:: Saturday, May 31, 2003 ::
:: Thursday, May 29, 2003 ::
One of my greater goals in life is to not embarrass myself. Especially in religious situations. I mean, I am not really too knowledgeable about the particulars of each of the three/four major religions (Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican/Roman Catholic), but I know enough about each of them to be comfortable in a service/Liturgy/Mass. So, I don’t like to embarrass myself. Yeah…
So, this evening, I went to Great Vespers, which is the Saturday evening service held at all Orthodox churches, no matter what their patriarchy. It usually starts around 5 or 6, and runs for an hour to two hours. I went to St. Seraphim’s (where I heard Church Slavonic for the first time; really cool!) Great Vespers, but that ended earlier than I needed to be back home. So, I went off to drive another way home (under the auspices of timing myself). On the way, it occurred to me that I was driving by a church that runs a bookstore, Not of This World, in Santa Rosa. I knew they would be having Vespers, so I stopped by. I didn’t know that their church is in a communal group, and that all 30 people know each other really well, and that a visitor would stick out like a sore thumb. I was that visitor, and yes, I was sticking out like a sore thumb. I felt kind of bad, because the man who was working at the bookstore (whom I guessed was a tonsured reader, and I was right) came to greet me. I had told him I was ‘an open minded pagan’ when he asked if I was Orthodox; that is a literal English translation of the word ‘catechumen.’ Anyway, he was kind of surprised that I when the priest came over, I asked for a blessing, and knew the gist of the service. So, anyway, the priest came over and I greeted him, and he asked all of the normal questions, including my saint’s name. I’m really over this whole “I’m not Orthodox” thing. Anyway, I had told my parents I’d be home before them, by 7:45. So, I had to leave early. Have you ever tried to sneak out of a church of 30, when everyone is staring at you already? Yeah, didn’t think so. So, I thought I had slyly gotten away without anyone noticing. I had walked the 300 feet to my car, actually had gotten in and put the keys in the ignition, when I heard someone. The priest, in vestments, was running/quickly walking after me. So, yeah, I was kind of embarrassed. OK, really embarrassed. Well, he just wanted to ask all the normal, nice priestly questions like, “Where are you from?” “Are you Orthodox?” (which we’d previously established as a negative, but he had to re-ask it just in case), “Would you like to come to Liturgy tomorrow?” &c. But, I thought I had gotten away, and there I was standing on the street, talking to someone wearing full elaborate Pascha vestments. Yup. I am not sure if I will go back there, just because I thought I may die.
Anyway, God bless you, and have a blessed Sunday. I know, technically I can’t say the pharase “God bless you” because it implies that I have some authority. I don’t, but I do really pray that God will bless those who read this, so I am not just being sappy. Then again, anyone who has the authority (priest, bishops, and higher) aren’t being sappy when they say this either. So, God bless.
Glory to God!
:: 11:12 PM on
Saturday, May 31, 2003
Confusion over re-baptism
:: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 ::
Confusion hits. So, when I asked Fr. Josiah about baptism and charismation, he said that if I joined the Orthodox Church, I would be re-baptized, since my heterodox baptism was not performed by a priest of Apostolic Tradition (or even a priest, for that matter), and that was necessary for a “real” baptism. So, I figured I would be rebaptised. But then I spoke with the priest up in Santa Rosa, Fr. Lawrence. He said that no, I would not be re-baptised upon entering the church, only charismated. So, I was confused. I went to the OCA (Orthodox Church of America) website (www.oca.org), and wrote to the question guy. The following is what I wrote:
As an inquirer into Orthodoxy, I very much enjoy reading this website; thank you. I have one question about baptism, specifically re-baptism. In the creed, you state: "I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sin;" I was raised as a Protestant, and was baptised "In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." I was recently informed by the priest of the church I attended (Antiochian Orthodox) that I must be baptised again by one of the Apostolic Tradition (specifically, an Orthodox priest.) When I asked the priest of an OCA church, he said I did not need to be re-baptised, but only charismated. Why this inconsistancy? Thank you for your time.
And (quite promptly, I might add), I received the following response:
Christ is risen!
Thank you for your enquiry.
Assuming that you had been baptized "in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit," and not with some other formula, and that you had been baptized with water, you would not be "re-baptized," since the baptism would be considered valid. Either the Antiochian priest did not comprehend the validity of your baptism, or he is acting unilaterally and at variance with the practice of his own diocese. Both the OCA and the Antiochian Archdiocese acknowledge that, assuming the heterodox Baptism was performed with the proper formula and with water, there is no need to "re-baptize." The Antiochian priest is obviously putting his personal opinion above the practice of his own archdiocese. Hope this helps.
