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37 Questions about the Church

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#41 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 01:31 PM

The Bible and Christ never taught that we should mark the feasts of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, or the Dormition of the Theotokos or that we should venerate the Holy Cross. Does that mean some of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church are 'man-made' and part of 'a process of human development'?



#42 Olga

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 01:33 PM

It's interesting that you mentioned the veneration of saints, because there is no biblical support for this, or any good evidence it was going on the earliest Church.

 

The earliest Christians conducted the primitive Eucharistic liturgy over the graves of Christian martyrs. Later, churches were built over such graves, in honour of the saint buried there. There is abundant historical and archaeological evidence for this.

 

This particular aspect of the veneration of saints continues to this day, in the embedding of holy relics within the altar (Holy Table) of Orthodox churches, and in the altarcloth known as the antimension/antimins. Without this cloth, the Divine Liturgy, and therefore the Eucharist, cannot be conducted.



#43 Phoebe K.

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 01:56 PM

Firstly the practice of cutting hair at monastic vows (it happens at baptism as well) comes from the Nasarine tradition which is present through the Old Testeremnt.  The monastic communities resemble the communities around Prophets in the Old Testeremnt and to some extent the Temple community.

 

On Confession the way I have been tort is to be succinct and clear about the struggle but only go into detates when it is asked of me, it is not practically possible in a lay sitatuin to confess everything (even if you arrange confession for a time away form services so you have plenty of time) as we forget things.  This is why in the Prayer for Forgiveness the Priest asks for the forgiveness of the things confessed and those missed through ignorance and forgetfulness.  

 

My Priest explained to the commuity why the church had moved from public confession to privet, the key point being that when the Church became legal and anyone could come so the situation of everyone knowing everyone else ceased to be and this meant it was preferable for the bishop or the Presbyter he delegated to hear the confession on behalf of the community.



#44 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 08:17 PM

Dear Euthymios,

 

This really isn't 37 questions about the Church, we have seen this many times before. It is the spirit of twisting and straining the matters and ways of the Church into your own gnats. Why don't you just do it in the privacy of your own home, why share your ways experiences and inquires with us? We know Martin Luther (the father of that movement) picked that up from a bad place and the Orthodox Church and faithful are well aware of that reality as it is re-presented so often. It is not a matter of psychoanalysis, it's just a very basic recognition of what is going on.

 

What is the point of attempting to force all of Orthodox monasticism into an Indian institution? How silly is that? You can go there, however it won't go there no matter what you say. It is a matter of deeply rooted ethos and praxis, surely it knows absurd statements and lies when they are uttered.

 

There is so much that is wrong in your understandings that it would take a lot of time to go through it all, I really don't have the patience at this time, maybe latter. However, I have never known anyone who routinely protests against the Orthodox Church that is at peace, it takes a lot of hard work to live that way.

 

Firstly, you might try to understand that Christ and the Apostles taught obedience, so Christ's Church (the Orthodox Church) does as well. It's clearly in the bible and Orthodox Christians are to heed that call quite the contrary to you remarks.

 

(Hebrews 13:17) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account

 

Contrary to your statements, we do know much about you from what you have written. Anyway, you are hanging out with Martin Luther and company and we know that.

 

“I would suggest to those in high places in the church, firstly, that they should do away with all vows and religious orders; or at least not speak of them with approval or praise… This kind of life finds no testimony or support in Scripture, but has been made to look imposing solely by the works of monks and priests. However numerous, sacred, and arduous they may be, these works, in God’s sight, are in no way whatever superior to the works of a farmer laboring in the field, or of a woman looking after her home… Vows only tend to the increase of pride and presumption.”

Martin Luther (The Babylonian Captivity of the Church)


“Hence all monasteries are founded upon the filth of the devil.” Martin Luther (sermon on the Fourth Sunday after Trinity, commenting on Luke 6:36-42)

 

You can go your way along with others and we will continue to embrace and respect what the Orthodox Church teaches, it is much wiser than you.

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin


Edited by Matthew Panchisin, 26 November 2014 - 08:29 PM.


#45 Euthymios

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 08:57 PM

Euthymios, do you accept the authority of the ecumenical councils of the Church?

 

In view of what you say at post #34, it is sad and ironic that you bear the name of a great monastic who undoubtedly embraced what you deny.

I don't deny Orthodoxy. Do you allow questions? I knew this conversation was going to evolve into these kind of responses. The reason you believe he is "great," is because Orthodoxy tells you he was. Orthodoxy is a very ideological and political system. It is known that Greeks embellish the lives of people they consider to be holy. The Orthodox worship human beings and creatures. This concerns me because it's forbidden by the book they call their own Scriptures. They want to call it veneration, but it's actually worship in many cases. I don't know how anyone can read the Akathists to the Theotokos (in the book of Akathists) and come away thinking this is simple veneration.



