Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy

Discussion in 'Non-Anglican Discussion' started by Jellies, Aug 22, 2021.

  1. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    It surprised me to see on orthodox wiki https://orthodoxwiki.org/Eucharist and some other sources that the orthodox consider the Eucharist a propitiatory sacrifice, meaning it atones for sin. The first time I heard about such a thing was from the Roman Catholic mass, and I was completely horrified to be honest :no:. I think the apostles are more than clear that the atonement has already been perfected, and it was done once. So when I see now that the orthodox appear to have the same idea…
    I don’t even know what to say. Does anyone familiar with orthodoxy know if this is true? They seem to have a general aversion to substitutionary atonement because it’s too western, and yet they say the Eucharist propitiates God for sins ?
    Here is an EO writer speaking about the evolution of the Eucharist as a propitiatory sacrifice :https://www.google.com/amp/s/orthod...-in-the-antiochene-rites-early-liturgies/amp/

    It seems to have developed in the East first, not the west, and during the 6th century. If he can admit this, I’m not sure if he believes it’s a good development or if he denies any sacrifice. Even Calvin when speaking of Augustine and chrysostom says they spoke with too much similarity to the Jewish sacrifices. I think Augustine, at least, is very insistent that the Eucharist is celebrated in the sacrament of memory. Yet he also says the dead are commemorated during the Eucharist. I don’t think at that time they were “sacrificing” for the dead yet, but it seems to be in its seed form.
    I’ve been to other orthodox websites explaining the Eucharist and they don’t mention a propitiatory sacrifice so I’m a little confused as to whether they believe it, and how they can believe it propitiates God if their theory of atonement is more about the Resurrection than the death, when they’re literally offering the body and blood of Christ to remit sins…
     
  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, the Eucharist is a propitiatory sacrifice on behalf of the living and the dead in Eastern Orthodoxy. The elements are believed to be truly transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ, and that his Body and Blood are mystically immolated. The Orthodox Liturgy is abundantly clear on all these points (a fact which the liturgical use of Elizabethan/Jacobean English in many Orthodox jurisdictions actually obscures rather than illuminates). EO doctrine is indistinguishable from RC doctrine when it comes to most aspects of the sacraments. Orthodoxy does not reject the notion that Christ made satisfaction to God the Father for all of humanity’s sins (though it puts this in a somewhat different way than St. Anselm did); what it rejects is penal substitution, i.e., the notion that God the Father poured out his wrath upon the Son. That the Orthodox do not have a theory of the Atonement is true; that they do not have a doctrine of the Atonement is false. They absolutely do, and it is the same thing that Christians everywhere taught and believed prior to the Reformation, and which the majority of Christians still believe today. What the Orthodox did not do was build up a whole array of special devotions to the Eucharist itself. There is no such thing as a private Mass in Eastern Orthodoxy: Orthodox canon law prohibits more than one Eucharist in a church within the same 24-hour day, so priests could not be paid to celebrate multiple Masses in a day. There is no Perpetual Adoration in Orthodoxy. There are no “bleeding host” legends in Orthodoxy that I am aware of (though there are “bleeding icon” legends if I’m not mistaken). So even though what it teaches is difficult to distinguish from RC doctrine, the two are very different when it comes to both liturgical and extra-liturgical practice.
     
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  3. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Do you know why or how this idea of the Eucharist atoning/propitiating for sins came about? Its troubling to me, it seems to strike at the very heart of the finished atonement of Jesus. It troubles me that people were believing this for years before the reformation happened. How could they have gotten it so wrong?
     
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  4. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I don’t know that it’s “wrong” (in the sense of being an illegitimate development), when properly understood. There are three sources for it, that I can think of off the top of my head:
    1) The connection to Passover
    2) Paul’s language in 1 Corinthians 10:14-22
    3) The nature of sacrifice itself

    Passover has been widely interpreted throughout Church history to be the ‘type’ (foreshadowing) of which the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper is the anti-type (fulfillment). And since the fulfillment is not supposed to be diminished in any way in comparison with its ‘type’, if the Passover was a real sacrifice, so must be the Eucharist.

