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Orthodoxy and Protestantism

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Fr. Paul gives the Orthodox response to the "Five Solas" of Protestant theology.

Orthodoxy and Protestantism Transcription

 In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God, Amen.

 

Before we start anything today, it is important to know the Orthodox view on everything that we are going to share today. It is one of the fundamental characteristics of the Orthodox church, to have a very detailed explanation of our theology. And what it means to the Orthodox.

I don't care what you hear outside, and what you hear from within, I am going to explain the Orthodox view, and that we have absolutely no theology about what it means to not be an Orthodox. I will explain what that means.

 

Often you hear people say, what is going to happen to people who are not Orthodox: we have no Theology, in the church, from the teachings of the fathers, in the scriptures, about what happens to the people who are not... When I say Orthodox, I don't mean a denomination. I don't mean, like we are Orthodox against people who are Baptists, and Presbyterians: we are Pre-Denominational. We don't have any denomination. We are the church of the book of Acts. We are the church capital sea. So, when I say the Orthodox, I am not speaking as a denomination, I am speaking about the church that Jesus Christ established on earth, and the view of the teachings of the Apostles.

 

We have to know that all we have been given is the way (repeat). And the way, meaning, Christ, and the way to Salvation which is, the path to Salvation through the teachings of the church and the Scriptures.

And we can conclude what is not the way, we can come to conclusion and say... we can identify things and say, this is not what is spoken in the scriptures, or according to the teachings of the church, but it is important that He has never told us the spiritual status of the non-orthodox. So we can't say that all who have embraced any heresy, it is not in our place to say that they forever doomed to Hell, and they can never enter in the Kingdom of God.

 

I always use the example of a key, and I always say, this special electronic key is the only key that can get into the doors of our church. Right? We have special locks and these special keys to open them. If you want to break the window, you want to come through the roof, you want to knock down the door, you can do that! But, we know that this is the key that works. So, for me to say that anyone who doesn't use this key will never get into the room, I can't say that, but what I can say is, this is the guaranteed way to get into the room, and that is the way that we have learned through the scriptures, and through the traditions of the church, and I will get into that.

You can't find anywhere in the fathers', and the scriptures what is going to happen to the people who are not Orthodox. Anyone that says anything otherwise, you can disregard that. Sometimes we have (...) leaders to say that. It is not correct, it is not our place to say how God is going to judge. But we do know what He is going to hold us accountable to. You want to try some other way, try some other way, but we know what we are going to be held accountable to, according to the sacramental life and the teachings of the church. 

 

This is one of my favorite (repeat three times) topics to speak about, because when people learn how to speak to Protestants about the truth or about Orthodoxy, you are given the key to lead people, to give people access, thousands and thousands and millions of people, access to the full revelation of the Christ, that was given in his church; the correct revelation of Christ.

So, when you learn how to respond or how to understand the beliefs of the Protestants, it is not to judge, but it is to serve. It is to enlighten others, and to bring the truth to others, okay? That is its purpose.

 

The beginning of the revelation, I believe George spoke to you last week about the Catholic church, and I always describe the early church on my hand, and I say, they were five cities that had Bishops at the seat of the five cities, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch, Rome, why do I use the thumb as Rome, because they broke off, from the Orthodox way.

 

What I am going to talk about to you right now, is the reformation that took place, and that's something most Protestants don't know and most Orthodox people don't know, that the original attempt by Martin Luther in 1517 to reform the church, was going back to the Orthodox way, believe it or not. The original attempt that Martin Luther had, to protest against the church was to go back to the Orthodox way, because the Catholic church had started to lose some of its directions. Martin Luther is the revolutionist who started... who started the reformation by nailing the ninety-five thesis. Have you guys heart about the ninety-five thesis? It is basically a "list of ninety-five things that I don't like about the church, and these things have to be changed".  And many of those things were true. Many of those things had to be changed within the Catholic church or the Roman church, because of... some of those things... I am going to talk about what took place.   

It was started in 1517, he posted on the door of the ... (6:28) church in Germany, his ninety-five thesis, supported by the magistrates, or like the government. The German government was backing Martin Luther, to say, "We are behind you in this, go and protest against the Roman church", and that's why it is called the Ma(...) reformation.

What was the main argument? He was protesting against the selling of indulgencies. Who knows what indulgencies were? They were like, paying for confessions, in a sense... Very good, but even more detailed than that, indulgences were given,... If you paid for an indulgences, you would get so many thousands of years out of the Purgatory! So, they believed, the Catholic church believes that you can get up to tens of thousands of years after you die, in purgatory for your purification, but by buying these indulgencies from the leadership of the church, you could essentially get rid of  thousands of years of spending in the purgatory. Martin Luther said, this is craziness, I want have nothing to do with this, and that's why he started this Reformation.

Also, because of the corruption that was taking place in the Catholic church, again with the leadership, and the selling of indulgences, and all the stuff, he said, no more Higher church hierarchy, or authority if the church, he wanted to affirm the supremacy of The Bible over church hierarchy, and that was the (...) of the ninety-five theses. 

 

I am going to summarize the Protestant's theology, or the Reformation theology in five solaces. These are the five pillars of the Protestant Reformation Theology, and if you look at your handouts, it says, Sola is (...) for Alone.

 

First one is Sola Scriptura, which means scripture alone, Sola Fide, which is Faith alone, Sola Gracia which is Grace alone, Sola Christos, which is Christ alone, and Seo Deo Gloria, which is Glory to God alone, and you might be thinking, what is wrong with those... we are going to get into, what that means, and what they were saying, when they said, "Christ alone, Glory to God alone".

 

SOLA SCRIPTURA

 

Martin Luther said: "I have the right to believe freely, to be slave to no man's authority, to confess what appears to be true, whether it is proved, or disproved". I want you guys to look at the verbiage: This is a direct quote of Martin Luther, and if anybody in the Lutheran or the Protestant Reformation who reads these words, they would say, "How can we be following this person?"

"I have the right to believe freely, to be slave to no man's authority, to confess what appears to be true". What appears to be true means... "What appears to be true but may not be true, whether it is proved or disproved, (whether it is spoken by Catholic or Heretic) in matters of faith, I think neither Council (so he basically negated the Councils) , nor Pope, nor any man has any power over my conscience. And where they disagree with Scripture, I deny Pope and Council, and all. A simple (...) armed with the Scripture is mightier than any Pope without it".

Of course, all of these protests are in protest against the Catholic church, so when you read these things that talks about Pope and Church, he is referring to the Roman church.

 

What is wrong with that? What wrong with what he is saying?

I am going to tell you what line I am referring to. "And where they disagree with Scriptures, I deny Pope and Council and All". What is wrong with that saying? Not everything is in scriptures, and who is to say what the meaning of the Scripture is? (...)

"And when they disagree with Scriptures", disagree with scripture based on what? Like, who is to say that what is being said is in disagreement with Scriptures? I just want you to remember that.

