Monday, February 17, 2014

10 Things Orthodox Christians Would Like You to Know

My friend Daniel Miles sent this to me and asked me to post it on the blog to help answer the questions you may get from your non-Orthodox friends.

10 Things Orthodox Christians Would Like You to Know
1) We don’t worship Mary.  We hold her in a place of esteem because of her singularly unique role as the birthgiver of Jesus Christ.  Orthodox Christians state and affirm over and over again throughout the worship services that God alone is the only One to Whom worship is due.  
2) We don’t worship icons.  Icons are like a family photo album.  Just as in our own families, where we keep the pictures of our loved ones who have departed this life on shelves and hanging on walls, we also keep the pictures of the members of our larger Christian family around, particularly those members of our Christian family who have led exempliary lives.  The word icon only means “image” or “picture”.  
3) When we talk about tradition, we don’t mean the traditions of men, we mean Holy Tradition.  The traditions that the Church has taught have always been those that have been led by the Spirit.  It was the tradition of the Church that gave us the New Testament and, the New Testament also continues to inform that traditon.  It is cyclical and not mutually exclusive.
4) Orthodox Christianity is not “works” based.  It always takes the grace and will of God to bring about our salvation.  We do good works because it is the outpouring of the joy that we experience through living Christ-centered lives and because it is an expression of righteous living and of love for God and neighbor.  There are no “points” earned by doing good works.  
5) There’s no such thing as the Byzantine Empire.  This was a term invented by French scholars retroactively during the rennaisance.  Constantine moved the capital of the empire to the east and Constantinople became known as New Rome.  Though portions of the Western half of the Roman Empire fell, the Eastern half continued for over a thousand years after the Goths sacked Rome.  Those living in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire did not think of themselves as “Byzantines” or even Greeks.  They were Romans.  Even today, the Turks still refer to Orthodox Christians living in Turkey as “Roman”.  
6) “True” Christianity did not disappear when the Church received legal recognition from the Roman Government.  Faithful, pious and righteous Christians continued to live in faith and suffer martyrdom and persecution.  The Church thatwas founded by Jesus Christ, and its theology, remained intact.  Those who became frustrated with government intervention in Church life struggled to maintain the purity of the church’sdoctrine and life.  However, since the Church continued to adhere to its basic teachings without dilution, it was necessary for pious believers to continue their struggle within the church.  It was believed that no person had the right to create or invent his or her own church.  It is also significant to mention that the Orthodox Church continues to bear much fruit.  If losing one’s life, or martyrdom, is the ultimate expression of one’s devotion to Christ, there has never been a more fruitful time within the Church.  There were more Christian martyrs in the 20th century than all previous centuries of Christian history combined.  Most of these martyrs were Orthodox Christians who refused to renounce their faith.  
7) The Orthodox Church is not a denomination nor is it “non-denominational”.  It is pre-denominational.  The Church was without break or separation for more than 1,000 years.  The Orthodox Church did not break away from any other group.  The Orthodox Church continued right along up to this day.  In fact,groups that refer to themselves as “non-denominational” because they are free standing churches, not connected with any larger mainline protestant confessions, are, in fact, denominations.  Since a denomination means a breaking down of the whole or a separation, they are simply denominationsconsisting of one parish.  
8) Yes, the Orthodox are “Bible believing” Christians.  Almost everything within Orthodox worship comes directly from the Bible, both Old and New Testaments.  There is probably more Bible read on a single Sunday Morning in Orthodox Worship than in an entire year in most other churches.  
9) Orthodox Christianity is not an exotic form of Roman Catholicism.  While both Churches have organized worship, the life, practice and doctrine of the Roman Catholics and The Orthodox are quite different.  The Orthodox view the Pope as the bishop of Rome, not a supreme leader of the entire Church.  And, because, in the eyes of the Orthodox, the Pope has stated that his authority is over the entire Church, The Orthodox arenot currently in communion with Rome.  Roman Catholic doctrinal principles such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Papal Infallibility, Transubstantiation of Holy Communion, and Original Sin are absent from the Orthodox Church.  These perspectives took root in the Roman Catholic Church after East and West went their separate ways.
10) Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is the head of the Orthodox Church: not Luther, not Calvin, not Wesley.  The Orthodox Church can trace the lineage of the ordinations of its clergy all the way back to Christ Himself with unbroken continuity.  Orthodox Christianity has remained faithful to Christ not only doctrinally but also historically.  

