I am just a run-of-the-mill Bible-reading, church attending layman. My wife and I are converts to Eastern Orthodoxy and have attended parishes in Ballston Lake, Herkimer. and Syracuse, NY.
Most of my writing experience pertains to writing technical articles in the auto repair industry. My sole scholarly contribution was published by the Philosophy East West Journal and is called “Al-Ghazali and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola on the Question of Human Freedom and the Chain of Being.” My wife and I love the Lord and seek to do His will! Please pray for us that we may do that better.
Hey, Craig. Listen, I’ve been having some trouble sleeping recently. Could you send me a copy of that East West Journal article? lol
Love you, brother.
Hi I saw you post at Shameless Popery yesterday and came to your blog to see what you were interested in. I blog at Nick’s Catholic Blog where I “specialize” in addressing Reformed Theology (with an emphasis on the Book of Romans), and I think you might be interested in some of what I’ve written. I believe the issue between Protestants and Catholics comes down to Paul’s teaching on Justification, with everything else being of secondary importance. I have written a lot on the Biblical definition of Justification, Righteousness, “Clothed” with Christ, Penal Substitution, Imputation (Logizomai, look it up if you haven’t!), and Active Obedience. I stick to Romans and Galatians as much as possible.
If you want a background on Romans (so you can see what I have been focusing on) check here: http://christianreformedtheology.com/category/a-catholic-flavored-commentary-on-romans/
Please post a link to that blog.
Sorry I didn’t get back to this earlier. I’ve been very busy with life and for some reason WordPress hasn’t been sending me updates telling me new comments have been posted, so I didn’t know unitl I just checked. Now as I try to respond here, it wont let me post links.
My blog is CatholicNick at Blogspot, and should be an easy Google Search. I cover key texts like 2 Cor 5:21, Rom 4:3, 4:6, etc, and show how Sola Fide is impossible on an exegetical level.
Life gets busy. If you would like to pint any articles in particular I can look. I already responded to an article about Leviticus you wrote here: http://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/10/10/animal-sacrifice-leviticus-and-penal-substitution/
I would be interested in any specific comments you ever have. God bless,
Hmm, I guess the comment did go through and it looks like you found my blog.
If I had to point to my absolute favorite article I would point to “A Study on Imputation of Righteousness.” It’s somewhat long though, but that’s because I document about 50 Reformed Scholars who completely err on a key Greek term “Logiomai”.
Also my “Romans 4:6-8 crushes Calvinism” (June 5, 2013) is a go-to apologetic for me.
Finally, as to not over load you with reading, I’d simply suggest “Is Imputation taught in 2 Corinthians 5:21?”
I’ll comment on your Penal Substitution post you made last month.
Give me some time on that, I have been teaching through Job and it has been taking away from even time I have to post my commentary of Romans (which is already finished!) Keep up on me 🙂
My name is John and I’m actually a follower of Joe’s blog at ShamelessPopery, and I see you commenting there rather frequently.
I just wanted to commend you on your patience and respectfulness, as well as your intellectual honesty, when you dialogue there. A true demonstration of Christian charity! “Love is patient, love is kind…” I see that not all the Catholics who comment there give you the same courtesy (not speaking of Joe himself), and I think that’s their own problem.
In my own subjective experience, I’ve seen so much online discussions where people from both sides just yell religion at each other, being both passionate and ill informed. Thanks for being a breath of fresh air. I wish there were more people like you. It would make discussing our differences so much more edifying.
Keep up the good work and God bless you.
Thank you for the kind words, I am not always such a great example of what you write of but thank you for letting me know that men like you have an eye on me 🙂 Christians must be known by how they love one another.
I was wondering if you had studied/read about when the change took place in regards to “representing Christ” during the Eucharist? My understanding, limited to scant gleanings from a few websites, is that the change took place mid to late 4th cent., but I have not been able to confirm this with any certainty. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, from what I understand, in the early church was limited to receiving Christ’s finished work on the cross and offering praise, thanks, and oneself, not Christ. Any information and sources you may have would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for the question. In short, the idea that the Eucharist had a propitiary effect has its earliest support in the antiochene liturgies. See https://christianreformedtheology.com/2015/11/16/development-of-the-term-unbloody-sacrifice-in-the-antiochene-rites-early-liturgies/ The earliest of these liturgies is probably from the early fifth century. The Liturgy of Saint Chrysostom, which is probably from the 5th or even 6th century, is the earliest I have found with the notion of the Eucharist forgiving sins.
However, early CHristians did believe that they literally received Christ in the Eucharist. Both Justin Martyr and Ireneaeus were explicit about this fact, Ignatius debatably so.
Hi Craig, I’ve been reading your blog for a couple of months now. I just read that you aren’t a Protestant anymore and that your are a catechumen for the Orthodox Church. Do you have any article in which you explain your change of mind/testimony? I currently am a Protestant but leading towards Catholicism. There are still some things that are keeping me from converting (such as family) but I see my conversion in a future.
