One thing I've noticed is that the Orthodox simply don't like change. At all. Never for its own sake; they have to have a very compelling reason, or they won't. They're hyper-conservative. I used to think that was a bad thing.
...but I realize now, that it's a very good thing. ;)
Their Church had no pews and there were ancient icons on the walls - the lighting at night inside was surreal and I had my first spiritual experience. We just prayed - no mass was said. The glow of that Church is still with me. One word that sticks in my mind is humility.
I became really involved with my own Church after that. Our doctrines differ in some areas but the basics are the same... most importantly the mystical spirituality that I practice today is identical. My in laws are Catholic and have taught me much - we never argue about faith. Just different paths and experiences we can share to enlighten each other.
This blogger has a great site - bookmarked!. It's always interesting to me to see the stages of spiritual development - this young man is gathering truths and forming his understanding. He's exercising his spiritual freedom to see what works in his life and makes sense. He's open to serious discussion and comments. Good stuff.
Well, the reason man fell isn't much of a secret quite honestly. We fell because we don't want anyone-not even God-to tell us what we can and can't do. It's that simple. No matter how good it would be for us to do it or how bad it would be if we did it. And we still grieve and quench God today-even as Christians. It was that way with Adam. It was that way with Cain. And its been that way ever since. God wants (and expects) us to do what is perfect. We don't.
But I digress. The bottom line is it's obvious that Pastor Shaward does not have a clue about Reformed theology. He cannot clearly explain it nor can he say why Orthodoxy is correct. Instead we get the tired old argument about the Church fathers...whose beliefs the Church picks and choose which ones they want to believe and then say the Church choice is right because they picked those beliefs.
If Pastor Shaward wanted to truly believe the early Church fathers, he would have discovered that the Church (Orthodox or Roman) does not believe in what they wrote about the atonement. The Orthodox never believe the western view of the atonement and Rome has moved away from the the early fathers and aligned themselves with the eastern view. So much for believing the fathers. There goes "traditional values".
so he prefers one of the many Orthodox churches to evil Rome?
don't get me wrong: Many people are attracted to the strict theology and beauty of the Orthodox church, especially if they live in "trendier than thou" Catholic dioceses in the USA
But I always wonder if some of these converts aren't just being snobbish: are they attracted to an Orthodox church full of blue collar Eastern European coal miners (like the Russian Orthodox church where I once was a member of a prayer group)? Or is their church full of yuppies?
There was a movement some years back - the son of Francis Schaeffer was involved with it - to bring Christians back to the liturgical and majestic observances of the church life and the Eastern Orthodox Church was part of that. I don't agree with all that this church does and believes, but I do think they are much closer to what and how the early church was.
beautiful piece. I love the part where he talks of discovering the fullness and the richness of all of Christianity. That’s a good thing for all of us to remember.
The Holy Scriptures are perhaps the summit of the Holy Tradition of the Church, but the greatness of the heights to which the Scriptures ascend is due to the great mountain upon which it rests. Taken from its context, within the Holy Tradition, the solid rock of Scripture becomes a mere ball of clay, to be molded into whatever shape its handlers wish to mold it. It is no honor to the Scriptures to misuse and twist them, even if this is done in the name of exalting their authority. We must read the Bible; it is Gods Holy Word. But to understand its message let us humbly sit at the feet of the saints who have shown themselves doers of the Word and not hearers only (James 1:22), and have been proven by their lives worthy interpreters of the Scriptures. Let us go to those who knew the Apostles, such as Saints Ignatius of Antioch and Polycarp, if we have a question about the writings of the Apostles. Let us inquire of the Church, and not fall into self-deluded arrogance.
Universal Ecclesiology and Eucharistic Ecclesiology
Orthodox Tradition prefers to practice Eucharistic ecclesiology than universal ecclesiology.
Universal ecclesiology depicts the church as a single organic whole including in itself all church units of any kind all over the world. The different parts or members of this church are joined like branches of a single tree. According to the Eucharistic ecclesiology which is more primitive one, each local church was the church of God in all its fullness. Every local church manifests all the fullness of the church of God and not just one part of it. The Eucharist is where Christ dwells in the fullness of His body. The Eucharist could never have been offered in a local church if it had been just one part of the church of God.
Where the Eucharist is there is the fullness of the church. Eucharistic ecclesiology
denies the idea of parts cherished by the universal ecclesiology.
Eucharistic ecclesiology upholds conciliarity in the church. In fact no local church with its presiding bishop has the right to exercise authority or power over other local churches. But they live in fellowship and mutual support. If the bishops meet in council, one of them serves as the president of the councils. His authority or priority is based on the higher witness and love of his church. Primacy is a legalistic expression whereas priority is founded on authority of witness and that is a gift of God. But the ecclesiology of a Universal Pontiff seems to suggest a superior to all the other bishops or a super- bishop. In consequence, the others seem to become mere administrative instruments of the supreme head.
