Monday, September 15, 2014

The Orthodox Church's Response to Reformed Theology

The Great Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople (Istanbul)
This magnificent church was built under the reign of Byzantine
Emperor Justinian. From the date of its construction in 537 A.D.
until 1453 A.D., it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and 
seat of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. It still stands today
as a museum.

"From 1576 to 1581 Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople  conducted the first important theological exchanges between Orthodoxy and Protestants. On 24 May 1575,Lutherans Jakob Andreae and Martin Crusius from Tübingen presented the Patriarch with a translated copy of the Augsburg Confession. Jeremias II wrote three rebuttals known as 'Answers,' which established that the Orthodox Church had no desire (or need) for reformation" Source

Excerpts from Patriarch Jeremiah II letters to the Tubingen theologians (Lutherans), can be read here

To read the full text and historical background of the correspondence between the Patriarch and the Lutherans please read Augsburg and Constantinople, The Correspondence between the Tübingen Theologians and Patriarch Jeremiah II of Constantinople on the Augsburg Confession, by Fr. George Mastrantonis, Brookline, MA, Holy Cross Orthodox Press, 1982
ISBN 0-916586-81-2
ISBN 0-916586-82-0

"Augsburg and Constantinople" can be purchased at Amazon

Patriarch Jeremiah II ended the correspondence with these words, "Therefore, we request that from henceforth you do not cause us more grief, nor write to us on the same subject if you should wish to treat these luminaries and theologians of the Church in a different manner. You honor and exalt them in words, but you reject them in deeds."
from Augsburg and Constantinople p.306

Therefore the protestant reformation was a brave but ultimately failed and misguided attempt, to bring restoration to a church already in schism (the Roman Catholic Papacy which severed itself from the other four Orthodox Patriarchates in 1054). It failed because it did not succeed in restoring the papacy to the New Testament Apostolic Church, which is indeed the Orthodox Church. Instead it created thousands of conflicting denominations and even more new ones being formed every year. As the saying goes, "It is not possible to reinvent the wheel". The Church, the Body of Christ, has been, and is, and will be, in unbroken continuity from the beginning until our Lord returns.

The Lutherans rejected the authority of the ages in the Orthodox Church. While seeking to legitimatize their movement by their futile attempt to receive the endorsement of the Church of Constantinople, the Lutherans refused to acknowledge that the Church is One and visible. They have churches but do not believe in THE Church, as confessed in the Nicene creed.  They rejected the words of the very same Fathers who gave us the Nicene Creed, the doctrines of the Trinity, the Incarnation, the Holy Spirit, the very foundations on which the Orthodox Christian Church stands and remains intact to this day. The Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic (which means both Whole and Universal) and Apostolic Church. She alone is the New Testament Church, the Body of Christ.

In the Orthodox blog, Orthodox-Reformed Bridge we read an interesting
article concerning some misconceptions expressed by some Reformed
theologians on the Orthodox Church and its teachings,

"Ligonier Ministries on Eastern Orthodoxy

After years of obscurity on the American religious landscape, Eastern Orthodoxy is beginning to catch the attention of Evangelical leaders. In 2004, Ligonier Ministries sponsored a national conference “A Portrait of God” which featured: J. Ligon Duncan III, R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur. At one of the Q&A sessions, the moderator noted that he had received several questions about Eastern Orthodoxy.

It is unfortunate that these well known Reformed theologians made erroneous statements about Eastern Orthodoxy." For the full article please go here

Mosaic of Christ in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How to Avoid becoming Prideful because of our Good Deeds


"One should not give alms with pride but rather with humility,
considering the one to whom the alms are given to be better
than oneself. Did not the Lord Himself say: Inasmuch as ye 
have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye
have done it unto Me? (Matthew 25:40) 

Theophanes the Confessor possessed a mind illumined by the
light of Christ, even as a child. Once, while walking along the
street, he saw a naked child freezing. He quickly removed his
clothes, clothed the child and thus warmed him and brought 
him back to life. He then returned home naked. 

