The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 4 years ago

Reading the Scriptures with Accountability - Patristic Counsels on Bible Study

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Greetings to all of you arena listeners,this is father Josiah. Very recently I was invited to the Moody BibleInstitute in Spokan Washington and there I delivered what was called anAthenacious lecture on the subject of reading the Scriptures, withaccountability, patristic counsels on Bible study. That's what you're aboutto hear, and I hope it will be edifying for you, God be with you, the name of the father and the son ofthe Holy Spirit, O men. Thank you very much. Dotor Armstrongfor the kind introduction so delighted to be here an Spokan andat Christ, the King Church, and especially to be able toparticipate in this regular lecture series from Moody Bible Institute. My topic tonight is reading the HolyScriptures with accountability, reading the Scriptures WithAccountability, subtitled patristic counsels on Bible study. So what I liketo do in my lecture is to present a the Orthodox Christianunderstanding of what scripture is. I don't claim to be able to do that in anycomprehensive way, but I want to touch on some central points of whatscripture is the miracle of scripture and the miracle of scripture,particularly as it's come to exist in the church and then dedicate the secondhalf of my talk to counsels from the church on how to read the Scripture sothat you can read the Scriptures and obtain the mind ofChrist and not the mind of heretics, who also read the Scriptures. Okay,that's my basic goal: YOU'LL! Remember that when Godfashioned in his great mercy and love for men when he fashioned Adam an ive,he dwelt with them in a very intimate communion, described in the Scripturesas walking in the garden a face to face relation relationship. Saint JohnCrisostam and his commentary on Genesis says that man's greatest dignity was tobe God's friend and to live in a communion with the Lord God in Paradise.Sadly, all such intimacy was shattered in the cosmic rebellion that we callthe fall and when Adam and if turned their backson serving and loving the Lord God, they lost their closeness to God andthey lost their closeness to each other and they hid themselves in terror andthen began to point fingers at each other one of the great sorrows that theydiscovered in their tears after they had been banished from the garden andsat just outside the garden, so that they would be close enough to see itand rekindled their desire to enter it again. One of the great tragedies isthat they no longer had the word of God in them, they no longer could liveclosely with God. In fact, Saint John Cris Ostim and his commentary on SaintMatthew's Gospel says that the very presence of scripture itself, the factthat we have letters now inspired beautiful letters, is a testimony tothe fact that we're far away from God, you know you don't write letters topeople that you live with that are right. Next to you, there's no need the scriptures exist because wereliving in a fallen condition and the Lord has had in his great mercy to re,establish communion with man and to reach out to man having lost that intimacy. Man was indarkness and when the Lord God appeared to His Servant Moses in the burningBush and then granted to Moses and...

...threw Mosis to the people of Israel,the great gift of his law, his own words inscribed with his own finger.The scripture said this was a treasured by the people of Israel as a fundamental connection that they hadestablished once again with the Lord God that the Lord had bowed Lo, so tospeak, to speak to them. The Great Twentieth Century RomanianOrthodox Theologian says that Demitri Stanaloy says that the reestablishmentof relationship between God and Man andthe gifting of the law is the reestablishment of an intimate andmystical union between God and men. God had spoken to Adaminive after thefall and prior to the giving of the law through creation. This is another waythat God's words come to us all. Creation bears witness to God and allcreation speaks. The Heavens declare the glory of God. The firment proclaimsthe work of his hands day to day ports. Fourth speech its overflowing night to night reveals knowledge andthere's no place in the universe where God's voice, through creation isn'theard. But the message of creation is not a great intimate, detailed message.It's a message about the grandeur of God, his magnificence, the fact that heis the Creator and that we are the created that he is providential andsovereign, but God would bend much lower to us too, speak his love to us,and we began to hear his words more clearly in the inspired profits. Whenmen brought in to the Inner Council of God, men like Isaiah and Jeremiah and Elias and Elisa whenthey were brought into the close communiy with God, they were inspiredto bring the Lord's word to the people, and they brought it to the people withthis introduction, thus saith the Lord, and then they would speak his wordsspecial words that God had given in his love through his profits to men after centuries of receiving the wordof God through the Prophets. When God had spoken to us in many divers ways inthe fulness of time, God sent his own image. His own word. His coeternal sonJesus Christ into the world to become incarnate, and he who had dwelt for ever in thebosom of his father in time became what he was, not a man without ceasing to bewhat he was divine. And then we began to hear words that nohuman ear had heard since the fall and Jesus is teaching is found in the HolyGospels. It's absolutely unique when compared to the profets and it left thepeople undone when they heard his voice. If you read the last verses Matthews compilation of the sermon onthe Mount Fyou read versus Wo Thousand Ad Eight and twenty nine of ChapterSeven of Saint Matthew's Gospel, he describes the effect of Jesus'spreaching upon the people that they were undone because he was speaking tothem as one possessing authority and not as the scribes. One of the things that matthew means inthis comment is that he didn't introduce his speech his teaching withthus sath the Lord. He simply spoke. He said you have heard that it was saidyou shall not commit adultery, but I say to you: they weren't used to this. He was speaking as the Lord infleshed and his authority was unique. He madeno appeal to other authorities, he had...

