It is an unbiblical question to ask in Southeastern Idaho in light of the scriptures that you have in your possession.
Hebrews 6:13 shares with us: “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself.”
And here are two more truths about God.
- God is not unrighteous (Hebrews 6:10)
- It’s impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18 – you really can trust His Word in these days of apostasy.)
A) if God has a father, it does not follow that God’s father is “greater”.
B) this text doesn’t tell us anything about whether or not God has a father, only what the author of Hebrews thought. We have a first century interpretation of Genesis which actually says something that Genesis doesn’t say by explaining why God swears by himself.
C) if God doesn’t lie, what does he think about someone falsely impersonating Paul? 🙂
TT: First, the author of Hebrews does not identify himself as Paul. Second, in the case of other Biblical writings which are possibly pseudoepigraphical, this was an accepted literary device at the time.
A) I am thinking of cultural assumptions. And by using a twist on Jesus’ words in John’s Gospel, which LDS believe that God the Father is not greater than God the Son?
B) Is Genesis the authority over Hebrews? It sounds like you are making a plug for more discontinuity than continuity in Hebrews with its O.T. threads.
C) Hmm . . . you don’t trust the author of Hebrews?
I don’t know what Greg believes, but I tend to surmise that Paul didn’t write Hebrews despite all the similar Greek.
I do find it very important that the author of Hebrews brings up the author of Psalm 95 (4:7) but earlier mentions the author as the Holy Spirit (3:7).
As you know, TT, my foundational premise is that God did not allow deception through any of what the biblical authors wrote. The message of the book of Hebrews is trustworthy.
This is what Hebrews is about, too.
I agree with TT on his first point. Just because our Father has a Father does not make him greater.
In our mortal lives we will have dealings with no greater being than our Father. When we are brought into heaven our Father will remain the greatest authority over us. He has a Father, yes, but his Father is not the greatest where we are concerned.
You’re right that the author doesn’t identify him/herself, but the compilers of the biblical texts certainly do so. Yes, the text’s authorship has been disputed, but my point is that the text represents a particular view, not a universal fact, about the author, or even the nature of God.
Of course pseudepigraphy was an accepted literary device. What does it mean to say that it is a “lie” or not a lie? What are the cultural assumptions we bring to bear on what gets to count as truth? If we accept Todd’s premise that we cannot be deceived by the text, why are we allowed to say that the received text that claims Paul as the author is wrong?
Todd, I am not sure I understand your point about cultural assumptions. In a trinitarian context, God the father is not greater than God the Son. While many LDS are limited subordinationists, claiming that the Son is lesser than the father in some respects, in other respects they are “one.” The issue of whether or not God the Father is “greater” than his Father only raises the question of “greater” with respect to what.
Yes, I am making a claim about discontinuity between Hebrews and Genesis. Hebrews represents an interpretation, one among many, of Genesis. Ultimately, I am not invested in demonstrating “deception” in the text, but rather diversity. It is a recognition that all of our own readings are also partial and interpreted.
And yep, Shem, you have just summarized the dominating cultural assumption in Southeastern Idaho – that there is a Father of the Father among LDS and yet there is no dealings with him.
This underlying assumption needs to be challenged because it affects the community’s view of the Father.
Who is the one lying to us that the Father has a Father? It is definitely not the Father.
“Limited subordinationists” – TT, in your view, how do you see some of those respects?
In Jesus’ subordination, I am focused in on His incarnation and His active & passive obedience. He learned obedience (Heb. 5:8, NASB). “And having been made perfect, He became . . . ” (Heb. 5:9).
And TT, I don’t deny a diversity. Since Easter morning, each consecutive Sunday, I have been reading a different resurrection account to our church family. I am keenly invested in all those unique details. But I can’t deny a God-breathed out uniformity of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and the Johannine message. There is a unique complementing.
And the book of Hebrews marvelously puts the pieces together for O.T. types and shadows.
I guess that I see the common LDS view that Jesus is subordinate temporally (there was a time when Jesus was not embodied, and not fully “God” in the same way as the Father). Yet, in spite of this way of being subordinate, with respect to the divine will, Jesus and the Father are “one.” I this way, I think that the LDS view is closer to Hebrews than the trinitarian view is. There can be no “becoming” or “being made perfect” in the trinitarian view.
Todd, I’m confused. You say that you “don’t deny a diversity” and that you “can’t deny a God-breathed out uniformity.” Which is it?
