Thursday, November 18, 2010
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Address to the Greeks
Chapter VII.—Concerning the Fall of Man.
For the heavenly Logos, a spirit emanating from the Father and a Logos from the Logos-power, in imitation of the Father who begat Him made man an image of immortality, so that, as incorruption is with God, in like manner, man, sharing in a part of God, might have the immortal principle also. The Logos, too, before the creation of men, was the Framer of angels. And each of these two orders of creatures was made free to act as it pleased, not having the nature of good, which again is with God alone, but is brought to perfection in men through their freedom of choice, in order that the bad man may be justly punished, having become depraved through his own fault, but the just man be deservedly praised for his virtuous deeds, since in the exercise of his free choice he refrained from transgressing the will of God. Such is the constitution of things in reference to angels and men. And the power of the Logos, having in itself a faculty to foresee future events, not as fated, but as taking place by the choice of free agents, foretold from time to time the issues of things to come; it also became a forbidder of wickedness by means of prohibitions, and the encomiast of those who remained good. And, when men attached themselves to one who was more subtle than the rest, having regard to his being the first-born, and declared him to be God, though he was resisting the law of God, then the power of the Logos excluded the beginner of the folly and his adherents from all fellowship with Himself. And so he who was made in the likeness of God, since the more powerful spirit is separated from him, becomes mortal; but that first-begotten one through his transgression and ignorance becomes a demon; and they who imitated him, that is his illusions, are become a host of demons, and through their freedom of choice have been given up to their own infatuation.
Clement of Alexandria
The Stromata, or Miscellanies: Book II
Chapter VIII.—The Vagaries of Basilides and Valentinus as to Fear Being the Cause of Things.
But there being but one First Cause, as will be shown afterwards, these men will be shown to be inventors of chatterings and chirpings. But since God deemed it advantageous, that from the law and the prophets, men should receive a preparatory discipline by the Lord, the fear of the Lord was called the beginning of wisdom, being given by the Lord, through Moses, to the disobedient and hard of heart. For those whom reason convinces not, fear tames; which also the Instructing Word, foreseeing from the first, and purifying by each of these methods, adapted the instrument suitably for piety.
Clement of Alexandria
The Stromata, or Miscellanies: Book VII
Chapter XII.—The True Gnostic is Beneficent, Continent, and Despises Worldly Things.
But if one say to us, that some sinners even obtain according to their requests, [we should say] that this rarely takes place, by reason of the righteous goodness of God. And it is granted to those who are capable of doing others good. Whence the gift is not made for the sake of him that asked it; but the divine dispensation, foreseeing that one would be saved by his means, renders the boon again righteous. And to those who are worthy, things which are really good are given, even without their asking.
Whenever, then, one is righteous, not from necessity or out of fear or hope, but from free choice, this is called the royal road, which the royal race travel. But the byways are slippery and precipitous. If, then, one take away fear and honour, I do not know if the illustrious among the philosophers, who use such freedom of speech, will any longer endure afflictions.
Fragments from the Lost Writings of Irenaeus
The will and the energy of God is the effective and foreseeing cause of every time and place and age, and of every nature. The will is the reason (λόγος) of the intellectual soul, which [reason] is within us, inasmuch as it is the faculty belonging to it which is endowed with freedom of action. The will is the mind desiring [some object], and an appetite possessed of intelligence, yearning after that thing which is desired.
Dialogue with Trypho, a Jew
Chapter XVI.—Circumcision given as a sign, that the Jews might be driven away for their evil deeds done to Christ and the Christians.
For the circumcision according to the flesh, which is from Abraham, was given for a sign; that you may be separated from other nations, and from us; and that you alone may suffer that which you now justly suffer; and that your land may be desolate, and your cities burned with fire; and that strangers may eat your fruit in your presence, and not one of you may go up to Jerusalem. For you are not recognised among the rest of men by any other mark than your fleshly circumcision. For none of you, I suppose, will venture to say that God neither did nor does foresee the events, which are future, nor foreordained his deserts for each one. Accordingly, these things have happened to you in fairness and justice, for you have slain the Just One, and His prophets before Him; and now you reject those who hope in Him, and in Him who sent Him —God the Almighty and Maker of all things— cursing in your synagogues those that believe on Christ.
Against Heresies: Book III
Chapter XVI.—Proofs from the apostolic writings, that Jesus Christ was one and the same, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man.
