Author Topic: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not  (Read 4302 times)

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Offline Justin Kissel

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We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« on: October 30, 2008, 04:37:31 AM »
I was reading The Non-Orthodox by Patrick Barnes the other day, and got to thinking more about this topic. I believe it was Met. Kallistos who coined the phrase: "We know where the Church is but we cannot be sure where it is not." (The Orthodox Church, p. 308) But how far back does this teaching go, and what Church writers supported this notion? I know there is Khomiakov:

Quote
"The Church visible, or upon earth, lives in complete communion and unity with the whole body of the Church, of which Christ is the Head. She has abiding within her Christ and the grace of the Holy Spirit in all their living fullness, but not in the fullness of their manifestation, for she acts and knows not fully, but only so far as it pleases God. Inasmuch as the earthly and visible Church is not the fullness and completeness of the whole Church which the Lord has appointed to appear at the final judgment of all creation, she acts and knows only within her own limits; and (according to the words of Paul the Apostle, to the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 5. 12) does not judge the rest of mankind, and only looks upon those as excluded, that is to say, not belonging to her, who exclude themselves. The rest of mankind, whether alien from the Church, or united to her by ties which God has not willed to reveal to her, she leaves to the judgment of the great day." - Alexei Khomiakov, The Church is One, p. 11

Who else uses similar language? Which other church writers support the idea that the Church extends invisibly to people outside the visible walls?

Something else that I'm curious about, this one for the people who take the more rigorist approach. If you affirm that there is no salvation outside the Church, and you also say that the Church walls do not extend invisibly to people outside the Church, then how can people who are not Orthodox be saved?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 04:40:01 AM by Asteriktos »
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Offline recent convert

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2008, 08:00:39 AM »
I think there is more contentment in mystery rejecting both universalism and reassurance in relation to the last judgement in Matthew 25:31-46. Since most people are non Orthodox Christians having hope for as many as possible is how I see the challenge of trying to be an Orthodox Christian in relation to such intellectually simple commands of Christ to love God & neighbor as self, the 10 commandments, the Beatitudes etc. which are most sublime ( & humbling). Just my 2 cents.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 08:03:34 AM by recent convert »
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Offline Anastasios

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2008, 09:35:22 AM »
No Father that I know of taught that "we can't where the Church is not."  The Fathers very often defined the boundaries of the Church.

However, we know that the Holy Spirit is everywhere, and in that sense grace is everywhere; some coin this "charismatic grace" although some people do not like the distinction between "charismatic" and "sacramental" grace (although I think it is a natural distinction; nothing could be alive without grace, but we know that for instance the mysteries of heretics are not grace-bearing, so there must be a distinction).

No salvation outside the Church is a normative statement, but Christ can save whom he wills. We know that Christ is just, and it would not be just if say, you were condemned to hell just because you lived in N America before 1492 (or actually whenever the first Orthodox came here!)

While it is highly unlikely that those who are not baptized can be saved, at the same time, given that charismatic grace is everywhere, and given that Christ can save whom he wills, perhaps the people who truly follow him although in ignorance who have not had a chance to encounter the visible Church are given a chance to accept it through the truth written on their conscience. This would of course be an exception, an economy, which does not do away with the standard. If through charismatic grace someone is somehow grafted in to Christ, it is still not sacramental grace, and they still cannot attain deification in this life.
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Offline JosephM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2008, 10:10:06 AM »
It depends on your definition of Church and the walls that contain it.

Jhn 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Strange language for a Church with walls.........

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2008, 10:42:26 AM »
It depends on your definition of Church and the walls that contain it.

Jhn 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Strange language for a Church with walls.........

Grace and Peace, Joseph

Quote seems to make a distinction between nominal Christians and those "born from above".
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Offline JosephM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2008, 11:15:31 AM »
It depends on your definition of Church and the walls that contain it.

Jhn 4:21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 "You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 "God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth."

Strange language for a Church with walls.........

Grace and Peace, Joseph

Quote seems to make a distinction between nominal Christians and those "born from above".

