Saturday, October 30, 2010

Martin Luther on Faith Alone and Eternal Security




Out of love for the truth and the endeavor to establish it...

+ In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. +


1. Since our Master and Lord Jesus Christ said: Repent, etc. wishes He that the whole life of His faithful followers on earth be one of constant and unceasing repentance.

3. However, He did not mean for it to refer only to the inner repentance: yea, the inner repentance is null, and no repentance at all, where it does not outwardly work all sorts of deadenings of the flesh.

4. Keeping this same sorrow and regret, that is, true repentance, as long as one dislikes himself, namely, until the passage from this life into the everlasting one.

94. Christians should be urged to strive and follow their Head, Christ, through Cross, death, and Hell.

95. And all the more through much effort in Heaven to arrive, than through the comfort and consolation of peace to become more assured.






Priest: That we may carry out the rest of our lives in peace and repentance, let us ask of the Lord.

Faithful: Grant us this, oh Lord.

Priest: Let us offer up ourselves, each other, and our entire lives, unto Christ our God.

Faithful: Unto Thee, oh Lord.

Friday, October 29, 2010

How The Doctrine Of Predestination Does Away With Works-Righteous Ascetic Labor


It... doesn't.


If you don't believe me, take a long hard look at the only Church Father whose views on Grace are homoousios with those of Calvin: Saint Augustine of Hippo spent his whole life in the most severe asceticism: Although he did believe in Grace Alone, or Sola Gratia, he did not believe in Faith Alone, or Sola Fide. (Nor did he believe in Sola Scriptura, for that matter). For him, the Grace of Election was not merely the forgiveness of past sins, but also the divine power bestowed upon the elect to live out a life of holiness, which included good deeds and works of righteousness: No Lutheran "cover of snow"; no Reformed-Calvinist divine 'glasses' of imputed righteousness.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Early Church Fathers On Foreknowledge


From Scripture:

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

1 Peter 1:2 Who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.



What was the interpretation passed on to the next generation of Christians?
And what did that group pass on?



To this end, therefore, brethren, He is long-suffering, foreseeing how the people whom He has prepared shall with guilelessness believe in His Beloved. For He revealed all these things to us beforehand, that we should not rush forward as rash acceptors of their laws.
Saint Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter III.


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.
Saint Barnabas, Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter VI.


We, -who were but lately created by the only best and good Being, by Him also who has the gift of immortality, having been formed after His likeness (predestinated, according to the prescience of the Father, that we, who had as yet no existence, might come into being), and made the first-fruits of creation-, have received, in the times known beforehand, [the blessings of salvation] according to the ministration of the Word, who is perfect in all things, as the mighty Word, and very man, who, redeeming us by His own blood in a manner consonant to reason, gave Himself as a redemption for those who had been led into captivity.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies,
Book V, Chapter I.


"And in short, sirs," said I, "by enumerating all the other appointments of Moses I can demonstrate that they were types, and symbols, and declarations of those things which would happen to Christ, of those who it was foreknown were to believe in Him, and of those things which would also be done by Christ Himself. But since what I have now enumerated appears to me to be sufficient, I revert again to the order of the discourse."
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XLII.


And this prophecy proves that we shall behold this very King with glory; and the very terms of the prophecy declare loudly, that the people foreknown to believe in Him were fore-known to pursue diligently the fear of the Lord. Moreover, these Scriptures are equally explicit in saying, that those who are reputed to know the writings of the Scriptures, and who hear the prophecies, have no understanding.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter LXX.


And we have not in vain believed in Him, and have not been led astray by those who taught us such doctrines; but this has come to pass through the wonderful foreknowledge of God, in order that we, through the calling of the new and eternal covenant, that is, of Christ, might be found more intelligent and God-fearing than yourselves, who are considered to be lovers of God and men of understanding, but are not.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXVIII.


Furthermore, I have proved in what has preceded, that those who were foreknown to be unrighteous, whether men or angels, are not made wicked by God's fault, but each man by his own fault is what he will appear to be.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXL.


But if the word of God foretells that some angels and men shall be certainly punished, it did so because it foreknew that they would be unchangeably [wicked], but not because God had created them so. So that if they repent, all who wish for it can obtain mercy from God: and the Scripture foretells that they shall be blessed, saying, "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord imputeth not sin "; that is, having repented of his sins, that he may receive remission of them from God; and not as you deceive yourselves, and some others who resemble you in this, who say, that even though they be sinners, but know God, the Lord will not impute sin to them. We have as proof of this the one fall of David, which happened through his boasting, which was forgiven then when he so mourned and wept, as it is written.
Saint Justin, the Martyr and Philosopher,
Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter CXLI.


