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Thursday, March 31, 2011

FOCUSing On the Needs of the Community

As seen from Urban Media Today:

"FOCUS North America is opening a new center in Pittsburgh, PA and it’s all because of the work of Theodora Polamalu, wife of Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu. Mrs. Polamalu serves on the advisory board of FOCUS North America and was committed to bringing FOCUS to the Pittsburgh area. FOCUS, North America and FOCUS Pittsburgh, is a national Orthodox Christian social service that works to empower communities with a number of social services and programs.

Recently, UrbanMediaToday’s Allegra Johnson spoke with Paul Abernathy, the director of FOCUS Pittsburgh about what FOCUS will bring to the Pittsburgh area and what services it will bring to the community.

Allegra Johnson: What is FOCUS North America and FOCUS Pittsburgh?

Paul Abernathy: FOCUS North America is a national Orthodox Christian social service agency. It’s directed at developing programs to address the specific needs of a specific community. FOCUS Pittsburgh is an affiliate of FOCUS North America. FOCUS Pittsburgh was developed because of Theodora Polamalu, wife of Steelers, Troy Polamalu. She is on the national board of FOCUS North America. Theodora stressed a real interest in seeing FOCUS come to Pittsburgh."

To read the rest please visit Urban Media Today.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Jordan Asking For the Return of Possible Early Christian Writings

The link:

There is news out that it might be a fraud. Only time will tell. To know more, check out this link:
Saturday, March 26, 2011

Deleted a Link

I just deleted The Ochlophobist link from my Orthodox blog Roll.

We never got along, and that blog will only have thirty something days of life left anyway, and so I thought why wait till then. Why not sever the link now. I'm not gonna link to his new site either, for my blog is mostly religious in content, and my economic views are anywhere from moderate regulated Capitalism to medieval Distributism. I am not a Marxist and I will not support a Communist blog. Some people hate rich and middle class folk. I don't understand the hatred. I really don't. We can't force people to share their wealth. Nor should we force them to live a certain way. Not only that, but killing 25% of the population is horrifying. I'm not gonna bash him, but I also in good conscience can't support his new direction. And so it's lights out!
Thursday, March 24, 2011

Have you looked at Blogger lately?

The new thing for 2011 is going to be their next-generation user interface. They show snippets of it towards the end of the video. The new interface will also make use of Google's Web Toolkit.

Irresistible Grace and Synergy

Augustine taught a severe view of the fall before the Pelagian controversy. If one remembers, the whole thing started when Pelagius either read or heard something from Saint Augustin: "Give me what you command and command what you will". This is how the controversy started. And so I wonder what Philip Schaff meant by "developed"? Does he mean his view being hardened by the controversy? If so I agree 100%ly! Or does he mean adding more ideas in support of it? Well, probably that too! We know that Saint Augustine first started to change his mind around the year 396A.D. I forgot the exact dates of the Controversy, but it was around the range of 405A.D. to about 418A.D. My favorite works of Saint Augustine were around 410A.D. to 412A.D. his determinism was pretty mild in his middle years, but towards the end of the Pelagian Controversy his determinism got worse

(From Richard's site.......our homie Maximus Scott did all the quotes)
The link:

"Philip Schaff 1819-1893

The Augustinian system was unknown in the ante-Nicene age, and was never accepted in the Eastern Church. This is a strong historical argument against it. Augustine himself developed it only during the Pelagian controversy; while in his earlier writings he taught the freedom of the human will against the fatalism of the Manichaeans. (History of the Christian Church VIII The Theology of Calvin § 112. The Calvinistic System

Alister Mcgrath

The main external threat to the church, particularly during the second century, appears to be pagan or semi-pagan fatalism, such as Gnosticism, which propagated the thesis that humans are responsible neither for their own sins nor for the evils in the world. It is quite possible that what some consider to be the curious and disturbing tendency of some of the early fathers to minimise original sin and emphasise the freedom of fallen humanity is a consequence of their anti-Gnostic polemic. While it is true that the beginnings of a doctrine of grace may be discerned during this early period, its generally optimistic estimation of the capacities fallen humanity has led at least some scholars to question whether it can be regarded as truly Christian in this respect.

The pre-Augustinian theological tradition is practically of one voice in asserting the freedom of the human will.

While there is still uncertainty concerning the precise nature of Gnosticism, it may be noted that a strongly fatalist or necessitarian outlook appears to be characteristic of the chief Gnostic systems. Far from recognizing the limitations of humanity’s free will, many early fathers enthusiastically proclaimed its freedom and self-determination (autoexousia)…God cannot be said to force the free will, but merely influence it. While God does not wish people to do evil, He cannot compel them to do good. (Iustitia Dei: A History of the Christian Doctrine of Justification, pg. 34-35)

To read the rest please visit
Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Man, the Fall, Free-Will, and Grace

The Link:
Monday, March 21, 2011

What is Determinism?

I'm going to quote a few books and websites about the issue:

Hard Determinism

With this scenario in mind, let's define hard determinism. First, the fundamental assumption of hard determinism is the principle of universal causality: every event has a sufficient cause and is part of an unbreakable causal chain with a very long(perhaps infinite) history. Second, hard determinism has a distinctive understanding of a free act: namely, a free act is one that has no cause and thus no causal history.

It takes very little logical skill to see what follows from these two claims. If every event has a cause and a free act has no cause, then clearly there are no free acts. And this is exactly what hard determinists readily conclude. We are not free, they claim; and moreover, we are not responsible for our actions. Consequently, one deserves neither blame nor praise for one's actions, since all actions are the necessary result of natural law.

We can put the argument connecting freedom and moral responsibility more explicitly:

Premise 1: If we are morally responsible for our actions, then we must be free.
Premise 2: We are not free.
Conclusion A: Therefore, we are not morally responsible for our actions.

