all I'm asking for: present your evidence,
Katherine, honey (to use your kind phrase ), I have been trying to say gently and courteously that I feel disinclined to undertake this, and that for a number of reasons:
In this case, let me ask you a few questions, David.
1. What's the point? What's the point of being here and discussing anything with us at all, if you aren't going to finish the conversation and bail out every time you run out of answers? Forgive me if that sounds harsh, I'm sure you would know by my tone of voice (if you could hear it) that I'm not trying to be harsh. If you truly want to understand what it is that we Orthodox believe and why we believe it, then that mandates discussion. We can't understand each other via osmosis, unfortunately (wouldn't that make things easier!). And to understand what we believe, you must also understand why we DON'T believe what you believe, and we must try to understand what you believe in order to give you a response (basically, we have to have a discussion). You cannot on the one hand say you desire to be edified and desire to understand and on the other hand cut us off when you decide you have no more answers and have heard enough. It's disingenuous.
So, my other couple of questions will go back to the topic at hand, and I pray you will respond.
2. In response to your last post directed at me, where you stated that it's hard to prove the absence
of something... My question is, if you can't show any evidence of this "absence," why do you yourself believe it? Simply because (in your opinion) it's not plain in the NT? In other words, what causes you, when presented with the overwhelming evidence from the early church and early church fathers, to continue to believe something you have no evidence of?
3. Regarding the question of bishops in every community, have you considered that in NT times, before the legalization of Christianity, during the time when Christians were persecuted, that the reason there was one bishop per community was because there was only ONE COMMUNITY
per geographic area?
So I think, then, that what really needs to be discussed is what constitutes a community. As Protestants, your churches are separate-- you have separate beliefs (though some may be in common-- the important ones, you say), are not tied to one another, often not even knowing each other. In Orthodoxy, though we may be in separate buildings (with separate parish leadership-- parish council and priests, etc), we are all one community. For instance, in Atlanta, the clergy from all parishes in all jurisdictions (ROCOR, OCA, Greek, Antiochian, etc) are all members of one brotherhood, who bring the parishes together often to worship. There are many people who are members of more than one parish (even pledging stewardship in multiple parishes). There are lots of people who float freely from parish to parish (and in different jurisdictions, no less). We do many, many activities and services together as one active community, who, though spread out geographically in the city, are united COMPLETELY by beliefs and consider ourselves to truly be a family.
Honestly, it seems to me that, time after time, when I have these types of conversations with Protestants like your good self (and often happens here on the forum), they always back out of these discussions because they run out of answers. They find themselves backed into a corner out of which they cannot escape, and are forced to stop the conversation because if they continue, it will become quite clear to everyone involved (including themselves) that they have nothing more to stand on than their own opinion, which, once proven wrong, will force them to concede. And once one point is conceded, their belief system becomes a house of cards (to borrow a phrase from Katherine) which will topple quickly. Thus, knowing that they have nowhere to go and seeing what lies in the future should they have to concede that we Orthodox actually know what we're talking about, they practice, as has been stated several times on this thread, cognitive dissonance.
Forgive me if I have offended you. As always, it is never my intent.