In its developed form, yes. But as I said, it is rooted in the ancient affirmation of the validity of schismatic baptisms. That is not a modern position, and it is one I would like to see the Orthodox affirm unequivocally. If there is one doctrinal issue between East and West on which I think the West really is correct, it would be this one.
Any of the ancient canons regarding the baptisms of schismatics and heretics (but note only heretics with valid Trinitarian formula of baptism, that is in "The Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit" not in some other form such as "Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer" or some other similar messing about) still required Chrismation. This indicates not a belief in the "validity" of these baptisms as such, baptism did not make one a full member of the Church, Chrismation did.
Why are you so sure that Vatican II itself is to blame? Aren't you jumping too quickly to this conclusion? If, as the Orthodox say and as I believe, the West has been dominated for a long time by a rather distorted understanding of what orthodox Christianity is, and if the RCC in particular has tended to overemphasize juridical authority and hierarchical control, then it follows that a loosening of the reins would have the immediate result that people would fall into a lot of deplorable errors. It seems rather hasty to blame Vatican II itself unless you can point to specific teachings of that Council that you believe to be a movement in the wrong direction vis-a-vis previous RC teaching.
This hostile attitude to Vatican II is probably one of the main things that divides me from converts to Orthodoxy, especially ex-Anglicans. I am thoroughly convinced of the basic validity of "ressourcement" Catholicism as found in theologians such as Henri de Lubac, Louis Bouyer, Jean Danielou, etc. (I would put the Orthodox theologian Olivier Clement in essentially the same theological camp--I find Clement's account of the Papacy entirely convincing.) The problem is that in many ways the reality described by these theologians corresponds much better to Orthodoxy than to Latin Catholicism. Post-Vatican-II Catholicism in its most official manifestations--the Catechism of the Catholic Church, for instance--shows the strong influence of Eastern Christianity.
I understand that much of the objection to post-Vatican-II Catholicism focuses on liturgy. But there again, the problem goes back arguably to the sixth century when the traditional Roman Rite took shape. According to Aidan Nichols (in _Rome and the Eastern Churches_), the Latin Rite was from the beginning written in a classicizing Latin largely inaccessible to the common people--it reflected the takeover of the Western Church by the Roman aristocracy. The Byzantine Rite, from the other hand, developed organically out of a liturgy that was deeply participatory. Thus, while the traditional Latin Mass may superficially seem very similar to the Byzantine liturgy, in my experience the two are radically different. (Admittedly, not having lived before Vatican II, I'm basing my judgment of the TLM on two Low Masses I've attended, one SSPX and one indult. I'm sure a High Mass would be somewhat different--but again, the very existence of the "Low Mass" is a Western distinctive.)
I have no certainty regarding VII's blame myself, FWIW I consider VI to be a major source of confusion that paved the way for VII. I do believe that RCs might be better off if the only aim of VII's liturgical "reforms" was the translation of the Mass into the language common to the people of the various nations, as opposed to allowing some form of free-for-all anarchy that many of our Catholic posters complain about. The problem with saying that VII shows the strong influence of Eastern Christianity is that it also shows the strong influence of more reappraising forms of theology. It tries to marry a more "traditional" form of Christianity with a Post-Radical Reformation form and the two do not mix well.
If Rome was right against Cyprian about the unrepeatability of schismatic baptism, then given what orthodox Christians have always believed about baptism we may have grounds to know a good deal more than that.
I've never quite understood why this wasn't an issue in the early Church, given that Rome clearly differed with Cyprian on this point in the 3rd century, and it's the sort of thing you'd think someone would have made a fight about on one side or the other if the East similarly differed from Rome that early on something this important. I have to wonder whether the "Cyprianic" position of the Eastern Church is genuinely ancient--but I'd have to do further research on the subject.
The East was never as monolithic as all that, and still isn't. Patriarchs and bishops are given a lot of leeway as to how they handle such situations. This becomes more of a problem here in a America, where parishes of different juridictions right down the street from each other have different requirements, one baptizing all converts, the other baptizing only Protestant converts, and the third just baptizing non-Christians and those who were not baptized according to the Trinitarian formula. But in Orthodoxy on the grand scale this makes more sense, leaving each mode of reception to the conscience and traditions that have been with the Church from as long as there were schismatics and heretics.
Indeed. And that's my point. The West genuinely thought that this was the ancient position of the Church. The problem was cultural estrangement.
But we hadn't reached my point yet, which was:
The issue between East and West has always been more about Papal Supremacy than the Filioque, the latter being but a symptom of the infection of the former.
Regardless of what the West thought was the ancient position of the Church as regards the Filioque the Filioque wasn't really the problem, it was the fact that the West (which had introduced the innovation, whether it knew it or not) thought it had the authority to dictate to the East on any matter or point at all.
That makes absolutely no sense. The Filioque originated in Spain and was resisted by the Papacy.
