Friday, December 18, 2009

St. Justin the Philosopher

St. Justin the Philosopher, also known as Justin Martyr, was born in about AD 100 in modern-day Palestine. He described himself as a Samaritan because of his mother's ancestry, but his father was either Greek or Roman and, as a result, he was raised as a pagan.

During his early years, Justin explored the many Greek and Roman pagan philosophies current in his day. Eventually, though, he converted to Christianity, convinced that he had found the True Philosophy. He would continue until his death to wear the robe traditionally worn by philosophers in Roman culture.

He later moved to Rome, teaching Christianity there and penning several powerful apologetic works, addressing both Jews and pagans.

After winning a debate against a pagan philosopher, he was exposed by his opponent as a Christian to the Roman authorities, by whom he was tortured and martyred along with several of his students in AD 165.

The Church celebrates the feast day of the Holy Martyr Justin the Philosopher and those martyred with him on June 1.
Friday, December 11, 2009

Sola Scriptura's Logical Incoherency

In this short post, I am going to handle only the logical shortcomings in the Protestant doctrine of Sola Scriptura; I will handle the historical and Scriptural shortcomings in separate articles at a later time.

Sola Scriptura, a foundational belief of all Protestants of any denomination, is one of the most strikingly illogical doctrines ever put forward. If we look at deeper than surface-level, we suddenly see rampant self-contradiction and just plain bad thinking.

First, Sola Scriptura is illogical because it is self-refuting; here's why:
  1. Sola Scriptura asserts that all revealed knowledge is to be found in the inspired Scriptures.
  2. The Protestant version of the Scriptures consists of 66 books, compiled after a very long process within the Church.
  3. These 66 books, then, are what is referred to when Protestants say "inspired Scriptures."
  4. Nowhere in any of these 66 books are we told that these 66 books specifically are the entirety of "inspired Scriptures."
  5. Since the books of Scripture nowhere provide a table of contents telling us what books belong to Scripture, we must conclude that said table of contents is an addition to Scripture.
  6. It follows from this that the 66 books of the Protestant Scriptures cannot be a revealed truth.
  7. The 66 books of the Protestant Scriptures cannot be deduced either from human reason or from nature, the only other possible sources of knowledge.
  8. Since the 66 books of Protestant Scripture cannot be deduced from divine revelation, human reason, nor nature, it cannot be known which books Scripture consists of, thereby making Sola Scriptura an impossibility.
A second way in which Sola Scriptura is illogical is that it is essentially an argument from silence. Arguments from silence are a logical fallacy in which an individual draws a positive conclusion about an author's thoughts on a subject based on that author's apparent silence concerning the subject. This flaw in logic applies especially to the extreme form of Sola Scriptura known as Solo Scriptura, which is basically stated as "if it isn't in the Bible, I won't believe it."

The assumption here is that everything the Apostles had to say they wrote down; the question that follows, though, is who ever wrote down everything they had to say?

A third way in which Sola Scriptura is illogical is that it is based on the false assumption that we are able to approach anything tabula rasa (that is, as blank slates). It's a simple fact of human nature that this is impossible; wherever we go we bring with us the baggage of culture, language, and upbringing.

Imagine reading Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and attempting to interpret it without having any knowledge about the Civil War or even American history in general. It's impossible; everything has to be interpreted within a context. And, as the Scriptures themselves as well as the writings of early Christians make clear, the context of Scripture is the Church. Outside of this context, it is impossible to rightly interpret Scripture.
Saturday, December 5, 2009

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Christian!

This is a rejoinder to Robert Morey's book "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian?"

Sidenote: These are my own personal oppionions, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Church. Any error in this post must be pointed at me, and not Mother Church. However, any truth in this post must be pointed at Mother Church, and not me.

Robert Morey wrote a book about something he knows very little about.

In Chapter one of "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian?",

He says on Page 15 that Eastern Orthodoxy started out well. He speculates from what happened in Acts chapter 2:10 that many Jewish converts went back to their homelands and converted other Jews into the Christian Faith. He then fantasizes about how glorious and wonderful the Church and it’s pastors were. However, he has no documentation for this. He just declares it and expects us to take his word for it.

He goes on to talk about how hostile the early Egyptian Church was to Pagan philosophy.
He quotes Dr. Frend, the professor of Church history at the University of Glasgow to support his argument that the early Egyptian Church was against pagan philosophy. However, neither the New Testament nor the Apostolic Fathers that he quotes say anything about Christianity in Egypt. And the context of the "heretics" in his quote of Frend is most likely in reference to Valentinus, Basilides , The Heretic Cerinthus, Simon Magus, and maybe Marcion....and all of their followers.

The evidence we do have about Jews in Egypt is that some of them did make use of Hellenistic philosophy. Philo was such an Egyptian Jew. Also Morey is either ignoring or just doesn’t know the stronghold that Hellenism had on "Egyptian Jews". Not to mention Palestian Jews.

As seen from the Jewish Encyclopedia

"At Alexandria.

It was, however, in Alexandria that Jewish Hellenism reached its greatest development. Here, freed from the national bonds which held it firmlyto tradition in Palestine, Hellenistic Judaism became more Hellenistic than Jewish (see Alexandria). It is not true to say with Güdemann ("Monatsschrift," xlvii. 248) that Hellenism had no appreciable influence upon the development of Judaism; its influence was appreciable for many centuries; but it was driven out of the Jewish camp by the national sentiment aroused in the Maccabean and Bar Kokba revolts, and in forming the bridge between Judaism and Christianity it lost whatever permanent influence it might have possessed. Since that time, even in Egypt, the classical home of Hellenism, rabbinical Jewish communities have flourished that have borne no perceptible trace of the movement which made Alexandria great."

Also there is some evidence that even Palestinian Jews were influenced by Hellenistic culture. As Seen here, here, and here.

The Jewish Encyclopedia says:

"It was especially in eastern Palestine that Hellenism took a firm hold, and the cities of the Decapolis (which seems also to have included Damascus) were the centers of Greek influence. This influence extended in later times over the whole of the district east of the Jordan and of the Sea of Gennesaret, especially inTrachonitis, Batanæa, and Auranitis. The cities in western Palestine were not excepted. Samaria and Panias were at an early time settled by Macedonian colonists. The names of places were Hellenized: "Rabbath-Ammon" to "Philadelphia"; "Armoab" to "Ariopolis"; "Akko" to "Ptolemais." The same occurred with personal names: "Ḥoni" became "Menelaus"; "Joshua" became "Jason" or "Jesus." The Hellenic influence pervaded everything, and even in the very strongholds of Judaism it modified the organization of the state, the laws, and public affairs, art, science, and industry, affecting even the ordinary things of life and the common associations of the people."

So according to the evidence we have, it seems as if the Jews in Egypt were already Hellenized way before the first advent of Christ. We also know that the Jews in Palestine were not immune to the spread of Hellenism either.

The name "Nicodemus" is a greek name.

John 19:39
"He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds."

Alot of the cities in Palestine had greek names.

He talks about how 1st Clement never quoted any Stoic writer to supprt his convictions about the Stability of the Universe, but clement wasn’t in Egypt. He was in the West. And just because someone makes use of Pagan philosophy, that doesn’t mean they agree with everything the philosopher said. A prime example of this is Saint Paul in Acts Chapter 17 when he quotes Aratus.

