31 December 2011

BCS Bowl Madness (and an easy fix)!

The system is beyond broken. Some teams in the top 10 are not even in a bowl game this year (like #5 Southern Cal)! Everyone, including the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama agrees, it is time for a playoff system in NCAA College 1-A American Football.

Here is an easy solution using the classic bowls in their historical ranks without letting the Fiesta Bowl trump the Cotton Bowl which was a stupid decision based on money, just like all college football decisions these days.

There are currently 12 Division 1-A conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big East, Big 10, Conference USA, IA Independents, Mid-American, Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC, Sun Belt, WAC), so I would recommend allowing for 4 wild cards to make a Super 16 for a proper playoff system. Here is how I would do it (without naming which conference plays where, because that does not really even matter. Let the conferences decide a rival conference for the system just like teams have conferences (i.e. Big 10 is the rival conference of the Big 12).
First the Western Bowls:
  • 2 play (1 is a wildcard) in the Holiday Bowl (San Francisco, CA)
  • 2 play in the Fiesta Bowl (Scottsdale, AZ)
  • The winners of these 2 Bowl Games play in the Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA) 
    • 2 play in the Sun Bowl (El Paso, TX)
    • 2 play (1 is a wildcard) in the Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
    • The winners of these 2 Bowl Games play in the Cotton Bowl (Dallas, TX)
    The winners of these two Western Bowl Games (Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl) meet in the BCS West Bowl Game. (Maybe play it in Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE and call it the Corn Bowl or the Cereal Bowl). 
    Now for the Eastern Bowls:
    • 2 play in the Peach Bowl (Atlanta, GA)
    • 2 play (1 is a wildcard) in the Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL)
    • The winners of these 2 Bowl Games play in the Orange Bowl (Miami, FL) 
      • 2 play in the Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
      • 2 play (1 is a wildcard) in the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA)
      • The winners of these 2 Bowl Games play in the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans, LA)
      The winners of these two Eastern Bowl Games (Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl) meet in the BCS East Bowl Game (Maybe play it in Lambeau Field/City Stadium in Green Bay, WI and call it the Cheese Bowl or the Chili Bowl).
      The winners of the BCS West Bowl and the BCS East Bowl meet in the National Bowl Game/BCS Championship Bowl Game in a fitting location such as either New York, New York or Washington, D.C..
      All the games before the semi-finals and the Championship game are in more temperate southern states with San Francisco being the northernmost bowl, so it makes sense to have the semi-finals and Championship game in the colder, windier north in non-domed stadiums in major football cities for a different feel.You could still have all those other minor corporate bowl games for the teams ranked #17 to #120 with the opponents based solely on how much money they will get by inviting certain teams, just like now. There, this is the BCS fixed. How hard was that?

      One last thing... Happy New Year 2012 A.D.!

      27 December 2011

      The Green Bay Packers and their history as a Christian Faith-based Team

      If anyone knows the history of the Green Bay Packers, they will know that there has been a religious history with it. Recently, Coach McCarthy showed it continues today.

      When asked in a recent Tuesdays with McCarthy, "What’s something you always tell your team before they go out on the field?"

      He responded, "...The last thing I say to the team is a prayer that highlights scripture from the Bible that’s representative of our theme for the week. After the Bible verse, we say the Lord’s Prayer..."

      Some more prominent interesting Christian team history includes the following:
      The team’s founder, Earl “Curly” Lambeau, came from a devout Catholic family, whose life centered upon the Norbertine St. Willebrord Church in downtown Green Bay. 
      In Super Bowl I and II, it was quarterback Bart Starr and coach Vince Lombardi who provided spiritual leadership for the team. “God first, family second, and then football,” was Lombardi’s self-proclaimed priority list. Named MVP in both Super Bowl I and II, Bart Starr acknowledged that, “Regardless of the success that I have experienced, if my life does not exhibit God’s love, it becomes less meaningful.” 
      Each day on his way to work for the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi would stop at St. Willebrord for daily mass and "offer a prayer in case of unexpected death: 'My God, if I am to die today, or suddenly at any time, I wish to receive this Communion as my viaticum...'". On the morning of the dedication of Lombardi Avenue, Lombardi remarked, to his 37 member entourage, he was pleased to have gotten them all up to attend morning mass. 
      Things began to change under Mike Sherman’s tenure as head coach. Sherman saw the value of having one permanent chaplain with whom players could build a trusting relationship, because he saw that their spiritual needs required more than Sunday Mass. 
      For years the team had offered Catholic Mass and a non-denominational chapel service at the same time—4 ½ hours before kickoff—in separate rooms. Coach McCarthy has changed that, with Mass still before the game but chapel the night before. McCarthy did this so he can attend both services every week. The coach wants to hear everything that is presented to his players, so he can incorporate all of these spiritual messages in directing the team. It is just another indicator of the Packers’ spiritual legacy and dedication to their players’ overall well-being. 
      Famous Green Bay Packer, Reggie White, was known for his Christian ministry as an ordained Evangelical minister, leading to his nickname, "The Minister of Defense."

      Shortly after the conclusion of this year’s Super Bowl game, FOX TV newscaster, Pam Oliver asked Packer wide receiver, Greg Jennings, to describe his feelings at winning the Super Bowl. Jennings immediately exclaimed: “To God be the glory,” sentiments echoed by Packer teammate, James Jones as well. Other Packers, including Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett, Brandon Jackson, James Starks and kicker Mason Crosby, joined in the Godly tribute, freely acknowledging their faith in Jesus Christ. 
      As the newly ordained, “Leader of the Pack,” Aaron Rodgers not only recognizes the opportunity he has to be an influence in the lives of others, he wholeheartedly welcomes the opportunity. “I try to follow what Jesus did, lead by example,” said Rodgers. “If people see Christ’s influence in my life, hopefully it will have an influence in theirs.”

      18 December 2011

      The 5 Points of Calvinism: The Reformed Doctrines of Doom & Gloom (TULIP)

      The First Point [U]

      The first side (the positive spin) of the first point of Calvinism is that if God has chosen you for salvation He did so unconditionally. You do not have to believe to become chosen for salvation but you were chosen and created for salvation and so you believe as a result of being elected and created for salvation.

      The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the first point is that if God has not chosen you for salvation, – meaning He has chosen you for damnation – He did so unconditionally. You were chosen, decreed, and created for damnation. You cannot believe and are therefore damned for your unbelief because this is according to god’s sovereign will and for His glory and good pleasure.

