How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

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How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Sun Jun 29, 2014 1:14 pm

Hello,
I wanted to know if you can tell me how close the theology and rituals
of the Eastern Orthodox Church is to the historical church in the first centuries and biblical times?
Thank you and God bless you
Shalom and Love
Dani
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby NightRevan » Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:49 am

You might find the information and discussion contained in this thread of interest in finding out more on Eastern Orthodoxy:

viewtopic.php?f=54&t=5498

There area a few more things to bear in mind with Eastern Orthodoxy, terms and ideas can be understood differently, also there are different approaches in Eastern practice and worship to Western, to quote a section from Andrew Louth's book Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology which I quoted in that thread:

Rather, it's distinctiveness is to be found in the way in which the traditional faith of Christians is upheld among the Orthodox. For Orthodoxy sees its faith as expressed, and tested, in prayer and worship.

Many Christians would assent to that, but there have been influential movements within Western Christianity that have sought to express Christianity in some comprehensive philosophy - the scholasticism of the Western Middle Ages is a striking example - or make some particular doctrine the article by which the Church stands or falls - as Luther did with the doctrine of justification by faith. In reaction against that, in the West, other movements have sought to reduce Christianity to a non-dogmatic devotionalism - implicitly in certain strands of Western medieval mysticism, or explicitly in pietism. But for Eastern Orthodoxy it is in prayer and worship of God that our faith is defined and refined: a God who created this world and loves it, whose love is expressed in identifying himself with his creation, and especially the human creation, made in his image, through the Incarnation and the cross, a love that is manifested in its transfiguring power through the resurrection. The centrality of prayer and worship prevents us from narrowing down our faith to some human construction, however magnificent.

If there is any reason why Eastern Orthodoxy has found this way of confessing the Faith, it could be because of the way Eastern Orthodoxy has led through persecution and martyrdom: in every century there have been Christians of the Orthodox communion who have faced persecution - throughout the whole Christian world in the first centuries, and then while living under Islam, and in the last century atheist communism. In all these centuries it has been faithfulness to prayer and worship of the Church that has enabled the Church to survive. Often it was only in gathering together for prayer and worship that Orthodox Christians were able to express their faith, and frequently such gathering together was subject to harassment - a harassment sometimes as severe as any persecution. And they found that that was enough, that faithfulness in prayer and worship, in celebrating the divine liturgy, in belonging to the saints of all ages and joining our prayers with theirs, and then living out, as fully as they could, lives formed by that worship: all this proved to be in truth the touchstone of their faith. The experience of martyrdom and persecution has been the crucible in which Orthodox Christians have found their faith refined.'
Louth, A. 'Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology,' (on my mobile (cellphone) kindle app 6% location 214-232 - it feels wrong to cite without page numbers lol, I feel a negative mark coming ;) ).

This is a good link for giving an understanding (at least the latter section of the article) of the Orthodox understanding of Tradition (though I think with some points on Papias the author could do with reading John Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, that would end up I think strengthen his position, but it would differentiate the point slightly). The article is written strongly from an Eastern Orthodox specipective, and in relation to Protestant tradition of sola Scriptura, which whether someone agrees or not I think will give a starting insight into the concept of apostolic Tradition, useful for reading other things from the Orthodox tradition.

http://orthodoxbridge.com/contra-sola-s ... rt-2-of-4/

This video by John Behr can also be useful in some concepts of the general ground and initial hypothesis or grounding understanding in Orthodoxy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy-gCEWh5-4

None of this is comprehensive, and perhaps the thread I began and give you more insights, the Orthodox Church does regard itself as founded and keeping the deposit of the apostolic faith, and that this has been keep and guided through the Holy Spirit, which is their understand of Jesus promise in John and some of Paul's promises, and expressed in worship in the liturgy, the Scriptures, the Fathers and in the bishops and in the conciliar agreements most clearly represented in the 7 Ecumenical Councils. That might give a start, getting a book like Louth's Introducing Eastern Orthodox Theology or reading the Divine Liturgies of St John Chrysostom and St Basil the Great can also help, but it can be a difficult question to answer without being partisan over whether the Orthodox or another Church reflects the true inheritance of the early Church, the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with Orthodoxy and take your understanding from there.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby akimel » Mon Jun 30, 2014 2:16 pm

Dani, your question, as formulated, is more difficult to answer than you imagine. From an EO perspective, the Orthodox Church simply is the Church instituted by the Apostles. The faith she professes is the faith of the Apostles. The eucharistic liturgy she celebrates is the Eucharist of the Apostles.

