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Author Topic: Honest Threads about the Problems with Orthodoxy  (Read 7027 times) Average Rating: 0
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c38
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« on: January 05, 2009, 10:50:39 AM »

Here's a little experiment: This is my first post here, and I'd like to invite all sincere (cool-headed individuals) to discuss possible flaws in the Orthodox schema. Bring along a PhD, bring the Holy Spirit, bring any non-hateful and thoughtful comments or insights you have, and please let's go beyond the usual rants and worn-out apologetics.

I believe there is something amiss. I'm no scholar or expert; just a churchgoer not experiencing Christ on Sundays. To tell you the truth, I see only the hardened traditions and a toxic congregation. What is going wrong?
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« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2009, 11:16:10 AM »

The tone of your post sounds like a Protestant trying to bait Orthodox, or someone who has been influenced by Protestants.  We've had many people like that come here trying to snag Orthodox to leave the Church. Such posting is not welcome. If however you have sincere questions or doubts then post specifics.

I for one found Orthodox worship to be so spiritually alive that it was a powerful influence in my conversion to Orthodoxy. Only in the Orthodox Church were many long-held sinful habits overcome and did I find true repentance. The liturgy gives me peace and the prayers are what sustain me through this troubled life.
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2009, 11:18:25 AM »

I for one found Orthodox worship to be so spiritually alive that it was a powerful influence in my conversion to Orthodoxy. Only in the Orthodox Church were many long-held sinful habits overcome and did I find true repentance. The liturgy gives me peace and the prayers are what sustain me through this troubled life.

Ditto. Very well said, Father. I can second every word, I believe.

Dear C38, WHY do you think you are "not experiencing Christ?" Where is the root of the problem?
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« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2009, 11:24:50 AM »


There are NO problems with Orthodoxy.

I've been blessed to be a cradle Orthodox, and to this day have not come across one thing in Orthodoxy that I would consider a "problem".  Everything has a reason, an explanation and a purpose if you search for it. 

If there is an issue within a parish, the issue does not stem from "Orthodoxy" per se, but from the individuals who make up that parish. 

Don't confuse the two.

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« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2009, 11:56:33 AM »

Hello Liza and Fr. Anastasios

Actually, we don't need to go any further than this thread to begin illustrating some of the issues. Within minutes of posting here my thoughts are declared heretical and not worthy of this message board. I'm sorry you feel this way, but my experience is very typical, and dismissing me means dismissing a significant proportion of real Orthodox Christians.

And Liza, why are you driving such a sharp wedge between your Christianity and your parish? That doesn't seem very sound to me. How can you be Christian without the fellowship and support of other Christians?

I'll try to mention more specifics as we go along, but I was hoping for a discussion.
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« Reply #5 on: January 05, 2009, 12:11:07 PM »

You're absolutely correct, c38; we don't need to go any further with this discussion because it's not a discussion.  You haven't listed any specific concerns for us to address.  But if you have the time, I have a few questions for you, please.  Are you an Orthodox Christian?  You seem to be saying that you're a real Orthodox Christian; what does that mean to you?  And why did you put "yes" under the question Faith under your profile?  Doesn't that sound dubious?  And why do you feel that you've been dismissed as a heretic?  Since you neglected to list anything specific you wanted to discuss, coupled with the fact that you're being secretive about your motives and faith, I think it's only natural for us to be cautious with you.  Don't take it personally (after all we don't know you), when you begin to be more open and specific you'll have a very healthy discussion.
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« Reply #6 on: January 05, 2009, 12:17:49 PM »

Quote
What is going wrong?
Quote
There are NO problems with Orthodoxy.
I can't fully agree.  I believe a perusal of this very OC.net easily shows some issues within our faith.  Consider the new calendarists vs. old calendarists debate.  Once, long ago, there was not a universal way to calculate the date of Pascha across Christianity.  And everyone's technique was "correct", in its own way.  Orthodoxy correctly concluded that it was better to be unified than to be "right", and so we standardized the date of Pascha/Easter.

Today, a similar disagreement rages over the date of Christmas.  Unfortunately, the discussion never seems to get around to acknowledging that it's better for us to be unified than to be right.  All debate (from all sides!)seems to center on "we are right, and you guys need to acknowledge that and change."  I don't see how anyone can argue that this is not a problem for Orthodoxy.  We proclaim that we are Christ's one holy catholic and apostolic church.  Yet to those looking in, we often appear anything but.
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« Reply #7 on: January 05, 2009, 12:22:48 PM »

Hello Liza and Fr. Anastasios

Actually, we don't need to go any further than this thread to begin illustrating some of the issues. Within minutes of posting here my thoughts are declared heretical and not worthy of this message board. I'm sorry you feel this way, but my experience is very typical, and dismissing me means dismissing a significant proportion of real Orthodox Christians.

I didn't say you were heretical. I asked if you were for real.

After that, I made an offer to discuss specifics, and offered my experience, on the assumption that you are for real.

Sorry, but we have to be careful around here based on past experience.
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« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2009, 12:24:09 PM »

Actually, we don't need to go any further than this thread to begin illustrating some of the issues. Within minutes of posting here my thoughts are declared heretical and not worthy of this message board. I'm sorry you feel this way, but my experience is very typical, and dismissing me means dismissing a significant proportion of real Orthodox Christians.

Don't look at the above comments as dismissive.  No one called your thoughts "heretical."  We're just trying to be cautious (you know, like Mary when Gabriel came to her), guarding our hearts.  Instead of dismissing you, we've actually asked for more specifics (i.e. a subject not so broad and wide as to have hundreds to directions and tangents)!  To wit:

If however you have sincere questions or doubts then post specifics.

Fr. Anastasios isn't suggesting that you're not sincere; your tone came off that way, based on our previous experiences here, but he (as we all) has left open the door for you if (and it seems that you are) you are sincere about your question.  But specifics are the key - if you want a fruitful discussion, then your question needs to promote it; too open a question promotes nothing more than a free-for-all, directionless banter session.

And Liza, why are you driving such a sharp wedge between your Christianity and your parish? That doesn't seem very sound to me. How can you be Christian without the fellowship and support of other Christians?

She wasn't driving such a sharp wedge; she was pointing out that most of the problems people have with "Orthodoxy" are actually with "Orthodox people," with an emphasis on people (human beings, with flaws).

I'll try to mention more specifics as we go along, but I was hoping for a discussion.

