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21
Some were under the Ottomans, actually, so that explanation does not hold.

It does. Being under a Muslim ruler is not that different from being under a RC ruler in that both inhibit contact and support from Orthodox countries. Rus was even more farther away than Rome so going to schism had probably seen only viable option.
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Religious Topics / Re: Having trouble believing God is good
« Last post by Asteriktos on Yesterday at 05:09:20 PM »
But what has Tertullian to do with orthodoxy?

Regarding Aquinas, and others, such expressions can indeed be troubling, though I've found often less troubling when read in the larger context (as when St. Gregory of Nyssa said something similar)
Isn't Tertullian considered an orthodox church father?

What did Gregory of Nyssa say?

Tertullian is an important early historical source, but he has never been considered a church father or saint. He had some questionable ideas, and after first being orthodox he later went in a Montanist direction.

Regarding St. Gregory, he said this:

Quote
Somewhere in his utterances the great David declares that some portion of the blessedness of the virtuous will consist in this; in contemplating side by side with their own felicity the perdition of the reprobate. He says, "The righteous shall rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he shall wash his hands in the blood of the ungodly" (Ps. 58:10); not indeed as rejoicing over the torments of those sufferers, but as then most completely realizing the extent of the well-earned rewards of virtue. He signifies by those words that it will be an addition to the felicity of the virtuous and an intensification of it, to have its contrary set against it. In saying that he washes his hands in the blood of the ungodly he would convey the thought that the cleanness of his own acting in life is plainly declared in the perdition of the ungodly.

-- St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Infants Early Death

This seems to be walking a pretty fine line. People aren't rejoicing in the torment of others, but rather experiencing their own joy by virtue of being able to compare it with the opposite experience. But to what extent is that distinction believable if we consider that it is a friend or loved one who is serving as the point of comparison? Or, for that matter, if in Godliness we have true love for all, as saints say, then any such point of comparison would seem to be difficult, whether we know them or not. Read in the broader context of that particular document, or all his works, its clear that St. Gregory is not sadistic, especially compared to other writers of the time (it was a hardened life, and so people were more open to hardened beliefs). I also think that the afterlife, like salvation in general, isn't defined so much as described. And it can't be described with one or two statements, but rather by dozens, which even Jesus shows by using so many different parables to describe it. No one way of speaking of it can be self-sufficient, and we'll each find some more helpful and some less. The point is not to pick and choose which you like, but rather to accept the truth that we are all different, and some react better to one action or word, others to different ones. As another St. Gregory put it:

Quote
For men and women, young and old, rich and poor, the sanguine and despondent, the sick and whole, rulers and ruled, the wise and ignorant, the cowardly and courageous, the wrathful and meek, the successful and failing, do not require the same instruction and encouragement. And if you examine more closely, how great is the distinction between the married and the unmarried, and among the latter between hermits and those who live together in community, between those who are proficient and advanced in contemplation and those who barely hold on the straight course, between townsfolk again and rustics, between the simple and the designing, between men of business and men of leisure, between those who have met with reverses and those who are prosperous and ignorant of misfortune. For these classes differ sometimes more widely from each other in their desires and passion than in their physical characteristics; or, if you will, in the mixtures and blendings of the elements of which we are composed, and, therefore, to regulate them is no easy task.

As then the same medicine and the same food are not in every case administered to men's bodies, but a difference is made according to their degree of health or infirmity; so also are souls treated with varying instruction and guidance. To this treatment witness is borne by those who have had experience of it. Some are led by doctrine, others trained by example; some need the spur, others the curb; some are sluggish and hard to rouse to the good, and must be stirred up by being smitten with the word; others are immoderately fervent in spirit, with impulses difficult to restrain, like thoroughbred colts, who run wide of the turning post, and to improve them the word must have a restraining and checking influence. Some are benefited by praise, others by blame, both being applied in season; while if out of season, or unreasonable, they are injurious; some are set right by encouragement, others by rebuke; some, when taken to task in public, others, when privately corrected. For some are wont to despise private admonitions, but are recalled to their senses by the condemnation of a number of people, while others, who would grow reckless under reproof openly given, accept rebuke because it is in secret, and yield obedience in return for sympathy.

