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Author Topic: Is Clark's book "The Faith" the Orthodox Catechism?  (Read 2642 times) Average Rating: 0
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Matthew777
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« on: November 21, 2006, 08:31:13 AM »

The Faith by Clark Carlton is the only Eastern Orthodox catechism endorsed by all Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States. Therefore, it provides a valuable resource on understanding the traditional Orthodox teaching.

The following is taken from the catechism's section on the doctrine of Creation:

Quote
American society as a whole, and certainly the authors of science textbooks, simply assume evolution to be a scientifically established fact. Those who do not accept the assumption are labeled as "fundamentalists", "obscurantists" and "intellectual cave men." It is not surprising therefore, that many religious thinkers, including a few Orthodox Christians, have accepted the evolutionary worldview and have tried to reconcile it with the biblical doctrine of creation.

Before we proceed any further, let us define exactly what is meant by evolution. I am not referring to the natural process whereby the characteristics of species are changed and adapted to the environments (micro evolution). I am, rather, referring to the theory according to which all life on earth evolved in a completely random process from the chance self-creation of living cells from a "pre-biotic soup" of elements at the dawn of the earth's history (macro evolution).

Evolution is a materialistic philosophy which seeks to explain the world solely in terms of itself, without any reference to a Creator. It should be obvious, therefore, that evolution is incompatible with the Orthodox Christian worldview. Indeed, in the words of fr. Seraphim Rose, "It is a rival thought-pattern to Orthodoxy, not just another idea" (Not of this world, p.512).

But how can the Orthodox Church disagree with scientific fact? Is this not the same as believing that the earth is flat or that it is the center of the solar system? Furthermore, could not God have used evolution to bring about the creation of man?

Theistic evolution, or the belief that God created and directs the evolutionary process, would be a plausible philosophy if there were any real, scientific proof of evolution. However, there is none. To be sure, there is ample proof of species changing and adapting to their environments, but no proof whatsoever that one classification of animal evolved into another classification.

Although literally hundreds of thousands of fossils have been discovered in the last 135 years, the same gaps in the fossil record remain today that so troubled Charles Darwin when he wrote "The Origin of Species". The novel evolutionary theory known as Punctuated Equilibrium, put forth by Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, is nothing more than an admission that the gaps in the fossil record are real and will not be filled in. In other words, there are no missing links.

Furthermore, the development of molecular biology has shown that living cells are far more complex than Darwin or anyone in the nineteenth century had imagined. The simplest living cell is a far more complicated machine than any human invention. In order to successfully duplicate itself, it must contain exactly the right acids and enzymes, each in its proper place, performing its assigned function, processing literally millions of pieces of information. Statistically, the chances of such a cell coming into being as a result of the random conglomeration of acids are astronomically remote. No molecular biologist has been able to come up with a plausible explanation for the emergence of necessary cell components such as DNA, much less for the emergence of living cells themselves.

If evolution has never actually been proven, why is it universally accepted as an established fact? The answer is quite simple. Modern science assumes that the world is explainable solely in terms of itself. Scientists may not be able to explain how random amino acids accidentally formed cells or how amphibians evolved into mammals, but they have no other choice but to accept the "truth" of evolution as long as they assume that the world explains itself. In other words, evolution must be true, because modern, scientific method needs it to be true.

It should be noted that this line of reasoning is not only circular, it is inherently religious. The a priori assumption that the world is explainable solely in terms of itself is itself not based upon empirical investigation. In 1993, noted evolutionist and philosopher of science Michael Ruse admitted as much before a scientific convocation called to debunk creationism. This admission came ten years after he had testified in an Arkansas court that evolution was not based on any preconceived philosophical notions.

The acceptance of evolution as fact has grave ramifications for human society. If man is nothing more than an evolved animal, then there is no rational basis for asserting the inherent dignity of man.

"Social Darwinism" was an attempt initiated by Darwin's own cousin to apply the principles of natural selection and survival of the fittest to human society. Although it is common for evolutionists to disavow any relation with Social Darwinism, Darwin's own writings make it clear that he was sympathetic to the idea. Indeed, Social Darwinism is a perfectly logical extension of the theory of evolution.

The "science" of eugenics was born out of this movement. Eugenics was an attempt to create better humans through scientific methods of population control and selective breeding. Widely practiced in the United Kingdom and the United States in the early part of the 20th century, eugenics became the "scientific" basis for Hitler's attempt to create a Master Race.

