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Author Topic: So, I walked out in the middle of services yesterday...  (Read 9055 times) Average Rating: 0
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Gabriel
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« on: December 08, 2006, 01:01:10 AM »

Yep, I did it.  It's disrespectful and shameful, but I did it anyway.

I'm currently at a crossroads.  A few of you know my situation.  I mostly don't post, but only read this forum.

The base point that I stand behind for my spiritual journey is Veritas non cambitis (Truth does not change).  I'm tired of reading non-Chalcedonian articles and I'm tired of reading Chalcedonian articles.  I shouldn't have to read pages upon pages of information to figure out which church to join.  Shouldn't truth Himself make it apparent where he wants you to worship him?  You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden...

He said the way is narrow.  Well, apparently I can't even find where it starts to begin walking down it.

The Coptic church I've attended is very ethnically Coptic.  I stick out like a Germanic-Saxon light bulb.  I don't read Arabic.  I don't speak Arabic.  I don't speak Coptic, except for maybe 2 or 3 phrases.  I live in America, and naturally, I speak English... fluently.

When the Wednesday "mostly English" service was being said in Arabic, many people were singing along.  I was not.  I could not understand, because I don't speak Arabic, as I've stated.  When the deacon who walks around telling people what page that day's psalm reading was going to be on, he told me in Arabic.  Three times.  As I said, I don't speak Arabic.  Everyone's just happily singing along, except me.

So, I got frustrated, put my shoes on, crossed myself, bowed towards the altar, and left.

Then, I decided to stop at the Antiochian church that's about 15 minutes down the interstate, and spoke with the priest.  They use all English.  They are 99% converts.  They are Byzantine.  However, I like the theology of the OO churches better.  I like the icons of the OO churches, too (not that I think Greek or Russian icons are unpleasant).  Furthermore, I cannot stomach listening to EOs call OOs "monophysites" and Severus of Antioch a "monophysite heretic," anymore than I could stand someone calling EOs "crypto- semi- quasi- Nestorians."

So, I emailed the priest of the Coptic church, expressing my concerns.  That's the second part of the "canned answers."  Pray and talk to a priest.  He told me, "I have no idea what to tell you."

Terrific.

He stated that he hated to lose me (as will I, he's very nice) and His Grace the Bishop is wanting to evangelize.  He and I came to a common understanding about the Coptic church's attempts to evangelize at the moment:

It is in its infancy in America compared to EOs.
It will be a haven to Copts fleeing Muslim persecutions.
A grand majority of these will not speak Engish, thus necessitating using Arabic for their benefit.
This will cause great difficulty in European descended Americans converting because most southerners like myself will not stand there and listen to an Arabic service.
The use of English will never take precedence over Arabic due to reasons 2 and 3, without multiple churches in the area.

If the OO Communion is the correct Orthodox faith, then the Church should be like a Mother to me, yes?
If I don't understand what my Mother is speaking to me, then how will I have a relationship with her?

The priest of the Antiochian church, upon my mentioning of the Council of Chalcedon, stated that the council is so full of minutiae and politics that it's difficult to figure out what's going on, and that most scholars today state that the only reason the division happened was due to semantics and politics.  He also stated that he can commune Copts who approach his altar, though he cannot serve in a Coptic church.

I'm not a great logician, but I can deduce a few things:

There is only One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
There are not two.  There is one.
If the OO are incorrect, then why is there limited inter-communion?  If the OO are incorrect, then what's the point of "Orthodox Unity?"  Why does the EO accept Cyril of Alexandria as Orthodox, and not recognize OOs who proclaim Cyril's miaphysite christology as Orthodox and Eutyches as a heretic?
If the EO are incorrect, and the OO are the Church, then what's the point of "Orthodox Unity?"  If the EO are incorrect, then my country has been without the true church up until the last 50 years or so.  I will have to bide my time and wait for native born Copts to become priests that will have to be bi-lingual.

If both are correct, then the Body of Christ has truly been split by men, under "the guidance of the holy spirit making it ecumenical," and the Gates of Hades have triumphed, and we're all going straight to Hell.

If both are incorrect, then the Body of Christ never existed, and the Gates of Hades have triumped, and we're all going straight to Hell.

If the Gates of Hades have triumphed, then Jesus Christ is a liar.  If Jesus Christ is a liar concerning the foundation of His church, then he is not God.

If Jesus Christ is God, and has watched men split the Body of Christ, and then has not fixed it and let it remain that way, then He is malicious and cruel.

Yes, I am running on pure emotion, because this is my heart on an electronic message board, and my intellect is fatigued badly.

Yes, I am anxious, nervous, and on the verge of the deepest, darkest despair of my life because this is the last stop of the line.

Yes, I have prayed.  Yes, I am praying.  Yes, I will pray, until my despair overwhelmes me.

Yes, I have talked to priests.  Four that I can think of off the top of my head.

No, I do not know why I posted this.  No one reads this forum anyway.

Yes, I fully expect (in the rare event that someone does read this forum) to be chastized, told to grow up, told to deal with it, told to be patient with God, told to have faith, told that I'm disrespectful for posting this, told that I need to log off the internet and do something else for a while, or not told anything because no one knows the answer to this exceedingly long post that reeks of teenage emo-esque angst.

Yes, I have accepted the fact that I may go to the nuthouse soon.  It will be the same situation, except jello and thorazine will have been added.

I could die in five minutes of writing this.  I am not baptised.  My wife is not baptised.  My child is not baptised. 

