Author Topic: True Christianity : A Dialogue  (Read 1033 times)

Offline Michael K.

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True Christianity : A Dialogue
« on: September 25, 2015, 08:33:50 PM »


http://www.romanitas.ru/eng/

1. A DIALOGUE BETWEEN AN ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN AND A GENUINE SEEKER ON THE ORTHODOX FAITH
 
Seeker. What is Orthodoxy?

Orthodox. “Orthodoxy” means “right glory”, giving the right glory to God. For there is also a wrong glorification of God, a glorification in which He takes no pleasure. “Unto the sinner God hath said: Why declarest thou My statutes and takes up My covenant in they mouth?” (Psalm 49.17 (LXX)). Thus Orthodoxy is the giving of right glory to God through the right faith and right worship. In fact, “Orthodoxy” is often equivalent to “right faith”.

Seeker. Why is right faith necessary?

Orthodox. We cannot glorify that which we do not know, and right faith is the true knowledge of God. Those who do not have the right faith cannot glorify God rightly. To them the true believers say, not with arrogance but in humble recognition of the treasure they have received: “Ye know not what ye worship: we know what we worship” (John 4.22).

Seeker. What is the Orthodox Church?

Orthodox. The Orthodox Church is the Church which has Orthodoxy – “the faith once given to the saints”(Jude 9) and the “worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4.23) – that is, the worship of God the Father in the Son, Who is the Truth, and in the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of truth. She is the Body of Christ, the Dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit, the Ark of salvation, the True Vine. By another definition She is the Church that is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic – One in Her unity in faith and worship, Holy in Her sacraments and the multitude of holy men and women she has produced, Catholic in Her wholeness in each of Her constituent parts, Apostolic in Her origin and unbroken succession from the Apostles and in Her fidelity to the Apostolic teaching. St. Germanus of Constantinople defines the Church as “a divine house where the mystical living Sacrifice is celebrated,... and its precious stones are the divine dogmas taught by the Lord to His disciples.”

Seeker. What bigotry! What, then, are the other Churches – the Roman Catholic and the Protestant, for example?

Orthodox. They are branches that have been cut off from the True Vine in the course of the centuries. The Western Church was Orthodox for the first thousand years of Christian history. But in 1054, after a long period of decline, Rome broke away from the Orthodox East and introduced a whole series of heretical teachings: the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope, the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (the Filioque), indulgences, purgatory, created grace, etc. The Protestants broke away from Rome in the sixteenth century, but did not return to Orthodoxy and the True Church. Instead, they introduced still more heresies, rejecting Tradition, the Sacraments, praying for the dead, the veneration of Saints, etc.

Seeker. But are there not good people among the other Churches?

Orthodox. “Someone came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And He said unto him, Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but One, that is, God. But I thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments” (Matt. 19.16-17).
     Man in his present fallen state is not, and cannot be, good. “There is none that doeth good, no not one” (Psalm 13.4). Even the Apostles were called evil by the Lord (Luke 11.13). Man can become good only through union with the only Good One, God. And this union is possible only through keeping the commandments, of which the first is the command to repent and be baptized. Unless a man has repented and been baptized through the One Baptism of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, thereby receiving God’s goodness within himself, he cannot be said to be good in any real sense. For the “goodness” of the fallen, unbaptized man is not good in God’s eyes, but “filthy rags”, in the words of the Prophet Isaiah.

Seeker. So the Orthodox are good, and all the rest are bad? A pretty self-righteous religion, I should say, just the kind of Pharisaical faith the Lord condemned!

Orthodox. No, we do not say that all the Orthodox are good, because it is a sad fact that many, very many Orthodox Christians do not use the goodness, the grace that is given to them in Holy Baptism to do truly good works. And their condemnation will be greater than those who have never received Baptism. “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (II Peter 2.21). “For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the Blood of the Covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know Him Who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again: ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Heb. 10.26-31).

Seeker. What a bleak picture you paint! The unbaptized cannot do good, and those who sin after baptism are destined for even worse condemnation!

Orthodox. Not quite. Although we cannot be baptized again for the remission of sins, we can receive remission of sins in other ways: through prayer and tears, through fasting and almsgiving, above all through the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion. God does not reject those who repent with all their heart. As David says: “A heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise” (Psalm 50.17).

Seeker. But is not such repentance possible for all men? Did not David repent in the Psalm you have cited, and receive forgiveness from God?

Orthodox. Yes, but salvation does not consist only in the forgiveness of sins, but also in acquiring holiness, that holiness “without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12.14), that holiness which is given only in the sacraments of the Church and which can be lost unless we conduct an unremitting ascetic struggle against sin. Moreover, original sin can only be remitted in the baptismal font.

Seeker. So not even David was saved?

Orthodox. Not even David was saved before the Coming of Christ. Even the Patriarch Jacob anticipated going to Hades (Sheol) after his death together with his righteous son Joseph: “I shall go mourning down to my son in Hades” (Gen. 37.35). For “all these [Old Testament righteous], though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us [the New Testament Christians], that apart from us [outside the New Testament Church] they should not be made perfect” (Heb. 11.39-40).

