Author Topic: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?  (Read 8457 times)

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Offline ozgeorge

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"Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« on: August 26, 2006, 07:29:17 AM »
I am beginning to wonder whether the current strife between "ecumenist" and "non-ecumenist"  boils down to the fact that the way that "non-ecumenists" word their argument is misleading.
This post by anastasios has got me thinking. I actually agree with what he is saying, yet I wonder if we are saying it the right way. I have a "feel" for what a "hardcore ecumenist" is since I have met a few both here in Australia and in Greece; and I agree that some of what they hold to be true is heresy.
I think the problem is, the word "ecumenism" is too broad to be able to be used to desribe an heresy.
An heresy is an erroneous doctrine, but "ecumenism" is not really a doctrine, it is more of a modus operandi which, in reality, is practiced (and should be practiced) by all in the Orthodox Church in the sense that the Church should be open to the entire Ecumene. We should be striving to receive all people into the Church, and in this sense, we should be "ecumenists".
So then, the question is, what do anastasios and I mean when we say that "a real, hardcore ecumenist is a heretic"? If we say they are heretics because they are holding and teaching the heresy of ecumenism, then we are back where we started, since we are saying that "ecumenism" sometimes is heretical and sometimes isn't heretical.
Every heresy in the history of the Church has had a either has a catchy name after the person who introduced it: "Sergianism", "Arianism", "Nestorianism", or, it has a name which is quickly recognisable as being incompatible with Christian doctrine such as "Phyletism" which literally translates as "Tribalism" which has no place in the Church.
So my point is, would it perhaps help if we named the doctrinal error we wish to remove in a clearer way?
And before anyone suggests them, I think "Meletianism" or "Athenagoritism" are out since they would mean very little to most. I'm leaning towards naming the heresy in a way which makes it clear that it is a doctrine incompatible with Christianity in the same way that "Phyletism" did.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 07:34:33 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2006, 07:52:32 AM »
I understand your question but haven't cooked my answer very well yet.
However, when I ponder the great historical heresies which plagued the Church I am struck with how subtle the errors actually are at times in comparison to the hard, quick labels we attach to them. Example - monophytism. These convenient labels seem to mask much and are as judgemental as those on the opposite side, ISTM.
I agree the definitions become circular if some measure of degree of error is attempted.
My view, trying not to be as judgemental myself, is that when I see a "walled off" group for any reason that refuses any dialogue until those perceived in error, from their view, repent - then I see extremeism which I dismiss.
I often recall where the disciples complain of one who was "not among them" proclaiming the Good News and the Lord's response and the implications therein for 'ecumenism'.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2006, 08:12:48 AM »
My view, trying not to be as judgemental myself, is that when I see a "walled off" group for any reason that refuses any dialogue until those perceived in error, from their view, repent - then I see extremeism which I dismiss.
I agree, but I think this further illustrates my point about words.
For example, what do you mean by "extremism"? If the "walled off" group sees an error which opposes Orthodox doctrine, shouldn't they be "extreme" in upholding Orthodox doctrine? If, after several attempts at pointing out the error, the other side fails to see their point, then really, what choice have they?
By the same token, if the group walls itself off because of what it perceives to be an "obvious heresy" which it calls by the (IMHO) too broad a name of  "Ecumenism", then anything even remotely resembling "ecumenism", -even the positive sense of "ecumenism"- will be rejected. The "extremism" is therefore (again IMHO) not an extreme adherence to Orthodox doctrine, but an error caused by a misunderstanding of the very term they used to describe the error they are rejecting. "We cannot dialogue and negotiate with them because that would make us ecumenists ourselves."
I think, had ROCOR not used the word "Ecumenism" in the well-known "Anathema Against Ecumenism", and had simply stuck to anathemising the "Branch Theory", then we would now have the beginings of a working document for the whole Church, since the "Branch Theory" is a doctrine which clearly flies in the face of Orthodox Ecclesiology. On the other hand, as I said before "Ecumenism" isn't really even a doctrine, and is too broad a term which has left too much confusion in it's wake IMHO.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 09:57:55 AM by cleveland »
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2006, 09:02:58 AM »
As you can read, I do have a hard time wrapping my head around the issue and articulating my understanding well. It is extremely difficult for me to define 'ecumenism". 'Universalism' - sure, I can see bad implications in that. But dismissing dialogue based on ill-defined heresies, as you point out, seems an error in its own.
I agree with your opinion on the ROCOR document.