Yes, I have a lot of pressure on me to find a home for not only my soul, but my family's as well.  Thus, yes, I think it's important to figure out where to call home.

That is, if a home even exists.

Psalm 130
A Song of Ascents.
 1 Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
 2 Lord, hear my voice!
         Let Your ears be attentive
         To the voice of my supplications.
         
 3 If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
         O Lord, who could stand?
 4 But there is forgiveness with You,
         That You may be feared.
         
 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
         And in His word I do hope.
 6 My soul waits for the Lord
         More than those who watch for the morning—
         Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
         
 7 O Israel, hope in the LORD;
         For with the LORD there is mercy,
         And with Him is abundant redemption.
 8 And He shall redeem Israel
         From all his iniquities.

 :'(

« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 01:07:56 AM by Gabriel » Logged

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tgild
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2006, 01:15:24 AM »

One of the best posts I have read on here...or anywhere.

Postolowka
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falafel333
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2006, 01:22:14 AM »

Dear Gabriel,

I can commiserate with the struggles and challenges that you are currently experiencing and I'm sure that there are an abundant many who are experiencing many a same struggle as your own. I suppose most importantly is that we understand that on this journey of life we are to expect to encounter many hurdles and obstacles that need to be overcome and that the spiritual life is no exception to the rule. I think that once we are resigned to this fact then we would be able to better confront life's many challenges. I think it's also important to know that churches don't simply reflect doctrine but that they also reflect spirituality, social mindsets and culture and while we may find a fit in one area it may not be so good in another. I think that the churches of the book of Revelation are a perfect example of this. I tend to like to think that I'm gonna try new things, within limits of course, experiment and explore and see what fits best, what suits me the most and what I'm most comfortable with. I suppose that this is the general rule that applies to life in general and we definitely have our moments of upset and frustration when we fail or don't find the right fit, whether it's with friends, relationships, work or even church and spirituality. So I suppose you're just gonna have to nut out what exactly you're looking for, in terms of yourself and your family, research, speak to people, experience the church life, try to discover which church best meets your needs, pray earnestly, face your frustrations, understand that any church will have a human element within it which may cause stumble and then settle in that place which you feel you can most likely call home...

God bless you on your journey...
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jlerms
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2006, 01:40:42 AM »

falafel333,  I think that Gabriel's problem is not "finding the right fit"  but a more essential desire to know the Truth.  Where is the True Apostolic Church.

juliana
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2006, 02:03:01 AM »

The Grace of God supplies knowledge books cannot provide. The Logos reveals Himself in he who invokes his name within. Keep praying, and praying. Be angry. Be frustrated. Get annoyed. But do not sin. Pray. Keep struggling, keep attending services. Pray. Keep speaking to the priests; approach Bishops if necessary. And pray. Until you find the Church you wish to make your home, make your home a Church. Fast and pray.

I guess incidents like this highlight the cruel reality of the division that separates our Churches. I read your post, and I feel it. And it saddens me. We neither want to deny that division exists, nor do we want to exaggerate and accentuate it unecessarily and unreasonably.

If the Coptic Church in your area is suffering from an inability to reach out to the wider community because of the ethnic problem, maybe you could be the start of a solution. Then again, you have your own spiritual life, and that of your family to consider first. I feel like telling you, "it doesn't matter where you go Gabriel, pick wherever you feel you will best achieve your theosis". I wish I could tell you that, though I cannot in good conscience.

I obviously feel very strongly about the Orthodoxy, Apostolicity, Catholicity, and Sanctity of the Oriental Orthodox Church. I experience it daily, uninhibited by the obstacles that evidently have a profoundly negative affect on you. However, I cannot draw a black and white conclusion on the EO's. It sounds easy to mechanically and strictly apply the standard ecclesiological formula: "Communion with us = Orthodox, therefore, not in Communion with us = heteredox". When I read the approach taken by our heirarchs, however, they seem to be lead in a very different direction. His Grace Bishop Youssef of the Southern Diocese of Northern America has, in personal dialogue with me, expressed his belief that the EO's are of the Church. He has gone further to tell me that His Holiness Pope Shenouda III is considering the proposition of accepting EO baptisms. Nonetheless, we feel very strongly about our Christology. Our defence of the Fathers, such as Sts. Dioscoros and Severos, are increasingly ardent. There is a paradox here; I cannot explain it with reference to Patristics. I cannot draw verses from the Scriptures. I can't quote any canons. I can only observe the manner in which the Holy Spirit seems to be leading us.

Keep praying. Make your home a Church till you make a Church your home. Do Tasbeha, fast, and pray.
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« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2006, 02:07:28 AM »

Don't get caught up in the Chalcedon controversy.  It is such a red herring for those seeking the Orthodox faith.  Set it aside and try not to think about it.  It makes nice debating on internet forums, but it has very little to do with the day to day spiritual life of most Orhodox Christians.

I am one of those who considers both the OO's and EO's to be Orthodox, so as far as I am concerned you can't go wrong with either the Coptic or Antiochian Churches.  I am not normally in the habit of telling someone to go to a different church than mine, and I know some of my fellow OO's won't like me saying this, but if you are more at home linguistically and culturally in the Antiochian Church, go there.  It's better than never getting baptized, or giving up on Orthodoxy altogether.

The thing with OO churches is that they are mostly composed of very recent immigrants and have assimilated less than the EO's.  Also, because we are more obscure, most people looking into Eastern Christianity overlook us.  The result is that you won't find OO's churches as accomodating to converts as EO's.  

