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Author Topic: Why did you convert to Orthodoxy?  (Read 10634 times) Average Rating: 0
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Buddhalover
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« on: April 03, 2007, 12:18:48 AM »

Hello all, forgive me if I am posting to the wrong forum. I sincerely wish to know everyone's reasons for converting to Orthodoxy. And to share why I am not Orthodox. I do not wish to antagonize anyone and if there is a place online where I might go to better have my questions answered, please let me know.

I am an ex-Christian Buddhist convert and wanted to introduce myself. My name is Don. I was born into a fundamentalist family, converted to a Charismatic christian faith in college, then explored Anglican/Episcopal traditions and lastly Catholicism on my way out of Christianity. I up until recently was having some good discussions with a friend who converted to Orthodoxy. He is now serving time in prison for tax evasion so our discussions were cut off as you can imagine.

I thought I might share why I am not Orthodox since my reasons seem to be different from most people.

1. I don't believe truth can be determined by majority vote
2. I don't believe Jesus came to establish Christianity
3. I believe there are many ways to God- Orthodoxy being one way but not the only way.
4. I believe that the path that works for me should not be imposed on everyone else. Nor should I expect that it would bring the same results for someone else.

I believe in practicing a belief system that gets results (closeness with God, etc). For some, Orthodoxy fits the bill. For others it does not. I spent many long years in every major branch of Christianity other than Orthodoxy. And a few years in agnosticism.

I have read several "testimony" type books about former Christians becoming atheist/agnostic/Buddhist/Muslim/ etc. And I have read several of former (insert belief system) people becoming Christians. What I am struck with is not only how personal these stories are, but also by the emotional reasoning. Boiled down, the religious system they were following simply wasn't fulfilling them and they discovered fulfillment in another path. The fallacy is to think because they found fulfillment in the new path, that everyone should follow the same path. Why is this? I have no problem with any Orthodox practices that would trip up most non Orthodox. It has been interesting to see that most stories I read of former Buddhists becoming Christian have two or three of the following.

1. They were never Buddhists for very long or only dabbled in one branch of Buddhism.
2. They misrepresent Buddhist beliefs about attachment, karma, etc.
3. If they were long time Buddhists, their conversion amounted to "Jesus came to save you from God's wrath so you better convert now."

My Orthodox friend seeks to convert me to Orthodoxy even though I am extremely satisfied with my current beliefs. Why? Buddhism does not compell one to believe certain things or risk eternal punishment.

I am certainly open to anything that leads to truth. Am I missing something here in Orthodoxy? Any comments or suggestions are welcome. I have no axe to grind and I mentioned Buddhism simply to define where I am now. When I was in various Christian groups, all of them had the "we are the one true church" mentality. Such haughtiness and spiritual pride is not worthy of Jesus. I feel much closer to God as a Buddhist than I ever did in any of the Christian groups. But again, perhaps I am missing something. My main issue is that I don't see why everyone is compelled to believe things about Jesus that Jesus never defined about himself. Why can't some things remain unknown? Why call a council and vote on a doctrinal issue and call the minority "heretics"? It doesn't make sense to me.

Again, I am really interested in what you think and I do not mean to offend. I wish everyone peace and joy in God.

Don
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2007, 09:49:23 AM »

Don,

Welcome to the forum. Smiley Fwiw, I think a good degree of exclusivity is actually necessary if Christians are to remain consistent. From the times of Paul, Christianity has always divided amongst itself because it insisted on not bending to this belief or that practice. In the 2nd century there were already hundreds of groups claiming to be derived from, or the true heirs of, Christianity. I've actually been reading a bit (superficially so far) about Buddhism lately, and one thing that struck me was how different it was in it's epistemology. Where traditional Christianity is corporate, Buddhism is ultra-individualistic; where traditional Christianity promotes revering the teachings and figures of tradition, Buddhism promotes questioning traditions; where traditional Christianity says to look outside yourself to authority X (Church, Pope, or whatever) to understand the Scriptures, Buddhism says to look within and to personal/practical experience to understanding the Pali Canon (or whatever); and so forth.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, as much as I admire in your approach, I think it would be inconsistent for a Christian--one of the traditional variety anyway--to have a similar approach. Whatever the original teachings of Jesus, from pretty early on the Church was exclusionary, and the ecumenistic (live and let live) mindset is sort of contrary to the more traditional Christian thought. Some pretty divisive things are attributed to Jesus, and not just when speaking about the corrupted pharisees/sadducees/scribes/etc., but also about regular people as well...

"And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" - Matt. 10:14-15 (Mark 6:11)

"Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: 'Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you.'" - Matt. 11:20-24 (Luke 10:13-16)
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Buddhalover
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2007, 10:59:10 AM »

I appreciate the reply very much. Yes Buddhism is individualistic. This scares a lot of people because it forces you to come to your own conclusions based on experience and study. Of course, people can come to any faith this way. It strikes me that most cults are started by charismatic leaders who claim a higher knowledge and that followers should accept what they say. I think it is important to balance Jesus's statements to cities in general that seem harsh with what he said to individuals. People who were considered "sinners" Jesus embraced. Jesus was a Jew yet his statements were contrary to tradition and law. Things that were considered punishable by stoning were permitted by Jesus- picking corn on the Sabbath,  etc. I think Jesus was more concerned with the condition of the heart than with the external adherents to the law. This in itself makes Him quite radical! It saddens me to see what has happened to Christianity through the years and what atrocities have been committed in the name of God.

Jesus did not leave us with any writings of his own. Nor did he define his nature beyond being the son of God. It just saddens me to see what division has happened over defining things that Jesus never defined. Is it heresy to not believe anything about Jesus except what he expressly claimed for himself? In my readings of the early church fathers, it strikes me as odd that people like Marcion were condemned as heretics for saying things like "It seems the God of the Old Testament is quite different from the God Jesus came to reveal." (paraphrased of course).  All of us have beliefs that are incorrect. We are all fallible. I suppose I don't understand why majority vote constitutes true doctrine. I don't think it is possible to believe something that you have not experienced personally as true. Was Arminius an evil person who hated God simply because his side didn't get enough votes to claim his views were "Orthodox"? I don't think so. He presented his ideas as he understood them to be true. Did the Bishops who voted in the minority love God any less? Pray any less? I don't see how that could be possible. We can see the "heretics" as enemies of the faith, misguided brothers and sisters, or actually the correct or orthodox view that didn't get enough votes.

I think there is much to admire and love about Jesus. I do very much believe in the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I don't hear that guidance telling me to give up my mind and adhere to "tradition". (And I'm not suggesting anyone here believes or doesn't believe that either.)

Since I have become Buddhist, the love inside I feel for people has ballooned beyond anything I ever thought possible. I quit judging people as being "not one of us" and trying to "convert" them to my position

I do enjoy good discussions and I hope that my words do not offend. I don't wish to convert anyone to my position. I appreciate being a guest here and welcome all comments. I want to know what you have found that is special about Orthodoxy- as I know and believe it is special even though I am not a member. Please feel free to challenge my assumptions if you feel them incorrect. I'm not offended by disagreements and have much to learn.

Peace to you all.

Don
« Last Edit: April 03, 2007, 11:01:40 AM by Buddhalover » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2007, 11:41:05 AM »

I suppose I don't understand why majority vote constitutes true doctrine.
You mentioned this in your first post as well.
A Church Council does not work on a majority vote system. A Council has to reach consensus, and be able to say like the Apostles did at the first Synod in Jerusalem: "It seems good to the Spirit and to us....."
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Buddhalover
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« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2007, 01:07:56 PM »

Yes. However, there was essentially a vote and many of the bishops disagreed with the majority. They were not all in agreement and the disagreements were quite bitter. I'm sure both sides would claim HS support.
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« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2007, 01:33:18 PM »

Buddhalover,

Forgive me if I sound silly or if I offend you.

Can I be a buddhist and believe that God is a triune God, that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that He defeated death through His resurrection, etc.?
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« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2007, 01:45:50 PM »

Sure. Why not? Buddhism doesn't define the nature of God at all. Nor does it tell you what you can't believe. I will be happy to discuss Buddhism but that was not my intent. I don't want anyone to think I came here to change anyones mind. I really am interested in what works for people spiritually. I'm just sharing my concerns with the Christian paradigm and am open for corrections or new thoughts. Most of my extensive experience with Christianity has been from a western standpoint.

Peace
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« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2007, 02:13:12 PM »

Yes. However, there was essentially a vote and many of the bishops disagreed with the majority. They were not all in agreement and the disagreements were quite bitter. I'm sure both sides would claim HS support.

So then what is your view on the Council of Florence?  You know, where all the (Orthodox) bishops but one (Mark of Ephesus) agreed to Rome's demands and signed while Mark abstained.  Then, when the bishops returned to their flock, they were rejected by their flock, causing them to repent and retract what they had agreed upon.
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« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2007, 02:15:03 PM »

So then what is your view on the Council of Florence?  You know, where all the (Orthodox) bishops but one (Mark of Ephesus) agreed to Rome's demands and signed while Mark abstained.  Then, when the bishops returned to their flock, they were rejected by their flock, causing them to repent and retract what they had agreed upon.
Messy, isn't it.
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Buddhalover
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« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2007, 10:36:02 PM »

