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What Should We Know About the Eastern Orthodox Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
January 12, 2023 4:57 pm

What Should We Know About the Eastern Orthodox Church?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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January 12, 2023 4:57 pm

Episode 1140 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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CoreChristianity.com

 

Questions in this Episode

 

1. Is it OK for Christians to use online dating apps?

2. Did the work God gave Adam and Eve to do make them co-creators?

3. What is the Eastern Orthodox church?

4. How do I share the gospel with my uncle who is Jehovah’s Witness?

 

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What should we know about the Eastern Orthodox Church? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer, along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Here's our phone number. If you have a question, it's 833-THE-CORE. You can also post your question on one of our social media accounts, and you can email us anytime at questionsatcorechristianity.com.

First up today, let's go to Robbie in Tennessee. Robbie, what's your question for Pastor Adriel? Well, the Bible doesn't have a clear verse about online dating. Of course, we do get a lot of information in Scripture about who to pursue. We're called to Mary in the Lord, and so I think that in terms of dating, you know you want to seek out someone who is a fellow believer in Jesus Christ, and that's the most important thing, first and foremost, marrying within the covenant community, we might say, and so not just dating today, but really pursuing a partner. With regard to online dating, I know believers who have met their spouse through online dating, and so it's not something where I think it's just forbidden in Scripture.

I think with all of this, though, we just need to exercise wisdom. Online dating, there's also been a lot of not-so-good stuff that have resulted from that, and so there's a degree of anonymity that an individual can have with the online thing. It's really hard to get to know someone's community, to really get to know them, so I think that you have to exercise wisdom, but again, this is an area of Christian liberty. It's not something where the Bible strictly forbids or condemns something like online dating. I appreciate the question, Robbie. I think just across the board, so much of our interactions with others or just online interactions would be good to get back to grabbing coffee and sitting across from each other and getting to know each other in that way. That's how real friendships are cultivated, and so God bless you, and thanks for your question.

Just a follow-up question for you. I'm sure as a pastor you experience this, where you have a young person or maybe a not-so-young person come to you, and they say, Hey, I'm dating this wonderful guy, this wonderful girl. They aren't a Christian, but they're really moral, and I believe if I just start dating them and bring them to church, that they'll eventually come to Christ. What do you think about that, Pastor?

What do you say to them? When you're thinking about dating, this person that ultimately you're getting to know, but the hope is that this is going to go further, that this is somebody that I'm getting to know with the hope of marrying them, don't just settle. That's certainly the most important thing. What you really want in a partner, what God calls you to pursue, is someone who loves him, who is a Christian, who's a part of a church. If that's not there, then I would say, Look, be friends. Get to know each other, but don't be serious about pursuing a relationship. Now, of course, I know that in God's providence, and I've seen this happen too, God has used that even to bring people to himself, but I don't think that justifies what's sometimes referred to as missionary dating. I'm not in favor of missionary dating. I think this is so important, too important for us to just say, Let's see if it works out, if they do come around. At the end of the day, one of the big problems with that, Bill, and I'm sure that you'd agree, is we don't want people to embrace church and Jesus because they want us.

I want to be with you, but you're not a Christian, so the person says, Oh, I guess I'll just become a Christian so that I can have you, so that I can be with you. Well, no, that's not the right approach, the proper approach. It can be really dangerous, and it can hurt many people, and I've seen that happen too, and so we want to exercise wisdom there. Good counsel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Maybe there is a passage of the Bible that you find really confusing. You've always kind of stumbled over it and like some clarifications. Adriel would love to talk to you about that.

Maybe you've got something going on in your life where your Christian walk is running up against something maybe in your work or your school, where you're experiencing some type of persecution or being asked to do something that's contrary to your beliefs. Well, we'd love to hear from you. Here's our phone number. It's 833-843-2673.

That's 833-THE-CORE. We do receive voicemails as well, and you can call us with your voicemail 24 hours a day at that number. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Mary. I have been reading someone who refers to Adam and Eve's responsibilities in the garden as being God's co-creators. The person also refers to the fact that we have technology and art, and that also means that we are co-creators. Does the language of be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and rule over creation imply that we are co-creators? I suspect that the answer is no, but I'm not sure how to explain that.

