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« on: January 17, 2010, 07:23:20 PM »

Several weeks ago I sent an email to my pastor about my investigation into Orthodoxy. Today he has arranged for a meeting this week to talk about things.

I should first of all make it clear that my church has not wronged me in any way, nor do I dislike anyone there. In fact, I continued my "catechism" there even after visiting the EO parishes in San Diego. At the same time, having visited Orthodoxy, the church life at my church felt strangely... deficient.

I've been careful not to be too hasty about making any changes, but at the same time, I feel like becoming a member of my current church would be like committing the sunk cost fallacy. I've made friends and I've attended classes and I've appreciated the emphasis on teaching and doctrine--but I get a feeling in the back of my mind that this is not a real church.



Pray that God grant me the right words to say when the time comes. It should also be noted that they are heavy into Reform theology, so I expect a lot of argumentation. Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2010, 07:30:19 PM »

Forgive me for jumping in like this, but I don't understand why you should talk/argue with the pastor of a church you don't intend attending anymore?
Can't you just stop going without any further discussion/argument?
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2010, 07:30:56 PM »

Lord have mercy!

The problem with Reform theology, is that it only goes back to the Reformation.  How is it that reform theology, 500 years old now, can claim to be true when the theology of Christ and His Apostles (following the reform judgement on the Orthodox Church) didn't last 300 years (if the Church at Nicea wasn't right)?  That would mean that the gates of hell prevailed.

If he has questions, pass them on. God be with you (Matthew 10:17-20)
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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2010, 07:32:46 PM »

Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2010, 07:47:13 PM »

Best of luck!  When I was investigating Orthodoxy, I was still in contact with several Roman Catholic Priests, a Bishop and an Anglican Priest.  No harm in talking with others.  Plus, investigating Orthodoxy is no reason to throw away acquaintances.
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« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2010, 08:06:00 PM »

Lord have mercy!

When  I started to consider Orthodoxy seriously, I spoke to two protestant ministers. (One of which is a member of my family). I did this mostly for the benefit of my parents (to help them with the conversion process), but I also did so to test my new found faith.
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« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2010, 09:32:41 PM »

Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2010, 09:36:52 PM »

Lord have Mercy!
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« Reply #8 on: January 17, 2010, 09:38:57 PM »

Lord have mercy.  Let us know how it goes.
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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2010, 09:48:35 PM »

I hope it goes well. I remember when I told my pastor that I couldn't be a Protestant and was exploring Eastern Orthodoxy. He probably thought I was going to be bowing to Satan himself, given his views of Catholicism/Orthodoxy. He was sure (and told me) that I'd come back to his Church.
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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2010, 11:13:27 PM »

Lord, have mercy!
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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2010, 11:35:46 PM »

"Lord have mercy."

When I left my Reformed PCA Church years ago, I first wrote a long letter to my pastor and the Session explaining my decision and the reasons behind it. Like you, I did not leave out of anger or disappointment at anyone in the Church. I expressed my gratitude to my pastor and to the entire Church for the many things I had learned and the many kindnesses that were shown to my family and me.

But my pastor said that I neeeded to sit down before the Session and explain everything personally. I agreed to do so, although I was very nervous about it. I had a huge knot in my stomach prior to that meeting. It was very formal, and very intimidating. I reiterated everything I had expressed in my letter, emphasizing my gratitude and respect for everyone at the Church. But I was still told that if I left, I would be sent a letter of excommunication. One of the Elders even went so far as to tell me that anyone who had left that Church had eventually ended up dead or having horrible things happen to them. I was astounded. And I was hurt by their reaction. But I trusted in God and was confident in my decision.

Interestingly, I never received any letter of excommunication. And about two years after that, the Church split up due to some deep divisions within; and the pastor left town to become the pastor of another Church in another city. I take no pleasure in the demise of that Church, nor do I feel "vindicated." But I tell you these things simply to prepare you for the reaction you may get from your pastor.

