Monthly Archives

January 2004

2004, Articles, Raiati

Religious Arguments / 25.01.2004

Religious arguments are difficult because only few people have a true religious knowledge while those who are invited to achieve knowledge are many. A person that doesn’t know a lot might find a conflict where there isn’t any. Before arguing, you must read to support your faith with reason or else stay silent as this protects you and protects others. However, if you were asked about your faith, answer as much as you know or ask someone who knows and then come back with an answer.

The fact that discussions always come along with emotions and nervousness makes them more difficult. If you were unable to repress your anger, don’t say anything because emotions creates crisis in the relationship between you and the person that you are negotiating. Controversy requires a lot of tranquility and a heart that is healthy and away from all hatred and ignorance. If you weren’t able to have internal peace and a chaste tongue, don’t go into this adventure. Chastity spares you from the big challenges that carry a trespass over the other’s belief and harm towards your negotiator.

If you were among Christians, defend the Orthodox faith and clarify what we believe in through our common sources such as the Holy Scripture and that mutual ancient heritage. The first millennium is the same for us and Western Christians. For example, if a Catholic asked you: How can your Church be united without having one head? You answer: “Unity could come in the individualistic form such as the Papal form or in a communal form. For us, the head of the local Church is the bishop and the community with its bishop, form a catholic (universal) Church. Bishops together form the Holy Synod and all bishops in the world are together in their synods and Patriarchs. On the global level, we have unity through coordination and the decisions of synods; Churches also communicate with each other.” You must clarify our form without offending the Pope of Rome because this is the method of the weak. A Catholic Christian might not know that there is a different system in the Church than his; and that this system might be the most ancient and consequently that his Church must make steps towards an undivided Church by doing a renewing or reformative move. By such a behavior, you be remaining a brother for the Catholic believer and you would be preserving the solidity of your opinion and the hope for unity.

As for Muslims, don’t argue with them about their religion. If they knew their religion, they would recognize that it invites them to argue with us in a gentle way. They might ask you: Do you believe in Muhammad’s mission? Don’t say: “No, I don’t believe”. He might find this answer very awful. You could answer for example by saying that God gave us his final words through Jesus Christ; and these words are enough for our salvation and were written in the New Testament which was ended with the Book of Revelation. As for what the Quran says about the “Nazarenes” and blaspheming them, don’t get into this argument because we are not the “Nazarenes” that the Quran is talking about. We are Christians and this is our only name, and therefore we are not concerned in blaspheming the “Nazarenes”. Confirm your faith in Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection because this is written in the Bible and most of those who have written it were eyewitnesses to the incident or knew people who were eyewitnesses. There are precise things that are known by Christians who are specialized in Islam. You could ask such people about things that you were asked to clarify.

The most difficult argument is with Jehovah’s Witnesses and the different sects of the Baptists. We have enough books against Jehovah’s Witnesses and we are preparing a team to examine their teachings and refute them. We are also preparing a study for the various Evangelical heresies that don’t come from the traditional known Protestant Churches. Those don’t look for the truth, and they rarely surrender to invulnerable arguments. They have a narrow and literal interpretation to the Holy Scripture and have closed and tough personalities. Apostle Paul ordered us to be careful and avoid such people. However, you must be fortified against them through knowledge.

Regardless of the side that is arguing with you, you must be humble and strict at the same time. However, you must get a lot of knowledge through study sessions and Orthodox books that have become numerous.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الجدل الديني” –Raiati 4- 25.01.2004

Continue reading
2004, Articles, Raiati

Sorcery, Magic… / 18.01.2004

A simple question: Could a man know an event before happening? The answer is no because God denied humans from seeing this. Before happening, it doesn’t have an entity, it is found in the freedom of those able to make it happen, and it might not be their plans to transfer it from their mind to ours. Nothing exists before actually existing.

According to this principle, incantations are part of wizardry. A wizard is the fortune-teller that claims to know the unseen, which is the thing only God knows. We can say the same thing about telling the fortune based on a cup of coffee; as if the threads and lines drawn in the cup resulting from the movement of the lips indicate anything. The Scripture has called divination a sin in 1 Samuel 15: 23; the Book also made it a synonym to false visions in Jeremiah 14: 14 and also in Ezekiel. The Book of acts also said that Paul took spirits out of a fortune-teller (16: 16–18).

Moreover, Horoscopes, which are wide spread in newspapers and other publications, give you a specific character and predict events related to your birthday, birth hour, and a specific astronomic situation. Stars might have a certain influence on your character, but you are a free person and there is no destiny that tells you how to be. Some people tried in Sorbonne, France to make astrology a science; however our religious belief is that you are not a machine and that there is nothing destined for you and that you have “the freedom of the sons of God” as Apostle Paul says. Palm reading falls into the same category: Your age is a result of your health condition, and this could be recorded in your genes or genetics which predicts your willingness to catch a disease and especially cancer. There is an interference that comes from genetics and this has become a very developed science in recent years. You are born with a genetic program, and none of that is engraved on your palm.

Nevertheless, predicting your character from your handwriting is a possible thing because categorizing you into a specific character might affect your handwriting of letters and words. However, this doesn’t reveal the knowledge of the future, and I don’t think that if someone experiments your handwriting, he would be searching for something else.

“Talking to spirits” falls in the same sense, and it is completely prohibited by the church. For us, you can talk to saints through prayer but you can’t control someone’s spirit and you have no authority over any spirit for spirits are under God’s power only. In addition to that, exercising this thing made it in some countries like Brazil an independent religion and made it in other places a kind of drunkenness or anesthetization. Talking to spirits is a kind of magic because magic is to attribute to yourself a power that only God has. God’s book has said: “Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord” (Deuteronomy 18: 10–12). The New Testament supports this as the book of Revelation counts murderers alongside with magicians and idolaters (21: 8).

The main idea in the New Testament is that magic is when you think that if you said some words and did some actions, something you want to happen will automatically happen. This opposes our faith that only the Lord can change something in the nature through his word. Praying is different than magic, because it carries hope and because it cannot do anything except through God’s grace. Nothing is sanctified simply when a priest reads a prayer or a text from the Bible. He calls the Holy Spirit over the bread and wine to be transformed into the Lord’s body and blood through the grace of the Spirit and not simply through reading the prayer. This is the main difference between magic and religion.

With this logic, there is no evil eye that can harm you, and this is why putting a blue bead in your neck or a horse shoe on the door of your house opposes our faith because these things cannot prevent you from getting harmed. And if you put a cross in your neck this would be a testimony of your belonging to Jesus, but this has no automatic effect because the sign of the cross must be accompanied by prayer. There is no miracle except through your faith in the Lord Jesus.

There is also another thing not considered as magic and it is telepathy. Telepathy is exchanging thoughts, feelings and images between minds at distance. As an example we mention a British woman that saw (or thought that she saw) her husband, who was an officer in India, being stabbed in the back by an Indian’s dagger. After a few days, the military authorities told her that this incident occurred at the same time that she felt it happening. These are natural powers; something like television transmission. Some people have the power to receive images at distance; some people also have the power to make a grape cluster fall down by simply looking at it. This is not a miracle. Anything other than telepathy, i.e. every action from those we mentioned before is magic, sorcery, or a lie; and all of these carry spiritual harm.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “الشعوذة، السِحْر” –Raiati no3- 18.01.2004

Continue reading