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Friday, March 13, 2020

Eastern Orthodoxy needs scripture

Eastern Orthodoxy needs scripture
By Shawn Cahill

The reality within Eastern Orthodoxy is that scripture can never correct the teachings of the "Church Fathers". While many Eastern Orthodox will reject such, in application it is true, which made me ask the following question to Eastern Orthodox members:
Why is scripture needed when we have the writings of the Church Fathers (CF's)?

These are the answers I received, followed by my comments.
1) "Ultimately, the writings of the Church Fathers came due to scripture."
This is focusing on before the writings of the Church Fathers, while my question is about after. The same individual claimed we first need to understand scripture to understand the writings of the CF's. Though according to Eastern Orthodox belief, we cannot properly interpret scripture, but only the CF's can. So the final claim was that we need scripture to cross reference the CF's.
2) "we cannot understand the church fathers without the scripture."
This appears to be a repeat of cross referencing.
3) "Bible authors are also Church Fathers."
This person basically puts the writings of the CF's on the same level as God breathed scripture, which seems to be a unique belief.
4) "To be ignorant of the Scriptures is to be ignorant of Christ."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's do not sufficiently inform one of Christ.
5) "Scripture is Dogmatic."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's are not dogmatic.
6) " It is the standard! The cannon of the church! We weigh things against them."
Though according to Eastern Orthodoxy this is what the patristic consensus is for.
7) "the saints are saints by the Grace God poured out into them. so I would say they are inspired (not infallible)."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's are not infallible.
8) "It's analogous to the comparison of the US Constitution and the opinions of the Supreme Court. The legitimacy of Supreme Court opinions must be judged against the Constitution."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's cannot absolutely be trusted in their interpretation of scripture.
9) "Scripture is the inspired and infallible word of God! It is central to our liturgical services and prayer lives. Every Divine Liturgy includes readings from the Gospel and Epistles. The Psalter is the prayer book of the Church."
The idea is that scripture is needed, but the Divine Liturgy and prayer book already contain scripture.
10) "It’s like saying, why do we need eye-witnesses when we have historians?"
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's are not completely trustworthy, so that scripture is needed.
11) "Holy Tradition, the Scripture, and the Church Fathers all go together and teach us. All are given by the Holy Spirit for preaching, teaching, correcting, etc."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's are not fully sufficient for preaching, teaching, correcting, etc.
12) "The Scriptures, the most divine texts sent to us. If it is Evangelical means it brings the Good News for Salvation. If it is Catholic it means for all people and for everyone individually - to reach every person. If it is established personally by Lord Jesus and the Apostles it follows to the letter what they taught us. If it was defended from heresies by the Saints and Church Fathers we need to know why, how, and by what mean they defended the Only True Bride of Christ."
This seems to imply that the writings of the CF's do not bring the good news for salvation, for all people and everyone individually, follow the letter of what the Lord and the apostles taught us, and defend against heresies.

In conclusion I only see two reasons why scripture is needed in Eastern Orthodoxy.
One is for cross referencing, and the other would be for any deficiency in the writings of the CF's which I don't think any Eastern Orthodox member would admit to.
In reality scripture according to Eastern Orthodoxy has to be interpreted by the CF's, whose writings can only correctly be interpreted by the hierarchy of the Easter Orthodox Church, who self appointed themselves as the authority.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

1 Timothy 3:15 as used by Catholics & Eastern Orthodox

1 Timothy 3:15 as used by Catholics & Eastern Orthodox
By Shawn Cahill

1 Timothy 3:15 in the Tyndale Bible of 1536 reads:
"but and yf I tarie longe yt then thou mayst yet have knowledge how thou oughtest to behave thy silfe in the housse of God which is the congregacion of the livinge God the pillar and grounde of trueth."
More modern translations such as the King James Version followed the example of the Douay–Rheims Bible by introducing the word "church". Choosing not to follow the example of the Tyndale Bible, Coverdale Bible, Matthew Bible, and Great Bible which read "congregation".
The Douay–Rheims Bible of 1582 reads:
"But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."