You'll get a discussion, that's for sure.  What kind all depends on how you phrase the Opening Question, and how you respond to it.
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« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2009, 12:25:09 PM »

You're absolutely correct, c38; we don't need to go any further with this discussion because it's not a discussion.  You haven't listed any specific concerns for us to address.  But if you have the time, I have a few questions for you, please.  Are you an Orthodox Christian?  You seem to be saying that you're a real Orthodox Christian; what does that mean to you?  And why did you put "yes" under the question Faith under your profile?  Doesn't that sound dubious?  And why do you feel that you've been dismissed as a heretic?  Since you neglected to list anything specific you wanted to discuss, coupled with the fact that you're being secretive about your motives and faith, I think it's only natural for us to be cautious with you.  Don't take it personally (after all we don't know you), when you begin to be more open and specific you'll have a very healthy discussion.

Calm.... take a deep breath.  The above comments are probably merely a misunderstanding - no need to be defensive (yet).
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« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2009, 12:30:41 PM »



C38,

Your comment that I am "driving such a sharp wedge between your Christianity and your parish? That doesn't seem very sound to me. How can you be Christian without the fellowship and support of other Christians?" is an incorrect statement.  I have no issues with my parish.  We are composed of excellent Orthodox Christians, as are all the Orthodox churches that I have ever visited in my area. 

However, you said in your original post "I'm no scholar or expert; just a churchgoer not experiencing Christ on Sundays. To tell you the truth, I see only the hardened traditions and a toxic congregation. What is going wrong?"

That statement led me to believe that you were finding some issue with your "toxic" congregation. 

I have found the Orthodox churches which I have attended (which have ranged through various ethnicity and jurisdictions) all to be warm, inviting and filled with God's grace, and I arm truly sorry that you have not had the same experience.  It is truly sad.

As for your comment "How can you be Christian without the fellowship and support of other Christians?"...  sometimes you find God when you find yourself alone.  It varies per individual.  What of the hermits and holy monks who seclude themselves?  Are they not Christian?  We could only hope to be a quarter as "Christian" as they are.

I am truly sorry to hear of your misgivings and the fact that you are not finding what you are searching for.  The fact that you do not "experience Christ on Sunday" is very sad.  First of all, you should be "experiencing" Him every day of the week, and not just look for Him on Sundays.  He should permeate you very being, your every thought.  He is our anchor in an otherwise stormy sea.

I wish you all the best in your search.  Maybe you simply need to search deeper within yourself.

Love and peace to you...and may God guide your steps.




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« Reply #11 on: January 05, 2009, 01:03:58 PM »

Quote
What is going wrong?
Quote
There are NO problems with Orthodoxy.
I can't fully agree.  I believe a perusal of this very OC.net easily shows some issues within our faith.  Consider the new calendarists vs. old calendarists debate. 

What about it? Where has the debate occurred? When?



Once, long ago, there was not a universal way to calculate the date of Pascha across Christianity. 

Yep. It was before Council at Nicea, known as the First Council, when persecutors were throwing us to the lions at Colosseum.

And everyone's technique was "correct", in its own way.  Orthodoxy correctly concluded that it was better to be unified than to be "right", and so we standardized the date of Pascha/Easter.

In Nicea, on 325 AD.


Today, a similar disagreement rages over the date of Christmas. 


Where? When? How?

Could you kindly point to the examples of such "a similar" disagreement?

Unfortunately, the discussion never seems to get around to acknowledging that it's better for us to be unified than to be right. 

Umm. We are unified. And we are right.

BTW, could you kindly provide a link to an example of such a discussion? On oc.net or elsewhere?

All debate (from all sides!)seems to center on "we are right, and you guys need to acknowledge that and change." 

The same as above: A link, please.

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« Reply #12 on: January 05, 2009, 02:03:41 PM »

Quote from Cleveland:
Quote
Calm.... take a deep breath.  The above comments are probably merely a misunderstanding - no need to be defensive (yet).

LOL.  Sorry, I didn't mean to sound defensive or all worked up. Just merely pointing out a few things for c38 to consider.

And c38, I forgot to say Welcome to the forum! Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: January 05, 2009, 02:24:54 PM »

It seems to me that the problems people see with the Orthodox Church (not Orthodoxy itself, as Liza pointed out) are the same problems in any church:  They're full of people.  Infallible, selfish, beautiful, weird, brilliant, stupid people.  When you bring people and all their shortcomings into Orthodox worship, which I believe is as close to heavenly worship as we've come so far, then yes, you'll have some issues.  Fortunately that's why we have things like Holy Tradition to accurately pass on the faith of the apostles and hierarchy to guide us and keep us from heresy, among so many other benefits of Orthodoxy. 

As far as the disagreements within Orthodoxy, I can't offer any help as I'm a fairly recent convert... I'm in a place now where I feel like a baby in the faith and only just learning it for myself.  All I can say is there are some fantastically mature Orthodox Christians on this board and my sincere hope is that we all can learn from them and each other.

By the way, C38, welcome!
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2009, 02:32:36 PM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2009, 02:34:41 PM »

Where? When? How?
Well, I guess my first response is "you're kidding, right?"  You haven't noticed the topics that get discussed on OC.net, and seen how quickly some of the responses turn polemical?  A search of "old calendarist" yields threads containing comments such as:
Quote
The old/new calendar is an issue that is very sad.
and
Quote
It pains me to see modern Orthodoxy divided like this.
If we're doing something that pains one brother or sister and makes another very sad, then I would caution us against dismissing the issue and hastily concluding that "We are unified. And we are right."  I am not trying to make this a discussion on the calendar.  My point is that we do sometimes leave issues unresolved, and then refuse or fail to acknowledge them as issues.

We can't have it all ways. For any issue, it's either important or it isn't.  If it's important, then we should be unified on the matter as Christ would expect of his one holy catholic church.  If it's unimportant, then we can universally acknowledge that it isn't fundamental to what makes us Orthodox.  But what are we to make of those issues that we would like to say are unimportant, yet which consistently stir the kind of heated passion as we've all witnessed?

Do we consistently appear to others exactly what we claim to be?  If not, we can't avoid concluding that this is a "problem with Orthodoxy", as requested in the OP.
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« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2009, 02:41:28 PM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome
So abandon truth? Why? If its just personal and subjective then how can it be truth? And if its not really truth, then why follow Christ at all? Some might find subjective truth in Hinduism or Islam. This idea of "personal truth" brings all religions to the same level, causing one to despair of ever finding reality, of ever finding the meaning that Christ offers us. I would rather there be wars over the creeds than for us to lose truth,  the object that our intellect was created for, the food of our very souls.
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« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2009, 02:43:38 PM »


Do we consistently appear to others exactly what we claim to be?  If not, we can't avoid concluding that this is a "problem with Orthodoxy", as requested in the OP.


