Since I became Orthodox, one of the big things I have been concerned with is trying to bring people into the Church. It’s harder to bring people into the Church now because it’s harder to explain what Orthodoxy is.
Fr. John Whiteford gave a sermon to his parishioners explaining the decision of the ROCOR to break communion with the Ecumenical Patriarchate—which means also the Greek Orthodox Diocese of North America, under the Ecumenical Patriarch—and what this means for members of ROCOR.
In the wake of another cold-blooded school shooting, this time by a teenager who had been baptized in the Orthodox faith, rector of the Church of St. Jonah in Spring, Texas (ROCOR) Fr. John Whiteford talks about a sore them—how to keep ourselves going in the spiritual life and how to impart this to our children, against the growing tide of anti-Christian cultural norms.
Individual members, and even local Churches may err, but it is not possible for the entire Church to teach that which is erroneous—and Ecumenical Councils are certainly an example of what the Church as a whole teaches.
Certain prayers are pronounced in a very low voice by the priest in the altar during the Anaphora, as the choir sings, and thus the congregations does not hear them.Why aren’t the anaphora prayers read by the priest during Divine Liturgy not pronounced out loud? What are the “secret prayers”? Fr. John Whiteford gives an explanation.
But in more practical terms, how should an Orthodox Christian in our times discern what entertainment is acceptable, and what should be avoided? Also, how do you deal with raising children in the context of the internet and ubiquitous access to it via various mobile devices?
St. Gregory was not attacking those "who insist on literal interpretations," he was attacking those who denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit, who insisted on exclusively literal interpretations as a cloak for their impiety -- and their impiety was not that they interpreted Scripture literally, but that they denied the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
John Fotopoulos and Aristotle Papanikolaou, in their recent article "Women and the Creed: Who For Us Humans and for Our Salvation," (published by "Public Orthodoxy") have expressed their unhappiness that the Greek Archdiocese has decided to use a translation of the Creed that is in line with pretty much every other translation that English speaking Orthodox Christians have been using for as long as we have had Orthodox Christians speaking English. They are offended by the use of the word "man".
On what basis does Mark Arey present his novel interpretations as if they were the correct Orthodox understanding of this passage? Certainly not on the basis of the Fathers. Certainly not on the basis of how the Church has always understood this passage.
Of course we should deal with people who struggle with that sin pastorally, just like we do people who struggle with alcoholism, adultery, drug abuse, or any other passion that is especially difficult to overcome. But if we fail to communicate what sin is, it is impossible for those whom we have confused to overcome sins that they do not recognize to be such.
If someone says that they are pro-life and pro-choice, this can only mean that they personally oppose abortion, but they think that others should be free to decide the matter for themselves, because they don't want to "impose their morality" on anyone else. Is this a morally defensible position?
When we tithe, we recognize that God is the source of all that we have, and by giving back the first ten percent, we give thanks to God, and show that we trust God to continue to provide for our needs, rather than clinging to what we have, because we have no such trust.
If Christ thought it was important for His Apostles to learn all this at that crucial moment in His earthly ministry, then I think it is important for us to go with some regularity to the Old Testament and have a look, to see those very same things that Christ showed His disciples.
In the Orthodox Church, we make prostrations, or full bows to the ground, as part of our prayer life. Sometimes, prostrations are made even during the Divine Liturgy. But there are certain rules about this, and these rules are also subject to local practice. Fr. John Whiteford discusses a general practice concerning when prostrations are made at the Liturgy.
I cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that our government continues, with our tax-payer dollars, to fund and arm those who are raping, murdering, and displacing Christians (who represent about ten percent of the overall population) and other religious minorities in Syria.
The Orthodox approach to translation has generally been a conservative one. Slavonic was never the street language of Slavic speakers. It was a high form of Slavic language, with a huge amount of created terms, using Slavic root words, and putting them together in the same way Greek theological terms were constructed. The end result was a highly elevated language which was within reach of Slavic speaking people, but was not the language of the street.
Some claim that Orthodoxy does not approve of self-defense or firearms specifically, specifically attacking the "take your purse and buy" a sword verse from Luke that is often used in support of armed Christian self-defense. Some even go so far as to say, or at least strongly imply, that Christians shouldn't kill in combat/war. What is the Orthodox Church's teaching regarding a Christian's right or ability to hurt or kill others in self-defense? As soldiers during war? What about defending one's family from violence?
It is said of the Old Testament Prophets that they afflicted the comfortable, and comforted the afflicted—and that saying, while pithy, actually has a great deal of merit to it. If you have someone who is a heretic or schismatic, seeking to divide the Church, or a careless sinner whose behavior is causing scandal to the Church, such a person would be in need of some measure of affliction, to wake them up.
Wasn’t Elisha being cruel when he sent those bears against those children who were teasing him about being bald in 2 Kings 2:23-25? And why was it precisely two she-bears? Fr. John Whiteford talks about the incident near Bethel, when St. Elisha cursed the gang of disrespectful young men.
