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Author Topic: Ecclessiological Ramblings  (Read 2140 times) Average Rating: 0
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Seraphim Reeves
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« on: December 15, 2003, 11:42:58 AM »

I've given the matter some thought, and feel that the subject of ecclessiology should be returned to on this forum, but perhaps with a different perspective.  Rather than indulging disputes about "who is" and "who is not" Orthodox (I mean this amongst those who claim to be Orthodox - not against those groups which most everyone here agrees are sepearted, unfortunately, from the Orthodox Church, such as the See of Rome, and it's followers, or the Non-Chalcedonians, Protestants, etc.)

Rather, without getting into that ugly topic (which seems to go nowhere), I'd simply like to speak about principles...principles which I hope, transcend that discussion (or at least it's particular players).

I propose the following as a starting point, but look forward to anyone else's contribution.

- What do we mean when we say "Orthodox Church"?  At the least, I think this refers to the communion of Churches which confess the same faith (Orthodoxy, then, as a quality of said Church), and it refers to the exoteric, canonical foundation, the "collection of local Churches" which together can be called "Orthodox Churches" (Orthodox Christianity then, as a visible establishment, in the world.)

- Essentially, at a basic level, what is this "Orthodox Church"?  I would answer, it is the Body of Christ - Christ being the "True Vine", the Church (which is composed of people) being His members.  He is diffused, by a certain grace, in those members, in some way (I put it this way, since there are ailing members, and healthy members, and even extremly "healthy" members, whose assimilation of Christ into their being is profound - these are the type of people who are recognized as "Saints").

- The Orthodox Church exists as a Sacrament, the chief Sacrament, to the world.  The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), as far as I can gather from what insight I've managed to acquire on this subject, are simply "particularizations" (is that even a word?) of this singular Mystery.  Christ, God-Incarnate, is the Saviour - yet we would all agree, He established His Church as an extension of Himself, and She mediates the grace of salvation with Him, for in truth She is inseperable from Him (by His own choice...this is simply God's economy, as He has decided to unfold it.)

With the above in mind (if there is something lacking in the above three points, I'd appreciate some correction/elaboration by others), we come to the issue which has been so contentious in this forum; the situation of those who are outside of the Church...in particular those outside of the Church who bear the name "Christian."

Using Serge's well known (at least on this forum) definition of "apostolic churches", what can rightly be said of them from an Orthodox p.o.v.?  I make the following observations about  them...

- It is obvious, at least on an exterior level, that they possess the "apostolic succession" in terms of the laying on of hands.

- It is also quite apparent (though in the case of the Roman Catholics, I know many Orthodox have reservations on this, particularly in regard to their eucharistic rite, which has long lacked a proper "epiklesis", which we know the Roman Liturgy once had, like that used by the Orthodox Church) that on the same "exterior" level, that these "apostolic churches" also make use of the same basic "sacramental rites" - they baptize with a threefold immersion/pouring (the latter, from an Orthodox p.o.v. though, should only be used when circumstances make it necessary...but that's another topic: I will simply say that I'm not going to argue it is, of itself, an "invalid" manner of baptism), they chrismate/confirm their adherants, they have various eucharistic liturgies, etc. etc. ... and with some notable variances (particularly with the Roman Catholics), they more or less attach the same meaning to all of these practices.

- in these "apostolic churches", their clergy can at least functionally be regarded as being what their titles denote (an observation I've made in a conversation I'm having on another forum with Anastasios).  For example, Roman Catholic episkopoi/bishops (lit. "over seers") do in fact "oversee" their respective territories and the flocks committed to them; their priests/presbyters (lit. "elders") do act as extensions of this episcopal ministry in their respective "parts" of their bishop's territory...etc., etc.

With all of this said, I have to ask the following...

- Acknowledging everything I've just mentioned (both about the Orthodox Church, and about non-Orthodox "apostolic churches"), what is the significance of their use of basically Orthodox rites, and ecclessiastical structures?  What can be their significance, when they are obviously not being ministered within the bosom of the Orthodox Church, which I doubt no one here would deny (at least not the Orthodox), is the Church which Christ Himself established?

