Church Scandals Must Come

Scandals must come (Matt. 18:7). These are the words of Christ. He tells us that scandals are not only likely to happen – but that they will happen. They are necessary (ἀνάγκη). Most readers will marvel that this is a quote from Jesus. The reason is simple: the Greek (ἀνάγκη γάρ ἐστιν ἐλθεῖν τὰ σκάνδαλα) is rarely translated in such a manner. “Stumbling blocks,” or “offenses,” is the more common way to render…

Where Orthodoxy Stands

Many of the postmodern challenges to the modern perspective are questions about the character and nature of knowledge. A particular focus has been on the concept of objectivity. When we view something objectively, we think of ourselves as standing outside the thing being observed. We are able to “walk around” it and examine it from all sides. We remove our prejudice and assumptions and simply observe. The result of this process is…

How the Church Reads the Church

You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. (2 Cor. 3:2-3) The mental habits of the modern world are not unlike the scientific method. We examine things, study them,…

History, Post-Modernism, and Orthodoxy

A first glance – history would seem to be straightforward. As one wag put it, “It’s just one darned thing after another.” But history is, oddly, a rather modern thing. Histories have been written for a very long time. Pharaohs described their exploits and had them carved on stone steles. Herodotus recorded the Persian Wars. Plutarch described the lives of the Roman Emperors. Caesar gave an account of the Gallic Wars. The…

How the Scriptures Became the Scriptures

How did the Scriptures become the Scriptures? In particular, how did early Christians decide which books would be included in the Scriptures and which books would not – for there were far more writings of the time that were set aside than those that were accepted as being Scripture? Interestingly, the process did not happen right away. The writings that are today described as being the New Testament were largely or completely…

The Church and the Cross

This article is also found in my pages section as The Ecclesiology of the Cross. It seems that as the Orthodox world begins another level of internal discussions on ecclesiology – that these thoughts are worth re-posting. I was pleased to see the article quoted recently in an Orthodox discussion on another site. Of course, sense the subject is the true nature of the Church, it is a matter of concern for…

The Price of the Liturgy

We celebrate the Liturgy together. But we must pay what this costs: each one must be concerned for the salvation of all. Our life is an endless martyrdom. The Elder Sophrony +++ The Divine Liturgy (the Holy Eucharist) is not a ritual action of the Church which we attend, as though it were some sort of program. It is one of the greatest manifestations of the Divine Life that God has given…

The Bells

I can never begin describing the layers upon layers of Orthodox Tradition when I am writing or speaking with others. This is true, at the very least, because the Tradition is itself also the “life” of the Church (in Orthodox understanding). A life – particularly a life that is Divine, cannot be described. It can only be experienced. Description, at best, only offers a small glimpse. One of the elements of Orthodox…

Scripture and the Church

I have written several posts lately on Holy Scripture – reading comments tells me that there is a point that needs to be underlined that I have neglected to some extent – the relationship between Scripture and Church. Much of the modern world is today the product of Protestant cultures – or cultures in which the view of the Bible has been largely shaped by the Protestant project. The most critical part…

Rethinking Reading

Someone commented on the last post that “Icons do with color what Scripture does with words.” This, of course, the the formal teaching of the seventh ecumenical council. I offer a reprint of an earlier article I wrote entitled “How to Read the Church,” which understands the Church as the interpretation of Scripture. It’s another way of saying some of the same things I’ve been suggesting about Scripture and the Old Testament.…