Hank Hanegraaff Becomes Orthodox

How Should Evangelicals Respond?

Hank Hanegraaff – Bible Answer Man
Right – Hank Hanegraaff being received into the Orthodox Church – Palm Sunday 2017

 

On 9 April 2017, Hank Hanegraaff – also known as the “Bible Answer Man” – was received into the Orthodox Church.  His conversion to Orthodoxy surprised many Evangelicals.  Some have reacted negatively.  The blog site Pulpit & Pen posted “The Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff, Leaves the Christian Faith?”  In the article, Jeff Maples wrote a very negative assessment:

The Orthodox Church is a false expression of Christianity, much like the Roman Catholic Church, that is highly driven by graven images and denies the biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone, and instead, trusts in meritorious works and a sacramental system for salvation. [Emphasis added.]

A “false expression of Christianity” – really??!!  But where are the facts to support his judgment?  My impression from reading Mr. Maples’ brief article is that he needs to write a longer article in which he presents the arguments and evidence for his harsh assessment of Orthodoxy.  Otherwise, he is just ranting and voicing unthinking prejudice.

Another negative but more tempered assessment can be found on the Reformed blog Triablogue’sHank Hanegraaff’s Promotion of Eastern Orthodoxy.”  Jason Engwer traces Mr. Hanegraaff’s gradual shift towards Orthodoxy through a detailed listing and notation of his podcasts comments.  Mr. Engwer is not happy with Mr. Hanegraaff’s recent conversion because: (1) Mr. Hanegraaff is not adhering to the fine points of Evangelical beliefs; (2) Mr. Engwer questions Orthodoxy’s claim to historic roots; and (3) Mr. Engwer believes that Evangelicalism is healthier than Orthodoxy.  Much of Jason Engwer’s beef against Orthodoxy is that it is not Protestant!  However, it is curious that Mr. Engwer did not raise the question whether Orthodoxy is biblical.  This ought to be the bottom-line question for any Evangelical.

Thoughtful Evangelicals should take the time to ask the following questions:

  • Is Protestantism the only valid expression of Christianity?
  • Does my salvation depend on my being Protestant?
  • What are the marks of genuine Christianity?
  • How do I know that my criteria for “genuine Christianity” are fair?

I recommend that Evangelicals read books like Peter Gillquist’s Becoming Orthodox, Robert Letham’s Through Western Eyes, and James Payton’s Light From the Christian East.  Fr. Gillquist writes from an Orthodox perspective, Letham and Payton from the perspective of sympathetic Protestants.  It is important to get the facts rather than to rush to judgment based on a hostile Protestant critique. I ask all readers to learn about Orthodoxy from seasoned, recognized Orthodox writers, not from hostile sources.

Many Evangelicals are probably wondering: “Why would someone who knows the Bible so well decide to become Orthodox?  Is Hank Hanegraaff still a Christian?”  The answer can be found in the words of Mr. Hanegraaff himself:

And I suppose over that period of time I have fallen ever more in love with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It’s sort of like my wife—I have never been more in love with my wife than I am today, and I’ve never been more in love with my Lord Jesus Christ than I am today. I’ve been impacted by the whole idea of knowing Jesus Christ, experiencing Jesus Christ, and partaking of the graces of Jesus Christ through the Eucharist or the Lord’s Table. And that has become so central in my life, but as far as the statement that you mentioned, that I’ve left the Christian faith—nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact I believe what I have always believed, as codified in the Nicene Creed, and as championed by mere Christianity.

After reciting the entire Nicene Creed, he concluded, “In other words, I am as deeply committed to championing mere Christianity and the essentials of the historic Christian faith, as I have ever been.”  [Source; Emphasis added.]

 

It is clear that Hank Hanegraaff’s continues to love Christ and the Bible, and that he cares deeply about Christ’s Church.  Many other Protestant and Evangelical converts to Orthodoxy have found this to be the case as well.  What we have found in Orthodoxy is a historically-grounded framework for understanding the Bible (i.e., Holy Tradition) and a reverent approach to worship (i.e., the Divine Liturgy).  In these times of upheaval and shifting doctrines, we have found safe haven in the Orthodox Church.

 

Is Orthodoxy Biblical?

Another related question a thoughtful Evangelical might ask would be: “Does conversion to Orthodoxy entail a weakened commitment to the authority and inspiration of Scripture?”  My answer to the question is that Orthodoxy is indeed biblical.  It may come as a surprise to some that what they think of as unbiblical, e.g., icons, Holy Tradition, and honoring Mary are indeed profoundly biblical. I certainly was surprised when I became open to other ways of reading the Bible. I have written a number of articles that have dealt with these topics.

I became Orthodox, not in spite of the Bible, but because of the Bible!  Orthodoxy is biblical Christianity without the Protestant add-ons.

 

Is Protestantism Biblical?

It may come as a shock to Evangelicals to discover that some of their core doctrines are based on a misreading of the Bible.  Evangelicals read the Bible diligently, but they read it with a particular slant.  It is this slant that causes them to misread the Bible.

For example, nowhere does the Bible teach “the Bible alone.”  There are numerous passages about the authority, inspiration, and truthfulness of Scripture, but there is nothing about the Bible as the sole source for faith and practice.  What the early Reformers did was to impose this axiom onto the Bible all the while ignoring passages that affirmed Holy Tradition.  Once the question popped in my head: “Where does the Bible say ‘the Bible alone’?” I was able to read Bible with an open mind and with surprising results.  It was like becoming aware that I was wearing glasses all the time and that the lenses were bending the light in a particular way.

Jason Engwer in the Reformed blog site Triablogue faults Hank Hanegraaff for affirming Scripture as “my rule of faith and practice” but not using the qualifier “alone.”  Could it be because the phrase “bible alone” is not found in the Bible? It is a Protestant add-on. Hank Hanegraaff has by no means watered down his commitment to Scripture and is in fact living up to his title “Bible Answer Man”!

Tabernacle in Exodus

Many Evangelicals are so used to coming to church on Sunday mornings and seeing four blank walls.  But if they were to read Exodus 26:31, 1 Kings 6:29-31, and 2 Chronicles 3:14 they would realize that the Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple were richly endowed with sacred images.  That so many pastors skip over these biblical passages reflect Protestantism’s hidden tradition that promotes a certain way of viewing the Bible.  The use of images in churches is an ancient practice that goes back to the catacombs and even has roots in Judaism.  Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to have four bare walls for our place of worship which raises the question which is more biblical: Orthodoxy with icons or Protestantism with bare walls?

In their reaction against Roman Catholicism, Protestant Reformers unwittingly threw the baby out with the bathwater.  With the novel doctrine sola scriptura, Protestantism became unmoored from the Church Fathers.  This resulted in Protestantism drifting from its roots in historic Christianity.  With the novel doctrine sola fidesalvation by grace alone through faith alone – Protestantism created a new doctrinal standard by which they could judge themselves to be “true Christians” and any who differed from them to be unsaved and lost.  The key defining element in early Christianity was Christology; the Protestant Reformers with sola fide created a new dogma with divisive consequences.

A thoughtful Evangelical must take into consideration the fact that none of the Church Fathers taught the Protestant dogma: salvation by grace alone through faith alone.  While there were several theories in the early Church about how Christ saves us, there was no one dominant theory. Among the early motifs were: Christ the Great Physician, Christ the Second Adam, Christ the Conquering King Victorious over Death. The early Church taught that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ; but no one taught salvation as a private experience independent of the sacraments or life in the Church. A sober and honest Protestant must ask himself: “How could the Holy Spirit fail to teach ANY of the Church Fathers this supposedly essential doctrine?” Nonetheless, the entire Church was united in the belief that Christ saves us by his death on the Cross and his third day Resurrection. This understanding of the Gospel is especially evident in the Orthodox sacrament of baptism, its Sunday worship service (the Liturgy), and especially in the Easter (Pascha) service.

 

Don’t Be Afraid!

How should Evangelicals and Protestants respond to Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion to Orthodoxy?  My answer is: With charity, curiosity, an open mind, and a willingness to learn about Orthodoxy.  My hope is that they do not succumb to fearful paranoia or unthinking prejudice.  Behind these negative reactions is fear.  We need to bear in mind the words of the angels: Be not afraid!

Jeff Maples sees Hank Hanegraaff’s conversion as indicative of Evangelicalism’s “dismal state.”  I agree with this assessment.  Many who became Orthodox were very much aware of the unsettled drift, fragmentation, and prideful individualism that pervade Evangelicalism and Protestantism. However, another way to look at it is to see it as the culmination of Evangelicalism’s strengths.  Among the recent Evangelical converts to Orthodoxy are pastors, seminarians, evangelists, missionaries, church elders, Sunday School teachers, and dedicated reliable lay people.  They represent the best of Evangelicalism!   Growing numbers of Evangelicals have become Orthodox, not because of a loss of faith in the Bible but rather from disenchantment with Protestantism’s hermeneutical chaos – one Bible but so many rival interpretations!  They take the Bible and truth seriously.  Many have been drawn by Orthodoxy’s reverent approach to worship.   We don’t know the full story of Hank Hanegraaff’s journey to Orthodoxy, but it is sure to be an interesting one!

 

Come And See!

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

It is providential that Hank Hanegraaff joined the Orthodox Church this past Palm Sunday.  This means that in a few days time, curious Protestants and Evangelicals will have the opportunity to visit Hank Hanegraaff’s new church on Easter Sunday.  Orthodox churches can be found all over.  Just use Google or Google Maps to find the nearest Orthodox parish.  They have the chance to witness the highpoint of Orthodox worship, Easter (Pascha).  Visitors should be aware that most Orthodox churches celebrate Easter on Saturday midnight.  If they come on Easter Sunday, instead of a worship service they may find themselves witnessing an Easter egg hunt or a church picnic.  But if you do attend the Pascha (Easter) service you will hear the joyous “Christ is Risen!” and the answering reply “He is Risen Indeed!”