Father John Matusiak, OCA Communications Department
OK, so now I am REALLY confused. Firstly, I don’t really like the tone of Fr. John as he responds; I think that is what bugs me most of all. Secondly, although he may irritate me with his anti-Western sentiment, I trust Fr. Josiah’s theology more than I trust most anyone elses. Although I have only had brief conversations with him, the way he answered my complex questions in simple and direct ways makes me think that his theology and practice is probably better than the priest who responded to this inquiry. So…I should write and ask Fr. Josiah explicitly, but I will rather email Bree and have her do it. Anyway, I hate confusion, especially in a church in which the incredible unity interests me. They seem to have the same views on most things; why is this different? I suspect it must be something I am not explaining explicitly enough to one of the two priests…Well, God bless you, and may His grace and peace remain with you always.
Glory to God!
:: 1:16 PM on
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Churches in the area
While out and about today, I got to stop by some of the other Orthodox churches in the county. I saw St. George, in Rohnert Park, and All Saints in Cotati, and Holy Dormition in Santa Rosa, and St. Olga’s in Santa Rosa.
At St George, it was all locked, and no one was there, so I couldn’t go in. At All Saints, which meets at an Episcopal Church, there was no one there from it, but I got the priests number to ask about service times and all. From his last name, I doubt he would speak English, and so it would be awkward for me to call him, but I may. At St Olga’s, they speak Church Slavonic. Sonoma County, and up to Fort Ross, was a Russian settlement at one time, and St Olga’s is a very Russian church. Absolutely no English in anything. They also had slightly different rules than other churches about blessed bread and participation in the service; I will go there at least once this summer, however.
Holy Dormition seemed like a community more than a church. It was a little off the path cluster of houses and buildings. I found one chapel looking thing, but it was really small and would only hold about 15 people. From their information, it looked as though they had many more than that, so I am wondering if there is another church I didn’t find on the grounds. It said private property, and I didn’t want to intrude more than I was. Anyway, it seemed ultra-conservative – women must wear skirts below the knee, and they still have two services each day, and use the Julian calendar (which puts odd things like Christmas on January 7th). OK, so truly, it seemed really cool. They are Bulgarian dioceses, which should be interesting. They start Sunday Matins at 9AM, and I will probably show up there sometime soon. They also have a coffee shop in Santa Rosa called “Not of this World.” I plan to go there sometime when I have a few minutes to spare; I hear on Friday nights it is a teen hangout.
Anyway, this post is too long as it is, so may God bless you and make His Face to shine upon you, and be gracious.
Glory to God!
:: 7:10 PM on
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
:: Monday, May 26, 2003 ::
Well, at least I am not as sick today.
I got to go to church this morning! Yeah! It was really exciting. I went for a Divine Liturgy, and it was because the church just got a new icon and relic of St. John of Russia. I read a big paper on him that Fr. Lawrence gave me. He seemed pretty cool. He was a confessor and slave in the 1700’s under the Mohammedans in Russia.
Anyway, after the Liturgy, Fr. Lawrence told me there was a Biola graduate working today in the scaffolding doing the fresco. I was intrigued, so I went in and met Fr. Moses, a very nice iconographer monk. He is what would happen if you mixed two parts hippie, one part priest, one part artist, and one very pious man in a blender. He is a good combination of all of the above, and seemed very nice. He was knowledgeable about his craft, and shared with me some of the things they do before they write ikons and frescos. The project was not going too well, since the plaster was wet when it was supposed to be dry, but that gave him time to talk. He knew a lot of the people I knew from the Orthodox community in Southern California, and that was cool. He seemed very non-priestly. I mean, his title was “Father,” but it seemed as though he had not conducted Liturgy in his life, and certainly wasn’t used to being a priest. I mean, he was a very nice person, but didn’t have the ambience of a priest; he was more of an artist. Well, I guess if we were all called to the same vocation, it would be boring. So, I have come to the conclusion that monks are odd men; firstly, they wear crocheted skull caps and black cassocks even when outside in hot May weather; then, they seem to be removed, but not in the same way as a priest; thirdly, they seem very pious in a way that is non-congregational. It seemed as though Fr. Moses (and maybe this is unfair; he was the youngest of the three monks there) could do fine with his own personal piety, but not lead others to do likewise (which is the duty of a priest). I guess this is what most distinguished him from others.
Glory to God!
:: 7:09 PM on [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 22, 2003 ::
Well, I got home on Saturday. After promising that we would go to Blessed Sacrament for Mass on Sunday, my parents decided not to. Oh well. It would have been really cool, but maybe next time.
I have a cold. I hope it is not a flu, but I am pretty sick otherwise. Not fun.