There is lots of talk about these "apostolic churches" being able to validly baptize.  How is this meant?  Does this simply refer to their use of a "valid rite"?  Or does this mean something unseen occurs in such baptisms, such as the imposition of a character/seal upon the soul (whatever it is that fundamentally differentiates someone who has been truly baptized, even if they subsequently fall from grace and live like an infidel, from someone who has in no way whatsoever been baptized)?  Or further, does this mean that not only this occurs, but also the remission of sins, and true integration as members of Christ?

I think it's fair to say that at least in the case of the Roman Catholics (I'm not saying this doesn't apply to other groups, imho...I simply do not want to get into the non-Chalcedonian controversy at this point), it is fairly obvious they are not Orthodox in their confession - there are a whole host of ways in which they, both subtly and obviously, depart from the true confession of the Church ("Orthodoxy", as in "right belief").  I think it is also fair, and non-controversial, to say that canonically/institutionally, these "apostolic churches" (both Roman Catholic, and other, like the Non-Chalcedonians) cannot truly be regarded as parts of the Orthodox Church (going back to the view of the Orthodox Church as an ediface in the world; a recognized, visible group of Churches with canonical foundation for their existance.)

In short, these groups ("apostolic churches") are heretical schisms ("heresy" simply meaning to have a "different opinion", in this case, on the dogmas of the Church, which is no small matter), or at the very least, schisms.

Given all of this, can it truly be said that heresies and schisms have a participation in the Orthodox Church, the Body of Christ?  For this is what would be necessary for their use of the sacraments to have any efficacy beyond simply existing as exterior, visible phenomena.  The Sacraments are acts of the Church, so to have any sort of spiritual content, the schisms/heresies utilizing them would have to be participants in Christ.  This, as far as I can make sense of it, would be the unavoidable conclusion of saying "Roman Catholic baptisms grant the remission of sins" (or replace "Roman Catholic" with "Non-Chalcedonian" or "Old Catholic", etc., etc.)  This opens up something which I find hard to wrap my mind around - the existance of real un-Orthodox Churches.

If this is the case (such really does exist, for the sake of argument), what then is the point of encouraging people from these groups to become Orthodox?  Why disrupt their lives so terribly, cause problems between them and their families and friends, if it is possible to be saved without confessing the truth (or only part of the truth, mixed with some serious errors)?  Or in the case of simple schisms (without the question of heretical beliefs), why the dire need for their return to the unity of the Church?  Is it simply an issue of charity, or is there anything else they're losing by their alienation?

There is more that I could say, but I throw this out as a starting point.  Your thoughts, corrections, contributions, etc. will not only be appreciated, by I'm whole heartedly encouraging them.

Seraphim
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« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2003, 11:56:41 AM »

Hi Seraphim

Would you consider ROCOR, ROAC and the Old Calendarist Traditionalist True Church type Churches to be in schism or not?

From my pov the Oriental Orthodox have merely applied the canonical remedy allowed for dealing with relationships with those who are feared to have fallen into error, which is a walling off from such folk until their Orthodoxy or otherwise is made manifest.

Since we are now discovering that many of the Eastern Orthodox churches are not or are no longer in danger of heresy we are able to begin to renew our relationship and communion with them.

Again, would you consider ROCOR, ROAC and the Old Calendarist Traditionalist True Church type Churches to be in schism or not?

And you cannot say on the one hand that the Oriental Orthodox are non-Orthodox and them say that you don't want to discuss the matter. If you don't want to discuss it then don't raise it.

You still haven't really dealt with the confession of faith I proposed and which I have been taught in my own Churches. If that is not heretical then in what sense am I a heretic.

PT
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« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2003, 12:13:45 PM »

Peter,

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Would you consider ROCOR, ROAC and the Old Calendarist Traditionalist True Church type Churches to be in schism or not?

I would prefer to avoid that discussion, in this thread.  It's not essential to what I'm trying to discuss.  You can keep bringing it up, but do not expect me to engage it.

Quote
And you cannot say on the one hand that the Oriental Orthodox are non-Orthodox and them say that you don't want to discuss the matter. If you don't want to discuss it then don't raise it.

