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UniversalistGuy
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« on: February 03, 2011, 11:47:09 AM »

Hi,

I've come to check into Orthodoxy.  I've been making inquiries on a Roman Catholic forum and picked up some things from Orthodox posters that made me think that Orthodoxy might be where I ought to be.  I'm not sure where I am just now.  I believe in God but I'm struggling with what He's like.  I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.  I bring with me anti-Evangelical thoughts, particularly toward Calvinism, and after being on that Catholic forum I think I've developed some anti-Catholic thoughts as well, particularly toward the indulgences, clerical celibacy, purgatory and papal infallibility but not necessarily in that order.  An Orthodox poster on the Catholic forum was talking about the "Orthodox mindset" and posted a statement that I very much liked.  Here's the statement and I would like to know if it's about right.

"The Orthodox mindset toward doctrine tends to be more live and let live. Get the basics, don't go in certain directions, but believe what you want on the points that don't matter as long as you don't stray into areas that do. We'll still teach you what has been revealed but won't push it if it doesn't affect salvation."

Thank you.

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« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2011, 12:06:08 PM »

Welcome to the forum.  Smiley
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« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2011, 12:24:27 PM »

Hi,

I've come to check into Orthodoxy.  I've been making inquiries on a Roman Catholic forum and picked up some things from Orthodox posters that made me think that Orthodoxy might be where I ought to be.  I'm not sure where I am just now.  I believe in God but I'm struggling with what He's like.  I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.  I bring with me anti-Evangelical thoughts, particularly toward Calvinism, and after being on that Catholic forum I think I've developed some anti-Catholic thoughts as well, particularly toward the indulgences, clerical celibacy, purgatory and papal infallibility but not necessarily in that order.  An Orthodox poster on the Catholic forum was talking about the "Orthodox mindset" and posted a statement that I very much liked.  Here's the statement and I would like to know if it's about right.

"The Orthodox mindset toward doctrine tends to be more live and let live. Get the basics, don't go in certain directions, but believe what you want on the points that don't matter as long as you don't stray into areas that do. We'll still teach you what has been revealed but won't push it if it doesn't affect salvation."

Thank you.




Wow you got here quick!


Although I think I know what he was trying to say I don't think that statement gives a very accurate impression. We certainly do have a tendency to not "dogmatize" or overly define (some) things as the Catholic Church does. There is a good bit of leeway in some areas. That being said, simply because something hasn't been formally defined as dogma doesn't mean that it's not taught or that it is really optional. You have to understand, for us the faith is a living experience, not just a set of codified dogmas to give intellectual assent to.

Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers. A good example would be the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. There is no defined dogma of the Assumption as there is in the Catholic Church, but we do indeed believe that she was taken bodily into heaven because the liturgy and the prayers tell us so.

Either way there comes a point where you stop worrying about what is necessary and what's not and just start living the faith as it has been passed on to us. It really becomes pretty much a non-issue.




Oh, and before I forget, welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2011, 12:27:13 PM »

Interesting.

Calvinism is definitely not welcome within Orthodoxy. As His Beatitude Jonah has stated, "Calvinism is a condemned heresy." It doesn't get much clearer than that. Also, I'm a former Calvinist. Wink

You'll find no Orthodox Christian, likewise, who would take issue with your opposition to the list of Roman practices/dogmas you gave (I'll defend the tradition of clerical celibacy to a point, but it's by no means necesssary, and is certainly not a living tradition in Orthodoxy!).

There are also certain people within Orthodoxy who have historically hoped for apocatastasis (universal salvation). Orthodoxy does not, cannot, proclaim it as doctrine, but many are free to hope the mercy of God will extend to all creation and the ultimate redemption of all of humanity will be realized.

The statement you gave is more-or-less accurate. The Church maintains a Sacred Tradition, once delived unto the Apostles. This deposit of faith has continued throughout the Church by the succession of bishops from those Apostles who have maintained the Orthodox faith by the grace of the Holy Spirit, through whom Christ manifests Himself in his Church. Within the Church there are many issues with are defined dogmatically in Creeds and the Sacred Canon of Scripture, and others which have simply always been held as p[art of the faith and never required a dogmatic definition by Creed or Canon that are realized and manifested in the Church through personal piety, writings of the Fathers, liturgy and hymnography. Apart from these are "theologeumenon" or "theological opinions" which do not hinge on salvation and may be held (or not) by Orthodox Christians without consequence. There is no single document within the Church that proclaims the fullness of its teachings (such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

I hope at least some of that was helpful (and none of it heretical!). Welcome to the forum!
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« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2011, 01:13:02 PM »

Welcome, enjoy your time here!  Smiley

If I may add, some of the aspects of the faith that I opposed initially I began to warm up to after time; not because I felt that they must be believed for the sake of it, but because they just started to make sense, to my mind and my heart.
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« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2011, 01:18:24 PM »

Welcome to the forum Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2011, 01:23:03 PM »

Welcome, enjoy your time here!  Smiley

If I may add, some of the aspects of the faith that I opposed initially I began to warm up to after time; not because I felt that they must be believed for the sake of it, but because they just started to make sense, to my mind and my heart.
Ditto on both counts.
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« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2011, 02:15:10 PM »

Welcome to the forum.  Smiley

Thank you much.


Hi,

I've come to check into Orthodoxy.  I've been making inquiries on a Roman Catholic forum and picked up some things from Orthodox posters that made me think that Orthodoxy might be where I ought to be.  I'm not sure where I am just now.  I believe in God but I'm struggling with what He's like.  I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.  I bring with me anti-Evangelical thoughts, particularly toward Calvinism, and after being on that Catholic forum I think I've developed some anti-Catholic thoughts as well, particularly toward the indulgences, clerical celibacy, purgatory and papal infallibility but not necessarily in that order.  An Orthodox poster on the Catholic forum was talking about the "Orthodox mindset" and posted a statement that I very much liked.  Here's the statement and I would like to know if it's about right.

"The Orthodox mindset toward doctrine tends to be more live and let live. Get the basics, don't go in certain directions, but believe what you want on the points that don't matter as long as you don't stray into areas that do. We'll still teach you what has been revealed but won't push it if it doesn't affect salvation."

Thank you.




Wow you got here quick!

Although I think I know what he was trying to say I don't think that statement gives a very accurate impression. We certainly do have a tendency to not "dogmatize" or overly define (some) things as the Catholic Church does. There is a good bit of leeway in some areas. That being said, simply because something hasn't been formally defined as dogma doesn't mean that it's not taught or that it is really optional. You have to understand, for us the faith is a living experience, not just a set of codified dogmas to give intellectual assent to.

The Catholic Church has got this huge catechism.  I bought one.  I guess it inspires Catholics because of all the info in it but all it did for me was to make me depressed.  Rule after rule after rule after rule after rule.  The idea of “live and let live” that I imagined was not to be totally free of rules but not to be obsessed with nailing down every single detail.  That’s what the Pharisees tried to do and the result Jesus said was to shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.


Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers. A good example would be the bodily assumption of Mary into heaven. There is no defined dogma of the Assumption as there is in the Catholic Church, but we do indeed believe that she was taken bodily into heaven because the liturgy and the prayers tell us so.

Either way there comes a point where you stop worrying about what is necessary and what's not and just start living the faith as it has been passed on to us. It really becomes pretty much a non-issue.

Oh, and before I forget, welcome to the forum!

Thank you much for your welcome.  When you write, “Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2011, 02:24:49 PM »

Interesting.

Calvinism is definitely not welcome within Orthodoxy. As His Beatitude Jonah has stated, "Calvinism is a condemned heresy." It doesn't get much clearer than that. Also, I'm a former Calvinist. Wink

You'll find no Orthodox Christian, likewise, who would take issue with your opposition to the list of Roman practices/dogmas you gave (I'll defend the tradition of clerical celibacy to a point, but it's by no means necesssary, and is certainly not a living tradition in Orthodoxy!).

There are also certain people within Orthodoxy who have historically hoped for apocatastasis (universal salvation). Orthodoxy does not, cannot, proclaim it as doctrine, but many are free to hope the mercy of God will extend to all creation and the ultimate redemption of all of humanity will be realized.

The statement you gave is more-or-less accurate. The Church maintains a Sacred Tradition, once delived unto the Apostles. This deposit of faith has continued throughout the Church by the succession of bishops from those Apostles who have maintained the Orthodox faith by the grace of the Holy Spirit, through whom Christ manifests Himself in his Church. Within the Church there are many issues with are defined dogmatically in Creeds and the Sacred Canon of Scripture, and others which have simply always been held as p[art of the faith and never required a dogmatic definition by Creed or Canon that are realized and manifested in the Church through personal piety, writings of the Fathers, liturgy and hymnography. Apart from these are "theologeumenon" or "theological opinions" which do not hinge on salvation and may be held (or not) by Orthodox Christians without consequence. There is no single document within the Church that proclaims the fullness of its teachings (such as the Catechism of the Catholic Church).

I hope at least some of that was helpful (and none of it heretical!). Welcome to the forum!

Thank you much.  That’s great news about the catechism.  I guess I can learn the categories as I go along.  But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2011, 02:26:29 PM »

Welcome, enjoy your time here!  Smiley

If I may add, some of the aspects of the faith that I opposed initially I began to warm up to after time; not because I felt that they must be believed for the sake of it, but because they just started to make sense, to my mind and my heart.

Thank you.
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« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2011, 02:28:00 PM »

Welcome to the forum Smiley

Thanks.
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UniversalistGuy
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« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2011, 02:30:33 PM »

Welcome, enjoy your time here!  Smiley

If I may add, some of the aspects of the faith that I opposed initially I began to warm up to after time; not because I felt that they must be believed for the sake of it, but because they just started to make sense, to my mind and my heart.
Ditto on both counts.

Appreciate the ditto and look forward to maybe a ditto of my own someday.
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2011, 02:38:03 PM »

“Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?


No; the sermon/homily (hopefully!  Cheesy) is spiritually profitable and edifying, but the Divine Liturgy itself and the prayers contained within, plus the life within the parish, describes Orthodox theology.

For instance, one of my favorite prayers is in St Basil's Liturgy. It is my favorite not only for the beauty of the sentiment but also its clarity in discussing the Faith:

Quote
Together with these blessed powers, loving Master we sinners also cry out and say: Truly You are holy and most holy, and there are no bounds to the majesty of Your holiness. You are holy in all Your works, for with righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us.

For having made man by taking dust from the earth, and having honored him with Your own image, O God, You placed him in a garden of delight, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting blessings in the observance of Your commandments. But when he disobeyed You, the true God who had created him, and was led astray by the deception of the serpent becoming subject to death through his own transgressions, You, O God, in Your righteous judgment, expelled him from paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Your Christ.

For You did not forever reject Your creature whom You made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of Your hands, but because of Your tender compassion, You visited him in various ways: You sent forth prophets; You performed mighty works by Your saints who in every generation have pleased You. You spoke to us by the mouth of Your servants the prophets, announcing to us the salvation which was to come; You gave us the law to help us; You appointed angels as guardians. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through Your Son Himself, through whom You created the ages. He, being the splendor of Your glory and the image of Your being, upholding all things by the word of His power, thought it not robbery to be equal with You, God and Father. But, being God before all ages, He appeared on earth and lived with humankind.

Becoming incarnate from a holy Virgin, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, conforming to the body of our lowliness, that He might change us in the likeness of the image of His glory. For, since through man sin came into the world and through sin death, it pleased Your only begotten Son, who is in Your bosom, God and Father, born of a woman, the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary; born under the law, to condemn sin in His flesh, so that those who died in Adam may be brought to life in Him, Your Christ.

He lived in this world, and gave us precepts of salvation. Releasing us from the delusions of idolatry, He guided us to the sure knowledge of You, the true God and Father. He acquired us for Himself, as His chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Having cleansed us by water and sanctified us with the Holy Spirit, He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending into Hades through the cross, that He might fill all things with Himself, He loosed the bonds of death. He rose on the third day, having opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from  the dead, since it was not possible that the Author of life would be dominated by corruption.

So He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first born of the dead, that He might be Himself the first in all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of Your majesty on high and He will come to render to each according to His works.

As memorials of His saving passion, He has left us these gifts which we have set forth before You according to His commands. For when He was about to go forth to His voluntary, ever memorable, and life-giving death, on the night on which He was delivered up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy and pure hands, and presenting it to You, God and Father, and offering thanks, blessing, sanctifying, and breaking it:

Source
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« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2011, 02:42:39 PM »

 But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.
[/quote]

The Church isn't meant to be a political organization. As Orthodox, we pray for those who lead our country and for their well-being. There are no "party requirements", and it sounds like you're pro-life (for the young, for the criminals, for the terrorists Smiley ) approach would fit in well with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy isn't about a set of rules, it's about how you grow closer to God. As long as your political agenda doesn't create barriers between yourself and salvation, there wouldn't be a problem.
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« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2011, 03:41:25 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.
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« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2011, 03:54:29 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

Great answer.  The Orthodox Church in the USA (and by that I don't mean the OCA, but the entirety of the Orthodox Church in this country) seems to me to be mostly apolitical.  Vote or not vote in good conscience.  Just because moral issues have become political does not mean that we need to be politicized by them.
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« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2011, 04:46:07 PM »

Quote
The Catholic Church has got this huge catechism.

You'll be relieved to learn that the Orthodox Church doesn't even have a catechism! Per se, at any rate.

And as far as political beliefs, I have never heard of a priest telling his flock how to vote. We do, however, pray for the unborn, and for our leaders, both national and local.