Matthew might certainly have said, “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise;” but the Holy Ghost, foreseeing the corrupters [of the truth], and guarding by anticipation against their deceit, says by Matthew, “But the birth of Christ was on this wise;” and that He is Emmanuel, lest perchance we might consider Him as a mere man: for “not by the will of the flesh nor by the will of man, but by the will of God was the Word made flesh;” and that we should not imagine that Jesus was one, and Christ another, but should know them to be one and the same.
Against Heresies: Book III
Chapter XX.—God showed himself, by the fall of man, as patient, benign, merciful, mighty to save. Man is therefore most ungrateful, if, unmindful of his own lot, and of the benefits held out to him, he do not acknowledge divine grace.
Long-suffering therefore was God, when man became a defaulter, as foreseeing that victory which should be granted to him through the Word.
The Epistle of Barnabas
Chapter VI.—The sufferings of Christ, and the new covenant, were announced by the prophets.
Behold, therefore, we have been refashioned, as again He says in another prophet, “Behold, saith the Lord, I will take away from these, that is, from those whom the Spirit of the Lord foresaw, their stony hearts, and I will put hearts of flesh within them,” because He was to be manifested in flesh, and to sojourn among us. For, my brethren, the habitation of our heart is a holy temple to the Lord.
Clement of Alexandria
The Stromata: Book II
Chapter XIII.—On First and Second Repentance.
He, then, who has received the forgiveness of sins ought to sin no more. For, in addition to the first and only repentance from sins (this is from the previous sins in the first and heathen life—I mean that in ignorance), there is forthwith proposed to those who have been called, the repentance which cleanses the seat of the soul from transgressions, that faith may be established. And the Lord, knowing the heart, and foreknowing the future, foresaw both the fickleness of man and the craft and subtlety of the devil from the first, from the beginning; how that, envying man for the forgiveness of sins, he would present to the servants of God certain causes of sins; skilfully working mischief, that they might fall together with himself.
Clement of Alexandria
Who is the Rich man that shall be saved?
He was asked respecting those things on account of which He descended, which He inculcates, which He teaches, which He offers, in order to show the essence of the Gospel, that it is the gift of eternal life. For He foresaw as God, both what He would be asked, and what each one would answer Him. For who should do this more than the Prophet of prophets, and the Lord of every prophetic spirit?
The Five Books Against Marcion: Book II
Chapter VI.—This Liberty Vindicated in Respect of Its Original Creation; Suitable Also for Exhibiting the Goodness and the Purpose of God. Reward and Punishment Impossible If Man Were Good or Evil Through Necessity and Not Choice.
In order, therefore, that man might have a goodness of his own, bestowed, on him by God, and there might be henceforth in man a property, and in a certain sense a natural attribute of goodness, there was assigned to him in the constitution of his nature, as a formal witness of the goodness which God bestowed upon him, freedom and power of the will, such as should cause good to be performed spontaneously by man, as a property of his own, on the ground that no less than this would be required in the matter of a goodness which was to be voluntarily exercised by him, that is to say, by the liberty of his will, without either favour or servility to the constitution of his nature, so that man should be good just up to this point, if he should display his goodness in accordance with his natural constitution indeed, but still as the result of his will, as a property of his nature; and, by a similar exercise of volition, should show himself to be too strong in defence against evil also (for even this God, of course, foresaw), being free, and master of himself; because, if he were wanting in this prerogative of self-mastery, so as to perform even good by necessity and not will, he would, in the helplessness of his servitude, become subject to the usurpation of evil, a slave as much to evil as to good. Entire freedom of will, therefore, was conferred upon him in both tendencies; so that, as master of himself, he might constantly encounter good by spontaneous observance of it, and evil by its spontaneous avoidance; because, were man even otherwise circumstanced, it was yet his bounden duty, in the judgment of God, to do justice according to the motions of his will regarded, of course, as free. But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of man’s will for either issue.
The Five Books Against Marcion: Book III
Chapter V.—Sundry Features of the Prophetic Style: Principles of Its Interpretation.
Now there are two conditions of prophetic announcement which I adduce, as requiring the assent of our adversaries in the future stages of the discussion. One, that future events are sometimes announced as if they were already passed. For it is consistent with Deity to regard as accomplished facts whatever It has determined on, because there is no difference of time with that Being in whom eternity itself directs a uniform condition of seasons. It is indeed more natural to the prophetic divination to represent as seen and already brought to pass, even while forseeing it, that which it foresees; in other words, that which is by all means future.
Chapter VII.—Of Repentance, in the Case of Such as Have Lapsed After Baptism.