In fact, I would say that the Coptic churches I have been to are better at using English and welcoming non-ethnic people than other OO churches I have been to.  The Armenian Church, which is my own church, uses only Classical Armenian in her services.  At my own parish, if an anglo saxon wonders in, everyone basically turns around and stares at him for the whole service, or until the poor guy leaves.  Again, it's a recent immigrant thing, and it's not that easy to overcome.

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Salpy
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« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2006, 03:20:34 AM »

For my personal take on whether the OO's or EO's or both are the true Apostolic Church, see my post #7 in another thread:


http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,7942.0.html
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Matthew777
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« Reply #7 on: December 08, 2006, 03:30:54 AM »

In my opinion, the most important part of the Church is liturgical life. If you are not able to follow the Coptic liturgy, and actually prefer the Antiochian liturgy, wouldn't the Antiochian church be the better church for you? I believe that liturgical life is much more important than the petty Christological squabbles of the past. I might be chastized in saying this, but maybe even an Eastern Catholic congregation would be right for you. You have plenty of time to find the right church for you, just be open to the Spirit.

Peace.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 03:35:32 AM by Matthew777 » Logged

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lubeltri
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« Reply #8 on: December 08, 2006, 03:53:28 AM »

Yep, I did it.  It's disrespectful and shameful, but I did it anyway.

I'm currently at a crossroads.  A few of you know my situation.  I mostly don't post, but only read this forum.

The base point that I stand behind for my spiritual journey is Veritas non cambitis (Truth does not change).  I'm tired of reading non-Chalcedonian articles and I'm tired of reading Chalcedonian articles.  I shouldn't have to read pages upon pages of information to figure out which church to join.  Shouldn't truth Himself make it apparent where he wants you to worship him?  You are the light of the world; a city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden...

He said the way is narrow.  Well, apparently I can't even find where it starts to begin walking down it.

The Coptic church I've attended is very ethnically Coptic.  I stick out like a Germanic-Saxon light bulb.  I don't read Arabic.  I don't speak Arabic.  I don't speak Coptic, except for maybe 2 or 3 phrases.  I live in America, and naturally, I speak English... fluently.

When the Wednesday "mostly English" service was being said in Arabic, many people were singing along.  I was not.  I could not understand, because I don't speak Arabic, as I've stated.  When the deacon who walks around telling people what page that day's psalm reading was going to be on, he told me in Arabic.  Three times.  As I said, I don't speak Arabic.  Everyone's just happily singing along, except me.

So, I got frustrated, put my shoes on, crossed myself, bowed towards the altar, and left.

Then, I decided to stop at the Antiochian church that's about 15 minutes down the interstate, and spoke with the priest.  They use all English.  They are 99% converts.  They are Byzantine.  However, I like the theology of the OO churches better.  I like the icons of the OO churches, too (not that I think Greek or Russian icons are unpleasant).  Furthermore, I cannot stomach listening to EOs call OOs "monophysites" and Severus of Antioch a "monophysite heretic," anymore than I could stand someone calling EOs "crypto- semi- quasi- Nestorians."

So, I emailed the priest of the Coptic church, expressing my concerns.  That's the second part of the "canned answers."  Pray and talk to a priest.  He told me, "I have no idea what to tell you."

Terrific.

He stated that he hated to lose me (as will I, he's very nice) and His Grace the Bishop is wanting to evangelize.  He and I came to a common understanding about the Coptic church's attempts to evangelize at the moment:

It is in its infancy in America compared to EOs.
It will be a haven to Copts fleeing Muslim persecutions.
A grand majority of these will not speak Engish, thus necessitating using Arabic for their benefit.
This will cause great difficulty in European descended Americans converting because most southerners like myself will not stand there and listen to an Arabic service.
The use of English will never take precedence over Arabic due to reasons 2 and 3, without multiple churches in the area.

If the OO Communion is the correct Orthodox faith, then the Church should be like a Mother to me, yes?
If I don't understand what my Mother is speaking to me, then how will I have a relationship with her?

The priest of the Antiochian church, upon my mentioning of the Council of Chalcedon, stated that the council is so full of minutiae and politics that it's difficult to figure out what's going on, and that most scholars today state that the only reason the division happened was due to semantics and politics.  He also stated that he can commune Copts who approach his altar, though he cannot serve in a Coptic church.

I'm not a great logician, but I can deduce a few things:

There is only One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.
There are not two.  There is one.
If the OO are incorrect, then why is there limited inter-communion?  If the OO are incorrect, then what's the point of "Orthodox Unity?"  Why does the EO accept Cyril of Alexandria as Orthodox, and not recognize OOs who proclaim Cyril's miaphysite christology as Orthodox and Eutyches as a heretic?
If the EO are incorrect, and the OO are the Church, then what's the point of "Orthodox Unity?"  If the EO are incorrect, then my country has been without the true church up until the last 50 years or so.  I will have to bide my time and wait for native born Copts to become priests that will have to be bi-lingual.

If both are correct, then the Body of Christ has truly been split by men, under "the guidance of the holy spirit making it ecumenical," and the Gates of Hades have triumphed, and we're all going straight to Hell.

If both are incorrect, then the Body of Christ never existed, and the Gates of Hades have triumped, and we're all going straight to Hell.

If the Gates of Hades have triumphed, then Jesus Christ is a liar.  If Jesus Christ is a liar concerning the foundation of His church, then he is not God.

