"Obedience will bring about all things. Obedience will bring about Grace. The slightest disobedience to the elder drives Grace out. All the passions are healed little by little through obedience... Obedience is humility." ~ Elder Ephraim of Katounakia

 

 

Preface

The following chapters will discuss the establishment by the Lord Jesus Christ of His one Church in the first century; the Eastern Church that has remained unified and has maintained the apostolic faith for two thousand years and which continues today in Orthodoxy. Discussion will also cover Holy Tradition, defining it as possessing four inseparable components that constitute the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit in the Orthodox Church (the dwelling place of God in the Spirit). Furthermore, it will be shown that in contrast to Orthodoxy's two millennia of cohesion and of faithfulness to apostolic teaching that the Western Church at Rome (the Roman Catholic Church) schismed from the historical first century New Testament Church and that one result of this departure included the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

Attention will then turn to the fruits having resulted from Protestantism's schism from the Western Church and the failure to return to the Church established in the first century by the Lord Jesus Christ, a decision that rapidly ended in the abandonment of nearly all Holy Tradition. These fruits include the novel Protestant precept of sola scriptura, a proposition that argues Scripture alone suffices to understand and pursue the life in Christ and which played a key role in Protestantism's having fractured into tens of thousands of divergent denominations. Moreover, because sola scriptura must rely on a private interpretation of Scripture it also functioned to bear fruit such as there being millions of conflicting opinions on the same Bible verses; which resulted in the relegation of sacraments to mere symbology, misunderstanding the process of salvation, and other dangerous misapprehensions of Scripture. Several chapters will cover in some detail the fruits that ensued as a consequence of Protestantism's schism from the Western Church and failure to return to the Eastern Church established by the Lord Jesus Christ in the first century.

As a personal aside, given this state of Western Christianity, the author came to perceive Protestantism as a kind of instrument for assimilation into mainstream western culture and as a sort of psychology for coping with the world into which one had thusly been cast. Consequently, an interior emptiness, a spiritual void, persisted that triggered an all-encompassing search for completion. Glory be to God that this expedition ultimately led to the one unified Church established by the Lord Jesus Christ and resulted in the undeniable knowledge that "I was HOME!"

Turning to a few technical matters, references to Old Testament Scripture are from the New International Version (NIV) Study Bible and New Testament references are from the New King James Version (NKJV) Orthodox Study Bible. As for dates, they are presumed to be AD (anno domini, Latin for "in the year of our Lord") unless otherwise noted and when referring to a person indicate the year they rested in the Lord, again, unless otherwise indicated. Finally, apologies are offered to those who may take exception to the arguably inordinate use of Scripture, while preferring to normally rely more on all strands of Holy Tradition it was felt that the presentation of theologies herein would be more readily accepted by Protestant readers when supported by the Bible.

In closing, it must be said that a major intent of this work is to demonstrate that the "reverence" of Western Christianity appears to rarely transcend the conceptual and generally relies on human intellect while "devotion" in Eastern Christianity involves direct experience with God through the Holy Spirit (is experiential). This can be envisioned by picturing the Holy Spirit as a continuously broadcasting station whose frequency is obstructed by Protestantism's immersion in worldly concerns and reliance on individual acumen. That is, the replacement of wisdom from the Holy Spirit with modern day intellectual opinion can only result in static. Quite simply, the life in Christ requires our adherence to what the Church has always believed; our constant pursuit of God through active participation in the Eastern Church of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this prescription that the following work, and below prayer, is humbly offered.

O Lord, we know not what to ask of You. You alone know our true needs. You love us more than we know how to love ourselves. Help us to see our real needs, which are concealed from us. We dare not ask for either a cross or a consolation. We can only wait on You. Our hearts are open to You. Visit and help us for Your great mercy's sake. Strike us and heal us, cast us down and raise us up. We worship in silence Your holy will and Your inscrutable ways. We offer ourselves as a sacrifice to You. We put all our trust in You. We have no other desire than to fulfill Your will. Teach us to pray and pray Yourself in us. Amen.


Anthony ofthe Desert
Florence, AZ (USA)