If you read what I wrote carefully, I said quite clearly that for the purposes of discussion, I wasn't going to say one way or another whether the Non-Chalcedonians are "heretics" (as I said clearly applied to Roman Catholicism).  However, I think it is very clear that they are not recognized as being "canonical" as far as the Orthodox (whether we mean those in communion with the EP, or zealots who are not...for the purposes of discussion, I am not going to dwell on that distinction, but will simply call them all "Orthodox" for now, or "Eastern Orthodox" as you'd call them) are concerned; hence, I said at the least, they are in schism from the Orthodox Church.  That is an obvious fact - perhaps you believe the blame for this should be on the conscience of the "Eastern Orthodox"; but this does not change the fact, that as things now stand (and as they've been for well over a millenia), the non-Chalcedonians do not have a canonical standing with the Orthodox Church.

Quote
You still haven't really dealt with the confession of faith I proposed and which I have been taught in my own Churches. If that is not heretical then in what sense am I a heretic.

I've addressed this, actually.  However, it's obvious that for now, we're at an impass, and simply disagree.  While I suspect that materially you believe correctly, your confession (particularly it's obstinant refusal to subscribe to the definition of an Ecumenical Council) is formally heretical, in so far as it sets itself at odds with the voice of the Church.  In which case, at the very least, there is a real matter of schism (even if not, or at least no longer, material heresy.)  This is all I am going to say on this topic, in this thread.  You are obviously free to keep going on about it, but you will get no further response from me on this topic.

Seraphim
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« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2003, 12:52:57 PM »

If you read what I wrote carefully, I said quite clearly that for the purposes of discussion, I wasn't going to say one way or another whether the Non-Chalcedonians are "heretics" (as I said clearly applied to Roman Catholicism).  However, I think it is very clear that they are not recognized as being "canonical" as far as the Orthodox (whether we mean those in communion with the EP, or zealots who are not...for the purposes of discussion, I am not going to dwell on that distinction, but will simply call them all "Orthodox" for now, or "Eastern Orthodox" as you'd call them) are concerned; hence, I said at the least, they are in schism from the Orthodox Church.  That is an obvious fact - perhaps you believe the blame for this should be on the conscience of the "Eastern Orthodox"; but this does not change the fact, that as things now stand (and as they've been for well over a millenia), the non-Chalcedonians do not have a canonical standing with the Orthodox Church.


So what does canonical mean? Does it mean in communion with the EP? In which case none of those churches are canonical either.

This is completely pertinent to the question you have raised. If ROCOR and ROAC and the OC type Churches are not canonical then what does it matter if you then say that the OO are not canonical. When was ROAC last listed as a canonical Orthodox Church.

What matters is the substance of ecclesial doctrine and praxis. In the end, and this is the justification for the existence of ROCOR, ROAC et al, what matters is that each bishop and his flock be faithful. If communion with the EP was necessary for canonicity then none of these churches, including the one you are planning to join is canonical.

In fact the OO have much better relations with the EP than ROAC do. The EP was seated on his throne in the Armenian cathedral when Patriarch Mesrob II was enthroned, I wonder if he has been seated in such a manner at the consecration of any ROAC bishop?

It seems to me that ROCOR. ROAC etc are in exactly the same situation as the OO with respect to the mainline EO. You cannot pass over the matter since you raised it. And you still count me a heretic for believing in Christ inan entirely Orthodox manner. Well things have changed in Orthodoxy since Apostolic times then.  Sad I take it there will be no 'Let the heavens rejoice' coming from ROAC now that you have discovered I have an Orthodox confession in Christ. That's a shame. St Cyril was big enough to welcome back John of Antioch. I guess we have smaller men nowadays.

PT
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« Reply #4 on: December 15, 2003, 06:20:30 PM »

- What do we mean when we say "Orthodox Church"?  At the least, I think this refers to the communion of Churches which confess the same faith (Orthodoxy, then, as a quality of said Church), and it refers to the exoteric, canonical foundation, the "collection of local Churches" which together can be called "Orthodox Churches" (Orthodox Christianity then, as a visible establishment, in the world.)

Yes, I agree with this conclusion.  Then the question goes to what is the quality of Orthodoxy and what defines it.


