Sunday, August 26, 2012

How can Material Things Communicate the Things of the Spirit?

As seen from the book Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian



How Can Material Things Communicate The Things of The Spirit?

God Acts Within His Creation

How can material things make us aware of the presence of God? This truth can only be grasped if we understand that matter is not inherently base or evil. The earth is no less good than the spiritual realm which He created (Genesis 1:25). There is no "better-worse" distinction between the material and spiritual world; both were created by God, both, both co-habit the other, and both reveal God's presence.(52) The world is not a "failed attempt" of God. To reject creation as an inferior product is to reject the Creator Who made it.(53)

The earth has consistently been involved in the things of the Spirit. In fact, the whole scheme of salvation has been clearly "incarnated" in time and matter.(54) Creation, Redemption, the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost all took place within this material world. Not one of these events occurred purely in the "spiritual" realm.

The Scriptures make plain that if the material creation and the supernatural world did not have such an integral relationship with each other, the entire creation would collapse; "in Him all things hold together" (Colossians 1: 17). To pit objects we can smell, taste, and feel against those things that defy dimension is a contest that the Bible forbids. Matter and Spirit are not enemies; they are "relatives" which have both been fathered by the same Hand.

God created matter as well as spirit. God has created the entire world, and every ounce of matter belongs to Him....Therefore a certain tendency in religion which 'despises' material things, reducing religion to what is 'spiritual,' is wrong, non-Christian.(55)

As C.S. Lewis so aptly put it, "God likes matter; He invented it."


Redemption: The Restoration (Not The Obliteration) of The Material World

In the Last Day, the Lord will not discard His creation; it-like all those in Christ- will be restored and redeemed to its original "newness."

'Behold, I make all things new' [Revelations 21:5]. These were God's last words to us, and they only say at the end, and eternally, what was in His mind at the beginning, when He looked on the sacramental world of His creation and saw that it was good.(56)

In other words, Christ may make all things new, but he will not wipe out his creation in favor of a different creation. After Christ's return, it will be the same world, and we will still be human beings. The difference will be that God's redemptive presence within us and the world will be more fully revealed and experienced.(57)

Nothing in creation was meant to suffer death and to be thus imprisoned by corruption. Although the consequence of humanity's Fall has passed on to the world around us, sentencing it to the same curse (Romans 5:12), when Christ returns it will be a recipient of the same redemption we have inherited in Him (Romans 5:17-21).(58) Until that Day, man's call is to offer back creation to God. Such an offering is performed through the consecration of ourselves and all of creation to God. In this consecration, all matter acquires its spiritual meaning and is blessed.(59)

The crucial truth to be understood is that created matter is not inherently corrupt, nor is spirit inherently holy. Both have been personally made by the Lord for His glory. Both can be turned away from Him and thus corrupted. The spirit world cannot be distinguished from the material world on the basis of the one being more hallowed than the other:
... it must be remembered that corruption applies as much to the spiritual realm as to the material. The devils and damned souls in hell are, precisely, spirits in a state of corruption. Just as good food rots, and silver tarnishes, and our flesh sickens and decays, all of it because of evil, so the lordliest celestial spirits may rot and tarnish and decay into fiends in hell. It is the same process, the same fabric.(60)

The Spirituality of The Body

A negative view of creation often leads one to discount the physical nature of man. Many within the Evangelical-Fundamentalist stream believe that the real person is located only within the spirit or soul. This popular teaching continues by saying that the body is merely an "earth-suit," something God gave us so we could "get along" on the earth. The philosophy is often summarized, "We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body." The eternal reality of the person is confined to the spirit and soul, and the body will simply pass out of existence.(61)

Platonic philosophy supports such a non-matter view of man, but nowhere in the Scripture is this teaching supported.

The New Testament never uses 'spiritual (pneumatikos) in antithesis to the bodily (somatikos). There is no opposition between spirit and body, for there is even such a thing as a spiritual body (soma pneumatikon) (1 Corinthians 15:44).(62)

God created man as both spirit and matter from the very beginning. The body is not carnal; it just as spiritual (godly and holy) as our souls and spirits are.

