Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth

Christians Stand Firm: Fight the Lies, Defend the Truth Sword by Anthony Esolen –
Truth is truth to the end of time. Even if the battle appears lost, let each Christian raise one sword at least against the lie. Even if the fight is fierce, the warfare long, let each Christian remember that our Captain triumphed in and through the hour of His utter defeat upon Calvary.

One day, said St. Jerome, the world awoke and groaned to find itself half Arian. It was the reasonable position of the time, bearing all the marks of historical inevitability. It shrugged away the most challenging points of Christology, for if Christ was but a creature, a Platonic demiurge, we need not puzzle our minds over how God might be both one and three. We need not be stunned into reverence by the words, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” since the Word was, in a sense, already “flesh.”

Arianism was an easy slide. Most of the bishops leaned that way; it was the way of the well-stuffed. But Athanasius rose up contra mundum, the single-minded saint whom his opponents derided and often exiled for his bigotry. Athanasius was on the wrong side of “history.” Good for him; Christians must always so station themselves. Our Lord was murdered on Calvary by the great dead historical hulk called the Roman Empire. [Read more...]

Cake and Compassion in Arizona

Homosexual Tyranny Gay Wedding Cakes Arizona by Fr. Lawrence Farley –
Like it or not, homosexuality is not a private proclivity like other sins; it is a powerful movement, and one that now demands the surrender of Christian conscience.

Not so long ago, voices were raised and lawyers were sharpening their swords in America’s latest battle in the ongoing culture war. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado was threatened with a fine and up to a year’s incarceration for refusing to bake a cake for a gay wedding. In New Mexico, a photographer was similarly threatened for refusing to photograph a gay wedding. In Arizona, a bill was put forward which aimed at protecting the rights of those who wanted to opt out of participating in such weddings if such participation would violate their conscience. The governor of Arizona vetoed the bill. Owners of businesses now have no legal right to decline to provide their services for gay weddings, however abhorrent the weddings may be to their consciences. [Read more...]

God is the Cure for Depression – St. Silouan the Athonite

God Christ Cure for Depression by Fr. Vasile Tudor –
As Christians we must give glory to God in all things, even in pain, hoping, always hoping, in our Savior, the only One who can take us out of the brink of despair and set us for a new life in Him. In Him we put our hope, in Him we find our purpose, and on Him we set our goal.

The greatest plague of the 21st century is not AIDS, nor cancer, nor the H1N1 flu, but something that affects much more people in ways we can barely start to understand: depression. Reportedly one in ten Americans suffers from one or the other forms of this malady. The rates of anti-depressant usage in the United States are just as worrisome. A recent poll unveils that one in eight Americans is using them. Prozac, Zyprexa, Cymbalta are not strange alien names anymore, but familiar encounters in almost every American household. Even children approach the usage rates of adults. These are very high and paradoxical numbers in a country where all are free to enjoy “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” [Read more...]

Earth Day, a Humbug? From Resurrection to Recycling

Easter vs Earth Day by Stephen Turley –
“What’s wrong with Earth Day?” my student asks incredulously from the back of the classroom. “What issue could you possibly have with being good stewards of our environment?” “There’s simply no point to it,” I respond. “We have Easter.” My student furls her brow; “What on earth does Easter have to do with saving the environment?”

Around the twenty-second of every April, I must admit that I do feel a certain affinity with Ebenezer Scrooge as he was interrogated by his nephew, Fred. “Christmas a humbug, uncle! You don’t mean that, I am sure.” And while I certainly demur from his assessment of Christmas, I am in agreement with old Scrooge that calendrical commemorations shape effectually our lives, and not always for the better. Time in its various dimensions—historical or cosmic, public or private, linear or cyclical, continuous or discontinuous—is a fundamental feature of life experience. [Read more...]

Priest vs. Priest on Homosexual Orientation

St George Slays Dragon by Editors –
In an online exchange on the popular Monomakhos Blog, the topic of discussion focused on the views on homosexuality expressed by Fr. Alexis Vinogradov a priest in the OCA, rector of St. Gregory the Theologian Church in Wappingers Falls, NY. Fr. Hans Jacobse, a priest in the AOCA, rector of St. Peter Orthodox Mission in Naples, FL, challenged the presumptive opinions of Fr. Alexis and presented the truth from a proper Orthodox Christian understanding.

