What is Orthodox Christianity?

infowarrior1

Hummingbird
What the author @infowarrior1 linked to refers to as sola scriptura appears to be in line with Orthodox teaching. What he dismisses as a caricature of sola scriptura, the guy screaming about how he doesn't need nothing else but the Bible, is exactly what Orthodox are arguing against when we argue against sola scriptura. This is probably because in the US, a huge portion of Orthodox are converts from exactly that sort of Christianity.

What he calls sola scriptura, on the other hand, appears Orthodox. Our source of dogma is divine revelation, as recorded in the scriptures. And because the scriptures are really God's word, we must maintain the original understanding, rather than make up new ones. At least, I think this is what the author was getting at.

Oddly enough, it was the RC theologian St. Thomas Aquinas who coined the term sola scriptura when he wrote that "sola canonica Scriptura est regula fidei." Canonical scripture alone is the rule of faith. We look to the Fathers, not as a source of additional divine revelation, but for the proper explanation of what had already been written in the scripture.

Fr. George Florovsky's article "On Church and Tradition" is the most helpful thing I have read on the subject, and should probably be required reading for anyone involved in Orthodox/Protestant apologetics.

Terminology like this becomes a huge issue in discussions of theology, because different people mean different things by the same words. The people I personally know who say they believe in sola scriptura claim that you could give the Bible to an ignorant savage, and he would figure out the complete Christian faith, on his first read. And that's what I assumed everyone meant by the term until pretty recently.

I believe there should be a better term than "Sola Scriptura" it's very easily misinterpreted.
 

infowarrior1

Hummingbird
I support this view. For example, I don't paint catholics as being the group of kids that went to catholic private school and then never attended church since, or the Kardashian's as shining stars of the Orthodox church. I also certainly wouldn't hope someone thought they could opine on all protestants because they went to a united chuch where the lesbian minister was wearing one of those rainbow scarves.

There are dead churches everywhere, and in living churches there are people there who know the routines and rituals but do not have Jesus in their heart, they are not a temple to the Holy Spirit.

If an missionary baptizes a man in a river in Africa does it only count if the missionary is of the right denomination? Or does only the man who was baptized know that he has accepted the gift of salvation?

There are traps of the devil are everywhere and custom made for everyone, intellectualism for the smart and capable, vice for the simple, Self righteousness for the proud, vanity for the beautiful.

Is worrying about being in the right church just a procrastination about dedication to the Lord? More severely, do we examine ourselves to reflect on the amount of time we spend justifying or denigrating other churches versus sharing our testimony with those who don't go to a church at all? The parable of the talents makes me fear the Lord if I use my salvation to simply "get in the door", be an Christian intellectual and never share the gift I have received from Jesus with those who don't know.
True. Although I cannot count JW or Mormons in the Trinitarian Nicene Orthodox Christian camp.
 

PainPositive

Kingfisher
Gold Member
I understand many protestant denominations are a mess but it seems like our own weaknesses and faults make us think our denomination is to blame. I live in a country that's 90% Orthodox and if you judged the faith by it's followers you could make the same arguments about Orthodoxy being the cause of people here being so messed up. I don't think it's a good idea to judge a denomination by it's followers. Whichever denomination you look at you can find a bunch of people just going through the motions, not attending church at all, failing to spread the Gospel, etc.

I'm willing to practice like Orthodox people do to see if it brings about any lasting change in me. I'm interested to hear more about how Orthodoxy changed the way you guys live.
 

Dr. Howard

Peacock
Gold Member
All good points @Dr. Howard , if all things were equal I doubt I'd be trying to "upgrade" to some other church. But a discontentment with the leftward drift of my church (and the one I attended before that), and especially a sense that my spiritual life had stalled out despite my best efforts, made me ready to look outside the box.

I can understand that completely. The church I belong to is currently debating dropping their membership with the southern baptist convention, they have been members for 50+ years. There is kind of a 'peer pressure' test going on with a number of protestant membership organizations where they are bowing to 'inclusivity and social justice' and only some of their member churches are following suit.

I visited some other evangelical churches in the area of wisconsin that I'm at when I first moved back and I could almost predict what the sermons were going to be based on what the current social justice or democrat talking point was on twitter that week. I prayed fora few months as to whether God wanted me to stay at a church like this to fight against what was going on, or to go to somewhere that was under his hand.

I think that all sects of the church are under attack, and individuals within them have varying walks with God. I think that Orthodox church has been blessed by its tradition that it has been 'unpopular' as a result. I would expect that as its popularity rises it will also see the same internal battles that the catholic and protestant churches have had when NPC types join up for social status.