Likewise, our true selves are not composed of two or three parts that can be studied in isolation. We are not parts (material + spiritual); we are whole beings (material inter-dwelling spiritual). Spirit and matter inseparably make up our entire identity; our bodies are an inherent part of our personhood. "The spiritual man does not have a body, but is a body. Man is 'bodily' a spiritual being, and is 'spiritually' a material being."(63)

As shocking as it may seem to some of us, the truth is that our bodies (not just our souls) will be with us for eternity. And our bodies-along with the created world-will be saved:

....even we groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body (Romans 8:23).(64)

On the Last Day our bodies will not be destroyed. Far from it! They will be cast in the very likeness of Christ's resurrected body(1 John 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:42; Philippians 3:21). One day our flesh of corruption will be transformed, and it-along with all of "mattered-creation"-will experience full redemption (1 Corinthians 15:38-45).(65) Yes, it is true that our bodies will be glorified, and yet they will still be that same "seed" of flesh that we presently identify as our physical persons.








 Pages 209-212 from the book "Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity For the American Christian" by Jordan Bajis, 2006 Light and Life publishing

Were the Pre-Nicene Church Fathers ""semi-Arians""?


                                       The answer is NO!



                         As seen from the book An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics


Many modern theologians spoke about a Semi-Arianism of the first Church Fathers and authors. This, however, seems to be based on the fact that they did not understand their teaching and manner of thought. According to certain ancient theologians, we have the "spoken" and the "innate" Word (Logos). This distinction between these two senses of logos clearly indicates that in the perception of these more ancient theologians, there is a distinction between the natural and eternal existence of God and His Logos and their relation to the world and operation in it. Before the creation of the world out of nothing, God has had His innate logos eternally in Himself.

Through His creative operation (energy), God through the Logos produces created beings out of nothing, and for this purpose, the innate logos becomes spoken. So, to begin with, the Logos is potentially spoken, and afterwards, it becomes spoken actively. What, however, is particularly important is that, for the ancient authors, the innate Logos and the spoken Logos are not two hypostaseis, but one and the same being. The spoken and the innate Logos do not differ from each other. The same Logos becomes spoken having first been innate. On the contrary, Arius accepts an un-heard of doctrine of two Logoi and, as it appears, following Lucian, he adapts it to the views of Paul of Samosata.



page 19 from the book "An Outline of Orthodox Patristic Dogmatics" by Protopresbyter John Romanides, translated and edited by Protopresbyter George Dion. Dragas. 2004 Orthodox Theological Library
Saturday, August 25, 2012

Augustinian dualism, Protestantism, and heretical Christology


From the book Common Ground: An Introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian

 Matter As "Unspiritual"

The influence of Augustine 

Evangelical-Fundamentalism is generally wary of the earthly being associated with the spiritual. As I have briefly mentioned, this attitude was inherited from the Reformers who, in their own way, adopted it from Rome's understanding of Augustine.(1) Let me refresh our memories. Augustine's theological system saw the world as being divided into two distinct parts: the world of the spirit, and the world of matter. The material world was understood as something that is always divorced, distinct, and separate from anything resident in God's realm, i.e., the invisible domain of the spirit.

In this spirit-matter division, Augustine has a great a great deal of similarity to Platonic philosophy.(2) Platonism saw the spiritual world as being the only real (or ideal) world; the material world was but an image or shadow of that reality. Augustine sympathized with this distinction. In fact, it was this division between matter and spirit that lay behind his understanding of a sacrament as "an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace." To Augustine, the reality of a sacrament was spiritual-something which was cloaked behind the material and "visible sign." Not only did this formula become a popular Roman Catholic definition, but it found its way into all the major Reformation catechisms as well.(3)

What then is sacramental grace, and how is it received? The Roman Catholicism of the Middle Ages answered that question by saying that grace was the "saving power" energizing the sacraments. The Reformers held a similar view, but most of them qualified this understanding by affirming that it was one's faith in what the elements represented, not the elements themselves, that communicated God's grace. In both contexts grace was not understood as "favor," its literal Biblical meaning. Grace was redefined by Augustinian-schooled scholastics as an "energy" able to bring the Christian alongside of God. The "Reformed" Augustine is little different from the "Catholic" Augustine. In both systems, grace is understood as a non-personal substance, not a direct, intimate communion of God with the believer. The reason for this deduction was clear: matter is matter and God is God, and never the two shall meet.(4)

