Tag Archives: Eastern Orthodox

Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

assetOne must be careful when studying history – for history can be likened to a wild tiger with sharp teeth and bared claws.

I recently discovered this “dangerous” side of history while researching the theological history of the physical millennial kingdom of Jesus.

What was this “dangerous” item found in the dusty manuscripts of old?

It is the knowledge that in 381 A.D. the Church Fathers gathered in Constantinople and declared that the pre-millennialism view of Revelation chapter 20 is a heresy.

Yes – you read that right.

The hugely popular pre-millennialism view of eschatology promoted throughout the world by the Protestant church was declared a heresy by the SAME guys who canonized the New Testament!!!

Wow! Continue reading Is Pre-Millennialism A Heresy?

The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity
The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

A few months ago I mentioned that I was trying to find a commentary on the Book of Revelation from the Eastern Orthodox Church. Well, I found one – The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity. Originally written in Russian by Archbishop Averky Taushev, it was translated into English by Father Seraphim Rose in 1985.

In a nutshell – it was the best book on Revelations I have ever read.

Yeah. It was that good.

Why?

Well, for starters the book wasn’t about trying to map out the “end times”, find out what everything John means and how it plays together in the 21st century. Instead, the commentary was written with the knowledge that Revelation is a book of mysteries:

The deep things bound up with the beginning and end of all things, the ultimate purpose of the world and man, the opening of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven; and so we must read it with fear of God, and with a humble distrust of our own wisdom.

Continue reading The Apocalypse: In The Teachings of Ancient Christianity

Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin

Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells
Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells

The book Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells tells the journey of Matthew Gallatin from his Seven Day Adventist youth through fundamental evangelicalism and the Jesus Movement (he was a Cavalry Chapel pastor) to Eastern Orthodoxy.

As you can imagine, Gallatin has had quite the spiritual journey.

In fact, it was this spiritual journey that made the book so interesting and readable. One could see themselves taking the same journey and asking the same questions. I know it made me stop and think about my beliefs and traditions…. more so then any other book in recent times

A major strengthen of the book is its honest look at Protestantism. Gallatin questions the underlining worldview of the Protestant faith – namely the reliance of Scripture alone and the right of the individual to interpret Scripture.

Most Protestants would fight to the death on the principle of Sola Scripture – yet, in reality, no one can stand on just the Scripture. Everyone who reads the Scriptures brings something to the table – the writings of Calvin, Luther, Dobson, or those of the first century. The real question is how you interpret Scripture – not whether you stand on Scripture alone. Continue reading Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Matthew Gallatin

What Every Orthodox Christian Should Know by Father George Nicozisin

What Every Orthodox Christian Should Know
What Every Orthodox Christian Should Know

As you might have guessed from some of my previous posts, I have been reading some books about the Eastern Orthodox Church. It has been really cool and challenging to wade through their theology and literature.

When I say, “their literature” – I mean books written by them, and not book written about them.

This is an important point as I have found that most books written about a particular branch of Christianity is typically slated in favor of the writer, who is usually not part of that particular branch. Books written by Orthodox priests and/or believers, on the other hand, usually gives one a good inside look into that branch of Christianity.

I acquired several of these “insider” books by accident last year while on the way to South America. During our lay over in LA, we had lunch in a hotel next to the airport – which just so happened to be hosting an Eastern Orthodox leaders conference. Being myself, I struck up a conversation with some of the priests and before I knew it they were giving me a bunch of books and telling everyone that I was “close”. 😛 Continue reading What Every Orthodox Christian Should Know by Father George Nicozisin

Eschatology and the Eastern Orthodox Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church has fascinated me for years.

They were the one church that remained faithful to the Teachings of the Apostles when all others broke apart and drifted into darkness.  Unfortunately, the believers in the West do not know much about the Orthodox Church – shoot, I heard one man this week say that the Orthodox Church was the same as the Roman Catholic Church!!  (In case you didn’t know, they are VASTLY different)

Recently I have had the pleasure of looking into the theology and practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is pretty cool – there is something about the way they focus on experiencing God and living with Jesus vs trying to understand Christianity via Bible studies, theology books or conferences as Western Protestantism does (with some exceptions).

