Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA: From Unchurched Hawaiian to Local Orthodox

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USA OF MY HEART

NATIVE AMERICANS OF MY HEART

HAWAII OF MY HEART

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Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA:

From Unchurched Hawaiian to Local Orthodox

http://journeytoorthodoxy.comHERE

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

I grew up unchurched. I became a Christian in high school through reading the Living Bible. I was active in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at the University of Hawaii. My home church was Kalihi Union Church (KUC), a fine evangelical congregation that was part of the United Church of Christ (UCC).

I was deeply troubled by the UCC’s liberal theology and wanted to help it return to its biblical roots. This led me to study at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary for the purpose of preparing to become an evangelical seminary professor in the liberal United Church of Christ to help the UCC return to its biblical roots.

However, in a surprising turn of events, I became Orthodox!

It was my first week at seminary. As I walked down the hallway of Main Dorm I saw on the door of one of the student’s room an icon of Christ. I thought to myself,

“An icon in a Calvinist seminary!?!”

This was to be the first of many encounters with Eastern Orthodoxy.

After receiving my M.A. in Church History, I did doctoral studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. While there I attended Saints Kyril and Methodios Bulgarian Orthodox Church. I was drawn to the deep mystical worship of liturgical worship that was rooted in the historic Christian Faith. I also felt comfortable with its all-English services and a congregation that was made up mostly of converts. Orthodox worship presents a stark contrast to the emotionally driven entertainment that passes for contemporary Evangelical worship.

My journey to Orthodoxy began when little questions about Protestant theology turned into big questions, and the big questions turned into a theological crisis. Protestant theology holds up so long as one accepts certain premises but becomes problematic when considered from the standpoint of church history and the early Church Fathers. As a church history major I became painfully aware that much of what passes for Evangelicalism: the altar call, the symbolic understanding of the Lord’s Supper, the inductive bible study method, minimalist creed, the rapture, all have their origins in the 1800s.

This means that Evangelicalism is a modern innovation as is Liberalism.

But more troubling was my investigation of classical Reformation theology, e.g., Martin Luther and John Calvin. Two foundational tenets of Protestantism: sola fide (faith alone) and sola scriptura (Bible alone), were not part of the early Church and rely upon reading the Bible in a certain way. Moreover, these two tenets originated out of the theological debates of Medieval Scholasticism. In other words, the Protestant Reformation marks not a return to the historic Christian Faith, but rather a late innovation.

What makes Orthodoxy so daunting to an Evangelical is its understanding that to have the true Faith means belonging to the one, holy catholic and apostolic Church. If the Orthodox Church is the true Church, then that meant that I needed to resign my membership from Kalihi Union Church and become Orthodox. I was received into the Orthodox Church on the Sunday of Orthodoxy in 1999 at Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Honolulu. I am very grateful for what I have learned from Evangelicalism but there is so much more to Christianity. Orthodoxy is the fulfillment of Evangelical theology and worship.

Robert Arakaki, Hawaii, USA

Video: Baptism in Orthodox Monastery in Levin, New Zealand

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NEW ZEALAND OF MY HEART

ORTHODOX HEART

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Baptism in Orthodox Monastery in Levin, New Zealand

AUSTRALIA – ORTHODOX LINKS JOURNEY – 3 VIDEOS WITH THE BLUE MOUNTAINS & KANGAROO ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

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AUSTRALIA & ST PAISIOS OF MY HEART

LINKS JOURNEY

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Australia

Blue Mountains Australia – 4K UltraHD Timelapse

Blue Mountains NSW – Australia

Kangaroo Island, South Australia in HD

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THE ORTHODOX FAITH

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ORTHODOX HEART

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Fr. Seraphim Bell, Scotland & USA:

“I became Orthodox for one reason: Obedience to the Truth”