Acts 17:28
'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

He mentions Polycarp who was the Bishop of Smynia not Egypt, and his pupil Irenaeus moved to Gaul(modern day France). Non of this tells us about early Egyptian Christianity.

On page 16 Morey continues with the idea that the Egyptian Jewish Church eventually attracted gentile converts. Eventhough he is talking about early Eastern Orthodoxy he makes it seem as if the "churches" were like some sort of Reformed Baptist egalitarian congregational gathering with the repetitive use of words like “the pastor” or “the Jewish pastors”. You didn't have an "egalitarian congregationalism in the mid second century". Well wait, you did among some of the Gnostics.

He mentions how the Jewish pastors were thrilled to have gentile converts. I wonder where Morey got this from? Did he invent this from thin air? How does he know they were happy at first? Also the traditions of Eastern Orthodoxy are broad. You can't just focus on Alexandria as if that's the only origin of Orthodoxy. The Origin is Jerusalem, and with the Apostles going all over the place our secondary Origins spread to different regions.......Alexandria is only one of them. Rome, Alexandria, and Antioch were the early key centers of early Christianity. Later, both Constantinople, and Jerusalem joined that list.

But whatever the case, this is where his conspiracy theory begins. He develops the plot of gentiles taking over the leadership of the Church and kicking Jewish Christians out. He says the Gentile Egyptian Church persecuted the Jewish wing as a sect. I really don't see how that can be if the Jews in Egypt were Hellenistic.

He quotes Dr. Frend again to prove this point. However, the quote he gives is ambiguous. Frend mentions how in the 2nd century there were many Christians who were nonconformist Jews. In this quote he shows the enmity between Orthodox(nonbelieving) Jews and christian Jews. He mentions the essenes, but it is unclear what he is trying to say. The quote ends with the mention of an active Jewish Christianity by the year 190 A.D. that has been reduced to a sect.

Is he talking about the second Jewish rebellion? We all know they were nonconformist, but we also know that they were anti-christian as well. I don't think Morey wants to align himself with Bar Kokhba,

But From my recollection, the Ebionites were the Jewish community that were called a sect by Early Chistians. And I doubt if Morey wants to be associated with them. One can learn more about the Ebionites here and Here.

Also, around this time, Christians were bizzy converting Jews to Christianity, yet Morey says we were kicking Jews out. According to Eusebius the Third Bishop of Jerusalem, who was Jewish by the way, became a christian and helped others of the circumcision sect come back to the Faith.
as seen here "Justus, the third bishop of Jerusalem".

It would seem more likely that Hellenistic Jewish Christianity merged with it’s Hellenistic gentile counterpart. Jewish believers and Gentile believers eventually intermarried. If one looks at how Orthodox(nonbelieving) Jews worship in the synagogue with how Orthodox Christians worship in the churches. Then one will see a strong continuity of thought, ritual, and custom. Morey tries to use Dr. Frend to support his theory of the fall of Jewish Christianity in Egypt, but from the look of his quotes I doubt if Frend was talking about Egypt at all.

Any student of Church history will know that most sects and heretical groups lived side by side with the Orthodox Church. And Sometimes they were both killed and persecuted by the Pagan Roman State. During and slightly after Constantine, people were put in exile, but most of the persecution happened during and after Emperor Julian the Apostate's reign. So most heretical groups were persecuted after 360 A.D., and for the most part it wasn’t done by the Church. It was done mainly by the State.

On page 17 he asserts that the political rule of the Church was total. That’s not accurate.
He exaggerates the political arm of the state over the Church. It was the Church that eventually made the state close down the gladiatorial games. It was the laity of the Church that eventually made the state stop destroying Icons. There were times of peace as well as times of friction between the Church And State.

On page 18, Morey pretends to play God by judging the hearts and minds of early christian Egyptian clergy.

Later on the page he says:

"With the assistance of the politicians, they took over
the Orthodox Church and their pagan doctrines, rituals, attire, icons, and art
became the "holy traditions" of Eastern Christianity.

Under the leadership of the emperor and his pagan
priests, Eastern Christianity adopted the core beliefs and rituals of the
paganism around them. This made it even more popular.

The "Babylonian Captivity" of Eastern Christianity took
place between A.D. 130 and A.D. 200. It climaxed with the rise of the "Christian
Apologists." Frend comments,"

This dude keeps jumping around. On page 17 he starts out talking about the mid second century only to jump to the 4th and 5th centuries at the end of page 17, only to jump back again to the mid second century on page 18.

What Emperor in the mid second century claimed to be a christian? What Emperor in the mid 3rd century claimed to be a christian?

Who were the clergy in 2nd century Egypt that took over the Orthodox Church with the assistance of politicians? Morey is worst than Dan Brown & Jack chick with his conspiracy theories.

Also on pages 18 through 21 he totally ignores the fact that Egyptian Jews were Hellenistic. This one fact alone collapses everything he said. It makes the whole book pointless. He seemed too bizzy painting a work of fiction to even notice.

Also Morey seems ignorant of the Icons in the Holy of Holies in the once Jewish temple.(Ex 25:18-22),
Ex 25:17-22
"Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites."

The Jews bowed down in front of the footstool in the Temple(Psalm 99:1-5)
"The LORD reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion, And He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy. The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy."

He also seems ignorant of the fact that the Priest’s garment had pictures of pomegranates( Ex 28:31-35).
Ex 28:31-35
""Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die."

The curtains had the image of cherubim (Exodus 26:1-6)
Ex 26:1-6
"Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman. 2 All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. 3 Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. 4 Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. 5 Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. 6 Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit."

And through archaeology we see that the artifacts of the 2nd temple were highly decorated:
Relics of the 2nd Temple

A bowl used in the 2nd Temple:

An up close look at some of it's Icons:

About a century or two after the 2nd Temple, we still see Jews making use of Icons in a Synagogue in Damascus Syria: (Dura Europos)

A closer look:

A podcast interview with a conservative Jewish Rabbi:
The Illuminedheart by kevin Allen who is speaking with a Rabbi about judaism and christianity

We don't worship icons, we venerate them. There is a difference between the two. The Jews venerate the Torah as well as a few other things in the Synagogue ......not to mention the wailing wall.

Icons are not new to Jews and in Christianity we see an outgrowth from mostly Icons of signs and symbols with few human image icons, to mostly human image Icons centuries later. Eventhough christians always had Icons (depicted symbols of the Faith both in human and nonhuman form), it took centuries before the Church finally decided on the issue. Before then, you will find christians arguing with eachother or just taking a stance one way or the other. The issue of the Incarnation is what finally ended the dispute with the 7nth Ecumenical council. And so, to deny Icons is to deny the Incarnation.

"Icons and the Incarnation: 7th Christian Council" by Judith Irene Matta

"Icons ... not Idols" a talk by Paul Finley

This is from the podcast Our Life in Christ by Steven Robinson and Bill Gould.

Icons Part 1 (49:50 minutes) as seen from the website:
"This is the first of a six part series on "ICONS" from our KPXQ live radio program archives from 2004. In this program we introduce icons and what you will see in an Orthodox Church and look at the scriptures, especially in the Old Testament, that seem to prohibit the making of "graven images". Are all images "idols", and are ALL images and representations of the material world prohibited by God?"

