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Excerpt from "THE NON-ORTHODOX" by Patrick Barnes

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by OrthodoxyUSA, Dec 6, 2005.

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  1. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Running for President of The United States

    Eastern Orthodox


    The Orthodox Teaching on Christians Outside of the Church

    Patrick Barnes​

    All Scripture not in footnoted passages is from the King James Version.

    © Patrick Barnes, 1999, 2004

    VI. Can the Non-Orthodox Be Called “Christians”?​

    It should be apparent by now that knowledgeable Orthodox Christians employ the term “Christian” rather loosely when referring to the heterodox. This is akin to referring respectfully to a Roman Catholic clergyman as a “Priest” or to a Lutheran confessional body as a “church.” In a way, we are using these terms according to oikonomia.

    When, however, the term “Christian” is used with attention to theological accuracy and consistency—​
    i.e., according to akribeia—, it means an organic union with Christ, which is inseparably linked to membership in the Church—His Body. Just as “falling in love” is quite different from being united in marriage as “one flesh” (Eph. 5:28-32; Gen. 2:24), conversion to Christ is different than union with Him in the Mystery of Holy Baptism. The former are inclinations of the heart; the latter are the organic realities.

    In the divine-human organism of the Church every believer is like a living cell that becomes an integral part of it, and lives with wonderworking, divine-human power. For to be a member of the Church means: to become incarnated with the God-man, to share His body (Eph. 3:6), to become an organic part of His divine-human body (Eph. 5:30; 1 Cor. 12:12-13), in a word: to become divine-human in the entire reality of one’s human personality. If one attains this, he has attained a divine-human monism of life, and has a living and immortal sense that he has passed over from death into life (cf. Jn. 5:24; 3:36; 11:25-26). Moreover, he ceaselessly senses with all his being that the Church, as a divinehuman organism, is the God-man extended into the ages. ​

    Thus, in his address to those who had been sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Chrismated) immediately following Baptism, Saint Cyril of Jerusalem could say:

    Having been baptized into Christ, and put on Christ, ye have been made conformable to the Son of God; for God having foreordained us unto adoption as sons, made us to be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory. Having therefore become partakers of Christ, ye are properly called Christs, and of you God said, Touch not My Christ, or anointed. Now ye have been made Christs, by receiving the antitype of the Holy Ghost; and all things have been wrought in you by imitation, because ye are images of Christ. He washed in the river Jordan, and having imparted of the fragrance of His Godhead to the waters, He came up fromthem; and the Holy Ghost in the fullness of His being lighted on Him, like resting upon like. And to you in like manner, after you had come up from the pool of the sacred streams, there was given an Unction, the anti-type of that wherewith Christ was anointed; and this is the Holy Ghost;… Having been counted worthy of this Holy Chrism, ye are called Christians, verifying the name also by your new birth. For before you were deemed worthy of this grace, ye had properly no right to thistitle, but were advancing on your way towards being Christians.68

    The Holy Russian New Martyr Hilarion, in his brilliant little book Christianity or the Church?, provides further insight into these Patristic concepts when he discusses how the term “Christian” was used in the early Church:

    Before anything else, the [early] Christians became conscious of themselves as members of the Church. The Christian community referred to itself as a “Church” in preference to all other names. The word “Church” (ekklesia) appears one hundred and ten times in the New Testament, while such words as “Christianity” and similar words with the same ending are completely unknown in the New Testament. After the descent of the Holy Spirit on Christ’s disciples and apostles, the Church came into being as a visible community with a spiritual interrelation amongst its members. . . .What did it mean at that time to be a Christian?

    In our times we hear many various answers such as: “To be a Christian means to recognize Christ’s teaching, to try and fulfill His commandments.” This, of course, is the best of such answers. The first Christians, however, answered the question in a completely different way. From the very first pages of its history, Christianity appears before us in the form of an harmonious and unanimous community. Outside of this community there were no Christians. To come to believe in Christ, to become a Christian—this meant uniting with the Church. This is repeatedly expressed in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, where we read that the Lord daily added the saved to the Church (Acts 2:47; 5:13-14). Each new believer was like a branch grafted to the tree of Church life.69

    Therefore, properly speaking, to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and in His Church, which is normally70 effected through triple immersion in the blessed waters.

    67 The Struggle for Faith, trans. the Rt. Rev. Archimandrite Todor Mika, S.T.M, and the Very Rev. Dr. Stevan Scott (Grayslake, Illinois: The Serbian Orthodox Diocese of the United States of America and Canada, 1989), p. 127. Cf. Eph. 4:4-5, 15-16; 5:25ff; 1 Cor. 6:15,19 with Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.

    68 Catechetical Lecture XXI, “On Chrism,” trans. Edwin Hamilton Gifford, D.D., NPNF 2nd ser., Vol. 7, pp. 147, 150, emphasis ours. 69 Op. cit., pp. 17-18, emphasis ours. 70
    As Hieromonk Haralampos of Holy Transfiguration Monastery once pointed out to me:

    There are other ways to enter the Church that do not apply to most people. For example, the thief on the cross was assured that he would be in Paradise with Christ, though he was not baptized. There are also numerous examples of martyrs whose only baptism was one of blood. Others have even been baptized in extremis without the use of water. However, in this case the baptism would be later “corrected” by the Church if possible. There is also the issue of “catechumens”—those who are undergoing “catechesis” (instruction) and are waiting to be fully received into the Church. They are properly called “Christians” since they have fled to the Church and placed themselves under Her pastoral care and authority. They are truly “Christians”— though imperfect or incomplete—according to historical terminology. Perhaps a more modern designation would be “probationers,” “postulants,” or “candidates.” When baptized, they will be perfect Christians (teleioi); we would say “full Christians.”

    Today, however, to be called a “Christian” is a fuzzy term when you consider that the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses pose as “Christian ‘churches’.” It is also not uncommon to run into someone who claims to be Christian simply because they agree with some of the teachings of Christ. However, mental assent is not the same as faith unto good works, as St. James tells us: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder” (2:19, RSV).


    You can find a link to the entire text on my website.

    Forgive me....:liturgy:

  2. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Running for President of The United States

    Eastern Orthodox
  3. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Running for President of The United States

    Eastern Orthodox
    No comments....

  4. FreezBee

    FreezBee Veteran


    Let's take a peek at the Nicean Creed:

    We believe in (Romans 10: 8-10; 1 John 4: 15)


    In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
    holy, (1 Peter 2: 5,9)
    catholic*, (Mark 16: 15)
    and apostolic Church. (Acts 2: 42; Ephesians 2: 19-22)

    So, yes we do believe in one holy, catholic (= universal), and apostolic church. We do not believe in any specific institutionalization of that church, however. Church institutions are of this world and therefore not holy. They may serve practical purposes for the communion of Christians, but they are institutions of this world, and no specific church can claim to be the church of Jesus, whose kingdom is not of this world.

    Is this ok?

    - FreezBee
  5. OrthodoxyUSA

    OrthodoxyUSA Running for President of The United States

    Eastern Orthodox
    Interesting that you would quote the Nicean Creed.

    It was written by the Orthodox.

    You assert therefore, that you know better than they, what they meant when they wrote it.


    Forgive me....
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