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Being a member of the Monachos.net Discussion Community, I have conversations on different themes. One of them recently discussed had to do with Bible and Tradition. Here is the discussion:

Thank you Sir for your kind message. I want to let you know that I enjoy so much our conversions. For our today’s meeting I want to make a point regarding the relationship between Christ and the Bible by presenting both perspectives: Bible’s and Forefathers’.

The Bible’s perspective:

1. “…and on this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18 Jesus’ reply to Peter).

2. “For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house” (Hebrews 3:3).

3. “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” Colos. 1:15-20).

Some of the Forefathers perspective

a).  “He, then, who of himself believes the Scripture and voice of the Lord, which by the Lord acts to the benefiting of men, is rightly [regarded] faithful. Certainly we use it as a criterion in the discovery of things. What is subjected to criticism is not believed till it is so subjected”  (Clement of Alexandria, in his book The Stromata, or Miscellanies, Book VII, CHAPTER XVI — SCRIPTURE THE CRITERION BY WHICH TRUTH AND HERESY ARE DISTINGUISHED.)

 b).   I. <We have learned the plan of our salvation entirely> from the men through whom the Gospel came to us. At first they proclaimed it abroad; then later, by the will of God, they wrote it down for us in the Scripture to be foundation and pillar of our faith…. 2. But when we refute these people [the heretics] out of the Scriptures, they turn and accuse the very Scriptures, on the ground that they are mistaken or not authoritative or not consistent in their narrative, and they say that the truth cannot be learned from them by persons who do not know the tradition, and that that was not transmitted in writing but by word of mouth…. (SAINT IRENAEUS DOCTOR OF THE CHURCH C. 203, Feast: June 28, <Excerpts from> Against the Heresies)

 c). “For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell thee these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures”(CATECHETICAL LECTURES I-XII WITH PROTOCATECHESIS, St. Cyril of Jerusalem)

From the above three Bible verses and three Forefathers quotations it is quite easy to draw the conclusion, at least for me, when it comes to which one has to have the preeminence:

– the Head of Church, or the Body of the Church;

– the One Who built the house or the house that has been built by Him;

– the Scripture that it is the breath of God (2 Timothy 3:16) or the Church born by God through the crucifixion of His only begotten Son;

– the words of Jesus that we are going to be judged by them (John 12:48) or the word of Jesus’ church born of Him;

– the words of the Scripture that “have been written that you (we i.e.) may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that believing you (we i.e.) may have eternal life” (John 20:31), or the oral tradition of people of the Earth throughout centuries.

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The following is my (Ernest E.W. Herman) response to an Orthodox Christian during a discussion on “Monachos.net”… this Orthodox Christian asserted that to understand a Bible passage we were discussing, I had to speak Greek, or else I could not interpret it correctly

Thank you very much for your detailed message and for the rich explanations in Greek. I am not fluent in Greek, that’s for sure, but I have friends with a doctorate in Greek and I’ll probably come back on this matter.

1. However, here is what I’ll say in the meantime. You could be right to the highest degree in quoting the excellent Greek grammar. Nevertheless, ONE thing is 100% sure: Jesus will NOT judge about 7 billion people on Earth who speak about 7,000 different languages for trespassing His Word made known to them in one single language, Greek – a country formed of about 11 million people!

How can Jesus judge more than 99% of the population of the world according to His word (John 12:48), while His word was to them what we, Americans, call it as “it is Greek to me”? Do we dare to present Jesus to the world being so mean up to the point of judging an illiterate Indian, Chinese, Eskimo, European, a Slavic, etc. for not keeping His word delivered in that old Greek language to them? Certainly NOT!

In addition to that, we know that the original Greek used for writing the N.T. is very different from the contemporary Greek. That will make it more difficult to study the N.T. in Greek even for the very population of Greece. That means that even the Greek population is not able entirely to handle as much Greek grammar as you do. God granted you with a respectable high IQ (by the way, congratulations!), and granted you with money to pay the universities where you could study Greek. Good for you and congratulations! But do you think that all the 11 million people in the Greek population studied this language in depths, like you did? Certainly NOT! Then the percentage of people that are really able to read the N.T. in the original language drops  drastically.

Greek country represents barely 0.6% of the entire world population in itself. (And if we will count those very few that could make it to school to study the original Greek, the 0.6% will drop even more drastically.) What about the rest of the world, 99.4% who have no idea whatsoever about the old or new Greek? Is God going to send them to hell just because they weren’t able to read Jesus’ words in Greek?

