Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Concerns about Eastern Orthodoxy

There maybe a lot of material regarding the subject of Roman Catholicism, but there isn't really that much material that I have come across regarding dealing with the issues that are prelevant within the Eastern Orthodox. It is my fond hope to address the issues in Eastern Orthodoxy in the hopes that the Eastern Orthodox recognise their errors and turn to Christ away from their falsehood. I shall spend the next few videos addressing the issues of the Eastern Orthodox church that I need to address.

IconsThe first issue which I have come across is regarding the issues of the veneration of icons in a lecture that was conducted on the subject of icons at an Orthodox School.

One claim you'll here from the Eastern Orthodox adherents is that they do not worship the icons themeselves but rather venerate them. They also make it clear that they don't worship it but respect it.
However, the problem I see is that wouldn't cut any ice with God in the OT or the NT itself. We know that cherubim were placed on the ark, they were images of 3D, but they were not to be worshiped as idols nor bowed to in religious reverence. The same thing can be said about icons itself, Although one can claim he or she is respecting the person the image represents rather than the image, how can one justify using the icon in this way? The cherubim and the snake that Moses uses were used for a purpose but were not to be venerated at all. Surely the same principle would apply to an icon itself?

Wouldn't this be a form of idolatry itself? Even if it's veneration and not worship in your sight, what would it be in God's sight?

In Exodus in the decalogue in the second commandment says:
"4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

This doesn't forbid painting icons or building an image for decoration, it does however repudiate the idea of using the icon and the statue for the purpose of worship or even for devout veneration.

Again, I am aware the Eastern Orthodox claim not to worship icons but venerate them instead, but it is still a concern.

In the lecture, Corey John Keeble, the man who presented the lecture, mentions in passing John of Damascus on the subject of icons itself. While I agree on John Damascene's interpretation on Philippians 2 that it teaches Christ's deity which is another topic, The main problems I have with John of Damascus' sermon on icons is his endorsement of venerating images. One point he makes in his first sermon is "You who refuse to worship images, would not worship the Son of God, the living image of the invisible God and his unchanging form".

Though we do worship Christ is YHWH God, we do not worship the flesh. John of Damascus' point about refusing to venerating images entails refusing to worship the Son of God doesn't logically follow at all. Christ commanded that all are to honor the Son just as all are to honor the Father. Jesus would never endorse the veneration of a drawing at all.

Furthermore, the point that John makes about the cheribim, doesn't justify veneration of icons for a simple reason, The Jews did not construct the icons for that purpose. Furthermore, to anathemeatize those who forbid the veneration of icons as those who are trying to put people back under the law is unthinkable, the apostle Paul made it clear that idolaters will not inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.

Another point to bring to the table is that that the Jews bowed to the Shekinah glory that is found in the temple and the tabernacle, not to the actual artifacts themselves. Although John later says in the second part of his treatise that image making was forbidden on account of idolatry, he goes onto say the following:
"I never said thou shall not make the image of the cheribim in adoration before the propitiatory. What I said was Thou shalt not make to thyself gods of metal and thou shalt not make to thyself gods of metal, and thou shalt thou adore the creature instead of the Creator, nor any creature whatsoever as God,nor have I served the creature rather than the creator."

Once again however, assuming I have read the quotation correctly, I have already made a point about the cheribim itself so I needn't go into too much detail regarding this matter itself. Although the repudiation of Manichean Gnostism is commendable, John of Damascus should not anathematise those who refuse to icon veneration. I deem this a case of correcting error with error rather than correcting error with truth. Yes matter is treated as good in the Bible, but not in the sense of icon veneration. Even though the cross is a biblical symbol, we are not to venerate the cross, but the one who died on it.

Also, the serpent in the wilderness allowed people to be saved from the disaster and that incident is used by Jesus as typology pointing to his lifting up and people looking to him for their salvation. The serpent wasn't used as a means of veneration initially nor was it built for that purpose. Hezekiah destroyed it because of it's usage in idolatry.

Though the saints in the New Testaments are held in high esteem, I would not say that this allows us to venerate them, considering that is not the point of the writer of the Hebrews himself. The anonomous writer uses them as examples of faith in the OT saints, rather than for a personal devotion and though we are not under the Law, that still doesn't allow us to venerate saints or icons in this insane manner, nor are we obligated to.

Though there aren't any explicit commands regarding this issue, it should be obviously from the context of the Decalogue that icons are covered in this regard.
You can read the subject of John's letters online itself.

I am persuaded in my mind about one reason why we are not given a description of Jesus while he exists on the earth itself, it is to safeguard the brethen and the saints from bowing to an image or icon of Christ, rather than bowing to Yeshua himself.