Regarding Orthodoxy, do you have any particular book suggestion? Mainly on its doctrine and history. I’d like to know your reasons for converting to Orthodoxy and not Catholicism.
Hope you have a great day,
There are not a lot of “great” Orthodox books vis a vis Roman Catholicism . The best all around treatment I have seen is “Light from the Christian East: An Introduction to the Orthodox Tradition” written by a Lutheran scholar. As for why Orthodoxy and not Catholicism my reasoning is two fold. First, I find that Orthodox soteriology is much more explicit Biblically and traditionally than the highly merit-based Catholic system. Second, Roman Ecclesiology is historically a minority, and peculiarly Roman view (big surprise.) It was never an ecclesiology adopted by the East and it was specifically rejected as early as Cyprian, and emphatically so. Please stick around as I will be having articles on this subject coming up, though my contributions will hardly be the best work ever done on it.
I did a Sola Scriptura debate with Matt P., a Catholic, and I think the weakness of the Roman position is very clear. In the debate I do not argue the Protestant view of sola scriptura, but rather against the Roman view of authority (Roman Supremacy.) Personally, though I love him and owe my conversion to his efforts, I think Matt’s arguments are weak–ultimately minority Scriptural exegesis and well wishing. Hardly a compelling view if we want to adopt the historical mode of understanding the Christian religion that Christians have always understood.
Please stay in touch,
Hello, Craig. After almost three years investigating the claims of Catholicism, I am becoming, God willing, an Eastern Orthodox soon. I’m flying back to my home country after living in Dallas for five years, getting my degree in theology, getting married and having a daughter. I’m just writing to let you know that your writings have helped me a lot. If you’d like to know more about me, I can message you on Facebook, if that’s ok with. I’ve decided to keep my identity anonymous on public sites. God bless.
By all means facebook message me. Love to know where you plan on going to seminary. May God bless you.
Craig, a valid priest can absolve us from our sins. This is simply wonderful, the good news! As you prepare to approach the Eucharist, I hope that you do not come as an anti-catholic, or anti-anything. Our mother Maria can help you in your discernment, catholic or orthodox. There is no better help. She is the mother of all baptized – ask her. There is a book by Saint Louis De Montfort on true devotion to Mary. I hope it is helpful to you. In the end, going to confession and being absolved from sins is what matters. God bless you!
Than you for the reminder not to be anti-catholic. I want to be careful not to be anti-anyone, and the prayers of Catholics and Protestants mean very much to me.
Craig, I am thankful for your blog. It is helping me mentally reconcile some of the conflicts I am having between my decision to pursue joining the Eastern Orthodox Church and my own sympathies to the Reformed tradition. I do have a question. How do you reconcile your own legacy Reformed beliefs (such as limited atonement, predestination, unconditional election, basically TULIP, etc.) with the Confession of Dositheos?
Will respond in detail please pester me
Hi Craig! 🙂 This is Annalia Fiore from RMBC. I’m leading a presentation on Theodicy in the Brothers Karamazov, and I was wondering if you knew of any early church/patristic writings on the subject? 🙂 I hope you and Knoch are doing well.
Annalia, it is so good to hear from you! Noch sends her love!
I’ve begun reading the Brothers Karamazov and for now, I am not seeing the Theodicy portion of it yet…so I do not know the paraidmg the book is working under.
Theodicy itself is a surprisingly sparse topic in the patristics itself. I have found Augustine to be the most thoughtful writer on the topic. In the Confessions, in Book VII he gives a repudiation of the Manichees who ascribed evil to have a substance. You can begin in Chapter 3 (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/110107.htm).
In City of God Book XII, Augustine also speaks of the subject, ironically also beginning in chapter 3 (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120112.htm).
Tertullian, an earlier writer, in Against Marcion Book I anticipates the later “permissive and prescriptive” wills of God as talked about by John of Damascus. Conversation begins in Chap 26 https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/120112.htm.
Saint John of Damascus’ treatment, specifically in Chap 28 of Book II of his Exposition of the Orthodox faith gets into more detail about the permissive and prescriptive wills: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/33042.htm
Saint John Chrysostom also gives a treatment of the topic in his exegesis of Rom 7:13–found here: https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/210212.htm
Personally, I think Augustine’s treatment here is overly pedantic and concerned with refuting Manichee doctrines (they were Gnostics and saw evil as something created and material). Augustine gives a far better, and Biblical, treatment in the Handbook of Faith, Hope and Love (https://www.newadvent.org/fathers/1302.htm). This one has some good “one liners” but its well worth reading from top to bottom, it covers everything on that topic.
If I can offer any closing comments, the early church fathers’ take is that:
1. Evil is not a “thing,” as in it has no substance and is not created. God made everything “good.”
2. On that note, God never wills evil. He only wills good.
3. When evil exists, its origin is in the perversion of the will. So angels and men, who turn their will against God, take what is good (free will) and do evil.
4. God permits evils existence, for a good purpose. (Augustine really is the only father to really grasp this well in my honest opinion.)
