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Author Topic: What are the benefits of possessing 'correct' doctrine?  (Read 8617 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ortho_cat
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« on: November 07, 2010, 05:06:26 PM »

Lately I have started to question the value of correct doctrine. What is it's real use to us? Is it merely something to hang our hats on, or to boast about to others, or does it have some real spiritual benefit/advantage for us in comparison to heterdox beliefs? 

For example, of what value is it to have knowledge of the single procession of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the filioque)? If God revealed this to the Church, surely there must be a good reason for it, other than to be used as a wedge to drive separatation between east and west. How does having this knowledge enhance our relationship with God? Perhaps we can discuss some other examples later, but i'd like to start with this one.

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« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2010, 05:16:26 PM »

I like this from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's podcast "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" on AFR. I believe this is from the first episode. It's long but worthwhile, and helped me come to terms with the same kinds of questions.

In most areas of life, we are concerned with the truth. A cashier has to know how much change she is given. A nurse has to apply just the right amount of medication to a patient. A mathematician checks and double-checks his proofs. A jury listens to all the facts to sort out the truth in a trial. A history teacher has to get the names and dates right. A scientist publishes her work for peer review to ensure everyone gets the same results. In all of these cases and more, what’s important is not opinion; rather, it is truth.

Yet, it seems that when it comes to questions of religion and spirituality and the accompanying moral questions, we become relativists. Instead of asking who God really is, we ask, “Who is God to me?” Instead of asking what it means for God to become a man, we suggest, “That’s okay for some people to believe if they want.” Instead of asking whether God expects something of us, we judge religious expectations by what we ourselves want. The pursuit of objectivity goes out the window, and subjectivity reigns.

This fundamental problem is made worse because of the lack of familiarity with the tools of spiritual knowledge; that is, most people are not doing what it takes in order to see what is true. If an astronomer refused to use a telescope, or if a biologist refused to use a microscope, we would—at best—regard them as having incomplete knowledge in their fields. From the Christian point of view, what is lacking is purity of heart; as Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Also lacking is the guidance to achieve that purity from those who have seen God and passed on their experience to the next generation.

Plato defined that same problem when he wrote The Republic and included the famous allegory of the cave. In this allegory, prisoners chained up in a cave for their whole lives believe that all reality is defined by the shadows they see on the wall. If one of the prisoners escaped, found his way to the surface, and saw the sun and all reality for what it is, how could he describe his experience to people whose reality is defined by shadows? When he stumbles back into the cave, trying to adjust back to life in the darkness, those in the cave may well ridicule him as having been damaged by his experience rather than enlightened. Such is the plight of many believers today.

Let me submit that the great spiritual battle of our time is not a struggle between believers and atheists; rather, it is a struggle between pride and humility. We expect and demand humility in almost every area of life: what really matters is what is objectively true, not what one of us happens to think is true. We ourselves are not what is important. But when it comes to ultimate questions, we set aside humility and place ourselves at the center of the universe. This temptation to pride is common, even to believers in God.

One of the basic assumptions of this series is that truth is not relative, and that Orthodox Christianity represents the fullness of the truth—the locus of the revelation of God in Christ. From that basic position, we will analyze various religious groups and their teachings, seeing what we share and where we differ. Because truth is not relative, all human beings must be willing to set aside what we would prefer to be true and embrace what really is true, changing ourselves, our attitudes, and our beliefs whenever necessary.

It has become unfashionable in our time to speak as though a particular belief is true  and another is false. And yet even within my lifetime, I recall quite clearly how many religious groups in our culture used to think of their own beliefs as true, and then logically conclude that any other beliefs were therefore false.

Today however, this conclusion—and especially speaking publicly about it—is seen as not being loving (a word now used to mean nice). Indeed, in our time a public disagreement about religion is sometimes considered offensive. Living in an age of political correctness, we are given new pieces of cultural theology to profess:

All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.
Yet for nearly everything else in life—whether it is politics, healthcare, or even the scoring records of your favorite football team—we demand seriousness, detail, and accuracy. Distracted by such transient things as these, our culture has successfully ignored a basic syllogism:

If there really is a God, then who he is and what he might want from us are more important than anything else in the universe.

