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Author Topic: I don't understand the Evangelical mindset - never have, never will!!  (Read 42503 times) Average Rating: 0
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Liz
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« Reply #135 on: December 15, 2009, 02:43:40 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


Quote
It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.
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« Reply #136 on: December 15, 2009, 03:19:33 PM »

An unwarranted and arrogant assumption.

Unwarranted - yes.
Arrogant - not necessarily: maybe a genuine misunderstanding. I am sure there are some people in sacerdotal churches who rely on the sacraments and miss Christ himself. It would be strange if there weren't, for such people pepper the pages of Holy Writ and have always been present in religious circles. Just as there are doubtless Southern Baptists who rely on their one-off "sinner's prayer" (as you (and presumably they) term it) and have little or no concept of the need for ongoing faith, obedience, repentance and sanctity. How do I know that you are not indeed one such, and how do you know that I am not, given that (like those who come to your door) we have never met, and also that it is "the Lord" who "knows those who are his"?

Still arrogance, I'm afraid.  The fact that these people think they have the right to have an opinion or an understanding (or even a misunderstanding) about my salvation is nothing but pure arrogance.  What business is it of theirs?  None.  If they want to be true Christians and true Evangelicals, then their job is to spread the Gospel-- tell me of Christ's saving work and ministry, show me His love, not to judge whether or not I need to be saved.  It is for ME to work out my salvation in fear and trembling, not for THEM to work out.  And whether I have indeed worked it out is for God to decide, not them.  They have no right to even have an opinion about such a matter!  It shocks and appalls me that anyone would think to themselves, "well she's going straight to hell, since she's Orthodox," or any such nonsense.  And no matter how you sugar coat it in nice words, or change the wording around so it's not so harsh, it is essentially that kind of judgment. 

Nor do I have a right to have an opinion about their salvation or their relationship with Christ.  My spiritual father will work his hardest to ensure that I achieve salvation, but even he (who has probed the depths of my heart and searched out all of the little sins that keep me from salvation) makes no judgments about whether I am saved.  He would never presume to say that I am saved or not saved.  That is not his place.  His place is to lead me there as best he can.  The judging he leaves for Christ.
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« Reply #137 on: December 15, 2009, 03:27:05 PM »

this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship....  This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I assume you are referring to the continuity of the organisation (if that be the right word) of the Orthodox Church, tracing it back to the apostles. If so, you are entirely right in your post. I do not know anyone who would question it. The real question is, is this relevant? Our view, of course, is that it is not (otherwise clearly we'd all become Orthodox); your view is that it matters vitally. But that your Church's continuity stretches back to the apostles is not something I question.

I suspect that the Nestorians, Jacobites, Copts, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, if not indeed others, would make the same claim; and even we, if we were so minded, might trace our descent via the Waldenses to the apostolic churches. Some - maybe all - of these claims would be true: but we do not see it as spiritually important, though of course humanly, culturally, it is very delightful and satisfying.
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« Reply #138 on: December 15, 2009, 03:40:21 PM »

It shocks and appalls me that anyone would think to themselves, "well she's going straight to hell, since she's Orthodox,"

My spiritual father ... makes no judgments ... The judging he leaves for Christ.

I hope I am not one of those Evangelicals who have the effect upon which which you recorded from your visit to Chicago. If so, you'd better tell me. But of course, I am going to disagree with you again!

But first, I do wonder how much more pacifically and smoothly it would go if we could all sit down together round a table and - hopefully - enjoy one of your eponymous meals, and perhaps some of my elderberry wine, simultaneously with our discussions; then we could see each other's facial expression, and our gestures, and hear our tones of voice. Ah well, that will have to wait till the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (There are definitely some of you I'd like to meet there.) Anyway:

1) I agree with you and Katherine of Dixie that an assumption of salvation or lack of it, based purely on denominational affiliation, is quite daft. It is misguided and out of place among those who 'name the name of Christ'.

2) I don't know whether your post is deliberately or accidentally very clever, but its use of the word "judge" points people's reactions in a certain direction. To judge can mean something as harmless as to assess; or it can mean to pass a moral judgement as from a superior position. Of course we should attempt to assess ('judge') the spiritual needs of those with whom we are talking; to judge them in a condemning, superior sense, like the Pharisee in our Lord's parable, is quite another matter. No-one has the right to judge in the second sense; we all have the duty to do it in the former sense, in order to offer the best help, advice or guidance.
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« Reply #139 on: December 15, 2009, 04:18:37 PM »

The fact that these people think they have the right to have an opinion or an understanding (or even a misunderstanding) about my salvation is nothing but pure arrogance.  What business is it of theirs?  None.  If they want to be true Christians and true Evangelicals, then their job is to spread the Gospel-- tell me of Christ's saving work and ministry, show me His love, not to judge whether or not I need to be saved.  It is for ME to work out my salvation in fear and trembling, not for THEM to work out.  And whether I have indeed worked it out is for God to decide, not them.  They have no right to even have an opinion about such a matter!  It shocks and appalls me that anyone would think to themselves, "well she's going straight to hell, since she's Orthodox," or any such nonsense.  And no matter how you sugar coat it in nice words, or change the wording around so it's not so harsh, it is essentially that kind of judgment. 

Nor do I have a right to have an opinion about their salvation or their relationship with Christ...

In a nutshell.
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« Reply #140 on: December 15, 2009, 05:22:51 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


Quote
It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings?  

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.
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« Reply #141 on: December 15, 2009, 05:27:19 PM »

^ THANK YOU!! Wink
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« Reply #142 on: December 15, 2009, 05:38:52 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


Quote
It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings? 

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.

My basic point is that historical continuity does not necessarily prove a continuity of faith or practice. That's more important (as a point of logic) than anything else I could say.

However, there are I suppose two different answers to what you ask. One would be to observe that Christ was quick to show people how the Pharisees had become bogged down in the letter of the law, and had forgotten the spirit - and how laws that might once have been sensible adaptations to the lifestyle of the people had become chains. We can see that adaptation of the laws still happens. For example, in a hot country and in a nomadic lifestyle, it isn't a good idea to eat pork, as pigs don't like heat and travel and tend to get sick. But modern Christians don't abide by that Old Testament law any more. Similarly, we no longer take literally Christ's command to 'render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's', because we no longer have Roman rulers. We have adapted, and take the more general sense of Christ's instruction. For the Apostles, this command would still have had a literal meaning, but it no longer does for us.

These examples would be by way of suggesting that there is progress and change implicit in Christ's ministry and in subsequent teachings of the Church.

The other way to look at it would be to look at the attitude of Christ, and to consider the context in which He lived and in which the early Fathers lived. Christ chose to become man for our sins; He chose to do so at a particular time and in a particular place. I would submit that it is wrong, and arrogant, to ignore the temporality in which He placed Himself, whether we do this by pretending He chose to become incarnate in 21st century England/America, or whether we do it by pretending that there is really no difference between 21st century England and Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the first century.

I agree we should not bow to political correctness, btw!
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« Reply #143 on: December 15, 2009, 05:46:30 PM »

It shocks and appalls me that anyone would think to themselves, "well she's going straight to hell, since she's Orthodox,"

My spiritual father ... makes no judgments ... The judging he leaves for Christ.

I hope I am not one of those Evangelicals who have the effect upon which which you recorded from your visit to Chicago. If so, you'd better tell me. But of course, I am going to disagree with you again!
Don't worry, I'll let you know if you become one.  Smiley

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But first, I do wonder how much more pacifically and smoothly it would go if we could all sit down together round a table and - hopefully - enjoy one of your eponymous meals, and perhaps some of my elderberry wine, simultaneously with our discussions; then we could see each other's facial expression, and our gestures, and hear our tones of voice. Ah well, that will have to wait till the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (There are definitely some of you I'd like to meet there.) Anyway:
I'm sure you are right.  I'm sure our conversations would be somewhat different, though I try to hold myself to a standard on forums such as this-- I write only what I would be willing to say in person.

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1) I agree with you and Katherine of Dixie that an assumption of salvation or lack of it, based purely on denominational affiliation, is quite daft. It is misguided and out of place among those who 'name the name of Christ'.
I think you have shown us on this forum that you do agree, based on how our discussions have gone.  But as we have told you many times, you are not the average Evangelical Protestant, and our experiences with them have been many and quite different from our experiences with you.

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2) I don't know whether your post is deliberately or accidentally very clever, but its use of the word "judge" points people's reactions in a certain direction. To judge can mean something as harmless as to assess; or it can mean to pass a moral judgement as from a superior position. Of course we should attempt to assess ('judge') the spiritual needs of those with whom we are talking; to judge them in a condemning, superior sense, like the Pharisee in our Lord's parable, is quite another matter. No-one has the right to judge in the second sense; we all have the duty to do it in the former sense, in order to offer the best help, advice or guidance.

Ahhh, you caught me.  I did use the word "judge" purposely.  And really, I meant it in both senses.  Assessing a person's spiritual needs is fine when you are in a position of moral authority to do so.  But even then it has limits.  For instance, using the example of a spiritual father again... My spiritual father may assess that my spiritual need (based on something I've confessed) is to refrain from receiving Holy Communion for a week (God forbid-- it is a heavy thing to be barred from the chalice).  But he is in a position to make that assessment.  And ONLY he is in that position.  I would never presume to make such an assessment about him.  Nor would I ever presume to make such an assessment about a friend or co-worker.  I have no moral authority to do so.  Being a "Christian" (TM) does not automatically put a person in such authority, despite what the majority of Evangelicals seem to think. 

Now we're not talking about an assessment such as "oh she needs a little encouragement today."  When I am approached by friends and parishioners, I make a point to try to ask myself, "what does this person need?  How can I help this person and fill that need?"  That type of assessment is not what we're talking about.  That is helpful and harmless.

Attempting to assess the state of someone else's salvation or relationship with Christ is harmful (to both the one assessing and the one assessed) and unhelpful.  I say "attempting" because of course we can NEVER know the heart of another person and their relationship with Christ.  That is between them and Christ.