Now, some of this really does not explain why there are cyclones and viruses, as the perversion of our will has led to material creation being subjected to futility. I am not sure if a father has addressed specifically this, though I would venture to guess that because creation was put in man’s care in Gen 1, the perversion of his will has destroyed everything under his care–just like a husband and father, leaving a household badly, ruins the household.
God willing, this all helps!
My wife and I miss you and your family dearly. With this Covid stuff, who knows when we will be downstate next. But it has been too long. Please send our love to your family. And if you guys ever go upstate, please PLEASE don’t be strangers.
Craig, thank you so much for these resources. These are IMMENSELY helpful. I’ve already passed them on to my classmates.
The Brothers Karamazov is a fantastic book, and the subject of Theodicy is introduced in chapters Rebellion to the Grand Inquisitor. 🙂
(On a side note, I’d love to see you write an article on the Orthodox interpretation of Romans 9. That’d be fascinating!)
My parents send their love. And congrats on your new little one!
I forget if your dad has Facebook or who I can email to send some pics. Would Jonathan mind if I send them to him and he can send them over?
Craig, thank you so much for these resources. These are IMMENSELY helpful. I’ve already passed them on to my classmates.
The Brothers Karamazov is a fantastic book, and the subject of Theodicy is introduced in chapters Rebellion to the Grand Inquisitor. 🙂
(On a side note, I’d love to see you write an article on the Orthodox interpretation of Romans 9. That’d be fascinating!)
My parents send their love. And congrats on your new little one!
My dad says “you can email him at — his name at his last name (plus an “s) dot org.” 🙂 We’d all love to see baby pictures.
Hello Craig! My name is Juan David and I’m glad that I have found your blog, and more right now that I have converted to Christianity. However, I have no denomination yet, since I accepted that there was one true God who came down to earth, and well, the rest is what we all know. During this time, I’ve been studying and reading about Christianity and its thousands of denominations, but I have felt attracted by the doctrine and beauty of Orthodox Christianity. The first article I read was the one about Eucharist that helped me to understand more that Jesus was actually there and what Jesus meant by saying “do this in remembrance of me.” Hope you keep helping me!
Juan, I will pray for you. Pray to God to help you and seek to please him. I recommend fasting, prayer, and Scripture reading. Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.
Hello Craig. Thanks so much for your website and for everything that you’ve been doing since you converted to Orthodoxy, I can’t tell you how much your worked has helped me spiritually and intellectually. I’d be incredibly grateful for any help with my struggle: Despite my great desire to be received in the Orthodox Church, I have run across the most difficult and grave stumbling blocks. They were completely unheard of in the Church just 70 years ago, and are extremely relevant not just theologically but for the practical moral conduct of the everyday orthodox christian. They shouldn’t cause concern just to the “repressed”, “OCD people” and “zealots”, as we are consistently accused from “orthodox” circles. I’m referring to the flat out moral cave ins within orthodoxy on contraception, masturbation and in vitro fertilization. Let me be clear that I’m not scandalized nearly as much by the number and ecclesiastical status of those who hold to these morally heretical propositions, as I am by the lack of open resistance and sheer outrage on the part of those who hold to the Tradition of the Church. What’s the spiritual meaning of this and how does it fit with the holiness and infallibility of the Church?
On contraception: Their logic of its defenders (who are legion everywhere in orthodoxy, for example the OCA synod) is that the unanimous, firm, explicit, intransigent (even in cases of rape) consent and practice of the Church for 1950 years doesn’t apply because science. But the incredibly strong condemnation is unanimous in the fathers and universal practice of the church, witnessed, e.g, in the penitentiaries through the centuries. If this has not been received by the Church then nothing has, introducing an ludicrous level of subjectivism. With this subjectivism and novel and perverted use of the concept of oikonomia, it’s not surprising it didn’t take long before…
On masturbation: Defended sparsely, but consistently and openly by various clergy in the last decades. But nothing can beat the scandal of the statements by the The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, 2007, Basic Positions on the Ethics of Assisted Reproduction (found here: http://www.bioethics.org.gr/en/Assisted%20Reproduction4l.pdf):
“Sperm is obtained in ways that are neither natural and nor ethical. It results from orgasm without normal sexual intercourse, a fact that insults the sacredness of the reproductive function. However, when the aim is childbearing, this act cannot be considered as a sinful act of sperm loss, provided it is performed in ways that do not disgrace human dignity. Nevertheless, it requires special sensitivity and attention.”
Notice the contradictory, “vatican II style”, compromising parlance so typical of modernism, complete with a reference to “human dignity”, apart from how the moral tradition of the Church has always understood it of course.
And on in vitro fertilization, the same document says: “The Church should eagerly suggest adoption as an alternative to those couples that are unable to accept, for various reasons, their sterility problem. If this is not possible, then She could accept, within the spirit of Her dispensation, fertilization techniques that do not involve surplus embryos, or include any form of donation or embryo destruction… She could also accept assisting the reproduction procedure by using only the parents’ gametes and fertilising as many embryos as will be implanted.”