With these things said, The Orthodox are not trying to convert you.  We believe in tolerance of other faiths, and this has been written so that those of you who may come from other backgrounds might be more tolerant of us.  Please don’t write us off.  Learn what we really think, do and believe before deciding without sufficient knowledge.  We’re believers.  We don’t preach false doctrine.  We accept the Bible as the Word of God.  Simply put, we struggle within the boundaries of the church to always be as good of an expression of the Kingdom of God on earth as possible.  This is because Christ created one Church and prayed that It would remain one.  We believe it is our sacred duty to preserve this oneness.  We are not allowed to whimsically create a new church whenever we are upset.  If we don’t like what’s happening in our Church, we don’t leave.  We risk persecution, even to death, to protect the faith because that’s what Christ did when He created The Church. 

by Daniel Miles 

46 comments:

  1. Hello. Iwould like to make some remarks. While the Eastern Orthodox don't actually worship the most blessed Virgin Mary their veneration often goes beyond reasonable limits. For instance, in a troparion to the Smolensk icon of Theotokos, she's called "our only hope". Should I say Who's supposed to be our only hope? And there's more like that.

    Comparing icons to family members' photos sounds great but that doesn't actually reflect the practice. Would carry a relative's photo around to have his good will for him?

    And it's really hard to believe that all the necessary lengthy prayers and strict fasting rules for a half of the year or so and other rituals breaking which is considered a sin have any joy in them. People's consience often suffers under this burden.

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    1. Looks like you're being picky, picky, picky. We don't 'carry icons around, there is no room in our pockets and they are too heavy! 'Breaking any strict fasting rules' is NOT considered a sin; doing so is something to be confessed to your father confessor. Most of the time if Orthodox Christians do so, they hop back on track! And, if you want to experience true joy, come to an Orthodox Easter service!

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    2. I would also say that the analogy of an athlete preparing for a very important game (like the Olympics) is apt. An athlete in that situation adheres to a very strict rule of diet, exercise and other things that impact their life. And yet, it is not seen as onerous, not worthwhile or even horrible. The athlete is doing everything they can to concentrate on what is important. When they "fall", they want to get back on track and don't castigate themselves for getting off track. They often have a coach and mentor who help them achieve their goals. It is true that anything can become a ritual that detracts but that is because of our own tendency to place more importance on things, and rules etc. rather than on what they are meant to do. Our worship life, our living, is like that preparation that an elite athlete undergoes. Each starts where they can, does what they can, to the best that they can. No comparisons, no being constrained by rules. There is true joy in trying to maintain as clear a focus on true communion with God and one another. Prayer and fasting helps me, so that's the road I try to take.

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    3. Well, I wasn't talking about carrying icons in one's pocket (although many do so), rather about processions with icons or relics around some place or area which is supposed to invoke God's blessing or a saint's intercession.

      Aren't sins what is confessed to the confessor? At least in the Russian OC breaking fasting rules IS considered a sin.

      I've been to EO servies many times by the way. But I've come to believe that a liturgy is not about experiencing joy. It's about receiving God's gifts of forgiveness and the Holy Communion. Should I say how many people come attend EO services without Communion because they cannot meet the fasting and prayers requirements?..

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    4. Manna, well doesn't that happen because what an athlete relies on IS his works of preparation and training?

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    5. Paviel, you have raised some good questions!

