More than 50 Lutheran and Orthodox Christian clergy and laity from the Eastern and Midwestern United States, some from as far away as Iowa, Missouri and New York, attended Faith of Our Fathers: A Colloquium on Orthodoxy for Lutherans Sept. 10-11, 2007 sponsored by St. Andrew House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies. Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon from All Saints Orthodox Church in Chicago was the Master of Ceremonies.
The colloquium was designed to explain Orthodox Christianity to Lutheran clergy and laity, according to the Most Rev. Nathaniel, Archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), and founder and president of St. Andrew House. Ancient Faith Radio recorded the sessons and is happy to make them available for download. Please do not make copies or sell the material without the consent of the St. Andrews House Center for Orthodox Christian Studies.
A talk by Reader Christopher Orr, born and raised Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran and received into Orthodoxy in 2001. He is an associate at Heidrick and Struggles, an executive search and leadership consulting firm.
September 10, 2007 Length: 58:27
The term Holy Scripture denotes the sum of holy books that were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit…
The Bible is in a sense a biography of God in this world. In it the Indescribable One has in a sense described Himself. The Holy Scriptures of the New Testament are a biography of the incarnate God in this world. In them it is related how God, in order to reveal Himself to men, sent God the Logos, who took on flesh and became man – and as a man told men everything that God is, everything that God wants from this world and the people in it….
Men cannot devise more questions than there are answers in the Bible. If you fail to find the answer to any of your questions in the Bible, it means that you have either posed a senseless question or did not know how to read the Bible and did not finish reading the answer in it. 
'If an earthly king, our emperor, wrote you a letter, would you not read it with joy? Certainly, with great rejoicing and careful attention. You have been sent a letter, not by any earthly emperor, but by the King of Heaven....' He goes on to say: 'Whenever you read the Gospel, Christ Himself is speaking to you. And while you read, you are praying and talking to Him.'"
All Scripture, then, is given by inspiration of God and is also assuredly profitable. Wherefore to search the Scriptures is a work most fair and most profitable for souls. For just as the tree planted by the channels of water, so also the soul watered by the divine Scripture is enriched and gives fruit in its season, [namely,] orthodox belief, and is adorned with evergreen leafage, I mean, actions pleasing to God. For through the Holy Scriptures we are trained to action that is pleasing to God, and untroubled contemplation. For in these we find both exhortation to every virtue and dissuasion from every vice.
I exhort you, and I will not cease to exhort you to pay heed not only to what is said here, but when you are home also you should occupy yourselves attentively with the reading of Holy Scripture. Let no one say to me such cold words – worthy of judgment – as these: 'I am occupied with a trial, I have obligations in the city, I have a wife, I have to feed my children, and it is not my duty to read the Scripture but the duty of those who have renounced everything.' What are you saying?! It is not your duty to read Scripture because you are distracted by innumerable cares? On the contrary, it is your duty more than those others, more than the monks; they do not have such need of help as do you who live in the midst of such cares. You need treatment all the more, because you are constantly under such blows and are wounded so often. The reading of Scripture is a great defense against sin. Ignorance of the Scripture is a great misfortune, a great abyss. Not to know anything from the word of God is a disaster. This is what has given rise to heresies, to immorality; it has turned everything upside down.
…for keeping up continual recollection of God this pious formula is to be ever set before you. ["Make haste, O God, to deliver me; make haste to help me, O Lord. (Psalm 70:1 KJV)] has not unreasonably been picked out from the whole of Scripture for this purpose.
Hail, heavenly ladder by which God came down. (Cf. Genesis 28:11-16.)
Hail, living table that hast held the Bread of Life… (Cf., Exodus 25:23-30 and John 6:35)
Hail, only gate through which the Word alone has passed… (Cf. Ezekiel 44:1-3).
Hail, rich mountain flowing with the milk of the Spirit; hail, candlestick and vessel of manna, sweet to the taste of the godly. (Cf., Psalm 67:16; Exodus 25:31; Exodus 16:33).
Hail, mountain not cut by hand of man, depth that none can fathom. (Cf., Daniel 2:34)
From thee has come the dew that quenched the flame of idolatry. We therefore cry to thee: Hail, O Virgin, fleece wet with dew that Gideon saw in prophecy. (Cf., Exodus 3:2, 13:21-22)
Hail, fiery Throne! Hail, Candlestick that bears the Light! Hail, Mountain of sanctification, Ark of life, Tabernacle and Holy of Holies! (Cf., Daniel 7:9; Exodus 25:31-37; Psalm 77:54' Exodus 25:10; Exodus 26:1, 33.)
Adam was justly banished from Eden because he disobeyed one commandment of Thine, O Saviour. What then shall I suffer, for I am always rejecting Thy words of life?
Instead of the visible Eve, I have the Eve of the mind: the passionate thought in my flesh, shewing me what seems sweet; yet whenever I taste from it, I find it bitter.
By my own free choice I have incurred the guilt of Cain's murder. I have killed my conscience, bring the flesh to life and making war upon the soul by my wicked actions.
