Clothes and the Fallacy of Apostolic Tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church


Eastern Orthodox VestmentsThis is a little bit of a straw man, but I was thinking about it, so I thought I would post it to see what your thoughts are.

The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that they hold to the traditions of the Apostles, and that we should listen to them because they are pure and undefiled from the world. But is that true? One simple way to show that Orthodox tradition has changed is to take a look at the clothes that their priests are required to wear because they are not the same as they have always been. In fact, they have changed quite a bit (and even are different now based on region), [1] and few of these ornate clothes or their symbolism really existed until after Christianity was “standardized” during the age of Constantine.[2] Far from being an Apostolic tradition, they made up their own tradition, and now hold to it as though it was directly from God. Their clothes are based on the tradition of men, not of God. If they can’t even get their clothes right, why should we believe they have anything else right?

“CHRISTIAN CHURCH VESTMENTS were not inherited from any other religion, but gradually evolved out of the ordinary dress of the elite in the Roman Empire. In those first days of Christianity the clergy presided in their ordinary clothing, although no doubt more costly and beautiful garments were used. The Church, therefore, did not invent vestments. Instead it simply retained some of the gracious and ample vesture once worn by the upper classes. As time went on and fashions changed, the Church kept the original styles, thus reflecting a feeling common to most religions that special clothing be used for ceremonial occasions.”[3]

I don’t claim to have everything right, so saying I have one part of my theology wrong doesn’t hurt me, but rather would make me want to search the Scriptures more so that I may test to see whether my belief is based on truth or not. But because the Orthodox Church claims they have everything right, since I can prove they don’t have their clothes right (their tradition has changed, and yet they require their priests to conform to wearing certain vestments, or special clothing), I can prove that they are false in their claim of pure Apostolic tradition. If certain clothes are required by tradition, someone in the Orthodox Church is wrong, and they should find out who (is it the Greeks, the Russians?), so that they can return to the truth. But I believe they are wrong altogether – the Apostles did NOT wear the same ornate clothes that they now wear,[4] and neither should we be required to.


[1] “Orthodoxy’s Liturgical Vestment Colors,” http://aggreen.net/vestment/liturgical_colors.html.

[2] “The rise of Byzantium and the close relationship of the Church and State had a marked influence on the further development of Orthodox vestments which have essentially remained in the same form up to this day The mitre, for example,-worn by all those in the episcopal office-is modeled after the crown of the Byzantine emperors. .It is highly unlikely that it was modeled after the Old Testament mitre since it was not adopted by bishops of the Church until the 15th century.” – “The Symbolism of Vestments,” http://www.roca.org/OA/32/32f.htm.

[3] “Byzantines.net – Byzantine Liturgical Vestments,” http://www.byzantines.net/moreinfo/vestments.htm.

[4] “As time moved on, and fashions changed, the dress of the priests and clerics of the Church did not and gradually became more and more distinct from secular fashions.” Shawn Tribe, “The New Liturgical Movement: On the Origins and Development of Vestments. Part I: Origins,” http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/2006/07/on-origins-and-development-of.html.

29 Responses to Clothes and the Fallacy of Apostolic Tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church

  1. Lee says:

    Very interesting! We’ll see what develops here…

  2. Chara W. says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My sister announced recently that she was leaving the church we grew up in for the Orthodox church and so far we haven’t really found a lot of ways to talk to her about it since we have very little common ground (we grew up believing that the Bible was the ultimate authority, not tradition). Any other information you have about the Orthodox church might be really helpful.

  3. phil says:

    It is so very easy to be a frog in the kettle who is unaware of change. The vestments show a deeper blindness to the changes one makes over time. It is clear the Orthodox of today are really much different from the apostles, who had neither silver nor gold nor were interested in regal vestments showing their honor and grandeur.

    Calling the men “father” and proclaiming some “patriarchs” further evolves from the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:7-10. We are often blind to our own baggage.

