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Author Topic: a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ  (Read 2590 times) Average Rating: 0
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JLatimer
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« on: April 05, 2010, 05:14:36 PM »

My parents who are Presbyterian/evangelical have a friend who was baptized Orthodox as a child but who many years ago fell away from the Church and has embraced evangelical Protestantism (Pray for him!). My folks asked him about why he left the Orthodox Church, and he claimed that he felt he did not have a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ as an Orthodox.* Obviously, this is something we have all probably heard from time to time.

It seems to me there are many easily identifiable fallacies in his statement. First of all, "personal" here is probably code language for "individual(ist)" and perhaps also for "emotional." Second, the phrase "personal relationship" does not exist in the New Testament; it is a modern invention of Protestants (I heard there is not even a NT Gk. word for "relationship"). Nevertheless, I feel I have a very personal relationship with our Lord within His Holy Church. But it seems to me its not enough to have a "personal" relationship: we should be concerned that we have a right relationship with Him!

Have any other people encountered this idea before? if so, how do you or would you respond, both to non-Orthodox people and perhaps to apostates like my parents' friend? Also, how do you experience your relationship with God as an Orthodox Christian? Thanks.

* I must admit I don't really believe that's the (only) reason why he left the Church, since it projects a mindset already essentially Protestant back into time to the period when he was Orthodox. I'm pretty sure he was raised in an ethnic parish where he did not understand the liturgical language, which I sympathize with as I know this could be very frustrating and it seems he wasn't catechized very well. (Sometimes it irritates me when ex-Orthodox Protestant folks will say "Take it from me, I used to be Orthodox..." as if they are experts on Orthodoxy when they weren't really that seriously into their Orthodox faith to begin with! How many people do you know that dig really deep into Orthodoxy and then conclude that they need to become Protestant? Conversely, how many convert stories have we all heard of really serious Protestants concluding they need to become Orthodox (or at least RC)?
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2010, 05:29:41 PM »

Everyone who converts to another creed from their own makes such statements as "Only when I began digging into my faith then I decided to become (fill in the blank faith)".  They also will talk about people who don't take their faith seriously (as if everyone intheir faith were so devout in whatever they believed in).

I've heard it a million times.  This is why, as I am returning to thew OC, I try to keep my reversion story on a positive note and talk about the things which drew me to Orthodoxy, not the negatives that repelled me from my previous creed.
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2010, 06:12:16 PM »

I was just thinking along these lines last night actually -- wild.  And I think you're right: to many "personal relationship" has something to do with feelings.  And seeing prayers answered the way they want them answered is also probably part of it.  But now of course I'm seeing now this whole thing through different eyes; like you said it's now through our relationship in & with the *church*.  We are Christ's Body after all -- of course I have a "personal relationship" with Him, I'm part of His body! I just function (or attempt to function) within the church as I was designed to do and in doing so I'm just LIVING a personal relationship with him.  He is living and breathing in and through me since I'm part of His body.  It has nothing to do with the thoughts I'm thinking or the feelings I'm feeling.  I don't know if that makes sense, but that's what my thoughts were last night.  
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2010, 06:25:17 PM »

I must admit I don't really believe that's the (only) reason why he left the Church, since it projects a mindset already essentially Protestant back into time to the period when he was Orthodox. I'm pretty sure he was raised in an ethnic parish where he did not understand the liturgical language, which I sympathize with as I know this could be very frustrating and it seems he wasn't catechized very well.

It probably doesn't have anything to do with the liturgical language. I was raised Roman Catholic, and as a teenager this message of a personal relationship with God resonated with me. I had never understood the faith to be something inward or personal. But I also hadn't been going to church for about a year or two, and then was forced to attend my father's Baptist church for about a year before finally letting go and dedicating my life to Christ. Much of it likely also had to do with me "coming of age." As a teenager, for the first time one begins to see many things with adult eyes, and to make things inwardly real for the first time. Perhaps I just didn't have the opportunity to do that yet as a Roman Catholic, or even to hear their side of the story.

Ultimately, I have decided that I hate all of this so much, and I just want to hole up and pretend all of these conflicts don't exist. Most of my Christian friends, including my wife, are Protestants, and I hate the division that exists between them and me now.