If Jesus Christ is God, and has watched men split the Body of Christ, and then has not fixed it and let it remain that way, then He is malicious and cruel.

Yes, I am running on pure emotion, because this is my heart on an electronic message board, and my intellect is fatigued badly.

Yes, I am anxious, nervous, and on the verge of the deepest, darkest despair of my life because this is the last stop of the line.

Yes, I have prayed.  Yes, I am praying.  Yes, I will pray, until my despair overwhelmes me.

Yes, I have talked to priests.  Four that I can think of off the top of my head.

No, I do not know why I posted this.  No one reads this forum anyway.

Yes, I fully expect (in the rare event that someone does read this forum) to be chastized, told to grow up, told to deal with it, told to be patient with God, told to have faith, told that I'm disrespectful for posting this, told that I need to log off the internet and do something else for a while, or not told anything because no one knows the answer to this exceedingly long post that reeks of teenage emo-esque angst.

Yes, I have accepted the fact that I may go to the nuthouse soon.  It will be the same situation, except jello and thorazine will have been added.

I could die in five minutes of writing this.  I am not baptised.  My wife is not baptised.  My child is not baptised. 

Yes, I have a lot of pressure on me to find a home for not only my soul, but my family's as well.  Thus, yes, I think it's important to figure out where to call home.

That is, if a home even exists.

Get yourself baptized, my friend, preferably in an OO, EO, or RC church. The grace conferred through baptism may provide an answer to your uncertainty. At the very least, in the meantime, you will have entered the Body of Christ (what joy!). The Lord will lead you in due time.

You are in my prayers.

Your brother in Christ,
Lubeltri
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2006, 04:45:32 AM »

Quote
Get yourself baptized, my friend, preferably in an OO, EO, or RC church. The grace conferred through baptism may provide an answer to your uncertainty. At the very least, in the meantime, you will have entered the Body of Christ (what joy!). The Lord will lead you in due time.

I'm sorry, but I don't think that's a very prudent solution to offer (no offence); a little hasty I say. Gabriel's whole dilemma is discerning where he should get baptised in the first place. The Grace which operates through prayer, fasting, praise, persistence, diligence, perserverence and all other virtues, is sufficient to lead him where he needs to be according to Heaven's timetable.
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« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2006, 05:45:48 AM »

I was under the impression that he was already committed to Christianity. I don't care what church you become part of, if you desire in your heart to become a Christian, you are called to baptism. I would rather he and his family receive baptism than spend several years wondering what church to join.
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« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2006, 08:05:57 AM »

I have just read Salpy's arguement on the link he has posted, and it is almost exactly what I was just going to say. The fact that both the EO and OO have the same faith, after over a thousand years on non communication, is truly a testiment to the power of the Truth within the Holy Spirit.

I'm not well educated in church history as many of you are, but from what I understand, it appears that what caused the split in Chalcedon is now regarded as an error of communication and translation, and not one of belief, correct? Now you ask how is it that God allows two seperate churches to both be correct? But what if they are not two seperate churches? What if this "schism" really doesn't exist the way we think it does, and is actually something imaginary we created?

We Orthodox do not believe in the authority of men. All our authority is actually God's authority. I think it is incorrect when we say that the Church is the authority on interpreting Scripture, for why interpret words when we have gotten the meaning directly from the author? When we celebrate the eucharist, it is not the priest or deacons who changes the bread and wine to the Body and Blood, but it is becuase of the prayers and faith of the priest and church members that God changes it. When we confess to a priest, it is not the priest who forgives us but God. When we Baptise our new members, it is not the priest who gives the convert the Holy Spirit, it is God. When the Church grants a couple an annulment, are they really exerting any authority of their own? No, all the Church is doing is coming to the conclusion that God never caused this marraige to occur. Even the nature of the Councils themselves are testimony of this. The Councils do not create truth, they just exist so we can all reaffirm what the truth that has been given to us is. To be Orthodox is to admit that we are nothing without God, and all our "authority" is a lie if it were not given to us by God.

Thus, when our priests and bishops make a mistake, it does not cause God to make a mistake. If a priest tells a confessing lay person that he is forgiven during Confession, yet the confessor has lied to the priest and he is not truly repentant, is the confessor really forgiven? No, for God is not fooled by incorrect knowledge, such as is possible in the case of the priest. If a bishop grants a couple an annulment but in reality the grounds for the annulment are a lie created by the couple to trick the bishop, is the marriage really annulled? No! Thus, if the bishops supporting Chalcedon and those against it excommunicate each other due to false knowledge, are the excommunications really valid? I would have to say no, for God is not tricked by men's limited knowledge.

What I'm trying to get at is you cannot look at the Orthodox Church as somehow exerting some kind of authority of it's own. God is the only source of power we have. We do not create Truth by our words, but God creates Truth with His. When God says "Let there be light", there is light. When God says "Let there be stars", there are stars. When Jesus says to the Roman "Your daughter is not dead, but asleep", then she is not dead, but asleep. When Jesus says to the cruxified man on the right "Today you will be with me in paradise", then today that man is with Him in paradise. And if God says the EO and OO are one, then all our reasoning and human thinking and faulty logic of why it cannot be so doesn't change a thing, we are one.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2006, 08:19:16 AM by FHL » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2006, 09:09:00 AM »

Quote
I don't care what church you become part of

Well Gabriel obviously cares....

Quote
I would rather he and his family receive baptism than spend several years wondering what church to join.

