Wed, 27 September 2023
Today we talk about murder, the geneologies of death and sin, the technologies (that seem to have been) given to man by fallen gods and God Himself, and Cain's line as evidence of our need for the Law and the Prophets - and better yet Christ Himself! The recording is a bit odd - it cut off a couple of times during the class so I filled in the gaps with a narrative summary. Enjoy the show!
Sun, 24 September 2023
Luke 5: 1-11. In this homily on the catching of fish (and men), Fr. Anthony riffs on the homily St. Nikolai Velimirovic gave, looking at it through the lens of Psalm 126:1a; "Except the Lord build the house, they that build labour in vain." After taking us through a tour of the conversion of Egypt and Kyivan Rus' and the way they were tempted to mix their previous pagan techniques with the True Faith, Fr. Anthony warns us that we are similarly tempted to bind God rather than enter into a relationship of love with Him. Enjoy the show!
Sun, 24 September 2023
In this edition of our Intro to Orthodoxy series, Fr. Anthony talks about the benefits of a prayer rule and of spending some time regularly in silent (but NOT monastic!) prayer. Enjoy the show!
Wed, 20 September 2023
This evening we continue working our way through the creation as described in Genesis 2 & 3. This includes talking about the fall and how our ability to image the Logos in creation was affected and how that is changed through our union with the new Adam/humanity - Jesus Christ (the Incarnate Logos). Enjoy the show!
Sun, 17 September 2023
Fr. David Randolph of blessed memory, talked about how much he and everyone enjoyed Q&A classes about his homily on Sunday afternoons. Fr. Anthony decided to give it a shot. It went pretty well, glory to God. Then he segued into a summary of the lessons on pride, how Orthodoxy heals us from it, and introduced the topic of next week's topic - hesychasm. Enjoy the show.!
Sun, 17 September 2023
St. Mark 8:34-38; 9:1. Before getting to the point about denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Christ, Fr. Anthony deals with the preliminary issue of not crucifying others. Enjoy the show!
Wed, 13 September 2023
After summarizing the Orthodox approach to scripture, Fr. Anthony begins a verse by verse examination of Genesis One. We made it up to "Image and Likeness!"
Genesis One (read the first four days using Septuagint and Hebrew translations; pause to make points).
1. In [the] beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void [Tohu wa bohu]; and darkness was on the face of the deep. 2. And the Spirit of God [!] was hovering over the face of the waters [where did they come from?] 3. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light [!]. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day [?], and the darkness He called Night [?]. So the evening and the morning were the first day [liturgical time!].
6 Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.” 7 Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven [use of ancient cosmology does not need to be explained away or excused; the explanation is functional, not astronomical/geographical!] . So the evening and the morning were the second day.
9 Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 10 And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.[imagery of the Nile – agricultural, miraculous, dependable]
11 Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind [we’ll explore this “according to its kind later; order is important in the temple!], whose seed is in itself, on the earth”; and it was so. 12 And the earth brought forth grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 So the evening and the morning were the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; 15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so. 16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night [why the ambigious language? De-divinization of creation!]. He made the stars also. 17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Some Examples of the Functional Creation
St. Augustine, One the Literal Interpretation of Genesis 3:10.
Scripture called heaven and earth that formless matter of the universe, which was changed into formed and beautiful natures by God’s ineffable command.… This heaven and earth, which were confused and mixed up, were suited to receive forms from God their maker.
Basil the Great; Hexaemeron 1.5.
It appears, indeed, that even before this world an order of things existed of which our mind can form an idea but of which we can say nothing, because it is too lofty a subject for men who are but beginners and are still babes in knowledge. The birth of the world was preceded by a condition of things suitable for the exercise of supernatural powers, outstripping the limits of time, eternal and infinite. The Creator and Demiurge of the universe perfected his works in it, spiritual light for the happiness of all who love the Lord, intellectual and invisible natures, all the orderly arrangement of pure intelligences who are beyond the reach of our mind and of whom we cannot even discover the names.
