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Keble
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« on: August 21, 2003, 11:22:58 AM »

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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.)

I'm sorry-- that taxonomy won't fly.

Religion doesn't exist as a flight from the Orthodox churches, no matter how you count them. Lumping Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism together ignores the radically different relationships that they have with Christianity. Buddhism in particular is a stretch; Siddhartha lived and died hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, after all.

If you can't get the gross taxonomy right, what confidence should I have that you can get Orthodox taxonomy right?
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2003, 10:19:16 AM »

Not to hijack the thread, but I have a question, while we're on the subject. Evangelical Protestants have this new thing, I'm not ready to call it a heresy yet, but it just seems kind of silly. First, they (as a culture, not as a generalization) have hijacked the word "Christian" to refer only to themselves. But it really gets bizzarre when you try to talk to them about taxonomy of religion. I coworker of mine recently left for Regents University and she called my place of employment. We were talking about her new school, and she said, "not everybody here is Christian." So I said, "then what are they," stumped. She said, "they're just religious." So religious taxomony among many evangelicals is divided into the "saved" and the "religious." Christianity is not a religion, it is a "personal relationship with Jesus." Religions are things like EOxy or Catholicism, and they do not save, according to this belief system. What make ye of this?
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2003, 07:27:33 PM »

-edited for clarity

>What make ye of this?

I somewhat agree.  Christianity is not found in a single denomination or single "church."  Christ's body is located where believers in His name reside, whether they have the outward affiliation of Evangelical, Roman Catholic, or Eastern Orthodox.  Outward religion without a relationship with Christ will lead to damnation (Matthew 7:21-23).

~Matt
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« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2003, 06:50:09 AM »

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Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day: Lord, Lord, have not we prophesied in thy name, and cast out devils in thy name, and done many miracles in thy name?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.


The evangelicals tend to make this into something esoteric. Are you REALLY a Christian? Do you REALLY have a personal relationship with God?

The simple fact is, everybody has a relationship with God. Maybe not a good one, but as a relationship is the state of being in relation to someone or something (or some One), I don't see how you can escape it. (Psalm 139:7)

The keyword in the citation you gave seems to me to be "doth." Those who go to Heaven are those who do the will of God. This is hard to reconcile with a sola fides theology. The words "inward" and "outward" are not used. Just "doth."

The citation you gave me doesn't seem to me to bespeak of a heaven granted to those who had an esoteric knowledge of God's will. "Workers of iniquity" will depart. Those who do the will of God will go to heaven. Knowledge of the will of God is accessible to all. It is found in Scripture and Tradition.
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« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2003, 08:54:20 AM »

The biggest problem with the evangelical p.o.v. is not so much the whole "personal relationship" issue (which I think is mistated), but the lack of dogmatic content to such a "relationship."

As CW rightly pointed out, everyone has a relationship to God, with varying degrees (on our end) of problems in that relationship.  What the evangelicals should be doing, is rather than speaking imprecisely of "personal relationship", should be speaking in terms of one's committment to their beliefs - that is to say, the difference between a nominal, lukewarm adherance to religion, or one that is a matter of conviction and heartfelt piety.

However, evangelicals generally do mean more than this (conviction in religion) when they speak of "personal relationship" - implicit to this are also anti-heirarchal, anti-ecclessial ideas about that relationship ("Jesus and me, and no one else's imput is necessary.")  Of course, there are all sorts of logical problems with this position (ex. didn't someone else have to inform you upon the "gospel" and even "disciple" you, so why a problem with ongoing ecclessial involvement in that relationship - what in principle makes one ok, the other anathema?), but that seems to be the state of things.

Of course, the tragedy (on our human, creaturely end of things) is that there is a question of "which Christ" and "which Gospel" they've come to accept.  On that score, it's up to debate how much better/worse off they really are, then others who are not nominally "Christian" at all.  For example, while one can speak much of Christ, and invoke His Gospel, what if the content behind both is incredibly perverse?  While otoh, a Buddhist (who does not nominally speak of either) spends a lot of time fasting, denying the passing pleasures of this world, and lives a life of poverty and humility?  In such a case, it's entirely debatable who is in fact closer to the truth, or who would be more apt to accept the teaching of the Church of Christ (the Orthodox Church)?  On one hand, it could be argued the Evangelical would, due to issues of historicity and similarity of "names" and accepted sacred texts, and other superficial similarities - otoh, one could say the Buddhist, who might see the completion of his ideas, without the various falsehoods and pitfalls of his religion.