- Essentially, at a basic level, what is this "Orthodox Church"?  I would answer, it is the Body of Christ - Christ being the "True Vine", the Church (which is composed of people) being His members.  He is diffused, by a certain grace, in those members, in some way (I put it this way, since there are ailing members, and healthy members, and even extremly "healthy" members, whose assimilation of Christ into their being is profound - these are the type of people who are recognized as "Saints").

Yes, the Orthodox Church is the Body of Christ and the "True Vine"

-
The Orthodox Church exists as a Sacrament, the chief Sacrament, to the world.  The Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), as far as I can gather from what insight I've managed to acquire on this subject, are simply "particularizations" (is that even a word?) of this singular Mystery.  Christ, God-Incarnate, is the Saviour - yet we would all agree, He established His Church as an extension of Himself, and She mediates the grace of salvation with Him, for in truth She is inseperable from Him (by His own choice...this is simply God's economy, as He has decided to unfold it.)

Interesting points made here.  I need to give it some further concentration.  When recalling the Gospels and the words of the Christ it is easy to think of the Church as an extension of Himself, or rather, the bride to the bridegroom, who is Jesus Christ.  I may not say that She (the Church) mediates with Him, but rather it is His command.  The Savior does not need the Church in order to exist as the pagan gods do, but the Church needs its Savior. It is a gift, a creation, a mechanism through which the Savior works.  The Church needs the Savior, it is defined by Him, it is commanded by Him.  The Church is nothing without the guidance of the Savior.  


Below are some of the questions going through my mind at this point.  Not direct at Seraphim, just thinking "out loud" so to speak.


The question now goes to what is the quality of Orthodoxy, what is the definition based upon the Gospels, the New Testament writings, the canons, Ecumenical Councils, and the words of the Church fathers.    If a church has some of the elements, and not others, is it Orthodox?  Must all be present to be Orthodox?  Are some elements more important than others?  

Orthodox Christians, of course will say that the Orthodox Churches have all the elements to the fullest degree to meet the definition.

Does the Roman Catholic Church still have enough of the necessary elements since the Great Schism to be considered Orthodox?  Is there enough in order for us to consider their baptisms valid?  Confirmations?  Marriages, Holy Orders?  Or can only some be considered acceptable.  Upon my conversion to Orthodoxy by means of the OCA, I was accepted by means of Chrismation.  My baptism was accepted.  Since I also a Confirmed Roman Catholic, my Confirmation was not.  


Did the Roman Church develope such doctrine since the Great Schism to be considered heretical?  or just schismatic?  I think this needs to be answered by the Gospels, New Testament, Church Fathers, canons, and Ecumenical Councils.  Most certainly, if any church is in conflict with the New Testament, it would be heretical. Any church denying the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ would be a heresy as defined by the Ecumenical Councils.

Is any one of the doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, papal infallability, the immaculate conception, or current liturgal practices on the order of heresy as defined by the New Testament, Ecumenical Councils, Church Fathers, or canons?  

Answering these questions can help us to understand Orthodoxy.  
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« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2003, 11:25:00 AM »

Justinianius,

Quote
Did the Roman Church develope such doctrine since the Great Schism to be considered heretical?  or just schismatic?  I think this needs to be answered by the Gospels, New Testament, Church Fathers, canons, and Ecumenical Councils.  Most certainly, if any church is in conflict with the New Testament, it would be heretical. Any church denying the Trinity and the Divinity of Christ would be a heresy as defined by the Ecumenical Councils.

Is any one of the doctrines of purgatory, indulgences, papal infallability, the immaculate conception, or current liturgal practices on the order of heresy as defined by the New Testament, Ecumenical Councils, Church Fathers, or canons?  

Answering these questions can help us to understand Orthodoxy.

The things you mention sound more along the lines of "additions" than "subtractions."  However, I think it can be fairly said that they all have a consequence upon what one understands the economy of salvation to be about.

