How to read the Holy Bible? – Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA

http://heavenonearthorthodoxy.wordpress.com

HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY

How to read the Holy Bible?

Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA

Several people have contacted me through email and even in person when I travel around and visit people who listen to Ancient Faith Radio. They ask me about reading the Bible. There’s all kinds of questions that are given to me that I get from people about reading the Bible. Some folks said, “You know, Fr. Tom, you ought to maybe speak on the radio very simply, very directly, offering whatever advice and counsel you would give to people, especially people who are not theologically trained but who are very much participating in Church life and very interested in the Holy Scripture and in the Bible and trying to understand it, if you would give some suggestions, very concrete suggestions, simple, concrete suggestions about Bible reading in the Orthodox tradition, in the Orthodox Church.”

How was the Bible read in the ancient Church? How is it read by the Church Fathers? How is it used in the Liturgy? How should we read it, today, now, in the 21st century? These are the questions that are asked, and so I’m going to just say a few things about that right now.

I would just like to comment, though, that it’s interesting for me, being an old guy, that the very first publication that I ever made in my entire life, way back in 1964, I believe it was… It’s a long time ago. I was a young priest, a very young priest, in my 20s, in Warren, Ohio, in my first parish. We had a deanery there of priests, and we used to publish little booklets. I was assigned to publish a booklet, to produce a booklet called “Reading the Bible.” In that booklet, my task was to convince Orthodox people that we ought to read the Bible, especially if we’re literate; if we’re not literate, we should like to know the Bible, hear the Bible, listen to it, listen to it read, listen to it in church; that the Bible is our book. It’s the book of our covenanted community with God, the Continue reading “How to read the Holy Bible? – Fr. Thomas Hopko, New York, USA”

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Sherie Mercier, USA: Called To Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith

http://usaofmyheart.wordpress.com

USA OF MY HEART

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Called To Orthodoxy

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith.

by

Sherie Mercier, Michigan, USA

Where do I begin? I was born and raised in St. Joseph, Michigan, on the shores of SW Lake Michigan – across the lake from Chicago, 61 years ago. My parents were not very religious, in fact, they attended a Methodist church in my hometown. The pastor was a medical doctor and eventually left the active ministry and set up shop as a General Family practitioner. My parents stopped attending church and after that I never remember them ever stepping into a church at all, even to this day. My mother is deceased but my father is still alive and I have never seen him enter a church.

So, eventually, around the age of 7 or so, I went to a Baptist church with my neighbors and continued to do so until my teenage years. I then set out to check different denominations, usually joining them, then leaving because something didn’t “feel right”. Of course, our home town had a huge Roman Catholic following, plus my maternal grandmother had been Roman Catholic herself.

I remember seeing statues of Mary and crucifixes. Our public school in that day followed the Roman Catholic system of meatless Fridays, usually fish sticks or mac and cheese. So, Continue reading “Sherie Mercier, USA: Called To Orthodoxy ╰⊰¸¸.•¨* A former Pentecostal minister and Independent Old Catholic Priest’s conversion story to the Orthodox faith”

Fr. David, New York, USA: From Protestant to Orthodox

http://conversionstoorthodoxy.wordpress.com

CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY

Fr. David, New York, USA: 

From Protestant to Orthodox

Source:

http://fromprotestanttoorthodox.blogspot.com

FROM PROTESTANT TO ORTHODOX

Monday, March 20, 2006

This will be the only post on this blog, and it’s for the sole purpose of sharing my testimony of how I converted from Evangelical Protestantism to the Eastern Orthodox Church. After the text of the testimony, there are two appendices: the first is a breakdown of the earliest bishops in the Christian Church and their beliefs, and the second is a brief defense addressing from Scripture certain issues Evangelicals have with Orthodoxy. Enjoy.

”If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. The old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” II Cor. 5:17

BEGINNINGS

When I talk with people “who knew me when”—during my first twenty years of life as an Evangelical Protestant—I usually am met with a variety of reactions when I tell them that, in the middle of my time at one of the nation’s foremost charismatic universities, I decided to convert to the Eastern Orthodox Church. Some are offended, as though I were rejecting everything I’d been taught to believe as a good Protestant; others react with genuine, open curiosity, since the Orthodox Church is still relatively unknown to many Americans; still others react with dismay, convinced that I’ve traded in biblical, relationship-based Christianity for the rules and regulations of the Pharisees, the exotic “smells and bells” of Orthodoxy’s “foreignness,” and the off-base traditions of men that only serve to take a soul away from a true, unadulterated relationship with Jesus Christ. It is my hope that this essay will help to shed light on the issues that were central to my conversion, as well as provide insight both to those who are thinking about converting to Orthodoxy and to those who have a loved one on the way into (or already in) the Orthodox Church and are concerned for their spiritual well-being. The Orthodox Church has been, for me, the ultimate revelation of what it means to be “in Christ”; my upbringing in Evangelical Protestantism has not only helped me appreciate this now, but was very much preparing me for this all along [1].

