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David Young
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« Reply #315 on: February 04, 2009, 02:14:59 PM »

Archbishop Anastasios, himself a Greek ...

I have read some of his autobiographical writing and I found him an impressive man.

As a matter of interest, it has been said that if he said in Greece the things he says in Albania, he wouldn't get away with it. I cannot comment on whether this is true.
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« Reply #316 on: February 04, 2009, 02:45:56 PM »

Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"

...The South Albanians alone neither troubled to do this nor to translate the Scriptures. They left all Church matters in Greek hands, and threw in their lot with the Greeks when the final split between the two Churches took place … A large proportion of the priests are Greek, and there is a tendency to replace Albanians by Greeks in the higher posts. Sermons in Albanian are strictly prohibited.

Orthodox Good Friday was very solemn, and everyone flocked to church in black. Avlona has a large Christian population, all Orthodox. The service lasted the whole day; a painted crucifix, draped with black, stood in the middle of the church, and each one kissed the foot on entering. Halfway through the service it was removed, and a table put in its place, on which lay a bier, covered with a black cloth, painted with the body of the dead Christ, for no images are allowed by this church. Two priests carried the bier round the church on their heads, preceded by an incense-bearer, walking backwards, and followed by a procession. The service was all in Greek, and the singing a tuneless nasal yowl. In the late evening the church was crammed to suffocation, and as each one held a lighted candle, it was a glare of yellow light and foggy with smoke. ... The raucous voices, barbaric music, and gaudy, shabby trappings, dim through the smoke, made a dramatic scene which culminated when the priests lifted the bier and carried it from the church; there was a wild scramble of men and boys, who all strove to shove a shoulder under it, if only for a second, as it was borne all round the building, and the whole congregation followed with twinkling candles.

- “The Burden of the Balkans”, by M E Durham (Thomas Nelson, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, & New York)

The Christian Albanians of the south belong to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and here a Greek bishop once even excommunicated the Albanian language, and priests taught that it was useless to pray in Albanian, as Christ does not understand it.

- “People of All Nations” Vol I, page 58 (London: Educational Book Company, ed. J A Hammerton)

Blessing of the Waters. Orthodox custom... takes place on Epiphany, January 6, every year, and is symbolic of the baptism of Christ. It is known to the Orthodox Church as the Great Consecration. The officiating priest plunges a cross into a river and it is retrieved by eager bystanders, usually young men, who dive into the icy water after it. The first person to retrieve the cross is considered particularly lucky. The wet cross is used to sprinkle the now holy water over the believers as a blessing. Water from the river, sea or harbour in question is then considered consecrated for that year... Diving for the cross is also known in the isles of Greece...

- "A Dictionary of Albanian Religion, Mythology, and Folk Culture" Robert Elsie (New York University Press, 2001)

I hasten to add that I could cite equally foolish practices from churches that call themselves Protestant, and not for a single moment am I suggesting or suspecting that your personal religion is like all this. My contention is this: that what we call accretions, and you call the fulness of the faith, carries the risk of obscuring Christ by beliefs and practices which are not found in scripture.


Aside from the whole language issue, how do any of the above practices you cited take away from Christ? If anything, all the practices you cited point towards Christ.
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« Reply #317 on: February 04, 2009, 02:51:20 PM »

Christ is the apostle sent by the Father, ...

Excellent pieces of writing, but I didn't espy a single word in any of them about priesthood. Are you and I misunderstanding each other here? using the same words with different meanings?


I've had some time to post a little on this.  Lord willing, more coming.

To understand Apostolic Succession, you have to first know, who is an Apostle.

First, there is Christ Himself, the font of the Apostolate and the priesthood.

Hebrews 3:1 ὅθεν, ἀδελφοὶ ἅγιοι, κλήσεως ἐπουρανίου μέτοχοι κατανοήσατε τὸν ἀπόστολον καὶ ἀρχιερέα τῆς ὁμολογίας ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦν,
Therefore, holy brothers, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus
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« Reply #318 on: February 04, 2009, 03:57:57 PM »


1) By what objective criterion do you conclude that Mormonism is a sect?  And that it does not have a just claim as one of Christ's churches?

Mormonism adopted the name of Jesus Christ in their title in the recent past in order to attract waylayed Christians to their Church.  There are levels of wisdom in the temple that you earn as an active member.  The ultimate goal of a Mormon is to become a god.  God himself, was once mortal according to this cult.  He had two sons, can you guess their names?  Jesus and Satan.  Both tried to come up with a plan to save the human race and allow them to become gods.  Satan's plan was tossed aside for that of Jesus.  You must work towards temple status on this earth and then continue in the afterlife to work towards becoming a god.  This is why Mormons believe that they can convert the dead and keep such an amazing genealogy.

Their faith, much like Islam, is all based on the testimony of one man.  This same man (Joseph Smith) is coming back to judge the living and the dead in one of the south western US states.  Joseph Smith was given the information (which is a parallel to Masonic wisdom and practice) from space travelers, who themselves are on their way to becoming gods.  Also like Islam, they append the faith to an Old and New Testament foundation.  Mormonism has nothing to do with Christ being the savior and the only way to the Father.  Satan is just a poor soul that always loses out when it comes to impressing the gods to his cool brother, Jesus.  God the Father earned his post among other gods starting out as a humanoid on another planet.

Does this sound remotely like Christianity?
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« Reply #319 on: February 04, 2009, 04:43:46 PM »

As I wade through this thread, and even muse on my own experiences since becoming Orthodox, my only conclusion is that Orthodoxy is so BLATANTLY and POWERFULLY Christian that it is almost too overwhelming (and therefore, often misunderstood) for those who do not live it and experience it first hand. Every single act, ritual,gesture, whatever, directs one to Christ, in a way no other religion that I know of does. But it takes a spirit of humility to understand...
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« Reply #320 on: February 04, 2009, 05:35:16 PM »

quotes from several!

A number of you have asked for proof that ritual carries the risk of ritualism, and have requested examples of those who have fallen into that risk, presumably of named persons. Of course that is something that cannot be done, for God alone can see the heart. You ask the impossible. The principle can be proved from scripture, both Old and New Testaments, where people worshiped God with their lips but their hearts were far from him: doing the right rite, but not believing and obeying Him. I also gave an example from a Baptist church near here, though without naming it. But you can't expect me to write, "Brother So-and-So is a hypocrite really, you know," or "Mrs Bloggs hasn't a clue what her religion is really all about, she just goes through the motions." Even if I did - which I wouldn't - you'd probably come down on me like a ton of bricks. No - you ask the impossible. But I think the principle is proved in Holy Writ - and I dare say the Fathers have things to say about such people too.

What I can say is this - and I know I have said it before. Try for a moment to think of things the other way round. Imagine you have been an Evangelical all your life. (Some of you were, till you became Orthodox.) So here you are, brought up from the cradle in our minimalist style of church life - plain, unadorned buildings; pastor in the same sort of clothes as any other man; ordinary bread roll from the baker on the Communion table; and so on. And suddenly you encounter Orthodoxy. One of you wrote a few lines further up that Edith Durham (who was English) wrote as she did about Orthodoxy because she didn't know or understand it. Yet she is widely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Albanian culture, and gained the affection and respect of the Albanians - even though they didn't understand her all the time either ("Why do you wear a straw hat on your head, Miss Durham? Is it part of your religion?").

Anyway, there you are, a good, life-long Evangelical, and you visit Albania, Greece or wherever for the first time and encounter Orthodoxy. You know from scripture that a man can go through the motions of worship without knowing the Lord, and here you see one of the most developed, symbolic rituals ever devised. So how do you react? You assume that the greater the ritual, the greater the risk of ritualism. I submit that regarding some of the worshippers you would be right, that they have fallen into the trap of ritualism, of a superstitious attitude towards the rites  - but it cannot be proved, of course. You  believe it would be mistaken, and that they all know perfectly well what they are doing, what all the ceremony and symbolism means, and that they have spiritually entered into the inner divine meaning and experience of it all. But just as I cannot prove that some do it, neither can you prove that none does it. As the scripture somewhere testifies, "the Day will reveal it."