The bottom line is this, we praise God for outstanding people like you who are able to read the N.T. in its original language. This is a great and significant benefit for Christianity – I fully recognize and admit it. As a matter of fact, when I came to the States many years ago I came for the very reason of studying Greek.  Too bad, however, God had other projects for me and I couldn’t achieve that goal (I brought up my desire just to help you understand that I do honor and respect your achievements).

Now, on the same token I want to remind you that the very Orthodox Study Bible put it in that way that I presented it in my previous message. Moreover, not only the Orthodox Bible put it this way but all the other Bibles have this truth clear as day and night as quoted in my previous message.

Question: If the truth that God intended to reveal to us would have had the meaning that you presented in your Greek explanations, why didn’t He put it in understandable words for us, the unlearned people, as such?

Do you want to tell me that if I, as an outstanding Orthodox, believe my Orthodox Study Bible as such and therefore believe in God Who sent Jesus, do you want to tell me that Jesus will send me to hell? Jesus tells me very specifically that if I believe in God Who sent Him I passed from death into life, that I have the everlasting life as of right now and that I will not come into judgment.

Do you want to tell me that after I heard Jesus’ words and believed in God Who sent Him, Jesus will send me to hell just because I didn’t know the meaning of His words in the old Greek?

Should I understand that God gave this unbelievable sacrifice for us to give His Only Begotten Son to die for us, and then leave us in darkness pertaining to the understanding of His godly love towards us just because we can’t read Greek?

NO! Not so! On the contrary. He prepared EVERYTHING that we need to know in order to understand exactly what He expects from us as a result of His sacrificial love proven by sending His Son to die for us.

Here is what He has done for the rest of the population of the world that doesn’t know the old Greek, namely for the 99.4% of the population of the entire world.

2. Sir, here is the other side of the story. The Bible tells us that “the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Corinthians 3:6). That is why Jesus assures us that His Holy Spirit “will guide us into all truth” (John 16:13). Not only that but more than that, He tells us “The anointing that which you have received from Him (namely the Holy Spirit i.e.) abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you…” (1 John 2:27).

Sorry, sorry Sir but a genuine Christian that receives the Holy Spirit does NOT need to be taught by anybody, neither does the Greek. I mean Greek is good to know – no question about it. But knowing the best Greek in the world without having the Holy Spirit  leads to death, as stated above in 2 Corinthians 3:6. Yet having the Holy Spirit, even though one doesn’t know Greek, leads to ALL Jesus’ promises starting with  the gift of eternal life immediately.

The things are this way because fortunately, I mean very fortunately, the Holy Spirit of God knows my native language, Romanian, knows English, knows Greek (both the old and the contemporary one), knows Indian, knows Chinese, knows Eskimo, knows all European languages, knows Slavic – He knows  all  7,000 languages that are spoken in the entire world today.

Now please read carefully, I mean real carefully, what I’m going to say further. Every human language has a different alphabet, grammar and sounds. One that wants to learn a language needs to study its entire structure. The same thing applies when it comes to understanding the spiritual language of the Scripture. Since the Scripture presents us a spiritual truth, someone that wants to understand the “language” of the Scripture, so to speak, must become spiritual. However, when it comes to studying the Scripture’s “language” it doesn’t mean simply to study it, but much more than that.  It takes a complete metamorphosis of the human entity. A human being must metamorphose from natural to spiritual. The Orthodox Study Bible tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16 that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned… But we have the mind of Christ”.

That’s why the Scripture tells us that the letter kills. Those that want to REALLY know and truly understand the Bible’s language must go through that process of metamorphosis from natural to spiritual. Then becoming  Jesus’ sheep they will come to know His voice and follow Him, as we read in John 10:27-28: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand”. As we just read above, the ones that become spiritual have the mind of Christ.

I close with this question:  If I followed these steps and got this status:

– became “a new creation in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:17) by believing and baptism (Mark 16:16);

– I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16);

– By God I am ”IN Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:30);

– I have the anointing and “do not need that anyone teach you…” (1 John 2:27), should I worry about not knowing Greek?

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The very surprising answer for both parties, Orthodox and Protestants, is yes! Salvation is vitally correlated to sinner’s “work”. Hold your reactions please, be patient please, and wait for this debate until the end. At the end, I guaranty that both parties, Orthodox and Protestants, will agree with my point from the Bible’s perspective, the Orthodox Bible as well as the Protestant one.

