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Author Topic: Why didn't Luther become Orthodox?  (Read 4640 times) Average Rating: 0
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Pravoslavbob
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« on: August 14, 2009, 02:49:07 PM »

Not only was the distances impossible to overcome, but had the Eastern Church showed up it would have been considered poaching. Even though the Eastern and Western Church are split, there is still a modicum of protocol observed. It would have been like the Vatican sending missionaries to Greece. 

Not true at all, on several counts.  Where did you get this idea?  At the time, the Latin Church considered the Orthodox to be out-and-out schismatics.  The East, of course felt the same way.  The Latin Church was using any means at its disposal to get the Orthodox Church, little by little, or all at once if possible, to submit to Rome.  Until very recently, this was pretty much official Latin policy: the initiative to promote raprochement with Orthodoxy is new.  Despite this, unfortunately, Latin poaching of the Orthodox still goes on, though not with the direct approval of the Vatican.  The truth is that Luther did not think it necessary to contact the Orthodox, or perhaps just didn't get around to it, or was hostile to what he perceived (incorrectly) to be some Orthodox beliefs.  (I am not an expert on Lutheranism, so I cannot say exactly what is true here, perhaps someone else knows more.)  I do know that after Luther's death, there was quite an exchange of letters between prominent Lutherans and the see of Constantinople.  Distance was no barrier at all.  However, after a time the patriarchate refused to discuss matters of theology with the Lutheran party, because they were so intransigent in their Protestant beliefs.
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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2009, 02:54:40 PM »

Not only was the distances impossible to overcome, but had the Eastern Church showed up it would have been considered poaching. Even though the Eastern and Western Church are split, there is still a modicum of protocol observed. It would have been like the Vatican sending missionaries to Greece. 

Not true at all, on several counts.  Where did you get this idea?  At the time, the Latin Church considered the Orthodox to be out-and-out schismatics.  The East, of course felt the same way.  The Latin Church was using any means at its disposal to get the Orthodox Church, little by little, or all at once if possible, to submit to Rome.  Until very recently, this was pretty much official Latin policy.  Now, unfortunately, this kind of thing still goes on, though not with the direct approval of the Vatican.  The truth is that Luther did not think it necessary to contact the Orthodox, or perhaps just didn't get around to it, or was hostile to what he perceived (incorrectly) to be some Orthodox beliefs.  (I am not an expert on Lutheranism, so I cannot say exactly what is true here, perhaps someone else knows more.)  I do know that after Luther's death, there was quite an exchange of letters between prominent Lutherans and the see of Constantinople.  Distance was no barrier at all.  However, after a time the patriarchate refused to discuss matters of theology with the Lutheran party, because they were so intrangient in their Protestantism

So you think it would have been okay for Constantinople to have sent a Bishop to Germany had they been interested?
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« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2009, 03:02:52 PM »

Well, it would have probably really annoyed Rome a lot, that is for sure.  They might have started even earlier than they did to promote the concept of unia in the Ukraine and the Middle East.  Or even nastier things than that.  But who knows?  Maybe Orthodoxy in Germany would have suited Rome better than Protestantism, in a political sense.  From a purely theological perspective, there is no reason why Orthodoxy could not have gained a foothold in Germany in Luther's time. 
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« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2009, 09:52:58 PM »

Luther never, ever would have agreed to Orthodoxy. Consider what he said at the 1521 Diet of Worms:

"I do not accept the authority of Popes and councils. My conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

The italics are my own. The quote clearly shows that Luther felt his own conscience was above the authority of a church council. This puts him directly at odds with Orthodoxy.

As a former priest of mine put it, "Catholics believe everyone should submit to the pope. But in Protestantism, everyone gets to be a pope."
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2009, 12:10:43 PM »

Well, it would have probably really annoyed Rome a lot, that is for sure.  They might have started even earlier than they did to promote the concept of unia in the Ukraine and the Middle East.  Or even nastier things than that.  But who knows?  Maybe Orthodoxy in Germany would have suited Rome better than Protestantism, in a political sense.  From a purely theological perspective, there is no reason why Orthodoxy could not have gained a foothold in Germany in Luther's time. 

