Saturday, April 9, 2011

Orthodox Radio of Canada Interview with Alice C. Linsley

Interview conducted by Deacon Gregory Kopchuck

The text that follows represents the un-edited and briefer substance of 3 radio broadcasts that were aired by Orthodox Radio of Canada originally in 2006 and rebroadcast on May 6, May 13 and May 20, 2007. These segments may be heard at

Q: What do they call female priests? Is it “priestess” or something else?

A: What to call women priests is an interesting question. There is no feminine equivalent to the catholic understanding of priest or sacerdote, which goes to show that the catholic view women are not intended to be priests. To get around this, some have latched on the word presbyter, but this term is not equivalent to sacerdote. Many women priests have asked simply to be called by their given names. Other women priests are addressed as Mother, the feminine equivalent of Father, but which also has a monastic connotation. Addressing a woman priest as “Mother” is common among African American congregations. Geralyn Wolfe, a bishop in the Episcopal Church, was called “Mother Gerry” by her African American parishioners at St. Mary, Bainbridge Street in Philadelphia, and I was called “Mother Alice” by my African-American parishioners at St. Andrew in Lexington, Kentucky.

As far as I know, the word “priestess” has never been used by the Episcopal Church because of the term’s associations with pagan religious practices.

Q: In Canada we don’t have an Episcopal Church. We have the Anglican Church. My understanding is they are the same, is this true?

A: Essentially that is true. The Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada are constituents of the worldwide Anglican Communion and heirs of the English Book of Common Prayer. The Anglican Church of Canada has the Book of Common Prayer and the option of an Alternative Services Book, but the Episcopal Church has only one book that is misleadingly called the Book of Common Prayer.

At the moment, the Episcopal Church’s membership in the worldwide Communion is in jeopardy since it has failed as an institution to respond to the requests of the Anglican Primates presented in The Windsor Report. At the June General Convention in Columbus, Ohio, there was a definitive parting of ways when the Episcopal Church once again failed to uphold orthodox doctrine and catholic orders, and refused to co-operate with the Primates’ request to cease same-sex blessings and consecrations of non-celibate homosexuals. Additionally, the Convention elected a woman as the next Primate of the Episcopal Church, further straining relations within the Anglican Communion. In the Anglican Church of Canada, the Diocese of New Westminster, which permits same sex blessings, poses a similar challenge to the unity of Anglicans.

Q: Why did you decide to enter the priesthood?

A:  I wanted to serve the Lord in a full-time capacity and my options in the mid-1980s seemed limited to becoming a deacon or a priest. The priesthood better suited my temperament and provided more financial security. Financial security was a key factor since I had young children and my husband was not committed to providing for his family. He eventually abandoned us, so I am glad that I heeded my instincts to provide for my children through seeking a meaningful profession.

In retrospect, I realize that I would have been happier as an academic or perhaps as a Director of Christian Education in a large parish, but these options seemed far from certain. It is unfortunate that the Church offers few professional options to women, although there are certainly non-stipendiary forms of service.

Had I been in the Orthodox Church in the 1980s I doubt that I would have had more professional options, although I would have felt more affirmed in my feminine role by the Church’s teachings. I appreciate that in the Orthodox Church there is emphasis on the role of women saints, martyrs, teachers, and holy recluses. I am deeply moved when I hear of the “apostolic women” and the “holy myrrh-bearers”, spiritual mothers and holy virgins, and through veneration of the Theotokos, womanhood is esteemed in a great mystery. Through the Blessed Virgin Mary, Christ is born and Adam is recalled.

The Orthodox Faith affirms women and their contributions without distorting God’s design. Women do not need to serve as priests to contribute to the life of the Church. We need only to be humble and to live holy lives.

Q: Why did the Episcopal Church start ordaining women?

A: The Episcopal Church broke with tradition and catholic orders when it began ordaining women as priests in the mid-1970’s. This innovation drew on the social momentum of the Civil Right Movement and the Women’s Liberation Movement, which stressed equality of opportunity and pay in all areas of human endeavor. The Episcopal Church prides itself on being the first to tear down church tradition and social barriers. It has replaced the catholic tradition of careful discernment and selection according to Bible teaching with a false gospel of social equality and now advocates also for the ordination of non-celibate homosexuals.

Q: When did you start to have doubts about women in the priesthood?

