Today is a beautiful day in Florida. Yesterday we “survived” not one, but two tornadoes (they mostly hit a national wildlife refuge south of us, there never was any real danger, but this sounds better) and today we get one of those perfect Florida days: blue skies with a few white clouds, beautiful warm sunshine (26C/79F), a cool breeze from the northeast and which brings in the always refreshing smell of the Atlantic ocean (were my lucky son spend six hours surfing the waves this morning). I know that I have to work on my promised report on world opinion and media coverage of the Ukrainian crisis, but I want to “seize the day” and go for some nature photography this afternoon (shall I post some pics of sunny Florida here?). The report will have to wait a little. However, I got two questions recently which I find worth answering in a separate post.
[WARNING: these two questions deal with religion so those of you who hate religion – please just ignore this post.]
Here are the two issues I want to discuss today: James wants to know what the Church is while Mohamed wrote in a comment that the Scripture was corrupted. I will take them one by one (though there is a link between the two)
@James: What is the Church?
To reply to this question adequately one could write a PhD thesis. I will try to make a much shorter reply and point you to a few texts, fair enough?
Since you are a former Latin Christian let me begin by saying what the Church is not. It is not an organization nor a formal institution. You probably remember that in the Symbol of Faith (aka the Credo) it says “In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”. Most people do not seem to be aware that the words at the very beginning “I believe in” also apply to the section “In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church”. In other words, not only do Orthodox Christians believe”in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth and of all things visible and invisible (…) “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of light; true God of true God; begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by Whom all things were made” (…) in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father” but also “In one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church“. The Church itself requires and act of faith similar to the confession of the belief in God. Orthodox Christians literally “believe in the Church” and this is why the Church is most definitely not an organization.
In theological language the Church is called the Theandric Body of Christ. Theandric derives from Theanthropos or “Godman” the central dogma of all Christianity. In other words, the Church is literally the Body of Christ no less than the Eucharist. This is also why the only valid Mysteries (called “Sacraments” in western theology) can only be found inside that Church. Just like the Body of Christ, the Church cannot break into parts, have sub-groups, contradict itself, etc. This is why the Symbol of Faith speaks of ONE Church, no more divisible that God Himself. Again, to accept that requires an act of faith.
The Church is called “Holy” because it is the Body of Christ and that it is filled with the Holy Spirit. This is why at the First Apostolic Council in Jerusalem (50 AD) those present wrote “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us..” (Acts 15: 28). However, its individual members – laity and clergy – are not necessarily holy at all. The Church is also a hospital for sinners and not an elite club of perfect holy people.
The Church is called “Catholic” because of the Greek word καθολικός which means “universal”, especially in the following two meanings: a) which includes and is not limited to one region, country, continent or part of the world and b) acts in a way which includes everybody. The first one is obvious, but the second one is not. In this sense, “Catholic” means “Counciliar” in reference to a “council of all” or, in Greek, a “Ecumenical” (including the whole world) council. The Russian term Соборный/соборность is very accurate here as it clearly points to a council (“sobor” in Russian). So being “Catholic/Counciliar” means that there is no “teaching Church” versus a “taught Church”, no one instance or clerical rank which is the source of “authority” (to use a Latin concept) or unity. It is the whole Body of the Church, down to the last layperson, which acting as one has the “authority” of the Church. Not even a council of, say, 99% of all the Orthodox Bishops – nevermind one bishop or one Patriarch – on the planet can claim to speak for the Church if the rest of the “Body” does not agree with it. There have been plenty of instances in history were the vast majority of bishops which formally appeared to have remained Orthodox had, in fact, lapsed from the Church. These are the so-called “robber councils” which, at that time, looked legit and had all the external signs of legitimacy, but which the Body of the Church – the people, really – ended up denouncing and condemning later. Again, there is no external legitimacy, no authority from which legitimacy can be derived, no person or group of people who can deliver some “certificate of authenticity” to this or that local Church or bishop. So how do we know which is the one true Church as opposed to those who only appear to be so externally. Here are the criteria of truth:
1) Apostolic succession. Simple enough, does not need to be explained.
2) True confession of faith. The local Church has to confess the exact same faith which, in the words of Saint Athanasios “the Lord gave, was preached by the Apostles, and was preserved by the Fathers. On this was the Church founded; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is nor any longer ought to be called a Christian“. It has to be what I call “backward compatible” meaning absolutely no innovation. In the words of Saint Vincent of Lerins, it has to be exactly and fully the same as that “”which has been believed everywhere, always and by all“. If they did not all believe and confess X in, say, the 5th century or the 8th century, then it is not Orthodox. Simple.
3) Unity of the Eucharist: simply put – if you are not in Eucharistic communion with the rest of the Body of Christ, you are not part of the Church.
I would note here that the unity of faith is a prerequisite for the Eucharistic communion: if you do not have the same beliefs as I do, we cannot share the same Eucharist. Nowadays some got it exactly backward. They say “let us commune from the same cup, and then iron out our secondary differences later”. This is modern nonsense. The Church has never taught that.
In the world the visible part of the Church is, for cultural and practical reasons, organized along several independent religious organizations: local Churches, independent (“autocephalous”) Patriarchates which can be Russian, Greek, Paraguayan or Japanese. The pray in their own language, organize themselves in any way they want, have their own customs and traditions. Just like there were 12 and 70 apostles there can be plenty local and autonomous Churches as long as they maintain the unity of faith and communion. In fact, if the One Church did not allow that it would not be truly “Catholic” either. And just like the Apostles did not have some “Big Boss” over them, the Church has no Head other than Christ Himself. Sure, for administrative and pastoral issues each Church has a senior bishop (put in charge by a council of local bishops) but even that local boss has no more authority in matters of faith, of confession, that any layperson. There have been plenty instances in the history of the Church when Patriarchs and entire councils strayed from the truth, and they were often reproved and even condemned by simply lay people. Speaking of which, there are only 4 clerical ranks in the Church: layperson (yes, that is a rank, a layperson can, in case of emergency, baptize in the name of the entire Church), deacon, priest and bishop. All the other fancy categories are only administrative or honorary. So folks with roaring titles like “His Beatitude the Archbishop of X” is no more than a simple bishop. A Protopresbyter is just a priest and an Archdeacon is just a deacon. Clergymen, by the way, are formally addressed with honorary titles “Most Reverend”, “Your Grace”, etc. but that really applies to the clerical rank, not the person carrying that rank. Same for kissing the hand of a priest – its not because he is so worthy, but because of the high rank (charisma) bestowed on him. He himself might be a dumb jerk (many are) or even a lying hypocritical ignoramus with a bad temper. Remember, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a club of holy men. There is only one thing that really matters: the confession of faith of this clergyman needs to be 100% Orthodox and his personal sins must not be serious enough to ban him from serving and/or himself receiving the Eucharist (so no pedophilia, no sexual immorality, no killing, no apostasy, etc.).
Okay, I have to stop here even though we barely scratched the surface here. Let me give you a few good readings I recommend:
Online texts on ecclesiology (what is the Church?):
http://orthodoxinfo.com/general/gen_church.aspx (any text on that page)
General books on Orthodox Christianity:
I hope that this was useful. If not, I am sorry.
@Mohamed: was the Scripture corrupted?
Yes and no. Yes it was, but never successfully. Let me explain why.
First, if you accept that God did communicate with mankind by means of prophecy and that the prophets did put down the prophecies which they received, you would wonder why then God would let men distort or otherwise corrupt the message He sent us. Of course, all man can err, we are all sinful, and either by mistake or deliberately man have corrupted the Scripture, no question here, the pertinent question is rather could these men have gotten away with that?
In the Third book of Esdras we have an interesting episode. Esdras tells God that the Scripture has been burned and asks “If then I have found favor before thee, send the Holy Spirit into me, and I will write everything that has happened in the world from the beginning, the things which were written in thy law, that men may be able to find the path, and that those who wish to live in the last days may live.” To which God replies “Go and gather the people, and tell them not to seek you for forty days. But prepare for yourself many writing tablets, and take with you Sarea, Dabria, Selemia, Ethanus, and As′iel—these five, because they are trained to write rapidly; and you shall come here, and I will light in your heart the lamp of understanding, which shall not be put out until what you are about to write is finished“. And, sure enough, Esdras tells us “So I took the five men, as he commanded me, and we proceeded to the field, and remained there. And on the next day, behold, a voice called me, saying, “Ezra, open your mouth and drink what I give you to drink.” Then I opened my mouth, and behold, a full cup was offered to me; it was full of something like water, but its color was like fire. And I took it and drank; and when I had drunk it, my heart poured forth understanding, and wisdom increased in my breast, for my spirit retained its memory; and my mouth was opened, and was no longer closed. And the Most High gave understanding to the five men, and by turns they wrote what was dictated, in characters which they did not know. They sat forty days, and wrote during the daytime, and ate their bread at night. As for me, I spoke in the daytime and was not silent at night. So during the forty days ninety-four books were written. And when the forty days were ended, the Most High spoke to me, saying, “Make public the twenty-four books that you wrote first and let the worthy and the unworthy read them; but keep the seventy that were written last, in order to give them to the wise among your people. For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the river of knowledge.” And I did so.
Sorry for the long quote, but I want to illustrate a point: when needed God can command his faithful to restore even the full Scripture provided a) that they are worthy to received the guidance of the Holy Spirit and b) that they receive the “drink like fire” which God gives them (note that this book was written long before the times of Christ!). What is certain is that the notion that God would grant a revelation through His prophets and then allow that revelation to remain corrupted for centuries is rather ludicrous.