Thus effectively signing the death sentence of God knows how many embryos in the hopes that one of then will be successful (rate of success much, much, much lower than in natural conception), not to mention the fact that it’s taken completely out of the context of marital relations.
To be away from the Church is a very painful situation, but I would’t bear this if not for exceedingly serious reasons. Thanks so much for the attention.
Pedro Felipe Rabelo Almeida
I agree with your sentiments. And, I have no magic wand to fix the problem than to point out it is frequent in Church History (and even Biblical times) that the majority of the Church has problems.
That being said, I have seen even liberal priests (and even a Bishop from a liberal jurisdiction) admit that all those things you point out are in fact sin. In Russia, they are moving to illegalize in vitro, which is interesting being that only the CHurch is really behind this. So, the real problem ultimately is lax spiritual disciplines and its starting to drip its way into public teaching.
Our job is to push back and let God sort it all out.
In relation to my last comment, the Orthodox Church takes communion seriously, how long can this situation endure? I see no precedent in Church history, even the most widespread heresies (monothelitism, arianism) faced vigorous, if at times small, resistance on the ecclesiastical level.
The issue would be how many bishops are really subscribing to this. It was probably always weak at the parish level where you are dealing with people and their messy lives.
What scares me is the ecclesiastical consent and silence from the opposition on these things. A Holy Synod of the Church of Greece deliberation, translated into Russian, French and English, that being only the tip of the iceberg, and no recent opposing ecclesiastical deliberation I can point too? Why do even the “Genuine Orthodox”, who are all up in arms about ecumenism, Sergianism and Modernism on their official statements, don’t do anything at all on an ecclesiastical level when it comes to these grave heresies? In fact one of them claimed as if it was a positive thing that their bishops are united in the usual consensus that contraception is permissible under certain cases through economia. “Where the bishop is, there let the people be, for there is the Catholic Church”- Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Can we really say the some about our hierarchs today? I can trust nothing that comes from them at this point, I say this in terrible sadness. These things are just spiritual venom, and this cannot possibly be a normal situation in the life of the church. Maybe it’s my ignorance, but I see nothing remotely close to this situation in Church history. Even the vast majority of heretics made sure they appeared before the people as having a high moral standard. Sorry for writing too much, thanks so much for the attention.
This consent is not widespread, though the silence is. Take Monotheletism. For a period of time, every major Patriarch fell under it–including Rome and arguably Jerusalem (though traditionally the bishopric was “vacant” due to the Arab invasion.) Did Christianity disappear? Sometimes true teaching hides in the fringes, with a few faithful Bishops. I am grateful to kow a few, and interestingly sometimes these bishops are publicly different than their private convictions as they play a careful political game.
I think Satan is tempting you and making you dispair. As I teach my employees, tell yourself, “Not my problem.” You should worry about your own faith, your own humility, your own love of God.
Please pray for me.
Ps 131:1 Lord, my heart is not [a]haughty,
Nor my eyes [b]lofty.
Neither do I [c]concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too [d]profound for me.
2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever.
Thanks so much for your responses Craig, I will meditate greatly upon them. On a side note, have you come across any material in church history that would help one to averiguate to what extent abstract christological heresies like Monothelitism was preached to and affected the populace, as opposed to being restricted to a more or less scholarly discussion? The former seems to be the case of the three sins I mentioned, as they’re widely adhered to.
Please pray for me as well.
I honestly think the populace were not too involved with the Christological heresies outside of hotbeds in Egypt and the Middle East. This is why as soon as Byzantine policy turned against it, it disappeared without a trace.
Hi Craig – saw you on with Tim debating the filioque so wanted to check out your site. I am 50 and converted from Catholicism to Orthodoxy seven years ago. I was married in the Catholic Church and divorced and remarried before my conversion (I lost my way for a while). My priest is wonderful and he is certain my divorce is not something that will keep me from salvation. However, being born and raised Catholic I really worry that it will. Do you have any opinion on that? I know that the Orthodox allow divorce and remarriage in certain circumstances, but the Catholic stance really, really, worries me. Any insight or if you know of any literature that addresses this, would be very helpful – Mike
Mike, I hope all is well. Of course, you should ask your spiritual father how you should atone for any past sins.
As for the history of divorces, the Church has sadly always them in the east and west. Here is a good resource:
interesting to peruse the comments, the majority of which seem to indicate that upon study and personal ‘conviction’ a certain denomination or system of belief should be followed. most of this though is based on what extra-scriptural sources opine regarding God’s will. i am – as far as possible, a Sola Scriptura guy who, in my relationship with the living Jesus Christ, follow Him as my sole tutor. much is said of ‘christian’ and ‘Christianity’ on this page, but the person of Christ, the crux of everything, seems to be sadly missing.
This page has become mostly church history, and not Scriptural exegesis. It may return to Scriptural exegesis some day as I am Orthodox longer.
i am looking forward to that for as you know focusing on Christ saved the drowning peter, not church history 🙂
Ironically, I just wrote something today which is chock full of Scripture (it explains Orthodox soteriology.) Ironically, its probably for another website.