I disagree with this statement.  This is not a problem with Orthodoxy, but with the Orthodox faithful.  This means, we, the Orthodox individuals, are not living the life we are meant to live.  We are not following the commandments or adhering to the teachings.  We portray our faith and our Church incorrectly to others.

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« Reply #18 on: January 05, 2009, 03:00:20 PM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome

My belated "welcome" to you!

I absolutely agree with you that truth is personal and that the truth is our Lord Jesus Christ. We aren't a "religion of the book" - we are followers of Christ, partakers of His divinity.

The question is, however, how do we learn the truth of Christ? The thing is, we humans are very strange creatures. We are very idolatrous. We make ourselves idols all the time. It's way too easy for an average person to "invent" his or her own Christ rather than to "dig" deep and try to find out, Who this Christ really is and what He does. Some of us want to see Christ as our "best buddy." Others prefer to see Him as the soon-to-be king of the present state of Israel, sitting on a quite physical throne in the quite physically restored temple in Jerusalem. And on and on it goes.

So that we don't make idols fitting our own preferences, calling these idols "Christ," we need the Church. It's an entity that keeps the tradition of the faith that Christ taught His apostles, and through them all of us. Go to Church, listen to Her teachings, and you will find the true Christ and not yet another little human idol.
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« Reply #19 on: January 05, 2009, 03:14:05 PM »

Do we consistently appear to others exactly what we claim to be?  If not, we can't avoid concluding that this is a "problem with Orthodoxy", as requested in the OP.
I disagree with this statement.  This is not a problem with Orthodoxy, but with the Orthodox faithful.  This means, we, the Orthodox individuals, are not living the life we are meant to live.  We are not following the commandments or adhering to the teachings.  We portray our faith and our Church incorrectly to others.
A good point.  I believe this is a matter of semantics, and if we only disagree on semantics, then we agree.  And with that, I would revise everything I've said to this point:

C38, your OP referenced "problems with the Orthodox schema."  If this is truly your question, I don't know of any.  (I stand by my prior comments, but consider them irrelevant to this particular question.)

But in paragraph 2, you talk about the shortcomings of your Sunday experience.  I don't think this is related to the "Orthodox schema".  My previous comments were addressed more toward this.

In which direction were you looking to go?

And, welcome to the board!
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« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2009, 03:21:05 PM »

Welcome to the forum c38.   Smiley

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

You're not the first person with issues regarding truth.  Pontius Pilate had the same issues as well in John 18:33-38:

Quote
33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
34 Jesus answered him, “Are you speaking for yourself about this, or did others tell you this concerning Me?”
35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered You to me. What have You done?”
36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
37 Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”
Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”
38 Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews, and said to them, “I find no fault in Him at all.

Recall that Jesus' Kingdom is not of this created world.  We are the ones who live in this created world and strive to obtain the heavenly world (aka Theosis).  As the icon of St. John Climacus illustrates, for every rung on the ladder, demons exist to cast those into Hell including Hierarchs.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome

As other posters have mentioned, human nature drives a lot of these issues.  Similar dogmatic issues exist in Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, et al.  IMO, the problem today, in the Orthodox Christian faith, is that there are fewer "holy" people to admonish the laity, clergy and Hierarchy allowing all 3 to develop a "superior" view rather than a "humble" view.
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« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2009, 03:25:04 PM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome

My response to this is two fold...

First, we are told in 1 Timothy 3:14ff the following:
Quote
4 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
So, apparently, someone way back when felt that the truth the Church proclaims is important.  Smiley

Secondly, as far as creeds go...
We hold only ONE creed.  The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed.  This is the only creed that matters.  The others came after.  The others are not ours.

Welcome to the forum, by the way!! 
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« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2009, 03:30:32 PM »

The weaknesses that Orthodoxy has are well known and there are many that are working on it. One would be "evangelism" simply because the idea of "winning" someone "to christ" (like you hear many protestant evangelists phrase it) is not something that is compatible with Orthodox thought. But since the church is a hospital for the sick, we really do need to make the "location" so to speak of this hospital more widely known. If we have the fullness of truth we should try to share that truth more often shouldn't we?
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« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2009, 03:41:44 PM »

creeds are inevitable.  Even the rejection of Creeds becomes a creed in and of itself.


Creeds aren't the problem.




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« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2009, 04:57:30 PM »

Welcome to the forum, c38. One problem that I struggle with with Orthodoxy is the whole "vain repetitions" thing. Try as I might, I can't seem to make 40 "Lord have mercy" anything but useless repetition, even in my own prayer life where I can do it as the speed and tone that I want. However, I should say that I do the repetitions anyway, because I am praying under the assumption that part of the problem is with me if something seems amiss.
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« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2009, 05:08:25 PM »

It seems to me that it is only vain repetition if we think that we are buttering up God extra by doing it more. I would say we have to do it 40 times so that it sticks a few times for our own sake.
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« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2009, 05:26:14 PM »

Asteriktos: As a Catechumen, this is actually one of the things I really struggle with as well. It's a curious one.

I wonder if in the last 100 years or so we're too obsessed with efficiency and have forgotten how to just take time over things (i.e., if something's worth doing, it's worth doing properly).  Wink
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« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2009, 06:01:06 PM »

JNorm

I agree creeds are not to blame; it's the mindset. "I must go away so that the creed may come to you". The first Christians had no creeds whatsoever; but they still appeared to possess something of value. Now this doesn't mean that I am opposed to any part of the Nicene Creed. Every letter is correct, and I'm not qualified to agree or disagree with any of it.  The problem I'm outlining is not a dogmatic one. Imagine you are reading a newspaper ad for a fine restaurant downtown. Is this the same thing as actually being seated there and enjoying a meal? Whatever possession the Lord entrusted with Peter, Luke, Paul, and John it must have been the real deal and not just some story about it. And it was tangible enough to be martyred on account of it. This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper! We need something to strengthen us in this life so we can stay focused on salvation. An amnesic Church cares about correct doctrine. A living Church embodies these doctrines and therefore has little need for an abstract Christ. Someone mentioned that orthodoxy doesn’t lend itself very well to evangelism or spreading of the Word. Why is that?
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« Reply #28 on: January 05, 2009, 06:12:59 PM »

The first Christians did have a Creed; it was called the Rule of Faith, and St Ireneaus talks extensively about it.

