Today, Tim Kimberley and I had the privilege of meeting with an Eastern Orthodox priest here at the Credo House in Edmond, OK. The meeting was called because there is a young man who desires to work as an “under-monk” (barista) at the Credo House. While we are a Protestant Evangelical organization, we often call ourselves Evangelical “on the last notch of the belt.” In other words, in the spirit of Evangelicalism, we don’t want to unnecessarily divide over non-essential issues. While devoted to his Eastern Orthodox church, this prospective employee loves the Credo House and what we stand for. As discussions went on behind the scenes about whether or not I wanted to deal with the PR of explaining to everyone why we had an Eastern Orthodox employee (along with all the charges of postmodern doctrinal relativism, etc.), as well as the laborious discovery of whether this guy was truly an Eastern Orthodox or an Evangelical attending an Eastern Orthodox church, Carrie set up a meeting between this young man, his priest, Tim, and me.

The following took place at approx. 2:15 CST at the Credo House, 109 NW 142nd St. Suite B, Edmond, OK.

We made cordial introductions and exchanged some background information The priest was a former Evangelical who converted to Eastern Orthodoxy during college.

The Credo House doctrinal statement was the subject of dispute, as the priest sought to distinguish the Eastern Orthodox position from that which is represented by our doctrinal statement. The potential employee sought both the permission and wisdom of his priest to see if working for Credo House was acceptable. I had already determined that, barring some unforeseen (and potentially delightful) complications, Credo House would not be willing to offer employment to a committed Eastern Orthodox.

There were not really any surprises.

Below is a point by point account of the dispute using our doctrinal statement as an outline:

Bible and Revelation: We confess that the Scriptures are verbally inspired and true in every respect. We also confess that the rightly interpreted Scriptures are the only infallible source of revelation.

It may surprise many to know that the issue of sola Scriptura (rightly defined) is not a major point of departure between Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. The subject of church tradition was brought up. We both agreed that tradition stands guard beside the interpretation of Scripture but does not stand in front of it. We also agreed that tradition does not add anything to the Scripture, but is a tradition in which the Scripture is to be interpreted. Tim called this the regula fide (common terminology here at Credo). I was amused when the priest said  he did not use the Latin terminology (i.e., it was in western theological language). But we both agreed that there was no living infallible interpreter of Scripture. Scripture is the final source, yet we look toward history to aid in our understanding.

He did ask what we meant by “verbally” inspired. I informed him that this means that the Bible is inspired down to the very words, not just the concepts. However, this does not mean that we believe in “mechanical dictation.” He agreed. He just wanted to clarify that we did not hold to a view of inspiration like the Muslims.

God: We confess that there is one God, creator of all things, invisible and visible, who eternally exists in three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom are fully God, all of whom are equal in power and dignity. We also confess that God is all-knowing and is sovereign over all the affairs of His creation.

This was an interesting (and unexpected) discussion. He thought our confession here about God bordered on modalism. It was hard for me to process what was being disputed. Historically, it is true, the eastern church has accused the western church (Protestants and Roman Catholics included) of emphasizing the oneness of God to the neglect of his threeness (modalism). The western church has accused the eastern church of emphasizing the threeness of God at the expense of his oneness (tritheism). However, I had thought we got past this quite some time ago. Nevertheless, he would have preferred that we said “We confess that there is one God, the Father . . . ” He said that, “You cannot separate the oneness from the person.” In the end, he said  it was a “minor” point of wording. I did not have much of a problem with what he said (although I can see where the western church would think this sounds somewhat tritheistic).

Christ: We confess that Jesus Christ is God’s eternal Son, the second member of the Trinity, who exists as one person in two natures, being both fully God and fully man. We further confess that He lived a sinless life and willingly died on a cross as a substitution for the sins of man. We confess that He rose bodily from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father; from there He makes intercession for man.