There is an understanding of hell in Orthodoxy that there is no place where God is not, and that the difference between heaven and hell is how we experience God.
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« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2011, 06:04:59 PM »

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

The Church isn't meant to be a political organization. As Orthodox, we pray for those who lead our country and for their well-being. There are no "party requirements", and it sounds like you're pro-life (for the young, for the criminals, for the terrorists Smiley ) approach would fit in well with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy isn't about a set of rules, it's about how you grow closer to God. As long as your political agenda doesn't create barriers between yourself and salvation, there wouldn't be a problem.

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality.  Thanks for your help.
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« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2011, 06:07:34 PM »

“Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?


No; the sermon/homily (hopefully!  Cheesy) is spiritually profitable and edifying, but the Divine Liturgy itself and the prayers contained within, plus the life within the parish, describes Orthodox theology.

What does “life within the parish” involve?  D’you mean like Sunday school and book studies and such?

For instance, one of my favorite prayers is in St Basil's Liturgy. It is my favorite not only for the beauty of the sentiment but also its clarity in discussing the Faith:

Quote
Together with these blessed powers, loving Master we sinners also cry out and say: Truly You are holy and most holy, and there are no bounds to the majesty of Your holiness. You are holy in all Your works, for with righteousness and true judgment You have ordered all things for us.

For having made man by taking dust from the earth, and having honored him with Your own image, O God, You placed him in a garden of delight, promising him eternal life and the enjoyment of everlasting blessings in the observance of Your commandments. But when he disobeyed You, the true God who had created him, and was led astray by the deception of the serpent becoming subject to death through his own transgressions, You, O God, in Your righteous judgment, expelled him from paradise into this world, returning him to the earth from which he was taken, yet providing for him the salvation of regeneration in Your Christ.

For You did not forever reject Your creature whom You made, O Good One, nor did You forget the work of Your hands, but because of Your tender compassion, You visited him in various ways: You sent forth prophets; You performed mighty works by Your saints who in every generation have pleased You. You spoke to us by the mouth of Your servants the prophets, announcing to us the salvation which was to come; You gave us the law to help us; You appointed angels as guardians. And when the fullness of time had come, You spoke to us through Your Son Himself, through whom You created the ages. He, being the splendor of Your glory and the image of Your being, upholding all things by the word of His power, thought it not robbery to be equal with You, God and Father. But, being God before all ages, He appeared on earth and lived with humankind.

Becoming incarnate from a holy Virgin, He emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, conforming to the body of our lowliness, that He might change us in the likeness of the image of His glory. For, since through man sin came into the world and through sin death, it pleased Your only begotten Son, who is in Your bosom, God and Father, born of a woman, the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary; born under the law, to condemn sin in His flesh, so that those who died in Adam may be brought to life in Him, Your Christ.

He lived in this world, and gave us precepts of salvation. Releasing us from the delusions of idolatry, He guided us to the sure knowledge of You, the true God and Father. He acquired us for Himself, as His chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.

Having cleansed us by water and sanctified us with the Holy Spirit, He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin. Descending into Hades through the cross, that He might fill all things with Himself, He loosed the bonds of death. He rose on the third day, having opened a path for all flesh to the resurrection from  the dead, since it was not possible that the Author of life would be dominated by corruption.

So He became the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep, the first born of the dead, that He might be Himself the first in all things. Ascending into heaven, He sat at the right hand of Your majesty on high and He will come to render to each according to His works.

As memorials of His saving passion, He has left us these gifts which we have set forth before You according to His commands. For when He was about to go forth to His voluntary, ever memorable, and life-giving death, on the night on which He was delivered up for the life of the world, He took bread in His holy and pure hands, and presenting it to You, God and Father, and offering thanks, blessing, sanctifying, and breaking it:

Source

Thank you FrChris.  That’s a prayer and half.  So is that said out loud so that people can hear it?  Also, I noticed nearer to the end the phrase, “He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin.”  That interests me.   There’s a verse in the Bible (Mark 10:45) that I’ve heard arguments about.  I was reminded of it only two days ago when I saw it posted outside a restaurant.  It says the Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.  I’ve heard some say the ransom was to be paid to God the Father and others wonder if the ransom was to be paid to Satan.  But the wording in this prayer is that He gave Himself as ransom for death.  So could I ask how Orthodox answer this question because it isn’t clear from the wording?  I mean, a ransom can’t be paid to death, can it, because death isn’t a person?
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« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2011, 06:12:49 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

I’ll have to google the names but I’m very encouraged by what you wrote.  Thank you for offering your two cents.
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« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2011, 06:13:49 PM »

I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

That seems to me to be pretty standard among both Orthodox and Catholics.
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« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2011, 06:14:59 PM »

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?

Not entirely. An Orthodox Christian can't really believe that abortion as it is usually practiced is acceptable, and cannot aim to politically support it.
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« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2011, 06:19:03 PM »

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

The Church isn't meant to be a political organization. As Orthodox, we pray for those who lead our country and for their well-being. There are no "party requirements", and it sounds like you're pro-life (for the young, for the criminals, for the terrorists Smiley ) approach would fit in well with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy isn't about a set of rules, it's about how you grow closer to God. As long as your political agenda doesn't create barriers between yourself and salvation, there wouldn't be a problem.

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality.  Thanks for your help.

Welcome to the forum. I sympathize very much with your stance here. In Orthodoxy, there are some who try to turn the Church's moral stances into a political ideology. We should not be apathetic about politics, but we should not put so much weight into them that we think there is something salvific in them. I think you might enjoy this final interview with the new Martyr, Fr. Daniel Sysoyev: http://incendiarious.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/the-final-interview-with-father-daniel-sysoyev-hasten-to-heaven/
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« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2011, 06:23:14 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

Great answer.  The Orthodox Church in the USA (and by that I don't mean the OCA, but the entirety of the Orthodox Church in this country) seems to me to be mostly apolitical.  Vote or not vote in good conscience.  Just because moral issues have become political does not mean that we need to be politicized by them.

Right, but when church leaders feel they have to step into the political arena in order to “make things right” it can get confusing for the foot soldiers.  How do you feel about the Right To Life marching that goes on every year?  Marching around in protest is definitely a political maneuver and I understand Metropolitan Jonah makes a point of involving himself in it not as a private individual but in his official capacity.  I don’t know what to make of that.
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« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2011, 06:28:01 PM »

Quote
The Catholic Church has got this huge catechism.

You'll be relieved to learn that the Orthodox Church doesn't even have a catechism! Per se, at any rate.

Yes I am.

And as far as political beliefs, I have never heard of a priest telling his flock how to vote. We do, however, pray for the unborn, and for our leaders, both national and local.

Okay.

There is an understanding of hell in Orthodoxy that there is no place where God is not, and that the difference between heaven and hell is how we experience God.