Hmmm. Well yes the council of Florence was quite messy indeed. It actually saddens me that the church could not be reconciled. Perhaps the Reformation could have been avoided or its effects perhaps lessened had the church come together. But that is another discussion. This council illustrates my point that good, faithful, godly people can disagree honestly concerning the nature of the Trinity in general and the Holy Spirit specifically. Why? Because Jesus never defined the relationship. He came to show that the law of love is above the law of dogmas. Why must we insist on defining that which Jesus did not define? There was no consensus among the Bishops- only schism. Seeing that the church would irreparably split over the filioque clause, could not the bishops have agreed that whether or not the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father or proceeds from the Father and the Son was not worth schism? And therefor left the issue a mystery? Instead each side calls the other "heretics". If you are a Roman Catholic, you believe the church is a living organism that grows when more light is revealed. If you are Orthodox, you believe the faith was delivered once and for all to the Saints, and you cannot change a well established creed even for "clarification". Roman Catholics would argue that the "faith" constitutes the basic salvation message of Jesus and that it was once for all delivered but does not apply to clarifications of doctrine. Orthodox would disagree. My point being that the 11th century and at the Council of Florence in the 15th Century (as well as now) needed a unified church at a time when terrible atrocities, plagues, and bloodshed was rampant in the world. Could the church not agree to disagree or at least relegate the nature of the Holy Spirit to mystery? Instead, the RC's and Orthodox hurled the "heretic" charge to each other. It is interesting that the "heretical" Roman Catholics are the ones that have flourished and grown while the numbers of Orthodox in comparison are quite small.  My larger point is that it doesn't matter what the nature of the HS is when it comes to living a Godly and loving, holy life. Look at the earliest councils- Nicaea, Chalcedon, etc. They were highly schismatic. Each council created another schism and the church became smaller due to the excommunication of those who did not accept the decisions of the majority opinion. This is all just so sad to me. Sometimes we must be content to not have all the answers. Forgive me for bringing up Buddhism again. But one reason it makes hardly any claims to the nature of God is that it sees God as completely infinite and without boundaries or limitations other than what God places on himself. By definition, that which is infinite cannot be defined. If you try to define God, you have limited him. If you claim what God is not, then you have limited him. I don't believe in a God that is limited in any way. Therefor I do not try to define God. The Holy Spirit never left me, even when I left Christianity because the Holy Spirit is for everyone. I have had one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life while meditating with a quartz Buddha head. I have had similar experiences during "revival" meetings at church in the past or when praying with friends. There is no place I can go to get away from God. Nor would I want to. Jesus came for everyone- sinners,saved, Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants- and even Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims. Jesus came to change their hearts not their doctrines. Man looks on the outside, God sees the heart. Some people get very angry at me when I say such things- as if they WANT people to go to hell. If my salvation is based on my personally figuring out among the dizzying array of religions and branches of religions, which one is correct, then I am doomed. I love God. I love Jesus. I also love Sidhartha Gautama- the Buddha. Who lived 500 years before Jesus. I think God loved him too. Everyone needs to have an experience with Jesus or Buddha or Mary, or whomever God chooses to identify Himself with. We would have fewer people blowing themselves up because they mindlessly adhere to a philosophy that teaches to hate those different that you. People live in fear of making the wrong choice of religion. That is why there is so much strong debate and harsh words. If we can somehow convince others we are right, then we must be right, right?

Believing that God is bigger than any religion and that Jesus came to show God's heart to me and that the Holy Spirit will NEVER leave me nor fosake me has opened up a new level of spirituality that has transformed me completely. I love God so much more now than I ever have and am so so grateful to Him.

Sorry for the long ramble.

Peace and love to all of you.

Don

Peace to you all.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2007, 11:01:22 PM by Buddhalover » Logged
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« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2007, 11:14:53 PM »

Buddhalover,

Forgive me if I sound silly or if I offend you.

Can I be a buddhist and believe that God is a triune God, that Jesus Christ is God incarnate, that He defeated death through His resurrection, etc.?

Be a Buddhist in what way? Embracing the Buddhist definition of reincarnation, dharma, and karma among other things? Forgive me if I'm being presumptuous here, but Buddhistic teaching is rather non-theistic to accomodate the embracing of a personal Creator in the Abrahamic Traditions. No matter how syncretistic you want to get, I'm not sure how it would work. Perhaps our friend Don can shed light on this.
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Buddhalover
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« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2007, 11:41:26 PM »

Yes. Buddhists do not really define the nature of God as I mentioned before. If the God of the Old or New Testament (or both) gives you a framework around which to think about God that is meaningful to you, and treat such a God as personal to you, you could still call yourself a Buddhist and believe such. Buddhists don't believe God can be defined so they don't even try. This leads some to falsely believe Buddhists are atheist. They simply believe that which is infinite (God) cannot be defined. I believe this is a true statement. The attempt at defining that which cannot be defined has lead to much suffering and pain. Lots of heat and very little light unfortunately.
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« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2007, 12:06:08 AM »

Jesus did not leave us with any writings of his own. Nor did he define his nature beyond being the son of God. It just saddens me to see what division has happened over defining things that Jesus never defined. Is it heresy to not believe anything about Jesus except what he expressly claimed for himself? In my readings of the early church fathers, it strikes me as odd that people like Marcion were condemned as heretics for saying things like "It seems the God of the Old Testament is quite different from the God Jesus came to reveal." (paraphrased of course).  All of us have beliefs that are incorrect. We are all fallible. I suppose I don't understand why majority vote constitutes true doctrine. I don't think it is possible to believe something that you have not experienced personally as true. Was Arminius an evil person who hated God simply because his side didn't get enough votes to claim his views were "Orthodox"? I don't think so. He presented his ideas as he understood them to be true. Did the Bishops who voted in the minority love God any less? Pray any less? I don't see how that could be possible. We can see the "heretics" as enemies of the faith, misguided brothers and sisters, or actually the correct or orthodox view that didn't get enough votes.

Interesting. I would agree that Jesus never defined His nature, which is ultimately an ineffible mystery (and when we say nature here, I would hope it means "essence" or as we have come to term it, ousios) but I would posit that Jesus did indeed outline His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit within the Scripture. Jesus leveled some amazing claims to divinity that astonished the Jews of yesteryear and contemporary man - so I wouldn't state that His description of His Identity was only constratined to the appeal to Divine Sonship. All Christology and Systematic Theology is based on is Scripture, and the exegetical and hermeneutical tradition that has been passed down to us.

As for division in the Church, the first major phenomenon that emerged in early Christianity which helped sow the seeds of ecclesiastical disunity would be the Gnostic movements. Today, it is well known that these many groups that collectively have been called the 'Gnostics' rested their theology on a syncretistic background and premise. Much of what they introduced into Christianity did indeed attempt to redefine Christ in a whole new light, within this amalgram of Greco-Babylonian-Vedic-Egyptian thought, which they soon directed at the very heart and crux of the Christian faith: the crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord.

As for your paraphrase of Marcion, who was a by-product of this movement, I believe this to be grossly understated. Marcion didn't stop at conjecturing that there was a "difference between the God of the Old Testament and that of the New," but, to my knoewledge, he labeled the Old Testament God as evil and vicious - whereas he maintained the New Testament God as one who is benevolent and full of love. Permit me also, if I may in my acquaintance with gnostic theology, but I believe that Marcion connected the "Old Testament God" with the Demiurge of gnostic-platonic notions. Historically, within this system of thought, the Demiurge was an evil deity who created matter. Perhaps he connected the "Old Testament God" with this Demiurge? If he did do that, then he harmed the very heart of the Abrahamic Faith: monotheism. I don't think we can downplay and try to accomodate for everyone's beliefs here, in some wild combination of theology, since these heretics (those who depart from truth) attempted to turn the Bible upside down and all around. I think this underestimates the Orthodox understanding of what Holy Tradition is.

"All of us have beliefs that are incorrect." Perhaps, but True Belief exists within Him who is Truth. Search Him, and you'll find. (I feel like some old bearded priest sitting in an incense filled room with only a little ray of light shining through, after saying that  Cheesy).

I don't understand what you mean with the majority vote thing. Perhaps the councils did conclude on a creed based on the consensus of the majority of bishops, but it was not like that the bishops conspired together with not ever giving ear to the theological convictions of those who are being questioned. Sure, those heretics who have departed from the faith mustve loved God with their hearts - no less then those in the majority. This does not, however, provide an excuse for those to not question their beliefs and visa versa. Things were done, and still are, in dialogue. Theological treatises are swapped and apologetics are written. These are good, propserous events. But then eventually, through exhaustive points, the consensus of the church finally agrees as to what is most pertinent to the Scipture and what fits best. We are, in a sense, all misguided and none of us are good, since only "God is good." And it is Him, through the Holy Spirit, that we are able to realize What is Truth. Those who wish to flee from it are most definitely allowed to, and my opinion of them will not digress to a sub-human criticism since the focal point of Christianity is God's unconditional Love for all, as well as our call to reciprocate.


Quote
I do enjoy good discussions and I hope that my words do not offend. I don't wish to convert anyone to my position. I appreciate being a guest here and welcome all comments. I want to know what you have found that is special about Orthodoxy- as I know and believe it is special even though I am not a member. Please feel free to challenge my assumptions if you feel them incorrect. I'm not offended by disagreements and have much to learn.

I hope my post was somewhat poignant. I often trail off, so please ask for any clarification as I'm prone to mistake. And thank you for coming to the board! I look forward to further enlightening discussions with you.

Peace,
Ioannis

P.S. What vehicle of Buddhism to you adhere to?

« Last Edit: April 04, 2007, 12:27:08 AM by Thanatos » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2007, 07:35:56 AM »

Quote
They simply believe that which is infinite (God) cannot be defined. I believe this is a true statement.

But if I believe the Jesus is God who has revealed himself to us is objectively true and that the framework of the Old and New Testament is objectively true, can I still be a Buddhist?

In other words, if I believe God is objectively knowable in some way because He has revealed Himself and that those who say he is not are incorrect, can I be Buddhist?

Has Buddhism never had disagreements within itself wherein it held councils and expelled those who did not hold true to what they saw as the true faith?
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« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2007, 10:24:06 AM »

An interesting perspective that I think addresses your questions about Buddhism vis-a-vis Christianity/Christ:

http://www.firstthings.com/article.php3?id_article=4056&var_recherche=among+world+religions

As to why I converted to Christianity and not Buddhism, it's because I was seeking that which Christianity claims and provides - i.e., personal communion with the Personal God and Godhead who united Himself with man(kind) in the Person of His Son.
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« Reply #15 on: April 04, 2007, 04:33:50 PM »

"but I would posit that Jesus did indeed outline His relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit within the Scripture. Jesus leveled some amazing claims to divinity that astonished the Jews of yesteryear and contemporary man - so I wouldn't state that His description of His Identity was only constrained to the appeal to Divine Sonship. "


First I must say thank you to all of you who have responded to me so kindly. My wife and I have lost many dear friends due to them disagreeing with our path. I feel much gratitude for the great responses.


OK. Yes I do know Jesus made quite a few claims for Himself. He claimed to be equal to the Father. He also claimed that the Father was greater than He is. He claimed to be both the Shephard and also the Lamb. He claimed to be both the Son of God and also God Himself. He claimed to be the Son of God and also the Son of Man. Much of the early confusion doctrinally about Christology was due to these seemingly contradictory statements by Jesus.

As for whether or not the Holy Spirit "Proceeds" from the Father and the Son or just the Son alone was never addressed by Jesus. It is this issue that has split the church and caused much pain for millions of Good, faithful Christians who love God but disagree. This is what I feel is such a tragedy. If you ask the common RC or Orthodox layman what it means for the Holy Spirit to "proceed" and the differences between proceeding from the Father alone or through the Father and the Son, my guess is that you would get a lot of blank stares. My contention is that being right or wrong about this was not worth the church splitting up. Seems that there should be room to have opinions about it on different sides without calling the other view "heretical." This is what ultimately split the church at a time when unity was desperately needed. Now it seems that the "heretical" views expressed by the Roman Catholic church is accepted my most of the Christians in the world. Are they even considered Christians by Orthodox? If they are, couldn't reconciliation occur based on Faith in Jesus and not in faith in the accuracy or inaccuracy of the filioque clause? Unity is greater than this doctrine in my opinion. I would personally love to see the Christian church come together this way.

