you are making the determination, you are making the decision, you are judging that, in your opinion, ... I, as an Orthodox Christian, need not know anything about their theology. The Church of Christ (the Orthodox Church) has determined
Handmaiden sent me an excellent article on infant baptism by Jordan Bajis, which you can get the link to from her post on that thread.
I know this article. It is the one that I posted toward the beginning of the Believer's Baptism thread, and went back and forth with Cleopas over several posts subsequently. It is indeed a good article.
He starts by saying he was troubled about the practice of infant baptism, and became determined to read, study, think, pray and discuss till he felt satisfied he had the answers. Now he believes in infant baptism. Why is it right for him to work through that lenghty process, coming to his own, personal, throught-through conviction, but when I do it I become a pope?
Have you never examined why you believe the things you do? Does that make you Pope Joan II? Of course not! God calls us to worship him with all our mind, and surely that means not accepting beliefs second-hand, but with inner conviction of their truth. You have concluded that Orthodoxy is the true church, and from that all else follows. But something made you take that first step and commit yourself and your trust to Orthodoxy - otherwise you would not be so theologically articulate as you are!
Surely your congregation contains people of simple belief who accept what they are told without a lot of prior personal thought; so does ours. Simple faith - admirable. But one can tell the difference between such perfectly acceptable, trusting souls and those who have striven with difficult questions and come to personal (often changed) beliefs. That doesn't make them all quasi popes.
Of course we go looking for answers! You are definitely correct in that. The difference is that, for us, first comes obedience, whether we understand rationally or not. Even if Bajis disagreed with the practice, he does not set himself above the rest and assume that he is right and the church is wrong (that's not to imply that you or anyone else is trying to set yourself above the rest, I'm speaking only of him). He obeys his bishop, obeys his Church. He is accountable to someone and does not make decisions of doctrine and dogma on his own. That's my point. Even when he disagrees, he obeys. Now, when we are talking about smaller issues that are not doctrinal or dogmatic, disagreeing is a little different. Disagreeing with a single bishop is another matter (though we properly still obey). But when the Church has spoken through the councils of the bishops, the voice of the Holy Spirit, about doctrinal and dogmatic issues, you are correct that we are not at liberty to disagree. We may hold personal opinions, but we obey. We don't up and leave, we don't start a new church, we don't try and "correct" or anything like that (I'm not saying that you do, I'm just addressing what you said about people leaving because they are trying to recover old teachings, etc). Because we realize that the collective voice of the church, through the councils and the bishops, is right and we are wrong. We do not believe ourselves to be so enlightened as to know better than everyone else (I'm not implying anything by that about you or Protestants, I'm speaking strictly of Orthodox).
If Protestants did not categorically reject the fathers, the reading of them would be everyday practice
Nonsense! You yourself wrote on a previous post that you wished Orthodox would read the Fathers. (I think it was yourgoodself who wrote it.) I've probabvly read more Athanasius lately than I have Wesley, but at present my daily reading is Bulgakov, who at least quotes the Fathers - and no doubt agrees with them.
I don't remember writing that, but I may have. It is important for us to read the Fathers. But the point is not that we Orthodox each individually read the Fathers. As Orthodox, we adhere to the teachings of the Fathers, as they permeate all aspects of Orthodoxy. So though I may not have read St. Athanasios' On the Incarnation
(though I have), I still adhere to what he says because I adhere to Orthodoxy, which accepts that work as truth (notice the little t). His writing, as I think I mentioned with regards to other writers, proclaimed what was already believed by the church. Does this make sense? I'm trying to demonstrate the synthesis of the Fathers and the Church. I didn't mean that NO Protestant reads the Fathers, I just meant that there is no such synthesis in Protestantism of Fathers and belief, or Fathers and Church. Am I wrong? Please correct me if I am. I was under the impression that it is not common practice among Protestants to read and adhere to the teaching of the Fathers (as a general rule).
We read them for instruction, inspiration, guidance...
As do I. So too do I read Wesley, Spener, Zinzendorf, Bernard of Clairvaux, Ælfric, and many others. They all have things to teach me: I don't see any of them as infallible - not even Gregory the Great, who really was a pope!
I totally appreciate that you read them because it makes it much easier to discuss these things with you. You have a greater understanding of Orthodoxy than the majority of Protestants I have encountered. Would you say that this is common among Protestants?
So why reject Orthodoxy?
This is (I think) the title of a whole different thread, and I think I have posted on it.
I think you are right, that it is a different thread. And as a stand alone question, I think it is a little different from what I was trying to say. I was trying to draw the logical conclusion... if one adheres to the teachings of the fathers (collectively, not individually), then one should (by logic) be Orthodox. If one accepts the collective teachings of the fathers, then why reject Orthodoxy? I'm not sure I'm being clear. I'm trying to draw a distinction between a)
accepting, for example, Athanasios' teaching on the Incarnation, but rejecting Ignatios' teaching about the Eucharist, and b)
accepting the collective teachings of the fathers, following what the Church has taught us to accept (so by logic accepting both Athanasios AND Ignatios). So the distinction is between a)
. Does that make sense? A)
is picking and choosing what to believe based on one's own interpretation of the Bible (thus accepting only what one believes to be in line with their own opinion--- not consciously, per se, but by default because of the lack of the Church's guidance). B)
is being obedient to the Church, recognizing the authority that Christ left on earth for us to follow, and accepting the authoritative voice of the Church (through the voice of the fathers) guiding us in our journey to salvation.
It is, again, ridiculous to me, to accept as inspired ONE thing that they wrote ... but REJECT other things that they wrote
Not at all! Anyway, I didn't say the creeds (I referred to the Apostles' and the Nicene) are inspired, I said we all agree on them as succinct summaries of Christian doctrine which exclude sects like JWs and Mormons. I don't have to accept every word someone (or a body of people) write, to accept one piece of their writing as valid and true. That's not ridiculous - it's just seeing them as human.
It seems logical to me (though, granted, my logic could be totally off here) that if one accepts the Creeds to be truthful, they must have been inspired (meaning that the Holy Spirit lead them to a truthful conclusion). And if the Holy Spirit inspired them to say something truthful here (being the Nicene Creed), then surely other things they said were also inspired by the Holy Spirit to be truthful, as they are still the same people. Yes, individual fathers have made individual mistakes (being human, as you said). But collectively, isn't it backward and somewhat lacking in faith to think that they speak correctly in some places, correctly transmit the gospels, but speak incorrectly in others, and incorrectly transmit the meaning of the gospels which they transmitted (I know we've covered this elsewhere, it's more rhetorical than anything else)?
I don't mean to come off as attacking .
Words like "sect", "own pope", "ridiculous" do rather tend in that direction, I'm afraid.
In saying "sect," I was speaking of the Mormons and JW's, whom you also called sects. That was not directed at you, friend. When I said "own pope," again, it was not directed at you. I was attempting to give an example of why Orthodox often say that Protestants, in general, are their own popes-- because they make exactly the type of doctrinal and dogmatic decisions that I was showing by themselves (as the pope makes doctrinal and dogmatic decisions).
I certainly meant no offense by saying I thought something was ridiculous. I apologize if it sounded that way. I apologize if anything I said sounded offensive. It was really NOT my intent. I would hate to think that I was coming off that way, as it is farthest from my mind to attack you, and I absolutely NEVER want to offend you. My deepest apologies, my friend.
In Christ's Love,