Robert Arakaki

 

References

—-.  “’Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff Joins Orthodox Church.”  In Pravoslavie.  10 April 2017.

Jeff Maples.  “The Bible Answer Man, Hank Hanegraaff, Leaves the Christian Faith?” In Pulpit & Pen. 10 April 2017.

Jason Engwer.  “Hank Hanegraaff’s Promotion of Eastern Orthodoxy.”  In Triablogue.  8 April 2017.

Rod Dreher.  “Bible Answer Man Embraces Orthodoxy.”  11 April 2017.

—-.  “Hank Hanegraaff Converts to Orthodox Christianity.” In Finding the True Faith.  11 April 2017.

 

77 comments:

  1. Well, its kind of hard since lots of protestants are iconoclastic. On the other hand, some times the reverse happens in an orthodox country where people are brought up orthodox and are more culturally orthodox since every is orthodox similar to being a catholic in Italy or a protestant in the south. I think Mr Hangegraff was seraching for something different than the protestant faith since he thought of this a great deal and his more recent broadcast were heading in that direction of become Orthodox.

    1. Cynthia,

      You are right that it is hard for iconoclastic Protestants to accept icons. It was hard for me.

      Robert

      1. I studied iconography for a couple of years. When one delves deeply into the meaning behind the writing (not painting) of an icon and what icons are, it becomes much easier to understand and accept. They are not just works of art or badly, weirdly painted. They look that way for a reason. They are, as the orthodox will tell you, windows into heaven.

  2. I am ‘afraid’ – of that bottom candle light picture. Is it just me or is anyone else disturbed by it, especially if you enlarge it. You have all these crisp images of people’s faces, but then are these three very distorted ones. Maybe I’ve seen too many horror movies but that is the telltale iconic sign of demonic possession. Of course I jest, I’m sure they were just moving, but the stark contrast between the crisp and blurred faces is halting.

    1. Erik,

      This was among the better pictures I could find surfing the Internet. What you see as distortions, I saw the result of an amateur photographer. I know you are joking, so I’m not offended.

      Robert

  3. With regards to the Temple imagery, I don’t think it is fair to say that many Protestants skip over it. Within Baptists and Presbyterian churches I’ve personally heard, which is anecdotal of course as I’ve never done a broad survey, more than one sermon on the Temple decorations and what their symbolism represented or what they were meant to teach. The point is that the issues are not skipped over; it’s just that they have been theologically and liturgically dealt with amongst the Reformed and those that spring from that tradition. The argument was, as it is no longer consistently maintained, that Temple imagery, instrumentation, incense, dance, etc. were all tied to the animal sacrificial system. Once that system ended and was replaced by Christ, all the peripheral and ancillary stuff went by the wayside because the reality and object of the typologies had arrived. Of course those who did not originate from the Reformed camp, such as the Anglicans and Lutherans, have no problem here as they continued to maintain decorated churches. I myself fall into the Anglican school of thought here.
    Now this same argument can be flipped around on the EO, you can survey Old Testament and find many instances of drums and other instruments, along with holy dance circles being used to praise God or worship Him in the Temple. Why are these elements not present in any of the EO services if these examples from OT worship are to be our guide?

    1. Erik,

      Protestantism is a very broad and diverse phenomena. My experience in the Protestant circles I moved around in — Reformed and Baptist — pretty much omitted the passages I mentioned. I also spent some time among Episcopalians and Anglicans, but I did not hear any sermons about the biblical basis for images in churches. I suspect you moved in quite exceptional Protestant circles.

      I would have to take issue with your statement “all the peripheral stuff went by the wayside because the reality and object of typologies had arrived.” That can be right given the evidence of images in the catacombs and the Dura Europa church and synagogue. It was not until the Reformation, especially English Puritanism, that iconoclasm emerged in full force.

      You raised a good point about the Old Testament usage of musical instruments and the absence of these in Orthodoxy. I don’t know the historic roots for this. However, I can see benefits to the Orthodox non-instrumental approach to the Liturgy. First, musical instruments can lead to the exciting of the passions. There is an ascetic sobriety in Orthodox worship that shuns the emotionalism so often promoted in modern Evangelical worship. Second, musical instruments tend to be very culture specific. When I think of the Reformed tradition or Western high church music, I think of the organ. When I think of Lutheran worship, I think of Bach. When I think of contemporary Evangelical worship, I think of praise bands with electric guitars and drums. I once visited a charismatic Episcopal church and was shocked to hear loud rock music being played while the deacon was preparing the elements for the Eucharist. The point here is that so many of the Protestant forms of worship seem to have sacrificed the dimension of catholicity and have succumbed to particularity in time and place. So which Protestant tradition in your opinion best exemplified the use of musical instruments for Christian worship?

      One last point here. A similar non-instrumental approach can be found in the Coptic church which traces its origins to AD 54 when Mark the Evangelist came to Egypt. They use cymbals during their services. I thought they were using the cymbals in the sense you were suggesting, but the priest pointed out that the cymbals function to help the congregation keep time. This is similar to the way the Greek Orthodox parish I attend use a keyboard for the purpose of helping to choir find the right note. The point here is that the non-instrumental approach you are criticizing is not confined to Orthodoxy but reflected in another ancient Christian tradition as well. What is evident when one visits these churches is the antiquity and the stability of their forms of worship. There is no need to say: “Let’s worship like the way they did in the old days,” because the way we worship today is very much like how it was done back then!

      Robert

      1. “I would have to take issue with your statement “all the peripheral stuff went by the wayside because the reality and object of typologies had arrived.” That can be right given the evidence of images in the catacombs and the Dura Europa church and synagogue.”
        I should rephrase this; I just meant that in the Reformed argument:
        Theologically – the typologies have been replaced by the reality
        Liturgically – the typologies ‘should’ go by the wayside in order to return to what, in their opinion, is the type of original and spiritual worship exemplified by the NT
        Yes, as it regards history and even the inconsistencies within Reformed churches, this is a different discussion, and like I said I don’t agree with the Reformed conclusions anyway.

        “When I think of the Reformed tradition or Western high church music, I think of the organ.”
        I agree that the organ is associated with Western instruments in general, but with respect to the Continental and Scottish Reformed tradition you should think of no instrument. Originally, they were quite adamant about keeping instruments out of worship. Per Calvin, if you were going to play instruments in a church then you might as well burn incense and sacrifice a bull on the altar too, because instruments and all these others things, in his opinion, were directly tied to the Levitical sacrificial system. Of course opinions on this have changed in many Reformed churches.

        “So which Protestant tradition in your opinion best exemplified the use of musical instruments for Christian worship?”
        The ones that do not use any instruments, I say this because traditionally the undivided church taught against using instruments. Also, I argue that the Book of Revelation represents the true model for Christian worship and here only singing voices with no instruments are exemplified.

        “The point here is that the non-instrumental approach you are criticizing is not confined to Orthodoxy but reflected in another ancient Christian tradition as well.”
        I’m not trying to criticize the non-instrumental model; in fact it is the model I endorse. I don’t even disagree with your conclusions about images in churches; I just think that the OT is the wrong place to look for justification. I’m trying to point out the inconsistency of using the OT to criticize those that don’t use images in their churches, if on the flipside you belong to a church that doesn’t use instruments or dance circles that are also exemplified in the same place. For example, you are talking to a Calvinist and you open up to 2 Chronicles 3:14 and say “See, images were used in Temple worship, so this means that you should use images in your worship.” The Calvinist could then say “Well, if we turn a few pages to 2 Chronicles 29:25-28, we can see that God directed the use of musical instruments in worship, so this means you should be playing harps and blowing trumpets in your worship”.
        How are the two arguments any different? Actually, while the Calvinist is wrong for other reasons, he is being more consistent here. Break it down to a syllogism:
        Orthodox:
        – The OT exemplifies for us the use of images and instruments in worship
        – We should use the OT as a model for our worship
        – Therefore, we should use images but not instruments in our worship
        Calvinist:
        – The OT exemplifies for us the use of images and instruments in worship
        – We should not use the OT as a model for our worship
        – Therefore, we should not use images or instruments in our worship

        1. Erik,

          With respect to your last point, I would grant that the Calvinist syllogism is more consistent logically. However, the practical outworking of the Calvinist syllogism strikes me as incoherent and at times discordant. And, as you noted the Orthodox non-instrumental approach is in agreement with the historic undivided Church.

          Robert

          1. It seems both traditions hold strong views on icons. Perhaps the Reformed reject iconodules as idolaters more strongly than we Orthodox reject the iconoclasts as gnostic deniers of the incarnation, but I won’t split hairs on the rigor with which the positions are held. But when it comes to music, certainly we Orthodox seem to preclude musical instruments to a great degree, where I doubt the Reformed care whether instruments are used in worship too much these days (probably in practice always using them). Although, would the Orthodox Church consider them as acceptable parts of assessments of valid western liturgies?

  4. I hate the broad brushing of Protestantism since we confessional, creedal, liturgical bodies do not resemble in any way Evangelicalism as it today. As a conservative LCMS Lutheran I have icons in my home and use Lutheran prayer beads. We believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, in baptismal regeneration, cross ourselves, and genuflect. Of course, we are not seen as true Christians by the same folks throwing rocks at the Orthodox and Roman Catholics. I rejoice at Hank’s conversion as I think others should, as well. May God bless him on his journey.

    1. Dedra,

      Thank you for writing. Protestantism is very broad and diverse. Lutheranism, especially LCMS, is much closer to Orthodoxy than the low church Evangelical churches.

      Robert

      1. I was raised LCMS my whole life. I am now orthodox. My story is too long to tell here, but I was looking for the deep, scriptural, liturgical, Euchristic church of my childhood. I have found it in orthodoxy.

