On Praying with Heretics...
I could offer my own commentary on these canons, but I'm sure everyone knows exactly what I'm going to say; furthermore, I've learned long ago that I can make the canons say whatever they want, so it's an exercise of little worth, unless you're actually looking to 'win' (which is usually the case with me, but not tonight). I'm willing to bet that I could argue, from the canons, many traditionalist posistions better than the overwhelming majority of people here, and perhaps even better than I could argue my own posistions; but while I dont know who those arguments might convince, they clearly wern't enough to convince me.
Now to the point:
Admittedly, some people approach this topic in a spirit of rules and regulations. For me, however, the central issues are fidelity to what we have been given (always cautious not to make our own beliefs) and mission.
I would agree, but where we probably disagree is in what we believe our mission to be. I do not believe that it is our mission to convert our neighbour, but rather to love him. And, no, I dont buy the propaganda that says if we love our neighbour we will proselytize him. We all know what love is, and we all know it isn't trying to force someone to think like we do. Of course, I do believe that if we truly love our neighbour we will bring about their conversion in this life or the next, or at least the Holy Spirit will through us, as we can not accomplish that on our own.
As a Catholic, I really believed the Orthodox thought we were ok and that we were on the verge of union. Ecumenism held me back from becoming Orthodox. I don't want this to happen to anyone else.
Well, we may not be as close as you once thought...but in the past hundred years we've been the closest we've been since the Great Schism. Would not the restoration of communion be a great thing? It would not bring only a handful back into the Church, but much of the world. Surely that is a goal worth striving for?
Branch theorism obscures the faith and gives a false hope to the non-Orthodox instead of offering them the chance to accept Orthodoxy on its own terms.
I don't think anyone here has adovcated 'Branch Theorism,' least of all myself. I did not say that the Orthodox Church was not the fullness of the faith Christ gave us, I did not say that the Church was incomplete, I did not suggest any equality between the Orthodox Church and other churches or faiths, nor did I suggest any dependency of the former on the latter.
What I did say is that God is bigger than even his Church, that while the Church may hold the fullness of the faith and be blessed with the overabundant Grace of God, she does not, in a limiting fashion, contain God. Furthermore, I asserted that the Love of God transcends all, including the dogmas and and teachings of the Church; and, thus, that the Love of Christ can be expressed and experienced by those who are outside the Church, and the fact that they are outside the Church, does not make the Divine Love any less real, uplifting, or edifying.
That you GisC could advise someone to go elsewhere even for a time shows me that branch theorism has truly matured into down to earth day to day fruition.
I dont believe I actually advised anyone to do any such thing, but rather when confronted with one who had made this decision I choose to respond in love rather than condemnation. Now I'll admit, as I don't have too much experience in this whole 'love' thing (other than using it as an abstract concept to shove down other's throats, of course
), so I probably made a mess of it...I probably would have looked more elegant if I had simply found four or five good anathemas to read off with a bit of rhetorical flare, I'm actually good at that. However, I dont believe I actually said anying that was untrue. I expressed the omnipresent nature of God and transcending nature of Divine Love. I expressed my concern at the lack of Divine Love often experienced from some Orthodox Christians (surely you've met one or two people like that). And I expressed that I did not believe in the mantra 'no salvation outside the Church,' and that God would not simply condemn someone to hell because of difficulities they encountered in their spiritual struggles (some may think that to be heretical, but, as you could probably have guessed from some of my previous posts, I clearly do not).
However, if charity is the logical result of 'Branch Theorism,' perhaps we should take a second look at it...
Please, think about what you are doing and saying. Think about the fact that you are deciding who is worth offering the fullness of Orthodoxy and who is not in a sense.
That is not at all what I was deciding. Rather I was saying the we welcome all, but force none to come to us. We offer all a home, but force none to stay. And while we may grieve to see someone depart, we maintain home for their salvation, because we know of the Greatness of our God. And while anathemas may be most appropriate for heresiarchs who openly opposes the Christian Church, they are not appropriate for those who are merely struggling in their faith and convictions.