HOLY VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Panagia in greek)
Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Mount Athos, Greece
HOLY VIRGIN MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Holy Virgin Mary, Mother of God (Panagia in greek)
Fr. Nikon of New Scete, Mount Athos, Greece
EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH
What is the origin of the different races?
The Bible does not explicitly give us the origin of the different “races” or skin colors in humanity. In actuality, there is only one race—the human race. Within the human race is diversity in skin color and other physical characteristics. Some speculate that when God confused the languages at the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9), He also created racial diversity. It is possible that God made genetic changes to humanity to better enable people to survive in different ecologies, such as the darker skin of Africans being better equipped genetically to survive the excessive heat in Africa. According to this view, God confused the languages, causing humanity to segregate linguistically, and then created genetic racial differences based on where each racial group would eventually settle. While possible, there is no explicit biblical basis for this view. The races/skin colors of humanity are nowhere mentioned in connection with the tower of Babel.
At the Tower of Babel, when the different languages came into existence, groups that spoke one language moved away with others of the same language. In doing so, the gene pool for a specific group shrank dramatically as the group no longer had the entire human population to mix with. Closer inbreeding took place, and in time certain features were emphasized in these different groups (all of which were present as a possibility in the genetic code). As further inbreeding occurred through the generations, the gene pool grew smaller and smaller, to the point that people of one language family all had the same or similar features.
Another explanation is that Adam and Eve possessed the genes to produce black, brown, and white offspring (and everything else in between). This would be similar to how a mixed-race couple sometimes has children that vary in color. Since God obviously desired humanity to be diverse in appearance, it makes sense that God would have given Adam and Eve the ability to produce children of different skin tones. Later, the only survivors of the flood were Noah and his wife, Noah’s three sons and their wives—eight people in all (Genesis 7:13). Perhaps Noah’s daughters-in-law were of different races. It is also possible that Noah’s wife was of a different race than Noah. Maybe all eight of them were of mixed race, which would mean they possessed the genetics to produce children of different races. Whatever the explanation, the most important aspect of this question is that we are all the same race, all created by the same God, all created for the same purpose—to glorify Him.
Source: Elmer L. Towns, Bible Answers for Almost All Your Questions, THOMAS NELSON / 2003 / PAPERBACK
SAINTS OF MY HEART
The Saint of love, forgiveness & discernment:
Saint Jacob Tsalikis of Evia Island, Greece (+1991)
Our age and today’s culture has, unfortunately moved away from the vision and pursuit of sanctity. The Orthodox faith is based on the presence of the saints. Without these, our Church is on the path towards secularization. Naturally, as we know from Scripture, God alone is holy, and sanctity derives from our relationship with Him, and therefore sanctity is theocentric rather than anthropocentric. Our sanctity depends on the glory and the grace of God and our union with Him, not on our virtues. Sanctification assumes the free will of the person being sanctified. As Saint Maximos the Confessor says, all that we bring is our intentions. Without those, God doesn’t act. And Saint John the Damascan repeats that we render honour to the saints ‘for having become freely unified with God and having Him dwell in them and by this participation having become by grace what He is by nature’. The saints didn’t seek to be glorified, but to glorify God, because sanctity means participation in and communion with the sanctity of God.
The source of sanctity in the Orthodox Church is the Divine Eucharist. By partaking of the Holy One, Jesus Christ, we become holy. The ‘holy things’, the Body and Blood of Christ, are given as communion ‘to the holy’, the members of the Church. Sanctity follows on from Holy Communion. The ascetic struggles of the saints are not an aim but a means which leads to the aim, which is Eucharistic communion, the most perfect and complete union with the Holy One. In the Lord’s prayer, the ‘Our Father’, we see that sanctification is associated with the Kingdom of God. We ask that His Kingdom come into the world so that everyone can praise Him and can partake of His sanctity and His glory, which is what we call ‘deification’.
The Kingdom of God and deification are an eternal extension of the Divine Liturgy within space and time, as Saint Maximos the Confessor writes. By taking part in the Continue reading “The Saint of love, forgiveness & discernment: Saint Jacob Tsalikis of Evia Island, Greece (+1991)”
HAVE FAITH – ORTHODOXY
How old is the Orthodox Faith?
If you are a Lutheran, your religion was founded by Martin Luther, an ex-monk of the Roman Catholic Church, in the year 1517.
If you belong to the Church of England, your religion was founded by King Henry VIII in the year 1534 because the Pope would not grant him a divorce with the right to re-marry.
If you are a Presbyterian, your religion was founded by John Knox in Scotland in the year 1560.
If you are a Congregationalist, your religion was originated by Robert Brown in Holland in 1582.
If you are Protestant Episcopalian, your religion was an offshoot of the Church of England, founded by Samuel Senbury in the American colonies in the 17th century.