His startled parents asked him: ``Where are your clothes?''
To this Theophanes replied: ``I clothed Christ.'' This is why
he was given the grace of Christ, and was later a great 
ascetic, a sufferer for the Christian Faith and a miracle-

Often, when we give alms, either in someone else's name
or in our own name, we cannot avoid pride which, as soon
as it appears in the heart, destroys all the good deeds
performed. When we give to the beggar as to a beggar and
not as to Christ, we cannot avoid pride or disdain. What 
value is there in performing an act of mercy, while taking
pride in ourselves and disdaining the man? Virtue is not
a virtue when it is mixed with sin, just as milk is not milk
when it is mixed with gasoline or vinegar." 
St Nikolai Velimirovich in The Prologue from Ochrid
Reading for September 9th.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Gospel According to Chairs

Icon of Christ carrying His Cross in the Church of
Panagia Dexia, Thessaloniki, Greece

by Subdeacon Steve Robinson

"Subdeacon Steve Robinson uses chairs to illustrate the difference between penal-substitutionary atonement (PSA) and the Eastern Orthodox understanding of Christ's work on the cross.

PSA comes from a medieval thinker named Anselm of Canterbury (AD 1033-1109) and is the most widely accepted understanding among Catholics and Protestants of why Christ had to die. By contrast, in Eastern Orthodox Church thought, Christ's death is neither penal, nor is it substitutionary, nor is it even rightly called atonement.

That Christ's death is not penal is seen in Jn 3:16-17: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

That Christ's death is not substitutionary is seen in Ez 18:20: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him." So much for vicarious atonement and the related heresy of positional righteousness!

That Christ's death is not rightly called atonement is a mere case of semantic sleight of hand. "Atonement" means reparation for a wrong or an injury. If Christ's death is an "atonement," then it follows by definition that Christ is dying to make reparation for some wrong. But why should we allow the Anselm's followers to put the label "atonement" on Christ's death when the far more ancient term for it was "redemption"? To "redeem" is to rescue something from a state of sinfulness or its consequences. Thus, if we call Christ's death a redemption instead of an atonement, then PSA follows not at all." from the YouTube website

Further Reading:

On Atonement by Fr John Peck

The Orthodox Way of Salvation

The River of Fire

The Orthodox Understanding of Salvation

Friday, August 29, 2014

Glory to God for All Things!

Border Collie

Every time I see beauty in nature is as if I could hear
God, our Creator, asking me, "Do you like it? I made
it for you!"; and the response of my heart is always 
the same, "Glory to God for all things!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Head, Heart, and Nous by Frederica Mathewes-Green

Entrance to the Monastery in Leilich, Serbia where
St Nikolai Velimirovich's relics are kept

Matushka Frederica makes some brilliant distinctions in this article. She masterfully explains some very subtle nuances in the understanding of the Fathers concerning the make up of man; head vs nous [also translated as intellect, mind (not to be confused with reason), that part of the soul which can have communion with God and can know God. Frederica makes a distinction between spiritual heart and feelings; between imagination and man's creative faculty.This is all very Patristic, and according to holy tradition and the scriptures.

M. Frederica writes;

"This concept of the nous, I would think would be important to Western Christians and to Evangelicals, because they do have this important role for God’s revelation, that there are things that we cannot learn by logic alone, there are things we can only learn because God reveals them. So therefore you need something more than a heart full of emotions and a head full of concepts. You need a receptive mind, a mind that can comprehend, and that would be the nous. It’s like a piece that is missing in our Western anthropology." Frederica Mathewes-Green

To read the article please go to Matushka Frederica's website

Posted with permission

Monday, August 25, 2014

How to See God - a Sermon by Fr Andrew S. Damick

Moses beholds the burning bush Source

"Fr. Andrew reflects on the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
and how it reveals how we can see God and sense His Presence."
from the Ancient Faith Radio website.