Yes, it does. I think the passage has more to do with the diaspora (the hot topic of the day) and the ability of God's people to worship wherever they are, instead of within a particular temple or jurisdiction. Jesus seems to be talking about a Church without walls, that ,never the less, must worship "the Father in spirit and truth". There is much to be said about orthodox worship (the Eucharist, etc.) that transcends self-imposed jurisdictional and ecclesiastical boundaries. In other words, the Eucharist (to continue the example) binds Christians together above and beyond any positional bond. To my knowledge, I have never been in the same building as you, but I have worshipped with you many times. The Spirit is the ultimate example of this unity. Just as the Gentiles received the Spirit prior to their Baptism, we must, like Peter, acknowledge the validity of other faithful believers who worship in Spirit and Truth, even if they did not come from among us or share our heritage and experiences. That's my take anyway.

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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2008, 03:50:53 PM »
Quote
No salvation outside the Church is a normative statement, but Christ can save whom he wills.

This seems like a paradox (in the positive sense). A place for mystery, as recent convert said.
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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2008, 04:12:03 PM »
Quote
No salvation outside the Church is a normative statement, but Christ can save whom he wills.

This seems like a paradox (in the positive sense). A place for mystery, as recent convert said.

I am not so sure it is--it is against the law to kill someone, but you don't go to jail if it is in self-defense. It's still killing though. One is a normative statement, and the other is the exception.
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2008, 04:13:22 PM »
Ahh, I see, good point. :)
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2008, 05:15:58 PM »
This seems like a paradox (in the positive sense). A place for mystery, as recent convert said.

Even before the Gentiles came into the Church, Christ referred to them as "His sheep":
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16).
So if the Gentiles were "His sheep" before the Church had even conceived of receiving them, couldn't some of "His sheep" still be outside of the visible Church, but still "His sheep"?
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2008, 05:26:39 PM »
Quote
Even before the Gentiles came into the Church, Christ referred to them as "His sheep":
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16).
So if the Gentiles were "His sheep" before the Church had even conceived of receiving them, couldn't some of "His sheep" still be outside of the visible Church, but still "His sheep"?

Sure, I wouldn't deny that some of His sheep are still outside the visible walls of the Church. However, I think this can be phrased/thought of in more ways than one, and doesn't necessarily endorse the "we don't know where the Church is not" idea.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 05:29:11 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2008, 05:41:42 PM »
Sure, I wouldn't deny that some of His sheep are still outside the visible walls of the Church. However, I think this can be phrased/thought of in more ways than one, and doesn't necessarily endorse the "we don't know where the Church is not" idea.

I guess what we should establish first is:
what do we understand the phrase "we don't know where the Church is not" to mean?
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Offline LBK

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2008, 06:04:04 PM »
Even before the Gentiles came into the Church, Christ referred to them as "His sheep":
"And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16).
So if the Gentiles were "His sheep" before the Church had even conceived of receiving them, couldn't some of "His sheep" still be outside of the visible Church, but still "His sheep"?

This passage refers to the Gentiles "who are not of this fold", i.e. of the Hebrew people of Israel. "One fold, one shepherd" means all believers, in a UNITY of faith, not a spectrum of faiths. Of course, it is God's prerogative, and His alone, to judge whether those outside of Orthodoxy will be saved. But for those of us in this world, our responsibility is to live the true faith, and proclaim the true faith, which is Orthodoxy, as best we can, according to the testimony of Christ, the Apostles, and the Fathers of the Church.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 06:06:44 PM by LBK »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2008, 06:18:15 PM »
This passage refers to the Gentiles "who are not of this fold", i.e. of the Hebrew people of Israel.
If that's true, then Christ is saying we have to be Hebrew.


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Offline Myrrh23

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2008, 06:45:04 PM »

While it is highly unlikely that those who are not baptized can be saved, at the same time, given that charismatic grace is everywhere, and given that Christ can save whom he wills, perhaps the people who truly follow him although in ignorance who have not had a chance to encounter the visible Church are given a chance to accept it through the truth written on their conscience.