This is a valid argument. That is to say, the conclusion follows logically from the premises by way of the valid argument form modus tollens. If the premises by way of the valid argument form modus tollens. If the premise are true, then the conclusion must be true as well. It is important to emphasize that the conclusion is true if the premises are true. If the premises are true and the argument form is a valid one, then the argument is sound. Note that all sound arguments are valid, but not all valid ones are sound. Hard determinists believe both premises to be true, so they take this argument to be both valid and sound. In denying that we are free, the hard determinist does not mean to deny that all of us have a subjective sense of freedom-we feel we are free. So in the scenario described above, Jonny and his friends experience certain psychological states such as thoughts and feelings, including the feeling that they could have chosen not to vandalize the cars. But the sense of freedom and the feeling that the choices they made were up to them are illusory. In reality, all of their feelings and the resulting choices were determined by factors long before Jonny and his friends were born. Their actions are part of a causal chain that stretches back indefinitely into the past and unbreakably forward into the future. They could not have made any other choice than to steal the hood ornaments. In view of this, the hard determinist will insist, the police chief has no rational grounds to blame them morally or to scold or punish them. Of course, the chief is also determined in his thoughts, feelings and actions, and it may be that the causal chain is so constituted that he inevitably will punish them. After all, if no one is free and responsible for his her actions, then the chief is no freer to behave differently than are the young hoodlums he is determined to punish. [1] pages 102-103

Soft Determinism (Compatibilism)
Now let's turn to soft determinism. The driving motivation behind this view is twofold. First, this view accepts the principle of universal causality and therefore holds that all things are determined. Indeed, the soft determinist is no less committed to determinism than the hard determinist is. It's important to underscore this point because the term "soft determinism" can be misleading to readers unfamiliar with it. The term suggests to them a partial or halfhearted determinism, a sort of quasi-determinism. These impressions need to be put aside so the reader can clearly understand that all things are rigorously determined according to this view.
So what is the difference between soft and hard determinism? The difference is in the second motivation that drives soft determinism. In addition to affirming universal causality, soft determinists also believe that we are responsible for our actions, and they agree that we must be free in some sense if this is the case. In other words, soft determinists want to affirm both complete determinism and freedom. The position is also called compatibilism because it holds that freedom and determinism, contrary to what hard determinists and libertarians claim, can be compatible. It is easy for the reader who has never encountered these concepts to get confused and to be misled. To avoid this confusion, the reader must realize that soft determinists define freedom differently than both libertarians and hard determinists. Clearly, if a free act has no cause, as hard determinists claim, then we cannot coherently affirm both that there are free acts and that everything is causally determined. Just as clearly, if a free act has no sufficient cause prior to its occurrence, as libertarians say, then we cannot coherently hold both that there are such free acts and that all things determined by prior causes and conditions.
Fortunately for soft determinists, they are guilty of no such incoherence. They offer a very different account of freedom, one that is carefully crafted to ensure that it is compatible with determinism. More specifically, they define an act as free if it meets there conditions:

It is not compelled or caused by anything external to the agent who performs it.
However, it is caused by something internal to the agent who performs it, namely, a psychological state such as a belief, a desire or more precesely, a combination of these two.
The agent performing it could have acted differently, if the agent had wanted to do so.

Although this definition seems rather straightforward, we will offer a few more words of explanation. First, to say an act is compelled or caused by something external to the agent is to say that the act was forced against his will. For instance, suppose someone picked you up, carried you into a voting booth and forced your hand to push a button indicating a vote for the notorious politician Mack E. Velley. This would not qualify as a free act because it would violate the first condition.

Second, an act is free if it has the right sort of immediate cause - in particular, a psychological state internal to the agent. Now given the thesis of determinism, these psychological states are themselves caused by prior conditions and states of affairs. Indeed, given those prior conditions and states are even possible. Something external to the agent ultimately caused these internal psychological states, but at the time of the act, these thoughts, desires and so on are owned by the agent in such a way that she willingly acts on them. In other words, the agent is merely acting in character when she chooses as she does. Her character determines her choices, and she could not will or act otherwise, given her character. But it is still the case thast she acts as she wishes, out of the beliefs and desires that she has been caused to have and the character that has accordingly formed.

Finally, we must keep these points in mind to understand the third condition for a free action in the soft determinists definition, or else we may be misled by the condition concerning the agents's ability to have acted differently if she had wanted to do so. The crucial point to keep in mind is that the agent could not want to do otherwise than she in fact does. If the agent had wanted to do differently, she could have done so, but it was impossible for her to want to do differently, she could have done so, but it was impossible for her to want to do differently, given the prior causes and conditions that strictly determined her psychological states and character. Still, soft determinists have formulated a definition of freedom that is compatible with strict determinism. So they can't be fairly faulted on this score. The question is whether their view of freedom is an adequate one. Is it enough if the three conditions spelled out above are met? [2] 107-109

To be continued............

[1] pages 102-103,[2] pages 107-109 from the book Why I am not a Calvinist by Jerry L. Walls and Joseph R. Dongell

Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse: Translated by Dr. Jeannie Constantinou

Get a PDF copy today!
The Link

The book form will be out soon!
Sunday, March 20, 2011

St. Gregory Palamas - 2nd Sunday of Lent

As seen from the podcast Speaking the Truth in Love by Fr. Thomas Hopko

Play Audio

Related to this issue:

God: Essence and Energies

The Concept of Divine Energies by David Bradshaw

The Distinction Between
Essence and Energies
and its Importance for Theology
by Christos Yannaras

St. Gregory Palamas, on the divine energies

The Bradshaw Papers

Notes on the Palamite Controversy by John S. Romanides

Metropolitan kallistos Ware talks about Saint Gregory Palamas, Apophatic Theology, and the Essence vs Energies distinction from J norm on Vimeo.

(Apophatic Theology)
Saturday, March 19, 2011

Beyond the Veil Podcast

The link:

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Differences: Semi-Pelagianism, Rome, Orthodoxy, Arminianism, and Calvinism

As seen from the Theologica Forums.

Thanks, I hope he doesn't mind if I interact with it. I agree with what he said about the first one (Pelagianism). I disagree slightly with the second. And it goes back to what I said previously.



All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water. Their legs are cramping and they cannot swim to safety on their own. However, they may desire salvation on their own. Though they cannot attain it, they can call, with a wave of their arm, to God who is eagerly waiting on the edge of the boat. At the first sign of their initiative, God will then throw out the life preserver (grace). If they respond, they will be saved (synergism)."