Seeker. What is original sin?

Orthodox. A certain contagion that we receive by inheritance through our parents from Adam, who committed the original sin.

Seeker. How can we be responsible for Adam’s sin?

Orthodox. We are not responsible for it, but we are defiled by it.

Seeker. Even children?

Orthodox. Even children. For “even from the womb, sinners are estranged” (Psalm 57.3). And as Job says: “Who shall be pure from uncleanness? Not even one, even if his life should be but one day upon the earth” (Job 14.4 (LXX)).[1] Again, St. Gregory of Nyssa writes: “Evil was mixed with our nature from the beginning… through those who by their disobedience introduced the disease. Just as in the natural propagation of the species each animal engenders its like, so man is born from man, a being subject to passions from a being subject to passions, a sinner from a sinner. Thus sin takes its rise in us as we are born; it grows with us and keep us company till life’s term”.[2] That is why the Church has from the beginning practiced infant baptism “for the remission of sins”.

Seeker. It still seems unfair to me that anyone, let alone tiny children, should suffer for someone else’s sin.

Orthodox. God’s justice is not our justice. And remember: if it is unfair that we should suffer because of Adam’s sin, it is no less unfair that we should be redeemed because of Christ’s virtue. The two “injustices” are symmetrical and cancel each other out: “As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous” (Romans 5.19).

Seeker. So it is impossible to be good outside the Church, because sin and the roots of sin are extirpated only in the Church?

Orthodox. More than that: only in the Church can sin be known. For only to the Church has the will of God been made known in its fullness. And if we do not know what the will of God is, we cannot repent properly of our transgression of His will. The Church is the only hospital in which we receive both the correct diagnosis of the disease and complete healing from it.

Seeker. Alright. But how, then, are miracles are done outside the Church, and even in non-Christian religions?

Orthodox. Miracles – if they are truly from God, and not from the evil one – are a proof, not (or not necessarily) of the goodness of the human miracle-worker, but of the mercy of God.

Seeker. So if a Catholic or an Anglican or a Hindu works a miracle, that is nothing, whereas if an Orthodox does it, it’s great!

Orthodox. I didn’t say that. What I said was that the working of a miracle, if it is of God, tells us first of all that God is merciful. Whether it also proves the goodness of the human miracle-worker (or of the recipient of the miracle) is quite another question, which requires careful examination.
     I do not deny that true miracles can take place outside the Church. After all, God “maketh His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5.45). And when St. John forbade a man who was casting out demons in Christ’s name “because he followeth not us”, Christ did not approve of his action. “Forbid him not,” he said; “for there is no man which shall do a miracle in My name that can lightly speak evil of Me. For he that is not against us is on our side” (Mark 9.38-40).
     On the other hand, the Lord also said: “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? And in Thy name cast out demons? And in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you, Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity!” (Matt. 7.22-23). So it is possible to work a miracle in Christ’s name, and yet be an evil man. And God may work the miracle through the evil man, not in order to testify to the man’s (non-existent) goodness, but purely out of compassion for the miracle’s recipient. After all, Judas worked miracles – but St. John the Baptist, the greatest born of woman, worked no miracles…
     Nor must we forget that Christian-looking miracles and prophecies can be done through the evil one. Thus a girl spoke the truth about the Apostle Paul, exhorting people to follow him – but she spoke through a pythonic spirit which Paul exorcised (Acts 16.16-18). I believe that the vast majority of miracles worked in pagan religions such as Hinduism are from the evil one; for “all the gods of the heathen are demons” (Psalm 95.5).

Seeker. If even miracle-workers can be of the evil one, who can be saved?

Orthodox. One must always distinguish between the possession of spiritual gifts and salvation. “Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you;” said the Lord, “but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10.20). “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (I Cor. 13.2).

Seeker. Ah now that’s where I agree with you! Love is the essential mark of the Christian. And I have to say that’s just what I find distinctly lacking in your exposition. Such pride to think that you Orthodox, and you alone, belong to the True Church! And such hatred to think that everyone except you is going to be damned!

Orthodox. But I didn’t say that!

Seeker. You did!

Orthodox. I said that the Church of Christ, by which I mean exclusively the Orthodox Church, is the only Ark of salvation. But I did not say that all those in the Ark will be saved, for they may cast themselves out of it by their evil deeds. And I did not say that those who are swimming towards the Ark but who were cut off from entering it before their death, cannot be saved. Who knows whether the Sovereign God, Who knows the hearts of all men, may not choose to stretch out His hand to those who, through ignorance or adverse circumstances, were not able to enter the Ark before the darkness of death descended upon them, but who in their hearts and minds were striving for the truth? “Charity hopeth all things” (I Cor. 13.7).

Seeker. [ironically] How charitable of you! But this is more a pious hope than an article of faith for you, isn’t it?