In my opinion, the second type of judgment which you mention-- that of superiority and condemnation, is par for the course with Evangelicals in my experience (having grown up in the same area of the world as KatherineofDixie).  It is also inherent in the type of assessment that we are discussing.  Attempting to assess a person's state of salvation and relationship with Christ IS patronizing and superior.
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« Reply #144 on: December 15, 2009, 06:17:05 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


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It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings? 

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.

My basic point is that historical continuity does not necessarily prove a continuity of faith or practice. That's more important (as a point of logic) than anything else I could say.
Yes but how does one with NO historical continuity claim a continuity of faith or practice?  The word "continuity" implies that there is at the least a past and a present, with a succession (there's that word again) in between which it is uninterrupted.  If there is no historical continuity, there can be physically no continuity of faith or practice.  It's not possible.  You can make it up, or attempt to go back to the beginning (which is what I think Protestants have tried to do), but either way the continuity is broken.

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However, there are I suppose two different answers to what you ask. One would be to observe that Christ was quick to show people how the Pharisees had become bogged down in the letter of the law, and had forgotten the spirit - and how laws that might once have been sensible adaptations to the lifestyle of the people had become chains. We can see that adaptation of the laws still happens. For example, in a hot country and in a nomadic lifestyle, it isn't a good idea to eat pork, as pigs don't like heat and travel and tend to get sick. But modern Christians don't abide by that Old Testament law any more. Similarly, we no longer take literally Christ's command to 'render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's', because we no longer have Roman rulers. We have adapted, and take the more general sense of Christ's instruction. For the Apostles, this command would still have had a literal meaning, but it no longer does for us.
This is slippery slope logic, and doesn't work.  Eating pork doesn't change the spirit of the law.  Allowing homosexual relationships and women priests does.

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These examples would be by way of suggesting that there is progress and change implicit in Christ's ministry and in subsequent teachings of the Church.


The other way to look at it would be to look at the attitude of Christ, and to consider the context in which He lived and in which the early Fathers lived. Christ chose to become man for our sins; He chose to do so at a particular time and in a particular place. I would submit that it is wrong, and arrogant, to ignore the temporality in which He placed Himself, whether we do this by pretending He chose to become incarnate in 21st century England/America, or whether we do it by pretending that there is really no difference between 21st century England and Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the first century.
Yes, we must consider the context.  But we must also consider what He did within that context.  The reason they crucified Christ was because He broke social and cultural norms and laws.  He wasn't bound by societal laws.  He showed us many times the important place that women held, but if He had wanted women priests, there was nothing stopping Him from ordaining them Himself.  Yet He did not.  He chose men.  He did not disallow women to follow Him, and relied on them greatly in His ministry.  But He did not ordain them.  Further, He blessed the marriage at Cana of a man and women.  Homosexuality was just as rampant (if not moreso) then than it is now.  With Roman society dominating over the Jews, there would have been absolutely nothing to stop Him from blessing a homosexual union.  Again, He did not.  Yes, context is very important.  But it must be viewed properly.

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I agree we should not bow to political correctness, btw!
But is that not what you are suggesting?  To bow to political correctness?  Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...
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« Reply #145 on: December 15, 2009, 06:23:25 PM »

this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship....  This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I assume you are referring to the continuity of the organisation (if that be the right word) of the Orthodox Church, tracing it back to the apostles. If so, you are entirely right in your post. I do not know anyone who would question it. The real question is, is this relevant? Our view, of course, is that it is not (otherwise clearly we'd all become Orthodox); your view is that it matters vitally. But that your Church's continuity stretches back to the apostles is not something I question.

I suspect that the Nestorians, Jacobites, Copts, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, if not indeed others, would make the same claim; and even we, if we were so minded, might trace our descent via the Waldenses to the apostolic churches. Some - maybe all - of these claims would be true: but we do not see it as spiritually important, though of course humanly, culturally, it is very delightful and satisfying.

There's a difference between the Orthodox and the Nestorians, Jacobites, Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  The difference is the UNBROKEN line.  There may be a line with the others, but it is broken.  They were condemned by the people, thrown out, in schism, rejected, pick a term.  Meanwhile, the faith as it originally was continued.  There was never a breaking of communion within Orthodoxy.  Those groups broke communion and went away.  Their subsequent priests, etc. were ordained by bishops who were no longer being commemorated by the other bishops in the Church (like the Pope-- no longer commemorated by all the other bishops except those who fall under him.  Those of formerly equal rank do not recognize him).  They were on there own, solitary, isolated.  They were no longer part of the community and body of Christ.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  "Line" is not the key word.  "Unbroken" is.
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« Reply #146 on: December 15, 2009, 06:28:15 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


Quote
It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings? 

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.

My basic point is that historical continuity does not necessarily prove a continuity of faith or practice. That's more important (as a point of logic) than anything else I could say.
Yes but how does one with NO historical continuity claim a continuity of faith or practice?  The word "continuity" implies that there is at the least a past and a present, with a succession (there's that word again) in between which it is uninterrupted.  If there is no historical continuity, there can be physically no continuity of faith or practice.  It's not possible.  You can make it up, or attempt to go back to the beginning (which is what I think Protestants have tried to do), but either way the continuity is broken.

No historical continuity? Christians brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world, to places like Britain. In England, in the late middle ages, people became increasingly worried that, while many had remained faithful, some - even in the hierarchy of the Church - had not. They reformed themselves, attempting to keep and to strengthen the ancient and true faith, so that it should not be buried under what I am sure they could have called 'political correctness' - the Catholic Church's contemporary stance.

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Quote
However, there are I suppose two different answers to what you ask. One would be to observe that Christ was quick to show people how the Pharisees had become bogged down in the letter of the law, and had forgotten the spirit - and how laws that might once have been sensible adaptations to the lifestyle of the people had become chains. We can see that adaptation of the laws still happens. For example, in a hot country and in a nomadic lifestyle, it isn't a good idea to eat pork, as pigs don't like heat and travel and tend to get sick. But modern Christians don't abide by that Old Testament law any more. Similarly, we no longer take literally Christ's command to 'render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's', because we no longer have Roman rulers. We have adapted, and take the more general sense of Christ's instruction. For the Apostles, this command would still have had a literal meaning, but it no longer does for us.
This is slippery slope logic, and doesn't work.  Eating pork doesn't change the spirit of the law.  Allowing homosexual relationships and women priests does.

You may well be right, but unless you can demonstrate this is so without recourse to the teachings of the One True Church (since that truth, and the identity of that Church, are what we seek to establish), I can only hold this as your personal opinion.


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Quote
These examples would be by way of suggesting that there is progress and change implicit in Christ's ministry and in subsequent teachings of the Church.


The other way to look at it would be to look at the attitude of Christ, and to consider the context in which He lived and in which the early Fathers lived. Christ chose to become man for our sins; He chose to do so at a particular time and in a particular place. I would submit that it is wrong, and arrogant, to ignore the temporality in which He placed Himself, whether we do this by pretending He chose to become incarnate in 21st century England/America, or whether we do it by pretending that there is really no difference between 21st century England and Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the first century.
Yes, we must consider the context.  But we must also consider what He did within that context.  The reason they crucified Christ was because He broke social and cultural norms and laws.  He wasn't bound by societal laws.  He showed us many times the important place that women held, but if He had wanted women priests, there was nothing stopping Him from ordaining them Himself.  Yet He did not.  He chose men.  He did not disallow women to follow Him, and relied on them greatly in His ministry.  But He did not ordain them.  Further, He blessed the marriage at Cana of a man and women.  Homosexuality was just as rampant (if not moreso) then than it is now. 

Christ came to a faithful who were few. It was important that they build families and churches. Now, however, there is surely no need for us to overpopulate the world. Surely this is crucial?

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With Roman society dominating over the Jews, there would have been absolutely nothing to stop Him from blessing a homosexual union. 

I don't quite understand. I know of no Roman society that ever considered sanctioning monogamous homosexual relationships in general. Homosexual affairs were tolerated and even celebrated, but as far as I know, the first duty of a man (or woman) of good standing was to produce children, something they could not do within a monogamous homosexual relationship.

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Again, He did not.  Yes, context is very important.  But it must be viewed properly.

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I agree we should not bow to political correctness, btw!
But is that not what you are suggesting?  To bow to political correctness?  Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong...

When did I suggest we bow to political correctness? Please point me to the passage that made you think this?
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« Reply #147 on: December 15, 2009, 06:28:53 PM »

this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship....  This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I assume you are referring to the continuity of the organisation (if that be the right word) of the Orthodox Church, tracing it back to the apostles. If so, you are entirely right in your post. I do not know anyone who would question it. The real question is, is this relevant? Our view, of course, is that it is not (otherwise clearly we'd all become Orthodox); your view is that it matters vitally. But that your Church's continuity stretches back to the apostles is not something I question.

I suspect that the Nestorians, Jacobites, Copts, Anglicans and Roman Catholics, if not indeed others, would make the same claim; and even we, if we were so minded, might trace our descent via the Waldenses to the apostolic churches. Some - maybe all - of these claims would be true: but we do not see it as spiritually important, though of course humanly, culturally, it is very delightful and satisfying.

There's a difference between the Orthodox and the Nestorians, Jacobites, Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  The difference is the UNBROKEN line.  There may be a line with the others, but it is broken.  They were condemned by the people, thrown out, in schism, rejected, pick a term.  Meanwhile, the faith as it originally was continued.  There was never a breaking of communion within Orthodoxy.  Those groups broke communion and went away.  Their subsequent priests, etc. were ordained by bishops who were no longer being commemorated by the other bishops in the Church (like the Pope-- no longer commemorated by all the other bishops except those who fall under him.  Those of formerly equal rank do not recognize him).  They were on there own, solitary, isolated.  They were no longer part of the community and body of Christ.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  "Line" is not the key word.  "Unbroken" is.