...in inherent authority. He had ascriptural authority in that he quoted from many portions in the of thelaw and gave definitive understanding and interpretation, especiallyarticulating how that law was about him from beginning to end. He had an inherent authority, he had ascriptural authority, he had a comprehensive authority. He spoke aboutmatters that were broad and eternal matters in a way that had never beenspoken about before he spoke about heaven. He spoke about hell and he spoke about eternal destinies asthough the eternal destinies of men was in his hand, because it is, he wasn't just a rabbi, but the word of the father, and so whenwe have his words when we read the Gospel, we are listening to the wordsof the word of God. The New Testament deepens ourunderstanding of holy scripture by telling us that what we read in theinspired scriptures is actually the speech of the Holy Trinity that these beautiful words are actuallyGod's very speech to men, one of the most beautiful places in theNew Testament to discern this is in the opening three chapters of Saint Pauisepistle to the Hebrews, where the salter is quoted, successively inchapter one chapter, two and chapter three in chapter one. We hear these words for to what AngelDid, God ever say: Thou Art, my son, to day I have begotten Thee, quoting thesecond psum and in this text in Hebrews one five. Those words are ascribed to God to thefather, to what Angel did, God, the father ever say: Thou Art, my son inchapter two of Hebrews versus eleven and twelve. We read these words, for hewho sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That iswhy he is not ashamed to call them brethren saying I will proclaim THYname to my brethren in the midst of the congregation. I will praise thee thistime the salter is quoted, but the psalm verses are placed into the mouthsof Jesus, the one who stands in our midst and proclaims hisfather's name to his brethren. So here the Saltur having been already ascribedto God, the father is now being ascribed to his son in chapter three vers, seven of theepistle to the Hebrews. We hear these words, therefore, as the Holy Spiritsays today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in therebellion in the wilderness. Here again, the Old Testament is being quoted bythis time. The words of scripture are ascribed to the third person of theHoly Trinity to the Holy Strit. The Holy Spirit here we see the mind of the Church thatinspired scripture is the word of the holy tirnityfather's son, in Holy Spirit, the trinities very speech to men. This is why Paul and the very nextchapter chapter four of the Hebrews can say that, for the word of God is livingan active sharper than any two edged sword, able to judge the thoughts andthe intentions of the heart. scriptural words sacred oracles arealive. They share the qualities of their author. These words are living because they arethe words of the one. True God and the writers of Scripture are bearers ofrevelation and the scripture itself is a testimony to spiritual experience. Therefore, when we read the HolyScriptures we are experiencing God, when we read the Holy Scriptures, weare to have a transformative spiritual...

...experience. Reading the Bible is to bea theophony, it's not just normal literature. Someof US may be very excited that in some places in America, having banished thescriptures from our public schools, the act of persons who have lost theirminds having banished scripture from ourpublic schools in some states, scripture has been re introduced in thecategory of literature so that there are classes now designed to educate ouryoung people in scripture. Since this is so important, even if you're asecular person do to know, the contents of theChristian Bible are very important, and so this the study of scripture, isreintroduced under the guise of literature, studying the Bible asliterature. That is a distant distant. Second, fromstudying the Bible for what it is. Reading the Bible as the word of God, and with a desire to see God to experience God. The ineffable words, the created wordsthat we have in scripture speak to us about realities that are beyond words when Saint Paul rigtes of his own spiritual experienceof three times in or out of the body. He does not know ascending into theheavens. He says there. He saw things incapable of being put into humanspeech. The created words, the inspired createdwords of scripture, bear witness to Alife a glorified life beyond words, spiritual experiences, the core and thepurpose of scripture Jesus says I have other things to tellyou. This is John Sixteen twelve. I have other things to tell you, but youcannot bear them now. He has more things more beautifulthings, there's more for us, not less glorification is beyond words inconcepts and prayer itself. The very words of scripture are God'sown breath. Saint Paul says to his spiritualsontimothy that scripture all scripture is inspired or breathed forth.Theopinestos, breathe forth from God, profitable for altering our lives forteaching us and reproving us, and correcting US and training us inrighteousness and so to read. The scriptures in the mind of the church isto have God, speak to us. It's to feel the beating of the spirit's wing, it'sto disperse human darkness, to fill the reader with joy, to hear our belovedsvoice. There's a story in the desert fathersabout a holy monk who, whenever he was in a social setting and various visitors or monks, would gatheraround and they would begin a conversation. He would excuse himself. Many people simply thought he wassocially awkward, but it was discovered that he would excuse himself to go to his cell. Hewould often say: please excuse me brothers, I have someone waiting for meand Mycelf and he would leave, but he was discovered in his cell reading his scriptures. This is the correct mentality about theholy scriptures. The Bible is a means of communion with the Living God to touch. The scriptures should befirst, a movement to be near God and to hear him to perfect the dialogue between man andGod. I, when I was a young man when I was sixteen.

