This past Sunday was the feastday of Pentecost (see Acts 2). Protestants and Orthodox Christians celebrate Pentecost in quite different manners. Many Protestant churches festoon their sanctuaries with bright red balloons. Once I was visiting a friend’s church and witnessed red balloons cascading from the balcony onto the congregants below. Orthodox churches celebrate Pentecost with a Vespers service where the entire congregation kneel during the three lengthy prayers. This kneeling prayers service is universal among the Orthodox. Orthodox churches around the world all used the same prayers whether in the US, Russia, Africa, Latin America, or in Southeast Asia.
As a convert to Orthodoxy, I noticed that there seems to be a greater emphasis on Pentecost in Orthodoxy. Fr. Stephen Freeman just posted an insightufl reflection on the kneeling prayers: “Entering Hell on Pentecost – With Prayer.” Protestants curious about the contents of the kneeling prayers are welcome to read Fr. Stephen’s article.
A reader sent me a comment with several good questions about sola scriptura that I thought merited a separate article. One of the questions he put to me was: “Are the writings of the Fathers and the liturgy of the church “theopneustos? [God-breathed]” This is an important question that calls for reflection on the relations between the Holy Spirit, Scripture, and the Church. This will be the basis for next series of articles titled: “Pentecost and Sola Scriptura.” In this series I will present how differences in the way Protestantism and Orthodoxy understand the Holy Spirit shapes our understanding of Scripture. In preparation for the next article, readers are invited to read an article I posted earlier: “Pentecost and the Promise of God Fulfilled.”