That you understand the meaning of it all I do not question; that all cradle Orthodox do, and that they find a personal union with Christ, I doubt. Dash it all! If you can be a Baptist and be unsaved, why can't a man be Orthodox and remain unsaved? But we must leave it: it cannot be proven either way. Neither of us can append QED to his post.
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« Reply #321 on: February 04, 2009, 10:29:23 PM »


1) By what objective criterion do you conclude that Mormonism is a sect?  And that it does not have a just claim as one of Christ's churches?

Mormonism adopted the name of Jesus Christ in their title in the recent past in order to attract waylayed Christians to their Church.  There are levels of wisdom in the temple that you earn as an active member.  The ultimate goal of a Mormon is to become a god.  God himself, was once mortal according to this cult.  He had two sons, can you guess their names?  Jesus and Satan.  Both tried to come up with a plan to save the human race and allow them to become gods.  Satan's plan was tossed aside for that of Jesus.  You must work towards temple status on this earth and then continue in the afterlife to work towards becoming a god.  This is why Mormons believe that they can convert the dead and keep such an amazing genealogy.

Their faith, much like Islam, is all based on the testimony of one man.  This same man (Joseph Smith) is coming back to judge the living and the dead in one of the south western US states.  Joseph Smith was given the information (which is a parallel to Masonic wisdom and practice) from space travelers, who themselves are on their way to becoming gods.  Also like Islam, they append the faith to an Old and New Testament foundation.  Mormonism has nothing to do with Christ being the savior and the only way to the Father.  Satan is just a poor soul that always loses out when it comes to impressing the gods to his cool brother, Jesus.  God the Father earned his post among other gods starting out as a humanoid on another planet.

Does this sound remotely like Christianity?

Of course Mormonism is a sect.  That was never the question.  I know what Mormons believe, and of course it's not Christianity.  THat's not the point.

The point is the criterion by which we judge and the authority by which we judge.  As Orthodox, we don't judge by our personal opinion based on our personal interpretation of their theology in comparison to our personal interpretation of the Scriptures.  The Church judges in Her perfect wisdom and knowledge, not us.  The Church judges by the authority given to Her as Christ instituted.  There is no personal opinion on the matter of any one bishop, any one priest, or any one lay person. 

By comparison, David Young was making his judgment of their status as "sect" based on... what?  His judgment was based solely on his personal interpretation of their theology in comparison with his personal interpretation of Scripture.  Of course we agree with him that they are a sect, but we arrive at it by completely different means.
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« Reply #322 on: February 04, 2009, 10:54:50 PM »

quotes from several!

A number of you have asked for proof that ritual carries the risk of ritualism, and have requested examples of those who have fallen into that risk, presumably of named persons. Of course that is something that cannot be done, for God alone can see the heart. You ask the impossible. The principle can be proved from scripture, both Old and New Testaments, where people worshiped God with their lips but their hearts were far from him: doing the right rite, but not believing and obeying Him. I also gave an example from a Baptist church near here, though without naming it. But you can't expect me to write, "Brother So-and-So is a hypocrite really, you know," or "Mrs Bloggs hasn't a clue what her religion is really all about, she just goes through the motions." Even if I did - which I wouldn't - you'd probably come down on me like a ton of bricks. No - you ask the impossible. But I think the principle is proved in Holy Writ - and I dare say the Fathers have things to say about such people too.

What I can say is this - and I know I have said it before. Try for a moment to think of things the other way round. Imagine you have been an Evangelical all your life. (Some of you were, till you became Orthodox.) So here you are, brought up from the cradle in our minimalist style of church life - plain, unadorned buildings; pastor in the same sort of clothes as any other man; ordinary bread roll from the baker on the Communion table; and so on. And suddenly you encounter Orthodoxy. One of you wrote a few lines further up that Edith Durham (who was English) wrote as she did about Orthodoxy because she didn't know or understand it. Yet she is widely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Albanian culture, and gained the affection and respect of the Albanians - even though they didn't understand her all the time either ("Why do you wear a straw hat on your head, Miss Durham? Is it part of your religion?").

Anyway, there you are, a good, life-long Evangelical, and you visit Albania, Greece or wherever for the first time and encounter Orthodoxy. You know from scripture that a man can go through the motions of worship without knowing the Lord, and here you see one of the most developed, symbolic rituals ever devised. So how do you react? You assume that the greater the ritual, the greater the risk of ritualism. I submit that regarding some of the worshippers you would be right, that they have fallen into the trap of ritualism, of a superstitious attitude towards the rites  - but it cannot be proved, of course. You  believe it would be mistaken, and that they all know perfectly well what they are doing, what all the ceremony and symbolism means, and that they have spiritually entered into the inner divine meaning and experience of it all. But just as I cannot prove that some do it, neither can you prove that none does it. As the scripture somewhere testifies, "the Day will reveal it."

That you understand the meaning of it all I do not question; that all cradle Orthodox do, and that they find a personal union with Christ, I doubt. Dash it all! If you can be a Baptist and be unsaved, why can't a man be Orthodox and remain unsaved? But we must leave it: it cannot be proven either way. Neither of us can append QED to his post.

David, no one is disputing that there are some Orthodox out there who just go through the motions, so to speak.  Sure there are.  Just as there are some Baptist out there that do as well.  What we were asking you to prove was that the ritualism itself is what carries the elevated risk of causing this.  The closest you came in the way to proof was the reference to the OT and NT, and again you stated that this can happen in Baptist churches too.  So... it seems that the answer is as you stated... you can't prove it.  So the question is, why assert it, then?  I'm sincerely asking you to examine why, when you cannot prove the over-generalized statement you have made, you would think it to begin with.  Where did this come from?  What caused this?  Why do you think this?  Maybe therein lies the proof (or disproof) you are looking for. 

We do realize that people are unfamiliar with our way of life and worship.  Believe me, I am acutely aware of it, having ALWAYS been the outcast from first grade until I went to the seminary at age 22 for being so different.  What YOU (or Protestants in general, if you like) must realize is that just because you are unfamiliar with it DOESN'T MAKE IT WRONG.  It just means that you didn't know and are making a snap judgment based on first glance.  That's all.  Period.  The end.  I think we can all (myself included) admit that there is much out there that we don't know about, and just because we don't know doesn't make it inherently bad.   

Of course a person can be Orthodox and remain unsaved.  This is one of the MOST accepted thoughts in Orthodoxy!  It is exactly WHY we scream so loudly against the idea of OSAS.  Because we CAN remain unsaved.  It is why we don't get cocky and assume we are assured of salvation.  Because we CAN remain unsaved.  It's exactly what I was talking about before about constantly struggling in our journey of falls and rises... because we CAN remain unsaved.  Ritualism is just one way that we can remain unsaved... and you are kidding yourself if you think it's unique to Orthodoxy (which I know you said you don't... you just think it's MORE risky... again without any kind of proof, but we'll leave that aside for a moment).  Honestly, the fact that we CAN remain unsaved is one of the ideas that frightens me the most-- that I CAN lose the kingdom because of my repulsive sins.  It strikes awe and wonder in my heart and moves me to tears to think of God's mercy, that, in the terrible state of sin that I am in, He accepts my confessions and forgives me as a penitent and then allows me, his lowly handmaiden, to be united with Him by receiving Him in Holy Communion!

As far as risk is concerned, as we've stated before, everything in life carries risk when it is used out of balance.  In my Sunday School class, we've been talking about pre-marital sex.  Sex is a gift God gave us to enjoy, but when done out of marriage, it is thrown out of balance, and carries all kinds of risks... spiritual and physical.  All things carry risk.  The knee jerk reaction based on unfamiliarity is unnecessary.

So what it basically comes down to is that this is still a baseless generalization with no evidence to back it up.  I'm afraid it is simply propaganda, friend, that you have fallen prey to. 
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« Reply #323 on: February 04, 2009, 10:55:35 PM »

As I wade through this thread, and even muse on my own experiences since becoming Orthodox, my only conclusion is that Orthodoxy is so BLATANTLY and POWERFULLY Christian that it is almost too overwhelming (and therefore, often misunderstood) for those who do not live it and experience it first hand. Every single act, ritual,gesture, whatever, directs one to Christ, in a way no other religion that I know of does. But it takes a spirit of humility to understand...