And He is without beginning, because He is unbegotten; and He is unchangeable, because He is immortal. And he is called God [qeon] on account of His having placed [teqeikenai] all things on security afforded by Himself; and on account of qeein, for qeein means running, and moving, and being active, and nourishing, and foreseeing, and governing, and making all things alive.
Saint Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus,
Book I, Chapter IV.


For the divine wisdom foreknew that some would trifle and name a multitude of gods that do not exist. In order, therefore, that the living God might be known by His works, and that [it might be known that] by His Word God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, he said, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Saint Theophilus of Antioch, To Autolycus,
Book II, Chapter X.


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.
Tatian, Address to the Greeks, Chapter VII.


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?


Now then, ye dogs, whom the apostle puts outside, and who yelp at the God of truth, let us come to your various questions. These are the bones of contention, which you are perpetually gnawing! If God is good, and prescient of the future, and able to avert evil, why did He permit man, the very image and likeness of Himself, and, by the origin of his soul, His own substance too, to be deceived by the devil, and fall from obedience of the law into death? For if He had been good, and so unwilling that such a catastrophe should happen, and prescient, so as not to be ignorant of what was to come to pass, and powerful enough to hinder its occurrence, that issue would never have come about, which should be impossible under these three conditions of the divine greatness. Since, however, it has occurred, the contrary proposition is most certainly true, that God must be deemed neither good, nor prescient, nor powerful. For as no such issue could have happened had God been such as He is reputed-good, and prescient, and mighty-so has this issue actually happened, because He is not such a God. In reply, we must first vindicate those attributes in the Creator which are called in question-namely, His goodness and foreknowledge, and power. But I shall not linger long over this point for Christ's own definition comes to our aid at once. From works must proofs be obtained. The Creator's works testify at once to His goodness, since they are good, as we have shown, and to His power, since they are mighty, and spring indeed out of nothing. And even if they were made out of some (previous) matter, as some will have it, they are even thus out of nothing, because they were not what they are. In short, both they are great because they are good; and God is likewise mighty, because all things are His own, whence He is almighty. But what shall I say of His prescience, which has for its witnesses as many prophets as it inspired? After all, what title to prescience do we look for in the Author of the universe, since it was by this very attribute that He foreknew all things when He appointed them their places, and appointed them their places when He fore knew them? There is sin itself. If He had not foreknown this, He would not have proclaimed a caution against it under the penalty of death. Now if there were in God such attributes as must have rendered it both impossible and improper for any evil to have happened to man, and yet evil did occur, let us consider man's condition also-whether it were not, in fact, rather the cause why that came to pass which could not have happened through God. I find, then, that man was by God constituted free, master of his own will and power; indicating the presence of God's image and likeness in him by nothing so well as by this constitution of his nature. For it was not by his face, and by the lineaments of his body, though they were so varied in his human nature, that he expressed his likeness to the form of God; but he showed his stamp in that essence which he derived from God Himself (that is, the spiritual, which answered to the form of God), and in the freedom and power of his will. This his state was confirmed even by the very law which God then imposed upon him. For a law would not be imposed upon one who had it not in his power to render that obedience which is due to law; nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will. So in the Creator's subsequent laws also you will find, when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God's calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.
Tertullian, Against Marcion,
Book II, Chapter V.


He foresaw that Paul would arise out of the tribe of Benjamin, a voracious wolf, devouring his prey in the morning: in order words, in the early period of his life he would devastate the Lord's sheep, as a persecutor of the churches; but in the evening he would give them nourishment, which means that in his declining years he would educate the fold of Christ, as the teacher of the Gentiles.
Tertullian, Against Marcion,
Book V, Chapter I.


For who will grant to you, a man of so faithless repentance, one single sprinkling of any water whatever? To approach it by stealth, indeed, and to get the minister appointed over this business misled by your asseverations, is easy; but God takes foresight for His own treasure, and suffers not the unworthy to steal a march upon it. What, in fact, does He say? "Nothing hid which shall not be revealed." Draw whatever (veil of) darkness you please over your deeds, "God is light." But some think as if God were under a necessity of bestowing even on the unworthy, what He has engaged (to give); and they turn His liberality into slavery. But if it is of necessity that God grants us the symbol of death, then He does so unwilling. But who permits a gift to be permanently retained which he has granted unwillingly? For do not many afterward fall out of (grace)? is not this gift taken away from many? These, no doubt, are they who do steal a march upon (the treasure), who, after approaching to the faith of repentance, set up on the sands a house doomed to ruin. Let no one, then, flatter himself on the ground of being assigned to the "recruit-classes" of learners, as if on that account he have a licence even now to sin. As soon as you know the Lord, you should fear Him; as soon as you have gazed on Him, you should reverence Him. But what difference does your "knowing" Him make, while you rest in the same practises as in days bygone, when you knew Him not?
Tertullian, On Repentance, Chapter VI.