“Substitution for the sins of man.” This was one of the two major points of departure. Every time I have discussed the issue of the atonement with an Eastern Orthodox, this is where deep emotions turn into deep wrinkles on their face. There is quite a bit of passion involved here. The Eastern Orthodox church completely rejects vicarious penal substitution. They do not believe that Christ bore the wrath of the Father. According to him, Christ is our substitute only in the sense that he was the “substitute man” who did what Adam could not. I explained that Evangelical Protestants believe that Christ did indeed become the “second Adam” and that we often, sadly, fail to do justice to his sinless life as part of the atonement. However, I explained that Christ’s life prepared him for the apex of the atonement that took place on the cross. There was a foresaking where He who knew no sin became sin on our behalf and it pleased the Father to crush him. Therefore, the “transaction” between the Father and the Son on the cross, while incredibly mysterious, was real and essential. He disagreed and we moved on.

Holy Spirit: We confess that the Holy Spirit is the third member of the Trinity, equal to the Father and the Son in power, authority, and dignity, deserving worship. We further confess that the ministry of the Holy Spirit is to point to Christ by enabling and empowering all believers to serve God and to grow in Christ likeness. 

There were no notes here. We were good.

Man and sin: We confess that man was created by God, for God, and in God’s image so that man can joyously live in communion with God. We believe that Adam and Eve, the father and mother of all mankind, disobeyed God in Eden thereby causing all people to become like them in guilt and nature. Therefore, we confess that all people are born separated from God and in their natural state are at enmity with God, unable to make any move toward God on their own. We confess that the image of God, while distorted, remains in all men. We confess that when a person dies, the immaterial part of that person consciously goes to either be with Christ or to a place to await judgment.

Here we encountered a second major point of departure. He made it clear that the Eastern Orthodox could not accept any idea of imputed guilt. While they believe that we have inherited corruption, we are not held guilty for the sin of another. He rightly pointed out that Protestants and Roman Catholics both believe that we are held guilty for the sin of another. His argument against inherited guilt was very practical. “How could God hold a baby guilty for a sin he did not take part in?” was his question. I told him that we may be two boats passing in the night here. I explained that all of humanity fell “in and with” Adam. Therefore, when Adam was condemned, the entire human race was condemned with him. God did not necessarily strike the gavel for every baby conceived individually, but he struck the gavel with Adam, our federal head. God could have chose not to redeem humanity and “walked away.” Had he done so, we would be “condemned” to a life without God.

Interestingly, he objected to the statement that man is “unable to make any move toward God on their own.” He said that humanity retains some ability to choose God even if we don’t use it. I informed him that his wording was not, in my opinion, in the best traditions of his own church. The idea that we can make moves on our own toward God without his initiation was either Pelagian or semi-Pelagian. All the magisterial Christian traditions (Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholics) see the need for God to, motivated by his grace, initiate salvation. We ended up agreeing here.

Salvation: We confess that God had every right to leave man in his depraved and helpless condition, but, by His own gracious and loving volition, He chose to intercede on behalf of man. We further confess that salvation is only possible through faith alone in Christ alone because of God’s grace alone. We reject that any works of righteousness contribute in any way to man’s salvation. We confess that when a person places their faith in Christ they are at that instant declared righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness as a gift of God.

He did not like the word “intercede,” instead preferring “intervene.” This came down to his distinction in the persons of the Trinity. I told him I did not have much of a problem with that.

“Through faith alone in Christ alone.” You may be interested to know there was not much dispute about this. He said that as long as we said that true faith would always produce works, he was good with the “faith alone” thing. But he did not like the wording of, “We reject that any works of righteousness contribute in any way to man’s salvation.” I did not like that he did not like this! He said that we cannot distinguish between faith and works. I said you can insofar as the works themselves do not “contribute” to our justification. I gave an illustration about a gift which we don’t pay for. Any attempt to pay for this gift (i.e., believing our works contribute to the acquisition of said gift) would not only be superfluous, but insulting to the gift-giver. We do good works because of a changed nature (rebirth, justification, adoption), not so that we can have a changed nature.

Last Things: We confess that Christ will come again to judge and reward all people. We confess the bodily resurrection of all believers. We confess the eternal blessedness of those who have trusted in Christ and the eternal damnation of all who have rejected God.

He wanted to make sure we did not believe only in the resurrection of all “believers.” He said unbelievers would be raised as well. I agreed.

It was a wonderful dispute. Again, no real surprises. I do appreciate the Eastern Orthodox church very much. In the end, however, we all determined that it would not be in the best interest of either party to continue to pursue employment at the Credo House. As Tim said, “We don’t want you to be untrue to yourself and we can’t be untrue to who we are.” The priest agreed, saying, “As an Eastern Orthodox priest, I could not sign this due to the two main issues: imputed guilt and substitutionary atonement.”

