We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Eastern Orthodoxy - Is It Really Orthodox?

Both the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches consider themselves to be the one true Christian church, both claiming direct apostolic succession, to the earliest church established by Paul. Unlike Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy “is composed of several self-governing ecclesial bodies, each geographically and nationally distinct but theologically unified. Each self-governing (or autocephalous) body, often but not always encompassing a nation, is shepherded by a synod of bishops whose duty, among other things, is to preserve and teach the Apostolic and patristic traditions and related church practices.” (Wikipedia, Orthodox Church). “It is not a monarchy with one all-powerful ruler at the top, but ‘an oligarchy of patriarchs,’ based on the body of bishops and responsible to local or general (ecumenical) church councils. No one patriarch is responsible to any other patriarch; yet all are within the jurisdiction of an ecumenical council of all the churches in communion with the patriarch of Constantinople, who holds the title Ecumenical Patriarch.” (Frank S. Mead, Handbook of Denominations, p.183).

To better understand the nature of Eastern Orthodoxy compared to Roman Catholicism in the way they operate as organizations, Patrick Reardon gives a good explanation:

“A single illustration may serve the purpose. When monks from Rome established their mission in England, centered at Canterbury, near the end of the sixth century, they continued to remain under the immediate jurisdiction of the Roman Pope and their language in worship continued to be Latin. The same pattern attended the missionary work in Gaul, Germany, Scandinavia and elsewhere in the West. Latin was the language of worship in all these churches (until Vatican II in the early 1960’s), and Rome endeavored with varying success to gain and retain appointment of local bishops. By and large the latter is still the case today. Such centralization and uniformity did not characterize the historical development of Eastern Orthodoxy, as we may see in the matter of language. Notwithstanding the dominance of the Greek tongue throughout the Byzantine Empire, there had always been Eastern Christians who worshiped in Syrian, Ethiopian, Coptic and eventually Arabic; so as Orthodox e.g.) missionaries moved northward it was understood from the beginning that the native tongues of the new regions would be the languages used for worship and life of the new congregations. In fact, since these native languages had never previously been written down, the missionaries themselves were obliged to elaborate a new alphabet for them and commenced their literature from scratch. One should keep in mind that between the Slavic mission of 863 and the Alaskan mission of 1793 the Orthodox Church put the Gospel into nearly 3 dozen languages that had never been written down before.” (The History of Orthodox Christianity, pp. 23-24)

This idea of keeping the individual cultures where the Gospel was preached by Eastern Orthodoxy leads to branches known as “Russian Orthodox,” “Greek Orthodox,” etc. There have even been schisms over the centuries based on some doctrinal issues so that there are also sects called Oriental Orthodox (Coptic and Syrian Orthodox, e.g.).

In my articles about Roman Catholicism, I discussed their teaching authority, baptism, sin, purgatory, indulgences, the Eucharist, Marian dogmas, iconography and the saints. For this article about Eastern Orthodoxy, I will address the same issues.

Teaching Authority:
The Eastern Orthodox Church does not have a papacy, and therefore has no papal infallibility. However, they do teach that scripture alone is not sufficient, rather they add to Scripture “Holy Tradition.” Their authority is “the scriptures as interpreted by the seven ecumenical councils of the church. Orthodoxy also relies heavily on the writings of early Greek fathers such as Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great.” (http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/orthodoxy.htm)

The seven ecumenical councils are also recognized by Roman Catholics and Protestants, and are as follows: The Council of Nicea, 325,. the Council of Constantinople, 381, the Council of Ephesus, 431, the Council of Chalcedon, 451, the Council of Constantinople II, 553, the Council of Constantinople III, 680, and the Council of Nicea II, 787.

Baptism:
The Orthodox Church teaches that baptism is the initiator of the salvation experience, and they practice baptism by full immersion, never sprinkling; pouring is permitted in extreme circumstances. As with Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy believes baptism is necessary for salvation, that baptism washes away “ancestral sin,” and for this reason baptizes infants.

“Baptism is immediately followed by chrismation and Holy Communion at the next Divine Liturgy, regardless of age. Although baptism is a separate mystery (sacrament) from chrismation, normally when it is said that someone "has been baptized" this is understood to include not only baptism but chrismation as well. In some practices, first communion is also administered at once. The Orthodox Church makes no judgment concerning the efficacy or validity of baptisms performed by other denominations, as regards people who are members of those respective denominations. The precise status and significance of such baptisms has not been revealed by God to the Orthodox Church; however, as a practical matter, they are treated as non-efficacious unless and until the person joins the Orthodox Church. Persons coming to Orthodoxy from other denominations, and who had been baptized with water in the name of the Trinity, are generally not received by holy baptism, but instead through holy chrismation, after which their former baptism is deemed to be efficacious.” (http://orthodoxwiki.org/) (Chrismation is the anointing of oil for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.)

As discussed with Roman Catholicism, according to the Bible only faith is necessary for salvation. Also, the Bible does not say one has to be a member of a particular denomination for baptism to be valid. And, since baptism is a public symbol of a proclamation of faith in Christ, baptizing infants is pointless.