      The Second Point [T]

      The first side (the positive spin) of the second point of Calvinism is that if you, before the foundation of the earth, are one of those unconditionally elected for salvation you will one day (in this life) inevitably be born again before the final judgment. When you are born again you will be given a new nature. As your old nature was an unbelieving nature so your new nature will be a believing nature. Here is how it unfolds. As a new born child of God you will (as a result of your new birth) believe in Jesus Christ. Because (and when) you believe in Jesus Christ you will be declared righteous and be guaranteed a place of the other chosen few among the resurrection of the just-and at that time glorified for all eternity.

      The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the second point is that if you are not one of the unconditionally elect, you will not and cannot born again. Here is how it unfolds. Because you are not elect, you will never be born again but will forever be stuck with your predestined unbelieving nature – you will not and cannot believe in Jesus Christ. Because you cannot believe in Jesus Christ in your unregenerate condition, you will not be justified. If you are not justified you will eventually be raised with the other unconditionally predestined unjust, and finally be sentenced to everlasting shame and torment. This to is according to god’s sovereign will and good pleasure.

      The Third Point [L]

      The first side (the positive spin) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were unconditionally chosen and created for salvation, Christ died for your sins so that the eternal decree for salvation would have an historical provision for salvation.

      The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the third point of Calvinism is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning you were chosen and created for damnation- Christ did not die for your sins because an eternal decree for damnation needs no historical provision for salvation.

      [But it is okay in one way, because you can go to Church and hear Calvinists preach and say that the Gospel is a “well meant offer” to you, even though it will never change your un-elect status, but it will sound nice to you. In fact, it even deceives some of the reprobate into falsely thinking they are elect !]

      The Fourth Point [I]

      The first side (the positive spin) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, God will irresistibly draw or efficaciously call you (applying saving grace to your life and circumstance) to Himself, first giving you a new life, which in turn brings with it a new nature, which is a believing nature, resulting in your certain and immediate justification and eventual and everlasting glorification.

      The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the fourth doctrine is that if you were not chosen and created for salvation-meaning that you were chosen and created for damnation-you will not be irresistibly drawn, efficaciously called, and no saving grace will be extended to you, which means you will not and cannot be born again, which in turn means you cannot have faith in Christ and thereby be justified in this life or ultimately glorified in the next life. Instead you will suffer the torments of the everlasting lake of fire in accordance with the sovereign will of god because this is according to His good pleasure.

      The Fifth Point [P]

      The first side (the positive spin) of the fifth point of Calvinism is that if you were chosen and created for salvation, the new nature you receive when you are born again, and the saving faith that comes with that new nature, and the justification that immediately follows faith insures that you will live (however imperfectly) a sanctified, holy, or righteous life in faith (practically speaking) for the most part, from the time of your regeneration until the time of your glorification. This perseverance in sanctification, holiness, or righteousness in faith, while not perfect is inevitable for the truly born again and will be to the end of this life for the elect. It is not as though the elect should not fail to persevere (for the most part) but they cannot do so. If therefore a person appeared to be a saint earlier in life, but failed to persevere in faith and righteousness until the end of life, it proves he was never a saint or never born again, never had faith in Christ, and never had a holy and righteous life in faith to persevere in.

      The second side (the negative or doom and gloom side) of the third point is that if you are not elect and created for salvation-meaning you are elect and chosen for damnation-you cannot be born again, have faith in Christ, live a holy or righteous life in faith for even one day, much less to the end of your life. Because God is sovereign and can do as He pleases with His creatures, God is free to mislead a person into thinking they are one of the elect, help them live much like the elect, but at the judgment reveal that they were convinced by God that they were one of the elect even though they were not. No matter how convinced someone is in thinking he is one of the elect, assurance of salvation and eternal life is impossible to secure. How could anyone know for certain that they will persevere to the end proving they were elect without actually having persevered to the end.

      After many years (actually decades) of studying the Calvinist doctrines of grace, I am convinced that the best refutation of the five points of Calvinism is an accurate and honest explanation of the five points of Calvinism.

      Unfortunately most new converts to Calvinism are not aware of the flip side to the five points of Calvinism early on. Those who introduce Calvinism to the non-Calvinist believe that the new believer is not ready for the meatier stuff of Reformed theology. That, they say, should come only later when they can handle it. They reason that the positive spin of each point is like simple arithmetic. The negative side is more like algebra or some other more complicated, difficult and higher form of math.

      The truth is this; the negative side is not more difficult to understand for the new convert to Calvinism, it is more difficult to accept. The positive spin seems more palatable whereas the negative side is difficult to swallow and some even choke on it. Full disclosure, early on and sometimes even later on, is a major hindrance to those committed to winning the non-Calvinist over to Calvinism. Admittedly, sometimes proponents of Calvinism do not lay it all out on the table because they themselves have not turned the coin over to see what is on the other side. Sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they deny it. They are on the Reformed road and are trying to get others to join them. However, they have not gone very far and sometimes do not choose to go but a few blocks down the Reformed road.

      Some would like to believe that each of the five points of Calvinism are only five points of grace. It is too much (for them) to think that these five points also represent a very hard and harsh message of doom and gloom.

      25 November 2011

      Be Not of This World: Love of the World is Hatred of God

      Continued from http://orthodoxscouter.blogspot.com/2010/11/blessing-from-god-are-not-of-this-world.html
      (1 John 2:15-17)Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 不要爱世界和世界上的事。人若爱世界,爱父的心就不在他里面了。
      For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 因为凡世界上的事,就像肉体的情欲,眼目的情欲,并今生的骄傲,都不是从父来的,乃是从世界来的。
      And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. 这世界和其上的情欲都要过去,惟独遵行神旨意的,是永远常存。 
      (James 4:4)Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 你们这些淫乱的人(原文作淫妇)哪,岂不知与世俗为友就是与神为敌吗?所以凡想要与世俗为友的,就是与神为敌了。 
      (Romans 12:1-2)I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 所以弟兄们,我以神的慈悲劝你们,将身体献上,当作活祭,是圣洁的,是神所喜悦的;你们如此事奉乃是理所当然的。
      And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 不要效法这个世界,只要心意更新而变化,叫你们察验何为神的善良、纯全、可喜悦的旨意。 
      (John 5:18-19)If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.「世人若恨你们,你们知道(或作:该知道),恨你们以先已经恨我了。
      If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 你们若属世界,世界必爱属自己的;只因你们不属世界,乃是我从世界中拣选了你们,所以世界就恨你们。

      12 November 2011

      Ancient Jewish Icons

      Ancient Jewish synagogues were filled with icons. While Scripture required the inside of the Jerusalem Temple to display icons of angels, the icons in Jewish synagogues depicted numerous scenes from Scripture, including:
      Dura Europos Synagogue ~ 244 A.D.
      Dura Europos Synagogue ~ 244 A.D.
      The Early Church emerged from Israel, and we inherited the Israelite’s ancient love for icons.  Like the early Jewish synagogues, the catacombs and the most ancient Christian Churches were filled with holy icons.

