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37 Questions about the Church

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#1 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 06:53 AM

Hi,

 

I have several questions about the Church. I had them copied, so I could paste here, but just learned that something is preventing me from doing this. Is there a way to paste? This would save a lot of time. I'll begin with one simple question.

 

1. It appears that monasticism was an Indian institution. Why does it appear so late in Christian history? Neither Christ or any of the apostles (or the Bible) ever taught such a concept. So why does Orthodoxy esteem it so much? Thanks.



#2 Father David Moser

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 03:05 PM

John the Baptist?  Elijah? Isaiah? Jeremiah? The Virgin Mary? The Apostle Paul? These are some of the obvious exemplars of monastic life.  Granted that as the Church grew and became more widespread, monastic life became more formalized and structured - but the roots are in the ascetic prophets and celibates of the Church.

 

On the question of cutting and pasting.  Some people might have difficulty with this depending on browser settings.  Check your browser help for more information.

 

Concerning your 37 questions, I guarantee you that you will get more and better responses if you pose your questions one (or maybe two if they are on the same theme) at a time. than if you just dump a whole list of questions.

 

Fr David



#3 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 07:15 PM

John the Baptist?  Elijah? Isaiah? Jeremiah? The Virgin Mary? The Apostle Paul? These are some of the obvious exemplars of monastic life. 

Thank you Father David for your reply. None of the individuals you cited were tonsured monastics under obedience to a superior. They were holy and detached from the world, but not cenobitic monastics. The prophets were directly appointed by God for a special purpose. St. Paul was celibate, but not a monk. He was a missionary and an apostle with a special mission. I think my question is: why was monasticism as a vocation developed so late in Christian history? Isn't it more probable that it was influenced by the Indian institution?



#4 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 07:19 PM

The Hebrew Bible nowhere thought celibacy praiseworthy (St. Paul was an exception). So why does Orthodoxy teach that monastic celibacy is the greatest ideal and superior to marriage?

 

QUESTION 2

 

Why is Constantine a saint, when he always tolerated cults, and allowed the building of pagan cult temples in Constantinople, and was not even baptized until late in his life? And there is no evidence of strong sanctification (theosis) in him. Constantine believed the emperor was closer to God than the bishop. In Eusebius' Life of the Emperer Constantine, he suppressed all that was negative in his person and politics.



#5 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 07:49 PM

Today the copy and paste feature is working, but we can take this slowly. I believe in Orthodoxy, but I have become more critical in my thinking over the last few years. At the time I converted (over twenty years ago), I did not have the knowledge, experience and critical thinking that I have today. I hope we can discuss these things like adults, without people questioning my motives and trying to psychoanalyze me. Thank you. I have become more sympathetic toward Protestants because it seems perfectly reasonable to me that we do not have valid grounds to criticize them, since they are only concerned about all our non-biblical innovations. They are concerned about the purity of the faith, as revealed in Holy Scripture.

 

QUESTION 3 (longest question)

 

Why is the Patriarch of Constantinople called "His All Holiness"? I have the following problems with this title. First, Scripture teaches God alone is all holy. Second, this title is a lie, because it is untrue. The Patriarch is not all holy. Third, my philosophy is that no title should be applied to a man, which was not applied to the greatest saints in Scripture. There is no evidence that any of the apostles, including St. Peter, the Coryphaeus (chief) of the apostles, ever used such a title for themselves. They were more christocentric, not anthropocentic. The office of Apostle was the highest in the Church. Since the apostles did not use such a title, it should not be applied to their successors. The successors should be more humble. Fourth, Pope Gregory the Great objected to the title "Universal Patriarch" being
applied to a bishop, and he said this title was a precursor of Antichrist. I see no difference between the titles "Universal Patriarch" and "His All Holiness." Fifth, the title "His All Holiness" comes from the worldly royal authority, not from Scripture or the apostles. Sixth, Why is it that the Patriarch of Constantinople gets this title, when Constantinople is not even an apostolic see? Seventh, We Orthodox Christians believe in Tradition. Can you prove to me that the title "His
all Holiness" is part of the apostolic tradition? Who was the first to use the title "His All Holiness"? And what is the earliest source for this title? The patriarch of Alexandria also bore the title of “Your All-holiness” (oanagiotis)  and “the “most divine Lord Patriarch of Alexandria, Judge of the World.”Most divine Lord. As far as I am concerned, this is absolute blasphemy and idolatry. Not even SS. Peter and John ever held such titles. I need explanation for these titles.












 



#6 Olga

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 09:24 PM

The Hebrew Bible nowhere thought celibacy praiseworthy (St. Paul was an exception). So why does Orthodoxy teach that monastic celibacy is the greatest ideal and superior to marriage?