I would rather he and his family properly discern God's will from the beginning so that they can join the right Church for them and stick with it for life.
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EkhristosAnesti
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« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2006, 09:13:16 AM »

FHL,

Quote
And if God says the EO and OO are one, then all our reasoning and human thinking and faulty logic of why it cannot be so doesn't change a thing, we are one.

That's all well and good, but the question is when and how has God conclusively declared that the EOC and the OOC are definitely one?

I will admit that the situation is not as clear cut as many would like it to be, but we can't go around making absolute statements regarding our two Churches being One without substantial basis.
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« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2006, 09:31:09 AM »

Yes, that's true. I thought of that when I wrote that statement, hence why I said "If God says". I didn't elaborate on it though, which is my mistake. It could very well be possible that they are not one. If we knew for sure, then we'd both be in communion with each other right now.

What I was trying to get at with that whole thing was specifically in reply to this statement:
Quote
If both are correct, then the Body of Christ has truly been split by men, under "the guidance of the holy spirit making it ecumenical," and the Gates of Hades have triumphed, and we're all going straight to Hell.

But, correct me if I'm wrong, if what happened at the council of Chalcedon was a mistake, and we both had the same beliefs, then is it possible that there never really was a schism in the first place? Like how if a married couple gets a civil divorce, they are still married, even though everyone in the world might think something different? Maybe this whole schism between us is really just a civil divorce, something that isn't real? If we say we are split, could it be that God says otherwise, and we are not split?

I also made the mistake in making it seem like there was a certain time that God declared both the EO and OO as One, which is not what appears to be the conclusion. If there was no difference and beliefs, and therefore no real schism created, then what I meant with that statement is that we were One always, and they never seperated. Hence, God therefore says we are One, contrary to what anyone else says.

Of course, we must first find out if this is indeed true, which is what I think our Churches are trying to do. But just as we can't say for sure that we are both One, I don't think we can just rule out the possibility.

It is also possible that I am completely wrong on the way Church authority works, which do inform me if I am.

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« Reply #15 on: December 08, 2006, 10:05:55 AM »

If I don't understand what my Mother is speaking to me, then how will I have a relationship with her?
But you didn't understand what your own mother was saying as she held you as a babe in her arms and nursed you and sang to you....Yet you still had a relationship with her....and gradually, you learned to speak your mothers language by listening to her and spending time with her and wanting to express yourself to her.
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« Reply #16 on: December 08, 2006, 11:32:51 AM »

I have just read Salpy's arguement on the link he has posted, and it is almost exactly what I was just going to say. The fact that both the EO and OO have the same faith, after over a thousand years on non communication, is truly a testiment to the power of the Truth within the Holy Spirit.

I'm not well educated in church history as many of you are, but from what I understand, it appears that what caused the split in Chalcedon is now regarded as an error of communication and translation, and not one of belief, correct?

Not by everybody. http://www.orthodoxinfo.com/ecumenism/ea_mono.aspx
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« Reply #17 on: December 08, 2006, 11:47:07 AM »

Although I don't agree with luberti that the true Church exists in all three Churches: The EO, OO, and the CC, but I must say, I do agree that at some point one does need to take the plunge. You can never know that every decision that you make is perfectly in line with God's will in this life. You just have to do your best to follow him and serve him in your day to day walk and trust that our loving Father will lead you where you need to be. If you make a mistake in your choice, you know what, God is not out to get you. He is not trying to send anyone to hell. Infact, he is trying to get as many people into heaven as he possibly can. Of coure I am biased and believe that if you are gonna choose either the EO or the OO, you should choose the EO because its theology, in my opinion, is more developed with its acceptance of Chalcedon. But if you could choose from all three I would want you to choose the Catholic Church, but hey, that's not for me to decide. I only hope and pray that you do choose one of the Churches so that you can get on with the business of receiving the Sacraments/Mysteries and growing in the process of Sanctification/Deification.
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« Reply #18 on: December 08, 2006, 12:09:22 PM »

Although I don't agree with luberti that the true Church exists in all three Churches: The EO, OO, and the CC,

I wouldn't quite go that far.
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« Reply #19 on: December 08, 2006, 12:11:07 PM »

Yes, I have actually seen all those articles before, lubeltri. But they all depend on us being monophysites, which is wrong. It is true that not all of us agree, and like I stated, is probably the reason we're still not in communion with each other.
This isn't the place to discuss it though, and I'm sure it's been discussed to death, but I fear that my post may have caused us to deviate too far from the original concern, which was Gabriel's faith.
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« Reply #20 on: December 08, 2006, 01:14:38 PM »

I wouldn't quite go that far.
Sorry if I misunderstood you.
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« Reply #21 on: December 08, 2006, 09:22:40 PM »

Gabriel, I am going to tell you something. A bit harsh maybe, but needed.



Stop thinking about Chalcedon!!!!

It doesn't matter!!




Nobody cares. Sure, there may be a few ultra-orthodox on both sides who yell "Heretics! Burn in Hell!"

But no EO priest in their right mind would tell you the OO churches are bad. They aren't. Chalcedon was such a snafu that it's not even worth talking about anymore. Sure, it can be good internet conversation if you're looking for an argument.

But nothing more.

Give the Antiochians a chance. Especially if it's a convert church, you may feel more comfortable in a more American setting. I know I do. Don't get me wrong, I love Greek Culture. But I'd rather worship in English.

Remember, don't believe what you hear on the internet about Chalcedon. Heck, don't believe ANYTHING about it if you don't want to. Everything will have a slant.

