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Re: Wondering about Orthodoxy

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August 30, 2003 04:47PM
Let me say first of all that I am glad to have dialog. I mean no disrespect and hope this is all constructive. I mean only to find what is essential.

I do not mean to "sit in judgment" on the church. But there is a fundamental difference of opinion, it seems, between east and west on the place of individual understanding in coming to faith. It seems so many Orthodox apologists attempt to say that if evangelicals do something as arrogant as to simply "think", that they are presuming to be their own Pope and "sit in judgment" on the Church, which they define as Orthodoxy, take it or leave it.

First of all, that tactic is often used by "faith teachers" to prevent anyone from questioning them. They have accused folks like me of "resisting the spirit" because I question their teachings. It is an easy way of asserting superiority and silencing opposing views. Perhaps you didn't mean it quite this way, but you seem to be suggesting that I am out of place for not accepting Orthodoxy blindly and audaciously suggesting that all branches of Christendom are full of both wheat and tares, sheep and goats, essential truth and non-essential baggage.

But this all misses the point. There simply is no way to accept the truth without evaluating it and determining if it IS truth. Yes, the whole community can and has affirmed common beliefs, but the community is made up of individuals. You came to Orthodoxy after seeking answers. reading, praying, talking to others and in time you made a decision. You "sat in judgment" and judged Orthodoxy to be true. Why must I be accused of "sitting in judgment" on the church by doing the same and coming to somewhat different conclusions? I would simply suggest that it seems the church is all who accept those creeds defined by councils that were truly universal and maybe we need to restart the process of seeking consensus on issues that still divide. You and I do not disagree on anything in the creeds except possibly the definition of "apostolic".

Now to the specifics, I would say Protestantism is in disarray for many of the same reasons you would, that we have lost a sense of history. We tend to think newer is better and as a result of some excesses in Catholicism, we think that older is necessarily Pharisaical.

I believe both Orthodox and Protestant thinkers have pointed out that modernism and rationalism have found a way to infiltrate Protestantism in two opposite ways.
Now we face a postmodern viewpoint where experience determines truth. Once again the protestant church is influenced. Experientialism and emotionalism seem to be the rage. I must say I tend to think some who embrace the mystical elements of Orthodoxy or Catholicism are doing so for similar "anti-rational" reasons.

But back to Orthodoxy, briefly. This thread began with a discussion of apostolic succession, which I am still evaluating. That should not be seen as outright rejection of the notion. I see merits and a lot of history. But I do have serious questions about whether succession as it is understood now is exactly what the early church had in mind. For example, was succession the means of preserving the faith or was succession the evidence of faith preserved? In other words, did the fathers speak of succession for the sake of succession or because they were simply arguing that the faith itself had been preserved and using the testimony of successive bishops as evidence? Were they simply arguing for the faith or formulating a doctrine of succession? I will continue to study this.

As for Orthodoxy negotiating with Protestantism, two brief points.

One, Vincent's canon seems to suggest that the true faith is what was believed "always, everywhere and by all". That would seem to imply that the councils which produced the creeds were discussions, if not "negotiations". The fathers did not all agree on everything and consensus had to be forged with much study, prayer, searching of the scriptures, debate and in some cases considerable passion. I am merely suggesting that process be continued, or resumed, if you will, but including those in both east and west who have not abandoned the essentials that were universally accepted. I in no way mean democracy. I mean forging consensus where there is as much unanimity as possible.

Two, if the credo truly is "always, everywhere and by all", there are additional questions to raise. It seems in Orthodoxy, as well as Catholicism, the liturgies "developed" over time. In the early church the liturgies were simple, in later times they became more involved. You mention worship, baptism and the Eucharist. Is it really true that Orthodox worship today is virtually unchanged from what it was in the first century? Or are there essential elements that remain, but have been embellished over time? One has trouble seeing the use of Icons in the first or second century worship. That practice seems to be a later "development", and the cause of considerable tension. One has trouble with the Eastern view that elevates "theosis" as the best representation of universal Christian belief and as a result implies that forensic justification is foreign to the early church.

In short, I concede many criticisms of Protestantism by the Orthodox. But so far, at least, I do not accept the notion that current Orthodoxy can fairly make the claim of being "THE" church, as if outside influence, eastern culture and thought and human frailty have not added elements to it that are not part of the original deposit of faith. I just don't see Paul kissing an Icon.

So the bottom line is that it is not me who should sit in judgment of Orthodoxy or Protestantism. It is the early apostolic church, and primarily the scriptures, that should stand as a corrective to all later developments, including Protestant inventions. Still I have to make choices, don't I?
Subject Author Posted

Wondering about Orthodoxy

Theophilus July 06, 2003 08:48PM

Re: Wondering about Orthodoxy

Robert July 08, 2003 08:03AM

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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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jerry September 12, 2003 01:27AM

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Radiant January 09, 2007 12:16AM

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Dan September 09, 2003 02:53AM

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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