Thank you for all you're doing. Yeah, excellent question. I think it's proper for us to talk about that Adam and Eve in the garden are pictured as God's vice-regents. They're ruling in one sense after the model that he set earlier in Genesis. God is depicted as the great king who creates from nothing, making all things ex nihilo, that is, from nothing.

That's really important for us to understand. It emphasizes God's power, God's might, the fact that there's nothing that can compete with God or that is beside God. He's the mighty ruler, but then he creates Adam and Eve to rule in one sense after him as the kings and queens of creation. In some sense, I think we can talk about the fact that God has created us to be fruitful and multiply and given us creativity and so on and so forth.

If we want to draw lines of analogy there, I think that that's okay. I think what we can't do, and we have to be really careful that we don't imply, is that there isn't a real creator-creature distinction. In other words, we can reflect something of God and his holiness, but you and I are not God and can't be God as he is because he's the Lord. There's this chasm, if you will, between the creator and the creature. God makes from nothing.

That's not how we are. I think if you want to talk about it in the sense of God blessing mankind, blessing humanity with these gifts that he's given to us to reflect his goodness, his glory, to rule after the manner that he's called us to. If you're drawing lines of analogy there, then great, but if you're collapsing that vital distinction between the creator and the creature, then you have real problems. If you're saying God is a creator and we're creators just like God, I would say no, we're not.

No, you're not. God makes from nothing miraculously by his power, but he has gifted us with creativity and the ability to build and to do those types of things. I think that we give thanks to the Lord for that and we see that as a part of his gifts to us, but again, not collapsing the creator creature distinction. God bless. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We want to offer you a free resource today that we think will be really helpful to you because it explores six important topics that are often overlooked in the church today.

This resource is called Tough Questions Answered and it's a resource by Doug Powell. It's a short booklet that we can put in your hands for free. We'd be happy to send this to you that answers some of those difficult questions related to world religions. The second chapter talks about Buddhism, Islam, the New Age movement, which as many of you know is growing in popularity. What about those people who say that they're spiritual but not religious?

We all know someone like that. If you want to learn more about these things and how to engage people around you who embrace some of these views, get a hold of this free resource, Tough Questions Answered, over at corechristianity.com. We'd love to get that resource in your hands. You can go to corechristianity.com forward slash offers to find it. And of course, you can always call us for any one of our resources. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 833-843-2673. Well, let's go to a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners earlier this week.

This is Dasha. Hi, Pastor Adrian. I appreciate all your faithful work. My question was, what is your take on the doctrine of theosis as held by the Orthodox Christian Church, but also the concept of deification as the Western parallel?

Thank you. Man, getting into some deep theology today, and I love it. Oftentimes, when Christian friends who are part of the Eastern Orthodox Church talk about salvation, the doctrine of salvation, the technical word for that is soteriology. They refer to what they call theosis or divinization, and it's this process of transformation wrought by the Holy Spirit, the work of God's grace in the life of a believer, and how they talk about grace and define graces. There are a lot of differences here in terms of just the language that's used, but it is this process whereby an individual is made more and more like God, if you will, where they're deified. Oftentimes, passages of scripture that our friends will point to are places like 2 Peter 1, which says in verse 3, and just listen to this.

This is really beautiful. His divine power, that is God's divine power, has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. Now here, we were just talking about the creator-creature distinction and how it's very important for us not to collapse that. Sometimes people will say, well, is that what they're doing when they're talking about deification, about theosis?

The answer is no. There's still that creator-creature distinction, but they will say salvation is this process of theosis, of becoming godlike, if you will, by the grace of God. It's sort of analogous to, at least in my tradition, what we sometimes talk about as glorification, when we're transformed by the glory of the Lord on the last day in the presence of God. One of the critiques that's often made, which I would also make thinking about salvation as theosis, as the Eastern Orthodox do, is that it sort of collapses all of the language that the Bible uses related to salvation into this just one concept. When the Bible talks about our salvation, we sometimes call this the ordo salutis, the order of salvation.