A: It is difficult to point to a specific moment of doubt. After my ordination, my husband left to marry a woman with whom he had been having an affair for some time. My days were painfully busy as a single mother in full-time ministry. I served as a school chaplain, a church-planter, and once served 3 congregations as an itinerant priest. For all the Episcopal Church’s talk of affirming women priests, my experience was that the bishops in whose jurisdictions I labored for 18 years did little to support my ministry. Two actually went out of their way to undermine my ministry. Ironically, both of these bishops ran for Primate of the Episcopal Church, but were rejected at the June General Convention in favor of a woman!

So the work wasn’t easy, but I hadn’t expected it to be. The priest with whom I worked to discern God’s call on my life had warned me that: “the priesthood is the hardest job in the world.” For many years my conscious goal was simply to survive. But my dreams kept presenting me with shadows of things to come. I have maintained dream journals for 20 years, so I can look back and see that doubts surfaced from my unconscious before they took shape in my conscious mind. Several dreams are especially telling.

This is the dream I had on the morning of January 1, 1999. In my dream I was leading the liturgy but everything started to go wrong. People were singing when they weren’t supposed to sing. The music was cacophonous and people were confused. I was about to begin the words of consecration, when suddenly many people stood and walked out of the church. One of my daughters was standing near me and I turned to her and said: “I never want to do this again. I’m leaving this line of work.”

I had what I believe to be a prophetic dream on November 12, 1996. In this dream I was vested in alb and stole and standing in a procession of priests. Directly in front of me was my bishop wearing a jeweled chasuble and miter. To my right, about four arm lengths away, there suddenly appeared suspended in the air a magnificent teardrop shaped pearl. It shimmered in the light and I knew that it was the “pearl of great price.” I desired it more than anything. So I turned my back on the bishop and stepped out of the procession of priests to take hold of the pearl. Then I woke up.

My dreams have been helpful also in pointing me back to the Fathers’ teaching. Here is a dream I had on March 27, 2000. I was in an educational building and my old and very kind “husband” took me to a concrete wall. There we got on our knees because He wanted to show me something that was buried in the foundation. He told me that He had hidden riches for me and then lifted a thin metal plate from the ground. As He removed it to reveal the treasure, I noticed that even the metal cover was dotted with droplets of pure silver.

Q: You have mentioned in your writings that you had nagging periodic doubts about women in the priesthood. What were they?

A: I wondered why it is that, among churches in the catholic tradition, only the Episcopal Church has women priests. If the ordination of women to the priesthood were acceptable, why haven’t other branches of the one holy catholic and apostolic church embraced this? It seemed clear to me that this is an innovation without precedent.

Also, the clergy that I most respected stood firmly in the catholic tradition and although they were mostly kind to me, they never regarded me as an authentic priest. I understood their objections. I was able to respect their unwavering position on this. On the other hand, the more Protestant evangelicals in the Episcopal Church found it easier to accept women priests. In fact, I was put forward for ordination by an evangelical parish in Paoli, Pennsylvania. The two priests who helped me discern God’s call on my life were evangelicals who believed the Bible, but interpreted Paul apart from the Fathers and the received Tradition.

Q: In entering the priesthood how did you reconcile what Paul had to say about women not being in the priesthood?

A: The priests who helped me discern a call to ordination were godly men and students of the Bible. They concluded that Paul’s instructions concerning women are prescriptive, that Paul restricted women’s leadership because he wanted order in the early churches that he and other Apostles had labored to plant. At the time this made sense to me. Today, I hold a different view because it seems apparent that Paul’s thoughts on gender are informed by his reading of the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically Genesis, which teaches a permanent binary distinction between male and female. This binary distinction is fixed by God as much as the distinctions of east and west, night and day, and hot and cold. When we ignore the distinctions established by the Creator for our benefit and protection, our thoughts and actions become disordered and we lose our way. Paul’s teaching on women’s roles in the Church is not merely to address a social problem of his day. Paul wanted gender roles to reflect God’s order in creation as a way of honoring the Sovereign Creator and showing forth His glory.

Q: Because the Orthodox and Catholic Churches don’t ordain women is this a Holy tradition or a man made tradition?