Upon some it is needful to keep a close watch, even in the minutest details, because if they think they are unperceived (as they would contrive to be), they are puffed up with the idea of their own wisdom. Of others it is better to take no notice, but seeing not to see, and hearing not to hear them, according to the proverb, that we may not drive them to despair, under the depressing influence of repeated reproofs, and at last to utter recklessness, when they have lost the sense of self-respect, the source of persuasiveness. In some cases we must even be angry, without feeling angry, or treat them with a disdain we do not feel, or manifest despair, though we do not really despair of them, according to the needs of their nature. Others again we must treat with condescension and lowliness, aiding them readily to conceive a hope of better things. Some it is often more advantageous to conquer— by others to be overcome, and to praise or deprecate, in one case wealth and power, in another poverty and failure.

For our treatment does not correspond with virtue and vice, one of which is most excellent and beneficial at all times and in all cases, and the other most evil and harmful; and, instead of one and the same of our medicines invariably proving either most wholesome or most dangerous in the same cases— be it severity or gentleness, or any of the others which we have enumerated— in some cases it proves good and useful, in others again it has the contrary effect, according, I suppose, as time and circumstance and the disposition of the patient admit. Now to set before you the distinction between all these things, and give you a perfectly exact view of them, so that you may in brief comprehend the medical art, is quite impossible, even for one in the highest degree qualified by care and skill: but actual experience and practice are requisite to form a medical system and a medical man.

-- St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 2.28-33

That's one reason I mentioned the 'put it on the shelf' idea earlier in the thread. I don't think it's fair to assume that we will definitely understand something, or be helped by something, when we encounter it. Maybe we'll always find it confusing, or even repulsive. Or maybe things will change later. To put it another way: we shouldn't ignore problems, but we also shouldn't let them drag us down into the depths to drown when we could possibly have avoided that fate by keeping our wits about us and not thrashing around so much.
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Prayer Forum / Re: For the repose of Bruno
« Last post by Dominika on Yesterday at 04:50:12 PM »
Memory eternal! Lord have mercy
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Religious Topics / Re: Having trouble believing God is good
« Last post by minasoliman on Yesterday at 04:45:44 PM »
Well, then you have a psychiatric problem underlying your thoughts.  That's a medical issue that requires constant relationship with a medical professional, perhaps even medication!

Let a physician help you, and then allow yourself to accept the Love and Comfort of God, and that all these stories should be interpreted through that lens, and not by itself.
Well... I am going to a medical professional. I do take medication... None of it helps. It is actually quite worthless. EVERYTHING has been turned out worthless. The only help I have hoped to be possible is from God. But then I just can't trust the God of the bible... I just can't. He seems evil to me. I am sorry. I really am. But the inconsistency that I find in his character and all the talk about election and damnation and so on is just terrifying to me. It rather destroys than heals my soul... By the way? Where is hope for me now? Nowhere according to the bible at least. Calling God evil is the unforgivable sin... But i guess the unforgivable sin is a state of the soul. But my state is just that: My being, my soul, my inner conviction says that God is a sadistic monster... I DO NOT enjoy feeling like this. But I have tried to escape from it for 9 months and nothing has changed. My inner being says "God is evil". That is the outlook that seems to be fixed... No matter how much I pray.

That's when you continue going to the medical professional, so that if one thing stops working, they try another.  The important thing is NEVER give up.
Thanks for your kind advice... But... The question arises in my head: Did Jesus, by saying to the pharisees that they had committed the unforgivable sin and would be punished with eternal fire, claim that the important thing for them was to never give up?

In Semitic culture, Christ's rebuke was not the end-all-be-all judgment, but a harsh warning to their way of thinking.  It is in a way pedagogical.

He did not sentence them to eternal damnation.  He simply gave them a chastising to which they could not and would not accept.  Even if it sounds like all hope is lost in the rebuke, the intent is not to push away, but to save.

How many times have I heard my grandmother say how much I'm going to get hurt with my behavior and I didn't listen.  She didn't wish it upon me.  She even yelled at me with her "woes" against me.  But when I realized how wrong I was and cried to her, she ran to me and embraced me.
Thanks for you fine view... But it is honestly hard for me to read about how Jesus rebukes people in a way where his intent seems to be to actually push away, when his real intent is to save. How can I know for sure? When I read that passage, what it says to me is "You are damned! You goat! You have committed the unforgivable sin and will be tormented forever with fire and brimstone". And the words are from Jesus. It is really psychological torture for me to read the bible.

