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Archive for the ‘Exploring the Orthodox Faith’ Category

(This article is part of a larger collection. A certain Orthodox website made comments about Ernest Herman and since I know him so much better
than those who never met him, I will try and “help” them by providing the right answer to their question. That collection will be published entirely in due
time.)

Now let’s have a discussion on the Bible verse used and abused by the contemporary Orthodoxy in order to justify their “new” Orthodox theology. Here is what 2 Thessalonians 2:15 says: “Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle”.

The best way to find out what is true is to first establish what is not true. Let’s see, therefore, if Paul was teaching us to accept men’s oral tradition on top of Jesus’ revelation as written down in the Bible. I’ll present these facts.

a) Paul wrote the epistle to the Galatians possibly between 48 and 49 AD. He then wrote 1 and 2 Thess. in 51 AD.

Question: after uttering a curse in Galatians 1:8-9 on anyone who brings something outside of Jesus’ written revelation, including himself, could Paul now instruct the Thessalonians to listen to just any oral tradition?  Obviously not! We see that by teaching the Thessalonians to hold fast the tradition, he is very specific what and whose tradition. He tells them to hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. Therefore it is not just any oral tradition coming from unknown people that lived in the past many generations ago. Not at all. He tells them to hold the tradition that was once already taught, and not just by anybody but by them (him and Silas as we are going to see soon) orally or by their epistle. So these observation are already enough to disqualify the so-called Orthodox oral tradition of today’s contemporary Orthodoxy. 

b) Now we need to find out exactly what the Word of God wants to teach us, Christians of all times, by Paul’s instructing the Thessalonians to hold fast to what they have been taught. In order to do this listen extra carefully, please, to the very meaning of the words in this Bible verse. I say this because there is a big issue of reading without comprehension. This way of superficial reading is a great tool used by Satan; he twists the spiritual teaching of the Word of God by using the very Word of God out of context. There is nothing new under the Sun. This is the same Satan, using the same strategy when he tempted the God-Man in the wilderness two thousand years ago. He came to Jesus with a twisted quote of God’s word with the intention to deviate Jesus from the ways of God (Matt. 4:3-6).

Let us listen carefully now to these words again. I’ll read the verse pausing with a question after each idea like this: “Hold the traditions…” just pause a bit here. Yes, hold the traditions, rightly so, but whose traditions is he talking about? What traditions? Is Paul instructing the Thessalonians to hold the tradition of saint so and so? NO, absolutely not! By the contrary, Paul instructs the Thessalonians to hold fast to a specific tradition as follows:

a very specific initially taught / original tradition: “which ye have been

taught;

  • taught by a very specific group of people: taught by us, the Apostles,

through “our epistle”;

  • addressed to a very specific group of people: ye that have been

taught”;

  • a tradition heard first with their own ears from the Apostles’ mouth our

epistle;

  • taught out of a very specific source: “out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:1).

To recap, this Bible verse is teaching the Thessalonians Christians specifically to hold fast to the traditions which ye (that means the Thessalonians) have been taught already (namely by the Apostles); and this teaching as coming from the Apostles whether by word, or our epistle. This is the tradition that we, the Apostles taught, not traditions created by others, randomly heard here and there, and originating from any source.

We will see in a few moments what this very Bible verse is actually teaching us; but before we do that, let us clarify another detail. I just quoted Acts 17:1-2. What does it say? This is where we see precisely what traditions Paul and Silas initially taught the Thessalonians and specifically which traditions Paul instructed them (and us) to hold fast to. We read here that Paul and Silas “came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures. I urge you, dear listeners, readers and video watchers, to listen carefully to what this text is communicating to us. We read in here that when Paul visited Thessalonica, three Sabbath days he reasoned with them out of the scriptures. These three Sabbath days means he spent three weeks there. This entire time Paul taught their people, talked to them, preached to them, verbally communicated to them, what? The scriptures. Did I say that Paul preached the scriptures to the Thessalonians? Yes, I did. How do I know that? From the very same Bible verse which says out of the scriptures.

All right, now we have everything lined up. First, Paul visited the Thessalonians and preached to them the scriptures. Then, while writing the second epistle he reminds them to hold the traditions they have been taught, whether by his word when he visited or by their (his and other Apostles’) epistle.

