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Author Topic: Some questions from an inquirer of Orthodoxy  (Read 2979 times) Average Rating: 0
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Shlomlokh
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« on: October 28, 2008, 05:23:27 PM »

            Glory to Jesus Christ my Orthodox brothers and sisters!

            I have been studying deeply into Orthodoxy for the past couple of months. At my home parish in VA (Maronite) my pastor is very Eastern, yet cannot be truly Eastern in the truest sense of the term because he is bound by Latin doctrines (Immaculate Conception and Papal Infallibility), which are bound on all the faithful regardless of their Ritual Tradition (Byzantine, Coptic, Antiochian, etc.). Witnessing this made me pause and re-evaluate what is going on in the Catholic Church.

            I know that Eastern Catholics have been treated pretty harshly throughout the centuries, Latinized and forced to take on Latin doctrines that are completely absent from their Traditions (both small t and big T). This force of conformity makes me wonder if there is a real unity of faith in the Catholic Church. My pastor for his M.A. in Theology talked about how the Syriac Tradition does not believe in the Immaculate Conception. (In fact, he did it in front of the Oblates of Mary of the Immaculate Conception! laugh They were so impressed that they wrote his bishop saying that he should send him to Rome to complete a doctorate ) He received the degree, but it troubles me that Eastern Catholics cannot express their traditional beliefs because of this "binding" on all Catholics.

            Anyway, I am done with the rant for the most part. On to the questions:

          • Why are the Orthodox set up in Nationalistic Churches? What happened to the ancient original model of only 4 Patriarchates in the Communion?
          • How can the Orthodox claim to have unbroken succession in regards to the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria? The original holders to them are the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches, respectively.
          • How far away is reunion between the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox?
          • Why do the Orthodox allow for overlapping jurisdictions? I had thought that the original model was only one Bishop for a certain area.
          • What is the definitive role for the Patriarch of Constantinople? Is he a "primus inter pares" figure or does he do more than that?
          • Why are some jurisdictions allowed to not recognize another? For example, Estonia is in communion with Constantinople and Russia is in Communion with Constantinople, but Russia and Estonia are not in communion.
          This is all I have for right now. Please understand, these are legitimate questions. I am not trying to belittle or set up "straw men" at all. I do not even want to argue. I am being completely sincere in asking these questions as I am prayerfully studying Orthodoxy in hopes that I can understand it better and perhaps help out with reunion at the "grassroots" level. I am feeling a nudge towards Orthodoxy, but want to pray and study the faith more.

          I am 19 and a University student at Ave Maria University. While I am not a canonical Maronite, I completely allign myself with Syriac spirituality. I converted to the Latin Church about 2 years ago, never even really considering Orthodoxy. Please pray for me that I may follow God's will wherever He wants me!

          For those of you on Catholic Answers, I posted almost this exact same post.

          Alloho minokhoun,
          Andrew
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          « Reply #1 on: October 28, 2008, 05:30:10 PM »

          Welcome to the forum!

          Most (if not all) of your issues have already been discussed.  The forum has an excellent search feature.
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          « Reply #2 on: October 28, 2008, 05:42:37 PM »

          First: Welcome, Andrew!  You sure picked a loaded set of questions.  As SolEX01 has pointed out, you can get a bit of information from our previous discussions here by utilizing the Search function.  However, I'll try and provide some answers as best as I can.  I'm a bit time limited, but here are my first thoughts:

          • Why are the Orthodox set up in Nationalistic Churches? What happened to the ancient original model of only 4 Patriarchates in the Communion?

          The movement towards "Nationalistic Churches" isn't neccessarily 100% innovation, considering that Cyprus was "independent" (or whatever we want to say - autocephalous is the prevailing term, although it seems to be a bit loaded) since the beginning, and since the kingdoms (predecessors of "nations") of Serbia and Bulgaria had enjoyed some sort of independence before the final sacking of Constantinople.  There were 4 Ancient Patriarchates (and then 5) in one empire, so we didn't have an opportunity for "National Churches."  The situation of "National Churches" arose when (a) Nations were formed, and (b) when the 4 Orthodox Patriarchs (who were at one point all under Moslem Rule) had diocese that were in "free" (non-Moslem) territory.

          However, the current system is only partially "nationalistic."  While some of the Churches are restricted to their own national border (Greece, Cyprus, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania), others are not (The 4 Ancient Patriarchates and Russia), and most have "diaspora" parishes and diocese in Asia and the "New World" (N & S America).