7. For though He is called Good, and Just, and Almighty and Sabaoth, He is not on that account diverse and various; but being one and the same, He sends forth countless operations of His Godhead, not exceeding here and deficient there, but being in all things like unto Himself. Not great in loving-kindness only, and little in wisdom, but with wisdom and loving-kindness in equal power: not seeing in part, and in part devoid of sight; but being all eye, and all ear, and all mind: not like us perceiving in part and in part not knowing; for such a statement were blasphemous, and unworthy of the Divine substance. He foreknoweth the things that be; He is Holy, and Almighty, and excelleth all in goodness, and majesty, and wisdom: of Whom we can declare neither beginning, nor form, nor shape. For ye have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape, saith Holy Scripture. Wherefore Moses saith also to the Israelites: And take ye good heed to your own souls, for ye saw no similitude. For if it is wholly impossible to imagine His likeness, how shall thought come near His substance?

8. There have been many imaginations by many persons, and all have failed. Some have thought that God is fire; others that He is, as it were, a man with wings, because of a true text ill understood, Thou shalt hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. They forgot that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten, speaks in like manner concerning Himself to Jerusalem, How often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen doth gather her chickens under her wings, and ye would not. For whereas God's protecting power was conceived as wings, they failing to understand this sank down to the level of things human, and supposed that the Unsearchable exists in the likeness of man. Some again dared to say that He has seven eyes, because it is written, seven eyes of the Lord looking upon the whole earth. For if He has but seven eyes surrounding Him in part, His seeing is therefore partial and not perfect: but to say this of God is blasphemous; for we must believe that God is in all things perfect, according to our Saviour's word, which saith, Your Father in heaven is perfect: perfect in sight, perfect in power, perfect in greatness, perfect in foreknowledge, perfect in goodness, perfect in justice, perfect in loving-kindness: not circumscribed in any space, but the Creator of all space, existing in all, and circumscribed by none. Heaven is His throne, but higher is He that sitteth thereon: and earth is His footstool, but His power reacheth unto things under the earth.

9. One He is, everywhere present, beholding all things, perceiving all things, creating all things through Christ: For all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, Lecture VI.


Man was first made "in the image of God ": and this conception excludes the idea of distinction of sex. In the first creation of man all humanity is included, according to the Divine foreknowledge: "our whole nature extending from the first to the last " is "one image of Him Who is." But for the Fall, the increase of the human race would have taken place as the increase of the angelic race takes place, in some way unknown to us. The declension of man from his first estate made succession by generation necessary: and it was because this declension and its consequences were present to the Divine mind that God "created them male and female." In this respect, and in respect of the need of nourishment by food, man is not "in the image of God," but shows his kindred with the lower creation. But these necessities are not permanent: they will end with the restoration of man to his former excellence
Gregory of Nyssa, Note on the Treatise
On the Making of Man.


God did not, on account of His foreknowledge of the evil that would result from man's creation, leave man uncreated; for it was better to bring back sinners to original grace by the way of repentance and physical suffering than not to create man at all. The raising up of the fallen was a work befitting the Giver of life, Who is the wisdom and power of God; and for this purpose He became man.
Gregory of Nyssa, The Great Catechism,
Summary of Chapters VII and VIII.