If you had an aunt who did not know how to use the internet and was unable to speak on the phone, and you were too poor to travel to her, but her son were able to communicate to you the details of her existence, you would only know your aunt through the accounts provided by her son.

In the same way, we can't know Christ apart from those who saw him, and we can't know them apart from those who passed this knowledge down in public. The creeds are simply the succinct treatments of these experiences.

Without creeds, we could not know Christ in order to have this spiritual experience of him. We can only be focused on salvation within the ark of salvation which is the Church. Otherwise, we will have "mysticism" without the real Christ. It's no wonder there are so many sects that claim a direct and pure "spiritual" experience of God.
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« Reply #29 on: January 05, 2009, 06:17:15 PM »

As far as where is the Spirit, I feel his presence often.  I also see it much more strongly in the lives of people like St John Maximovitch or Elder Ieronymos of Aegina. You can't get more "direct" than that.
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« Reply #30 on: January 05, 2009, 06:38:58 PM »


I agree creeds are not to blame; it's the mindset. ...
This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper!

Is it that you claim that, due to our mindset, you can't experience the Advocate, or that the Advocate doesn't come? In case of either, how did you determine it's the mindset and not something else?
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« Reply #31 on: January 05, 2009, 06:45:38 PM »


I agree creeds are not to blame; it's the mindset. ...
This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper!

Is it that you claim that, due to our mindset, you can't experience the Advocate, or that the Advocate doesn't come? In case of either, how did you determine it's the mindset and not something else?

And if "he" does come, how does one know that it is "the Advocate" and not Satan disguised as an angel of light?
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« Reply #32 on: January 05, 2009, 06:49:17 PM »


I agree creeds are not to blame; it's the mindset. ...
This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper!

Is it that you claim that, due to our mindset, you can't experience the Advocate, or that the Advocate doesn't come? In case of either, how did you determine it's the mindset and not something else?

And if "he" does come, how does one know that it is "the Advocate" and not Satan disguised as an angel of light?

I wouldn't know that. I'm still waiting for the diagnose, the recipe and the proposed medicine.
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« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2009, 07:30:15 PM »

JNorm

I agree creeds are not to blame; it's the mindset. "I must go away so that the creed may come to you". The first Christians had no creeds whatsoever; but they still appeared to possess something of value. Now this doesn't mean that I am opposed to any part of the Nicene Creed. Every letter is correct, and I'm not qualified to agree or disagree with any of it.  The problem I'm outlining is not a dogmatic one. Imagine you are reading a newspaper ad for a fine restaurant downtown. Is this the same thing as actually being seated there and enjoying a meal? Whatever possession the Lord entrusted with Peter, Luke, Paul, and John it must have been the real deal and not just some story about it. And it was tangible enough to be martyred on account of it. This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper! We need something to strengthen us in this life so we can stay focused on salvation. An amnesic Church cares about correct doctrine. A living Church embodies these doctrines and therefore has little need for an abstract Christ. Someone mentioned that orthodoxy doesn’t lend itself very well to evangelism or spreading of the Word. Why is that?


I understand you are frustrated and have been so many times myself.  I have found that when I feel I was lacking something, it was more because I lacked *doing* something. 

Please don't go off and read theology.  IMHO that's the wrong road.

Read http://www.amazon.com/Way-Pilgrim-Walter-J-Ciszek/dp/0385468148/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1231196068&sr=8-1.

It's $10 from Amazon and I'm fairly certain your priest, library or local book store will have a copy.

I can't give you any answers.  I can tell you that the only time I feel centered is when I stop looking outside my life for the problem(e.g., the Church, the country, etc.) and start praying, "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, be merciful to me a sinner." 

I'm not sure there is a better creed than that, at least from my perspective.  A lot of that other stuff is pretty technical, although not unimportant.

That's just me.
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« Reply #34 on: January 05, 2009, 07:35:38 PM »



In the same way, we can't know Christ apart from those who saw him, and we can't know them apart from those who passed this knowledge down in public. The creeds are simply the succinct treatments of these experiences.

Without creeds, we could not know Christ in order to have this spiritual experience of him. We can only be focused on salvation within the ark of salvation which is the Church. Otherwise, we will have "mysticism" without the real Christ. It's no wonder there are so many sects that claim a direct and pure "spiritual" experience of God.

Fr. Anastasios

I'm sincerely happy that orthodoxy is ultimately working for your life, and I look forward to learning much from you. However, the point here is that not everyone has been so fortunate.

Secondly, I do not believe that creeds reveal anything of Christ or the economy of salvation. This idea seems almost a reversal of everything I've learned so far. The Holy Spirit reveals all these things starting with Man's fallen nature, and the character of sin. The Holy Spirit then sends him on a quest to seek out his Saviour, and provides him with discerning powers so that he is not easily led astray. Again, without the aid of the Holy Spirit the contents of the Nicene Creed read like gibberish. True, those who knew Christ preserved His memory, His death and Resurrection, but this is not recorded history in the usual sense. The Death and Resurrection of Christ is also an experience - yes, for us as well - otherwise who apart from these first witnesses could be saved by it? If Christ dies and rises for us also, 2000 years later, then this must also be accredited to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, you have helped me clarify my question: Where is the Holy Spirit?
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« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2009, 07:47:55 PM »

c38-you make it sound like the trinity is three individuals rather than three and one. You also seem to make the Holy Spirit our primary helper in salvation.

"The Father is my hope
The Son is my refuge
The Holy Spirit is my protector
All Holy Trinity Glory to Thee"
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« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2009, 07:52:50 PM »

Thank you, you have helped me clarify my question: Where is the Holy Spirit?

Where is God? What is time?
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« Reply #37 on: January 05, 2009, 08:11:06 PM »



In the same way, we can't know Christ apart from those who saw him, and we can't know them apart from those who passed this knowledge down in public. The creeds are simply the succinct treatments of these experiences.

Without creeds, we could not know Christ in order to have this spiritual experience of him. We can only be focused on salvation within the ark of salvation which is the Church. Otherwise, we will have "mysticism" without the real Christ. It's no wonder there are so many sects that claim a direct and pure "spiritual" experience of God.

Fr. Anastasios

I'm sincerely happy that orthodoxy is ultimately working for your life, and I look forward to learning much from you. However, the point here is that not everyone has been so fortunate.