The Orthodox Faith

Readings on The Church

The Nicene Creed – The Symbol of Faith of Orthodox Christians.
The Orthodox Church – the orthodox teaching, some contemporary questions, and more facts about how the Orthodox Churches are built.
I Believe…: A Short Exposition of Orthodox Doctrine
The Church is One – by Alexei Khomiakov, 1804–1860
Origin of the Orthodox Church
Finding the New Testament Church by Jon E. Braun
Beginning Orthodoxy – Part I | Part II
Where Is the True Church? Information on Churches and Sectarianism – Part I | Part II
Thoughts about the Kingdom of God, or the Church – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

On the Holy Scriptures

Where did the Bible come from?
About the Holy Bible – by Bishop Nathanael (Lvov, 1906-1985)
Understanding the Bible (Part 1)
Understanding the Bible (Part 9) – The Book of Revelation
How to Read the Bible – by Bishop Kallistos Ware
The Gospel Parables – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
The Old Testament in the New Testament Church – by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
The Law of God: The Basics, Old Testament – by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy
The Law of God: The New Testament – by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy
The Law of God: On Faith, Life, Services – by Archpriest Seraphim Slobodskoy
The Sermon on the Mount
The Old Testament Regarding the Messiah
Sermon on the Mount – Matthew chapter 5-7 – by Blessed Theophilact

On Prayer, Worship, Holy Spirit

St. Seraphim of Sarov – On Acquisition of the Holy Spirit
Let us Learn to pray – advices given by Holy Theofan the Recluse
The Divine Services – by Archipriest Seraphim Slobodskoy
The Holy Spirit and His Varieties of Gifts – by Rev. George Mastrantonis
Prayers for Different Occasions

Church Saints & Fathers – lives and words of salvation

The Life and Teachings of Elder Siluan – by Bishop Alexander and Natalia Bufius
Selected Sermons of Saint John of Shanghai and San FranciscoPart I | Part II | Part III
Saint Nektarios of Egina (1846-1920)
Saint John of KronstadtPart I | Part II – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
A Spiritual Portrait of Saint John of Kronstadt – by Archimandrite Constantine (Zaitzev, 1888-1975)
St. Seraphim of Sarov – Life and Teachings
Elder Paisios the New of Mount Athos
Ambrose – Elder of Optina – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant), translated by Seraphim Larin
Articles by Fr. Seraphim Rose
The spiritual life in this world – excerpts from the sermons of Archbishop Sergious (Korolev) of Prague
The martyr of Christ Nun Heruvima – Petru Voda Monastery, Romania
Journey to HeavenPart I & II | Part III – by Saint Tikhon’s of Zadonsk
The Way into the Kingdom of Heaven – by Saint Innokenty Bishop of Alaska
Instructions of the Holy Fathers on Spiritual LifePart I | Part II | Part III – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)

Various Orthodox Readings

Charismatic Revival As a Sign of the Times by Fr. Seraphim Rose
End of the World – an inside look at the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ.
On the Law of God
A Comparison of the Mysticism of Francis of Assisi With That of St. Seraphim of Sarov
At the threshold of Fiery Gehenna – teachings of the Orthodox Church concerning Evil Spirits and God’s Judgment over Them.
From “Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future” – by Seraphim Rose
Dogmas and Opinions – by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky
FAITH — Key to God’s Treasury – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Apologetic Notes – Part I | Part II – by Archpresbyter Father Michael Pomazansky
Rock Music – from a Christian Viewpoint
The Temple of God — an island of Heaven on our sinful earth – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Apologetic Sketches – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
The Great Feast Days of the Orthodox Church
Celibacy, Marriage or “free love”… — Which way to choose? – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Conscience – God’s Voice In Mankind – by Bishop Alexander (Mileant)
Orthodox Psychotherapy – by Dr. Dmitri Aleksandrovici Avdeev
Talks about Faith – by Archbishop Nathanael (Lvov)

What’s Orthodoxy?

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

Back to the First Church

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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.

