Author Topic: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox  (Read 4988 times)

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Offline Labosseuse

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Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« on: May 09, 2007, 11:42:02 AM »
Once one has converted to Orthodoxy, what are the guidelines for spiritual association with non-Orthodox?  Are they typically allowed to have Bible studies with them?  Are they allowed to take communion with them?  Are there general guidelines, or should we just talk to our priest? 
"The act of faith is a constant dialogue with doubt." Bishop J.T. Robinson

Offline Veniamin

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2007, 11:57:17 AM »
Once one has converted to Orthodoxy, what are the guidelines for spiritual association with non-Orthodox?  Are they typically allowed to have Bible studies with them?  Are they allowed to take communion with them?  Are there general guidelines, or should we just talk to our priest?

Communion, absolutely not!  For other stuff, it's best to talk to your priest, especially for a recent convert.  It's not so much a "non-Orthodox=evil" issue as it is that being new to the faith, one might not yet have the discernment to separate what is good in their teachings from what is misguided.  As always, though, ttyp. :)
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Offline Labosseuse

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2007, 12:04:51 PM »
Now, what is the reasoning on the policy of no communion?  I've never really been a fan of communion anywhere but church, but I still want to understand why this is the teaching.
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Offline Carole

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2007, 12:11:41 PM »
Now, what is the reasoning on the policy of no communion?  I've never really been a fan of communion anywhere but church, but I still want to understand why this is the teaching.

I would assume that much like the Catholic Church the reasons would have to do with the fact that communion in a Protestant church would not be a valid or licit sacrament.  And that publicly partaking of communion implies being in full communion with the group/denomination with whom you are partaking.  It is an acknowledgment and acceptance of the theology and doctrines of the group you are with.  I tend to think that doing anything that implies agreement with a group whose teachings are not Orthodox (and possibly heretical) would be at the best problematic.

Though this is my purely speculative opinion.
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Offline FrChris

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2007, 12:40:58 PM »
And that publicly partaking of communion implies being in full communion with the group/denomination with whom you are partaking.  It is an acknowledgment and acceptance of the theology and doctrines of the group you are with.  I tend to think that doing anything that implies agreement with a group whose teachings are not Orthodox (and possibly heretical) would be at the best problematic.

Though this is my purely speculative opinion.

This hits it dead on.

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Offline authio

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2007, 01:28:33 PM »
And that publicly partaking of communion implies being in full communion with the group/denomination with whom you are partaking.  It is an acknowledgment and acceptance of the theology and doctrines of the group you are with.  I tend to think that doing anything that implies agreement with a group whose teachings are not Orthodox (and possibly heretical) would be at the best problematic.

Also something to discuss with your priest is prayers with another tradition.  Like if you go to a Baptist church whether to participate in the prayers or singing or anything at all.
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Offline Thomas

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2007, 01:57:00 PM »
The  Orthodox Church would prefer if they were coming to an Orthodox Church to pray, Bible Study etc, rather than you as an Orthodox Christian going to their church for these things.

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Offline pensateomnia

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2007, 03:19:09 PM »
Once one has converted to Orthodoxy, what are the guidelines for spiritual association with non-Orthodox?

It depends on what you mean by "spiritual association."

In general, one should not look to non-Orthodox sources or teachers as a source of instruction or spiritual guidance. In other words, one's primary identity and spiritual home should indeed be the Orthodox Church; and one's primary source for prayer, inspiration, spiritual guidance, advice, spiritual fellowship, catechism and mystagogy should be Orthodox Christian Bishops, clergy and/or experienced faithful.

Must one avoid non-Orthodox? Absolutely not. Should one shun one's family, friends or neighbors? Certainly not. Common sense, charity and love are paramount.

At the same time, one's loyalty and convictions should be clear at all times. This often means that "spiritual association" -- i.e. explicitly religious, theological or prayer-related events or activities -- is difficult or uncomfortable with many of one's previous co-religionists, especially because many of these former brethren may have been in some sort of position of authority over you (e.g. parent, pastor, elder, teacher, etc.) and now they most certainly are not.

Are they typically allowed to have Bible studies with them?

Does a typical convert do so? No. In my experience, most converts have more than enough spiritual food to digest within their new spiritual home and thus find such things as Bible studies at non-Orthodox Churches or para-church organizations distracting, frustrating or tepid in comparison to what their Orthodox parish has to offer. But, as always, everything depends on the individual case and the advice of one's parish priest.

Are they allowed to take communion with them?

Absolutely not! In fact, if one were to knowingly and intentionally partake of any non-Orthodox sacrament (especially Holy Communion!!), one would no longer be considered an Orthodox Christian in good standing. Repentance, confession and perhaps a period of penance, depending on the specific details of the case and the discernment of the priest, would be required before one could be re-instated as an active Orthodox Christian in good standing.

There are very, very few exceptions to this (e.g. there have been times in Church history when certain Bishops have approved the reception of non-Orthodox sacraments in dire and extreme cases, such as when one is on one's death bed...but even that is by no means universal).