Beautifully said, Rosehip!
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« Reply #324 on: February 04, 2009, 11:00:24 PM »


Aside from the whole language issue, how do any of the above practices you cited take away from Christ? If anything, all the practices you cited point towards Christ.

David Young,

I know that you attempted to answer the rituals question in your last post.  But I'm going to ask you to take another look at Handmaiden's question.  Again, maybe herein lies the proof (or disproof).  You thought we were looking for "WHO" fell away as a result of ritual.  We are not looking for who.  We are, in fact, looking for HOW.  As Handmaiden said, HOW do any of our rituals take away from Christ?  If you say that they distract, please explain HOW they distract.  This is what we're trying to get you to examine.
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« Reply #325 on: February 05, 2009, 12:31:18 AM »

quotes from several!

A number of you have asked for proof that ritual carries the risk of ritualism, and have requested examples of those who have fallen into that risk, presumably of named persons. Of course that is something that cannot be done, for God alone can see the heart. You ask the impossible. The principle can be proved from scripture, both Old and New Testaments, where people worshiped God with their lips but their hearts were far from him

The problem is reading scripture can be just as empty an experience.  I know plenty of atheists who study scripture who don't believe a word: the academies are full of them.  I myself have the problem of reading too much for apologetics, and worse yet, polemics, not enough for devotions.

As Satan showed in the Temptation in the Desert, he knows (savoir, wissen, scire, saber) his scripture, he just doesn't know (γνωρίζω, connaitre, kennen, cogniscire) it.
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« Reply #326 on: February 05, 2009, 06:03:40 AM »

MORE ON SUPERSTITION AND SALVATION

I think it is unlikely that we shall reach intellectual agreement on the matters we have been discussing. However, although you cannot agree with me as an Evangelical, can you at least begin to understand “where we are coming from”? Can you begin to see why, with our background and practices, Orthodoxy gives us the appearance of being encrusted with additional beliefs and practices which impede the way to the centre which is (we all agree) Christ himself? If we can understand each other better, valuable progress has been made.

If I may make a brief excursus into a personal practice, let me say that I am sure that some Evangelicals would frown or be horrified at one or two of my own religious practices, and would deem me dangerously at risk of sliding into superstition. I have made a point of going to pray at Dodoni, which was a place of worship in what is now northern Greece even before the Greeks arrived. Also, I have on a number of occasions taken a 2½-hour or so walk in order to pray at Rhos-y-beddau in the Berwyn Mountains, which was a place of worship at least as long ago as 3500 years. Why pray at pre-Christian sites where pagan rituals were enacted? Certainly not because I think it changes in any way God’s hearing or answering my prayers: but because these “superstitious” practices help me to make those times of prayer special: and in fact I usually do this sort of thing only at times of special need, even crisis.

I realise this is not the same as what you do, because you believe that your “accretions” (as I have called them) are part of Holy Tradition handed down initially orally from the Apostles; but the principle is the same, namely that outward acts can and do enhance our inward intensity, or (if you like) work a sacramental effect.

I can readily see that those who understand what they are doing in your Faith can indeed be helped by such ceremonies. But let me refer to Sergei Bulgakov's "Oration on the Day of Remembrance of the First among the Apostles, Peter and Paul":

And if in early times this preaching was directed primarily at external paganism, in the present day it is directed also at the paganism which arises within Christendom, at that theomachy and Christomachy which is taking place in the entire world...

Now I am quite aware that he is in no way addressing the matters we have been discussing: I draw your attention only to his belief that new paganism can arise within Christendom. I think we should be on our guard against it, for the risk is there.

Now there is a thread entitled something like, “Is there salvation outside of Orthodoxy?” Initially my question would have been the opposite: “Is there salvation inside Orthodoxy?” With your “superstitious accretions” as I saw them, your different use of words, especially the words save and salvation, with your lack of our emphasis on assurance of salvation, I wondered whether there was enough truth left within your church to save the soul. Then I began to read... You know the rest.

But let me share with you one other factor which convinced me that there is salvation inside Orthodoxy, for this line of thought may help you believe the same about us. There have been some impressive and moving posts on these threads about the persecution endured by Orthodox people under Communism, but in itself this proves nothing beyond their personal nobility, for Fascists, Communists and Moslems are ready to suffer and die for their creeds. But I have seen not only the steadfastness of many Orthodox under persecution, but also the active providence of God among them. I have bewailed the small amount of literature you have produced in English about these sufferings, but the little I have been able to get my hands on has contained striking instances of God’s close and effective involvement with you. As one post said, He has preserved you. He has been among you of a truth.

Now my point is this: if you were to read similar literature recording the sufferings of Evangelical people, you would find identical examples of God’s providence and preservation, both of individuals and of the churches as the Lord’s Body on earth. I cannot see these same events as being God in one case, and pure chance, or unaided humanity, or worse the deceiving Devil, on the other. I can draw no other conclusion that God has accepted people in both forms of Christianity.

Finally, there have been several posts on this thread which I have not yet had time to read, before composing this. I shall turn my willing attention to them later.
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« Reply #327 on: February 05, 2009, 07:37:16 AM »


Many thanks. This is superb. I have e-mailed the article http link to Albania and various colleagues in Britain.
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« Reply #328 on: February 05, 2009, 10:06:51 AM »

we don't judge by our personal opinion based on our personal interpretation of their theology in comparison to our personal interpretation of the Scriptures.  ... David Young ... his judgment was based solely on his personal interpretation of their theology in comparison with his personal interpretation of Scripture.  Of course we agree with him that they are a sect, but we arrive at it by completely different means.

You see why I wrote somewhere the other day that we're wrong when we're wrong, and still wrong even when we're right!

I wrote at length somewhere - probably repeatedly - about our adherence to hundreds of years of Protestant theology, and our regard for the pronouncements of the councils of the undivided church in the first ca 450 years of its existence. (That was the great theologically productive period; after that theological activity played a lesser part in the church's life.) I don't think I do base my theology on purely personal opinion, thus becoming Pope Wulfsige I or some such in my own mind. I am well aware of the nutty ideas that go round when people do that sort of thing. I think sects are sects because they differ from Christian theology. If you take Mormons, JWs, Christadelphians etc etc and compare them only with what Protestants and Orthodox hold in common, their beliefs are bent by that plumbline.
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« Reply #329 on: February 05, 2009, 10:37:04 AM »

What we were asking you to prove was that the ritualism itself is what carries the elevated risk of causing this.  ...Where did this come from?  ... Ritualism is just one way that we can remain unsaved... you just think it's MORE risky... again without any kind of proof,

1) Where did it come from?

Everyone says it: that is, everyone on my side of the fence. That is the starting point of where the impression comes from. I am answering the question, not justifying the answer.

2) Ritualism is just one way that we can remain unsaved

Then we agree that the risk is there.

3) any kind of proof

I doubt it is susceptible to proof in the sense of objective statistics. I think it could be argued that - if Christ is to be obscured - on balance Orthodoxy carries a greater risk of this happening by means of ritualism than Evangelicalism does.

4) So why do we Evangelicals think ritualism is a risk which is greater in Orthodoxy than it is in Evangelicalism?

You are, I think, leading us more deeply in theology than I have penetrated, and I shan't really believe my own answers. They are ideas for us to mull over. The question of why people are not saved is one I cannot answer. Some say it is simply because they are not among the elect. Even if you put them under the hebdomadal preaching of Billy Graham, John Wesley, John Chrysostom and the Apostle Paul in rotation, they would not respond. I am not saying I believe that, but it is an answer which many give.

But certainly your question penetrates to the matter of the effect of original sin. Has man's free will in regard to salvation been totally obliterated (the doctrine of 'total depravity') or does man retain the ability in his human nature to respond to the Gospel? I know the Orthodox answer, and I know the Augustinian answer.

I am not rambling off the point, or "side-stepping" as you sometimes feel I do. The question of why any person in a Baptist or Orthodox church remains unconverted draws its answer at least partly from one's view of the effect of the Fall.

But if, for the sake of argument, we concede the Orthodox / Arminian position, that man does retain the ability to respond to the Gospel, we are faced with a different set of questions: Why do some people desire to find God and others don't? And what aspects of the different forms of Christianity hinder that finding in those various forms? (Allowing, please, for a moment that there are different forms.) And to what extent does the attractiveness and clarity of the church's presentation of Christ play a part in that person's desiring to find Him, and actually finding Him?