Yesterday, I went to St. Seraphim of Sarov, an OCA church in Santa Rosa. They are not Antiochian, like St. Andrew’s, but they are still Orthodox. Fr. Lawrence is not as – how do you say – “intense” as Fr. Josiah, but still seems to be a cool priest. I do have many complaints, though. I am rather shy, and it was my first time there. So, I get there for Matins, and stand in the biggest spot open, near the edge, but not too far over. Fr. Lawrence, who remembered me from Holy Week (priests must have good memories), came over and said hi. He was the only one. I seriously stood there for the whole service, went to the meal afterword, and hung around. No one so much as said anything. Now, one of my favorite things to do at my parents’ church was to greet people. It is so nice to go to a new church and have someone walk over and at least break the ice. Well, finally, Matushka came over and said hi. She was cool, and we talked for a while. Mostly I was just happy that I wasn’t the only one standing by myself. Also, since I was at an Orthodox church, everyone assumed I was Orthodox. While at St. Andrew’s church the question (said as one question, with no pause) is: “What’s your name; Are you Orthodox,” the question yesterday was, “What’s your name; No, I meant your saints name.” So, it was slightly irritating having to explain for the fortieth time that no I am not Orthodox, no I am not even a catechumen, yes I have been to an Orthodox church and know the liturgy (at least fairly well), yes I was raised Protestant…and other such questions. Even as far as preaching (which isn’t too important, overall), there was a lack…Fr. Michael is frail, and is hard to understand. But boy, no one seemed too happy to see a new face in service.
I also did a kind of stupid thing in looking for churches up here; I used the internet. I had forgotten that not all churches are on the internet, but at least all Orthodox churches will be in the phone book. I found an Antiochian church in Rohnert Park, which is pretty close to here, so I will probably go there next week or sometime this week, just to check it out.
Anyway, mostly I am bored, and trying to get along with my parents. My dad has been particularly ornery today, and since I am sick, it doesn’t help. I have spent around 6 hours getting my computer up today; it is back to pre-crash specs. I also have spent a good 2-3 hours unpacking: all of this while being sick. Anyway, I will call around to the various Orthodox churches in the county, and find them on a map, and see when they have Divine Liturgy and Vespers/Matins.
Hopefully I won’t have to start working until two weeks from now, so I will have a few days to move in. Of course, my dad scoffed at this idea, and called me lazy. But he and I don’t really get along. I knew this when I left, and I knew it when I came up here, but I had forgotten how bad it was. We are always at each other. But, my mom is here. She can calm us down, and no one really fights with her. Pray for peace and health here. Also, if you want me to pray for you, bubbs or email me. God bless.
Glory to God!
:: 7:09 PM on
Monday, May 26, 2003
A brief testimony of this year
This is probably my last post while I am down here in La Mirada. It is weird; I have changed so much in the last few months. When I came here, I was “barely” a Christian (if I can say such a thing). I had gotten into heresy (LDS), and had been in trouble at church for it. My struggle was with forgiveness, and accepting it. I was going to an LDS church and a Baptist church. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew there was something major missing from my religious life. Probably the best thing I did (also the hardest thing I have ever done ) was confiding in the right person who would help me. I went to one of my tutors, and explained stuff. Actually, I tried to defend the LDS position. It was the hardest, but best meeting I have ever walked into. I really would have left, in tears, but my legs didn’t work, and tears couldn’t come. So, I sat through it. I got yelled at. A lot. I actually got the threat of losing Torrey. It was so shocking that someone would yell at me, and would take me seriously, and tell me I was very, very wrong. After the meeting, the tutor (whose identity you have probably guessed by now) called someone on the phone, and told me I was going to go talk with her. The funny part was that he called her, then handed me the phone. I could barely talk, much less say anything. Anyway, I was actually escorted over to her office (or I wouldn’t have gone; I was that close to just walking away). I was told I was going to church with her the next Sunday. That was the first and only time I went to Blessed Sacrament against my will. Like a ton of bricks, sacramentalism hit me. It came at a time when I didn’t know where to go; I was sinking quickly, and had hit the bottom. I did not want to be there, but once there, I discovered church. Literally, it took one time of me going there. I can look back at the email I sent my parents describing it (BTW, my parents do NOT know my testimony, and I would like to keep it that way). Anyway, I started going there, falling more in love with High Church the more I studied it. It was not an easy fight against what I had spent 2 years doing, and the struggle is not over. But I am still falling in love with these things called sacraments.