What I underlined is where the common flaw is. If he said "However, some may desire salvation on their own. Though they cannot attain it, they can call, with a wave of their arm, to God who is eagerly waiting on the edge of the boat. At the first sign of their initiative."

If he said it like that then it would of been extremely accurate. If we paint the picture that everyone was able to take the first initiative. Then we distort their view. Saint John Cassian gave the example of the thief on the Cross that was able to take the first initiative, he also said some things about prayer in regards to King David and the first initiative. But he gave other examples of people in Scripture of where that wasn't the case. In his other examples he shows how God took the first initiative. And when we look at what he had to say elsewhere in the infamous 13th constitution/conference we see that he makes use of Augustine's idea of God taking the first initiative. As seen from the Conferences:

"From which we clearly infer that the initiative not only of our actions but also of good thoughts comes from God, who inspires us with a good will to begin with, and supplies us with the opportunity of carrying out what we rightly desire: for "every good gift and every perfect gift cometh down from above, from the Father of lights,"

But he didn't see that as being the case for all people. When we look at Canon 8 of the local western council of 2nd Orange we see this:


CANON 8. If anyone maintains that some are able to come to the grace of baptism by mercy but others through free will, which has manifestly been corrupted in all those who have been born after the transgression of the first man, it is proof that he has no place in the true faith. For he denies that the free will of all men has been weakened through the sin of the first man, or at least holds that it has been affected in such a way that they have still the ability to seek the mystery of eternal salvation by themselves without the revelation of God. The Lord himself shows how contradictory this is by declaring that no one is able to come to him "unless the Father who sent me draws him" (John 6:44), as he also says to Peter, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 16:17), and as the Apostle says, "No one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:3)."

The Canons of 2nd Orange often attack Saint John Cassian and what he said in various places in the Constitutions/Conferences. But they also rejected double Predestination and they advocated a doctrine of Synergy after Regeneration. As seen from 2nd Orange:

"CANON 13. Concerning the restoration of free will. The freedom of will that was destroyed in the first man can be restored only by the grace of baptism, for what is lost can be returned only by the one who was able to give it. Hence the Truth itself declares: "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed" (John 8:36).

As well as in the conclusion:
"According to the catholic faith we also believe that after grace has been received through baptism, all baptized persons have the ability and responsibility, if they desire to labor faithfully, to perform with the aid and cooperation of Christ what is of essential importance in regard to the salvation of their soul."

And so they brought Free Will back (which is something the Reformed don't do). This is why 2nd Orange is called moderate Augustinianism. Or what I sometimes call Semi-Augustinian.

(going back to read what he said about Rome and EO)

Ok, I slightly disagree with what he said about us.

Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy

All people are in the water drowning. They are born drowning. This is the natural habitation of all humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water. Their legs are cramping and they cannot swim to safety on their own. God, standing on the edge of the boat, makes the first initiative by throwing a life preserver to them (prevenient grace). Upon seeing this act, they make a decision to grab a hold (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, God will slowly pull the rope connected to the life preserver. But they must do their part by swimming along with God’s pull (grace plus works; synergism). If at any time they let go or quit swimming, they will not be saved.

1.) We don't see anything wrong with visible things or the physical world in general being used as a means of grace. And so what maybe seen as works to some Protestants is seen as Grace to us.

2.) Salvation in both Rome and Orthodoxy is dynamic(I was saved, am being saved, and will be saved). It is not a one time event and so when looking at how we see things one must not only look at what happens before Water Baptism(Regeneration), but also after as well, all the way to our very last breath. For that is when the race is over.

3.) From what I know about Rome, they not only believe in the Augustinian doctrine of Total inability, but they also believe Grace(I'm ignoring the issue of created grace vs uncreated grace) to precede every human animation, and so it would be inaccurate to say grace plus works. As seen from 2nd Orange, we know that the Christian West eventually advocated the view that free will was restored and Rome believes in grace infused works or works prompted by grace. It's a very Augustinian idea. Also, when looking at Rome, you have to be careful for She has multiple schools of thought when it comes to the issue of Grace and Free Will. And so you would have to look at the various schools of thought within Rome. That's if one wants to be as accurate as possible.

a.) Augustinian school of thought

b.) Thomistic school of thought

c.) Congruent school of thought

d.) Molinistic school of thought

4.) Orthodox Christianity doesn't like to use the term Prevenient grace, even though we made use of the Latin term in the 17th century. We don't believe in different species of Grace. And so the differences is in regards to each individuals depth in the Grace of God. We believe God's Grace to not only be everywhere, but we also believe it permeates all things. There is no place in where God's Grace is not. And so there is no place our wills can exist in where His Grace is not already present. And so when we make use of the latin term "Prevenient", it has to be looked at within this context. And so our understanding of Synergy is one of simultaneous co-operation.

Acts chapter 17:27-28 "so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring."

However, in every day speech it is difficult to communicate in a way that would express simultaneity.

(Going back to read what he had to say about Arminianism)

Quote: Arminianism
All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be intervention if they are to be saved. God uses his power to bring every one of them back to life (prevenient grace), but they are still in the water and in danger of drowning. With the regenerated ability to respond to God, now God throws the life preserver to them and calls on them all to grab hold of it. They then make the free-will decision on their own to grab a hold of the life preserver (faith) or to swim away. If they grab a hold, they must continue to hold as God pulls them in (synergism). They don’t need to do anything but hold on. Any effort to swim and aid God is superfluous (sola fide). They can let go of the preserver at any time and, as a consequence, lose their salvation.

Ok, I slightly disagree in some areas. There are different forms of Arminianism and so I would just say that for most Classical Arminians, especially the modern free will Baptists. One can loose their salvation if they loose faith. Other Classical Arminians believe in a form of Once Saved Always Saved. James Arminius himself was unsure about the issue.

For the Wesleyan and Charles G. Finny Holiness Arminians one can loose their salvation not only by a lose of faith, but also by bad fruit as well. There is a Justification through Sanctification within these schools of Arminian thought. Other than that I'm pretty much in agreement with what he said up above.