Cool..thanks
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2009, 01:01:01 PM »

No problem.  Smiley  These are just some very basic thoughts I had on the spur of the moment about "what might have been."  I'm sure that others with a much greater background in the geopolitical and theological picture of the time could give you a better idea of some possible scenarios.
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« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2009, 08:09:10 PM »

I wonder how the Calvinists would have reacted to an Orthodox Germany...
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« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2009, 11:09:27 PM »

This question is possibly unanswerable, but those are the fun ones.

I tend to think that Luther, heavily Augustinian and Latin-oriented, would have had a very difficult time converting to Orthodoxy due to the cultural and theological differences that had already risen between East and West. While they were not as wide as those of today, they were still very wide.  We see today Eastern Catholicism retaining much of its literature and language; perhaps a German Orthodoxy would have mirrored this.  Most of Luther's theological problems, arising as they did in a Catholic conceptual framework viewed as flawed by the Orthodox, were possibly answered by Orthodox doctrine.
Perhaps he could not conceive of becoming Orthodox - even if he had resolved his disdain of Councils. He was of the West, and his concerns were Western.
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« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2009, 11:18:37 PM »

I think that we also have to remember that travel, especially for someone as important as a bishop, even of a so-called schismatic church, was severely restricted in the 16th century.  The church and state were very much intertwined and no ruling monarch or petty king would have welcomed a foreign, "schismatic" bishop into his holdings.  It's one thing if one of your own subjects is tossing about strange religious ideas, but quite another to let some foreigner do it in your own backyard.
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« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2009, 03:22:12 AM »

Jesuits were in Greece during the Ottoman occupation (I don't recall when exactly, 18th or 19th century) for an ostensibly positive reason, I can't recall what it was), but coverted some to Roman Catholicism.  I thought that is the derivation of the RC churches that are in Greece today.
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« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2009, 04:15:19 AM »

Jesuits were in Greece during the Ottoman occupation (I don't recall when exactly, 18th or 19th century) for an ostensibly positive reason, I can't recall what it was), but coverted some to Roman Catholicism.  I thought that is the derivation of the RC churches that are in Greece today.

Let's not also forget the presence of the Venetians during the Ottoman period, and, prior to this, the Duchy of Athens, set up in the early 13th century, which lasted until the Ottoman conquest.
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« Reply #11 on: August 17, 2009, 11:04:42 PM »

For that matter, why didn't Henry VIII become Orthodox?

Surely the Orthodox prelates of the time wouldn't have had a problem with a monarch retaining de facto control of a national church.

Henry could have created a North Sea alliance and then really put the pressure on France.
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« Reply #12 on: August 17, 2009, 11:18:43 PM »

As to the question why Luther did not become Orthodox, I think that the answer is obvious from his writings that he opposed the clear distinction between the clergy and the laity.  According to Luther: "Whoever comes out of the water of baptism can boast that he is already a consecrated priest, bishop, and pope..."
Such a teaching of Luther on the abolition of the priestly order, as we see it expressed here, is contrary to the teaching of both the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches.
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« Reply #13 on: August 18, 2009, 02:27:26 AM »

For that matter, why didn't Henry VIII become Orthodox?

Surely the Orthodox prelates of the time wouldn't have had a problem with a monarch retaining de facto control of a national church.

Henry could have created a North Sea alliance and then really put the pressure on France.

Someone should write a fantasy/alternative history about what this would have been like. Instead of a "reformation," it would have been an overturning of Whitby and a return to the Celtic/British origins of the Church in England.
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2009, 01:58:27 AM »

I have come to view the "stand" that Luther took at the Diet of Worms more and more as a battle of egos. Luther's famous words: "Unless I am convinced by Scripture and by reason then I will not recant." Essentially, Luther was asserting his own autonomy in a spirit of arrogance similar to that of Pope Leo IX in 1054.