I cannot send it out yet, but have you seen this? https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2020/06/19/the-prelapsarian-mind-a-biblical-exegesis/
I’ve come across your blog through your interviews with Sam Shamoun on YT. I am an apostate from Islam and have accepted Christ as our Lord and Saviour, and one of the main issue I have to decide is which Church to be baptised into. I am attracted mainly to the Eastern Orthodox Church as it seems to have the right view vis-a-vis the Filoque, for there sure can only be one source of divinity, though I must admit I am still lacking a sure-footed philosophical basis to be completely sure, and because of the traditionalism it cherishes and protects.
I would like to have some book suggestions with which I can further study this issue and which can introduce me further to the Orthodoxy.
Sayed, the best catechitcal source from Orthodoxy is Law of God from Daniel Sysoev, a 21st century saint.
I recommend you begin reading pre-schism prayers in the morning and evening. Also read the New Testament every day. Fast on Wed and Friand I think God will clear this issue up for you.
Here are morning prayers: https://www.orthodox.net/services/morning-prayers.html
Here are evening prayers:
Thank you very much for the book recommendation, advice and prayers.
May God bless you too.
I had not seen your work but came upon it today when someone sent me the video you did months ago in response to a letter from the DOS about our work. I thank you for the video and your sensible review of the letter in question.
The Lord bless you and your family!
In Christ Jesus,
Thank you Father for your prayer and also for all your work. Fr Chris is putting together that book on St Gregory Palamas and the Filioque and when he copied you on the conversation, I was confused and thought you had actually responded, so I apologize that in the video I make reference to a disagreement on Augustine (it was actually Fr Chris.)
Let me know if there is anything I can do to promote or help. Otherwise, I will pray for your work.
All the best,
Patrick, The Lord less you and your work! Thank you for your reply, explanation (I didn’t know about that; no worries), and your offer to assist. Your prayers are very welcome and gratefully received.
With regard to help or promotion, I am sure you are already doing a lot, but as you see fit, we always appreciate forwarding or notifying your “tribe” about posts or lectures or whatever it may be that. We are continuing our lectures via Patreon/Crowdcast this Spring, first of all covering Ecclesiology and Ecumenism (starts on the 16th).
If you would like to discuss any possible cooperation, I welcome your message at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through FB or Twitter or Instagram, as you prefer. I am sure that there are plenty of possibilities, even if we are all swamped by existing projects.
I’ll keep that in mind. 🙂 I will shoot an email if something relevant comes up where our work converges in some way!
You seem to be on a one man crusade to destroy Apokatastasis. I wonder what it is about the idea that God really is love and really will forgive all that bothers you so much. I mean, it’s like a constant burr under your saddle.
Can you do one on the Sabbath?
I like you article concerning James Whites take on seminaries. Thank you
Craig, for someone who claims to struggle with pride and anger, you seem to be managing it well in your interactions on this blog. I have a history of spiritual abuse, and am a catholiphobe who is suffering from a hardened heart. I would appreciate your prayers.
Dude just found u on utube. I’m an English recent convert to Orthodoxy and really appreciate your work. I watched the video on christology for dummies, brilliant. It gave me a couple of precious lightbulb moments thank you bro, Jonathan UK
Hello, I am happy to give you an answer for free! I want to answer your question plainly and I am not looking to offend or degrade anyone else, as that is not my intention.
In short, what I explicitly stated was that I suspected that Mike asked Erick a question he asked him privately so many times in the past, that he anticipated it and had the answer ready. I used the word “feed” to describe this. Mike and Erick responded angrily and stated that no one was “fed” a question, but that Mike merely asked a question to Erick that he “had asked for years, way before I knew Craig, I didn’t know who he even was,” to quote Mike. He did not explain why, during a moderated debate, he would ask surprise questions to me, but one he asked Erick repeatedly for years.
So, based upon both what I suspected and what Mike explicitly stated, I don’t think there is any real debate over what happened, but rather the term I used to describe what happened. In other words, a debate over words, but not substance.
There is some more details over private conversations I was forwarded, but everything I stated previously was publicly stated and “on the record.”
May God bless you and whenever my Christian witness falls short, I offer you my apologies.
I hope you’re well. I’ve been considering reverting to the Catholic Church of my baptism, but I also want to be sure I am being as objective as I can be with the Orthodox Faith. If I may pose two questions:
1) What sets Orthodoxy apart from the other communions that profess a lineage in Apostolic Succession, namely the Church of the East, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, and the Roman Catholic Church, and
2) Is there a Magisterium in the Orthodox and how does its function differ to that of Rome’s?
Quinn, I hope all is well and I will pray for you.
Your searching merits a longer answer, but I think I have already made material that, if you listen to carefully, answer your questions in sufficient detail.
