Intrepretive Choices in Acts and First Corinthians on Tongues and Spiritual Choices

"Prosperess of Loaves" Holy Icon of the Mother of God

"Prosperess of Loaves" Holy Icon of the Mother of God

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.

PSALM 143

Hear my prayer, O Lord, give ear to my supplications! In Your faithfulness answer me, and in Your righteousness, do not enter into judgment with Your servant, for in Your sigh no one living is righteous. For the enemy (Satan) has persecuted my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me dwell in darkness, like those who have long been dead. Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! Do not hide Your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your loving-kindness in the morning, for if You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies; in You I take shelter, teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. Revive me, O Lord, for Your name's sake! for Your righteousness' sake bring my soul out of trouble. In Your mercy cut off my enemies, and destroy all those who afflict my soul; for I am Your servant.

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TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):

On October 15th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and of every righteous soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Sabinus, Bishop of Catania; Saint Barses, Bishop of Edessa; St. Lucian, Presbyter of Greater Antioch; St. Lucian, Presbyter of the Kiev Caves; Synaxis (Assembly) of 26 New Holy Martyrs of Belorussia; St. John, Bishop of Suzdal; Saint Dionysios, Archbishop of Suzdal; St. Efthymius the New of Ancyra; Saint Avrelia of Strasburg; St. Thecla, Egoumenissa (Abbess) of Ochsenfurt; "Prosperess of Loaves" Holy Icon of the Mother of God.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops, Holy Archbishops, Holy Presbyters, Holy Mothers, Holy Confessors, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Monks, Holy Egoumenoi, Holy Icons, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

"PROSPERESS OF LOAVES" HOLY ICON OF THE MOTHER OF GOD. The name of this holy Icon means, "Helper for people in their labors for the acquiring of their daily bread." The holy Icon was written at the blessing of the great Russian ascetic of the 19th century, the starets-elder Schemamonk Ambrosii. Ambrosii had a childlike faith towards the Mother of God. He revered all her feast days and doubled his prayer on these days. Not far from his Optina monastery, he founded a Women's Monastery in honor of the Kazan holy Icon of the Mother of God. In the "Prosperess of Loaves' holy Icon, the Mother of God is shown sitting upon the clouds and her hands are extended in blessing. Beneath her is a field of grass, flowers, and sheaves of rye. Ambrosii chose the date of October 15 for the celebration of this holy Icon, and this also was the day on which he was buried. Before he died, he ordered a large quantity of photo-replicas of the holy icon and had them sent to his spiritual children. The first miracle from this holy Icon was witnessed in 1890, when there was a famine throughout Russia due to crop failure. But in the area of the monastery, grain was produced. A year later, there was a drought at the Women's Monastery, and a copy of the holy Icon was sent. After a molieben was served before the holy Icon, it rained and the drought ended.

TODAY'S SACRED SCRPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:

Holy Epistle Lesson: Philippians 3:1-8
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. Luke 9:7-11

INSPIRING WORDS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:

"I prefer a man who sins and repents to one who does not sin and does not repent. The first has good thoughts, for he admits that he is sinful. But the second has false, soul-destroying thoughts, for he imagines himself to be righteous" (Saint Poemen the Great).

Quotations on "Tongues" and the Prayer of the Heart

"When the Holy Spirit dwells in a man, as the Apostle says, "he never ceases to pray," since the Spirit Himself prays within him. Then, whether he sleeps or wakes, prayer is never separated from his soul. If he eats, drinks, or lies down, or does something, or even in deep slumber, the sweet fragrance of prayer effortlessly exhales in his heart". (St. Isaac the Syrian)

"Movements produced in the soul by the Divine Spirit as a result of efforts make the heart quiet and urge it to call out constantly 'Abba Father!' This is not accompanied by any imaginings but is devoid of all images. But we ourselves become than transformed by the dawning of Divine Light, which endows us with an image in keeping with the burning of the Divine Spirit. More than that, it changes and alters us by Divine power. How--He alone knows." (Saint Kallistos, "Texts on Prayer.")

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INTERPRETIVE CHOICES IN ACTS AND FIRST CORINTHIANS ON TONGUES AND SPIRITUL GIFTS

1. Inspiration, Revelation, and Interpretation

"That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." --1 John 1:3-4

Before we examine the patristic interpretation of the scriptural passages that seem most relevant to Pentecostalism, it is necessary to be clear about the nature and purpose of all inspired writings (scriptural and patristic) and the proper Orthodox approach to them. Only by coming to terms with what is divine inspiration can we in turn choose the appropriate method for interpretation. Only by being precise about what is revelation and why the Holy Fathers wrote their writings can we in turn judge what can be learned and what cannot be learned from a brief examination of patristic commentaries.