It is the handwriting of the decree that was against us, i.e. the righteous sentence of God due to us for our sins which are blotted out, and nailed to the Cross. By extrapolation, some texts speak of it more generally as the debt of our sin, but this is focusing on the penalty of the sentence against us.
Is the Church the new Israel? This idea has been disparaged as "Replacement Theology." And how are we to understand the the term "New Jerusalem"? Is it Heaven? The Church? A literal city? All three? Fr. John Whiteford looks at the Scripture and patristic writings on the New Jerusalem.
Before Christ went into the garden over the brook Cedron where he would be arrested by the band of men and officers sent by the chief priests and Pharisees, He prayed to the Father for His disciples: I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Fr. John discusses the meaning of this verse.
In Deuteronomy 28:66-67, Moses talks about fearing the day and night. What all is going on there? Verse 66 is quoted in the hymns for the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, as Christ our Life hanging before our eyes, but what does the rest of the verse mean? Fr. John Whiteford talks about this verse so pertinent to the Sunday of the Cross.
In the Orthodox Church, Holy Communion is administered to communicants using a special spoon. Some have asked, doesn’t the 101st canon of the Council of Trullo forbid the use of Communion spoons? And why are the laity not allowed to receive Communion in the hand and from the chalice, as they did at the time of the Ecumenical Councils? Fr. John Whiteford answers these questions about the use of Communion spoons in our Orthodox Liturgy.
Is it correct that St. Mark "blundered" in the writing of his Gospel? There is no reason why we should conclude that he did, and you will never find any Father of the Church making any such suggestion. However, this is what Fr. Gregory Hallam stated recently in his E-Quip lecture series, in a lecture about St. Mark's Gospel.
Protestants often reference 1 John 5:13, These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. This is a verse that they claim as a basis for having complete assurance of their salvation. What is the Orthodox teaching on this passage? Fr. John Whiteford discusses the concept of assured salvation.
All the children are doing it, and we know how hard it is to get our children to swim upstream and ignore the heathenish customs of their peers. Rather than make light of this problem, we decided to ask some Orthodox priests in the United States who have to deal with this every year what they say to their own children and other families about Halloween.
"The problem with premillennialism is that it tended to feed into other heresies, such as Montanism, which believed that Montanus was the Holy Spirit incarnate, and which believed that the Kingdom of God was soon to come to be established in Phrygia. We have seen similar heresies with millenialist eschatology in more recent times, with the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormonism, the Jim Jones Cult, and Branch Davidians. Given the excesses this view has tended to produce, the Church felt it necessary to clearly define the matter."
Some things are inherently sinful, and some things are sinful in specific contexts. For example, it is sinful for an Orthodox Christian to disregard the fasts for no compelling reason, and to eat a hamburger on a fast day, but there is nothing inherently sinful about hamburgers. Likewise, for Israelites, not eating certain kinds of foods had a symbolic meaning, and was a matter of obedience, but there was nothing inherently sinful about eating shrimp. However, it is inherently sinful for a man to have sex with another man, and the Bible is completely unambiguous about this.
As is often the case, the proper Orthodox perspective on this question is one of balance. We should proclaim the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), and not just the parts that we find most appealing. Nor should we overreact to the imbalances of heterodox theologians, and thus fall into a new error, by rejecting important aspects of our Tradition.
If one wishes to study the Scriptures, one of the most important things that he must do is to acquire a good translation of the text, unless he just happens to know Biblical Hebrew, and Koine Greek. Especially nowadays, when it seems there is a new translation or study Bible that is published each year, it is not a simple choice to make.
That the Septuagint is the most authoritative text in the Orthodox Church is something that is confirmed in just about any Orthodox catechetical text you could consult. The Septuagint text is the text that the Church has preserved. The Masoretic text is a text that has not been preserved by the Church, and so while it is worthy of study and comparison, it is not equally trustworthy. We have the promise that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth (John 16:13), and so can indeed affirm that "Our Church holds the infallible and genuine deposit of the Holy Scriptures."
One could argue that the most ideal form of government is a theocracy, but as the history of Israel up to this point demonstrated, such a theocracy only worked out well for the people when they were zealous to obey God, which very often was not the case. So monarchy is perhaps the second best system of government, but not one without problems ... because for monarchy to work out well, you need a king that is pious.
Anyone above the age of 30 has to be amazed at the rapidity with which the gay agenda has been advanced, and with the speed that transgender activism has become the new cause of the left. The Left's goal is the destruction of conservative Christianity, in any form.
The Church has always considered the soul as the part of the human being that needs healing because She has seen from Hebrew tradition, from Christ Himself, and from the Apostles that in the region of the physical heart there functions something that the Fathers called the nous.
It is therefore not only permissible, but obligatory for all of the faithful, and even more so for the clergy, to oppose these attempts to infect our Church with the same heresies that have wreaked such havoc in mainline Protestant Churches, and are in the process of doing the same in the Roman Catholic Church.
In his most recent blog post, he has now taken aim against not only the "religious right" (a favorite target of his in recent years), but now even the Orthodox Church that he still is ostensibly a member of is in his cross-hairs—because they support Russia's laws restricting the promotion of homosexuality.