I experience something very like this.I'm a little embarrassed to say it, but I'm going to say it anyway about myown life. I was raised in the Presbyterian Church.My father was a Sunday school teacher. I had been given a wonderful RSVversion- leather, Full Bible. When I was in the second grade, I guess Iwould have been about seven years old and I kept it on my shelf only on my shelf and when I was sixteenfor some reason I had come home. I was in high school. I had come home fromschool. I was walking through my room, I remember it wheth the Sun was setting,it was coming in through the windows of my room and out of the corner of my eye.I saw my Bible on my bookshelf and I had an urge to read it. It was simply a mercy of God. Prior tothat, I don't remember ever having an urge to read my Bible. I pulled the Bible off the shelf and Iliterally blew the dust off of it. I still have in my mind's eye as I speak.I saw the dust spin in the sunlight. It was, it was horrible and I didn't knowwhat to do. I simply did not know what to do. I didn't know where to read: Where doesone start when you're sixteen years old and you have never read the Scriptures?I didn't know what to do so. I helpd my copy and I just decided I was going tolet it fall open to wear it may and I'll start there. It fell open. What doyou know to the sermon on the Mout? What's the chance of that and it fellopen to Sey mathou chapter five to the beatitudes and the first verse I read contained these words. Blessed arethose who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall besatisfied. When I read that verse, I had a spiritual experience. I had asense that Jesus was standing directly infront of me with a mass of bow and Arrow and he pulled back the string and heshot an Arrow right into my heart, because I knew at that moment. I did not fit that description. I washungry and thirsty for many things, but none of them were righteousness, none of them fit that category. I wasso terrified that I began to shake. I shut the Bible and I threw it Ono, mybed, that was my response. It was a tremendous gift, was atremendous gift. The next day when I came home from school, I sat down on mydesk and I opened the Bible and I started to read the Scriptures and Ihave read the scriptures every day of my life for the last thirty four years.Since that time, I went from being completely neglectful of the scripturesto being desperate to have them in my life, or else I feel horrible andbackwards, and I am thankful also that I did not meet the importance ofscripture through academic study. I didn't meet the importance of scripturein a Bible as literature class, but by the mercy of God. I read it as adesperate encounter a terrifying encounter with a God who apparently waslooking for me in a distant land. Think of how many famous stories we have inTurchistory of the Lord seeking and finding people by calling them to thereading of scripture. Think of the conversion of Saint Agustin of Hippo here is a very accomplished, paganphilosopher who hears in a garden. These words take up and read,...

...take up and read, he didn't know where the words camefrom. He had a cent that God was speaking to him, and it was these wordsthat motivated him to begin to read the New Testament which changed his life and led him to conversion. One of the Great Contemporary OrthodoxMonastic elders is a month name elder amilianos. He was the Abbot of one of the majormonasteres on Mount Athos Ron thousand nine hundren. Seventy four to twothousand. He still alive he's in retirement in aconvent in central Greece, tremendous scholar and a very potent theologian, and he wrote he writes alot about scripture and I want to share a quote from him. These are his words.Father imilianosays holy scripture provides us with spiritual experiences.It is the word of God. It is what God said if you're sitting there readingand you happen to hear a voice that you recognize you say to yourself. I knowthat person the voice reveals the person whereGod's voice is there, is God hidden in the voice. The scriptures are a mystery,a sacrament, a sign which conceals the presence of God himself. This is whyone ecclesiastical writer said once that the words and the lines of holyscripture are the garments of Jesus Christ. This mentality of scripture, as potentmystery living experience, is one of the reasons that in the easternnorthdox church we enthrone scripture. We we don't keep our bibles on our coffeetables, with coffee mugs on them. We cover our bibles in gold. We putthem in the centre of the altar for different sacraments. We bring them out,we bring them out for Baptisms, we bring them out for marriages and planplant them straight in the middle of the service. In our marriage services,we dance around them. The first steps that a married coupletakes are following the priest three times around the table where the Gospelbook is enthrowne as if to say our whole life together will be a dancearound the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives on our Sunday morning, services beforewe celebrate the Divine Liturgy, we celebrate a service prior to thatcalled Mattons or Orthros in Greek and in the centre of the service. Acycle of eleven resurrection. Gospels is read one each Sunday, so aftereleven Sundays, you've heard eleven different accounts of the resurrection and when that's done as thecongregation begins to recite the fifty first Psong have mercy on Meol God, according toTha Great Mercy, a very natural movement after you hear the words ofthe Gospel, and you recognize that the high life of Jesus is not quite whereyou are. The church leads you into a petition for mercy from the fifty firstsum, and the priest brings picks up the Gospel Books and brings it out into themiddle of the church and everyone lines up old and young, and they approach theGospel Book and they they kiss it. They kiss it to express their love andtheir reverence for the text. So this is what I'm hoping that you'llhear from me at the very beginning, and that is that the reading of scriptureis meant to be an encounter, a truth theophony and is ky to enabling the Christian to live anauthentic Christian life. There's a recent saint. That's takenour Orthodox world really by storm the last two hundred years. His name isSaint Seraphim of sorrowof he's well, not very well known outside theOrthodox Church as well. He lived in...