I hope your pastor will not treat you as I was treated by mine, but just be prepared. Don't get into a theolgical debate. Just emphasize your appreciation and respect for him, and thank him and the Church for the positive things you gained while you were a member there. Ask him for his prayers, and let him know that you will continue to pray for him. But above all, place your faith in Christ and in His True Church- The Orthodox Church.  

Peace to you.

Selam
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 11:41:13 PM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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« Reply #12 on: January 18, 2010, 04:01:45 AM »

Lord, have mercy.
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2010, 05:24:52 AM »

Forgive me for jumping in like this, but I don't understand why you should talk/argue with the pastor of a church you don't intend attending anymore?
Can't you just stop going without any further discussion/argument?

Because I want to hear what he has to say. In the back of my mind, I feel that I might be doing the wrong thing, that worship in my current church is completely valid (lack of sacraments notwithstanding) and that I shouldn't sever relationships I've had for over two years.

THAT SAID, for a church that doesn't force people to stand for two hours (HA!), it still feels very austere. There's an emphasis on membership and service, which to be honest is something I would expect from a serious church. However, I feel a sense of self-ghettofication (is that a word?) in that in order to be in good standing, I would have to go to Sunday service... then Sunday School after that... then go to wherever the group is having Sunday lunch (I really should tell them about the magic of parish halls) for a six hour long day. On top of that is a Friday night service which last 2-3 hours and small groups at other times in the week.

I appreciate that the Christian life is one of discipline... the EO life is by no means "easier..." but from what I've seen of their Church life, it is a bit more of a natural fit. About the only thing "unnatural" is that I'm of an ethnic background that is VERY Catholic.
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2010, 05:39:05 AM »

Forgive me for jumping in like this, but I don't understand why you should talk/argue with the pastor of a church you don't intend attending anymore?
Can't you just stop going without any further discussion/argument?

Because I want to hear what he has to say. In the back of my mind, I feel that I might be doing the wrong thing, that worship in my current church is completely valid (lack of sacraments notwithstanding) and that I shouldn't sever relationships I've had for over two years.

THAT SAID, for a church that doesn't force people to stand for two hours (HA!), it still feels very austere. There's an emphasis on membership and service, which to be honest is something I would expect from a serious church. However, I feel a sense of self-ghettofication (is that a word?) in that in order to be in good standing, I would have to go to Sunday service... then Sunday School after that... then go to wherever the group is having Sunday lunch (I really should tell them about the magic of parish halls) for a six hour long day. On top of that is a Friday night service which last 2-3 hours and small groups at other times in the week.

I appreciate that the Christian life is one of discipline... the EO life is by no means "easier..." but from what I've seen of their Church life, it is a bit more of a natural fit. About the only thing "unnatural" is that I'm of an ethnic background that is VERY Catholic.

One thing I love about Orthodoxy is that there is no pressure. Pressure and coercion are demonic. Discipline is not. Orthodoxy is far more disciplined than Protestantism - IMHO - but I have never felt pressured or judged for not being at Church. Usually my Priest will inquire about my lack of absence in order to make sure I am OK. But I never feel like I will be judged or condemned if I am not there.

We do not have "fasting police" or Church attendance monitors. The Church, her sacraments, and her fasts and feasts exist for all of us to avail ourselves of. We are all at different spiritual levels, and we all grow at a different pace. My own experience is that while evangelicals talk about grace, Orthodoxy exudes it.

Selam
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« Reply #15 on: January 19, 2010, 06:25:44 PM »

Just had meeting with my pastor. I found it edifying.

He emphasized in the church life that where your heart is is of utmost importance. If you go to church out of habit and/or obligation, you may as well not get out of bed. He also appreciated that I would ask to talk to him.