These poisons of his, therefore, God foreseeing, although the gate of forgiveness has been shut and fastened up with the bar of baptism, has permitted it still to stand somewhat open.
Chapter XV.—Concerning Festivals in Honour of Emperors, Victories, and the Like. Examples of the Three Children and Daniel.
These things, therefore, the Holy Spirit foreseeing from the beginning, fore-chanted, through the most ancient prophet Enoch, that even entrances would come into superstitious use.
An Answer to the Jews
Chapter III.—Of Circumcision and the Supercession of the Old Law.
For God, foreseeing that He was about to give this circumcision to the people of Israel for “a sign,” not for salvation, urges the circumcision of the son of Moses, their future leader, for this reason; that, since He had begun, through him, to give the People the precept of circumcision, the people should not despise it, from seeing this example (of neglect) already exhibited conspicuously in their leader’s son.
The Octavius of Minucius Felix
Chapter XXXVI.—Argument: Fate is Nothing, Except So Far as Fate is God. Man’s Mind is Free, and Therefore So is His Action: His Birth is Not Brought into Judgment. It is Not a Matter of Infamy, But of Glory, that Christians are Reproached for Their Poverty; And the Fact that They Suffer Bodily Evils is Not as a Penalty, But as a Discipline.
Neither let any one either take comfort from, or apologize for what happens from fate. Let what happens be of the disposition of fortune, yet the mind is free; and therefore man’s doing, not his dignity, is judged. For what else is fate than what God has spoken of each one of us? who, since He can foresee our constitution, determines also the fates for us, according to the deserts and the qualities of individuals. Thus in our case it is not the star under which we are born that is punished, but the particular nature of our disposition is blamed. And about fate enough is said; or if, in consideration of the time, we have spoken too little, we shall argue the matter at another time more abundantly and more fully. But that many of us are called poor, this is not our disgrace, but our glory; for as our mind is relaxed by luxury, so it is strengthened by frugality. And yet who can be poor if he does not want, if he does not crave for the possessions of others, if he is rich towards God? He rather is poor, who, although he has much, desires more.
Origen Against Celsus: Book II
The Saviour, foreseeing the sufferings which the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem were to undergo in requital of the wicked deeds which the Jews had dared to perpetrate upon Him, from no other motive than that of the purest philanthropy towards them, and from a desire that they might escape the impending calamities, gave utterance to the prayer, “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.”
Origen Against Celsus: Book VI
For God, comprehending all things by means of His foreknowledge, and foreseeing what consequences would result from both of these, wished to make these known to mankind by His prophets, that those who understand their words might be familiarized with the good, and be on their guard against its opposite.
Of First Principles: Book III
Chapter I.—On the Freedom of the Will, With an Explanation and Interpretation of Those Statements of Scripture Which Appear to Nullify It.
In the same way, God also, who knows the secret things of the heart, and foresees future events, in His long-suffering, permits (certain events to occur), and by means of those things which happen from without extracts the secret evil, in order to cleanse him who through carelessness has received the seeds of sin, that having vomited them forth when they came to the surface, although he may have been deeply involved in evils, he may afterwards obtain healing after his wickedness, and be renewed.
Of First Principles: Book III
Chapter I.—On the Freedom of the Will.
Now were it not for the words that are added, “Lest perhaps they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them,” we might be more inclined to return the answer, that the Saviour was unwilling that those individuals whom He foresaw would not become good, should understand the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and that therefore He spoke to them in parables; but as that addition follows, “Lest perhaps they should be converted, and their sins be forgiven them,” the explanation is rendered more difficult.
Origen Against Celsus: Book II
After this the Jew makes another silly remark, saying, “How is it that, if Jesus pointed out beforehand both the traitor and the perjurer, they did not fear him as a God, and cease, the one from his intended treason, and the other from his perjury ?” Here the learned Celsus did not see the contradiction in his statement: for if Jesus foreknew events as a God, then it was impossible for His foreknowledge to prove untrue; and therefore it was impossible for him who was known to Him as going to betray Him not to execute his purpose, nor for him who was rebuked as going to deny Him not to have been guilty of that crime. For if it had been possible for the one to abstain from the act of betrayal, and the other from that of denial, as having been warned of the consequences of these actions beforehand, then His words were no longer true, who predicted that the one would betray Him and the other deny Him. For if He had foreknowledge of the traitor, He knew the wickedness in which the treason originated, and this wickedness was by no means taken away by the foreknowledge. And, again, if He had ascertained that one would deny Him, He made that prediction from seeing the weakness out of which that act of denial would arise, and yet this weakness was not to be taken away thus at once.
