Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Response to Eastern Orthodoxy



  1. Great quote from the book...

    It is true that the Orthodox offer a distinction between the honor given to icons on the one hand and idolatrous worship on the other. The Second Council of Nicaea argues such a distinction.24 However, the concern here is the same as that articulated by the Reformers against the Church of Rome: the supposed distinction may sometimes be too subtle for actual practice.25 I grant that a well-trained and well-educated clergy and laity may comprehend and maintain the
    distinction. I think that Ellsworth maintains it, as do many Orthodox that I know personally. But is this always the case? In the New Testament, Paul taught that he would rather go without meat than by eating meat offered to idols cause a weak brother to stumble back into idolatry — the weaker brother not being able to comprehend or maintain the distinction that prevents idolatry-like behavior from being actual idolatry. Why then would the Church authorize a practice in Christian worship that might in any way cause someone to stumble into idolatry?

  2. continued..

    The problem of iconology extends to Mariology in Orthodox practice. The fact that Mary said that all generations would call her blessed does not authorize forms of veneration that are practically indistinguishable from worship. Evangelicals consider Mary blessed and expect to see her with all the saints when we are together with the Lord. But we expect that she would be just as appalled as were Paul and Barnabas at Lystra, or as was the angel in John’s vision in Revelation, when actions directed toward her even look like worship.26 Her words in Scripture were, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5, italics added). She is honored when multitudes do as she advised by listening to and submitting themselves to her Son.


  3. Another quote further down...

    Another significantly different theological perspective mentioned by Ellsworth has to do with the Eucharist and baptism. The Eucharist especially plays a prominent role in Orthodox liturgy, and the liturgy clearly advocates (by invocation and proclamation) a real change of the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Christ.27 Ellsworth candidly admits that this doctrine was not easily accepted by him or by those from Christ Church who joined him, but came to be accepted through extended study. It is not necessary for me to rehearse here the arguments of Baptists and other Evangelicals who dissent from the real presence interpretation of the Lord’s Supper.

    Steve, in your "The Four-Door Labyrinth" (pdf file #4), you describe and list (tongue-in-cheek) the various views on the Lord's Supper as the following.

    1. Oreonian
    2. Animal-Crackeresque
    3. Chocolate-chippy
    4. Carobean
    5. Oatmealy

    Have you read or heard of Keith A. Mathison's book Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper. If so, what do you think of it? R.C. Sproul thinks so highly of the book that he told Mathison that he "can die now". Meaning, if that were the only theological contribution Mathison ever made, it would be enough. I'm still learning about the various views. Does Mathison's view fit in any of the five you list?

  4. For everyone else:

    As a passing note, since the chapter preview has Craig Blaising responding to Wilbur Ellsworth’s conversion from a Baptist position to an Eastern Orthodox one, I'd like to mention an interesting historical controversy.

    It's whether a 17th century Patriarch of Constantinople, Cyril Lucaris (Kyrillos Loukaris) was a Calvinist or not.

    Here's a link to his alleged confession of faith. http://www.crivoice.org/creedcyril.html

    Many Eastern Orthodox scholars deny the claim that Cyril was a Calvinist or that he wrote the confession of faith. See here and here

    However, some scholars argue that he was a Calvinist. For example George A. Hadjiantoniou in his book "Protestant Patriarch: The Life Of Cyril Lucaris, 1572-1638, Patriarch Of Constantinople"

    Drake Shelton (who unfortunately is a Scripturalist), posted a youtube video in which he reviews and quotes Hadjiantoniou's book to make a case for Cyril being a genuine Calvinist.

    Here's the YouTube link