      There are most certainly some practices which I am sure some Orthodox do that appear, or may be (to them) legalistic, formulaic and/or ritualistic. But the true spirit of Orthodox Christianity is not legalism. It is not about lighting candles or processing with icons. These are tools to help us focus on and penetrate the spiritual realm we coexist in. Our human senses are thus "spiritualized" so we can "see" beyond them. This is the purpose of ritual: transformation of the senses. Do some people misuse them or misunderstand them? I am sure they do; but again that is not their purpose.

      As for the Mother of God and the troparia you mentioned; Orthodox troparia are poetic. At times,when asking for the prayers and intercessions of the Mother of God, it can sound (at times) as if we regard her as a divine being. I have noted that in some of the prayers. Can some Orthodox mistake her for a divine co-mediatress? Perhaps. But again NOTHING in our theology claims she is "our only hope" in a salvific sense. Only Our Lord "saves" us. However we do regard the Mother of God as an intercessor and in the context of these sorts of troparia when we say "our only hope", we say this in the context of other humans. She above all other humans is our only hope. We plead for her prayers and intercessions and it is in this context we say "our only hope". Not that she saves us in the sense that Christ does. When we say "Most Holy Theotokos save us"...we mean "through your prayers" not in the way Christ saves!

      As for fasting...this is done to purify our senses and mind and heart so we can rely more on God than on our belly! Like several have said, it is an analogous to physical exercise which is work, but not because by it we achieve salvation (that is by grace), but because it makes our hearts more pliable and humble."Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better." Ecclesiastes 7:3

      Is Orthodoxy rigorous? Yes. But that is its beauty! The gate is narrow. None of us is able to enter the kingdom by his efforts or through rituals without God's grace and mercy. As a poet says, "Forget your perfect offering; there's a crack in everything' that's how the light gets in".

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    6. Thanks for your reply Kevin. I raised the issue of icons mostly to stress that saying they are 'like a family photo album' is very far from how they are actually treated in EO churches. So that statement is simply not true. Mysticism is deeply inherited in the EO theology and that's another problem.

      Regarding troparia and prayers in general; normally you can hear that payers and icons are a part of Tradition, and are used so that even an illiterate person could grasp the doctrine of the Church by attending services. Unfortunately even literate ones fail to do this way too often. All kinds of superstitions and heresies regarding the doctrine and practice are caused by these things by which the pure Gospel is barred.

      A lot of attention is payed to necessary lengthy prayers (often in an ancient half intelligible language), exact list of products that you can or cannot eat on a certain day of a fast (oil or no oil, fish or no fish, boiled or dry food – a nightmare!), consecration of food and water, saint patrons of nearly anything, charismatic elders that are so adored by simple people because they are mysterious and give practical advice – and this all is parts of Tradition. And no simple catechism officially adopted by the church that one can simply trust and that would simply teach people to put all their trust in our Lord Jesus in the midst of any trouble. Because you cannot even be sure that you are saved after all, you can only hope that maybe...

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    7. Protestants. Always throwing up a smoke screen of confussion. Any excuse to avoid true and difficult facts. Hard core Christianity isn't for the faint of heart. So throw up your hands in confusion and keep leading your self centered comfortable lives of acumulation. We Orthodox have work to do.

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    8. Protestants are unable to shake their iconoclasm. And their narcissistic worship of their own delusions which springs from their individualism.

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    9. You sound really Christian in your reply. Is this a reflection of your Orthodox faith? For the record, I liked this article but behavior such as yours helps fund belief that you are not part of the church that Christ himself intended.

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    10. Amen....who are we to judge ANYONE? I agree, the comment made towards Protestants was cruel and unkind. And PROUD. Jesus does NOT call us to wave our finger around at others and believe ourselves as "Superior" to others. I say we ALL should BE BLESSED regardless our faith. God created us ALL in this world. Period.

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  3. This is so good. Exactly what I want others to know!

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  4. Excellent post. Just two quibbles:

    I think that rather than being "absent", from the Orthodox churches, the Catholic doctrinal principles you mention are described using different sets of words (all human language being of course insufficient to completely and adequately describe God and His Mysteries).