Source:

http://www.orthodoxphotos.com

ORTHODOX PHOTOS

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 I – Doctrine

    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 II – Worship

    Volume 2 contains 5 sections

  • Volume III – Bible and Church History

    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 IV – Spirituality

    Volume 4 deals with the main themes of Christian Life: prayer, fasting, repentance, the virtues, witness in the world, and communion with God.

Source:

http://oca.org/orthodoxy/the-orthodox-faith

ORTHODOX CHURCH IN AMERICA

9781878997326

These Truths We Hold

The Holy Orthodox Church: Her Life and Teachings

Source:

http://orthodoxyinamerica.org

http://orthodoxyinamerica.org/about_orthodoxy.html

ORTHODOXY IN AMERICA

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:

IS YOUR GRANDMOTHER A FISH? – DR. GEORGIA PURDOM

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CREATION TRUTH ORTHODOXY

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Is your grandmother a fish?

By

Dr. Georgia Purdom

 

According to a soon-to-be published book for young children, a fish and many other animals are your “grandmothers.” The subtitle for the book is “a child’s first book of Evolution.” While the author and illustrator do a good job of simplifying evolution through words and pictures and using terminology that is kid-friendly, it is exactly those points that make the book so deceptive.

Starting with the Familiar

Rather than starting at the beginning of the evolutionary tree of life with a single-celled organism, the author starts with a fish likely because this would be more familiar to young children. The author chose not to use the terminology of “millions of years” but rather states “a long, long, long, long, long time ago” probably because young children don’t have a good understanding of time. In addition, the author uses the term “grandmother” to refer to each animal (i.e., grandmother fish, reptile, mammal) since children would know what a grandmother is but not an ancestor.

Confusing the Issue of Intelligent Behavior

The book compares animal behavior to human behavior for each of the animal grandmothers. This seduces children into thinking because they can do the same types of things they must be related to the animals. For example, “She [Grandmother Fish] could wiggle and swim fast. Can you wiggle?” Well, certainly children can wiggle (every parent can attest to this!), but that doesn’t mean humans are related to fish. It’s no secret that humans and animals have some similar behaviors, but as we have reported many, many times before this isn’t because of shared ancestry. Instead, God designed animals to beintelligent, but their intelligence pales in comparison to that of humans who are made in the image of God.

Missing Evolutionary Transitions

Following the comparative animal-human behaviors for each “grandmother,” children are presented with a small evolutionary tree showing lines connecting that grandmother to the next one. The book connects fish to reptiles, reptiles to mammals, mammals to apes, and, of course, apes to humans. While visually simple, it discounts the millions of mutations that would have to occur by random chance for these transitions to be possible (and the fact that transitional fossils between these organisms are absent).

Following the conclusion of the book is a parent’s guide giving more detailed information about each evolutionary transition presented in the book. For example, grandmother mammal is said to cuddle and parents are told, “They evolved cuddling as part of nursing our young. Both of these behaviors are governed by the ‘cuddle hormone,’ oxytocin.” It seems the author didn’t stop with simplifying evolution for kids; he also wanted to absurdly simplify it for their parents as well.

How Evolution Supposedly Happens

Also in the parent’s guide are explanations of three major points related to evolution: descent with modification, artificial selection, and natural selection. Dogs are used for artificial selection to show that people have bred dogs to achieve dogs with specific traits (of course, traits that already existed in dogs). They conclude this section with, “All the different kinds of dogs come from one kind of dog that lived a long time ago.” Finally, something I can agree with in the book! All dogs did come from the original dog kind created by God on Day Six of Creation Week, approximately 6,000 years ago. I found it interesting that their point about artificial selection is that it results in variation within a certain group of animals (dogs) and yet somehow a similar type of mechanism (natural selection) is supposed to achieve molecules-to-man evolution with one kind of animal evolving into a completely different kind of animal! I honestly hope parents reading the guide will see the obvious problem this creates for evolution and how natural selection cannot be a mechanism.