Do you not see that your dilemma has landed you in a deep abyss of blasphemy? Whichever way you take it, God is either weak or malevolent, and He is not so much praised because He is the author of good and gives His help, as abused for not restraining evil. Blame Him, then, because He allows the existence of the devil, and has suffered, and still suffers, evil to be done in the world. This is what Marcion asks, and the whole pack of heretics who mutilate the Old Testament, and have mostly spun an argument something like this: Either God knew that man, placed in Paradise, would transgress His command, or He did not know. If He knew, man is not to blame, who could not avoid God's foreknowledge, but He Who created him such that he could not escape the knowledge of God. If He did not know, in stripping Him of foreknowledge you also take away His divinity. Upon the same showing God will be deserving of blame for choosing Saul, who was to prove one of the worst of kings. And the Saviour must be convicted either of ignorance, or of unrighteousness, inasmuch as He said in the Gospel, "Did I not choose you the twelve, and one of you is a devil ?" Ask Him why He chose Judas, a traitor? Why He entrusted to him the bag when He knew that he was a thief? Shall I tell you the reason? God judges the present, not the future. He does not make use of His foreknowledge to condemn a man though He knows that he will hereafter displease Him; but such is His goodness and unspeakable mercy that He chooses a man who, He perceives, will meanwhile be good, and who, He knows, will turn out badly, thus giving him the opportunity of being converted and of repenting. This is the Apostle's meaning when he says, "Dost thou not know that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, Who will render to every man according to his works." For Adam did not sin because God knew that he would do so; but God inasmuch as He is God, foreknew what Adam would do of his own free choice. You may as well accuse God of falsehood because He said by the mouth of Jonah: "Yet three days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown." But God will reply by the mouth of Jeremiah, "At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to break down, and to destroy it; if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; if it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them." Jonah, on a certain occasion, was indignant because, at God's command, he had spoken falsely; but his sorrow was proved to be ill founded, since he would rather speak truth and have a countless multitude perish, than speak falsely and have them saved. His position was thus illustrated: "Thou grievest over the ivy (or gourd), for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow, which came up in a night, and perished in a night; and should not I have pity on Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than six score thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand ?" If there was so vast a number of children and simple folk, whom you will never be able to prove sinners, what shall we say of those inhabitants of both sexes who were at different periods of life? According to Philo, and the wisest of philosophers, Plato (so the Timaeus tells us), in passing from infancy to decrepit old age, we go through seven stages, which so gradually and so gently follow one another that we are quite insensible of the change.
Jerome, Against the Pelagians, Book III.


Heliodorus the Presbyter wrote a book entitled An introductory treatise on the nature of things, in which he showed that the beginning of things was one, that nothing was coaeval with God, that God was not the creator of evil, but in such wise the creator of all good, that matter, which is used for evil, was created by God after evil was discovered, and that nothing material whatever can be regarded as established in any other way than by God, and that there was no other creator than God, who, when by His foreknowledge He knew that nature was to be changed, warned of punishment.
Gennadius, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter VI.


II. The Divine Foreknowledge Does Not Account for the Jews'wickedness So as to Excuse Them.

Since then all things which Jewish ungodliness committed against the Lord of Majesty were foretold so long before, and the language of the prophets is concerned not so much with things to come as with things last, what else is thereby revealed to us but the unchangeable order of God's eternal decrees, with Whom the things which are to be decided are already determined, and what will be is already accomplished? For since both the character of our actions and the fulfilment of all our wishes are fore-known to God,. how much better known to Him are His own works? And He was rightly pleased that things should be recorded as if done which nothing could hinder from being done. And hence when the Apostles also, being full of the Holy Ghost, suffered the threats and cruelty of Christ's enemies, they said to God with one consent, "For truly in this city against Thy holy Servant Jesus, Whom Thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel were gathered together to do what Thy hand and Thy counsel ordained to come to pass." Did then the wickedness of Christ's persecutors spring from God's plan, and was that unsurpassable crime prefaced and set in motion by the hand of God? Clearly we must not think this of the highest Justice: that which was fore-known in respect of the Jews' malice is far different, indeed quite contrary to what was ordained in respect of Christ's Passion. Their desire to slay Him did not proceed from the same source as His to die: nor were their atrocious crime and the Redeemer's endurance the offspring of One Spirit. The Lord did not incite but permit those madmen's naughty hands: nor in His foreknowledge of what must be accomplished did He compel its accomplishment, even though it was in order to its accomplishment that He had taken flesh.

III. Christ Was in No Sense the Author of His Murderer's Guilt.

In fact, the case of the Crucified is so different from that of His crucifiers that what Christ undertook could not be reversed, while what they did could be wiped out. For He Who came to save sinners did not refuse mercy even to His murderers, but changed the evil of the wicked into the goodness of the believing, that God's grace might be the more wonderful, being mercifully put in force, not according to men's merits, but according to the multitude of the riches of God's wisdom anti knowledge, seeing that they also who had shed the Saviour's blood were received into the baptismal flood. For, as says the Scripture, which contains the Apostles' acts when the preaching of the blessed Apostle Peter pierced the hearts of the Jews, and they acknowledged the iniquity of their crime, saying, "what shall we do, brethren ?" the same Apostle said, "Repent and be baptized, each one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For to you is the promise, and to your sons, and to all that are afar off, whomsoever our Lord God has called," and soon after the Scripture goes on to say: "they therefore that received his word were baptized, and there were added on that day about 3,000 souls." And so, in being willing to suffer their furious rage, the Lord Jesus Christ was in no way the Author of their crimes; nor did He force them to desire this, but permitted them to be able, and used the madness of the blinded people just as He did also the treachery of His betrayer, whom by kindly acts and words He vouchsafed to recall from the awful crime he had conceived, by taking him for a disciple, by promoting him to be an apostle, by warning him with signs, by admitting him to the revelation of holy mysteries, that one who had lacked no degree of kindness to correct him, might have no pretext for his crime at all.
Leo the Great, Sermons, Sermon LXVII.


