Saturday, August 13, 2016

Diagnosis and Prescription

There are many problems facing the Coptic church today, many indeed. However the people seem unable or unwilling to address these problems and instead choose to bury their head in the sand. What is worse is if someone, especially a non-Egyptian, points these out, they are essentially shunned for speaking it. Here I will diagnose the problems first, then prescribe each problem a remedy. I will lay out the problems and how they can be solved since everyone seems clueless that they exist and or how to fix them.

1. Clericalism
Clericalism is rampant in the church. The priesthood is often, but not always, treated like an exclusive mens club. These men will come to the aid of one another regardless if he is in the wrong or not, rather than approaching a situation in an unbiased manner. Clergy will immediately defend one another against the people, even when the evidence overwhelmingly shows that clergy has done something wrong. This is especially a problem in the Coptic Church as when a priest does wrong he is simply moved to another church and the issue not addressed. The people allow this so the clergy continue to do it. Many seem to have this idea that speaking out against clergy is wrong. That is the furthest from the truth. In the 4th century St Cyril the Great, one of my favorite saints, incorrectly tried to canonize Ammonius who attempted to murder the prefect Orestes and was killed as a result of this attempt. The people rose up against St Cyril in defiance, and they were correct. St Cyril, the pillar of faith, was forced to reverse his decision.

Prescription - The people need to hold clergy accountable for their actions. This does not mean people need to constantly attack clergy, but if a clergyman is corrupt then his actions need to be made public, especially since we cannot count on the leadership of the church to defrock these priests, we know they will be protected and simply moved to another church. Perhaps starting a registry in which clergy can be rated according to personal experiences from people who have interacted with them, a website that people can check. This will force honesty from the clergy who abuse their position of power and hopefully keep corrupt people from becoming clergy in the first place. The leadership needs to understand that these positions attract mentally unstable power hungry people not interested in actually serving the people but only serving themselves. Those clergy need to be punished swiftly and severely, not coddled.


2. Ethnocentricism
The church suffers from a good dose of ethnocentricism, which makes evangelizing nearly impossible. Many expect catechumens to not only learn and accept an entirely new religion, but an entirely new culture and language. Neither of these are essential for salvation. However catechumens often feel left out or set aside, especially in churches where they refuse to use english. This often borders on racism, which I have seen a fair share of from people within the church who come to this country a persecuted people and then look down on black americans, another persecuted people. This is entirely unacceptable but is also rampant within the church. Many of these congregants seem to only be coming because it is their culture and not for salvation. So they see it as maintaining their culture and not as a means of healing the soul.

Prescription - When you come to any country the liturgy should be done in the language of that country. The people themselves need to use only that language to as not to alienate the people who come seeking Christ. Do not expect people to adopt your culture, but you should adopt theirs and adapt it to Orthodoxy. Copts seem to immigrate to countries with no plan whatsoever pertaining to the culture of the land they are immigrating to. This gives people the idea that Copts view their culture and language as superior to the land they immigrated to, which turns people off. Adapt to the surrounding culture in which you live so as to make it an easier transition for people converting.

3. Protestantism
The church has a serious problem with this. Many are attempting to adopt many aspects of protestantism into the church. Either knowingly or unknowingly destroying the church. I have written 11 books on the subject with the backing of Anba Youssef of the SUS Diocese in America. Sadly nobody has listened and the influx of protestantism into the church has continued. It has started with simply singing their songs, but take a look at what many of these people post on facebook and you can see that they are delving into protestant teaching. Not just C.S. Lewis, but frauds like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer. Many seem to see no difference between Orthodoxy and protestantism and consider all 40,000 denominations to be Christian. This is dangerous as it equates protestantism to Orthodoxy, telling people they can get the same result without being Orthodox, which is untrue.