This does not mean that there have not been changes in the way that the Church has proclaimed the faith (the first century Church, for example, did not confess that Jesus Christ is of one substance with the Father--that's a later dogmatic development), nor did the apostolic Church celebrate the Byzantine rite in all of its particulars (yes, there have been liturgical developments over the centuries); but it is true that the Eastern Orthodox Church is exceptionally conservative, which means that the liturgy celebrated at your local Orthodox Church is infinitely closer to the liturgy celebrated by, say, fifth century Eastern Christians than anything you will encounter today outside the Orthodox Church. The prayer and praise service that you find in evangelical churches today is a modern invention. Sadly, the modern Roman Rite has abandoned its patristic roots.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Tue Jul 01, 2014 2:47 am

akimel wrote:but it is true that the Eastern Orthodox Church is exceptionally conservative, which means that the liturgy celebrated at your local Orthodox Church is infinitely closer to the liturgy celebrated by, say, fifth century Eastern Christians than anything you will encounter today outside the Orthodox Church.

But what happend to the other 4 centuries?
Why did the change happen from 1st century Christianity?
And can we today get a realisic understanding of the way 1st century Christians celebrated their faith?
Would it not be better to do it like them?
Blessings, Shalom and Love
Dani
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby URPilgrim » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:48 am

IMHO there is no Institutional church that is even close to the first century church in the way they operate. May I suggest reading Frank Viola's book 'Pagan Christianity' . The simplicity of the first century church is very difficult to find and almost all IC are based on manmade traditions that you will not find in the Scriptures.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby akimel » Fri Jul 04, 2014 6:11 am

Dani wrote:But what happend to the other 4 centuries?


They came and went. :)

Why did the change happen from 1st century Christianity?


"To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often" (John Henry Newman).

And can we today get a realistic understanding of the way 1st century Christians celebrated their faith?


We forget how limited the historical evidence for the life of the first century churches really is. All we have are snippets. Of course, that doesn't stop folks, both academics and nonacademics, from writing volumes and volumes on the topic, as if they really knew what they were talking about. There's a reason why church historians have referred to the first century as the "tunnel period." Hence even if we wanted to imitate the first century church, we can't, because we don't know a great deal about how first century Christians structured their ecclesial communities or how they preached the gospel or how they catechized or how they ... [take your pick].

Would it not be better to do it like them?

I'm sure there are many ways in which we might want to imitate first-century Christians, just as there are many ways in which we might want to imitate fourth-century Christians and 13th century Christians and so on. Most certainly we should wish to be faithful to the apostolic deposit of faith. But what does faithfulness mean here? I live in the 21st century. I'm not interested in wearing first century clothing or restricting myself to first century technology. To do so would be a form of unfaithfulness to both myself and to the gospel. Living within the Holy Tradition is something more than imitation. We must think, proclaim, and live the gospel in the conditions of the era and culture in which we live. This is a huge challenge. There is no returning to a golden age that never existed.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:17 pm

How important is tradition to be faithful to Jesus?
Always decide in favor of love!
If you have decided once and for all to do so,
you are going to conquer the whole world.
Serving love is a tremendous power.
She is the greatest power
and there is none like her. - Dostojewski
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby akimel » Sat Jul 05, 2014 12:19 pm

Dani wrote:How important is tradition to be faithful to Jesus?


It's all about faithfulness to Jesus--to the living Jesus.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:35 pm

In a word, they are identical.

What we know about the liturgy of the early Church (up to, say, A. D. 165) is in conformity with the liturgy you find in an Eastern Orthodox Church today. The basic liturgical structure is the same.

The earliest Christians worshipping in the catacombs had icons, even as today's Orthodox Church has icons.

The early Christians worshipped the Trinity, believed that God the Son is incarnate, and experienced deification through participation in the uncreated Energies of the Trinity--all like the Orthodox Church today.

The earliest Christians baptized babies, celebrated the Eucharist every Sunday, and gave Holy Communion even to little infants--all just like the Orthodox Church today.

The earliest Christians recognized that each of their liturgies was a participation in the Heavenly Liturgy with the saints in Heaven, even as recognized today.

Etc.

Nothing of substance has been changed. Only terminology has been developed. Why? Because heretics periodically come and attack the Church. In defending and rightly defining the Faith of Peter, the Church has unavoidably made use of terms that were never uttered by the Apostles. The word "Trinity" is one such example. This is necessary because the heretics pervert the very writings of the Apostles. Thus, quoting Scriptures to the heretics is ineffective because they understand the Apostles' words wrongly. To distinguish heresy from Orthodoxy, the Church has to use non-Biblical terminology.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Paidion » Sun Jul 27, 2014 6:08 pm

As I see it, the EOC is similar to the early church in much of its theology.

As for liturgy, I don't find any in the second-century church.

In the second century disciples of Christ gathered in the name of Jesus alone, and there was a body ministry. That is, even disciple who gathered with them ministered to the others in terms of singing, prophesying, giving a short discourse, etc. There were overseers and deacons, but these did not take upon themselves the lion's share of the ministry. The function of the overseers was precisely what the name implies, and the deacons were servants, or more accurately servers, of the church.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Sun Jul 27, 2014 7:49 pm

An afternoon reading the seven epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch would be time well spent. He was:

1. the second bishop of Antioch
2. martyred in Rome circa A. D. 110
3. a disciple of St. John the Apostle

:shock:

Seriously, if this guy doesn't know what he's talking about, who does?