1. We will start our debate by quoting John 6:28-29 from the Orthodox Bible[1].

Then they said to Him (to Jesus): ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them: ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent”. (Check the quotation on the verse)

What we are going to learn from the Bible is that yes, the sinner must “work” for his salvation. More than that, we’ll see that God’s salvation is worthless for the people that don’t “work” for it. This is the one and only reason that many people go to hell. We read in John 3:16 that God loved “the world”, not only a part of the world but the whole world. Then we read further that “whoever believes in Him …will have everlasting life”. So God loved the entire world that whoever believes in Him, not just some. This whoevermeans  any person, anybody, everybody, literally “the world”. We read also in 1 Timothy 2:4 that God desires all men to be saved.

The question is, why, while God sent His Son for the entire world and desires all men to be saved, why then are some of the men not saved? God did  all that He could do by sending His only begotten Son to die on the sinner’s behalf. God’s righteousness required that man must die to pay the wages of sin (Romans 6:23) and He sent His Son to die in men’s stead that the men could die and be resurrected in Him. That was all that God could do for His creature and He did it. Why then do not all men benefit of God’s gift that is His Son? The answer is simple; these men do not want to “work”, to do their own part in the salvation process. It is like with Israel. The Lord Jesus is weeping over them in Luke 13:34 with these words: “How often I wanted to gather your children together… but you were not willing”. Not willing – this was Israel’s problem. Not that they didn’t know, not that they couldn’t but because they did not want to listen.

So far, we found out that the man must “work”, MUST do his part in the process of salvation. Now let’s see what God requires man to “work” as his part in this process of salvation. Since the work must be accepted by God we can’t come up with our own ideas. After all the salvation is His, He worked it out for us. If we want to get it we must do that on His terms, not ours. So let’ go ahead now and find out what kind of works  God requires from man in order to complete  his salvation process. Let’s read again John 6:28-29:

Then they said to Him (to Jesus): ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them: ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent”.

What we have in this text is a group of people with a sincere desire to do “works” acceptable to God in order to be in good terms with Him. Apparently, they had the perception (by the way, it was a good one) that God requires man to do something for Him, as God, the Creator. This is why Jesus gave them the answer right away, without any delay. More than that, if in many other occasions Jesus spoke in parables not very understandable to them, this time He comes up with a short, simple and very clear answer. He tells them that yes, God is expecting men to do a good deed in order to get the salvation worked by God in His Son, Jesus Christ. Then Jesus goes ahead and tells them exactly what deed  God is expecting them to do, by these words: ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent”. It is a very straightforward and simple answer, isn’t it? ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent”.

Now, since Jesus named the work  required from men as the work of God, let’s see why  He put it that way. Why didn’t God ask man to do something of himself? Certainly so, man is required to do his part in order to be saved; why then is God not accepting man’s work? Isn’t he, the man, supposed to  do his own part?

Here is the answer. We read in Isaiah 64:5a (in the Protestant’s Bible is Isaiah 64:6a) that “We all are become as unclean, and all our righteousness is like a filthy rag”. O, yes, now we understand it and it makes full sense. Because God’s eye is too pure to see evil (Habakkuk 1:13), He cannot accept our righteousness (which) is like a filthy rag. Now the question rises again like this: if all our righteousness is like a filthy rag before Him, why does He require of us to do anything as our part in order to get salvation? Doesn’t He know that we cannot do anything of ourselves because our best deeds are like filthy rags before Him?

The obvious answer is that yes, God knows very well that our righteousness being like a filthy rag cannot do any good for Him. The problem is therefore with us, not with Him. It is with us because we are those that don’t know it – not God. And because He knew that we cannot bring any good acceptable before Him God gave us Himself the type of work that is acceptable before Him. Saying the work of God, Jesus referred to the origin of the “work” as issuing from God, not from us.

Ok, we got that too. According to John 6:29 God requires of us faith to believe in Jesus that He sent for us. But how are we going to get that faith that comes from God? There is nothing more simple to answer. We read in God’s Holy Word, in Romans 10:17 that “Faith comes by hearing and the hearing by the Word of God”.

(Here I need to make a short parenthesis. The faith of God comes through the Word of God; and the Word of God is the Holy Scripture ONLY because the Scripture ONLY bears what I call as God’s signature, namely 2 Timothy 3:16. Any other words from any other people or even an angel it is NOT the Word of God, therefore cannot generate God’s faith.)