          • How can the Orthodox claim to have unbroken succession in regards to the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria? The original holders to them are the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches, respectively.

          Well, I suppose it is a matter of perspective; we believe that the "original holders" of the succession are still in the Orthodox Church, and those of the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches are bishops who came from schism.

          • How far away is reunion between the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox?

          I don't know - it depends on whom you ask.  My Metropolitan (MAXIMOS of Pittsburgh) thinks it could be very close (in fact, iirc, he thinks it is a shame it hasn't happened yet, as he feels we are very capable of healing that rift); others see it as a distant, but possible, reality.

          • Why do the Orthodox allow for overlapping jurisdictions? I had thought that the original model was only one Bishop for a certain area.

          Well, it's really just a concession at the moment - no one really likes it.  One bishop per area is pretty much the prevailing model, although the idea of ethnic parishes isn't actually a new thing (Fr. John Behr points out that in the 2nd century there were ethnic parishes in Rome, iirc).

          • What is the definitive role for the Patriarch of Constantinople? Is he a "primus inter pares" figure or does he do more than that?

          First Among Equals is about it. There is a few additional roles granted the Synod of Constantinople (seat of final appeal, etc.).

          • Why are some jurisdictions allowed to not recognize another? For example, Estonia is in communion with Constantinople and Russia is in Communion with Constantinople, but Russia and Estonia are not in communion.

          Actually, Estonia is in Communion with Constantinople, Constantinople with Russia, Russia with Estonia - but Estonia not with Estonia (there are two hierarchical structures there right now, one in communion with the EP, one with the MP).

          Why?  Because the Church, while being One Body of Christ, still maintains its local ("incarnational") character - local churches bound together by faith and Communion.  So it is, and always has been, up to the local Churches to maintain, define, and promote Communion, Doctrine, Synodality, etc.
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          « Reply #3 on: October 28, 2008, 06:01:21 PM »

          Welcome to the forum!

          Most (if not all) of your issues have already been discussed.  The forum has an excellent search feature.

          Thank you.

          I have searched, but have yet to come with anything relevent to what I asked. Perhaps I did not search correctly. The last thing I want to do is keep re-hashing old topics, as I'm sure that sort of thing happens a lot. Could you point me in right the direction with a link to another thread or an online article or even a book? I would greatly appreciate it!

          Alloho minokhoun,
          Andrew
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          « Reply #4 on: October 28, 2008, 06:05:45 PM »

          ^ Are you searching from the main OC.net homepage?
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          « Reply #5 on: October 28, 2008, 06:18:10 PM »

          Welcome Shlomlokh!
          I would pretty much agree with cleveland's responses to your questions.
          There are two good ways to search the forum. The first is to use the "search" feature in the top menu.
          The other is to click on the tabs at the bottom of a thread which link it to other threads with similar themes.
          I'll add some tabs to this thread to show you how they work.
          Again, welcome!
          George
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          « Reply #6 on: October 29, 2008, 06:47:59 AM »

          Welcome to the forum! These are issues many of us have faced, so I hope you find our discussions useful. I echo the others' ideas; by clicking on the tags below, you should be able to find much information to help you.
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          « Reply #7 on: October 29, 2008, 08:40:39 AM »

          Quote
          Well, it's really just a concession at the moment - no one really likes it.  One bishop per area is pretty much the prevailing model, although the idea of ethnic parishes isn't actually a new thing (Fr. John Behr points out that in the 2nd century there were ethnic parishes in Rome, iirc).

          I just wanted to make a comment on Cleveland's quote above.  John Zizioulas has made a case in his new book "Eucharist, Bishop, Church" that there were no such thing as ETHNIC PARISHES in the 2nd century, as others have claimed.  In fact, he states that the idea of parish, or parishes themselves, did not develop until the mid to late 4th c.

          If I get time in the afternoon i'll find a direct quote for you. 
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          « Reply #8 on: October 29, 2008, 08:54:17 AM »

          Welcome to the Convert Issue Forum Shlomlokh ! I hope that the members of the forum will continue to assist you in your search for orthodoxy.

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          « Reply #9 on: October 29, 2008, 11:13:34 AM »

          I just wanted to make a comment on Cleveland's quote above.  John Zizioulas has made a case in his new book "Eucharist, Bishop, Church" that there were no such thing as ETHNIC PARISHES in the 2nd century, as others have claimed.  In fact, he states that the idea of parish, or parishes themselves, did not develop until the mid to late 4th c. 