Because you haven't been raised in a Semitic culture to know these nuances.
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Other Topics / Re: Orthodoxy in art
« Last post by Dominika on Yesterday at 04:42:17 PM »


Plus Armenian pictures:


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Hm... revelation ended with the death of the last apostle. Any apparitions/miracles afterwards, no matter whether they are claimed by the East or by the West are not mandatory, so to say. If Fatima or the holy fire in Jerusalem or Guadalupe helps you growing in your personal spirituality, good for you!
Don't judge others if they don't believe the same when it comes to miracles. It is true that the last two centuries saw an increased number of alleged miracles, especially claimed by the Roman church. Imho one should remember what HE said to Thomas after resurrection.

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That particular style, with arms at 11 o'clock and 1 o'clock position, is associated with Jansenism and the belief that Christ only died for the elect.
I try to find historical examples from, for example, pre-1500 (mostly trying to look at older pieces, especially before the schism) but I am having trouble finding a depiction of Christ in that manner

I think you must be correct
28
Religious Topics / Re: Having trouble believing God is good
« Last post by beebert on Yesterday at 04:18:20 PM »
beebert,

Good luck.  I struggled with this myself over a decade ago and wasn't able to resolve it.  Like you I appreciate the writings of Isaac of Syria and Gregory of Nyssa (reading Anthony Meredith's book on the latter at the moment) and was deeply moved by the lives of Francis of Assisi (when a Catholic) and Seraphim of Sarov; the God these men worshipped/wrote about seems to be a completely different God from the Bible (specifically the Old Testament).
I too Love Seraphim and Francis. And it also seems to me that they worshipped the SACRIFICIAL God of universal Love who truly wanted to save all. Not the sovereign God of the Old testament who causes evil to happen and who Controls Everything. Isn't God supposed to be the one who sets People Free from evil forces and suffering? In the old testament I find a God who causes evil forces and suffering and who judges People extremely hard for Every wrong step they take. By the way, how did you solve the problem you had? Did you leave christianity or did you find peace somehow?

No I’m afraid I was never able to resolve this issue.  I sought the advice of my spiritual father at the time (Fr Bishoy Andrewas) but I wasn’t satisfied with his answer. 
So I turned to OC.net.  At the time there were a lot of priests and theologians who actively posted here.  Provided below is the thread I started:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,8236.msg107920.html#msg107920

As for now I consider myself a secular humanist.  I’m still deeply drawn to Orthodox Christianity (particularly the Russian expression) intellectually speaking; however as the years have progressed I’ve had additional issues arise: for example I can’t reconcile some ecclesiological issues (certain canons, the schism between the EO and OO bodies of Orthodoxy), soteriological issues (particularly biological evolution and the biblical fall of man) and the view of sex amongst the Fathers.

Wish you luck in your struggles.  As for Fr. Thomas Hopko’s podcast, it realy left me a bit jaded after I listened to it.
Sorry to hear that... I wish you Good luck. Have you ever tried to return to christianity since or have you given it up completely?

beebert,

I would like to think I am open to truth.  As Keynes said, "When the facts change, I change my mind." 
I haven't been to a church service (other than a Catholic Mass last year for my friend's wedding) in over a decade; nevertheless I still enjoy listening to sacred music from time to time, I still enjoy entering Orthodox and Catholic churches to look at the architecture and artwork, I still love seeing the Christmas creche during the holidays (what can I say the life of Francis of Assisi deeply moved me many years ago, so much so I was looking into becoming a Franciscan) and last year I purchased a beautiful komboskini broken up into five decades so I could pray both the Jesus prayer as well as the Rosary. 