    Paul’s discussion of eating food from sacrifices offered to pagan gods seemed to ancient interpreters to imply that he thought of the Lord’s Supper in sacrificial terms (though some modern scholars dispute this).

    The Anglican theologian C.B. Moss explained that sacrifices in the ancient world consisted of three essential elements:
    a) Immolation - the slaying of the victim
    b) Offering the victim on an altar
    c) Consumption of the remains
    The Lord’s Supper is a sacrifice by virtue of being identical with the third step (consumption of the victim), of which Calvary accounted for the first two, and it is propitiatory by virtue of the fact that the Victim being consumed was immolated and offered once for all. So the Eucharist is propitiatory, effective for the living and the dead, by virtue of being the third and final stage of the sacrifice at Calvary, but in no real sense does it repeat the immolation. The immolation is represented symbolically by the separate mention of the Body and Blood with the Words of Institution, and the offering is represented mystically (in the sense that it’s actually happening continuously in heaven, but hidden from our eyes), by the Liturgy as a whole (but especially the Offertory - not to be confused with the part of traditional Baptist services when the congregations collects donations).

    Put it all together, and you get something like the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox understanding, which some Anglican theologians of the last 150 years have also endorsed.
     
  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    No because that's literally the whole point of the New Testament. The sacrificial system changes from the one of atonement to the one of thanksgiving.

    The death of Christ is the one true passover. That's the significance of his blood: with his blood we are marked and the angel of death passes us over.

    That's the teaching contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, that Christ is the eternal high priest making the sacrifice of himself to the Father, for the sins of the whole world. There is quite literally no need for an imperfect atoning sacrifice by men, because it is already being done perfectly, by the Son to the Father. It's literally what the Epistle to the Hebrews argues, and in St. Paul's epistles.

    In short, if the Old Testament sacrificial system remains in place, then there quite literally was no need to write the New Testament.
     
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  6. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    This seems like splitting hairs to me. I’m afraid I don’t see how this conflicts with what I said. What the Jews called ‘Passover’ is what the early Church took to be a foreshadowing of the Eucharist.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
  7. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    I understand about it being the final stage of sacrifice. But I’m still confused how it can be propitiatory. If all 3 steps are necessary to complete the sacrifice, then are you saying the third step is the culmination, so that’s why it’s propitiatory? Or is it because jesus is continually offering himself in heaven, and has to keep re propitiating God?
    And how can something be propitiatory more than once? Either sin is atoned for or not. If you have to keep sacrificing then it’s not atoned for…
    I’ve always been confused by the whole offering continually happening in heaven. When Jesus sat down, it means he is not ministering anymore as a priest, so he isn’t offering anything. Also Hebrews is very clear that Jesus offered himself once in heaven, not continually. He intercedes for us based on his sacrifice, sure. But it’s for the remission of sins, not to atone for them repeatedly. This Eucharist sacrifice thing is so confusing to me :loopy:
    It makes no sense to have to repeatedly atone for sin, because then it means the sin wasn’t really atoned for…..
    I’m honestly really confused by it all. I’ve seen many EOs say that the Passover was like going back in time. That’s the point, “like” going back in time, you don’t actually go back in time. Unless I’m mistaken and the Jews believe they’re going back to Egypt and the angel is passing over their houses once again. Which I don’t think they believe…

    Do you personally believe in this? I see how one can come to this view, but it seems so unnatural at the same time and contradictory and soo over complicated. It’s just easier to say it’s a memorial of the death of jesus and we’re only doing the last part of the sacrifice which is to eat it.