Thank you.  Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?
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« Reply #25 on: February 03, 2011, 06:36:04 PM »

Personally I am a bit disappointed their isnt more structure in the catechism process. It's very odd, I feel like I'm at a sink or swim. I had a conversation with my priest yesterday and we talked, handed me a prayer book and its like he assumed I knew how to put it into practice! He says he's very patient (about what exactly?) and my baptism to be done at Pentecost. It's strange, but at the same time you have to be the one to put effort into it.
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« Reply #26 on: February 03, 2011, 06:39:58 PM »

Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?

Since even the Holy Scriptures use multiple images to convey the reality, I don't see how it can be a problem. Gehenna (burning trash heap/junk yard), Outer Darkness, forced union with God and a lake of burning fire and sulfur are all used in the Bible to describe Hell.
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« Reply #27 on: February 03, 2011, 07:04:44 PM »



What does “life within the parish” involve?  D’you mean like Sunday school and book studies and such?


Not so much.  Some parishes might have a "Sunday School" after the Liturgy or even a Bible study, but those are more the exception than the rule.  There are the services of the Church: Vespers, Matins, the Hours, and the Liturgy, and there are often various ways to contribute time and effort to the life of the parish (fundraisers, soup kitchens, etc), and then there are the prayers of the Church found in prayer books that form our day-to-day piety and cement our connection to the saints of all ages.  Also, pay attention to the Feasts and fasts (there's always a reason behind them) and the cycle of the Church Year with the companion Scripture readings.
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« Reply #28 on: February 03, 2011, 11:02:06 PM »

“Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?


No; the sermon/homily (hopefully!  Cheesy) is spiritually profitable and edifying, but the Divine Liturgy itself and the prayers contained within, plus the life within the parish, describes Orthodox theology.

What does “life within the parish” involve?  D’you mean like Sunday school and book studies and such?

Other, more worthy posters have answered this question, and they are spot on. Orthodox theology must be expressed in interpersonal relations, among the parishioners as well as among folks who are not blessed to be in the same parish as you. Not just in scholastic arenas such as Sunday school or Bible studies, but also in ways such as lending an ear to someone who wants to talk, visiting the ill, helping those younger than you in giving them life lessons, or having disagreements with others...really, the whole gamut of interactions that should be happening in an extended family (which is what a parish should be).



Thank you FrChris.  That’s a prayer and half.  So is that said out loud so that people can hear it? 


Well, I have always said it out loud. Oftentimes the choir would be singing over the first part of it, but certainly anybody in the parish when I was the celebrant heard at least the last half of the prayer, and anybody serving in the altar with me heard me recite the entire section. However, most liturgy books have this prayer in it and so interested parishioners may follow along.

I also have given sermons directly addressing this prayer. Usually the Third Sunday of the month I declared a Liturgical Sermon Sunday, and so the sermon dealt specifically with why we do or say certain things while we worship. My intent was to help the parishioners understand the meanings behind these actions to help enrich their worship.


Also, I noticed nearer to the end the phrase, “He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin.”  That interests me.   There’s a verse in the Bible (Mark 10:45) that I’ve heard arguments about.  I was reminded of it only two days ago when I saw it posted outside a restaurant.  It says the Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.  I’ve heard some say the ransom was to be paid to God the Father and others wonder if the ransom was to be paid to Satan.  But the wording in this prayer is that He gave Himself as ransom for death.  So could I ask how Orthodox answer this question because it isn’t clear from the wording?  I mean, a ransom can’t be paid to death, can it, because death isn’t a person?


Regarding the ransom, answering these questions may help you understand this:

Why would the Father, who is the author of all life, demand a ransom to be paid in blood and death?

What is the Orthodox understanding of death?

Why would the Son need to enter death to redeem mankind?
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« Reply #29 on: February 03, 2011, 11:59:04 PM »

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum!

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« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2011, 12:22:39 AM »

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality. 
I like the way you think! Welcome!
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« Reply #31 on: February 04, 2011, 01:27:53 AM »

Welcome to the forum  Grin !
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« Reply #32 on: February 04, 2011, 01:30:38 AM »

I’m a leftie, you see,

Fwiw, I'm fairly liberal, and they haven't burnt me at the stake. Yet.  Grin
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« Reply #33 on: February 04, 2011, 10:25:12 AM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

Great answer.  The Orthodox Church in the USA (and by that I don't mean the OCA, but the entirety of the Orthodox Church in this country) seems to me to be mostly apolitical.  Vote or not vote in good conscience.  Just because moral issues have become political does not mean that we need to be politicized by them.

Right, but when church leaders feel they have to step into the political arena in order to “make things right” it can get confusing for the foot soldiers.  How do you feel about the Right To Life marching that goes on every year?  Marching around in protest is definitely a political maneuver and I understand Metropolitan Jonah makes a point of involving himself in it not as a private individual but in his official capacity.  I don’t know what to make of that.

It can and does get confusing. Right To Life is a political movement, and is definitely not Orthodox. However, both the Church and Right To Life see abortion as an unacceptable practice. Why not work towards common goals, such as ceasing the genocide of innocent children? It doesn't mean we have to be lock-step with them and their members on every issue. I'm certainly not. By His Beatitude representing the Church at their March for Life, he is saying the Orthodox Church categorically denies abortion as a standard, causal practice. That doesn't mean we accept their whole political agenda carte blache, nor should we. It is unfortunate that abortion has become a political issue, as it never has been for the Church, but rather it has always been a matter of our faith to uphold the sanctity of human life, the gift of Creation, given by our Lord. This affirmation existed long before Republicans and Democrats, before the founding of the United States and before the rise of Europe itself, as we know it today.

When we march with them, we show that we support that cause, not because we are part of them, but because it is a matter of our ancient faith.
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« Reply #34 on: February 04, 2011, 10:25:50 AM »

Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?


Maybe this will help:
http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html
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« Reply #35 on: February 04, 2011, 03:36:29 PM »

There is an understanding of hell in Orthodoxy that there is no place where God is not, and that the difference between heaven and hell is how we experience God.

Thank you.  Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?

I think you naturally will tend toward this just by using the prayers of the Church.  The Trisagion Prayers, for example, include this:

"O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls O Gracious Lord."

I think it's pretty hard to pray that prayer ever day and at ever service and not believe God is, in fact, everywhere present and filling all things.
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« Reply #36 on: February 05, 2011, 12:27:20 PM »

I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

That seems to me to be pretty standard among both Orthodox and Catholics.

Okay thanks.

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?

Not entirely. An Orthodox Christian can't really believe that abortion as it is usually practiced is acceptable, and cannot aim to politically support it.