Accomodationalism?
Dilutionalism?
Poly-ecumenism?

Turns into word play.

I'm not helping here.
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Offline FrChris

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2006, 09:25:04 AM »
This thread could easily be one of the most meaningful threads to me that has been posted on this site. This has given me a lot to think about indeed!

Good job, Ozgeorge and Αριστοκλής!
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 09:58:16 AM by cleveland »
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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2006, 09:57:50 AM »
The kudos go to ozgeorge - I'm just floundering along.  :-[
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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2006, 10:09:15 AM »
It seems that the controversy surrounding the word and its implications within the EO camp has caused quite some confusion for us OO's. An inquirer asked His Grace Bishop Youssef the following question:

Quote
Some Eastern Orthodox material online accuses their fellow Orthodox churches, both Chalcedonian and non-Chalcedonian, of an "ecclesiological heresy" called "ecumenism" because of  involvement with the WCC. What is 'ecumenism' and what does the Coptic Church think of these accusations?

To which His Grace answered:

Quote
It surprises me that some Eastern Orthodox Churches regard ecumenism as a heresy.

From the very beginning of Christianity St. Paul instructs the Ephesians saying, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:3-5) and also “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:11-13).

How can we achieve this unity of faith if the different denominations do not meet together and try to solve their differences?

The word 'ecumenism' is derived from the Greek word oikoumene which means "the whole inhabited earth". It is particularly interested in the true being and life of the church as an inclusive community, in each and all places.

Ecumenism, by definition, is the movement of Christian Churches in order to promote co-operation and understanding; aiming at universal Christian unity and love as willed by our Lord Jesus Christ.

The need to recover baptismal unity is at the heart of the ecumenical task as it is central to the realization of genuine partnership within the Christian communities.

Being part of the WCC does not mean that we are jeopardizing our Orthodoxy. On the contrary, we are trying to get other denominations to understand Christianity the way we do. Ecumenism is the openness to listen to others’ opinions and have frank discussions while trying to reach solutions to the issues at hand.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 10:09:38 AM by EkhristosAnesti »
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2006, 10:12:58 AM »
Some thoughts that I have not fully fleshed out, but present for discussion:

0) I haven't posted as anastasios in like 3 years guys; when Robert, Phil, and I made the site I thought it was cool to write my name sylistically but well then I gained some maturity and also started going by my saint's name so uh, well, it's Anastasios now :)

1) The problem may be that the term ecumenism evolved over time, which causes some of the confusion. When the Faith and Order conference was created in I believe 1910, it was a roundtable conference where people presented papers on their Church's views, and there was discussion and debate, but no voting and no joint statements, and I believe no joint prayer, although maybe an Our Father was prayed.

2) It could be that Orthodox anti-ecumenists refer to ecumenism consistently as the term for the thing they oppose because of the fact that that is what the WCC consistently uses to describe its various activities.

3) While I think that the term ecumenism is a broad term, I think it is a convenient term. I was once of the opinion that ecumenism per se was not heretical, but rather a mode of acting, which ipso facto could not be a heresy but could be a sin if done incorrectly.  I now have the opinion after thinking about this further that ecumenism is a convenient umbrella for several distinct, related, and equally dangerous thought patterns and actions:

3a) Branch theorism: believing that the Church exists in branches that together make up the Church of Christ.  In its radical form it asserts that any Church with apostolic succession, indeed, any Church at all that believes in core Christian truths, has grace and baptism especially.  In its more subtle form, it seeks to find "vestiges of grace" in the sacraments of heretics, or, more subtly, seeks to redefine what a heretic is (i.e. only someone who denies the Trinity is a heretic is what I was taught by these types, but upon further reading of Church history I realized this is a very literalist reading of St Basil based on his time and not taking into account 1500 more years of Church development).