Sin and salvation:
Unlike Catholicism’s teaching of sin being either venial or mortal, the Orthodox Church has a more biblical view. Here is an interesting explanation: “The result of sin, then, was a blurring of the image of God and a barrier between God and man. The situation in which mankind has been ever since is an unnatural, less human state, which ends in the most unnatural aspect: death. Salvation, then, is a process not of justification or legal pardon, but of reestablishing man's communion with God. This process of repairing the unity of human and divine is sometimes called "deification." This term does not mean that humans become gods but that humans join fully with God's divine life.”  (http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/denominations/orthodoxy.htm)

Purgatory:
The Eastern Orthodox Church does not have a doctrine on purgatory as a place. They do believe in the possibility that the dead can have a change of their situation based on prayers by those living. This, of course, contradicts Hebrews 9:27.

Indulgences:
The Eastern Orthodox Church has never practiced the use of indulgences the way Roman Catholicism has throughout history.

“The Eastern Orthodox Churches believe one can be absolved from sins by the Sacred Mystery of Confession, which in the East is preceded by a period of fasting. Because of differences in the theology of salvation, indulgences for the remission of temporal punishment of sin do not exist in Eastern Orthodoxy, but until the twentieth century there existed in some places a practice of absolution certificates (συγχωροχάρτια – synchorochartia). While some of these certificates were connected with any patriarch's decrees lifting for the living or the dead some serious ecclesiastical penalty, including excommunication, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, with the approval of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, had the sole privilege, because of the expense of maintaining the Holy Places and paying the many taxes levied on them, of distributing such documents in large numbers to pilgrims or sending them elsewhere, sometimes with a blank space for the name of the beneficiary, living or dead, an individual or a whole family, for whom the prayers would be read. Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem Dositheos Notaras (1641–1707) wrote: "It is an established custom and ancient tradition, known to all, that the Most Holy Patriarchs give the absolution certificate (συγχωροχάρτιον – synchorochartion) to the faithful people … they have granted them from the beginning and still do." A Russian Orthodox source says that these certificates were in use among Greek Orthodox until the middle of the twentieth century, and were ‘certificates which absolved from sins, which anyone could obtain, often for a specified sum of money. The absolution granted by these papers, according to Christos Yannaras, had no connection with any participation of the faithful in the Mystery of Penance, nor in the Mystery of the Eucharist’. The same source interprets the Western indulgence also as absolution from sin, not as remission of temporal punishment.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indulgence)

While this is much different than the Roman Catholic view, indulgences are still unbiblical.

Eucharist:
Eastern Orthodoxy’s Eucharist is virtually identical to the Roman Catholic Church. They believe, as do Romanists, that the bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ. Unlike Romanists, Orthodox communicants usually receive both elements.

As with the Roman Church, Orthodoxy claims the Eucharist is a sacrifice of Christ. They teach that, although Christ was sacrificed once, the elements turn into his sacrificed body/blood to be offered to God as a propitiatory sacrifice, and although all the events of sacrifice are not repeated (incarnation, last supper, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension), they are indeed present in the Eucharist. All comments made previously in relation to the Roman Catholic mass are also applicable to Eastern Orthodoxy; the teaching is patently unbiblical and idolatrous.

Mary:
Like Romanism, Orthodoxy adheres to the Third Ecumenical Council in 431, giving the title “Mother of God” to Mary, and, like Rome, uses the title to exalt her. They also believe in the perpetual virginity of Mary in the same manner as Romanists, including the teaching that even her hymen remained intact while giving birth to Jesus.

Again like Romanists, Orthodox Christians revere Mary to the point of idolatry, saying she is to be highly honored. While they reject the doctrine of “Immaculate Conception,” some say she was free from actual sin, some say she never sinned and some say she died sinless. So even without a specific doctrine, it appears that most Orthodox Christians believe Mary was sinless in some fashion.

Eastern Orthodoxy denies the Roman Catholic dogma of the Assumption. However, they have a very similar teaching called the “Dormition” (Mary’s “falling asleep”).

“Eastern Orthodox Christians believe that Mary died a natural death, that her soul was received by Christ upon death, and that her body was resurrected on the third day after her death and that she was taken up into heaven bodily in anticipation of the general resurrection. Her tomb was found empty on the third day. "...Orthodox tradition is clear and unwavering in regard to the central point [of the Dormition]: the Holy Virgin underwent, as did her Son, a physical death, but her body – like His – was afterwards raised from the dead and she was taken up into heaven, in her body as well as in her soul. She has passed beyond death and judgement, and lives wholly in the Age to Come. The Resurrection of the Body ... has in her case been anticipated and is already an accomplished fact. That does not mean, however, that she is dissociated from the rest of humanity and placed in a wholly different category: for we all hope to share one day in that same glory of the Resurrection of the Body which she enjoys even now.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assumption_of_Mary)

Review my comments correcting Rome’s teachings about Mary and they can be applied also to Eastern Orthodoxy’s teachings.

Iconography and the Saints:
Even moreso than Rome, Eastern Orthodoxy is heavily into iconography. This is based on the outcome of the Seventh Ecumenical Council, which supported veneration of icons.