Our Lord's parable tells us that there are things which spring up and choke the progress of the Word in our lives. Can religious ritual be one of them? If person A sees person B praying to the saints, kissing icons, using a dead or generally unknown language in ritual, being united with Christ by eating his body and drinking his blood, can person A be deflected from Christ into observing only these outer practices? I say that he can: I do not say that you have - indeed, your writings make me more assured of your salvation than you are yourself! But I am saying (a) that that risk does exist; and (b) that it is a stronger presence in your sumptuous liturgies than it is in our plain, minimalist churches.

That is partly why so many Evangelicals begin by assuming (and continue to assume) that probably virtually no Orthodox are saved at all! They have not joined this Net; they have not read your writers. But the ritual they see, and their lack of contact with believing Orthodox, plays a large part in sustaining their impressions.

Now I did write on one thread that the fault does not lie all on our side for our misconceptions, for it can be extremely difficult to get Orthodox people to respond to approaches from us, and so we do not get the opportunity we need to revise our perceptions. I listed some of the rebuffs I have had - but you only need to read Peter Gillquist to believe me. The Orthodox habit of saying that we are not Christians does drive us to the idea that Orthodox do not understand what a Christian is. What happens on this Net needs to happen much more widely, and in many other ways, especially in personal face to face contact. But I have also written that before.
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« Reply #330 on: February 05, 2009, 11:52:36 AM »

What we were asking you to prove was that the ritualism itself is what carries the elevated risk of causing this.  ...Where did this come from?  ... Ritualism is just one way that we can remain unsaved... you just think it's MORE risky... again without any kind of proof,

1) Where did it come from?

Everyone says it: that is, everyone on my side of the fence. That is the starting point of where the impression comes from. I am answering the question, not justifying the answer.

Well... that is an answer...  You realize that this answer displays a surprisingly shocking lack of thinking for oneself on your side of the fence?  Maybe someone should give some thought and research to it before continuing to spew it to others (I don't mean you, I mean those who don't bother to look into it and just repeat it).

Quote
2) Ritualism is just one way that we can remain unsaved

Then we agree that the risk is there.
Oh for heaven's sake... Smiley  I'm not agreeing to this in the way you want me to agree.  As I said, of course there is a risk, but no more so than there is in Evangelicalism.  In fact, I'd say less risk than in Evangelicalism.  In the Evangelical Churches, you don't really have to do anything in Church.  You come, listen, sing, raise your hands maybe (yes, pray, obviously--- I'm not saying any of this to be demeaning, I'm trying to make a point).  Orthodox worship involves ALL FIVE senses in an extremely intense way--- we hear the music and the liturgy (and sing along), we smell the incense, we touch the icons (venerating them and the priest's hand-- the living icon), we receive Holy Communion (touch and taste), we see the icons, Church, Liturgy, etc.  You get the idea.  This is specifically so that we DON'T just go through the motions.  It is difficult to be confronted, so to speak, in all sensory areas of our physical being, and NOT participate.  We worship Christ with our bodies, not just our souls.  We use the matter that He created and sanctified TO HIS GLORY, as He intended.  We HAVE to participate.  The Liturgy (litourgia) is the "work of the people."  If we don't participate, it doesn't happen.  It's not dependent on one person doing everything (the preacher in your case, or the choir) with everyone else just paying attention and singing along.  No.  Liturgy is WORK.  It's HARD WORK.  Most of us spend our Sunday afternoons taking our PLN (post liturgical nap-- an extremely common term here in the US, because it is well known that we are all tired after Liturgy from doing battle), in fact, because it IS such hard work!!!  How hard do you work in your worship, as a layperson?  I find it far more risky to fall away in a worship service where I don't have to do anything. 

Entire books have been written about how to participate in an Orthodox Liturgy.  My favorite is "Living the Liturgy" by Father Stanley Harakas.  You should read it.  You might find it quite enlightening and enriching, to see what depth of worship there is in the Liturgy, unmatched in any other worship service in any faith in all the world.


Quote
3) any kind of proof

I doubt it is susceptible to proof in the sense of objective statistics. I think it could be argued that - if Christ is to be obscured - on balance Orthodoxy carries a greater risk of this happening by means of ritualism than Evangelicalism does.
I'm not asking for statistics, David.  You gave what you felt were two anecdotal answers to the question (from Albania).  I presume you thought these two stories would answer the question.  In fact, they did not.  All they were were uneducated, biased descriptions of that ritualism.  But they did not actually answer the question.  What Handmaiden and I are saying is HOW do those services portray the risk?  The mere presence of ritual is not a risk!!!!  You'll have to show me how those particular rituals that you gave as examples are risky.  Up to now you have not done this.

Quote
4) So why do we Evangelicals think ritualism is a risk which is greater in Orthodoxy than it is in Evangelicalism?

You are, I think, leading us more deeply in theology than I have penetrated, and I shan't really believe my own answers. They are ideas for us to mull over. The question of why people are not saved is one I cannot answer. Some say it is simply because they are not among the elect. Even if you put them under the hebdomadal preaching of Billy Graham, John Wesley, John Chrysostom and the Apostle Paul in rotation, they would not respond. I am not saying I believe that, but it is an answer which many give.
I think the only answer you have been able to give to this question is, "because there is MORE ritualism in Orthodoxy, thus more risk."  But as I said, the mere presence of ritualism is not a risk.  You have to prove how OUR ritualism, as opposed to YOURS (which I'm sure you will admit that you have-- the refusal of ritualism in itself IS a ritual) is OBSCURING CHRIST.  This is what you asserted, this is what you must prove.  Not why some are saved and others aren't.  HOW DO OUR RITUALS OBSCURE CHRIST?  This is not a quantity question (who, or how many), this is a quality question (HOW do OUR rituals...).  Am I maybe being clearer than I was before?

Quote
But certainly your question penetrates to the matter of the effect of original sin. Has man's free will in regard to salvation been totally obliterated (the doctrine of 'total depravity') or does man retain the ability in his human nature to respond to the Gospel? I know the Orthodox answer, and I know the Augustinian answer.
To be honest, I'm a little lost with this line of thinking.  I don't see how original sin relates to ritualism obscuring Christ, so I will ask you to, for the moment, put it aside and stick to the current question.  Maybe another thread would be the place for discussion of original sin.

Quote
I am not rambling off the point, or "side-stepping" as you sometimes feel I do.
LOL, it does kind of feel like that's what's happening here!   laugh laugh laugh

Quote
The question of why any person in a Baptist or Orthodox church remains unconverted draws its answer at least partly from one's view of the effect of the Fall.
Again, I think we can leave this question to another thread for the moment so that we may answer what we have been discussing and move on to this later...

Quote
But if, for the sake of argument, we concede the Orthodox / Arminian position, that man does retain the ability to respond to the Gospel, we are faced with a different set of questions: Why do some people desire to find God and others don't? And what aspects of the different forms of Christianity hinder that finding in those various forms? (Allowing, please, for a moment that there are different forms.) And to what extent does the attractiveness and clarity of the church's presentation of Christ play a part in that person's desiring to find Him, and actually finding Him?
Okay, this question is a tad closer.  See below.

Quote
Our Lord's parable tells us that there are things which spring up and choke the progress of the Word in our lives. Can religious ritual be one of them? If person A sees person B praying to the saints, kissing icons, using a dead or generally unknown language in ritual, being united with Christ by eating his body and drinking his blood, can person A be deflected from Christ into observing only these outer practices? I say that he can: I do not say that you have - indeed, your writings make me more assured of your salvation than you are yourself! But I am saying (a) that that risk does exist; and (b) that it is a stronger presence in your sumptuous liturgies than it is in our plain, minimalist churches.
But we do NOT make the Gospel relevant... I say this because that is exactly what the Divine Liturgy is... It is the GOSPEL IN ACTION (in both the literal and spiritual sense).  WE do not make the GOSPEL relevant.  The Gospel is inherently relevant.  It is ALWAYS relevant, in all times and all places.  If it is preached earnestly, reverently, with zeal of faith and with love, then indeed, it will be welcomed into the hearts of the people.  This is where the sermon comes in, as far as our worship services.  That is why the Liturgy is structured the way that it is.  The first half is the instructive part-- with the Epistle, Gospel, and Sermon.  This goes a little bit to discussion of the purpose of the ritual, the purpose of the Liturgy.  Instruction is only ONE part.  And if the person who walked in off the street comes in to see communion and doesn't understand what's happening, then, frankly, they should have arrived earlier, at the beginning of the Liturgy.  We're not going to rewind, or stop and explain, because the person was late.  They should have gotten there on time (and this goes for Orthodox, too, as we all know punctuality is not something that is stressed in many Orthodox cultures).