Prescription - Stop singing protestant songs. Stop seeking protestants for theological advice. Start delving into the rich history of your own faith. There are countless writings from Orthodox Christians that far exceed what any protestant could produce. The early writings of the church, especially the commentaries on scripture, are invaluable, use them. Sadly many Copts have no idea when it comes to early church writings and are content settling for superficial teachings and teachings that focus on pulling emotional strings. Listen to those that spent time as a protestant and converted, stop thinking you know it all and listen to those that actually do know. You are destroying the church so be humble for once and listen to what people are saying who are against it.

There are a number of other problems facing the church, I felt these are the most important and if these are fixed the others will eventually work themselves out. You may be surprised that I did not include islam on this list. Islam is merely a physical danger and in no way presents a theological danger to the church. As Tertullian said the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church, we should not be worried about physical persecution. Our numbers grew in the early church when we were physically persecuted. The danger came when people became complacent and theological errors entered into the church, fracturing it. Incorrect theology poses a far greater danger then someones ability to persecute another.








Sunday, July 31, 2016

Defining What is Christian

How do we define a Christian and why is that important? It would seem that the definition of Christian is ambiguous, having been watered down my countless denominations that continually redefine Christian theology. Why is this important? It is important to define what a Christian is because if we do not then anyone can call themselves a Christian and be misled or mislead others into incorrect teachings. It is important to define what a Christian or Christianity is so that people can know the truth. If we accept anyones profession that they are a Christian without having first investigated then we will be held accountable.

The easiest way is to contrast everything against the sacrament of sacraments, the Eucharist. In the Orthodox Church this sacrament is considered to be the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, not as in the Catholic teaching of transubstantiation, but a mystical or spiritual transformation, not a transformation of substance. It is not considered symbolic at all in Orthodoxy. It is not considered symbolic by Christ in the Gospel of St John either, He says: "Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum."

Christ does not say that this is symbolic in any way, He is literal, in fact when the people were grumbling He reiterated that He was being literal. This caused many to desert Christ, so why didn't He explain that He was only speaking symbolically? To further prove this point, when Christ instituted the Eucharist in Mt 26:26 He said: “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Notice that Christ does not once say that this is a symbol but that this is My Body and this is My Blood. He then refers to this as His blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins. This is literal, not symbolic in any way.

Christ says in John 6:53 that: "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed,[h] and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him." This again is clear in that we must partake of the Eucharist, which Christ instituted and said is His Body and His Blood. Christ says that unless we eat His flesh and drink His blood, we will have no life in us, meaning we cannot receive salvation unless we partake of the Eucharist.

So it stands to reason, whomever rejects the Eucharist rejects Christ and in turn rejects their own salvation. This we cannot consider to be Christian. Any denomination that either rejects the Eucharist or teaches that it is merely symbolic cannot be considered Christian. For any Orthodox to suggest that one who rejects the Eucharist is Christian is heresy because they are stating that a person who rejects Christ is in some way a Christian. This is in no way a condemnation of the people who may believe this as most probably do it out of ignorance. It is important for Orthodoxy to strictly define what it means to be Christian, and this is one way of doing that.













Saturday, July 30, 2016

Why the Apostles were not liars

There seems to be a lot of denial when it comes to Christ and Christianity these days and more often than not the Apostles and their accounts are portrayed as unreliable and fanciful tales of magic. If one did not stop and think critically this would seem to be the case. How could someone be brutally tortured, crucified and then raise themselves from the dead? Where is the evidence for such a claim? I will tell you, it is in the lives of the Apostles and disciples of Christ. If anyone knew that the resurrection, and other claims in scripture, were false, it would be them. So why is this important and how does it prove anything? Generally speaking when some religious person makes outrageous claims they do it for a purpose and that purpose is power, money, women, fame, or any of the trappings that come with the ability to manipulate people. But this is not the case when it comes to the Apostles nor the disciples. Many of them were martyred for their faith and all of them lived very poor and meager lives, hardly reminiscent of cult leaders.