As believers, we are not in the nice business. We are in the truth business. The purpose of this series is to examine the differences between the faith of the Orthodox Christian Church and the faiths of other Christian communions and of non-Christians.

Obviously, as an Orthodox priest, it is my belief that the Orthodox Christian faith is uniquely true. I would not be Orthodox if I did not believe it was the truth revealed by God in his son Jesus Christ. My faith is such that, if I encountered a part of the Orthodox faith that made no sense to me or struck me as incorrect, then it is I who needs to be reformed, not the Orthodox Church.

Indeed, this is the view of all classical, traditional religions, rather than the modern consumer-style understanding of faith which is popular in our culture—that each person is the arbiter of what is true and false, that he can pick and choose what bits of spirituality and belief he likes from a sort of religious buffet.

The nature of truth, however, is that it is true, no matter what anyone says about it. In the face of truth, there is no opinion. Most people already believe this, but do not often apply it to the question that matters most: who is God and what does he want from me?

There is good and there is evil. There is truth and there is falsehood. These basic assumptions, based on our own everyday experience, should inform all of our thoughts and actions regarding what is ultimately true.

If you have ever visited the website Facebook, then you probably know that users can put together profiles of themselves detailing various bits of information about who they are and what they do. One of the details that can be specified is labeled Religious Views. This is what most people think of when they think about religion, that it is a question of views, that religion is an opinion you hold, something you think. (Notice that Facebook does not even use the term beliefs.)

For most traditional religions, however, faith is not merely a set of views; rather, religious faith is a whole way of life, a purposeful way of living that has a set of goals at its heart which inform everything in that way of life.

In this, Facebook is representing a secularist philosophy, which is not so much an outright denial of spiritual truths as it is a compartmentalization of elements of life into neat categories which have nothing to do with each other. In this box, I keep my views on economics. In this one are my views on cable television. In this one I have my reading preferences, and in this one I keep my religion. Even the word religion itself—not a word I prefer to use in regards to Orthodox Christianity—means something quite different. The Latin religio means reconnection. To build and rebuild links.

What you are trying to link yourself to will vary from one religion to another, but the key is that there is something happening there. It is not just something you think or agree with, and it is not just about you; there is an Other.

Here is a fundamental truth about all religious practice: what you believe and what you do make a difference. If this is true, then we must also accept that if you change what you believe and what you do, you will get different results.

This is true of everything in life. My brother is a chemical engineer. My sister is a biologist. (You may wonder what happened to me.) They know this to be true. If you do not believe them, ask a doctor. Ask a physicist, ask a psychologist, ask a brick layer, ask a janitor. They will all tell you that what you believe and what you do make a difference. If you change those things, you will get different results.
What concerns me is that we often do not apply this basic principle to what matters most in human life. In a religious context, this fundamental truth means different religions—because they believe differently and practice differently—will yield different results.

Sometimes those different results are all put under one label like salvation. But what does it mean to be saved? To a Hindu practicing yoga, salvation means release from the physical body and being absorbed into the oblivion of the universe; the annihilation of individual personhood in Nirvana. I guarantee that is not what salvation means to a Baptist. But what a Baptist means by salvation and what an Orthodox Christian means by it are not the same thing either. As such, the members of those different faiths have different methods of trying to get where they want to go.

Furthermore, because there exists truth and falsehood, and because most religions have traditionally claimed that their faith was true and that others are at least somewhat false, that means that some religious believers are fundamentally mistaken about their beliefs and practices. This means they are not going to get the results that they think they will.

In the Orthodox Christian faith, our one and only purpose in life is to become more like Jesus Christ. Whether we go to heaven when we die is only one element in a much larger picture. That picture, ultimately, is of the Holy Trinity.