        1. Carla, I would love to hear your story, as I hope someday to hear Hanks! start a blog =) for Orthodox conversions… and post a link here! hopefully you have written it down, and if not, take this opportunity and encouragement to do so… God is so creative… For His glory and For His Kingdom!

  5. I have a question about one of Mr. Hanegraaff’s comments: “In fact I believe what I have always believed, as codified in the Nicene Creed, and as championed by mere Christianity.”

    This struck me as odd because he used to subscribe to a Hyper- or Full-Preterist view of eschatology. Does this mean that the Eastern Orthodox interpretation of the Nicene Creed, with respect to the Second Advent, is compatible with Full-Preterism?

    1. Or am I just wrong about him being a Full Preterist? I’ve seen conflicting information on that point so I apologize if that is not true. If he were a partial-preterist then I understand how that is within the bounds of the Creed.

    2. Maybe you should give him a call.

      From what I can see there’s not much out there about Orthodoxy and preterism.

      Robert

      1. Fair enough, you got me there. I guess I was just looking for the opinion of someone that might be a little more knowledgeable and experienced on the subject. After all, he’s still a newbie in the Orthodox world 🙂

    3. As he has in another post, perhaps he is merely trying to highlight those areas
      of unity with what CS Lewis called ‘mere-Christianity’. While Orthodoxy does
      lay claim to being the only Apostolic Church holding the Fullness of the Faith
      inherited from the Apostles…there are yet places, important if not critical
      places where Protestantism has not departed from and so we do overlap. We
      are so prone to highlight our difference only — we sometimes forget our areas
      of agreement. I believe a charitable reading leads us to this.
      david

    4. Hi, Erik – From what I understand, Hank Hanegraaff’s eschatological position would be characterized as “Partial Preterist” , not “Full or Hyper Preterist” .

      The Partial Preterist view does not deny a future coming of Jesus Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead , so one could hold the Partial Preterist interpretation that Christ’s Olivet discourse is primarily concerned with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. (ditto the Revelation of St. John) and still be Orthodox in affirming the Nicene Creed .

      My problem with his statement : “In fact I believe what I have always believed, as codified in the Nicene Creed, and as championed by mere Christianity.” (along with the earlier part of that statement that you didn’t quote: “I am now a member of an Orthodox Church, but nothing has changed in my faith.”) is that it just can’t be true if he has truly embraced Orthodoxy.

      How can he maintain that “nothing” has changed ? If he says his views now are what he has “always” believed as codified in the Nicene Creed , then we must ask: WHICH Nicene Creed is he referring to ? — does he mean the original Nicene Creed sans the filioque or the Western version of the Nicene Creed with the addition of the filioque ? If he still believes in the filioque (that the Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father AND the Son) then he is not professing the Orthodox faith . But if he now embraces the Orthodox Nicene Creed then , in fact, something has changed about his faith and his statement is contradictory. There is also the problem of saying that he will continue to champion mere Christianity as if he’s appealing to some sort of formally defined doctrinal position called Mere Christianity . I greatly appreciate the book “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis , it was a major influence on my return to the Christian faith , and I understand that Lewis was trying to avoid unnecessary controversy in that book (based on a series of radio talks given by Lewis) by emphasizing those “essentials” of the faith that all Christians would affirm , but at a certain point if one tries to stretch that idea too far it will bring one into conflict with the Orthodox understanding of the Church and what constitutes the “essentials” of the faith. If Hank Hanegraaff is trying to maintain that nothing at all has changed about his theological views and that what has really taken place is that he’s merely changed his “denominational” affiliation , then he hasn’t yet grasped what the Orthodox Church teaches or he’s prevaricating in an attempt to placate his Evangelical Protestant donor base.

      1. David,

        Glad to have you join the conversation! I heard Hank Hanegraaff reciting the Nicene Creed, and it was the version without the Filioque.

        I believe when Mr. Hanegraaff speaks of ‘mere Christianity’ he is attempting to be irenic instead of polemical and confrontational in his interactions with non-Orthodox.

        Robert

        Robert

  6. Thanks for this article Robert. Quick correction. “Light from the Christian East” is by James R Payton. You listed the author as James Payne. No big deal, since you provided a direct link to the book.

    Another book that first drew me to Orthodoxy that I wanted to throw out there is “Thirsting for God in a land of Shallow Wells”, by Matthew Gallatin.

    1. Thanks! Correction has been made. And, I agree that Matthew Gallatin’s book is an excellent choice.

      Robert

  7. Thank you for the thoughtful article. I was raised in the mid-west as LCMS (Lutheran). Spent more than five decades of my life as a Lutheran and having many Roman Catholic family and friends. I loved the liturgy and the Presence in the Eucharist. When our son tragically died in 2009, I almost lost my faith. Our church – (which was too vanilla to be called Lutheran) nor its pastors really helped me or our family. I was lost and hurting. I started on my own journey of reading and studying about the ancient church from its inception at Pentecost and to find Jesus Christ and how the church REALLY believed and practiced from the very start and are we far from it now? It led me to orthodoxy. I was chrismated last Pentecost and have been forever changed and blessed. I have Christ in my life, the healing of the Divine Liturgy and the Eucharist, and I found my son – in God’s arms. I have a peace and joy that had left my life.

    1. bless your heart Carla, so sorry to hear about your son… thanks for the short version of your testimony, would love to hear the long version, including how your son’s death caused you to almost lose your faith, the lack of support from the pastors, and also more specifically what you found in your research, what you read and studied, etc… I do believe God is working on re-uniting His Bride back into one camp, and I think this is one way He is doing it… I love the picture in Song of Songs 6:13 NKJV about the “dance of the two camps” and how He is bringing different camps together to dance together for the marriage supper of the Lamb… hope that makes sense…

  8. I was a protestant for over fifty years. Protestants have all kinds of misunderstandings about Orthodoxy. They often say to me that we worship Icons. They don’t understand the difference between worship offered to God and veneration made to religious imagery. But what Protestants miss is that they venerate images all the time. Baseball stars are icons. Movie stars are Icons. Rock stars ore icons. Imagery is all around us and we venerate all the time by giving our time and energy to those Icons. If you read the statistics on the percentage of men who go to church and also watch pornography on their computers one can only be alarmed at these numbers. Pornography is very powerful iconography and when you look at this form of Iconography you are venerating that which is unholy. You either venerate that which is holy and sacred or you venerate that which is apart from the sacred. But you will venerate something because all men will ultimately express devotion to something. All of life is sacramental. When Protestants reject Iconography they are misunderstanding the nature of the incarnation itself. Jesus is the primary Icon of worship simply because He is the image of the invisible God.

  9. I have been an Orthodox Christian for 12 years after having an evangelical past and graduating from a Southern Baptist seminary years ago. Our church has many people (at least a dozen) who have come into it from evangelical churches. The most frequent complaint I have heard from them about Protestantism is that so many denominations believe in “sola Scriptura,” but all interpret the Scriptures differently and have different and often conflicting doctrines. For example, you have Southern Baptists who believe in “once saved, always saved” and Free Will Baptists who don’t. Some believe in the gifts of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues, etc.) and others don’t. However, I am happy about my evangelical history and don’t feel I changed any basic beliefs about salvation. I have just embraced a fuller expression of Christianity.

  10. I really do think that American evangelicalism is on its way out of what would traditionally be described as small “o” orthodox Christianity. I would even say this about the militant Reformed movement in North America. They are moving further away, not closer to, traditional Christianity in practice and theology. The Reformed remain committed to digging their heals in on the errors of the reformation. Other evangelicals are already off the rails either theologically or liturgically or both. America was a grand experiment in Radical Protestantism. In other colonial countries you had the dominant state sponsored churches such as the Church of England or the RC Church to temper any radical movements away from traditional Christianity. This was not the case in the U.S., and many radical sects were allowed to flourish unchecked. Is it any wonder why many genuine believers there are seeking something more substantial and traditional?

    1. Simon, would you mind unpacking this if you have time: BOQ The Reformed remain committed to digging their heals in on the errors of the reformation EOQ…

      I was born, raised and still am reformed and struggle with a number of things… I would love to hear your perspective, insights because I have a list of what I call my “95 laments” over distortions, etc in the reformed tradition… however, as you might expect, these don’t go over well with the leaders and pretty much anyone in the reformed tradition… it’s not “safe” if you will to bring these laments/questions up in that context, and I pay a price when I do for various reasons (I don’t cater to ego, and so people’s pride gets poked and I’m the one who gets attacked in the response/reaction of them “kicking” their heels as they dig in) … not that that stops me, but sometimes I do feel very beaten up by others in the reformed tradition… so would appreciate your thoughts on what errors you are thinking about re the reformation… bless your heart.

      1. Berean,

        Just a note to let you know you are in my prayers. I know many in the same shoes as you. I know how difficult it can be. May God bless you abundantly as you struggle through this.

      2. berean, Thanks for your response. What I was trying to say in that quote is that the neo-Reformed movement in North America is committed to rejecting the orthodox ecclesiology, sacraments and even certain creedal articles and dogmas. Furthermore, they remain firmly entrenched on their views of justification. Ecclesiology and church governance is probably the most attested to truth held to and practised in Christendom. All ancient communions, whether they be RC, EO or OO hold to the basic form of the threefold ministry. Monasticism is also key to the life of the ancient communions. The Reformed vehemently reject bishops and priests as well as the monastic orders. There has been much written about the sacraments. In short, there is fundamental agreement across the ancient communions regarding the sacraments, even if the way each church explains them may differ. In terms of the Creeds and dogmas, the Reformed either reject completely Christ’s descent into hell or, like Calvin, redefine the doctrine so that it cannot refer to the same thing as the Patristic teaching. The Reformed also outright reject the 7th Council on images. They are also extremely uncomfortable with the title given to St Mary as the Mother of God. In fact, they flat out refuse to use this title for her even whilst daring to say they agree with the Ephesus Council. This, in my opinion, is tantamount to rejecting the fact that St Mary was indeed the Mother of God and hence committing the Christological errors that rejecting her title implies. These matters are serious. Not only do these matters indicate, in a black and white manner, that the Reformed stand outside the Church’s teachings in terms of dogma, they also indicate that the Reformed are so far removed from the mind of the Church. And this is far more important to my characterisation of the Reformed potentially being considered outside orthodoxy. The Puritans were the fathers of all forms Radical Protestantism and other American heresies. You look at a figure like John MacArthur. He embodies the totality of American errors – Calvinistic in his soteriology, free church in his ecclesiology, dispensationalist in his eschatology, Ana-Baptist on the sacraments and so on. It should be clear that this cannot be considered little “o” orthodox.