Especially in these last days, when many people have fallen away from the Church to seek their own wisdom and "Truth" or are apathetic on their journey towards God (I count myself somewhat in the latter group :-[). These same individuals who don't take too much stock in the Church often take their children with them (you know, the whole "I'm not going to raise my kids in any religion, but will let them choose" BS). I could not believe that Christ would condemn the children for the Parents' mistake of either not introducing Truth to them or presenting it in such a way that it scares them from further exploring the Truth. :)
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Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #15 on: October 30, 2008, 07:09:56 PM »
Ozgeorge,

Quote
I guess what we should establish first is:
what do we understand the phrase "we don't know where the Church is not" to mean?

In my understanding, it could have a range of meanings, depending on who you are talking to. To one person it might mean that we cannot exclude any groups/individuals outside of Orthodoxy, because we just don't know for sure; while to another person it might mean that we can exclude certain groups/individuals, but cannot exclude all groups/individuals from the Church.

Then there is the alternative theory that we should exclude all groups (though not necessarily all individuals) which are outside of Orthodoxy--taking literally the phrase "there is no salvation outside the Church". In that case, we can definitely say where the Church is not. The Church is not with the Jehovah Witnesses, it is not with the Mormons, and so forth. In essence, it is not with any group who are not part of the Orthodox communion.

To me the important part is that the Church keep her ability to protect her flock from those who would lead us astray. As I said in the other thread, excluding from the Church seems to me to be partly what the Councils were doing when they anathematized individuals and condemned teachings. They were giving a warning to stay away from certain people, and to avoid groups who hold to certain doctrines. If this is so, while the Church does not judge those who are outside her walls (1 Cor. 5:12-13), she still decides where her walls are.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2008, 07:13:06 PM by Asteriktos »
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #16 on: October 30, 2008, 08:23:34 PM »
Ozgeorge,

Quote
I guess what we should establish first is:
what do we understand the phrase "we don't know where the Church is not" to mean?

In my understanding, it could have a range of meanings, depending on who you are talking to. To one person it might mean that we cannot exclude any groups/individuals outside of Orthodoxy, because we just don't know for sure; while to another person it might mean that we can exclude certain groups/individuals, but cannot exclude all groups/individuals from the Church.

Then there is the alternative theory that we should exclude all groups (though not necessarily all individuals) which are outside of Orthodoxy--taking literally the phrase "there is no salvation outside the Church". In that case, we can definitely say where the Church is not. The Church is not with the Jehovah Witnesses, it is not with the Mormons, and so forth. In essence, it is not with any group who are not part of the Orthodox communion.

To me the important part is that the Church keep her ability to protect her flock from those who would lead us astray. As I said in the other thread, excluding from the Church seems to me to be partly what the Councils were doing when they anathematized individuals and condemned teachings. They were giving a warning to stay away from certain people, and to avoid groups who hold to certain doctrines. If this is so, while the Church does not judge those who are outside her walls (1 Cor. 5:12-13), she still decides where her walls are.

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Offline LBK

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2008, 12:21:40 AM »
This passage refers to the Gentiles "who are not of this fold", i.e. of the Hebrew people of Israel.
If that's true, then Christ is saying we have to be Hebrew.

Nonsense. He is saying that all who follow Him, in spirit and in truth, be they Jew or Gentile, can attain the kingdom of heaven. Really, ozgeorge, it's obvious you don't like me, but it's really quite unnecessary for you to distort scripture just to try to get up my nose.  :P
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Offline ozgeorge

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #18 on: October 31, 2008, 12:36:57 AM »
This passage refers to the Gentiles "who are not of this fold", i.e. of the Hebrew people of Israel.
If that's true, then Christ is saying we have to be Hebrew.

Nonsense. He is saying that all who follow Him, in spirit and in truth, be they Jew or Gentile, can attain the kingdom of heaven.

I guess I was confused by this:
This passage refers to the Gentiles "who are not of this fold", i.e. of the Hebrew people of Israel.
I still don't think "his fold" is "the Hebrew people of Israel".
Not all (in fact the minority) of the Hebrew people of Israel accepted Him as their Shepherd.
I think the "fold" is the Church (which at that stage had only Jewish members).

