The Dark Side of the First Christmas

    Normally, the Christmas season is viewed as a time of holiday cheer. Of twinkling lights, fragrant pine trees, peppermint candy canes, eggnog drinks, gingerbread cookies, happy songs in the air as people go shopping for gifts, and the smiling children eagerly anticipating opening their presents. But for many the year 2015 has been a year filled with tragedy and loss. A sense of darkness and mourning hangs heavy in the air as…

Baptism = Normative Occasion of Justification?

    From Vance: “In my church tradition, baptism is considered the normative occasion of justification, but not the cause of justification.  Does this view differ substantially from baptismal generation as understood by the Orthodox?” My Reply: Thank you for your interesting question about baptism as a “normative occasion” versus it being a cause of justification. The first thing that struck me about your question is that it is narrowly focused on…

A Tale of Two Gospels

By Stefan Pavićević. If there’s one thing I really think Protestantism has gotten wrong, it would be the way it treats the Bible.  Now, before I continue, I want to assure the reader that my intention is not to bash Protestants, because I have many friends who are good Christians and Protestants, people I deeply respect and love as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  My point here is not to be…

Book Review: Rock and Sand

Rock and Sand: An Orthodox Appraisal of the Protestant Reformers and Their Teachings (2015) Review by David Rockett When a seminary trained Protestant Pastor writes a book-long critique of Protestantism after converting to become an Orthodox Priest, it makes for interesting reading! However, critiques of theological systems and its primary proponents outside one’s own loyalties are on the surface suspect. Has the critic carefully understood what he proposes to critique? Is he…

Can Icons Become Idols?

  Question: The point that you made, Robert, about the use of icons in liturgy was understood. However, what might it look like for icons in an individual’s home? Where are the warning against idolatry in that context? How would one know if an icon was being used as an idol away from the context of a Church service?   Answer: Interesting question!  What are some possible deviant/idolatrous practices?  One possibility is…

Franklin Graham Meets With the Patriarch Kiril

    On 28 October 2015, the Rev. Franklin Graham met with His Holiness Patriarch Kiril of Moscow.  They met to discuss shared concerns like the persecution of Christians all around the world, especially in the Middle East, and the recent religious and moral shifts in the West. Excerpt His Holiness Patriarch Kirill noted that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association courageously confessed its faith and defended Christian values. “This gives us a sign…

Was the Reformation Necessary?

This is a relaunch article.  It marks the end of my blog vacation and the OrthodoxBridge moving to Ancient Faith Blogs.     This Saturday will mark the 498th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.  On 31 October 1517, Martin Luther nailed the 95 Theses to the door of Castle Church (Wittenberg, Germany) sparking a huge theological debate that would radically alter the religious landscape of Europe.Within a few decades the once unified European society was divided…