The Chasm Between Matter and Spirit: The Evil of Flesh and Blood

In general, the various streams of Protestant Christianity have often flowed in sympathy with Augustine, Platonism, and pietism Humanism. Luther, himself a former Augustinian monk, clearly reflected an Augustinian dualism in his theological  treatises and Biblical exegesis.(5) Calvin was also heavily influenced by these schools of thought, having had the opportunity to study them seriously for years.(6) The Catholic-Reformer, Desiderius Erasmus (1469-1536), was another scholar who emphasized the Platonist spirit-earth dichotomy,(7) and his thinking made a significant impact on Anabaptist sacramental thinking.(8) Lastly, Zwingly, a man whose influence within Fundamentalism is still very much present, also demonstrated his allegiance to these philosophies and demonstrated it in his distrust of "outward things" in religion.(9)

As might be expected, these perspectives encouraged a very low view of human nature. While the spirit of an individual was pure, the tactile and sensible dimension of his personhood was ignoble and base. It was not just a person's "fleshliness" (i.e., carnal appetites) that was evil, but the body's very skin and bones as well! Zwingli clearly thought this way:

The actual origin of sin Zwingli ascribes to the contrariety of soul and body, the tension between spiritual aspiration and the down-drag of carnal appetite. Thus by the 'flesh' he means the 'fleshliness' of the actual physical body, so narrowing the sense in which St. Paul uses the word. Indeed it was characteristic of Zwingli always to distinquish sharply between man's true being. That the argument is more rationalist than biblical Zwingli himsels is frank enough to admit...(10)

Zwingli extended his dualistic thinking to the point of contradicting the Church's traditional teaching on the Incarnation. For example, he taught that Christ's humanity and divinity did not inter-dwell each other.(11) Instead of understanding Christ's human nature as participating in His divine nature, he saw the two natures as merely existing "side-by-side."

What consequence did this have on his view of the sacraments? Simply this: if divinity is distinct and does not co-inhabit the humanity given to Christ, how can any spiritual reality occupy "lesser" material symbols such as bread, wine, or water? The basic Platonist teaching is again emphasized: the material world is intrinsically incompatible with that which is spiritual.(13)

Zwingli's aversion to the marriage of matter and spirit was complemented and carried further by the South German Anabaptist, Menno Simons(1496-1561). Not only is this former Roman Catholic priest the "spiritual father" of most Mennonites today, but much of his thinking is still well received by many twentieth century Fundamentalists as well.(14) Simons was similar to Zwingli in his strong repugnance to the idea that divinity could co-reside within Christ's humanity. But unlike the Swiss Reformer, he did not divide Christ into two separate entities. Instead, he taught that Christ had only one nature-a divine one.

According to Simons, Christ's flesh was totally divine; not one speck of it was human.(15) This perspective seemed to address the problem left unanswered from the Augustinian interpretation of original sin he had once been taught. If, as this doctrine explained, it was impossible for man to escape from Adam's sin and guilt, how could a sinful woman (Mary) give birth to a sinless Man(Jesus)?(16) To answer this question, Simons cited John 6:63: "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing..."

In other words, Mary gave nothing of her humanity to Christ in the Incarnation; she was merely "a tube" through which Christ passed unaffected.(17)

'Jesus Christ is alone the Word of God, who himself became flesh through his divine power, and received nothing from the Virgin Mary; else she would not have have remained a virgin. He is alone the seed of the Spirit. Even as the water in the jars at the wedding of Cana became wine through divine power, and took unto itself no wine from the jars nor from any other wine. As the Bread from heaven, [Christ] fell from heaven and became himself a seed [corn], but received nothing from the earth.'(18)

Although Calvin clearly did not teach such an erroneous view of Christ, neither did he, in common with both Zwingli and Simons, hold a high place for the human body. He reserved honor only for "the spiritual side of man," and "considered the spirit-soul the exclusive bearer of the image of God and the essence of human personality to the disparagement of the body and its drives."(19) Once again, this this entire way of thinking was "plainly a direct result of Platonism as absorbed into medieval Augustinianism."(20)

In this view, sin has defaced God's image in humanity beyond all recognition, having been passed on from one generation to another through biological reproduction. Therefore, man as a product of human sex, must be depraved (i.e., the concept of total depravity) since nothing pure could naturally live in his "fallen-matter" flesh. This Platonic theme was continually emphasized in Reformation theology, and, though to a much lesser degree, in Anabaptist teaching as well.(21)

This leads us back to where we began. God, as the Supreme Good, stands at an eternal arm's length from anything "matter-like," either in creation or in humanity. The conclusion: anything material-in man or sacrament-has little real value.(22) Today, many Christians in the West would certainly not agree with the distorted perspectives of Christ's humanity some of the Reformers maintained, nor would they explain grace in such academic terms. However, the Augustinian and Platonic prejudice against creation, and the scholastic definition of grace, especially in respect to the sacraments, still has its proponents. 



