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Author Topic: Is It OK For Orthodox to Attend Protestant Churches?  (Read 15171 times) Average Rating: 0
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PoorFoolNicholas
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« on: May 21, 2009, 04:07:54 PM »

Why would you want to?
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« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2009, 04:10:30 PM »

Who exactly are we classifying as "Protestant"?
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« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2009, 04:11:37 PM »

Those who are not Orthodox.
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« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2009, 04:19:06 PM »

Why would you want to?
Was this intended for another thread?  I'm just curious about what appears to have been a technical glitch.
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2009, 04:33:23 PM »

PoorFoolNicholas,

Did you intend this as a general question to all the Orthodox at OCnet?  If that is the case, it may be better moved over to the Faith Issues Section.  If, however, you intended to answer Gebre Menfes Kidus in the thread he just started in this section about that issue, I'll have to merge this with that thread.  Please let me know, so I know what to do with this.  Thanks.
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« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2009, 04:36:20 PM »

Why would you want to?
Was this intended for another thread?  I'm just curious about what appears to have been a technical glitch.
The technical glitch being that the board index shows this thread as started by Gebre Menfes Kidus even though the OP appears to have been posted by PoorFoolNicholas.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2009, 04:36:40 PM by PeterTheAleut » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2009, 04:50:16 PM »

Well that's just weird.  How does that happen?  Should I just merge the two threads?
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« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2009, 05:30:32 PM »

Since this seems like it would be an interesting question for the general population of OCnet to ponder, and since there is already a current thread on the issue in the OO Section, I'm moving it from the OO Section to Faith Issues.

Salpy
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« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2009, 07:36:35 PM »



Is It OK For Orthodox to Attend Protestant Churches?

No.

Pray for me.

James+
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« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2009, 08:18:40 PM »


Those who are not Orthodox.

So then the "Roman Catholics" are being understood part of the group "Protestants"?
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« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2009, 12:41:21 AM »

How did this happen?   Shocked
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« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2009, 01:23:30 AM »


Those who are not Orthodox.

So then the "Roman Catholics" are being understood part of the group "Protestants"?

They are two sides of the same coin.
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« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2009, 01:27:00 AM »

They are two sides of the same coin.

Are the Nestorians 'Protestants'?  Third-side to the same coin?
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« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2009, 01:29:27 AM »

They are two sides of the same coin.

Are the Nestorians 'Protestants'?  Third-side to the same coin?

Considering we have Assyrian bishops agreeing that their fundamental doctrine is no different then that of the RC Church.....
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2009, 04:30:11 AM »

NO ,They have another spirit . I was once on a pentecostal evanghelist "church" here because someone insisted as soon as I got there i noticed they have another spirit , and i didn`t pray or do anything with them . As for protestant pentecostals evanghelist , they have another spirit . For others i can`t speak cause i was not in their Churches , but i think that the condition is the same .
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2009, 09:20:03 AM »

I think it's OK, given certain circumstances.  If I were traveling, for instance, and there was no Orthodox parish within a reasonable distance I'd perhaps rather go to a Protestant service than none at all (at least mainstream Protestant, I'm not going anywhere near snake handlers, charismatics, or the like).  I certainly wouldn't even think about participating in their communion, however.  Now if we're talking about regular attendance, then probably not. 
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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2009, 10:01:16 AM »

The technical glitch being that the board index shows this thread as started by Gebre Menfes Kidus even though the OP appears to have been posted by PoorFoolNicholas.
You are correct. I have no idea how I became the OP of this thread, because I certainly didn't start it. Weird. Whatever, it seems to have sorted itself out, thanks to the lovely moderators! Wink Kiss
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« Reply #17 on: May 23, 2009, 07:01:38 AM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. This really isn't all that difficult, as most Protestant services don't include much prayer anyway, and hardly any serve communion regularly (and I was a Protestant for about twenty years, in four different denominations).

If, however, you mean a long-term attendance as becoming part of that church, then generally this is disallowed. However, even to this there are exceptions. There is a woman in our parish who came to Springfield before our parish had been established. She had made an arrangement with the Bishop of Wichita to attend an Anglican church until the time when an Orthodox parish would be established in Springfield, as long as she did not receive their communion.