    Also please do not refer to Catholicism as "Roman Catholicism". This is a pejorative term which was invented by Protestant bigots in England in the 19th century (insultingly inferring that Anglicans and not Catholics are the "real" Catholics, and that Catholics are untrustworthy people who at heart are traitors to their country having sworn allegiance to a "foreign prince" instead of their rulers). Catholics find this even more annoying than Orthodox find it when people call the Eastern Roman Empire "Byzantine". The polite and charitable thing to do is to call people by the name which they call themselves,.

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    1. What about using it to distinguish from Byzantine Catholicism?

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    2. Well in fact, the "real Catholicism" is the Orthodox Church (Greek Creed: Pisteo... eis Mian, Hagian, KATHOLIKEN kai Apostoliken Ecclesian). The other "Catholicism" is exactly that: Roman. Latin. Not Universal because it holds particular to itself "doctrinal principles" which are of substance and not mere "different sets of words". Politness would mean only to encourage them to persist in their errors. The charitable thing is to awaken them, showing them where they err.

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    3. To Anon#1: The author is plainly NOT referring only to Catholcs of the Latin (not "Roman") Rite, but to members of all 20-odd Catholic Churches. Just as the original murderous Anglican bigoted oppressors were referring to ALL Catholics of all Rites when they invented the term "Roman Catholic" which is never used officially by the Catholic Church and is totally unheard of in non-English speaking countries. Where it IS necessary to distinguish the largest Rite from other Rites of the Catholic Church, it should be called the Latin Rite.

      To anon#2, in politeness and charity Catholics and all other Christians accept your wish to identify your church as "Orthodox" and use the term themselves and nothing else. Even though of course Catholics and members of all denominations each regards his own church as the "real" orthodox church and that all others are in error. (If he didn't think this, then obviously he would leave that church and join whichever one he thought was orthodox).

      I, and I hope you, have no problem referring to a certain Protestant denomination as "The Church of Christ" even though each of us no doubt considers his own church to be the legitimate and only true Church of Christ. Same with Jehovah's Witnesses, Full Gospel Church, Non-Denominational Church etc, etc. The fact that we consider their name is a false representatiion does not stop us from using it in charity (not to mention to prevent confusion - and we all know who is the father of confusion!). Charity above all things. God bless you my brother in Christ.

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    4. I am the author of this article, and in no way would I ever intend any bigotry or derogation. I used the term Roman in reference to those who are in communion with the pope in Rome. As one of the other respondents here said, the Orthodox consider themselves Catholic as well. I am not Anglican nor do I come out of that church, so I do not know how they have used that term historically and am saddened to hear that it has been used to put down and diminish. I used the term "Roman" only to differentiate from the Catholicism that the Orthodox, and perhaps other Christian bodies feel, in regard to themselves.

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  5. In assessing one's own faith it serves us well to remember that the strengths and weaknesses of humanity are well represented in the west and the east

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  6. This is a very article that I will share with my Protestant ladies' Bible study. My own journey of faith has brought me to Orthodoxy and in it, I am finding a comfort I have not found before, as well as an acceptance and theology that matches my heart. We are planning to tour an orthodox church and this article will help with some questions/answsers. Thanks!

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  7. Thank you for posting this. I translated it to Spanish and posted it on a blog I just launched. http://corazonortodoxo.blogspot.com/2014/02/diez-cosas-que-los-cristianos-ortodoxos.html

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  8. I would say that good works are not quite adequately explained in the article. Instead of "no points" I'd say: great benefit. Synergy between God and man is required for salvation. The whole person must be engaged to receive salvation, which is a deep, lifelong change, not a ticket to heaven. Forcing our bodies to submit and our hands to not cling to that which we should give to others is a way of changing ourselves to become more receptive. Yes, we have to participate in the process with intention.

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    1. I appreciated your comment. I am the author of this article. You are absolutely correct with your more nuanced view of salvation. This article was written primarily as a counterpoint to many of the accusations levied against Orthodox Christians. A more detailed exposition could be made in another article. Thank you for your considerate comment.