'The Great Schism' comes to mind.
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« Reply #148 on: December 16, 2009, 02:39:43 AM »

With respect, Liz, the Great Schism, far from diluting GreekChef's argument, actually strengthens it. It was Rome that fell away from apostolic Christianity, not Orthodoxy. Once we get to further divisions which split off from Rome during the Reformation and beyond, these churches become further distanced in doctrine, theology and practice, from the Church founded in AD33. Them's the facts, I'm afraid.  Smiley
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« Reply #149 on: December 16, 2009, 02:41:24 AM »

There's a difference between the Orthodox and the Nestorians, Jacobites, Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  The difference is the UNBROKEN line.  There may be a line with the others, but it is broken.  They were condemned by the people, thrown out, in schism, rejected, pick a term.  Meanwhile, the faith as it originally was continued.  There was never a breaking of communion within Orthodoxy.  Those groups broke communion and went away.  Their subsequent priests, etc. were ordained by bishops who were no longer being commemorated by the other bishops in the Church (like the Pope-- no longer commemorated by all the other bishops except those who fall under him.  Those of formerly equal rank do not recognize him).  They were on there own, solitary, isolated.  They were no longer part of the community and body of Christ.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  "Line" is not the key word.  "Unbroken" is.

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« Reply #150 on: December 16, 2009, 02:48:27 AM »

I met an Evangelical today that called my an atheist just because I said that I have no desire to change and I am at peace in my fore-fathers' religion. I called him a heretic and a sectarian.
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« Reply #151 on: December 16, 2009, 04:23:52 AM »

With respect, Liz, the Great Schism, far from diluting GreekChef's argument, actually strengthens it. It was Rome that fell away from apostolic Christianity, not Orthodoxy. Once we get to further divisions which split off from Rome during the Reformation and beyond, these churches become further distanced in doctrine, theology and practice, from the Church founded in AD33. Them's the facts, I'm afraid.  Smiley

Look, it's one thing to be proud of your Church, and another thing to claim something as fact when you know that there is a considerable lack of consensus. I have met plenty of Catholics who are happy to tell me it's a 'fact' that the Orthodox Church split off from the Catholic Church, not the other way around.

'Historical fact' is a very tricky category of knowledge. It is a fact that the world is round. However, it is not a fact that, prior to the circumnavigation of the globe, everyone believed that the world was flat. Sailors had been aware of the curvature of the horizon for centuries. Moreover, as an exercise, the circumnavigation was not conclusive proof that the world was a sphere. You would need to do more trips, looking at the constellations more, before you could say for certain that you were standing on a sphere.

What we are dealing with here is far more complex and less amenable to proof than whether or not the world is round. It is very difficult to use the historical facts (eg., 'There has been an Orthodox Church on this site and in use for /// years') to prove what people have believed over a period of time.

As to continuity, England has been a monarchy for over a thousand years. Even during the Protectorate, the dead king's son was still alive to take the throne. Unbroken continuity! How amazing! And yet, though all sorts of inanimate objects and rituals and customs have passed down through the ages, both the nature of kingship and the ruling families have changed several times.

I don't disagree that Orthodoxy's claim to be the historical Church is an impressive claim; I'm certainly not hoping to convince anyone who believes it that the Orthodox Church is not the historical Church founded at Pentecost. But I do think it's important to acknowledge that historical facts about continuity do not in themselves constitute proof positive that the Church has remained true in spirit to Her beginnings at Pentecost and in Christ's ministry.
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« Reply #152 on: December 16, 2009, 05:00:13 AM »


I don't disagree that Orthodoxy's claim to be the historical Church is an impressive claim; I'm certainly not hoping to convince anyone who believes it that the Orthodox Church is not the historical Church founded at Pentecost. But I do think it's important to acknowledge that historical facts about continuity do not in themselves constitute proof positive that the Church has remained true in spirit to Her beginnings at Pentecost and in Christ's ministry.

Agreed, the preservation of truth as handed down by the apostles cannot be definitively proven. What we do have to support our case is the writings from the Church fathers/saints, history, and the Holy Scriptures. We must use what we have available to see for ourselves whether they agree with the present day claims and practice of the Church.
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« Reply #153 on: December 16, 2009, 05:08:47 AM »


I don't disagree that Orthodoxy's claim to be the historical Church is an impressive claim; I'm certainly not hoping to convince anyone who believes it that the Orthodox Church is not the historical Church founded at Pentecost. But I do think it's important to acknowledge that historical facts about continuity do not in themselves constitute proof positive that the Church has remained true in spirit to Her beginnings at Pentecost and in Christ's ministry.

Agreed, the preservation of truth as handed down by the apostles cannot be definitively proven. What we do have to support our case is the writings from the Church fathers/saints, history, and the Holy Scriptures. We must use what we have available to see for ourselves whether they agree with the present day claims and practice of the Church.

Certainly. With this, I strongly agree.
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« Reply #154 on: December 16, 2009, 07:18:58 AM »

I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost ... could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?

Great! A moment to savour! I agree 100% with GreekChef. The scriptures clearly forbid homosexual relations, telling us plainly that such perversion is an abomination to God and that those who do such things will not enter the kingdom (unless of course they repent, for "such were some of you"). Also, the NT clearly forbids women to preach or exercise authority over the church.
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« Reply #155 on: December 16, 2009, 07:34:48 AM »

using the example of a spiritual father again...

Sadly the concept of a "spiritual father" is something rather rare in Evangelical circles, and I think we are impoverished as a result. Some are blessed enough to 'happen' to know a person who is both qualified and willing to fill such a rôle, but this is rare; some seek out such a person. Those who seek out such an adviser/mentor/father tend, I think, to be on the 'softer' end of the Evangelical spectrum and to have been touched to some degree by the Charismatic movement, and they are likely to seek out a monk (or perhaps a nun), Catholic or Anglican. I believe Liz, being in the Anglican Church, could tell us more about this practice.

This is one reason why I wish that you Orthodox would not tell us that we cannot treat your Church like a cafeteria (or buffet), taking what we want and leaving other parts - for I feel fairly sure that many would be more drawn to an Orthodox 'spiritual father' than a Catholic one. You would be in a position to bless us; but as things stand at present you would feel constrained to tell us we must become Orthodox, whereas the Catholics presumably do not overtly seek to draw those they mentor into the Roman fold.

This is one area where the individualism of Protestantism has gone too far, and has only recently begun to be corrected.
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« Reply #156 on: December 16, 2009, 07:36:29 AM »

I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost ... could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?

Great! A moment to savour! I agree 100% with GreekChef. The scriptures clearly forbid homosexual relations, telling us plainly that such perversion is an abomination to God and that those who do such things will not enter the kingdom (unless of course they repent, for "such were some of you"). Also, the NT clearly forbids women to preach or exercise authority over the church.

I am savouring the moment! But, there's still all the old chestnuts about the NT also saying things like 'give Cesar's coins back to Cesar' (I don't see anyone encouraging the British Museum to return old coins to Italy or to search for descendants of Constantine), and the minor point that the doctrine of the Trinity is nowhere explicitly stated in the Bible at all. Doctrine has to be developed and consolidated, or none of us would be where we are today.
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« Reply #157 on: December 16, 2009, 07:53:07 AM »

how does one with NO historical continuity claim a continuity of faith or practice?  ... If there is no historical continuity, there can be physically no continuity of faith or practice.  It's not possible.  

We've got on to ecclesiology. To us (I write now as a Baptist, not just a Protestant or Evangelical), what constitutes a church is a body of believers, baptised by immersion after coming to faith, meeting regularly for worship including the Lord's Supper, and the preaching and teaching of the Faith. Ideally (it is not always practically possible, but should be aimed for at the earliest opportunity) such a church should also have its own elders, who are sometimes appointed from within, and sometimes (one at least) invited from elsewhere. The practice of a church having one elder, called a pastor and usually paid, has grown up but is not an intrinsic part of what constitutes a church. How such a church came into being, and what historical links it has with other churches of like faith and order, is not part of the question. You write of "continuity of faith and practice" with "no historical continuity", and you are right - this is how we believe. The Faith we hold, and the practice I have just described, define our churches; there does not need to be a historical continuity, but there is of course spiritual union with all Christ's churches down through the ages.
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« Reply #158 on: December 16, 2009, 11:19:30 AM »

With respect, Liz, the Great Schism, far from diluting GreekChef's argument, actually strengthens it. It was Rome that fell away from apostolic Christianity, not Orthodoxy. Once we get to further divisions which split off from Rome during the Reformation and beyond, these churches become further distanced in doctrine, theology and practice, from the Church founded in AD33. Them's the facts, I'm afraid.  Smiley

Look, it's one thing to be proud of your Church, and another thing to claim something as fact when you know that there is a considerable lack of consensus. I have met plenty of Catholics who are happy to tell me it's a 'fact' that the Orthodox Church split off from the Catholic Church, not the other way around.


Well, here are the facts, Liz. What does it sound like to you?

Humbert of Mourmoutiers, the cardinal-bishop of Silva Candida, was sent with legatine powers to Constantinople to resolve the dispute between Pope Leo and Patriarch Michael.  When the papal party arrived in April 1054, they did not receive a warm welcome and in fact, “they stormed out of the palace, leaving the papal response with Patriarch Michael, who was even more angered by their actions, and refused to recognize their authority or, practically, their existence.” With the death of Pope Leo soon after the papal party’s arrival, technically their authority was null and void, but “they effectively ignored this technicality.”

“One summer afternoon in the year 1054, as a service was about to begin in the Church of the Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) at Constantinople, Cardinal Humbert and two other legates of the Pope entered the building and made their way up to the sanctuary. They had not come to pray. They placed a Bull of Excommunication upon the altar and marched out once more. As he passed through the western door, the Cardinal shook the dust from his feet with the words: 'Let God look and judge.' A deacon ran out after him in great distress and begged him to take back the Bull. Humbert refused; and it was dropped in the street.” The Orthodox Church, Bp. Kallistos Ware
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« Reply #159 on: December 16, 2009, 11:28:07 AM »

I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests.

But that is your opinion and interpretation. You may be right, (of course, I don't think so, but I'm willing to accept the theoretical possibility!  Wink) but there is no evidence to say that Christ and the Apostles were ok with monogamous homosexual relationships or women priests. There is, however, evidence to the contrary, including centuries of Church teaching and praxis.