(Going back to read what he had to say about Calvinism)

Quote: Calvinism
All people are floating in the water dead in their natural condition (total depravity). They are born dead because that has been the condition of humanity since the first man and woman jumped into the water and died (original sin). Death begets death. There must be radical intervention if they are to be saved. While God calls out to all of them (general call), due to his mysterious choice, he brings back to life (regeneration) only certain people (election) while passing by the rest (reprobation). He does not use a life preserver, but grabs a hold of the elect individually and immediately pulls them onto the boat (monergism). They naturally grab a hold of God as a consequence of their regeneration (irresistible grace; sola fide). They forever stay on the boat due to their perpetual ability to recognize God’s beauty (perseverance of the saints)."

One Question. I could be wrong, but I thought some Calvinists believe in an active reprobation? Especially the High Calvinists? Other than that I pretty much agree with what he said up above. Well wait, he should of added C.P.R. along with individually pulling a select number of individuals out. That way, after the C.P.R. they would be able to naturally respond back.

Dave Z said:

CMP offers definitions and illustrations here.

Jesus, Paul and the People of God: A Theological Dialogue with N.T. Wright

As seen from website:
(April 17th)
Edith Humphrey Glimpsing the Glory—Paul's Gospel, Righteousness and the Beautiful Feet of N.T. Wright
watch video | download audio | download video

(April 16th)
N.T. Wright Jesus and the People of God: Whence and Whither Historical Jesus Studies and the Life of the Church | 7:00p
watch video | download audio | download video

(April 17th)
N.T. Wright Paul and the People of God: Whence and Whither Pauline Studies and the Life of the Church | 7:00p
watch video | download audio | download video

To listen to the other speakers, please visit

An Excellent Article!

As seen from the Washington Post:

"Jonah’s insistence that his church address the pressing issues of the day is a gauntlet thrown down before the feet of his fellow Orthodox leaders, and it has not sat well with the OCA’s governing bodies. In the last week of February, Jonah faced a revolt among his own bishops at a conclave in Santa Fe, N.M. According to an OCA news release, Jonah kept his job but was relieved of several duties and sent on a two-month retreat during Lent.

In reporting on the Santa Fe meeting, the news Web site Orthodox Christians for Accountability — an opposition voice against Jonah — assailed Jonah’s “leadership style, decisions, practices or actions.” Although many of the decisions in question had to do with internal church matters, the first one listed was Jonah’s move to Washington.

In an earlier interview, Web site editor Mark Stokoe, who is also a member of the church’s Metropolitan Council, or executive body, spoke out against the move. He called it “a major decision that should be considered carefully in the context of the finances and the strategic plan by the entire church. To play the game in Washington takes a lot of money, and the OCA is not a wealthy church.”

And Jonah says his mind is made up. The church’s drafty Syosset headquarters building, originally a summer cottage, is racking up enormous utility bills. And Washington, he adds, is the perfect home base for “a united Orthodox voice speaking out against iniquity or advocating good things.”

But just as not everyone believes the Orthodox should be speaking out, not everyone believes they need to be united."


"In the United States, the 1 million Orthodox are vastly outnumbered by about 68 million Catholics. The Orthodox took longer to anchor themselves in America than Catholics did, with multiple countries establishing their own national Orthodox churches on American soil, none of them wishing to merge.

In 1970, the Russians made their daughter church independent, naming it the Orthodox Church in America in the hope that other Orthodox bodies would unite under that title. The move infuriated several other Orthodox churches, especially the Greeks, the largest of America’s Orthodox branches at 477,000 members.

Of the top American Orthodox branches, the OCA, with about 85,000 members, has the highest percentage of Sunday service attenders at 40 percent weekly and has grown the most in the past decade, at 21 percent. Much of the growth has come from converts — evangelical Protestant ones at that — whose presence has helped steer the OCA in a more conservative direction."

To read the rest please visit The Washington Post
Thursday, March 17, 2011

Orthodox churches on Japan’s Pacific coast destroyed, communications lost – Bishop

As seen from blog.

Bishop Seraphim of Sendai (the Japanese Autonomous Church)

"Moscow, March 15, Interfax – Bishop Seraphim of Sendai (the Japanese Autonomous Church) told about serious consequences of the earthquake in Japan for the country’s Orthodox believers.

“On God’s mercy the church in Sendai was not seriously damaged and life in the city is being restored. However, churches on the Pacific coast are destroyed and we lost communications with them,” the bishop said in his message sent to Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on Tuesday.

He thanked the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church for “kind words” addressed to clerics of the Japanese Church, the Moscow Patriarchate reported on its website.

“The earthquake inflicted great, hardly describable damage to the eastern coast of North Japan, including the Sendai Diocese. Help comes to victims from all over the country, but we don’t have the full picture of developments as the roads and communications are destroyed,” Bishop Seraphim said.

According to him, the information from believers is coming and “the number of supposed victims will be significant.”

“We, survived priests and parishioners, will fulfill our duties as far as we can,” the Bishop assured Patriarch Kirill.

Districts on the territory of the Sendai Diocese greatly suffered from the destructive earthquake and tsunami in the north-east Japan on March 11.

The number of the Japanese who identify themselves with Orthodoxy equals to about 30,000 people.

The Japanese Autonomous Church was founded by St. Nikolay (Kasatkin) who came to Japan on 1861 on the decision of the Holy Synod. He founded and headed the Russian Orthodox mission in Japan in 1870. He translated the Holy Scripture and liturgical books into Japanese and built the Resurrection Cathedral in Tokyo."

To read the rest please visit the website.

Also of interest:
Russian Church fundraises for Orthodox believers in Japan

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Toward a New Muslim-Christian Agreement

The link:
Saturday, March 12, 2011

Atheism & Morality Debate and Other Announcements

David's blog.

Chrysostom’s Homily on Romans 9

The Link:

Pray for the people of Japan!

