Church Invisible

Ortho_cat

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FountainPen said:
Volnutt said:
FountainPen said:
PeterTheAleut said:
FountainPen said:
PeterTheAleut said:
FountainPen said:
Fotina02 said:
ByGracethroughFaith said:
It has everything to do with the church - and whether it is visible or invisible. Salvation is personal. No one attains salvation by being a part of a certain or particular 'group'. Many would have us all believe this but it is not so. Salvation is personal. We then commune with other believers all of the time.. Anywhere and everywhere.. Members of the Body of Christ. 24 hr/day, 7 day a week church.
Saint Ilarion (Troitsky) quoted earlier points out:
To come to believe in Christ, to become a Christian - this meant uniting with the Church. This is repeatedly expressed in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, where we read that the Lord daily added the saved to the Church (cf. Acts 2:47; 5:13-14).
We don't gather in the visible church to be saved but becuase we are already saved.
How do you define saved?
I don't. The word defines it accurately enough but i daren't provide a source or i'll get accused of proof texting or firing bible bullits. ;)
You do realize I didn't ask you. ;)

Actually, you just showed me that you DO define saved. How do you know, though, that your definition is a complete, biblical understanding of salvation? How do we know if you won't tell us?
Well if we can cut to the chase i suppose we're back to Vol's question suggesting none of us can know if we truly believe or not. I would say that to answer the question is that what we truly believe will be evidenced by the outworking of our faith.
Nope, even atheists can do good works. You won't ever know if your works were done truly for the love of God and neighbor or out of pride (except in that relative sense I was talking about).

Working on your other post.
Since we're talking about those who acton faith, i don't think Atheists are a good example as they would never have faith in Christ to act upon. Separately however, demons also believe and yes, humanists produce good deeds. The ultimate definition of a saved person would be one who has been sealed by the Spirit of God. That's not something you can see though so for those with an emphasis on salvation through the visible church, i doubt that would be an acceptable definition.
yet we work out our salvation in visible ways...by partaking of the sacraments, for example.
 

Asteriktos

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FoutainPen,

I respect that you are here not just to argue for argument's sake, and I'm going to try to give this another shot--hopefully a more thorough one this time.

The reason i can't accept the orthodox position on many issues is simply because i don't accept the visible church. It colours everything i read and makes it impossible to view certain topics any other way.

The church that's being built is a spiritual one. It's all about having the law written on our heart not following the law as the Hebrews used to. It's about what makes a person clean or unclean which is determined by what's in a heart and what flows from a mouth.
I believe the Church to have both visible and invisible elements. My thoughts on this fall into three categories: scriptural, traditional, and philosphical. With regard to the Church being both visible and invisible, this ultimately springs from the relationship of Christians with God. Christians are members of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), but there is some type of connection that goes beyond the physical, for St. Paul says that we are not only one body (which could be interpreted as simply being a category) but also "members one of another." (Rom. 12:5) We also are supposed to "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16),  though often this doesn't seem to be the case. As for the visible element of the Church, I think there is actually more evidence for that than for the invisible connection.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, St. Paul wrote to specific groups of people in specific places (ie. local, visible church communities), so that addresses his epistles "To all that be in Rome" (Rom. 1:7), "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2), and so forth. Jesus also addresses specific churches in the Apocalypse, such as "the church of Ephesus" (Rev. 2:1), "the church in Smyrna" (Rev. 2:8), and so forth.

This Church, it seems to me, was founded by Jesus Christ, who specifically picked twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1-4; 28:16-20; etc.), and was especially close with three of them in particular (Matt. 17:1-9; 26:37; Mk. 5:37). In Matt. 16 we find him explicitly saying he had a church:  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:18-19)

A few things about this passage come to mind. First, this was a public (ie. visible) declaration of the founding of a Church. Second, the power to bind and loose was given, this prerogative being again mentioned in Jn. 20:23. I think this "binding and loosing" makes the most sense, exegetically (taking into consideration this whole post), if we assume a visible Church with visible authorities in charge. There is also mention of "gates of hell". The early Church fathers and writers saw in this phrase numerous things, including 1) worldly persecution, 2) heresies and schisms, 3) corporate and widespread sin in the body of Christ, and 4) personal sin in each of us. If these are accurate understandings of the meaning of the passage, I believe a visible Church structure makes the most sense of how this prophecy would work out practically in the life of the Church.

At the beginning of the Church one of the first things the leaders did was replace the fallen Judas (Acts 1:15-26). They later chose seven deacons to minister to the Church (Acts 6:2-6), so they could focus on their mission. And because their work was essentially missionary, and they often did not stay in one place their whole lives, they would appoint leaders for the local Churches to guide the body of Christ. So for example St. Paul says: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (Tit. 1:5; cf 1 Cor. 7:17).

Strikingly, even though St. Paul received his gospel by divine revelation (Gal. 1:11-12), he still felt the need to verify his teachings with the leaders of the Church. He says: "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Gal. 1:18-19)  Why just these two? Why not the rest of the Church? And even this was not good enough for St. Paul, for he goes on to say: "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain." (Gal. 2:1-2)  So Paul checked a second time, after doing ministry for years, only with the leaders or those "of reputation," to check and make sure he had not run in vain.  

An important early Council was also called (Acts 15) to deal with issues and disturbances, and the leaders of the council seemed to expect their decisions to be followed by the other Christian communities (Acts 15:23-31). Also notice that there were specific leaders--"apostles and elders"--at the Acts 15 council (Acts 15:6-31).  This type of guidance was not only from councils, but also on the local parish level, so we find in Hebrews the words: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Heb. 13:7, 17) Even people who weren't in the Church, but sought truth and salvation, sought guidance, as for example with the Ethiopian eunuch, who when reading the Old Testament was asked by St. Philip: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" and to which he replied: "How can I, except some man should guide me?"

This guidance continued into the early Church, this guidance being protected partly through apostolic succession. It is true that we are all members of the holy temple of Christ (invisibly), and Christ is the chief corner stone, but it is the "apostles and prophets" that are the (visible) foundation (Eph. 2:19-22). So when there was a problem in the Church in Corinth in the late 1st century, St. Clement of Rome advised them that they could not rightly dismiss their leaders since they had done nothing wrong:

The apostles have preached the gospel to us from the Lord Jesus Christ; Jesus Christ [has done so] from God. Christ therefore was sent forth by God, and the apostles by Christ. Both these appointments, then, were made in an orderly way, according to the will of God. Having therefore received their orders, and being fully assured by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and established in the word of God, with full assurance of the Holy Ghost, they went forth proclaiming that the kingdom of God was at hand. And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus says the Scripture in a certain place, I will appoint their bishops in righteousness, and their deacons in faith...

Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ, in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties.

-- St. Clement of Rome, First Epistle to the Corinthians, 42-44
St. Ignatius, writing a decade later, was of an even firmer belief about the importance of the visible leadership, saying things like:

"See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.

-- St. Ignatius, Epistle to the Smyrneans, 8; cf Epistle to the Magnesians, 6 and Epistle to the Trallians, 3
And St. Ignatius, writing at the end of the 2nd century, said that: "we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to our own times" (Against Heresies, 3, 3); and he further said that: "it is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles" (Against Heresies, 4, 26). And for one further reference he says: "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, which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God]." (Against Heresies, 4, 33)

Now, as for a philosophical (or epistemological) reasons, St. Vincent of Lerins brought up one when he pointed out that people argue over the meaning of Scripture, and thus we must follow what tradition and the Church teach when there are disputes (Commonitory, 2). The Church, for him as for all the early Christians, was not a do-it-yourself thing, but something done in community--both the local community, and the larger community of the Church wherever it was in the world. Not only do people with no visible Church have to make a subjective judgment on what traditions to consult and follow, and what Church to be a part of and follow, bu they also have to make an arbitrary decision about what books are in the Scripture. They can only hope that God is guiding them, and that those who disagree are simply misled or misunderstanding the will of God.

If the church were a visible church then it would be easy to tell the wheat from the tares but it isn't easy because we can't see and judge another's heart.
Even though things aren't always clear, we do judge today (1 Cor. 6:4) and will judge even angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Sometimes people are not uprooted, but at other times they are (Tit. 3:10). God knows the end for each of us, and will guide the theanthropic body of Christ to do as it can, should and must for the salvation of our souls.

It seems to me that only the overview of Orthodoxy is different to Protestantism -- the external dogmatic shell. The internal mess seems remarkably similar to how the rest of Christendom claim to be guided by the Spirit and believe a multitude of different things backed up with the odd patristic quote or two from various denominations jurisdictions.
I don't think this is a fair evaluation of either Orthodox doctrine and dogma, or Orthodox history. Perhaps it seems clear to me just because I went a different route (?). I was a biblical studies major at a Protestant school, and after studying history and theology on my own (I never did get to take many actual theology classes there) I came to the conclusion that God had indeed founded a Church, and that it was visible--and I came to this conclusion not just based on history but also on the witness of Scripture. Eventually I found my way into Orthodoxy... and then in and out and in and out and in...  but I think that just makes me better at this kind of post, because I've been there, I've been the devil's advocate, the skeptic, the one arguing against.

I do apologize for the length of this post. I realise people sometimes make long posts as a sort of debate tactic, but that was not my intention here. I just wanted to be as detailed as possible with my thoughts.
 

FatherGiryus

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Let's try a slightly different approach.  Let's think about marriage.

Marriage has visible components: companionship and intercourse being two of the more obvious ones.  Yet, there are also 'invisible' characteristics: love, caring, sharing, etc.

Some people live 'outward' marriages in that they do the physical stuff but their own inward disposition (or at least one of them) is no longer oriented towards the marriage.  However, it is impossible to call a marriage a marriage when the couple refuses to live together, share their material blessings, etc.  It becomes something other than marriage.

Now, take this understanding of marriage and apply it to Christ and the Church: you cannot be part of the Body of Christ if you refuse to share in the common life of the Church, just like in marriage.  St. Paul's letter reflect a common life of all believers, as does the Gospels.  St. Peter splits off over his regret for his denial, but he soon returns.  In marriage, their are moments where the bonds are temporarily broken, but restored through repentance.  Same is true of the Church: someone may lead a sham life in the Church, but they have the opportunity until the Last Judgment to change.

But, you can't say you have intimacy with those whom you refuse to be with.  Our modern world tries to replace intimacy with others by using email, texting, Facebook, IM and many other technologies to replace intimacy.  They don't work. 

An 'invisible church' is like an 'invisible marriage'... both are impossibilities.
 

tangentdi

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I thought I might put a thought forward even though my education in this is not full. (part of why I enjoy reading on here so much. :laugh: ) It occurs to me that there is a good quote from 1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I plead with you, Brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same Judgment."

The Invisible Church has no Divisions for it is full within Christ as he is the Head of that Church. But the Visible Church is spoken of here and we are told to keep no Contentions among us. (in Verse 11 of the same chapter) This could be called part of the main purpose of the Visible Church I think. The visible Church must be "The Pillar and Ground of the Truth." Which when we rely on our own personal Interpretations is very near impossible to achieve because this relies on Human Reasoning which is notoriously Fallible. And the reply, that the Holy Spirit will guide us is not very plausible as a reason because if he Guided each of us with such unerring accuracy there would BE no disagreements among those who stand as their own interpreters. This is how I see the need for the Visible Church, and Holy Tradition.

This is just my thought in the subject. :p

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tangentdi said:
I thought I might put a thought forward even though my education in this is not full. (part of why I enjoy reading on here so much. :laugh: ) It occurs to me that there is a good quote from 1 Corinthians 1:10 "Now I plead with you, Brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same Judgment."

The Invisible Church has no Divisions for it is full within Christ as he is the Head of that Church. But the Visible Church is spoken of here and we are told to keep no Contentions among us. (in Verse 11 of the same chapter) This could be called part of the main purpose of the Visible Church I think. The visible Church must be "The Pillar and Ground of the Truth." Which when we rely on our own personal Interpretations is very near impossible to achieve because this relies on Human Reasoning which is notoriously Fallible. And the reply, that the Holy Spirit will guide us is not very plausible as a reason because if he Guided each of us with such unerring accuracy there would BE no disagreements among those who stand as their own interpreters. This is how I see the need for the Visible Church, and Holy Tradition.

This is just my thought in the subject. :p

TD Andreis
I appreciate that. Thankyou. I'm in agreement with you. The bible actually says there 'should' be no division among us. However, there is.

We grow spiritually through reading, more importantly, hearing the Word. This is how the Spirit works. Through His Word.
 

