Friday, August 29, 2008

Is the Orthodox Church the One Holy True Catholic and Apostolic Church or just another denomination?

14 comments:

Athanasios Boeker said...

Denominations are a recent phenomena.

The Orthodox Church is the True and visible Church which Christ established on the day of Pentacost,33 A.D..It has been administering the True Sacraments/Mysteries, and preaching the True Gospel ect. ever since. The Orthodox Church's history goes back to the time of the Apostles. One can trace other group's origens much later, the majority of these beginning in the 16th century. But in modern 21st century America this claim seems absurd, and anyone making the claim that it is the TRUE CHURCH, as the Orthodox Church does, always comes off a bit Triumphalistic, after all how many churches did you pass on the way home from work today? How can only one be True, But nevertheless, I would encourage anyone who truly has goodwill to, visit an Orthodox Church for the Sunday morning Divine Liturgy, study the claims of the Orthodox Church, and Church history, and see for yourself.

Athanasios

Adam Roe said...

Athanasios,

Your first sentence is so important to remember. I was speaking with a friend tonight and he couldn't understand how I can credibly claim that The Orthodox Church really is the Church since, in his opinion, "nobody is like the first church." It seems to me that our struggle is twofold. First, Americans have a tough time seeing Orthodoxy as the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic church because most of them have never even heard of Orthodoxy. Second, people have become so jaded to the idea that there is actually an Orthodox Church (to them a mere fanciful concept) that they are unwilling to consider the idea.

I think th key is to show them just how novel denominationalism is to the early church. At the very least, we can show them that two bodies remained after the break of 1054. One was innovative then and has continued to innovate. The other has not. Perhaps that's the ebst place to start. I'm not sure.

In Christ,
Adam

Athanasios Boeker said...

I totally agree with what you are saying. The problem is this, The American Experience/Ethos, which is the only "reality" most people know, VS. The Reality of 2000 years of Church History. How can we, in our capacity as mere laymen, present Orthodoxy to our friends and family, so that it overcomes this false ethos? Anyone? I'm up for suggestions.

Athanasios

DEP said...

As the lone Protestant posting on this blog I'll make a few observations. While I believe you can lay claim to being the oldest church I think stating you are the True Church is a bit of a stretch. If that claim were true your churches would not have an empty seat. The truth would draw everyone to your doors. My denomination has been in existence since the 16th century. Others are much younger. However, people go where they are comfortable and welcome. If your style of worship does not appeal to someone they go where they want. It is a reality that each denomination must come to terms with.

Adam Roe said...

Dep,

Here's a question to ponder, and you don't have to answer it on this board as it's not my wish to pressure you. Are you satisfied with a 16th century theology? The reason we have all become Orthodox is that we realized that The Orthodox Church has maintained the faith that was lived and passed on by the apostles of Christ.

Study the Scriptures and the Church Fathers. See what the life of faith looked like. I suspect that you'll grow increasingly uncomfortable when juxtaposing the early Christian faith to Reformation theology and expressions of worship.

Blessings in Christ,
Adam

Athanasios Boeker said...

Dep,

Hope you are doing well on this Glorious Sunday morning.

You said, "If that were true, your Churches would not have an empty seat. The truth would draw EVERYONE to your doors."

When Christ walked the earth, did EVERYONE come to Him? Or did the Scribes and Pharasees shun Him, reject Him, and demand that the people NOT follow Him? When Christ said, "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you", did EVERYONE continue to follow Him or did many leave Him at that very moment? When Christ came into Jerusalem on the the first Palm Sunday, the people cheered Him as the coming Messianic King, yet afterwords when He revealed the TRUTH about His mission, did they continue to hail Him as the Messiah, or did they reject Him and yell, "Crucify Him!"?

The reason the people first hailed Christ as Messiah was because they had a false notion of who he was, and in a sense they had accepted, in essense a false Christ. This was proven later by their rejection of Him as the TRUE CHRIST.

The fact is that the Truth does not always attract people, sometimes it divides people.

Did not Christ Himself say, "The way that leads to Life is narrow, and few that there are find it"?

The Orthodox believe that there are two things neccessary for conversion to "Orthodoxy", and the "True Christ", God's Grace and the goodwill of man.

So really it is no suprise that people are not Flocking to the True Church.

I guarantee that a St. Louis Cardinal's Baseball game has more people flocking to it the any "church".