Those gathered against Luther at the Diet of Worms accusingly asked him, "Do you, Martin Luther, know more than the councils and Popes of the last 1500 years?" To which Luther should have responded, "No. In fact I stand on the historic teachings of apostolic Truth which you have forsaken. I dare not presume to know more than that which Our Lord has declared through His Church. But the teachings that you have introduced have deviated from the historic apostolic Church. It is not I who pretend to know more than the councils; it is you!" (Well, I can dream can't I. Wink)

But instead, Luther went his own way. He followed his own reasoning and developed a Christianity according to Luther rather than returning to the Christianity of Christ. Thus, he essentially replicated the error of arrogant autonomy that Pope Leo committed in 1054. And we see what subsequent havoc this has wrought in Christendom.

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« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2009, 02:14:47 AM »

Someone should write a fantasy/alternative history about what this would have been like. Instead of a "reformation," it would have been an overturning of Whitby and a return to the Celtic/British origins of the Church in England.

Yes, that would be pure fantasy, since the Orthodox Church was busy suppressing other native rites around the time of the schism.  Do you think that the British Isles would have been spared Constantinople's penchant for uniformity?  It's also great fantasy to imagine that Celtic Christianity was much like Eastern Orthodoxy.
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« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2009, 12:23:02 PM »

Someone should write a fantasy/alternative history about what this would have been like. Instead of a "reformation," it would have been an overturning of Whitby and a return to the Celtic/British origins of the Church in England.

Yes, that would be pure fantasy, since the Orthodox Church was busy suppressing other native rites around the time of the schism.  Do you think that the British Isles would have been spared Constantinople's penchant for uniformity?  It's also great fantasy to imagine that Celtic Christianity was much like Eastern Orthodoxy.

Yes, Constantinope was as imperialistic liturgically as was Rome. I just think that some aspects of Celtic Christianity would have blended more seemlessly into Orthodoxy than into the beginings of what became the Medieval Roman Church.
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2010, 04:15:08 PM »

This question is possibly unanswerable, but those are the fun ones.

I tend to think that Luther, heavily Augustinian and Latin-oriented, would have had a very difficult time converting to Orthodoxy due to the cultural and theological differences that had already risen between East and West. While they were not as wide as those of today, they were still very wide.  We see today Eastern Catholicism retaining much of its literature and language; perhaps a German Orthodoxy would have mirrored this.  Most of Luther's theological problems, arising as they did in a Catholic conceptual framework viewed as flawed by the Orthodox, were possibly answered by Orthodox doctrine.
Perhaps he could not conceive of becoming Orthodox - even if he had resolved his disdain of Councils. He was of the West, and his concerns were Western.
To show the difficulty, the correspondence between the Lutherans at Tubingen and Constantinople spend a lot on the former defending the Filioque, something they should have taken the opportunity to jettison.
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« Reply #18 on: January 24, 2010, 07:11:42 PM »

Not only was the distances impossible to overcome, but had the Eastern Church showed up it would have been considered poaching. Even though the Eastern and Western Church are split, there is still a modicum of protocol observed. It would have been like the Vatican sending missionaries to Greece. 

Not true at all, on several counts.  Where did you get this idea?  At the time, the Latin Church considered the Orthodox to be out-and-out schismatics.  The East, of course felt the same way.  The Latin Church was using any means at its disposal to get the Orthodox Church, little by little, or all at once if possible, to submit to Rome.  Until very recently, this was pretty much official Latin policy: the initiative to promote raprochement with Orthodoxy is new.  Despite this, unfortunately, Latin poaching of the Orthodox still goes on, though not with the direct approval of the Vatican.  The truth is that Luther did not think it necessary to contact the Orthodox, or perhaps just didn't get around to it, or was hostile to what he perceived (incorrectly) to be some Orthodox beliefs.  (I am not an expert on Lutheranism, so I cannot say exactly what is true here, perhaps someone else knows more.)  I do know that after Luther's death, there was quite an exchange of letters between prominent Lutherans and the see of Constantinople.  Distance was no barrier at all.  However, after a time the patriarchate refused to discuss matters of theology with the Lutheran party, because they were so intransigent in their Protestant beliefs.

