Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Why Don't Protestants Protest the Filioque?

Normally I reserve this blog to the posting of class notes from St. Michaels. However, we finished our year in June discussing a lot of apologetically issues. Because Orthodoxy is a minority Christian, it not unusual to get strange looks or questions when your religious affiliation comes up in the workplace or everyday life. As a result, we spent some time discussing ways to talk about the faith that is understandable to those with no knowledge of Orthodoxy.

I ran into a blog post that brought up a question that surprises me. Why don't Protestants protest the filioque? This was not a front-burner issue for me in coming to Orthodoxy, however, it did play into my decision to go toward Rome or Constantinople. Now this would be a tough discussion to have with the average lay-person, most people would not know what this little addition to the creed would do to their theology. Though this is a great question for those with more academic backgrounds.

This addition to the creed is held fastly by most Protestant groups, yet it does not fit within their own criterion for truth. If Sola Scriptura was applied to this addition, it clearly would be removed. Also it is apparent that it was not part of the original Nicene formulation and was a much later addition to Roman theology. The normal things that Protestant protest such as the canon of Scripture, Marian doctrines, and iconography provide much less fodder for rejection than the Filioque would. Yet it is ignored. Unfortunately it is a deep part of their theological and philosphical framework that is more Augustinian than Biblical (especially the Reformed traditions).

For a fuller discussion check out the original post at Energetic Procession here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Philemon part 2

III. Request of Reconciliation.

A. Appeal of Love not Authority.

8 Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love's sake I rather appeal to you--being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ—

- Because of Paul’s apostolic authority he could have commanded him to receive Onesimus back. However, he appealed out of love to receive him back.

B. Receive Onesimus.

10 I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was useless to you, but now is useful to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, 13 whom I wished to keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel.

There could be a play on words here in order to lighten up the seriousness of the letter. Onesimus meant useful.

“begotten while in my chains” Paul converted Onesimus, and possibly baptized him.

“my own heart” Paul shows his love he developed for Onesimus.

C. God’s Work with Onesimus.

14 But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were, but voluntary. 15 For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever, 16 no longer as a slave but more than a slave--a beloved brother, especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

vs. 15 “he departed for a while for this purpose” God’s hand is at work here. What are the chances that a slave of one of Paul’s clergy would run into Paul in a city of 1 million.

D. Promise of Restitution.

17 If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me.18 But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. 19 I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay--not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides.

“receive him as you would me” speaking highly of Onesimus; if there is any monetary need; Paul will restore it.

“you owe me” could refer to Philemon’s possible conversion under Paul’s ministry.

E. Confidence in Philemon. 20 Yes, brother, let me have use from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. 21 Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22 But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you.

Another possible pun or joke Paul is making. “use” is part of Onesimus’ name here. Paul is confident in Philemon’s character that he will receive Onesimus.

IV. Conclusion. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, 24 as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. 25 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Onesimus (Feb. 15). Moved by this letter Philemon, indeed, received Onesimus as a brother freeing him from slavery. Later, Onesimus was consecrated a bishop by the apostles themselves and accepted the episcopal throne at Ephesus following the Apostle Timothy. This is evident from the Epistle of Ignatius the God-bearer [Theophorus]. At the time of Trajan's persecution, Onesimus, already an old man, was arrested and brought to Rome. In Rome, Onesimus gave an accounting of himself before judge Tertycus, was imprisoned and finally beheaded. A wealthy woman removed his body, placed it in a silver__arcophagus and buried it honorably in the year 109 A.D.

Holy apostle Onesimus of the Seventy;
entreat the merciful;
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion - Tone 4
The Church ever sees you as a shining star, O apostle Onesimus,
Your miracles have manifested great enlightenment.
Therefore we cry out to Christ:
"Save those who with faith honor Your apostle, O Most Merciful One."

From the OCA website:

St. Philemon: Sts Philemon and Apphia, and also St Archippus (who also lived at Colossa), all received the crown of martyrdom during the persecution of Nero (54-68). During a pagan festival an enraged crowd rushed into the Christian church when services were going on. All fled in terror, and only Sts Philemon, Archippus and Apphia remained. They seized them and led them off to the city prefect. The crowd like beasts beat and stabbed St Archippus with knives, and he died on the way to the court. Sts Philemon and Apphia were stoned to death by order of the prefect.

The memory of the holy Apostles Archippus, Philemon, and Apphia is also celebrated on February 19.

Troparion - Tone 3
Holy apostle Philemon of the Seventy;
entreat the merciful;
to grant our souls forgiveness of transgressions.

Kontakion - Tone 4
The Church ever sees you as a shining star, O apostle Philemon,
Your miracles have manifested great enlightenment.
Therefore we cry out to Christ:
"Save those who with faith honor Your apostle, O Most Merciful One."

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Philemon part 1


Onesimus was a household slave of Philemon, and ran away. If you are a runaway slave in the 1st century where would you go to hide? Rome. It’s easier to become anonymous in a big city (1 million people in the first century). However, in some providential coincidence Onesimus runs into Paul. We can only guess how this may have happened. Perhaps he felt guilty over his actions, and he had heard of Paul and knew of his connection to his master. Whatever the case, Onesimus meets Paul and apparently converts to the Christian faith as a result. He then becomes a great consolation to Paul and begins to minister him while in prison.

Paul feels the need to reconcile Onesimus and Philemon. Philemon was part of his responsibility as an apostle and he could not ignore this event. So Paul crafts a letter of reconciliation to be sent along with Onesimus and others when he sends his other prison letters throughout the Mediterranean.