A: The male priesthood is a received tradition. It is part of a tradition that the Apostles themselves received, and so it is to be preserved. The priests of Israel were males. It would have been unthinkable for a women to slaughter animals in the temple. As the Gentiles came to faith, the tradition was reinforced by Plato’s theory of Forms. There can be only one true Form of Priest and Jesus Christ is the true Form, eternal before time and eternal priest in time. All other priests are a reflection of the one true Priest, Jesus Christ. The priest standing at the altar is an icon of Jesus Christ. As the priest is an icon of Jesus Christ, it is essential that the one standing at the altar have the male form. Likewise, when we contemplate the Virgin Mary it is essential that we see the female form. Would it make sense in the contemplation of the Theotokos to hold up an icon of St. John or St. Paul? Of course not! So then the priest must have the male form.

Q: How do you see Scripture and Holy Tradition working together about the issue of ordination?

A: The teachings of the Church on the qualifications for ordination are clear both in the Bible and in the Tradition. The two are interwoven and cannot be separated without destroying the cloth. Jesus alluded to this when he spoke of putting new wine in new wine skins and mending a torn garment properly. We are to preserve things. We must avoid foolish actions that result in tearing things apart.

This means that the Church has a responsibility to ordain only those who meet the exacting standard set by God. Unfortunately, church hierarchs sometimes lower the standard to accommodate the weak, or, even worse, to return a favor. The effect is devastating to the Church. The Anglican worldwide Communion is being torn apart because the hierarchs of the Episcopal Church want to make a “pastoral” accommodation to non-celibate homosexuals who seek ordination.

Q: You have written about your 25 years of research of Genesis having an influence in your decision. Tell us what you learned from this research.

A: The Genesis research is not specific to the question of ordination. The focus of the research is anthropological and deals with the kinship pattern of Abraham’s people. Through the research I gained greater understanding of the lives and worldview of the Patriarchs. I discovered that Orthodoxy has great continuity with the faith of the Patriarchs. It has a similar worldview. God is sovereign over all. God has fixed reality and what God has fixed or established is unchanging. Satan seeks to distort our view of reality. He wants us to believe in the unreal. He seeks to delude us so that it is a constant struggle to grow closer to God. Abraham, our Father in faith, understood this struggle. The binding of Isaac tells us that Father Abraham understood that our God demands and deserves our undivided hearts.

Anthropologically, the roots of religion are in the primitive soil of man’s basic experience of and response to earthly phenomena. The Patriarchs made distinctions based on what they observed in nature: hot and cold, night and day, and east and west. The ability to make distinctions was essential for survival. Because humans cannot manipulate or change the order of creation, we must acknowledge a Power greater than ourselves. That Power is the Creator who, in His infinite wisdom, established night and day, the seasons, and the rising and the setting of the sun. The great structures of antiquity were oriented to welcome the rising light (an especially apt allusion for Easter). The layout of the Temple in Jerusalem was arranged taking the path of the sun into account, and the great pyramids of Egypt face east. It is clear that the Patriarchs acknowledged God’s sovereignty over all the earth.

For the Patriarchs boundaries and markers were important, enabling them to determine directions so as not to become lost, and to find hunting grounds, and to mark the boundaries of tribal lands. The directional poles – North, South, East and West - are important in Patriarchal religion, and continue to influence religious thought and practice today. Satan wants us to destroy boundaries because then he can cause us to lose our way. Orthodoxy maintains much of the archaic symbolism that is associated with the Patriarchs. The four doors in the iconostasis is an example.

Also, the eastward orientation of the priest and congregation reflects the most ancient understanding of God, whose emblem for the ancients was the sun. Being properly oriented in worship matters as much as the spiritual posture of our hearts and minds. The kinship pattern of our spiritual Father, Abraham, and of his ancestors revolved around their idea of God’s rule over all the earth as symbolized by the sun’s rising in the east and setting in the west. The only religion that I know of that continues to observe this ancient symbolism is Orthodoxy, with the doors of the iconostasis representing the four directional poles. In this sense, Orthodoxy maintains continuity with the faith of Father Abraham.

This continuity is not so evident in the western Church because the Apostolic tradition came to be read through Scholasticism rather than through the desert Fathers. Orthodoxy has preserved the teachings of the saints and fathers of Egypt, Syria and Palestine. For example, I had never heard of Saint Photini, the Samaritan women at Jacob’s well, until I began exploring Orthodoxy.

Q: What influence did the early Church fathers have in your decision to resign from the priesthood?