Our responsibility is really to DEMONSTRATE the Gospel, which is EXACTLY what we do in the Divine Liturgy and in our daily lives-- and in a myriad of ways.  Our worship is only part of how we do it.  You cannot judge Orthodoxy based on one little thing taken out of context.  You must look at the whole.  The whole of the Liturgy, the whole of the lifestyle, the whole of belief.  A person walking in off the streets into an Evangelical service can be just as confused as you say one walking into an Orthodox service can.  The key is, what do they do about it?  THIS is the question we cannot answer.  That is up to each individual, which is why I will say:

Our responsibility is NOT to spoon-feed it to the people.  They must, have you have stressed so many times before, grab hold of it and believe themselves.

Quote
That is partly why so many Evangelicals begin by assuming (and continue to assume) that probably virtually no Orthodox are saved at all!
You know what happens when we assume...

Quote
They have not joined this Net; they have not read your writers. But the ritual they see, and their lack of contact with believing Orthodox, plays a large part in sustaining their impressions.
There's nothing we can do about that.  We are not going to change our worship because some people out there may get the wrong impression.  This is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

Quote
Now I did write on one thread that the fault does not lie all on our side for our misconceptions, for it can be extremely difficult to get Orthodox people to respond to approaches from us, and so we do not get the opportunity we need to revise our perceptions. I listed some of the rebuffs I have had - but you only need to read Peter Gillquist to believe me. The Orthodox habit of saying that we are not Christians does drive us to the idea that Orthodox do not understand what a Christian is. What happens on this Net needs to happen much more widely, and in many other ways, especially in personal face to face contact. But I have also written that before.

Yes, you have, and this is a discussion for a different thread entirely.  All that I will write here is that it goes both ways.  Did it ever occur to you that we don't go seeking out others to talk about our faith because, nine times out of ten it is met with nothing more than "you're going to hell!"  Why would we want to enter into dialogue that is, not, in fact, diologue, but rather a monologue of us saying what we believe and others, out of lack of knowledge and pure stubbornness and pride, refusing to hear it!?!  And, in our experience, nine out of ten approaches from your side of the fence have been for the purposes of judging and converting us!  Why would we want to expose ourselves to that?  We're happy where we are.  And we do the most important thing-- more important than approaching Protestants (which I still think is a completely ludicrous idea, no offense)-- we PRAY FOR THE UNITY OF THE CHURCH.  This is the single, most important, most powerful thing we can do.  Do YOU all pray for unity of the church on your side?  Probably not, since you seem to have the (albeit mistaken) idea that the Church is unified.  Again, a topic for another thread.  Oh, wait, that is this thread, isn't it?  Smiley  I actually forgot, we've gone so far from the original post.  Smiley

I want to say one other thing.  If a person falls into ritualism, where they are going through the motions and not worshipping with their heart, this is a personal problem unique to them.  The misuse or abuse of the Liturgy by an individual believer does not mean that the Liturgy itself is inherently bad.  This is what you have asserted, however.  That the ritual itself of the Liturgy is bad.  This is what you must prove.  To throw out the Liturgy (the thought of which makes me devastatingly sad) would be a PERFECT example of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, which many Orthodox will tell you is exactly what Protestantism did.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to the problems in the Catholic Church (which were ABUSES), and became more extreme and more extreme and more extreme as time went (I think Luther would be appalled at some Protestant practices and beliefs-- like the refusal to accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which he himself believed).  It totally threw out the baby with the bathwater.
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« Reply #331 on: February 05, 2009, 03:32:04 PM »

I wrote at length somewhere - probably repeatedly - about our adherence to hundreds of years of Protestant theology, and our regard for the pronouncements of the councils of the undivided church in the first ca 450 years of its existence. (That was the great theologically productive period; after that theological activity played a lesser part in the church's life.)

So you readily admit that you are also adhering to a theological tradition yourself?  By what criterion to you decide to accept certain councils and reject others?  Again, this is not a buffet.
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« Reply #332 on: February 05, 2009, 04:20:02 PM »

The question was raised in another thread, and I think it bears exploration, of the existence of a one true church...

David Young said the following:
Quote
Could it boil down to this? That we start from quite different ground, but each is assuming the other can be brought round to his/her own point of view.

Your belief is that there exists such a thing as "the only true church". I know I put that rather crassly, but you know what I mean.

I start from the belief that there exists no such thing as "the only true Church".

As far as I know, there are only two claimants to the title: Rome and Orthodoxy. (I am not aware of such bodies as Copts, Waldensians etc making that claim.)  Let me say at once that, if I believed there was such an entity as the only true church, I think you have a much stronger case than Rome and I would 'vote' for Orthodoxy every time. You win (I think) every argument...

...except the basic one, which is: Does such a thing exist in the first place?


As you know, our view is that - as you rightly say yourselves - the Lord has only one Body; but we believe that body is made up of all the redeemed, invisibly joined in union with Christ by his indwelling Spirit, whether they come to him through Orthodoxy (as you have, it seems (I say that, only because you rightly say that in the final analysis only God knows who is saved, not because I imply any doubt on my part of your salvation)), through Methodism (as I did), and so on.
Emphasis mine


I'm going to sleep on this tonight, as it is getting late.  But I would love to see responses to the question.  Anyone wanna take a stab at it?

God bless!
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« Reply #333 on: February 05, 2009, 05:04:35 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.
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« Reply #334 on: February 05, 2009, 06:37:30 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
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« Reply #335 on: February 05, 2009, 06:42:30 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
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« Reply #336 on: February 05, 2009, 06:44:40 PM »

So you readily admit that you are also adhering to a theological tradition yourself? 

Yes.

Quote
By what criterion to you decide to accept certain councils and reject others? 

Well... I suppose it's part of that theological tradition. Despite what people say about our personal papal aspirations, I for one am not following a uniquely personal conviction.

Quote
Again, this is not a buffet.

The creeds issued by early, ecumenical councils do seem to enjoy universal acceptance. As I wrote in an earlier post, the period till about 450 AD was the first theologically creative period in the early church. At this stage I know too little to explain in detail: to look back to them is part of the tradition shared by Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox.

Gracanica I was there a few months ago.
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« Reply #337 on: February 05, 2009, 07:03:38 PM »

this answer displays a surprisingly shocking lack of thinking for oneself ... someone should give some thought and research to it before continuing to spew it to others

I fear we are talking about different things. You may say that it is all in my imagination, but it seems to me that there are areas of the world - and have historically been periods of time - where Orthodoxy holds sway, where people are poorly educated or perhaps illiterate, where priests are poorly trained and in any case in very short supply, where preaching extends at a maximum to seven minutes and may in fact not be given at all, where churches have to hold services on a monthly rota because there are insufficient priests even for one service a Sunday in each church - but where the people are invited to go through certain rituals: baptism, Eucharist, chrismation, lenten fasting, liturgy &c.. I believe they can fix their faith upon doing the right thing, and not reach understanding of what it all symbolises. Especially in such circumstances, the greater the ritual, the greater the risk of ritualism - that is, of fixing one's hopes of salvation upon performing the outward rites.

When an Evangelical comes into such a community and finds he is publicly cursed from the pulpit, along with any kind-hearted people who offer him accommodation, and it is published that he is a son of Judas Iscariot, it is not entirely "a surprisingly shocking lack of thinking for oneself" if he erroneously concludes that the very system is not Christian.