 

A Swiss reformer named Zwingli, I am going to get into the details, he said "The Bible is the single exclusive source of all Christian doctrine and practice". I am going to go into details, and speak freely, but I want you guys to see what the status if for the reformers, and the leaders of this revolutionary movement.

 

The Orthodox disagreement of what is being said, "it holds the Scriptures in extremely high regard, but it holds to be". I am going to explain what this means:

The Bible is a book written by who? The Church. Written for the church, and within the church, and these are key words. Who wrote the Bible? So, in order to read the Bible correctly, in our Orthodox view, you have to read it in the light of the Holy Tradition, which is basically, the teachings of the church fathers. You guys remember when we talked about the authenticity of The Bible. The church fathers, before The Bible came about, the church father's teachings had all but eleven verses, in their teachings of the New Testaments, and just by reading the church father's, you can find scriptures.

So, what we do is, when we read the Scriptures, we read it in the light of what was given to us by the tradition of the early church, and the liturgical text, that what Holy tradition means.

They used to pray liturgies, way before they had The Bible. What we read in the Liturgy and the theology that we see in the liturgy is what was used to choose the books of the Bible. Do you remember discussing this before? I will get into it in further details a little bit later. I am trying to give you guys the highlights.

 

So, without this doctrine of Solo Scriptura, the question of Authority comes in to play, and the believer finds he has to be obedient to someone's interpretation of Scripture. So, without Solo Scriptura, if you have no Solo Scriptura, that means I have to answer to somebody, and that's where the issue was, because the Catholic church started to distort the teachings and kind of taking advantage of their priestly authority, now people are saying, no, we don't want the Catholic interpretation, because they just say what they want, and that is dangerous.

 

So, they believed the Christian doctrine may be derived from the use of three things: Reason, history, and textual study.

This is just an introduction, and I am going to get into it. I just want you guys to go through these things.

 

So, how does the Orthodox church disagree? There are three things that responds to this. First of all, Solo Scriptura fails to its own test. Basically they are saying, The Bible is the ultimate authority in teaching us Christian practice in life. Where in The Bible does it say Scripture alone? Where in The Bible does it say that The Bible is the sole and only authority in teaching? Nowhere in The Bible!

So, the doctrine of Solo Scriptura, because it is not found in The Bible, it fails its own test of Only in The Bible. That is the first thing that we disagree on.

 

If you read II Timothy 3:16..., we do hold the Scriptures in high regard of course, and The Bible says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in all righteousness", but it doesn't say "The Only".

On the other hand, I Timothy 3:15 says what: "But if I am delayed (St. Paul writes to Timothy, and says), I write so you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and the ground of truth".

So who is the pillar and the ground of the truth? is it The Bible? No, The church! 

The Bible says, the Scriptura says that the church of the living God is the pillar and the ground of the truth. So, whom do we go to find the truth from and the teaching of the doctrine from? We go to the church!

And so, when the Protestant Theology negated tradition, it negated the ground of truth. What I mean by tradition is, the early teachings of the Apostles. Again, The Bible, nowhere says that it only is the sole authority in (matters of) Theology.

 

I want you guys to look at this verse, can you guys see these two (...) words: Tradition in Greek is "Paradosis". When you read the new testament in Greek, you see the word Paradosis used wherever the word tradition is used, but in the (...) translation, do you want to know what they did? Wherever Christ talked like in negative way (about) the traditions of man, they used the word Traditions, but whenever they say Paradosis in a place where it was talked about in a positive way, do you know what they used? "Teaching". So they distorted the Translation of The Bible in order to prove their own interpretation. So, the word Paradosis, if you read the text, the New Testament in Greek, you will see Paradosis used for the traditions of men, we're talking about the Mosaic law, and  it is talking about the traditions of the Church, which we hear about St. Paul: he says :"Therefore brothers, stand fast and hold to the traditions which you were taught whether by word, or by our epistles". What comes first? "Word".

If you ask an early church believer, someone say in the year 60 A.D, and you ask him, "What does it say in the Bible?", he would say, "What Bible?", there was no Bible! The Gospel of John was written in 85A.D, so this whole concept of "Scripture alone", if you ask someone in the first Century, where that is in The Bible, they will say, "There is no Bible! We  have two things: we have the teachings of the Apostles and their disciples, and we have the Liturgical text, the liturgies that we pray have the Theology, and that's how we practice".

So, every time, whenever you hear people calling "Back in the Early Church", well, back in the early church, they didn't have The Bible! Do you guys know what year the Bible came... the first canon came?

Good for you it is in our papers (the handouts), 360-370 A.D, and who is the first person that wrote the first canon of the New Testament? A(...), St. A(...)  19:51. What pride you should have in being Coptics: the Coptic Pope is the first authority to say, "All the books we have in the New Testament these, are the authentic writings of (...) the Apostles". So, who wrote that? St. A(...).

 

I always ask people, you know, these people that say "Where does it say that in The Bible?", I say, "who put your Bible together? Which council did they start assembling The Bible? Which Council did they start assembling The Bible?" Who knows? The Nicaea Council, which was in 325A.D ... (That is the year that), is known, when the Council of Nicaea (took place), so what happened?

 

They put all these books on the table, they had what is called the Gospel of Thomas, The Gospel of Judas, the Acts of Peter, and all these books, the Gospel of Mathew, the Gospel of John, the Gospel of Marc and Luke, and they began to read them, and they said, "The Gospel of Thomas, this doesn't match what we've been practicing for three hundred years, this goes out. It doesn't match what we've heard orally through our old tradition, and through the practice in the Liturgical text".

So, who was it that chose The Gospel of Thomas to go out (in 318 A.D), was it Pastors? No, Orthodox bishops! Orthodox Bishops are the ones that put our Bible together. And the same standards that they held the New Testament to when they were reading, when they read the Gospel of John, they had standards that they were practicing, and said, "okay, this matches, this can go in". It was the standard of the practice of the church, okay?

 

Question from the Audience: Just a side question: so where did they get all these random books that are in The Gospel?

Answer: What happened is, back then they had no publishers, no copyright, and stuff like that. If I want to get into the heart of George Bishar, I would write him a letter, and say, this is a love letter from Muammar Bishar, and there is no way to say that this is an authentic letter from Muammar Bishar, so, what happened was, people... (small incident)... what happened is people would write letters to the Christians trying to influence their beliefs, by saying, Gospel of Thomas, but Thomas didn't write it. It wasn't Authentic. Later on these things started to creep in, and they would say these are texts, but they were agnostics.

 

So, whenever you ask somebody, whenever you are in a discussion about the Orthodox belief versus Non-Orthodox belief,  you say "Where did you get that interpretation?", he says "It is in The Bible",  then say, "Who put your Bible together?" Ask them, who assembled your Bible? Who made sure that the Bible that you are reading is authentic? And this is the real Bible, the word of God.

 

Question from the Audience: We are also responsible for the beauty of the Canonical books...

Answer: Yes, and we don't call them the D(...) Canonical books 23:06, actually, we just call them The Bible. Actually they call them, the Protestants call them "Apocrypha" , and what did they use? Why did (Martin Luther) remove the Canon of these D(...) Canonical books from The Bible?

