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Author Topic: Orthodox Denominationalism?  (Read 12345 times) Average Rating: 0
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Fr. David
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« on: June 22, 2008, 06:12:55 PM »

In the US you have Orthodox denominationalism, not unlike protestant denominations.

 Huh  I was curious about this side comment in another thread, so I decided to bite:

BrotherAiden...

I don't think you're referring to soteriological differences...(pre-destination, free-will, a mix, etc; nature of eucharist, nature of baptism, nature of faith/works, etc)

...nor do I think you're referring to liturgical differences... (charismatic, traditional, contemporary, emergent, etc; or infant baptism, belivers baptism, once-immersed, thrice-immersed, etc)

...nor do I think you're referring to issues of women's ordination or homosexual tolerance and/or ordination... (ECUSA and the Lutheran synods)

...so although I realize that there are canonical differences from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (which is the norm from church to church -- Church of Greece, Church of Russia, Church of Serbia, etc -- but is different when we're all lumped together as we are here in the West), I have a problem with this comparison you've made here and in the past, saying that our jurisdictional differences and lack of administrative unity (which is tragic and should be resolved...somehow) is somehow at ALL the same as the doctrinal differences that SERIOUSLY divide Protestant sects.  At the end of the day, we ARE still all in FULL communion with each other at the chalice...it ain't perfect, and it could be better, but it's MILES ahead of where separated Protestant groups are from one another, imo.

What say you, sir...and what say all of y'all...?
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« Reply #1 on: June 22, 2008, 07:31:38 PM »

I think that as Orthodox old-worlders die out and the younger generations take over (assuming the converts continue to rise as well), I think we'll see less factionalism.

As for myself, when I see a Greek, Russian, OCA, and Antiochian bishop all together, I don't see any distinction between their faith.
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« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2008, 08:00:42 PM »

As for myself, when I see a Greek, Russian, OCA, and Antiochian bishop all together, I don't see any distinction between their faith.

This was my point.

And may God swiftly bring the day when we can be administratively united (while still ethnically diverse) as well as eucharistically and dogmatically united.
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2008, 08:12:16 PM »

I do think there are problems beyond simple canonical issues. For example, I consider the GOC (of Fr. Anastasios) to be Orthodox, yet they are not in communion with so-called world Orthodoxy. We can say that the Church is not truly divided, yet some Orthodox are seperated from others and are not in communion with each other.
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« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2008, 08:37:50 PM »

I have never seen the Church as that way. Sure every Church has it's own I guess "local flare" you could say, but we are completely united in doctrine and one Church. Sure there are differences but Roman Catholicism in Ireland is going to be different from Roman Catholicism in the Philippines. That's just the way I see it. However I have to disagree with the denominationalism thing.
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« Reply #5 on: June 22, 2008, 10:32:54 PM »

There can be the same doctrine, same soteriology, same basic "liturgy" and same stance on modernistic innovations and you have the Presbterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA) and possibly the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). Each has it's own "hierarchy," its own institutions, it's own departments of missions and evangelism, its own publications, etc.

How is that so different from Orthodox jurisdictionalism (aka denominationalism)?

I was a conservative Presbyterian for 20 years. The differences between the above-named denominations are as minor as within Orthodox jurisdictionalism, perhaps even less (except for the exclusively psalm-singing RPCNA's). Yet they remain separate denominations. They are seen as separate denominations from within and without.

The ARPC had remained separate from the others for a century over sectional (very similar to ethnic) reasons as a Civil War era Southern Church. The RPCNA's stress their Scotish roots (ethnicity) and exclusive psamlnody. The PCA is the modern, forward looking branch that thinks all the others should unite under them (remind anyone of the OCA?). The OPC would be like traditionalist Orthodox - only instead of rubrics and rituals they are theological sticklers for doctinal purity down to the tiny minutia among the Calvinist, conservative Presbyterians. The CRC are Dutch and want to maintain their ethnic distinctives.

All embrace the Westminster Confession of Faith (CRC follows the Synod of Dort's Confession which is a virtual ditto of Westminster); all have the same organizational structure; all will accept clergy transfers without re-ordination or additonal schooling; all will commune together. They just won't be a single jurisdiction, um er, I mean denomination.

Now, I can only speak from within the millieu I was once a part of, but there are similar situations within other donominational species as well - I just don't know the specifics as well as I do with Presbyterians (of course none of the groups mentioned above want any union with the liberal PCUSA; that was what some of them had fled (issues such as women's ordination, doctrinal laxity, gay issues, moral laxity etc). The Evangelical Presbyterians (EPC) because of allowing women elders and pastors, as well as having a charasmatic element are sort of out there by themselves (although over time they have fewer and fewer ordained women and the charasmatics are being subsumed). Anyway, I digress. There are other protestant denominations, say Lutheran, or Congregational that have splinter denominations which broke from the larger church over theological issues - usually liberalism's theological drift) at different times and for different reasons who now could be one denomination but choose not to be for a variety of reasons.

