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It is a fundamental problem, and very important. If an unbeliever, for example, picks up a Bible and starts reading, he might come to any number of conclusions. The text is not some sort of object. It is seen and understood in a relational manner. For an Orthodox Christian, there is a particular character to the relationship with have with the Scriptures and with the Fathers that is essentially different than those of others.

We read them as our own. They experience and context provides a basis for a hermeneutical experience that simply is not available anywhere else. Everybody has a matrix of their hermeneutic. To become a Christian requires, finally, that we become part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, not some Reformed version, but the very same Church. That is the community of interpretation. When a Buddhist speaks like a Buddhist, it does not surprise me. They have a community of belief and interpretation.

But it has nothing to do with my Christianity, my faith, my life, my Church, or with the Christ whom I know. It is extra ecclesiam. Now, obviously, I can have a conversation with a Buddhist, and even profit by it and vice versa. But I do not expect that conversation to bear much weight in my faith.

When someone from outside that living tradition of Orthodoxy starts speaking about the Scriptures as though they understand and share something in common with me, they are mistaken. There is an Orthodox experience of the Scriptures, for the reasons noted above, and it is essential. We never! As to the Fathers. We sing them. We sing them in a particular order. Some have far more weight and representation than others do.

Hymnographers, for example, pretty much never read by the non-Orthodox, have an extremely important role in our patristic consciousness. From the outside, you can have no idea of how thoroughly this experience permeates all that we do. Orthodoxy is not a collection of texts and neither is true Christianity.

It is a dynamic, living experience of the very God-breathed Tradition that is the Life of the Church, given to us in all we do. It shapes the very movements of the services and writes the melodies. It paints our icons and designs our buildings. It shapes the character and content of the food we eat.

It clothes our priests and bakes our bread. And these things are not simply cultural artifacts. They are God-breathed and embued with power that is life-transforming. It is the context of our lives. And all of these things are as related to the Fathers and the Scriptures as the very texts themselves.

We do what the Fathers did. We eat what they ate. We smell what they smelled. And I could go on. But you want to bring me a sterile, modern reading and talk about meaning? Forgive me, but the greatest Reformed scholar of Patristics would be more clueless than the average grandmother in an Orthodox Church.

The rationalized abstractions of Protestant thinking is just so much thinking. It long ago abandoned everything that was given to us from our ancestors in the faith. It invented modernity and secularism. I do not mean to be unhelpful nor unkind. But I seriously mean to share how far removed what you think is from what we know.

But Christ gave us the Church for a reason beyond convenience. Human beings are created to be social beings. Everything we do is social in nature. Language, biology, etc. Everything we think, and what we think we know, has a basis in social constructs. And this is proper.


The Church is Body of Christ and is that context of living Tradition for the salvation of our souls. You cannot disrupt that reality without consequences. How bad are the consequences? Worse in some cases than others. Less bad in others.

The Gates of Hell - Bayonetta Music Extended

Is Orthodoxy perfect? Absolutely not. Does it need Reform. And that life clearly guides and preserves it. Hugh, the Reform movement has historically, been the location of some of the worst biological racism ever taught in the name of Christ. Many in the American South denied that blacks even had souls. And they used Sola Scriptura to back it up. Clearly, there is a repenting over this now. But it is an example of the defenseless nonsense that cannot be corrected.

It was an evil that rivaled anything ever expressed by Nazism. Many young Reformed minded folk are unaware of this history. The authors of apartheid in S. Africa were Reformed. I think that none of this is accidental. I was taught as a child that black people were black because they were descendants of Ham and had been cursed with their dark skins.

This blasphemy came out of that same movement. I cite this only as an example of the kind of error that has been produced from time to time in Reformed movements. Bereft of the Fathers and the living Tradition of the Spirit, it is possible to fall into all kinds of errors. Orthodoxy is not immune to troubles. All of the ancient heresies began, to a large extent, in the mind of an Orthodox Christian.

That heretic and his followers, however, began to reject the Church and the guidance of her bishops, seduced by their own imaginations. And repeatedly throughout history, the Church has identified, met, rebuked, and, when necessary, anathematized these errors. Orthodoxy is not a power structure as in the case of Rome. We think what the Fathers thought, and for the same reasons.

I find the illustration of Jesus holding the keys of Hades and death and throwing them into the great fiery lake interesting. Just thinking out loud; please correct me if I am off-base here. Hugh, The exact nature and character of Christians who are outside the Church has never been defined by the Orthodox Church. We say the same thing. To set the Scripture as some sort of authority separate from the Church is facile and self-serving and denies the historic Christian faith. These should not be puzzling questions for me, but for you.

