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I am back

I have not posted anything in a very long time, due to the fact that my main mode of communicating online switched from PC to tablet two years ago, and having to write using the screen keyboard is like trying to type with marshmallows on your fingertips. Now that I have finally solved that isssue recently by picking up a wireless keyboard, I am going to be writing again on this blog. So you, the one guy that reads this blog, be prepared. 


-E Castleman


You’re so vain, you probably think the verse is about you

We have all witnessed it: The young talentless and clueless person on stage in one of those singing shows. It almost seems a bit fake at first, but as they begin to cry it becomes convincing, and we start to hear them speak in disbelief, as if they are the part of some sort of practical joke, and in all reality they aren’t bad as the reactions from the judges would suggest, but are actually good at what they are attempting. We see this all of the time in our daily lives, and it is no more apparent in our culture; this notion that a person thinks “I was born to do this”, when from the outside, it is quite apparent it isn’t what they should be doing. It is a pride thing, as well as a false image thing.

Does anyone ever read the bible with a Calvinist perspective and think that just as easily as someone can read it to be certain of salvation, another can read it and be certain salvation will never be theirs? Let us be honest; this is what the system entails. For every elect there is one, if not more who are not in the redemptive plan of Christ. So, by my estimation, this means that more so than not, those who are reading the bible are on the outskirts of God’s favor. Notice though, nobody ever reads it as if they are not in fact Jacob. Everyone reads it like they are the pretty princess at the ball, and if I were to guess, which can be a dangerous thing, I would guess that a Calvinist would hear this and think that the non elect probably do fool themselves into believing that they are counted among the elect, when in fact they are wolves in sheep clothing.

However, one must wonder as to how a person can determine if they are one or the other. With so much a stake, and a system that prides itself on the finished work of Christ being a covering, and done and paid for 2000 years ago which is yours at the switch of sola fide , then I must assert that this very problem is scary enough to turn this therapeutic soteriology on its head.

What one is left with is the reality that we can only rest on personal experiences, however,the problem is that personal experiences are impossible to compare. Though similarities in euphoria can seem comparable, one would imagine that those kids on stage that are so blind to their lack of talent experience some type of euphoria in believing they are in fact “called by God to sing”.

Even more; I wonder how it is with such doctrines as total depravity that we can even trust ourselves with such a decision. We are fallible, aren’t we? This was one of the tenets in rejecting tradition if I remember correctly.

I guess what I am trying to get at is that the sales pitch of sola fide rests upon Christ’s finished work, however, it might not just be for you, and that takes the wind out of such a statement going from relaxing to nightmarish.


Is Eastern Orthodoxy Greek Platonism? A simple look

Is Eastern Orthodoxy Greek Platonism? 