And NOT all protestants create new denominations because some pastor came up with a new idea and started a new church, which is how many Orthodox caricature protestant denominationalism. Orthodox ignorance of mainline protestantism is both alaming and shameful (but that is another subject).

In the case of all these different Presbyterian denominations, the common denominator was breaking with the mother church over theological innovation. With the RPCNA and ARP's it was over the Church of Scotland breaking with the percived national covenant the nation had taken at the time of the reformation in its compromises with the English and the Church of England. They brought their denominational distinctives with them to America. The OPC's broke from the old United Presbyterian Church over theological compromises (liberal theology). The PCA broke with the PCUSA over women's ordination and theological liberalism but felt the OPC was not evangelistic enough so they began a new denomination. The CRC was a break from the Reformed Church in America (a larger, more liberal body from Holland).

So these denominations were formed over issues of theological integrity and conscience. Whether we agree with their reasons as Orthodox it must be acknowledged that these weren't frivolous moves because some individual pastor got a "word form the Lord."

TIME OUT. If anyone is getting apoplectic because I am suggesting we Orthodox in the US are functioning denominationally (while we euphemistically call it jurisdictionalism) please take a deep breath and at least absorb the microcosmic American Christianity mini-history lesson I just offered. It will benefit you from repeating ignorant sterotypes!
Thank you!

Okay, we can continue....

From without (outside of Orthodoxy), Greek Orthodox are seen as a different denomination than Russian Orthodox or Serbian Orthodox, or Syrian Orthodox, etc. etc. From within, we are the only ones who don't see it that way and call is jurisdictionalism  A rose by any other name.....?
« Last Edit: June 22, 2008, 11:02:42 PM by BrotherAidan » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: June 22, 2008, 10:53:47 PM »

Nonetheless the Presbyterian church is not one Church. Do they have Sacramental Communion? No, because they have no Sacraments. They are not one Church otherwise they would only have one Jurisdiction. 
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« Reply #7 on: June 22, 2008, 11:07:03 PM »

Nonetheless the Presbyterian church is not one Church. Do they have Sacramental Communion? No, because they have no Sacraments. They are not one Church otherwise they would only have one Jurisdiction. 

oh come on...
they think they have sacraments and call them such; they do have communion with one another at what they call the Lord's Table.

you are missiing my point. From within their millieu, from which they view themselves as equally correct and us as wrong as we view them as incorrect and ourselves right, they could be one denomination and aren't.

Plus we, along with everyone ellse view them as separate, albeit very similar denominations.

What you don't get (or won't get) is that everyone else views Orthodox jurusdictions as denominations.

your line of reasoning is: We are one Church because we say we are one Church even though we have a dozen different jurisdictions. So we aren't denominations. Plus we have the true sacraments.

Their line of reasoning is: We are one Church in different (though very similar) branches. We are so because we are Reformed and we know we're right. We really shoudn't have these denomiations but some day we'll all get together. Also, we have the true two sacraments (unlike those Orthodox and Cathoics with all those extra sacraments).

Eveyone in a church thinks their church is correct. That's not news and your argument doesn't solve anything. In fact, it damns us all the more. If we are the true Church with the true sacraments, why the heck do we present ourseves to the world outside of ourselves as separate denominations (we call it jurisdictions; they view it as denomiations).

People can argue differently all they want but FUNCTIONALLY, by all the standards by which denominations are percieved and measured (separate hierarchies, separate institutions, separate boards, separate publishing, etc.) Orthodoxy in the USA is percieved by others as denominational and functions denominationally while claiming a spititual unity (which is exactly what those Presbyterian groups do - function as separate denominations who have spiritual unity).
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2008, 11:07:36 PM »

BrotherAiden,

I'm not really up with the play on this topic, but I do wonder if you might be meaning "congregations" instead of "denominations". Would it be, in speaking of denominations, that the Orthodox Church itself would be seen (from the outside) as a denomination made up on many congregations, but congregations that are all united under common dogma/faith?
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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2008, 11:10:45 PM »

they think they have sacraments and call them such; they do have communion with one another at what they call the Lord's Table.

Yes, this is true.

Quote
you are missiing my point. From within their millieu, from which they view themselves as equally correct and us as wrong as we view them as incorrect and ourselves right, they could be one denomination and aren't.

Plus we, along with everyone ellse view them as separate, albeit very similar denominations.

I have never thought of it that way. I see them as different congregations within one denomination. Am I wrong to do so?