Indeed.  But in the political sphere it’s impossible to address abortion in isolation.  Haven’t you come across political religionists that put abortion and “same–sex marriage” at the top of their agendas and adopt a moral stance about them and then if you inquire further you discover that lower down on their agendas they’ve smuggled in other issues that you might not agree with?  I’m uncomfortable with this kind of thing.  Is it that hard to argue on the basis of pragmatism or maintaining the status quo and cover your line with a thin veneer of religiosity so as to make the whole package acceptable to church–minded people?  So in the end the choice is either the “lesser of two evils” or the “greater good” both of which I think necessarily have to be personal decisions.  Don’t you agree?
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« Reply #37 on: February 05, 2011, 12:36:12 PM »

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

The Church isn't meant to be a political organization. As Orthodox, we pray for those who lead our country and for their well-being. There are no "party requirements", and it sounds like you're pro-life (for the young, for the criminals, for the terrorists Smiley ) approach would fit in well with Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy isn't about a set of rules, it's about how you grow closer to God. As long as your political agenda doesn't create barriers between yourself and salvation, there wouldn't be a problem.

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality.  Thanks for your help.

Welcome to the forum. I sympathize very much with your stance here. In Orthodoxy, there are some who try to turn the Church's moral stances into a political ideology. We should not be apathetic about politics, but we should not put so much weight into them that we think there is something salvific in them. I think you might enjoy this final interview with the new Martyr, Fr. Daniel Sysoyev: http://incendiarious.wordpress.com/2009/11/28/the-final-interview-with-father-daniel-sysoyev-hasten-to-heaven/

Yes, I loved it.  Thank you.  Have you links to any more pieces like that?
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« Reply #38 on: February 05, 2011, 12:38:59 PM »

Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?

Since even the Holy Scriptures use multiple images to convey the reality, I don't see how it can be a problem. Gehenna (burning trash heap/junk yard), Outer Darkness, forced union with God and a lake of burning fire and sulfur are all used in the Bible to describe Hell.

Thank you.
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« Reply #39 on: February 05, 2011, 12:44:41 PM »

I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

That seems to me to be pretty standard among both Orthodox and Catholics.

Okay thanks.

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?

Not entirely. An Orthodox Christian can't really believe that abortion as it is usually practiced is acceptable, and cannot aim to politically support it.

Indeed.  But in the political sphere it’s impossible to address abortion in isolation.  Haven’t you come across political religionists that put abortion and “same–sex marriage” at the top of their agendas and adopt a moral stance about them and then if you inquire further you discover that lower down on their agendas they’ve smuggled in other issues that you might not agree with?  I’m uncomfortable with this kind of thing.  Is it that hard to argue on the basis of pragmatism or maintaining the status quo and cover your line with a thin veneer of religiosity so as to make the whole package acceptable to church–minded people?  So in the end the choice is either the “lesser of two evils” or the “greater good” both of which I think necessarily have to be personal decisions.  Don’t you agree?


Absolutely. And often times, I do think it's a lesser of two evils. I hardly ever find a candidate that I can agree with in all of my "important" issues.

There was actually an article written some time ago by an Orthodox priest who supporting voting for Obama, not to ignore his pro-choice stance, but that the ideas he wanted to implement would help our society grow and prosper, and therefore have less abortions that would otherwise be done due to the mother's inability to financially support the child. I don't have a link to that, or even remember the name of the priest. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please post it. Tongue

Anyway, my point is that Orthodox Christians may vote how they wish, even clergy. However, they cannot necessarily hold to certain "political" agendas. As deusveritasest was trying to say, I think, is that a good Orthodox Christian cannot possibly support a pro-choice agenda, even if they vote for a pro-choice candidate (see example above). And as I said, that is because the Church has held an ancient religious conviction about abortion, and it is not a political issue for her, it is a matter of faith.
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« Reply #40 on: February 05, 2011, 12:58:06 PM »

I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

That seems to me to be pretty standard among both Orthodox and Catholics.

Okay thanks.

But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?

Not entirely. An Orthodox Christian can't really believe that abortion as it is usually practiced is acceptable, and cannot aim to politically support it.

Indeed.  But in the political sphere it’s impossible to address abortion in isolation.  Haven’t you come across political religionists that put abortion and “same–sex marriage” at the top of their agendas and adopt a moral stance about them and then if you inquire further you discover that lower down on their agendas they’ve smuggled in other issues that you might not agree with?  I’m uncomfortable with this kind of thing.  Is it that hard to argue on the basis of pragmatism or maintaining the status quo and cover your line with a thin veneer of religiosity so as to make the whole package acceptable to church–minded people?  So in the end the choice is either the “lesser of two evils” or the “greater good” both of which I think necessarily have to be personal decisions.  Don’t you agree?


Absolutely. And often times, I do think it's a lesser of two evils. I hardly ever find a candidate that I can agree with in all of my "important" issues.

There was actually an article written some time ago by an Orthodox priest who supporting voting for Obama, not to ignore his pro-choice stance, but that the ideas he wanted to implement would help our society grow and prosper, and therefore have less abortions that would otherwise be done due to the mother's inability to financially support the child. I don't have a link to that, or even remember the name of the priest. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please post it. Tongue

Anyway, my point is that Orthodox Christians may vote how they wish, even clergy. However, they cannot necessarily hold to certain "political" agendas. As deusveritasest was trying to say, I think, is that a good Orthodox Christian cannot possibly support a pro-choice agenda, even if they vote for a pro-choice candidate (see example above). And as I said, that is because the Church has held an ancient religious conviction about abortion, and it is not a political issue for her, it is a matter of faith.

Okay you’ve done a lot of work for me so thanks.  I’ll certainly read the article if somebody knows where it is but I already sense that my current way of thinking aligns with the Orthodox way no problemo.  It’s encouraging.
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« Reply #41 on: February 05, 2011, 01:01:02 PM »



What does “life within the parish” involve?  D’you mean like Sunday school and book studies and such?


Not so much.  Some parishes might have a "Sunday School" after the Liturgy or even a Bible study, but those are more the exception than the rule.  There are the services of the Church: Vespers, Matins, the Hours, and the Liturgy, and there are often various ways to contribute time and effort to the life of the parish (fundraisers, soup kitchens, etc), and then there are the prayers of the Church found in prayer books that form our day-to-day piety and cement our connection to the saints of all ages.  Also, pay attention to the Feasts and fasts (there's always a reason behind them) and the cycle of the Church Year with the companion Scripture readings.

Thank you I’ve made a note.
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« Reply #42 on: February 05, 2011, 01:07:11 PM »


Also, I noticed nearer to the end the phrase, “He gave Himself as ransom to death in which we were held captive, sold under sin.”  That interests me.   There’s a verse in the Bible (Mark 10:45) that I’ve heard arguments about.  I was reminded of it only two days ago when I saw it posted outside a restaurant.  It says the Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many.  I’ve heard some say the ransom was to be paid to God the Father and others wonder if the ransom was to be paid to Satan.  But the wording in this prayer is that He gave Himself as ransom for death.  So could I ask how Orthodox answer this question because it isn’t clear from the wording?  I mean, a ransom can’t be paid to death, can it, because death isn’t a person?