Yes, Hebrews is a wonderful interpretation. It’s marvelousness is not in question. Rather, the question is whether or not it represents an interpretation, and adds to the text of Genesis, et al. If so, then it provides a model of interpretation that is not limited to the text itself, but can add to it (even by divine inspiration).
As I have shared with my church family, the gospel accounts, other biblical records, and epistles are fully human. Each author has a unique message containing unique purposes for their readers.
But I cannot accept the diversity promoted by such a theologian like Oregonian Marcus Borg, next door. His latest book, Putting Away Childish Things: A Tale of Modern Faith (2010) violates theopneustia and the very faith that the biblical writers are urging.
What does it mean to say that they are “fully human”? If you are suggesting that the texts have a “God-breathed out uniformity,” that “the author as the Holy Spirit,” and that “God did not allow deception,” you don’t seem to mean “fully human” in the way that most people use that term.
TT, Blake would state (I think that I am recalling some of his posting correctly) that the position of Jesus being 100% percent human (without sin) and 100% divine is incoherent. I disagree. I would say it is a divine mystery concerning the uniqueness of this God-Man that we see vividly in Hebrews.
In the same way that I regard the living Word, I consider the full human character (yet without error) in the written word. The biblical autographs are fully human words and fully divine words. There is a mystery in the process of how the holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
I’m not sure that you’re quite understanding Chalcedonian theology here. The notion of Jesus as “fully human” is a statement about ontology, not about character. Besides the fact that this framing of the nature of the biblical text is completely without biblical warrant, I’m afraid that I don’t see any way of applying this theological construct to a text. While we might admit to the mystery of the ways in which Jesus can be ontologically human and divine at the same time, this applies to a temporal instance during the incarnation. To suggest the same applies to the biblical text is incoherent (which I’m afraid doesn’t qualify it as a mystery simply because it is incoherent) since the nature of the text as either of human character (limited, incomplete, historically situated) and divine character (fully universal) is a contradiction. I can hold that Jesus is both ontologically human and divine (having both a human soul and divine soul), but there is simply no way that this idea can be said about a text.
I disagree, TT.
But off the subject of the text, the author of Hebrews utilizes hypostasis. Do you believe in the exclusive hypostatic union of the Christ?
No. I don’t believe there is an ontological division between God and man in the first place.
Do you have any reasons for disagreeing, or is it a mystery?
Todd: I’m pretty much with you on the authorship of Hebrews. I doubt that it was Paul. For what it’s worth, there is a reference at the end which suggests it was written from Rome, and, in terms of structure, it is somewhat similar to the Letter of Clement of Rome to the Church at Corinth.
TT: I have many reasons for disagreeing, the first of which is simply common sense: a “god” who is no more than “an exalted man” in a universe in which spirit and matter are not ontologically different is no god at all. He is the “Q” of Star-Trek fame, or “the man behind the curtain” in the Wizard of Oz. Such a belief system is in fact nothing other than a form of atheism.
Another big reason: the Church is the Body of Christ, a visible, historically continuous entity descending directly and uninterruptedly from Christ and the Apostles, and given the “keys to the Kingdom of Heaven” such that “whatever is bound on earth is bound in heaven” and vice-versa, and, according to Christ, “He who hears you [the Apostles and their successors] hears me.” This is the Church, the only Church, and Christ promised to be with it “until the end of the age.” (Thus, no great apostacy is possible, and if there is no great apostacy, then Joseph Smith was no prophet.) The Church has a Tradition and this Tradition, again going all the way back to Jesus and the Apostles, is the “voice of the Holy Spirit” within this Church. This Tradition provides the only nexus in which the Bible, the cornerstone of this Tradition, can be fully and properly understood. This Tradition, which is infallible, tells us that yes, God is ontologically separate, not only from humanity, but all that is created. This is the basic ontological gulf, between God the uncreated and everything else, which God created.
I’m not really concerned with being accused of being an atheist. Frankly, if God doesn’t meet the standards theologians have set for him, I don’t think he minds either. Besides, early Christians were accused of being atheists for the same reason, so I think I’m in good company.
As for the normative force of “Tradition,” one may certainly accept this as a matter of faith, but it remains only an assertion, one that lacks any historical reality. I’ve written on this: http://www.faithpromotingrumor.com/2009/11/historic-orthodox-christianity/
First, TT, the early Christians were called “atheists” because they refused to worship the Roman pantheon of gods, most especially the Emperor, gods which had more in common with the mormon god than with the Christian God.