As with many books on evolution, time is presented as the key. Evolution can do anything and everything with enough time. But it is this simplification presented to both children and parents in this book that is so problematic. As a professional geneticist, I can attest to the fact that time is not the key but rather what is needed is a genetic mechanism that adds new and novel information so that organisms can evolve from fish to humans. The problem is that with all the thousands of papers published on mutations, no such mechanism has ever been observed. Mutations only alter (and many times detrimentally) genetic information that is already present—they don’t add new and novel information of the type that will change one kind of organism into another. All the time in the world is useless if there is no genetic mechanism to add what is needed for molecules-to-man evolution.

Teaching Our Kids the Truth About Our Origins

With its engaging text and illustrations, I’m sure this book will find its way into many public libraries and even school libraries. I challenge parents and others to suggest to their local librarian an alternative book from AiG’s vast resources for children. One of my personal favorites is Dinosaurs for Kids. I always say it should be called “Dinosaurs for Everyone,” because it is a book that will keep the attention of both children and parents and equip them to answer common questions about dinosaurs. Also, be sure to visit the Creation Museum and take advantage of our “Kids Free in 2014.”

While it is sad to see evolutionary resources like this book for children, it is very encouraging to see the many children’s resources (including Answers Bible Curriculum andAnswers VBS) available through AiG that help us teach our kids that the truth about our origins can only be found in the truth of God’s Word.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

SOURCE:

Source:

https://answersingenesis.org

https://answersingenesis.org/answers/

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/georgia-purdom/

http://blogs.answersingenesis.org/blogs/georgia-purdom/2014/07/10/is-your-grandmother-a-fish/

ANSWERS IN GENESIS

Mp3 – The Divine Liturgy in Romani Language (The Language of Rroma) ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* Romani (Rroma)

ORTHODOX ROMA

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http://www.crestinortodox.ro/cantari-bisericesti-audio-mp3/sfanta-liturghie-limba-tiganeasca/

The Divine Liturgy in Romani Language (The language of Rroma)

From the Romanian Patriarchate

THE SACRAMENT OF CONFESSION IN THE EASTERN ORTHODOX CHURCH

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ORTHODOXY IS LOVE

Dreamland by Jason Mordecai

The Sacrament of Confession in the Eastern Orthodox Church

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EX 2×2 LETTERS FROM GREECE

As it says in John 20:23, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the signs of any, they are retained.” This is the power of the presbyter or bishop to remit sins on behalf of God. He mediates for us to God, but only God forgives us our sins. This sacrament is an often misunderstood practice in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Many Protestants and Evangelicals protest that you can only have “God forgive your sins.” But there is a very good reason why we confess our sins to others apart from God: it’s called accountability. One feels more ashamed to commit a sin again, if another knows about it. If one confesses only to God, but no one else, then you can not be helped in fighting your sins properly. You will continue making the same errors, and will have no shame, since it is just your secret you keep to yourself. This means that you are more likely to commit this sin again! God would onto want that. He wants us to be as holy as possible.

This holy sacrament is even prefigured in the Old Dispensation. In Leviticus 5:4-6, it says “… that unrighteous soul, which determineth with his lips to do evil, or to do good, according to whatsoever a man may determine with an oath, and it shall have escaped his notice (or her) , and he shall know, and he sin in some one of these things, then he shall show his sin in the things wherein he hath sinned by that sin. And he shall bring for his transgressions against the Lord, for his sin, an ewe lamb of the sheep, or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him for his sin, which he hath sinned, and his sin shall be forgiven him.” Though we no longer make sin offerings of ewe lambs, we offer our lives and our hearts instead. We do this at the sacrament of confession, just as it was done in the sacrifices of Ancient Israel. The priest today also makes atonement for our sins before God, as well.

Indeed, one can see confession is important, since “whosoever covereth his own ungodliness shall not prosper: but he that blame to himself shall be loved.” (Proverb 28:13) All shall “prosper” from this holy sacrament, since it cleanses one’s conscience and way of life.

