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Author Topic: Where Does Divisiveness Come From?  (Read 1751 times) Average Rating: 0
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Asteriktos
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« on: September 21, 2003, 03:57:40 PM »

Often "traditionalists" are painted as being divisive, schismatic, "of irregular status," and so forth. I find this curious on all counts. Let's consider:

Divisive? First some groups deviate from the faith. Traditionalists react, first with words, then with actions. What is the response to the traditionalist counter? Hatred. Harsh polemics (guised in self-righteous talk about love and unity). Even murder. Hey, if they won't agree with you, bump them off: that's been the solution in more than one situation. The traditionalists therefore have no problem drawing more defined lines, even as others obviously have no problems trying to simultaneously 1) erase the lines pretending that there are no problems, and 2) oppress the traditionalists as divisive and unloving.

Schismatic? Obviously those who deviate from the faith are schismatic, not those who resist the innovations. The crazy thing is that people attack traditionalists for "breaking communion over small things". Huh? That's exactly what schism is! Breaking communion over a small, but fixable thing, before it turns into a much larger problem. The point of schism is to cut off a sick member so that they can realise that they are sick and come to a cure. Traditionalists are not schismatics, they are the ones who are trying to bring the schismatics (who happen to be a majority in some areas of the world) back into the Church!

"Of irregular status"? First, where did this term originate, I wonder. Sounds very... well... Ecumenical movement like to me. Sort of like "Canonical Orthodox Churches". ROCOR obviously has a unique status, as does many of the other groups in existence. What people don't realise is that ROCOR, Cyprian, etc. don't claim to be a new Church, they only say that they are the free or healthy part of their Church, while much of their Church is sick or in schism or somehow otherwise unorthodox. What I find particularly strange is when certain members of world Orthodox jurisdictions in the US, who had ROCOR bishops help consecrate their bishops and give them there beginning in America, say that ROCOR is uncanonical. Talk about cutting the legs out from under your own feet! The whole OCA situation is even stranger. They're granted autocephalous status by an uncanonical, soviet-created Church (a "status" which the strangely-praised Ecumenical Patriarchate still does not recognize to this day), and within decades have the arrogance to sound a note of offense when someone talks about an Orthodox Church in America that isn't centered and with its foundation in the OCA.

All of America is of irregular status, as Fr. Schmemann wrote long ago. Shortly before the OCA was granted autocephaly he showed exactly how irregular by doing complete 180's in some of his ecclesiological positions. And this is the man who many now look to as a leader and possible saint? Eek.
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Asteriktos
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Happy 450th birthday, Mr. Shakespeare!


« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2003, 04:36:10 PM »

Though this post is really a pot calling a kettle black. Sad
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« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2003, 04:41:22 PM »

I don't think people generally have a problem with 'traditionalists'. One of my closest priest friends is a ROCOR priest - and I'm a Coptic Orthodox. Both of our Churches are deeply conservative and traditional.

The problem that people have seems to be with 'self-styled' traditionalists. I am not suggesting that you are one. My dear ROCOR friend is entirely confident in his faith and does not seem to need to attack others to justify his position. He is just 'Orthodox'. He witnesses to his Traitional Orthodoxy by just being himself and being Orthodox.

Self-styled Traditionalists seem to be mostly converts. They seem to lack the stability that comes from being long-term Orthodox. They seem to lack the spiritual balance that Orthodoxy encourages, having what seems to be an obsession with just a few aspects of Orthodoxy.

My dear ROCOR traditionalist priest friend is such a witness that if I lived near him I would want him as my priest. Self-styled Traditionalists drive people away from Orthodoxy. They have the savour of phariseeism.

I am a great believer in Traditional Orthodoxy. Of course I am a member of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate so I have a different perspective, but the COP is easily as traditional as ROCOR. I am a Traditionalist. I read the fathers, more modern Eastern Orthodox ones too. And they are Traditionalists.

But they don't have the savour of some of the self-styled Traditionalists I have corresponded with over the last 15 years or so.

Real Traditionalist Orthodox have a winning charm, they bear witness to the faith in by the shining glory of God in them. They are tolerant of the weaknesses of others because they are confident in their own faith and seek to draw others to the truth by gentle words, not drive them away by harsh and judgemental condemnation.

God willing we will all be real Traditionalists. God willing those who would be Traditionalists will learn how to win others by tolerance, patience and gentleness.

Where does divisiveness come from? Surely when people on all sides wish to be proved right above everything else. Proving that this or that Church is un-canonical, schismatic, irregular etc does nothing to healing any such divisions or winning souls for Christ. Proving that this bishop, or that patriarch is unworthy does nothing towards healing divisions or winning souls for Christ.

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2003, 04:47:37 PM »

If I might add. There is a difference between what a church might believe to be a necessary action - such as ROCOR and the MP - and the personal actions and behavior of members of such churches. I understand ROCOR's position vis-a-vis the MP, but for this position to translate into abusive and un-christian insults is without justification. My ROCOR priest friend prays earnestly for the union of ROCOR and MP, yet I have been on other lists where converts to ROCOR from Protestantism speak without charity and in a manner that repels.

So I have no problem with ROCOR etc, but it is the behaviour of some members that gives such groups a bad name.