Another cool thing about Orthodoxy is the fact that the core of their worship has been unchanged for 1600 years. Wow! That is a long, long time…yet, there is something to be said about faithfulness and enduring; especially in culture that values rapid change and the “next best things”.

The only negative to this unchanged worship is that it is easy to start relying on the system instead of having to listen to God and seeing what He is doing in the moment (granted, one can go to far the other way and start relying on one’s self and the gimmicks of the day…balance…it is all about balance)[@more@]

Seeing how we are studying Revelation in our small groups, I decided to look up what the Eastern Orthodox thought about the end times. It turned out to be harder then what I thought as there are not very many English speaking Orthodox writings….sigh. Undecided

However, I did find out that the Orthodox Church tends not to focus on the “end times.” In fact, one site I found mentioned that since Jesus Himself did not know the time, we, as His followers, should not be seeking to know the when’s and how’s of the Second Coming/Judgment/End Times.  Instead, we should be focused on the ministry of Christ: loving God and loving others.

Wow! Man, did my heart rejoice to hear that! Finally a major church that realizes the unhealthy focus on the “end times” and chooses not to go there; instead they focus on Jesus. Cool

Granted, there are a few Orthodox theologians that have studied the book of Revelation and the “end times.” By far the majority of them tend to lean towards amillennialism – which, again, is really cool as personally I lean that way as well. Tongue out 

The goal now is to try to get my hands on a commentary of Revelation from the Orthodox viewpoint…not just because I “agree” with them, but because I want to know what God has shown them over the years. Not only are they coming at the “issue” from a different branch of Christianity (ie. not Western Protestantism), they are also looking at the Bible through a non-Western culture viewpoint.

We shall see if can I locate one through the library system… Undecided

Stretching The God Muscles

How do you express the emotions within? Sometimes it is hard to find the words that reflex the twisting and turning of one’s emotions….

God has been stretching me this week in two different ways.

The first way is through a book about Eastern Orthodox Church written by a former Calvary Chapel pastor who converted to Orthodoxy.What is so powerful about the book is that the author is detailing his journey through the vast field of Protestant doctrine while in search for the “truth” and love of Christ.

As I read, I see myself in his journey, which causes me to stop and question some the foundational viewpoints of the Protestant faith….  Undecided

The second stretching comes in the form of a guitar. The lady who plays the piano at church is on vacation this week so I get to lead worship via my acoustic guitar. While I have been playing for our Thursday evening small group, it is a big stretch to get up and play in front of the whole church…  sigh… I would rather stand behind folks and jam on the bass… Smile

May the Lord grant me the strength to continue walking His path, following the Wild Goose.

Meeting the Eastern Orthodox Church

On our journey to South America we stopped at a L.A. hotel for breakfast. As we sat there chatting I began to notice a whole bunch of long bearded, black robed guys wondering around… being a sharp minded genius, I picked up on the huge crosses dangling from their necks and figured out that they were members of a Christian church.  A mind like a steel trap – that’s what I have…Innocent

In my studies of Church history, one group has contentedly eluded me – yet they have also intrigued me. That group is none other then the Eastern Orthodox Church.

And as you might have guessed, the men at the L.A. hotel were priests in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Lord had given me an opportunity to learn more about this ancient church body – so I walked over to one of their tables and asked them if I could chat a bit. (no, really, I’m a very shy person!)

The conversation that followed was amazing! I found out that all three of the priests at the table I walked up to had converted to Orthodox Church from Prostantism. This background really helped me as we begin to discuss various theological points – mainly in that they understood where I was coming from and what I meant by certain words or comments. Overall we jumped right in and talked about salvation, the global church, church history, the Trinity, the Apocrypha, the way church services are preformed and the natures of Jesus. [@more@]

It was a fascinating morning!!  I learned a ton about the Orthodox Church – for example, they are the only “main stream” Christian church that has continued from the Apostles to today without breaking off from some other group. This is huge… and it makes me what to know more about them and their theology.