There was, indeed, one grievous attempt at falsifying the Scripture. It occurred after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD. At that time the Jewish people were separated into 2 sects: those who believed that Christ was the Messiah and those who did not. The former become known as Christians, while the latter – mostly Pharisees – created their own group which developed a new spirituality which switched focus from the Old Testament to the Talmud, from the Temple to assemblies (synagogues), from priests to rabbis and from the original Scripture to a new “corrected” text. This texts had the official imprimatur of the rabbis who declared that it has been corrected by their sages, the scribes and scholars. Needless to say, what they really did is cut out or alter those parts of the Scripture which were inconvenient to them. At the time there was a great deal of hostility between the two groups and disputations centered around the Scripture, of course. The issue at hand was simple: did the prophesies about the Messiah in the scripture match what actually happened in the life of Christ or not? Could the followers of Christ prove their case by using the Scripture? Well, the “guardians of the tradition”, or “Masoretes” as they became known, “corrected” the Scripture as much as possible to produce a forgery known today as the “Masoretic text” (abbreviated MT).
Christians immediately saw through that and denounced the text as a fake. One of the earliest documents we have showing that Christians at the time were fully aware that the Jews produced a forgery is the “Dialog with Trypho” in which Saint Justin Martyr (2nd century) explicitly makes that accusation. The latter Fathers have also confirmed that.
You might wonder which text is the original and what happened to it. We only have parts of the original Hebrew “Old Testament” (which is, of course, not what they called it). Following the conquests of Alexander the Great much of what is today the Middle-East was “Hellenized” and the language of the elites and the international language of the time was Greek. About two centuries before the birth of Christ, at the request of the local (Greek) ruler, Ptolemy II Philadelphius, a translation into Greek of the Hebrew text was made for the famous Library of Alexandria by 70 translators from the 12 tribes of Israel. This text is called the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX) in memory of these 70 translators. This is the only text ever considered authoritative by the Church. Following the Latin schism, the LXX was almost forgotten in western Europe where the Latin Church used a translation made by Saint Jerome called the Vulgate. Because the Latin believed that only the “learned” clergy should read the Scripture and then teach and explain it to the “simple” folks, this text was no very widely circulated. In contrast, Luther wanted each Christian to have access to the Scripture. Luther, who was opposed to the Latin clericalism and who suspected that the Latins might have corrupted the text, decided to base his teaching on what he apparently sincerely believed was the “original” Hebrew text, the Masoretic forgery. As a result, the vast majority of Bibles available in the Western World are based on a text deliberately forged by Christ-hating rabbis, including the (otherwise beautifully written) King James Version. More recently, newer “corrected” versions of the MT have been made, but there is still only one, rather bad, translation of the LXX in English, the so-called “Brenton translation” (I hear that a new one is being worked on). But until very recently the West was simply too proud and too ignorant of Patristic thought to remember that only the LXX was the true text of the Old Testament.
I am going into all these details to illustrate a point: yes, Holy Writ can, and has been, corrupted both deliberately (Masoretes) or by ignorance (western Bibles). But God never allows the original true text to simply vanish.
I would also note that what the rabbis attempted is first and foremost a substitution: LXX by MT. They never claimed that the MT was the LXX. In fact, some Jewish holidays (such as Hanukkah) have no scriptural basis in the MT but only in the LXX (in the book of Maccabees in this case). Unlike the West, the Jews never forgot about the LXX – they simply did not want to grant it authoritative status, for quite obvious reasons.
There are some sources which claim that an attempt to corrupt the LXX was also made by Jews, but I have seen no good evidence of that. For one thing, the LXX was simply too widely circulated (not as one text, but as a collection of books) to suddenly substitute another text. Really, the creation of the MT was for “internal consumption” and to beat back Christian polemicists.
So here is my main point: there is zero historical evidence to attest to the corruption of the original Holy Scripture. The only known case is the one I outlined above. We also know from the Scripture itself that God would never deprive his faithful from His Word, the example of Esdras (aka Ezra) above also shows that. Furthermore, simple logic suggests to us that it is impossible to corrupt a text which is both 1) widely circulated and 2) very closely analyzed and held for sacred.
Let me conclude here by saying that I personally believe that the Prophet Muhammad did hear about the Masoretic forgery and that this inspired him to look at the Christian Scripture with a strong suspicion that the text had been forged. Obviously, like Luther, he was not aware of the LXX. It is also possible that Muhammad might have had another reason to declare that the Christian scripture was corrupted: the so-called Old Testament has absolutely no prophecy speaking of any figure like Muhammad, this is why some Muslim scholars have had to declare that the “Comforter” mentioned by Christ to His disciples was a reference to Muhammad and not to the Holy Spirit, an interpretation which even a superficial reading of the New Testament immediately invalidates and which not a single Church Father or theologian between the first and seventh century endorsed.
Whatever may be the case, the Muslim theory that the Scripture has been successfully corrupted is both illogical and a-historical. One can, of course, chose to believe it, especially if one accepts that everything, including the historical record, has been forged, corrupted or lost, but at least to me faith and common sense should not contradict each other.
I think that it is undeniable that Christianity grew out of the religion of the Jewish people before the birth of Christ. Christ Himself constantly makes references to the books the Church has united into one volume called the “Old Testament”. If the topic is of interest to you, see all the texts on this page, especially this one and this one. In contrast, Islam has no other scriptural basis that itself or, rather, the book it produced: the Quran.
In conclusion I want to say that a closer look at history shows that the notion of “Judeo-Christian” is simply at least as nonsensical as speaking of a White-Black or a Dry-Wet. As for the so-called “Abrahamic religions” they truly have nothing in common. Modern Judaism is really nothing else but an “anti-Christianity” while Islam is a faith which appeared ex-nihilo and has no basis in either Jewish or Christian scripture or oral tradition.
I hope that I have not offended anybody here, especially not my Muslim friends and readers, but I felt that it was important to lay out here the original Christian understanding of these issues. As any other Orthodox Christian I strongly feel that it is my personal obligation to preserve that which has been passed on to me (the “corporate memory and awareness” of the Church, if you want) and to share it with others if/when it is appropriate. As (hopefully) intelligent and considerate people, we can “agree to disagree”, but to do that, you need to be made aware of the nature of what we might disagree on, right? By the way, I would welcome any offer to present a Muslim view of this – or any other – topic here and if somebody submits it (in the comment section for example) I will be glad to post it.
That’s it for today. I will return to worldly topics tomorrow.
I wish you all an excellent week-end, kind regards,
Saker, I wish you wouldn’t assume that those who are irreligious HATE religion. I don’t hate it, I just don’t see it as very important (except for whatever insights it might provide towards understanding people who do see it as very important).
Just regarding English translations, Wikipedia lists more than one, including several recent ones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint#English_translations
Do you have any experience with them?
I can say honestly I still didn’t quite understand your response regarding the PRACTICAL implications of WHERE THEN SHALL WE WORSHIP? Except I did want to say three things:
1) I did not take offense at your reply, as others did, because as a baptized Orthodox convert from Evangelical low church Protestantism rather than a ‘cradle Orthodox’ I do not purport to fully understand Orthodoxy anymore than I can fathom many of the mysteries of life. To me Orthodox Christianity is simply the ocean — it is there, without which (eternal) life is not possible, and it can never be fully fathomed only explored or described in facets.
2) Following up on the thought above, the Saker and I must agree that humility is indeed one of the cardinal virtues of the Orthodox Saints throughout time, whether one is speaking of Saints Anthony and Mary of Egypt the father and mothers of monasticism, or Seraphim of Sarov who said ‘preserve the Spirit of Peace and a 1,000 souls around you will be saved’.
It is this humility that we speak of when we speak of Holy Rus, if it can exist in this world at all. It is what Dostoevsky and Solzhenitsyn both sought, not a realized thing but a glimpse of the kingdom of heaven on Earth. This is why even if I choose to worship in a ROCOR or MosPat congregation as opposed to a Greek Arch USA, OCUSA, or Antiochian parish I must not judge my brother who wishes to worship in the Old Believer, Western Rite (which some dismiss as Orthodox ‘Catholicizing or Anglicizing’ to win converts the way the Uniates did with the Orthodox in Ukraine), or dissenting Russian Orthodox traditions.
First I enjoy your blog tremendously
though this is my first comment. I am not either a religious hater or believer but I hope I can entice you into reading Joseph Atwill’s “Caesar’s Messiah”
This is also why at the heart of Orthodoxy is the Holy Mysteries — we unlike in Roman Catholicism do not attempt to comprehend legalistically (the Catholics do not try to explain it scientifically in all fairness) the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into Christ’s Body and Blood.
Although Catholicism in recent years may have veered more into sensible understanding of the Holy Mysteries that old high Anglicans and some Lutherans also showed, much harm was done to Catholics’ reputations and they received much ridicule from seculars for having tried to fully grasp what is ultimately ungraspable and immutable.
In this sense I agree with many old school pre-Vatican II Catholic thinkers that Aquinas did some harm to Catholicism in trying to rationalize it, and there is much from an Orthodox perspective to see in Aquinas apologetics as a partial response to the Schism. It should be noted too that Luther in his apologetics at Worms presented the ‘Greek Christians’ as he called them as proof that there still existed salvation outside the Catholic body and therefore his followers who protested were not damned.
What we can heartily agree as Orthodox Christians on the ‘meat’ of it as I understood, which is that the Church is in the business of nationalities or autocepholies (forgive me if I have misspelled that word by making it plural):
there is only the Church, Catholic and Apostolic, and each autocephaly is instituted for the sole purpose (as was the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet that civilized the barbarian Slavic tribes) of making the Church Christ’s Body visible in the tongues and traditions of a particular nation, while preserving the core of Orthodox belief, liturgy and practice.
There may be some slight variations between a Divine Service in Ethiopia or Georgia or even in the Western Rite bodies of the British Isles which have attempted to revive the pre-Schism Anglo-Celtic Church of St. Patrick, but there is no difference in substance.
At least, I hope I have understood you correctly. Again, most people come to this site to discuss Ukraine or the general global situation surrounding the Anglo-American-led Empire (I do not refer to this entity as ‘America’ much less the Constitutional republic our Founding Fathers established). But I am glad you put the arguments in a separate post rather than let them get buried for all but the most hardcore readers at the bottom of a comments thread under a tsunami of deeply flawed debates about Judaism or Jews.
