The Final Letter

Hey there.  Thanks for taking a look at these Letters.  If you’ve looked through past posts and gotten anything out of what I wrote then God bless.  If you haven’t, try going back to the beginning and experiencing the research I went through as I began expressing my conversion story from Protestant to Orthodox, first to family, then to friends, and finally publically.

I’ve been thinking for a while now about what to do with the blog.  I’m now Orthodox, and while I’m very much still working on expressing my thoughts on Orthodox conversion issues, I don’t think that this anonymous platform can get me where I want to go.  At the same time I’m loathe to change things up.  This stands as a nice slice of my life, and I had good reason for presenting things the way I did.  I don’t really want to change that.  The content here is still good content.  I would probably write it differently now, but I stand behind it as is.

So, I’m saying sayonara to this blog.  I’m leaving it in place, as is, for anyone who wishes to look at the content.  I’m moving on to other blogs (yes, plural), podcasts, and other ventures.  I am engaging more heavily in bringing Orthodoxy to the awareness of others as I’m capable.  I’m not going to point off to the other things I’m doing (in the spirit of anonymity), but you can find me easily enough if you really want to.  Chances are you already have and just don’t know it.

Thanks for reading along with me on my journey.  I will still respond to comments, but don’t expect any further posts here.

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The Final Letter

In Defense of Repetition

1631 Book of Psalms
1631 Book of Psalms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I’ve had a few conversations with people who found a distaste for Orthodoxy with a common theme, that of repetition.  You almost have to say it with a captial R, dripping with disdain.  After all, isn’t repetitious worship a major cause of the ills of Catholicism and high church protestantism.  What more do you need than Jesus’ words against “vain repetition” to tell you how destructive it is.  In the charismatic tradition I was raised in we wouldn’t be caught dead engaging in repetitious services.  We would hold only disdain for those poor Christians who actually read through a service book on a Sunday morning.  That’s dead religion.

Well, not so fast.  Allow me to rise in defense of repetition.  The disdain found in most of evangelical protestantism for repetition is as puzzling as it is knee-jerk, and yet this is such a common complaint that almost any convert has probably raised it, and any Orthodox responder has encountered it.  How many protestants of the free worship variety are willing to take an honest look at their own practices and recognize the repetition in them?  How many will take a fresh look at the effects and uses of repetition and see the positive benefits?  Not many, I believe, but this is a mistake.  Protestants who think that repetition is inherently spiritually dangerous and that their own practices are far from repetitious are wrong on both counts.  Rather, repetition is both beneficial and in fact necessary in the Church.

Repetition: By Any Other Name

First, let’s consider the common thought among evangelicals that they are anything but repetitious.  Feeling that extemporaneous actions equal true worship or true relationship, they strive to pray extemporaneously and do unplanned actions during worship.  However anyone who has been an evangelical or been around them for long will quickly realize that the extemporaneous prayer is anything but.  Themes and phrases are repeated.  Tones and patterns are very common.  In fact it’s a common complaint among evangelicals (I know this from first and second hand experience) that their prayer life has become something substandard because they feel it is too repetitious.  Extemporaneousness becomes a burden that’s impossible to bear.  Even when you strive to remove a set structure, or reject structures of the past, new structures blossom in their place.

The same is true with the corporate worship of an evangelical church.  If you are honest, how much actually varies from week to week, or even from year to year?  Sit down any evangelical of some duration and ask them how the order of service at their church will go.  They will be able to give you with some exactness what will happen on Sunday.  I always found it somewhat humorous that even the “unplanned” elements of a charismatic service will fall into a schedule and begin to happen at very consistent times.  I don’t need to belabor this point.  Merely recognizing and accepting that in fact repetition is just as common in evangelical prayer and worship as it is in Orthodox (or Catholic or any highly liturgic church) can help to dispel the automatic negative reaction.

Repetition: A Necessity

Repetition appears to actually be a necessary component in human relationships.  This can be positive or negative.  For someone who has emotional or relational disfunction this might be evident in serial abusive relationship.  In a healthier light a relationship that is functioning properly gains stability through repeated actions and experiences.  In any case you find that repetition is innate to human nature in our interactions with others.  Good or bad, repetition is everywhere.