An Orthodox Christian’s life has one goal: union with the Holy Trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the One God who created all things. The path to that union is Jesus Christ, the God-Man, the second Person of the Holy Trinity. Salvation is the attainment of eternal life.

In John 17, in his prayer to the Father before his crucifixion, Jesus defines what this means. He said, “And this is life eternal: that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” To know God—that is what eternal life means, not just living forever.

He later prays, “And the glory you have given me, I have given them. That they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, that you have loved them as you have loved me.”

Thus, in the Orthodox Christian faith, being saved—having eternal life—means knowing God in Jesus Christ. It also means receiving from Jesus the glory he has from his Father. In reality, salvation is about far, far more than getting out of hell when we die. It is a deep, intimate knowledge of God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In this deep knowledge—which is experience rather than accumulation of facts—those who are being saved receive the very glory of God. Going to heaven or hell at the moment of death simply means that our experience of God in this life continues into the next, although amplified. If we love God and know him deeply, our experience in the next life will be endless intense joy. If we reject God in this life—or simply ignore him—our experience of his love will be alien to us and felt as suffering. He pours out the same love on everyone. Some want it, some don’t.

This is why doctrine matters. This is why heresy is so very dangerous. All of our doctrine is oriented toward an intimate knowledge of God, because the character of our knowledge of him will determine our eternal vector, our perpetual experience in the life to come. This knowledge depends on our adherence to living out correct doctrine in our daily lives.

Let us say I was a practicing homosexual. This is not true, but because some people believe it, it affects their relationship with me. Because I am a priest, it may even affect relationships between members of my parish community. My relationships with many people would break down. Some people may even approve of this and try to get closer to me, but those relationships would also be based on a distorted reality. Those outside our parish may hear the rumor and never visit or consider joining. Those closest to me—my wife and family—will have their lives badly disrupted if they believe the rumor. It will destroy my family life, which would reverberate across our extended family, friends, the parish unity, and so on—all because of a false belief about who I am.

Perhaps the rumor is not so serious. Let us say it was believed I had a drinking problem. The effects of that rumor would likely be just as serious, though nowhere near as explosive. In any case, all of those relationships are affected, not merely by the moral actions of those involved—that is, whether they have done good or evil to each other—but by what they believed about each other and how they act on those beliefs.

Magnify all of those effects by the worship and the knowledge of the very God of the universe. Some false doctrines about him can cause unimaginable spiritual destruction. Others are of lesser effect. But all of them, to one degree or another, take us away from a true, pure knowledge of the only true God. That will affect how and whether we receive his glory, and how we experience him in the next life.

Living a moral life according to the law of God is indeed critical for life in Christ, but it is not enough. Religion is not just ethics. We must know God for who he truly is. This is why doctrine matters.
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2010, 05:51:37 PM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2010, 09:37:09 PM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2010, 09:39:50 PM »

I like this from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's podcast "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" on AFR. I believe this is from the first episode. It's long but worthwhile, and helped me come to terms with the same kinds of questions.

...
Do you have a link to this podcast? If so, could you please post it to this thread or PM it to me within the next 72 hours so I can append it to your post? Thank you.

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Gamliel
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« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2010, 09:43:54 PM »

Lately I have started to question the value of correct doctrine. What is it's real use to us? Is it merely something to hang our hats on, or to boast about to others, or does it have some real spiritual benefit/advantage for us in comparison to heterdox beliefs? 

For example, of what value is it to have knowledge of the single procession of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the filioque)? If God revealed this to the Church, surely there must be a good reason for it, other than to be used as a wedge to drive separatation between east and west. How does having this knowledge enhance our relationship with God? Perhaps we can discuss some other examples later, but i'd like to start with this one.


It's good to have solid doctrine, but it takes some wisdom to know when to use it.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2010, 09:52:32 PM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

I'm sure others here can expound upon this connection between proper theology and proper soteriology more articulately than I can, but I offer this as a way of spurring this thread's participants to the deeper discussion I think this subject needs.
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« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2010, 10:08:15 PM »

I like this from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's podcast "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" on AFR. I believe this is from the first episode. It's long but worthwhile, and helped me come to terms with the same kinds of questions.