A: I refer again to the dream I had in 2000 where I was shown the treasure buried in the foundation. The Church Fathers are part of that treasure and they form a strong foundation for the Church’s teaching. Having said that, I should add that I remain ignorant of the patristic writings. I attended a Lutheran Seminary where the Lutheran Confessions were emphasized over the early Church Fathers. About 6 months ago I began serious study of the patristic writings. I recently finished St. Basil’s tract On the Holy Spirit and found it very profound. I am now reading St. John of Damascus’ On Holy Images. These fathers have opened new horizons before me. Consider how apt for our present conflict are these words of John of Damascus: “I see the Church which God founded on the Apostles and Prophets, its corner-stone being Christ His Son, tossed on an angry sea, beaten by rushing waves, shaken and troubled by the assaults of evil spirits. I see rents in the seamless robe of Christ, which impious men have sought to part asunder, and His body cut into pieces, that is, the word of God and the ancient tradition of the Church.” I am so moved by the writings of these two fathers that I am considering returning to school for a doctorate in the Patristics. I am not certain that this is the way I am to go, so I ask your prayers that my path will be made clear.

Q: What finally made you decide to renounce your ordination?

A: Renouncing my ordination vows was a very difficult decision. I believe that I was a good priest, although always unworthy of the gift. My ministry was well received wherever I served. However, after June 2003, I found myself in a hostile diocese. The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Lexington is a radical revisionist. He was one of the bishops who submitted the original proposal for same sex blessings and he fully supports the homosexual agenda in the Episcopal Church. Our relationship became extremely strained when I wrote him a confidential letter asking him to repent and return to the Truth. From that point forward great pressure was brought on me to resign as Rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Lexington. I resisted until I was given release from the Lord. This came after a night of prayer and fasting the last week of October 2003. As dawn came I heard His voice say: “This Sunday will be your last.”

So I resigned on the Sunday that Gene Robinson was consecrated bishop of New Hampshire. Gene Robinson is the first non-celibate homosexual to become a bishop in the church and as he is a native of Lexington and very popular here, I found myself in deeper waters. I started to receive hate mail, pornographic email, and disturbing phone calls. I eventually sold my small farm and moved. The Lord told me that He would hide me in the cleft of the Rock, and if you could see the place where I now live, you would see that it is a hidden location. I also receive all my mail through a postal box in town.

After I resigned as Rector of St. Andrew’s I was invited to teach an adult class at a local Anglican church. This congregation is under the jurisdiction of the Church of Uganda. When my bishop learned of this he issued an edict of inhibition against me. I tell you this so that you will understand why I at first resisted renouncing my vows. I simply didn’t want to give my bishop the pleasure of thinking that he had defeated me. I was determined that were I to renounce my vows, it would be in the Lord’s time and with a clear conscious. So I began prayerfully to reconsider the question of women and the priesthood until I was satisfied that this too represents a break with the Church’s doctrine and discipline. Once I reached clarity on the matter, I submitted my letter of renunciation. The paperwork was finalized in March of this year. I don’t think that the bishop was very happy with the reason I gave for renouncing my vows. I stated that I no longer believe that women can be priests and that I would seek affiliation with a church that maintained catholic orders.

Q: Why did you decide to leave the Episcopal Church?

A: This is the easiest of your questions to answer. I left for the same reason Noah was to build an ark, or Lot was to leave Sodom, for the Israelites to leave Egypt. The Episcopal Church isn’t a spiritually safe place for orthodox believers.

This is not to say that the Episcopal Church is beyond redemption. Many faithful clergy and laypeople are praying for deliverance from the false shepherds. Many are working hard to salvage something from the wreckage. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in consultation with other Anglican primates, suggests that the Episcopal Church will no longer be a member of the worldwide Communion, but will be regarded instead as an “associate” church with no voting privileges and no official representatives at the Lambeth councils held every 10 years. If Archbishop Rowan Williams fails to censure the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Diocese of New Westminster the schism will widen. The Primates of the Global South, in particular Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria, are already recommending a contingency plan in anticipation of continued false teachings from the North Americans.

Q: You have written that many people have told you how courageous you were to renounce your ordination, yet you say you are a coward. Why?

A: It was cowardly of me not to have renounced my orders sooner than I did. I probably should have done so in 1999 when I first realized that the Episcopal Church was in chaos, but I still had dependent children. I felt that I should stay at least until they were on their feet financially, but by then the Episcopal Church had already approved Gene Robinson’s consecration and matters were quickly going down hill.