But may I tentatively suggest that you and I will probably not reach complete agreement on the question of the risk of ritualism? Also I fear I may perhaps have written all I can think of on the subject without becoming crushingly repetitive. It would be better if we could each, with a reluctant sigh, cross out the hoped-for QED at the end of our post and take a glass of raki together in Christian fellowship.
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« Reply #338 on: February 05, 2009, 07:23:04 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.
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« Reply #339 on: February 05, 2009, 07:25:03 PM »

Dear David

A short post for now: Regarding the notion of "ritualism" and "accretions": Let me assure you that there is nothing in Orthodoxy (doctrine, theology or praxis) that is random or accidental. Everything has a meaning. Everything has a purpose. Everything is linked. Scripture, doctrine, iconography, liturgy, hymnody, vestments, everything. EVERYTHING. Pull out even one of these elements, and it is no longer the fullness of the faith. This is the great tragedy of the Reformation. In its attempt to remove the accretions of Rome (true accretions, such as the selling of indulgences, papal supremacy, etc), the protestant faith emasculated itself, becoming a shadow of the Apostolic faith.

Have you ever been to an Orthodox liturgy, David? Or, better still, to an Orthodox vigil (the evening service of Vespers and Matins), conducted in a language you can understand? Have you ever been moved to venerate an icon? Or at least to learn about what iconography is, and why it is an integral and indispensible part of Orthodox worship? Have you read and contemplated the priestly prayers intoned inaudibly during the Liturgy while the priest is in  the altar, prayers that those in the nave do not hear aloud? Have you read and pondered on each prayer a priest intones when putting on each item of his vestments in preparation for serving? Were you even aware of the existence of such things? If not, I, and others, can certainly help in this department.
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« Reply #340 on: February 05, 2009, 08:48:39 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.



You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

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« Reply #341 on: February 05, 2009, 09:08:15 PM »

[. I believe they can fix their faith upon doing the right thing, and not reach understanding of what it all symbolises. Especially in such circumstances, the greater the ritual, the greater the risk of ritualism - that is, of fixing one's hopes of salvation upon performing the outward rites.

Until we reach theosis we can only approach God through symbols and through the mysteries.  We cannot just reach Him and enter into His presence because of our sin. It takes time.  That should not discourage ritual, though.  I think you lack what ritual really is.  It is not an antiquated rule book.  It is a means by which we recreate or re-present, in sacred time, which encompasses past, present and future all together.  That is why the verbs, for the most part, in a Divine Liturgy or the Offices are in the present tense, because everything is happening or re-happening now and we are drawn into a timelessness that we can otherwise not recreate on our own.  This is God's work here. 

Frequently you have said that you and others who share your belief shy away from such things as "ritual" because it could possibly, not always, but has only the possibility in taking away from what is due to God and so you bound yourselves to individual whims.  How does what you do as an individual automatically give greater glory to the majesty of God than the "rituals" that we Orthodox use each week?  Individual whims are just as or even more prone to corruption.  But we have on our side the witness of the Church, the Fathers and the Spirit.   You have only your own individual belief which can change at a moment's notice.  Which approach, above all, lacks humility?
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« Reply #342 on: February 05, 2009, 09:39:36 PM »

He doesn't know what he is saying. They have rituals too. they baptize. Why baptize at all if everything is spiritual?
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« Reply #343 on: February 05, 2009, 09:48:34 PM »

...we see yours as encrusted with accretions which carry the danger of eclipsing Christ, making him harder to find and lay hold of...

[light hearted sarcasm] You know, I just love it when people make this assertion. [/light hearted sarcasm]

I would love for SOMEONE, PLEASE to PROVE this!!!!  Please, somebody out there, show me an Orthodox who can't see the forest for the trees, someone who can't see Christ for all the "accretions!"  Because, I'll tell ya, I've known a WHOLE lot of Orthodox in my time (having essentially been a member of five or six separate parishes and visiting countless others), and I have NEVER seen anyone who has had this issue.  It's a heck of an assertion without one stitch of proof.  You're opinion is that we can't see Christ, but you are not us, you are not among us, you are not of us, you know not our faith.  So, please, explain to me how it is that you know this. 

Just curious...  Smiley

The problem here is that we have totally different World Views staring at each other trying to make sense of practices through the lens of alien paradigms .

Orthodoxy is Eastern. It involves actual practice, physically not just mentally. The purpose is Theosis, to become more Like the Lord and to acquire the Holy Spirit.
If you were a Zen Buddhist ( Also "Eastern") you could not just read about meditating, or discuss meditating or agree that meditating is good. You would have to actually practice meditation.

In the West you believe, then go to Church to express your belief and gain encouragement to continue to believe. Perhaps you are motivated to develop in the Virtues and be moral and serve the poor etc. But there is no notion of Theosis, of actual transformation of body and soul by means of the salvic pratices of the Church. That is why so much of what we do looks like "Rituals" ( ie "Empty Rituals) to Protestants.

In the West, you build yourself up more and more like ascending a pyramid. Bigger.. better ..stronger... till you reach the top. It corresponds to what we find in secular society. It is also why some Protestant groups have morphed into little more than health wealth and happiness cults.

But in the East the paradigm looks more like a funnel, the inverse of a pyramid. We look to empty ourselves. Recede from the World more and more, living for others. It's an ascetical practice that does not compute to the Western mind set very well until they actually show up at our door step and are willing to immerse themselves.


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« Reply #344 on: February 05, 2009, 09:58:10 PM »

I think the other thing to take into consideration David is that a large amount of your exposure to Orthodoxy has been in a country whose government tried to anhilate anything to do with God. I think everyone here will agree that some of the churches in Albania may not be the best example of what a healthy Orthodox parish is like. (No offense intended to our Orthodox brothers and sisters in Albania.)

However, you live on an island where healthy Orthodox parishes do exist, and they are not under fear of being killed. (Always a good thing.  Smiley )

As others have suggested before, and I shall suggest again, you need to visit an Orthodox Church. If you can't get there for Liturgy, go for Vespers. (Vespers is my personal favorite service.)

Go and soak it all in.

Then come back and talk to us about empty ritual.  Wink  Grin

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« Reply #345 on: February 05, 2009, 09:58:22 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.



You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.



If you can't stand the heat...
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« Reply #346 on: February 05, 2009, 10:01:27 PM »

You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.

Not for nothing Mark, but you weren't really adding anything new to the conversation. The question of whether or not Orthodox believe if we are the One, True, Church is not the issue.

The issue is proving this fact to our Protestant friends.

You did nothing to advance the conversation in that direction, and it was obvious you haven't been following the conversation. If you're not going to advance the conversation, don't participate.

We're not here to declare the obvious.
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« Reply #347 on: February 05, 2009, 10:37:54 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.



You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.



If you can't stand the heat...


Yep. Real Christian of you.  Have you ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe I misunderstood what was going on?
But that's OK, don't make a mistake or my ORTHODOX BROTHERS WILL SLAM ME.  (what a wonderful example to the heterodox)
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« Reply #348 on: February 05, 2009, 10:43:49 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.



You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.



If you can't stand the heat...


Yep. Real Christian of you.  Have you ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe I misunderstood what was going on?
But that's OK, don't make a mistake or my ORTHODOX BROTHERS WILL SLAM ME.  (what a wonderful example to the heterodox)

But it was perfectly ok for you to slam your Orthodox brother in another thread, the Ecumenical Patriarch?
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« Reply #349 on: February 05, 2009, 10:47:42 PM »

I believe and confess that the Holy Orthodox Faith is the one True Church and Faith handed down, inviolate and pure from the Apostles.
(Anything else is just a cheap imitation, don't settle for look-alikes!) Smiley

   
That's nice.  So how does a mere statement of what you believe (and what I hope all Orthodox believe) actually contribute to this thread? Huh  You haven't provided any new arguments for why you believe as you do and why those who don't should.


I wasn't trying to do anything OTHER than making a statement about what I believe. 

1. Why?  Because I am blessed to realize the truth.
2. Why should those that don't?  Because any other belief is in error.
Others have provided cogent arguments why any other belief is in error.  Can you?
Otherwise, you're spouting nothing but your own prideful triumphalism.



You guys are a piece of WORK!  I give a profession of Faith to express my fervent belief in Orthodoxy, and I get slammed.  You should be ashamed of yourself.



If you can't stand the heat...