  4. MG says:

    Nathan and Phil–

    As you make these arguments, are you keeping in mind the distinction between the *content* of an idea or teaching, and the *way that content is articulated or expressed*? Do you think that once this distinction is introduced, this challenges the validity of your argument?

    Also, Phil–

    Could you clarify, are you saying that Christian leaders shouldn’t be called “father” or use “father/son” language to describe their relationships?

    Thanks guys

  5. nathanwells says:

    Hi MG,

    Yes, I only am pointing out that while Eastern Orthodoxy claims to do things the same way the early church did, they have actually morphed quite a bit. The clothes actually have a really big part in the service, as do all the ornaments, gold, etc. and it just shows that none of that existed in the early church and yet the Eastern Orthodox puts high value on it. Why do they put such high value on something that has nothing to do with actual early church tradition? Because, I believe, they are the traditions of men, made up after the apostles death.

  6. Orthodox Individual says:

    Dear Phil,

    You are right about one thing, Christianity is not the same as it used to be. If you need a Christianity that is closer to the one when the Apostles lived then you would take off your shoes and not have any exra clothes with you except for one cloak and one staff. You would not care about your clothes or anyone elses for that matter becuase every day could be your last. Your only care would be to spread the word of God and to help those who need you the most.

    How far away we all live from this reality? I constantly think to myself.

    Perhaps a rebellion from within us is needed?

    http://www.deathtotheworld.com/articles/002/lasttrue/index.html

    Regards

    Orthodox Individual

  7. MG says:

    Nathan–

    You wrote:

    “Why put such high value on something that has nothing to do with actual early church tradition?”

    I think this is the same as asking “why put such high value on the English language, considering that the early church didn’t use it?” The content is the same in an Orthodox service as it has always been; its the way the content is expressed that is different. Similarly the content of the Bible is the same now as it always was; it is now expressed in many different languages. Cultural contextualization shapes the way content is articulated, but does not change the content. So if vestments are part of cultural contextualization, and they articulate the same content as is always taught by the Church (ie. the priest is an image of Christ, an object of respect because of his holiness) then this seems valid.

    If we make this distinction, then the fact that today’s vestments are not what they always were does not necessarily imply that Orthodoxy has changed or corrupted Church Tradition. So if my distinction is valid (and I think that the example of bible translations establishes this) then I don’t think the accusation that Orthodoxy teaches the traditions of men is sound. At least, you would have to prove that the types of garments worn are part of the content of Christian teaching, not just the way it is articulated. But it seems obvious that clothing-types are part of the “form”, not the “matter”.

    Here’s something I’ve been wondering: do you think that if Protestantism is true, that each person’s interpretation of the Bible is just as fallible and non-authoritative as everyone else’s? (bearing in mind that some people use better exegetical methodology, and hence have a higher probability of correctly interpreting–which is not, however, the same as authority) If so, how would this relate to the accusation that Orthodoxy teaches the traditions of men?

  8. Orthodox says:

    Dear Brother in Christ,
    You do raise valid points.
    First of all, I would like to acknowledge, that the traditions of the Orthodox church did change slightly over the course of the years. The way Divine Liturgy is performed has probably slightly changed, Like you say, the dress of priesthood probably changed.
    However, I don’t see this in a negative way. As Orthodoxy spread between different countries, an interaction between the faithful and the local environment created different local traditions. What is important, is that Orthodox tradition is holy, it promotes repentance, it glorifies God.

  9. Kim says:

    You might consider doing more research into what the Orthodox believe regarding tradition (things they do that don’t really impact the doctrine of the church) and Tradition (the Faith handed down from the Apostles). The clothes that the priest wear are not part of the Tradition and aren’t essential to the Apostolic faith. That things have changed in the world since the time of the apostles is evident, including the clothes that people wear and the way they talk. The basis of Orthodox apostolic tradition isn’t based on some rigid, legalistic argument that every single detail of the Church has remained unchanged (I mean, they use cars to drive around in now and build churches of modern building materials, does that mean their teachings are false?).