I want to remind you again that when Paul instructed them to hold fast the taught tradition, he did that because the tradition was out of the scriptures. Being out of the scriptures meant it was given by Jesus’ revelation, and so was his second epistle that he was writing to them at the moment. Of course, some argue against this by showing the Gospel was not complete by that time. However, this text in 2 Tess. 2:15 mentions the scriptures, which are all from God, the Old and New Testaments (see 2 Tim. 3:16). Jesus qualifies anything and everything else that is NOT in Scripture as “doctrines and commandments of men” which are taught in vain (Matthew 15:9).

Now that we know what Paul did NOT mean by the word tradition in 2 Tess. 2:15, I hope that we have perceived what he did actually want to teach us. He teaches us to hold fast to the tradition that he verbally taught during the three weeks of preaching the scriptures in Thessalonica, as it is specifically mentioned in Acts 17:1-2; and, surely so, in full agreement also with Paul’s other teaching from Galatians 1:8-9.

The major two key points have to do with:

1. The authors of the named tradition – these are known people and, more than that, these are the Apostles that have been trusted and guided by the Holy Spirit with writing the Bible.

2. The source of the tradition used by the authors in teaching it – the Holy Scripture.

At this point it seems to me that it will be very beneficial to bring some proof from the Orthodox Tradition too. However, since we are talking about the Orthodox tradition, let us understand what the actual Orthodox Holy Tradition is. Because, as we are going to see right away, there are two types of traditions in Orthodoxy. I’ll quote now Fr. John Kalomas, the priest of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, as he explains the matter of Orthodox Tradition during a professionally recorded video entitled “Understanding the Orthodox Faith”. Fr. John talks at minute 6:33 about the Orthodox tradition in these terms:

“We have two traditions: the capital T and the little t. The capital T is the dogmatically issue of what has been established… then he goes on talking on some Orthodox rituals stating that these rituals, quote, Christ Himself established at the mystical supper, and then the disciples imitated that”.

Fr. John made some other questionable statements during this speech, but I don’t need to deal with those at this point. What I want to comment on from his very words has to do with his declaration pertaining to the origin of the practiced Orthodox rituals. He admits that these practices Christ Himself established at the mystical supper, and then the disciples imitated that. Did we hear that? Leaving aside the other questionable statements, I want to focus our attention on this: Fr. Jon Kalomas declares emphatically that Orthodox Christianity practices what Christ Himself established at the mystical supper, and then the disciples imitated that.

Now here is my question: if Orthodox Christianity is practicing the rituals that Christ Himself established at the mystical supper, and then the disciples imitated that, why do they need to import rituals, teachings, and customs that come from earthly people, by oral tradition from mouth to mouth over many generations? Why don’t they stay with what they claim to be with, namely what Christ Himself established at the mystical supper, and then the disciples imitated that?

Next point is this: According to the Encyclical document quoted above “our faith is not of men nor by man, but by revelation of Jesus Christ, which the divine Apostles preached, the holy Ecumenical Councils confirmed, the greatest and wisest teachers of the world handed down in succession, and the shed blood of the holy martyrs ratified”. Now then, since our faith is not of men nor by man, why then are they looking for men’s traditions? Are these traditions preached by the divine Apostles? Are they from the Bible? Are they part of Jesus’ establishment at the mystical supper? And because they aren’t, why is the contemporary Orthodoxy giving them any credit? Are we Christians, namely Christ’s followers, or are we men’s followers? How do we keep the command of the above document by the order “Let us hold fast to the confession which we have received unadulterated from such men, turning away from every novelty as a suggestion of the devil”? Are we not fearing God? Do we dare to commit the sin of bringing man’s tradition along with Jesus’ revelation? Anybody and everybody that will lean their ears towards men’s traditions must know that is cursed two times: once by God’s Word in Galatians 1:8-9 and the second time by the Patriarchs in the above stated document called Encyclical, in § 20.  

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Cyril of Alexandria, John, Book 1, CHAPTER IX. 

John 1:12 “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on His Name”.