Secondly, I do not believe that creeds reveal anything of Christ or the economy of salvation. This idea seems almost a reversal of everything I've learned so far. The Holy Spirit reveals all these things starting with Man's fallen nature, and the character of sin. The Holy Spirit then sends him on a quest to seek out his Saviour, and provides him with discerning powers so that he is not easily led astray. Again, without the aid of the Holy Spirit the contents of the Nicene Creed read like gibberish. True, those who knew Christ preserved His memory, His death and Resurrection, but this is not recorded history in the usual sense. The Death and Resurrection of Christ is also an experience - yes, for us as well - otherwise who apart from these first witnesses could be saved by it? If Christ dies and rises for us also, 2000 years later, then this must also be accredited to the work of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you, you have helped me clarify my question: Where is the Holy Spirit?


First things first, man's nature is not fallen. Man's nature is from God and is inherently good. Man's person, however, chooses (most of the time) to remain in a state of separation from God, suffering from a sickness called sin.

The Holy Spirit did reveal the Creed to the Church. And the early Christians did have creeds. Creeds are statements of believe.

"Christ is the Son of God" is a creed.
"God exists in three Persons." is also a creed. And so on...

"True, those who knew Christ preserved His memory, His death and Resurrection, but this is not recorded history in the usual sense."

Can you clarify what you mean?
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« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2009, 08:18:25 PM »

First things first, man's nature is not fallen. Man's nature is from God and is inherently good. Man's person, however, chooses (most of the time) to remain in a state of separation from God, suffering from a sickness called sin.

This right here is the crux of the issue. I have not met an Orthodox person yet who believes we have a fallen nature. c38- Are you Eastern Orthodox? Did you ever have a point when you agreed with the statement above? Maybe you are just questioning the concept now?
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« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2009, 08:24:53 PM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome

I would like to revisit this post. Specifically the part I have bolded. I don't really understand. If you are asking questions and desiring an answer, how can you be uninterested in truth. And how can we ever give you the answer you seek if there is no objective truth?
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« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2009, 08:25:33 PM »

If personal truth is all that matters then nothing anyone says to anyone else amounts to anything unless both parties agree.
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« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2009, 08:56:02 PM »

Quinault

I've stated being orthodox twice, and you already know what I think about creeds and rigid formulations. It’s like reading an ad for a restaurant and confusing this for actually being there, remember? The orthodox police are illustrating this far more succinctly than my posts ever can. God bless the orthodox police   police

To answer Quiault directly, please recall what theory of truth I’m appealing to: “The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around”. What other truth are you expecting to find? One that condemns you instead?
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« Reply #42 on: January 05, 2009, 09:06:11 PM »

Quinault

I've stated being orthodox twice, and you already know what I think about creeds and rigid formulations. It’s like reading an ad for a restaurant and confusing this for actually being there, remember? The orthodox police are illustrating this far more succinctly than my posts ever can. God bless the orthodox police   police

To answer Quiault directly, please recall what theory of truth I’m appealing to: “The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around”. What other truth are you expecting to find? One that condemns you instead?


I assume you are discussin said issues with your priest then?
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« Reply #43 on: January 05, 2009, 09:34:03 PM »

and thanks to all of the contribuors, even if I only respond to a few
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« Reply #44 on: January 05, 2009, 09:56:34 PM »

Quinault

I've stated being orthodox twice, and you already know what I think about creeds and rigid formulations. It’s like reading an ad for a restaurant and confusing this for actually being there, remember? The orthodox police are illustrating this far more succinctly than my posts ever can. God bless the orthodox police   police

To answer Quiault directly, please recall what theory of truth I’m appealing to: “The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around”. What other truth are you expecting to find? One that condemns you instead?

It depends on how well the menu can illustrate the food. When we look at an Icon of Christ and pray to him. Are we than actualizing the icon. Symbolism bring the experience of god to us. When we pray with the icon the icon becomes the real thing. The two become one. I hope that makes sense.
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« Reply #45 on: January 05, 2009, 10:26:15 PM »

Quinault

I've stated being orthodox twice, and you already know what I think about creeds and rigid formulations. It’s like reading an ad for a restaurant and confusing this for actually being there, remember? The orthodox police are illustrating this far more succinctly than my posts ever can. God bless the orthodox police   police

To answer Quiault directly, please recall what theory of truth I’m appealing to: “The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around”. What other truth are you expecting to find? One that condemns you instead?


Maybe think of the Nicene Creed as being more of a menu.  You have to know what to order, right? 

Is there a particular reason that you are caught up on creeds?  I'm not sure I understand what you are looking for, or what the problem really is.  You ask where the Spirit is.  Are you asking if the Spirit is in the Orthodox Church?  I'd like to try and respond to help you, but I'm not sure how to respond because I don't quite understand what your crisis of faith is about.
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« Reply #46 on: January 05, 2009, 10:35:00 PM »

I have split off a tangent and merged it here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,19079.msg282120.html#msg282120
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« Reply #47 on: January 06, 2009, 12:39:36 AM »

Ok Guys, you're right we need some specifics. Let's start with creeds and the Christian conception of "truth", topics I know almost nothing about. My problem is that I'm not so sure I care much about the truth. If I really wanted truth I would pursue it in science or logic or something else. At least for myself, I don't believe I would ever label my hunger as a hunger for truth. When Jesus declares, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", this is not some protocreed as I have read it. On the contrary, it sounds more like he is asking us to abandon our false gods, including this dubious one we have been calling truth. "You want the truth? Let Me be your truth". It's a personal truth, not an objective one: truth found in the advocacy of Christ. The freedom of Christ will set you towards truth, not the other way around. Many Orthodox Christians (including myself) feel plowed over by this monolith of truth...and I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well.

Anyways, the point is not that Orthodoxy implies polytheism; simply that creeds may have attained this inordinate importance, at the expense of perhaps something more crucial for salvation.

thanks to the last few poster for their welcome

My response to this is two fold...

First, we are told in 1 Timothy 3:14ff the following:
Quote
4 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
So, apparently, someone way back when felt that the truth the Church proclaims is important.  Smiley

Secondly, as far as creeds go...
We hold only ONE creed.  The Nicene Constantinopolitan Creed.  This is the only creed that matters.  The others came after.  The others are not ours.

Welcome to the forum, by the way!! 