Regarding the ransom, answering these questions may help you understand this:

Why would the Father, who is the author of all life, demand a ransom to be paid in blood and death?

What is the Orthodox understanding of death?

Why would the Son need to enter death to redeem mankind?

Father, these questions go to the core of all my struggles, difficulties and doubts and I’ll have to spend some time thinking about them.
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« Reply #43 on: February 05, 2011, 01:09:10 PM »

Welcome to the Convert Issues Forum!

Thomas
Convert Issues Forum Moderator

Thank you.
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« Reply #44 on: February 05, 2011, 01:33:34 PM »

Personally I am a bit disappointed their isnt more structure in the catechism process. It's very odd, I feel like I'm at a sink or swim. I had a conversation with my priest yesterday and we talked, handed me a prayer book and its like he assumed I knew how to put it into practice! He says he's very patient (about what exactly?) and my baptism to be done at Pentecost. It's strange, but at the same time you have to be the one to put effort into it.

I sympathize.  If any of this stuff was easy we'd probably all be moaning that it didn't stretch us enough or that it wasn't challenging enough.  I encourage you to keep at it.  Why don't you buy your priest a present and let him know how much you appreciate him?  Hebrews 3:13 (NIV):

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.

Can't argue with that, can you?  At the very least it can be interpreted to mean don't take others for granted.  Priests and pastors have bad days just like everybody else, you know.  Try not to feel dismal and depressed.  It's bad for your soul.  Be an encourager.  What a wonderful world it would be if we all were.
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« Reply #45 on: February 05, 2011, 01:40:02 PM »

Yep, you’re right I’m pro-human life without exception or qualification but I don’t have a political agenda.  I just have opinions.  What I object to is the political opinions of others being turned into an organized agenda and pushed onto me under the guise of some kind of spirituality. 
I like the way you think! Welcome!

Thank you for your encouragement.  If you approve of the way I think you must be extremely shrewd. Wink
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« Reply #46 on: February 05, 2011, 01:41:22 PM »

Welcome to the forum  Grin !

Thank you much.
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« Reply #47 on: February 05, 2011, 01:43:40 PM »

I’m a leftie, you see,

Fwiw, I'm fairly liberal, and they haven't burnt me at the stake. Yet.  Grin

That's good news. Wink
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« Reply #48 on: February 05, 2011, 01:53:18 PM »

Even though people have already addressed these, I like hearing myself talk (or read myself write...? Anyway...) I'll offer my two cents. Tongue

Quote
Large amounts of Orthodox theology/belief is passed on primarily through the experience of the liturgy and the prayers” what exactly do you mean?  Do you mean like in the homily/sermon?

As was said, no. Actually, I do good to remember a sermon/homily from Sunday to Sunday. That's not good, I should, but it's not the main focus of the service, it is the Eucharist that is primary, and the liturgy in which it is accomplished. In the Liturgy, you find gems of theological depth such as the Justinian hymn:

Only Begotten Son and Immortal Word of God,
Who for our salvation didst will to be incarnate of the holy Theotokos and ever virgin Mary,
Who without change didst become man and wast crucified, O Christ our God,
Trampling down death by death, Who art one of the Holy Trinity,
Glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit, save us.


Quote
But I’d like to ask if Orthodox Christians can vote/believe as they please?  I’m a leftie, you see, and I don’t really fit in with the Evangelicals or the Catholics because although I’m against abortion, I’m also against capital punishment, I’m anti–war, I think some socialist ideas are okay, and I don’t malign the president.

As was stated, The Orthodox Church isn't a political entity. You may vote how you wish. In the Southern US, you'll find many Orthodox are right-leaning (former evangelical converts, usually) but that's not so true in the North and Mid-West, or out in California (San Francisco has a sizeable Orthodox community, and is were the relics of St. John the Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco reside).

Orthodoxy is open to those of any political leaning (I lean left myself, and would probably agree with all you said), but does not compromise on pro-life ethics, from conception until natural death. The Church opposes abortion, capital punishment, assisted suicide, etc. Even the Didache (ancient, possibly apostolic document of faith) has provisions against abortion. This is a shared opinion of the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Orthodox Church in America has consistantly held an anti-war opinion concerning the war in Iraq (IIRC, there were quite a few seminarians from St. Tikhon's that participated in anti-war rallies). The church is not dogmatically pacificistic, and has solemnly condoned war when all other options are exhausted in the past, but it is always with a heavy heart. "Just war theory" is not an Orthodox understanding. No war is just, but sometimes there is nothing else to be done in our fallen world. Historically, soliders who had killed in battle refrained from the Eucharist for three years (the penance for murder) to recognize the sinful nature of war.

EDIT: Grammar.

Great answer.  The Orthodox Church in the USA (and by that I don't mean the OCA, but the entirety of the Orthodox Church in this country) seems to me to be mostly apolitical.  Vote or not vote in good conscience.  Just because moral issues have become political does not mean that we need to be politicized by them.

Right, but when church leaders feel they have to step into the political arena in order to “make things right” it can get confusing for the foot soldiers.  How do you feel about the Right To Life marching that goes on every year?  Marching around in protest is definitely a political maneuver and I understand Metropolitan Jonah makes a point of involving himself in it not as a private individual but in his official capacity.  I don’t know what to make of that.

It can and does get confusing. Right To Life is a political movement, and is definitely not Orthodox. However, both the Church and Right To Life see abortion as an unacceptable practice. Why not work towards common goals, such as ceasing the genocide of innocent children? It doesn't mean we have to be lock-step with them and their members on every issue. I'm certainly not. By His Beatitude representing the Church at their March for Life, he is saying the Orthodox Church categorically denies abortion as a standard, causal practice. That doesn't mean we accept their whole political agenda carte blache, nor should we. It is unfortunate that abortion has become a political issue, as it never has been for the Church, but rather it has always been a matter of our faith to uphold the sanctity of human life, the gift of Creation, given by our Lord. This affirmation existed long before Republicans and Democrats, before the founding of the United States and before the rise of Europe itself, as we know it today.

When we march with them, we show that we support that cause, not because we are part of them, but because it is a matter of our ancient faith.

Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?
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« Reply #49 on: February 05, 2011, 01:55:39 PM »

Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?


Maybe this will help:
http://aggreen.net/beliefs/heaven_hell.html

Yes it does.  I’ve new ideas here and I’ll have to consider them for a while.  Thank you so much.
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« Reply #50 on: February 05, 2011, 01:58:30 PM »

There is an understanding of hell in Orthodoxy that there is no place where God is not, and that the difference between heaven and hell is how we experience God.

Thank you.  Does every Orthodox Christian have that understanding or is it allowable to think of heaven and hell in other ways?