A note on local church seems to be relevant here. In the Orthodox tradition the word local mainly refers to a large cultural grouping with the same cultural heritage or a geographically distinct area like an island. The expression local church often refers to a regional church. The present autocephalous churches like Coptic Orthodox Church, Indian Orthodox Church, Russian Orthodox Church etc are examples of local churches.
Four Marks of the Church.
Long personal journey story full of factual information - from:
Which Came First: The Church or the New Testament?
by Fr. James Bernstein
As a Jewish convert to Christ via evangelical Protestantism, I naturally wanted to know God better through the reading of the Scriptures. In fact, it had been through reading the Gospels in the “forbidden book” called the New Testament, at age sixteen, that I had come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our promised Messiah. In my early years as a Christian, much of my religious education came from private Bible reading. By the time I entered college, I had a pocket-sized version of the whole Bible that was my constant companion. I would commit favorite passages from the Scriptures to memory, and often quote them to myself in times of temptation-or to others as I sought to convince them of Christ. The Bible became for me-as it is to this day-the most important book in print. I can say from my heart with Saint Paul the Apostle, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).
That’s the good news!
The bad news is that often I would decide for myself what the Scriptures meant. For example, I became so enthusiastic about knowing Jesus as my close and personal friend that I thought my own awareness of Him was all I needed. So I would mark verses about Jesus with my yellow highlighter, but pass over passages concerning God the Father, or the Church, or baptism. I saw the Bible as a heavenly instruction manual. I didn’t think I needed the Church, except as a good place to make friends or to leans more about the Bible so I could be a better do-it-yourself Christian.
For those interested in an Orthodox understanding on Church Fathers, from:
(I do wish the Latin were translated - mine is quite rusty. However semper = always and ubique - everywhere)
Following the Holy Fathers... It was usual in the Ancient Church to introduce doctrinal statements by phrases like this. The great Decree of Chalcedon begins precisely with these very words. The Seventh Ecumenical Council introduces its decision concerning the Holy Icons even in a more explicit and elaborate way: following the Divinely inspired teaching of our Holy Fathers and the tradition of the Catholic Church (Denzinger 302). Obviously, it was more than just an appeal to “antiquity.” Indeed, the Church always stresses the identity of her faith throughout the ages. This identity and permanence, from Apostolic times, is indeed the most conspicuous token and sign of right faith.
In the famous phrase of Vincent of Lérins, in ipsa item catholica ecclesia magnopere curandum est ut id teneamus quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (Commonitorium c. 2-3). However, “antiquity” by itself is not yet an adequate proof of the true faith. Archaic formulas can be utterly misleading. Vincent himself was well aware of that. Old customs as such do not guarantee the truth. As St. Cyprian put it, antiquitas sine veritate vetustas erroris est (Epist. 74). And again: Dominus, Ego sum, inquit, veritas. Non dixit, Ego sum consuetudo (Sententiae episcoporum numero 87, c. 30). The true tradition is only the tradition of truth, traditio veritatis.
And this “true tradition,” according to St. Irenaeus, is grounded in, and guaranteed by, that charisma veritatis certum, which has been deposited from the very beginning in the Church and preserved in the uninterrupted succession of Apostolic ministry: qui cum episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum acceperunt (Adv. haereses IV. 40. 2).
Thus, “tradition” in the Church is not merely the continuity of human memory the permanence of rites and habits. Ultimately, “’tradition” is the continuity of divine assistance, the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. The Church is not bound by “the letter.” She is constantly moved forth by “the spirit.” The same Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, which “spake through the Prophets,” which guided the Apostles, which illumined the Evangelists, is still abiding in the Church, and guides her into the fuller understanding of the divine truth, from glory to glory.
Following the Holy Fathers... It is not a reference to abstract tradition, to formulas and propositions. It is primarily an appeal to persons, to holy witnesses. The witness of the Fathers belongs, integrally and intrinsically, to the very structure of the Orthodox faith. The Church is equally committed to the kerygma of the Apostles and to the dogmata of the Fathers. Both belong together inseparably. The Church is indeed “Apostolic.” But the Church is also “Patristic.” And only by being “Patristic” is the Church continuously “Apostolic.”
In his book Wooden Churches - Travelling in the Russian North, it says that the churches are the few remains of thousands that were built all over Russia from the time of Prince Vladimir, who, on his conversion to Christianity in 988 'ordained that wooden churches should be built and established where pagan idols had previously stood.' The majority are clustered in the north-west corner, and bunched in certain areas like Leningrad, Vologda, Murmansk, and Archangel Regions and the Republic of Karelia.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2252364/The-lost-churches-Russia-The-abandoned-wooden-buildings-left-forgotten-forests.html#ixzz2GAqmPlVW
There is no doubt that we are living in the age of apostasy predicted for the last days. In practice, most people are atheists, although many of them theoretically still believe. Indifference and the spirit of this world prevail everywhere.