Orthodox. Of course. From the point of dogmatic faith, we can and must assert that, as St. Cyprian of Carthage said, “there is no salvation outside the Church”.[3] For the Lord Himself says, with great emphasis: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God” (John 3.5). And again: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, unless you eat of the Flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His Blood, you have no life in you” (John 6.53). And the Apostle Peter says: “If the righteous man is scarcely saved, where will the impious and sinner appear?” (I Peter 4.18).
     Moreover, if we, arrogantly presuming to be more “merciful” than the Merciful Lord Himself, take it upon ourselves to “absolve” those living in false religions or heresies, we sin not only against dogmatic faith, but also against love. For then we make ourselves guilty of misleading them and leading them further into error by giving them the false hope that they can stay in their falsehood without danger to their immortal souls. We take away from them the fear of God and the spur to search out the truth, which alone can save them.

Seeker. And yet you spoke earlier about “ignorance and adverse circumstances”. Surely God takes that into account!

Orthodox. Of course He does. But “taking into account” is not the same as “absolving of all guilt”. Remember the parable of the negligent servants: “That servant who knew His master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to His will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating” (Luke 12.47-48). In other words, ignorance of the Lord’s will and of His truth can mitigate His sentence, but it cannot remove it altogether.

Seeker. Why? Did not the same Lord say: “If ye were blind, ye would have no sin” (John 9.41)?

Orthodox. Because we are never totally blind, and, being rational sheep made in the image of the Good Shepherd, always have some access to that “Light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1.9). Thus the Apostle Paul says plainly that pagans who do not believe in the One Creator of the universe are “without excuse”; “for what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and divinity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1.19-20). God “did not leave Himself without witness” even among the pagans, “for He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14.17).
     The Holy Fathers say that every man has creation outside him and conscience within to lead him away from falsehood and towards the Church, which is the third great witness to the truth, “the pillar and ground of the truth”, as St. Paul calls it (I Tim. 3.15). Creation and conscience alone cannot reveal the whole truth to him; but if he follows that partial revelation which creation and conscience provide, God will help him to find the fullness of truth in the Church. Nor is there any situation in life, however remote from, and opposed to, the Church, from which the Lord, Who wishes that all be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth, cannot rescue the genuine seeker.

 Seeker. But what if the pagan or the heretic has never met the truth in the Church, or has met only very sinful or ignorant representatives of the Church? Can he not then be said to be blind and ignorant, and therefore not sinning?

Orthodox. Everything depends on the nature and degree of the ignorance. There is voluntary ignorance and involuntary ignorance. If there were not such a thing as involuntary ignorance, the Lord would not have said on the Cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23.34). And His prayer was answered, for on the Day of Pentecost, Peter called on the Jews to repent, saying, “I know that you acted in ignorance” (Acts 3.17), after which thousands repented and were baptized. Again, the Apostle Paul “received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief” (I Tim. 1.13). But note that all these people responded to the truth when it was presented to them. This showed that their ignorance had been involuntary, and therefore excusable.
     On the other hand, there is a hardness of heart that refuses to respond to the signs God gives of His truth, the signs from without and the promptings from within. This is voluntary ignorance. People who are hardened in this way do not know the truth because they do not want to know it. This stubborn refusal to accept the truth is what the Lord calls “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 12.32), which will not be forgiven in this world or the next.

Seeker. Why can it not be forgiven?

Orthodox. Because forgiveness is given only to the penitent, and penitence is a recognition of the truth about oneself. However, if a man refuses to face the truth, and actively fights against it in his soul, he cannot repent, and so cannot be forgiven. In fighting against truth, he is fighting against the Holy Spirit of truth, Who leads into all truth (John 16.13). It is possible for a man to be sincerely mistaken about Christ for a while, and this can be forgiven him, as it was forgiven to the Apostle Paul. But if such ignorance is compounded by a rejection of the promptings to truth placed in the soul by the Spirit of truth, there is no hope. So the pagan who stubbornly remains in His paganism in spite of the evidence of creation and conscience, and the heretic who stubbornly remains in his heresy in spite of the teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, are both blaspheming against the Spirit of truth, and cannot be saved.

Seeker. So is there really no hope for the heretic?

Orthodox. While there is life there is hope. And there are many examples of people who have remained in heresy all their lives but have been converted to the truth just before their death. There is no hope only for those who do not love the truth. Such people the Lord will not lead to His truth, because they do not desire it. Rather, He will allow them to be deceived by the Antichrist “because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sendeth upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (II Thess. 2.10-12).

Seeker. Alright. But I am still not convinced that only your Church is the True Church. In fact, I am not happy with the concept of “the One True Church” in general. It smacks of bigotry and intolerance to me.

Orthodox. You know, tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Love is.

Seeker. You amaze me! Is not tolerance a form of love? And is not all hatred forbidden for the Christian?

