Monday, November 16, 2015

Theosis Part 1: Glowing with the Light of Christ

An important, though often misunderstood, aspect of Orthodoxy theology is the process of Theosis. What are Christians supposed to do after they "become Christians" or "enter the Church"? Can we actually become partakers of the Divine Nature (2 Peter 1:4)? Frederica Mathewes-Green​ explains.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Surprises in the Orthodox Church

An Orthodox Church service can be intimidating if you’re not use to a liturgical setting. But what often surprises people as they attend more and more Orthodox services is that Orthodox worship is not stiff and stuffy. In fact, there is a great amount of flexibility. Frederica Mathewes-Green notes that this very thing surprised her when she first started attending Orthodox worship services. She makes a striking analogy between Orthodox Divine Liturgy and a wedding banquet: both are elaborate, both are formal, both are celebratory. But neither should feel stiff, stuffy, or rule-based. Watch and see! Better yet, come and see!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Why Are There So Many Different Orthodox Churches?

One of the most common misunderstandings of the Orthodox Church is its interplay with ethnicity. When I tell people that I am Eastern Orthodox, most tend to automatically equate me with the Greek Church. “Oh, you’re Greek Orthodox.” In fact, someone once asked me, “Why are you Orthodox? You’re not Greek!” No, I am not Greek. But I am Orthodox. How does this work and what does this mean? Are Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Serbian Orthodox different denominations? Not at all. We are all in communion with one another—we are a part of the same church. Frederica Mathewes-Green explains.

The Empowerment of the Laity in the Orthodox Church

Perhaps one of the most striking things about Orthodoxy is its empowerment of the laity. The people, like the clergy, are responsible for safeguarding the Orthodox Faith. Through a particularly striking story, Frederica Mathewes-Green explains the power and purpose of laity’s role in the Orthodox Church. It seems to me that the Orthodox tread in the middle of two extreme tendencies. Watch the video and let me know wha you think!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Division in Christendom: The Great Schism & Reformation

Denominations never bothered me as a Protestant. It was just a fact of life. But as I  read Church history and inched closer and closer to Orthodoxy, the reality of 30,000+ denominations began to hit home; it ceased to be merely a statistic or fact of life and turned into a cause for great mourning. The Great Schism and the Reformation are two famous examples in Church history where the brokenness of humanity wounded the witness of Christianity forever.

Perhaps the most striking thing I realized during that time was that, though I have Luther to thank for the revolt against indulgences and whatnot, I still was not in line with what he believe. That is to say, though Martin Luther is the hero of many Protestants, these same Protestants would vehemently disagree with his belief in infant baptism and the reality of Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

God had mercy on us and allowed us to join the Orthodox Church in 2013. Watch the video below and see what Frederica Mathewes-Green has to say.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

What Does Unity Mean in the Orthodox Church?

In the Orthodox Church, unity does not simply mean being part of the same organization or under the same authority—it means believing the same thing. The unity of the Orthodox faith comes from within, not from without. As Frederica Mathewes-Greene explains, the difference in this way of thinking is kind of like the difference between an exoskeleton and an endoskeleton.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Why Do Orthodox Christians Call Mary the Theotokos?

Orthodox Christians refer to the Virgin Mary by a number of different titles. The two most common are Theotokos and Mother of God. But why do we use these titles instead of simply referring to her as Mary—or Mary the Mother of Jesus? The short of it, is that the titles we give to Mary reflect our Christology; the titles we use for her are important in safeguarding the doctrine of Jesus Christ, who is fully man and fully God. I have written elsewhere about this topic and a little bit of the history behind it. But check if you are not really into reading about it, at least check out the video below.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Role of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox Church

Why do Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians pay so much attention to the Virgin Mary? This is a natural query in the mind of most protestants. The answer, in short, is because we love her. What does this mean? Far from being able to address this topic entirely in this short article, I would like to let you hear what Frederica Mathewes-Green has to say on the subject. The below video is three minutes and, though it will not explain everything, it may give you a glimpse into the role of the Virgin Mary in the Orthodox Church.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Sign of the Cross, Icons, and Tradition in the Orthodox Church

What are icons and why do Orthodox Christians kiss them? Icons are like family photos. Just like a deployed soldier may kiss a photo of his wife, we kiss icons of Saints who have fallen asleep in Christ.

Perhaps you are also wondering what the sign of the cross means. Check out this video where Frederica explains how Orthodox Christians make the sign of the cross, what it means, and how she began to appreciate the Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

This video is part of an ongoing series entitled Welcome to the Orthodox Church produced the Theoria Youtube Channel .

Monday, August 31, 2015

Prayer to the Saints

Most Protestants are uncomfortable with the idea that Orthodox (and Roman Catholic) Christians "pray to the saints." Most of the discomfort centers around the word "pray." What does it mean to "pray to the saints?" Frederica Mathewes-Green explains, in the video below, that the word "pray," in English, used to just mean "to make a request." So, when we pray to the saints, we are, in fact, asking for them to pray for us. We are not praying to them like they are Jesus Christ.

 The Saints who have fallen asleep in the Lord are not dead, they are alive! For our God is the God of the living, not the dead! And they are with Christ, now, worshipping him and praying for us. Watch the video and let me know what you think!

Friday, August 28, 2015

An Introduction to the Orthodox Worship Space

Earlier this month I had the privilege of spending some time with Frederica Matthewes-Green while filming a video series to complement her new book, Welcome to the Orthodox Church. The entire video series will be offered for free on the Theoria Youtube Channel and can be viewed as standalone videos or as a visual aid for the book. Since Orthodoxy is something I am particularly interested in sharing, I will be writing a bloggity-kind-of-blog, like this one, for each video release.

Our trip to Maryland was a whirlwind to say the least. We arrived on a Saturday and immediately filmed Great Vespers. The next day we filmed Divine Liturgy, a Memorial Service, and Coffee Hour. Beginning on Monday we set up our in the nave of the Church to film Frederica speaking. By Wednesday evening we had packed up and Thursday morning around 4:15AM we hit the road. It was a positive experience! I particularly enjoyed getting to know the Holy Cross community in Linthicum, Maryland. The temple, and people, wonderful!

In the first video, entitled An Introduction to the Orthodox Worship Space, Frederica introduces the basics of of the Orthodox worship space—the altar, the iconostasis, and iconography—in order to help orient those who have never been in, or are confused by, the parts of an Orthodox Church.

Orthodox architecture is quite specific, but there is also room for variation. You will notice, in America particularly, that many Orthodox Churches are housed in former Protestant churches—and so the overall shape of the Church can vary radically.

Watch the video below and let me know what you think. And, as always, if you have any questions feel free to ask! Here is a playlist where all the Welcome to the Orthodox Church videos will be hosted as they are released. Be sure to share the video with your friends, family, and parishes—facebook, twitter, email . . . anyway you can! Also, feel free to embed these videos on your parish website for inquirers.


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