Hitler's initial attempts at population control (the forced sterilization of the mentally retarded) and selective breeding (laws regulating mixed marriages) were based on existing laws in force in Britain and the U.S. These programs ultimately led to extermination camps for pure-blooded Germans.

Fifty years after the end of World War II, little has changed except for the sophistication of the methods. Abortion as population control, genetic engineering, and designer sperm banks are all the result of a materialistic worldview, which assumes that man is nothing more than an evolved animal. Why then, should man not try to "improve" himself by altering his genetic makeup? Why, indeed, should one assume that all men are equal?

The Orthodox doctrine of creation is wholly incompatible with such an approach. It is an unalterable dogma of the Orthodox Church that each and every human being, from the moment of conception, is a unique and unrepeatable person created in the image of God. Furthermore, because man is created in the image of the Holy Trinity, human nature itself is one and indivisible. Each human being possesses and sums up in himself the entirety of the human race. Therefore, all men are equal, regardless of their race, mental capacities, or situation in life.

The theory of evolution is not simply a matter for scientists. It has a direct effect on how we view the world and man's place in it. Therefore, it is incumbent upon all Orthodox Christians to clearly understand the issues involved.

The Faith, Clark Carlton, p.73, Regina Orthodox Press, 1997
http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Understanding-Orthodox-Christianity-Catechism/dp/0964914115/sr=1-4/qid=1164111950/ref=sr_1_4/002-7713878-1700822?ie=UTF8&s=books

Peace.
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2006, 01:35:48 PM »

The Faith by Clark Carlton is the only Eastern Orthodox catechism endorsed by all Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States. Therefore, it provides a valuable resource on understanding the traditional Orthodox teaching.

Thanks for sharing. 

Where do you get your information that this is somehow an official catechism?  Where does it say that it is the only catechism endorsed by all jurisdictions?  Maybe it is the only one that happens to have positive endorsements by hierarchs of all the jurisdictions but SCOBA may not have any encyclical or whatever?  How do you know that others aren't good just because they haven't been mentioned?  I would further purport that The Faith is not a catechism per se but just a catechetical book.  It's only a catechism because Carlton wrote it and says it is.  I would doubt the worthiness of a priest who ONLY recommended The Faith for a catechism and not just one of many books.

More to the point though...Matthew, I really don't think most here really think Creation is that important of  subject that we need to discuss it that much....or that everyone here just thinks your conclusion is wrong.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2006, 05:37:19 PM by ozgeorge » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2006, 02:13:46 PM »

The Faith is most certainly NOT endorsed "by all Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States." In fact, I seriously doubt that it is endorsed by a single Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States.

Now, a variety of individual Eastern Orthodox bishops, from most of the larger jurisdictions in the USA (but not all!), have written appreciative blurbs for the back-cover of the book, but that is a far cry from an "endorsement" from a jurisdiction’s governing body itself. As far as I know, no Synod of any kind has endorsed the book in any way; nor has any Synod endorsed this book as a "catechism." That would be silly, since, as others have pointed out, it is not even a catechism.

That aside, I have used the book in the past. It's good for book clubs and theological discussion groups, but it is not above question.
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« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2006, 02:33:27 PM »

The Faith is most certainly NOT endorsed "by all Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States." In fact, I seriously doubt that it is endorsed by a single Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States.
Quote
Carlton, Clark. The Faith: Understanding Orthodox Christianity, An Orthodox Catechism (Faith Catechism Series). Endorsed by Archbp. DMITRI (OCA), Bp. ISAIAH (GOA), Bp. BASIL (AOA), and Archim. Peter (ROCOR). Salisbury, MA: Regina Orthodox Press, 1997. ISBN 0964914115
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Orthodox_Catechisms_in_English
Quote
FAITH SERIES, , Clark Carlton (Editorial Committee of the Faith Series: Metropolitan Isaiah (GOA Denver), Archbishop Dimitri (OCA Dallas), and Bishop Basil (Antiochian Archdiocese Wichita) $22.95 EACH (Regina Orthodox Press)

VOLUME 1, THE FAITH: UNDERSTANDING ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY - AN ORTHODOX CATECHISM A comprehensive Orthodox Catechism approved by all jurisdictions. Quite simply, The Faith is the best single-volume introduction to Orthodoxy in the English language. This book is beautifully written and truly answers the question, "What is it that you Orthodox believe?" Perfect for inquirers and study groups, high-school and up. 288pp
http://www.iconbook.org/Catechetical.html

Please forgive me if I've mispoken.

More to the point though...Matthew, I really don't think most here really think Creation is that important of  subject that we need to discuss it that much....or that everyone here just thinks your conclusion is wrong.