 





from pages 199- 202 from the book "Common Ground: An introduction to Eastern Christianity for the American Christian" by Jordan Bajis
Friday, August 17, 2012

Heretical Christology 101


Dyophysitism is Orthodox Christology; however, there is a heretical form of Dyophysitism as advocated by Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore of Mopsuestia. They laid the ground work for the heretical Christology of Nestorius. Below is a quote from a protestant German scholar from the 19th century. I may not agree with all of his biases in other places, but he articulated their Christology very well and so I wanted to share it here so that people will know why Nestorianism was saying something totally different from the Cappadocian Fathers (also Dyophysites) and Chalcedon.
The great teachers of the Antiochene school, at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the fifth centuries, not satisfied with all that had been done, thought themselves bound to strike out a new path, so as to define in an intelligible manner the union of the two natures. All their predecessors seemed to them to have preserved insufficiently the particular and inviolable character of each nature, and not to have given a sufficiently fundamental opposition to Apollinaris, but to have more or less given in to his views. And thus Apollinaris now found much more violent opponents in his own native country, Syria, than elsewhere, men of high reputation and great endowments, particularly Diodorus of Tarsus and Theodore afterwards Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia.
Everything the heretic Apollinaris said wasn't wrong. And so there was no need to disagree with him on every point. He got the Identity right, he was wrong in saying Jesus didn't have a human soul. Also, there is nothing wrong in those before their time believing in a full communication of the attributes. There is also nothing wrong in believing in a real Incarnation.



 In the latter we behold the special representative and spokesman of. this school, who, further developing and rectifying the ideas of ' Diodorus, built up a new christological system. In opposition to Apollinaris, Theodore holds most decidedly that complete humanity and so also moral freedom must be 4 ascribed to the redeemer. In order, however, to keep at a ' distance from the notion of the mutability of Christ,—a theory which, however objectionable, seemed to be involved in that of His liberty,—Theodore did not allow the idea of liberty to result in that of liberty of choice, but went on to the idea of a higher, ethical liberty, "which consists in the unchangeable harmony of the human will with the divine, and ascribed to the human nature of Christ such a higher liberty, a kind of liberty which practically excluded all sin. So far he was right. But he further regarded the union of the divine and human in Christ only in the sense of ivoucrjai^, that is, indwelling, because to him the idea of Incarnation seemed to be identical with transmutation of the Logos into a man, and was therefore rejected by him as absurd.

"When, however, God dwells in any one, he thinks, He does not dwell in Him according to His nature, and so not by the expression of His power, but by His good pleasure (evSoKia). This indwelling is not alike in all the righteous, but its measure is determined by the measure of the divine evBoKui. But in no one did it take place in so high a degree as in Christ. In order to show mankind its future perfected condition, to which it was destined, God formed a man in a miraculous manner, in the womb of the Virgin, by the Holy Ghost ; and in the moment in which this man was formed, the Logos limited Himself with Him. After some time the Logos led the man to baptism, then to death, then raised Him again, took Him up into heaven, placed Him (by reason of His union with Himself) at the right hand of the Father, and from that time He (the man) is worshiped by all and will judge all.

What he just said here is very important when it comes to understanding why Theodore's Christology was different.


As every one who strives after righteousness progresses in union with God, so also it is with Christ. His union with the Logos had first begun with His conception and birth, and now increased gradually as moral union, wherein His humanity was constantly impelled, elevated, strengthened, and preserved from all aberrations by the indwelling Logos.' This moral union was confirmed and strengthened peculiarly in the temptations and at the passion of Christ, but it receives its perfection only after the death of Christ, when He has exchanged the state of humiliation for that of exaltation. If,|according to this theory, the union of the divine and human in Christ is placed on the same level with the union of the divine good-pleasure with every righteous man, yet the two are in the highest degree essentially different, and Christ can in no way be compared with men. On the contrary. He transcends all men (a) by His supernatural birth, and (b) by His sinlessness ; but (c) also in this respect, that it is not merely the evhoKia of God generally, but the Logos, and so God Himself, the second Person of the Trinity, who dwells in Him ; and {d) the Logos is so closely imited with the man in whom He dwells, that He has destined him to participate in all the honours which properly belong to the Logos alone.

