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The Title His All Holiness

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#1 Euthymios

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:16 PM

Hello,

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. So it seems to be an idle word/title (Matt.12:36).

Third, my philosophy is that no title should be applied to a man, which was not applied to the greatest saints and prophets 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. Does this not sound reasonable to you? "...If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." (Mark 9:35). Christ taught humility and equality.

Fourth, Pope Gregory the Great objected to the title "Universal Patriarch" being applied to a bishop, and he said that 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, Orthodoxy teaches that all bishops are equal. How does the title "His All Holiness" comport with this teaching?

Seventh, Why is it that the Patriarch of Constantinople gets this title, when Constantinople is not even an apostolic see?

Eighth, It would be sinful to call certain people like Patriarch Athenagoras "His All Holiness," when he was in fact a Freemason. Scripture says "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil..." (Isaiah 5:20).

Ninth, 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. Not even SS. Peter and John ever held such titles. I need explanation for these titles. Thank you.


Edited by Euthymios, 26 November 2014 - 09:23 PM.


#2 Euthymios

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:27 PM

"most divine Lord Patriarch of Alexandria, Judge of the World."?

 

Sorry, it's not going to happen. That title is absolute blasphemy and idolatry. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD.

 

I don't know if we have valid grounds to criticize the Protestants, since they are only concerned about these non-biblical and non-apostolic innovations. They simply want to return to the simple and pure Gospel of Christ. They want to defend the honor and glory of God. They view the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches as being eroded by too much paganism.



#3 Euthymios

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:31 PM

I don't know if it's true, but someone told me that the title "His All Holiness" is from the 10th century, and it was a reaction to Islam in the empire. The Orthodox wanted to put the emphasize on themselves (as opposed to Islam), and regain their empire. And he said patriarchs are known for grandiose titles.



#4 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 09:56 PM

Your rambling repudiations of Orthodoxy are getting very tedious. This is not what this site is for.



#5 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 26 November 2014 - 11:13 PM

Dear Euthymios,

 

"First, Scripture teaches God alone is all holy."

Rather it teaches not that God alone is all holy but that God alone is holy.  In the liturgy  right after "The Holy Things are for the holy" we sing "One is Holy, One is Lord Jesus Christ to the Glory of God the Father. Amen.". for Christ alone amongst men is holy. But that does not mean in the words we are denying the holiness of those whom we have just called holy, why beacuse Christ is holy and those participating in Christ are thereby deemed holy. Does that mean all in the Church are holy, by no means, but inasmuch as the Head is holy so also the body. Likewise all are called to be holy "Be ye holy, for I am holy" bishops amongst them, and thus we presume by use of the title to acknowledge the fact that they are holy by participation in Christ and further in being chosen to shepherd his flock; this does not mean that they all holy but we do not because of the unworthiness of some not presume the holiness of the rest, just as we do not knowing that "all sin and fall short of the Glory of God" presume not to call the Body of Christ holy.

 

"Second, this title is a lie, because it is untrue. The Patriarch is not all holy. So it seems to be an idle word/title"

The Patriarch may or may not be holy, but Christ is holy and so is the seat of the bishop. 

 

"Third ect..."

It may be your philosophy but what is this philosophy of yours? Is it above the teachings of the Saints? Is it above even the Church? Even Christ? You are relying on your own mind, your own reasonings, and placing this above the teachings of Church. We are only men, we are not perfect, our reasonings have limits, any philosophy we devise no matter how great is in the end foolishness, even as the Apostle writes "Where then is the wise? Where the disputer of this age? Has God not made foolish the wisdom of this world?".  Accept then your own limitations, accept that the multitude of the faithful, the many great saints of the Church of God enlightened by Him, have attained far more the reasoning not being limited to one man but the many, or except rather that God has guided the Church into all truth and that God is above the reasonings of all.

 

"Fourth, Pope Gregory the Great objected to the title "Universal Patriarch" being applied to a bishop, and he said that this title was a precursor of Antichrist. I see no difference between the titles "Universal Patriarch" and "His All Holiness.""

What St Gregory the Great objected to was the idea of a Universal Patriarch which he saw as someone who was the head of the Church and supreme over the other sees, this is not what was meant by such title, and indeed this was in fact what the Papacy became and still is.

 

"Fifth, the title "His All Holiness" comes from the worldly royal authority, not from Scripture or the apostles."

Because a word or title does not come from the Scriptures does not been it is invalid. The title Theotokos is not found in the Scriptures yet it is meet and right to so name the Virgin Mary.

