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Cleopas
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If I'm my own Pope then I claim infalliablity. Ha!

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« on: February 21, 2008, 09:42:36 AM »

You know, us Christians over here in Protestant-land have a heap of division and difference to deal with. Almost every modern "Christian" cuckoo and cult is lumped more or less with us, to boot.

Then, I come here, and see you guys quibbling over some of the most insignificant differences. I realize y'all have your share of hefty matters to work through. I don't mean to make light of the more serious impediments to seeing a more complete unity in the Faith among your various branches and also Rome.

Maybe my view is too simplistic for you, and certainly it reeks of Sola and/or Prima Scriptura, but you guys ought to go back a ways and just accept what you did agree on, and then give each other room for conscience and conviction in just what that belief means or spells out to you. I'm not talking about everybody saying "we love Jesus" and then believe and do whatever they want. Universal Unitarians already pretty much have that covered.

But, for example, when whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father only, or from the Father and the Son, becomes a bone of contention ... well you've done gone and started straining at gnats. This becoming divisive between folks who agree on the triune nature of the Godhead, and accept the co-divinity of all three persons, is quite baffling. Listen, if the Spirit is called the Spirit of God, and also called the Spirit of Christ, and if the Trinity is ever present, all knowing, all mighty, co-equal, co-eternal, and of one essence, then there's not really a dime's worth of difference between saying "proceeds from the Father" and "proceeds from the Father and the Son."

Goodness, there all One anyhow. Let each express his understanding of this truth without dividing over it.


When you debate, and excommunicate, much less malign fellow believers because you all have trouble agreeing on the details of just how the incarnation works, but you both profess it as truth, both profess that Christ is the Son of God, God in the flesh, the God-man, however mysterious (as our beloved Apostle Paul points out), you really do not disagree with the truth of Scripture. And you should not divide (or remain divided) over such a trivial matter (of just how the incarnation was accomplished, specifically).


One says "I'm of Rome,"
Another, "I'm of Constantinople"
Another, "I'm of Moscow"
Another, "Ethiopia"
Another, "I'm of Christ"
And how ever many other divisions and sects exist amongst your tradition(s).

I ask, was Rome crucified for you?
Was Constantinople raised into heaven on your behalf?

Is Christ divided?

I know, you'll probably scoff that a heretical, protestant, "non-denominational" Pastor at that, is speaking about such things to you.
I want you to know, that there is no intent to hurt or wound in my heart, at all. I don't even agree with much of the things you guys hold dear to the practice of your faith. But I love Jesus. I love His word. I love His followers. I rejoice that Christ is preached, everywhere that  He is preached, whatever the tradition or label (so long as it is indeed truly Christ that is preached).

The world is waiting for us who call ourselves His disciples to get our acts togther and turn towards the harvest. Jesus prayed that we would be one. Not only did He pray that for our good, who believe on Him through the witness of His Apostles passed down to us, but also that the world might believe.

Shame on us!
Shame on You!
Shame on me!

So long as we bicker over such small things we hinder ever addressing in a  meaningful way any subjects that truly are
"make it or break it" issues. We prolong the unity Christ desires for us.

So long as we remain divided, our witness to the world is diminished, and thus they do not believe.
So long as we continue to bite and devour one another we fail those around us, and we fail Him who loves us and gave Himself for us.


May this move you to sober reflection and stir in you greater desire to see the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ achieved among all those who call on His name. That is my only motive and desire in writing it.


That the world may believe,
Cleopas



« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 10:10:36 AM by Cleopas » Logged

Cleopas
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« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2008, 10:13:13 AM »

Thank you for your post. I found it quite enlightening. Yes, it must seem that way on the Internet. Your complaints are a good reason we throw around the word "Netodoxy"--things just seem to be different here than in the "real world."

For us, the trouble is not division from those who believe differently from us, it's division from those who believe the same as we do. It's the jurisdictional problem in the US. There's not a dime's worth of difference between the OCA and the Antoichians, between the Serbians and the Greeks. We all believe the same things and practice the same things, so why are we separated? Old Believers maybe have a legitimate complaint, but for most of us "ecumenical" folks, we'd be just as happy in any jurisdiction. So when you lament divisions, we do too. Only, rather than Rome and Constantinople (who do have legitimate theological differences), I would say this: Was Antioch crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Constantinople?

When worded that way, you have a very good point. But do not think that we and the Catholics have no significant differences. At times we share a common theology with Rome against the Protestants, and at other times we and the Protestants are united against Rome. But it is my firm belief that only in Orthodoxy is the fullness of the gospel preached. Things are not always as they seem, and what seems to be a gnat of a problem may well turn out to be an elephant. It matters greatly to have right belief, for this is the very meaning of "Orthodoxy." As I've said before on other threads, we believe that we need the Church for salvation. A branch cut off from the Vine will not survive. So it is critical to us to know where the Church is at all times, so that we may receive from the Root of Jesse the nutrients we need for salvation.