But it is upon God’s knowledge that he has cast the whole, and this no one would venture to gainsay, though he were ever so frantic. “For the children being not yet born,” he says, “it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.” And he shows that noble birth after the flesh is of no avail, but we must seek for virtue of soul, which even before the works of it God knoweth of. For “the children,” he says, “being not yet born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, it was said unto her that the elder shall serve the younger ”: for this was a sign of fore-knowledge, that they were chosen from the very birth. That the election made according to foreknowledge, might be manifestly of God, from the first day He at once saw and proclaimed which was good and which not. Do not then tell me that thou hast read the Law (he means) and the Prophets, and hast been a servant for such a long time. For He that knoweth how to assay the soul, knoweth which is worthy of being saved. Yield then to the incomprehensibleness of the election. For it is He alone Who knoweth how to crown aright.
Saint Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans,
Homily XVI, on Rom. ix. 1.


After quite some time, three men of high rank, Theodosius, Bishop of Caesarea in Bithynia, and the patricians Paul and Theodosius, were sent by Constans and Patriarch Peter to win over the saint. They were joined by the Bishop of Bizye, and alternately flattered and threatened Maximus, testing his faith and posing various questions. They began by introducing themselves, then requested Maximus to sit down.

Bishop Theodosius asked, "How are you faring, my lord Abba Maximus?"

"Exactly as God knew I would before the ages," replied the saint. "He foreordained the circumstances of my life, which is guarded by providence."

"How can that be?" objected Theodosius. "Did God foreknow and actually foreordain our deeds from eternity?"

The saint said, "He foreknew our thoughts, words, and deeds, which nevertheless remain within our power to control; and He foreordained what befalls us. The latter is not subject to our control, but to the divine will."

"Explain more exactly what is in our power, and what is not," requested Bishop Theodosius.

"My lord, you know all this," answered Saint Maximus. "You only ask to try your servant."

The Bishop admitted, "Truly, I do not know. I wish to understand what we can control and what we cannot, and how God foresaw one and foreordained the other."

The venerable Maximus explained, "We do not directly control whether blessings will be showered upon us or chastisements will befall us, but our good and evil deeds most certainly depend on our will. It is not ours to choose whether we are in health or sickness, but we make determinations likely to lead to one or the other. Similarly, we cannot simply decide that we shall attain the kingdom of heaven or be plunged into the fire of Gehenna, but we can will to keep the commandments or transgress them."
The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father Maximus the Confessor and Martyr
Based on the Life by His Disciple Anastasius the Apocrisarios of Rome


Translated by Father Christopher Birchall
Holy Transfiguration Monastery
Boston, Massachusetts, 1982
pages 17-18

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Orthodox Christianity: Delivering Its Opponents To A Bitter Death Since 306 AD




Fifth Condac

The pagan emperor Maximian, taking an interest in gladiator games, sat and watched as many Christians were being killed by the hands of a strong and powerful fighter named Lyaeus, from the tribe of the Vandals. Unable to suffer seeing such wickedness any longer, the young Christian Nestor, zealously aflame with passion, went to meet with you in your cell, Saint Demetrius, and confessing to you his heart's ardent desire, asked for your blessing and prayers, so that he might defeat him; and you, Holy Martyr, putting your hope in the One Who strengthened you, and signing him with the mark of the Cross, told him: "Go forth, for against Lyaeus will you conquer, and Christ our Lord will you confess ", singing together with him: Hallelujah!






Fifth Icos

The young Nestor, putting his hope in God through you, Holy Great Martyr Demetrius, and hastily running towards that frightful place, cried out with a loud voice, saying: "Oh, Lyaeus, come let us both fight !"; but the emperor, seeing him so young and fair, took him to the side and told him: "Can't you see how many people Lyaeus killed ?", trying to lure him into becoming of one mind with him; but he, unwilling to comply, cried out: "God of Demetrius, help me !". And right away started fighting with Lyaeus, and throwing him into the sharpened spears, delivered him unto a bitter death, thus fulfilling your prophecy, Holy one; for which we greet you with these praises:


Rejoice, for Lyaeus' pride have you humiliated;
Rejoice, for you have encouraged Nestor to fight against him;
Rejoice, for you have foretold that through the sign of the Cross will he conquer him;
Rejoice, for unto a bitter death have you delivered him;
Rejoice, for the young Nestor a strong anchor in Christ through your holy prayers has found;
Rejoice, for his Hope did not disappoint him;
Rejoice, for your prophecy, oh Holy one, came true;
Rejoice, for Nestor also Christ confessed;
Rejoice, for the emperor's bait he did not accept;
Rejoice, since for him also a heavenly crown was prepared;
Rejoice, for at the emperor's command, by Marcian was he beheaded;
Rejoice, for his pure soul in Heaven with the Martyrs was counted;
Rejoice, myrrh-streaming Great Martyr Demetrius!