    I feel like it’s really hard to defend being a Protestant when such important issues as the nature of the sacrifice of Christ get seemingly corrupted so early on. I have no idea how such a complicated idea could arise about the simple meal jesus shared with his apostles. Do you agree this started happening around the 6th century? And if it did, are we to say post 6th century the whole church was pretty much engulfed in a propitiatory atoning Eucharist, image and relic “veneration,” prayers to Saints, elevating Mary to sinless and all holy, etc. how are we supposed to defend protestantism ? The RC and EO will say, you really believe the whole church was lead astray until Protestants came along in the 16th century?
    It seems to me I would be very uncomfortable in a 6th century church if this is the case. The arguments of RC and EO. “The gates of hell will not prevail” surely have some attraction. But I can’t reconcile the historical discrepancy and the fact that there’s no proof that the apostles taught it was a an atoning sacrifice. This doesn’t even fit in to the Jewish thought of sacrifice in my opinion. Was the early church just trying to hard to make the Eucharist be “superior” to Jewish sacrifice and therefore strayed too far from the original meaning?
    :sweating:Sorry for all the questions I’m just so confused lol. I never thought looking into early church history already in the 6th century what Protestants consider corruptions would exist…
     
  8. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    It’s understood to be propitiatory derivatively, i.e., by virtue of its connection with the first two stages of the sacrifice. It is not propitiatory if thought of as a separate sacrifice from Calvary. This latter proposition is condemned universally. In other words, it doesn’t mean what you’ve always thought it meant. :)
     
  9. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    I know it’s not separate. But it’s kinda nonsensical to say it’s propitiatory every single Sunday isn’t it ? Either sin is atoned for and God is propitiated or or not. Either you offer it once as Hebrews says, or continually. I don’t think saying it’s the same sacrifice makes a difference at all honestly.
    I’m so confused as to how God can be propitiated continually and sin can be atoned for continually….
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
  10. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    The reason it is said, ironically, is so to not give the impression that it’s something extra, added on to what was done at Calvary. The basic idea is that, as at Passover, you are mystically returning to that moment and partaking of that grace, with all aspects of the sacrifice being present simultaneously. People who participate in the liturgy all their lives understand that, even if they can’t necessarily articulate it. It only became problematic in the West once they began layering on nontraditional practices which, over time, overshadowed the liturgy in the minds of the laity. The East never developed those particular pathologies, and thus it was never supposed that Christ was sacrificed an indefinite number of times. The Victim was slain and offered, and each time we celebrate the Eucharist, we partake of that same Victim, offered once for all. That is the meaning and message of the Eucharist.
     
  11. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    That seems rather simple to what you said before. If all the aspects need to be present simultaneously then it must be propitiatory. But still it is so illogical to say sin can be atoned for day after day. If you need to keep doing it, maybe it’s not working:facepalm:
    I doubt the Jews know it wasn’t literally happening again. They knew if the didn’t keep the Passover, they would be basically excommunicated out of Israel, not that the angel of death would kill the first born once again. So if the consequence for keeping the memorial sacrifice is different than the original, then it must follow it’s not literally the same one.

    From where does this idea that Jesus is ever offering himself and atoning for sin come from? Im sure I’m not that dense, and it follows that if you need to keep atoning for sin day after day, your sacrifice is not effective.
    It would just be simpler to say it doesn’t atone for sins but it seals us with the promise of the forgiveness of sins (because they’re already atoned for). John chrysostom seems to say this in his commentary on hebrews. He says That on the cross Jesus bore our sins. That in the Eucharist we offer the bread and wine which represent the body and blood of Jesus, and we carry our own sins and aka for remission, not atonement. Also all the eastern liturgies do the offertory before the calling upon of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me like you offer the type of the body and blood of Christ as a memorial, and after asking the Holy Spirit to come down, you have the fulfilled body and blood, for communion, not to offer to God again. I read about this somewhere in an Anglican book against the Roman mass. It said the easterners understood it differently. For a time maybe, but i see that’s not the case now. Yet the book showed a recent EO priest saying exactly that. That there’s 2 stages, and the first one with the words of institution and offertory is made to recall to mind the sacrifice, and the epiklisis is for communion. If you look at the Roman mass they do the calling of the Holy Spirit and then the words of institution and then the offertory. It makes no sense to do the offertory before calling of the Holy Spirit like the EOs do it and say you’re offering the sacrifice, since you haven’t finished the whole process…. I think the East has corrupted their theory over time. It’s redundant to have an epiklesis after the offertory.