Play Audio

Direct Link

Icons Part 2 (50:32 minutes) as seen from the website:
"In part two of "Icons" we continue to discuss the Scriptures and the post-Reformation emphasis on the "intellectual" apprehension of the rational message of the Gospel as written in the Bible. But we will see that icons are a fulfillment of the Gospel and more specifically are a logical ramification of the Incarnation of God."

Play Audio

Direct Link

To listen to the other 4 podcasts in the series, please visit the Our Life in Christ webpage.

Now lets look at what really happened in Egypt.

According to Eusebius:

"Mark first proclaimed Christianity to the inhabitants of Egypt.

(1) The same Mark, they also say, being the first sent
to Egypt, proclaimed the gospel there which he written and first established
churches at the city of Alexandria. (2) So great a multitude of believers, both
of men and women, were collected there at the very outset, that in consequence
of their extreme philosophical discipline and austerity, Philo considered their
pursuits, their assemblies, and entertainment, and in short their whole manner
of life, as deserving a place in his descriptions."

To learn more about Saint Mark, go here: "Saint Mark"

It was the Apostle Mark that was the first sent to Egypt to proclaim the Gospel there. Also, according to Eusebius, "Annianus was appointed the first bishop of Alexandria after Mark.

"(1) Nero was now in the eighth year of his reign when
Annianus suceeded the apostle and evangelist Mark in the administration of the
church of Alexandria. He was a man distinguished for his piety and admirable in
every respect."

After Annianus was Avilius

"(1) In the fourth year of Domitian Annianus, who was
the first bishop of Alexandria, died after having filled the office twenty
years. He was succeeded by Avilius, who was the second bishop of that

Credon was the third bishop of Alexandria

"(1) After Nerva had reigned a little more than a year,
he was succeeded by Trajan. It was in the first year of his reign that Cerdon
succeeded Avilius in the church of Alexandria, after the latter had governed it
thirteen years. He was the third who held the episcopate there since Annianus.
During this time, Clement was yet bishop of the Romans, who was also the third
who held the Episcopate there after Paul and Peter, Linus being the first and
Anencletus next in order."

Next in line was Primus

"(1) About the Twelfth year of the reign of Trajon, the
bishop of the church of Alexandria, who was mentioned by us a little before,
departed this life. Primus was the fourth from the apostles to whom the
functions of the office were there allotted. At the same time, after Euarestus
had completed the eighth year as bishop of Rome, he was succeeded in the
episcopal office by Alexander, the fifth in succession from Peter and

After Primus was Justus

"(1) In the third year of the same reign, Alexandria,
bishop of Rome, died , having completed the tenth year of his ministrations.
Xystus was his successor; and about the same time Primus, dying in the twelfth
year of the episcopate, was succeeded by Justus."

We are mainly talking about all the Egyptian Christians from the reign of the Emperor TIBERIUS (about 33 A.D.) to the Emperor Severus (about 211 A.D.) To find out more about Early Egyptian Christianity, please visit this Link. And to know more about the time line in question, please visit Notes on Church History by R. Grant Jones.

Also buy this book "Wade In The River" by Fr. Paisius Altschul.

Other books to get:
Jews and Christians the parting of ways 70 A.D. to 135 A.D.
History-Eastern-Christianity by Aziz-Atiya
- The Eastern Christian Churches: A Brief Survey, by Ronald G Roberson
- Timeline of Eastern Church History, by Kathryn Tsai
- The Arab Christian: A History in the Middle East, by Kenneth Cragg
- A History of Christianity in Asia: Beginnings to 1500 by Samuel Hugh Moffett
- Christians in the Arab East: A Political Study, by Robert B. Betts

Other books that are similar in topic are:
- A History of the Christian Church by Walker
- The Christian East and the Rise of the Papacy by Aristeides Papadakis & John Meyendorff
- The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware
- The Orthodox Church by Sergius Bulgakov
- The Orthodox Church by John Meyendorff
- Imperial Unity And Christian Divisions by John Meyendorff

Morey thinks the Egyptian Christian "Babylonian Captivity" happened around this time. Christians were still being persecuted in this era. Most of what he says in this chapter is pure nonsense. He ignores the real historical evidence in favor of his mythical reconstruction.

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Christian! Chapter 2 - A (chapter 2)


[1] page 18, by Robert Morey, in the book "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian" christian scholars press 2007

[2] page 50, [3] page 62, [4] page 82, [5] page 85, [6] 109, [7] page 110 by Eusebius in the book "Ecclesiastical History" translated by C.F. Cruse, Hendrickson Publishers 1998

The Invincible Trophy

The Jehovah's Witnesses organization feature an article on their website entitled "Did Jesus Really Die on a Cross?" I would like to take this opportunity to respond to that question, emphatically and unequivocally: YES!

The article opens its arguments with the statement that the Babylonians used a "cross" in the worship of the pagan deity Tammuz. All of my searches and reference-checks for this assertion led me back to one man: Alexander Hislop. Many of the articles I came across cited him as a "historian" or "expert in [pick your poison]." He was neither; he was, instead, a minister in the Free Church of Scotland, a Calvinist organization of the 19th century. He also seems to have dedicated a significant portion of his writing career to attacking the Roman Catholic Church, and his comments about Tammuz and the cross are part of these attacks. If the statements about Tammuz and the cross were true, you'd think its proponents could find a better source than a 19th century Calvinist minister with a serious case of Romophobia. I'm not saying it's not possible that he was right in this assertion, but I have my doubts until I see it from a much less biased source.

That said, I will freely and readily admit that symbols with close similarities to the cross were in use well before Christianity, including the swastika, the "plus sign," and the ankh. But my question in reponse to this is: so what? I don't mean that rudely or dismissively, but in all seriousness. First of all, it's a logical fallacy to assert that similarity implies causality.

And, more importantly, the pre-Christian existence of the cross actually supports the pro-cross position. We don't claim that Christians somehow invented the cross or that the use of a cross was unique to Christ's crucifixion; we claim that it was a symbol of death, the very instrument of execution used by the Romans, which Christ, through accomplishing the redemption of mankind via death on a cross, transformed into a symbol of eternal life. Clearly, it would have to have had a long history of use for this assertion to be true.

The article then goes on to cite a book called The Non-Christian Cross by someone named "J.D. Parsons," quoting thus:
There is not a single sentence in any of the numerous writings forming the New Testament, which, in the original Greek, bears even indirect evidence to the effect that the stauros used in the case of Jesus was other than an ordinary stauros; much less to the effect that it consisted, not of one piece of timber, but of two pieces nailed together in the form of a cross.
I'll get back to the quote in a moment; first, let's find out who was "J.D. Parsons." Or, perhaps more important, who he was not, namely: a historian, an expert in Greek language, a theologian, or, to sum it all up at once, anybody worth quoting as an authority! No, he was John Denham Parsons, a writer on many topics he didn't know much about, a denier of the historicity of Christ, a 19th century neo-pagan, and a member of a group called the "Society for Physical Research," which Society's stated purposes were to understand "events and abilities commonly described as psychic or paranormal by promoting and supporting important research in this area" and to "examine allegedly paranormal phenomena in a scientific and unbiased way." Right... I don't mean to sound disrespectful, but where does the Watch Tower dig these guys up from?

