Orthodox Christianity Apologetics Q&A

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The Orthodox Church is The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus and The Apostles.

I am especially interested in any questions from others who call themselves Christians, because there are a lot of misconceptions about The Orthodox Church among both Roman Catholics and the protestant churches. 

Well, I would hope in this topic that the differences become apparent, and that the authority of Orthodoxy is shown. It is The Christian Church. 






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I was especially hoping that you would take part in this.

My intent here is to educate, so I would like to clear any misconceptions.

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Over 90% of the world's population doesn't know or doesn't care about your Orthodox church, misconceptions are almost non existent.
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So the Orthodox Christian church thinks all the other Christians aren't getting it while the other Christians think the Orthodox Christian's aren't getting it? 
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If you aren't Orthodox, you aren't really in communion with the historic New Testament Church.

It's not that "other Christians aren't getting it", so much as we don't really know them! We aren't in communion. 

Not every Orthodox Christian "gets it", you have people at all stages of their walk in an Orthodox Church. You also have to figure that children are raised in the church.



I personally think that a great rediscovery of The Orthodox Church in America is inevitable as information is now more available about it than any other time, and as the other churches continue to compromise and bend to the whims of culture rather than to stay steadfast in truth.

Besides that, The Orthodox Church has a fullness that is lacking in other churches. We aren't, after all, taking bits and pieces and rolling with it. The Church is complete.
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The Orthodox Church is The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus and The Apostles.

I am especially interested in any questions from others who call themselves Christians, because there are a lot of misconceptions about The Orthodox Church among both Roman Catholics and the protestant churches. 

Well, I would hope in this topic that the differences become apparent, and that the authority of Orthodoxy is shown. It is The Christian Church. 
I am happy to engage Mopac. I disagree with your notion that the Orthodox Church is the only true church. I have never dismissed it as being part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church - but I would not isolate it and therefore excommunicate every other believing church as apostate. I am no fan of the Roman Catholic Church whereby it teaches salvation by works and where it has without authority deemed the bishop of Rome as the head of the church on earth. 

It is my understanding that the Orthodox church also focuses on works as a means of salvation and places tradition - just like the roman catholic church does above the authority of the scriptures. Although it does not have a supreme bishop, it does have patriarchs, much in the role of the Anglican Canterbury bishop - first among equals. 

I think there is much to admire about the Orthodox church. One of my mentors currently is a lecturer in Russia teaching in an Orthodox seminary. I like some of its rituals - some of its traditions - some of its teaching. But there are other aspects I disagree with - and perhaps you in your teaching role - may well be able to explain these better than some of your other teachers. who knows? 


Mopac
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I disagree with your notion that the Orthodox Church is the only true church. I have never dismissed it as being part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church - but I would not isolate it and therefore excommunicate every other believing church as apostate. 


You can't excommunicate those who were never in communion to begin with! But there is no historical precedent for heretics such as gnostics, arians, bogamalists, etc as taking part in say, an ecumenical council of the church. They are not part of the church. Now even in the case of those churches that are not outright identified as heretical, but maybe "heterodox", they are still not in communion with The Orthodox Church. We don't know them. They aren't really with us. Depending on how a baptism was performed, a heterodox Christian could become an Orthodox with their baptism respected. I was not baptized Orthodox, but the church recognized my baptism because it was done properly. 

Many of these heterodox churches teach things that are contrary to what Orthodoxy teaches. A lot of this stuff was even inherited from Roman Catholicism because western Christianity descends from that. It would be wrong to say that it doesn't make a difference. I believe that the ceaseless schisms of the western churches is an evidence that there is something foundationally corrupted. 

The church doesn't really make judgement calls on who is or isn't saved. God knows the hearts of all. I am sure that the grace and mercy of God extends greater than any of us know.


But the Church descended from Jesus and the apostles is The Orthodox Church.




It is my understanding that the Orthodox church also focuses on works as a means of salvation 

The Orthodox doesn't really have a faith/works dichotomy. They are seen as being practically one in the same. We are definitely not pietists or legalists. We do see salvation as a lifelong process. "Blessed are the pure in heart, they shall see God" Jesus said. The struggle is in purifying the heart and maintaining that purity of heart. So it isn't a "once saved, always saved" type of thing. If you have faith, you will work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. It isn't that our works save us either! Faith and works. The use of our freewill to cooperate with God rather than fight God. A Christian should strive to be a paragon of mercy and truth. It isn't an inactive faith.


(The Orthodox Church) places tradition - just like the roman catholic church does above the authority of the scriptures.


To say The Orthodox places tradition over scriptures is also not entirely correct. Scripture is an integral part of Church Tradition. The Roman Church does not actually respect Church Tradition as the highest authority, they respect The Pope as the authority over scripture and Church Tradition. That is also historically one of the reasons they aren't Orthodox anymore, nor have they been for over a thousand years.

Scripture is very important to The Orthodox Church, and even though we are not sola scriptura, I would argue that we actually show greater reverence for scripture than other churches without commiting the sin of biblialatry.


Although it does not have a supreme bishop, it does have patriarchs, much in the role of the Anglican Canterbury bishop - first among equals. 