Russia in the nineteenth century. He was an incredible monk, a man of unceasing prayer who did mighty deeds, mighty mmighty deeds. Formany many wetmany women. It commentators contemporary historiansdescribed the last fifteen years of his life when he lived in a monastery in asmall cell and would open the door and spend about half his day receivingvisitors. The historians say that on average, two thousand people waited inthe monastery outside his cell for him to open the door every day, and hewould see them one by one and by one until basically his strength failed andhe would always wear a white Cassock, not a black one, very unusual. He wouldalways wear a white cassack. Some Orthodox priest wear white cassocksduring the days of Easter, but he would wear a white caske threehundred and sixty five days a year and he greeted everyone who came into hislittle cell with their problems. He greeted them with these two phrases.First, he would say to them: Christ is risen, which is a letirgical phrase that wesay in the Orthodox Church for the forty days of Easter. This is howOrthodox Christians greet each other from the midnight service of Poskauntil the ascension day. But then we stop not Saint SarahphamSaint Sarapham, even if it was in the dead center of lent and we're repentingand mourning our sinse, he would greet every visitor with Christ is risen andthen he would say how are you to day my joy? This is how he greeted everyone,criminals and saints. How are you my joy? He was known for his radiance for hisliving in heaven, though he was in his body of the Earth for an overflowing,an unceasing joy as though he was beholding the face of Jesus withoutcessation, and there is a description of his life that I thinkexplains a lot of this and it has to do with his relationship to scripture. He had a discipline, a discipline withregards to the Holy Scriptures. He ended up dying on his knees. He was found on his knees,candle lit reading the Gospels. The Gospel book was open, as matter of fact,the monks who found them were afraid it was going to go up in flames. This ishow he died, and it was very symbolic because that's also how he lived. He literally was catching fire in hisdeath because he had caught fire in his life through the scriptures he gave this advice. He gave this advice to people who askedhim how to acquire the presence of the HolySpirit more in your life. He says so that our spirit will havefreedom to uplift itself there and be nourished by sweetestconversation with the Lord One must humble himself with prayers and theremembrance of the Lord and I humble Seraphim, for this reason go throughthe Gospel every day. On Monday, I read Saint Matthew from beginning to end onTuesday saint mark on Wednesday, Saint Luke on Thursday, Saint John, the otherdays of the week. I divide between the acts of the apostles and the epistles,and I do not, for a single day, neglect to read the Epistle and Gospelappointed for the theturgical day and the lives of the saints through this,not only my soul, but even my body rejoices and is vivified, because Iconverse with the Lord. I hold in my mind. His life and suffering and dayand night I glorify, and give thanks to my redeemer for all his mercies thatare shed upon mankind and upon me the unworthy one. This was his life. This was hismedication to the Scriptures, and do you see how he read them to be with God?He read them for encounter. He read them for experience...

...the New Testament every week of hislife every year. This is what the Orthodox Church thinksabout the scriptures. This is how precious they are. That's why, when Saint Paul was askedafter the first two chapters of his epistle to Romans, and he was askedafter showing that the Jews are accountable for the law, just like thegentiles are that everyone's underson and someone asked him a question. What,then, is the value of being a Jew? If everyone is a sinner and is accountableto God- and he said Great- is their blessing in every way, for they weregiven the oracles of God to possess. The word of God is a greathonor and therefore, of course, on the flip side to neglect it, as I did forall those years, a tremendous message. It's a tremendoussad message to give to God that not interested. I'm not interested.Remember that when you're looking for motivation to read the Scriptures, thisis a yearning. This is a yearning on your part to respond to God to love,because you've been loved to engage in a true relationship. Now. Having said that, let me speakabout some practicalities about how to read the Bible in anaccountable way, how to read it with the mind of thechurch, how to read it. According to the rule of faith, now remember that the scripturesthemselves were collected in a process of canonization that took severalcenturies first, starting with and identificationof the four Gospels and then other New Testament epistles and the acts there was some dispute about certainbooks, especially the apocalypse, the epistle to the Hebrews Second Peter etCetera, but certainly by the midfourth century. The New Testament Canon hadbeen formalized, though ithough it was formalived. Thaydidn't mean that our brothers and sisters all had copies of the scripture,in fact our reality, which we ought not ignorantly project back our reality,post, printing, prest and now post digital age, where we can actuallyaccess fifty tree copies or translations of the scripture on ouriped and iphones. At any time when we're in the line at the restaurant, this was not the case for our brothersand sisters in the earliest centuries of the church. If a person had just alittle bit of scripture, they might put it in a little shrine and wear itaround their neck, put it on the bedpost in their room. It was a treasure juftto have a little tiny portion of scripture. If your church was wellendowed and was one of the great fifty city churches in the Roman Empire, atthe time of imperor Constantin, you would have had the great privilege ofactually having a copy of the scriptures on your altar at Church. Youcould actually hear them red, and so, when our brothers and sisters went tochurch like that, you can imagine how carefully theyopened their ears. When the scripture were being read in Church, they didn'tsay to themselves. Well, you know the kids are being noisy, I'll, read itmyself. When I go home, there was none of that. There was no reading atyourself when you went home they had to listen so carefully to the words scripture was red and explained in theearly church. According to the rule of faith. Remember just because we didn't haveprinted complete bibles, didn't mean that we didn't have the Christian faithin fulness and didn't mean that we didn't defend the Christian faith andhave barriers and boundaries that pheolocians and preachers would respectin their teaching an explanation of holy scripture. Of course we did. Thisis why, if you read the Apostolic Fathers, these are the disciples of the apostlesmen like clemate of Rome and polycarp of Smyrna,...