Others have explained the theological and spiritual reasons for this. Here's one more brief explanation from a short online catechism:

Quote
http://www.uocc.ca/en-ca/faith/beliefs/

COMMUNION, HOLY: Holy Communion, also referred to as the Holy Eucharist, is the greatest of all the HOLY MYSTERIES. It stands at the center of the Orthodox Church's life. Known by the saints as the "medicine of immortality and the antidote to death", the Orthodox Church believes that, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Christ. With this understanding, the Church teaches that Holy Communion effects a physical and spiritual union between the believer and Christ, and through Christ between all believers. It is through the fellowship of the Eucharist that the Church is the "Body of Christ".

Because of its connection with membership in the "Body of Christ", the Orthodox permit only those adults, children and infants who are baptized and chrismated Orthodox Faithful, and who are in good standing with the Church (i.e. leading a life that does not jeopardize the individual's personal relationship with Christ — see "CONFESSION") to receive Communion in the Orthodox Church. Likewise, an Orthodox believer is not permitted to receive Holy Communion in an non-Orthodox Church, as the sign value of this act — for the Orthodox — is an affirmation of membership in that body. Intercommunion with other Christian faith traditions is looked upon by the Orthodox as the consummation of a process of doctrinal and administrative reconciliation, and not as a good faith gesture for the hope for unification in the future.

In other words, communion is co-union; it is the supreme expression of complete and total unity in the Lord. Unfortunately, it is a tragic fact that many Christians are not united with us. While we can pray for God's Holy Spirit to change this situation, we cannot pretend that reality is other than it is. Such would be a mockery of true spiritual unity.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2007, 03:22:03 PM by pensateomnia »
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2007, 06:50:12 PM »
Labosseuse, the way I understand it:

Communion - absolutely not. The Holy Mystery of Eucharist in the Orthodox Church absolutely cannot be replaced by Protestant Communion. The latter is a nice, good-hearted traditional ceremony, but, as long as Protestants are not in the line of the Apostolic Succession, their Communion is not actually a true Sacrament. I believe that we (the Orthodox) should not give them a wrong message by partaking in it, thus implying that we believe in the validity of the ceremony, in the "sacramentality" of it. Also, I understand and support what Pensateomnia wrote and quoted.

Bible studies: I'd say possible, but do you really want them? Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to "study" Scripture in one of those "classes" popular among Protestants. I've done it a lot and I really, honestly cannot say that they are in any way useful. Just what IS there to "study?" Holy Scripture is not a textbook... You don't "study" it, you just live by it.

All Best,

George
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Offline authio

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2007, 08:01:58 PM »
Labosseuse, the way I understand it:

Communion - absolutely not. The Holy Mystery of Eucharist in the Orthodox Church absolutely cannot be replaced by Protestant Communion. The latter is a nice, good-hearted traditional ceremony, but, as long as Protestants are not in the line of the Apostolic Succession, their Communion is not actually a true Sacrament. I believe that we (the Orthodox) should not give them a wrong message by partaking in it, thus implying that we believe in the validity of the ceremony, in the "sacramentality" of it. Also, I understand and support what Pensateomnia wrote and quoted.

Bible studies: I'd say possible, but do you really want them? Personally, I have no desire whatsoever to "study" Scripture in one of those "classes" popular among Protestants. I've done it a lot and I really, honestly cannot say that they are in any way useful. Just what IS there to "study?" Holy Scripture is not a textbook... You don't "study" it, you just live by it.

All Best,

George


In the Orthodox Church we're not concerned with the 'validity' of any other worship, we are interested in the Truth of the Worship (hence Orthodox: True/Correct Worship/Glory).  While they may say the same words, Protestants simply don't believe in the same Truth Who is a Person we can behold and glorify for the last two thousand years.  Protestantism is based on a truth that somehow appeared in the last 500 years.  He wasn't on earth yesterday - he was on earth ages ago.

Here's a shorter way to put it: I don't see Protestants (high or low church) who worship Christ (who) is the ever-existing one, and is blessed at all times, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen!
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Offline Labosseuse

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2007, 08:06:58 PM »

In the Orthodox Church we're not concerned with the 'validity' of any other worship, we are interested in the Truth of the Worship (hence Orthodox: True/Correct Worship/Glory).  While they may say the same words, Protestants simply don't believe in the same Truth Who is a Person we can behold and glorify for the last two thousand years.  Protestantism is based on a truth that somehow appeared in the last 500 years.  He wasn't on earth yesterday - he was on earth ages ago.

Here's a shorter way to put it: I don't see Protestants (high or low church) who worship Christ (who) is the ever-existing one, and is blessed at all times, always, now and ever and unto ages of ages.  Amen!

Authiodionitist,

What do you mean by this?  Are you saying that Protestants don't worship the true God?  Would you say, then, that all Protestants are apostate and that the Orthodox should not associate with them at all? 
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Offline Simayan

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2007, 09:15:57 PM »
Once again, it depends what you mean by associate. Should you keep protestant friends, eat dinner in a baptist's home, show them unconditional love, etc? Absolutely!

Do protestants worship God? Yes. Perhaps not the way we would like, but they do. (Of course, I'm referring to Trinitarian protestants, like Anglicans and Episcopalians, not Jehovah's Witnesses).


Now, as for church going and inter-communion, perhaps in extreme circumstances, but even then it would probably only include Catholics, and maybe Anglicans. The only excuse for taking their communion would be if you're on a deathbed and there are no Orthodox priests within 100 miles. In addition, attending a Trinitarian service would be doable if there are no Orthodox Churches within driving distance.