I think you naturally will tend toward this just by using the prayers of the Church.  The Trisagion Prayers, for example, include this:

"O Heavenly King, O Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, Who art in all places and fillest all things, Treasury of good things and Giver of Life, come and dwell in us and cleanse us from every stain, and save our souls O Gracious Lord."

I think it's pretty hard to pray that prayer ever day and at ever service and not believe God is, in fact, everywhere present and filling all things.

I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.
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« Reply #51 on: February 05, 2011, 02:36:06 PM »

Quote
Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?

Yes. I share them. If Metropolitan Jonah (my primate) began endorsing and supporting certain politicians or political parties, I would be very concerned, because that does wrap our church into the political landscape, where it does not belong.

However, to stand in solidarity with an organization on a single issue, which again is not for us a political issue but a religious one, I see that it may become a slippery slope, but as long as it remains just that, I don't see an issue.

Quote
I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.

No, it sounds like panentheism, which is Orthodox, when understood correctly. God is not all things, but rather He fills all things. Creation is meant to be filled with the glory of God, understood in Orthodoxy as His energies, which is understood, per the work of St. Gregory Palamas, as God. God is also God in essence, which is His alone, and is never shared in with another. However, all things should be participatory in God's energies. This is what St. Peter meant when he wrote about us being "partakers of the divine nature". He says: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (1 Peter 1:2-4).
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« Reply #52 on: February 05, 2011, 03:24:53 PM »

Quote
Your explanation is thoughtful and I thank you for it but what I’m getting at is that once religious leaders venture into politics in their official capacity and are perceived to be doing so there is a great danger that they will not only lose credibility amongst those who might otherwise give them approval but also that they might without realizing it turn into political animals themselves.  And who amongst the electorate thinks politics is a noble occupation?  Do you understand my reservations?

Yes. I share them. If Metropolitan Jonah (my primate) began endorsing and supporting certain politicians or political parties, I would be very concerned, because that does wrap our church into the political landscape, where it does not belong.

However, to stand in solidarity with an organization on a single issue, which again is not for us a political issue but a religious one, I see that it may become a slippery slope, but as long as it remains just that, I don't see an issue.

Fair enough.

Quote
I guess so.  But what does “fillest all things” actually mean?  It sounds like pantheism.  That can’t be right.

No, it sounds like panentheism, which is Orthodox, when understood correctly. God is not all things, but rather He fills all things. Creation is meant to be filled with the glory of God, understood in Orthodoxy as His energies, which is understood, per the work of St. Gregory Palamas, as God. God is also God in essence, which is His alone, and is never shared in with another. However, all things should be participatory in God's energies. This is what St. Peter meant when he wrote about us being "partakers of the divine nature". He says: "Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (1 Peter 1:2-4).

That’s very engaging.  Thank you.
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« Reply #53 on: February 05, 2011, 11:29:44 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity. 

Hello,

I am late to this thread and apologize to all for going off in a tangent.

As a fellow inquirer into Orthodoxy, I am certainly not able to speak to your question about this faith.  However, this one statement of yours really stuck in my mind.  Do you REALLY believe this?  God will certainly forgive ANY transgression if one is truly contrite, I think that both the Latin and Orthodox Churches agree on this, but the once saved, always saved , no matter what I do kind of approach to God is very evangelical protestant.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?  Again, speaking from my limited knowledge of Orthodox theology, I believe that both the Latin and Orthodox believe that it is yourself, not God that damns you.  God is loving, but we are NOT, and we CHOOSE our path.  God being all love and wanting us all to be saved has nothing to do with our choices based on free will that will be the basis of our final "judgement" by Christ.

  God really does want us to succeed, but some just will not accept his offer of salvation, which includes an obligation to ACT and BEHAVE like Christ here on earth, so yes I believe that we can damn ourselves, and no orthodox church, that's small "o", teaches otherwise.  If this does not speak to the Orthodox tradition I'm sure that someone will in all kindness correct me.

Regards,
William Unland
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« Reply #54 on: February 06, 2011, 08:54:02 AM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?
In Orthodoxy, the Final Judgement has not occurred yet. It will occur after the Second Coming. So, one may ask, is it possible to 'repent' (in some way or other) after one dies, but before the Second Coming? The Church offers prayers to the dead, so the implication is that the prayers to the dead may lead to the salvation of those who, on earth, were rascally creatures.
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« Reply #55 on: February 06, 2011, 03:35:43 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

Hello,

I am late to this thread and apologize to all for going off in a tangent.

As a fellow inquirer into Orthodoxy, I am certainly not able to speak to your question about this faith.  However, this one statement of yours really stuck in my mind.  Do you REALLY believe this?  God will certainly forgive ANY transgression if one is truly contrite, I think that both the Latin and Orthodox Churches agree on this, but the once saved, always saved , no matter what I do kind of approach to God is very evangelical protestant.

If there are indeed Evangelicals with such a dismissive and disrespectful attitude toward God then I lament it.  Necessarily attendant to the doctrine of the Preservation of the Saints is the damnation of the non–Saints.  Calvinists have no problem with the idea of people outside their group being damned for all eternity.  The “Us and Them” mentality that one finds present in most areas of human endeavor is certainly noticeable in doctrinal and damnation discourses.  The question I’m struggling with is how could and why would God, as I understand Him to be, damn anybody for all eternity?  Are lesser punishments not the prerogative of merciful?

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?

Absolutely.  If God can save one sinner then He can save all of them.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Again, speaking from my limited knowledge of Orthodox theology, I believe that both the Latin and Orthodox believe that it is yourself, not God that damns you.  God is loving, but we are NOT, and we CHOOSE our path.  God being all love and wanting us all to be saved has nothing to do with our choices based on free will that will be the basis of our final "judgement" by Christ.

I’m sorry but I cannot agree with this one–size–fits–all line.  You surely must know plenty of people whose choices in life are at the very least restricted?  For whom are you speaking when you state, “…we CHOOSE our path”?  Who is “we”?  Your well–meaning pronouncements are loaded with assumptions and it is these very assumptions with which I’m grappling.

God really does want us to succeed, but some just will not accept his offer of salvation, which includes an obligation to ACT and BEHAVE like Christ here on earth, so yes I believe that we can damn ourselves, and no orthodox church, that's small "o", teaches otherwise.  If this does not speak to the Orthodox tradition I'm sure that someone will in all kindness correct me.

Regards,
William Unland

I simply don’t know how to respond to this.  I can accept somebody stating, “I believe that I can damn myself,” as it would seem reasonable to allow that everybody has the right to speak for himself or herself.  But to state that one believes that “we can damn ourselves” certainly appears to warrant a request for further details.  Can you state what might be the motivation of a person other than yourself that insisted upon consciously and purposefully damning himself or herself?