    The vestments and other beautiful items inside Orthodox churches are not part of the belief system, they’re a tool that believers use to adorn the churches out of love. Just as hanging a child’s drawing on your refrigerator doesn’t change the nature of the food within, decorations inside the church don’t change the church’s understanding of the nature of Christ.

  10. nathanwells says:

    Kim,

    Are there any Orthodox churches where the priests do not wear vestments?

    You say that vestments and other beautiful items inside an Orthodox church are “a tool that believers use to adorn the churches out of love”
    But where did that understanding come from?
    Is it based on experience?

    If it is just an expression of love, why is there no variance between churches? Why must they all wear these clothes?
    I believe you will be hard pressed to find an Orthodox church that does not wear vestments, and that is my point. They have emphasized something that is a tradition of man to the point that it has blinded them. Who said wearing a vestment is any more worshipful than wearing jeans? God? I think not. And yet the Orthodox church would have us believe that their way is the better way.

    Listen:
    “The Orthodox Church is quite firm in its insistence that liturgical vesting is essential to normal liturgical worship, experienced as the realization of communion with the glorious Kingdom of God, a Kingdom which is yet to come but which is also already with us in the mystery of Christ’s Church.” (taken from: http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=48 )

    And yet that same document plainly states that: “As the Church developed through history the vestments of the clergy grew more numerous.”

    So what, are they saying the early church had it wrong and missed out on this experience of the realization of communion with the glorious Kingdom of God?

    If tradition is the rule, then why has it changed?

    I believe the Bible to be the rule – word of mouth “Tradition” is not valid.

  11. David says:

    Dear brothers and sisters,

    One minute Orthodox are accused of being too “rigid” and the next minute of changing too much. The truth is that the Orthodox Church has a balance of continuing the traditions of the Fathers as well as allowing some change in less important matters over time.

    The Church was around before most of the New Testament was written for many years. Most Churches didn’t have complete collections of the Holy Scriptures for hundreds of years. St Paul tells us to keep to teachings whether delivered by letter or word of mouth. St John tells us that Christs acts couldn’t even be contained in all the books of the world.

    Orthodoxy has a deep spirituality and many holy men that is unparalelled in other Churches.

    If Protestants claim that they have no tradition – they are mistaken. The wedding service, the strict allowance of only one wife, the method of praying, the style of music, the the acceptance of the teachings of the Church Councils regarding the nature of Christ which the Orthodox Church paid for with many maters, the Holy Scriptures which were canonized by an Orthodox council, and much more.

    The early Church, like Judaism, was liturgical and certainly had no resemblance to rock concerts, with disco lights and had Pastors with hummers, fancy clothes (our Presbyters dress simply outside of the Liturgy which represents being in Heaven).

    Give the Orthodox Church another chance. Christ said that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church. So then what happened to the Church between Constantine and Martin Luther (who by the way allowed polygamy etc because he rejected Church Tradition)? The truth is that the Church survived and faught against many terrible herersies. Look to the lives of the Holy people of our Church – St Seraphim of Sarov, Elder Porphyrios, St John Maximovitch, St John of Kronstadt, Abbess Thaisia, St Mary of Egypt – the list goes on, shutting youself off from Orthodoxy is like closing a treasure chest given to you by GOd and going to look for your own.

    Christ started the Church and she is still around today – although she may have changed a little bit, she is still the same Church. Maybee if she was like a little girl when she started (and certainly not perfect at that – not a perfect Church to try and copy exactly) and through the years she has aged and battled through many hardships, learnt, grown, adapted to new surroundings and environments, suffered Roman persecution, heretical persecution, Islamic domination, Communist persecution, and she has survived – just that she is a more mature Church – but still with childlike faith and complete faithfullness to the teachings of Christ.