Saker, this is a very good summation. However, Islam didn’t appear ex-nihilo for it borrows much from Talmudism. For example Islam follows: a lunar calendar, performs haj (pilgrimages), performs prayer style bending at the waist trusting the head forward alternating with the hips, uses head covering, worships (Kabba) stones much like talmudists worship Herod’s temple mount’s retaining wall stones, practices circumcision of males, etc.
On the other hand, the Jewish sect that believed in the Messiah from Nazareth dissociated itself from the root of Judaism and afraid of the roman persecution against the Jews, corrupted itself observing a different pagan calendar. So there was corruption after all in adopting Sunday worship / day of rest and abandoning the lunar calendar for the cHags: of Pesaj, Shavuot and Sukkot.
Saker, I take no offense whatsoever, but applaud your sincerity. We are all struggling with ourselves and this world and universe, not to mention everyday things.
I come from a very conservative and ‘dedicated’Calvinistic background and have much active experience in that form of protestantism over some 60 years.
Over many decades, I have looked at it all, taken much time and pulled away from it, piece by piece. Slowly, over about 30 years.
It makes no sense to go point for point throughout scripture, as it bogs you down quickly. So I keep it simple.
I now begin with one simple thought. There are more, but this will suffice.
Adam and Eve were commanded not to eat of the Tree of Good and Evil. They did.
And God punished them with sickness, pain and death. And not only them, but all those following them. Billions of us. On this, the whole of Christianity is based.
What kind of god is that? In the book of Matthew, it is written that if we know how to be good earthly fathers, how much more our father in heaven?
Well, no earthly father would ever punish his children with pain, sickness and death for disobeying a command of not eating something.
But this ‘heavenly father’did.
Fear and deliverance. And governments often do much the same.
But I appreciate your intelligent writings and especially value your political and social insights. Count me as a regular reader and sometime commenter.
Be thankful we do not all think alike, or we’d all try to marry the same woman :)
Thank you for all the trouble you have gone to to answer my questions, Saker. However, those questions seem to have been missed somehow.
You asked me, “In your opinion, when what the Orthodox Church founded and by whom?”
And I replied, “I don’t know and I would be most grateful if you could tell me.”
Perhaps I could rephrase it to make my question a little clearer. When were the words “Russian Orthodox Church” first used to describe an organisation or a group of people? I’m not trying to split hairs here. I am just wondering about when the ROC (as an organisation) came into being.
You put my question as “What is the Church?”
My point was that the Catholic Church, for instance, uses the word ‘church’ in many different contexts to mean many differing things to suit their particular purposes. Do Orthodox authors do the same? It would seem from your answer that you think they do not; that there is one definition for “church” and that this always applies. Have I got that right?
You said, “Orthodox Christians literally “believe in the Church” and this is why the Church is most definitely not an organization.”
So when an organisation such as the Russian Orthodox Church adopts the word “Church” into its title, it is misleading people, at least, if not being deceitful and perhaps even blasphemous? Does this follow?
You brought up the criteria for truth and mentioned as the first point, “Apostolic succession. Simple enough, does not need to be explained.”
I’m presuming this is in response to my request,
“Now I’m presuming (and my apologies in advance if I’m wrong) that you hold that there is an historical and unbroken something that links Jesus to the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church today and that whatever this is, it is the conduit through which the Church derives its authority and spiritual power today. If you have the time, space and perhaps the patience, I would, respectfully, very much like to know what that is.”
I would appreciate it if you could, indeed, explain “Apostolic succession” to me. You see, the Roman Catholic Church claims “Apolstolic succession”, too, and they base their’s on St Peter being the first Pope and the first Bishop of Rome. But history records that Peter was neither a Pope nor a bishop of Rome nor a bishop anywhere else.
In Acts, Jesus’ followers ask him who they should turn to for guidance/leadership and he directs them to his brother James, not Peter. Clearly, the Roman Catholic Church has their ‘wires crossed’ somewhere.
So if you have time to enlarge on the Russian Orthodox Church’s Apostolic succession tradition, I’d be grateful.
Fascinating topic. Thank you for sharing those references which I intend to peruse over the next few days. Orthodox Christianity is steeped in centuries of dedicated study and worship — which is why I’d like to know more. Would love to get my hands on a English translation of “LXX” and compare to KJV-OT. There are many (and some decent) translations of the bible. None of them touch KJV — particularly for study. It’s the vocabulary and the breadth of meanings which makes the difference.
I understand the importance of prophecy in scriptural “proof”. But personally believe (forgive if this sounds blasphemous — which is not how its meant…) that Christ, TRUTH is present reality — regardless of the existence of the man Jesus. I don’t spend time fretting which prophet foretold the coming of Christ Jesus — any more than I’d waste time worshiping an anthropomorphic God — or believing the purpose of religion is to have a cushy life here on earth. What would be the point? Why make God “man-like” when the goal is for man to be “God-like” — which is a spiritual state of being — not a material one. I read and learn a lot from the OT — but GRACE is learned through Christ — and is found throughout the NT. Christianity is the ONLY religion based on GRACE and TRUTH.
As a child I learned the definition of Church was the structure of Truth and Love…that institution which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race… casting out (d)evils and healing the sick.
In all honestly, I think the best part of church is singing hymns. There’s nothing like “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” to remind us that we are ALL children of God.
Thanks again. You have provided much to read and think about.
@E:regarding English translations, Wikipedia lists more than one, including several recent ones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Septuagint#English_translations Do you have any experience with them?
I know the Brenton and I have seen parts of the Orthodox Study Bible. The least I can say is that while I commend the effort, I am rather unimpressed with the result though that is in no way a criticism of those who courageously attempted such a truly Herculean task. The problem is this: the Bible is a HORRIBLY difficult text to translate and the reason for it is simple: any translation of any text is always an interpretation. There are two extremes: mechanical literalism (which makes a text unreadable) or possibly correct translation but that always requires a choice between similar expressions and words, it requires a re-working of the grammar, the quest for similar idioms, etc. By the way, this is ALSO why the LXX is so priceless: it includes a “built-in” interpretation as in the famous case of the Hebrew word “almah” which could mean any young female OR a virgin depending on the context in Hebrew but with the 70 translators translated as “parthenos” which is quasi-gynecological in its meaning of “virgin”.
Another example: did Christ say “The wind blows wherever it pleases” or “God’s Spirit breaths wherever it wishes”? You will find both translations.
The best translation of the LXX (which was written in Greek) is probably the one into Church Slavonic. But it took roughly 8 centuries to perfect it. So I cannot blame Sir Lancelot Brenton or any other translator which undertook such a daunting task and ended up producing a less then adequate text. The Slavonic text was worked on not only by linguists, scholars and historians, but also very knowledgeable clergymen and even saints!
So the least bad solution for somebody who does not know Greek or Church Slavonic is probably to use one of the recent translations, but to always check any important verse against the Patristic interpretation thereof because the Fathers have always and only used the LXX. So if passage X looks weird or cryptic – use a Patristic commentary of it (avoid modern “theologians” like the plague, though they are even *worse* then the ten plagues of Egypt combined!!). Besides, any Patristic interpretation will be in harmony with the so-called consensus patrum or “agreement of the Fathers” who, scholars and saints as they were, did not dare to offer their “own” interpretations of anything but sought to humbly discover the Truth as preserved by the Church.
For anybody new to Patristics I would recommend beginning with the approachable but always top-quality sermons of Saint John Chrysostomos. They are available in English, and they are written in a language which is easy to understand, but which contains an immense wealth of wisdom. Saint John really deserved to be called “Golden Mouth”.
“[WARNING: these two questions deal with religion so those of you who hate religion – please just ignore this post.]”
How can someone hate religion? Hating religion is like hating a small kids who still believe in Santa Claus. Religion(s) as we know today are a powerful control system based on lies and manipulation. Laura Knight-Jadczyk said: “Believing that one source contains all knowledge is contradicting reality. If the concept was the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge provides all knowledge, then one is being deceived, because no one particular source can provide all knowledge. Therefore, when one believes in the deception, one has now trapped oneself within parameters of limitation. And, forevermore, the human race, will be poisoned by the very same problem which is reflected in several different ways: one is always seeking the truth through one pathway or religion, instead of seeking it through a myriad of pathways; and also believing in simplistic answers to very complex issues and questions”
Once one understands that, there’s nothing to hate, you can only smile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPOfurmrjxo
@James: ok, I will try to be more to the point in replying to your questions:
a) When was the Church founded and by whom?
By Christ at the Pentocost
b) When was the Russian Orthodox Church Founded.
Russia used to be under the Greek Orthodox Church until the latter signed the so-called Union of Florance in the 15h century at which time the Russians separated on grounds of apostasy of the Greeks who eventually rejected the false Union of Florance and recognized the independence of the ROC. So the ROC formally created in 1448 by the Patriarch of Constantinople.
c) Latins and apostolic succession
The Latins definitely have a full apostolic succession. They might have lapsed in their Orthodox (true faith) and orthopraxis (correct practices) but the apostolic succession of their bishops is undeniable. This does NOT mean that they are part of the Church, only that each of their bishops can trace his episcopacy back to one of the 12 Apostles as is the case with any Orthodox bishop. A bishop cannot self-consecrate himself bishop because it takes a bishop to make (the term is “consecrate”) another bishop. All apostolic succession means that that a bishop who has it can trace his ‘lineage’ to a line of bishops stemming form the Apostles. This being said, once you are outside the Church having formal apostolic succession does serve no purpose because as soon as a bishop lapses, teaches a heresy or otherwise breaks away form the Church his episcopacy becomes an empty shell and any “bishop” this (now former) “bishop” would “consecrate” would also become empty shells like he is. There are no Mysteries (aka “Sacraments”) outside the Church, that includes the consecration to the episcopacy which cannot be performed outside the Church, at least not in a valid manner. So if you want to use a strict interpretation, the Latins lost their Apostolic Succession in 1054, but if you want to look at the formal, external, aspect of the issue of succession, they still have it today.
I hope that this makes sense now. Does that provide a adequate reply to your questions?
Cheers and good nite,
Wonderful précis. For the sake of merciful brevity I add observations or assertions generally unseen or disdained by contemporaries.