Orthodox. No. The Lord our God is a zealous God, and He expects zeal from us – zeal for the good, and hatred for the evil. “Ye that love the Lord, see to it that ye hate evil” (Psalm 96.11). What He hates most of all is lukewarmness: “I know your works: ye are neither cold nor hot. Would that ye were cold or hot! So, because ye are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth… So be zealous and repent” (Rev. 3.15-16, 19). St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote: “The Lawgiver of our life has enjoined upon us one single hatred. I mean that of the serpent, for no other purpose has He bidden us exercise this faculty of hatred, but as a resource against wickedness.”

Seeker. But that still means we are not allowed to hate human beings. Are we not meant to hate the sin and love the sinner? This is the kind of teaching that leads to burning heretics at the stake!

Orthodox. No. Neither St. Gregory nor any other saint of the Orthodox Church that I know of advocated persecuting people for their religious convictions. Christian love abhors using violence as a means of persuading people. But it does not go to the other extreme and ceases trying to persuade them. Nor, if they persist in their false teachings, does it hold back from protecting others from their influence! If we love the sinner and hate his sin, then we must do everything in our power both to deliver him from that sin and protect others from being contaminated by it.

Seeker. I think this is the kind of bigotry that comes from believing that one is in “the One True Church”. It is the source of religious persecution, the Inquisition, etc.

Orthodox. The cause of religious persecution is not the claim to possess the truth, which all rational people who have thought out their beliefs claim, but human passions.

Seeker. What about Ivan the Terrible? What about most of the Orthodox emperors? Did they not discriminate against heresy?

Orthodox. Ivan was excommunicated by the Church, and was rather a persecutor of the Orthodox than an instrument of their persecuting others. As for the emperors’ discriminating against heresy, I am all in favour of that. It is irrational to place truth and falsehood on an equal footing. St. Theodosius of the Kiev Caves, one of the greatest saints who ever lived, said that by honouring others’ faiths we dishonour our own. Do our schools give equal honour to the theories of Ptolemy and Newton? Of course not!

Seeker. But that’s different! There we’re talking about scientific facts!

Orthodox. I don’t see any difference in principle. Our principle is: speak the truth at all times, reject falsehood at all times. If scientists do that in their sphere, where there is no certainty and “facts” are constantly being disputed by later investigators, why should we not do it in the incomparably higher and more important sphere of religious faith, whose incontrovertible facts have been communicated to us by the Truth Himself? For as St. Paul says about the Gospel: “I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1.12).

Seeker. And if everyone claims to have received a revelation from God?

Orthodox. Then we must patiently investigate who is telling the truth and who has been deceived by “the father of lies”. Just as scientists have methods for comparing different hypotheses and determining which (if any) is the correct one, so do we Orthodox Christians have methods of determining what is truth and what is falsehood in the religious sphere. And just as scientists will never accept that there can be more than one true explanation of an empirical phenomenon, so we will never accept that there can be more than one religious truth.

Seeker. Cannot different religious faiths each reveal part of the truth?

Orthodox. No. The Truth is One, and has been revealed to us by the Truth Himself: “One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism” (Eph. 4.4).

Seeker. So there is no truth at all in any of the non-Christian religions?

Orthodox. I didn’t say that. Satan likes to appear as an angel of light (II Cor. 11.14); he mixes “truth with unrighteousness” (Rom. 1.18). Thus with the bait of such fair-seeming ideals as “love”, “peace” and “freedom”, which correctly interpreted are indeed goods from God, he lures them into an abyss of falsehood. There is only one religion which contains “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth”. All the others, being parasitical on the One Truth, contain partial truths, but make even these partial truths false by association with falsehood, just as even a small dose of poison in a wholesome loaf makes the whole loaf poisonous.

Seeker. So there are partial truths in other religions, but no salvation?

Orthodox. Right. For as St. Peter said of Christ: “There is salvation in none other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4.12).

Seeker. What about the Muslims and the Jews? Do they not believe in the same God as we – the God of Abraham, their common ancestor?

Orthodox. The Lord said to the Jews: “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8.39). And St. Paul said: “Know ye therefore that they which are of the faith” – that is, the faith in Christ – “are the children of Abraham” (Gal. 3.7). The God of Abraham is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ; Abraham himself looked forward to the Coming of Christ in the flesh – “Abraham saw My day and was glad” (John 8.56).

Seeker. Alright. But do not the Jews and Muslims also believe in the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, Who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Orthodox. We believe that the great majority of the Old Testament Theophanies were in fact appearances of God the Son, not God the Father. Contrary to the belief of the Jehovah’s witnesses, the “Jehovah” of the Old Testament is Christ Himself; Moses and Elijah appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration to show that it is He Who appeared to them in the cloud and the fire and the still, small voice; it is He Who is the God of the Law and the Prophets.
     In any case, since God is a Trinity of Persons, it is impossible rightly to believe in One of the Persons and not in the Others. For “whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father” (I John 2.23).

Seeker. But do not the Muslims believe in Christ after their fashion?