We have seven of his epistles that he wrote at the end of his life on his way to Rome to be martyred:

Epistle to the Ephesians
Epistle to the Magnesians
Epistle to the Trallians
Epistle to the Romans
Epistle to the Philadelphians
Epistle to the Smyrnaeans
Epistle to Polycarp (bishop of Smyrna and also a disciple of St. John the Apostle)

Each of these epistles is short, and the collection can be read in an afternoon. They were one of the things that first got my attention regarding Orthodoxy. I read them and thought, "This doesn't feel like Protestantism. Nor does it feel like Roman Catholicism, though that's a bit closer." Shortly thereafter I became acquainted with Orthodoxy and thought, "Aha! These feel Orthodox."

A good volume (which includes the above seven epistles) to study is this book:
http://www.amazon.com/Apostolic-Fathers ... ic+fathers

It is basically a collection of all the Christian writings we have (outside of the New Testament) that were written in the 1st century or in the first half of the 2nd century. These are THE primary sources for a study of second-generation Christianity (i. e., the generation of Christians after the Apostles). It also has the original Greek texts on facing pages, so one can easily check the translations.

I should also mention that the Shepherd of Hermas (included), which was written sometime between A. D. 85 and 150, is one of the most intriguing Christian writings I've ever read from any century.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Jul 28, 2014 4:56 am

I think what Paidion was saying was that the (surviving) writings from the early first couple of centuries don't give us liturgy; the liturgy on the other hand is sometimes drawn from them.

On the other hand, Ignatius comes from the 2nd century and certainly has a high regard for overseers/shepherds/bishops/episkipoi.


Dani, Geoffrey and Father Kimel are both correct that the Eastern Orthodox practices and beliefs go back a long way, with roots in the 2nd and even 1st centuries (since they do respect and transmit the "faithful deposit").

Another somewhat different primitive option would be Messianic Jewish Christianity, which works hard to pattern on synagogue worship forms. (The EOx and RCs do, too, in their own way(s) -- which explains a lot of what we Protestants tend to complain about as "accretions" -- but the various "Catholic" forms look a little too different now, so they're hard to recognize. Part of that is due to reaching out more to Gentiles where they were at.)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Mon Jul 28, 2014 5:37 am

JasonPratt wrote:I think what Paidion was saying was that the (surviving) writings from the early first couple of centuries don't give us liturgy; the liturgy on the other hand is sometimes drawn from them.


I'm not sure if I was misunderstood, so let me explain. :) My post about Ignatius and his contemporaries was not meant as a response to Paidion's post about liturgy. Rather, my post was directed to Dani's OP.

As regards to liturgy, probably the earliest texts we have are from St. Justin Martyr (slain in 165), the Didache (written between 60 and 125), and St. John's Apocalypse (1st century). The glimpses (and only glimpses, alas) of the early Church's worship are consonant with the liturgies of Orthodoxy.

Another consideration is the liturgical form of worship of the pre-Christian Jews. It would be odd to assume that the early Church, with its Jewish Apostles and Jewish core of members, abandoned a liturgical form of worship, only to resume liturgy a century or two later.

One more thought: A old Southern Baptist minister friend of mine once told me that the Southern Baptists have a liturgy (though I don't believe he used that word) no different in principle from that of Roman Catholics. He basically said something like this: "Just look at how we conduct our Sunday worship: We start with a hymn, then we have a prayer, then we have several hymns led by the music leader, then another prayer, then a Scripture reading, then a sermon, then an altar call, and finally a hymn. Just watch what would happen if I were to alter that! I'd get admonished from many members for changing things up. I one time tried moving a hymn, and you can believe that plenty of people told me about their problems with that!"

The point is that it is difficult to NOT have a liturgy. I would submit that my old Southern Baptist church (just described) in fact had a set liturgy that we followed each and every Sunday. It was NOT free-form worship. Things were done in a certain way, in a certain order, and not otherwise.

I think it practically unavoidable that the Apostles also conducted worship in a certain way, in a certain order, and not otherwise. We Orthodox believe that our liturgies today follow the basics of how the Apostles worshipped. We believe our services are Apostolic in the sense of A) being based on the practices of the Apostles and B) being part of the Apostles' own Heavenly worship in Heaven. :)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Jul 28, 2014 2:13 pm

Geoffrey wrote:
JasonPratt wrote:I think what Paidion was saying was that the (surviving) writings from the early first couple of centuries don't give us liturgy; the liturgy on the other hand is sometimes drawn from them.


I'm not sure if I was misunderstood, so let me explain. :) My post about Ignatius and his contemporaries was not meant as a response to Paidion's post about liturgy. Rather, my post was directed to Dani's OP.


And I didn't mean liturgical forms developed later, just that we don't have examples of them (except in arguable snippets) surviving in the first couple of centuries. If it comes to snippets after all, there are some in the New Testament canon scattered around -- maybe, we think. (Quite a few kergymatic hymns referenced in Paul's letters, according to some prevalent source theories, for example. Which I happen to agree with.)