I will concede my oversimplification of Marcion. I was attempting not to go off on a tangent. Rather, my larger point was that he was making some observations that were not unreasonable, however unorthodox they may have come to be seen. If you look at how God is presented in the OT, it makes you wonder if He spent all his time being angry over something. To be angry indicates frustration with unmet expectations. The actions of God in the Old Testament are inconsistent with an omniscient God. Why should He become angry with Israel for following Baal if He know this would happen before time? Why should he threaten to wipe them all out and have to be "talked down" by Moses and "reminded" of the covenant He made? God is presented as being racist and bigoted and Jesus seems like a "plan B". If the Israelites had gotten it together, there would have been no need for Jesus. After book after book in the OT shows God using the Israelites to slaughter the Gentile races, suddenly He decides to save them? If you don't know who the Abrahamic God is, how can you be held accountable for serving other gods?  This is certainly not worthy of Jesus- who I believe came to reveal who God really was. So for Marcion to strongly suggest that the Hebrew God was evil, while being perhaps melodramatic, had lots of other people who agreed with him and I can understand his reasoning. I don't know what he was thinking but to me it seems he was saying that God is a God of love and inclusion and Jesus is that example.

Everyone uses the Bible to support whatever doctrines they like. We can't get around that. Each group has a theological tradition through which believers must look through and interpret the Bible. Everyone has those glasses. I see the major Buddhist tennets taught in the Bible through my Buddhist glasses. I don't care to conjecture whether Jesus spent time in the Essene communities or traveled to India and studdied with Buddhists. All we know is that he did SOMETHING from age 12 to 30 and I have a feeling it was more than building things. With his wisdom at age 12, it is reasonable to assume that he sought a spiritual path in some way. What way that was we do not know.

For my Majority Vote comment. Perhaps I should have said "Majority Consensus". My point was that the bishops who disagreed with the majority consensus during the councils did not consent to the majority view. They were often excommunicated and called heretics. Arminius comes to mind. Whatever the majority consensus was was called Orthodox. Whatever was considered the minority consensus was considered heresy.

It is impossible to think about the Trinity without falling into heresy. You can articulate the doctrine but if you try to think about the Triune God, you either visualize three things or one thing. You cannot visualize both at the same time just like we cannot visualize something being completely black and completely white. If someone believes God, Jesus, and the HS are made from the save "stuff" but are three distinct beings, I don't see the harm in that. Perhaps they are flat wrong. It doesn't matter as far a holiness goes and that is why I believe Jesus left some things vague and seemingly contradictory. He cannot really define himself otherwise he limits himself.

God is the ultimate Good. But I believe that God made man good as well and we are all born good. Adam eating fruit from the wrong tree notwithstanding. God made man (and is still making man) in His own image. The greatest evil is ignorance.

I feel drawn to Zen personally, Not because I think it is more correct than other forms of Buddhism, but because I feel closer to God in the Zen path.


"In other words, if I believe God is objectively knowable in some way because He has revealed Himself and that those who say he is not are incorrect, can I be Buddhist?"

Buddhists do not teach that God is knowable or unknowable. Therefor you can believe one or the other and still be a Buddhist.

"Has Buddhism never had disagreements within itself wherein it held councils and expelled those who did not hold true to what they saw as the true faith?"

I actually don't know. There of course have been many disagreements and there are many "schools" or "traditions" of Buddhism. You can find isolated instances of complete foolishness among people who know better. But to my knowledge, there have never been councils or excommunication over disagreements as far as I am aware. No wars ever were started by Buddhists that I know of. But I will be the last to say it is a perfect system. It is merely the system that gets me personally closer to the Divine. I wont do what many non Christians do and point to ignorance and stupidity and claim that is what Jesus would have taught or wanted (inquisitions, convert or die, persecution of heretics, etc.). The Buddha himself taught not to accept teachings just because he or anyone else said so. He taught to test all things and hold on to that which is true... hmmm...seems I have read that somewhere else too.! Wink

Buddhist don't teach that man needs saving from hell because the first man chose poorly in eating the wrong fruit. They teach that man needs saving from needless suffering due to ignorance of reality and attachments. To be "unattached" does not mean you do not care or are not passionate like some accuse Buddhists of being. It means you do not see your identity in things or people or causes. You can still have preferences and be passionate about them. It focuses on the potential greatness of man and is very self esteeming.

"As to why I converted to Christianity and not Buddhism, it's because I was seeking that which Christianity claims and provides - i.e., personal communion with the Personal God and Godhead who united Himself with man(kind) in the Person of His Son."

hmm. I have sought that communion too and have found it in Buddhism. Wherever you can find it, go!


Peace,

Don
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« Reply #16 on: April 04, 2007, 08:16:35 PM »

It is my understanding that Buddhism has had six councils. 

Many disagreements in the first were left unanswered.  The second ended in schism.  The third led to the expulsion of a number whose arguments are left unrecorded (the first Buddhist emperor had intervened and named some monks unworthy of being monks - they were expelled).  The fourth created the written Buddhist scripture from oral tradition.  There are several buddhist scriptures accepted by one group but not another, etc.

I'm not sure how well the last two are accepted by the various flavors of Buddhism. 

I am happy that you are happy with the faith you have chosen.  However, some of your complaints about Christianity can be made about Buddhism as well.  I'm sure you have your defenses as to why your's are so much different, just as some here have tried to explain our positions to you. 

There have been wars, imprisonments, acts of genocide, etc. done in the name of, for instance, Zen Buddhism (see, for instance, Zen at War by Brian Victoria). 

You will argue that this is *distorted* Buddhism just as we will argue that your examples are examples of *distorted* Christianity.
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« Reply #17 on: April 04, 2007, 09:04:43 PM »

Thanks for the information Cizinec. I am glad to get it. It was previously unknown to me. It saddens me to hear this if it is true. If you have any more resources I could get concerning this, please pass them along. I did not choose Buddhism because I thought it was the purest form of religion. It just seems to be the way God has chosen to communicate to me. I will not defend the weaknesses of its members or justify war, genocide or the like if such a thing has happened. There is no religion free of the failings of its followers. Actually I don't believe in defending weaknesses whether from my faith or another. My goal is to discover my own weaknesses and therefor learn from them and grow and change into a better example of a human being. As I mentioned in my last post I do not point the finger and discount Jesus simply because of stupidity and foolishness committed by his followers. And I wont defend the mistakes of Buddhists by pointing to greater mistakes in Christianity or any other religion. Religions and dogmas and believing the right things will not save anyone from anything. A right relationship with God will. I would certainly vote for right actions over right beliefs any day.

Much of the things I pointed out that I find inconsistent in Christianity comes from a Western understanding (Roman) and as my imprisoned Orthodox friend likes to remind me, Orthodoxy sees through very different eyes. That is actually why I came here. Not to sing the praises of Buddhism, but to learn what people find in Orthodoxy that they did not find in any other branch of Christianity (besides no filioque clause in the creed). I am interested in knowing what brings people success spiritually and Orthodox spirituality as it is different from Roman Catholic spirituality is an area I have not explored. I want to see more unity spiritually in the world. If Christianity cannot find common ground with other faiths, then I would at least like to see it become unified among the many branches.

No one but me is responsible for my life. I will go where I sense God leading me. God was leading and guiding Buddhists 500 years before Christ. I believe he still is. Just as I believe he is leading and guiding Christians.

Peace,

Don
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« Reply #18 on: April 04, 2007, 09:56:47 PM »

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You will argue that this is *distorted* Buddhism just as we will argue that your examples are examples of *distorted* Christianity.

That isn't really the common argument that I've come across.  Instead most Western Converts to Buddhism (and I have to suffer through many of them - one of the tribulations of being a student) are entirely ignorant of the history of Buddhism.  For instance, many are almost entirely unable to articulate the differences between Mahayana and Therevada Buddhism.  Most do not belong to an active Sangha.  For them Buddhism is nothing more than an excuse to shop at Whole Foods, go war protesting and be "counter cultural" (although it escapes me how participating in a popular fad is counter-cultural).  Trying to imagine some of these types in rural Mongolia, China or Thailand is very amusing.  I think it is similar to the story that Anastasios told me about a western Hare Krishna coming to India and being shocked by the real religion... including his participation in a cow urine drinking ritual. 

That being said, I do also know some Buddhist converts who take the cultural heritage of Buddhism seriously and aren't just playing Buddhist.  They are honestly trying to transorm their lives with the spiritual teachings of the religion, they belong to a community, practice like normal lay Buddhist etc. I have a lot of respect for them.
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« Reply #19 on: April 04, 2007, 10:17:06 PM »

Welcome. I'm an Orthodox cradle. Basically most religions today believe in a single god. Most also have a good sense of morality as well. But this will not necessarily save you. The main focus of the orthodox is the unity of the uncreated god with the created/us.  This only happens through Christ and the participation of the HS and ultimately begins and ends with the father. It's a difficult concept indeed. Made more difficult by false teachings. That is why Christianity has suffered. The theory isn't that difficult. The problem is that the ones that don't understand it misuse what they don't know and create problem with those that want to know the truth. All I can tell you to help you a little is to read, read , read, and pray, pray, pray. It will come to you. There is no simple way to express how exactly Christ has saved us. The only thing that is for sure is that he saves us thought the church. Because you are a contemplative character you have found your way here and that's a good thing. The truth is in Orthodoxy and if your contemplative mind can't find it, than there is something wrong with your mind  Grin or your heart.
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« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2007, 11:07:31 PM »

Yes I agree that there are always those who want to "play" with religion and follow fads. I'm sure you can find, as you say, lay Buddhists who cannot articulate the differences among the branches of Buddhism. Just as you can find many lay Catholics or Orthodox who cannot articulate the different theological approaches among themselves and among the protestant groups. But it really doesn't matter and ones soul, character, and "salvation" are not based on theological acumen. Following the crowd is a great path to disaster. Actually, I live in Tulsa Oklahoma. My wife and my transition to Buddhism has been extremely painful for us in dealing with the reaction of friends and family. they think we have stopped loving God or Jesus or whatever. The truth is, we love Jesus just the same. The distortions of Christianity later do not take away from this. We love Sidhartha Gautama as well, yet the distortions later of Buddhism don't change this for us. We still follow the teachings of Christ. Yet few would call us Christians. We follow the teachings of Buddha as well, yet for some Buddhists, we would not be called Buddhists either I suppose. Imperialist Japan twisting Zen for political reasons is a distortion of Zen. Just as justifying genocide during the Crusades is a distortion of Christianity.