He says, The old Testament Books, he said "I am going to use the translation that is Hebrew". And the Jews in their later translation, and this is like, I want to say the eighth century, is when they made a translation without the Apocrypha, or the D canonical books. However, what he didn't realize is that the original, the Greek translation or the Septuagint which we read in the Orthodox church,  it was predated than that Hebrew text by like 600 years, by half a millennium, the Greek Septuagint was out with the D canonical books, and when you see Apostles and them quoting the Old Testament, they are quoting it from the Greek, from the Septuagint. So the most authentic canon was the Greek Septuagint. Actually, the Jewish text used, the translation of The Old Testament, and they wrote it in Hebrew, do you want to know why they omitted the Apocrypha? Because it was something that the Christians were using, and were referring to quite often, so Martin Luther didn't realize that he was using a translation that was anti-Christian! So, the Apocrypha essentially has nothing that the Protestants would disagree with, except one thing, which is the intercession of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was praying for the people, and he was supposedly dead. That's probably the only thing in all of the D... books or canon that the Protestants would disagree with. Everything else they will generally agree with, it is not against their mainstream belief of Christianity.

 

The second Orthodox response to Sole Scriptura is "There is no systematic Theology or catechism in The Bible".

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, turn to the page (this and that) of the  local church hymnal and this is how you practice worship, Okay? The Bible does not have any systematic Theology, and so you cannot use it ultimately as a systematic theology, that's number one.

Number two, they say that the Holy spirit should teach me how to interpret The Bible. That is basically saying, in their animosity towards the people in (...) 26:37 of the Catholic Church, and how they believe in... The people in (...) anytime he talks about any doctrine, anything that matters to the faith: "The Pope can never be wrong", basically. The pope will never be mistaken. But here, you have the Protestants think, "We have our own personal infallibility. That the Holy Spirit, whatever He tells my conscience, like what Martin Luther said, even if I am proved, or disproved, I want to accept it". So, basically he thinks, he is infallible.

Ultimately, out of their animosity towards the Catholic church, they implemented their own personal infallibility, they held their own understanding of the Scriptures, based on their own personal interpretation, saying "The Holy Spirit has taught me", meaning "You can't change my way of thinking", which means, "I am infallible", right? Isn't that what it ultimately means?

So, they are basically teaching their own personal infallibility, and they violate their own principle every time The Bible is taught.

Every time The Bible is taught, what is happening is they are using a tradition. They are using a tradition, whether Martin Luther's, Calvin's or Zwingli's tradition. They are using a tradition, it is just not a (27:40) tradition, they are not using a holly tradition.

So, they are actually violating their own principle of "No tradition", every time they have a Bible class, because they are using someone's tradition. The whole concept of "Sole scriptura" is a tradition of Martin Luther. This is an important one, that is why I am stressing "Sole Scriptura", not because we are against The Bible, but we are against using The Bible as the Sole Authority, because you can't understand The Bible correctly without "Tradition", without knowing what Christ taught the Apostles, and what the Apostles passed down through the church till today.

 

So, when I stand up here and teach from The Bible, I can't give you what I think. Who doesn't care what Abuna Paul thinks, right? It is nice that you think that, but I want to know what Jesus really mean.

Have you played the telephone game when you were little? I whisper a long story into George's ear, and it goes all the way down through, finally, somehow somebody ends up (getting it wrong) because the story gets distorted halfway through, you say "OK, what is the real story?" You have to go back to the early source.

So, whenever you get in a discussion and say, that's your opinion, that's my opinion, no, that's not my opinion! Let's go back as early as we can, back to the early church, and let's see what the Fathers of the Church taught!

 

Say, we have the writings from Ignatius of Antioch who's a direct disciple of who? St. John The Beloved! He talks about "Where the Bishop is, there is the church!" He talks about the Eucharist! So, in the earliest writings of the early church fathers, you have talking of the Eucharist as the actual Body and Blood!      

Even, people who say, the Eucharist is a symbol. Forget about doing any research: Look at all the churches that date back to the first century. Even the Catholic church! Even though we are not in communion with the Catholic church, still we can see that all the churches that go way back to the first century agree that there is no doubt, that there was a teaching of Body and Blood, even though we are not in communion with the Catholics, their roots go back to the early Church, so we have to be able to say that... basically, if you play the telephone game, everybody who dates back to the early church is in unison in their understanding that the Eucharist is the actual Body and Blood, and not symbolic! That in itself is a tradition!

 

Also, it says that "The Holy Spirit guides the individual reader...", which I was telling you, which is why there is so much conflicts among Protestantism. When you turn channel TV...  and the Pastor is saying, "The Holy Spirit told me today so and so", and you flip one more channel, the Holy Spirit told some other guy something completely different, opposite of what this guy said. How do you know who is right? Why is it that there are like (...) thousands Christian Denominations the church? It is because everybody says the Holy Spirit told them something! And if I don't like the ... I start my own church, and I am the Bishop, and what I teach is correct, based on no other tradition than "The Holy Spirit told me, because I am personally Infallible". That is the mentality that is being taught in (Protestantism).

 

Now, I want to ask you guys something: I was speaking to a young lady who is about to convert and she is going to be baptized in the church. She said, "Tell me father Paul, what do you think about Orthodox youth going to these Protestant churches to attend to their meetings, what do you think about that?" And I wanted to say... first I wanted to crawl under the table and die, because it is a shame, saying, "You guys claim to have the truth, then why are you going to the people that you claim to have the half truth, or a false teaching?" And our youth are going to say, "But it is so nice!" Be careful! You might be getting a poison, because it is held to no tradition, and it is held to no standard, because it is what "Bible Bob" says the Holy Spirit told him, based on Nothing, other than "This is what I think the Holy Spirit told me"! So, we have to be careful!

There are other religions that say "God told me! It is a revelation!". Islam says it is a revelation. Okay, you say Revelation, well, it is a revelation! To what standards? What standards are there?

So, we have to make sure that we go back to true tradition! It is dangerous, if you go, and you may hear something that is not true, but a half truth.

 

Intervention from the Audience:

I just want to (add) to that girl's point, I've been to... almost confront my own faith, because it is nice to go out and see... baptizing people by pouring water... It strengthened my own faith...

 

I agree, if you are going to watch a show, and say, "Hey, that is what they believe". But if you are going to learn, you have to understand that what you are learning my not have any foundation to it. Your learning is based on "Bible Bob" from God knows where and whatever revelation that he... has a book prepared for that day. So we have to be careful.

I am not saying don't go and see, but I am saying, know, very keenly, and those you are going to serve one day. That when you are teaching your kids, or the people that you are entrusted, you are entrusted with the truth.

 

Is the half truth a truth? What do you guys think? No, but why not?

AUDIENCE: No

Why not?

AUDIENCE: Because any distortion of the truth makes a ...with the truth, so if you are only uttering half of it, you are not telling the whole truth.

 

Very good!