1) The meaning of life is war between good and evil whose chief protagonists are not Catholics and Jews but the blessed virgin Mary and Satan, and the purpose of life is to save one’s eternally conscious self.
2) God chose the Hebrew people to host then propagate the incarnated Christ sent not to lead them on earth, as Judaism optionally demands, but to offer repayment in perfect justice to the Father for the sins of all people. The Hebrews who affirmed Jesus started Catha-hol-ism, globalism, in immediate compliance with His command to teach all peoples how to save their souls. Those who rejected Him knew whom they freely willed to murder. He said He is God and worked far too many miracles for doubt. In May of 30AD, no one doubted the Resurrection. Judaism started at the same time solely to destroy Catholicism.
3) Faith, the capacity to believe in God, is a gift from God given to those who seek it. Persons who do not want Him will not achieve Him.
4) This world is a theophany, that is, it displays to us the beauty and immensity of God; but it is temporary, so Satan ‘the prince of this world,’ uses its beautiful things to divert our desires away from choosing eternal God before all those temporal things.
5) Islam did in fact appear ex-nihilo. As revealed by an astonished Tom Holland in “Islam The Untold Story,” Channel 4, 2012, neither the name nor supposed person of Muhammad appeared until 70 years after his supposed death. After Napoleon’s industrially supplied military encountered the theocratic tyranny staged to buttress the super rich, Islam entered terminal crisis. Today, it has succumbed to modern materialism. It scarcely exists except as a defence against corruption from the Great (US) Satan.
6) The one true and dogmatic Church—whose head is the divinely commissioned Cephas/Petris/Petrus the Rock, the Church of the one hated religion of the one hated God whose name alone men curse—totally collapsed fifty years ago. This critical disintegration of Christian civilisation was quite accurately called the Sixties Revolution;- reflecting the life, death and resurrection of the Christ, that earthly “mystical Body of Christ” is “crucified dead and buried.” Inevitably it will resurrect, and gloriously, and globally—and very soon. Few know because few care, and quite sensibly because Rome is presently an open sewer.
This is my quick rave.
An interesting take similar to yours saker is this
By Robert E. Reis
once upon a time there was a tribe living in the Middle East that had a collection of sacred texts written in Hebrew, Chaldean and Aramaic. It is the nature of sacred texts to be venerated and transmitted from generation to generation unaltered.
As time passed members of this tribe emigrated to areas where Hebrew and Aramaic and Chaldean were not spoken. A large community settled and prospered in the city of Alexandria in Egypt. Greek replaced their tribal language. They needed an accurate translation of their venerated documents into Greek.
Around 250 B.C. seventy rabbis translated the sacred texts into Greek. This translation was not a bootleg edition. The project was approved by the High Priest and the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. The Septuagint, the translation of the seventy, was an official document.
A Hebrew Bible exists today. It is used by Jews everywhere. It is called the Masoretic text. It was compiled around 700 A.D. It is almost one thousand years newer than the Septuagint. The rabbis who compiled the Masoretic text were not accountable to the High Priest in Jerusalem. There no longer was a High Priest. The rabbis who compiled the Masoretic text were not accountable to the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. There no longer was a Sanhedrin.
The Septuagint predates the first appearance of the Masoretic text by almost ten centuries. The Septuagint is based upon Hebrew texts at least twelve centuries older than the texts upon which the Masoretic version is based. .Yet, modern Christian translations of the Old Testament rely on the Masoretic Text, not the Septuagint.
Where is the problem?
Most of the quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament used the Septuagint as their primary source. The integrity and truthfulness of the Septuagint is completely dependant on the Septuagint being a truthful translation. Discredit the Septuagint and there is no New Testament.
There was no controversy about the integrity of the Septuagint from 250 B.C. until 135 A. D.
What had happened to provoke dissatisfaction with the Septuagint among the Jews?
Annas and Caiphas and the Sanhedrin had rejected the messianic claims of Jesus. The New Testament documents had been written and were circulating by A.D. 70. The Jews knew that the credibility of the Christian Gospels depended on the credibility of the Septuagint. Something had to be done.
Around 95 A.D. Rabbi Akiva, who later proclaimed Bar Kochba as the messiah, hired a man named Aquila to translate a Hebrew to Greek version of the Old Testament that would undermine the messianic claims of Jesus found in the Septuagint. Some scholars believe that the Masoretic text was based in part on this tendentious translation by Aquila.
Saker, thanks for the info on the Russian Orthodox Church.
a) When was the Church founded and by whom?
By Christ at the Pentocost
Thank you. And, in Acts, Jesus nominated his brother James as the first leader of the church. Does this figure in the Orthodox version of Apostolic succession?
Does that provide a adequate reply to your questions?
Since you ask, no, you haven’t addressed the questions, in my view. You are entitled not to, of course. If you want to address them, here they are slightly restated and hopefully a little clearer-
Can an organization be known as a ‘Church’ under the Orthodox definition of a church, as you state it?
Can there be more than one meaning to the word ‘church’ when it is used by Orthodox writers?
@Michael McDonnel:The one true and dogmatic Church—whose head is the divinely commissioned Cephas/Petris/Petrus the Rock, the Church of the one hated religion of the one hated God whose name alone men curse—totally collapsed fifty years ago.
Since that statement directly contradicts the words of Christ Himself “I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18) you can logically conclude for yourself that whatever collapsed fifty years ago was not the One Church of Christ but something entirely different. And, of course, I would completely agree.
More from Robert e Reis
How is the Masoretic text different from the Septuagint?
Psalm 22:16 the word “pierced” has been replaced by “lion”.
Psalm 145: 13 omitted entirely.
Isaiah 53:11 the word “light” is omitted.
On 134 occasions the Tetragrammaton, the name of God, has been replaced by “Adonai”.
Psalm 151 was omitted entirely. (It is now omitted by almost all Christian Bibles!)
Exodus 1: The number 75 replaced by 70
Genesis 10:24 some generations removed.
Deuteronomy 32:8 “Angels Of Elohim” replaced with “children of Israel.”
Jeremiah 10 verses 6 and 7 have been added in the Masoretic.
Psalm 96:10 “Say among the nations, YHWH reigns from the wood” omitted.
Isaiah 19:18 “city of righteousness” changed to the “city of the sun” or in some versions “the city of destruction.”
The Masoretic scribes purposely and willfully rearranged the original chapter order in the prophetic Book of Daniel, so that the chapters make no sense chronologically.
Isaiah 61:1 “recovery of sight to the blind.”. Omitted.
In Psalm 40:6 “a body you have prepared for me” was replaced by “you opened my ears.”
Deuteronomy 32:43 ‘Let all the messengers of Elohim worship him.’” Omitted
Genesis 4:8: “Let us go into the field” is omitted.
Deuteronomy 32:43. Moses’ song is shortened.
Isaiah 53 contains 10 spelling differences, 4 stylistic changes and 3 missing letters for light in verse 11, for a total of 17 differences.
Isaiah 7:14. “Virgin” replaced by “young woman.”
(When Aquila made his Greek translation of the Old Testament at the behest of Rabbi Akiva, he changed the Septuagint’s “virgin” into “young woman”. The Masoretic compilers may have followed his lead.)
The Masoretic text differs from the Septuagint in hundreds of places.
@Michael McDonnel: and, I forgot to add, when Christ told Peter “That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” he did not mean Peter himself, but Peter’s confession of faith “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God”. This is what the Church taught for 1000 years (in the East and in the West) before the Franks decided that they did not need to understand Greek to, shall we say, “dogmatize and innovate” (and I am being polite here).
How can the Theandric Body of Christ be founded on a single human being. That is plain silly to anyone who understands that the Church is not an organization but the Mystical Body of God.
OT, but not Ukrainian related either.
Отважная кошка спасла жизнь четырехлетнему ребенку
Check out the video. Cat rescues 4 year old from attacking dog. It happened in California and there are a lot of various western and youtube examples of this story, but I’m partial to the Lifenews version. Simply because I’d rather listen to the Russian narration, rather than the metallic noise from the generic American newscasters.
Religion is OK for humans, provided they respect each other’s views and life choices, but no doubt, cats rule all. ;)
And more from robert e Reis (gets interesting,but i cannot confirm it)
How do we know which text is accurate?
The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered just after World War II.
According to carbon dating, textual analysis, and handwriting analysis the documents were written at various times between the middle of the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD. There are fragments from all of the books of the Hebrew Bible fragments except the Book of Esther and the Book of Nehemiah.
In addition an independent Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible exists, the Peshitta.
Control of the Dead Sea Scrolls was a military objective of Israelis. It was achieved by their victory in the Six Days War.
The publication of the scrolls slowed to a trickle.
After 1971, the international team even refused to allow the publication of photographs of the material. They excluded scholars who wanted to make independent evaluations.
The embargo was not broken until 1991.
An addition to the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars can use the Peshitta to decide between the Masoretic text and the Septuagint.
I have given examples above of some of the places the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Peshitta, and the Septuagint agree.
The Masoretic Text is part of a tradition that began with Rabbi Akiva. Rabbis rewrote the Jewish Bible to destroy the credibility of the New Testament.
The Hebrew versions of the Old Testament have been used to proclaim scores of “messiahs” . The Septuagint was only used once.
this is from a blog called mystagogy from john sanidopoulos.As a catholic i was shocked at a)the differences and b)a certain tribe likes to shift the goalposts
@Anonymous:So there was corruption after all in adopting Sunday worship
Christianity never adopted “Sunday worship”. It adopted CONSTANT worship. Sunday replaced Saturday simply to mark a new day, the day of the resurrection. But Christianity strives to have prayer always and in everything, in this sense it is a deeply mystical religion, one in which theological truths are EXPERIENCED and not deducted by scholastic methods. It aims to make one’s entire life a non-ceasing worship and though not everybody can achieve that, there are many who can. I have personally met quite a few of such “hesychasts” (silent, inner prayer, or prayer of the heart) who are in prayer 24/7/365, even in their sleep. The “Sunday morning” “Christianity” is a recent invention. This is why the Orthodox Church has conserved corporate services like the All-Night Vigil, the Midnight Service, the Hours (for the hours of the day), etc. to which one adds his/her private prayers. This is true not only for monastics, but also for laity.
