When I first received God’s grace, I was essentially a blank slate, with only a couple of preconceived notions of what it meant to be a Christian. To catch up for lost time, I began devouring Christian books. Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly was a part of my catechism. It details the shaping of Christian doctrines in the first few centuries after Christ. If you’re Catholic or an Orthodox Christian, the doctrines and dogmas you believe were settled thanks to the Church Fathers the author details in this book.

Why does God seem different in the Old and New Testaments?

…the Law of Moses and the grace of the New Testament, both adapted to different sets of conditions, were bestowed by one and the same God for the benefit of the human race. If the Old Testament legislation appears less perfect than the New, this is because mankind had to undergo a progressive development, and the old law was designed for its earlier stages. Hence we should not conclude that it was the product of a blind Demiurge and that the good God came to abolish it; in the Sermon on the Mount Christ fulfilled it by propounding a more intimate and perfect justice. (Irenaeus)

[…]

In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New the Old is revealed. (Augustine)

I see much of the Old Testament as actions God had to take to ensure Jesus Christ would be born from the Jews and be able to fulfill the prophecies to save mankind. Judgement had to be faster and more wrathful against those who blocked His saving plan.

A priest I talked to also commented that the Old Testament is what the Israelites captured. God may have dealt with them through bountiful love, but since their faith was kept more in line through His anger, the prophets at times captured a stern God.

Should the Bible be interpreted literally?

According to ‘Barnabas’, the fatal error of the Jews was to let themselves be beguiled by the literal sense of Scripture. What God really asked of His people was not bloody sacrifices, as the Law seemed to prescribe, but a contrite heart; not bodily fasting, but the practice of good works; not abstention from certain forms of food, but the avoidance of vices symbolized by them.

[…]

[Augustine’s] rule for determining whether the literal or the figurative sense was the more correct was that whatever can be shown to be inconsistent, if taken literally, with propriety of life or purity of doctrine must be taken figuratively. In a general way he thought that no interpretation could be true which did not promote the love of God or the love of man.

I take the New Testament literally, and have not encountered any troubles or mental blocks while doing so. The Old Testament, however, is a challenge, and I take instructions from the Church Fathers to tell me what I should interpret as metaphorical or literal.

The Holy Spirit

The Spirit’s role is indeed essential, for ‘without the Spirit it is impossible to behold the Word of God… since the knowledge of the Father is the Son, and the knowledge of the Son of God can only be obtained through the Spirit; and according to the Father’s good pleasure the Son ministers and dispenses the Spirit to whomsoever the Father wills, and as He wills’. Our sanctification is indeed wholly the work of the Spirit, for it is ‘the Spirit of the Father Which purifies a man and raises him to the life of God’. (Irenaeus)

The Logos

Before Christ’s coming men had possessed, as it were, seeds of the Logos and had thus been enabled to arrive at fragmentary facets of truth. Hence such pagans as ‘lived with reason’ were, in a sense, Christians before Christianity. The Logos, however, had not ‘assumed shape and become a man’ in Jesus Christ; He had become incarnate in His entirety in Him. The Logos is here conceived of as the Father’s intelligence or rational thought… (Justin)

[…]

…he goes on to identify the Word as the Son of God. Repudiating the objection that there is something ridiculous in God’s having a son, he protests that God’s Son is not like the children of men, but is ‘the Father’s Word in idea and in actualization. It was by Him, and through Him, that everything was made, and the Father and the Son form a unity. ‘The Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son by the unity and power of divine spirit, the Son of God is the Father’s intelligence and Word’. (Athenagoras)

[…]

The Word Himself fashioned His own humanity in the Virgin’s womb; and if it be asked why He did this instead of creating some altogether novel substance, the answer is that the humanity which was to be the instrument of salvation had to be identical with that which needed to be saved. (Irenaeus)

[…]

The Logos is our teacher, law-given and model; by associating with Him we lose our deadness and irrationality, becoming ‘divinely possessed and rational’. He is ‘the pattern of the perfect life’, the exemplar of true virtue into Whose likeness Christians are transformed, thereby being enabled to participate in the divine nature. As [Origen] puts it, ‘Discoursing in bodily form and giving Himself out as flesh, He summons to Himself those who are flesh, in order that He may first of all transform them into the likeness of the Word Who has been made flesh, and after that may exalt them so as to behold Him as He was before he became flesh’.