Greetings, and welcome to the forum C38.  Greetings Greek Chef.  I would like to add that the verse quoted above, is even more relevant to this discussion if quoted in the context of the next verse, a biblical creed:
Quote
14 These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; 15 but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:

      God[c] was manifested in the flesh,
      Justified in the Spirit,
      Seen by angels,
      Preached among the Gentiles,
      Believed on in the world,
      Received up in glory.
I Timothy 3:14-16

In fact there are many creeds in the bible itself, it's not hard to spot them.  They take on a certain linguistic and grammatical format, in a way that stands out from the context of the sections they're found in.  They can be discerned much like the way we differentiate between verse/chorus structure listening to folk songs. 

The practice of reciting an orthodox creed was even happening during the time when Jesus Christ was instructing His Apostles:
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13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 16:13-17

And this very same creed is repeated by one of the very first catecumens, the Ethiopian eunuch, as a condition for baptism:
Quote
36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
Acts 8:36-37

So for me it's hard to blame creeds for any wrongdoing.  They have their place in Christ's relationship to us now, just as they did with St Peter face-to-face.  That being said, they are not all that the Holy Spirit has deposited for our edification, though some people are content to analyze, defend, expand on and even perseverate on the content of creeds as if that is all that's necessary for them to be Christian.  Clearly though, the lives of the saints, their spiritual writings and sayings, the prayers and hymns they've left for us are also a part of the whole deposit of faith which is the mark the Holy Spirit on the people.  I relate to much of what you say actually.  In my case I've been through periods where I was mostly critical of people around me, disappointed that things in the church and the world are not different than they are and it seemed as if these things were the cause for an inner emptiness I felt.  These cycles can be an opportunity to seek God in a deeper and more meaningful way.  Perhaps, while asking for God's blessing, taking the time to open up your relationship with your priest, or read a spiritual work such as the Philokalia, or serve the poor, learn to play and instrument or sing or some other art, make an effort to understand God's creation in a better way through furthering your education or taking up a new activity like gardening - or something could help.  I don't know what to suggest, I'm sure you know yourself better than anyone here.  One thing I personally strongly believe is that I'm not given a life, a mind, soul, reason, free will to be on the sidelines, I must activate and participate.
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« Reply #48 on: January 06, 2009, 02:37:34 AM »

The first Christians did have a Creed; it was called the Rule of Faith, and St Ireneaus talks extensively about it.

If you had an aunt who did not know how to use the internet and was unable to speak on the phone, and you were too poor to travel to her, but her son were able to communicate to you the details of her existence, you would only know your aunt through the accounts provided by her son.

In the same way, we can't know Christ apart from those who saw him, and we can't know them apart from those who passed this knowledge down in public. The creeds are simply the succinct treatments of these experiences.

Without creeds, we could not know Christ in order to have this spiritual experience of him. We can only be focused on salvation within the ark of salvation which is the Church. Otherwise, we will have "mysticism" without the real Christ. It's no wonder there are so many sects that claim a direct and pure "spiritual" experience of God.
Expanding on what Fr. Anastasios said, or maybe just adding my perspective:

Creeds are not necessarily formal definitions of abstract concepts to be analyzed under the microscope of human reasoning, neither are they the very focus of our faith.  Creeds, rather, are formulated to protect true faith in Him whom the Apostles preached.  Living faith in Jesus Christ is what is most necessary; creeds only set protective boundaries around this.


BTW, c38, welcome to the forum. Smiley
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« Reply #49 on: January 06, 2009, 10:08:21 AM »

Once again, c38, I would emphasize living the life of an Eastern Orthodox Christian through:

  • A disciplined prayer life, including working through the Jesus Prayer
  • Partaking of sacraments every Sunday at Divine Liturgy, especially confession and communion
  • Fasting and almsgiving
  • Connecting with a spiritual father at either your parish or a monastery

Once you've perfected all that, then maybe all the intellectual endeavours should come. 

Orthodox theology is a *lived* theology, not something to just think about.  I'm not saying, "don't think."  I'm saying that you will be unable to grasp the theology if you will not grasp it with your body and your mind.  Since you say you are already Eastern Orthodox, I would hope you would put the faith you have into action and then worry about the minutiae of theological arguments.

Arguing about what's wrong with everybody else's creed or outlook won't get you what you seem to be looking for.
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« Reply #50 on: January 06, 2009, 11:36:40 AM »

Thank you Peter, GreekChef, Elos, Cizinec, and others. Things are moving along in a workable direction. Biblical professions of faith are certainly creed-like; they share some of the characteristics of creeds. And the earliest true creeds were “protective” in essence, rather than an attempt at defining all that is Christian. Nevertheless, we are accustomed nowadays to think of Christianity as somehow being demarcated by creeds. In my opinion this stance has come about from a mixing of various truth traditions – Greek philosophy, the scientific revolution, modern symbolic logic, etc. – each having something to say about “Truth”, and each influencing the ways we interpret and make use of the Nicene Creed. Early Christian (Jewish) Truth is yet another variety, and one we seem to have definite difficulties with today – i.e. “To know God’s love and forgiveness is to know the only real truth that matters”. For the first Christians, God’s love is the source and inspiration for what we are now calling truth, and it is absurd to ever believe that any formalism that came along afterwards could trump “what we have known and seen with our own eyes”.

Why *is this problematic for the Orthodox? Simply put, it is driving us away in droves, and will continue to do so until the matter is properly understood and corrected.
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« Reply #51 on: January 06, 2009, 02:03:45 PM »

Early Christian (Jewish) Truth is yet another variety, and one we seem to have definite difficulties with today – i.e. “To know God’s love and forgiveness is to know the only real truth that matters”. For the first Christians, God’s love is the source and inspiration for what we are now calling truth, and it is absurd to ever believe that any formalism that came along afterwards could trump “what we have known and seen with our own eyes”.

Why *is this problematic for the Orthodox? Simply put, it is driving us away in droves, and will continue to do so until the matter is properly understood and corrected.

I don't understand;  Huh What is driving the Orthodox away in droves? 

Do you realize that there are more tangible reasons for Orthodox leaving in droves besides formalism?  Must we list all the tangible reasons in this thread?
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« Reply #52 on: January 06, 2009, 02:22:21 PM »

Welcome to the forum, c38. One problem that I struggle with with Orthodoxy is the whole "vain repetitions" thing. Try as I might, I can't seem to make 40 "Lord have mercy" anything but useless repetition, even in my own prayer life where I can do it as the speed and tone that I want. However, I should say that I do the repetitions anyway, because I am praying under the assumption that part of the problem is with me if something seems amiss.