My favorite such example are the Quakers in colonial america. Their nature made them excellent businessmen and within a few decades it seemed like every major business and political office in PA was run by a Quaker. Non religious people picked up on this and thought...if I join the Quaker Church that will be a way to gain influence. So, they joined the Quakers and watered it down from the inside, soon the pacifist organization was voting to send troops overseas and to the american revolution, Schism and conflict occurred, being a Quaker now meant nothing and the committed had to regroup.

Be on your guard when it becomes "cool" to be Orthodox.
 

Roosh

Cardinal
I understand many protestant denominations are a mess but it seems like our own weaknesses and faults make us think our denomination is to blame. I live in a country that's 90% Orthodox and if you judged the faith by it's followers you could make the same arguments about Orthodoxy being the cause of people here being so messed up. I don't think it's a good idea to judge a denomination by it's followers. Whichever denomination you look at you can find a bunch of people just going through the motions, not attending church at all, failing to spread the Gospel, etc.

I'm willing to practice like Orthodox people do to see if it brings about any lasting change in me. I'm interested to hear more about how Orthodoxy changed the way you guys live.
I think it comes down to where you apply your lens. Many people say they are a "member" of a church but never go. Others go every Sunday. You will definitely see a difference between those two groups. And then among those who go every Sunday, more segments can be created.

For example, everyone in an Orthodox country says they are "Orthodox" because they were baptized, but perhaps less than 10% are active members in the church. If you do want to examine the fruits of a particular denomination, I'd start with its most active members. Unfortunately, most Christians you meet like the identity more than the faith.
 

infowarrior1

Hummingbird
I think it comes down to where you apply your lens. Many people say they are a "member" of a church but never go. Others go every Sunday. You will definitely see a difference between those two groups. And then among those who go every Sunday, more segments can be created.

For example, everyone in an Orthodox country says they are "Orthodox" because they were baptized, but perhaps less than 10% are active members in the church. If you do want to examine the fruits of a particular denomination, I'd start with its most active members. Unfortunately, most Christians you meet like the identity more than the faith.
A better measure is likewise if they are actually reading the Bible and Praying regularly.

I to my shame lapse in terms of not reading daily. Even as God himself said through Jesus Christ that "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God"

Because Jesus our King diligently read the Scriptures. And took the Words to Heart that he was able to deflect and counter all Satanic Temptations.
 

PainPositive

Kingfisher
Gold Member
One suggestion to my protestant brothers out there- You should give Orthodox prayer a try. I don't mean just a quick glance at orthodoxprayer.org but really set up "prayer rule" and follow it. Something about Orthodox prayer really sits well with me and gives some structure to my rambling mind. I feel something going on in my heart that I rarely feel when I pray off the top of my head.
 

Panegyric

Newbie
Hermetic Seal,

I agree with some of what you said about the current state of evangelicalism. Many people are leaving hyper-Charismatic churches over abuses with false anointings, speaking in tongues, and the prosperity gospel. Then you have the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the Kingdom Now, and the Purpose Driven church with their New Age philosophies that are in the spirit of the anti-Christ. We also have problems with five-point Calvinism and neo-Calvinism for much of the same reasons you have mentioned. However, replacing error with error is not the solution.

Peter Farrington of the Coptic Orthodox Church argues against Sola Scriptura and makes the same point you made – that if Sola Scriptura is right, then why did the reformers arrive at different doctrines? It becomes a matter of your interpretation as opposed to what the scripture says. The reformers such as Luther and Zwingli borrowed heavily from Augustine to arrive at their doctrine. John Calvin came in after the reformation but furthered the ideas of the reformers into even more dangerous territory until after his death, at the remonstrance of Dort, his successors took his ideas into heresy. Because they got their doctrine from the patristic fathers, namely Augustine, the protestant reformers never understood the separation from Church and state that Jesus and the apostle Paul preached. Augustine had an interest in keeping Christianity wed to the Roman powers of his day where previously Christians had been persecuted, suffering horrific and torturous death. Thus he instituted such rituals as infant baptism, which was a way to ensure the legacy of Christendom in the Roman Empire. Infant baptism was one of the errors the reformers kept. The reformers got many things right, sola scriptura, sola gracious, and sola fide – but they didn’t go far enough in their reforms, and in a sense went off track altogether. They are the church in Sardis as revealed in Revelation 3. I consider Protestantism to be a light form of Roman Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism to be almost identical to the Orthodox Church with the most obvious exception being their belief in the Papal supremacy which the Orthodox Church rejects, almost.