For reasons like this, it is better for the Body of Christ to not enter vain, ecumenistic speculation of those who, even by their own recognition, are not members of the Orthodox Church, which we fervently believe to be the Body of Christ, and the extension of Pentecost into the present day.  The truth is, all outside of Her are a field awaiting harvesting.

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« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2003, 10:02:07 AM »

For reasons like this, it is better for the Body of Christ to not enter vain, ecumenistic speculation of those who, even by their own recognition, are not members of the Orthodox Church, which we fervently believe to be the Body of Christ, and the extension of Pentecost into the present day.  The truth is, all outside of Her are a field awaiting harvesting.

Seraphim

Good advice, Seraphim Reeves. The nueva-evangelistas seem not to undertstand 'The Church'  as defined by"Ekklesia", Community.  What they seem only to see today as 'community' is Orthodoxy's various churches as ethnic religious clubs. They have no concept of The Church outside of their 'personal relationship' and do not seem, hence, to even understand Ekklesia. That the personal relationship and the community are one, and Life itself. Perhaps if their Bible translations had correctly stated "born from above" instead of "born again" much of the basis of their confusion would not have existed.
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« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2003, 11:12:17 AM »

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However, evangelicals generally do mean more than this (conviction in religion) when they speak of "personal relationship" - implicit to this are also anti-heirarchal, anti-ecclessial ideas about that relationship ("Jesus and me, and no one else's imput is necessary.")

Yes, they do mean more than "conviction in religion."

A few days ago an Evangelical co-worker asked me out to lunch.  I used to attend her church before I converted to EO last January.  I suspected she wanted to "witness" to me, and I was correct.

She kept asking over and over again, "Do the people at your EO church have a personal relationship with Christ?  Are they born again?"  Yes and yes, I told her, but I was being a little disengenuous because I knew (and she knew) that we didn't mean the same exact thing by these phrases.  I knew she meant it with all its Evangelical baggage.

I was relentlessly cheerful and she gave up after a few attempts to castigate "Mary worship."  But I didn't blame her.  She was only fulfilling her Evangelical obligation to rescue people from Babylon. (She had RC and EO all mixed up, btw.)  At least she cared enough about me to take me out to lunch and talk to me.  None of my old friends have done this.  They act like I have leprosy.

But I got to thinking about this "personal relationship" business.  Can this phrase be found in the Bible anyway?  It can be implied, but the phrase itself, is it there?  You would think a group that relied so much on Sola Scriptura would not bank so much on a non-Biblical phrase because as someone said earlier, we all have a relationship with Christ, be it good, bad or indifferent.

You are right:  When they say "personal relationship"  they mean some variation of individualistic "me and my Jesus" religion which readily deteriorates to the Evangelistic Mess we see today.  

-Xenia

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« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2003, 12:15:52 PM »


The evangelicals tend to make this into something esoteric. Are you REALLY a Christian? Do you REALLY have a personal relationship with God?

The simple fact is, everybody has a relationship with God. Maybe not a good one, but as a relationship is the state of being in relation to someone or something (or some One), I don't see how you can escape it. (Psalm 139:7)

The keyword in the citation you gave seems to me to be "doth." Those who go to Heaven are those who do the will of God. This is hard to reconcile with a sola fides theology. The words "inward" and "outward" are not used. Just "doth."

The citation you gave me doesn't seem to me to bespeak of a heaven granted to those who had an esoteric knowledge of God's will. "Workers of iniquity" will depart. Those who do the will of God will go to heaven. Knowledge of the will of God is accessible to all. It is found in Scripture and Tradition.

That's because the citiation was in response to the previous comment "Christianity is not a religion," not the rest of the said comment "it is a 'personal relationship with Jesus.'  The workers, although they completed very religious things, were not to enter into Heaven.

I didn't define what I meant by "personal relationship" in my first reply.  What those Evangelicals are trying to relate would be better called a "postitive relationship" with Christ (although I think the whole mess would be better termed "reconcilation with God," not "personal relationship with Christ")  I mean something similar, more specifically that through faith in Christ's atoning sacrifice, we now have access to God.