Think about it – Rome was the one who broke relationships with them, not the other way… there may be some other churches started by the Apostles that fall into the category, but I can’t think of any…

I remember reading some of the Nicene Fathers in VLI and enjoying their writings… they seemed to be more focused on the love of God and relationships then logic and justification (as Augustine, Rome, and the Western church was and is).  Maybe this was why I allowed the priests to give me five different books about the Orthodox Church’s practices and theology. Laughing

The Apocrypha – Why did we get rid of them?

I’ve been confused lately… why, after 1,500 years, did we all of a sudden decided to drop the inter-testamental books from the Bible? It doesn’t make sense… at least not to me…

I’m confused. Undecided

Here’s what I know so far:

  • The Christian Bible included the inter-testamental books up until the Protestant Reformation in the 1500’s.
  • Martin Luther was the first person to move the inter-testamental books from the Old Testament into a separate selection called the “Apocrypha”.
  • Protestant Bibles included them in a “Apocrypha” section until around the 1820’s, when they stop appearing.

So why did Martin Luther decided that the inter-testamental books where no longer valid? I mean, the church used them for over 1,500 hundred years!!! Shoot, some of the books were used by True Believers longer then the writing of Paul.[@more@]

One of the arguments about the validity of the Bible is that God has kept it around despite plans to destroy all copies. As such, if God allows the inter-testamental books to survive as part of the Bible for over 1,800 years, what makes the last 200 years so important that we can thrown the inter-testamental books away?

I guess I should mention that I’ve heard it said that when St. Jerome translated the Vulgate he used the Masoretic or Hebrew text of the OT instead of the Septuagint or Greek text. Apparently the Masoretic text did not have the inter-testamental books listed why the Septuagint did. Still, St. Jerome included the inter-testamental books in the Vulgate…

I don’t know…

I just think that it is very, very strange that why the rest of Christendom uses the inter-testamental books, we Protestant don’t.  Why is that?

Currently the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox (Russian, Greek, Georgian, etc), and Oriental Orthodox Churches (Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, Eritrean Orthodox, Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church and Armenian Apostolic churches) all use the inter-testamental books as part of their canon. In addition, while the Anglican Church does not recognize the Apocryphal books as canon, they do use them liturgically.

Baptists Are Not Protestants

Did these get your attention? Well, it got mine as I was browsing the church history forums on The Puritan Board. The thread was started after a forum member read a similarly titled paper posted on the “Bibel Baptisten Gemeinde” (Bible Baptist Church) website in Darmstadt, Germany. It is from this German paper that I quote – not from the forum. (just so ya’ll know my sources…) Smile

The main argument against placing the Baptists among the Protestant movement is a historical one:

Protestants date from the sixteenth century. They are the Lutherans, the Reformed and others who were once Roman Catholics and left the Roman Catholic faith to start denominations of their own. The Baptists never left the Roman Catholic Church as did Luther, Calvin and Zwingli. They never left because they were never in. They did not begin their existence at the time of the Reformation but hundreds of years prior to the Reformation.

As you can tell, the author of this paper is defining the term “Protestants” as churches that came from the Roman Catholics during the Reformation. Under that definition, I would have to agree that the majority of the Baptist churches are not “Protestants” as they did not protest anything. [@more@]

This also brings up a good point that tends to get forgotten – mainly that there were other churches around besides the Roman Catholic Church. There was the Eastern Orthodox Church, which most folks remember, as well as the:

  • Coptic Church of Egypt
  • Armenia Church of Armenia
  • Georgian Church of Georgia
  • Church in Persia (Christianity reached India and China within the first two centuries)
  • African church (north-central Africa was home to a huge Christian population for several hundred years before tribal wars and drought destroyed the nations that housed the church)

Note: these churches trace their roots back the first century – some of which where started by members of the 12 Apostles.

In addition, there were several smaller churches that held as similar views as the Baptist (as listed in the German article):

  • Montanists (150 A.D.)
  • Novatians (240 A.D.)
  • Donatists (305 A.D.)
  • Paulicians (650 A.D.)
  • Albigenses (1022 A.D.)
  • Waldensians (1170 A.D.)