History and Orthodoxy: historically, we find a continuity between Christ, the Apostles, and what has come since through all kinds of historical upheavals. Whatever diversity there has been throughout history, it a)was not directly connected with Christ and the Apostles and b)has fallen by the wayside, and, when it reappears, there is no continuity. For instance, there is no historical continuity between the ancient gnostics and today’s neo-gnostics. In terms of faith, this is consistent with Christ’s words concerning the authority and continuity of the Church and its apostolic leadership. You too say you believe the Bible, but you, like the Protestants, deny this continuity, and therefore, for both of you, your self-professed faith in the Bible is compromised.
TT, I have no hard time at all seeing where the Scripture presents a clear ontological divide between Creator and creature.
But it is a deeply stirring mystery to me how the second person of the Trinity would take on the form of the creature he made, and not only that, take on the creature’s ugly sin. It is a flat out mystery of love to me. He learned obedience by the things He suffered. I was never in that category and never will be in that High Priest category of the God-Man.
So yes, the Messiah’s hypostatic union is exclusive. God became man. This is not the same as men and women who are made like Christ or this group that we see in Hebrews 6 who have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit (God).
Greg, not all those within the professing visible Church are truly safe in Christ. Hebrews gives us the warnings. Wow. Look at the warnings. One right after another. But Hebrews is not establishing the superiority of the Old Testament priesthood or N.T. Church hierarchy, the author is asking us to see the one and only Prophet, Priest, and King. And everything is to be tested and compared in the light of Him and His revelation.
Greg: “I have many reasons for disagreeing, the first of which is simply common sense: a “god” who is no more than “an exalted man” in a universe in which spirit and matter are not ontologically different is no god at all. He is the “Q” of Star-Trek fame, or “the man behind the curtain” in the Wizard of Oz. Such a belief system is in fact nothing other than a form of atheism.”
I guess that counts out Jesus being truly human then, doesn’t it? Your assertions are no more than dogma. I don’t believe that God is merely an “exalted man,” but I believe that many of the earliest Christians, including the writer of Mark and Clement believed Jesus was precisely an exalted man.
Greg: “History and Orthodoxy: historically, we find a continuity between Christ, the Apostles, and what has come since through all kinds of historical upheavals. Whatever diversity there has been throughout history, it a)was not directly connected with Christ and the Apostles and b)has fallen by the wayside, and, when it reappears, there is no continuity.”
This is simply historically uninformed. You may adopt it as a matter of faith, but this supposed continuity is easily shown to be historical fiction. If you are asserting that there is some historical continuity of leadership or priesthood from Jesus to modern Orthodox leaders, then I believe that claim is demonstrably false. However, claims of historical continuity need not be made by Mormons because we have a RESTORATION — meaning that there is no historically continuous link in early terms, but only with the heavenly messengers who came to restore what was lost. Christ himself and his apostles came to Joseph Smith — and that is as historically continuous as one could ever hope. if you don’t believe in Joseph’s claims then there isn’t continuity for you — for those of us who are convinced of them, there is more than enough continuity.
Mark it well — it is demonstrable beliefs such as substantial unity of persons in the Trinity is not a belief continuous with what Christ and his apostles taught.
Blake: Jesus is indeed a man, exalted and glorified by his resurrection, but he is also the Second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, Eternally God the Word.
As for the rest of it, the stakes remain the same: no Great Apostacy, no need for restoration. U say, but do not demonstrate, that such an Apostacy occurred. U cannot demonstrate this because it did not occur. Futher, IF it did occur, then the Jesus lied and the New Testament is false, so any “restoration”, no matter HOW it occured, of the religion of Christ would too be false, since Jesus would have already been shown to be a liar.
Regarding the Trinity, the Fathers at Nicea and beyond concluded that this language of “three hypostases, one ousia” best accounts for the Biblical data. they were correct. According to the New Testament, concerning “whatsoever is bound on earth is bound in heaven,” they spoke with the voice of the Holy Spirit. Because you do not accept this, not only is your theology problemmatic, but your antropology as well, since humanity is created in the image and likeness of God. What y’all have done is to take humanity as it appears and projected that back onto God when what needs to happen is that what is known about God needs to inform our understanding of humanity.
Greg: Actually, the apostasy is easy to demonstrate. Do you claim ongoing revelation like God spoke to Peter after Christ’s death to lead his Church? Didn’t think so — just the opinions of a bunch of guys is responsible for your tradition. Just how you suppose Jesus lied if there was an apostasy is really interesting. you’ll have to explain that. But if you have in mind the old canard about the gates of hell not prevailing, it is easy to show that Jesus wasn’t talking about your Orthodox church.