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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2008, 11:23:38 PM »

BrotherAiden,

I'm not really up with the play on this topic, but I do wonder if you might be meaning "congregations" instead of "denominations". Would it be, in speaking of denominations, that the Orthodox Church itself would be seen (from the outside) as a denomination made up on many congregations, but congregations that are all united under common dogma/faith?
No, I am refrerring specifically to church bodies with many congregations forming a denomination.
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« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2008, 11:33:05 PM »

From without (outside of Orthodoxy), Greek Orthodox are seen as a different denomination than Russian Orthodox or Serbian Orthodox, or Syrian Orthodox, etc. etc. From within, we are the only ones who don't see it that way and call is jurisdictionalism  A rose by any other name.....?
But those outside who see "Greek Orthodox" and "Russian Orthodox" as different denominations will continue to see them as different denominations even if they were part of the same jurisdiction. The monasteries of the Holy Mountain are the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yet there is a Russian Orthodox Monastery (Panteleimon), Greek Orthodox Monasteries (Dyionysiou, Iveron, Megisti Lavra etc), a Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery (Zographou),  a Serbian Orthodox Monastery (Chilandar) etc.... and each Monastery follows different rubrics, uses different languages, and even measures time differently (Iveron uses "Jerusalem Time" while the others use "Byzantine time"). So what's going to make these people who think they are "different denominations" realize that they aren't? It seems to me that bo matter what we do, there will always be those who misunderstand us , and even the first Christians experienced this- "Aren't Christians those guys who hold secret meetings where they eat flesh and drink blood?"
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2008, 11:40:06 PM »

Referring to Rid's second comment/question

no they aren't different congregations of one denomination. Each denomination has it's own discipline for instance. If the pastor at one congregation has an affair with his secretary, the other congregation doesn't discipline him, his denominational hierarchy does.

I am sure you have seen ethnic communities in older cities with several churches with onion domes: Ukranian, Russian, Serbian, Byzantine Catholic, all within a few blocks of each other. Well, go to a section of the city where the upper middle class once lived and see two Presbeterian churches across the street from one another, with a smaller one two blocks away. There you had your PCUSA congregation, your old United Presbyterian congregation and the smaller Refromed Presbyterian congregation. If you had asked any parishoner exiting on Sunday if they are part of the denominaton across (or down) the street and they would have told you in explicit (not vulgar, although perhaps emotional - I mean, explicit theologically) terms why they are not part of that denomination.

To THEM they are not congregations of the same denomination.

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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2008, 11:50:01 PM »

But those outside who see "Greek Orthodox" and "Russian Orthodox" as different denominations will continue to see them as different denominations even if they were part of the same jurisdiction. The monasteries of the Holy Mountain are the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, yet there is a Russian Orthodox Monastery (Panteleimon), Greek Orthodox Monasteries (Dyionysiou, Iveron, Megisti Lavra etc), a Bulgarian Orthodox Monastery (Zographou),  a Serbian Orthodox Monastery (Chilandar) etc.... and each Monastery follows different rubrics, uses different languages, and even measures time differently (Iveron uses "Jerusalem Time" while the others use "Byzantine time"). So what's going to make these people who think they are "different denominations" realize that they aren't? It seems to me that bo matter what we do, there will always be those who misunderstand us , and even the first Christians experienced this- "Aren't Christians those guys who hold secret meetings where they eat flesh and drink blood?"
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I think in the example you bring, if people are informed that Orthodoxy, unlike the Roman Catholic Church, organizes itself around Patriarchs of, if not strictly national Churches, then certain agreed upon territorial regions over which a particular metropolitan presides (rather than one universal pontiff), then they can see and appreciate Holy Mountain.

But when the Serbian gal and the Ukranian guy and myself (OCA) try to explain at work why we are not in the same denomination to either the Catholics or the protestants, they just don't get it. And you know how most people are these days, they don't have the patience for an expanation of the subtleties, differences and distinctions. I think maybe the non-religious get it better than the other Christians do.
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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2008, 11:55:40 PM »

But when the Serbian gal and the Ukranian guy and myself (OCA) try to explain at work why we are not in the same denomination to either the Catholics or the protestants, they just don't get it.

Not even if one says that the Church of Serbia, OCA and Ukrainian Orthodox (under EP's Omophorion) are 3 of 15 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches which abide by Orthodox Christian dogma, canons and belief.  Catholics and Protestants don't need to know about the history because they both broke away from the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

And you know how most people are these days, they don't have the patience for an expanation of the subtleties, differences and distinctions. I think maybe the non-religious get it better than the other Christians do.

Edited for clarity.
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« Reply #15 on: June 23, 2008, 12:36:14 AM »

The unity of the Church is based on the same common faith and worship, with the Eucharist unting us into the One body of Christ, regardless of space and time and jurisdiction. Each individual Church is the fullness of the Body of Christ when united with a right-believing bishop with apostolic succession to celebrate the Eucharist (1 Cor 10.16-17)  . Administrative unity while essential is not a mark of the one holy catholic and apostolic church and thats why many canons have been passed down, clarifying what kinds of disunity should be avoided and rules on deposing bishops when they overstep their boundaries, likewise the canons teach when the breaking of unity is justified.  . The Unity of the faith, not the unity of administration is prayed for in the DL.
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« Reply #16 on: June 23, 2008, 12:40:04 AM »


But when the Serbian gal and the Ukranian guy and myself (OCA) try to explain at work why we are not in the same denomination to either the Catholics or the protestants, they just don't get it. And you know how most people are these days, they don't have the patience for an expanation of the subtleties, differences and distinctions. I think maybe the non-religious get it better than the other Christians do.