...saint ignacious of antiof these men,even in those early years, synignatious was probably marted around a hundredand seven could speak about defending the faith against the rise of heresy.Heresy was rising in the church in the second century, very aggressively heresies, like nostisism, an Montanismdocitism, judiizing heresies, which afflicted the church from the time ofthe apostles. These were very dangerous heresies that were designed as from below Paul calls them doctrines ofdemons designed to take Christians and tocompromise their faith so that they would be separated from Christ. This iswhat heresy does. This is why heresy is worse than any other sin on the earthand the most dangerous thing to man, because it doesn't just harm the body,but it harms the soul. The church fathers defended the faith, even though the Canon was not complete.They defended the faith by a different cannon, not the Canon of scripture, soto speak, but the cannon of faith. That is the faith that had been handed down from the apostles to the Church that Paul told Timothy he needed toguard and preserve as a deposit and that he needed to pass on to faithfulmen who will be able to teach others as Paul taught him it's this union of the faith and the Church that I want tomention here for a moment, so that we understand very clearly that theChristian faith and our sacred scriptures were given to us from within the Churchas an authentic love offering from God to us in the church. You know that the New Testament is fullof descriptions and sacred names andtitles both for our Lord Jesus Christ, literally hundreds of descriptions andtitles for our Lord Jesus Christ, so that, through this collage of images,we can see his magnificence as a savior in the same way that there are manymany descriptions depictions of Christ in his saving work in the New Testament.So there are many sacred names pictures indeed, metaphors used in thescriptures to describe the church herself. This is because the church in Christcannot be separated. The church is Jesus's, mystical body. The church isthe continuation of Jesus's incarnation on the earth and just as there's no incapsulatingthe person in work of Jesus because he is ineffable, there is no incapculatingor exhausting the nature of the church, because the church Sharef the qualitiesof her head names and metaphors of the Church andthe New Testament include the very word church at Clisia, an assembly of God'speople. The church is called the family of God and efficians three, it's thefamily of Jesus Matthew, twelve, forty, nine and fifty his very mother andbrothers and sisters are constituted by those who hear God's words and do them. The church is called the wife of thelamb and the apocalypse and the bride of Christ in Ephesians Chapter Five,the Temple of the Holy Spirit in First Corinththians, three and secondCrinthian. Sixth, the branches of the vine in John Fifteen God's Olive Treein Romans, Eleven God's field and harvest in First Granthians, three OndMatthew, nine, thirteen in John Four God's building the net, the tree of thenations, the great sheet, the Spiritual House and the royal priesthood, thehousehold and Temple of God, the city of God, the New Jerusalem, the assemblyof the firstborn, the mother of us all the pillar and the support of the truth,the sheep and the flock of Christ, the body of Christ and in perhaps the mostbeautiful description in all the new...

...testament of the Church, the fulness ofChrist, who fills all in all EFICIEN's unde. Twenty three, everyecclesial affirmation in the New Testament is tangible. Every churchimage, concrete, invisible, the Orthodox Church would suggest. This isbecause there is no such thing as an invisiblechurch. The Orthodox think that that theory iswell described as invisible because it doesn't exist. There are aspects of the Church thatare invisible, certainly, but the Church has definite physical form. Asall of these metaphors and images in the new testament describe shape andboundaries, it can be seen and touched and measured just as chrift incarnatebody, while he was on the Earth prior to the glory's ascension could be seen,felt and touched, and that last description of the Churchas the fulness of Christ, who fils all in all means, according to SaintAugustin of Hippo, that if you want the whole Christ, if you want the completepresence of the heavenly physician, you can't simply go to the right hand ofthe father and bow down before the Lord Jesus Christ, because that is not the whole Christ, the Totus Christus. No, if you want the whole Jesus, then you have to go to Jesus and his church, which is the fullness of him, who feelsall in all. Jesus is not a decapitated head floating around in space axcessed,simply by private prayer. He is the head of a body consisting ofhimself the angels, the souls and Saints of the Saints in the churchtriumphant and those who are baptized on the earth and his presence is thefullness of the church. And it's that church, which is the great dialogue ofGod, with the faithful through his son Jesus Christ, by the power of the HolySpirit. That is what we think the church is Jesus himself. Our Saviourwrote nothing which is extremely important to grasp. Jesus wrote nothing. He didnot come primarily as a teacher, but as a saviour, and this sets him. Apartfrom all the founders of the great man made religions. His primary goal was not to create theBible, but a life. He came to bring life abundant liferesurrection life which exists on the earth in his church, which is his vitalbody. The Bible is also his miraculouscreation, but it serves UB, subsidiary purpose and that is to nourishresurrection life in the members of the church. With this idea, we Orthodox Christians do not approveof certain dicotomies that we consider to be false that exist in popularreligion, specifically in popular Christianreligion in America. One of those dicotomes is a dicotomy between Jesusand the Church as though you can have a Jesus, but not the church. When I was a youngpastor, just ordain just dordained. I had a prisioner who I was having thehardest time getting to go to church, and I tried everything to try toinspire him to go to church and he kept telling me that he believed in Christ.He knew he was with Jesus, but he much preferred driving up the mountain intothe forest on Sunday morning. This is what he wanted. This is what he wanted,and I told him I said, driving up the...