If anyone had a reason to steal the body of Christ it would have been the Apostles, this would have given weight to their claims and the claims of Christ. So that means they would have been living a lie, but for what reason? They gained nothing. Every Apostles, aside from St John, was either tortured then martyred or just martyred. I could see maybe one Apostle doing this and being so delusional to think that his lie was real and being martyred for it, but 11 of them? Surely one of them would have broke and admitted this to save his own skin. What of St John the Apostle? Why wouldn't he admit that this was a lie to save himself from being exiled an old man to the obscure island of Patmos? St Peter, who seemed to have been a weak in faith at times, was crucified upside down at his own request. Now why didn't he break and admit this was a lie? After all it was him who denied Christ three times out of fear for his life, if anyone were to break it would have been him, but he didn't.

It makes little to no sense for a group of people to maintain a lie like this for no reason. None of them gained anything. They were constantly persecuted and ridiculed. They were poor and ended up dying miserable deaths. Unless all of them were totally insane I see no purpose for them to lie. The probability of all of them being insane has to be off the charts, and then you would have to explain how these insane and unstable people were convincing educated and uneducated, rich and poor of their claims. The only logical conclusion is that the Apostles were not lying about the things they saw, that these things were not some fanciful musings of an insane person, but reality.

One also has to understand that Christ did these things in full view of the public, for all to see and hear. If the Gospel writers were lying surely someone would have come forward to discredit them, but even the jews did not deny that Christ did something, calling Him a "sorcerer" (Sanhedrin 43a). They aren't denying the existence of Christ or that He indeed did miracles or some kind. If Christ did not exist certainly the jews would not admit to His existence. If Christ and or his followers were lying about His "miracles" certainly the jews would have made no reference to it, but they instead try to explain it as being sorcery.

We know from several sources outside scripture that Christ existed historically, I don't even think people cognizant of the facts would deny this. What is in question is, was He who He and His followers claimed? There is enough evidence to suggest that Christ was who He and His followers claimed He was. This is not indisputable evidence, it is inferential evidence that one could base their conclusions upon.

It defies logic that the Apostles would have knowingly upheld a lie and not buckled under the pressure of persecution and a life of poverty. It also defies logic to say Christ did not exist at all and that all the stories are made up. If Christ did not exist surely the jews wouldn't admit to it and if Christ did nothing that could be considered a miracle then why would the jews attempt to explain it away as sorcery. To say there is no evidence is to state a falsehood, there is evidence. It is inferential evidence, not undeniable truth. But one could easily take these facts and base their faith on it as the foundation of their faith. There is truth there. It is not as if there is nothing to base faith on, there clearly is, this however is the choice one must make based on what we know.












Thursday, June 9, 2016

Inequality in the Church

One thing I think that bothers me most, aside from the growing influx of protestantism into the church, is inequality. I cannot speak for every church as I have not been to every church. I know there are churches where the congregant are relatively poor and ones where the congregants are relatively rich, and some that are in the middle. From what I have seen there is inequality to some degree within most of the churches. There are people who have and do not have worry and there are those that do not have anything but worry because they are lacking. This is not how it was originally meant to be.

In Acts 4 we read in verse 32 that "Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need." If we are apostolic then why do we not do this, not necessarily exactly this but something akin to this? Why are there people within our own church lacking while others have abundance? At what point did we get away from this and why? These are questions I am not sure I have or can find the answer to. But one thing is certain this is a problem that I do not think many people want to address.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Rationalizing the Existence of God

I believe in the big bang, and science in general. I believe that God created in a way that is scientifically discoverable and understandable. I also believe that the account in Genesis is more metaphorical than literal. What does this have to do with rationalizing the existence of God? I believe that the big bang could not have happened without God as the motivating factor. We know that matter cannot self exist or decide to create itself unless someone creates it. We also know, as far as I am aware, that matter does not decide to explode creating life through the process of evolution.