The whole point, not too get off topic for future replies, is that religious affilation will not save, including adherence to Eastern Orthdoxy. Faith in--or better termed loyalty toward--Christ (and thus his commands) is what does save.  Also, since people often talk past each other in these types of conversations, I'd like to let you know that I agree with your interpretation of the passage--those who do the will of the Lord will enter into Heaven.  Those that don't, won't.

As far as being difficult to reconcile with Sola Fide theology, I don't find it to be a problem.

~Matt
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2003, 12:18:20 PM »


I was relentlessly cheerful and she gave up after a few attempts to castigate "Mary worship."  But I didn't blame her.  She was only fulfilling her Evangelical obligation to rescue people from Babylon. (She had RC and EO all mixed up, btw.)  At least she cared enough about me to take me out to lunch and talk to me.  None of my old friends have done this.  They act like I have leprosy.

Your friend should've learned more about the differences between the RC and EO before "witnessing" to you.  On the behalf of Evangelicals everywhere, I apologize for her uninformed conduct.

~Matt
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2003, 05:47:33 PM »

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is that religious affilation will not save, including adherence to Eastern Orthdoxy

Religious affiliation, I can agree, would not necessarily save, but you are mistaken in your use of the word "adherence."

I don't know about EOxy, I suspect it is the same, but in the RCC, adherence involves conversion of heart, reconciliation with God, penance, and loving God with your with all strength, heart and mind.

Adherence for the Catholic (and for the EO?) involves adherence to Church teachings...Scripture, Tradition <---where one learns God's will.

I think there is more to traditional Christianity than you suspect. Smiley
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2003, 07:49:38 PM »

Over at CF I asked the Protestants about what  Personal Relationship (tm) meant.
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« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2003, 08:51:02 PM »


Religious affiliation, I can agree, would not necessarily save, but you are mistaken in your use of the word "adherence."

I don't know about EOxy, I suspect it is the same, but in the RCC, adherence involves conversion of heart, reconciliation with God, penance, and loving God with your with all strength, heart and mind.

Adherence for the Catholic (and for the EO?) involves adherence to Church teachings...Scripture, Tradition <---where one learns God's will.

I think there is more to traditional Christianity than you suspect. Smiley
What did you think I was suspecting about traditional Christianity?  I don't think there is anything wrong with a "religious" component to Christianity.  

How am I mistaken in my usage of "adherence"?  Did I use it incorrectly given the context of my words and previous postings in this thread?

Again, all I'm getting at is that rituals, correct doctrine/dogma, church attendance, etc. do not save.

~Matt
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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2003, 08:56:17 PM »

Over at CF I asked the Protestants about what  Personal Relationship (tm) meant.

I'm surprised that they didn't reference 1 John 3 in regards to assurance.

~Matt
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« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2003, 11:19:03 PM »

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What did you think I was suspecting about traditional Christianity?  I don't think there is anything wrong with a "religious" component to Christianity.  


Glad to hear it!

Quote
Again, all I'm getting at is that rituals, correct doctrine/dogma, church attendance, etc. do not save.

This is interesting, because the above quote is a doctrine of many evangelicals, as is that "personal relationship" stuff! So if doctrines don't save, I guess I don't need to say my sinner's prayer, because that's just a doctrine of the evangelicals!

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« Reply #14 on: September 08, 2003, 12:03:05 AM »

Anything that starts with a "tax" frightens me.  Shocked
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« Reply #15 on: September 08, 2003, 08:20:56 AM »

Over at CF I asked the Protestants about what  Personal Relationship (tm) meant.

Well, having read that thread, I have a few comments. It seems to me that there are two different lines of argument going on in it, a "good" line and a "bad" line.

The good line does in fact concern the "personal relationship", and it is in fact a thought which I can point directly to in Anglican applied theology, and given sufficient time I could find it in Orthodoxy as well. It is really a point about prayer, and indirectly about idolatry. The point is simply this: true prayer involves conversation with God. The indirect point about idolatry is that bad prayer treats God as an image to which one talks without really listening.