Q: We have interviewed several Anglicans who came to the Orthodox Church. They see the pivotal point being when the Anglican Church removed the Book of Common Prayer. Would you agree?

A: When the Episcopal Church established the 1979 prayer book for regular use in the parishes, it accomplished a major overhaul of the historic Anglican way of prayer, a way of prayer that was not unlike the Orthodox way of prayer. The average person in the pew hardly noticed because the new book was misleadingly called the “Book of Common Prayer.” It should have been called a “Book of Alternative Services.” A book of alternative services can be used along with the true Book of Common Prayer, but not in place of it. But again the American Church sought to break new ground by insisting that the new book be the only one used in the parishes. The 1979 prayer book certainly paved the way for the Episcopal Church’s present heresy, especially in its unorthodox baptismal rite, in its Pharisaical focus on social justice, and in the supplanting of Matins as a regular Sunday service of prayer. Today it is rare to find an Episcopal Church that offers Matins before the Divine Liturgy.

Imagine if the Orthodox were told they could no longer pray Orthros. Now add to this a contemporary liturgy required to be used in place of the liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil. Now place a women at the altar posing as a priest. You can see that the continuity of the Faith once delivered has been destroyed.

I agree that the 1979 prayer book was a pivotal point for the Episcopal Church. When the Episcopal Church first imposed the book upon the parishes, Anglo-Catholic parishes refused to use the new book and continued to use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The historic Book of Common Prayer is something most Orthodox would feel fairly comfortable with because Thomas Cranmer’s liturgy is rooted deeply in the liturgy of St. Basil the Great.

Books similar to the 1979 American prayer book are called “Alternative Service Book” and “Book of Alternative Services” in England and Canada, and in both countries the historic Book of Common Prayer has been retained.

Q: The Orthodox Church saw a role for women and ordained women to the diaconate. So if women are deacons the next logical step would be to make them priests, would it not?

A: I do believe that a woman can be a deaconess, ordained to serve the poor and special needs of the church under the direction of the bishop, but without a liturgical role. However, it should not be assumed that because a woman is a deacon that she can be a priest. This is contrary to the Tradition. Many women have modeled the work of the deaconess. Phoebe, Lydia and Dorcus immediately come to mind. It seems to me that in many places the work of the deaconess has been overshadowed by the work of monastics, but that does not mean that there shouldn’t be an order of deaconesses.

Q: Tell us how you discovered Orthodoxy?

A: I discovered the Orthodox Faith at the same time I discovered the Anglican Church. My earliest experiences of both came while I lived in Isfahan, Iran in the late 1970s. There I visited St. Luke’s Anglican Church and also the Armenian Orthodox cathedral in Jolfa. St. Luke’s had an English-speaking congregation comprised mostly of American and British ex-patriots. The Orthodox services were beautiful and moving, but I couldn’t understand a word. So, taking the path of least resistance I ended up an Anglican. The same situation arose when I moved to Athens in 1979. There was an English-speaking ex-patriot church and although I visited the local Greek Orthodox church, I wasn’t able to understand what was being said.

Although I didn’t join the Orthodox Church, I was nevertheless deeply moved by my experiences. I vividly remember the Armenian children’s delight at receiving their Pasca eggs so beautifully decorated. And I remember the white bearded Greek Orthodox priest standing in the street in front of his church with a torch that blazed in the night. He had just lit the new fire and was preparing to carry the Light into the dark church for the Great Easter Vigil.

Q: You have looked at the Catholic and Orthodox Church what were your impressions and why did you choose the Orthodox Church?

A: I have great appreciation for the Roman Catholic Church, although I am not moved by the Post-Vatican II liturgical reforms. I admire the depth of Catholic scholarship, but am troubled by theological arguments designed to reinforce innovative papal claims. It seems to me that the Roman Church has backed itself into a corner. I also sense some arrogance and suspicion of mysticism, yet the western saints that I identify with are mostly mystics: John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Cuthbert and the Hermitess Photini. They were people of humility, and it is their humility that convinces me that they are God’s friends.

