War On Heresies: A Lesson From the Distant Past

Nestorius is quoted as saying to Emperor Theodosius the Great, “O Emperor, give me the land free from heretics, and I’ll give you the Heaven!” In fact, within 5 days since his becoming the Patriarch of Constantinople, he inspired several police actions against heretics, brought back into use the old laws with regard to heretics, which drove even the least dangerous and aggressive of them out of the city. Incidentally, these also were the days when the word ‘anthropotokos’ was first uttered by Anastasios, a priest who came to the Imperial Capital, the New Rome, from Antioch with Nestorius. Nestorius wasn’t as quick to correct his favourite… The question is, Are those ‘zealots of Orthodoxy’ who are hostile towards heretics really Orthodox, that is, do they praise the LORD properly? Was Nestorius’ case just a coincidence or a tendency?

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My Mission Trip to Kenya

As a great fan of Africa (especially Orthodox Africa), I was happy to receive an invitation from the Loitokitok bishopric (Archdiocese of Kenya, Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria) to go and help them with the mission (doing catechism and social work, and possibly fulfilling other tasks) in Maasai lands in Kenya in April 2013 (dates are flexible, as of now). However, the one thing that causes my deep concern is the funding of this trip. I’ll have to spend ca. $1,500 on the tickets, travel insurance, visa, etc. (proof of financial independence). I would greatly appreciate it if y’all could a). pray for God’s will to happen; b). donate some money to support this trip c). pass my appeal to some of your friends/acquaintances who would be willing to help.
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Have You Ever Considered the Fact That…

… it was Christianity that boosted linguistics, translations and translation studies?

SS Cyril and Methodius, the great translators and Fathers of the Slavic civilization

Unlike Islam, which insists on ‘un-createdness’ and ‘un-translatability’ of the Quran, or Buddhism and other Oriental religions, which have been extremely ethnically centered, unlike even Judaism, which only Alexander the Great could force into translating its holy Book, the Torah, into Greek, the lingua franca of the antiquity, Christianity immediately acknowledged the necessity to translate what Jesus and His disciples had said, due to its universalist, all-embracing claims. Early Christians were not afraid of the inevitable loss of certain layers of meaning typical of any translation. The Good News of the Incarnation of the Logos was not subject to any culture or language, it was meant to be beyond all cultures and embrace all languages.

Since then, the Bible was translated into countless languages, more than any other book. In fact, for some of those languages, the Bible still remains the only written piece of literature; even for some of the world’s major languages in terms of speakers and area, the Bible was the beginning of written tradition, the beginning of literature (as is the case with Russian, for instance). Translators of the Bible have been travelling far and wide, creating alphabets, describing grammars, compiling dictionaries… It is thanks to their wor

k that we have linguistics (and translation studies, as a branch of linguistic) in its modern sense. We as linguists and translators must always remember that.

 

On Living Up to What You Preach, or Blessed Are the Poor

There is a number of Christian denominations today that preach the so called “Prosperity Gospel” which has its roots in the  Calvinist/Reformed view on the Predestination. This ‘Gospel’ says that you can know you are 100% “Once Saved, Always Saved” by looking on your wealth. “God wants you to be happy = prosperous”, they say. Does it make sense?

It is interesting to note that most of the earliest copies of the Sermon on the Mount read, “Blessed are the poor”, period, and do not add [of spirit]. Why are the poor blessed? Because they imitate our Lord who was born in a cave and was poor throughout His entire life on Earth.

It is true that “the worst form of inequality is trying to make unequal things and men equal” (Aristotle) but we read in many lives of the saints that those of them who had been rich, typically gave everything they had to the poor and followed Christ. This ideal of voluntary poverty has been present throughout the Church history. It is impossible to quote all the passages of the Gospel where Jesus preaches about the importance of poverty. That was why St John of Shanghai was walking around the post-war Paris barefoot. That was why so many rich Christians have fed the poor; in fact, the most effective charities were founded and operated by Christians.

Some people say that this poverty hinders the Orthodox mission and ministry. Well, yes, we lack resources, we lack educated people, we lack many other things, but most importantly, we lack the missionary zeal and voluntarily limit our mission and ministry. The Lord who says, ‘Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also’, will show us the way and give us everything we need, for verily, “there is no man that hath left house, or parents, or brethren, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God’s sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.”

Others say that the Church should be rich and wealthy enough to ‘impress’ the civil authorities so that they could treat the representatives of the Church on equal terms. However, we have seen and read so many criticisms from many people because of that. It is easy to get rid of these criticisms saying that those people use them as excuses for not coming to the Church, and that it is because of their sins that they find faults with the Church ministers. But aren’t we called to “cut off the occasion from them that desire occasion?” The general rule has been this: A preacher mustn’t be richer than his poorest listener. Else they don’t trust you.

What do you think about it? Comments in any language are welcome!