Orthodox. They believe that He is a prophet who is coming again to judge the world. But they do not believe in His Divinity, nor in His Cross and Resurrection – the central dogmas of our Faith. Moreover, they believe in the false prophet Mohammed, who contradicts Christ’s teaching in many respects. If they truly believed in Christ, they would not follow Mohammed’s teaching instead of Christ’s.

Seeker. But the Jews are the chosen people, are they not?

Orthodox. They were the chosen people, but then God rejected them for their unbelief and scattered them across the face of the earth, choosing the believing Gentiles in their place.

Seeker. But the religion of the Old Testament was the true religion, was it not? And insofar as they practise that religion, they are true believers, are they not?

Orthodox. The religion of the Old Testament was a true foreshadowing of, and preparation for, the full revelation of the Truth in Jesus Christ. But once the fullness of the Truth has appeared, it is impious to remain with the shadow; indeed, to mistake the shadow of the Truth for the Truth Himself is a grievous delusion. In any case, the Jews do not practise the Old Testament religion.

Seeker. What are you talking about?! Of course they do!

Orthodox. Since the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., it has been impossible for the Jews to practise the main commandment of their religion, which was to worship God with sacrifices in the Temple three times a year – at Pascha, Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Thus has the prophecy of the Prophet Hosea been fulfilled: “The children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim” (Hosea 3.4).

Seeker. What is their present religion then?

Orthodox. Not the religion of the Old Testament, but the religion of the Pharisees, which Christ rejected as being merely “the traditions of men”. Its relationship to the Old Testament is tenuous. Its real holy book is not the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament, but the Talmud, a collection of the teachings of the Pharisees.

Seeker. And what does that teach?

Orthodox. The most extreme hatred of Christ and Christians. Not only does the Talmud deny the Divinity and Resurrection of Christ: it reviles Him as a sorcerer and a bastard, the son of a Roman soldier called Panthera and an unclean woman. Moreover, it teaches a double standard of morality: one for fellow Jews, quite another for the goyim, the Gentiles, who are not even accorded the dignity of fully human beings.

Seeker. But is this not anti-semitism?

Orthodox. Anti-semitism as a racist attitude of hatred for all Jews as such is of course contrary to the Christian Gospel. Nor can Christians approve of those cruelties that have been perpetrated against them (not the discrimination against their teaching, but the physical violence against their persons) down the centuries. But this in no way implies that Christians must participate in the campaign of whitewashing the Jews that has been continuing for nearly a century in both religious and non-religious circles. As the Gospels clearly indicate, the Jews killed Christ and brought His Blood upon themselves and upon their children. Nor has their hatred of Christ and Christians lessened down the centuries: anti-semitism is in large measure the reaction of Christians and Gentiles to the anti-Gentilism of the Talmud, which approves of all manner of crimes against Gentiles, including murder and extortion. In recent times, as Winston Churchill and many others have testified, the Jews were the leaders and inspirers of the anti-Christian and anti-monarchical revolutionary movement; they plotted the Russian revolution and put it into effect with the utmost ruthlessness – 95% of the leading Bolsheviks were Jews. (Of course, the Bolsheviks were atheist rather than Talmudic Jews. Nevertheless, the influence of the Talmud and the Rabbis on their hatred of Christian civilization cannot be denied.) The promise, in the same week of October, 1917, of a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine was a “coincidence” no discerning Christian can ignore, and whose significance for our times is immense. For the constant tradition of the Church has been that the Antichrist will be a Jew ruling from Jerusalem in a reclaimed State of Israel…

Seeker. But must we not love the Jews, even if they are our enemies?

Orthodox. Indeed, we must love our enemies and pray for them, as Christ commanded. In particular, we must pray that they will be converted and return to Christ, as St. Paul prophesied would happen in the last times. “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11.15).

Seeker. What you say makes sense, but I have one fundamental objection to everything you say.

Orthodox. What is that?

Seeker. You claim that this is Orthodoxy, but I know that it is not.

Orthodox. What do you mean?

Seeker. Your hierarchs participate in the ecumenical movement, which is based on principles completely contrary to the Orthodoxy you preach.

Orthodox. Actually, my hierarchs do not participate in the ecumenical movement. However, your mistake is understandable, because those large organizations and patriarchates which are associated in the public eye with Orthodoxy, such as the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Moscow Patriarchate, the Serbian Patriarchate, etc., do take part in the ecumenical movement. But we have no communion with them, because they have betrayed Orthodoxy.

Seeker. How can the leaders of Orthodoxy be said to have betrayed Orthodoxy?! It’s like saying that the Pope has betrayed Catholicism!