    No idea why such a simple meal has become an atonement for sins.
    Again, I get you say it’s the same sacrifice. But what logic is there in a sacrifice that needs to continually be offered to atone for sins being perfect? What about Hebrews which says Christ offered himself once? It’s either once or continually. Either sin is atoned for and the work of Christ is finished, or it’s in the process of being atoned for, and Jesus has to offer himself up continually for sin day after day. Seems to me like a total and complete reversion to the Jewish sacrificial system. Even worse when the EO supposedly have the “holy of holies” separated from the people and that’s where the priest does his thing.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
  12. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Why is that illogical? Christianity is mystical: it reveals the timeless and the spiritual through temporal and physical means. The Atonement, by its very nature - the reality of God’s forgiveness - cannot be limited to (or even located in) a single moment, anymore than God can be. The idea that the Atonement “happened” at Calvary is just a concession to our limited understanding. It’s not literally a moment in time.
     
  13. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The passover in the Old Testament was two things: the propitiatory sacrifice in the Temple (the sacrifice of atonement); and then the offering of the gifts (the sacrifice of thanksgiving). The New Testament in an unambiguous way, I mean with entire tracts and treatises and epistles, argues against the sacrifice of atonement by men; and if we are under our High Priest, our sins are passed over by the angel of death.

    This non-atoning sacrifice of the Eucharist is the theme you have in the early Church. They most definitely did not teach it as propitiation until the end of the patristic period (5th century), and even then not uniformly since you still get properly orthodox and catholic teachings into the 6th and 7th centuries, although they become more and more in the minority. But yeah in the patristic era, for centuries there are dozens of descriptions of the Eucharist where the church fathers specifically omit it being an sacrifice of atonement, and a specific mention of it being a sacrifice of thanksgiving. Justin Martyr, The Didache, Clement of Rome, are obvious cases and there are many others. And again, the very etymology of the word, εὐχαριστία, "thanksgiving", is a devastating residue of orthodox and catholic patristic understanding, down to this day.

    Some quotes just quickly, and I could gather a dozen others.

    “Accordingly, God, anticipating all the sacrifices which we offer through this name, and which Jesus the Christ enjoined us to offer, i.e., in the Eucharist of the bread and the cup, and which are presented by Christians in all places throughout the world, bears witness that they are well-pleasing to Him….Now, that prayers and giving of thanks, when offered by worthy men, are the only perfect and well-pleasing sacrifices to God, I also admit. For such alone Christians have undertaken to offer, and in the remembrance effected by their solid and liquid food, whereby the suffering of the Son of God which He endured is brought to mind…”
    -Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho

    “But on the Lord's day, after that ye have assembled together, break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let not any one who hath a quarrel with his companion join with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be polluted, for it is that which is spoken of by the Lord. In every place and time offer unto me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great King, saith the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the Gentiles”
    -Didache, chapter 14

    “Before the coming of Christ, the flesh and blood of this sacrifice were foreshadowed in the animals slain; in the passion of Christ the types were fulfilled by the true sacrifice; after the ascension of Christ, this sacrifice is commemorated in the sacrament”
    -St. Augustine, Contra Faustus, XX


    Two points:
    Firstly, the corruptions you list did not happen all at once. For example the veneration of images was not a big part of the Western church for the first thousand years, and they really resisted the Eastern corruptions on that matter. The same can be said in reverse about the veneration of Mary which corrupted the West much sooner than it did the East, such that even to this day it's not quite as bad there, let alone what it was a thousand years ago. So these corruptions take root at different times, and took different paces to grow and metastasize. The primary reason why that happened is the patristic cornerstone of Scripture was abandoned, and the Church took its own holy past as a haughty proof of its own infallibility (even the EO believe they are infallible).

    Second, all this is why we have to cut off the proper understanding of the gospel at the 5th century, because after that you have an unstoppable infusion of gentile theology, and the collapse of the ancient culture. The ancient idioms were lost, and the destruction of the Empire resulted in the quasi-Imperial posture of the Church, as a master of the world rather than its servant. You have these gentile popes, LARPing and play-acting in the roles of the old almighty emperors, lording over people, making the dirty peasants kiss their feet, etc. Yes, that's the church of the middle ages. Which is why many men had to die to bring us at least to a semblance of sanity.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2021
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  14. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Let’s not ignore the sheer evidence given in the scriptures against any such thing as a “continual” atonement. This talk of mysticism seems to me like a way to ignore the very obvious facts presented.

