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Coptic Orthodox Church
Christian Apologetics--Answering tough questions about the true Faith.
I wish I could be living as straight as you are binC so please pray for me.
I do agree with you binC - though not all along the way you put it.
Didn't Jesus tell us Himself that Love is the greatest of Commandments?
One should be very careful indeed, but Churches will always try to rework their differences.
The reply by epchois_nai_nan is more peaceful plus the Lord's words are surely sacred.
We know we are Apostolic but God has performed real miracles that glorify His Name many times by many saints from other Churches too. I think it is the other
power lusting church leaders
that would eventually take the most blames for heresies or misleading doctrine inventions.
Instead of hating - I know you hate the bad deeds and deviated faith not the people - let's try to replace that with continuous prayers, reciprocal love, good teaching and true Christian behavior. Only refuse any anti Christian faith.
Let us humble for we are also sinners (and who isn't?).
Let God be the Judge, let Him decide who is the greatest one among us.
God help us all.
What did you mean by the Holy Spirit is enough witness.. will the Holy Spirit answer all of our questions immediately? Do we then have to ask other people questions about the faith?
Also you said
that even the most confined of monks can breathe easily and reassure themselves, "That simply because there seemingly remains an absence of evidence, I know that such absence is not evidence of absence for the Christian faith."
Isn't that faith without evidence? is that blind faith?
I am thinking on going on a role and asking all of the questions I have about the faith.. I warn you I am a deep thinker.. and am not satisfied with easy answers.. my conscience must accept this first.
John_S2000 and my friends,
History of St Dioscorus - Theopiste
CHAPTER 17 - 20
17. After this Father Paphnutius, abbot of the monks of Tabennisi, of the sons of Pachomius, came to the gate. At this news our father rejoiced greatly, as if he had forgotten all the sufferings he had endured, and he went to meet holy Paphnutius. When Paphnutius saw our father he said to him, “I have found Israel as a vine which bears fruit in the desert and as a field which supports the roots of fig trees. Thus have I found you who battles for the Orthodox Faith, in the midst of six hundred and thirty four wolves”. After these words, they embraced in tears, and Paphnutius fell immediately at the feet of our holy father Dioscorus and clasped them. “I adore”, he said, “the earth which bears your feet, for this earth which bears them is truly holy ground, and I have seen the bush in which is the Messiah, that is to say his flesh, the divinity was united to it without change and without confusion, as the bush which burned without being consumed, in the same way the divinity and the humanity were not separated the one from the other from the moment when He entered into the womb of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Glory to Him, whose name is worshipped unto ages of ages, Amen”.
He then came with us to the place were we lived, and they discussed together the holy fathers who had preceded them. Our father spoke of the Archbishops and of their good works, of Archbishop Cyril and of the Samaritan woman who believed in our Lord Jesus Christ by his hands. Father Paphnutius recounted the wonders and miracles of the fathers, his predecessors; of Father Pachomius, of Petronios and of Theodore. He spoke at length also on the subject of Father Shenoute, how he was taught and became wise even in his childhood, and how he rode a chariot of cloud when he returned to the Imperial city in the air.
While they talked the feet of the Archbishop grew tired, and he removed the shoes which he was wearing. Now there was a man with Father Paphnutius who suffered in his feet and who had gout. He took these shoes, put them on his feet, and was healed.
There was also a superior of a monastery whose feet was bent behind and was hard like stone. He took the shoes which had fitted this saint’s feet, I have confidence (he said) that at the time when they will approach my feet the bad pain which is making me suffer will disappear and I will walk with them. When he had put these shoes on his feet, their nerves became sensitive at once, their tendons were like those of a child, his feet extended and he went on his way praising God and our holy father. And the fame of holy Dioscorus spread through all the island of Gangra. They said, “God sent a help and a saviour to us”. God performed many wonders and miracles by his hands which are not written down, we have written these so that you may worship God who lives in his saints.
