An expounder of false teachings, a man named Atef Aziz, who was excommunicated and whose teachings were formally condemned by the Church of Alexandria’s Holy Synod of bishops in 2002, has recently emerged particularly in the United States of America and has gained some ground and following in the hearts of some. On June 1, 2016 many Copts (by way of CopticWorld.org) and others received a communication from the bishops of North America warning Copts not to have anything to do with Atef Aziz (who has changed his name several times) or his followers or teachings, or otherwise be subject to suspension and possible excommunication. (To learn more about this heresy and recent controversies related to him, see the end of this post). (I got wind of this initially when I, as many others, heard the news of a beloved priest who was originally implicated with Atef Aziz’s teachings but has (as I understand it) since clarified to the Coptic pope his position and remains accepted within the flock.)
I’ll be honest. When I found out I was scheduled to speak to my Sunday school class about the the first four chapters in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, I was less than thrilled, as I didn’t know if I could find a relevant, practical message that could have an impact on those listening. Four chapters, 60 minutes. How?
I just finished giving the lesson and I must say, as I went along the journey of preparing for it, I was delighted to find deep, core Orthodox Christian messages that I was able to share, and that may be easily missed. And this was just the first four chapters! Continue reading →
Where in the Bible does it explicitly state, “Only bishops and priests can baptize and confer the Holy Spirit?” Where explicitly? Nowhere.
So why do we Orthodox Christians believe this? I am addressing this here because someone recently challenged me with just that question, and I realize many Orthodox do not know how to confront this question. Here’s my take. Continue reading →