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Author Topic: Denominations Versus "Churches"  (Read 2324 times) Average Rating: 0
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Keble
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« on: June 10, 2003, 12:55:35 PM »

If there's one thing in Orthodoxy that really irritates the heck out of me, it is all this hand-wringing over what to call religious bodies. In general I am going to get bent out of shape when people try to cant discussion with definitional games.

"Denomination" has a perfectly good English definition. If you are speaking English, use it. The Episcopal Church is a denomination; so is the OCA.

Calling Protestant bodies "protosynogues" is inaccurate. It is also so offensive as to border on willful insult.
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TonyS
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« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2003, 02:47:42 PM »

Calling Protestant bodies "protosynogues" is inaccurate. It is also so offensive as to border on willful insult.

I think it is incorrect too, if IIRC the term in the literature is parasynagoge, parasynagogue, not proto-
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Keble
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« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2003, 03:11:37 PM »

Well, proto-/para- the preposterous part of the term is "synagogue" anyway. Of the numerous buildings on New Hampshire Avenue here with a sign out front saying "Church", not a one of them has the slightest pretense of having anything to do with a synagogue.

The inconvenient fact is that in English (and I would tend to guess most European languages) the word "church" encompasses a lot of meanings. A lot of those meanings apply to Baptist buildings/congregations just as they do to OCA buildings/parishes, never mind their respective denominations. Fishing for a term with which to derogate anyone outside of your chosen polity is Frakiism and should be beneath a Christian.
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TonyS
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« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2003, 04:39:33 PM »

Well, proto-/para- the preposterous part of the term is "synagogue" anyway. Of the numerous buildings on New Hampshire Avenue here with a sign out front saying "Church", not a one of them has the slightest pretense of having anything to do with a synagogue.

Dear Keble,

I merely pointed out the fact that the word you cite is not the one in that occurs in he texts, IIRC it is used by St. Basil.  

I am not a historical revisionist.  He (or another) wrote it.  Nor is my point is to fight about its usefulness/appropriatness today, my point is that it is not the accurate technical term (that is what it comes down to being).

Tony
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« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2003, 04:55:03 PM »

Parasynagogue is an odd word and I'd never use it ’cos people would think I was talking about Jewish houses of worship, but its meaning is really no different from dissent in England, where you had the parish church, which in this case was Anglican, and then you had the dissenting chapels - Methodists, Congregationalists, Baptists, etc. (Also known as the Free Churches.)

From what I've read, though, a parasynagogue can simply be a schismatic house of worship as well as those of people in heresy.
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Linus7
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« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2003, 01:57:10 AM »

Calling Protestant bodies "protosynogues" is inaccurate. It is also so offensive as to border on willful insult.

I think it is incorrect too, if IIRC the term in the literature is parasynagoge, parasynagogue, not proto-

I am the guilty party on the use of "protosynagogue," which was a mistake on my part, since I meant parasynagogue, and knew it, but had a memory-misfire (aka a brain fart). I will correct it.

I acquired the word somewhere in my reading, possibly from St. Basil, as TonyS says, but I don't remember where and didn't make a 3X5 note card about it. It does mean an heretical group or house of worship.

I used the word in expressing my opinion that the Orthodox Church should not be a party to the Ecumenical Movement as embodied in the WCC and NCC.

One thing that irritates the heck out of me is the phantom-church-of-all-believers ecclesiology. From the Orthodox point of view Protestant denominations ( an acceptable word) are not churches. The buildings they use are meeting houses and should not be called churches either.

If Protestants want to refer to their groups as "churches," then let them do so.

They should not expect us to do so, as well, however.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2003, 02:02:48 AM by Linus7 » Logged

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Brigid of Kildare
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« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2003, 05:54:39 AM »

Calling Protestant bodies "protosynogues" is inaccurate. It is also so offensive as to border on willful insult.

 From the Orthodox point of view Protestant denominations ( an acceptable word) are not churches. The buildings they use are meeting houses and should not be called churches either.

If Protestants want to refer to their groups as "churches," then let them do so.

They should not expect us to do so, as well, however.

Linus,
I share the concensus here about Orthodox participation in the WCC, but to me there is a danger of a lack of charity in using terms like 'parasynagogues'. I don't see it as a betrayal of Orthodoxy to refer to the Episcopal Church or  the Church of Ireland, and I can understand Keble's irritation and dismay. Yes, we have every right to challenge the ecclesiology of Protestant groups, just as we have with the vagante groups who use terms like Orthodox and Catholic in their titles. But I see nothing to be gained by deliberately using loaded terms to describe others, perhaps it's because as a former Catholic I know how I felt when I saw my church described as a 'cult' by hardline evangelicals.

Brigid
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Keble
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« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2003, 07:35:11 AM »

One thing that irritates the heck out of me is the phantom-church-of-all-believers ecclesiology. From the Orthodox point of view Protestant denominations ( an acceptable word) are not churches. The buildings they use are meeting houses and should not be called churches either.

"Phantom Church" ecclesiology itself is unavoidable-- you believe in it too, and you believe it because it's right there in scripture. Part of the unity of the Church is mystical and invisible; that is your doctrine as well as mine.

The scandal is the visible framentation of Christendom. Orthodoxy and its subpieces are part of this scandal, and no flat declaration is going to make that go away. We need ecclesiology because we need to explain the discrepancy between the mystical unity of the Church and the actual disunity that everyone can see for themselves. I believe the "ownership ecclesiology" that a lot of Orthodox express is wrong because Jesus himself argues against it-- if Sons of Abraham can be made out of rocks, then so can Orthodox Churchmen. But that is beside the point.

Quote
If Protestants want to refer to their groups as "churches," then let them do so.

They should not expect us to do so, as well, however.