3b) Prayer with heretics: the belief that praying with non-Orthodox liturgically (i.e. in the Church's public witness) will effect union of Churches.

3c) Neo-Latinism: the belief that the errors of the Latins and our Truth is neglible, solely-cultural, can be explained in new ways (i.e. Clarification of Filioque in 1995 that really didn't say anything).  Also exists in a non-theological variety whereby some Orthodox who feel so insecure about themselves and their Church believe that uniting with a "respected" figure like the Pope is the only salvation of Orthodoxy (yes--I have met people like this. I do not make stuff up.)

3d) Modernism: the idea that Orthodoxy can critically evaluate its sources and redefine them in our times, for our generation, in the "patristic spirit", instead of allowing organic development (some here stenuously object with me on this point).  The idea that we should accomodate Western culture beyond a synthesis that one would expect in a diaspora-turned-missionary zone like America/Australia/the West, and actually create new Orthodox praxis for the culture, that approximates Western Church practice (shortening services, abolishing fasts, etc--the points that Patriarch Meletios made in his letters to Venizelos in the 1920's).

If we had to anathematize each of these separately, we would end up having a whole catalogue of heresies and may get more boggled down in confusion explaining what is what.  Ecumenism covers a broad group just like Arianism covered diverse groups like "Aetianism", "Arianism per se", "homoiousianism per repentance", etc.

Now, I am not stating all the above to be argumentative; I do see George's point, after all, I was the one that made a distinction between hard-core ecumenists and run-of-the-mill "ecumenists."  I certainly believe that sitting down with others to talk about Orthodox teaching is right--but I would no longer call that ecumenism since the idea of what ecumenism has itself changed (in both modern WCC documents and Orthodox perception).  Therefore, I would call that evangelism or just discussion.

In regards to Aristokles' thoughts: yes, part of the problem could be anti-ecumenists throwing the label around carelessly.  I admit that that is annoying even to me.  I try to make a distinction.  However, one can "understand" (which does not make it right. I am not talking justification but rather explication) why this happens when faced with extremely distressing events that seem to just fly in the face of Orthodoxy.  It's the same reaction that people in the "World Orthodox"/"mainstream"/patriarchates have when they see that various groups call themselves GOC and say, "see! you are so disunited! you are obviously not the Church!"  Well, from our point of view, there is only one GOC, the one that has the vast majority of GOC members, and there are various schismatics who have left and been deposed but call themselves GOC.  To an outsider, though, this is all nonsense, and I can understand (although not agree!) why one would have this impression. So my point is the two groups look at the most negative aspects of the other and make generalizations.

To Aristokles's actual point though, we agree, that we cannot just exist in a vaccum.  That is why our Synod has sat down to talk with the New Calendarist bishops many times--as recently as late 2004, and there are many other unofficial dialogues.  We do not believe it is in the best interest of Orthodoxy to write you all off and say "we're it. have a nice life."  Really the whole point of walling off and resisting is the hope that you will all come back--and if we are wrong, the whole thing is you should show us where our impressions are wrong, and not condemn us as graceless schismatics and kooks (I am not saying you personally but using the general you).

(Disclaimer: Now, if any of my Old Calendarist friends are reading this, I most certainly do not agree that our disunity is on par with the ecumenism or if you prefer "branch theorism, modernism, neo-latinism, etc etc etc" that is going on in the New Calendar Church. I do firmly believe that it is right to be an Old Calendarist.  HOWEVER, I do recognize that certain actions on our part have made our witness more negative over the years, and I seek to understand the other side as well, which is why I engage in these discussions. And, I do participate in running a message board, where people enjoy talking and thinking things out.  It certainly helps me to clarify my thinking. So please keep that in mind).