#46 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:10 PM

Dear Euthymios,

 

You simply make statements that are not true. You say you don't deny Orthodoxy and write against it. Rather silly isn't it?

 

In Christ,

 

Matthew Panchisin



#47 Olga

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:17 PM

I don't deny Orthodoxy.

 

Every post you have made here has been a repudiation and denial of what Orthodoxy is and stands for.

 

Do you allow questions?

 

Yes, we do. And many have provided answers, which you have so far brushed aside.

 

Orthodoxy is a very ideological and political system.

 

Orthodoxy is the revelation of God. God is above and beyond politics and ideology.

 

The Orthodox worship human beings and creatures.

 

No, we do not. We worship only God, but we honour (venerate) saints who have found particular favour with God, and whose lives serve as examples for us. There are many references in both the OT and NT of people being venerated, of given special honour because of their holiness.

 

I don't know how anyone can read the Akathists to the Theotokos (in the book of Akathists) and come away thinking this is simple veneration.

 

Countless millions of Orthodox do make that distinction. The Mother of God conceived, gave birth, and raised and nurtured the Son of God, the Saviour of the world - why shouldn't she be praised and extolled in the highest terms? Mothers the world over are held in the highest regard and love - how much more so for the greatest mother who ever lived?

 

Euthymios, please speak to a priest or your Godparents about all these ideas you have. It is clear you are very confused about what Orthodoxy is and stands for.



#48 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:12 AM

Here are the rest of my questions.


4. Why does Orthodoxy teach that one must have perfect Nicene christology in order to be saved, when the earliest Hebrew Christians did not have the christology as articulated by the Councils of Nicea and Chalcedon? According to Nicea, many of the earliest Hebrew Christians would be heretics, as well as several Church Fathers, since they were subordinationists. We cannot even speak of a dogma of the Trinity until the Council of Constantinople.

5. Why does Orthodoxy insist on the concept of a monarchical episcopate, when no such concept is found in the Pauline communities or the Book of Acts?

6. The earliest Christian records show that originally there was a "collegiality" (communio) of all believers, and that this evolved into a collegiality (collegium) of a particular ministerial group over against the community, so that a division of "clergy" and laity began at a very early stage. Why the change? It was not until St. Ignatius that we find the order of three ministries: bishop, presbyter, deacon.

7. Why does Orthodoxy teach the importance of Greek philosophy, when Theophilus, Tatian and Tertullian repudiated it?

8. Originally there was no law of celibacy for bishops. Why the change?

9. Originally baptism was reserved mostly for adults. Why the change to infant baptism?

10. 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.

11. Orthodoxy criticizes the Latins for development in doctrine. But Orthodoxy also had changes and developments in theology, liturgy, iconography, piety and law. Why the changes?

12. In the early Church, confession to a priest was optional. Why is it mandatory today?The evidence shows that confession evolved from public confession to private confession, and was made to monks, not priests. Why the changes? In the West, it was not until Aquinas that confession was elevated to a sacrament.

Public confession is found in the Didache and Epistle of Barnabas.6:2.

J.N.D Kelly writes:  "With the dawn of the third century the rough outlines of a recognized penitential discipline were beginning to take shape. In-spite of the ingenious arguments of certain scholars, there are still no signs of a sacrament of private penance (i.e. confession to a priest, followed by absolution and the imposition of a penance) such as Catholic Christendum knows to-day." "The system which seems to have existed in the Church at this time, and for centuries afterwords, was wholly public, involving confession, a period of penance and exclusion from communion, and formal absolution and restoration - the whole process being called exomologesis." (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines: Revised Edition, p.216.).

In Augustine's later writings,  confession was for grave sins like adultery. (On the Creed, 15,16). Smaller sins were taken care of by prayer to God.

"Modern biblical scholars today, however, do not find either in the text or in the context of these passages [Matt. 16:16; 18:18; John 20:23] an account of an institution of a reconciliation ritual." (Osborne, The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, p. 1083) (brackets mine). (J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines.
 
13. Is it true that the monastic tonsure practice of cutting the hair was originally practiced by the priests of Isis?

14. In earliest Christianity, the clergy were humble ministers and servants of the people. This later evolved into a higher privileged rank and profession. Why the change?