Yes they should. They should expect you to practice the charity you espouse.

Besides, the refutation is right there in the passage you quote from the Revelation. It doesn't say "the parasynagogue in Pergamum"; it says the church in Pergamum. If your Lord and Master so speaks, why can't you?
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Jonathan
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« Reply #8 on: June 11, 2003, 08:34:21 AM »

It doesn't really make any sense to call the buildings evangelicals worship in churches... there's nothing there to make them a church, no altar, nothing special, nothing different than a barn or someone's house, nothing sacred about it... but I don't see what we can call it besides a church so that people will understand what we're referring to... the purpose of language is to communicate, and if we go around using words people don't know, we might as well just not talk.  They call them churches and we know what they mean, I don't see what else we can call them... although I personally am going to keep finding ways to avoid calling the movie thereter a church when a Baptist congregation meets there between shows so that they can get better attendance...

As for the actual groups, I don't see what sense it makes to refer to the Baptist Church.  What would that mean?  It also wouldn't make sense to refer to the Southern Baptist Church, even though that is at least a group.  Each church is thier own highest authority, all there is to them, they really don't have much to do with the others in their convention, and we do have a word for it, denomination, so that seems like the appropriate thing to refer to the Southern Baptists or the Baptist Convention of Quebec and Ontario as.  But does it makes sense to refer to Orthodox Churches as denominations?  The whole idea between denominations is that the different denominations worship God differently, but are all valid, which we definatly don't hold.  We do belive that we are the Church, that the fullness of Christianity is here, so it doesn't make sense to call us a denomination.  Baptists and Pentecostals each do there own thing, they're separate. But Greeks and Russians aren't, if one deviats, the other will correct, or there'll be a break... we're not divided in the same way, so I don't know how denomination applies.  So it seems to make sense to me to refer to Protestant denominations, and Orthdox Churches.
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Linus7
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2003, 09:50:49 PM »

Calling Protestant bodies "protosynogues" is inaccurate. It is also so offensive as to border on willful insult.

 From the Orthodox point of view Protestant denominations ( an acceptable word) are not churches. The buildings they use are meeting houses and should not be called churches either.

If Protestants want to refer to their groups as "churches," then let them do so.

They should not expect us to do so, as well, however.

Linus,
I share the concensus here about Orthodox participation in the WCC, but to me there is a danger of a lack of charity in using terms like 'parasynagogues'. I don't see it as a betrayal of Orthodoxy to refer to the Episcopal Church or  the Church of Ireland, and I can understand Keble's irritation and dismay. Yes, we have every right to challenge the ecclesiology of Protestant groups, just as we have with the vagante groups who use terms like Orthodox and Catholic in their titles. But I see nothing to be gained by deliberately using loaded terms to describe others, perhaps it's because as a former Catholic I know how I felt when I saw my church described as a 'cult' by hardline evangelicals.

Brigid

I used the word parasynagogue in a very specific context, in order to express my opinion about the Ecumenical Movement. I don't make a habit of going around and deliberately trying to fire up Protestants by refering to their sects as parasynagogues.

I think a lot of what passes for "charity" these days is dangerous compromise for the sake of avoiding confrontation and having to stand up for the truth (I am not accusing you of that, Brigid). I don't think it is very charitable to offer those outside the Church the false comfort of believing that they are within the Church.

Let me explain something: I like people. That is actually one of my great weaknesses, funny as that may sound. I have to guard against the strong desire to tell everyone, "I'm okay, you're okay." I would like to get along and be friends with all people everywhere, so it's a genuine temptation for me to acknowledge that we are all somehow "brothers and sisters." It really is.

Yet I know that we are NOT all brothers and sisters. I know that we cannot all just  be friends. I must strive to be true to Christ.

Protestantism is a big mistake, and no amount of wishful thinking will make it part of Christ's Church.
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Linus7
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2003, 10:12:05 PM »


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"Phantom Church" ecclesiology itself is unavoidable-- you believe in it too, and you believe it because it's right there in scripture. Part of the unity of the Church is mystical and invisible; that is your doctrine as well as mine.

Not so. The "phantom-church-of-all-believers" ecclesiology to which I referred is most certainly not what you have described above. What you have described is that part of the Church we cannot now see, the Church Triumphant. It is not a phantom; the saints who comprise it are present with the Lord.

The phantom church ecclesiology to which I referred holds that the Christian Church is wholly invisible and unknowable in this life, being composed only of the "true believers," whoever they are.  The true believers are divided up among a welter of competing and conflicting sects which are themselves not the Church. The true believers may perhaps be characterized by a minimal set of beliefs ("Mere Christianity"), but few can agree on exactly what those beliefs are, and there is no real precedent in the Bible or Church history for such minimalism.

Quote
The scandal is the visible framentation of Christendom. Orthodoxy and its subpieces are part of this scandal, and no flat declaration is going to make that go away. We need ecclesiology because we need to explain the discrepancy between the mystical unity of the Church and the actual disunity that everyone can see for themselves. I believe the "ownership ecclesiology" that a lot of Orthodox express is wrong because Jesus himself argues against it-- if Sons of Abraham can be made out of rocks, then so can Orthodox Churchmen. But that is beside the point.

It is a scandal; you are right about that.

It got a whole lot worse as a result of the Reformation.

Quote
Besides, the refutation is right there in the passage you quote from the Revelation. It doesn't say "the parasynagogue in Pergamum"; it says the church in Pergamum. If your Lord and Master so speaks, why can't you?

The Church in Pergamum was in fact an Orthodox Catholic Church, despite its problems, with a canonical bishop and valid sacraments. Our Lord was admonishing the Church in Pergamum to remove its undesireable elements, not to embrace them as "brothers and sisters" (unless, of course, they were willing to repent).



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