JamesR

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FountainPen said:
The reason i can't accept the orthodox position on many issues is simply because i don't accept the visible church. It colours everything i read and makes it impossible to view certain topics any other way.
You say it like that is a bad thing. But, this is precisely a good thing because it protects us from adopting millions of heretical views and twisting the faith to match our own view. If it were not for this guidance then we would not be worshipping the true God our Savior Jesus Christ, but would be worshipping the abstract ultra-personal God of our mind. The issue is whether you accept the authority of the visible Church or not.

The church that's being built is a spiritual one. It's all about having the law written on our heart not following the law as the Hebrews used to. It's about what makes a person clean or unclean which is determined by what's in a heart and what flows from a mouth.
I'm having a bit trouble understanding you here, but I'll try to respond to where I think you are coming from, since I am actually a recent convert from Protestantism. The Church being built is a spiritual Church, but it is also physical. The issue is that you are dividing the spiritual and the physical, glorifying the spiritual and demonizing the physical. But this is not so. Jesus Christ redeemed both the spiritual and the physical. And, just as Jesus Christ is fully man and fully God yet still one Being, so we believe that the Church is fully physical yet also spiritual. Both have been redeemed by Jesus Christ and are being used to serve Him. The physical aspect of the Church exists because humans are physical creatures, and if we cannot worship God physically then, pardon my french, we are screwed and hopeless because there is no possible way to worship God. I know that many Protestant groups try to avoid this point by saying things like 'Well we can worship Him through our spirit or spiritually' but, when it all comes down to it, how can you do this unless you use your physical aspect? The way we worship God spiritually is through worshipping Him physically. Our physical actions are what helps us build up our spirit, and we can use our physical actions for this purpose because Christ made it possible by becoming physical Himself. Likewise, the 'visible' or 'physical' Church as you put it also serves the function to help a person develop their spirit. The Church builds you up physically and through the process you are built up spiritually as well. Likewise, going to Church means more to us than just a remembrance or act of worship. It is the Spirit and the Physical being united together, both being used to serve God. How is this done you may ask? I have no idea; it is a Mystery like the Eucharist. Also, you said something about having the law written on our hearts and not following it like the Hebrews did. I find that a bit contradicting, what is the point of having the law written on our hearts if we do not practice it? This is like the whole faith vs. works debate all over again. But, my answer to that is my same answer to this. You cannot have one without the other. If you do not have the law written on your heart then you cannot worthily live out the law, and if you cannot live out the law then you do not have it written on your heart.

So no wonder it's easy for a church who believes themselves to be visible, for them to be able to discern who God has revealed to be made "Saints"...by the guidance of the Spirit of course.
It is even more amazing how a 'Church' that randomly sprang up 1500 years after Jesus Christ think that they can, with the guidance of the Spirit of course, can try to affirm that all Christians up until the 16th century were pagans who worshipped pictures and got everything wrong. I'm sorry if this offends, but as another former Protestant I think I can say this; Protestantism is really mediocre once you convert to Orthodoxy. Converting was the greatest thing that ever happened to me and if I, a dumb 15 year old kid can find God through His true Church, then I see no reason why you cannot either if you are probably smarter and more mature than I am. The truth is that all Churches are visible and make claims, the only difference is that the Orthodox Church can back up its claims with miracles, history and even testimony from the Apostles.

It seems to me that only the overview of Orthodoxy is different to Protestantism -- the external dogmatic shell.
This is entirely false. First, because you cannot even define Protestantism because there are literally thousands of new odd Protestant denominations popping up every day and they all have different beliefs and practices. Heck, if you go into any Protestant Church and show a Bible passage to each member of the congregation I assure you that each of them will give you a different answer. Whereas if you did the same in an Orthodox Parish, they would all either give you a similar answer, or tell you to see what the Church Fathers said about it. Besides that, Orthodoxy and Protestantism are entirely different! I can think of hundreds of doctrinal differences. Theosis, scripture, negative theology, etc. It goes on and on. The only Protestant denomination even remotely similar to Orthodoxy is traditional Lutheranism and the Methodist Church.

The internal mess seems remarkably similar to how the rest of Christendom claim to be guided by the Spirit and believe a multitude of different things backed up with the odd patristic quote or two from various denominations jurisdictions.
The difference is that our Church is guided by the Spirit and our sources are legitimate. Just look at history and you will see why. Most Protestants ignore Christian history up till the 16th century. Getting on topic, the one think that stuck out to me right now was your emphasis on the use of the word 'denomination'. You act as if Orthodoxy is a denomination, but, no, we are not. We are the oldest, original Church, we are pre-denominational because denomination implies a change from the original, but we are the very original. We have nothing to prove' you are the one who has something to prove because the Protestants are the ones who advocated change.
 

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I have to say I think if just reading and hearing were the case then historical facts would line up very differently. Why would people die in acts if the rituals were just that or symbols?  I think part of the measure here has to come from history. The apostles started a church, a physical one whilst being members of a spiritual church. Maybe I'm missing the point (as I think I may be) but it seems to me much of the debate here would be much simpler with a measuring stick grounded in history. Preferably secular history.

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tangentdi said:
I have to say I think if just reading and hearing were the case then historical facts would line up very differently. Why would people die in acts if the rituals were just that or symbols?  I think part of the measure here has to come from history. The apostles started a church, a physical one whilst being members of a spiritual church. Maybe I'm missing the point (as I think I may be) but it seems to me much of the debate here would be much simpler with a measuring stick grounded in history. Preferably secular history.

TD Andreis
Let me guess. The Orthodox church?

 

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ByGracethroughFaith said:
tangentdi said:
I have to say I think if just reading and hearing were the case then historical facts would line up very differently. Why would people die in acts if the rituals were just that or symbols?  I think part of the measure here has to come from history. The apostles started a church, a physical one whilst being members of a spiritual church. Maybe I'm missing the point (as I think I may be) but it seems to me much of the debate here would be much simpler with a measuring stick grounded in history. Preferably secular history.

TD Andreis
Let me guess. The Orthodox church?
Don't take our word for it. Come and see.
 

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Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

ByGracethroughFaith said:
tangentdi said:
I have to say I think if just reading and hearing were the case then historical facts would line up very differently. Why would people die in acts if the rituals were just that or symbols?  I think part of the measure here has to come from history. The apostles started a church, a physical one whilst being members of a spiritual church. Maybe I'm missing the point (as I think I may be) but it seems to me much of the debate here would be much simpler with a measuring stick grounded in history. Preferably secular history.

