The Communion of Tradition

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life–the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us–that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also…

History’s Detectives

The search for the historical anything is an exercise in fantasy and imagination, a good movie, but not good for much else. C.S. Lewis noted that reviewers of his books, speculating on how they were written and other such intimate historical matters, were almost universally wrong. He wondered out loud why we should presume historical critics of the past, sometimes of a past stretching back for millennia, should be taken at all…

Being Saved in Sodom and Gomorrah – The Prayers of the Saints

This is an exercise in Orthodox reading of the Scriptures. The habits of modern Christians run towards history: it is a lens through which we see the world. We see a world of cause and effect, and, because the past is older than the present, we look to the past to find the source of our present. Some cultures have longer memories than others (America’s memory usually extends only the the beginning…

Reading the Real Bible and Notes on the Real Hell

This post began as a comment – a response to serious questions about the nature of hell (Is Hell Real?) and recent treatments of Scriptural literalism. I offer this edited version as a new post for the sake of those who don’t follow comments closely… Dear Reader, I want to state immediately that you should be at peace about the state of Orthodoxy. My earlier post (Is Hell Real?) is not meant…

Reading in Communion

“Seeing they do not see and hearing they do not hear…” (Matt. 13:13) This is Jesus’ description of those who encountered Him but did not understand. Just because we see something doesn’t mean we see it. Just because we hear something doesn’t mean we’ve heard it. This is particularly true of Holy Scripture. Just because we read it doesn’t mean we’ve read it. Why do we read the Scriptures? I assume that…

People of the Book

How obvious is the Bible? In my part of the world, a simple, cultural Protestantism prevails, one where many people when asked what Church they go to will say, “I just read the Bible and try to do what God says.” They may or may not go to a Church. They may, if questioned have some general doctrines to which they subscribe, but generally this is not the case. Their Christianity is…

The Shape of Scripture and the Orthodox Faith

I have written frequently about the Orthodox understanding of the Scriptures. I offer a quote taken from a lecture by Fr. Andrew Louth, Professor of Patristic and Byzantine Studies at Durham University, priest in the Diocese of Sourozh (Great Britain) in the Russian Orthodox Church. This passage comes from the first lecture in the series. I heartily recommend the entire 8 lectures. I could not possibly have said it better: What does…

The Mystery of Christ’s Baptism

This week, the Church moves from the feast of Christmas to the feast of Theophany – the celebration of the Baptism of Christ. The intent of this feast is not to celebrate a succession of historical events (the Baptism of Christ is at least 30 years later than His birth). Rather this feast takes us into the depths of the mystery of Christ and His salvation of the world. Many Christians, reading the gospel accounts of…

Today – the Scriptures are Fulfilled

Standing in the synagogue in Nazareth, Christ reads from Isaiah (61) the passage: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And he…

Fulfilled – The Christian Reading of the Old Testament

“That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet…” This is a familiar line in the gospels – particularly in St. Matthew. It signals a moment that the gospel writer (and thus the tradition) sees an action or saying of Jesus as somehow being a “fulfillment” of something within the Old Testament. For the confession of the primitive Church is that what Jesus did is “in accordance with the Scriptures”…