The "bad" line isn't so much wrong as it is an overreaction. Institutional Christianity, especially "exclusive proprietor" churches such as Orthodoxy and Catholicism, are prone to insisting that they have to mediate everything having to do with God. This sets them up for the particularly egregious sin of their ministers setting up the church itself as an idol. One of the more atrocious forms of this is the attitude in which obedience to the church is wherein salvation lies, so that one achieves salvation solely through a series of religious observances-- attendance at the Eucharist, fasts, etc. Or if you are a renaissance pope, you can take it a step further by selling grace, cash on the barrelhead. It is precisely this sort of abuse which sets off the "personal relationship" overreaction. It's an overreaction because it focuses too much on this one particular problem and doesn't worry enough about the consequences of getting rid of institutions entirely. (And in particular it ignores its own history of arising within the very institutional Anglicans.)

The hidden message in all of this is that Protestantism, at the heart, is driven by the observation that the keepers of the institutional church are subject to corruption, and when they are corrupt, and cannot be reformed (because, after all, they are the True Church (R), and the true church is never wrong), those who see this corruption don't have a lot of options.
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« Reply #16 on: September 08, 2003, 12:56:47 PM »


This is interesting, because the above quote is a doctrine of many evangelicals, as is that "personal relationship" stuff! So if doctrines don't save, I guess I don't need to say my sinner's prayer, because that's just a doctrine of the evangelicals!

Why would you "need" to say the sinner's prayer?  The reconciliation with Christ is not in itself a doctrine, but can be described by doctrine.  Similarly, this reconciliation can manifest itself in the form of a prayer, such as the sinner's, but, again the point is that saying the prayer itself isn't the means to salvation.

Otherwise, I have no idea what you're trying to get at.

~Matt
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« Reply #17 on: September 08, 2003, 02:01:26 PM »

[snip]

Institutional Christianity, especially "exclusive proprietor" churches such as Orthodoxy and Catholicism, are prone to insisting that they have to mediate everything having to do with God. This sets them up for the particularly egregious sin of their ministers setting up the church itself as an idol. One of the more atrocious forms of this is the attitude in which obedience to the church is wherein salvation lies, so that one achieves salvation solely through a series of religious observances-- attendance at the Eucharist, fasts, etc.

[snip]

The hidden message in all of this is that Protestantism, at the heart, is driven by the observation that the keepers of the institutional church are subject to corruption, and when they are corrupt, and cannot be reformed (because, after all, they are the True Church (R), and the true church is never wrong), those who see this corruption don't have a lot of options.


Although your comments are directed along a specific line of inquiry (and presumably from the perspective of evangelical Protestants), you make some broad generalizations which I think need some slight balance.

Orthodox do not understand the Church merely from the standpoint of the institution (though, because of the Incarnation, the institution is included within the understanding of the Church).  The Church is the Body of Christ, and as such is one.  Because the Church is the Body of Christ, it is holy, and therefore sinless.  It is apostolic and catholic, and therefore infallible.  Pomo deconstruction (and post-Freudian, -Marxian, and -Nietzschean criticism) likes to tarnish everything by way of projection and sublimation, but this just doesn't work with the Church.
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« Reply #18 on: September 08, 2003, 04:35:49 PM »

[snip]

Institutional Christianity, especially "exclusive proprietor" churches such as Orthodoxy and Catholicism, are prone to insisting that they have to mediate everything having to do with God. This sets them up for the particularly egregious sin of their ministers setting up the church itself as an idol. One of the more atrocious forms of this is the attitude in which obedience to the church is wherein salvation lies, so that one achieves salvation solely through a series of religious observances-- attendance at the Eucharist, fasts, etc.

[snip]

The hidden message in all of this is that Protestantism, at the heart, is driven by the observation that the keepers of the institutional church are subject to corruption, and when they are corrupt, and cannot be reformed (because, after all, they are the True Church (R), and the true church is never wrong), those who see this corruption don't have a lot of options.


Although your comments are directed along a specific line of inquiry (and presumably from the perspective of evangelical Protestants), you make some broad generalizations which I think need some slight balance.

Orthodox do not understand the Church merely from the standpoint of the institution (though, because of the Incarnation, the institution is included within the understanding of the Church).