As for Orthodoxy and the like, his basic points were:

1). Aesthetics can be like an idol. He mentioned something about people in Guadalajara praying to a "doll."
2). The Church is not any kind of authority. He of course acknowledged that the Bible was written by human hands and that there were letters of Paul not included in the canon (and others, like Titus and Philemon that seem "odd" given their brevity and specificity). So, rather than the Church compiling the canon, God allowed the Church to recognize the authority/authenticity of certain letters and Gospels.
3). I mentioned one thing that attracted me to Orthodoxy was that (in my view) it underwent persecution. But he mentioned that Catholics, Protestants, JW's and Mormons have also been persecuted. I explained that this was not really a "logical" reason to like the Church and conceded it was possible that the EO suffered because they were jerks.

He also mentioned the importance of the Holy Spirit in revelation, but we didn't talk about whether the Spirit was with any particular church. I was tempted to go into an aside about [ultra]Montanism, but the talk was going and cutting into my already compromised lunch break.


One encouraging thing was that he was willing to read my copy of The Orthodox Church by +Metr. KALLISTOS. He also jokingly agreed that maybe his church should implement a fasting rule. (Speaking of reading, he has an extensive personal library--of opposing viewpoints too, like Catholic, Charismatic and even some New Atheist literature).

All said, I do not feel easy about letting go of this church (otherwise I would have gotten chrismated yesterday). I believe my Pastor is a genuinely Godly man. He may be a bit harsh and a bit authoritarian whenever he says "If you are not a Christian today," but I felt a bit of sympathy for him when he mentioned that several attendees told him they were not Christian (but took Communion anyway). He realizes that he really can't force anyone to be a Christian but at the same time he wants to hold to what he considers Christian truth.

As an aside, he and his family (and a team) are doing a church plant in San Jose. Pray for them.
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« Reply #16 on: January 20, 2010, 11:40:47 AM »

May God bless you on your journey.
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« Reply #17 on: January 20, 2010, 03:39:25 PM »

Lord, Have Mercy!

May the Holy Spirit guide you.
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« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2010, 03:46:43 PM »

Forgive me for jumping in like this, but I don't understand why you should talk/argue with the pastor of a church you don't intend attending anymore?
Can't you just stop going without any further discussion/argument?

It would be considered the polite thing to do. Otherwise the pastor might become worried or concerned as to what happened to this person.
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« Reply #19 on: January 20, 2010, 05:36:12 PM »

Lord have mercy!

The problem with Reform theology, is that it only goes back to the Reformation.  How is it that reform theology, 500 years old now, can claim to be true when the theology of Christ and His Apostles (following the reform judgement on the Orthodox Church) didn't last 300 years (if the Church at Nicea wasn't right)?  That would mean that the gates of hell prevailed.

If he has questions, pass them on. God be with you (Matthew 10:17-20)

I believe it is a total misunderstanding of the very nature of the Church.  Pardon me if I say something offensive, but the Reformation was trying to reform something that was not the Church in the first place, which I find kind of ironic.  

The one question someone should ask is if a church is in need of reform, is it even the Church?

In my little mind, I figure if you find out that a church you attend is in need of reform, it is better to leave and actually find the Church.

PS.  Please note that I am not saying those who are outside the Church will not be given eternal life at the last judgment, that is for the Lord to decide.
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« Reply #20 on: January 20, 2010, 08:04:17 PM »

Forgive me for jumping in like this, but I don't understand why you should talk/argue with the pastor of a church you don't intend attending anymore?
Can't you just stop going without any further discussion/argument?

Because I want to hear what he has to say. In the back of my mind, I feel that I might be doing the wrong thing, that worship in my current church is completely valid (lack of sacraments notwithstanding) and that I shouldn't sever relationships I've had for over two years.

THAT SAID, for a church that doesn't force people to stand for two hours (HA!), it still feels very austere. There's an emphasis on membership and service, which to be honest is something I would expect from a serious church. However, I feel a sense of self-ghettofication (is that a word?) in that in order to be in good standing, I would have to go to Sunday service... then Sunday School after that... then go to wherever the group is having Sunday lunch (I really should tell them about the magic of parish halls) for a six hour long day. On top of that is a Friday night service which last 2-3 hours and small groups at other times in the week.