Anyway, I went, but I was really shy of priests (still am, actually). But finally, I got the courage to call Fr. David, and ask him if I could speak to him. I am shocked at how it went. I am just a stupid freshman at a college 30 minutes away, and yet he found time to not only meet with me, but drive out here to meet with me. Anyway, I was so shy I wrote a letter, and handed it to him, rather than try to talk. The letter showed my personal struggles thinly veiled in an intellectual sounding way. The cool part was that, while Fr. David could clearly see that it was personal and not intellectual, he answered me in a way that keep it distant enough that I wasn’t too frightened. It was really neat; he didn’t judge me, yet listened to exactly what I said. Anyway, it was about forgiveness. I went to Confession a week or so later, and received the sacramental forgiveness and priestly advise I needed.
Now I am here. I love the sacraments and High Church. I really, really love it. I wanted to be an Anglican catechumen, but now I am not sure. Mostly, I want to be a sacramental Protestant, but then my belief system would be internally illogical, and I don’t like that. And Protestants don’t like sacramentalists. So, I will keep searching for exactly what I should do. I will keep posting about my ever-changing beliefs, although probably more like once a week (it is hard to get on-line where I live). Please, email or BUBBS me with your comments on this testimony . God bless you, and pray for me, a sinner. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Glory to God!
:: 12:39 PM on
Thursday, May 22, 2003
:: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 ::
Questions are irritating things. But they also evolve. As I learn more about Orthodoxy, my major questions are changing. They used to be more the style of things that I could find in a catechism, but now they are more educated (I hope). So, my main two questions are: “What is up with the thief on the cross?” and, “Why do we need a priest as a representative between us and God?” The question I will most likely have to answer from my brother (who asks questions like this) will be, “How much of the ‘Church’ ceremonies is necessary for church to occur?”
The first question is one I should have thought of long ago, but I didn’t. If you ask an Anabaptist (<= I use the term to refer to all Baptists; they all “re-baptize”) about baptism, he will tell you that it is only symbolic, and so not necessary for salvation by pointing to the thief on the cross. I think the Orthodox answer (and I am not sure) would be that the thief was an exception to the rule, and not the rule, because Christ said to baptize and take the Eucharist. So, it comes down to a discussion about the necessity of sacraments for salvation, and the good questions that stem from that.
The other question was something I heard Fr. Josiah mention last Saturday at a church tour. He said that when his back is to the people (most of the service), he is representing us before God, and when he faces the people, he is representing God to us. This is true in both Anglican and Orthodox traditions, and sounds very nice. But it fights against my Protestant instincts, saying that we don’t need a representative. Note the word is not mediator, which would fly in the face of Hebrews, but rather a representative. I don’t know; I don’t get it. Why do we need one? Why can’t I approach God myself? Does it tie back to the necessity of priests to administer the sacraments? More good questions here.
Finally, I know I will have to deal with the “How much ‘church’ for church” questions quite a bit if I spend any time at all with my Protestant friends (who, like me, go to a Protestant Bible College). I don’t really have a good answer, and it would be nice to have one.
Glory to God!
:: 12:22 PM on [+] ::
Prayer VIII, to our Lord Jesus Christ From the Russian Prayer Book
O my plenteously-merciful and all-merciful God, Lord Jesus Christ, through They great love Thou didst come down and become incarnate so that Thou mightest save all. And again, O Saviour, save me by Thy grace, I pray Thee. For if Thou shouldst save me for my works, this would not be grace or a gift, but rather a duty; yea, Thou Who art great in compassion and ineffable in mercy. For he that believeth in Me, Thou hast said, O my Christ, shall live and never see death. If, then, faith in Thee saveth the desperate, behold, I believe, save me, for Thou art my God and Creator. Let faith instead of works be imputed to me, O my God, for Thou wilt find no works which could justify me. But may my faith suffice instead of all works, may it answer for, may it acquit me, may it make me a partaker of Thine eternal glory. And let Satan not seize me and boast, O Word, that he hath torn me from Thy hand and fold. But whether I desire it or not, save me, O Christ my Saviour, forestall me quickly, quickly, for I perish. Thou art my God from my mother’s womb. Vouchsafe me, O lord, to love Thee now as fervently as I once loved sin itself, and also to work, for Thee without idleness, diligently, as I worked before for deceptive Satan. But supremely shall I work for Thee, my Lord and God, Jesus Christ, all the days of my life, now and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to God!