Yep. Real Christian of you.  Have you ever stopped to think that maybe, just maybe I misunderstood what was going on?
But that's OK, don't make a mistake or my ORTHODOX BROTHERS WILL SLAM ME.  (what a wonderful example to the heterodox)

But it was perfectly ok for you to slam your Orthodox brother in another thread, the Ecumenical Patriarch?

I apologized for that, and that was not intentional. Big Difference. I guess forgiveness is a problem here as well.
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« Reply #350 on: February 05, 2009, 10:56:28 PM »

C'mon, kiddies, grow up. What sort of an example are you giving to the non-Orthodox posters? Especially on a thread called "One True Church".  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #351 on: February 05, 2009, 11:33:46 PM »

MORE ON SUPERSTITION AND SALVATION

I think it is unlikely that we shall reach intellectual agreement on the matters we have been discussing. However, although you cannot agree with me as an Evangelical, can you at least begin to understand “where we are coming from”?

Having been there, done that, I can do more than begin to understand.

I've learned better.

Quote
Can you begin to see why, with our background and practices, Orthodoxy gives us the appearance of being encrusted with additional beliefs and practices which impede the way to the centre which is (we all agree) Christ himself? If we can understand each other better, valuable progress has been made.

Let's give a concrete example: worship.  I was shocked, when I went to an Evangelical service after years of Divine Liturgy, to realize how LITTLE scripture is in the "service."  Except for the sermon references to verse numbers (something I find annoying: the numbering is a medieval encrustation on the text. Rather than rattling off numbers, how about engaging the texts), not much Bible.  Fr. Constantine Nasr has gone through the entire Divine Liturgy, alongside which he places the Scripture from which the DL either reporduces verbatim or alludes to.  An extremely large part is nothing but scripture.  I recall that it was not until I had embraced Orthodoxy that it clicked that the Western Rite communion prayer "O Lord, I am not worthy to receive You, but only say the word and I will be healed," a response I loved whenever I visited friends' liturgy, was adapted scripture (Luke 7:7).

Quote
If I may make a brief excursus into a personal practice, let me say that I am sure that some Evangelicals would frown or be horrified at one or two of my own religious practices, and would deem me dangerously at risk of sliding into superstition. I have made a point of going to pray at Dodoni, which was a place of worship in what is now northern Greece even before the Greeks arrived. Also, I have on a number of occasions taken a 2½-hour or so walk in order to pray at Rhos-y-beddau in the Berwyn Mountains, which was a place of worship at least as long ago as 3500 years. Why pray at pre-Christian sites where pagan rituals were enacted? Certainly not because I think it changes in any way God’s hearing or answering my prayers: but because these “superstitious” practices help me to make those times of prayer special: and in fact I usually do this sort of thing only at times of special need, even crisis.

I realise this is not the same as what you do, because you believe that your “accretions” (as I have called them) are part of Holy Tradition handed down initially orally from the Apostles; but the principle is the same, namely that outward acts can and do enhance our inward intensity, or (if you like) work a sacramental effect.

You're beginning to understand.

Quote
I can readily see that those who understand what they are doing in your Faith can indeed be helped by such ceremonies. But let me refer to Sergei Bulgakov's "Oration on the Day of Remembrance of the First among the Apostles, Peter and Paul":

And if in early times this preaching was directed primarily at external paganism, in the present day it is directed also at the paganism which arises within Christendom, at that theomachy and Christomachy which is taking place in the entire world...

Now I am quite aware that he is in no way addressing the matters we have been discussing: I draw your attention only to his belief that new paganism can arise within Christendom. I think we should be on our guard against it, for the risk is there.

St. Simeon the New Theologian got his title just from dealing with this problem.  It is also the reason why see speak of convertion even after the water and chrism has long dried.  St. Sisoes the Great's life demonstrates convertion is not an event in Orthodoxy, but a process:
Quote
Unusually strict with himself, St. Sisoes was very merciful and sympathetic toward his neighbors, and received everyone with love. The Venerable Saint taught his visitors humility. Asked by the monastics whether for a monk who had fallen into sin one year of repentance was sufficient, St. Sisoes replied: “I believe in the mercy of our Man-loving God, and if a man should repent with all his soul, God will accept his repentance in three days.”

As Venerable St. Sisoes lay on his deathbed, the disciples gathered around their elder noticed that his face had become radiant. They asked the dying man what he beheld. Abba Sisoes replied that he was looking upon the Holy Prophets and Apostles. His disciples asked him “With whom are you conversing?” He answered that the Angels had come for his soul, and that he was asking them for but a little more time in which to repent. His disciples objected: “Father, you are not in need of repentance.” However, with great humility, the Saint replied: “Truly, I do not know whether I have even begun to repent.” As soon as he had uttered those words, his face became so radiant that the brethren could not dare look upon it. The Venerable Saint had just managed to relate to them that he beheld the Lord Himself, when his Holy Soul departed for the Heavenly Kingdom.
http://www.stjohndc.org/Russian/saints/e_0107c.htm

so we are well aware of the problem of the unconverted Christian.

Quote
Now there is a thread entitled something like, “Is there salvation outside of Orthodoxy?” Initially my question would have been the opposite: “Is there salvation inside Orthodoxy?” With your “superstitious accretions” as I saw them, your different use of words, especially the words save and salvation, with your lack of our emphasis on assurance of salvation, I wondered whether there was enough truth left within your church to save the soul. Then I began to read... You know the rest.

But let me share with you one other factor which convinced me that there is salvation inside Orthodoxy, for this line of thought may help you believe the same about us. There have been some impressive and moving posts on these threads about the persecution endured by Orthodox people under Communism, but in itself this proves nothing beyond their personal nobility, for Fascists, Communists and Moslems are ready to suffer and die for their creeds. But I have seen not only the steadfastness of many Orthodox under persecution, but also the active providence of God among them. I have bewailed the small amount of literature you have produced in English about these sufferings, but the little I have been able to get my hands on has contained striking instances of God’s close and effective involvement with you. As one post said, He has preserved you. He has been among you of a truth.

Now my point is this: if you were to read similar literature recording the sufferings of Evangelical people, you would find identical examples of God’s providence and preservation, both of individuals and of the churches as the Lord’s Body on earth. I cannot see these same events as being God in one case, and pure chance, or unaided humanity, or worse the deceiving Devil, on the other. I can draw no other conclusion that God has accepted people in both forms of Christianity.

He may have, but He hasn't accepted both forms of Christianity.  As to your paradox, I can only repeat what Fr. Corapi says: "the Baptists do so much with so little of the Church."

we don't judge by our personal opinion based on our personal interpretation of their theology in comparison to our personal interpretation of the Scriptures.  ... David Young ... his judgment was based solely on his personal interpretation of their theology in comparison with his personal interpretation of Scripture.  Of course we agree with him that they are a sect, but we arrive at it by completely different means.

You see why I wrote somewhere the other day that we're wrong when we're wrong, and still wrong even when we're right!

I wrote at length somewhere - probably repeatedly - about our adherence to hundreds of years of Protestant theology, and our regard for the pronouncements of the councils of the undivided church in the first ca 450 years of its existence. (That was the great theologically productive period; after that theological activity played a lesser part in the church's life.) I don't think I do base my theology on purely personal opinion, thus becoming Pope Wulfsige I or some such in my own mind. I am well aware of the nutty ideas that go round when people do that sort of thing. I think sects are sects because they differ from Christian theology. If you take Mormons, JWs, Christadelphians etc etc and compare them only with what Protestants and Orthodox hold in common, their beliefs are bent by that plumbline.

You admit to adhereing to hundreds of years of Protestant theology (dare I say, tradition) a millenium and a half after the Apostles, yet begrudge us (as we see it) our adherence to the two millenium of the continuous witness of the Fathers since the Fathers.  It is not an ecrustation to hold your interpretation of Scripture against how the Church has always understood it.  She knows it better than we do.  The problem with Evangelicals is that they seem to be reinventing the wheel, over and over (and I'm afraid, redesigning and deforming it in the process).
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« Reply #352 on: February 06, 2009, 06:22:17 AM »

nothing in Orthodoxy is random or accidental. Everything has a meaning. Everything has a purpose.