Really, ozgeorge, it's obvious you don't like me, but it's really quite unnecessary for you to distort scripture just to try to get up my nose.  :P
I really wish people would get over the idea that disagreeing with someone means you don't like them.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 12:42:25 AM by ozgeorge »
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Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2008, 01:52:45 AM »

Then there is the alternative theory that we should exclude all groups (though not necessarily all individuals) which are outside of Orthodoxy--taking literally the phrase "there is no salvation outside the Church". In that case, we can definitely say where the Church is not. The Church is not with the Jehovah Witnesses, it is not with the Mormons, and so forth. In essence, it is not with any group who are not part of the Orthodox communion.
This is the understanding that I've been imparted with.  Of course, I could be wrong and I don't want anyone to get the impression that I condemn anyone (or group) to hell.

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Offline JosephM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #20 on: October 31, 2008, 07:55:50 AM »
Quote
Nonsense. He is saying that all who follow Him, in spirit and in truth, be they Jew or Gentile, can attain the kingdom of heaven.

Exactly. Jesus was talking to a halfbreed woman who belonged to a group that was despised by the Jews and considered irredeemable by most. This group that separated from the "orthodox Judaism" of the day could never the less find salvation in Jesus. Jesus moved the focal point of the faith from the temple to Himself. I don't think it is wise to try to move it back to a temple. If a group is faithful to Christ, their pedigree shouldn't be an issue. Unfortunately, pedigree has become the issue that is dividing the Church to this day. The only way to find unity is to rally around Jesus and worship God in Spirit and in Truth. As long as we keep setting up walls around us, we are no better that the Jews and Samaritans who were yet in their sins. We end up being like the judiazers of the first century, trying to get folks from different backgrounds to conform to our idea of what they should look like. Like Peter said, 'What God has cleansed you must not call common.'

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« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 07:56:48 AM by JosephM »

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #21 on: October 31, 2008, 08:49:55 AM »
The walls of the Church are like fences that keep Orthodox Christians from falling off cliffs. They protect and guide Orthodox Christians, keeping them in the right faith. A wall is like saying "do not follow Arius, do not follow Nestorius." As the Scripture says: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. 4:16)
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 08:53:21 AM by Asteriktos »
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Offline AMM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #22 on: October 31, 2008, 09:03:08 AM »
There is no definition of what the church is, which is why Metropolitan Kallistos is in effect right.

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #23 on: October 31, 2008, 09:50:15 AM »
The walls of the Church are like fences that keep Orthodox Christians from falling off cliffs. They protect and guide Orthodox Christians, keeping them in the right faith. A wall is like saying "do not follow Arius, do not follow Nestorius." As the Scripture says: "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." (1 Tim. 4:16)

There is a big difference between theological boundaries and jurisdictional barriers. We know from history that some of the venerated were heretical, and some of the chastised and rejected were righteous. I don't know about you, but I don't think the any of the Orthodox groups (which is a good rabbit to chase) are currently without fault. Sometimes the redemptive/corrective voices are outside of the walls of the Orthodox Church and are therefore never heard. 

If the walls are the definitive line, salvation becomes strictly a matter of membership and position while morality, faithfulness, godliness, holiness and purity become mere side issues. Membership in the Orthodox Church must either be the determining factor in our salvation or not the determining factor. If it is the determining factor, membership to a local Orthodox parish supercedes faithfulness and obedience.

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #24 on: October 31, 2008, 09:57:12 AM »
Quote
If the walls are the definitive line, salvation becomes strictly a matter of membership and position while morality, faithfulness, godliness, holiness and purity become mere side issues. Membership in the Orthodox Church must either be the determining factor in our salvation or not the determining factor. If it is the determining factor, membership to a local Orthodox parish supercedes faithfulness and obedience.


This is a gross misrepresentation and misunderstanding of what the Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox faith are all about.
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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2008, 10:07:27 AM »
There is no definition of what the church is, which is why Metropolitan Kallistos is in effect right.