My sister was also raised Roman Catholic, but she never lived her faith in a proactive, inwardly motivated way. She just went week after week without understanding anything or caring much about Christ. So how can I not be happy for her now that she is reading her Bible, praying daily, and sharing her faith with everyone around her? I want to be happy for her, but I feel like because of Orthodoxy I can not. Instead I find myself being critical of almost every aspect of her church. The sentimental lyrics where Jesus runs his hands through your hair and basically is about to put his tongue down your throat, the laser light show, the emotionally stirring rock band crescendo at the same time each week, the "speaking in tongues", et cetera. Rather than being full of joy for her giving herself to God in a deeper way, I instead feel like a puffed-up know-it-all concerning the errors of her sect, and rather than sharing in her joy in Christ I want to give her a lecture on Church History and Apostolic authority. This is the one huge thing that makes me hate Orthodoxy and want to run away. It's an instant wall between all of my friends and family, but most especially my dear wife.

But I also know that there is no way that I can go back to being a Protestant; not knowing the things that I know now. So I feel like I have the fullness of Truth before me as a path in Holy Orthodoxy, but whenever I fully embrace it I will be destroying my life, social connections and familial network, all of which are Christian. I am probably going to have to do this alone, spending the rest of my life essentially alone, spiritually estranged from my wife and children, as well as everyone else I know. I don't have the heart to argue with a single one of them about this. I don't have the heart to engage in rational debates with them about church history or authority, because I don't think most of them are after Truth, but rather what is comfortable, familiar, and brings them happiness. Or perhaps I am the deluded one, or we are all deluded by superstitious tales. Either way, the mere mention of these issues and the strife they cause in my heart has already robbed me of the joys of the Resurrection. May God forgive my pitiable state and save us all by the work of the Holy Cross.
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2010, 07:04:26 PM »

I must admit I don't really believe that's the (only) reason why he left the Church, since it projects a mindset already essentially Protestant back into time to the period when he was Orthodox. I'm pretty sure he was raised in an ethnic parish where he did not understand the liturgical language, which I sympathize with as I know this could be very frustrating and it seems he wasn't catechized very well.

It probably doesn't have anything to do with the liturgical language. I was raised Roman Catholic, and as a teenager this message of a personal relationship with God resonated with me. I had never understood the faith to be something inward or personal. But I also hadn't been going to church for about a year or two, and then was forced to attend my father's Baptist church for about a year before finally letting go and dedicating my life to Christ. Much of it likely also had to do with me "coming of age." As a teenager, for the first time one begins to see many things with adult eyes, and to make things inwardly real for the first time. Perhaps I just didn't have the opportunity to do that yet as a Roman Catholic, or even to hear their side of the story.

Ultimately, I have decided that I hate all of this so much, and I just want to hole up and pretend all of these conflicts don't exist. Most of my Christian friends, including my wife, are Protestants, and I hate the division that exists between them and me now.

My sister was also raised Roman Catholic, but she never lived her faith in a proactive, inwardly motivated way. She just went week after week without understanding anything or caring much about Christ. So how can I not be happy for her now that she is reading her Bible, praying daily, and sharing her faith with everyone around her? I want to be happy for her, but I feel like because of Orthodoxy I can not. Instead I find myself being critical of almost every aspect of her church. The sentimental lyrics where Jesus runs his hands through your hair and basically is about to put his tongue down your throat, the laser light show, the emotionally stirring rock band crescendo at the same time each week, the "speaking in tongues", et cetera. Rather than being full of joy for her giving herself to God in a deeper way, I instead feel like a puffed-up know-it-all concerning the errors of her sect, and rather than sharing in her joy in Christ I want to give her a lecture on Church History and Apostolic authority. This is the one huge thing that makes me hate Orthodoxy and want to run away. It's an instant wall between all of my friends and family, but most especially my dear wife.