18. There were also some Jewish merchants on this isle, and two of them came to our holy father to test him. One of them pretended to be lame and put plasters on his feet, the other feigned desiccated hands; when they came to our father, they said to him, “Hail, man of God, we have come to ask you to have pity on us, and that you would ask God to heal our impotent limbs so that we can work and return to our family”.
Our father knew their deception and said to them, “It will be according to your faith in the Messiah”. The Jews responded saying, “We do not have faith in the Messiah”. He said, “Go, since you are lame and one-armed”, and immediately their hands were desiccated, and they could no longer extend their feet. So they cried with a loud voice and said, “The Messiah God of Dioscorus lives! O our father, we know that we are sinners, and we pray your paternity to have pity. We have heard it said that the Messiah, your God, cures all pain and makes all well. Therefore it is not fitting that his servant does wrong. We came before you healthy, and now we are leaving as cripples”.
Our father said to them, “You like this type of disease, and behold God has made you as you desire. There is nothing worse than this, that when God had made you healthy and beautiful, you dared to change the beauty of the creature into corruption”.
When they had made many prayers and supplications, he extended his holy hands in prayer and said, “O my God, the Messiah, my Saviour, command that these men become healthy as before”. He stretched his hand over them and immediately their limbs were healed. They worshipped God and asked that holy Dioscorus make them Christians. He baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and confirmed them in the Faith. They distributed their goods among the poor, save that which they needed.
19. When the feast-day arrived of the Archangel Michael, of Matthew the Evangelist, and of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, my father said to the holy Father Paphnutius, archimandrite of father Pachome, “Let us go to the Church, because it is a great day and make offerings to God”. After having gone there, to accomplish everything according to the rules of the liturgy, and having put on the vestments for the service of the altar, while we were gathered around the table of life, we had intended to say, “The Angelic Host of the Lord surrounds those who fear Him, and protects them”. After some time he said to me, “Go, my son, begin, for the lessons of this holy feast have been read”. I said to him, “Who has read them?”. He replied to me, “The Apostle Paul has read his, John the Evangelist has read one of his letters, Luke the Acts, and Our Lord Jesus Christ His Gospel”.
Then he ordered Peter the Archdeacon, “Go, stand before the altar and perform the office without fear, because the Lord Messiah orders it of you”. Peter extended his hand and began the great Anaphora of the Apostles. When he came to the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Might, Dioscorus said to me, to Peter, and to another Deacon called Timothy, “Do not fear if you hear the voice of the angels which worship God”. And at once we heard the voice of the angels who say Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Might. You can believe, my brethren, that a great fear seized us. We were as dead men because of the sound of the voice of the angels. And when we came to the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, as soon as the prayer had been made, a great light descended at once upon the altar and the table of life, and our venerable and holy father was held within this light. As for us, we were prostrate and lay as if dead.
When we came to the prayers of the offerings to the Church, Dioscorus commanded Father Paphnutius to raise us from the ground. He came, took us by the hand and raised us up, and our father Dioscorus said, “Preach now, Peter”. But he could not speak, because of the fear of that which he saw on the table of life. And when our father saw that we had such fear he made a sign to one of the spiritual angels which stood close to the table of life, and that one preached. When the fear had left us, we took part, with great respect, of the holy mysteries.
When the communion was completed, we sat down to rest ourselves, and Father Paphnutius said to our father, “In truth, holy father, I have seen your face as bright as the sun, and all the time that you were at the table of life, your face shown like that of Moses, the first of the prophets”. Our father replied to him, “Do you believe that this will only take place today? Truly, I say to you, all the times that I offer the communion of the Orthodox, in whatever place it happens to be, all that you have seen happens to me, and those gathered there. God desired to reveal this to you today in order to convince you that the faith for which I strive is the True and Orthodox Faith which was established at Nicaea by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of the three hundred and eighteen fathers who were assembled there. It is with the same faith that all the celestial orders worship God. God wanted to make this known to you on the festival of the Archangel Michael which is also in heaven the feast of the celestial orders. I tell you also, my friends, that my end approaches. I will tarry ten months and four days after the second Teschri (November) and will end my course in exile. I know that the father Macarius, bishop of Tkoou, has left this world, for he was with me today at the table of life”.