If you are a Baptist, you owe the tenets of your religion to John Smyth, who launched it in Amsterdam in 1606.
If you are of the Dutch Reformed Church, you recognize Michelis Jones as founder because he originated your religion in New York in 1628.
If you are an Evangelical, your religion was founded in England in 1738.
If you are a Methodist, your religion was founded by John and Charles Wesley in England in 1774.
If you are a Mormon (Latter Day Saints), Joseph Smith started your religion in Palmyra, New York, in 1829.
If you worship with the Salvation Army, your sect began with William Booth in London in 1865.
If you are Christian Scientist, you look to 1879 as the year in which your religion was born and to Mary Baker Eddy as its founder.
If you belong to one of the religious organizations known as “Church of the Nazarene, Pentecostal Gospel,” “Holiness Church,” or “Jehovah’s Witnesses,” your religion is one of the hundreds of new sects founded by men within the past hundred years.
If your religion is the “Workers” who also called “Church Without Name”, “Two by Two Church”, “2×2’s”, “Friends & Workers”, “The Truth”, “Christians”, “The Non-Denominational Church”, “Christian Convention Church”, “The Christian Church”, “No-Name Church”, “The Faith Missioners”, “Nameless House Church”, “The Damnation Army”, “Dippers”, “Go Preachers”, “The Jesus-Way”, “The New Testament Church”, “Pilgrims”, “The Reidites”, “Tramp Preachers”, “The Testimony”, “The Way”, and with at least 20 still concrete names, they was founded in Ireland on 1897 by William Irvine, Edward Cooney and Jack Carroll, for this reason also the are known and as “Cooneyites”, “Irvinites” or “Carrollites”.
If you are Roman Catholic, your church shared the same rich apostolic and doctrinal heritage as the Orthodox Church for the first thousand years of its history, since during the first millennium they were one and the same Church. Lamentably, in 1054, the Pope of Rome broke away from the other four Apostolic Patriarchates (which include Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch and Jerusalem), by tampering with the Original Creed of the Church, and considering himself to be infallible. Thus your church is 1,000 years old.
If you are Eastern Orthodox Christian (Eastern Orthodox Church), your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It has not changed since that time. Our church is now almost 2,000 years old. And it is for this reason, that Orthodoxy, the Church of the Apostles and the Fathers is considered the true “one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.” This is the greatest legacy that we can pass on to the young people of the new millennium.
ORTHODOX HEART SITES
TEXTS – ORTHODOXY
General and specialized clergy
I recently read a book with the theme: “Who are priests?” which supposedly proves that the way the Orthodox Church functions is erroneous. So, I would like to submit some observations on some of the arguments of this book.
* * *
When we want to disprove a viewpoint, it is not proper to write our own theories as to what others believe in, and then disprove that which WE think they believe in. The correct way is to discredit (if possible) that which they actually believe in.
This unacceptable phenomenon is almost always observed with regard to the Orthodox Church: Someone writes a personal theory as to what the Church believes in, and then proceeds to discredit this imaginary dogma. This is what happened in the book I am referring to, so, I must put certain details on this topic in order, so that no false impressions are left behind.
The word “priest” – which we Orthodox maintain that it refers to every Christian – given that all Christians are the “regal priesthood”.
In the Orthodox Church the expression: “specialized clergy” has a METAPHORICAL meaning only. In other words, there is no THEOLOGICAL difference between the terms “specialized” and “general” clergy. In fact, there is no difference whatsoever; because what we call “specialized clergy” is a “function” which, like the so-called “general” clergy, springs from Christ Himself, Who is our only priest.
This is also where the solution lies, to the issue that confuses our Protestant accusers. Christ is the Head of the Church and the Church is His BODY. Consequently, when every Christian becomes “Christened” (“all of you be in one Jesus Christ”), he partakes of the hieratic office of the Lord. But because all Christians are “each others’ members” in the Body of Christ, they have VARIOUS FUNCTIONS within that body. Of this “regal priesthood”, some perform the duties of the Laity (“general clergy”) and others the duties of Deacon, Presbyter or Bishop.
Thus, those who have the duties of the Laity (from where the term ‘liturgy’ = ‘mission for the laity’ is derived) cannot perform the Divine Eucharist without the member that is called ‘Presbyter’ or ‘Bishop’, but equally, NEITHER THE PRESBYTER NOR THE BISHOP can perform the Divine Eucharist without the Laity (as opposed to Papists, with whom Protestants confuse Orthodoxy). That which must be understood, is that the bloodless sacrifice is not performed by the Presbyter or the Bishop, but THE LAITY. The so-called “specialized clergy” is the LAITY’S HANDS in that ritual. During that moment of sacrificing, they offer their sacrifice to God, ON BEHALF OF THE ENTIRE BODY OF THE CHURCH.