Let us see how he continues after this: “These events,” he says, “he predicted as being a God, and the prediction must by all means come to pass. God, therefore, who above all others ought to do good to men, and especially to those of his own household, led on his own disciples and prophets, with whom he was in the habit of eating and drinking, to such a degree of wickedness, that they became impious and unholy men. Now, of a truth, he who shared a man’s table would not be guilty of conspiring against him; but after banqueting with God, he became a conspirator. And, what is still more absurd, God himself plotted against the members of his own table, by converting them into traitors and villains !” Now, since you wish me to answer even those charges of Celsus which seem to me frivolous, the following is our reply to such statements. Celsus imagines that an event, predicted through foreknowledge, comes to pass because it was predicted; but we do not grant this, maintaining that he who foretold it was not the cause of its happening, because he foretold it would happen; but the future event itself, which would have taken place though not predicted, afforded the occasion to him, who was endowed with foreknowledge, of foretelling its occurrence. Now, certainly this result is present to the foreknowledge of him who predicts an event, when it is possible that it may or may not happen, viz., that one or other of these things will take place. For we do not assert that he who foreknows an event, by secretly taking away the possibility of its happening or not, makes any such declaration as this: “This shall infallibly happen, and it is impossible that it can be otherwise.” And this remark applies to all the foreknowledge of events dependent upon ourselves, whether contained in the sacred Scriptures or in the histories of the Greeks. Now, what is called by logicians an “idle argument,” which is a sophism, will be no sophism as far as Celsus can help, but according to sound reasoning it is a sophism. And that this may be seen, I shall take from the Scriptures the predictions regarding Judas, or the foreknowledge of our Saviour regarding him as the traitor; and from the Greek histories the oracle that was given to Laius, conceding for the present its truth, since it does not affect the argument. Now, in Ps. cviii., Judas is spoken of by the mouth of the Saviour, in words beginning thus: “Hold not Thy peace, O God of my praise; for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me.” Now, if you carefully observe the contents of the psalm, you will find that, as it was foreknown that he would betray the Saviour, so also was he considered to be himself the cause of the betrayal, and deserving, on account of his wickedness, of the imprecations contained in the prophecy. For let him suffer these things, “because,” says the psalmist, “he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man.” Wherefore it was possible for him to show mercy, and not to persecute him whom he did persecute. But although he might have done these things, he did not do them, but carried out the act of treason, so as to merit the curses pronounced against him in the prophecy.
And in answer to the Greeks we shall quote the following oracular response to Laius, as recorded by the tragic poet, either in the exact words of the oracle or in equivalent terms. Future events are thus made known to him by the oracle: “Do not try to beget children against the will of the gods. For if you beget a son, your son shall murder you; and all your household shall wade in blood.” Now from this it is clear that it was within the power of Laius not to try to beget children, for the oracle would not have commanded an impossibility; and it was also in his power to do the opposite, so that neither of these courses was compulsory. And the consequence of his not guarding against the begetting of children was, that he suffered from so doing the calamities described in the tragedies relating to Œdipus and Jocasta and their sons. Now that which is called the “idle argument,” being a quibble, is such as might be applied, say in the case of a sick man, with the view of sophistically preventing him from employing a physician to promote his recovery; and it is something like this: “If it is decreed that you should recover from your disease, you will recover whether you call in a physician or not; but if it is decreed that you should not recover, you will not recover whether you call in a physician or no. But it is certainly decreed either that you should recover, or that you should not recover; and therefore it is in vain that you call in a physician.” Now with this argument the following may be wittily compared: “If it is decreed that you should beget children, you will beget them, whether you have intercourse with a woman or not. But if it is decreed that you should not beget children, you will not do so, whether you have intercourse with a woman or no. Now, certainly, it is decreed either that you should beget children or not; therefore it is in vain that you have intercourse with a woman.” For, as in the latter instance, intercourse with a woman is not employed in vain, seeing it is an utter impossibility for him who does not use it to beget children; so, in the former, if recovery from disease is to be accomplished by means of the healing art, of necessity the physician is summoned, and it is therefore false to say that “in vain do you call in a physician.” We have brought forward all these illustrations on account of the assertion of this learned Celsus, that “being a God He predicted these things, and the predictions must by all means come to pass.” Now, if by “by all means” he means “necessarily,” we cannot admit this. For it was quite possible, also, that they might not come to pass. But if he uses “by all means” in the sense of “simple futurity,” which nothing hinders from being true (although it was possible that they might not happen), he does not at all touch my argument; nor did it follow, from Jesus having predicted the acts of the traitor or the perjurer, that it was the same thing with His being the cause of such impious and unholy proceedings. For He who was amongst us, and knew what was in man, seeing his evil disposition, and foreseeing what he would attempt from his spirit of covetousness, and from his want of stable ideas of duty towards his Master, along with many other declarations, gave utterance to this also: “He that dippeth his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray Me.”