That doesn't seem to be the case when reading such things as On the Unity of the Church by St Cyprian, various canons of the Church, etc.  The fathers had no problem defining who was outside the Church.
« Last Edit: October 31, 2008, 10:08:27 AM by Fr. Anastasios »
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Offline JosephM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2008, 10:09:29 AM »
Quote
If the walls are the definitive line, salvation becomes strictly a matter of membership and position while morality, faithfulness, godliness, holiness and purity become mere side issues. Membership in the Orthodox Church must either be the determining factor in our salvation or not the determining factor. If it is the determining factor, membership to a local Orthodox parish supercedes faithfulness and obedience.


This is a gross misrepresentation and misunderstanding of what the Orthodox Church, and the Orthodox faith are all about.

It is an either/or post. I haven't misrepresented anything. If you believe that membership is the determining factor, you can tell exactly where the Church is. If membership is not the determining factor, you cannot say where the Church is not. That is the topic of discussion, isn't it?

I personally believe the value of Orthodoxy is in its liturgy and theology, not it's membership. Perhaps this is why many have wisely refused to say were the Church is not.

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Offline JosephM

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2008, 10:33:21 AM »
There is no definition of what the church is, which is why Metropolitan Kallistos is in effect right.

That doesn't seem to be the case when reading such things as On the Unity of the Church by St Cyprian, various canons of the Church, etc.  The fathers had no problem defining who was outside the Church.

But we can all agree that Unity is a problem today, even in Orthodoxy. Metropolitan Kallistos knows that a mixed message is being sent, which is why he is trying to unite the various Orthodox groups. If we are yet united while being separate, the source of our unification must lie somewhere other than our affiliations. 


Offline tweety234

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #28 on: November 27, 2012, 08:28:36 PM »
Strange language for a Church with walls.........
Grace and Peace, Joseph

I may be wrong. But I totally agree with you. The true worship is the worship where you spend time taking care of someone else who needs you, rather than spending time praying only and taking care only of your soul.

I am guilty of that. Therefore, if I lose my salvation (God Forbid). It will be because of that. Not because I refuse to go to a specific building no matter how beautiful it may  be to worship.

I may be wrong but these are my 2 cents. No one has to agree or follow the same path.
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Offline Ashman618

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #29 on: November 27, 2012, 08:49:03 PM »
Strange language for a Church with walls.........
Grace and Peace, Joseph

I may be wrong. But I totally agree with you. The true worship is the worship where you spend time taking care of someone else who needs you, rather than spending time praying only and taking care only of your soul.

I am guilty of that. Therefore, if I lose my salvation (God Forbid). It will be because of that. Not because I refuse to go to a specific building no matter how beautiful it may  be to worship.

I may be wrong but these are my 2 cents. No one has to agree or follow the same path.

My frind, I don't think that anyone is saying you have to go to a specific building, rather that one must worship in spirit and truth with a specific body of people.  When John wrote that passage in scripture I'm sure he had a specific idea of what worship in spirit and truth ment maybe you should research on how the apostle John worshiped. And for what it's worth this advice comes from someone outside the church walls.

Offline Justin Kissel

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #30 on: August 06, 2013, 11:42:19 AM »
So just as a follow up, I was recently listening to a podcast interview of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and this idea mentioned in the OP came up:

Quote
I think, Father, in your book you quote Paul [Evdokimov] who makes that famous quote about “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where she isn’t”?

Fr. Andrew: Right, and so Evdokimov makes that comment, and it gets quoted, if I remember correctly, by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his book The Orthodox Church, and that has sort of become popular in English-speaking circles. I think there is a great truth to that phrase, although there is kind of a danger in turning it into a glib slogan, a way for Orthodox Christians to say, “Well, we’re definitely the Church. We’re not sure about you, and that’s okay.” I think at the same time, we have to say, “While I agree logically with that statement, we also have to believe that if Orthodoxy is actually the Church, then people remaining outside of it is not okay.” We want people to be inside of it, not because we want to conquer them, but because we can’t bear to be apart from them.
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Offline jah777

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2013, 12:00:45 PM »
So just as a follow up, I was recently listening to a podcast interview of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and this idea mentioned in the OP came up:

Quote
I think, Father, in your book you quote Paul [Evdokimov] who makes that famous quote about “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where she isn’t”?