I tried to read it – but it was boring and I do not visit this blog for religion than to see the opinions about geopolitics.
@James: okay – last ones for today but after that I hit the sack :-)
In Acts, Jesus nominated his brother James as the first leader of the church. Does this figure in the Orthodox version of Apostolic succession?
No the way you put it. ALL the Apostles were equals so Apostolic succession can come from ANY of them. There never was one super-apostle. The sole source/fountain of all is Christ Himself.
Can an organization be known as a ‘Church’ under the Orthodox definition of a church, as you state it? Can there be more than one meaning to the word ‘church’ when it is used by Orthodox writers?
Yes. The word “Church/church” in English can refer to
a) a building (like the church of Christ the Savoir in Moscow or Saint Sophia in Constantinople)
b) an organization (like the Patriarchate of Jerusalem)
c) the Theandric Body of Christ (The One True Church)
Same word, VERY different meanings.
Have I answered to your satisfaction now? (if not, it shall be for tomorrow afternoon, ok?).
The essential Church is a spiritual entity, the bride of Christ, indefectible/infallible and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against Her. But the man made earthly Church militant did go down like a brain shot elephant at and after Vatican Council II.
God bless and edify you Saker for this brave (reckless?) adventure.
By the bye, the validly ordained and consecrated Russian hierarchy will be the main re-builders of the Roman hierarchy which got “changed” out of existence by the God haters of V2.
@bazzr: thanks a lot for adding an much more detailed and better written explanation than mine. I very much appreciate it!
Now to bed! (at least for me)
Experience…24/7 ..prayer of the heart. Finally…now you are talking the nitty gritty.
“I think that it is undeniable that Christianity grew out of the religion of the Jewish people before the birth of Christ. Christ Himself constantly makes references to the books the Church has united into one volume called the “Old Testament”.
Saker, you do realise that the descendents of the Pharasies have capitalised on the similarity between the words ‘Jew’ and ‘Judah’?
“… the notion of “Judeo-Christian” is simply at least as nonsensical as speaking of a White-Black or a Dry-Wet.”
Oh yeah. Absolutely!
Saker, Christian theology is obviously not your forte. You are read for your insights on Russia, not for your anti-Catholic bigotry. Please stay on topic!
I’m suddenly overcome with an awareness of my ego-maniacal ignorance!
I’ve always avoided delving into only the intimate core beliefs of believers (a lot to leave out, I never realized how much). I see it’s undermined my understanding of everything
Ya know, I came here for the geo-politics in the company of Russians but reading this post and comments has given me a glimmer of a very vague notion of faith from the perspective of the faithful. Ouch!. Clever trick.
Orthodox Christians literally “believe in the Church” and this is why the Church is most definitely not an organization.
This made no sense to me when I began reading your post. Now I think it does. I was comparing two different things when trying to get my head around the differences between Orthodox and Western Chrisendom. A similar vague notion occurred to me yesterday when reading of the differences between Shia and Sunni interpretations of the Koran.
Also, the info about Luther and the Masocretic text blows my mind. Assuming it’s true, and I have no reason to think that it isn’t, it’s an enormously informing insight into things I’ve sensed but never even began to comprehend.
I’ll need to put the keyboard on the other side of the room for awhile when I visit this blog. Very very god. Thank you Saker.
Some of you might find this interesting:
Islam and Knowledge vs. Socialization by Zahir Ebrahim
@…in Acts, Jesus nominated his brother James as the first leader of the church. Does this figure in the Orthodox version of Apostolic succession?
This (the nomination) cannot figure in the Orthodox “version” of Apostolic succession, because it does not figure in the Acts either! You seem to know more than we know.
Saker and friends,
Thanks for the refreshing discussion. In trying to understand anything human, for example current events, it’s helpful to consider the cultures and religions that are involved. This is a very difficult task, as there are many points of view. Also, different approaches make sense to some and not to others.
I would like share a book that helped me understand Christianity. It is: Pagan Christs, by John Robertson. See:
Please be advised that, for several reasons, this book is not for everyone. Nevertheless, I expect that some will find it very interesting.
(As I recall, the original version is quite detailed and tedious, but there is a condensed version available. The latter is what I recommend.)
@mad1 said..entice you into reading Joseph Atwill’s “Caesar’s Messiah”
Thanks my friend, but we don’t read here children’s (should I say childish?)books. It is a discussion for adults.
This (the nomination) cannot figure in the Orthodox “version” of Apostolic succession, because it does not figure in the Acts either! You seem to know more than we know.
Quite right! It appears in the Gospel of Thomas. References in Acts (12:17) and in Galatians make it clear that James, the brother of Jesus (aka James the Just), was the head of the Church in Jerusalem. This is also attested to by early church historians. I don’t think James’ leadership is in serious dispute
Even if you were Buddhist,Taoist or even Jehowa Wittness, most of us here in Canada, who read your blog, appreciate you not because of any religion, but because you stick to the truth the best you are able to.
And there is no religion higher than the Truth.
Comparative religion was my lifelong hobby, but I never wanted to just believe; I wanted to KNOW; I respect all of them, as long as they don’t preach violence or discriminate those who believe otherwise; But I think( if I had to choose one) it would be according to Gautama sound advice:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
“I hope that I have not offended anybody here, especially not my Muslim friends and readers”
Not at all, I thought the reverse would have been true. I would have thought your Muslim readers are offending you. Your answering these questions is appreciated.
First a few caveats.
I have a better than average knowledge understanding of my faith, Mohammad May have more, but these debates and arguments are better handled by alims or scholars.
Second, I guess the idea here should be to, as you put it rightly, “agree to disagree,” clarify understanding and not prove each other wrong or put down either faith.
Third, I believe that this issue should ideally have been settled by Jesus, Mohammad and/or God. And the reason it was not would mean that God knows something we don’t or wants something or some effort on our part. It is His mercy that I believe He will accept the efforts made by all, not just “Shia Muslims” or “Orthodox Christians.”
Regarding the corruption of texts.
You mention that logic entails that God would not allow a corruption of his word to happen or the message would get corrupted. But then this should have been true for the Jews as well. Their earlier text should have been untouched as well. And logically God should be expected to protect a text only if He says/guarantees that He shall protect it. In the Quran, we Muslims believe, he guarantees this. But no such undertaking is made by Him of the Bible, as far as I know. And I don’t think it is logical that historic record is always accurate. The victor is writing the history. The devil is in the detail. To me humans wanting to corrupt a message is more logical than them wanting to keep it intact. At least those humans who do not truly believe and wish to use it to their advantage or interpret it differently.
Regarding The Comforter.
This comes across to me as one of those optical illusions that you see can see from two different angles and from each a different image forms. For a Muslim believer Ayats of the Bible will logically refer to Mohammad (sawa) and to a Christian believer or a Jewish believer they will logically refer to anything but that.
To me as a Muslim, these Ayats do refer to Mohammad(sawa). It does not make sense for an individual to make such an impact on humanity and not be prophesied positively if he were right or people to have been warned if he were going to lead so many astray. Maybe this will open another can of worms and Mohammad will be referred to as the anti Christ. But I’m referring to the Bible foretelling of him in a negative way if he were not true.
To me this ayat:
Jeremiah 46: 10 “For this is the day of the Lord God of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries; and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood; for the Lord God of hosts has a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.”
Clearly refers to the events of Karbala. It may to a Christian refer to some other incident. But in that case, I would look to the scale of the event. Was a greater sacrifice given on the banks of the Euphrates or anywhere else for that matter?
I will continue
Regarding the Abrahamic religions
Again this is to do with perspective and only then does logic follow. You believe modern Rabbinical Judaism is anti Christian. They would be offended and would believe anything but that. You could argue they are wrong.
But see it from this perspective. The Jewish religion today may be anti Christian, but what of those Jews living back then when Christ the Messiah was sent to them, was not Christ bringing them something? Continuing or renewing their faith? In that sense Christianity is a continuation of Judaism back then.
Regarding Mohammad (sawa) being ex-nihilo and having no basis in Juedo Christian beliefs. Unlike Christ, Mohammad was not sent to the Jews. His religion was not limited to them. God was not renewing a particular existing faith through him. He was sending his message to all mankind. Muslims believe there is a sequence, there is also that reference give from the bible, where Muhammad is coming from the brothers of the Israelites.
In twelve translations on this page it says brethren, brothers, and once family. In five places Israelites.
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.
Here Muslims point out this means the line of Ishmael, brother of Isaac.
There is one point that sticks out for me. And continuation is what comes to mind.
To give you an example that you must have heard, basic mathematics-such as 2*2=4-does not change even when solving complex problems.
If something is haram in the beginning it should be haram till the end. If pig meat is dirty, unclean for the Jews, it should be so for the Christians till the end. Just like it is for the Muslims. You cannot, logically say, that God has now made them clean. The same goes for a lot of other practices. This, to me, is a sign of the corruption Muslims talk about. In today’s day and age, even though Muslims may be the least attractive from the outside, they uphold most of your early beliefs.
Best regards Saker, to cans of worms
Saker wrote they [tornadoes] mostly hit a national wildlife refuge south of us, there never was any real danger
I have spent only one week in Florida but a few days were in a wild-life refuge. Really impressive flocks of herons and egrets. Right now is their nesting season. Those tornadoes easily destroyed many adult birds and most of the chicks in its path. It is most certain that these birds faced real danger.
This is relevant to the discussion on religion. There is little doubt in my mind that our ancestors (those that lived from say 500 bc to 50,000 years ago) found religious significance in the other animals they lived with. Once the monotheists gained hegemony these beliefs were dismissed as heresy, paganism or animism. For some of us, finding a spiritual connection in nature (or the few wild-life refuges that remain) are more meaningful then the words written down by a bunch of bronze age goat herders 2500 years ago.
At the risk of inappropriate levity here, to many all this is akin to debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin – while the world goes to hell in a handcart so-to-speak.
