The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 months ago

No Other Gospel | Galaitians 1

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The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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American Holiness: A Religious History of America and Her Saints 

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a four part lecture series by Father Josiah trenum entitled Male and Female Reflections on transgenderism. These lectures directly address this latest iteration of the sexual revolution and the sexual anarchy unleashed by a cultural rejection of the Christian theological foundations of creation, anthropology, sexuality and the traditional therapeutic paths of the church. These lectures explain why Christians cannot reasonably avoid studying transgender ideology in today's cultural climate, how this new world view on sexuality finds itself deficient in explaining and healing are falling human condition, and how love must compel believers to open their arms to persons seeking God from a transgendered background. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennem the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord Day to all of you, brother than sisters. I'm entitled My Gospel Today, No other gospel of my homily, rather, no other Gospel. It comes from the Episto lescent on which I wished to preach, which is found in Saint Paul's first chapter to the Galatians. This is one of his earliest texts. Maybe First Thessalonians was written before it. Were not exactly sure, but this is early Paul and this first chapter is absolutely marvelous. The context is that the Galatian church is being led away from their fidelity to Christ. They started well, but through the influence of false teachers in the church, these false apostles, who are trying to convince them that in order to be Christians, if you're going to accept the Pagans, if you're going to accept the the gentiles, like us, the gentiles have to become Jews first and then Christians. They have to be circumcised, they have to follow Moses and then they can become Christians too. This is the context, of course, which is exactly not the freedom the Christ came to give, to give to us. And Paul said something very shocking just before the Epistole lescent this morning that you heard just in the verses preceding this. Paul says, if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than that which I preach to you. Let him be accursed. Yea, I say to you, if anyone preaches, even an angel from heaven, preaches to you a gospel other than that which you have been hearing from me, let him be a cursed. Can you imagine? This is the background, this is the context for what's going on, for why you heard Paul just now explain the nature of his call as an apostle, the fact that he didn't get his message from men. His message came directly from Jesus breaking into his life in the most drastic way when he was inflamed against the Church. He was persecuting us, he was having our people arrested, breaking up our prayer services, hauling us off, and then he met Christ. This is the background. Don't have the idea that is common, that the early church. Oh if only we lived then, when things were so good, if only we live then,...

...when the church was so strong and the river was so pure. Evidently not. Evidently not. Of course, it would have been a thrill to be living in the year the community, to know the apostles. Can you imagine having St Paul as your pastor? Wow, I've told you. The story is some of my pilgrimage stories of visiting church is that were founded by St Paul that are still here two thousand years later, and how zealously his his memory is kept alive by our brothers and sisters in those parts of the world that Paul literally founded their churches. But no, the church, as our savior has told us, is always been a mixed bag, and we can thank God for that. As much as we hate false teaching, as much as we hate heresy, we're glad that the church doesn't demand perfection from members, or none of us would be inside the church right now. We'd be out there begging to be let in. False gospels have to be very carefully avoided. You have to be very careful. They're ones who you listen to, what voices you let into your head, who you let mold your deepest convictions of faith. You have to be very careful. From the beginning until today, I might even say that we American Orthodox have to be especially careful, because this land is a land of religious invention. Some of you may remember the series that I gave on American holiness some years ago, I don't know, eight or ten years ago, probably now. We went through the American Saints One by one, but we also went through unique American religious movements. I used a facinating text by a scholar named Paul Conkin, and he wrote a text called the American originals, and what he means are the religions that were literally made up in America. They are almost innumerable. We study the humanistic forms of Christianity, like unitarianism and universalism, American creations, Apocalyptic Christianity like the seventh day adventist movement and the Jehovah's Witnesses, both mid nineteen century inventions, nastic forms of Christianity like Christian science es, static forms like traditional pentecostalism. We spend a lot of time studying mormonism and I shared stories with you of my interactions with the Mormons, a very uniquely American religion. The I had the honor one time being invited by the head of the religion department at Byu. It's a very, very large department, over thirty full time faculty members, and I was asked to come and to lecture on Orthodox Christianity in Mormonism, especially on the subject of Phaosis and what it means, what's Deef, what the Orthodox teaching on difcation was and while I was there I had the opportunity unity. I found out later that it was a coveted if I had been a Mormon, I would have been really excited. I had the opportunity to go to something they called Temple Square, to go to the building that they mormons built for their Holy Apostles. They actually believe that the twelve apostles are continuous office and the twelve apostles are alive today and their latest iteration. And I got to go to go meet with number three. I guess he wasn't Peter and Paul. He was the next one. I don't know, maybe John James, maybe it's a very gracious man.