But I also know that there is no way that I can go back to being a Protestant; not knowing the things that I know now. So I feel like I have the fullness of Truth before me as a path in Holy Orthodoxy, but whenever I fully embrace it I will be destroying my life, social connections and familial network, all of which are Christian. I am probably going to have to do this alone, spending the rest of my life essentially alone, spiritually estranged from my wife and children, as well as everyone else I know. I don't have the heart to argue with a single one of them about this. I don't have the heart to engage in rational debates with them about church history or authority, because I don't think most of them are after Truth, but rather what is comfortable, familiar, and brings them happiness. Or perhaps I am the deluded one, or we are all deluded by superstitious tales. Either way, the mere mention of these issues and the strife they cause in my heart has already robbed me of the joys of the Resurrection. May God forgive my pitiable state and save us all by the work of the Holy Cross.
You will be in my prayers.
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2010, 07:47:51 PM »

The Disciples obviously had a personal relationship with Our Lord. But it was not an exclusive, individualistic personal relationship. As Christians we have a personal and corporate relationship with all three persons of the Holy Trinity. We cannot separate our individual relationship with Jesus from our corporate relationship to our fellow Christians and to the Holy Orthodox Church.

We can only approach God on His terms, not our own. As their father, my children must obey and respect me. They must address me in an honorable manner. They must follow my rules and respect my standards. But they know that I love them unconditionally; and their obedience is the result of love and devotion, not obligation. And because they respect me, honor me and have confidence in my love for them, then they also feel free to jump in my arms and shower me with hugs and kisses. They feel free to play with me. They feel free to show me unscripted and spontaneous displays of love and affection.

So I think this is similar to how we should approach and view Our Lord. We cannot merely pray to Him with our own words; we must first pray according to His instructions. We cannot merely worship Him according to our own ideas; we must first worship Him according to His dictates and wishes. We cannot create our own subjective theology about God; we must accept the theology handed down to us by the holy Apostles. But with these objective foundations in place, we can also freely pray to God from the depths of our hearts. We can cry to him in our hours of need. We can dance before Him in joyful praise. We can talk to Him as our most intimate Friend. We can find comfort in His loving embrace.
   
It is well within Orthodox theology to speak of having a personal relationship with Christ. But our relationship with the Divine can never be presumptuous and casual. The God with whom we are in relationship is a Holy God. We dare not come to Him on our own merits and conditions; we must come to Him in and through His Church. There can be no personal relationship with Jesus Christ outside of and apart from the Church of Christ.


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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2010, 06:02:23 AM »

What Gebre said!

The term 'personal relationship' really grates on me. I'm sure many people simply want to express an uplifting emotional connection. But to me it has all the wrong connotations: Christ does not go around ranking his bestest buddies like a seven year old. It's the same when street evangelists anxiously ask me if Jesus is my own personal Saviour: the answer is no, He died for all our sins.
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2010, 08:21:03 AM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".
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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2010, 10:05:26 AM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

And so often it's not just a Jesus on MY terms, but a Jesus that I can control! Jesus becomes my property, instead of me being his (no one would ever say that, but it's effectively true with most Protestants I've known).

It's interesting you say that in your experience Jesus' divinity was emphasized to the detriment of his humanity. Today that seems to be the opposite in many circles, as Jesus is often portrayed as a really good guy, a brilliant teacher, etc, and his divinity hardly is mentioned (if asked, people will of course say he is God, but it doesn't seem to make an appreciable impact. The Incarnation is not venerated anywhere near like it is in Orthodoxy.).

Quote from: Alveus Lacuna
But I also know that there is no way that I can go back to being a Protestant; not knowing the things that I know now. So I feel like I have the fullness of Truth before me as a path in Holy Orthodoxy, but whenever I fully embrace it I will be destroying my life, social connections and familial network, all of which are Christian. I am probably going to have to do this alone, spending the rest of my life essentially alone, spiritually estranged from my wife and children, as well as everyone else I know. I don't have the heart to argue with a single one of them about this. I don't have the heart to engage in rational debates with them about church history or authority, because I don't think most of them are after Truth, but rather what is comfortable, familiar, and brings them happiness. Or perhaps I am the deluded one, or we are all deluded by superstitious tales. Either way, the mere mention of these issues and the strife they cause in my heart has already robbed me of the joys of the Resurrection. May God forgive my pitiable state and save us all by the work of the Holy Cross.