It mentions a number of different things. You have calling, regeneration, being born again by the grace of the Holy Spirit, justification, adoption, sanctification, perseverance, glorification. These are all biblical words, and they're not the same thing. Justification is not the same thing as sanctification, which is not the same thing as adoption. Each of these things is highlighting something unique about our salvation. When you only talk about salvation as theosis, I think what you're doing is you're collapsing, if you will, that great order of salvation that's given to us in scripture. That's one critique that I might have. I know that several Eastern Orthodox theologians and scholars have responded or attempted to respond at least to some of that critique, trying to have more of a dialogue with theologians in the West talking about the relationship between things like justification and theosis.

That's what I would say about that. I think it's important for us, again, not to collapse a creator-creature distinction, but I think it's also important for us to understand the way in which salvation works according to scripture by using the terminology that the Bible gives us, which is more specific even than just one word, divinization or theosis. We're talking about things like justification, which I would say is not a process over time of transformation but a definitive act whereby God takes a sinner and says, You are justified by faith in the name of my son, Jesus Christ. I credit to you my righteousness, the righteousness of Christ, the righteous life that he lived. I credit that to you on the basis of faith for giving all of your sins. We need to talk about that because the Bible talks about that and we derive such comfort from those doctrines. I appreciate you bringing this up. It sounds to me like you've been studying this issue. I pray that the Lord continues to give you wisdom as you grow in the knowledge of the scriptures.

Thanks. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adrian Sanchez. He actually had another call regarding Orthodoxy. Russell called from Kansas City, Adrian, and said, What's the difference between Greek Orthodoxy and Syrian Orthodoxy? Well, I'm not Orthodox.

I imagine that the liturgies are in different languages. There are actually some significant differences. Obviously, I don't want to speak for the Greek Orthodox or the Syrian Orthodox. I think that there are some theological differences in terms of the ecumenical councils. They don't necessarily agree on which ecumenical councils are binding for the church and which ones aren't.

That might be an area of difference. When I say ecumenical councils, you think of councils like the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. There were a lot of important things that were discussed related to Christ, related to his personhood, and so forth. There are, it seems to me, differences. Oftentimes, people will say, and you hear this from different traditions, our church is unified and we've never had any splits or schisms. We've just held it together.

We've held on to the truth for all of this time. The reality is when you look at the history of the church, it's messy. There have been divisions. There have been splits. There have been schisms. This is why it's so important for us continually to go back to the Word of God and to pray that God gives us wisdom as we search the Scriptures, being guided by the Holy Spirit and understanding the truth of God's Word. Russell, I'm sorry that I can't speak to that more, but I appreciate the question.

As you said, Bill, right in line with the previous question. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Just a reminder that we are a listener-supported ministry, so we count on people just like you to help us pursue our mission to share the gospel and equip believers and answer the questions of non-believers.

We're all those things on this program. If you feel God might be calling you to help support us in our work and would like to make a gift, you can easily do that by going to corechristianity.com, clicking on the donate link to learn more. You can also find out about becoming an ongoing supporter by joining what we call our inner CORE, a great group of people who support us on a monthly basis.

Check that out at corechristianity.com. Let's go to Keith, who's calling in from Missouri. Keith, what's your question for Adriel?

Hey, Pastor Adriel. How you doing? I'm doing well. How you doing, Keith? I'm doing all right, man. I really appreciate what you're doing. I listen to your show every day on the radio, like literally every day. All right.

Thanks, man. My question is, my uncle and his family are really strict Jehovah Witnesses, and they don't believe nothing else. I want to argue with them because he thinks there's only 144,000 going to go to heaven, and that's Jehovah Witnesses. But I don't know how to argue with him.

I don't want to see him go to hell because they believe in the wrong thing. You know what I mean? Yeah. I just wish I had the strength or the wisdom to know the right things to say to make them change their mind.

You know what I mean? I don't know if there's anything you could help me with that or not. I mean, absolutely, Keith. I mean, that's part of what we want to do on this broadcast is help equip believers to engage their loved ones with the truth of scripture.

I hope that you stay on the line. I think there are some resources that we can send you. Certainly the book, Core Christianity, which we oftentimes give out on the broadcast because it talks about some of the vital Christian doctrines that the Jehovah's Witnesses reject.