      08 November 2011

      "The Antichrist" by The Very Reverend Archpriest Boris Molchanoff

      The Lord Jesus Christ said, "....I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (St. Matthew 16:18). What do the gates of hell signify?
      The Jews had the custom of gathering under the leadership of their elders, by the city gates, for the discussion of political, legal and social questions. These meetings were the last appeal of all litigation, and here all divine commandments were announced. They were vested with a definite authority among the people. This Jewish custom of meeting at the city gates is mentioned in the Book of Ruth (IV:1,11). A description of an active wife in the Book of Proverbs (31: 23) says that, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land." He is invested with the trust of society and takes an active part in important meetings. (Prof. V.V. Bolotoff).

      The "gates" of hell" signifies not only the forces of hell, but in general staff of Hell's power. Their most important meeting is dedicated to developing a plan for a general battle with the Church. The Church and Hell are represented as two warring powers. And in this war with Hell, according to Christ's words, the Church will remain invincible.

      Hell's war plan with the Church is called the "Mystery of Iniquity" in the Holy Scriptures (2 Thessalonians 2:8). The iniquity has been working for centuries and will have its culmination in the appearance of the Antichrist ( 2 Thessalonians 2:8). The Antichrist can come only as a result of universal Apostasy, that is, the abjuration of the people from God and His paths, when God's grace will withdraw from the people.
      "And in the latter times of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up." (Daniel 8:23)
      "Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders...." (2 Thessalonians 2:9)
      All of the evil in its fullest strength which human nature can accept and endure will be concentrated in the person of the Antichrist. Thousands of years were required to develop and perfect the kind of human seed that was required to receive the purest most perfect Fruit of the human tree in the person of the Most Blessed Virgin. Comparably, for the appearance of the most depraved fruit, capable of containing within itself all Satanic malice, an entire line of human generations will be demanded in the direction of greatest corruption and defilement of human nature, based upon mad hatred towards Christ and war against His Church. "It can be admitted," says Pro. Belyaeff, "that innate and acquired evil, gradually accumulating in a long line of ancestors of the Antichrist, transmitted with each new generation, will reach such a degree of force in the Antichrist himself, which human nature is capable of containing, revealing and enduring. The evil which lives in mankind, will reach the highest limit of its development in him." (Godlessness And The Antichrist, Vol. 1. p. 193).

      Of course, to the degree that evil strengthens in man's will, diabolic activity within man will increase also, as the devil thus receives greater access to man's soul. Inasmuch as the Antichrist's personal evil will and its corruption will reach the limit of its greatest growth, the relationship of the devil to him will reach the limit of maximum nearness, which will be expressed in the devil himself continuously acting in the person of the Antichrist, "God", says St. John of Damascus, "Foreseeing future depravity of his will (the Antichrist's) will allow the devil to inhabit him." ("The Exact Exposition Of The Orthodox Faith", Book IV, Chapter 26) St. Cyril of Jerusalem teaches the same. (Teaching, V. 14). St. Andrew of Kessary says that the Antichrist "will come out of the gloomiest and remotest lands of the earth to which the devil is banished." (Interpretation of the 11th chapter of the Apocalypse, 30th chapter.) Blessed Theodore writes, "Man's enemy, clothed in human nature, God's adversary, the demon, usurping God's Name, will appear in the world before Christ's coming." ("An Exact Exposition Of Divine Dogma", chapter 23, printed in "Christian Readings", 1844, Chapter IV, page 355.) Laktancy, Gezihy of Jerusalem and Blessed Heronim, call the Antichrist the son of Satan.

      In agreement with such teachings of the Holy Fathers, the life of the Antichrist cannot admit one moment free from satanic action. It must already appear in the very birth and even in his conception, peculiar and exceptional in its depravity. "From a defiled virgin will actually be born his (the devil's) weapon." says St. Ephrem the Syrian. This is also confirmed by St. John of Damascus. "A man (the Antichrist) will be born from fornication."

      The Holy Fathers Iriney ("Against Heresy", Book V, chapter 30), Ippolit (Legends about Christ and the Antichrist), and also Ilariy, Ambrose, Ieronim and Augustus, remark that the Antichrist will be of Jewish ancestry, from the tribe of Dan.

      In the Synaksare, stated in the Week of Lent without meat, we read that, "The Antichrist will come and be born, as St. Ippolit of Rome declares, from a depraved wife and self-styled virgin, which is from the Jews, from the tribe of Dan." (Lenten Triod) Such indications in God's Word have several foundations:
      • In the prophecies of Patriarch Jacob about each of his sons becoming the progenitors of the tribes of Israel, the fate of Dan's ancestors is depicted in such a way that can only be ascribed to the Antichrist. "Dan shall be a serpent on the way, an adder in the path..." (Genesis 49, 17)
      • In the prophecies of Ierenim: "From Dan himself...(Ierenim VIII,16)
      • In the prophecies of the Apocalypse, enumerating the remainder of all the tribes of Israel, marked by the Angel for salvation, the tribe of Dan is absolutely excluded. (Revelations VII, 4-8).
      • According to the teachings of the Holy Fathers, the devil, exalting the Antichrist, will try to vest his coming with all the signs of the coming of the Son of God to earth. (See St. Cyril of Jerusalem, the 150th catechistic word; St. Ephrem the Syrian, the 39th word, in the Russian translation Blessed Theodore, "A Short Exposition of Divine Dogma", Chapter 23, St. Ippolit, "The Legends of Christ and the Antichrist")
      Of course, some resemblance of the Antichrist to Christ will only be external and in essence deceitful, for the whole life and all the deeds of the Antichrist will be an incensed and blasphemous revolt against Christ and His Church. This false external resemblance to Christ will appear in the very birth of the Antichrist. Keeping in mind that Christ was born a Virgin, the devil will produce his weapon from a virgin, not from a pure virgin, however, but from one filled with every vice and satanic filth. Then, as the Lord until he was thirty years old remained in obscurity, so the Antichrist, we assume, will, until the age of 30, remain in clandestine solitude and obscurity. As Christ began His saving service with sermons of His Divine teaching and miracles, so will the Antichrist begin his completely destructive service with the delusion of the people with his false teaching and incredibly shameful, deceitful miracles. As it was pleasing for the Lord to reveal Himself to all the people as the Messiah by solemnly entering Jerusalem and into its Temple, so the Antichrist will reveal himself as the false Jewish Messiah, the international monarch, in him solemn ceremonial entrance into Jerusalem and his enthronement in the temple of Jerusalem, which will by that time be restored.