OK, sorry for my over-the-top long post.  I really was only going to write a few things...

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2006, 10:16:19 AM »
EA,

The Copts have done a good job of doing this. I would say our EO have not, and the Armenians in your communion have also stooped to unacceptable lows (sorry to my Armenian friends. I love the Armenian Church but I see that some of its hierarchs are at all of these interreligious events along with some of our EO hierarchs).  Here is a video which I believe demonstrates this. It is of course highly polemical and from the EO point of view. But it is amazing to see the kind of even inter-relgious "prayer" that the WCC supports (almost all the footage is WCC stock footage--the little symbol in the bottom corner of most of the video is the WCC logo):

http://www.synodinresistance.org/EkdoshsParag_en/Video/Videos%20On%20Ecumenism/E4d1008Ortho1998VideoPart3Tainia-256Kbs.wmv

there are other videos on that site but I am not trying to advertise the site in question but rather point out a specific video which illustrates my point.  The first few minutes show the denigration of Western liturgy over the years; then comes the footage of Orthodox (EO and Armenian OO) praying with these heretics and then even with Muslims and Hindus.

Anastasios
« Last Edit: August 26, 2006, 10:17:48 AM by Anastasios »
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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2006, 02:11:57 PM »
Anastasios,

Thanks much for posting the video on the website.  Very, very interesting!

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Offline Salpy

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2006, 05:56:35 PM »
I am not offended, Anastasios, and I share some of your concerns.  I have been deeply troubled about the way in which my own Church's hierarchs have compromised the ancient faith of St. Gregory in order to "make our Church relevent," and to "build bridges" with other churches. 

What I think they don't see is that rather than increasing the number of people who go to church on Sunday morning, this makes it easier for people to convert over to other churches.  After all, if there is no difference between us, why not start going to the Catholic or Protestant churches on Sundays?  I know people who now attend other churches, not because they have rejected the Armenian Church, but because they believe there is no real difference between us.

What you called "neo-latinism" is very strong in the Armenian Church right now.  There is a sort of feeling that the Catholics are "big time" and that a "little time" Church like ours can gain respectability by being associated with them.  Unfortunately, this opens the door for certain heresies, like the Vasula Ryden cult.  I have also seen an increase in the number of Armenian Orthodox people who pray the Catholic rosary instead of Armenian prayers and who venerate Catholic saints, instead of Armenian saints.  Saints Rita and Francis are especially gaining popularity.  It's not that I have a problem with the rosary or Catholic saints.  It's just that I don't like the way they are replacing Armenian prayers and saints.

The question I have struggled with is where to draw the line, especially with Churches which are very close to my own, such as the EO's. 

For example, I have no problem attending an EO liturgy and praying in an EO church, but I draw the line at taking communion, which I never do in an EO church. 

I also don't have a problem with our priests and hierarchs visiting other churches as "guests."  I have even seen Coptic priests do this, even though it is true that the Coptic Church has not involved itself in ecumenism to the extent the Armenian Church has.  However, I don't believe in our priests co-celebrating with priests of other churches.

I also don't have a problem with venerating some EO saints, especially St. Nectarios, whose veneration is very strong among the Armenians and who has worked miracles among people of my Church.  However, I have a problem with the veneration of the saints of other Churches supplanting the veneration of Armenian saints, and, as mentioned above, I have seen instances of this.         