But yes, liturgical forms of some kind date back super-far, and the older Catholic groups have more call than anyone (even the Messianic Jewish movement, which uses more restricted versions) to be preserving the oldest forms even along with developments over time. And we agree the forms tend to go back to synagogal worship.

There are of course equally ancient Christian groups, though much smaller, whom Dani might be in more contact with, like the Church of the East -- their services will have some differences but again pretty similar in the core. (This is aside from the legitimate question of proper legitimate hierarchical sanction for worship practices and content.)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Tue Jul 29, 2014 12:10 pm

1) The 1st and 2nd century Christians baptized babys? What source do we have for that?
And that little children took part at the Lord's Supper?
2) Did there not happen a change under Emperor Constantine?
3) Did the 1st and 2nd century Christian honor Mother Mary and the Saints as the EOC does today?
4) The icons made today are they like the ones we find from the earliest centuries?
5) Is it important that we have a certain way in how we worship God?
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby JasonPratt » Tue Jul 29, 2014 4:58 pm

1a.) Not sure when baptism of babies started; I'll have to defer to other students on that.

1b.) I've never heard of any children simply taking Mass / Lord's Supper per se, though, no matter how old the Christian group is. Not without a clear profession and confirmation of faith -- my seven-year-old niece was baptized a few Sundays ago and so can take the Lord's Supper now, for example, but she had made a profession of faith at 5 and we held off to make sure she knew what she was doing. The old Catholic groups (up to and including the Anglicans), so far as I've ever understood, are far more regimented than that about when and under what conditions children are confirmed and so officially permitted to partake in the Mass. Maybe this is a local thing where you are?

2.) Constantine didn't change much. Constantine per se didn't make many changes at all, though he acted as executor for the college of bishops. He introduced some trivial things like changing and regulating the holidays, notably Christmas. (The evidence from the time is that Christians before then celebrated it in the autumn around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, but we don't have a lot of evidence when exactly Christians celebrated it.) He found ways to integrate the church hierarchy into the officially civil cultic life, which tended to involve helping ease people into accepting the newly legalized religion by assigning parallel titles they were already familiar with (like "pontifex maximus", greatest bridge builder).

Becoming a legally protected religion with preferential treatment at Imperial levels tended to change the tone of Christianity, but again for most of the 4th century the Arians were in the driver's seat. I'm not blaming them for what happened either, but they show that the 4th century mostly wasn't when a particular kind of Christianity latched permanently into an Imperial form. (Otherwise the Arians would have never been able to overtake orthodoxy at the Imperial level, and orthodoxy would never have been able to re-overtake Arianism and neo-Arianism at the Imperial level.)

3.) I do think Marian honors picked up substantially in the 2nd century -- not sure about the 1st in the extra-canonical docs. Obviously there isn't much of that sort of thing in the canonical texts, but there are hints of it in RevJohn and in the technical language used by the angel at the Annunciation in GosLuke. The term "God-bearer" goes back a long way, too. Praying religiously to Mary and the Saints seems to start rather later; there's nothing about that in the canon, and I don't think anything about that for a few centuries afterward. A lot of it comes from the expectation that the servants chosen by God continue helping even more after death, which is a respectably cooperative belief (even if I don't agree at all with the religious venerations that were developed along the way.)

4.) Icon-making has progressed as an art form. I'm sort of doubtful they existed in more primitive forms -- I know Christian art existed, but I haven't seen evidence they were treated as icons are religiously treated. But I wouldn't be upset to learn otherwise. :)

5.) On one hand, so long as we're worshiping in spirit and in truth, I'm not sure God cares overmuch about the details. On the other hand, God seems to care a lot about some details in the scriptures, even if not to the degree of detail found in advanced liturgicals. And if worshiping in spirit and in truth is important (which it is), then details which help a person do that would be proportionately important, even though not strictly necessary. Liturgy helps get across fine points of doctrinal truth (or what is believed to be doctrinal truth anyway) to people who don't have the time, opportunity, and/or talent to work on the theological math for themselves. That's true about icon usage, too. I may protest about iconic veneration, but I appreciate the basic concept. :)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:25 pm

JasonPratt wrote:1b.) I've never heard of any children simply taking Mass / Lord's Supper per se, though, no matter how old the Christian group is. Not without a clear profession and confirmation of faith -- my seven-year-old niece was baptized a few Sundays ago and so can take the Lord's Supper now, for example, but she had made a profession of faith at 5 and we held off to make sure she knew what she was doing. The old Catholic groups (up to and including the Anglicans), so far as I've ever understood, are far more regimented than that about when and under what conditions children are confirmed and so officially permitted to partake in the Mass. Maybe this is a local thing where you are?