      The Lord's entry into Jerusalem, says Archbishop Innokenty of Herson, was "for all Jews a national declaration that Jesus Christ was veritably the Messiah. Indisputable proof of this are His own words, proclaimed before the gates of Jerusalem, saying: "If thou hadst known, even now, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace: But now they are hid from thine eyes." (Luke XIX, 42.) "With this day, with the rejection of the Messiah, the fate of the Israelite nation was decided for eternity." (The Last Days on Earth of Jesus Christ")

      On the day when the Antichrist shall enter into Jerusalem as the false Messiah, forever and irrevocably the fate of his contemporaries will be decided. Blessed are those who, on the last day given by God for the conclusive self-determination of the people, will see the Antichrist as Satan's servant and the inescapable peril of all mankind which recognized him. Finally, as the Lord revealed Himself to the world and fulfilled His service as a Prophet, as King and as High Priest, so will the Antichrist concentrate all this triple power in his hands and complete his destructive service as the teacher of all mankind, as the monarch of an international monarchy and as the highest primate of all religions, demanding reverence for himself as God.

      The entire life and activity of the Antichrist may be examined in three periods:

      The FIRST PERIOD of the Antichrist from the day of birth to the moment of his social appearance will pass in clandestine obscurity. St. John of Damascus says that, "Antichrist will be raised secretly." (The Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith", Book IV, Chapter 26.)

      The SECOND PERIOD of the Antichrist's life will be opened by his thunderous entry on the world stage in the role of a universal teacher or "prophet". It is very possible that he will begin his activity during a world war, when people, enduring all its horrors, will not see any way out of the calamitous dead end. All the concealed levers for the solution will be in the hands of a secret society assisting the Antichrist.

      The Antichrist will offer the most successful project for solving the world crisis from the perspective of political and social wisdom, which would establish a uniform political and social order in the whole world. Exhausted from the shock of war, spiritually blinded humanity will not only by unaware that this project is a cowardly trap, enticing it into the most degrading and merciless slavery, but on the contrary, will recognize it as a manifestation of scholarship and genius.

      Universal advertisement about the Antichrist as a brilliant thinker, new leader, and savior of mankind, will thunder over all nations in the shortest possible period of time. "Evil spirits dispersed in the universe, will awaken a general, inflated opinion about the Antichrist in man, a general enthusiasm and an irresistible attraction for him." (St. Ephraim the Syrian, 16th word.)

      In this period of his activity, the Antichrist will not use any force and will try to win men's trust and affection with his deceitful and hypocritical public mask of virtue. He, according to the expression of Vladimir Soloviev, "will throw a gleaming veil of kindness and truth over the mystery of iniquity." "He will come," said St. Ephrem the Syrian, "in an image which will seduce everyone. He will come as a humble, kind, hater of falsehood (as he will say about himself), rejecting idols, preferring piety and kindness, loving the poor, bearing extremely handsome features, constant, sweet to everyone, respecting especially the Jewish nation because they will be awaiting his coming...He will take sly measures to please everyone, will not accept gifts nor speak in anger, will not show an overcast countenance, but will entice the world with a decorous exterior until he is enthroned." (See previous citation.)

      From the great wealth of ascetical experience from our great men of podvig, it is known that when the black devil cannot overcome an ascetic, encountering unswerving opposition from him, a stronger devil comes as an "angel of light" (II Corinthians, XI, 14), attempting to awaken sympathy and trust towards himself in the ascetic, and easily charming him away to destruction. Thus, we can imagine how easily and quickly the bright image of the Antichrist will attract general sympathy towards itself after the filthy devil of Bolshevism.

      As a result of such deceit, "the need to invite the Antichrist will arise" within the very temperament of man's spirit. "A beckoning voice will resound in man's society, expressing urgent need for a genius of geniuses, who would raise material development and prosperity to the highest degree and establish affluence on earth". (Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninoff. Vol IV, page 313.)

      The hypocrisy of the Antichrist in this period will reach the point that he, even in his relationship to Christians, will not oppose them, but will appear ready to be their benefactor. He will try to imitate Christ in the external, showy side of his life. The majority of Christians, not guided by the spiritual wisdom of the Church, but by worldly wisdom, will not see this deceit, recognizing the Antichrist as Christ who has come to earth a second time. The monks of the Solovetsky monastery pass on the answer given by Righteous Zosima to his disciples when he was asked how the Antichrist could be recognized. Righteous Zosima said, "When you will hear that Christ has appeared on earth, know then that this is the Antichrist." This answer is most precise. "The world or mankind will not recognize the Antichrist, it will recognize him as Christ, it will proclaim him Christ.....


      07 November 2011

      Holy Scriptural References to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed by The Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes

      The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed is used in the Eastern Orthodox Church, or simply known as the Nicene Creed. This Creed, the “Symbol of Faith” and confessed in many of the services of the church, is also known as the ‘Pistevo’ (I Believe). The Pistevo contains all of the dogmatic truths of our Church that are necessary for our salvation.

      The Nicene Creed was formulated at the First Ecumenical Council or Synod in the city of Nicea, Asia Minor, in 325 A.D. The decisions of the First Ecumenical Synod gave us the largest part of our Creed of Faith, its first seven articles. In later years the Second Ecumenical Council – Synod took place in Constantinople, in 381, with its decisions, completed the Creed, adding the last five articles, and has been recognized since then as the authoritative expression of the unchanged fundamental beliefs of the Orthodox Church.