Now that we know who J.D. Parsons was, let's look at his statement as quoted by this article. His claim is that "there is not a single sentence" in the entire New Testament which, even indirectly, supports the belief that the word "stauros," when used to refer to the instrument of Christ's death in the New Testament, means a cross. He's wrong; I can think of a few:

  • "And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha," - John 19:17. The stipes, the upright pole of the cross, was generally fixed in a certain spot used for executions. It was too large and heavy to carry, plus the Roman soldiers didn't want to have to replant the post every time they were crucifying someone -- anyone who has ever driven fence stakes or put up a mailbox can tell you why; it's a pain. The patibulum, the cross-beam, though, generally only weighed about 100 pounds -- heavy, but carriable; and it was often a part of the punishment of the condemned man to have to carry the patibulum to the execution site. There is, however, not a single piece of art or writing from the ancient world which depicts or speaks of a condemned man carrying his own stipes.
  • "The other disciples therefore said to him, 'We have seen the Lord.' So he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'" - John 20:25. Notice that St. Thomas here says "nails" -- plural. More than one nail would only need to be used if Christ's hands were separated, as on a cross. What need would there be to have more than one nail if Christ's hands were overlapping one another on a "torture stake" as in illustrations of the crucifixion used by Jehovah's Witnesses, such as this one. Notice that there's only one nail being used to hold the crucified man's hands there?
  • "And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him: THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." - Matthew 27:37. If Christ's hands were nailed above his head on a "torture stake" why does St. Matthew here say that this sign was attached to the cross "over His head." If Christ's hands are over his head, shouldn't the sign be over his hands? Perhaps his hands are somewhere else -- like stretched out across the patibulum?

I could give more examples of evidence from Scripture, but I'll stop there and move on to the rest of the Jehovah's Witnesses' article. They next claim that St. Peter's use of the word "tree" in Acts 5:30 to refer to the instrument of Christ's crucifixion somehow supports their claim that said instrument was an upright stake alone. This is eisegesis at its very worst and, for that reason, not worth responding to. That said, trees don't look much like straight, upright stakes to me.

We move next to a very interesting claim, which I'll quote from the article:

It was not until about 300 years after Jesus’ death that some professed Christians promoted the idea that Jesus was put to death on a two-beamed cross.
So, assuming that Christ was crucified in AD 33, this article is claiming that the belief in "a two-beamed cross" didn't come about until about AD 333. Well, let's see:

  • "For the scripture saith; 'And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred.' What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith 'the eighteen' first, and then after an interval 'three hundred.' In the eighteen 'I' stands for ten, 'H' for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). And because the cross in the 'T' was to have grace, He saith also 'three hundred.' So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross." - Letter of St. Barnabas, 9, 7 (ca. AD 80). St. Barnabas' argument here is based on gematria, an ancient Jewish practice of interpreting the meaning of words based on the numerical values of the letters (in Hebrew and Greek, letters also act as numbers). What's important to our argument here from Barnabas' argument is that he says the "three hundred" represents the cross ("strauros" in the original Greek of the letter) of Christ. The letter used to represent 300 in Greek is the Tau -- which looks like the English letter "T" -- a cross.
  • "For the [Passover] lamb, which is roasted, is roasted and dressed up in the form of the cross. For one spit is transfixed right through from the lower parts up to the head, and one across the back, to which are attached the legs of the lamb." - St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 40 (ca. AD 150). St. Justin Martyr is here explaining how the Passover of the Jews foreshadowed the redemptive sacrifice of Christ on the cross. I think this quote speaks for itself.
  • "For it is right to mount upon the cross of Christ, who is the word stretched out, the one and only, of whom the spirit saith: For what else is Christ, but the word, the sound of God? So that the word is the upright beam whereon I am crucified. And the sound is that which crosseth it, the nature of man. And the nail which holdeth the cross-tree unto the upright in the midst thereof is the conversion and repentance of man." - Acts of Peter, 38 (ca. AD 170. As you can see, this writing specifically mentions both the upright beam and the cross-beam by name, assigning a symbolic reference to each.
  • "The very form of the cross, too, has five extremities, two in length, two in breadth, and one in the middle, on which [last] the person rests who is fixed by the nails." - St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 2, 24, 4 (ca. AD 180). I believe this is clear enough to speak for itself.
It should be clear from these few quotes alone, and there are many others, that the above assertion by the Jehovah's Witnesses' article is patently false. But we've got more! In addition to the writings, there's also the archaeology, one of the most interesting examples of which is this:

This piece of ancient "artwork" (I use that word very loosely in this case) is called the "Alexamenos graffito." It was carved on a plaster wall in Rome some time in the late first century. The figures depicted are a donkey-headed man attached to a cross (not a "torture stake") and a man in front of the crucified figure with arms raised in worship. The wording reads "Alexamenos worships [his] God." Most scholars agree that the purpose of this carving was to mock Christians (specifically poor Alexamenos) and our God, Jesus Christ. Even the pagans knew of the cross of Christ, in their own twisted way.

The Jehovah's Witnesses' article concludes with a few paragraphs on whether the instrument of Christ's death, whether a cross or a "torture stake," should be used in worship. They posit the question: if you a had a friend who was murdered, would you adore the instrument of his murder by venerating it, making jewelry fashioned after it, and adorning your home with pictures of it? This is a false comparison, though, because Christ's death is not simply a meaningless murder -- it is the redemption of all mankind, "trampling down death by death," as one of the Paschal hymns of the Orthodox Church says.

The cross is described time and again by early Christian authors as our "trophy," and this is why we reverence the cross. In ancient Greek and Roman culture, a trophy was a monument which a conquering army set up to commemorate the defeat of their enemies. Typically, the trophy took the form of a tree upon which was hung the weapons which the defeated enemy had used. It was a symbol of victory over one's foes. And this is what the cross is for Christians. The cross, which formerly had been the weapon of death and the devil, has become the Holy Cross of Christ, a trophy of Christ's victory over death and the devil. In the Orthodox Church, on the Feast of the Procession of the Honorable Wood of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord, we sing this hymn:
As You were voluntarily crucified for our sake,
Grant mercy to those who are called by Your name;
Make all Orthodox Christians glad by Your power,
Granting them victories over their adversaries,
By bestowing on them the invincible trophy, Your weapon of peace!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Fathers on the Theotokos as the New Eve

"He [Christ] became man by the Virgin, in order that the disobedience which proceeded from the serpent might receive its destruction in the same manner in which it derived its origin. For Eve, who was a virgin and undefiled, having conceived the word of the serpent, brought forth disobedience and death. But the Virgin Mary received faith and joy, when the angel Gabriel announced the good tidings to her that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her, and the power of the Highest would overshadow her: wherefore also the Holy Thing begotten of her is the Son of God; and she replied, ‘Be it unto me according to thy word.’ And by her has He been born, to whom we have proved so many Scriptures refer, and by whom God destroys both the serpent and those angels and men who are like him; but works deliverance from death to those who repent of their wickedness and believe upon Him." - St. Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 100 (AD 150)

"And thus also it was that the knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by the obedience of Mary. For what the virgin Eve had bound fast through unbelief, this did the virgin Mary set free through faith." - St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Against Heresies, 3, 22, 4 (AD 180)