:: 11:51 PM on
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Movie: X-Men II
:: Sunday, May 18, 2003 ::
Wow. I just went and saw a movie. It was X-Men II. It wasn’t my first choice in movies, but some friends invited me at the last minute, and I had nothing better to do. I think I am really weird now. It was a gult of color, sound, flashy pictures. I have only seen two movies in the theatre this year, and the other one was Joshua (a small Christian movie I saw for CL credit). It was like an overload of sensations – I couldn’t process it all. Also, I saw so much symbolism; even in the previews, I was noting the use of the term “hero” being used to describe a man completely controlled by his wrath; Achilles is not a hero (“The Hulk” was the movie). I don’t know. I just feel weird having just watched it. I mean, it was a good movie, and there weren’t any objectionable scenes but for one poorly placed swear word. I guess that it was just too much. Also, there was this one guy, a blue teleporter named Wagner, who was the religious figure of the group. OK, at this point, I will admit I read far far too much ecclesiology, but I couldn’t help wanting to stop and analyze his character. He kept saying Hail Mary’s in German, and they showed four close-ups of his rosary (Roman Catholic), but it wasn’t quite right. I don’t think it had the Crucifix on the end – there were certainly some weird things about it. Another thing was that he had a devils tail, yet scars of angels for his sins…he lived in a decrepit church, which he clearly didn’t respect, but claimed that what was happening to him was “from Him,” pointing at a crucifix…he had candle wax drips all over him, assumedly to show his dedication in church, but where would one get dripped on except if one were under the candles? It seemed weird…OK, so I do read too much about church, but…
Anyway, movies are an overload of information. I don’t think I want to see one for a while, yet everyone says I should see Matrix II. Matrix I is my favorite movie, and I would like to see the sequel, but I hear it has a bad scene or two, and after tonight, I don’t know if I want to see a movie for a while. Don’t get me wrong; I had fun hanging with my friends, and enjoyed the content, but it was just SO MUCH!
Glory to God!
:: 11:44 PM on [+] ::
:: Thursday, May 15, 2003 ::
Sorry I did not post yesterday; very busy day. I was at St. Andrew’s all day, helping and attending their Greek Festival. For a Russian and Arabic Church, they throw a pretty nice Greek Festival. It was really fun. Mostly, it was good to work. At church back at home, I helped out with everything. I knew my way around, and everyone knew me, so I was always somewhere, doing something. I could see what needed to be done, and do it. Then I came down here, and I was starting from ground zero. I didn’t know people, and they didn’t know me, so I couldn’t do anything to help. But then yesterday, I just showed up, got introduced to a very nice bunch of elderly ladies, and started working. It was so nice not to be the guest, to be able to help, to be part of the community. I was more a part of the community when I was working than I have been in a long time. I have not felt that type of church community when I just attend mass/liturgy; it was only in working that I was really part of it. It was wonderful. I left here around 7:30AM, and got back at around 10:30PM, so I am tired, but happy. I also have my only final (Calculus) tomorrow, so…I should study, but it is Sunday, so I won’t…God bless you all.
Glory to God!
:: 6:57 PM on
Sunday, May 18, 2003
6 Questions, Revised
:: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 ::
Laptops are wonderful things. Here I am, in upper Sutherland, on the couch in the middle of the hall, 51 minutes before I am to meet my mentor for Don Rags, and I am typing about theology…it is a wonderful age in which we live.
Since speaking with Fr. Josiah the other day, I realized I may have wasted my precious few minutes of questions on poorly researched topics. This morning, I finished another catechism, and on Monday, I read “Becoming Orthodox.” This gives me at least a clue as to which questions I should ask. So, I have since revised the questions that I have, and narrowed them into 6 questions with many sub questions (not posted here). At the end is also my answer (honest and genuine, not a “church” answer) to the question about whom I will trust. I ask these specific ones, worded the exact way they are, because I have found seemingly conflicting answers in catechisms/articles/quotes. If you ever have time (or courage), ask a priest these questions, and see what he says.
1) What is the Orthodox view of “original sin?”
2) What is the Orthodox view of demons?
3) Is there any way of having a church without apostolic tradition?
4) How do we know tradition hasn’t been perverted?
5) What does, “I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins” mean?
6) Explain the following quote, “I will tell you one thing, however: should you, being Orthodox and possessing the Truth in its fullness, betray Orthodoxy, and enter a different faith, you will lose your soul forever.” Bl. Theophan the Recluse
"Is it the Bible in the possession of the individual (Protestantism)? Is it the chair of St. Peter (Rome)? Or is it the entire church in ecumenical council (Orthodoxy)?"
The Bible in the possession of an individual, with ambiguous parts interpreted by verifiably genuine tradition of the ecumenical councils and fathers, leads to salvation.
In other words, I am a Protestant who loves the sacraments/icons and liturgy of the church, and who is willing to place some reverence on the traditions, but still want to stay partially "Sola Scriptura."
There are many more good questions I could ask at this point, but I feel as though a through exploration of these and their ramifications would answer all of the major points, with the exception of prayers for the dead. I would try to lead into questions along this vein with the idea of the possible perversion of tradition. Anyway, God bless you. Glory to Thee, Oh Lord, Glory to Thee.