“An Orthodox believer does not consider these images of Jesus and the saints the works of men but as manifestations of the heavenly ideal. They are a kind of window between the earthly and the celestial worlds. Through the icons the heavenly beings manifest themselves to the worshiping congregation and unite with it. Thus, it is impossible to understand Orthodox worship apart from icons. In Orthodoxy the idea of image is the key to understanding the ways God with man. Man is created ‘in the image of God’: he carries the icon of God within himself.” (Bruce Shelly, Church History in Plain Language, p. 142) “An Orthodox cherishes and kisses an image of Jesus or Mary or St. Nicholas for much the same reason that he cherishes and kisses a photograph of his mother, his grandfather or Aunt Dot.” (Reardon, The History of Orthodox Christianity, p. 17)

The problem with iconography was discussed in my article on Roman Catholicism; it is idolatry. It is venerating images of what the imagination says Christ and others would look like. While using the imagination to form a likeness of a person may be condoned, a likeness of Christ, who is God incarnate, must not be imagined. Without knowing what he looked like, everyone could have their own ideas and imagine all sorts of images which could be anywhere from sober to blasphemous. The making of an image of God for worship is a violation of the commandment.

As with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy encourages prayers to the saints.

Summary:
As with the Roman Catholic Church, we have seen that Eastern Orthodoxy practices some of the same unbiblical teachings. They deny the sufficiency of Scripture, teach baptism as necessary for salvation and that baptism itself has salvific value, teach that the dead can be prayed for to improve their condition, and practice a form of indulgences. Additionally, they teach the continual sacrifice of Christ in their Eucharist, exalt Mary as a sinless, perpetual virgin to be venerated, and practice idolatrous iconography and unbiblical prayers to the saints. For these reasons, while not as unbiblical as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy still must be considered a cultic sect of Christianity.

22 comments:

Marie said...

Good post, Glenn. I've known a few Orthodox believers over the course of time who truly do love God and I believe may very well be saved, but it seems to me it's because they've been reading their Bibles and rather in spite of all the stuff the church has added to the faith. In my experience (mostly Bulgaria), Orthodox are extremely superstitious, and many dabble in various forms of occultism, thinking it's Christianity. Of course, you go into an Orthodox church in this country and it's quite different; depending on the type, sometimes you even hear some preaching.

Re: baptism - to clarify, they baptize little kids by immersion (it looks like a big cauldrom, and they heat the water up so it's tolerable for the baby), but never adults. Adults (like my husband) are baptised by intinction. They definitely get your head a little wetter than the RCC would, but it's still pouring. Three times; very generously over your head, leaning over the baptsitry...like you're getting a shampoo. :)

The whole Christotokos vs. Theotokos thing regarding Mary started in the 4th century, to combat the Arian heresy, believe it or not. The Church upped the ante to counter the heretical teaching that Jesus was not God, and so they changed Mary's "official title" to uphold the fact that it was, truly, God in the flesh Who she gave birth to. I'm pretty sure I read that in John Macarthur's sermon archive...at any rate, that's how it started; but the meaning "Mother of God" has taken on is, of course, blasphemous. But I don't think that's what Anathasius et al. had in mind.

The thing with the Orthodox Church is that in some parts of the world, (ie the Balkans and Russia), sometimes it's the lesser of two (or more) evils! Bulgaria, for example, has become so over-run by cults - everything from Children of God to the Mormons, Hare Krishna and Word of Faith heretics - that sometimes I wish they had all stayed Orthodox so at least their Christology would be correct (and they'd have the Creed straight, at least). Of course, we'd have to overlook several hundred years of Orthodox persecution of Protestants, but at least the people would have a chance of finding the Lord (if they had their Bibles open and stopped the divination). But the problems there are too many and complicated to get into in a comment box. Great research!

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

WOW, Marie! You must have been reading almost immediately after I posted it! After I posted I went back and found a photo to add.

This post was essentially the doctrine part on my section about Eastern Orthodoxy in the apologetics course I'm writing. I actually did the history of Western and Eastern Churches together, then split the two to explain the problems with their doctrine. I finished yesterday (my previous posts about Rome were from the course also).

I know that the whole idea of Theotokos was to define the divinity of Christ, but the Roman and Byzantine churches both ended up using the idea more to exalt Mary than to define Christ as God.

Everything I read about baptism was that they only pour when immersion is impractical. I don't know how that plays out in real life, but there are several sites on the net which are official E.O. stuff where I read about doctrine.

I do think E.O. is closer to the truth than Rome, and that you're more likely to find true Christians there. But their mysticism really bothers me, and I can see how it would lead into occult stuff.

And I didn't even go in to the monks!

St. Seraphim's Fellowship said...

I didn't think you would post my comment! I was right!
May God Bless You!

Seraphim

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

St Seraphim -
This was the only comment I got, so there was nothing not posted. Try again?

Drew said...

Wow, I was thinking you needed to do the Orthodox next and then you went ahead and did it.

The screwiest thing about the Orthodox, though, is something that you only briefly alluded to: They do not believe in the substitutionary atonement. Thus as far as I can tell, they are 100% for justification by works, even more than the Catholics and such. Basically, they do not believe that Jesus died for our sins.

Marie's comment about their superstition and mysticism also seems to be correct, based on my (somewhat limited) knowledge of them.

I don't really agree that pictures of Jesus are immoral -- unless you're trying to worship them. In fact, worshipping a picture of Jesus would be wrong even if you knew with absolute certainty that the picture *was* an accurate depiction.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Drew,

I didn't see anything in my research which said they didn't believe in the substitutionary atonement. It all seemed pretty "orthodox" in that way. But then, I didn't read stuff anti-Orthodox, rather I read books describing their teachings, and what appeared to be official stuff on the net by several sources.