Please click here to listen to this wonderful sermon.

Posted with permission from Fr Andrew S. Damick

Saturday, August 23, 2014

On Forgiveness by Fr Alexis Trader

Icon of Christ's Trial inside the 
Church of 
Panagia Dexia in Thessaloniki, Grecce

Fr Alexis Trader, an Athonite Hieromonk, in the
Monastery of Karakallou, has been publishing a 
series of post on forgiveness in his blog,

The articles on forgiveness are very comprehensive in 
their scope and practical application. This is Patristic
teaching at its bests. It will surely help many. Please
do not deprive yourself of something wonderful and
start following this series on forgiveness. 
There are 21 posts following 
this one, so far. If you
go to the home page of the blog you will see the last
or more recent one. To start from the beginning,
please go 

Below is the beginning of the first post,

"A New Blog Series on Forgiveness: Some
Preliminary Definitions
June 10, 2014 By fatheralexis

In a fallen world, no one escapes the bumps and bruises associated with our interactions with others. Sometimes, the cuts and scrapes form gaping holes that may leave us offended and wounded, hurt by angry words, callous actions, or selfish disregard. While we can confidently affirm that conflict is an inevitable, if not unfortunate part of human life, the aftermath of such often comes down to a choice between resentment and forgiveness. This new blog series will focus attention on the latter.

Forgiveness, or the lack thereof in ourselves or in others, is a subject that affects each of us, undoubtedly on a daily basis. Its role is so significant that psychologists and healthcare professionals over the past thirty years have begun studying what people of faith have known about for millennia, namely that forgiveness plays a powerful, therapeutic role in better physical and mental well-being. Of course, Christianity uses another language—the language of the heart, the language of brotherhood, and the language of God Himself—to speak about forgiveness, whereas psychology uses the terminology of science. Is there a meeting place between our forgiving our brothers and sisters from our hearts their trespasses against us (Matthew 18:35) and what psychologists are exploring today? That will be one of the questions this series will attempt to answer.

A starting point for that question would be to look at some definitions that psychologists propose for forgiveness. As Blake Riek and Eric W. Mania have noted in their article “The Antecedents and Consequences of Interpersonal Forgiveness: A Meta-Analytic Review,” there have been various opinions concerning an exact definition of the term. Yet, they do point out the definition put forth in 1997 by McCullough, Worthington, and Rachal: forgiveness is “a set of motivational changes whereby one becomes a) decreasingly motivated to retaliate against an offending relationship partner, b) decreasingly motivated to maintain estrangement from the offender, and c) increasingly motivated by conciliation and goodwill for the offender’” (pp. 321-22). In other words, forgiveness is about how we are moved with respect to someone else or a change in disposition in which the fight or flight impulse has weakened and an inclination towards meeting the person with kindness begins to grow stronger. There is a change in the will and a change in perspective that allows for a radically new and undeniably positive approach to someone else that is manifest in thoughts, emotions, and behavior. That this is something good, almost goes without saying."