No word yet from the Orthodox Church of Japan. Their website hasn't been updated yet. But let's keep all the people of Japan in Prayer.
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Empire Dialogues: The U.S. and World Order

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy (The Book) by Fr. Andrew Damick

As seen from Conciliar Press:

"Are you an Orthodox Christian who wonders how to explain to your Baptist grandmother, your Buddhist neighbor, or the Jehovah’s Witness at your door how your faith differs from theirs? Or are you a member of another faith who is curious what Orthodoxy is all about? Look no further. In Orthodoxy & Heterodoxy, Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick covers the gamut of ancient heresies, modern Christian denominations, fringe groups, and major world religions, highlighting the main points of each faith. This book is an invaluable reference for anyone who wants to understand the faiths of those they come in contact with—as well as their own."

It should be available soon! (Spring 2011)

Also, check out the interview:

"Who do you think the target audience is for this book? Laypeople interested in apologetics? Inquirers from other religious backgrounds?

My primary intended audience is ordinary Orthodox Christians who are interested in the question of how our faith differs from other faiths. That said, I know that there may be some apologists for whom the book could serve as an introduction to the major issues, and I am sure that it is likely that folks who are interested in Orthodox Christianity may read it, as well. I tried to keep all of these people in mind when putting it together."

To read the rest please visit Byzantine Texas.
Sunday, March 6, 2011

Lenton Prayer of St. Ephraim

Lord and Master of my life,

Take away from me the will to be lazy and to be sad,

The desire to get ahead of other people and to boast and brag

Give me instead, a pure and humble spirit,

The will to be patient with others and to love them.

Grant, Lord, that I may realize my own mistakes,

And keep me from judging the things other people do.

For You are blessed, now and forever. Amen
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Morning & Evening Prayers : Read in Monotone out of the Jordanville Prayerbook

Orthodox Christianity: Word of God -Logos- in Human History

Everywhere Present

As seen from the podcast Ancient Faith Presents by Bobby Maddex

Play Audio

A History of Christianity 1of 6

A History of Christianity 2 of 6

A History of Christianity 3 of 6

A History of Christianity 4 of 6

Food and Faith

As seen from The Illumined Heart podcast by Kevin Allen

"As Great Lent begins, Illumined Heart host Kevin Allen and nutrition expert Rita Madden (MPH and RD) discuss the role of food in our Orthodox spiritual life, what the Church Fathers say about food and food quantity, and practical nutritional issues related to fasting."

To read the rest please visit Ancient Faith Radio

Play Audio
Friday, March 4, 2011

Ethiopian Muslims burn down five churches

The link:
Developing: Ethiopian Muslims Burn Down Five Churches

Can God use the Physical World when it comes to Grace?

As seen from the Theological forum.

The efficacy of Baptism doesn't depend on me the individual. It depends on God. Accepting a gift through physical means isn't works righteousness! And so Baptism, isn't a work I as an individual do for God (something alot of Baptists say and what I use to say back when I was a Baptist). It's a work God does for the individual through the Church. We can see this in John 1:11-13


"He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

We see from the text:

1.) God gives the right to become children of God

2.) Children born not of natural descent

3.) Children born not of human decision

4.) Children born not of a husband's will

5.) But Children born of God

And so the efficacy of Baptism comes from God. Baptism is rightly called Grace! We have been Saved by Grace through faith and this not from ourselves, it is the gift of God!

When God healed Naaman he did it through a means. Naaman was upset at first because he wanted it without means. Without anything physical, but God wanted to clean Him through something physical. He had to go to the prophet and the prophet told him to go to the water. Also, God gave Naaman the right to be healed, Naaman went into the water, but it was God that healed him.

2nd Kings 5:14

"So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy."

In a similar manor, God wants to clean us through water Baptism. For we can't make ourselves clean. It is God who makes us clean! It is God who unites us with Christ!

Job 14:4

"Who can bring what is pure from the impure?
No one!"

No one but God! What is impossible with man is possible with God!

Ezekiel 36:25

Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.

Acts 22:16

"And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.’"

The Ancient Faith is one that embraces the rightful place of water Baptism being what it is:

"This meaneth, that we indeed descend into the water full of sins and defilement, but come up, bearing fruit in our heart, having the fear [of God] and trust in Jesus in our spirit."

"They were obliged," he answered, "to ascend through water in order that they might be made alive; for, unless they laid aside the deadness of their life, they could not in any other way enter into the kingdom of God. Accordingly, those also who fell asleep received the seal of the Son of God. For," he continued, "before a man bears the name of the Son of God s he is dead; but when he receives the seal he lays aside his deadness, and obtains life. The seal, then, is the water: they descend into the water dead, and they arise alive. And to them, accordingly, was this seal preached, and they made use of it that they might enter into the kingdom of God."

Justin Martyr
"As many as are persuaded and believe that what we teach and say is true, and undertake to be able to live accordingly, are instructed to pray and to entreat God with fasting, for the remission of their sins that are past, we praying and fasting with them. Then they are brought by us where there is water, and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated. For, in the name of God, the Father and Lord of the universe, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, they then receive the washing with water. For Christ also said, "Except ye be born again, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."

And when we look at the ancient creed we see:

"I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins."

When one looks at the canons of the councils then they will see how they understood water Baptism, and so we looked at Scripture, the early Christians as well as an ancient ecumenical creed in regards to this issue and all three were in perfect harmony! If you reject Baptismal Regeneration it's because of what happened later in time with somebodies group. It's because of other ideas that one holds to. Back when I was a Baptist, I would normally question other groups when they didn't agree with us. I pointed the finger at them as being the problem. What I didn't do was point the finger at myself and the Baptists. What I didn't do was ask why the Baptists believe the way that they did. What I didn't do was question myself and the Baptists! I thought I was following Scripture, but I really wasn't. I was following a foreign developed system of thought that handled and interpreted the Scriptures in a certain way. A certain fashion. Other groups would slightly handle the Scriptures differently, in a different fashion.

And so, if you belong to a new Christian group that just began yesterday, then question yourself and your group and not just those that oppose you. The Apostles handed something down to the next generation of believers, if Baptismal Regeneration is that view ......which I believe it is, then one should point the finger back on themselves and their group as to why they don't embrace the Mystery? One should investigate the cultural, philosophical and theological influences of their group's rejection of Baptismal Regeneration.

Shabazz Bhatti: Memory Eternal!