When Roman Catholics & Eastern Orthodox are asked what the "church" in this scripture is, they will most often recognize it as the entire body of believers. However on probing deeper both sects make a clear distinction.
They both have a select group of men who articulate truth, and this is ultimately not the job of the entire body of believers.
For Roman Catholics this is the pope and bishops in communion with him.
For Eastern Orthodox this is the members of the Eastern Orthodox Church who agree with and are in submission to their hierarchy.
Ultimately the above two are the same, and the Roman Catholics are just more straight forward in their answer. For the Eastern Orthodox it is the hierarchy that gives "truth" to the laity, and not the other way around.

What's interesting is that the house of God is the congregation (or church), not just some of the saints.
A Roman Catholic once told me how the congregation was the bishops, cardinals, pope’s, & Catholic saints. (Catholics depart from the scriptural meaning of a saint being anyone who has faith in Christ, hence "Catholic saints"). He then said how he was part of the house of God, but was none of the above he acknowledge as the congregation. Despite the fact that the scripture says "the house of God, which is the church".
An Eastern Orthodox member said how the EO members who are not in submission or obedience to the hierarchy, are part of the congregation, but don't represent the whole body, nor make decisions for the body. So while they are part of the congregation, they are not the pillar and ground of the truth.
So what is the job of the "laity"?
In Roman Catholicism it is to act in obedience to the pope and bishops in communion with him.
In Eastern Orthodoxy it is to ensure that they all have a common understanding of Orthodoxy, as defined by the hierarchy.

Some assumptions are made with 1 Timothy 3:15 which are:
The congregation will teach what is true.
The majority of the saints represents the congregation.
Only a select group of clergy make up the congregation.
The congregation will uphold the truth.

So if the above interpretations are in error, what is 1 Timothy 3:15 teaching?
In the context Paul gave Timothy instructions on how the congregation at Ephesus should conduct themselves, and how they are the pillar and support of the truth, and this is followed by a statement about Christ.
Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), who resides in us saints (John 14:18-20), and guides us into all the truth (John 16:13). As ambassadors for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) we are the only one's to support the truth of the word of God (John 17:17), and may we strive to do as best as we are able.
As in any group, not all of us saints will agree, so when we stand before the Lord we will find out who followed the guidance of the Spirit and who upheld truth.
Remember Paul did not give Timothy a prescription to follow, but was simply pointing out the responsibility of the saints. The prescription Paul gives is here:
"I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God" - 1 Timothy 3:14-15
And later Paul told Timothy:
"All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." - 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The prescription to truth is the Lord who is the truth, breathed his word unto scripture, and gave us saints the Spirit of truth so that we can understand that which he chooses to reveal to us.

Man can make errors, and it is only pride or presumption that causes one to claim that man can never be led astray.
I asked both Roman Catholics and Orthodox that believe the body of Christ [the assembly] cannot be led astray why they believe such, and was given the below two scriptures by both:
1) Matthew 16:18 "I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my assembly, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."
Here the idea is that "gates of Hades" is equated with being led astray.
Though for the Catholics this interpretation actually disagrees with their own Church catechism which says:
"Our Lord then declared to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it." Christ, the "living Stone", thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death." - Catechism of the Catholic Church 552
In this scripture "gates" are defensive, not something offensive such as false doctrine. It mentions "Hades" can mean the grave, but saints like David are in the grave (Acts 2:19), so that is not the interpretation that fits here. Rather Hades also means the place of torment (Luke 16:23), and since the assembly has received Christ that torment will not prevail against it.
2) 1 Timothy 3:15 "but if I wait long, that you may know how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the assembly of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
Here the idea is that since the assembly is the pillar and ground of the truth, and this means it cannot be led astray.
In this scripture Paul said "how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God". This is a statement telling the assembly their responsibility, not claiming they will be this.

So when discussing this with Roman Catholics & Eastern Orthodox, remember to question all their presuppositions, help them see how circular they are, and pray for them.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Review of A New Earth Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

Review of A New Earth Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
By Shawn Cahill

Eckhart Tolle is a teacher and author who in 2005 authored a book titled "A New Earth Awakening to Your Life's Purpose".
He often references portions from the Bible in his book, but badly misrepresents them. Whether such was done intentionally, or in ignorance I do not know. This article will show how such have been misrepresented, quoting from the version he cites which is the New Revised Standard Version.