Glory to God!
:: 1:27 PM on
Thursday, May 15, 2003
:: Sunday, May 11, 2003 ::
Wow. There is less than a week of school. I have no more homework. To this end, I went to orthodoxinfo.com and copied down their book list for both Anglicans and Protestants looking into Orthodoxy. Then I went to our school library, and checked out the only three books I could find. Peter Gillquist’s “Becoming Orthodox,”, Alexander Schmemann’s “For the Life of the World,” and Thomas Howard’s “Evangelical is Not Enough.” I really wanted to find “Common Ground,” since Bree’s dad said it was really good, but it was not there. Anyway, because I have no homework, I spent about 6 hours starting and finishing Peter Gillquist’s “Becoming Orthodox” yesterday. It is really good. At some points, it was so poignant that I had to stop and remind myself that I was reading, not writing it. Some of the things he says are so true! It is both weird and encouraging to know that I am not the only person in the world looking for the New Testament Church…it is encouraging to hear that such a thing exists. I am not sure if it is the Orthodox Church vs. the Anglican Church, but there are many arguments.
Anyway, I still have a list of questions for a priest, although I doubt I will go ask Fr. Josiah. But I have another good 6 hours to read today. I started “Evangelical is Not Enough,” but it is kind of slow, so I may start that Alexander Schmemann one (I hear he is a really good author), but it is really thick and will take me a few days. I also really want to see if I can get Bishop Kallistos Ware’s books on Orthodoxy, but I can’t seem to find them in our library either (they have them, but they are checked out). Oh well. It is wonderful having extra reading time. I can get so much read, now that I am learning to read.
Glory to God!
:: 10:50 AM on
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Wow. I haven’t posted in the last two days, but I have done more writing on religion than ever before. OK, so I took Fr. Josiah’s challenge about the question of Protestantism, Catholicism, or Orthodoxy. I spent a few (too many) hours cataloguing my beliefs into a nice table. I reached a sad and disheartening conclusion. I am just a Protestant who has fallen in love with sacraments and liturgy. So, without explanation, this table seems a little extreme, but here are my general beliefs as of yesterday (they seem to be changing subtly each day, now). They are rated from “0” to “5.” The problem is that I hold many of these beliefs without much theological backing. Many of them are remnants of my up-brining; they were strong towers, but now they are really just hollow shells that appear strong with nothing behind them. They are ready to come down at any reasonable sounding argument, and very well may. On many things, I don’t have good reasons why I believe anything…so, convince me of what you will!
:: Friday, May 09, 2003 ::
Issue or idea:...........Essential (5)..........Great(4)...........Sure(3).....Nope(2).....Bad(1).....Heresy(0)
7 Sacraments .................................................................................................1
2 Sacraments ...................................................................3
Do I know their use?..........................................................................2
If you don’t have them.......................................................................................1
Worship of the Theotokos........................................................................................................0
Prayers to the Saints...........................................................................................1
Veneration of Ikons.....................................4
(Hail Mary/Jesus Prayer)
Prayers for the dead...............................................................................2
Salvation by faith......................................4
Salvation by works................................................................................2
Loss of salvation.............5
Salvation: Predestination ..................................................3
Sorry the table is weird, but blogger won't let me post normal looking tables, so this had to work. God bless.
Glory to God!
:: 7:35 PM on
Sunday, May 11, 2003
Questions I must answer
:: Thursday, May 08, 2003 ::
OK, so I still am not really sure about the whole religion thing. But anyway…I got the apologies written. And both people forgave me. Forgiveness is a really really cool thing. If you don’t believe me, well, you need to experience it. Go to Confession. Or forgive someone else. Yeah, it’s cool.
Anyway, Fr. Josiah wrote back and said something really profound. I think I will write about it over the next few days, as I have no more homework for any of my classes (Torrey paper is in, and this morning my math teacher announced no more homework!) So, I have lots of time for learning. Good deal. Anyway, although I do not know the necessary ramifications about this, I will post for you this question, and let you decide…
I suggest that you put your effort into determining what is the teaching authority on the earth. Is it the Bible in the possession of the individual (Protestantism)? Is it the chair of Peter (Rome)? Or is it the entire church in ecumenical council ?(Orthodoxy).
So, what do you think? I will soon know what I think (well, give me a week). Oh, and keep in mind it was asked by an Orthodox priest, just so you understand the view point. Well, enjoy the brain-food. If you have any good ideas, email me. I won’t bite. I will respond. God bless. Kyrie Eleison.
Glory to God!
:: 1:02 PM on
Friday, May 09, 2003
I hate religion!