Let's look at the differences here:

Christ had two natures, both equal and in perfect unity. Creating, in essence, one perfect nature.

Christ had one nature, period.

Now, is it really necessary to fight over that? We don't even know 100% if one or the other is true! I could care less. 98% of people could care less. It's just that noisy 2% who give each side a bad name in an argument that should have been solved a long time ago.


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« Reply #22 on: December 08, 2006, 09:34:21 PM »

Simayan man, you need to get out more. It ain't all about the internet buddy. Your parish may be all gaga and ecumenical but that doesn't mean all parishes consign serious things like Ecumenical Councils to personal whims and matters of opinion. We're not Protestants that can decide to accept or deny that which we desire. Syncretism never helped anyone.  The same Orthodox fathers that brought the Bible and the liturgy down to you brought down the Council of Chalcedon. Who are YOU to determine that it is not necessary for you to believe it?
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« Reply #23 on: December 08, 2006, 09:45:36 PM »

Quote
The same Orthodox fathers that brought the Bible and the liturgy down to you brought down the Council of Chalcedon.

Is breaking forum rules an Administrator's privilege? Wink
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« Reply #24 on: December 08, 2006, 09:53:47 PM »

Anastasios,

Let me just say that I am so glad you contributed.  Why is it that the EO on this forum seem so willing to concede everything RCs and OOs throw at them?  I mean, the great "theologian" contributors seem to be Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox who think that the Church is Universalist. 

Eastern Orthodox on this forum have all but conceded the primacy of Chalcedonian Orthodoxy, which is really depressing.  Aren't we bound by the vows of our baptism as Orthodox to recognize the Seven Holy Ecumenical Councils?

Can we as Eastern Orthodox, say with one of our saints that we venerate the Four Ecumenical Councils as the Four Gospels themselves?  If not, are we perhaps in the wrong Church? 

Forgive me, but this seems to be a real problem here (not that we should be argumentative about stuff)-- it's like the Orthodox here don't really think their Church is the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church that we profess in the Creed.  Chalcedon is a "snafu"?  I pretty much thought of it as an INTEGRAL part of what makes us Orthodox.  I mean, the only reason that any Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox dialogue is productive, is because they now concede that Chalcedon's formula was Orthodox-- the EOs will NEVER give it up because it is part of what defines Orthodoxy. 

The people that think otherwise need to stop reading "orthodoxunity.org" as their Gospel and actually go talk to our real theologians, the monks.
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« Reply #25 on: December 08, 2006, 09:59:04 PM »

Quote
I mean, the only reason that any Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox dialogue is productive, is because they now concede that Chalcedon's formula was Orthodox

Concession is two-way, remember that. You either take the Agreements as they are, or you reject them all together.
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« Reply #26 on: December 08, 2006, 10:02:11 PM »

Of course.  My point is that if the Eastern Orthodox thought that the Oriental Orthodox were requiring them to give up (or even poo-poo) Chalcedon, all but the nuttiest "theologians" would be out the door.
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« Reply #27 on: December 08, 2006, 10:10:04 PM »

EA,

Sorry--I didn't realize this was in the OO folder. Simayan is EO so I am thinking in that vein.  Of course you would use the reverse argument and that is fine--I respect the fact that we each stand up for the tradition of our Church.
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« Reply #28 on: December 08, 2006, 10:12:31 PM »

Quote
My point is that if the Eastern Orthodox thought that the Oriental Orthodox were requiring them to give up (or even poo-poo) Chalcedon, all but the nuttiest "theologians" would be out the door.

Well, I believe that likewise would be the case with the Oriental Orthodox were acceptance of Chalcedon as an Ecumenical Council to be imposed by the EO's as a pre-condition to re-union. Our Bishops have made it very clear that we, upon recognising the contemperory Orthodox understanding of Chalcedon, are willing to allow it to continue as part of the local conciliar tradition of the Chalcedonian Church. As far as we're concerned however, there is no grounds upon which Chalcedon can be fairly or reasonably upheld as Ecumenical in light of the recent Agreements which similarly recognise the Orthodoxy of our own Christological confessions and formulations and the Oriental Orthodox Fathers who, and Councils which, promoted them.
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« Reply #29 on: December 08, 2006, 10:34:27 PM »

I mean, the only reason that any Eastern Orthodox/Oriental Orthodox dialogue is productive, is because they now concede that Chalcedon's formula was Orthodox--  

Actually, it is not the formula that many OO's concede was Orthodox, but the EO interpretation of the formula after Constantinople II that we will concede is Orthodox.  At least that is my understanding.

O.K. I'm going to do my moderator thing and ask everyone to keep the discussion non-polemical.  If any EO's or OO's want to debate whether Chalcedon was Orthodox or ecumenical or whatever, feel free, but please do it in the private forum. 

Let's please focus on the original topic, which is what Church Gabriel would feel more comfortable in.
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« Reply #30 on: December 09, 2006, 12:44:27 AM »

I don't think I ever appreciated how lucky I am to have 3 Coptic Churches in driving distance that have English Liturgies, plus several others that have a reasonable mix between english & arabic.  If it helps at all, I don't think your impression of the state of being open to English and such is accurate for north america.  I'm sorry it's the case where you are, but here in sourthern ontario it's much easier to find an English Liturgy than an Arabic one, and I know this is the case in many other places too.