There is no such thing as denominations in Orthodoxy. You should have told them the truth, that you are all members of the same religion: The Eastern Orthodox Church.
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« Reply #17 on: June 23, 2008, 01:14:54 AM »

Referring to Rid's second comment/question

no they aren't different congregations of one denomination. Each denomination has it's own discipline for instance. If the pastor at one congregation has an affair with his secretary, the other congregation doesn't discipline him, his denominational hierarchy does.

I am sure you have seen ethnic communities in older cities with several churches with onion domes: Ukranian, Russian, Serbian, Byzantine Catholic, all within a few blocks of each other. Well, go to a section of the city where the upper middle class once lived and see two Presbeterian churches across the street from one another, with a smaller one two blocks away. There you had your PCUSA congregation, your old United Presbyterian congregation and the smaller Refromed Presbyterian congregation. If you had asked any parishoner exiting on Sunday if they are part of the denominaton across (or down) the street and they would have told you in explicit (not vulgar, although perhaps emotional - I mean, explicit theologically) terms why they are not part of that denomination.

To THEM they are not congregations of the same denomination.

Oh, I see! Thanks for explaining that.
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« Reply #18 on: June 23, 2008, 01:28:16 AM »

There is no such thing as denominations in Orthodoxy. You should have told them the truth, that you are all members of the same religion: The Eastern Orthodox Church.
I don't think you're getting what BrotherAidan is trying to say, though.  We can talk about how we understand ourselves all we want, and, from our perspective, it is true and those outside just don't understand.  But to those outside who don't see us as we see ourselves, doesn't our jurisdictionalism look just like their denominationalism?  People will never be convinced that how we see ourselves is the truth if our outward physical appearance says otherwise.
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« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2008, 01:35:33 AM »

doesn't our jurisdictionalism look just like their denominationalism?  People will never be convinced that how we see ourselves is the truth if our outward physical appearance says otherwise.

Definitely.
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« Reply #20 on: June 23, 2008, 01:50:43 AM »

I cant say what others think of us.  I see no problem in juridictionalism, never have. I believe its making mountains out of mole hills, and most people really dont find anything unusual about it.  The Church has never encountered the american problem, canons against overlapping bishoprics was meant to stop renegade bishops who wanted to extend their influence and control beyond their diocese.

The Orthodox Church in America was brought here by immigrants, for themselves and their families, not to evangelize or proselytise. Converting America to Orthodoxy was never a goal. The immigrants wanted to preserve their culture for the generations after them. Common sense dictates that these immigrant communitites congregated together in the same communities, with them came priests who spoke the same language and came from the same country. As need arose more priests came to serve the growing immigrant churches who spoke no english. Its called being the UNIVERSAL church, universal does not mean a melting pot, it means diverse cultures with differing languages sharing the same faith. Why is there jurisdictions you ask? Because the churches here were established by greeks and slavs and arabs, and these jurisdictions still use these languages in their worship, its not because we broke away from each other. quite simple.
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« Reply #21 on: June 23, 2008, 02:06:21 AM »

The Orthodox Church in America was brought here by immigrants, for themselves and their families, not to evangelize or proselytise. Converting America to Orthodoxy was never a goal.
Uhm, no.  That's not exactly true.  The Orthodox Church had a presence in North America long before the waves of 20th Century immigrants of whom you speak.  The Faith was brought to America by Russian missionaries (e.g., Ss. Innocent and Herman of Alaska, St. Juvenaly the hieromartyr) who had as their very goal the evangelism of the American people and the formation of an American church.  When the Syrian Orthodox started to develop a presence in America in 1895, they recognized the need to unite with the established local church, which was still under the missionary oversight of Moscow, hence a Syrian bishop, St. Raphael (Hawaweeny) of Brooklyn submitting to the rule of the Moscow Synod as a missionary bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church.

http://oca.org/MVhistoryintroOCA.asp?SID=1

http://www.antiochian.org/668
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2008, 02:46:58 AM »

Quite true. Good information.
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« Reply #23 on: June 23, 2008, 03:23:26 AM »

This is an interesting way of putting it, "denominationalism".  While it is true we all share the same sacraments, I think it is quite accurate to say that in many ways we are like denominations.  People always say we aren't broken up into different denominations because we share the sacraments, because a Greek can go to a Russian Church and have communion, but think about what that entails, and you wind up with something that looks quite a lot like a denomination! In order to share this common Eucharist, different jurisdictions require such a wide variety of things: in some you can just show up and partake no questions asked, in others you must have gone to confession at least since the last fasting period, in others you must have confessed that day or the night before, in others even if you have gone to confession with a priest the night before the priest distributing communion will not believe you when you tell him this and will refuse you communion (I have seen this happen).  Some unity we have there...
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« Reply #24 on: June 23, 2008, 04:12:32 AM »

This is an interesting way of putting it, "denominationalism".  While it is true we all share the same sacraments, I think it is quite accurate to say that in many ways we are like denominations.  People always say we aren't broken up into different denominations because we share the sacraments, because a Greek can go to a Russian Church and have communion, but think about what that entails, and you wind up with something that looks quite a lot like a denomination! In order to share this common Eucharist, different jurisdictions require such a wide variety of things: in some you can just show up and partake no questions asked, in others you must have gone to confession at least since the last fasting period, in others you must have confessed that day or the night before, in others even if you have gone to confession with a priest the night before the priest distributing communion will not believe you when you tell him this and will refuse you communion (I have seen this happen).  Some unity we have there...