:: Tuesday, May 06, 2003 ::
I hate religion. Well, I really don’t, but sometimes I feel like I do; I spoke with an Orthodox priest last night, Fr. Josiah, and now I don’t know what to think. It really bugs me because my passion is religion (if you haven’t already noticed!) In an hour, I heard someone whom I kind of respect (why?) tell me that the church which I love and the people whom I respect greatly are “Christians”, but not really . I mean, if you ask a good Evangelical Protestant pastor the question, “Do Muslims go to heaven?” and he knew you were a Muslim, he would give the answer, “We don’t know. Only God knows that, and He will sort it out in the end,” or something to that effect. Essentially it is a “yes,” with the intent not to offend. Well, that is what I got about “non-Orthodox” Christians. I got the idea that they think they are the only ones in Christendom who are going to heaven, and a few Roman Catholic besides. Why not anyone else? Because you need priests to baptize, administer the Eucharist, and other things. So baptisms by people other than priests are not valid, although the Orthodox church claims creedally: “We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.” It seems hypocritical, and exclusive. It seems as though he wants to cut the rest of the Christian community off from the Orthodox. I agree, each religion should believe that it is correct, but I think in this world of “relative” truth, where the church is so badly schismed, that there must be more than one “saved” group of people.
I hate writing like this. I sound like the relativists I so loathe. But what else am I supposed to say? I think he cut a good part of Christendom out of Christendom, including people whose faith and piety I greatly respect. I cannot do that. I think the Bible at one point or another should be enough for someone to be saved. Some verses, like John 17:3, are explicit in their content; “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” So, know God and know Christ. I didn’t read about 7 sacraments, the apostolic authority of some church, priests, religion. But, then you ask, How do I know God? Well, read the Bible. I don’t think He made it impossible (or that would be evil, and God is not that). I know Bree because I dialogue with her. In the same way, I could know God through dialogue with Him. I mean, I don’t know about religion in general.
Until last night, I justified to myself my own religion by saying it was a “fuller” Christian life than without religion. I really believed that to be true, and so was able to stand by the Church and what it believed. Now I do not know. I mean, after listening to Fr. Josiah last night, it is as though it is not only a “fuller” Christian life, but the only Christian life. I, he, and most other conservative religionists would cut out certain heretical groups from the umbrella of Christendom, including perhaps the ECA as a whole. But I still don’t think that ALL groups are bad; I think there is ambiguity in the Bible, and that as such there must be diversity in the Christian faith. It is what I have always been taught.
I don’t know why I am attributing so much clout to what Fr. Josiah said last night, but I am. Why am I letting it bug me so much? Well, because I was the one who went there, asking questions, and he answered them as a priest should: from his own religion’s perspective. I went because I think there is something right about their religion; maybe it is even the exclusivity itself that so draws and simultaneously repels me. I still think there is something right, but I think the ball is back in my court. I think I need to decide what I believe before I make anymore moves.
So now on top of studying for a math test, practicing for music jury, and finishing a Torrey notebook, I have to write a creedo. And an apology to Fr. Josiah. And to Bree for that matter. Looks like I have some work to do. God bless. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!
Glory to God!
:: 10:52 AM on
Thursday, May 08, 2003
So, I go to a Christian University, Biola, where we have “mandatory” chapel three times a week. Actually, we just have to go 30 times a semester. I like to go 5 times a week at the beginning of the term, then not as much as I get busy later on, but that is beside the point. Bree, one of my friends, was suggesting that we should get together once a month and have an alternate chapel in the evenings based on the “traditions of the ancient church.” In fact, this is code so that we could have a High Church vespers service on campus. It would be great; I can already think of 15 or so people who would go. It would be as “ecumenical” as the normal chapel, in that it would include elements of Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and High Lutheran in the service (are there any “high” churches I forgot?). It would be really fun to have, and convenient to have chapel in the evenings rather than always in the mornings. Anyway, I said that I would support her if she could organize it. Another problem would be that we would want to take the Eucharist, and that would require a priest, and could be hard with the ecumenism thing, since none of us can take the others consecrated elements. But even if we didn’t have the Eucharist, to have liturgy, vestments, candles, incense, and the other elements of church which we so love right here on campus would be wonderful. I really think it would be good to do, but just hard. I don’t know, I may consider helping in the process…Well, God bless all who read this. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners.
Glory to God!
:: 7:05 PM on
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Questions for a priest
:: Monday, May 05, 2003 ::
Although me actually asking a priest (or someone else who knows) any of these questions is slim, these are the good questions I have which I would ask if I could. I post them here hoping for a response from someone who knows…if you have any good answers, please email me! I’d love to know. Note that these are written in the form which I would ask them to an Orthodox priest; no offense to any others.
