Orthodox Christian Theology

"Fight to the death for the truth and the Lord God will fight for you." (Sir 4:28)

About Me

A picture of my wife and me.
A picture of my wife and me.

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.

49 thoughts on “About Me

  1. 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.
    Pastor

  2. 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.

  3. Hello Craig,

    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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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 🙂

  4. Hey Craig,

    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.

    John

    1. 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.

      God bless,
      Craig

  5. Hi Crqig,
    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.
    Scot

    1. 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.

      God bless,
      Craig

  6. 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,

    God bless.

    1. 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,

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

    1. 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.

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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!

    1. 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.

      God bless

  13. 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.

    Regards,

    Pedro Felipe Rabelo Almeida

    1. 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.

      God bless,
      Craig

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        Best regards,
        Pedro.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

        Best regards,

        Pedro

      4. 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.

  15. 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

  16. 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.

  17. Hello Craig,

    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.

    Cheers.

    1. 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:
      https://www.orthodox.net/services/evening-prayers.html

      God bless,
      Craig

      1. Dear Craig,

        Thank you very much for the book recommendation, advice and prayers.

        May God bless you too.

        Sayed

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