 

"Sixth, Orthodoxy teaches that all bishops are equal. How does the title "His All Holiness" comport with this teaching?"

Indeed they are, and this has a great deal of patristic support, however the Church also saw a need to organize around key cities and for these to serve administrative centres, with the bishops thereof heading the holy synods and being places of apeal and administrative decisons. That does not mean all bishops are not equal. The use of a title (more correctly a form of address) is neither her nor there it is a mere form of address not a dogmatic statement of faith.

 

"Seventh, Why is it that the Patriarch of Constantinople gets this title, when Constantinople is not even an apostolic see?" Historical reasons. As I have said the use of such does not really matter it is not a statement of faith. Beside most sees are not Apostolic.

 

"Eighth, It would be sinful to call certain people like Patriarch Athenagoras "His All Holiness," when he was in fact a Freemason. Scripture says "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil..." (Isaiah 5:20)." For the reasons I have explained above.

 

"Ninth, 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"?" No I can't, because it is not part of Tradition it is a title,  not an article of faith, not a teaching of the Church. It came to be used, it may one day cease to be used.

 

"

"most divine Lord Patriarch of Alexandria, Judge of the World."?

 

Sorry, it's not going to happen. That title is absolute blasphemy and idolatry. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD."

The title (correctly Judge of the Universe not the World) is in reference to Alexandria setting the Church calendar, i.e. making judgment concerning dating based on the heavens (the sky). It is not a reference to being Judge over the World.

 

 

"I don't know if we have valid grounds to criticize the Protestants, since they are only concerned about these non-biblical and non-apostolic innovations. They simply want to return to the simple and pure Gospel of Christ. They want to defend the honor and glory of God. They view the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches as being eroded by too much paganism." I don't know where you are getting these ideas about Protestants (which cannot really be refered to so broadly) but look at the end result of Protestantism, i.e. Atheism and the modern world.

 

In Christ.

Daniel,



#6 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 02:51 AM

Daniiel, Thank you for your answer. I think most of your responses are circular, because you are assuming the validity of Orthodox claims. I'm only interested in the earliest sources and actual evidence.

YOU SAID: Rather it teaches not that God alone is all holy but that God alone is holy.

MY RESPONSE: So you don't believe God is all holy? If it teaches that God alone is holy, then it would be wrong to refer to anyone else as holy.

YOU SAID:...But that does not mean in the words we are denying the holiness of those whom we have just called holy, why beacuse Christ is holy and those participating in Christ are thereby deemed holy.

MY RESPONSE: That statement contradicts your previous one.

YOU SAID:  The Patriarch may or may not be holy, but Christ is holy and so is the seat of the bishop.

MY RESPONSE: Holiness is an attribute of something personal. So I don't see how a seat can be holy. At anyrate, if, as you say, the Patriarch may not be holy, don't you think it would be wrong to title him "All Holiness"? Bishops can indeed become holy through sanctification, but the title "ALL" Holiness is going too far, especially in times when they are quite sinful.

YOU SAID: What St Gregory the Great objected to was the idea of a Universal Patriarch which he saw as someone who was the head of the Church and supreme over the other sees, this is not what was meant by such title, and indeed this was in fact what the Papacy became and still is.

MY RESPONSE:  I'm talking about attributing to men titles and honors that belong to God. I think the title "All holiness" is actually more blasphemous that the title "Universal Patriarch," because only God is "All holy."

YOU SAID: Because a word or title does not come from the Scriptures does not been it is invalid. The title Theotokos is not found in the Scriptures yet it is meet and right to so name the Virgin Mary.

MY RESPONSE: Nor does it make it VALID. What you need to do is prove that the apostles would allow such a title for one of their successors. There is absolutely no evidence that any of their earliest successors ever held such a title. The title comes from the world, not the apostles. If anything, a bishop should choose to be called "His All SINFULNESS." If I were a Patriarch, I would absolutely REFUSE the title "All-Holiness" to be applied to myself. A man who allows this title for himself, does not have biblical and Christian awareness.

YOU SAID: The title (correctly Judge of the Universe not the World) is in reference to Alexandria setting the Church calendar, i.e. making judgment concerning dating based on the heavens (the sky). It is not a reference to being Judge over the World.

MY RESPONSE: Judge of the universe? Not even Saint Peter ever held such a lofty title! God is the judge of the universe. These kind of titles remind me of antichrist. Saint Paul said:

"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2Thess. 2:4).

