On the Ecumenical Councils

For years after I became actively involved in Christianity again, I had developed a misunderstanding of the nature of the Ecumenical Councils. Part of this can likely be attributed to the influence that conservative Catholics had on my formation at this time. My error was in believing that the role of the Ecumenical Council was to develop new doctrines. To be sure, these doctrines had to flow naturally (whatever that means) from previously held doctrines, but these were new developments. Other Western groups had a more severe understanding, and felt that by and large the councils had the job of creating entirely novel doctrines in many cases. Some groups might accept the doctrine of the divinity of Christ as having been correctly developed, but much else was just erroneous (most notably the proclamations about icons).

It wasn’t until I was becoming Orthodox, and maybe not until after, that I understood that the role of the Ecumenical Council was not to develop anything. Instead, their job was to proclaim with one voice that which had been passed down from the Apostles. Generally, these councils were called to address new “developments” and bring an end to them, not to create them.

This morning, I received the following quote from the Church Fathers Yahoo group, which makes the point nicely:

”…the following remark of Father Florovsky has much to commend it: ‘It will be no exaggeration
to suggest that [Oecumenical] Councils were never regarded as a canonical institution, but rather
as occasional ‘charismatic events.’  That is to say, ‘under the guidance of the Holy Spirit they
have witnessed to the Truth, in conformity with the Scripture as handed down in Apostolic
Tradition.’  What makes them authoritative is that they both ‘bear witness to’ and ‘defend the
truth;’ they do not so much define as express the truth.  This they could not have done without
the antecedent labors of the Fathers, who themselves testified to the same truth that was revealed
to the Prophets and the Apostles.  

Father James Thornton, The Oecumenical Synods of the Orthodox Church, Center for
Traditionalist Orthodox Studies, Etna, CA, 2007, p. 18.”

The Great and Fearful Judgement Seat

This Sunday past provides for an interesting challenge for priests. It has two different names, seemingly focused on two different and unrelated things. The first is meat fare, or the last day we can eat meat until Pascha. The second is the Sunday of the last Judgement. Clever homilists see the connection between the two, as our new pastor did this last weekend. I’m not going to reiterate that sermon, especially as he utilized visuals that I can’t reproduce so well within this blog. As I sit here, near the beginning of Great Lent, thoughts of the last judgement come to mind. I suspect that is why the Church established the Sunday of the Last Judgement – as we enter into our preparations for the annual commemoration of the Resurrection, we should be considering what will happen when it is our turn.

It is common in our culture to spend the end of the calendar year reflecting on the preceding year. However, in the midst of feasting, and with feasting in front of us for a while, I find it difficult to focus on proper reflection. I think that the beginning of the Lenten Triodion is a much superior time. The tenor of the services for the next six weeks will be very penitential, followed by the bridegroom services of Holy Week, which will force us to consider whether we are ready for the Bridegroom, the Great Judge, to come.

As I look over the past year, I am amazed at the opportunities that presented themselves, and how I managed to pass up on most of them. These opportunities, of course, were both positive and negative. On the positive side, we had a truly phenomenal interim pastor, who offered a great number of services and classes. Although I tried to avail myself of as many of the services as possible, I certainly did not expend enough effort to just be in his presence and hear what he had to say. Even with the services, I do not believe I really made the effort to be prayerful. If anything, over the last year, I have spent less time in prayer than I should have. While it is always the case that one should spend more time in prayer, when challenging times arrive it is even more important to do so.

With the fast upon us, of course, I must also look at my progress in overcoming the passions. After a broken leg at the end of 2010, and with plenty of time off after the layoffs at work, I had a perfect opportunity to focus time and energy on managing my diet, losing weight, and exercising. Unfortunately, I did none of these. As a result, I am on a protracted recovery from stress fractures that are keeping me off of my trike for probably 3 months. What foolishness!

So now the annual great opportunity is upon us (I think that should be my new name for Lent.). I pray that I utilize this time to get focused on the right priorities.

Smells and Bells

A friend was recently discussing a man who had a spiritual experience which resulted in his becoming Orthodox. She said she was still waiting for her children to have such an experience. She has very fine children – all of whom are Orthodox – but in her opinion, they have not all really embraced their Orthodoxy. That may be true, but my point in relating this is that I have similar concerns about my children, and many of us have a similar question about the youth at our parish and throughout the Church.