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Recommended Reading

  • A Commentary On The Divine Liturgy by St. Nicholas Cabasilas, ISBN: 0-913836-37-0
  • A Night in the Desert of the Holy Mountain by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos Trans. by Effie Mavromichali, ISBN: 960-7070-31-3
  • A Spiritual Psalter or Reflections On God excerpted by St. Theophan the Recluse from the works of St. Ephraim the Syrian, Trans. by Antonina Janda, ISBN 0-912927-40-2
  • Against False Union ( with a prologue by Photios Kontoglou) by Alexander Kalomiros, Trans. by George Gabriel, ISBN: 0-913026-49-2
  • Akathist To Jesus Conqueror of Death, by St Nikolai Velimirovich, Trans. by Interklima, Copyright 2009, English Edition, by St Paisius Monastery, Safford, AZ
  • An Athonite Gerontikon by Archimandrite Ioannikios, Holy Monastery of St Gregory Palamas Kouphalia, Greece 1991
  • Byzantine Theology by John Meyendorff, ISBN: 0-8232-0967-9
  • Christ Our Way and Our Life by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou, ISBN 1-878997-74-2
  • Christ The Eternal Tao by Hieromonk Damascene, ISBN 0-938635-85-9
  • Commentary on The Gospel of St Luke by St Cyril of Alexandria Trans. by R.Payne Smith, Studion Publishers, Inc. ISBN:0-943670-01-2
  • Concerning Frequent Communion by Nikodemos the Hagiorite, Trans. by George Dokos, ISBN: 960-86778-5-8
  • Confronting Controlling Thoughts by Antony M. Coniaris, ISBN: ISBN: 1-880971-88-7
  • Conversations with Children by Sister Magdalen, ISBN: 1-874679-21-5
  • Counsels from the Holy Mountain by Elder Ephraim of Philotheou, ISBN: 0-9667000-2-3
  • Daily Readings with St. Isaac of Syria, Trans. by Sebastian Brock, ISBM: 0-87243-173-8
  • Dance, O Isaiah by Constantine Platis, unknown printing 2000
  • Diary Of A Pilgrimage from the Ancient Christian Writers series, by Egeria, Trans. by George E. Gingras, ISBN: 0-8091-0029-0
  • Drinking from the Hidden Fountain by Thomas Spidlik, ISBN: 0-87907-348-9
  • Elder Ephraim of Katounakia Trans by Tessy Vassiliaou-Christodoulou, ISBN: 960-7407-33-4
  • Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels, Spiritual Awakening vol 2, Trans by Fr. Peter Chamberas, Holy Monastery 'Evangelist John The Theologian' Souroti, Greece 2007
  • Elder Paisios of Mount Athos Spiritual Counsels, With Pain And Love for Contemporay Man vol1, Trans by Cornelia A. Tsakiridou & Maria Spanou, Holy Monastery 'Evangelist John The Theologian' Souroti, Greece 2006
  • Epistles by Elder Paisios of Mount Athos, Holy Monastery of the Evangelist John the Theologian, Souroti, Greece 2002
  • Father Arseny Trans. by Vera Bouteneff, ISBN 0-88141-180-9
  • Flame in the Snow, A Life of St Seraphim of Sarov by Julia de Beausobre, ISBN: 0-87243-223-8
  • From St. Isaac The Syrian to Dostoyevsky by Archimandrite Vasileios, Trans. by Dr.Elizabeth Theokritoff, ISBN: 1-896800-34-3
  • Grace For Grace: The Psalter And The Holy FathersCompiled and Edited by Johanna Manley, ISBN: 0-9622536-1-8
  • Hesychia and Theology by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, Trans. by Sister Pelagia Selfe, ISBN: 978-960-7070-60-9
  • His Life is Mine by Archimandrite Sophrony, ISBN: 0-913836-33-8
  • I Love Therefore I Am by Fr. Nicholas V. Sakharov, ISBN: 0-88141-236-8
  • In The Light of Christ, St Symeon The New Theologian by Archbishop Basil Krivocheine Trans. by Anthony P. Gythiel, ISBN 0-913836-91-5
  • Isaac of Ninaveh ( Isaac The Syrian) The Second Part, chapters IV-XLV, Trans. by Sebastian Brock, ISBN: 90-6831-709-1