That said, and to join what I see as the substance of the issues being explored here – the key Christian issue anyway:
In reply to @Michael McDonnel’s exgesis: “whose head is the devinely commissioned Cephas/Petris/Petrus the Rock”, @Saker said: “…that statement directly contradicts the words of Christ himself – ‘I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail againsts it’ “.
Not so the thing appears to me. Correct me if I am wrong but Christ’s words – from the Latin Vulgate – were is fact:
…and I say to thee: that thou art Peter; (ie Cephas/Petris/Petrus) and upon this rock I will build my church
The King James version is practically identical too.
IOW – Peter is the Rock upon which Christ will build his church.
I am not familiar with the English/Russian/whatever translations of the original biblical texts used by the Orthodox faiths. Do they too exclude the phrase that clearly identifies Peter as the figurative Rock upon which Christ’s church is to be built?
Sorry, my last post was made before seeing the follow-ups to the comments I disputed.
However, @Sakers explanation is also exegesis and thus eminently disputable. It seems to me that the Latin faith interpretation of Matthew 17:18 as effectively defining the Papacy as leader of the apostolic succession with Peter as its first incumbent, to be a very persuasive piece of Latin exegesis – FWIW
How does Orthodox exegesis deal with it?
I found the account of Esdras (Ezra) interesting, especially the part which says: “Then I opened my mouth, and behold, a full cup was offered to me; it was full of something like water, but its color was like fire. And I took it and drank; and when I had drunk it, my heart poured forth understanding, and wisdom increased in my breast, for my spirit retained its memory …” Infusions of the psychoactive mushroom Amanita muscaria are red.
So Ezra and his five colleagues wrote 94 books, of which 24 were published. What happened to them? Have they all been lost?
Thanks to The Saker for explaining the difference between the Septuagint and the Masoretic text (the current rabbinical Bible, and used as a source for Luther’s translation and for the KJV of the OT).
bazzr quotes Robert E. Reis as stating that the the MT was compiled around 700 A.D., based on a tendentious (mis)translation from Hebrew to Greek of the (then current) Hebrew Bible by a man named Aquila. However, The Saker seems to say that the MT was produced by rabbis shortly after 70 A.D. So was Reis was mistaken in saying that the MT was produced much later?
I would like to see a similar account by The Saker of the New Testament. Many Christians accept everything in the NT as literally true (as if these were events which happened just last week and are now being reliably reported). But critics point to contradictions among the four gospels, and one might suspect that the NT also developed different versions during the last couple of millennia.
And I’ve read that Cyrus I. Scofield rewrote the KJV “by inserting Zionist-friendly notes in the margins, between verses and chapters, and on the bottoms of the pages”, resulting in “the Scofield Bible” and producing what we now know of as “Christian Zionism”. Would this constitute an instance of textual corruption?
I have observed that behind the great analysis of yours , lie neither the Ivy-league trained secular military analyst nor that of a Russian nationalist but that of a very concerned passionate Christian who believe in his God by heart.
But when it comes to empire , is faith enough to defeat it ? I would love your views on this one.
@Saker: How can the Theandric Body of Christ be founded on a single human being.
That is exegesis too; ie NOT what Matthew 17:18 actually says. It says “upon this rock I will build my church. A more reasonable exegesis IMO, is the FULLY allegorical one (since use of the term ‘Rock’ is self-evidently allegorical anyway), viz:
It is not a question of founding on a single human being, rather of beginning a long, arduous task to be carried out by a group of human beings with a leader – ie the apostles lead by Peter; the church is provided with an initial structure IOW.
BTW – My posts sometimes appear as “Sabretache”. Sorry about that. My fat fingers + the vagaries of Google. Sabretache=Wikispooks
Here are some people who know more than me, and on account of my faith, I believe were touched by God.
This one was a scholar, I think he mentions a priest. So his reasoning might be more appealing:
This one inspires me and is very moving. He was a Sunni who had heard a lot of negative things about the Shia, such as they have a different Quran and they believes that revelation was meant for Ali and came to Mohammad by mistake. His family is still Sunni.
This man was inspired by Ali ibn Abi Talib (as)
This man chose Shia Islam over Sunni because of the differences of doctrines and practices. Something very basic.
There are other videos. But you can search for them if you like.
And I have heard also of Shias becoming Christian in Iran after getting fed up with the mullahs. That’s perhaps one of the reasons they were never meant to rule. I only post these for the eloquence with which these people explain themselves, the arguments they make, and their genuineness.
Saker, thank you for your time and patience and your explanation of Apostolic succession.
If I have it right, the ability of a priest, bishop or church to adequately perform the Sacraments or Mysteries is dependent on an unbroken line of succession from the apostles and a faithful adherence to correct doctrine.
If either of these two conditions are not met, then we have a person or group that is now outside the “Church”. And the church in this case is defined as “the living body of Christ” as in 1 Tim 3:15? Could I describe it that way?
So the succession must go back to one of the twelve apostles, as you say. But why does the succession have to proceed from one of these twelve and not some of the other followers of Christ at the time, some of the other disciples? Did Christ give something to the apostles and only them?
Here are some of my thoughts about this subject. Hopefully no one will be offended, this is a touchy subject after all. I come from a „Christian“ background, having been member of a sect that most know and few like. So though some of my former views and interpretations were comparatively odd, I do know the bible and have read it quite a lot. After I left my religion I dived into it even more to understand better and to learn about other forms of interpretation. After a while I started looking at this from more of a naïve and simple approach. Quite frankly I see Christianity as a failure. The core principles of Jesus, to love, to treat others with dignity, to be kind and forgiving are things all people can relate to. However the focus of Christians has always been converting others to the faith and upholding tradition. Yes that was commanded by Jesus, but had Christians done better through works there would have been less of a need to actively convert others. Besides that the history of Christianity has been one of bloodshed. Even today. Look around. How many Christian Nations are involved in warfare and shedding of blood and the destruction of our planet? This post and some comments also illustrate how Christians tend to focus on tradition and defending their traditions with scripture. We have so many groups, sects and churches, all filled with members that use the same basic ideas in scripture to defend their particular views, many doing so with a dogmatic attitude. I know that this will offend some but frankly- this is more in line with the Pharisees than with Christ. If you just consider the gospels you see a man on earth who does not emphasize tradition and dogma, but actions and deeds, a way of life. A man who was refreshingly different from the scribes and learned ones of his day, who focused all on tradition, not on kindness. Fast forward a few decades and what do you have? You have various followers of Christ arguing about proper procedures and traditions. That is mostly how it has been ever since. You can ask different people about the views of their denomination and they will all tell you that theirs alone is the correct one. And they will meticulously prove it using scripture. They can’t all be right, can they? Or are they perhaps? I find it sad how many will say that it is a matter of salvation or eternal damnation even. What kind of loving God will make salvation dependent on tradition and belonging to a particular Church? Jesus said he was the way and the truth and the life. So one could argue that if he didn’t focus overly on tradition Christians should not either. Let’s all be very honest here- history shows that religion, that includes Christianity, has been used to control people. This mechanism works because people are caught up in the basic notion that they have to belong to be saved. In this chaotic world, filled with chaotic people having chaotic ideas, a world that thrives on untruth and outright lies, how can anyone expect that salvation can be had by belonging to one particular church or group to be saved and acceptable to God the Father? What would that have to do with love? It would be like expecting your children to walk through a mine field, under enemy fire. If they fail, bad luck, off to hell, they didn’t try hard enough.
End of Part 1.
‘The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.’
It’s amazing that although Byzantium fell long ago, it’s vituperative theological disputes still persist.
There was no homogenous Christianity in the first century, which is apparent in many of the NT writings. There were lots of groups among Christians with vastly different views and outlooks. This is something many people are unaware of or like to forget. And I am not even talking about the more “heretical” groups then. So it is likely that we can’t expect there to be one clear and solely true path. The Israelites had a religious system that was strict, filled with procedures, traditions and many laws. They had festivals to observe and their temple was of great importance in their worship. Contrast that with what Jesus told the Samaritan woman:
“Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24God is [a]spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:20-24)
And though I am not much of a fan of Paul, I will quote him too:
„It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery… 6For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love… 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:1,6,14)
Interestingly Paul was speaking about circumcision here. People were still clinging to old traditions, that they felt needed to be upheld as true form of worship, trying to force their views on other Christians at the time. Paul spoke up against that. He emphasized freedom. Are we free as Christians or not? That doesn’t mean we are free to do as we please, but to me it seems that we are no longer bound by traditions and strict adherence to procedure.
Something that John wrote intrigues me:
“Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.“ (1 John 2:27)
Can it be that the connection one has with Christ and the Father is far more individual than many believe? And that it is less dependent on denomination and such matters?
Final quote, a well known one, by the „man“ himself:
36“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the great and foremost commandment. 39The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)
Could it be that belonging to a Church is far less crucial than we may think? Maybe, just maybe all that matters is to fulfill these two commandments, at least as basis. We could argue all our lives about who is right and who isn’t, which church rightfully upholds true Christianity and which doesn’t. And in all that time we would loose focus of what is really important. Does this world need practically applied Christian principles, such as more kindness, more forgiveness and compassion? I would say it does. This is my perspective, I don’t claim it to be truth. But I have to say it is best to be careful with dogmatism and claims that ones own Church is the true Church. I’ve been there, I’ve done that and I have failed badly, after having been fully convinced- with scripture as my basis.
I thought of the loss of plant and animal life too when Saker referred to the tornadoes. An oversight I feel.
The Islamic belief is that this entire world was created for man, and mankind was created to worship the creator. But humans are supposed to be stewards of this world and maintain it. Not always true however, especially in Muslim countries.
Regarding goat herders.
Goat herders on trees:
The prophet “Every single Muslim that plants or cultivates anything of which humans, animals or birds may eat from is counted as charity towards them on their behalf” Sahih al-Bukhari, v.2, p.817, n.2195
Goat herders on population control:
One of the two conveniences in life is to have fewer children. 145. Nahjul Balagha
Goat herders on pollution:
The grandson of a goat herder Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) has said that we should not pollute our environment otherwise it would become impossible to live on this planet. (I can’t find the reference for this)
Goat herders on trees again:
imam Ja’far as Sadiq (a.s):”There are six things which will be available for a true- believer after his death: the virtuous child, a book written by him, a well dug by him, letting water reach a needed area, the good tradition and manner established and the tree planted by him.”