It is how the church has always been structured. One corrupt bishop cannot pervert the entire church. It is a system that has allowed the church to survive intact even under strong persecution.



One of my mentors currently is a lecturer in Russia teaching in an Orthodox seminary. I like some of its rituals - some of its traditions - some of its teaching. But there are other aspects I disagree with - and perhaps you in your teaching role - may well be able to explain these better than some of your other teachers. who knows?

I would hope God grants me the grace.


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The Orthodox Church is The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus and The Apostles.

Again, there was NEVER a business or organization founded by Jesus at any point in time and that is why this baloney falls flat on its face every single time, nor can you show me any example of that. The confession that Peter made was the only binding commitment and this had absolutely nothing to do with any institution. It is this acknowledgement (Peters confession) of the individual party that makes up this supposed church, the people. 

Jesus came to do away with all this nonsense of the law, asserting domination, status, business tactics, politics, division and all the nasty stuff that follows religious phonies and their pretentious attitudes that all others are heretical trash that needs to be disposed of, when in reality it is the politics of religious activity that needs to be trashed. Catholics set up the very thing Jesus tore down, isn't that ironic? 

Funny how you keep claiming these so-called protestants are only in disagreement with "Orthodoxy" yet you are the one that keeps rehashing the same tired old song and dance. Get real, there was never any church founded by Jesus! what IS founded by Jesus is a personal, individual spiritual cultivation through the use of spiritual principles and concepts. Jesus was more a guru than any religious authority figure and was eventually murdered by them. 



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Again, there was NEVER a business or organization founded by Jesus at any point in time and that is why this baloney falls flat on its face every single time, nor can you show me any example of that. The confession that Peter made was the only binding commitment and this had absolutely nothing to do with any institution. It is this acknowledgement (Peters confession) of the individual party that makes up this supposed church, the people.


You are at least right about one thing. The confession of Peter and what Jesus daid to him is understood to apply to all the bishops in the church, not just one person or the chair of that one person(as Romans like to say in order to justify The Pope being Bishop over all Christendom)

But besides there being many references in The New Testament of there being Bishops, Presbyters, and deacons, we have the writings of those who were appointed by the Apostles to succeed them as bishops. Most notably, the writings of St. Ignatius which make it very clear that the church is an organization with leadership.




Jesus came to do away with all this nonsense of the law, asserting domination, status, business tactics, politics, division and all the nasty stuff that follows religious phonies and their pretentious attitudes that all others are heretical trash that needs to be disposed of, when in reality it is the politics of religious activity that needs to be trashed. Catholics set up the very thing Jesus tore down, isn't that ironic? 


You have such a negative attitude of a church that does not force people to do anything, that emphasizes free will, and has faithfully passed down the teachings of Jesus and the apostles. The church is not legalistic, neither does it assert domination. All these things you are talking about are examples of the Roman Catholic Church, which has commited every kind of evil in the name of Christ and Papal domination pretty consistently after seperating themselves from The True Church.

The Orthodox Church can prove that it is the historical church of The New Testament, and we do not persecute heretics or anyone for that matter. In fact, we  are nicknamed the church of martyrs because when things get bad, we are the ones who end up getting killed.

I have floated around the number of 20 million Orthodox martyrs in the last century, but this source says the number is closer to 66.5 million.




The Orthodox Church is not The Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church has historically persecuted Orthodox. In fact, the first martyr of the lower 48 was reportedly tortured to death by a Roman Catholic Priest for not submitting to the Roman bishop.

Funny how you keep claiming these so-called protestants are only in disagreement with "Orthodoxy" yet you are the one that keeps rehashing the same tired old song and dance. Get real, there was never any church founded by Jesus! what IS founded by Jesus is a personal, individual spiritual cultivation through the use of spiritual principles and concepts. Jesus was more a guru than any religious authority figure and was eventually murdered by them. 

What you are saying simply does not stack up to historical record, neither does it do anything but contradict scripture.

There clearly is a church. Jesus had disciples, sent out the 70. There are clearly offices in the church as recorded in The New Testament.

This anarchistic interpretation of the church is not real.

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Jesus was more a guru than any religious authority figure and was eventually murdered by them. 
That is how J is presented in the gospels, but there are clear indications that some sort of organisation existed from quite early on with its 'HQ' in Jesusalem in which Peter and James (Jesus' brother) were senior figures. Converts to Christianity outside Israel also seem to have adopted a formal structure as 'Churches' rather than being independent individuals, but AFAIK nothing is known about how the early churches were actually organised in the first few years or decades.  
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I believe that the church has a pretty good idea of how it was organized even early on.

Even the first ecumenical council is depicted in The book of Acts chapter 15.