Orthodox. But he did! It was the Popes who in the second half of the eleventh century betrayed Orthodox Catholicism and the Orthodox Catholic Church, making it – or rather, that part of it which submitted it to them – into something quite different: the Roman (pseudo-) Catholic Church. In the same way, in the twentieth century, it is the leaders of the official Orthodox Churches who have betrayed Orthodoxy, making it into something quite different: “World Orthodoxy” or “Ecumenist Orthodoxy”.
     You must remember that just as “he is not a Jew who is one outwardly” (Rom. 2.28), but only he who belongs to “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6.16), that is, the Church of Christ, so he is not an Orthodox Christian who is one outwardly, but only he who confesses his Orthodoxy in word and deed. Fortunately, there are still Orthodox Christians who are so in truth, and not merely in appearance, and who have separated from the prevailing apostasy. And these, however few they are or will become, remain that Church against which the gates of hell will not prevail (Matt. 16.18), and of whom the Lord of the Church said: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” (Luke 12.32).

Seeker. Well, I am relieved to hear that. For I was convinced by your words, but was beginning to think that nobody practised that truth which I have come to believe in.

Orthodox. Welcome to the true Faith of Christ, brother! And do not fear: however small the Church on earth becomes, the Church in heaven is growing all the time, until the very end of the world. For “you have come to Mount Zion and to the City of the Living God, the Heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable Angels in festal gathering, and to the Assembly of the Firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to a Judge Who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the sprinkled Blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel…” (Heb. 12.22-24).
 
May 21 / June 3, 2004.
Holy Equals-to-the-Apostles Emperors Constantine and Helena.



Offline Christopher Marlowe

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Re: True Christianity : A Dialogue
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2015, 08:45:40 PM »
the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope:
Quote
(Mt 16:17-19: And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.)


the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (the Filioque)
Quote
John 20:21-23: He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.


indulgences

Quote
See Mt 16 above: And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven

purgatory
Quote
And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. [40] And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.

[40] Of the donaries: That is, of the votive offerings, which had been hung up in the temples of the idols, which they had taken away when they burnt the port of Jamnia, ver. 9., contrary to the prohibition of the law, Deut. 7. 25.

[41] Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. [42] And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. [43] And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, [44] (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) [45] And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

[45] With godliness: Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death.

[46] It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
CM-- If a person is dead and in heaven, then he is not bound by sin.  If a person is dead and in hell, then he cannot be loosed from hell.  So there must be 3rd place for the dead, who are not yet loosed from sins but can be. 

This can be seen in Matthew 5:
Quote
Mt 5:25-26 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
[26] Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.
And, as their wealth increaseth, so inclose
     Infinite riches in a little room

Offline Michael K.

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Re: True Christianity : A Dialogue
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2015, 08:57:13 PM »
N.148 16:18a "On this rock" (taute te petra) -- feminine demonstrative pronoun and article--does not refer to the person of Peter. Christ would have used the masculine if He were referring to the person of Peter.

Blessed Theophylact: "The Lord is saying, 'This confession which you have made shall be the foundation of those who believe,'" [P.G.123:85B (col. 320).]

Saint Chrysostom: "'Upon this rock I will build.': that is, on the faith of the confession. [Hom. 54, P.G.58:518 (col. 534).]

Saint Leo: "Upon this firmness, He says, I shall raise My Temple, and it will rise upon the steadfastness of this faith, and the loftiness of My Church will mingle with the heavens. The gates of Hades shall not master this profession; nor the bonds of death bind it. For these words are the words of life, and as they raise those who confess them up to heaven, so they plunge those that deny them down to hell." [Sermon 83(2), P.G.54 (col. 429), in FC, 93:357; Toal, III:267, 268.]

Saint Bede: "'Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock from which thour didst receive thy name, that is, upon Me Myself, I will build My Church. Upon this perfection of faith which thou didst confess I will build My Church, and if anyone turns aside from the society of this confession, even though it may seem to him that he does great thiings, he will not beliong to the building which is My Church,;: ["Homily I.165, Aftr Epiphany," Homilies on the Gospels,Bk. One. 163.]

I meant to ask you, how is it going with your infallible pope, now that he tells you that your true hope is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but Agenda 2030 and a very Jewish "new form of social consensus"?
« Last Edit: September 26, 2015, 09:07:21 PM by Michael K. »

Offline Christopher Marlowe

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Re: True Christianity : A Dialogue
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2015, 07:26:42 PM »
N.148 16:18a "On this rock" (taute te petra) -- feminine demonstrative pronoun and article--does not refer to the person of Peter. Christ would have used the masculine if He were referring to the person of Peter.

First of all we have to understand that the original koine Greek translation did not have this distinction in gender between nouns for rock:
Quote
As Greek scholars—even non-Catholic ones—admit, the words petros and petra were synonyms in first century Greek. They meant "small stone" and "large rock" in some ancient Greek poetry, centuries before the time of Christ, but that distinction had disappeared from the language by the time Matthew’s Gospel was rendered in Greek. The difference in meaning can only be found in Attic Greek, but the New Testament was written in Koine Greek—an entirely different dialect. In Koine Greek, both petros and petra simply meant "rock." If Jesus had wanted to call Simon a small stone, the Greek lithos would have been used.  (For an Evangelical Protestant Greek scholar’s admission of this, see D. A. Carson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984], Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., 8:368).