Even when people intentionally try to remove repetitious elements in their Christian activities they are unsuccessful.  The Reformation saw a beginning of intentional disconnecting with the immediate past, and a process of reinvention that has only sped up over time.  While Luther and Calvin didn’t see themselves as re-imagining Christianity, that is exactly what is attempted by many modern Christians.  In some grander irony, though, intentionally shunning the historical actions of the church and coming up with something “fresh” does not remove repetition.  New traditions arise in their place.  Remove the creed, and a new creed will come up.  Remove old music, and a new standard line up emerges.  Fight the old prayer patterns and lo and behold, there’s a new pattern.  The result of removing a tradition isn’t the removal of tradition, it’s just the loss of the richness of what had been there before.  Orthodoxy has an old, rich soil of worship that has been well cared for.

Repetition is a very hardy breed.  It’s impossible to kill.  It’s something that has been with us as far back as we can see in Scripture.  Old Testament worship was strongly repetitive.  The hymnography of the Hebrews (Psalms) was highly repetitive.  Human nature shows itself to be consistent over long periods of time.  There’s nothing new about those patterns under the sun.  One must come to the conclusion that repetition is inherent in our nature due to its omnipresence.

Repetition: Foundation for Healthy Relationship

While much maligned, repeating activities and actions with a loved one is a great tool for building a relationship.  Any married couple can tell you after some years of marriage how their spouse will act in given situations, and while that is not always seen as a benefit it’s really is the foundation to a relationship, because it provides stability.  While variety provides nice interest, it’s the repetitious elements of a relationship that build connection.  Every time I leave the house I make sure and tell my wife that I love her.  I’ve repeated these words and this actions countless times, and yet my wife has never told me to stop being so repetitive.  “I love you” never ceases to be helpful in maintaining our relationship.  It would be ludicrous, in fact, to insist that terms of endearment must be new every time.  How many widows and widowers take great comfort in remembering the repetitive aspects of their dead spouse’s life.  They remember the way they drank coffee, or read the newspaper, or sang that one song over and over.  Those actions repeated over and over are the connectable ones.

The same is true for God.  If you think that God is impressed by your unique expressiveness then you misunderstand his changeless nature, and the worship structure that he set in place.  If you think that he is turned off by your repetitive actions then you malign the image you were made in the likeness of, that gave you the need for repetition.  The Old Testament shows repetition in worship.  Jesus participated in this repetitive worship structure, and so did the apostles.  Apparently repetition is a hallmark of relationship to God, just the same as it is with humans.  An ever changing worship only results in instability.

One possibility to consider is that while all this attention to finding new expressions of worship and life that is so prevalent in evangelical circles may go a long way to promoting interest, but completely fail at promoting growth.  Growth in the Christian life is not served by a continuous stream of unique experiences, any more than learning is served by this.  As a homeschooling parent I get to see this first hand, and I’m sure teachers would happily concur.  You introduce new concepts to children, but it’s the repetition that let’s them master the concept.  If every school day you just focus on the new, and never look back at older concepts, you will never help that child progress.  Our relationship with God cannot be dumbed down to just education about God, but certainly you can see how frequent, shared, common experiences are a healthy building block for relationships.

Repetition: Aid to Worship

Orthodox worship is repetitious in many ways.  Not in all, to be certain.  You could definitely make the case that Orthodoxy has less repetition than many protestant churches, though that might stagger the imagination.  When you dig into the mechanics of Orthodox worship you’ll be surprised by the amount of variation from day to day to week to week.  However, there is no doubt that many elements of the divine liturgy are repeated.  This pattern is quite Scriptural however.  The worship of Israel was extremely liturgical and repetitious.  Just like Orthodox worship, it has patterns and seasons that occur over time.  Just like Orthodox worship (and protestant too) it has elements repeated every day or week.  Even entire services are repeated every week.  Just like Israelite worship we have feasts, and just like Israelite worship we have fasts.  The similarities between the two are striking.