Farrington, however, believes in an institutionalized interpretation of the scripture as decreed by bishops to be the correct one. However, the orthodox church doesn’t even agree among themselves. Protestants who have become disenfranchised with the major denominations believe that the path to reaching the post-Modern, post-Christian, New Age generation in which we live is through the idea of Ancient-Future Worship, the belief that we must go back to the mystics in order to gain doctrinal knowledge. The problem with the modern churches, emergent or otherwise, is the desire to go to the next big thing. They introduce and implement programmatic teachings or series onto the pulpit instead of expositing from the bible. In the late 90’s shortly after I was saved, a new idea emerged from the late Robert Webber, professor at Wheaton College for 32 years, of worship renewal. This involved learning from the ancient mystics from the past. These were the Catholic mystics such as Thomas a Kempis, Meister Eckhart, and John of the Cross, to name a few. Webber said that we don’t have to leave our own religious traditions in order to adhere to their teachings. Instead, he believed Catholic, Orthodox, and reformed churches should merge into a one true church finding common ground in the faith expressed by classical Christianity. A one-world church is part of the anti-Christ’s agendas. This rediscovery of Catholic mystics led to heresies in the protestant church that we still see today and in fact are gaining popularity more and more, like contemplative prayer and “Christian yoga.” Beware my brothers of falling into this trap. The Apostle said that this would happen in Acts 20:29-30: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” This is what indeed did happen with the Patristic fathers that the Catholic and Orthodox world so highly venerate. Some got some things right, some got some things wrong, and all should be studied cautiously and in light of scriptural Holy Spirit and Apostolic teachings. Farrington and Webber would do well to take heed.

Irenaeus got his doctrine from Polycarp who got it from the Apostle John. But he did not have the same authority of the Apostles. Apostolic authority only exists in the writings of the Apostles as handed down to us through the Holy Bible’s New Testament. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit who allowed them to faithfully record the teachings of Jesus, as Jesus himself promised. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said to his disciples: These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” We don’t get our doctrine from the reformation, mystics, or protestants. We get it from the Bible, the living Word of God, Christ Jesus the logos. Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century started appointing one Bishop in authority, it was not an apostolic doctrine. The idea was that leadership was to be shared (1Timothy 5:17, Acts 6:3-6). Jesus had his 12 apostles, but he had an inner three. Shared leadership was common in ancient near east cultures, including Israel as evidenced by Exodus 3:16 and Ezra 10:8). As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15: ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Evangelicals disagree about many things but they agree on the fundamentals, such as saved by faith through grace, and substitutionary atonement. The gospel is not earned by works nor is it a salvation by imputed by rituals; there is no sacramental soteriology. Unfortunately, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both believe in transubstantiation (the Orthodox Church might recognize this as trans-elementation), the belief that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ. This is idolatrous as it worships the elements as Christ. Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Do this in Remembrance of me. (Luke 22:14-20). It to be done in memorial of his sacrifice on the cross for all mankind, for you and me. This was not meant to be a worship of Christ. The bread and the wine do not become Christ. Jesus, fully God and fully man, offered himself once as a sacrifice as a one-time new covenant offering. Hebrews 9:28 says “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Furthermore, the sacrifice is not sufficient without the suffering. Look at Isaiah 53: 10-11: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. The Catholic and Orthodox mass cannot save, it cannot atone for sins. Icon veneration is a sin. Farrington believes an icon has a metaphysical power that is a window into the spiritual realm and prays to it This is mysticism. The eucharist becomes an icon. However, Jesus said in part “If someone says to you look he is hidden away in a secret room, don’t believe him” (Matt 24:23-27). Where did the apostles ever teach icon veneration?

Protestantism is like the church in Sardis mentioned in Revelation 3:1-5: “I know your works, how you have a good name for being alive, but you are dead.” I don’t consider myself to be protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. I identify with the Anabaptist tradition which can point to a lineage back to the time of the Apostle Paul, and quite apart from the Catholic church who persecuted them. Some believers misinterpret the scriptures, but they have the basics right. Evangelicals who look at Christianity through the lens of Protestantism and think that Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy in the solution are deluded. We need to look at the whole counsel of God as handed down to us in the Holy Bible’s New Testament through the apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit. Brothers, don’t replace error with error. Be cautious of what others have to say. Test everything against scripture. Read the bible inductively. Leave your biases on the table. We are not only in the last days. As I write this, new peace treaties with Israel are being signed. No, we are in the last hour. I urge you brothers, in His name. God bless.
 

DanielH

Woodpecker
Hermetic Seal,

I agree with some of what you said about the current state of evangelicalism. Many people are leaving hyper-Charismatic churches over abuses with false anointings, speaking in tongues, and the prosperity gospel. Then you have the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the Kingdom Now, and the Purpose Driven church with their New Age philosophies that are in the spirit of the anti-Christ. We also have problems with five-point Calvinism and neo-Calvinism for much of the same reasons you have mentioned. However, replacing error with error is not the solution.