The Fathers at Nicea were wrong about three hypostasis in one ousia — and they were more worried about a political problem than the language of scripture when they did so. No competent biblical scholar or church historian believes that the Trinity as elucidated at Nicea is found in the scriptures or somehow implicit therein — that is why they had all of the arguments in the first place. If they spoke with the voice of the Holy Spirit, then why don’t they make that claim? Why isn’t what they speak by the spirit just scripture like when real prophets stated “thus saith the Lord” and actually claimed to speak by the spirit rather than in the language of scholarship and philosophy?
What ya’ll have done is to take the teaching that humans are created in God’s image and likeness just like Seth was created in Adam’s image and likeness and emptied it of any meaning. Your suggestion that we start with God and work back toward understanding humanity is really interesting in light of the negative theology that dominates your tradition and asserts we can’t say anything at all positive about God. Moreover, God’s essence is total mystery– so starting with God is a non-starter in your tradition.
Well, actually: yes, in a sense, we do believe in on-going revelation. This is, in a sense, what the whole Palamite controversy was about. However, that ongoing revelation, the ongoing experience of God in the Church, must be consistent with what has come before. As I mentioned previously, one definition of the Tradition is “the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church”. We also understand that ordination to the episcopacy brings with it a certain prophetic charism. Linked below is one example of a bishop who clearly functioned charismatically in a very visible and open way. Most do not to this extent, at least not openly. This revelation is usually not a matter of day-to-day direction which would be kind of silly, as demonstrated by any overly-zealous Pentecostal Christian. Further, the gifts associated with such “revelation” are usually only given after a life of vigorous ascetic struggle.
However, wonderworking gifts have never ceased in the Apostolic Churches. The whole point is that the HOLY SPIRIT has protected the Church as a whole from apostacy.
At the same time, however, there is little need for new cognitive revelation. What is needed that each of us encounter the Lord in a way that we are healed, are saved by way of “prayer (which includes liturgical worship and regular participation in the sacramental mysteries), fasting (understood very broadly), and almsgiving”. Signs and wonders are nice, and occur with some regularity, but they are icing on the cake.
But to the main point: yes, if there was an apostacy, Jesus lied. “Gates of hell shall not prevail.” “Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven.” The Church being “the fullness of him [Christ] who fills all in all” and “the pillar and ground of the truth.” “I am with you always until the end of the age,” Jesus says. He also says, “He who hears you, hears me” to the Apostles and therefore, to their successors, the Bishops, as established by the Apostles. We also see the Church acting on this authority in Acts 15.
So yes, IF there was an Apostacy, Jesus lied, and any restoration, even one accompanied by the appearance of “Jesus”, is coming from somewhere other than heaven. (Which is interesting, because in cases of demonic possession, the demon will often characterize God in ways similar to how mormonism describes God, a’la the god of “His Dark Materials” as well as speaking of the universe as a monistic whole in which spirit is a form of matter).
If there was no great apostacy, there is no need for restoration. If there was a great apostacy, no restoration is possible. We should all be Jews or Muslims.
Greg: Wrenching scriptural texts was frowned upon by Jesus. I assume that you’ll acknowledge that none of these texts says anything about the Orthodox — merely that Christ will ultimately prevail — which we Mormons clearly affirm.
If you believe in ongoing revelation, then why isn’t this revelation on par with scripture like those who were really inspired by the Holy Ghost in the New Testament times? Asserting that the Holy Ghost protected the Church from apostasy has no backing and you give me no reason to believe anything of the sort has happened — except for your unsupported claim. Clearly such a claim isn’t made in the NT. So it is ipso facto inconsistent with scripture. I suggest that the Trinity is also inconsistent with scripture — but given all the wrangling that has occurred over the centuries, I’m neither of us will convince the other.
Further, just why day-to-day guidance would be silly because it is somehow Pentecostal is just silly. We could always use day-to-day guidance from prophetic counsel inspired by the gift of revelation.
Greg: “If there was no great apostacy, there is no need for restoration. If there was a great apostacy, no restoration is possible. We should all be Jews or Muslims.”
This is irresponsible. Surely God is still able to speak to his prophets and to give God-breathed scripture. Restoration is not only possible, it has happened. The problem is with those who refuse to listen and instead want to prop up their traditions. The Jews in Christ’s time did the same.