"For it was while Eve was yet a virgin, that the ensnaring word had crept into her ear which was to build the edifice of death. Into a virgin’s soul, in like manner, must be introduced that Word of God which was to raise the fabric of life; so that what had been reduced to ruin by this sex, might by the selfsame sex be recovered to salvation. As Eve had believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel. The delinquency which the one occasioned by believing, the other by believing effaced." - Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ, 17 (AD 200)

"Death came through Eve, but life has come through Mary." - St. Jerome of Stridonium, Letter to Eustochium, 21 (AD 384)

"... Christ found in the Virgin that which He willed to make His own, that which the Lord of all might take to Himself. Further, our flesh was cast out of Paradise by a man and woman and was joined to God through a Virgin." - St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter to the Church at Vercellae, 33 (AD 396)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Christian! Chapter 2-A

This Ruff draft is in the process of being re-edited:

Sidenote: These are my own personal oppionions, and do not necessarily represent the views of the Church. Any error in this post must be pointed at me, and not Mother Church. However, all truth in this post must be pointed at Mother Church, and not me

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Christian! (chapter 1)

Chapter 2 of Morey's book.

What is Orthodoxy?

Where did Eastern
Orthodoxy derive its distinctive doctrines and rituals? In discussions with
Orthodox priests and Theologians, I have heard many different answers.

I. Protestant Converts to Orthodoxy

If they were converts from
Protestantism, especially from Evangelicalism, they would smile at me and say
that Eastern Orthodoxy derived its doctrines and rituals from the Bible.

However, when I pressed them as to exactly where in the Bible could I
specifically find such things as the veneration of icons, they would switch
tactics and state that such things came from the "Holy Traditions" and the
"Fathers." I persisted by asking them,"
[1] page 25

And then he goes on to ask 16 questions. After that he talks about some statements made by Frank Schaeffer Jr. in a few of his books. Schaeffer can defend himself, but I will comment on a few things Morey said.

He then moves on to a few things the Metropolitan Bishop Kallistos Ware made. He makes a 15 point list of what he thinks some of the major differences between Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism(his understanding of it) are.

He ends the convert section with:

"The differences listed above cannot be
dismissed as a mere "tempest in a tea cup." The differences between Orthodoxy
and Evangelical theology are absolutely fundamental and cannot be ignored. We
agree with Orthodox thinkers such as Schaeffer, Ware, et al that Orthodoxy is a
different religion.

In This work, we have chosen to Investigate
Orthodoxy's dependence on Greek Philosophy, its iconolatry, and the origin and
nature of its doctrine of deification. The other issues must await later
[2] page 33

The next sections of chapter 2 deal with his explanation of what he calls "Liberal Orthodoxy", "Conservative Orthodoxy", and "Fundamentalist Orthodoxy". And last but not least, he ends chapter 2 with what he calls the "sliding scale".

At this time I would like to look at his questions in chapter 2:

quote from page 25:
If they were converts
from Protestantism, especially from Evangelicalism, they would smile at me and
say that Eastern Orthodoxy derived its doctrines and rituals from the

The New Testament Scripture came from the Church(The Apostles and their scribes were members of the Church). The Church is the foundation of Truth. But for those that only recognize the Primary writtings that She produced, we speak the language that Reformed Baptists understand to establish a link of communication. So we use from our Bossom what they only recognize to help them understand that the "Reformed Baptist Evangelical tradition" is not enough. There is a fullness of the Faith, that was once delivered to the Saints. Something that preceeds the Reformed Baptist tradition by 1,600 hundred years.

2 Thessalonians 2:15
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle."

"If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them. Custom is their strengthener, and faith is their observer.....These instances, therefore, will make it sufficiently plain that you can vindicate the keeping of even unwritten tradition established by custom. The proper witness for tradition is its demonstration by long-continued observance." Tertullian 211 A.D. [9]

quote from page 25
However, when I pressed
them as to exactly where in the Bible could I specifically find such things as
the veneration of icons, they would switch tactics and state that such things
came from the "Holy Traditions" and the "Fathers." I persisted by asking

He is trying to trap people into a corner. and it wasn't a switch of Tactics. We don't believe in Sola Scriptura so we don't have that mindset. Reformed Protestants believe that any Oral tradition that was inspired was eventually written as scripture. Therefore, in their minds the Bible is the sum of both Oral and written tradition.
In order to understand where Morey is coming from, we need to first look at the Reformed "Regulative Principle of worship". Historically it has been contrasted against the Lutherian "Regulative Principle of worship" as seen here "Theological Issues -Lutherian vs Reformed "

ISSUE: Regulative Principle

The Lutherian Position is:

"Whatever is not forbidden in Scripture is permissible"

The Reformed Position is:

"Whatever is not commanded in Scripture is forbidden"

So as you can see, for Morey, if it's not found in scripture then it must be forbidden, and eventhough the regula principle is mainly in regards to worship, you will find this same mindset in alot of other areas. You will find it in the area of church government......etc. The Puritans in many ways were like the Anabaptists in that they seemed to have a tendency to lean heavily in the direction of what some call "solo scriptura". Solo Scriptura is a more radical interpretation of Sola Scriptura, but we will get into this later. For now, I just would like to say that there are alot of words and things not found in scripture but are indeed "scriptural". The word "Trinity" is not found in scripture, but the principle is found in scripture. The same is true for the word "homoousios". Thanks to Saint Athanasius, we saw how it was used in a "scriptural" fashion. And so, what is "scriptural" has alot to do with the "meaning" or the "interpretation" of Scripture.

In like manner "Veneration" is "scriptural". It is a type of reverence or respect to the one in which the symbol represents.

Anthony M. Coniaris said it perfectly when he said:
"First, let us consider the charge of idolatry. Orthodox Christians do not worship icons; they merely reverence or venerate them as symbols. Leonius of Neopolis wrote in the seventh century: "We do not make obeisance to the nature of wood, but we revere and make obeisance to Him who was crucified on the Cross. . .When the two beams of the Cross are joined together I adore the finger because of Christ who on the cross was crucified, but if the beams are separated, I throw them away and burn them." [3]

That which is "special" compared to that which is "ordinary"

1.) Was the Ark of the Covenant "special" or "ordinary"? If one says "special" then they automatically venerate the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was "special" because of the One it represented.

2.) Was the ground near the Burning Bush, "special" or "ordinary"? If one says "special" then one automatically venerate the ground near the Burning Bush. The ground was "special" because of the One it was near.

3.) Was the Holy of Holies "special" or "ordinary"? If one says "special" then they automatically venerate the Holy of Holies. The Holy of Holies is "special" because of the One it represents.

4.) Was the Temple "special" or "ordinary"? If one says "special" then they automatically venerate the Temple. The Temple is "special" because of the One it represents.

5.) Is the Bible "special" or "ordinary"? If one says "special" then they automatically venerate the Bible. The Bible is "special" because of the One it represents.

We can also look at the human family as an example. Is one's mother an ordinary woman or is she someone special? If she's special, it is because of her relationship to you. The same is true for any person of a family. Is one's wife an ordinary woman or is she special? If she's special, it is because of her relationship to you. Is one's child an ordinary kid? Or is your child special? If the little one is special, it is because of their relationship to you.