 

Nowhere does Orthodoxy teach that marriage is inferior to monastic celibacy.

 

Not only are there innumerable Orthodox saints who were married (are they somehow second-class saints because they were not monastics?), but the marriage service clearly extols marriage as honourable and blessed by God.

 

Links to the service texts:

 

http://www.anastasis...uk/betrotha.htm

 

http://www.anastasis...uk/crowning.htm



#7 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 09:34 PM

That's not the teaching I received. I was always led to believe that monastic obedience is the greatest life.



#8 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 09:48 PM

Dear Euthymios,

 

When and if you get a chance, do us a favor and correct the ones that are teaching you or have taught you wrongly.

In Christ,

Matthew Panchisin



#9 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 09:56 PM

The Hebrew Bible nowhere thought celibacy praiseworthy (St. Paul was an exception). So why does Orthodoxy teach that monastic celibacy is the greatest ideal and superior to marriage?

 

QUESTION 2

 

Why is Constantine a saint, when he always tolerated cults, and allowed the building of pagan cult temples in Constantinople, and was not even baptized until late in his life? And there is no evidence of strong sanctification (theosis) in him. Constantine believed the emperor was closer to God than the bishop. In Eusebius' Life of the Emperer Constantine, he suppressed all that was negative in his person and politics.

Because St Constantine attained divine visions, fought under the sign of Christ, ended the percussions of Christians, built churches, provided the means to hold the First Ecumenical council which proclaimed the condemnation of Arianism, and thereby helped establish the Orthodox Christian faith throughout the Empire. Yes he did allow the building fo pagan temples ect.. but he was a politician and was rather shrewed if not a little modern in his methods, remember preventing pagan temples being built at that time would have lead to mass riots and the Senate producing a "successor" to be installed following his quick and timely "demise", followed no doubt by another mass persecution of Christians. 

 

Regarding baptism late in life, this was a common practice at the time (the idea being waiting until the last minute to wash away all yours sins, rather appealing to a man in such a position who had to take sometimes morally debatable decisions), which took much effort by the Cappadocian fathers to begin to combat.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#10 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 09:58 PM

Doesn't Orthodoxy teach that at the monastic tonsure all sins are forgiven again, like another baptism? That being the case, it would be unchristian for a person not to want a second baptism. Why is this grace given in monasticism, but not in marriage? But this teaching is not biblical. It's another question I have. Since none of the apostles taught it, why is it accepted? It seems to be another gospel (Gal. 1:8) and man-made. Who was the first to teach that all sins are forgiven at the monastic tonsure?



#11 Olga

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:05 PM

Doesn't Orthodoxy teach that at the monastic tonsure all sins are forgiven again, like another baptism? That being the case, it would be unchristian for a person not to want a second baptism.

 

From the Creed, which we recite in our prayers and at the Divine Liturgy:

 

In one holy, catholic and apostolic Church, I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins

 

One baptism is all that is necessary. As for sins forgive, this is done through confession and absolution, available to everyone.



#12 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:08 PM

DANIEL SAID: Because St Constantine attained divine visions,

 

MY REPLY: Such as? Can you cite a source for this? Had it been anyone else, they would have been accused of being in prelest, since Orthodoxy teaches us to ignore experiences and visions. I'm only aware of one vision he had.  It's more probable now that the Church is looking for reasons to justify their having declared him a saint. I submit that nobody who is a saint would ever allow pagan temples to be built. They would trust God to unify the empire, rather than compromise the biblical teaching. All the things you describe about Constantine could be explained by the fact he had the wherewithal (money and power) to do these things. So I see no reason to consider it virtuous, since his main concern was to preserve and unify the empire. And being an Arian, he was a heretic. I do not see any evidence of theosis in Constantine. He was able to do what he did, because he had the money and power.



#13 Olga

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:16 PM

Euthymios, you keep talking about "biblical teaching". Orthodoxy does have a very high regard for both the Old and New Testaments (indeed, our church services, hymns and prayers are stuffed full of scripture), but it draws its teachings from other accepted sources as well. Moreover, the books of the New Testament did not begin to be written until decades after Christ's ascension; and it took several centuries before which books were to be regarded as scripture was confirmed.

 

Yet, throughout this period where there was no Bible as we know it today, the Church continued and grew.



#14 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:22 PM

Olga,

 

It really doesn't matter when the Gospels were written, because we all agree they are apostolic and the sources for our faith. It makes sense to me that if something is not supported by the apostles, Christ, and the Bible, then it becomes suspect. If we set the Bible aside, then we need to be able to show something is rooted in apostolic  oral tradition. I need proof something comes from the apostles. Otherwise, it's man-made and lacking in divine authority.