Blake writes: “Wrenching scriptural texts was frowned upon by Jesus.”
First, I’m “wrenching” nothing, and second, the question is not addressed by Jesus. Second, it really feels like you are calling me a liar, Blake. I’m not on the witness stand, so back off, Counselor. However, since you obviously don’t believe me, get a copy of “The Orthodox Church” and compare what I have to say with what Bishop Ware says. Also, if you Google Ware and “The Orthodox Church,” you will find much of the text online. Or go find yourself another Orthodox priest –I’m sure there’s at least one near you, and compare what he says with what I say.
Blake also writes: “I assume that you’ll acknowledge that none of these texts says anything about the Orthodox — merely that Christ will ultimately prevail — which we Mormons clearly affirm.”
THE Church, Blake. Each of these passages speaks of the one Church, not just of Christ prevailing, but of the Church. There is no place for a complete apostasy. Yes, individuals and groups have apostasized, but there has always been a remnant which is visible, structured in a specific way, believing specific things, worshiping in a specific way, and continuous with the Church of all previous generations, back to Christ and the Apostles. Yes, the Byzantines believe their Church is the ONE Church, the Church in question. History, however, indicates that the Byzantines are but one branch of this Church, which is not universally united, but that rather, the universal Apostolic Church is divided into four major branches and several minor branches which have emerged from the major branches. The major branches, all of which were founded directly by Apostles, are the Roman Catholic Church, the Byzantine Orthodox Communion and the Oriental Orthodox Communion, and, finally the Assyrian Church of the East, which, in some ways, is unique, but is therefore, all the more interesting in the ways its beliefs and practices coincide with the other three.
This Assyrian Church of the East, founded sometime in the First Century CE in the Persian Empire, was always more or less separate from the Church within the Roman Empire. As long as Christianity was illegal in the Roman Empire, the Church of the East was largely able to conduct its affairs unmolested under the Persian regime. However, in the Fourth Century CE, Constantine legalized Christianity and eventually, in 376, Theodosios made Christianity the state religion in Roman lands. Therefore, in the Persian Empire, the Church came under some degree of persecution. Now, as it happened, there were few if any Bishops from this Church of the East at Nicea (325) or at Constantinople (381), the latter council being the one at which the Creed was given its current form. However, in the 420s, the Church of the East conducted two internal synods. One of them ratified the Creed and the canons of Nicea and Constantinople. The other synod declared this Church independent of the Church within the Roman Empire. The latter move, of course, was largely motivated by a need to placate the Persian regime, demonstrating to its rulers that the Christian subjects of Persia were loyal citizens, not a Roman Fifth Column. Later on, this Church became associated with “Nestorianism”, thereby further distancing it from the Church in the Roman Empire. However, my point here is simply that had this Church of the East had any reason whatsoever to reject the decisions of Nicea and Constantinople, both held at the behest of the Roman Emperor, including the doctrine of the Trinity as defined by these councils, it would have, but it did not. This Church recognized its own faith, held from time immemorial, in the Creed as we now have it, and therefore, even as it was separating itself from the Church of the Roman Empired, it nevertheless confirmed the faith of that Church, as stated at Nicea and Constantinople.
Having said that, this Church of the East, which still exists, agrees with Rome and with both families of Orthodox, when it comes to: the Creed (without the filioque, of course); the Apostolic succession of bishops; the subordinate ministerial orders of presbyter and deacon; baptism of infants (and, as with the two families of Orthodox, chrismation/confirmation and the communing of infants as well); the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist and the belief that the consecrated bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ and are not just symbols; sacramental confession and absolution; the other sacraments/mysteries, including marriage, the anointing of the sick, and ordination as a sacrament; the communion of Saints such that we may and should seek the intercession of those who are in heaven and that we can and should pray for those who have departed this life, particularly those have fallen asleep professing the faith; the Church as the “pillar and ground of the truth” which, as such, is infallible and indefectable (even though, again, some individuals, and even groups, do fall away). In short, there is a consensus of belief between these branches of the universal Church over against both Protestantism and Mormonism. In some minor areas, the Roman Church differs slightly (and there are also some slight differences in Christologies), but in general, this consensus includes all four branches.