Purgatory - at worst, this feeds a "judicial" understanding of salvation, in which man is a debtor towards an offended God.  At the heart of what I get from the Scriptures and the Fathers, however, I do not think such an understanding is correct.  It appears to be too much of an elaboration on God's motives, based on our understanding of human motives for punishing.  At best (and this seems to be how the RCC talks about Purgatory now), Purgatory can simply be viewed as an attempt to get overly specific about what exactly happens to souls when they depart this world, if their love is not yet sufficient to embrace God the Love of God, yet not so cold as to be cast into the endless night.  To me, this latter view, while less troubling, is still far too specific, and takes as a matter of fact that which is really speculation.  This is besides the fact that at least one Orthodox Father I am aware of (St.Mark of Ephesus) says quite clearly that the RC teaching of purgatory is at odds with the traditional Orthodox understanding of the soul after death.

Immaculate Conception - the Eastern Patriarchs, upon hearing about this new dogma of the RCC, objected on two grounds, primarily... i) the pretense of Pius IX, that he could unilaterally impose dogmatic definitions as an Ecumenical Council would, and ii) the teaching itself is a theological speculation at best, and doesn't have the sufficient qualifications (or centrality to the Christian Revelation) to be "dogmatized" about.  I think that should be fairly clear, given that it is scarcely heard of in the west until rather late in the game, and certainly is not a teaching of the Eastern Fathers - that even Roman Catholic savants like Thomas Aquinas did not find this teaching to be an obvious "Christian truth" should be sufficient to put it's authenticity as an "apostolic teaching" into doubt (and if not at least materially an apostolic teaching, why dogmatize about it?)

Indulgences - Same problem as the purgatory issue, but without the possible upside, since the notion of indulgences rests on a purely judicial, adversarial (man vs. God) understanding of salvation and the remission of sins.  The whole teaching behind this doctrine is also very strained - "extra merits of Christ and the Saints" which the Pope somehow has access to, and can then turn around and apply to living people, or those in purgatory?  This is religion via the syllogism, whose premises are taken from other syllogistic reasonings, upon yet others...this is deeply at odds with what the Orthodox believe the nature of the Christian revelation to be.

Papal Infallibility - I cannot see how this is not a heresy ("different opinion", on doctrine, than that held by the mind of the Church... in this case, on ecclessiology.)  For this teaching to be true, you'd have to subscribe to several other doctrines (errors) first - namely that the Pope is Divinely constituted as the visible head of the Catholic Church, and that this ministry is essential to the basic, divine constitution of the Church (I would think the existance of the Orthodox Church without the Pope for the last 1000 years would be an adequate argument against this, at least for the Orthodox.)

All of the particular doctrines you mentioned, are imho, manifestations of a deeper problem with western Christendom, particularly Roman Catholicism - the idea that the Christian revelation is not simply something to be explained so as to avoid falsehoods in understanding (and thus put up road blocks in the path of salvation), but something to be expanded upon and treated like other forms of human knowledge/science.

By the strictest definition these, along with the serious issue of the filioque teaching (which I think definatly qualifies not only as an addition, but a meddling with the pan-Christian Symbol of Faith), all have to be heresies if we go by the meaning of that term.

And if heresies, what then is the consequence?  I have some thoughts on this, but I'm looking for the opinions of others.

Seraphim
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« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2003, 12:02:40 PM »

At best (and this seems to be how the RCC talks about Purgatory now), Purgatory can simply be viewed as an attempt to get overly specific about what exactly happens to souls when they depart this world, if their love is not yet sufficient to embrace God the Love of God, yet not so cold as to be cast into the endless night.  To me, this latter view, while less troubling, is still far too specific, and takes as a matter of fact that which is really speculation.  This is besides the fact that at least one Orthodox Father I am aware of (St.Mark of Ephesus) says quite clearly that the RC teaching of purgatory is at odds with the traditional Orthodox understanding of the soul after death.

Dear Seraphim,

I don't mean to go off on a tangent from the main topic, but reading this leads me to ask how one can reconcile this idea that purgatory is "overly specific" about what goes on after death with the "toll houses" that, depending on whom you ask, are the official teaching of the Church.
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« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2003, 12:36:42 PM »



Justinianius,

The things you mention sound more along the lines of "additions" than "subtractions."  However, I think it can be fairly said that they all have a consequence upon what one understands the economy of salvation to be about..

Yes, I agree.



