Hear No Evil – The Problem of Openness

A fundamental assumption of our modern discourse is that dialogue, openness, and a free exchange of ideas are intrinsic goods, without limit or qualification. Closed-mindedness is one of the chief sins in this milieu, and any hint requires swift correction from the appropriate gatekeepers. You even find this same basic assumption in Christian higher learning and among writers who aspire to be viewed as–or at least like to consider themselves–“enlightened.” You find this…

Orthodox Saints and the Ecumenical Movement

For Christians, the criterion of truth is fidelity to Christ and the faith that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). The Saints, being wholly united to Christ by the Spirit in his holy Church, in turn become the empirical datum par excellence by which truth is measured. This is why, for Orthodox Christians, the teachings of the Holy Fathers are received as an authority to be followed and believed, far…

Strangers in a Foreign Land: Nationalism and the Orthodox Church

In calling the Church ‘catholic,’ Orthodox Christians confess belief in a Church for all ages, nations, and races. The Catholic Church is whole, complete, and lacking nothing—for this is what ‘catholic’ truly means. It is a calling for all, and Christ our God is sacrificed ‘on behalf of all, and for all.’ There is often confusion—especially for those either outside or unfamiliar with the Orthodox Church—in viewing our local, autonomous churches as ‘ethnic’ churches. Nevertheless,…

St. Theodore the Studite against the Iconoclasts

During the iconoclastic disputes of the ninth century, a priest-monk named Theodore was instrumental in the orthodox defense of icons. Like St. John of Damascus a century earlier, Theodore was a ‘voice in the wilderness,’ fighting against the unorthodox views of the corrupt, Imperial leadership. A leading monk at the Studious monastery in Constantinople, Theodore wrote three different Refutations of iconoclasm (PG 99.328–436). His work was instrumental in the victory of the orthodox decades later. Unfortunately, Theodore…

The Road to Rome? Why Orthodoxy Deserves a Look

A few years ago, I came across a series of posts by Jason Liske, a convert to Roman catholicism. In one such post, he laid out a few reasons why he had chosen Rome over the Orthodox Church. (For those interested, the full post can be found here.) Before I respond to some of Jason’s thoughts, I will provide a few disclaimers: There are likely millions of Roman catholics who are far more loving, charitable, and honorable people than…

The Filioque and Arianism: Was It Really Necessary?

Was the addition of Filioque to the Nicene Creed necessary to combat Arianism in the West? This is an assertion often made in its defense, but is this really true? Filioque—”and the Son” in Latin—is a phrase later added to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed in Western churches. This Creed or Symbol of Faith has been recited by Christian faithful as part of their liturgical and private devotional life since at least the fourth…

The Western Critiques of Christian Iconoclasm

Introduction As most historians recognize, the central events related to Byzantine iconoclasm in both the eighth and ninth centuries unfolded in and around the imperial city of Constantinople. Nevertheless, the churches of the West—and especially in the city of old Rome—were intimately involved in combatting this new, imperially-sanctioned heresy. In a piece last May on the Patristic evidence in favor of iconodulism (in response to The Calvinist International), I only briefly touched…

What’s Missing from “A New New Testament?”

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently published a new take on the Christian new testament, titled A New New Testament (ANNT hereafter). The publisher’s website gives some background on both its purpose and origins: Over the past century, numerous lost scriptures have been discovered, authenticated, translated, debated, celebrated. Many of these documents were as important to shaping early-Christian communities and beliefs as what we have come to call the New Testament; these were not the work…