Typically the response to this concern is to immediately start developing programs that will keep the kids affiliated with the Church. Not necessarily make them deepen their Orthodoxy, but that is a different topic. The quest is to try to make the bells go off for them – to generate the spiritual experience. I do think that their is value in this, especially with children whose parents are functionally not Orthodox ( the ones who drop the children off for Sunday school on their way to Starbucks). However, for those whose parents strive to lead an Orthodox life, I think perhaps we need to be more concerned with smells rather than bells.

Fr. Josiah Trenham in one of his talks on the Divine Liturgy, told the story of an Elder to whom a certain priest wanted to speak. The Elder refused to speak to the priest because “he smelled.”. The smell was not a physical smell, but the stench of some grave sin. At that point nobody knew about the sin, but the Elder clearly perceived it. Ultimately, the priest was defrocked. Of course, there are many other similar stories throughout the history of the Church. Similarly, there are numerous stories about these who are more spiritually developed perceiving holiness, the presence of angels, and the like. Young children, interestingly, seem to have the same ability to perceive reality. It is only over time that this capability seems to wane.

I suspect that it is this ability, or the residual ability in older children, that stands at the heart of the challenge to develop children into strong Christians. If their parents, as well as other adults involved in their formation, do not carry the sweet smell of a righteous life, but rather carry, perhaps not the stench of some grave sin, but even so much as the bad smell of a life lived too enthralled to the passions, or perhaps just a bit too hypocritically.

So, while there is much to be said for developing strong programs for our youth, the first place we need to look is to ourselves. Perhaps the person in need of a spiritual experience is us, not our children.


Reading the Old Testament

One of great things about becoming part of the Orthodox Church has been learning how the early Church read the Old Testament. During my time in Protestant Bible Studies, there were typically two approaches used to read the Old Testament. One either read the Old Testament by itself, to see what things you could learn from it, or one read it to gain insights into the New Testament. Typically, both were used, and they seem reasonable.

Interestingly, though, the Church never approached the Old Testament in that manner. The Old Testament, instead, is filled with “types” pointing to Christ and our ultimate salvation. This was brought to mind yesterday when flipping the channel and I ran across Joyce Meyer. Now, I realize that she is not well received among all Protestants, and she has more serious issues in her preaching than this one -but I think her prosperity gospel approach to things may be fed, to some extent, by her lack of understanding about how to read the Old Testament.

In the course of her talk, she referred to Moses and the parting of the Red Sea. She stated (I’m paraphrasing a bit here) that she didn’t know why God asked Moses to stretch his arms out over the Red Sea to help part it. She stated that it was an act of faith on Moses’ part, but that there was no purpose other than that.

Unfortunately, she is unfamiliar with the way the Church read the Old Testament. God did not ask Moses to do it as an act of faith, but rather that we might see the saving power of the cross. We know this from the first Katavasia of the Holy Cross:

Inscribing the invincible weapon of the Cross upon the waters,

Moses marked a straight line before him with his staff and divided the Red Sea,

opening a path for Israel who went over dry-shod.

Then he marked a second line across the waters and united them in one,

overwhelming the chariots of Pharaoh.

Therefore let us sing to Christ our God,

for He hath been glorified.

If she read the rest of the Old Testament in light of the New, as the Church does, I think she would have a different theology than what she has developed.

Discerning the Will of God

Recently, especially since the layoffs at work, I’ve been more concerned than usual about discerning God’s will. That in itself is problematic – I should have been more concerned about God’s will long before that, but that’s a different discussion for a different day. What I’m concerned with is how do we know what God’s will is for any given situation? Most people I know who consider themselves Christian, and who take this seriously, are concerned about the same.

Typically, the standard response is pray, and God will reveal his will to you. That is sound advice. Decisions taken without thought to prayer are likely misguided. Orthodox elders will tell you the same. An Abbess at a skete in northern California related the need for prayer in a talk she gave on this subject. However, that really only addresses the asking of God. How is it that I am supposed to hear Him? Mother Dorothea continues and shares the wisdom of various Orthodox saints and elders on that topic.