It seems to me, that someone should of wispered in Luthers ear and ask him, if a church needs reformed is it the church?  Why don't you seek out the church?
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« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2010, 09:18:27 PM »

Luther never, ever would have agreed to Orthodoxy. Consider what he said at the 1521 Diet of Worms:

"I do not accept the authority of Popes and councils. My conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

The italics are my own. The quote clearly shows that Luther felt his own conscience was above the authority of a church council. This puts him directly at odds with Orthodoxy.

Good point. Lutherans accept many of the Councils or at least agree with them, but this is a big difference, perhaps the biggest. He would probably be scared he would have to subordinate himself to Russians or the EP administratively. Or maybe he really did have a philosophical counclusion.
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« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2010, 09:20:40 PM »

For that matter, why didn't Henry VIII become Orthodox?

Because of the divorce thing, Yes?
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« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2010, 11:23:47 PM »

What makes you think Henry VIII had any sort of theological outlook compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy?
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« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2010, 11:31:50 PM »

What makes you think Henry VIII had any sort of theological outlook compatible with Eastern Orthodoxy?

Like the Orthodox, St Thomas Moore rejected Papal infallbility. Henry VIII executed Moore. I suspect Henry VIII was not a deep theologian and if he could get away with the divorce without leaving Catholicism, he would have, at least for political reasons.
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« Reply #23 on: June 19, 2010, 12:25:34 AM »

Not only was the distances impossible to overcome, but had the Eastern Church showed up it would have been considered poaching. Even though the Eastern and Western Church are split, there is still a modicum of protocol observed. It would have been like the Vatican sending missionaries to Greece. 

Not true at all, on several counts.  Where did you get this idea?  At the time, the Latin Church considered the Orthodox to be out-and-out schismatics.  The East, of course felt the same way.  The Latin Church was using any means at its disposal to get the Orthodox Church, little by little, or all at once if possible, to submit to Rome.  Until very recently, this was pretty much official Latin policy.  Now, unfortunately, this kind of thing still goes on, though not with the direct approval of the Vatican.  The truth is that Luther did not think it necessary to contact the Orthodox, or perhaps just didn't get around to it, or was hostile to what he perceived (incorrectly) to be some Orthodox beliefs.  (I am not an expert on Lutheranism, so I cannot say exactly what is true here, perhaps someone else knows more.)  I do know that after Luther's death, there was quite an exchange of letters between prominent Lutherans and the see of Constantinople.  Distance was no barrier at all.  However, after a time the patriarchate refused to discuss matters of theology with the Lutheran party, because they were so intrangient in their Protestantism

So you think it would have been okay for Constantinople to have sent a Bishop to Germany had they been interested?

YES!!!!
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« Reply #24 on: June 19, 2010, 12:27:10 AM »

Luther never, ever would have agreed to Orthodoxy. Consider what he said at the 1521 Diet of Worms:

"I do not accept the authority of Popes and councils. My conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

The italics are my own. The quote clearly shows that Luther felt his own conscience was above the authority of a church council. This puts him directly at odds with Orthodoxy.

As a former priest of mine put it, "Catholics believe everyone should submit to the pope. But in Protestantism, everyone gets to be a pope."

There is no church council that has absolute binding authority on the consciences of the faithful in and of itself, only those that have been received by the faithful as representing the Faith they have always held.
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« Reply #25 on: June 19, 2010, 12:29:36 AM »

I think that we also have to remember that travel, especially for someone as important as a bishop, even of a so-called schismatic church, was severely restricted in the 16th century.  The church and state were very much intertwined and no ruling monarch or petty king would have welcomed a foreign, "schismatic" bishop into his holdings.  It's one thing if one of your own subjects is tossing about strange religious ideas, but quite another to let some foreigner do it in your own backyard.

Travel restricted by lack of speedy means of transportation, this I can see.

But were the borders actually that well protected?
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2010, 11:21:59 AM »




The side discussion on the Celtic and British Church's relationship with Rome and Constantinople has been split and can be found here: http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php/topic,28585.0.html

This is not an attempt to stop that discussion, (or the discussion about Luther) only to keep things neatly in their proper order. Please continue as you were.

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