At this point, we should respond to another unjust accusation. When we say ‘bloodless sacrifice’ WE ARE NOT performing a repetition of the Lord’s sacrifice. We are offering the Lord a portion of material creation, AS PRIESTS (all Christians); in other words we are offering bread and wine, which is why we Continue reading “General and specialized clergy”
ORTHODOX HEART SITES
Fr. Seraphim Bell, Scotland & USA:
“I became Orthodox for one reason: Obedience to the Truth”
These Truths We Hold
The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings
The following articles on Orthodoxy are from the book, These Truths We Hold – The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings, published by and available from Saint Tikhon’s Seminary Press:
Back to the First Church
Finding the New Testament Church
Written by Jon E. Braun, Edited by Bishop Alexander Mileant
THERE IS A PREDICTABLY RELIABLE WAY to tackle the problem of who is right. Rather than trying to decide which of the over 2,500 Christian groups in North America keeps the original faith best by studying what they are like right now, we can start from the beginning of the Church itself and work our way through history to the present.
The birthday of the Church was Pentecost, the day the Holy Spirit descended on the twelve Apostles in the Upper Room. That day some 3,000 souls believed in Christ and were baptized. When the first Christian community began, “they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread (Communion), and in prayers” (Act 2:42).
From Jerusalem, the faith in Christ spread throughout Judea, to Samaria (Acts 8), to Antioch and the Gentiles (Acts 13), where we find new converts and new churches throughout Asia Minor and other countries of the Roman Empire.
From the pages of the Epistles and the book of Acts, we learn that the Church was not simply another organization in Roman society. The Lord Jesus Christ had given the promise of the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). That promise was fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Church was given birth as an divine institution far above all earthly organizations. In Ephesians (Eph. 2:21) St. Paul called it “a holy temple of the Lord.” The Church was a dynamic organism, the living Body of Jesus Christ. She made an indelible impact in the world, and those who became part of her were inwardly renewed.
But we also discover in the New Testament itself that the Church had her share of problems. All was not perfection. Individuals in the Church sought to lead her off the path the Apostles established, and they had to be dealt with along with the errors they invented. Even whole local communities lapsed on occasion and had to be called to repentance. The Church in Laodicea is a vivid example (Revelation ch. 3). Discipline was administered for the sake of purity in the Church. But there was growth and a maturing even as the Church was attacked from within and without. The same Spirit who gave her birth gave her power to correct and purify her members. The Church grew and became strong until she eventually covered the whole of the Roman Empire.
Origin of the Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church began at Pentecost. It was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ, when after His Ascension, He sent down upon His Apostles the Holy Spirit who proceeds from God the Father as is written in the New Testament. The Orthodox Church of today can trace its history back to the New Testament Church in unbroken continuity. The Apostles, as per our Lord’s command, preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ and founded churches in Europe, Asia and Africa. Under the direction of the Apostles and their successors, whom they appointed to carry on their mission, the Orthodox Church began to thrive. At each city and town that the Apostles traveled they would appoint a bishop to continue to minister to the faithful, before leaving on their missionary journeys. As the Church grew, the bishops in turn had to appoint priests and deacons to help them with their flock.
The Orthodox Faith
Written by Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko
The Orthodox Faith series is intended to provide basic, comprehensive information on the faith and life of the Orthodox Church. It consists of four volumes and is available for purchase from SVS Press.
Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko (1939–2015) was professor of dogmatic theology and served as dean of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Alongside his numerous books and articles, Father Thomas was also renowned as a gifted speaker and homilist.
Volume 1 contains three sections: the sources of Christian Doctrine, the main doctrines of the Orthodox Church present by way of commentary on the Nicene Creed, and an explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity.
Volume 2 contains 5 sections
Volume 3 contains one section on the contents and interpretation of the Bible, and one section on the history of the Church, emphasizing the main theological, liturgical and spiritual development of each century.
Volume 4 deals with the main themes of Christian Life: prayer, fasting, repentance, the virtues, witness in the world, and communion with God.
ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA
FRANCE OF MY HEART
On two types of love
Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris (+1945)
In this world there are two kinds of love: one that takes and one that gives. This is common to all types of love — not only love for man. One can love a friend, one’s family, children, scholarship, art, the motherland, one’s own ideas, oneself — and even God — from either of these two points of view. Even those forms of love which by common consent are the highest can exhibit this dual character.
Take, for example, maternal love. A mother can often forget herself, sacrifice herself for her children. Yet this does not as yet warrant recognition as Christian love for her children. One needs to ask the question: what is it that she loves in them? She may love her own reflection, her second youth, an Continue reading “On two types of love – Saint Maria Skobtsova of Paris (+1945)”