I will be happy to answer your questions on whose authority I say that your previous statements are defunct; and on whose authority I can say that the Seven Churches were schismatic; and also on the true assessments made by St Victorinus on what and who the Seven Churches represent.
Firstly, it is on your own authority that your previous statements are defunct. You have given two opposing and contrary explanations of the Seven Churches, each denying the truthfulness of the other. If the Seven Churches were simply local churches, as you maintained, which had “problems” that John had addressed for their own time-frame; then this explanation is defunct if at the same time they represent seven epochs, as you later maintained. Why go to the trouble of arguing for one opinion when you voluntarily dismantle it with that of another?
First, I was not putting forward merely my own personal opinions. It is a basic requirement of debate in matters of substance that what we say has a basis in authority. That will be scriptural (as explained by patristic tradition), patristic, or liturgical. Secondly, it is understood in Orthodoxy that the Church comprises local Churches – this does not require explanation. It is to this that St Victorinus refers in the quotation from his work which I gave: the ‘seven churches, of the one Catholic Church’.
You see inconsistency where there is none. Scripture makes use of a number of literary devices although allegory is rare. Symbolism is, however, very common. The Book of Revelation is difficult because it uses a mixture of historical and symbolic devices, and this has caused Protestants to go astray in their understanding of Revelation. Like the Ethiopian, Orthodox acknowledge their need of a guide (see Acts 8:26-40). As Fr David has explained, Archbishop Averky distilled Orthodox commentary and tradition into his book on Revelation. This book, it should be noted, is widely accepted as the best guide to Revelation that we have. The use of real situations in time as types or symbols is a standard literary device, and it is used by St John in his writings about the seven Churches.
I ask also..., where is the evidence that these churches were simply a local concern on the par of Corinth, Cenchrea, Colossae, etc.? You have not submitted any evidence for this; and yet you demand lessor reason for evidence from myself!
The quotation from St Victorinus is explicit about this as I have explained.
Secondly, the Churches were not simply experiencing “problems” as you maintain; they were schismatic . . .
I don’t know how often I have to say this: these Churches were not separated from each other or from the One Church by schism. Do you understand what ‘schism’ is? Were these Churches not in communion with one another? We read about immorality and false doctrines in St Paul’s Epistles but nowhere does St Paul speak of schism – only of people in the Church who had fallen into false beliefs.
Thirdly, the true assessments of St Victorinus... As much of the book is missing; we need to skip through to relevant passages which explain his opinions.
The Church of Ephesus is called “such a class, and such elected persons” (2:2)… “because you yourself hate those who hold the doctrines of the Nicolaitans” (2:6). This church is firmly opposed to the Church of Pergamum who “hold to the doctrines of the Nicolaitans.”
The Church of Ephesus is called “another order which follows” (2:6). This order was successive, which is why they are assumed to be “epochs”. Unlike some of the other churches, “they deny the blasphemy of the Jews, who say that they are Jews and are not; but they are the synagogue of Satan, since they are gathered together by Antichrist.”
The Church of Pergamum is called “The third order of the saints… who are inclined to unlawful associations” (2:14). He says, “You have among you those who hold such doctrine (of Balaam); and under the pretext of mercy, you would corrupt others” (2:14). This particular church, whom you say was part of the Orthodox Church, was teaching false doctrines.
The Church of Thyatira is called “The fourth class” who “listen to new forms of prophesying.” (2:17)
The Church of Sardis is called “fifth class, company, or association of saints.” (3:1) These ones are “Christians only in name”; “as it is not enough to be called a Christian and to confess Christ, but not to have Himself in our work, that is, not to do His precepts.”
The Church of Philadelphia is called the “sixth class” which “is the mode of life of the best election” (3:2).
The Church of Laodicea is called the “the seventh association of the Church” (3:12). They are “neither unbelieving nor believing, for they are all things to all men.”
but history is silent about the epochs of the church as you have distinctly favoured.
Please stick to the norms of debate: I have not ‘distinctly favoured’ anything. You must not skew things people have written in this way. I have followed what Archbishop Averky has written.
I have given evidence and consistent argument for why these churches represent the successive stages of schisms that developed in the One Holy and Catholic Church, which includes all of Christendom.
You have given only your own interpretation: this is not evidence.
What is wanting and waiting is ANY evidence from the silent quarters which claim that the Seven Churches are imagined only to be the Orthodox believers. I will wait to the end of the next life to find such evidence, as there is none. It is an imaginary ghost-ride that makes noises with no substance. Please correct me if I am wrong. Please submit your own evidence for your extreme claims. I have shown evidence from the Orthodox fathers that they are in agreement with me.
You do put things the wrong way round! You should say that you are in agreement with the Orthodox Fathers not that they are in agreement with you! But which Orthodox Fathers have you put in evidence? I repeat: the Orthodox Church adopts with gratitude Archbishop Averky’s book. You should read it. If you cannot accept what he writes, then understand that you are likely to be in error. There is nothing more I can say.