TD Andreis
Let me guess. The Orthodox church?
Did you have anywhere else in mind? We're open to suggestions ;)

stay blessed,
habte selassie
 

FountainPen

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Asteriktos said:
I believe the Church to have both visible and invisible elements.
That's because it does.

My thoughts on this fall into three categories:
Animal, vegetable and mineral?

scriptural, traditional, and philosphical.
Close.

With regard to the Church being both visible and invisible, this ultimately springs from the relationship of Christians with God.
I think it more accurately 'springs' from the fact that we are not of this world but we are in the world

Christians are members of the body of Christ but there is some type of connection that goes beyond the physical,
There is not "some type of connection" at all. We are spiritual beings in earthly bodies, we are not of the world, it's not just a "connection".
John 15:19 -- If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

for St. Paul says that we are not only one body (which could be interpreted as simply being a category) but also "members one of another." (Rom. 12:5) We also are supposed to "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16),  though often this doesn't seem to be the case. As for the visible element of the Church, I think there is actually more evidence for that than for the invisible connection.
More evidence for a visible body than for the "invisible connection"? I don't agree.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, St. Paul wrote to specific groups of people in specific places (ie. local, visible church communities),
Yes, churches that met regularly together in each others' houses.

so that addresses his epistles "To all that be in Rome" (Rom. 1:7), "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2), and so forth. Jesus also addresses specific churches in the Apocalypse, such as "the church of Ephesus" (Rev. 2:1), "the church in Smyrna" (Rev. 2:8), and so forth.
Many visible churches but one Church (invisible); one body.

This Church, it seems to me, was founded by Jesus Christ, who specifically picked twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1-4; 28:16-20; etc.), and was especially close with three of them in particular (Matt. 17:1-9; 26:37; Mk. 5:37). In Matt. 16 we find him explicitly saying he had a church:  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:18-19)
And where is Peter's church today?

A few things about this passage come to mind. First, this was a public (ie. visible) declaration of the founding of a Church. Second, the power to bind and loose was given, this prerogative being again mentioned in Jn. 20:23. I think this "binding and loosing" makes the most sense, exegetically (taking into consideration this whole post), if we assume a visible Church with visible authorities in charge.
Of course. No one's saying the visible aspects of church aren't important.

There is also mention of "gates of hell". The early Church fathers and writers saw in this phrase numerous things, including 1) worldly persecution, 2) heresies and schisms, 3) corporate and widespread sin in the body of Christ, and 4) personal sin in each of us. If these are accurate understandings of the meaning of the passage, I believe a visible Church structure makes the most sense of how this prophecy would work out practically in the life of the Church.
You're missing the depth in your overall 4 point assesement.

Ephesians 6:4 -- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

This is what fuels "wordly persecution...heresies and schisms...corporate and widespread sin in the body of Christ" and "personal sin in each of us". Therefore the root of the visible "gates of hell" are somewhat invisible.

At the beginning of the Church one of the first things the leaders did was replace the fallen Judas (Acts 1:15-26). They later chose seven deacons to minister to the Church (Acts 6:2-6), so they could focus on their mission. And because their work was essentially missionary, and they often did not stay in one place their whole lives, they would appoint leaders for the local Churches to guide the body of Christ. So for example St. Paul says: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (Tit. 1:5; cf 1 Cor. 7:17).

Strikingly, even though St. Paul received his gospel by divine revelation (Gal. 1:11-12), he still felt the need to verify his teachings with the leaders of the Church. He says: "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Gal. 1:18-19)  Why just these two? Why not the rest of the Church? And even this was not good enough for St. Paul, for he goes on to say: "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain." (Gal. 2:1-2)  So Paul checked a second time, after doing ministry for years, only with the leaders or those "of reputation," to check and make sure he had not run in vain.

An important early Council was also called (Acts 15) to deal with issues and disturbances, and the leaders of the council seemed to expect their decisions to be followed by the other Christian communities (Acts 15:23-31). Also notice that there were specific leaders--"apostles and elders"--at the Acts 15 council (Acts 15:6-31).  This type of guidance was not only from councils, but also on the local parish level, so we find in Hebrews the words: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Heb. 13:7, 17) Even people who weren't in the Church, but sought truth and salvation, sought guidance, as for example with the Ethiopian eunuch, who when reading the Old Testament was asked by St. Philip: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" and to which he replied: "How can I, except some man should guide me?"
People, who need saving, live on earth. The Great Commission is about going out into the world and taking the good news into the communities of this dark world to be a light. All that would be regarded as visible aspects of the church. All of that would need a community to accomplish it and to be accountable to one another while doing so.

Now, as for a philosophical (or epistemological) reasons, St. Vincent of Lerins brought up one when he pointed out that people argue over the meaning of Scripture, and thus we must follow what tradition and the Church teach when there are disputes (Commonitory, 2). The Church, for him as for all the early Christians, was not a do-it-yourself thing, but something done in community--both the local community, and the larger community of the Church wherever it was in the world.
This is where we outwork our faith in local visible church and community.

Not only do people with no visible Church have to make a subjective judgment on what traditions to consult and follow, and what Church to be a part of and follow, but they also have to make an arbitrary decision about what books are in the Scripture.
They would have had to do that during the schism and again when heresies arise later. When several people in authority assert one position and many others in authority assert another, the individuals have to make a decision being guided by the Holy Spirit of course, as to which persons in authority are correct. No church leaders are infallible, which you would agree and when you have a split in the church over an issue, individuals are forced to make a decision.

Even though things aren't always clear, we do judge today (1 Cor. 6:4) and will judge even angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Sometimes people are not uprooted, but at other times they are (Tit. 3:10). God knows the end for each of us, and will guide the theanthropic body of Christ to do as it can, should and must for the salvation of our souls.
We can do nothing to add to the salvation of our souls that Christ has not already done for us.

I don't think this is a fair evaluation of either Orthodox doctrine and dogma, or Orthodox history. Perhaps it seems clear to me just because I went a different route (?). I was a biblical studies major at a Protestant school, and after studying history and theology on my own (I never did get to take many actual theology classes there) I came to the conclusion that God had indeed founded a Church, and that it was visible--and I came to this conclusion not just based on history but also on the witness of Scripture. Eventually I found my way into Orthodoxy... and then in and out and in and out and in...  but I think that just makes me better at this kind of post, because I've been there, I've been the devil's advocate, the skeptic, the one arguing against.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and opinions.
 