A right judgement verily and worthy of God! The firstborn, Israel, is cast out; for he would not abide in ownness with God, nor did lie receive the Son, Who came among His own, he rejected the Bestower of Nobility, he thrust away the Giver of Grace: the Gentiles received Him by faith. Therefore will Israel with reason receive the wages of their folly, they will mourn the loss of good things, they will receive the bitter fruit of their own ill-counsel, bereft of the sonship; and the Gentiles will delight themselves in the good things that are through faith, they shall find the bright rewards of their obedience and shall be planted out in his place. For they shall be cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and be grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree. And Israel shall hear, “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger…” But one of Christ’s disciples shall say to the Gentiles, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light”. For since they received the Son through faith, they receive the power to be ranked among the sons of God. For the Son gives what is His alone and specially and of nature to be in their power, setting it forth as common, making this a sort of image of the love for man that is inherent to Him, and of His love for the world. For in none other way could we who bore the image of the earthy escape corruption, unless the beauty of the image of the heavenly were impressed upon us, through our being called to sonship. For being partakers of Him through the Spirit, we were sealed unto likeness with Him and mount up to the primal character of the Image after which the Divine Scripture says we were made. For thus hardly recovering the pristine beauty of our nature, and re-formed unto that Divine Nature, shall we be superior to the ills that have befallen us through the transgression. Therefore we mount up unto dignity above our nature for Christ’s sake, and we too shall be sons of God, not like Him in exactitude, but by grace in imitation of Him. For He is Very Son, existing from the Father; we adopted by His Kindness, through grace receiving “I have said, Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High”. For the created and subject nature is called to what is above nature by the mere nod and will of the Father: but the Son and God and Lord will not possess this being God and Son, by the will of God the Father, nor in that He wills it only, but beaming forth of the Very Essence of the Father, He receives to Himself by Nature what is Its own Good. And again He is clearly seen to be Very Son, proved by comparison with ourselves. For since that which is by Nature has another mode of being from that which is by adoption, and that which is in truth from that which is by imitation, and we are called sons of God by adoption and imitation: hence He is Son by Nature and in truth, to Whom we made sons too are compared, gaining the good by grace instead of by natural endowments”.

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Part I: What The Bible Is

 

“The Bible is in a sense a biography of God in this world. In it the Indescribable One has in a sense described Himself.

 

The Holy Scriptures of the New Testament are a biog­raphy of the incarnate God in this world. In them it is related how God, in order to reveal Himself to men, sent God the Logos, who took on flesh and became man – and as a man told men everything that God is, everything that God wants from this world and the people in it.

 

God the Logos revealed God’s plan for the world and God’s love for the world. God the Word spoke to men about God with the help of words, insofar as human words can con­tain the uncontainable God.

 

All that is necessary for this world and the people in it – the Lord has stated in the Bible. In it He has given the answers to all questions. There is no question which can torment the human soul, and not find its answer, either directly or in­directly in the Bible.

 

Men cannot devise more questions than there are answers in the Bible. If you fail to find the answer to any of your questions in the Bible, it means that you have either posed a sense-less question or did not know how to read the Bible and did not finish reading the answer in it.

 

In the Bible God has made known:

 

[1] what the world is; where it came from; why it exists; where it is heading; how it will end;

 

[2] what man is; where he comes from; where he is going; what he is made of; what his purpose is; how he will end;

 

[3] what animals and plants are; what their purpose is; what they are used for;

 

[4] what good is; where it comes from; what it leads to; what its purpose is; how it is attained;

 

[5] what evil is; where it comes from; how it came to exist; why it exists – how it will come to an end;

 

[6] what the righteous are and what sinners are; how a sin­ner becomes righteous and how an arrogant flghteous man becomes a sinner; how a man serves God and how he serves satan; the whole path from good to evil, and from God to satan;

 

[7] everything – from the beginning to the end; man’s entire path from the body to God, from his conception in the womb to his resurrection from the dead;

 

[8] what the history of the world is, the history of heaven and earth, the history of mankind; what their path, purpose, and end are.

 

In the Bible God has said absolutely everything that was necessary to be said to men. The biography of every man-­everyone without exception – is found in the Bible.

 

In it each of us can find himself portrayed and thoroughly described in detail: all those virtues and vices which you have and can have and cannot have.

 

You will find the paths on which your own soul and everyone else’s journey from sin to siniessness, and the entire path from man to God and from man to Satan. You will find the means to free yourself from sin.

 

In short, you will find the complete history of sin and sin­fulness, and the complete history of righteousness and the righteous.