Saying this does not help. In fact, you are practically endorsing making the error.

There are actually three levels of discourse going on here, and you have confounded them all in a manner which practically guarantees problems. In the first place, the problem is not, at first, whether or not the institutional church, in embodying The Church, is all these things; it is that the institution claims{i/] to have all these things. This issue is particularly a problem now that there are two major bodies making these claims for themselves, as well as a bunch of traditionalist Orthodox bodies claiming it for themselves.

The other half of the confusion lies in the distinction between The Orthodox and individual representatives of the Orthodox churches. Even if the Church as a whole (and therefore the institution in some respect) possesses these resulting attributes, it is surely true that her ministers do not individually inherit them. Indeed, one can see, often enough, cases where obedience to individual ministers is held (by themselves) to be the way to salvation-- or at least a crucial component. Each minister holds themselves to be in an institution which is The Church, and thus each individual is infallible, since (they believe) they are teaching what The Church teaches.

At its very worse, one finds bishops and priests and even laymen who emphasize fealty to themselves over the gospel, and then refuse correction when the gospel itself argues against them. There simply have to be limits on how trustworthy the institutional church can be taken to be, simply because its local manifestions are unquestionably subject to error and sin. This is why I used the word "overreaction". Getting rid of an explicit institution isn't the right solution, because it simply replaces institutions which are at least out in the open with those that are obscure and not clearly recognized. But there have to be ways to keep the respresentatives of the institution in line.

I am frankly a bit annoyed that an ex-Anglican seems to be denying awareness of this, since every bit of this thought is right out in the open in Anglicanism. It seems to me almost as if you intend to commit the very fault which I am decrying, because you, personally, are not Orthodoxy and therefore cannot presume to don the mantle of inerrancy and the like which Orthodoxy might lay claim to.
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« Reply #19 on: September 08, 2003, 05:23:09 PM »

One can easily see how moral corruption in the visible Church can drive people to seek their own individual relationships with God. It's easy to see how such corruption could cause one to question whether or not the visible Church is really the Church at all. And if the Church isn't the Church, what can one do? Nothing but go straight to Jesus.

Thus the Christian faith becomes one of millions of individual relationships with Jesus and churches associations of like-minded individuals old enough and rational enough to enter into such a conscious relationship. Babies, young children, and the mentally deficient - so this line of reasoning asserts - cannot be Christians because they cannot sustain the "relationship" (here I obviously have in mind the Radical Reformation).

Moral corruption within the RCC fueled much of the Protestant Rebellion. There were other causes, to be sure, but the average man and woman were persuaded to revolt by the bad example and abuses of the representatives of the Roman Catholic Church.

Once the Church in the West was no longer the Church (in the minds of the rebels), the leaders of the Rebellion were free to "restore New Testament Christianity" in their own images, unfettered by Tradition. Each one did what was right in his own eyes.

The Protestants went down the wrong road, but it is easy to sympathize with the reasons why they set off in the first place.

We must show them Christ in our lives and prove to them that the gates of hell have not prevailed over the Church He founded. Only when they see Christ in the members of His Church will they be drawn to a real personal relationship with Jesus in the only way that is truly possible: in His Church.
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« Reply #20 on: September 09, 2003, 12:59:54 PM »

Keble:

I'm sorry, but though the aspects of this discussion are heuristically separable, to claim that this separation obtains in reality--especially in light of the testimonry of the Scriptures and the Church--is a clear non sequitor.  I'm sorry if this annoys you, but for one who has previously professed wanting to stay away from more rationalistic debates, it seems odd that you want to bring out such tactics when my comments raise some of your ire.

The actuality of individual members of the Church claiming the Church's infallibility has been a reality with which the Church has had to deal since the beginning heresies.  This is, indeed, problematic in terms of discernment, but it hardly is a defeator of the argument concerning the Church which I have given in much truncated form.  Indeed, that the Church is what I am claiming it to be is the standard by which we can discern who is and is not in error--though not always quite so easily or so quickly as one might read that statement.  In short, the infallibility belongs to the Church, not to individuals.  That individuals claim it means simply that we are all called to prayer and discernment.   This is the wheat and the tares about which our Lord spoke, and for which there is no other remedy than the Parousia.