My childhood was one of sharp contrasts between my mother’s and father’s homes—they divorced when I was an infant—for while my mother (with whom I spent most of my time growing up) was devoutly religious and marked the week with several outings to Church, my weekends spent with my father were quite devoid of any religious observance. This is not to say that my mother was a saint and my father a horrible person; I thank God for both of the loving, morally sound parents He gave me, and I feel the debt of gratitude that any child raised by good parents (even separately) feels upon reaching adulthood. Since, however, my religious environment was shaped almost completely by my mother’s influence, we’ll begin there.

My mother became a Christian around the time I was born, and was extremely devout and passionate about knowing God through reading the Scriptures. From the time I could understand what was going on, my mother and I read a chapter out of the Bible each night, almost without fail. My mother made it clear to me that this Bible was “God’s book,” and that in it He told us the story of His Son, Jesus, and how we could be forgiven of all our sins. It’s perhaps not surprising that a small child would believe all this unquestioningly. What was surprising was how naturally I took to Scripture memorization and things having to do with Church, worship, etc. From the most impressionable years onward, I was given the steady example of a person who knew that, if God had Continue reading “Fr. David, New York, USA: From Protestant to Orthodox”

Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915) on the Episcopalians

http://protestantsmetorthodoxy.wordpress.com

PROTESTANTS MET ORTHODOXY

Saint Raphael of Brooklyn on the Episcopalians

Today being the ninety-eighth anniversary of the repose of St. Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915), here is a pastoral letter he sent out in 1912 regarding relations with the Episcopal Church, mostly likely written on his behalf by Fr. Ingram Nathaniel Irvine. Thanks to Fr. Joseph Huneycutt of Houston for posting it today.

* * *

To My Beloved Clergy and Laity of the Syrian Greek-Orthodox Catholic Church in North America:

Greetings in Christ Jesus, Our Incarnate Lord and God.

My Beloved Brethren:

Two years ago, while I was a Vice-President and member of the Anglican and Eastern Orthodox Churches Union, being moved with compassion for my children in the Holy Orthodox faith “once and for all delivered to the Saints” (St Jude ver. 3), scattered throughout the whole of North America and deprived of the ministrations of the Church; and especially in places far removed from Orthodox centres; and being equally moved with a feeling that the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) Church possessed largely the Orthodox faith, as many prominent clergy professed the same to me before I studied deeply their doctrinal authorities and their liturgy — the “Book of Common Prayer” — I wrote a letter as the Bishop and Head of the Syrian Catholic Mission in North America, giving permission, in which I said that in extreme cases, where no Orthodox priest could be called upon at short notice, the ministrations of the Protestant Episcopal (Anglican) clergy might be kindly asked. However, I was most explicit in defining when and how the ministrations should be accepted, and also what exceptions should be made. In writing that letter I hoped, on the Continue reading “Saint Raphael of Brooklyn (+1915) on the Episcopalians”

Which Came First: New Testament or the Church? – Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA

http://orthodoxweb.blogspot.com

ORTHODOX WEB

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Which Came First: New Testament or the Church?

by Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA

Source:

http://journeytoorthodoxy.com

Which Came First: New Testament or the Church?

JOURNEY TO ORTHODOXY

A convert to Christianity from Judaism, Fr. James was a teenage chess champion whose dramatic conversion experience at the age of 16 led him to Christianity, and is also one of the founders of Jews For Jesus. His journey led him directly to the Orthodox Christian faith, and his journey is recounted in his book “Surprised By Christ,” the story of a man searching for the truth and unable to rest until he finds it. He is the priest at St. Paul Church in Brier, WA.

╰⊰¸¸.•¨*

As a Jewish convert to Christ via evangelical Protestantism, I naturally wanted to know God better through the reading of the Scriptures. In fact, it had been through reading the Gospels in the “forbidden book” called the New Testament, at age sixteen, that I had come to believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and our promised Messiah. In my early years as a Christian, much of my religious education came from private Bible reading.

By the time I entered college, I had a pocket-sized version of the whole Bible that was my constant companion. I would commit favorite passages from the Scriptures to memory, and often quote them to myself in times of temptation-or to others as I sought to convince them of Christ. The Bible became for me-as it is to this day-the most important book in print. I can say from my heart with Saint Paul the Apostle,

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

That’s the good news!

