No Bowing Allowed?

  A reader recently wrote: My greatest struggle with Orthodoxy is the veneration of saints, angels, and Blessed Mary. In the Book of Revelations there is a scene that plays on 22:8 where John bows to an angel and the angel rebukes him. Typically, Roman Catholic and Orthodox say that he was rebuked for trying to worship the angel (not venerate). The problem though (in my view) is that is the Beloved…

The Power of Holy Beauty

  The historic Orthodox church building Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom) recently received considerable international attention when Turkey’s highest administrative court gave the green light for the church’s conversion from a museum to a mosque. (Al Jazeera) The decision was met with widespread criticism or concern by political and religious leaders.  (See References below: European Union, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Russia, Patriarchate of Constantinople and Patriarchate of Antioch.) When I was a Protestant,…

Responding to Pastor Jordan Cooper

“Five Reasons Why I am not Orthodox” A reader asked for my thoughts about Pastor Jordan Cooper’s YouTube video “Five Reasons I am not Eastern Orthodox.” In this quite brief (15 minutes) video, Jordan Cooper concisely and eloquently gives his reasons for not converting to Orthodoxy. I very much enjoyed the thoughtful, irenic spirit of his presentation. While Pastor Cooper is an ordained Lutheran minister, his reasons for not converting echo the…

Being Faithful in Dark Times

  Tonight I attended the Holy Thursday service at the local Orthodox Church via Zoom.  It was strange witnessing one of the most significant services being held in an almost empty church (due to the mandatory lock down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic).  The Holy Thursday service, also known as the Twelve Gospels, recalls Christ’s betrayal, condemnation, crucifixion, and burial through twelve readings from all four Gospels.  It is the longest…

A Time of Waiting, A Time of Hoping

  On the Saturday preceding Palm Sunday, the Orthodox Church commemorates Christ bringing Lazarus back from the dead.  This event is a foreshadowing of Christ’s greater victory over Death and Hades. In 2020, Western Easter falls on a different date.  While the Western churches celebrate Easter, Orthodoxy will be celebrating Palm Sunday.  The COVID19 (coronavirus) pandemic has impacted many of us directly or indirectly.  The pandemic has made us aware that the…

Paul’s Letter to Philemon and the Book of Sirach

One of the shortest books in the New Testament is the Apostle Paul’s letter to Philemon, a Christian who lived in Colosse. Philemon owned a slave named Onesimus who ran away. In the course of time, Onesimus met the Apostle Paul and committed his life to Christ. In the social world that Paul lived in, slaves were considered the property of the owner. So, as much as Paul wanted Onesimus by his…

Images Inside Reformed Churches

  A reader recently wrote me that not all Reformed churches have only four bare walls and that there are in fact Reformed churches with images in them.  These images take the form of stained glass windows and murals situated in sanctuaries.  That these images are situated in the sanctuaries is highly significant.  It suggest that Reformed iconoclasm is not as extreme as some supposed it to be. I’ve edited the feedback…