I don't think the fact that we're seperate means that one of us has to be wrong... There have been agreements between bishops and patriarchs that we have the same faith, and that we can make a joint statement of faith about the issues that caused problems at Chaldedon.  Unity would be very difficult for practical reasons (so many people raised thinking we're heretics, different practices that would clash, etc), and if it does happen it will probably take a very long time... But I hope you don't miss out on finding an Orthodox home suited to you because of human sin which has kept us divided for so long and which makes coming back together so slow.
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« Reply #31 on: December 09, 2006, 12:57:00 AM »

Anastasios,

Let me just say that I am so glad you contributed.  Why is it that the EO on this forum seem so willing to concede everything RCs and OOs throw at them?  I mean, the great "theologian" contributors seem to be Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox who think that the Church is Universalist. 

I am bound by my church to reject universalism.
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« Reply #32 on: December 09, 2006, 01:09:39 AM »

Let me just say that I am so glad you contributed.  Why is it that the EO on this forum seem so willing to concede everything RCs and OOs throw at them?  I mean, the great "theologian" contributors seem to be Roman Catholics, Oriental Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodox who think that the Church is Universalist.

And while I may be a universalist, I've never given the Non-Chalcedonians an inch...even when I agree with them Wink
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« Reply #33 on: December 09, 2006, 01:40:39 AM »

Gabrael

Your post is very coherent and spiritual.

I am sorry for your suffering.

I truely am.

Please stop looking for "The Church".

You are already in the Church.

All the things you are seeing and hearing. The good and the bad. The langauges and cultures....everything you are dealing with is the Church. Your unique background and aspects will be brought to task upon your baptism.

You can help people help you!

The Copts have allot of problems socially. Idenity crisis is added in the Americas and the west. "Are we white"?, "Are we Arab"? etc. This only complicates the already top heavey condition they have coming from Egypt. It is hard to let others in right away. But they are very aware of this and are desparate to fix this. The Copts are very contious of mission.

Anyway......

You are already more focused on true orthodoxy than many of us on this forum.

You must accept Christ and be baptised. You and your family.

The time is ripe.

Nobody could write a post like that and not want to be one with the Church.

You are a beleiver.

I will continue to pray for you.

I love you.

May God bless you and protect you.

Dcn Amde Tsion


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« Reply #34 on: December 09, 2006, 01:50:19 AM »

Gabrael

I forgot to mention.

PLEASE REFRAIN FROM READING ALL THE "JIBER-JABER" people are posting hear on EO, OO, Universalism?, etc.

These are reasonable issues to discuss; do not get me wrong. But not in this situation or this thread in my opinion.

Peace

Dcn Amde Tsion

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« Reply #35 on: December 09, 2006, 08:14:43 AM »

Gabriel, please let us know what you are thinking or if anything here has made a difference...
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« Reply #36 on: December 10, 2006, 03:19:19 AM »

I could die in five minutes of writing this.  I am not baptised.  My wife is not baptised.  My child is not baptised.

Not that I'm advocating delaying baptism, but you do know, I hope, that our God is merciful and knows the desires of our hearts--if you were sincerely, honorably seeking for the correct place to receive baptism and were to die beforehand, this would be taken into account, imo.

Both communions constantly beg the Lord for His mercy.  There's a reason for that: The grace of God makes up for that which is lacking.  We are all sinful, fallible men and women seeking our Maker, and all we can do is all we can do, then ask God to fix what we've still (perhaps) left broken.

One thing's for sure with you: you're sure being honest about the whole thing.  Way to be.  We're praying for you, man. 
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« Reply #37 on: December 11, 2006, 03:21:25 PM »

Gabriel, it certainly seems that attending the Antiochian Church would clear much of the cultural clutter from your path. That alone may provide the respite you so clearly need.
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« Reply #38 on: December 11, 2006, 08:06:47 PM »

I took the posts debating the necessity of baptism and turned them into a new thread, which can be found here:

http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,10462.0.html


I did this so we can use the present thread to focus on Gabriel's situation without getting distracted.
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« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2006, 04:54:37 PM »

The frustrations Gabriel feels are exactly why the OO Copts need to do here in the USA as they have done in England.  Canonical Oriental Orthodoxy for Anglos: www.britishorthodox.org

It is a natural fact that people feel comfortable with their own ethnic type.  The OO Copts - in my opinion - are to be applauded for the British Orthodox church.
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« Reply #40 on: December 13, 2006, 11:41:09 PM »

The frustrations Gabriel feels are exactly why the OO Copts need to do here in the USA as they have done in England.  Canonical Oriental Orthodoxy for Anglos: www.britishorthodox.org

It is a natural fact that people feel comfortable with their own ethnic type.  The OO Copts - in my opinion - are to be applauded for the British Orthodox church.

Indeed,

The Southern Diocese of the US headed by His Grace Bishop Youssef prohibits of use of Arabic in Sunday liturgies regardless of the immigrant need.  As described by His Grace, the liturgy is prayed in 95% English, 5% Coptic.  This is something I wish our Church in the Eastern part of the US would start doing, not just for the sake of converts, but for the sake of youth as well.

Quote
Why doesn’t Your Grace want the Church Readings to be read in Arabic on the Sundays? I am sure Your Grace has justified reasons for such a decision. However, there are some people especially among the elderly who do not understand English. Some of them cannot even read Arabic. Please, reconsider your decision.

    Arabic is my native language; and that of  of preference. Although I feel much more comfortable communicating in  Arabic; it is not the language of this country in which I am to serve the Lord. Therefore, I had to adapt and train myself to using the English language.