Origen Against Celsus: Book VII
Celsus supposes that we may arrive at a knowledge of God either by combining or separating certain things after the methods which mathematicians call synthesis and analysis, or again by analogy, which is employed by them also, and that in this way we may as it were gain admission to the chief good. But when the Word of God says, “No man knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him,” He declares that no one can know God but by the help of divine grace coming from above, with a certain divine inspiration. Indeed, it is reasonable to suppose that the knowledge of God is beyond the reach of human nature, and hence the many errors into which men have fallen in their views of God. It is, then, through the goodness and love of God to mankind, and by a marvellous exercise of divine grace to those whom He saw in His foreknowledge, and knew that they would walk worthy of Him who had made Himself known to them, and that they would never swerve from a faithful attachment to His service, although they were condemned to death or held up to ridicule by those who, in ignorance of what true religion is, give that name to what deserves to be called anything rather than religion. God doubtless saw the pride and arrogance of those who, with contempt for all others, boast of their knowledge of God, and of their profound acquaintance with divine things obtained from philosophy, but who still, not less even than the most ignorant, run after their images, and temples, and famous mysteries; and seeing this, He “has chosen the foolish things of this world ” —the simplest of Christians, who lead, however, a life of greater moderation and purity than many philosophers— “to confound the wise,” who are not ashamed to address inanimate things as gods or images of the gods. For what reasonable man can refrain from smiling when he sees that one who has learned from philosophy such profound and noble sentiments about God or the gods, turns straightway to images and offers to them his prayers, or imagines that by gazing upon these material things he can ascend from the visible symbol to that which is spiritual and immaterial. But a Christian, even of the common people, is assured that every place forms part of the universe, and that the whole universe is God’s temple. In whatever part of the world he is, he prays; but he rises above the universe, “shutting the eyes of sense, and raising upwards the eyes of the soul.” And he stops not at the vault of heaven; but passing in thought beyond the heavens, under the guidance of the Spirit of God, and having thus as it were gone beyond the visible universe, he offers prayers to God.
The Treatises of Cyprian
Treatise VII.—On the Mortality.
In the first place, martyrdom is not in your power, but in the condescension of God; neither can you say that you have lost what you do not know whether you would deserve to receive. Then, besides, God the searcher of the reins and heart, and the investigator and knower of secret things, sees you, and praises and approves you; and He who sees that your virtue was ready in you, will give you a reward for your virtue. Had Cain, when he offered his gift to God, already slain his brother? And yet God, foreseeing the fratricide conceived in his mind, anticipated its condemnation. As in that case the evil thought and mischievous intention were foreseen by a foreseeing God, so also in God’s servants, among whom confession is purposed and martyrdom conceived in the mind, the intention dedicated to good is crowned by God the judge. It is one thing for the spirit to be wanting for martyrdom, and another for martyrdom to have been wanting for the spirit. Such as the Lord finds you when He calls you, such also He judges you; since He Himself bears witness, and says, “And all the churches shall know that I am the searcher of the reins and heart.” For God does not ask for our blood, but for our faith.
Besides, that the indications of the divine providence may be more evidently manifest, proving that the Lord, prescient of the future, takes counsel for the true salvation of His people, when one of our colleagues and fellow-priests, wearied out with infirmity, and anxious about the present approach of death, prayed for a respite to himself; there stood by him as he prayed, and when he was now at the point of death, a youth, venerable in honour and majesty, lofty in stature and shining in aspect, and on whom, as he stood by him, the human glance could scarcely look with fleshly eyes, except that he who was about to depart from the world could already behold such a one.
Basil the Great
Homily III.—On The Firmament.
Therefore the prodigious mass of waters was spread around the earth; not in proportion with it and infinitely larger, thanks to the foresight of the supreme Artificer, Who, from the beginning, foresaw what was to come, and at the first provided all for the future needs of the world.
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