All of the particular doctrines you mentioned, are imho, manifestations of a deeper problem with western Christendom, particularly Roman Catholicism - the idea that the Christian revelation is not simply something to be explained so as to avoid falsehoods in understanding (and thus put up road blocks in the path of salvation), but something to be expanded upon and treated like other forms of human knowledge/science.


I agree with you.  I have often thought of these doctrines in the same way.
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« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2003, 04:37:02 PM »

Mor,

Quote
I don't mean to go off on a tangent from the main topic, but reading this leads me to ask how one can reconcile this idea that purgatory is "overly specific" about what goes on after death with the "toll houses" that, depending on whom you ask, are the official teaching of the Church.

I agree with your assessment - treatment of the "toll houses" as a "dogma" is troubling.  At best, I believe it to be an analogy (which is how I believe the sources typically drawn in support of this idea in fact speak).  The treatment of it as a dogma, otoh, is rash.

Seraphim
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« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2003, 04:53:07 PM »

Though the Church is One, because it is the One Bride of Christ and finds a mystical unity in Christ its Head.

And though we may reject any variant of the Branch Theory, that the Church is quantitatively composed of disparate and separated communions which need to be joined together to qualitatively make up the One Church.

Nevertheless do we believe that the qualitative nature of the Church, the ontological reality, can survive the economic separation of particular and local communities for a variety of reasons?

I do not wish at all to discuss particular examples, so let us merely suggest that a group of Orthodox Christians under a number of bishops come to believe that some other bishops have made controversial statements and believe that they need to separate themselves for the safety of their own flocks.

Would either the major community A or the minor community B cease to be the ontological Orthodox Church simply because at a human level there was a breach in the experience of unity? I am not extending this to any group. It is hypothesis.

If the separation lasted 2 generations such that none of the members of A or B had experience of living communion would either have ceased to be the Orthodox Church - the same reality - broken only in human terms and by the eye of sight.

This is not meant as a trick question. But I am thinking historically of the many times when churches separated themselves from others. If both genuinely preserved and intended to preserve the Orthodox Faith but broke communion - even through misunderstanding - did either cease to be Orthodox?

I am even thinking of the schism of the Western bishops who rejected the rejection of the Three Chapters. This schism lasted up to 150 years. Did those bishops cease to be qualitatively Orthodox because they had separated themselves from what they considered were the errors of Rome and the East? or does their Orthodoxy depend on the positive substance of their faith despite broken relationships?

PT
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« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2003, 07:59:08 PM »

Justinianus

[Answering these questions can help us to understand Orthodoxy]

Can you explain this a little further?  How does examining the RCC help to understand Orthodoxy better?

[Does the Roman Catholic Church still have enough of the necessary elements since the Great Schism to be considered Orthodox?  Is there enough in order for us to consider their baptisms valid?  Confirmations?  Marriages, Holy Orders?  Or can only some be considered acceptable.  Upon my conversion to Orthodoxy by means of the OCA, I was accepted by means of Chrismation.  My baptism was accepted.  Since I also a Confirmed Roman Catholic, my Confirmation was not.]

So the OCA accepted your baptism which seems to indicate that RC baptisms are valid? Right?  As far as Holy Orders I'm told that Fr Lev Gillet was recieved into Orthodoxy by simply being given a stole by an Orthodox bishop then concelebrating liturgy.  Yet other RC priests have had to be reordained.  This seems a mixed message re RC orders.

In the RCC there is a concept known as "ecclesia supplet" that is that the Church supplies what is lacking in the intention of the celebrant.  In the rather infamous and probably apocryphal case of the Renaissance priest who pronounced the words of consecration yet afterwards said "bread thou art and bread thou remains" the bread and wine were confected into Christ's body and blood because the Church supplied what was lacking in the celebrant.  Does such a concept exist in Orthodoxy?  Is it possible that if so it functions as a sort of safety net.  In other words an RC priest is a heretic (at least in some EO eyes  Roll Eyes) but he baptizes Justinianus as an RC and now  the OCA accepts this as a valid baptism incorporating him into the Body of Christ.  Is this a case of ecclesia supplet?
Just a question.  I'm not asking anyone to buy into RC theology.  God forbid!

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« Reply #11 on: December 17, 2003, 09:26:39 AM »

Justinianus

[Answering these questions can help us to understand Orthodoxy]

Can you explain this a little further?  How does examining the RCC help to understand Orthodoxy better?