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  9. Words can be like weapons to our mind.
    We begin to translate to fit whatever we choose. I read and I understand what I choose.
    Orthodox is a choice - you choose to believe in the entire journey.
    If we encounter a little bump on the way, a doubt or a slip, we ask the lord for forgiveness and we we hope we can correct our way by trying harder next time.

    Is too eat a nice pizza during fasting "bad" or to rather think of the person eating the pizza as a "bad" person.
    I am a struggling orthodox christian who hopes one day to find his way home.

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  10. I am an Orthodox Christian. Better yet, I am a Christian. I'm educated in the Orthodox religion as well as other religions. I do believe in the Holy Trinity, the father, son, holy spirit. I just find it very difficult to understand how the Orthodox church can be so judgmental when it comes to other peoples faith. I also find it interesting that other the centuries, the bible, has been through many revisions. And that there are many other bibles that never made it in to the good book for some reason or another. For example to name a few: Acts of Andrew, or coptic Gospel of Thomas, Acts of Pilate (Gospel of Nicodemus) Testament of Adam, Apocalypse of Elijah, Ascension of Isaiah, or Testament of Jacob. I also find it very interesting that when you ask a Greek Orthodox Christian about where there religion comes from or how the dogmas of the church were instituted, most don't know. Most have no idea of the Seven Ecumenical Councils and the great fathers of the church: Athanasius the Great, or Basil the Great, or Gregory the Theologian, or John Chrysostom and the others groups responsible for how the church actually is. Other groups that help set up the church was the Roman catholicism or Papism, and the third was, Protestantism.

    But yet the Greek Orthodox Christians are always pointing out other peoples faults. I've experienced that. And although I don't hold contempt for it, it has driven me away from the church. Not from God. What I truly find hypocritical about the authors 10 key facts is the faith by works. The traditions for the the church is just that, Faith by Works. If it wasn't then why practice it? The bible gives us many scriptures, but I have yet to see scripture that specifically gives direction on how to pray and what to say, or when to say it or why I should say it in that fashion. This is sort of a farce to me. If you believe in god, and yell out god help me in your time of need, and you have faith, do you think our lord and savior will not come because you didn't ask in a specific way? Common now.

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    1. You are 100% right and I agree with you as a Greek Orthodox Christian myself. I said the Lord's prayer in casualty coming out of a car accident which left me with little survival. I said the Lord's Prayer whilst lying there as an acknowledgement of my faith in him in case he decided it was my time to leave earth. It wasn't my time to go and as the day turned to a week and the weeks turned to a month to 3 months in hospital, to this day, I count my blessings every day. Religious politics should not exist, it is all about Love, Peace and the Brother/Sisterhood of mankind, following a set of rules outside that of what our Lord taught us, is nothing but propaganda. Why do the leaders of Christianity not emphasise on the Old Testament which was handed to the Hebrews but only limited "examples" are set in reference to good deeds favoured by God? Man is the reason behind distinguishing what should be taught according to all religions, not God himself. In saying that, I would rather follow early Christian teachings as opposed to modern day ones.

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  11. Dear respondents,

    I am in the author of this article, and had no idea that when I wrote this piece that it would create so much dialogue. Let me first state, without hesitation, that I no way intended any slight on any other body of believers beyond the Orthodox Church. Any interpretation to that regard saddens me. Any terminologies used are for clarification.

    Secondly, this article was written in simple language and is no way intended to be exhaustive or anywhere close to the "final word" on any of these topics. This article was written to help Orthodox Christians, primarily living in areas where Orthodox Christians are a minority, to be able to defend their faith. Each point was designed to be a counterpoint to accusations that are frequently levied against Orthodox Christians.

    Once again, I would like to reiterate that the intention of this article was in no way meant to be exhaustive of these topics nor was it written to be an academic piece. I do realize there is a lot more to be said in regard to what the word "works" means and what "works" are. I also realize that there were many times in the first 1,000 years of the church when there were other breaks and smaller schisms. I was primarily referring to the "Great" schism and referencing that only insofar as it has had a profound effect on the development in the west.