I hardly see the way parishes are run as making denominations exist. I have to sadly disagree. We are one Church, and to compare the Church to the Protestant "denominations" that have no Sacramental Unity or Common Faith is downright wrong.
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« Reply #25 on: June 23, 2008, 04:17:52 AM »

I hardly see the way parishes are run as making denominations exist. I have to sadly disagree. We are one Church, and to compare the Church to the Protestant "denominations" that have no Sacramental Unity or Common Faith is downright wrong.
I didn't say that we ARE denominations like Protestants. I recognize we are one church with one faith and common sacraments.  All I did was observe that in many ways, we operate LIKE we are denominations, and that we aren't really as united in practice as we often claim.
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« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2008, 04:20:34 AM »

I hardly see the way parishes are run as making denominations exist. I have to sadly disagree. We are one Church, and to compare the Church to the Protestant "denominations" that have no Sacramental Unity or Common Faith is downright wrong.
But how do we appear to those outside the Church?
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« Reply #27 on: June 23, 2008, 04:34:35 AM »

But how do we appear to those outside the Church?

We appear fragmented to those outside the Church.
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« Reply #28 on: June 23, 2008, 02:03:53 PM »

OK...now to launch out...

There can be the same doctrine, same soteriology, same basic "liturgy" and same stance on modernistic innovations and you have the Presbterian Church in America (PCA), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC), the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA) and possibly the Christian Reformed Church (CRC). Each has it's own "hierarchy," its own institutions, it's own departments of missions and evangelism, its own publications, etc.

How is that so different from Orthodox jurisdictionalism (aka denominationalism)?

Well, for starters, I think it'd be useful to back up a bit.  You're fond of saying (rightly) that the tendency to talk about "Protestants" or even the more specific group "Evangelicals" as if they were one, monolithic group is sad.  What's worse is misapplying the label to groups that don't technically belong to the group in question.  Be that as it may, what you've done here in the part I've quoted is comparing apples to apples -- Presbyterian groups to Orthodox groups -- whereas what usually gets done is the comparison -- and it is one that needs to be pointed out as often as it is, which is a good thing -- between Protestant groups as a whole and the Orthodox Church.  I would actually be comfortable with calling the abovementioned Presbyterian groups as "jurisdictions" of the same group -- differing primarily in ethnicity or region while maintaining sacramental and doctrinal (though not administrative) unity.  Not a small thing, and it's good that they're standing together against the more modernist, liberal innovators in the mainstream (if I remember correctly) sects of Presbyterianism.

But...while buzuxi did make some points which I think were rightly taken to task by PeterTheAleut, one major point that he made which I want to highlight was the following:

Why [are] there jurisdictions you ask? Because the churches here were established by greeks and slavs and arabs, and these jurisdictions still use these languages in their worship, its not because we broke away from each other.

You make very good points as to how ethnicity and differing emphasis in praxis led to various Presbyterian groups' existence here in the US.  As I've said, this, indeed, looks much like what we have here.  But the fact that the Presbyterian groups'  reaction to what was going on in Scotland was to break off and form their own, semi-separate groups would place them in a different category than the Orthodox that came over here -- all still in communion with their respective mother churches in the old countries, churches which in turn were in communion with one another -- and existed side-by-side as Orthodox believers, among whom the primary differences were language and country of origin.  The ethos was very familiar -- and very important! -- to these immigrant communities, so the presence of "St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church" and "St. Seraphim Russian Orthodox Church" within a block of each other has a much different meaning than the three Presbyterian denominations' churches who could, as you said, inform an inquirer as to exactly why they were the theologically correct parish and the other two weren't.  In the case of the Greeks/Russians/Arabs/Serbians/Whoevers, well, they may have had words to say about how odd the music was or how lax such-and-such a nationality was in reigning in their kids during liturgy, but certainly no issues of theology would ever come into play.

"But how does it appear to outsiders?" folks have asked.  It's been said that folks nowadays don't have the time nor the patience to ask or digest the differences (which are very real ones) between Orthodox jurisdictions that don't differ doctrinally and Protestant (not just Presbyterian, now!) denominations that do.  They can't be bothered with the task of comparing groups such as the following:

  • regional or national churches that set up shop here out of necessity due to world events, all the while maintaining doctrinal and sacramental unity with the world-wide Church (Orthodox)
  • groups that, upon immigrating here, broke union with the mother church and splintered into groups that had not existed before said immigration (Presbyterian)
  • groups that originated here or in Europe for the sake of purely doctrinal reasons yet still maintain some kind of odd unity in spite of the fact that most things about Christianity have to be called "non-essentials" for these folks to be "one" (Anabaptist, Methodist, Nazerene, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Church of Christ, etc).