...mountain into the forest is a wonderfulidea for six and a half days out of seven, but it is a tremendous sin to do thatwhen God calls you to the family meal and to the Family Gathering by divineinvitation on the Lord's Day, you have no right. I said to do that. Hemaintained this false thicotomy that dicotomy that false thycotomybetween Jesus and the church, as though you can have Jesus without the church, was something that Paul discovered in avery shocking way before he became a Christian when Paul was a persecutor of the church when he was azealous opponent of the way and he had received letters from thehigh priest and was going to Damascus to arrest, Christians beat them andoversee their deaths on the way to Damascus. He met Christ in a heavenly vision. It was around noon and the Sun it saysin the act of the apostles, was in its height in its heat. Can you imagine thegreatest luminary in the world at its brightest time, when Jesus appeared hemade by the brightness of his uncreated energy, he made the sun look dark and he blinded Paul, and he said something amazing. He said Saul. Remember: Jesushad been dat dead decades, Saul Sau. Why are you persecuting me? If I was saw? I say Jesus? What are youtalking about? I have trouble with your followers. I've never even met you. I don't evenknow you. He learned very quickly that there is no separation between Jesusand the Church to touch the church is to touch Jesus Christ. This is his body, so the first dicotomy that we orthodoxwould suggest to popular culture in America that weshould divest ourselves ove as the separation between Jesus and the church. The second decodomy is the falseecotomy between truth and the church, as though the church is not the GARANTOR and guardian of the truefaith, and you can access and have the true faith apart from the church, infact, Saint Paulan, his epistle to Timothy One timothy, three verse fifteendescribes the Church. He said: I'm writing these things to Timothy, sothat you might know how to conduct yourself in the family of God, which isthe household of the Living God, the Ecoes, the pillar and the support of the truth. This is Saint Paul's image of what thechurch is. If you want the truth, go to the church, because she is its support,she is the one that is a functional pillar upon which the truth rests, andif you want the truth, you go to her guardian and you get it. The third dicotomy is the dicotomybetween the Bible and the church, the notion that the scriptures exist in the past or in the present apartfrom the church. This is not how the Orthodox Church sees it. The OrthodoxChurch understands the Bible to be the Bible of the Church, not a collectionof texts that floated down in a package from paradise and landed on differentportions of the earth, and men picked it up and began to read. If a nonbeliever...

...wants to understand the Bible, there'sone way come to the church and ask the Church: What does the Bible mean? Thethought of the so called perspicuity ofscripture from the Latin Perspicari to lookthrough that any person near the church are not near the church,could red, take the Bible and simply read it and understand all the essential dogmas that arenecessary to be saved, because it's all clear is not true. Orthodox Christians do not believe inthe perspicuity of scripture apart from the church. In fact, what makes thescriptures clear is the church, her worship, her sacred traditions, allthe other layers of sacred tradition that support the scriptures from sacred art, to the decisions of ecumenical counsels to the writings of the church, fathersand commentaries from Saint Lyp men lives of the saints witnesses of themartyrs. This is where clarity comes to the scriptures, and this is something that the churchlearned early when she had a major problem. When Judy ISER's Jewish Christians werecotrying to convince the church leaders that pagans who were coming to theChristian faith, I were converting that they needed to be circumcised and keepthe mosaic law. The church was in a quandary and she summoned a council.The Council of Jerusalem described in ax, Chapter Fifteen and there the greatapostles discussed and debated and shared scriptures, and there it wasthat the bishop of Jerusalem, the first bishop of Jerusalem, Saint James, stoodup and made a declarative, authoritative understanding that gentile converts that theChristian faith did not need to keep the MOSAAC law when they issued their decision. Theysaid this. This is recorded Ian Ax Chapter Fifteen verse, Twenty Eight. It has seemed good to the Holy Spiritand to us to declare this. The Church in council was confident that their deliberationswere under the inspiration of God and that their decisions weren't just theirdecisions, but they were the decisions of theelders and the Holy Spirit and therefore, when they sent thisproclamation to the church in the Diaspera, they demanded that it be followed if some one at that time, as some didas someone at that time said No. I reject the teaching of that Council ofelders and Apostles in Jerusalem because I believe the correctunderstanding of the apostles teaching or of scripture is this. They were putout of the church. They were not free to hold their ownprivate interpretation on the issue of the judiizing heresy, the great Russian theologian of the Early Twentieth Century, SaintHilari and Troitski, says this. He says all statements about contradictionsbetween the Church and holy scripture are absolutely and fall absolutelyfalse and godless at their very rout. Let me repeat that all statements aboutcontradictions between the Church and holy scripture are absolutely false andgodless at their very root. Through the Holy Apostles, the Holy Spirit wroteHoly Scripture for the Church and according to the unfailing promise ofthe Saviour, the same Holy Spirit instruct the church. In all the truth,the Holy Spirit is one and invisible, eternal and unchangeable. How could itbe that in holy scripture he says one thing, while in the teaching and lifeof the church he says another unquote.