Page 2:
"Jesus tells us to contemplate the flowers and learn from them how to live."
He makes no quote, and has no citation listed. He is referencing something in Luke 12:27 which says "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these."
Jesus said nothing about how the flowers live, but rather "how they grow" and in the following verse the fact that God clothes them.

Page 23:
"It occurs in both the Old and the New Testament and speaks of the collapse of the existing world order and the arising of a "new heaven and a new earth." We need to understand here that the heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness. This is the esoteric meaning of the word, and this is also its meaning in the teachings of Jesus. Earth, on the other hand, is the outer manifestation in form, which is always a reflection of the inner."
He cites Revelation 21:1, but in verse 2 it says "And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God". The phrase "down out of heaven" sounds like a location to me. He also cites Isaiah 65:17, and if we read verse 16 we will see that it speaks of a physical location:
"Then whoever invokes a blessing in the land shall bless by the God of faithfulness, and whoever takes an oath in the land shall swear by the God of faithfulness; because the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my sight." (Isaiah 65:16)

Page 43:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit," Jesus said, "for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven." What does "poor in spirit" mean? No inner baggage, no identifications. Not with things, nor with any mental concepts that have a sense of self in them. And what is the "kingdom of heaven"? The simple but profound joy of Being that is there when you let go of identification and so become "poor in spirit."
The Greek word translated as "poor" is 'ptōchos' [G4434] and basically means lowly, needy, or lacking. The word translated as "spirit" is 'pneuma' [G4151] and means the disposition or influence which fills and governs the soul of any one. So the phrase "poor in spirit" basically means those who are humble, and this includes humility before God.
Tolle claims to quote from the New Revised Standard Version but compare his quote with the NRSV:
"for theirs will be the kingdom of heaven" - Tolle's quote.
"for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." - NRSV
The NRSV says the kingdom of heaven is a present reality, while Tolle changes "is" to the future "will be".
Nevertheless the phrase "kingdom of heaven" in this context is referring to being a member of God's kingdom through humbling oneself before him.

Page 71:
"The Truth is inseparable from who you are. Yes, you are the Truth. If you look for it elsewhere, you will be deceived every time. The very Being that you are is Truth. Jesus tried to convey that when he said "I am the way and the truth and the life."
Tolle cuts off Jesus in the middle of his sentence so let's hear the entire statement of Jesus from John 14:6-7 "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."
Jesus is saying how he is the truth, and how people must look to him in order to come to the Father's house (John 14:2). Jesus didn't say 'you are the truth', but rather "I am... the truth".

Page 81:
"This is because the recognition of the impermanence of all forms awakens you to the dimension of the formeless within yourself, that which is beyond death. Jesus called it "eternal life."
Tolle provides no citation for his quote, so I have no direct context to explain how Jesus used such. We do know that Jesus was a Jew who believed that Daniel was a prophet of God (Matthew 24:15), and Daniel spoke of "eternal life" in Daniel 12:2.
"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt."
From this we see that Jesus would have recognized "eternal" as an unending period, and "life" as the good quality of that duration contrasted against "contempt".

Page 184:
"Through allowing you become what you are: vast, spacious. You become whole... Your true nature emerges, which is one with the nature of God. Jesus points to this when he says "Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole."
Tolle cites Matthew 5:48 in the NRSV, and yet his quotation differs as is shown below:
"Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole." - Tolle's quote.
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." - NRSV
Before this Jesus explains what he means by being perfect as the Father in verses 44-45:
"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous."
So being "perfect" (or whole) has to do with how you treat others, not allowing yourself to feel certain emotions.

Page 191:
"Outflow determines inflow. Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you already have, but unless you allow it to flow out, you won't even know that you have it. This includes abundance. The law that outflow determines inflow is expressed by Jesus in this powerful image: "Give and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap."
Tolle says how if people think they have not been given something, this means they already have it.
Jesus specifically said "it will be given to you" which shows that this thing is not already possessed as Tolle claimed. Read Luke 6:35-37 to see the context that describes the giving Jesus describes.

Page 192:
"Both abundance and scarcity are inner states that manifest as your reality. Jesus puts it like this: "For to the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away."
Tolle cites Mark 4:25 which again appears differently than the version he cites. A side by side comparison is below:
"For to the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." - Tolle's quote.
"from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away." - NRSV
This statement of Jesus followed an explanation (Mark 4:13-20) of a parable he gave (Mark 4:2-9). It is explaining how those who bear no fruit after hearing the word of God (Mark 4:14-15) will have that word removed from them, and given to those who will bring for fruit (Mark 4:20).