 It is true that in this manner Theodore could maintain the two natures in their perfection, and fundamentally oppose all mingling of the two ; and he also explains that this is his aim, when he says, " Mingling is not suitable for the two natures ; there is a difference between the divine form and the form of a servant, between the temple which is adopted and Him who dwells therein, between Him who was dissolved in death and Him who raised Him, between Him who was made perfect through sufferings and Him who perfected Him, and so forth. This difference must be preserved: each nature remains indissoluble by itself, in its essence." But Theodore, and here / is his fundamental error, ntjt merely maintained the existence ) of two Natures in Christ, but of two persons, as, he says himself, no subsistence can be thought of as perfect without personality.

 As, however, he did not ignore the fact that the consciousness of the Church rejected such a double personality in Christ, he endeavored to get rid of the difficulty, and he repeatedly says expressly : " The two natures united together make only one Person, as man and wife are only one flesh. . . . If we consider the natures in their distinction, we should define the nature of the Logos as perfect and complete, and so also His Person, and again the nature and the person of the man as perfect and complete. If, on the other hand, we have regard to the union (avvdjieia), we say it is one Person."^ The very illustration of the union of man and wife shows that Theodore did not suppose a true union of the two natures in Christ, but that his notion was rather that of an external connection of the two.

The expression (xvvd^eia, moreover, which he selected here, instead of the term ei/wcrt?, which he elsewhere employs, being derived from a-vvaTrrco [to join together^], expresses only an external connection, a fixing together, and is therefore expressly rejected in later times by the doctors of the Church. And again, Theodore designates a merely external connection also in the phrase already quoted, to the effect that " the Logos dwells in the man assumed as in a temple." As a temple and the statue set up within it are one whole merely in outward appearance, so the Godhead and manhood in Christ appear only from without in their actuality as one Person, while they remain essentially two Persons."





All quotes are from pages 5 to 7 from the book "A HISTORY of the
COUNCILS OF THE CHURCH,
FROM THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS.
VOLUME III.
A.D. 431 TO A.D. 451"
BY THE RIGHT REV. CHARLES JOSEPH HEFELE, D.D
EDINBURGH: T. oc T. CLARK, 38 GEORGE STREET, 1883

Isaiah 53 in the Septuagint and the Atonement


God “Pleased to Punish?” Isaiah 53 in the Septuagint Aug15 by Vincent Martini

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

THE ASCETIC IDEAL AND THE NEW TESTAMENT


Christianity comes from the Middle East and so this should be obvious, but it's not to some who attack our asceticism.

THE ASCETIC IDEAL AND THE NEW TESTAMENT Reflections on the Critique of the Theology of the Reformation © F. George Florovsky

Salvation in Christianity by Father Daniel Sysoyev (Memory Eternal)


If you are unable to see the English sub-title then turn the Caption on.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Do Calvinists really accept the 3rd, 4th, and 5th Ecumenical Councils?


As seen from the book The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History


 Calvin’s Christology
Although Calvin claims to accept
Chalcedonian Christology, he so emphasizes the division between the human and divine natures of Christ that he falls into Nestorian-like beliefs. He shows definite Nestorian tendencies during his arguments against the Lutheran doctrine of the Eucharist. Calvin taught that the Faithful could not receive the actual body of Christ, because the human body of Christ, “is contained in heaven, where it was once received, and will remain until the judgment.”941

Thus, Calvin rejected the patristic doctrine of the “communication of attributes.” For this reason he did not teach the deification of the human nature of Christ through its union with the divine nature. The doctrine of the “communication of attributes,” and the deification of the human nature of Christ are both are essential elements of the Christology of the Fathers and the Ecumenical Councils.942 Rejection of these key doctrines, compromises the union between the human and divine natures of Christ and leads to a division between the two natures that is very close to the teachings of Nestorianism.