As for images of Jesus; as I pointed out in my item on Romanism, do you think your wife would be pleased if you were carrying a photo of a model in your wallet, and showing it affection, claiming it represented her?

Marie said...

@ Drew -

I'm not sure I would go that far, as to say they don't believe in substitutionary atonement. The Church Councils and Nicene Creed definitely uphold that doctrine, even if it is somewhat skewed by adding all the ritual, ecclesiastical laws, etc. etc. to it. I have witnessed and spoken with many Orthodox (mostly from the "Old World"; hence, they have heard no preaching and had virtually no doctrinal instruction, and they know that Christ died for their sins. You just have to unpack that for them, and since we're all reading the same Bible, it's not that hard. (Frankly, as a biblical counselor, I'd rather counsel and Orthodox than a Pentecostal any day of the week.)

Several years ago, my husband and I were watching the Bulgarian TV thru the Internet one Easter Sunday. (It was one of those rare Easters when the Eastern and Western dates coincide.)Now, Bulgarian media has a very biased policy on covering Evangelical or Protestant things - "Either say something negative; or nothing at all." So this particular Easter, they were all kinds of "ecumenical" - showing how both Orthodox and Catholics were celebrating Resurrection Sunday together. Absolutely no mention of Protestants, which greatly outnumber Catholics in Bulgaria. HOWEVER. I was willing to overlook that slight, because of what they showed: besides many church rituals and parades, a sound-byte of an Orthodox priest, in full regalia, preaching the following: "...we celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ....His blood was shed for the forgiveness of sin...His blood is sufficient for all who come unto Him..."

Now THAT, as I said to my husband, was a powerful witness -- 7 million people, most of whom had never heard the Gospel, heard that from a priest on Easter Sunday. Interesting; you would NEVER heard such a statement made on American national TV! They always cut out the parts about Jesus. At least in Eastern Europe, Resurrection Sunday is a pretty big deal. I was so glad that the priest shared the Gospel, even in sound-byte format.

Drew said...

@Glenn

//I didn't see anything in my research which said they didn't believe in the substitutionary atonement.//

Probably the reason you didn't read it is because it's not an *official* position. Unlike the Catholics, the Orthodox don't have many official positions. But the Orthodox I've come across online have uniformly rejected the doctrine and have acted as though most of their other people did as well.

For example, this snippet from "Atonement (substitutionary view" on Wikipedia states, "The doctrine is not accepted by the Eastern Orthodox churches, who normatively teach John Cassian's doctrine of theosis."

When you are using Theosis for salvation, "Theosis" is just code for salvation-by-moral-living, where Jesus saves us from hell only in the sense that he lived a good moral example for us to follow.


//As for images of Jesus; as I pointed out in my item on Romanism, do you think your wife would be pleased if you were carrying a photo of a model in your wallet, and showing it affection, claiming it represented her?//

I think it's a bad analogy because whereas marriages are based in part on physical attraction, we are not actually married to Jesus. Even if we had a statue of Jesus carved based on actual, video footage of Jesus's appearance, you can bet that he would find it far more sinful to worship that statue than to carry around an inaccurate picture that we did not worship but which we merely used to illustrate a religious point (e.g., stained-glass windows, pictures in children's Bibles, actor in the Jesus Film, etc.).


@Marie

Some of the Orthodox are saved, and I wouldn't argue that you necessarily have to understand the substitutionary atonement to be saved, anyway. But the problem with most of the Orthodox, as I see it, is that rather than trusting in Jesus to give them eternal life freely (which would get them saved), they believe that Jesus basically offered them a good moral example which they must emulate in order to save themselves (sanctification/theosis).

Essentially, understanding the Substitutionary Atonement makes it easier to get saved, and failure to understand it makes it harder.

And the sad thing is that some Western Christians have abandoned Protestantism in favor of Orthodoxy merely because they like all the cool rituals and mysticism. They think Orthodoxy is a better alternative choice than Catholicism, when imo Orthodoxy is actually worse.

You mentioned Pentacostals, but they're not a real good comparison to make because Pentacostals also tend to be works-based.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi Drew,

Thanks for that information on substitutionary attonement. Never came across "theosis" but I was really only looking for certain issues as compared to Romanism. In a way, doesn't Rome really practice the same thing?

And no, the analogy of a photo pretending to be my wife is NOT a bad analogy, rather it is the perfect analogy. The point is, that whether it's for adoration or not, if I carried around a photo of another woman and told people it represented my wife, that would be a lie. So if we make any image of Christ and say it represents Him, that would also be a lie. And lying about God is much more serious than lying about a wife. And there are many, many representations of Christ, 90% of which depict him as a blue-eyed, light-skinned anglo-saxon, although I have seen some where he is depicted as a black African!

I think images done solely for the purpose of story-telling (as drawings/paintings of Jesus were originally used) is okay, but the E.O. and RCC use them for adoration - i.e. worship - which makes it idolatry.

Marie said...

"When you are using Theosis for salvation, "Theosis" is just code for salvation-by-moral-living, where Jesus saves us from hell only in the sense that he lived a good moral example for us to follow.