He's since reposed. His name was l Tom Perry, Holy Apostle Perry, and I sat in his office for an hour and we talked about Orthodoxy and his background and his history and he told me, you know, father, this is all I'm asking for, he said. I know about Orthodox Christianity and I know about Roman Catholic Christianity and I know about Protestant Christianity. All I'm asking is that you accept Mormon Christianity. I was nice. I was nice but clear, clear that there is no such thing. Don't listen to mate up religion, dear ones, especially to false gospels that you don't see the church upholding and teaching and confessing. Guards your ears from such things and help people who are twisted up in these made up religions. Help people to find the faith once delivered to the saints. Help them to find the gospel that offers true freedom, that actually produces and hasn't been turned, through the free market of American religion, into just a new self improvement program for the soul. Paul showed that what he was preaching wasn't from men. He describes his conversion many places in his letters. Saint Luke, three times in the acts, gives long, extended accounts of Paul discot describing his conversion. It was exceedingly important to know that when you hear Paul, you hear Christ. That what Paul says he got directly from around revelation of Jesus Christ. This is what Paul says in Today's Gospel. He describes his conversion. Remember that it took place drastically while he was going on a persecution and mission. He was on the road to Damascus because a lot of believers had gathered there and he was going to capture us, he was going to arrest us and to throw us in prison, to beat some more up, just like he supported the murder of Stephen, sitting there holding the coats of his murderers. On his way there, the Lord Jesus intervened, his great love for men and his great love for the world, because Paul would become Jesus as agent to bring the Gospel to the whole world. Jesus intervened in Paul's life and though it was noon and though the sun was at its full strength, something much brighter than the sun appeared in the sky, the glory of Christ, and Paul was blinded. He fell to the ground and he heard those words from our savior. Why are you persecuting me? And Paul repented. You know, that spot is marked and honored by the Church and has been since that time. We have a beautiful church on the very spot that St Paul was knocked off his horse. We've never forgotten and we never will. There's a beautiful, new, magnificent statue that the Russians gave to the Syrian church. Our Patriarch received it and put it there, right on outside, in that you would you walk out the doors of this magnificent Church temple and there is this marvelous statue of Paul having fallen off his horse having met Christ. He was brought by the Bishop of Damascus and aneas into the Baptismal Font and we...

...have a church there built over the place where Paul was baptized and Damascus at the hands of St Annius. You heard him refer to his time in Damascus, which he would tell more about later in his writings, how in his early ministry he was doing so much work in Damascus that the governor tried to murder him and he had to literally be let out of a window in a basket down the ancient Damascene Wall so he could escape. We have a church there, literally in the wall. The ancient wall meets the main freeway in Damascus, which I would not recommend driving on. Syrians do not believe in lanes. They have stripes, but they don't follow them for lanes. Eight cars yes, but yet just as you drive by you can look up and you can see the the church built right into the Damascene Wall. We love him. We've wrapped our lives around the Holy Apostle Paul. You have the opportunity every time you come into the church to kiss his feet. We priests and deacons in the holy place look at his feet because he's just there receiving the gifts from Christ's sands on the eastern wall. Paul means a lot to us, dear ones. He's the one you should open your ears to. He's the one you should build your life around his teaching. If you listen carefully to the Epistle lescent just now, you would have heard him say some very unique language. He described his calling in language that would have made his listeners immediately think of the Prophet Elias and of the Prophet Jeremiah. Paul said that Chrift appeared to him when he was, quote, extremely zealous. For my ancestral traditions. That should make you think of someone else, who was some other great prophet who described himself to God as being extremely zealous, the Holy Prophet Elias. On Mount Carmel. He showed his great zeal. Exhausted by the constant harassment and persecution he was receiving, he pleaded to God. He said, Lord, I have been extremely zealous for you and I'm the only one left. They've killed all the prophets. This is the language Paul uses to describe his own calling. And then he says these words that Chrift appeared to me, having set me apart from my mother's womb. That should make you think of Jeremiah, Chapter One. One he described as his own calling as a prophet as being set apart by God from his mother's womb. Paul Sang, look, I didn't make this up. I've been called as an apostle, just like the Prophet Jeremiah was, just like the Prophet Elias was. This is the word of the Lord given to me. I know so many of you love St Paul. You know my dear St John Chrysostom loved him more than anyone's ever loved him, and that's not just my opinion. That's the opinion of most petrologists in church history. There's a beautiful description Paul wrote. Paul wrote tons of St John, rather, wrote tons of things about Paul all the time. He would write in his commentaries on Paul's Letters. He would write things about Paul's personality, about Paul's conviction, about Paul Sacrifice, about his idyllic virtue, but he devoted an entire seven sermons just to the praise of Paul. They're entitled on the praise of Paul,...