However, one should never, EVER, attend a service regularly where Jesus is not referred to as God.


I assume there's a little more leeway with Oriental Orthodox, seeing as almost everything is the same. But that's up to the Bishop. (I know I've heard my priest pass along a message from our Metropolitan that all Orientals should be given communion, as there are no Oriental churches in 75-100 miles, and most are terrified Ethiopian immigrants).

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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2007, 01:27:52 PM »
Labosseuse,

Forgive me for answering instead of Authiodionitist, and forgive me if I am wrong (I am, of course, new in the Orthodox Church), but I do absolutely believe that Trinitatian Protestants (not only Episcopalians/Anglicans, but also Presbyterians, Lutherans and Evangelicals - Baptists, Methodists, Church of Christ, etc.) worship exactly the same triune God, the Holy Trinity. We should not partake in communion with them not because they worship a different God or are a "different religion." We should not partake in communion with them simply because they are not in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, which is the Orthodox Church. They are certainly Christians, but they are, in a way, "catechumens" - still standing outside of the Church, some of them learning and getting ready to enter this Church, other remaining in their delusion that they are "also" "church" or "churches." And if we partake in communion with them, we thus are sending them a wrong message that they are right in their delusion, that they are "aslo" "a church" or "churches" or "parts of a Universal Invisible Church," etc. We have to stick to the notion that the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church is not a symbol, not a purely spiritual union of all who think of themselves as Christians, and not even a "purely spiritual union" of real, true, sincerely faithful Christians who share the same true doctrine. It is a very visible, very tangible thing, it has its quite visible and tangible hierarchy and Sacraments (or, more exactly, Holy Mysteries). God willing, our dear Protetant brothers and sisters will sooner orlater "graduate" from their "catechumenship" and enter this Church.

Best wishes,

George
« Last Edit: May 11, 2007, 01:29:42 PM by Heorhij »
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Offline J.M.C

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #13 on: May 13, 2007, 05:00:36 AM »
Labosseuse,
They are certainly Christians, but they are, in a way, "catechumens" - still standing outside of the Church, some of them learning and getting ready to enter this Church, other remaining in their delusion that they are "also" "church" or "churches."

I like that way of thinking about heterodox Christians!

I would agree with the posters who have cautioned against going to non-Orthodox services, and questioning why they would need to go to non-Orthodox bible studies. However the issue with Bible studies brings me onto another question: what about going to Bible studies as a means of opening up dialogue, possibly leading to evangelism of some sort?

I suppose inviting non-Orthodox Christians to a Divine Liturgy is better than Orthodox Christians going to a Protestant church, but sometimes that isn't always possible (in Beijing, the only Liturgies performed are in the grounds of the Russian embassy: therefore Chinese citizens are not allowed). Would going to a Protestant Bible study be acceptable in this case? Or would it be seen as dangerous/dishonest/un-gracious?

Jonathan
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Offline Heorhij

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #14 on: May 13, 2007, 06:35:03 PM »
Jonathan, thank you, you are right... I wrote my reply to Labosseuse, thinking only about what *we*, those who are already Orthodox, can benefit from associating with the heterodox, not the other way around. Your reply made me think from that other perspective.

I just wanted to stress, again - and maybe that is a topic for another discussion, - that the more I go to the Divine Liturgy at our Orthodox parish, the more I pray in front of the Holy Icons, fast, confess, partake of the Holy Eucharist, - the LESS I feel the need to "discuss" things with the heterodox, and especially to "study" Scripture with them. It's amazing because just a couple of years ago, I used to love all these "discussions," "lessons," etc. Now, my feeling is, sort of, like the feeling of St. Peter, when he, standing in front of our Lord Who had transfigured, said, "Lord, it's GOOD FOR US TO BE HERE." I feel exactly this: that it's just "good to be here," in the Orthodox Church, and there is absolutely nothing to "discuss" or even "study" (in a Protestant sense)...

George
« Last Edit: May 13, 2007, 06:36:58 PM by Heorhij »
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Offline JSOrthodoxy

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #15 on: May 14, 2007, 10:24:39 PM »
Boy I have a confession to make.  Not long after I became Orthodox I went to discuss spiritual matters and confess to my former spiritual father, who is a Ukranian Greek Catholic monk and iconographer (and 100% supportive of my becoming Orthodox).  He pronounced the absolution over me.  I later told my parish priest.  He just told me not to seek absolution outside of an Orthodox priest, he heard my confession, and granted me absolution.  Am I excommunicated though?  I hope not.  He didn't say that I need to do a time of penance or be re-admitted to the Church.  My priest just heard my confession and admitted me back to communion.  I've also heard of some joint byzantine Catholic-Orthodox parishes where Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic priests have served together and people (whether Orthodox or Catholic) go to whichever priest is available (Catholic or Orthodox).  Are these confessions no good?  Have people broken communion without knowing it?