Sixth Condac

When the mad emperor found out that you, Martyr Demetrius, were the cause of Lyaeus' destruction, he became very afflicted, more so than as if he would've had lost his whole kingdom, and straight away commanded his soldiers that you likewise by spears shall be pierced; and you, praiseworthy Martyr, were awaiting your sentence thinking of the imperishable heavenly rewards you would soon be gaining, singing unto God: Hallelujah!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Wrath Of God



Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Role Of Women In Orthodoxy




A picture's worth more than a thousand words...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Orthodox Christianity: Silencing The Opposition Since 325 AD


When Constantine returned to Byzantium, certain philosophers came to him to complain of the innovations in religion, and particularly of his having introduced a new form of worship into the state, contrary to that followed by his forefathers, and by all who were formerly in power, whether among the Greeks or the Romans. They likewise desired to hold a disputation on the doctrine with Alexander the bishop; and he, although unskilled in such argumentative contests, and perhaps persuaded by his life, seeing that he was an excellent and good man, accepted the struggle at the command of the emperor. When the philosophers were assembled, since every one wished to engage in the discussion, he requested that one whom they esteemed worthy might be chosen as spokesman, while the others were to remain silent. When one of the philosophers began to open the debate, Alexander said to him, “I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ not to speak.” The man was instantaneously silenced. It is then right to consider whether it is a greater miracle that a man, and he a philosopher, should so easily be silenced by a word, or that a stone-wall should be cleft by the power of a word, which miracle I have heard some attribute to Julian, surnamed the Chaldean. I have understood that these events happened in the way above narrated.


Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History,
Book I, Chapter XVIII.

Sola Scriptura


Audio

Confronting the Doctrine of Sola Scriptura, by Fr. Jon Braun. (This one is mostly about what some Protestants call Solo Scriptura, or the AnaBaptist / modern American Evangelical view of it).

Speaking of Sola Scriptura, by Kevin Allen and Fr. John Whiteford.

The Authority of Scripture, by Reader Christopher Orr.

The Classical Reformation - Part 1: Sola Scriptura, by Fr. Andrew.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Protestant-Orthodox Dialogue


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Hmmm... now, let's see, what happened?



the sufferings of iconodules were mostly later fabrications anyways.

Just like those of the early Christian martyrs, you mean?



iconodules re-wrote the history after their victory, luridly making up stuff of what horrible nasty persecutors the iconoclasts had been.

Christians re-wrote the history after their victory, luridly making up stuff of what horrible nasty persecutors the pagans had been.



your childish apples-and-oranges comparison between the denial of iconodulic martyrdom and the martyrdom of early Christians

Yes, indeed: how childish of me to compare the persecution of Christians with... the persecution of Christians! Dumb, huh? What a totally original, completely controversial, and wholly counter-intuitive idea!... Who'd've thunk it !?



RC/EO historians have slandered the memory of iconoclast emperor Constantine V "Copronymus" - "dung-named"

Curiously enough, I don't see him saying the same about them "slandering" Arius' earthly departure...

[The former defecated in his Baptismal water, whereas the latter died of dysentery: although there was nothing super-natural or un-common and extra-ordinary about any of these things, the Orthodox interpreted them as signs of bad omen: in the first case, as a prophecy of Copronymus' future heresy; in the latter, as a divine punishment for Arius' heretical views].



Nestorian Assyrians have been famous for their detestation of images,

That's why they probably found a huge statue of the Virgin Mary in a seventh-century Nestorian Temple in China...



But here's yet a bit more, from Gibbon: "In their Syriac liturgy the names of Theodore and Nestorius were piously commemorated: they united their adoration of the two persons of Christ; the title of Mother of God was offensive to their ear, and they measured with scrupulous avarice the honors of the Virgin Mary, whom the superstition of the Latins had almost exalted to the rank of a goddess. When her image was first presented to the disciples of St. Thomas, they indignantly exclaimed, "We are Christians, not idolaters!" and their simple devotion was content with the veneration of the cross."

I kindly advised him to take the word of an actual Indian Orthodox Christian over that of a man whose main purpose in his book was the "open denigration of organized religion ". -- all to no avail...

[The reason why we even arrived at this point of our discussion in the first place was because I challenged him to answer how exactly is it that the Ancient Churches of the East (that the article was about) had the same teaching concerning the veneration of icons, saints, and relics as we do, even though they broke off from the rest of Christendom whole centuries before the dreaded Seventh Ecumenical Council of Second Nicaea].