At first. But by the time of the Schism in 1054 the absence of the Filioque in the Eastern Creed was one of the main points of reasoning behind the excommunications placed on the East. In fact, the Pope should have known better as regards the ancient traditions, the Creed in Latin, without Filioque, was inscribed on his personal chapel less than two hundred years before.
"Papal Supremacy" is a complicated issue. I agree with the Orthodox that the way the Papacy has been exercised in the past millennium is disordered, and that many of the standard RC apologetic claims against the Orthodox betray a juridical approach to ecclesiology that is at odds with the Tradition. However, at the same time it has to be noted that there is no dogma called "Papal Supremacy"--that's a polemical catch-all term used by the Orthodox (and many Anglicans). The closest one could come to it is the concept of "plenitudo potestatis," which is unfortunately reaffirmed in the CCC, and/or the claim of "ordinary, direct jurisdiction" made at Vatican I.
The problem I have is that the choice in practice is between a disordered Papacy and no papacy at all. And I'm just as certain that the Petrine ministry of Rome is an integral part of the right ordering of the Church as I am that the way Rome has exercised this ministry has become deeply disordered. Insofar as I have an excuse for remaining Anglican, that is it!
Petrine ministry and how it developed is just one of the many fun discussions we have here on the Orthodox-Catholic section of the forums. For now, I will just state that the East has two legitimate claimants for Petrine desent: Antioch and Alexandria. Rome's position of honor stated in the canons of the first Nicene Council derived from her position as capital of the Empire and as the place where most martyrdoms throughout the pre-Constantine Empire got their start and bloodiest finish.
Well, I don't want to bring specific denominations into this, the Episcopalians might be one of the more noticeable but certainly not the worst.
I said "one of the worst."
John Shelby Spong is about as bad as you get. . . .
Please, I don't want to argue with you over how other denominations are just as bad as your own, especially from this side of it. That's just... weird. Spong is bad, but his brand of theology isn't exclusive to Episcopalians, it's a concerted effort spread across denominations.
Going in the complete opposite direction you have pretty much every other denomination falling to Montanism and Donatism.
I don't think the choices are that stark at all. Most evangelicals recognize the problems with Donatism, though in practice they often wind up practicing a kind of Donatism because of their weak ecclesiology and the realities of American Protestantism. I frankly find your injunction to "flee to the ACNA" to be a form of Donatism. . . .
There might be a degree of reductio ad absurdum
to my statement regarding Evangelicals, but just a slight degree. As to the statement regarding the ACNA, I'll address it when you re-adress it later in your post.
As to your denomination specifically, the Episcopalians have reached a point where finding anything remotely "Christian" is becoming more and more difficult every day.
I have never found it difficult, even when I lived in New Jersey.
Either your experience is radically different from mine, or you are working with a much more draconian definition of "remotely Christian" than I am.
Even one of the more radical churches near me in the Diocese of Newark (I lived practically on the diiocesan border, and attended church in the Diocese of New Jersey, which is more middle-of-the-road by Episcopalian standards), which did not use the Nicene Creed, replaced it with a statement saying "Jesus is Lord and we are God's people." That's vague and implicitly unorthodox (inasmuch as this substituted for the Creed), but certainly more than "remotely" Christian!
"Jesus is Lord and we are God's people." is just a little too
vague. The same statement could be made by Hare Krishna, Mormons, or Jehovah's Witnesses. Without knowing the parish you speak of I could not say more, as I don't know what sort of references to the Resurrection, Trinity, etc, they make. Try going to church in Chicago, some time. The most "conservative" parish I visited (plainchant, everything from the BCP, etc) there had sermons filled with with theological agnosticism: "It doesn't matter if the Resurrection was a historical event", "if (this or that) exists", etc.
I am not sure what you mean by "absolutely no recognizable form." I haven't experienced this myself. A gender-neutral Our Father is certainly at least remotely Christian!
A gender-neutral "Our Father" isn't even an "Our Father
" let alone Christian.
And "interfaith gatherings" can mean a lot of things.
In this particular case it means services with less-than fundamentalist Muslims, Wiccans, New Age gurus, etc. When I was an Anglican I would have been less disturbed if it only meant inter-denominational, as a former Baptist that was actually comforting at the time.
It seems to me that a lot of conservative ex-Anglicans use the phrase "not remotely Christian" to mean what I'd call "clearly Christian but of dubious orthodoxy at best."
The funny thing is, when I was an Anglican I was far less than "conservative", and willing to stick around through a lot of the issues that drove the conservatives out. The final straw for me was law-suits and a PB willing to run rough-shod over the constitutions and canons to defrock priests and bishops who disagreed with her.
If you wish to remain Anglican, flee, flee I say, to the ACNA (because at this point not being recognized by Canterbury is a good thing.