Now we have everything in place and in the right order. Man must “work” for his salvation by reading the Word of God, which will provide him with the necessary faith that comes from God, to believe in the salvation of God, through the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Everything is of God. Nevertheless, if the man does not “work” his part, if he doesn’t do the real and only good and required deed he can do by accepting what comes from God, man will never be able to get the salvation that comes from God. God is offering His salvation in the way that we, Americans, call it as the “whole package”. The salvation is His, the faith is His, and the Scripture is His. He cannot accept anything that comes from us because His eye being too pure to see evil cannot look to the best of man’s righteousness which is like a filthy rag.

2. Now we come to part two of our topic. In this section, we are going to talk on the very much debated texts of James chapter 2:20 and 26.

James 2:26:But do you want to know, O, foolish man, that faith without works is dead? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also”.

We must pay exceedingly close attention to the vital relationship between the faith and its works – I mean the faith’s work. Verse 26 gives us a truly good illustration in regard to relationship between the faith and the works by picturing the relationship between the body and the spirit. An alive human body is driven by his own living soul, is it not? When we think of so and so we think about a human being formed of a body that breathes (the word spirit has also the connotation of soul, breath – see Strong’s G4151). But who can think of so and so as a human formed of two separate entities – one being a fleshly body and another one breathing for that body? I know, it sounds ridiculous. But isn’t this the picture that many offer talking about the faith and its works separately? God portrays the relationship between faith and works by using the vital relationship and perfect unity between my own body and my own breath. My body cannot survive by having anybody else in the entire world to breath for me.

I have a daughter that had leukemia when she was 4 years old. Praise God, she is 29 today and perfectly well. Being under chemo treatment, she was losing her appetite and I took her to almost all the restaurants in Springfield to eat. Yes, I could take her to all the restaurants, I could pay anything and everything for her but one thing I could NOT do for her: I could NOT eat myself and have her stomach be full. Even if I could be ready to give my own life for her, she MUST HERSELF eat in order to live.

This is the real relationship between the faith and its works portrayed in James 2:26.

Please keep in mind the way that the Bible talks on faith. The faith that the Bible calls to work in James chapter 2 (and many other places in the Bible) is the faith that comes from God by hearing His Word. Thus, since the faith is the one that comes from Heaven, how can the works come from the sinner on earth, from another source? Isn’t this the same thing with trying to think about so and so like being actually two entities? And if this is absolutely absurd, how much more absurd should it be to think that we are called to do works that come  from ourselves and present it to God as His faith’s works?

One more illustration. Think about an engine (car’s engine) and its noise when it is running. Is there any need to talk about the noise of the engine while it is running? Is there any need to have any debates on the fact that a running engine must make noise? Is there any kind of need to write books and offer scientific explanations on the relationship between the running engine and its noise? The obvious answer is NO!  Such a debate can be engaged only by people that have serious problems with their mind. It is normal and expected for an engine to make noise while it is running; this is a natural physical law instituted by the Creator. Our creation runs based on this and all the other natural laws of God. Nobody can imagine it being otherwise because it is very impossible – unless someone would make the noise unheard. But even in this case, the point is that the engine makes the noise.

Now think about this funny picture. A car dealer wants to sell you a Lamborghini . But this car’s engine is broken. You don’t know that and want to take it for a  test drive. As soon as you get  behind the wheel and turn the ignition key on, the engine’s original noise recorded secretly somewhere under the dashboard comes on, a group of six people go behind the car and push it ahead. Would you buy such a car? No. Why not? The engine makes noise, exactly the noise of a real Lamborghini. Then what’s wrong? Well, the noise is, truly so, an original and authentic noise of Lamborghini but it is just recorded from another engine, not from the engine of the car. For this very reason the car that you want to buy is good for anything else in the world but not for driving. A car pushed by six people can take you, perhaps, right in the street, but never to your destination.

This is what we must understand. The good deeds that are not coming from a lively faith can take us, the farthest, to reminding God that we want to go to heaven. But never get us to heaven. The centurion Cornelius was “a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God always” (Acts 10:2). But all these outstanding good deeds, fearing God and praying to God did NOT help him any  more than reminding God that he wants to be saved. However, when it comes to the salvation itself Cornelius MUST listen to Peter the apostle’s preaching, to accept Jesus preached through repentance, to be baptized and then to do any good deeds that will be received in Heaven. Because after repentance, baptism and receiving the Holy Ghost, from there on, the Holy Spirit will run like an engine in his life. And as a running engine makes a noise naturally, so the Holy Spirit running Cornelius’ life from there on will produce its noise, namely will produce the natural and authentic good deeds of faith.