An interview of the Pakistani who was recently murdered/assassinated for criticizing the blasphemy law.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Recommended Reading for Lent

From the podcast Speaking the Truth in Love by Fr. Thomas Hopko

Play Audio

Foster parent ban: 'no place' in the law for Christianity, High Court rules

This is from the Telegraph

"There is no place in British law for Christian beliefs, despite this country’s long history of religious observance and the traditions of the established Church, two High Court judges said on Monday.
Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson made the remarks when ruling on the case of a Christian couple who were told that they could not be foster carers because of their view that homosexuality is wrong.

The judges underlined that, in the case of fostering arrangements at least, the right of homosexuals to equality “should take precedence” over the right of Christians to manifest their beliefs and moral values.

In a ruling with potentially wide-ranging implications, the judges said Britain was a “largely secular”, multi-cultural country in which the laws of the realm “do not include Christianity”.

Campaigners for homosexual rights welcomed the judgment for placing “21st-century decency above 19th-century prejudice”. Christian campaigners claimed that it undermined the position of the Church of England.

The ruling in the case of Owen and Eunice Johns, from Derby, is the latest in a series of judgments in which Christians have been defeated in the courts for breaching equality laws by manifesting their beliefs on homosexuality."

To read the rest please visit the website

Constantine & Jeroboam?

This is from the Holyculture Radio forum. It took me a few hours to write and so I really didn't want to loose it if the forum decided to delete all threads. (something they did two or three times in the past)

1 Kings 12:25-33
"Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.
Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”
After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.
Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings."

Quote Originally Posted by Rina_cz View Post
If you see the things Jeroboam did when he got his kingdom, they are very similar to what Constantine did.

Like what?

Jeroboam set up a priesthood,

Where did Constantine do this? When did he do this? The clergy system of the Church was there before he was born. Let's look at the writings of Saint Ignatius. He was a Christian who was a disciple of the Apostle John and he died around the year 110A.D.:
Chapter VIII.—Let nothing be done without the bishop.

See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye 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. See that ye all follow the bishop, even as Christ Jesus does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles. Do ye also reverence the deacons, as those that carry out [through their office] the appointment 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 where Christ is, there does all the heavenly host stand by, waiting upon Him as the Chief Captain of the Lord’s might, and the Governor of every intelligent nature. It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize, or to offer, or to present sacrifice, or to celebrate a love-feast. But that which seems good to him, is also well-pleasing to God, that everything ye do may be secure and valid."

changed times of worship,

Where did Constantine do this? When did he do this? Christians always worshiped on Sunday. Let's start with the Bible then with the early Church: Sunday?

What day is the Sabbath? The Sabbath is from friday sunset to saturday sunset. Did early christians observe the sabbath? Only early jewish christians and God-fearing Gentile converts who were into Judaism before becoming Christian. Modern Ethiopian christians are a prime example of this....for they still observe jewish/mosaic laws.

Non God-fearing Gentile converts to Christianity aren't suppose to observe Sabbaths!

I'm gonna start with Scripture, then I will go to the early fathers.

(Saint Paul quoted this O.T. passage in Galations)
Isaiah 1:13
"Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your evil assemblies."

Galations 4:9-11
"But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you."

Romans 14:4-6
"Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God."

The reason for Non God-Fearing Gentiles to stay away from the jewish Sabbath, Circumcision and clean and unclean food laws:

Colossians 2:11-23
In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
So let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ. Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God. Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations— “Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle,” which all concern things which perish with the using—according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.


Eph 2:11-18
"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (that done in the body by the hands of men)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit."

Eversince the Resurrection, Christians always gathered to worship and break bread on Sunday! This is why it is called the Lord's day! We can see this on the very day Jesus Rose from the dead!

Luke 24:14-15
"And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them."

Luke 24:35
"And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread."

"Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you."

And the practice/custom to gather on the first day continued:

Acts 20:7
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

1 Corinthians 16:2
Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

Testimony of the Early Church:

Saint Ignatius, around 107 A.D.: (A disciple of Saint John the Apostle. So when John says "the Lord's day" in the book of Revelations, he meant, Sunday(Saturday night to Sunday night...or for latins/western Christians, midnight to midnight) the first day of the week)
"Chapter 8. Caution against false doctrines

Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace. For the divinest prophets lived according to Christ Jesus. On this account also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to fully convince the unbelieving that there is one God, who has manifested Himself by Jesus Christ His Son, who is His eternal Word, not proceeding forth from silence, and who in all things pleased Him that sent Him.

Chapter 9. Let us live with Christ

If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death— whom some deny, by which mystery we have obtained faith, and therefore endure, that we may be found the disciples of Jesus Christ, our only Master— how shall we be able to live apart from Him, whose disciples the prophets themselves in the Spirit did wait for Him as their Teacher? And therefore He whom they rightly waited for, having come, raised them from the dead. Matthew 27:52

Chapter 10. Beware of Judaizing

Let us not, therefore, be insensible to His kindness. For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity. For whosoever is called by any other name besides this, is not of God. Lay aside, therefore, the evil, the old, the sour leaven, and be changed into the new leaven, which is Jesus Christ. Be salted in Him, lest any one among you should be corrupted, since by your savour you shall be convicted. It is absurd to profess Christ Jesus, and to Judaize. For Christianity did not embrace Judaism, but Judaism Christianity, that so every tongue which believes might be gathered together to God."

Aristides, around 125 A.D.

"14. Let us come now, O King, to the history of the Jews also, and see what opinion they have as to God. The Jews then say that God is one, the Creator of all, and omnipotent; and that it is not right that any other should be worshipped except this God alone. And herein they appear to approach the truth more than all the nations, especially in that they worship God and not His works. And they imitate God by the philanthropy which prevails among them; for they have compassion on the poor, and they release the captives, and bury the dead, and do such things as these, which are acceptable before God and well-pleasing also to men—which (customs) they have received from their forefathers.

Nevertheless they too erred from true knowledge. And in their imagination they conceive that it is God they serve; whereas by their mode of observance it is to the angels and not to God that their service is rendered:— as when they celebrate sabbaths and the beginning of the months, and feasts of unleavened bread, and a great fast; and fasting and circumcision and the purification of meats, which things, however, they do not observe perfectly.