          Hmmm.  I don't mean "parish" like we mean parish today, just as Fr. Behr doesn't mean it.  But there were ethnic churches that catered to ethnic communities (spoke in their language).  As for Metropolitan JOHN, I don't agree with everything he has to say, nor have I drunk the Kool-Aid on him like our Dogmatics professor has.
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          « Reply #10 on: October 29, 2008, 07:56:40 PM »

          I'm gonna throw my 2 cents in here...

          Quote
          Why are the Orthodox set up in Nationalistic Churches? What happened to the ancient original model of only 4 Patriarchates in the Communion?

          Well, there has always been Churches recognized according to geography, and I think that is just continuing in a different manner. As one book put it:

          "From the beginning of Christianity, as we see even in the epistles of the Holy Apostles, administrative divisions of the Church conformed to those of the State. The most extensive regions bore the name of entire countries, e.g. the Church of Asia (1 Cor. 16:19), those which were slightly smaller, the name of regions, e.g. the Macedonian Church (2 Cor. 8:1), and those which were smaller again were called by the name of the metropolises of the main cities of the eparchies, such as the Churches of Thessaloniki (1 Thes. 1:1), Ephesus (Rev. 2:1) and so on." - Met. Panteleimon, An Overview of Orthodox Canon Law, (Orthodox Research Institute, 2007), p. 146

          The Patriarchates still exist, it's just that Christians outside their jurisdiction are now administratively divided in a different manner. Even in older times we sometimes saw nations wanting their own ecclesiastical independence, though, for instance in Bulgaria or Russia, so this is not just a phenomenon that exists in the last couple hundred years.

          Quote
          How can the Orthodox claim to have unbroken succession in regards to the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria? The original holders to them are the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches, respectively.

          I would just echo what Cleveland wrote here, it's a matter of what perspective you are approaching things from. It's like asking who broke with who in the Great schism--it all depends on who you ask.

          Quote
          How far away is reunion between the Oriental Orthodox and Byzantine Orthodox?

          Things seem to be progressing, though only God knows for sure. There is currently intercommunion at the local level, which I guess signals something... though I'm not sure what exactly (well, I know what it signals to certain traditionalists).

          Quote
          Why do the Orthodox allow for overlapping jurisdictions? I had thought that the original model was only one Bishop for a certain area.

          Ideally that's the model to be followed. Unfortunately with the immigrant situation, and ecclesiastical politics, etc. things got messed up in the new world. It's an aberration that will eventually be remedied, though everything goes slowly in Orthodoxy.

          Quote
          What is the definitive role for the Patriarch of Constantinople? Is he a "primus inter pares" figure or does he do more than that?

          Basically that's it, first among equals. Whether he is the "spiritual father of the world's Orthodox" depends on who you ask. The only other thing that I can think of is that there was one canon at an Ecumenical Synod which permitted Churches in the east to appeal to Constantinople if things could not be solved at the local/regional level.

          Quote
          Why are some jurisdictions allowed to not recognize another? For example, Estonia is in communion with Constantinople and Russia is in Communion with Constantinople, but Russia and Estonia are not in communion.

          Temporary breaks in communion take place for different reasons depending on the situation. ROCOR, for example, distanced itself from many groups for years because of worries about ecumenism and modernism. In spite of such temporary breaks, the unity of the Church as a whole still prevails overall.
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          « Reply #11 on: November 02, 2008, 01:19:04 AM »

          • How can the Orthodox claim to have unbroken succession in regards to the Patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria? The original holders to them are the Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Churches, respectively.

          Posts further exploring this topic have been split off and moved to the Oriental Orthodox section:

          http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,18152.0.html
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          « Reply #12 on: November 03, 2008, 01:34:28 AM »

          Quote
          Why are the Orthodox set up in Nationalistic Churches? What happened to the ancient original model of only 4 Patriarchates in the Communion?

          I came across something else tonight while I was reading that is connected with the above question...

          Quote
          "For practical considerations, ecclesiastical districts were established from the very beginning of the Christian era in conformity with the political division of the state. Since, in the Roman Empire, the Christian Church became a state church, this practice was confirmed later by Canon 17 of the Council of Chalcedon (451), which stated: 'Let the order of the ecclesiastical parishes follow the political and municipal pattern.' The same regulation was renewed by Canon 38 of the Trullan Council (691), which reads: '...let the order of things ecclesiastical follow the civil and public models.' Since the political division of the Roman Empire was based on the territorial principle, the same territorial principle was applied to the determination of the borders of ecclesiastical districts.