 

If you are mournful, you will find consolation in the Bible; if you are sad, you will find joy; if you are angry – tranquility; if you are lustful – continence; if you are foolish – wisdom; if you are bad – goodness; if you are a criminal – mercy and righteousness; if you hate your fellow man – love.

 

In it you will find a remedy for all your vices and weak points, and nourishment for all your virtues and accomplishments.

 

If you are good, the Bible will teach you how to become better; if you are kind, it will teach you angelic tenderness; if you are intelligent, it will teach you wisdom.

 

If you appreciate the beauty and music of literary style, there is nothing more beautiful or more moving than what is contained in Job, Isaiah, Solomon, David, John the Theologian and the Apostle Paul. Here music – the angelic music of the eternal truth of God – is clothed in human words.

 

The more one reads and studies the Bible, the more he finds reasons to study it as often and as frequently as he can. According to St. John Chrysostom, it is like an aromatic root, which produces more and more aroma the more it is rubbed” (by Archimandrite Justin Popovich).

 

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“The holy apostles were the first god-men by grace. Like the Apostle Paul each of them, by his integral life, could have said of himself: “I live, yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2:20). Each of them is a Christ repeated; or, to be more exact, a continuation of Christ. Everything in them is theanthropic because everything was received from the God-man. Apostolicity is nothing other than the God-manhood of the Lord Christ, freely assimilated through the holy struggles of the holy virtues: faith, love, hope, prayer, fasting, etc. This means that everything that is of man lives in them freely through the God-man, thinks through the God-man, feels through the God-man, acts through the God-man and wills through the God-man. For them, the historical God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the supreme value and the supreme criterion. Everything in them is of the God-man, for the sake of the God-man, and in the God-man. And it is always and everywhere thus. That for them is immortality in the time and space of this world. Thereby are they even on this earth partakers of the theanthropic eternity of Christ.

This theanthropic apostolicity is integrally continued in the earthly successors of the Christ-bearing apostles: in the holy fathers. Among them, in essence, there is no difference: the same God-man Christ lives, acts, enlivens and makes them all eternal in equal measure, He Who is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). Through the holy fathers, the holy apostles live on with all their theanthropic riches, theanthropic worlds, theanthropic holy things, theanthropic mysteries, and theanthropic virtues. The holy fathers in fact are continuously apostolizing, whether as distinct godlike personalities, or as bishops of the local churches, or as members of the holy ecumenical and holy local councils. For all of them there is but one Truth, one Transcendent Truth: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Behold, the holy ecumenical councils, from the first to the last, confess, defend, believe, announce, and vigilantly preserve but a single supreme value: the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ” (St. Justin Popovich).

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“The principal characteristic of falling into sin is always the same: wanting to be good for one’s own sake; wanting to be perfect for one’s own sake; wanting to be God for one’s own sake. In this manner, however, man unconsciously equates himself to the devil, because the devil also wanted to become God for his own sake, to put himself in the place of God. And in this self-elevation he instantly became devil, completely separated from God, and always in opposition to Him.

Therefore, the essence of sin, of every sin (svegreha), consists of this arrogant self-aggrandizement. This is the very essence of the devil himself, of Satan. It is nothing other than one’s wanting to remain within one’s own being, wanting nothing within one’s self other than oneself. The entire devil is found here: in the desire to exclude God, in the desire to always be by himself, to always belong only to himself, to be entirely within himself and always for himself, to be forever hermetically sealed in opposition to God and everything that belongs to God.

And what is this? It is egotism and self-love embraced in all eternity, that is to say: it is hell. For that is essentially what the humanist is – entirely within himself, by himself, for himself, always spitefully closed in opposition to God. Here lies every humanism, every hominism. The culmination of such satanically oriented humanism is the desire to become good for the sake of evil, to become God for the sake of the devil. It proceeds from the promise of the devil to our forefathers in Paradise—that with his help, “they would become as gods” (Gen. 3: 5). Man was created with theanthropic potential by God who loves mankind, so that he might voluntarily direct himself, through God, toward becoming God-man, based on the divinity of his nature. Man, however, with his free will sought sinlessness through sin, sought God through the devil. And assuredly, following this road he would have become identical with the devil had not God interceded in His immeasurable love of mankind and in His great mercy.