This is the mind of the Orthodox Church. The Bible is the book of the Churchread and applied in the Church and interpreted by the church outside ofthe church. The reading of a holy's Bible is often fraught with danger. These are the words of Saint Vincent ofLoren's. In his commonotorium, he says, owing to the depth of holyscripture, all do not accept it in one and the same sense, but one understandsits words in one way another in another, so that it seems to be capable of asmany interpretations as there are interpreters here. Possibly someone way et may askdo heretics also appeal to scripture. They do indeed, and with a vengeance for you may see, you may see themscamper through every single book of the Scripture through the books ofMoses, the Book of the Kings, the psalms, the epistles, the Gospels, theprophets, whether among their own people or amongstrangers, in private or in public, in speaking or in writing at convivialmeetings or in the streets. Hardly ever do they bring forward anything of theirown, which they do not endeavor to shelter under words of scripture. They know that the evil stench of theirdoctrine will hardly find acceptance with anyone if it be exaled pure andsimple. They sprinkle it over. Therefore, with the perfume of heavenlylanguage. In order that one who would be ready to despise human error mayhesitate to condemn divine words, they do in fact, what nurses do when theyprepare some bitter drought for children. They smear the edge of thecup all around with honey that the unsuspecting child having first tastedthe suite may have no fear of the bidter. They are following the cullingcunning devices of the devil. If the words the sentiments, the promises ofscripture are appealed to by the devil and his disciples, of whom some arefalse, apostles and some false prophets and false teachers. What are theOrthodox, the sons of the Mother Church to do? How are they to distinguishtruth from falsehood in the Sacred Scriptures? They must be very carefulto interpret the sacred cannon according to the traditions of theUniversal Church and in keeping with the rules of Catholic dogma. This is how an Orthodox Christianreachd, the Bible, Satan tempted our saviour withscripture by the twisting of scripture Jesus answered the evil one with acorrect understanding of scripture, something that he guides the churchinto saying three times. It is written C S, Lewis. In his beautiful screw tape,laide letters emphasizes how the demonic hosts Labor to communicatetheir error through scripture through an abusive interpretation of scripture. If there is no church there will be noscripture either the books of scripture, the words inthe letters will remain, but every one will put his own meaning to them. I was on the plane coming hereyesterday and I was sitting next to a wonderful young, more imissionary and he greeted me with bright eyes. Hewas just coming home from his two year mission and I introduced myself and heintroduced himself as elder Brandt, and I told them as whatsnights amitnigce tomeet you other brand, and we began a nice long and fruitful discussion in which he asked me what I thoughtabout the Mormon scriptures and I spoke with him about how to read the Scriptures and why Iwas uncomfortable with the content of the additional books associated withthe Mormon Church.