I hope this addresses other posts as well as LBK's from which I draw the quotations.

I am fully ready to believe that the richly symbolic ceremony which you practise is meaningful, helpful and edifying for some people, and that they genuinely find and experience Christ in it. I have no wish at all to draw any such away from it. I also think that our more cerebral, didactic approach, on the other hand, is helpful to other people, especially those of a western mindset and culture. By this means they find an open pathway to the knowledge and experience of Christ.

To some extent I guess my personality falls mainly into the 'cerebral' Protestant approach, but I appreciate the more 'symbolic' approach as well; which is presumably why I like to pray at special times at very ancient places of worship, where men have at least reached out for God (Acts 17.27) from time immemorial, or in some 1000-year-old Orthodox or Anglican church (which can't happen if it is locked and has to be opened by a key-holder who hovers whilst one admires the frescoes, carvings and icons: but some are open, and one is usually alone then to pray and think).

The reason I said that we seem to be talking about different things is that the Orthodoxy you describe and the Orthodoxy I described in my earlier post both (I believe) exist. Even in Crete, when I was staying at Ntouliana, I was unable to worship at the village's Orthodox church because it was not the right Sunday of the month for a service to be held. If that be true of Crete, how much more of less privileged lands? And just as Protestantism obviously carries within itself the risk of morphing into the repulsive or puerile mutations which get described on these threads, so too Orthodoxy can descend into ritualism, and (I think - I cannot prove people's hearts) really does so descend in some worshippers' lives, in some times and some places. They come to believe that the attendance at and performance of the ceremonies is enough to put them right with God, without understanding the need for inward conversion and ongoing synergy in what we call sanctification and you (I believe) call theosis. Like the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, it is a case of ""Do you understand?" ... "How can I, unless someone guides me?""

For many of us Evangelicals, this is the only Orthodoxy we have ever encountered. That is why I said it is a bit unfair to say we are guilty of "a surprisingly shocking lack of thinking for oneself". We have never encountered your sort: how then are we to know that it exists? I only stumbled across it myself by chance, because I thought I ought to understand something of Orthodoxy for my work - and then Rosehip posted two of my articles, the forum wrote to me, and (as Kevin Arnold so often says) "and there you have it."

Quote
Have you ever been to an Orthodox liturgy, David?

Tomorrow morning; and again when next in Gjirokastër (May or June).

Quote
Or, better still ... Vespers and Matins... Have you read and contemplated the priestly prayers ? ... I, and others, can certainly help in this department.

I used very much to enjoy the midnight service before Christmas Day or before New Year's Day when I attended a church which practised it (i.e. when I was the pastor!), but my present church does not hold such. If this is the sort of thing you would recommend, I should gladly enter it in my diary for Christmas or New Year's Eve, and perhaps take my daughter if she wished to come: she virtually never attends church, but enjoys the Anglican midnight service on Christmas Eve.

I have read the Liturgy of John Chrysostom. Is this what you have in mind?

Finally, I do not think we have wandered off the theme of "The only true church?" for if what I say is true, then our churches and your churches are both Christian churches but with widely different approaches. It is my contention that people find Christ and are saved in both of them, and surely where Christ is among people who gather in his name, who confess their faith in baptism and remember the Lord at his Table, that is a Christian church?
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« Reply #353 on: February 06, 2009, 06:34:48 AM »

you bound yourselves to individual whims.  ... Individual whims are just as or even more prone to corruption.  ... You have only your own individual belief which can change at a moment's notice. 

Not individual whims: as I wrote elsewhere, we aim to base our worship on the patterns we see in scripture. Acts talks about the apostles' doctrine, the breaking of bread, fellowship, prayers; the pastoral epistles talk about preaching and teaching; and these of course are only two places. There is more. We aim to pracrise what we see in scripture, not what our whim fixes temporarily upon.

Quote
Which approach, above all, lacks humility?

Neither. Any religion carries the possibility of pride. There are humble Orthodox and humble Evangelicals, and proud Orthodox and proud Evangelicals.
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« Reply #354 on: February 06, 2009, 07:11:29 AM »

ONE TRUE CHURCH?

To bring the conversation back towards its title, but to build on the previous exchanges, which are, I believe, relevant, my contention is that there is not only "one true church" and yours is that there is only "one true church". For me to succeed, I have to persuade you that, to take just one example, the Baptist church I attend here in Wrexham is in fact a Christian church: then I can put QED on my post, for I shall have won my case. For you to succeed, you have to prove that we (like other non-Orthodox) are not a real Christian church. Then you can put QED. Over to you...
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« Reply #355 on: February 06, 2009, 08:53:31 AM »

ONE TRUE CHURCH?

To bring the conversation back towards its title, but to build on the previous exchanges, which are, I believe, relevant, my contention is that there is not only "one true church" and yours is that there is only "one true church". For me to succeed, I have to persuade you that, to take just one example, the Baptist church I attend here in Wrexham is in fact a Christian church: then I can put QED on my post, for I shall have won my case. For you to succeed, you have to prove that we (like other non-Orthodox) are not a real Christian church. Then you can put QED. Over to you...

QED?
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« Reply #356 on: February 06, 2009, 09:39:50 AM »

QED?

Perhaps you will repeat what has been said frequently before, that you know where the church is, you do not know where it is not; or putting it another way, you know there is salvation in Orthodoxy, you do not know whether there is salvation outside Orthodoxy. If that must remain your immutable position, then neither of us will reach the point of putting quod erat demonstrandum at the end of the conversation, for I shall remain unable to convince you that the church where I worship is really Christian, and you will remain unable to convince me that yours is the only locus of salvation.

However, we have perhaps been foolish in that we have embarked upon this undoubtedly stimulating discussion (which has certainly made me think) without defining our terms. What does "Christian" mean?

For us Evangelicals it has two meanings:

- it is synonymous with saved, born again, converted, a child of God and such terms: that is, it denotes an inward matter. This is probably how we use it most often.

- it means subscribing to Christian doctrine, however that be defined.

I turn to the second of these definitions. Is there such a thing as an agreed summary of Christian doctrine? Someone posted some days ago the assertion that we (Protestants) and you (Orthodox) might all subscribe to the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed, but that we give the words different meanings. I doubt that that is true. I took the trouble to read them both through, and the only word I think we would disagree on is the word "unto" in the phrase "one baptism unto remission of sins". We do, I think, differ on exactly how the sacrament of baptism 'works', but even the most zwinglian Protestant would, I think, acknowledge a link between the symbolism of the rite and the washing away of sin.  I will not go into the question of whether baptism of infants and baptism of believers are arguably variations of or within the performance of same rite, for there is a thread on that anyway and I have expatiated on it at length.

If you could for a moment be persuaded that the preposition "unto" (sadly I do not have the original Latin or Greek (which was it?)) can bear more than one precise meaning, then I think you would need to concede that you and we are in agreement thus far, and that therefore we here are indeed a Christian church, as I readily concede that you are. I do not think that we need to look at later summaries of Christian or denominational belief, such as the Decrees of Dositheus or the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith.

But before we conclude the debate, we perhaps ought to decide whether we are discussing the matter under my first or my second definition above.

[And just an aside: I believe I posted some way up the page that I shall be at the Orthodox church in Handbridge "tomorrow". Having taken today (Friday) off work, I felt as if it was Saturday; I ought of course to have written "the day after tomorrow". ]
« Last Edit: February 06, 2009, 09:56:45 AM by David Young » Logged

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« Reply #357 on: February 06, 2009, 10:00:24 AM »

Then you can put QED.
Could you please define this term?
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« Reply #358 on: February 06, 2009, 10:39:09 AM »

"Q.E.D." is the abbreviation of the Latin phrase "quod erat demonstrandum" which means "which was to be shown or demonstrated."
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« Reply #359 on: February 06, 2009, 11:28:36 AM »

Quote
- it is synonymous with saved, born again, converted, a child of God and such terms: that is, it denotes an inward matter. This is probably how we use it most often.

Your missing the literary aspect of the sacrament. When two people get married in the sacrament of marriage. They are joining spiritually as well as physically. Without the physical interaction there can't be a spiritual interaction. You can always look at your wife, but without the intimacy you can't call yourself married. Wink

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