How can you claim to have the same faith as Athanasius and yet stand outside and apart from him for example? Where do you stand when you read the Scriptures? Who stands with you? Are you claiming a private God and a private Holy Spirit? What is the Church?

Orthodox Christianity, Culture and Religion, Making the Journey of Faith

You repeatedly denigrate our tradition with historical sins that may or may not be validly traced to our theology. You see necessary logical consequences. I respectfully do not agree with your conclusions, of course. If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? I claim the same faith as Athanasius, as I believe we are one in the Spirit in essentials.

Would we agree on ALL things? I doubt it. Just as you and I disagree on many things, and yet, call each brother in the Lord I hope! Where I stand when I read the Scriptures, is with all who have the Spirit. We all make mistakes and we all get some tunings right.

I read Basil or Luther, Chrysostom or Calvin, praying God helps me to agree with them where we are biblical, and rejecting ALL our errors, where we err. Of course not. Just the same Spirit Who has baptized us all into Christ. As one has said: The saying of Rupertus Meldenius strikes the right balance.

It calls for unity on the essential things, the core of truth in our union with Christ. In non-essentials not the unimportant, but those things that if lacking do not prevent our union with Christ , it calls for liberty so that all might follow their consciences under the Word and Spirit. We call this union the communion of saints. Because it is a union created by Christ in baptizing us all by one Spirit into His body, the church 1 Cor. But the manifestation of that unity is not always apparent. Christians can display ugly divisions between one another, as at the church of Corinth — Their disunity could be seen in the public square as members sued one another before the ungodly in civic courts —8.

Hugh, I understand. And that portion of the Creed is far older than the 4th century. The doctrine of the Church is as much a part of the Christian faith as the atonement. Protestantism and the Reform movement clearly, and undeniably have invented new doctrines of the Church in order to not face what they have done nor the conclusions they should draw. The conclusions were difficult, but ultimately undeniable. I only cited the racism stuff in order to awaken your understanding that this stuff has been wrong, and deeply wrong in the past. It is not the bulwark you imagine it to be.

I do not seek to create disunity. I am simply discerning the ugly reality that is there. You are in schism from the Church and part of a group that is willing to change the changeless doctrine of the Church in order to justify its own schism. Orthodoxy has suffered for nearly years to live the fullness of the unity that was given to us in Christ. But saying these hard things seems to provoke you to suggest that it comes from lack of charity. Orthodoxy is not theoretical. It is a true communion, visible, historical and real.

Your theoretical unity would probably have helped us avoid a lot of trouble through the centuries, but then, there would no longer be a Church. Just individual Christians in our chat rooms. Reading the above discussion, I am reminded of previous words of Fr. Stephen which helped me to understand that the only way we know — truly know — is by participation, just as we can never know love if all we do is talk about it.

It must be experienced. It has been a huge hurdle for this hyper-analytical, intellectual soul, but it has been setting me free in ways I could only dream of before. Why not? Orthodoxy is unwilling to open parishes where the people reside, but more than willing to place the burden on those same people to return to what they never left. To hide behind the Fathers and the Councils seems a bit disingenuous.

At least Campbellites will start a church around a farm pond and a picnic table with three people if there is no other church around. Heh, even if there is…. History clearly presents real hurdles in our lives. Just like our genetic inheritance, our ecclesial inheritance is sometimes problematic. If you had born in China in the first century, you could wonder why the Church was not there. Historical circumstances did not make it a possibility. But the schism and persecutions by the Western Church and Islam certainly isolated it.

Russians first sent missionaries to America Alaska and the Church continues to exist there. Eventually, migrations from Orthodox lands has brought the Church to most of America. But you have to remember that many of those lands were under Ottoman rule until the 19th and early 20th century. They were oppressed and persecuted. In Turkey, we are still not allowed to open our seminary. Add to that the Communist Yoke that covered most of the 20th century. If not where you are, yet, then it will come.

But, of course, historical circumstances can still leave someone without a local Orthodox presence. But that lack does not negate the reality of Orthodoxy, it only underlines the tragedy of schism and heresy. Of course, the West has sought to return the favor. At the fall of the Soviet Union, American Protestants sought to flood Russia with missionaries, before the Orthodox Church could even get on its feet.

I have had a hand in starting 5 Churches, written over 2, articles and fielded over 50, comments and that in only the last 9 years. If God would give us more hours in the day, we could do so much more! The fields are white. And, arguably, the International Space Station is Orthodox since it has icons and relics of the saints brought by Cosmonauts. Clawing out from persecution and near extinction, the church continues to proclaim the faith and die doing it. While I understand your plight, please consider what the Orthodox have gone through in maintaining this faith so that it is even an option at all.