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FountainPen said:
Asteriktos said:
I believe the Church to have both visible and invisible elements.
That's because it does.

My thoughts on this fall into three categories:
Animal, vegetable and mineral?

scriptural, traditional, and philosphical.
Close.

With regard to the Church being both visible and invisible, this ultimately springs from the relationship of Christians with God.
I think it more accurately 'springs' from the fact that we are not of this world but we are in the world

Christians are members of the body of Christ but there is some type of connection that goes beyond the physical,
There is not "some type of connection" at all. We are spiritual beings in earthly bodies, we are not of the world, it's not just a "connection".
John 15:19 -- If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

for St. Paul says that we are not only one body (which could be interpreted as simply being a category) but also "members one of another." (Rom. 12:5) We also are supposed to "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16),  though often this doesn't seem to be the case. As for the visible element of the Church, I think there is actually more evidence for that than for the invisible connection.
More evidence for a visible body than for the "invisible connection"? I don't agree.

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, St. Paul wrote to specific groups of people in specific places (ie. local, visible church communities),
Yes, churches that met regularly together in each others' houses.

so that addresses his epistles "To all that be in Rome" (Rom. 1:7), "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth" (1 Cor. 1:2), and so forth. Jesus also addresses specific churches in the Apocalypse, such as "the church of Ephesus" (Rev. 2:1), "the church in Smyrna" (Rev. 2:8), and so forth.
Many visible churches but one Church (invisible); one body.

This Church, it seems to me, was founded by Jesus Christ, who specifically picked twelve disciples (Matt. 10:1-4; 28:16-20; etc.), and was especially close with three of them in particular (Matt. 17:1-9; 26:37; Mk. 5:37). In Matt. 16 we find him explicitly saying he had a church:  "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt. 16:18-19)
And where is Peter's church today?

A few things about this passage come to mind. First, this was a public (ie. visible) declaration of the founding of a Church. Second, the power to bind and loose was given, this prerogative being again mentioned in Jn. 20:23. I think this "binding and loosing" makes the most sense, exegetically (taking into consideration this whole post), if we assume a visible Church with visible authorities in charge.
Of course. No one's saying the visible aspects of church aren't important.

There is also mention of "gates of hell". The early Church fathers and writers saw in this phrase numerous things, including 1) worldly persecution, 2) heresies and schisms, 3) corporate and widespread sin in the body of Christ, and 4) personal sin in each of us. If these are accurate understandings of the meaning of the passage, I believe a visible Church structure makes the most sense of how this prophecy would work out practically in the life of the Church.
You're missing the depth in your overall 4 point assesement.

Ephesians 6:4 -- "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

This is what fuels "wordly persecution...heresies and schisms...corporate and widespread sin in the body of Christ" and "personal sin in each of us". Therefore the root of the visible "gates of hell" are somewhat invisible.

At the beginning of the Church one of the first things the leaders did was replace the fallen Judas (Acts 1:15-26). They later chose seven deacons to minister to the Church (Acts 6:2-6), so they could focus on their mission. And because their work was essentially missionary, and they often did not stay in one place their whole lives, they would appoint leaders for the local Churches to guide the body of Christ. So for example St. Paul says: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee" (Tit. 1:5; cf 1 Cor. 7:17).

Strikingly, even though St. Paul received his gospel by divine revelation (Gal. 1:11-12), he still felt the need to verify his teachings with the leaders of the Church. He says: "Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother." (Gal. 1:18-19)  Why just these two? Why not the rest of the Church? And even this was not good enough for St. Paul, for he goes on to say: "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain." (Gal. 2:1-2)  So Paul checked a second time, after doing ministry for years, only with the leaders or those "of reputation," to check and make sure he had not run in vain.

An important early Council was also called (Acts 15) to deal with issues and disturbances, and the leaders of the council seemed to expect their decisions to be followed by the other Christian communities (Acts 15:23-31). Also notice that there were specific leaders--"apostles and elders"--at the Acts 15 council (Acts 15:6-31).  This type of guidance was not only from councils, but also on the local parish level, so we find in Hebrews the words: "Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation... Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." (Heb. 13:7, 17) Even people who weren't in the Church, but sought truth and salvation, sought guidance, as for example with the Ethiopian eunuch, who when reading the Old Testament was asked by St. Philip: "Understandest thou what thou readest?" and to which he replied: "How can I, except some man should guide me?"
People, who need saving, live on earth. The Great Commission is about going out into the world and taking the good news into the communities of this dark world to be a light. All that would be regarded as visible aspects of the church. All of that would need a community to accomplish it and to be accountable to one another while doing so.

Now, as for a philosophical (or epistemological) reasons, St. Vincent of Lerins brought up one when he pointed out that people argue over the meaning of Scripture, and thus we must follow what tradition and the Church teach when there are disputes (Commonitory, 2). The Church, for him as for all the early Christians, was not a do-it-yourself thing, but something done in community--both the local community, and the larger community of the Church wherever it was in the world.
This is where we outwork our faith in local visible church and community.

Not only do people with no visible Church have to make a subjective judgment on what traditions to consult and follow, and what Church to be a part of and follow, but they also have to make an arbitrary decision about what books are in the Scripture.
They would have had to do that during the schism and again when heresies arise later. When several people in authority assert one position and many others in authority assert another, the individuals have to make a decision being guided by the Holy Spirit of course, as to which persons in authority are correct. No church leaders are infallible, which you would agree and when you have a split in the church over an issue, individuals are forced to make a decision.

Even though things aren't always clear, we do judge today (1 Cor. 6:4) and will judge even angels (1 Cor. 6:3). Sometimes people are not uprooted, but at other times they are (Tit. 3:10). God knows the end for each of us, and will guide the theanthropic body of Christ to do as it can, should and must for the salvation of our souls.
We can do nothing to add to the salvation of our souls that Christ has not already done for us.

I don't think this is a fair evaluation of either Orthodox doctrine and dogma, or Orthodox history. Perhaps it seems clear to me just because I went a different route (?). I was a biblical studies major at a Protestant school, and after studying history and theology on my own (I never did get to take many actual theology classes there) I came to the conclusion that God had indeed founded a Church, and that it was visible--and I came to this conclusion not just based on history but also on the witness of Scripture. Eventually I found my way into Orthodoxy... and then in and out and in and out and in...  but I think that just makes me better at this kind of post, because I've been there, I've been the devil's advocate, the skeptic, the one arguing against.
Thanks for sharing your experiences and opinions.
There is not "some type of connection" at all. We are spiritual beings in earthly bodies,

Buzzzt... Heresy alert !