Really, if they're not all that serious about seeing the motives behind the groups they're joining, then I think we can only blame ourselves to a point.

And NOT all protestants create new denominations because some pastor came up with a new idea and started a new church, which is how many Orthodox caricature protestant denominationalism. Orthodox ignorance of mainline protestantism is both alaming and shameful (but that is another subject)...these denominations were formed over issues of theological integrity and conscience. Whether we agree with their reasons as Orthodox it must be acknowledged that these weren't frivolous moves because some individual pastor got a "word form the Lord."

I know it's not always as easy as saying "God told me,"  but really...good Lord.  The Baptists have a problem with Calvinist predestination (though not the perseverance) and with Lutheran sprinkling; the Calvinists have a problem with Methodist arminianism (and vice versa); the Church of Christ has a problem with infant baptism (as do the Baptists again); the Baptists and the TULIP Calvinists disagree with Church of Christ/Lutherans regarding "once saved, always saved"...and on and on and on.  These are not flippant reasons to form new and separate groups, you are correct.  But they ARE reasons that do not in the least apply to why we have Greek, Russian, Serbian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Antiochian, ROCOR, or OCA parishes in any one, particular city.  The cause of our initial segregation is very, very different.  That it continues to this day is scandalous, but it is not to be confused with the difference of belief present within denominations.

Yes, there's a lack of cooperation and a lot of unnecessary duplication amongst (for example) SCOBA jurisdictions, but at the end of the day we don't have to deal with theological differences that are even in the NEIGHBORHOOD of what either the Presbyterian denominations or Protestants in general have to deal with in dealing with each other.

What this means is that we look and even (to our shame) at times operate like groups who have separated because of very real and very significant differences in doctrine, ecclesiology, soteriology, etc.  But looks may be deceiving; while we may have some of the outward symptoms of denominationalism, it seems to me that the underlying cause of denominationalism in the first place -- namely, deliberate schism over dogma -- is conspicuously absent from all of the Orthodox jurisdictions we have here in the West.
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« Reply #29 on: June 23, 2008, 03:16:47 PM »

Great post DavidBryan! One thing we must talk about is that all of our Jurisdictions are in Communion with each other and see ourselves as one Church. All the Patriarchs acknowledge that we are part of one Church and commemorate this in each and every Liturgy they celebrate.

Look at this picture:



It's ROCOR returning into Communion with the Church again. The Church is visibly one and we must never forget this. This shows how the Church is visibly one.
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« Reply #30 on: June 23, 2008, 08:50:50 PM »

David  Bryan you make excellent points. It is interesting that you are willing to consider those Presbyterian groups as jurisdictions. I have never had an Orthodox person offer that much respect to a Protestant group.

Also, I was actually addressing a different issue regarding the doctrinal reasons these Presbyterian groups separated (and not in the least comparing that to the Orthodox situation). It was like, while I'm at it I might as well also address the Orthodox tendency to caricature protestants; in that regard I was a bit off-subject. Sorry to muddy the waters! One reason for it, however, is that I found Christ as a Presbyterian and was nurtured in that community; when I became Orthodox I did not (and do not) believe that I found a different God. I found the right doctrine and right practice in relation to the God I already knew and was introduced to in the Presbyterian Church. Therefore some of the responses above about us Orhtodox being the true Church with the true sacraments and writing off the protestants as just being outsiders to the true faith, I find to be bogus triumphalism.

Not to mention the fact that such statements are preaching to the choir!

Now, as to the Reformed Presbys in Scotland. The National Covenant to them was a holy thing. For it to be violated would be like the EP asking to bring his juridiction into the Roman Catholic Church as is it is today with no changes and submitting himself to the Pope of Rome. It was that significant to these Scottish Presbyterians. BTW, I am not suggesting the EP would ever do such a thing, I am only trying to come up with something of the magnitude this was for the Reformed Presbys (also called Covenanters). But imagine if the EP ever did such a thing! Do you think there wouldn't be Orthodox in his jurisdiction who would leave the "mother" church?

I know what the answer is - he had ceased to be the true shepherd and that segment that followed him had ceased to be the true Church. Bingo!
That is exactly what the Covenanters believed the Church of Scotland had done. And the Covenanters were persecuted for it (some even to death).

I appreciate your points, but I still do not believe that eucharistic unity and common dogma and tradition in the USA can be continually over and over again be appealled to as "cover" for functional denominationalism (separate discipline, boards, publications, institutions, etc). At least you call it a scandal, which is more than many Orthodox do.

Finally, I commend you on your knowledge of the doctrinal distinctives of various protestant groups (you must be a convert!).