Christianity is unique I think in the sense that humans are lowly creatures in need of "saving" from God's wrath. I believe Jesus came for all humankind and I no longer have to live under the Shadow of a wrathful and angry God. The truly good news is that Jesus came to make restitution for the sins of humankind past, present, and future- whether or not those people even know who He is. How was a Buddhist to be saved before Jesus was born? How could they believe in Him before He was even born? Jesus coming to save a tiny minority of people who have all their theological ducks in a row and condemning good people of different faiths is not good news at all. This was how I was raised. With much fear and dread.

My Orthodox friend is a true mystic. He speaks of powerful encounters with saints, Mary, etc. Nothing with Jesus that he has shared. It is all amazing to me and am wondering if any were lead to Orthodoxy because they had a powerful encounter with God/Jesus/Saints? Seems that most are born into it or become convinced the theology is the most accurate. I wonder if anyone would share any spiritual experiences had through Orthodoxy? I think Icons are a wonderful tool and doorway into divine presence. All truth is God's truth no matter where it is found.

Many thanks for all the input from everyone.

Smiley

Don
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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2007, 01:26:16 AM »

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Yes I agree that there are always those who want to "play" with religion and follow fads. I'm sure you can find, as you say, lay Buddhists who cannot articulate the differences among the branches of Buddhism. Just as you can find many lay Catholics or Orthodox who cannot articulate the different theological approaches among themselves and among the protestant groups

That is not actually what I was speaking of.  It is the norm for lay members of a religion to not really not that much about it (in terms of history, doctrinal developments etc.).  My encounters are with Western born converts to Buddhism that have no clue about actual Buddhism as it is practiced in the old Buddhist heartlands.  They've read a book by Alan Watts and think that is the end all of Buddhism.

Quote
The truth is, we love Jesus just the same. The distortions of Christianity later do not take away from this. We love Sidhartha Gautama as well, yet the distortions later of Buddhism don't change this for us. We still follow the teachings of Christ. Yet few would call us Christians. We follow the teachings of Buddha as well, yet for some Buddhists, we would not be called Buddhists either I suppose.

Christ and the Trinity have nothing to do with Buddhism.  People who are born Buddhists in Buddhists countries don't talk about them.  A searching of modern Buddhist literature doesn't yield discussions about them (except in a few ecumenical settings).  The true centers of Buddhist spirituality live their lives completely apart from the ideas of Christ, the Trinity and the Christian Church.  In fact, most spiritual literature entirely rejects the idea of a personal God and a relationship with Him as detrimental to enlightenment. 

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Christianity is unique I think in the sense that humans are lowly creatures in need of "saving" from God's wrath.

Not even close to being historically accurate. 

Quote
I believe Jesus came for all humankind and I no longer have to live under the Shadow of a wrathful and angry God. The truly good news is that Jesus came to make restitution for the sins of humankind past, present, and future- whether or not those people even know who He is.

That is sad that you impose the ideas of Protestantism from the American South on all of Christianity.  The teaching of the Catholic Church on such matters can be found in the Papal document Dominus Iesus (the wikipedia article on this is fairly decent if you want a short summary).  In cultural terms it is worth noting that Dante - even in the so called dark ages - put the righteous pagans in a place of no suffering.

The Orthodox position is probably a bit more nuanced, but several patristic writers almost treated the Greek philosophers with more respect than the ancient Hebrew prophets - so clearly in Orthodox soteriology being outside the visible limits of the Church through no fault of one's own isn't a one way ticket to the netherworld.  While in official circles the idea of apokatastasis is mostly regarded as an heresy - do a search of past threads here - and you'll be amazed at just how many well respected church fathers accepted it to some degree. 

Your approach is incredibly superficial and reflects neither the breadth nor diversity of Christian thought.  Furthermore, I don't really see your approach to Buddhism as reflecting the tradition of any of the various schools of Buddhist thought. 
 
Quote
I wonder if anyone would share any spiritual experiences had through Orthodoxy?

From my own experience, I believe St. Silouan the Athonite and Elder Paisios are probably the most widly appreciated modern Orthodox spiritual writers in monastic circles.  Of early Christian texts, the Sayings of the Desert Fathers and the Ladder of Divine Ascent are probably two of the most important.  Substantial excerpts of these can be found online.  It is worth noting that ALL of these texts command one to entirely disregard any apparition of a saint or Christ as a demonic forgery. 

In short Orthodox spirituality consists of repentance, prayer, fasting and obedience.  There isn't really any room for "powerful encounters with saints, Mary, etc.". 


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« Reply #22 on: April 05, 2007, 02:07:34 AM »

I thought I might share why I am not Orthodox since my reasons seem to be different from most people.

1. I don't believe truth can be determined by majority vote
2. I don't believe Jesus came to establish Christianity
3. I believe there are many ways to God- Orthodoxy being one way but not the only way.
4. I believe that the path that works for me should not be imposed on everyone else. Nor should I expect that it would bring the same results for someone else.

I believe in practicing a belief system that gets results (closeness with God, etc). For some, Orthodoxy fits the bill. For others it does not. I spent many long years in every major branch of Christianity other than Orthodoxy. And a few years in agnosticism.

I have read several "testimony" type books about former Christians becoming atheist/agnostic/Buddhist/Muslim/ etc. And I have read several of former (insert belief system) people becoming Christians. What I am struck with is not only how personal these stories are, but also by the emotional reasoning. Boiled down, the religious system they were following simply wasn't fulfilling them and they discovered fulfillment in another path. The fallacy is to think because they found fulfillment in the new path, that everyone should follow the same path. Why is this? I have no problem with any Orthodox practices that would trip up most non Orthodox. It has been interesting to see that most stories I read of former Buddhists becoming Christian have two or three of the following.

1. They were never Buddhists for very long or only dabbled in one branch of Buddhism.
2. They misrepresent Buddhist beliefs about attachment, karma, etc.
3. If they were long time Buddhists, their conversion amounted to "Jesus came to save you from God's wrath so you better convert now."

My Orthodox friend seeks to convert me to Orthodoxy even though I am extremely satisfied with my current beliefs. Why? Buddhism does not compell one to believe certain things or risk eternal punishment.

I am certainly open to anything that leads to truth. Am I missing something here in Orthodoxy? Any comments or suggestions are welcome. I have no axe to grind and I mentioned Buddhism simply to define where I am now. When I was in various Christian groups, all of them had the "we are the one true church" mentality. Such haughtiness and spiritual pride is not worthy of Jesus. I feel much closer to God as a Buddhist than I ever did in any of the Christian groups. But again, perhaps I am missing something. My main issue is that I don't see why everyone is compelled to believe things about Jesus that Jesus never defined about himself. Why can't some things remain unknown? Why call a council and vote on a doctrinal issue and call the minority "heretics"? It doesn't make sense to me.

Again, I am really interested in what you think and I do not mean to offend. I wish everyone peace and joy in God.

Don

It appears to me that you seek to define truth purely by the criterion of "what feels right to me."  You have made yourself the arbiter of truth for yourself.  This is something the Orthodox (and most orthodox Christians of other traditions) just cannot do.  To us, Truth is something--or rather Someone--that stands utterly apart from us yet reveals Himself to us.  We cannot define this Truth except to articulate in language what He has revealed of Himself.  We must either submit to this Truth as He has presented Himself to us, or we must reject Him.  There is just no other way.
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« Reply #23 on: April 05, 2007, 02:23:10 AM »

Christianity is unique I think in the sense that humans are lowly creatures in need of "saving" from God's wrath.

I think Christianity offers the most exalted, as well as the most realistic, assessment of humanity of any religion. We are the beloved children of God, made in his own image, the climax of his great creation, with souls and free will and self-awareness and a permanent home made for us with the Almighty. But we are also beings, who through our own pride, rejected all that was given us, including God himself, and cast our lot with the darkness. But we are so loved and respected that God himself would condescend to become one of us, bear all of our sins, and allow us to kill him so he could defeat death and return to life and allow us to reconcile ourselves with him and have eternal life in his embrace if we chose it (he gives us a choice to love and accept him or not, the ultimate sign of respect and love). Humans are hardly lowly creatures, at least not as how God made us. We made ourselves lowly, and God wants us to fully share in his divinity again.
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« Reply #24 on: April 05, 2007, 08:42:10 AM »

I am aware that Hieromonk Seraphim Rose of blessed memory does address this in his book on the new age.  Would someone who is a fan of Father Seraphim present his views on this subject. [FYI, Hieromonk Seraphim in the opinion of many Orthodox is seen as a patristic scholar and may bring to light what the Church Fathers would have said in view of Buddhism, a religion they  did not address.]

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« Reply #25 on: April 05, 2007, 12:40:41 PM »

"That is sad that you impose the ideas of Protestantism from the American South on all of Christianity. "

Actually I am not. As I have said, this was the way I was raised. I have never, nor would I ever make a blanket statement that would cover all of Christendom. I merely am speaking from my own personal upbringing. I am asking questions about Orthodoxy specifically because according to my Orthodox friend, it is quite different in its soteriology.

"Christ and the Trinity have nothing to do with Buddhism.  People who are born Buddhists in Buddhists countries don't talk about them."

True. Why would they? There is nothing in Buddhism that says you can't talk about it either.

"It appears to me that you seek to define truth purely by the criterion of "what feels right to me."  You have made yourself the arbiter of truth for yourself."

What is the alternative? Allowing others to determine truth for you? This is the mentality of a cult. Everyone defines what works by what "feels right". If Orthodoxy did not "feel right" and did not work for you, you would reject it unless you let others make decisions for you. I think everyone here are intelligent, thinking people who make up their own mind. We can't abdicate our responsibility to do our own thinking and reasoning.


"Your approach is incredibly superficial and reflects neither the breadth nor diversity of Christian thought.  Furthermore, I don't really see your approach to Buddhism as reflecting the tradition of any of the various schools of Buddhist thought."

OK. I can accept your assessment. I would say my approach is perhaps less than thorough due to the volumes of pages and tangents that could be gone off on. I am not married to any particular school of thought in Buddhism- although as I have said, Zen is the most appealing. I did not come here to sing the praises of Buddhism. I genuinely wished to learn from others here what makes Orthodoxy better than other branches of Christianity.