  • Missionary Lettersof Saint Nikolai Velimirovich vol 1, Trans. by Hierodeacon Serafim, New Gracanica Monastery, Grayslake, IL
  • Monastic Wisdom, The Letters of Elder Joseph The Hesychast, ISBN: 0-9667000-0-7
  • Mount Athos Renewal in Paradise by Graham Speake, ISBN: 0-300-093535
  • Nil SorskyTrans. and Edited by George A. Maloney, ISBN: 0-8091-9810-7
  • Not of This World,Compiled and Edited by James S. Cutsinger, ISBN: 0-941532-41-0
  • On Prayer by Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov Rosemar Edmonds, ISBN 0-88141-194-9
  • On The Apostolic Preaching by St. Irenaeus of Lyons, Trans. by John Behr, ISBN: 0-88141-174-4
  • On The Cosmic Mystery of Jesus Christ by St Maximus The Confessor, Trans. by Paul M. Blowers & Robert Louis Wilken, ISBN: 0-88141-249-x
  • On The Human Condition by St Basil The GreatTrans. by Nonna Verna Harrison, ISBN: 0-88141-294-5
  • On The Incarnation by St. Athanasius, ISBN: 0-913836-40-0
  • On The Mother of God by Jacob of Serug, ISBN: 0-88141-184-1
  • Once Delivered to The Saints by Fr. Michael Azkoul, ISBN: 0-913026-84-0
  • Orthodox Faith and Life in Christ by Father Justin Popovich Trans. by Asterios Gerosterios, ISBN: 1-884729-02-9
  • Orthodox Psychotherapy by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, Trans. by Esther Williams, ISBN: 960-7070-27-5
  • Orthodox Spiritual Life According to Saint Silouan The Athonite by Harry Boosalis, ISBN: 1-878997-60-2
  • Orthodox Spirituality and The Philokalia by Placide Deseille Trans. by Anthon P. Gythiel, ISBN 978-0-9717483-7-8
  • Orthodox Spirituality by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, ISBN 960-7070-20-8
  • Passions and Virtues According to Saint Gregory Palamas by Anestis Keselopulos, ISBN: 1-878997-75-0
  • Patristic Theology by John S. Romanides, ISBN 978-960-86778-8-3
  • Prayers by the Lake by St Nikolai Velimirovich, The Serbian Orthodox Metropolinate of New Gracanica, Grayslake, IL 1999
  • Saint Cyril of Alexandria and the Christological Controversy by John McGuckin, ISBN: 0-88141-259-7
  • Santa Biblia Antigua Version de Casiodoro De Reina Revisada por Cipriano de Valera(1602) Revision de 1960, Holman Publishers 2008
  • St John of Damascus, The Fathers of the Church series, Trans. by Frederic H. Chase, Jr., ISBN: 0-8132-0968-4
  • St Seraphim of Sarov, A Spiritual Biography by Archimandrite Lazarus Moore, ISBN: 1-880364-13-1
  • St Silouan The Athonite by Archimandrite Sophrony, ISBN 0-88141-195-7
  • St. Symeon The New Theologian, On The Mystical Life, The Ethical Discourses, Trans. by Alexander Golitzin 3 vols. ISBN: 0-88141-142-6 and - 143-4, and 144-2
  • Standing In God's Holy Fire by John A. McGuckin, ISBN: 1-57075-382-2
  • Symeon The New Theologian, The Discourses, Classics of Western Spirituality, ISBN: 0-8091-2230-8
  • Symeon The New Theologian, The Practical and Theological Discourses and The Three Theological Chapters, Trans. by Dr. Paul McGuckin, Cistercian Publications Inc. 1982
  • The Acquisition of The Holy Spirit by I.M. Kontzevitch, ISBN: 0-938635-73-5
  • The Adam Complex by Dee Pennock, ISBN: 1-880971-89-5
  • The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac The Syrian, Trans. by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, ISBN: 0-913026-55-7
  • The Authentic Seal by Archimandrite Aimilianos, ISBN: 960-85603-3-0
  • The Book of Mystical Chapters, Trans. and introduced by John A. McGuckin, ISBN: 1-59030-007-6
  • The Boundless Garden by Alexandros Papadiamantis Edited by Lambros Kamperidis and Denise Harvey, ISBN 978-960-7120-23-6