15. Splendid liturgical garments and valuable vessels, enriched ceremonies with candles and incense, church singing (a separate schola) in splendid basilicas came from the Old Testament and paganism, and was originally repudiated by Christians. Why the changes?

16. Why didn't Jesus or the apostles ever say anything about the endless mantra of the "Jesus Prayer"? When the apostles asked Jesus how to pray, he taught the "Our Father" Prayer.

17. It was not until after the fourth century that attempts were made to impose sexual restraints on married clergy. Why the change?

18. It appears that monasticism is an Indian institution. Why does it appear so late in Christian history?

19. Why is monastic obedience to a superior so important today, when the earliest forms of monasticism were loose and without any rule? It was not until St. Pachomius that strict obedience was enforced. Did God change his mind?

20. 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?

21. 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).

22. Western Renaissance and Baroque influenced Russian and Balkan iconography. Why isn't this more human and worldly than spiritual?

23. Twentieth century Russian philosophers of religion have emphasized a Platonic stamp on the concept of icons. Why does Orthodoxy accept platonic elements?

24. It was not until after Nicea II that the iconostasis arose, replacing a simple lower barrier. Why isn't this an unbiblical innovation separating the community of believers from the eucharistic table of Christ? Why did the Church separate people and clergy in the liturgy? It was not until after Nicea II that the emperor was regarded as "isapostolos" (like the apostles) and was the only layman to receive communion in both kinds behind the iconostasis, even though the Council of Trullo in it's sixty-ninth decree had maintained that the laity had this right. Why the changes? The New Testament reports that when Jesus died, the curtain before the Holy of Holies had been torn down. By his offering, Jesus Christ opened free access to the Holy of Holies to all believers.

25. Why do Orthodox Christians typically limit their faith to liturgy (liturgism), while ignoring the biblical teaching to spread the Gospel?

26. Blessed Augustine believed that sex should be used only for the procreation of children. Why do some Orthodox monastics also accept this teaching?

27 Some monastics tell people that they probably will not be saved unless they become monks. If monasticism were a requirement for salvation, why is this not taught in Scripture? And why would God wait hundreds of years to introduce monasticism into the Church if ones salvation depended on it? The idea of mandatory monasticism implies that some people in antiquity could not be saved, no matter how much they repented, because Christian monasticism did not even exist.

28. There are ceremonies which the early Christians rejected as pagan. Examples: genuflections, bowings, kisses, things like incense and candles, and special distinguishing marks like stoles and rings. Why all the changes?

29. The Eastern Church was involved in political and military conflicts of the secular power and often gave theological legitimization to wars, and even inspired them. Why?

30. Orthodox monasticism teaches methods, systems and techniques to prayer. But the Bible knows nothing of this. Why has Orthodoxy innovated? The Bible knows nothing of inner prayer or prayer of the heart.

31. Early Church Fathers spoke of the moral faults of Mary, and the earliest Christian sources do not reveal the kind of veneration of her that we see today. Why the change?

32. In the New Testament, all Christians are considered saints. Orthodoxy teaches that only certain people who have achieved heightened levels of sanctification are saints. Why the change?

33. I've heard it said that the monastic life benefits three generations back and three generations forward for the monk. Who started this teaching? It is not Scriptural.

34. Scripture teaches the use of musical instruments in worship. Orthodoxy does not. Why?

35. St. Paul taught "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus"... (Rom.8:1). But the teaching of the Toll Houses is that we are still in danger of condemnation by demons after death. Does not the Toll House concept imply the concept of continuing revelation?

36. "In the New Testament itself the concept of 'priest' referred either to the Levites of the Old Testament, now made obsolete, or to Christ or to the entire Church-not to the ordained ministry of the church." (Pelikan, The Christian Tradition, vol. 1. p. 25). Why the change?

37. In the life of St. Macarius, it says he fell down and bowed before the angel who was communicating with him, as the angel ascended into Heaven. Why did he do this, and why did the angel let him get away with it? In the Book of Revelation, the angel rebuked St. John when he bowed before him, and he told John to worship God.


Edited by Euthymios, 27 November 2014 - 03:25 AM.


#49 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:18 AM

The earliest Christians conducted the primitive Eucharistic liturgy over the graves of Christian martyrs. Later, churches were built over such graves, in honour of the saint buried there. There is abundant historical and archaeological evidence for this.

Liturgies over martyrs is not the same as praying to them and kissing their pictures. What is your earliest source for this anyway? The earliest Christians considered venerating icons as a new form of idolatry.



#50 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:19 AM

The Bible and Christ never taught that we should mark the feasts of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, or the Dormition of the Theotokos or that we should venerate the Holy Cross. Does that mean some of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church are 'man-made' and part of 'a process of human development'?