Paedocommunion (i. e., the giving of communion even to infants) has always and everywhere been practiced by the Orthodox Church. This Wikipedia article is pretty good: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paedocommunion

Sorry that I don't have time for more right now. Bedtime!
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby JasonPratt » Wed Jul 30, 2014 5:55 am

Oh. Huh. Literally the first time I've ever heard of it. Doubtless this comes of being too hyper-Protestant (i.e. Baptist :lol: ), since a lot of post-Catholic congregations not only allow but encourage it (though the RCs themselves are currently spotty on it and strongly rejected it in the past). Cyprian in the 3rd century seems the earliest surviving testimony to it, but he wasn't innovating it so the practice must precede him substantially at the very least.

Thanks for the link, Geoffrey!
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:13 am

Thank you Jason for your detailed answer.
I do know that children are baptised and take the Lord's Supper even in evangelical churches like your niece.
I actually wanted to know when it started with the unconscious baby baptism.
Do we find any hints in the Scripture for it?
Matthew 19:14
New Century Version (NCV)
14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them,
because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children.”

Is this passage for instance not a little bit to farfetched?

Luke 11:27-28 New Century Version (NCV)
27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out to Jesus,
“Blessed is the mother who gave birth to you and nursed you.”
28 But Jesus said, “No, blessed are those who hear the teaching of God and obey it.

What is the response of the EOC to that kind of verses?
Dosen't that sound like Jesus oposing Marian honors?

A very great help for me was an EO explenation of hell:
God is the source of a fire for the faithfull it is a blessing for the unfaithfull it causes pain (in my words).
Even if the EOC is very close to universal reconciliation why did the EOC oppose it by agreeing with the Council of Constantinople II?

How do I know if I worship God in Spirit and Truth?



I do not want to criticise. I just want to understand :) .
Thank you all for your help.
Shalom and Love
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Paidion » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:14 am

It is questionable whether ANY of the letters ascribed to Ignatius are genuine. There are 15 Ignatian letters althogether, and 8 of them are known to be spurious. Even the 7 which MAY be genuine are heavily interpolated, for particular parts, especially those in connection with the "bishop" of each church. Such statements, found in the letters, are not characteristic of the age in which Ignatius lived. There are also two different recensions of these 7 letters, a longer one and a shorter one. It is certain that not BOTH can be the genuine writings of Ignatius. In my opinion, all 15 are forgeries, though I cannot prove it.

Those who wish to know more about the letters of Ignatius may want to look at the sites below:

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/hcc2.v.xv.vii.html

http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Wed Jul 30, 2014 12:28 pm

Hello Paidion,
what do ou know about the Didache?
It is a very interesting writting.
Is there historical evidence that it is written during the first 2 centuries?
Thank you very much.
Love
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Paidion » Wed Jul 30, 2014 8:15 pm

A very early book. Probably the late first century or the early second. The word "didache" means "teaching" or "instruction".

It's a fascinating book. The injunctions seem to be in accord with the teachings of Christ and the apostles.
I think it is the first early Christian writing I ever read. It seems to give very precise instructions in Christian living.

I have been fascinated with the prayer of thanksgiving for the eucharistic bread:

" Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom."

This is a prayer for the coming together of the Body of Christ into the unity for which Christ prayed.

I am also deeply impressed with the test for an apostle or prophet who may visit your home:

Whosoever, therefore, comes and teaches you all these things that have been said before, receive him. But if the teacher himself turns and teaches another doctrine to the destruction of this, hear him not. But if he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. But concerning the apostles and prophets, act according to the decree of the Gospel. Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he shall not remain more than one day; or two days, if there's a need. But if he remains three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread until he lodges. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. And every prophet who speaks in the Spirit you shall neither try nor judge; for every sin shall be forgiven, but this sin shall not be forgiven. But not every one who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; but only if he holds the ways of the Lord. Therefore from their ways shall the false prophet and the prophet be known. And every prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it, unless he is indeed a false prophet. And every prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. And every prophet, proved true, working unto the mystery of the Church in the world, yet not teaching others to do what he himself does, shall not be judged among you, for with God he has his judgment; for so did also the ancient prophets. But whoever says in the Spirit, Give me money, or something else, you shall not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for others' sake who are in need, let no one judge him.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:15 pm

Dani wrote:1) The 1st and 2nd century Christians baptized babys? What source do we have for that?
And that little children took part at the Lord's Supper?
2) Did there not happen a change under Emperor Constantine?
3) Did the 1st and 2nd century Christian honor Mother Mary and the Saints as the EOC does today?
4) The icons made today are they like the ones we find from the earliest centuries?
5) Is it important that we have a certain way in how we worship God?
Love
Dani


Every thing about the Orthodox Church that is not explicitly in the Scriptures has an ancient pedigree.

For example, no Biblical verse unmistakably says, "Baptize babies." Neither does a Biblical verse say, "Don't baptize babies." Thus we have to use our noggin. Of course, plausible arguments can be made either way. I like to look to history to cut the Gordian knot, since exegetical arguments are endless. We have pre-Constantinian writers mentioning the baptism of babies, and none of them that I'm aware of say, "Don't baptize babies!" or "We recently started baptizing babies." On the contrary, it is presented as something correct and of long use. If infant baptism was an innovation, where was the controversy? Where was the debate over its merits?