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Offline Innocent_T

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2007, 11:33:02 PM »
Quote
I feel exactly this: that it's just "good to be here," in the Orthodox Church, and there is absolutely nothing to "discuss" or even "study" (in a Protestant sense)...
XB!
Very nicely put. In addition I am getting always the chills when I hear about "bible study". The reason being is that the "bible studies" I attended before I was Orthodox was more like a collection of different opinions of the people present at that "bible study" what they feel about a certain scripture passage. There were all kinds of opinions voiced what this scripture passage could mean but never was the scripture being looked at in the context of the church teaching.
So I would certainly encourage a bible study where the scripture is being read in the context of the church - that means: what do the Fathers teach about it , up to: what does our current bishop have to say about this scripture passage. And I would think that is very hard to find outside the orthodox church.
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Offline recent convert

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2007, 08:44:06 AM »
In response to original post, Here is what I do in a Roman Catholic service with a relation: Of course communion is out and this is mutually understood. I silently read the Nicene Creed from my Orthodox prayer book while the creed with the filioque is recited and I kneel in prayer out of respect. Certainly it would seem that the pater noster can be prayed and I carefully listen to what is prayed otherwise. If in a Protestant setting the parameters vary; most mainlines recite the Apostles Creed (entirely Orthodox) and also pray the Pater Noster. "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits..." (1 John 4:1) a Uniate I corresponded with has a picture (to his horror) on his blog of a novus ordo RC church of stained glass of graven images of other religions' "prophets." As far as community work, in my locality a free medical clinic is administered by a Roman Catholic church and a Lutheran church; our priest said it was fine to encourage donations to help these good people (or even to help them directly of course). "Test all things, hold fast what is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21. Association should be encouraged but with discernment.
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Offline Sarah

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2007, 10:11:15 AM »
The only excuse for taking their communion would be if you're on a deathbed and there are no Orthodox priests within 100 miles.

I disagree.  I can think of no reason to take some other church's communion, and I certainly wouldn't want one of my last acts on Earth to be essentially denying Christ and His Church by doing so.

Offline drewmeister2

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #19 on: May 16, 2007, 02:19:50 PM »
On Praying with Heretics

Canon XLV of the Holy Apostles:

"Let any Bishop, or Presbyter, or deacon that merely joins in prayer with heretics be suspended, but if he had permitted them to perform any service as Clergymen, let him be deposed."

Canon LXV Of the Holy Apostles:

"If any clergymen, or laymen, enter a synagogue of Jews, or of heretics, to pray, let him be both deposed and excommunicated."

Canon IX of Laodicia (Also approved by the Ecumenical Synods):

"Concerning the fact that those belonging to the Church must not be allowed to go visiting the cemeteries or the so called martyria of any heretics, for the purpose of prayer or of cure, but, on the contrary, those who do so, if they be among the faithful, shall be excluded from communion for a time until they repent and confess their having made a mistake, when they may be readmitted to communion."

Canon XXXIII of Laodicia:

"One must not join in prayer with heretics or schismatics."

The Extraordinary Joint Conference of the Sacred Community on Mount Athos:

April 9/22, 1980 Full Text

3. Theological dialogue must not in any way be linked with prayer in common, or by joint participation in any liturgical or worship services whatsoever; or in other activities which might create the impression that our Orthodox Church accepts, on the one hand, Roman Catholics as part of the fulness of the Church, or, on the other hand, the Pope as the canonical bishop of Rome. Activities such as these mislead both the fulness of the Orthodox people and the Roman Catholics themselves, fostering among them a mistaken notion as to what Orthodoxy thinks of their teaching.

On the Date for Celebrating Pascha

Canon VII of the Holy Apostles:

If any Bishop, or Presbyter, or Deacon celebrate the holy day of Easter before the vernal equinox with the Jews, let him be deposed.

Canon I of Antioch:

As for all persons who dare to violate the definition of the holy and great Synod convened in Nicaea in the presence of Eusebeia, the consort of the most God-beloved Emperor Constantine, concerning the holy festival of the soterial Pascha, we decree that they be excluded from Communion and be outcasts from the Church if they persist more captiously in objecting to the decisions that have been made as most fitting in regard thereto; and let these things be said with reference to laymen. But if any of the person occupying prominent positions in the Church, such as a Bishop, or a Presbyter, or a Deacon, after the adoption of this definition, should dare to insist upon having his own way, to the perversion of the laity, and to the disturbance of the church, and upon celebrating Pascha along with the Jews, the holy Synod has hence judged that person to be an alien to the Church, on the ground that he has not only become guilty of sin by himself, but has also been the cause of corruption and perversion among the multitude. Accordingly, it not only deposes such persons from the liturgy, but also those who dare to commune with them after their deposition. Moreover, those who have been deposed are to be deprived of the external honor too of which the holy Canon and God's priesthood have partaken.

See also the Sigillon of 1583 which anathematized the Gregorian and Papal Calendar.

On Separating from Heretical Hierarchs

From St. Basil's first canon:

Schisms is the name applied to those who on account of ecclesiastical causes and remediable questions have developed a quarrel amongst themselves. Parasynagogues is the name applied to gatherings held by insubordinate presbyters or bishops, and those held by uneducated laities. As, for instance, when one has been arraigned for a misdemeanor held aloof from liturgy and refused to submit to the Canons, but laid claim to the presidency and liturgy for himself, and some other persons departed with him, leaving the catholic Church—that is a parasynagogue.