The bad news is that often I would decide for myself what the Scriptures meant. For example, I became so enthusiastic about knowing Jesus as my close and personal friend that I thought my own awareness of Him was all I needed. So I would mark verses aboutJesus with my yellow highlighter, but pass over passages concerning God the Father, or the Church, or baptism. I saw the Bible as a heavenly instruction manual. I didn’t think I needed the Church, except as a good place to make friends or to leans more about the Bible so I could be a better do-it-yourself Christian. I came to think that I could build my life, and the Church, by the Book. I mean, I took sola scriptura (“only the Bible”) seriously! Salvation history was clear to me: God sent His Son, together they sent the Holy Spirit, then came the New Testament to explain salvation, and finally the Church developed.

Close, maybe, but not close enough.

Let me hasten to say that the Bible is all God intends it to be. No problem with the Bible. The problem lay in the way I individualized it, subjecting it to my own personal interpretations-some not so bad, others not so good.

A STRUGGLE FOR UNDERSTANDING

It was not long after my conversion to Christianity that I found myself getting swept up in the tide of religious sectarianism, in which Christians would part ways over one issue after another. It seemed, for instance, that there were as many opinions on the Second Coming as there were people in the discussion. So we’d all appeal to the Scriptures.

“I believe in the Bible. If it’s not in the Bible I don’t believe it,”

became my war cry.

What I did not realize was that everyone else was saying the same thing! It was not the Bible, but each one’s private interpretation of it, that became our ultimate authority. In an age which highly exalts independence of thought and self-reliance, I was becoming my own pope! The guidelines I used in interpreting Scripture seemed simple enough: When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense. I believed that those who were truly faithful and honest in following this principle would achieve Christian unity.

To my surprise, this “common sense” approach led not to increased Christian clarity and unity, but rather to a spiritual free-for-all!

Those who most strongly adhered to believing “only the Bible” tended to become the, most factious, divisive, and combative of Christians-perhaps unintentionally. In fact, it seemed to me that the more one held to the Bible as Continue reading “Which Came First: New Testament or the Church? – Fr. James Bernstein, WA, USA”

π. James Bernstein, ΗΠΑ – Ο γιος του Ραβίνου που από Προτεστάντης έγινε Ιερέας της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας

http://orthodoxyofmyheart.wordpress.com

ORTHODOXY OF MY HEART

π. James Bernstein, ΗΠΑ – Ο γιος του Ραβίνου που από Προτεστάντης έγινε Ιερέας της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας

Η συγκλονιστική ιστορία της ζωής του Εβραίου π. James Bernstein, που έπειτα από πολλές αναζητήσεις βρήκε τον δρόμο του Θεού και σήμερα είναι Κληρικός στην Ενορία του Αγίου Παύλου, κοντά στο Seattle της Washington των ΗΠΑ.

H ζωή του π. James Bernstein, ενός Ορθόδοξου Κληρικού της Μητρόπολης Βορείου Αμερικής, του Πατριαρχείου Αντιοχείας, θα μπορούσε να αποτελεί χωρίς κανέναν ενδοιασμό ιδανικό σενάριο κινηματογραφικής ταινίας.

Ο ίδιος, μεγαλωμένος στην Αμερική και γαλουχημένος με τις Εβραϊκές παραδόσεις, πέρασε από ατέλειωτα σκαμπανεβάσματα και πολλές διακυμάνσεις, ώστε, τελικά, βρήκε τις απαντήσειςσε όλα τα υπαρξιακά ερωτήματά του στην Ορθόδοξη Πίστη.

Ο πατέρας του, ο Ισαάκ, γεννήθηκε στις αρχές του 20ού αιώνα, συγκεκριμένα το 1909, στην Αγία Γη, στην παλιά πόλη της Ιερουσαλήμ, όπου και ανδρώθηκε ακολουθώντας την Ιουδαϊκή θρησκεία. Μάλιστα, θέλησε να αφιερωθεί και να γίνει Ραβίνος.

Το 1941 και ενώ ήταν σε εξέλιξη ο Β΄ Παγκόσμιος Πόλεμος ο ραβίνος και η σύζυγός του, μαζί με τα παιδιά τους, αποφάσισαν να πάρουν τον δρόμο της προσφυγιάς. Διάλεξαν το τελευταίο πλοίο, που είχε προορισμό την Αμερική, και ταξίδεψαν μέσω της Αιγύπτου και της νότιας οδού της Αφρικής, καθώς στη Μεσόγειο και στον Continue reading “π. James Bernstein, ΗΠΑ – Ο γιος του Ραβίνου που από Προτεστάντης έγινε Ιερέας της Ορθόδοξης Εκκλησίας”