    “He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭9:26-28‬


    “But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.”
    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:12-13‬ ‭

    None of this can be reconciled with a continuous atonement. Unless you’re willing to ignore the quite plain text of scripture for a convoluted system of daily Sunday atonement going along with a 24/7 atonement in heaven.
     
  15. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    You’re making this way more complicated than it really is, and I still don’t see how it conflicts with anything I said. I’m not sure what problem you’re addressing but it isn’t anything I wrote, from what I can see. @Jellies asked where the idea came from and I simply explained where it came from.

    This is a side issue but I don’t know of any patristics scholar that limits the patristic era to the first five centuries. Anglican historians certainly don’t. Treatments of patristic writers usually conclude with St. John of Damascus, who wrote during the Iconoclast controversy.
     
  16. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    It conflicts because they didn’t believe there needed to be atoning for sins. The whole premise of Christ is that he offered once not continually. None of the fathers stalwart cited ever believe in a propitiatory ever occurring atonement. I’m confused as to what you’re confused about lol
     
  17. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Sure it can. God is on one side of it, and human beings are on the other. From God’s standpoint, the Atonement is timeless, coeval with His Nature; from the human standpoint, it is temporal, effected once for all at Calvary. It’s not “either/or”, it’s “both/and”. The Liturgy says something quite profound by phrasing and ordering the rite as it does, holding the tension between the temporal and the eternal. It’s quite beautiful, actually.
     
  18. Jellies

    Jellies Active Member

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    Sure this can all be explained away with mysticism like we don’t understand the trinity. But is there any warrant to your belief in scripture? It is wholly absent. That’s the point. I don’t think it’s beautiful in the least to say that priests hold the very Christ in their hands and dare offer him to God to atone for sins, when they were never instructed to do that by Christ at the last supper nor by the apostles afterwards. It’s an insult to the very message of the gospel. To us it’s once for all in Calvary, you say, and yet we need to continually offer the literal body and blood of Jesus to God in order to atone for sins. With what sort of authority? It certainly was not given by God. The Eucharist is a gift to us. To take and eat. To attempt to offer it back up to God for propitiation is almost insulting in my opinion.
     
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  19. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    The idea came from a corrupted understanding of atonement, that took place when the Gentiles en masse flowed into the Church and finally outnumbered the Jews, in the 5th and later centuries. They brought the pagan theology of atoning sacrifice as a visible and repeated ceremony in the pagan temples, into the Church, when it was not there for centuries prior. You can guess about the justifications they invoked for why they could import this alteration, but this alteration came from nowhere within the church or Scripture itself, but entirely from outside of it, because the Patristic Church knew nothing of this atoning sacrifice.

    For classical Anglicans, you'll want to go to the likes of John Jewel who limited himself roughly to the first 5 centuries and did not commonly cite someone like John of Damascus as a support for doctrine. And of course the formulation itself comes from Lancelot Andrews:
    "One faith, two testaments, three creeds, four councils, and the first five centuries form the boundaries of our faith."

    For modern scholars, these are the titles you'll want to go to:
    -Arthur Middleton, Fathers and Anglicans: The Limits of Orthodoxy (2001)
    -Jean-Louis Quantin, The Church of England and Christian Antiquity: The Construction of a Confessional Identity in the 17th Century (2009)

    Some podcasts:
    https://anglican.audio/2016/12/02/fh5-interview-anglican-divines-and-antiquity-part-i/
    https://anglican.audio/2017/12/06/fh15-interview-anglican-divines-and-antiquity-part-ii/
     
  20. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Couple of problems with that.
    1. It’s an argument from silence. Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence. Not all doctrines of the Church were stated with equal clarity in the earliest centuries. @Stalwart knows this.
    2. Restricting the patristic era to the first five centuries is stacking the deck. Actually, patristics scholars - including Anglican patristics scholars - don’t limit the patristic era this way.
    3. Nothing @Stalwart said actually refuted my three points about (1) Passover, (2) Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians, or (3) the nature of sacrifice. Hence, my confusion.