I'm surprised that you're surprised at my comments.  Especially because I am and ex-Anglican.  Far from endorsing the error you mention, I uphold the truth which reveals the error to be, in fact, error.

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« Reply #21 on: September 09, 2003, 01:00:54 PM »

Hey, who changed my avatar?  Now I'm a lama?  (My wife would die from laughter!)
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« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2003, 07:38:34 PM »

Because the Church is the Body of Christ, it is holy, and therefore sinless.  It is apostolic and catholic, and therefore infallible.

Since the Church is sinless, are you saying that all Christians are sinless/don't sin?

~Matt
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« Reply #23 on: September 10, 2003, 06:04:45 AM »

Since the Church is sinless, are you saying that all Christians are sinless/don't sin?

~Matt

Clearly not.
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Clifton D. Healy
email: chealy5@yahoo.com
blog: http://benedictseraphim.wordpress.com

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
--Hamlet,
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« Reply #24 on: September 10, 2003, 08:56:24 AM »

Since the Church is sinless, are you saying that all Christians are sinless/don't sin?

~Matt

Clearly not.

That is an interesting question.  How can the whole (the Church)  have a property (sinlessness) that is the opposite of that of its parts (sinful Church members)?   Huh
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« Reply #25 on: September 10, 2003, 09:54:23 AM »

Quote
That is an interesting question.  How can the whole (the Church)  have a property (sinlessness) that is the opposite of that of its parts (sinful Church members)?

I would say (please take this only as my opinion), that it is because the Church is the Body of Christ (Who is sinless), and that this grace only fills those things which are of the Church, or which are being recreated towards this end - thus, you cannot find "the Church" in debauchery or corruption, or in the sins of individuals - in fact, by doing those things, they seperate parts of themselves (or even their whole person!) from the Holy Church.  This seperation can happen covertly, or openly.

This is a call to humility - since any good, any genuine grace that comes to rest in men, is of the Church - where as all that is wicked and impious, we alone can take full credit for.

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« Reply #26 on: September 10, 2003, 09:55:57 AM »

P.S. - this is why many religious bodies professing to be Christian are in fact totally severed from the Church, in total - for they have so assimilated falsehood, that their ecclesial rites and structures can no longer act as vessels of the Holy Spirit.

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« Reply #27 on: September 10, 2003, 11:02:35 AM »

Seraphim Reeves,

Thank you for your response.   So does one separate himself from the Church everytime he sins?  If so it would seem that most of us would be outside the Church at least as much time as we are in it!  :'(
Or is there some type of "venial"/"mortal" sin distinction involved?
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« Reply #28 on: September 10, 2003, 04:29:28 PM »

Clearly not.

I asked because it wasn't clear.

~Matt
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« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2003, 04:39:52 PM »

Seraphim Reeves,

Thank you for your response.   So does one separate himself from the Church everytime he sins?  If so it would seem that most of us would be outside the Church at least as much time as we are in it!  :'(
Or is there some type of "venial"/"mortal" sin distinction involved?  

If a Christian can separate themselves from the Church by sin, any sin would qualify.  The wages of all "sin is death" (Romans 6:23).  Why would some sin be exempt from this qualification and certain transgressions still allow someone to stay in the church?

~Matt
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« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2003, 05:55:10 PM »

Keble:

I'm sorry, but though the aspects of this discussion are heuristically separable, to claim that this separation obtains in reality--especially in light of the testimonry of the Scriptures and the Church--is a clear non sequitor.  I'm sorry if this annoys you, but for one who has previously professed wanting to stay away from more rationalistic debates, it seems odd that you want to bring out such tactics when my comments raise some of your ire.

I might respond to this if I really understood what you were saying, but in any case......

Quote
The actuality of individual members of the Church claiming the Church's infallibility has been a reality with which the Church has had to deal since the beginning heresies.  This is, indeed, problematic in terms of discernment, but it hardly is a defeator of the argument concerning the Church which I have given in much truncated form.

Well it certainly makes it moot if the infallibility of the church is not something one can find in practice.

The passages in scripture that are most commonly cited (e.g. the "Gates of Hell shall not prevail") are metaphorical; hence there is no possibility of avoiding a process of interpretation. And interpretation is, in the end, expressed through individuals, acting within the institutional church.