Let us be clear, however.  This is a good thing!  God instituted this form of worship for good reason.  It promotes healthy worship.  Having a clear pattern to our worship allows us to engage the changeless God in a way that is appropriate to Him, and not focusing on the new and innovative, which promotes us.  The aim of the modern evangelical church is to use modern marketing ideas to attract people.  The aim of ancient Christian worship is to rightly praise God.  Let’s not forget the model par excellence of praise found in Scripture, in Isaiah 6:

6:1 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the sovereign master seated on a high, elevated throne. The hem of his robe filled the temple. 6:2 Seraphs stood over him; each one had six wings. With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and they used the remaining two to fly. 6:3 They called out to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord who commands armies! His majestic splendor fills the entire earth!” 6:4 The sound of their voices shook the door frames, and the temple was filled with smoke.

You can see a mirror image in Revelation 4:

4:8 Each one of the four living creatures had six wings and was full of eyes all around andinside. They never rest day or night, saying: Holy Holy Holy is the Lord God, the All-Powerful, Who was and who is, and who is still to come!”

4:9 And whenever the living creatures give glory, honor, and thanks to the one who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 4:10 the twenty-four elders throw themselves to the ground before the one who sits on the throne and worship the one who lives forever and ever, and they offer their crowns before his throne, saying:

4:11 “You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, since you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created!”

Three huzzahs for repetition.  Better yet, three “Holy”s.  One of the most foundational prayers in Orthodoxy, that you’ll find repeated in most any service and in the private prayers of the faithful, is known as the Trisagion (which is a greek word meanly “thrice holy”) prayer.  In part it says:

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory to thee, our God, glory to thee.

O heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of truth, who art in all places and fillest all things; Treasury of good things and Giver of life: Come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls, O gracious Lord.

Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us.
Holy God, Holy Mighty, Holy Immortal: have mercy on us.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.

All-holy Trinity, have mercy on us. Lord, cleanse us from our sins. Master, pardon our iniquities. Holy God, visit and heal our infirmities for thy Name’s sake.

Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

That is a profoundly beautiful and repetitious prayer.  Notice the obvious patterning of the worship of heaven in it.  It rings with the Holy, Holy, Holy of heavenly worship!  You might also be interested to find out more about the Jesus Prayer.

Repetition: The Ancient Paths

An obvious benefit to repetition is that it aids in memorization.  This seems obvious, but I don’t think many people are also connecting the role of repetition in creating habits, good or bad.  Probably most people have heard that it takes 21 days of repetition to form a habit.  The reality of habit formation is much more complicated.  The duration of repetition to form a habit actually varies highly depending on the task.   The amount of time it requires to form a good habit can be as short as 18 days or as high as 254!  On average, it takes 66 days to reach a good habit plateau for our behaviors.  But for the diligent habit creator, what an amazing benefit a habit provides.  After the habit becomes ingrained it becomes somewhat automatic.  No more thought is required to enact the habit, and it becomes part of your makeup and hard to break.

The Orthodox Church establishes a daily, a weekly, a seasonal, and a yearly pattern to it worship, and given time this habit or worship becomes part of who you are.  The Church is famously conservative in maintaining the pattern of worship and prayer that has been handed down to it.  The liturgy is ancient.  The prayers are ancient.  When you go through the divine liturgy or pray the trisagion, you are echoing the lives of the saints from all ages.  Your worship is their worship.  Your prayer is their prayer.

In Jeremiah 6:16 it says:

The Lord said to his people: “You are standing at the crossroads. So consider your path. Ask where the old, reliable paths are.  Ask where the path is that leads to blessing and follow it.  If you do, you will find rest for your souls.”

Those who rail against the repetitious, the traditional, rail against connecting with those who have done this Christian life before, who know where the reliable paths are.  The modern protestant historical amnesia is one of the great tragedies of Christianity.  If you want to know how to pass along the faith, consider Orthodoxy, which has successfully passed on the faith unbroken for 2,000 years.  It is the envy of all when it comes to teaching the Christian life.  Protestants should take note.