Fr. Alexis Vinogradov’s views were originally published in 2011 in an article titled New beginnings in community Gender issues and the Church on ocanews.org. Here’s the relevant excerpt that Fr. Hans responded to in the comments section of Monomakhos Blog:

“Homosexual persons did not decide to become homosexual. It was not the fruit of their supposed depravity or sin. That much we know today. There can only be a continuing conversation if we can cross that hurdle of blatant intransigence by those who refuse to acknowledge this fact. But homosexual persons, just as much as heterosexual ones, need to feel the warmth and love and nurture of other persons. God created them for that love, that love is the substance of our humanity; it is what constitutes all of us in bearing his image within us.” ~ Fr. Alexis Vinogradov

[Read more...]

Losing our Religion: “Retaining” Young People in the Orthodox Church

Young People in the Orthodox Church Youthby Seraphim Danckaert –
A person is most likely to retain Christian faith throughout adult life if he or she had three (3) meaningful and healthy relationships in their early to mid teenage years: one with faithful Christian parents, one with a faithful Christian mentor outside of the family, and one with God Himself.

Seraphim Danckaert at Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy critically evaluated a recent article that claims that “90% of Americans with Greek roots are no longer in communion with the Orthodox Church.” The excerpts below are from Seraphim’s insightful analysis on why the youth leave the Orthodox Church and what must be done to retain them.

The article assumes (but does not show) that the reason for this mass apostasy is two-fold: (1) the inevitable rise of interfaith marriages in America’s multicultural, religiously pluralistic, and secular society; and (2) the Greek Orthodox Church’s failure to respond to the “critical and immediate need for a broad religious outreach; to make room for interfaith families,” and thereby follow St. Paul’s example in extending “Christianity’s outreach to all nations.” [Read more...]

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant

Contemporary Tolerance Is Intrinsically Intolerant by Don Carson –

The notion of tolerance is changing, and with the new definitions the shape of tolerance itself has changed. Although a few things can be said in favor of the newer definition, the sad reality is that this new, contemporary tolerance is intrinsically intolerant. It is blind to its own shortcomings because it erroneously thinks it holds the moral high ground; it cannot be questioned because it has become part of the West’s plausibility structure. Worse, this new tolerance is socially dangerous and is certainly intellectually debilitating. Even the good that it wishes to achieve is better accomplished in other ways.

Let’s begin with dictionaries. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the first meaning of the verb “to tolerate” is “To respect (others’ beliefs, practices, etc.) without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing. 3. to put up with; to bear; as, he tolerates his brother-in-law. 4. in medicine, to have tolerance for (a specified drug, etc.).” Even the computer-based dictionary Encarta includes in its list “ACCEPT EXISTENCE OF DIFFERENT VIEWS to recognize other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices without an attempt to suppress them.” [Read more...]

The Heart of Worship is Surrender to God

Heart of Worship is Surrender to God by Rick Warren –
The heart of worship is surrender. Surrender is an unpopular word, especially in the American culture. Surrender means, to many, defeat. We love winning so surrender is unthinkable. But surrendering to God is the heart of worship. It is the natural response to God’s amazing love and mercy. We give ourselves to Him, not out of fear or duty, but in love, 1 John 4:9:10, 19. Paul urges us to fully surrender our lives to God in worship, Romans 12:1. There are three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride and confusion. We want to control our own lives so we misunderstand the meaning of surrender.

1. Can I trust God? Trust is essential to surrender. I won’t surrender to God unless I trust Him, but I can’t trust Him until I know Him better. Fear keeps me from surrendering, but love casts out all fear. The more I realize how much God loves me, the easier surrender becomes. How do I know God loves me? God says He loves me, Psalms 145:9. I’m never out of His sight, Psalms 139:3. He cares about every detail of my life – Matthew 10:30. [Read more...]

Tolerance and Charity, from a Christian Perspective

Tolerance is Not a Christian Virtue by Brian A. Graebe –
Tolerance is a nice word, but is it a Christian virtue? Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver doesn’t think so, and his claim has occasioned no small amount of protest. In a smug editorial, America magazine recently chastened Chaput for coarsening the tenor of intra-ecclesial discourse. While no call for courtesy and civility should go unheeded, an apology for toleration that ignores its niceties only furthers the intellectual and moral torpor plaguing the public square.

Proponents of a kinder, gentler discussion on the great issues of our day often attempt a rhetorical sleight of hand, coupling tolerance with charity. Such a pairing is ambiguous at best. The call to charity “loving one’s fellow man as a child of God” is universal and, one hopes, uncontroversial. But what does it mean to be tolerant of those with whom we disagree on serious matters? If used as a synonym for charity, combined patience and magnanimity, one can make a case, but that case remains weak and the term imprecise. [Read more...]

Animal Immortality: Do Animals Go to Heaven?