15. But the Christians, O King, while they went about and made search, have found the truth; and as we learned from their writings, they have come nearer to truth and genuine knowledge than the rest of the nations. For they know and trust in God, the Creator of heaven and of earth, in whom and from whom are all things, to whom there is no other god as companion, from whom they received commandments which they engraved upon their minds and observe in hope and expectation of the world which is to come.

The Letter to Diognetus around 150 A.D. give or take some decades:

And next, I imagine that you are most desirous of hearing something on this point, that the Christians do not observe the same forms of divine worship as do the Jews. The Jews, then, if they abstain from the kind of service above described, and deem it proper to worship one God as being Lord of all, [are right]; but if they offer Him worship in the way which we have described, they greatly err. For while the Gentiles, by offering such things to those that are destitute of sense and hearing, furnish an example of madness; they, on the other hand by thinking to offer these things to God as if He needed them, might justly reckon it rather an act of folly than of divine worship. For He that made heaven and earth, and all that is therein, and gives to us all the things of which we stand in need, certainly requires none of those things which He Himself bestows on such as think of furnishing them to Him. But those who imagine that, by means of blood, and the smoke of sacrifices and burnt-offerings, they offer sacrifices [acceptable] to Him, and that by such honours they show Him respect,--these, by supposing that they can give anything to Him who stands in need of nothing, appear to me in no respect to differ from those who studiously confer the same honour on things destitute of sense, and which therefore are unable to enjoy such honours.


But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice,--I do not think that you require to learn anything from me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant,--how can this be lawful? And to speak falsely of God, as if He forbade us to do what is good on the Sabbath-days,--how is not this impious? And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they were specially beloved by God,--how is it not a subject of ridicule? And as to their observing months and days, as if waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their distributing, according to their own tendencies, the appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the seasons, some for festivities, and others for mourning,--who would deem this a part of divine worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly? I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that the ChriStians properly abstain from the vanity and error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but you must not hope to learn the mystery of their peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal.


For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities,"

Justin Martyr:, around 150 A.D. (in his conversation/debate with Trypho a jew)


And when they ceased, I again addressed them thus:--

"Is there any other matter, my friends, in which we are blamed, than this, that we live not after the law, and are not circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers were, and do not observe sabbaths as you do? Are our lives and customs also slandered among you? And I ask this: have you also believed concerning us, that we eat men; and that after the feast, having extinguished the lights, we engage in promiscuous concubinage? Or do you condemn us in this alone, that we adhere to such tenets, and believe in an opinion, untrue, as you think?"

"This is what we are amazed at," said Trypho, "but those things about which the multitude speak are not worthy of belief; for they are most repugnant to human nature. Moreover, I am aware that your precepts in the so-called Gospel are so wonderful and so great, that I suspect no one can keep them; for I have carefully read them. But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or sabbaths, and do not have the rite of circumcision; and further, resting your hopes on a man that was crucified, you yet expect to obtain some good thing from God, while you do not obey His commandments. Have you not read, that soul shall be cut off from his people who shall not have been circumcised on the eighth day? And this has been ordained for strangers and for slaves equally. But you, despising this covenant rashly, reject the consequent duties, and attempt to persuade yourselves that you know God, when, however, you perform none of those things which they do who fear God. If, therefore, you can defend yourself on these points, and make it manifest in what way you hope for anything whatsoever, even though you do not observe the law, this we would very gladly hear from you, and we shall make other similar investigations."


"There will be no other God, O Trypho, nor was there from eternity any other existing" (I thus addressed him), "but He who made and disposed all this universe. Nor do we think that there is one God for us, another for you, but that He alone is God who led your fathers out from Egypt with a strong hand and a high arm. Nor have we trusted in any other (for there is no other), but in Him in whom you also have trusted, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. But we do not trust through Moses or through the law; for then we would do the same as yourselves. But now--(for I have read that there shall be a final law, and a covenant, the chiefest of all, which it is now incumbent on all men to observe, as many as are seeking after the inheritance of God. For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now, law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law--namely, Christ--has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance. Have you not read this which Isaiah says: 'Hearken unto Me, hearken unto Me, my people; and, ye kings, give ear unto Me: for a law shall go forth from Me, and My judgment shah be for a light to the nations. My righteousness approaches swiftly, and My salvation shall go forth, and nations shall trust in Mine arm?' And by Jeremiah, concerning this same new covenant, He thus speaks: 'Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; not according to the covenant which I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand, to bring them out of the land of Egypt'). If, therefore, God proclaimed a new covenant which was to be instituted, and this for a light of the nations, we see and are persuaded that men approach God, leaving their idols and other unrighteousness, through the name of Him who was crucified, Jesus Christ, and abide by their confession even unto death, and maintain piety. Moreover, by the works and by the attendant miracles, it is possible for all to understand that He is the new law, and the new covenant, and the expectation of those who out of every people wait for the good things of God. For the true spiritual Israel, and descendants of Judah, Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham (who in uncircumcision was approved of and blessed by God on account of his faith, and called the father of many nations), are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ, as shall be demonstrated while we proceed.


I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: "'Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.' This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. 'For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,' Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure."

So what did Constantine change? And how is he like Jeroboam? This is the reason why I didn't understand what you were trying to say. You assumed that the Church before his birth was similar to modern 20th and 21st century North American Messianic Judaism. The Church before Constantine wasn't like modern Messianic Judaism. Yes it was different from how it was after Constantine, but in other ways, not in the ways you were thinking of. I hope this helps. If I was mean or rude please let me know.

changed the feast,

Changed what feast? What feast did he change? When did he change it? From the quotes up above, I think you can see that Christians didn't observe the 7 Holy Holidays of God as found in the Old Testament. Well wait. That's not totally true. We always observed at least one of the old feast days. We always observed Pascha/Easter. Most Christians observed it the Sunday following the Jewish Passover while a minority of Christians observed it on the same day as the Jewish Passover. They argued about this and at the council of Nicea they made the majority custom uniform.