  12. Orthodox student says:

    I’m stunned by the lack of depth to this article. The author has obviously read very little about Orthodox theology, including the difference between Tradition and tradition. If one intends to be critical of something, you would assume he at least understand what he’s arguing about.

    The vestments of the Church have changed. So has our Liturgy. So have the styles of our iconography. Anybody who claims they haven’t is delusional and does not know what they are talking about.

    What has no changed is Tradition, however. We believe the same dogma as the Apostles, in the same Christ as they, in the same Trinity, etc. That’s more than many Christian groups can say today.

    Oh, and if you’d like another thing that changed over time, how about the Bible? We compiled it several centuries after Christ, and the Protestants cut chunks out. I think this is more of a talking point than vestment choices.

  13. nathanwells says:

    To David and Orthodox student,

    I will only give a short reply, because of the multiple replies I have already given to others (which it looks like neither of you read).

    Here’s the problem – you say there is a difference between Tradition and tradition. That’s fine – but here’s the problem. Is there ANY Orthodox Church that actually views the vestments as optional? Because if they are not part of the Tradition as you say, then why are they not optional? No, rather – they are viewed as essential to honoring God.

    I have a problem with that – and I think it points to a way bigger problem that the Orthodox Church has in regards to the so called “verbal” tradition.

    I believe there are no essential traditions that are not contained in Scripture.

    And yes, Orthodox student, this article does lack depth – because it’s talking about clothes! But I believe it is an issue that must be dealt with because the Orthodox Church has made it an issue.

    Give me some source in the Orthodox Church that says vestments are optional, and that will disprove part of my arguments, but the main argument is with man’s Tradition verses Scripture. Scripture stands.

    You have to deal with this: “The Orthodox Church is quite firm in its insistence that liturgical vesting is essential to normal liturgical worship, experienced as the realization of communion with the glorious Kingdom of God, a Kingdom which is yet to come but which is also already with us in the mystery of Christ’s Church.” (taken from: http://www.oca.org/OCchapter.asp?SID=2&ID=48 )

    Where in the WORLD does that thinking come from?

    Not from the Apostles!!!!

  14. David says:

    I can’t believe you are seriously trying to argue the validity of apostolic succession in the Orthodox Church by the CLOTHES we wear…
    Grow up, and go and read some Orthodox Theology. Maybe then I might take you seriously.

    DCG

  15. Iordanna says:

    Just a side note…

    the picture you selected depicts a Catholic priest.
    You should probably find a picture of an Orthodox Priest for this article.

    • nathanwells says:

      Thanks for pointing that out – I’m actually surprised no one said anything before! I’ve changed the picture to one of Patriarch Bartholomew Bartolomeo. I believe that is a correct visualization of one type of Orthodox vestments…correct me if I am wrong.

      Thanks Iordanna.

  16. Iordanna says:

    “Let Thy Priests be clothed with righteousness; and let Thy Saints shout for joy, always, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.” (Psalm 132:9)

    I might also add…

    The Old Testament clearly states that the office of priesthood was met to be set apart. God commanded that when the priests enter the gates of the inner court of the temple,
    “they shall put on linen robes… and when they go out into the outer court to the people, they shall put off their robes in which they minister and they shall lay them up in the chamber of the sanctuary” (Ezek. 44:17).

    Note: At the time when this was written Linen was considered to be a very fine material- especially in comparison to wool, which was courser & more commonly used. Therefore, the above passage from the OT emphasizes the fact that clergy were met to wear finer material, which would set them apart from other people and also glorify God.

    The vestments hold great spiritual significance, which is underlined by of all the various liturgical vestments is underlined by the special prayers read during the process of vesting- all of the prayers were taken directly from the Old Testament.

