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Efficacy of the Sacraments


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 01:59 PM

So...bickering, selfishness, apathy, ethnocentrism, complacency... this is what we have to look forward to in the Kingdom??

 

 

As an Orthodox Christian, you know, or should know, what the Church truly is, and so to suggest that the Church is just an organisation on earth run by fallible people is disingenuous.


#22 Phoebe K.

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 03:05 PM

Algernon, having lived most of my life outside the fold of the Church before the Holy Spirit lead me to the haven on salvation I am conferdent in saying there is a distinct difference between the virtues as they are seen outside the Church and those manifested by members of the Church who are working hard with the Holy Spirit for their salvation.  I refuse to pass judgment on any of my brothers and sisters in Christ but I do know within myself how far I fall from being Christ like in my life at Church and everywhere elce. This is what we see in the Church all the time people falling, we all do so and we hope that one of our brethrin will help us up again, then when we are standing we help others, for as one of the desert fathers said our life is falling and getting up (sinning and repenting) until we are taken up to God as we are found at that time.

 

As I perceve it we do not seek the fruits of the Spirit for their own sake but rather they are given us when we seek after God and his Kingdom as Andreas has expressed.  The fruit we seek for most with our repentance is humility (and this I have never seen in it's fullness apart from in the saints of the Church).  shore the verteus are seen in the World, they were even at the time of Christ, what we have in the church is not a quantity abut a quality difference, we are not doing it in our own stretch but in Christ's.  In the end it is about our relationship with Christ, and once grace has touched you, you are marked for life and nothing apart form that relationship will do, all thing are enveloped by it and seen through it.  we lose ourselves in Christ to come back to ourselves how we truly are and be restored in relationship not just with each other, but with God in whom we live and move and have our being.

 

Phoebe



#23 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 12 June 2014 - 04:27 PM

To support and expand on what Phoebe says, there must be a difference between Orthodox Christians and others otherwise we should wonder what the point is of being Orthodox. The gifts of the Holy Spirit and all good works done for our neighbours are only means to an end, and must be done for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of Christ as we Orthodox Christians know Him to be. Those outside the Church - the typical 'good citizen' if you will - may appear to be kinder than some Orthodox Christians, but doing good because it is socially beneficial avails nothing and does not bring the grace of God. Orthodox Christians should do good and employ the gifts bestowed upon them for Christ's sake, and with right faith in Christ, that is, Orthodox faith in Christ. I would add that this is not my opinion but closely follows the teaching of the Church as found in the words of St Seraphim of Sarov.



#24 Antonios

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Posted 13 June 2014 - 07:43 AM

I'm not trying to be controversial here. I really want to know: what actual good does it do to receive the sacraments?

 

I ask this for two reasons.

1. One would expect that if receiving the Eucharist produced holiness, Orthodox Christians would be obviously more holy than other Christians who do not believe in or receive the Eucharist. They are not.

 

2. My godson was plagued by demonic attacks before his "exorcism" and baptism. Months later, he is still being plagued by demonic attacks.

 

Thanks.

A

 

The devil has a special hatred for Orthodox Christians, and it is no coincidence that Orthodox Christians are amongst the most persecuted people in the history of the world.  When one chooses to follow Christ and commune with Him, they instantly become enemies of the demons.  How much more hatred do the demons have for those who go to His house and sup with Him and who celebrate His resurrection every Sunday together with all the saints and angels in the Kingdom of Heaven? 

 

Your experience, like mine, like everyone elses here, is quite limited.  We ought to be careful not to judge history against our miniscule fractional slice in it and role in it.

 

I have known many great model Christians who are not Orthodox, but my personal scope of acquaintances do not supplant or overrule the fact that the holiest people who have ever lived on this earth were baptized and practicing Orthodox Christians.  If I didn't believe that, then I would not be wasting my time trying to be a member of the Orthodox Church and rather be looking for the Church where this is true.   God glorifies His saints and He too is glorified by them.  

 

This is a reason why I go to Divine Liturgy every Sunday to worship God, because the holiest people who have ever lived also worship this way in the Kingdom and celebrate His glorious resurrection every Lord's Day in unity of faith, mind, and spirit with the Church Militant scattered in Orthodox churches across the globe.  This communal eucharistic celebration of joy which has kept one and undivided the body of Christ since the days of the Apostles. 