What you are saying, it seems to me, is that the Christ you believe in certainly must and should agree with your opinions on such issues. Again, it seems to me, that this is not always the case. He constantly radically challenges our own opinions and assumptions.
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« Reply #160 on: December 16, 2009, 11:42:50 AM »

I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests.

But that is your opinion and interpretation. You may be right, (of course, I don't think so, but I'm willing to accept the theoretical possibility!  Wink) but there is no evidence to say that Christ and the Apostles were ok with monogamous homosexual relationships or women priests. There is, however, evidence to the contrary, including centuries of Church teaching and praxis.

What you are saying, it seems to me, is that the Christ you believe in certainly must and should agree with your opinions on such issues. Again, it seems to me, that this is not always the case. He constantly radically challenges our own opinions and assumptions.

No, I'm not saying that the Church should agree with me! I merely want to demonstrate that historical facts do not in themselves prove spiritual continuity. All I a really looking for is that 'theoretical possibility' you mention - that's what matters.

I am knowingly giving rather dramatic examples counter-examples, and I'm quite happy to accept that, if it's got us to the point where we can talk about the 'theoretical possibility'. I think the Orthodox Church has an excellent and persuasive case for being the True Church founded at Pentecost; I think there is good strong evidence for most of Her teachings. All I want to say is that this strong case is not proof.

In the same way that it's not right for someone to say, 'You've not been baptized into new life in my church; you'll go to hell', it is also not right to make 'historical fact' deputize for theological truth.
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« Reply #161 on: December 16, 2009, 11:55:29 AM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


Quote
It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings?  

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.

My basic point is that historical continuity does not necessarily prove a continuity of faith or practice. That's more important (as a point of logic) than anything else I could say.

However, there are I suppose two different answers to what you ask. One would be to observe that Christ was quick to show people how the Pharisees had become bogged down in the letter of the law, and had forgotten the spirit - and how laws that might once have been sensible adaptations to the lifestyle of the people had become chains. We can see that adaptation of the laws still happens. For example, in a hot country and in a nomadic lifestyle, it isn't a good idea to eat pork, as pigs don't like heat and travel and tend to get sick. But modern Christians don't abide by that Old Testament law any more. Similarly, we no longer take literally Christ's command to 'render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's', because we no longer have Roman rulers. We have adapted, and take the more general sense of Christ's instruction. For the Apostles, this command would still have had a literal meaning, but it no longer does for us.

These examples would be by way of suggesting that there is progress and change implicit in Christ's ministry and in subsequent teachings of the Church.

The other way to look at it would be to look at the attitude of Christ, and to consider the context in which He lived and in which the early Fathers lived. Christ chose to become man for our sins; He chose to do so at a particular time and in a particular place. I would submit that it is wrong, and arrogant, to ignore the temporality in which He placed Himself, whether we do this by pretending He chose to become incarnate in 21st century England/America, or whether we do it by pretending that there is really no difference between 21st century England and Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the first century.

I agree we should not bow to political correctness, btw!

Yes indeed, you are faced with just two choices. You can say that The Church disbanded at some point ( you would need to provide names and dates) or you need to say that the Church has a different faith than whatever you feel is normative. We can discuss both or these if you want.

Your example of The Church's view of Homosexual "Marriage" is a good case in point. Your personal feeling seems to be that this should be allowed. We don't base what the Church teaches on what we feel at any given moment, even if that feeling seems compassionate or fair. We look at the entire span of Christian History to see if there has been a clear and consistent teaching. In the case of Marriage we find such consistency. Marriage is strictly between one Man and one Woman. We are bound by this. At no point did The Church declare that we are free to alter the teachings of the Christian Faith to the degree that would be needed to call the Union between two Men or Two Women a "Marriage". That is why we are called Orthodox, and not a new entity that is not bound by the historical teachings and morals of Christianity.

Oh and, we "Condemn" no one. We are just stating what is. Marriage has been understood as between one Man and one Woman for the entire span of Christian history..
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« Reply #162 on: December 16, 2009, 12:00:10 PM »

^ Plain and simple, It is not lawful for a man to lay with a man, or a woman to do likewise. The scripture doesn't mince words on this. To change this principle is to go against the very words of the Bible. This would not be Christian. It would be something entirely different.
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« Reply #163 on: December 16, 2009, 12:11:17 PM »

If I believe that I am a Real Christian(tm) ... and everyone else who hasn't had my particular kind of spiritual experience isn't a Real Christian(tm) - that is spiritual pride by definition,

I don't think so. But first, let me ask what (tm) means.

There are two ways of looking at this (among many other ways, no doubt). One is that we do speak a different jargon from each other, and in any society or group, whether religious or secular, we tend to recognise "insiders" by the way they refer to things. We have our Evangelical jargon - sometimes fondly called "the language of Zion" - and if someone has mastery of it, it tends to be assumed that he is 'one of us'. There is of course far more to recognising another Christian than the way he talks, but it does function as a clue or prompt. So if I meet an Orthodox and we discuss our beliefs and experiences, I'm likely to react by thinking (or at least feeling) that he is not talking about the same thing as I am. The other way round, I suspect that you and we do in fact have much the same core experience of the Lord - for how could it be otherwise, if in truth we know him in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek nor other distinction? - but we won't recognise that immediately when we initiate conversation. So if you can't tell me when or how you were born again, or that you enjoy assurance of salvation, I'm likely to suspect these blessings are not yet yours. When I tell you how I became a Christian, and speak of my assurance, but fail to rejoice in the ancient liturgy, the apostolic priesthood, and so on, you are likely to wonder what manner of faith I am talking about, and to conclude it is certainly not yours. But in reality I suspect that the Lord has graciously blessed us both with regeneration and with an awareness of being one of his children. But how can we convey that to each other without first of all penetrating each other's patois?

This is why Albanian Orthodox consider us irreligious: we have no robes, no icons, plain buildings, almost no church calendar, no overt fasting, no incense, indeed no priests. We seem irreligious. But conversely Evangelicals look at the Orthodox, see all these things and more, and perceive only religiosity and no new birth in Christ. In neither case is the assumption justified: we (as a body) are not irreligious, and many indeed have been willing to die for the Lord through the centuries; you do not have only a lifeless religiosity; although I have no doubt there are plenty of irreligious people who do attend Baptist services in Britain if not anywhere else, and equally little doubt that there really are Orthodox who never penetrate more deeply beyond human religiosity. But we are not discussing those who come to our churches and worship God with their lips whilst their hearts are far from him: we are discussing why people in one camp almost automatically consider those in the other to be unsaved (or whatever word Orthodox vocabulary would use for that concept).

So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church, and when I assume you have not been made a partaker of divine grace because you do not speak of your conversion and your assurance of salvation, neither you nor I are motivated by pride. There are of course two possibilities: either each is misunderstanding the other, even though we are both in Christ; or one of us, for whatever reason, really does not personally know the Lord. But the former error leads to the response, even when it is a mistaken conclusion. But it is not motivated by pride.

Of course, when I write of "I" and "you" I am using us as cyphers for an Evangelical and an Orthodox: I do not personally mean David Young and Katherine of Dixie.

Someone on one post mentioned the babushkas in Russia with their deep, comprehensive devotion and the reality of their simple faith. Likewise, I preach in country chapels in England and Wales and meet people who speak to me warmly, nay glowingly, of their love for Christ, their adoration of him, their joy in God's grace towards them in forgiveness and reconciliation with God. I cannot somehow believe that these good people are all unsaved, and their love and trust towards Christ is all hollow and devoid of reality, because they are Baptists or Pentecostals or whatever, rather than Eastern Orthodox. There is a reality there which is too conspicuous to be devoid of divine life and grace.

As I have written before, it is quite possible to be proud of one's Orthodox or one's Baptist (or other Evangelical) heritage, and it is quite possible to look down smugly on those in the other camp as unregenerate (shall I borrow a word and say) non-entities. Neither our churches nor yours has a monopoly on people who harbour misplaced pride. But in itself, a failure to recognise Christ where he is genuinely present can arise from other less sinful causes.

...So when you assume I have not been made a partaker of divine life because I am not in the only true church<<<<

We don't recognize any sort of formulation like this. We don't speak of an Only True Church. We claim the Church founded on Petecost and carried on from there never actually disbanded and is still around. If you follow scripture, that gives The Church certain protections and grace as well as experience. But just like there cant be more than one God there cant be more than one Actual Historic Church. It's just a plain and simple fact. You may not like or agree with the Historic Church, but that does not bare upon our authenticity and we believe our authority.

It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.


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It also does not guarantee your salvation wether you are part of the Church or not. However, when you very definition of Salvation differs from how it has been understood through direct Apostolic succession as yours seems to, it's a red flag to be looked into... I would think Smiley



>>>It does not bear on your belief in the authenticity of your Church. But you must acknowledge that there are those who simply do not believe that the Orthodox Church today is the same as the Church founded on Pentecost. Ultimately, it still comes down to, 'We believe ours is the One True Church' versus, 'We don't believe yours is the One True Church'.
<<<

But this is not area of speculation or religious belief. This is the realm of historical scholarship.There are people who don't think Obama is an American despite the documentation.

 This is not a matter of persuasion or argumentation, it's a matter of education. What you then do with the facts as they are is your business.

I don't think it is a matter of education. I find it impossible to accept that the same Church founded at Pentecost with Christ's parables of how to treat one another and His example, could possibly be a Church that condemns monogamous homosexual relations in the 21st century and refuses to allow woman priests. The fact that the Orthodox Church records no momentous occasion, does not mean that She has not gradually pulled away from the true spirit of Christ's Church. I say this not to provoke retaliation (please!), but to try and explain why what you see as simple historical fact, is far from being so simple.