What if I went and said, "God loves everybody". That is the truth! But if I never said that there is a judgment, and He loves everybody, and He forgives every sin, and that is all I say, that is the half truth, because I am basing my whole foundation of my belief system on this truth, regardless of whether there is repentance, regardless of whether there is the Sacramental life, regardless of whether there is faith... I am giving you a part of the truth, but if I didn't give you the whole truth, you could just be misled. Do you understand that?

You have to go back to the tradition of the Church.

 

AUDIENCE:

Does it mean you can't get a personal message from the Holy Spirit?

 

You can a personal message, meaning the Holy Spirit can speak to you, but it does not mean that the Holy Spirit can give you a new doctrine!

So, if you are reading your Bible, and the Holy Spirit tells you go and forgive that boy or girl that you got in a fight with today, and you are so mad at them, and the Holy Spirit is convincing you... Yes you can get a personal message.

But if the Holy Spirit says to you, "You can be saved without forgiveness, without forgiving the other", then I will say, that is False, because we have the parable of the person that didn't forgive, and He said, "He who does not forgive ... my Father in the Heavens will not forgive". Something as simple as forgiveness, between two people, you can lose your salvation.

That is a strong statement, right? That is a scary statement. We have to be very clear!

 

Historically, the doctrine of "Sole Scriptura" is nowhere to be found, by reason, and history and textual study. The History of the church, is nowhere to be found, and the writings of the early church fathers, Sole Scriptura. There goes their historical way of developing doctrine.

And like I said, 360-780 (...) instructed the Churches which books were to be considered canonical.  

 

Sorry, I spent much time on Sole Scriptura, because the whole foundation of Protestantism is all about "Where is it in the Bible?" It doesn't have to be in the Bible! Why do the Catholics do the sign of the Cross, and so do the Orthodox? Because it is Tradition.

There are things that we have received that are not necessarily written in The Bible.

 

SOLA FIDE

 

Faith Alone.

This teaches (that) "Justification comes by faith alone". Justification means being declared righteous or imputed righteous, regardless of whether I have any righteousness of my own.

So, once I have faith in Christ, I believe in God, and accept Him as my personal Lord and Savior, I am justified, I am declared righteous by God, meaning, God says "You are righteous! Did you do anything wrong, did you do anything right? No, but because of Christ's blood and His cleansing, you are declared righteous", which is somewhat true, but we also believe that, first of all, this justification takes place in the sacrament of baptism, tied with sanctification. So, more than anything, the church does not talk about justification by itself, but it ties justification with sanctification, meaning one's personal holiness.

 

So what they are saying is, "When you accept by your faith, it is a change in legal status, like I am legally righteous, but not in personal holiness". We believe that when we receive the Holy Spirit, it can make us righteous.

The Protestants think, "... You are declared righteous, that's it". Somebody even say, I cannot lose my salvation, no matter what.

Everything I am saying, is not every protestants, because not every church... because every church says something different, because they have no tradition, so you may have protestants that say, I don't believe that, and that is true.

 

First of all, the only time you see the word "Faith alone" in the Scriptures, is in this verse:

"You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only."

The only time the "Faith alone" is written in the scriptures is this verse right here. That is the number one response.

 

Number two, in Romans 3:38, Martin Luther, when he translated the first translation, if you turn to your Bible, Romans 3:38... it is not going to say in New King James, but in the early translations, Martin Luther added the word "alone" right after faith. Do you have it? Can you read it? Please go ahead:

 

AUDIENCE:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds (...)".   

 

Can you read it with "alone" right after "faith alone"?

 

AUDIENCE:

"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone, apart from the deeds alone".  

 

The word "alone" was not in the Greek, but Martin Luther added in the Translation to..., and he drove home his point, but the only time you see the "faith alone", is in this verse.

"You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith alone", okay?

 

AUDIENCE:

I was wondering, how can we just say that he added this?

 

Because it was in animosity against the Catholic church, because the Catholic was a "Works, earn my way to salvation only" church. They began to teach, "by the selling of indulgences, or by doing works, you can get your way to heaven". And I will talk about what the Orthodox response to that is.

And so, out of animosity towards this "Works" theology, they said "No: Faith Alone", because they didn't want to have anything to do with this works, and the types of works as taught by the Catholic church, like the selling of indulgences and so forth.

AUDIENCE:

They also used Romans 5:1..., that's also one that they use to justify their (believes).

 

We are all justified by faith, but if you read Ephesians 2:8,9.

"For by Grace you have been saved by Faith".

Faith in the Orthodox concept of this word, is understood as: Faith expressing itself through works.

If I say that I love you, and I do nothing to show that I do love you, then ... that is cheap! Is that real love? I say I love you, and behind your back, I do nothing for you, and I will never do anything for you, and actually... I never plan on doing anything for you? That is no real love!

And so, faith is no faith, unless it is expressed by works, and no (...) what works is he talking about?

 

St. Paul, whenever he talks in a negative manner about works, he is talking about the Mosaic law. The Jewish law. But the other times when he speaks about works in a positive light, he is speaking about good works, rendered to each one according to his deeds. The Bible talks about that.

Actually, Martin Luther, believe it or not, had issues with the book of James, Jude, Hebrews and Revelation. Imagine, all these books! James he almost wanted to get rid of from The Bible! He wanted to remove the epistle of James from The Bible! This is Martin Luther himself, because it talks so much, about... just like James in 2:18, he says "Show me your Faith apart from your works, and I will show you my Faith by my Works".

So, essentially, he didn't like James very much (laughs).

 

It is like I told you guys, St. Paul preaches against the Jewish law for salvation, but not of good works themselves, and we believe that God's grace works in us, not to be declared righteous, but to really make us righteous, to make the transformation in us possible that we would become righteous.

If you look at our saints: were they righteous? St. Anthony, when you look at St. Mina and St. George and..., were they righteous?

We are justified through faith in baptism, but after that, when we receive the Holy Spirit in the "Mayroun" (45:22), we believe that the Holy Spirit will transform us. There is... We believe that I can be transformed, I can be Holly. While they believe that you're declared righteous, even to the point where, even if I do nothing, I still will be save. Some people say, "Even if I live a sinful life, without repentance, I still will be saved".

 

That builds on the next doctrine:

 

SOLA GRATIA

 

"Grace Alone". "Only by God's Grace that accomplishes salvation: no act of man contributes to salvation in any way".

 Calvin had something, a teaching called "Total Depravity". Does anybody know what Depravity means? Who knows what it means?

 

AUDIENCE:

That we completely... that we are incapable of any good.

 

That we are incapable of doing any good! So he says, "Nothing... It is only when God's Grace visits me that I can do good". But what happens if God's Grace doesn't visit you?

So, "it is by God's Grace, if He has mercy on me, and gives me his Grace, then I can do good. If he doesn't have mercy on me, if He doesn't give me His mercy, I'm going to be what? Doomed to hell".

So, works are never by your will, going to heaven wouldn't be by your will, and going to hell wouldn't be by your will, it is just God's will, that's what Calvin says in predestination. Totally depraved:" I can do nothing!" 