Thanks for your post.  I wish well with your inquiries and your searching.
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« Reply #56 on: February 06, 2011, 03:38:32 PM »

I want to believe that everybody gets saved in the end so I hope for that.  I can't bring myself to believe that any act or sin could warrant in the eyes of God damnation for all eternity.

If you spent your life cursing God, and "preaching" atheism, or worse, and you totally close your heart to God do you truly believe that you will not condemn yourself to damnation?
In Orthodoxy, the Final Judgement has not occurred yet. It will occur after the Second Coming. So, one may ask, is it possible to 'repent' (in some way or other) after one dies, but before the Second Coming? The Church offers prayers to the dead, so the implication is that the prayers to the dead may lead to the salvation of those who, on earth, were rascally creatures.

Is it prayers to the dead or prayers for the dead?  How far is the implication from the formal teaching of the Church?  It seems more like an inference.  If there’s a strong implication then I guess the next step would be to make it a formal teaching and then one would realistically have to consider whether there’s a place called purgatory.  I have to say that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of purgatory.
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« Reply #57 on: February 06, 2011, 03:47:13 PM »

Is it prayers to the dead or prayers for the dead?  How far is the implication from the formal teaching of the Church?  It seems more like an inference.  If there’s a strong implication then I guess the next step would be to make it a formal teaching and then one would realistically have to consider whether there’s a place called purgatory.  I have to say that I’m uncomfortable with the idea of purgatory.

While Orthodoxy prays both to the dead and for the dead, he was speaking of prayers for the dead (though we only consider them "dead" in that they are no longer on the earth, but have moved on to the afterlife--or the life after life). Some Orthodox believe that people can be saved even after death, others believe that our prayers for the dead simply makes things easier (e.g. less pain) for those who have been judged as having rejected God. Regarding purgatory, Orthodoxy doesn't believe in that idea, though some Orthodox have believed in something not too far off from it, where people go through a purging or cleansing. St. Mark of Ephesus, for example, said this:

Quote
But if souls have departed this life in faith and love, while nevertheless carrying away with themselves certain faults, whether small ones over which they have no repented at all, or great ones for which--even though they have repented over them--they did not undertake to show fruits of repentance: such souls, we believe, must be cleansed from this kind of sins, but not by means of some purgatorial fire or a definite punishment in some place (for this, as we have said, has not at all be handed down to us). But some must be cleansed in the very departure from the body, thanks only to fear, as St. Gregory the Dialogist literally shows; while others must be cleansed after the departure from the body, either while remaining in the same earthly place, before they come to worship God and are honored with the lot of the blessed, or--if their sins were more serious and bind them for a longer duration--they are kept in [hades], but not in order to remain forever in fire and torment, but as it were in prison and confinement under guard.

All such ones, we affirm, are helped by the prayers and Liturgies performed for them, with the cooperation of the Divine goodness and love for mankind. This Divine cooperation immediately disdains and remits some sins, those committed out of human weakness, as Dionysius the Great (the Areopagite) says in 'Reflections on the Mystery of Those Reposed in Faith' (In 'The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, 7, 7); while other sins, after a certain time, by righteous judgments it either likewise releases and forgives--and that completely--or lightens the responsibility for them until that final judgment. And therefore we see no necessity whatever for any other punishment or for a cleansing fire; for some are cleansed by fear, while others are devoured by gnawings of conscience with more torment than any fire, and still others are cleansed only the the very terror before the Divine Glory and the uncertainty as to what the future will be...

And so, we intreat God and believe to deliver the departed from (eternal torment), and not from any other torment or fire apart from those torments and that fire which have been proclaimed to be forever. And that, moreover, the souls of the departed are delivered by prayers from confinement in [hades], as if from a certain prison, is testified, among many others, by Theophanes the Confessor, called the Branded. ...In one of the canons for the reposed he thus prays for them: 'Deliver, O Savior, Thy slaves who are in the [hades] of tears and sighing' (Octoechos, Saturday canon for the deposed, Tone 8, Canticle 6, Glory). - St. Mark of Ephesus, First Homily on the Refutation of the Latin Chapters Concerning Purgatorial Fire
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« Reply #58 on: February 06, 2011, 04:58:54 PM »

Some Orthodox believe that people can be saved even after death, others believe that our prayers for the dead simply makes things easier (e.g. less pain) for those who have been judged as having rejected God.

Which do you believe?
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« Reply #59 on: February 06, 2011, 05:06:48 PM »

I should preface this by saying that I'm only on my way back to traditional Christianity, and not currently fully participating in Orthodoxy (confessing, communing, etc.)... however, I think I'd answer the same either way. Though I wouldn't be dogmatic about it, I hope that people can be saved even if they leave this earth having rejected God. But then I'm quite biased, since my wife passed on while in a state of completely rejecting God after having left the Orthodox Church (unless she had a deathbed re-conversion that no one knew about).
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« Reply #60 on: February 06, 2011, 05:22:12 PM »

I should preface this by saying that I'm only on my way back to traditional Christianity, and not currently fully participating in Orthodoxy (confessing, communing, etc.)... however, I think I'd answer the same either way. Though I wouldn't be dogmatic about it, I hope that people can be saved even if they leave this earth having rejected God. But then I'm quite biased, since my wife passed on while in a state of completely rejecting God after having left the Orthodox Church (unless she had a deathbed re-conversion that no one knew about).

I have the same hope.  I wish you well on your way back.
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« Reply #61 on: February 07, 2011, 11:00:59 AM »


If there are indeed Evangelicals with such a dismissive and disrespectful attitude toward God then I lament it.

Unfortunately, there are.

Absolutely.  If God can save one sinner then He can save all of them.  Nothing is impossible for God.

Absolutely. There is actually one theologeumenon (theological opinion) in Orthodoxy which states heaven and hell are different experiences of the unfettered love of God. Those who love God experience it has the fullness of His glory, the warm radiant life of Christ. Those who hate Him experience it as pain. C.S. Lewis, although he was not Orthodox himself, wrote a short story titled "The Great Divorce" which does a really good job of representing this perspective.

I’m sorry but I cannot agree with this one–size–fits–all line.  You surely must know plenty of people whose choices in life are at the very least restricted?  For whom are you speaking when you state, “…we CHOOSE our path”?  Who is “we”?  Your well–meaning pronouncements are loaded with assumptions and it is these very assumptions with which I’m grappling.

There are two commandments, Love God and love thy neighbor. How well does a person do this? Upon it hangs all of the Law and the Prophets, and surely those who do such things, even without the Gospel, are not damned, for they are following the law written upon their hearts.

I simply don’t know how to respond to this.  I can accept somebody stating, “I believe that I can damn myself,” as it would seem reasonable to allow that everybody has the right to speak for himself or herself.  But to state that one believes that “we can damn ourselves” certainly appears to warrant a request for further details.  Can you state what might be the motivation of a person other than yourself that insisted upon consciously and purposefully damning himself or herself?

"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:19-21)
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"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy
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