With all due respect, because I know these are hot topics, where did Christ tell us that we should change with the times and remain politically correct?  The Truths that He gave us are for ALL times, 1st century, 4th, 21st, 31st, 10000th.  Why would we change that?  He is clear in His teachings in both the Old and New Testaments.  Should we compromise the faith and abandoned the Truths that He commanded we keep for the sake of political correctness or hurting someone's feelings? 

I know I'm making this rather more simple than it is, but in a sense it is simple, as far as I'm concerned.  What He taught us was simple.  It is how we react to His teaching by placing our pride and arrogance first that complicates matters exponentially.

My basic point is that historical continuity does not necessarily prove a continuity of faith or practice. That's more important (as a point of logic) than anything else I could say.

However, there are I suppose two different answers to what you ask. One would be to observe that Christ was quick to show people how the Pharisees had become bogged down in the letter of the law, and had forgotten the spirit - and how laws that might once have been sensible adaptations to the lifestyle of the people had become chains. We can see that adaptation of the laws still happens. For example, in a hot country and in a nomadic lifestyle, it isn't a good idea to eat pork, as pigs don't like heat and travel and tend to get sick. But modern Christians don't abide by that Old Testament law any more. Similarly, we no longer take literally Christ's command to 'render unto Cesar that which is Cesar's', because we no longer have Roman rulers. We have adapted, and take the more general sense of Christ's instruction. For the Apostles, this command would still have had a literal meaning, but it no longer does for us.

These examples would be by way of suggesting that there is progress and change implicit in Christ's ministry and in subsequent teachings of the Church.

The other way to look at it would be to look at the attitude of Christ, and to consider the context in which He lived and in which the early Fathers lived. Christ chose to become man for our sins; He chose to do so at a particular time and in a particular place. I would submit that it is wrong, and arrogant, to ignore the temporality in which He placed Himself, whether we do this by pretending He chose to become incarnate in 21st century England/America, or whether we do it by pretending that there is really no difference between 21st century England and Nazareth, Bethlehem and Jerusalem in the first century.

I agree we should not bow to political correctness, btw!

Yes indeed, you are faced with just two choices. You can say that The Church disbanded at some point ( you would need to provide names and dates) or you need to say that the Church has a different faith than whatever you feel is normative. We can discuss both or these if you want.

I think I would only have to do the first of your suggestions if I wanted to prove that there is another, more correct, Church than the Orthodox Church. I don't want to try to prove that; I don't believe it's possible. All I want to do is to demonstrate that historical continuity does not ensure spiritual continuity.

I'm not sure what you mean by 'normative' faith?

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Your example of The Church's view of Homosexual "Marriage" is a good case in point. Your personal feeling seems to be that this should be allowed. We don't base what the Church teaches on what we feel at any given moment, even if that feeling seems compassionate or fair. We look at the entire span of Christian History to see if there has been a clear and consistent teaching. In the case of Marriage we find such consistency. Marriage is strictly between one Man and one Woman. We are bound by this. At no point did The Church declare that we are free to alter the teachings of the Christian Faith to the degree that would be needed to call the Union between two Men or Two Women a "Marriage". That is why we are called Orthodox, and not a new entity that is not bound by the historical teachings and morals of Christianity.

I understand your perspective here. I didn't want to say, 'let's rehash the debate on homosexuality', but rather, I wanted to show that it's perfectly possible to observe things that are said in the NT or by the early Fathers, which the Orthodox Church today would not understand in the same way (the Cesar example), and it's not easy to say why these are qualitatively different from those things retained by the Orthodox Church. However, this statement was mainly in response to questioning as to why I (or someone else) might believe the Orthodox Church has deviated from the True Church of Christ.

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Oh and, we "Condemn" no one. We are just stating what is. Marriage has been understood as between one Man and one Woman for the entire span of Christian history..

What of divorce, then? In the Catholic Church, marriage has been understood as between one man and one woman since Christ founded the Church, and that belief continues to the present day. A Catholic might see both your and our interpretations of marriage as heresy.
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« Reply #164 on: December 16, 2009, 12:45:31 PM »

No historical continuity? Christians brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world, to places like Britain. In England, in the late middle ages, people became increasingly worried that, while many had remained faithful, some - even in the hierarchy of the Church - had not. They reformed themselves, attempting to keep and to strengthen the ancient and true faith, so that it should not be buried under what I am sure they could have called 'political correctness' - the Catholic Church's contemporary stance.
The key words here are "in the late middle ages."  You're talking about over a thousand years later!  You are also talking about post-schism.  The hierarchy that they were so concerned about was that of the ROMAN CATHOLIC Church, not the Orthodox.  That's two strikes against continuity- both historical and that of faith and practice. 


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You may well be right, but unless you can demonstrate this is so without recourse to the teachings of the One True Church (since that truth, and the identity of that Church, are what we seek to establish), I can only hold this as your personal opinion.
I'm afraid the burden of proof is on you.  I can present plenty of scriptural evidence AGAINST homosexual unions, can you present any FOR them?

The argument that you present of "context" (though I would say of context mis-interpreted) is one that I hear often, but as far as I'm concerned, doesn't hold water.  If we summarily dismiss the teachings of Christ as outdated simply because the historical context was different from our modern context, then where do we end up?  Oh, that's right, we end up as Protestants, picking and choosing what to accept and what not to accept.   Wink

As I said before, the teachings of Christ ARE for ALL times and ALL places and ALL people.  We must conform ourselves to be as He as asked us and do as He has asked us.  We should NOT attempt to reform what He has taught in order to fit ourselves so that we may live more comfortably.  God gives us all struggles, homosexuality is just one of them, and we should give Him glory for ALL of them, that we may undertake the struggles as a martyrdom for Him!  I know, easy for me to say.  But while I acknowledge that the struggle of homosexuality is a serious, difficult one that at times I'm sure can be overwhelming, I also acknowledge that there are other struggles in life that are just as great, just as difficult for other people.

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Christ came to a faithful who were few. It was important that they build families and churches. Now, however, there is surely no need for us to overpopulate the world. Surely this is crucial?
There are two problems here.
1. Are we overpopulating the world?  I don't think so, personally.  Every life is precious in God's eyes, none is a burden.  In addition, we should consider that in "western" countries like the US, Britain, etc. overpopulation is not an issue.  Not only is it not an issue, but we are seeing a DECLINE in population in predominantly Christian countries (which are the ones, btw, where homosexual unions are socially acceptable).  And we are seeing a RISE in population among predominantly Muslim countries.  At the rate we are going, if we DON'T start lifting up the family and populating at higher rates, countries like Canada and France will be Muslim in a few short years, with Britain and the US and others not far behind. 
2. You are reducing the purpose of marriage to simply procreation.  This is a very Roman Catholic view.  Marriage is not simply for the purpose of pro-creation.  All the way back to Genesis we see that there are other purposes for marriage (it is not good for man to be alone-- a help-mate).  And that's just Genesis.  I would go on throughout the rest of Scripture, but I think it would be tangential.  You get my point.  God had other reasons for marital union, yet He was STILL quite clear that it was ONLY for man and woman.

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I don't quite understand. I know of no Roman society that ever considered sanctioning monogamous homosexual relationships in general. Homosexual affairs were tolerated and even celebrated, but as far as I know, the first duty of a man (or woman) of good standing was to produce children, something they could not do within a monogamous homosexual relationship.
"Homosexual affairs were tolerated and even celebrated."  Your words.  Considering that this was normal in Roman Society, it would not have been a huge leap if Christ had blessed a homosexual union.  Yet He did not. 

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When did I suggest we bow to political correctness? Please point me to the passage that made you think this?
The whole suggestion of accepting homosexual unions despite the clear and obvious admonitions against them in Scripture is political correctness, as is allowing women priests.

I don't want to start another tangent here, but on the subject of women priests, I just want to be clear that I am NOT against women performing the roles that have been traditionally ascribed to them-- chanting, reading, teaching, ordained deaconess, etc.  Those I am personally okay with, as they have been part of the tradition of the Church.  I am not, however, an advocate of women in the priesthood.  This, I think, is going too far.  We have to keep the gentle balance that Christ left for us, not blow it out of the water to accommodate our prides.

I think we are getting away from the basic point, though, with this.  Your point was that historical continuity does not equal theological continuity.  Your examples were homosexual unions, women priests, and rending unto Caesar (which, btw, I think is just messing with words, the basic point is still the same).

My point was that continuity of faith cannot exist WITHOUT historical continuity.  It's not physically possible.  "Continuity" is a word that relies on physical time, and in this case, physical people.  When that bond of time and people is broken (as it was in the Great Schism and thereafter), then the continuity has been broken. From that point you can try to make it up, or try to return to the original.  Either way, the continuity is lost.

To look at it from another angle:  We'll call this "vice versa."
Does historical continuity=continuity of faith?  You say no because you are looking in as an outsider whose beliefs are different but you believe are just as valid, so you see a continuity that, frankly (no offense), doesn't exist.  We say yes, they do equate, because we are looking from the inside out, seeing that a break in historical continuity has ALWAYS equaled a break in continuity of faith.  If there was no break in continuity of faith, the break in historical continuity would never have happened.  Historically, if the faith was the same, those now in schism would never have been rejected.  They broke faith, and as a result were rejected by the body of Christ and thus the historical bond was broken.  Here's the "vice versa..."  Is continuity of faith reliant upon historical continuity?  Yes.  Otherwise it cannot physically be "continuity."  But historical continuity is also reliant upon continuity of faith.  That just fried my noodle.  I need a nap now.  Smiley

Now... that was really long.  Sorry.  How many times did I say "continuity" in one post?  That must be a record. Smiley
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« Reply #165 on: December 16, 2009, 01:07:15 PM »

^ Continuously.  Actually, 19 times! Grin
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« Reply #166 on: December 16, 2009, 01:23:11 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh

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« Reply #167 on: December 16, 2009, 02:02:01 PM »

No historical continuity? Christians brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world, to places like Britain. In England, in the late middle ages, people became increasingly worried that, while many had remained faithful, some - even in the hierarchy of the Church - had not. They reformed themselves, attempting to keep and to strengthen the ancient and true faith, so that it should not be buried under what I am sure they could have called 'political correctness' - the Catholic Church's contemporary stance.
The key words here are "in the late middle ages."  You're talking about over a thousand years later! 