One must keep in mind that Jesus did not say this in Greek or in Latin, so the gender of rocks in those languages would be irrelevant.  Jesus spoke Aramaic:

Quote
We know that Jesus spoke Aramaic because some of his words are preserved for us in the Gospels. Look at Matthew 27:46, where he says from the cross, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That isn’t Greek; it’s Aramaic, and it means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

"In Paul’s epistles—four times in Galatians and four times in 1 Corinthians—we have the Aramaic form of Simon’s new name preserved for us. In our English Bibles it comes out as Cephas. That isn’t Greek. That’s a transliteration of the Aramaic word Kepha (rendered as Kephas in its Hellenistic form).

"And what does Kepha mean? It means a rock, the same as petra. (It doesn’t mean a little stone or a pebble. What Jesus said to Simon in Matthew 16:18 was this: ‘You are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build my Church.’

"When you understand what the Aramaic says, you see that Jesus was equating Simon and the rock; he wasn’t contrasting them. We see this vividly in some modern English translations, which render the verse this way: ‘You are Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church.’ In French one word, pierre, has always been used both for Simon’s new name and for the rock."

Those other explanations are really reaching, and they are an unnatural understanding of the text.

Why would Jesus call Simon "rock" and then start talking about another completely different "rock"?
If Jesus had done such a confusing comparison, there would be some linguistic clue in the conjunction: He would have used "but" instead of "and"; i.e. I will call you little rock, BUT on THIS big rock I will build my church.

These explanations also do not fit in with what follows: I will give you the KEYS of the kingdom.  It is very obvious that Jesus was giving Peter authority.  This is the natural meaning from the paragraph.   


I meant to ask you, how is it going with your infallible pope, now that he tells you that your true hope is not the Lord Jesus Christ, but Agenda 2030 and a very Jewish "new form of social consensus"?
Bergoglio is either a retard or an evil person ... or an evil retard. He is obviously a heretic. Bergoglio's first encyclical said that the Jewish covenant was still valid, which is heresy.

But one must understand what infallibility means. It does NOT meant the Pope is always right or that the Pope cannot utter a heresy. Peter erred in how he behaved in front of the Jews, and St Paul rebuked him to his face. 

The Church teaches that the Pope is only infallible when he is speaking to the whole Church, on a matter of faith and morals, intending that the the Church be bound for all time.  In other words, the Pope is only infallible when deciding a question of dogma.  The Church's dogma is infallible.  But at Vatican II, for example, the council decided beforehand that they would NOT be deciding matters of dogma, and so that council is, by its own standards, not infallible.  The whole council can be tossed into the garbage.  And it should be tossed, IMHO. 

St Francis prophesied that there would be an uncanonically elected pope, and that he would be a destroyer:

Quote
Act bravely, my Brethren; take courage, and trust in the Lord. The time is fast approaching in which there will be great trials and afflictions; perplexities and dissensions, both spiritual and temporal, will abound; the charity of many will grow cold, and the malice of the wicked will increase.

The devils will have unusual power, the immaculate purity of our Order, and of others, will be so much obscured that there will be very few Christians who will obey the true Sovereign Pontiff and the Roman Church with loyal hearts and perfect charity. At the time of this tribulation a man, not canonically elected, will be raised to the Pontificate, who, by his cunning, will endeavour to draw many into error and death.

Then scandals will be multiplied, our Order will be divided, and many others will be entirely destroyed, because they will consent to error instead of opposing it.

There will be such diversity of opinions and schisms among the people, the religious and the clergy, that, except those days were shortened, according to the words of the Gospel, even the elect would be led into error, were they not specially guided, amid such great confusion, by the immense mercy of God.

Then our Rule and manner of life will be violently opposed by some, and terrible trials will come upon us. Those who are found faithful will receive the crown of life; but woe to those who, trusting solely in their Order, shall fall into tepidity, for they will not be able to support the temptations permitted for the proving of the elect.

Those who preserve their fervour and adhere to virtue with love and zeal for the truth, will suffer injuries and, persecutions as rebels and schismatics; for their persecutors, urged on by the evil spirits, will say they are rendering a great service to God by destroying such pestilent men from the face of the earth. But the Lord will be the refuge of the afflicted, and will save all who trust in Him. And in order to be like their Head [Jesus Christ], these, the elect, will act with confidence, and by their death will purchase for themselves eternal life; choosing to obey God rather than man, they will fear nothing, and they will prefer to perish [physically] rather than consent to falsehood and perfidy.

Some preachers will keep silence about the truth, and others will trample it under foot and deny it. Sanctity of life will be held in derision even by those who outwardly profess it, for in those days Jesus Christ will send them not a true Pastor, but a destroyer.