I suppose no one has answered my question as to why a majority consensus should be able to define truth for everyone. Not sure why someone would consent to that.

I believe God is bigger than any religion and all attempts to define His nature will lead to what we have today- schism, hate, spiritual elitism, and wars.


Peace,

Don


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« Reply #26 on: April 05, 2007, 08:03:04 PM »

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True. Why would they? There is nothing in Buddhism that says you can't talk about it either.

It isn't a natural or authentic expression of Buddhism to say that you are now closer to Christ and the Trinity by being a Buddhist.  That is why I am saying that you are not only misrepresenting Christianity but also Buddhism.

Quote
I am not married to any particular school of thought in Buddhism- although as I have said, Zen is the most appealing. I did not come here to sing the praises of Buddhism.

This isn't really a tricky question.  To what Buddhist organization does the temple to which you attend belong?  In what tradition was your spiritual guide trained? 

Quote
I suppose no one has answered my question as to why a majority consensus should be able to define truth for everyone. Not sure why someone would consent to that.

In the various Christian traditions it just hasn't been that simple as a majority voted decides what is truth.  The reasons for the triumph of proto-orthodoxy over the other early branches of Christianity are far more complex than a mere truth vote.  Throughout Christian history there have been cases where a one-time minority position eventually was vindicated as Orthodox and vice versa.  If you really are searching for an answer to this I'd recomend reading as meaning primary sources (i.e patristic and council documents) as possible and consulting with some of the scholarly texts on the history of Christian doctrine at your local library. 

In short, Orthodox (and it is fairly similar for Catholics for that matter) don't believe that a majority consensus declares the truth.  Rather councils proclaim that which has always been true but was currently in dispute within the Church.

Quote
. I genuinely wished to learn from others here what makes Orthodoxy better than other branches of Christianity.

The real answer for the vast majority would be, "It was the religion into which I was born."  For those who converted out of idealogical reasons it is often a combination of the liturgical life of Orthodoxy (which in most cases dwarfes the other branches of Christianity), the spiritual life (with its focus on the goal of Theosis) and the relative doctrinal conservatism of Orthodoxy - it is unlikely that what is happening in the Anglican Communion will happen anytime soon in Orthodoxy. 

Quote
I believe God is bigger than any religion and all attempts to define His nature will lead to what we have today- schism, hate, spiritual elitism, and wars.

While that makes for a nice warm and fuzzy message - the things you cite have often historically had little to do with religion at all.  Even "religious" wars have economics, territory and power at their root - not doctrine. 
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« Reply #27 on: April 05, 2007, 10:12:10 PM »

It isn't a natural or authentic expression of Buddhism to say that you are now closer to Christ and the Trinity by being a Buddhist.  That is why I am saying that you are not only misrepresenting Christianity but also Buddhism.

Did I say that?? Where? I have never referred to Jesus as "Christ". I have never espoused a belief in the Trinity. How can I believe in something that cannot be conceptualized in thought without falling into some heresy? I have said I have become closer to God through Buddhism. There is nothing inauthentic for me to tell the truth about what brings me closer to God. I'm sorry if the vehicle for that closeness offends you. One does not have to belong to a temple in order to be a Buddhist. Just as one does not have to go to church to be a Christian. There are no Zen temples where I live anyway.If you are sincere about learning about my personal devotion to Buddhism, we can continue that in another discussion. I started this one to hear why people on here believe Orthodoxy is uniquely special above other branches of Christianity- especially from those who "converted" as opposed to merely being born into it.


"Rather councils proclaim that which has always been true but was currently in dispute within the Church"

Why would something that has always been true be disputed??

Thank you all for your input and dialogue. I wish you all peace and blessings in your quest.
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« Reply #28 on: April 05, 2007, 10:16:56 PM »

then explored Anglican/Episcopal traditions

May one ask in what way or in what aspect you explored Anglican/Episcopal traditions? I ask because of what you wrote farther down:

Quote
When I was in various Christian groups, all of them had the "we are the one true church" mentality.

Now we Anglicans have problems, but in over 30 years as one, I have never come across any who said that Anglican/Episcopalians were the "one true church". This is quite odd sounding to me.

Thank you.

Ebor
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« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2007, 10:34:54 PM »

Everyone uses the Bible to support whatever doctrines they like.

Well, I'm not so sure that that is always correct, meaning no offense.  In the Bible are some doctrines that can be quite against human nature or personal likings.  Things like "I'm supposed to love others or at least treat them as human beings just like I would be treated.... even if I don't like them."  and "I really want to do XYZ but it would harm someone else (I'm thinking here of betrayals, stealing and so forth) so I shouldn't"

Quote
I don't care to conjecture whether Jesus spent time in the Essene communities or traveled to India and studdied with Buddhists. All we know is that he did SOMETHING from age 12 to 30 and I have a feeling it was more than building things. With his wisdom at age 12, it is reasonable to assume that he sought a spiritual path in some way. What way that was we do not know.

It is true that we cannot argue from silence.  Indeed Jesus did do things for 18 years; since we have evidence that He was versed in Torah (when He quotes it and reads from it) I would suggest that it is more likely that he was an observant Jew.  One does not see why it would have been necessary for Him to go somewhere else such as India or Thibet (I have read some works that hold to that belief) to follow a "spiritual path" elsewhere.  It seems as though there is a train of thought that wishes to separate Jesus from Judaism.
 
Quote
It is impossible to think about the Trinity without falling into heresy. You can articulate the doctrine but if you try to think about the Triune God, you either visualize three things or one thing. You cannot visualize both at the same time just like we cannot visualize something being completely black and completely white.

I find this a rather umm absolute statement. Perhaps there are some who can.  Ones own experience is not always applicable to others.

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I feel drawn to Zen personally, Not because I think it is more correct than other forms of Buddhism, but because I feel closer to God in the Zen path.

May one ask, if it is not too personal, how long you have been a Buddhist and do you practice zazen?

Quote
But to my knowledge, there have never been councils or excommunication over disagreements as far as I am aware. No wars ever were started by Buddhists that I know of.

As has been mentioned above, there are indeed such councils, the Third for example.  Here is a page with a brief history of Theravada that mentions it:
http://www.buddhapia.com/hmu/bcm/2/theravada.html

Respectfully,

Ebor
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« Reply #30 on: April 05, 2007, 10:44:26 PM »

Imperialist Japan twisting Zen for political reasons is a distortion of Zen.

Please forgive another post from me, but this statement has made me curious.  As one who has a deep interest in Japanese history and culture, I would like to ask if you would please explain what you mean by "Imperialist Japan" and how it 'twisted Zen'.  I am not sure which period of history you could be referring to.  Thank you in advance.

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How was a Buddhist to be saved before Jesus was born? How could they believe in Him before He was even born?

May I ask if you have read any C. S. Lewis?  In "The Abolition of Man" he writes about a common idea that has been in many cultures of how one should live. The word he uses is "Tao" though he is not refering the the work of Lao Tze.  Then again, since God is not bound by time, He is in all times as humans know them.

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Jesus coming to save a tiny minority of people who have all their theological ducks in a row and condemning good people of different faiths is not good news at all. This was how I was raised. With much fear and dread.

That is unfortunate that you had that experience.

Ebor
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« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2007, 11:42:00 PM »


I am interested in knowing what brings people success spiritually and Orthodox spirituality as it is different from Roman Catholic spirituality is an area I have not explored. I want to see more unity spiritually in the world. 

Well Orthodoxy I think embraces "mystery" more then most of the other Christian traditions.   And it can be more wholistic (rather than reductionistic) in the way it thinks and operates.   It can seem a little Taoist in it's feel (there is even a popular book written by an EO monk that compares Orthodoxy to Taoism).    And on that topic it thinks more in terms of energy as far as how it sees things like Faith, salvation etc.
 
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« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2007, 11:53:16 PM »

My Orthodox friend is a true mystic. He speaks of powerful encounters with saints, Mary, etc. Nothing with Jesus that he has shared. It is all amazing to me and am wondering if any were lead to Orthodoxy because they had a powerful encounter with God/Jesus/Saints? Seems that most are born into it or become convinced the theology is the most accurate. I wonder if anyone would share any spiritual experiences had through Orthodoxy? I think Icons are a wonderful tool and doorway into divine presence. All truth is God's truth no matter where it is found.

Many thanks for all the input from everyone.

Smiley

Don


Not as such.   I previously was a Charismatic Protestant Christian.   There were a number of experiences that I believe were God supernatural intervening in my life.    That actually was the bridge into Orthodoxy.    I was checking out an Orthodox church to "Test the waters" because I had a love interest that was EO at the time.   I was actually quite prejudice in terms of everyday Protestant fears regarding Legalism, Idolatry, etc.    But when I went into that church, I had a sort of 180 degree change of attitude.   It was like the story you hear of the ambassadors sent by King Vladmir of Russia, where they felt like they were in heaven.    In my years as a Charismatic, where I had felt the presence of God, and been to revivials with miracles, prophecy etc.   I had never felt something so intense!

That was really the thing that broke the ice as far as being open minded about Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2007, 12:00:32 AM »

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There is nothing inauthentic for me to tell the truth about what brings me closer to God. I'm sorry if the vehicle for that closeness offends you.

Closeness to God, if there even is a personal God, is basically irrelevent in most of Buddhism.  Relationship to (a) deit(y/ies) is not one of the central points in enlightenment.  I only question this as such a refrence is exceedingly rare in authentic Buddhist literature.  As for your claim that I am offended - hardly.  I have a great deal of respect for Buddhism.

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One does not have to belong to a temple in order to be a Buddhist. Just as one does not have to go to church to be a Christian. There are no Zen temples where I live anyway.

Ok, just as I suspected.  You aren't a practicing Buddhist.  You've read some books about it.  If you think the Buddhist path is where you spiritual needs will be met, great - but you are cheating yourself if you think you can really be a Buddhist and not be part of the community.

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Why would something that has always been true be disputed??

Questions and disputes arise over time.  What is the relationship between the Father and the Son?  How are we to understand the incarnation - i.e should we venerate the Virgin Mary as Christokos (birth giver of Christ) or as Theotokos (birth gier of God)?  The standard Christian position is that the Church always held true to the later vindicated belief - it only needed to be defined when an heretical group caused confusion over the matter.  Of course, in real life things were a bit more down to earth with the mixture of politics and such.
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« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2007, 01:31:20 AM »

"It appears to me that you seek to define truth purely by the criterion of "what feels right to me."  You have made yourself the arbiter of truth for yourself."