The article goes on to state that while Baptists share some common theological grounds with Protestants, there are six big differences:

  1. Baptists believe with all their hearts that God´s Word alone is sufficient for faith and practice. Various Protestant denomination have creeds, catechisms and assorted doctrinal standards. Baptists hold to the Bible alone.
    • [Ardell: I believe the author is talking about high churches as I know soem of them have creeds, catechisms and such. Honestly, I think some of them are good and should be used in the low churches – not has a means to salvation, but as a means to understand the work of the Lord through out the centuries. It is to our disgrace that we have thrown away the traditions and history of Christianity.]

  2. Baptists believe that Christ and only Christ is the head of the Church… There is no man who has the oversight of Baptist Churches. Baptists have no denomination in the sense of an organization that controls local congregations. Each local church is autonomous and accountable only to Christ, who is its Head.
    • [Ardell: Granted this is changing a bit among the lower churches since the beginning of the 1900’s – mostly notably among churches that came out of the Pentecostal, Charismatic and Jesus People movements.]


  3. Baptists believe in their hearts in a free church in a free state… Baptists are vigoriously opposed to union of state and church and believe that a state controlled church is a wretched excuse for Christianity and a plain departure from Scripture. All of the Protestant Reformers fastened state churches upon their followers!
    • [Ardell: The author does have a point… in fact, there are still parts of Europe that hold to state back Protestant churches. Ie. Germany – Lutheran; England – Anglican; Scotland – Presbyterian]


  4. Baptists believe strongly in the individual accountability to God… A priest cannot answer for you, a church cannot answer for you to God. God-parents cannot answer for you…No one is saved because of his identification with any religion….Protestants generally do not hold this Scriptural doctrine.
    • [Ardell: Again I believe the author is thinking mostly of the high churches. Most low churches tend to hold to this view of individual salvation.]


  5. Baptist people furthermore have always held to believer´s baptism. None of the Protestant Reformers held this Bible teaching…This obviously means that there is no infant baptism. since infants are incapable of repenting. No unbelievers are to be baptized. The Reformers followed Rome in their teaching of baptism.
    • [Ardell: It is interesting that most “Protestant” churches today hold to adult baptism….I guess the Anabaptist had a huge impact on the churches in the USA.]


  6. Baptists on the basis of Scripture have always held to a regenerate church membership, that is a membership that is made up only of people who give a credible profession of faith in Christ. In the Apostolic church only those who became believers, those who received the Word of God and who had repented of their sins, were baptized and received as church members (Acts 2:41). There was no automatic or formalistic membership in apostolic churches nor in Baptist churches today.
    • [Ardell: Vote with your feet. That was the moto of the 1960’s movement as folks rejected the stuffy membership based system in many high churches. This would be why most independent churches and/or movements that came out of the Jesus Movement don’t have formal memberships. Granted that is beginning to change a bit as those pastors find it hard to shepherd an unknown flock…]

All this makes you rethink your definition of Protestant doesn’t it?  Shoot – I used to define it as simply as churches who believed in salvation via faith not works. Yet, it looks like the formal definition is a lot different. Undecided

As such, I checked a few sources to see how they defined the term “Protestant”:

  • Wikipedia – encompasses the forms of Christian faith and practice that originated with the doctrines of the Reformation.
  • Dictionary.com – any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church; an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them; (originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.
  • About.com – The term Protestant is used to refer to any Christian group which developed from the Reformation.

It looks like everyone agrees that a true “Protestant” is one that developed out of the Reformation or from churches that developed then. Interesting… I’m going to have to rethink some of the ways I use that word. Shoot, I’m going to have to rethink the terms I use to describe myself!!  Tongue out

By the way, in writing this post, I discovered a thread on the Baptist Board discussing this same question (Are Baptist Protestants or not?). It seems that there is a disagreement about the Baptist as to their roots…  Undecided

Some folks on the forum hold to the view that they are not Protestants; others say they are; and still others say they are a mixture of Protestant and non-Protestant (ie. the Baptist church has mixed roots).

So, what’s your thoughts? Are Baptist Protestants?

How about your church? Is it Protestant or does it have roots from before the Reformation?