I know how you feel. What I have come to is to smile and nod when my family is excited about something I disagree with. I'll say something if it is especially grievous, but I try to focus on being salt and light, and pray that someday they find the truth that I have found.

Orthodoxy—true Christianity—is an extremely subversive religion. It does not play well with others, by nature.  I haven't been Orthodox for very long, but already there have been times where I've had to choose between family and church. My priest has said that I have to be faithful to my family according to the Spirit before my family according to the flesh, if the two conflict. Christ did warn us that his words would pit family members against each other, and that it would not be an easy thing to follow him faithfully. I take some comfort in that, strange as it sounds
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2010, 10:35:44 AM »

And so often it's not just a Jesus on MY terms, but a Jesus that I can control! Jesus becomes my property, instead of me being his (no one would ever say that, but it's effectively true with most Protestants I've known).

It's interesting you say that in your experience Jesus' divinity was emphasized to the detriment of his humanity. Today that seems to be the opposite in many circles, as Jesus is often portrayed as a really good guy, a brilliant teacher, etc, and his divinity hardly is mentioned (if asked, people will of course say he is God, but it doesn't seem to make an appreciable impact. The Incarnation is not venerated anywhere near like it is in Orthodoxy.)
Yes, you have expressed exactly what I meant with "Jesus on MY terms".
There really is a range of beliefs among Protestants - it's the gung-ho Evangelicals who emphasis the divine Jesus, and the more theologically liberal ones who come close to relegating Him to not much more than a good teacher. Of course, there's everything in between.

I overheard part of a radio program my wife was listening to a couple of days ago (she has remained Ev Prot). The speaker said (paraphrase - but I hope close): "The only reason Jesus came to earth was to die for our sins; nothing else matters; after all, His birth is mentioned in only two of the Gospels". This preacher - one of the more popular and better-known ones in that crowd - apparently has overlooked the Incarnation, Emmanuel, God-with-us! This is true relationship with Jesus Christ! Yes, His death and Resurrection are part of His coming, but all within the context of His being one with us. See what I mean about lack of balance?

That preacher is also wrong about Jesus' birth being mentioned in only two Gospel accounts. In addition to the Nativity narratives of Matthew and Luke, John's statement "and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us" certainly is a clear reference to His birth. And really, why is a description of a person's birth all that important to establish humanity? It should be pretty obvious that a birth has occurred! I really can't figure out why those Protestants who are so strongly pro-life (Life begins at conception! they shout) ignore entirely the Annunciation and pre-birth accounts of our Lord.
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« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2010, 10:42:46 AM »

What they are saying isn't entirely coherent. On one level it is an emphasis on the emotional, but on another level it's a reaction against an image of a "faith" which is entirely propositional and intellectualized and which (it is felt, and I think this is a real problem) doesn't have the actual Jesus as the object of its faith. In other words, what they are against is theological language as a kind of idol. Of course in practice it has a tendency to serve as a kind of ecclesiological pass phrase, signifying that the person is in the right place because they use the right words to talk about it.
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« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2010, 11:45:13 AM »

What they are saying isn't entirely coherent. On one level it is an emphasis on the emotional, but on another level it's a reaction against an image of a "faith" which is entirely propositional and intellectualized and which (it is felt, and I think this is a real problem) doesn't have the actual Jesus as the object of its faith. In other words, what they are against is theological language as a kind of idol. Of course in practice it has a tendency to serve as a kind of ecclesiological pass phrase, signifying that the person is in the right place because they use the right words to talk about it.

Very well stated.
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« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2010, 12:11:42 PM »

Most Evangelicals that I know appear to believe that God talks to them directly. Personally, I don't know if I could say such a thing myself. I've often felt that they replace their own person 'inner voice/conscience' with the 'literal' voice of God Himself. When you talk to one, they seem to think they know exactly what God wants them to do at any given moment because they hear their conscience speaking to them...