    For example…
    When the priest or deacon puts on the sticharon, he says: “My soul shall rejoice in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation and with the vesture of gladness hath He covered me. .(Is. 61:10). In putting on the epimanika or cuffs, first on the right hand and then on the left, he prays: “Thy right hand, O Lord, is glorified in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath vanquished the enemy, and in the multitude of Thy glory hast Thou crushed the adversaries (Ex. 15:6). “Thy hands have made me and fashioned me…” (Ps. 118:73). The cuffs are symbolic of the bonds of Christ and serve as a re minder that a minister of the Church must rely not on his own strength, but on the help of God.

    Vestments are also used to add to the experience one has in church. The beauty the church is adorned with lifts our minds and our hearts from earth, and helps us to focus on the spiritual. For instance, the the color of of vestments worn by Priest changes depending on specific events of the church- on Good and Holy Friday, for example, Priest wear black robes as an outward symbol of mourning the death of our Lord.

    During the Paschal period as the brightest and most radiant celebration of the vanquishing of death. It is a visual reminder that, “He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment” (Rev. 3:5). Outside of festal periods gold is used to remind us of the heavenly Jerusalem: “and the city was pure gold” (Rev. 21:18).

    I know Nathanwells! The symbolic significance behind the robes, though quite extensive, is unimportant to you.

    —————————————————–
    Nathanwells- this is the only section you will be interested in.

    It’s true. Orthodox Priest must wear vestments- vestments are not optional. The vestments are part of a tradition, which has lasted for thousands (literally!) of years. Though the type of vestments has changed their symbolic meaning has not changed.

    Also, you wrote “I believe their are not essential traditions that are contained in the scripture.”

    However, we our instructed to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or epsitle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)

    The development of our traditions began over 2,000 years ago, before anyone had even begun to write the New Testament.

    The Apostles –who Jesus chose to walk beside Him, who actually heard Jesus preach, who were taught how to live a Christian life by Jesus, and who were given direct authority by Jesus to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19, 20) — created the Orthodox Church, and started many of our Orthodox traditions. The Apostles aren’t just “regular” people. How can anyone doubt those traditions when they were put into practice by people who actually walked with our Lord?

    “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or epsitle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15)!
    —————————————————–
    While vestments worn by Orthodox Priest have changed, Orthodox church doctorine, which was handed down to us by the Apostles, has not changed. Do you understand the significance of that?

    The Apostles spoke to to Jesus. They walked with Jesus, they ate with Jesus, they were preached to and taught by Jesus, and were given authority, by Jesus, to preach the gospel. They formed a Church- The Orthodox Church- based on all they learned from Jesus’ direct teachings! That’s beautiful!

  17. Iordanna says:

    I’d like a reply. This conversation is very interesting.

    • nathanwells says:

      Hi Iordanna,

      Thanks for your comments and interaction with my post. I will try to interact with what you have said as best I can.

      1) You referred to: “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or epsitle.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15) in regard to your statement: “The development of our traditions began over 2,000 years ago, before anyone had even begun to write the New Testament.”

      In 2 Thess. 2:15 the Apostle Paul refers to word of mouth traditions and written traditions. These traditions are limited in nature: they must be from the Apostles and not someone else.

      I grant that the Church (though to call it the Orthodox Church is a little bold) had tradition before the New Testament was completed (the bulk of the New Testament is written to churches that were already established). But that is no argument that lets the Orthodox Church do whatever they want – they are still limited by what God has Revealed. It is after all, the Church of God. Even the Orthodox Church must be subject to the Lord. Just because those churches began before the New Testament was written did not mean they didn’t have to listen to the Apostles teaching and follow it.

      The issue I am making is that the tradition in regards to the essential nature of vestments was NOT a tradition given by ANY Apostle either in word or in epistle.

      Therefore your linking such a “tradition” to the tradition the Apostle speaks of is invalid.

      The essential nature of vestments for worship is a tradition that finds its source in the Apostles.