Saint IRENÆUS lived around 180A.D. and he was discipled by Saint Polycarp who was discipled by the Apostle John, and we all know that John was a disciple of Jesus. When Saint Irenaeus wrote this he was living in Gaul/France or Spain. But he was born and raised in Asia minor. But this shows an early dispute between Asia Minor and Rome in regards to how to practice Pascha(what would later be called Easter in the English speaking world)
For the controversy is not merely as regards the day, but also as regards the form itself of the fast. For some consider themselves bound to fast one day, others two days, others still more, while others [do so during] forty: the diurnal and the nocturnal hours they measure out together as their [fasting] day. And this variety among the observers [of the fasts] had not its origin in our time, but long before in that of our predecessors, some of whom probably, being not very accurate in their observance of it, handed down to posterity the custom as it had, through simplicity or private fancy, been [introduced among them]. And yet nevertheless all these lived in peace one with another, and we also keep peace together. Thus, in fact, the difference [in observing] the fast establishes the harmony of [our common] faith. And the presbyters preceding Soter in the government of the Church which thou dost now rule—I mean, Anicetus and Pius, Hyginus and Telesphorus, and Sixtus—did neither themselves observe it [after that fashion], nor permit those with them to do so. Notwithstanding this, those who did not keep [the feast in this way] were peacefully disposed towards those who came to them from other dioceses in which it was [so] observed although such observance was [felt] in more decided contrariety [as presented] to those who did not fall in with it; and none were ever cast out [of the Church] for this matter. On the contrary, those presbyters who preceded thee, and who did not observe [this custom], sent the Eucharist to those of other dioceses who did observe it. And when the blessed Polycarp was sojourning in Rome in the time of Anicetus, although a slight controversy had arisen among them as to certain other points, they were at once well inclined towards each other [with regard to the matter in hand], not willing that any quarrel should arise between them upon this head. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp to forego the observance [in his own way], inasmuch as these things had been always [so] observed by John the disciple of our Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant; nor, on the other hand, could Polycarp succeed in persuading Anicetus to keep [the observance in his way], for he maintained that he was bound to adhere to the usage of the presbyters who preceded him. And in this state of affairs they held fellowship with each other; and Anicetus conceded to Polycarp in the Church the celebration of the Eucharist, by way of showing him respect; so that they parted in peace one from the other, maintaining peace with the whole Church, both those who did observe [this custom] and those who did not."

This later would be decided at the council of Nicea a couple centuries later.

and incorporated idolatry into the worship of YHVH.

What idolatry? I really don't understand. What do you mean by this?

Now I don't know if you've read, but Jesus instituted a very different feast than that which we celebrate as Easter today.

If you are not talking about Holy Communion then I really don't know what you are talking about. Jesus was Jewish and so he observed all the feast days that Jews celebrated in the first century......including Hanukkah. Early gentile believers weren't required to observe the Old Testament feast days, at least not in the same manor as the Jews. No, we observe Pascha, and Pentecost, other than that we developed our own feast days around Pascha. You can see what I mean by watching this:

If anyone says he loves God and does not keep his commandments he is a liar.

In the New Testament, especially in regards to non-Jews, this meant Loving Jesus as He loved you and loving your neighbor as yourself. Circumcision and the Sabbath wasn't included in this.
John 13:34
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.


1 John 4:21
And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Constantine was a christian in name only.
Read this book and find out for yourself.

I realize there were many compromises before Constantine came on the scene,

Will you include the New Testament as a compromise? For much of what you see before Constantine can also be seen in the first century as well. Maybe what you think is a compromise was never really a compromise. The Apostles handed something to the next generation of believers and it wasn't circumcision and the sabbath day.

but he is very responsible for the birth of the Catholic church which is the mother of harlots.

The Catholic Church was around centuries before Constantine was born. Jesus and the Apostles are the ones responsible for the birth of the Catholic Church. Let me show you something.

Polycarp died in the mid second century:
"The Church of God which sojourns at Smyrna, to the Church of God sojourning in Philomelium, and to all the congregations of the Holy and Catholic Church in every place: Mercy, peace, and love from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, be multiplied."

Ignatius died around 110 A.D. (early 2nd century)
"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."

The Nicene and Constantinople 1 Creed was saying what Christians said for centuries. It wasn't something brand new:
"And I believe in One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church."

The Catholic Church is not the mother of Harlots, no, She is the Mother of Christians. She is what Jesus started and She is what Jesus will come back for.

The Reformers and Pilgrims fought to keep the pagan holidays out of the church, yet the pagan customs prevailed. Why so many so called "Young, Restless & Reformed" continue in idolatry I don't know.

The Church of England observed Christian Holidays. I could be wrong, but I think the Lutheran protestant tradition does as well. But you are right, the Reformed fought against Christian Holidays. The Christian Holidays come from the Christian Calendar....or Church Calendar. You will have to ask them why they embrace portions of the Church Calender now. Most of these Holidays aren't pagan in origin. Most of them were a natural growth of the original Christian Pascha/Easter Holiday observance. For Christians, Pascha/Easter is the Feast of Feast or Feast days of Feast days.

The book of Acts documents Paul observing the feasts of the Lord, and wrote that we should keep them. So I don't know where you think the whole faith went pagan before Constantine.

Paul was Jewish and he didn't write that we should keep them. Where are you getting that from? He tried real hard to keep the gentile believers from observing them. This is why I said that you must include the New Testament in your list for the shift starts there. It's wrong to point the finger at Constantine. He didn't do what you think he did. The Apostles didn't want the gentile believers to observe those things. And from the writings of the Christians after them, we can see that what the Apostles wanted was exactly what happened.

If you want to continue in your pagan practices and paint Constantine as a good guy, go for it. Just don't say the bible says its okay.

These practices aren't pagan. They are Christian. And yes, I like Constantine. Was he perfect no? Was King David perfect? No! But I like King David too! And yes, I think I proved that the Bible says it's ok. It is ok!

We have examples of someone who did the EXACT thing Constantine did and God didn't like it.

I disagree with your example. I'm sorry, but I really don't see a connection. If I was mean or rude in my response to you, please let me know.
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