Eastern Christian Icons, are not just art. They are sacred and not secular, they are a pictoral language and not void of meaning. They record the Theology, expressions, and History of the Church itself.
Also bowing down in front of someone or something is not wrong in and of itself. What makes it right or wrong is the context, and intent of the person or persons. Even a protestant blogger was able to see this: Degrees of “worship” in the Bible

"For instance, 1 Chr. 29:20:
"And David said to all the congregation, Now bless the LORD your God. And all the congregation blessed the LORD God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the LORD, and the king."

The term “worshipped” (shaha) denotes prostrating (bowing down) in an act of worship/devotion.

In Rev. 3:9 we read:
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
The Greek term proskuneō, is used to describe the act of prostrating (bowing down, "worship") before Jesus (and God the Father) throughout the NT, but in the above text, it is utilized with reference to the saints, the adopted Sons of God.

The evidence strongly indicates that one must speak of degrees of “worship”.
Now, with that said, there is one Greek term of religious devotion reserved for God (the Father) alone: latreuō.
So in ending, which ever side one chooses to defend, one cannot ignore the issue of degrees of religious “worship” (devotion) as being Biblical."
(To read everything he had to say about this issue, please visit his post)

We already seen from chapter 1 that the worship service in the Jewish Temple involved bowing in front of the footstool:

"The LORD reigns; Let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; Let the earth be moved! The LORD is great in Zion, And He is high above all the peoples. Let them praise Your great and awesome name— He is holy. The King’s strength also loves justice; You have established equity; You have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob. Exalt the LORD our God, And worship at His footstool— He is holy."

And so, there are different degrees of reverence. Another point I would like to make known is the fact that God does share His glory. Alot of protestants hold to the view that God doesn't share his glory, but He does, as seen below:

In the New Testament:
NKJVJohn 17:21-23
"that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me."

Not only have we already been givin glory, but we will also be givin glory in the future when we are "glorified". If this isn't true, then the whole concept of "glorification" just wouldn't make since.

2nd Corinthians 3:18
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."

Romans 9:23
"and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory"

1st Corinthians 15:43
"It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power."

Glory naturally only belongs to God, but he has freely given it also to his people.

"Can you give me a concise definition of what
constitute a "Holy tradition?"
[4] page 25

His goal is to put "Holy Tradition" into a box so that he can use logic to find any inconsistencies. Thus logic is his "real" foundation of truth. The Church is an Organism not a machine. Therefore "Holy Tradition" is an organic whole that Permeates the Church. It's multifaceted internal authority is primarily Holy Scripture, but scripture is not alone nor can it be separated from the Church and the other internal sources of Holy Tradition. For there is also liturgical custom, patristic consensus, conciliar declaration, credal statements, and Icons.

I believe Patrick Barnes in his discussion with Robin, as seen here, stated it well when he quoted the Metropolitan Kallistos Ware:
""Orthodox are always talking about Tradition. What do they mean by the word?... [T]o an Orthodox Christian, Tradition means something more concrete and specific than this. It means the books of the Bible; it means the Creed; it means the decrees of the Ecumenical Councils and the writings of the Fathers; it means the Canons, the Service Books, the Holy Icons — in fact, the whole system of doctrine, Church government, worship, and art which Orthodoxy has articulated over the ages. The Orthodox Christian of today sees himself as heir and guardian to a great inheritance received from the past, and he believes that it is his duty to transmit this inheritance unimpaired to the future.....

"Orthodox, while reverencing this inheritance from the past, are also well aware that not everything received from the past is of equal value. Among the various elements of Tradition, a unique pre-eminence belongs to the Bible, to the Creed, to the doctrinal definitions of the Ecumenical Councils: these things the Orthodox accept as something absolute and unchanging, something which cannot be cancelled or revised. The other parts of Tradition do not have quite the same authority.

Or go here: What do we mean by Tradition?

"Is the issue age, i.e. is something a
"tradition", if it can be traced back to the days of the apostles or the early
[5] page 25

He is trying to make a distinction between what some call "Apostolic Tradition" with "Episcopal tradition". This is a western concept formed by the fueds between Rome and various Protestant groups or between Episcopalians and other protestant groups.

The Eastern view of "tradition" is different from the Western view of both Rome and Protestantism.

Tradition permeates the Church itself. It is a living tradition. I think the protestant scholar Daniel B. Clendenin did a decent job. When he said: "sidenote: the christian east does not view Tertullian as a church father, so Clendenin made a mistake there"

"While the apostolic deposit finds unique articulation in the written tradition of canonical Scripture, it is not confined or limited to the biblical text, but finds fuller expression in extracanonical tradition. Written Scripture is primary but not exclusive; the tradition of the councils and the Fathers are indispensable for a number of reasons. First, both the church itself and the apostolic kerygma existed for nearly three centuries before the ecumenical councils and the establishment of the scriptural canon. In the Acts of the Apostles the precanonical "word of God" that the apostles preached about Jesus continues to grow and flourish, and even seems to be equated with the church itself (Acts 12:24; 19:20). We also know that Jesus did many things that were never written down (John 20:30-31;25), and that Paul urged the early Christians to accept (John 20:30-31;21:25), and that Paul urged the early Christians to accept both the written and unwritten apostolic paradosis that he passed on to them (2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor 11:2). The oral message preached to the Thessalonians was rightly received by them as "the word of God" (1 Thess. 2:13; cf. Col. 1:25 and 3:16). Oral tradition is thus a necessary complement or supplement to written Scripture, for the gospel kerygma is not exactly contiguous with the canon of Scripture.

Second, Orthodoxy would insist that nobody operates with a clean slate, a tabula rasa, and, accordingly, noncanonical traditions are a practical and hermeneutical inevitability. Although someone might claim to interpret the Scripture de novo in principle, in practice we all read the text not only with theological or denominational presuppositions, but also through the space time prisms of our individual cultures and experiences. Furthermore, even if a neutral reading were possible, it would hardly be desirable because it would likely lead to arbitrary and errant understandings of the text. Thus it becomes all the more important tolocate oneself within the apostolic oral tradition that serves as a hermeneutical context for written Scripture. Third, liturgical precedent also reveals the importance of noncanonical tradition. We saw in the last chapter that when defending the use of icons, both John of Damascus and Theodore the Studite based their cases squarely on the importance of extrabiblical liturgical tradition. According to Orthodoxy, there are many similar aspects of the life and liturgy of the church that, while not explicitly contained in or demanded by Scripture, are of undisputed significance to believers. Pertinent here is a celebrated passage from Basil's On the Holy Spirit. In defending the deity of the Holy Spirit, Basil appealed to the fact that widely used doxologies of the church confessed, "Glory to the Father and to the Son with the Spirit." While the preposition with was not found in Scripture, it had all the weight of liturgical precedent, which Basil was of enormous significance: "Concerning the teachings of the Church, we have received some from written sources, while others have been given to us secretly, through apostolic tradition. Both sources have equal force in true in true religion. No one would deny either source-no one, at any rate, who is even slightly familiar with the ordinances of the Church. If we attacked unwritten customs, claiming them to be of little importance, we would fatally mutilate the Gospel, no matter what our intentions-or rather, we would reduce the Gospel teachings to bare words." Basil goes on to list some of the uncontested ancient liturgical customs of the church: certain baptismal practices, and the renunciation of Satan and his angels. For Basil, not only are certain liturgical traditions of great importance, "they are indispensable for the preservation of right faith." Tertullian had made the same point, in a similar manner, more than a century earlier. Citing important liturgical practices such as the renunciation of the devil at baptism, threefold immersion, celebration of the Eucharist early in the morning and only by a bishop, prayers for the dead at the Eucharist, celebration of the Eucharist on the anniversary of the deaths of martyrs, abstinence from fasting and from praying in a kneeling position on Sundays, prevention of any part of the bread and wine from falling onto the ground, and other such practices, Tertullian remarks: :If you demand a biblical rule for these observances and others of the same sort, you will find none written. Tradition will be alleged to you as the authority and custom to support them and faith to practice them. You yourself will either see the reason which supports the tradition and the custom and the faith, or you will learn it from someone who will have seen it. Meanwhile you will believe it to be not lacking in authority to which to which obedience should be owed." In short, in Basil and Terullian we see a practical example in which the lex orandi defines the lex credendi. Unless we wish to denude and mutilate the apostolic tradition, according to Basil and Tertullian, we will accept the authority of the liturgical precedent, even though it is not contained in Scripture alone.