Saint Maximos the Confessor says that “Every genuine confession humbles the soul. When it takes the form of thanksgiving, it teaches the soul that it has been delivered by the grace of God.” (Philokalia. Saint Maximo’s the Confessor was born in Constantinople 580 A.D, and died in Tsageri, Georgia, on 13th of August 662 A.D, while he was in exile.) We all know we have been delivered by God when we are forgiven our sins, and we are eased of our burdens and defilement before God. It illuminates the soul, and leads towards the process of our deification.

All can see that human intercession is needed with several verses written in the Bible, “… he shall confess his sin which he hath done, and recompense in full for his trespass…” (Numbers 5:7) There is another instance like this in Nehemiah 9:2-3, “And the sons of Israel separated themselves from every stranger, and stood and confessed their sins, and the iniquities of their fathers… and they confessed their sins unto the Lord, and worshipped The Lord their God.” From this we can see confessing their sins to each other made them more of a unified community, and they helped each other overcome their temptations. Indeed, we must “… make declaration in the house of the Lord…” (Baruch 1:14) If we confess our sins, one to another, we are admitting our faults, and humbling ourselves, giving God all the glory. We also go away in peace, realizing we are all sinners, and that no one is better than another. In Acts 19:18, it says, “Some believers, too, came forward to admit in detail how they had used spells…” This was a putting away of their former wickedness in Christ our Savior. In 1 John 1:9, it says that if we “… aknowledge our sins, He is trustworthy and upright, so that He will forgive our sins and will cleanse us from all evil.”

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, we make confession in the main part of the Church, in front of an Analogion, where a Gospel book and a cross are placed. This is usually near the Iconostasis. The penitent will venerate the Book and Cross, and then kneel before it, while holding his or her right hand in the sign of the cross, and touches the foot of the Cross while making his or her confession. We have to place our thumb and first two fingers of our right hand on the feet of Christ as he is depicted on the Cross. This confession is made before an icon of Christ. The Confessor will warn you not to hold any of your secrets back, and read the Gospel to you. Once you are finished, the priest or bishop will drape his Epitrachelion (stole) on your head, and then read the prescribed prayer of Absolution, asking God to forgive us our sins.

One does not have to be a priest to hear confessions, but only a priest can give absolution. A staret can be one’s spiritual guide, too, which is an old holy man from a Monastery. The one you confess to is your “spiritual father” or “spiritual mother.” An Orthodox Christian tends to confess to one person only, to create a bond with each other. Some people, just confess to their spiritual guide, but ask the priest too read the prayer of Absolution, before receiving Holy Communion.

we must confess our sins at least 4 times a year:

Great Lent

Nativity Fast

Apostle’s Fast

Dormition Fast

But it is preferable if we do it more often [every 2 weeks or every month]. Indeed, all should have this sacrament performed before they receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In the Holy Monasteries, Confession is done every day!

For the clergy, confession is made in the sanctuary, at the Holy Table or Altar. The one difference between lay confession is that, when a priest hears a bishop’s confession, he kneels. This is a sign of humility and reverence before a holy man in authority.

We also perform Mutual Forgiveness, much like it was done in Ancient Israel. The priest does prostrations before e laity three times, and ask their forgiveness for all sins done in deed, thought, word and act. Those that are participating in the Liturgy ask God to forgive the priest’s sins, and then ask that God can do the same for them. On the Vespers of Great Lent, this Liturgy is performed on the Sunday of Forgiveness, which starts the Lenten season.

We must not be ashamed of ourselves in front of others. We all have sinned. Indeed, it says in Wisdom of Sirach 4:26, “Be not ashamed to confess thy sins, and force not the course of the river.” Without a doubt, our tongues must be like rivers when we confess our sins to others, for the edification of one’s self. We must be like the humble tax collector, and not like the arrogant and hypocritical, self-righteous Pharisee, who lifted his head to Heaven, and thanked the Lord for not making him like the tax collector, where as the tax collector did not even lift up his eyes to Heaven, and asked God to forgive him, a sinner! He even hit his chest, which is a sign of humility, and sadness for one’s sins.