      2) You wrote, “While vestments worn by Orthodox Priest have changed, Orthodox church doctorine, which was handed down to us by the Apostles, has not changed. Do you understand the significance of that?”

      In my thinking, if something is viewed as essential for worship (such as the wearing of vestments), that is doctrine. It is an essential doctrine of the Orthodox Church that vestments are worn in worship.
      Therefore, since the Orthodox Church holds to a tradition as essential that was not handed down to the Orthodox Church by the Apostles there is a gaping whole in the foundation of their doctrine.

      The Orthodox Church has at the very least blurred the line between actual true tradition from the Apostles, and their own traditions that came about over time. And at the most placed their own traditions on the same level as those of the Apostles.

      The essential nature of vestments for worship is a doctrine that finds its roots in the opinions of men – it is not from God.

  18. I have oh my lord how will you ever forgive me, for I have denied you for so long but now I see after reading the Holy Scriptures I have found you at last for I had the same as Thomas about you I always wondered Why I thought I was Suffering threw life well it was the way you could get my attention as to what you wanted me to do oh Lord please steer me in your direction for I know now that I’m an eye witness your living an well you’ll be in my heart Forever help oh Lord to bring you too fold for I am truly and Apostle to bring forth change the way want it to be Your Apostle James others can seek me out I Dare you to.

  19. George says:

    James are you claiming to be an apostle?
    what about praying in secret??

  20. Michael says:

    This article rightly points out that Orthodox tradition in regards to the vestments have changed slightly over time. We keep talking about the Apostles and how they did things (Apostolic tradition), but we fail to realize that they were only following THEIR OWN traditions. Let’s not cast judgement on the Orthodox because would any of us abide by strict Apostolic tradition? A tradition where women are supressed? If you are a follower of Peter, he thinks you should be circumcised, but Paul thinks otherwise. How are we to follow Apostolic TRADITION if they weren’t able to agree entirely themselves? We should be concerned with both Apostolic beliefs and early church Fathers’ views. Remember, the Apostles had disciples and they became the Fathers of the Church and the theologians of the faith. But by nit-picking at this minor subject of the Orthodox Church, we are forgeting the big picture which is the theology. The theology ingrained into the Bible and the hermeneutics of the Holy Fathers is central to what we should be practicing in all Christian denominations. The fact of the matter is, theologically, the Orthodox Church has kept the EARLIEST of theologies and traditions. If you do not think the Orthodox Church does a good job in keeping Apostolic tradition, then I implore you: do it yourself. Have yourselves circumcised if you aren’t, enter your churches in 1st century clothing, divorce your wife if you do not like her face (yes, that was a tradition in the time of Hosea that was taught to the Apostles in the teachings of what has become known as the Old Testament). But acknowledge the fact that the Orthodox Church has modified its traditions due to the nature of the region and times, but has never sacrificed any of its rich and thoughrough theology.

  21. Altaye says:

    Am surprised by the arrogance that came from Our brothers from the east. Thought there are truly historical writers and evidences against their doctrine. If Christianity does not have the humility of Jesus it needs to change its name. Hope our brothers from the east will open their eyes to how they come across as prideful.

  22. Gerasimos says:

    It’s incredible to me that anyone reading the Bible can miss the fact that vestments are the norm for Judeo-Christian worship. God commanded this in Jewish worship and this was true during Apostolic times. The Apostles loved to worship in the Temple. They did not leave the Jewish temple willingly; they were thrown out. The Apostles were brought up with liturgical worship because they were religious Jews. I love the Revelation of St. John the Divine because it shows that Liturgical worship is the worship in heaven itself: how God Himself loves candles and incense and vestments! So here we have a Bible chock through from cover to cover with beautiful liturgy celebrated at God’s command for the glory of God and what do some Protestants say? That it’s all just unnecessary! And then they claim to be Bible lovers!

