<Smile> Look what happens when a very famous Fundamentalist, Sola-Scriptura (Bible Scholar and Expert) actually begins to understand what the scriptures are teaching and finds the Church those scriptures were written by, and written for. His friends show up to correct him, they see the scriptures used IN CONTEXT for the first time in their lives and this is the result.
I've never read a more ignorant and unknowing commentary on Ancient and Orthodox Christianity. These people are CLUELESS what the text in Act 13:1-3 means:
"13:1 Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.
Act 13:2 As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.
Act 13:3 And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
That word "ministered" unto the Lord, is "leitourgeō" which means, LITERALLY, Liturgized unto the Lord or in this text "as they were Liturgizing unto the Lord."
These people this "christian fellow" describes with such hubris and self-righteous superiority, were worshipping closer to the worship offered by Saint Paul, Saint Barnabas, and the others, than anything he, himself, had ever witnessed or experienced or understood; it was literally Ancient Christian worship he witnessed and he was CLUELESS and called not just the people present at that service, PAGAN, Occultists, and spiritually dead, but by implication Saint Paul and the other Apostles as well.
Most of the people present for that service has spent weeks fasting and praying, and what he witnessed was the "preparation for the resurrection celebration" had he had the patience to hang around long enough (another few hours.) He would have heard the hymn, "Christ is Risen from the Dead, Trampling down Death by Death, and upon those in the tomb, bestowing LIFE." He would have witnessed the mighty exclamation, "Christ is Risen!" and the Response, "He is Risen INDEED." And chances are he may have heard it repeated in many languages. He would have observed the solemnity, and those "dead faces" downcast as they contemplated Jesus' TRUE and REAL Sacrifice, HIS humiliation and death, allowing the preciousness of that gift weigh on them, turned into joyous celebration, that would have lasted well past the "service" i.e., Liturgy into the Break-Fast meal greeting the Dawn of the FIRST DAY of the NEW CREATION. But of course he had to get home and get some sleep, so he could attend some "real worship." This article is not just SAD, it is comical in its abysmal ignorance.
So the Scripture Answer guy, so famous on the WEB, discovered the meaning and context of the Scriptures he had studied so long. To his arrogant fundamentalist critics, I say, You remind me of the arrogant Pharisees, to whom Jesus said, "You study the scriptures because in them you THINK you have eternal life." The irony of that statement, from the mouth of he who IS the TRUTH, the LIFE, and the WAY, should not be lost on you. Nor should the words, "the letter kills, but the spirit gives LIFE." +++
Visiting Hank Hanegraaff’s New Greek Orthodox Church
One of the biggest complaints against Pulpit & Pen we get consistently is that we somehow don’t “have all our facts,” or are “misrepresenting” someone or something. I received countless emails claiming that I “misrepresented” Greek Orthodoxy in my recent posts regarding Hank Hanegraaff and that I should do more research. Well, what better way to research than to go straight to the source in person? Saturday, April 15, known as Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition, I along with a couple of friends went to visit St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC–the church that Hanegraaff was recently chrismated in. The service began at 11:30 pm, and was still going strong showing no signs of slowing down when we decided to leave at around 2:00 am. While we hoped to have the opportunity to confront Hanegraaff in person, being that we all had to get up early the next morning to worship the living God on Easter morning, we decided to call it a night early. However, there are quite a few things that we can take away from this experience in this church.
1.) I have sat through many Catholic masses. I was married in a Catholic church, and I can definitely say I’ve “been there done that.” But I’ve never sat through anything so long and tedious as the Greek Orthodox mass. Perhaps being a special Saturday night “resurrection service,” this wasn’t the norm, but it was excruciatingly long. 2 1/2 hours in and no sign of slowing down.
2.) The cliche, “bells and smells” is actually a true reality. The burning of incense and ringing of bells was a noxious combination. It reminded me of being in a college dorm smoking weed and blowing the smoke through toilet paper rolls stuffed with dryer sheets.
3.) The liturgy was vain and repetitious. Literally, the same ritualistic prayers and chanting were sung over and over. Every prayer included an invocation of Mary and the Saints.
4.) While there was actually quite a bit of Scripture reading, there was absolutely no teaching. In fact, the vast majority of Scripture reading was sung in the eerie Byzantine chant. You’d really have to pay attention and try to listen really hard to even understand what they were reading or reciting.
5.) The facility was adorned, literally, wall to wall, floor to ceiling in graven images of the saints. The images were painted in such a way that the expressions on their faces were devoid of any emotion. They looked like lifeless figures just floating around in space.
6.) The enthusiasm of the clergy and participants in the service was extremely low. Those participating in the rituals walked around with lifeless expressions on their faces. The entire ritual was empty and dead.
7.) There is obviously little to no pursuit of holiness in this church. Several times during the service, the ushers and deacons could be seen stepping out to take smoke breaks. Many of the women and even some of the younger girls were dressed less than modestly.
8.) Repeatedly, the chanting and liturgy included a summons to God to perform certain acts. It was clear that they believe that God works through and is dependent upon these rituals to activate the work of the Holy Spirit.
9.) The Greek and Eastern Orthodox church is clearly a lifeless church. There was absolutely no gospel in this service. A lost person could not walk into this church and walk out a changed man. It was literally a Pagan practice. Like a seance. Pure witchcraft was going on in this place. In this religion, salvation doesn’t come through Christ’s imputed righteousness and substitutionary atonement on the cross, it comes through these dead rituals that they believe ontologically changes them into divine beings. It was truly one of the most wicked experiences I’ve ever seen.This is what Hank Hanegraaff has apostatized to. He knows the Bible, he has taught it his entire life. He now rejects it. The bible clearly teaches against the wickedness and error found within the manmade traditions and doctrines of demons in the Orthodox church. It would have been easy for one to let their guard down and become entranced by the production. While in the West it is likely less common for practitioners of the religion to take it that seriously, it’s easy to see how those who do take it seriously could achieve an altered state of mind which would in effect by a spiritual experience for those truly seeking it. After my experience at this church, not only do I fully stand by what I have written, but it is even more clear now that this religion is not of God and should be avoided.
[Contributed by Jeff Maples]
+++BTW, the first time I visited an Orthodox Church, I was in College and 14 years of age. It was part of my "comparative religion" requirement. I watched an old woman talk to the priest in quiet almost whispers, but with such intensity and tears. When she finished talking he spoke with her for a moment equally as quietly (as this happened a deacon or reader and choir were chanting) then he covered her with his Chasuble, as she bowed her head, and placed his "blessing cross" on top of her head, and quietly prayed. I thought that is the most comforting sight I have ever seen. When the woman stood and turn, her face glowed as she wiped tears. I knew I had not read it wrongly. The Liturgy was all foreign to me, and in Arabic, confusing even, but I thought, "were I to suddenly travel through time and see New Testament Christians celebrating the "Thanksgiving" would I recognize it? If they were to come to my church, with the one hundred and twenty member choir, small orchestra, the Hammond B5 organ and blaring Leslie Speakers, all coordinated to soulful rhythms, would THEY recognize it as Christian and not mistake it for a pagan circus? It is not just a matter of culture, you know. I was raised in the Church of Corinth, with all the wonderful and horrible things that imply. The peace I experienced in that liturgy, that did not need "electricity" or "microphones" or instruments, except the human voice, the "respect" shown the presence of God in that place, left a permanent memory, and my "experience" and thus my opinion was so very different than Jeff Maples'. - Archpriest Symeon Elias