By becoming man, that is to say God-man, he redirected man toward the God-man. He introduced him to the Church which is his body, to the reward (podvig) of theosis through the holy mysteries and the blessed virtues. And in this manner he gave man the strength to become “a perfect man, in the measure of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13), to achieve, that is, the Divine destiny, to voluntarily become God-man by grace.

The fall of the pope is a consequence of the desire to substitute man for the God-man…In the kingdom of humanism the place of the God-man had been usurped by the Vicarius Christi, and the God-man has thus been exiled to Heaven. This surely results in a peculiar deincarnation of Christ the God-man, does it not?

Through the dogma of infallibility the pope usurped for himself, that is for man, the entire jurisdiction and all the prerogatives which belong only to the Lord God-man. He effectively proclaimed himself as the Church, the papal church, and he has become in her the be-all and end-all, the self-proclaimed ruler of everything. In this way the dogma of the infallibility of the pope has been elevated to the central dogma (svedogma) of the papacy. And the pope cannot deny this in any way as long as he remains pope of a humanistic papacy” (Quotes from St. Justin Popovich on the Papacy).

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Death, in Bible’s terms means separation from God. Here is the demonstration.

The Orthodox Bible makes known to us the following things as a note at the bottom page 1325 (Mathews 27:46): “Jesus’ cry ‘Why have You forsaken Me?’ could be misinterpreted as a cry of despair. Since He took on our nature, Jesus experiences our alienation from God in His humanity, knowing our suffering and distress, yet He does not despair. He speaks these words in the name of humanity, completely identifying with us in our condition…” (for those that love O.T. this is fulfilling the picture of Leviticus 16:8-10).

Thus, our condition as humanity guilty of sin is to pay the wages of sin being forsaken by God. Even Jesus that was God of true God and man of true man (but without sin) had to die and be separated from God when He took you and me upon Him on the Cross. Yes, He came back from the tomb because, according to the above notes from the Orthodox Bible, He experienced our alienation from God in His humanity. He speaks these words (why forsaken Me) in the name of humanity, completely identifying with us in our condition. But as far as He was concerned He was still Jesus, the Son of God and He had to come back after fulfilling that substitutionary death for us, again, by completely identifying with us in our condition.

Now, He paid the wages of sin by dying  on our behalf being identified with us up to the point of being made sin for us by God (2 Corinthians 5:21). He has done that in the name of humanity, that means for the entire  human race. However, because man is made with a free will each member of the human race must accept Jesus’ substitutionary death willingly and consciously for himself/herself. We read in the Orthodox Bible in the note on page 1531 that “In Christ, we too can voluntarily die to sin through baptism”. This truth is perfectly aligned with Romans 6:8 where we read, “If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him”.

This is a summary to what has been said so far.

1. The wages of sin is death, namely eternal separation from God.

2. Praise God, He showed mercy to us and sent His only begotten Son to take on a human body like ours (but without sin), then He was made by God to be sin for us (2 Cor. 5:21) by completely identifying with us in our condition and thus  paying our separation from God there on the Cross (Mathews 27:46).

3. Now, because we have free will only “IF we died with Christ we shall also live with Him” (Romans 6:8). Since death in Scripture means separation, the only way of dying with Christ is, as He did, to go into separation from ourselves, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING that comes from ourselves. That means that we will voluntarily forget forever everything and anything that springs from ourselves pertaining to Christianity, like in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new”. I said that we have to do that voluntarily according to the bottom notes of the Orthodox Bible’s page 1531 “In Christ, we too can voluntarily die to sin through baptism” (and talking on the matter of baptism only a conscious man can be baptized because only a conscious man can volunteer in order to fulfill the required voluntarily).

 

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What is very interesting to note, just before I start, is that today’s Orthodoxy doesn’t necessarily negate its foundation laid down by our Forefathers but rather avoid it substituting it with surrogates. So before  presenting any of the doctrines the way that they have been written down from the very beginning by the pioneers of our faith in this material I am going to present a piece of information pertaining to the way that today’s Orthodoxy arrived at the point  of being radically different and almost unrecognizable.

 

As far as the basis of my pleads  it is necessary to know that I will not say too much from myself and my own mind as much as bringing historical documents signed by the most renown and respected Forefathers of our faith and also a multitude of writers honored by our Orthodox Church. I am going to let them speak. I can be, perhaps, considered an impartial. Let the Forefathers of our faith speak, let people with authority tell us what is going on.