 

No! We believe that Grace works in cooperation, we will see this later on, Grace works in cooperation with man's will. (Rep) as one unit, okay?

One thing:  my will and God's Grace working together will get me to be saved.

Pope Shenuda has one wonderful saying: he says "You cannot get into Heaven by your works, but you cannot get to Heaven without them".  

You cannot get into Heaven by works, like you can't earn your way into salvation: only by the blood of Christ. But I cannot get into heaven without them, because it is not a real faith unless it is expressed through faith. Okay?

 

Again, the Grace of God working in cooperation with your will, equals "Synergy". This is an Orthodox term that we use, it is one word, it is Synergy: "My will: I can't do it on my own, I want to, but I can't do it, that's where I need God's Grace". Does that make sense?  "I want to serve God, I am weak, I am sinful, so my will, my effort, God will give me His Grace, and them working together in one unit", that's Synergy.

 

So, if you say "By Grace alone", then what does this verse mean: E... 2:12 "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence: work out your own salvation." It doesn't get any more clearer than that. "Work out your own salvation", with what? With fear and trembling. So, it is talking about... to work! I need to work on my own salvation, I need to have struggle, I need to have efforts.

I came across a nice verse: Romans chapter two. Read verse seven:

 

AUDIENCE

"Eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good, seek for glory, honor and immortality".

 

Does that make sense? Again, that is Romans 2:7. Highlight it, memorize it, do whatever you have to do: It says very clearly "Eternal life to those who by patient continuance (meaning not I just believe (Arabic), it is a patient continuance, of what?) in doing good, seek for glory, honor and immortality". Which means, going into the Everlasting life.

Does that make sense?

These are all good verses for people to understand.

 

Now, the one you may think is a bit confusing is:

 

SOLAS KRISTUS

 

"Christ Alone", you may thing, what is wrong with Christ alone? We are not against Christ alone, but what they mean by "Christ Alone": Salvation only comes through Christ, meaning, it has nothing to do with the Priesthood. That essentially means the sacramental life: the baptism, the Eucharist, the Chrismation, the confession... did you have Sacraments in this life? So you all guys know the Biblical foundation of these sacraments, and how they are essential to our salvation.

But they are denying the priesthood, saying, Christ is the only one who has any role in our salvation, and they emphasize the priesthood of all believers which we don't deny. Everyone is a priest of their own soul, offering spiritual sacrifices, but...

The Orthodox response is, "We agree to the priesthood of all believers, but not to the Eldership of all believers".

What does that mean? When you see the word Elder, in the book of Acts in Greek, you find one of two usages of it: Either "Episcopos". We use that in our hymnology (sings a portion of an hymn). Episcopos means Bishop.

You will also find "Presbyterus", you find that in Acts. It means, Presbyter, or priest.

Why when Judas died (committed suicide), they had to fill his position? Either "All of us are equal and all of us can do everything", so why did Judas' position need to be filled?

And then, why did St. Paul tell Timothy "Be careful who you lay your hands on. Don't lay your hands on anyone ... 52:00, because you are giving them the  gift of the priesthood".

So the priesthood is essential in administering the Sacraments, the Eucharist. John was telling us, when he witnessed the ... 52:18 baptizing in a pool of water: Who is to say that is ...52:22? If I walk by anybody and I have a ...52:23 ,and I say a prayer and I ... them, are they baptized in the Name of Christ? Or is there something sanctified, in the water of baptism that we have: we have like a whole thirty minute (session) of sanctifying the water before baptism.

So, anybody that just happens to spray some water on somebody, if I splash water in the rain, and I say a prayer, ...people on a bus stop, does that mean that they are baptized? No. It has to be sanctified water by a priest.

 

So, they are saying, "Christ is our only mediator", and we agree that Christ is our only mediator, priests are not mediators, they are intercessors, and they have a role to play in salvation, by administering the sacraments.

The next is:

 

SOLA DEO GLORIA

 

"God alone is due glory". This is a direct rejection of the veneration of the saints and other holy objects.

Essentially, what this says is "God alone is worthy of our worship", and we agree. But... this is saying that Saints cannot be magnified. They are saying, "Anything material cannot have honor to it".

What does that say about incarnation? Christ taking our flesh. Why did He take our flesh? In order to sanctify our nature.

And when the Holy spirit is working through an individual...

We believe that God alone is worthy of our worship: Veneration is given to Saints, because of God's work in them. (Therefore), in honoring saints, we are honoring God's work in the individual.

They always say that "All the churches are Saints", that is correct, but there are two understanding of Saints, all of us are Saints, and then there are Saints that lived a virtuous life as immortal for our Christianity. Even Christ Himself said, "What this woman has done, wherever the Gospel is preached, it shall be commemorated..." When she poured the oil on his head.

So, it is basically rejecting his incarnation and his work in human beings in history, to deny honor to those people. It is rejection of God's work through the material world: They are rejecting God's work through water, this is done in baptism, oil also, which you find also in the book of Mark, talking about "going and anointing the sick with oil", and all these things that you find, they are rejecting the material world.

They are saying "Glory to God alone", and we are saying: "God shares with us His glory, and works in us for those that are saints, and those who become righteous, we honor the work of Christ in them".

 

Any questions? Any arguments?

 

AUDIENCE:

What does the Coptic church say about the Catholic Saints...

 

Because they are not canonized by the Orthodox church does not mean that they are not in Heaven, but they are not canonized by our Bishops, and held to the same standards... We have different standards. They have standards (like) you have to do and x-amount of miracles, and we have different standards, but it doesn't mean that we don't honor them. (Take) Mother Theresa (for example): She is a wonderful Holly woman, but she is just not one of the canonized saints of the Orthodox church. It doesn't mean that she is not in Heaven, but it means she is not one of our Saints, because we haven't canonized her.

 

We believed that they existed. They haven't been canonized, why, because they are not in communion with us. So, they are part of a church that is anathematic, anathema means (I don't want to say cursed!) it is cast off, it is not part of the church, because they, themselves, the Catholic church started letting teaching enter in the church which are not Orthodox, and they were anathematized, which means Cast off, but it doesn't mean we don't honor them.     

 

AUDIENCE:

Isn't it very important for any person, that he or she has to have a very deep relation with God, just to have these things that the father named, like a lot of virtues, stuff like that? 

 

Definitely! No one says that the rituals are going to save you! It is the faith in Christ, which means the relationship! The faith isn't just a believing! The faith is expressed in love, or in works, expressed in our relationship to God. Does that make sense? So, no one is saying that all these things are the only things that will save you, no, it is the relationship with God. It is the covenant between man and God. But, you can't say just relationship either!

Just because I love a woman, it doesn't mean (Arabic), no! We have to be married, in order to have this relationship consummated. I can't say "But, I love her, we have a relationship, so let me have a sexual relationship with her", no! It is not in the context of the formality of marriage.

It is the same thing: I can say I love God, but there are other formalities that I have to go through, that solidify that covenant.