Jesus Christ was FULLY Human and FULLY Divine both at the same time. Right?... We too are fully human physical beings. It is an error to think of the body as a cast off husk and the "Real you" 100% spiritual. We save the entire being in Christianity, body and soul. 

To say "We are not of this World" does not mean our body is not real or secondary. It means we are not concerned too much with the things of this World and have as our goal eternal salvation.

You are staying consistent with my observation. Everything is a metaphor, a symbol an idea or a Principle. Nothing is concrete or an actually existing manifestation. Our bodies are not the True Person, the Church is "really" invisible. The Eucharist is a mere symbolic memorial.. on and on.

This is what can happen when you discard the teaching authority of The Church and try to interpret scripture all on your lonesome. One error leads to the next.


 

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primuspilus said:
There is not "some type of connection" at all. We are spiritual beings in earthly bodies
Gnostics, party of 1, your table would be ready, but it doesn't really exist......

PP
If you want to see what this can lead to look no further than Christian "Science" and the musings of Mary Baker Eddie.

We are "really" perfect Spiritual Beings. Sickness is an error and not what God intended for us. Therefore , if you say to yourself this wound or illness is an error, I am really a Spiritual Being, it will go away. 
 

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Marc1152 said:
primuspilus said:
There is not "some type of connection" at all. We are spiritual beings in earthly bodies
Gnostics, party of 1, your table would be ready, but it doesn't really exist......

PP
If you want to see what this can lead to look no further than Christian "Science" and the musings of Mary Baker Eddie.

We are "really" perfect Spiritual Beings. Sickness is an error and not what God intended for us. Therefore , if you say to yourself this wound or illness is an error, I am really a Spiritual Being, it will go away.   
Yeah, Chrstian "Science" would be laughable if so many didn't follow that madwoman into their doom. Absolute nonsense. BUT when you cast aside authority, you get 30,000 denominations I s'pose....

PP
 

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FatherGiryus said:
Let's try a slightly different approach.  Let's think about marriage.

Marriage has visible components: companionship and intercourse being two of the more obvious ones.  Yet, there are also 'invisible' characteristics: love, caring, sharing, etc.

Some people live 'outward' marriages in that they do the physical stuff but their own inward disposition (or at least one of them) is no longer oriented towards the marriage.  However, it is impossible to call a marriage a marriage when the couple refuses to live together, share their material blessings, etc.  It becomes something other than marriage.

Now, take this understanding of marriage and apply it to Christ and the Church: you cannot be part of the Body of Christ if you refuse to share in the common life of the Church, just like in marriage.
Agreed.

St. Paul's letter reflect a common life of all believers, as does the Gospels.  St. Peter splits off over his regret for his denial, but he soon returns.  In marriage, their are moments where the bonds are temporarily broken, but restored through repentance.  Same is true of the Church: someone may lead a sham life in the Church, but they have the opportunity until the Last Judgment to change.
Agreed.

But, you can't say you have intimacy with those whom you refuse to be with.
This presents a difficult dilemma because, even though the church outwork their faith in relationships with each other and under accountability and authority (to a degree) of a local visible body, there are times, as you rightly say, that those relationships will be called into question when the truth is at stake.

Our modern world tries to replace intimacy with others by using email, texting, Facebook, IM and many other technologies to replace intimacy. They don't work.
I agreed. Technology is great but not as a replacement for face to face contact and knowing each other rather than merely knowing information about each other.

An 'invisible church' is like an 'invisible marriage'... both are impossibilities.
If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all?
 

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If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible.



Erroneous conclusion. God will save whomever he will save. He can save within what has been reveled to us or he can save someone outside of it as an exception.   That does not make The Church Invisible. The Lord clearly established his Church upon Peter's confession of faith. He promised that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The Church established itself in a visible manner, became organized and as we read in Scripture acted in a concrete and visible manner.

He didnt say:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build an idea, and the gates of hell may or may not prevail against it.

Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?

Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all?

Faith is not a mere "idea". The Church is also not merely an "Idea". God incarnated in a real way into the World. We even celebrated it as a big holiday recently. Why would the incarnation be real and everything else merely be a  thought or a notion?  
 

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Marc1152 said:
Erroneous conclusion. God will save whomever he will save. He can save within what has been reveled to us or he can save someone outside of it as an exception.   That does not make The Church Invisible. The Lord clearly established his Church upon Peter's confession of faith. He promised that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The Church established itself in a visible manner, became organized and as we read in Scripture acted in a concrete and visible manner.

He didnt say:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build an idea, and the gates of hell may or may not prevail against it.
That was part of a wider question/statement to Father Giryus which you've chopped up.

Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
And once again forgive me if i won't engage with you.

Faith is not a mere "idea". The Church is also not merely an "Idea". God incarnated in a real way into the World. We even celebrated it as a big holiday recently. Why would the incarnation be real and everything else merely be a  thought or a notion?  
Where exactly did i use the word "idea" or suggest that it was some kind of idea? I'll answer for you, i didn't.
 

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Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?  Do you have a date?
And once again forgive me if i won't engage with you.
But it is a valid question.

PP
 

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primuspilus said:
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Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
But it is a valid question.

PP
I've already said several times we're not talking about separate churches, it's all one church.
 

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FountainPen said:
primuspilus said:
Quote
Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
But it is a valid question.

PP
I've already said several times we're not talking about separate churches, it's all one church.
I think what Marc is talking about is that in your statements (and I could be wrong) but it is almost as if you believe that the invisible church takes precedence over the visible church.

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FountainPen said:
If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all? [/size]
You are correct in that only Christ knows who is saved and who is not saved. However, consider the following verses from the Gospel of James, 2:14-26:

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
It is not enough for us to have faith, we also must carry out Christ's commandments to love one another and to partake of the sacraments. That is the "works" part of being a Christian. We cannot do the "works" part on our own. You can't "love one another" by yourself. You can't partake of the sacraments by yourself.