You ask about “continuing revelation” and “new scriptures”. First, let us distinguish between what we might call “primary revelation,” “secondary revelation”, and perhaps, “tertiary revelation.” Primary revelation would be the events in which God has acted, the first in importance being the Christ-event, beginning with the Annunciation and ending with Pentecost. Secondary revelation would be another way of speaking of “the Tradition,” defined, according to K. Ware, as “the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Church” (quoting another BO theologian and passing along a definition that is almost unanimously accepted in Orthodox circles, both Byzantine and Non-Chalcedonian).
Fundamentally, the primary manifestations of the Tradition are: the Bible (the “rule,” or “canon,” “of Scripture” the limits of which are NT received by all Christians and the OT according to the LXX), the Creed (“the rule of Faith”), the Liturgy and other forms of public prayer (“the rule of prayer”), the Church’s ikonography, in which that which is manifested by words in Scripture is manifested, instead, in paint; the Apostolic Succession. The ancient Fathers have no difficulty whatsoever in speaking of each of these as being inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Tertiary revelation would include the witness of the Fathers, which potentially continues until the Parousia and which, at least after a certain point, is primarily concerned with the experience of “putting on Christ” and the pitfalls which would potentially prevent one from doing this. It would also include the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit manifested by Bishops and others, such as the elders of the Russian Church in the 19th Century (such as Seraphim of Sarnov and the elders who came after him) and the Saints in general, many of whom are known as “Teachers” (“Doctors”) of the Church. Well did Pope Benedict speak when he said that the Saints, whether by their teaching, by their lives, or both, provide the best interpretation of Scripture (and the rest of the Tradition).
However, for all that, as I said previously, there is little more, if anything, that is needed at this point in terms of cognitive revelation. What we need is to encounter the Lord such that we are “healed” (“saved”) and are conformed to the image of Christ. This is partially a cognitive process, but it is largely other than cognitive, perhaps especially for those of us who prize our intellects. We do not commune with God by way of the intellect, but by way of the heart, in love. Therefore, all of us are called, to one degree or another, to become “fools for Christ”, like St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Basil of Moscow (this Basil was known as the “conscience” of Ivan the Terrible and was able to call him out as needed and to survive the experience) or St. John Maximovich, the Bishop I referred to previously. This healing experience comes to us through pursuing a life of continuous repentance within the Church, in terms of regular participation in public worship and the mysteries/sacraments and the pursuit of the disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, of which I have spoken previously and about which there is a great deal of material. It inolves working with a spiritual parent or friend, who may or may not be ordained.
Again, pick up “The Orthodox Church.” I have pointed you to St. John Maximovitch, one workerworker Saint who lived on earth in the 20th century. Another worth mentioning would be the Roman Catholic Padre Pio (also, in many ways, another “fool for Christ”.) There are plenty more, including Seraphim of Sarnov, mentioned above. The charismatic gifts have never ceased in the Church and never will. They just ebb and flow. Fr. Stephen Freeman, a priest of the Byzantine Orthodox Church in America, speaks of Orthodox/Apostolic perspective as that of a “one story universe”. Follow the link given, and especially note the extended quote, fairly near the top, from a book called “From the Holy Mountain”.
Further, miracles occur daily. People are healed through the anointing of the sick. Sins are confessed and forgiven, bringing spiritual healing. Bread becomes the Body of Christ, wine becomes the Blood of Christ. People become more Christ-like.
Any fool can stand up and say, “Thus saith the Lord” and many have. Therefore, while we are always open to guidance from God in our daily affairs, we know that it is all too easy to fool ourselves into thinking that some stupid (or not so stupid) idea that originates only with ourselves (or with a spiritual source quite opposed to God) is in fact a product of Divine inspiration. Therefore, in any such case, we consult with a spiritual parent or friend. If necessary, we speak with the Bishop. Like the Divine Persons of the Most Blessed Trinity, “we are members one of another” and we are saved together, but lost alone, by separating ourselves from the Church.
Regarding what I said concerning apostasy, I stand by that completely. If there was a great apostasy (not that there is any evidence for same), Jesus lied and there are blatantly false statements in the rest of the New Testament about the Church. If that is the case, a “restoration” of Christianity is both pointless and futile. There is nothing to restore. BTW, the comparision between the current Church and the Jews is irrelevant. The coming of Christ was a unique event. They (along with the Greeks and the Romans) rejected Him, even as YoU reject His Church. THAT is the real analogy to be drawn here.
Excerpts from Bishop Ware’s “The Orthodox Church”:
The above is the most theologically oriented section. For the first part, which deals with the history of Byzantine Orthodoxy, replace “2” above with “1”.