Yet that institution is not a sufficient authority to make this interpretation about itself; to do so is to rely upon the interpretation to justify itself. And in practice, something entirely different happens often enough.

Consider John Smith, Episcopalian. He (understandably) becomes upset with developments in his church, and eventually lights upon the Antiochians. So now he is a member of an institutional church which is part of a larger institution which claims to be this infallible Church. But then the day comes when he decides that something is wrong with the Antiochians, and he goes over to ROCOR. Again, the same situation obtains: infallible institution, infallible Church. But then he takes issue with them, and moves on to ROAC. Again, his church is infallible because his church is The Church.

So which of these institutions is actually infallible? Well, for John Smith, it's the one he's a member of at the time. So in effect, he is investing infallibility in himself. The institutional churches gain infallibility, in his eyes, by agreeing with him. That's not the way he puts it, of course, but that is in practice what is really happening.

Institutional infallibility isn't manifest; if it were, consensus would converge on that institution and other groups would largely fall away, because reason would affirm that infallibility. Instead, what I see is that see that institutions (and their members) take up infallibility in acts of self-service, because they fail to persuade by other means.

Quote
Indeed, that the Church is what I am claiming it to be is the standard by which we can discern who is and is not in error--though not always quite so easily or so quickly as one might read that statement.  In short, the infallibility belongs to the Church, not to individuals.

But the implication of this is that the institutional church, expressed as it is through the polity of its members, is in effect one of these individuals. And therefore it is subject to the same reservation. The Church may be infallible, but still its manifestation in institutions may not exhibit this infallibility in toto. And how can you tell whether it does? This is an article of faith at best; at worst, it is simply bestowing infallibility on one's church on one's own authority.
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« Reply #31 on: September 11, 2003, 11:00:31 AM »

Well it certainly makes it moot if the infallibility of the church is not something one can find in practice.

The passages in scripture that are most commonly cited (e.g. the "Gates of Hell shall not prevail") are metaphorical; hence there is no possibility of avoiding a process of interpretation. And interpretation is, in the end, expressed through individuals, acting within the institutional church.

Yet that institution is not a sufficient authority to make this interpretation about itself; to do so is to rely upon the interpretation to justify itself. And in practice, something entirely different happens often enough.

But this is precisely the claim of the historic Church.  You may not agree with it, but that does not eliminate the fact that the Church has the perogative to determine appropriate interpretations.

She has the authority, not because she granted it to herself, but because she is the Body of Christ in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and to whom is given all authority on heaven and earth.



Consider John Smith, Episcopalian. He (understandably) becomes upset with developments in his church, and eventually lights upon the Antiochians. So now he is a member of an institutional church which is part of a larger institution which claims to be this infallible Church. But then the day comes when he decides that something is wrong with the Antiochians, and he goes over to ROCOR. Again, the same situation obtains: infallible institution, infallible Church. But then he takes issue with them, and moves on to ROAC. Again, his church is infallible because his church is The Church.

So which of these institutions is actually infallible? Well, for John Smith, it's the one he's a member of at the time. So in effect, he is investing infallibility in himself. The institutional churches gain infallibility, in his eyes, by agreeing with him. That's not the way he puts it, of course, but that is in practice what is really happening.

Institutional infallibility isn't manifest; if it were, consensus would converge on that institution and other groups would largely fall away, because reason would affirm that infallibility. Instead, what I see is that see that institutions (and their members) take up infallibility in acts of self-service, because they fail to persuade by other means.

But surely you would admit that the situation with regard to canonical Orthodoxy in the U. S. is hardly so simple!  Indeed, the problem here in your illustration is not with the churches per se (though that is a problem) but with the vagrant John Smith, who, on the basis of his own predilections moves from church group to church group.


But the implication of this is that the institutional church, expressed as it is through the polity of its members, is in effect one of these individuals. And therefore it is subject to the same reservation. The Church may be infallible, but still its manifestation in institutions may not exhibit this infallibility in toto. And how can you tell whether it does? This is an article of faith at best; at worst, it is simply bestowing infallibility on one's church on one's own authority.

You have it backwards.  It's not the members from whom the Church gains its being, but from Christ.