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That is how J is presented in the gospels, but there are clear indications that some sort of organisation existed from quite early on with its 'HQ' in Jesusalem in which Peter and James (Jesus' brother) were senior figures. Converts to Christianity outside Israel also seem to have adopted a formal structure as 'Churches' rather than being independent individuals

Individuals are what make up the "church". And those individuals are whose confession was that of Peter's, this was the binding factor and this in an inward revelation. This all has to do with individual commitments, application and cultivation not organizations and politics. This is why you see the demise of religious institutions in the Gospels and the empowerment of individuals. Even though Jesus was murdered He resurfaced the face of religion and what it was supposed to mean to our reality. 
Jesus knew that religious discrimination would only empower corruption not promote a better culture. That is why he left and opposed that aspect of culture and went out among the rejected to change the world, and that is exactly what happened even though religious authority still abounds...there was a shift in consciousness when Jesus apparently roamed the earth. 
The organization of religious formation happened more or less in the Epistles, and even in this event it was only for order in the body, it was never an indication of what we see in religion today and actually you rarely see the picture of fellowship like it was in the account of Acts. The Gospels are the power of the Divine dwelling amongst its people, the established "churches" steals that away, make it less effective. 
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I can see how your narrative can be used as a justification for spiritual egotism and antinomianism. 

It seems to me that you aren't being charitable towards The Church, which I read a saint once say that this is a big root of heresy and schism.


So not only are you rejecting the new testament, you are rejecting the whole church. 


This is why I have never seen you as a Christian. You aren't really a believer. The standardless nondenominational church may allow you to commune with them, but we Orthodox would not see you as a believer.
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What do you mean by not being very charitable towards the church?

Thanks.
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I believe that the church has a pretty good idea of how it was organized even early on.
Even the first ecumenical council is depicted in The book of Acts chapter 15.
I am sure the church was organised early on... but we know hardly anything about the details, such as how its officers were selected or the form of worship practised.

 

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I don't understand something. It looks ridiculous. It must be ridiculous.

They say this. My gut reaction is to disagree. They must be wrong.


In fact, without charity it is impossible to get past the surface level. Without humility it is impossible to get past the surface level.

After all, it takes charity to suspend judgement about something. It takes humility to say, "I don't get it" and ask for help.







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The Apostles selected people, and later that passed on to the bishops who were appointed by the apostles.


Justin Martyr accounts how church services were done in the early days...



The earliest Christians did go to the temple and synagogues though. James, the first bishop of Jersusalem went to the temple every day, and was even martyred there. Teaching at the synagogues is something that is recorded in Acts even.

Orthodox Liturgy today is not much different, perhaps a bit more refined because of the influence of John Chrysostom, than it was in the earliest days. Still very Jewish even. We do a lot of praying. A lot of scripture reading. We burn incense. 


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Yes, in acts 14:3 we read "Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust."

So it seems that Paul established churches with at least some organised formal structure before moving on. 

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Clearly the words "Truth" and "truth" (yes, capital letters are the only difference, not a typo.) as you use them do not mean the same thing and are meant to represent two separate concepts, so why do you choose to confuse the matter by using the word "Truth" rather than something that more closely resembles what you actually mean?
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The words "god" and "God" mean two different things, and it is always a temptation for me to refuse to converse with those who refuse to acknowledge this!

When I say The Truth, I am refering to The Word of God, The Truth very specifically. This is in contrast with, "the truth is that the sun is out during the day" or "To say that the moon is not made of cheese is the truth."


It isn't that I mean. something different when I say The Truth. It is that I am very specifically referring to truth in the truest sense rather than simply a truth that is relatively true.


The Supreme and Ultimate Reality is God.

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Yes, even to this day there is some organizational structure!




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Which is not to EV's liking!  i think he believes in a strictly independent, personal and direct relationship with God.   I think you can read Matthew 18:20 as anti-church.

"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

Jesus was certainly anti-Priest, but that might have been because they were individully corrupt rather than through opposition to institutional religion.


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That scripture is often taken out of context to justify the belief that a group of people calling themselves Christians can use the Lord's name in vain together while making arrogant demands from God and/or gossiping under the pretense of prayer while feeling sanctimonious about it. 

That passage has more to do with church discipline than anything anti-church. 


But I would not deny that we each have a personal relationship with God. The church is supposed to help people in this, so painting the church as some kind of power play couldn't be further from the truth. What power? Priests are slaves to their congregation, constantly being burdened with other people's problems. Besides that, their priestly work during liturgy I imagine can be repetitive and exhausting. 

Bishops are selected from the monasteries. All Orthodox are called to be ascetics, but monks are real athletes at it!

But there will always be those who make evil accusations against the church. That is how it has always been. The world hates us without a cause, just as Jesus said. 

And the world is working very hard to destroy the church. It isn't some ancient past I am talking about, there are people alive today who are witnesses to this very real genocidal attitude that is directed at us. It is still going on, even at this very hour.


As I pointed up there, I have have frequently mentioned 20 million martyrs in the last century. The figure according to that source may be closer to 66.5 million.

No one cares, in fact, it is pretty mainstream to encourage it through antichrist rhetoric.

And we don't even resist those who slaughter us.


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Orthodoxy is the traditional method of a church back in the day, therefore it is the FIRST CHURCH!

The Catholics broke off from the Orthodox Christians. As a Greek Orthodox Christian, I can answer to best of my knowledge
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When I say The Truth, I am refering to The Word of God,
Yeah, that's my point. I am asking why you don't just say that instead of trying to confuse the issue by using a word that already has a meaning assigned to it.