So I think that's one resource that would be helpful for you. The other thing I would say is pray. We know that it is the work of the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of people to see deception, to see the truth of God's word. And so this isn't something where you're going to be able to argue them into the faith. That doesn't mean that we don't seek to be persuasive and use scripture and that God is the one who uses his word by the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our minds, our lives, our hearts.

But I would just say, first things first, start praying. And you probably already are, but be praying for this uncle, for his family, that the Lord would open his eyes as you share the scripture with him. Now look, Jehovah's Witnesses use a different Bible than we do. They call it the New World Translation.

And I've looked through it. They change a lot of passages there, especially passages that relate to the deity of Jesus Christ because they reject the cardinal core Christian doctrine that Jesus is God. And so when you look at places like John 1 and Colossians chapter 1, texts that usually we could look at and just say, oh yeah, this is very clearly saying that Jesus is God, one with the Father. They've changed those verses. And so there's this real strong delusion there. Again, that's why you need to be praying.

But there are texts that you can go to. One of the things that I will do with my friends who are Jehovah's Witnesses is I'll say, let's open up your Bible actually for a moment. And let's go to a place like Psalm 102 where the psalmist is praising God for his great work of creation and all the things that the Lord has done. And the psalm in the Jehovah's Witness Bible, the New World Translation, you know, they translate the divine name Jehovah. Throughout Psalm 102, God is being addressed as Jehovah.

And towards the end of Psalm 102, it says, Of old you, Jehovah, laid the foundation of the earth. The heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain. They will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away. But you are the same.

Your years have no end. And I'll ask my Jehovah's Witness friends, you know, who's the psalmist talking about there? And they'll say, well, it's pretty clear, Jehovah God. This is Jehovah.

You know, what's so wild about that is you take Psalm 102, and then you go over in the New Testament to the book of Hebrews. In Hebrews chapter 1, the author of the Hebrews is talking about how Jesus is superior to all the angels. And then he says this in Hebrews chapter 1 verse 8, To the Son, He says, that is, the Father says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness. Therefore, God your God has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions. And then he says this, this is what the Father says to the Son, You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain. They will all wear out like a garment, like a robe you will roll them up.

Like a garment they will be changed, but you are the same, and your years have no end. Now who's the author of the Hebrews quoting there? What's he quoting? He is quoting Psalm 102. This Psalm that's praising Jehovah, except he's applying it to who? He's applying it to Jesus. He's saying Jesus is Jehovah. So there's one place in scripture, two places in scripture, that you can go with your Jehovah's Witness friends and say, Look, at the end of the day we want the scriptures to shape our theology, to help us understand who God is as he's revealed himself. And here, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the author of the Hebrews is attributing Psalm 102, the one who's being praised in Psalm 102, he's saying that's Jesus. He's saying Jesus is Jehovah. These things are very clear, again, but I think you need to pray that the Spirit of God would be at work in your uncle's life so that he might see them, so that his eyes might be opened. Again, get a hold of some of those resources.

I think that's one way you can approach it. Also, focusing on the simplicity of the Gospel. It's not knocking on doors all day long that maybe might secure for you the chance that you're a part of the 144,000. No, it's the free grace of God that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, assumed humanity so that we, sinners, might have salvation through his perfect life, death, and resurrection. Salvation by grace through faith, it's a free gift. And as much as Jehovah's Witnesses talk about that and might try to say those things, use some of that language, because they misunderstand who Jesus is, they can't rightly understand the Gospel. The Gospel, the work of Christ for us, is tied to his personhood, who he is, rightly understood according to the Scriptures. And that's why talking about the deity of Christ's identity, talking about his grace, what he's done for us, is so important. And I just want to take a moment right now, Keith.

I know I've already gone long, but my heart goes out to you, and I'm grateful that you love your family. You want to see them come to faith. And so let's just pray for Keith and for his Uncle Lord. Be with Keith, give him wisdom, fill him with your Holy Spirit, and be with his Uncle Lord, opening his heart to receive your truth through scripture.

Would you deliver him from this deception and bring him into the truth? We pray in Jesus' name. Amen.

Amen. God bless you, Keith, and thanks for listening. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar. Or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-12 18:08:29 / 2023-01-12 18:18:17 / 10

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