Personally, I have a great deal of trouble with this but who in the heck am I to say they don't hear God...  Undecided
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« Reply #13 on: April 06, 2010, 01:07:43 PM »

My personal experience as a former Protestant leads me to believe that you can't really have a personal relationship with Christ without some sort of Divine epiphany, a breaking-through of the Uncreated Light into the darkened soul.  Orthodoxy, by its use of apophatic logic to root out from the mind all ideas of God that are off the mark, and the use of the Jesus Prayer by seekers and those who wish to help them, has (apparently, alone among Christian groups) developed a means to cultivate such a personal relationship.
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« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2010, 01:22:40 PM »

My personal experience as a former Protestant leads me to believe that you can't really have a personal relationship with Christ without some sort of Divine epiphany, a breaking-through of the Uncreated Light into the darkened soul.  Orthodoxy, by its use of apophatic logic to root out from the mind all ideas of God that are off the mark, and the use of the Jesus Prayer by seekers and those who wish to help them, has (apparently, alone among Christian groups) developed a means to cultivate such a personal relationship.

You speak of Theoria...?
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« Reply #15 on: April 06, 2010, 01:56:00 PM »

Most Evangelicals that I know appear to believe that God talks to them directly. Personally, I don't know if I could say such a thing myself. I've often felt that they replace their own person 'inner voice/conscience' with the 'literal' voice of God Himself. When you talk to one, they seem to think they know exactly what God wants them to do at any given moment because they hear their conscience speaking to them...

Yeah I forgot about this prelest angle, but its true. And I'm not convinced it's always something as benign as conscience speaking!
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« Reply #16 on: April 06, 2010, 01:58:05 PM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

And so often it's not just a Jesus on MY terms, but a Jesus that I can control! Jesus becomes my property, instead of me being his (no one would ever say that, but it's effectively true with most Protestants I've known).

C.S. Lewis said something like, most people are looking for an ally, not a Master.
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« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2010, 04:26:06 PM »

Most Evangelicals that I know appear to believe that God talks to them directly. Personally, I don't know if I could say such a thing myself. I've often felt that they replace their own person 'inner voice/conscience' with the 'literal' voice of God Himself. When you talk to one, they seem to think they know exactly what God wants them to do at any given moment because they hear their conscience speaking to them...

Personally, I have a great deal of trouble with this but who in the heck am I to say they don't hear God...  Undecided

I agree with you to a strong degree, though they would say what they hear isn't neccessarily a voice, but a feeling, nudge, etc.    They also view humanity as totally depraved and anything they themselves think of can not be possibly from God so they relegate anything that is a fruit of the Spirit or a ministry choice, etc to the prompting of  God alone.
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« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2010, 05:39:50 PM »

Most Evangelicals that I know appear to believe that God talks to them directly. Personally, I don't know if I could say such a thing myself. I've often felt that they replace their own person 'inner voice/conscience' with the 'literal' voice of God Himself. When you talk to one, they seem to think they know exactly what God wants them to do at any given moment because they hear their conscience speaking to them...

Personally, I have a great deal of trouble with this but who in the heck am I to say they don't hear God...  Undecided


C.S. Lewis said something like, most people are looking for an ally, not a Master.

Haha.  Yep.  I have made many choices based on "God's voice".  Funny how "God" seemed to almost always agree with me.
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« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2010, 06:42:17 PM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

I agree.  So many see Jesus as their "buddy", rather than their Lord.  Also, I agree, I think all too many make up their own Jesus--for instance, one that expects absolutely nothing from them.  Also, you can't get much more intimate with Christ than to receive His body and blood in the Eucharist.  Of course, most of those that talk about a "personal relationship with Jesus" refuse to believe that Jesus meant what He said when He said we must eat His body and drink His blood (and then showed how that was to be done at the Last Supper).
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« Reply #20 on: April 06, 2010, 06:46:43 PM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

And so often it's not just a Jesus on MY terms, but a Jesus that I can control! Jesus becomes my property, instead of me being his (no one would ever say that, but it's effectively true with most Protestants I've known).