What I told him was this I said: Look I said the scriptures were inspired andwritten two thosand years ago. They belong to the Church that Jesusestablished that he promised he would build andthat the gates of Hel would not prevail against her. I said my problem with the Mormonunderstanding is that if you take the Mormon teaching and you look for it prior to the riseof Joseph Smith in Church history, you can't find it. Therefore it would seem to me that if Iwas going to be a Mormon, I would have to invent into my ecclesiologysomething I call the parinthesis theory e good dock. My eyesight is so horrible.I don't know what's on that paper. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, and in fact that is exactly what Mormontheology does mormanism says that there was abusing that terrible teaching andtheir in their faith from St Paul and second pesolonians about the Apostasey,the coming apostasy. They say. Oh yes, after the apostles died, there was agreat apostesy, which is why, when Joseph Smith was young, there were somany different demominations and so confusing. God had to speak to him asthe Great Prophet, even though he doesn't have characteristics of any ofour great profits. Nevertheless, he made him a great profit and restoredthe truth. Of course, if you believe that you havef the believe that JesusChrist is a miserable failure, because the vast majority of Christian history,therefore, the church has been in the bondage of error, and the devil in fact has triumphedover the church. Awhen Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail. Hewas not telling the truth, or at least he was mistaken. That parenthesis theory exists in allfalse teachings. It exists in Johova's witnesses. It's just Charle Tas Russell.Instead of Joseph Smith, when I was a Protestant, I believedthings certain dogmas that I hold there. Ihold I held at the time to be very, very fundamental and very important. It was, however, when I was not able tolocate those dogmas in the history of the church that myconfidence waned. I became resolved that I did not wantto hold as fundamental as essential what we might call in the words of CSLewis, Mere Christianity. I did not want to hold what I considered to bemere Christianity, if, in fact it was not the Christianity that was held inthe fourth century, in Egypt or in the eighth century, in Gaul or in theeleventh centur in Constantinople. Any other perspective implies the parinthesis theory, andthere are unfortunately, portions of the writings of the major Protestantreformers that convey certainly nothing like Charletay's Russell or JosephSmith, but there are aspects of what the magesterial reformer said that giveme the same feeling. Let me tell you what I'm talking about. Martin Luther did not want to start a church of hisown, but he reconciled himself very early with the fact that that was thecase and he began to even use that language my church and he opposed many of his ownsupporters who were biblical commentators and theologians for notagreeing with him on many fundamentals, especially with his teaching of theEucharist. He opposed them and said that they werethreatening to divide his own church, and you know what their response to himwas thei response was, you are acting...

...like a pope. You rejected the pope and you convinceus all to reject the pope, and now you have replaced him with yourself. Al Right, Zwingley was even worse. The Great Swiss reformer when he whowas so talented, just like Arius Eres, was a priest in Alexandria and was aMaster Bible teacher. He knew the New Testament up down leftand right. Zowingly had memorized the entire New Testament Ind Greek. He was a powerful preacher, but when hewas asked by the city council to document his faith and he wrote it outin sixty seven propositions, he said absolutely clearly that the Gospel hadnot been taught with such clarity as he was teaching it since the time of theapostles, that is a frightfully, arrogant thingto say and extremely dangerous, extremelydangerous, John Calvin in Geneva, who, as far as biblical commentary andinterpretation, go far surpassed Luther ors. wingly John Calvin was certain that predestination as he understood it. What might be called to day doublepredestination was the clear, irrefutable teaching ofHoly Scripture, and so when one of his own Genevian reformed pastorsquestioned him about it. He had the man defraucked and banishedbecause in COBBIN's mind to question that Dogma was to quote attack the wordof God unquote. That sounds to me, like the parenthesis theory. If true pastors are those who believein double predestination. My friends, you have very few true pastors who haveever existed in the history of the church, that's very dangerous. From theOrthodox perpective. We would say that that is reading the holy scriptures outside of the rule of faith, and that's not even saying that he'swrong on predestination, although I do think he is, but it's placing as innonnegotiable, placing as an aspect of the rule of faith, something thatperhaps is a legitimate Phelo Guminon a personal opinion. Teachers are allowedtheir personal opinions, but we do not preach them. We do not bind people to them. They arenot confessed in the church. I have a lots of opinions about a lot of thingsand I've been a pastor in my particular Pash for nineteen years. None of mypeople know about him and they never will, because it's not what we read andpreach. We preach the faith of the church. This is why it's a very hopefulbeautiful sign that in the Protestant communions now there has been areawakening to biblical interpretation in continuity with the history of thechurch. At one example is the great series edited by Tom Oaden called theancient Christian commentator series. This is a complete series of commentaryon the old and the New Testament multivolume work exclusively dedicatedto producing this, this scripture text and then providing patristic witnessesto the meeting of those texts for the first five centuries of the church, safantastic, valuable resource that helps bring patristic commentary toProtestant Biblical interpretation so that there can not be apprenthesis. Wedon't want the parinthesis this way we can read the Scripturesauthenticwe...

...and they can truly be spiritual food for thenourishment of the soul, a potent healing antibiotic against sin and atrue encounter with the Living God, a Theophony, a spiritual experience whichis God's will for us when we read the Scriptures off. Stop thanks for listening. I reallyappreciate y your humility and opening your heart to hear me and I brought akeflar vest. So let me let me zip on that cafflar right now, before I went left a seminary. A reallywonderful veteran pastor told me I m OANT, to give you a piece of advice.You say: Look you're going to go into the church and you're going to pastorpeople. He said this is what you need. You need a bucket of Teflon and youneed to dip your brush in it and you to paint your entire body every single day,so that whatever hits you just slides right off fantastic piece of advice from aveteran anyway. So thank you, Dr Armstrong, forallowing me o to speak and can we have questions now discussion or we hope that you have enjoyed and havebeen edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar,Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourrishing thespiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in otheravailable titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectarpublications, please visit our website at www, dotpatristic, nectar, Dodorg,again, that's www dot, patristic, nectar, Godall.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (541)