BaptismThe subject of baptism is interesting. Unlike Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox actually baptise a person thrice, once for each member of the Trinity itself. The earliest referrence that mentions a three time cleansing in the Didache which says in chapter 7:
"Chapter 7. Concerning Baptism. And concerning baptism, baptize this way: Having first said all these things, baptize into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in living water. But if you have no living water, baptize into other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, do so in warm. But if you have neither, pour out water three times upon the head into the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let the baptizer fast, and the baptized, and whoever else can; but you shall order the baptized to fast one or two days before. "

The only time that is indicated in the text a three time cleansing is mentioned. I wouldn't say that this is to much of a problem, however, If I recall, Some Eastern Orthodox do practise infant baptism, which I do not see as something that should be done. Baptism is pointless if there is no repentance accompanying it and a child does not have the incentive to repent, considering he doesn't understand.
Tertullian's treatise on baptism notes and interesting point in Chapter 18 is whether or not baptising infants is something to do.

"CHAP. XVIII.--OF THE PERSONS TO WHOM, AND THE TIME WHEN, BAPTISM IS TO BE ADMINISTERED.
But they whose office it is, know that baptism is not rashly to be administered. "Give to every one who beggeth thee," has a reference of its own, appertaining especially to almsgiving. On the contrary, this precept is rather to be looked at carefully: "Give not the holy thing to the dogs, nor cast your pearls before swine;" and, "Lay not hands easily on any; share not other men's sins." If Philip so "easily" baptized the chamberlain, let us reflect that a manifest and conspicuous evidence that the Lord deemed him worthy 678
had been interposed. The Spirit had enjoined Philip to proceed to that road: the eunuch himself, too, was not found idle, nor as one who was suddenly seized with an eager desire to be baptized; but, after going up to the temple for prayer's sake, being intently engaged on the divine Scripture, was thus suitably discovered--to whom God had, unasked, sent an apostle, which one, again, the Spirit bade adjoin himself to the chamberlain's chariot. The Scripture which he was reading falls in opportunely with his faith: Philip, being requested, is taken to sit beside him; the Lord is pointed out; faith lingers not; water needs no waiting for; the work is completed, and the apostle snatched away. "But Paul too was, in fact, 'speedily' baptized:" for Simon, his host, speedily recognized him to be "an appointed vessel of election." God's approbation sends sure premonitory tokens before it; every "petition " may both deceive and be deceived. And so, according to the circumstances and disposition, and even age, of each individual, the delay of baptism is preferable; principally, however, in the case of little children.
For why is it necessary--if (baptism itself) is not so necessary--that the sponsors likewise should be thrust into danger? Who both themselves, by reason of mortality, may fail to fulfil their promises, and may be disappointed by the development of an evil disposition, in those for whom they stood? The Lord does indeed say, "Forbid them not to come unto me." Let them "come," then, while they are growing up; let them "come" while they are learning, while they are learning whither to come; let them become Christians when they have become able to know Christ. Why does the innocent period of life hasten to the "remission of sins?" More caution will be exercised in worldly matters: so that one who is not trusted with earthly substance is trusted with divine!
Let them know how to "ask" for salvation, that you may seem (at least) to have given "to him that asketh." For no less cause must the unwedded also be deferred--in whom the ground of temptation is prepared, alike in such as never were wedded by means of their maturity, and in the widowed by means of their freedom--until they either marry, or else be more fully strengthened for continence. If any understand the weighty import of baptism, they will fear its reception more than its delay: sound faith is secure of salvation.
"

In the treatise itself, Tertullian himself doesn't see infant baptism as profitable. He seems to indicate that it is not a wise thing to do and I think Tertullian is correct on his stance here, considering there isn't an indication in scripture of infants being baptised. Though some will point to the jailer being baptised, but I don't think you can make a strong case from the scripture overall regarding this issue. At least I don't think so.

Now I have undertaken the task of listening to a set of old programmes hosted by Yanni Simonides to give me a basic understanding of what Eastern Orthodoxy actually teaches. Although I would encourage others to check out what I am saying regarding these issues.

Prayer and FastingThis next issue is not against prayer and fasting. We are commanded to pray without ceasing in scripture as well. Not to mention in certain cases fasting was necessary as well as prayer in order to drive out demons.

