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Author Topic: Following the Bishops  (Read 1610 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: November 29, 2008, 06:04:38 PM »

Most modern Orthodox literature having to do with bishops puts them in a very good light, following passages such as that of Hebrews or St. Ignatius:

"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you." - Heb. 13:17

"Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop." - Smyrnaeans, 8

However, every once in a while I come across quotes which are not so positive sounding, for example these by St. Gregory the Theologian and St. John Chrysostom:

"For me there is one thing above all that one has to beware of--a bad bishop. Do not be overawed by the dignity of the throne, for all have the dignity but not all have the grace. Set aside the sheep's clothing, watch out for the wolf." - Quoted in: John McGuckin, Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography, (St. Vladimir's Seminary Press, 2001), p. 118, fn 102

"I do not think there are many among Bishops that will be saved, but many more that perish: and the reason is, that it is an affair that requires a great mind." - Homily 3 on Acts

So what I'd like to know is, is there a book or article out there that balances the two types of statements and synthesises them, so we are left with a middle way or "royal road" on which to walk, telling us about how to not blindly follow bishops, but yet still trust in their guidance and leadership? Basically I'm looking for something a bit more balanced than the typical "follow your bishop!" if any such text is available?
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« Reply #1 on: November 29, 2008, 10:20:37 PM »

I would advise you to simply follow your bishop.  Grin
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« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2008, 01:10:25 AM »

Thankfully Orthodoxy teaches us to follow our conscience, and not just be blindly obedient. Ultimately, you are responsible for you.
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Justin Kissel
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« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2008, 01:56:22 PM »

Alveus Lacuna

Quote
I would advise you to simply follow your bishop.  Grin

But what if the bishop has gone astray? Do you continue to follow a bishop into destruction? True, Christ did tell his followers to follow the Pharisees, because they sat in the seat of Moses... yet even then the obedience was qualified: "All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not" (Matt. 23:3) How far is too far when it comes to activity that can bring harm to your soul because of obedience to a bishop?


Fr. Anastasios,

Quote
Thankfully Orthodoxy teaches us to follow our conscience, and not just be blindly obedient. Ultimately, you are responsible for you.

But where is the line to be drawn? There is of course canon 15 of the First-Second Council, but that is only an exception for publically preached heresy. What if you aren't sure that activity of a bishop rises to the level of heresy, but you know that it's harmful? Let's say (and this is just a fictional example) that you know with full assurance that your bishop is concelebrating with Catholics and communing Catholics. That isn't preaching heresy, but it is still something that would be harmful to the flock. Can you justifiably leave a bishop over something like that, for the protection of your soul? And how do you decide?


EDIT--Just a note, I'm am not having a crisis of faith or anything of that sort, I'm just working through some issues and this topic has come up as I work through them.
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« Reply #4 on: November 30, 2008, 04:47:15 PM »

It seems to me there may not be an answer that we know for sure ahead of time. Sometimes we have to follow our conscience (which should be formed by prayer and fasting and obedience) and that may mean taking a leap of faith and submitting ourselves to be judged based on what we do, trusting in God's mercy.

In other words, not all decisions have a clear solution or clear right and wrong at the time. We may have to analyze the data and hope for the best.
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« Reply #5 on: November 30, 2008, 08:52:02 PM »

What if you aren't sure that activity of a bishop rises to the level of heresy, but you know that it's harmful? Let's say (and this is just a fictional example) that you know with full assurance that your bishop is concelebrating with Catholics and communing Catholics.

I'd follow the bishop in any case...and both St. Gregory and St. GoldenMouth were bishops, weren't they? Grin

We are all in the flock, and bishops are shepherds. We can't survive without a shepherd, but that doesn't amount we should follow a wolf in shepherds' clothing. There are various measures that precedes leaving such a bishop...and there is specific approach to time by Orthodox, where couple of decades of resistance to novelties and change isn't unusual.

One of the measures to protest against the bishop is to attend the liturgy he serves, approach to take communion and then, when he offers it, to spat him in face before receiving, in front of the diocese. One mustn't do that after he took communion, for there is a possibility of spatting it.   
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« Reply #6 on: November 30, 2008, 09:07:37 PM »

What if you aren't sure that activity of a bishop rises to the level of heresy, but you know that it's harmful? Let's say (and this is just a fictional example) that you know with full assurance that your bishop is concelebrating with Catholics and communing Catholics.

I'd follow the bishop in any case...and both St. Gregory and St. GoldenMouth were bishops, weren't they? Grin

We are all in the flock, and bishops are shepherds. We can't survive without a shepherd, but that doesn't amount we should follow a wolf in shepherds' clothing. There are various measures that precedes leaving such a bishop...and there is specific approach to time by Orthodox, where couple of decades of resistance to novelties and change isn't unusual.