Peter Farrington of the Coptic Orthodox Church argues against Sola Scriptura and makes the same point you made – that if Sola Scriptura is right, then why did the reformers arrive at different doctrines? It becomes a matter of your interpretation as opposed to what the scripture says. The reformers such as Luther and Zwingli borrowed heavily from Augustine to arrive at their doctrine. John Calvin came in after the reformation but furthered the ideas of the reformers into even more dangerous territory until after his death, at the remonstrance of Dort, his successors took his ideas into heresy. Because they got their doctrine from the patristic fathers, namely Augustine, the protestant reformers never understood the separation from Church and state that Jesus and the apostle Paul preached. Augustine had an interest in keeping Christianity wed to the Roman powers of his day where previously Christians had been persecuted, suffering horrific and torturous death. Thus he instituted such rituals as infant baptism, which was a way to ensure the legacy of Christendom in the Roman Empire. Infant baptism was one of the errors the reformers kept. The reformers got many things right, sola scriptura, sola gracious, and sola fide – but they didn’t go far enough in their reforms, and in a sense went off track altogether. They are the church in Sardis as revealed in Revelation 3. I consider Protestantism to be a light form of Roman Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism to be almost identical to the Orthodox Church with the most obvious exception being their belief in the Papal supremacy which the Orthodox Church rejects, almost.

Farrington, however, believes in an institutionalized interpretation of the scripture as decreed by bishops to be the correct one. However, the orthodox church doesn’t even agree among themselves. Protestants who have become disenfranchised with the major denominations believe that the path to reaching the post-Modern, post-Christian, New Age generation in which we live is through the idea of Ancient-Future Worship, the belief that we must go back to the mystics in order to gain doctrinal knowledge. The problem with the modern churches, emergent or otherwise, is the desire to go to the next big thing. They introduce and implement programmatic teachings or series onto the pulpit instead of expositing from the bible. In the late 90’s shortly after I was saved, a new idea emerged from the late Robert Webber, professor at Wheaton College for 32 years, of worship renewal. This involved learning from the ancient mystics from the past. These were the Catholic mystics such as Thomas a Kempis, Meister Eckhart, and John of the Cross, to name a few. Webber said that we don’t have to leave our own religious traditions in order to adhere to their teachings. Instead, he believed Catholic, Orthodox, and reformed churches should merge into a one true church finding common ground in the faith expressed by classical Christianity. A one-world church is part of the anti-Christ’s agendas. This rediscovery of Catholic mystics led to heresies in the protestant church that we still see today and in fact are gaining popularity more and more, like contemplative prayer and “Christian yoga.” Beware my brothers of falling into this trap. The Apostle said that this would happen in Acts 20:29-30: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” This is what indeed did happen with the Patristic fathers that the Catholic and Orthodox world so highly venerate. Some got some things right, some got some things wrong, and all should be studied cautiously and in light of scriptural Holy Spirit and Apostolic teachings. Farrington and Webber would do well to take heed.

Irenaeus got his doctrine from Polycarp who got it from the Apostle John. But he did not have the same authority of the Apostles. Apostolic authority only exists in the writings of the Apostles as handed down to us through the Holy Bible’s New Testament. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit who allowed them to faithfully record the teachings of Jesus, as Jesus himself promised. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said to his disciples: These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” We don’t get our doctrine from the reformation, mystics, or protestants. We get it from the Bible, the living Word of God, Christ Jesus the logos. Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century started appointing one Bishop in authority, it was not an apostolic doctrine. The idea was that leadership was to be shared (1Timothy 5:17, Acts 6:3-6). Jesus had his 12 apostles, but he had an inner three. Shared leadership was common in ancient near east cultures, including Israel as evidenced by Exodus 3:16 and Ezra 10:8). As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15: ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Evangelicals disagree about many things but they agree on the fundamentals, such as saved by faith through grace, and substitutionary atonement. The gospel is not earned by works nor is it a salvation by imputed by rituals; there is no sacramental soteriology. Unfortunately, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both believe in transubstantiation (the Orthodox Church might recognize this as trans-elementation), the belief that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ. This is idolatrous as it worships the elements as Christ. Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Do this in Remembrance of me. (Luke 22:14-20). It to be done in memorial of his sacrifice on the cross for all mankind, for you and me. This was not meant to be a worship of Christ. The bread and the wine do not become Christ. Jesus, fully God and fully man, offered himself once as a sacrifice as a one-time new covenant offering. Hebrews 9:28 says “so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Furthermore, the sacrifice is not sufficient without the suffering. Look at Isaiah 53: 10-11: “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. The Catholic and Orthodox mass cannot save, it cannot atone for sins. Icon veneration is a sin. Farrington believes an icon has a metaphysical power that is a window into the spiritual realm and prays to it This is mysticism. The eucharist becomes an icon. However, Jesus said in part “If someone says to you look he is hidden away in a secret room, don’t believe him” (Matt 24:23-27). Where did the apostles ever teach icon veneration?