I am aware that the Orthodox Church is not perfect, but I find in it a healthy balance of intellect and kenosis, of spiritual strength and humility. It is a church that has suffered persecution, misrepresentation and in places isolation, but the saltiness has been preserved through a lively commitment to theosis. It may be that this liveliness has been sustained by a healthy monasticism. A Christian friend who is a mystic recently visited two monasteries, one right after the other. One was Anglo-Catholic in one of the Episcopal dioceses of Pennsylvania and the other was Romanian Orthodox, also in Pennsylvania. She found the experiences to be as different as night and day and said that she would never return to the Anglo-Catholic monastery because the place seemed spiritually oppressive to her.

Q: How do you react to the de-genderizing of the faith and scripture, eg. Instead of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit some want it referred to as Mother, Child and womb or rock?

A: As I read about this development I was reminded of something St. Anthony of the Desert said that describes our day. He said, “A time is coming when men will go mad, and when they see someone who is not mad, they will attack him saying, ‘You are mad, you are not like us.’”

Q: The Presbyterian Church is moving in this direction and they say it doesn’t change the theology. What is your reaction to this statement?

A: It doesn’t change their theology because it develops out of their theology. This is the new gospel that is sweeping through the liberal mainline denominations. It is not the gospel of Jesus Christ once delivered to the Church. Many will be fooled by this counterfeit gospel, but ultimately falsehood stinks like the rotten fruit it is.


Related reading: Binary Sets in the Ancient World; What is a Priest?; Growing Consensus that WO Must Be Addressed; Blood and Binary Distinctions


Anonymous said...


Thanks for posting this interview. God has given you his grace.

The changes to the liturgy result in changes to the faith. The actual V2 documents did not permit the changes that took place in it's aftermath.

The Mass/Divine liturgy is the marriage of the lamb, where we ascend to heaven in the company of the angels and saints, and Christ, priest and victim.

In respect to the primacy of Peter. I understand that is a major issue that still divides us.

It was at Antioch that we were first called Christians. The letters of Ignatius of Antioch, the third Bishop of Antioch after the Apostle Peter, called himself the successor of Peter in the see of Antioch.

It's true that Liberal RC's have no respect for mysticism or have replaced them with New Age mysticism. The Orthodox circles still have cloistered orders that have not changed their views on this subject.

I would like to share a few things, with you that I think would be important to everybody in this discussion.

Seminarians studying at Maynoot in Ireland wrote about their experiences at Ireland's largest seminary.

"The very first week I entered St. Patrick’s we were told there was “no difference” whatsoever in the various modes of Presence of Christ in the world: the priest, the people, the Word and the Eucharist; all are equal and the same we were continually told, that Christ cannot make Himself more present in one mode than in another.

We were also informed that we were not to kneel for the Consecration during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in St. Mary’s. The Holy Father’s authority was frequently challenged by both staff and seminarians, as indeed was the hierarchical structure of the Church and the lack of “female leadership” in the present structure.

The role of our Blessed Mother in the Church and of private devotions was also frequently challenged and criticized. Almost daily in class one had to endure challenges to the Church’s moral teachings, particularly in relation to homosexuality, contraception, marriage, and on some occasions even abortion.

The role of women in the Church was a frequent topic of discussion, and the need for equality in governing and leading the Church, and this was particularly pushed by a number of Sisters on the staff with a very clear feministic agenda."

Former Communist Herman Fraser noted on the changes that took place after V2.

"Fraser soon realised that a revolution had been unleashed within the Catholic Church itself following the Second Vatican Council. Although Approaches still had the primary aim of promoting lay initiatives, it became clear, increasingly so as time went on, that not only was the authentic social doctrine of the Church under attack from within the Church itself, but also the very tenets of faith and morals."

The reform of the reform is going to bring us back on track, but sadly, it might also result in those raised in pseudo-Catholicism leaving the church.

The battle lines are being drawn.


Alice C. Linsley said...

I have no issue with the primacy of Peter as long as Peter is speaking in a collegial fashion to Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Constantinople.

It is discouraging to read how Modernism has eroded the Church's Tradition in Ireland. The same story could be told about RC seminaries here in the USA. I considered Rome, but after fighting in the Anglican wars I didn't have the energy to enter another church where I would have to defend Holy Tradition. I see now that Orthodoxy will have to fight this battle also. You are right that the battle lines are drawn.

As I've written, Holy Tradition is about the promise of the coming of the Son of God and His appearing in the flesh. His resurrection was the definitive proof that Jesus was indeed the promised Seed of the Woman (Gen. 3:15). As we are ransomed by His blood, our hearts owe allegience to Him alone. Many "Christians" have divided allegience. We are to pray for them. It will not go well for them on the Last Day.