  11. Hi Robert,
    I have never heard of Hank Hanegraaff (I live in Australia) but I congratulate him and wish him all the best in his new spiritual home. He might not find the Orthodox Church the perfect church but he has obviously realised it is the true church! I’m sure he has made his decision after a long period of prayer and study.

    The thing that stands for me is that Hank Hanegraaff was someone respected in Protestant circles for his Bible knowledge. Protestants like to set up the dichotomy of either tradition or the Bible but his conversion flies in the face of this. He doesn’t have to give up a single Bible verse by converting.

    Jason Engwer at Triablogue has had a mini meltdown over this. Usually they get less than ten comments over a post but this one has over 100 and still going. I notice that many Orthodox brothers and sisters (many of them converts) have stepped forwarded to congratulate and defend Hank (as they have on your blog) and Engwer is very uncomfortable with this as it flies in the face of his concept of Orthodoxy being moribund. My impression is the guys at Triablogue don’t have a clue on what the Orthodox Church teaches as they come up with poor quality articles with poor quality arguments that supposedly disprove Orthodox teachings.

    It is interesting how quickly Triablogue commentators resort to secondary sources like citing Michael Kruger (on the canon) to defend their ‘Biblical’ doctrines. I think Peter Gillquist was right when he said to be Orthodox is to believe the Bible verses they don’t tell you to underline [in Protestant Bible studies].

    This is inspiring story for me. Thank you for sharing it.
    Christos Anesti

    1. I’d not heard of him either Stefano! I had read Walter Martin’s book Kingdom of
      Cults yrs before and understand Hank replaced him. I pray we can treat Hank, as we
      would have Hank treat us…with patience, grace and much prayer. He’s gonna need it!
      What we certainly want to avoid is falling into that tragic posture captured by the
      quip: “The Christian army of the Lord is the only army known in history to frequently kill their wounded.” Hank will endure many wounds. If he’s like us…some will be self-
      inflicted. Lord have mercy on us all.

  12. I just say, congratulations, Hank! And to be honest, only smart and pious Christians become Orthodox (That is why theological seminary professors find a great deal of difficulty to find the light of true Christianity! They are so smart that they verge on break downs and still don’t get it!). That is why Hank has jumped a difficult step. Congratulations again Hanks! He’s Risen!

  13. //I became Orthodox, not in spite of the Bible, but because of the Bible! Orthodoxy is biblical Christianity without the Protestant add-ons.//

    One problem here as I can see it. Justification. Orthodoxy as far as I can tell does not have a well developed position on justification and since I can open up my Bible and read Paul go on about it for quite some length, I see a disconnect. And what that seems to say to me is that Orthodoxy is concerned with what has developed in its traditions and if it falls outside of its traditions, that’s not important.

    //For example, nowhere does the Bible teach “the Bible alone.” There are numerous passages about the authority, inspiration, and truthfulness of Scripture, but there is nothing about the Bible as the sole source for faith and practice. What the early Reformers did was to impose this axiom onto the Bible all the while ignoring passages that affirmed Holy Tradition. Once the question popped in my head: “Where does the Bible say ‘the Bible alone’?” I was able to read Bible with an open mind and with surprising results. It was like becoming aware that I was wearing glasses all the time and that the lenses were bending the light in a particular way.//

    Mark 7 and 2 Timothy establish the principle of Sola Scriptura so you’re analysis here is wrong.

    1. Geoff,

      Regarding sola fide — Orthodoxy has a well developed Christology and the Trinity. This understanding emerged out of the early Christological and Trinitarian controversies. Granted that Orthodoxy does not have an elaborate soteriology, but then neither did the early Church Fathers. The Protestant Reformers created an elaborate understanding of justification but they paid a huge price — a doctrinal system divorced from the early patristic consensus. I recommend you read Alister McGrath’s Iustitia Dei which gives a historical over view of justification. The book will help you see doctrinal innovations behind the Protestant doctrine sola fide.

      Regarding sola scriptura — You cited Mark 7 and 2 Timothy but simplistic proof texting is not enough. Where’s the exegesis? Please read my “Biblical Basis for Holy Tradition.”

      Robert

      1. //Regarding sola fide — Orthodoxy has a well developed Christology and the Trinity. This understanding emerged out of the early Christological and Trinitarian controversies. Granted that Orthodoxy does not have an elaborate soteriology, but then neither did the early Church Fathers. The Protestant Reformers created an elaborate understanding of justification but they paid a huge price — a doctrinal system divorced from the early patristic consensus. I recommend you read Alister McGrath’s Iustitia Dei which gives a historical over view of justification. The book will help you see doctrinal innovations behind the Protestant doctrine sola fide.//

        I’m aware of Alister McGrath’s work. Your comment highlights a major problem with Orthodoxy. “The patristics didn’t have a consensus on it so we shouldn’t care about it”. Well, what if Scripture tackles it clearly? We should ignore it because it wasn’t clearly hashed out by the church fathers yet? Why? It seems really, really important to Paul in Galatians, but it shouldn’t be to us?

        //Regarding sola scriptura — You cited Mark 7 and 2 Timothy but simplistic proof texting is not enough. Where’s the exegesis? //

        Mark 7 shows Sola Scriptura in the following way: the Jews thought they had a tradition coming from Moses from God. That is the “tradition of the elders”. Jesus rebuked them because it contradicted Scripture.

        The common objection here is something like “their tradition was a bad man-made tradition ours is from God”. Well, they didn’t know that. You could be in the very same position they are. And if you think you have a real tradition from God, outside of Scripture, this is what you are going to do: the same thing as the Pharisees. You are going to harmonize the two actually conflicting things. “The Korban Rule is a valid exception to ‘honor your father and mother'”. That’s what will happen.

        But, the very fact that Jesus rebukes the Pharisees means they should have given the final authority to Scripture. Again, the Jews were in no position to know their “traditions of the elders” weren’t actually from God. Unless of course they should have been operating under “Sola Scriptura”.

        But, this one clearly contradicts Scripture… That becomes a lot less clear once you abandon Sola Scriptura.

        As to your article, you are pointing to texts referring to what was going on when the apostles were alive. They are long gone in this day and age and the only place we have their words infallibly is in Scripture. Your entire argument was undercut by Irenaeus.

        “We have learned from none others the plan of our salvation, than from those through whom the Gospel has come down to us, which they did at one time proclaim in public, and, at a later period, by the will of God, handed down to us in the Scriptures, to be the ground and pillar of our faith.” Against Heresies 3.1.1

        What was once publicly proclaimed is now in Scripture. “Handed down” is literally “traditioned”. What is traditioned to us is Scriptures. The old oral message is coextensive with the Scriptures.

        1. Geoff,

          My response to you has become longer than I had expected. In light of that I am responding in two separate comments. This is for the convenience of you and other readers.

          Robert

          Response to Geoff #1

          Regarding justification by faith – What happened in the Protestant Reformation was the emergence of an elaborate soteriology alien to the patristic consensus and which was then turned into a dogma, i.e., a fundamental doctrine without which one could not be considered a Christian. The problem here is that certain minor points in doctrine were elevated to dogma leading to a distortion of the Christian Faith. For example, in the past few days I have read blog postings by Protestants who have declared if you do not affirm salvation “by grace alone through faith alone,” you are not a Christian. If one has a deviant Christology then that judgment is understandable, but to use Protestantism’s theological novelty raises concerns that must be addressed.

          Protestant attempts to be biblical resulted in elaborate systems like the Reformed tradition’s double predestination, the Dispensationalists elaborate pre-millennial eschatology, and Pentecostalism’s focus on the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. When I was an Evangelical I immersed myself in the literature and took copious bible notes until I gave up in frustration. I used to have an elaborate Dispensationalist eschatology, but now I’m content with Orthodoxy’s straightforward affirmation: “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, his kingdom shall have no end.”

          The Orthodox Church does affirm justification by faith. Every year on certain Sundays I will hear Paul’s teaching on justification by faith in the readings from Romans and Galatians. Furthermore, in the sacrament of baptism the Orthodox Church teaches justification by faith, being reborn, being sanctified, and Christ the Victor over Satan, sin, and death. There’s a richness in Orthodox soteriology that contrasts with Protestantism’s fixation on justification and forensic righteousness.

          Did Paul make a big deal about justification by faith? The answer is: Yes, but we need to understand the context of the debate. The debate in Paul’s time was whether the Mosaic covenant confined to the Jews was still in effect or whether Jesus had inaugurated a new covenant that was open to Jews and Gentiles. In this context “works of the Law” referred to adherence to the Jewish Torah. This approach implied that one could be circumcised without undergoing baptism, and that one could keep the Jewish Passover without participating in the Eucharist. If the Old Testament kosher regulations were still valid, then a rift would be introduced into the Church. In other words, Old Testament Israel had been superseded by the New Israel, the Church. Paul’s opponents, the Judaizers, were not obsessed with gaining merit to avoid time in purgatory; this is the fallacy of historical anachronism. To use an analogy from American politics, it would be like wanting to adhere to the Articles of Confederation and carry out economic transactions using Continental dollar instead of following the Constitution of 1789 and using the US dollar backed by the current US government.