Protestantism is like the church in Sardis mentioned in Revelation 3:1-5: “I know your works, how you have a good name for being alive, but you are dead.” I don’t consider myself to be protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. I identify with the Anabaptist tradition which can point to a lineage back to the time of the Apostle Paul, and quite apart from the Catholic church who persecuted them. Some believers misinterpret the scriptures, but they have the basics right. Evangelicals who look at Christianity through the lens of Protestantism and think that Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy in the solution are deluded. We need to look at the whole counsel of God as handed down to us in the Holy Bible’s New Testament through the apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit. Brothers, don’t replace error with error. Be cautious of what others have to say. Test everything against scripture. Read the bible inductively. Leave your biases on the table. We are not only in the last days. As I write this, new peace treaties with Israel are being signed. No, we are in the last hour. I urge you brothers, in His name. God bless.
So you've created your own denomination. You're your own pope. Every Christian for 1500 years believed the Eucharist to be the real Body and Blood of Christ. People have been martyred for this belief. But I'm sure you know better than 2000 years of Apostolic tradition. You sure have studied the scriptures well, that I'm sure. The logical conclusion of your reasoning is 3000+ denominations. Instead of starting from scratch, why don't you join the Church Christ Himself created, and said Hell would not prevail against it?
 

PainPositive

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Some believers misinterpret the scriptures, but they have the basics right. Evangelicals who look at Christianity through the lens of Protestantism and think that Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy in the solution are deluded. We need to look at the whole counsel of God as handed down to us in the Holy Bible’s New Testament through the apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit.

The "whole counsel of God" might be "by word, or our epistle." Like it says in the Bible.
2 Thessalonians 2:15 said:
Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.

It's probably not a good idea to ignore the other several dozen interpretations by 30,000 other Bible-believing denominations and Christians, then assume only yours can be the correct one.
We don’t get our doctrine from the reformation, mystics, or protestants. We get it from the Bible, the living Word of God, Christ Jesus the logos.

It seems like you get your doctrine from whatever you choose to be the correct interpretation.

I think this is what Orthodox people call "making yourself a Pope."
 
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PainPositive

Kingfisher
Gold Member
I can see a lot of reasons why so many Orthodox people are so annoyed or angry by protestants. That being said, the nasty attitudes towards protestant Christians on this forum pushed me away from Orthodoxy for over a year. It wasn't until I started hearing the same teachings from a loving and gracious priest did I start to find Orthodoxy compelling.
A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I'm going to need to remember this as I'm speaking with my protestant friends.
 

Hermetic Seal

Kingfisher
Gold Member
Hermetic Seal,
Thus he instituted such rituals as infant baptism, which was a way to ensure the legacy of Christendom in the Roman Empire. Infant baptism was one of the errors the reformers kept. The reformers got many things right, sola scriptura, sola gracious, and sola fide – but they didn’t go far enough in their reforms, and in a sense went off track altogether. They are the church in Sardis as revealed in Revelation 3.

I would've said the same thing about infant baptism... until I started researching it, and saw that baptism is the sign of the covenant which parallels circumcision - which of course everybody understood was initiated from birth. Not to mention various patristic citations:

St Irenaeus (130-202 AD) “all who are born again in God, the infants, and the small children . . . and the mature.”
St Hippolytus (170-235 AD) “first you should baptize the little ones . . . but for those who cannot speak, their parents should speak or another who belongs to their family.”
Origen (b. 185) in his Homily to the Romans, "the Church received from the apostles the tradition of baptizing infants too."

Plus less direct citations from Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John, who describes himself as following Christ 86 years. Lived 65-155 AD; clearly includes infancy in his faith; Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) described children being Christians as well as adults (though not specifically infants); and Justin Martyr (100-165 AD): “many men and women who have been disciples of Christ from childhood.”

Finally, just because infant baptism may have been abused for political purposes centuries later, that doesn't make it any more invalid than adult baptism, which could also be abused. Again, the early attestations to infant baptism are the most important thing here.

I consider Protestantism to be a light form of Roman Catholicism, and Roman Catholicism to be almost identical to the Orthodox Church with the most obvious exception being their belief in the Papal supremacy which the Orthodox Church rejects, almost.