I see repetition in prayer as a form of focus. It helps me keep my mind from wondering, and it also helps me to meditate and ponder on what is said.

In that way, what comes out my mouth, is also meaningful to my mind.






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« Reply #53 on: January 06, 2009, 02:54:42 PM »

Welcome to the forum, c38. One problem that I struggle with with Orthodoxy is the whole "vain repetitions" thing. Try as I might, I can't seem to make 40 "Lord have mercy" anything but useless repetition, even in my own prayer life where I can do it as the speed and tone that I want. However, I should say that I do the repetitions anyway, because I am praying under the assumption that part of the problem is with me if something seems amiss. 

I still struggle with it, especially when I'm in front of a group of people doing the repetition (like during the Great Hours of Christmas and Theophany - 40x Lord, have mercy for 4 different Hours Services).

Monks are given bits of repetition as well, in their prayer lives - the repetition of the Jesus Prayer being the most well-known of these disciplines.  Of course, ultimately, the object is to worship God as much as possible.  However, the secondary object, which will aid us in the primary one (worshiping God), is to have the prayers become as indispensable a part of our lives as breathing; our Body breathes without conscious thought, and can still breathe when we chose to control it - each breath is to the glory of the body, providing it with life-sustaining oxygen, and giving it the opportunity to expel life-threatening toxins (CO2).  Prayer can serve in the same capacity for us: by not only memorizing prayer, but also by making it a part of our lives as integral to us as our bodily functions, we can be constantly glorifying God and warding off sin.  This is the essence of the prayer of the Heart, to integrate prayer into every moment of our existence and, though this discipline, attain oneness with our Lord.

I'm awful at doing it, but remembering this discipline, and this repetition's purposes, can be a great boost to our prayer life - more so by how it affects us after we've done the repetition.
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« Reply #54 on: January 06, 2009, 03:00:38 PM »

Do you realize that there are more tangible reasons for Orthodox leaving in droves besides formalism?  Must we list all the tangible reasons in this thread?


SolEX01

I suspect many of these "more tangible reasons" are symptons of something clandestine. It's going to take time to get this out in the open.
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« Reply #55 on: January 06, 2009, 04:48:13 PM »

My understanding is that "vain repetition" refers not to saying a prayer repeatedly in vain (as in no hope), but vain as in proud (look how pious I am).
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« Reply #56 on: January 07, 2009, 11:49:23 PM »

c38 wrote:

"To tell you the truth, I see only the hardened traditions and a toxic congregation. What is going wrong?

"This *immediate experience of God is lacking for many of us today. Where is the Advocate! Where is the Helper! We need something to strengthen us in this life so we can stay focused on salvation."

c38, I don't know what about your congregation is frustrating you. But many of your other questions are to vast to be fully explored online, let alone in a forum like this one. You sound like you are experiencing great spiritual turmoil. I would ask that you seek out your priest and share these concerns with him. Orthodoxy is an experiential faith - there's only a very limited amount that online discussions like these can teach you. Please, I would urge you to seek a spiritual father and raise these very serious and thought-provoking issues with him.

Now I'd like to comment on a couple of things you wrote:

"The first Christians had no creeds whatsoever; but they still appeared to possess something of value."

Yes, when the Apostles were gathered in the Upper Room, they were of one mind. Glory be to God! Unfortunately, after their ministry the church was beset by a number of heresies - Gnosticism, etc., etc., too many to name. It was in response to those heresies that the Church, in its wisdom, came to the conclusion that creeds were necessary - to state clearly what its position was on matters of faith.

"I haven't even bothered doing any homework on the bloody history of creeds and creed wars, many of you no doubt know it too well."

Yes, enough to know that to the many believers who died in defense of those creeds, they meant a lot!

"A living Church embodies these doctrines and therefore has little need for an abstract Christ."

Orthodoxy does not proclaim an "abstract" Christ. For example, we venerate Holy Icons because they proclaim the Incarnate Christ - the God who took on flesh and dwelt among us.

"Someone mentioned that orthodoxy doesn’t lend itself very well to evangelism or spreading of the Word. Why is that?"

"Someone" has not heard of Fr. Peter Gillquist - possibly the best Orthodox evangelist today in the U.S. "Someone" should read his book "Becoming Orthodox,"  which describes Orthodox evangelism that has been going on in recent decades in the U.S., glory be to God!  Grin
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« Reply #57 on: January 08, 2009, 09:39:05 AM »

Hi Eugenio

Thanks, I need a couple of days to respond and sound coherent. Like I said, it's "not the usual rant".
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« Reply #58 on: January 08, 2009, 01:44:03 PM »

It should be noted that every line of the Creed is taken from scripture:

I believe in (Romans 10: 8-10; 1 John 4: 15)
One God (Deuteronomy 6: 4, Ephesians 4: 6)
Father (Matthew 6: 9)
Almighty, (Exodus 6: 3)
Creator of heaven and earth, (Genesis 1: 1)
and of all things visible and invisible; (Colossians 1: 15-16) and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, (Acts 11: 17)
Son of God (Matthew 14: 33; 16: 16)
begotten (John 1: 18; 3: 16)
begotten of the Father before all ages; (John 1: 2)
Light of Light (Psalm 27: I; John 8: 12; Matthew 17: 2,5)
true God of true God, (John 17: 1-5)
of one essence with the Father, (John 10: 30)
through Whom all things were made; (Hebrews 1: 1-2)
Who for us and for our salvation (I Timothy 2: 4-5)
came down from the heavens ((John 6: 33,35)
and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, (Luke 1: 35)
and became man. (John 1: 14)
Crucified for us (Mark 15: 25; I Corinthians 15: 3)
under Pontius Pilate, (John 1: 14)
He suffered, (Mark 8: 31)
and was buried; (Luke 23: 53; I Corinthians 15: 4)
Rising on the third day according to the Scriptures, (Luke 24: 1; 1 Cor. 15: 4)
And ascending into the heavens, (Luke 24: 51; Acts 1: 10)
He is seated at the right hand of the Father; (Mark 16: 19; Acts 7: 55)
And coming again in glory (Matthew 24: 27)
to judge the living and dead, (Acts 10: 42; 2 I Timothy 4: 1)
His kingodom shall have no end; (2 Peter 1: 11)
And in the holy Spirit, (John 14: 26)
Lord (Acts 5: 3-4)
the Giver of life, (Genesis 1: 2)
Who proceeds from the Father, (John 15: 26)
Who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, (Matthew 3: 16-17)
Who spoke through the prophets; (I Samuel 19: 20; Ezekiel 11: 5, 13)
In one, (Matthew 16: 18)
holy, (I Peter 2: 5, 9)
catholic (Mark 16: 15)
and apostolic Church; (Acts 2: 42; Ephesians 2: 19-22)
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; (Ephesians 4: 5)
I expect the resurrection of the dead; (John 11: 24; I Cor. 15: 12-49)
And the life of the age to come. (Mark 10: 29-30)
Amen. (Psalm 106:48)

(Taken from http://fr-d-serfes.org/orthodox/holyscripturereferencestothecreed.htm)
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« Reply #59 on: January 08, 2009, 03:48:44 PM »

Thank you HandmaidenofGod, this is an excellent reference.