Finally-finally, by your writing "you are fond of saying" indicates that you have read and given thought to (or at least noticed) my posts when the subject of evangelicals/protestants has come up on OC.net. I take that as a compliment from someone such as yourself who makes posts that are thougtful and contain reasoned content rather than just emotion and opinion.
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« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2008, 02:21:12 AM »

David  Bryan you make excellent points. It is interesting that you are willing to consider those Presbyterian groups as jurisdictions. I have never had an Orthodox person offer that much respect to a Protestant group.

I cannot see the different Protestant denominations as "Jurisdictions" of one "Church". That's just not the way it is. Denominations wouldn't exist if they were part of the same Church.

I appreciate your points, but I still do not believe that eucharistic unity and common dogma and tradition in the USA can be continually over and over again be appealled to as "cover" for functional denominationalism (separate discipline, boards, publications, institutions, etc). At least you call it a scandal, which is more than many Orthodox do.

The Church is visibly one. This is one of the very important Christian doctrines. I would say that to say that the Church is merely a bunch of "denominations" is indeed heresy. I am sorry if I am being harsh, but that's just the way I see it.
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« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2008, 03:45:50 PM »

I cannot see the different Protestant denominations as "Jurisdictions" of one "Church". That's just not the way it is. Denominations wouldn't exist if they were part of the same Church.

The Church is visibly one. This is one of the very important Christian doctrines. I would say that to say that the Church is merely a bunch of "denominations" is indeed heresy. I am sorry if I am being harsh, but that's just the way I see it.
Before you call for the Spanish Inquisition here, I don't see anyone on this thread claiming that the Church is intrinsically denominational, so there's no reason to continue to raise the dreaded heresy flag.  What I DO see in the discussion is BrotherAidan arguing that the [Orthodox] Church in America often appears no different from the denominational landscape of American Protestantism and DavidBryan countering with his observation that American Protestantism could be considered little different from our [Orthodox] jurisdictionalism.  Notice my emphasis on such words as "appears" and "observation".  They're discussing their own particular views of the landscape of American Christianity; they're not arguing doctrine.
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« Reply #33 on: June 24, 2008, 10:16:52 PM »

Great post DavidBryan!

David  Bryan you make excellent points.

Thank you both.

It is interesting that you are willing to consider those Presbyterian groups as jurisdictions. I have never had an Orthodox person offer that much respect to a Protestant group.

Well, if they're united in everything but name and administration...sounds like us.  Apples to apples.

One reason for it, however, is that I found Christ as a Presbyterian and was nurtured in that community; when I became Orthodox I did not (and do not) believe that I found a different God. I found the right doctrine and right practice in relation to the God I already knew and was introduced to in the Presbyterian Church.

Substitute "Southern Baptist" for "Presbyterian" and I'm right with you.

Therefore some of the responses above about us Orhtodox being the true Church with the true sacraments and writing off the protestants as just being outsiders to the true faith, I find to be bogus triumphalism.

Gets old, huh?

I appreciate your points, but I still do not believe that eucharistic unity and common dogma and tradition in the USA can be continually over and over again be appealled to as "cover" for functional denominationalism (separate discipline, boards, publications, institutions, etc). At least you call it a scandal, which is more than many Orthodox do.

I'm not suggesting it is a "cover" for anything, merely that our "functional denominationalism" is not demoninationalism in the sense that it is usually used: to denote doctrinal differences between mutually separated groups.

Finally, I commend you on your knowledge of the doctrinal distinctives of various protestant groups (you must be a convert!).

Yessir.  You can read about my exposure to lots of these groups HERE.

Finally-finally, by your writing "you are fond of saying" indicates that you have read and given thought to (or at least noticed) my posts when the subject of evangelicals/protestants has come up on OC.net. I take that as a compliment from someone such as yourself who makes posts that are thougtful and contain reasoned content rather than just emotion and opinion.

Again, thank you for the kind words.

And...I just have to say it:

Before you call for the Spanish Inquisition here...

NOOOObody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!!  Grin
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« Reply #34 on: June 24, 2008, 10:57:13 PM »

Before you call for the Spanish Inquisition here, I don't see anyone on this thread claiming that the Church is intrinsically denominational, so there's no reason to continue to raise the dreaded heresy flag.  What I DO see in the discussion is BrotherAidan arguing that the [Orthodox] Church in America often appears no different from the denominational landscape of American Protestantism and DavidBryan countering with his observation that American Protestantism could be considered little different from our [Orthodox] jurisdictionalism.  Notice my emphasis on such words as "appears" and "observation".  They're discussing their own particular views of the landscape of American Christianity; they're not arguing doctrine.
Thank you Peter!
Well said.
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« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2008, 02:02:33 PM »

Ok, sorry, I guess I wasn't really paying much attention.
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« Reply #36 on: June 26, 2008, 04:00:47 PM »

the word 'denominational' can not be used in its purest intent within orthodoxy no matter how much "alike" or "similar" we are or seems to be with this phrase.

The term is 'owned' by the protestant mind and the protestant 'christo-socio-religio-American' mainstream.

Maybe we orthodox are getting, looking and or seeming more and more like common American protestants these days in more ways than we would like to admit. I think that is very true and very sad.