  23. Chris says:

    The implied point is that the Bible is merely part of a greater Tradition, though a bit on a pedestal, not the source of it. The Bible was never written, and compiled as a systematic theology, it can only be understood in the context in which not only the OT (in relation to the NT), but that of the books in the NT were written. You cannot derive the whole from the part. Can you construct a car from a tire, and a bumper? No.

    Where does the Bible prohibit the requirement to wear vestments? The Church decides things, because it is the continual revelation of Christ as His body on earth, not the Bible. Like I said, the Bible is part of the Church’s Tradition… the Bible comes from the Church.

  24. Sadly enough it sounds as if you never even asked an Orthodox Clergyman where the tradition of our vestments grew out of. Many of them as well as things found in our Temples were influenced by Jewish custom. Even sadder – you make it sound as if if you were invited to the Faith, you would not want to “afford” such costly-looking clothes. Naturally, as a Missionary, you would be saying that!

    If you are so terribly offended on this one item, since you have not studied Orthodox Theology, best that you visit an orthodox men’s monastery and observe the monks in their humble garb, and do your research while there. You will come to see that the Eastern view is that Christian life is about balance as well as asecticism, and the Abbott or Heiromonk there will be happy to tell you why gold, silver and other adornments are still used on vestments as well as in Church.

    Had Roman Catholicism not split away in the Church during the Great Schizm, and in turn given rise to the Protestant Reformation, you probably would have been taught the answer to the “vestments” question in seminary, and wouldn’t have to go hunting for the information to satisfy your curiosity – if you are genuinely seeking an answer for it.

    In general, it’s not wise to blog about something openly until you have all your facts straight, unless you’re just seeking to puff yourself up in public. God bless, and I hope you have the heart to seek, instead of just write. +

  25. ByzCat3 says:

    As a Byzantine Catholic, I feel the need to come to the aid of the Mother Church even though I’m not in communion with it, although it’s defenders have quite simply shattered your arguments. All of the vestments have some sort of symbolic value (ex: phelonion represents God’s blessing/overshadowing, pojas represent the cuffs with which Jesus was bound, sticharion is new life I think, etc. etc.
    I’m sure Satan is oh that you’re writing this article instead of fighting him.

  26. The vestments are beautiful. The Orthodox Liturgy is not only rich and deep but also beautiful. What’s not beautiful are the crack addicts and vagrant individuals that “adorn” the communities where the Churches reside. To be clear, these individuals are beautiful, but not the signs they wear on their bodies that are symbolic of our failure to conduct ourselves as the Apostles did.

    If the Bible is not clear enough for you, go back to the writings of the Desert “fathers” … The Philokalia.

  27. todd says:

    If you were to look at a photograph of me when I was a child and compare it to how I look now, you would see the results of gradual changes to my appearance. In some ways, I do not look like the same person. But in fact, I am the same person. Similarly, the Church has developed through the years without changing who she is.
    The Orthodox place a strong emphasis on her conciliarity. In the earliest times, Christianity spread, scattered across the face of the earth, under persecution. When at last, Christianity was legalized, the leadership from throughout the world convened together in councils, reaching consensus on the common experience of the faith. Decisions were made, changes occurred, we believe- under the guidance of the Holy Spirit of God. (As was the case at the first council in Jerusalem, Acts 15:28) Ours is a living experience, a communion of the saints of all ages. One such council, at Carthage, hammered out which books were to be included, and which discluded from the canon of Scripture… among some of the other matters decided at that council were matters of vestments. The Scriptures are a royal gem, fruit of our Holy Tradition.
    Take note that the Orthodox are not bickering with one another over matters of dress… sure, we have our internal rules. But we are not saying one tradition is right and the other wrong. (Greek, Russian, etc.) From the outside looking in, this may be confusing, but for us, it is like the rules you have in your home… like close the door when you are using the bathroom, etc. It is not dogma or doctrine.
    It has been the case throughout history that the Church has been persecuted by the world. Let Christians not persecute one another!

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