Animal Immortality: Do Animals Go to Heaven? by Carol Apple –
Do our pets go to heaven? C.S. Lewis imaginatively addresses the question of animal immortality in his book The Problem of Pain.

When a beloved pet dies people can feel desperate to know if animals, at least some animals, have an eternal destiny. The Bible does not say one way or the other, but C.S. Lewis gives animal lovers reason to hope. Although he acknowledges that his ideas are only guesses, what compelling guesses they are, and how comforting to those of us who have loved an animal.

Lewis discusses animal immortality in Chapter 9 of his book The Problem of Pain, in which he discusses the theological issues involved in animal suffering. Lewis asks the question of how we can reconcile God’s justice with the pain of innocent creatures who can neither benefit from nor understand their suffering, and finds no answer in this world. Therefore, he ventures forth to consider the mystery of animal immortality and how it might work. [Read more...]

Poverty in Spirit More Important Than Material Poverty

St. Basil the Great Orthodoxby St. Basil the Great –
Poverty is not always praiseworthy, but only when it represents a free choice according to the Gospel commandment.

Many are poor in terms of possessions and very miserly in spirit, and those people will not be saved through their poverty but damned by their attitude of mind.

Not every poor person therefore is worthy of praise, but only those who of their own choice put the commandment of the Lord before all the treasures of the world.

Those people the Lord says are blessed when he proclaims “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He does not say the poor in possessions, but those who have freely chosen poverty in spirit.

What is involuntary cannot merit blessedness. Every virtue, and poverty in spirit more than any other, must be a free choice. [Read more...]

Atheists are Wrong – Five Reasons Why God Exists

Atheists are Wrong - Five Reasons Why God Existsby William Lane Craig –
Most atheists, in my experience, have no good reasons for their disbelief. Rather they’ve learned to simply repeat the slogan, “There’s no good evidence for God’s existence!”

In the case of a Christian who has no good reasons for what he believes, this slogan serves as an effective conversation-stopper. But if we have good reasons for our beliefs, then this slogan serves rather as a conversation-starter.

The atheist who merely repeats this slogan after having been presented with arguments for God’s existence makes an empty assertion.

So what reasons might be given in defense of Christian theism? In my publications and oral debates with some of the world’s most notable atheists, I’ve defended the following five reasons why God exists: [Read more...]

Freedom from a Godly Perspective

Freedom from Godly Perspective, God and Freedomby Fr. Patrick Reardon –
With respect to the life in Christ it is important to keep in mind two aspects of freedom:

First, a correct concept of freedom disinclines us to reduce it to the mere ability to make choices. Thus reduced, indeed, freedom looks more like a potential than a reality. Freedom is counted, after all, as a great human blessing.

But how can the mere capacity for choice be —without reservation— a blessing? Is that man to be called blessed who chooses to fling himself into a fire? Is freedom truly a blessing if someone deliberately enslaves himself? If freedom is to be counted a blessing, choice must in some measure be qualified by its object. [Read more...]

I Can Do All Things Through Christ, Who Strengthens Me

St. Isaac the Syrianby Fr. Matthew Jackson –
There is an article (a few of them, actually) making the rounds on social media right now which tries to make the point that the phrase “God will not give you more than you can handle” is not an accurate thing to say. Unfortunately, these articles themselves don’t quite have things right.

They refer back to the quote from 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able.” (This is where the quote ‘God will not give you more than you can handle’ originates). The point is then attempted: this verse doesn’t mean you won’t be given things that can’t be handled, only that God will not allow a temptation you can’t bear – that the verse doesn’t say anything about other experiences you may have within life. Pointing out difficult situations – Auschwitz, cancer, rape, etc. – the authors then say that these things crush people and are more than can be borne (cf. 2 Cor. 1:8-9 for their Biblical example – where Paul says they are at the *point* of breaking in order to learn to trust in God, Who then enabled them to handle their temptations). [Read more...]

Making the Most of Your New Year – 2014

How to Make the Most of Your New Year 2014by Allen West –
On his blog, Allen West reflects on Pastor Scott Eynon’s sermon titled “How to Make the Most of Your New Year” based on the core scriptures in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Pastor Scott emphasized four points:

1. Accept responsibility for your life, your actions, no blame game. He emphasized that you will never reach God’s potential for your life by blaming others. The Bible even addresses that premise in Galatians 5:6, “for each one should carry their own load.” I also liked this quote from John Maxwell: “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you respond to it.”

2. Believe you can change and set goals. If you want something to be different, first you have to want it, and second you have to commit to hard work, focus, and discipline in achieving it. [Read more...]