I hear, read and see "orthodox" christians in ways that are for me shocking. I am more shocked when I find that "they" are shocked because I am shocked. Orthodox clergy are in a real tough spot today and are responding to each other, the "faithful" and the world in ways never seen before.

Even so I still do not beleive that it is AT ALL correct to use the term 'denominationalism' (or listic) to describe us orthodox.

Maybe we need a word of our own that means the exact same thing just like 'catholic' and 'universal'.

I think that works and may be needed within our life time if we keep up our current pace.

The term 'denominational' and its varied uses are taken already and is existing happily among the common American protestant world. It is their word!
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« Reply #37 on: June 26, 2008, 10:18:32 PM »

'christo-socio-religio-American'
huh?
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« Reply #38 on: June 26, 2008, 10:19:44 PM »

"denomination" is a word in the English language; it does not belong to any one particular religion or church body.

For example: when cashing a check for a thosuand dollars, one can ask for it in denominations of tens (or twenties, or fifties).

When talking about like-minded church bodies one can call them deominations.

It is simply a word that means sub-divisions or groupings. In the first example of bills; in the second example of groups of Christians.

Orthodox jurisdictions are a distinct group of Christians and can certainly be called denominations in that sense.

In a more technical and PARTICULAR manner, certain criteria go into making the various church denominations:
separate discipline (a Greek Orthodox bishop cannot discipline a Serbian Orthodox priest - his own bishop must do that)
separate boards - synods of bishops in one jurisdiction cannot set rules for other jurusdictions; one jurisdictions boards cannot manage the programs
                 of another jurisdiction
separate institutions: the Antiochians own adn run Antiochian Village; The OCA owns and runs St, Vlads and St. Tikhons; the Greek Orthodox own
                and run Holy Cross; the same holds true for camps, dioscese property, etc. Other jurisdictions cannot come in and lay claim to these
                because we hold the same dogma and commune together.
separate publications: the OCA has a magazine; as do the Antiochians and most other jurisdictions. Fr. Abdulah over at "The Word" cannot determine
               the content of the OCA magazine and Fr. Matusak at "The Orthodox Church" magazine cannot determine the content at "The Word."

These "jurisdictional" activites fulfill the defintion of "denomination."

Does the old Shakespear line not begin to apply here: "Thou doth protest too loudly."
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« Reply #39 on: June 27, 2008, 12:05:00 PM »

From the Online Etymology Dictionary:

1398, "a naming," from L. denominationem (nom. denominatio) "a calling by anything other than the proper name, metonymy," from denominare "to name," from de- "completely" + nominare "to name." Monetary sense is 1660; meaning "religious sect" is 1716.

So "denomination" literally means "a misnaming" or "a nickname."
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« Reply #40 on: June 27, 2008, 02:52:32 PM »

So "denomination" literally means "a misnaming" or "a nickname."

Which doesn't apply to the 15 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.  The $1 and $100 are different denominations of the same thing, money. 

The Canonical Orthodox Churches believe in the same things with different names based on ethnicity, region, etc.
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« Reply #41 on: June 27, 2008, 03:22:36 PM »

Which doesn't apply to the 15 Autocephalous Orthodox Churches.  The $1 and $100 are different denominations of the same thing, money. 
But it could. The OCA, the GOA, ROCOR--it could be said that all are denominations of the same thing, the One Church.

Quote
The Canonical Orthodox Churches believe in the same things with different names based on ethnicity, region, etc.
Different names, and all called something other than the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. So it could definitely be a "misnaming."

I'm not here saying that Orthodoxy and Protestantism are essentially the same; I mean only that one could argue for using the word denomination to describe the situation of Orthodoxy in America. I'm arguing semantics rather than theology.
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« Reply #42 on: June 27, 2008, 03:33:36 PM »

I'm arguing semantics rather than theology.

Semantics is the Golden Road to Schism.  Old Calendar vs. New Calendar - are they denominations of one Calendar?
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« Reply #43 on: June 27, 2008, 04:10:39 PM »

Semantics is the Golden Road to Schism.
I'm not sure that's true. Semantics is simply the study of how words are used. If our words are unclear, perhaps a new word is necessary to convey our meaning.

Quote
Old Calendar vs. New Calendar - are they denominations of one Calendar?
Yep. I've argued that before on this forum.
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« Reply #44 on: June 27, 2008, 04:33:45 PM »

I'm not sure that's true. Semantics is simply the study of how words are used. If our words are unclear, perhaps a new word is necessary to convey our meaning.

Such a word may not exist in the current thread.

Yep. I've argued that before on this forum.

I remember seeing that thread on Calendars and my above sentiments were reflected in that there may not be such a word.

Going back to my reply on Semantics, isn't semantics (e.g. what is ecumenism) the reason for these uncanonical Orthodox Jurisdictions being created?  These uncanonical Jurisdictions would be correctly labeled as denominations of Orthodox Christianity according to definition of denomination because they no longer believe in the same things as canonical Orthodox Jurisdictions.
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