Fr. Andrew: Right, and so Evdokimov makes that comment, and it gets quoted, if I remember correctly, by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his book The Orthodox Church, and that has sort of become popular in English-speaking circles. I think there is a great truth to that phrase, although there is kind of a danger in turning it into a glib slogan, a way for Orthodox Christians to say, “Well, we’re definitely the Church. We’re not sure about you, and that’s okay.” I think at the same time, we have to say, “While I agree logically with that statement, we also have to believe that if Orthodoxy is actually the Church, then people remaining outside of it is not okay.” We want people to be inside of it, not because we want to conquer them, but because we can’t bear to be apart from them.

It is very unfortunate how this quote had been adopted in some circles as though it were Orthodox dogma when it has no foundation in the writings of the saints or Fathers.

Offline GabrieltheCelt

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #32 on: August 06, 2013, 12:45:15 PM »
So just as a follow up, I was recently listening to a podcast interview of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and this idea mentioned in the OP came up:

Quote
I think, Father, in your book you quote Paul [Evdokimov] who makes that famous quote about “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where she isn’t”?

Fr. Andrew: Right, and so Evdokimov makes that comment, and it gets quoted, if I remember correctly, by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his book The Orthodox Church, and that has sort of become popular in English-speaking circles. I think there is a great truth to that phrase, although there is kind of a danger in turning it into a glib slogan, a way for Orthodox Christians to say, “Well, we’re definitely the Church. We’re not sure about you, and that’s okay.” I think at the same time, we have to say, “While I agree logically with that statement, we also have to believe that if Orthodoxy is actually the Church, then people remaining outside of it is not okay.” We want people to be inside of it, not because we want to conquer them, but because we can’t bear to be apart from them.

It is very unfortunate how this quote had been adopted in some circles as though it were Orthodox dogma when it has no foundation in the writings of the saints or Fathers.

 I agree.  It seems as though the phrase in question was simply a theologoumenon that has been adopted as dogma by some. 
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Offline Remnkemi

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #33 on: August 06, 2013, 03:24:04 PM »
Wouldn't Justin Martyr's logos spermatikos by default mean we cannot be sure where the Church is not? Justin Martyr's logos spermatikos was his way of describing the Logos, the Second Person of the Trinity, using the Stoic understanding that the Logos is "the generative principle of the Universe". This generative principle of the Universe was planted throughout history and ancient wisdom since it is the generative force behind everything. And this principle planted in non-Christian religions and ideologies also point to the superiority of Christianity. This would necessitate that any definition of where the Logos or the Church is cannot exclude the countless non-Christian places or religions where the Logos was implanted. This does not mean heterdoxy and Orthodoxy are equal, nor including all religions and theologies into Christianity is required but that any exclusivity of Orthodoxy cannot be absolute. This leads to the conclusion that "we cannot be sure where the Church is not". Is this a fair assessment?

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #34 on: August 06, 2013, 03:38:55 PM »
The answer is the book itself.

Better than saying "we know where the church is but we cannot be sure where the Church is not" what is an impossibility devoided of any sense, we can account for God's mercy and the visible fact that some people outside of the Church do have grace, and some inside have none, by saying "We know who is in the Church, but we can't know who will remain in or out of it after the Last Judgement".

That is biblical Orthodox teaching, accounts for those two facts and is not self-contradictory.
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Offline JamesR

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #35 on: August 06, 2013, 03:45:51 PM »
...is an entirely modern, 20th century-dox statement made for fear of being labeled politically incorrect that has absolutely no basis in the Fathers.
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Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2013, 09:23:31 AM »
...is an entirely modern, 20th century-dox statement made for fear of being labeled politically incorrect that has absolutely no basis in the Fathers.

I believe that for some people yes, that's it. There's far too much fear of the world in ecumenism. But I also think that some people are sincerily surprised by the fact there are saintly people even outside their own church and can't come up with an explanation for that because they believe, wrongly in my opinion, that it implies where there is Grace there the Church must be somehow.