YOU SAID:  I don't know where you are getting these ideas about Protestants (which cannot really be referred to so broadly) but look at the end result of Protestantism, i.e. Atheism and the modern world.

MY RESPONSE: You cannot judge the validity of a belief by it's historical expression. But this isn't about Protestantism. It's about whether we have valid grounds for accusing them of heresy, when they really have done nothing wrong. They are simply concerned about man-made traditions, which nullify the Word of God. (Mark 7:13).

It cannot be demonstrated on biblical or historical grounds that the title "His All Holiness" came from the apostles. This title came from the WORLD. Consequently, we cannot fault anyone for rejecting it since it is not Christian and apostolic.



#7 Euthymios

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Posted 27 November 2014 - 02:54 AM

Saint Matthew 20:25-28:

 

Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.



#8 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 09:01 PM

Saint Matthew 20:25-28:

 

Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Christ submitted to the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, even though he was their God.  He established them as the Authority in Israel.

 

Granted, there are some bishops who misuse their power the same way the high priest did when Christ was tried and executed.  However, the bishops come in the name of the Lord, and we address them as such.  We recognize that their position in the Church is one that is set apart to be holy.  It is very consistent with the behavior of the Centurion whom Christ said had more faith than He had seen in all of Israel, because he respected the chain of command and understood the authority that Christ had.

 

Does that answer your question or do you wish to debate?  I am not interested in contentious debate/tit-for-tat, yet I suspect that you may admit when you hear a good argument or explanation.  If you have already decided that the title "All Holiness" is abominable and you wish to prove the point, I am not sure that it is a great idea to do here.

 

I can tell you that while I personally agree with you that titles for the bishop are over the top, I also recognize that it is a formalism that is common throughout human history and continues to this day in places of the world where the authority structure is an empire or especially a monarchy.  As an American, it is distasteful.  However, I also recognize that is a little problem and we have bigger problems to address, like what the Bishop of Constantinople actually does.



#9 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 10:12 PM

I think Seraphim hits upon a significant point, namely the cultural difference between Americans and Europeans  and their respective apprehension of titles which may be inimical to Americans but more natural in Europe. Having said that, my late spiritual father, a Greek bishop, tended to downplay hierarchical titles and preferred to think of all bishops - patriarchs, metropolitans, and archbishops - as simply bishops. Ideally, a senior hierarch will see his role as one of a particular kind of service.


Edited by Reader Andreas, 28 November 2014 - 10:13 PM.


#10 Olga

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Posted 28 November 2014 - 10:36 PM

Yet even Americans retain formal titles of Your Honour, Your Excellency, etc for various officials and dignitaries.



#11 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 02:24 AM

In America, Your Excellency would almost exclusively be used by professionals who are trained to interface with other cultures, i.e. diplomats or visiting dignitaries.  Among the masses, virtually nobody would know (or care for that matter).  In the South, the culture is more amiable to showing respect and deferring to rank.  Northern so-called Yankees tend to be disrespectful as the norm unless the circumstances allow for personal gain and the individual resorts to flattery

 

The use of Your Honor, Mr. President, Doctor, or Officer are probably the closest most Americans would come to a title of honor. In the case of Your Honor it would be done because someone has been educated in the law and understands the etiquette in the Courtroom, or because they have been coached to do so by a lawyer (or because they watch courtroom drama/reality shows on television) and even then, many people would just identify as Judge rather than Your Honor.  Yet, not a single one of these titles must be used, and many people get along most of their lives without ever having to utter any of them except Officer as most people have been pulled over for speeding at one time or another.  That is probably the closest thing we have consistently across our culture in America that is similar.

 

There is one exception that gives a good illustration: the use of titles in the military.  Most people in America have either served or have had a family member/friend who has served in the military.  As such, they are used to titles such as General, Drill Sergeant, Captain, or in the very least, referring to someone of higher rank as Sir.  This also works as an analogy for the veneration of icons, as the Orthodox treat icons with veneration with a lot of similarity to the way servicemen treat the American flag with veneration.

 

For an American to convert to Orthodoxy, there is an enormous paradigm shift.  Euthymios may very well not understand, as his answers tend to sound very Protestant in origin.



#12 Euthymios

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 08:13 AM

Christ submitted to the High Priest and the Sanhedrin, even though he was their God.  He established them as the Authority in Israel.