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    178 replies to "Credo House Dispute – Our Discussions Today with an Eastern Orthodox Priest"

    • The essential thing in a NT Christology & Christianity, is that GOD came to settle in a final way the issue between a Holy God and the sin/guilt of man or humanity.

      God is both the reconciler and the reconciled! (Rom. 3:25-26) But, now I must live in it, and to the end!

    • C Michael Patton

      The belief that Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant have any particular claim on the Fathers of the faith is naive and disrespectful not to mention incredibly assumptive. If this is the major claim of your tradition you have a burden that is very heavy. But, most importantly, it is non-substantive. It is not worth trying to carry to the degree that some attempt. The Fathers were not smarter or more Spiritual any more the Adam was smarter because he walked with God. It is the fullness of history from which we can draw our maturity. There is no reason to freeze it in the first and second century in order to retain it theological infancy. Why would we assume that Irenaus or Augustine or Basil had a greater degree of theological maturity than us? Yes, the basic DNA was there and we should live in fear of theological genetic engineering. However, when I read these guys, while I am encouraged by their faith, there are no transcendent insights, maturity, or unity that I see. In fact, I would say that they, lacking the battle scars of 2000 years of history, have a bit of underdeveloped theology. This is not their fault, but please quit trying to get us back to adolescence.

    • C Michael Patton

      “We all walk through the gardens of church history and choose the flowers we like best.”

    • Go there Michael…rip it! 😉 So many think the Church Fathers walk on water almost! I too respect many of them, but some are just plain verbiage! Indeed we must have that constant sense of the “Ecclesia semper reformada” (always reforming) by “spirit and truth”!

    • Craig Bennett

      I think we have to be careful in how we read the church fathers and the era they come from. Some of them were under the tutelage of the Apostles themselves – so we have to be aware that perhaps they have a better understanding of the early church than what we do.

      I find it interesting that many Calvinists will claim Augustine as their own, yet not acknowledge that in his book the’ city of God’, he shows that the gifts of the Spirit are in full operation, which decries any cessationist approach to understanding church history and theology.

    • John

      Well Michael, if we actually regard the fathers as an authority, and you don’t, I think that gives us a claim that you don’t. I mean, if a Buddist complained that you don’t have a better claim on the apostles than he, you’d object, right?

      And the importance of the fathers has nothing to do with them being smarter or more spiritual, contrary to your objection. The importance of the fathers is that they are a witness to the faith of the one holy apostolic church. Their importance is not what they figured out, their importance is that they are a reflection of the faith of God’s people through the ages. That’s why they are an authority, and yet they are not infallible.

    • […] Credo House Dispute – Our Discussions Today with an Eastern Orthodox Priest: […]

    • C Michael Patton

      Your criteria on why they would be an authority would apply to anyone in the history of the church.

      You said: “I mean, if a Buddist complained that you don’t have a better claim on the apostles than he, you’d  object, right?”

      It may be very telling that in this illustration the Buddist would be represented by all non Orthodox who dare to claim the influence of our shared spiritual heratige. A Buddist does not have shared DNA with Christians. It is hard to believe that one would make such a comparison. We all share Christ and the consessions which our DNA affords. We all differ from them in many ways, but the central confession (DNA) remains the same. I would encourage you to refrain from unnecessary divisions here based upon Church fathers. You could be found to prioritize them above Christ.

      As well, I don’t know how much you place Protestants in the same bath before you throw out the baby and bath water, but Protestants do see the Fathers as authoritative (well, the regula fide which they hold). We just don’t place them as an ultimate or infallible authority. You should come by the Credo House sometime. We have the great theologians of the past standing guard over all that we do. They don’t have to be perfect shoulders to stand on in order to see how indebted we are to them. In the resides the power of the Holy Spirit and the providence of God. They belong to no one yet belong to all.

      As well, I would encourage you to study some of the recent concessions that the Orthodox and Protestant (Anglican and Lutherans) have had concerning the issue of authority. This was confirmed in my “dispute” of the OP. Your view of authority is not much different than ours. We all hold tradition to be of great (albeit fallible) value.