Every so often, it is said that Eastern Orthodoxy is just rehashed Greek philosophy, mixed with Christianity. This argument works on some people, and for two reasons:
1- The general population is not well read on Greek philosophy
2- The general population isn’t familiar with church history
It is easy for this argument to poison the well – sorta speak- because it just isn’t feasible to expect the house wife to go and examine the texts, but then must rely on her pastor for the answers.  It also is a sneaky tactic, because it can make church history sound complicated, and not even worth the time to investigate. I for one, think a basic reading of the major church fathers is enough to conclude that there is a serious issues with Western rooted Christianity.
The best way to tackle such objections, is to dive into the big heresies, and learn about what it was that fueled the heretical thought of the declared heretics. It might bring about some clarity within these claims, and it might also show that heresy is easy to fall into. It is striking how easy it was for someone such as Nestorius to think the way he did, and we can even come to the conclusion that with his views on philosophy, that it made sense for him to think the way he did. The Monothelites, likewise, were attempting to do the right thing, but ended up with theology that denied Christ, all the while they were attempting to preserve Christ, but their philosophical commitments confused their thinking. 
What we must also consider when this argument is made, is what it means for Christianity as a whole. Is it possible to label one set part of the early church as influenced by Greek philosophy, and yet, say that Jesus wasn’t also an invention of Greek philosophy? This is exactly what the Jews argue to this day, so why would a Protestant argument against the early church, not carry over into the New Testament church? So, before one throws out the early church because such a claim has been made, one should consider what this does to Christianity as a whole, because once I am convinced that the early church is just a heretical group of platonists, what stops me from believing Jesus wasn’t just a creation of Greek speaking Jews, who had a Greek version of the Old Testement, that turned the Messiah into a super Socrates? Heck, Plato even seems to talk about Jesus hundreds of years before Christ was born:
 ‘The just man then, as we have pictured him, will be scourged, tortured, and imprisoned, his eyes will be put out, and after enduring every humiliation he will be crucified…”  
Plato here is talking about Socrates, who was the just man, but was killed by society, which some determine as “good”..yet, Socrates was good, yet killed. So for Plato, the only way to be truly “just” is to be killed by the government, or society. 
Is this where erroneous Jews conjured up the idea of Jesus? It goes without saying, that any argument posed against Christianity, labeled as heretical Platonism, must then be coupled with Jewish arguments as well. However, how do we then only place one foot into the argument, without going all the way, as some Protestants do? 
The answer to this, is that we need to understand that Greek philosophy was the language of the day. The NT is written in Greek, and the Old Testament that Jesus and the apostles used was Greek, and was translated using Greek words, that were laden with Greek philosophy, just as English is laden with Latin thoughts. When we “speak frankly” to someone, we assume it to mean, speak plainly, and honestly, but this word in the Latin history, was derived from the Franks propaganda against the Greeks, to promote the Frankish takeover, and to define the Franks as the good, vs the bad. However, when we use such a term, we are not using it in such a way, as to promote such an idea. 
The same goes for the use of certain terms, and certain themes. It is impossible for a world that is built on Greek language to overcome the use of a language impregnated with Greek philosophy. 
The use of Greek words, doesn’t equate to the endorsement of Greek philosophy. However, for someone like Nestorius, to use the Greek philosophy of mixtures, and apply that to how he understood Jesus is wrong, and is why he was heretical. For the Monothelites to use the Greek philosophical view of opposites, and apply that to Jesus, lead their theology to be deemed heretical. 
What one might even come to find out, is that the ones making the argument against Eastern Orthodoxy, might even be a product of the very thing they seem to be arguing against.

Two steps forward, two steps back

When a person is convinced at a certain point of reformed theology, and then goes onto disagreeing with reformed theology for Roman Catholicism or Eastern Orthodoxy, what would happen of they then reverted back to reformed theology? Can Sola Scriptura really be believed, when they themselves are a walking contradiction in that they have proven through practice, that they shouldn’t rely on themselves for biblical interpretation?

I always think about this when a Protestant tries to argue with me. What would I be left with, if I were to go back to reformed theology? Only another step in my view that scripture cannot be handled by me.

The consistent step for me, if I were to ever be convinced Orthodoxy is false, would have to be a step away from Christianity, any other step would be a contradiction. The reason for this, is because reformed theology isn’t a cosmic theology, but reaction religion, that only exists if Rome is the whore. Reformed theology couldn’t have existed prior to Rome’s perversion of the gospel, and as St Maximus says, you then must be grateful for evil, because you wouldn’t know the good without it.

This goes hand and hand with my process of deciding between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Reformed Christians mocked me for changing over to Eastern Orthodox from Rome (convinced of) as if it proved their views true, as if me showing that I can be wrong about what is true is in any way more proof of sola scriptura, when in fact it is more proof against it.

Septuagint vs Hebrew OT



Did you ever consider this?

I have been having an exchange with Drake Shelton over at Green Baggins blog recently, and though I have found it somewhat pointless, I can’t help but wonder how many times I have to hear the same type of thoughts coming from the reformed before I lose my marbles. It is as if they cannot see that their way of thinking is really arrogant, and, if I may say so myself, leaves little room for fallibility. In Rome there is only one pope who claims to be infallible, but in Protestantism, everyone is a pope. It seems as though a reformation defender will always try to convince me that I need to weigh the facts about Orthodoxy before I commit, as if they have, and I just am a liar, or out of mind. However, they reveal something about themselves when doing this.