The fallen Adam

The original Adam, by his disobedience, introduced the principle of sin and death, but Christ by His obedience has reintroduced the principle of life and immortality. Because He is identified with the human race at every phase of its existence, He restores fellowship with God to all, ‘perfect man according to God’s image and likeness’. And because He is a real man, born of a woman, He is able to vanquish the Devil, into whose power mankind has fallen. (Irenaeus)

[…]

All men, [Clement] teaches, have a spark of the divine in them and are free to obey or disobey God’s law, but all except the incarnate Logos are sinners. They are, as it were, sick, blind and gone astray; they are enslaved to the elements and the Devil; and their condition can be described as death.

[…]

[Adam’s] only weakness was his creatureliness, which meant that he was changeable by nature and so liable to turn away from the transcendent good. Any blame must lie exclusively with his own will, which, though inclined towards goodness, had the possibility, being free, of choosing wrongfully. When it did so, the latent ground of the act was pride, the desire to break away from his natural master, God, and be his own master. If there had not been this proud satisfaction with self in his soul, this craving to substitute self for God as the Goal of his being, he would never have listened to the Tempter. And from this character of the first sin flows its heinousness. Trivial though it might appear, it can be seen on analysis to have involved sacrilege (through disbelieving God’s word), murder, spiritual fornication, theft and avarice. It was worse than any conceivable sin in proportion as Adam was nobler than any other man and as the will which produced it was uniquely free. In fact, such was its gravity that it resulted in the ruin of the entire race, which became a massa damnata, sinful itself and propagating sinners. (Augustine)

[…]

We were one with [Adam] when he made [the choice to sin], and thus willed in and with him. As he expressed it, ‘In the misdirected choice of that one man all sinned in him, since all were that one man, from whom on that account they all severally derive original sin’. Sin is a matter of the will, and ‘all sinned in Adam on that occasion, for all were already identical with him in that nature of his which was endowed with the capacity to generate them’. (Augustine)

Adam feels close and personal to me, because it’s plain to see how men in the current day are following women instead of holding firm to their faith.

Believe it or not, I originally got into game to land a girlfriend, but girls who hang out in bars and clubs—places I was frequenting—weren’t trying to find a boyfriend. In essence, they said to me, “Roosh, I like you but I only want to have sex with you until I get bored, and then I will move on. I don’t want a serious relationship.” Instead of sticking to my original desire of a girlfriend, I immediately threw it away and followed the woman’s desire for casual sex until I got addicted to it myself. It’s easy for me to insult Adam for his weakness, but I was no better.

To know the Son is to the know the Father

Hence anyone who sees Christ sees the Father, ‘because of the Son’s belonging to the Father’s substance and because of His complete likeness to the Father’. This likeness is no external resemblance, however, such as exists between man and man, but extends to His very substance or nature. (Athanasius)

Free will

If God’s help is necessary for doing good and if the good will itself comes from him, it is equally true that the initiative rests with man’s free will. Chrysostom similarly teaches that without God’s aid we should be unable to accomplish good works; nevertheless, even if grace takes the lead, it co-operates with free will. We first of all begin to desire the good and to incline ourselves towards it, and then God steps in to strengthen that desire and render it effective.

