Departures from Orthodoxy and Ministry Implications

September 30, 2022 by  
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Dony K. Donev, D.Min.: Eastern Pneumotology Lectures

Eastern Orthodoxy can be expressed in one word: theism. The purpose and meaning of life is to become more like God. Deification is pursued by all means of human existence. This quest for divine likeness often includes the typical for the Eastern Church, speculation on the divinity and humanity of Christ, traditions on the doctrine of the Trinity and non-traditional mystical experiences. They appear in the context of both physical and spiritual characteristics in individual and corporate ecclesiastical environment. The role of the Spirit in the process of deification is threefold and involves: creation, re-creation and theism. Eastern Pneumotology follows the graduate process of theism development. The Spirit is involved in the original creation of the world as well as the new-birth experience. His work however, does not end there, but continues throughout the process of personal deification of the believer.

 

Departures from Orthodoxy

And thus, we arrive at the point of departure from Orthodoxy. Similar to Eastern Pneumotology, this departure can be expressed in one word, dualism. A prime example of the dualistic heresy is the Messalian movement. Arising around AD 360 in Edessa, the Messalians are described as polytheistic. They believe that every human creature has a personal demon, and that Satan and the Holy Spirit together can dwell in the individual. The believers receive a share of the divine Spirit and become equal to God in their incapability to sin.[1]  Interesting enough, the Messalians are highly feministic allowing their women to the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

A similar movement arises under the name Paulicians. Due to the mass persecution through which the Paulicians go, the preserved documents about their existence in history are limited. We do know that they appeared in Armenia and the Byzantium Empire. The final trace of Eastern dualism is in on the Balkans, and more particular in Bulgaria under the name Bogomils. 18[2]

Ministry Implications

The next three brief ministerial applications are inspired and drown from the above research on the experiences of the Oriental Orthodox. They are taken in chronological order in its direct context of Pentecostal practices.

  1. Prayer is the constantly present element through which pneumatic and mystical experiences in the East are obtained. For example, Pallamas reports that the gifts of the Spirit are obtained only through intense mental prayer, which is often accompanied with tears. [3] In the same charismatic context Cassian concludes that after a season the gifts will disappear. My personal implication is that this is precisely the season when prayer and have become strange to the church, and when tears have become are sign of weekends rather than a sign of humility in the presence of the Almighty God. Unfortunately, at the end of the twentieth century, this is precisely our general present satiation.
  2. Peace of Heart: Hazzaya gives five practical signs for recognition of the works of the Holy Spirit: (1) love of God burns within the heart of the believer, (2) growth in humility of the soul, (3) kindness to all people, (4) true love and (5) vision of mind. His main tool to recognize demons and demonic visions from God and divine revelations is the peace of heart, which follows the heavenly presence.[4] I am persuaded that today the rule of the peace of heart is still true in the hearing of the voice of God.
  3. Return, reclaim and preservation: The Armenian faith practices focus on preservation of the apostolic doctrines and habits.[5] Symeon the New Theologian also calls for a return to a radical living of the Gospel.[6] In a similar way, the early Church of God claimed to have as a main goal the reclaiming of the power of Pentecost; however, the church today has evolved to a structure that is quite far from this former idea. Furthermore, in this process the church has become too distinguished, replacing the primitivism of the Pentecostal experience with higher education, development programs, sophisticated structures, etc. And while a century ago we were the persecuted and ridiculed, now we are the people who reject and mock churches that carry the Pentecostal primitivism. Through this, we not only deny our historical relationship with them, but also abolish our Pentecostal heritage, which we often like to brag about.

Nevertheless, similar to the early Pentecostal movement, revival will not come to our churches through sophisticated worship liturgies, but rather through a genuine return to the initial Pentecostal experience. At the end of the twentieth century, simply reclaiming the power of Pentecostal is not sufficient. We need to preserve the Pentecostal primitivism in the reality of our present ecclesiastical setting. Only then we will be who we claim that we are.

[1] John of Damascus, De Haeresibus Compendio, 80, PS 3/1:col. clxxvi.

[2] Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee: A Study of the Christian Dualistic Heresy (Cambridge University Press, 1974), chapters 2, 4, and 5.

[3] Burgess, 52-53.

[4] Ibid., 173-74.

[5] Ibid., 113.

[6] Ibid., 62.

CYBER MONDAY: NEW KINDLE books from Cup & Cross

November 30, 2021 by  
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CYBER MONDAY 2021: Several of our best sellers now on Kindle for quick and easy read. Stay tune for our new titles in 2020…

Spiritual Problems and Solutions from the 7 Churches of Revelation

January 10, 2014 by  
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Network of the Seven Churches of Revelation

Although the Book of Revelation has been vastly studied and interpreted throughout church history, usually the focus is on one major issue within the text, namely, the role and future of the church. The main reason for this has been the in-depth prophetic and pastoral messages to the Seven Churches. The value of the messages to the Seven Churches of Revelation is constituted by the fact that they are the last recorded Biblical messages to the Christian Church. For this reason, the letters to the Seven Churches obviously do not contain all of the usual elements used in the New Testament epistolary form.

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