Athanasios

DEP said...

athanasios & mr. roe,

Thank you for your responses to mine. I am completely satisfied with my theology. Though my church has been in existence since the late 1500's, much of what it believes was practiced by the early church. In the last eight months I have read and studied many of the Orthodox Church pamphlets and perused its numerous affiliated an unaffiliated websites. I admire your commitment to study and theological integrity. In fact, I agree with many of your doctrines. I have not attended an Orthodox service, however; I have listened to several online. There is the rub. Your service and methods of worship just do not appeal to me. I love my church, its music, its fellowship, its outreach, its commitment to helping others and the theology. It is a matter of style and taste.
You are correct in that few people want to hear the truth. Today, at my church there were empty seats as well. If people truly wanted to hear spiritual truth they would, at a minimum, begin to search for it. Unfortunately, most churches who do not preach a lightweight brand of theology sit with empty seats.
This is a problem the church, any church may never overcome. Sad. Thank you for the discussion.

DEP

Adam Roe said...

Dep,

I will offer one more thought, and then I will shut my verbose mouth. :-)

Have you considered that the way Protestants worship now will not be the way they worship for eternity? It is important to recognize that worship is not a "style." It is a timeless connection to the Church of all ages...past, present, and future. In the liturgy of the Orthodox Church we are connected to the New Testament Church because our liturgical expressions come from what we've received from those Christians who have gone before us; not what we've devised because it strikes us as pleasant or enjoyable. And, indeed, we read in Revelation that Orthodox worship will be the way we worship for all eternity. Read Revelation and notice the incense, the form of the prayers offered, etc... Read Acts and see how Peter and John came to the temple for prayer in the 6th hour (the canonical hours). When one starts looking for it, it's quite illuminating to see that The Church never broke from its Jewish roots as it relates to worship. I like how Father Andrew put it a couple weeks ago. Orthodox Christians are "Judeo/Christian" in the most full sense of the word. We worship as The Church has always worshiped and as The Church always will worship.

Blessings in Christ,
Adam

Sancho Panza said...

Denominations have existed for longer than you realize. In the Bible they are called sects.
I am glad that many of you have found the True Church. I grew up among a particularly closed minded sect of non-orthodox believers who also claimed to be the true and apostolic successors of Jesus.
The difference between my closed minded heritage and your enlightened heritage is we welcomed all to the point that we entered into strangers worlds to bring the beauty of Jesus' words to the uninformed.
This hasn't happened with the "orthodox" church has it? We must enter into your world to receive grace and mercy. And when I have attempted to attend the “orthodox” church I have noticed that usually the times of meeting and worship is not usually posted for the unredeemed world to see. Your church may be different. I am just telling you what I know. My branch of weak faith posts our times and we keep to the posted times. We welcome all and allow (actually encourage) them to question everything we teach to see if it is in compliance with scripture. I guess we are just wrong.

Adam Roe said...

Sancho,

If I came across rude in my previous response to the sola scriptura post, please forgive me. I had a few heated exchanges yesterday regarding abortion, and I'm afraid my feelings may have bled over to how I responded to you. Again, please forgive me for my confrontational tone.

I'm wondering, was your membership within the Churches of Christ/independent Christian Church/Disciples of Christ background? I attended an Independent Christian Church for eight years before moving to the Lutheran Church...a move that precipitated my eventual recognition that the apostolic faith is truly found within Holy Orthodoxy.

If we are of a similar background, the differences in Holy Orthodoxy and restoration churches is that Orthodoxy has the witness of Christians from all ages. As an Orthodox Christian I can look at the Scriptures, the Church Fathers, etc...without seeing a conspiracy around every corner. Orthodoxy does not blanch at appeals to history or apostolic doctrine because we can conclusively demonstrate the continuity of our faith through our succession of bishops, through our shared communion with the Church Fathers, through the way The Church grew and spread. In short, we don't have to react against anything. We're simply living and practicing what has always been. There was never a time that the Orthodox communion did not exist, though we have referred to ourseles specifically as "Orthodox" only since the western bishop (The Pope) officially broke communion in 1054.

As for your critique of Orthodox views toward other bodies of believers. First, as Orthodox Christians our goal is not to demean the faith of others. There are many, many non-Orthodox Christians who walk by the light they've been given. For that we rejoice! Our point is only that the fullness of faith rests within Holy Orthodoxy because Orthodoxy alone maintains continuity with the first Church. To many people that seems to demean the practice of non-Orthodox Christians, but by claiming sole apostolic continuity we're not claiming we as individuals are so great and you're so bad. We're simply making what we believe to be a demonstrable statement of fact regarding the apostolic continuity of The Church.