Now then, the kind of works that God expects of  us, Christians, to do are mentioned specifically in Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them”. This is in perfect tune with 2 Corinthians 5:17 where we read: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”.

The conclusion is this.

1. From an UNBELIEVER God requires one and only one work: to believe in Jesus;

2. An unbeliever that believes in Him becomes a new creation. In the life of such a one “old things have passed away”. Not only old things passed away but he himself is passed away (we talk here about his old nature) namely, is dead in Christ, according to Romans 6:2. And because we are a new creation in Christ “behold, all things have become new”.

3. Now, as a believer dead in Christ he cannot work anything, neither good nor bad. For this very reason, “God prepared Himself beforehand His own works that we should walk in them”.

I hope that we understand the relationship between the good deeds and salvation. Nobody can work his salvation through works, neither good nor bad.

God bless you and me! Those that are not yet a new creation in Christ I urge them to go through the process of being born again to become as such. For those of us that are already a new creation in Christ I wish to be diligent in finding out God’s works prepared for us to walk in them for His glory and our eternal joy. And those that have any comments to make on this subject please, make them. They are really appreciated.

In Christ, Ernest E. W. Herman.


[1] Orthodox Study Bible, Prepared under the auspices of the Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. Fr. Jack Norman Sparks, Ph.D., Dean.

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– The Protestants Asked,

– The Modern Orthodox Theologians Answered,

– An Orthodox Rooted in The Original Orthodoxy Replies To the Answers

The following series contains a response to a document created by modern Orthodox theologians. It is called “Six Common Questions Protestants Ask the Orthodox”. I have seen this document (or one very similar in theme and content), in many places online and in printed text. The questions discussed are major points of theological debate between the two denominations, and I have chosen this particular document because it contains the most common of the questions presented. You can find two examples of where this document appears at the websites listed here:

www.holyresurrection.com/home/what-is-orthodoxy/about-us

http://www.stathanasius.org/faqs/

The format for these posts will first show the answer the Orthodox theologians give to the Protestant’s question. Following that will be my reply to how the Orthodox theologians answered that question.

 (The Bible quotations are taken from the Orthodox Bible.)

 How does the Orthodox Church view the Sacraments, specifically communion?

 

Jesus said at the Last Supper:  “This is my body” and “This cup is …my blood” (Luke 22: 19 and 20, italics added).  The Lord is clear that His gifts to us are more than just sign or a mere memorial.

Before presenting any of my replies to the way that the modern Orthodox Christians view this subject we need to read together the above Bible quotations. According to the Orthodox Bible, the verses quoted above from Luke chapter 22:19-20 read like this: “He took the bread… saying, ‘This is My body…’ Likewise, He also took the cup …saying: ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood…” (Pay attention, please, to the word covenant in regard of the cup that Jesus referred to when saying this.)

The exact way that the Bible is quoting both, the bread and the cup, is nullifying already the whole argument presented above by the modern Orthodox theologians even before starting to prove it. Why? For the very reason that while Jesus said that the bread is His body, He did NOT say the same thing about the cup. By the contrary, He said that ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood’, which is not at all the same thing as being His very blood. It is one thing to say covenant (in my blood), and a totally different one to say directly, my blood. Yes, we admit that the above quotation by the Orthodox theologians was grammatically correct when citing with those dots (otherwise known as an ellipsis), implying thus that there is another word in between the words “is” and “my blood”. However, while grammatically, it is quite correct, replacing the word covenant with dots and then omitting its significance for the sake of making it sound different than the Bible intended, that is wrong, 100% wrong. Jesus did NOT intend to call the cup as His blood but rather the covenant in His blood. To be the blood is one thing; to be a covenant in the blood is another thing, is it not?

As I stated already in my previous video, this debate will go on for quite a while. But for as of right now I am going to present my first reply by listing ten more pictures representing Jesus in the Bible, besides those in the O. T. We’ll see that Jesus is also portrayed as objects, animals, and even people serving in different functions. Here are ten of the ways Jesus is pictured in the N.T.