          What Protestantism has done is to reframe Paul’s letters in the context of Medieval European society where one lived in fear of violating the moral code of Medieval Christianity and where merit was introduced into Medieval Catholic soteriology. It made justification by faith the central axis of the New Testament; when I became Orthodox the focus shifted to the Person of Christ and justification as one facet of the many ways Christ saves us. When I began to read the New Testament in light of the old versus new covenant, I began to see a common theme linking Paul’s letters to Jesus’ sayings in the Gospels and to the book of Hebrews.

          Let me say this so you won’t mistake Orthodoxy for Roman Catholicism. We do not believe that one can earn one’s salvation. We do not talk about merit. We do not talk about mortal versus venial sins. We believe that good works arise from faith in Christ. On that basis, good works are necessary for salvation just as breathing in and out is necessary for our being alive. The two are integrally related. If one has faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, one’s life will be transformed. The Christian life begins with an act of faith in Christ and continues through a constant day in and day out discipleship. There can be no Christian discipleship without faith in Christ; neither can there be faith in Christ without discipleship. Protestantism’s insistence on pure faith has led to all sorts practical and theoretical problems.

          1. Geoff,

            Robert’s answer below is excellent…but you’d be well served reading his Four-Pt on Sola Scripture. There are also several other articles on Justification here you would profit from. I pray you will stick around and continue reading…so you understand well what and why Orthodoxy really IS and teaches…and Why! God bless

          2. Thank you David.

            Geoff, the articles David mentioned can be found in the blog’s Archives. Please stick around and continue to engage us.

            Robert

        2. Response to Geoff #2

          Regarding sola scriptura – Let me make clear that Orthodoxy does not see Scripture and Tradition as two separate entities. Actually, it is impossible even to separate Scripture from any small “t” tradition. We view them as integral to each other. For example, when you read the Bible you are reading it through the hermeneutical lens of the Reformed tradition if you are Reformed, or the Baptist tradition if you are Baptist, or the Pentecostal tradition if you are Pentecostal. So let me ask you: What is your religious tradition? That is, what church are you currently attending? I would be very surprised if the beliefs you hold are independent of your church’s. Given the inextricability of tradition from our understanding of Scripture, it is imperative then that we understand Scripture in light of capital “T” Tradition. You seem to believe that this connection has been lost, but Orthodoxy believes this connection has been preserved over the past two thousand years via the succession of bishops. Irenaeus of Lyons whom you mentioned wrote of apostolic succession through the bishops.

          In Mark 7, Jesus is criticizing the Pharisees for holding a manmade tradition that undermined the intent of the Torah. As the Messiah, Jesus is giving an authoritative corrective to the tradition of the Pharisees. If one wants to assert Sola Scriptura from Mark 7, then one will end up arguing for the sufficiency of the Torah, in effect implying that the New Testament is optional. The only way to avoid that conundrum is focus on Jesus’ messianic authority which served as the culmination of the Old Testament Torah and the basis for the New Testament Apostolic Tradition, both written and oral, passed on via the Apostles to their successors.

          I’m happy to see you quoting Irenaeus. He’s a favorite Church Father of mine. It’s good that you quoted from Against Heresies 3.1.1, but you should have gone on to the next section and quote from Against Heresies 3.2.1-2 as well. In this passage we see Irenaeus appealing both to Scripture and Tradition against the Gnostic heretics. In Against Heresies 3.2.2 we read:

          But, again, when we refer them [the Gnostics] to that tradition which originates from the apostles, [and] which is preserved by means of the successions of the presbyters in the Churches, they object to tradition . . . .

          He concludes the section with:

          It comes to this, therefore, that these men do now consent neither to Scripture nor to tradition.

          Here Irenaeus appeals, not to Scripture alone, but to Scripture and Tradition. In 3.2.2 we learn that Irenaeus understood Tradition to have been preserved through apostolic succession. Orthodoxy’s claim to apostolic succession, that is, the link of one bishop succeeding another bishop, finds support in Eusebius’ Church History. Eusebius records the various apostolic successions up to the fourth century. The Orthodox patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem trace their episcopal succession back to the Apostles. Apostolic succession guarantees that what we call Tradition originated with Jesus Christ who taught the Apostles, and not the mere tradition of men.

          Irenaeus’ affirmation of Tradition can be seen be seen in Against Heresies 1.10.2:

          2. As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth. For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same.

          Here we see Irenaeus referring to Tradition and to the traditioning process (received, handed down). He is appealing to Apostolic Tradition which includes Scripture. Nowhere do we find him invoking Scripture Alone.

          That Irenaeus did not hold to Sola Scriptura can be seen in Against Heresies 4.33.8 which reads.

          8. True knowledge is [that which consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither receiving addition nor [suffering] curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of love which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God].

          Let me close with two examples of Irenaeus’ understanding of Tradition that runs contrary to modern day Evangelicalism: the belief in the real presence of Christ’s body and blood in the Eucharist (Against Heresies 4.18.5). This point to the historic Christian understanding of the Lord’s Supper. That so many Evangelicals hold to a purely symbolic understanding of the Lord’s Supper points to their tragic break from historic Christianity. This shows how oral Apostolic Tradition complements written Tradition (the Bible). Sola Scriptura has no hermeneutical guidelines on the meaning of Christ’s words of institution in the Upper Room leading to the split between Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli at the Marburg Colloquy in 1529. The Bible cannot stand alone but must be understood within the context of the Church founded by Christ Himself (Acts 8:31, Matthew 16:18).

  14. After Mr. Hannegraafs conversion I decided to find out what it was EO believed. I’ve been in a spiritual rut for a bit and thought “Maybe this is what I need.” Unfortunately I was disappointed. Your salvation is not by grace but grace + works. And for me the stickler is how you view Mary. Pretty much the same way as the Roman Catholic church. Now from Matthew 1:24-25 we know that Mary was not a virgin her whole life. I admit that is a huge doctrinal mistake and it was one I probably could have worked around. However the doctrine that she never sinned is one that I can’t. She was a sinner in need of a savior just like everyone else. I’m not sure it rises to the level of heresy but it kisses it. Paul writes in Romans “There is none righteous not even one.” Your church is intriguing but your error is too great to overlook.

    1. Your difficulties are not all that unusual. Many Protestant inquirers have reacted as you did. Having studied at a Reformed Protestant seminary I had to struggle with a number of theological issues. What helped was having an open mind. I recommend you read Peter Gillquist’s Becoming Orthodox. At one time he worked for Campus Crusade for Christ and studied at Dallas Theological Seminary. In the book he explained how he and others changed their mind on the issues that bothers you. Don’t give up too easily. Persevere a little.

      Robert

    2. Aloha, John Epperson! I love your last name. When I was in college four decades ago, my favorite professor was Dr. William Epperson.

      I know how you feel about Mary because I used to feel the same way about her, but then my exposure to the Roman Catholic doctrine helped me to come to appreciate her, and now the Orthodox doctrine makes even more sense.

      As they sometimes say when you’re asking for driving directions in Maine, “Ya cahn’t get theah from heah.” As long as an evangelical Protestant insists that the Bible is the ONLY source for Christian dogma, then he will not be able to arrive at the ancient Church’s understanding of the blessèd Theotokos, Mary, Mother of our God. He must dig in deeper and wider, fathoming the writings of Sacred Tradition. As John Henry Newman said, “To read history is to cease being Protestant.”

      As a Protestant, you must, I am sure, believe in the Chalcedonian doctrine of the two natures of Christ: divine and human. When the eternal Word/Logos of God condescended to take upon himself this mortal flesh, he became incarnate of the Holy Spirit AND the Virgin Mary. Since the Spirit is ethereal, we can see that the only source for Christ’s human nature was the Virgin Mary, the Mother of our God. That is a pretty straightforward proposition, isn’t it?

      Now, regarding Mary’s perpetual virginity, Tradition teaches that she was a pure virgin and a pious Jewess devoted to prayer before her betrothal to Joseph, and that she never had conjugal relations with Joseph before or after the birth of Jesus. It would not have been good form to lend the same womb that had conceived and born the Incarnate Word to a mere man, as righteous as Joseph may have been. Matthew 1:24-25 vouches only for abstinence from a consummating act during the time of Mary’s pregnancy with Jesus. As long as she was pregnant, she and Joseph did not have sexual intercourse. However, the use in that same verse of the preposition “until” does not necessarily imply that, now that Jesus was out and about, she and Joseph consummated their marriage AFTER she was delivered of child. Tradition has it that they did not.

      This righteous conduct on the part of Mary lends itself to the proposition that Mary never sinned, and that, as a matter of fact, she herself had been conceived immaculately in the womb of her own mother Ann. A rationalistic system of theology like that of the Roman Church is eager to make such an absolute statement. However, Orthodoxy is different. We don’t believe in original sin. There is an ancestral proclivity to sin, to be sure, but none of us is responsible for the sin of Adam. That was his and Eve’s business before God their judge. There is no need to wash that supposed original sin away in the cleansing waters of baptism. We are responsible for our own sins, committed by ourselves, and no one else’s sin, even that of our first ancestors. So, there is no need for a dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception, since she was not responsible for Adam and Eve’s sin either.

      Another and last point that I would like to make is that we may never know whether Mary sinned or did not sin during her lifetime. It’s actually none of our business, as that matter is between her and God. What is indeed of paramount importance is whether she was a pure vessel to receive God’s seed and bear God’s Son. The tradition of the Church teaches that she was most unequivocally that, and I think the Church, which is the pillar and ground of the truth (I Timothy 3:15) has the authority to make that claim.

      You might want to read the short, first part of the Protoevangelium of St. James for your reference.