Page 196:
"The wisdom of the world is folly with God," says the Bible. What is the wisdom of this world? The movement of thought, and meaning that is defined exclusively by thought."
How Tolle arrives at his definition of "wisdom of this world" is something I do not know. He cites 1 Corinthians 3:19, and the author Paul used the word "wisdom" fifteen times, and the word "world" six times before the citation given above. 1 Corinthians 1:21 says "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe."
The wisdom of the world is to "not know God".

Page 215:
"True power, who you are beyond form, can then shine through the apparently weakened form. This is what Jesus means when he says, "Deny yourself" or "Turn the other cheek."
Tolle provides no citation for his quotes. "Deny yourself" is from Matthew 16:24 and "Turn the other cheek" if from Luke 6:29.
In Matthew 16:23 Jesus told Peter "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things". So "deny yourself" means to put the things of God before the things of man.
In Luke 6:27-28 Jesus said "But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you". So turning the other cheek is about not repaying evil with evil, but rather through the power of God, do good to such people.

Page 216:
"If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe... Similarly, Jesus, in one of his parables, teaches that "When you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place so that when your host comes, he may say to you, friend, move up higher. Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be exalted."
Here Tolle was carefull to use the word "Similarly", as Jesus was not teaching what he was teaching, but merely something similar, such as Christianity and Islam are similar because they are both monotheistic.
The difference is found in Luke 14:11 where Jesus said "will be exalted", which points to a future tense, not a present tense. A short while later Jesus said to the same individual in Luke 14:14 "For it will be repaid to you in the resurrection of the just". So similar perhaps, but certainly not identical.

Page 254:
"Whenever you relinquish one of these behavior patterns, inner space emerges. You become more truly yourself. To the ego it will seem as if you were losing yourself, but the opposite is the case. Jesus already taught you need to lose yourself to find yourself."
Tolle provides no citation, but Matthew 10:39 says "Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it".
Jesus said people will "find their life" not find themself. What life is it speaking of? Earlier Jesus said in Matthew 10:28 "Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell". The Greek word translated as "life" is also translated as "soul", so "find their life" is about not going to "hell".

Page 268-269:
"Jesus goes on to say that if God clothes simple flowers in such beauty, how much more will God clothe you. That is to say, that while nature is a beautiful expression of the evolutionary impulse of the universe, when humans become aligned with the intelligence that underlies it, they will express that same impulse on a higher, more wondrous level."
Tolle makes no citation, but is referencing Luke 12:27-28 which says: "Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!"
Jesus says "the lilies" and "the grass of the field" are clothed by God, whom he identifies as "he". This is a far cry from as Tolle says "the evolutionary impulse of the universe".

Page 303:
"Enthusiasm brings an enormous empowerment into what you do, so that all those who have not accessed that power would look upon "your" achievements in awe and may equate them with who you are. You, however, know the truth that Jesus pointed to when he said, "I can of my own self do nothing."
Tolle only quotes a portion of what Jesus said in John 5:30, but the entire saying is: "I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me." Was it "Enthusiasm" that sent Jesus? No, but rather "the Father" as Jesus said in John 5:37 "And the Father who sent me has himself testified on my behalf...".

Page 305:
"Jesus gave the key to the creative use of the mind and to the conscious manifestation of form when he said, "Whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."
Tolle cites Mark 11:24, and in Mark 11:22-23 Jesus said "Have faith in God. Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you". In fact in Luke 22:42 when Jesus knew he was going to be crucified for the transgressions of the world he prayed "Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done". Was the "cup" removed from Jesus? No, because it was not God's will. So something will only manifest through prayer of it is God's will.