Prayer and Fasting are not the issues. It's the type of prayer and the type of fasting itself. Prayer is communication with God. Man himself has a desire to pray which animals do not even possess. We can speak with God and interact with him as well as him speaking and interacting with us. Man opens himself to God when he prays to him. Prayer also needs to be reverent and God is not the big Santa Claus living in the sky. These points I don't think many will dispute within religious circle. The question is, are there prayers in the Eastern Orthodox church that are biblical? Let's take a look.

Firstly, It is right an good that communal prayer and private prayer is encouraged, that is something to be commended and there is nothing wrong with the subject of setting time for prayer to God, so far these are not problematic. Certainly after prayer there should be a change as well and the sit

Though prayer with the mind is found in scripture, we aren't told to empty our minds when praying to God. I don't see any biblical mandate for this. In fact prayer and singing can be done with the mind if one so chooses to. The only "emptying" that would be in scripture is concentrating on God himself in the prayer and pushing other things to the wayside, except for those things which you need to pray to God about, regarding sin confession, repentance, giving thanks, praying for his will to be done and other issues that are placed on your heart.

Nevertheless, communal prayer with believers and private prayer is indeed something that the apostles encouraged, Even Paul and Barnabas did the same while in prison and they even sang to the Lord in prison.

Now next is fasting. I don't condemn fasting in and of itself. The TANAKH or The Old Testament contains several points about fasting within it's confines. It would include different reasons of fasting, including at times of repentance like putting on sackcloth or fasting before offering up a sacrifice.

Under the New Covenant, you are free to fast or to feast. However, I am not adverse to someone fasting before they are baptised into the faith, even the Didache encourages it in it's chapter on baptism which I quoted earlier. You are entirely free in the matter of fasting. It is also noble to fast from a particular delicacy you like to show self control as well

One thing I will say about the Lenten fast is that there is no mandate in scripture that needs to be carried out regarding this and I see no reason to carry out, as well as having particular set days of fasting. When you fast is a matter of conscience. The only obligatory fasting I can think of in the NT is praying and fasting with respect to free demoniacs from their demon possession.

To me, fasting is not an obligatory thing unless it's to do with the point I just made a few seconds ago but one shouldn't impose Lent on another. Now whether Lent is pagan or not is another dispute altogether.

Another problem is speaking of fasting from sin, which one Eastern Orthodox metropolitan described it as on Holy Cross Live. Repentance from sin I think is a better term, because repentance doesn't give you the option of returning to the wickedness you once treasure. I think it is innapropriate to describe abstaining from sin in this way.

One is free to fast or feast, according to his own conscience.

Dialogue and EcumenismThis next issue I will tackle is the subject of Dialogue and Ecumenism. One question that shall arise is the subject of What Unity was Jesus praying for in his priestly prayer? The answer is simple, he was praying for the disciples to be one and for the world to be one, but that oneness was common doctrine and spiritual unity, not ecumenical.

It is one thing to have a dialogue with one another, which happens quite frequently on Paltalk itself, but that is not the same as having an ecumenical gathering, which is condemned. Considering the fact that false brethen are not to be welcomed in the home.

In High Cross Live, the Eastern Orthodox gentleman speak of the splits that came with their repeated assumption that the Eastern Orthodox church goes back to the apostles, which Frank Shaeffer assumes as well and I ask this question in a response I did to Shaeffer on this issue, Does Eastern Orthodoxy go back to the apostles. I am convinced the answer is NO.

The first split according to the men in High Cross Live was between the Orthodox and the Oriental Orthodox at the Chalcedonian Council, the second being the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox split in 1054 (The men don't give an exact date) and of course the Protestant Reformation in which many leaders challenged the teachings of Roman Catholicism and rejected many doctrines that the church had accumilated over time.

In the tape, Simonides and the two priests discuss trying to discuss past differences and trying to supposedly overcome them. However, I cannot see how bridging the gap between the Oriental Orthodox, Roman Catholics, Protestants and Eastern Orthodox is going to give us unity, it is not true unity in the Spirit, it is false. There are people with all these groups that reject the idea of the Ecumenical movement and the World Council of Churches.

I don't agree that there can be ANY reconciliation between the four groups, it is simply not possible. Making a peace treaty with Rome and Constantinople is not the way to unity whatsoever.
Divisions are a necessary evil. Certain issues like what hobbies Christians can have or the issue of cessationism or the time of the Milleniual Reign of Christ are not divisive issues. However, I am not willing to get into bed with the Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox and I am sure there are others who agree with me on this.

A dialogue I am happy to engage in, that I am not against, If there is no such thing is dialogue, we cannot debate the issues and put them on the table. But I have no interest in the Ecumenical movement or the World Council of Churches and there are those who are Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox who will agree with me that Ecumenism is certainly out of the question.