      Chip

    3. Hi, John-

      Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

      The Protestant objections to the ever-virginity of Mary are a recent innovation. The actual Reformers, Luther, Calvin, Zwingli actually defended the doctrine.

      https://churchpop.com/2016/06/26/4-protestant-leaders-defended-perpetual-virginity-mary/

      I am an Orthodox Christian who came from a charismatic evangelical church background and I had many of the same objections you have. There are many articles which address the concerns you have. I pray you would persevere in your exploration of Orthodoxy. For me, becoming Orthodox was a homecoming to the fullness of the Christian faith and I’ve never had one regret, except perhaps not finding it sooner rather than later.

      The peace of Christ be with you!

  15. Hello Chip,

    Believe it or not I had an Uncle Bill but trust me he was no university professor. One of the things that intrigues me about the Orthodox Church is its history. I am a huge lover of history and your church has a lot of it. Evangelical history is relatively short and basically limited to the US and Britain.
    The early church fathers are the ones who gave us the Bible and determined which writings were God inspired and which where not. So while I acknowledge learning Christianity from books other than the Bible (I read Christian literature all the time) I read it with an eye to seeing how it squares with Scripture. Simply put, if it contradicts the Bible I have a problem with it. And the doctrine of Mary has at least two errors in it (I don’t know if Orthodox believes in the Assumption of Mary or not or if she died like everyone else). The most reasonable interpretation of Matthew 1:24-25 is after Jesus was born Mary and Joseph had a normal husband wife relationship. I am a gym rat. If I tell you “yesterday I didn’t eat until after I worked out” you would quite properly assume “after John worked out he ate.” Similarly if Scripture says “Joseph didn’t know Mary until after Jesus was born” the most obvious interpretation is after Jesus was born Joseph knew Mary. This is also backed up by Matthew 12:46 and 13:56. Where did all those brothers and sisters come from? This is not a huge doctrinal issue but it’s there nonetheless.
    The doctrine of Mary’s being sinless is another matter. Paul tells us in Romans 3:10, “There is none righteous, no not one.” And further on in 3:23 he says “for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That one I have a little more trouble with and one could arguably state you were equating Mary with God.
    I have another axe to grind with you Orthodox folks. It seems like what you are basically
    engaging in is what we in the Protestant world call “sheep stealing”. You are getting people to convert who you think (based on what I’ve read) are already saved. Where is your outreach to the prostitute? The drug addict or alcoholic? Where is your reasoning with the atheist? I live in So Cal and we have the Union Rescue Mission and Los Angeles Mission, both Protestant. In addition both Goodwill and the Salvation Army are Protestant. In addition many evangelicals (David Wood, Josh McDowell) regularly visit college campuses and debate atheists on God’s existence. This is in addition the countless other outreach ministries (Red Cross and others) that exist in the evangelical world. James says he will show you his faith by his works. Well there you have it.
    Slavery existed throughout the world until a Protestant by the name of William Clarkson denounced it and the abolitionist movement was launched. In America evangelicals were the tip of the spear in the Underground Railroad. This helped lead to the abolition of slavery. I could go on but I think you get my point.
    It is hard not to see the hand of Providence on Protestant countries. The countries that are historical richer countries are by and large Protestant countries. Orthodox and Catholic not so much. Russia during the reign of the czar would be a good example of a poor Orthodox country. America, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland are all rich historically Protestant countries. South Korea embraced the Gospel and is also now a rich country. This in my opinion is evidence of God’s blessing on these countries. Protestant countries have historically had much higher literacy rates than Orthodox and Catholic countries. This is because we wanted to make sure the individual could read the Bible for himself. Orthodox and Catholic are very much top down religions. All the great Universities of the Western world were Protestant at their outset. Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale and Princeton are good examples. Many great scientists were Protestant, Isaac Newton (considered by many to be the greatest scientist of all time) among them.
    I could go on but I think you get my point. The evidence of Protestants truth, and the fruits of it’s believers I think is very strong.

    1. John,
      Predominantly Orthodox countries such as Russia, Greece, Serbia, etc. were under extreme subjugation by hostile governments- the communists, Ottoman Turks- and the Orthodox Church and her people were doing all they could just to survive. Under such dire circumstances it’s a miracle that the Orthodox Church continued to exist in those countries, which is a testament to the steadfast faithfulness of her people. And as we see in Syria and Egypt, regions within the cradle of Orthodoxy, it is once again Orthodox Christians who are suffering under severe persecution.

      Orthodoxy is really in its infancy here in the USA, but it is growing. There are many charitable Orthodox organizations that you wouldn’t know about simply because the numbers are small relative to those of Protestant ones. There’s FOCUS -Fellowship of Orthodox Christians United to Serve, OCMC- Orthodox Christian Mission Center, OCPM- Orthodox Christian Prison Ministry, just to name a few.

      Wealth and prosperity are not good indicators of a spiritually sound people. If that were the case, then the USA should be a pillar of virtue among the nations. Don’t get me wrong, the US is head and shoulders above totalitarian regimes like North Korea and there’s no other place I’d rather live, but the US is home to many social ills, such as rampant porn and drug use, sexual deviancy, divorce, legal abortion, etc.
      The peoples of many African countries live in abject poverty and squalor, but they’re spiritual giants when compared and contrasted to those of us in the West who live in relative ease.

      The exodus of people from Protestantism is more a casualty of the theological chaos within that milieu rather than a concerted effort of Orthodox Christians to “steal sheep.” People are searching for something of substance and depth and find modern Protestant churches seriously lacking in both.

      1. Lorinda it’s more like a trickle not an exodus I think. But yes evangelical churches are getting kind of stale (a lot of them anyway). But I’m wondering where the problem is. Is it the church or is it me?

        1. John, I wouldn’t presume to answer your question, “Is it the church or is it me?” All I can tell you is within Orthodoxy, I have found the cure to the worldliness and besetting sins that choked me. One of the most ancient names for Christianity is simply, “The Way” (Acts 19:23) and this way- the praxis, the doctrines, the very life of the Spirit- is what has been faithfully handed down from generation to generation from the Apostles to today in the Orthodox Church.
          There are so many resources to recommend, but a great one that I use daily is Ancient Faith Radio (ancientfaith.com). I’m in my car so much, I love being able to listen to the many podcasts that further inform my faith and encourage me in my walk with Christ. A good podcast to start with is Deacon Michael Hyatt’s, “At the Intersection of East and West.” Dn. Michael Hyatt was/is the President of Thomas Nelson publishers, one of the largest Christian publishing companies in the US. His series on Scripture and Tradition is great for tackling the preliminary questions most Protestants have..

          Wherever your journey takes you, may you be blessed with the peace that surpasses all understanding.

          In Christ,
          Lorinda

      2. Certainly in the Soviet Union the Orthodox Church but under Czarist Russia it was the state religion. Czar Nicholas himself was Russian Orthodox. So there was no persecution of the church then. And yes being has never been in Muslim majority countries.

    2. Oh, boy! This is going to take some doing to respond to your response to mine! I’m not sure that I am up to it, as I am just a recently-minted catechumen with a l-o-n-g history of being a Protestant like you, John. I did spend 28 years as a seminary-trained ordained minister, though. In any case, here goes in order, point by point to your points……

      The Church catholic reaches back in time to our Lord Jesus’ incarnation and the advent of the Holy Spirit. It reaches forward through the centuries and into eternity future and includes all of the faithful departed as well as us ourselves, members of the militant Church. As you say, the church fathers gave the Church the Bible, determining which books would make the cut for the canon by A.D. 400. The Church came first, then came the Bible. That is an important distinction that you have made.

      On the other hand, the Bible is authoritative in all things doctrinal and moral, and no teaching of the Church should contradict the whole counsel of God found in the Bible. The interpretation of the Bible, however, is not the pervue of the individual believer. Gutenberg printed the Bible in the same year that Columbus discovered America, and equipped the rebellious reformers and their wealthier followers with their own personal copies of the scriptures. Nowadays, every man and his brother has not one, but several copies of the Bible on his bookshelf. The current-day evangelical will take his personal copy of the Bible and make up his own mind as to what it says and how it applies to his life and to that of a myriad other things. The Orthodox or Catholic Christian, however, is not as likely as the Protestant to be reading the Bible for himself, but when he does so, he is more likely to read it in the context of the Faith of the Church of which he is a member — that same Church that reaches back 2,000 years in time, covers the world and looks upward to the heavens. That is due to the fact that it was the Church herself that gave us the Bible, so the Church takes precedence over the Bible and has the authority to interpret it by the light given to its Fathers over the centuries and those in authority who have leadership today.

      Well, John, there you have a first installment from and Orthodox perspective. More to follow, if you are still interested.

    3. John,

      Like Robert, I’d like to encourage you and applaud you for engaging with Orthodox Christianity. Wherever it may lead you, I pray that God blesses you as you seek Him. Many of us have had the same issues as you as we approached the Orthodox Christian faith and can identify with your issues. Many of us were as convinced as you of the “error” of Orthodox Christianity. At one time I myself bristled at Orthodox Christianity, and was probably much more critical of it than you. However, in time many of us have been presented answers to these objections – so strong – that even the most reticent critics (like myself) have been humbled and awed by the Holy Spirit. I myself came to Orthodoxy “kicking and screaming,” hurling abusive accusations which, in the end, do not stand up to scrutiny. Many of us studied and graduated from Evangelical or Reformed Seminaries and are well versed in (and were once as dedicated to) the Protestant hermeneutic as you currently are. It is a difficult process to engage with Eastern Christianity and Church History before the Reformation because one quickly discovers that there has been an “amputation” in which Evangelical Christianity has moved forward with its own “new” traditions and self congratulatory rhetoric and cannot find in Orthodoxy a recognizable form of Christianity. It is a difficult bridge to study, articulate and understand – but with Christ all things are possible!