One of the measures to protest against the bishop is to attend the liturgy he serves, approach to take communion and then, when he offers it, to spat him in face before receiving, in front of the diocese. One mustn't do that after he took communion, for there is a possibility of spatting it.   
Spit in the bishop's face? Tongue  I'm sure a lot of people have thought of that idea.  They may not have thought much of the idea, but they've certainly thought of it. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #7 on: November 30, 2008, 11:57:41 PM »

I don't have quotes at hand, but I know that there are Canons that provide guidance as to how priests and the laity may act if under the authority of an errant bishop.  Remember, too, Synods exist also to address the problem of an errant bishop.
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« Reply #8 on: December 01, 2008, 12:16:35 AM »

One of the measures to protest against the bishop is to attend the liturgy he serves, approach to take communion and then, when he offers it, to spat him in face before receiving, in front of the diocese.

That is really intense.  What on earth would a bishop do in such a situation?
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« Reply #9 on: December 01, 2008, 12:37:45 AM »

One of the measures to protest against the bishop is to attend the liturgy he serves, approach to take communion and then, when he offers it, to spat him in face before receiving, in front of the diocese.

That is really intense.  What on earth would a bishop do in such a situation?
I don't know that I'd want to try lurker's idea to find out. angel

I'm not so much afraid of what the bishop would do as I am afraid of what God would do.  He might make my mouth dry up and pucker as if I'd just sucked on a lemon, effectively rendering me mute for spitting on His anointed one. Lips Sealed
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« Reply #10 on: December 01, 2008, 04:15:24 AM »

A (hopefully not former) friend of mine practically did this recently.  He's a very liberal minded, but impractical and irrational in his behavior - he gets way too emotional about things.  He argued with vocally, causing a scene, with the bishop and former abbot about a property issue that he disagreed with.  It wasn't "spitting", but a vocal "rebuke".  It really wasn't theological though and my friend really needs to repent just because he didn't agree with the decision.  (Some of you may know what I'm deliberately vaguely referring to.)
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« Reply #11 on: December 01, 2008, 03:46:59 PM »

I debated with my Hierarch 4-5 years ago about the lack of a coherent Metropolis website.  My Hierarch asked me to volunteer and I refused.  Two years later, a website was developed which is somewhat more coherent although there is room for improvement.

Lest we forget, St. John Climacus has said that the lampposts on the road to Hell are errant Bishops and Hierarchs themselves.
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« Reply #12 on: December 01, 2008, 03:59:15 PM »

Lest we forget, St. John Climacus has said that the lampposts on the road to Hell are errant Bishops and Hierarchs themselves.
Indeed!  But let us also remember how King David responded when one of his allies boasted of having killed King Saul.  He didn't care that Saul had fallen into apostasy and was out to kill him; he still had the braggart executed for killing God's anointed one.  (Yes, I'm still speaking specifically to orthodoxlurker's most recent post on this thread.)
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« Reply #13 on: December 01, 2008, 05:40:36 PM »

I debated with my Hierarch 4-5 years ago about the lack of a coherent Metropolis website.  My Hierarch asked me to volunteer and I refused.  Two years later, a website was developed which is somewhat more coherent although there is room for improvement.

Why did you refuse if I may ask?
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« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2008, 05:51:02 PM »

One of the measures to protest against the bishop is to attend the liturgy he serves, approach to take communion and then, when he offers it, to spat him in face before receiving, in front of the diocese.

That is really intense.  What on earth would a bishop do in such a situation?

What could he do with the hands full of communion?

Anyway, what I wrote applies to described situation above, and not to any kind of property or administrative issues. I would neither dare to do it, nor would support it, in case of last communion of a heterodox Christian, or funeral services in case there is no nearby priest available.

It is best if it is conducted by a grandmother (a.k.a. "babushka"). It mustn't involve any kind of unrest, or violence, God forbid, because it doesn't speak violence, or hatred.

It speaks despise and rejection of heretical actions. And it speaks fluently Grin
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« Reply #15 on: December 02, 2008, 01:53:18 AM »

I debated with my Hierarch 4-5 years ago about the lack of a coherent Metropolis website.  My Hierarch asked me to volunteer and I refused.  Two years later, a website was developed which is somewhat more coherent although there is room for improvement.

Why did you refuse if I may ask?

Certainly, at that time (2003), I did not trust my ability with working with "Greeks" because I "judged" them as inflexible, including my Hierarch.
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