So the short answer is no, Orthodox should not attend Protestant churches, except in rare occasions such as the ones I mentioned above. With the spread of Orthodoxy, I hope to see those exceptions disappear altogether.
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« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2009, 08:59:40 AM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. This really isn't all that difficult, as most Protestant services don't include much prayer anyway, and hardly any serve communion regularly (and I was a Protestant for about twenty years, in four different denominations).

If, however, you mean a long-term attendance as becoming part of that church, then generally this is disallowed. However, even to this there are exceptions. There is a woman in our parish who came to Springfield before our parish had been established. She had made an arrangement with the Bishop of Wichita to attend an Anglican church until the time when an Orthodox parish would be established in Springfield, as long as she did not receive their communion.

As has been mentioned before on this forum, "Protestant" is a fairly broad and vague term. Many Disciples of Christ, Episcopalians, Lutherans and United Methodists have Communion every Sunday.

IIRC many Orthodox Christians in the US and Canada have at different times been told to attend Lutheran and Episcopal churches in the absence of an Orthodox parish.
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« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2009, 03:12:58 AM »

Did not King David say,
I have not sat with vain persons, neither will I go in with dissemblers
?
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« Reply #20 on: July 22, 2009, 04:54:48 AM »

Lately I've been attending a protestant church on Saturday night and DL on Sunday. I mostly go for the music, and I don't partake of the communion. (I'm not sure they even do it once a month anways)
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« Reply #21 on: July 22, 2009, 09:00:36 AM »

The only way I step foot in a church other than Orthodox is when I am visiting my mother...even then, if I can, I'll attend a local Orthodox church.  Also, if I'm invited to a wedding or funeral.  Each time I have, I felt like a fish out of water.
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« Reply #22 on: July 22, 2009, 10:11:14 AM »

If you pray and make worship with them , than you partake to their communion and to their idolatry, in another spirit.The Communion is not only that of the bread and wine , but also of the worship.Cause the worship sanctifies the gifts.
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« Reply #23 on: July 22, 2009, 01:03:54 PM »

Also, if I'm invited to a wedding or funeral.  Each time I have, I felt like a fish out of water.
Yes. Same here. The last time I went to a Roman Catholic Church for a funeral, (it had been quite some time), it felt strangely protestant to me.  Shocked

I have baptist relatives, but I try not to go there if I can help it.
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« Reply #24 on: July 22, 2009, 02:06:46 PM »

Having come from the Catholic church, I went to the funeral of my landlord and it was done by a lay deacon...that was weird for me.
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« Reply #25 on: July 22, 2009, 02:34:15 PM »

Having come from the Catholic church, I went to the funeral of my landlord and it was done by a lay deacon...that was weird for me.

Wow! I've never heard of that!  Sad
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« Reply #26 on: July 22, 2009, 03:27:08 PM »

What do you mean "attend"? Sitting in front of a heretic ritual is bad? I don't know.
But receiving Holy Communion or participating in other rituals of non-Orthodox Churches is bad.
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« Reply #27 on: July 22, 2009, 07:12:14 PM »

These people at the church I am referring to are praising and worshipping Jesus. I guess I just don't see how taking part in such an activity can be interpreted as "bad", so long as it isn't substituted in place of proper Orthodox worship  Undecided
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« Reply #28 on: July 22, 2009, 07:22:22 PM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. 

I understand the not taking the communion part but why is it wrong for an orthodox Christian to pray with a non-orthodox Christian?
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« Reply #29 on: July 22, 2009, 09:29:14 PM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. 

I understand the not taking the communion part but why is it wrong for an orthodox Christian to pray with a non-orthodox Christian?
Because we see the Orthodox Church as the ONE--there can be no other--holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and all other Christian bodies outside the Church as built on the foundation of heresy and schism.  With some exceptions of which we have spoken quite recently on another thread, for Orthodox Christians to pray with the non-Orthodox is to affirm that the non-Orthodox are somehow part of the Church and that what their non-Orthodox sects teach are not really heresies.  This is why the tradition that gave us the Apostolic Canons (see HERE) thought it so important to draft so many canons forbidding prayers with the heterodox.
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« Reply #30 on: July 22, 2009, 10:18:52 PM »

I have been wanting to visit a traditional Lutheran church in order to understand their liturgical practices, with no intention of praying with them.  Is there something wrong with this?
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« Reply #31 on: July 22, 2009, 10:23:17 PM »

I have been wanting to visit a traditional Lutheran church in order to understand their liturgical practices, with no intention of praying with them.  Is there something wrong with this?
What benefit do you hope to obtain by understanding traditional Lutheran liturgical practices?
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« Reply #32 on: July 22, 2009, 10:24:36 PM »

What benefit do you hope to obtain by understanding traditional Lutheran liturgical practices?

