Tag Archives: Eastern Orthodox

Moving east to find lost treasures…

FYI – Brambonius, a fellow believer and Vineyardite (is that a word?) in Belgium,  just posted a great article about finding treasures within the theology and practice of the Eastern Orthodox.

“So my proposal is to learn from non-modern christian traditions to find back what we’ve lost with the blind spots of our modern eyes….

So what’s the ‘new’ one I’m finding more and more interesting? It’s actually a very old one, and unlike anabaptism undeniably totally outside of protestantism, and it was even left out of Brian McLarens ‘generous orthodoxy’, but I don’t think it can really be considered ‘unorthodox’ in any way at all, since I’m talking about the so-called eastern orthodox church here. They own the word!”

Click here to finish reading the article.

And no, I didn’t just link to this post because he linked to Requisite Danger – I actually agree with him wholeheartedly (imagine that!)  😛

One, Holy, Invisible Universal Church

Have you ever wondered why some churches included the phrase “we believe in the one, holy, invisible universal church” in their statement of faith or confession?

Well, I’m glad you asked. 🙂

The reason is that for a few hundred – no, make that a thousand or so – years a lot of believes believed that there was one, universal visible “church.” Like a lot of things, this visible church started out united, but became fragmented over the years leading to the development of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, the Coptic Church, the Nestorian Church and, eventually, the Protestant Church (or, should I say, churches).

Unfortunately, this fragmentation did little to change the view that there was one ‘visible church’. Instead, folks simply assumed that THEIR church was the ONE, and everyone else was not. (sigh)

Sometime during the 1500’s this view (thankfully) began to change – as noted in the Westminster Confession of 1646 which states:

The catholic or universal Church, which is invisible, consists of the whole number of the elect, that have been, are, or shall be gathered into one, under Christ the Head thereof; and is the spouse, the body, the fulness of Him that fills all in all. (Ch. XXV)

However, this was not to be the end of the debate (double sigh).

Continue reading One, Holy, Invisible Universal Church

A Plethora of Cheeses

String cheese. Brie. Cheddar. Sharp or Mild. Aged or Not. Mozzarella. Colby-Jack. Provel. Swiss. Cream. Monterey Jack. Pepperjack. Brick. Shredded. Wheel or Pie Wedge. Sliced or Sandwich. Goat cheese. Cow cheese. Not head cheese.

Some folks say, “Cheese is cheese; they are all the same.”

Others disagree claiming that the flavor of a two year-old aged sharp white Cheddar is all the rage.

Those holding wine glasses yell, “Don’t forget the Brie and Triscuits!”

Don’t forget the people holding their nose and running from the sight of cured milk.

Very few people enjoy the breadth of them all.

Yet, each cheese is made with for certain purpose. A fine Brie is not struggling to be a Peperjack; Nor is the sliced Monterey Jack trying to be a Mozzaralla cheese stick.

Why then do we try to paint all Christian movements as the same?

Continue reading A Plethora of Cheeses

Embracing The Mystery Of God

TheOrthodoxWayThe Orthodox Way by Bishop Kallistos Ware has been a joy to read – I would even go as far as to call it a spring of fresh water in the land of sureties. For so much of my life, I have been taught that God could be understood by our minds – we just had to study the Bible, pray a lot and bingo, we could figure everything out.

And yes, if you pushed these same folks would say that it is impossible to fully understand God…yet, their actions did not follow that line of reasoning. Their actions said that people with the right education could come up with the right theology which would explain God, His actions, and the world around us.

This book offered a different route.

Continue reading Embracing The Mystery Of God

Original Sin: Revisted

original-sinFour years ago during a systematic theology class through Vineyard Leadership Institute, I started to question the doctrine of original sin. Specifically, I started asking the question, “Is original sin was genetic or social?”

This questioning lead to a two part blog series in which I talked about Augustine and Pelagius view on original sin (Augustine – genetic; Pelagius – social). The end result of the series was to grudgingly follow Wayne Grudem’s conclusions, which was the best view I had heard at the time.