 

1. I’ll start by inviting a saint from the early year 200 to speak to us. Very soon, after the departure of Jesus’ Apostles, St. Hippolytus of Rome tells us that “many heresies evolved because the teachers didn’t want to teach people the Apostle’s doctrines but taught and did what they wanted to according to their own pleasures[1].

You’ll find in the application “Categories – Exploring the Orthodox Faith” of this blog what is the real foundation of our Orthodox faith as it has been established by its pioneers, our very honorable Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church. Not only that, but as far as the theology goes this foundation has been accepted and validated unanimously by all the saints during the centuries till today with all their heart. Even today’s Orthodoxy agrees (in theory) with this foundation undoubtedly. Nobody will deny this canon of the church presented in my above named application of this blog. More than that, the most authoritative contemporary Orthodox theologians mostly all over the world honor the Forefather’s canon by paying the given full respect in their writings.

So, there is no problem with theoretically accepting the real and original foundation of the church. The contemporary Orthodoxy issue has to do with importing so much pagan costumes and rituals that it actually sinks the reality.

 

What takes place today in the Orthodoxy is well illustrated by a happening that took place many years ago in Romania. It was in a very cold February. The most prominent family of the community in a mountain site was celebrating the baptism of their infant. The guests were to leave their heavy coats in an entry room not very well lighted laid down on a bed because there were too many. A young family with their little baby of about 6 months old fed the little one, gave him a good bath at home and now being ready for a two hour nap went to the celebration. After arriving mom checked the baby one more time to make sure that he is deeply asleep, kissed him on the cheek, laid him down on the bed beside the coats and went to the dining room to eat and have fun. When the two hours sleeping time was approaching mom asked her husband to check on the little one to see whether is awake or not. But as soon as the father approached the child he screamed as loud as he could. Everybody was terrified by this screaming and running to the coats room found out that the little one died asphyxiated. What happened? With the coats’ room not being lighted properly people that came later in a big hurry didn’t pay attention to the little one laying down on the same bed to sleep and just threw their coats over the child until the little one had no more air to breath.

 

This is pretty much the illustration of our contemporary Orthodoxy. I don’t go that far of saying that the Orthodoxy doesn’t exist but it is rather “asphyxiated”. It is so difficult to find out the original Orthodoxy in our days. Go to any Orthodox church you want, take an Orthodox Bible and a copy of a Church’ canon[2], open them both and then try to find in either one of them a parallel to the way that the church building is furnished and all the customs and rituals that are performed in it. The multitude of customs and rituals performed in today’s Orthodox Church did actually “asphyxiate” the young Child.

 

Now, since the Christians that are unaware of today’s state of the Orthodox Church might not like what I say I want to let some of the other renowned Orthodox clergy that have authority in the Church talk to us. They should be paid attention to because they are in charge to say it.

For instance, let’s listen to Father Alexander Schmemann[3]. He invites his readers to reconsider the origins, to understand the original sense of existence, especially the religious one. By not doing this, Fr. Alexander Schmemann seriously warns that Christians between their prophesied faith and its actuality practice in their lives will hear Jesus’ terrible saying “woe to you[4], addressed to the Pharisees. He is exceedingly concerned with the state of today’s Church in regard of its departure from its original state.

 

Now, since Fr. Schmemann already recalled Mathew 23:13 I want to quote the notes in regard of this verse found in the Orthodox Bible, page 1313 that goes like this: “(2) God is our true Father and Teacher. A teacher or father on earth is one who leads people to God. The scribes and Pharisees do the opposite, placing themselves in God’s position (vv.8-12). (3) In His eightfold indictment of the scribes and Pharisees (vv.13-36) Jesus charges them with inverting God’s values and with being mean-spirited, judgmental, greedy, ambitious, absorbed in externals, and blindly self-righteous. While these charges were directed against the Jewish leaders of the day, every word applies equally to those in the Church who behave in this way”. Try to  carefully read these charges of the Bible, give heed to the attributions of God’s teachers on the earth, compare everything with what is going on today in the Church and then draw a conclusion.    