We seem to, however, come to the same conclusion with God that we do matter. What created matter? I assert that God created matter and initiated the big bang. Well then, what created God? This seems to be a big, if not bigger, problem than what created matter. But that is assuming that God can be created or come into existence like matter. It is lowering the creator to the level of creation and there is no comparison.

For instance, mankind can understand, observe, and test matter. We can know its properties and how it behaves through the scientific method. We can, with a degree of certainty, predict how matter will behave. We cannot do the same for God, by definition he is beyond matter, above it, outside it. A finite being trying to understand and grasp an infinite being is impossible, which is why we, as finite beings, lower God to an understandable level like that of matter. Its like infinity in mathematics, which has driven people absolutely mad in trying to grasp it, and there are a number of examples of this because the nature of infinity is not something a finite being can fully understand.

Its like comparing a computer to its creator. Yes the computer is complex, but it is explainable and understandable. The human, however, is far more complex. A single strand of human DNA is far more complex than the most advanced computer system today. In fact most people do not understand DNA, the believe it and accept it, but its beyond their capability to understand. Now compare an infinite being to a finite being. Its impossible.

So I assert that matter cannot always exist, it is finite and therefore must have an infinite creator. To assert that matter has "always existed" would be to infer that matter is infinite and we know that this is not the case. So, there must be a God outside creation yet inside creation at the same time. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Radicalization

When people hear the word radical they almost immediately think of a muslim, as if only muslims can become radicalized. The fact of the matter is anyone of any faith, or those without it, can become radicalized. Yes, certainly muslims can be radicalized, but so too can Christians. We can look back to Torquemada and his inquisition, was he not radical? We can look to the protestant reformation in which protestants killed people, burned churches, disrupted services and even defacated in baptismal fonts. There are also more recent examples we can cite such as the Robert Lewis Dear, the planned parenthood shooter in Colorado, was he not radical? Jim Jones is also an example of radicalization, his radicalization, which consisted of a mix between Marxism and religion, resulted in him leading 918 people to drink cyanide laced kool-aid.

One would think that the problem is nothing other than religion, but that is not true. You can cite many dictators who were radical but were atheist. One example is of Benito Mussolini, a proud and staunch atheist and fascist who committed unspeakable atrocities in African nations, namely Ethiopia. There are also scientists who became somewhat radical in the sense that they used science to justify racism. Thomas Huxley was a proponent of this idea that the white man was superior to the black man saying, "It may be quite true that some negroes are better than some white men; but no rational man, cognisant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the average white man."  While Huxley never went out and massacred anyone, these types of ideas led to radicalization of other people who did go out and massacre people, ideas like his essentially led to radicalization. This scientific racism had led to the massacre of the aboriginal people of Austrailia, it led to the African slave trade, or at the very least its justification. People were even put into human zoos for the white public to stand in awe of their supposedly lesser ancestor. Ota Benga is a fine example of this as he was captured and put into a human zoo. 

Radicalization can occur with anything, and it does occur when we allow ourselves to become too zealous in whatever it is that we believe, wether it be religion or some scientific or political ideology. We must remain grounded in reason in whatever it is we believe as not being moderate in anything can lead to one becoming radical and carrying out horrible atrocities. So please remember, radicalization is not something that is a product of islam, it is a product of the human being allowing themselves to become unhinged, not grounding themselves. Allowing themselves to become filled with emotion which turns into fervor. When this happens reason is thrown out the window and we begin justifiying horrible things to meet an end. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Conversation, Former Orthodox Convert and a Cradle Orthodox

A will represent the cradle orthodox and B will represent the former convert


A: So where have you been? I have not seen you at church in a long time.

B: Oh I am no longer part of that church my friend, I am done.

A: Wow I am shocked, you were really strong, what happened?

B: What happened? You people are so hell bent on destroying your own church and I don't want to be on a sinking ship, but to be accurate I did not leave the church, the church left me.