The same goes for icons, infant communion, and all the rest. Whenever a controversy did arise over something, it was usually someone in a position of authority saying, "I think the Church should STOP doing X." For example, Arius saying that the Church should stop regarding Jesus as God, or Nestorius saying that the Church should stop describing Mary as the Theotokos, or the Emperor (I forget his name) saying that the Church should stop venerating icons, or Barlaam saying that the Church should stop believing in God's uncreated Energies, etc. In other words, the heretics are always innovators. They want to change what has always been done.

The question of the veneration of Mary and all the saints is an interesting one. It is vital to remember that the early Church kept most of its liturgy secret from non-members. Even to this day there is a part of the Sunday liturgy that proclaims, "All catechumens, depart. Depart catechumens. All that are catechumens depart. Let no catechumen remain. Let us, the faithful, again and again in peace pray unto the Lord." This happens rather near the beginning of the liturgy, after only A) some prayers and psalms, B) the Scripture readings, and C) a homily. In other words, the "open to all" part of the liturgy contains only stuff that could have been read by anybody without even attending a liturgy. The rest of the liturgy was for baptized members only. (This, BTW, helps explain the paucity of surviving liturgical materials from the early Church. That stuff was secret! It was for members only.)

Whenever I go to liturgy, I am surrounded by icons of Christ, Mary, and the saints. An icon is not a picture of someone who is absent. It is a divine sign of that person's presence. We believe that when we perform the liturgy, we are joining the Liturgy in Heaven. We are literally worshipping alongside the Virgin Mary, and the Apostle Peter, and the Apostle Paul, and all the saints and all the angels and all those in Heaven. We are in their presence no less surely and literally than we are in the presence of those physically standing next to us in the church--such as my neighbor Frank, the old Slavic guy (Robert), the guy who teaches ballet (Misha), the new member (Ian), the priest's wife (Natalia), etc. When I see Frank, Robert, Misha, and all the rest, do I ignore them? No! I bow to them. They bow to me. We bow to the priest. The priest bows to us. Every single person acknowledges every other single person. Why? Because each of us is the Image of God. How could we ignore God's Image?

For the same reason that we all bow to each other, we bow to the icons. The Apostle Peter is really there, worshipping along with us. It would be the height of insanity to ignore the Apostle in our midst! And if he weren't there, then I just would not be interested. I'll either go to Church with all the Apostles and all the rest of the heroes of the Bible, or I won't go at all.

We talk to Mary and to all the angels and saints during our liturgy. How could we not? They are present with us! After all, the Psalmist even talks to inanimate nature. If the Psalmist can talk to and make requests of hills, waters, etc., then how much more so is it good to talk to and make requests of Mary, Peter, Paul, John, etc.

Further, we praise those in Heaven because they have been thoroughly deified. They utterly participate in the Divine Nature (as Peter wrote). They are utterly sinless. They are now perfect Images of Christ. Or, as St. Irenaeus wrote: "God became man so that man might become God." Everything God is by nature, they are by grace. One day it will be so with us.

The experience of the saints in the Church is unavoidable. The only alternative would be to pretend that Mary, Paul, John, etc. are not there:

"Look! There's Mary!"

"Shhhhhhh! Pretend she isn't here."

"Huh?"

We aren't in Church to pretend, but to rejoice, and to rejoice in God with all creation. :D
Last edited by Geoffrey on Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:34 pm

JasonPratt wrote:Oh. Huh. Literally the first time I've ever heard of it. Doubtless this comes of being too hyper-Protestant (i.e. Baptist :lol: ), since a lot of post-Catholic congregations not only allow but encourage it (though the RCs themselves are currently spotty on it and strongly rejected it in the past). Cyprian in the 3rd century seems the earliest surviving testimony to it, but he wasn't innovating it so the practice must precede him substantially at the very least.

Thanks for the link, Geoffrey!


You're very welcome. :)

I have never understood those church bodies that A) practice infant baptism but B) do not practice infant communion. The only logically consistent practices are to do both or to do neither. Consider:

Inconsistent Christian: "Yes, of course we baptize babies. They are just as much members of the church as the adults. Who cares if they do not intellectually grasp the significance of their baptism? After all baptism is a great mystery, and even we adults grasp so very little of it. Besides, baptism isn't an intellectual thing, but rather a spiritual one."

Inquirer: "Oh, so you must give the babies communion, too."

Inconsistent Christian: "Heavens, no! What would be the point of giving communion to babies? They wouldn't intellectually grasp the significance of taking communion. They simply aren't smart enough, unlike we smart adults."

(Yes, I've had conversations with Roman Catholics that basically went just like that.)

Actually, if I were to put an age limit on receiving Communion, I'd put it the other way. I'd prohibit people over a certain age from taking Communion because they are too sinful, unlike little babies.

