LAYING ON OF HANDS: What St. Paul calls an “elementary principle” of Christianity—neglected, forgotten, or rejected by so many Christians today.

LayingonofhandsBishopsOrdainingDeaconAtStandingConferenceofOrientalOrthodoxChurches

Many may have heard or read of the “laying on of hands,” but how many Christians understand its significance? St. Paul, in listing out what he called the “elementary principles of Christ,” mentions the “laying on of hands” as being as fundamental to Christianity as “repentance … faith … baptisms … resurrection of the dead, and … eternal judgment” (Hebrews 6:1-2).

Really? As fundamental as “faith” and belief in the “resurrection of the dead?” Yes. Yet, if you are reading this and consider yourself a Christian, do you understand what the laying on of hands is? And for those who recognize this as a familiar practice, I ask you this: is it being practiced by your church the way it was practiced by the apostles and their legitimate successors?

Here is its history and significance:

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Where does the Bible say only clergy can baptize?

Baptism

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

How to Explain the Need for Christianity, and Orthodoxy in 5 easy steps

Christ And Disciples (from icon in Coptic Church in Columbus, OH) If someone were to ask you, why do I need Christ? Why do I need to be Christian? Why do I need Orthodoxy? Why can I not simply be a good person?

Some answer: because God gives me blessings, and so I need Him to remain blessed and prosperous. To that I say, Christianity is not just a feel good religion conferring material prosperity as erroneously preached by many today (such as Joel Olsteen and Joyce Meyer—see this article for more on this). There is no denying that by God’s grace He gives (2 Corinthians 9:8), but at the same time God’s grace is manifested in our lack and in enduring suffering (Matthew 7:14; 2 Corinthians 12:9–10). With or without material abundance, a Christian seeks spiritual compensation now and hereafter. So if prosperity is not guaranteed, then why do I need Christianity, and Orthodoxy? It’s easy to get lost in all the details, so let’s simplify things. The answer revolves around two key matters:

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