      The Orthodox Church gave us the Sacred Creed of Faith. This Creed which was prepared with great wisdom and prudence, as well as with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contains our Orthodox beliefs in a few, concise words.
      “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Churches” (Revelation 2:7)
      There are 12 articles included in the Nicene Creed which define the most important doctrines (dogmas) of our faith in the following order:
      • Article 1 - God the Father.
      • Articles 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 - The Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ
      • Article 8 – The Church
      • Article 10 – Holy Baptism
      • Article 11 – The Resurrection of the dead.
      • Article 12 – The Second Coming, or Judgment Day.
      I would like to present to you references from Holy Scripture to the Nicene Creed:
      I believe in (Romans 10: 8-10; 1 John 4: 15)
      One God (Deuteronomy 6: 4, Ephesians 4: 6)
      Father (Matthew 6: 9)
      Almighty, (Exodus 6: 3)
      Creator of heaven and earth, (Genesis 1: 1)
      and of all things visible and invisible; (Colossians 1: 15-16) and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, (Acts 11: 17)
      Son of God (Matthew 14: 33; 16: 16)
      begotten (John 1: 18; 3: 16)
      begotten of the Father before all ages; (John 1: 2)
      Light of Light (Psalm 27: I; John 8: 12; Matthew 17: 2,5)
      true God of true God, (John 17: 1-5)
      of one essence with the Father, (John 10: 30)
      through Whom all things were made; (Hebrews 1: 1-2)
      Who for us and for our salvation (I Timothy 2: 4-5)
      came down from the heavens ((John 6: 33,35)
      and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1: 35)
      and became man. (John 1: 14)
      Crucified for us (Mark 15: 25; I Corinthians 15: 3)
      under Pontius Pilate, (John 1: 14)
      He suffered, (Mark 8: 31)
      and was buried; (Luke 23: 53; I Corinthians 15: 4)
      Rising on the third day according to the Scriptures, (Luke 24: 1; 1 Cor. 15: 4)
      And ascending into the heavens, (Luke 24: 51; Acts 1: 10)
      He is seated at the right hand of the Father; (Mark 16: 19; Acts 7: 55)
      And coming again in glory (Matthew 24: 27)
      to judge the living and dead, (Acts 10: 42; 2 I Timothy 4: 1)
      His kingdom shall have no end; (2 Peter 1: 11)
      And in the holy Spirit, (John 14: 26)
      Lord (Acts 5: 3-4)
      the Giver of life, (Genesis 1: 2)
      Who proceeds from the Father, (John 15: 26)
      Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, (Matthew 3: 16-17)
      Who spoke through the prophets; (I Samuel 19: 20; Ezekiel 11: 5, 13)
      In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
      holy, (I Peter 2: 5, 9)
      catholic (Mark 16: 15)
      and apostolic Church; (Acts 2: 42; Ephesians 2: 19-22)
      I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; (Ephesians 4: 5)
      I expect the resurrection of the dead; (John 11: 24; I Cor. 15: 12-49)
      And the life of the age to come. (Mark 10: 29-30)
      Amen. (Psalm 106:48)
      For more studies about the Eastern Orthodox Faith by The Very Reverend Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes, please visit :
      What is the Orthodox Church and What Does It Believe?

      The Antichrist: The Ancient Orthodox Perspective

      06 November 2011

      Excerpt from the Biblical Homily of St. John Chrysostom on the Synaxis of the Archangels

      There is need to praise the Angels, for they hymn the Creator, and entreat Him to impart goodness to men. The Angels are honored, for they are our allies against the opposing foes that war against us.

      For it was the archangel Michael who fought back [ἀντιταττόμενος] the devil for the body of Moses (Jude 1:9), and the leader of the Persians that freedom might blossom for the people (Daniel 10:13). It was he himself who held back [καταστρέφων] the donkey, and stopped the inappropriate madness of Balaam, for the sorcerer did not reflect on his speaking, where the mute [animal] was made wise to speak (Numbers 22). It was he himself who bore the sword, and urged Jesus of Navi to fight [συμπλέκεσθαι τοῖς πολεμίοις προτρεπόμενος] (Joshua 5-6). It was he who slaughtered the 185,000 Assyrians in one night, and put the barbarians to death during sleep (Isaiah 37:36). It was he who moved the prophet Habakkuk swiftly through the air, that the prophet Daniel might eat amidst the non-feeding lions, for they in reality were not fighting enemies, but ruled over the passions (Daniel 14:32-42).

      There also is the wondrous and awesome [Archangel] Raphael (Tobit 12:15), who through a fish healed the possessed girl, and gave light to the blind old man.

      But this silence is not worthy of the New Testement, in which a great portion is for the Archangel Gabriel, who ministered to Zacharias, and censured his doubt by making him silent, for he did not believe the dispensation that the barren womb would bear a child (Luke 1:19). It was he who gave good tidings to the pure and unwedded Mariam (Luke 1:26-38). It was he who lead the shepherds to the cave, where they beheld the Uncontainable One in the manger, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and together with them they offered odes in doxology: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will among men.” (Luke 2:8-18) He also urged the Magi to flee the tyrant [Herod], who persecuted the Creator upon the earth (Matthew 2:12). He also told the betrothed of the Virgin not to disdain the spotless one as soiled (Matthew 1:20). He also told them to flee the child-killing of Herod (Matthew 2:13). Even those in the flesh perceived the uncreated, and served as servants. They therefore were amazed by His strength, through which he troubled [the idols] which fell, according to the voice of David: “He will lift them up with his hands, and break them to pieces by throwing stones” [Ἐπὶ χειρῶν ἄραντες αὐτὸν, ἔξω τῆς βολῆς τῶν λίθων ἐκόμιζον.] Therefore, the Judeans looked for stones to throw upon him. He also hastened to [His] Passion, and also after the Resurrection, gathered at the empty tomb, saying to the faithful women: “Why do you seek the Living One among the dead?” (Luke 24:5) After the Ascension, he escorted the disciples, dissolving the bonds of Peter [when he was in prison] (Acts 12), accompanying Paul through his dangers on land and sea (2 Corinthians 11:26), interceding for the faith of Cornelius [the Centurion] (Acts 10), trampling upon Herod, the killer of the righteous (Acts 12:23).