Fast forward a few years.

Yesterday I was reading about the Creator God in the book The Orthodox Way by Bishop Ware. This is an Eastern Orthodox theology book which has really watered my soul over the last few weeks.

In this selection, Bishop Ware talks a bit about original sin and the Eastern Orthodox view on it. As I read it, my heart jumped because it was very close to the view that I had to hold over the last four years. This, however, was the first time I have ever seen it written down – hence the excitement of my heart. Continue reading Original Sin: Revisted


signPostsThere is only one means of discovering the true nature of Christianity. We must step out upon this path, commit ourselves to this way of life, and then we shall begin to see for ourselves. So long as we remain outside, we cannot properly understand.

Certainly we need to be given directions before we start; we need to be told what signposts to look out for; and we need to have companions. Indeed, without guidance from others it is scarcely possible to begin the journey.

But directions given by others can never convey to us what the way is actually like; they cannot be a substitute for direct, personal experience. Each is called to verify the Tradition he has received. “The Creed”, said Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow, “does not belong to you unless you have lived it.”

No one can be an armchair traveler on this all-important journey. No one can be a Christian at second hand. God has children, but he has no grandchildren.

-Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

Come, my Light…

Icon of St. Dimitri of Rostov

Come, my Light, and illumine my darkness.

Come, my Life, and revive me from death.

Come, my Physician, and heal my wounds.

Come, Flame of divine love, and burn up the thorns of my sins, kindling my heart with the flame of thy love.

Come, my King, sit upon the throne of my heart and reign there.

For thou along art my King and my Lord.

St. Dimitrii of Rostov (1651-1709)

My Visit To A Greek Orthodox Church

candleIt was time.

Countless hours was spend over the last year or so reading and studying about the Eastern Orthodox Church. It was now time to visit a church and see how they do things – time to move from theology to practical application.

God also provided us with the perfect opportunity to visit such a church. Namely, we didn’t have any church responsibilities due to our son’s birth – yet, at the same time, he was taking his sweet time coming our of the womb.

So we had a “free” day in the Valley to visit the local Greek Orthodox Church. 😀

First Impressions

We arrived at 10:30 am to the Divine Liturgy – a little timid and unsure about what to expect. Walking into the chapel, we slipped into the back pew and looked around. The first thing I noticed was the lack of people (only about 7 or 10 people – all in the back of the chapel).

The second thing was the chapel itself. In a word, it was beautiful! Full of wonderful icons and candles with a glorious wooden wall separating the congregation from the ‘holy’ stage – my words for the part of the chapel housing all the religious items used during the service (i.e. crosses, candles, bells, bread, wine, Bible, etc). Continue reading My Visit To A Greek Orthodox Church

Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

bookIn some ways, Ultimate Things by Dennis Engleman is a fitting end to a year of eschatological studies. The book focused on strengthening the church for the upcoming struggles against the kingdom of darkness with several chapters devoted to standing firm.

At the same time, there were some parts of the book that I did not like – mainly the parts where the author gets away from Biblical themes and started speculating about how things will be. For example, Engleman looks at Saint Paul’s words in 2 Thess. 2:3-8 about the ‘one’ who is holding back the antichrist and interprets it as a reference to the Christian Monarchy (ie. as long as there is a Christian king/queen on the throne of the Roman Empire, the antichrist will not be reviled).

Note that for Engleman, the Christian Monarchy starts with St. Constantine in 312 AD and continues to death of the Russian Tsar Nicholas II in 1948. (Moscow is concerned the third “Rome” by the Eastern Orthodox following the destruction of Constantinople, which was the second “Rome”).  This begs the question of what kept the “man of lawlessness” from showing up prior to establishment of the Christian Monarchy in 312 AD?  😕 Continue reading Ultimate Things: An Orthodox Christian Perspective On The End Times by Dennis Engleman

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?