Repetition: Essential to Community

One critique of Protestantism that you’ll hear from Orthodoxy is that it promotes individualism, not community.  I won’t spend time defending that critique, but rather I’d like to point out that repetition is an absolutely critical part of building community.  If you want a group of people to build relationship they must spend time together in shared action.  How can a group of people possibly come together to worship without actions that they all know by heart, and how can they know an action by heart if it is not repetitious.  The more unique an experience or activity is, the less it promotes community among a group.  The word community refers to “those who share things in common.  I’ll assert it again, you cannot have community with repetition.

I find it interesting that inside evangelical communities you can find this desire for communal action bubbling to the surface time and again, and resulting in the re-creation of the very elements of ancient Christianity that are often explicitly denied.  One such element is a creed.  Commonly evangelicals will decry the use of a creed (which is bizarre), and yet they consistently re-create their own creeds over and over (and over and over).  They decry liturgical worship, but they promote it within their own denominations by promoting certain patterns and actions.  They reject written prayers and end up with just as strongly pattern prayers that remain unwritten.  The need for pattern in creed, liturgy, and prayer is unspoken but cannot be suppressed.

Shane Claiborne
Shane Claiborne

And you know, it may not even be so unspoken any more.  Witness the efforts of Shane Claiborne and others to recreate a common experience suitable for western/protestant Christians in their Common Prayer book.  You can even get a pocket edition to take to church with you.  :o)  By the way, I mean no disrespect to Shane.  I own and have read most of his books, and I really appreciate his desire to live rightly with God.  We could all strive to be more like him in that.  I only wish that he would stop trying to recreate monasticism and common experience, and join the continuing life of the Apostolic Church that he obviously longs for.  Shane, come home!

Psalm 136

I’ll leave the matter of repetition now with one of the works of musical beauty inspired by God, in a sense a conversation of God with Himself, which is also a monument to repetition.

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his loyal love endures.

136:2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his loyal love endures.

136:3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his loyal love endures,

136:4 to the one who performs magnificent, amazing deeds all by himself,

for his loyal love endures,

136:5 to the one who used wisdom to make the heavens,

for his loyal love endures,

136:6 to the one who spread out the earth over the water,

for his loyal love endures,

136:7 to the one who made the great lights,

for his loyal love endures,

136:8 the sun to rule by day,

for his loyal love endures,

136:9 the moon and stars to rule by night,

for his loyal love endures,

136:10 to the one who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,

for his loyal love endures,

136:11 and led Israel out from their midst,

for his loyal love endures,

136:12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his loyal love endures,

136:13 to the one who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his loyal love endures,

136:14 and led Israel through its midst,

for his loyal love endures,

136:15 and tossed Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea,

for his loyal love endures,

136:16 to the one who led his people through the wilderness,

for his loyal love endures,

136:17 to the one who struck down great kings,

for his loyal love endures,

136:18 and killed powerful kings,

for his loyal love endures,

136:19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his loyal love endures,

136:20 Og, king of Bashan,

for his loyal love endures,

136:21 and gave their land as an inheritance,

for his loyal love endures,

136:22 as an inheritance to Israel his servant,

for his loyal love endures,

136:23 to the one who remembered us when we were down,

for his loyal love endures,

136:24 and snatched us away from our enemies,

for his loyal love endures,

136:25 to the one who gives food to all living things,

for his loyal love endures.

136:26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his loyal love endures!

In Defense of Repetition

The Problem with Protestant Ecclesiology

Dr. Dan Wallace

I just ran across this article by Dr. Dan Wallace: http://danielbwallace.com/2012/03/18/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/.  Dr. Wallace is a massively huge name in Protestant circles.  In many ways he wrote the book on Koine Greek.  His very obvious difficulties with Protestant schism gives me hope that perhaps one day Dr. Wallace will look for the exit.

Several evangelical scholars have noted that the problem with Protestant ecclesiology is that there is no Protestant ecclesiology. In many denominations—and especially in non-denominational churches—there is no hierarchy of churches responsible to a central head, no accountability beyond the local congregation, no fellowship beyond the local assembly, no missional emphasis that gains support from hundreds of congregations, and no superiors to whom a local pastor must submit for doctrinal or ethical fidelity.