Thou alone, my soul, hast opened the windows of the wrath of thy God, and thou hast flooded, as the earth, all thy flesh and deeds and life; and thou hast remained outside the Ark of salvation.
Skillfully hast thou planned to build a tower, O my soul, and to establish a stronghold for thy lusts; but the Creator confounded they designs and dashed thy devices to the ground.
O my soul, thou hast followed Ham, who mocked his father. Thou hast not covered thy neighbour's shame, walking backwards with averted face.
O my soul, thou hast become like Hagar the Egyptian: thy free choice has been enslaved, and thou hast borne as thy child a new Ishmael, stubborn willfulness.
Thou knowest, my soul, the ladder that was shown to Jacob, reaching from earth to heaven. Why hast thou not provided a firm foundation for it through thy godly actions?
In privation Jacob the Patriarch endured the burning heat by day and the frost by night, making daily gains of sheep and cattle, shepherding, wrestling and serving, to win his two wives.
By the two wives, understand action and knowledge in contemplation. Leah is action, for she had many children; and Rachel is knowledge, for she endured great toil. And without toil, O my soul, neither action nor contemplation will succeed.
O miserable soul, thou hast not struck and killed the Egyptian mind, as did Moses the great. Tell me, then, how wilt thou go to dwell through repentance in the wilderness empty of passions?
Aaron offered to God fire that was blameless and undefiled, but Hophni and Phinehas brought to Him, as thou hast done, my soul, strange fire and a polluted life.
O my soul, the hand of Moses shall be our assurance, proving that God can cleanse a life full of leprosy and make it white as snow. So do not despair of thyself, though thou art leprous.
Like Israel before thee, thou hast made a foolish choice, my soul; instead of the divine manna thou hast senselessly preferred the pleasure-loving gluttony of the passions.
Rise up and make war against the passions of the flesh, as Joshua against Amalek, ever gaining the victory over the Gibeonites, thy deceitful thoughts.
Thou hast drawn upon thyself, O my soul, the condemnation of Eli the priest: thoughtlessly thou hast allowed the passions to work evil within thee, just as he permitted his children to commit transgressions.
O pure Virgin, living book of Christ, sealed by the Spirit, beholding thee the great Archangel said to thee: 'Hail, vessel of joy! Through thee shall we be loosed from the curse of our first mother.'
The Holy Maiden, seeing herself in all her purity, said boldly unto Gabriel: 'Strange seem thy words and hard for my soul to accept. From a conception without seed how dost thou speak of childbirth…?
Seeking to know what passes knowledge, the Virgin said to the ministering Angel: 'From a maiden womb how can a Son be born? Tell me.' And to her in fear he answered, crying:
Hail, initiate of God's secret counsel:
Hail, faith which must be guarded in silence.
Hail, beginning of Christ's wonders…
Hail, Bride without bridegroom.
Coming to the city of Nazareth, the mighty leader of the spiritual angels proclaimed to thee, O Undefiled, the Incarnation of the King and Lord of the ages, saying unto thee: 'Hail, blessed Mary, depth unsearchable beyond all understanding, and restoration of all mortal men.'
Since our reasoning brain is a gift from God, there is undoubtedly a legitimate place for scholarly research into Biblical origins. But, while we are not to reject this research wholesale, we cannot as Orthodox accept it in its entirety. Always we need to keep in view that the Bible is not just a collection on historical documents, but it is the book of the Church, containing God's word.
The Orthodox Church, far from being against the reading of Scripture, greatly encourages it. The Church is only against the misreading of Scripture, against reading one's own private opinions and passions, even sins into the sacred text.
You were transfigured on the mountain, O Christ God, revealing Your glory to Your disciples as far as they could bear it.…
Your disciples beheld Your glory as far as they could see it…
Holy Scripture, according to the Fathers, is bone and no one will venture with teeth fit for milk to break the strong bones of Holy Scripture – for those teeth will be crushed…
The perfect wisdom of Scripture belongs, according to Saint Paul, to the perfect.
For only he who has been cleansed of sins sees things as they truly are.
Spiritual knowledge is like a house built in the midst of Greek and worldly wisdom, in which house, like a tightly locked trunk, there is the knowledge of the divine Scriptures, and the unutterable treasure hidden in this knowledge of the Scriptures, that is, Divine grace. Those who enter this house cannot see this treasure if the trunk is not opened for them, but this trunk cannot be opened by any human wisdom. This is why people who think in a worldly way do not know the spiritual treasure which lies in the trunk of spiritual knowledge, And just as someone who lifts this trunk on his shoulders cannot by this alone see the treasure which is inside, so also even if someone were to read and learn by heart the divine Scriptures, and could read them all like a single psalm, he cannot by this alone acquire the grace of the Holy Spirit, which is hidden in them. For just as what is hidden in the trunk cannot be revealed by the trunk itself, so also what is concealed in the divine Scriptures cannot be revealed by the Scriptures themselves. (Homily 39)
When God comes to dwell in us and reveals Himself to us consciously, then we awaken to knowledge, i.e., we understand in reality those mysteries which are concealed in the divine Scriptures. But it is impossible to attain this in any other way. Those who do not know what I have spoken about and have not experienced it in reality have not yet tasted of the sweetness of the immortal life which the divine words have, and they boast only of their knowledge; they place the hope for their salvation on the knowledge of the divine Scripture alone and in the fact that they know it by heart. Such ones, after death, will be judged more than those who have not heard the Scripture at all. Especially do those who have gone astray in ignorance corrupt the meaning of divine Scripture and interpret it according to their lusts. For them the power of divine Scripture is inaccessible…One who has the whole of Divine Scripture on his lips cannot understand and attain to the mystical divine glory and power concealed in it if he will not fulfill the commandments of God and be vouchsafed to receive the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who might open to him the words of Divine Scripture as a book, and show him the mystical glory which is within them and might at the same time show the power and glory of God; which good things are concealed in them, together with eternal life overflowing with those good things. But these things are concealed and unknown to all those who are careless disdainers of God's commandments.