Apostolic Canon XXXI:

"If any Presbyter, condemning his own bishop, draw people aside and set up another altar, without finding anything wrong with the Bishop in point of piety and righteousness, let him be deposed, on the ground that he is an office-seeker. For he is a tyrant. Let the rest of clergymen be treated likewise, and all those who abet him. But let the laymen be excommunicated. Let these things be done after one, and a second, and a third request of the Bishop."

Interpretation (of Ss. Nikodemos and Agapios):

"Order sustains the coherence of both heavenly things and earthly things, according to St. Gregory the Theologian. So good order ought to be kept everywhere as helping coherence and preserving the established system, and especially among ecclesiastics, who need to know their own standards, and to avoid exceeding the limits and bounds of their own class. But as for Presbyters, and Deacons, and all clergymen they ought to submit to their own Bishop; the Bishops, in turn, to their own Metropolitan; the Metropolitans, to their own Patriarch. On this account the present Apostolical Canon ordains as follows: Any presbyter that scorns his own bishop, and without knowing that the latter is manifestly at fault either in point of piety or in point of righteousness—that is to say, without knowing him to be manifestly either heretical or unjust—proceeds to gather the Christians into a distinct group and to build another church, and should hold services seperately, without the permission and approval of his bishop in so doing, on the ground of his being an office-seeker he is to be deposed; since like a tyrant with violence and tyranny he is trying to wrest away the authority which belongs to his bishop. But also any other clergymen that agree with him in such apostasy must be deposed from office too just as he must; but as for those who are laymen, let them be excommunicated. These things, however, are to be done after the bishop three times gently and blandly urges those who have seperated from him to forgo such a movement, and they obstinately refuse to do so. As for those, however, who seperate from their bishop before a synodical investigation because he himself is preaching some misbelief and heresy publicly, not only are not subject to the above penances, but have a right to claim the honor due to Orthodox Christians according to c. XV of the 1st & 2nd.

Canon XV of the 1st & 2nd:

"The rules laid down with reference to Presbyters and Bishops and Metropolitans are still more applicable to Patriarchs. So that in case any Presbyter or Bishop or Metropolitan dares to secede or apostatize from the communion of his own Patriarch, and fails to mention the latter's name in accordance with custom duly fixed and ordained, in the divine Mystagogy, but, before a conciliar verdict has been pronounced and has passed judgement against him, creates a schism, the holy Synod has decreed that this person shall be held an alien to every priestly function if only he be convicted of having committed this transgression of the law. Accordingly, these rules have been sealed and ordained as respecting persons who under the pretext of charges against their own presidents stand aloof, and create a schism, and disrupt the union of the Church. But as for those persons, on the other hand, who, on account of some heresy condemned by holy Synods, or Fathers, withdrawing themselves from communion with their president, who, that is to say, is preaching the heresy publicly, and teaching it bareheaded in church, such persons not only are not subject to any canonical penalty on account of their having walled themselves off from any and all communion with the one called a Bishop before any conciliar or synodical verdict has been rendered, but, on the contrary, they shall be deemed worthy to enjoy the honor which befits them among Orthodox Christians. For they have defied, not Bishops, but pseudo-bishops and pseudo-teachers; and they have not sundered the union of the Church with any schism, but, on the contrary, have been sedulous to rescue the Church from schisms and divisions."

Comments on the First-Second Synod found in the Life of St. Photios the Great by the eminent Serbian scholar and Saint, Hieromonk Justin (Popovich) of Chelije (From Saint Photios, On the Mystagogy of the Holy Spirit, trans. by Holy Transfiguration Monastery (Studion Publishers, 1983):

Maintaining his meekness, his love for order, and the canons of the Church, St. Photios called a second Council to convene in the Church of the Holy Apostles in the spring of 861* with the approval of Emperor Michael. This assembly later came to be known as the First-Second Council. Many bishops, including the representatives of Pope Nicholas, were in attendance. All confirmed the determinations of the holy Seventh Ecumenical Council, once more condemning the iconoclast heresy, and accepted Photios as the lawful and canonical patriarch. At this Council, seventeen holy canons were promulgated with the purpose of bringing disobedient monks and bishops into harmony with ecclesiastical order and tradition. The disobedient monks were expressly forbidden to desert their lawful bishop under the excuse of the bishop's supposed sinfulness, for such brings disorder and schism to the Church. The holy Council added that only by a conciliar decision could the clergy reject a bishop whom they thought to be sinful. This rule was adopted in direct response to those unreasonably strict monks who had separated themselves from their new Patriarch and his bishops. The holy Council, however, did distinguish between unreasonable rebellion and laudable resistance for the defense of the faith, which it encouraged. In regard to this matter it decreed that should a bishop publicly confess some heresy already condemned by the Holy Fathers and previous councils, one who ceases to commemorate such a bishop even before conciliar condemnation not only is not to be censured, but should be praised as condemning a false bishop. In so doing, moreover, he is not dividing the Church, but struggling for the unity of the Faith (Canon Fifteen).

* The footnote reads: "This Council together with that of 869 are considered the First-Second Council, whose canons are accepted by the Orthodox Church."

On Obedience to the Canons

Canon I of the Second Ecumenical Synod:

"Let not the Symbol of Faith be set aside…but let it remain unchanged: and let every heresy be given over to anathema…"

Canon VII of the Third Ecumenical Synod:

"Let no one be permitted to bring forward, or write or compose a different faith besides that defined by the holy Fathers who assembled with the Holy Spirit in the city of Nicaea. And whoever dares to compose a different faith, or present, or offer [one] to those wishing to turn to the knowledge of the truth…let such, if they be bishops or belong to the clergy, be alien-bishops from the episcopate, and clerics from the clergy—and if they be laymen, let them be given over to anathema."