      But besides being worthy these great honors, don't [the Angels] also help our lives? For not only are angels placed to protect each nation, as the word cries: “When the Most-high divided the nations, he placed among the nations a number of Angels of God” (Deuteronomy 32:8). But also each man was granted an angel. This is not our word, but that of the Divine Scripture. The child Rhoda, who recognized the apostle Peter before the gates as he was fleeing from Herod's prison, was disbelieved, and they thought that it was his Angel (Acts 12:15). And the Savior Himself bears witness to this, as he says of the life of the small ones of this life: “Do not look down on one of these little ones. I tell you that their angels always behold the face of my Father in the heavens.” (Matthew 18:10) In each Church also, Christ has placed a guardian Angel, as John reveals: “Say to the angel of the Church of Smyrna: I see your poverty and your sorrow, but you are rich...” (Revelation 2:8).

      05 November 2011

      How much Scripture is read in your Church on Sunday?

      So the local Chinese (Baptist) Church is moving to it's new location tomorrow. So I am looking at their bulletin, wondering what the Scripture Reading(s) will be. It is this:
      Luke 2:13-14: And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
      That seems pretty standard for them, no more than 5 verses of scripture each Sunday followed by a 5-point sermon, possibly about those few verses.

      So, I compared this to what the Orthodox Churches around the world will all have as their Scripture Readings for the same time, the 21st Sunday after Pentecost:
      John 21:1-14: After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias: and in this manner did he show [himself]. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the [sons] of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter saith to them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a boat immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith to them, Children, have ye any victuals? They answered him, No. And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt [on] his fisher's coat, (for he was naked) and cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little boat (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid upon them, and bread. Jesus saith to them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and notwithstanding there were so many, yet the net was not broken. Jesus saith to them, Come [and] dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after he had risen from the dead. (Orthos/Matins Gospel)
      Galatians 2:16-2: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we may be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? By no means. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I may live to God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Liturgy Epistle)
      Luke 8:41-56: And behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at the feet of Jesus, and besought him that he would come into his house: For he had one daughter only, about twelve years of age, and she lay dying. (But as he was going, the people thronged him. And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, who had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed by any, Came behind [him], and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter, and they that were with him, said, Master, the multitude throng thee, and press [thee], and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue hath gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared to him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said to her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. While he was yet speaking, there cometh one from the house of the ruler of the synagogue, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead: trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard [it], he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be healed. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not: she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they derided him, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose immediately: and he commanded to give her food. And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done. (Liturgy Gospel)
      Oh, and during Orthos/Matins, the following Psalms are read:
      Psalm 19: The Lord hear thee in the day of affliction; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee. Let Him send forth unto thee help from His sanctuary, and out of Sion let Him help thee. Let Him remember every sacrifice of thine, and thy whole-burnt offering let Him fatten. The Lord grant thee according to thy heart, and fulfil all thy purposes. We will rejoice in Thy salvation, and in the name of the Lord our God shall we be magnified. The Lord fulfil all thy requests. Now have I known that the Lord hath saved His anointed one; He will hearken unto him out of His holy heaven; in mighty deeds is the salvation of His right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will call upon the name of the Lord our God. They have been fettered and have fallen, but we are risen and are set upright. O Lord, save the king, and hearken unto us in the day when we call upon Thee. 
      Psalm 20: O Lord, in Thy strength the king shall be glad, and in Thy salvation shall he rejoice exceedingly. The desire of his heart hast Thou granted unto him, and hast not denied him the requests of his lips. Thou wentest before him with the blessings of goodness, Thou hast set upon his head a crown of precious stone. He asked life of Thee, and Thou gavest him length of days unto ages of ages. Great is his glory in Thy salvation; glory and majesty shalt Thou lay upon him. For Thou shalt give him blessing for ever and ever, Thou shalt gladden him in joy with Thy countenance. For the king hopeth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the Most High shall he not be shaken. Let Thy hand be found on all Thine enemies; let Thy right hand find all that hate Thee. For Thou wilt make them as an oven of fire in the time of Thy presence; the Lord in His wrath will trouble them sorely and fire shall devour them. Their fruit wilt Thou destroy from the earth, and their seed from the sons of men. For they have intended evil against Thee, they have devised counsels which they shall not be able to establish. For Thou shalt make them turn their backs; among those that are Thy remnant, Thou shalt make ready their countenance. Be Thou exalted, O Lord, in Thy strength; we will sing and chant of Thy mighty acts. 
      Psalm 50: Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy; and according to the multitude of Thy compassions blot out my transgression. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I know mine iniquity, and my sin is ever before me. Against Thee only have I sinned and done this evil before Thee, that Thou mightest be justified in Thy words, and prevail when Thou art judged. For behold, I was conceived in iniquities, and in sins did my mother bear me. For behold, Thou hast loved truth; the hidden and secret things of Thy wisdom hast Thou made manifest unto me. Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow. Thou shalt make me to hear joy and gladness; the bones that be humbled, they shall rejoice. Turn Thy face away from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from Thy presence, and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and with Thy governing Spirit establish me. I shall teach transgressors Thy ways, and the ungodly shall turn back unto Thee. Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God, Thou God of my salvation; my tongue shall rejoice in Thy righteousness. O Lord, Thou shalt open my lips, and my mouth shall declare Thy praise. For if Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I had given it; with whole-burnt offerings Thou shalt not be pleased. A sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit; a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise. Do good, O Lord, in Thy good pleasure unto Sion, and let the walls of Jerusalem be builded. Then shalt Thou be pleased with a sacrifice of righteousness, with oblation and whole-burnt offerings. Then shall they offer bullocks upon Thine altar.
      Where are you going to find more Bible reading and which one seems more like a Bible-based Church?

      01 November 2011

      Russian Orthodox Church revival "colossal" over 20 years

      The Russian Orthodox Church has made colossal achievements in its revival over the past 20 years, the Moscow Patriarchate said.

       "In 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church had 12,000 parishes, 117 monasteries and convents, two theologian academies, seven theologian seminaries, 16 theologian colleges and four schools. In 2011, we have 30,675 parishes, 29,324 priests, 3,850 deacons and 805 monasteries and convents. The number of theologian educational establishments has increased, too," Vladimir Legoida, the head of the Synodal Information Department, said at a news conference at Interfax on Monday.

       "Twenty years is not much in the history of a Church on the one hand, but on the other, the achievements made since 1991 are colossal," he said. Spiritual revival is only at its start, he also said. The spiritual revival of present-day Russia will be in the center of an exhibition and forum, Orthodox Rus, to be held in Moscow on November 4-7, he said.

      31 October 2011

      The Didache, or Teaching of the Apostles, and Sola Scriptura, with Commentary

      The Didache is the earliest Christian writing we have that is not contained in the New Testament. It was written around AD 60 (though, admittedly, this date is debated by some scholars), which means it actually predates much, if not most, of the writings contained in the New Testament.