...
Do you have a link to this podcast? If so, could you please post it to this thread or PM it to me within the next 72 hours so I can append it to your post? Thank you.

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Yes, sorry: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/orthodoxyheterodoxy/understanding_the_terms
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2010, 10:09:26 PM »

I like this from Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick's podcast "Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy" on AFR. I believe this is from the first episode. It's long but worthwhile, and helped me come to terms with the same kinds of questions.

...
Do you have a link to this podcast? If so, could you please post it to this thread or PM it to me within the next 72 hours so I can append it to your post? Thank you.

- PeterTheAleut
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Yes, sorry: http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/orthodoxyheterodoxy/understanding_the_terms
Thank you. Smiley
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2010, 10:11:37 PM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2010, 10:13:41 PM »

Lately I have started to question the value of correct doctrine. What is it's real use to us? Is it merely something to hang our hats on, or to boast about to others, or does it have some real spiritual benefit/advantage for us in comparison to heterdox beliefs? 

For example, of what value is it to have knowledge of the single procession of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the filioque)? If God revealed this to the Church, surely there must be a good reason for it, other than to be used as a wedge to drive separatation between east and west. How does having this knowledge enhance our relationship with God? Perhaps we can discuss some other examples later, but i'd like to start with this one.


It's good to have solid doctrine, but it takes some wisdom to know when to use it.

What do you mean by "use it" and for what purpose?
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2010, 11:36:30 PM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.
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Ortho_cat
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« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2010, 12:07:14 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?
« Last Edit: November 08, 2010, 12:10:17 AM by Ortho_cat » Logged
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« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2010, 12:12:33 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?

If you had an experience of god, wouldn't it be insane not to tell people who could be helped by what you learned?
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« Reply #14 on: November 08, 2010, 12:49:37 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?

If you had an experience of god, wouldn't it be insane not to tell people who could be helped by what you learned?

I would tell them, but I wouldn't expect people to believe me because I told them about it, nor would I be able to prove it to them if I wanted to.
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« Reply #15 on: November 08, 2010, 12:50:09 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?
Only partially. IMO, if it can ONLY be the matter of personal experience, then it cannot be truth. Truth is ultimately a Person, the Incarnate God-Man Jesus Christ.
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« Reply #16 on: November 08, 2010, 01:25:44 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?

If you had an experience of god, wouldn't it be insane not to tell people who could be helped by what you learned?

I would tell them, but I wouldn't expect people to believe me because I told them about it, nor would I be able to prove it to them if I wanted to.

You could trust God to move people to believe you, though.
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« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2010, 03:44:42 AM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?
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« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2010, 04:13:26 AM »

Lately I have started to question the value of correct doctrine. What is it's real use to us? Is it merely something to hang our hats on, or to boast about to others, or does it have some real spiritual benefit/advantage for us in comparison to heterdox beliefs? 

For example, of what value is it to have knowledge of the single procession of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the filioque)? If God revealed this to the Church, surely there must be a good reason for it, other than to be used as a wedge to drive separatation between east and west. How does having this knowledge enhance our relationship with God? Perhaps we can discuss some other examples later, but i'd like to start with this one.



What is deferent make to take correct medicine?
Filioque – is minor issue.

Big issue ascetical and anthropological perception.
Religion is about find way to the God.

For errors you would pay with you life.
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« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2010, 04:27:27 AM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?
I think very necessary and very possible. How is this understanding of theology so hard to grasp?
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« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2010, 05:09:29 AM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?
I think very necessary and very possible. How is this understanding of theology so hard to grasp?

If it is so necessary and possible then why is it not taught more, if not to all Christians then at least to the Orthodox ones?
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« Reply #21 on: November 08, 2010, 07:12:26 AM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?
I think very necessary and very possible.