 

Granted, there are some bishops who misuse their power the same way the high priest did when Christ was tried and executed.  However, the bishops come in the name of the Lord, and we address them as such.  We recognize that their position in the Church is one that is set apart to be holy.  It is very consistent with the behavior of the Centurion whom Christ said had more faith than He had seen in all of Israel, because he respected the chain of command and understood the authority that Christ had.

 

Does that answer your question or do you wish to debate?  I am not interested in contentious debate/tit-for-tat, yet I suspect that you may admit when you hear a good argument or explanation.  If you have already decided that the title "All Holiness" is abominable and you wish to prove the point, I am not sure that it is a great idea to do here.

 

I can tell you that while I personally agree with you that titles for the bishop are over the top, I also recognize that it is a formalism that is common throughout human history and continues to this day in places of the world where the authority structure is an empire or especially a monarchy.  As an American, it is distasteful.  However, I also recognize that is a little problem and we have bigger problems to address, like what the Bishop of Constantinople actually does.

The title is not distasteful to someone because he is American, but because he is a Christian. I thank you for your response, but you're trusting the private judgment of your heart. My interest is only in what the earliest Christian sources have to say. The title "Al Holiness" derives from the world, not from the apostles. As a Christian bishop and a sinner, I would never under any circumstance allow myself such a title.



#13 Euthymios

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 08:17 AM

I think Seraphim hits upon a significant point, namely the cultural difference between Americans and Europeans  and their respective apprehension of titles which may be inimical to Americans but more natural in Europe. Having said that, my late spiritual father, a Greek bishop, tended to downplay hierarchical titles and preferred to think of all bishops - patriarchs, metropolitans, and archbishops - as simply bishops. Ideally, a senior hierarch will see his role as one of a particular kind of service.

This has nothing to do with national differences, but with Christianity. The term "European" is too vague. European Anglican's, Protestants or Roman Catholics would not condone such a title, because it is not biblical. It has nothing to do with Europeans and Americans. My Roman Catholic friend agrees with me about this title.


Edited by Euthymios, 29 November 2014 - 08:17 AM.


#14 Euthymios

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 08:19 AM

Yet even Americans retain formal titles of Your Honour, Your Excellency, etc for various officials and dignitaries.

That's not the same as "All Holiness." Not by a long shot.



#15 Euthymios

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 08:29 AM

"For an American to convert to Orthodoxy, there is an enormous paradigm shift.  Euthymios may very well not understand, as his answers tend to sound very Protestant in origin."

 

I may not understand what? I am only interested in apostolic tradition and Scripture. The title is not in the earliest Christian sources. I don't care about European customs and traditions. Your comment is a Red Herring, because where the argument derives from, has absolutely no logical relevance to the points I raised. The so called "cradle" are one of the biggest threats to Orthodoxy, because they are spiritually dead, have no Christian zeal and love,  no impact on society, and lack critical thinking of their bishops, even when they violate the rules of the Church. The cradle mostly view the Church as a social club, and limit their faith to liturgy (liturgism). The best Orthodox clergy I have ever seen are former Protestants. Be converted so your sins can be blotted out (Acts 3:19). Unless one is converted sometime in their life, they will never be saved.

 

The title "All Holiness" is not Orthodox. It appears to have been invented in the 10th century. Neither the Scriptures, canons or Ecumenical Councils or apostolic tradition has this title. I think it was invented in an uncritical age, and by uncritical people--most of whom were illiterate.


Edited by Euthymios, 29 November 2014 - 08:31 AM.


#16 Euthymios

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 09:19 AM

You folks need to understand, I am not interested in customs and man-made traditions. I am only concerned about what is sanctioned and authorized by the apostles and Holy Scripture. This has nothing to do with Protestantism (I gave my own arguments). The title "All Holiness" is not from Christ or the apostles. And no amount of rationalization will justify it's use. The title is blasphemous, idolatrous, and something only a narcissist or psychopath would apply to himself. No one who has fear of God, true piety and Christian humility would ever allow himself this title. End of argument.



#17 Olga

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 09:40 AM

Euthymios

 

Despite warnings from moderators, formal and informal, you persist in posting in a combative, contentious, judgemental and inflammatory way. This is completely unacceptable.

 

I have therefore moved this thread to the Special Consideration section, where every post submitted by anyone will need to be approved by a moderator. This is not censorship, but a measure to ensure that discussion proceeds in an orderly, civil and non-contentious manner, as required by the forum rules.

 

Olga. (forum moderator)



#18 Seraphim of the Midwest

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 12:40 PM

"For an American to convert to Orthodoxy, there is an enormous paradigm shift.  Euthymios may very well not understand, as his answers tend to sound very Protestant in origin."