      • Because it predates so much of the New Testament, what we have here is a writing produced by a community by whom Sola Scriptura was not only not believed in, but for whom Sola Scriptura would have been impossible! (no Scriptura = no Sola Scriptura)

      • Also because of its very early date, the Didache is a powerful witness to the early Church -- the earliest Church in fact; the Church of the Apostolic Age -- and is a powerful piece of evidence that the Faith of the Orthodox Church today is the exact same as that of Christians of those times.

      The Didache has been known in an extended Ethiopic version, called the Didascalia for a very long time -- it's actually part of the extended New Testament canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. It was discovered in its Greek original, though, in 1873, in the library of an Orthodox monastery by the Orthodox Metropolitan of Nicomedia Philotheos Bryennios.

      The Didache (Greek, meaning "teaching") is a church order manual. Some of the early Fathers considered it Scriptural, but it was eventually excluded from the New Testament largely because it was unnecessary to include a manual of church order in Sacred Writ.

      So let's look at the Faith as it was believed and lived by the early Christians who lived even before Scripture, and compare it on a few points with the Faith of the Orthodox Church today.

      On Baptism:
      "But concerning baptism, thus shall ye baptize. Having first recited all these things, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit in living [running] water. But if thou hast not living water, then baptize in other water; and if thou art not able in cold, then in warm. But if thou hast neither, then pour water on the head thrice in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. But before the baptism let him that baptizeth and him that is baptized fast, and any others also who are able; and thou shalt order him that is baptized to fast a day or two before." - Didache, 7:1-7
      The early Christian practices of Baptism via triple immersion and fasting before Baptism are still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

      On fasting:
      "And let not your fastings be with the hypocrites [Jews], for they fast on the second [Monday] and the fifth [Thursday] day of the week; but do ye keep your fast on the fourth [Wednesday] and on the preparation [the sixth -- Friday] day." - Didache, 8:1-2
      The early Christian practice of fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays is still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

      On the Eucharist:
      "But let no one eat or drink of this eucharistic thanksgiving, but they that have been baptized into the name of the Lord; for concerning this also the Lord hath said: Give not that which is holy to the dogs." - Didache, 9:10-12
      The early Christian practice of closed Communion (that is, Communion only for Baptized members of the Church) is still preserved in the Orthodox Church today.

      As you can see, the Didache preserves for us a record of how the earliest Christians lived, Christians who lived even before the writings of the New Testament were put to pen and paper. Sola Scriptura would have been completely impossible for them -- and yet they were a thriving Christian community and one whose Faith is still preserved and observed in the Holy Tradition of the Orthodox Church today, even in small details like triple immersion Baptism and fasting on Fridays. The community which produced the Didache was Apostolic in the most literal sense of the word and this document is a demonstration of the Apostolic nature of the Orthodox Church's Holy Traditions -- Traditions which may not be explicitly laid out in Scripture, in some cases, but which in many instances pre-date Scripture!

      If you'd like to read the Didache for yourself and make your own comparisons with the various Christian groups today, you can check it out online here or buy a hardbound version of The Didache here.