I mean, this is an extraordinary thing, Genesis 1 … things don’t quite come in the right order. I mean, it’s striking that it begins with energy for light, “Let there be light.” It’s striking that life starts in the waters and moves onto the land.
But of course … the sun and moon and stars only come on the fourth day. And of course, there wouldn’t be any life without the stars, because that’s where they make the raw material for life. So that isn’t right. And we believe that one of the reasons, we believe in theology, one of the reasons why the sun, moon and stars come downstream, so to speak, is that the writer is wanting to say the sun and the moon aren’t deities. They’re not to be worshipped….
They are creatures just like everything else. And that shows us that what we’re reading is a theologically oriented thing and not a scientifically oriented thing. I mean, you have to figure out, when you read something and you want to read it respectfully, you have to figure out what it is you’re reading. Is it poetry or is it prose? If you read poetry and think it’s prose, you will make the most astonishing mistakes. [And Genesis 1…] is much more like a poem than like prose. And that’s, in a sense, the sadness of the “creationist” so-called position, that these people who are really wanting to be respectful to scripture are, I think, ironically, being disrespectful, because they’re not using it in the right way.
Walton, J. H. (pp. 49–50).
The creation account in Genesis 1 can then be seen to begin with no functions rather than with no material. At this point, however, it is important to establish what we mean when we talk of functions… In the ancient world, function was not the result of material properties, but the result of purpose. The sun looks down on all and is associated with the god of justice. It functions as a marker for time and seasons. When the ancient texts talk about how something functions in an ordered system, the system under discussion is not a cosmic or ecological system. It is a system inhabited by beings…In the Old Testament God has no needs and focuses functionality around people. We will see increasing evidence of this understanding as we move through the remainder of Genesis 1. Consequently, functionality cannot exist without people in the picture. In Genesis people are not put in place until day six, but functionality is established with their needs and situation in mind.
Major Points for Discussion
Who is God (i.e. what does “Elohim” mean?). Elohim is a plural noun that can either describe beings from the/a spiritual realm (e.g. gods, angels, maybe even ghosts) or the One Uncreated God (it’s obvious which one it is by grammatical context).
What does “according to its kind” mean? It is not an attack on science. Here’s a gem of a quote from St. Augustine’s tract against Felix the Manichean (quoted here);
In the Gospel we do not read that the Lord said: I send you the Holy Spirit so that He might teach you all about the course of the sun and the moon. The Lord wanted to make Christians, not astronomers. You learn at school all the useful things you need to know about nature. It is true that Christ said that the Holy Spirit will come to lead us into all truth, but He is not speaking there about the course of the sun and the moon. If you think that knowledge about these things belongs to the truth that Christ promised through the Holy Spirit, then I ask you: how many stars are there? I say that such things do not belong to Christian teaching…whereas you affirm that this teaching includes knowledge about how the world was made and what takes place in the world.
The point being made is that 1) there is an order to creation that is logical (and created through the Logos!) and 2) the multitude of creation reflects God’s glory and purpose. God led the Hebrews to make seeing things “according to their kind a virtuous instinct. What do we lose when we don’t?
Who is God talking to when He says “Let US make man…”? Different explanations. Could be the “Royal We” (not likely). Could be the Heavenly Hosts (i.e. the Divine Council). The main explanation (because we read in the light of Christ) is the Trinity.
What is “The Image of God”? Lots of good answers (ask for some). At the very least, it means that we re-present God in creation (just as Christ does as the New Adam; “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” Colossians 1:15).
What is the “Likeness of God”? Again, many good answers. The usual one is that it is His purity and holiness (theosis). This is something we have to grow into (more on that once we talk more about mankind).
Enjoy the show!
Sun, 10 September 2023
Today Fr. Anthony continues his introduction to Orthodoxy by talking about something very real and necessary - how our pride handicaps our ability to have healthy relationships and thus fulfilling God's desire that we be one as He (God) is One (John 17:21). In this case, the main example is mirror imaging. Enjoy the show!