 

I may not understand what? I am only interested in apostolic tradition and Scripture.

You may not understand that titles, such as those given to the Pope, are formalisms.  When one refers to a king or queen as Majesty

 

The title is not distasteful to someone because he is American, but because he is a Christian. I thank you for your response, but you're trusting the private judgment of your heart. My interest is only in what the earliest Christian sources have to say. The title "Al Holiness" derives from the world, not from the apostles. As a Christian bishop and a sinner, I would never under any circumstance allow myself such a title.

Forgive me for not being clearer.  I was commenting that the use of formalisms is distasteful to Americans in general, regardless of the fact that they may be Christian or otherwise.  Americans use epithets in mostly negative forms.

 

I would recommend choosing your words more carefully, as you seem (at first glance) to imply that you are a christian bishop.  Yet I am unaware of a Bishop Euthymios in ROCOR (the "diocese" identified in your profile).

 

Perhaps you meant something more along the lines of this:

If I were a Bishop in the Church who has maintained the Apostolic Tradition since the time of Christ despite the obvious fact that the majority of early Christian written sources are indeed not extant, I would indeed never consider such a title for myself as All Holiness as it is not only technically false, but it strikes to the heart of what it means to live the Faith.

While not attempting to put words into your mouth, I can empathize with what you are writing.  I wonder out loud if it is based in frustration, pain, panic, or simply disgust toward what you see as either hypocritical or, in the very least, inconsistency.  However, if I may also point out, you indeed are almost certainly not a bishop in Church who has maintained the Apostolic Tradition since the time of Christ despite the obvious fact that the majority of early Christian written sources are indeed not extant.  As such, any of us who are not bishops are out of line if we presume to elevate ourselves to a position where we can rebuke a bishop.

 

You have shown a great affinity for scripture quotes.  I respect that.  So then, "come, let us reason together" (Isaiah 1:18)  I offer to carry on a private discourse with you to hammer out your concerns without censorship, and allow you to vent and throw your concerns my way.  Once we get the dialog to the point where it is not a "flame war" then perhaps we can distill our discussion and post a dialog more for the benefit of others.  It is obviously better to take a lower position and have humble arguments win the day than to implicitly promote ourselves to the position of a bishop and be reprimanded (Luke 14:10; Proverbs 25:7), is it not?  

 

You are welcome to write me with private messages.  Then you can "hammer in the morning... hammer in the evening... all over this land" ;)



#19 Lakis Papas

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Posted 29 November 2014 - 06:11 PM

Eythymios, please explain why and for whom did st Paul use the word "saints" in the first letter of his to Philippians.  

 

Philippians 1:1-2King James Version (KJV)
 

Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 

 



#20 Anna Stickles

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Posted 01 December 2014 - 02:05 AM

The title "Al Holiness" derives from the world, not from the apostles.

 

 

Whether it is All Holiness or Judge of the World,  the titles of the Patriarchs reflect what exists in the Church as the Body of Christ.  It is not a personal title - ie not given to them in order to exalt them as persons, but rather given to them as being a type of Christ, as we are all called to be. We venerate our patriarchs and bishops for the same reason we venerate the saints, not as some sort of honoring of personal holiness that an individual has somehow earned, but rather we give honor and glory to Christ IN his Church.

 

 

We are all "called to be saints" - ie called to be all holy. Without holiness no one will see the Lord, and partial holiness just won't cut it. The word holy means to be set apart, and we are to be wholly set apart to God, not just partially.

 

You folks need to understand, I am not interested in customs and man-made traditions. I am only concerned about what is sanctioned and authorized by the apostles and Holy Scripture

 

This is a Protestant understanding of where truth comes from. The Orthodox church does not limit itself to what is authorized by the apostles and Scripture but accepts the councils, the writings of the saints and our lived tradition as valid sources for Church life.

 

This has nothing to do with Protestantism (I gave my own arguments).

Precisely, this is what Protestants do. Lacking any tradition to help them to understand the Scriptures or the Christian life in a coherent and integrated way, they all simply give their own opinion. This is why there are thousands of different denominations with different beliefs.  This is a result of academic skepticism that seeks answers through questioning everything.  The only place that questioning everything can ultimately lead a person is into nihilism and darkness.  There is a healthier way to seek truth- seeking God and knowledge of Him in a positive way through faith, humility and practice of the Gospel commands.  







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