  • The Church Fathers ( Ante-Nicene, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, published by Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody Massachusetts, 37 vol. set
  • The Enlargement of The Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou, ISBN 0-9774983-2-8
  • The Faith of Chosen People by St Nikolai Velimirovich, The Free Serbian Diocese of America and Canada, Grayslake, IL 1988
  • The Faith of The Saints , A Catechism by St. Nikolai Velimirovich, ISBN:1-932965-06-8
  • The Fifty Spiritual Homilies, Pseudo-Macarius, ISBN: 0-8091-0455-5
  • The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis, ISBN: 978-1-887904-16-2
  • The Heart by Archimandrite Spyridon Logothetis, ISBN 960-86639-4-6
  • The Hidden Man of The Heart by Archimandrite Zacharias Zacharou, ISBN 978-0-9800207-1-7
  • The Holy Bible NKJV, Thomas Nelson, 1992
  • The Homilies of Saint Gregory Palamas by Christopher Veniamin, 2 vols. ISBN: 1-878997-67-X; ISBN: 1-878997-68-X
  • The Ladder of Divine Ascent by St. John Climacus Edited by Holy Transfifuration Monastery 1979, ISBN 0-943405-03-3
  • The Life of St. Anthony by St. Athanasius the Great, Eastern Orthodox Books, Willits, CA
  • The Lives of The Holy Prophets by Holy Apostles Convent, ISBN: 0944359-12-4
  • The Living Witness of the Holy Mountain by Hieromonk Alexander Golitzin, ISBN: 1-878997-48-3
  • The Luminus Eye by Sebastian Brock, ISBN: 0-87907-524-4
  • The Mind of the Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Hierotheos Vlachos, Trans. by Esther Williams, ISBN: 960-7070-39-9
  • The One Thing Needful by Archbishop Andrei of Novo- Diveevo, ISBN: 91-2927-29-1
  • The Orthodox Ethos, Studies in Orthodoxy Edited by A.J. Philippou, Hollywell Press Oxford 1964
  • The Orthodox New Testament 2 vols., Published by The Holy Apostles Convent 1999, ISBN: 0-944359-17-5 & 0-944359-14-0
  • The Philokalia, The Complete Text compiled by St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth, Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware Vol 4 ISBN: 0-571-11727-9
  • The Philokalia, The Complete Text compiled by St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth, Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware Vol2 ISBN: 0-571-15466-2
  • The Philokalia, The Complete Text compiled by St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth, Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard and Kallistos WareVol 3 ISBN: 0-571-17525-2
  • The Philokalia, The Complete Textcompiled by St Nicodemos of the Holy Mountain and St Makarios of Corinth, Trans. by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard and Kallistos Ware, Vol 1 ISBN: 0-571-13013-5
  • The Philokalia: Master Reference Guide Compiled by Basileios S. Stapakis, Trans by G.E.H. Palmer, Phillip Sherrard, Kallistos Ware, ISBN: 1-880971-87-9
  • The Prologue of Ohrid, Trans. by Fr. Timothy Tepsic, vol 1 ISBN: 978-0-9719505-0-4; vol 2 ISBN: 978-0-9719505-1-1
  • The Psalter Trans. by Holy Transfiguration Monastery, ISBN: 0-943405-00-9
  • The Spiritual World of St Isaac the Syrian by Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan 2000
  • The Way of A Pilgrim R.M. French, ISBN 345-24254-8-150
  • We Shall See Him As He Is by Archimandrite Sophrony Sakharov, ISBN 0-9512786-4-9
  • Wisdom. Let Us Attend: Job, The Fathers, and The Old Testament by Johanna Manley, ISBN: 0-9622536-4-2
  • Words of Life by Archimandrite Sophrony, Trans. by Sister Magdalen, ISBN1-874679-11-8
  • Writings from The Philokalia On Prayer of The Heart, Trans. by E. Kadloubovsky and G.E.H. Palmer, ISBN: 0-571-16393-9