John 12:47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin.


Begging The Question: Big Time!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Lord Created Me, The Beginning Of His Ways


The Lord created Me, the Beginning of His ways, before His works of old.
From everlasting was I founded, from the beginning, ere than the earth was made.
There were no depths when I was born, nor any springs laden with water.
Before the mountains' foundations were established, before the hills were formed, was I begotten.

Before Abraham was, I am.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Orthodox Christianity: Making Terrorist History Decades Before Bin Laden Ever Laid Hands On A Rifle


Reporter: These days, it sounds a little strange... loving the Arabs, that is. The world is afraid of them, at best.

Mioara Roman 1: Out of ignorance. Next to nothing is known about them, not even the fact that not all of the Arab world is Muslim. For instance, the one who committed the first major terrorist act, back in the 70's, was a Palestinian Orthodox Christian, just like us. The idea is that out of over one billion Muslims, only 200 million are Arabs.


Tango Magazine, March 2009


1 Scholar of Arabic and ex-wife of former Romanian Prime-Minister Petre Roman.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's Wrong With This (Beautiful) Picture?



Islam's Sexual Self-Contradictions


Do you think that Islam and ancient biblical Judaism are alike? That Allah is just another way of spelling Elohim? That the Qur'an is similar to the Old Covenant? That Moses and Musa are one and the same? Well, think again:


From the Taurat given to Musa:


Exodus 19:15  And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. 16  ¶And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. 17  And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. 18  And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. 19  And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. 20  And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up.


From the life of Prophet Daud:


1 Samuel 21:4  And the priest answered David, and said, There is no common bread under mine hand, but there is hallowed bread ; if the young men have kept themselves at least from women. 5  And David answered the priest, and said unto him, Of a truth women have been kept from us about these three days, since I came out, and the vessels of the young men are holy, and the bread is in a manner common, yea, though it were sanctified this day in the vessel. 6  So the priest gave him hallowed bread: for there was no bread there but the shewbread, that was taken from before the LORD, to put hot bread in the day when it was taken away.


From the Injil given by Isa:


Matthew 22:29  Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. 30  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

Mark 12:24  And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the scriptures, neither the power of God ? 25  For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.

Luke 20:34 And Jesus answering said unto them: The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.



Biblical accounts of especial encounters with the divine, as well as scriptural commandments about approaching the holy things, not to mention the Judeo-Christian depictions of the afterlife, always require chastity as a necessary prerequisite and non-negotiable condition, as opposed to the more lax Muslim view of Paradise, expressed by Muhammad in the Qur'an, and described by his closest faithful followers in the Ahadith.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

A Sixth Century Roman Deacon on the Filioque


For the Father indeed begets, and begotten He is not; and from someone else He is not, as from Him others are; the Son truly is begotten, and nothing co-eternal does He beget ; and the Holy Spirit from the Father proceeds, and nothing co-eternal proceeds from or is begotten by Him. Some of the very ancient to these properties have also added, that just as the Spirit together with the Father does not eternally beget the Son, neither does the Spirit proceed from the Son as from the Father. To tell you the truth, that indeed the Spirit does not eternally beget the Son, this I confess ( for neither do we speak of two Fathers ); but whether He truly proceeds from the Son in the same manner as from the Father, this I haven't yet perfectly figured it out.


Rusticus, Disputation Against the Acephali, page 36 (1237).

Friday, October 15, 2010

Monarchy and Monotheism


The Kings of Israel, as well as Saint Constantine the Great, imposed or enforced monotheism as a tool for strengthening their own political power, and/or fortifying the unity of their empires: one God in Heaven, one King on earth; divine unity equals political and imperial unity.


Was the mighty Egyptian empire monotheistic? No. Did the great Chinese and Babylonian empires ever worship one God? No. Did Alexander the Great, who conquered the whole known world, ever bow his knee to a single deity? No. Then...? What gives?

The Fifth Commandment


Honour thy father and thy mother, but not anyone else's parents: and especially not Mine!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Islam's Iconographic Inconsistencies


Do you think that Islam and ancient biblical Judaism are alike? That Allah is just another way of spelling Elohim? That the Qur'an is similar to the Old Covenant? That Moses and Musa are one and the same? Well, think again:


From the Taurat given to Musa:


Exodus 25:18  And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19  And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20  And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 22  And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.

Exodus 26:1  ¶Moreover thou shalt make the tabernacle with ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work shalt thou make them.

Exodus 26:31  ¶And thou shalt make a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen of cunning work: with cherubims shall it be made.