I find that to be very odd advice, though unfortunately I've heard it before. The reason I remain Anglican is that I do not wish to go into schism from the body of Christians with whom I am presently associated. Why on earth would I or anyone else leave that body to join yet another sect of Protestant schismatics, which is essentially what the ACNA are at this point (well, minus the three or four dioceses that came over from the Episcopal Church as geographical entities--if I lived in those parts of the country, I'd happily be ACNA)?
I don't care about being Anglican per se. I care about the unity of the Church defined as the whole company of the baptized. And that is my basic point of difference with Orthodoxy. This conversation over the past few days has clarified that point for me.
When St John fled the bath-house upon the entry of Cerinthus was he worried about "unity at all costs (even orthodoxy)?" The Anglican I was could have argued for the ACNA based on the grounds that there were indeed entire dioceses that came over, and that there were indeed valid priests and bishops in the AMIA and Nigerian Missions (geographical incursions bothered me not in the slightest, such is also a tradition of the Church when heresy has been determined, sorry, Apb Rowan), and that these together are enough to absolve the sin of schism from the REC and other traditionalist groups that joined in the founding (indeed, I saw the unification of all these groups as something remarkable). My current beliefs are, of course, much different, but it is that vestigial Anglican who voices such concern. If you are not yet ready to embrace Orthodoxy, at least embrace orthodoxy.
That's a valid point. "I'm-as-good-as-you" is the worm in the apple of Anglo-Catholicism. . . . if Anglo-Catholicism had been willing from the beginning to take a humble and penitential attitude to churches of more undoubted orthodoxy and apostolicity, the story might have been very different. Unfortunately, Anglo-Catholics have from the beginning played a shell game of trying to persuade RCs and Orthodox (mostly Orthodox because RCs knew better) that they (the Anglo-Catholics) spoke for Anglicans as a whole. And non-Anglo-Catholic Anglicans, who don't actually accept the teachings of the "undivided Church," have been happy to piggyback on those claims of Catholicity. Never mind the fact that many folks (including very conservative ones) claim to be Anglo-Catholic while in fact rejecting basic parts of the "undivided Church" package. (The wife of one "Continuing Anglican" archbishop told me confidently that her particular jurisdiction rejected the practice of asking for the prayers of the Theotokos--and this group has the word "Catholic" in its name!) I've been guilty of this too--I've used Anglicanism as a place to work out my remaining issues with pre-Reformation Christianity, while claiming basically to adhere to it.
The via media
is indeed a beautiful dream, unfortunately the balance is near impossible to keep. One of my particular favorite quotes from the more low-church end of things is "We accept the first four Councils and the Christological clarifications of the latter three" as if the entirety of the teachings of the Seventh Council weren't Christological.
When Sts Priscilla and Aquila came across St Apollos preaching the Christian faith in Ephesus they did not rebuke him for it. They took him aside and instructed him in the fullness of the faith, and he accepted the teachings. When St Paul came across a few of Apollos' earlier converts he baptized them into the Church (though they had already had the Baptism of St John the Forerunner) and instructed them about the Holy Spirit. In neither case did the saints come across someone and say "Oh, well, all is fine. Continue as you did before." This is the position of the Orthodox Church.
I have no problem with what you say here. I think Metropolitan Jonah's address to the ACNA convention was marvelous--it was an excellent example of what I meant when I said earlier that the Orthodox can be "of great use to us."
Indeed, it was this address that is the reason I didn't "flee to the ACNA" and marked the beginning of my path into Orthodoxy.
Please, don't confuse forum policy as any sort of official teaching by the Eastern or Oriental Orthodox Churches. The fact is this board was founded by both Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Christians and the policy reflects this fact.
I can see that. I imagine that if Orthodox and Eastern Catholics were to found a board together, the tone might be rather different toward the Roman Communion.
I doubt it. As the longer version of my above quote stated, things can get pretty heated in the OO-EO section.
So are you denying altogether that the majority of Orthodox take a much more lenient view toward the OOs than toward Western Christians?
I can neither confirm nor deny these remarks at this time
Seriously, it's hard to discern what the "majority" Orthodox view is in this regard. The hard-line anti-ecumenicist isn't going to be lenient toward anyone, the full-on ecumenicist is going to be just as lenient, and those in the middle will either lean in one direction or the other.
Certainly there has been more head-way in the talks between OO and EO than with EO and Western Christians, but the Fourth Council will be a sticking point for quite some time. A lot of this has to do with a very similar approach to ecclesiology, it's hard to get anywhere with the Roman Church when you can't agree as to has the power to say what and when. And as for the Protestant Churches, forget it. The mainlines who are left are most likely going to individually join either RC or EO, we might be able to hope for a entire parish or a diocese at most, but those in power are more interested in playing happy-clappy with Pagans and Buddhists. The Evangelical denominations are about as likely to join the Mormons as to unite with a bunch of idol-worshiping necromancers, though a pastor reading the Fathers can sometimes provide some surprising results.