I appreciate that the Christian life is one of discipline... the EO life is by no means "easier..." but from what I've seen of their Church life, it is a bit more of a natural fit. About the only thing "unnatural" is that I'm of an ethnic background that is VERY Catholic.
It was awesome that you had the courage to have this meeting. I am quite impressed. God bless you on this journey.
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« Reply #21 on: January 25, 2010, 12:47:50 PM »

If you go to church out of habit and/or obligation, you may as well not get out of bed.

I have been going to the same church for 18 years and am now in the process of moving to the Eastern Orthodox faith.

People are creatures of habit. You cannot escape that. If you were looking at physical exercise would you feel the same way about that statement? Of course not, you work out not because of the need for improvement, not over how you feel about it that day.

I don't worry about how I feel on Sunday any more. I am not going someplace to be entertained or educated. I am going someplace to fix what is broken in me.
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« Reply #22 on: January 25, 2010, 02:17:19 PM »

I don't worry about how I feel on Sunday any more. I am not going someplace to be entertained or educated. I am going someplace to fix what is broken in me.

Amen. 
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« Reply #23 on: January 25, 2010, 02:48:43 PM »


I love that statement!

...to fix what is broken in me.
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« Reply #24 on: January 25, 2010, 05:47:11 PM »

Quote from: Al Lipscomb link=topic=25452.msg402201#msg402201
I am going someplace to fix what is broken in me.

Amen! When I was considering Orthodoxy, I dithered and backtracked, "on the one hand this and on the other hand that"-ed, and generally acted out all over the place - most unbecoming in a lady of my (ahem!) somewhat mature years.

But this is where the proverbial rubber met the road. I knew I was broken, and I also knew I couldn't fix me, and I had never been able to do it in my Protestant church. Only Orthodoxy offered me any hope.

I think it must be sort of like chemotherapy - when the only option is that or continuing to die, you take it, and thank God for it.


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« Reply #25 on: January 25, 2010, 05:51:58 PM »

A truly wonderful (and very true) statement!
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« Reply #26 on: January 26, 2010, 12:47:09 AM »

I'm glad you had a mostly positive experience with your pastor.  I also went to my pastor and talked with him when I was beginning to seriously look at Orthodoxy again. I felt that it was the honorable thing to do.  As it turns out, my husband still goes to the church, so I think it definitely made a difference in my ongoing relationship (however small) with the church.  As you said, it's good to keep friendships.
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« Reply #27 on: January 26, 2010, 06:03:35 PM »

When I went to speak to my pastor many yaers ago about leaving ECUSA, my pastor advised me to look at the two historical Churches (Roman Catholic and eastern Orthodox). When I later called him to let him know I was going to be chismated as an Orthodox Christian, he wrote a lovely letter to the Orthodox Priest telling him about myself and my family and advising him about our activity and work within the Church. In a snese he blessed us leaving and wanted the Orthodox Pastor to know that we were "good people". While it may not have meant much to the Orthodox Priest, he shared it with us to let us know we had been correct in advising our former pastor of our decision and that it was with sorrow that the former pastor sent our "letter of membership".
The Orthodox Priest did not take long to put us to work in the parish teaching Sunday School and encouraging our children to serve on the Altar and sing in the Choir.

Sometimes  leaving in Love from your former chongregation can work out for the best.

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« Reply #28 on: January 26, 2010, 06:16:19 PM »


Pardon me if I say something offensive, but the Reformation was trying to reform something that was not the Church in the first place, which I find kind of ironic.

 laugh


The one question someone should ask is if a church is in need of reform, is it even the Church?

I think there often are certain situations within the Church when reform is necessary. I believe certain of the currents of thought being addressed in the preparation of the "Great and Holy Council" are reformatory. But note that that is with respect to liturgical and ecclesiastical order, not the faith.
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