1. The Orthodox Church has never gone into schism, while there are specific instances where each of the communions you name went into schism. So, the Church of the East, which was originally under the jurisdiction of Antioch and the other Patriarchs by their own admission (they had a canon on this in 410 AD when they formed their church), reversed this in 424 and by the 480s completely left Antioch’s communion. This was due to imperial pressure by the Sassanid Empire. They re-entered communion a few times but always fell away again. The Oriental Orthodox, by their own admission in a 497 letter, left communion over an allegedly bad translation of the Tome of Leo. Their schism almost had no bishops left, but then Jacob Bar Addai ordained parallel bishops by the hundreds, creating bishops and a church where there was not one. So, we literally know the individual who created their schism. As for the Roman Catholic Church, they created a parallel bishopric as well, replacing eastern bishops during the crusades and thereby making new churches where there were not any. I cover that here: https://orthodoxchristiantheology.com/2021/02/13/who-started-the-great-schism-a-concise-answer/
2. The Orthodox do have a Magesterium. It is in many respects easier to understand and more consistent. There is no doubt over what’s authoritative, what’s not, and how to interpret it. Watch the following carefully: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPMsGUkTeC4
Really appreciate your suggestions and your insight. I will pray for you too.
Gday from Australia. Thanks for making us aware of Orthodoxy in Cambodia.
Thank you for your support!
On youtube you said that when Jerome wrote of”victorinus bishop of Petavium” in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary essay, he was probably thinking of Marious Victorinus instead. Could you explain your evidence for saying this (it was my hunch too, but not based on much).
Like you just a hunch. There is a specific passage in marius victorinus where one can legitimately translate that way
I have been interested in joining Orthodoxy having moved from Baptist/evangelical/non-denominationalism into Anglicanism. I know you come from a Protestant background, if I am not mistaken, and I have seen articles on here from before your conversion rather critical of Orthodox beliefs.
Is there a post that chronicles your journey from Protestantism into Orthodoxy? I would be very curious to learn how you overcame your reservations and took the plunge.
There’s a video on it, but I have never really chronicled everything in my thought process–i’m not important enough of a thinker!
May God bless you
Thank you, Craig.
Should you have an abundance of time, I am curious about your thoughts on a few quandaries I have had in thinking about the Orthodox faith.
1. At the outset, I found the notion of the conciliar and ancient Church so refreshing. Worship historically in the vernacular!
But then I couldn’t help but see the ethno-nationalist character that often seems to pervade the Church. Or, rather, an almost hauntingly colonial character to it’s organization. 195 countries on the earth and only 14 (or so) autocephalous churches. Efforts to reunify with the Oriental Orthodox seem to progress only as an afterthought. And Patriarch Kirill… Well his rhetoric adopts almost a Crusader vernacular in conflict splitting Orthodoxy. Indeed, the matter between Moscow and Constantinople regarding Ukraine once again threatens to remove Orthodox Christians from Communion from one another.
I suppose how can we say Christ’s True and Orthodox Apostolic Church can or ought to be so fragmented? Can the Church of the Apostles’ really see three or four or even five competing jurisdictions in a given American city? While papal supremacy may have resulted in a multitude of errors, surely this discordant, ethno-centric approach to Church governance also produces profound disunity? What can we do when Christ’s Church appears (and has appeared for much of history) as a pawn of political despots? I fear joining any congregation here in the states suspecting one or another Orthodox body may simply break communion with it at a later date.
2. How could the evangelizing, energized Orthodox Church of God have lapsed into embodying only a tenth or so of all professing Christians? While the Catholics’ and the Protestants’ evangelism seems to have flourished, Orthodoxy still seems, by and large, content to remain where it already exists. Or, considering that the Orthodox Church considered the Church in the West invalid after the schism (and continued to believe such about the Protestants), how could it have allowed Christians in these lands for nearly a thousand years to possess no access to the True Church? If true belonging in the Orthodox Church is essential for the life of the Christian, how could dueling politics among bishoprics allow for Orthodoxy to largely remain isolated in the East and MidEast?
3. I read often that Orthodox prayers to the saints willingly indulge in “hyperbole” i.e. Mary as our “only” hope. How can Orthodoxy work so zealously in preserving doctrine, while seemingly imprecise in matters of prayer and liturgy?
4. Last, while it is evident Orthodox (rightly) see the liturgy as a precious treasure, is it’s preservation really worth further division among Christians? Could there not be a great many liturgical variations akin to the so-called Western rite? Is not a universal church united in belief “greater” than a deeply divided church that bickers over regional rite and practice?
These are just thoughts that have been swirling in my head. I thank you in due course if you feel inspired to reply.
Thank you for the thoughtful questions
“1. I couldn’t help but see the ethno-nationalist character that often seems to pervade the Church. Or, rather, an almost hauntingly colonial character to it’s organization. 195 countries on the earth and only 14 (or so) autocephalous churches. ”
This is a reality, but in the West we are often blind to how the West is identical. Go to Germany, Scotland, the Netherlands, and Scandanvia–state churches who then export their brand internationally. Go to America and see the dominant stretch of southern baptist churches…in the south. And the export of their brand. The Capitalist organization of the USA pervades its religious institutions and they literally export their brands, organizational strategies, and their equivalents overseas are controlled by US investors and their organizations near equivalent. The same is true with Korean Christians who have largely followed this model.