Well, I would consider the understanding itself to be the benefit.
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« Reply #33 on: July 22, 2009, 10:30:28 PM »

What benefit do you hope to obtain by understanding traditional Lutheran liturgical practices?

Well, I would consider the understanding itself to be the benefit.
Why?
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« Reply #34 on: July 23, 2009, 02:52:24 AM »


In these days
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should anyone with right Faith and correct Practice
willingly cross the threshold of heresy
then at that very moment
they make themselves worthy of all contempt.

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« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2009, 05:31:49 AM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. 

I understand the not taking the communion part but why is it wrong for an orthodox Christian to pray with a non-orthodox Christian?
Because we see the Orthodox Church as the ONE--there can be no other--holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and all other Christian bodies outside the Church as built on the foundation of heresy and schism.  With some exceptions of which we have spoken quite recently on another thread, for Orthodox Christians to pray with the non-Orthodox is to affirm that the non-Orthodox are somehow part of the Church and that what their non-Orthodox sects teach are not really heresies.  This is why the tradition that gave us the Apostolic Canons (see HERE) thought it so important to draft so many canons forbidding prayers with the heterodox.

...so if I convert to Orthodoxy and my wife remains a protestant, then I can never Pray with her....? That doesn't seem right. please explain.
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« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2009, 10:26:27 AM »

Mister Jim Dude: this is from another Jim who was formerly a member in a holiness church not unlike your own. My wife chose to remain in the Free Methodist Church. I would love to pray with her, but she refuses to pray with me - scared that I'm going to just say some rote things, or start invoking the saints, or some such nonsense (i.e. nonsense from HER point of view Smiley) There are certainly some other issues in her spiritual life that I do not see as healthy, influences that made it easy for me to leave that denomination. As an aside, let me say I maintain a high degree of respect and affection for all of my friends in my former congregation and denomination, most of whom have remained friends - after all, that was where I was first introduced to Christ and to love Him with my entire being - my move to Orthodoxy is completely consistent with that thought. Now, on some occasions I do attend services with her. I try to simply appreciate the services for their face value: Christian musical entertainment, and a usually well presented motivational talk that is pretty generic. During the rare moments of prayer in those services, I simply silently pray as I have been taught in the Orthodox Church. I do not participate in their Communion, though my behaviour remains respectful of their actions. All of this is in keeping with my priest's knowledge, understanding, and counsel.

In the last few days our lectionary readings for the Epistle have been taken from I Corinthians where St. Paul gives his instructions concerning mixed marriages. It has given me an opportunity to evaluate my role as husband and spiritual leader, but those details fall out of the scope of a public forum.

As a husband you have a responsibility to your wife (and I to mine!) whether she is Orthodox or not. How she responds to your leadership rests between her and God. You most certainly can and should pray with your wife and children. If they won't pray with you, then you just pray FOR them twice as much!
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« Reply #37 on: July 23, 2009, 10:41:07 AM »

thanks Jim for your thoughtful answer...I am willing and ready to accept the Orthodox church as the fullness of God's expression but I wonder why it would be even considered a bad thing to pray with another christian.  After all, you admit that it was in the protestant church that you began your journey to Christ so it would seem wrong to assume that the "others" are not worthy of praying with.  Surely, God is at work in these Protestant churches, drawing men to Himself. Would it be wrong to acknowledge that? I believe you can remain totally orthodox and still pray with non-orthodox Christians. To do otherwise is, I believe, spiritual arrogance.
Jim
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« Reply #38 on: July 23, 2009, 11:55:10 AM »

Well, Jim, did you notice the difference between my wife's prayers and mine? Even if others don't express it as she did, do you know what might be going through their minds? Also, consider the big difference in the ways words are used: "salvation" is an easy example. I have had non-Orthodox friends upset when I told them (perhaps unwisely, but it did give me a chance to explain more of my faith) that I was praying that God would have mercy and save them. "What's the matter?? -- are you saying I'm not saved!?!" I agree that we may both be seeking the same result. But we are using two different languages that are unfortunately similar enough that we may not recognize that they are indeed different. Misunderstandings can easily arise. We can create offence and be offended unintentionally. This is not helpful.
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« Reply #39 on: July 23, 2009, 01:33:42 PM »

that is true. I find, even now as I stay a member of my protestant church, I still start expressing myself in an orthodox manner and I actually have to censor what I say inorder not to be misunderstood!
I think it is ok that you said you were praying for your friend's salvation because, as you said, it gave you a chance to explain the orthodox position. You could, at the same time, explain how you are praying for your own!
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« Reply #40 on: July 23, 2009, 03:27:31 PM »

It really depends on the meaning of "attend." If you mean a one-time visit, say when staying with relatives, there's nothing wrong with that, as long as you do not pray with them or take their communion. 

