Alright, I have a question for Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyters, Baptists, and Pentecostals.
I participate on a certain electronic discussion-oriented service run by Catholics. Now, without meaning to put too fine a point on it, I have noticed that large numbers of protestants participate there despite the fact that it isn't exactly very friendly toward protestants (nor any other non-Catholic Christians, or non-Christians).
With that in mind, it always puzzles me when I come here and see a much, much lower level of protestant participation. Do any of you have any idea of why that is?
IF I may venture a guess (and a personal 'reason') And PLEASE, I mean no disrespect WHATSOEVER to any, just trying to respond to the question... in FULL awareness that everything I here say could be absolutely wrong.
1. Until I met a Greek Orthodox person in college, I don't think I knew a THING about Orthodoxy - other than what I was taught as a Catholic, namely, these were Eastern Catholics who stubbornly refused to submit to the Infallible Vicar of Christ but rebelled against the Church Jesus founded. Indeed, I was told the Orthodox Church was the original Protestants. That's what I was told and I never heard a word otherwise. I was quite stunned when I met my friend (I was already investigating Lutheranism by then). I found MUCH of what she said quite interesting and refreshing. As I gave my reasons for leaving the Catholic Church, she stunned me by AGREEING on virtually every point.
2. For many years before that, I was (way too) active at Christian discussion forums - most of the Catholic but a few interdenominational/ecumenical. These had a lot of various Protestants and a lot of Catholics but very few Orthodox. And what FEW Orthodox were there, they simply seemed to follow the Catholics around and post "me, too." I don't recall a single case when an Orthodox poster ever disagreed with a Catholic one. Not once did any Catholic ever disagree with any Orthodox, either although usually the Catholics just ignored the Orthodox posters. This gave me the impression that the Orthodox were Catholics who worshiped in languages other the English... I didn't know how to incorporate that with what I had been told that the Orthodox were the original Protestants who rebelled against God's Church and the Authority of Christ on Earth.
3. In my discussions with my Greek Orthodox friend..... and 3 different Orthodox pastors that she has directed me to..... I've come to embrace that 1200 years of separation has resulting in some very different ways of approaching these things. She speaks often of very different paradigms that makes conversations difficult. She stressed that in her converstations with "Western" Chrstians, there's much "talking past" each other. Such is always the fault of both sides.
4. Roughly about the same time as I met my Greek friend, I began attending the "Greek Festival" at the local Greek Orthodox Church. It's a BIG, BIG community event. Greek foods, Greek dancers, Greek venders, Greek desserts, even Greek wine and beer (who would have known there is Greek beer!). I love the event and go just about every year. I love the food, the kids are so adorable to watch dance, I get out there on the floor and TRY to do that line dance. And every year, the pastor does a tour of the church and gives a little talk about Orthodoxy. MY impressions of all this is that the Greek Orthodox Church is very, very, very GREEK. The program was full of ads about GREEK things. It gave the names of the leaders of the church - nearly all had GREEK names. It plugged classed in learning to speak GREEK. And the pastor's talk - it STRESSED Greek. Greek this, Greek that. I've heard him 3 or 4 times now, and I don't recall him mentioning Christ or the Eucharist or mercy.... just a lot about what GREEKS do, this is GREEK worship. One year, I remember someone raising their hand to ask a question and he okayed that; the question was why the Greek Church left the Catholic Church (I'm SURE the questioner meant no offense - just YET ANOTHER ignorant Catholic, told EXACTLY what I was). He was obviously disturbed by the question but realize no offense was meant and so smiled nicely and said, "It's complex." That's all he said., that's exactly what he said. The whole point I got was: this is for Greeks. I'm a blonde/blue German/American. Oh, and he had this big, thick beard - and I can't grow a beard (hardly anything there - and it's blonde so you can't see it IF I could grow one!). This is NOT
for us. That
is the powerful, powerful message I got. Perhaps I misunderstood.
Again PLEASE, PLEASE I mean no disrespect whatsoever.... and ONLY sharing my feelings (in full acceptance they could be wrong).