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.
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« Reply #22 on: November 08, 2010, 07:34:32 AM »



If it is so necessary and possible then why is it not taught more, if not to all Christians then at least to the Orthodox ones?

Orthodoh are only christians but not all of us.

There is such thing as self education, gospel, psalms, holy fathers, life’s, service pray.

God give to every one as much each man can take by "age in Christ".
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« Reply #23 on: November 08, 2010, 07:45:35 AM »

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.

It's like medicine. Wheter we like it or not, whether we are intelligent enough to be doctors or not, the issue is complex and yes, subtle differences that only the best medical scientists can understand do matter and are a life or death issue.

Normal people *do* need to have a basic understanding of some medical procedures if we want to live, and the more you know the better.

But then again, not everyone can or wants to be a doctor, much less a medical scientist. That is why there is always a point where we have to "blindly" trust our doctor, not in the sense that if he tells me to eat fried rat I'd do it, but in the sense that if he prescribes a certain medicine, I'd better take it. I may even look for a second opinion, but because the average doctor knows more than me, at some point I'll have to trust at least one doctor. If the case is of surgery, specially a more delicate one, my trust has to be even bigger. They will open me up, cut and mend my internal organs, close me again and, hopefully, I'll come out healed from whatever the problem was. It's no small amount of faith there.

It's the same with the Church. Deacons are like nurses, priests are doctors, bishops are head-doctors of the hospital, and monks are the medical scientists who do "research" to improve the practice of the doctors. The reasons we have to trust (or, on occasion, to not trust certain individuals) them are exactly the same we have to trust any professional from a certain area we don't fully understand.

Doctrine *is* important and no, not everybody can understand it very clearly. That's why we have to trust the specialists. Nothing new there, it's just how we live our lives in everything else.

Churches that have "simplified" doctrines that "anyone can understand" are no different from someone claiming to have a medicine that anyone can understand. Why should we bother about arcane quantic sub-atomic formulas to measure exposure to X-rays and its relations with the molecular biochemistry of our cells? After all, not even the scientists and doctors quite agree about it, and theories are changing all the time, isn't it? Probably all those labs, all those articles and hermetic tables are just intellectual vanity of people talking about things that don't influence our every day life. How can quantic physic-chemistry change how I feel about my family? It's much better to have a magical (infallible?) panacea that goes round all these complex problems. Usually, it has some measure of efficacy for minor problems, maybe it's very efficient about one or two major problems, but most of it is just wishful thinking, quack medicine and outright demagogy that plays with people's vanity and pride, making them think they are at the same level as a doctor or medical scientist, without the years of study and dedication or that there are no such a situation where they can't understand and have to deal with both our eventual ignorance of what is knowable and with that which is unknowable.
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« Reply #24 on: November 08, 2010, 08:47:10 AM »

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.

It's the same with the Church. Deacons are like nurses, priests are doctors, bishops are head-doctors of the hospital, and monks are the medical scientists who do "research" to improve the practice of the doctors.

There is only one Doctor – God.

Rest of us patients, including priests and bishops.
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« Reply #25 on: November 08, 2010, 09:00:46 AM »

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.

It's the same with the Church. Deacons are like nurses, priests are doctors, bishops are head-doctors of the hospital, and monks are the medical scientists who do "research" to improve the practice of the doctors.

There is only one Doctor – God.

Rest of us patients, including priests and bishops.


Only one is Holy too, and yet we call a lot of people "saints" which is the same word.

By the way, technically speaking, only one is alive in the full sense of the word, and yet you call yourself "Alive", despite the fact that when compared to God you are only dead dust.

So please, don't push it.
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« Reply #26 on: November 08, 2010, 09:37:11 AM »

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.

It's the same with the Church. Deacons are like nurses, priests are doctors, bishops are head-doctors of the hospital, and monks are the medical scientists who do "research" to improve the practice of the doctors.


There is only one Doctor – God.

Rest of us patients, including priests and bishops.