Further, if babies are excommunicated (in the literal sense of the term), then what about those who are severely retarded? Are they to be given life-long excommunications? "Sorry, but you're just too stupid to take communion." I shudder at the very thought. For that matter, what of someone who has received severe brain damage later in life? Is he to be excommunicated because he's now not smart enough to take communion?

Infant communion was one of the things that initially attracted me to Orthodoxy. It makes sense historically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. I can't bear the thought of excommunicated little babies.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:27 am

Dear Geoffrey,
but let us assume that the dead are dead. I mean that "soul sleep" is true and that all the saints are not present in a litural way.
Maybe just in our mind and heart for we remember them but if I pray to them and they are dead they cannot hear me.
I do not mean to ignore them but I think it is very hipothetical that they are actually "spiritually" present.

Can I be an Orthodox believer and not honor the saints in the way of praying to/with them?
Is it all right just to pray to God the Father and His Son Jesus?
Can I be an Orthodox believer and having a strong inclination toward Universal Salvation?
Can I be an Orthodox believer without affirming the doctrin of the Trinity?
Can I be an Orthodox believer and rejecting the icon adoration?

Love and Shalom
Dani
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Thu Jul 31, 2014 5:30 am

Dani wrote:Dear Geoffrey,
but let us assume that the dead are dead. I mean that "soul sleep" is true and that all the saints are not present in a litural way.
Maybe just in our mind and heart for we remember them but if I pray to them and they are dead they cannot hear me.
I do not mean to ignore them but I think it is very hipothetical that they are actually "spiritually" present.

Can I be an Orthodox believer and not honor the saints in the way of praying to/with them?
Is it all right just to pray to God the Father and His Son Jesus?
Can I be an Orthodox believer and having a strong inclination toward Universal Salvation?
Can I be an Orthodox believer without affirming the doctrin of the Trinity?
Can I be an Orthodox believer and rejecting the icon adoration?

Love and Shalom
Dani


1. No, to be Orthodox you must participate in the liturgy. Every single liturgy includes prayers to/with the saints.

2. No. We worship all three Persons of the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

3. Yes. St. Gregory of Nyssa, who was the president of the Second Ecumenical Council, and who was called "the Father of the Fathers" by the Seventh Ecumenical Council, believed in universal salvation. There are many examples of Orthodox believers who believe in universal salvation.

4. No. The Trinity is central and essential to Orthodox theology.

5. No. Iconoclasm (i. e., rejecting the veneration of icons) is recognized as a heresy in Orthodoxy.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:53 pm

Thank you very much for your answers.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:06 pm

How is worship of the Father different than worshiping the Son? How do you know that you are worshiping One and not the Other? This is not facetiousness on my part; I'm just curious.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Sat Aug 02, 2014 5:59 am

DaveB wrote:How is worship of the Father different than worshiping the Son? How do you know that you are worshiping One and not the Other?


In the Orthodox Church we have prayers to each Person of the Trinity, as well as prayers to the Trinity. Here is an example of each:

To God the Father:
"Our Father art in Heaven, hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the king, and the power, and the glory, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen."

To God the Son:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me, a sinner."

To God the Holy Spirit:
"O Heavenly King, the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art everywhere and fillest all things; Treasury of Blessings, and Giver of Life - come and abide in us, cleanse us from every impurity, and save our souls, O Good One."

To the Trinity:
"O most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, cleanse us from our sins. O Master, pardon our transgressions. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities, for Thy name’s sake."
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:11 pm

Thank you, Geoffrey, for those prayers - I like them very much.

My question though, if I was to sharpen it up a bit, would be - when you are praying to the Father, does the Son 'hear' you?
Could you say the "Jesus prayer" to the Father?
Does it matter which one of the Trinity we are praying to?
I'm Not being facetious. Someone on the forum has said that the Trinity 'is the basis of all reality'.
Is that really, substantially (kind of a pun there) different than saying 'God is the basis of all reality"?
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby akimel » Sat Aug 02, 2014 9:59 pm

DaveB wrote:How is worship of the Father different than worshiping the Son? How do you know that you are worshiping One and not the Other? This is not facetiousness on my part; I'm just curious.


Dave, the quick theological answer is: the three trinitarian persons are indivisible in substance and thus perfectly indwell each other. Hence, when I pray to the Father, I am also praying to the Son and Spirit; when I pray to the Son, I am also praying to the Father and Spirit; when I pray to the Spirit, I am also praying to the Father and Son.