God bless you, Savvy.

Anonymous said...


I would say that the office of the Papacy is the only thing that's preventing my church from going the way of the Anglicans.

The Anglicans in the Ordinariate will have some refuge from these things.

How big is the problem in Orthodoxy? I don't think it comes close to what we have.


Alice C. Linsley said...

The Orthodox don't like innovation. When you hear an Orthodox person entertaining innovation you can be fairly sure that individual is a recent convert or someone who knows Orthodoxy only from textbooks.

Anonymous said...


I have a question. I was told that menstruating women in the Orthodox church are not allowed to receive communion. Is this true?


Timothy said...

Sadly, I believe it depends. The OCA has explicitly condemned this as nonsense, if I recall. But, that is not always the case. See

Anonymous said...


Thanks for this info. I always thought that Jesus referred to the purity of the heart, over these things.


Lisa said...

Savvy: In my very limited understanding of Orthodoxy, the line between THE Tradition and little t folkloric tradition is often tough to discern. I'd put this in the folkloric superstition category.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The "churching" of women after childbirth was the custom in Orthodoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Anglicanism and is rooted in the Tradition from which our Christian Faith emerged. Today ONLY Orthodoxy observes this ceremony. It is not about impurity, but about maintaining the distinction between life-giving blood and life-taking blood. In the Tradition "life is in the blood." Therefore all blood that is shed must be accounted for/recognized. This ultimately points us to His Blood which gives eternal life to those who receive Him and eternal separation from Life to those who reject Him. The binary distinction concerning Blood asre still very much a part of Christian Tradition. When we attempt to dismiss them, we end up with confusion about the boundaries which God has established for our benefit. Read this:

and this:

Timothy said...

I have no problem with the historical "churching of women" in the church. Its very Anglican too, but like lots of good Anglican history and practice, traded in for a mess of porridge.

I posted under Lisa last night (I thought I was signed in when it was my wife). But the churching of women is a straw man argument for saying women cannot commune during their menses. I wish I book marked the site, but the OCA source I read saw this as an affront to the gospel. I'm inclined to agree. I agree 100% that a man needs to preside, as he is in the place of Christ. But a women not being able to partake because she is a woman? She must be outside the camp and forgo the nourishment of her soul one week a month? That makes me sad.

Alice C. Linsley said...

The question of absense from church during menses is a very personal decision, and in many cases culturally conditioned. The churching of women after childbirth is a very special celebration of life and should be observed.

Savia said...

Thanks Alice.

A friend told me that barring women from the priesthood, comes from the same idea that women were barred during menses and considered impure.

He thinks the church is too concerned with plumbing or what sex organs we have.

I did tell him that a woman did not die on the cross. This was to make the distinction between bloods.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Alice.

A friend told me that barring women from the priesthood, comes from the same idea that women were barred during menses and considered impure.

He thinks the church is too concerned with plumbing or what sex organs we have.

I did tell him that a woman did not die on the cross. This was to make the distinction between bloods.


Alice C. Linsley said...

Blood can both pollute (make impure) and purify. It can bring justification or judgment. The Scriptures speak of being washed in the Blood of Christ to be made pure. And God tells us that though our sins be as scarlet, He will make us white as snow.

It is in maintaining the binary distinction between blood shed by men and blood shed by women that we find our way to the Cross. Meaning is perceived by the relationship of the two, and that meaning, if properly interpreted, always point to the Life-giving and purifying blood of Jesus Christ.

Timothy said...

I found the sources I had mentioned in a previous post. See:

Alice C. Linsley said...

Thanks, Timothy. It is a fascinating article.

Simply because primitive societies and pagan religions observed blood distinctions doesn't mean that Christianity shouldn't. This observation is extemely ancient and precedes paganism of ancient Greece and Rome.

To express this another way: Should a man splattered with blood from hunting enter the church or kiss the icons in that condition?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that article Timothy.


Anonymous said...


Men are not fighting to be nuns. I have no idea why women are fighting to be priests.

The work of atoning for sin and death is not greater than being married to Jesus Christ.

In the RC tradition. A Nun is forever married to Christ.


Anonymous said...

"To express this another way: Should a man splattered with blood from hunting enter the church or kiss the icons in that condition?"

I understand the reason for this distinction, but Jesus said it was the desires of the heart that made us impure.