What is the alternative? Allowing others to determine truth for you? This is the mentality of a cult. Everyone defines what works by what "feels right". If Orthodoxy did not "feel right" and did not work for you, you would reject it unless you let others make decisions for you. I think everyone here are intelligent, thinking people who make up their own mind. We can't abdicate our responsibility to do our own thinking and reasoning.
Although my decision to embrace the Orthodox Christian faith was not motivated solely by cold unfeeling logic--I ultimately did need to feel at home spiritually in the new environment--I entered into the Church only after an extensive investigation into the history of Christianity led me to recognize the fullness of Truth in the Orthodox Church.  Did I shut off my critical thinking skills and allow others to determine truth for me?  Did I let others make my decisions for me?  I would answer a resounding "NOT GUILTY" to both counts.  I joined the Orthodox Church because my research and my attempt at an intelligent, well-reasoned, thoughtful analysis of my research led me to see the fullness of revealed Truth in the Orthodox Church.  Feeling right about my rational decision and feeling at home in the Church's liturgical spirituality were just "icing on the cake."
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« Reply #35 on: April 09, 2007, 11:36:27 AM »

Buddhalover,

First, we Orthodox do not believe Christ came to satiate an angry God.  That topic has been discussed ad nauseum in this forum.  If you are really interested in what the Orthodox Church believes, I do not suggest looking in these forums. 

You would do much better to go to St. Antony (http://www.antiochian.org/stantonytulsa it's at 2645 E. 6th Street) and speak to the priest.  I don't remember his name.

If you live in Tulsa (where I went to high school and lived for several years after graduating from college) there is at least one buddhist temple in town, Tam Bao.  I'm assuming you've been there.

It's close to Eastland Mall.  They are mosty Vietnemese, but have services in English on Sunday.  It's non-denominational (their description, not mine) so you shouldn't have a problem with getting into confusion over which form they are using.  I'm not sure how they derived their liturgy without using a tradition.  At any rate, there is at least one Buddhist temple in Tulsa. 

You should be able to find some who grew up in a Zen Buddhist tradition.  I'm not sure how one would go about being a Zen Buddhist without a Zen Buddhist teacher.  Zen is one of the Buddhist sects that requires an ordained teacher.  You should be able to find Thien practitioners in your local temple.  You should at least get an ordained Zen priest to talk to online. 

If you want a convert's view of Orthodox Christianity, the priest at St. Antony's was a convert and is a professor at Oral Roberts University.  As Zen Buddhism, our faith is very much experiential, some of which are similar to Buddhism while others are not.  We also have a requirement for a spiritual guide or master.  For some it is their priest and for others it is a monk at a monastery.  Because I am neither a priest nor a monk, I suggest you go to St. Antony's.
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« Reply #36 on: April 09, 2007, 01:45:58 PM »

Some of us did not "convert" to Orthodoxy and never felt the need to "convert."  Convert implies changing a whole set of beliefs which many Orthodox never did or had to do. No one had to go back to school or study to make the changes either way.  I am talking about the Greek Catholic vs Orthodox in my ancestral areas and maybe even in the USA.  No one ever seemed to go through pangs of conscience to go to either one or the other church or both depending on where they were located or who they were related to or whatever. The Faith is the same and the Liturgy is the same, its the politics that are the problem.  I see and understand the RC's having guily minds over the Pope or Protestants over the sacraments and etc. but there are millions of people in the "gray area" that are not troubled by such things.
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« Reply #37 on: April 10, 2007, 04:25:09 PM »

Thank you to those who are sharing your reasons for converting to or staying a part of Orthodoxy. For those trying to determine if I am a "real" Buddhist, and passing judgements on me, all I can offer is that I am not attempting to be a "good" Buddhist. I am attempting to be the best human I can be. I am not married to any philosophy or religion. I have merely stated that I have found God through Buddhism whether or not it is common. I don't pass judgements on when and where God can commune with me. If you think you must go to church in order to be a Christian or Buddhist and cannot follow the teachings of Jesus or Buddha unless you are under some priest or Monk's authority, then I guess I would fail as a Buddhist. What I really came here for was to discover the specialness of Orthodoxy among its members. The Buddhist path for me is one of continual discovery which I have barely touched. Perhaps it would help if I just said I don't claim to be even a mediocre Buddhist and as far as Buddhism goes, I will admit to not being even an average example. It would be like a person having wonderful revelations of God in a Christian context but not having a lot of knowledge about Christianity. It seems that some are saying "If you are not doing XYZ religious things, you are not a good Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist." I'm not really interested in being a good anything except a good seeker of the truth. If God has chosed the medium of Buddhism in which to speak to me, I would be a fool not to listen. Being a great person is far more valuable to me than being a great adherant to any religion. God was speaking to Buddhists 500 years before Jesus was ever born. But again, I'm not trying to defend Buddhism. This is an Orthodox forum. What do you think Orthodoxy has to offer humankind that would make it worthwhile over all the other many religions and other branches of Christianity. How can I become a better human through Orthodoxy to a greater extent than in any other way? How can I be more loving, forgiving, and passionate about life?
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« Reply #38 on: April 10, 2007, 04:59:02 PM »


 How can I become a better human through Orthodoxy to a greater extent than in any other way? How can I be more loving, forgiving, and passionate about life?

I'm not Orthodox (I'm a Catholic), but all I can say to you is "Come and see."

You won't get a real, concise answer to your question because it's impossible to distill what Orthodoxy (or Christianity, for that matter) into words.  You must learn by living and breathing it. 

And, as is pointed out in other threads on here, attending church services are an integral part to living that life because we actually do learn about our faith through the liturgy.

If you are serious in your inquiry, I would suggest seeking out an Orthodox parish, telling the priest of your interest, and attending services there for at least a year.  Catechumens of ancient times sometimes took three years to enter the Church.  The modern day Roman Catholic initiation program from adults takes at least a year from start to finish (if properly done). 

Truly take the time to experience what Orthodox Christianity has to offer.  You're not going to get good answers on the internet.  Sure, there will always be questions, but it's really important to experience the Faith first hand.
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« Reply #39 on: April 10, 2007, 05:49:51 PM »

If you think you must go to church in order to be a Christian or Buddhist and cannot follow the teachings of Jesus or Buddha unless you are under some priest or Monk's authority, then I guess I would fail as a Buddhist.

...

It seems that some are saying "If you are not doing XYZ religious things, you are not a good Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist." I'm not really interested in being a good anything except a good seeker of the truth.

Well, in sense we are saying that.  There are quotes by saints (St. Ireneaus?) that says you can not have God as your Father if you do not have the Church as your Mother.  Go read the "Fornication" thread.  We use the example of "Orthodox" who "Fornicate" by essentially saying that they're nominal...Orthodox in "name only", so not actually practicing what an Orthodox Christian ought to.

So by your own logic, can you really be seeking the truth if you are not going to Temple and not following the tenets of your faith?  Just something to think about.
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« Reply #40 on: April 10, 2007, 06:56:21 PM »

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God was speaking to Buddhists 500 years before Jesus was ever born. But again, I'm not trying to defend Buddhism.

This doesn't make any sense from a Buddhist point of view.  There is/are no God(s) to speak to Buddhists.  Enlightenment is obtained through one's own effort of meditation and becoming detached from passions and other earthly things.  While searching for God is a lofty and noble undertaking, it isn't really one of the stated objectives of Buddhism.

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But again, I'm not trying to defend Buddhism.

I haven't yet seen any poster besides you mischaractarize or insult Buddhism in this thread. 

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What do you think Orthodoxy has to offer humankind that would make it worthwhile over all the other many religions and other branches of Christianity. How can I become a better human through Orthodoxy to a greater extent than in any other way? How can I be more loving, forgiving, and passionate about life?

As has already been pointed you, such is not within the scope of internet fora.  Rather, look to primary sources - the vast majority of the most important spiritual texts from the Orthodox tradition are online and easily accesible in English.  Read as many of those and try to speak to your local Orthodox priest. 
 

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« Reply #41 on: April 10, 2007, 09:53:43 PM »

To those of you who sincerely answered my questions of what you find special about Orthodoxy, I thank you and am very grateful. Your spirit reflects the spirit of Jesus. To those who could not get past God speaking to me through Buddhism, and who felt it necessary to show what a "bad" Buddhist I am instead of sharing your own faith, I wish you more of the grace of God into your life.

Blessings to all.

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« Reply #42 on: April 11, 2007, 03:58:55 PM »

What do you think Orthodoxy has to offer humankind that would make it worthwhile over all the other many religions and other branches of Christianity?   Well I'm sure there quite a few ones, but here's a few specifics.

Theosis
http://theosis.riewe.com/

ENERGY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
AND IN LATER THEOLOGY

http://www.orlapubs.com/AR/R75.html


Orthodox Worship: Our General Approach
http://homepage.mac.com/gthurman/iblog/C735571802/E20060919112239/index.html



How can I become a better human through Orthodoxy to a greater extent than in any other way?
Well I see this one sort of addressed by the other two questions.



How can I be more loving, forgiving, and passionate about life?

Repentance and confession, participating in the Liturgy, finding a spiritual father, praying for others, practicing alms, works of charity, as well as the other spiritual disciplines (fasting, bible study, contemplation etc.)
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« Reply #43 on: April 11, 2007, 04:44:50 PM »

Buddhalover,

I in no way meant to impugn your following of Buddhism. If you got that impression from my writing, I apologize.

I am not EO; I was looking at things from a historical viewpoint when I wrote of the Third Buddhist Council. I am seriously curious and seeking information about what time period you meant when you wrote that "Imperial Japan" twisted Zen.  I am a student of Japanese culture and history and I am not clear as to which period of time, or what government actions you are referring to. There were periods where one school of Buddhism or another was in conflict with the rulers of Japan.   Could you please clarify that idea?  Thank you in advance.

If asking how long you have been a Buddhist and if you practice Zazen is too personal, I apologize and withdraw the question.

With Respect,

Ebor
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« Reply #44 on: April 11, 2007, 05:05:49 PM »

Dear Buddhalover,

I wish to share with you why I'm Orthodox.

While I am cradle, I do have a much better appreciation of what I believe.  I went through an era of questioning and reassessment of my beliefs.  Here's what I have concluded to believe:

1.  There is a God.
2.  There is a personal God.
3.  That man not only wants, but needs God, the source of his/her existence.
4.  That all religous paths do not lead to God.
5.  That rationally believing in God can only be through a means by which it affects my limited mind, i.e. the Incarnate God, and trusting in that Incarnate God.

These all lead to a Christian belief.