Given that understanding how we got here is necessary for understanding who we are, why we are here in this fallen world, and where we are going, this subject is considerably important. I don't desire to start an argument, but to share what I read in this catechism, which I have so far found very helpful in understanding Orthodoxy. 

Peace.
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« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2006, 02:56:11 PM »

(Why do I even bother? Does this kid read English?)

Endorsed by Archbp. DMITRI (OCA), Bp. ISAIAH (GOA), Bp. BASIL (AOA), and Archim. Peter (ROCOR).

First, those are bishops, not synods, not governing bodies of jurisdictions. It is certainly noteworthy that four individual bishops have offered their personal comments of appreciation, but such does not constitute an endorsement from any Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction.

I repeat: The Faith has never been adopted as a catechism of any Orthodox Church on this Earth, much less "the Orthodox Catechism," as the title of this tread professes. At best, we can say: "This book has been read and appreciated by several bishops, representing four different Orthodox jurisdictions."

Second, we lack even these personal "endorsements" from any bishop whatsoever from many Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, viz. the Serbian Orthodox Church in the USA and Canada, the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in America & Canada, the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church, the Carpatho Russian Orthodox Diocese in the USA, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, and the Albanian Orthodox Diocese of America -- all of which are sitting and voting members of SCOBA.

Thus, it is demonstrably false to claim that this book has been endorsed by all jurisdictions on both of these counts.

Conclusion: Several individual bishops, who happen to come from four different jurisdications, have read and appreciated this book. No synodal body, no jurisdiction-wide authority of any kind has ever considered the matter.

VOLUME 1, THE FAITH: UNDERSTANDING ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY - AN ORTHODOX CATECHISM A comprehensive Orthodox Catechism approved by all jurisdictions.

An editor may write something on the cover of a book in order to entice people to buy it, but that does not make it true. Use some common sense.
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2006, 03:15:45 PM »

An editor may write something on the cover of a book in order to entice people to buy it, but that does not make it true. Use some common sense.

If your objection is to the conclusions of the chapter, please PM me with an explanation. I have not meant to spread contentiousness, and I'm sorry if that is how it appears.

Peace.
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2006, 03:22:42 PM »

Thanks, pensateomnia.

M777,
Carlton's "Catechism" is in no way comparable to, for example, the official Roman Catholic Catechism or whatever.    It is A catechism that he wrote - not THE catechism.
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2006, 03:27:55 PM »

Carlton's "Catechism" is in no way comparable to, for example, the official Roman Catholic Catechism or whatever.    It is A catechism that he wrote - not THE catechism.

I understand that. But it isn't only Carlton who wrote it, he did have Orthodox bishops as his editorial board, and the final product was approved by them. Even if it isn't approved by all Eastern Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, it's the closest in being able to make that claim. Again, if your main objection is to the conclusions of the chapter, please PM me.

Peace.
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« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2006, 05:28:18 PM »

I understand that.
No you don't Matthew. You do not understand what anyone is trying to tell you.
There is NO Orthodox Catechism.
And hell will freeze over before I accept as definitively Orthodox the ideas of someone called "Clark"....when is his Feast Day?
Again, if your main objection is to the conclusions of the chapter, please PM me.
Well, since you want people to pm their responses about Clarks ideas, then this thread is clearly about your claim that Clark's book is the Orthodox Catechism. So I'll adjust the title to be clearer for you. (No need to thank me).
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« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2006, 05:48:21 PM »

Clark's Orthodox name is "Ignatius" I believe yet he didn't feel it was important enough to use on his Orthodox catechism or other books I guess.
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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2006, 06:01:11 PM »

Clark's Orthodox name is "Ignatius" I believe yet he didn't feel it was important enough to use on his Orthodox catechism or other books I guess.
Perhaps then it was "the old man" that should have been "put off" who wrote these books, and not a son of the Church. Wink
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« Reply #11 on: November 21, 2006, 06:32:35 PM »

If your objection is to the conclusions of the chapter, please PM me with an explanation. I have not meant to spread contentiousness, and I'm sorry if that is how it appears.

Peace.

I don't think we care about the conclusions of the chapter, but you're welcome to argue with yourself about the importance if you so desire.
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« Reply #12 on: November 21, 2006, 06:55:13 PM »

but you're welcome to argue with yourself about the importance if you so desire.