The defects in Calvin’s thought show the wisdom of the Fathers of the Fifth Council, Constantinople II in 553, which declared that Chalcedon must be understood in conformity with the teachings of St. Cyril of Alexandria. By denying the deification of the human nature of Christ, Calvin rejected the foundation of salvation which is the Incarnation and the deification of humanity through the deification of the human nature of Christ.

Although Calvin affirmed his belief in the Incarnation, it is clear that his teachings deprive the Incarnation of its real meaning because he denies the deification of the human nature of Christ.
For this reason, it is not surprising that some of Calvin’s heirs reject traditional Christology and teach that Jesus Christ was only an inspired man, an idea that is the essence of Nestorianism.[1] 



 [1], pages 290-291 by Archpriest John W. Morris (2011-07-15). The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History (290), (p. 291). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.


Sacrifice of Praise


As seen from the book The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History



 The Holy Eucharist
Like all Christians, Orthodox and Roman Catholics celebrate the Eucharist. The Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches teach that the bread and wine become the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Both East and West also consider the Eucharist a commemoration or remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. For this reason, both Churches describe the Eucharist as a “sacrifice of praise.” During his prayers, an Orthodox priest refers to the Divine Liturgy as a “liturgic and bloodless sacrifice.”544 During the Roman Catholic Mass, the priest says, “Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.”545 Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians also believe that in the Eucharist Christ both offers and receives the sacrifice. During the Orthodox Liturgy, the priest prays, “thou thyself art he that offereth and is offered, that is accepteth and is “distributed.”546 [1]

and

The Orthodox Church rejects any effort to use the categories of science or philosophy to explain how the bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Christ. Instead, the Orthodox consider the Eucharist a mystery that cannot be explained according to human reason.

Through the Eucharist, the Faithful partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, which imparts grace and the forgiveness of sins. Because Orthodox Christians reject any effort to understand the Eucharist through human reason, they are content with the words of the Holy Scriptures. Christ said, “this is my body…this is my blood.”787 St. Paul wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of

Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ.”788 Christ said, “he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up the last day…he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.”789 Thus, those who receive Holy Communion are united to Christ.790 Nicholas Cabasilas taught those who partake of Holy Communion, “receive God Himself,” because “Christ infuses Himself into us and mingles Himself with us. He changes and transforms us into Himself.”791

Through Holy Communion, the believer receives deifying grace from God by partaking of the very life of God through the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist also defines and proclaims the reality of the Church. St. Paul wrote, “Because there is one bread, we who are Through Holy Communion, the believer receives deifying grace from God by partaking of the very life of God through the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist also defines and proclaims the reality of the Church. St. Paul wrote, “Because there is one bread, we who are Masses offered, the greater the chance that God would grant their request.

There were priests whose sole ministry was saying Masses in return for a donation from those seeking some special favor from God. Some people left special endowments to pay for Masses for their release from purgatory.795 It is easy to see how this system can lead to misunderstandings and abuses. Orthodoxy and modern Roman Catholicism reject the crude folk religion that thought that every Mass is a new offering of Christ on the cross. However, Luther again went too far by rejecting the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist.
 All prayer is an un-bloody sacrifice offered to God. As the supreme act of prayer by the community, the Divine Liturgy is sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving and worship offered to God. The Divine Liturgy is not a new offering of Christ, but it is a commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

St. Paul wrote, “For as often as you eat the bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”796 As the Apostle noted, the Jews became “partners in the altar” when they ate meat from the animal being offered.797 By partaking of the body and blood of Christ who offered Himself on the cross, the faithful become “partners” in the altar of Calvary.
Because it is a mystical participation in the worship of God in heaven, the Eucharist transcends time and space. For this reason, the faithful are mystically present when Christ offers Himself for the salvation of humanity through their participation in the Divine Liturgy. Christ is the true celebrant of the Eucharist. The priest is merely His representative.
Therefore, Christ offers Himself for the salvation of the Faithful at every Divine Liturgy. During the Byzantine Liturgy, the Priest prays, “thou thyself art he that offereth and is offered.”798 Finally, the Faithful offer themselves as a living sacrifice during the Eucharist. Thus, Luther and Protestantism goes to an extreme that robs the Eucharist of one of its most important meanings by failing to understand the sacrificial nature of the Divine Liturgy. [2]



[1] page 180, [2]pages 253-254 by Archpriest John W. Morris (2011-07-15). The Historic Church: An Orthodox View of Christian History (p. 180),(p. 254). AuthorHouse. Kindle Edition.




