First of all, I hope I haven't upset you, and I hope you understand that my intention is not to get into any sort of conflict with you but only to compel you to at least consider viewing this from an alternate perspective.
EkhristosAnesti (beautiful username, by the way!),
Please don't worry, you haven't upset me at all. In fact, you have given me much cause to think. I guess I'm not very articulate at times, and many will tell you that my rhetoric is often influenced by my emotion. You are correct that, while my facts may be correct (as far as facts go), but the rhetoric often turns people off to what I am saying. I guess that, considering that this is an Orthodox forum, I forget sometimes that non-Orthodox who may be affiliated with the group we are discussing, may be reading this. In which case, let me begin by apologizing if I may have offended anyone, as it was not my intent. My words were colored by genuine hurt, shock, and pain at the claims of this book, nothing more.
Okay, maybe I should’ve been clearer. Let’s keep it STRICTLY academic.
Well I am not too sure what Fr. Chris meant exactly, but I think it would be safe to say that many people were won over to the Church through rational discourse and argument. St Justin Martyr is a prime example; he went on to use the dialectic method through which he was converted as a model to in turn assist the conversion of others. Nevertheless, as effective as rational discourse and argumentation can be instrumentally, it is not sufficient in and of itself, and I think the same goes for presenting a loving example. The deal-breaker/maker in the end has nothing to do with us—nothing to do with either our arguments or our loving examples—but everything to do with the inner sincerity, openness, and humility of the person we seek to win over to Christ, and ofcourse the will of God.
You are exactly correct! Thank you for this insight.
I am not trying to tell you to not be shocked or hurt, but only to exercise a little empathy. If you read Morey carefully, it is clear he is not trying to be mean; it’s only natural for us to interpret something that undermines the very heart of our existence as such. Similarly, I’d be safe in presuming that many Protestants would consider Orthodox polemics against Protestantism—charges of abusing the scriptures, of being outside the true Church etc.—as being mean and hurtful.
You are correct here as well. I didn't think of it that way. I would hope that books by Orthodox refuting Protestants would be tempered with love and humility, and clearly a fair discussion (clear to both sides). But I would have to agree with you that, were I Protestant, I would probably find any refutation written hurtful, no matter how well written. I do want to note, however, that I have read several books by Protestants that refuted Orthodoxy. I found one of them to be entirely fair, but it did not change my faith, simply because I just didn't agree with the author (but the tone of his writing was fair and, I would say, even humble. His academics were also totally sound). The second one that comes to mind, I also found to be fair. His tone was, I thought, slightly unfair (for lack of a better word), and I did not agree with some of his conclusions, as well as a little bit of his academic method and sources. Still, though, in general, I found it to be a sound book (in my own opinion). The professor of the class for which I was reading these two books in particular, found them both to be good books, well written, academically sound, and perfectly fair. He is a well-reputed Orthodox theologian and teacher at Hellenic College Holy Cross.
That said, it is for the following reasons that I am hurt and offended by this book:
The entire purpose of the writing of the book, and the tone with which it has been summarized and reviewed (at least), I find invalid and biased. He seems to write it NOT as an academic piece, like the other authors I mentioned, but rather as a propaganda tool to be used to combat Eastern Orthodoxy. The rhetoric employed is offensive, in my opinion. (some of the rhetoric I am specifically speaking of is mentioned in other posts) As well, he has (again, according to the summary, as I have not read the book yet--- this is a very valid point on your part, having not read the book, that is) seemingly bastardized (pardon the expression-- mods, feel free to change if need be to something synonymous) the academic sources he is using.
I am not assuming anything on behalf of anyone in particular let alone everyone. I am simply saying that polemics are by nature offensive to those whom they are targeted towards, and every ideology or faith necessarily produces such polemics for the sake of upholding and defending its own integrity. The Orthodox Church is no exception.
Again, you are correct here. Thank you...
Can you give a specific example of what you mean? What is a specific remark made by Morey that exemplifies this “behaviour” you speak of?
I am speaking here of the rhetoric employed against Eastern Orthodoxy in the outline, summary, review, and comments. For example, he has an archived blog entry about the release of the book (the author, that is, not the reviewer). http://biblicalthought.com/blog/author/dr-robert-morey/
toward the bottom of the page, entitled "Oh, Happy Day!"
Besides the rhetoric employed being offensive, one of the comments attached to this blog entry was by an Orthodox man, simply saying:
As a former Calvinist (now Orthodox), and an acquaintance of Dr. Morey, this should be a fun read.
Long time no see Dr. Morey. Pretty soon, it will be Dr. Robinson.
Dr. Morey responded in the following way:
I heard a rumour years ago that you had drifted away from Christ after certain painful personal probems in your life. I hope you will read what I have written with an open mind.