In other words, it's not always that clear cut as to where to draw the line.  This is something that needs to be worked out.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2006, 06:38:55 PM »
Anastasios,
I see what you are saying about "ecumenism" being an "umbrella term", but unless this is actually an agreed-upon definition, I still think it is not very effective. People (such as incommunion.org) are now speaking of the distinction between "true ecumenism" and "false ecumenism", with the implication that the anti-ecumenists do not distinguish between the two.
Humour me for a minute, and subtitute, say, "Branchism" where you would use the term "Ecumenism". Let's say "Branchism" refers to the heretical doctrine of the Branch Theory that the Church is divided into "branches". This is clearly an heretical doctrine. This would actually include a condemnation of common prayer with heretics, since the only way one can avoid the already existant Canonical condemnation of common prayer with heretics is to say they are not heretics, and the only way this could be true is if one held the doctrine of the Branch Theory. The same goes for what you call "Neo-Latinism". The only way one could hold this doctrine is if one held that the Roman Catholic Church is a "Branch" of the same Church as the Orthodox Church.
"Modernism" on the other hand, I think is a completely different creature and unrelated to "Ecumenism" or "Branchism" and needs to be treated seperately.
Do you see what I am saying? Perhaps if we spell out the doctrinal error by calling it something like "Branchism", and explain it's many forms and expressions, we not only will deal with the real issue, we will also be able to cut off the "escape routes" of the "Branch Theorists", who, if we call them "Ecumenists" are able to talk around this by distinguishing between "true ecumenism" and "false ecumenism" and beleive that we, in our "ignorance and backwardness" are "unable" to make the same distinction.
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2006, 08:50:22 AM »
Turns into word play.
I really don't think so. I really think the problem is that the word "Ecumenism" cannot be used to name an heresy any more than "Catholicism" can. The Church could never anathemise "Catholicism", because the Church itself is (and should be) "Catholic". For the same reason, the Church will never anathemise "Ecumenism", because the Church is (and should be) "Ecumenical".
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 10:01:24 AM by cleveland »
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Offline falafel333

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2006, 09:29:45 AM »
I think the heresy should be that of syncretism or relativism and not ecumenism...if anything those anti-ecumenists would see the ecumenical movement as a platform to advance their own thoughts and beliefs, which I think in some strange way would make them ecumenical anti-ecumenists.

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2006, 12:25:59 PM »
I believe it needs to be defined for what the actions of heresy are. It could be formulated by a multi-stated heresy as somehing like "Modernist-Neo-Latin-Heterodox-Universalist-Branch-Pan-Bridge" Heresy or something to that effect. I am being sarcastic but serious at the same time so bear with me.

I also believe that if we come to a terminology for this plethora of heresies, we should breake them down to their individual issues so as to come up with a title, if not a blanket term, but for each one if no blanket term is offerable.

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Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #15 on: October 25, 2006, 08:09:43 PM »
***Bump***

This great thread was interrupted by the extended absence of OC.net from server move. In light of other current threads, this should be continued IMNSHO
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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #16 on: October 25, 2006, 08:47:17 PM »
***Bump***

This great thread was interrupted by the extended absence of OC.net from server move. In light of other current threads, this should be continued IMNSHO

It was a good thread, and one that I had completely forgotten about, thanks for the bump.

Now to offer my opinion on the matter (like it or not ;)), which is comprable to some of the things that have already been suggested.

The problem with the term ecumenism is how individuals view it. Those who would anathematize it view it as a dogmatic posistion that undermines the orthodox faith; those of us who embrace it, on the other hand, do not consider it a matter of dogma at all, but rather a matter of praxis and discipline relating to our relationship with the outside world.

The instances where ecumenism is taken to the extreme of dogma, such as the branch theory or any other denial of the fact that the Orthodox Church is the fullness of truth, is heretical. But one will not find many advocates of this in any aspect of the Orthodox Church, they are practically non existant amongst the Bishops and Priests, and are so rare amongst academics that it is hardly worth mentioning; so for most in 'mainstream' Orthodoxy this rare posistion is not even considered when discussing ecumensim, though amongst the Old Calendarists it often seems to be presented as the very essence of ecumenism.