Before getting to that, though, I think it worth pondering a couple of stories in Scripture that relate to hearing and speaking with God. These stories provide the backdrop, really, to the counsel we hear from the spiritual giants of Christianity. The first is the famous story of Elijah and the “still small voice”. While God is powerful and creates the winds, and causes the earthquakes, etc., He is not in those. Rather, He comes in a still, small, voice. How, then, can we hear God when our lives are filled with noise, and activity, and even more importantly, the maelstrom that is our passions. Blown this way and that by our desires and our will, how can we stand still long enough to even be aware of God? Mother Xenia cites St. Pimen the Great who said that our will is like a wall of brass that stands between us and God. She then quotes, at length, St. Silouan as to the need for great humility to submit our will to God. So, not only can we not hear God, it may be as much that we truly don’t want to. For to do so, requires humility.

The second story is that of Moses bringing the Israelites before God in the wilderness. In order for them to even come near to God (and at that not very near), they must prepare. Moses is required to sanctify them. They must wash their clothes, and abstain from women. They must purify themselves. In the New Testament, we see the Apostles fasting and praying prior to great undertakings, just like the Israelites.

Mother Xenia says the following: “Arguing and judging come from pride, and pride immediately cuts us off from remembrance of and communion with God. St. Silouan said, ‘A cloud blows over and hides the sun, making everything dark. In the same way, one prideful thought causes the soul to lose grace, and she is left in darkness. But, equally, a single impulse of humility—and grace returns. This I have experienced and proved in myself.’” The Church has always taught that the ascetical practices of prayer, and fasting help us to learn humility and to not allow pride and our desires to rule our lives. The purpose, then, of these practices is to allow us to draw nearer to God. It is only then that we can hear that still, small voice.

The Church has also directed us to seek the counsel of a spiritual father, someone who has spent much time growing closer to God. The reason for that is all of what is stated above. These individuals have humbled themselves (one has to go find a spiritual father, they don’t advertise, that’s why St. Theophan was known as the recluse), and by that humility, they allow themselves to hear that still, small voice. Thankfully such people exist, to help keep us from the delusion of our pride.

This is a great wake up call for me.

Why We Worship the Way We Do

Orthodox are known for not changing much. The most modern hymn that I can think of that we ever do is around 100 years old. The oldest go back so far, that I’m not sure anyone is really certain of the age. Our worship service, itself, has undergone very little change over the last 2000 years. If a Christian in the second century were to wander into our Church, except for his inability to understand the English portions of the service (or Slavonic if he were to go to a Russian parish), I think his only comment would be to wonder how come we’ve made it so short (Orthros through Liturgy on a Sunday morning is, at best 2 1/2 hours, vs. all night which used to be the case in the early days of the Church).

I found a great article at a parish in Arizona, that explains the Orthodox understanding of what Worship is supposed to be about. I only would like to add a few thoughts to the great information there. There is one element of worship, arguably a less important element, so I can understand why Dr. DeVyver didn’t really address it. That is the element of Catechesis. Although not so much the case within the Divine Liturgy, there is a strong element of Catechesis in some of the other services, most notably that of Orthros. Although the structure is largely the same from day to day and week to week (Sunday Orthros is longer, as it has a predominant focus on the Resurrection, and additional hymns were developed for that), the text of many of the hymns change in order to express teaching about the Saints or feast being celebrated on that given day.

The wealth of teaching in these services is not to be missed. Unfortunately, in this day and age, most Orthodox do miss Orthros, and thus miss the edification that comes from this service. Given the lack of knowledge of the faith among the Orthodox laity as witnessed by recent surveys, one part of the solution would certainly be attending and listening to the hymns and readings of Orthros. I only hope to see more priests pushing this among their flock.

So what?

Okay, now that I’ve stressed the need to teach our children about the Incarnation, how the Incarnation figures so prominently in Orthodox theology, and that its unfortunate that it doesn’t figure so prominently in other Christian groups, the question remains, “so what?” Yes, we can see from the hymnography of the Orthodox church that the Incarnation is very important, but why is that? That isn’t made clear at the feast of the Nativity. However, everything in Orthodoxy is connected, in particular to Pascha. In that feast, the ultimate meaning of everything is revealed. However, shortly after the feast of the Nativity is one of the other great feasts of the Church. This feast is so closely connected to the Nativity that they used to be the same feast. Even now, the hymns of Theophany begin not very long after the feast of the Nativity, and Theophany is foretold in some hymns of the Nativity.

