Orthodoxy Is Not Found through Archaeology

Many Orthodox Christians speak of a search for the early Church; of a search for the “ancient faith.” As such, it can be all too easy to conflate Orthodoxy with that which is “old.” But Orthodoxy is not true because it is old; it is true because it is orthodox. Even though many people confuse references to the ancient faith or the faith of the apostles with a call to the past, what we…

How to Read the Bible and Divide the Church

How can we know the original context of the Bible? For many Christians today, this is a question at the heart of what it means to even be a follower of Christ. Discerning the correct interpretations of scripture from the incorrect; the exegesis from the eisegesis; the quality commentaries from the rubbish. But are these the right questions to be asking? And can we even know the answers? Context Abhors a Vacuum I’ve participated in…

In Search of a Mother

The following is a reflection written ca. 2005 during my journey to Orthodoxy. He can no longer have God for his Father, who has not the Church for his mother. —St. Cyprian of Carthage Am I all so childish, so very naive and co-dependent, to feel as though knowing my Father is incomplete without being held in the nurture of my mother? My Father is the one whose voice I hear, in…

Vincent of Lérins and the Catholicity of the Church

On May 24, the Orthodox Church commemorates Vincent of Lérins, a fifth century Gallic monk. St. Vincent spent the earlier part of his life as a Roman soldier, later converting to Christianity and accepting a monastic vocation. He lived his remaining years at the castle monastery on the island of Lérins in the French Riviera. Leaving only a solitary written work behind, St. Vincent’s Commonitorium (ca. A.D. 434) is a treatise on the “catholicity”…

The Meekness of a Spiritual Father

St. Gregory the Great writes that a spiritual father should be both gentle and meek. If reproving a person who unintentionally sins, this is especially true. If a person is filled with malice and has sinned willfully, it’s a different story. But if a person has sinned out of “ignorance or infirmity,” then the priest is duty-bound to be gentle in offering correction. St. Gregory describes the importance of gentleness at length: Some things, however, ought to be gently…

Is the Apostle Paul Really the Great Falsifier of Apostolic Succession?

A few years ago, I wrote a five-part response—and recorded an accompanying podcast—to an article at The Calvinist International on the patristic critique of icons (or lack thereof, as it were). In the original article, a Presbyterian pastor named Steven Wedgeworth shared five excerpts from the early Church supposedly demonstrating their disdain for iconography. The proofs were brief, and he offered little commentary in support. However, the claims he did make were sweeping, and…

There is No Perfect Church?

“There is no perfect Church.” This is a recurring theme that often gets asserted when a person converts. And this is natural, I think, especially when the perception is that the person converted because of the presupposed intrinsic advantage of the ecclesial communion joined over the one left behind. Therefore, saying “there is no perfect Church” is a kind way for those who stayed to say to those who left: “the grass…

Sola Scriptura vs. Holy Tradition: Is There a Difference?

I have recently—and on a few other occasions—written about the differences between the Protestant approach to authority and the Orthodox. For Protestants, the final authority or rule is the Bible—a principle known as Sola Scriptura. And while some Protestants have written catechisms and other companion material to the scriptures themselves, these too are held in check by the proper interpretation of the Bible. With regards to the latter, I have previously offered: Even when…