Sorry, when I said 'brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world to places like Britain', my implication was that this faith didn't disappear. I don't believe it did disappear. Obviously, many things happened before the late middle ages, but that's the next 'important point' in most accounts of the Anglican Church.

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You are also talking about post-schism.

No, Christianity came to Britain well before the schism.

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The hierarchy that they were so concerned about was that of the ROMAN CATHOLIC Church, not the Orthodox.  That's two strikes against continuity- both historical and that of faith and practice. 


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You may well be right, but unless you can demonstrate this is so without recourse to the teachings of the One True Church (since that truth, and the identity of that Church, are what we seek to establish), I can only hold this as your personal opinion.
I'm afraid the burden of proof is on you.  I can present plenty of scriptural evidence AGAINST homosexual unions, can you present any FOR them?

Could we deal with homosexual unions as a separate issue? As I said above, I'm using this as an example of how people disagree on where to innovate and where to retain the exact, literal teachings of Christ as they are set down in the Bible and the early Fathers. Teachings on issues like suicide (friend Heorhji's favourite example, I know), and like the example I gave ('return unto Cesar'). I'm not so concerned about arguing which interpretation is correct, but rather, about demonstrating that even the Orthodox Church does sometimes choose to innovate, and sometimes chooses not to.

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The argument that you present of "context" (though I would say of context mis-interpreted) is one that I hear often, but as far as I'm concerned, doesn't hold water.  If we summarily dismiss the teachings of Christ as outdated simply because the historical context was different from our modern context, then where do we end up?  Oh, that's right, we end up as Protestants, picking and choosing what to accept and what not to accept.   Wink

As I said before, the teachings of Christ ARE for ALL times and ALL places and ALL people.  We must conform ourselves to be as He as asked us and do as He has asked us.  We should NOT attempt to reform what He has taught in order to fit ourselves so that we may live more comfortably.  God gives us all struggles, homosexuality is just one of them, and we should give Him glory for ALL of them, that we may undertake the struggles as a martyrdom for Him!  I know, easy for me to say.  But while I acknowledge that the struggle of homosexuality is a serious, difficult one that at times I'm sure can be overwhelming, I also acknowledge that there are other struggles in life that are just as great, just as difficult for other people.

I don't disagree that we must conform to Christ, not the Church to us. But while we agree on this, you don't seem to want to admit that some teachings of the Orthodox Church are innovations on what we know of the earliest form of the faith in Christ's ministry and the Apostles' teachings.

[/quote]
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Christ came to a faithful who were few. It was important that they build families and churches. Now, however, there is surely no need for us to overpopulate the world. Surely this is crucial?
There are two problems here.
1. Are we overpopulating the world?  I don't think so, personally.  Every life is precious in God's eyes, none is a burden.  In addition, we should consider that in "western" countries like the US, Britain, etc. overpopulation is not an issue.  Not only is it not an issue, but we are seeing a DECLINE in population in predominantly Christian countries (which are the ones, btw, where homosexual unions are socially acceptable).  And we are seeing a RISE in population among predominantly Muslim countries.  At the rate we are going, if we DON'T start lifting up the family and populating at higher rates, countries like Canada and France will be Muslim in a few short years, with Britain and the US and others not far behind. 
[/quote]

What is your point? As far as I know, no Christian denomination believes that race or former religious affiliation has a bearing on one's capacity to convert, and since there are millions of Christians across the world and excellent opportunities to travel and communicate across the globe, I don't see the problem. We're not living in the first century AD, where it would have been impossible to travel and reach out to people further afield.

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2. You are reducing the purpose of marriage to simply procreation.  This is a very Roman Catholic view.  Marriage is not simply for the purpose of pro-creation.  All the way back to Genesis we see that there are other purposes for marriage (it is not good for man to be alone-- a help-mate).  And that's just Genesis.  I would go on throughout the rest of Scripture, but I think it would be tangential.  You get my point.  God had other reasons for marital union, yet He was STILL quite clear that it was ONLY for man and woman.

No, I don't think the purpose of marriage is simply procreation. But again, I think we're straying into discussing homosexuality per se, rather than as an example of how Church teaching may or may not retain the literal sense of the Bible.

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I don't quite understand. I know of no Roman society that ever considered sanctioning monogamous homosexual relationships in general. Homosexual affairs were tolerated and even celebrated, but as far as I know, the first duty of a man (or woman) of good standing was to produce children, something they could not do within a monogamous homosexual relationship.
"Homosexual affairs were tolerated and even celebrated."  Your words.  Considering that this was normal in Roman Society, it would not have been a huge leap if Christ had blessed a homosexual union.  Yet He did not. 

I am sure it would have been a huge leap. An affair is quite different from a monogamous union. Affairs might be tolerated, but a union between two men or two women, barring them from reproducing? I don't think so!

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When did I suggest we bow to political correctness? Please point me to the passage that made you think this?
The whole suggestion of accepting homosexual unions despite the clear and obvious admonitions against them in Scripture is political correctness, as is allowing women priests.

I don't want to start another tangent here, but on the subject of women priests, I just want to be clear that I am NOT against women performing the roles that have been traditionally ascribed to them-- chanting, reading, teaching, ordained deaconess, etc.  Those I am personally okay with, as they have been part of the tradition of the Church.  I am not, however, an advocate of women in the priesthood.  This, I think, is going too far.  We have to keep the gentle balance that Christ left for us, not blow it out of the water to accommodate our prides.

I think we are getting away from the basic point, though, with this.  Your point was that historical continuity does not equal theological continuity.  Your examples were homosexual unions, women priests, and rending unto Caesar (which, btw, I think is just messing with words, the basic point is still the same).

My point was that continuity of faith cannot exist WITHOUT historical continuity.  It's not physically possible.  "Continuity" is a word that relies on physical time, and in this case, physical people.  When that bond of time and people is broken (as it was in the Great Schism and thereafter), then the continuity has been broken. From that point you can try to make it up, or try to return to the original.  Either way, the continuity is lost.

As I hope I've explained better this time, above, I don't believe there is necessarily a break in continuity of faith amongst those outside the Orthodox Church. I am also uncertain about whether faith is solely a property of physical things - it's a strange concept to me.

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To look at it from another angle:  We'll call this "vice versa."
Does historical continuity=continuity of faith?  You say no because you are looking in as an outsider whose beliefs are different but you believe are just as valid, so you see a continuity that, frankly (no offense), doesn't exist.  We say yes, they do equate, because we are looking from the inside out, seeing that a break in historical continuity has ALWAYS equaled a break in continuity of faith.  If there was no break in continuity of faith, the break in historical continuity would never have happened.  Historically, if the faith was the same, those now in schism would never have been rejected.  They broke faith, and as a result were rejected by the body of Christ and thus the historical bond was broken.  Here's the "vice versa..."  Is continuity of faith reliant upon historical continuity?  Yes.  Otherwise it cannot physically be "continuity."  But historical continuity is also reliant upon continuity of faith.  That just fried my noodle.  I need a nap now.  Smiley

You are looking at this assuming that I basically want to prove that the Anglican Church has continuity, and therefore is somehow 'better' or 'more true' than the Orthodox Church. That's not my aim. My problem was with this tendency of some Orthodox posters to see the Orthodox Church's spiritual 'Truth' as a matter of 'fact', as if one could use accounts of the Church's continued historical presence as proof of the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit.

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Now... that was really long.  Sorry.  How many times did I say "continuity" in one post?  That must be a record. Smiley

Smiley No worries. It is a long topic, we have two millenia of history here!
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« Reply #168 on: December 16, 2009, 02:05:43 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh



No, I don't think that Jesus blessed homosexual couples but the Gospel writers didn't mention it. Smiley

If you don't mind, I won't get into the discussion of 'Is homosexual union ever right', because we've done it over. PM me if you like, of course. What I wanted to do with that example was to say, 'Yes, there are things where I believe the Orthodox Church, rather like the Pharisees, has follow the letter of the law and not the spirit'. I tried to choose things that were genuinely important topics, but to choose a more mundane example, I have often wondered why the Orthodox Church decided that unaccompanied voices were the best way to sing to God - there may be a passage defending this in the Bible, but it seems a strange impoverishment to me (despite the beautiful music I've heard from Orthodox choirs).
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« Reply #169 on: December 16, 2009, 02:18:46 PM »

This is good entertainment, who needs the movies!  Grin <sits back and munches popcorn>
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« Reply #170 on: December 16, 2009, 02:21:42 PM »

This is good entertainment, who needs the movies!  Grin <sits back and munches popcorn>

 Grin Now that made me laugh when I probably should be apologizing for filling the forum with such badly-structured argument! At least someone's amused ...
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« Reply #171 on: December 16, 2009, 02:31:32 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh


No, I don't think that Jesus blessed homosexual couples but the Gospel writers didn't mention it. Smiley

If you don't mind, I won't get into the discussion of 'Is homosexual union ever right', because we've done it over. PM me if you like, of course.

Alas, we're debating Evangelical mindsets and not homosexual unions.  If the Evangelical mindset believes that Jesus blessed homosexual unions and relations, outside of what is written in Scripture, and the Evangelical rejection of Holy Fathers and Holy Tradition, then what I quoted blends in well with this thread.   Smiley

What I wanted to do with that example was to say, 'Yes, there are things where I believe the Orthodox Church, rather like the Pharisees, has follow the letter of the law and not the spirit'. I tried to choose things that were genuinely important topics, but to choose a more mundane example,

Like eating pork?  Maybe Jesus ate pork as the late American comedian George Carlin famously stated, "Jesus, where's the pork chops?"

I have often wondered why the Orthodox Church decided that unaccompanied voices were the best way to sing to God - there may be a passage defending this in the Bible, but it seems a strange impoverishment to me (despite the beautiful music I've heard from Orthodox choirs).