 

Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas held a conference on December 4, 1999 at Balamand on “The Orthodox Church and the Third Millennium[5]. While, truly so, he was addressing the European Christianity I challenge you to prove that there is any difference between their state and ours. He said among many other things that the difficulties we face today is that we don’t like it anymore to see in Jesus our Lord Christ, the Son of God incarnated, crucified and resurrected in the Holy Ghost for our redemption. We rather like to see Jesus the Man, our older brother engaged in everything with us, including the sin…

 

The list goes on and on. As I stated already, I challenge every concerned Christian just to do a personal check confronting the Orthodox Bible along with the Church’s canon with what is going on in today’s Church. As far as I understood God’s call, as an Orthodox Christian who’s faith has its roots in the Patriarch’s foundation, I’ll do my best in proving the very basis of our Orthodox faith. I do NOT back up from any critique whatsoever from anybody who will correct my points of view. However, if the comments are not proven clearly with the Bible I want to let you know that will be a wasted time from your part addressing them to me. Do we not have already enough things according to our own likes/dislikes? We don’t need any teaching from anybody else, not even from an angel. And here is the reason (from both views, Bible’s and Holy Tradition’s):

1. Paul, the Apostle gives us this exceedingly important warning[6]: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed”.

2. We go now to the REAL Holy Orthodox Tradition and read it as follows: “It is prohibited to us to introduce anything according to our own like/dislike, neither according to anybody else’s like/dislike. We have founders/teachers (autores) the Lord’s Apostles. They did not choose anything according to their own like/dislike to introduce it, but they directed with faith the gentiles into the teaching (disciplinam) received from Christ. Thus, even an angel from heaven would bring us another gospel, it will be told from us: anathema! (Galatians 1:8)[7].

 

In closing, though I have the below quote already in Exploring the Orthodox Faith under Categories of my blog I still want to mention it here too. I want my readers to know exactly and precisely what to expect from this blog as well from my Face book, Twitter and YouTube sites. I am Orthodox and because I am, not only claiming to be, my faith is deeply rooted in the foundation of the faith as it was laid down by our Patriarchs. Here is the last quote for today:

The holy, evangelical and divine Gospel of Salvation should be set forth by all in its original simplicity, and should evermore be believed in its unadulterated purity, even the same as it was revealed to His holy Apostles by our Savior, who for this very cause, descending from the bosom of God the Father, made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant (Phil. ii. 7); even the same, also, as those Apostles, who were ear and eye witnesses, sounded it forth, like clear-toned trumpets, to all that are under the sun (for their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words into the ends of the world); and, last of all, the very same as the many great and glorious Fathers of the Catholic Church in all parts of the earth, who heard those Apostolic voices, both by their synodical and their individual teachings handed it down to all everywhere, and even unto us[8].

 

This is what one should expect to find out on this site. Next time, God willing, I’ll start to bring up a number of Orthodox doctrines. Each and every  one will be presented from the Bible’s perspective as well from the Holy Tradition’s perspective. Here there are a few titles that you can expect: Bible and Holy Tradition; The Cross; Repentance; Baptism; The Worshippers that God Is Seeking; Salvation After death… and some others chosen randomly.

I also want to let everybody know that I am open to any other topics for discussion. Nevertheless, I need to remind you again, our discussions must have to do with the faith and supported by the Bible as well by the Holy Tradition of our Forefathers, the Patriarchs, the founders and the pioneers of the Orthodox Church.

 

 

In Christ,

Ernest Herman.


[1]St. Hippolytus of Rome, after B. Botee: Hippolyte de Rome, La Tradition Apostolique (Sources Chretiennes 11 bis), Cerf, 1968.

[4] Mathew 23:13

[6]Galatians 1:8-9

[7] This is a kind of transliteration after F. Refoule: Tertullien, Traite de la prescription contre les heretiques (Sources Chretiennes 46), Paris, 1957, p. 89-151. It is also available in English at “Tertullian, ca. 160-ca. 230: The Prescription Against Heretics, trans. by Peter Holmes (HTML with commentary at CCEL)”

[8] Encyclical of the Eastern Patriarchs, 1848A Reply to the Epistle of Pope Pius IX, “to the Easterns”, To all the Bishops Everywhere, Beloved in the Holy Ghost, Our Venerable, Most Dear Bretheren; and to their Most Pious Clergy; and to All the Genuine Orthodox Sons of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church; Brotherly Salutation in the Holy Spirit, and Every Good From God, and Salvation.

This document copied from the below link:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1848orthodoxencyclical.asp

 

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