Father Paphnutius gave him some news. “I have learned”, he said, “that after you had left and been sent into exile, at Alexandria, a chalcedonian had been sent to him, to make him adhere to the letter of impious Leo. He did not want to subscribe to it, and the irritated envoy gave him a kick in his private parts. He gave up his soul to God and died a martyr. The crowd of faithful took his body, burying it with great honour and placing it close to the bodies of John the Baptist and the prophet Elisha, in the temple which had been built there”. And our father said of him this eulogy, I have been young, and I have grown old, and I have never seen the righteous abandoned. And now, my brethren, it is time that I recount the departure from this world of my father holy Dioscorus.
About eight months after the preceding vision, the first day of the month of Tomouz (July) there was another vision which I will tell you of now. “I have seen this night my father holy Cyril standing before me, with a crowd of bishops whom I did not know. He told me their names and I heard that he said to the first, “Our father Alexander, and you also, our great Athanasius, bless my son Dioscorus who was father of the Church”. He also named Ignatius, and said to him, “Blessed Ignatius, God-filled, I know that it is your feast today, but I desire that you come and bless my son”. And I saw the radiant Ignatius place his hand on the head of a small child and say to him, “Severus, come see your fathers and imitate their actions. Come kiss the feet of the pilots of the Church, such as Alexander, imitate Athanasius and the theologians like Cyril. Suffer for God as I and my father Ignatius, and follow the example of the holy and persecuted Dioscorus. You will not fall into error, even if you begin to suffer from persecution today. As for you Dioscorus, write to your son Timothy to occupy your See because in two months and four days you will come to me”.
Such was this vision, and, since that day, this saint of God, Dioscorus, fell ill and wrote a letter to the inhabitants of Alexandria that they should consecrate Timothy as Archbishop.
20. When Father Paphnutius left us to go to Egypt, my father called us, myself and the Archdeacon Peter, and said to us, “Theopiste, my son, after my death leave Peter with my body and save yourself, for a great danger will threaten you”. And two days before his departure we heard him say, “If there should be only one day left to me on earth, I would not cease worshipping and blessing you, O Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God”. And after this day, at the first hour of the night, we heard a voice which said, “Behold, I have come, Severus”. We asked him who this Severus was.
“This one”, he told us, “was the bishop of Gabala”. And he said to me, “Why are you weeping, my children?” We replied, “Because you are leaving us orphans”. He responded to us,
Do not weep for that, because God will not abandon you. Weep rather for your brethren who will succeed you, because the end is coming. There will be nothing good after you, only a curse, contempt, universal devastation and stain. Only among those in Egypt and in East Syria will the true faith remain, and the rest of the world will be occupied by the teaching of the devil. After a certain time, when the altars which are in Egypt have been destroyed, then the son of perdition will reveal himself to all the world and there will be misfortune in the world when he reveals himself
After these words he kept silent, and when the hour arrived to deliver his soul to God, he prayed in these terms, “ O God, my Saviour, help me in this hour of anguish; that those who come seeking my soul, to separate it from the body, may not frighten, and that those who test me (will judge me) may not come after me because even if I had been only one day on the earth, I would not be free from sin, and that those who guard paradise might not prevent me from entering. Those who come after me, Lord, are the spirits free from all sin, but me, I inhabit a body filled with sin. That those who have no sin may not be cruel to me, to me who, on the contrary, ……, that the river of fire which flows before you may not reach me. The guardians of the gate of your Grandeur may not prevent me, O Perfection, from reaching you. Make me worthy to adore your glory with uncovered face, without shame.