Only one is Holy too, and yet we call a lot of people "saints" which is the same word.

By the way, technically speaking, only one is alive in the full sense of the word, and yet you call yourself "Alive", despite the fact that when compared to God you are only dead dust.

So please, don't push it.


Technically speaking we were granted everlasting life, and God is God of living not dead.
Sure ,no doubt , technically , my body is dust, but rest would live no matter of my will nor your.
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« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2010, 11:36:42 AM »

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.

It's the same with the Church. Deacons are like nurses, priests are doctors, bishops are head-doctors of the hospital, and monks are the medical scientists who do "research" to improve the practice of the doctors.

There is only one Doctor – God.

Rest of us patients, including priests and bishops.


Only one is Holy too, and yet we call a lot of people "saints" which is the same word.

By the way, technically speaking, only one is alive in the full sense of the word, and yet you call yourself "Alive", despite the fact that when compared to God you are only dead dust.

So please, don't push it.

Technically speaking, if we were to use the apophatic approach, it wouldn't be proper to call God "alive" because such terminology carries with it imperfect human connotations.... Wink
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« Reply #28 on: November 08, 2010, 11:42:45 AM »

I guess one point that I'd like to address here, if I can use the doctor analogy, is that many people go to different spiritual doctors who have them prescibed different things, and seem to be quite happy with the results.

Here the doctors are different pastors of different Christian denominations who preach and teach all sorts of fanciful doctrine. Yet, the faithful boast great spiritual progress. Perhaps their doctrine is as crooked as a dog's hind leg, but their spiritual lives seem to be fulfilled, and they think they are following Christ. Could/would God penalize such a person for worshipping him to the best of their abilities? If not, is correct doctrine only important once you have been exposed to such?
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« Reply #29 on: November 08, 2010, 11:44:43 AM »

Quote
All religions are basically the same.

What matters is living a good life.

We all worship the same God.

Religion is a private matter.

Don’t impose your beliefs on others.

No religion has everything right.

We’ll find out what’s true when we get to heaven.

These kinds of statements have one common assumption behind them: that beliefs about God and the ultimate nature of reality are not very important. That is why they should not be discussed publicly. That is why their details do not really matter. That is why we should not try to win people over to our faith. There is no such thing as truth. Everything is relative—except, perhaps, that everything is relative.

I would say that these types of discussions aren't often had because spiritual truth is objectively unknowable, IMO.
What do you mean?

I was referring to the bolded text above, where it implied that matters of spiritual truth are not often discussed.
I could read that much. Wink I wonder what you mean by your statement that spiritual truth is objectively unknowable.

Fair enough. Basically what I meant was that spiritual truth cannot be discerned by argument or proven objectively, it must be experienced. Do you agree?
Only partially. IMO, if it can ONLY be the matter of personal experience, then it cannot be truth. Truth is ultimately a Person, the Incarnate God-Man Jesus Christ.

Yes, perhaps this is the case, but is it possible to objectively 'know' this truth; that is to investigate it and to prove it outside of personal experience?
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« Reply #30 on: November 08, 2010, 12:21:24 PM »

I guess one point that I'd like to address here, if I can use the doctor analogy, is that many people go to different spiritual doctors who have them prescibed different things, and seem to be quite happy with the results.

Here the doctors are different pastors of different Christian denominations who preach and teach all sorts of fanciful doctrine. Yet, the faithful boast great spiritual progress. Perhaps their doctrine is as crooked as a dog's hind leg, but their spiritual lives seem to be fulfilled, and they think they are following Christ. Could/would God penalize such a person for worshipping him to the best of their abilities? If not, is correct doctrine only important once you have been exposed to such?

Ortho_Cat,

the point that is very difficult to modern minds is that *satisfaction with the results* have *nothing* to do with it. There are a lot of people quite happy with the "results" of many pseudo-medical products being sold around. If the problem they are trying to solve may have lethal consequences, I'm sorry to say that the product, even if inoquous, is killing them by preventing real treatment. They will all die with a smile that they did the best.