Every Christian confession can agree that the Old Testament and New Testament are inspired as well as certain interpretations of these scriptures. [For the Orthodox Christians, the trusted interpretations are the patristic writings of the God-bearing Fathers. For those other Confessions, the founders' interpretations are seen as God-inspired whereas the interpretation of their opponents as inspired by the devil (e.g., the famous debate between Luther and Zwingli over the words of institution. (Father John Romanides, "Test for the Application of Theology," pages 482-483). All agree that the very words of the Old Testament and New Testament are inspired, but there is a vast chasm separating the Orthodox and non-Orthodox understanding of what the Prophet, Apostle, or Saint "hears" and what he "writes down."

Protestants and Roman Catholics have long identified Revelation with the Bible, making no real distinction between the written word and the experience that is the source of that written word. The "traditional Augustinian" Western view is that the Prophet, Apostle, or Saint simply "writes down" what he hears. The Holy Spirit dictates, and the Prophet transcribes word for word. No special attention is placed upon the purity of the prophet's heart, not the grace that enables his spiritual eyes to see and his spiritual ears to hear. In fact, the experience of the Prophet or Apostle, outside of what he himself relates, remains utterly unknown. Hence, the "conservative" maintain a doctrine of inerrancy of divine inspiration in which the Prophets and Apostles wrote what they heard much like the Muslims suppose that Mohammed wrote the Koran. The "liberal" more "progressive" wing, on the other hand, insert an "(undeified) human element" that is self-destructive to their very understanding of inspiration, for if this human element results in an inability to transcribe accurately the words of the Spirit, but results in a mixture of human reflections and those of the Spirit, than what is written is by necessity no longer entirely inspired. Both "liberal" and "conservative" alike, however, readily turn to linguistic or cultural studies in order to interpret the inspired text, because the written word is the only "given" with which they can work. ("Ultimately, this understanding of inspiration and Holy Scripture is based on the fact that they do not believe that revelation takes place via the Uncreated energies of the Holy Spirit, but through divinely created words.")

In the Orthodox Christian Church, the experience of the Prophet, Apostle, or Saint is not some unknown phenomenon, but is the vision beyond sight of the Uncreated glory of Christ "seen" by the believer who has been purified, illumined and is now in a state of theosis (deification). ["We shall discuss these three stages in the Christian life at length in the following two chapters. In brief, purification refers to the purification of the heart; illumination refers to the Holy Spirit illumining the heart and the gift of unceasing inner prayer in the heart activated by the Holy Spirit, deification (theosis) refers to the vision of the Christ that likewise transfigures the one who sees Him. This final stage of deification (theosis) is also referred to by the biblical terms "perfection" ("this also we wish, even your perfection." 2 Corinthians 13:9) and glorification ("And the glory which Thou gavest Me I have given them; that they may be one, even as We are one" (John 17:22). Given this empirical knowledge, the Orthodox Church teaches that Revelation and the Bible are not identical and that a real distinction exists between the written word and the experience that is the source of that written word. When the Prophets, Apostles, and Saints speak to men in their writings, the words that they speak are created words, words belonging to this world, but they are also a "translation" of the ineffable and unutterable uncreated words that the deified Prophet, Apostle, or Saint heard in a state of deification (theosis) and in precisely this sense his words are inspired. While the ineffable uncreated "words" that the Prophets, Apostles, or Saints hear utterly transcend the expressions and concepts of man, the created spoken words that employ human expression and metaphor, nevertheless, are divinely inspired and "unerringly guide those in the Church who are walking on the path of the deified towards deification (theosis). Outside of this path, the same words lead to deception. (Father John Romanides, The Dogmatic and Symbolic Theology of the Orthodox Catholic Church, page 168.)

Please note: "Although the concept of "deification" (theosis) is most unfamiliar to Western Christian (Protestants and Roman Catholics), it is for the Orthodox Church the ultimate goal of the believer and the deepest purpose of the Incarnation. "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (2 Corinthians 8:9). The precise terms deification (theosis) was first employed by the champion of Orthodoxy Saint Athanasios who wrote, "God became man, so that man might become god (by grace.")

Saint Paul personally refers to this state of deification (theosis) when he writes, "I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such as one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter" (2 Corinthians 12:2-4)."] (Source: In Peace Let Us Pray to the Lord: An Orthodox Interpretation of the Gifts of the Spirit by Fr. Alexis (Trader). Monastery of Karakalou, Mount Athos, Greece)

(To be continued)

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MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU

The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.

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Glory Be To GOD For All Things!

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George