      29 October 2011

      My 15 Favorite Spiritual Books That I Own and Read

      Tonight I was rearranging my books, putting my favorites and most reread books together in a special place. They numbered 15 and I thought this list would make for a great blog post with links to buy them for yourselves. If you do not have these books, I highly recommend you get them all and read them then reread them as quickly as possible!
      1. The Septuagint with Apocrypha (Greek and English) by Sir Lancelot Brenton: This edition of The Septuagint with Apocrypha (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament and the apocryphal books of the same linguistic origin) gives the complete Greek text along with a parallel English translation by Brenton.
      2. The Orthodox Psalter (The Psalterion According to the Seventy) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many Psalters available to the English reader, why select this one? The ecclesiastical English is most faithful to the original Greek, and diligently compared with the Psalterion of the Church of Greece, published by Apostolike Diakonia. This brand-new translation echoes the rhythms of the original Greek, which was faithful to the Hebrew idiom. The full-sized version with Commentary, reflecting the Orthodox perspective and interpretation of the spiritual insights of the holy Fathers from the East and West, promises to be an enriched reading experience that resonates with understanding of God’s word through the Psalmist David and others. Now you can read the Psalter and find answers to commonly asked textual and theological queries. This volume can help bring about a deeper relationship with God and reinforced faith in the Christ. This is a one-of-a-kind Psalter which borrows from the whole spectrum of patristic authority for a dependable and valuable resource, not only for Church readings, but also for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Therefore, come and explore the sacred writings with the champion holy Fathers of Orthodoxy so as to attain a better understanding of the wide range of prophetical, allegorical, mystical, and moralizing explanations of the verses. Even for those who do not know Greek or Hebrew, exegetical material found within this book gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
      3. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 1: The Holy Gospels (Evangelistarion) by Holy Apostles Convent: With so many English New Testaments on the market, which version is most faithful to the original Greek? How do you choose one that reflects Orthodox perspective and theological content? Our Orthodox monasteries, Holy Apostles Convent and Dormition Skete, labored seven years, with a committee of contributors, to present this fully illustrated Orthodox translation, which has been diligently compared against the original Greek text, the authorized version (1912) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the King James Version. There was no compromise of accuracy and reliability in this brand-new translation which echoes the rhythms and idioms of the original Greek. This promises to be an enriched reading experience that gives you an in-depth understanding of God’s word, answering commonly asked textual and theological queries for vital and penetrating insights into God’s word.
      4. The Orthodox New Testament Volume 2: Acts, Epistles, and Revelation (Praxapostolos) by Holy Apostles Convent: We have brought together a trustworthy and one-of-a-kind patristic commentary which draws from the whole spectrum of the authority of the Church Fathers for a rich, dependable, invaluable resource for devotional reading, Bible study, sermon preparation, and teaching. Explore the Scriptures with the champions of Orthodoxy with hundreds of succinct, reliable, and inspiring commentaries that elaborate on difficult passages, thereby providing a clearer understanding. Gain a greater understanding of the shades of meaning in the original language with word studies stressing meaningful nuances in the Greek, but often lost in other translations. Even for those who do not know Greek, exegetical material gives critical analysis of key words, that is not overly technical, for both beginners and scholars alike.
      5. Christ the Eternal TAO by Hieromonk Damascene of Platina & Lao Tzu: Not until now has the ancient wisdom of Lao Tzu been presented alongside the otherworldly revelation of Jesus Christ in a way that encompasses the full significance of both. Christ the Eternal Tao presents the Tao Teh Ching as a foreshadowing of what would be revealed by Christ, and Lao Tzu himself as a Far-Eastern prophet of Christ the incarnate God. Through heretofore unpublished translations and teachings of Gi-ming Shien -- perhaps the greatest Chinese philosopher to have ever come to the West -- this book uncovers the esoteric core of the Tao Teh Ching. Then, through the transmission of mystics of the ancient Christian East, Lao Tzu's teaching is brought into a new dimension, exploding with new meanings. Christ, in turn, is seen in a unique light, His pure image shining in the clarity of Lao Tzu's intuitive vision.With its practical, time-tested advice on how to unite oneself with the incarnate Tao and acquire uncreated Teh, this is both a philosophical source-book and a spiritual manual, touching the heart and leading one to profound inward transformation. It is a long-awaited Answer to those who, having turned away from modern Western "churchianity," are drawn to the freshness, directness and simplicity of Lao Tzu, and at the same time are strangely, inexplicably drawn back to the all-compelling reality of Jesus Christ.
      6. Orthodox Dogmatic Theology: A Concise Exposition by Protopresbyter Michael Pomazansky: A systematic exposition of the Faith, long a standard in Russian-speaking seminary classes. Fr. Seraphim Rose's translation (and introduction) make the work both accessible and appealing to English-speaking Orthodox. The work is neither technical nor pedantic, and is addressed not to "professional theologians", but rather to pastors, and indeed to all Orthodox Christians. Extensive additional substantive footnotes by the current editors enhance the value of the work.
      7. Genesis, Creation and Early Man by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Amidst the creation/evolution debate that is now raging, with evidence being offered for both sides, few have made use of what Fr. Seraphim Rose called "the missing evidence": the teaching of the ancient Orthodox Holy Fathers on the events of creation, the first-created world, the natures of created things, and the original nature of man. Now for the first time in the English language, this teaching has been gathered together and set forth in a thorough, detailed, and above all honest manner. Perhaps more than anyone else in our times, Fr. Seraphim Rose searched, studied, prayed and suffered to understand how the ancients noetically apprehended the creation in the light of the God-inspired book of Genesis. Having acquired their mind, he has presented to the modern world the harmonious Patristic vision of the cosmos. A vital answer to the contemporary "crisis of meaning," this book sheds startling new light on the mysteries of our origin. The Divine vision of the ancient Fathers opens up unforeseen dimensions of the creation: deeper levels of reality that cannot be reached through rational or scientific means.
      8. The Soul After Death by Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina: Fr. Seraphim presents one of the basic traditions of Orthodox teaching on the "afterlife" (concerning which Holy Scripture is remarkably silent, and Orthodoxy maintains an open tradition), and in its light examines many of the contemporary and occult accounts of after-death experiences, popularized by so many writers of such varying degrees of responsibility -- or lack thereof.
      9. Orthodoxy and the Religion of the Future by Hieromonk Serpahim of Platina: Having passed already through six printings and two editions, this volume has established itself as a classic primer of the Orthodox viewpoint concerning the cults and occult of the "New Age". Much as these things change from year to year, in essence they change scarcely at all -- the occultists of our century are guided by the same demonic forces known to the Fathers of the desert nearly two millennia ago. Fr. Seraphim's astute analysis is a valuable weapon in our spiritual armory.
      10. The Apocalypse: In the Teachings of Ancient Christianity by Archbishop Averky Taushev: Translated and with an introduction by Fr. Seraphim of Platina of blessed memory, this detailed commentary on the Book of Revelation (more accurately, the Apocalypse) by one of the spiritual giants of our age is perhaps the only reliable guide readily available in English to an Orthodox understanding of its complexities. In reading both the commentary and the book, it is wise to remember that it required seven centuries for the Church to reach oneness of mind that this book was indeed to be regarded as part of Holy Scripture.
      11. The Path to Salvation: A Manual of Spiritual Transformation by Saint Theophan the Recluse: A classic textbook of the spiritual life, from a true Church Father of not so far past Russia. The translation was one of the last works of Fr. Seraphim (Rose), of blessed memory, here offered in its entirety for the first time in English.
      12. The Spiritual Life: And How to Be Attuned to It by Saint Theophan the Recluse: This series of eighty letters to a young woman, touching upon an endless variety of matters of concern in the spiritual life, is eminently practical and down to earth. Bishop Theophan, withdrawn from the world as he was, nevertheless was capable of communicating effectively with those who remain very much in the world.
      13. A Spiritual Psalter (Reflections on God in the Manner of the Psalms of David) by Saint Ephraim the Syrian: A collection of hymns, compiled from the writings of St. Ephraim by Bishop Theophan the Recluse. This book, which long constituted one of the favorite sources of reading for monastics in prerevolutianary Russia, has become a best-seller. Second edition, printed in red & black on high quality paper, gilded edges, ribbon, gold-stamped flexible case-binding. A beautiful book.
      14. The Ladder of Divine Ascent by Saint John Climacus: How do we get from here (the world) to there (the Kingdom)? Not by magic, but rather by hard work (possible only through the grace given by God!). St. John addresses the path, the ladder by which we may climb. The only problem is that most of us fall off at about the first or second rung... and must get back on and try again. Traditionally read in monasteries during Lent, and equally well-suited for all of us.
      15. My Life in Christ by Saint John of Kronstadt: Certainly one of the great spiritual classics. The fruit of years of spiritual struggle and pastoral ministry amongst the poor and downtrodden of a harbor town, St. John's diary speaks eloquently of every dimension of the spiritual life.
      A wide array of authors in this mix with Greeks, Arabs, Russians, Serbians, British, Asians, and Americans; including both still-living and recently deceased clergymen of blessed memory, to modern and ancient saints. Obviously there are no books in my library by those of the Parisian School of Modernism and Ecumenism such as Protopresbyter John Meyendorff, Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, Metropolitan Bishop Anthony Bloom of Sourozh, Protopresbyer Alexander Schmemann, or deposed deacon Lev Puhalo, who tend to water down the faith with questioning and Western scholasticism rather than understanding and believing then explaining the foundations of the Church Fathers built on the Rock of Christ.

      The Orthodox Scouter Allows Sharing Only with Attribution