Page 308:
"And I saw a new heaven and a new earth," writes the biblical prophet. The foundation for a new earth is a new heaven-the awakened consciousness."
Tolle cites Revelation 21:1 and claims two things from this:
1) A new heaven is the awakened consciousness.
2) The foundation for a new earth is this awakened consciousness.
The "biblical prophet" who recorded Revelation was John (Revelation 1:1).
Before John spoke of a new heaven and earth, he spoke of the first heaven and earth in Revelation 10:5-7.
"Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets."
So heaven and earth are God's concrete creation. Allow me to quote Revelation 21:1 in it's entirety since Tolle did not:
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more."
Why did the first heaven, earth, and sea pass away?
Revelation 16:1-2 says "Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.” So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the mark of the beast and who worshiped its image".
John was a disciple of Jesus, as was Peter, and in 2 Peter 3:10 he wrote "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up."
So since heaven and earth pass away, God (as the foundation) creates a new heaven and earth for his creation to enjoy. I have never found any translation where John uses the words "awakened" or "consciousness" in any of his books, so this is something read into Revelation, and not out of it.

Page 309:
"Heaven is right here in the midst of you." ... He says "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." ... They embody the awakened consciousness that is changing all aspects of life on our planet, including nature, because life on earth is inseparable from the human consciousness that perceives and interacts with it. That is the sense in which the meek will inherit the earth."
Tolle cites two scriptures seemingly to suggest that Heaven and the earth is the awakened consciousness that interacts with "nature".
The first scripture is Luke 17:21 which reads differently than how Tolle quotes it, and the comparison in below:
"Heaven is right here in the midst of you." - Tolle's quote.
"...the kingdom of God is among you." - NRSV
Here Jesus told the Pharisees how the kingdom of God is among them because they were not a part of it. He then goes on to say how destruction will come to those who love their desires, rather than the desires of God (Luke 17:26-33). Jesus was telling the Pharisees how they are close to the kingdom of God, but if they don't humble themselves before God they will face destruction.
The second scripture is Matthew 5:5, and again reads slightly different than the quote, but such is insignificant.
Jesus was raised as a Jew whose custom was to attend the synagogue on the sabbaths (Luke 4:16). Jesus recognized the law of Moses as scripture (Luke 24:44-45), and in the first book of the law God told Abram:
"And I will give to you, and to your offspring after you, the land where you are now an alien, all the land of Canaan, for a perpetual holding; and I will be their God." - Genesis 17:8
This was a promise the Jews were fully aware of (Genesis 22:17-18, Exodus 32:13, Ezekiel 37:25), so when Jesus addresses them and speaks of the earth they all knew what he was speaking of. The reality is Jesus nowhere uses the words "awakened" or "consciousness", so we should we depart from the plain meaning of his words? We shouldn't.

Why I don't believe the Eastern Orthodox Church is the body of Christ

Why I don't believe the Eastern Orthodox Church is the body of Christ
By Shawn Cahill

The Eastern Orthodox Church (EOC) denies being a sect, and instead claims to be "the body of Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:27) .
To start off we have to consider; who exactly is the EOC?
Scripture uses the word assembly (ekklesia) in different ways, the same is done with the word "Church" by Eastern Orthodox members.
First they say everyone who has been water baptized by an Eastern Orthodox member is the Church.
Secondly whenever it mentions someone having power and making decisions "the Church" is restricted to the bishops only.
So for the title of this article I a referring to the former, being everyone who has been water baptized, and is a member of the EOC.
Scripture says the following about the body of Christ:
"For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit."
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it."
1 Corinthians 12:12-13 & 27
So anyone who has faith in Christ is baptized by the Spirit into the body of Christ.
Scripture shows people who were baptized in water only after they believed the good news and received the holy Spirit:
"While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word."
“Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”
Acts 10:44 & 47
It was only after the Great Schism in 1054, that he EOC began referring to themselves as the body of Christ, while excluding others who were not a part of their sect. They also began teaching that people must be baptized into their church to be part of the body of Christ.
While Jesus taught that water baptism is something the saints should do, he never made it a requirement to be a part of the body of Christ.
In Mark 16:16 Jesus said:
"Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
It is man who believes, and the Spirit who baptizes into the body, hence why the warning at the end is given to man, and not the Spirit.
In John 3:5-6 Jesus said:
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
Being "born of the flesh/of water" is speaking of birth, not water baptism, hence why Jesus said "born again" (John 3:7).
Obviously the body of Christ was around much earlier that the EOC, and this explains why it's requirements for membership are very different.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Origin of the Easter Orthodox Church