Then look at Roman Catholics. In my city, there are Polish specific churches and irish specific churches. The Italians, feeling snubbed, purposely built a statue of Columbus outside of the Cathedral because they did not have an Italian bishop in 100 years.
We will see Orthodoxy become less ethnically subjugated as we see the rest of the world be the same. But sadly, we will see new forms of subjugation based on education, access to markets, and social class. Lord have mercy.
This is why God has permitted the Eastern Orthodox to be persecuted far and away more than any other religion. We had great persecutions in the 20th century. If history is an indicator, we *should* expect a repeat.
“2. How could the evangelizing, energized Orthodox Church of God have lapsed into embodying only a tenth or so of all professing Christians?”
Evangelism historically has been mainly a mercantile and imperialistic endeavor. So when Ethiopia converted to Christianity, it helped establish trade relations with the Roman Empire. Ditto with the Goths and Germans. Then the Slavs, Etc. ANd so, with the political collapse of the Greek and then Russian Empires, the precapitalist mode of evangelism has been disintegrated. Orthodoxy is now behind historically capitalist countries who have a leg up in a neo-liberal world and the rules its plays by.
So in short, I’d say you’re asking the question in the wrong century. This question would make no sense in 1720 or 1220 or 720 or 320. Will it make sense in 2120 if we make it that long?
“…considering that the Orthodox Church considered the Church in the West invalid after the schism (and continued to believe such about the Protestants), how could it have allowed Christians in these lands for nearly a thousand years to possess no access to the True Church?”
FOr the reason I just stated, because to evangelize effectively meant beating western armies on the battlefield, which was not geopolitically in the cards.
” If true belonging in the Orthodox Church is essential for the life of the Christian, how could dueling politics among bishoprics allow for Orthodoxy to largely remain isolated in the East and MidEast?”
If we asked this question in 1650, one could ask “why are baptists relegated to the British isles, why is reformed theology only in central and western europe.” In 1050 one can ask, “why is latin theology on is western europe, but not the Caucasus, Russia, the Far East, Ethiopia, Egypt, Greece, Asia Minor, etcetera.” Often times, we fail to realize what colors our perspective are essentially things relevant in a given window of time when we happen to be alive, but not other times.
“3. I read often that Orthodox prayers to the saints willingly indulge in “hyperbole” i.e. Mary as our “only” hope. How can Orthodoxy work so zealously in preserving doctrine, while seemingly imprecise in matters of prayer and liturgy?”
I suppose we do not put a governor on emotion. Additionally, many of these texts were written when not calling emperors “your holiness,” bishops “the most excellent,” and other such titles would have been grave insult. Hence, to not have this language while using such laudatory language with everyone else, would have been blasphemous. It’d be like praying to God by saying, “Yo dawg, que pasa?”
“4. Last, while it is evident Orthodox (rightly) see the liturgy as a precious treasure, is it’s preservation really worth further division among Christians? Could there not be a great many liturgical variations akin to the so-called Western rite?”
Orthodox do have liturgical development and I’d say we don’t split over these things, but we don’t permit for diversity without condition. The lived-in condition of the CHurch is needed to test drive what is worth keeping. So, the Western Rite IMHO on the theoretical level may work, but whether it stands the test of experience we shall see. Just so people don’t see this as an ethnocentric comment, the ancient western rites at the paracelsis, for example. So I don’t doubt we can have good liturgies that appear very western. Whether that includes what people consider western today, like the roman mass and what not, I reserve judgement.
“Is not a universal church united in belief “greater” than a deeply divided church that bickers over regional rite and practice?”
The Orthodox are far less diverse in belief that Protestants and RCs. It is really no context. Arminianism versus Calvinism. High church versus low church. Gender and sexuality issues. You have the full gamut in those communions (the RCs tend to have their own equivalents). Thank God, these are considerably muted (though not non existent in liberal circles) within Orthodoxy.
I hope this helps!
Even More Questions:
Okay, I thought of a few more puzzlers.
– I have heard it said that the Church knows with certainty that those proclaimed saints reside in heaven. But while some appear *obvious* in their saintly character, other saints, especially those honored at a regional level can seem sketchy at best. Particularly when dealing with canonized despotic political leaders. I have even heard it said that even Rasputin has a sincere following pressing for his canonization – and though seemingly a remote possibility, it is hardly inconceivable given certain other characters now possessing the title of Saint. Can it truly be said that we on earth can know with certainty who does and does not reside in heaven?