[…]

In creating man God did not subject him, like other creatures, to the law of nature, but gave him the unique privilege of being able to accomplish the divine will by his own choice. He set life and death before him, bidding him choose life (Deut 30:19), but leaving the final decision to his free will. Thus it depends on the man himself whether he acts rightly or wrongly; the possibility of freely choosing the good entails the possibility of choosing evil. (Pelagius)

[…]

Man’s free will is most completely itself when it is in most complete subjection to God, for true liberty consists in Christ’s service. (Augustine)

The Council Of Arausiacum

It is sufficient to note that at the council of Arausiacum (529 AD) the following propositions were established: (a) As a result of Adam’s transgression both death and sin have passed to all his descendants; (b) man’s free will has consequently been so distorted and weakened that he cannot now believe in, much less love, God unless prompted and assisted thereto by grace; (c) the saints of the Old Testament owed their merits solely to grace and not to the possession of any natural good; (d) the grace of baptism enables all Christians, with the help and co-operation of Christ, to accomplish the duties necessary for salvation, provided they make the appropriate efforts; (e) predestination to evil is to be anathematized with detestation; and (f) in every good action the first impulse comes from God, and it is this impulse which instigates us to seek baptism and, still aided by Him, to fulfill our duties.

Many people online have criticized my turn to God, claiming that it’s an “act” or “fake” because it happened so suddenly, but grace is indeed sudden. Grace is transformation. Overnight, your heart can be changed. The old me would probably comment that my transformation is fake as well, since I didn’t know grace, and believed that transformations can only occur after a prolonged period of human effort and time, such as building muscles in a gym or losing a lot of weight. If you don’t believe in grace, you cannot possibly understand how someone can change so quickly.

Saving work of Jesus Christ

When Adam was created, he was of course righteous, and a mediator was not needed. But when sin placed a wide gulf between mankind and God, a mediator was called for Who was unique in being born, in living and in being slain without sin, in order that we might be reconciled to God and brought by the resurrection of the flesh to eternal life. Thus through God’s humility human pride was rebuked and healed, and man was shown how far he had departed from God, since the incarnation of God was required for his restoration. (Augustine)

[…]

Now that the Lamb, foreshadowed of old in types, is led to the slaughter as a spotless sacrifice for all in order to do away with the sin of the world, to overthrow the destroyer of mankind, to annihilate death by dying for all, to rid us of he curse which lay upon us… For when we were guilty of many sins, and for that reason were liable to death and corruption, the Father gave His Son as a ransom, once for all… For we were all in Christ, Who died on our account and in our stead and rose again. But sin being destroyed, how could it be that Death, which springs from sin, should not be destroyed as well. (Cyril)

[…]

If in the Person of Christ one did prove able, by His death, to offer satisfaction on behalf of all, that was because His dignity and status (i.e. the fact He was very God) so far exceeded the dignity and status of all those whom He was saving taken together. Since He was God incarnate, precious beyond all human valuing, the offering made with His blood was abundantly sufficient to redeem the whole world. (Cyril)

Body and blood of Christ

Theodore of Mopsuestia argued very similarly that ‘He did not say, “this is the symbol of my body”, and, “This is the symbol of my blood”, but, “This is my body and my blood”, thereby instructing us not to look to nature of the oblations, for that has been changed, by the eucharistic prayer, into flesh and blood’.

[…]

Cyril of Jerusalem argues that we become ‘of one body and one blood with Christ’, citing 1 Cor. 11:23-25 to prove his point; for since He Himself has said, ‘This is my body, this is my blood’, who can doubt that the bread and the wine are truly His body and blood?

The Blessed Mother and virginity

[He] argued that Eve, while still a virgin, had proved disobedient and so became the cause of death both for herself and for all mankind, but Mary, also a virgin, obeyed and became the cause of salvation both for herself and for all mankind. ‘Thus, as the human race was bound fast to death through a virgin, so through a virgin it was saved.’ (Irenaeus)

[…]

It was indeed Mary and her virginity, according to Gregory [of Nyssa], that finally halted the long reign of death.

Conclusion

Early Christian Doctrines is an accidental book on Orthodox Christianity, which has not changed substantially from the days of early Christianity. While the teachings in this book are scattered and do include discussions of long-since-corrected heresies, most of it does not conflict with my faith today as an Armenian Orthodox Christian. This is not an easy book to read because of its academic tone, but I recommend it if you aim to understand how the beliefs and faith you hold dear were elucidated over the ages.

