Phil Anderson: Group to address Orthodox Christian virtue

Source: The Topeka Capital-Journal
By Phil Anderson

Orthodox Christians trace the origins of their church back about 2,000 years to the time of Jesus Christ and his apostles.

It is known for maintaining the same style of worship from the early church, and also for teaching that salvation is something to be worked out through a believer’s entire life, rather than something that is relegated to a single moment in time.

“Some Protestant Christians view salvation as taking place in a distinct moment,” said the Very Rev. Joseph Longofono, pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church, 2516 S.W. Huntoon. “But in the Orthodox Church, there is no one specific moment. We are always in the process of becoming more of a Christian, and we are working on it as we go along.”

Lest there be any misconceptions, Longofono made it clear that Orthodox Christians don’t believe in a saved-by-works theology. Far from it, he said.

“We’re not even saved by our faith,” he said. “We’re saved by God’s grace.”

Regardless of differences it may have with other denominations, the Orthodox share much in common with other Christians, including the struggle to live a life of virtue when evil seems to be everywhere — both in the world and inside themselves.

This awareness, Longofono said, is particularly acute for people who have experienced trauma in their lives, such as combat veterans or survivors of domestic abuse.

Longofono is launching a group that will address the topics of virtue and obedience to God in a world where evil runs rampant.

The first meeting will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at Foundation House, a facility for military veterans located at 3401 N.E. Seward.

Longofono encouraged veterans to attend, but also said the group is open to everyone who wants to become better equipped to live out the Christian faith in their daily lives.

“The issue we’re getting at here is that Christians are in a battle,” Longofono said. “It’s not an external battle. It’s an internal battle. It’s a spiritual struggle.”

Longofono said that in Matthew 5:48, Jesus set the standard for his followers, calling on them to “be perfect,” just as their heavenly father is perfect.

Longofono, who spent 22 years as a psychologist in the U.S. Air Force, said he will address “the struggle that all of us have as we follow Christ,” adding he will stress the roles that prayer, repentance and obedience play in a Christian’s spiritual growth.

Longofono said he hopes the new group will help people who are aware of their battle against sin and evil.

“The group,” he said, “is for anyone who is interested in the Orthodox Christian approach to internal spiritual struggle and how it helps us avoid sin.”

There is no cost or obligation to attend. For additional information, call the Saints Peter and Paul Church at (785) 354-7718.

10/14/2015

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