Now, the very fact that people couldn't care less about substantial truth and adhere merely to whatever their parents told them, or join whatever makes them feel good is not something worth of reward. Yes, I do understand that many Orthodox are so just because that is what happened to be around them when they were born. But we must remember those fearful words in Revelation:

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Revelation 3:16

All the Orthodox are in the Energy of Salvation right now. But rest assured that all the lukewarm will be put out. That's a prophecy and a promise. Likewise, many who are, today, outside the Energy of Salvation, will enter it in the day of judgment.

You don't have to understand or know the right doctrine. It's like a map. A map that is accurate will guide you to the best path. A map that innacurate or wrong can lead you to death. It's not the map, but the path that leads you to salvation. You have to walk the path, not walk the map. But a bad map can lead people astray from the right path, just like the right map can bring someone back.

The point, really, is that people want to walk this path without the support of people who know better.
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« Reply #31 on: November 08, 2010, 12:43:43 PM »

Lately I have started to question the value of correct doctrine. What is it's real use to us? Is it merely something to hang our hats on, or to boast about to others, or does it have some real spiritual benefit/advantage for us in comparison to heterdox beliefs?
Perhaps this could be answered if we asked this question another way:  What's wrong with believing incorrect doctrines and half-truths?
   
For example, of what value is it to have knowledge of the single procession of the Holy Spirit (as opposed to the filioque)? If God revealed this to the Church, surely there must be a good reason for it, other than to be used as a wedge to drive separatation between east and west. 
Why do you assume God revealed the Filioque?  This is why the value of correct doctrine is so important. 
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« Reply #32 on: November 08, 2010, 01:11:55 PM »

I think that the question that is the "spirit" of the discussion is "how can we know which of the competing doctrines is the correct one, if God's reality is intrinsically beyond  human reasoning?" which is a very good one, since, humanly, we learn dialectly by comparisons and since we cannot compare anything related to God, reason cannot attain the last level of organization of discourse which is logic.

We do have a criteria. The true church is: one, catholic, apostolic and holy. And this all is well inside human capacity of analysis.
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« Reply #33 on: November 08, 2010, 01:24:48 PM »

I guess it leaves us as individuals no excuses to not realize the salvation given by Jesus Christ and realize that though others may not have thorough doctrine their situation can still be most hopeful. It is our duty to at least pray for them & by doing so we fulfill hope in our own salvation.
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« Reply #34 on: November 08, 2010, 02:14:43 PM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?

And how often does the layman who has this knowledge use it in an attempt to drive division and assert their superiority? This to mean is a very real danger when anyone claims to have "true" or "correct" doctrine.
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« Reply #35 on: November 08, 2010, 02:47:55 PM »

When an Orthodox Christian with humility holds to the Orthodox faith, even if he is not knowledgeable in its particulars, but submits his own ideas and understandings to that which is given him by the Church, then the value of the right belief possessed and professed by the Church and claimed by him leads to the salvation of his soul. Right belief is salvation.
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« Reply #36 on: November 08, 2010, 02:58:17 PM »

When an Orthodox Christian with humility holds to the Orthodox faith, even if he is not knowledgeable in its particulars, but submits his own ideas and understandings to that which is given him by the Church, then the value of the right belief possessed and professed by the Church and claimed by him leads to the salvation of his soul. Right belief is salvation.

Very clear and helpful.
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« Reply #37 on: November 08, 2010, 04:40:07 PM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?
I think very necessary and very possible.

The question is how much. I agree that we all should know the basics but I'd like to believe that in order to be Orthodox one doesn't need  to become an armchair theologian with encyclopedic knowledge of canons, councils, Fathers (and Mothers!) and doctrines. In a way I admire the Lutheran approach to issue. They have rather short Luther's catechism to teach the basics to simple-minded folks and then the Book of Concord for more detailed expression of Lutheran doctrine.
I thought that was the approach I tried to take here: express the truths of Orthodox doctrine in words that even a sixth grader with a rudimentary understanding of theology could understand.
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« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2010, 05:22:15 PM »

IIRC, something that came out in the great Christological controversies of the ecumenical councils is the belief that our understanding of how we are saved is intrinsically connected to how we understand God. If we do not correctly understand God as He has revealed Himself to us, then we cannot understand correctly how we relate to Him and Him to us.