Canon I of the Fourth Ecumenical Synod:

"We have acknowledged it as just to keep the canons of the holy Fathers set forth at each synod till now."

Excerpt from Divine Prayers and Services of the Catholic Orthodox Church of Christ, compiled and arranged by the Late Reverend Seraphim Nassar (Englewood, NJ: Antiochian Archdiocese of N. America, 1979), p. 1031.:

Now since the Church is one, and that oneness consists primarily and universally of perfect agreement in Orthodox doctrines, it necessarily follows that all those who do not conform to those Orthodox doctrines, whether by addition or omission, or by any innovation of their own, thus changing the truth, are outside this one Holy Church, as one may also ascertain from a review of the sixth and seventh canons of the Second Ecumenical Council, and the first canon of St. Basil the Great.

Canon I of the Sixth Ecumenical Synod, in Trullo:

"…we decree that the faith handed down to us by the eyewitnesses and ministers of the Word, the divinely chosen Apostles, and, further, by the three hundred and eighteen holy and blessed Fathers…who assembled in Nicaea, be preserved inviolate from innovations and changes… Likewise, we also maintain the confession of faith proclaimed by the one hundred and fifty holy Fathers, who assembled in this reigning city under the great Theodosius, our emperor…Likewise, we also seal…the teaching set forth by the two hundred Godbearing Fathers, who assembled the first time in the city of Ephesus under Theodosius, our emperor, the son of Arcadius…

"Likewise, we also confirm in Orthodox manner the confession of faith inscribed by the six hundred and thirty divinelychosen Fathers in the provincial city of Chalcedon under Marcian, our emperor… And further, we also recognize as uttered by the Holy Spirit the pious utterances of the one hundred and sixtyfive Godbearing Fathers, who assembled in this reigning city under Justinian, our emperor of blessed memory, and we teach them to our posterity… And we bind ourselves anew to preserve inviolably…the confession of faith of the Sixth Synod that came together recently under our emperor, Constantine of blessed memory, in this reigning city... Speaking briefly, we enact that the faith of all of the men who have been glorified in the Church of God...be kept steadfastly, and that it abide until the end of the age unshaken, together with their divinely handed down writings and dogmas... If anyone at all does not maintain and accept the aforementioned dogmas of piety, and does not think and preach so, but attempts to go against them: let him be anathema, according to the decree previously enacted by the aforementioned holy and blessed Fathers, and let him be excluded and expelled from the Christian estate as an alien."

Canon I of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod:

"For those who have received the priestly dignity, the inscribed canons and enactments serve as testimonies and directions, which we, gladly receiving, sing together with the divinely inspired David unto the Lord, saying: In the way of Thy testimonies have I found delight, as much as in all riches (Psalm 118:14). Likewise, Thou hast ordained as Thy testimonies... righteousness for ever; give me understanding and I shall live (Psalm 118:138, 144). And if the prophetic voice commands us to preserve the testimonies of God forever, and to live in them, then it is manifest that they abide indestructible and unshakeable. For Moses the Godseer also speaks thus: It is not fitting to add to them, nor is it fitting to take away from them (Deuteronomy 12:32). And the divine Apostle Peter, boasting in them, cries: which things the angels desire to look into (I Peter 1:12). Likewise the Apostle Paul also says: But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed [literally, let him be anathema] (Galatians 1:8 ). Inasmuch as this is true, and attested unto us, rejoicing over this, as one that has found great spoil, we receive the divine canons with delight, and we maintain wholly and unshakably the enactment of these canons set forth by the allpraised Apostles, the holy trumpets of the Spirit, and by the six holy Ecumenical Synods, and those assembled locally to issue such commandments, and by our holy Fathers. For they all, being enlightened by one and the same Spirit, ordained what is beneficial. And whomever they give over to anathema, those we also anathematize; and whomever to expulsion, those we also expel, and whomever to excommunication, those we also excommunicate; and whomever they subject to penances, those we likewise subject."

Eighth Proceeding of the Seventh Ecumenical Synod:

Mansi, Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova et Amplissima Collectio [1960], vol. 3, p. 416). Quoted by Dr. Constantine Cavarnos in Orthodox Tradition and Modernism, p. 37.

"If anyone breaks any ecclesiastical tradition, written or unwritten, let him be anathema"

From the Synodicon of the Holy Spirit:

Note: This is subtitled, "A confession and proclamation of the Orthodox piety of the Christians, in which all the impieties of the heretics are overthrown and the definitions of the Catholic Church of Christ are sustained. Through which the enemies of the Holy Spirit are severed from the Church of Christ." This Synodicon (a decision, statement, or tome either originating from a synod possessing conciliar authority) is attributed to Patriarch Germanos the New (1222-1240).

"To those who scorn the venerable and holy ecumenical Synods, and who despise even more their dogmatic and canonical traditions; and to those who say that all things were not perfectly defined and delivered by the synods, but that they left the greater part mysterious, unclear, and untaught, ANATHEMA."

