I know that there are a wide variety of churches represented here, so I have a question. Do you ever use icons of any kind in worship? What is your view of this practice?

Orthodox Christians employ icons in most forms of worship; if nothing else to allow us to focus on God instead of each other (a great challenge, indeed.)


Ukrainian: http://flickr.com/photos/7355435@N04/802262808/
Serbian: http://www.took.org.yu/images/crkvaidvor2.jpg
Russian: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/RussianOrthodoxC...
Georgian: http://flickr.com/photos/peterstrouzas/329413545/in/set-72157594416...
Antiochian: http://www.stpaulnaples.org/
(I believe) The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (in Jerusalem): http://www.christusrex.org/www1/jhs/JHS-aedicula-am.jpg

Here's a cool bit of Georgian iconography I stumbled upon while searching for pics: http://flickr.com/photos/peterstrouzas/329467165/in/set-72157594416...

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Define "a holy one"? Are you saying that since Lewis wasn't orthodox, he wasn't part of the Body of Christ, i.e. only the Orthodox church is the Body of Christ? Or just that since he was not a member of the Orthodox church that his writings aren't officially endorsed Orthodox denominational reference material?

BTW, I did read some of John of Damascus from the link you provided - not enough time to get through all of it. In the first few paragraphs I found 3 things that I would say are incorrect. This is not to say that I'm a literary or theological authority of sufficient (or any) stature to discredit him, just that I personally can't accept his ideas. I also don't mean that just because I differ with someone on one point that I dismiss them on all points, but that it would take me more time than I can spend to examine the cited work.

I believe it's aways best to cite Scripture that speaks to a given topic. Even if the one citing doesn't fully explain how it may apply to a subject, it's still worth providing the citation and allow the recipient to consider whether that passage supports the doctrine.
Well, A problem is that Orthodoxy is not a denomination. This... is difficult to explain in a way that does not seem imposing - and that will misconstrue my point. If you will give me a few days I can find someone - saint, father, or author who can explain it so you will get the gist and thus why we do not officially venerate those who are not in communion with the Church. We do endorse his writings - if you look for St. Vladmir's press and find their printing of St. Athanasius' 'On The Incarnation' you will find that the foreword is written by Lewis. In a pamphlet my archdiocese puts out explaining Theosis (i.e. what is often called 'sanctification' or 'perfection') Lewis is quoted extensively. (I think from Mere Christianity.)

On the other hand, we do not say we know the eternal destination of any soul - save perhaps Judas Iscariot or those who have been, in Paul's words, glorified - but even then we only say it as it has been revealed to us and not as we might sit in judgment of their souls (which only God can do.)

That is a second question that often comes up - since in the past some Protestant and Restoration denominations had claimed that those who did not commune with them were damned.

To make another point, private respect and veneration is different. 'Honor thy mother and father' but also usually the official veneration of a saint starts as various private people honoring a person whose holiness they saw in life, or after it.

I've lately dug a little more into the various titles (which at first I thought were sort of decorative) but I've found there is profound meaning to them. Abraham is called 'Righteous Forefather Abraham' and is venerated as a saint. More recently, take 'Xenia the Fool for Christ' or 'Nektarios the Wonderworker' (two saints who passed away in the 20th century.) The titles reflect a lot about how the holiness of the person was revealed. (Let's not forget 'martyr' - as in, Protomartyr Stephen, for instance.)

If you disagree with John tell me how; I trust his words greatly, and consider his wisdom a great help.
my notes as I began reading it.

“In the first place, grasping as a kind of pillar, or foundation, the teaching of the Church, which is our salvation…”

The “teaching of the Church” is not our salvation.

“These injunctions were given to the Jews on account of their proneness to idolatry. Now we, on the contrary, are no longer in leading strings. Speaking theologically, it is given to us to avoid superstitious error, to be with God in the knowledge of the truth, to worship God alone, to enjoy the fulness of His knowledge. We have passed the stage of infancy, and reached the perfection of manhood. We receive our habit of mind from God, and know what may be imaged and what may not.”

So he’s saying that we are more spiritually mature than the Jews, and therefore we are beyond this commandment and that we can judge when an image or its use is too far over the line?

“When the Invisible One becomes visible to flesh, you may then draw a likeness of His [9] form.”

So the command is nullified now that the Word became flesh that we could see?

I didn't go past that point. It was enough for me.
Ah, well, the language. The teaching of the church refers to the Gospel. The church is the Body of Christ, and its teaching is that same good news.

I'll respond to the other points later, gotta go!~
I don't see him saying it is nullified. Earlier he points to the fact that the injunction, if you look at all of scripture instead of just the ten, is against worshiping visible things as though they are the invisible God. Thus Christians, who are directed to have the mind of Christ, ought to be able to know when they are engaging in idolatry and thus need not take the commandment literally. If we were, we would have no people on coins, etc.

I think in the 7th ec. council they directed the churches to not make statues, though frescoes and the written / painted icon were fine.
Well, most of us owe our conversion to the work of others - in fact I'd bet pretty much everyone does. I will not argue that you need to use icons in worship. I would suggest that like Communion, the Scriptures (all things man makes with the help of God) immense benefit is had for many by their proper use. Until I learn to fly, I will use an airplane.