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It is still possible here to worship in churches where people worshipped years ago, and of course that worship was Orthodoxy. It is still possible to visit rivers where the Apostles Paul and Barnabas baptized people and ordained bishops.

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It is, of course, a blessing, but no less a blessing than this blog and all the wonderful comments. St John Maximovitch had said that it is necessary to understand the Gospel as the Orthodox understand it. Through the many homilies I have been blessed to listen to on radio programs here, again and again, I have heard Met.

Athanasios say that Orthodoxy is the Kingdom of God and not a religion…and it is. Forgive me. DM, Churches are planted by believers not by the hierarchy. If you desire an Orthodox Parish to attend and there is not one where you live, plant one. Find a few other people who have the time, talent and treasure who have the same desire and start forming a parish.

Study the Faith and be a leader until you are ready to seek conversion to the faith and when you have enough who are converted and accepted into the Faith then you can petition the ruling Bishop of your area for clergy or you can attend Seminary yourself and prepare for ordination.

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It is the way everyone plants churches. I am now serving in another parish nearby that was a church plant 30 some years ago. Every Orthodox Church in my area we have all the major jurisdictions here were started by the same method of church planting that I described. The big ones are the oldest and they are full of American converts. I stand [er, sit] corrected. Orthodoxy has made it to where I am. An old-calendarist monastery is nearby. Apparently the rest of Orthodoxy has apostated themselves and these fellers are the remnant.

The Keys To The Kingdom And Gates of Hell

But there might be more peace and good will between us than you might realize. But as a new Christian, they are also my teachers, teaching by their brotherly love and support of my life in Christ even as someone who is not following the Old Calendar. We live in communion with each other at the same Cup. Perhaps Fr Stephen will say more on this. I wish to present my comment more as a question rather than critique.

I just want to say to you how much I have appreciated your irenic presence in the comments section of the blog. As to the content of your position and disagreement regarding the nature of the Church I have little helpful to add. Bear with us in our zeal, we are also gentle and patient. As a simplistic example: I am a potential catechumen. I am searching into Orthodoxy. Stephen tells me the historical Orthodox church is the One Church. Stephen is a part of is apostate. Which is it? Are they both not Orthodox? Jerusalem and Antioch, recently, broke communion.

Which one is now the One Church? I understand there may be progress in that arena, but the point holds. Next town over, a Greek Orthodox parish. Seems they get along pretty well. And essentially, is there any difference? DM, Antioch and Jerusalem are temporarily out-of-communion concerning a jurisdictional matter in the Middle East as far as I can tell, Jerusalem trespassed. They are not in any way declaring each other to be not Orthodox, nor does it mean that their people may not take communion from the other. The One Cup is also a disciplinary matter in Orthodox.

When things are seriously out-of-order, communion is stopped until it is repaired. That is the ancient manner of dealing with these things. Men who somehow gained what they claim are legitimate apostolic orders and then declare themselves to be the Church, etc. Their absolute isolation is itself a testimony to their bogus claims. There are plenty of nut-jobs in the world. I claim to be a priest in communion with all of the Bishops of the Eastern Orthodox Church, its patriarchs, etc.

Submission and synodality are important. No one of much standing at all denies that we are who we say we are.

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  7. What is denied is that the teaching regarding the One Church, clearly professed in the Scriptures and in the Conciliar fathers, still applies to anyone. I can understand someone saying that it no longer applies to anyone. That, somehow, the Apostolic Church just disappeared or something. The third possibility is that Orthodoxy is what it says it is and would love for everyone to come back home. My own experience more or less went from the first option disappeared to the third.

    On Calvary's hill there rose a cross And…. Each week we give away Free Lead Sheets and other resources just like these. Toggle navigation. Open The Gates. Refine results. Songs Medium 9 Fast 4 Slow 1. What is That something the Gates of Hades would not be able to prevail against ingress or egress?? Then in addition something else is promised…. It is to this kingdom we aspire to. It is the promise of this kingdom and its authority we as members of the Church are separated apart for and may have a part in.

    Daniel And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. Authority for dominion in the first heaven and the earth is two fold, a present limited authority with the future promise of a complete authority to those who receive the keys, the inheritance a part in The Kingdom of Heaven…also written in Rev Proverbs She crieth in the chief place of concourse, in the openings of the gates: in the city she uttereth her words, saying, 22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity?

    Daniel 12 …..