    • John

      Well Michael, I’ve noticed that you are willing to claim the fathers as an authority much more than any other Protestants I’ve ever met. But when I point out how the fathers support,…. Oh say chrismation way back to to the 2nd century on forward, and I ask you, does 2000 years of traditions plus the fathers result in the authority for Chrismation, I get no answer.

      So in conclusion, lip service to the authority of the fathers doesn’t match action.

    • C Michael Patton

      John, the regula fide is always going to he determined by a few criteria. First is the Vimcentian Canon (which I imagine you are familiar with). But there also has to be some sort of explicitly represented within the traditions. In other words, it is not so much a view held in passing or only due to a controversy.

      And of course, holding to my tradition, the first record of Tradition is with the Apostles recorded in the NT. if it is not found there, there is immediate disqualification for said tradition to be a part of the canon veritas. The charismaton is a courteous example that would have to be defined before it could be used as an example. But as it is defined in much of the modern charismatic movement, it would certainly not qualify as being a norm in tradition or practice.

    • John

      You’ve totally lost me Michael. I’ve never heard of charismatics practicing Chrismation. There was never any controversy about chrismation until Protestantism. Just totally lost by this post.

      Of course Chrismation is asserted to be in the NT. Just not as explicitly as Protestants want. Then again, nothing in the NT is quite as explicit as anyone warts.

    • C Michael Patton

      Oh, sorry. Read too fast. Thought you were speaking about the charismatic gifts! (charismaton). I would figure that ordination or the laying on of hands is a principle that can find many expressive patterns. We need to be careful not to marry a good function to a cultural form unless the form is intrinsically tied to the function (ie baptism). This is where tradition would give way to traditionalism. And I know that this is often a point of depature between Orthodoxy and Evangelical Protestants. The Bible does not make a big deal about this type of structure, but allows a great degree of freedom within.

    • C Michael Patton

      “Tradition is the living faith of those now dead. Traditionalism is the dead faith of those now living.” Joslav Pelican

    • John

      Err… so you want to separate the Chrismation from the Chrism? Chrism-less Chrismation?

      I like your blog Michael, but whenever one gets down to brass tacks, the issues melt into abstractions.

    • C Michael Patton

      Now u lost me! Glad you like the blog. It is a taskmaster.

    • Clay G.

      I agree that the Credo House doctrinal statement on God sounds somewhat modalist. And if you say Father Tim’s articulation sounds tritheistic, wouldn’t you have to say the same about the Nicene Creed?

    • SRQTom

      CMP –

      I think what “John” wants you to respond to is: what about things that the church fathers endorsed and have been practiced for 2,000 of Christian history, but are controversial (or not accepted) within Protestantism? Like Chrismation? You certainly appeal to the fathers as an authority, so why are they not authoritative in instances like these?

      As far as I understand Chrismation it is a sacrament where someone receives the Holy Spirit and is administered AFTER baptism. I am not aware of Charismatics doing this at all. I am not aware of anything close to this in the Charismatic movement.

      And personally, not to sound harsh/demeaning/argumentative/challenging/etc, I think its a fair question and one you haven’t given a clear answer to yet. At least not in this thread.

    • Pete again

      Central to Orthodoxy is the understanding of AUTHORITY. Jesus Christ set up Church structure on earth, and He gave specific, clear instructions on the authority given to Church leaders:

      Philippians 2:12-14: Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence…do all things without complaining and disputing.

      2 Corinthians 2:9: The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything

      Philemon 1:21: Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say

      Hebrews 13:17: Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive

      Who is CMP obedient to? Who is he submissive to? When there is a theological dispute, his decision is final. He gathers all of the available data, filters it through his spiritual lens, and make his decision. He truly is “walking through the dogmatic garden, picking the flowers that he likes best.”

      Without the historical Christian understanding of “authority” – where EVERYONE was accountable to Church leadership, even Peter & Paul – Orthodoxy is viewed as just another “religious view”, another denomination to be defended against, another group who just happen to have made the “personal choice” to follow the conciliar historical Church of the 1st millennia.

      • Bob lee


    • Chrismation, simply assumes a position that even Anglican evangelicals like myself don’t see. And for myself again, not at least at the apostolic level. I think for both Michael and myself as Reformed Christians, the burden of authority is in and rests on the Word of God!