    In the Holy Book of Acts 2: 1-11 we are told the disciples received the Holy Spirit and then spoke in many languages. If the One Church had spoken only ‘one language’ in Biblical time, there would have been only a few converts other than those in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. In fulfillment of the prophecy of the prophet Joel (Joel 2:28,29) concerning the Holy Spirit, the words spoken by the Apostles were in the actual languages of the people who had come to Jerusalem from all over the empire for the Feast at that time. I believe that there was a very valid reason for the ‘many languages’.  God had meant that at the time of the Feast, those of other languages would come to learn of the Lord Jesus Christ in their respective languages. Then further on in biblical history, those people had established new churches as recorded later on in the Holy Book of Acts.

    When people immigrated to this country, they understood fully well that it would require learning a new culture and language. Arabic is not a fluently spoken language in any city here in the States. If our beloved Church is to grow in this land and if we are to evangelize others, we must also speak their language. Gradually adapting the Divine Liturgy (part Arabic, part English) had a two-fold purpose. One, was to slowly acclimate Arabic speakers to the English language. The second purpose was, to also give a chance to  those who spoke only English (particularly young children who knew English only) to begin to comprehend the Divine Liturgy.  Part English, Part Arabic was in no way intended as a comprise between the two languages; nor a goal in itself.

    The younger generation and new converts and those ‘testing the waters’ of our faith need to understand the entire Divine Liturgy in the English language.

    As for those who prefer the Arabic language, I whole-heartedly encourage and endorse a special Divine Liturgy for them. The Divine Liturgy could be scheduled to begin before work on a working day for those who work. For the elderly who want and need the comfort of an Arabic liturgy, they can attend the Wednesdays or Fridays Divine Liturgies in Arabic. Most of them do not work; and all they need to attend the Divine Liturgy is transportation.This is a simple thing, which with little patience and continued prayer, can be worked out to everyone's satisfaction. I would encourage any Church to serve the needs of its congregation.

    If the deacons do not have a good command of the English language, there are many practical solutions for this other than just refusing to attend or compromising the Readings. These deacons could attend the Hymns Retreat and eventually teach  others. The Diocese holds these retreats annually for such purposes. If this is not feasible; or no one wants to make the effort required, then you can seek out the help of those in your church who do know the Hymns in English and ask them to teach those who do not. They can do that individually or in groups.

    A lot of those who complain about the use of English in Church rituals occupy jobs which demand both written and spoken English.

    A lot of people are complaining about feeling isolated and un-welcomed. Also,what about  the many, many youth who grew up here and do not know Arabic? The stranger that frequently walks in the church invited or uninvited? The new converts who do not know the Arabic language nor the congregation present in church? Remember that to those entering newly into the faith, not only Arabic is unfamiliar; but the Divine Liturgy as well; unfamiliar in many aspects to the youth who are just beginning to learn the meaning our Coptic Church places on the word "mystery".

    There is no easy solution to transition. It is accomplished gradually by accepting changes. It has taken more than 10 years to move to praying completely in English in our Churches. I think it is now the "Time of the Children" and "The Time for Evangelism".

    Please pray with me that the Coptic Church will continue to grow in the United States, with members from Egyptian origin as well as American converts. The future of our Coptic Church also depends upon the youth of today. I pray that we all realize that in order for the youth to truly love the Coptic Church and grow spiritually, they must understand its teachings.

http://www.suscopts.org/q&a/index.php?qid=129&catid=40

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #41 on: December 14, 2006, 12:47:01 AM »

.....

I don't believe this rule is being followed at the Coptic Church I attend, but that's not my place to pass judgment on what rules are being followed.

That, and the lady that Deacon Farrington put me in touch with told me the exact opposite.  Their main priority is to meet the needs of the influx of immigrants coming over here.

Meh.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 12:50:14 AM by Gabriel » Logged

My soul waits for the Lord
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Gabriel
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« Reply #42 on: December 14, 2006, 12:51:23 AM »

Blah, I don't have any right to gripe at those people.

It was easier being an atheist.

 Undecided
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My soul waits for the Lord
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Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.
BrotherAidan
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« Reply #43 on: December 14, 2006, 01:53:59 AM »

Gabriel
Converting is very difficult. It is hard work. It is lonely.  I found that out after about 2&1/2 - 3 years into this journey. I started to have a "western" allergic reaction to my Eastern faith. But, man, you just have to plow through. You've come too far to turn back. You will be a miserable atheist now.

(I know that there are equal challenges for cradles; but not being one I can't speak to that.)

Anyway, coming up on my 4th year into this journey, things are starting to settle down and I can see once again that converting is also beautiful, enriching and what gives a shred of meaning and substance to this sinner's life.

I think I now I would lean to a longer catechumenate than I had (about 15 months); however, your worst spiritual battles will begin AFTER baptism and when you begin to receive the body and blood of the Lord. The enemy doesn't like it and you will come under even more attack. On the other hand I don't know how I could have held on without the eucharist. I can see the wisdom in EA's advice but also in L's advise to go ahead and be baptised.

Mercy to you as you continue on this journey.
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Macarius
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« Reply #44 on: December 14, 2006, 06:51:55 PM »

Gabriel , Very Great Post
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We believe that our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Logos, is perfect in His Divinity and perfect in His Humanity. He made His Humanity One with His Divinity without Mixture, nor Mingling, nor Confusion. we Anathematize the Doctrines of both Nestorius and Eutyches
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