Drew, thank you for this - I didn't realize this distinction. This is important, and I will be sure and keep it in mind when/if I am counseling or sharing the Gospel with an Orthodox person whi is truly seeking God. In biblical counseling, naturally the counselee must have a very firm handle on justification before she can begin to grasp sanctification, so the implications of this misunderstanding are huge.

Yes, re: deconversions to the EO church - I recall reading about a couple of former Campus Crusade for Christ staff persons who did just that, because some streams of Evangelicalism have become so aberrant that the Gospel is nonexistent and they don't stand for anything. A sad commentary on the state of Christiandom (especially in this country) when believers are swapping one misinterpretation of the Gospel out for another!

john said...

Hello,

I am a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy.

May the Lord Jesus Christ bless all of you.

Yes, Eastern Orthodoxy is Orthodox.

It is actually the ancient faith of our fathers.

Here are Scottish bagpipes being played at our Holy Theophany:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7AQ3umef_8&feature=related

The Celtic bagpipes were played at the court of Constantinople, and Celts lived throughout the Roman Empire, as far east as Asia Minor (modern day Turkey).

All British, English, Scottish, and Irish believers in the first millenium were Orthodox.

The British/English/Irish Saints such as St Patrick, St Cuthbert, King Alfred the Great, Edward the Confessor, St Brigid, and St Theodore were all Orthodox.

St Theodore was the first Archbishop of Canterbury. He was a Greek from Tarsus in Asia Minor, the same place St Paul was from.

England remained Orthodox up until 1066 A.D. when the new Papal faith was imposed on the people by the Norman Frank William the Conqueror and all the English bishops were killed off as well as 20% of the English population.

At this time the Roman Catholic filioque heresy was imposed on the English Church. This doctrine was declared by the Frankish Emperor Charlemagne to be "necessary for salvation". It is still held by the Roman Catholic Church and many Protestant churches to this day.

The idea of substitutionary atonement comes from the Roman Catholic bishop Anselm, the second archbishop of Canterbury installed by the Norman Franks after the conquest.

His was a feudal idea based on the idea of the Son suffering on the Cross to appease and provide satisfaction to the Father, whose honour was offended by man's sin.

It is from this Roman Catholic bishop's feudal idea that the modern Protestant idea of substitutionary atonement derived from.

It is interesting that C. S. Lewis's mentor George MacDonald utterly rejected this whole idea of substitutionary atonement, which moved him closer to the Orthodox view. MacDonald's works are found in evangelical Christian bookstores.

It is also interesting to note that the phenomenon of witch hunts was never found in the Church during the first millenium, nor in Orthodox lands, but it is a phenomenon found in both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism to this day.

It began occurring in Roman Catholic lands soon after the Roman Catholic Church's schism from the Orthodox Church in the 11th Century.

Sarah Palin's church for example, supports a Pastor Muthee who was involved in driving out a witch from some town in Africa.

However, the Synod of St Patrick c. 500 A.D. declared that it was a heresy to say that someone was a witch, and that anyone who did say so should be removed from the Holy Church.

Now who are you going to believe is a true Christian, Sarah Palin or Saint Patrick?

It is also interesting to note that both Protestantism and Roman Catholicism to this day have a sort of "Crusader mentality".

For example, there are George Bush's crusade, the Billy Graham crusades, Ron Luce's Teen Mania "Battlecry", Sarah Palin's church's "spiritual warfare" mentality, and the 19th Century Protestant crusade against alcohol which ended in Prohibition.

The Crusaders emerged in Roman Catholic lands after the schism from Orthodoxy as well.

If people would become Orthodox, they would stop being "crusaders", because repentance in Orthodoxy means repenting every day, not just at a "sinner's prayer".

Our ministry is a ministry of reconciliation.

Outside the Holy Gospel that we preach, no one can be born again or become a member of the Body of Christ.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi John,
You say you are a convert to Eastern Orthodoxy; sorry to hear that. If you read my post thoroughly you should have seen the false teachings of this organization, some of them at least.

E.O. may be an ancient faith, but it is NOT the original faith. The things I referenced in my article - mass, praying to saints, icons, baptismal regeneration, works salvation, indulgences, veneration (worship) of Mary - are not found in the original New Testament church.

I have no idea what playing the bagpipes has to do with whether E.O. is a false system. And whether the Celts or anyone else fell into the apostate teachings of Rome and Constantinople after the first two centuries is also irrelevant to whether the teachings of the E.O. are false. Being old doesn’t make it right. I am well aware of the history of the church and the dividing of the East and West churches. None of this has anything to do with the teachings I exposed as false.

The “idea of substitutionary atonement comes from” Scripture. As far back as Isa. 53:5 we see that Christ was punished for our sins; it is the major theme throughout the N.T.

Again, Lewis and MacDonald are not the source of truth, so why bring them into the discussion? All your claims about people and what they have done has no bearing on my article.

You never once addressed the unbiblical teachings I exposed; why is that? I’m sorry you have chosen to put yourself under the yoke of a legalistic worship system. Perhaps you should read the Bible.

john said...

Dear Sir:

Despite the inadequacy of my paltry writing skills, my desire is that our Lord Jesus Christ will bless you - even if not through any poor thing I have to say.