    I would like to say, I appreciate your comments and I see now the many ways in which this article could be refined. I humbly ask that you accept the spirit within which it was written and not that you please forgive any of the intellectual shortcomings that I possess. Any errors made are of the head and not of the heart.

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    1. Correction: "that you accept the spirit within which it was written and that you please forgive any of the intellectual shortcomings that I possess." -Daniel

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  12. Daniel, I found this to be just what you intended: Concise and informative. Thank you for helping those of us who find ourselves looking for the words to defend our faith - and when I say "defend", I mean mostly "to explain". I get a lot of questions - mostly from curious sorts. It's nice to have a succinct way of putting it all together. May God bless you and your efforts!

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    1. To the author Daniel, Your article although informative does give an outsider a glimpse of the Orthodox Faith, but not entirely. I respect you for putting it out there. For those who find the Orthodoxy interesting should do their due diligence and research the entire history of the faith. In order to totally understand how the Orthodox church operates one would have to study the Orthodox church from the beginning which does include the history of Christianity.

      Also, there are errors in your interpretation of our faith, brethren. For example you stated that "The Orthodox are not currently in communion with Rome. Roman Catholic doctrinal principles such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Papal Infallibility, Transubstantiation of Holy Communion, and Original Sin are absent from the Orthodox Church. These perspectives took root in the Roman Catholic Church after East and West went their separate ways."

      This is not accurate. Let us have a discussion, can you tell me what occurs in Baptism? During Holy Baptism a death and resurrection take place, a birth, or rather a rebirth. First a death takes place, that's why he who is to be baptized must be totally immersed in the water of the font, because this immersion symbolizes death. What death you ask? The death of the "old, sinful man" He who is baptized is deadened, entombed in the the font; The "old man dies". Thus does the original sin come out of him and is done away with, and man is freed from the dominion of sin, even though even after baptism he retains a certain inclination and tendency towards evil. And this inclination and tendency remain so that the Christian may struggle and achieve through his own power and efforts, his rebirth. From the Holy Font and with the triple immersion in the blessed water, he who is baptized emerges dead unto sin, reborn unto a new life, resurrected into a life in Christ, a child of God, a faithful Christian, a citizen and member of God's kingdom, i.e. of the Christian Church. Hence an heir to the heavenly kingdom. St. Paul describes as follows the spiritual rebirth which man obtains from his baptism:

      "Brethren" St. Paul says, "so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in the likeness of his death, we as be also of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin" (Rom. 6, 3-6).

      St. Gregory of Nyssa says:" Baptism is therefore the cleansing of sins, the forgiveness of transgressions, the cause of renewal and rebirth." Hence, it is the death of evil, the resurrection of good, rebirth, adoption, a new spiritual and holy life: the gifts and charismata of baptism; and it is in this fashion that we must live after baptism: pure and holy. All Christians.

      I'm addressing this because although you have good intentions for explaining our faith, it would wise to make sure you have a clear understanding of it prior to publishing something on behalf of the entire Orthodoxy.

      Remember the Apostle St. Paul when he says: "Brethren, ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular" ( I Cor.12, 27) and that "we being many, are one body in Christ, and everyone members one of another" (Rom.12,5).

      May God bless you and all your future endeavors.

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  13. The Orthodox prefer the term ancestral sin and it is widely regarded to be quite different from the Roman Catholic view of Original Sin. The Orthodox view is that due to the sin of our ancestors, we enter a world where sin is a reality and we, too, have a propensity toward sin but it is not the fundamental nature of man. In the Roman Catholic Church, the understanding tends to have many different interpretations, but a very common one is that each person inherits the sin of Adam by his or her fundamental nature. So, the reason why no remark was made to the Orthodox view of ancestral sin is because the Roman Catholic view of Original sin is a different doctrine from that of the Orthodox Church. -Daniel

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    1. I am sorry sir but that it false. If you read the actual Roman Catechism, Rome's view of Original Sin is not really different from the Orthodox view. Orthodoxy does not reject "Original Sin". That is a modern "Romaphobic" distinction that has no bearing in actual historic Orthodox teaching. Original Sin does not imply guilt at all. That is a Calvinist Protestant invention that came along with "Total Depravity". I am very anti-ecumenist and I will still freely admit this is not something we differ with Rome on (except perhaps the Immaculate Conception of Mary and how that relates to Original Sin).