In understanding a paticular subject, in this case a definition of orthodoxy, two approaches can be taken to understand it.  One is to discuss what is considered to be orthodox and another is to discuss what is not.  If the RCC is not orthodox, why not?  If the RCC is orthodox, why?  By answering either one of these questions it is possible to come to a better understanding of the definition of orthodoxy.  

There seem to be varying opinions on this subject and there is always a focus on the differences.  Do the differences exclude the RCC from being orthodox, or are the simularities between the RCC and EO significant enough that the RCC can be considered orthodox.

As a layman, I do not feel qualified to pass judgement of RCC as to whether or not it is orthodox.  It at least appears that there is dogma within the RCC that is not orthodox. I will also refrain from declaring it a heresy.  I leave such matters to my bishop.  

So the OCA accepted your baptism which seems to indicate that RC baptisms are valid? Right?  As far as Holy Orders I'm told that Fr Lev Gillet was recieved into Orthodoxy by simply being given a stole by an Orthodox bishop then concelebrating liturgy.  Yet other RC priests have had to be reordained.  This seems a mixed message re RC orders.

Yes, there is an inconsistency in the Orthodox Church in these matters.  The OCA accepted my baptism and Chrismated me.  More conservative groups would have baptised me.  Other RCC converts told me in the past, they were accepted via Confession.

Again, in this matter, I submit myself to the authority of my bishop.  When it was decided that I was ready to convert to Orthodoxy and was prepared as a cathecumen, my priest contacted Bishop Kyrill and asked as to what would be the accepted way to receive me into the Orthodox Church.  The way was by means of Chrismation.  Since I accepted the OCA and the OCA accepted me,  as my Orthodox jurisdiction, I place such matters in the hands of its bishop for my diocese and honor his decision.  
« Last Edit: December 17, 2003, 09:29:24 AM by Justinianus » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2003, 11:29:47 AM »

There seem to be varying opinions on this subject and there is always a focus on the differences.  Do the differences exclude the RCC from being orthodox, or are the simularities between the RCC and EO significant enough that the RCC can be considered orthodox.

I think this is a very important point and worthy of consideration. Does Orthodoxy mean that some Christian community must positively be as much like us (whichever us we are) as possible? or does it mean negatively that they must exclude those things which are not us?

Are we able to start by saying, here is where you are, this is where we are in dispute, deal with these issues and whatever other differences we have are part of the allowable variety in the Church. Or must was say you must become like a Russian or a Greek or a Coptic or an Armenian before you can be considered Orthodox?

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« Reply #13 on: December 17, 2003, 06:56:17 PM »

Justinianus

Very good response it's clearer now.

Thanks

CR
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« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2003, 11:21:38 AM »

Carpo,

Quote
So the OCA accepted your baptism which seems to indicate that RC baptisms are valid? Right?  As far as Holy Orders I'm told that Fr Lev Gillet was recieved into Orthodoxy by simply being given a stole by an Orthodox bishop then concelebrating liturgy.  Yet other RC priests have had to be reordained.  This seems a mixed message re RC orders.

I didn't know who Fr.Lev was, but read a bit about him.  I'm getting the impression he was ordained by the RCC prior to the reform of the Latin rite for ordination which occured after Vatican II.  Could this have anything to do with it?  (I admit, I'm just guessing)

The inconsistancy, I think, could be boiled down to this - disagreement betwen local Orthodox Churches over whether or not the Roman rite (whether old or new) for ordaining priests is itself a sufficient form (from an Orthodox view) for actually creating a new priest...and as such, this would effect whether or not it could be viewed as an adequate "foundation" for the Church to receive and "supply whatever is lacking".

This wouldn't be the only case of such a thing happening, in relation to converts from the RCC - as far as I know, the Monks on Athos still do not consider conversions from the RCC via Chrismation or a simple profession of faith and Communion as being "valid" either.