Saturday, August 4, 2012

Early Christian Eschatology


There were two views, one would later be declared heretical while the other Orthodox. Taken from the book ""Church History, Volume One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation: The Rise and Growth of the Church in Its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political Context"


V. Christian Hope
 Two patterns of eschatological hope emerged early in Christianity. From a certain strand of apocalyptic Judaism there developed a chiliastic eschatology. According to this view, all the deceased wait in the Hadean world for the coming of the earthly, temporary messianic kingdom, with the righteous and the unrighteous separated in different compartments.

Christian chiliasm placed the resurrection of the righteous (the first resurrection) at the time of Jesus Christ's return and the inauguration of his earthly rule from Jerusalem. Based on Revelation 20:3, this view fixed the length of this rule as 1,000 years, hence the designation millennium (Latin) or chiliasm (Greek). At the end of this period the remainder of human beings will be raised for judgement with the sub-sequent eternal separation in either heaven or hell.

Chiliasm was an integral part of the polemic against Marcion and the Gnostics in Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. Irenaeus integrated the millennial kingdom into his whole theology by interpreting the millennium as a time in which resurrected bodies are accustomed to spiritual existence and prepared for the heavenly vision of God. Tertullian posited that the martyrs were an exception and did not have to wait in Hades for the resurrection as others did, but went directly to the presence of Jesus Christ. Other champions of chiliasm in early Christianity were Papias, Victorinus, and Lactantius.

An alternative, non-chiliastic, pattern of eschatology understood the future kingdom of God and Christ as heavenly, not earthly. According to this view, also derived from Jewish sources, the righteous dead are already in the kingdom of heaven (i.e., paradise) and there is no trace of an interim earthly kingdom.

In place of the ideas of the abode of the dead in Hades and an earthly millennium, this view embraced the belief in an intermediate stay by the righteous in the heavenly realm in the presence of Christ. Often there was expressed the conviction that Christ at his resurrection delivered the righteous dead of the Old Testament from Hades and took them with him to the intermediate heavenly realm.

This non-chiliastic form of the Christian hope interpreted Revelation 20:3-4 as referring (1) to the binding of Satan by the ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus; (2) the coming to life of those beheaded for the sake of Jesus as the resurrection of their souls at death in order to enter paradise with Christ; and (3) the thousand years as symbolic of this present interim rule of the faithful with Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem. At the second coming there will occur the resurrection of bodies and final judgment.

This non-chiliastic current of eschatological thought was widely pervasive in early Christianity and is represented in such writers as Hermas, Polycarp, the authors of the Epistle to Diognetus, Ascension of Isaiah, Apocalypse of Peter, Martydom of Polycarp, and Letter of the Churches of Vienne and Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Cyprian.

There is no evidence of Christian use of separate burial grounds in the early period. About 200 the Church in Rome acquired what became the nucleus of the catacomb of Callistus, but the shared use of the same tombs by pagans and Christians continued to be common into the fourth century. Christians followed the usual practices of society (these will be examined in the next chapter in connection with the development of the cult of the saints). They sometimes gave expression to their faith and hope by inscriptions, symbolic images, and paintings at their burial places.

Present in all forms of the orthodox eschatological hope was belief in the bodily resurrection, in contrast to Gnostic views of the resurrection of the soul only. Both Gnostic and orthodox non-chiliastics believed the righteous go immediately after death into the presence of God in heaven, but the non-orthodox did not link this belief with a further expectation of a resurrection of the body. Origen emphasized the "spiritual body," but most (perhaps in direct opposition to Gnosticism) emphasized a resurrection of the "flesh."

Apart from Origen, who entertained the possibility of universal salvation after a period of purification and education of souls in the after-life, those who spoke to the subject understood an ultimate division of humanity in heaven or hell. The expectation of eternal reward sustained Christian endurance in the face of persecution and other hardships.





Pages 157-159 from the book "Church History: Volume 1, from Christ to the Pre-Reformation, the rise and Growth of the Church in its Cultural, Intellectual, and Political context" by Everett Ferguson, copyright 2005 Zondervan
Friday, August 3, 2012

Kabane's walk through of Romans chapter 9


The True Beauty of Romans 9

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