    • And even those of us historical Anglicans that give great place to the Ecumenical Councils and Creeds, the Word of God is the last and final measure! And btw, it here that I am very thankful & greatful for the work and ministry of a John Frame…’God’s governance of our ethical life: revelation, providence, presence’. (DCL., 24) And, ‘The nature of the Word of God: God’s authoritative, powerful, personal speech.’ (PWG, 9-16.)

      Note, Frame’s wonderful Triads! (Speaking The Truth In Love, The Theology of John M. Frame, (P&R, edited book, 2009)

    • Fred

      One thing about Orthodoxy is that over 1000 years of historical development separate Orthodoxy and the western branches of Christianity. For all the Reformation accomplished, Protestantism is still born of Roman Catholic heritage. I don’t mean that with any negative connotation, just an acknowledgement of the reality.

      What this means from a practical standpoint is that there is much more to Orthodoxy than switching around a few theological concepts, having abstract disputes, or simply adding/subtracting Orthodox things like icons, chrismation, fasting, etc. Orthodoxy is a way of life, and must be lived as such to be truly understood. As the saying goes, the map is not the territory.

      From an experiential standpoint, Orthodoxy has helped me to transition from living Christianity in my mind as a set of intellectual propositions I agree with, to actually living the Christian life as set forth in the New Testament. The whole life of baptism, chrismation, liturgy, fasting, confession, communion, praying, venerating, reading, participating in the festal cycles, repenting, and all the rest… it is all born from, and cultivates, a mindset that is different from both the Roman Catholic and the Protestant traditions. I don’t mean that to say that RCC and Protestant traditions cannot also help a person live the Christian life, I just mean that the difference in mindset is profound. The forest of phrenoma is often overlooked for the trees of doctrinal difference.

      • bob lee

        Well said Fred. Cannot agree more.

    • Phil McCheddar

      In reply to Carrie’s comment #41, John asked: “On a purely logical level, how would you explain completely separate churches coming to the exact same error?”

      John, I’m not trying to attack Orthodoxy here – I’m only expressing some of my doubts about Orthodoxy in order to test the water.

      If Christians in the first thousand years submitted unquestioningly to the authority of the church rather than each Christian form his own opinions, and if the widely-scattered congregations were presided over by a hierarchy of leaders with one man at the top of the pyramid, and since humans in power are susceptible to politics and corruption, it seems to me that one man at the top could have introduced an error that inevitably rippled down to all the grass root congregations.

      Trying to do some reading around this subject, I came across the following quote on the internet. I don’t know if it is true but I would be interested to hear your comment please.
      Orthodox scholars like John Meyendorff and Andrew Louth admit there simply isn’t one consistent unbroken tradition in line with the original Apostolic teaching, but rather quite a bit of diversity. Meyendorff describes theologians such as Maximus and Palamas introducing a “Christological corrective” to earlier writers such as Evagrius and Denys. Orthodox tradition deviated from Scripture towards a neo-Platonic philosophical worldview and assumptions (hence the need for a corrective).


    • C Michael Patton

      I don’t think that the Charismation finds wide acceptance historically outside of the EO church. Therefore, it would not fit within the parameters of the Vincention Canon, much less find any explicit bibical mandate.

      Therefore, there is no departure from a doctrine. At best, it would be a departure from an expression (symbolic or otherwise) which finds some practice, but never historic explity or clarity (MUCH less biblical explicity or clarity).

      Pentecostals to have a doctrine of the baptism of the Sprit which mirrors this to some degree.

      But this is my belief about how something qualifies for the regula fide and is therefore universally binding:

      1. Biblical clarity
      2. Bibical explicty
      3. Historic clarity
      4. Historic explicity

      When you have something like this which does not pass any of these tests you would not expect this to be a part of the regula fide. While it may be a part of Eastern Orthodoxy orthoodoxy, it is not a part of historic orthodoxy.

    • C Michael Patton

      Pete, you fail to realize that you have no living infallible authority either. Therefore, in order to make the decision about to whom you will submit, you have to submit to your own authority! But your submission is tenative upon your own understanding as well. You submit to the creeds? Good. But whose interpretation of the creeds? The Fathers? Whose interpretation of them?