I believe that God is punishing the Church by sending evil pastors. St John Eudes said,

Quote
The most evident mark of God’s anger and the most terrible castigation He can inflict upon the world are manifested when He permits His people to fall into the hands of clergy who are priests more in name than in deed, priests who practice the cruelty of ravening wolves rather than charity and affection of devoted shepherds ... Instead of nourishing those committed to their care, they rend and devour them brutally.

Instead of leading their people to God, they drag Christian souls into hell in their train. Instead of being the salt of the earth and the light of the world, they are its innocuous poison and its murky darkness...."

They abandon the things of God to devote themselves to the things of the world and, in their saintly calling of holiness, they spend their time in profane and worldly pursuits.

“When God permits such things, it is a very positive proof that He is thoroughly angry with His people, and is visiting His most dreadful anger upon them. That is why He cries unceasingly to Christians, ‘Return O ye revolting children ... and I will give you pastors according to My own heart’. (Jer. 3:14,15) Thus, irregularities in the lives of priests constitute a scourge upon the people in consequence of sin.”

The worst punishment God can give is to send wicked pastors. Faggot priests are a curse sent by God. Therefore we need to make reparations by prayer and fasting. And God will not punish us forever, but He will be merciful and send us a true pope.  The most needed action is for the Pope to consecrate Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  This was the request of Our Lady of Fatima. After Russia is consecrated, I believe that there will be a reunification of the Catholic and the Orthodox, and then a Golden Age will follow.  It is prophesied that we are currently in the 5th age of the church: the age of apostasy.  The next age of the Church will be a brief golden age of the Blessed Mother. Then there will be the final age, which is the brief age of the antichrist.   
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Offline Michael K.

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Re: True Christianity : A Dialogue
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2015, 08:18:57 PM »
Well Mr. Marlowe, your argument about the meaning of "the rock" avoids addressing the Latin example given, by making a vague reference to what the "real" or original language the words were written in, but then fails to prove the case using alone that doubt created in the vagaries of translational, which is a subject for experts. 

More to the point, your language Latin in which your blessed forebears wrote down the Scripture, as it was understood by them, clearly uses the feminine and not the masculine, meaning the "confesssion" itself was the subject, not Peter, of the saying 'upon this (feminine) rock, I will build my church.'

And you did not refute the multiple dogmatic statements from the fathers of the pre-schismic, One Holy and Catholic Church, many of whom were doctoral scholars in the Greek, which you refer to as authoritative.  And the Greek Church, having received it in the authoritative language, have always believed and persist in beleiveing that the "rock" Jesus built his Church on is the confession that He the the true, Son of God, the Messiah.

Regarding the bishop of Rome, the successor to the Apostle Peter, he is regarded as primus inter pares, first among equals of all the bishops.  And I think it is evident that the reason for this is that the bishop of Rome was standing up for God in the very seat of supreme pagan power, and that took a hard man, a fighter,  a rock, immovable and obstinately opposing the corruption, immorality and abuse of power by the great men of Rome. 

In this context, I see the passage from the St.Paul's Second Epistle to the Thessalonian:

Quote
The Man of Lawlessness
2 Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2 not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4 He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

5 Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6 And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7 For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.


So, in that passage, I see the common understanding developing among the New Testament Church of the first few years, that Peter restrained the Roman government, the seat of the power of Antichrist.  And when the last pope got taken out of the way, in fact where is poor Benedict, under house arrest?

Offline giuseppepaolo

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Re: True Christianity : A Dialogue
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2016, 09:16:10 PM »
the infallibility and universal jurisdiction of the Pope:
Quote
(Mt 16:17-19: And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. [18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven.)


the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son (the Filioque)
Quote
John 20:21-23: He said therefore to them again: Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. [22] When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. [23] Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained.


indulgences

Quote
See Mt 16 above: And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven

purgatory
Quote
And the day following Judas came with his company, to take away the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen, in the sepulchres of their fathers. [40] And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.

[40] Of the donaries: That is, of the votive offerings, which had been hung up in the temples of the idols, which they had taken away when they burnt the port of Jamnia, ver. 9., contrary to the prohibition of the law, Deut. 7. 25.

[41] Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden. [42] And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain. [43] And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection, [44] (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,) [45] And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.

[45] With godliness: Judas hoped that these men who died fighting for the cause of God and religion, might find mercy: either because they might be excused from mortal sin by ignorance; or might have repented of their sin, at least at their death.

[46] It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.
CM-- If a person is dead and in heaven, then he is not bound by sin.  If a person is dead and in hell, then he cannot be loosed from hell.  So there must be 3rd place for the dead, who are not yet loosed from sins but can be. 

This can be seen in Matthew 5:
Quote
Mt 5:25-26 Be at agreement with thy adversary betimes, whilst thou art in the way with him: lest perhaps the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
[26] Amen I say to thee, thou shalt not go out from thence till thou repay the last farthing.

I see that you believe in the purgatory. If in the positive, can you say then that in believing in the purgatory it is both Catholic and Orthodox doctrine?
"I believe all of history is just one big battle between good and evil. I don't want to be on the sidelines."