Learn More: Early Christian Doctrines by J.N.D. Kelly On Amazon

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Buster
Buster
1 month ago

This looks like a great book, I’ll be sure to pick this one up. It looks useful for all Christians, not just the Orthodox. So many people have some strange notions of what is considered Christianity. This is a big problem that I see with Protestant groups who believe in self-interpretation of scripture and the rejection of the centuries worth research and writings by learned men. Thus you get bizarre beliefs and practices such as snake handling or prosperity theology. These false practices often lead to bad ends for those who engage in them, such as the snake handling preacher who is killed by a venomous snake (i.e. Jamie Coots) or people who are swindled by slick televangelists.

As for the suddenness of turning to God, in many cases I don’t think the turning is truly “sudden.” God is always acting in our lives and calling to us in some way, people who don’t hold the faith simply don’t recognize it as such. Many people will alter their behavior in positive ways that are in-of-themselves part of that turning to God. Its the recognition of that fact that may appear sudden, but the act of responding to His actions and calling is not necessarily sudden because you may not understand what is happening at the time.

This is what happened to me. Looking back at my own life I can now see how those actions were there and how my responses were part of that turning, whether it was moving away from certain places, losing and obtaining certain jobs, losing interest in and ultimately rejecting drugs/porn/deviant entertainment, and encounters with certain individuals.

Ashdod
Ashdod
1 month ago
Reply to  Buster

[Deleted]

Buster
Buster
1 month ago
Reply to  Ashdod

This comment brought to you by FedPosting, Inc. When you need incitement of idiots without a trail, call Ashdod at FedPosting, Inc. for fast and friendly service!

Ashdod
Ashdod
1 month ago

The modern day Tew is a parasitical impostor like the Pharisees of the day of BCE.

Thomas
Thomas
1 month ago

The Orthodox church is the closest to the original teachings of Christ, although we have to understand stuff was hidden and almost all the original church fathers were hunted and killed – I’m talking about the very first ones. Of the apostles all except John were brutally murdered. They had many of the original powers given to them by Christ, including the speaking of the Tongues. They could speak and anyone would hear them perfectly in their language. This was given to them by the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel and establish the key Churches. John died on the isle of Patmos an old man, writing down the incredible Revelations.
Peter and Paul
Both martyred in Rome about 66 AD, during the persecution under Emperor Nero. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his request, since he did not feel he was worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.
Andrew
went to the “land of the man-eaters,” in what is now the Soviet Union. Christians there claim him as the first to bring the gospel to their land. He also preached in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey, and in Greece, where he is said to have been crucified.
Thomas
was probably most active in the area east of Syria. Tradition has him preaching as far east as India, where the ancient Marthoma Christians revere him as their founder. They claim that he died there when pierced through with the spears of four soldiers.
Philip
possibly had a powerful ministry in Carthage in North Africa and then in Asia Minor, where he converted the wife of a Roman proconsul. In retaliation the proconsul had Philip arrested and cruelly put to death.
Matthew
the tax collector and writer of a Gospel ministered in Persia and Ethiopia. Some of the oldest reports say he was not martyred, while others say he was stabbed to death in Ethiopia.
Bartholomew
had widespread missionary travels attributed to him by tradition: to India with Thomas, back to Armenia, and also to Ethiopia and Southern Arabia. There are various accounts of how he met his death as a martyr for the gospel.
James
the son of Alpheus is one of at least three James referred to in the New Testament. There is some confusion as to which is which, but this James is reckoned to have ministered in Syria. The Jewish historian Josephus reported that he was stoned and then clubbed to death.
Simon the Zealot
so the story goes, ministered in Persia and was killed after refusing to sacrifice to the sun god.
Matthais
The apostle chosen to replace Judas. Tradition sends him to Syria with Andrew and to death by burning.

Then the dilutions started and Satan started to slowly but surely work his magic.
All the later divisions of the Church were completely mentally and spiritually retarded and based on greed, stupidity and downright possession. And like a giant broken mirror the pieces kept being further broken in the West into hundreds. Now a lot of it is joke Churchianity that practically mocks Christ – just what Satan would like.