It is, indeed, an article of faith, but not necessarily a faith without rationality or discernment.  And again, infallibility is not bestowed on the Church because the members--or, heaven forbid, this joker writing this post--claim it, but because it is the Body of Christ.
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Clifton D. Healy
email: chealy5@yahoo.com
blog: http://benedictseraphim.wordpress.com

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy."
--Hamlet,
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« Reply #32 on: September 11, 2003, 04:49:50 PM »

Well it certainly makes it moot if the infallibility of the church is not something one can find in practice.

The passages in scripture that are most commonly cited (e.g. the "Gates of Hell shall not prevail") are metaphorical; hence there is no possibility of avoiding a process of interpretation. And interpretation is, in the end, expressed through individuals, acting within the institutional church.

Yet that institution is not a sufficient authority to make this interpretation about itself; to do so is to rely upon the interpretation to justify itself. And in practice, something entirely different happens often enough.

But this is precisely the claim of the historic Church.  You may not agree with it, but that does not eliminate the fact that the Church has the perogative to determine appropriate interpretations.

You are begging the question. It is precisely the historical claim of certain institutional churches. But it obviously fails if these institutions do not fully embody The Church. And when one encounters two institutional churches which each claim to be The Church, rejecting each other's claims, then nobody can agree with this claim; they are forced to reject some institution's claim.

So how do they choose?

That is why I would say it is not entirely true that these institutions do not grant themselves this authority. There is a sense in which they do grant it to themselves, by claiming to represent The Church in this manner.

Quote
Consider John Smith, Episcopalian. He (understandably) becomes upset with developments in his church, and eventually lights upon the Antiochians. So now he is a member of an institutional church which is part of a larger institution which claims to be this infallible Church. But then the day comes when he decides that something is wrong with the Antiochians, and he goes over to ROCOR. Again, the same situation obtains: infallible institution, infallible Church. But then he takes issue with them, and moves on to ROAC. Again, his church is infallible because his church is The Church.

So which of these institutions is actually infallible? Well, for John Smith, it's the one he's a member of at the time. So in effect, he is investing infallibility in himself. The institutional churches gain infallibility, in his eyes, by agreeing with him. That's not the way he puts it, of course, but that is in practice what is really happening.

Institutional infallibility isn't manifest; if it were, consensus would converge on that institution and other groups would largely fall away, because reason would affirm that infallibility. Instead, what I see is that see that institutions (and their members) take up infallibility in acts of self-service, because they fail to persuade by other means.

But surely you would admit that the situation with regard to canonical Orthodoxy in the U. S. is hardly so simple!  Indeed, the problem here in your illustration is not with the churches per se (though that is a problem) but with the vagrant John Smith, who, on the basis of his own predilections moves from church group to church group.

But you are that man, even if you haven't travelled so far.

See, when I became an Episcopalian, I did not do so in rejection of the Presbyterians to which I previously belonged. Indeed, I went to high school as a Christian, and left a Christian, but revitalized and in a different place. I came to understand that there were deficiencies in the way that Presbyterians addressed various issues, but that was a consequence, not a starting point.

But it seems to me that you do start from a rejection of the Anglicans; in fact, from what you say you passed through the Anglicans on the way from another group. And so it does seem to me that you have in practice vested "canonical Orthodoxy" with infallibility, because you assent to that infallibility. But you could have done the same for the Catholics, or for some Old Calendarist group. Or the LMCS, for that matter.

Quote
You have it backwards.  It's not the members from whom the Church gains its being, but from Christ.

If the earthly church had no members, then how could it exist on earth? That is precisely the language St. Paul uses, after all. The Church exists in its members; that is what St. Paul teaches. And on earth, the institutions which manifest the church exist by having members. These members are not created by being created out of these institutions; they are instead joined to The Church through these institutions (and maybe elsewise, but that's not important here). That, again, is what St. Paul teaches. In your eagerness to refute me you have lapsed into statements which tend to imply something like double predestination, for if The Church brings its members into existence, it would appear that the only route to do so would be for it to control their decisions to be baptized, etc.

This discussion is still suffering under your tendency to make great claims for The Church without addressing the distinction between The Church and earthly institutions. It is Orthodox to make this distinction; The Church may indeed subsume earthly churches, but it is not identical to them.
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