It's interesting you say that in your experience Jesus' divinity was emphasized to the detriment of his humanity. Today that seems to be the opposite in many circles, as Jesus is often portrayed as a really good guy, a brilliant teacher, etc, and his divinity hardly is mentioned (if asked, people will of course say he is God, but it doesn't seem to make an appreciable impact. The Incarnation is not venerated anywhere near like it is in Orthodoxy.).

Quote from: Alveus Lacuna
But I also know that there is no way that I can go back to being a Protestant; not knowing the things that I know now. So I feel like I have the fullness of Truth before me as a path in Holy Orthodoxy, but whenever I fully embrace it I will be destroying my life, social connections and familial network, all of which are Christian. I am probably going to have to do this alone, spending the rest of my life essentially alone, spiritually estranged from my wife and children, as well as everyone else I know. I don't have the heart to argue with a single one of them about this. I don't have the heart to engage in rational debates with them about church history or authority, because I don't think most of them are after Truth, but rather what is comfortable, familiar, and brings them happiness. Or perhaps I am the deluded one, or we are all deluded by superstitious tales. Either way, the mere mention of these issues and the strife they cause in my heart has already robbed me of the joys of the Resurrection. May God forgive my pitiable state and save us all by the work of the Holy Cross.

I know how you feel. What I have come to is to smile and nod when my family is excited about something I disagree with. I'll say something if it is especially grievous, but I try to focus on being salt and light, and pray that someday they find the truth that I have found.

Orthodoxy—true Christianity—is an extremely subversive religion. It does not play well with others, by nature.  I haven't been Orthodox for very long, but already there have been times where I've had to choose between family and church. My priest has said that I have to be faithful to my family according to the Spirit before my family according to the flesh, if the two conflict. Christ did warn us that his words would pit family members against each other, and that it would not be an easy thing to follow him faithfully. I take some comfort in that, strange as it sounds

Yes, true Christianity is an extremely subversive religion (and, of course, Orthodoxy is true Christianity).  I think that is one of the reasons that doctrine and dogma are dirty words in most Protestant circles.  Of course, doctrine and dogma mean that truth is not relative and there are undeniable truths, and you cannot just make up your own "truth" if you don't like the real truth.  Thank God, I have not lost my family over becoming Orthodox, but I did lose some friends.
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katherine 2001
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Eastern Orthodox Church--Established in 33 A.D.


« Reply #21 on: April 06, 2010, 06:47:59 PM »

Most Evangelicals that I know appear to believe that God talks to them directly. Personally, I don't know if I could say such a thing myself. I've often felt that they replace their own person 'inner voice/conscience' with the 'literal' voice of God Himself. When you talk to one, they seem to think they know exactly what God wants them to do at any given moment because they hear their conscience speaking to them...

Personally, I have a great deal of trouble with this but who in the heck am I to say they don't hear God...  Undecided


C.S. Lewis said something like, most people are looking for an ally, not a Master.

Haha.  Yep.  I have made many choices based on "God's voice".  Funny how "God" seemed to almost always agree with me.

This reminds me of something I heard Fr. Thomas Hopko said.  He said that the God we make up always seems to agree with us while the real God very rarely agrees with us.
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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2010, 07:47:45 PM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

And so often it's not just a Jesus on MY terms, but a Jesus that I can control! Jesus becomes my property, instead of me being his (no one would ever say that, but it's effectively true with most Protestants I've known).

It's interesting you say that in your experience Jesus' divinity was emphasized to the detriment of his humanity. Today that seems to be the opposite in many circles, as Jesus is often portrayed as a really good guy, a brilliant teacher, etc, and his divinity hardly is mentioned (if asked, people will of course say he is God, but it doesn't seem to make an appreciable impact. The Incarnation is not venerated anywhere near like it is in Orthodoxy.).

Quote from: Alveus Lacuna
But I also know that there is no way that I can go back to being a Protestant; not knowing the things that I know now. So I feel like I have the fullness of Truth before me as a path in Holy Orthodoxy, but whenever I fully embrace it I will be destroying my life, social connections and familial network, all of which are Christian. I am probably going to have to do this alone, spending the rest of my life essentially alone, spiritually estranged from my wife and children, as well as everyone else I know. I don't have the heart to argue with a single one of them about this. I don't have the heart to engage in rational debates with them about church history or authority, because I don't think most of them are after Truth, but rather what is comfortable, familiar, and brings them happiness. Or perhaps I am the deluded one, or we are all deluded by superstitious tales. Either way, the mere mention of these issues and the strife they cause in my heart has already robbed me of the joys of the Resurrection. May God forgive my pitiable state and save us all by the work of the Holy Cross.