I’m just waiting for Cardi B in the Vatican to say Yall little niggaz neeeeed mr. J to put on some dreads, ya feel what I’m saying? We don’t know if he was not a true blood ice cold nigga, you feel what I’m sayin? Yeah. I’m a real bitch you know what I mean?

Anyway, I recommend the amazing Orthodox youtube channel Gregory Decapolite before it’s taken down. There you can see how real priests look like, real Churches, real suffering in the face of Stalin and certain death, and real Truth.

proverbs
proverbs
1 month ago

The biggest mistake for a young man today is to underestimate the level of which the modern day female would stoop down low, quite literally, for a free meal, free ride, or for a free night at an apartment.
YET

You, the loyal adherent to the Lord, will be forced at gunpoint, either through the State or through taxation. You will have to take on a mortgage at Shylock & Robman, and the ex-hoe you married will be cheating on you, but if you complain, Family Court will grind you through the mud (at least in Canada I’ve heard).

You will be taught that it’s empowering, to marry a used up junk, and to defend the reputation of that junk more than the Lord himself.

The Most High will have to rain burning sulfur and brimstone for those guys who believe that they can find godly love with the modern day woman living in the cosmopolitan cities of North America and Europe.

proverbs
proverbs
1 month ago

Moderation bin?
You can’t find love in a club of drunken thots bro

Antonio Zoli
1 month ago

A joy to see commentators like Buster and Thomas on this site speaking 100% truth. I’m sure those from the Red Pill gallery will get their shots in, but pass that over with the silence it deserves.
Patristics certainly influenced my journey into Orthodoxy, as it has with many others. As a former evangelical (by birth and not by choice), Sola Scriptura, the marginalizing and dismissing of the early church fathers teachings, and the fallacy of the church allegedly disappearing after the deaths of the apostles, but then mysteriously reappearing in Northern Europe in the 16th century (the first 1,500 years of the continuity of the church just suddenly vanished?) all played into this as well. As Thomas has well pointed out, the apostles proclaimed the Great Commission, and carried the gospel throughout much of the then known world, and they were martyred for it. I’d add that several of the bishops and early church fathers (the majority from the East), present at the First Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., had to be carried to the council as they had been blinded, disfigured, and made handicapped by limbs severed by the many gruesome tortures endured for their faith.
Good article.

Antonio Zoli
1 month ago

Roosh V, Have you considered interviewing Jay Dyer?

Lucretius_Carus
Lucretius_Carus
1 month ago
Reply to  Antonio Zoli

Roosh already did a great Roosh hour with THE DYER. Just search for ithere in Roosh’s website

AUSTIN MARTIN
AUSTIN MARTIN
1 month ago

I understand that maybe this isn’t an appropriate question to ask and isn’t the most important thing, so feel free to ignore it. God deals with people as they are able.

Are you a member of the non-chalcedonian Armenian Church, or a member of the Greek/Russian/etc Orthodox Church which believes in the seven councils?

Christ Pill
Christ Pill
1 month ago

John Newton wrote Amazing Grace in 1772 – highly suggest you look up his story. If you don’t believe, it could change your life.

Çatal Höyük
Çatal Höyük
1 month ago
Reply to  Christ Pill

That is the kind of Christians I respect.

Dariusz
Dariusz
1 month ago

Sacrificing animals instead of humans, which was practiced throughout the world- sin really has a compounding effect, the world was brutal and violent, torture was universally accepted, the threat of war was ever present, and on the frontline few are able to play philosopher or moralizer, many people had it worse than a sacrificial lamb – was a good start.
I like to joke Jews were the chosen people because all others would have accepted (and eventually did, welcoming “the stone the builders rejected”) Jesus as their God and savior, but God needed to show his love for us by sharing in our pain and dying for the ugly humanity, so they would believe and not lose hope.

Çatal Höyük
Çatal Höyük
1 month ago

You constantly naively praise Russia a country that you know little about and I know I also despise the stupid, unfair crap the American media says about that country. Nonetheless, Russia, with support of the orthodox church legalized wife-beating. Russia also now has the highest divorce rate. Tell how the Orthodox Church is a positive force: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FVMfr6q8wM

Andy
1 month ago
Reply to  Çatal Höyük

Ivan atheists are full of crap.