...and in those seven sermons he describes how important Paul is to the faith. The Great Roman Catholic petrologist of the twenty century, Johannes Quoston, he writes a little description of St John chrysostom's homilies. I want to read it to you about Paul and the praise of Paul. He says chrys system delivered a great number of panegyrics on the saints of the Old Testament, like job and Eliezer and the maccabees and their mother, and not also some martyrs like Romanos, Julian Barlem, PELLAEA, Bernice Prostochi, and on martyrs in general. Of special interest are his encomiums on the holy bishops of Antioch, Ignatious, Babelis, Filigonius, efstathius and Meletios, and also that on his own teacher, diodor of Tarsus, which was delivered in three ninety two in the latter's presence. But none of his encomia has won a greater reputation than his seven hall of homilies and praise of Paul, in which he gives enthusiastic expression to his unbounded admiration of the apostle of the gentiles, and Neanus of Celida, who translated these into Latin between four fifteen and four nineteen, says that the Great Apostle is not only portrayed but in a certain sense awakened from the dead, so that he becomes once more a living pattern of Christian perfection. In the opening panegyric, chrysistom praises Paul as the synthesis of all virtues and compares him to the Great Figures of the Old Testament, from able to John The baptist, only to conclude that he surpasses each in his peculiar excellence. In the second homily, he demonstrates that Saint Paul has shown by his example to what extraordinary heights frail human nature can rise ice the third promily describes the obstacles which the apostle overcame by his boundless courage and his inexhaustible charity. The fourth homily deals with his conversion on the road to Damascus. Chris System Compares Paul's reaction to God's calling with that of the Jews as a people, who have remained obdurate in their unbelief, though they have witnessed many miracles. The Fifth Homily describes the Apostle's frailties, over which he triumphed so gloriously, and the sixth discusses his fear of death, in which, apparently some had seen a defect. Chris System explains that symptoms of physical aversion do not dim the luster of true courage. The resolution of the soul is what counts. And the last panegyric contrast the standard bearer of an ordinary army with St Paul, The Standard Bearer of the crucified Lord and the Heaven, the king who carried the cross emblazoned on his banner throughout the entire world. These are the thoughts of St John Krysostom on St Paul and how wonderful he is and how important is he is. In as much, brothers and sisters, as we don't listen to false gospels, we are absolutely devoted to the Great Apostle Paul. When we hear his words read, we open our hearts to them. When we look at his life, we adore it, we imitate it, we praise him. You know, he's says something at the end of the epistle. It's marvelous epistle lesson today. It's very mysterious comment and there isn't a lot of explanation of what it means. But he says that after he saw Christ and after he was baptized, he left everything he knew. He went away for three years into Arabia and then he returned. Did you catch that? At the end of the epistle? He went away into Arabia for three years and then he returned. He doesn't say what he did in Arabia. What do you do after you meet Christ on the road to Damascus? What do...