Although there is a lot of very deep theology associated with Theophany, there is something that we see with one of the activities associated with Theophany that speaks, I think, to the one aspect of the Incarnation. At Theophany we perform the Blessing of the Waters. In this, we celebrate the Baptism of Christ, and the fact that by his act, he sanctified the waters – all of the waters, not just the River Jordan (which experiences an annual reversal of flow during the Theophany Blessing of the Water). Every year, we repeat this process through the Blessing of the Waters. At Christ’s Baptism, therefore, we see the beginning of the restoration of creation. It starts with the sanctification of the water, and ends, at Pascha, with our own restoration.

This then, points us to what is important about the Incarnation. Christ takes on human nature to heal and restore it, and begin the restoration of all of creation. In fact, it is the teaching of the Church that this assumption of humanity is absolutely necessary in order to heal our humanity. As St. Gregory Nazianzus’ famously said, “that which is not assumed is not healed.” This restoration of creation is then seen throughout the life of the church, most notably with our many incorrupt Saints, such as St. John Maximovitch, or St. Athanasios, for instance. We act on this, but treating holy objects with profound reverence, in part because we know that God has begun the process of the restoration of all.

The Incarnation is the Reason for the Season

November 21st, 2010

I’m sitting here on a Sunday morning during the Nativity Fast, getting the book cart ready for business. Up on the stage in the hall, the Sunday School children are preparing for the annual Christmas pageant and practicing carols. Unfortunately, that is not where they should be, nor is it what they should be doing.

Today is one of the 12 feasts of the Church. As such, the children should be in class (or in the Church for a sermon), learning about the feast. In most parishes, this would be the case, thankfully, but for those that are most interested in looking like Western churches, this time is spent learning predominantly Protestant carols in preparation for the annual Christmas pageant.

So, what could possibly be wrong with Protestant/Western Christmas carols? Many (especially the older ones) range from simply cheerful to majestic. The lyrics are generally devoid of theological error. Of course, I’m not talking about Rudolph or Frosty, but rather O Come All Ye Faithful, and What Child is This.

A couple of years ago, 9.West blogged on the subject of Protestant Christmas carols. He was responding to an episode of Issues, etc., that found fault with many Christmas carols for not focusing sufficiently on the cross. At the time, I responded with a criticism that Protestant, and, in particular, Lutheran, theology is too focused on the cross. As a result, their understanding of other aspects of God, and His relationship with us, have become atrophied. My focus was on the resurrection, but as I sat there listening to the Protestant carols, I realized another aspect of Protestant theology which was weak, and this weakness is the reason I have a problem with spending time teaching Orthodox children Protestant carols. This is especially true when this time is spent during time that would otherwise be devoted to teaching them about Orthodoxy. Protestant carols generally do a bad job of expressing the incarnation. Frequently it isn’t mentioned, and when it is, no attempt is made to engage the mystery of the incarnation at any level.

Let’s look at some of the hymns the kids were practicing the morning that I first started working on this entry. The selection of carols is “O Come All Ye Faithful,” then there is “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “Little Drummer Boy”, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “The First Noel”, and “Angels We Have Heard on High”. There is one question I think we should ask in two different ways. The question is, “is there anything about singing this that would cause an Arian to feel he has gone against his faith?”. The two ways in which this should be asked is first with regard to the first verse (which is pretty much all that will be sung at this pageant), and secondly with regard to the entire carol.

For Silent Night, I’m not sure anything, anywhere in the song demands an understanding that we’re discussing God when we’re discussing Jesus. The closest might be the third verse, but that really doesn’t pass muster. For Joy to the World, the Little Drummer Boy, Angels We Heave Heard on High (one of my all time favorites, I’ll add), and The First Noel, you have the same problem. Again, the last verse of The First Noel can be argued, but its not terribly clear. O Little Town of Bethlehem gets pretty close, if you’re willing to wait until the last verse. The phrase, “o come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel” makes it relatively clear that this song might be addressed to God. Which is good for the song, but in the children’s case, they won’t learn this verse because they never go that far. Hark, the Herald Angels Sing hits the nail right on the head, no question about it, in the second verse, “Offspring of a Virgin’s womb, veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity.” Finally, after all of these carols, we get to one which unambiguously proclaims the incarnation, which is, after all, the point of the holiday.