At this point there are vast differences in Orthodox and Roman theology, such as Absolute Divine Simplicity (Rome) vs. Essence/Energies (Orthodox), apparitions and visions in ecstatic prayer (Rome) vs. hesychasm/stillness in prayer (Orthodox), innovative and changing liturgies (Rome) vs. a fixed, traditional liturgy (Orthodox.) Orthodox consider the Roman emphasis on Mary to be quite excessive, and while present in Orthodoxy, it's considerably more understated. The biggest difference is maybe philosophical, with Rome firmly established on medieval scholasticism and rationalism from scholars like Thomas Aquinas, while Orthodox emphasize a more experiential view of theology centered around experiencing God through hesychasm and theosis. But I realize these aren't obvious to onlookers and you don't really see this until you start looking closely at what Orthodox believe.

Farrington, however, believes in an institutionalized interpretation of the scripture as decreed by bishops to be the correct one. However, the orthodox church doesn’t even agree among themselves.

Yes, they do. Most of the issues the various jurisdictions have with each other are political in nature, not theological. See: Old Calendarists/True Orthodox, Russian Old Believers, current schism between Russian church and Constantinople.

These were the Catholic mystics such as Thomas a Kempis, Meister Eckhart, and John of the Cross, to name a few.

Yeah, what I've seen of Catholic mysticism weirds me out (sorry, Anonymous Bosch). What impresses me about the Orthodox approach to the spiritual is how subtle and "quiet" it is, emphasizing great care and discernment around avoiding fantasies in prayer and approaching visions with skepticism. Orthodox "mysticism" has a maturity to it that I never saw in many years of being in non-denominational churches influenced by Pentacostalism.

The Apostle said that this would happen in Acts 20:29-30: “I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.” This is what indeed did happen with the Patristic fathers that the Catholic and Orthodox world so highly venerate. Some got some things right, some got some things wrong, and all should be studied cautiously and in light of scriptural Holy Spirit and Apostolic teachings. Farrington and Webber would do well to take heed.

Even the Orthodox don't think the individual patristic writers got everything right, it's the shared consensus between them that forms the bedrock of Orthodox theological thinking. It's crucial to understand that Orthodox see the Spirit moving through consensus rather than through infallible individuals, hence why there's so much importance placed on the Ecumenical Councils. This decentralized approach to the Spirit's guidance in the church impresses me and seems resilient to abuses by individual bad apple bishops.

In Acts 20.29-30, I see absolutely no reason to associate this with things like infant baptism or the real presence of the Eucharist. It seems far more likely to me that Paul sees the Judaizers as the immediate threat, or Gnosticism, which is consistent with teachers who try to "draw away the disciples after themselves," implying that they will be challenged by those who try to pull members away from the church into their own factions (Jewish synagogues and secret societies/breakaway sects, respectively.)

Irenaeus got his doctrine from Polycarp who got it from the Apostle John. But he did not have the same authority of the Apostles. Apostolic authority only exists in the writings of the Apostles as handed down to us through the Holy Bible’s New Testament. They were inspired by the Holy Spirit who allowed them to faithfully record the teachings of Jesus, as Jesus himself promised. In John 14:25-26, Jesus said to his disciples: These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” We don’t get our doctrine from the reformation, mystics, or protestants. We get it from the Bible, the living Word of God, Christ Jesus the logos. Ignatius of Antioch in the 2nd century started appointing one Bishop in authority, it was not an apostolic doctrine. The idea was that leadership was to be shared (1Timothy 5:17, Acts 6:3-6). Jesus had his 12 apostles, but he had an inner three. Shared leadership was common in ancient near east cultures, including Israel as evidenced by Exodus 3:16 and Ezra 10:8). As Jesus said in Matthew 7:15: ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”

Holding the Bible as the sole source of Christian doctrine is a presupposition, and one that didn't exist for the first fifteen centuries of the church. However, we are told in 1 Timothy 3.15 that the Church is the "rock and pillar of truth." And if you try to cite 2 Timothy 3.16 as a counterpoint, I should point out that at the time the New Testament wasn't yet written, which would exclude the NT scriptures as even being within the scope of what Paul means by "scripture." And I'll also preempt any attempt to play this card: we're told that Scripture is good for teaching, reproof, correction, etc. but nowhere does it say that it is the only source for those things.

You can't declare the bishop "wasn't an apostolic doctrine" because the New Testament epistles are almost all written in response to an initial letter to the apostle to ask for help with some issue. The epistles contain important truth but they're pastoral in nature, addressing problems within the churches, and do not constitute a full explication of all Christian belief, particularly concerning worship and church organization, which would be encompassed by the "traditions" (2 Thessalonians 2.15) taught by the Apostles as they founded churches on their missionary journeys.

Evangelicals disagree about many things but they agree on the fundamentals, such as saved by faith through grace, and substitutionary atonement.