  • The Lamb of God…” (John 1:29);
  • I am the bread…” (John 6:41);
  • I am the light of the world(John 8:12);
  • I am the door…” (John 10:9);
  • “The good shepherd(John 10:14);
  • I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6);
  • I am the vine…” (John 15:5);
  • Rock was Christ…” (1 Corinthians 10:4);
  • “The Lion of the tribe of Judah…” (Rev. 5:5);
  • Lamb’s wife…” (Revelation 21:9); He is here a bridegroom.

Question:

Should we take the quotes above as Jesus’ pictures in the literal form too? If yes, is He alternatively all of them or all at once (hope that God and you will forgive me for putting it this way)?

I’ll stop here for today, looking forward anxiously to the public’s opinion in this regard. In our next meeting, we will establish the Bible’s point in this matter and the view of our Orthodox Tradition, as we have it coming down to us from the Forefathers.

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The following series contains a response to a document created by modern Orthodox theologians. It is called “Six Common Questions Protestants Ask the Orthodox”. I have seen this document (or one very similar in theme and content), in many places online and in printed text. The questions discussed are major points of theological debate between the two denominations, and I have chosen this particular document because it contains the most common of the questions presented. You can find two examples of where this document appears at the websites listed here:

www.holyresurrection.com/home/what-is-orthodoxy/about-us

http://www.stathanasius.org/faqs/

The format for these posts will first show the answer the Orthodox theologians give to the Protestant’s question. Following that will be my reply to how the Orthodox theologians answered that question.

Bible references were made using the Orthodox Study Bible

Protestant’s Question 1)

How does the Orthodox Church view the Sacraments, specifically communion?

Orthodox Theologians Answer: Some Protestant groups teach communion or the Lord’s Supper is only sign or symbol.  Most all of Christendom, however, believes it is far more.  The Orthodox Church has always believed that we, in a Mystery, receive the body and blood of Christ.  Let us look at Holy Scripture concerning Communion.

Jesus said at the Last Supper:  “This is my body” and “This cup is …my blood” (Luke 22: 19 and 20, italics added).  The Lord is clear that His gifts to us are more than just sign or a mere memorial.

My reply to the Orthodox Theologians: First, I am conscious of the fact of approaching a matter debated for some 2000 years of Christianity. There is, for example, Chrisophorus Rasperger who wrote a book in 1577, “This Is My Body”, listing over 200 interpretations on this matter. Therefore, while I won’t pretend to say that lo, I found the truth, this is it, I will still address in a question format my replies to the above today’s Orthodox Church interpretation of communion.

Second, I want to make sure that we understand and follow closely the Orthodox concept in regard of God’s truth, as it has been established by the Forefathers, pioneers of the Orthodox Church. There is, for instance, St. Cyril of Jerusalem instructing us these things in his Catechetical Lecture IV, On the Ten Points of Doctrine, paragraph 17: “For concerning the divine and holy mysteries of the Faith, not even a casual statement must be delivered without the Holy Scriptures; nor must we be drawn aside by mere plausibility and artifices of speech. Even to me, who tell you these things, give not absolute credence, unless thou receive the proof of the things which I announce from the Divine Scriptures. For this salvation which we believe depends not on ingenious reasoning, but on demonstration of the Holy Scriptures”.

This statement of St. Cyril goes excellently well in tune with the above Orthodox’ proposal, “Let us look at Holy Scripture concerning Communion”. I say Amen, and Amen! I do agree 100% with this way of discussing things. Because, if  our Forefather, St. Cyril of Jerusalem does not authorize any of his readers to take any of his own sayings which might not be supported by the Scripture, who else will attempt to even dare such a thing? Thus, let us confront the today’s Orthodox theologians’ interpretation of the communion with the Holy Scripture. I will put it in a question format. But before  proceeding further I’ll call our attention to one more point, and this has to do with the way that we are to use the Scripture.

For instance, we find out that communion it is being spoken of in several books of the Bible, put accordingly in different contexts. Having thus several Bible verses spread in several books of the Bible treating the same subject, here is my question:

Now,  since all Scripture is given by inspiration of God (2 Timothy 3:16), how are we going to approach this subject? Can we ignore certain Scripture passages in favor of choosing only the ones that justify our own way of interpretation – being either today’s Orthodox theologians’, my own way of interpretation as an Orthodox of the old or the Protestant’s way?

I’ll stop here for today, looking forward anxiously to the public opinion in regard of the way that the Scripture is to be approached. It is exceedingly important to establish this matter clearly. Then I’ll come up with a series of other further quite challenging questions.

End of Segment 1

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