It is because of this hour, Lord, that I have endured sufferings, and I have not turned from the Orthodox faith; bright glory be to my ancestors and to those who nursed me with milk because I have fought for Orthodoxy and it is because of this that I am dying in exile”.
He spoke and gave up his soul to God at eleven at night on the fourth of the month of Elul (September). We buried his holy body with honour, accompanied by the songs of the Holy Spirit. We completed the sacrifice over him according to the rite and participated in the Holy Mysteries. We placed his holy body in a coffin and carried it to his city.
And two months after his death holy Peter sent me a letter, “Go, flee and hide yourself”. Because when the heretics learned of the death of our holy father Dioscorus the Patriarch, they told the Emperor that the silver and gold of the Church was hidden with me. I remembered the prophetic words of my father on this subject; a great peril will come to you. Immediately I went to the city of Pentapolis, there I hid myself, and wrote this history of our father Dioscorus, holy in all things, Archbishop of Alexandria.
I testify before God that I have written the truth, and you should believe, my brothers, that I have not written all the wonders, all the healings and all the miracles that God worked through the hands of this holy martyr for the truth because there are too many.
Lord God Almighty, help us and have pity on us, grant us a pleasant end and permit us to see you face to face on the day of right judgment, through the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and of this saint, and of all the saints. Amen.
May God give u the love and the patience to read it through to the end. Amen!!!
It is not somone like me, a wretched sinner, who has testified about the True Faith of Orthodox but all the True saints of God. Who should I follow and listen? I chose to listen to the early holy fathers. The Lord, God, said Himself..." Those who receive you, receive me and the Father who sent me. "
You said about loving others. Love has 2 big parts. The first is loving God. The second is loving all human beings who are created in the image of God.
How do u express ur love towards someone who is heretic? by telling him that he is no different with u? by collaborating in his wrong ways?
First of all if we r the same in everything we should have been gathering under the same Holy, One True, Apostolic Church.
They have deviated from the given Truth and went away. We remained holding the Truth by the grace of God, the blood of the holy martyrs, the writing of the holy fathers that
wars spiritually against the heretics.
These fathers have stated all the Truth in a clear statement. We, the Orthodox Christians
are given a holy heritage.
Now should we out of love teach the Truth to the world or say we are almost the same?
There is no almost or at least in expressing our True Faith.
Love tells the Truth. Love has the patience to teach the Truth. Love has the forgiveness to accept them back.
But in Love there is also Justice. The Justice to keep the word of God.
Our Church has never done anything out of the scripture. We have all the words of God to defend for anything we do in our Church. Who gave them the authority to rewrite what once been written by the holy fathers? Actually they are now editting the Holy Bible itself.
Please look at how many things they have changed. Why God has given us these if they are not necessary in the first place? all of a sudden God changes His plan of salvation?
He was the one who has established the first Church after His resurrecion in Anthioc.
He was the one who was defending all the heresy in these generations using His holy fathers.
Now what new thing has evolved? The prophesy has to be fulfilled that even the elect will lose their faith. He said " Many will come in my name and deceive many." Truly they all came calling His name, Jesus is Lord!!! but they destroyed everything He has established.
He gave us priests to be shepherds but they said we r all priests so we don't need any priest.
He gave us His real, life giving, His Body and Blood, Holy Communion but they said it is just for remembrance, a symbol.
He gave us real helpers in prayers and intercession, for us, sinners but they said they do not hear us, besides why don't we directly pray to Jesus?
He gave us commandments to be abide with and to keep them seriously. Faith without works is dead by itself. They said we r saved by faith only.
Who really has taught them all these things other than the devil?
We love them but will tell them also that they r wrong. If we r asked by God from where we have got what we hold, we present as an evidence, The Holy Bible, all the holy apostles, the early fathers of the Church, their whole writing.