Yet more support for the Matthew A and Matthew B theory:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10147.msg138088.html#msg138088

(especially replies #8 and #12)
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« Reply #13 on: November 22, 2006, 12:06:43 AM »

Again, please forgive me if I've been mistaken. A book from an Orthodox publishing company, which claims to have the approval of all Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States, which was edited by and approved by bishops from each jurisdiction, may not qualify as THE official catechism, but perhaps it is the next best thing. If its contents are contrary to traditional Orthodox theology, then perhaps its editorial board of Eastern Orthodox bishops should have been reprimanded, and your concerns should be against them rather than me. Please do not make the effort to argue against anything and everything I say, it's not that worthwhile.

Peace.
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« Reply #14 on: November 22, 2006, 12:10:26 AM »

>>>A book from an Orthodox publishing company,

A private publishing company.

>>>which claims to have the approval of all Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States

I made the moon. Robert claims to have made Mars-Pluto. Fr Chris takes credit for Mercury, Venus and Earth.  Therefore, all OCnet Admins claim to have made the Planets.

>>>which was edited by and approved by bishops from each jurisdiction

Does it say edited? I missed that part.  Approved by one bishop per jurisdiction, of three or four jurisdictions, and not all jurisdictions. Approved AS an official catechism or approved AS a good catechism? Does that make it infallible?

>>>may not qualify as the official catechism, but perhaps it is the next best thing.

May.  Perhaps. But is not official. Besides, I thought you didn't like arguments from authority.
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« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2006, 12:17:51 AM »

Rather than continue the merry-go-round on whether it is official or not, I would like to ask: to those who have read it, does it accurately represent Orthodox teaching? And are there trustworthy, official authorities that weigh in on books purporting to represent Orthodox teaching? I've always wondered this. Not all books are faithful.
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« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2006, 12:23:36 AM »

Does it say edited? I missed that part. 
Quote
FAITH SERIES, , Clark Carlton (Editorial Committee of the Faith Series: Metropolitan Isaiah (GOA Denver), Archbishop Dimitri (OCA Dallas), and Bishop Basil (Antiochian Archdiocese Wichita) $22.95 EACH (Regina Orthodox Press)
http://www.iconbook.org/Catechetical.html
Quote
I also wish to thank the Editorial Committee for their input and corrections. It is a rather daunting task to produce a book entitled The Faith - one which should be understood only with fear and trembling. It is, therefore, a great blessing to have the oversight of these venerable hierarchs, especially that of my own archpastor, Archbishop Dmitri of Dallas.
The Faith, Clark Carlton, p.18, Regina Orthodox Press, 1997

One should also read the forwards by each respective hierarch.

May.  Perhaps. But is not official.

I did not claim the catechism to be official, but the only one endorsed by each Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. So far, this contention has not been proved wrong.

Besides, I thought you didn't like arguments from authority.

You are correct, which is why the book's conclusions should be weighed against the traditional Orthodox understanding. If this book is in serious error, in either its words or its spirit, please explain why. But I do not want to enter another unfruitful debate over Creation and evolution.

Peace.
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« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2006, 12:28:33 AM »

Quote
I did not claim the catechism to be official, but the only one endorsed by each Eastern Orthodox jurisdiction in the United States. So far, this contention has not been proved wrong.

No, it was proved wrong and you don't accept it. A Synod has to approve it--not an individual hierarch. But I do tend to like the book.

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« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2006, 12:44:13 AM »

No, it was proved wrong and you don't accept it. A Synod has to approve it--not an individual hierarch.

Please address that concern to Regina Orthodox Press:

www.reginaorthodoxpress.com

But I do tend to like the book.

I do too, especially its explanation of the Holy Trinity. I'm glad that my local library carries a book like this, especially for potential converts who may accidently stumble upon it.

Peace.
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« Reply #19 on: November 22, 2006, 01:16:19 AM »

Please address that concern to Regina Orthodox Press:

www.reginaorthodoxpress.com

Matthew,
We don't need to do anything of this kind.  This is a book, written by a lay Orthodox author, endorsed by several individual hierarchs (NOT any Synod) and published by a private company that publishes (possibly exclusively) Orthodox books.  The publisher is NOT owned/run by SCOBA or an Orthodox Synod and the book is not an/the official catechism of any local Orthodox Church, Synod or SCOBA.  I'm sure Mr. Carlton is not under any illusions about any of this either nor is the publishing house or any of the hierarchs.  YOU are the only one confused about this.  Conciliar Press, Light N' Life and Uncut Mountain are also Orthodox publishers, but they do not put out any official Orthodox guides/books/etc either...and no one believes otherwise.
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