If I'm right, this mistake is due to not applying the concepts of energies of God. It means there are several kinds of Grace, which are energies of God. Participation in the Body of Christ is one of them, which does not preclude that those who did not receive this particular Grace of being in the Church from receiving other kinds of Grace. Obviously, receiving this one does not mean either that you get all of the others along with it. It's just *one* kind of energy of God.
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 09:25:26 AM by Fabio Leite »
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Offline Shlomlokh

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2013, 09:46:41 AM »
So just as a follow up, I was recently listening to a podcast interview of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and this idea mentioned in the OP came up:

Quote
I think, Father, in your book you quote Paul [Evdokimov] who makes that famous quote about “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where she isn’t”?

Fr. Andrew: Right, and so Evdokimov makes that comment, and it gets quoted, if I remember correctly, by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his book The Orthodox Church, and that has sort of become popular in English-speaking circles. I think there is a great truth to that phrase, although there is kind of a danger in turning it into a glib slogan, a way for Orthodox Christians to say, “Well, we’re definitely the Church. We’re not sure about you, and that’s okay.” I think at the same time, we have to say, “While I agree logically with that statement, we also have to believe that if Orthodoxy is actually the Church, then people remaining outside of it is not okay.” We want people to be inside of it, not because we want to conquer them, but because we can’t bear to be apart from them.

He also brought up the last canon at Constantinope I (381) which specifically stated the heretics were made Christians when they were received into the Church. This canon could be troubling for some.

In Christ,
Andrew
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2013, 09:51:25 AM »
He also brought up the last canon at Constantinope I (381) which specifically stated the heretics were made Christians when they were received into the Church. This canon could be troubling for some.

What do you think that canon is saying?
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #39 on: August 07, 2013, 09:56:50 AM »
So just as a follow up, I was recently listening to a podcast interview of Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick, and this idea mentioned in the OP came up:

Quote
I think, Father, in your book you quote Paul [Evdokimov] who makes that famous quote about “we know where the Church is, but we don’t know where she isn’t”?

Fr. Andrew: Right, and so Evdokimov makes that comment, and it gets quoted, if I remember correctly, by Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) in his book The Orthodox Church, and that has sort of become popular in English-speaking circles. I think there is a great truth to that phrase, although there is kind of a danger in turning it into a glib slogan, a way for Orthodox Christians to say, “Well, we’re definitely the Church. We’re not sure about you, and that’s okay.” I think at the same time, we have to say, “While I agree logically with that statement, we also have to believe that if Orthodoxy is actually the Church, then people remaining outside of it is not okay.” We want people to be inside of it, not because we want to conquer them, but because we can’t bear to be apart from them.

I get it, but I don't really care for that formulation.  Why not leave the Church to be with them if they won't join and if being apart from them is such a burden? 
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Offline Fabio Leite

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #40 on: August 07, 2013, 09:58:18 AM »
"I know where the United States/the tribe of Yanomanis/any group is, but I can't be sure where it's not".

I wonder how people don't see the absurdity of that statement when it's applied to the Church.
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Offline Shlomlokh

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #41 on: August 07, 2013, 12:14:47 PM »
He also brought up the last canon at Constantinope I (381) which specifically stated the heretics were made Christians when they were received into the Church. This canon could be troubling for some.

What do you think that canon is saying?
The only Christians are those in the Church. After all, how can one be a little Christ if they are not with His Bride?

In Christ,
Andrew
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #42 on: August 07, 2013, 12:30:58 PM »
The only Christians are those in the Church. After all, how can one be a little Christ if they are not with His Bride?

Unless you had another one in mind, this is the "last" canon of the second ecumenical council held in Constantinople in 381:

Quote
Canon VII
Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, "The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost." But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies -- for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians: -- all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.

https://sites.google.com/site/canonsoc/home/canons-of-the-ecumenical-councils/i-constantinoplitanum-381

It seems to me that the Council's opinion is more nuanced than yours.  All of the above were definitely considered heretics, but not all were considered at the same time not to be Christians.  Certain heretics, clearly specified in the canon, were not considered to be Christians based on how divergent their faith and/or practice was from that of the Church.  It's not a blanket statement about how everyone outside dwells in undifferentiated darkness.     
"Do not tempt the Mor thy Mod."