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  14. Thanks Daniel for this important clarification. The term "original sin" is one that has differing interpretations for Christians. When not properly interpreted it can distort one's understudying of the path to salvation.
    Also the view of Baptism can also be distorted as well, thinking of it only as a removal of guilt inherited from Adam and Eve. For Orthodox it is a cleansing of sin caused by one's own actions and a joining with Christ sealed with the Holy Spirit through Chrismation and then partaking of Holy Communion, the true Blood and Body of Christ. One becomes a full member of His church, united with Him.

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    1. Fr Joiner,
      You stated that " For Orthodox it is a cleansing of sin caused by one's own actions"
      Can you please explain what sort of "sin" a pre Baptised infant has committed ?

      Thanks

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    2. "It is true that baptism is the washing away of sin, and one could say that it seems senseless to baptize a child if they have no inherited guilt to wash away. However, Christ’s sacrifice, in to which we are baptized, was a sacrifice of His whole life as a submission to God— “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42)—and His death on the Cross not only washed away our sins, but also destroyed death itself. When we are baptized we are baptized into His life and death (Romans 6:4), and we become co-beneficiaries of a life which finally brought God and man into a union of love and a harmony of will. The infant is initiated into that union. This initiation will include the forgiveness of their sins, but is not limited to that forgiveness. The life and death of Christ, which reverses the primordial, generational, and personal falleness of this world, is what the child enters through baptism." Fr. John Hainsworth
      For complete discussion about infant baptism for Orthodox Christians se Fr. Hainsworth's complete article on the Antiochian web site: http://www.antiochian.org/content/infant-baptism-what-church-believes

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  15. Firstly, all faiths have those who can be rude when speaking about their faiths. I've never understood that. Missing some fasting isn't a sin. My parish priest says "fasting is a tool, not a rule". I also wish there could be a discussion about faith where being righteous was more important than being right. Forgive me if I sound sanctimonious because that is not my intention. No matter what your faith, if you believe in God then you must know that the best way to share your faith is by example.

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    1. Thank you Jeremiah,
      Very good point about righteousness.
      I believe we shall focus on common ground rather than proving that our fellow man is wrong.
      What I understand today is different than what I believed yesterday. Am I to argue with myself because of that ?
      My sense of direction is lost if I focus on what everyone else believes or what I assume they believe.
      I can learn a lot by learning to love, not just blame.
      " If you blame, you lose the power to change ".

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  16. I haven't read through all of these comments but I just wanted to point out there was one moment of time in which the virgin Mary truly was "our only hope" and that was when the angel Gabriel announced to her that God had chosen her to be the mother of His Son. All heaven and earth waited with bated breath for her response. In that moment she was/is our only hope. It is possible that all moments exist forever in eternity. When she responded "Let it be to me according to thy word," she fulfilled the hope of all creation.

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  19. Baums - thank you! Yes, beautifully said! I will think about that tomorrow as we sing "True Theotokos we magnify you!

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  20. I spent the first 55 years of my life as a Protestant.
    I joined the OCA, on Holy Saturday of 2015. and haven't looked back.

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  21. I am a Latin Catholic but find a true beauty in the Orthodox Liturgy that I wish we had. I used to "sneak" into the balcony of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco occasionally when I lived there to be "transported" to Heaven. I have enjoyed this article and all its subsequent postings.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I am a Latin Catholic but find a true beauty in the Orthodox Liturgy that I wish we had. I used to "sneak" into the balcony of the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in San Francisco occasionally when I lived there to be "transported" to Heaven. I have enjoyed this article and all its subsequent postings.

    ReplyDelete