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Re: Wondering about Orthodoxy

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August 01, 2003 04:47PM
Thanks, James. I hope that my responses are received in a spirit of collegiality. I mean no disrespect to believers of any tradition and hope my comments and questions are constructive.

Orthodoxy claims to be the one true church, and there are aspects of Orthodoxy that I do find appealing. Catholicism claims to be the one church as well. Who to believe?

Let me ask a specific question.

It seems a huge issue for both Catholics and Orthodox is that of apostolic succession. Many of the early fathers used the succession of bishops to bolster the authority and authenticity of the church. That is not in dispute.

But there are specific guidelines in the New Testament for how an "overseer" is to be selected, particularly in the Pastoral Epistles. He is to be blameless, the husband of one wife, able to teach, not a new convert, not a drunkard, and other things. This, I think we can all agree qualifies as "apostolic" teaching. Church leaders are to be selected carefully.

However In both Catholicism and Orthodoxy, men have been found in the "succession" of bishops who seem to not meet these requirements. Often in the east and west, it appears the selection of bishops was heavily influenced by entanglement with the state, with concerns over wealth and power and other worldly influences. One thinks of several of the medieval popes for example. In the Orthodox tradition, one thinks of the influence of the KGB in the Russian church hierarchy and for that matter, it seems even Photius ascended to his position in hurried fashion and under somewhat disputed circumstances, depending on whose accounts one reads.

The question is this: how can succession be deemed "apostolic" if those who are chosen to succeed a particular bishop does not meet the requirements clearly laid out in scripture, which is unquestionably the teaching of the apostles?

Would it not be sensible to say that if a bishop is not selected according to the clear guidelines of the infallible written record of the apostles teaching, then his succession is not legitimate, regardless of what the fallible oral tradition might teach? It seems to me that the "unbroken line" of succession has been broken many times. To be honest, this is one of maybe the top three reasons I remain a Protestant.

I would also have much trouble saying that "where the church is" is ONLY in the East, as if the work of the Holy Spirit in changing lives accross the globe through imperfect but powerful means through protestant missions, Catholic hospitals, and other Christ honoring movements and persons is to be dismissed as irrelevant because it was not connected to a particular lineage. Did not Christ rebuke the pharisees for thinking that their heritage was all that mattered?

I would again propose, with apologies to both Thomas Oden and Vincent of Lerins, that what has been believed "always, everywhere and by all" might include the core beliefs of not only faithful Orthodox and Catholics over the centuries, but also of Protestants who have affirmed the truths found in those councils and creeds that were truly universal. Again my desire is not to disparage Orthodoxy or Catholicism, but to seek the essentials, find unity, and hold more loosely to the baggage each tradition may have accumulated. I see value in the fathers, but danger in elevating tradition above scripture.
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Wondering about Orthodoxy

Theophilus July 06, 2003 08:48PM

Re: Wondering about Orthodoxy

Robert July 08, 2003 08:03AM

Re: Wondering about Orthodoxy

Theophilus July 08, 2003 04:46PM

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Dan Sullivan July 21, 2003 05:13PM

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Theophilus July 28, 2003 12:07PM

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James July 28, 2003 05:41PM

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Dan Sullivan July 28, 2003 06:35PM

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James August 01, 2003 03:37PM

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Dan Sullivan August 01, 2003 04:47PM

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Dan Sullivan August 24, 2003 01:44PM

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Dan Sullivan August 24, 2003 01:18PM

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James August 30, 2003 01:35PM

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James September 01, 2003 06:07AM

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Dan Sullivan September 01, 2003 02:13PM

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JERRY September 09, 2003 09:40AM

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JERRY September 10, 2003 09:39AM

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JERRY September 11, 2003 01:05AM

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jerry September 12, 2003 01:27AM

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jerry September 12, 2003 01:27AM

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Radiant January 09, 2007 12:16AM

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Ephraim August 21, 2003 06:23PM

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Gordius Ignatius March 21, 2004 09:04AM

wondering about orthodoxy

tom September 24, 2004 02:41AM

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Boricua_Orthodox May 30, 2004 05:43AM