Exodus 36:8  ¶And every wise hearted man among them that wrought the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple, and scarlet: with cherubims of cunning work made he them.

Exodus 36:35  ¶And he made a vail of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen: with cherubims made he it of cunning work.

Exodus 37:7  And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat; 8  One cherub on the end on this side, and another cherub on the other end on that side: out of the mercy seat made he the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 9  And the cherubims spread out their wings on high, and covered with their wings over the mercy seat, with their faces one to another; even to the mercy seatward were the faces of the cherubims.

Numbers 7:89  And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.


The Temple of King Sulaiman:


1 Kings 6:23  And within the oracle he made two cherubims of olive tree, each ten cubits high. 24  And five cubits was the one wing of the cherub, and five cubits the other wing of the cherub: from the uttermost part of the one wing unto the uttermost part of the other were ten cubits. 25  And the other cherub was ten cubits: both the cherubims were of one measure and one size. 26  The height of the one cherub was ten cubits, and so was it of the other cherub. 27  And he set the cherubims within the inner house: and they stretched forth the wings of the cherubims, so that the wing of the one touched the one wall, and the wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; and their wings touched one another in the midst of the house. 28  And he overlaid the cherubims with gold. 29  And he carved all the walls of the house round about with carved figures of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, within and without. 32  The two doors also were of olive tree; and he carved upon them carvings of cherubims and palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid them with gold, and spread gold upon the cherubims, and upon the palm trees. 35  And he carved thereon cherubims and palm trees and open flowers: and covered them with gold fitted upon the carved work.

1 Kings 7:29  And on the borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims: and upon the ledges there was a base above: and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work. 36  For on the plates of the ledges thereof, and on the borders thereof, he graved cherubims, lions, and palm trees, according to the proportion of every one, and additions round about.

1 Kings 8:6  And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. 7  For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.

1 Chronicles 28:18  And for the altar of incense refined gold by weight; and gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubims, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the LORD.

2 Chronicles 3:7  He overlaid also the house, the beams, the posts, and the walls thereof, and the doors thereof, with gold; and graved cherubims on the walls. 10  ¶And in the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. 11  And the wings of the cherubims were twenty cubits long: one wing of the one cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was likewise five cubits, reaching to the wing of the other cherub. 12  And one wing of the other cherub was five cubits, reaching to the wall of the house: and the other wing was five cubits also, joining to the wing of the other cherub. 13  The wings of these cherubims spread themselves forth twenty cubits: and they stood on their feet, and their faces were inward. 14  And he made the vail of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon.

2 Chronicles 5:7  And the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD unto his place, to the oracle of the house, into the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims: 8  For the cherubims spread forth their wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.



Just out of curiosity: Do Mosques also have their walls covered in ornate iconographic depictions of Angels and Cherubim? If not, then why not?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Prosperity Gospel


$


Numbers 21:9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Injil


The Gnostic Gospels ?


Given the actual information provided by Mohammed in the Qur'an on the life of Jesus, it surely seems that such is indeed the case... (various apocryphal Infancy Gospel accounts, a Docetist view of the Crucifixion, etc).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Futility, Thy Name Is Apologetics


The title says it all.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Calvinism 101


Take, eat: this is My spirit.

Drink ye all of this: this is a mere figure of My blood.

Do this in remembrance of Me. [ emphasis in the original Greek ]


So much for Sola Scriptura...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

On Gay Marriages and Women's Ordination



Friday, October 1, 2010

Is Eastern Orthodoxy Eastern Heresy? My Response

Steve over at Triablogue made a post in where he tried to flip the table on us, but such a thing is extremely difficult to do when we have the Eastern Fathers and great Church Councils under our belt.

How can we be an Eastern heresy if we preserved the Truth? Unlike Steve Hays, we can actually trace most of our beliefs back to the early centuries. We can actually point not only to Scripture for our beliefs, but to great men of the Faith and to Church Councils as well! This is something he can't do!

And so whatever he says about us, he must also say about the historic Christian Faith in general. To fight against us is to fight against the great Eastern (and early Western) Church Fathers, councils, and creeds!

Also, he is not even in agreement with the semi-Augustinian position of the post-2nd-Orange Christian West. And so he really doesn't have a leg to stand on. His interpretation of the doctrine of the Trinity is far from being the historic Christian one. Yes, he is trying to flip the tables on us, but to do so is to destroy any real sense of doctrinal continuity with the past.

For how could he embrace, in good conscience, some of the Ecumenical creeds and non-Augustinian Fathers of the past, while at the same time calling us an Eastern heresy? What in the world does he think we believe?

Making the Case for Orthodoxy to a Protestant Audience



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