As for the Incarnation, I ask you this: If two people cannot agree on how the Incarnation occurred, do they really believe the same thing about this event? If two people cannot agree on who the Spirit is in relation to the Trinity, do they really believe the same about Him? Do they even have the same God?
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"It is remarkable that what we call the world...in what professes to be true...will allow in one man no blemishes, and in another no virtue."--Charles Dickens
Cleopas
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« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2008, 10:24:04 AM »

Thank you for your post. I found it quite enlightening. Yes, it must seem that way on the Internet. Your complaints are a good reason we throw around the word "Netodoxy"--things just seem to be different here than in the "real world."

For us, the trouble is not division from those who believe differently from us, it's division from those who believe the same as we do. It's the jurisdictional problem in the US. There's not a dime's worth of difference between the OCA and the Antoichians, between the Serbians and the Greeks. We all believe the same things and practice the same things, so why are we separated? Old Believers maybe have a legitimate complaint, but for most of us "ecumenical" folks, we'd be just as happy in any jurisdiction. So when you lament divisions, we do too. Only, rather than Rome and Constantinople (who do have legitimate theological differences), I would say this: Was Antioch crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Constantinople?

When worded that way, you have a very good point. But do not think that we and the Catholics have no significant differences. At times we share a common theology with Rome against the Protestants, and at other times we and the Protestants are united against Rome. But it is my firm belief that only in Orthodoxy is the fullness of the gospel preached. Things are not always as they seem, and what seems to be a gnat of a problem may well turn out to be an elephant. It matters greatly to have right belief, for this is the very meaning of "Orthodoxy."

Understood. And duly noted.


Quote
As for the Incarnation, I ask you this: If two people cannot agree on how the Incarnation occurred, do they really believe the same thing about this event? If two people cannot agree on who the Spirit is in relation to the Trinity, do they really believe the same about Him? Do they even have the same God?

And I would reply, if you believe that Christ is the son of God, God in the flesh how can you not be talking about the same event?
If you believe that the God of the Bible, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the one true God, how do you not have the same God? Besides that, knowing some about your mutual history, it is obvious you have the same incarnation, and the same triune God in mind.
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« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2008, 10:34:37 AM »

And I would reply, if you believe that Christ is the son of God, God in the flesh how can you not be talking about the same event?
If you believe that the God of the Bible, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is the one true God, how do you not have the same God? Besides that, knowing some about your mutual history, it is obvious you have the same incarnation, and the same triune God in mind.

But is our faith to be boiled down to two or three elements simply so that we can then say that we are in agreement?  When we seemingly quibble over points of high theology, we're arguing over points that ultimately have very real ramifications for our salvation.  We're engaged in the business of seeking the truth; not some of it, not most of it, but all of it.  How can we then discard portions of the truth that has been revealed to us for the sake of unity?
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Cleopas
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« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2008, 10:48:11 AM »

So then, you claim that God has explicitly revealed to you or your church exactly how the divine and human natures are and were joined and/or co-existent in the one person of Jesus Christ?

You mean, you fully understand the interrelation between the infinite persons of God? His ways you have found out?

If not, the I humbly suggest, not a compromise or discarding of your conviction, but a recognition that it is indeed the same God and the same Christ you both believe in.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2008, 10:49:14 AM by Cleopas » Logged

Cleopas
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« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2008, 11:06:23 AM »

So then, you claim that God has explicitly revealed to you or your church exactly how the divine and human natures are and were joined and/or co-existent in the one person of Jesus Christ?

You mean, you fully understand the interrelation between the infinite persons of God? His ways you have found out?

If not, the I humbly suggest, not a compromise or discarding of your conviction, but a recognition that it is indeed the same God and the same Christ you both believe in.
Clopas, in many ways I do agree with. I think that there are certain theological issues that divide Apostolic Christianity, that are not true differences. One example of this is the difference between the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic view of the hypostatic union on the one hand, and the Oriental Orthodox view on the Other hand. Both groups profess that Christ is God in the flesh. Both groups believe him both human and divine. Both groups reject the idea that there is a mixing of Christ's divinity and humanity. Both groups acknowledge that Christ is one person with his humanity and divinity united in that one person. So why squabble over the use of the word "nature"? If we believe the same things then we are simply using the word nature in a different manner.
Now, there are weightier issues though that do divide us. But their effects are certainly smaller than one would expect. I wish we could all get to the business of evangelizing the world.
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« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2008, 02:50:24 PM »

If not, the I humbly suggest, not a compromise or discarding of your conviction, but a recognition that it is indeed the same God and the same Christ you both believe in.