For most of us in mainstream Orthodoxy, ecumenism is about dialogue and showing love towards our neighbour.  It is contrasted with harsh condemnations of everyone who is not exactly like us. Ecumenism is essentially finding that which is good in our neighbour and exalting that, rather than finding his falts and dwelling on those. There is a realization that differences exist, but a hope that we can work through those, not by compromising our faith, but by elevating that which is true in our neighbours faith to the point that it overcomes that which is deficient. Ultimately, to us, ecumenism is a matter of praxis rather than a matter of dogma.

As a specific issue, let us consider the issue of praying with schismatics and heretics. The reasons for the condemnation of this act in the canons is fairly obvious, for if the a bishop or priest accepts a heretic as their ecclesiastical equal through a public act such as liturgy, then it will present the appearance that they, and by extension the Church, embrace this heretical doctrine. And if they do indeed accept this heretic as their ecclesiastical equal and permit their heresy to be manifested as equal to the dogmas of the Church, then there is a serious problem. However, if, as is often the case in the context of ecumenical gatherings, a common service or prayer indicates not total agreement or acceptance of heretical doctrines, but rather is an acknowledgement that there are some similarities in the faith of the parites present, that there are at least enough similarities to work with in hopes of bringing those who are deficient in the faith to a fuller understanding of Christian truth, then the benifits can outweigh any potential harm, making such a service something to be desired rather than condemned. Again, in this instance, ecuminism is a matter of discipline, using a comradery of sorts to bring others closer to Christ, rather than dogma, for the intent (and effect) is clearly not a denial of the Christian faith.
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 10:01:58 AM by cleveland »

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2006, 12:58:33 AM »
I believe it needs to be defined for what the actions of heresy are. It could be formulated by a multi-stated heresy as somehing like "Modernist-Neo-Latin-Heterodox-Universalist-Branch-Pan-Bridge" Heresy or something to that effect. I am being sarcastic but serious at the same time so bear with me.

I also believe that if we come to a terminology for this plethora of heresies, we should breake them down to their individual issues so as to come up with a title, if not a blanket term, but for each one if no blanket term is offerable.

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Panagiotis
And now for Chris's point of view.
Ecumenism: Theological Dialogue between Christians about what you unites and separates us as well as joint efforts at improving the world from a Christian perspective.
Eirenicism: Pretending like there are no differences between our Churches when there really are major differences. Also, pretending like we are the same Church when we are really not.
Inter-religious Dialogue: Having theological discussions with non-Christians.
Apostasy: Dropping the Christian faith, in this day an age it is usually in order to "get along" with others. I am starting to think that the Episcopalians have Apostatized because of their new moral theology.
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline Papist

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2006, 12:59:45 AM »
EA,

The Copts have done a good job of doing this. I would say our EO have not, and the Armenians in your communion have also stooped to unacceptable lows (sorry to my Armenian friends. I love the Armenian Church but I see that some of its hierarchs are at all of these interreligious events along with some of our EO hierarchs).  Here is a video which I believe demonstrates this. It is of course highly polemical and from the EO point of view. But it is amazing to see the kind of even inter-relgious "prayer" that the WCC supports (almost all the footage is WCC stock footage--the little symbol in the bottom corner of most of the video is the WCC logo):

http://www.synodinresistance.org/EkdoshsParag_en/Video/Videos%20On%20Ecumenism/E4d1008Ortho1998VideoPart3Tainia-256Kbs.wmv

there are other videos on that site but I am not trying to advertise the site in question but rather point out a specific video which illustrates my point.  The first few minutes show the denigration of Western liturgy over the years; then comes the footage of Orthodox (EO and Armenian OO) praying with these heretics and then even with Muslims and Hindus.