For instance,
  • The Condemnation of Arianism - God alone can save; if Jesus Christ is not God, then He cannot save us.
  • The Relation between Deity and Humanity in the Person of Christ - God can save only that which He becomes; if God did not become fully one of us, then He cannot save us.

But how much an ordinary layman needs to understand these kind of things?

And how often does the layman who has this knowledge use it in an attempt to drive division and assert their superiority? This to mean is a very real danger when anyone claims to have "true" or "correct" doctrine.
This is a concept which appers in several threads without an answer yet. When is "correcting" your brother beneficial and when is it divisive? Is it better sometimes to ignore the splinter in our brother's eye?

I have found myself more on the side of tolerance and acceptance of faults rather than a strict application of "correct" doctrine especially as it applies to laymen. However, I have much less tolerance for those who after many years of study and ordination to the clergy still commit basic errors and sustain them as example to others thus corrupting our youth.
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« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2010, 05:25:00 PM »

Is it better to possess correct doctrine or to teach correct doctrine?
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« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2010, 06:06:04 PM »

Mark 16:15-18
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.  And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;  they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”

To teach is greater and there shall be signs indicating whether or not it is "correct". Unfortunately, many teach falsehoods.

2 Peter 2:1
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

Therefore, shouldn't we let those who wish to teach show the fruits of the Holy Spirit before we take them in our confidence?
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« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2010, 07:41:29 PM »


This is a concept which appers in several threads without an answer yet. When is "correcting" your brother beneficial and when is it divisive? Is it better sometimes to ignore the splinter in our brother's eye?

I have found myself more on the side of tolerance and acceptance of faults rather than a strict application of "correct" doctrine especially as it applies to laymen. However, I have much less tolerance for those who after many years of study and ordination to the clergy still commit basic errors and sustain them as example to others thus corrupting our youth.

Do not mix personal deeds with reality perception. (Mat 23).

If you see “milk” sticker on bottle with “poison” , you would not correct it?

We need tolerate only in case to not throw pearl to pigs.
And do not mix personal sin and deeds with world perception.

If blind man cant shoot target 10 of 10 we tolerate it, but if he presenting and promoting pistol as not pistol and target as not target it is stupid to agree with.
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« Reply #42 on: November 08, 2010, 07:47:38 PM »

Is it better to possess correct doctrine or to teach correct doctrine?

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do(possess) and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.


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Dart
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« Reply #43 on: November 08, 2010, 07:54:06 PM »


This is a concept which appers in several threads without an answer yet. When is "correcting" your brother beneficial and when is it divisive? Is it better sometimes to ignore the splinter in our brother's eye?

I have found myself more on the side of tolerance and acceptance of faults rather than a strict application of "correct" doctrine especially as it applies to laymen. However, I have much less tolerance for those who after many years of study and ordination to the clergy still commit basic errors and sustain them as example to others thus corrupting our youth.

Do not mix personal deeds with reality perception. (Mat 23).

If you see “milk” sticker on bottle with “poison” , you would not correct it?

We need tolerate only in case to not throw pearl to pigs.
And do not mix personal sin and deeds with world perception.

If blind man cant shoot target 10 of 10 we tolerate it, but if he presenting and promoting pistol as not pistol and target as not target it is stupid to agree with.


Thank you for restating my position. Hopefully this has made it more clear for others to comment on.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #44 on: November 08, 2010, 07:58:15 PM »

Is it better to possess correct doctrine or to teach correct doctrine?

19Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do(possess) and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
How does do = possess?

How does this answer my question?
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