No, they don't. The God of Calvinism is utterly different from an Arminian conception of God in both actions and intent. That directly impacts how salvation is understood and what "saved by faith through grace" (a statement with which the Orthodox fully agree) means. They also don't agree on how the Atonement works, with important implications depending on if you hold to the Ransom, Penal Substitution, Christus Victor, Satisfaction, Governmental, or other views on this topic. I would argue that the sacraments are also a "fundamental" with important implications, and Protestants don't agree on the meaning of Baptism and the Eucharist either (and haven't, from the start of the Reformation, as the ill-fated Marburg Colloquy shows.)

The gospel is not earned by works nor is it a salvation by imputed by rituals; there is no sacramental soteriology.

Sacraments aren't "works." "Works" as Paul (and Jesus) understand them are actions performed in order to fulfill the demands of the Mosaic law, which increased over time as Rabbinic tradition introduced new demands (like limiting the number of steps you can take on the Sabbath) which weren't in the Mosaic law and which served as a type of status symbol, which Jesus denounces throughout his ministry.

The Orthodox understanding of baptism, chrismation, communion, etc. is no more a "work" than praying the Sinner's Prayer is a "work," or singing worship songs and praying is a "work."

The problem with the "works of the Law" is that they can't change you. Their thrust is negative: "Do this, or else." But Christian practices like prayer and fasting (and the sacraments, like eucharist and confession) are significant, not because doing them impresses God, but because by doing them, we open ourselves up to God to speak into, and work through, us. I can attest to my own experience of doing Orthodox prayer for a few months now: it really works, and the benefits, on my life anyway, have been substantial. If Orthodox prayer didn't work, I don't think I'd be pursuing Orthodoxy at all right now.

Unfortunately, the Orthodox and Catholic Churches both believe in transubstantiation (the Orthodox Church might recognize this as trans-elementation), the belief that the bread and the wine become the body and blood of Christ. This is idolatrous as it worships the elements as Christ. Jesus said at the Last Supper: “Do this in Remembrance of me. (Luke 22:14-20). It to be done in memorial of his sacrifice on the cross for all mankind, for you and me. This was not meant to be a worship of Christ...The Catholic and Orthodox mass cannot save, it cannot atone for sins.

I don't know where you're getting the idea that Orthodox "worship" the Eucharist elements. Partaking of them is considered an act of worship, which is directed toward God. It doesn't directly "save," in the way you think of the Sinner's Prayer as "saving," but Jesus does say in John 6.53: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you." That seems at least to imply that partaking of communion is part of the lifestyle of somebody who is saved. I would be extremely hesitant to downplay the importance of communion.

If Jesus really intended for the Eucharist to be His actual body and blood (in some mystical sense of being), what else could he possibly have said to make it any clearer? John 6 makes it quite clear that Jesus is emphatic about this. 1 Corinthians 11.27-31 warns of the danger of partaking in an unworthy manner. If it's just a symbolic gesture with no real importance, then who cares? Even as a Protestant these passages always bothered me because they clearly contradicted contrived attempts to explain away their obvious meaning. As a result, I was probably the only person in my non-denominational church who believed in the Real Presence. A purely Biblical case for the Real Presence can easily be made.

Of course, this isn't even getting into the fact that before the Protestant Reformation, everybody thought the Eucharist was the body and blood of Christ. Justin Martyr's First Apology and Irenaeus' Against Heresies are some early patristic writings attesting to the True Presence. Ignatius, ordained Bishop of Antioch in 69 AD, criticized the Docetists, a proto-Gnostic sect one of the first heretical groups, for their denial of the Eucharist: "They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins..." For me, this is the killing blow for many of the Protestant distinctives. I don't believe that the Church could have gotten a massive number of doctrines completely wrong for 1500 years and believe that the "...gates of hell shall not prevail" against the Church in any meaningful sense. It casts the Holy Spirit as utterly incompetent in guarding His church.

Yes, the Church faces trials and crises, like Arianism, Nestorianism, Iconoclasm, etc., but ultimately the Spirit prevails and the Church overcomes these trials eventually. The Orthodox understanding of this seems far more consistent with Matthew 16.18 than the Protestant one, where the Church was drowned in egregious error for 1000-1500 years, depending on who you ask.

What I realized is that my view of the Church for most of my life was extremely low, viewing it as basically an add-on, a bonus, to God's Plan Of Personal Salvation, subject wholly to personal preference. But this said a lot more about my Westernized, hyper-individualistic worldview than what the Bible actually said. The Church is more than just a group of Christians who decide to get together when they feel like it, it's the structure around which Christian faith is constructed, and without it, chaos and instability result - as we see from 400 years of Protestant fruit. While there has been good, like missions and evangelization, it's come at the cost of frequent schism and conflict.