King David, author of the Pslams, prefigured Christ.  The Psalms emulate the Cherubim's constant song before God.
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« Reply #172 on: December 16, 2009, 02:34:59 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh


No, I don't think that Jesus blessed homosexual couples but the Gospel writers didn't mention it. Smiley

If you don't mind, I won't get into the discussion of 'Is homosexual union ever right', because we've done it over. PM me if you like, of course.

Alas, we're debating Evangelical mindsets and not homosexual unions.

True ... once again, I digressed. I am bad like that. Mind you, I think we were discussing Orthodox understandings of Evangelical mindsets, and hierarchies of arrogance therein.

Quote
If the Evangelical mindset believes that Jesus blessed homosexual unions and relations, outside of what is written in Scripture, and the Evangelical rejection of Holy Fathers and Holy Tradition, then what I quoted blends in well with this thread.   Smiley

What I wanted to do with that example was to say, 'Yes, there are things where I believe the Orthodox Church, rather like the Pharisees, has follow the letter of the law and not the spirit'. I tried to choose things that were genuinely important topics, but to choose a more mundane example,

Like eating pork?  Maybe Jesus ate pork as the late American comedian George Carlin famously stated, "Jesus, where's the pork chops?"

I have often wondered why the Orthodox Church decided that unaccompanied voices were the best way to sing to God - there may be a passage defending this in the Bible, but it seems a strange impoverishment to me (despite the beautiful music I've heard from Orthodox choirs).

King David, author of the Pslams, prefigured Christ.  The Psalms emulate the Cherubim's constant song before God.

Sure, but no instruments? Shame. I tend to picture David with a harp and all. Smiley
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« Reply #173 on: December 16, 2009, 02:39:50 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh


No, I don't think that Jesus blessed homosexual couples but the Gospel writers didn't mention it. Smiley

If you don't mind, I won't get into the discussion of 'Is homosexual union ever right', because we've done it over. PM me if you like, of course.

Alas, we're debating Evangelical mindsets and not homosexual unions.

True ... once again, I digressed. I am bad like that. Mind you, I think we were discussing Orthodox understandings of Evangelical mindsets, and hierarchies of arrogance therein.

Amidst this discussion cropped up continuity, the Great Schism, et al.

Quote
If the Evangelical mindset believes that Jesus blessed homosexual unions and relations, outside of what is written in Scripture, and the Evangelical rejection of Holy Fathers and Holy Tradition, then what I quoted blends in well with this thread.   Smiley

What I wanted to do with that example was to say, 'Yes, there are things where I believe the Orthodox Church, rather like the Pharisees, has follow the letter of the law and not the spirit'. I tried to choose things that were genuinely important topics, but to choose a more mundane example,

Like eating pork?  Maybe Jesus ate pork as the late American comedian George Carlin famously stated, "Jesus, where's the pork chops?"

I have often wondered why the Orthodox Church decided that unaccompanied voices were the best way to sing to God - there may be a passage defending this in the Bible, but it seems a strange impoverishment to me (despite the beautiful music I've heard from Orthodox choirs).

King David, author of the Pslams, prefigured Christ.  The Psalms emulate the Cherubim's constant song before God.

Sure, but no instruments? Shame. I tend to picture David with a harp and all. Smiley

Not in Orthodox iconography.   Smiley
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« Reply #174 on: December 16, 2009, 02:42:59 PM »

Liz, do some of your views coincide with the last verses of the Gospel of John:

Quoting John 21:24-25 (NKJV)

Quote
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.

Perhaps you feel that among these "other things that Jesus did" include blessing of homosexual couples and relations, ordination of women as Priestesses and Apostles, et al.  just because they were never mentioned in Canonical Scripture?  Others can expound on the passage better than I can; however, I want to throw it out there as one possible reason the Anglican Church (and others) believe in what they believe?   Huh


No, I don't think that Jesus blessed homosexual couples but the Gospel writers didn't mention it. Smiley

If you don't mind, I won't get into the discussion of 'Is homosexual union ever right', because we've done it over. PM me if you like, of course.

Alas, we're debating Evangelical mindsets and not homosexual unions.

True ... once again, I digressed. I am bad like that. Mind you, I think we were discussing Orthodox understandings of Evangelical mindsets, and hierarchies of arrogance therein.

Amidst this discussion cropped up continuity, the Great Schism, et al.

*Hangs head*

What can I say? Have you heard an Anglican preacher lately? We get brought up to ramble - that's my excuse.  Wink

I did think the discussion between David and Katherine of Dixie was getting into interesting territory about authority, though.

Quote
Quote
If the Evangelical mindset believes that Jesus blessed homosexual unions and relations, outside of what is written in Scripture, and the Evangelical rejection of Holy Fathers and Holy Tradition, then what I quoted blends in well with this thread.   Smiley

What I wanted to do with that example was to say, 'Yes, there are things where I believe the Orthodox Church, rather like the Pharisees, has follow the letter of the law and not the spirit'. I tried to choose things that were genuinely important topics, but to choose a more mundane example,

Like eating pork?  Maybe Jesus ate pork as the late American comedian George Carlin famously stated, "Jesus, where's the pork chops?"

I have often wondered why the Orthodox Church decided that unaccompanied voices were the best way to sing to God - there may be a passage defending this in the Bible, but it seems a strange impoverishment to me (despite the beautiful music I've heard from Orthodox choirs).

King David, author of the Pslams, prefigured Christ.  The Psalms emulate the Cherubim's constant song before God.

Sure, but no instruments? Shame. I tend to picture David with a harp and all. Smiley

Not in Orthodox iconography.   Smiley

Aah, that's interesting! But does the iconography predate the interpretation, or does the interpretation govern the iconography?
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« Reply #175 on: December 16, 2009, 04:35:23 PM »

Quote
Aah, that's interesting! But does the iconography predate the interpretation, or does the interpretation govern the iconography?

The latter.
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« Reply #176 on: December 17, 2009, 12:02:25 AM »

I ought to correct myself in stating that King David can be depicted with a harp in Orthodox iconography.  Other icons depict King David with a scroll.   Embarrassed
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« Reply #177 on: December 17, 2009, 07:44:16 AM »

I ought to correct myself in stating that King David can be depicted with a harp in Orthodox iconography.  Other icons depict King David with a scroll.   Embarrassed

Ah well ... there must be some reason for that. But, though this is fascinating (I really mean that: I love iconography), I think we have definitely wandered off-topic!
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« Reply #178 on: December 17, 2009, 03:43:07 PM »

Sorry, when I said 'brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world to places like Britain', my implication was that this faith didn't disappear. I don't believe it did disappear. Obviously, many things happened before the late middle ages, but that's the next 'important point' in most accounts of the Anglican Church.
Gotcha.  I feel sure the faith didn't disappear altogether, otherwise there would have been no Christianity.  The question that remains is how different a faith it was/is.  Was the continuity broken?  We say yes.  Is it the same faith?  We say no.  Does it matter?  We say yes.  I guess that's what it boils down to.

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No, Christianity came to Britain well before the schism.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it didn't.  I was just saying that the time period you were talking about (late middle ages) is post schism.  Yes, it came before the schism, you are of course correct.  However, after the schism, it came to be governed predominantly by the Catholic Church, as that is the tradition that was already present.  Would you agree?

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Could we deal with homosexual unions as a separate issue?
Absolutely.  My apologies.  I was attempting to address your points without becoming too tangential.  But I think we definitely strayed into tangential anyway...

Quote
As I said above, I'm using this as an example of how people disagree on where to innovate and where to retain the exact, literal teachings of Christ as they are set down in the Bible and the early Fathers. Teachings on issues like suicide (friend Heorhji's favourite example, I know), and like the example I gave ('return unto Cesar'). I'm not so concerned about arguing which interpretation is correct, but rather, about demonstrating that even the Orthodox Church does sometimes choose to innovate, and sometimes chooses not to.
I think I've lost track a little bit of where this was going.  Forgive me.  Can you give me some examples of the Orthodox Church choosing to innovate?


Quote
I don't disagree that we must conform to Christ, not the Church to us. But while we agree on this, you don't seem to want to admit that some teachings of the Orthodox Church are innovations on what we know of the earliest form of the faith in Christ's ministry and the Apostles' teachings.
You are right, I won't admit that, because I'm not aware of any.  Again, feel free to give me some examples that we can discuss and I'm happy to entertain the possibility.

Quote
What is your point? As far as I know, no Christian denomination believes that race or former religious affiliation has a bearing on one's capacity to convert, and since there are millions of Christians across the world and excellent opportunities to travel and communicate across the globe, I don't see the problem. We're not living in the first century AD, where it would have been impossible to travel and reach out to people further afield.
Absolutely, we should be evangelizing and bringing Christ to everyone.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I was only addressing the idea of overpopulation because you brought it up.  You made it sound as though we, as Christians, are overpopulating the world by not allowing homosexual unions.  I was demonstrating that, in fact, the predominantly Christian countries that are "Westernized" that DO allow homosexual unions are UNDERpopulating.  That's all.

Quote
No, I don't think the purpose of marriage is simply procreation. But again, I think we're straying into discussing homosexuality per se, rather than as an example of how Church teaching may or may not retain the literal sense of the Bible.
I agree, we are straying.  However, I will say that such a liberal interpretation of Christian history and faith as you seem to be presenting (that of allowing homosexual unions) based on the idea that it is an innovation to NOT allow homosexual unions, or is somehow a misinterpretation of the Spirit of the law, is a dangerous one.  I would say that that type of interpretation and thought IS a barrier to Christian unity, which is what this thread was about to begin with.  *whew*  Smiley  There needs to be a "my brain is tired" emoticon.

Quote
I am sure it would have been a huge leap. An affair is quite different from a monogamous union. Affairs might be tolerated, but a union between two men or two women, barring them from reproducing? I don't think so!
Well, again, we're getting into tangents.  But your last words ("I don't think so") make it quite clear that this is your opinion.  The fact remains that Christ was not bound by social norms, laws, etc. and if He had wanted to bless a homosexual union, He was free to have done so.  He didn't.