Sun, 10 September 2023
John 3:13-17. Why did God have Moses create an image (a statue) of a serpent to deliver them from the pain of sin (grumbling) and what does that teach us about the the use and misuse of icons? Two things about this homily - the first is that Fr. Anthony's iPhone decided to use his hearing aid as the microphone for the recording (with mixed results); the second is that he forgot to use the later generations of Israelites' use of the bronze serpent as an idol (he corrected that at the end of Liturgy). Enjoy the show!
Wed, 6 September 2023
Opening prayer (from the Prayer before the Gospel during the Diving Liturgy)
An Important Prologue (from Fr. Stephen’s The Whole Counsel)
· Inspiration. 2 Peter 1:19-21. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, than no prophecy of Scripture is of any private origin, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men, being carried by the Holy Spirit, spoke from God (OSB & FSDY). Note that these “men” did this at different times, using different styles, and the writing was not done all at once. For example, the Torah is of Mosaic origin, but its language and style are from later times (and I don’t have in mind E, Y, D, P). Inspiration includes speaking, writing, editing, copying, translating, and compiling scripture.
· Inerrancy. A bit on the term. 18th century gave rise to a “scientific” way of looking at scripture. This doesn’t just mean taking out the supernatural elements, but breaking texts apart and said to be of different and conflicting sources. Conservative American Protestants reacted by publishing “The Fundamentals.” They argued that the Scriptures were inerrant (without error). The Liberal Protestants were opposed to this view, saying that they were affected by the limitations of the people and cultures of the times in which they were written. This difference about inerrancy could have been bridged through nuance, but then they moved further apart, with the “fundamentalists” equating literal/materialist with inerrant and the liberal side becoming more interested in a reconstructed social gospel. Orthodoxy teaches that the Scriptures do not contain errors, but it has a strong tolerance for ambiguities. “In large part, this is because the Church has never approached the world on the basis of the Scriptures; rather the Scriptures function internally, with the Church and her worship.” Orthodoxy is not concerned with identifying and reconciling “errors” in scripture, but in what it (with all its richness) calls us to be.
· Sola Scriptura. The Reformation put Scripture as the key to evaluating tradition and the teaching authority of the Church; the Roman Catholics make the teaching authority of the Church key (magisterium). Orthodoxy sidesteps this approach because it recognizes that Christ Himself is the Truth. We are not turning to scripture, tradition, and the Church to learn about Christ; we are coming to know God experientially, being united with and in Christ Himself. John 15:26-27 (following the logic of 2 Peter above), has the Holy Spirit (continuously revealing “Tradition”) and the witness of those who saw/knew God (ie Scriptures); “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” We do not recognize competing sources of authority (Church, Tradition, Scripture), but see it all as the way we come to know Christ through the working of the Holy Spirit
The Source(s) of the Bible
Following Christ, the Apostles, and the Early Church, the Orthodox Church primarily uses the Septuagint. The Torah section was an official translation completed well before the Incarnation of Christ.
How the Bible is Organized
Old Testament Organization (Septuagint organization)
Why did some early Christians want to ban the Old Testament from the Biblical Canon? Why do we care about the Old Testament? It is “The Scriptures” referred to in the New Testament. It is about God, Christ, and God’s plan for the world.
Sun, 3 September 2023
In this, the first part of a series (Fall, Sunday afternoon adult education), Fr. Anthony provides an introduction to the Orthodox conception of the mind, how pride corrupts it, and how Orthodoxy heals and perfects it. Enjoy the show!
Sun, 3 September 2023
St. Matthew 21:33-42. The Parable of the Vineyard. After describing the most immediate meaning of the parable (a warning and prophecy to the Jewish leaders), Fr. Anthony applies the lessons to the mission of the parish and the transformation of the mind. Enjoy the show!