Unrelated but nice, And Goat herders on oligarchs:
The worst men of all are the treacherous businessmen
beautifully expressed! Thank you
You might wish to get “The Orthodox Study Bible,” which is a new translation based in places on the “New King James Version.” It is published by Thomas Nelson (Nashville) under the auspices of the Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, CA.
Latin Christians and Protestants will find the Introduction hard-going. The footnotes are truly illuminating as they present the Orthodox interpretation of the meaning of Old Testament and New Testament verses with respect to the Jesus and the Church.
ceasar’s messiah has been debunked,funnily enough on a web site called ceaser’s messiah debunked.Some quotes from the site..
“The basic premise of Caesar’s Messiah is that the Roman Imperial family, the Flavians, invented Jesus by using the Jewish historian Josephus and, presumably, other people to write the gospels after Rome defeated the Jews in 70 AD. The idea was to make the militant Jewish rebels accept a peaceful Messiah and, thereby, give Rome less trouble.
Atwill says that the New Testament was written in a code that requires you to read Josephus’ War of the Jews alongside the New Testament to get the joke. He, of course, is the only person to crack this code, making him super smart.”
“The famous historian Tacitus says that Nero was persecuting Christians in Rome in 64 AD. He also mentions that “immense multitudes” of Christians were living in Rome at the time. Try to figure out why “immense multitudes” of Christians are in Rome ten years before Christianity was supposed to have been invented.
Suetonius also mentions Nero punishing Christians, as well as many Christian historians. That seems like a bad PR idea to write this kind of stuff: “Hey, everyone! Join the new religion so we can burn you alive and feed you to lions. The signup sheet is right over there.””
“Consider just this one example: The worshipping of the emperors and Roman gods with the incense altar was considered a matter of national security by the Romans, because they believed that the gods and the dead emperors defended Rome; and anyone that didn’t do this sacrifice was angering the gods, and, therefore, endangering Rome’s national security.”
“So many Christians were dying in the early days of Christianity because they refused this practice of sacrificing to the Roman gods. Pliny the Younger wrote the Emperor Trajan asking him what he should do because he was having to kill so many people, including women and children. He wanted to confirm with the Emperor that the official policy was to kill them if they didn’t sacrifice to Caesar. He had not dealt with this before, because there weren’t many religions out there that had a problem with sacrificing to Caesar.”
“We actually have a copy of Trajan’s response to Pliny the Younger; so, if you want to know how Rome felt about this, here you go:”
“…if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it–that is, by worshiping our gods–even though he was under suspicion in the past, shall obtain pardon…”
Think about that logically. Trajan is saying that the proof that a person is really a Christian in his eyes is that they won’t worship the emperor. Does that really sound like something that Rome would create for the people?
Sorry but it’s snake oil(the book)by all means be a unbeliever if you like,but lets not add anti-christianity to it
@Maurice, yes, beautifully expressed. What you are saying applies to Islam also.
There is an incident that I was taught in the mosque.
In Moses’s time, a woman used to earn her living through prostitution. And a pious man approached her. She turned him away saying that you have been misguided. She died shortly after. And God asked Moses to bury her. Moses was shocked and asked why? And God said that she was loved by God. That she was one of His. And no one else should bury her.
No practice, no religion, no creed, just intention and good action.
Luther, who was opposed to the Latin clericalism and who suspected that the Latins might have corrupted the text, decided to base his teaching on what he apparently sincerely believed was the “original” Hebrew text, the Masoretic forgery. As a result, the vast majority of Bibles available in the Western World are based on a text deliberately forged by Christ-hating rabbis,
I have to doubt that Luther decided that by himself but rather that he was steered in that direction by those who sought the destruction of (Roman) Christendom.
Calvin was a knave and Luther was a fool (useful idiot).
@Anonymous:So there was corruption after all in adopting Sunday worship
Christianity never adopted “Sunday worship”. It adopted CONSTANT worship. Sunday replaced Saturday simply to mark a new day, the day of the resurrection.
18 May, 2014 03:01
The Lord of the Sabbath rose from the dead on the Sabbath as required by the 3 day and 3 night sign of Jonas. That the tomb was empty already was discovered early on the first day of the week (Yom Rishon) but this is not Sunday because Yom Rishon starts on the erev (night fall of Saturday).
You are historically incorrect. The change of Sabbath to Sunday was because the majority of the believers turned anti-Jew when the persecution of Jews by Romans went heavy duty. The assembly’s majority became gentile as the Jews melted away.
The Sabbath is the first in the list of appointed times and feasts, called moedims in Leviticus 23. So the Sabbath represents all of the moedims and it is the most sacred day of them all. So much so that the Sabbaths breakers were killed on the spot. Judah was exiled to Babylon for 70 years for not observing the Sabbaths for the land. This is how serious the Sabbath observance and guarding is as it was foretold in Lev 26:2-35 of the very serious consequences for breaking it 2 Chr 36:21.
Jewish liturgy treats Sabbath as a “bride” and “queen.” The tradition holds that the dwelling manifestation of HVHY, the Shekinah, is the Sabbath Bride (the Sabbath Kallah or kehila) and it continues to this day.
Is it scripturaly correct to consider the Sabbath, the Queen?
Close but not quite. The Sabbath is not the Queen. The Sabbath keepers assembly is the bride and Queen to be. The Sabbath keeping is the sign of the everlasting covenant (Exodus 31:13; Eze 20:12 & 20). Yahushua said:
a) The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath (Mat_12:8; Mar_2:28). He is the bridegroom and His Queen and bride “the kehila” is the .
b) Yahushua said that the Sabbath was created for man and not man for the Sabbath (Mar 2:27). Thus, the Sabbath can not be the Queen but the assembly of Sabbath keepers is the bride and Queen to be. Yahushua was telling them that the Sabbath keepers assembly is the Queen to be or the Bride and that HE IS THE LORD of the Sabbath keepers because He is the bridegroom.
The kehila differentiates herself from all other brides in that she observes the Sabbaths (which is the head of all the other moedims). In other words, she observes all the set apart appointed times of the wedding rehearsal. The Shekinah beautifies the bride like the eunuch did Hadassa (queen Esther) telling her what to wear and how to behave.
Exactly!! She needs to make herself beautiful, and pure white with her appearance and her heart. Ready for her bridegroom. The weekly Sabbaths, and all other Sabbathons, are the wedding banquet rehearsals for the Great Sabbath or wedding day feast. It is a matter of obedience and rehearsal and differentiating herself from all the other women.
The bride is eager to have a perfect wedding day. She and her helper, the Shekinah, plan and rehearse for weeks, months, years in some cases to have as much beauty and joy as possible for the big day.
The bridegroom called himself the Lord of the Sabbath not the Lord of Sunday. Yahushua is the Lord of the Sabbath keepers. So those that have chosen the Sunday or any other day for worship have fallen in a satanic trap. They are in for a rude awakening and a disastrous surprise.
@I don’t think James’ leadership is in serious dispute
No, what’s in dispute is the cocksure attribution to Acts of a thing that is not there (“In Acts, Jesus’ followers ask him who they should turn to for guidance/leadership and he directs them to his brother James, not Peter. Clearly, the Roman Catholic Church has their ‘wires crossed’ somewhere”), which shows that you have your ‘wires crossed somwhere’
Saker, Islam doesn’t appear ex-nihilo as it borrows from Talmudism as I mentioned earlier and from Apocrypha for its Mary and Jesus writings. So when Islam says that Christians corrupted the scriptures is because Islam holds Apocrypha as authority sources while Christianity rejects these as authority.
@ Maurice concerning your comment about the abolition of tradition and procedure observance.
The Master didn’t come to abolish the Torah (otherwise He would disqualify Himself as the promised Messiah). He came to to magnify it and make it honorable
Isa_42:21 The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the Torah, and make it honourable.
The Master was not against the procedural observance. He was against hypocrisy and against observance of traditions that were spurious for being outside the written Torah (the so called Oral Torah).
Mat_23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, AND NOT TO LEAVE THE OTHER UNDONE.
This as well was the first thing that raised my eyebrows. I do not understand a religious persons way of thinking and i think the same way you do not understand a non-religious persons way of thinking. We seem to be really that different. With ‘i’ and ‘you’ i mean not just you and me personally, but every non-believer and every sincere religious believer.
I can’t imagine a non-religious person is ‘hating’ religions, the only exception being someone who has had to endure great pain in the name of xyz religion, which could make this person hate that specific religion. Please correct me if i’m wrong, with examples if possible.
All other persons hating religions, i imagine to be (fanatical) members of some other religions or cults, or persons _believing_ in some kind of anti-religious ideology.
I have read your text and tried to understand it. Of course, i only grasped a few things, interesting nonetheless.
Anyway, what i always wanted to know and maybe you or someone else here is able to answer that. First, what is the gist of what a Christian belives. I mean, the immutable core beliefs? Is there maybe a web site you could point me to? I found some myself, but i’d like to see one endorsed by you or the religious commenters here.
The second and more important question is about the word ‘belief’ itself. Translated to my language and the way i interpret it (in a strict, non-sloppy sense), it means something like that: taking something for the truth, beyond doubt, although the one proposing it can’t prove it (right now off-hand, or in general). Now, i was looking it up in Merriam Webster’s dictionary and this shows that other uses/interpretations are possible.
“Synonym Discussion of BELIEF
belief, faith, credence, credit mean assent to the truth of something offered for acceptance. belief may or may not imply certitude in the believer (my belief that I had caught all the errors). faith almost always implies certitude even where there is no evidence or proof (an unshakable faith in God). ..”
For instance: “.. belief may or may not imply ‘certitude’ in the believer ..”
and: “.. faith ‘almost always’ implies ‘certitude’ even where there is no evidence or proof ..”