Fourth, the necessity of the extrabiblical tradition finds broad-based support in the theological methodologies of any number of early fathers, a fact which is of no small significance for Orthodoxy. Tertullian invoked the "rule of the faith" and Irenaeus the "canon of truth" against the heretics of their day. Athanasius, the champion of Nicene orthodoxy, had to defend the council against the Arian charge that its conclusions (specifically the term homoousios) were innoations. He was nevertheless thoroughly apostolic. In contending against the Arians, who wished to limit the argument to Scripture alone, Athanasius appealed to the larger "scope" (skopos) or "rule" (kanon) of faith, the tradition and teaching of the catholic church. The stalwart defender of orthodoxy, Ephiphanius, noted that some elements of the apostolic faith were "delivered to us through the Scriptures, the others through the Tradition delivered to us by the Holy Apostles." Chrysostom, commenting on 2 Thessalonians 2:15, pointed out that the apostles :did not deliver all things by epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the Tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition; seek no farther." Augustine confessed that "I should not have believed the Gospel, if the authority of the Catholic Church had notmoved me." And so, according to Orthodoxy, when we appeal to the apostolic tradition outside of sola scriptura, we stand on the firm ground of the early patristic consensus and theological method. Of all the justification for invoking the extrabiblical apostolic tradition a hermeneutical necessity. Hilary of Poitiers noted that "Scripture is not in the reading but in the understanding," a sentiment repeated by Jerome, who rebuked certain heretics because, not having the help of the Holy Spirit, they turned the divine gospel into a human word: "We do not think that [the] Gospel consits of the words of Scripture but in its meaning........In this case Scripture is really usefull for the hearers when it is not spoken without Christ, nor is presented without the Fathers, and those who are preaching do not introduce it without the Holy Spirit." The problem of misunderstanding as a result of private interpreting and twisting of the Scripture exposes the inadequacy of reading the Bible alone and confirms the hermeneutical necessity of its larger patristic context. This is precisely the problem with heretics, as George Prestige so sptly observed: "Heretics showed that they could be as painstaking in their use of Scripture as the saints. The fact soon became obvious to any intelligent thinker that the principle of 'the Bible and the Bible only' provides no automatically secure basis for a religion that is to be genuinely Christian." Irenaeus and Vincent of Lerins made this point in special ways. Irenaeus employed two striking analogies. He compared heretics' treatment of Scripture to people who take a beautifully crafted mosaic of a king, rearrange the pieces to depict a dog or a fox, and then have the audacity to claim that their rearrangement is the authentic mosaic because it contains the original materials. Heretics are also like people who arbitrarily rearrange the poetry of Homer so that, while the verses themselves are original, the meaning has been grossly distorted. In other words, it is one thing to have at one's disposal the original material of Scripture, and quite another to us it properly. Only by adhereing to the apostolic tradition and the rule of truth will we avoid the hermeneutical distortions of heretics and not mistake foxes for kings or paltry paraphrases for the real Word.
When searching for a means to distinguish the true apostolic faith from heresy, Vincent of Lerins noted that while Scripture is "for all things complete and more than sufficient," even heretics appeal to Scripture. It seems, Vincent of Lerins noted that while Scripture is "for all things complete and more than sufficient," even heretics appeal to Scripture. It seems, Vincent observed, that "owing to the depth of Holy Scripture, all do not accept it with one and the same sense, but one understands its words in one way, another in another; so that it seems to be capable of as many interpretations as there are interpreters". To "detect the frauds and avoid the snares of heretics as they rise, and to continue sound and complete in the catholic faith," we need the authority of tradition, specifically, "that which has believed everywhere, always, by all." This ecumenicity of time and space serves as a hermeneutical prism so that, in the words of Hilary and Jerome, we do not merely read the text but understand it rightly. For Vincent, as Florovsky notes, "Tradition was, in fact, the authentic interpretation of Scripture. And in this sense it was co-extensive with Scripture. Tradition was actually 'Scripture rightly understood.' And Scripture for St. Vincent was the only, primary, and ultimate canon of Christian truth." pages 110-113 [6]

One can also see this with Saint Athanasius and the fued he had with the heretic Arius "Saint Athanasius and the "scope of Faith"". We can see this when Saint Polycarp's testimony converted many disciples of Marcion and Valentinus, "The genuine tradition of Apostolic doctrine", and we can see this in "The Regula Fidei" as noted by George Florovsky.

quote from page 26
"Is the issue authority,
i.e. was it believed by all "the Fathers" or all great theologians in the past?"

The authority is the Holy Spirit. The Church maybe the foundation of truth, but it is the Holy Spirit that guides her into that Truth.

I say this because in the Church you have every authority. You have the Holy Spirit, the Bible, Bishops, teachers, the Liturgy, the creeds, the Fathers, and Icons. When it comes to protestant scholars that write about Orthodoxy, I think Daniel B. Clendenin did another decent job by saying:

"For Westerners, this absence of formal criteria or authorities," Meyendorff admits, is "puzzling, . . .nebulous,. . .romantic,. . . unrealistic," apparently "subjectivistic," and even an "embarrassment" of sorts. Nevertheless, "the Orthodox East has never been obsessed with a search for objective, clear, and formally definable criteria of truth, such as either the papal authority or the Reformed notion of sola scriptura." Meyendorff takes pains to clarify this extremely important point: "This lack in Orthodox ecclesiology of a clearly defined, precise and permanent criterion of Truth besides God Himself, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, is certainly one of the major contrasts between Orthodoxy and all classical Western ecclesiologies. In the West the gradually developed theory of papal infallibilty was opposed, after the collapse of the conciliar movement, by the Protestant affirmation of sola scriptura. The entire Western ecclesiological problem since the sixteenth century turned around this opposition of two criteria, two references of doctrinal security, while in Orthodoxy no need for, or necessity of, such a security was ever felt for the simple reason that the living Truth is its own criterion." This, of course, is the exact point made by Khomiakov, that in Orthodoxy the criterion of truth is not external or dogmatic, a speaking to the church, but internal and pneumatic, a living Lord within the church.