I understand the not taking the communion part but why is it wrong for an orthodox Christian to pray with a non-orthodox Christian?
Because we see the Orthodox Church as the ONE--there can be no other--holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and all other Christian bodies outside the Church as built on the foundation of heresy and schism.  With some exceptions of which we have spoken quite recently on another thread, for Orthodox Christians to pray with the non-Orthodox is to affirm that the non-Orthodox are somehow part of the Church and that what their non-Orthodox sects teach are not really heresies.  This is why the tradition that gave us the Apostolic Canons (see HERE) thought it so important to draft so many canons forbidding prayers with the heterodox.

...so if I convert to Orthodoxy and my wife remains a protestant, then I can never Pray with her....? That doesn't seem right. please explain.

I anticipated that question would arise, which is why I included this very important clause in the post you just quoted of me.

With some exceptions of which we have spoken quite recently on another thread, ...

That other thread is HERE.  Rather than rehash the same material on two parallel threads, I'll just ask that follow the link and read what's there.
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« Reply #41 on: July 23, 2009, 03:37:24 PM »

thanks Jim for your thoughtful answer...I am willing and ready to accept the Orthodox church as the fullness of God's expression but I wonder why it would be even considered a bad thing to pray with another christian.  After all, you admit that it was in the protestant church that you began your journey to Christ so it would seem wrong to assume that the "others" are not worthy of praying with.  Surely, God is at work in these Protestant churches, drawing men to Himself. Would it be wrong to acknowledge that? I believe you can remain totally orthodox and still pray with non-orthodox Christians. To do otherwise is, I believe, spiritual arrogance.
Jim

Hi Jim!

I understand your position, as my mother and her sisters are Protestant, and it can create an awkward situation to say "Sorry, I can't pray with you." The reason for this is that while both the Protestant and Orthodox Christian are eager to serve Christ, it is only in Orthodoxy that our theology is 100% and part of the True Faith.

There is a Latin expression, lex orandi, lex credendi, that essentially means "we pray what we believe." A Protestant is going to say prayers that are consistant with Protestant theology. This may or may not be consistant with Orthodox theology. Therefore, by praying with those who are not Orthodox we are putting ourselves at risk for praying something that we don't believe.

In my case, my mother's sister goes to a Charismatic church that believes in praying for the "gift of tongues." Their interpretation of the gift of tongues is very different than the Orthodox understanding of the gift, and frankly I believe they are unwittingly inviting the devil to cause mischief at their services. To pray along with my aunt would go completely against Orthodox teaching.

So what do I do?

Well at family dinners where grace is said, I usually volunteer to give the blessing. I'll say a binine prayer such as "Bless us O Lord for these gifts for which we are about to receive through Christ our bounty, Amen." While I will cross myself before and after the prayer, I don't expect anyone else to do so. By volunteering to lead the prayer, I can choose a prayer that is not in violation of my beliefs or their beliefs. (After all, it's not like every Orthodox prayer is laced with a mention of the Theotokos and the Saints. Wink )

In the event that I have to attend a church service with them (i.e., wedding or funeral) I respectfully watch but do not participate. When they bow their heads to pray, I bow mine and silently pray an Orthodox prayer.

I hope this clarifies things for you.

In XC,

Maureen
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« Reply #42 on: July 23, 2009, 03:46:28 PM »

thanks Jim for your thoughtful answer...I am willing and ready to accept the Orthodox church as the fullness of God's expression but I wonder why it would be even considered a bad thing to pray with another christian.  After all, you admit that it was in the protestant church that you began your journey to Christ so it would seem wrong to assume that the "others" are not worthy of praying with.  Surely, God is at work in these Protestant churches, drawing men to Himself. Would it be wrong to acknowledge that? I believe you can remain totally orthodox and still pray with non-orthodox Christians. To do otherwise is, I believe, spiritual arrogance.
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But Jesus Christ established only one Church and one means of salvation.  He and the Holy Spirit may indeed not be bound to the Church He established and may work as they please to bring about the salvation of all, but there is still only one Church against whom the powers of death (e.g., heresy) have not prevailed.  It is our duty to obey Christ and be members of this Church, though most of us haven't been made aware of this and cannot be held guilty of disobedience for not joining.