One can see in the Orthodox Church that we were given Apostolic authority to forgive and remit sins. In Matthew 18:18, it says, “In truth I tell you, whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven; whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Apostolic authority does not stop at the Apostles, but is hand down to all of the Order of Melchizedek, the Royal Priesthood. The Apostles were, after all, the men who instituted the Church, and were bishops themselves. They chose 7 deacons to go out, as well. A bishop is episkopos in Greek. This means Overseer. A deacon is diakonos in Greek. It means “servant,” “waiting-man,” “minister” and “messenger.” St Stephen was one of the these deacons of the Church. Indeed, one can see that Confession is biblical from, “It is all God’s work; He reconciled us to Himself through Christ and He gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18) This is from God Himself, and we are being reconciled to God through His holy clergy.

In James 5:15-16, it says, “The prayer of faith will save the sick person and the Lord will raise him up again; and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another to be cured; the heartfelt prayer of someone upright works very powerfully.” Indeed, we are all sick from sin, and need to be forgiven and cured. This sacrament is indeed powerful, and is from the apostles themselves.

But we must remember that “… there is only one God, and there is only one mediator between God and humanity, Himself a human being, (in His created human nature and will) Christ Jesus…” (1 Timothy 2:5) This just means that we are forgiven by God ultimately, but humans do intervene to make that possible. God makes their authority possible, after all.

Also, another thing that many Protestants and Evangelicals do not understand about sin is the differentiation between venial and mortal sins. Many of these denominations do not believe in a distinction at all! They argue that all sins are the same, and everyone is equally guilty. But this doctrine has no true biblical precedence. In Luke 12:47-48, it says, “The servant who knows what his master wants, but has got nothing ready and done nothing in accord with those wishes, will be given a great many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but has acted in such a way that he deserves a beating, will be given fewer strokes. When someone is given a great deal, a great deal will be demanded of that person; when someone is entrusted with a great deal, of that person even more will be expected.” This means that those who realized that they have sinned, are more guilty, since they “see.” They do wrong, and realize this, but continue doing it. This would, of course, be logically more censured by God. But those who do not realize they have sinned, are guilty, but not as guilty as those who know the consequences of their actions. Their punishment is lighter.

Venial sins are sins that do not go directly against God with knowledge, but are done with some lack of consent, though not fully. They still have accountability.It does not destroy one’s relationship with God, though, but, with time, if one is not careful about avoiding genial sin, they shall end up committing mortal sin.Mortal sin is when one turns on purpose against God, even though they know what they do is wrong, and begin sinning. This sort of sin is hard to repent from, and leads to arrogance and self-love. There is even this distinction in 1 John 5:16-17, “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to his brother — provided that it is not a deadly sin. There is a sin that leads to death and I am not saying you must pray about that. Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death.” This proves there is sin which leads to Hell, and sins which can easily be repented of. Mortal sin is forgivable, but people who commit mortal sin are usually to arrogant to admit their faults, ask forgiveness, and be healed.

Jesus Christ even said that, “… anyone who infringes even one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the Kingdom of Heaven; but the person who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 5:19) This shows that we are rewarded differently, according to our varying levels of righteousness, and that sinners will be condemned and punished according to their varying levels of wickedness. Redemption, salvation and deification are living, moving things that we attain and obtain over time. It is not a static process. We will never stop growing in the Lord, even after death.

Many Orthodox saints have talked about the Sacrament of Confession.

