Month: March 2010

Holy Week

I’ll be taking a break from the internet for the duration of Holy Week. I will resume posting and responding to e-mails and comments after Pascha. I pray that everyone has a fruitful Holy Week and a wonderful Holy Pascha!

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Rhology & Holy Tradition

Rhology:

I thought I would make a new thread for this because I don’t want to interfere with the conversation between Legion and yourself at the original thread.

Differing interps of traditions ARE THEMSELVES TRADITIONS, if they get passed down from one person to another.

Yes, that was, in part, my point. The other part of my point is that many of the things are part of the “tradition” of the Roman Catholic Church now didn’t exist only a couple of hundred years ago (case in point: Infallibility). You won’t find that with the Orthodox.

You THINK you’re living the experience of God’s church. To take your analogy further, you took all the travel guides, the ones that promised a pool and a massage, discarded the other ones, then went to a place with a massage and a pool and declared “Ah, India!”

Wait! They have pools and massages here? And all this time I’ve been doing crazy things like prostrating, almsgiving, standing in seemingly endless services, and fasting, geez… I need to switch parishes!

Actually, that’s exactly what many who are formerly of your church have done.
OOC, Copts, RCC, Arians.

Some people prefer their own understanding of things to the God-revealed Truth. Case in point… ahem… By the way, the Copts are part of the OOC — stop trying to cook the books.

Clearly not, since you don’t embrace everything that every early ch writer ever believed.

You’re right in a sense, but not in the way you think you are. Certainly we don’t believe everything that every Church Father has ever said; we don’t attribute any kind of infallibility to them. But it’s not a matter of “picking and choosing” as you accuse. It’s a matter of sorting the wheat from the chaff and that is accomplished through drawing things out to their logical conclusions. There is a concensus amongst all of the Fathers on the central points of Faith — the dogmas; all of the Fathers, for instance, agree upon the Trinity, the Incarnation, and the Atonement. Once we outline what these things are that all of them without exception agree upon, we can take a look at the points where they disagreed and see who is following the dogmas through to their logical conclusions. For instance, there are Church Fathers who rejected Icons (though none of the ones you’ve named thus far in your attempts), but it is not very difficult to see that they were, first, departing from the more ancient and the majority opinion, but, more importantly, that they did not realize the full implications of a given individual opinion which they averred. Everything that is part of the Orthodox Faith today is there from the very beginning, alongside things that are not part of the Faith. It’s not that we chose this and denied that, it’s that this makes more sense in the light of the dogmas of the Faith than that does. It’s not a problem for the Orthodox there are other opinions present amongst the Father than those the Church came to “officially” endorse, as all of our Faith is there, but it is a major historical problem for Protestants that none of the doctrines which set them apart from other Christians (such as the solas) are anywhere to be found.

Clearly not, since you can’t tell me what the early ch blvd with any degree of certainty; at best you can sort of tell me what certain early WRITERS blvd, but that’s potentially a very long way from properly representing the laity.

This is, of course, only if we’re willing to throw out everything we think we know about history. I find it rather hard to believe that in a Church which stretched from Ethiopia and the Sudan in the south to Gaul in the north and from Spain in the west to India in the east, which embraced dozens of ethnicities and cultures (Arabs, Greeks, Jews, Ethiopians, Germans, etc.) and which spoke a variety of languages (Latin, Greek, Syriac, Coptic, etc.) the only people that wrote were the handful who had completely fallen away from the Apostolic Faith. Were the heretics the only ones with pens? And, since these heretics are the ones who chose the books of our New Testament and recopied them in manuscripts to preserve them for us today, how do we know they didn’t inject their heretical beliefs into the New Testament? Why do I find it so easy to read the New Testament and see Orthodox theology laid out in plain words — could it be because these Orthodox heretics perverted the Scriptures?

How do you know what God said?

My Bible has two very lovely leather covers on each side. How about you?

And how do you know that your Bible contains everything that God said (which he wanted to preserve for you today) and contains nothing that God didn’t say and didn’t want you to adhere to today?

I’d be impressed if you could find me an early Church writer who believed in infallibility.

If I get to discard everything that doesn’t agree with my position, like you do, the task is beyond easy.

Then do it.

List of Orthodox charities, missionary efforts, clinics, etc.

While looking for organizations and causes to whom to donate our extra resources during the Lenten season, my wife and I compiled a list of various Orthodox charities, missionary efforts, clinics, etc., especially those that are little-known and in need of support. Since I haven’t seen anything like the list we compiled anywhere else online, I thought that I might share the fruits of our research with you all and direct you to some of these organizations which provide such a great service to the Church and to all mankind, and which are in need of our help to continue to render their services. I will maintain this blog post as a permanent page and include a tab at the top of my blog with a link to it for ease of reference. I will also update the list with other organizations and causes as I find out about them. If you know of any that aren’t listed, please let me know in the comments to this post and I will promptly add them.

Calvinism is still Gnosticism

You know what’s interesting? When I first started pointing out that Calvinism is essentially a redux of Gnosticism it was entirely due to my own observations; I had never heard anybody say anything like that previously. I was reading St. Irenaeus of Lyon’s Against Heresies at the time and as I went on I realized more and more that what he was describing about the Gnostics matches exactly the beliefs of Calvinists, sometimes even with the same terminology. Since that “discovery,” though, I’ve been surprised by the great amount of people I’ve come across who have reached the exact same conclusion independently. Even Bishop Julian of Eclanum, one of St. Augustine’s chief opponents within his own lifetime, noted that Augustine seemed to be carrying a lot of Gnostic baggage into his Christianity.

Whenever I raise this point to Calvinists, their only defense seems to be to deny Gnostic terminology. “The elect aren’t saved by nature as the Gnostics say; the elect are saved by grace.” Terminology aside, Calvinists and Gnostics are saying the exact same thing; the Gnostics are just being more honest about it. The elect are born to be saved and so, for all practical purposes, are born saved irregardless of anything they may or may not do (just as the non-elect are born damned irregardless of anything they may or may not do). You don’t have to say it’s part of your “nature” to be saved, but if salvation is something that you are born into or born to do — it’s part of your nature, simple as that. The Gnostics said it was because of the “divine spark,” and the Calvinists say it’s because of “grace.” Different terminology, same soteriology.

I want to recommend that everyone take a listen to this excellent audio lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Macdonald (an expert in early Christian history and a member of my former parish) in which he discusses St. Augustine’s unique theology and the overwhelming influence it has had on the West, both Roman Catholic and Protestant. He also briefly touches on the Gnostic influence that led Augustine to some of his erroneous conclusions. The most interesting aspect, for me, is the look that Dr. Macdonald takes at the reaction amongst other Christian Fathers, such as Ss. John Cassian and Vincent of Lerins, to Augustine’s theology.

By the way, his whole series of lectures is great. Apparently, he gave them at the parish he attends (and I used to attend and hope to get back to once the Army days are over), St. John the Forerunner Orthodox Church in Cedar Park, Texas; I wasn’t around when he gave any of them, though, so they’re all new (and very exciting) to me.