Three events have especially caused me to reflect on my own ecclesiological situation and long for something different.

Read the rest at http://danielbwallace.com/2012/03/18/the-problem-with-protestant-ecclesiology/

The Problem with Protestant Ecclesiology

And Finally, We’re All In

On March 2nd all three of our kids were baptized and chrismated in to the Orthodox Church.  After a journey of a few years, we have all arrived at the Church, and we are very thankful to be here.  The journey of the convert is not an easy one, but it is rewarding at the end.  Now that this journey is over, a whole new one begins.  Now we must continually convert our hearts, taking up our cross, and following our Lord and Savior in His death and life.  I look forward to seeing my entire family grow in Christ-likeness as we pursue the spiritual life together!

And Finally, We’re All In

Clarifying: The Apostolic Faith

One of my best friends read a previous post of mine and came away confused.  Now during subsequent conversation it appears that part of the problem was that he was reading in a hurry, but part of the problem was also that I fired the post off without much time for reflection.  I did not make myself very clear, and so I want to clarify what I was getting at in the previous post.  You can read that first if you want to.

There are lots of ways of discussing the truth.  You can talk about the source of the truth, or the medium through which it is transmitted.  You can talk about the certainty of truth, or the response to truth, but what I was really talking about was the content of the truth.  My statement in the earlier post was that Christianity is a revelation, not a deduction.  I don’t think that is sufficiently clear in communicating what I meant, so allow me to break out three foundational assumptions that I am making that are contained in that statement:

  1. Christianity is the result of a revelation by Jesus, delivered to the apostles.
  2. That revelation was complete.
  3. That revelation was final.

Based on that I would reject any version of Christianity that doesn’t match what the apostles taught.  I would reject any version that intends to expand, complete, revise, or improve what the apostles taught.  However I accept the caveat that there is a distinction made between the fundamental elements of the faith, and those elements which may be cultural or disciplinary.

Protestantism, based on the foundation of Sola Scriptura, has lost conformity with the apostolic faith in many regards, and thus my rejection of it.  Hopefully that made more sense of that last post for anyone who might have been confused.

Now for the quote-alanche.  Here’s why I think it’s important to maintain fidelity to the apostolic faith as a revelation once and for all delivered to the saints:

When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth.  John 16:13

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:18

O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called “knowledge” 1 Tim 6:20

The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Tim 2:2

But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels. 2 Tim 2:23

As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 1 John 2:24

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 3

“Study, therefore, to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles.” Ignatius c. 105. Letter to the Magnesians. Chp. 13

“But I wish now to give you a more accurate demonstration, God helping me, of the historical periods, that
you may see that our doctrine is not modern nor fabulous, but more ancient and true than all poets and
authors who have written in uncertainty.” Theophilus c. 180. To Autolycus, Book III, Chp. 16

“Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.” Ireneaus c. 108. Against Heresies, Book 1, Chp 10

“For it is unlawful to assert that they preached before they possessed perfect knowledge, as some do even venture to say, boasting themselves as improvers of the apostles. For, after our Lord rose from the dead, [the apostles] were invested with power from on high when the Holy Spirit came down [upon them], were filled from all [His gifts], and had perfect knowledge: they departed to the ends of the earth, preaching the glad tidings of the good things [sent] from God to us, and proclaiming the peace of heaven to men, who indeed do all equally and individually possess the Gospel of God.” Ireneaus c. 108. Against Heresies, Book 3, Chp 1

“In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.” Ireneaus c. 108. Against Heresies, Book 3, Chp 3

“Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life.” Ireneaus c. 108. Against Heresies, Book 3, Chp 4

“True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of love, 2 Corinthians 8:1; 1 Corinthians 13 which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God].” Ireneaus c. 108. Against Heresies, Book 4, Chp 33

“In the Lord’s apostles we possess our authority; for even they did not of themselves choose to introduce anything, but faithfully delivered to the nations (of mankind) the doctrine which they had received from Christ. If, therefore, even an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel (than theirs), he would be called accursed by us.” Tertullian c. 197. Prescription against Heretics, Chp 6.