“How does one go about changing his beliefs? I think that the Orthodox Church has many good things to offer, and that there is more “truth” there than in many of the Protestant churches, especially with the sacramental view of the Christian life. But how necessary is it that I agree on the small doctrinal issues? What are “small” doctrinal issues? How does one go from a Protestant background to Orthodoxy?
The commonly heard answer to this dilemma of changing beliefs is to rely on the Holy Ghost to lead to all truth. But this has gotten the church nowhere over the years. I see these schismed churches, each led by men who are significantly more studied and closer to God than I will ever be. I cannot in good faith trust myself to choose between these good, holy men, since each claims that he is right and is following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Too many people much more studied and holy than me have tried and failed; I do not doubt the power of the Holy Ghost (OK, maybe I am, but it is not meant in an offensive way), but how can this “absolute” truth be so different?”
I have other questions, but these are the main ones about faith/belief, and how one changes it. Later on, I will post more about the implementation of a changed belief, and its impact on one’s life, assuming one is not an incontinent man. God bless. Oh, and please pray for one of my friends. No details, but she really needs prayer right now.
Glory to God!
:: 12:22 PM on [+] ::
:: Friday, May 02, 2003 ::
When my computer crashed, my dad sent me a zip drive and an old zip disk from our house. I am sure that he though it was blank, but in fact it was not. It was the backup of all of my “My Documents” folder from 7th-9th grades. I popped it in the drive to test it today, and took a little trip down memory lane.
It is really scary. I have changed in many ways, but in many ways I haven’t. I am still drawing the same pictures in Paint Shop. I am still writing in the same lilty, free, conversational style. I was shocked at my dedication to God. It was really, really surprising. I know I wrote journal-like entries, and saved them, but they were not on the disk; rather, lists of songs and poetry were there. I won’t put any of the poems here, mostly because they sound like the Jr. High poetry they are, but still, they were fascinating.
I have not changed in zeal to God. I remember back when I was in kindergarten, that I said I wanted to be a missionary for God. Then, in 8th grade, I still had the same desire, although in between I had run the gammet of career choices. Now I am in college, and although I don’t necessarily want to be a foreign missionary, my zeal for God is still there. It is absolutely amazing to me that this is true. Really. God is so faithful; often times I seem to forget that God is faithful. Reading over my poems and writings and such reminded me that God has not changed, and I still love Him in much the same way as I did then. Yes, my faith was not as mature, and I did not understand nearly as much as I now do, but that did not matter. My God is still my God. Wow.
As I say this, I am inclined to describe in part why this is so astounding to me. I had a few rough years in high school, and really doubted my faith. Really really. So, being able to go back and read that God was good in Jr. High was very helpful. It is great to know that He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, both now and forever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to God!
:: 11:44 PM on
Monday, May 05, 2003
Catechism and Questions
I have been reading a catechism of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is really interesting, and well written, so that it is not too dry and boring. It is not in the standard for of question/answer either. It is called “Introducing The Orthodox Church: Its Faith and Life” by Fr. Anthony M. Coniaris. The only problem I am running into is that it seems to contradict some of the stuff I have been reading online from other reputable Orthodox sources…confusion sets in.
Another difficulty I face is the question of changing beliefs. Is one really responsible for what he believes on a deep level? I mean, could I ever talk you out of gravity? You know it; you have experienced it, and you believe it. Therefore, how responsible are you for that belief? It is something that has been proven so many times, you are in fact called crazy if you do not believe it. Lets make it a little harder. Some of the Orthodox (not all) literature I have been reading says that Tradition is held at the same level as the Bible. This is hard for me to deal with; they say that Mary was a perpetual virgin, since Joseph was well into his 60’s when he married her. See, my problem is that the Bible doesn’t say that anywhere. It is Tradition that they are believing here. I don’t know how to change my beliefs about it; I don’t even know if I want to change my beliefs about it. Can one just wake up one morning, and by a force of will, not believe in gravity? Isn’t that insanity? So, how do I change a deep-seated belief? The best explanation I have come up with is that I should look at what makes sense in the Orthodox, and compare it to what doesn’t make sense in my own church background; then I will do the reverse. I am really not sure about too much in the deeper theological arena at this point…it is very confusing.
Well, anyway, the catechism helps, and Bree keeps trying to convince me to email a priest (hers, mine, whoever) and ask him some of my questions…I would, if I had the courage. The funny part is my questions are so religiously generic at this point that I could ask Fr. David, and he could answer as well as anyone…again though, courage is lacking when I deal with priests…
So, God bless, and remember, only 2 more weeks of school. You can do it!
Glory to God!
:: 10:04 AM on
Friday, May 02, 2003