However, while praying the "Our Father" and reciting the "Thy will be done" portion of the prayer I felt both dishonest to myself and God (should he exist).  If God's will is to feed the poor, cloth the naked or visit the sick (Mt. 25:35-40) I can do that; if God's will was for me to sell all I have and come and follow him (Luke 18:18-30), as Francis of Assisi or Anthony the Great did, I think even that I could do.  But if God asked me to sacrifice my own child as a sign of faith to him (Gen. 22), or to commit genocide (Deut 20:16-18; cf. Josh 6:21; 8:25) for the furthering of "God's greater plan" I'm afraid that the "Thy will be done" would really be "Thy will will not be done" at least not by me. 

There is, or course, the Christian argument of the Old and New Covenants and that the events in the Old Testament need to be viewed in light of the New Testament.  It is an attractive argument.  However as the New Testament states, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." (Hey 13. 8) and, remaining intellectually honest, the Jesus who allowed the children to come to him in the New Testament is the same Jesus who commanded the slaughter of children throughout the Old Testament.

FWIW, I'm glad you still drop by brother.

God bless

Mina

Thanks.

beebert,

I can relate to what you're going through right now and jotted down some of my thoughts (sorry if they are causing you further distress that wasn't my intention).  If only we could pose our questions to Gregory of Nyssa... 8)
It would have been great to talk to Gregory of Nyssa. Or even more great to talk to Jesus himself in person... You didn't cause any further distress... I thank you for your fine post :) I appreciated it

TBH I think Jesus/Gregory of Nyssa's answer would be something similar to how Jesus answered the Pharisees posed the question of remarriage in heaven in Matthew 19.8 "Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning."
Clearly divorce goes against the beatific vision.  I think Gregory of Nyssa would likely use the same argument with regards to the atrocities in the OT.  1) Abraham's sacrifice was allegorical to Jesus sacrifice 2)Essentially that God didn't command the slaughter and genocide in the OT but allowed it to happen due to the Israelites hardness of heart.
Perhaps... But do you believe that to be the case? Then why do you object so much to the old testament?
30
Religious Topics / Re: Having trouble believing God is good
« Last post by beebert on Yesterday at 04:16:34 PM »
Well, then you have a psychiatric problem underlying your thoughts.  That's a medical issue that requires constant relationship with a medical professional, perhaps even medication!

Let a physician help you, and then allow yourself to accept the Love and Comfort of God, and that all these stories should be interpreted through that lens, and not by itself.
Well... I am going to a medical professional. I do take medication... None of it helps. It is actually quite worthless. EVERYTHING has been turned out worthless. The only help I have hoped to be possible is from God. But then I just can't trust the God of the bible... I just can't. He seems evil to me. I am sorry. I really am. But the inconsistency that I find in his character and all the talk about election and damnation and so on is just terrifying to me. It rather destroys than heals my soul... By the way? Where is hope for me now? Nowhere according to the bible at least. Calling God evil is the unforgivable sin... But i guess the unforgivable sin is a state of the soul. But my state is just that: My being, my soul, my inner conviction says that God is a sadistic monster... I DO NOT enjoy feeling like this. But I have tried to escape from it for 9 months and nothing has changed. My inner being says "God is evil". That is the outlook that seems to be fixed... No matter how much I pray.

That's when you continue going to the medical professional, so that if one thing stops working, they try another.  The important thing is NEVER give up.
Thanks for your kind advice... But... The question arises in my head: Did Jesus, by saying to the pharisees that they had committed the unforgivable sin and would be punished with eternal fire, claim that the important thing for them was to never give up?

In Semitic culture, Christ's rebuke was not the end-all-be-all judgment, but a harsh warning to their way of thinking.  It is in a way pedagogical.

He did not sentence them to eternal damnation.  He simply gave them a chastising to which they could not and would not accept.  Even if it sounds like all hope is lost in the rebuke, the intent is not to push away, but to save.

How many times have I heard my grandmother say how much I'm going to get hurt with my behavior and I didn't listen.  She didn't wish it upon me.  She even yelled at me with her "woes" against me.  But when I realized how wrong I was and cried to her, she ran to me and embraced me.
Thanks for you fine view... But it is honestly hard for me to read about how Jesus rebukes people in a way where his intent seems to be to actually push away, when his real intent is to save. How can I know for sure? When I read that passage, what it says to me is "You are damned! You goat! You have committed the unforgivable sin and will be tormented forever with fire and brimstone". And the words are from Jesus. It is really psychological torture for me to read the bible.
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