Anastasios
Looks like something St. Pius X Society would produce.
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2006, 06:50:29 AM »
GiC,
Obviously, I agree with most of your post since it echoes what I said earlier in the thread.
However, as regards to the issue of joint prayer, I have a teensy-weensy little problem with what you say.
I in fact agree that for the most part (most certainly in the more recent history since the Thessaloniki Communique of the Orthodox delegates to the WCC), joint prayer with the non-Orthodox is cautiously practiced so as not to give the impression that Orthodox Clergy consider the heterodox and schismatic Clergy to be their ecclesiastic equals.
The problem I have, however, is how this impacts on the nature of prayer in the Orthodox mindset. For the Orthodox Christians, there is no clear deliniation between prayer and belief, nor between worship and action, nor between the Church and the home. So while I can see what you are saying about joint prayer with the heterodox being a "missioning" of the Church to them, the problem I see is what this does to our understanding of Prayer. Prayer is Prayer, it is a communing with the Divine. It is not a "tool" to be used for any other purpose, no matter how "noble" the cause may seem. What's more, to enter into joint prayer as a way of bringing people back to Christ by stealth without declaring openly that this is our agenda seems dishonest and disrespectful to those outside the Church whom we seek to bring back into the Church.
A related problem is that the Orthodox do not have full control over joint prayer with the heterodox- it always has to be a compromised joint prayer, therefore, the Orthodox can never pray jointly with the heterodox "that God bring them in to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" for example. Compromised joint prayer can never be a prayer from the heart for the Orthodox.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2006, 06:55:57 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline FrChris

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2006, 08:12:45 AM »
And now for Chris's point of view.


Just for sake of clarity...

The 'Chris' mentioned in this post is not the poster on this site known as 'chris'.
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Offline GiC

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2006, 05:40:38 PM »
GiC,
Obviously, I agree with most of your post since it echoes what I said earlier in the thread.
However, as regards to the issue of joint prayer, I have a teensy-weensy little problem with what you say.
I in fact agree that for the most part (most certainly in the more recent history since the Thessaloniki Communique of the Orthodox delegates to the WCC), joint prayer with the non-Orthodox is cautiously practiced so as not to give the impression that Orthodox Clergy consider the heterodox and schismatic Clergy to be their ecclesiastic equals.

Ah, so we agree in theory but not in practice; that seems to be a common theme in matters related to ecumenism. ;)

Quote
The problem I have, however, is how this impacts on the nature of prayer in the Orthodox mindset. For the Orthodox Christians, there is no clear deliniation between prayer and belief, nor between worship and action, nor between the Church and the home. So while I can see what you are saying about joint prayer with the heterodox being a "missioning" of the Church to them, the problem I see is what this does to our understanding of Prayer. Prayer is Prayer, it is a communing with the Divine. It is not a "tool" to be used for any other purpose, no matter how "noble" the cause may seem. What's more, to enter into joint prayer as a way of bringing people back to Christ by stealth without declaring openly that this is our agenda seems dishonest and disrespectful to those outside the Church whom we seek to bring back into the Church.

It is the fact that there is such a close relationship between prayer and belief that joint prayer is appropriate; for it is a practical manifestation of the beliefs we hold in common. However, I do not believe that this should be used as some tool of proselytists, as I am sure you know that I detest the practice; and I apologize if that is the intent I conveyed. Rather, I believe that ecumenism and common prayer help to bring these people closer to Christ within the context of their own tradition, without having to resort to proselytism. This is done not by compromising Orthodoxy but by bringing out the orthodoxy that already exists in others (as opposed to imposing it on others, which is proselytism), and who knows, they may be able to teach us a thing or two, not necessarially in dogma, but quite possibly in praxis.