Compare this to a couple of Orthodox hymns, or carols from Orthodox countries:

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
hath shone forth the light of wisdom upon the world;
for therein those who worship the stars
have been taught by a star
to worship Thee, the Sun of Righteousness,
and to know Thee, the Dayspring from on


O Lord, glory be to Thee! (Troparion of the Nativity, Tone 4)

Today the Virgin giveth birth to the Transcendent One,
and the earth offereth a cave to the Unapproachable One.
Angels with shepherds give glory,
the magi journey with a star,
for our sakes, a young Child is born, Who is Pre-eternal God! (Kontakion of the Nativity, Tone 3).

One of my favorites, from the Royal Hours on Christmas Eve:

Today He Who holds the whole creation in His hand is born of a Virgin.
He Whose essence none can touch is bound in swaddling-clothes as a
mortal man.
God, Who in the beginning fashioned the heavens, lies in a manger.
He who rained manna on His people in the wilderness is fed on milk from
His mother’s breast.
The Bridegroom of the Church summons the wise men;
the Son of the Virgin accepts their gifts.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
We worship Your birth, O Christ.
Show us also Your Holy Theophany!

Finally, the following, a traditional Greek carol:

Good evening noblemen,
may i sing at your mansion,
this day celebrating Jesus’ holy birth,

that Jesus is being born today
in the town of Bethlehem
The skies rejoice
the whole nature is happy

In the cave he is being born
in the horses’ trough
the king of the skies
and maker of everything

Again, I don’t have anything against Protestant/Western Christmas carols. Many are very pretty, and I’m sure they serve Protestant/Western theology just fine. However, the Orthodox think the Incarnation is extremely important, hence our hymnography. As Orthodox, I don’t think we should be wasting the limited amount of time available to us to instruct our youth in the Orthodox faith with hymns that are not designed to do that at all.


Attitude Toward the Ancient Church

Virtually all religious groups that align themselves with Christianity make claims about their connection to the early Church. These claims can generally be divided into types – those that claim continuation with the early Church, and those who claim to be restoring the faith to it’s early roots.

The first question is, what is meant by the early roots. Almost always this refers to the Church of the New Testament era, and generally not a day later. Some have asserted that the Church began to fall away almost immediately after the death of St. John the Evangelist. The Anglican Church, however, has tended to make the argument that the Church continued on for a period after the repose of St. John, but later fell into error. More recently, I’ve seen writings by modern groups (most notably Reformed Baptists) that seem to imply that they, too, see the Fathers of the post-apostolic age as continuing on in the doctrine to which these groups adhere. The one thing that all of these groups have in common is that doctrine is the entire definition of the Church. That is, any group holding to the same doctrines as the early Church, are thereby members of that same Church.

Of course, “holding to the same doctrines” is a bit of a tricky question. One has to determine what those doctrines are. To some, all doctrines are contained within the covers of their 66 book Bible. Others, as I mentioned, believe that these doctrines are contained both in Scripture and in the writings of the early Church. There is little effective difference between these two views. In both cases, one needs to come to the text with an interpretive framework that helps you understand the text, and deal with those parts which are either unclear or appear to be contradictory. In both cases, as well, there is no foundation in either Scripture or the writings of the Fathers to hold to the belief. St. Paul, himself, clearly refers to teachings that are not contained solely in his letters, but that were transmitted orally. These teachings are part of the παραδοσισ of the Church. The word, often translated as tradition, refers to that which is handed down. So, the teachings of the Church are part of a larger body of knowledge that has been transmitted, or handed down, throughout the history of the Church. Yes, this includes Scripture, and the Church Fathers, but it also includes the prayers, the hymns, and also an oral tradition.