That said, I will just repeat that our canonical prohibitions against praying with the non-Orthodox, with the exceptions spoken of elsewhere, are based on a desire among the Orthodox to protect themselves against heresy and to bring others to the truth of Orthodoxy by enlightening them to the heresies they follow out of ignorance.  Praying with the non-Orthodox has been found counterproductive in the light of this goal because such prayer merely affirms that there's essentially nothing deficient in the faith of the heterodox Christian with whom we're praying.
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« Reply #43 on: July 24, 2009, 04:33:56 AM »

thanks Jim for your thoughtful answer...I am willing and ready to accept the Orthodox church as the fullness of God's expression but I wonder why it would be even considered a bad thing to pray with another christian.  After all, you admit that it was in the protestant church that you began your journey to Christ so it would seem wrong to assume that the "others" are not worthy of praying with.  Surely, God is at work in these Protestant churches, drawing men to Himself. Would it be wrong to acknowledge that? I believe you can remain totally orthodox and still pray with non-orthodox Christians. To do otherwise is, I believe, spiritual arrogance.
Jim

Hi Jim!

I understand your position, as my mother and her sisters are Protestant, and it can create an awkward situation to say "Sorry, I can't pray with you." The reason for this is that while both the Protestant and Orthodox Christian are eager to serve Christ, it is only in Orthodoxy that our theology is 100% and part of the True Faith.

There is a Latin expression, lex orandi, lex credendi, that essentially means "we pray what we believe." A Protestant is going to say prayers that are consistant with Protestant theology. This may or may not be consistant with Orthodox theology. Therefore, by praying with those who are not Orthodox we are putting ourselves at risk for praying something that we don't believe.

In my case, my mother's sister goes to a Charismatic church that believes in praying for the "gift of tongues." Their interpretation of the gift of tongues is very different than the Orthodox understanding of the gift, and frankly I believe they are unwittingly inviting the devil to cause mischief at their services. To pray along with my aunt would go completely against Orthodox teaching.

So what do I do?

Well at family dinners where grace is said, I usually volunteer to give the blessing. I'll say a binine prayer such as "Bless us O Lord for these gifts for which we are about to receive through Christ our bounty, Amen." While I will cross myself before and after the prayer, I don't expect anyone else to do so. By volunteering to lead the prayer, I can choose a prayer that is not in violation of my beliefs or their beliefs. (After all, it's not like every Orthodox prayer is laced with a mention of the Theotokos and the Saints. Wink )

In the event that I have to attend a church service with them (i.e., wedding or funeral) I respectfully watch but do not participate. When they bow their heads to pray, I bow mine and silently pray an Orthodox prayer.

I hope this clarifies things for you.

In XC,

Maureen

thank you, Maureen for your detailed answer...I think a distinction should be made between praying with those who clearly are NOT Christians (Mormons, wiccans, ect) and those who profess faith in a Trinitarian God. If you are with a non-Orthodox Xian and they pray something that, you believe is wrong, simply do not say "AMEN" at the end of the prayer. You cannot be responsible for what others say or pray.  I guess you fear that, by being at a protestant church or praying with a protestant, that it will be "guilt by association". Well, what do you care what others think? I am sure, if pressed,  you would not fail to give an orthodox answer to any question of faith they ask you? When the apostle Paul (May he pray for us!) gave advice to the Corinthian church about eating with the pagans, he said to raise no question of conscience. Granted, a worship service is different but could not someone say to the Corinthian Xian, "You are a pagan because you eat meat sacrificed to idols?"  If you are worried about what others think of you and your faith, I don't think you have to be. Just by going to a protestant worship service, people know they have visitors all the time.

thanks again,
Jim
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« Reply #44 on: July 24, 2009, 12:15:42 PM »

I have been wanting to visit a traditional Lutheran church in order to understand their liturgical practices, with no intention of praying with them.  Is there something wrong with this?
What benefit do you hope to obtain by understanding traditional Lutheran liturgical practices?
I'd like to do that too maybe, just out of curiosity.
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