The first line of your post, although you don't quote it, essentially refers to Matthew 25:31-32

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.
However, if you keep reading, it goes on to tell us how we are to "love one another":

And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
In terms of the sacraments, Christ commands us in the following verses:

Matthew 28:18-20: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit"

Matthew 26:25-28: "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

John 6:25-69 (I'm providing the link, since it's such a lengthy quote.)


These things can only be accomplished in a real, physical Church.

However, the Orthodox Church does not just see herself as a physical Church, but a spiritual one as well. Every time Divine Liturgy is served, it is not just the communion of the believers present in the physical building that join in worship, but the communion of the saints, the believers who have passed on before us who join us in worship and truth. So the Church is both physical and spiritual.

I hope this makes sense. :)
 

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primuspilus said:
FountainPen said:
primuspilus said:
Quote
Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
But it is a valid question.

PP
I've already said several times we're not talking about separate churches, it's all one church.
I think what Marc is talking about is that in your statements (and I could be wrong) but it is almost as if you believe that the invisible church takes precedence over the visible church.

PP
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
 
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FountainPen said:
primuspilus said:
FountainPen said:
primuspilus said:
Quote
Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
But it is a valid question.

PP
I've already said several times we're not talking about separate churches, it's all one church.
I think what Marc is talking about is that in your statements (and I could be wrong) but it is almost as if you believe that the invisible church takes precedence over the visible church.

PP
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
That is your perception. Part of the reason we have icons in our Church is to remind us of the Communion of Saints and the invisible bodies that surround us.
 
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I would like to share with you some readings from the life of St. Nicholas Planas of Athens, Greece (1851 - 1932). St. Nicholas was known to communicate directly with the Saints. This perhaps will show you how the Orthodox Church is both spiritual and physical.

He was compassionate, and had no care for wordly things or estates. Night and day he was absorbed in divine worship, and with his small parish of St. Panteleimon in Neo Kosmo which was comprised of thirteen families. The people loved him. His simplicity, his island piety, his kindness, his chastity, his lack of love for money, drew everyone to divine worship. Everyone wanted him to bless their homes, their stores. And he ran everywhere joyously. From aristocratic homes down to the poorest homes, he never kept a drachma on him. The poor always waited outside the church for him to distribute whatever he had in his pocket.

However, a certain priest without a parish of his own, in cooperation with the council members of St. Panteleimon, kicked him out of his parish and sent him to the Church of Saint John, ("the Hunter" as they called it then) in Vouliagimeni. The new parish was very poor and was comprised of eight families. His payment as a priest was one piece of meat from the fattened lamb of Meatfare Sunday or Christmas. This did not brother him, however, because fasting was most important in his life. So long as he had a church in which to liturgize, he was happy.

His having been kicked out of St. Panteleimon, however, bothered him a lot. One night, as he was leaving St. John to go home, he was crying on the road. The place was deserted at that hour. Suddenly he saw on his path a young lad said to him, "Why are you crying, Father?"....

"I'm crying, my child, because they kicked me out of St. Panteleimon's."
"Don't be said, Father. I am always with you."
"Who are you, my child?"
"I am Panteleimon, who lives in Neo Kosmo."

And immediately he vanished from in front of him.
Once he set out on his own to go to chapel in Peristeri, but he lost his way. He advanced, distressed and praying, without knowing where he was going, until he saw a young lad in front of him, saying to him, "Did you lose your way, Father? I will guide you." The young lad went in front and Father Nicholas went behind, and they reached the door of the church. Here he, himself, relates what happened: "As soon as we reached outside the door, I turned to give him thanks, and immediately he shone brilliantly, and I lost him."

When he liturgized, he wanted everything to contribute to the majesty of the Divine Liturgy. He chanted with such contrition that he would hear the angels chanting with him. Once, he asked a spiritual daughter of his whether she also heard the angels. "No, my Father, I don't hear them." Immediately he repented and said to himself, "I shouldn't have said it, I shouldn't have said it..."

For the duration of the half century in which he liturgized without a break, he never lacked prosphoro (holy bread used for the Holy Divine Liturgy). Always some woman would bring it the night before or some nearby bakery would provide it for him. One day the Matins (Orthros) had proceeded quite a way and no prophoro could be seen anywhere. He sent helpers to go to the women he knew always had prosphoro; he looked in the cupboards of the sanctury --nothing. He was distressed to the point that he started to cry. After such a continuance of liturgies for a cessation to occur now! Whereupon they saw him coming out of the Holy Royal Doors holding a prosphoro (the Sea only, not the whole loaf), which was still very warm and which he had found on the altar table. Moved with joy, he said, "My children, what a sign God did for me!" All miracles he called signs. He did not delve too deeply into these phenomena; he considered them natural, out of his great faith. And he did not comment very much about them, so as not to put on himself.

One night, the eve of the feast of the Holy Hieromartyr Phocas was dawning. One of his spiritual children saw a majestic priest behind Father Nicholas, who was observing how they were chanting the Holy Divine Liturgy. When she metnioned this to the elder, he said to her, bringing his finger to his lips, "Shhh! It is the Hieromartyr Phocas."
source

So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.

If you attended our services, particularly those of Holy Week, you would see the emphasis placed on the Spiritual.

Do not let your prejudices blind you to what we really believe.
 

biro

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If there is a sense of unity between believers in different places- and there is, because I'm always happy when I walk past a church and it says 'Orthodox' ;)- this is only important because the Church itself is a real, physical thing that exists. The 'invisible' spirit of being brothers and sisters is a reflection of the physical fact of the Church, not the other way around.
 

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No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

FountainPen said:
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
 

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FatherGiryus said:
No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

FountainPen said:
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.
 

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biro said:
If there is a sense of unity between believers in different places- and there is, because I'm always happy when I walk past a church and it says 'Orthodox' ;)- this is only important because the Church itself is a real, physical thing that exists. The 'invisible' spirit of being brothers and sisters is a reflection of the physical fact of the Church, not the other way around.
But Biro, aren't you just happy when you come across another Christian in this world no matter who they are of what part of the church they belong to? It's nice that you feel good about seeing a church building as well but i feel a little sad that you might only rejoice because it says the word 'Orthodox'.
 
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FountainPen said:
FatherGiryus said:
No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

FountainPen said:
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.
This is where the communion of the saints come in.
 

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OK, now we are getting somewhere!