Origin of the Easter Orthodox Church
By Shawn Cahill

Before I start talking about "the Church" I have to define what that means. One Eastern Orthodox member I spoke with said the "Church" is "the body of believers", specifically those of the Eastern Orthodox Church. However when it comes to making any kind of authoritative claim "Church" means Eastern Orthodox bishops and those they consider to be "Church Fathers". So for the sake of clarity when I use the word "Church" from now on I mean the latter, unless I specify otherwise.
Now the Church prefers to refer to itself as the "Orthodox Catholic Church". This was a title adopted sometime after the Great Schism in 1054.
It was at this point that these congregations to the east began referring to themselves as "the Church" to the exclusion of others who were not part of their sect. They also began teaching that people must be baptized into their church to be part of the body of Christ.
One can make the argument that the EOC began earlier, when an individual was given the title "ecumenical patriarch". This is a title that is said to have appeared only around AD 450:
"The Patriarch of Constantinople has been dubbed the Ecumenical Patriarch since the 6th century[AD 501-600]. The exact significance of the style, which has been used occasionally for other prelates since the middle of the 5th century, is nowhere officially defined but, according to the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, the title has been criticized in the Catholic Church as incompatible with its own claims by the Holy See."
The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church [2005]
Though there appears to be no official definition of the title, I think simply defining the two words gives a hint:
ecumenical = representing a number of different Christian Churches
patriarch = a bishop of one of the most ancient Christian sees
Since the congregations of the east were far away from those of the west, they may have saw the value of having someone appointed as a representative, as the west had with the bishop of Rome.
So while I view the origin of the Eastern Orthodox Church as being in 1054, I can see the argument for it being as early as 450.

Friday, January 3, 2020

God the judge of mankind

God the judge of mankind
By Shawn Cahill

One time when out sharing the good news a man questioned my claim by asking "Is God going to judge people?", to which I was surprised to hear someone question this.
Sometimes when scripture so abundantly teaches something, we are unprepared to back up such a claim. This article is simply to present to vast scriptural evidence for God judging mankind, but will focus merely on the coming judgement in Heaven, and not temporal one's.

I have found at least eleven individuals from fourteen different books who testify to God's future judgement upon mankind.

Genesis 18:25 "Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?"

1 Chronicles 16:33 "Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before Yahweh, for he comes to judge the earth."
Psalms 9:8 "and he judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with uprightness."

Isaiah 51:5 "My righteousness draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait."
John 5:22 "For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son,"

1 Samuel 2:10 "The adversaries of Yahweh shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. Yahweh will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed."

Isaiah 11:4 "but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked."

Revelation 11:18 "The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth."
Revelation 20:12 "And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done."

Deuteronomy 32:36 "For Yahweh will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free."

Acts 17:31 "because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."
Romans 2:3 "Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?"
Romans 2:16 "on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 4:1 "I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:"

Acts 10:42 "And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead."
1 Peter 1:17 "And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile,"
1 Peter 4:5 "but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead."

Ecclesiastes 3:17 "I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work."

Psalms 67:4 "Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah"
Psalms 96:13 "before Yahweh, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness."
Psalms 98:9 "before Yahweh, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity."
Hebrews 12:23 "and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,"
Hebrews 13:4 "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous."

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

What I believe about salvation, temptation & suffering

What I believe about salvation, temptation & suffering
By Shawn Cahill

This article simply began as a list of scriptures I saved to work out my understanding of salvation, focusing on the past tense aspect of it. I then decided to share it with others, so people can know why I believe as I do.

-Who needs salvation?
Let's first consider who needs salvation? For example Jesus did not need salvation as he never sinned. So anyone who has sinned needs salvation. To knowingly sin one must have a knowledge of good and evil. Little ones have no knowledge of good or evil, but can sin in ignorance:
"Moreover, your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it."
Deuteronomy 1:39
"For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken."
Isaiah 7:16
While not specifically about little one's, scripture does mention sinning in ignorance:
"When a leader sins and unintentionally does any one of all the things which Yahweh his God has commanded not to be done, and he becomes guilty, if his sin which he has committed is made known to him, he shall bring for his offering a goat, a male without defect... All its fat he shall offer up in smoke on the altar as in the case of the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings. Thus the priest shall make atonement for him in regard to his sin, and he will be forgiven."
Leviticus 4:22-23 & 26
While God creates little one's upright, they sin in ignorance and thus became sinners. They also continue to sin once they know good from evil:
"Only this have I found: I have discovered that God made men upright, but they have sought out many schemes."
Ecclesiastes 7:29
King David used hyperbole in recognizing that people sin from the earliest moments of life:
"Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me."
Psalms 51:5
"The wicked are estranged from the womb; These who speak lies go astray from birth."
Psalms 58:3
The longer people live they display how they became children of wrath, and sinners:
"Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest." - Ephesians 2:3