I think what we're really dealing with here is another difference between religion on and off the internet. On oc-net, I'm a "worshipper of a false god"; but if you ask any Orthodox bishop, pretty much all of them (even Bishop Artemije) would say that I'm a worshipper of the true God, but in heresy.

-Peter.

P.S. I'm curious whether some on oc-net would say that last statement is a self-contradiction, i.e. a heretic is necessarily a worshipper of a false god.
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« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2008, 03:01:14 PM »

So then, you claim that God has explicitly revealed to you or your church exactly how the divine and human natures are and were joined and/or co-existent in the one person of Jesus Christ?

You mean, you fully understand the interrelation between the infinite persons of God? His ways you have found out?

If not, the I humbly suggest, not a compromise or discarding of your conviction, but a recognition that it is indeed the same God and the same Christ you both believe in.

To describe our theology, defined in the Ecumenical Councils, as anything other than revealed truth, to lower it to mere personally-held conviction, would be to explicitly deny that the Holy Spirit guided the council.
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« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2008, 03:05:23 PM »

I think what we're really dealing with here is another difference between religion on and off the internet. On oc-net, I'm a "worshipper of a false god"; but if you ask any Orthodox bishop, pretty much all of them (even Bishop Artemije) would say that I'm a worshipper of the true God, but in heresy.

-Peter.

P.S. I'm curious whether some on oc-net would say that last statement is a self-contradiction, i.e. a heretic is necessarily a worshipper of a false god.

I think at some point, as the heresies pile upon one another, a heretic does necessarily become a worshipper of some other god.  It would seem to make sense that one could have some false notions about God and still be worshipping the true God.  However, as errors pile upon errors, what one is worshipping would gradually have less and less to do with God and more and more to do with a false creation.  I don't think I'll try to actually determine where that line exists, though.  It's one thing to know that there is that distinction; it's another to purport to know exactly what constitutes it.
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« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2008, 03:55:51 PM »

As I've said before on other threads, we believe that we need the Church for salvation. A branch cut off from the Vine will not survive.

So. . . what makes us Catholics keep going?

Hmm . . .

 Cheesy

BTW, I agree with your sentiments on the whole, notwithstanding my agreement with Cleopas that the pneumatic procession dispute is not a Church-dividing issue.
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« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2008, 04:11:29 PM »

I think what we're really dealing with here is another difference between religion on and off the internet. On oc-net, I'm a "worshipper of a false god"; but if you ask any Orthodox bishop, pretty much all of them (even Bishop Artemije) would say that I'm a worshipper of the true God, but in heresy.

-Peter.

P.S. I'm curious whether some on oc-net would say that last statement is a self-contradiction, i.e. a heretic is necessarily a worshipper of a false god.

This is an excellent point. I do think (to some extent) God is honored by a person's sincere worship, however erroneous that person's ideas about God are. Even believers of the other monotheistic religions are worshipping God, at least in the elements of their understanding of God which conform to Christianity. But the worship of God is more efficacious when you have a clearer picture of Him, so getting it right (while still allowing the mystery which still surrounds it) is important. That's one thing I always liked about St. Thomas Aquinas---he seeked to come to greater understanding of God so as to love Him more.

However, one caveat remains in my mind---Christ does call us to be like little children. Is a theologian in deeper union with God than a simple but pious peasant because he has a clearer, more sophisticated, more accurate understanding of the Trinity? I don't know. Perhaps our Lord loves humble sincerity just as much as knowledge?
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« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2008, 05:07:26 PM »

To describe our theology, defined in the Ecumenical Councils, as anything other than revealed truth, to lower it to mere personally-held conviction, would be to explicitly deny that the Holy Spirit guided the council.

I don't want to presume to speak for Cleopas; but my interpretation is that he was asking whether we know exactly how the divine and human natures are and were joined, in such a way that it's no longer a mystery.
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2008, 07:27:51 PM »

You know, us Christians over here in Protestant-land have a heap of division and difference to deal with. Almost every modern "Christian" cuckoo and cult is lumped more or less with us, to boot.

Then, I come here, and see you guys quibbling over some of the most insignificant differences. I realize y'all have your share of hefty matters to work through. I don't mean to make light of the more serious impediments to seeing a more complete unity in the Faith among your various branches and also Rome.
Don't close families bicker about small things?  They need SOMETHING to talk about at least.  No different here.  Better to bicker about small things than big things.


So long as we bicker over such small things we hinder ever addressing in a  meaningful way any subjects that truly are
"make it or break it" issues. We prolong the unity Christ desires for us.
Maybe these things you call small are actually much more important than you realize?  (as in the things from an Orthodox vs other perspective)
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« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2008, 12:50:46 AM »

Was Constantinople raised into heaven on your behalf?

Yes, why do you ask? Wink
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