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2003, 09:20:55 PM »

Quote
The whole OCA situation is even stranger. They're granted autocephalous status by an uncanonical, soviet-created Church

I don't think that statement is quite accurate.

The official Orthodox Church that existed in the old Soviet Union was Soviet-dominated and Soviet-oppressed, but she was not created by the Soviets. How was she "uncanonical"?

The Russian Orthodox Church was barely allowed to remain in existence. In fact, if Stalin had not needed more grassroots support during WWII, the Church may have been totally wiped out in the Soviet Union.

I don't mean to be overly critical, but it strikes me as strange that bishops who fled their dioceses (leaving many of their sheep behind) could be so critical of others who stayed and suffered under an oppressive communist regime.

All Orthodox Christians are "traditionalists". For some to claim that title exclusively for themselves is to imply that other Orthodox are not traditional. It is rather like the current Evangelical Protestant practice of referring to themselves - and no one else - as "Christians."
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2003, 01:29:19 AM »

Justin, a lot of your ranting is starting to sound like the Old Believers who thought Peter I was the anti-christ and that the MP in his day was an evil arm of a secular goverment (sounds familar, eh?) or the Melitian Schismatics who claimed to be the true church of the martyrs while evil imperial supported church had apostasized (sounds familar again).  The ROCOR is indeed in an irregular status because of the sad historical events that forced her ADMINISTRATIVE break in communion with the mother church.  But all churches of the diaspora are somewhat irregular because of historical circumstances.  But the ROCOR is not really the issue here.  The ROCOR has always been a moderate church and by it's communion with Serbia and Jerusalem most extremists in the ROCOR fall under their own anathemas.  When people go on rants to point out "traditionalists" are justified it usually tends to be justification for outright schism like the ROAC, ROCiE, HTM, etc.  If that is what you want so be it.  Your sects will be like the old believers within an hundred years (they are already starting to look like it now), but at the end of the day they won't be Orthodox.
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2003, 02:26:04 AM »

Dear friends,

Monk Paisios of Mount Athos (and of blessed memory) gave the following advice to converts from the western flavours of christianity.

"Don't read a lot of theological works, rather read the lives of the saints and the gospels."

This is a week paraphrase from my vague memory of something I read months ago in Greek. Father Paisios said it much better Smiley. I'm not in a particularly eloquent frame of mind at the moment, so I won't try and expound on what I believe is behind his advice as I will make a total hash of it, I think you should all be able to figure it out yourselves. I'll just say that the more I learn about Orthodoxy, the more I am appreciating his advice.

unworthy John.
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2003, 05:12:41 AM »

Good advice John.

We are often tempted, some of us anyhow, well me!, to substitute the study about things for the possession or experience of the thing itself. I can remember being in Senegal for some months in a remote northern town and I'd been left in a village on my own for a couple of days. I can remember being disappointed I hadn't brought a lot of my books on prayer - I was just starting out becoming Orthodox - when it struck me that I wanted to read ABOUT prayer rather than get on with praying.

And then it is so easy to substitute pride in having read about things rather than humilty in having been given grace to enter into them.

It's a constant temptation for me, and that's why I guess Orthodoxy isn't so big on Systematic Theology - that's just head knowledge as we'd say in evangelicaism.

Peter Theodore
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2003, 08:03:18 AM »


The problem that people have seems to be with 'self-styled' traditionalists.
Self-styled Traditionalists seem to be mostly converts. They seem to lack the stability that comes from being long-term Orthodox. They seem to lack the spiritual balance that Orthodoxy encourages, having what seems to be an obsession with just a few aspects of Orthodoxy.

Peter Theodore

Peter Theodore,

I agree with you.  On my conversion to Orthodoxy, this is something I have tried to avoid and always mention in my prayers.
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« Reply #9 on: September 23, 2003, 11:36:59 PM »

Often "traditionalists" are painted as being divisive, schismatic, "of irregular status," and so forth. I find this curious on all counts.

Well, this lumps a lot of dissimilar things together.

"Traditionalist" covers a lot of territory, especially once you leave Orthodoxy and apply the word more generally. Anglican traditionalists, for instance, may or may not be divisive-- after all, divisiveness is certainly not an Anglican tradition.

And I think that this provides one hint, in that it seems to me to be important how traditionalism relates to the polity in which it resides. To hammer away on an example I'm sure people are tired of: ROAC exists because it is traditionalist. It makes its version of tradition a point upon which to base schism. So yes, I'd have to say that they are  divisive and schismatic in being traditionalists.

Now I think the situation with regards to ROCOR is much more complex.  It doesn't have the same sort of origin. At the same time the ROCOR situation does seem to me to require evaluation at present within the greater question of American Orthodox polity and practice. To make a long story short, it seems to me that its history and resulting polity make it a natural residence of traditionalists, and that therefore the continuation of that polity tends to embrace a traditionalist rationale. But this is not as blatantly separatist as the ROAC position; ROCOR can function as a place to be separate, but that's not quite the same thing.

Is this making any sense?
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« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2009, 08:29:35 PM »

The discussion about who is and isn't in the Orthodox Church has been moved here:
http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,20520.0.html
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