The Bible and the Orthodox churchThe next topic I am going to cover is the subject of the Bible and the attitude to the Eastern Orthodox church itself. The first thing to note is that the Eastern Orthodox churches don't read the Bible as individuals but read it as members of the church in communion with the members and the final interpretation comes from the church itself.

One thing to say is that if this is the case that you cannot personally study the scriptures alone, how then are we to discern truth and error? I know that you can try to keep a consistent interpretation of the scriptures themselves among a body, but what if error creeps in and the church adopts the error as it's own, this is a grevious concern I have to say in all fairness and honesty itself. We had this problem also in the Old Testament in which the Old Testament Prophets spoke out against the people's immorality and idolatry but where ignored simply due to the false prophets that arose. In fact at one stage the scribes in the book of Jeremiah were actually guilty of misinterpreting the text of the Law in Jeremiah 8:8, a passage sadly abused out of context by Muslims to suggest Bible corruption, but that is another topic neither here nor there.

Not to mention, we need to check if the church fathers interpretation of scripture is in accordance with the scripture itself. I am fully aware that the context of Acts 17 where the Bereans are mentioned refers to them checking if Paul's words were true about Jesus' Messiahship in scripture but the same principles apply to any doctrine.

One point that is often made by Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox alike is "The apostles didn't have the New Testament", as if that is somehow a big shock to those who have studied canon issues either in brief or in depth from reliable sources. The apostles did oral tradition and Paul mentions having the Gospel conveyed to him orally. In the program, Theodore Stylianopoulos was told when he was studiying scripture as a boy by his professor that you say Bible instead of Church. But considering the fact we have a collection of the New Testament books and when the canon was completed, we can now sift false teaching from the true teaching of the scriptures, much the same with the Old Testament.

I will address some texts that Theodore Stylianopoulos, one of the guests on Holy Cross Live, did not bring up when he was asked to speak about the Bible in the Orthodox Church but is frequently brought to the table by a Romanist by the name of Savioursheart. Savioursheart has often claimed that Sola Scriptura is refuted by 2 Thessalonians 2:15 which speaks of holding fast to the traditions. However, the verse is speaking of the apostolic teaching, it is not speaking of all traditions. Another Roman Catholic is AsyrianPrince9, who has spoken out against private interpretation by his abuse of 2 Peter 1:20 . However, the context is speaking about the prophet's interpretation coming from God, not his own mind, it is not condemning private study of the scripture. Not to mention both of them show abysmall ignorance on what Sola Scriptura actually is.

See my articles below:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/correcting-misconceptions-of.html
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/biblical-and-manmade-tradition.html

This isn't to condemn tradition period, but only to repudiate tradition that violates the scriptures themselves. There isn't anything wrong with corporate and personal Bible studying in and of itself either. However we need to carefully check out what a person says with scripture and also listen to biblically solid teachers, lest we be "tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming." As Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:14.

The church fathers, though very interesting read, also need to examined in light of the scripture just as we examine modern writers. There isn't a dispute about the Trinity here, it's an early belief in the church and is certainly a belief which can be found moreso in John, Acts, Philippians, Hebrews and Revelation quite explicitly and also in other letters implictly and explictly, the latter pertaining to Jesus' relationship to the Father and his incarnation as well as the identification as YHWH by the New Testament authors. There is no question about the Trinity in the scriptures, not to mention there is even more an explicit witness of Trinitarian thought in Pre Nicean Church writings. I have many videos and articles that speak on the subject of the Trinity itself which may be invaluable to the Body of Christ. I will not be commenting on the Alexandrian and Antiochian interpretation in this refutation.

There are other details I could go into about the false doctrines hyperdulia, transubstansiation, prayers for the dead and necromancy but that's it for now in this section. 

SaintsNext we are coming to the issue of the subject of Saints in the Eastern Orthodox. The problem isn't the sanctification by the Spirit helping us to be holy. One thing I will say it is not by our efforts that we become holy considering our works are like dung and rags and cannot save us from our sins but by allowing the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and allowing ourselves to submit to Christ through repentance and faith. A grace that can neither be brought, nor earned. By his grace we can become a saint and the office of sainthood is open to all and all have the potential to be one, as George Bebis  mentioned when he was interviewed by Yanni Simonides in Holy Cross Live.

Obviously this can only happen when man is convicted by the Spirit and drawn by the Father and we cannot turn to Christ on our own, unlike what Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians claim. Eastern Orthodoxy I think rejects these two heresies but that is not my focus.