Since these things are not from the apostles, then yes they are man-made.



#51 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:22 AM

Firstly the practice of cutting hair at monastic vows (it happens at baptism as well) comes from the Nasarine tradition which is present through the Old Testeremnt.  The monastic communities resemble the communities around Prophets in the Old Testeremnt and to some extent the Temple community.

They started the practice in Christianity and then only later went back for biblical justification. There is no evidence that the apostles ever taught anyone to do this.



#52 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:35 AM

Sorry, no way to delete the post.


Edited by Euthymios, 27 November 2014 - 03:38 AM.


#53 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 03:36 AM

Sorry, no way to delete this point.



#54 Olga

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 05:25 AM

Liturgies over martyrs is not the same as praying to them and kissing their pictures. What is your earliest source for this anyway?

 

The Roman catacombs are full of "pictures" which are recognisable as icons, painted during the first three centuries of the Christian period.

 

The earliest Christians considered venerating icons as a new form of idolatry.

 

Not true, as is evident by the proto-iconography of the catacombs. Also, St John of Damascus, in his treatise defending iconography, quotes first- and second-century saints and fathers who spoke of icon veneration as good and proper.



#55 Olga

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 05:35 AM

But the teaching of the Toll Houses is that we are still in danger of condemnation by demons after death. Does not the Toll House concept imply the concept of  continuing revelation?

 

The toll-house idea is not an established and accepted Orthodox teaching.

 

I've heard it said that the monastic life benefits three generations back and three generations forward for the monk. Who started this teaching? It is not Scriptural.

 

This sounds like a folk tale. I've never heard of it anywhere until you mentioned it.

 

Orthodox monasticism teaches methods, systems and techniques to prayer. But the Bible knows nothing of this. Why has Orthodoxy innovated? The Bible knows nothing of inner prayer or prayer of the heart.

 

As I said earlier, the Bible came out of the Church. The Church did not come forth from a book, no matter how holy that book is. Orthodoxy does not teach sola scriptura, but, as St John's Gospel says: And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 

I could go through other aspects of your post in similar fashion, but it would be far more useful to you to speak to an experienced priest about your major misunderstandings of what the Church teaches, and of your concerns as expressed in your posts. A good priest will be able to answer your questions.



#56 Ben Johnson

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 05:43 AM

History did not stop after the Book of Revlation was completed.



#57 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 06:36 AM

The Roman catacombs are full of "pictures" which are recognisable as icons, painted during the first three centuries of the Christian period.

 

 

Not true, as is evident by the proto-iconography of the catacombs. Also, St John of Damascus, in his treatise defending iconography, quotes first- and second-century saints and fathers who spoke of icon veneration as good and proper.

I don't deny the existence of icons. My argument is that the earliest sources do not show veneration of icons. The earliest Christians considered it idolatrous. The first three centuries is too vague and late. You will not find the veneration of icons coming from the apostles or their immediate successors. I would like to see documented evidence of the veneration of icons (bowing, kissing and praying to) in the first and second centuries.



#58 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 06:42 AM

Moderator,

 

before I decided to post here, I emailed several Orthodox theological institutions with my questions. I even told them to forward my questions to someone else if they could not answer themselves. Not one single person responded to me. They did not respect me enough, and they lack Christian love. I have repeatedly seen standoffish arrogance and a lack of love in the clergy. The clergy are the main reason why I have doubted Orthodoxy in the past. I do not think they are spiritually qualified to be in Christian leadership positions. They're getting worse and worse. I do not see the image and likeness of Christ in them.

 

YOU SAID: As I said earlier, the Bible came out of the Church. The Church did not
come forth from a book, no matter how holy that book is. Orthodoxy does
not teach sola scriptura, but, as St John's Gospel says: And
there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were
written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not
contain the books that would be written. Amen.

 

MY RESPONSE: The Old Testament was written long before the Church was created. And the apostles wrote the New Testament. The Church simply recognized these writings. I agree with Saint John, but none of the novel ideas I have mentioned were ever taught by Christ.



#59 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 06:45 AM

Actually, one person responded and wanted to know where I live (I think so he can refer me to a local priest).



#60 Olga

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 06:49 AM

If you agree with St John, then you cannot hold to the idea that "if it isn't in the Bible, then I won't believe it/do it". It has to be one or the other.

 

The Apostles were guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit. The Apostles appointed and taught the first bishops, well before the New Testament was written. Given that there was no written New Testament as we know it for the bulk of the First Century, how do you think the early Church spread its teachings and ensured its faithful transmission?







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