      Without a living infallible Magisterium, we are all in the same boat. But even if you had one (which you don’t), you would still have to submit to you own authority about whose authority you submit to? Who told you to submit to the Orthodox faith rather than the Pope? Your interpretation of the fathers? Who gave you the authority to interpret them in such a way?

      The smoke screen of authority always gives way to our own individual responsibility toward God. We cannot punt to others forever. Risky? Yes. But the alternatives are not really any different.

    • Fred

      Phil, Orthodoxy rejects the notion of “one man at the top of the pyramid” because there is only One at the “top of the pyramid” and that is Jesus Christ. Orthodoxy uses a conciliar model of government, where decisions are made by councils of bishops. Even then, the laity and/or monastics can “overrule” a decision, which has happened many times in history. It is beyond my ability to go into much detail about this, but the Orthodox approach is neither strictly vertical as in Roman Catholicism, nor horizontal as in many forms of Protestantism. Through this balance, both unity and doctrinal accuracy are maintained.

      The establishment of the Canon of Scripture comes to mind as an example. The Canon was not officially established by a council until the end of the 4th century, but was practically in place much earlier. One of the criteria for inclusion in the Canon was universal use and acceptance. Thus, the establishment of the Canon was both vertical in the sense that it was officially set forth by a council of Bishops, and also horizontal in the sense that universal use was a criteria used by the council.

      The “one man at the top of the pyramid” concept was an invention of the Roman church owing to historical and political forces, and one of the main causes of the great schism between east and west. The Roman bishop sought to exert his absolute authority over doctrinal matters and this was resoundingly rejected by the other churches.

    • @Fred: Not quite that easy or simple! The so-called Great Schism was both sides ramming heads, over authority, culture and theological issues! Note I side with the EO on the Filioque, however. But I do also reject papal authority and infallibility. As I too reject Orthodox historical infallibility! 🙂

    • The EO have some great men and scholars (theolog’s) today, note the term “theologian” is not given lightly with them! But I like Andrew Louth, John McGuckin.. to name a few! But my fav so-called modern Eastern Father and teacher was the Russian Georges Florovsky! (Btw, he and Barth were friends…yes sir!)

    • And I dare not forget the great Timothy Ware (Bishop Kallistos Ware)…now there’s an Englishman! 😉 Every Christian pastor-teacher should read his book: The Orthodox Church!

    • C Michael Patton

      The second edition of Ware’s book has some interesting differences than the first which some EO are not too excited out.

    • @Michael: Indeed! I have both the older copy (1963) and the so-called “New Edition” (Reprinted with revisions 1993, 1997) Btw, the 1964 version had some reprints too.

      *I have read almost eveything I could lay my hands on by Ware! Perhaps the book: The Orthodox Way, is his most simple theological book and read?

    • Timothy Payne

      One quick addition to the conversation. We decided it would not be good for this man to work as a Barista at the Credo House but we encouraged him to be a part of all that’s happening at the Credo House. Much like a church or seminary, there is a certain criteria for leadership and then another criteria for those not in leadership.

      It would hopefully be a good fit for an Eastern Orthodox to be involved in many of the classes, coffee & conversations, and events at the Credo House. A Barista, however, is not only making drinks but being theologically trained to help educate the community. We are committed to teaching fairly and broadly but when we are pressed we are committed to provide an evangelical perspective. This was where we mutually agreed to depart with this young man.

    • […] Credo House Dispute – Discussions With An Eastern Orthodox Priest […]

    • Pete again

      @CMP, thanks for the discussion, I am certainly learning a lot about your belief system through this blog, and certainly respect what the Credo House is doing.

      “The belief that Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant have any particular claim on the Fathers of the faith is naive and disrespectful not to mention incredibly assumptive.” I think that the church fathers’ beliefs OVERWHELMINGLY correspond to today’s Orthodox beliefs, vs. Calvinist Protestant. It’s not being arrogant, it’s just a fact. I would be glad to post multiple quotes on the Eucharist, Infant Baptism, Chrismation, The Virgin Mary (Theotokos), Fasting, etc (Fred has a nice list of beliefs and practices above) that are still taught in Orthodox churches today. But I don’t want to hog the blog so I’ll hold back unless you want me to post them.