      Rather than writing a long rebuttal to all of your objections, I thought I’d take a moment to cover just a couple of points that are worth noting , and invite you to contact me via email (Robert will pass along my email.) to discuss. I am currently doing some work in Afghanistan and could use a “pen-pal.” 🙂

      Firstly, to your objections about the Evangelical witness of Orthodoxy. Basically, your objection reads like this; Orthodoxy does not witness to the Gospel in the same manner that Evangelicalism does, and is therefore somehow inferior to Evangelicalism in its witness. You then laud Evangelical exploits in this regard as “fruits” while inferring that Orthodoxy has none – or limited “fruits” in comparison. (since you don’t see the outreach in the same way Evangelicals do it). Yet, I would remind you of the admonition of Christ in Matthew 6:1-2.

      “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

      You ask things like; “Where is your outreach to the prostitute? The drug addict or alcoholic? Where is your reasoning with the atheist?” I would suggest that Orthodox Chistianity has a consistent and wide reaching witness in this regard which shines like a true light of Christian faith, but for two things; 1) The witness of Orthodoxy is seen as “foolishness” to most of the world, and; 2) rather than bandy it about in a self-righteous manner to be seen and praised by others, within the Orthodox faith it is done quietly, patiently and with much suffering, as Christ and the Apostles indicate is meet of a Christian witness – as a light in the darkness. In short, Orthodoxy believes and practices not letting its “left hand know what its right hand is doing.” I invite you to email me so that I can present the Orthodox case to you in detail privately. Publicly praising the specifics of Orthodoxy here is not – in my own opinion – particularly in line with the tenets of Christian faith. I would hope that for the sake of your own understanding and seeking, you would email me so that I can present the facts (and actual statistics from Evangelical sources) to you. No one wants to make a case that is founded on poor information.

      It seems double minded that you would first accuse Orthodoxy of “works righteousness” but then would say Orthodox don’t do enough Evangelical“works and have no fruit to show. You quote James saying; he will show you his faith by his works, while denying works as part of faith; you deny the very premise of his statements and the Spirit in which he makes them in order to offer a polemnic against Orthodox Christianity. If given the opportunity, I believe I can show you that these suppositions of yours are in error.

      Perhaps Orthodox don’t laud their evangelical exploits in the way Protestants do because they don’t boast in their works, since no work given to a Christian by the grace of God is his/her own – but a gift of grace given to them in which they walk. Perhaps there is more to the story than you are aware of. Perhaps your metric is one which does not incorporate a familiarity with Orthodox history. I can tell you quite plainly; the witness of Orthodoxy is stronger than you are aware; (or than I was aware of) but it seems you measure it by a standard you accept and value – loud, visible, aggressive, Perhaps you don’t know where to go to delve into the truth of the matter. The Orthodox witness you don’t know about is precisely “hidden” because its not bandied about “to be seen by men,” and because it is foolishness to the world.

      There are many aspects of Orthodox faith life that it is natural to see a Protestant be critical of. This is not and should not be surprising, and since many of us have struggled with these issues in the same way you have, we can identify. However, the bulk of your post here betrays a great deal of innocent ignorance of the history of the Orthodox faith and its extensive Evangelical witness, and I hope you will allow me the pleasure of private correspondence to show you that your accusations are in error.

      May God bless and keep you.
      Onesimus

      1. Not sure how to respond to some of this. Works such as helping the drug addict and prostitute are difficult to do in private. I am certain they are not being done to be seen by men but being done in service to God and to maybe bring them to Christ. They do not do them to obtain salvation but as evidence of saving faith. James said in James 2 I will show my faith by my works. He is no way saying his works are saving him, just they are evidence of his salvation. A person who is born again should have a life that shows some evidence of saving faith. If there is none he needs to take a hard long look in the mirror and figure out what’s wrong.
        If you hide your witness that means nobody can see it. That seems strange.

        1. John,
          It appears based on your response that you “axe to grind” is with Christ and not the Orthodox.

          Let me be plain – The Orthodox witness (martyria) is a witness in blood as well as a social witness. Your contention that one cannot help others (prostitutes, drug addicts, homeless, etc.) in a humble and quiet manner without boasting is false. We do it and have done it…but we don’t market, sell, and boast in it.

          I’ve already invited you to email me, but for the interest of truth – and your own enlightenment; here is the witness that Orthodoxy gives the world.

          It suffers with Christ – Romans 8:7, 2 Tim 2:12.

          Over the last 100 years several Orthodox genocides have occurred – but most Westerners turn a blind eye – because Orthodox Christians “aren’t really Christians.” In fact, for the most part, (with some wonderful notable exceptions) Western Christians, and particularly Protestants, have assisted those who persecute the Orthodox Church overtly. Most Western Christians won’t accept that people dying for their faith is a witness. You flippantly ask where the Orthodox witness to the Atheist is – and bandy about staged debates by scholars as Atheistic outreach. Meanwhile for over 70 years orthodox Christians witnessed to the Atheists of the Communist regimes with their lives, refusing to give up their faith. For nearly 1400 years we have languished under the yolk of Islam, witnessing to them. For 1000 years we have been subjugated by the Western Christian world, both RCC and Protestant alike. In might do you well to do some homework on the programmes against the Orthodox by the USSR and other communist states, the Ottoman genocides of Orthodox Christians, the witness of the Orthodox in Syrian, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and all the middle east. What do you know of the Armenian Genocide? The Greek Genocide? The persecution of all Orthodox in every land they’ve ever been? And what did Protestants do in the face of all this? Sent missionaries to steal sheep because the Orthodox are a “false expression of Christianity.” The hatred of the Orthodox faith and the desire to get rid of it comes from every corner.

          But Lets actually talk numbers about the witness of the Orthodox and compare them to the witness of Protestants.

          According to the Evangelical Publication, World Christian Trends, AD 30-AD 2200: Interpreting the Annual …, Volume 1 byBy David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, her are the numbers they’ve assessed; (though we say they are higher, and these numbers do not lump the OO and COE with the EO.)

          Total number of Christian martyrs since 33 AD = 69.4 Million

          Martyrs in the 20th Century = 45.4 Million

          Orthodox Martyrs = 41.3 Million

          So let’s actually look at this. The last 100 years have accounted for the most severe persecution the church has ever faced numerically – with over 45.4 million Christian martyrs – 41.3 who have been Orthodox. As a percentage of witnesses – 65% of all Christians killed have been killed in the last 100 years alone – with 90% of those Orthodox martyrs, who have witnessed to Christ by their own death – sharing in His death – suffering with Him.

          For comparison, in the last 1000 years of Roman Catholic history there have been 11 million RCC martyrs, and in the history of Protestantism there have been 3.17 martyrs. In 100 years, there have been 41 million Orthodox martyrs.

          In the US, less that .06 percent of the population is Orthodox. The only lower statistic belongs to Hindus. Your problem here seems not to be with Orthodoxy and its witness – as it has to do with your own ignorance of history outside your own paradigm – and the fact that you want Orthodox evangelism to mirror Protestantism.

          None of this makes the Orthodox superior. None of this is to be boasted in. This is life in Christ – being blessed to suffer and be a witness with Him. This is your calling too. But the Orthodox have been doing it consistently and visibily for far longer than you are aware. Discount this witness all you like…but it is the consistent witness the Orthodox faith has given for 2000 years – suffering with, being crucified with, and witnessing to Christ. Yes, Orthodoxy does social outreach too. But we’ve been a bit preoccupied with another kind of witness as well.

          If people don’t see our witness – its because they’re closing their eyes to it – aren’t taught about it and for the most part celebrating (and/or helping) to kill us off – while simultaneously demanding we do more to look like American Protestants whose paradigm has not been the suffering of the Orthodox.

          1. Onesimus,

            Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

            My faith is strengthened whenever I read or hear of the many stories of our martyred and persecuted brethren. Have you ever read FATHER ARSENY? It was life-changing for me.

            Have you seen this? The response of this woman is supernatural. That’s the only explanation.

            In Christ,
            Lorinda

          2. Lorinda,

            Indeed He is Risen!
            I grew up with the whole idea of the “Protestant work ethic” and the “blessings of God” being part of His Providence, not unlike John.

            When I first encountered Orthodoxy I knew nothing of its witness. But that ignorance is a self-induced one. Anyone who seeks will find.

            As a Reformed Christian, I most certainly – ascribing to the theology of God’s Providential blessing towards the West, did not accept the words of Christ;

            “Then looking up at His disciples, He said:

            You who are poor are blessed,
            because the kingdom of God is yours.
            You who are now hungry are blessed,
            because you will be filled.
            You who now weep are blessed,
            because you will laugh.
            You are blessed when people hate you,
            when they exclude you, insult you,
            and slander your name as evil
            because of the Son of Man.

            “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! Take note — your reward is great in heaven, for this is the way their ancestors used to treat the prophets.

            Woe to the Self-Satisfied

            But woe to you who are rich,
            for you have received your comfort.
            Woe to you who are now full,
            for you will be hungry.
            Woe to you who are now laughing,
            for you will mourn and weep.
            Woe to you
            when all people speak well of you,
            for this is the way their ancestors
            used to treat the false prophets.”

            The witness of the Orthodox is the blessing of Christ! I spent my life ignorant of this witness. But my ignorance of history and of the Orthodox witness was not because it wasn’t there as a light on a hill, but because I didn’t seek Truth, and reveled in my own largress. The light of Orthodoxy shines for all people to see. Just as Christ shone on the cross for people to see. They derided Him then, and they deride us now.

            Most of the world cannot bear that light however, and will speak evil things of it – turn a blind eye to it – try to bury its history, or reject it as a true witness. For many – this is simply cause for derision and scorn and denial.

            And to their hatred we must respond with Christ’s “Father, forgive them.” May god give us the grace to walk in that forgiveness.

          3. Christ is Risen Onesimus!

            Thank you for this. May I do a copy and paste for my Protestant friends?