A: I am not sure what you mean.

B: You are protestantizing the church and I have warned you all for 8 years about the dangers of this but none of you would listen to me.

A: Protestantizing?

B: Bringing in protestant songs and theology into the church and essentially equating protestantism to Orthodoxy.

A: Well the songs we sing are all theologically accurate so I think you are being a bit overzealous.

B: Would you sing theologically accurate islamic songs, or mormon songs? How about theologically accurate nestorian or arian songs?

A: As long as they are theologically accurate yes.

B: Thats the problem, you just don't get it.

A: Get what, its just praising God.

B: No these are worship songs and we do not worship in a protestant manner. Besides that you are equating the two, protestantism and Orthodoxy and that essentially tells everyone, especially the youth, that there is no difference. So the people see it fine to listen to protestant sermons, which are arguably much better in terms of appealing to the emotions making people think they have been touched in some way. And it tells the kids there is no difference, so they grow up thinking there is no real difference. If there is no real difference and one can get the same result in protestantism as Orthodoxy all while doing far less, then why not? Why fast 210 days out of the year if you can get the same result in protestantism without it? Why do these long services full of lots of standing and kneeling if we can dance around and sing and have fun and get the same result doing so?

A: So this is your main complaint?

B: Yes, and the fact that I am completely marginalized in the church. Given no platform with which to speak but am merely wrote off as some overzealous crazy. Half the time people do not even listen, let alone consider that there might be just a slight chance I am right. Just wrote off.

A: Have you really tried?

B: Well, I have wrote over 11 books on the subject. I have individually talked with people, and every one of them just write me off, doesn't even give my argument and credence whatsoever. I even had a bishop approve my books, and one of them he wrote an introduction to, none of that mattered.

A: But have you spoke about this in church?

B: The only time I did, hardly anyone was there. In fact the only people that showed up were the people that already agreed.

A: So none of the people you wanted to speak to bothered to show up.

B: Exactly. And this is the sort of treatment I get continually. Like I said, I am done, I am not going to be on a sinking ship full of people that think I am crazy for pointing out that its sinking.

A: But I mean you are focusing on differences, don't focus on those. We are all Christian.

B: Because there are fundamental differences that would completely redefine the word Christian.

A: Like?

B: Orthodoxy says you need baptism, Eucharist, the priesthood, and confession to name a few in order to attain salvation. Protestantism rejects these ideas and says that it is by faith alone that we are saved. This is a fundamentally different doctrine that graphically demonstrates that both cannot be correct at the same time. Essentially both beliefs cannot be Christian at the same time since they are diametrically opposed to one another.

A: Are they that opposed?

B: Yes. One rejects the Eucharist as salvific in any way while one says you absolutely need it for salvation. How can those both be Christian doctrines? They are opposed to one another, they cannot both be right at the same time as being different from one another. It makes no sense. Therefore one is Christian and one is not.

A: But thats just one difference.

B: One of many. The whole idea of authority in protestantism is opposed to that of Orthodoxy. In Orthodoxy the clergy is essential and is authoritative, called out by God to serve the people in the church. Protestantism rejects this and instead says that the sole authority is the Bible. Which is a euphemism for the only authority I accept is my own. It places all authority with the individual, which is why there are some 40,000 denominations within protestantism, all claiming to be led by the Holy Spirit, yet all differ from one another. So again both protestantism in all its thousands of denominations cannot be right at the same time as Orthodoxy, so its either one or the other thousands.

A: I sort of see your point, but I mean protestantism is still Christian so we have to respect it.

B: No we do not have to respect it and no it is not Christian.

A: If its not Christian then what is it?

B: Satanism.

A: Protestants do not worship Satan.

B: I never said that they did.

A: But you said that protestantism is Satanism.

B: Satanism is not worshipping the devil, it is worshipping yourself. Placing yourself above or equal to God.

A: And how exactly do they do this?