– I am confused about much of the language surrounding the Pope and other Catholic bishops. For instance, I still hear him referred to as Bishop of Rome and Heir of St Peter in certain Orthodox discussions, but does this imply an acknowledgement that they still have a valid apostolic succession? Or might the Orthodox create a new Orthodox Patriachate of Rome with an Orthodox Patriarch esconced in Italy? Maybe this matters less than I imagine it does…
– I am in the midst of reading “The Orthodox Church by Metropolitan Kallistos (may his memory be eternal) and I came across his description of the peculiar relationship between Byzantine Emperor and the Church. Apparently he was referred to as an “Icon of Christ”, Christ’s earthly vicar, and allowed to partake in Eucharist in the altar with the priests. Though Kallistos seemed to disagree that this anointed to Caesaropapism, I couldn’t help but find myself deeply disturbed by the notion. Am I wrong to be repulsed by the relationship between Church and Emperor in the Empire?
Thank you for fielding another round of random questions.
Hi, Craig. It looks like Dr. Gavin Ortlund had Joshua Schooping on his show again a few days ago. Seems like this will be a recurring theme going forward. Do you think you will make a response to this? As that video will be viewed by thousands of people, and judging by how persuasive the commenters thought he was, I believe it’s imperative. I’d be willing to make a donation of whatever amount you think is appropriate to your channel or an Orthodox charity if you’d be willing to make a rebuttal (maybe with Fr. Whiteford) at some point, if you have the time. God bless you, Craig.
Response is scheduled this Friday. Last Friday we already responded to the icon arguments.
If you would like to support the churches in Cambodia, including the repair of the cathedral, a $50 donation or more will be matched for an upcoming documentary.
Pray for me,
I’ve been consuming a lot of your content over the past few months and I seem to have made the dreaded mistake of forgetting where you mentioned something. Specifically, you recommended a book pertaining to Christology that I forgot the name of and now want to read. In the YouTube video you mentioned this book is one that will help the reader “level up”. The book pertained, in some way, to why/how Christ voluntarily took on the passions from his mother which is why the Theotokos couldn’t have been born without original sin. Hopefully this is enough context to point me in the right direction.
Thanks for all your work!
Also, I am interested in helping with the missionary efforts in Cambodia. I have been there before and plan on traveling there (Cambodia and Thailand) early next year. How do you recommend I reach out? And/or may I email you with an introduction of myself including who I am and why I care?
Nathaniel, the book is Jesus Fallen by Emanuel Hatzidakis.
I’ll be in Cambodia during Lent, let me know if you are in the capital at that time. I plan on being in siem reap, sihanoukville, and Phnom Penh. You can reach out to me or the priests on Facebook messenger. The donate page has the priests’ information!
Long term it is my hope that some sort of schools will be began there. If you plan on spending significant time, id say it would be with that initiative and or passing out tracts that are translated in Khmer, particularly walking distance from the two permanent churches we have there.
Ultimately we need full timers there! Even people doing God’s work during a long stay is immensely helpful.
God willing we will speak soon. If you have issues finding me on messenger let me know.
I just watched this video by Schooping and think it could do with a response. https://youtu.be/x1vszgPoxV8
As a baby Orthodox I suspect that the council is addressing unrepentant conscious heretics and pronouncing their current state of being damned. Just as God damned Nineva until repentance, and the Apostle Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:20 below, where it is clear that repentence is always the sought after option even as the Church cuts anyone off.
“This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.”
1 Timothy 1:18-20
Otherwise it contradicts some of the regular prayers for the return of apostates. For example “Illumine with the light of awareness the apostates from the Orthodox Faith, and those blinded by pernicious heresies, and number them with Thy Holy, Apostolic, Catholic Church.”
I think Schooping and others who watch his video (like The Other Paul, who commented) may be recoiling emotionally from the reality of what we see the church being given responsibility to do because it feels dangerous to share in this responsibility they only trust God to do and which the Church only takes part in God doing.
Anyway, thought you might find it good to reply to if it fits in.
It certainly deserves a response. I’m shocked that Schooping continues to ignore offers to actually engage with Orthodox Christians on these issues. He is seemingly obsessed with dragging people out of the Church.
It was also disappointing to see The Other Paul in the comments (someone who Craig has had on multiple times) calling Orthodoxy a “sad reality” and praying that us ignorant Orthodox will eventually realize it. What a shame.
I don’t get it, what’s wrong with our annual cursing of heretics? We should not shy away from what we do.
It’s more the nuance of why it’s not wrong, and who it was written to address, and how it doesn’t mean we’re not praying and hoping for their repentence and salvation.
This is an appeal to emotion, it’s really not worthy of a response. Perhaps a 15 second short but honestly this is one of those issues where I think we need to double down and say “yes, we do this.”
Fair enough, you’re not wrong. I guess if it’s a major issue it will come up in a debate. I was just thinking of people in the comments who were swayed by it. We are emotional beings so sometimes we need reassurance along with truth. Maybe that’s just an excuse though.
Anyway, no problem. Appreciate your time Craig. Hope all is well.
You are welcome. Sadly, I think we should not run from this. Those who leave are like the “disciples” of Jesus that left in John 6 over the cannibalism comments. If people leave over the truth, then we cannot coax them to believe the truth by lying.