How do we know which person we are praying to? That's why we use names. :)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby ChrisB » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:54 pm

Perhaps the best answer to this question is: about 2000 years!
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:06 am

Och, I will let it go. I'll be happy with 'my' Trinity, you with yours. :lol: I fully believe we are worshiping the same God, I don't believe 'yours' is Higher or that I am a second-class Christian, though.
Thanks. Onward and upward! :D
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Dani » Sun Aug 03, 2014 8:08 am

Hello Dave,
so how do you explain "your" trinity?
Blessings
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Sun Aug 03, 2014 11:40 am

Dani - I don't. I do not wish to bandy about metaphysical terminology concerning the trinity. I have found it to be counter-productive, and it splits people into camps. The simple things I said above will have to do, there are other good threads in the archives that have worked the subject to death. :D
I'm sorry to disappoint you, but really, it has all been said before, and by excellent theologians.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby JasonPratt » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:56 am

DaveB wrote:Someone on the forum has said that the Trinity 'is the basis of all reality'.
Is that really, substantially (kind of a pun there) different than saying 'God is the basis of all reality"?


Well, it's more than saying "God is the basis". :)

God is the basis == the one and only basis of reality can rationally act. That's an important claim.

The Trinity is the basis == the one and only basis of reality is a rationally active interpersonal reality of fair-togetherness between persons, essentially being love and justice in its own eternally active self-existence. The basis would still be self-begetting, loyally self-begotten, and graciously self-giving, even if nothing else but the basis existed.

The idea that this substantially singular mutually supporting interpersonal union is the one and only basis of reality, ought to make a big difference in what we believe to be true about morality. Hopeless punishment could not possibly be truly just, to give perhaps the most pertinent example in relation to this forum. ;)
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby akimel » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:31 pm

DaveB wrote:Dani - I don't. I do not wish to bandy about metaphysical terminology concerning the trinity. I have found it to be counter-productive, and it splits people into camps.


Dave, I appreciate your desire to avoid "metaphysical" disputes; but may I suggest that the Church Fathers weren't engaging in metaphysical speculation. What they did was to adopt, and rework, some basic philosophical concepts in order to express the fundamental faith of the Church. If we approach the Nicene question from a grammatical viewpoint, it all becomes clear.

What does it mean to be God? Whatever properties are properly attributed to "God," they are to be equally attributed to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

What does it mean to be a "divine Person"? Whatever it means, it means, it means that the Father is distinct from the Son and Spirit; the Son is distinct from the Father and Spirit; the Spirit is distinct from the Father and Son.

No metaphysical "explanation" is being offered--simply rules for proper speech about the Christian God.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Mon Aug 04, 2014 2:56 pm

Perhaps you and Chris B and JP and moderators and others are correct. I don't think so, and since the issue is still alive after a couple thousand years - and kept alive by smarter people than any of us here, I don't think there is room for boasting or complete certainty on either side.
Like I said about 3 minutes ago on another thread, unless I am marginalized or caricaturized for my belief, I am willing to let it be; we are not going to solve this any more than we can solve the free-will debate, the two-natures debate, the creation ex-nihilo debate, the virgin birth debate etc ad nauseum, world without end. :D
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Note: my spell-checker tried to change 'caricaturized' to 'catheterized' - I would purely hate to be catheterized for my belief, :D
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Geoffrey » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:16 pm

JasonPratt wrote:The idea that this substantially singular mutually supporting interpersonal union is the one and only basis of reality, ought to make a big difference in what we believe to be true about morality. Hopeless punishment could not possibly be truly just, to give perhaps the most pertinent example in relation to this forum. ;)


Very good point.

akimel wrote:[M]ay I suggest that the Church Fathers weren't engaging in metaphysical speculation. What they did was to adopt, and rework, some basic philosophical concepts in order to express the fundamental faith of the Church...No metaphysical "explanation" is being offered--simply rules for proper speech about the Christian God.


Right. The faith of the Orthodox Church is identical to the faith of the simple fisherman, St. Peter the Martyr and Apostle. Only the terminology is new.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby DaveB » Mon Aug 04, 2014 7:50 pm

:roll:
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby ChrisB » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:06 pm

It is perhaps tangential to the core of this but about a six weeks ago we (wife and I) were in St Petersburg. We decided we would like to go and see the underground which has an Art Nuevo look about it. Since this did not take very long we found ourselves deposited at an ordinary fruit and vegee market. As we were on a cruise ship and not likely to need any extra food we crossed the road and entered an ordinary (that is to say not a tourist magnet) church. What impressed me was the way folk would just come in an ignore the tourists (that was us) and simply go and do their worship thing whatever it was and then leave. It was humming with activity all the time we were there. No fuss, little organisation but clearly faith as an everyday matter. You can argue the details and the theology till the cows come home but you can't argue with the testimony.
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Re: How close is the EOC to the historical Church?

Postby Joe121589 » Thu Oct 16, 2014 8:33 pm

I hope you dont mind if I chime in, but I was just wondering, do churches like Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, Evangelical, or Restorationist matter? Considering there were other early Christian communities, many still existing like the Assyrian Church, the Oriental, Eastern and Roman Church. Plus other sects like the Gnostics, arians, and some others I cannot remember their names. But it seems like most mainstream Historic Protestant Churches have preserved the Western Liturgy.

And I was just wondering, how did the Apokatastasis get condemned as Heresy? I know that Justinian setup the counsel, and he was quite a tyrant himself. But I was wondering why the Churches accepted this condemnation?
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