 

AUDIENCE:

The other question is, how come the Protestants read the Holly Bible that much, and they don't believe the... 58:37

 

That is an excellence question.

Because when they lost the priesthood, when Martin Luther obviously broke off the church, they didn't have the priesthood anymore. So, the Eucharist can no longer be the Eucharist, because, who can perform the sacraments? So, they said, "It is just a symbol".

Baptism, over time, became no longer "Dying and Resurrecting with Christ", now it has become just a profession of the faith, like "I believe in God, that means I am baptized". That is what the baptism has became now, over the years, in order to cover up what is missing in the church, which is the priesthood .

I think it is very clear, and when I sit with the people who want to convert, and I point through them to the sacraments in the Bible, and I always say, "You love The Bible, and I honor you..."

Protestants love The Bible, and I honor them for that, and I wish we would become "eaters" of our Bibles: everybody knows our Bibles inside-out, and that there would be teeth marks on the pages of our Bibles, because, our Bibles are the net which we use... and when we read the (writings) of the church we use also the scriptures, as the net to hold the teachings, so, the two hold each other: the teachings of the church are the ones that gave us this Bible, and now, when we read anything else, we compare it to The Bible to hold it.

 

AUDIENCE:

What would be, like a couple of books to be like a welcome... for people asking questions?

 

I would say, first one I would recommend is "Becoming Orthodox". The second one, there is a really good book called, it is a very small little book, it is called "An Orthodox response to Evangelical claims". It is a little pamphlet. Claims, or things they ask, like why do you have infant baptism. There are responses to all of those.

Also of course there is ... book: "The Heresy of Salvation In a Moment" and "Salvation in the Orthodox concept".

 

AUDIENCE:

There is one called "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy"...

 

That's the book that I actually used as the main source for this preparation. It is called "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" by father Andrew Stevens, and he has free podcasts, if you go on the podcast, there are like seventeen lectures, they are incredible! This guy is amazing! He just quotes things, and he responds to a lot of things that they ask (1:1:17).

 

AUDIENCE:

Do we have serious differences between other Orthodox denominations? 

 

There is only one small mountain in the Eastern Orthodox church, that does not want to accept what we are saying... Mount Ethos, the monks or the elders in the mount Ethos, do not want to accept what we are saying. But there is general acceptance of the Christological formula and I think you guys, did you cover that? No? The nature of Christ, it is very deep theology... But basically, there is a misunderstanding what happened to us at the Council of Chalcedon. We weren't even at the Council of Chalcedon, so, basically, we excommunicated them, they excommunicated us, they said, "You don't believe... you say that Christ's nature is from two natures, meaning, half Man, half God", that is not what we are saying. We are saying, "He is fully God, fully man, we say, he is one nature, out of two natures: He is Fully Man, Fully God, He is one unique nature, and He is in Christ's nature".

They say "One nature out of two", we say, "Two in one", they say "One out of two" so, it is just the way that they interpreted what we were saying. There was some tension. Rome was part of that, at the Council of Chalcedon. Rome was working at becoming the supreme or the primacy, or the head of the church, and so because the church of Alexandria was so strong, and its teachings, and its school of Theology, they wanted to... (let's just say) there was tension, but now there is a general understanding between the two Orthodox families that we agree, but there is just a small amount of monks that don't want to accept us.

 

AUDIENCE:

So, we can attend their churches?

 

No, not until we are in full communion. However, we accept their theology, and they accept ours.

 

AUDIENCE:

Did Martin Luther have the... Apostles, the...(1:3:28)  in the early church fathers?

 

Of course, he quotes St. Augustine very much, and actually, his teaching of "Grace Alone", he took from Augustine. He was an Augustinian monk, he was Catholic, and he did have the teachings of the Church fathers, but because the Catholic church became so corrupt in those medieval times, like, he just couldn't tolerate the authority that the church had, and was abusing.

 

AUDIENCE:

(Inaudible)

 

Believe it or not, actually, Martin Luther believed in Baptism and communion, but because he was anathematized, he was excommunicated, he had no priesthood, so what was he going to do? So, he said "Christ Alone", and he justified his Theology.

 

AUDIENCE:

Is there a revised standard version of the Septuagint in English?

 

The revised standard version, I hear is the best translation. We should learn how to read Greek. I like the amplified Bible, but also the amplified Bible used terms that are (Arabic?)  In general I like the amplified Bible, because it goes according to the Greek.

Good questions! Are there any other questions about Protestantism, things that we believe, things that they say that we believe, that we don't believe?

 

AUDIENCE:

When did Veneration on earth start?

 

Veneration started... Who was the first icon? Do you know who wrote the first icon? St. Luke! Number one.

Number two, we don't venerate the icons, unless they are Chrismated with (Mayroon) 1:5:33 or the Chrismation, and it is done by a Bishop, in order that that would become a holly object. And it is Biblical, if you go to Genesis 28, when Jacob saw the revelation of the ladder, what did he do?

He said "Truly this is the house of God , and he took oil and he consecrated the stones, and he built an alter." He made them (the stones) holly.

Christ himself is the first icon! How is that? In God the Father who is invisible... In Colossians chapter one it says, "Christ is the image of the Invisible God", so Christ when he took flesh, he became the icon of God. So, when we honor Christ, when we honor that Icon, obviously... because Christ came, we can have images now.

We don't use statues in the Orthodox church. Catholics use statues. We use icons, why, and what is the difference? What do we say, are icons painted, or ... what are they called? They are written! When somebody makes an icon, they are writing an icon, they are not painting an icon, it is not a painting.

The difference in our Theology and the Renaissance Theology, is that it is trying to depict the exact physical details of, like "The Last Supper", Leonardo Da Vinci's, his "Last Supper", they are trying to make an exact depiction.

In the Orthodox church, it is a story, and everything is very distorted. You might find an arms that are very long, you might find like a head this big and the body this big... you may find things different, because there is a theology that is going on in the icon in order to teach, and when it is Chrismated with the Mayroon, it means it is sanctified by the Holy Spirit, as it was practiced early in the church. Even, there is a book called "The Cult of the Saints", by St.John Chrysostom. It is talking about the veneration of relics. Even Justin M (1:1:49) ... he writes about "The Veneration of Relics". Justin M... is a second century saint. You see them (both writers) referring to the honoring of relics.

 

AUDIENCE :

I am reading a book now called "The African Memory of Mark", and it (talks about how)  after St. Mark passed, they venerated his relics, even in Alexandria. Surely this is a practice that was being done very early on in our Church.

 

(...) The Bible: let's stick to The Bible. I don't like to teach outside of The Bible to the people who are not Orthodox, because their main source is The Bible.

 

When you look at Elisha the prophet, when he was dead, there was a bunch of like, raiders, and they were out to steal some stuff, so they took a dead man, and they put him in the grave of Elisha (Elisha was not Christ!). When he was put in the grave of Elisha, he was raised from the dead! So, they believe in the holiness of the relics of Elisha the prophet, because when he was laid, in the (grave) of Elisha the prophet, the person was dead, and he was raised!