 

This is not the mere conjectures based on my own personal experiences.  This is what has been revealed and experienced by the Church.

 

Living the Orthodox sacramental life does not guarantee holiness.  Nor does it guarantee easy times.  In fact the opposite!  Striving for holiness (as seen in the Life of Anthony) generates the ire and hatred of the demons and following Christ like causes them to attack and promises the disciple a spiritual warfare and even difficult times. 

 

The greatest saints who ran the race and earned their crowns of victory, who lived godly lives and who converted entire nations and performed miracles by the grace of God, these greatest saints are those in the Orthodox Church.  That is why I remain Orthodox, because I value their collective scope and witness much greater then mine, especially knowing how easily my own demons return to attack me and how often I succumb.   Lord have mercy.


Edited by Antonios, 13 June 2014 - 07:57 AM.


#25 Algernon

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 11:08 AM

As an Orthodox Christian, you know, or should know, what the Church truly is, and so to suggest that the Church is just an organisation on earth run by fallible people is disingenuous.

 

Andreas, it was you who said that the Orthodox Church reflects the state of things in the Kingdom of Heaven and in the age to come. If that's the case, then we can expect a lot of selfish, childish, un-Christlike behavior in the age to come. If that's not so, then please tell me what it is in the Church on earth that really reflects the Kingdom. Just the good stuff, I guess, huh?

 

This communal eucharistic celebration of joy which has kept one and undivided the body of Christ since the days of the Apostles.

 

"One and undivided"? You can't possibly be serious. If that is what the Eucharist is intended to accomplish, then we can see that it is not effective in the least.



#26 Algernon

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 11:34 AM

Back to the "by their fruits you will recognize them" theme, I offer this article and ask anyone who cares to answer: why are Orthodox Christians not OUT THERE? I don't mean just with activism, but also--and more importantly--with missionary activity. Are we still the "best kept secret in North America"? 

 

http://www.huffingto...hp_ref=religion

 

A very good friend of mine considered very carefully coming into the Orthodox Church a number of years ago. He attended services, read all the requisite books, asked questions of the local priest, etc. And in the end, he decided to become Roman Catholic instead. Why? He said it was because, although the Orthodox Church can demonstrate better than anyone else that it is the "original Church," it is simply not engaged. It is not--according to him--living out the Gospel in the world. It is too self-centered, too territorial, too insulated. He said the RC may have its problems and doctrinal difficulties, but it is out there engaging the world, speaking out against injustice, serving the needy, living out the Gospel. I couldn't argue with him. And I certainly couldn't blame him. But I had to ask myself...

 

When I stand before Christ, will He ask me why I remained within a body of believers that insisted on staying unengaged and unknown?


Edited by Algernon, 19 June 2014 - 11:35 AM.


#27 Phoebe K.

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 02:09 PM

Algernon

 

Firstly there is a difference between the Bride of Christ the Church in her true form which is the kingdom of heaven and the incences of the Church on earth which is populated bay fallen people struggling on the road to salvation.  The Church afterall is a hospital and as Christ himself said, "It is not the well who need a docter but the sick".

 

You have identified one of the main issues in the Church in the west which is a unfortunate tendency to be inward looking, this I think is not really a cariterstic oft he faith but rather a caricteristic of being an expat community.  It is far from the case that all communities are like this, the parish I attend have worked hard from the beginning to be open to all and not become nationalistic (we have a rule in the parish to celibate in English so all can participate), I also know a Priest who is on his forth parish founding, all of the parishes having a 10% growth rate, which is only possible with a steady stream of converts.  I also know that there is a significant movement in the young adults to make the church more friendly to those who are seeking the truth, unforchantly we suffer from some who think how it was done in some village 50 + years ago is the right way so are stifling the dynamic nature of living tradition and the Holy Spirit with cultural practices.

 

I know in the UK the bishops are working to cut away many of the cultural traditions which stifle the church and impede Holy tradition, allowing the Church to be the dynamic witness she is superposed to be.  This is admittedly most noticeable in the younger members of the churches and the mission parishes, and in some jurisdiction more than others but the movement is happening, and the rate of people coming to orthodoxy in areas where it is happening shows that it is working.  Many people in the Church also do serve the community they live in just not in a overt way they Join in what is already going on and then when asked say why, I know in the UK at any rate those who shout about their faith are considered the least sincere and tend to be avoided my the majority of people.