  16. John,
    A few responses on top of what other people have said:

    In the 19th century Protestants missionaries went through the Ottoman Empire converting local (mostly Orthodox Christians) to Protestantism. The Ottoman authorities refused to grant them permission to convert Muslims so the missionaries thought they might as well convert those ‘ignorant and corrupt’ Orthodox. The legacy of this are small communities of Protestants scattered throughout the Middle East. Rather than help the Orthodox who were being crushed by Ottoman oppression they chose to target them for conversion. That is an example of sheep stealing! From what I have seen it is Protestants who are approaching Orthodoxy not Orthodoxy going to them. If anything, Orthodox are accused by Protestants of not trying to convert people.

    Also, if I’m not mistaken the history of Protestantism in the USA is one group of Protestants trying to convert another, Baptists converting Methodists, Methodists converting Anglicans, Puritans converting Arminians, etc

    As for prosperity I believe France, (half of Germany), Italy, Spain and Belgium are very Roman Catholic but equally economically prosperous! That certainly doesn’t validate Catholicism for me. On the other hand Greece, for example, has endured 400 years of Ottoman occupation, two World Wars, a vicious civil war, a number of dictatorships (some set up by the American Government, a number of smaller wars and the absorption of a million refugees from Asia Minor. Not exactly opportunity for economic prosperity!! Luckily, wealth is a red herring. It is the fidelity to God’s word that is important.

    1. Greece of course was under the Ottoman Empire so they were oppressed because they were Christian. A lot of the reason for Protestant countries being wealthy is the famous “Protestant work ethic”. Protestants have a saying, “Hard work is it’s own reward.”
      I’m not aware of evangelicals converting other evangelicals. I accept Baptists as Christian. I have attended Baptist churches in the past and would not try to convert them. If someone was from a liberal Protestant church I might talk to them but I have never tried to convert one evangelical to another evangelical. The differences are usually minor Charismatic vs not charismatic for example.
      I am willing to bet the Protestants didn’t have it any better than the Orthodox in the Ottoman Empire. Frequently in Nigeria and Pakistan Muslims target Evangelical Churches as well as Orthodox. All they see is Christian.

      1. John,
        You can throw in Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania as being ruled for 400 years by the Ottomans. Then you have Russia subject to the Golden Horde for 200 years. Throw in the repressive rule of the Hapsburg’s in Transylvania and the Polish in the Ukraine Orthodox have faced serious persecution even before the 20th century. Throw in Communism, militant Islam and the Naziz in the 20th century and you have even worse presecution. My grandparents were kicked out of Anatolia in 1922 and that is a typical story.

        If you dont know about Protestants converting Protestants then you dont know much the history of Protestanism.

        The Protestant work ethic ia one of those lame myths that was invented by Protestants to make them feel good about themselves. When the Roman Empire was supreme they must have had the ‘Roman Work Ethic’ and the Byzantines must have had the ‘Byzantine Work Ethic’ as they were the superpower in the 10th century. As China is set to become the biggest world economy very soon does that mean they now have the Protestant Work Ethic?

        Does matter how the Ottomans treated their Christians, Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox, the point is that Protestants decided to attack Orthodoxy when it was weak rather than help it!!!

        .

  17. WOW! So now Hank worships pictures. That is astounding to me. Having read St John of Damascus and Ouspensky’s “Theology of the Icon” its bewildering that anyone, esepecaily anyone from a Protestant background, can commend the worship of icons. Ouspensky says of the icon that it is the person and not the nature that is represented. You can’t separate the person from the nature and you sure can’t do that in a painting. The painting is a representation of the whole not the part. Otherwise it is a false image. It’s either the full God-man or its a lie.

    The Israelites did not worship the ark. They didn’t even see it. It was death to touch it. The appeal to the ark of the covenant for the worship of pictures is a huge error. No one bowed down and kissed the ark.

    1. Anastasiya,

      I think you misunderstood John of Damascus and Leonid Ouspensky’s defense of icons. Granted the arguments are complex, but they can be understood if one perseveres. But the encouraging thing is that little children who have limited understanding of the theological defense of icons are much better at grasping what venerating icons is about in comparison to people who have had years of seminary education. I suggest you read my article: Do We Need a Photo ID of Christ.”

      Robert

  18. Hey Bob, serious question here and I hope you or another can answer because I cannot find the answer anywhere. When a Protestant converts to Orthodoxy is “The Office for Receiving Into the Orthodox Faith Such Persons As have Not Previously Been Orthodox” as laid out beginning on page 454 of Hapgood’s 1922 “The Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church” followed? Is the 1922 OSB still a part of today’s Orthodox Church? Did Hank Hanegraaff have to vocally affirm the same rejections as laid out in that procedure? If Hapgood is no longer valid then what is the current OSB and what is the current procedure for receiving Protestants into the church? Thanks.

      1. Hey Robert, serious question here and I hope you or another can answer because I cannot find the answer anywhere. When a Protestant converts to Orthodoxy is “The Office for Receiving Into the Orthodox Faith Such Persons As have Not Previously Been Orthodox” as laid out beginning on page 454 of Hapgood’s 1922 “The Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church” followed? Is the 1922 OSB still a part of today’s Orthodox Church? Did Hank Hanegraaff have to vocally affirm the same rejections as laid out in that procedure? If Hapgood is no longer valid then what is the current OSB and what is the current procedure for receiving Protestants into the church? Thanks.

        1. Dear David,

          I’m impressed that you know about Hapgood’s translation and edition of the Orthodox Service Book. I’m going to answer your questions through a series of your questions paraphrased.

          First, is the book still valid? The answer is: Yes. When I took the St. Stephen’s Course sponsored by the Antiochian Archdiocese a few years ago Hapgood’s book was one of the required texts.

          Second, Did Hank Hanegraaff have to vocally affirm the rejections listed in page 457 of the Orthodox Service Book? I think the priest has some leeway as to whether to pose the specific rejections tailored to Roman Catholics, Anabaptists, Lutherans, or Reformed converts. I was received into Orthodoxy through the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. As I looked over the service of reception I recognized the one question that stood out: “Hast thou renounced all ancient and modern heresies and false doctrines which are contrary to the teachings of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Church?” I was not asked the specific questions for the Reformed listed on page 457. Instead, I was asked the blanket question about rejecting heresy.

          I don’t exactly how Mr. Hanegraaff was received, but I’m guessing it was probably very similar to my experience. Keep in mind that Hapgood’s book was published under the auspices of the Antiochian Archdiocese and that Mr. Hanegraaf was received via the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

          To sum up, there are minor variations in the way converts are received among the Orthodox jurisdictions, but they are all essentially the same. And just as importantly, the various Orthodox jurisdictions recognize each other’s reception of converts as valid. If you want to know exactly how Mr. Hanegraaff was received my advice is that you contact him or contact his new church home.

          Robert

  19. I offer this comment only as one investigating the Orthodox Church but in light of the commenter desctibing the persecution of the Orthodox in the past 100 years I would like to offer an article on Richard Wurmnrand’s testimony of being in the Communist prisons with Orthodox believers, both priests and lay folk. For a trenchant Protestant our question may be, did these men persevere as a fruit of their faith as lived as an Orthodox Christian, or despite their beliefs? Also, rememebr that Paul said it had been granted or graced to the Philippians to not only believe but to suffer for His name’s sake.

    http://cost-of-discipleship.blogspot.com/2010/05/real-orthodoxy-as-testified-by-lutheran.html

    1. James,
      Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

      Thank you for sharing Richard Wurmbrand’s testimony of those beautifully radiant Orthodox brothers. It reminds me of the book FATHER ARSENY, which was written by one of his spiritual children. He like Richard was a prisoner of a Soviet gulag. Fr. Arseny was a beacon of light and hope and a comfort to the many lost and suffering in those godless prison camps. The book was life changing for me.
      I’m an Orthodox Christian who came from a charismatic evangelical background. You say you’re investigating Orthodoxy. Have you visited a parish yet? The only advice I’d have for you is to seek out an English language one. My first foray into Orthodoxy was at a Greek parish and the service was celebrated in half English, half Greek. That may not be a problem for you, but I found it frustrating. The Divine Liturgy can be very overwhelming and disorienting. I wish I had known about this write-up before my first visit: “12 Things I Wish I’d Known…First Visit to an Orthodox Church” http://frederica.com/12-things/

      Wherever your spiritual journey leads you, may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you!

      In Christ,
      Lorinda

      1. Thank you Lorinda! I have not visited a parish yet but will soon. Thank you for your gracious encouragement. I’m looking forward to reading FATHER ARSENY. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

  20. I find it intriguing that Hank went Orthodox. I prefer Walter Martin and know what went down back in that day, as our cult ministry to JWs & LDS is not a fan of Hank as it is. I’ve recently learned how unbiblical the rapture and dispensational theology is. I’ve tried to attend a few reformed churches but so many fall into the cult or emergant church categories. I am not going to touch Roman Catholicism as there are too many changes to their theology over the years. I would be interested in finding out what my alternatives are, either that or I will not even bother attending church as it’s beginning to feel pointless. I’m not interested in having an organization act as the mediator in my life.

    1. Tiffany,

      Welcome! I hope you will get to meet other Christians who have been in situation similar to yours.

      Robert

    2. Hi Tiffany,

      I can relate to the part of your post expressing frustration and pointless feeling of “even bother”ing attending church. As an Evangelical I felt quite the same way. I’d like to encourage you to explore your options with your local Orthodox parish by calling the priest and setting up an appointment as an “inquirer.” I think you’ll find this to be a very pleasant experience. I think that if you take your time and are truly inquisitive — you will find a deep well of living water as many of us have. It is a true gift. If you are willing to share where you are from geographically, perhaps someone here may be able to recommend a healthy, vibrant parish to visit – or connect you with another convert who can answer questions.

      Blessings,
      ~Onesimus

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