I don't think you can accurately accuse me of misrepresentation simply because my analysis of the situation is not in line with yours. Since we seem to be persuing this argument on two separate threads, it seems unnecessary to repeat every last remark I make in the other line. However, it seems problematic at best for a separatist group to lay claim to "Orthodox ecclessiology", since the mainline Orthodox groups could just as well lay claim to it too. Who am I supposed to believe? I am left to my own resources to judge whose claim is more reasonable.
On that much, I can agree with you - two parties claiming to be "Orthodox" making contradictory claims. That is a scandal. It is, sadly, nothing new - just as scandalous (if not more so) is the sight of various radically
differing parties all claiming to be "Orthodox" in their own divergent ways (various Protestant denominations, Roman Catholicism, Non-Chalcedonians, Mormons, etc.) And of course, beyond this, the scandal of darkened mankind filled with even more radically
divergent sects (Islam in it's various flavours, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.)
Not a new problem sadly, but perhaps more of a problem than ever before. I suppose this brings up the whole question of "knowing" which has been at the crux of the western philosophical tradition for millenia. And to that, I have no glib answers, save the conviction that God is the knower of men's hearts, and as St.Philaret pointed out, that the only sin which the Scriptures teach puts a man totally beyond the pale of redemption and into the hands of perdition is the "sin against the Holy Spirit." (St.Philaret, btw, was the reigning heirarch of ROCOR when it issued it's anathema against ecumenism.)
Leaving aside my personal differences with some of these points, it is the very length of the last paragraph which betrays you. This is not a principle; it is a line of reasoning.
Fair enough - a line of reasoning founded upon an underlying principle, which I obviously did not explain as simply and economically as I should have.
St.Paul states this principle much better (and simply) than I ever could...
14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2nd Corinthians 6:14-18)
If "where the bishop is, there is the church", then is the mind of the bishop the Mind of the Church? It certainly cannot be, and as I understand it Orthodoxy would specifically deny that this is so. The mind of the church has to be expressed some other way, and I am given to understand that it is expressed in a consensus across the ages.
Precisely - across the ages; the democracy of the Saints, and not the oligharchy of the living over the Saints of all ages (to borrow a sentiment from Chesterton regarding the value of tradition in all social institutions, including religion.)
It is precisely on this basis that the ecumenists are condemned. There is no patristic or canonical argument for their antics.
What's worse is that you are treating this as if it were as serious as denying the Creed. But it isn't. It's not a point of theology, but of discipline. And it may well be the mind of the church that ecumenical acts are acceptable within certain limits, in this age.
a) even if it were simply a matter of "discipline", the canons which are being violated are still in force as far as the Orthodox Church is concerned.
b) more importantly, this is
a point of theology, since the canons in this situation are addressing an ecclessiological issue (which, the last time I checked, was an aspect of theology) - the issue being the identity of the Church of Christ, and the inseperable relationship between Orthodox doctrine and "Churchness". Recognition of heretical rites is tantamount to a recognition of the groups which perform them. From an Orthodox ecclessiological p.o.v. this is the only conclusion one can arrive at, since Orthodoxy rejects the idea that the sacraments are magical rites that can be properly "performed" by those who are not in fact members of Christ. The sacraments are salvific, precisely because they are acts of Christ (done in and by His body, the Church.) For example, while in emergencies the Church recognizes that a layman can baptize someone, (unlike Catholicism, for example) She does not believe someone who is not Orthodox, who is not a member of Christ, can baptize.
This is why the canons prohibiting joint prayers with heretics or recognition of their sacraments exist at all - they're the practical outgrowth of ecclessiological doctrine, not just some clannish attempt at being exclusive for it's own sake.
Which brings us back to the schism problem. One would expect that such a dispute would be settled the old-fashioned Orthodox way: get the bishops together and let them work it out.
You're labouring under the false idea that this has not been tried.
Instead a few bishops have passed judgement on the rest; the mind of these bishops have become the mind of the church, in their eyes. They have refused the discipline of having to convince the rest of the church.
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican. (St.Matthew 16:15-17)
Sadly, not only individual layman, but Bishops (even those with arch-episcopal titles like "Metropolitan" or "Patriarch") have put themselves in a position to be admonished by their non-erring brethren - and sadly in our modern context, have refused their admonition.