 

Phoebe



#28 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 02:45 PM

Algernon, I am wondering what you believe when you say the Creed and get to 'One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church'. From what you are saying, you do not believe the Church is Holy.



#29 Algernon

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 03:37 PM

 ...unforchantly we suffer from some who think how it was done in some village 50 + years ago is the right way so are stifling the dynamic nature of living tradition and the Holy Spirit with cultural practices.

 

Very true. That is a major problem. What works in the Old World is not necessarily what works in the U.S.

 

Algernon, I am wondering what you believe when you say the Creed and get to 'One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church'. From what you are saying, you do not believe the Church is Holy.

 

I believe that there are many holy people in the Church.



#30 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 19 June 2014 - 05:05 PM

I believe that there are many holy people in the Church.


Do you believe the Church is Holy?



#31 Algernon

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 05:04 PM


Do you believe the Church is Holy?

 

Insofar as it is the Incarnation of Christ, yes.



#32 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 06:10 PM

The Church is not the 'Incarnation of Christ'. It is the Body of Christ Who is its Head. It is moved and guided by the Holy Spirit. That members of the Church Militant are sinners does not mean that the Church is not Holy. The Creed is plain and unequivocal: the Church is Holy - period. You have to believe that: if you don't, talk to your priest.



#33 Algernon

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 06:57 PM

Sorry, that should have read "insofar as it is like the Incarnation of Christ."



#34 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 20 June 2014 - 07:55 PM

Still has no meaning. Who gave you the authority to interpret an article of the Creed in your own way?



#35 Algernon

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 01:39 AM

Ok,

 

So anyway...

 

I still have yet to hear why it is that, if the Mysteries are truly effectual, Orthodox Christians as a whole are not only not apparently more holy or fervent in their faith, but in fact by and large are far more complacent than members of non-sacramental Christian traditions.

 

In other words: where are the fruits? If the Mysteries really had the qualities that we attribute to them, we would expect Orthodox Christian to far exceed non-sacramental Christians in their holiness, humility, fervor, joy, etc. etc. They don't. Why not?

 

AND....

 

...if someone truly loves Christ and desires with all their heart to follow Him, but CANNOT be part of the Orthodox Church because of the apparent deficiency of joy,  humility, activity, etc...can they be saved and become holy without the Mysteries? If so, what good are the Mysteries, really?



#36 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 07:56 AM

As to the first part, I think a lot of the earlier posts provided answers though there may be more that could be said. As to the second part, the Church is the ark of salvation; if a person seeks it, finds it, but then refuses to get on board because he thinks some people in it do not measure up to his expectations, then that person is foolish and forfeits his salvation. Where does it say, in scripture or in Holy Tradition, that a person should avoid the Church because of the failings of those in it? But in any case, how can you judge the 'joy, humility, activity' of others? How do you know their hearts? What the Church does say is that we should attend to ourselves. Certainly the Church is called to evangelize but not everyone has that gift. Nonetheless, as Phoebe has said, you cannot overlook the great work that is being done on various places. Nothing is more remarkable than the conversion of Albania since 1992: more than 200 ruined churches restored, 83 new churches built, 5 monasteries established, 123 priests trained. But each of us must attend to our own salvation.



#37 Ilaria

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 09:13 AM

You must me joking. The fruits you list are not seen to a lesser extent outside the Church, but in many cases to a much greater extent. That's the point of my original post.

 

 

So...bickering, selfishness, apathy, ethnocentrism, complacency... this is what we have to look forward to in the Kingdom??

It seems to me that you are interpreting responses in order to suit your personal approach. 

Orthodoxy is a free option, a calling. If you doubt this calling you have to ask yourself, then discuss with your spiritual father, what would be the choices; throwing words of discontent and indignation will not bring you nor to the ill person any good.



#38 Phoebe K.

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Posted 21 June 2014 - 12:44 PM

Algernon,

 

you seem to be trying to find a Church of those who have reached the goal and have obtained Theose, this simply dose not exist yet, we are all sinners struggling in this direction and very few achieve it while in this life and then only by a special gift of grace.