However, the Church has a much different view of itself. We find that view in St. Paul’s epistles, where the Church is described as the very body of Christ. This is not simply some rhetorical device, its a statement of fact. There is an organic wholeness to the Church. It is certainly the case that holding the same beliefs is a key component to what unites us, but there is also something more. That something more is Baptism and Chrismation. It is through this mystery (the two are done together in the ancient Church, and Orthodoxy has preserved this), that we are united to Christ, and therefore united to the Church. In the traditional forms of the Baptism service, either the Godparent or the new member are asked to state three times that they unite themselves to Christ. This, then, points to another aspect of being united to the Church. It is through our will (or those appointed to speak for us), and therefore we must have the capacity to depart as well. Historically, this, of course, has happened, and the Church has had to decide how to bring those who have left back in, if they so desire. Frequently, this is through Chrismation, as the Church has always been very concerned to not baptize anyone more than once.

So, the only way to be truly connected to the early Church is doctrinally and temporally – that is, being physically and spiritually part of that body which has existed since Christ established it. Realistically, any other approach is simply man made.


The Beatitudes

On an Evangelical but seeking blog that I follow, the topic came up recently about how to interpret the Beatitudes. This, like many sections of the New Testament, is hard for Protestants, especially Evangelicals, to deal with as they eschew anything that smacks of a works salvation. The blogger asserted that what Christ is saying is that anyone can come and receive Christ’s blessings, regardless of their state and how society views them. He says that the other way to phrase what Christ is saying is, “even if you are poor, come and receive my blessing, even if your mourn…” etc. The weakness in this argument is Christ is clearly not, then, saying “even if you are merciful come” as if being merciful is a bad thing, or even viewed as being bad by society.

So, I decided to look at what the Fathers of the Church have to say about the Beatitudes, and found that St. John Chrysostom interprets the first beatitude in this manner:

“What is meant by “the poor in spirit?” The humble and contrite in mind. For by “spirit” He hath here designated the soul, and the faculty of choice. That is, since many are humble not willingly, but compelled by stress of circumstances; letting these pass (for this were no matter of praise), He blesses them first, who by choice humble and contract themselves.

But why said he not, “the humble,” but rather “the poor?” Because this is more than that. For He means here them who are awestruck, and tremble at the commandments of God. Whom also by His prophet Isaiah God earnestly accepting said, “To whom will I look, but to him who is meek and quiet, and trembleth at My words?” For indeed there are many kinds of humility: one is humble in his own measure, another with all excess of lowliness. It is this last lowliness of mind which that blessed prophet commends, picturing to us the temper that is not merely subdued, but utterly broken, when he saith, “The sacrifice for God is a contrite spirit, a contrite and an humble heart God will not despise.” [Psalm 50 (51):7] And the Three Children also offer this unto God as a great sacrifice, saying, “Nevertheless, in a contrite soul, and in a spirit of lowliness, may we be accepted.” This Christ also now blesses.”


The blogger went on to assert that the parallel passage in St. Luke’s Gospel supports his view. It supports it more, because that passage lacks the “blessed are the merciful, etc.” verses, but it in no way demands his interpretation. I decided to check Blessed Theophylact and discovered that his interpretation of the parallel passage is in agreement (as I expected it would) with St. John’s interpretation of Matthew:


“These words of the Lord are directed to the disciples. After ordaining them, the Lord uses these beatitudes and teachings to guide them into a more spiritual life. He first blesses the poor, whom you may understand to mean either those who are humble or those who live without greed for money. Simply put, all the beatitudes teach us lowliness, humility, self-effacement, and self-reproach. And accordingly woe awaits those who are rich and propserous now, in this life, those who the Lord says have received their consolation, meaning that in this life they have enjoyed revelry, laughter, feasting, and the praise of men. Let us tremble, brothers, to hear that Woe! awaits those who are praised by men. First we ought to live such a life that will draw down upon us the praise of God, and then others will indeed speak well of us.”


This view of the Beatitudes finds support throughout Scripture, but there are a couple of places that merit pointing out. The first is the 50th psalm (51st in Western numbering), where we learn that “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart— These, O God, You will not despise.” In the 108th Psalm (109 in the Western numbering), we see King David, ruler of Judea refer to himself being “poor and needy,” and that he is weak from fasting. Clearly King David was not really poor, but rather this reflected a state of mind and spirit he had acquired. That his action was involved is clear from the fact that fasting is involved in all of this (among other things).

So, the Orthodox understanding is clearly that we must humble ourselves – make ourselves lowly, in order to be blessed by God. This interpretation agrees with all of Scripture. I fear that the blogger in question is guilty of looking for an interpretation that fit his preconceived theology, then forced it into the text.