George Bebis speaks of distinctions in sainthood, such as prophets, apostles and the church fathers and gives a few examples, Such as Abraham in the TANAKH or Old Testament and the church father Basil the Great.

There is a recognition of saints within the confines of holy scripture, although the canonisation of dead saints can only be done with those which we can be certain who are in heaven, such as the prophets themselves and of course the apostles.

There really isn't much to say in this section here regarding the issue of praying to the saints.
However, Dr Bebis explains that there is praying to the saints to Simonides in the program itself and seeing them as brothers and sisters. He explains that the saints taste the glory of God and enjoy the taste of paradise, thus they can feel us and have been through trials, thus they can pray for us. The jist of what he is saying is that we can ask for the saints intercession, that's what I percieve Dr Bebis to be saying. and those listening to my video can go back and listen to the program to hear what he is saying then correct me in comments if I have misrpresented his position.

Bebis claims that there is New Testament evidence of this, but he doesn't provide a verse either implicitly or explicitly regarding this issue. There isn't any context from the scripture that springs to mind where we can seek the intercession of the saints. They are alive in Christ, but they cannot communicate with us. Bodily they are dead but are alive and present with the Lord if they died in faith, but that doesn't logically mean that we can seek their intercession.

We are not to consult the dead on behalf of the living, which is condemned in Isaiah by YHWH, it is necromancy. Now a Roman Catholic on paltalk tried to create a false dilemma to try and say if my memory serves me correctly that we cannot condemn prayers to the saints otherwise this means Jesus is guilty of necromancy because Elijah and Moses were spoken to and they were dead, that was one argument presented and also he claimed that Necromancy was not what prayers to the saints were, I forget the nature of his question.

Jesus is not guilty of necromancy because the Father had allowed Moses and Elijah to speak with Jesus, no violation of the prohibition of consulting the dead on behalf of the living at all, The prayers to the saints are not something for Christians to engage in.







See may article on Mary:
http://answering-judaism.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/mary-greatest-woman-who-ever-lived.html

Monastic life
Both Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox contain monks within their ranks. The problem with the subject of monks is that they are not mandated by the scriptures themselves. Others have gone into the various problems with the monastic life but one point I will speak on is with regards to whether the scriptures tell us to be monks.

Well, the first problem to arise is that the Great Commonision can HARDLY, if not CANNOT be carried out if you hide yourself away from the rest of the world. We are not in the world to trust or love it, we are sent into the world for a purpose, to bring those out of enslavement to the world into slavery to God, the latter being a good kind of slavery. Even John Macarthur has commented on the word doulos in the NT showing what our relationship to Christ is, but this is another topic.

You are a minister of the Gospel where ever you go, whether you are working in a job or out in the Caribbean on holiday. We are IN THE WORLD, but we are not of the world. It is our duty to spread the Gospel of Christ across the globe, which is impossible to do when you have shut yourself off from the outside word in a convent or something like that.

Youtube is a good medium to spread the gospel but that's another issue. Even a blog like this can also be used as a tool to utilise by the grace of God.

The point is, we are to be IN the world but untainted. We are surrounded by unbelievers all the time but we don't have to conform to their ways or compromise. We need to be the salt of the earth. If we are in a convent hiding from the world, We are certainly hiding our lamp in a cupboard and are not allowing it to be seen by all who are in the world, which would be utter disobedience to Christ's commands.

This is certainly one contention that I have with monasticism itself. In fact Martin Luther's time in the monastic life certainly didn't bring him to closer communion with God. I would advise a person to avoid considering the monastic lifestyle as a feasible option for them.

Be a soldier for Christ on the battlefield of the world, Running away will do you no good.

In ConclusionIn conclusion, I feel that the Eastern Orthodox church is not the church that was the first church established by Christ and humbly plead and ask that the Eastern Orthodoxy cease relying on their works, leave their false system and trust in Jesus as their Messiah and God. He is risen, he is Lord.

Shalom.

Answering Judaism.

PS.The programs of Holy Cross Live can be found on YouTube. I would recommend looking at them if you need more information on the Eastern Orthodox church from Eastern Orthodox theologians themselves. It will be of great benefit of those who are seeking to evangelise Eastern Orthodox.

Holy Cross Live! - The Bible in the Orthodox Church: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGfTWr39yKw
Holy Cross Live! - Prayer and Fasting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MWXGhEBK-8
Holy Cross Live! - The Orthodox Church in Dialogue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6kwfNbvVh0
Holy Cross Live! - Ecclesia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6PRwzhGGFk
Holy Cross Live! - Saints: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GHE_uUtdzvI

If the Lord Wills, more information may be added.

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