Then, why Orthodox, and not Protestant?  Because there is a consistency in Orthodoxy to follow the Holy fathers' practices and beliefs, and not just rely on the Bible (important as it is).  Ancient Christiany has shared with us the views on the "fall of man" and man's destiny to have that fall "fixed" and to be in communion with God.  Such cannot be done by simply praying and fasting alone, but by living a sacramental lifestyle, especially partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, and to purify myself of all sins.  Not only are dogmas important to be an Orthodox Christian, but also practices, and the moral practices are a part of probably every Christian, not just Orthodox.

In addition, Orthodoxy calls for the experience of continual communication with God through prayer and practices (including your actions to others, yourself, and meditation).  These would help our own spiritualities.  But all things in Orthodoxy start with Christ with the help of the Holy Spirit to have a Divine relationship with the Father, truly partaking of His Divine nature and love.  I am Orthodox because I am in total agreement with the Orthodox Church's teachings.

God bless.
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« Reply #45 on: April 12, 2007, 10:38:48 PM »

Ebor, you did not offend me. No ones post has offended me. I was a bit puzzled as to some judgements by some concerning my commitment or lack of commitment to Buddhism when all I wanted was for people to share their own faith about Orthodoxy. But I did not find your posts puzzling. The era I was referring to was WW2 Japan as written about in "Zen at War." Someone commented that the Zen leaders justified mass killings for the good of Japan. I have not read the book so I do not know if this is even true.

I suppose people are Orthodox because that is where they feel the closest to God and are nourished according to their understanding. This is the same way I feel about Buddhism.
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« Reply #46 on: April 15, 2007, 06:28:32 PM »

I suppose people are Orthodox because that is where they feel the closest to God and are nourished according to their understanding.

An elegant and sympathetic truism echoed in the story of the tenth century Russian emissaries who were sent to determine what religion their country should adopt:

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« Reply #47 on: April 16, 2007, 09:26:33 AM »

I suppose people are Orthodox because that is where they feel the closest to God and are nourished according to their understanding.

An elegant and sympathetic truism echoed in the story of the tenth century Russian emissaries who were sent to determine what religion their country should adopt

Vladimir on Islam's prohibition of drink
Drinking is the joy of the Russes.  We cannot exist without that pleasure. 

Vladimir On Roman Catholicism and fasting
Depart hence, our fathers accepted no such principle.

On the Khazars
The Khazars echoed the Muslim prohibition against pork and supported circumcision.   God was angry at our forefathers, and scattered us among the gentiles on account of our sins.  Vladimir asked How can you hope to teach other whiles you yourselves are cast out and scattered abroad by the hand of God.  If God loved you and your faith, you would not be thus dispersed in foreign lands.  Do you expect us to accept that fate also.

Russian Emissaries on the Byzantines
We knew not whether they were on heaven or on earth.  For on earth there is no such splendor of beauty, and we are at a loss as to how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations.

I am Christian
because I find the evidence for the resurrection compelling.
Consider http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth22.html

Orthodox
Lots of reasons, but a crucial one expressed by an old story
A Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox discussed what religion   Christ will have on his return. After the others gave their reasons  the Orthodox said
Why would he change

For a good thread covering reasons for conversion on another site consider
http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/03/02/why-people-become-orthodox/

Buddhalover I am interested in  what led you to make this enquiry.
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« Reply #48 on: April 16, 2007, 10:15:27 AM »

Echristos Anesti!

Buddhalover, with all due respect and speaking as an ex-Seventh Day Baptist (SDB), if you were a Fundamentalist who converted to the Charismatic movement then you have never been a Christian. Let me compare it this way, if a Samaritan living 2000 years ago became an Essene, he could not rightly claim to be an Israelite even though he had been part of two movements which thought they were Israelites. (Please forgive any error in this comparrison.) The point is that neither the Fundamentalist nor the Charismatic movement is Apostolic and as such neither can rightly claim to be Christian.
(You can probably figure out a thing or two about SDBs simply from the name of the group however individuals vary widely and wildly within the movement as it encompasses all ranges of Baptist thought with the uniting point being the Sabbath. Only Primative SDBs are of note as not being part of the main SDB body as far as I am aware
 although smaller groups exists. The PSDBs as all PBs don't believe in such organisations.)

May I please ask how recently your friend converted to Orthodoxy please?


From what you have said it is clear that you do not accept the Holy Bible as being the infallible Word of God. However it is interesting that you mention God as most Buddhists are either atheists or polytheists.

You talked about Testimonies, if you haven't read it and would like to, I recommend Thirsting for God in a Land of Shallow Wells by Gallatin (not sure of how to spell his name sorry but that's close).



Your friend is probably concerned about you as the Church is like Noah's Ark. If you're not in it then you have no hope according to strict Orthodox teaching. Note please though, the Orthodox Church knows who is in the Church but not who is out of it. God gave the Church one way of ensuring people are in it but if God has another way then He didn't tell us about it. Hence, the safe way is considered the best way.

In regards to the "we are the one true church" mentality that you mention, if it is used to exalt oneself or degrade others then this is sad. However in Orthodoxy it is simply put forward as a statement of truth that Christ said, I will establish my Church and the gates of Hell (Hades) will not prevail against it. The Holy Bible also strictly warns against separating from the Church which the Apostles founded. As the Orthodox Church is this same Church it is simply stated as fact that the Orthodox Church is the one true Church and then if you don't want to accept that then it won't be pushed. Whilst without the Church you are free to believe whatever you like and the Orthodox respect the right of a man to be wrong.

May I please point out that the Muslim who flies an aeroplane into a building feels close to God. How one feels is no indication of reality. If I eat magic mushrooms I might feel great but my health won't be so great. If I feel that I know a lot about the Holy Bible as an SDB, this just means I haven't yet been involved with people (such as the Orthodox) who know a lot more than I do.

Please be specific about what things people believe about Jesus Christ which He did not say about Himself. Remember also that not all His words are in the Holy Bible as St. John tells us and that He taught His Apostles many other things which have been received by the Church.
There are some things which are unknown. For example, what happens to unbaptised babies which die? Some will contend greatly for both sides of this issue which is evidence that it remains unknown but what is known is that baptised babies are safe.
The Lord Jesus Christ sent the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) to guide His Church into all truth and He guides the Council when it is Ecumenical. (Oriental Orthodox Christians will here contend that there have only been three [3] however issues regarding the next three [3] have been largely resolved now and OOs agree with the one about icons anyway.) As ozgeorge said, a Council has to reach a consensus and that at Chalcedon did not as about 1/3rd of the Bishops disagreed and St. Dioscorus was falsely deposed.
To clarify as well, a heretic has to know that he is wrong and be warned repeatedly before he is called a heretic. Why he is wrong is explained to him several times and any issues of difficulty are discussed but if he is to change the faith which was once delivered to the saints then he can not remain a part of it. Calling a person a heretic is the last kind act the Church shows a person in the hope that he might repent of making his own choices (which is what heresy means) against the wisdom of the Church.
In regards to the Council of Florence, I know there were Ethiopian Orthodox Christians there which did not agree with Rome however I'm unsure about any other OOs. Also, isn't Mark of Ephesus a saint amongst the EOs?

I've replied to this quickly and briefly as I am not yet baptised and so it is unlikely that anyone will listen to me however my father has been a western-style Buddhist for some years so I have some knowledge of this topic. I would like to ask please if you are aware of how different western-style Buddhism is to Buddhism as practised about the Indian sub-continent and in SE Asia and Japan?

Please forgive me for being too direct however I fail to see why I should be subtle as usual at a time when nobody will listen to me anyway.

In short though, as it was your original question, I am about to convert to Orthodoxy and become a Christian (at long last after having been through many denominations and investigated various groups even including the Strangites) because I keep seeing miracles unlike anything that I have ever seen anywhere else (and they aren't just silly "my back was sore and now it isn't" type of miracles) and it has amazed me how many attempts at investigating other religious groups have failed for one reason or another, particularly in the last few months, whilst I have been investigating Orthodox Christianity. Also, I have been reading the writings of early Christians and other works and, whereas I once debated doctrine powerfully, I am now unable to stand any longer against the teachings of Orthodoxy in debate. I must say though, I still have a question that I would like answered before joining the Church but I'm now satisfied that if I just stop tarrying and organise to be baptised the answer might be given me afterwards.

Hope you read this as I haven't read everything but generally looked at the first page.

Having just read that story, hedley, about "Why would He change?" I must relate that to some others. Thank you for it. I might change it a bit as I'm a bit of a story-teller and prefer longer stories.

Hope that helped Buddhalover.

+May the prayers of St. Mary, the Holy Apostles, the saints of this day and St. Didymus the Blind be with us, IS.
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« Reply #49 on: April 17, 2007, 12:55:54 AM »

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What I really came here for was to discover the specialness of Orthodoxy among its members.

That goal contains issues.  If you want to discover the "specialness" of Orthodoxy among its members you must understand that we do not simply act as individual members, nor are we able to experience it through internet discussion boards.  You seem to want the individual answer.  There is no such thing.  Everything we do is in the context of community.  When we err as individuals we not only sin against God, but our communities.  You have to give up your life to save it.  The last, the servant, is first, not the glorified individual.  As an individual, this has no relevance.  The glorified individual can't do the work in the community.  There is only one.  In that context all work is done for self gratification.   

We are a community.  We disagree at times.  We argue.  Sometimes we act selfishly and cause scandals amongst ourselves.  But what *I* receive is what those with whom I may disagree most on many issues also receive.  We need each other and we receive it together. We don't do this because we are exceptionally weak or exceptionally stupid or because we want someone else to tell us what to believe.  We do this, in part, because we recognize that everyone is weak, foolish, prone to do wrong, etc.  We do it because God became Man to unite us *all* with Himself.

We may experience God's energies personally, but we do so through the Church.  We experience God through the Church.  If you want to know what we get from Orthodoxy, you must see it through the Church.  Otherwise it is not Orthodoxy.