"To those who hold in contempt the sacred and divine canons of our blessed fathers, which, by sustaining the holy Church of God and adorning the whole Christian Church, guide to divine reverence, ANATHEMA."

"To all things innovated and enacted contrary to the Church tradition, teaching, and institution of the holy and ever-memorable fathers, or to anything henceforth so enacted, ANATHEMA."

The Example of St. Maximus the Confessor

From The Life of Our Holy Father St. Maximus the Confessor:

The life of Saint Maximus is also instructive for us. Saint Maximus, though only a simple monk, resisted and cut off communion with every patriarch, metropolitan, archbishop and bishop in the East because of their having been infected with the heresy of Monothelitism. During the first imprisonment of the Saint, the messengers from the Ecumenical Patriarch asked him,

"To which church do you belong? To that of Byzantium, of Rome, Antioch, Alexandria, or Jerusalem? For all these churches, together with the provinces in subjection to them, are in unity. Therefore, if you also belong to the Catholic Church, enter into communion with us at once, lest fashioning for yourself some new and strange pathway, you fall into that which you do not even expect!"

To this the righteous man wisely replied, "Christ the Lord called that Church the Catholic Church which maintains the true and saving confession of the Faith. It was for this confession that He called Peter blessed, and He declared that He would found His Church upon this confession. However, I wish to know the contents of your confession, on the basis of which all churches, as you say, have entered into communion. If it is not opposed to the truth, then neither will I be separated from it."

The confession which they were proposing to the Saint was not Orthodox, of course, and so he refused to comply with their coercions. Furthermore, they were lying about the See of Rome which, in fact, had remained Orthodox. Some time later, at his last interrogation by the Byzantine authorities, the following dialogue took place:

The Saint said, "They [the Patriarchs of Constantinople and Alexandria and all the other heretical bishops of the East] have been deposed and deprived of the priesthood at the local synod which took place recently in Rome. What Mysteries, then, can they perform? Or what spirit will descend upon those who are ordained by them?"

"Then you alone will be saved, and all others will perish?" they objected.

To this the Saint replied, "When all the people in Babylon were worshipping the golden idol, the Three Holy Children did not condemn anyone to perdition. They did not concern themselves with the doings of others, but took care only for themselves, lest they should fall away from true piety. In precisely the same way, when Daniel was cast into the lion's den, he did not condemn any of those who, fulfilling the law of Darius, did not wish to pray to God, but he kept in mind his own duty, and desired rather to die than to sin against his conscience by transgressing the Law of God. God forbid that I should condemn anyone or say that I alone am being saved! However, I shall sooner agree to die than to apostatize in any way from the true Faith and thereby suffer torments of conscience."

"But what will you do," inquired the envoys, "when the Romans are united to the Byzantines? Yesterday, indeed, two delegates arrived from Rome and tomorrow, the Lord's day, they will communicate the Holy Mysteries with the Patriarch. "

The Saint replied, "Even if the whole universe holds communion with the Patriarch, I will not communicate with him. For I know from the writings of the holy Apostle Paul: the Holy Spirit declares that even the angels would be anathema if they should begin to preach another Gospel, introducing some new teaching."

As history has demonstrated, Saint Maximus—who was only a simple monk and not even ordained—and his two disciples were the ones who were Orthodox, and all those illustrious, famous and influential Patriarchs and Metropolitans whom the Saint had written against were the ones who were in heresy. When the Sixth Ecumenical Synod was finally convened, among those condemned for heresy were four Patriarchs of Constantinople, one Pope of Rome, one Patriarch of Alexandria, two Patriarchs of Antioch and a multitude of other Metropolitans, Archbishops and Bishops. During all those years, that one simple monk was right, and all those notable bishops were wrong. (pp. 60-62)

Other quotes from The Life:

Those who first defended and dissmeninated the heresy of the Monothelites were Cyrus, Patriarch of Alexandria (630-643), and Sergius, Patriarch of Constantinople (610-638), and even the Emperor Heraclius himself, who was drawn into this heresy by them. Summoning local synods—Cyrus in Alexandria and Sergius in Constantinople—they confirmed this heresy, distributed their decrees everywhere, and corrupted the entire East. Saint Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, alone opposed this heresy and did not accept the false teaching. Saint Maximus, seeing that the heresy had penetrated even into the royal palace and had corrupted the Emperor himself, began to fear lest he also should be corrupted, following the example of the many... He set out for Rome, preferring to live with Orthodox men who firmly preserved the Faith. (p. 2, 4, emphases mine).

[At the urging of Saint Maximus the] Pope convened his bishops, one hundred and five in number, with Abba Maximus in their midst. This was the Lateran Council (A.D. 649): it reviewed the errors of Cyrus, Sergius, Pyrrhus, and Paul, and also the Emperor's heretical confession. The false teachings were anathematized, and the Pope wrote to the faithful in all places, confirming them in their Orthodoxy, explaining the errors of the heretics and warning them in every way to be on their guard against them. (p. 7)

Then Theodosius began to speak, "The Emperor and the Patriarch wish first of all to find out from you why you withdraw yourself from communion with the Throne of Constantinople."