          In the course of its development, the Roman Empire included in its boundaries some formerly independent states with populations consisting of different nationalities. Consequently, its political land administrative division reflected, to a certain extent, the national characteristics of the countries absorbed. National peculiarities of the different regions were much more preserved in the lower administrative districts than in the higher ones, but the territorial principle was paramount. Following the civil and public models, the administrive division of the Church also reflected, to some extent, the national composition of the Roman Empire, though here too the territorial principle predominated.

          Apostolic Canon 34 mentions the national principle in the lower church districts; according to this canon, The bishops of every nation (ethnos), must acknowledge him who is first among them. The language of this canon has been cited to support the contention that the nation should be the basis of Church organization. However, the Council of Antioch (341) gave the most authoritative interpretation to the word 'nation' (ethnos); its Canon 9 explains 'nation' (ethnos), not as meaning a people bound together by ties of blood, language, and customs, but as meaning a 'province'--the administrative subdivision of the civil diocese of the Roman Empire. This Canon 9 of Antioch, which in effect reproduces the 34th Apostolic Canon, reads: 'It behoves the bishops in every province [in Greek-eparchia] to acknowledge the bishop who presides in the metropolis...' Thus in the middle of the fourth century the territorial principle was recognized as paramount for the establishment and government of ecclesiastical districts, regardless of whether or not they conformed to the national principle. The national principle was significant only so far as it coincided with the territorial principle, but it did not override it.

          Later in the history of Orthodox Canon Law, this correlation of the territorial and the national principle was interpreted to mean that a new autocephalous Church could only be established for a nation lying within the borders of a state independent of that of the Mother Church. From the tenth century, this point of view was accepted by the new Balkan nations: Bulgaria, Serbia, and Romania, which had all received Christianity from Constantinople. The Church in these states had the same character as that of Byzantium, that is, a state-church. After these nations had acquired their indepedence, efforts to withdraw their Churches from subordination to Constantinople and to establish them as independent church administrations. Many years later, the Russian Church did the same." - Alexander Bogolepov, Toward an American Orthodox Church: The Establishment of an Autocephalous Orthodox Church, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001), pp. 11-13

          « Last Edit: November 03, 2008, 01:38:07 AM by Asteriktos » Logged

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          « Reply #13 on: November 04, 2008, 07:59:29 AM »

          I just wanted to make a comment on Cleveland's quote above.  John Zizioulas has made a case in his new book "Eucharist, Bishop, Church" that there were no such thing as ETHNIC PARISHES in the 2nd century, as others have claimed.  In fact, he states that the idea of parish, or parishes themselves, did not develop until the mid to late 4th c. 

          Hmmm.  I don't mean "parish" like we mean parish today, just as Fr. Behr doesn't mean it.  But there were ethnic churches that catered to ethnic communities (spoke in their language).  As for Metropolitan JOHN, I don't agree with everything he has to say, nor have I drunk the Kool-Aid on him like our Dogmatics professor has.

          I let someone borrow my book, so until I get it back all I can say is that Met. JOHN's basic point is that in each city there was only ONE church, with ONE eucharist and ONE bishop.  So, firstly the idea that there were other communities within the city is historically not true (according to him), so even though there may have been ethnic enclaves/ghetto's within Rome or etc. they were not their own seperate parish, so therefore the whole concept is moot. 

          In fact, he even goes further to say that the people who claim that there WERE ethnic churches, have a very weak position and he goes to quote them and reference them extensively and then shoot them down.  I really wish I hadn't lended my book out, so I could quote him directly, but these are his basic premises. 
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          « Reply #14 on: November 04, 2008, 08:24:40 AM »

          I let someone borrow my book, so until I get it back all I can say is that Met. JOHN's basic point is that in each city there was only ONE church, with ONE eucharist and ONE bishop.  So, firstly the idea that there were other communities within the city is historically not true (according to him), so even though there may have been ethnic enclaves/ghetto's within Rome or etc. they were not their own seperate parish, so therefore the whole concept is moot. 

          In fact, he even goes further to say that the people who claim that there WERE ethnic churches, have a very weak position and he goes to quote them and reference them extensively and then shoot them down.  I really wish I hadn't lended my book out, so I could quote him directly, but these are his basic premises.  

          Well, we'll see once you get your book back.  I don't think Fr. John's book was out before Metropolitan John's was, but who knows.
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