1) To 'walk by faith' for us does not mean that one walks alone.  This walk is an exodus, which is never a solo flight.  The exodus is a communal act. 
2) The subject of Romans is the Church of Rome: he is not speaking to an 'invisible' church but a real, visible community.
3) Faith is not an intellectual process, but rather as one who is 'faithful,' following God.  Again, we understand the argument of circumcised and uncircumcised as matters of a visible Church, a single Body of Christ that is indeed as obvious as the communities which St. Paul founded and wrote letters to.


FountainPen said:
If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all? [/size]
 

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HandmaidenofGod said:
So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.
 

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What do you mean by 'in heaven'?  The reason I ask is that, Scripturally speaking, being 'in heaven' is a temporary estate prior to the Resurrection and return of all.  All are resurrected to live here in the New Jerusalem (c.f. Isaiah 66).

FountainPen said:
FatherGiryus said:
No, not quite... we see them as being part of the same reality, not separated.  This is where our disagreement comes: you separate what is visible from what is invisible, while we perceive them as part of the same reality.

FountainPen said:
No more than the Orthodox church with her visible sacraments and rituals would allow them to take precedence over the invisible nature of the church.
I speak of the different aspects of the church but it's all one church. It's just that some of the people in the visible church won't be in heaven where as all of the people in the invisible church will be.
 

biro

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FP- why do you separate the idea of going to a service from something that can get you into Heaven? Are we not commanded to worship God?
 

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In the Book of Acts, St. Paul usually began his evangelism by starting at the synagogue.  Very early in the history of the Church, dedicated chapels and communities gathered (when not under direct persecution).

The fact is that if you want to find out about the Faith, you have to meet people.  That is how it has always been transmitted.  That's what folks here are encouraging you to do.


FountainPen said:
HandmaidenofGod said:
So you may see our highly decorated vestments, the beauty of our temples and think that we are only focused on the physical, but nothing could be further from the truth.
Can i ask you a question then? What is the main focus of the OC regarding new believers, to go into the world and make disciples or is it to bring people into the church building for a service? I can answer that in the short time i've been on these forums i can count several times someone has encouraged me to attend a service. It's all about the physical church because the Eucharist is there -- i understand that and why it's important for Orthodox people to attend services. However, Jesus' ministry saw Him going out to where people gathered in their own communities and on their own terms to take the good news to them and quite probably in a language they understood too.
 

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FountainPen said:
Marc1152 said:
Erroneous conclusion. God will save whomever he will save. He can save within what has been reveled to us or he can save someone outside of it as an exception.   That does not make The Church Invisible. The Lord clearly established his Church upon Peter's confession of faith. He promised that even the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. The Church established itself in a visible manner, became organized and as we read in Scripture acted in a concrete and visible manner.

He didnt say:

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build an idea, and the gates of hell may or may not prevail against it.
That was part of a wider question/statement to Father Giryus which you've chopped up.

Once again I ask you. When did all that change? When was Scripture rendered moot? When did that organization that we clearly and without question know existed, no longer exist?   Do you have a date?
And once again forgive me if i won't engage with you.

Faith is not a mere "idea". The Church is also not merely an "Idea". God incarnated in a real way into the World. We even celebrated it as a big holiday recently. Why would the incarnation be real and everything else merely be a  thought or a notion?  
Where exactly did i use the word "idea" or suggest that it was some kind of idea? I'll answer for you, i didn't.
Yeah, I do mind..When did The Church founded on Pentecost, spoken of in the Book of Acts and many other places in Scripture disband, cease to exist or become invisible?

It's not a hard question. You dont even need to give an exact date, you can just say something like "around the time of Constantine, "Or when the last Apostle died"

I understand your reluctance. If The Church the one spoken of in Scripture, did not physically cease to exist, then you may find that youre out on a limb.

Where exactly did i use the word "idea" or suggest that it was some kind of idea? I'll answer for you, i didn't.


But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?

So are you trying to say The Church is actually existing but we don't know where it ends or whom it may include? Well, we also say The Church can include people physically outside of it by the grace of God. But it also has an obvious and continuous  physical existence. The organization that was founded on Pentecost still exists as a matter of historical fact. Therefore, when did that Physical part of The Church disband, cease to exist or become invisible?  

Many Protestants say they began their conversion journey into the Orthodox Church when they realized that the original, historic Church still exists. They were so busy being appalled by the Roman Catholic Church that they did not realize they were not seeing the whole picture.



 

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FatherGiryus said:
OK, now we are getting somewhere!

1) To 'walk by faith' for us does not mean that one walks alone.  This walk is an exodus, which is never a solo flight.  The exodus is a communal act.  
2) The subject of Romans is the Church of Rome: he is not speaking to an 'invisible' church but a real, visible community.
3) Faith is not an intellectual process, but rather as one who is 'faithful,' following God.  Again, we understand the argument of circumcised and uncircumcised as matters of a visible Church, a single Body of Christ that is indeed as obvious as the communities which St. Paul founded and wrote letters to.


FountainPen said:
If it is only God that knows who it is He is coming back for, then the ultimate nature of the church is invisible. Surely: it is only by The Spirit that we walk by faith (2 Cor 5:7), He who guides our every thought, word and deed; it's only by faith can we enter; it's only those who are lead by the Spirit of God are sons of God (Rom.8:14); it's only in Christ Jesus, faith (invisible) working through love as neither circumcision nor uncircumcision (visible) matters at all?
Forgive me i don't want to seem like i'm arguing against your knowledge, i know squat compared to you. I find that hard to accept when i read of Peter and Paul's experiences on their faith journey and many others in scripture.
 

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But, Sts. Peter and Paul worked as part of a greater structure!

Remember St. James and the Apostles who remained in Jerusalem?  Did Sts. Peter and Paul ignore them?

The disadvantage we all have when reading the Bible in modern English is that the 'you' that is now used for singular and plural once was only to a group: the epistles were letters to communities, not to individuals.  There is a whole corporate notion that has been lost because we read 'you' as 'to me' the person when it is 'to you all'.


FountainPen said:
Forgive me i don't want to seem like i'm arguing against your knowledge, i know squat compared to you. I find that hard to accept when i read of Peter and Paul's experiences on their faith journey and many others in scripture.

 

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Marc1152 said:
I understand your reluctance.
I'm not reluctant to tackle any points raised, in an effort to understand, as i've shown to the best of my ability. Just not yours.

But you did say Faith was invisible..Right?
No i didn't and you wonder why i won't respond to your questions.
 
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