Saint Maximus replied, "You know the innovations which were introduced twenty-one years ago in Alexandria, when Cyrus, the former Patriarch of that city, made public the ‘Nine Chapters’ which had been approved and confirmed by the Throne of Constantinople. There have also been other alterations and additions—the Ekthesis and the Typos—distorting the definitions of the Synods. These innovations were made by the foremost representatives of the Church of Byzantium, Sergius, Pyrrhus, and Paul, and they are known to all the churches. This is the reason why I, your servant, will not enter into communion with the Church of Constantinople. Let these offenses, introduced by the aforementioned men into the Church, be removed; let those who have introduced them be deposed; and then the path to salvation will be cleared of all barriers, and you will walk on the smooth path of the Gospel, cleansed of all heresy! When I see the Church of Constantinople as she was formerly, then I will enter into communion with her without any exhortation on the part of men. But while there are heretical temptations in her, and while heretics are her bishops, no word or deed will convince me ever to enter into communion with her." (19-20, emphases mine)

To this Abba Maximus replied, "To keep silence about a word means to deny it, as the Holy Spirit says through the Prophet, 'There are no tongues nor words in which their voices are not heard' (Ps. 18:3). Therefore, if some word is not said, then it is not a word at all4."

Then Troilus said, "Have whatever faith you please in your heart; nobody forbids you."

Saint Maximus objected: "But complete salvation depends not on the faith of the heart alone, but also upon confessing it, for the Lord said, 'Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in Heaven' (Matt. 10:33). Also, the divine Apostle teaches: 'For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation' (Rom. 10:10). If, then, God and the divine Prophets and Apostles command that they mystery of faith be confessed in words and with the tongue, and this mystery of faith brings salvation to the whole world, then people must not be forced to keep silence with regard to confession, lest the salvation of people be hindered." (p. 29)

The Example of St. Mark of Ephesus

He addressed the faithful on the day of his repose. This is an excerpt:

Concerning the Patriarch I shall say this, lest it should perhaps occur to him to show me a certain respect at the burial of this my humble body, or to send to my grave any of his heirarchs or clergy or in general any of those in communion with him in order to take part in prayer or to join the priests invited to it from amongst us, thinking that at some time, or perhaps secretly, I had allowed communion with him. And lest my silence give occasion to those who do not know my views well and fully to suspect some kind of conciliation, I hereby state and testify before the many worthy men here present that I do not desire, in any manner and absolutely, and do not accept communion with him or with those who are with him, not in this life nor after my death, just as (I accept) neither the Union nor Latin dogmas, which he and his adherents have accepted, and for the enforcement of which he has occupied this presiding place, with the aim of overturning the true dogmas of the Church. I am absolutely convinced that the farther I stand from him and those like him, the nearer I am to God and all the saints, and to the degree that I separate myself from them am in union with the Truth and with the Holy Fathers, the Theologians of the Church; and I am likewise convinced that those who count themselves with them stand far away from the Truth and from the blessed Teachers of the Church. And for this reason I say: just as in the course of my whole life I was separated from them, so at the time of my departure, yea and after my death, I turn away from intercourse and communion with them and vow and command that none (of them) shall approach either my burial or my grave, and likewise anyone else from our side, with the aim of attempting to join and concelebrate in our Divine services; for this would be to mix what cannot be mixed. But it befits them to be absolutely separated from us until such time as God shall grant correction and peace to His Church. [as quoted in The Orthodox Word, June-July, 1967, pp. 103ff.]
« Last Edit: May 16, 2007, 06:20:40 PM by drewmeister2 »
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Offline authio

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2007, 02:20:42 PM »
You know if this really troubles you, ask your priest.  If dissatisfied, most US bishops are pretty accessible via email or telephone....
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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2007, 02:31:17 PM »
I guess blessed St Maximos the confessor was violating canon law in his time.
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Offline Labosseuse

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2007, 06:40:55 PM »
drewmeister2, does this mean that praying with non-Orthodox is forbidden completely?  In my case, I'd be praying with devout Reformed or nondenominational Protestants who confess Jesus Christ as Lord.  Is that allowed?
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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #23 on: May 16, 2007, 07:34:36 PM »
How things work in the real world does not match up with what people say on the Internet.

That is reality.

Offline Labosseuse

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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #24 on: May 16, 2007, 07:42:20 PM »
How things work in the real world does not match up with what people say on the Internet.

That is reality.

Thank you.  I am learning that.  Fortunately I have several Orthodox friends whom I can ask these questions, as well as the priest at the church we've been visiting.
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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #25 on: May 16, 2007, 10:20:22 PM »
I guess blessed St Maximos the confessor was violating canon law in his time.

I recall him breaking communion with everyone. What are you referring to?
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Re: Orthodox associating with non-Orthodox
« Reply #26 on: May 17, 2007, 07:45:12 AM »
I recall him breaking communion with everyone. What are you referring to?
Drewmeister authoritatively posted canon laws which had references to St Maximos the confessor in them ( I do not have time read them all since I only post during my breaks at work). This was a second posting (the first was from an internet cafe, I cannot recall but ROCOR disassociated themselves from it when I checked it yesterday by the sites own admission). Since St Maximos ended up physically maimed by the authorities in his day I concluded that those who enforced canon laws then must have accused him of some violation. The history of this 7th century era is complicated since the Byzantines, Persians, and Moslems were at war with each other. I perceived the posting to be pharasee like; if I am wrong, I apologize.
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