Not for ‘belief’ nor always for ‘faith’ certitude is required according to MW.
Now, do you interpret the words belief (in a religious context) and faith as meaning the same or do you make a difference? Is there certitude or not? When religious people ‘believe’ in something (which they cannot provide proof for), do they think of it in the way that they could say as well ‘This is the truth, i am pretty sure, but of course there is the possibility that it could be wrong’, or do they think of it in the way of ‘This is the truth, i am absolutely sure, i am certain, there is no way it could be wrong’.
I sincerely would like to know the answer.
There is no dispute that I can see. I granted your point about Acts. I said you were right and corrected it by saying it was from Thomas. The rest still stands and it is still the Catholic Church that has its wires crossed because, as you agreed, James was the leader after Jesus and therefore the succession passed to him and not to Peter. Further, Peter was still never the bishop of Rome and therefore could never have been a Pope.
So there goes the succession and authority that goes with it that the Vatican claims for itself.
I am unclear where this leaves the Orthodox Church. Saker has said they share the same succession initially but Saker also says the succession can come from any of the Apostles
As much I admire you for your analyses about the situation between East and West and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, I beg to differ on this one.
There has ever been any proof as of the existence of man named Jesus Christ.
Please watch the videos below :
or you should consider buying the following book :
That Yahushua expected the Sabbath observance to continue in times after His death, resurrection, ascension during times of future persecution is explicit here:
Mat_24:20 But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day:
That Paul taught gentiles to keep the feasts days (moedims) is explicit here with respect to the feast of unleavened bread (cHag haMatzah):
1Co_5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
That Yahushua thought poorly of swine eating by the gentile Gadarenes is explicit in His permission for the Legion of demons to possess the herd of swine at Gadara and subsequent immediate destruction of two thousand pigs in the Sea of Galilee.
This is clear that Yahushua upheld the dietary laws of clean and unclean foods even for gentiles.
Saker, Orthodox Christians, particularly women are notorious for kissing the stone in the Holy Sepulcher and the marble star in the church of the Nativity. I have witnessed this at both sites as I have also witnessed the Talmudist worshiping / kissing the stones at Herod’s temple mount retaining wall. This is a form of corruption of Christianity and Judaism not unlike the idolatrous kissing of the black stone in Mecca by Islamists.
A video for Sunday:
Thanks to religious lefties:
why so many words about very simple thing?
there’s a simple equation/defintion, valid for any religion/church.
dogmatized philosophy becomes religion, institutionalized religon becomes church.
@”No practice, no religion, no creed, just intention and good action.
An odyssey turns unlucky, for awhile: Flat tire while driving through a lonely stretch of road. The tire wrench turns out to be missing. Godammit! How did that happen?
Waiting for help.
An hour later a car approaches, slows down, the driver checks me out, stops. An unshaven, seemingly mildly inebriated, shirtless middle aged fellow lurches out of his car, glances at the flat tire, and asks. “Problem?”
“No tire wrench.”
He studies me for a moment, retreats to his vehicle, comes back with what’s needed.
He insists on changing the tire alone. Works in silence. I am a spectator and when he’s finished I thank him and sheepishly ask him what I owe him.
He looks me in the eye with his bleary eyes and then turns and trudges back to his car. Over his shoulder he says with a glare, almost angrily. “Pass it on.
@Saker : By the way, I would welcome any offer to present a Muslim view of this – or any other – topic here and if somebody submits it (in the comment section for example) I will be glad to post it.
I was gone all day and when I came back I was glad to see that you have honored me on the front page, with my favorite subject Religion.
Eat your heart out Nora, I am on the first page too! :)
You are much better writer than I am. I will be posting for few days in this comment sections and then if you please compile it for me. And, then I would greatly appreciate if you post it for me.
I would also like to leave this topic at the top for everyone enjoyment, learning, and gaining knowledge from each other. Rather than getting our religion from MSM/CNN so forth.
I just want make a quick comment on this:
“In conclusion I want to say that a closer look at history shows that the notion of “Judeo-Christian” is simply at least as nonsensical as speaking of a White-Black or a Dry-Wet.”
In the terms that you have framed it, I agree. However, I limit myself to using the JC phrase to refer to the (alleged) Western tradition espoused by the more politically conservative. Apart from that, I found your post a refreshing change to the usual cant propounded by many so-called Western Christians.
I’m less convinced by your view of Islam: to me it seems that there has been too little archaeology done regarding it, and there has been nobody brave enough, publically, to do a full textual analysis of the Quran using modern tools. Until then, I think the jury is still out.
@Saker : this is why some Muslim scholars have had to declare that the “Comforter” mentioned by Christ to His disciples was a reference to Muhammad and not to the Holy Spirit …
Isn’t the total hypocrisy of Muslim, that in one breath they say that NT is corrupt, and in the second breath they try to prove Mohammad from the same corrupt text.
@Mindfriedo: No practice, no religion, no creed, just intention and good action.
Yes, good or bad intention if not put in action for some reason, earns 1 Good Credit.
Good action earns 10 Good Credits.
Bad action earns 1 Bad Credit.
Prophet Mohammad (saws) must be student of B. F. Skinner!
I can, if you want, post a long conversation between Ali ibn Abi Talib and Umar(the second Caliph) that explains why we are meant to kiss it.
However, suffice to say that we do not pray to it. It is not worshiped. We do not seek favours from it. Touching of the black stone is kind of a “Bayat” or allegiance we pay to God. It is a symbolic gesture.
When Shias and Sunnis visit the shrines of our imams we do not pray to them, we seek their intercession with God.
The merit for every deed in Islam depends on intention. And the basic creed of Islam is “there is no God but God, and Muhammad is the prophet of a God”
I’m not jealous, I’m glad! And looking forward to what you write.
There’s just so much to learn here. Mind you, I’m still stuck on how the words “Symbol of Faith” can be referring to what I know as a Credo (Latin for “I believe”). I’m assuming, from what has been said so far, the Orthodox version has a lot more packed into those words, but to call a statement of faith a symbol seems, well, I don’t know — maybe the Latin Church did manage to do a better job of it this one time?
Meanwhile, if anyone is interested, look what I found: http://ecmarsh.com/lxx-kjv/genesis/gen_001.htm
Brenton’s English translation of the Septuagint compared verse by verse with the King James!
i hesitate to enter, but i second Maurice’s statements.
as a RC, “retired” we may say, but having loved mass, the smells and bells, the inspired music of Handel, Mozart, Faure, and read the entire bible, and the NT several times… so in other words having put some great thought into the matter and experienced High Church…
in the end, Jesus picked simple people for his disciples. fishermen, simple guys. not intellectuals. because it’s not overly complicated. love your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. all the commandments boil down to this.
to those who don’t “get” religious people, the flock can hear the shepherd. belief is very simple. you can wake up tomorrow morning and decide to believe in Christ just as easily as you woke up today and decided not to believe. it’s Your Choice. that is the point. it’s not an intellectual pursuit. it is a leap, a choice. that’s why they call it a leap of faith. no one can prove it to your satisfaction. no one ever has been able to do that. you can look at the evidence if you like and you can DECIDE to believe, and the way will open before you, over time, as you walk the way of the faithful. in that way your choice is confirmed, over time. do not expect an engraved invitation because no one ever got one of those.
the people who make that leap and walk the way are the church, wherever they may be, imo.
best to all.
@Saker : …the Bible is a HORRIBLY difficult text to translate and the reason for it is simple: any translation of any text is always an interpretation. There are two extremes: mechanical literalism (which makes a text unreadable) or possibly correct translation but that always requires a choice between similar expressions and words, it requires a re-working of the grammar, the quest for similar idioms, etc. By the way, this is ALSO why the LXX is so priceless: it includes a “built-in” interpretation as in the famous case of the Hebrew word “almah” which could mean any young female OR a virgin depending on the context in Hebrew but with the 70 translators translated as “parthenos” which is quasi-gynecological in its meaning of “virgin”.
Thank you for posting the above. The second chapter of the Quran is called, “Cow” and it is the longest chapter. The Jews used to be “Cow Worshipers” and story of the “Golden Calf” is in the same chapter too.
So my first cousin and I decide to translate this chapter from Arabic to English to see what experience we can gain. We quickly found out and to quote you, “it was a HORRIBLY difficult text to translate and the reason for it is simple: any translation of any text is always an interpretation. There are two extremes: mechanical literalism (which makes a text unreadable) or possibly correct translation but that always requires a choice between similar expressions and words, it requires a re-working of the grammar, the quest for similar idioms, etc.
Question: Then why don’t you see the translation of LXX from Hebrew to Greek/Latin in the same light?
Add to that they were seventy translators involved. Therefore, there were more compromises to be made. Between only two of us it was hard to compromise on a choice of word to be used. Did the seventy translator vote on the choice of each and every word.
The Arabic word, “Daraba” has 42 meanings.
Shia believe that each and every verse of Quran has 7 meanings. The “Liver Eaters” believe that Quran has only literal meaning. Now, which of the seven meanings we should have translated?
For example, Jacob/Israel wrestling with Elohim is Jacob trying to repent. Can a mere man wrestle God?
You consider and I quote you, “ALSO why the LXX is so priceless: it includes a “built-in” interpretation”.
I consider LXX itself to be interpretation rather than it includes a “built-in” interpretation”.
Also, Arabic is much, much higher language than Hebrew, even in the times of Moses. Earlier than Jesus times, Hebrew was dead language and revived from Arabic in 19th century. In both Arabic and Hebrew, “almah” means a young girl and not virgin. In both Arabic and Hebrew, “butula/batoola” means a virgin girl. In TaNaKh proper usage is made of both “almah” and “butula”.
In NT, we only have Jesus 4 words in Aramaic in two of the books. Even though, his discourse to his disciple was in Aramaic. Thus, NT in Greek/Roman is a interpretation too.
BTW, his spoken words are different in each one. In one it is, “eli, eli” and in the other one it is, “eloi, eloi”. No one in USA has been able to explain me this. Can you?
Don’t worry, I will rip Islam too! :)
I am just getting hot. lol