What is the reason for this state?
The reason is the cooling of love. Love for God no more burns in human hearts, and in consequence, love between us is dead, too.
What is the cause of this waning of men’s love for God? The answer, certainly, is sin. Sin is the dark cloud which does not permit God’s light to reach our eyes.
But sin always did exist. So how did we arrive at the point of not simply ignoring God, but of actually hating Him? Man’s attitude toward God today is not really ignorance, or really indifference. If you examine men carefully you will notice that their ignorance or indifference is tainted by a deep hate. But nobody hates anything that does not exist.
I have the suspicion that men today believe in God more than at any other time in human history. Men know the gospel, the teaching of the Church, and God’s creation better than at any other time. They have a profound consciousness of His existence. Their atheism is not a real disbelief. It is rather an aversion toward somebody we know very well but whom we hate with all our heart, exactly as the demons do.
We hate God, that is why we ignore Him, overlooking Him as if we did not see Him, and pretending to be atheists. In reality we consider Him our enemy par excellence. Our negation is our vengeance, our atheism is our revenge.
But why do men hate God? They hate Him not only because their deeds are dark while God is light, but also because they consider Him as a menace, as an imminent and eternal danger, as an adversary in court, as an opponent at law, as a public prosecutor and an eternal persecutor. To them, God is no more the almighty physician who came to save them from illness and death, but rather a cruel judge and a vengeful inquisitor.
You see, the devil managed to make men believe that God does not really love us, that He really only loves Himself, and that He accepts us only if we behave as He wants us to behave; that He hates us if we do not behave as He ordered us to behave, and is offended by our insubordination to such a degree that we must pay for it by eternal tortures, created by Him for that purpose.
Who can love a torturer? Even those who try hard to save themselves from the wrath of God cannot really love Him. They love only themselves, trying to escape God’s vengeance and to achieve eternal bliss by managing to please this fearsome and extremely dangerous Creator.
Do you perceive the devil’s slander of our all loving, all kind, and absolutely good God? That is why in Greek the devil was given the name DIABOLOS, “the slanderer”.
The Holy Fathers of Orthodox Spirituality
Part I. The Inspiration and Sure Guide to True Christianity Today
Fr Seraphim Rose
Remember your instructors, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the end of their life... Be not led away with various and strange doctrines. (Hebrews 13:7, 9)
NEVER HAS THERE BEEN such an age of false teachers as this pitiful 20th century, so rich in material gadjets and so poor in mind and soul. Every conceivable opinion, even the most absurd, even those hitherto rejected by the universal consent of all civilized peoplesnow has its platform and its own “teacher.” A few of these teachers come with demonstration or promise of “spiritual power” and false miracles, as do some occultists and “ charismatics”; but most of the contemporary teachers offer no more than a weak concoction of undigested ideas which they received “out of the air,” as it were, or from some modern self-appointed “wise man” (or woman) who knows more than all the ancients merely by living in our “enlightened” modern times. As a result, philosophy has a thousand schools and “Christianity” a thousand sects. Where is the truth to be found in all this, if indeed it is to be found at all in our most misguided times?
In only one place is there to be found the fount of true teaching, coming from God Himself, not diminished over the centuries but ever fresh, being one and the same in all those who truly teach it, leading those who follow it to eternal salvation. This place is the Orthodox Church of Christ, the fount is the grace of the All-Holy Spirit, and the true teachers of the Divine doctrine that issues from this fount are the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church.
Alas! How few Orthodox Christians know this, and know enough to drink from this fount! How many contemporary hierarchs lead their flocks, not on the true pastures of the soul, the Holy Fathers, but along the ruinous paths of modern wise men who promise something “new” and strive only to make Christians forget the true teaching of the Holy Fathers, a teaching whichit is quite trueis entirely out of harmony with the false ideas which govern modern times.
The Orthodox teaching of the Holy Fathers is not something of one age, whether “ancient” or “modern.” It has been transmitted in unbroken succession from the time of Christ and His Apostles to the present day, and there has never been a time when it was necessary to discover a “lost” patristic teaching. Even when many Orthodox Christians may have neglected this teaching (as is the case, for example, in our own day), its true representatives were still handing it down to those who hungered to receive it. There have been great patristic ages, such as the dazzling epoch of the fourth century, and there have been periods of decline in patristic awareness among Orthodox Christians; but there has been no period since the very foundation of Christ’s Church on earth when the Patristic tradition was not guiding the Church; there has been no century without Holy Fathers of its own. St. Nicetas Stethatos, disciple and biographer of St. Simeon the New Theologian, has written; “It has been granted by God that from generation to generation there should not cease the preparation by the Holy Spirit of His prophets and friends for the order of His Church.”