St John of Kronstadt said: “Let no one think that sin is unimportant – no, sin is a terrible evil, that destroys the soul, both now and in the future life. The sinner in the future life will be bound hand and foot (meaning the soul) and cast into outer darkness… To this must be added the terrible torment arising from the very sins themselves, from the consciousness of our own foolishness during the Earthly life, and from the image of the angry Creator. Even in this present life sin binds and destroys the soul. What God-fearing man does not know what sorrow and oppression strike his soul, what torturing, burning fire rages in his breast when he has sinned. But besides binding and destroying the soul as it does temporarily, sin also destroys it eternally if we do not repent here of our sins… from our whole heart… If it happens to any God-fearing person to go to sleep without having repented of the whole sin, or the sins, he has committed during the day, and which have tormented his soul, these torments will accompany him the whole night, until he has heartily repented of his sin, and washed his heart with tears… The torments of sin will wake him up from sweet sleep, because his soul will be oppressed, bound a prisoner of sin. Now, suppose that the man who has gone to sleep in any sin and is tormented by it, is overtaken during the night by death: is it not clear that his soul will go into the other life in torment, and that as after death there is no place for repentance, he will be tormented there according to the measure of his sins.” (19th Century, in Russia, by the holy Staret John, in his ‘My Life in Christ.’

Our sins are a foreshadowing of the type of tortures in Hell we will receive if we do not receive Confession, and repent of our former sins and way of life. Death comes in so many ways, and we can die at anytime. We must prepare for this. Indeed, in Hell, one is burned by one’s own sin and the love of God, which we can not stand in sin. We bring it upon ourselves. But our virtues are a foreshadowing of what sort of joy and bliss one will have in Heaven, since Heaven is of the Righteous, where one perceives and sees God’s Heavenly Nature in a more clear way than one would on Earth.

Saint Basil the Great said in Rules Briefly Treated, number 288, “It is necessary to confess our sins to those to whom the dispensation of God’s mystery is entrusted. Those doing penance of old are found to have done it before the saints…” God’s saints hear our confessions in church! This is sure proof, that even a holy saint, a Father of the the Church, attests to the fact that Confession is biblical, and has precedence!

Saint John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, in On the Priesthood, Book 3, 5, (386 A.D) says, “…For they who inhabit the Earth and make their abode there are entrusted with the administration of things which are in Heaven, and have received an authority which God has not given to angels or archangels… they who rule on Earth have indeed authority to bind, but only the body: whereas this binding lays hold of the soul and penetrates the Heavens; and what priests do here below God ratifies above, and the Master confirms the sentence of His servants.” (NPNF1, volume 9, page 47.) God has given us great authority to do this, and He has greatly blessed us with this sacrament, even though we are all sinners in His eyes. It is a symbol of His Divine Trust in us, as well as His mercifulness and great love for us.

We must remember our sins. In Romans 3:23-26, it says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is non Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood… that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” This means that only God is truly perfect. Even the angels who have not rebelled against God, who have not sinned, and are perfect, are considered almost imperfect in comparison to His great glory. And we must not forget that Satan used to be Lucifer Star, a holy and beautiful Archangel, who was one of the heads of the Angels, Dominions, Principalities and Powers, but forfeited his place through pride and arrogance, and tempting Adam and Eve to sin by eating from the Tree of Good and Evil. And he had no real reason to sin, since God gave him everything and more! This is why demons, or fallen angels, sin only with spiritual sins, but not the carnal sins, since they are spirits. Only humans sin by carnal sins, as well as spiritual. If the demons, who are spirits, fell, with the temptation of spiritual sins only, how much more us, who are both spiritual and carnal, and have material bodies?

Not that anything material is evil, but that the misuse of things created by God are evil. We Orthodox must not repeat the errors of the Gnostics and the Manichees. For example, sex is good, if used to procreate children, within wedlock between a man and woman. But adultery, pornography, masturbation, homosexualita drape, and other sins, are the misuse of this very good thing. The same goes for the misuse of food, anger, love, etc. The passions are good, but must not be perverted.

So let us Orthodox Christians pray that God will purify us, and make us more like Him, and let us go to Confession as often as possible.

Amen.