What is paradosis? | bloghome | paradosis website | contact

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]

[The Creation of the Chicken]

An unworthy Deacon, named for the brother of God: James, striving to "work out his salvation with fear and trembling" within the Tradition (paradosis) of the Eastern Orthodox Faith. It is a strange and marvelous journey, and I am accompanied by the fourfold fruit of my fecundity. My wife, the Matushka or Diaconissa Sophia, is my beloved partner in the pursuit of Theosis, and she ranks me in every way.
[Consider Supporting]
[Our Farm]
[The Past]
05/01/2002 - 06/01/2002
06/01/2002 - 07/01/2002
07/01/2002 - 08/01/2002
08/01/2002 - 09/01/2002
09/01/2002 - 10/01/2002
10/01/2002 - 11/01/2002
11/01/2002 - 12/01/2002
12/01/2002 - 01/01/2003
01/01/2003 - 02/01/2003
02/01/2003 - 03/01/2003
03/01/2003 - 04/01/2003
04/01/2003 - 05/01/2003
05/01/2003 - 06/01/2003
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003
09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004
02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004
03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004
04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004
05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004
06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004
07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004
08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004
09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004
10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004
11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004
12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005
01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005
02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005
03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005
04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009
05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009
06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009
07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009
08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009
09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009
10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009
11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011
04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011
05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011
06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012
05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012
06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012
08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012
02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013
04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013
07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013
11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013
02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014
03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014
07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014
[Orthodox America]
Antiochian Archdiocese
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
Orthodox Church in America
Serbian Orthodox Church in America
Carpatho-Russian Orthodox Church in America
Holy Myrrhbearers
Saint John
Saint Theodore
New Skete
Saint Herman
Saint Anthony, AZ
Balamand Monastery
Zoe for Life
In Communion
[orthodox bloggers]
Notes from a Hillside Farm
Bishop Seraphim
This is Life
Fly in the Holy Oil
The Violent Munkee
The Blue Canopy
Sophia Says
Notes from a common place book
Pithless Thoughts
[I am a Rusyn]
[Where in the World?]
Locations of visitors to this page

Saturday, February 15, 2003

Where the West is headed now, and how the Eastern Church might play a role
Part Five
(An Alternative History – The Early Church, the Temple, and Religious Authority)

“How should we do church?” Or the even more basic question: “What is Church?” is often on the mind of the pomo Christian today. Now, I’ve no intent or ability to delve into the deep ecclesiological musings that Cliff, Trip, and Jeff have been fascinatingly involved in, but rather I will generally outline some aspects of the Eastern Orthodox affinity with the Early Church and thus perhaps inspire the potential to see a different image of the much coveted and misunderstood Early Church.

Like we often do with Jesus, I think we have a tendency to romanticize the early Church and project upon them an image created from our own desires and wishes. Loaded with scattered biblical proof texts and the most admirable of intentions we develop a model that fits well within the context of what we yearn to see. The motivating fuel in trying to understand the early church is the assumption that the closer one gets chronologically to the original the more likely you are to see “pure” Christianity. I believed this to be the case, but unfortunately, I missed a lot of the “data” before I had firmly come to believe in my hypothesis.

From my perspective, the early Church – just like Jesus - shunned the Temple/Religious Institution from which it had been delivered. The early Christians shook their fingers at the Temple and condemned it as basically worthless because the Veil had been torn and this clearly…clearly indicated that God was no longer in need of such Institutionalized forms of worship. I also believed that they rejected Hierarchical Religious leadership along with their pompous religious rituals. I fully imagined the early Christians gathering together and just hanging out: maybe singing some songs, raising some hands, praying (always extemporaneously of course) and sharing a purely symbolic communion. Ahhh…it was evangelicalism some 1500+ years before it’s parent (Protestantism) existed!

Well, as you can well imagine the bubble was burst when I began being directed to numerous unusual and obscure un-underlined verses in the scriptures that seemed to call into question my image of the early Church. As if this weren’t enough, I made the horrific mistake of finding out what the second generation of Christians practiced, believed and taught. But, first the Scriptures.

Consider the end of St. Luke’s Gospel where the followers of Christ have just experienced the glorious Ascension. One can imagine the TV interviewer: “Hey First Christians! You’ve just seen victory over death and watch your Savior ascend into Heaven. What are you going to do now?” Well, they didn’t go to Disneylnad.