 

Open your Bibles at Acts 14:3... You have to know your Bibles, and I want to you guys to underline these things.

If anybody has found, raise your hands, so we can read it. Pay attention to the details:

Audience reads.

 

So, here he is saying, the grace of the holy spirit allowed signs and wonders to be done through the saints, or through the apostles. When you have the handkerchief of St. Paul, that can heal the sick... It is in the Bible. That was considered a relic of the Greece, because the holy spirit was working through that handkerchief. We don't worship the handkerchief , but we honor the work of the holy spirit through that handkerchief.

St. Paul's handkerchief used to heal the sick! The handkerchief that used to wipe the (...) that was falling out of his eyes, can you imagine, how disgusting if someone could heal you with a (...) infested rag! So, you find that the relic of St. Paul, his relic, his own handkerchief could heal!

Also, you find Joseph talking about when you leave Egypt, carry my bones as a memorial, so it was the honoring of his bones as the of (...) of Egypt, and he was one of the Jews, and he says "When you leave Egypt, take my bones with you." See, you find the presence of the grace of the Holy Spirit working through their material bodies, their physical bodies: their hands were healing, their handkerchiefs were healing, you understand?

 

AUDIENCE

I understand, but what I get they don't understand is the argument that... Okay, I get "God alone is worthy of our worship", veneration is given to things because God is working in them, but why did the Protestants reject veneration, and what is the process, if He made it (Holly), how do we receive a message from God, from the Holy Spirit that says "This is what you will do", do you receive directions?

 

He said "Commemorate the Holy Spirit", when this woman came, and anointed Christ's head... I believe it is John chapter twelve and Mark chapter fourteen (call me if I am wrong). He says "What this woman has done...", I want to see Mark 14:49, read it please...

 

Audience reads.

"Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this  Gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done, will also be told as a memorial to her."

 

"As a memorial", so this woman was meant to be honored and to be a memorial, a memorial to her. So that is number one. He is saying "Where this gospel is preached", the memorial will be to who to who? To her! What about "Christ Alone"? He says "Honor this woman".

What about St. Mary that says "All generations shall call me Blessed"? You find now, in the Protestant churches they don't even want to say, like... they want to make her very low! Not even like an honored woman, she is just like anybody! When St. Mary says "All generations shall call me Blessed".

 

Also, if when talk about the intercession of Saints. If you read Revelations chapter eight talks about the prayers of the Saints being offered in heaven (...)

Revelation chapter eight, I think one to five.

The reason why they didn't like it is because the Catholic church took it too far. They in some places, some Catholic places have considered St. Mary a co-redemptress,  a co-redeamer. Saying also that St. Mary was immaculately conceived, because they believe in the original sin passed down through sexual relations, they were saying "St. Mary was immaculately conceived, or she would have passed into Christ that original sin, so she must have been immaculately conceived". So, because they kept going overboard with St. Mary, there was this animosity toward what the Catholics were doing, so they went against it.

However, believe it or not, they consider Martin Luther and Calvin to be saints, and they have their pictures, and they are honored, and their pictures are everywhere... Martin Luther and Calvin are considered saints in their eyes, but they never call them saints. They will never call them saints.

When we offer praises to the saints, we are... Christ himself says, He wanted to share his glory with us. In John seventeen, in his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, his priestly prayer was, he wanted...  those that he was praying for, that they would share in "our glory". Christ didn't want... he wanted to share his glory with us, so we believe that they (the Saints) are in glory. Good question.

 

AUDIENCE:

Doesn't he even tell the apostles that they will sit beside him in the throne, that they will judge the others, and so on and so on, obviously that is the glorification of men that is not solely due to God.

 

Definitely, and you see in firsI Corinthians chapter fifteen, talking about, if you want to turn up your Bibles, I Corinthians 15, talking about "One star differing from another in glory". (By) Stars, he was talking about the saints.

I Corinthians 15:40,41.

 

"There are also celestial bodies or heavenly bodies and terrestrial bodies. But the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars.  For one star differs from another star in glory. So, also is the resurrection from the dead."

Repeat: "One star differs from another in glory, so also is the resurrection from the dead." Verse forty-two, I believe He is talking about the glory of the saints. So, they are glorified. God share them Glory, so we offer them glory... We offer them praise, not worship!

It is just like when I graduate from High school: do you praise me?  When I get through a PhD program, you say to me "Good job father Paul, you got a PhD, we're proud of you, you're wonderful, you're an example, you went all the way, you achieved..."

Why is there no problem in praising me for getting a PhD, but not for living a righteous life? Do you understand that?

I mean, there is no problem in praising me for achieving a PhD, and saying "You are great, and we are so proud of you, and we love, you're an example, and we hope that all other kids learn how to get a PhD just like you". We are saying, you are an example. But what do we say about the saints? We say the same thing! "You are our examples, you lived a holy life, you offered your life to Christ. Your life was a living sacrifice, you led a virtuous life", and those are canonized saints. We don't offer glorification to saints that are not canonized. Not just because they are righteous, but they have to be canonized by the church, as like examples of virtue. Does that make sense?

So, when if I die...

 

AUDIENCE:

I have a question that is more about the canonizing of saints: What is that process, and when did that (begin?)

 

I am not an expert in canonizing of Saints, I've never done one myself, but I can look up the answer for you, but it is done in the councils of the Synods, and we believe, in the church, that the Holy Spirit leads the councils. Just like we trusted the Holy Spirit to lead the council of Nicaea to put The Bible together.

That's the difference between us and the Catholic church. Infallibility of the Pope? No. We say, the council of the Bishops in a holy Synod, guided by the holy spirit to choose and to make those decisions. But I can look up the answer, and (...) will send it to you guys.

 

Any other questions? They are all good questions, and I don't have answers to everything, but I am learning just like you guys are.

Questions, concerns, anything that seems funny on our side, that we want an answer to? Like, "What do you guys do that?"

 

AUDIENCE:

(...) a prominent Protestant writer, he was saying that in the book of Judah, that God commanded Judah to lie, and that is not like...

 

I would have to see the quote, but I would not imagine that God commanded him to lie. I would have to see the exact quote. If you can find the quote, let me know, and we will look at it together.

 

AUDIENCE:

My question is more like (...) Technically I almost feel like, in the earlier church we had the church tradition, what was passed on like (...) he was involved in the progression of passing on all of that, like... what we have today: what has progressed and what we hold on as our tradition: how do we know what is divinely inspired as opposed to what man has added in.

 

Excellent. When we see what man has added in, we hold the scripture as the net. So, if I am reading (say) Tertulian, from the second century (some of his teachings are off), I would hold the scripture as the net to what he is saying.

Number two, we have the liturgical text, and the tradition that is practiced, and everything that is decided by man today...

Do you know how long it took us, in the Coptic church to add the prayer for the air: the travelers by air? Because, we weren't sure if flying by plane was going to be just like a twenty years' (experiment), and then go away. So we held out on that before adding those who travel by air, because we don't just add. We have to make sure that this is a means of travel, because we  are so strict when it comes to that, because we won't add. Okay?