Positively, we might say that the only ultimate theological criterion to which Orthodoxy appeals is the living presence of God himself, who safeguards the church and promises through his Spirit to lead us and guide us into all truth (John 14:25-26; 16:13). This was the pattern established by the original church in council at Jerusalem, which based its decisions on the charismatic criterion: "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us" (Acts 15:28). Thus the Orthodox appeal to Irenaeus: "Where theChurch is, there is the Spirit of God; and where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church, and every kind of grace; but the Spirit is Truth."

Ironically, while many people accuse Orthodoxy of a dead, static repetition of ancient tradition and liturgical ritual, a historicism of sorts, it eschews such a notion of tradition in favor of the dynamic, living presence of God who continually vivifies the church. As Florovsky notes, "reference to tradition is not historical inquiry. Tradition is not limited to Church archaeology. . . Tradition is the witness of the Spirit . . . the constant abiding of the Spirit and not only the memory of words. tradition is a charismatic, not a historical, principle." Tradition is the life of the Spirit in the church, who alone is the ultimate criterion of truth. This, Thomas Hopko insists, is the unanimous position of the Orthodox church, both ancient and modern: "For each of the authors directly studied on this point, and there are about twenty to whom concrete reference could be made here, the Holy Spirit alone remains the ultimate criterion of truth for Christians even though other eternal institutions in the Church, such as [the tradition of the church, including Holy Scripture;] the Councils; and the Church itself are named as the 'highest' and 'supreme' authorities providing formal authorities in the Church. . . The Church itself taken as a whole cannot and must not remain 'external' to the believer, and indeed not the theologian!"
pages 104-108 [8]

quote from page 26
"Is the issue
catholicity, i.e. was it something confirmed in some creed or by some church

I wonder what he means by the word "catholicity"? Does he mean wholeness, or Universal? He probably means "Universal". Our word for "Universal" is "eucemenical", this is why we call certain councils "eucemenical councils". Also he seems to be one dimensional. He is trying to find "one" source that would define it. Quote # 8 already answered this question.

quote from page 26
"Is the issue creedal,
i.e. was it something confirmed in some creed or by some church council?"

The issue is the Church. One can look at the answer to quote # 7

Quote from page 26
"Is the issue status,
i.e. did a metropolitan patriarch teach it or did he write a creed or confession
that teaches it?"

The issue is the Church. One can look at the answer to question # 7

quote from page 26
"what do we do when one
patriarch condemns another Patriarch?"

I personally would pray and continue to follow my local Bishop. The Holy Spirit guiding the Church will eventually resolve the issue.

quote from page 26
"By what standard do we
judge which Patriarch is right?"

It is the Holy Spirit that guides the Church into all truth. Therefore, the standard is internal to the Church herself.

quote from page 26
"Is the issue
force, i.e. if a patriarch was murdered, does this mean those who murdered him
were right?

He is talking about the Patriarch Cyril Lucaris (1572-1638)

Orthodoxy was never going to become a Reformed Calvinist church. In this case one can bring up the issue of "doctrinal continuity". For more information about Patriarch Cyril Lucaris go here, here, here, here, here, and here.

quote from page 26
"By what objection
standard can we tell if a "tradition" is valid or invalid?"

There is no such thing as true Objectivity. Everyone has a degree of bias. So instead of looking for external standards. Look for internal ones. For it is the "Faith" that matters.....not us.

I would like to quote Tertullian in this regard.
"Some ask, "How did it come to pass that this woman or that man, who were the most faithful, the most prudent, and the most approved in the church, have gone over to the other side?.....however, what if a bishop, a deacon, a widow, a virgin, a teacher, or even a martyr has fallen from the rule? Will heresies on that account appear to posses the truth? Do we prove the faith by the persons, or the persons by the faith?" Tertullian 197 A.D.

What Tertullian said humbles me, not just because it's true. But because he was in need of his own advice some years down the road. But what he said is true. It is the Faith that judges us! We don't judge it. So like wise.....there is no such thing as an outside "objective" standard. Everyone is bias......therefor the standards dwell within the Church.....the standard comes from inside....not outside the Church.

quote from page 26
"By what standard is
someone called a Father?"

The Church guided by the Holy Spirit decides.

quote from page 26
"What if a supposed
"Father" was later condemned as a heretic for false teachings?"

He might have Origen in mind, but unlike Rome, we don't call Origen a church father.

quote from page 26
"Can someone be called a
"father" and then later have that title removed"?

At this time, I can't recall anyone that was called a father only to have that removed, but then again, he may have in mind the Roman Catholic system of how they understand "who is a father".

quote from page 27
"What if a "father"
believed and taught erroneous doctrines and silly superstitions?"

This is subjective, for what maybe "erroneous doctrine and silly superstition" to one Protestant will be sound doctrine and mysterious to another protestant.

"quote from page 27
Are we to accept
everything a "Father" taught as true or do we pick and choose from his writings
what we want at this time?"

We don't have infallible Fathers.
He said he studied Orthodoxy for 5 years. He should know the difference between the "mind of the Church" vs "personal opinion".

quote from page 27
"If the supposed
writings of a "Father" are later found to be spurious, i.e. they were not
written by him or there are statements inserted into the text that he never
wrote, are the doctrines and rituals founded in those writings likewise

It all depends on what you mean by "later found to be spurious". Do you mean by liberal Higher critics? If so then you must include the Bible books you accept for they feel that alot of passages were spurious, so does this mean that the doctrines and writings of the books of the Bible(that you embrace) are spurious? One should read this post of a quote by Mr. Michuta in this regard. "Wise statements by "Gary Michuta""

Ultimately, what Morey said is subjective. The Church says Matthew wrote the book of Mathew, is the book of Mathew spurious? What about the book of Hebrews? This line of cynical thinking will only backfire on Mr. Morey. It is the Church guided by the Holy Spirit that decides what work to use, and this is done whether the author is known or not. We embrace the Didache, but we reject the Gospel of Thomas, we embrace the shepard of hermes, but we reject the Gospel of Barnabas. It takes the charisma of discernment, which is something the Church has.

"We should select and possess what is useful out of all cultures." Clement of Alexandria (195 A.D.)

quote from page 27
"To this day, these
questions go unanswered. I did not find a single Orthodox priest or scholar who
would take the time to answer these questions"

Maybe it's because they knew what Clement of Alexandria knew when he said:

"Their preconcieved ideas inclined them to disbelieve" Clement of Alexandria 195 A.D.

and Saint Justin Martyr

"Sound doctrine does not enter into a hard and disobedient heart" Justin Martyr 160 A.D.

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Christian! (chapter 1)


[1],[2],[4],[5],[7],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21],[22] from the book "Is Eastern Orthodoxy Christian" by Robert A. Morey, Copyright 2007, published by christian scholars press

[3] pages 171-172, from the book "Introducing the Orthodox Church" by Anthony M. Coniaris, foreward by Stanley S. Harakas. Light and Life Publishing 1982

[6] 110-113, [8] pages 104-108, from the book "Eastern Orthodox Christianity: A western perspective" by Daniel B. Clendenin. Baker Academic 1994, 2003

[9] page 649, from the book "A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs: A Reference Guide to more than 700 topics discussed by the early church fathers" Edited by David W. Bercot, Hendrickson Publishers 1998





Christian Gifts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...