But once again, I'm not too worried about the accuracy of dogma.
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« Reply #60 on: January 09, 2009, 01:31:43 AM »

Thank you HandmaidenofGod, this is an excellent reference.

But once again, I'm not too worried about the accuracy of dogma.

I am having trouble understanding what your problem is. Whatever problems there may be in the Orthodox Church are not with the teachings of the Church, but rather with the laity. People choose to remain uneducated about their faith, misinterpret the meaning of things, and walk away in frustration. Fortunately, resources are available for the laity to learn about their faith if they choose to do so. The choice is theirs.
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« Reply #61 on: January 10, 2009, 12:26:08 PM »

Dear Friends:

I don't think we need to be offended or defensive about c38's inquiries. Her concerns are shared by far many more than we might realize.

While we hold that our Orthodox faith is holy, pure and complete, we must admit that we Orthodox Chrisitians, have so often failed, individually and communally to live up to the faith we profess! This is a simple; but profound truth, and perfectly obvious, if we are honest with ourselves. We need look no further than the headlines, TV or our own internet sites to see this.

We know that there have been serious scandals in our midst - the OCA financial scandal (and what has been reported is not all of it); sexual abuse by clergymen. This past year we saw Orthodox Christians bombed and driven from their homes by other Orthodox Chrisitians !  Vladimir Putin once told Presdient Bush that his baptismal cross was his most prized possession. This year Putin told French President Sarkozy that he wanted to kill another Orthodox Christian, Georigan President Saakashvili :" I want to hang him by the balls" . Whose conscience can bear this kind of hypocrisy without shame ? ! ?

Here in America, we have too often failed our church and our children. Those of my generation (50-ish) know that 80-90 % of our contemporaries left the church. Universally, the reason was "I don't get anything out of it" or "It doens't mean anything to me". While we were encouraged to be successful (ie be American) the church was maintained as a bastion of a foreign language or culture. We are just now waking up to the fact that our children have left the church in droves. The OCA last year admitted it's membership dropped by 50% over the past 3 decades., and its administration was living of the bequests left by deceased members! If we reasearched carefully , we would see a similar picture in many of the jursdictions. The GOA commissioned a Gallup poll of the Archdiocese somewhere around 1990, I think. They found that the average parishioner was over 70 years old. If it was not for the influx of converts, most of our churches would have closed a long time ago.

We need to admit our failures, in order to be honest and faithful to our church. Even the Apostles failed and sinned. St Peter denied Christ three times. The Apostle Paul said : ... I am carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do. "  St Jon said: "If we say we have no sin, we are liars and the truth is not in us"

Let's be honest about our failures, while upholding the truth of the Gospel. St. Seraphim said: " learn to be at peace, and thousands round you will be saved."

Best wishes to all

Francis Frost
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« Reply #62 on: January 10, 2009, 12:32:34 PM »

We need look no further than the headlines, TV or our own internet sites to see this.

Dear Francis,
Do you see any problem with using virtual reality to judge reality?
I don't know about you, but the way I experience the Church is in the Church, not on a screen with a 15 Amp plug on the end of it.
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« Reply #63 on: April 14, 2009, 01:38:48 AM »

Dear C38,

Based on what you have been posting it sounds to me like you are experiencing the formal doctrinal traditions of the faith without any recourse to it's charismatic tradition...the personal incarnate don't need no creeds but live them anyway kind of thing. You don't have an Orthodox spiritual context in which to evaluate your experience in your parish. You know that real spiritual life must exist not just its forms. You know real spiritual people must exist not just their biographers. You are surrounded by a hundred liturgical references to the sweetness of honey but not one taste of it is to be found? And so far as you can see neither has anyone else, indeed it looks like half the time they were baptized in vinegar for all the mug puckering sourness in their lives. Your experience of Orthodox parish life has been a full body immersion in the pickle barrel.

What you are looking for are lives who are both Orthodox and make you long for Christ...people whose lives in Christ are their own justification, not just their intellectual assent to a 1500 year old creedal statement.

Am I mistaken?

If not I have a very simple suggestion. 1. Quit judging your parish, even if your assessment is right. Pray for them instead. 2. Get hold of some recent lives of saints from the past couple of hundred years: St. Seraphim of Sarov, St. Isadore, St. John of Kronstadt, St. Arsenios, St. Silouan, St. Joseph the Hesychast, and read the lives of their disciples some of whom will surely soon by canonized, Elder Cleopas, Elder Sophrony, Elder Porphyrios, Elder Paisios, Mother Gavriella, Fr. Arseny, St. Elizabeth the New Martyr, to name a very few. Pray. Ask these saints and holy elders to teach you what the faith is, how it lived, and doubtless one by one books of their lives and teachings, even their icons will start to come to you, and you will learn what this missing part of Orthodox looks like when lived.  Then you will be equipped recognize it in others more easily, and you may indeed learn of places you can go to make a connection with such souls as these who live in our own time.  The Lord may even lead you to another parish.  But until then, let me recommend the lives of recent saints and holy elders.

Just speaking for myself I recent finished reading a book about the pastoral care of Elder Pasios called The Young Man the Gurus and Elder Pasios. I had to keep tissues handy, and many times I had to pause to reflect, to pray, and to dry my eyes.  A book about Elder Porphyrios which I read shortly thereafter affected me similarly.  When I was first becoming Orthodox, it was the life of St. Seraphim that convinced me, not a boat load of theological arguments, as useful and helpful as those were. 

If you want to see the living Orthodox faith, make connections with the lifes of those who lived it, and in time they will help you find connections to those who live it still and who can start you one your way to living it as well.


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