There is an understanding [in Orthodoxy] that unless you bow down to the Lord God and worship Him, the words of the Creed will remain closed to you. You will not hear them rightly nor find them to be for your salvation.
When, however, sociologist or ethicists, without having the Holy Spirit, study the works of the Fathers, they divide and separate them. And I think that this isolated, detached use of quotations from the Fathers – out of the ascetic spirit – in order to support our impure and human-centered thoughts is the greatest heresy. When we take the Fathers out of the spirit of asceticism, of repentance, we divide them. And every division is a change for the worse. All of the heretics did the same. They used the passages without understanding them, without having the prerequisites of interpreting them correctly. We should therefore carry out the 'watchword' which prevails in our times – 'return to the Fathers' – not only by studying the texts of the Fathers but also by making the effort of acquiring the life of the Fathers. We should live in the holy Church, live with the holy Mysteries and the holy virtues, stop being individuals and start living like persons, as worthy members of Christ.
In the hands of neurologically sick people the Bible becomes a source of 'uncontrollable fantasies'. And indeed 'religion' is ... most dangerous. Instead of being a manual for the cure of the sickness of 'religion' the Bible becomes a book for the propagation of the sickness of 'religion'.
…recognizing church tradition as a source of theology does not deny the sufficiency of Scripture; it denies the sufficiency of the interpreter. It would seem naïve to deny the effects of the Fall at the point where a theologian is seeking to understand the Word.
The holy and divinely inspired Scriptures suffice for all instruction in the truth.
Let us look at that very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church from the very beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached, and the Fathers preserved. Upon this the Church is founded [and not Scripture alone, per Pieper]; and if anyone departs from this, he neither is, nor any longer ought to be called, a Christian.
Wherefore, keep yourselves all the more untainted by [the Arians], and observe the traditions of the fathers.
Let [the Arians] tell us from what teacher, or from what tradition, they derived those notions concerning the Savior.
Laying down their private impiety as some sort of rule, [the Arians] wrest all the Divine oracles into accordance with it.
Had they dwelt on these thoughts and recognized the ecclesiastical scope as an anchor for the Faith, they would not have made shipwreck of the faith.
We do not think that it is right to make what is custom among them into a law and rule of the right doctrine. Therefore let the divinely inspired Scripture be made the judge by us, and on the side of those whose doctrines are found in agreement with the divine words the vote of truth is cast.
…Everything which is outside of the divinely inspired Scriptures is sin…
The hearers taught in the Scriptures ought to test what is said by teachers and accept that which agrees with the Scriptures but reject what is foreign.
…nor do we speak of the Holy Ghost as begotten, for by the tradition of the faith we have been taught one Only-begotten: the Spirit of truth we have been taught to proceed from the Father, and we confess Him to be of God without creation.
Of the beliefs and practices whether generally accepted or publicly enjoined which are preserved in the Church some we possess derived from written teaching; others we have received delivered to us 'in a mystery' by the tradition of the apostles; and both of these in relation to true religion have the same force. And these no one will gainsay; – no one, at all events, who is even moderately versed in the institutions of the Church. For were we to attempt to reject such customs as having no written authority, on the ground that the importance they possess is small, we should unintentionally injure the Gospel in its very vitals…
The Lord commands… that Christians who… want to gain steadfastness in the true faith should take refuge in nothing else but Scripture.
But now there is for those who want to know which is the true church of Christ no way to know it except only through the Scriptures.
But why should all Christians at this time [of Antichrist] head for the Scriptures? Because in this period in which heresy has taken possession of the churches there can be no proof of true Christianity nor any other refuge for Christians who want to know the truth of the faith except the divine Scriptures….
Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by Epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther.
Suppose that for some reason the Church were to be bereft of all her liturgical books, of the Old and New Testaments, the works of the holy Fathers – what would happen? Sacred Tradition would restore the Scriptures, not word for word, perhaps – the verbal form might be different – but in essence the new Scriptures would be the expression of that same 'faith which was once delivered unto the saints'.
The Bible forms a part of Tradition. Sometimes Tradition is defined as the oral teaching of Christ, not recorded in writing by his immediate disciples' (Oxford Dictionary). Not only non-Orthodox but many Orthodox writers have adopted this way of speaking, treating S