I should have mentioned this when I responded to your post, as it was one of the main reasons that I object to him and find him meanspirited and hurtful. Dr. Morey's response was patronizing, and an attempt to undermine his credibility by implying that he does not have the emotional or psychological wherewithall to evaluate the credibility of the work, and ostensibly implying that he has been sucked into a cult (which is how he defines Eastern Orthodoxy on his "seminary's" website, noted in one of my posts above) because of those emotional/psychological problems. It is an ad hominem and, I think, speaks volumes about this man's character.
If you did extensive and in-depth study on Protestant Christianity in consultation with reputable Protestant scholarship and in light of substantial first-hand experience with Protestant Christianity you would certainly make a point of indicating all such things so as to enhance your credibility. I don’t see what Morey did wrong in that regard. Unless ofcourse he’s lying about all that. But we have no way for sure of knowing if he is or not, so it would be foolish to suggest that he is being misleading. The only prudent reaction to his claims in this regard, in my opinion, would simply be to consider the conclusions he makes and the sources he bases them on, and to demonstrate how he has misinterpreted/misrepresented/misused those sources, thereby drawing false conclusions.
You are absolutely correct, and I should have delineated that this is what I meant. I say that he is no expert because he has so obviously misrepresented the faith of the Orthodox, not so much because of his sources, but rather, his deliberate (I would say, because I find it hard to believe that it is a misunderstanding) misuse to further his agenda and propaganda.
Yes, but everyone has their own interpretation and understanding of when truth and love clash. Some Orthodox Christians would consider Protestants not Christian, and believe that to be a truth that no amount of love can compromise, and that perfect love demands be proclaimed; but anyway, let's not go there because it really is besides the point. Let me try and offer a better example: would you consider Mormons Christians? I would hope not (they deny the very fundamentals of the Christian Faith—the Trinity, Monotheism, the Incarnation), and yet how would you respond to a Mormon who sincerely believes he is a Christian and who would be offended to the core to hear you tell him you think he is not Christian? Morey sincerely believes the Orthodox have departed so far from the faith so as to be considered unchristian; we can fault him for the basis upon which he draws such a conclusion, but objectivity precludes us from accusing him of being offensive/rude/mean in a way we ourselves could not become victim to the very same accusations.
Your example is a good one. My only response (other than you are correct) would be to say that I'm not so sure Morey sincerely believes that. I don't know the man personally, so I'm not qualified to judge. It suffices to say that I am very suspicious. I think, based on what I've read so far, and what I have seen of his character, (lack of) academic scholarship, etc., that he has an agenda to push, at the very least.
I guess I should not not say that HE is offensive/rude/mean, you are correct. I guess I should say, rather, that I find the entire premise of the book (and execution of the things I have read) offensive, I find his rhetoric and behavior (noted above as well as in other posts) rude, and the entire purpose of the book, as well as the behaviour, etc. meanspirited (I think that is a more adequate word than "mean" per se).
I certainly think they’re ridiculous; I don’t think they’re mean; not in any reasonably objective sense at least. That said, my point is simply that rather than spending pages making ad hominem attacks against a work we have not even read yet, let us keep such thoughts--thoughts which, in light of what we know of Orthodoxy, seem valid--to ourselves since they have more potential of working against us then for us in the context of a public forum. Just try to empathise; imagine that an Orthodox apologist produced a fantastic refutation of Mormonism for example, and then we, being predisposed in favour of the arguments made therein, stumble across a Mormon forum only to find all the members charging it with being ridiculous, stupid, idiotic, and God knows what else, without even addressing the substance at all and whilst admitting they haven't read the work yet! What would you think of these people? Would your own attitude to this book be likely to be weakened or strengthened?
You are absolutely right, and I hope that the other things I have said will show that I do desire to respond in an academic manner, motivated by truth and love. Maybe that's a little more clear. You are more than correct, as well, that I should have more empathy for his readers, rather than for him (which is what I think you were implying by giving the example of Mormons... correct me if I'm wrong, please). I was directing my disgust at him, not his readers.
Morey claims to have spent much time amongst Orthodox, I’m sure he saw enough loving examples. In the end, neither arguments nor loving examples will suffice to convince someone like Morey--for reasons only God knows. Ultimately, however, I’d think rational discourse to be the more effective instrument were that essential element that concerns his inner man which none of us have access to, were in such a condition so as to be receptible to the Grace that leads to the Truth.
Again, you are correct. Thank you so much for your clear insights. I truly am taking them to heart, and, as I said in previous posts, I am delighted to see a movement on OC.net that wants to respond to him.
I pray I haven't offended you at all, please forgive me if I have. God bless you for your loving and truthful posts. Thank you again!!!!
P.S. Sorry for all the parenthetical phrases, I hope they are clear. I just realized that I may have gotten a bit carried away, however, having been sick today, I'm about ready for bed and don't have the energy to go back and fix them. My apologies. ***Edited the formatting to fix quotes. Presbytera Mari