Mehmed II
Mehmed II
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy

Incorrect. I am not an atheist.

Mehmed ||
Mehmed ||
25 days ago
Reply to  Andy

The fact that you never bother to watch the video and did nothing to defend your church is so incredibly pathetic; anyway that video isn’t even about the Russian Orthodox church but merely mentions it. Forget what I said. I tried to sneak it into the comments in a way that it would reach Roosh but not be notice to much commotion with the forum members. (I know Roosh has seen it because he left evidence on Twitter. I actually think he is fond of the channel. Roosh has actually lived in Eastern Europe and will recognized that much of what is said in that video is true, he can see though the BS. That channel helped me immensely easily become less angry with the world and it was some of the most interesting stuff I’ve seen in awhile). While Roosh doesn’t write off the entire orthodox church just because of a few bad priest, he has had conflict with other orthodox Christians before and knows that some do not mean well. I have only briefly watched some of the Babylon Road videos and he was kicked out of the Greek Orthodox Church, which was pretty cold. Since Byzantine Empire the Greek orthodox church has declared the Armenia Christians as heretics.

Mehmed
Mehmed
25 days ago
Reply to  Andy

Do you really think Roosh is your friend? For years Roosh was a PickUp Artist who prursued that and many friends with other Pick Up Artist. But when he could no longer stomach all of that he no longer gave them a platform and lost a whole bunch of friends. Roosh has changed his mind before and he could change his mind again and if he does a lot of people on the forum will no long have a platform. I might be talking nonsense. 

Honestly I think you’re full of crap i

Çatalhüyük
Çatalhüyük
25 days ago
Reply to  Andy

Roosh is far more intelligent then people give him credit for.

Osman
Osman
25 days ago
Reply to  Çatalhüyük

I meant far more intelligent than you think.

Kari
Kari
1 month ago

Leave the ass at home, girls.

Çatalhüyük
Çatalhüyük
25 days ago

The Parable of The Sower (Mark 4). The devil wants to destroy a person faith as soon as it begins; as soon as a person turns to God. I felt I should say something but I feel I did it the wrong way and just made snarky, very rude comments. I very pleased to see Daryush turn toward faith in God and believe that he has been spending time fasting and praying. God is his witness. Christians need to stop just accepting and praising any person that claims (sincere or not) he has found Jesus. Anyone can claim to be a Chrisitan and even if he is sincere, his faith can so easily be destroyed. I have been a Christian for a very long time, and have studied the Bible for 17 years (since I was 10). I feared that heated discussion of theology could have the potential his faith. Many times this happens. Some go on thinking they are accepted by God but their deeds might suggest not. Daryush has a significant platform and a chance to use it to bring other bring glory to God’s name. But if things go wrong it could destroy people’s faith. I wish him all the best. I fear that God may not be pleased with me, I need to step out in faith more and need to stop being afraid; I need to start praying daily.

Çatalhüyük
Çatalhüyük
25 days ago

Oh gawd. seriously I feel bad about my past comments.

Sultan Suleyman
Sultan Suleyman
6 days ago
Reply to  Çatalhüyük

I am really embarrased about all those comments. I should have just stopped. I wasted so much time commenting. I’m so stupid. I should have just written for my own blog instead.

Sultan Selim
Sultan Selim
24 days ago

I feel bad about the rude comments I left in the past; I really do. I am not a very good Christian. Yet I want to say this: the one thing that I fear is that people will throw out the “Old Testament” becasue they don’t understand what is being said. It is difficult to understand, you don’t have to understand everything. But if the old testament is thrown out so are all the prophecies and so our hope.

robert
robert
24 days ago

What Augustine said about interpreting the stuff in the old testament as figurative when its not consistent with whats good, is dumb. It basically means interpreting it however you choose: what you like is literal, what you don’t is figurative. And over time, if moral attitudes change (such as accepting homosexuality), then people can just reinterpret the old testament parts about that as figurative.