As to Orthodox evangelistic efforts, much effort is being made within the United States to encourage outreach efforts that have in the past been lacking. It's a sad thing that the second largest body of Christian believers in the world has such small representation in North America. But things are changing. I note that every Orthodox believer who has commented on this blog so far is a Protestant convert, and ours is certainly not an isolated example. Despite what is currently lacking, I suspect that over the next 20-30 years there will, by the grace of God, be large strides made in this area.

Blessings to you, Sancho.

In Christ,
Adam

Athanasios Boeker said...

I would like to take a moment to make the point that everyone here on this blog is free to believe whatever they want to believe. I strongly believe in freedom of conscience, However, for the Orthodox it is a required belief to confess that the Orthodox Church is the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and that all those outside of visible membership in the Holy Orthodox Church are outside of Christ's Church, this is the teaching of the Orthodox Church. Anyone who would say otherwise is not Orthodox.

Athanasios

Ignatius said...

What I have noticed regarding some of the post is people believe that 'Worship' is relative. Does God care how we worship? Or is everything, make it up as you go along?

One week someone in a church will worship by banging on a tamberine while another week it is through watching Christian Rock videos on a power point screen? Is this worship or are we really seeking 'entertainment'? Do we go to church to feel comfortable or to have a good time? It may seem that some services today are self centered instead of what is centered on God.

There are churches today (though not all) who have cup holders built into the chair so someone can bring a drink. There are also plush stadium chairs so you can feel relaxed while you listen to the lecture of the pastor.

Did the Jews do this in the OT? Did Nehemiah think of these issues when rebuilding the temple? What about when David was commanded to build the temple? What about how the worship practices of Revelation in Chapters 5 and 8?

If worship is relative then going out on a Sunday and hugging a tree would be a valid worship style. Staying home on Sundays and watching a football game could be a worship style if it is up to an individual? I know someone who didn't go to church at all a couple of weeks ago and they told me this is 'worship'. This is the truth! They believed staying home reading their Bible was true worship.

When we make up our own rules then anything goes.

We don't go to church to hear a lecture or be entertained.

Ignatius said...

On thing I really am trying to emphasize is it seems why someone attends a particular denomination is "I like this about the Church", "I like the music", "I like the Pastor", "I enjoy the Sermons", "I like all of the members there". etc...

I don't think any Orthodox convert set out for a church that burns incense. Though, I do not speak for all. I don't think most converts looked for a church where you stood for almost two hours. I don't think most converts look for a church where one fasts almost (including every Wednesday and Friday) fasts for almost 50% of the year.

However, when we found the Historic Church we realized this was their practice and followed suit not because we did or did not enjoy them but because we were compelled.

Ignatius said...

I haven't noticed any comments from anyone regarding this issue so I will discuss. Maybe it will go further.

One reason most Orthodox converts realize the Orthodox Church is ran by the Holy Spirit is the unity.

Something many protestants in America cannot grasp is no matter where you go in the world and at any point in history their is unity in the Church.

If I went to Russia, China, or South America I would know exactly where they were in the Litrugy when worshipping.

If I travelled back in times 500 years I would know exactly where they were. I would be able to understand everything and what what everything meant.

But now look forward. Would the historic church know and understand the Protestant services?

Would they begin asking, where is the Priest who hears the confession,, where is the Eucharistic cup? Where are the icons? Where are the prayers to the saints? Why are we not praying for the departed?

They would be shown videos or giving three songs and a forty five minute sermon on two bible verses.

They would be ultimately lost.

All Orthodox Churches teach the same thing.

Their Doctrine of salvation, the trinity, the coming of Christ, the resurrection, and the Diety of Christ and the Holy SPirit.Also, abortion issues, etc..

Whereas one can go to a United Methodist Church today and the church and Pastor might be totally conservative but one block down the street the other United Methodist Church might beleive it is wrong to even mention the word abortion in a church and it may sound too judgmental.

Protestant denominations are in chaos. Even the ELCA is a completely different church than it was twenty years ago.

Not only do Orthodox confess the same thing but they have done so consistently for two thousand years. Even Rome cannot confess that.