“We hold communion with the apostolic churches because our doctrine is in no respect different from theirs. This is our witness of truth.” Tertullian c. 197. Prescription against Heretics, Chp 1.

“In exactly the same way the other churches likewise exhibit (their several worthies), whom, as having been appointed to their episcopal places by apostles, they regard as transmitters of the apostolic seed. Let the heretics contrive something of the same kind. For after their blasphemy, what is there that is unlawful for them (to attempt)? But should they even effect the contrivance, they will not advance a step. For their very doctrine, after comparison with that of the apostles, will declare, by its own diversity and contrariety, that it had for its author neither an apostle nor an apostolic man” Tertullian c. 197. Prescription Against Heretics, Chp. 32.

“…so that no other teaching will have the right of being received as apostolic than that which is at the present day proclaimed in the churches of apostolic foundation. You will, however, find no church of apostolic origin but such as reposes its Christian faith in the Creator. But if the churches shall prove to have been corrupt from the beginning, where shall the pure ones be found?” Tertullian c. 207. Against Marcion, Chp 21.

“On the whole, then, if that is evidently more true which is earlier, if that is earlier which is from the very beginning, if that is from the beginning which has the apostles for its authors, then it will certainly be quite as evident, that that comes down from the apostles, which has been kept as a sacred deposit in the churches of the apostles.” Tertullian c. 207, Against Marcion, Book 5, Chp 4

“That this rule of faith has come down to us from the beginning of the gospel, even before any of the older heretics, much more before Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday, will be apparent both from the lateness of date 7781 which marks all heresies, and also from the absolutely novel character of our new-fangled Praxeas. In this principle also we must henceforth find a presumption of equal force against all heresies whatsoever—that whatever is first is true, whereas that is spurious which is later in date.” Tertullian c. 213. The Catholic Doctrine… Chp 2.

Clarifying: The Apostolic Faith

Novelty

Novelty, the new, the different has captivated protestantism.  Perhaps captured is the better term.  I’m not sure, but I’ve long thought that there was something wrong when you ask any protestant who their favorite author/speaker is and 99% of the time it will be someone who is currently alive.  Their favorite book will be one that was just published.  Did you hear their latest sermon or ideas?

I was thinking about novelty this morning.  And I thought about the gnostics, going around in the late first early second centuries “fixing” Christianity.  Taking the ridiculous story of Christ and it’s obviously embarrassing ties to reality and correcting it.  In response you have (among others) Ireneaus.  He writes a few treatises that still exist on this topic, and to put a fine point on this response he says, “Your ideas are hog-wash.  We know they are hog wash because they weren’t handed down to us from the apostles.”

Why is that so important that ideas come from the apostles?  That they be traceable?  Because the faith was once and for all delivered to the saints (Jude).

Christianity is a revelation, not a deduction.

If your Christianity wasn’t handed down to you from the apostles (and no, just having a copy of some of their writings emphatically does NOT count), then what you have is the result of deduction and speculation, not revelation.  And that’s important.

Novelty

Similarities With Ancient Judaism

Coin issued by Mattathias Antigonus c 40 BCE.j...

Recently I was thinking some about similarities between ancient Judaism and Orthodox worship and piety.  I came up with this rough list of items.  I wonder if anyone out there would be able to add anything to the list.

Menorah on altar – Exodus 25:31-40
Icons – Dura Europos
8-day – naming – Luke 2:21
40-day – churching (Luke 2:22-40)
Septuagint
Incense – Ex 30, ps 141:2
Altar
priestly garments – ex 28:2-5
praying hours – Acts 3:1 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_prayer
feasts – Church has 12 major feasts per year.
weekly fasts – Mark 2:20, didache – Wed/Fri
Liturgical day starts at sunset
Gospel is processed like Torah
Saturday is still sabbath
Still use psalms as psalter/ tehillim
Bowing during prayers
Praying using set prayers
Dance of Isaiah?

Similarities With Ancient Judaism