The problem is that, unlike the cases of older schisms and heresies, I don't think there are any ecumenical canons dictating just how Roman Catholics should be received into the Church.  There are obviously rules dictating this, but they are local in nature (and seem to be contradictory - such as the one time universal Greek practice of strictness in this matter, and otoh, the long standing Russian/Slavic practice of simply receiving them by confession and communion.).  I think some would also argue, even if there were "universal" rules on this subject, say, circa the 1200's, let's say, they could be argued to be out of date (since much has changed in the RCC since that time, including it's normative method of baptizing.)

Should it turn out (as I have little doubt would be shown to be the case if a Council ever addressed this issue) that the more "lenient" practice of the Slavs (and that now used by most Greeks) is sufficient/correct, I don't think the strict Greek practice should be judged too harshly.  I forget the Canon (my apologies - perhaps someone else here is familiar with it), but I do remember reading one which dealt with the case of infants and others who are thought to be baptized, but it's not certain IF this is the case, or by WHO exactly...according to this canon, they should be baptized, without any scruples on the part of the Priest.  Why?  Because if it turns out they were really baptized already, then no one will be culpable of any sin, since this would be a knowledge beyond what men can know...and obviously, if it turns out this person was never actually baptized, then a great service has been rendered to them.  Keep in mind, as far as I've evern been told, the Orthodox Church doesn't have anything along the lines of "conditional baptism" - this would seem to be the closest I've seen to this in Orthodoxy.

So, if the Greeks honestly did not think that schismatic Latin baptisms were "valid" in the strictest sense, then they cannot be accused of acting rashly or in bad conscience by proceeding to baptize them.

Seraphim
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« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2003, 12:12:19 PM »

The Chrismation received by Catholics on entering the Orthodox Church is not, at least according to the canons and liturgical prescriptions of the Russian Church, the same Chrismation given along with baptism.  It is a reconciliatory Chrismation, proved by the fact that the prayers are different and this is the same thing done to one previously Chrismated Orthodox who leave the Church and return.  The practice of receiving a convert by this type of Chrismation cannot be seen as a rejection of grace in the Catholic chrismation/confirmation or as an exercise of economy.  

After the Unias began, the Greeks took a hardline approach and at various times required repitition of all Catholic sacraments including baptism, only to rescend then reinstate and again rescend the practice.

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« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2003, 12:27:16 PM »

We spend like 3 weeks on this in canon law class.  Basically we need to distinguish between Greek practice, Russian practice, and American practice*s*.

Greek (St Nikodemus the Hagiorite, et al, in 18th century formula): Trullo canon 95 allows different modes of reception based on ekonomia.  This practically means that all non-Orthodox should be baptised, although Catholics and Protestants can be received by chrismation under ekonomia.

Russian (Peter Moghila, 17th century formula): Trullo 95 and other canons are based on the idea that the farther you are from the Orthodox Church doctrinally, the more you need to be fixed.  So a RC is received by confession since he "has" chrismation, a Protestant is chrismated because he "has" baptism, and a Muslim is baptised.

American practices:

1) OCA: up until 1989, followed standard Russian practice.  Wanted to introduce an anointing with chrism for Roman Catholics so this was done but chrismation only occurrs on forehead.
     Problem with this approach: uses the postbaptismal chrismation prayers and does not distinguish between Protestants and Catholics in this regard (although manner of chrismating distinguishes).

2) GOA: uses the *reconciliation* chrismation on everyone, Protestants or Catholics.
     Problem: are Protestants "getting" chrismated then? Strictly speaking, yes, since the prayers of chrismation developed after its universal use as both reconciliation or post-baptismal, but the theological application of such a prayer out of context is questionable.

3) Antiochians: post baptismal chrismation to both Protestants and Catholics.

4) Others: some baptise everyone, some chrismate.

Outsiders may ask, "why is this???" and the answer is, well it wasn't so confusing when Russia did its thing and Greece did its, considering there were much different historical reasons (large number of Catholics in Russia for instance).  But now in the USA these two views merged, creating all this mess.  It needs to be settled.  I would argue PERSONALLY for either:

1) accepting the Russian practice again with its threefold division
or
2) baptising everyone who converts

so at least it is CONSISTENT.  Chrismation on everyone willy-nilly does not distinguish Catholicism from Protestantism well enough.  Baptism for everyone does not either but it is in the context of Greek thinking which at least is very consistent.

anastasios
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