B: Well, what is the center of worship in the Orthodox Liturgical worship?

A: The Eucharist.

B: Right, so Christ.

A: Yes exactly.

B: What is the center of worship in the vast majority of protestant denominations?

A: Christ I would assume.

B: But how, there is no Eucharist so how is there Christ to center their "service" around?

A: Its in spirit.

B: So how do you know Christ is there?

A: I guess you feel it.

B: So its about what the individual feels then?

A: Yes I guess so.

B: So the individual is at the center of worship. The music focuses around the individual and the sermon focuses around the individual. The sermon is meant to have a sort of forer effect, speaking to all people and therefore places them at the center of the sermon. That is satanic in that the individual goes to this church to put themselves in place of Christ, where the Eucharist should be, and goes to hear a sermon which speaks to them as opposed to about Christ.

A: I don't know that kinda seems like you are stretching it.

B: Not really, even Anton LaVey loved protestantism as he seen it for being satanic as well.

A: Who is Anton LaVey?

B: The founder of the Church of Satan. So its not just me but the late leader of the Satanic Church agrees as well.

A: I think you are quite overzealous and a bit crazy too (laughing).

B: I think you have your answer as to why I am no longer Coptic, you may not accept it but its true and mark my words, things are going to get worse for the Coptic Church.

A: How so?

B: Well youth are already leaving the church in droves, which is why the leadership did a survey to try and find out why. People protestantizing the church will create a schism, or just more people leaving. It will drive the Eastern Orthodox schism even further as they are against protestantism and protestantizing. And in 50 years, if protestantizing continues, the church will not be recognizable. It will still be there but totally unrecognizable. Now, leave me alone I have no interest in discussing anything with a Copt any longer. I did for eight years and I drove myself mad.

A: I think you are being too legalistic, you have to remember we are all part of the body of Christ.

B: No actually we are not. We are told in scripture that God is not the author of confusion, yet protestantism is comprised of nearly 40,000 differing denominations all based on one book. That is total confusion. To ascribe that to God in any way is to say that God tells everyone different things, that He is some sort of trickster telling people conflicting things.

A: I don't think you understand.

B: You are right, I do not understand you or any other Egyptian who cannot grasp these simple concepts. Its odd, you people seem to think this is the only era in which the church is not under attack. You are totally complacent and that is a real danger. But whatever, it doesn't matter, I don't matter, and my non-Egyptian opinion doesn't matter and never has.

A: What is that supposed to mean, are you saying that Copts are racist?

B: I think many in the church are ethnocentric yes, especially the clergy. So when we speak up about something we are ostracized.

A: Thats not true in the slightest. Maybe in your experience but not as a whole.

B: I personally know several converts who have left the church because of these very things. Not only converts but I know many youth who have left the church. Some have left for the Eastern Orthodox and some have just completely turned their backs on Orthodoxy all together.

A: Sounds like a personal problem, not one brought on by anything else.

B: It is frustrating talking to a people who already think they know everything. Instead of seriously considering anything I am saying people just dismiss it entirely. Most people do not even bother hearing my argument.

A: Again, personal problem.

B: Not really, people do not hear my argument and do not offer an alternative argument that could prove anything I said to be wrong. Its more of "I am smarter you should not disagree with me" attitude. I have had it. I drove myself mad trying to speak to people.

A: Maybe its the way you speak to people. I mean you are not very nice.

B: So should I whip people into submission or publicly insult them?

A: That is ridiculous, nobody should do that.

B: Christ did that. What I am doing is far nicer.

A: But the way you talk to people is not very nice.

B: Thats right because I am generally speaking to a bunch of pharaohs who think that I should kiss their feet and praise them when I talk. I call it how I see it. If you are doing something wrong don't whine like a baby when I point it out. And certainly don't whine that somebody has the audacity to speak to you as an equal.

A: I think we are done with this conversation.

B: Well thank God! Good luck destroying the church your majesty.