...you do when your whole life is turned upside down, when everything that you've been doing, everything you've invested in, you found out was erroneous? It was upside down because of your improper opinion of Jesus. It's stewed everything. What do you do? Well, Paul says you leave society, you go away into Arabia for three years. I think he did three things. I think he did three things in Arabia. First is a is a suggestion based upon the Prophet Elias Reference. What the Prophet alies and do when his own world was upside down. He went to Arabia, the exact same place Paul was going to, to the Arabian Prophet province. This is just south and east of Damascus and it includes, at its southern extremity, Mount Sinai, which is where the Prophet Elias went. He went to be with God. He went to escape the chaos of those who were seeking his life and trying to kill him. Paul, I think, went to be with God. He loved God. He loved God when he was persecuting us. What he was doing, he said, was in ignorance, which is why God tolerated it. He was doing it in ignorance, in his fair asaic ignorance. He went to Arabia, I think, in order to have his own three years. You know, all the other apostles God their three years in the presence of Christ. Paul meets him, he goes away into Arabia to do business with God, to lay a foundation, to recalibrate. Obviously he's just changed his mind about the most important person in the world. He's just accepted Christ, or I should say Christ has accepted him, and he goes to Arabia St Jerome says. The second thing is that he went there with all of his books. You know, we find Paul constantly wanting his books to be with him everywhere he went. Even when he's about to be killed, he writes and says, make sure that you tell Zenus and Apollo my messages and bring my books, bring my parchments. He was dying for them. I had a an unfortunate spiritual experience with myself in my office recently when I went to find a very precious book that I needed desperately for a lecture. I put my hand and what do you the hand just went into the bookshelp where the book was supposed to be. It was gone. It was gone. All of us have a light switch that opens the floodgates of terrible thoughts. That's mine. That's mine. All I could think at that moment was the flashes of young men and women's faces that went through my mind, of different wonderful parishioners who asked to borrow my books with the sincere promise that they're going to bring them back. I've always resisted a tactic that one of my fellow Summinarians took when he was ordained. He got a stamp that he would stamp on the inside of his books, that that read a curse be upon the man who borrows and does not return. I Oh no, thank you. I've resisted that. I think Paul Saint Jerome suggests that Paul took his books, he took the manuscripts of the law, he took the Torah and...

...he went into Arabia to reread everything he thought he knew in light of Christ. You know, Jesus told the Pharisees your problem is not you search the scriptures. Your problem is that you don't see me in what you search. He say. He said to them. You search the scriptures because you think in them you have life. But it is these that bear witness to me. Paul was a blind pharisee. He had learned to read God's Word Wrong. Forgive me, but many you, many of you, are converts. You can relate, can't you? You convert, you find Christ and the Church and then you have to unwind your mind, you have to read the scriptures anew. This is why you promise on the day of your conversion that you will read the Scriptures according to the church, according to the mind of the church. Well, the greatest teacher of the church, had to do that himself, jerome suggests. And lastly, want to be with God, to fix his relationship with the one God that he adored, who had a son. He went to reread the scriptures and to understand them, because he would spend the rest of his ministry teaching from the Old Testament about Christ all the things he missed. And then, lastly, chrys system says that he went there to start his preaching amongst the barbarians, where no other apostles were at that time. This is what St John Did. St Paul did rather, what a man. I am encouraging all of you, all of you thirsty believers, to listen to this man and to listen to hipless man, by giving him your whole heart. When you listen in the church, dear ones, when you listen to the words of Paul, which is what you usually listen to, and an epistle lescent every single liturgy, take a good stance. When the Deacon comes out and he tells you wisdom, believe you're about to get it. When he says stand upright at that moment, really fix yourself. You know people who are trying to reach a target. If you have an Arrow and you're going to draw that, the first thing you do if you want the target is you fix your feet. Then you pull the string so that you can hit the target. This is what the church is asking you to do when the Gospel and that this will are read. Stand Upright, set yourself straight for the target, receive the words that are there because they're true and saving and they change your life. They change your life. What a gift this man is, what a model and everything we want to be. Praise the Lord who has given to us such a teacher to convey the Gospel to the gentiles like us and the distant world. May His name be praised on them. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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