Take for instance James White’s post, where he gives people who are considering converting to Rome some things that they should think about before converting here

Then recently, Drake Shelton writes something similar with me in mind:

“I hope you return to the Reformed Faith. As a convert to the anchoretic movement, did you consider all that this entails before you left? Did you consider that your churches were already given centuries of playtime and they left their countries in a master-serf state of economic and politic scandal that gave rise to the Russian communist rejection of Christianity in the 20 th century? Did you consider that God destroyed your great cities with Muslim invasions due to your idolatry? Have you traced the influence of the welfare state known as monasticism through the centuries of Christianity? The best that can be said of the monastic system, which is at the heart of your religion, is that after its Church failed to reform Rome and establish a Christian Civilization, God judged it for its decadence and the monasteries housed the little literature that would later be used to keep the master class literate enough to keep some semblance of civilization afloat through the dark ages (Rome was still connected to you at this point). That’s not too great of a resume man. The Protestant Reformation is the golden age of human history. I have yet to find a convert to the Anchoretic Churches who understands this. You need to come to grips with something. You are going to have to go back to some kind of master-serf- divine right of kings system of civilization, which was popular in Orthodox Christian Russia, and completely deny the human rights that came out of the Protestant Glorious Revolution and the English Bill of Rights. Your monasticism is going to commit you to a hard core socialist view of economics- you may even start to dabble in Sir Thomas Moore’s (Later Jesuit system) Communist trash but either way its bleak man. Are you seriously prepared to do this?”

I wonder, do these people, when receiving new followers into their system of thought, run down a similar list to make sure these people understand why they left their last church, or former system of thought? Nope. I know, that if I were to tell them I agree with them, and am converting back, they would just say that I have made the right choice. I know that my old church would teach some classes for a month or two, then set up a date to receive the new converts, without ever questioning if they understood the good and bad things about reformed theology, or, even understood the good arguments place against reformed theology. What they are saying when they do this, is that they don’t need to know what other people think, because they are correct. They are popes, who have been taught by the Holy Spirit. They are not fallible. I have actually heard of a respected reformed teacher saying before a debate against some well known Roman Catholics, that he didn’t need to read any literature on Roman Catholicism, because reformed theology is correct. This is the same thing these two above me are saying.

However, let me set something straight. When I first started agreeing with Orthodoxy, I met someone who is now a very close friend, and a well respected Orthodox thinker, and told him that I was going to pursue Orthodoxy. He told me right off the bat, that I needed to read more, and sit for 3 years before making a commitment. He told me that the fact that I left reformed theology after agreeing with it, requires that I examine myself if I actually believed that it was wrong – after all – I was also confessing that I was wrong all of those years as well, so it makes sense that I reflect on why I made such a mistake. Later I met with who is now my priest, and told him about my past, and he told me that we had to wait a year, and during that year, we had to visit all of the different orthodox churches we could find, so that we see the good and the bad in Orthodoxy, because the church does the same with us. He also told me that 3 years was the requirement in the early church, and it is a good path to take, in order to make sure I understand what I am getting involved with.

It is interesting, because in Orthodoxy, I have yet to see the church play the infallible game against other traditions. Orthodoxy usually treats people’s choices with respect, and understands that these situations, especially in today’s world are very hard.

Is Total Depravity logical?

Total depravity- the idea that we are born with an evil nature, unable to will the good is a popular notion proposed by some of the reformational heroes. Are we really just dried up grapes? Did we fall from being free, into being bound by our own nature? Can we, as depraved creatures, determine what is good vs what is bad? How then, do we determine that we are really depraved, while being in such a confused state: and how then, if we are ever able to be freed from our depravity- are we able to determine that we are truly free from it? How can we ever be freed of something that we cannot comprehend? We have read or heard :a Calvinist has no business preaching to the undetermined- but, what seems to be even more obvious of a question, is what purpose is it to tell the depraved-the ones who cannot distinguish between the good and the bad-that they themselves are bad, and expect them to understand it?

To look at the problem of depravity from another angle shows problems as well. Since we have already placed a claim against the so called ‘non depraved” in regards to their outlook on the depraved, the question then becomes ; how is it possible to know you are not depraved, once you had been:made alive? What is the determining factor for someone who was once not able to know the good, to now determine that they truly know the good? How does one determine that they themselves are now free from the thoughts of bondage, and that it isn’t their depravity skewing their insight? For Luther, his anguish was over what he thought was an impossible knowledge of salvation; but how has depravity and election freed anyone from that same problem, if one cannot determine if they are free? Why can’t it be true that you are a wolf that looks like a sheep? You might say:  you know your intentions: but if the depraved cannot distinguish between the good and the evil, how do you know that what you think -the good is- that you are relying on at the moment, isn’t your depravity convoluting your moral perspective?

We now see two clear problems. The problem of preaching to the elect if Total Depravity is true -and- the problem of having certainty of being elect if Total Depravity is true.