I definitely want to get away from this tangent though.  Besides derailing the discussion, I hate discussing homosexuality because, while it is easy to spout theology on the subject (which I know I am guilty of), it is another thing entirely to try and live by that theology when one is in that position.  I don't want anyone to think I am casting aspersions or judging.  I certainly am not.  I am only discussing the theology. 

Quote
As I hope I've explained better this time, above, I don't believe there is necessarily a break in continuity of faith amongst those outside the Orthodox Church. I am also uncertain about whether faith is solely a property of physical things - it's a strange concept to me.
This was my point-- you don't THINK there was a break.  This is your opinion.  In our opinion, which we say is BOLSTERED (not reliant upon, but bolstered) by historical fact, we say that there WAS and IS a break-- a break which bars unity in the chalice.

I wouldn't say faith is solely a property of physical things, but the transmission of the faith has been reliant upon the people who hold that faith passing it down, so it does exist in time and space, not outside of it.  If we are talking about correctness of faith and the continuity of that faith, then we have to consider the historical aspect. 


Quote
You are looking at this assuming that I basically want to prove that the Anglican Church has continuity, and therefore is somehow 'better' or 'more true' than the Orthodox Church. That's not my aim. My problem was with this tendency of some Orthodox posters to see the Orthodox Church's spiritual 'Truth' as a matter of 'fact', as if one could use accounts of the Church's continued historical presence as proof of the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were trying to prove that.  I was trying to look at it from every angle.  I wouldn't say that the Church's continued historical presence is a proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit, otherwise we'd be Buddhist (since they are a far older faith than we).  It's not a matter of the Church's mere presence, it's a matter of what that presence has done, or provided, or what it has allowed us to do (however you want to put it).  Our continued presence is not just an existence, it is a preservation, a passing down, of what Christ gave us. 

Quote
Smiley No worries. It is a long topic, we have two millenia of history here!
No kidding!!!  Grin
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« Reply #179 on: December 17, 2009, 04:33:29 PM »

Sorry, when I said 'brought their faith from Jerusalem, across the world to places like Britain', my implication was that this faith didn't disappear. I don't believe it did disappear. Obviously, many things happened before the late middle ages, but that's the next 'important point' in most accounts of the Anglican Church.
Gotcha.  I feel sure the faith didn't disappear altogether, otherwise there would have been no Christianity.  The question that remains is how different a faith it was/is.  Was the continuity broken?  We say yes.  Is it the same faith?  We say no.  Does it matter?  We say yes.  I guess that's what it boils down to.

Sure, but this is the same kind of opinion/judgment call that we have to make about the Orthodox Church, too. Did the faith stay the same, or move away from the truth? More to the point, do the historical facts give us enough to be able to make this judgment? I would say they don't - not for you, not for us. We must just trust.

Quote
Quote
No, Christianity came to Britain well before the schism.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it didn't.  I was just saying that the time period you were talking about (late middle ages) is post schism.  Yes, it came before the schism, you are of course correct.  However, after the schism, it came to be governed predominantly by the Catholic Church, as that is the tradition that was already present.  Would you agree?

Oops, sorry ... I misread you there. Yes, I agree that the church was Catholic after the Schism. However, there are some very interesting things that make the faith as practiced (even by some priests and monastics) particularly 'English' and different from European Catholicism. One of my favourite examples is that, when the Catholic Carthusian monks were told by their General Chapter that they shouldn't be so closely involved with lay people, the English Carthusians instead made sure that they found a proper way for lay people to interact with their spiritual fathers in the monasteries. This was happening in the late middle ages, just before the Reformation - I feel it suggests how the character of faith remained somewhat different from Roman Catholicism, and - I would hope - very true to the origins of the Church.

Quote
Quote
Could we deal with homosexual unions as a separate issue?
Absolutely.  My apologies.  I was attempting to address your points without becoming too tangential.  But I think we definitely strayed into tangential anyway...

Quote
As I said above, I'm using this as an example of how people disagree on where to innovate and where to retain the exact, literal teachings of Christ as they are set down in the Bible and the early Fathers. Teachings on issues like suicide (friend Heorhji's favourite example, I know), and like the example I gave ('return unto Cesar'). I'm not so concerned about arguing which interpretation is correct, but rather, about demonstrating that even the Orthodox Church does sometimes choose to innovate, and sometimes chooses not to.
I think I've lost track a little bit of where this was going.  Forgive me.  Can you give me some examples of the Orthodox Church choosing to innovate?

I have not heard of any Orthodox petitions to return Imperial Roman coinage to Rome. And is Heorhji wrong about the suicide example? More importantly, though, there are surely far too many things that Orthodox Churches do now, which have no basis in the Church founded at Pentecost. Where did the Apostles decide that one or other calendar was important? When did they decide that priests should wear vestments of the particular type worn in Orthodox Churches? When and why did they decide that unaccompanied singing was best? That men should wear beards?

Who gets to decide which of these are 'trivial' (and therefore, it seems, allowed), and which are 'crucial' innovations?

Quote
I don't disagree that we must conform to Christ, not the Church to us. But while we agree on this, you don't seem to want to admit that some teachings of the Orthodox Church are innovations on what we know of the earliest form of the faith in Christ's ministry and the Apostles' teachings.

Quote
You are right, I won't admit that, because I'm not aware of any.  Again, feel free to give me some examples that we can discuss and I'm happy to entertain the possibility.
Quote
What is your point? As far as I know, no Christian denomination believes that race or former religious affiliation has a bearing on one's capacity to convert, and since there are millions of Christians across the world and excellent opportunities to travel and communicate across the globe, I don't see the problem. We're not living in the first century AD, where it would have been impossible to travel and reach out to people further afield.
Quote
Absolutely, we should be evangelizing and bringing Christ to everyone.  I wholeheartedly agree.  I was only addressing the idea of overpopulation because you brought it up.  You made it sound as though we, as Christians, are overpopulating the world by not allowing homosexual unions.  I was demonstrating that, in fact, the predominantly Christian countries that are "Westernized" that DO allow homosexual unions are UNDERpopulating.  That's all.

Ah, yes, I see. No, I didn't mean that. I always feel sad that homosexual couples are so often unable to have their own children - and I don't mean any political point about adopting, I just mean it's sad that some people don't end up in a situation where they can have their own babies with their partner. But, I don't think we need to populate as the early Christians did - they could only spread the word slowly, whereas we are fortunate in having many ways of communicating across huge distances.


Quote
No, I don't think the purpose of marriage is simply procreation. But again, I think we're straying into discussing homosexuality per se, rather than as an example of how Church teaching may or may not retain the literal sense of the Bible.

Quote
I agree, we are straying.  However, I will say that such a liberal interpretation of Christian history and faith as you seem to be presenting (that of allowing homosexual unions) based on the idea that it is an innovation to NOT allow homosexual unions, or is somehow a misinterpretation of the Spirit of the law, is a dangerous one.  I would say that that type of interpretation and thought IS a barrier to Christian unity, which is what this thread was about to begin with.  *whew*  Smiley  There needs to be a "my brain is tired" emoticon.

Quote
I am sure it would have been a huge leap. An affair is quite different from a monogamous union. Affairs might be tolerated, but a union between two men or two women, barring them from reproducing? I don't think so!

Quote
Well, again, we're getting into tangents.  But your last words ("I don't think so") make it quite clear that this is your opinion.  The fact remains that Christ was not bound by social norms, laws, etc. and if He had wanted to bless a homosexual union, He was free to have done so.  He didn't.

I agree that Christ could have done so had He chosen to do. I don't believe He did (see other posts on this thread). But it is (in my humble opinion, shared by a few professors of Classics) not correct to suggest that Christ would have been in accordance with social norms had he blessed homosexual unions.

Quote
I definitely want to get away from this tangent though.  Besides derailing the discussion, I hate discussing homosexuality because, while it is easy to spout theology on the subject (which I know I am guilty of), it is another thing entirely to try and live by that theology when one is in that position.  I don't want anyone to think I am casting aspersions or judging.  I certainly am not.  I am only discussing the theology. 

Quote
As I hope I've explained better this time, above, I don't believe there is necessarily a break in continuity of faith amongst those outside the Orthodox Church. I am also uncertain about whether faith is solely a property of physical things - it's a strange concept to me.
This was my point-- you don't THINK there was a break.  This is your opinion.  In our opinion, which we say is BOLSTERED (not reliant upon, but bolstered) by historical fact, we say that there WAS and IS a break-- a break which bars unity in the chalice.
[/quote]

That is fine - as long as we don't end up confusing 'bolstered' with 'proven', as I think is sometimes easy to do.

Quote
I wouldn't say faith is solely a property of physical things, but the transmission of the faith has been reliant upon the people who hold that faith passing it down, so it does exist in time and space, not outside of it.  If we are talking about correctness of faith and the continuity of that faith, then we have to consider the historical aspect. 


Quote
You are looking at this assuming that I basically want to prove that the Anglican Church has continuity, and therefore is somehow 'better' or 'more true' than the Orthodox Church. That's not my aim. My problem was with this tendency of some Orthodox posters to see the Orthodox Church's spiritual 'Truth' as a matter of 'fact', as if one could use accounts of the Church's continued historical presence as proof of the continuing presence of the Holy Spirit.
I'm sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were trying to prove that.  I was trying to look at it from every angle.  I wouldn't say that the Church's continued historical presence is a proof of the presence of the Holy Spirit, otherwise we'd be Buddhist (since they are a far older faith than we).  It's not a matter of the Church's mere presence, it's a matter of what that presence has done, or provided, or what it has allowed us to do (however you want to put it).  Our continued presence is not just an existence, it is a preservation, a passing down, of what Christ gave us. 

Quote
Smiley No worries. It is a long topic, we have two millenia of history here!
No kidding!!!  Grin

Can I say how much I have been enjoying this discussion? I hope that isn't rude, and maybe it is very tedious for you, but I have had to think and question and work things out all the way - it's a great Advent question and has me constantly thinking about the nature of faith. So, I do hope it's not too obvious for you - I owe you a great deal for your patient and perceptive comments, even if I may not always agree! Smiley
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