-Why do people sin?
Before a child knows good from evil, they can sin in ignorance. This can be demonstrated by selfishness, lying, impatience, stealing, and outbursts of anger, and possible more.
According to my study of scripture, temptation only comes to those who know what it is to do both good and evil, so such children are not yet tempted.
What is it that causes such children to do such acts?
Things can be desirable:
"When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes..."
Genesis 3:6
Desirable things appeal to all people:
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world."
1 John 2:16
Children that don't know enough to refuse evil and choose good desire to be in comfort, and thus will react in ways to ensure they do not face discomfort.
Then when one obtains knowledge of good and evil, they begin to be tempted, along with battling their own sinful desires:
Satan will tempt people with any weakness they may have:
"Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control."
1 Corinthians 7:5
Desire for the things of the world can bring one to sin:
"But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction."
1 Timothy 6:9
God does not create temptation, but a desire for that which is sinful does bring it about:
"Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death."
James 1:13-15
When man gives into sinful desires they sin and thus knowingly become a sinner:
"For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,"
Mark 7:21

-God provided atonement through the death of Jesus.
God graciously provided atonement for all Israel for both intentional and unintentional sins:
"When he goes in to make atonement in the holy place, no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and for his household and for all the assembly of Israel... Now you shall have this as a permanent statute, to make atonement for the sons of Israel for all their sins once every year."
Leviticus 16:17 & 34
This atonement did not mean the people were forgiven, nor did it take away sins:
"For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."
Hebrews 10:4
Atonement under the old covenant was a shadow:
"For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near."
Hebrews 10:1
This shadow was described by Isaiah to the kingdom of Judah:
"All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all."
Isaiah 53:6
Everyone in the kingdom of Judah did not know Yahweh, and yet all their sins were laid upon this individual.
John the baptizer saw Jesus the Christ and said:
“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
John 1:29
So not only does Jesus take the sins of both the believers and unbelievers of Judah upon himself, but he also does so for the whole world.
This act that Jesus performed s identified as atonement:
"He himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for those of the whole world."
1 John 2:2
Here Jesus appeased the Father by paying the wages of sin, thus satisfying justice, as blemished sinners can never do.
Jesus said:
"Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
Matthew 12:31-32
So despite him being the atoning sacrifice, not all those who were atoned for will be forgiven.

-What is mans responsibility in obtaining forgiveness?
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;"
Acts 3:19
"Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you."
Acts 8:22
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."
Acts 10:43
"for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
Romans 10:10
Since the above is mans responsibility, this is why Paul said:
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."
2 Corinthians 5:20
Under the old covenant Israel was always able to repent and place faith in the Lord, and this is why forgiveness was possible before Jesus died. Jesus told a woman who anointed his feet with perfume:
"Your sins have been forgiven."
Luke 7:48

-What did the death of Jesus accomplish?
It bought both the righteous (1 Corinthians 6:20, Revelation 5:9) and wicked (2 Peter 2:1):
"who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."
1 Timothy 2:6
It brought salvation to all people (1 Timothy 4:10, 1 Peter 3:18):
"Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
Hebrews 7:25
It brings remission of sins for all who have faith in the blood (Colossians 2:14):
"Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation BY faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
Romans 3:25

-What about those who deny the Lord?
They will face destruction:
"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction."
2 Peter 2:1
The wrath of God comes upon them for their sin (Romans 2:5-6):
"For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience."
Ephesians 5:5-6
The vengeance of God through eternal destruction will come upon them:
"in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might"
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9

As of date this article may not be written the best, but I pray it serves as a guide to why I believe as I do, and perhaps as a springboard to further study.