The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not
The following has been excerpted from a longer interview given by Anthony to Orthodox Chrstian Prison Ministry (OCPM):
OCPM: What can you tell us about The Gates of Hades Prevaileth Not?
Anthony: Well, The Gates of Hades serves to remedy the vacancy of knowledge about Church history by diagraming the many teachings that have strayed from the Faith delivered by the Lord Jesus Christ.
OCPM: That sounds interesting. How was this accomplished?
Anthony: When building upon the actuality of Christ having established His Holy Orthodox Christian Church in the first century and the Faith He gave to the Apostles we can observe how the Apostles spread the Church's Truth throughout the Middle East.
OCPM: Oh, you mean like Saint Paul to the Gentiles?
Anthony: Exactly! This is a great example. We witness his journeys through Greece as how the Church spread; the Apostle Paul set up churches in Philippi, Thessalonia, Corinth, and elsewhere - these churches are cemented in history via letters sent to them by the Apostle (such as Philippians, Thessalonians and Corinthians in Sacred Scipture) and are still in existence today, nearly two thousand years later.
OCPM: Just how did these churches last so long?
Anthony: There are several reasons. The Holy Bible confirms the building of Christ's Church (Mt. 16:18) and defines the Church as the pillar and ground of Truth (1 Tim 3:15), thus the Holy Spirit guides this repository of Truth in all things. Also, there exists the unbroken line of Apostolic Succession...
OCPM:Excuse me Anthony, but what is the Apostolic Succession?
Anthony: Okay. The Son of God placed Apostles (the initial bishops) over the original Church and then they trained successor bishops; we see this with Saint Paul and Timothy (1Tim 1:2) as well as with Titus (Tit 1:4) This continued with followers of Titus and Timothy, including Saint Clement of Rome, Saint Ignatius of Antioch at the end of the first century, and so on. For instance in the second century there was Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, etc.
OCPM: And this has continued since then?
Anthony:Oh yes. In the third century we had Saint Cyril of Alexandria, the third or fourth century saw Saint Anthony the Great, in the fourth century came the three Church Hierarchs (Saint Basil the Great, Saint John Chrysostom, and Saint Gregory the Theologian), and many more... in an unbroken line.
OCPM: And The Gates of Hades covers all of this?
Anthony: Yes, and it also discusses the heresies that posed challenges to the Faith that Christ Jesus delivered to the Apostles.
OCPM: I'm sorry, but exactly what do you mean by heresies?
Anthony: The term refers to a novel teaching about the Holy Trinity's nature, an innovation differing from what has been believed everywhere, by everyone, always. These deviant proclamations - such as the Son of God having been created (Arianism) or His having only one nature (the divine sans human, Monophysitism) - were crushed through councils held by the Early Church.
OCPM: How did the Church come to rely on councils?
Anthony: From Sacred Scripture. In Acts 15 resides the account of a dispute over whether Gentiles had to follow Jewish custom (the Law), that could not be resolved locally. Consequently, bishops from many locales gathered for a council in Jerusalem; after debate and deliberation a binding decision was issued. Similarly, when confronted by the Arian heresy in the fourth century, the Church convened a council at Nicea in 325 and as a result the Symbol of Faith (also known as the Nicean Creed) was released as a statement that averred the Church belief on the nature of the Son of God.
OCPM: That sounds really complex.
Anthony: It is. However, what makes The Gates of Hades unique and reader friendly is the over a hundred page, exhaustive, A-Z digest. This provides an easy reference guide that grants convenient access to details on the many involved subjects the book addresses.
OCPM: Impressive! Unfortunately, I see our time is up. I'd like to thank you Anthony for a most informative interview and for a book that contributes so much to an understanding of Orthodox Christianity.
Anthony: It was my pleasure.