If they r asked they bring Martin Luther and Calvin etc who has created their own theory rather than a true Faith.
So, let us know that we are different. Our difference is not to be proud of but to thank God that through all these tribulations He has kept our True Faith.
God as always has kept His word...
The gates of Hell shall not prevail against it
This is said about The Church of God, Orthodox, Apostolic Church.
May God be with us always with His holiest mother, holy angels and saints in mercy.
Asking questions about the Faith you hold cherished, is a great idea. I encourage you to study and review various issues that often envelop the Christian faith. Survey the evidence and scrutinize the various opposing worldviews that claim hierarchy over Christianity, in their annunciation of truth. You will undoubtedly find that the evidence is utterly and undissapointingly overwhelming.
By the same token, keep in mind that you will never extrapolate absolute evidence for any particular worldview that you hold. However, absolute evidence is not the same as sufficient evidence. The claim I have made is not that Christianity is inscrutable in terms of its truth claims, but that belief in it's claims corresponds with sufficient evidence for one to hold reasonable faith.
Blind faith is faith driven by an illogical leap into the field of personal and introspective emotions. However, reasonable faith is faith that is undergirded by evidence sufficient enough to convince but insufficient to aggressively and tyrannically compel. The differences between absolute and sufficient evidence mustn’t be conflated with one another. Furthermore, even in the absence of metaphysical or empirically verifiable evidence, the witness of the Spirit is evidence enough. So, that for all of the Christian believers who lack either the resources, time or health to investigate further and survey the evidence as thoroughly as we are, there is still justification in clutching to the beliefs that the Christian may hold. Christ calls the Spirit a personal witness, a "Comforter" that "reminds us of all things that He has spoken to us". In this sense, the Spirit acts as an agent of truth that constantly reaffirms our faith, through personal witness and the reminder of God’s grace that abundantly encircles our lives on a daily basis. Thus, one may proudly affirm his belief in the Christian doctrines even in the absence of evidence.
If you are interested in more resources for investigation, I would be happy to provide you with a list of books and key-note speakers on the particular subjects you may be grappling with.
In order to encourage and accept others who may be seeking to come closer to true Orthodoxy and understand it correctly we should welcome them and be more tolerant with our arms open. The Lord is acting in all hearts and many are starting to gradually rectify their faith.
Tolerance among believers in Christ the Son of God requires to be less hostile, less repulsive, not excessive nor yielding or compromising but peaceful and caring - without any deviation or change from the faith or following a wrong path and without twisting any facts, verses nor doctrine.
We do jealously stick to our faith forever with God's Grace but how can we successfully reach others?
You are right about loving others and it is truly Christian to be concerned with the fate of others beside us. Actually I am no person to answer u this big Q as to how to bring the lost back to the real Ship.
This is what I think...let us first be a True Orthodox both in name plus in life. Let us show them that we bear fruit better, sweeter than them. God is our sweetness b/c we hold His Truth and the fruits are our true saints, our good deeds. Let our light shines so that those who are darkned by illusion may be attracted to the light. It is true we have no light by ourselves. Jesus is our light. In this way The Holy Spirit will work in our lives.
We don't have to be in millions to be heard. God will work His work if we r faithful. One true follower of Christ can bring millions to the hands of God.
So the first step of saving others starts by building our base. All my fear is in order to save others we r losing our flavour. The first responsibilty of everyone is to save himself then only we will be strong enough for others.
We as an Orthodox have to honour our Church, our Liturgy, our saints, our songs, our traditions etc. Being urself is not about excluding others as long as what u r doing is given from the One True God.
First let us keep what is given to us. Make sure that we are real Orthodox Christians.
Then the aroma of The True Holy Spirit will attract not only protestants, catholics but also muslims, pagans in the name of Jesus. But if we have lost our flavour as God said for what use we will be for?
I know u can find many better answers for ur Q from others.
May God be with us all with His holiest mother, His holy angles, saints in mercy and love.