The case study for this is the relationship between the Orthodox and the Church of England. The 19th Century was the century in which the Orthodox Church began to recover from the devistation of the fall of the City, the Oecumenical Throne once again was able to begin to practice the Oecumenical nature of his ministry and part of this included contact with the west, which had been minimal following the fall of the City. At the same time the 19th Century was an era of both scholarly advancement and traditionalism in the CoE; and in this context the two communions met (largely thanks to the CoE it must be admited, though they clearly enjoyed the more favourable political situation), not merely in passing as they had previously, but in an sense that warranted dialogue. For one thing, we really didn't know who each other were or what the other believed. This is the beginning of the ecumenical movement. What we found out is that our two communions (at that point) had much in common, especially from a theological perspective; and common prayer was an attempt to physically manifest our theological agreements. It was in this context, and in hope of a restoration of communion between Constantinople and Canterbury that the Endemousa Synod of Constantinople in 1923 was summoned by His All-Holiness Patriarch Meletios IV. Here common prayer was not an attempt trick the CoE into changing their theology, rather it was a recognition of what was common in our theology and an attempt to heal the rifts caused by divergent practice, rather than divergent theology. Of course, the theological revolutions in the west during the 1930's interfered in this attempt at reconciliation, causing the Orthodox to cautiously step back. A similar opportunity presented itself again during the reign of His All-Holiness Patriarch Athenagoras, this time with the Latins and common prayer again took on a similar significance, a means to reconcile two bodies with similar theology but differing praxis.

Quote
A related problem is that the Orthodox do not have full control over joint prayer with the heterodox- it always has to be a compromised joint prayer, therefore, the Orthodox can never pray jointly with the heterodox "that God bring them in to the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church" for example. Compromised joint prayer can never be a prayer from the heart for the Orthodox.

Perhaps this is simply a practical manifestation of the situation. Relations between our Church and other communions are not normalized, and insofar as their theology is divergent from ours, so must be the praxis of common prayer. Now if this common prayer was the only prayer in the Orthodox Church, this would be a serious problem, but it is not. The fullness of prayer is still being practiced within the Orthodox Church and heresy is not being proclaimed by the Orthodox. Some of these common prayers may not reflect the fullness of truth, but they all reflect truth unpolluted by heresy, they are simply milk for those not yet ready for meat.

Offline Papist

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2006, 05:43:26 PM »
Just for sake of clarity...

The 'Chris' mentioned in this post is not the poster on this site known as 'chris'.

Oops sorry. My screen name is "Papist" but my real name is Christopher.
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2006, 05:51:28 PM »
Oops sorry. My screen name is "Papist" but my real name is Christopher.

Great! We won't have to give you a new name later  ;)
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2006, 07:17:25 PM »
However, I do not believe that this should be used as some tool of proselytists, as I am sure you know that I detest the practice; and I apologize if that is the intent I conveyed.
Thanks. That was the main thing I needed to check out with you.
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Offline Papist

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2006, 10:47:06 PM »
Great! We won't have to give you a new name later  ;)
Oh, so you plan on converting me do you? LOL.  ;)
« Last Edit: August 31, 2007, 10:03:15 AM by cleveland »
"For, by its immensity, the divine substance surpasses every form that our intellect reaches. Thus we are unable to apprehend it by knowing what it is. Yet we are able to have some knowledge of it by knowing what it is not." - St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa contra gentiles, I, 14.

Offline Αριστοκλής

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2006, 11:01:45 PM »
Oh, so you plan on converting me do you? LOL.  ;)

I convert no one, my friend...but He may  :)
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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #27 on: August 31, 2007, 09:29:43 AM »
As we have a group of new members I thought I would *bump* this topic, again. I don't think we've fully explored it.
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Offline Fr. George

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #28 on: August 31, 2007, 10:03:56 AM »
As a moderatorial note: all the edits I've done today are to correct the scramblings of Αριστοκλής name in the previous posts, caused by multiple server migrations and whatnot.
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Offline prodromas

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Re: "Ecumenism"- should we use a different word?
« Reply #29 on: August 31, 2007, 08:24:03 PM »
As we have a group of new members I thought I would *bump* this topic, again. I don't think we've fully explored it.
thanks for bumping for us newbies!

my immature ignorant 17 year old opinion is this:

I agree with ecumenism between churches like OO and EO and would stretch it as far to say the RC church.
But churches which have such a large difference in dogma and practice such as ecumenical decisions made between the church of the far east and the Roman Catholic church to have inter communion is absurd and dangerous  and I believe the later is the best "situation" for ecumenical decisions.
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