The current crisis is of course not without historical precident - I don't think anyone here would doubt that it was the resisting Bishops and faithful who refused to be in communion with the official "Arian" churches who were in the wrong. In the long run, this situation too will have to be worked out on a "large" scale. For the time being however, it is not simply excusable, but necessary to refuse fellowship with those who have either imbibed heresy, or who attempt to legitimize it by remaining in communion with it.
If I am going to look at "Orthodox confessors", I am going to look at all of Orthodoxy. That would be the Anglican way to do it.
In which case, you'll have to look to the Fathers and Saints - not simply those posing as confessors in our day, but those of past ages. Catholicity is not determined by majority vote in the moment, but consensus from Pentecost onward. It is on this basis that the modern Orthodox confessors take the position that they do, not some sort of willy nilly phariseeism or sectarianism (which is how their stand is typically characterized.)
Since these are dead issues, what does it matter? Actually, I'll take it a step further. Again, these are discipline issues, and since the practice has changed, the implication is right there that discipline is subject to such change. So the fact that these practices are no longer carried out is evidence against your thesis.
You seem to have misunderstood me. They're a dead letter in your confession, though I'm sure Anglican scholars are well aware of them.
As for your conclusions here, I'm at a loss for words. If you cannot see what the basis was for these older practices (and why
they changed as they did), I have nothing else to say to you on that matter.
Well, that's not precisely what they say, never mind that they are a disputed document anyway.
Not as far as Orthodoxy is concerned, which is what is important here. My issue here is not with Anglicans or Roman Catholics doing what they do, but those who identify themselves as being "Orthodox" and inheritors of the Church's holy patrimony doing things like this.
do not precisely cover the modern situation of division.
That is so often said, but rarely justified. They precisely cover our situation, since specific heresies are not identified, but the notion of heretical sects in general - and as far as Orthodoxy is concerned, the heterodox subscribe to heresies.
This is an important point because they are plainly written to the situation of a post-Nicene but definitely Byzantine church, a church which enjoys the aegis of the state and which is still hurting from the Arian and Christological controversies (and maybe even iconoclasm).
Is this the best you can do? Try and divine the motives of overly-emotional Byzantines? How about they say what they say, and taking them on that level is the obvious
way of receiving them?
The point is that these prohibitions don't arise out of nowhere, and they aren't first principles.
I agree, they did not arise from nowhere, and in fact have been the policy of the Church since the Apostolic period (thus "Apostolic Canons"). This is precisely what I've been trying to point out to you, particularly in this post - they are the practical expression of Orthodox ecclessiological doctrine.
They are laws written to the situation, and at the time thought to be of general application. Depicting them as timeless rules is exactly the kind of juridical thinking that the West is oft accused of!
I've rarely seen the west accused by anyone of being doggedly attached to "forms" of praxis (since it is typically western heterodox apologists who fault Orthodoxy for being so attached to outward expressions of ecclessiastical tradition), but perhaps that's because I don't get out much.
Some canons exist as matters of common sense and are context appropriate. However others (such as those dealing with heresy, or that have an intimate relationship with doctrinal matters) are not reformable. In this case, there is a disciplinary element and a dogmatic element - they're intertwined. The canons regarding interconfessional prayer and co-liturgizing (as well as the recognition of heretical sacraments) exist, because of dogmatic convictions about the Church. Besides, the canons themselves are still in effect (afa Orthodoxy is concerned.) The new calendarists themselves do not even pretend to argue they're not in effect - they simply ignore them, or argue around them (but never have I heard even them argue that they're somehow "not in effect.")
OK, now you've set Jesus against you. I can quote chapter and verse from Jesus himself about those using his name "falsely", and it isn't going to support this statement. Nobody should ever be declaring his side to be without sin.
a) Nobody said anything about anyone
being "without sin."
b) You could only quote "chapter and verse" by bastardizing it's meaning. Do you think Christ's care for those who sincerely labour outside of the Church extends to the sacreligious use of His Name, or to a justification of error (which elsewhere the Scriptures attribute to the devil)? Or do you believe that at least implicit to Christ's correction of the Apostles on this matter, was the notion of "innocently ignorant" men (who are favourably disposed to the Lord) was the notion that they should
end up in the communion of the Church? Surely He didn't mean that their invocation of His Name was an end in itself, do you, or a pardoning of the demonic evil of heresy and schism?