I know how you feel. What I have come to is to smile and nod when my family is excited about something I disagree with. I'll say something if it is especially grievous, but I try to focus on being salt and light, and pray that someday they find the truth that I have found.

Orthodoxy—true Christianity—is an extremely subversive religion. It does not play well with others, by nature.  I haven't been Orthodox for very long, but already there have been times where I've had to choose between family and church. My priest has said that I have to be faithful to my family according to the Spirit before my family according to the flesh, if the two conflict. Christ did warn us that his words would pit family members against each other, and that it would not be an easy thing to follow him faithfully. I take some comfort in that, strange as it sounds

Yes, true Christianity is an extremely subversive religion (and, of course, Orthodoxy is true Christianity).  I think that is one of the reasons that doctrine and dogma are dirty words in most Protestant circles.  Of course, doctrine and dogma mean that truth is not relative and there are undeniable truths, and you cannot just make up your own "truth" if you don't like the real truth.  Thank God, I have not lost my family over becoming Orthodox, but I did lose some friends.

I think subversive is the wrong word--it implies indirectness and dishonesty. Subversion is what an evangelical couple I know did when they joined a Methodist parish with the intent of subverting them and converting that church to their own denomination. They even had their son baptized in this church that they believed was going to hell. I find this whole practice absolutely disgusting--it is just what the gnostics and Manichees tried to do to the early Christians. I am glad that we Orthodox do not witness in this way--no secrets, no sneaky ways of converting people, no psychological manipulation, no subversion--only honesty, respect, and clarity. If families will be torn apart because of the gospel, then let it be the unbelievers who do the tearing apart, not us.

Alveus Lacuna, you are in my prayers, as are all others in your situation.
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« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2010, 01:11:32 AM »

It looks as though many of us are of the same mind in this matter. Since becoming Orthodox, Jesus has actually become more "personal" to me, I think because of the better balance that Orthodoxy gives to His humanity and His divinity. In the Evangelical Protestant circles that I knew for fifty years, His divinity was very clearly expressed and honoured, but His humanity was scarcely touched on. Now I'm understanding much better how people were drawn to Him during the years of His earthly ministry - it's happening to me! Also, for that same crowd, a "personal Jesus" too often means "Jesus on MY terms".

I agree.  So many see Jesus as their "buddy", rather than their Lord.  Also, I agree, I think all too many make up their own Jesus--for instance, one that expects absolutely nothing from them.  Also, you can't get much more intimate with Christ than to receive His body and blood in the Eucharist.  Of course, most of those that talk about a "personal relationship with Jesus" refuse to believe that Jesus meant what He said when He said we must eat His body and drink His blood (and then showed how that was to be done at the Last Supper).

That's why I always am confused (to put it mildly) by people who leave Orthodoxy and become Protestant. I guess it's easier for me to conceptualize if I imagine it was because of language-barrier issues, etc. I have to think of them as ignorant. Because to know full well what the Holy Mysteries are and then walk away from that? I just can't imagine it!

I feel like there is such a warmth and intimacy in Orthodoxy that is just not there in Protestantism. Like last year during Western Christmas I went with my folks to the local Presbyterian church for their Christmas Eve service and it just felt so cold and barren. It made me sad.

I used to spend time when I was a Protestant, especially as a teen and pre-teen, trying to "feel" something, anything, when we were singing, for example. Everyone seemed to be doing it -- trying to get themselves worked up into an emotional state in order to experience "God's presence."

Now I compare that striving to Holy Communion, or to going to Holy Unction last Wednesday and receiving that anointing. Now that's what I call God's Presence!
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1 Samuel 25:22 (KJV)
So and more also do God unto the enemies of David, if I leave of all that pertain to him by the morning light any that pisseth against the wall.
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