I am so sorry you are disappointed in what I had to say.

You said, "I have no idea what playing the bagpipes has to do with whether E.O. is a false system."

Well, I was tying in to your "bagpipe" theme.

Your webpage says "The Watchman's Bagpipes" and you have a picture of a man playing the bagpipes.

So I thought you might like to hear some bagpipes being played.

As for me, I have some Scottish ancestry. My father's middle name was Hume and his brother's first name was Malcolm, that's about as Scottish as you can get.

So I like your bagpipe theme.

As St Paul said, "I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some." (1 Corinthians 9:22)

But again, I am sorry if I have disappointed you.

I would be happy to address a point or two of yours if you wish.

Concerning what you say here in your message on this web page, I see you write:



*******************
Teaching authority

"they do teach that scripture alone is not sufficient"

The Orthodox Church uses Scripture more than any Protestant church I know of. I probably hear 50 times more Scripture verses being read in a typical Sunday morning at an Orthodox Church than I ever did at a Protestant church.

Often, when I was going to Protestant churches, I heard a small passage of Scripture and then a 20-40 minute sermon by the pastor giving us his thoughts, sometimes "expounding on the
Scripture" that was read, and sometimes going off on some tangent.

In an Orthodox Church, while we do often have sermons, we get a whole lot more Scripture alone, without the priest's personal interpretation.

But that does not mean we follow Scripture alone.

Do you see it written at the beginning of the New Testament, "This is the instruction manual for the Church"?

It is self-evident that the New Testament is not an instruction manual but a collection of mostly historical accounts and letters. Yes, it includes teaching but does it always make everything clear? No. If it made everything clear there would not be 22,000+ Protestant denominations with varying interpretations of Scripture.

What Scripture ever taught us that we must baptize with three immersions? What Scripture ever taught us the Sign of the Cross? This is part of our Holy Tradition, passed down from the
Holy Apostles themselves.





Jesus Christ never told anyone to follow the Bible alone.

Why do you add something that Jesus Christ never expressly taught?

It is legalism to add additional commandments to what Jesus taught.





Where does it say that the Scripture is the "pillar and ground of the truth"?

It says that the Church is "the pillar and ground of the truth". (1 Timothy 3:15)




If you can tell us where Jesus Christ told us to believe in Scripture alone, then I will believe in Scripture alone.

For where in Holy Scripture does it admonish us to follow Scripture alone?

Instead, to the contrary, it is written: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." (2 Thess. 2:15). And also, "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of
us." (2 Thess. 3:6) "Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and even as I delivered to you, ye are holding fast the traditions" (1 Cor. 11:2).

(to be continued)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

John,

I was disappointed in your last for two reasons:
Stories about piping for the E.O. - Piping is fun but that isn’t what the blog or article is about, and it appeared to me that you were only telling about piping with the E.O. as if that supports their legitimacy. My apologies since that wasn’t the intent. If you look at the top of my page you will see why I used “The Watchman’s Bagpipes” as a title - trumpet was already taken! And that man leading the firefighter honor guard is me. My closest Scottish relation is my 4th great-grandfather Alexander MacLainewho arrived in the US from Scotland in 1830.

Secondly, you didn’t address any of my article, rather you tried to prove E.O. as true because it has been around for a long time and in many places. These things don’t prove truth.

And your writing skills are just fine. Besides, I never evaluate the way people write.

Teaching authority.
If you heard little Scripture in any Protestant church, then you went to the wrong church. Many churches are indeed leaving the Word behind nowadays. But there are also many who preach solid from the Word weekly, and the one I attend is one of those where you will hear plenty from the Word. But the failings of some churches does not prove E.O. right.

The Bible often speaks of itself as being God’s Word. 2 Tim 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed” and that it thoroughly equips the believer. That in itself says it is the “Instruction Manual for the Church.” 2 Pet. 1:3 says Scripture is EVERYTHING we need. It is not just a collection of history and letters - what a low view of Scripture you have! And there are NOT 22,000 denominations - where do you get such poor statistics?

The Bereans were considered noble because they checked Scripture against Paul’s teachings; they didn’t go ask someone what tradition said.

Scripture does not teach three immersions because it is not necessary. ONE baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is not three baptisms. Since baptism represents burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3-4), one doesn’t get buried three times!

The sign of the cross is not in Scripture because it is a superstitious thing to do. There is NO evidence the apostles taught such nonsense.

You said it is legalism to add commandments to what Jesus taught, yet the E.O. has done that very thing with Iconography, indulgences, etc.

1 Tim 3:15 is not about the E.O. or any other organization; it is about the church as a whole. John Crysostom didn’t say the lack of knowing tradition was the problem, rather he said, “The source of all our troubles is in not knowing the Scriptures.”

1 Cor. 11:2 is talking about what Paul taught them - that is the “tradition” they are to hold fast. Again, 2 Thes 2:15 Paul calls the teachings from him and the apostles “tradition.” And the same with 2 Thes 3:6. CONTEXT. These passages are calling “tradition” that which they have been teaching, which has been recorded for us in Scripture.

Christ always pointed to the Word of God, and indeed taught against the tradition of the leadership. So, yes, He did expressly teach Bible alone.

john said...