Luke 24:52-53
And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen.

It was a little disconcerting for me to imagine these guys worshipping in the Temple…I mean my impression was that they only went there to witness to the unsaved Jews! And then that little word “continually” really messed with my presuppositions…what the heck were they doing there “continually”? Maybe Luke was wrong or maybe it was added later…after all Martin Luther said such things and worse about the Epistle of James, why couldn’t I if I didn’t like what it said! Well at least there was nothing else like this in scripture…oops!

Acts 2:46
So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…

Acts 3:1
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

Oh Nuts! Now the "going house to house" idea jived well with me, but “continuing daily” in the Temple – what were they thinking!?! And worse yet they were going to Temple to pray the traditional Jewish hours of prayer! None of this fit well with my mental image of the Early Church. And here’s why:

We must keep in mind that the early church saw itself as fulfilled Judaism – and as such they maintained a Jewish identity to such an extent that it would require later church councils (such as in Acts 15) to discern exactly “how Jewish” they were to be. But the scriptures are clear: they continued going to Temple and as I said maintained the traditional hours of prayer. (Acts 2:46, 3:1, 10:1-9) In fact the Acts 2 verse clues us in to the evolution of Christian liturgy. Christian liturgy evolved from a melding of the Jewish liturgical services of the Temple and the Synagogue. Of course, the new Christian sacrificial offering was the Bread and Wine of the Eucharist and this was done (as the Acts 2 verse implies) in private homes. There is little doubt however, that the Early Church continued to offer worship in the Temple for as long as they were permitted to do so. Wolfgang Simson, a big proponent of the newest house church movement is bold (and wrong) to insinuate that the early church rejected the use of special buildings and that St. Stephen was martyred for standing up against the Pharisee on this issue – I address many of Simson’s claims in detail via this old email to a friend.

Furthermore we see in the Early Church the development of Hierarchy growing out of the leadership of the Apostles. The threefold form of ministry leadership is noted clearly in the New Testament: Bishops (lit: supervisors), Priests (lit: elders), and Deacons (lit: servants). We are exhorted by St. Paul on numerous occasions to honor and obey such leaders. And I’ll not even begin to mention in detail the many writings of the Early Church Fathers who give us further insight into the everyday life of ancient Christianity- Christianity centered around the Bishop and the Eucharist. Some of these writings are so contrary to our popularized view of Christian leadership today that they are simply dismissed, ignored, or we somehow deem ourselves able to judge the writers as mistaken…or as I have heard it phrased: “they were being silly, just like many Christians today are sometimes silly.”

Such thinking and rationalizing leaves us with little tools to discern what the early church was really like. Trying to piece it together from the Scriptures alone is about as effective as trying to develop a systematic theology from the scriptures alone – you end up with 20,000+ versions. But when you look at the extra-canonical documents of the Early Church a much clearer picture emerges. Quite frankly these ancient resources lend themselves rather nicely to understanding the Scriptures because we get a glimpse into the overall cultural context in and from which the New Testament was born. When we admit that the New Testament was not written or canonized as a guide to “re-create” the Church, we free ourselves to be able to really examine the history. In so doing we begin to see in the New Testament many new facets that we’d been missing or ignoring, and new light is shed on old verses that we were sure we had all figured out. For instance, is the prayer in Acts 4 an example of an early Christian liturgical prayer?

As I engrossed myself in the writings of the period I began to wonder if I ever really understood what this religion was all about - because so little of what they wrote seems to mesh well at all with what I believed and did. I realized very quickly that they could no more recognize my church as Christian any more than I could theirs!

Okay, so where are we at? As I mentioned, the Orthodox Church offers pomos seeking kinship with the early Church an alternative history. One based not solely on one person amongst many persons’ interpretations of the Scriptures, but rather on an all encompassing historical and theological context which when examined closely testifies to the Orthodox Church’s own affinity with the early Church. Furthermore, it is based on something else that is much belittled by our society and culture, but was in fact held in VERY high regard by the early Church. It is the title of this blog.

More to come…

An Alternative Theology: Tradition and The Mysteries.

...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 9:44 PM [+]


Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?