      “Without a living infallible Magisterium, we are all in the same boat.” Well, we have the benefit if seeing what the Roman Catholic Magisterium has done, and I think that we can all agree that this system does not work in keeping tradition intact. What Orthodoxy does have, and has always had, is a concrete hierarchical worldwide group of churches lead by a local bishop. The bishop’s job is to “keep the traditions (including Scriptural interpretations) and pass them on” to the next generation. The bishops are in communion with each other. The Bible tells us to obey our bishops, right?

      Is it even possible to pass down traditions over the centuries? A strange example I can point to is the Coptic Orthodox Church, which has been out of communion with most Orthodox churches since 451AD, over a Christological dispute. The miracle is that (except for the issue in question) all of our other traditions we shared up until 451AD are exactly alike! The doctrines & dogma that we shared for the first 5 centuries are still intact, even though we’ve spent 1,500 years apart. So it is possible to heed Paul’s orders to keep the traditions.

      Glory to Jesus Christ

    • John S

      Our own guilt comes early, anyone who has kids knows they show rebellion and disobedience at 1 or 2. Does this count as personal guilt, since they don’t know God and his laws? When conscience kicks in are they then personally guilty? When they have awareness of the concept of God?
      In any case it’s a pretty young age, unless you subscribe to a random ‘age of accountability’ based on a human concept of adulthood.
      Everyone sins, early and often, which seems to indicate that we are all in the same group. We got the same thing somehow, so Adam’s sin nature sure seems to rule humanity even if his guilt doesn’t. Maybe we should blame him for our nature, and take credit for our own guilt?
      Either way we are guilty, unless you consider those who are too young to understand to have no guilt. But as they can’t understand they can’t add anything to the conversation. So the ‘unguilty’ are passive in their condemnation or forgiveness. How can someone be guilty for something they didn’t do, you can also ask How can someone be found innocent when they have not done the good God requires? How can a baby be found guilty because someone else didn’t baptize them?

    • Pete again

      “ CMP: But this is my belief about how something qualifies for the regular fide and is therefore universally binding: 1. Biblical clarity, 2. Biblical explicity, 3. Historic clarity, 4. Historic explicity ”

      Clear and explicit Biblical accounts of “Laying of the hands” (Chrismation) and receiving the Holy Spirit as a separate act from baptism:

      Acts 8:14 18: … they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands upon them and they received the Holy Spirit. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money.

      Acts 19:5-6: When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them.

      1 John 2:20: But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.

      1 John 2:27: As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

      2 Corinthians 1, 21-22: Now He which establishes us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

      Historical data:

      St. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch (169 – 180 AD) :Thus, we, exactly because of this, are called Christians; because we are Chrismated (anointed) by oil.

      Tertullian (155 – 240 AD): Exiting the bath of the baptism, we are Chrismated by Holy Oil following the old ceremony. Bodily, the Chrismation is conducted upon us and then the hand is applied on us, which via the blessing, invokes the Holy Spirit who thus descends upon us”.

      RCC calls it “Confirmation”. It is a 2,000 year old Christian sacrament.

    • John

      Phil: you suggest that the church followed one man at the top and this explains universal practices that you don’t agree with. (a) Are you secretly shilling for the Roman Catholics by arguing there was one man at the top from the beginning? (b) if the universal church polity supported such a thing, then you are back to explaining why the universal polity was different to yours (c) clearly, at no point in history was everyone following one leader anyway (d) that doesn’t explain universal practices that date way back to the early 2nd century (at least), like chrismation.

      CMP: Are you serious??????? Chrismation is not historically unique to Orthodoxy. It was UNIVERSAL till Protestants came along. Admittedly the Romans changed the name to confirmation, and abandoned paedo-chrismation sometime in the early 2nd millennium, but nevertheless it was universal, and attested in the earliest of the early fathers.

      Fr Robert: same challenge for you why you reject a universal and early attested practice. An with the challenge to explain its universality and early attestation as anything other than apostolic sanction.

      CMP: While its popular in Protestant apologetics to claim that everyone is reduced to their own interpretation, therefore a living church is superfluous, I’m not buying. (a) because the church is living, you can actually interact with it in real life. Even though no individual member is infallible, the church overall is. (b) there is a process of clarification over time. According to your argument, we don’t need the NT to interpret the OT, but clearly that is not a Christian view. (c) everyone uses help to interpret, whether it be the sermon or commentaries or creeds. The only question is whether they are good or authoritative. The church gives a framework for assessing the value of helps. You are at the mercy of circumstance whether you get bad help or good.