(continued from last message)

Dear Sir:

I think it's wonderful that you can play the pipes. I love to hear them.

It is a commendable thing to be zealous for the truth, and so I commend you, because you seem to be zealous for what you think is the truth, even though I think you are in error.

My hope is that you will come to experience every good thing that God has for you.

I believe the problem with all of your criticisms of Eastern Orthodoxy is this: You have the wrong foundation.

You think the foundation of the Christian faith - along with Christ alone, I presume - should be the Bible alone.

But in Luke's treatise, he says this: "And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner." (Luke 18:13)

So how could I, who am worse than the publican, ever think myself capable of coming to an understanding of the Bible alone? Like the Ethiopian eunuch needed Philip to help him understand the Scriptures, so too do I need the Holy Church to help me understand the Scriptures. "And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me?" Acts 8:30-31 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+8&version=KJV

The foundation of the Christian faith is Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone, and along with Him, it is not the Bible alone, but the Holy Church, which is the very Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, that has been given the very glory that the Father gave the Son. No Bible has ever been given these things.

Your whole "Bible Belt" mentality is completely off.

Your mentality seems a bit like the attitude of the Pharisees, who "diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life." John 5:39 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%205:38-40&version=NIV

The Pharisees too thought the foundation of the faith was the Scriptures!

You seem to be putting yourself into a straightjacket, my friend, a straightjacket of legalism.

Jesus Christ said, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

The Holy Scriptures also were made for man, not man for the Scriptures. They were also written not by God alone, but by man working together in synergy with God.

We do not believe as do the Muslims of their Koran which they say came down from heaven, God speaking to the illiterate Muhammad, and telling him, "Recite!" We believe in a synergy of God and man.

Jesus Christ, the Son of God begotten of the Father before all ages, took on human flesh from the Virgin. Incarnate, His Divine will and His human will acted together in synergy.

In the same way, with God and man acting together in synergy, the Holy Scriptures were written.

This same synergy is what God calls us to today in His Holy Church.

(to be continued)

john said...

(continued from last message, which ended with "This same synergy is what God calls us to today in His Holy Church.")

What Bible was ever said to be the very Bride of Christ?

The Church is the very Bride of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Bridegroom: http://www.biblegateway.com/keyword/?search=Bride&version1=9&searchtype=all&limit=none&wholewordsonly=no

And the Church is the Bride of Christ:

"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.... That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.... For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church." (Ephesians 5)

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+5&version=KJV

You see what it says here: "This is a great mystery".

The Bride of Christ will not by any means accept a rival.

The Bible is not the Bride of Christ. The Most Holy Church is the Bride of Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church.

In accordance with this great mystery, the wife is indeed one flesh with the Bridegroom.






What Bible was ever said to be given the very glory that the Father gave the Son?

But of the Holy Church it is written:

"And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world." John 17:22-24 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2017&version=KJV

And so we see that the very glory that the Father gave the Son, so the Son has also given to the Most Holy Church.







What book of the Bible was ever said to be the very Body of Christ?

But the Holy Church is the very Body of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself:

"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, ...hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." Ephesians 1 http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+1&version=KJV

(to be continued)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hi John,

It appears that you are the one in error, with the wrong foundation. My foundation is in Christ and the Word of God, while your foundation is in a man’s organization, the Eastern Orthodox Church.

The Bible was intended to be understood by the average man who can read and comprehend. There are things which are difficult and sometimes we need help from more learned people, but the Gospel and basic Christian doctrine is simple and easy to comprehend. We are not told why the Ethiopian didn’t understand what he was reading - most likely because he was not a Jew he didn’t understand the Hebrew Scriptures when they referenced Christ. HOWEVER, we now have the teachings of Christ and the apostles in the New Testament, which is our explanation. We don’t need an organization to interpret that which is easy - remember the Bereans didn’t ask anyone, but searched the Scriptures.

The church, which is the people of Christ and not an organization, is the Bride of Christ. You interpret “Church” to mean the E.O, which didn’t even exist at the time the NT was written.

The context of John 5:39 is the Pharisees searching for all the laws to follow to give them eternal life, and Jesus even said it was the Scripture that pointed to him which they ignored. Don’t twist the passage to say what it does not say. It is the legalism of the E.O. which is YOUR straightjacket.

You again have a very low view of Scripture and too high of a view of man’s traditions.

I will now kindly ask you to confine your comments to the subject of my post, which is all the unbiblical practices I outlined.

john said...

Hi Glenn,

May you come to experience in its fullness the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the life-giving energies of the Holy Spirit!

I welcome you to come visit our church.

Our hearts are wide open to you. We yearn for all men to be reconciled to the Holy Church which is the fulness of Him who fills all in all.

Having been given the Spirit of Christ by the laying on of hands, despite my being the chief of sinners and devoid of all virtue, I think perhaps I may have some sense of the yearning of Christ to gather together all men into the Church, under the Christ-appointed shepherds and guardians of the Church who have had handed down to them the stewardship of the Church from the very Apostles themselves, who were in turn given it by Christ Himself: "how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under [her] wings, and ye would not!" http://bible.cc/matthew/23-37.htm

My friend, you requested "I will now kindly ask you to confine your comments to the subject of my post, which is all the unbiblical practices I outlined."

In my earlier message above, I said, "I would be happy to address a point or two of yours if you wish."