Edited by Euthymios, 25 November 2014 - 10:22 PM.


#15 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:31 PM

No first century Jew or Christian would ever allow the building of pagan temples. Constantine allowed them because he was pagan first, and Christian second. Having been born and raised on paganism, he had little appreciation for the Old Testament prohibitions of idolatry and paganism. And since he didn't know Old Testament Hebrew, he was probably ignorant of the Old Testament teaching.

 

It seems to me that Jews and Protestants have a higher view of Scripture than the Orthodox. They have always wanted to preserve it's teachings in their purity.



#16 Olga

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:32 PM

I need proof something comes from the apostles. Otherwise, it's man-made and lacking in divine authority.

 

What is expressed in the hymns, liturgical services, and prayers of the Church, and in iconography, represents what the entire Church believes and has always believed. Hymnography and iconography draws from all facets of Holy Tradition: scripture, the writings of the saints and Fathers of the Church, the rulings from the Ecumenical Councils, and from the teachings and traditions, written and oral, handed down by the apostles to their successors.



#17 Olga

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:35 PM

It seems to me that Jews and Protestants have a higher view of Scripture than the Orthodox. They have always wanted to preserve it's teachings in their purity.

 

Yet protestantism has spawned tens of thousands of sects, all of which claim they have the "true interpretation" of scripture. They can't all be right, can they?

 

And Jews do not recognise the New Testament as scripture.



#18 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:38 PM

What is expressed in the hymns, liturgical services, and prayers of the Church, and in iconography, represents what the entire Church believes and has always believed. Hymnography and iconography draws from all facets of Holy Tradition: scripture, the writings of the saints and Fathers of the Church, the rulings from the Ecumenical Councils, and from the teachings and traditions, written and oral, handed down by the apostles to their successors.

Originally the veneration of icons was tabu in the Church, and even after Constantine, was considered a continued influence of pagan thought. Eusebius, for example, rejected any pictorial representation, even of the humanity of Christ. Epiphanius of Salamis considered the veneration of icons to be a new form of idolatry. Why the change? As in paganism, the Christians came to believe that images had a prophylactic and miraculous effect. Why the similarity? Does not similarity imply a common source? Leo III came from the Christian Semitic tradition, which had reservations about the veneration of images. They allowed biblical pictures, but not veneration. St. Irene defended the veneration of images. She came from the Greek heartlands, and was influenced by monks (many of whom made a living from selling icons).


Edited by Euthymios, 25 November 2014 - 10:41 PM.


#19 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:40 PM

"MY REPLY: Such as? Can you cite a source for this?"

Yes both Lactantius (c. A.D. 250 – c. 325) and Eusebius (c. A.D. 265 c.340)

 

"Had it been anyone else, they would have been accused of being in prelest, since Orthodoxy teaches us to ignore experiences and visions. I'm only aware of one vision he had.  It's more probable now that the Church is looking for reasons to justify their having declared him a saint."

 

Would they? Then Holy Apostles Paul and John would be accused of prelest? along with St Stephen the proto-martyr. the many saints throughout the ages who have seen visions of some short, the nun who beheld a vision of St Ethelburh? The whole issue of visions and prelest is related to protecting people (largely monastics), it is not there to exclude all Divine visions and revelation.

Further the Church being the pillar and ground of Truth does not need retrospect reason for "declaring" someone a saint.

 

"I submit that nobody who is a saint would ever allow pagan temples to be built. They would trust God to unify the empire, rather than compromise the biblical teaching." You may well do so, but to be quite frank what you or I think to submit is enitrely byside the point it is what the Church as a whole which guided by God has promulgated. 

 

 "All the things you describe about Constantine could be explained by the fact he had the wherewithal (money and power) to do these things. So I see no reason to consider it virtuous, since his main concern was to preserve and unify the empire." When does having the money and wealth to do something mean it is no longer a virtuas act.  "And being an Arian, he was a heretic." He was not an Arian he was Orthodox. "I do not see any evidence of theosis in Constantine. He was able to do what he did, because he had the money and power." You may not but the Church does again your private opinions are not above what the Church has held as true for the last 1700 (aprox) years.

 

Might I ask do you want answers to your questions as being sincerely seeking to learn regarding them? or do you wish for an opportunity to ask questions to which you already believe you have an answer which you would like to "share" with us?

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#20 Euthymios

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Posted 25 November 2014 - 10:40 PM

Where does the monastic tonsure practice of cutting the hair come from? Based on my research, there's a parallel in the priests of Isis. It seems more probable that this practice came from paganism. I now look at things using probability, instead of presuppositions and biases.







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