So, it is extremely important for us to understand that when the Holy Synod makes a decision, they will present their decision by the teachings of the apostles, and it would have to be able not against the Bible.

Because we trust... so if the church says today, "No more fasting lent"  we trust the holy spirit guided the holy Synod. But if today, the Holy Synod comes and says, we are going to fast another three weeks (more than) what the apostles fasted, it is also (...)

We trust the holy spirit has led the holy Synod to make that decision, and so we obey because we believe that the holy spirit is guiding the church, and they received the holy spirit through passing down, through the apostle's succession, and uniformly through prayer.

 

Other questions? I know it is a long topic, but it is an extremely important topic, because... how many of you have ever gotten in with somebody who is a Protestant, maybe a known Orthodox? Almost everybody! How many of us have done it more than five times?

 

You are now in a culture, where it is... I mean, America is a Christian nation, supposedly, and predominantly protestant, and the protestant movement... Believe it or not actually, Protestants are starting to become more traditional! Fifteen years ago, they were like, anti anything that had any formality to it. Now, I don't know if you are attending the Light and Life series that we are doing with the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book?

One of his topics was the importance of the daily office, which is the Agbea, They are going back to the daily office, and they are going back to silence and solitude and monastic life, even though the Protestant teaching is against the Monastic life, because they think that monks are trying to earn their way to salvation through life and struggle. That is now what is happening in monastic life.

So, you find now that the Protestant churches, they are trying to have a little more ritual in them, and a little more formality, because they are realizing, there is no substance, there is nothing I can hold on to. Like, "I did the (...) 1:22:55 last week, now what do I do?" "Well, do the (...) again!" Every week, they will call you to do the (...), like, "Come on, give me something!"

That is where the Orthodox spiritual life leads the believer into union with God.

 

I can have another seven lectures on the comparison between Protestantism and Orthodoxy, talking about all kinds of things, but we will leave it to this one.

 

AUDIENCE:

We need another session!

 

You want another session about Protestantism and Orthodoxy? But you guys didn't ask questions! I like the questions, I like to use The Bible, and I like to answer from The Bible. Any other questions?

It is up to uncle George to tell us what we have time for and what we don't have time for.

 

I agree. This is important because this is faced more, and I think it is important for us, not to convert Protestants, but to enlighten them. Because there are Protestants who love God, with all their hearts, and they are so devoted, and they have offered their lives to witnessing to Him and His Kingdom. If they only knew that there was a little bit more, just a little bit more that you can experience! They would experience it much more that we even experience it! Whenever you speak to a convert who has entered in to the Orthodox church, they are like, "You guys are (nuts), you have no idea the wonders that are in your church!"

We had an ... Orthodox Church down the street from my church in LA, and their priest who was an American convert, he was so ascetic, and devout and the whole congregation was like, practicing very ascetic practices, he was burning them out, he was going overboard. But (the point is) they were like, burning to experience the fullness of Orthodoxy.

And yet we are telling people "Go down on the field, accept Christ as your personal savior, and you will never lose your salvation again!"

That is cheap! "Easy in, easy out", right? Easy in easy out.

For us there is depth in it...

 

It is important to us to understand what is Protestantism, and what is Western. Big difference! Some people say, "You guys sing Protestants songs?" They are singing Protestant songs. Are songs Protestants because they are made by Americans, or white people, or... What makes something Protestant? Because, if the Protestants teach the Bible, should we not teach Bible? The Protestants have Sunday schools, where do we have Sunday schools from? The Protestants, okay?

If there is a song that is against our theology, if the words of the song are against our theology, then of course we cannot practice it. But there is nothing wrong in singing songs that are western, versus Protestant Theology! I want to make sure that we have it clear in our minds, what is Western, what we do in the West, what is implemented in the western culture, and it is different than Protestantism, because Protestant means heresy. That means there are heretical teachings, heretical practices in it.

Anyone have questions or comments?

 

AUDIENCE:

So is that kind of falling in line with, for instance,(...) we read a book, when we integrate, against what is western thought and not their theology...

 

Actually, this book is against western thought. The writer is a Protestant, and he is against... he keeps going back to, like how westerners have messed this up, and he keeps going back to what is done in the east, and how he found truth in that. So, even though it is written by a Protestant writer, we wouldn't use it, if it was against out Theology. And, because he is going back and saying, this busy life of the Western thought, how it is affecting our  psychology and our emotional healthy spirituality, he is going back to what was practiced in the desert of Egypt, and he is speaking to Protestants about it, so we are using it as a source. But that is a good question. But we have to draw a line.

 

AUDIENCE:

But even in other books that I read, that are not written by Orthodox writers, they are not necessary theology, but they are speaking about, like the (...) the relationship with God builds, they are not necessarily teaching a theology to follow but they are guiding ...

 

Wonderful. I am not against people reading other books, but if you don't know your Orthodox theology, then don't do it. If you don't know how to compare the two, you are putting yourself at risk in getting thoughts that are not aligned with ours. And it is important that if you did get a thought that is not aligned with ours, that you do accept the Orthodox teaching as the supreme teaching. So, if I come and say, "Actually our Orthodox teaching does not align with what you are saying", you will automatically accept the Orthodox theology as the highest authority, and say you have to submit to that teaching. Otherwise it is not acceptable to read.

I am not against reading, but I want us to do it with discernment.

 

AUDIENCE:

A bit off topic, but... When I was in college I had to take (religion) class, as it introduced us to a bunch of theologies. Would that be an argument to oppose my children going to college, because they may be confused, having  (no enough) knowledge about Orthodoxy.

 

Virtually you can do most anything, with your kids, as a parent (laughs). I don't know how effective that would be. I think it is important that you tell them the truth of Orthodoxy, to the point where they get to explore and learn other religions, as long as you, a parent, have entrusted them with the true faith.

And a talk like this, which gives the Orthodox response to maybe things that we have  heard about other theologies, it is important for them to hear!

It is important for them to hear, "Wait a minute, what do you mean, Scripture alone isn't in The bible?" Then that theology, automatically doesn't pass the test! At that point, any interpretation goes out of the window, because Scripture Alone in itself has failed the test! So, any theology even if I take it, I can't accept it until I have verified it with Tradition.

So, it is important that we pass his on to our children.

You can ask them, but I don't know how effective it is going to be. But I encourage you to protect their minds from false teachings, or half truths. I don't like to call it false teachings, as much as half truths.

I hope I didn't offend anyone, all that have friends and relatives and people that are not of the Orthodox faith, maybe they are Protestants. And I said it is not our place to damn them to hell, but it is important for us to say what is The Way!

We don't say that they are going to hell, we do say, this is the way to salvation. If you want to take it, great. If you want to jump through the roof, or you want to do it some other way, good luck! Let me know how it goes.

 

Any other comments?

 

Sorry, it was a very long lecture, I apologize, but it is important.

 

 

Glory Be to God forever and ever.

 

 

 

Transcribed by jeanounou, July2017