 

One saying from before I became Orthodox I remember well is "if you find a perfect church don't join it as you will spoil it."

 

When I am tempted to measure other people's spiritual growth I simple remember the saying of one of the desert fathers, "if you have a courps in your own house you would not leave to weep over your nabours."  in effect deal with your own sin first then worry about other peoples, and from what I have read of the lives of the saints the more successfully you deal with your own sin the less likely you are to judge others.

 

Phoebe



#39 Antonios

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Posted 22 June 2014 - 08:27 AM

Algernon, who would you say are the top few dozen holiest people who ever walked on this world? Of course, you do not need to list them all, but roughly what is the distribution of religious belief of those saints? Is there a certain communion of believers who would stand out as having many, if not the most number of holy saints in those several dozen?

Edited by Antonios, 22 June 2014 - 08:29 AM.


#40 Algernon

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Posted 23 June 2014 - 01:06 PM

As to the first part, I think a lot of the earlier posts provided answers though there may be more that could be said. As to the second part, the Church is the ark of salvation; if a person seeks it, finds it, but then refuses to get on board because he thinks some people in it do not measure up to his expectations, then that person is foolish and forfeits his salvation. Where does it say, in scripture or in Holy Tradition, that a person should avoid the Church because of the failings of those in it? But in any case, how can you judge the 'joy, humility, activity' of others? How do you know their hearts? What the Church does say is that we should attend to ourselves. Certainly the Church is called to evangelize but not everyone has that gift. Nonetheless, as Phoebe has said, you cannot overlook the great work that is being done on various places. Nothing is more remarkable than the conversion of Albania since 1992: more than 200 ruined churches restored, 83 new churches built, 5 monasteries established, 123 priests trained. But each of us must attend to our own salvation.

 

Andreas, 
I see these two competing themes a lot among Orthodox Christians: 1. We much "attend to our own salvation," which is certainly biblical. 2. We must do so within the confines of, and in the manner prescribed by, the Orthodox Church, otherwise we forfeit our salvation, which is not biblical. 
 
On the contrary, the Bible states in several places (Acts, 2:21 Romans 10:13) that "whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
 
Furthermore, Christ Himself said that "whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." (Jn 3.16) He also said that "unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (Jn 8.24). He didn't say, unless you belong to the Orthodox Church and receive Communion every week. He said "unless you believe."
 
He also said that "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven." (Mt 10.32, Lk 12.8)
 
Romans 10:9 states that "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."
 
And John 1.22 says "to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
 
I could find nothing in the Bible that required membership in the Orthodox Church (or any specific church) or participation in the Sacraments in order to receive salvation. (except for baptism, which is mentioned several times as being necessary for salvation).
 
Am I reading it wrong? Did I miss something? Perhaps you can show me where the Scriptures say that one must belong to the Orthodox Chruch--and no other Christian body--and participate regularly in the Sacraments in order to be saved.
 
If you read my second comment from 6/19 you'll see that my friend didn't avoid the Orthodox Church because "some people in it do not measure up to his expectations." But because the Orthodox Church "is simply not engaged. It is not--according to him--living out the Gospel in the world. It is too self-centered, too territorial, too insulated." Honestly, can you blame him for thinking this? You're right, not everyone has the gift of evangelization. But that's true too for the Christian bodies that ARE out there making disciples of all nations. There is no excuse for the Orthodox Church, if it truly is the "ark of salvation," not to be out there taking this country by storm and winning it over for Christ. But that is simply not happening. 
 
So, for someone who truly loves Christ, and wants to live for Him, and spread the Gospel, serve the needy, and evangelize the world, and "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ," and surround himself with a Christian (not Greek or Serbian, or Russian, or Romanian) culture, and for these reasons chooses not to join the Orthodox Church, do you mean to tell me that, on the day of judgement, Christ is going to cast him into outer darkness because he didn't belong to the Orthodox Church? Is that really what you believe? Is that really what the Church teaches?
 
As for Albania: Thank God for the growth of the Faith there! But is there really nothing more remarkable than a historically Orthodox country making modest strides toward recovering its Orthodoxy? Orthodox Christianity is still nowhere near the most predominant religion in Albania. What would be truly remarkable is if Orthodoxy became the most predominant (or fiftieth most predominant!) religion in the U.S. THAT would be a great work!





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