Offline Shlomlokh

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #43 on: August 07, 2013, 12:44:57 PM »
The only Christians are those in the Church. After all, how can one be a little Christ if they are not with His Bride?

Unless you had another one in mind, this is the "last" canon of the second ecumenical council held in Constantinople in 381:

Quote
Canon VII
Those who from heresy turn to orthodoxy, and to the portion of those who are being saved, we receive according to the following method and custom: Arians, and Macedonians, and Sabbatians, and Novatians, who call themselves Cathari or Aristori, and Quarto-decimans or Tetradites, and Apollinarians, we receive, upon their giving a written renunciation [of their errors] and anathematize every heresy which is not in accordance with the Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church of God. Thereupon, they are first sealed or anointed with the holy oil upon the forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, and ears; and when we seal them, we say, "The Seal of the gift of the Holy Ghost." But Eunomians, who are baptized with only one immersion, and Montanists, who are here called Phrygians, and Sabellians, who teach the identity of Father and Son, and do sundry other mischievous things, and [the partisans of] all other heresies -- for there are many such here, particularly among those who come from the country of the Galatians: -- all these, when they desire to turn to orthodoxy, we receive as heathen. On the first day we make them Christians; on the second, catechumens; on the third, we exorcise them by breathing thrice in their face and ears; and thus we instruct them and oblige them to spend some time in the Church, and to hear the Scriptures; and then we baptize them.

https://sites.google.com/site/canonsoc/home/canons-of-the-ecumenical-councils/i-constantinoplitanum-381

It seems to me that the Council's opinion is more nuanced than yours.  All of the above were definitely considered heretics, but not all were considered at the same time not to be Christians.  Certain heretics, clearly specified in the canon, were not considered to be Christians based on how divergent their faith and/or practice was from that of the Church.  It's not a blanket statement about how everyone outside dwells in undifferentiated darkness.     

It is a bit more nuanced, I will admit, but it shouldn't be discarded by modern Orthodox because it isn't very "ecumenical." It seems pretty clear when it says they were received as heathen and not considered Christians You could easily substitute some Protestant sects in for Eunomian, Sabellian, et al. I don't think it should be a blanket application, but should be a standard in our attitude to the heterodox. They are becoming more and more varied in their beliefs and while they might use some of the same terminology as we do, we shouldn't be so quick to recognize them as Christians. That's my understanding of it anyway. :)

In Christ,
Andrew
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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: We Cannot Be Sure Where the Church Is Not
« Reply #44 on: August 07, 2013, 01:03:36 PM »
It is a bit more nuanced, I will admit, but it shouldn't be discarded by modern Orthodox because it isn't very "ecumenical." It seems pretty clear when it says they were received as heathen and not considered Christians You could easily substitute some Protestant sects in for Eunomian, Sabellian, et al. I don't think it should be a blanket application, but should be a standard in our attitude to the heterodox. They are becoming more and more varied in their beliefs and while they might use some of the same terminology as we do, we shouldn't be so quick to recognize them as Christians. That's my understanding of it anyway. :)

Yes, but my point is that while Eunomians and Montanists were regarded as non-Christians, Arians and Quartodecimans were not regarded as non-Christians, even though they were all considered heretics

I think you're right that Eunomian could be replaced by some modern Protestant sects, but the issue I have is when we apply that to everyone without exception.  The council doesn't do that, and it is the last council that absolutely everyone accepts.  The council recognises a differentiation among the various heretical groups it is concerned with and treats their reception into the Orthodox Church differently based on that.  There is a sense in which "a heretic is a heretic is a heretic" is not the correct way of looking at this issue; there are criteria by which to judge.

If the "ecumenists" among the modern Orthodox are quick to discard part of this canon because it isn't very "ecumenical" or "nice", it is also the case that there are "hardliners" among the modern Orthodox who are just as quick to discard the other part of the canon because the differential treatment of heretics is the fly in the otherwise pure chrism of Orthodox exclusivism outlined therein.             
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