I have partially addressed one point of yours. However, because of my poor communication I have left you my dear man with the notion that we have a "low view of Scripture". This is a completely inaccurate impression that I have left undoubtedly due to my poor communication skills.

And so I would like to finish up my response to you on that first point first before even considering going on to the other practices you outlined.



This will be a rather long response. I apologize for being long-winded. In this, however, I am imitating the Apostle Paul, who was so long-winded in one of his sermons that he put a poor boy to sleep, who then fell out of a window, and died! (Only to be raised from the dead!) (Acts 20:7-12) In the future, if you want to use email, we can do that.

You say, "You again have a very low view of Scripture and too high of a view of man’s traditions."




But first, I will say this about "Praying for the Dead" under your topic "Purgatory".

Glenn, you are a military man. I honor you and all the military who have served or died for our country.

Since many have remembered 9/11 this weekend, I think it is appropriate to think of those who died in that tragedy.

I am not ashamed to pray for fallen heroes such as the New York firefighters who died on 9/11/2001.

Our bishop prayed this: "Christ be with you, Johnny, each time you enter a burning building. And may God rest the souls of your 343 fallen brethren who rushed into the Twin Towers and perished." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7AQ3umef_8&feature=related

Yes, God rest their souls!

And so our bishop prayed for the dead firefighters who gave their lives trying to save people from the burning World Trade Center towers in NYC on 9/11/2001.

I encourage all of you, my friends, to do the same.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

John,

Many words do not make the response better, nor does it take many words to demonstrate your argument from Scripture.

Praying for those who are dead is not found in Scripture. There is nothng our prayers can accomplish for those who are dead. Therefore it is an unbiblical practice which began as a tradition of man.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

John,

I am not going to publish your 22 comments which are mostly rants about Calvinism and other off-subject issues attacking actions of various protestant teachers and false teachers such as Fred Phelps, and broad-brushing charges against Protestants in general; I asked you to stick to the subject of my article and you have refused to do so, therefore I am banning you from my blog. However, I am going to comment on some of your statements for clarification:

You stated “But prayers for the dead do not contradict Hebrews 9:27...We believe very simply that prayers for the dead can increase the blessings of those who are in Paradise, and can lessen the sufferings and bring mercy to those who are in torment.”

Prayers for those who are dead, hoping to change their station or hoping to affect them in any way is unbiblical. It does indeed contradict Heb. 9:27 because judgment can in no way be affected after death, be it more blessings or less torment. There is absolutely no biblical warrant for such a belief.

Your appeal to 2 Maccabees is of no value. Jews didn’t consider this canon so why would Rome or Byzantium do so? Protestants are 100% correct in rejecting unbiblical doctrine which is found only in a non-canon writing. That is NOT a low view of Scripture as you claim.

You attack the idea that the Bible can be understood correctly by the average person by demonstrating historical incidents where it has been misused. The misuse of Scripture does not negate the fact that it can be properly understood. False teachers always twist it for their own purposes - include the false teachers in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

You state: “Your way of looking at Scripture has been handed down to you from preacher to preacher and from Bible teacher to Bible teacher from the Puritans/Calvinists down to our day.”

No, my “way” of looking at Scripture is reading it for what it says without someone else - such as E.O. leaders - telling me what it says!

You say you have a high view of Scripture and then immediately say tradition is on an equal footing with it. How ironic. That is a low view of Scripture that makes it subservient to man’s tradition. Again, you make blanket statements about certain protestant leaders and purveyors of “higher criticism’ and their teachings as if those are accepted by all non-E.O. Christians. You should know better.

Most of the accusations you made about Protestants in general put you in the same category as rabid anti-Catholics - your rhetoric is mostly bigotry with nothing substantive. I did NOT treat your faith is such a fashion.

Anonymous said...

dear sir i was a former eastern orthodox while i agree with many of your comments i do not agree with the baby baptistism and the commuion i do agree with baby baptism and that christ is truly in the species of bread and wine as a conservatie lutheran we do hold to some of the traditions found in the roman catholic faith martin luther did not throw the baby out with the bath water as did some of my protestant brethen but the traditions he did hold were in line with the bible not like the church of rome or its harlot sister the eastern orthodox church is nothing more then a cultural center for those to keep their langauage and customs alive in a dead church

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Hello Anonymous,

You may agree with infant baptism, but the Bible does not agree with you. You might take a look at my post about infant baptism in regards to the Roman church. It holds true for any other church.
http://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2010/06/roman-catholic-baptism-is-unbiblical.html
There is no evidence in Scripture that infants were baptized. Everyone baptized in Scripture does it in response to hearing the gospel and placing their faith in Christ.

You can also believe that Christ is in the bread and wine, but again you would be in contradiction to Scripture. I explained this in my article about transubstantiation and the Catholic mass.
http://watchmansbagpipes.blogspot.com/2010/06/catholic-eucharist-unbiblical-and.html

My wife was raised in the Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), we married in the LCMS, and worshipped in the LCMS for almost a decade. I also taught confirmation classes for four years. So I am not unfamiliar with the Lutheran Church.

The phrase, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” is quite trite. It assumes there IS a baby in that water, and also assumes the baby isn’t a demon. Lutheranism is really essentially nothing but Romanism without a pope.