What’s in a Name?

Why do Catholics call themselves Catholic and Orthodox call themselves Orthodox? Have you ever wondered about it?

For Catholics, the most important characteristic of their faith is its ‘catholicity’ (read: universalism, embracing everybody everywhere). Hence comes power grabbing, Crusades, proselytism, secularism, modernism, etc. For the Orthodox, the most important characteristic of their faith is its ‘Orthodoxy’ (unbroken continuity of doctrine from the times of Apostles and Christ Himself). Thus, the Orthodox aren’t afraid to remain alone (cf. “Fear ye not, small flock”, “Athanasius Contra Mundum”…) as far as they preserve “the faith once given to the saints”.

Do you agree?

NB: This is not to reject the belief in the “One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” but to emphasise the fact that the Church cannot be ‘Catholic’ without remaining ‘Orthodox’.

Primus inter Pares

What’s Wrong With Apostolic Succession?

One of the main arguments in favour of the Catholic Church (and the Orthodox Church) vs. the multitude of Protestant denominations has recently been their inherent Apostolic succession. The Protestants, seeing that they cannot beat those old traditional churches in this field, tend to reject the importance of Apostolic succession – and the very concept in general. And they’re right – in the way they see it.

Let’s see what the concept of Apostolic succession teaches.

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Once Saved, Always Saved: “Legal” vs “Organic” Approaches to Salvation

First published @ http://radio-awakening.com/index.php/125-oncesaved 

This is the second article in the series of articles scrutinising the Protestant beliefs from the point of view of an Orthodox Christian. I have already mentioned that my goal is not to “defeat and scatter enemies of the only true faith” but to find loving and thoughtful friends among those of my readers who are non-Orthodox and to share our views on the most serious and complicated issues of Christian faith and practice. Read the full post »

Church vs. Churches: What Orthodox think about the Church

First published @ http://radio-awakening.com/index.php/121-solascriptura-3 

Built upon the foundation of

the apostles and prophets,

Jesus Christ himself being

the chief corner stone

Ephesians 2:20

This is going to be my final article in the Answering Protestants series, unless, of course, you ask for more 🙂 Here we are to concentrate mainly on the concept of the Church in general, as it is seen by the Orthodox in contrast with the Protestants. Whereas I am pretty well aware that there are strikingly different views on many aspects of Christian faith and practice among the Protestants (i.e., communities, each of which claims to base their faith only on the Bible), ecclesiology (= teaching on Church) is very similar in most Protestant denominations (with the rare exception of the Anglican community) because they all have to do something in order to explain the evident fact that there are so many blends and types of Christianity, contrary to the words of our Saviour they read in the Gospel, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. 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.” So we as Christians are called to represent the Holy Trinity in our unity and joint witness to the world but unfortunately we fail to live up to the ideal of unity we read of in the Scripture due to human infirmities and sins, the greatest of which is pride. Hence we have two options: either we stop divisions and are re-unite in the faith of the Apostles and Fathers or we make attempts to justify ourselves. Sad though it is to say, the mainstream Protestant theology has chosen the second route.

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Eating His Flesh and Drinking His Blood – Sounds Tough, Doesn’t It?

First published @ http://radio-awakening.com/index.php/114-solascriptura-2  

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

John 6:53-58 (KJV)

This is the third article of the series devoted to answering Protestants from the point of view of an Orthodox Christian. I hope we will be able to draw a quick sketch of a very complex Orthodox doctrine – the reality of the Eucharist and the theological implications it has for faith and practice. Without looking at this very important point, it is virtually impossible to get through to the point of the unity of the visible Church we’ve been talking about for so long already.

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What’s Wrong with the Sola Scriptura?

First published @ http://radio-awakening.com/index.php/96-solascriptura 

I was asked by a friend of mine to write an article on the controversial Protestant doctrine of the “Invisible Church” some time ago. I must admit that this turned out to be an immensely difficult task for me because the topic is so broad and embraces so many sub-topics that it is really worth a book of a thousand pages [1]. That was why I decided to devote a series of articles, rather than just a single article, to cover all those sub-topics. The article you are reading right now is the first of this series, and it deals with one of the main pillars of the Protestant beliefs – the Sola Scriptura doctrine – utilising scientific method and common sense. In the forthcoming weeks, I plan to write more articles of the series, which will include:

  1. Differences in the Protestant and the Orthodox understanding of salvation. “Once Saved, Always Saved “?
  2.  Theological implications of the reality of the Eucharist. “Eating His Flesh and Drinking His Blood – Sounds Tough, Isn’t It?”
  3. and finally, Structure and Management of the Church. “Unity in Diversity or Diversity without Unity?”

Hopefully, all these articles will serve to outline the major differences of Protestant versus Orthodox views and give a start for a friendly and thoughtful exchange of opinions.

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