To explain what we see in the Divine Liturgy (or anything concerning the experience of the Faith) without the context of experience would be like trying to explain the color red to someone who is blind, the sound of a stream running over rocks to someone who is deaf, or restfulness of a full night's sleep to anyone with three boys under the age of three.  It's simply pointless.
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« Reply #50 on: April 18, 2007, 12:24:32 PM »

budalover: Our earthly life is so fragile and yet our spirit can only be freed by participation in it and cyclical rebirths weighed by karmic progress seem perilous in this temporal world ( or other material worlds hard to transcend and also subject to perpetual decay). How many reach the sought for "pure lands"? How many can a bodhisattva aid?  I am not condemning you or your beliefs; I am just saying our life is so precious and to miss the opportunity the Gospel of Jesus Christ promises is to miss the chance of a lifetime and in faith accept in all humility that without him we "can do nothing" (John 15:5). Now, why the Holy Orthodox Church? While I do believe that a non Orthodox communion can offer salvation and all Christians are blessed some have ceased to be Christian. Holy Orthodoxy is still retained in the true Apostolic and Catholic church and surely saints and apostates have been ordained as clergy (as in Rome and Protestants). The fulness of the salvic medicine still exists in the blessed sacraments although the chaos of the world affects our disposition in partaking of them (such is spiritual warfare, especially in partaking of the blessed Eucharist). While saints (known and unknown) can conceptually compared to bodhisattvas, our faith tells us that they are partakers of the true divine nature and that their communion supports the faithful and all mankind thanks to Jesus Christ. Only in the Holy Orthodox church can we fully spiritually partake of our saviour's blessings. Prayer is comprehensive for the earthly living and the living departed (cf Matthew 22:32) and must be practiced and meditated on daily. Through this we nurture love, faith, and hope as the apostle Paul noted. I could go on but I hope that I have humbly, politely, and not self righteously proclaimed what is the truth and not offended the values of any kindly person.
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« Reply #51 on: May 14, 2007, 04:47:00 PM »

Hi Don,

Let me try to give you a short answer why I became Orthodox. Honestly, perhaps the answer closest to the truth is, I don't know. I mean, I cannot explain it rationally. I believe in God and I believe that Christ is the Son of God Who "for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven," etc., you know, what the Nicean-Constantinople Creed says. I believe in every word of it, just believe, one might perhaps say, "buy into it." Maybe it's childish credulity, I won't argue. And because I believe in all these things that the Creed mentions, I want, I have always wanted to enter this "Kingdom that will have no end," to live eternally with God. And I believe that this life has already started, has begun, in this mysterious, definition-defying thing that is called Church. Again, I feel it rather than rationally am able to explain it. And that Church is the Orthodox Church. I am there because "it's good for me to be there" (Matthew 17:4).

Best wishes,

George
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« Reply #52 on: May 14, 2007, 04:54:29 PM »

I mean, I cannot explain it rationally.

That is probably one of the best explanations I have read and can relate completely.  So much and so many aspects of your being pulls you towards Holy Orthodoxy, but at the same time you cannot put it to words or do it proper justice.
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« Reply #53 on: May 14, 2007, 06:27:20 PM »

Thank you, Friul. --G.
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« Reply #54 on: May 14, 2007, 10:14:49 PM »

As a recent convert, I thought I'd better chime in. Smiley  I just became Orthodox this past Theophany, 2007.  I was a Greek Melkite Catholic for 12 years, raised southern baptist.  I became Orthodox fundamentally because I came to see that Rome's claims about papal supremacy and infallibility were not true and that the official Roman scholastic theology was riddled with contradictions and errors.  I wanted the pure thing.  So, I came to believe that the pure faith, delivered from Christ to the apostles to their successors, has been kept in its entirety, without distortion, only in the Orthodox Church.  I regard Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics, and Protestants as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But, I regard their Churches and communions as being in error since they have either departed from the Orthodox faith in substantial matters (protestants) or they have distorted the Orthodox faith with a faulty ecclesiology and unnecessary additions (Roman Catholicism).

Joe
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« Reply #55 on: May 17, 2007, 12:22:24 PM »

If Buddhalover should come back to this thread, I have a copy of "Zen at War" waiting for me at the local book shop.  My suspicions are that the promoting of WWII he mentions is more due to Japanese Nationalism and social aspects then to something zen/Buddhist

Ebor
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« Reply #56 on: June 04, 2007, 09:34:57 PM »

Serge (a frequent contributor to this forum) has a great link on Buddhism vis-a-vis Orthodoxy

http://www.angelfire.com/pa3/OldWorldBasic/Buddhism_to_Orthodoxy.htm
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« Reply #57 on: June 06, 2007, 10:58:31 AM »

As a recent convert, I thought I'd better chime in. Smiley  I just became Orthodox this past Theophany, 2007.  I was a Greek Melkite Catholic for 12 years, raised southern baptist.  I became Orthodox fundamentally because I came to see that Rome's claims about papal supremacy and infallibility were not true and that the official Roman scholastic theology was riddled with contradictions and errors.  I wanted the pure thing.  So, I came to believe that the pure faith, delivered from Christ to the apostles to their successors, has been kept in its entirety, without distortion, only in the Orthodox Church.  I regard Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics, and Protestants as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  But, I regard their Churches and communions as being in error since they have either departed from the Orthodox faith in substantial matters (protestants) or they have distorted the Orthodox faith with a faulty ecclesiology and unnecessary additions (Roman Catholicism).Joe

Interesting, Joe.  Much of that good post could be lifted from my own journal.  I was raised Roman Catholic, and I came back to it five years ago after having a religious conversion in my life.  However, I have come to the same conclusions about papal claims, etc., and I am inclined towards Orthodoxy for (as you put it) "the pure thing." 

Neverthless, there is a part of me that wonders just how pure is it?  With the Protestants I wonder:  isn't all this fuss and bother over theology and liturgy unessential and distracting?  Yet, what keeps me from going Protestent is the multitude of denominations.  Maybe plurality is good to some degree, but I would like some unity in essentials, and Protestantism doesn't seem to have much more in common among its denominations than Jesus and the Bible.  But, I know (and crave) that there is much more to salvation; there is also theosis.   

Also, there is part of me that wants to stick with what I know (Catholicism) rather than try something else (Orthodoxy), to "bloom where I'm planted" so to speak. 

And so it goes  . . .


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« Reply #58 on: June 27, 2007, 10:51:31 AM »

In response to the original poster, I actually came to Orthodoxy (to Christ, really) for the reasons you describe as keeping you away.  I once thought that doing my own thing, making up my own belief system(s), and doing whatever I felt like while avoiding traditional morality were my inalienable rights.  I thought that everyone should just do what came naturally to them, and listen to the Earth Mother, or if they were going through bad times try on a little nihilism.  You know, whatevs.  Anything goes.  Unfortunately, I learned the really hard way that doing whatever you want and doing what comes "naturally" can lead to some really bad things.  Some people are more moderate by nature, and may not have as well-developed a sense of personal sin.  But for most of us, moral relativism and stark rationalism are deadly.

Anyway, a year ago came a breaking point.  My early twenties had been filled with so much sin and unhappiness and pain that I just didn't know where to turn for comfort, or more importantly, guidance.  On a whim, not even with much interest, I was home one day looking for something to read and I came across my grandmother's copy of Mere Christianity.  I devoured it and all of Lewis' apologetics in about two weeks.  Christianity, what had been a personal scapegoat and source of contempt for me for so long, revealed the Truth to me. I know that Orthodoxy doesn't emphasize redemption as much as Catholicism, but before I even knew about theosis or union with God or fruits of the Spirit, I read "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more".  These words of the Savior are what made me want to get as close to him as possible, and searching for his Church led me to Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #59 on: June 27, 2007, 11:08:07 AM »

At last we are back on topic, I knew it would happen if I left it open.  Lets remember to keep our discussions on topic.

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« Reply #60 on: June 27, 2007, 01:38:31 PM »

In response to the original poster, I actually came to Orthodoxy (to Christ, really) for the reasons you describe as keeping you away.  I once thought that doing my own thing, making up my own belief system(s), and doing whatever I felt like while avoiding traditional morality were my inalienable rights.  I thought that everyone should just do what came naturally to them, and listen to the Earth Mother, or if they were going through bad times try on a little nihilism.  You know, whatevs.  Anything goes.  Unfortunately, I learned the really hard way that doing whatever you want and doing what comes "naturally" can lead to some really bad things.  Some people are more moderate by nature, and may not have as well-developed a sense of personal sin.  But for most of us, moral relativism and stark rationalism are deadly.

Anyway, a year ago came a breaking point.  My early twenties had been filled with so much sin and unhappiness and pain that I just didn't know where to turn for comfort, or more importantly, guidance.  On a whim, not even with much interest, I was home one day looking for something to read and I came across my grandmother's copy of Mere Christianity.  I devoured it and all of Lewis' apologetics in about two weeks.  Christianity, what had been a personal scapegoat and source of contempt for me for so long, revealed the Truth to me. I know that Orthodoxy doesn't emphasize redemption as much as Catholicism, but before I even knew about theosis or union with God or fruits of the Spirit, I read "Neither do I condemn you; go, and sin no more".  These words of the Savior are what made me want to get as close to him as possible, and searching for his Church led me to Orthodoxy.

My God, that's beautiful.   Smiley  God be praised !

It reminds me somewhat of my own road back to Jesus Christ, but that is for another post...

Thank you for sharing that Smiley.

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« Reply #61 on: December 19, 2012, 10:36:41 AM »

 Dear Don
   God has made the world the way it is and no matter what we think or how we want it to be we can't change how God has made it.
  Everybody has there own version of how they want the world and Christianity to be, but that doesn't mean we should say it is they way we want it. We should learn to accept Christianity and the world the way God has made it not they way we want. And the way God has made it is how it is written in the Holy Bible and it is obvious that the Eastern Orthodox Church is the only Church following it Fully as it is written in the Holy Bible.
                                Please read the book of the prophecies in the old testament and all of the new testament and you'll see that it is true. PLEASE TRY.
  God Bless You and keep You and give you More Knowledge.
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« Reply #62 on: December 19, 2012, 12:21:00 PM »

The saints in the orthodox church are so full of giant compassionate love and deep humility that you cannot find such people in other religions. That's why I'll be forever orthodox(God may help me by your prayers to stand firm to end). It fills my soul with endless faith to know that I've been trying to walk to the highest top of spiritual life.
Read the life of the saints (especially of the contemporary)
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« Reply #63 on: December 19, 2012, 01:27:26 PM »

The teachings of Orthodoxy makes more sense, and they are related to one another.  Sometimes you don't even have to learn about everything, you learn one and apply the concept to other things.  In Catholicism, every aspect seems like a separate subject, totally independent from one another.  And often it is so hard to fit the puzzles together.  For example, the ecclesiology of the Catholic Church has no theological basis anywhere else in Christianity.  They base it off an interpretation of one verse in the Bible.  I know of cults who base the existence of their church from one verse in the Bible.  Orthodox ecclesiology is synonymous to the theology of the Eucharist and the Holy Trinity.
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« Reply #64 on: December 19, 2012, 02:31:14 PM »

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Why did you convert to Orthodoxy?


Better Worship Service. Though my situation is the nearest Orthodox Church is a good distance to the Cityview area of Benbrook.
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