I. Introduction

1 PAUL, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer, 2 to the beloved Apphia, Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

- These three, Philemon (the priest or bishop of the Church); Apphia (probably Philemon’s wife); Archippus (their son, and possible deacon)

II. Thanksgiving.

4 I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers,5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, 6 that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. 7 For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother.

- Paul thanks God because of their faith.

- There is high praise here; Philemon is a man of love and faith not just to God but to people. This is characteristically Christian. One can not love God and not love man.

- vs. 6. His life makes his sharing of the Christian faith more effective; “by this men may know that you are my disciples, that you love one another”;

- Philemon is an encouragement and edifier to those Christians under his ministry.

- How do you think Paul knew this report about Philemon? Possibly from Onesimus.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Colossians 4:2ff: Final Exhortations

I. Final Exhortations

A. Pray 2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

“Continue earnestly in prayer”: Another translation is to“be devoted”. The Greek “proskartereo” means to attach oneself to, to wait on someone, to be busily engaged; prayer should be our occupation. Once again the essence of the Christian life is to be immersed in the presence of God, and prayer is essential to this awareness. Within Orthodoxy, the Jesus prayer has emerged as an effective tool to keep one’s mind immersed in the presence of God. The prayer is short and thus can be said often. Here is the most common form of the prayer: “O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

- being vigilant: be alert. This is a constant refrain through all the ascetical literature of the Church. The Christian must guard the heart, watch the senses, don’t let anything foreign into the heart. This is key to the battle.

-St. John Chrysostom “"We must pray with ever vigilant attention. And this will be possible if we understand well with whom we are conversing, and that during such time we are his servants offering sacrifice to God.”

-St. John of the Ladder says: "Even if your mind is constantly distracted from your prayer, you must struggle unceasingly to recall it. We shall not be condemned because our attention was distracted in prayer, but rather because we did not attempt to bring it back."

-with thanksgiving: not frantic prayer or fearful prayer but trust in God demonstrated through thanksgiving.

3 meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

- Paul asks that they might prayer for him to fulfill his mission in Rome which is to bring the Gospel to as many as possible.

B. Walk

5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. 6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

Wisdom is the ability to know and live according to God’s will. Rather than esoteric knowledge which did not transform, Christians needed practical knowledge which came from God.

- “to those who were outside”: This was important because of early slander given against the early Christians (treason, cannibalism, child sacrifice, incest).

- redeem the time: buying up every opportunity for the Gospel.

-speech with grace: salt was precious commodity; it was a preservative; our speech should bring grace to people rather than take away.

7 Tychicus, a beloved brother, faithful minister, and fellow servant in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that he* may know your circumstances and comfort your hearts,

-Tychicus was the one who delivered the letter. Tradition has Tychicus becoming the bishop of Caeserea.

9 with Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will make known to you all things which are happening here.

-the slave who ran away from his master Philemon in Colossae.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),

-Aristarchus had been with Paul when they were mobbed in Ephesus. He later became bishop of Apamea in Syria.

- Mark (the gospel writer) Acts 15

11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are my only fellow workers for the kingdom of God who are of the circumcision; they have proved to be a comfort to me.

- not much is known of the man Justus. One tradition has him the son of St. Joseph the Betrothed, and later a bishop in Eleutheropolis where he eventually died a martyr.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete* in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal* for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.

- Epaphras: for information about him see the notes on Ephesians.

- Demas: He is tragic story. Demas obviously was a traveling companion of Paul but in 2 Tim 4:10 we discover that he eventually deserts the faith

15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house. 16 Now when this epistle is read among you, see that it is read also in the church of the Laodiceans, and that you likewise read the epistle from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." 18 This salutation by my own hand--Paul. Remember my chains. Grace be with you. Amen

-the other letter is probably the letter to the Ephesians.

-.Nymphas: Many manuscripts and translations have this as a woman.

-Archippus: was possibly a young deacon in the Church; later tradition has Archippus as a priest in Laodicea dying as a martyr.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Colossians 3:18ff: Spirituality in Family and Work

-note: this is short and sweet. This is very similar to the passage in Ephesians that was discussed earlier. Also the more practical a passage, the harder it becomes for me to comment, because it is sadly less true of what I practice. Read Chrysostom and that says it all.

III. Spirituality in Family and Work Life

18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. 20 Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for* you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. 1. Masters, give your bondservants what is just and fair, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Paul demonstrated here how Liturgy plays out in everyday life. This should be familiar because it is almost identical to what we read in Ephesians 5&6.

-Husbands…do not be bitter: Even if their wives are not respectful and good hearted they should not react with bitterness and anger. They must continue to love them.

-Chrysostom “To love therefore is the husband’s part, to yield pertains to the other side. If then each one contributes his own part, all stands firm. From being loved, the wife too becomes loving; and from her being submissive, the husband becomes yielding. And see how in nature also it has been so ordered, that the one should love, the other obey. For when the party governing loves the governed, then everything stands fast. Love from the governed is not sought, as from the governing towards the governed; for from the other obedience is due. For that the woman has beauty, and the man desire, shows nothing else than that for the sake of love it has been made so. Do not therefore, because your wife is subject to you, act the despot; nor because your husband loves you, be you puffed up. Let neither the husband’s love elate the wife, nor the wife’s subjection puff up the husband. For this cause has Christ subjected her to you, that she may be loved the more. For this cause He has made you to be loved, O wife, that you might easily bear your subjection. Fear not in being a subject; for subjection to one that loves you has no hardship. Fear not in loving, for you have her yielding. In no other way then could a bond have been.”


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