It also helps to see them in their original or more natural use; to introduce them without understanding them could be dangerous. Then again, sometimes we just 'get it'.
Our Lord himself said, "One man sows, another waters and another reaps." And also again, "Preach unto all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" Paul calls himself and Timothy both 'coworkers with God' (synergios theou.)

Do not allow yourself to be convinced that what another person did had nothing to do with your conversion, for we remember the fourth commandment, "Honor thy Mother and Father," for which Paul says, "You have many teachers, but ye have not many Fathers." Meaning, we believe, spiritual Fathers, persons who led you in the faith. Our Lord says, "Call no man Father," but yet his Apostles themselves have done it and we do it? He means, give no man the title which belongs to God alone, and nothing to do with the words. Thus I would say that man who preached to you did a good work (whether he knew it or not) in bringing to you the Gospel and would be a 'father' to you, for by his work you were brought forth into new life, as a biological father does.

It was and is always through the actions of the others - first the Apostles, then the teachers, bishops, martyrs, from which people began to see the things which come from no man, which by the Grace of the Holy Spirit are done by men.

Properly understood the Church is the Kingdom. At the beginning of Liturgies we say:
[A Deacon: Father, give the blessing.]
[The Priest: Blessed is the Kingdom, of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages, amen.]

The gathering of the faithful, the 'ecclesia' is where God is (Christ says, when two or more are gathered in my name there I will be also) our word for church means just that; the faithful gathering together. In truth it may be that if the saints are with us, the church is always with us, since there are always 'two or more' gathered if each of us is mindful of God. Again, the icons are trying to remind us of this as well.

Also, not everything we think of as an icon is one. One of the canons for Icons in the Orthodox tradition states that if a man is to paint an icon, he must fast for 40 days before starting the endeavor. The icon is there as a witness, a remembrance, an object for contemplation, and as a living symbol of the one depicted, and since we endeavor to depict only those who are glorified (meaning what Paul says in Romans 8) the one being depicted by the person's life is none other than Jesus Christ; Paul said, "Be ye imitators of me as I am imitator of Christ" & so on.

Paul says in the letter to the Corinthians, "be careful what ye build on this foundation, whether it be of gold, silver or precious stones, or hay, straw or sticks, for what work each man has done will be revealed in the Day." (paraphrase, 1 Corinthians 4? Maybe.) Read that to understand that God is working with and through people, and it has everything to do with the human and divine together, just as Christ himself was God and Man fully. Yes our works are 'as filthy rags' without God. Christianity is inherently incarnational, meaning that power and holiness that are God's are come into the world, by his Son, and then from where it spread, to the waters through the baptism by John, to the disciples at Pentecost, etc.

Faith is not a feeling, though there may be emotions associated with its coming. It is something deeper if we believe Paul who said, "It is the evidence of things unseen, the substance of things hoped for." What sort of emotion is that? And yet, he also says that the invisible things of God are revealed through the creation (even from the beginning of the earth.)

And so forth... Sorry if that's a load of stuff that's going in every direction! I hope that assists in understanding why. I don't get much choice in the matter, sometimes something we don't like exists and it is for us to find out why. Like 'loving our neighbor' when our neighbor is a jerk...
Read all of the four Gospels and tell me he doesn't. If we do not repent of a sin it remains; From the Orthodox perspective the notion of imputed righteousness makes no sense. We are righteous in that we now may do righteousness; the state of righteousness is revealed by what is done, since goodness, or virtue, is expressed in action - i.e patience, kindness, self control, etc.

We are taught to pray as the publician, "God have mercy on me, a sinner" by our Lord. Forgive me brother, but should I listen to you or our Lord and teacher?

And again, we are all called 'priests and kings' does this mean that some are not priests, since they don't belong in the 'church' mountain? And also, where does our Lord, his apostles or the Fathers and saints teach this? Did Moses, or David, or Solomon?

You can certainly be whatever you want, but you cannot choose what it is that you want. We are all called to be in the Church, for the Church is the Kingdom, it is the new Israel, and so forth. Some are called to be monastics, some to be carpenters and craftsmen, others laborers and yet others to service and clerical work, and then some to leadership and soldiering, and others to music and artistic work, and there is no bound or limit to the number of callings there are for man, except that they are all one; to be saved. For within every calling we must 'pray unceasingly' and therefore in doing our very work is salvific to us.

I would also point out that Christ starts by preaching repentance, for this is the starting point and work of all Christians. You cannot really 'boil down' his teaching for it encompasses everything that is or could be, and is capable of baptizing every last pagan thing to be acceptable to God. For Peter learned that nothing is unclean in and of itself, but it is what is done with it.

What we say we get when we boil down his teaching reveals our agenda and not our Lord. May God have mercy on me, a sinner.
We should stop referring to ourselves as sinners? I still sin. My actions, thoughts, inactions, etc. do not line up with God's desires 100% of the time. If we don't consider ourselves as sinners, then we are without sin. Read Romans 7 - Paul struggled with sin. Read 1 John 1:8-9. We are no longer slaves to sin...meaning that we do not have to let reign in us.
May his peace be with you as well. The reason for calling one's self alone a sinner (other than it being true) is to aid ourselves in humility. Elder Paisios has said, "We consider ourselves alone to be sinners." Humility is chief among the virtues, and this helps a lot. There is a dispassionate way in which this is done, and this is how I intend it most of the time, as a guard against pride. I hope I'm somewhat successful - by the grace of God.


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