Protestantism is like the church in Sardis mentioned in Revelation 3:1-5: “I know your works, how you have a good name for being alive, but you are dead.” I don’t consider myself to be protestant, Catholic or Orthodox. I identify with the Anabaptist tradition which can point to a lineage back to the time of the Apostle Paul, and quite apart from the Catholic church who persecuted them.

I hate to break it to you, but Anabaptists are Protestants too. Anabaptism started in the 16th century, owes more to Ulrich Zwingli than Paul, and the various weird schismatic groups like Montanists (Non-Trinitarian, Charismatic, Proto-Pentecostal), Docetists (Proto-Gnostic, Jesus Was A Hologram), Paulicians (Non-Trinitarian, rejected Old Testament, rejected sacraments, rejected cross, Manichaean Gnosticism) don't even believe the same things as each other, let alone later Reformation-era groups. This same thing was attempted by Baptist Landmarkism (as typified in The Trail Of Blood), but is widely rejected today as spurious nonsense with no basis in history.

I have a lot of respect for Anabaptist descended groups like Mennonites, Amish, and others who have maintained strong Christian communities in spite of some strange beliefs. But I just don't think there's any good evidence that they have any connection to the early Church.

Some believers misinterpret the scriptures, but they have the basics right. Evangelicals who look at Christianity through the lens of Protestantism and think that Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy in the solution are deluded. We need to look at the whole counsel of God as handed down to us in the Holy Bible’s New Testament through the apostles inspired by the Holy Spirit. Brothers, don’t replace error with error. Be cautious of what others have to say. Test everything against scripture. Read the bible inductively. Leave your biases on the table.

The problem is that we can't just read the Bible in a vacuum. If God intended for that to be the case, interpreting it would be easy and there wouldn't be a vast number of denominations with significant theological difference between them (and I would expect the Bible to say a lot more about how worship should be conducted, like the Mosaic Law did.) Sola Scriptura would be persuasive if the Catholic/Orthodox churches had their doctrines, and then all or almost all of the Protestants believed the same thing, the obvious truth of scripture that was being suppressed by those aforementioned churches. But of course this is not the case, and never has been, right from the start of the Reformation.

We can't "just read the Bible", we need to read it and understand it in the context of how the Church has historically understood its doctrines. If a doctrine suddenly appears in the 16th century with a "Biblical" basis yet there's no support or evidence for it within the preceding Christian tradition, like Sola Scriptura, we have good reason to be skeptical of this innovation. The strongest Christian doctrines, like Trinitarianism, not only accord with Scripture but also are supported and defended by the patristic writers and the Church throughout history.
 
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Roosh

Cardinal
I can see a lot of reasons why so many Orthodox people are so annoyed or angry by protestants. That being said, the nasty attitudes towards protestant Christians on this forum pushed me away from Orthodoxy for over a year. It wasn't until I started hearing the same teachings from a loving and gracious priest did I start to find Orthodoxy compelling.


I'm going to need to remember this as I'm speaking with my protestant friends.
In the forum's transition away from PUA, I agree that there was a period of prideful discussions when it came to spiritual matters, but a new rule was implemented and I think the past six months have had calm and productive conversations. Reach out to me or use the report feature if you believe things are getting out of hand.
 

Wutang

Hummingbird
Gold Member
A big point of contention between Luther who is pretty much the closest thing Protestantism has to a Pope other leaders of the Reformation was that he believed that Christ was present in the bread and wine. I finished this book on Luther's thought that's put out by this evangelical publishing company (which seems to have a bias in favor of Calvinism) called Crossway and in the book, the author even claims that Luther wouldn't consider a lot of modern day evangelicals to be Christians because of their thoughts on communion.
 
A big point of contention between Luther who is pretty much the closest thing Protestantism has to a Pope other leaders of the Reformation was that he believed that Christ was present in the bread and wine. I finished this book on Luther's thought that's put out by this evangelical publishing company (which seems to have a bias in favor of Calvinism) called Crossway and in the book, the author even claims that Luther wouldn't consider a lot of modern day evangelicals to be Christians because of their thoughts on communion.

I know several evangelicals of the rabidly anti-Catholic variety who really look up to Luther, and I used to encourage them to start reading his works. A couple did, and they were completely scandalized that he believed almost everything that they hated Roman Catholics for. Eventually I realized my encouragement had messed up their whole faith and I felt awful about having inadvertently turned them away from Christ.
 

NickK

Sparrow
I know several evangelicals of the rabidly anti-Catholic variety who really look up to Luther, and I used to encourage them to start reading his works. A couple did, and they were completely scandalized that he believed almost everything that they hated Roman Catholics for. Eventually I realized my encouragement had messed up their whole faith and I felt awful about having inadvertently turned them away from Christ.
Don't feel bad. They were never close to Christ to begin with. They were close to a "Christ" of their imagination.
 
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