    • John

      The lowest official leadership position in Orthodoxy is that of Reader. Apparently the Protestant equivalent leadership position is that of Barista. 🙂

    • @John: I have seen the mass of Irish Baptised and Confirmed Roman Catholics (at least in my 50’s and 1960’s), someone has called many of the Irish as simply ‘baptised pagans’! Thus, this places me more toward Luther on Sacraments. And as an Evangelical Anglican, it is Word & Sacrament! And the Baptismal Formula does not express a Trinity of work, or a Trinity of redemptive effort for man, but an essential Trinity, a Trinity in the inner constitution of Deity! Simply GOD is for us, as HE is in Himself, and both His essence & energy! Though of course “we” cannot see the former.

    • John

      Fr Robert: seems you are having an argument which has not come up yet. What sacraments actually are, is a different question to which ones ought to be practiced.

    • And btw John, just because I approach a kind of Anglican Low Church position, does not mean I am “Zwinglian” on Sacraments, no I am just not fully High Church or “sacerdotal”. But I again believe in Christ’s Real Presence! “In, Above & Around” ‘the elements of bread & wine’, yes the “body & blood” – of Christ, but sacramentally.. For Christ is both Risen & Ascended!

    • Indeed John, this ALL centres around CHRIST, who is still Incarnate, at the Right-Hand and on the Throne of God, the Mediator! (Heb. 9:24)…this last verse is simply awsome!

    • John

      Fr. Robert: Above and around eh? The one position that as far as I know is completely devoid of either biblical, historical or philosophical support.

      BTW your profile link seems broken. I’m curious what part of the Anglican world you come from.

    • John: Look under irishanglican.wordpress, that’s me! And btw, ya better check your philosophy, like ontology, etc. I have a D.Phil. btw, on Luther’s Ontology of the Cross! (Years back now)

    • John

      Well, if you want to point me to a defense of the above and around theory, I’ll take a look. I presume you quote Heb 9:24 as a typical protestant argument against the real presence. But then again you say you believe in the real presence, so I’m lost.

    • Does Christ literally leave the Throne above, to come down into bread & wine? Can He not be at both places at both times? I say surely so! Some call this consubstantiation, that the substance of the bread and wine of the Eucharist exists, after consecration, side by side with the substance of the body and blood, but is not “changed” into it, i.e. transubstantiation.

      Indeed as The Report of the Lambeth Conference 1988 states: “Presence and Sacrifice: ‘Both are areas of “mystery” which ultimately defy definition’.

    • Btw John, I hope I am not a “typical Protestant”, but a classic and historical Anglican (Thirty-Nine Articles), and both “catholic” & “reformed”. 😉

    • John

      Fr Robert: Well, you are suckered into using the Roman Catholic categories of substance, which may not be a promising starting point.

      You seem to be saying that Christ pulled a fast one. When he held up a piece of bread and said “this is my body”, and the apostles saw him holding up and referring to bread, he actually meant that his body was there, but it wasn’t what the apostles saw, it was something else that they couldn’t see, that happened to be near the bread.

      I understand the argument that the bread is his body. I understand the Zwinglian argument that he was being metaphorical. I don’t understand the argument that he held up a piece of bread, said it was his body, but actually it wasn’t, rather his body was somewhere around the bread, as if the apostles could be expected to know that.

      You’re right there aren’t really typical Protestants, but Protestants are typified by some things, whether reformed or not, Anglo catholic or not.

    • John

      BTW, in what circumstances does bread have Christ around it? Do you need a priest? A church? A service? What?

    • @John: When at the First Eucharist (Holy Supper), Christ said: ‘This is my body and this is my blood’ HE was standing or sitting right there before them! Of course, as He said it was of a “passover” significance! (Lk. 22: 15-16 / 1 Cor. 5:7-8)

    • @John: Of course this is at the Eucharist…”IN, above & around”! Priest? Only in the sense of the NT “presbyter”! I am an Anglican Low Church guy here…priest-presbyter. Though like Luther, I also practise the Sacrament of “reconcilation”, as before the Lord in forgiveness!

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